Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Marshall: One Year

Happy birthday, sweet boy!




 You are officially one year old. How can I write about what that means to me and your daddy? It's a blessing to have made it through this exciting, challenging, fun year, and now we get to share a little more about who you are at twelve months old.

You are hilarious and so fun to watch. You still have these expressive eyebrows that dance around above your big blue eyes and clearly illustrate how you feel. 



I especially love watching your facial expressions when you try a bite of a new food. Uncertain at first, but without fail those eyebrows relax and you point (or, more likely, grunt and yell) for more. You also melt my heart when you smile, and not just because you have one dimple on your left cheek like your daddy. Seeing those six teeth poke out from your little grin is just too cute. Your dad and I always wondered what you'd look like with teeth, since we adored your toothless, gummy smile, and now we wonder what you'll look like with hair someday!


You barely cracked a smile the first twelve weeks of your life, and while you've certainly made up for it now, you do still have your sweet serious expression that reminds me why it's so appropriate that we gave you your daddy's middle name. You seem thoughtful, observant, maybe a little reserved in some situations. A new toy, new people, new places: you're likely to sit back and take it in or quietly work it out for yourself before really opening up. 


Despite that reserved side, you do love people. You'll hang out with anyone and love being held, up in the action with the adults. You know who all of your grandparents are, which warms my heart. While you really only see babies on occasion (MyGym classes and a few friends' birthday parties), you are learning how to play with kids your age, and I hope you'll continue to enjoy socializing. 


You love making noise, usually involving banging some sort of a stick on a flat surface, the louder the better. A wooden spoon usually lies clutched in your grasp as you crawl around our new apartment, head down if you're really determined to get somewhere quickly. You'll replace the spoon with a ball (impressive!) or other toy on occasion, and I call you peg leg because you remind me of a cartoon pirate when you hobble around that way. 


Other favorites: learning new words, though you haven't officially said any yet ("da" seems to be your word for dog, and "ata" is cat, "ee" might be tree, and "eye" might be hi), turning pages and lifting flaps in books, swinging, riding daddy's shoulders, going for walks, standing up, putting things into and taking things out of containers, pushing objects around while you crawl, being held while we dance and spin, being outside, swimming, taking baths, climbing stairs, going down slides, and more of course. You're generally easy to entertain and still seem to be pretty cool with playing by yourself, despite some bouts of clingyness this month.

These last few weeks, you've shown signs of LOTS of new knowledge! You have loved pointing for a while now, but you also proudly point to some objects if we ask you ("Where is Scout?" "Where is the dog?" "Where is Daddy?" "Where is your train?"), which also illustrates how quickly your vocabulary is growing. You also are starting to learn body parts, like belly button (your favorite!), nose, and toes. I love taking you for walks or even strolling through a grocery store and telling you about the stuff we're seeing. You really seem to love being out, no matter where we go.

Oh, and you learned to wave! Hooray! It's adorable. Of course.


Of course, we have our rough moments, too. I don't think we've officially entered tantrum territory yet, but you make your feelings known about waiting for food (our neighbors must wonder what the heck is going on at every meal when you YELL and grunt for more--we're working on it), not wanting to be put down or demanding to be picked up if you've decided you'd like to be held, and having an object taken away from you. Diaper changes are still often a battle, though I'd say they were worse last month. 

You have grown and grown and grown this month. I packed away more of your clothes (now you're almost entirely 18 month sizes) and am certain you're nearing the mid-twenties for poundage. You're a tall boy for your age, so we'll see what the charts say at your appointment this week. 

This month included our first move as a family. I'm sure you'll experience at least a few more in your lifetime, and you did great for the first one! Thanks for not unpacking everything I packed and for mostly sleeping through all the packing frenzies!

Your sleep was less than awesome this month, but we seem to be finding some better rhythms as you adjust to the new apartment. There's always something--teething, a cold, some development. We'll see if that all continues, but one wake up per night is fantastic in our books. 


