I cannot believe this sweet, quirky, hilarious boy is 2 1/2 (and he is SO proud of his "new" age). Summing Charlie up in a blog post is a daunting task (especially for his doting mama), but I will try. Quick side note: Charlie's confusion over his half birthday was pretty amusing. We didn't really officially celebrate his half birthday, but wished him happy half birthday and took him out for a celebratory brunch. After Evie's first birthday bash, however, I think he was expecting a little more hoopla when he found out it was his "birthday" (he didn't quite understand the distinction between a real birthday and a half birthday). After we put Evie down to bed that night, we let Charlie come downstairs to play with me and Clint for a bit longer. We were walking down the stairs and he was happily speculating about the surprises that awaited him, saying "I bet there's a truck cake downstairs!" We were quickly trying to explain that one away. :) He started playing with his trucks, and then exclaimed, "I have a great idea! I think I'll have some chocolate cake while I play with my trucks!" But when we broke it to him that there really wasn't any cake, he was perfectly ok with that and seemed just delighted with his day despite the lack of sweet treats. :)
Charlie's favorites right now include:
(1) Riding in (and driving, putting on a trailer, looking at photos of, and talking about) Papa's Ranger. People who don't know Charlie can't quite understand the level of obsession, but the Ranger occupies a permanent spot in his mind. We talk about it constantly, he is always telling people about it, and it plays a huge role in his imaginary games. He frequently requests at bedtime to "ride in the Ranger tomorrow!" I SO wish we lived closer to the ranch so that he really could do that more frequently. His only small concern about the Ranger is that it will displace the old Jeep that he used to ride out at the ranch. He makes clear to Papa every time they talk that they also need to ride in the Jeep. Glad he is so loyal!
(2) Any motor vehicle, particularly garbage trucks, fire engines, dump trucks, and any construction vehicle you can think of. And songs about these trucks (sometimes our songs get "broken" just to give me a break!).
(3) Riding his scooter and tricycle. I think he could do this all day, everyday (except when a Ranger opportunity presents itself). He is frighteningly daring and will shoot down the street or a big hill at an alarming rate of speed. Luckily, we haven't had any terrible accidents, and the amount of time we spend riding on these is pretty unbelievable. Clint was so proud of Charlie the other day when he was shooting down the sidewalk and Evie ran in front of him. Instead of hitting her, he swerved out of the way and fell in the grass. We were so proud of our chivalrous little man!
(4) Playing in the sandbox. At the end of days when we don't spend time in the backyard, he often proclaims, in his most astonished voice, "we forgot to play in my sandbox today!"
(5) Playing with his matchbox cars, trains, and construction vehicles. This is primarily what Charlie plays with during the day at home. He lines them up and creates elaborate scenes and activities with them. Usually goes well, except when Evie decides she wants to chew on the wrong vehicle. Then things go south quickly, but we're working on that. :) Evie has started making truck noises recently, and it is so funny to hear them vrooming around together. :)
(6) Putting together puzzles. This one surprises me because I could never get Charlie very interested in the beginner wooden puzzles. But he got two "real" puzzles recently and he is obsessed. I love to listen to him reasoning through putting the puzzle together--we hear lots of "hmmm...I need to find part of an orange truck and part of a garbage truck..." He's pretty good at it, and it's the first thing I've found that can really get him to sit down and concentrate for a while.
(7) Football! Charlie has really enjoyed football season this year, and loves to watch as many games as possible on Saturday (we particularly like college football :). He loves to pick his favorite team and exclaims loudly over the tackling and interceptions. We have been playing our own rowdy football games at home, and he loves it. Even Evie loves being tackled, and it looks so funny to see her running for the ball when Charlie yells, "Down! Set! Hut!"
(8) Trailer hitches. Charlie notices every trailer hitch, and get very excited when he sees one and very concerned when a vehicle that could tow a trailer doesn't have one (he insisted that Papa put one on the Ranger last time we were down in Seguin). His memory for trailer hitches is remarkable. The other day, he recalled that a small black truck 3 streets away from ours didn't have a trailer hitch--and he was right!
