Van @ 5 Years

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Growth & Appearance: Your rat tail is going strong. You asked to cut it but that ship seems to have sailed and we don’t bring it up. Your concern being that ‘only girls have long hair’. You also complained that it bothers you when the wind is blowing. But then we offer to cut it and you say no. And you love the compliments you get on it because they always come from the most awesome characters.

You had your 5 year checkup and are in the 90-something percentile for height and 70’s for weight, I think. You weigh 43lbs and feel denser than a rock to me. It’s harder to lift you up these days.

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Eating: You ask for snacks constantly. As soon as you wake up in the morning, you want a snack. It’s easy to see why considering you do nothing more than play with your food at mealtime.

Bribery goes a long way. The other night I told you you could have a piece of chewing gum if you finished your dinner and not but 3 minutes later, your plate was practically licked clean. It doesn’t always work, in fact other times we have to deal with you pushing your food around only to additionally have to deal with you whining because you didn’t eat enough to earn dessert. In general mealtime is painful.

You love macaroni, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peaches, and all the junk your future-diabetic self will have regretted loving.San clemente family photographer-0215

Sleeping: You sleep on the bottom bunk and won’t let me leave the room until I’ve given you a kiss. You also insist on picking out your own book to ready before bedtime and generally will hate whatever book I pick out based solely on the fact you weren’t the one to chose it.

You’re no longer needing your pull-up at night, which really has been a long time coming but you held on it for longer than we thought you’d care to (cuz only babies wear diapers — your words, not mine). You’ve done just fine wearing big boy undies to bed, as we suspected. San clemente family photographer-0217

Development & Personality:

You started riding your bike without training wheels a few weeks ago, as well as riding a skateboard in peddle-peddle-glide-peddle fashion.

You’re determined to blow a bubble with your gum. You’re almost there.

You can throw a ball with force and accuracy and are all-around super coordinated. You ask to play basketball.

You can write your name in all capitol letters and can count to 30 or 40.

You follow whatever Hooper does or tells you to do and we’re having to remind you often that you need to think for yourself.

You’re stubborn and hard-headed and sometimes it feels like you can’t get out of your own way. You like things a certain way and so often it feels like in ways that aren’t possible. Like you’re particular about how close your laces come to touching the floor; point being, we’ve vowed only to buy you slip ons and velcro-strap shoes to alleviate that problem. Though you’re particular about how tight the velcro is as well, so that’s not necessarily the solution.

You’re wicked smart and catch on to things really fast. I don’t worry at all about how you’ll perform in kindergarten.

Your better behaved and more easy going for others than you are for your Papa and I. We get great reports from your teachers and other parents but your fourth year was kinda a rough one for us here at home; a lot of change, too, with a new baby.

You have the most infectious laugh and are easily amused and well-liked by your peers.

You speak with the cutest New York accent, which is really a speech impediment. We’re fine with it never correcting itself. You say “Hooper” like “Hoopa”.

You attempt to putting legos together yourself but usually need assistance throughout the process, making us all hate legos.San clemente family photographer-0226
Favorites: You tend to claim Hooper’s interests as your own but when given the choice between legos and a remote controlled car, you most always chose the car. You love playing mindless games on my phone but your opportunities to do so are few and far between. You love sports and say that basketball is your favorite.

Van’s 4th Birthday

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I know everyone always says how fast time is moving but for me, right now, is the fastest time has ever gone. I can’t seem to get ahead and more and more I’m having to confront, and accept, that I can’t do it all. Motherhood sure makes you reevaluate what makes a day successful, doesn’t it? In any event, Van and I both celebrated birthdays this month. We celebrated his over the weekend with family; BBQing, piñata hitting, and cake cutting. A day complete with legos I’m already cursing and a pair of cowboy boots to replace the pair he wore into the pool the last time we were out in the desert. Dear year four, please be better than your reputation (::cough cough:: fucking fours, I’m talking to  you).

Happy birthday, Van. I love you more than a bear loves honey.

Van @ 3 years, 9 months

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Appearance & Growth:

Your hair is turning more brown and is more aptly described as “dirty blond”. I wonder if that will change come summer. Your rat tail is in full effect and is looking rather good; you get compliments on it often. You hate having your hair cut because the little shards of hair make you “itchy”.

You have your Papa’s build, with a good chunk of meat on your thighs that is so grab-able that we end up squeezing a little too hard at times. We refer to you as “munchy” often. You’re dense, with a barrel-like chest.

You’re in size four pants and shirts and share shoes with Hooper despite probably being a size or so smaller.

You insist on wearing your cowboy boots often, a staple in your wardrobe since Halloween. You’re very particular about what you wear and if you deem something as ‘not cool enough’, you refer to it as ‘too funny’ with the same kind of attitude and disgust a teenager would exhibit. You prefer shorts over pants, no matter the weather, mostly because you like utilizing the added pockets n’ loops as sword holders. I pulled out a pair of jeans to put on you the other morning and you told me you were going to call the police and that people were going to laugh at you because ‘power rangers don’t wear jeans’; a defense used often with ‘jeans’ being the fill-in-the-blank for whatever it is you don’t want to wear.

