Saturday, December 12, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

At Kailey's parent-teacher conference the other day, Mr. Cunningham shared with us the story Kai wrote recapping our Thanksgiving.  He didn't let us have it because he said he wanted to keep it in order to have a point of comparison later in the year to assess her continued development.  I think he wanted to keep it because it is hilarious -- recounting the stomach flu horror that pervaded our Thanksgiving break.  Once I get it, I'll update this post to include her retelling of our fateful week.

This was really the first real Thanksgiving in our Sacramento home.  Last year, for the first time in more than a decade, we didn't bother with a turkey and didn't do much on the actual holiday.  We did throw a big tamale party the Saturday after Thanksgiving and had many of our new Sacramento friends join us.  But, it wasn't our traditional holiday. 

This house was really made for the holidays -- the layout is great for entertaining.  It's a fun kitchen to cook in.  And, we were excited to host my parents for Thanksgiving week. The night before they came, we decided we needed to get a new bed right away (as in delivered the next day!) because then we could put our Olympic Queen bed in the guestroom and my parents would have a real bed to sleep on.  As we were going from store to store trying to find a place that would deliver the mattress we wanted the next day, I realized that this shopping mania is also a bit of a tradition for us.  Last year, it was our dining room set that we got for this house when we realized that it was going to be difficult to throw a tamale party for 15+ people with an empty dining room and just a little kitchen table.  Then there was the year we got the pull-out couch that is now in our living room when we realized that there was no extra bed to sleep on for guests that were coming in our 670 foot Oakland home.  There was the year of the dining room table we got for the Sunset house in San Francisco -- same realization as we had invited about 25 people to Thanksgiving dinner!  We got the mission furniture for our bedroom in the same frenzied manner. Apparently, our yearly entertaining the week of Thanksgiving is a good motivator to furniture shop!

So, this year, we decided to upgrade our Olympic Queen bed to a Cal King.  Ahhh..... the luxury of being able to fit two children and two kittens into our bed with room to spare! And, getting a real bed in the guestroom, meant we could move the futon into the living room . And, we decided to move the nice area rug in that room into the living room too. 

The next morning, Saturday, my parents arrived in time to see the last of Kailey's soccer games.  It was a good match and the end to a great season.  We had a soccer party that night, got the bed delivered, and then spent the afternoon and the next day watching Will while his parents moved (they moved into our neighborhood - just a block away -- so Alden's best friend is now our newest neighbor! Pretty cool).  At this point, if we were watching a horror flick, you'd hear the du-du -duuummm.  Turns out, Will had been under the weather.  His mom thought it was something he ate.  Turns out, not so much. 

On Sunday, we had family pictures taken.  I'm so glad our friend, Julie, organizes this these short photo sessions every year.  It is so nice to have real family pictures.  And, I like seeing how the kids change from year to year.  It was nice to have my parents here this year -- as we got some pictures with them, too!

On Sunday, Eric and I continued our shopping spree and bought a couple of side tables... suddenly the living room looks like a fully furnished room!  Complete with seating options for 7 - 10 people (if you count the bean bag chairs).  It's become a very cozy living room and so much more conducive to hanging out.

So, up to this point, all had been going well.  For some reason, on Monday, my mom and I were talking about sick kids and I commented, in a cocky sort of way, that my kids never throw up.  Ah-hem.  Note to self: karma is real.  We also had a new mattress delivered on Sunday since the mattress they delivered on Saturday was defective. 

So -- let's recap:  new mattress + bragging to my mom about how my kids never throw up = bad idea.  That night, around 10 PM, Kai came stumbling out of her room howling, "I threw up".  And, indeed, she'd managed to get it between her mattress and the bedframe, down the steps of her bunk, and all over the floor.  As we started stripping her bed and cleaning up, Alden started wailing from his room.  My mom went in and came out saying, "Alden threw up, too."  It took a moment for us to understand what was happening -- BOTH kids were sick.  We grabbed a bucket, started what was to be the first of about 1000 loads of laundry, and hunkered down for the night. Early on, Alden puked into the bucket followed by Kai and she said, "he only filled it a little -- I almost filled the WHOLE thing."  Ahhh... competition at its finest.  The kids threw up at least once an hour.  Everyone was miserable.  At about 5 AM, Eric started hurling too.  And, although, I wasn't vomiting... I was sick nonetheless.  It was awful.  We spent Tuesday barely moving.

