Our family is really piling on the milestones lately. I turned 40 on Sunday, and we celebrated in spectacular fashion, with a good old-fashioned hoe-down. And did I mention it was a surprise party? Scott wins husband of the year award for sure - he threw me the most amazing party, complete with a country band, a full barbeque (pulled pork, coleslaw, potato salad, corn, biscuits.... the works!), a ginormous cake, and ALL of my family and friends.
I did suspect that he had something planned, but I never imagined anything on such a grand scale, and it was a really incredible surprise. We had such a fun day. Some of the friends who were there were ones I hadn't seen in months, so it was wonderful to catch up with them. And the party was at a pavilion near one of the local beaches, and there was a huge field for all the kids to run around in, so they just ran and played (and danced to the band) the whole time - it was perfect.
I felt very loved, and very fortunate, and not the least bit bothered by turning 40. As someone else said to me - "40 is the new 30." I have a fantastic husband, three beautiful children, a lovely home in a great neighborhood, an amazing family and friends, and I'm strong and healthy and fit - what's not to love?
Carmine's the one in possession of the other big milestone. He's finally really starting to talk. Not sentences or anything, but he's starting to really try to form words, and imitating things we say. He actually started, funny enough, just about the time that Early Intervention came out to evaluate him. And wouldn't you know it - he doesn't qualify for services, since his language skills are coming along so nicely now.
I'm not surprised. I knew he'd talk when he was ready to talk. It wouldn't have hurt to have the EI folks to help him along a bit, but he'll be just fine on his own. He now clearly says "Daddeeeeee!" whenever he sees Scott, and is trying to say "Dante" and "Gabe." He still has to really work on the "m" sound, so he doesn't say "Mommy" nearly as often - I really have to prompt him to say it. But he can say that, and also can point to himself and say "me," which is so cute : ) He's also said "apple," "baby," and a few other things. It's getting to the point where it's hard to keep track of the words he's said - which is a good thing.
We still have to prompt him to say stuff, but I think now that he's getting the sounds and putting them together, he'll be babbling away in no time. He's definitely very visual, and watches your mouth intently when you talk, so that he can try to copy what you're doing when he trys to say the word himself. And when he's able to repeat a word back to you, he gets so excited and gives himself a round of applause.
He's also mastered the art of giving kisses. He loves to kiss his little stuffed animals, and will happily give us kisses, too, and after he kisses you, he giggles. He's so adorable, I can't stand it. He is just Mr. Personality, and attracts tons of attention everywhere he goes. I thought Dante had a lot of charisma, but Carmine puts him to shame. And that's saying something, because Dante does have a LOT of charisma.
Speaking of Dante - the third milestone belongs to him - our almost-preschool-graduate. Tomorrow is the big day, and I had been feeling very nonchalant about the whole thing. But today, as he played at the playground after school with all his friends, it hit me that this was the last time we'd be doing that with him, and the last time we'd be at that school for a long time.
We've been going there for three years - one year with Gabe, and two with Dante - and it's going to be really strange to not be there every day for dropoff and pickup. And since Dante was there for two years, he formed some especially close friendships, and he won't be seeing any of those kids next year, since they're all going to public schools and he's off to the charter school. I'm not worried about him - he does absolutely fine making new friends, and he knows a lot of kids at his new school already, since Gabe's there. But it will be a little sad to have to say goodbye to everyone tomorrow.
He's very excited, though. I know he'll miss his friends and his teachers, but he's MORE than ready for Kindergarten! He's been ready for months, actually! He gets to go visit his Kindergarten classroom Friday afternoon, and he can't wait. He's always up for new adventures and new experiences - his enthusiasm for life is infectious : )
Tomorrow's ceremony will be beyond adorable. They'll march in, do their songs, get their diplomas, and have some snacks. Cute, and a little bittersweet. My little boy is not a little boy anymore. Thankfully I still have Carmine to enjoy some baby time with.
And thankfully Dante always knows how to inject some humor into every situation. He was making cards for his teachers, and he was telling me what to write, and this was how he began one of the cards: "Miss Sheila - I like you, and thank you for cleaning up the tables after snack time."