You’re always grubby. You care little about food on your face or stains on your clothes. You do, however, have an annoyingly insistence that your laces not touch the floor; even if your shoe is tied correctly, you want the ends of the laces tucked into the shoe so as to not drag or even hang near the ground.San Clemente Family Photographer-4457 copy

Eating:

It’s a wonder most days how we can refer to you as “munchy” when you seem to hardly eat. You’re at the stage where everything else holds you attention and sitting at the table for even a 10 second period is nothing short of a challenge. You typically eat breakfast well and then it’s all rather downhill from there. You rarely eat dinner. It’s frustrating.

When you don’t want to eat a meal you say you’re ‘full’ but then proceed to ask for something you do want. Usually dessert.

You drink your smoothies well so long as the straw is of your choosing. Ingredients include: OJ, chia seed, flax see, spinach, pineapple, and strawberries and you always come up to the counter and steal a frozen strawberry during the blending process.

Rewards and encouragement do little to get food in your mouth. The tantrums that follow when you don’t get whatever reward offered do not reflect this (you’d think if you cared that much about not getting the reward that the initial offer of a reward would mean something to you, but alas, it does not). And so, eating in general is a bit of a struggle and source of stress.

There was a time when you’d eat, or at least try, just about anything. This is not the case anymore. You refuse things like asparagus and take forever to eat other things, like chicken. Then there’s other times we turn away for what feels like ten seconds only to see an almost clean plate in front of you. Point being, when you want to eat, you can eat fast and when you don’t want to eat, it just sits there.

Favorite foods: bananas, carrots, oatmeal, bread / carbs in general, raspberries.San Clemente Family Photographer-4534
Sleeping:

You nap from about 1:30 to 4pm, which we’re ever-so-grateful for. On average you sleep about 11 consecutive hours, from about 8:30pm to 7:30am.

You sleep with your blanket every night, with a changing conglomeration of stuffed animals, toys, or trinkets surrounding you.

You still sleep in a diaper overnight and have gone through periods of not needing it followed by periods of needing it and so, we keep it on. Each morning you like to prove to us that it’s dry by grabbing our hand and directing our hand to your crotch. It has a very against-my-will feel to it, yet makes me giggle.

You’re scared of the dark and ask often that we keep the bearded dragon’s light on, which we do during your nap but not at night. The night light seems to be enough to ease your fears, in addition to the fact your brother is in bed right next to you.

Your Papa gets you ready for bed and then you get in bed, pull the sheet over your head, and hide from me. Every night. It’s pretty easy to find you considering all the squirming around and squealing that goes on while you’re “hiding” under your sheets.

Each morning you come into our bedroom, bring Papa his watch that he keeps on his nightstand, and climb into bed to cuddle with Papa. Always Papa, never me. Ho hum. San Clemente Family Photographer-4502
Talking:

You ask a thousand questions a day and get upset if your question is not understood or if we write you off and simply say “I don’t know”.

When you can’t hear, you ask, “what’d you said?” and it’s so cute we make you repeat it over and over.

You insist on having someone to keep you company while you take a dump, insisting the entire time that you’re actually not dumping and that it’s – in fact – “just pee”, then this sly little grin spreads across your face when your dump plops into the water.

You whine a lot. 90% of what you say seems to be said in a whine. We’re working on it. San Clemente Family Photographer-4438

Development:

Your head still does this adorable little lazy bob from side to side when you run, which has been a longtime favorite characteristic of yours.

You’re hard headed and stubborn, but at the same time easy and carefree.

We asked you to stop sucking your thumb and, just like that, you did. We catch you every now and again but you seem to quickly realize what you’re doing on your own and stop on your own. It’s bittersweet, but hopefully translates to less colds / germs.

You love to do things by yourself and get quite frustrated when you’re unable to do something you’ve set out to accomplish in the absence of help. You refuse help, most times, and prefer to whine about whatever it is you’re having trouble with instead. It’s a cycle that never leads to a good ending.

You mimic everything Hooper does or says… at times you seem like nothing other than a puppet. Sometimes I wonder who you’d be in the absence of your older brother. Ha. San Clemente Family Photographer-4588
Favorites:

You’re deathly stubborn when it comes to dressing yourself, your favorite shirt being a long sleeve vintage GI Joe shirt I managed to find in a thrift store for you. You care not how hot it is outside and insist on wearing it whenever you see it hanging in your closet.

For months, since October 31st to be exact, you have insisted on wearing your cowboy boots with everything. You’re just now starting to let that phase go. You’ve moved on to rain boots, even though it’s not raining.

You love the Power Rangers and refer to yourself as the red ranger often, declaring red to be your favorite color.

