Ten Months: James

James is 10 months old and so busy, which is why this is getting written closer to the 11th month than the 10th! He started out the month taking more and more unassisted steps. He wasn’t able to stand up by himself, but once he was up with the help of a chair, table, or me, he would be off. On Wes’ birthday, he finally figured out how to stand up by himself and within an hour he was trying to chase Stella around the house. That particular attempt ended in a face plant, but he’s since learned his limitations. DSCN4460He climbs anything in his path and I have to remind myself on a daily basis to watch him closely. Stella didn’t walk until she was a year old, and even when she did, she was loud. I never had to question where she was because she let out squeals as she moved around. James, though, is pretty silent, especially when doing something that he shouldn’t be doing. Like climbing on top of the kids’ picnic table. Or moving Stella’s wooden table next to the patio chairs and trying to climb them, an act that had my heart in my throat as I raced to grab him before he got distracted and fell. Something like that seems to happen on a daily, if not hourly basis.
DSCN4464 He is a sweet boy. He is constantly moving but usually stops long enough to give me a quick cuddle before moving on to the next big thing. I don’t think he’ll every snuggle as much as Stella does, so I take these hugs where I can. He gets excited to see his dad in the mornings, and some days the early wake up call is worth it to see how happy he is to see Wes. DSCN4470 He has also got quite a temper, especially when you take something from him. Bath time is especially rough because there’s only a few toys and in an enclosed space they inevitably want the same one. Once I talk Stella out of stealing whatever hot toy James has got, he will usually hand it off to her. I think about all the times my brother and I fought over every little thing and I just get exhausted, but I also think about the times we played happily together and I look forward to that. DSCN4471 After Grandma Candee left I decided that sleep training was in order so that we could all be a little more rested, but that very night he slept through the night and, with the exception of a few nights here and there, he has ever since. I hope that he has it all figured out because I don’t think I can go back to those nightly (or twice nightly) wake up calls. His naps are getting more consistent, which makes planning activities out of the house so much easier. DSCN4474 His hair has grown so much in the past few months and it looks a lot like Wes’ does when he needs a haircut. Grama Tina wants us to wait until his first birthday to cut it, which actually might happen because I have no idea when I’ll find the time to take him somewhere to get it cut. DSCN4494 He is the messiest eater, and will shove everything I put on his plate in his mouth, as if I’ll take it away if it stays there for longer than 30 seconds. Most of it ends up on his hands or in his high chair, and this makes Tsunami so happy while also driving me crazy because Tsunami now thinks she can get scraps from anyone with food. DSCN4500 He has the sweetest smile and his eyes fully light up when he grins. He’s happy to see most people and will offer up hugs to new people, just like his sister. He also has some serious separation anxiety and will scream if I leave the room for 15 seconds. Once I’m gone, however, he’s just fine. It’s when I’m in eyesight that he gets upset, screaming as if to say, How dare you put me down when you can hold me! I admit that I give in a lot and pick him up because I love the way he rests his head on my shoulder. DSCN4501 He wants what he wants and will do whatever to get it. When he hears the fridge open, he comes running (fast walking) to the kitchen, hoping to get in there before we shut the door. Same thing with the dishwasher, cabinets, front door, basically anything that opens he wants to get in. DSCN4504 He loves Tsunami and will snuggle with her when he gets tired. Tsunami loves that she gets his table scraps and so allows a certain amount of rough housing before abruptly standing up and knocking him to his butt. DSCN4507 He has seven teeth and makes a mess of his face daily, so much that I’ve just stopped trying to clean him up. But he’s the cutest messy baby ever. DSCN4509

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Grandparents in January*

My parents were in town in January and I haven’t had time to write about it because half the house was sick for most of their trip, unfortunately, and right after they left Wes started working crazy long hours six days a weeks so I am usually ready for bed as soon as I get the kids to bed. Right before my parents arrived, we thought that we would only be in Hawaii for a few more months and were preparing ourselves for a move to District Office, which would mean less hours and more time together as a family. Instead, Wes was moved to another part of the project and we barely see him and it’s been hard on all of us.

