7 Months

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Dear Cooper,

You are seven months old! And we love you so! You got your four front teeth, seemingly in a two week(ish) span. However, I suspect that they were bothering you for a bit because your naps and night sleep went downhill for a bit. After you got your teeth, we started sleep training—hoping that you would have a break from teething for a while. Overall, I have positive things to say about sleep training and the method we used (you definitely don’t cry as hard as Jack did—poor thing!) but the jury is still out. It’s only been a week. One thing that has been nice is that you have never seemed to have a problem falling asleep on your own. It’s always been the middle of the night that proves a challenge. You love your thumb and are comforted by using your sleep sack as a blanket. This has been helpful.

Mimi and Grandpa were in town this past month and so you got to spend a lot more time with them than usual. Mimi watched you while Dad and I were at work. They both watched you and Jack when Dad and I went out on some date nights, when I went to swim laps, and when I needed to rest. I think we both enjoyed our extra time with them. You seem to be napping better and hopefully will continue to do so for JoJo when she starts watching you once a week again.

You are able to push into a seated position and not wobble as much now. A couple of times you even pushed to a stand, but you don’t do this often. You still do your army crawl, but you often get up on your knees and hands and rock back and forth—as if you want to try and crawl that way. You don’t really like to sit in the mamaRoo anymore or the bouncer that you enjoyed so much a month or two ago. You like to be on the move instead! You also don’t really like any of your baby toys; you much prefer spoons, bowls, and water bottles.

You started solid foods very gradually, baby-led weaning style at six months. Your fist food was avocado. You’ve had sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, banana, and toast. You still mostly make a mess and hardly get anything in your mouth, but you are really enjoying the process of eating.

You also smile and laugh all the time. And Jack is still your favorite subject. We put you in the swing for the first time in October and you loved it. You are also still pretty happy to go in the pack, which is very nice when you attend Jack’s PCC class with me or I have errands to run. You definitely prefer to look out at the world instead of be positioned in towards me.

We love interacting with you and watching you interact with the world!

Love,

Mom

Halloween 2018

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No one was more excited than me when I realized that I would be able to commit the cardinal sin of Halloween costumes: I wore my Wonder Woman costume two years in a row. Proudly.

It all started when Jack told me he wanted to be Spider-Man for Halloween. At that time, I had no idea he really knew anything about Spider-Man—apparently, I was wrong! I also remembered that we had a batman onesie for Cooper (although we ended up buying a new one–a size up–the day of Halloween). Around this time, a coworker of mine mentioned he had an adult-sized Robin costume someone could borrow. Minutes later I secured it for Brandon. Of course, Wonder Woman fit perfectly into our superhero theme (yes, we had a superhero theme last year, but everyone else was someone different except for me). And the rest is history.

Halloween day started out with a parade and sing-a-long at Jack’s preschool. My parents, JoJo, and Brandon got to see the whole thing. While I had to work, I was able to see the parade.

That night, my parents (who have been in town for a month!) got to see us all dressed up and help with some pictures. They also got to watch Jack go to a few houses early on as we walked to Hilary and Baker’s house, our neighbors. We met up with their family and the Gillans for some snacks and pictures before we set off for the evening together. We only ended up on one street, but it turned out to be the perfect amount of time and candy. Jack had a lot of fun going door-to-door with Harper, and he also had an adorable little photo shoot with Liv. After trick-or-treating, we parted ways with the other families to go have dinner at Tomato Pie, something we had done Jack’s first year trick-or-treating. We even made it back home by seven.

One other fun thing to mention is that Jack got to dress up and do a small scale of trick-or-treating at his PCC classes on the Tuesday and Thursday before and after Halloween this year. He also loved wearing his Spider-Man costume around the house all of October. As you can see, Jack had been looking forward to Halloween for a while and so it was such a treat (unintentional dad Halloween pun) to experience the actual day with him.

Now, he’s already asking about Santa Claus… time slow down!

 

Cambria

Cambria (10 of 31)

Right before Brandon’s paternity leave ended, we took a trip sans Jack. Cooper was about 3 and a half months old, and we figured that this was as good a time as any to travel with a baby. He still could sleep in his car seat during outings and he didn’t yet have super set naptimes.

After some initial disagreements about where to go—we were originally going to go to San Diego and get a discount that did not come to fruition—we found a little hotel in Cambria and booked it a few weeks before our trip. The hotel, Cambria Beach Lodge, has a downscaled Palm Springs Ace Hotel vibe—without the amazing pool and awesome private porches. It turned out to be great for our trip. The rooms are small, most face the parking lot and do not have ocean views, but the hotel is right across the street from the beach. It is also walkable to most everything in Cambria.