But, by Thanksgiving day, no one was sick -- so we spent the day putting together a feast of cider-brined turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pies made starting with the pie pumpkins themselves, mashed potatoes using my new potato ricer (that is the way to make mashed potatoes!), butternut squash and apples, artichoke dip, and more.  Cathy, Aaron, Will and Cathy's mom Jackie all joined us for Thanksgiving.  It was fun to have our first real Thanksgiving feast!



Unfortunately, Thanksgiving week didn't end on a high note. Friday, my mom was stricken by the dreaded stomach bug.  She got a pretty mild case, but Friday night, my dad got it -- and he had it among the worst.  It was terrible -- and not a fun way to end the holiday weekend. 

By Sunday, everyone was recovered and my parents took off for the long drive home.  We spent Sunday going out to Apple Hill with the Weng-Guiterez family.  Alden was not at all excited about tree shopping.  He cried the whole hour plus drive to Apple Hill and then screamed the whole time we were there.  The tree farm was really cool -- but, we didn't end up getting a tree there.  Julie and Malachi found their tree while we dealt with a screaming toddler.  Then we all left to go get some food at another place just down the road.  Once Alden finally calmed down, we went to a nearby tree farm (Apple Hill has about 20 different tree farms) and found our Christmas tree.  And, we got a free train ride as an added bonus!  It was just a little train with a lawnmower motor -- but, Alden was thrilled. 

Despite the stomach flu, it was a nice week filled with family, cooking, games, decorating, and coziness.  And, by the weekend's end, we had a decorated tree, stocking hung, and thanks to the fact that we never bothered to take the holiday lights down last year -- the house is fully decorated!   Holidays... here we come! 

Little Boy

Alden just got the second haircut of his life this last weekend -- and this time we let her cut off the curls in the back.  He looks like such a BOY all the sudden.  Compare the picture above with the ones below... Where did my baby go? Seriously, how can a hair cut make such a huge difference? I'm so glad that Linda Ann snapped the picture above -- it's hard to catch Alden smiling and being still at the same time.  Most of my pictures are just a blurr of blonde hair!

It's not just losing those baby curls that is evidence that his baby-ness is being left behind.  Alden is practicing being a two year old with all his might lately.  He is a boy that knows what he wants.  As has been the case his whole life, Alden LOVES music.  But, now, he has very specific songs he wants to hear.  We'll ask him if he wants to play some music and he'll nod in the affirmative, bending at the waist, so that it's a full-body nod while he grins ear to ear.  He really knows how to say "YES!"  Then we'll turn on a song and he'll scrunch up his face, furrow his brow and shake his head "no" very vigorously.  Wrong song.  We'll try another one.  Wrong again.  Once we find the song he was thinking of -- he'll burst into a grin and start jumping and dancing and spinning.  It's hilarious, although, it can be a little frustrating guessing which song he has in mind.  It's never the same one. 

He also loves dancing.  As opposed to most 20 month olds, Alden experiments with different movements.  He'll try jumping, moving his head from side to side, bending his shoulders, spinning... it hasn't been the easiest thing to capture on film, but here's a video of one of our recent dance parties:

He also has an evolving sense of humor.  No one can make Alden laugh harder than Kailey.  They crack each other up and work each other into a frenzy. 

And now they share a room!  For some reason, Alden turned on a dime and is suddenly extremely difficult to put to bed at night.  I was gone for a couple of nights for a work trip, and every since returning, I cannot get Alden to go to bed.  He freaks out in his crib, and even managed to hop out of it in a fit of rage the other night.  So, that's not safe!  No more crib for Alden.  We decided to lower Kai's bed so that it is no longer a loft -- but rather just a normal twin bed.  And we set up the toddler bed in her room so they can share a room - but, then, if Alden decides to crawl into bed with Kai at night, he's not going up a ladder and risking falling out.  We thought that might be the answer to our sleep problems -- but, he has continued to resist going to sleep at night, screaming whenever we attempt to leave the room, and flying into hysterics.  Last night was a little better -- I stayed with him until he was asleep, but the whole routine only took an hour as opposed to the 2 - 3 hour ordeals of the previous 4 nights. 

