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Halloween

Are you ready to trick-or-treat? My preschooler sure is. For the past few weeks she’s wanted to wear the same mermaid costume as last year. Then yesterday on the phone with Grandma she said she was going to be Snow White! So this morning I hemmed up her Snow White dress (a Christmas gift from her Uncle AJ and Aunt Aundrea) from her dress up bin . I was going to top it off with a simple red headband, but Chloe pointed out that Snow White wears a red bow in her hair. Right! So I whipped one of those up during nap time. Now we’re ready to rock.

Oh, have you seen this skeleton maternity shirt? I totally love it and wish I had seen it while I was pregnant. So funny! Leo, who is almost 17 months, will be wearing a similar skeleton shirt (minus the fetus!) that glows in the dark. Happy Halloween!


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Reusing Packing Peanuts

Not very long ago, David ordered something that came in the mail with a TON of packing peanuts. Instead of throwing them away, we put them in a garbage bag, and let them take up space in the office. Honestly, we were never going to use them. We hardly ever ship things (unless we buy a gift online, and then we ship it straight from the company). This morning I decided to just let the kids play with them. You can just imagine!

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Camping with the kids

This past weekend we took the kids camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. It was… challenging. Not that it wasn’t worth it… it just… took a lot of effort. There were times we had to remind ourselves that home was less than two hours away and we could leave at any time. But hey, we did it! The kids had a great time playing on the beach both days – soaking up the sun, splashing in the water, flying the kite, and generally getting sand everywhere. The hardest part was in the evening, I think. Of course the kids couldn’t get to sleep on time, were occasionally loud which I worried bothered our fellow campers, and then there were “incidences” – like when Leo jabbed himself in the eye with a fork and I feared that we’d have to rush to the hospital, or when Chloe fell face first into the fire pit, scraping her face, bloodying her nose and getting soot all over herself. And sleeping, well… we only have 3 sleeping bags, so I shared mine with Leo, which was kind of awkward, and I kept waking up all night wondering if he or Chloe was cold.

Anyways, it was a good learning experience (and exercise in patience!). Next time we are going to do what our neighbors are doing this week, and getting a yurt. 🙂
More photos can be seen here.


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Leo’s First Birthday!

Leo had his first birthday party last weekend! We invited the same good friends who attended Chloe’s first birthday (who conveniently all have had their second children as well, so it was a perfect match of preschoolers and baby siblings). We put together a pasta lunch – pistachio, garlic and olive pasta for the adults, mac ‘n cheese for the kids, salad, fruit, cheese and crackers and trix crispies as a colorful treat. Since Leo’s is our first summer birthday in the family, I thought it would be special to do an ice cream cake (strawberry) from Baskin Robbins, and found some toy animals on top to match the lion party theme. I can’t believe he is one already!!!

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Sleep baby, Sleep!

Here’s a simple mobile I made for Leo’s room using a Kikkerland hanging photoclip mobile. I actually bought it years ago from a now defunct downtown toy store with the intention of making a felt mobile for Chloe’s nursery, but I never got around to it. I’d like to sew one for Leo, but in case I never get around to it either, I thought these paper elephants would make cute placeholders, and Leo seems to like it.

Speaking of Leo, he had his best night ever last night – only one 3am night waking and then up for good at 6am as usual (I don’t count the wakings that occur before David and I go to bed). What a change from the 4-5+ night wakings that have been plaguing us for months! Maybe it was the excitement of his first birthday party (photos to come!) or that he was still recovering from his 5(!) vaccination shots at his Friday check up, but we’ve definitely seen improvement, especially over the last few days.

You know parents who say “we’ve tried everything!”? Well, that certainly feels like us. In the last few weeks since we’ve moved Leo out of our room and into his own we’ve:

(1) Strewn several extra pacifiers around his bed in the hopes he’d try and find one himself instead of waking us up to do it.

(2) Installed a bumper to keep the aforementioned pacifiers from falling out while he reached for them (which happened A LOT).

