Tag Archives: friends & family

She Says… Brotherly Love

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As one of four kids, I know the joy of outnumbering your parents. I know the silliness that ensues when your parents leave you alone long enough to come up with a hilarious (and likely dangerous) new game. I know the late night giggles and inside jokes and choreographing dances together on the back porch.

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I know the yearning to be bigger and do the “big kid things” my older sister and brother could do before me. I know the pride of getting to do those “big kid things” before my little sister. I know the way good news grows exponentially with each sibling that I tell. I know the way each one can comfort me and support me, in their own way, when I need it the most. And I know the way that sibling relationships can blossom into real friendships in adulthood.

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So I always knew that I wanted to have more than one child.

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In fact, anyone who knows me in real life has probably heard me say that I am one of those crazy women who adores being pregnant and loves the baby stage so much that I would have a million kids. Ok, maybe not a million, but certainly a few more than we have now. (Of course there are lots of things that come into play when planning a family, so our family may very well be complete with these 2 wild and crazy, beautiful boys.)

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Watching Owen and Emmett delight in each other and grow up side by side, hand in hand, for the last 9 months, has been even more powerful than loving each of them individually. They are greater than the sum of their parts. They will have each other in a way that neither Benjamin nor I will ever be able to match.

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Emmett is still a few months from saying any intelligible words, but no words are needed for us to know how he feels about his big brother. His adoring gaze says it all. His little chuckle at everything Owen does. The way his eyes dry and his face brightens when Owen makes a silly face, no matter what caused his tears.

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The way he tolerates (and even enjoys, despite me saying, “Emmett doesn’t like that! Please stop”) Owen’s manhandling and bear hugs and not-always-so-gentle-pats on the head. The way he crawls after Owen, his little diaper butt swaying as quickly as it can, to get all up in his brother’s business. He’s the peanut gallery. The sidekick. The wrestling partner.

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Owen dotes on his little bro in a way I could not have even imagined. I knew there would be love, but I expected frustration and impatience and jealousy. I knew there would be hand-holding and head-kissing, but I expected hitting and pushing too. I knew there would be times that they would play together, but I didn’t expect Owen to ask for Emmett almost all the time. To call for him when he’s crying, because he wants to give him a hug. To proudly pull his friends over to show Emmett off, even though they’ve met him a hundred times before. To comfort Emmett so sweetly and gently when he is sad.

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It nearly bursts my heart.

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Sure, there are surreptitious elbows to move Emmett out of the way and sneaky toy grabs when he thinks I’m not looking. There are times when Owen will plop himself in my lap simply because he can tell that Emmett is headed in that direction and he wants to claim his turf. There are times when a sweet, brotherly hug stealthily turns into a body slam… and not in a good way.

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But those times are fewer and farther between than I ever thought would be the case, especially with an attention-hog like Owen. And hey, those times build character too, right? For both kids.

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There are many things that Owen got that Emmett didn’t. The classic and unavoidable lot of the second child.

But there’s one thing Owen didn’t have until Emmett came along.

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A brother.

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And I’m pretty sure that is the best gift we’ll ever give either one.

She Says… Olympic Gold

We have Olympic fever up in this hizouse.

But I’m still a stickler for screen time, so Owen hasn’t really gotten to watch much of it. (Benjamin and I, however, have spent most nights clicking away at our laptops while binge-watching any and all events. We sure know how to have a good time, eh?). Nevertheless, Olympic fever is contagious, y’all.

So we’ve come up with some new events to occupy ourselves through all of the unrelenting snowstorms.

She Says… On Being Gone

Back before I became a mother, I remember hearing a new mom friend talking about how she felt like she was carrying all of the weight of taking care of their newborn. How her husband didn’t even get up at night while they nursed. That will never be us. I thought. That is so unfair. Fast forward a few years and two babies and not only have I completely changed my perspective on sharing the midnight feedings, I’ve also come to an entirely new understanding of the words fair and equal as they pertain to marriage. Specifically marriage when you are parents.