He really likes his toddler bed and is napping in it without any issue.  But, something has got him worried at nighttime -- so, we're working through that. 

Alden also has developed the most hilarious way of getting Eric's attention.  He hollers out, "DAAAAA-DAAAAA" at the top of his lungs but in a way that is somehow exceptionally cute.  He is very into his daddy these days.  He loves doing projects with Eric.  Whenever the tools come out, Alden gets very excited to help out.  He follows Eric around and whenever he leaves the room, Alden hollers his distinctive "DAAA-DAAA".  I caught it on video:

The combination of the haircut, toddler bed, opinions, jokes, newfound skills, increased communication, and big kid problems -- it's clear that Alden is not a baby anymore.  But, still, when I ask him, "who's my baby?" he hugs me and says "Bab-ee".  So, maybe for a few more months, I'll get to hang onto those baby cuddles and that baby sweetness. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Second Grade Report Card

Kailey's writing skills this year are really taking off.  No longer does she write outside the line, in big letters, tacking letters on vertically when she runs out of space on the page.  And, her stories have structure and so much detail.  It's amazing to see how much she has learned in just a few months in second grade.  I am going to try to save some of her writing and transcribe it here.  The story she brought home this week is "My Favorite Holiday".  Her teacher has them put together a writing web to organize their thoughts, and then write 5 paragraphs based on that web. 

"My Favrit Holiday is Crasmas.  By: Kailey
On Crasmas you get a Crasmas tree from a tree farm and you cut down the tree and the pepol who work thar will rap the chrmas tree in string to put on the top of your care and driv home. 
When you get home you get out your Chrmas tree decorasnons then you get out your Chrmas tree stand and stand teh tree up.  Then you cut the strong off the tree and then you decratit with lights to the top.  Then you put on the orments then finally you get to put on the star at the vary top of the tree.  Then you can tern off the lights.
For Chrmas I want a flut, a piano, and a violin.  My mom side it will be vary expensof to by just tree instrments for Chrmas.  I might want a new bak pak because I have had the bak pak sence Kindergarden! I also want to have a fier on Chrmas because winter is cold and I want to be warm.
If you put stokings up by the fier place you can put toys and stof in the stoking and on Chrasmas you can look into the stoking and see what is inside the stoking.
When it gets to Chrmas you can take the prasints from under the tree and opind the ones that say your name.  You can also take the stoking that seys you name in a coler and look what is inside it and mabiy your family will build a fier so you can warm up by the fier and drink hot coco."
I love her image of Christmas -- even if it is way more traditional than we ever really planned!!  Ahh how parenthood changes a person :)
We just had her parent teacher conference last night -- and she is doing excellent in 2nd grade.  She got "Exceeds Expectations" for her writing, science, demonstrating effort to do her best, and following complex directions and instructions.  In all other areas she's meeting expectations -- and I can tell she is learning and really enjoying school this year.  Her teacher is phenomenal and the assignments are interactive and hands-on.  Kai comes home excited to share things she has done and she is practicing her writing, math and projects at home without being prompted. 
Her teacher wrote about her:  "Kailey has transitioned from first to second grade very well.  She works very hard and seems to enjoy both the academic and social elements of our class. I'm impressed with Kailey's enthusiasm for learning, critical thinking and kindness toward her peers.  She is really excelling in Science and brings great enthusiasm to the subject."
Good Work, Kailey!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015



Two weeks ago, Kai hit 100 points on her behavior charts (well, sort of, we kind petered out on the behavior chart at about 70 points, which Kai pointed out, and then we reconstructed a few weeks and... well, we let her get to 100 points).  Anyway, Kai THINKS she got to 100 points and, to her credit, she has been better about helping out around the house (unless she's in a mood.. and then she complains and drags her feet and gets in trouble).  She also has been doing a LOT better behavior-wise at school.  The first few weeks of the school year, she was getting her name on the board quite a bit.  Having your name on the board is a warning.  A check next to your name is a step up from that.  Kai had gotten quite a few checks. 

But, following the school election, she's only had her name up on the board once.  She has really been making an effort to listen in class, be a good member of the community, help others out, and stay on task.  Her teacher has commented on her efforts to us. 

