Party Time

We had Stella’s birthday party over the weekend. It was in the same location as her first birthday party, a beach down the road from our apartment that our military friends were nice enough to help us rent. I arrived before Wes and Stella did and there was a bounce house set up for another party and I felt mildly guilty that I didn’t try harder to get one for Stella’s party. But the last time she was near one she was scared of it so I didn’t put that much effort into it. Plus, she’s two years old, the beach is plenty of entertainment for her. Of course, as soon as she walked up she pointed out the bounce house and asked to jump. Multiple times over the course of the afternoon parents had to run after a toddler attempting to get some jumping in. This is a good life lesson: there’s always a better party.
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Really, though, food and games and the water was plenty for a two-year olds birthday party. We walked down to the water before guests started showing up and she found a few shells and looked for fish. There are rocks there that break the waves and make it easy to just sit in the water and relax. There are a few spots where you can actually get in the water and at one point the waves knocked Stella over while she was more focused on the rocks than on the water (another good life lesson: never turn your back on the water). We’ve been doing ISR swim lessons with her and they paid of. She immediately flipped over and started to float and I was able to scoop her up before the next wave came up. It’s nice to see that the lessons are actually working!  DSCN2604

She picked this dress out this morning and instead of forcing her to wear something that I thought was more party appropriate (that is, one that maybe isn’t sized for a 12-month old) I let her wear this one. It matches her sunglasses, so I can understand why she wanted to wear it. Also, polka dots. She loves them. DSCN2606 DSCN2609 DSCN2613

She didn’t notice the cake at first and it wasn’t until just before we ate lunch that someone pointed it out to her. After that, all she wanted was cake. We were able to hold her off and get her to eat something that didn’t have sugar as the main ingredient. Once we opened this thing up it was a quick scramble to light the candle and sing before all the toddler hands made their way in for some icing. Stella tried to eat the caterpillar’s head and one of her friends snuck in a handful of frosting while Wes was looking the other way! You cannot trust kids around sugar is another good life lesson.
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Stella basically ate all of the frosting off of her cake before moving on to maple bacon potato chips. Perhaps I should stop feeling guilty about not getting a bounce house and feel guilty that Stella’s healthiest meal today was when she had two olives for breakfast. Nope, I actually don’t feel guilty about that. Parties were made for fun and cakes and missing naps and playing games.

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We managed to sneak in one photo of the three of us. James was being passed around to all the lovely mamas who need their baby fix. Sorry buddy, we’ll get more family photos when you stop trying to flop out of our arms all the time. DSCN2659 DSCN2660And what birthday is complete without presents? Certainly not a toddler party. This kid made out like a bandit and I think we may have to move just to fit all her new loot in! She got some really fun things, though, and we are so thankful to all of our friends who came out to help celebrate. I made Stella wait until Wes got home before opening gifts so she busied herself by making dresses out of the tissue paper. For a minute it seemed like I could maybe get away with telling her that was her gift, but then she realized there was stuff wrapped in the paper. Poor kid, though, wanted to open every gift as it came out and was so sad when we asked her to keep opening gifts. I feel like there’s got to be an easier, less tear-filled way to open birthday gifts, but I haven’t discovered it yet. She didn’t actually get to play with any of them because after running around all day and skipping her nap, she was ready for bed by 6pm. Don’t worry, they were still in the same pile she left them in when she woke up on Sunday morning. Our house looks like a toy bomb exploded, but she is one happy kid.

 

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0, 1, 2: Happy Birthday, Stella

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DSCN2574Stella turned two years old this week. It was basically a weird repeat of last year (different visitors, though): Wes and I wore the same shirts to dinner at the same restaurant; I got sick the week before her birthday; and Wes left his credit card in Waikiki, just like Wiley did last year.  And this weekend we’ll have her birthday party at the same place we did last year. Everything has changed, and nothing has changed. She’s 34 3/4 inches and 26lbs 6oz. She had two vaccines, a TB shot, and a blood draw today at her two year appointment and she was a champ. A few bandaids, a snuggle, and some mints and she was fine. My mom and I tried to prep her for the shots so she kind of new what was coming.

