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.

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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.
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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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Six Months: James

James is now six months old. He is 17 pounds and 28 inches long, low end for weight and high end for height. Both he and Stella have been that way and we have no idea where they’re getting their height from, as neither side is particularly tall. DSCN3830
While we were on the mainland for Wes’ meetings, he learned how to roll from his belly to his back and was able to sit up on his own. When we left Portland for Seattle, he couldn’t do either and when we came back just five days later he was doing both. It was a little crazy. DSCN3831 He is incredibly drooly and will chew on anything he can get his hands on, his favorite are shoes. For a baby that can’t crawl, little man can really move when he sees a pair of shoes! He cut his first tooth (bottom left) and was incredibly cranky at night because of it. DSCN3833 He is so happy and smiles at everyone. Wes was carrying him around at the grocery store and said he was charming every lady that made eye contact with him. Second kids, man, they’ll take the attention wherever they can get it!DSCN3834He’s trying to pull himself up on everything, even though he has very little control once he climbs to his knees! In the span of a week we had to lower his crib from the very top to the very bottom so he wouldn’t fall out! He momentarily gets on all fours and we keep thinking that he’ll take his first crawl, but then he pushes up to his toes and tries to stand. I have a feeling he’ll be chasing Stella around and climbing after her sooner that we know!
DSCN3835 He celebrated his first Christmas and rang in his first New Year, both of which were of very little importance to him. He took his second plane ride, which he passed by sleeping because he was also suffering from a cold and general dis-ease over the new tooth. DSCN3836He slept like a champ in our hotel room but when we got back to Hawaii we had some major sleep issues and after wandering around like a zombie for a few days, I decided that we needed to make some changes. So I opened the sleep book that I never needed for Stella and set about to stop the night weaning. I tried the step-down method but that just taught him to wake up earlier than he was before! So we did some cry-it-out and he has been sleeping longer and longer and we are all so much happier now that we’re well-rested.
DSCN3838 We have started letting him have food, which he seems interested in until I give him a spoonful of baby food. I’m thinking this kid needs some baby-led weaning with actual food instead of mush and I can’t say I blame him. DSCN3839 He’s also learned to sit up and scoot around the room, and Wes was able to be there for it the very first time! He tried it in the morning and by the evening he had perfected sitting up. I would lay him on his back or belly to do something in another room and by the time I returned moments later he would be sitting up. He’s bumped his head a few times, but I love that he’s so eager to get moving. He probably just wants to steer clear of Tsunami who can’t seem to get enough of his drool!DSCN3840 Stella is starting to get a little territorial with her toys, but once we remind her that she needs to share with James she’s quick to give him another toy. We’re all working on making sure we pick up the tiny toys that we’ve grown accustom to leaving out. If he’s anything like his sister, everything will go in his mouth for the next year. DSCN3841This kids, you guys. He’s growing and getting a personality and I can’t wait to see where it takes us. In the next few months he’ll start really moving and interacting and understanding and I am so looking forward to it.
DSCN3849He’s only been around for six months but he fits right in.

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Thanksgiving

If Thanksgiving isn’t a day for wearing red lipstick and taking selfies with practically everyone who comes close to you, then I know nothing about Thanksgiving. But I do know a lot about Thanksgiving: spending time with your family and eating delicious food and drinking good wine and being thankful about all the things in your life.IMG_9457Things like: sleeping babies.
DSCN3413DSCN3408 And nieces who are growing up way too fast but also are amazing with your own kids. DSCN3469 And snuggling babies. IMG_9458 And sisters you didn’t really get to choose but love nonetheless. DSCN3474 And moms who you maybe understand and appreciate more now that you’re a mother yourself.DSCN3477And brothers who are the best even when they’re the worst.
DSCN3511 Aunties who love you. DSCN3505 And almost-sisters who can make jokes out of most anything. Coop and I went on and on about how she should look on her wedding day: something about dinosaur arms and making her ring look huge. Hilarious at the time, I assure you. DSCN3404 DSCN3451 DSCN3455 And babies who look like their dad. Wes’ favorite thing to do with the kids is to mimic their looks in photos without looking like he’s doing it on purpose. This trip finally made me realize that yes, James does take after Wes. 
IMG_9456 Nieces who are all finally old enough to play together. They made us a delicious dinner of Barbie. DSCN3470 DSCN3478 DSCN3479 DSCN3481For family from all sides who come together.
DSCN3498 For olives that fit perfectly on fingers, and grandparents who keep giving them to you. DSCN3519 For potato rolls that are so good you can’t stop eating them! 
DSCN3506 For Grandparents who will always pose for photos. DSCN3526 For uncles who teach you the coolest hand shakes. IMG_9469 IMG_9470For amazing parents, who think they aren’t featured on this blog enough. Which might be true, but only because when they’re around we’re too busy doing stuff to sit down at a computer!

Hopefully next year we’ll be closer to this group because if there’s one thing this trip reminded us, it’s that we miss the whole lot of them.

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