Luckily, my parents arrived his first week on the new project so I had plenty of help to get the house in a sort of order before I was on my own. We cleaned this house as much as we could with two kids running around while also fighting off whatever bug was working its way through the house. Hawaii_10750_MBB-2015-01-17 They arrived Saturday night and got straight to work with bath and story time, and then we cleaned up quickly and headed out for a very expensive date night on the other side of the island. We had a lovely time just being alone together but on the 45-minute drive home we both decided that we would never drive that far again for dinner. Hawaii_10766_MBB-2015-01-17 Hawaii_10769_MBB-2015-01-18Grampa found all the fun bits of news to show to Stella and she loved everything. I think here she’s watching a hippo chase a boat. For the rest of their trip she spent a lot of time crawling over to Grampa and requesting to “watch the hippos” before snuggling up.
IMG_0041 James got some good snuggles in, too, and learned some new tricks from Grampa, like how to pull a pillow off of his head.DSCN3919Fun times at breakfast. My dad probably has a hundred photos of me making weird faces while we eat, so I guess this was his payback.
Hawaii_10838_MBB-2015-01-19Stella took Grampa on a nature walk around our apartment and showed him all the fun stuff, like this graffiti zebra that popped up a few years ago.
Hawaii_10780_MBB-2015-01-19 Don’t worry, Grampa didn’t have all the fun. Grama got some fun times in, too. We headed to the beach on Monday morning before everyone got sick. There were about six sea turtles swimming around, which Stella loves. This was her first trip to the beach in a swimsuit with no diaper on and she was so excited to be wearing it. Amazing as it is to have a kid who can pee in the potty, getting rid of that swim diaper was a little bittersweet. Hawaii_10795_MBB-2015-01-19 Hawaii_10797_MBB-2015-01-19 Hawaii_10810_MBB-2015-01-19This was really James’ first time at the beach and, predictably, he ate as much sand as he could scoop into his mouth before I caught him. James had just started to crawl before my parents came, so going on outings like this was at once a lot more fun for him and stressful for me.
Hawaii_10825_MBB-2015-01-19 Hawaii_10831_MBB-2015-01-19 Stella had gymnastics and got to show off her skills Hawaii_10902_MBB-2015-01-20 And so did James. He started to pull himself up while my parents were here and he was cruising around the gym while Stella did her class. At least there were pads everywhere. Hawaii_10919_MBB-2015-01-20 I taught Stella how to skateboard and she loved it. It was so nice to be able to play with her outside without having to watch James and Tsunami. Hawaii_10849_MBB-2015-01-20 Hawaii_10854_MBB-2015-01-20After so much fun on the skateboard we got our bikes out. Mine had a flat tire since I hadn’t ridden in about 3 years.
Hawaii_10882_MBB-2015-01-20 Hawaii_10888_MBB-2015-01-20 James tried to walk everywhere and my dad predicted he’d be walking by the end of March. He wasn’t far off. IMG_0031Having my dad here means I get pictures of me and the kids that I don’t have to take. I loved it.
DSCN3941 And I love this kid. She’s at such a fun age. DSCN3940 DSCN3934 DSCN3932 DSCN3931 DSCN3928 Grama painted Stella’s fingers, “this pinky first” of course. IMG_0046 We went to the zoo after the eye doctor, just as the first person got sick. Totally worth it to get this photo of the kids, though. Hawaii_10943_MBB-2015-01-21 Hawaii_10924_MBB-2015-01-21 Showing off his new skill: standing at the coffee table. Hawaii_10959_MBB-2015-01-22Out for a little run. Stella talks about running with me when she gets “bigger like Mommy” so it was fun to let her run with me while Grama manned the stroller and Grampa took pictures.
Hawaii_10961_MBB-2015-01-22Wes was working some crazy hours, but still managed to get some quality time in with everyone.
Hawaii_10970_MBB-2015-01-24 We celebrated my mom’s birthday at Roy’s. Not as relaxing with two small children, but we still had a good time and got to enjoy some good food. Hawaii_10984_MBB-2015-01-25Still taking advantage of extra people around, I requested a family photo of us all dressed up.
Hawaii_10992_MBB-2015-01-25All Grama wanted for her birthday was a picture with her grandbabies. We need to work on getting them to smile for the camera.
Hawaii_10993_MBB-2015-01-25 Stella got sick the next morning and we spent the last week of their trip getting her fever down and resting. James was teething and sleeping horribly so it was a lazy lazy week. The day they had to leave, though, he actually fell asleep on Grama. This kid rarely falls asleep on me, he’s so busy, so it was a nice way to wrap up the trip for Grama. IMG_0156 A photo where everyone is smiling! I clearly have the magic touch! DSCN4031 One last picture before we buckled in for the trip to the airport. Photobombed by Grampa, naturally. This might have been my parents’ last trip to the islands before we leave so it was extra sad to say goodbye to them. I loved having them here, and so did Stella and James. The week after, though, I was just sad to be living so far away from family. IMG_0160*I’m finally catching up! I toyed with not posting anything from the past six months, but this blog is really for me and my family and I want those memories out there.

