Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dear Nolan... You're 21 Months Old

My sweet, squishy Noley-Bear...

Oh, my baby... you've grown and changed so much in the last 3 months. I knew it was going to happen, but I never anticipate it all happening so fast. You are thriving, sweet baby. You love hugs, kisses, cuddling, high-fiving, and being outside.

You're an affectionate child, especially with the people you love most. You are still crazy about your pops... you have a really strong bond with him and when he's around, you still don't want anyone else. It's absolutely heartwarming to see you adoration for him, you reach for him, point at pictures of him and yell "bops", and you cry by the door when he leaves.

One night last month I was putting you in bed and you pointed at the rocking chair, which I knew was a cue that you wanted me to hold you and rock you. So of course, I did. Most nights, you like to sit with us for a few minutes before bed to wind down. You're sleeping pretty well at night - most nights you go down between 7 and 7:30pm and you're up usually between 7-7:30am. You nap once a day and do really well going down on your own. We put you in your crib and you sleep from about 12:30 or 1 to anywhere between 3 and 4. You love your bed and especially your blankies from Gramz, which you call "Gink-ies" and your paci "boba". When I go in after you've been sleeping I still breathe deeply because you have a certain scent that fills the room. I hope it never goes away.

You're communicating with your words better everyday. Your vocabulary is growing and now you can say between 15-20 words. Some of them only I can understand, but you are definitely trying to say more. Some of the words you're saying: mama, dada, bops, boba, ginkie, sissy, Andie, Elena, Mickey, car, fire truck, more, thank you (you say this on your own now, which is adorable), and everyone's favorite word: BYE. You say it so matter-of-fact with the cutest little emphasis on the "i" sound. Sometimes we will copy you because it's so darling.

You also rely heavily on your other forms of communication, especially nodding your head yes and no, waving, pointing, and the occasional screams. When you see airplanes in the sky you point up and yell at us to look! You also like to point at the features on our faces when we are holding you. You will point at our eyes and say "eyes", "hair", "nose", "mouth", and "ear". You know where most of your own body parts are and will point at them when we ask you.

You absolutely adore your sister and you miss her when she's in preschool. She started in August and the first few days she was there you walked around the house looking for her while she was gone. You two are playing really well together and seeing you interact makes me melt. You are always excited to see each other first thing in the morning, you give hugs and kisses with out being prompted to, and sometimes I will find you snuggling in her bed or while you're watching something on tv.

Your favorite toys are trucks, cars, tractors, and balls. You started gymnastics last month and you really enjoy it! Each week I am noticing you getting better at the little skills they're teaching - last week I was so proud of you because you listened to the teacher and waited your turn to do what she asked. You also love roughhousing with dada & your sister and riding in the cozy coupe car your auntie Kelly got you.

One of your favorite things to do is go outside, and we try to get out several times a day. You love riding around on the trikes and cars, playing with rocks, and going down the slide on the little jungle gym we have. You also like to go on the big trampoline and run around in circles with the ball.

We turned you around in your carseat recently because you were still very unhappy facing backwards. I feel safer when I drive knowing I am not paying constant attention to the back seat trying to make sure you have what you need to be content. You love watching out the window and being able to me in the front seat and see your sister next to you.

You're a big eater! You are starting to eat a few more different foods, which makes me happy. Your favorites are fruit and you eat lots of it with every meal - especially blueberries, strawberries, apples, bananas, apricots and peaches. You also love green smoothies from Whole Foods, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, hamburgers (you will eat an entire burger) & taquitos. Sometimes I struggle to get you to eat your broccoli and sometimes you'll eat the entire cup with no problem, I haven't figured you out yet!

You're wearing 2T clothes and pajamas and size 4 diapers. You love bath time with your sister and you also love to shower with us. We spent a lot of the summer in the pool at Gramz & Pop's house and you also had fun at the splash pad near our house. We celebrated the 4th of July with Gramz & Pops and you fell asleep before the fireworks show at the club, so your great grandma Nancy stayed with you at the house and watched you on the monitor. You also got to swim with your great grandpa John in the pool. He loves watching you and commented on how you want to be just like the big kids! He's such a sweet soul, Nolan, what an honor that you share his middle name.

I still stare at you sometimes and am blown away that you're my baby. I love looking at your little body and all of your features. You're a beautiful little boy. Big blue eyes, the sweetest smile - so darn cute! You're happy, easy going, and playful. I am so proud of you and how you love life and your people. I hope you always feel my unconditional love for you and know how much I want the very best for you. Always believe in yourself, because I surely do, my baby.

When I was holding you last night, smelling you and feeling your weight on my chest... I had a vision of the future and I hope you'll always hug me like you do now.

Love you so much, my baby.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dear Nolan... You're 18 Months Old!

