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First Day of School 2013-1014

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Both kids started their respective preschool classes at the end of last week (on separate days). For Chloe, it was pretty much old hat, since she had gone to the same preschool last year. She was excited to see some of her old classmates and easily made new friends on her first day.

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Leo was the unknown, but I was pretty much knew he would do fine. This was his first 9-month preschool class, held in the same building and with the same teacher as Chloe. I think it all felt really familiar to him (as it should, since he came with us every time I dropped off Chloe last year). This time, though, he got to be the one to participate. Moms are required to stay during the first two classes, and I was glad to have had the opportunity to see first hand the kind of experiences he would have. And I was very happy with what I saw.

The only thing that concerns me is how I will do, taking the kids to school on a daily basis (although they attend alternate days). It’s a 12-15min drive one way, which makes for almost an hour of commuting if I choose to come back home between drop-off and pick-up. I know it will be worth it, though. One big benefit will be having more one-on-one time with Chloe. I hardly ever have that, and now I’ll get it two mornings a week. I anticipate some fun excursions (and definitely easier grocery shopping)!


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Easter Egg Hunt 2013

Nothing like the joy of a good Easter Egg Hunt! We’ve attended the same one every year since Chloe could walk. Its free, hosted by a local church, and starts off with a few crafts for the kids to do while they wait. This year was Leo’s first. You should have seen his eyes light up when he noticed the fields sparkling with colorful eggs!

Next year Chloe will be too old to hunt the same field as Leo, so I am glad I was able to get some photos of them together. By the end, Chloe had her basket filled literally to overflowing. So much fun, but unfortunately, over so quickly! More of our hunt photos can be seen here, and a special thanks to the kids’ aunt and uncle for providing them with such adorable, personalized baskets!

What about you? Do you have fond memories of egg hunts? Treat-filled Easter baskets? Pancakes shaped like bunnies?

 

 


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Out with the Kids: Into the Woods

I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend again! I got so much accomplished last weekend, including spray painting some kid furniture, organizing my craft drawers and purging a ton of stuff. For whatever reason I was highly motivated, and hope that some of that motivation will carry over into this weekend as well. We also had a day of fun family adventure, too! David decided we’d take the kids fishing, and despite the cold Pacific Northwest weather, that is what we did!

It isn’t always easy taking kids this young somewhere this remote. In fact, sometimes it is really hard. You can’t let them out of your sight for a minute. But it’s always worth it. The kids see and find all kinds of things, and I want them to have these experiences in nature, with no house for miles and miles. Of course, I would never take them out this far by myself, but with two parents (or people) its fine. It does take a bit of planning though.

For us, planning usually falls into three categories:

1. Food & Snacks.
2. Entertainment
3. Clothing & Gear

Food & Snacks are a given, especially on long trips. It is so much cheaper to bring food, and often the next town is too far away to bother. Also, snacks can work wonders on long car rides, so they really double as entertainment.

While we try to have the kids just look out the windows and talk about what we see (including songs, i spy, etc), sometimes its easier after a while to just hand Chloe her ipad and headphones. At twenty-months, Leo is a pretty good traveler. Sometimes he’ll nap or be content to snack on something. When that doesn’t work we’ll hand him back various toys (cars, little animals, small board books) and as a last resort sometimes we’ll hand him an iphone. Unfortunately, he isn’t into shows like Chloe is, but he has a few apps that interest him right now like Peekaboo Wild, Where’s Gumbo, Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider (the two latter by Duck Duck Moose). When we get where we’re going there always seems to be plenty to do – in this case, collecting rocks, seeing waterfalls, and discussing how a beaver gnaws down trees with his teeth to make his home.

Lastly there is Clothing & Gear. If there is mud, the kids will fall in it. If there is water, the kids will splash in it. That is life. I know this and always bring a full change of clothes and shoes. One thing I always make sure the kids have is quality long-underwear, usually purchased on deep discount from REI outlet. Chloe’s old ones get handed down to Leo (which is why his current bottoms are pink, but now I am buying them in neutral colors). Diapers and wipes are also necessities. Gear depends on where we go, but I always bring our becco baby carrier and sometimes we’ll bring our Kelty backpack carrier as well. For this trip, David also brought our pop-up shelter, which works as a “base” and makes a nice covered place to share a meal or hang out.

Like I mentioned earlier, it isn’t always easy. But easy isn’t always as meaningful, either, is it? So the kids get dirty and wet and I let them, knowing we’re prepared to clean them up once we get back to the car. We also try and listen and let the kids tell us when they’ve had enough. If they are too cold or uncomfortable, then no fun will be had and that isn’t the point.

