Tag Archives: brothers

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… A Solid “Meh”.

A few days after Emmett’s 4 month doctor’s appointment we felt ready for one of my favorite baby milestones. Or, rather, something that was one of my favorite milestones for Owen, so it’s all I’ve ever known. In pure 2nd baby fashion, it went completely differently than what I expected.

FOOD.

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We started playing with solid food on the earlier side (a little over 4 months old) with Emmett for many reasons, not the least of which is that now that he is on gross hypoallergenic formula (another story for another blog post!), I feel strongly that introducing him to some better/more interesting flavors and textures is important. Also, it’s REALLY fun. I love introducing my babies to the tastes and smells and experience of enjoying food.

We were in a similar situation with Owen when he turned 4 months. The minute I put that first bite of avocado in his mouth it was like Christmas morning. His eyes lit up, his lips smacked, his toes curled in happiness. The kid ate like a Hoover from the very first day. And pretty much never stopped (save for some picky eating phases along the way, all of which ebbed and flowed and eventually left again).

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Emmett’s verdict?

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MEH.

I started him with avocado just like his big bro. Lord knows I ate enough avocados while pregnant with/breastfeeding him that he’s practically been eating it since the day he was created. However, that familiarity didn’t seem to help much. He just wasn’t into it.

He tolerated the spoon on his lips. He tolerated me dabbing a little avocado mush onto them. He licked. Scowled. Got full-body shivers. Used his tongue to push it right back out.

Given that he’s still so little (5 months yesterday — another blog post in the works!), I’m totally not sweating it. Or pushing it. After the first time I waited a week before trying again. Since then I’ve been offering a few bites every night when we eat dinner as a family. He sits at the table in his high chair and enjoys the company, if not the food so much. I’ve offered avocado and sweet potato.

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The only time he will really open his mouth and eat? When big brother Owen is doing the feeding.

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Which sort of feels like an accident waiting to happen (I heard myself saying, “Oops! Don’t stick the spoon all the way down his throat!”). But honestly? Both boys love it. Owen loves being the big brother (read: IN CHARGE), and Emmett sits there and giggles nonstop at Owen.

Owen’s new favorite game: Will Emmett swallow or spit his food back out?

So although he’s not exactly Hoovering yet, I’m hoping he’ll warm up to food soon. Yet another reminder of how different 2 kids can be!

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… Hangin’ with the big boys

Owen has always loved hanging out with kids older than him. On his end of year evaluation last year, his teachers from school wrote that he often spends his lunches chattering with the teachers (making them laugh with story after story, since the little motor mouth never stops talking) more than with his peers. When he was younger I think it had to do with the fact that he was so verbal so early, and many of his peers didn’t talk back at the same level when he talked to them. Even now when he plays with kids who are not as talkative, he’ll come to me and say things like  “she’s not answering me”. The kid likes feedback. And conversation. And he will talk you under the table if you don’t pipe up. And don’t you DARE try to have an adult conversation without including him. It will backfire. Big time.

Anyway, talking aside, he has always been drawn to older kids. On the playground I love to watch him insert himself into the games other kids are playing (except when they exclude him, like this time) and how he strikes up a conversation with just about anyone. He fearlessly tries to do exactly what the older kids are doing, even if he’s way too small to do it. He’ll follow the big kids around like a puppy dog, doing anything to get their attention.

Last weekend we spent a lovely fall afternoon hanging out in our neighbor’s backyard for their annual Oktoberfest party (we went last year as well). Our neighbor’s brother comes every year and has two boys (7 and 5 years old) who are pretty much the quintessential wild brothers who wrestle each other to the ground and beat each other up constantly. While last year Owen was a bit too little to join their shenanigans, this year he was the perfect age to jump right in.

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The unofficial 3rd brother.

At first I think they were hesitant about him joining in (he didn’t know how to play soccer, for instance, and just wanted to kick the ball when they were actually trying to play), but soon enough they were all three wrestling each other to the ground.

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It was like Benjamin and I were seeing our future. Two rough boys punching each other in the face over and over and over again and laughing hysterically, egging each other on.

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Benjamin was squirming on the sidelines and kept calling out useless things like, “Be careful!”, whereas I was laughing and letting the boys be boys. Can you tell he didn’t have a brother? I think he’d better get used to it.

As is generally the case when you let kids figure things out on their own and interfere as little as possible, despite how rough they were being there were no tears or hurt feelings. Just a lot of pushing and shoving and pile-ups and a whole lot of smiling.

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I loved it. I am not wishing away these sweet baby months, but I do like the looks of what a few years will bring. Brothers. Being brothers. Entertaining each other. Smacking each other one minute and sticking up for each other the next. Partners in crime. Rough on the outside, sweet on the inside.

This year, though, Emmett spent his Oktoberfest doing this:

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Give him another couple years and he’ll be out there wrestling with the best of ’em, I’m sure.