Siblings, Sunsets, & SoCal

How do I get back to SoCal? Seriously, though if I could pack up the family, blink my eyes, and find myself permanently resettled in Southern California my dreams might have come true. First, the people draw us in. My brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew spend their sunny, warm days in a truly beautiful setting. These people are the salt of the earth type. If they weren’t already family, I would probably stalk them into a friendship! From the minute our airplane’s wheels touched down, they took great care of us. Being with them, exploring with them, lounging with them, playing with them, and enjoying them made the weekend. Henry had the time of his life with his little cousins and cuddling with his Auntie and Uncle. The goal of the weekend was to share some quality family time and keep those moments out-of-doors. After our brutal New England winter, David and I feel like apocalypse survivors: Are there other humans out there? Is it safe? What is that bright yellow globe in the sky?  From backyard cookouts to long strolls along the water, to watching beachy sunsets, to visiting petting zoos and all things kid friendly, we truly soaked up the best of being with our family and the SoCal weather.

The flights to Cali were long. While we may feel like “seasoned” family travelers this trip still proved we are bit of a novice team not quite ready to win the Amazing Race. Inbound we were focused, playful, and in control of the situation. Henry played, laughed, and overall did well getting over to the West Coast. Interestingly the most well-behaved, adorable little boy sat behind us and let Henry read some of his books and play with some of his toys. It was kind of this weird idyllic co-parenting experience between rows 30 and 31 on that airbus. The way back…not so much. A weather delay followed by a mechanical delay made our flight two and a half hours longer than expected.  H was not a happy camper. Before the wheels lifted on our connection back to Boston, he was DONE. A constant nagging sound emanated from his throat and filled the cabin around us. He could not be distracted nor was he interested in sleeping. Ironically in front of us, a family of 3 also struggled to keep the peace and quiet.  Our kids had decided to make a pact of discontent!  Rows 30 and 31 were the epicenter of every other passenger’s worst nightmare. But, hey we all made it safely home and isn’t that really all the matters in the end?

Enough about the crazy travel. That was a mere blip on the screen of this epic weekend. How all of this happened in one weekend is shocking! Isn’t it crazy how three full and warm days can trick your body and soul into thinking it was on a two week hiatus? After we landed, we were immediately greeted by the many embraces of our family. We settled right in with one another and adventured throughout the afternoon catching good food and glimpses of the beach through the early afternoon. We ended the evening at home in the yard while the kids played and we sipped wine and chatted about all sorts of things. Henry slept like a champion despite the time change and this allowed for all of us to be at our best. We were rested and refreshed for our second day. It started with some great playtime. The California littles were SO good a playing with their baby cousin. They included him in everything, shared with him, and taught him along the way. Watching my child play with my brother’s children was a gift. I could not help but project into future playdates and visits.

On top of all this fun, we also drove down to San Diego to be a part of my dear friend, Sarah’s wedding. Gosh what a beautiful ceremony, cocktail party, and dinner scene! I was not surprised in the least that these nuptials were the most fun and romantic ever! Sarah and Jesse are some of the coolest, most genuine people I know and their wedding was a true testament to their awesomeness. They married in their botanical Garden of Eden backyard and shared their home, good food, and happy chickens with all of their guests. No exaggeration, their vows were some of the most beautiful promises I have ever heard exchanged at a wedding and it was SO fun to be witness to their love. They deserve simply the best!

So what did we learn while on our California dreaming weekend? A lot.

Southern California is a utopia of beautiful people, beautiful weather, beautiful food.

Neighborhoods are manicured resort towns that beg visitors to pitch their tent permanently.

I miss my brother, sister-in-law, and littles SOOOOOOOOOOO much. Seriously, it KILLED my heart to say to goodbye.

Henry is crazy for animals particularly of the petting zoo variety. Let’s just say he tried to lick one too many chickens out there.

Henry & the littles are going to be fast friends while growing up and I cannot wait to watch it!

My bro and sis-in-law are really cool people, whom I love as family and friend.

Cheeseburgers, fries, and special sauce are all you need to eat every day.

There is nothing wrong with 3 or 4 cups of coffee in one day when shared among good company.

Projecting movies and watching them 4-across in bed is a hilarious way to spend time together #bestideaever

I am obsessed with Costco fig bars…must get Costco membership stat!