An Interview, with Van

Just as the interview with Hooper, I don’t expect anyone other than family to make it all the way through this interview, so here are the highlights: he doesn’t want a baby sister because he doesn’t like girls hair and because he had some bad experience I’ve never heard of before where some little girl put his face in his face, he desires to be a cowboy when he grows up, and apparently a shark bit his arm off.

Three

Southern California Photographer-1079I’m not sure how I recognize the pattern of birthday parties sneaking up on me and still have not seemed to conquer such by planning ahead. I suppose it’s just not a huge priority of mine and I’m getting more comfortable with admitting such.
After a week in Arizona, where for much of the time I felt under the weather, we returned home to the usual chaos that seems to greet us each time we leave only to return again: the piles of laundry, the house that smells because of some yellow that got left and mellowed too long, the empty fridge that refuses to let us break the cycle – thanks to traveling – of eating out, and the children that – despite the long haul – are still raring to go at all hours of the day.
We planned on hitting up Baby Beach and I hung to hope that there might even be an open picnic table, in the shade, that we could inhabit into the afternoon. But when we couldn’t even find parking, we quickly circled back around and planted ourselves at Doheny Beach instead, where we had a table, the shade of the empty lifeguard tower for Jimmie, and enough sand space to call our own — all going to show that you can’t always get what you want, but oftentimes you still get just what you need. We spent the morning with family swimming in the sea (well, the guys anyway), drinking lemonade, and watching the boys enjoy themselves. Having had to work the entire day before, I owe thanks to my mother-in-law for there being cupcakes to eat and a candle to blow out and to my own mom for providing refreshments and snacks. I suck at this stuff, I really do.
There were a few moments of ‘good-lord-I-didn’t-raise-him-that-way’ that are sure to come on a three year old’s birthday; moments of tears over the promised skateboard that had not yet been purchased but was planned for later in the day being the main culprit of impatience and whining that seemed to quickly disappear upon unwrapping a basketball, a transformer, a toy motorcycle, and a shirt with a baseball on it — all things his little three year old mind could think to ask for, and then some.
We returned home for midday naps, something I too partook in only to wake up a few hours later and find the guys on the sofa downstairs asleep as well. Everyone but Hooper, who refuses to nap anymore despite days where I know he really could use the pick-me-up. I woke Van, who was snuggled in bed with all of his new loot – his basketball next to his pillow and his motorcycle in his arms – and we took off for the skate shop just down the street.
He held his new skateboard in his lap all the way to dinner and then downright insisted to sleep with his helmet on, his skateboard lying adjacent to him.
I’m not really sure how the years go so fast, but I didn’t find myself dwelling on itt. Instead, I watched my youngest push himself along on his skateboard and felt proud of how independent and strong he his. No need to stay a baby forever when this stage, too, provides so much to be proud of.
Happy third birthday, Van. You are my everything.

Van @ 2 years, 6 months

Growth & Appearance: You’re getting so big so fast. You’re really not far off from Hooper’s height and weight. Someone the other day asked if you guys are twins. You’re able to share a lot of clothes; t-shirts and shorts, for sure, and pants depending on the length. If you can’t share pants, the day Hooper grows out of them, they go into your drawer and fit you perfectly. 
You’re fiercely strong. Even your “big squeezes” kinda suffocate the air out of me. 
You’ve had a bracelet tied around your little wrist since July. You’re great with wearing hats.  If there’s a pair of reading glasses lying around, you will find them and wear them. Always. 
Eating: The terrible twos are in full force and it shows at the table. You have no time to eat. You either eat what’s in front of you in record time or push it away and want down. It’s so hit or miss. Breakfast is usually good, but by dinner, you’re over it.
Your favorite foods are bananas, chicken nuggets, yogurt, though it all really changes day to day. The other day you scarfed down green beans and I didn’t even know you liked them.
You sit in a regular chair at the table, but we have yet to transfer the highchair into the garage. So far, so good though.
You’re obsessed with “shoda” (soda). I’m trying to convince your Papa that he should drink something better, like say water, so we can teach you better habits. Until then, you’re a magnet to the stuff. 
Sleeping: You’re woken up by Hooper every morning. On the days he has preschool, you’ll typically go back to sleep. I think if you had it your way you’d get up around 8 or 8:30. Hooper has you up closer to 7. You still nap in a pack-n-play that’s squished haphazardly into the spare bathroom. You’re in bed around 8:30.
You most always fall asleep with at least two toys and one book snuggled in next to you. And, of course, you’re still attached to your blanket.    
Talking: You had the best stutter that literally lasted for about a week and then completely disappeared. You speak in full sentences and understand concepts.
When you want to know what something does, you ask, “What’s it due’s (does), mama?”, to-which-I-answer, “It due’s ____”.
The other day I said to you, “Van, it sounds like you have a runny nose”, to-which-you responded, “No, Mama, it’s walking’ “.
You pronounce waffle as “raffle”, like you’re from the mid-west or something, mouth as “noufth”, and nothing as “nuffing”.
You also say things a little out of order, like when you dropped something and wanted me to pick it up and said, “Why you not pick up it?”. 
Development: You are stubbornly independent and want to do everything by yourself.
You took a toy truck away from a boy smaller than you at the park the other day. When he started chasing you to get it back, you threw his truck in the trash can. It was not a trash can you could stick your hand down. Way to make me look like number one mom.
You throw a mean tantrum. We haven’t had to suffer through too many in public, so I guess there’s that.
You have a big personality, are easy going, and a lot of fun. Your Papa and I have already coined you as “life of the party”.
You hit me and it hurts. I’m kind of scared of you becoming a teenager if I’m already dodging your punches now.
You have taken to potty training well and are learning fast. It hasn’t been without it’s trials and frustrations, but I gather in the whole scheme of things it’s been okay. You wear choines at all times, minus napping and sleeping. You ask, at times, to go to the bathroom; other times you simply drizzle just a little in your undies and then tell me, at-which-point I take you to the potty.
You still copy everything Hooper does or says.
You can hop on one foot.
You make the best mean face and the best happy face, on command.
You have no fear and love to jump off of surfaces that are taller than you are.    
Favorites: You love cars and planes and anything, really, with wheels. You also still love balls and ask often to play catch. You like making pretend food in your pretend kitchen. We allow you to have your scooter indoors and you ride it all around the kitchen and family room. You play great with Hooper and love to go along with whatever game he is playing. Stewart Little is a movie you ask to watch often. Also a cartoon on Netflix called “Puss & Boots”.

