carmen fable: seven months

Today, Carmen is seven months old!

So far, Carmen has:
- No teeth!
- Been out of Florida (Atlanta, Georgia)
- Attended her first wedding

She is currently wearing 3-6 month clothing and has finally started to outgrow the 0-3 month clothing that I thought she would be in forever. She's sitting, albeit still a little wobbly, and has begun rocking on all fours. She is a plank master and has completely figured out army crawling and rolling across rooms. Carmen is determined to be on the move and can't stand being still or sitting in one place for too long.

So far, Carmen has eaten:
- Butternut squash
- Carrots
- Green beans
- Peas
- Pears
- Apples
- Broccoli
- Spinach
- Lentils

She takes two long naps per day and sleeps for 11-12 hours per night. She currently eats 6 ounces of formula per feeding -- but I think that's going to be increasing soon. Carmen's absolute favorite person in the world is her big brother. She lights up whenever he walks into the room! (Ethan is also 99% sure that she says "bruh bruh.")

What an amazing seven months it's been!

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when the shoe doesn't fit

Yesterday, I made a difficult decision: I pulled Ethan out of Pre-K. It was one of those difficult decisions that I had to make above Ethan and his input, which is so out of the realm of how I parent that I swear it physically ached. From his first day of school onward, I felt a feeling of dread and worry in my stomach that I tried to convince myself was normal to feel as an attached parent who had never been away from their child. While Ethan would come home having enjoyed the school experience -- he loves being part of a class -- there were concerns that I felt were legitimate and not just because it can be argued that I'm a helicopter parent. Eventually, he began to ask us questions that made it apparent his masculinity was being challenged (at age five, mind you) and these little insecurities began to fester in a way that led me to question if he was truly happy at school. He loved the idea of school, and he loved the friend he had made, and he loved the teacher and following directions and creating projects that he got to take home -- but he didn't love the chaos. Or the yelling. Or the boys who would begin simulating wrestling moves during math center while the teacher struggled to regain control of the environment. He didn't like the way some of the children would physically hit the others while the poor teacher struggled to finish reading a story. I listened intently to the input of friends that these situations are hard to avoid at this age and I looked at my friend's children's preschool photos on social media while comparing how vastly different they seemed from Ethan's experience. Something didn't sit right, however, and as I dropped him off on that last day and watched two little boys scream in his face while chaos ensued and the teachers struggled to understand why a child who wasn't in that class was dropped off there in that class, I walked to my car and sobbed. I buckled Carmen into her seat and drove us over to a small Montessori school that I had heard wonderful things about. As I sat and observed the classroom, I knew this was a better environment for Ethan.

I then went back to his school and told them it was his last day. This was difficult for me. The teacher -- oh, how my heart goes out to her -- helped me collect Ethan's art from around the classroom and place it in his backpack. I watched as he played on the rug with the friend he made and felt the lump rise in my throat as he innocently smiled at me, not knowing it was to be his last day. When I told him, there were tears. He didn't want to leave school and his initial assumption was that he had done something wrong to cause his removal. We toured his new school and I feel like that helped -- except for the fact that his new school won't have availability until January.

I am wearing cinderblocks made of guilt tied to my ankles while knowing that it was the right choice to make. Sometimes the right choices are the hardest to make. Sometimes they hurt. At nine o'clock at night, Ethan and I ate cold pizza in bed and hugged and talked about how some shoes fit better than others, even if we really like the way the shoes that are too small look.

This morning he woke up as a homeschooler again, and while most of the sadness subsided, there is still a little bit of nostalgia lingering. He misses his teacher and having assignments to complete at home to share with her. He misses being part of a class. This morning, we sank into our homeschool lessons while Carmen napped and everything fit as it used to. He was overjoyed to have his homeschool activities resume -- but the fit was still a little snug. He will be outgrowing it all as he once did already, waiting to spread his wings and try on a school that will hopefully be a better fit.

This morning, I told the barista at Starbucks that I don't know what I'm doing, and she assured me most moms don't. We are led by our need to always follow the best interest of our child. That I can do, even if it's not what makes sense to other parents of other children who aren't my own. This is our time to enjoy our family and homeschool and traveling and the holidays and then give a new school another try to be the place where the pieces fit better than they did the first time.

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the song and the story

Your first name means song and by definition your middle name is a short story. Story, the word itself, was one of my name contenders but Fable fit you better. I knew that before I knew you, back when there was only hope for you. You are here now and that hope has stuck, too. You are the song and the story that have changed our lives so very much. There is renewal in hearing your brother exclaim "good morning, sis" over your video monitor and there is restoration in the smile you flash in return. You are a soft, poetic soul and simultaneously a powerhouse of strength and determination. I'm frequently stopped so that passerby can admire your beauty and charm, and then comment on how they thought you were much younger than you are. They see tiny but me? I know better. I see fierceness and a spirit so big that you are capable of so much more than you will ever know.

Two days a week, your brother goes to school. This is an adjustment for me, as I learn to begin two days a week without posing the question "Ethan, what would you like to do today?" It is also an adjustment for me in getting to know you in the way that I got to know your brother during his infancy. Those tired mornings sitting on a rug, singing and holding and reading and playing peek-a-boo. Trying to get to know your quirks and likes and favorite songs as I did with your brother half a decade ago. And at nap time, you grow tired and nestle your head in the crook of my arm and we rock slowly on your bedroom rug until you are asleep. And with each gentle breath you take, you are breathing life back into my own lungs.

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