Monday, December 11, 2017

Right Now

I should be unpacking or working or sleeping or spending quality time with my husband, but in the midst of all that I found myself thinking about the cute boys asleep in our new house and felt a sudden urge to take a second to write it all down. I want to remember how precious these young people are, and maybe a quick snapshot will do the trick.

For context, it's mid-December, 2017, and we JUST moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. Terry accepted a job offer in October, then started work soon after, flying up to work during the week while I stayed in LA with the kids. But now we're here and slowly settling in, unpacking as many boxes as we can each day and trying to make life feel normal in this new place.

Declan makes us laugh every day. He's such a bundle of joy at 14 months old, walking solidly around the house singing, "Doh doh doh," as he toddles, belly first, from room to room. Mostly, he wants to play with whatever Marshall is playing with (cue major exasperation from me as I have to run interference every time Marshall yells, "Declaaannnnn! No! We're not doing that!"), but he also loves finding small toys or objects to carry around like a treasure. He's hilarious when he's doing something he knows he shouldn't, like running away in the middle of a diaper change and giggling madly as he makes it all the way to another room. When he's happy and relaxed (especially at meal times, perhaps content with what he's eating), he sort of hums to himself and dances. Throughout the day, he'll walk up to us and burrow his head into our knees and wrap his arms around our legs in a big hug (if we bend down to hug him he gets even more cuddly!). I feel so lucky to have two cuddly boys. When Declan is grumpy (usually on his one-nap days when he's just wiped out around 4 pm), he just wants to be held, usually by mama, and I generally don't mind indulging him. He sleeps in our room at least a few hours every night, and I know those nighttime cuddles are dwindling. He can already put himself to sleep in the evenings and was sleeping through the night regularly before we moved. He's been a nighttime snuggler since day one (the night he was born, I didn't put him down until morning next day!), so I'm soaking up whatever time he wants to hang out in our room. He also loves stuffed animals and calls them all Teddy ("datty!"), picks them up, says, "Hi!" and hugs them. It just doesn't get any cuter. I always love to see what new experiences Declan will enjoy each day!

Marshall is three and a half and is such a classic toddler in so many ways--those emotions are high ALL the time and a meltdown is never far away. But when he feels calm and safe, he speaks so clearly and maturely and loves a good conversation (when he's in the mood--this kid is an introvert for sure!). He still loves reading books more than almost anything; if he hears us reading a book to Declan in another room he will drop whatever he is doing and run to listen in. It's like a magnet! These last few weeks, he's taken to sitting by himself to look through books on his own, and I doubt it'll be long before he's reading to himself for real. For now, he has several books memorized and can recite even LONG stories (a few Dr. Seuss, Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton, etc.) entirely by heart. He's always been an ultra-observant kid, and we see now that those observation skills are useful when he wants to memorize a song or book. When he hears a song he likes, you can practically see his mind working as he listens intently to each word. We have to watch what we say because he soaks it ALL up! His imagination has exploded in recent months, too, and every hour I hear a new request to play pretend ("pretend this is our house and we're baking," "pretend these are my babies," "pretend we're on an airplane!"). Unfortunately, I'm learning that I'm not great at playing with Marshall; I am much better at conversations and maybe running around outside. I love watching him play, but I just don't get that into it when he wants me to actually play an imaginative game with him. I'm working on it though. It broke my heart last month to say goodbye to his home away from home, his sweet preschool where he spent so many days learning and growing and making wonderful friends. He truly thrived there, and I hope that growth says as much about his personality than about the school, because we haven't yet found a place we love quite as much up here. This kid is a stickler for rules and is so eager to learn how the world works. I love watching him soak it all in.

I want to write more, but I need to get back to the aforementioned tasks that require my attention before these little rascals wake up in the morning!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Declan: One Year

My sweet little boy: Happy birthday! It's been one whole year since you joined our family and made our lives so much brighter.

Declan, you are an absolute joy. You smiled early in your life and simply haven’t stopped. I cannot get enough of your giggles and sweet happiness, and anyone who meets you comments on your cheerful disposition. I am so excited to watch your personality continue to grow.

Your abilities have already blown us away: You can say a few words with consistency (ball, dada, mama, more, cat, uh-oh, and maybe a couple others we haven’t picked up yet). You are starting to let go of your support to stand on your own, and the other day you took a couple steps. (I'm writing this a week late, and you're taking more steps each day!) You love putting objects into containers, and you understand that puzzle pieces belong in certain places. If we show you a trick or task (taking items out of a box, for example), you’ll copy us. You know that hats go on heads, but you can’t quite get the process to work yet.

Some of our favorite quirks: Your favorite toys are a little plastic egg from your kitchen and a specific yellow Lego piece that you always find and then carry around for hours. You regularly smuggle objects out of the house, and we only discover them once we're in the car. Tonight it was half an hour before we noticed you were holding your fork from dinner while we were at the fair down the street!