My sweet Noley Bear,

Within the last couple of weeks, at night when I am putting you to bed, I ask you "do you want to snuggle or do you want me to put you in your bed?". Almost always, you lay your head on my chest and cuddle. Occasionally, you'll say "beeeh", which I know means "bed". I love how much you're growing every day. You're smart, funny, and ridiculously cute. I have a habit of just staring at you and your little body... especially with your hair cut (daddy cuts it every couple of weeks) you are just so darling and so dear to me.

You have so much love for your family, especially "pops". You're crazy about the guy and though you'll eventually let him set you down after seeing him for a while, you cry and scream when he tries to leave the room. You love to snuggle him, and if he is around, you'd prefer no one else! When pops isn't around, you're very partial to your daddy & I. You aren't a big fan of going to strangers, but you are starting to venture out and explore on your own more often. You're independent, but you are still most comfortable when you're around us.

You are sleeping pretty well at night. You go about 7-7 with one nap during the day from about 12:30-2:30/3. You're wearing 18-24 month & 2T clothes, and size 4 diapers. We go in for your well check next week, so I will update all of your stats, but I would say you're close to 30 pounds. You're solid, but still so tiny to me. A few people have asked me if you and Andie are twins, because when you're sitting down, you look close in size.

The last 3 months have been laid back and we've taken a few fun adventures. In April, we went to Scottsdale, Arizona for 6 days with Gramz & Pops to celebrate my birthday. Daddy and I stayed at a different hotel for 2 nights to celebrate while you stayed and played. We went swimming, shopping, to the train museum, and just spent time hanging out enjoying the desert. It was so much fun, and of course, you were glued to your pops for most of the trip.

In May, we went to Disneyland with Nana, Uncle Joe, and Caroline (Nana's bff). We had so much fun and you loved seeing the characters and riding the rides. You went on almost everything your sister did and you were such a good boy riding in the stroller and taking naps while we were on the go. We made lots of special memories and had such a great time!

And last week, for Father's Day, we went to Monterey for a long weekend. Grams & Pops, Nana & Uncle Joe all went with us and we had so much fun together. We went to dinner, the aquarium, which you loved, rode a big bicycle along the coast (which you waved to people from), and had a water gun fight in the hotel room (thanks for those water guns, Nana!). You loved being with everyone, especially Pops, but had fun going from room to room to say hi.

You've picked up a few new things in the last few months. You're talking a little more, but not things everyone can understand. You say mama, dada, boba (paci), key (mickey), cars (your favorite), bop (pops), nigh nigh, ball, bath, and baba (milk). You started clapping to tell us "yes" because you copied daddy and noticed that he claps sometimes when he is saying "yes" or gets excited. You started with daddy, but are now always doing it because you've realized we have caught on. You will also nod your head yes and no, which is really cute! You can name a few animal noises and you know where most of your body parts are (ears, eyes, belly, nose, hair, etc).

You love hide & seek, being chased, your paci, blankies, cars, balls, and figurines. You also love to dance when you hear music and anytime you see the door open to somewhere you shouldn't go, you will immediately run for it. You are playfully biting (only adults and occasionally sissy) but we are trying to teach you to stop doing that. You love food and are a pretty good eater. Your favorite food is fruit and you love apricots, peaches, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and kiwi. I go through a lot of fruit and you eat it with every meal. You also like broccoli, chicken, burgers, pasta, and yogurt. Recently, you ate an entire in n out burger! You are drinking milk, but not regularly. You like it, but you don't love it.

With the summer heat, we've spent lots of time either inside playing together, or at Gramz & Pop's house in their pool. I am trying to relish everyday because I know I will look back and want to relive the moments with your squishy little body and chipped front teeth (yikes, that happened 2 months ago - not sure from what). Your smile makes me melt, Nolan. And that precious laugh of yours is so cute. You will scream when something is really funny!

You have such a sweet little spirit. If sissy is crying, you will walk out of the room to go find a blankie for her and bring it to her. You LOVE to give hugs and kisses and do it often with out being asked. You are laid back, happy, and easy going. You are such a good baby and I can't imagine my life with out you. I truly feel so lucky to be your mom, and I always will!

I can't believe you're 18 months old. The time has passed impossibly fast. I knew it would and everyday I just try to keep it all in perspective. This time is so precious. You are so precious. I love you so much, Nolan. You will never know just how much!


Monday, June 13, 2016

Love always wins.

June 12, 2016

Dear Andie & Nolan,

I am writing this letter as I keep checking in with you on the monitor while you sleep. We spent the day inside today. Usually in the mornings I am gently awoken by one of you, but this morning I rolled over to my phone beeping “Several people killed in Orlando night club, multiple more injured.” as a breaking news alert on my phone. My babies, today 50 people were killed and another 53 were injured because of a hate crime & terrorist attack.