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Nine Months: James

James turned nine months old a few weeks ago and he is crazy. Non-stop all the time it seems. He is 18 pounds 15 ounces and 18 1/2″ long. It’s not a lot of growth from his 6-month check up, but still has him in the 50th percentile for height. All the moving has really thinned him out. DSCN4225 He has seven teeth now that he uses to bite everything that comes into his mouth, which sometimes includes my fingers because I am constantly having to pull random objects out – grass, dirt, pieces of food from the meal he ate an hour prior. DSCN4226 He loves food but is still having trouble keeping it in his mouth. It doesn’t matter what you have, he wants to try it, and will quickly make his way to try and steal it. Stella’s learned quickly where she can sit so he can’t reach her food! He hasn’t mastered the pincer grasp yet, just shoveling whatever food he can sweep into his hands into his mouth. Naturally, he’s a mess when he eats (I thought about changing him into a clean white onesie for his photos but this is more true to daily life) and after every berry someone will ask “What happened to his face?” because he looks like he’s got road rash. Tsunami has become accustomed to cleaning up after him and probably at her peak awfulness when mealtimes roll around. It doesn’t help that James, hands covered in food, will lean over the high chair to look for her. Tsunami happily cleans up those messy hands and thinks that she’s being fed. DSCN4234 Not he doesn’t have his share of bumps and bruises. This kid is crazy. While Wes was vacuuming, James was crawling around. Neither of us had eyes on him for a few seconds and suddenly he was crying. He bumped his lip pretty hard and there was a lot of blood. He might have been trying to stand up, or he might have just taken a header to the ground while crawling, as he sometimes does. He stands up in the bathtub and gets so excited that he falls down and I basically have a dozen heart attacks a day with this kids. DSCN4238 He has taken a few unassisted steps here and there, but after two or three he gets so excited that he starts wiggling and giggling and falls on his butt, at which point he gets frustrated and cries because crawling is for babies and he is so clearly not a baby! He crawled up the stairs for the first time when Uncle Porter was here and now every time the gate is opened, he crawls as quickly as possible to try to get upstairs. If he could walk circles downstairs (with the help of mom or dad’s hands, that is), he would do that all day. Sometimes before bath time we chase Stella around and they both lose their minds over it. I’m looking forward to letting them entertain themselves. DSCN4239 He is still a mostly-horrible (for me, that is) sleeper. It seems like we get into a groove and then he gets a tooth or a cold and everything goes back to square one. Naps are going well, but nighttime is always a guessing game on whether or not he’ll sleep all night. DSCN4242 He loves his sister and his dad and the dog and, of course, me. He likes to rest his head on Tsunami’s butt and just lay there and every time he does it I smile because he rarely stops moving. Stella likes to try to make him laugh and some things that I think she maybe shouldn’t do are the things that get him laughing the most, like grabbing him while he’s sitting next to the dog bed and rolling backwards on to it. They both laugh and he struggles to get up so I have to remind Stella to let James go and then we repeat. In the car she echoes what he says and that makes him laugh. While my brother was here I took advantage of being able to run into the post office without kids and while they were waiting in the car James started to cry. My brother said that Stella kept repeating, “It’s okay, buddy. Mama will be right back.” I know that they’ll go through a period of hating each other, but right now they love being around each other and I that makes me happy. DSCN4245 James loves to be outside and is often at either the front or back door, just looking out. We set up some water areas and sun shades in the backyard and have been spending some time out there. Naturally, he plays in Tsunami’s water bowl and tries to pick up the dead leaves from the patio. DSCN4254 He is so incredibly happy and friendly, just like Stella was. Unlike Stella, though, he’s got some separation anxiety. He will smile at pretty much everybody, but when I leave him alone he has a minor meltdown. He will calm down, but when I come back in his field of vision he starts crying because he realizes he could be with me but isn’t. It’s simultaneously awesome and annoying to be loved so much. 
DSCN4260 He has his dad’s crazy hair and his blue eyes and my ability to tan easily and I wouldn’t change one thing about him. Well, okay, I’d make him a better sleeper. DSC_7865

