Evan turned 2 on June 28, concluding what will now be the 6-week period in which we celebrate all 3 kids' birthdays. With Lauren's birth on June 16, late spring/early summer became an even busier, fun time in our family life. Also, our wedding anniversary is just 3 days after Evan's birthday. Last year we celebrated our 10th with an overnight date. This year we celebrated by taking Lauren for her 2-week checkup and a brief but sweet little date at Starbucks right after with our sleeping babe in tow.
Evan's birthday was certainly a low-key affair, compared to his birthday last year (2 parties! 2 cakes! 2 families! 2 states even!) and compared to Tobin's 5th birthday bash (so many boys in our house!) in May. But it was a sweet celebration of our precious baby boy nonetheless. Mimi was still visiting and our friends Bryon and Miles came over for an afternoon playdate, followed by pizza and ice cream cone cupcakes. Evan was excited about both the pizza and the cupcakes, but ate the pizza heartily while he just kinda licked a little frosting and nibbled on a cupcake.
He got quite a few presents from loved ones near and far, including lots of the movie Cars 2 toys and gear (light-up sneakers, bike helmet) and a bigger, better Fisher-Price basketball hoop.
The transition from one to two years old is so dramatic. I was prepared for the transition after going through it with Tobin, but I think that experience also helped me appreciate it even more with Evan. Last summer, he was very much still a baby but now he's so suddenly a little boy. In a sense, I am very proud of how he's handled the transition from babyhood to toddlerhood, especially since he had to do it while simultaneously becoming a big brother. Tobin got an extra year to be my baby.
In my post marking Tobin's 5th birthday, I described Tobin as gentle. Were I to choose a word for Evan, it would be enthusiastic. He's such a joyful child. He gets so excited about everyday things like waking up, putting on his shoes to go outside, eating a snack, playing ball with Matt and Tobin. I always feel so affirmed and special, when I walk in the door and am greeted with a happy "Hey Mom!" or bring him something to eat and am given the sincerest sounding "Thank you!" "Thank you" was actually Ev's first, distinct word, which is so appropriate because as it turns out, he uses that phrase profusely.
True to form, Evan has enthusiastically embraced being a big brother. Like Tobin, he likes to kiss and hold Lauren. They're both so sweet the first time they see her each morning. Evan will run up and say "Kish bay?" ("Kiss baby?") or "Hold bay?" Increasingly he's calling her by her name and will say something that sounds like "Hi Wauren!" One of the sweetest things I've ever witnessed in my life was when he pulled my Boppy (nursing pillow) around him and said "Nurse bay?"--as in he wanted to nurse her.
This instance of sweetness particularly melted my heart because the most difficult transition Evan and I have experienced is his weaning from nursing. I was able to nurse Tobin until he was 2 1/2 and gently get him to stop nursing once I was ready, which happened to be when I was in my first trimester with Evan. But with Evan, I started the process when he was much younger, during my second trimester with Lauren. I was uncomfortable nursing him during pregnancy so I wanted to limit it, and I didn't want him to be nursing much--if at all--by the time Lauren was born; the thought of nursing a toddler and a newborn was too overwhelming for me. When I started the process a few months ago, Evan was basically nursing three times a day: morning, naptime and post-bathtime (before Matt put him to bed). With some distraction, patience and tears, we were able to get down to just one nursing session. Ultimately, I decided that Evan could keep the evening nurse as long as he wanted. Plus, it's just a special part of our day. After Matt dresses him in his pajamas, he runs to find me and he nurses for maybe 5 minutes before Matt takes him to brush his teeth and finish his bedtime routine. The brevity of the nursing session was tolerable even when it was uncomfortable during pregnancy and now it doesn't really interfere with Lauren's nursing, so it's working out well. I'm thankful for the sweet continuity it provides for both of us, now that Lauren's here and needs so much of my time. He's very curious about Lauren's frequent nursing and has even asked to "Have some?" from the breast she's not nursing on. I gently tell him "No nurse right now," and he may give me an obligatory "Why?" but then he'll happily go play with a toy and leave it be. Nursing my kids has been such a precious part of my motherhood experience, and I'm thankful Evan and I were able to reach this somewhat hard-fought, but eventually sweet, compromise. Like I said, I'm so proud of him for handling this part of growing up so well.
I don't want to give the impression that Evan has had a completely easy time welcoming Lauren. In the first couple weeks especially, he was clingy but, mercifully for me, it was Matt he clung to most. And there have been the times when he's told me to put Lauren in the swing. Or when he's run to me and asked to be held just as I'm heading to pick up a crying Lauren. I imagine things will be considerably tougher for him in the fall when both Matt and Tobin go back to school. But I'm hoping that by then Lauren's schedule will be more reliable and I can find ways to make special time for the two of us. And of course, his increasing attachment to and reliance on his dad and brother are hallmarks of growing up. There is so much joy in my heart as I watch Matt and the boys as a threesome, playing, laughing and enjoying each other. Evan is proving that he can keep up with them quite well. We think his basketball jump shot and baseball swing are quite impressive, especially in form, for a 2 year old. He pretty much tries to do anything Tobin does, including mimicking whatever sports game Tobin is playing on our Wii--everything from table tennis to disc golf to bowling.
Right as he turns two, Evan also seems to be talking more clearly everyday. As we understand it, it's fairly common for second-born children to talk less than first-borns. That wasn't really the case with Evan as he has always talked a lot--at least as much as Tobin did. It's just been harder for us to understand what he's saying. We've joked that he actually speaks Mandarin, because that's what his words sound like sometimes. We've learned to understand many of his unique pronunciations (ta = pizza, Tum = Tobin, nah = water) and lately they've been getting more conventional. For example, just in the last few days he's gone from calling Lauren "Wars" to calling her "Wauren." He's also increasing using multi-word, understandable phrases like "I hold Wauren?", "I have" and "I try." We have no doubt that our already hilarious child will be even more so as he starts talking even more clearly.
Happy birthday, Baby Boy!