A Half-Dozen Healys

The Adventures of Amy, Jason, Seth, Evan, Nora, and Maya

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Evan Turns Three: "Me Big Boy"

by Amy

Dear Evan,

How is it possible that I haven't updated this blog about your development in almost a year and half? How do I summarize such a long period of time? I was just re-reading the last entry I wrote, when you were only 20 months old, still not talking much. So much has changed (you talk in complete sentences now!) but so much has stayed the same (you still have that same monkey grin!). A lot of things have happened in our lives since then, both good and bad. When you turned two, we were in a fog. Now that you're three, our lives are even busier.

But that time that went by, that matters. And what you did during that time matters. However imperfect or incomplete this recollection might be, it is important to remember you how you were then, and how you are now. I want you to always remember the way my hand feels cool against your forehead when you're sick. I want to always remember the way you fight against every perceived injustice, but then in the next second love with such open arms. I want you to remember that you mattered then, during that hard time, and you matter now. You will always matter.

Love, Mommy

Since Evan turned 20 months old, his remarkable spirit and energy continued to be evident in his personality. Back then, Evan was so busy and always had an agenda. He knew what he wanted to be doing, and what he did not want to be doing! If you were helping him out, he loved you, but if you were getting in his way, you better watch out! Evan was a big user of baby signs, especially the signs for more and milk. We had always been a little concerned that his speech was not developing as quickly as Seth's was, but wanted to be careful not to compare the kids too much. However, by the time he was around 22 months old, we were concerned enough about his lack of speech development (he had fewer than 10 words at that point), that we spoke with the pediatrician about a possible speech evaluation. We ended up self-referring him to Birth to Three, and set up a speech evaluation for just after his second birthday.

The whole process of going through Evan's speech difficulties was definitely made easier by my experience working in the public schools. It was helpful to know that the earlier we got him some help, the easier it would be for him to make strides. We didn't feel scared, but we wanted to make sure he got the help he needed. We felt like when we got him the evaluation he was just starting to get frustrated, screaming when he couldn't say what he wanted.

He always had great receptive vocabulary. He could understand what we were saying to him and follow multi-step directions. It was his expressive vocabulary that was causing him difficulty, not being able to say what he wanted to say. The evaluation from Birth to Three was very thorough, and despite his deficits in expressive language, he did not quality for services based on his excellent receptive language. We were prepared for this, as our pediatrician had warned us this might happen. The clinicians did suggest that Evan would benefit from some speech therapy, and that we should investigate if our health insurance covered speech therapy. It did, and we were lucky enough to find a wonderful speech therapist nearby in Agawam, MA. So, in February, when he was just a little over two years old, Evan started meeting with Valerie.

The speech therapy Evan had with Valerie until he was just about two-and-a-half was just what he needed! She was wonderful, and I think it was the combination of the one-on-one therapy and him just getting a little older that came together just perfectly. We felt it was so important to address this before the twins were born and things got crazy, and we are so glad we did. When Evan started therapy, he had fewer than ten words, and he consistently left the ending sounds off his words. Valerie's therapy was play-based, and Evan loved going to meet with her. He enjoyed playing with the farm, the cars, bubbles, and "dough" (play dough). He worked so hard - he would sit in his little wooden chair with the desk top across the front and play. Of course, he was resistant to the therapy when he was done playing, but as time went by, he began to acquire more and more words, to pronounce them more intelligibly, to string words together to make sentences. Valerie taught us activities to do with Evan at home, and they seemed to help.

By the time Evan turned two-and-a-half, he had made so much progress with his speech that we all decided to take the summer off, to give him some time on his own to see if he would start putting ending sounds on his words (still saying "ma" instead of "milk", etc.). And it worked! By the time we checked in with Valerie in the fall, Evan had made so much more progress it was incredible! We decided to take him back to Valerie in November for a final evaluation to see if he needed more therapy, and it turned out he was pretty close to age appropriate and did not need therapy anymore. At his three-year check-up last week, his pediatrician didn't even think we needed to do a speech screening through the town pre-school. We marvel at everything he says now, how he doesn't get frustrated by his lack of expressive language anymore, and just how much more he can say. We are so happy we got him this help early on and that he has basically caught up to his peers.