So, the combination of doing better at home and school got her to her point goal, and two weekends ago, we visited a home that advertised on craigslist as having two 6-week old kittens to adopt.  They are tuxedo cats, and from the moment we saw them, we knew they were going to be part of our home.  We rushed over to the K-Mart and bought food, litter boxes, a kitten carrier and some toys and then trekked back to the home that was giving the kittens away and, the next thing we knew, we'd adopted a couple of very tiny, adorable tuxedo cats (they are 1 pound each) -- Dash and Flash. 

Kai was super excited.  The kittens were super nervous.  And the first night home was a bit of a disaster.  For some reason, we decided to take them out in the kitchen. We should have taken them out in some kind of enclosed area.  Think excited 7 year old, excited 1 year old who is HOLLERING about DIT-TTIES, and terrified kittens.  The kitchen was not the place to properly introduce ourselves to them. 

At first, we were holding them, but then Dash (who immediately earned his name), dashed between the refrigerator and the cabinet (a space about 3 inches wide, if that).  I yelled, "oh no!! no!! get him!" and we peered down the stretch of expanse leading to the back wall, where we though he'd stop. But, no, he turned left, heading behind and UNDER the broom closet cabinet, which gave him about 2 inches in space above him. 

Kai burst into tears.  Alden was hollering.  We figured there was no way that kitten would ever return.  It was, in short, a total nightmare.  We pulled the fridge away from the wall -- which took more than a little doing as that thing is HEAVY.  Eric had to rig up a pulley system.  I put Alden in the pack and play to get him out of the way and he was hysterically crying.  We pulled the dishwasher out, but that was futile because there was no way to the cabinet area through that route, which meant that there was only one way that the kitten could come back out (good news). 

Both Eric and I had visions of a dead kitten on the first night home and the trauma that Kai would endure from that experience . We were determined to get little Dash back out.  

I put Alden to bed.  Eric and Kai retreated to the guest bedroom to strategize.  The kitten stayed hunkered down, mewing pitifully.  We finally decided to drill a hole in the broom closet floor so we could poke something in and prod the kitten out.  Kai thought for sure we were going to drill the kitten, and I shared her concern.  But, somehow it worked -- the kitten emerged.  I grabbed him, hunkered down as I was behind the fridge (ouchie knees!)  We put the kittens back in their container, put Kai to bed, and set about reassembling the kitchen. 

Man alive -- it was a rough first night.

The next morning, Kai dressed as a black and white kitten and headed to school.  We were just relieved that both kittens made it through the night!

But, now it's been two weeks and the kittens are AWESOME.  They spent the first week in a large gated area that we created, putting a fitted sheet on top to keep them contained.  And, they got to know us.  They got used to having Alden should DID TIIES in their face repeatedly.  They got use to the chaos. We cuddled them frequently.  Dash is a brave little kitten, despite his first night of terror.  He plays with Alden, accepting his "gentle" pets and obliging him in games of chase.  It's adorable.  Flash has taken a little longer to come around, but she is starting to spend more time on our laps on her own accord and likes to nuzzle next to me and Dash at night (yes, now we have kittens AND Alden in our bed at night). 

Kai has also been fantastic about cleaning the litter boxes every day.  She loves cuddling her new kittens and playing with them. They have been hours of entertainment; although, I'm wishing they wouldn't do their entertaining at 2 AM. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Upping Our Game -- Halloween Style

Man oh man am I behind in posting.  This fall went fast.  Well, technically, it's still fall.  But, we are hurtling towards winter.  Sometimes I wish I could slow it all down a bit. 

We had a BLAST at Halloween this year.  Last year, we had only recently moved into our house when Halloween rolled around.  Halloween is a thing in this neighborhood.  We handed out about 600 pieces of candy last year.  This year it was 850.  Crazy.  And, people decorate their houses and make an event of it.  We put a few things on the lawn last year and tossed some pumpkins on our stoop as the sun was setting and the first of the trick-or-treaters were coming to the door.  And, several kids last year commented that "usually this house is scarier."  In other words, we were a disappointment.