Two years is amazing. And awful. All at the same time. She is a little sponge, soaking up every thing we tell her, and a few things we don’t tell her but say around her without remembering that she can understand. She’s speaking in full sentences, though her tenses are a little out of order and she thinks that “you” is “me” so she’s always saying, “Mama help you” when what she really means is, “Mama help me”. English is very difficult and I don’t blame her for getting confused. She thinks you is like Stella. She can count from one to three and four to nine, but not one to nine. She picked this up from watching me do planks so sometimes she’ll try to plank and yell out, “Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight! Nine!” and it’s just as adorable as it sounds. I love her toddler voice and everything she says. She’s taken to saying, “Nice to meet you,” and the way her words cut off and squeak makes me smile and also want to start crying because I know it’ll be too soon before I understand every word that comes out of her mouth and she’ll lose that toddler mumble and that is just too sad to think about. My mom was back in town this week and she reminded me that while she and my dad were here in July, Stella was constantly saying, “I got it!” I had forgotten all about that since she’s moved on to other phrases and I wanted to sit down and cry because there are so many things that I’m going to forget about her at this age. So many things that I will think are a huge part of her personality and will love, but they’ll get replaced by something else and I’ll forget about the thing before. It kills me that this is what life is like: a series of forgetting something that was once so huge.

We moved her to her new room so that James could get out of ours and into the nursery. Wes painted it a few months ago and she was pretty excited about the colors. We tried to talk to her about moving in but it was unclear how much was getting through to her. Once the new crib was in, though, and sheets were on, she was ready for her new room. The first night in she practically climbed into bed. She didn’t ask for a story and didn’t even give me a hug or a kiss goodnight. Success!

We’re working on potty training. It started when my parents were here. Well, we’ve been talking about it for a while and trying to get her used to the idea of peeing and pooping in the potty. She wasn’t too interested in it while my parents were here, but in the six weeks since they left we’ve made huge progress. I ordered a travel potty and keep that in the car and we’re actually venturing out of the house in underwear! We have a lot of success with pee, but there’s still a timing problem with poop. Hopefully by the time we go home for Thanksgiving we’ll have it all squared away, though.

She is incredibly friendly, giving hugs and kisses to pretty much everyone we know. She’s a little shy with new people, but once we introduce her (“Nice to meet you”) she’s quick to welcome them as a friend. She loves Frozen, Brave, and Yo Gabba Gabba and I fully admit that she watches a little too much television, but I don’t care. She’s smart and I can tell that she’s actually learning things from watching these movies and shows. We talk about what’s going on in the movie and I can see that translate to other parts of her life. Everything’s a learning tool if you make it one, is my motto (that I just now made up). She likes Minnie Mouse, but doesn’t care to watch her in any show or movie. She can navigate and iPad and iPhone and so we bought her an iPod for her birthday. Already she’s taken nearly 70 pictures, and probably 15 are of feet. She just gets so excited pushing that button and yelling, “Pictures! Pictures!”

We go to gymnastics, Gymboree, and swim lessons and it seems like we are always busy. Getting out of the house keeps us all sane. Sometimes I wonder if we’re doing too much but then I see Stella incorporate some skill that she’s learned and I can see that all these activities are helping her. We color and swim in the kiddie pool and take walks with Tsunami and go to the Farmers Market and make an endless amount of errands each week. We talk and talk and talk and when I try to sing she says, “No, mama, no.” And I stop because she’s right, I can’t carry a tune so why ruin the song. For the past two years she’s been with me nearly every single day and I have loved every one of those days. Even the rough days when it seems like all she does is whine about everything. She is an amazing kid and every day I have to remind myself how lucky I am to be her mom. I know that this next year (and every year after) is going to bring huge changes and I’m so ready for them. I love this age but I can’t wait to cook with her and teach her to read and write and all the other stuff that we’ll learn along the way.

Two years. What an amazing trip it’s been. Stella, I love you like frogs love flies. I love you to the moon and back. I love your hugs and your kisses and they way you slide over to me on the couch and say, “Snuggle Mama” (I love that a lot). I love your smile and your laugh. I love that you cheer for me when I’m peeing in the potty. I love how you bring me my coffee and how you make sure that you grab a mint for everyone else before taking yours. I love how you say hello to James each morning and how everything is a “little bit”. I love how you remember that Daddy painted your room and that whenever you pretend to call someone, it’s Daddy. I love how you sign “I love you” and how your voice sounds when you say it. I love how you love. Happy Birthday, Darling Stella.