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5 Minute Project

I joined the 5 Minute Project and am excited to challenge myself in a new way. I love capturing everyday life and moments and hope that doing so in a small 5 minute timeframe will force me to think more creatively. My first post is this video of Van; 5 minutes of our morning together while Hooper was at preschool. I sure love this time with him.
You can check out the 5 Minute Project by clicking here and follow along on instagram by clicking here.

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Van & Carla

Van and Carla are seven days apart, which is really kinda crazy when I think about all Janet and I have experienced together; it only seems fitting that pregnancy be on that list. It goes without saying that we’ve had plans for these two… lots of “I can’t wait for this” and “I can’t wait for that” conversations. Our dreams were somewhat shattered when we got the kiddos together in July because there was a lot of bickering and toy stealing and whining and tears between the two of these rugrats. But this last visit, all of that was behind them and they were – dare I say – buds. You know what they say about beginnings… they’re messy.

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An Interview

Dear Hooper & Van,
My days with you two are rarely easy. You both have a ton of energy and when you’re going, you go non-stop. And yet, I don’t want these days to ever end. I want to remember everything about them. Here’s a small attempt at doing so. I hope one day you will enjoy these videos.
Mama

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Van @ 26 Months

Growth & Appearance: You were well on your way to a business-in-the-front-party-in-the-back-also-known-as-a-mullet hair style (we cut it just the other day). We were trying to hold out until Halloween, with plans of dressing you up as either Joe Dirt or Rod Stewart. Your hair is blonder than ever, compliments of summer, and remains thick and oddly kinky.  
We finally found a new pediatrician and took you for your overdue well baby checkup. You weigh 32 lbs (85th percentile) and are 38 inches tall (off the charts, >100%). You feel like a rock, super dense. You have a barrel shaped chest.
Like you’re brother, you’re commonly covered in bumps and bruises. 
Eating: You went from needing a snack first thing in the morning to hold you over while I made you breakfast to being finicky and not eating much at all. You’re now a pain in the ass at the table. You need to be entertained constantly. Just when I thought we could put the grab bag of tricks away. Typically you end up eating, but it’s not usually on our terms. Given that you’re monstrously big, I tend to let it go and cross my fingers that if you skip one meal you’ll eat well at the next, and you usually do.
You do, however, typically try new foods with ease. You ate squash that I made without even pointing it out as something “new”. Same thing with asparagus.
When we go to a restaurant we have to hide the sugar packets. If you beat us to the punch, you usually end up eating the entire packet (paper included).
You still like bananas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, quesadillas, beans, and an assortment of snack foods like raisins and grapes and cheese sticks.
When we try to feed you and you already have a bite in your mouth, you’ll open your mouth and point to the food that’s in there and make this face that says, “told ya so”. 
Sleeping: You sleep in the same room as your brother, in a twin bed with a toddler rail. You’re attached to your blanket and usually like bringing a couple of books with you to bed. Your schedule is the same as Hooper’s: wake up around 8am, nap from 1:30-4:30, and go to sleep around 8:30pm. You nap in the pack-n-play in the bathroom because napping in the same room as your brother does not work. The other day you climbed out of your pack-n-play after your nap, walked downstairs and found me and said, “me awake”. You still suck your thumb and put use “hand hat” when you’re tired. The best is when you’re riding your bike and have your helmet on; hand hat turns into helmet hat and you put your thumb in your mouth and your other hand on top of your helmet.Talking: You speak in full sentences and mimic a lot of what Hooper says. You’ve taken to his favorite words like “because”. So when I say, “Van, why won’t you listen”, you say, “because”.
Before answering any question, you say “um”. Me: “Hey Van, when’s your birthday”, You: “um, July”. It’s so fast and so subtle that it almost sounds like one word, umjuly.