The old me thought that fair and equal meant splitting things down the middle. You take one feeding, I’ll take the next one. You take a night “off” to go play poker, I get a night “off” to do whatever I want too. You do the dishes, I fold the laundry. You buy yourself some new clothes, I get to add a few new pieces to my wardrobe too. In little ways, we kept score. Our relationship was built on equality, and that was important to me. We did equal “work” and shared the load. Gender/income didn’t dictate who wore the pants. We both did.

Equality is no less important to me now, but it doesn’t look quite like what I thought it would. Equality, these days, sometimes looks like me “doing it all” instead of “having it all”. Sometimes it looks like me schlepping both kids to and from school AND working full time AND cooking dinner AND remembering to buy a present for the birthday party this weekend AND packing lunches for the next day before falling into bed at night. And the only way that looks like anything resembling equal or fair is that sometimes it is Benjamin doing all of those things.

In the past couple of years Benjamin’s travel has ramped up quite a bit, and I have found myself at home alone more than I would like. Although I travel some for work (previously about once every couple months, usually to relatively close places like New York or Chicago, but once in a while a bigger trip like Paris, London or Munich), when we are apart, he is almost always the one “gone” and I am the one “home”. Sometimes this doesn’t feel fair or equal at all.

But then there are times, like this week, when I traveled to New York for work. I slept in a hotel for three nights and didn’t have to wake up, pulse racing, when I heard a cry from down the hall. I enjoyed dinners at lovely restaurants, sipped wine at a jazz club in the West Village and slurped oysters with old friends. I worked hard during the day and wasn’t constantly thinking about daycare calling or when I had to rush out of the office to pick up the kids or how I only had one earring on since I was holding the baby when I got dressed and didn’t have enough hands to put the other one on. I missed my family, of course, but I relished in the feeling of being the one who was “gone”. Benjamin, on the other hand, woke up to the 5am cries. He fed and bathed and diapered and kissed. He shoveled a foot of snow while still getting the kids to daycare on time and getting himself to work.

What the old me didn’t realize is that having a fair or equal relationship isn’t about keeping track of how many travel days each of us logs, or a tally of the chores. It’s about doing whatever needs to be done for as long as it needs doing, and knowing that my husband will be there to do it when the tables are turned. We may not do the same job all of the time, or even come anywhere close to splitting it down the middle, but we are partners.

The “workload” of our life shifts back and forth between us like playing catch with a huge sack of hot potatoes. One of us will inevitably hold that bag longer than the other sometimes, but it’s all fair and equal in the end if we know the other one is there, arms open and ready to catch it when it gets too hot.

She Says… Giving Thanks

I know, I know, Thanksgiving was last week. But I decided to spend my long weekend relishing in my family rather than sitting in front of the computer posting pictures. And then with the excitement of the nursery “reveal” and Uh Oh Pasghettio giveaway (if you haven’t entered, go do it! You have until Sunday night to win a super cute set of wall art prints) I didn’t get to it. So here we are.

As I mentioned last week, I didn’t get to the grocery store until the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving. Thankfully I got everything I needed and didn’t have to fight anybody for the plump little 15 pound turkey I snagged. Win!

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I worked from home all day Wednesday, though, and since work was so crazy I didn’t get a chance to start prepping or cooking until Thursday morning. Thank goodness for family who offered to make some of the dishes. (And thank goodness for having 2 ovens to cook in!).

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We spent the morning hanging out in our pajamas and watching the Macy’s Day parade. It is honestly one of my most favorite things to watch. Ever. Even trumps those darn Kardashians that I seem to end up watching whenever Benjamin is gone. I am pretty sure the parade is where I first fell in love with Broadway/musical theater. And that’s definitely where my love affair with the Rockettes began.

Watching it with Owen and seeing him mesmerized by the choreography and costumes and delight in the floats and the balloons made me get all verklempt.

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We hung out with both sides of Benjamin’s family. Very thankful to have family nearby to celebrate with (and grandparents who will entertain the littles while I cooked away).

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Food was cooked (all gluten free!)…

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wine was drunk (drank? drunken? drinked?)…

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food was devoured…

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bellies were full.

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The boys even got their first taste of Hanukkah (Thanksgivukkah?) as we lit candles with some of the Jewish side of the family.