But, not this year.  This year, we bought a ton of pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors.  We had them out on the stoop for a month leading up to the holiday.  We got a Halloween flag and bought a flag pole (since our house has a place for a flag pole... go figure).  And, we bought a GIGANTIC spider from Costco, which Eric hung from the huge oak tree in our front yard, the rope going into the upstairs bedroom so that we could lower it onto unsuspecting passer-bys as they walked down the street. We had a bunch of Kai and Alden's friends over for the afternoon of Halloween.  The intention was to do some holiday crafts and decorating... but they ended up just playing.  We ate a big dinner of lasagna and then everyone got ready for trick-or-treating and headed out into the neighborhood.  The kids only lasted around the block and then wanted to go back to count their candy, run around the yard in the dark, hand out candy to others, and take turns lowering the spider onto people.  It was so much fun! 

Alden really loved dressing up, too.  When Kai was his age, she'd keep the costumes on for about 5 minutes before tearing them off.  But, he kept his on for hours.  He didn't seem to mind being in costume at all.  We bought him a Yoda/Dobbie costume, but couldn't find it the night Halloween rolled around -- so he ended up trick-or-treating in his dog costume. It's a little baggy on him, but makes it that much cuter.

Kailey went as Hermione from Harry Potter.  Max was Harry Potter -- so it was really cute.  I didn't get a picture of the two of them together (what is wrong with me?!) but, suffice it to say, they were quite a cute pair.  Penny was a sorcerer... which also went along with the general theme. 

So, despite losing a costume, not doing my crafting projects, never carving the pumpkins, and not getting all the decorations up -- our house was a huge hit on Halloween, the spider lived up to the standards of scary, the kids had a blast, and we can't wait to do it again next year.  It's good for me to learn how to not get to hung up on the details and go with the flow (not my strong suits). But, next year, I do want to get more pictures.  That is definitely an area for improvement!

These are the only pictures I have that are Halloween related and include those leading up to Halloween (we tried out the costumes in advance), the night of the party, and post-Halloween. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kai's First Election

There is a Student Council at Kai's elementary school.  Most of the positions are for kids in 4th - 8th grade (President, Vice President, Secretary, Spirit Commissioner, etc) but, starting in 2nd grade, each class elects a class representative.  Kailey's class is full of big personalities.  Each of the kids is Type A, wants to be a leader, expects everyone to listen to him/her... together, they are an exhausting bunch!  We were talking to Kai's teacher this year, and he was saying - in the most politic of ways - that this class is high energy and full of kids that like to take charge.  Poor Mr. Cunningham! 

He is doing a great job with them, though.  He's been modifying his behavior system to fit the needs of the class -- what he had in place last year that worked wonderfully for the now 3rd graders was not working for Kai's class.  That is, he has a system of writing a name on the board if a kid is acting up, and then there is a check mark if the child continues to act out, and finally - if it doesn't stop - the student writes a reflection paper.  This wasn't working for Kailey's class as a way to stop and reflect on the behavior and switch directions.  They tend to get going on something and, consequences be damned, they continue to go.  So, now, Mr. Cunningham has moments during the day where he stops the whole class and has them reflect on their behavior.  Kai came home with a sheet that wrote that at each interval she was on task, learning, and he name was NOT on the board.  She was so proud.  And, pausing for a little self-reflection instead of catching it in the moment seems to be working better -- at least for Kai. 

Anyway -- when the class got the pitch about running for class representative, they were all in.  Seriously, all but 3 of them decided to run.  Because there was such high interest among the 2nd graders, the teacher who leads student council decided to have three kids be elected, each to serve one trimester. 

Kai came home from the meeting bursting at the seams -- she told us she was running for class representative.  She wasn't sure what she was supposed to do or when anything was due -- but, she was running.  I thought I heard her say something about Friday.  But, it was only Monday and we had a full week ahead of us. 

Then, Friday morning, I woke up at my usual hour of about 5 AM (ugh) and was looking at Facebook and saw that the mother of one of Kai's classmates had posted a picture of her daughter's campaign poster.  I panicked a little -- were those due?  At 5:30 I woke Eric up and told him I thought that the campaign posters might be due that day.  Kai had been so excited -- but, who knew whether she would continue to be excited at 6 AM when we woke her up to make the poster.  But, we also didn't want her to miss out since she had been so excited about it.  So, we woke her up.  She was none too excited to get out of bed and make a poster.  But, she rallied.  And soon we were all sitting around the dining room table brainstorming about her campaign slogans. 