Side note: The biggest added plus about Cambria was that most of the time we were there the weather was in the 60s, which was a VERY welcome change from 98 degree Pasadena. We wore sweaters, sweatshirts and pants! Seriously glorious after a burning hot July.

We headed up to Cambria from Santa Barbara on a Saturday morning. We happened to stop at Morro Bay Coffee Company on the way–a small quaint place to get a mid-morning snack and coffee.

Our next stop was Hearst Castle, which is on the way to Cambria. We didn’t book the tour in advance because it was more expensive that way, but were able to get into a tour (the Grand Rooms) and wait only a little over an hour for it to begin. Part of this time was spent watching an educational video about Hearst Castle, so it worked out well. Brandon had never been to Hearst Castle, and I had only gone once for Honor Society in Jr. High, so I didn’t remember much.

Once there, we took a shuttle from the visitor center to Hearst Castle, which is way up on the hill. The weather is significantly hotter as you climb the hill, and being at Hearst Castle was actually the one time during our trip when I was hot. I enjoyed the tour and I would like to do another (they offer a bunch of different ones) and see some other parts of the property.

After the tour, we drove to our hotel, checked in, and got settled. Luckily Cooper was able to nap on the go in the pack and stroller. We then walked about a mile to 927, a microbrewery in Cambria. It had a cool vibe, was small and kid friendly, and had good beers. Cooper slept part of the time in his car seat and also was happy to chill there—3 months is a good age to take babies everywhere!

For dinner that night we went to the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill. This spot was recommended to us by someone who worked at 927; however, the food was just OK. The view was nice. It overlooked the water, but I wouldn’t go back because it lacked the uniqueness of a lot of other restaurants there and was not cheap.

What was awesome about going out to dinner both nights was that Cooper was able to sleep in his car seat most of the time so we could enjoy dinner and not worry about being out late.

The next morning we had breakfast in our hotel lobby. The breakfast was small but free: hard boiled eggs, bread, and fruit. It worked.  Then Cooper napped at the hotel. After this, we walked about two miles to go to Robin’s for lunch. The walks we took were always great because there is a path right by the beach to get to most places.  We learned that on the weekends (maybe just Sunday?) Robin’s doesn’t have their regular menu, but we enjoyed the brunch options.

After Robin’s we went to Seed and Soul, a cool coffee place to chat and get a drink. We then headed to Moonstone Cellars for wine tasting. This is the winery where we went to with the Wammacks and Hoppers two years ago. The Wammacks are members, and this winery does not disappoint! It had moved locations from a few years ago but is still in the same general vicinity and now has more room.  Again, Cooper did great, sleeping in the pack and stroller. He was happy to chill.

We came back to the hotel and were able to read on the hotel’s roof deck that overlooks the ocean. We also brought back a nice bottle of wine to drink.

That night we went to Sea Chest, a restaurant right by our hotel. This one we recommend. The only catch is they do not take reservations in advance, and you have to get there an hour or so before they open and stand in line to get one of the first spots. We didn’t know this but were still able to get in around 7:30. We went back to our hotel in between so it worked out. They also have a giant fire pit outside that you can wait at and a bar inside. One other issue is they don’t take cards, only cash. We totally recommend this place. The charm of the building, the food, and the views are all worth it.

The next morning we headed out fairly early to get back to Jack—this was our first time leaving him for two nights without either of us. We stopped at Highstreet Deli in SLO to get sandwiches for lunch.

Brandon and I agree it was a great amount of time to be away and take advantage of the infant stage.

 

Cooper is 5 months

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Dear Cooper,

You are five months old, and you are our chubby-thighed, giggly, smiley, chill, little guy! You have your bottom two teeth! They came in about a month ago and we keep waiting for you to get more because you constantly want something in your mouth! You enjoy rolling onto your stomach and lifting your head to look at and grab things–unless it is nighttime! Then rolling onto your stomach causes you to be fussy and awake.

You now face out in the Ergo carrier and clearly enjoy it. You will squeal in delight when I take you out: The bookstore, Jack’s PCC class, the pool—you love all of the sensory input!  You also like to stand while being held around your tummy and stomping your feet. You like being in your play jungle and looking up at all of the hanging animals. You enjoy putting all of your baby toys in your mouth. You are constantly kicking and rolling over. You still enjoy sitting in the mamaRoo and the Baby Bjorn chairs as long as you can reach for or play with something in them. We just got a baby bouncer for you, and you like that for short periods of time, too. Your legs never stop moving!

