Tag Archives: love

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… Feeling All the Feelings

I have seen a few viral videos recently of kids who “feel all the feelings” and break down sobbing at certain songs. This one makes me laugh because he’s aware that it’s not cool to cry like that, but he likes the way it feels. This one is hilarious because it’s like he’s so touched he can’t contain the tears. And he’s 10 months old. And this one cracks me up because she’s just seems SO SAD and the song has barely started.

They all strike a chord because Owen is EXACTLY the same way.

Pure, unadulterated, raw, unchecked emotion. All the time.

When he was around a year old I would sing to him all the time (ok, who are we kidding… I have sung to him all the time since before he was born and plan to continue long after he starts saying, “Stop singing, Mom. You’re so lame!”). But I rarely know the words to songs, so usually I just make them up about Owen. One of the few songs that I do know the words to is “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. It was our favorite song to sing on the changing table while I zipped him into his sweet little footie pajamas before bed. When I would get to the chorus that says, “when I’m feeling sad”, his brow would furrow, his lip would quiver, and he would CRY. Outright cry. Hard. So hard I would have to stop singing (usually from laughing so hard, but sometimes out of pity that the song was making him so darn sad). Benjamin and I swore we’d get it on video someday (and who knew it could have been a viral internet sensation!), but alas, it was one of those precious things that just stopped after a while. We picked a new song and that was that. Now it is just a memory I hope I never forget.

Fast forward to now. Our song repertoire has grown exponentially, most recently to include the favorites from “Frozen”. If you have a child under the age of 10 (or maybe even if you don’t!), I’m sure you know it. (And if you don’t, the music is AWESOME). You know the part in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” where Anna sings, “Ok Bye” when Else won’t open the door? We were singing that together in the bathroom the other night while we filled the tub. I sang the “Ok Bye” line with a little musical theater flair, putting on my saddest face while I sang to Owen. All of a sudden his eyes filled with tears and they spilled out onto his cheeks while he took my face in his hands and said, “Don’t sing like that Mommy, it makes me SO SAD.”.

I was simultaneously super proud of my out-of-practice acting skills and overcome with how sweet and emotional my little boy is.

He absolutely takes after his father (who could be a viral video himself, crying at every single episode of “Parenthood” while hiding his face from me with a pillow). They both feel all the feelings so deeply. I could not love that about them more.

So now it has become a game. Every night at bathtime, Owen challenges me to sing those two words (“Ok Bye”) to him as sadly as I can to try to make him cry. If I come close, he’ll break character and tell me to stop singing because it’s making him too sad. Usually I can’t wipe the smile off of my face long enough to sing those two words without cracking up.

Feel all the feelings, kid. You’re in good company.

 

She Says… The Evidence

His little body bounces out of the car after school, shouting “BLAH BLAH BLAH” at the top of his lungs while simultaneously showing me how high he can jump (“almost as tall as Mount Washington! Sixty five fifteen forty high!”). He asks about 75 questions in 1 minute without waiting for answers… and then asks a few questions later, without pausing, why I haven’t answered him yet. He leaves the door to the garage wide open, icy cold air seeping into our cozy house, strips his coat off and throws it on the floor. Seemingly impervious to the cold air, he drops down to the floor right in the open doorway (blocking anyone else from entering the house, even the person carrying his chubby little brother in the astonishingly heavy carseat), pulls his shoes off without unvelcroing them and tosses them into the air in a celebratory fashion, laughing no matter where they fall.

That’s only kind of what I meant when I set the expectation that we all take off our shoes and coats right when we walk in the door.

He races through the kitchen in his paint-stained sweatpants and undoubtedly rainbow shirt (no matter how many other shirts he owns, anything rainbow is going to be the favorite) with a twinkle in his eye, asking “Do you wanna see how fast I can run?”. There is no answer other than yes.