(3) Plugged in a night light so he could see the pacifiers in the dark (a major downfall of the mam brand pacifiers, which are mostly transparent. They do make a glow-in-the-dark version, which we’re trying, but unsure if that helps.

(4) Started using a white noise machine. I think this has been a key element. I was against these with Chloe, especially because I personally can’t stand noise while I sleep, but Leo is very tuned-in to the sound of his sister’s voice, or her pounding feet in her room next door (for such a lightweight she walks like an elephant). Also, Leo’s new bedroom is at the front of the house so street sounds can be an issue. Even with the noise machine, our neighbor’s ridiculously loud pick-up engine roars to life in the wee hours of the morning and never fails to wake him up.

And these are all things we’ve added just since his new room, so that doesn’t include cutting out nighttime nursing (which occurred a long time ago), creating a consistent bed time routine, etc.

All in all, I think we’re on track to a better sleep schedule for both of us. However, the irony is that last night, during Leo’s best night sleep, was one of Chloe’s worst nights. A record 10+ wakings because she was sick. Ah, the irony.

 


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Dear Leo, One year old

Dear Leo,

You are one year old today. Happy birthday my precious, darling boy! You have brought us so much joy this past year. You are a shiny sparkle that brightens my life, and I am so thankful for you.

There are so many things I want to tell you. How sweet and affectionate you are. How your smile warms my heart. How you speed around the house, crawling after your sister with the enthusiasm of a puppy. I love watching you two play, and I’m so glad you have each other.

You are an excellent eater. Daddy says you a like a bottomless pit. Your finger dexterity is amazing. You’ll eat practically anything, with a special fondness for cheese, pasta, fruits and baby snacks. Your teeth have been a little late to appear, but the first one (bottom left) appeared recently, and I can see a shadow of its neighbor and the one directly above coming in. Just the other day you pulled down a bowl of your sister’s pears from the dining table, along with her fork, and sat down to feed yourself bite after bite. It took me by surprise – not that you got the pears, but because you used the fork, which I have never given you before.

So far you only say the words mama and dada. You can’t walk yet, but you pull yourself up to stand easily and often take steps while holding on. You like to climb on things, but don’t always know how to get down safely. More than once I’ve seen you climb on your sister’s chair, stand up and pull on the window ledge while pushing off the wall with your toes. I’m glad I was there those times.

You LOVE being outside. Summer has been late coming this year, but you love playing in the sandbox and even got to experience the sprinkler one warm day. You protest whenever you see someone go out the back door and not take you, too. You know there is a whole world out there, full of grass to pull, flowers to smell and rocks to gnaw (outside will be easier once you stop putting everything in your mouth).

Over all you are just the best little boy any mother could ask for… except maybe at night. You just will not stay asleep, and aren’t afraid to let the rest of us know it. You wake 4 or 5 times a night, and it is hard sometimes to be the best mama I can be on such interrupted sleep. You fall asleep fine (for morning and afternoon naps, too), it is just staying asleep that’s tough. We are taking steps, however. You moved into your own room a couple weeks ago (we painted it the most lovely shade of pale blue-grey called “morning fog”), and I think you are beginning to settle in. We’ll see.

My little son, your mama loves you so much. I can tell that you love me, too, with your big hugs, gentle pats, and too often hair pulling. I hope we’ll continue to grow our special little bond. Thank you for all the warmth and sun you bring into all our lives. Its a bittersweet time, knowing that your babyness is behind you, yet it is exciting to see the little boy you’ll become. I’ll hold your hand every step of the way, as long as you’ll let me.

All my love,
Mama

Leo’s one year stats
Height: 2’6″ (58.66%)  Weight: 19lb 4.4oz (6.37%)  Head Circumference: 17.72″ (14.24%)  BMI: 15.06kg/m2


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Sun + Sand

We went to the beach on Sunday. I just love it there. It was sunny, but with a cold breeze, and we were glad we brought our sun shelter along. Although this wasn’t Leo’s first trip to the coast, it was the first time I took some photos of him there. Like his sister, he seems to be a big fan of the sand. Unlike his sister, he is a pacifier baby, which helped to keep him from eating it.