Henry is a wild man at weddings, tearing off clothes & dancing, waving, and shouting at guests. He will inevitability be a wedding crasher we presume.

You can never have enough Disney princesses or clip-on earrings or dresses.

Savor every second because these visits are short and truly are the very best of times.

new year resolution…sort of

I used to love making new year resolutions. It always seems like a fresh slate on my bad habits and sluggish ways. Somehow January first promises to bring everything anew. Typically my resolutions or fresh starts are unimaginative: eat better, exercise more, save money. This year, while I will probably still hold those as important, I also just want to take this year more slowly. Each year feels like a race to the next step.  So this year, I am going to adopt a new mindset around time and family. Instead of racing between events and scurrying between appointments and packing our weekends full, full, full, I am going to ease up on all of this. My priority, love, and attention will be focused on my new family unit.  Henry is this little for such a fleeting moment that it is important for us to savor, enjoy, and prioritize our time with him and as a family. I want to enjoy this year of first for us and this year of being a new family. It feels right to turn a bit inward this year and ensure the tranquility, love, and happiness of the home front. This doesn’t mean that we will forgo all relationships with friends but it does mean that we will be more discerning of our time in a way that perhaps forgoes our more flippant scheduling of the past.

K comes to town!

A week went by too quickly! Auntie Kaelin came to town this past week and we had quite the visit.  From shopping, to sharing cocktails, to playing with H, to eating way to much food, to lounging together on the couch and catching up, it was a lovely visit. I wish Madison and Boston were closer so that Kaelin and I could hang out throughout the year. Thank goodness FaceTime is so easy, but it is still not the same as a face-to-face.

Auntie K was an excellent auntie. H loved singing his repertoire of baby tunes with her, rolling around on the floor with her (showing off his new move of sitting independently), and snuggling and laughing with her.  After a week of us, I am sure K is excited to be back to life without baby chaos but she definitely enjoyed the chaos while here! I am really looking forward to our next visit and restarting the series: ‘Drinking with Baby.’ No one mixes into our life here in Boston as seamlessly as Auntie K, but every time she goes, it breaks our hearts!

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henry adam: six months

Why is it that I love and hate ticking the months off? Each month is SO different with this little guy. He learns so much and becomes more and more social with each passing day and I love all of this. And, I hate it! I wish I could hold on to these minutes more. Everywhere I go with him, strangers always stop to say, “Ah, savor this time it doesn’t last long.” I want to say to them, “I know and it kills me! And how did you adjust because clearly you are saying this to me because your babies are now thirty or so, no?” Oh well…it is the plight of all of us mommies and daddies.  Aside from this sad introduction, I promise this has been a fun month, in fact the best yet. (Yes, now that I am a mommy to this little guy, I cannot help but be hyperbolic, it comes with singing children’s songs all day long!).

This month, Henry is all laughs. And, when David gets Henry into a laughing fit my heart melts. These two guys already seem to share something special. Henry knows that when daddy is in the room it’s time to get the belly laughter started. David holds Henry high over head and “adjusts his grip” shifting Henry from his right to left hand and back eliciting the baby giggles. Growling on his belly or neck will do the same. Whenever we pack him up for an outing and buckle him into his car seat we share Eskimo kisses, touching our noses to his and he cannot stop himself from cracking a smile and giving us more of those adorable, sweet laughs. And one of my favorite new additions to the Henry laughter list is “goo goo gaa gaa.” Lately, if you are holding him and start this little baby phrase, he cracks up.  Perhaps he is mature enough to know that adult baby talk is ridiculous?

Henry has been eating and eating and eating this month. As I type that it sounds so weird to me. Obviously he is eating otherwise he we would have a problem on our hands. But, what I mean is that he is weaning on to solids and really enjoying himself. He seems to enjoy a fruit for breakfast, a fruit and some greens for lunch and greens for dinner. So far he has enjoyed:  sweet potato, carrots, turnips, avocado, peas, green beans with raisins and apples, banana, mango, pear, butternut squash, apple and peach. Some of these he enjoyed more than others but overall he hasn’t been fussy about eating as long as you pull his highchair about in the kitchen like a choo choo before settling down to the meal. We even tried some BLW with a banana and toast twice. I peeled the banana the first time and while he could grasp it initially, it quickly became too slippery. The second time with a little help from my mommy friends, we peeled the banana a little and left a bit of a hand grip for him.  This was a much more successful attempt! We see our pediatrician on Henry’s six month birthday and we plan on really starting BLW then once we get the green light (because I am such a chicken about choking)!