He flings open the doors to the toy cabinet in the living room and starts pulling things out. “Do you wanna play Candy Land? …or cars? …do you wanna play with me? Who can play with me?”. The questions come rapid fire and I do my best to dodge the ones that will make him upset and distract him with the answers I can give remotely while I balance the baby on one hip and attempt to get dinner started on the stove as quickly as possible.

He shoots tiny toy cars all over the kitchen floor (“wanna see which one wins?” and “look how far they can go!”) and then abandons them to ride his plasma car around our first floor. Thank goodness that our house has a circle for running and riding. He whizzes past me making silly faces and silly sounds each time he comes through the kitchen. I echo them and a new game is born. I am relieved it appears to be one I can play while still using two hands to make dinner and keeping one eye on the baby.

I stick the baby in front of a cabinet full of water bottles and let him go to town pulling them out and sucking on them, one by one, before he tosses them into the middle of the kitchen. Ignore the fact that they will all have to be washed once this little display is over. I don’t want to put him down after a day spent at school (no, all I want to do is nuzzle my nose into his chubby neck and breathe in his delicious baby smell), but I have to capitalize on the rare calm moments when I can. Yes, this is as calm as it gets around here in the evening.

Making dinner is like an obstacle course, leaping over pointy cars and rolling water bottle tops. Owen has finished riding his car, leaving it somewhere between the front door and the kitchen to undoubtedly taunt the dog (who is terrified of the wheeled creature he is sure is out to get him — and with Owen behind the wheel, he might be right). He writes his name in scrawly, rotated letters on the chalkboard that sits in our front hall for whenever the artsy feeling strikes (“Mommy! Come see what I wrote! O-W-E-N!”). He wipes his chalk dust covered hand on my pants and starts building a maze to roll little tiny choking hazards marbles around in. I run back in the kitchen to flip the salmon I have miraculously gotten in a hot pan with some oil and salt and pepper.

The baby bleats like a little lamb as he is stuck on his tummy, surrounded by water bottles and travel mugs and plastic cups. A miniature beached whale swimming in mid-air, his arms and legs flailing in a valiant attempt to move his body forward. He’s so close to crawling we can taste it, but he just can’t figure out how to get those knees up underneath him. Though I know it will open up a whole new world of challenges having a mobile baby, I think it will also ease some of the tension of having to carry him everywhere. The kid can’t stand not being in the action. And with a 3 year old as active as mine, the action is always a moving target.

In a blur of portioning salmon and microwaving frozen vegetables and stirring some rice I prepped before I picked the kids up from school, dinner is served. And after another 10 minutes of cajoling Owen to wash his germy little preschool hands, we sit. Everyone is calm and quiet for 1 minute while the first bites of food are keeping their mouths busy. Then Owen is popping up and down from his seat, bringing different toys to the table “to watch us eat”, the baby is frustrated that he can’t get the little green bean pieces I’ve put on his high chair tray into his mouth, and refuses the mashed up sweet potatoes I’m offering out of spite or stubbornness or just being done with the day after having spent the last 9 hours at school. We shovel our food into our mouths and before we know it, it’s bathtime.

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Completing bathtime with two energetic little boys is nothing short of a miracle. It is like a hilarious comedy show meets Olympic-level fitness test. They strip down naked, clothes strewn around the room like crepe paper garlands, and we all laugh and sing during our night time routine of countertop dancing. Teeth are flossed and brushed. Feet are scrubbed and faces are washed. Boys are pajamaed. Baby is bottles and Owen is read to, and finally, it’s lights out.

I always marvel at the quiet once Owen is tucked into his bed. The silence is deafening. Benjamin does the dishes while I wander through our house, picking up the evidence left behind from the whirlwind that is a day at home with two crazy boys (or even the 2 hours between school and bedtime on school days).

The clothes hanging around the bathroom. The piece of chalk on the floor. The abandoned plasma car. The cars stuck under the kitchen cabinets. The errant marble hiding in the corner. The drool-covered water bottles strewn around the floor. The tiny little sneakers in the middle of the hallway. The coat, arms inside out, still on the floor.