There was a time when we’d scold you and you’d come crying to whichever one of us didn’t scold you and say, “Papa hit me”, even though the scolding was strictly verbal. It made us happy that you’re not in preschool telling people of authority lies about us. Also makes me question using a child as a witness in the court of law. Clearly, kids are nuts. You included.
You start a lot of sentences with “me”, “me awake”, “me like dat”, “me want that”, and so on and so forth.
“No way!” was your favorite phrase for a period of time. Me: “Van, we’re gonna go to the fair”, You: “No way!”.
You repeat whatever you’re saying until someone validates what you’ve said: “Dat boy wear helmet”. No answer. “Dat boy wear helmet”. No answer. “Dat boy wear helmet on his head”. “Yes, you’re right”. Then it’s quiet.
You understand full concepts and tell me things like, “It smells weird”. You also ask, “Who dat on da phone”, whenever we’re talking to anyone on the phone. It’s hard to know how much is mimicking things you hear Hooper say and how much is just you being you. Whichever the case, you ask appropriate questions and make appropriate statements. Development: You can ride a bike with training wheels. You love riding your bike. You can jump off of high surfaces with two feet. You try to hop on one foot and can just about do it.
You did great in swim class. You’re favorite part was jumping off the ledge into the water. You’re very trusting to the point of carelessness. You’re more of a jump-first-find-someone-to-save-me-after kinda kid.
You’ve gone to the bathroom on the toilet several times but are not near ready to officially start potty training. There was a period where you seemed highly interested, but it has passed. Now I wish you’d find the interest again because you’re in a current state of I-don’t-want-my-diaper-changed and nearly every time there’s a tantrum that ensues. It’s annoying that I have to beg you to wipe your butt. Please remember this.
You make fast friends with kids of all ages; others seem to be drawn to you naturally.You give the sweetest kisses. Your lips and nice and plump. Favorites: You request to watch a spin off of the movie Cars, called “Mater Tales”, nearly everyday. We don’t spend a lot of time watching TV, but when we do, this is what you request. You’re also more into cars and tractors than you’ve ever been. Like Hooper, you like to line them up and take them with you everywhere. For a week straight, you brought a little taxi with you everywhere. You also love playing in the garage and spend most of your free time at home in the garage with Hooper either riding your bike around in circles or building “homes” with Hooper. Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Van's Birthday Weekend

Every year, when our birthdays roll around, Willy and I discuss not what we want but what we would like to do. Sure there’s been years when we’ve exchanged little things here and there, but we tend to value experiences over anything else. Call me a lazy mother, but for Van’s second birthday I didn’t send out invitations, pick a theme, or stop at the store to pick out decorations. It always seems silly to me because my boys are still young and I’m pretty sure a simple cupcake is enough to put a smile on their face. So with a weekend spent with family and friends and numerous trips to the beach, we celebrated Van’s second year of life. And it was a blast.
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Two.

Another year, another reminder that I have not finished your baby book. And in looking at your baby book, a reminder that you are far from the baby I held for the first time in my arms two years ago.
You are charismatic, almost always happy. Tantrums never last long despite their fierce and seemingly ominous presence. Though you’ve grown a little more finicky over the last month, you still love your food; so-much-so that I must give you a snack while I’m making your breakfast to stop you from whining. Usually it’s a banana and you like for me to leave the peel on the bottom and cut off any brown areas. Balls are your jam, you find them, borrow them, or steal them no matter where we go. Your favorite birthday gift was a helmet. You spent the rest of the afternoon on Hooper’s bike with your helmet on. You have not yet figured out how to pedal. Hooper is your idol and mentor, your best friend and worst enemy.  
You changed our lives the second you entered this world. And today, because of you, we are happier, more fulfilled, and devoted wholeheartedly to raise you with intention, humor, and a love only a parent can give.
Happy birthday, Boots.
Also, you ate part of your birthday candle.