You are 3 and 1.5 years old. In your short lives, there’s already been several mass shootings. Our world is plagued by words “terrorism” and “hate crimes” leading our headlines. 50 people died senselessly today and I refused to let the around the clock coverage plaster our television for you to see. You’re too young to understand or process these horrific images. I played CNN on my computer and kept checking in for updates. I felt sick. I kept staring at both of you, wondering if this world you’re growing up in will ever change.

As I hugged you both and held you through out the day, I thought of the parents, just like me, who held their babies years ago and have watched them grow into adults… being told their children are gone. I imagine they are desperately begging that this is all just a bad dream, that their babies haven’t actually left the earth. I can imagine they’re replaying these exact moments i’m experiencing with you now in their heads - nourishing, holding, rocking their baby, carefully holding their hand through adolescence and then setting them free into the world only for them to be ripped away. We briefly went out to pick up dinner tonight and I was thinking… how is life just going on around the world, “hello, how are you tonight?”, people just going about their business. This shooting today has deeply resonated with me. I’m furious. I’m sad. I feel helpless.

Just as much as this isn’t about me or you, it also is. My hope is that both of you will accept others for who they are regardless of who they love & spend their lives with. There is no “us” and “them”. There is “we”. We are all human with a desire to love and be loved. My hope is that by the time you are old enough to read and understand this letter, this hatred has passed and we have learned to coexist. But I am fearful things won’t change fast enough.

My wish is that both of you express your love. Tell people in your lives often how you feel, show them. If you have an instinct that someone is feeling lonely, or unloved, reach out to them. All humans have qualities worthy of being loved. Be the one to recognize it. Be kind. It’s something I am working on being better at every day.

I want you both to understand something. Even with the most horrific & awful tragedies, there are good people and I believe we, as a human race, are inherently good. I cried today as I saw hundreds of people lining up to donate much needed blood. I heard stories of heroic actions as strangers helped each other, lifted each other up, used the shirt off their back to help another’s wound, hugged and supported each other. Our nation’s first responders are facing war-like conditions when these tragedies unfold. They’re running in when I am not sure I would have the courage to do anything but run away. There is absolutely hope in this despair. There was one evil man today, but hundreds of heroes.

Andie & Nolan, my wish is that the senseless killing ends before either of you have the capacity to understand it’s happening. As I stared at your innocent little faces today, I wondered how anyone could have it in them to kill these people who were just out enjoying their freedom. I couldn’t help but put myself in the position of those parents, those sisters, brothers, friends, loved ones.

I love you so much and I wish I could keep you safely tucked in this cocoon of our home. But I know I can’t, and I hope I am gifted the blessing of watching you grow and live full and content lives.

As I go to bed tonight, I’m wishing I could do something to help ease the pain of so many suffering tonight. I hope they know I am standing with them, hurting for them, thinking of them, and sending my love.

It’s been a tragic day I will never forget. And when I think of today, I will think of us, in our jammies, safely tucked within the 4 walls of our home as I replayed the interviews and awful images and thought desperately about everyone’s lives who changed in a split second because of hate. May you both always empathize, support, encourage. There is love & courage buried under these disgusting acts of hate. Love always wins.

Love you forever,

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dear Andie... You're 3!

My sweet, feisty, adventurous little firecracker... you're 3.

Andie. When I think about the last 3 years, I get emotional. You and your brother are absolutely, hands down, the best part of every day. You have such a huge personality. You're smart, you're sweet, you're kind, you're brave and you are absolutely beautiful. You make us laugh every day and you love to play, joke, and laugh.

It's amazing how vividly I remember meeting you for the first time. Your little body, all 5 pounds 15 ounces of you, so warm and sweet, laid on my chest for the first time. The way you looked at us in the following weeks and months, which turned into the way you interacted with us through smiles & laughs, which transformed into your sweet little voice communicating with us so well. I love getting to know you and your spirit. It's amazing that I can hold a conversation with you now. You're expressing your feelings well and will sometimes say "I'm happy, or I'm sad...." You even notice when characters in books or on tv are feeling something. I love when you tell me out of the blue "I love you so much, mama". You have also been known to tell Gramz "thank you so much, Gramz, I love it" when she gets you something. You're very expressive - and you have a way with words at just 3 years old.

The last year has completely transformed you into a little girl. Your favorite colors are pink and purple (you ordered your 3rd Birthday cake all by yourself, you even told the gal which princess you'd like on your cake "Belle"). You can't live with out your special blankies from Gramz, and you have several of them - which is good because you like to chew on them when you're tired and I have to wash and rotate them daily. Your favorite toys: figurines, anything princess related, babies, and color crayons & crafts. If asked who your favorite princess is, you'll reply "Ariel". And you love to dress up in dresses, particularly princess dresses, but any dress will do. Most days, we find you in a dress, and daddy jokes sometimes that you have more outfit changes than Beyonce in concert because you'll rotate several times through the day.