 

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James: Two Months

Yesterday James turned two months old. He’s quite a bit bigger than Stella was when she was this age, but we don’t go for his two-month check up for another few weeks so I don’t know exactly how big he is. In the 13-pound range, is my guess, which Stella didn’t hit until she was 4 months old. Sometimes just looking at him I think that he should be doing more, but that’s just because of his size. Two-month olds are kind of boring.

 

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Adorable, but boring. James received his first hand made gift this month, the adorable fairy tale blanket he’s laying on in the pictures.

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He is starting to smile more and more. Sometimes when I get him from the crib he actually smiles at me. This is huge. Not only are babies boring, but they don’t recognize your face. I’m the one that feeds him and comforts him but when I go to him he looks at me like, Who the heck are you? I love the recognition in a baby’s face, and I’m finally starting to see that in James.

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He’s started to “talk” a little bit. Just some coos and goos here and there, but it’s such a fun sound. Stella was always very vocal and it looks like he might be the same way. His favorite thing is the ceiling fan. I think because of the breeze. The other morning I brought him downstairs before Wes had turned the fan on and he looked up for a minute or so before his little lip pouted out. As soon as I turned it on he was happy again. We went to the beach for the first time and he loved to be out on the blanket, just looking around and enjoying the wind. Such a welcome change from sweating in his car seat.

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With the first baby you compare them to other children their age. Stella was born within a few months of several of our friends’ kids and it was hard to not look at what she was doing in comparison to what they were doing. I wanted her to be doing what the babies a month older were doing, but a month is huge in babies. She always reached the milestones and I finally stopped looking to other kids for a hard date of when she should start talking/walking/eating/etc. Now, with James, I compare him to his sister. I seemed to have blocked out all of the hard times with Stella and am only remembering when things started getting easier. I guess that’s how I was able to have another kid: just forget how hard it is.

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I have been going through Stella’s baby book and it’s triggering some memories of, Oh, yeah, I did have to rock her to sleep and then not move for twenty minutes. This isn’t just a James-phase, this an infant phase. Infants require a lot of work. Some nights he goes to sleep incredibly easily and I just rock him for an extra ten minutes because his limbs are growing quickly and soon he won’t fit so snuggly in my arms. Or he might grow out of wanting snuggles.

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I know I’m probably setting myself up for a lot of parents to hate me, and maybe even jinxing it, but this is part of James at two months. The last few nights he’s slept through the night – 10+ hours, that have been amazing. He had only been waking up once before that, and the last few nights that I nursed him he actually spit up all over me and I silently pleaded with him to just stay asleep. “If you’re not hungry, little man, then just keep sleeping,” I said to him. I guess he listened. So probably tonight he’ll wake up three times. Well, I had three good nights at least.

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I know a lot of parents are wishing for their babies to stay small for a little bit longer, but I’m more excited about what’s to come. I’ve seen all the changes before and even though it won’t be the same as Stella, I know James will be just as amazing.
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The First Week

Last week was my first week with absolutely no help during the day. We survived, obviously, but it was both harder and easier than I expected. James isn’t on a schedule just yet, what with him only being 8 weeks old. But Stella is and that makes sticking to her schedule just a little bit harder. It’s maybe a little easier than when I was pregnant because at least I’m not pregnant.

 

We started off the week strong with a quick trip to the grocery store and the UPS store. With the use of the BOB I was able to manage both of those tasks without having to get the kids in and out of the car twice. Bonus: James slept the entire trip!

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We managed to get in some tummy time and Gabba watching time in the afternoon.

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Stella helped me get James up in the morning.

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Wednesday morning I didn’t get ready before I got the kids up and definitely paid the price trying to get us all out the door. James was so ready for a nap and Stella was ready to get out of the house and do something and taking the time to brush our teeth and get dressed seemed like such an obstacle. James had to cry for a bit while we did all that but as soon as I picked him up he fell asleep and we managed to get a few snuggles in before we left. We made it to Target, picked up lunch, and then met a friend in the park for a picnic and I felt like Super Mom for having done just that.

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Sometimes I get a little jealous of all the alone time I got with Stella when she was an infant. She took a lot of naps on my chest in the beginning and even though babies are portable heaters, I loved it. So Wednesday after I put Stella down for her nap I let James nap on me because I know that it won’t last forever. I don’t want it to last forever. Babies are cute, yes, but I much prefer Stella’s age – whining and all – to the infant stage.