Van @ 23 Months

Growth & Appearance: Your hair remains oddly thick and coarse. We stopped shaving it in the midst of moving and have agreed to let it grow out mostly by default. As it’s grown out, it’s gotten blonder and blonder. It’s almost white now. A friend of ours said you look like Rod Stewart and your Papa and I agree. I mean, look. We’re considering a Rod Stewart costume for Halloween. Sorry.  
You have scratches on your face and neck constantly from your brother, who likes to choke you. You have one running down your entire forehead and a matching one on your temple. You take many beatings from Hooper.
You feel like you weigh a thousand pounds. You’re dense. You’re in size 5 diapers and wearing 2 or 3T sized clothes. You appear enormously tall next to other kids your age.
We refer to your feet as potato feet; they’re round and chubby. The bottom of your feet are black, always. You downright refuse to keep your shoes on. As soon as we get you in the car seat, you fling your shoes off. I don’t even put them on now until we get where we are going. I don’t even know what size you wear. I think it’s a size 7.
You have a diaper tan.
Both of your two year molars on the top left and bottom left are in. The bottom right should be popping through soon. It’s more apparent when you’re teething now than it was when you were a baby; you’re grumpier, more volatile, and you don’t eat much.  
Eating: There is no manipulating you at the table; you will either eat it or you won’t. When you say you’re done, you mean it. Sometimes this means you’ll eat all of one thing and nothing of anything else on your plate and I’ve simply learned to let it go. You eat a lot so it’s easy to let your phases of finicky eating go. And for the most part, you’re only finicky when you’re teething. All in all, you’re still a championship eater.
You can fit a ridiculous amount of food in your mouth and it’ll be gone within a couple seconds.
You love water bottles but haven’t figured out how to conquer that whole back-washing bit. When you’re done with the water bottle, it looks like a dirty fish tank. You can drink out of a cup but we still use sippy cups because we’re lazy and hate cleaning up more than we have to.
Your favorite foods as of late are bananas, peaches, zucchini, pasta, but you’ll eat most anything and everything. You tend to favor watered down juice over milk, but you still drink a lot of milk. You love snacks.
You ask for utensils but more often than not end up using your hands.
Sleeping: You and Hooper are sharing a room. You are sleeping in a twin bed with a toddler rail. You wake up around 7:30am and nap around 1:30 for about 3 hours. You go to bed around 8 or 9pm.
You sleep with your blanket but don’t seem overly attached to it. We also allow you to pick a toy to sleep with each night; it’s usually a different toy each time and more times than not it’s a book.
You do well with sharing the room with Hooper but you two are not able to nap together. Instead, we put you in the pack n’ play either in the spare bedroom or in the bathroom. I hear you guys each morning “pwaying py-rits” (playing pirates) over the monitor.
The other night I awoke to hear you yelling and found you covered, head to toe, trapped in your sheet like a ghost. 
Talking: When you want some of whatever we are eating you say, “sch-um” (aka, some) varying degrees of urgency depending on whether we give it to you right away, or not.
You’ve also started putting words together. It started with an abnormally long pause between the words; like if it’s cold outside, you say “coh’d”—–“side”. Then you started saying the words without the pause and now you’re stringing together three or more words.
Your first complete sentence was clear as day, “I want down”. And down you went.
You say “yes” very distinctly. We ask you a lot of questions that we know you will say “yes” to because we love hearing it.
You are your brother’s parrot; whatever Hooper says, you too try to say.
You have tons of words in your vocabulary and while it’s more or less easy for us to decipher what you’re saying, you still speak a foreign language to others.
Your laugh is deep and hardy and comes straight from your belly.
Development: You love to spray things with a water bottle but you cry when someone turns the water bottle on you. 
You’re interested in potty training. I’ve put you on the toilet several times and you’ve peed successfully. You’re also starting to hide when you poop, which I think means you’re getting closer to being ready for official training. We haven’t dove in head first, but we’re splashing around. We’re rewarding you with a tic-tac. You request “tac”—“two”. As of late, you wake up with a dry diaper and go to the potty first thing in the morning. You don’t ask to go during the day.
Anytime we ask you a question that’s answer is a numerical value, you say “two”. So how old are you, how many fish are there, how many grapes do you want… the answer is always two. No matter what.
Same goes for colors. The answer is always red, regardless of whether there is red or not. We try to set you up for success and only ask you what color things are when we see something red… like fire trucks.
You can jump off of a higher surface. In fact, without fail, each time we get to the last step of whatever staircase or stairwell, you insist on jumping off. You throw the biggest tantrum ever on the beach in Maui because you did not want to leave a rock you were jumping off over and over.
You ask to hold our hand when you’re going downstairs but are able to do it by yourself without a problem when we’re not around.
You can catch and kick and hit a ball. Papa’s pretty impressed with  your drop kick.
You’ll sit and watch a cartoon, which is new. Bob the Builder is your favorite.
You’re scared of monsters. When we need you to listen, we tell you a monster is coming so you better “X”. It works 90% of the time.
You are destructive; you like chewing things up and knocking things over and taking things off and throwing things all over the place.
It’s obvious you’re a younger sibling; you’re obsessed with things being yours. If you get down off the sofa to go play with a toy and your Papa and I take over sitting where you were once sitting, you will come up and insist we move, declaring the seat yours. You get things taken from you left and right, so I get it.
You’re not much a cuddler. When you get hurt, you run to me but within a second of being in my arms you’re off and running as if nothing happened. I don’t think you’d even come to me for comfort if it wasn’t something that you’ve seen Hooper do; I think you’ve learned it from him but don’t need it whatsoever. 
Favorites: Balls. Oh my, you have a ball in your hand almost constantly; tennis balls, soccer balls, basketballs, golf balls, bouncy rubber balls, beach balls… it matters not. You love holding the tennis racket over your shoulder and using it as a baseball bat. You also have a mean drop kick and some pretty good ball-catching skills. No matter where we go, you seem to find a ball. Within seconds of arriving at a park, you will have a ball – that does not belong to you – in your hands. We went to an open field the other day and you found a golf ball in the dirt. I’m convinced the balls find you just as well as you find them.
You love picture books and request to read the same books over and over and over again.
You also love riding on your Papa’s skateboard. Somehow it made it’s way from the garage to the family room. You like to sit on it or lay on your stomach and push around on your feet. Sometimes you’ll come up to me and ask to hold your hands so you can stand and try to balance.

