Saturday, December 17, 2016

Happy Holidays 2016!

Happy Holidays! I hope you're enjoying some crisp weather, some parties with people you love, and the joy of giving. We have had an eventful few weeks over here, so I thought I'd pop in to share some of our adventures!

Marshall has been really into pajamas this year, probably because my mom bought him these adorable ones:

Our little clan headed out to meet Santa on a lovely Friday at the beginning of December. We chose Santa Monica Place this year, and it was WAY better than our past experiences at The Grove! It's the same price, but you get more photos, your reservation actually means something (last year we had a reservation at The Grove and still waited for over an hour), and the crowds are way less intense! Plus, they still have a huge Christmas tree and lots of decorations for the kids to enjoy, so we were happy. Not to mention it's close to Marshall's day care and closer to our house!

Declan contentedly sat with Santa for the photo, but Marshall needed a little convincing. We tried not to push it and gave him a few minutes to get comfortable (another bonus of having no one else in line behind us!), and eventually he was willing to sit with the big guy.

He did not really understand the concept of asking Santa for what he wants this year. I had explained, though, that we give Santa cookies, so when I asked him what he's going to ask Santa for for Christmas, Marshall said, "Cookies!" Ha. Then later he decided he wanted a snowman (?), so I guess Santa is bringing him a snowman.

After our visit with Santa we hit up True Food Kitchen and called it a night. Outings like this one are pretty tiring nowadays,but our boys held up great and seemed to have fun!

Our Friendsgiving took place a little earlier than usual this year but late enough that we could dive into Christmas, too, so we decked out the kiddos in these adorable UCLA items from Heidi and Ed. Toddlers in sweatshirts are too cute! (Terry mentioned that our group--us, Katie and Corey, and Heidi and Ed--has DOUBLED since we started hanging out. WHAT?! Crazy how much has happened, but I'm so glad we're all still friends and celebrating life events and holidays together!)

Then it was time to pick out our own tree! Marshall loved all the options, but we settled for a small-ish tree. Perfect for our small-ish house.

And this guy got to put the star on top!

Another fun activity this year: making a "gingerbread man house," as Marshall calls it. Terry and I had to help make the frosting ("glue") and assemble the walls of the house, but after that Marshall took over and decorated entirely on his own. For about 45 minutes. It was a beautiful time where I just closed my eyes to the (honestly not-that-bad) mess and watched him play while I took care of some kitchen chores and Terry hung out with Declan. Thank you, Trader Joe's!

Terry has made a few fires for us, and no one appreciates them more than Scout. He parks himself in front and doesn't move until the last ember burns out.

All decorated!
(He wears his "light loader shirt" about three times a week.)

 Last night we threw the kids in the car after an early dinner and drove around our neighborhood to see Christmas lights...which was kind of a bust. I'd say one out of every ten houses had lights, and there were only a few "wow!" houses. This one was gorgeous, mostly because every inch of that huge tree was decorated. (We do live close to a neighborhood with HUGE mansions, and Terry and I had fun oohing and aahing over these crazy homes, so it wasn't a complete loss.)

After the kids were all nestled in their beds, we wrapped up our Christmas cards (and Declan's birth announcements, which are tucked inside, thanks to my brilliant friend Katie who pointed out that I did not, in fact, need to address all these twice!).
(Yep, that's our favorite hot chocolate!)

In other events, some photos from my phone to share from recent happenings:

Marshall's school invited some parents to join for the kids' usual walk to the park, and I tagged along. It was SO fun to see him at school and to see how he interacts with his friends and teachers, to watch him get all hooked up to the "walking rope," and to hear his giggles while playing. The dry day gave me this gem:

Declan and I have enjoyed some walks (though not as many as I'd like...some days it's just hard to get out of the house!) and I love stumbling upon parts of our neighborhood that have such beautiful fall scenes!

But it's definitely still California. :-)

This guy is just the best. He makes me smile every second he's awake with his wide, curious eyes and absolutely precious smile. He's taking on tummy time like a champ lately, and you can see by this photo that I'm much more interested in playing with him than in doing the laundry, so he's happy, too.