You also love being wherever Marshall is, watching his every move. You love to stand near Marshall’s bed and take his pillow off the bed in the morning while he takes his time waking up. But you're also showing plenty of frustration when Marshall won't let you play with "his" toys and when you keep getting objects swiped out of your hands because they aren't safe for you. Sorry, buddy. Soon, though.

You're in 18-month clothes, and the doctor this week informed us that you are in the 96th percentile for height! Wowza! Like your brother and daddy, though, you're pretty lean at only 75th percentile for weight. People say you look SO much like your brother, and while I of course can't deny the similarities, I also notice how much you are developing your own looks. Your eyes are much bluer, your features are quite distinct from Marshall's, and you have hair! You already got a hair cut from your aunt when we last saw them!

And that personality of yours--could it be any more fun? You are a total goofball, and you have so much fun exploring your small world. You get so proud when you try something new, make a loud noise, or get something to work (opening the oven door on your play kitchen, throwing a ball, setting an object on a table). You LOVE to listen to music and immediately start dancing and clapping when you hear a song (even soft, slow songs!). You're starting to point a lot, but we usually have no idea what you're pointing at. I am soaking up this age, but I also can't wait to see what comes next as you discover more around you.

You love food. You eat a LOT of it. You prefer finger foods to purees. When you're done eating, you throw food on the floor and/or lean so far over in your chair that we're worried you'll hurt yourself. You've recently learned to sign "more," and you generally make mealtime a delight!

Breastfeeding has been a bittersweet and humbling experience with you. This time around, I faced the challenge that I wish upon no mother: having to pump at work to supply milk for you while we were apart. Of course, the layers of stress about being away from you eight or nine hours a day combined with worry about how much milk I was pumping, how much milk to send to school for you, how to make sure I had enough “back up” supply in case it became necessary, and how to ensure you were growing and happy and healthy all weighed on me, and mostly on me alone. While your daddy did as much as he could--washing all the bottle and pump parts almost every night, encouraging me, and doing the actual feeding during the months he stayed home with you while I was already back at work--the reality is that breastfeeding and pumping are a woman’s work, and they are tough. Being away from you was heartbreaking, and I fought back a lot of tears when I had to pump instead of getting to feed you, but I hope I’ll find we’re stronger for it, somehow.

So I’ll take this little moment to pat myself on the back for all the times I pulled out my pump when I didn’t want to, for fighting through a few rounds of a serious aversion to the pump (imagine nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling for 15 minutes twice a day), for ensuring I ate and drank enough to keep my supply up. And I’ll also take this moment to acknowledge that I found pumping extremely difficult, even under the absolute best circumstances (supportive boss, private office with locking door, good milk supply). To all the mamas out there who have pumped in any circumstances, but especially in less-than-ideal situations, I am truly in awe of your tenacity and selflessness.

Well, to be honest, things could be better here. On the plus side, you nap pretty well. You generally go 60-90 minutes on the regular for each nap during the day. Nighttime sleep goes up and down, but you still wake up at least once per night, and I still usually feed you, mostly out of habit. Someday we'll work on that... The toughest part is that you often wake up suuuuuper early (4:30, 5:30...), and that's obviously a struggle. We have faith that soon enough you'll be sleeping as well as your big brother!

Declan, if we thought Marshall's first year went quickly, it was nothing compared to yours. These twelve months raced by, and we are in awe of how quickly you're becoming a toddler. You bring such joy to our family, and you make every moment a little more of an adventure as we watch you discover this world. Your beautiful smile, easygoing demeanor, snuggly morning moods, and innocent joy make us so thrilled to be your parents. Thank you for this perfect year, sweet boy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

July 2017

These quick catch up posts are the best I've got right now, but I hope they'll give us a little snapshot of what this wonderful summer entailed.

A sweet summer treat, stopping by a frozen yogurt shop on the way home from school. 

Our delightful little boy 

Terry and I got out for an evening of karaoke!

These naps in my arms are numbered, and my heart aches wondering which will be the last.

The aquarium is always fun for a hot summer day!

A rare car nap.

We spent a morning at the beach, and it was one of the highlights of my summer. Declan touched the ocean for the first time, Marshall loved splashing in the waves, and we all savored the chilly day.

Marshall asked Daddy to take him out in the deep water!

On occasion, I cook delicious, healthy, balanced meals. Other times, we have a lot of pasta.

On the day I stayed home to help Marshall get out of diapers, we agreed that he could be a superhero for the day, so I made him this Flash cape. 

Marshall learned about mosaics in class and then we found one while walking around the village!

Swim lessons for Dec were a blast this summer.

We got curtains for our bedroom, which makes it feel so much cozier.

This is how we spend most mornings, even on weekends.

Declan fell asleep holding his ball and made me laugh out loud.

Both boys love playing at their kitchen.

I did some rearranging.

I'll post some August photos soon! This summer was one of the best of our lives, and I can't help but think it's because Declan was here. We are loving this family of four lifestyle!