Your nights have gone through different stages. When you were really small, you had gas all night. Poor thing! That kept you up, especially as the night went on. Then around 3 ½ – 4 ½  months you started sleeping a little better and the gas seemed to go away…but now it seems like it is back. You are waking much more in the night for comfort. Sometimes you wake up happy; it’s as if you are ready to start your day at 4 AM, much to my dismay. Although I have to admit, those coos you make are kind of adorable, and would be much more so if it wasn’t the middle of the night.

You love Jack, even though he is a rascal to you a lot of the time. His hugs can be just a little too rough. His kisses a little too smothering. You like watching everything he does, though! You giggle so much while you watch him, and it is the cutest thing ever. You like to watch Jack jump up and down and run around the house, and he loves that you like watching him so much.

Right after you turned 4 months, I slowly started inching my way back into my part-time teaching job. Your grandmas are watching you two times a week while Jack is in preschool. We are still transitioning, but I think we are all starting to adjust nicely. On Fridays, Jack is in preschool and I get to spend time with just you! This, I’ve found, is rare for the second child. I’m excited about our special time together.

Love,

Mom

3!

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Dear Jack,

You are three! A lot has happened in the last few months. You got a baby brother! You started preschool! You stopped wearing diapers during the day! You have opinions and constantly ask, “what are we going to do ah-day (aka today)… and after that… and after that?” You want to be in-the-know all the time. You also stopped sleeping as well as you used to – right in time for Cooper to be born – timing, people!  You dropped your nap on most days, a little after turning 2 ½. The only thing that will put you to sleep during the day is driving around in the car. It’s a tradeoff because then you are up much later than your original bedtime.

You started waking up in the middle of the night about three weeks before Cooper was born – did I mention timing?! At first, Dad or I would come lay next to your bed until you went back to sleep. Some nights this became too much, because you would wake up multiple times, so now, sometimes, you get to sleep at the foot of our bed on your mattress. I think part of this change in sleep habits is because you are so much more aware of your surroundings now, and you realize much more the distance between your room and ours.

This awareness also makes you so much fun to be around. You don’t miss anything. You know all of your play cars by memory: “Where is the red car, with the broken engine, and tiny wheel?” you might ask – and this is out of about a hundred match box cars you own, 20 of which are red. You recognize when we drive a different way to someone’s house. You notice which exits on the freeway go to certain locations. This was not inherited from me!

You loved watering the garden you started with Dad (you two were growing tomatoes, lettuce, and strawberries, among other things), and you had lots of questions when most of it did not survive the extreme heat of this summer. “Is this another crazy day?” you will ask. This is how your dad and you talk about really, really hot days, which have been most days this summer. Ugh. This weather has also solidified your love for swimming. After I took you to swim lessons on and off for a few years, your dad was able to take you because of his paternity leave this summer. You loved this, and you’ve loved getting to spend so much time with your Dad. You two enjoyed bike rides to bagels, park days, Kidspace, swim days at JoJo and Papa’s (I was there for those), and endless imaginary play at our house. Dads are truly the best and have endless energy.

You do seem to love hanging out with your brother. A lot of the time you show that love in a somewhat forceful way: hugs that are a little too tight, pats on the back that might be interpreted as a hit, cuddling that looks more like wrestling, and sometimes a forceful little roar or song in his face—but I legitimately think you love being around Cooper. It’s just hard to contain so much emotion and newness when you are 2 ½ – 3. You have a new fascination with boobs (after breastfeeding for two years yourself) now that Cooper is breastfeeding. Your artwork now includes people with large “boobs” and long stick legs. You are very matter of fact about it. And I mean, breastfeeding is a fact of life! It’s why humans have survived for generations, but I digress. Another favorite drawing subject of yours is balloons. You draw them pretty well. Who knows what will be next!

You are also interested in music. Your favorite song is not exactly age appropriate: Timber by Pitbull, featuring Ke$sha. You LOVE to dance to this song. You’re also pretty into Homecoming by Josh Ritter. You used to love this song when you were close to one. The buildup at the beginning got you, and it still does! Your dad is so happy because you like to watch me play the piano and sing along. You also like to listen to your dad play the guitar. You have a little ukulele that you like to play and sing with as you dance.

You have so much fun playing with other kids now… well most of the time – it’s still hard to share sometimes. You’ve been known to burst out crying when it’s time to go after a play date. Your best friend is Addie – she is almost 6 and this match will not last forever, but it’s very sweet the way she plays with you and is genuinely excited, and how you both jump up and down yelling when you see each other. This friendship was made even more special at your birthday as Addie decided to give you that memorable first kiss as a birthday party. Addie’s brother, Rhett, is also starting to join your little crew. You also started to make friends in your PCC class. Riley (a boy) is your best friend there. You two will hold hands and run around wildly, finding excitement in your shared painted toe nails – you wanted them painted “just like mommy.” Riley has a little brother too, and you both like to show off your baby brothers to each other. Another friend, Ezra, has introduced you to transformers and Star Wars. You two can be prickly at first but then fall into a rhythm and truly enjoy each other’s company.