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We got out for a few walks to wear Tsunami out, give Stella a break, and get James a nap. It’s been so hot here that afternoons are the worst part of the day. With a walk at least it gives us all a little time to reset, and make sure that Tsunami isn’t totally manic by the time Wes gets home.

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While I nursed James one morning, Stella read Tsunami stories. It was so nice to not be plopped in front of the television. I know a lot of people are able to keep their children away from movies and tv shows until they’re two, but I’m not one of them. We try to get out of the house as much as possible but sometimes an episode of Curious George is the only thing that keeps me sane.

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Mornings on Mama’s bed while we brush our teeth and I get ready. Stella’s telling me she loves me, which was sorely needed.

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And this kid and her jackets. She saw this in her closet when I got her up one morning and immediately asked to wear it. Of course she needed the hood up. It does get chilly here in the morning.

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Stella received two babies as gifts and loves running around with them. “Stella baby safe.” Yes, she is keeping those babies safe by wrapping them up in blankets to make sure they don’t get cold. IMG_7747

Friday, though, was kind of a doozy. After waking up twice with James on Thursday night, and staying up for over an hour to get him back to sleep, I was just exhausted on Friday morning. I somehow missed that James pooped and put him in his car seat, where he stayed for the next two hours because of errands and swim lessons. By the time 3pm rolled around I was a mess and just wanted to sit down and cry. After the kids fell asleep I collapsed on the couch and cried because I felt like the world’s worst mom. Stella’s hit the two-year old whining stage and it is so hard to be patient with her and explain things to her. Everything is the worst thing ever and most days I can handle it but Friday it was just hard. I had Wes pick up take-out for dinner while we watched Brave three times.

We had a good weekend, though, and I feel refreshed. Friday has become the new Monday for me. I’m just worn out by the end of the week. Tonight and tomorrow, Wes has work dinners so I’m on my own and am trying to pump myself up about handling the witching hour by myself. Stella might go to bed without a bath but I have a feeling that we will stumble our way through it.

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Luaus, Sharks, and Planes

We finished Wes’ time home with a fun-packed weekend, starting Friday night with a Luau hosted by our apartment community. We weren’t able to stay for the dancing last year because 11-month old Stella just couldn’t hang past her bedtime. This year, though, Stella was ready to party. DSCN2336 I pulled this hoodie out of her closet in case it got cold, but Stella loves her jackets and immediately wanted to put it on. No matter that it was still incredibly hot. But little hands in pockets, is there anything cuter? (Yes, probably, but not at this moment.) We got this hoodie from Wendy and when she bought it for her daughter a few years ago the clerk at Osh Kosh actually reminded her that this was “from the boys section” as though boys have the monopoly on the color orange. DSCN2337We still had a few minutes before we needed to leave and James was asleep so, of course, Stella helped Wes get in a little workout. 
DSCN2333 DSCN2334 This is a fun game where Wes says, “Hey, Stella, guess what?” and then tickles her or gives her a raspberry or pretends to eat her belly. And then she pulls his head down and says, “Guess what? Guess what?” as a little prompt for him to do it again. DSCN2341 DSCN2343 And then, of course, there was flying and dog snuggles while flying. No time spent playing with dad is complete without flying. She’s still working on getting her limbs out in a true flying position but practice makes perfect. DSCN2349 And then it was time for the luau. At first she only wanted to eat the snack mix that I let her have so that I could get our plates, but pretty soon she was chowing down on the pulled pork (I absolutely tried to get her to say, “It’s just pulled pork” but didn’t have much luck) and rice. DSCN2354I made Wes get a picture of us while we were all sitting together. Even though he rolls his eyes every time the camera comes out, I know he appreciates these photos later on. And Stella loves looking through them. 

DSCN2370After dinner Wes took Stella into the dog park because she loves dogs and when the dancing started they came out to watch. I asked Stella if she wanted to go dance and she looked up like I didn’t even know that was an option and took off to the front to dance. 
DSCN2376 The dancer’s brought out leis for some of the guests and Stella and I tried to get one, but they decided a dad with a baby deserved one more. Luckily, this dad is a nice guy and asked that they give to Stella instead. So one last picture with all of us and before Stella picked off all the flowers to give to her little brother. She is very generous. 