(9) BOOKS. Charlie LOVES his books. We spend a crazy amount of time reading, and I really think he would read all day if I would do it with him. He has most of our favorite books memorized, and it is so funny to hear him reciting them. He has starting reciting them while he's playing with his toys and it sounds so funny to hear parts of Little Blue Truck while he's playing with his vehicles or The Little Engine that Could while he's playing with trains. He loves Curious George and went through a phase where he wanted to tell Curious Charlie stories (usually about Charlie and the Ranger or Charlie and the Jeep) every day. He got to where he could recite them from memory, and would say "This is Charlie. He is a good little ("yittle") boy and always very ("berry") curious. One day Papa (only Papa got to be in the story) woke Charlie up early. 'Time to get up, Charlie,' he said, 'we're going to ride in the Ranger today.'" Then Papa and Charlie would go off on some grand adventure, which usually involved them finding some exotic animals or rescuing a baby deer (I am a bit worried about what will happen when Charlie learns what really happens to the deer in La Vernia... :(.
(10) Family. Charlie LOVES his family. He talks about his grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins constantly. They are very important to him, and I just love hearing his musings about them. Several of his favorite expressions are things that he reports that "Jackson says," and he is particularly fond of doing things "just like Jackson." I am lucky that Jackson is such a sweet guy, because Charlie wants to be just like him. Charlie and Papa have a really special connection and as a result, we talk about Papa (and call Papa) all the time. In one example of his grandfather's influence, Charlie now sings Grand Old Flag every time we see an American flag. :) Clint's dad ("Pawpaw") also plays a big role in his life, and Charlie's is fascinated with the fact that Pawpaw is a BIG boy. The other day, I called Charlie "sweetie." He did not like that, telling me, "I am not a sweetie!" "Who is a sweetie?," I asked him, curious to see what he would say. "Pawpaw," he said. Then he thought about it a minute and said, "Pawpaw's a pretty big sweetie!"
Things Charlie doesn't like:
(2) Coloring. This isn't totally true--he asks to color from time to time and seems to want to, but I just cannot get him to do it for more than a second or two. We picked him up from Sunday School the other day and he proudly presented us with his art project from the morning: a Bible scene with one red crayon mark down the page. We could tell he'd really worked hard on that one. :) I feel like he COULD like art, so I need to work a little harder to get him interested.
(3) When Evie cries. It makes him so nervous (especially when it begins to interfere with his needs :). He loves it when I figure out what she needs quickly. I love hearing that relieved little "there we go!" when she calms down. He has several "go-to" fixes when Evie's upset: Mum Mums, pouches, and paci. And he's almost always right! And although their little fights are still fairly frequent, I do see him giving her a spontaneous hug or kiss from time to time and it is just so cute and genuine. He ran over to her carseat the other day and just held her hand and talked to her--makes my heart hurt! :) And although he loves to put her paci in when she's crying, he always insists that I take it out when he's being silly. He tells me, "Evie can't laugh with her paci in!"
(4) Getting dressed. Constant battle!
(5) Getting food on his clothes. This happens all the time, but for whatever reason, he likes me to clean it off quickly. Not that it stops him from taking giant "lion bites" and spilling again!
Charlie is at such an interesting, wonderful age right now. At times, he seems really old and mature to me and then, at other times, he is a very terrible two. We have great conversations, and he can be very reasonable and easy to deal with. And then, minutes later, he can dissolve into tears over something totally random (me cutting up a food that wasn't supposed to be cut up, for example), and it will take 30 minutes to get back on track. But luckily, the fun/happy Charlie has been around more frequently than crazy/irrational Charlie, so that's nice. :) On his good days, he is so easy to reason with. If he wants something that I don't want him to have, he is perfectly ok with the oh-so-ambiguous "next time" answer. Unfortunately, he is starting to remember all of my promises, so I've got to be more careful!