I'll write another postpartum update soon, but I have been reflecting on this year, as I'm sure so many mothers do when their babies reach new milestones. I remember those terrifying few days (weeks? months?) when you were brand new, when our lives had flipped upside down and we kept telling each other we wouldn't be sad when you turned one because we would be grateful for surviving that exhausting, stressful, anxiety-ridden time. Ah, but of course I was wrong. I am thrilled (thrilled!) that you are a healthy, growing, almost-talking little boy, but I see now how quickly it will all go. I see you running through the house in your soccer cleats (ugh, please don't choose soccer; can you do baseball instead?) next week and asking to borrow our car for your first date next month and graduating from college before this summer is even over. 

I have to shake those thoughts and remind myself that for now, you are my little baby boy, and you need me and your daddy. I have this precious time with you right now, time to read only every third page in books because your little fingers can't grasp the pages yet. Time to rub your sweet, still-kind-of-bald head to help you fall asleep. Time to laugh with you as you learn to use a spoon and make a mess all over the floor. Time to see the world through your pure, wide eyes as you take in fire trucks and trees and dogs and point them out to us to make sure we see them, too. Time to help you learn to walk and talk and swim and read and love your vegetables. Time to grab your (relatively) tiny body in a bear hug without needing a reason or meeting any resistance. Time to soak up your sloppy kisses and peaceful breathing and soft skin. Time to let you play without an agenda or lesson plan or intention other than hoping you'll find joy in the moment. Time to take you places we think you'll love so we can watch the wonder on your face before you snuggle into us in the Ergo and fall asleep. Time to give up trying to "get stuff done" around the house and just collapse on the floor with you to play. Time to hear you and your daddy reading or laughing or chatting and feel my heart swell because I love you both so much. 

And I know it will never be enough time, because soccer cleats and dates and graduations are waiting, but I'll do my best to breathe it all in. 

We love you more than you can imagine, and more every day, Marshall! Thank you for this beautiful first year. We are excited for the next one!

All photos are from our dear friend Sue, who kindly offered to document Marshall at one year. We absolutely love them! 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Marshall's First Delta Trip

Happy Memorial Day to you! What an absolute privilege to live in this country; I am so thankful to those who have served, especially those who gave their lives fighting for our freedom.

This weekend we braved the Memorial Day weekend traffic (which wasn't too bad) to take Marshall to the delta for his first visit. We learned a few lessons along the way, like how difficult it is to fit six adults, one baby, and two large dogs in a (relatively) tiny house on an island. Thankfully, my family generously gave us the biggest room so we could fit Marshall's Joovy and all three sleep together. But still, that many living creatures in one small place was a challenge!

Another lesson: Babies are adorable, albeit rather constrained and likely uncomfortable, in life vests. 

(We scored an infant AND toddler life vest at a consignment sale earlier this year, and I'm so thankful. They can get REALLY expensive! I highly recommend gently used life jackets--IF they are up to date with Coast Guard standards. Remember: All babies must wear vests in a boat! Safety first. :-)


Terry took Marshall into and near the water as much as possible this weekend. After several months of swim lessons (which are currently on hiatus because we moved far from the swim school), water time has really become a father-son activity for them, and it's such a joy for me to watch them play in the water together!

Here they are on a paddle board. Marshall loved to hold on to the paddle.



Marshall's official first birthday was Saturday (yes, the official one-year post is on the way, but we've been a little busy!). He had a (whole!) cupcake at his birthday party, but we opted for simple strawberries and homemade whipped cream this time around. He mostly just played with the whipped cream.

And we enjoyed a boat ride every day! Marshall got to watch his daddy, his grandma (JanJan), and his momma ski. Marshall loooooooved the boat. Lots of giggling when the wind hit him, plus he enjoyed holding the flag.

Oh, and driving.




My mom bought Marshall a little swimming pool to use on land, and she filled it with those balls you see in a ball pit. He loved it!


Good thing we had Marshall around to help us enjoy the little things, because it was SUPER windy most of the time we were there. We did attempt two ski runs, but they were less than awesome, and our time sitting outside was pretty limited because it was just too cold or blustery. Still, the delta is always relaxing, whether indoors or out, and we have some fun people to hang out with up there. 