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Eight Months: James

James is eight months old. He is still incredibly happy and I love his smile when he sees me, or Wes, or Stella. He’s been waking up before Stella these days, so I will open her door and he comes crawling in and both of them are so excited to see the other one. Stella stays in her crib to “play with him” while he pulls himself up on the bars and for a minute I can just relax because I don’t have to worry about her pulling him into a bear hug that rolls them both backwards. DSCN4102DSCN4104

He now has five teeth and is using them to bite down on everything, including but not limited to: me, Wes, the dog. And they are sharp! He loves to use them to bite into things and is interested in all food that he can find, but he hasn’t quite figured out that he doesn’t need all the pieces in his mouth at once, so I spend a lot of time digging food out of his mouth. I had forgotten how stressful this phase is, and find myself worrying about how much milk he’s getting and what types of food he should be eating and how often and if he’s going to choke on something that I give him.


DSCN4108He is crawling all over the place and recently found Tsunami’s water and food bowl, so I spend a lot of time intercepting him before he can chew on a fistful of dog food.He has figured out that the dog door is a path to the outside world, but he hasn’t quite figured out how it works so he regularly gets his arm caught in there. He also thinks that the toilet is a fun water table so I have to remind myself to close the door. He’s pulling himself up on everything and walking around the coffee table and couch. He’s even stood on his own for a few minutes before toppling over when he leans to reach something. I know that I’ll probably regret this as soon as he takes his first steps, but I’m actually looking forward to him walking.

DSCN4112DSCN4117His eyes are still bright blue and he is looking like Wes more and more. His hair is growing exactly like Wes’ does and lately I’ve been looking at James and thinking, You need a hair cut! Speaking of hair, he loves to pull it. I make sure to keep my hair up when he’s around because he has some grip! Stella, however, doesn’t like to wear hers up so I’m constantly pulling his little fists off of her hair before she has too much of a breakdown.
DSCN4119 We started swim lessons this month, which he mostly hates at this point, but with as much time as we spend around the water, it’s a must. The first time we took him to the kiddie pool, he just started crawling in, no matter that it kept getting deeper and deeper! DSCN4125 He’s randomly sleeping through the night and when I wake up after a full night’s sleep I feel like I’ve won the lottery and spend the entire day trying to recreate the previous day so that he’ll sleep through the night. I know that once a night for this age isn’t horrible, but it’s still rough to have your sleep broken up like that. Stella definitely spoiled us for sleeping kids. I remember a friend telling me that her son was still waking up to nurse at 4am every day when he was about James’ age and I thought to myself Oh, hell no. I still think that every time I hear his cry in the middle of the night, but also enjoy that uninterrupted time with him. DSCN4128 DSCN4133He is full of mischief and smiles and every day he adds more and more to our family.