This was also our first trip in our new-to-us minivan. What a difference! Room for everyone, and even Barkley got a seat to himself. I hesitate to say this, but if anything good came out of the car crash, its that we got a vehicle better suited to our family (the Element we bought pre-kids). The inside still smelled a little of ozone from the extra interior detail we had done, but even that has since dissippated. The car feels as good as new. I just hope it lasts us longer than our last one.


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Beaded Baby Teether Necklace

Have I mentioned that Leo LOVES hair? Grabbing it, pulling it, playing with it, burying his face in it and even eating it. Sometimes after holding him I feel crunchy places in my hair where he has been sucking. He also sometimes rubs and pulls his own hair to soothe himself. Perhaps I’m raising the next Vidal Sassoon? All I know is that what once was cute when he was less strong is now becoming a bit painful at times. Just ask his poor sister. She basically cannot come within reach of him or she gets grabbed or scratched. Oh yes, he’s also a scratcher. Naturally, he doesn’t mean to, but those little fingernails… well… ouch. I’m just hoping that scab on my nose doesn’t scar.

I made the teething necklace above as an attempt to divert his attention. I’ve seen several fun and funky looking ones, and they are easy enough to make. Basically, you

1. Sew a tube of fabric big enough to insert wooden craft balls.
2. Tie a knot in the fabric between each ball
3. Sew the ends closed and add a ribbon to tie it (or twill tape, in this case).

Leo, however, is only minimally interested. It isn’t hair, after all. And so it doesn’t get  a ton of wear. I tend to prefer smaller jewelry anyway (which I don’t wear now, so as not to have it yanked off and swallowed). Ah, well. Gentle admonishments will have to suffice for now…


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Love + Bubbles

We’ve been having a lot of cold, snowy and wet weather lately. I don’t take Chloe and Leo out into it as much as I should, but we do get out on occasion. Like this break in the weather. Chloe and I both enjoy blowing bubbles. Who would have thought that the best bubbles would come from the dollar store? Good thing, too, because Chloe still spills her bubbles a little too often (and the ones with the “spillproof” caps have too tiny of a wand to be really fun).

I love these kids so much. When I was pregnant with Leo, I couldn’t imagine loving Leo as much as I loved Chloe. She was my baby, my precious little girl, my darling first-born. She was all I knew. My whole world. Then along came Leo, and my heart swelled. I am amazed every day at how deep my love is for these two little ones.

Leo is barely over half a year and already his charming and affectionate nature is obvious, way more so than Chloe was at this age. Then again, I am not very good at remembering things, and even now I’ll have to ask David his perspective from when Chloe was a baby. Just one more reason I need to put more effort into recording the kids’ milestones. I know later that I’ll be glad I did.

 

 

 


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Dear Leo, 4 months old

Dear Leo,

You are 4 months old. This past month was a very happy one for you. You smile all the time and are a jolly, easy baby (except at night, but that’s another story). We made several big trips including the beach and a short vacation to Bainbridge Island and you were a complete champ on those long drives (now that the weather isn’t as warm and you don’t overheat in your car seat).

One big deal this past month is that you’ve begun childcare one day a week for just a couple hours. They say you are remarkably easy going. You have no trouble taking a bottle of pumped milk and you seem to do just fine whiling away the time watching the other kids.

Your hands are continuing to be a source of wonder and entertainment. I can leave you alone on the playmat or in your bouncer with a toy and you are content for long periods. You also like short spurts in the bumbo chair – your first foray into the world of sitting upright by yourself. You’re still somewhat wobbly, but I can see you quickly gaining more neck strength and head control.

Here’s to another wonderful month, my precious little boy.

Love,
Mama

Specs at your 4-month checkup:
Height 2′ 1.75″ (80.37%) Weight 14 lb 12 oz (48.76%) HC 16.18″ (21.94%)


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Pumpkins & Mushrooms

Why does it seem like these fall weeks are flying by? This weekend David and I took the kids out mushroom hunting. David carried Chloe in the Kelty and I carried Leo in the Moby, since the areas we explore are densely wooded, steep and overgrown. Afterward, I was exhausted and sore in a way I couldn’t believe. Our haul was lighter than usual, mostly because it is slow going with two kids, but honestly, I think there are more people out mushroom hunting this year than I have ever seen before. David went back the next day by himself, and found plenty more, so we’ll still be set for the year no matter what.