Naturally, we also enjoyed some down time (Marshall zonked out for some looooong naps each day, so Terry and I got to read, talk with other adults, and just breathe for a bit), delicious food (grilled chicken and ribs were my favorite!), yummy drinks, and enough outdoor time to kick off the summer. We had intentions of exercising more, but we opted for two long walks the first day and a few ski runs and called it a win. 

This morning we woke up bright and early (I need to speak with my son about how 5:05 is actually not an appropriate time to wake up) and hit the road by 9:15 to attempt to beat traffic. It worked! We made it back to LA by 2:45, and Marshall even napped twice in the car. (As you might guess, he seems pretty tuckered out from his big weekend!)

This evening, we unpacked a little, strategized about how we're going to go about switching Marshall's room and our room (this week's big project), and took a long walk to get dinner. Not a bad way to end the weekend at all.

I hope your weekend was fun, relaxing, productive, or a mix of the three. Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Getting Cozy

Heeeeeey friends. I hope your week is moving along swimmingly. My parents headed out this morning, but not before spending one more hour with their grandson. Marshall is so spoiled when any of his grandparents plays with him. This weekend he gets even more time with them!

Terry headed back to work yesterday (Monday) after two weeks off for paternity leave/family bonding. It was a wonderful--albeit hectic--two weeks, and we really tried to take advantage of the time. I had hoped to make it out to Getty Villa (one spot in LA we haven't been but have always hoped to go), but now that we live less than 30 minutes away we can definitely make that happen this summer.

Speaking of where we live, I'm getting more and more comfortable here. In fact, I dozed off on the couch last night before Terry made it home from his (championship!) football game. Normally when I'm home alone (or with just Marshall), I'm a little on edge, conscious of the fact that I'm without my studly and intimidating husband. But I guess I already feel pretty cozy here!

Here are some things I love so far about our apartment:

  • We have a single-car garage (not attached to our unit, but still). We have already stored TONS of stuff in there, and there's plenty of room for more. In fact, half of our couch is in there right now because we decided to configure our living room in a way that doesn't fit the entire sectional.
  • The noise! Oddly, I grew quite accustomed to lots and lots of noise over the last ten years. Sirens, car alarms, dogs barking, traffic, helicopters...I guess I'm a city girl, because those sounds have become comforting. Our last place was pretty quiet (with the exception of some noisy neighbors), so every unfamiliar sound made me jump!
  • The laundry room and (high efficiency!) washer and dryer! Obviously.
  • The feel. This place is old and lived-in and super cozy. It has some silly character to it, like these hideous light fixtures and a door that kind of sticks when you try to open it and creaky floors. But it feels like home already.
  • The neighborhood! We're very near where we used to live, and walking distance to some of our favorite places and restaurants. Plus we're a very short drive away from some of our best friends (especially compared to where we used to be, which added at least 45 minutes!). I am already so excited to spend more time with them and ensure that Marshall knows that these friends are truly family! Bonus: Terry's commute is shorter, so we get more time with Daddy!
Clearly Scout is struggling with his adjustment.

(He's glaring at the baby in this photo, but he really is happy.)


Today I did some important things like figuring out how many walking lunges I can do in a straight line in our new place. Verdict: 6. 

Our kitchen has a huge empty space between the stove and a wall, and I need more counter space, so we're going to buy an island cart. Not this one, because it's insanely expensive. But something. And it's gotta happen soon, because even just cooking two meals in there has been a struggle with space!

But as long as this little guy is happy, I'm happy. 


Tomorrow is a normal day, no My Gym classes or anything, so I'm excited to see how Marshall and I spend our time! Definitely a walk, maybe a trip to Santa Monica for the farmers' market...who knows? 

Hope you have a lovely night!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Settling In

Well, we're all moved in, Marshall's first birthday party is over, and we're already packing for Memorial Day weekend. Talk about a crazy week (or two, or three...)!

I'll do a little recap of Marshall's birthday party once I get photos from my dad, but I still wanted to stop in to share a little about the move. I mentioned previously that my dad came down to help last Monday (he's been here over a week now!), and I cannot say enough about how helpful he was. One morning he woke up at 5 am with Marshall to let me and Terry get a little more sleep; he patched all the holes in the walls from the hangings in our old apartment; he has run to the hardware store countless times to ensure we have everything we need for the new place. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dad!