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Despite the busy-ness of the season, we have a LOT to be thankful for.

 

She Says… Last Minute Lady

It’s not like me to wait until the last minute to do things.

But right now, between crazy work, crazy kids, having a crazy hardworking husband and being crazy enough to say yes to a million other things, I’m struggling.

Little Miss Usually Prepared just found herself at the grocery store at 8am the day before Thanksgiving with a list a mile long (but really mainly I NEED A 15lb TURKEY AND IT HAS TO BE FRESH BECAUSE THERE’S NO TIME TO THAW A FROZEN ONE). Yeah. I’m hosting Turkey Day tomorrow and haven’t had time to give it more than a passing thought.

I had just enough time to run the kids to school, run to the grocery store to spend my whole paycheck on all of the fixins for a delicious Thanksgiving meal, run back home and run my breast pump during an early morning conference call. In all my unshowered, yoga pants-ed glory. Glamorous, eh?

Luck was on my side, though, and I found a perfect, fresh, gluten free turkey who was just the right size. I even scored some deals on Thanksgiving essentials (maybe it pays to be a Last Minute Lady once in a while?). I think we’re going to be fine. I’m thankful that time is the main thing I’m short on right now — first world problems, I know.

And now here I sit, pumping (again) and scrambling to get as much work done as possible before the long weekend. Taking a moment to remember that all of this scrambling is for a good reason. That Thanksgiving isn’t really about the turkey. It’s about taking time away from the running and the scrambling to be thankful for all that we have.

This day will always remind me of the day before Thanksgiving in 2010 when I learned I was pregnant with Owen (who is one of the two greatest things I have to be thankful for this year!). And last year, when I was newly pregnant with Emmett but not yet sharing the news (we finally spilled the beans here).

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Hope you have your turkeys already… the grocery store was already a madhouse at 8am.

She Says… Sleepover Silliness

Here’s a tip: 3 years old may be a little too young for your kid’s 1st sleepover. Or, at least it was for mine. That is, if you expect any sleeping to happen.

As I mentioned, we went to Benjamin’s parents’ house in New Hampshire last weekend with our friends who have a son in Owen’s preschool class. Owen was BEYOND excited about this trip. He’s always excited to go up there, but he was a million times more excited this time since he had a friend going too. The other family also has a toddler, and clearly we have Emmett, who is still getting up to eat at night, so between the 6 adults and 4 kids we had to do some creative thinking about how to share bedrooms in a way that would maximize sleep. Ultimately we decided to have Owen and his little buddy share a room.

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We foolishly thought that even if the boys goofed off at bedtime and stayed up a little late that they would eventually conk out. Spoiler alert: Not so much.

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On Friday we drove up during naptime to get as much quiet time as we could in the car. Both boys did pretty well. Owen (thoroughly Benadryled to combat his car-sickness) whined a bit and asked “how many minutes until we get there?” about a bazillion and a half times, and Emmett lost his shit near the end of the drive and screamed his head off for longer than I thought possible, but in the end, we got there only slightly bewildered by the 4 hour drive. We set up bedrooms (video monitors, sound machines and all of the other accoutrements that I feel silly traveling with, but also can’t live without), fed the kids and got them bathed and jammied.

Bed time.

The boys dutifully laid down their heads in their beds and we turned off the light. Not too long after that we heard their adorable little voices chattering away. Owen asked Jonah what he likes to eat for breakfast. He pestered him with questions about which way he was facing and if he was closing his eyes to fall asleep so he could do everything exactly the same way (funny tidbit: Jonah told him he sleeps with his eyes open, so Owen tried to do the same).

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The chattering gave way to bed jumping. Their voices weren’t sounding so cute anymore. We intervened. Finally, after a couple extra hours of chatting, they fell asleep. We naively thought we were in the clear.

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That night I saw every hour on the clock of my bedside table.

