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{{This past Monday was Charlie’s second birthday, which means that it’s been an entire year since my last Charleston Michael update/letter. Well, that’s not exactly true; I’ve actually continued to write letters to Charlie on the 16th of each month, I just haven’t shared them here. I hesitated about sharing this two-year update, partly because I realize not everyone is dying to know every last detail about my son, and also because I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about putting Charlie’s life out on the internet. Ultimately—obviously—I made the decision to share it; Charlie is such a huge component of my life that it felt disingenuous, or maybe just incomplete, to leave such a big milestone off of my blog. Also, I (strangely?) enjoy reading updates about other people’s children, so perhaps you will too.}}

Dear Charleston Michael,

Happy SECOND birthday, my sweet boy! I truly cannot believe that you are already two years old; I could have sworn it was just yesterday that I held you in my arms for the first time. Before you were born, I tended to roll my eyes when I heard other parents talking about how quickly their kids were growing up; now I’m eating my words because I’m that mom, watching you grow and wishing time could stand still for just a while because you are growing up WAY too fast!

On your first birthday, I remember feeling like you were all grown up. Now, looking back, I realize you were just a baby then. Over the last twelve months you’ve learned to walk (at almost 15 months) and talk (at 19 months), you’ve discovered new favorites and developed new habits, you’ve grown from being my California Baby to my Texas Toddler, and you’ve exploded my heart with love more times than I can count.

Even though you are now a big two-year-old, and seem so old to me, I realize that you are still pretty young for your age. You are smaller than other kids, have a lot less hair (though it’s finally coming in!), are a little less independent, and simply act less mature in many ways. There’s no hurry, though, so you just take your time—I know you will catch up eventually! 

I wish there was some way for me to capture every facet of your little personhood at this age. That’s not possible, I know, but here are some things I hope to remember about my Charlie at age two.


You are generally a very happy and easygoing kid. You are curious about everything, and when we are away from home you tend to be quiet and take everything in. You are always incredibly well-behaved when others are watching you (at the gym child care, the church nursery, etc.) and I’ve never gotten a negative report on your behavior, only glowing praise. You are polite, almost always remembering to say please, thank you, bless you (after someone sneezes) and excuse me.

At home your personality is much spicier. You are loud and very active, always moving and bouncing from one thing to the next. You enjoy roughhousing and tickle fights and playing chase. You are very playful and silly in your interactions with us and are starting to understand the concept of teasing, which is so much fun.

When we’re home you are also quick to cry when you don’t get your way. You are usually pretty obedient but are growing more defiant. We are just now entering the tantrum stage and you are not afraid to let us know when you don’t get what you want, or when we are not understanding you correctly. I definitely don’t love the tantrums but recognize that they come from a place of genuine sadness and frustration. I am glad you feel comfortable expressing yourself with me, and hope that never changes.

My favorite aspect of your personality is how affectionate you are. You love to cuddle and give big bear hugs and sloppy open-mouth kisses (to people as well as stuffed animals), and you are the best at telling me you love me throughout the day—truly, “I love you Mama” are the best words a mother can hear! Along with this affection comes a sensitive spirit; you don’t like seeing others upset and get afraid when you see people cry. You are generally pretty fearless, so when something makes you afraid I pay attention.


You are way more social than either of your parents and are always eager to go somewhere where you know we’ll see other people. You quickly warm up to new situations and settings and have never cried when I’ve left you to be watched by somebody else. You are quick to form bonds with other adults, and you adore being around other kids. You think you are much bigger and older than you are and love to run around with the big kids and copy everything they do. You haven’t quite learned how to play interactively with them, but are great at playing alongside them.

Even though you aren’t the best at sharing (as in, not taking toys from others) you are usually pretty good about not getting upset when someone takes a toy from you. You’ve never been aggressive with others; for a while we thought you were trying to shove other kids, and then we realized you were just trying to give them hugs!


You were very slow in beginning to talk, which had me worried, but once you got started there was no stopping you! Now you talk constantly, naming everything you see and asking questions or making commentary as we go about our day. People frequently comment on what a big talker you are. For a while I was recording all of your new words, but after reaching more than two hundred a couple of months ago, I finally stopped. Sometimes I’m the only person who can understand what you are saying, but you have a broad vocabulary and do your best to use it. You have a lot of funny words for things, but my favorite is your word for DVDs: deebeedeebees!

You know all of the parts of your body, can (almost) count to 10 and (mostly) recite the ABC song, know nearly every animal and its corresponding noise, and can name nearly all of the items in our house. We’re still working on your colors; right now you say almost any color is blue.