Sometimes this evidence feels like a weight on my shoulders — the mess I am constantly cleaning up. But then sometimes I can see it for what it is.

Little reminders that my boys are still so little.

That I am lucky to have these shoes on the floor to clean up.

That I am lucky to have these little messmakers making my life so full and busy.

And I am thankful that I have so many reasons to be exhausted at night.

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… Four Months

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My sweet baby boy,

This month whizzed by. It flew. You started daycare and I started back at work in the beginning of November and BAM! it’s Thanksgiving already. And judging by the state of our family calendar, it will be Christmas before we know it. The transition back to work could have been devastating. It could have been rough. It could have been rocky. It’s been busy (and still is), for sure, but thanks to you, my little darling, it has been as painless as possible.

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You, sir, rock. You rock at daycare. You rock at sleeping there. You rock at chugging every drop of all of your bottles. You rock at smiling and charming every one of your teachers. You rock at staying pretty calm in the evenings even after super long days so that we can have dinner as a family. You rock at smiling and splashing and making bathtime my favorite time of the whole day. You rock at snuggling into me while I nurse you at bedtime, holding your tiny, pudgy little fingers and wondering how we made such a perfect little dude.

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I’m beginning to worry that you’re going to grow up thinking your name is “cutie pie”. Because that’s what you hear all day long. I’m sure there’s a lot more to you than just your looks, but it’s the truth. You are DAMN cute. People stop me on the street to say one of three things about you:

  1. You have the most perfect, round head. (I had no idea this was a thing people commented on, but it’s true. You do.)
  2. You are SO smiley. (Mmm hmm, that too. Not stingy with the grins!)
  3. You have the most beautiful eyes. (Sparkly. Dancing. Deep blue like the ocean.)

I may be biased, but I wholeheartedly believe that all 3 things are true.

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This month, unfortunately, I’ve discovered something that’s not so easy breezy about you. As much as I tried to avoid going down the road of thinking you have some sort of food allergy/intolerance like your brother and your Daddy, I’m pretty sure you do. At least for now. This past month has been a roller coaster of hypoallergenic formula and me avoiding certain foods to see what the culprit is. Though you’re far from figured out, my best guess and working hypothesis at the moment is that your tummy does not tolerate when I eat milk or eggs. We’ve got a pretty good thing going while I’m off both of those things as far as I can tell, and although it’s hard for me to avoid yummy things like cheese, yogurt and chocolate (and pretty much anything baked now that eggs are off limits), it is worth it for the time being to heal you. Last night was the worst night I’ve seen — arching, crying, poop issues. Nothing helped. You couldn’t sleep and you couldn’t eat, which just left you awake and paralyzed by your own sadness. Which meant I was too. Daddy and I took turns trying to comfort you but all you really wanted was to rock with me, half-nursing, half-pacifying.

We got through it. We’ll get through this patch and we’ll get through the next one and we’ll get through the one after that. I’ll always be here to hold your hand and help you through, whatever comes. I already ache for the day that you come home with a problem I can’t fix, like a broken heart. But trust me, we’ll get through that too.

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Emmett, you fit like a snug little puzzle piece into our family. Daddy and I fight over who gets to hold you and make you smile. Schnitzel is protective of you and bathes you in kisses. Owen, in the midst his totally-age-appropriate-but-nonetheless-incredibly-frustrating 3 year old ‘tude, is totally enamored with you. His normally wild body becomes calm around you. He dotes on you. Sings to you. Contorts your body in hilarious ways that make us all laugh. Sweetly and softly pats your cheek when you’re crying. Gives me the play-by-play of what you’re doing in the car (“He’s sleeping! No! He’s awake! He’s pukin’ up! He’s looking at his toy!”). Though I know there will be times, likely in our not too distant future, when he’s not so kind to you, you must always know that everything he does comes from a place of love.

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Brothers are like that.