I didn’t bring my camera mushroom hunting, but I did bring it to The Pumpkin Patch last weekend. I love this ritual of fall. We told Chloe she could pick any pumpkin that she wanted (and I was willing to stand by this, no matter what she happened to choose), but in the end she didn’t want one from the patch, but instead asked for a “baby” miniature pumpkin she had seen back at the farm store. I should have known.

And, just as he did the last time we were there, David spotted a little green frog, even tinier than the one before. He managed to catch him twice, so I could get this photo.


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Molalla River

We haven’t gone fishing with David since way before Leo was born. It just got too difficult – being pregnant, dealing with Chloe on the long car rides (usually 2.5+ hours each way), keeping her from getting hurt, or falling in, dealing with the consequences of an absent nap, packing everything we might need and then un-packing/washing/putting it away… it just got to be too much. These aren’t friendly, easy to manage areas with picnic tables or park-like settings either. They are out-there, and miles and miles from “civilization,” not that I ever minded before. And now there are two little ones with very different needs to consider.

Anyway, we tried it on Sunday. Both kids were asleep in their car seats at the first spot, so I stayed in the car with them. It was a lovely, picturesque spot, too. I think I was the one who accidentally woke them up, trying to get my camera and things I’d want to have if we stayed there. David came back up the path right as we were all about to emerge and we decided to try another spot. The next one was bad. We should never have stopped there. It was down an extremely steep embankment and into a large but shallow section of running water with lots of rocks, but no place to actually stand, or sit without getting wet. Chloe fell several times and got her shoes and pants wet almost instantly. Did I mention the weather was cold and rainy? It turned particularly miserable while we were there. I was also worried. If something happened, I would only be able to take one kid up the steep embankment back to the car at a time, which means one would have to wait by himself/herself while I locked the other in the car, neither a good choice to be alone next to a rushing river.

We finally moved to a third spot. By this time I knew what we needed to look for, and I got out first to give the place a looking over before agreeing. Still not ideal, but less water flow with a dirt/rock section to pitch our pop-up shelter. While here, I wrote down the two things I felt I needed for safety and sanity:

1. To be close enough to the car that I could take both kids back to it at the same time, by myself, if we needed something. That means leaving the keys with me, too. (I didn’t have them at the previous spot, and David was beyond yelling distance and couldn’t hear me, so we couldn’t have gone back to the car anyway).

2. A spot near the river that gently slopes into it so Chloe can splash (there would be no keeping her out of it), and possibly fall in (which she did, of course), but far enough from the fast water that I could fish her out with plenty of time to spare. Plus a place for me to sit and safetley put Leo down.

The other thing would be to have more time to pack. By the time I realized David was serious about going and taking us with him I was rushing around trying to get everything I thought we’d need. The two things I had forgotten were a good pair of trail shoes for me and Leo’s bouncy seat (it was too muddy to just put him down on a blanket). That meant leaving him in his car seat when I wasn’t holding him, and what baby wants to spend that much time in his car seat?

So anyway, the trip wasn’t the perfect family outting we had all hoped for, but it was a very good learning experience. I really miss photographing nature like I used to, but I realized it was not easy while being responsible for my children. All in its time, I guess. One day they’ll be big enough to know the dangers, and by then be joining their father fishing, like I’d be doing. Then maybe I can spend more time with my camera. I did get this photo though… priceless.


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Dear Leo, 3 months old

Dear Leo,

You are 3 months old. I love you very, very much. When I found out I was pregnant with you, I had thought (and hoped) you were a girl, but now that you are here and we’ve gotten to know each other, I can hardly remember why I felt that way. I am so happy you are who you are, and I mean that with my whole heart.

Here are a few things about you right now:

Every morning when you wake up, you smile. I love this.