We asked Kai what some of the things were that they were working on in class -- in terms of class goals.  We were just trying to get her thinking about what it was they were supposed to be doing at school and how she could contribute.  She told us that they had goals like being helpful, being kind, and don't panic.  "Don't panic?" we asked.  Kai explained that Mr. Cunningham had noticed that the class panicked a lot, so the last class goal was "don't panic."  We laughed and then someone said, "that should be your campaign promise -- you'll stop the panic!"  Kai laughed but then said no -- she didn't want to write that because people would laugh at her. 

It took some convincing her that making people laugh was not a bad thing -- it's how you get remembered.  And, when trying to get elected, you wanted people to remember you.  Kai wasn't too sure, but eventually she went with us, designing a poster with 4 campaign promises:

-- make 2nd grade fun
-- keep the school clean
-- keep spirit high
-- Stop the Panic!

Kai was nervous about sharing the poster with her class -- and she reported back that night that everyone had laughed, but that it was OK.  She laughed too. 

Mr. Cunningham later told us that he started a little joke with her -- walking over to her desk during an activity and saying, "Kailey, we really need to make second grade fun.  It's no fun in here."  Kai looked at him bewildered and said, "it's fun!"  And he pointed at her poster and Kai laughed.  And then, that became their inside joke a bit. 

The next week, each student gave a speech to the class.  Kai reiterated her campaign promises during her speech and she said everyone laughed at the stop the panic part.  But, it seemed to work.  Kai was one of the 3 students who was elected! 

She came home from school Friday so proud -- and we were proud of her.  Kailey Schwartz Wesselman -- 2nd Grade Class Representative!

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Second Child

For me, adjusting to a second child has been waaayyyy easier than adjusting to a first.  Before we had two, I heard many warnings that two wasn't just twice the work -- that it was exponential.  This gave us some pause.  But, as is obvious at this point, we took the plunge.  And, for me at least, the transition has been a lot easier than I anticipated.

The are several reasons for this.  I'm an older parent... so the first child was a big shift in lifestyle.  I was used to working whenever I wanted and being fully dedicated to my job. Not to say there weren't other things in my life, but the work life balance just wasn't really something I ever thought about.  Eric and I both worked and had jobs we were absolutely devoted to.  But having a child made me learn efficiencies in my time I never knew possible.  You know the saying, "if you want something done find a busy person to do it" -- that is so true.  I've learned how to cram 80 hours of work into 35 and keep a million balls in the air at once.

But, it isn't just learning the balance and routine and creating those efficiencies.  Moving to Sacramento has helped immensely.  Those hours of driving that I no longer have to do have been a life saver.  And a bonus that I didn't anticipate was that we have developed a real community here -- one that we never had to the same degree in the Bay Area. I always felt I didn't have time to socialize -- but, that time is so well spent in terms of happier children, feeling more connected to our community, and having people that you can call on when we need a little help. 

I've reflected a lot this last year on how these changes have come about.  In Kailey's second year of life, I was on edge.  This time is totally different.  I feel like we've landed somewhere really good for us.  I feel more seasoned as a parent.  I'm much better at rolling with the punches and being flexible.  I'm better at reaching out to others.  I'm better at talking to people and learning from them.  I'm more open to admitting my shortcomings as a parent and being ok with them (ie I'm not a crafter.  I don't make things for my kids.  And, that's OK.)

I've found that this time I am more aware of what's coming and better able to relax and enjoy the ages.  Maybe it's the age gap and having some distance from a one year old that makes me more patient with this one year old -- and more aware of how fleeting the time really is.  For every aggravation that comes with the age, I now know that those things shall pass, and pass quickly, along with all the sweetness and cuddles and nose rubs and discoveries and excitement that only a one year old can possess. 

My job is more settled now -- and I love my job.  Not having aggravation at work makes a big difference.

And, I've learned some tricks of the trade.  Alden goes to bed in his crib on his own!  I can scarcely believe I can write those words, given the years of trouble we've had with getting Kai to transition to her own bed.  But, with Alden, I give him some night time milk while reading stories (man, he LOVES stories.  He says "bok" "bok" and points at the pile of books.  He wants to read them all.  And he anticipates the pages.  In Goodnight Moon as we come to the page about the old lady who was whispering hush, Alden puts his finger to his lips and says, "shhhhh".  It is the cutest thing on the planet).  Anyway, after we finish reading, I brush his teeth, give him a long hug, put him in his crib and HE GOES TO SLEEP.  I mean, he doesn't stay in his bed all night. Let's not get crazy.  He's usually in our bed by 2 AM.  But, not having to lay next to him until he falls asleep means that I have an extra hour every evening to catch up on things, spend some time with Kai, or just relax.  It makes a big difference. 