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Owen’s new favorite game is to get the whole family under a blanket on the couch and pretend to sleep. He calls it a “love cage” and no one can get out. Guess who he ALWAYS wants in his love cage? You. So far you’re surprisingly tolerant of being smooshed into a pigpile with all of us and covered with a quilt. You’re pretty easygoing about most of the silly games we play with you. You’re the best baby doll.

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I love you, my beautiful boy. We all do. Even in the middle of the night it melts me to see your bright eyes and kicking legs in the dim light. You are one special little guy.

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Couldn’t love you any more if I tried,
Mama

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She Says… 3 Months

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My sweet Emmett (or Emmett-y, as your brother calls you),

Happy 3 month birthday! Three months feels so… significant. The end of the “4th trimester” and into the big, wide world of being a baby. A baby who coos and gurgles and drools and smiles and laughs. A baby who pushes up with all of his might when placed on his tummy and holds his head up high to take in the world. A baby who grabs my finger with such an iron grip that I swear he has adult strength. A baby who smells so gosh darn delicious that I can’t help but bury my face in his neck at every possible opportunity. A baby who is starting to understand subtle changes in facial expressions and gives a shy half-smile to strangers exclaiming over his unbelievable cuteness (and a HUGE! WIDE! OPEN-MOUTH! SPARKLY EYES! smile to Mommy, Daddy and Owen).

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Oh Emmett. If there’s one word I use to describe you the most on a daily basis it is SMILEY. You are one joyful little person. Even when you’re tired or hungry, you often smile through your tears in this adorable I-can’t-decide-if-I’m-happy-or-sad state. I took you into my office last week to visit my coworkers and you charmed every single one of them, smiling and cooing while they oohed and ahhed over you. After a bit of socializing you always look for me, though, and you need some one-on-one time to recharge.

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I get it. I totally do. I’ll always be here to wrap you up in my arms and be your calm. Your home base. Your comfort.

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Usually you are quite the mama’s boy (and I couldn’t be happier about that), but there’s one situation where I always play second fiddle: when Owen is in the room. You are enthralled with him. Totally in love. Entertained. Amused. In the mornings or after naps he climbs onto the side of your crib and opens your swaddle saying, “Good morning cutie pie!” or “Wake up, sleepyhead” or just “Emmett-eeeeeeeeee”. It takes my breath away every time. I love to watch you love each other.

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When we’re playing together Owen is always all up in your business. Patting your head or climbing on your body or making you clap with your feet or do sign language with your hands. Last night he was dead set on feeding you a potato despite my insistence that you are too little to eat food. I constantly hear myself saying, “Owen, please give Emmett space” or “Back up” or “Face away from his face!”, but you wanna know the truth? YOU LOVE IT. You love all of the manhandling and silliness and physical torture. You’re smiling, egging him on. You guys are going to be quite the pair as you grow up together. Partners in crime. I can see it already.

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You and me, though, we’ve got something special too. I know when you’re older you won’t want to hear about how breastfeeding was this special time between us, but it is. It really is. I am so thankful for the quiet times I get to sit with you and rock you and gaze at your beautiful little body. Even amidst the chaos of Owen playing and breakfast making and Schnitzel barking… when I’m nursing you it’s like there’s this force field around us and we’re the only two people inside. (Believe me, sometimes I feel like I need a force field, since Owen always seems to think that nursing time means “let’s climb all over mom and ask her incessant questions”). Every 2-3 hours you get 20 minutes of time with me all to yourself. And I get you. And at night when it’s quiet and you’re swaddled and our bodies are rocking in sync I wish I could freeze time and remember that feeling forever. It’s my happy place (at the same time, I would also LOVE to know what it feels like to sleep for 6+ hours at a time again!).

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You got sick for the first time over the last few days. Daycare germs, no doubt. The raspy, squeaky sound of your “I’m losing my voice” voice just about broke my heart into a million pieces. It was so sad. We’ve been humidifying and nursing around the clock (remember when you used to get up only once a night? Yeah, that was nice…) and I think you’re starting to feel a bit better today. When you had a decent fever the other day I tried to give you some medicine and learned something about you. You are a TRICKSTER when it comes to medicine. You have already perfected the art of spitting out every last drop. I’m going to have to work on my technique. I hope you don’t have the same reaction when we are ready to try solid food in a couple months!