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Seven Months: James

James turned seven months old a few weeks ago and he is making life crazy, in so many ways. I know that technically, he’s been closer to his first birthday than his Birth Day since December 2nd, but saying that I have seven-month old somehow makes that more real. How is it possible for the past seven months to have passed this quickly? DSCN3968 He started crawling shortly after his half birthday, and hasn’t slowed down since. Full speed ahead is basically all he knows so our days are a little crazy. He’s moves incredibly quickly for a baby. I’ll look away for a second or two and when I turn around he’ll be trying to stand up at the screen door. He definitely keeps things from getting too boring around here. DSCN3973 He’s pulling himself up on everything he possibly can, and on a few things that he shouldn’t be, so I’m constantly rushing over to keep him from falling head first onto the floor. I know, I know, kids are resilient, but if I can prevent a few head bangs when I see them coming, I’m happy to. DSCN3974 And not only is he standing up on everything, he’s trying to stand alone. He’s obviously still very wobbly, but he keeps trying. And falling. And trying again. I hope he always has such confidence that, with enough practice, he can do anything he sets his mind to. DSCN3982 I’m torn between wanting him to walk sooner rather than later, and hoping that he holds off for a while because I don’t want to have to chase down a running baby who doesn’t understand most of the words that I say to him! DSCN3983He is still incredibly smiley and I love the way his face lights up when I smile at him.  DSCN3994He’s got four teeth now, and another one is close to coming in. They are coming in fast and furious and they are making our nights a little rough. We did some sleep training and it seemed to work and he got to the point where he could put himself back to sleep in the middle of the night, but now we’re back to doing whatever I can to get him to sleep. He wakes up tugging at his ears and instead of looking like a drunk sailor about to pass out, I can tell that he needs me. And maybe some tylenol.
DSCN3997 His eyes are still blue, bluer than Stella’s. Wes always wanted blue-eyed children and before we had kids I used to ask him where he thought he was going to get these blue-eyed children because my family is brown brown brown. The only person who has blue eyes is my paternal grandmother, but my mom’s genes dominated so I didn’t think I’d have any blue gene to pass on. Now that we have two blue-eyed kids, which everyone compliments, I like to point out that I’m the reason they both have blue eyes. DSCN4006He gets into everything that can possibly be gotten into. I put out a box of baby toys and he heads straight for a pair of shoes. I hand him a piano to bang on and he pulls my hair. He’s exploring everything and doesn’t care if you want him to have something, he wants something else. He is strong-willed already.
He likes to eat whatever you’re eating. This apple in my hand? No thanks, I need that apple in Stella’s hand. I remember giving advice to friends with younger kids about eating back when Stella was just over a year old, or when James was just a few months old, but now that we’re in the food stage, it’s like I’ve never been here before. How much does he need to eat? What should I avoid? How big should the bites be? It’s all new again and I can’t wait until we’re done with this stage of things and onto eating without worrying what will upset his stomach or cause an allergic reaction or possibly make him choke.

DSCN4013He looks very much like Wes, but smiles more and already eats more vegetables than his dad (that was Wes’ joke). I could probably count on my fingers how many times I’ve slept through the night since he was born, but this kid’s demeanor when he’s awake makes it almost worth it. If he snuggled half as much as Stella did, it would be totally worth it. Love you, kiddo.