Marshall is still great with him. I think we're sort of expecting some jealousy or poor behavior, but so far, we've been pleased to see that Marshall either hangs out on his own or happily chills with his baby brother. Both are awesome.

Declan is an amazing sleeper and practices it at least 18 hours a day. He generally doesn't stay awake longer than an hour, sometimes far less. He is also getting really good at falling asleep on his own, even during the day. (He's always been great at falling asleep at night--I feed him, Terry changes his diaper and puts him back down, and the kid is out in a minute or two without any assistance.) I know it'll all change at the four month mark, but we're enjoying his sweet sleep for now!

Terry and I checked another item off our LA bucket list yesterday--the Getty Villa! We brought Declan (M was in day care), walked around for an hour, and then headed home for some Christmas to-do items, but it was such a fun outing!

Other than that, our days have been filled with the usual--reading as a family

and swim lessons

and lots of fun together! We're excited about the next week--time with friends and family and our road trip to see my parents, brother, and sister-in-law--but mostly we're just happy to get time together. 

I wish you a very happy holiday season in case I don't make it back here before the new year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Declan - Two Months

Dear Declan,

You're two months (and two days) old! And you are a CHUNK.

We'll get official stats tomorrow at the doctor (you haven't been for a checkup since you were two weeks old!), but we're pretty certain you're bigger than your brother was at this age. You've already outgrown your 0-3 and  three month clothes and are well into six month clothes!

Marshall at two months:

(By the way, funny coincidence that I took the above photo of you and then searched my photos for one of Marshall at two months and found this one in the SAME diaper at the same age! What are the chances?!)

So, as may be obvious, you're a great eater! You nurse every two hours or so, sometimes more often. You eat only on one side at a time, which is weird for me still, because your brother insisted on both sides every time. You also don't have as good of a latch as Marshall did, but it doesn't hurt me, so we're sticking with it until it becomes a problem. You have only had to take a bottle two or three times, but it has gone well, so I'm truly thankful for that! 

I'm also thankful that you don't spit up as much or as often as Marshall did. BUT you do still spit up more than the average baby. We do still have all our old burp cloths, so we're in good shape! 

You have such a sweet, mellow personality. You are a super sleepy dude (your wake time is usually 30 minutes, but sometimes you'll push it to an hour or so), but when you're awake we love making you smile (it's so easy!). You're generally content with anyone, but I will shamelessly say that you seem to smile most with me! I'm milking it for all I can while it lasts. You're also starting to coo a little bit, and sometimes I can get an almost-laugh out of you!

Your first time cheering on the Bruins!

Scout is still way more into you than he was with Marshall. He'll crawl all over you and cuddle with us while you're in our arms, so that's huge!

And you and Marshall are continuing to develop your sweet bond. Marshall loves cuddling next to you, talking to you, repeating, "Hi, Dec!" over and over again, and explaining things to you. We ask him to show you something, and he'll dive into "teacher" mode, where he'll say matter-of-factly, "So, Declan, we go like this..."

I feel so blessed to watch this relationship grow.

You and Daddy have a pretty sweet bond, too. He is the master at getting you to sleep and playing with you, reading to you, and telling you all about our world.

Our days lately start relatively early with a morning snack for you while I'm still in bed (maybe around 5:30 or 6), and then usually you'll go back to sleep for at least 45 minutes. It's perfect for allowing me time to get myself ready and get Marshall out of bed and spend some time together. Then we scramble to get out the door (the 15 minutes or so before we walk out the door are easily the most stressful of my day, but we always make it work). 

After dropping off Marshall, we often come home and cuddle on the couch or play if you're awake. We go for several walks each week, and I'm loving the longer walks where we get to explore even more of our neighborhood.

But often we end up back here:

(I still have to shove a burp cloth down my shirt to prevent let down on the other side.)

We also do a lot of this:

You still sleep a LOT. I love it because we cuddle so much (and yes, you do sleep in your co-sleeper once in awhile, when I convince myself to put you down), and I can still get a lot done around the house, so no complaints here! 