  • 12:00pm Owen cried out for me that he couldn’t find his lovey in bed. I retrieved him and put both boys back to bed.
  • 1:15am Emmett woke up and needed to be fed.
  • 2:35am Boys are up again, daring each other to go out into the hallway and see what happens. You know what happened? I busted in their room and told them it was lights out. Quiet time. Close your eyes.
  • 3:10am Still not asleep. Apparently I didn’t have my best “mom voice” on. I stepped up my game.
  • 4:30am Emmett is up again to nurse. I tiptoe to his room and try not to make a peep while going to the bathroom.
  • 5:15am Fail. Boys are up. Owen has to pee.
  • 5:30am Giggles. Shrieks. Knocking on the inside of their door. The pitter patter of little feet outside my door. I send Benjamin in partly because I’m so tired I can barely move, and partly because I’m tired of being the only parent who is awake. I blame my supersonic mom ears.
  • 6:00am I tell the boys they don’t have to sleep anymore, but they do have to play quietly in their room until the clock turns green (Owen is so militant about waiting until the clock turns green at home that he forced me to bring it to New Hampshire)

Finally we all got up. The good news? The view from the New Hampshire house windows is almost amazing enough to make you forget you haven’t slept a wink. Almost.

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On Saturday we bundled up and went on a long hike (2+ hours). The boys walked the whole way. All of the parents smirked and thought, “Finally, they will sleep”.

(Side story: We had planned to have a snack and a rest at the summit, but when we got there it was COLD and WINDY and BITTER. I had to nurse Emmett and the kids needed a snack but it turned out to be a bit disastrous despite the amazing view. When we got to the top we realized it was the same trail and same spot I had hiked with Owen when he was the same age as Emmett, and I had a similar “nursing on a mountaintop” experience. Apparently I didn’t learn my lesson.)

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When we got home, Owen was on the verge of a meltdown and I could feel it in my bones. I threw lunch at him and took him upstairs for a nap. They wanted to nap together but I knew that was not a good idea. I no longer trusted those two.

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Thankfully, Owen’s protesting didn’t last too long and he succumbed to sleep. Jonah, on the other hand, did not. He’s pretty much dropped his nap at home and he just wouldn’t do it. I was impressed by his stubbornness, but quite glad that Owen couldn’t see what was going on. Don’t give him any ideas.

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At bedtime Owen was so conflicted: he yearned for his normal routine but wanted so badly to do whatever Jonah was doing. The dads somehow got the kids to agree to a staggered bedtime (Jonah was beat early since he didn’t nap, and Owen wanted to have his wind-down tv time before bed), which ended up being the perfect way to eliminate the falling asleep shenanigans from the night before.

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The boys each woke up a few times throughout the night and called for us (there’s something so sweet and innocent about Owen still crying for me and not caring that his friend was right there — no shame at all), but we all survived.

It was a wonderful little adventure, but I can’t say I’m planning the next sleepover anytime soon.

She Says… Camping

Sleeping under the stars with your little one sounds dreamy, right?

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To me, camping in general sounds really, really awesome… in theory. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like camping (though it’s been years since I did it). But it always seems to go a bit smoother in my head than it does in real life. Which is why I was pretty pumped when Benjamin decided that he wanted to take Owen camping without me. A boys’ night, he said. Glorious, I thought.

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For a kid, especially an adventurous one like Owen, camping is a dream come true. Late bedtime? Check. Eating marshmallows by a fire? Check (well, almost… see below). Running around outside all afternoon, then sleeping tucked in close to your dad all night long and getting to see the sun rise in the morning? Checkity, check, check.

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So last weekend Benjamin, Owen, one of Owen’s friends from school and his dad decided to brave the wilderness for a night of father/son camping. They picked a nearby campground, checked the weather report and headed out after naptime on Saturday.

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They made a manly meal of mac n’ cheese and hot dogs. I sneakily also packed a tupperware of veggies, just in case anyone was still hungry. The fire wouldn’t start as planned (read: neither of the dads got their boy scout badge in making a fire!), but the kids didn’t really know what s’mores were supposed to be like (read: roasted), so they were super happy with marshmallows straight out of the bag with a chocolate bar on the side. It’s the simple things in life, no?

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Not too long after his normal bedtime, Owen was ready for bed. He tucked into his sleeping bag in his tent and fell fast asleep. The dads stayed up drinking by the fire (that eventually got started). I’m not sure that was the best plan, though, as the boys were up with the sun in the morning. Or before the sun, in Owen’s case.