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What kind of mom are you?

There’s loads of different ways to mother a child but I like to break it down to two categories: those who prevent the mess or those who clean it up later. A while ago, my dad suggested I read a story called “Spilled Milk”. I’m not sure where the story came from; leave it to my dad to hand me a neon yellow sheet of paper that has a story about spilled milk on one side and suggestions for password security on the other.
In any case, the story was about a boy who lost his grip on a bottle of milk he was trying to remove from the refrigerator. In true childlike fashion, the milk ended up on the floor. Rather than scold her son, the mother turned the spilled milk into a lesson by stating that when a mess is made, it must eventually be cleaned up. She then gave her son different options for cleaning it up, suggesting a
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sponge, towel, or mop. The boy chose the sponge and they cleaned up the mess together. When the mess was cleaned, she brought her son outside and allowed him to practice carrying the milk without spilling it. The lesson of the story being that we must not be afraid to make mistakes, that with each mistake comes an opportunity for a valuable lesson.

Sure, it’s all kind of cheesy and if you could read, verbatim, the language used you’d have cheese seeping out your ears (I know, it’s a lovely visual). But as I was busy the other morning wanting to ream Van’s neck for throwing ice all over the floor, I thought of this story.
And when he insisted on drinking from a water bottle in my car only to have half of it spill all over himself, I thought of it again.
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And when I needed to use the boys’ clean bath towel to soak up all the water they were spilling out of their bath, I thought of it again.
And when Hooper took my perfectly folded laundry and insisted on helping by picking it up and throwing it in his brother’s room (where it actually did need to go), I thought of it yet again.
And when Hooper started copying me in the yard by cleaning up Sarah’s turds (I had a bag over my hand, he did not), I thought of it again.
I can’t say that each and every one of these scenarios turned into a thoughtful lesson that ended with them practicing cleaning up dog shit, for example, but a lot of them did end with a shoulder shrug, a “thank you for helping”, or a good hand scrubbin’.
That’s because I’ve accepted that I can’t win them all. In fact, I don’t even want to win them all. I love the idea of a child being a child. I love watching my boys explore their world. I see their admiration for me every time they mimic my behavior.
So sometimes spilled milk is okay. Just so long as it’s not spilled breast milk, right?!
What kind of mom are you? Do you embrace messes or try your hardest to prevent them?

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Van @ 19 Months

Growth & Appearance: At your well-baby check-up this month your height was 35 1/4 (96%), your weight was 28.5 (70%), and your head circumference was 19 1/8 (70%).

Eating: You love food. It’s still so interesting to compare the differences in eating habits between you and your brother. I’ll put two scrambled eggs on each of your plates, for example, and you’ll literally shove 1/3 of what’s on your plate into your mouth and swallow it within seconds while your brother will spit out a small bite protesting that the bite was “too big”. The other day I gave you a hamburger and held off on giving you any french fries until you were done with the burger. I waited until you put your last bite in and then put a fry on your plate. You literally took the burger out of your mouth, and I swear you had half
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of that burger shoved into every little crevice of your mouth, and proceeded to eat the french fry instead. So while you love eating just about anything and everything, you definitely have preferences.

When you’re done eating you throw everything off the table like one of those crazy musicians who breaks his guitar at the end of his show. The other day you threw your sippy cup at my glass cup which broke into a thousand pieces on the floor.
You love to eat ice. So much so that you now open the cupboard and pull out one of the tupperware bowls that I typically put it in and hand it me requesting for “ice, ice” over and over again until I give in. After every meal, you climb up onto my lap and try to get the ice out of my cup.
You also love Altoids.

