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.

Jack’s Baptism

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We finally got Jack baptized! It was something I had been looking into doing for a long time, but it took me a while to act on. I thought morning would be an ideal time. Our church usually meets in the afternoon, so when church was scheduled for a morning on a day in early March, I decided this might be the perfect time. Turns out Uncle Ned was already going to be in town for the Tough Mudder (which sadly got cancelled because of the rain that weekend), and my mom was going to be in town that weekend for a get together with her friends. It seemed like perfect timing. My dad was free to make the drive down as well and all of Brandon’s immediate family members were available. We definitely missed Ben and Megan!

Before the baptism took place, Beau walked us through the process. We also happily found out that Rex, a retired pastor that Beau used to work with was available to baptize Jack. It was happening!

It rained hard the days before Jack’s baptism. However, on the day of, although cooler weather, it was a beautiful, clear sunny day. (Side note: The baptism took place outside and Rex was able to use the extra water on the ground from the rain as an illustration in the baptism). Scott Unger, who also helped guided us through the process, was the elder present on stage for the baptism. Beau played and led us in singing some great songs. Then Rex took over for the baptism. Jen Buck gave a great sermon after the baptism as well. I love that a woman was represented as a leader on this day. We are so thankful for our family and friends for making this day possible!

30 Months of Jack!

2 ½ – This was supposed to be published at the end of January or beginning of February 2018


Dear Jack,

Either your dad or I get you from your room when you call out to us in the morning. As soon as you get into our bed, you crawl to my side and press your cheek up against mine. Sometimes you look me directly in the eyes and give me a huge grin; sometimes you keep your eyes closed and breath peacefully. I can smell your baby breath and skin. It’s one of my very favorite times of day with you. You love to give me hugs and kisses.

You can drive me crazy during the day, and at the very same time you are my favorite thing about every day. At the most random moments you declare, “you are my best friend Mommy!” You kiss me on the lips through the holes in the tunnel on the playground. You get so excited about “Croix!” AKA the sparkly water drink La Croix. You constantly ask “member when…” and genuinely want to know if I do remember. Just this morning you dropped your bowl purposely on the ground and it made a loud noise. Your dad and I expressed our displeasure and you replied, “It’s music!”

Most of the time you hate when I get you dressed every morning. I’ve decided I need to recruit your dad to help me. You also like to run freely down the sidewalk, and it isn’t easy chasing you while pregnant. Speaking of the upcoming arrival of your little brother, you like to touch my stomach and talk to your brother. You also point to my chest and announce to everyone that the baby is going to eat from there. You talk about teaching your brother to eat the foods you do, roll over, walk, and crawl. His arrival is definitely going to be an adjustment for you, but I’m glad you are excited right now.

I get as excited about trucks as you do now! I know the specific names of excavators, backhoes flatbeds, and bulldozers. I also get excited when I’m with you and I see a garbage truck (still “bugga” to you) going down the street. We are getting work done on our street and you love to watch and observe all of the trucks coming and going.

Mimi helped me think of all of your Jack-ism quotes, which I also have to add:

“I wunna if…”

“Mayme…”

“I ha a great idea!!!”

“Das a great idea!!!”

“Les play!”

“I lub you”

“No!”

“Yeah!!!”

“Don’t talk (to another person)!”

“(It’s) Not “PET the goats, you FEED the goats!!!”

“Pri-y awesome!”

“No, don do dat! ”

I’m trying to soak up these last months with just you. You will always be my little baby—now toddler—who made me a mom.

I love you!

Momma

Dear 2 Year Old Jack

We’ve been moving so life’s been a mess but we finally got around to posting this letter to Jack from his Mommy as well as a compilation of video clips we have from his second year. It’s long, but Jack particularly loves it, which is great for those moments when you need him to relax for just a few minutes.

Dear Jack,

You are two! What a year it’s been. We had a routine this past year, and I think we both liked it. But before the school year routine started, you went to some fun places last summer, right after you turned one. You did Mount Hermon for the first time and Sonoma for Bret and Sara’s wedding. We also took you on part of our trip to San Luis Obispo with the Wammacks and Hoppers (Mimi and Grandpa had you one night—and you did well—thank God).