During my pregnancy with the twins, when Evan was two to two-and-a-half, it was hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I just couldn't pick him up and play with him the way I wanted to. He was so active and always on the move. I felt guilty about not being able to interact with both boys the way I wanted to, but especially about Evan, since Seth was old enough to sit quietly with me and read or do quiet activities, whereas Evan was not. For me, I felt like I had to grieve for my lack of direct involvement in that period of time in his development. I knew that my most important job was to take care of myself and our two baby girls, and that was crucial for the well-being of our entire family. However, it is hard to reason with my Mommy guilt. Jason was incredible with both boys during that time, doing much of their physical care by himself. We had amazing help from our mothers, from Auntie Kara and Auntie Carolyn, and from the wonderful staff of our daycare (Kelly, Liz, Barbara), who went above and beyond to help us. I still believe to this day without all the help we received, I wouldn't have been able to carry our babies full-term. I can't say how grateful I am for this blessing.

As a result of this hiatus in my hands-on involvement with Evan, after the babies were born and I was recovered from the C-section, I really felt like I was getting to know Evan all over again. He was two-and-a-half, could speak in sentences, and was so much fun to play with. Once the craziness of moving to our new (wonderful!) house was over, and we were established in our summer routine with Liz (the extraordinary!) helping me with the kids during the day, I was so excited to wake up each morning and spend time with all my children, especially to get back into the groove with Seth and Evan. When the babies were napping in their swings and Liz was watching them, I could spend time with the boys. However, it soon became clear that both boys really wanted my attention, and they would basically fight over it instead of all enjoying our time together. So we devised a system where we would trade off and each boy would get "special time" with me while Liz played with the other boy and watched the babies.

This system worked very well over the summer, and really allowed me to be in touch with who Evan was as a little boy. He was so excited over "special time with Mama!" Evan is a typical toddler who loves his routines, and he would want to do the same thing during our special time sessions for days or weeks at a time. For a while, it was playing upstairs on the landing with "Seth's games" (Orchard, Chutes and Ladders). Then for a while I would walk with him while he rode his tricycle and pretended to ride to "Dunkin Donuts and gymnastics and swimming lessons." Evan's little personality continued to develop over the summer. With Liz's help, he took swimming lessons, and we took him to gymnastics class.

Most days he would go enthusiastically, though some days he wanted to "go later." Evan always wants to do whatever Seth wants to do, and if Seth allows him to he is joyous, but if Seth doesn't agree, he is bereft. He is still our little boy with the highest highs and the lowest lows.

We ended up deciding it was time for Evan to give up his nap at the end of the summer, when he was a little over two-and-a-half. He would have held onto the nap for a little longer, but when he napped in the afternoon, he would stay up until at least 9:00 pm at night. And he was obsessed with getting in and out of Seth's bed to turn the light on and off. He would do this repeatedly while Seth was trying to go to sleep. He would continue to do this after Seth was asleep, and would jump up and down on and around Seth. Jason had to stay upstairs in the bedroom and give Evan stern looks for hours. So, we decided that we would try taking away his nap. We found that when he didn't nap, he was tired enough at bedtime that he would just fall asleep without the antics, and this worked out better for everyone.

He was a little grumpy in the afternoons for a while, and will still fall asleep at naptime if we are in the car. But it gives he and I time to play together in the afternoons and we are all pretty much used to it.

In the fall, he started back to daycare at Tiger Den for the mornings, and we would spend the afternoons at home together with the babies. On Thursday mornings, Barbara would stay with the babies while Evan and I had our big morning out - a trip to Dunkin Donuts for a bagel with cream cheese, and then off to music class.

I am so glad we had these mornings together. We both loved them, and I think it is so important to make sure our middle child has his own solo experiences with his parents. He loved music class, repeating the same behaviors as Seth at his age. Running up with the other kids to put away toys - "Together, together, we're working together!" He was extra snuggly during this time, and I always treasured those snuggles, as Evan is not always in the mood to cuddle.