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Ode To My Mother

I found a book under James’ dresser a few days ago and it’s quickly become my favorite bedtime story, even though I just about lose my shit each time I read it. The last page is something like, “And even if I had a thousand days, I still couldn’t list all the ways I love you.” Most of the books gets me tearing up but by the time I get to that last page I want to curl up in a ball and just cry because it’s true, these kids of mine won’t ever know all the ways that I love them. And then I start thinking about my own parents, and my mom in particular and I want to cry even harder because even though I have all this love for my own children and I understand that mother love, I know that I won’t ever know all the ways that my mom loves me.

The really sad part about this is that I spent so many years not realizing this. I wanted my mom to be infallible and when she didn’t live up to my impossible expectations, I would get upset and say or do hurtful things. And then I had Stella and sometimes when I was nursing Stella before bed I would get the urge to cry just thinking about her growing up and not fitting perfectly on my chest or in my arms or not wanting to hug me or cook with me or even call me on a regular basis and that clearly got me thinking about my own mom and the many ways I probably broke her heart on a regular basis. Just watching your kids grow up and get more independent is heartbreaking enough without throwing in the ways that your kids will sometimes be assholes to you, because that’s just how people are.

After having James and talking to all the other mothers I realized that we’re not perfect, and that this shit is hard. We all struggle and we all love our children and would do anything for them but we all have our hard days. Now, more than ever, I’m so sorry that I held my mom to impossible heights. Now, more than ever, I understand how frustrating and amazing and guilt-inducing motherhood can be. Now, more than ever, I treasure my mom in ways that I couldn’t have begun to imagine before I had children.

Today is my mom’s birthday and I want to say this: I’m sorry for all the times I was an asshole. You were an amazing mother growing up, you were an amazing mother when I was in my 20s and didn’t care about anyone but myself, and you’re an amazing mom and friend and grandmother now that I have my own family. Thank you for loving me in ways that you couldn’t list in even a thousand days. I love you. DSCN3474 jamesR_0176 stella_0149

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Merry Christmas

Christmas with a two-year old is fun. Well, mostly fun. She’s not old enough to really understand a lot about Santa, and she gets easily overwhelmed with two many gifts (as we learned at her birthday party), so we didn’t go crazy with presents (we’re having trouble enough figuring out where to put the toys we already have!). I did enjoy laying out her tutu and fairy wings. DSCN3705I have been using a coffee mug that one of my best friends made for me back in high school. She painted Cinderella on the front and I love it so much. That thing has been with me through a dozen moves, three states, one dog, and two kids. Unfortunately, the handle broke off mid-wash and even though it was glued back on I kept having visions of the cup falling from my hands and burning one of the kids. Luckily, Wes was paying attention and had four new mugs waiting on Christmas morning. Now we don’t have to wash mugs after using them in order to offer our guests coffee!
DSCN3706 Wes started the cinnamon rolls, a family tradition that is delicious but lasts way too long for our small family. Next year we need to have breakfast and dinner guests to keep from gaining 10 pounds in cinnamon rolls! DSCN3709 James enjoyed bouncing and watching Wes cook while we waited for Stella to wake up. DSCN3712 That is the look of pure joy after realizing she had her own tutu and fairy wings. She insisted on wearing it before we could open any other presents. DSCN3714Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a flamingo tank top!
DSCN3721 DSCN3720 And now, time to open presents. Tattoos, of course. DSCN3732 James was happy to gnaw on wrapping paper. He’s out of his pajamas after pooping all over them. DSCN3737 DSCN3739 DSCN3741 DSCN3742 DSCN3745 DSCN3751 Stella loves the new car that James got. It’s perfect for the Creature Corner dolls her grandparents got her! DSCN3756 He might be chewing on the elephant, but he’s got his eyes on Stella’s tutu. Tulle is delicious! DSCN3758 DSCN3759 DSCN3760 Tsunami got her own treat. She did not move from this spot until it was gone. While Stella slept, I took Tsunami and James for a run and this dog was still crazy when our guests arrived. DSCN3761 DSCN3762 IMG_9825 Stella’s gift from her friend Jack. We’re planting the seed for a love connection early. DSCN3765 Not a bad family photo to end our day. DSCN3776

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