Saturday we spent with friends helping hang some things to prepare for their baby, due in November. And also give them a glimpse of what life is like with kids. Afterwards, with both kids asleep in the car, we decided to get some coffee and walk around the Ko Olina resort. One of the hotels has fish on display and that’s always a hit with toddlers. This time they had baby hammerheads. We each had a kid in a carrier and my phone was dying, so no pictures. DSCN2385

Sunday morning we went out to Ford Island to for The Biggest Little Air Show, which I first thought meant it would just be a small air show but turns out it’s an air show for remote control air planes and helicopters. It was perfect for Stella, but I’m glad that we figured it out before we go there. DSCN2389 DSCN2404 James slept through most of it and Stella was covered in dirt within minutes of sitting down to watch the planes, but she loved it. “Comes, comes,” she kept saying as they flew by. And after each plane landed she clapped along with everyone else. DSCN2409 DSCN2411 DSCN2412 DSCN2419 DSCN2423 DSCN2425 DSCN2427 She got to sit in a few helicopters and loved it. I thought she might be scared and cling to one of us but Wes put her in that first helicopter and she leaned over to grab the door and said, “Shut the door. Shut the door.” One of our friend’s is in the Coast Guard and flies in a helicopter so every time one of their helicopters flies over we remind her that’s what Gunnar’s daddy flies in so every time we said helicopter she would say, “Gunnar daddy.” They moved away when she and Gunnar were only 8 months old, but she loves that boy. DSCN2428 DSCN2430 She also got to wear try on this helmet and loved it. I found one at the visitors center and was maybe thisclose to buying one for her before I remembered that our apartment is at capacity for toys. At this age she’s too young to realize she can ask for things and listens to us when we tell her to leave something behind so I’m not going to push the limits by buying her things she doesn’t ask for. DSCN2437This guy woke up at the very end so we found a spot under a plane while Wes and Stella watched the last of the show and ran out on to the runway after the candy drop. I don’t think she got any candy, though. The rush of the older kids seemed to clean it out pretty quickly, but she was happy to finally be allowed on the other side of the yellow tape. We came home to one more night of no schedules before Wes headed back to work on Monday. 

 

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Park Days

Our apartment community has a toddler park that I drive by nearly every day but had never been to before my parents came. My mom took Stella over there and it was a hit with all parties involved. We’ve been back a few times since and managed to make it there yesterday with Wes, who has taken this week off because I’m officially the luckiest mama around to have had so much help since before James was born. I’m sure next week will be a little rough but I’m pretty sure we’ll all survive. Maybe on takeout, but we will survive.

 

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Stella loves to swing on the bar above the slide. Thanks to her gymnastics class for instilling this love of swinging on pretty much anything she can. This is actually over a curved ladder and we had to keep ushering her back to the slide because if she fell off this bar, well, I’m pretty sure she would have hit her chin on the way down, and I know from experience that that’s pretty painful. DSCN2295 DSCN2324DSCN2291

There are a few slides at this park. Yes, we brought Tsunami. We thought she might play fetch but she climbed up the stairs behind Stella and ran down this slide, as well as the long twisty one. For some reason the short wide slide was not up to snuff because she refused to go down that. We were alone at the park so I didn’t worry too much about allowing our dog to enjoy the structure.
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James set up shop in the shade and slept.
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Stella got to swing. It’s not her favorite thing, but she’ll go for a few seconds before abruptly jumping off. We’re working on teaching her to tell us to stop before she makes that leap. And also to not just dart in front of people swinging. My mom and I had an abrupt end to our high-swinging session when Stella made a ran right in front of us. DSCN2305 DSCN2312

This dog, you guys. Climbs up the stairs, goes down the slide and actually jumped off the high slide at one point, but this step is just too high for her. Wes had to lift her down twice because she refused to jump down. Of course, trying to jump in front of Stella on the curved ladder, that seems like a good idea to her. DSCN2316

Wes started jumping on that bridge and finally got Stella to stand at the other end while he jumped. She kept saying, “Fun. Fun.” After a few jumps she would move to another set of chains and request that he jump again.
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It’s been great having Wes home this week. He’s been spending a lot of time with Stella and also cleaning the house so that when I am alone next week at least I’ll have one less thing to worry about while trying to wrangle two kids. We’re going to miss all the fun mornings with him. 

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Four (Years Married)

d100Four years ago this is was happening. The only thing that’s changed is the amount of kids we have (from zero to two!). There are lots of ups and downs in life and I’m lucky enough to have this man by my side for the good and the bad. Our celebrations might be a little more low-key, but there’s no one else I’d rather have by my side.

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