We had hoped Evan would start pre-school in the winter (Tiger School), and we all worked hard on toilet training in November and December. Though Evan made strides, he just was not ready to be in underwear. So for now, we have given toilet training a rest, and he will stay in Tiger Den, starting Tiger School next fall. He is happy, and he will still have two full years of Tiger School, as he won't start kindergarten until he is five-and-a-half. We know toilet training will happen when he is ready, and it is more important not to make it a traumatic experience.

When Evan turned two, he had a Super Why birthday party that he talked about for months. When preparing for this third birthday party, he decided he wanted to have a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party. We put up decorations which he excitedly pointed out. We had his family birthday party a week before his birthday, and he is definitely old enough to enjoy opening his gifts now! He had fun with lots of new items and loved being the center of attention. We were going to have his first friends party on his actual birthday. He had gotten to choose three friends since he was turning three, the same thing we had done with Seth (a tradition from Jason's childhood). Then we all got the stomach bug and we had to postpone the party! Poor Evan! He is so good natured that he did not realize the party was not taking place on the appointed date, though Seth was quick to point it out. We have rescheduled the party for a couple weeks from now, and we know he will be just as excited about it then.

Dear Evan,

Now you are three, and oh boy are you a big boy! You love puzzles, and we marvel at how well you can put together the 48-piece oversized Melissa and Doug puzzles on the floor. You love playing with trains, getting down low on the ground to move them and vocalizing their "Chug a chug a chug a chug a."

You were obsessed with the Polar Express for the whole holiday season. "Mama, let me tell you something....Polar Express!" until we "had" to return the movie to the library. You love to fly your Dinosaur Train around the room, and when we ask you where it's going, you say "To Highland Park!"

You still delight in repeating the same games and scripts with us over and over, as it should be. You like to make cookies with me, both in our pretend kitchen and our real kitchen, and designate which of your friends each cookie is for. You love your friends at Tiger School, especially James, and it is fun to see you further developing your little friendships. You and Seth still have so much fun together, and certainly get into your share of mischief. Let's work on toning down the screaming, okay? You love your little sisters so much. When they were born, we loved how you called them "Norna and Mayna." Now you can say their names correctly. You love to give them hugs, kisses, and toys (only specific toys for specific babies!) and have a knack at almost always identifying the babies correctly.

Now that the babies are settling into a better napping schedule up in their cribs, I look forward to lots of fun times with you in the afternoons while Seth is at school.

You are a jokester, always happy to share a laugh. Though you don't always like to cuddle, you will always give in to your mommy's request to "huggle my buggle" and give me a big hug. You get excited when people come to visit...Grams!...Geema!...Auntie Kara!...and greet everyone at the door with a hug. You do big boy things now, like go to the dentist and get haircuts at Chessa's with Seth.

You still love to drink milk, and you are a voracious eater when you are hungry, but want nothing to do with food when you are not. You love taking baths and splashing, and you love reading the same books over and over at bedtime. When people ask you what your name is, you say E-V-A-N! You say "I" correctly more often than you say "me" incorrectly, but I still secretly think the "mes" are cute!

Evan, we see you as a joyous member of our family, but we won't forget you as an individual. We are vigilant that as a middle child you will need your own special attention, too, and please remind us if we ever forget. We love you more than we can say, Evan Kainoa Healy!

Love, Mommy

In typical update fashion, I'm going to sign off with some memorable moments I have kept track of over the past months with bullet points. While I don't have exact time stamps on them, you can track his development over time:

  • Over the summer, Evan started to enunciate "No thank you" and "Yes"
  • Evan was a messy eater over the summer, and he laughed when Seth would call him a "Hot mess." We would spell any word and he would think it spelled Hot Mess
  • Evan likes silly word play, and thinks it is funny to say "Mommy is an iPad"
  • Evan learned to say his whole name, Evan Healy
  • After he did something he was proud of, he would say "Ta da!"
  • Evan got obsessed with birthdays and thought everyday was his birthday
  • Anytime anything didn't work, he would say "Needs new batteries"
  • Very interested in being first, saying "Me first," "My turn first," "I do this first"
  • Liked to joke back and forth, we would say we would do something, he'd say "No me!"
  • As detailed in a previous post, Evan was very excited about his "Big boy bed"
  • Evan is not a baby anymore! "Me big boy"
  • Starting to put together longer sentences: "I got boo boo in my eye"
  • Just a kiss on his boo boo and he "Feels better"
  • Longer sentences: "More cold water mommy." "Put right here next mommy's phone."
  • Instead of saying "Ha ha" he says "hummus"
  • Instead of saying "Gigi" he says "Geema"
  • Very interested in Seth's fascination with jokes, he says "My joke - Dubba Dubba" (nonsense)
  • Loves silly word play, My nose is...a giggle. My nose is...a flower. Thinks this is a "Silly joke"
  • "Me sweep food off of my chair"
  • "Me have cake now mommy please"
  • In Seth's bed, turned on light, kicking, took wipes, trying to change own diaper, big poop
  • "Mommy tuck me in"
  • "Me go poddy" (potty)
  • "Good night mommy, good night babies, good night other babies"
  • Instead of calling himself E-en, he says Evan
  • Was actually scared of The Muppet Show, then he turned it into a song: "Na na doo doo me scared of muppet show"
  • Scared of gonzo
  • "Sure mom"
  • "Not today, Liz" (about swimming lessons)
  • "I don't know" (common response)
  • "Not yet"
  • "Because"
  • "Me go Zumba" (wanted to be like Liz!)
  • "Okay!"
  • "That would be great"
  • "That be the plan"
  • "Nooooo-a" (for No)
  • "Oh bother" (got this from Winnie the Pooh, said a lot, even once while throwing up in his bed!)
  • "No no, me do that"
  • "Upside backwards" (his phrase for upside down)
  • "Me do tricks"
  • "Peter raddit"
  • "Me want blue coders (covers)...no no coders"
  • Says "Jamadas" for pajamas
  • "Me fine"
  • "Here me"
  • Pooped on potty at daycare, 9/17, Pooped on potty at home 9/24, working on toilet training
  • "Me not hungry"
  • "Me no want anything"
  • "Me want nothing" (sulking phase)
  • "That a great idea"
  • Learning about knock knock jokes from Seth, "Knock knock banana"
  • Peed on toilet at home 10/13
  • "Dibber" for dinner
  • First time baking on 10/23 - pumpkin bread with Mommy and Seth
  • "Evan Kainoa Healy teacher"
  • "Go in rocket get balloon" (to get balloon he released into the sky)
  • "First....second..."
  • One time he managed to fall out of bed through the small space next to his rail, but so cute, said "me ok, me ok"
  • Starting to give time-outs for misbehaving
  • "There them go"
  • "Just in case"
  • "No thanks I'm good"
  • He and Seth made up a song on the ukelele "Mama loves me."
  • "Just..."
  • "I'm so sad" (Maya had a scratch)
  • "Together, together, we're working together" (with baby doll, in music class)
  • "Awesome job, mommy!"
  • "Put this to attach" (to attach something together)
  • "We did it!" (like in Dora)
  • "That's a good plan," with sideways arm movement
  • "Oh man!"
  • "Doopsy, sorry Seth"
  • "Pickups" (calls these blocks that go with his train set pickups because we had been talking about hiccups)
  • "I found it!" - runs to the basement door and says this every time we are going to go in the playroom
  • "There's him"
  • "Them is..."
  • "I no poop" (when he did)
  • "Let me tell you something..."
  • Obsession with Polar express
  • At his birthday when asked how old he was, holds up five fingers and says "Three olds!"
  • "But I REALLY wanted it..."
  • "Yes!" (enunciates so clearly)
  • Into answering questions with nonsense words like "Daka!"
  • loves having a "Paw Patrol dance party": "Me Chase!"
  • Plays "Maya Baby at daycare"
  • When we ask Evan to count how many of something, if it is much greater than three, he will say: "too many!"
  • "Mama, I Home"
  • "That was close!"