Our new place is quickly becoming more and more like home. My mom joined us in LA on Thursday, so we had even more help with watching Marshall, unpacking boxes, and making the transition. At this point, we're about 83% unpacked! Not bad for five days in the new place, and there's no way we could have done it without all the help (shocking: an eleven-month-old makes unpacking slightly more difficult). Bonus: My parents offered to put Marshall to bed last night so Terry and I could go out for dinner! First date night in what felt like forever (a lot of our outings lately have been events or parties, so it was lovely to go out just the two of us).

Some scenes from the week:

Scout loves and hates moving. He can't help but hop on all the boxes, but he can't stand the chaos and the adjustment period. He cowered in the corner of the bathroom the entire time the movers were there.

Our close friend--Jenn's mom--is an aspiring photographer and offered to take Marshall's one year photos. This photo is from Terry's phone, but the images we've seen are AMAZING!!!

Getting settled...

(The towels on the floor are protecting the carpet because of course it rained on moving day...but hooray for rain! We need it!)


Huge flub on our part: After moving in, we started realizing that maybe our bedroom (the "master") would be better for Marshall. It's tucked back away from all the noise of the kitchen and the TV, and it gets darker than the room we originally chose for Marshall. Unfortunately, that means we have to find a day or two to break down and move all the furniture again and rearrange everything. Oops.


Our first dinner in our new place (I went with steak tacos). Now we've finally unpacked our kitchen, and it's awesome to have a gas stove/oven again! Tonight we made our first homemade meal here: salad with (previously cooked and frozen) ground beef with Italian sausage, roasted sweet potatoes, cheese, black beans, plain Greek yogurt, and salsa. 

First photo in the new place!

We only lived in our last apartment for about 14 months, but we will always, always remember it as Marshall's first home. The place fills me with a million emotions (we won't officially give up the keys until the end of the month), and I am surprised to find myself a little sad to say goodbye.

As always, though, home is where my boys are.

(Terry and Marshall enjoyed their last swim lesson...for now. We'll find a new place closer to our new home soon!)


We attended a baptism and a gender reveal party this week! The theme for the latter was "Bikini or Board Shorts?" (how cute is that?), and...board shorts it is!

Boys are fun. :-) I sort of suspected I would have a boy at some point, and I'm loving every minute so far!

The rest of the week promises to be insane, too. We're spending Memorial Day waterskiing with my family (Marshall has a life vest; I can't contain my excitement), and we're also celebrating his actual first birthday on Saturday. Prepare for a super emotional post in the near future, which I shall write while openly weeping. How is he already one?! 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

This Move is Sponsored By...

This move is sponsored by...

RiteAid, for providing dozens of boxes without any notice. I walked in after calling multiple stores and stopping in a few other places, and the ladies at RiteAid took me to the back of the store so I could choose as many boxes as I wanted! Hooray for free boxes!

Chipotle and Burger City Grill, for providing much-needed sustenance today when we had already packed up the kitchen. Bonus points to both restaurants for offering online/text ordering (Chipotle's app is amazing!) so we could grab and go!


Our rental agent, for providing the keys to the apartment a WEEK early. I cannot tell you what a huge help it was to bring three loads of boxes up to the new place before we were even supposed to get in there.

Marshall likes the new kitchen!

...almost as much as Terry and I love the new LAUNDRY ROOM!



My dad, for offering (insisting) to drive down and stay the week with us. He's been a HUGE help with watching Marshall so we could pack, helping load boxes into the car and the new place, and helping us assess things we might need to do or buy as we transition. Today my dad and I sat in the car carting two loads of boxes up to the new place, fighting traffic all four times. And then he thanked me for letting him help us! Hell of a guy.