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I’ve started giving you your vitamins and any medicine in the bath so that when you spit it out it doesn’t make a big mess. Owen thinks this is HILARIOUS and loves to watch me. He instructs, “little by little” and asks me if you spit it out after every gulp. Speaking of bath time, you love baths. Love. No matter how tired or hungry or ready for bed you are, you immediately calm when I start running the water. You and Owen splash and play together and I try my best to make sure he doesn’t drown you with his antics.

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I love you so, little one. You are the perfect addition to our family. I can’t wait to watch you grow up and learn more about who you are.

Love,
Mama

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

She Says… Smileypants

Oh, this guy.

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This guy is SO smiley.

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“They” say babies start to smile at 6 weeks. This guy looked right into my eyes and gave me the biggest, widest, open-mouth grin at 4 1/2 weeks. His eyes twinkle. His toes point like a little ballerina. He smiles with his whole body. This is not just gas, folks.

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Since then we’ve gotten more and more smiles every day. Owen gets them. Daddy gets them. The dog gets them. The wall gets them.

And OH! That dimple (two of them, actually, but the 2nd one only comes out occasionally with a REALLY big smile). Swoon.

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Wanna see? My best attempts at getting him smiling on video are captured on Instagram here and here.

They are SO hard to capture because usually they are a result of eye-to-eye contact and smiling and cooing on my part, which is much, much harder with a phone or camera between us.

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If you touch his head gently, he smiles. Touch his cheek gently, he smiles. Sing to him, he smiles. He isn’t stingy.

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I love that about him already.

She Says… 1 Month

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My sweet, precious Emmett,

You are one month old. Ok, ok, you are actually one month and 5 days old, but this is just about the first chance I’ve had to sit and write to you since then. And, while I’m being honest, these pictures were not taken when you were one month old — you were really 2 weeks old. We haven’t gotten our act together to pose your monthly pictures yet.

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But please don’t be offended. The lack of pictures or timeliness of my letters is far from an indication that you are any less loved than your brother. In fact, it’s really proof that I’ve been doing a lot more gazing at you without a camera in my hand. I’ve breathed in your baby smell while rocking you in your nursery. I’ve spent my time fending off your brother who adores you so much that he wants to climb all over your body to show you and pat you and touch you. I’ve taken you out on the town almost every day. To see friends, to the grocery store, on walks, to pick up Owen from school. You and I are living symbiotically; it’s like we’re one person. Where I go, you go, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. We’ve done so much together already that I can barely believe it’s only been a month.

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I know it may be hard to tell a newborn’s personality immediately, since they all just eat and sleep and poop, but from the moment you rushed out into this world (and I do mean rushed… what was the hurry?) so many people have used the same word to describe you: ALERT. Alert, and, now that it’s been a month and we’ve had a chance to get to know each other, I would add CALM. You are a very content little person. Chill and quiet (most of the time) and happy to be carried around from thing to thing, person to person.

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But, at the same time, you are awake more than any other newborn I’ve ever seen. Your gray-blue eyes are wide, taking it all in. You have a still, quiet intensity about you, like you’re soaking everything in — the sights, sounds, smells. And you’re thinking. Constantly thinking. Processing. Learning. I await the day when you have the words to share what’s going on in that beautiful head of yours. Though perhaps you’ll be a man a few words, revealing only the parts you want others to see. Only time will tell.

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Sometimes, while resting your head on my shoulder, your breathing will slow and align with mine, and your head feels heavy, and I’ll peek at you to see if you are asleep… but your blue eyes are still twinkling. Open wide. Taking it all in.

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This last week you have started smiling. REALLY smiling. We saw glimpses of what your smile would look like in the early days — probably gas at the time, but we marveled at your double dimples and the way your eyebrows raised and lit up your face anyway. These days you often have a bemused expression, like you’re laughing at your own private joke. Or you’re on the verge of that huge, open-mouthed smile I’ve only seen in your sleep. And once in a while, usually right when you wake up from a nice nap, you look me right in the eyes and grin.