You use quite a few multi-word phrases and some simple sentences (like “I want more jello please”), and when you don’t have words for an entire sentence you use gibberish to get the cadence of a full sentence. You also use filler words like “um” between phrases when you are pausing to think. You still get confused with personal pronouns, sometimes saying “help you” or “carry you” when you mean me.

You sing a lot! Your favorite song to sing is Twinkle Twinkle and you know most of the words. You’ve also been singing a song called “Special Day” but we don’t know where you first heard it or how the rest of the song goes, so we can’t help you with it!

Your latest thing is to echo everything we say, even if you don’t know what it means. You’ve also been experimenting with your vocal cords, whispering (which is cute) and doing your banshee scream (which is not so cute).


You have a lot of energy and are constantly in motion. You are a fast runner and have been experimenting with new ways to move, like hopping, spinning in circles, walking backwards, and crawling in strange positions. You are a good climber, but thankfully you haven’t tried climbing over gates or out of your crib. You are great at walking up and down stairs, and you like sliding down the stairs on your heels or your bottom. You like to dance along to songs and are good at doing the motions to familiar favorites like The Hokey Pokey. One of your favorite things to do is run around the house pushing toys (especially your airplane) or pulling them behind you.


You have a great memory and know exactly where things belong, or where they’ve gone if they are missing. It amazes me how much you pick up on my own little habits that I don’t even know I have until I see you mimicking me. You know every part of our daily routines and tell me what we should do, or what we have done throughout the day. You are good at following directions and understand much of what I say (probably more than I realize).


More than anything, you like being outdoors, running around or playing on a playground. When we are other places (like other people’s houses), you play well independently, but at home you do not play for very long by yourself and always want Mama or Daddy to play with you. Your favorite toys right now are anything with wheels, and you drive your toy trains and trucks and cars all around the house, along the furniture and up the walls and across the floors. You got a train table for your birthday and you are in love with it! (Before this table you constantly asked to play with the Lego train Daddy kept from when he was little.) You also enjoy coloring, playing catch with a blow-up ball, chasing bubbles, doing puzzles, and playing with Legos.

You are very interested in books, though you prefer flipping pages to actually sitting down while we read them to you. Sometimes you lie on your back with a book in hand and turn the pages, saying the same phrase over and over (for instance, when you read a Thomas book, with each page you repeat “Thomas says, Thomas says”). Your favorite books are always changing but right now you really like your Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss book, Brown Bear Brown Bear, No No Noah!, and your Children’s Bible. At Christmas time you wanted to read Santa Mouse every day.

Even more than playing, you like following your dad and me in the things that we do around the house. You are a great helper when I clean, mimicking all of my actions with your own toy set of cleaning supplies. You enjoy sitting on Daddy’s lap and helping him program, or joining me as I cook or fold laundry. Your biggest and favorite task is throwing trash away and you take your job very seriously.  

We had to stop giving you screen time because even though you only got to watch one show each day, you would ask for it constantly; now that you know we don’t watch TV except on special occasions, you’ve stopped asking. The same goes for our phones and iPad; you know that the only phone you are allowed to play with now is your tía’s when she visits us—this means you ask a lot for “tía’s phone” even when she isn’t with us, but you never ask to play with mine! On our road trip we let you play with the iPad, and since it was so novel to you, it kept you occupied for most of the 20-hour-drive! (Your favorite thing to do was explore the emoji keyboard.)


You aren’t a great eater, and your tastes are very fickle. There will be days when you eat almost nothing, and getting you to stay in your high chair during meal time is a constant struggle. Some foods you often like (though not always) are French fries, bananas, corn, cheese, sausage, beans, nuts, and any sort of dip (salsa, Ranch, hummus, almond butter, or ketchup). The one food you ask for the most is “apple juice” which is what you call the Odwalla smoothie you get each morning when you take your liquid vitamins. You do enjoy snacking and happily munch on cheerios, raisins, and crackers from your snack cup throughout the day. (We tried cutting this out to encourage you to eat more at meals, but it didn’t help, so now we let you snack since it’s sometimes the only food you’ll eat all day.) You’ve also become a pretty big milk drinker, and we can almost always get you to eat applesauce (the kind that comes in a pouch).

You really like ice cream and jello, but aren’t interested in most other “kid foods” like cake, chicken nuggets, pizza, or grilled cheese; generally, you prefer highly flavorful foods over bland ones, and you can tolerate a lot of spiciness. You always show interest in the food on our plates (even if you have the same food in front of you!) but take a few bits and you’re done. You’re getting better at using a fork and spoon but still do mostly finger foods.