And then we arrive back home to our cozy house and warm beds and all is right with the world…

 


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Not on your face!

This is an outtake shot of Leo while I was helping Chloe make her valentine cards on the other end of the table. I had set him up with some Alex Dots and Dashes paint markers to play with, which he’s used fine in the past. However, I guess he was feeling experimental, and decided to either taste the tip or just see what it felt like on his face. This reminded me of a photo I took of Chloe a little over a year ago. Her photo was taken December 5, 2011, a couple weeks after she turned three. I remember uploading the photo from my phone onto Facebook and writing “I guess it was inevitable…” 🙂

For the record, although it was labeled ‘washable,’ the ink left a blue stain on Leo’s face for the rest of the day. The washable Crayola marker that Chloe used came right off. Good to know!


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Dear Leo, 18 months

(I wrote this in December, when Leo really was 18-months old, but I never posted it before we left on our whirlwind Colorado-to-Cancun trip. I figure better late than never…)

Dear Leo,

You turned 18 months old this week. Just thinking about you as I write this makes my heart swell with joy. You are such a wonder – so sweet and loveable and very smart! You are so interested in how things work – how pieces go together and come apart, how they move, or float or spill or  break. You are observant and curious about everything. The more new things you get your little hands on the happier you are. Even the tiniest speck of debris interests you and you’ll happily bring it over to share.

You are a good eater, which brings your mama much relief. You rate normally for height and weight, unlike your petite big sister. It does seem like you’re getting pickier as time goes by, though. You have your front four upper and lower teeth in, and the other day I saw one of your top back left molars peeking out. I bet it will be a lot of help for grinding up food you can’t quite eat on your own yet.

You’re fast and mobile. Oh boy. You were able to climb onto our bed and the sofas early on, and now that you’re up on the chairs you want to get onto the table, too (eek!). You’ve had lots of tumbles, but they don’t seem to deter you much.

Now that you’re big enough, Chloe has had to get used to you “sharing” toys that were once free whenever she wanted. She still grabs things out of your hands, but she is learning that is getting harder to do, and your not afraid to make a fuss. On the other hand, you give her quite a bit of grief, too, always wanting what she has, or being where she is. Or pulling her hair – you have definitely yanked both of us good. Not just strands, but clumps.

The thing that concerns me most about your development right now is the fact that you don’t talk. I mean, you can say mama and dada and dog (da!), but you don’t do it very often. The word you say most (and quite clearly) is “ball.” Oh, but you are good at sounds and noises – vroom, vroom, ruff, ruff, and meow along with many others.

Despite being a little man of few words, you certainly communicate. You point like a champ, nod and shake your head for yes and no to answer a question, tap your bowl or hand me your cup when you want more, rock in your high chair when you want to get down, and grab and tug on your diaper when you need a diaper change. See? Its all so clear. And maybe your dad is right, that its my fault you don’t need to talk. In my quest to become a good mother, I have learned to read your body language and other subtle (and not so subtle) cues to interpret your needs and wants, or I simply anticipate them. I’ve tried to wait and make you talk, but it doesn’t seem to work and we both get frustrated.

The delayed talking thing concerned me so much that I took you to see some specialists. And you know what happened? You wowed them in every other way. Your fine and gross motor skills are very well developed for your age AND you passed a test in cognition as well as a three year old. So. You have a lot going for you. I guess maybe I just need to be patient. You’ll talk when you’re ready, I think.

Love you my darling boy,
Mama


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Leo’s First Birthday Photos

I can hardly believe that Leo is already a year and a half old. Where has the time gone? I will so miss having a little baby to snuggle and hold, but I have to admit that having a toddler to interact with is pretty darn fun. I was looking back at some of my old photos and realized that I never posted these gorgeous images taken by my friend Greta at Olive Hill Photography last June. So bright and fun! I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking at these images for as long as I live.


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First Snow of Winter

Nothing like the first snow of winter! It rarely snows here in Portland, so when it does it feels extra special. Even though we were running late this morning with Chloe due at gymnastics, I couldn’t say no when she asked to go outside to play. This was also Leo’s first real experience with snow. Last December he was only 6 months old! Now he is running around and checking out the substance called “snow” like a budding scientist. And I’m glad they got the chance, because when we were done with gymnastics all the snow had gone as quickly as it had come.