Occasionally you’ll fall sleep with your eyes slightly open. This is called nocturnal lagophthalmos. Turns out it is fairly common and you’ll grow out of it.

You have sweaty feet. You get this from your dad.

You easily overheat in the car seat. I can’t believe car seats aren’t made with more ventilation or a more breathable material. I’ve looked at dozens now and haven’t found anything better. We’ve practically frozen ourselves with the air conditioner this summer just trying to keep you comfortable.

You prefer to be carried upright.

You have a mild case of cradle cap. I did one treatment with jojoba oil and now it is clearing up nicely.

Your hair is slowly filling in and replacing your (now longer) newborn hair. I’d attempt to cut it and even it out, but your dad won’t let me.

You have never had diaper rash (fingers crossed).

It’s too early to tell, but I think you’re going to have your dad’s blue eyes, just many shades darker. Although, already you have the tiniest patch of brown on the bottom of your right iris.

You’ve begun using your hands. You swat and occasionally hold your toys, and sometimes soothe yourself by sucking your fingers. You’ve even figured out you can rub your face with the backs of your hands, so you don’t accidentally scratch yourself (a good sign you’re tired).

Sweet dreams little one!

Love,
Mama


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Softly

The other night I looked at my son. I mean really looked, with all my senses. Starting at his tiny toes, moving up the soft curve of his ankle and calf, squeezing his chubby thighs, nuzzling his tummy with my nose and cheek…

His little fists and fingers were resting in mine, and I marveled at each crease on his palm, pressing gently with the pad of my fingers the dimples on the back of his hands. I made my way up his shoulders, his neck, tracing the shape of his head and shell ears, lightly feathering his baby-fine hair. I leaned down to smell his warm, sweet-earth baby smell. To feel the soft skin of his cheek on my lips. I kissed his forehead, his eyebrows, his eyes and little nose. I admired the color of his hazel greys and he looked back into my brown ones. He cooed. He smiled his big, meltingly perfect, dimpled smile. Oh, that smile. My heart flip-flops. You know me, I think. Of course you do. Your mama.

This newborn time is so fleeting. I’ll forget so much. Sometimes I think back on what it was like before he was born, resting my hands on my growing belly, him shifting and pushing beneath my skin, imagining what he would be like. Now he is here, part of our lives forever. I feel so blessed, so grateful. Tears form. Words fail. But oh, how I love, love, love this little boy of mine.


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DIY Baby Mustache Pacifier + Printable Template PDF

Doesn’t it seem like the majority of the really cute “make for baby” projects are geared toward girls? I was reviewing the baby craft tutorial list and saw only a few for little boys. That got me thinking. What would be a fun and easy project to make for the baby?

How about mustache pacifiers!

These are hilarious. I’ve included the above printable pdf to download with several different styles. Handlebar mustache, anyone? Or perhaps a curling fu manchu? There are both Soothies and Avent pacifiers in our house, so that is what I used for sizing. You can cut the shapes straight from the printed sheet or use the template to cut the mustaches out of felt, as I did. Double stick tape worked well, although, if your child is older, you may want to do a better job of securing it, perhaps with hot glue or super glue.

Score one more for the boys club!

Common sense precaution: These are just a novelty. You probably shouldn’t leave your child unattended while using a mustache pacifier.

Copyright Note: Downloads are for personal, non-commercial use only. In addition, please do not redistribute or modify any of the templates. If you’d like to link to the pdf, please link to this post directly. Thanks!


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Splish splash

Another beautiful Saturday at Cannon Beach. David and Chloe purchased her first “real” kite at the Kite Factory, and it joined the many other flying colors in the air that day. I felt so happy watching them play. I want Chloe’s (and Leo’s) childhood to be filled with days like this – full of sunshine and fresh air, and lots of joy. I want them to love the beach as much as I do. My only regret is not taking a photo of Leo. It’s his third time at the coast, but it’s always been too windy to lay him down on the sand. Instead, he spends his time sleeping on my chest in his carrier, which makes him hard to photograph. But it won’t be long before he is out enjoying the water just like his sister.

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