We are STILL breastfeeding, and I can’t believe how much you love your “milkies.” (Until a few weeks ago you called nursing “mousey time”, which was adorable; now you call it “monkeys” which is not quite as cute but still pretty funny.) I try to keep our breastfeeding to nap time and night time, and if we are out and busy, you are fine with that, but as soon as we are home you ask to nurse and I haven’t gotten good at saying no. You usually prefer breastfeeding to any other activity if it’s an option, and while I enjoy having you snuggled up on my lap, it’s not always convenient and I know it’s probably not the best for either of us.


Sleeping is also still a huge challenge for us. We try to keep you on a schedule, aiming for a nap time after lunch and then getting you down around 7:00 each night. Although you are clearly tired at those times, you won’t fall asleep without breastfeeding, usually for at least thirty minutes. After I get you into your crib asleep, you almost never stay that way for more than an half an hour during the day or an hour at night; then you wake up and cry for more milkies. This means that most of your nap time is spent with me rocking you, and we have multiple attempts at getting you to bed each night. Once I go to bed, I bring you with me and you nurse off and on all night long, which means we both sleep well and usually don’t wake up until 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning. Though I love having you in bed with  us, it’s clearly not the best scenario and we keep talking about sleep training you, but it hasn’t happened yet . . .


  • Nemo and Dory: Finding Nemo and Finding Dory are really the only movies you’ve seen, and you are now obsessed with the characters.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine: this is the one show you ask for, and you love anything that has to do with Thomas.
  • Animals: you love seeing animals on our walks and got very attached to Gretel and Winnie (Grandma and Grandpa’s pets) when we visited them; you are also fascinated by our Sunnybird.
  • Ollie the Owl (the cartoon character that shares the Bible story at church)
  • Snoopy
  • Any sort of vehicle (planes, trains, trucks, lawnmowers).
  • Getting samples at Costco, even though you don’t always eat them.
  • Riding in elevators.
  • Taking showers.
  • Watching or being in the rain.
  • Listening and singing to music.
  • Getting a Buddy Buck at HEB.
  • Your Monster Jammies.
  • Reading and rereading greeting cards.


  • Taking baths: ever since the scary, tear-inducing Poop-in-the-Tub incident of December, you refuse to go in the tub and will only do showers.
  • Leaving places where you are having fun (we have meltdowns almost every time).
  • Daddy having to work; you stand and cry for him at his office door.
  • Having dirty hands.
  • Things dropping to the floor when you can’t get them; I can’t count the number of meltdowns you’ve had after dropping a chip crumb from the grocery cart—it’s not about losing the item, you are upset that you have littered.


Weight: 22 pounds
Height: 31.5 inches
Clothing Size: 18 months


  • Your judicious statement of “not bad. . .” when you taste something you like.
  • Your crazy facial expressions (my favorite is the way you close your eyes and scrunch up your nose when I ask for your happy face).
  • The cute bashful shrug you make when you are trying to be persuasive.
  • Your “happy dance” of hopping between feet in a funny little waddle.
  • Your face lights up when your dad walks back into the bedroom to see us in the morning.
  • You do funny things to make yourself laugh and proclaim “it’s funny!”
  • You say every event you are looking forward to is in “a couple weeks.”

  • You optimistically said “maybe Thomas in there” every time you opened a Christmas or birthday present (because the first Christmas present you opened happened to be a Thomas train).
  • Your “no” script: sometimes when we tell you no to something you want, you matter-of-factly begin listing off the other things you want right then but can’t have: “no Thomas today, no tía, no playground . . .”
  • You point up to every plane you see and wave to Tío Tommy (who is a pilot).
  • You enthusiastically cry “oh no!” when something falls or breaks.
  • You tell yourself “careful” when you fall.
  • You love walking hand-in-hand with Daddy and me, having us swing you between us.
  • You always put out your hands for us to hold them to pray before we eat.

  • You cover your face with your hands when I ask you to close your eyes.
  • You insist I sing “Love You Forever” when I’m rocking you to sleep, but get upset when I try to sing it any other time.
  • Whenever we ask you where something is and you’re not sure, you point to the window and say “outside.”
  • You refer to almost everyone as “people;” for example, when we ask who you saw at church you answer “I saw people.”
  • You get SO excited whenever we spot a character you recognize on merchandise at the store.
  • You make an exaggerated surprised face whenever you hear an alarm or noise (like the oven beeping or the dryer going off).
  • You grunt and say “heeeaaavvvyy” in a strained voice when something is hard for you to do.

Charleston, I wish there were words to adequately express how deeply I love you. I am not a perfect mom, and I mess up every day, but my one hope is that you never doubt how crazy I am about you. I would love you no matter what, but your sweet, fun personality sure does make it easy. Thank you for being my favorite errand companion, my biggest source of entertainment, my most powerful teacher, and my deepest joy. I feel so blessed to be your mom!

Love Always and Forever,

Your Mama








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