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When I woke up on Sunday morning I opened my window to see a gray, drizzly morning. It had been raining most of the night. I was SHOCKED that I didn’t see Benjamin and Owen at home already. Rain would have sent me straight home, I think. But no, they stuck it out until morning. It added to the adventure, I’m sure.

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The boys loved their first camping excursion! The dads? Maybe not quite as much. But no matter how you slice it, it was a rite of passage for all four of them.

She Says… Wedding Bells

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As I mentioned, my little sister got married last weekend. She was the last of my three siblings and the only family member to get married since we all started having kids. We were all thrilled to be part of her wedding weekend celebrations, especially Owen. It’s pretty exciting to welcome a new uncle to the family (and to get to wear a bowtie!).

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Seeing Owen all dressed up with his cousins just about burst my heart into a million little pieces. They were SO PRECIOUS.

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The wedding was during the day, partially so the kids could be part of it. While it was a LOT more work (for the parents) to have them there, it made the day so incredibly special. My sister is a brave woman to bring on all that chaos!

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It’s probably also the only time I can imagine gettin’ down with my babies on the dance floor, since I’m not one to schlep them to night time events when they should be sleeping. So we relished every minute of it.

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Well, every minute until Owen skipping his nap (twice) caught up with him and he literally started crying hysterically and couldn’t stop. Then we went home. It was over an hour early and while I was sad to miss the rest of the dancing and the sparkler send-off, I knew what was best for my kid(s) and wouldn’t have been able to enjoy myself knowing that they just needed to get home. Yeah. That, and my feet were hurting. It’s been a long time since these toes were in heels!

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The rest of the weekend was spent soaking up time and making memories with my family. Oh how I love this bunch — it never feels like we get enough time with them since we live far away.

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Emmett was the quintessential baby doll and everyone (aunts and uncles and grandparents included) fought over who got to hold him.

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Skipped nap meltdowns aside, it was one for the memory books. Little boys in bowties = perfection.

Congratulations to Aunt Ginger and the new Uncle Seth!

 

She Says… Back

I took an unexpected blogging hiatus last week. Nothing major to report, I just got really, really busy and we went away Thursday to Sunday and I don’t like advertising when we’re away on social media (it gives me nightmares about break-ins, despite the fact that I know I’m not a big enough deal to have internet stalkers). In fact, I barely opened the computer all week. I think if my maternity leave lasted much longer I would eventually turn it off forever! Currently I sort of “go dark” on the weekends (aside from posting pictures once in a while and surfing my personal Facebook account) and, well, every day is kind of a weekend now.

Anyway. Back to last week. And the weekend. My little sister got married!We flew to Philly on Thursday morning and had a weekend jam packed with family events. That meant two things: 1. Emmett’s first flight (and our first time traveling as a family of 4) and 2. Some missed naps/thrown-off schedules. The former was surprisingly easy. The latter? The complete opposite.

We left for the airport in a flurry of bags and last-minute items thrown in our carry-ons. It was almost time for Emmett to eat, but I was stressed about getting to the airport on time and decided we should “just get there” and I would feed him there. Unfortunately for him, once we arrived, parked, waiting in line to check our bag and went through security it was nearly 4 hours since his last feeding time. Fortunately for me (and everyone around me), the kid barely seemed to notice. Little did I know this was the first of many starvation periods this weekend.

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Both boys were silent on the flight. Emmett had a nipple in his mouth when he was awake and then promptly fell asleep. Owen was quite content to watch tv the entire time (the main reason we ONLY fly JetBlue these days). I even closed my eyes for a bit while Emmett snoozed in my lap. Bliss.

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My advice for parents traveling with 2 kids? Throw your screen time rules out the window and get one of these Trunkis. We packed all of Owen’s gluten free snacks and some extra clothes in the hard case and Owen ADORED riding this little guy through the airport. Sometimes we pulled him, sometimes he pulled it (it has a leash so you can “walk it” like a dog), but all the time he was totally entertained. Genius invention.

Pictures and stories from the weekend to come!