You started walking right around 13 months when the school year started, and once the school year started you went back to seeing JoJo and Mimi once a week while I worked at Fusion on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You even got to see your second cousins, Keegan and Quinn at Aunt Robbie’s when JoJo watched you. You love spending the day with Mimi and JoJo. I’m so lucky they have watched you these first two years of your life. I think it’s helped you have a special bond with both of them. I know you have enjoyed all of the extra ice cream out of this arrangement as well.

This past year, on Mondays, Killian usually came over to play. You guys had the same due date and were born three days apart. After 1 ½ -2 hours Rebecca would come back from supervision and I would go out for 1-2 hours to get some work done. Sometimes I was working on Greenhouse administrative stuff, sometimes studying for my MFT licensing test (Thank goodness that is over!), a handful of times running, and sometimes reading for fun! It also helped you to be left with someone other than Mimi and JoJo. Sometimes it was VERY hard for you to share your toys and hopefully you learned a lot from this experience! You Killian had fun taking turns hitting the baseball, jumping on the bed, eating snacks, playing with cars, and dancing to music together.

On Wednesdays we went to our Pasadena City College class together. It was a class for kids that would be 13-17 months starting on August 31, 2016. You just made th cut! The class was like preschool, but I got to be there with you. We started out with an hour of free time where there was usually some kind of an optional art project. Then there was rug time where everyone sat in a circle and sang songs, then snack time, followed by a talk about a certain parenting subject by the teacher, and then parachute. During the second part of the year, Jane (the teacher) also started reading a story to you all. Some of my favorite days were celebrating the holidays. You got to dress as Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes and come to class, and you also got to hand out Valentines on Valentines Day!

On Fridays we usually walked to Garfield Park in the morning and then walked over to the South Pasadena Library for their story time. It has been so nice to live close to everything in South Pasadena in our current condo. We will miss it when we move.

All of these activities were sprinkled with trips to Descanso Gardnes in La Canada, a few trips to Huntington Gardnes in Pasadena, Kidspace in Pasadena, and swim lessons at the end of the school year at Waterworks Aquatics in Pasadena. And there were of course many trips up to Santa Barbara where we went to the zoo and Fabulous Fridays at the library.

Charlottesville

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We headed down to Charlottesville for the second part of our trip where we visited the Hyres and Peterson families. We had the best time!

The Hyres hosted us for three nights, so Jack got to hang out with Elodie a lot. He fell in love with most of Elodie’s toys–you’re next Elodie! He also kept all of us on our toes with frequent outbursts of Old McGogle (AKA Old MacDonald)—I don’t know what about Virginia brings that song out… well maybe it was all of the beautiful open green spaces we kept seeing.

Kristy and Alex were, of course, amazing hosts. On the first day, they gave us a tour of UVA; we went to an awesome water park, where I might have had more fun than the kids; and we ate out at Brazos Tacos, which has a great outdoor area for kids. Later that night, we toured the downtown part of Charlottesville and leisurely walked around, ending the night with gelato.

On our second day, we went to a school park in the morning, and then headed to a winery for lunch and, of course, some wine. The amount of greenery everywhere and low rolling hills in the background made for a beautiful spot to drink wine, eat sandwiches and watch (or chase) Jack and Elodie. We had a great dinner in that night and walked to get ice cream nearby. Jack stole my cone, after I’d had not much more than a bite, and held it with a death grip. Needless to say, I did not get it back.

One of the best parts of the trip was getting to hang out for an extended period with the Hyres family. It’s been years since we were all able to be together for a few days straight. It was so fun to sit and talk into the later hours of the evening as well, and it reminded me of old times. Thanks again Hyres family! We miss you.

As I mentioned, our stay in Charlottesville involved not only visiting the Hyres family but also the Peterson family. This included my cousin Jonathan, his wife, Liz, and two of their three kids, Erik and Sam.