Charlie talks my ear off all day, and produces so many funny stories. I can't possibly recount all of them, but a few of our recent ones include:
When Charlie pitches a fit about something I'm making him do or not letting him do, I often tell him that crying/whining will not change my decision. The other day when I told him that, he stopped mid-cry and asked, perfectly seriously, "will happy change it?" I so wanted to cave!
He is trying to exert more and more control over our activities, and he's working hard to convince me to go along with his desires. When he's suggesting something that he thinks I may not agree with, he often follows up the suggestion with a very enthusiastic, "that's a good idea!" Or he sometimes cuts right to the chase, asking me, "will you please say 'yes,' mommy?" The other day, when I told him no about something, he admonished me, "don't say that mommy. No is bad manners!" [We have been discussing manners a lot lately, and there have been lots of conversations about what is good manners and what is bad manners. He is annoyed that "yeah" is bad manners and is trying to find a substitute (other than the too easy "yes" or "yes sir/ma'am"). He's been telling me that "yeah ma'am" and "uh hu" are "good manners."
Although Charlie talks well, he has some pretty funny expressions. I love the way he says "yogrit." And finishes prayers with an enthusiastic "awww-man!" And calls a car wash a "wash car." And asks "who is it" with "who it is?"
Charlie has been trying to figure out how exactly to use the word "because." He's doing pretty well, but often gets things a little mixed up. I often hear things like "I have a boo-boo because I need a band-aid." Or " it is breakable because you can't touch it." Or "my tummy hurts because I need to go to the doctor." Amuses me every time. :) He is also working on the concept of time, but hasn't quite got it down. Everything that happened in the past happened "yesterday" and everything in the future is "tomorrow" or just "yater" (later).
In another example of Charlie's take-charge personality, he loves to make decisions for Evie. When I'm putting food on her plate, he often tells me "I sink (think) that's enough" when he thinks she's gotten enough food. I also frequently hear him telling her, "no, Evie. That's just for grown-ups...and me."
Charlie has started pretending more and more in the past few months and it is so cute watching his imagination run wild. For a month or so, there was a family of baby raccoons and skunks that lived in his crib with him and we had to carefully tend to them and carry them in and out of the crib. Charlie got very agitated if you forgot you were holding them and "dropped" one. It was so cute seeing him cupping his hands and exclaiming over them: "Yook! Yook! A yittle baby raccoon! It's so cute!"
It amazes me how much Charlie has changed in the last 6 months. He is really becoming a little (big) boy, and it has been so much fun watching that transformation. I enjoy this guy so much, and love to hear his observations on things. He is so sweet, loving, and happy, and his exuberance is contagious--he can get our whole family relaxed and laughing in no time. I love hearing his sweet little "I love you Mommy!" before bed, and getting his nervous little hugs when I drop him off at school. He was going out for a boys' morning with Clint today, and as he walked off, he turned and ran back to me, saying "I forgot to get my hug!" I love that he will run and play and be as wild as possible, but then be the sweetest little cuddler when we sit down to read at night. Charlie has been such a blessing to me and to our whole family.
Here's the sweet boy in Evie's new wagon. Charlie now loves the little red wagon song, and frequently requests to go "bumping up and down" in their little red wagon. :)
In these pictures, Charlie was watching Clint entertain him and Evie by climbing our neighbors' tree. As Clint started up the tree, Charlie shouted, "Daddy, you need to take off your shoes!" Clint asked him why and he said, "Because the squirrels take the shoes off when they climb trees." Infallible logic.
These shoes are just about too small, but it is going to be so hard for me to retire them. They are SO Charlie to me. They have been up and down slides, running around the neighborhood, pedaling the trike, powering the scooter, and climbing on just about anything possible. I love how dirty and scuffed up (and smelly!) they are.
Charlie, we love you more than you can imagine. I feel like the luckiest person in the world that I get to spend my days with you!