Lastly let’s not forget how much you love your family. From uncles and aunts, to your Mimi and Grandpa, and Jojo and Papa.  You love to be with all of them and always ask if we are doing stuff “with our family?” You have even gone so far as to say you have 3 houses because you love going to both your grandparents house as much if not more than your own.

Favorite phrases:

“Member when…”

“Ah-morrow will we see our friends?”

“Ah-day are we going to play that?”

“Berry quickly I will watch this show.”

“Where the blue crayon is?”

We love you Jack. The magic of seeing life through a child’s eyes is truly a gift.

Love,

Mom

Brothers

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*This was supposed to be posted over a week ago. Two kids, man.

Cooper’s been here for almost seven weeks now, which is hard to believe. There have definitely been a number of challenges that come with having two kids, but I can honestly say it’s also been such a sweet time for our family. I know I would definitely have a different tone if I did not have Brandon’s help this past month and a half. His paternity leave has been a lifesaver for our family.

One of the hardest parts about two kids has been entertaining Jack All. Day. Long. Jack is going through a stage (or is it personality?) where he wants constant attention and people to “play with me!” nonstop. Luckily Brandon (I do not know how he keeps up) has the energy to play with him constantly. And Jack is starting a preschool summer camp next week (we are hoping he doesn’t get kicked out because of his current lack of consistency with toilet training – I think we are getting close!), but I digress. The camp is in the morning for a few hours, and hopefully it is just what we need in order to have some breaks and downtime at home! Side note: How does having one infant feel so much more manageable the second time around when your toddler is gone for a few hours?! Perspective, I guess! Because I remember one infant felt so overwhelming the first time around.

Anyway, these days Jack goes from being such a fun and sweet big brother to a huge challenge – all in a matter of minutes. Potty training combined with always doing the opposite of what I ask combined with “no” and “why” and needing constant attention make these days feel difficult. And honestly, Brandon deals with most of Jack’s outbursts right now and I still feel overwhelmed by it.

Cooper has been such a chill baby. His biggest issue has been how gassy he gets, especially at night. He makes such loud grunting noises at night that it makes it hard for us to sleep – poor little guy. This aside, he is a pretty easy going little one. He’s even smiling these days! People ask if he is like Jack, and at this point the biggest differences I see are in their looks. Cooper did not look like Jack when he was born. He is very fair (I know we all are in this family, but Cooper is even fairer than everyone else!) and has a different facial structure. We’ll see. Maybe they will look more alike as they get older, but right now, where Cooper gets his look is still a mystery.

I’m trying to relish these early days with Cooper and Jack when we are all together most days. I know it will be gone in what feels like an instant when I look back on this time. And I will probably miss the sweet times and forget about many of the challenges.

Easter

Easter 2018 (1 of 33)

Real Talk: The night before Easter 2018 was rough. Jack decided during week 39 of my pregnancy to start waking up and crying in the middle of the night, which he had not done for months. Kids do seem to sense when change is coming (the constant little brother talk, crib in our room, and other baby stuff does make it somewhat obvious, but kids they get it!), so in that way I can’t blame him at all. This just added a little wrench in things right before a huge change. The night before Easter, Brandon and I were both up checking on Jack and sitting with him in his room for a very long time. The night before this Jack had also been up so on Easter morning I felt less than rested and a little stressed about our sleeping situation and how it was about to get much more difficult with a newborn. However, Easter day turned out to be the pick-me-up we all needed.

I’ve always loved Easter and the hope that it brings to our lives in this broken world: There is hope in the midst of pain. There is grace in the midst of minor and major mistakes. And there are so many questions left unanswered in this world. This is OK.

To celebrate Northland Village Church had its annual Easter beignet truck and coffee. The sun was out and shining, Beau gave a stellar sermon, and Jack loved playing with friends and painting Easter eggs. After church I enjoyed time out with Bryce at Olive and June where we got a manicure and pedicure (indulgent on Easter, I know!) and then we headed to the Butcher (elder) household to eat dinner. First, there was cookie decorating (Bryce could have won an aware for her cookies) and delicious cocktails (mocktail for me) to sip on and enjoy. We also did our annual Easter egg and basket hunt at the Butchers. Dinner was, of course, very tasty. Here are some pictures, if you would like to see.