My husband, for not complaining that his two weeks off for bonding time/paternity leave with Marshall has become a moving/packing/loading extravaganza. I'm doing my very best to ensure that he and Marshall get to enjoy lots of time together, but I know it's not the way he saw these two weeks going. Today, though, they were together from sun up to sun down--hanging out at home, going to MyGym, eating three meals together, going to swim lessons. Terry took care of lunch and dinner for M and totally rocked the stay-at-home dad thing. No surprise, but I was giddy to see the two of them enjoying such a great day together.

(By the way, this is how moving happens with a baby.)

Terry is also working hard with Marshall to teach him how to use a spoon on his own. Today he managed several scoops and bites by himself! Way to go, Marshall!


I'm really hoping Friday will be a family day for the three of us, but we'll see if that ends up being the case. It's naturally going to be hectic with the move and trying to get organized for Marshall's birthday party, but I hope we can find some time to celebrate the fact that my awesome husband took time off work to hang out with his kid--that's not always possible in a lot of jobs, and it certainly wasn't easy for Terry to arrange, but I'm thrilled he did it! (Huge props to his boss and team at work for supporting family/work/life balance!)


Okay, today was a long day and tomorrow promises more of the same. Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My First Mother's Day

Today was practically perfect in every way (Mary Poppins would be proud). Terry woke up early with Marshall and let me sleep in. I woke up to find the two of them playing, one of my favorite sights.


Terry made delicious pancakes for breakfast, and we spent the morning relaxing, packing a little, and getting organized for Marshall's first birthday party this weekend. After Marshall's nap, we headed to the park for a family walk, some jogging(!), hanging on the swings, and climbing on the playground.



We even saw a little family of ducklings!


We ran a few errands and enjoyed lunch at home, and I colored my hair (those motherhood-induced greys just had to go). Then I got to open my present! Along with two very sweet cards from my boys, I received a collage of photos of Marshall and me. I absolutely LOVE it! Good job, Terry!


Then Marshall showed off some new skills: stacking his rings! Way to go, buddy!

Marshall and Scout even hung out together. Until Marshall whacked Scout on the nose with his wooden spoon. Sorry Scout.

I got to cook one of our favorite dinners: Butternut Squash Soup with Curry Condiments. Thank you, Ina. And thank you, Terry, for providing Mumm sparkling wine for me tonight!


In fact, special thanks overall to Terry for making today so absolutely wonderful!

Naturally, today offered me some time to think about motherhood, so here are my thoughts.

Motherhood is, without question, the role at which I'm best. A lot of other times in my life, I've felt I was somehow less than capable, and certainly never spectacular. I was never the best dancer growing up, and I went to high school at one of the most intense academic schools in California (I graduated with a 3.8 GPA and felt wildly inferior to my peers). I attended UCLA but seriously questioned whether they had made a mistake admitting me until I received my diploma. As a teacher, I was often told that I was good at my job, but I don't think I ever believed I was that good. Obviously, I had a lot of doubts about my abilities. I wouldn't call myself insecure (I have the world's most supportive and encouraging parents and husband who are somehow convinced I am actually great at all these things), but I viewed myself as Average Abby (Just Julie?) most of the time.

And then last year, I became a mom. Of course I had a lot of moments of insecurity there, too, and we can get into those another time. But overall, I know I'm a good mom to Marshall. I feel confident that the choices I make as a mom are ones I can stand behind. I don't doubt myself constantly the way I have in other roles. And I truly enjoy getting to be Marshall's mom, which is the best part!

As we near Marshall's one-year mark, I find myself reflecting more and more about what I've learned about motherhood. I've learned lessons in patience (with Marshall, with myself, with my husband, with well-meaning people who want to give advice), sacrifice, and loving someone more and more each day. I have grown to admire other mothers for their patience, sacrifice, and love, and I appreciate learning from other mothers whenever I get the chance. I have lots of examples of incredible mothers in my life, from my own mom to lots of friends and family who have shown me what it's all about. I can't wait to see where this journey as a mom takes me next!

Today--and this weekend as a whole--was fantastic. Marshall got to hang out with his grandparents; I got to enjoy my first Mother's Day with my wonderful husband and sweet baby boy; and I was totally spoiled with all my favorite things.
What is that face?


And an extra special happy Mother's Day to my mom! Love you, JanJan!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, moms-to-be, and moms who wish to be!