3!

Jack 3rd Birthday Header (1 of 1)

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

_MG_1164

_MG_1168

*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

Jack Baptism header (1 of 1)

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

Charlottesville Header (1 of 1)

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…