She Says… 2 Months

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My sweet Emmett,

Mr. Smileypants. Bonky Bonks (yup, that nickname has stuck, despite my best efforts to give you a nicer one). You are one happy baby.

Seriously. You are the smiliest.

Every day I fall a little bit more in love with you. Even on the hard days.

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This past weekend we took a trip to see Aunt Ginger and Uncle Seth get married (your first flight!). You know how people say you learn a lot about a person when you travel with them? Well, I certainly learned more about you. You are a Mama’s boy so far; and I mean that in the sweetest, best sense of the term. You loved being passed around from aunt to uncle to cousins to friends to random strangers who just couldn’t help but pinch your beautiful little cheeks for a little while, and then… BOOM. You wanted Mommy. Just Mommy. It was really the first time I’ve heard you cry for more than a few minutes. You were just… overwhelmed, it seemed.

And, my beautiful boy, I gotta tell you. I get it. I really do. I used to be a full-on, 100% extravert, very much like your brother. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve shifted to be more introverted, and I saw so much of that part of myself in you as you relished your alone time this weekend (even happily chilling out by yourself in your crib).

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You are easy as pie to put to sleep. Except, however, for your actual “bedtime” at 7:00pm. The rest of the day you are happy to be put down wide awake and talk yourself to sleep. But at bedtime you want to be nursed all the way to sleep and transferred carefully, quietly, gently. And if I dare to leave the room before you are in deep sleep? You’ll cry and fuss and demand that I come back up to your room and rock you some more, starting from scratch. Sometimes I get frustrated because you are so different/difficult at bedtime… and then I realize that you’re only barely 10 weeks old and you are E.A.S.Y. compared to most (ahem, YOUR BROTHER, ahem).

Maybe that’s just what a 2nd kid has to do to get a little rocking time with Mommy. If that’s the case, keep yelling, little one. Remind me to slow down and snuggle you while I can, because the day will come pretty soon when I won’t be able to. And I’ll miss these days, I guarantee it.

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I am so thankful for our breastfeeding relationship. Feeding you has become one of my most favorite things to do. Even when I feel like all I do in a day is nurse you, you still melt me every time I look down at your peach fuzz hair and your big, blue eyes. Your sharp little fingernails clench and unclench my chest as you eat and my skin is marred with tiny little cuts and pinch-marks. But I wear those scrapes with honor. I am so proud of us for powering through when it was tough, as now I feel that nursing you is one of my greatest accomplishments and one of my favorite parts of the day. Still, though, I am so relieved that you are flexible enough to take a bottle with formula or breastmilk. That makes life easy for both of us. Keep it up, Hoover. You’re doing a great job.

Oh, my little dimpled wonder, you fit into our family like a perfect little puzzle piece. Everyone adores you, including Owen. He dotes on you in a way I never saw coming. He loves to tiptoe into your room with me to wake you up. He climbs onto the side of your crib and asks me to pull you over to him so he can open your swaddle. You beam at him and he gives me the play-by-play, “He’s smiling at me! He’s saying he loves me!”. He watches your tiny fists open and close and is constantly telling me what you are “learning” (the sign for orange, for instance, when you were putting your clenching fist to your chin, or the number 5 when your fingers splayed out wide). When you are playing on your mat in the living room he always, ALWAYS, runs over from whatever he is doing to lay there with you. I’m constantly refereeing with instructions like, “Give Emmett some space!” and “Don’t touch his face so much”, “Don’t climb on his body”, but Owen’s response is always, “He likes it!”. And you do. You laugh and gaze at him with an expression I’ve never seen you use with anyone else.

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I can already see how you will look up to him as you two grow together. I know there will be WWF-worthy wrestling and angry words between you (you are brothers, after all), but I hope what you will remember are the inside jokes and the silliness and the LOVE that you share.

Your brother will be your protector, your confidante, your sidekick and your best friend. Treat him that way.

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I love you, Bonky Bonks. And Daddy too. And Owen adores you. And this weekend your cousins (and aunts and uncles and grandparents!) fought over who got to hold you, like the best baby doll they’ve ever seen.

You have stretched ours hearts to make room for you. You’re just so darn easy to fall in love with. Keep up the good work.

All my love,
Mommy