Good Night

Now that we have two kids, we’ve had to split up bed time duties. James is ready for bath and bed at six and will not let Wes hold him or rock him to sleep. So I give James his bath and then Stella’s ready for hers. Wes doesn’t get a lot of time with her during the week, so this bedtime process is good for both of them. And, yes, for me because as I’m rocking James I get to listen to their conversations. Some of them make me laugh and some of them are so sweet that I want to cry.

Here’s a few snippets I get to hear:
“No singing, Daddy.”
“Get Daddy’s hair wet.”
She has a hooded towel that a dear friend. Add for her and I get to see her run from the bathroom to her bedroom with her towel flying behind her like a cape.
“Have some floss.”
“Read this book right now.” Lately her favorite bedtime book is Because Your Daddy Loves You. She knows it by heart and will fill in some of the spots if Wes stops reading.
“Let me stretch.” She likes to jump off the bed into Wes’ arms after story time and needs to stretch “like Gymboreenastics” before jumping.
And, my favorite, “I love you, too.” She says this with her fingers already in her mouth as he’s turning off the light so it’s muffled and it’s one of the highlights of my day.

I want to sneak in and take pictures but I know it’ll ruin the moment so I have to settle for writing them down so that I remember this stage. Like all the ones that came before, I know this one will pass too quickly.

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Blue Angels Fun

The Blue Angels were in tow a few weekends ago so we decided to check it out. I don’t remember going to many air shows when I was a kid, but Wes loved them. He wanted to be a Blue Angel pilot and wrote them a letter when he was a little boy. One of the pilots wrote back and the framed letter hung in his room until his parents turned it into the guest bedroom after we got married. He was pretty excited about taking Stella to see them fly.
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We get a lot of air traffic over our apartment so Stella can point out jets, so we prepped her for the week before to get her ready and excited about seeing the show. IMG_8502

First, we ordered another pair of ear muffs to protect the kids’ ears. Safety first. DSCN2664

We decided to pay extra to get into VIP seating with shade because the show was on asphalt and it was approximately one million degrees that day with no wind because this summer has been miserable (even though it wasn’t technically summer) with heat. It was well wort the cost because as soon as we packed up our stroller, I noticed the tire was flat. Not much we could do about it at that point so James and I enjoyed the shade while Wes and Stella checked out the rest of the attractions.

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The show was at Pearl Harbor/Hickam, which is right next to the airport. So the three shows took six hours because they had to stop airport traffic for the duration of the demonstrations. It was a long and crazy expensive day and even though we had fun, I’m not entirely sure we’ll go next year unless they hold it at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base again.

IMG_8505We have a friend in the Coast Guard and whenever we see an orange helicopter I tell Stella that Gunnar’s daddy works on one. She loves pointing them out now. “Oh, helicopter! Like Gunnar’s daddy.” So this was a fun treat to see the helicopter up close.

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She told Wes that she wants to be a pilot when she grows up and she’s been sticking with it since the show. IMG_8402

Wes loves to take these family photos. Well, he will in 20 years or so when he has these memories to look back on. We spent a lot of time under the shade while we waited for the main show. DSCN2685

Finally, the Blue Angels! Unfortunately, by this time we’d been at the air show for six hours with no nap and Stella was over it. She lost all ability to sit still and watch the jets fly for more than 30 seconds. And she was hell bent on trying to eat the orange ear plugs that we’d brought with us. She would not believe that they weren’t candy. I was carrying James in the Ergo, trying to keep him comfortable and covered because it was so hot. I actually got a slight burn on my arm just from watching this last demonstration.
IMG_8413We left as soon as the show ended and this is what Stella looked like when we finally made it back to the car. The parking situation was a mess and we ended up maneuvering our way through the parking lot because the line to get out was just ridiculous. It seemed like no one knew how to empty a parking lot. We made it out in 25 minutes, but had friends who were sitting there for nearly two hours. Stella woke up for the ride home and kept saying, “Blue Angels fun,” so we know she had a good time. The next day we were able to see them from our front yard and she told all the neighbors about seeing them the day before.