Oh, that grin will knock a grown man to his feet. It’s a powerful thing, my child.

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You have a regular flow to your days. You wake up, nurse hungrily as if you’ve never eaten before, and then you’re ready for a long happy awake time. You lay on your back kicking your legs and smile at the wall, the ceiling, Owen, Schnitzel, whatever passes within your field of vision. You stay awake for almost 2 hours most days, just chillin’. Then you nurse again and usually fall asleep while I pat your back. You love to be patted, jostled, bobbled, bounced. Can’t get enough. I can only imagine how much you were wiggled and jiggled in my belly, as I was very active when I carried you around for 9 months. After that I swaddle you and put you in your crib again (or sometimes give in to your quiet breathing and sit on the couch with you on my shoulder for as long as I can). The rest of your day is a cycle of sleeping, eating, pooping (usually while eating), happy awake time, and more sleeping.

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Come 5 or 6pm your ‘tude takes a turn. I’m not sure what it is about this witching hour (ahem, hourS), but you are fussy and hungry and difficult to figure out until “bed time”, which is around 9pm for now. We’re getting the hang of it, but usually calming you during this time involves feeding you and feeding you and feeding you some more, and bouncing you with the noise of the tv in the background. You simply will NOT be in your crib or the quiet nursery at this time. I guess I should be thankful… learning to sleep through noise will serve you well in life, little guy. Especially in this house. And in college. Keep it up.

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I can’t brag about your night time sleep since you’re not really into sleeping long stretches, but I am thankful that you are incredibly easy to put back to sleep. I can almost always put you in your crib drowsy but awake, and so far you really haven’t needed much rocking or swaying or shhhing the way your big brother did. Still, I’d love to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time… mmkay? Can we try that?

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Oh Emmett, I may never have the time to write down all of the reasons you are special and loved and so, so precious to me. And I may not take your monthly pictures on the right day, or even at all. And it is inevitable that you will be compared to Owen as we discover ways that you are similar and different. But you must always know that I am madly, head-over-heels in love with you, and there isn’t a darn thing you could ever do to change that.

From the very first moment you arrived, you stretched my heart in a way I never imagined.

Love,
Mommy

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P.S. You make these hilarious squeaky sounds while you sleep and eat. For a few days we even nicknamed you “Squeaks”. But it didn’t stick. You know what did? Bonky Bonks. For the way you bobble your head around and peck our shoulders like a baby bird when you are hungry. I’m so sorry if this one sticks, my little Bonky Bonks.

She Says… Family of 4

It’s no secret that my lovely husband is good with a camera. As a result, we have an abundance of gorgeous photos of our family. However, they all have one thing in common: they don’t include Benjamin. I make a point to turn the camera around on him once in a while, and while I’m not half-bad as a photographer, I’m nowhere near a professional. And then, of course, the pictures are lacking another important member of our family (me!), so they are still not complete.

Enter my talented, professional photographer friend Elizabeth of Elizabeth Horne Photography. She takes amazing pictures.

She came over a couple weeks ago to capture the beginning of our little family of 4.

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I can’t even begin to pick my favorites. I love them all.

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She captured that twinkle in Owen’s eye, and his nonstop rambunctiousness. I know firsthand how hard it is to catch this kid being STILL for even a second, which makes these images even more impressive.

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Emmett’s scowl cracks me up. He makes that face a lot — such expressive brows!

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Brothers being brothers.

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Me and the boys. It’s still a little surreal to say “the boys”.

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A rare, sweet, quiet moment with just Emmett.

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Any attempts at a family photo were foiled (enhanced?) by Owen’s hilariousness. I must say, though, I love these even more than a “perfect” one with everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time. That’s our family, in a nutshell.

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Case in point.

Welcome to the craziness, Emmett.