The first night we arrived in Charlottesville, the Petersons took us to a brewery with a beautiful backdrop: think green rolling hills again, and lots of space to hang out with Jack. We chatted, drank beer, and had a nice late dinner. Later in the week we were able to go over to the Peterson’s house, hang out for a bit, and meet their dogs and one of their cats. Brandon also got to ride around the block in Jonathan’s Ford Mustang. We left their house with some delicious banana bread in hand. Thanks Liz!

On our drive back up to D.C., we were able to stop and tour Jonathan’s warehouse (his company sells packing materials). Jack could have run around in there all day; I had no idea that it was so big. Jonathan gave us an excellent recommendation for a BBQ place nearby and we had lunch there. It was amazing. Hopefully we can go back someday.

On our last night, we stayed at a hotel by the airport in D.C. and walked a mile to dinner (Brandon held Jack the entire way because we had given back our stroller). At the restaurant Jack spilled his large glass of milk all over our table—just keeping it real. It was actually the perfect way to end this trip sans Brandon’s tired arms and the spilled milk. And I’m still missing the beautiful landscape and the people we visited. Until next time…

 

We took a trip!

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After almost a year of trying to figure out the best time to visit the surprising amount of friends and family we have in Virginia (taking into account various schedules and Jack’s ability to sit on an airplane for 5 hours), we set the date for early June. We didn’t plan too much sightseeing ahead of time, and tried to keep our expectations in check, realizing that having toddler with us was definitely going to change the travel dynamic. I am happy to report that the worst part of the actual travel to and from VA had to do with unexpectedly waiting for a car seat to be delivered to our rental car, in a hot garage, after our long flight. While I won’t say that the flight was easy, new toys, Bob the Builder, and surprisingly an orange juice helped the flight to feel manageable both ways. The seat we bought for Jack on the plane is also something we did not regret!

 

Our first stop was Alexandria, where we stayed with my Aunt Judi and Uncle David. Jack’s internal west coast clock helped all of us wake up at 7:30 ET (4:30 PT) to start our first full day. We walked to the metro station from my aunt and uncle’s house and took it into D.C. The weather was hot but not unbearable that day, and we were able to see the National Monument, White House, Supreme Court, and National Archives. We also took a tour of the Capitol Building. Brandon was also able to see his work’s D.C. office and meet a coworker for lunch. Luckily Jack napped in the stroller for part of this time. I do want to give Brandon a shout-out for carrying Jack for MUCH of our trip in the humid weather. It was a real workout!

 

That night we headed to Cooper, Meghann, Lucy, and Judd Green’s house for dinner. We had delicious Korean tacos for dinner and were able to sip our drinks and talk late-ish into the night as our kids played—in this case, thank you Pacific Time zone for making a night out late more manageable with Jack. We took Uber home that night. Note: I usually do not like to give my business to Uber because of the recent developments revealed about the company but Uber has cars with car seats in D.C. and that was a lifesaver when traveling with a toddler.

 

The next day we met the Greens at a giant kids’ wadding pool right by the Nationals Park. We drank Philz Mint Mojito Iced Coffees and watched the kids play. Then we headed to the Nationals game, where Brandon fulfilled his goal of visiting another baseball stadium. Jack managed to score a free popcorn, and there were hot dogs and beer (adults only, of course) to go around. We were so glad we got to see the Greens before they head to Kazakhstan in July.

 

That night my aunt and uncle graciously took us out to dinner to get southern food. At Hen Quarter, we split a giant family-sized meal that included fried green tomatoes (just the appetizer), fried chicken crackling, collared greens, baked chicken, fried chicken, salad, biscuits, and a roasted Twinkies and a s’more special for dessert. Jack went a little crazy that night and because our table was completely covered with our food dishes, he didn’t have much room to move his arms or legs. But all and all, it was a great night and we loved getting to visit more with my aunt and uncle whom we continued to socialize with late into the night after Jack was asleep at home.

The next day, our last morning in D.C., we drove in and saw the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, WWII Memorial, and drove past Arlington Cemetery. Brandon really got a workout carrying Jack this day—there’s just something about a stroller that is unappealing when mom and dad want you in it most–and it was much hotter than our first day exploring the city, but it was so worth it to see those extra sites. We packed up and got on the road to Charlottesville that afternoon. Stay tuned!