Christmas is a cozy time of year and with it sandwiched by both David’s and my birthday this time of year is so fun!  Now top this with a new little baby, and the joy of the season is quite palpable. Henry woke up around 8AM on Christmas morning and we were all so giddy and excited to race downstairs and open presents. I doubt he knew what was going on but he could definitely tell that the adults were happy and making a big deal about the beautifully wrapped packages.  Henry made out like a bandit. So much love poured in from family and friends all around the country. He received so many loving and wonderful gifts: a ride-a-long elephant, activity table, his entire 9 month wardrobe, a singing monkey, a sorting raccoon, a push cart, blocks,  rattles, hooded towels, and books. He was a lucky little boy and this was one very special first Christmas both for him and for his parents (I cannot believe I am this little guy’s mom and David is his dad, seriously?)!

Henry has developed a number of fun new skills this month. It all started with slobbery attempts at raspberries. He was determined to master this skill and practiced SO much. As soon as he woke from a nap, he immediately started to razz, after eating, during tubs, when being changed, when in the car, really just everywhere. And…he did it! After days of constant practice, he is now a pro-razz man! A weird new talent on the surface, but it is the first step toward real communication skills, so hurray! He is also able to sit on his own. This has completely changed how he plays. Now he rocks back and forth on his hands and knees into a sitting position and can reach and grab toys nearby. He seems so much more independent in a way because he can now get what he wants into his hands and play with it without being inhibited by the prone pose. Because of this mobility and sitting up (and even pulling up to standing), we have lowered his crib. David also has taught him to turn off lights, which has been incorporated into our sleep routine. It is adorable to watch his little hand encircle the light switch and ever so slightly lower the switch enough for the lights to go out. He is quite proud of himself. He loves to sit in your lap and read many books. He has a nice attention span now and is really interested in the story watching both the pages and your mouth as your read. With help, he likes to turn the pages too.

Despite the rapidly cooling temperatures, we have been out and about. First, Noah was born!!  Henry’s little best friend finally joined us and we have visited him and his parents and were excited to celebrate Christmas with them as well! We attended music classes at the Sudbury Library and introduced this to Noah too. Most excitedly we visited the aquarium downtown. Henry was amazed! He was enthralled by the fish and turtles. He just watched everything and reached out to touch everything. I can already see that this will become a standard spot for us. And, obviously you have to follow-up a visit to the aquarium with a visit to the North End for cannolis, no? Yes, I could get very used to this family outing. And to cap off the month, Henry turned 26 weeks old on New Year’s Eve, he currently is weighing and is tall and wears size 9 months clothing!

Henry is really into:

  • Since Master Henry is drooling like it is his job, he needs to wear a bib all day or have multiple costume changes. I am not a fan of the bib look so we discovered these scarf bibs and love how hip he looks!
  • Someone loves to read these days. His new favorites are: Babies Everywhere, Baby Loves Summer, Giraffes Can’t Dance, and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.
  • Now that the little man is munching his way through solids we have found these leather bibs to be SO helpful in keeping him clean and they wipe clean so there is no extra laundry (Thank you, Bryan and Jessie!)
  • We have started using Honest diaper wipes and really like them. They have a mild scent, a textured material which allows for super easy clean-up, and they are supposed to be made of only good, safe stuff for baby bums.
  • And to hold the little man’s food we have been using these espresso cups!  Yup, we now measure how much he eats by how full the espresso cup is: He ate 2/3 of an espresso cup today!
  • Henry had a really good Christmas with lots of love coming in from all other the country. Some of his new favorite toys are his ride-along elephant and activity table. He just cannot get enough of these. (Thank you, Andy and Heather)