I love when you're awake, too! You love your bouncer and play mat and always give your "friends" such sweet smiles.

You do tummy time and hold your head up a bit, but honestly you don't give it too much effort. We'll get there eventually.

Recently you found your left fist and have been sucking at it more and more. Marshall sucks (only) his right thumb, so we wonder if maybe you'll suck your thumb, too, and perhaps it'll be your left.

As for sleep, you are a truly fantastic sleeper. We have you in your co-sleeper still, right next to my side of the bed. You go down for the night around the same time Marshall does--7 or 7:30--and wake up every three hours or so. You eat, Daddy changes your diaper, and you go right back to sleep on your own(!). Repeat. The longest stretch we've ever gotten from you was five hours or so, but that's rare. During the day I'm trying to follow an eat, play, sleep routine, which is hit and miss. Sometimes I give up pretty easily and just let you fall asleep while nursing. It's just too sweet.

(We use a Halo Sleep Sack with the swaddle arms, because you're already a little snug in the Miracle Blanket.)

Declan, we absolutely love your sweet, calm presence. You make us all so happy and truly light up every room with your beautiful eyes and precious smile. I can't wait to see what the next month brings!

We love you, little boy!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Another Thanksgiving on the books! We have had quite an eventful week around here. The first unusual event: My brother and sister-in-law came down for a visit for almost the entire week! They had been planning to come for an extended visit to meet Declan and spend some time with Marshall. It was so wonderful to see them!

We are all especially excited because Chris and Ashley recently announced that THEY ARE HAVING TWINS!!! Ashley is due in Spring, and I am absolutely ecstatic about becoming an aunt for the first time. We're also thrilled that Marshall and Declan will have cousins so close in age!

So, back to this week: We've been busy with lots of fun outings, little adventures, park visits, meals out, and lots of time hanging out around the house together. My parents joined the group on Wednesday, and they all stayed only two blocks away from us, so we easily packed up and walked over whenever we all wanted to hang out.

By Thursday, Terry and I were scrambling around getting ready for Thanksgiving, because we were the hosts! We handled the turkey, gravy, stuffing, and apple pie. Terry's family joined, too, so we had ten people (plus little Declan!) and plenty of food! Appetizers, salad, potatoes, yams, pumpkin pie, vegetables, and lots of wine. I was a little stressed about hosting (not to mention the fact that Marshall skipped his nap), but it all worked out wonderfully. I was also so excited to use our wedding china!

 Oh, this glorious turkey. We bought it from our local butcher, and they brined it for us ahead of time. Terry got it all prepped and threw it in the oven. And it was DELICIOUS.

I took care of the pie--my very first apple pie--a brown butter a la Martha Stewart. Plus some homemade whipped cream!

I insisted on some group photos.

Amid all the chaos of hosting, we have found some moments to slow down and enjoy our little family, too. Like this morning, when Marshall and Daddy played peekaboo with Scout. :-) 

Today, my family took Marshall for a while so Terry and I could focus on all our cleaning and tackle the pile of dishes. After a couple hours, we had a clean house and the group joined us again just in time for Marshall's nap. We all relaxed for a while and looked up Black Friday Deals online, and then after Marshall's nap we headed to Firestone Brewery for a couple drinks and appetizers. We came home for dinner, which included Marshall devouring a small slice of pie,

as well as bath, bedtime, and a bit more hanging out before my family left. 

Another awesome holiday, and lots of fun watching my family bond with Marshall and Declan all week. Hearing M's sweet little voice say, "Uncle Chris, can you play with me?" and, "Aunt Ashley, you're coming with us?" makes my heart so happy. PopPop and JanJan got lots of love, too, and we're sad to see them head back home. Luckily, Christmas is right around the corner! 

I am so thankful for my family, especially "my boys" who fill my days with noise and chaos and so much joy I sometimes wonder how it will ever be better than this. And then, somehow, the next day gets even better. For this, and for so much in my life, I am thankful. May we all enjoy a holiday season of peace and love.