 

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Three Months: James

At 2 1/2 months, he was 24.5 inches and 14 pounds 5 ounces. A big boy. We had brunch with a few of Wes’ coworkers and one asked how old James was and when I told her she did a double take. Like, this boy is entirely to large to be only 2 1/2 months old. He’s wearing pajamas that Stella wore until she was 8 months old, and there is no way that he’ll last that long in them. That just means there’s more to love, though. Just like his sister and dad, he’s got a big head. I don’t think it looks disproportionate to the rest of his body, though.

 

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This month he had his first round of vaccines. Stella kindly went first to show him that shots were nothing to be afraid of. He definitely screamed, but calmed down as soon as I nursed him. I was hoping that he would sleep for the rest of the day like Stella did when she had her 2-month shots, but he was wide awake. At least he was in good spirits, though.

 

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He’s been smiling a lot – actual smiles directed at me and Wes and Stella. The first few weeks of having an infant are incredibly rough because they don’t recognize you. Every morning before he could smile, I just got a blank stare. I feed you and love you and clothe you and you don’t even know who I am, I would sometimes think. But now he does. He smiles at me when I get him from his crib and throughout the day when I look at him and make whatever funny noise he’s into that day. He’s even smiling with his eyes and that makes some of those harder moments a little bit easier to handle. DSCN2700

He’s (don’t hate me and knock on all the wood) consistently sleeping through the night, though it still takes a lot of effort to actually get him to sleep. We’re working towards getting him to put himself to sleep, but for now I try to enjoy these nursing and cuddling sessions because I know they’ll be gone before I know it. He’s really close to finding a finger (or two) or thumb to comfort himself with. DSCN2701

Poor second kid doesn’t get nearly enough day time sleep because I just don’t have the time to devote to getting him to stay asleep. It’s been so hot here that the rock n’ play is pretty much off limits during the day, and naps on me don’t last more than 20 minutes. I wouldn’t mind more nap time snuggles, but I think we’ll all be happier when he starts taking regular naps in his crib.

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His big thing this month was rolling from his back to his belly. He wasn’t too happy about finding himself on his belly, but such is life. He managed to do it twice in one day so Wes got to see it, too. DSCN2706

Stella still mostly enjoys having a baby brother. Every once in a while she tells me to set him down or hand him off to Wes so that she can sit in my lap, but for the most part she likes to hold his hand while we all snuggle on the couch. And if I forget to let her help me change his diaper, I have to start it all over again so that she can undo the tabs. We still do a lot of activities and he gets dragged along to all of them. DSCN2707

Yes, it’s going quickly. And yes, it’s a little sad to know that all these firsts are also lasts, but I can’t wait for him to move around and interact with us more. I know Stella will be over the moon excited about having someone to play with.

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Before I Forget

Some days when Wes gets home all I want to do is cry because it feels like the entire day has been an uphill battle with a toddler who will not back down, or an infant who is just being an infant. After the kids are in bed some days I do cry and tell Wes I feel like the worst mother in the world. I’ve had a post in my draft folder for a few weeks talking about how hard being a parent is (and it is, and one day I’ll finish and post it), but for the last few days I’ve been feeling like one hell of a mama. Maybe I’m riding the high of my own mom being in town and helping out, but lately it feels like I’ve been just killing it at this parenthood gig.

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Yes, the days are long (but the years are short), but there is so much fun to be had in those days and we do as much of it as possible. We are busy bees and I love every dang second of it. Who would have thought that being a parent would be my favorite job of all? Certainly not me. IMG_8332.JPG

Tonight while I was giving James a bath Stella closed the door and said, “Bye bye. I love you so much.” And my heart soared because this is something I say to her all the time. She may not remember all of this when she’s older, but right now she does remember this and it makes me so happy. IMG_8324.JPG

IMG_8314.JPGSo before I forget to remember: I’m a damn good mama. I love these jokers so much. I know the thing among moms (and probably dads, but I don’t know because I don’t have those conversations) – and I’m guilty of this, too – is to talk about our short-comings and all the ways we fail on a daily basis and how we wish we could do xyz better. I’m trying to step away from that because it doesn’t do anyone any good. My kids don’t benefit from me feeling guilty. But they do benefit from me feeling like a kick-ass mom because then I act like one. Mamas, toot your own horns today: I rock. You rock. We all rock. The kids are alright, and so am I.

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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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