Sleeping: You’re doing well in your big boy bed. For the most part, you take your naps without much fuss. The other day, however, you protested and by the time you were finally quiet I peeked in and was unable to open the door; you fell asleep right up against the door.
You are afraid of the dark. You don’t even like walking at night and whine to be held or reach for one of our hands to hold.
You took off your pants and diaper the other day during your nap and wiped your shit all over the pillow and sheets. That was fun.

Talking: You started saying “no” and shaking your head and, at times, even crossing your arms across your chest in defiance. It’s so darn cute that we often ask you things we know you’ll say no to just to see you wildly shake your head in protest. Othertimes, it’s not so cute. The terrible twos are approaching quickly.
You say a ton of words that mostly only those who take care of you on a regular basis can understand. You say “please” and “thank you”. You probably have somewhere in the ballpark of 100 words in your vocabulary but you are not stringing them together in sentences.

Development: You’re warm and welcoming and friendly. You’ll go to anyone, like the other day when you went up to the guy working on our house and requested for him to hold you. Or the other day when someone was over to pick something up that I had sold on craigslist and you grabbed her by the finger to accompany you outside. Then there was the day you tripped and fell outside a restaurant and went to the first person you looked up and saw for comfort; it was a complete stranger.
All the sudden you became a champion scooter rider. You can go fairly fast and without stopping. You lead with your right foot and push with your left.
You have a new found insistence in wanting things to go your way. You have your own ideas of what you want to do and how you want to do them.
You love spraying spray bottles filled with water but you often mistakenly hold it in the wrong direction and end up spraying yourself in the face.
You can jump with two feet off the floor but it takes some pre-jumping warm ups to get it going. You love trying though.
You love latching your belt of your high chair together and putting t
ogether your carseat buckle as well.
I allowed you to paint with Hooper the other day and aside from the few brush strokes that you put on your paper, most of the paint ended up in your mouth and hair.
You can point out all the different animals in your picture books, including bunnies, horses, dogs, cats, penguins, fish, frogs, and so on and so forth. You fold your hands up into your armpits and quack when you see a picture of a duck.

Favorites: You still love to read. Goodnight Moon is still one of your favorites. You love cookies and candy. You love music and dance like no ones watching. And, really, anything Hooper is playing with becomes a fast favorite.

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My Baby

It was Valentine’s Day, a day we typically don’t celebrate. Not as a couple, anyway. We have lots of love for one another and our love is rooted deeper in a genuine friendship and we’ve both always considered it a bit silly to dedicate one day – and the same day as everyone else, no less – to express our gratitude for one another. So, when Willy came home with flowers and red vines I looked at him perplexed and awkwardly apologized for not having anything tangible to give him in return.
Then I requested that we go for a drive. Get out. Enjoy what was a beautiful day. And so, we did.
We headed to the canyon, a short 5 minute drive from our home. Hooper fell asleep in the back seat and as we got out to watch the sun set behind the rocky hills, we decided to leave him be. I snapped a couple shots of Willy with Van before asking Willy to place Van in my arms.
It’s been over four months since I’ve held either of my boys. And, more times than not, I’ve found that my need to hold them coupled with my inability to do so has been an unwelcome lesson in patience; when they are not cooperating or when they’re throwing tantrums or when they decide that climbing off their beds is more fun than climbing into their beds or when they get hurt and look to me to comfort them and I can do nothing. When Willy placed Van in my arms, I expected squirming and a full-fledged protest of confinement. What I got was my youngest son, my baby, in my arms. All to myself. His head on my chest, even if for just a moment.
We got back in the car after the sun went down. Hooper was still asleep in the back sleep, dreaming dreams of french fries or firemen- I’m sure. And as we drove away, I told Willy that that moment and the photo that captured it was the best gift I could have received.
The flowers died and the licorice got eaten, but this right here, these images – these memories – will always live on.
Today, I’m feeling grateful for my family.

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March Madness Sale

When I was pregnant with Hooper, I use to scour the thrifts and Etsy for cute vintage boys clothes. I’d frequent a lot of the same shops over and over again because I found a few of them consistently had just what I was looking for. I was so stoked the other day to open a package from the lovely Alisha of LishyLoo Vintage and find these adorable pants that she has so generously handed down to us. They appear handmade, with love, with some fraying at the waist that makes me think of all the cuties that have worn these pants before Van, her three adorable children included. In any event, it got me all sentimental. 
If you’re looking for some awesome vintage finds, do yourself a favor and visit her shop. She’s currently having a march madness sale and you can get 20% with the code MARCHMADDNESS. Here are my favorites: This adorable two piece outfit from the 60’s (mostly for those amazing shorts, I mean get outta here!), these Health-Tex overalls (my favorite vintage brand), these Minnetonka moccasins that I wish were in my size, and… waittttt for it… THIS children’s folk jacket that I’m basically drooling over and almost didn’t include because I want to just snatch it up for myself.
Side note: Many congrats to *Misty* for winning the giveaway to Little Pim. Thank you to all who entered!

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