I also think that having two has countless benefits -- and maybe this is the age difference again. But, Kai is a huge help.  She plays with Alden and entertains him.  They crack each other up and spend hours together on silly games.  She helps to look after him and is very mindful of his needs.  And, having a little brother means that she has someone to play with and to keep her occupied -- which reduces the amount of time that she spends wandering around after us claiming to be bored (which still happens sometimes, but not as much). The two of them are such an amazing pair -- and I feel like they needed each other.

Alden has been such a joyful baby -- and has really completed our family.  I think his first year of life was such a blur, that I didn't get to reflect on that much.  But, I really feel it now.  I love watching him saunter around, his hands trailing behind him, his goofy looks on his face.  He has such strong opinions and is a skilled communicator for one who only says about a dozen words.  He's just passed the 18 month mark -- I can't believe he's 18 months already. Although, he's the size of a two and a half year old and would like to be treated like a full-on adult.  Don't grow up too fast, little one.  We love you so.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Kai climbed into our bed tonight (when she was supposed to be crawling into hers!) and said, "Mama snuggles for a few minutes?"  I don't get nearly enough Kai snuggles these days.  I usually put Alden to bed and Eric puts Kai to bed... So I miss my Kai snuggles.  So, of course, I said yes.  She settled into the crook of my arm and I rubbed her forehead and smoothed her hair away from her face.  She suddenly propped up and said, "I'm feeling happy but like crying at the same time and my body feels like it wants to shake.... I'm feeling all of that at once."

Eric smiled at her and said, "you're feeling love."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Alden loves to sing.  He has hummed along with songs for months.  And now, he has learned how to sing the tune of our favorite bedtime song, "sleep sleep"  The song goes, "sleep... sleep... sleep sleepyhead... sleep... sleep.... cuddle in your bed."  It is hard to capture on video, but Alden can get the tune pretty close and, at least to us, it's clear he is saying, "sleep sleep."  He wakes up in the morning and starts singing that song.  And he sings it along with me at night.  It's adorable.

He and Kai are also the dancing/car dancing team.  They love to boogie.  When I turn on one of their favorite songs in the car (at the moment, "Uptown Funk" is probably the most preferred song), Alden gives Kai a sideways glance as if to say, "are we going to do this?" and then they both start to go crazy.  So hard to get on video since I'm driving -- although, I did post that one awhile back of Alden rocking out. More recently, I captured Alden dancing in the living room -- I love how he keeps trying to hop! He has actually started to get some air!

Alden has also learned an amazing number of body parts.  I think our nanny must have taught him all of this.  I didn't!  He is definitely in that sponge-stage where he picks up on everything we do.  You can see him just watching us trying to figure out what we're doing and how to replicate it.  And, he loves picture books where he can learn new vocabulary.

Here he is showing off his knowledge of body parts!

It's clear he is in full-on toddler stage.  He runs, never walks.  He dances.  He sings.  He knows what we're saying and often gets that glint in his eye when he - very purposefully - does exactly what we told him not to do.  He understands the concept of time outs.  He pushes limits.  He insists on feeding himself -- which is so tough, since he signifies he's done by hurling his food off his tray and onto the floor with no warning.  He is learning more and more vocabulary every day.  Kai often looks at him and just says, "Alden, I love you sooo much."  That's exactly how we all feel. 

First Day of Second Grade

Well, the summer is over (although, I still have some posts to write about the end of our summer -- including videos of Alden, deck building, etc... it's coming.  I just have to find a few spare moments).   But, yesterday was the first day of 2nd Grade! 

Kai was really excited about the start of school.  This was the first year that Kailey is returning to the same school she was at the year before -- which makes such a big difference.  She has a group of friends that she loves.  She knows the school and the routine.  She knows her teacher, even though she hasn't spent a lot of time with him.  So she was more excited than nervous.

The report from the first day was good.  She said driving home, "Courtyard is a great school.  I love it there."  Couldn't really ask for a better report.

Alden, on the other hand, was not very excited to have Kailey leaving for the day.  He has so enjoyed having his sister around more this summer.