henry adam: five months

“Where is he?” David asks as we stare at the baby monitor at 2AM. Quickly, we scan the cam from side to side. “Ah, there he is, all the way up in the corner,” I sigh, relieved. Henry might not be fully mobile but he is definitely not still any more! It might take him a long time to creep across the crib but if you miss the process (because you are catatonic between feedings) his positional change seems tremendous! This nightly movement has been dubbed “creeping to the corner.” Each night, we lay the wee one down in the center of his crib on his back. It is a textbook transition. But this little guy has his own agenda these days and patiently creeps and drags his squishy body up into the corner of his crib so his face is smushed up against the rail as though he were trying to smother himself. And of course, he flops onto his belly. In this dangerous pose he slumbers sweetly and sticks his bum up for good measure! This, combined with his new talent of re-binkying himself, has helped lengthen his sleep cycle. I cannot help but laugh in the middle of the night while I watch him search for his binky in the dark. His little hand glides over the sheet searching for it, finding it, and then through a process of trial and error he is able to get the binky into his mouth correctly! Hooray!

Since mobility is the theme of the month, awake-Henry is also actively scooting himself across the floor. He can now lock his arms and hold himself upright in a “crawling pose” and when on his belly he can do a fancy 360 spin. He rolls across his play mat and across the room, so turning your back on him to grab something or do something quickly is no longer an option. He is able to hold himself upright in a sitting pose for about 30 seconds and really wants to master this skill. Lying under the canopy of his play mat is frustrating for him as he would much rather sit up alongside his baby gym in an seated assist. He is our adorable, floppy gymnast as he tries out his new moves and we spot him throughout his day! This spotting includes watching him stand and hold onto various low items around the house. Henry likes to grab onto the coffee table, his bookcase, and the couches. But it will definitely be a little while before he can do this without a helping hand. Lastly, my latest favorite Henry move is the crunch out of the car seat. He clearly knows that when the buckle to his car seat is unclasped, it is time to come out. He immediately locks his arms and crunches forward with all his might in an attempt to bust out. I cannot help myself from laughing at this adorable attempt.

There have been so many firsts this month, including a whole lot of laughter. Henry finds yawning to be hilarious.  Do you want to snap a great shot of the little guy with a sweet smile? Then just start yawning at him. He literally cannot contain himself. He also laughs when he sneezes! When I sneeze, he cries but when the sneeze is self-generated he laughs and laughs and laughs.  If you nibble his belly while changing him, he bursts out laughing and cannot contain his delight as he flies about the house as an airplane in the arms of his dad! And then there is the owl puppet.  Henry loves this fury little toy. He watches it swoop and fly and dive bomb him for belly tickles. This is where we hear his heartiest laugh!

Did you know Henry eats? Well, sort of. We started noticing that when we ate in front of the little guy he started to fuss or stared at our food with his mouth agape. The signs were becoming clear. This boy was ready to start some solids. David assembled his high chair and we tried the first meal: peas. The green mush did not go over well. Henry batted our hands away and made those baby faces that all babies make with their first bite of solids. We were excited nonetheless, because at least he tried it and we would just have to introduce it again some other day. Bananas have been a recent hit!  He eats almost a sixth of a banana which is a lot for someone so small. No more batting the food away, he eagerly opens his mouth for a spoonful and even cried out for more! Watching Henry explore food is hilarious and awesome. I can already see this is going to be fun…and quite messy. I am hoping to start BLW (baby lead weaning) once he is about six months. A number of my mommy friends are doing it and they love the experience.

Lastly, every parenting article about sleep suggests establishing a sleep routine early and sticking to it. We followed this advice but it never seemed like Henry cared for it. Sometimes he would cry through a bath or fuss through a book. He seemed always to want just to nurse and sleep. Finally, this month it all clicked for him and you can tell he “gets it.” He splashes and plays in the tub and he squeals when we lay him down to put on his pajamas and halo sleep sack. As soon as we pull the books out, he gets quiet and focuses on each and every page. His favorite bedtime stories are Dear Zoo and the Going to Bed Book. It is amazing to see how he anticipates the different steps of his sleep routine. Then David kisses and cuddles him before it is time to nurse. With the lights out, the nightlight on and his tranquil turtle playing softly in the background, Henry and I rock on the glider together while he nurses. This is going to sound super sappy but sometimes in this setting with my drowsy little boy I cry a little because it is so overwhelmingly sweet and cozy. He holds my hand and looks up at me and I tell him how much I love him and how special he is to daddy and me and how we are so lucky to have him in our lives. Then prying myself away I lay him in his crib.