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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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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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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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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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Lazy Weekend

I hope you had a nice weekend! Ours was pretty relaxing. I think the most effort I put into anything this weekend was dyeing my hair. I had to fix a botched lightening job from a few weeks ago that I did without David here to help me with the kids. Big mistake. It turned out patchy and strangely reddish. If I had done my research, too, I would have realized that they discontinued that line of products. Last night I dyed it back to my normal color. Much better. Makes me wonder why I wanted to lighten it in the first place.

When we woke up Saturday morning, we noticed two of our Painted Lady Butterflies had emerged from their chrysalides. Two more emerged this morning. It is nice to see Chloe curious about them, since she is NOT into bugs. Sometimes she’ll be playing outside and I’ll hear a blood-curdling scream because she saw a bee or some such insect get too close without warning. She usually shies away from butterflies, too, since their flight pattern is so drunken-looking and unpredictable. We released them this morning, and Chloe did great. Now we are just waiting for the remaining one to hatch.

Otherwise, besides getting groceries, and taking Chloe swimming, David and Chloe spent most of both weekend days playing Legos. Leo watched them from his play pad for a while. Will he like Legos as much as his father and sister?
Only time will tell, but as a mama, I’m not looking forward to keeping all those little pieces out of his reach, and out of his mouth!


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Dear Leo, 2-months old

Dear Leo,

You are 2 months old. We had your well-child check-up was this morning. It went well (despite the dreaded immunizations) and I am happy to say that you are as fine and healthy as any two month old could be.

A few things about you right now:

  • You smile! (this one is my favorite)
  • You most often sleep in two hour stretches at night, wake up to nurse, then fall back asleep (much better than when you’d want to stay up and play!)
  • You favor your left side. You prefer to keep your head in that direction and seem to kick that leg more.
  • You do not like a wet diaper.
  • You weigh more at your 2mo check-up than your sister did at her 3mo check-up.
  • You’re losing your precious newborn hair. I like to say I’m going to have a little Danny Devito on my hands. 🙂

Lastly, here are some photos of you taken during the past two months, hanging out with people who love you:

Mama coming in for a kiss
Lounging with Daddy
Playing with Big Sister
Sleeping with Grandma Sandy
After bath with Grandma Mai

I love you so much sweetheart. Keep growing, learning, and being healthy. And try to get a little more sleep at night. 🙂

Love, Mama

Leo stats as of August 8, 2011:   Height 1′ 10.5″ (34.09%)   Weight 12lbs 4oz (64.20%)   HC 15.24″ (21.58%)
Note: The scale actually read 12lb .04 oz (not 4oz), but I didn’t dispute what the nurse had written down.


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One month down

Leo turned one month old this week. Several times I sat down to try and write about what life has been like this past month, but I can’t seem to find the right words.

Basically, it’s complicated.

One thing for sure – being a mother of a newborn and a toddler is HARD. Existing on such minimal sleep is the worst part – like living life through a fog. Simple tasks can seem monumental. And I feel like I should be happier – like when my mom was here, I felt like I should have been so happy, but I wasn’t quite as happy as I thought I should be. Does that make sense?

Anyway, in a nutshell, this past month has been stressful, but things are getting better. I am feeling better, both mentally and physically. Best of all, we are slowly starting to adjust to our new shape as a family.

As for Leo, he is definitely growing. Seriously. It was like I woke up one morning and my tiny newborn was replaced by a hefty baby boy (which makes sense when I think about it, since all he wants to do is nurse). Nights are getting somewhat easier, and what seemed to be his constant fussing and crying is giving way to a few more periods of “quiet alertness.” Thank goodness.

The thing I miss most is the little time I had for myself, and going out with the “ease” of having just one child. Now there are two little individuals with vastly different needs. There are moments I feel trapped and frustrated in my own house, and other times when I don’t want to leave again, ever. Plus, I miss my husband. He’s here, too, doing his part, but our whole lives are revolving around the kids right now, with no time for us. It will be good when Grandma Sandy (my mother-in-law) comes next week. Hopefully that might give us time to reconnect. So, again, it’s hard. But we’re dealing. And learning. And living.

One day at a time.

(Btw – that photo was taken by David a week or so ago, so Leo is not a one-month old in that photo. Note to self: take more photos!)


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Baby Leo has arrived!

Meet our baby boy! Baby Leo was born at 1:44am on Tuesday, June 7th. He weighed 7lbs 6oz, measured 20 inches long, and had a head circumference of 13.25 inches. We are so in love.


Big sister Chloe holding her little baby brother


Born with lots of hair like his mama (unlike his sister)


Opening his eyes for the camera
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