This month:

  • Snuggles are constant. Henry loves to snuggle. He can lay and cuddle in your arms all day. He loves to sneak into the nook of your neck and play with your hair and just be held nice and close. Gosh this is my ABSOLUTE favorite!
  • Coy smiles happen every day. He gets this light in his eyes and just cracks the sweetest smile at you even from behind his binky.
  • Mobility is growing. This kid is ready to be on the move.
  • Henry arches his back when you try to change him, because really diaper changes have been too easy these past four month, ha! And, he tries to roll and roll away from you.
  • He loves to scratch fabric in order to hear the sound it makes, he especially loves scratching the netting on the side of his pack n’ play and the arms of his glider while nursing.
  • Rolling is a skill we see practiced. You cannot lay him down without him rolling right over.
  • Art cards for babies from Wee Gallery are vastly entertaining these days.
  • Puppy pets are a must. He loves to get close to them and reach out his hand to touch their backs and heads. Who needs TV when you have four puppies to watch wrestle about the house? They entertain Henry for hours.
  • Henry tried some arts and crafts this month. During our mommy brunch, he made Christmas trees with his feet. Afterward, I tried to make turkey hands to send to our family and friends but this was a Pinterest fail.

lion man

I am not sure what Henry’s first Halloween will look like exactly. Since it falls on a Friday, David and I will both have to work during the day.  Once we get home, it might be either too late or too cold to take the lion man out. Of course, if these two concerns do not present themselves, then we are aiming to taking the little lion out on the town (for at least a few minutes) to “trick or treat.” It will be funny bringing him by our neighbors homes or bringing him over to close friend’s. If nothing else, he will don his little costume and we will observe the holiday through photographs! I am sure Henry is psyched about it!

Regardless of how we celebrate on October 31, Henry was able to spend a little afternoon with his friends recently at a pumpkin festival in costume!  It was adorable seeing his little buds dressed as a strawberry, cow, and astronaut. And, of course I loved seeing their parents as well. It is nice being a part of a little group of moms to share stories, insights, goofy moments, and, most importantly, to watch our babies grow up, thrive, and begin to reach out and “play” with one another. It is such a fun part of mommy-hood. To me, this was our Halloween celebration!

dogs & babies

It has been said that a dog is man’s best friend, and “a dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” In our house, this is incredibly true. Since welcoming Henry into our lives, we have not been the best puppy parents. Henry’s needs have constantly come before our own and before our pups. He has laid a fog over our eyes in which we see only his little self and his little needs. And despite this negligence, Buster and Bella have been unflappable in their love for their less then mindful pack leaders. They continue to be love and loyalty personified.

In the middle of night when Henry chirps and squawks, the dogs cock their heads to the sound, confirm that the little man is being addressed by one of the humans, and return to slumber as best as they can. Just like the humans, they have not had one restful night since July. Yet, they remain ever present. They come to bed each night and brace for the restlessness. They warm the bed on chilly nights and occasionally lick an exposed leg or hand to remind us that they are there and there they shall remain. In the wee hours of the night, when I am awake with my little owl, I know I am not alone since their half-watchful eyes and their always ready to secure selves remain close by.

When I am frustrated that they are crowding the bed while I try to nurse Henry, a short “move, move, move” and Bella lumbers over to the end of the bed in order to make space for this unapologetic newcomer and her sometimes distraught and disheveled adult human . During the day when we aren’t always able to take them for walks, they head out back and make do with the yard. They romp about and play with each and return to the house and maintain their quiet, watchful place. When Henry is on the floor flaunting an interesting toy, they don’t rush ahead for it, they lay beside him, sometimes steal of lick of his little hand or of his toy.  But, they know these are not their toys and instead wait for this little human to grow up into the boy who will chase them about the house. As a result of their condition, the dogs play a long waiting game. They wait for David and I to pet, cuddle, and play with them, they wait outside a lot longer these days while we wrangle the little man inside, they wait and wait for Henry to grow up.  They are truly beautiful, wonderful, amazing pups. They have proven that despite their world being turned upside down by this pint size new ruler of the home, that they are calm, loving, patient little beasts.