You do not like wearing pants. We will make you wear them when we're out and about, but the second we walk through the door, you strip down to your shirt and undies. You also do not like having your hair done. We struggle every day over hair ties, clips, and braids because it drives me crazy when I can't see your beautiful face... but I also just want you to feel free and comfortable to be yourself. So I don't always force you to wear your hair up. (Although, bribes of wearing my 'pretty necklaces' work pretty well). You love jewelry, make up, and all things girlie.

You potty trained in the middle of February and you did a great job. It was the trickiest thing for me so far as a parent... I wasn't sure how to handle it, but you lead the way with your independent little spirit. I started to doubt you going number two and I was trying to bribe you, yet you still wouldn't go. I took you over to Gramz & Pops house, and the second I walked out the door, you went immediately on your own for them. You didn't want bribes, celebrations, or lots of pressure. You wanted to go on your own in your own time... and that's just what you did! You've had a couple accidents here and there (maybe 4 or 5 since), but only because sometimes you'll get so wrapped up in playing you will forget.

You have two of your favorite books almost completely memorized, Princess Baby and Andie & Ariel Under The Sea. It is so dang cute to listen to you 'read' them to us at night! You stopped napping at about 2.5 years old and although it was a little challenging at first, you've gotten yourself on a pretty good schedule. Sometimes you'll take a little snooze in the car if you're tired, and you will also randomly fall asleep on the couch, but overall - no nap has made you a pretty good sleeper at night. You usually go about 12 hours. Some nights, you'll run into our bed if you have a bad dream, wake up unexpectedly, or miss us... and daddy and I love it. Holding you while you sleep is absolutely amazing... we just love you so much, Andie!

We did lots of traveling this year. We did Disneyland 4 times. The First time was for your 2nd Birthday just a few days before you turned two with Gramz & Pops and it was magical. This last time was for your 3rd Birthday with Daddy's family and it was so much fun for us all to see your excitement. You are definitely a Disney girl... you love the rides, the characters, the shows... the whole experience! We've also traveled to Maui, Monterey, Scottsdale, Bend, and Tahoe. Our trip to Bend was with mama's entire family and we made so many incredible memories. You love staying in hotels and experiencing new things. You will ask us "when are we going back to the hotel?" after we get home from trips. :)

You are a good eater. You love fruit, broccoli, mac & cheese, quesadillas, pasta, yogurt, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and waffles. You love bath time and every night you and Nolan take a bubble bath. In the last couple weeks, you will actually clean it up after it's over and put all the toys back where they go. It was amazing how you remembered exactly how I did it.

You have a fantastic memory. This year, we took out a Santa doll that Gramz had gotten you a year prior. I pulled it out of the box (you hadn't seen it since the previous December) and you said "hey, Gramz got me that!". You've done that with several toys, and it blows our mind how well you remember little details. You've got your colors down, lots of your shapes, you have a pretty good memory of the ABCs, and you can count to 20 (sometimes!). You know how to spell your name and have quite a few songs memorized that we like to sing together. You are definitely ready for preschool... when we toured the one you're going to next year, you didn't want to leave!

You're on the taller side (about 38 inches if I had to guess, and probably around 30 pounds). You are dense, solid, yet still have a tiny little body. I can't get enough of your little figure. You have a belly just like your mama always has growing up! You have beautiful blue eyes and platinum blonde hair. You also have beautiful little features, I love to stare at your big blue eyes and lucious little lips.

Andie, you make us unbelievably proud. You have such a sweet little spirit, you love to snuggle, give kisses, and hug us. You love your family and with out knowing it, you bring all of us together. You have special relationships with your cousins and watching you all play gives me immense joy. You love your brother, and despite the normal big sister stuff, you are good to him and I know you two are always going to have a strong relationship. You have empathy, you're kind to others, and you really love older kids. You are so much fun to watch!

You are also quite fiery. You know what you want, and you like to make your own choices. I think it has to do a little with your age, but I think you are also a very confident girl. You know what you like and what you don't like. Sometimes you can be very stubborn, but you've learned that we mean what we say. We always try to be consistent with you so you understand... but we also like that you're confident in yourself and your decisions.

Sometimes I wish it were possible to really express to you the depth of my love and pride for you, but words will never do it justice. Andie, you've awaken a part of my soul I never knew existed. You and your brother make being a mom my most favorite thing in the world. I love you so incredibly much and I will forever and ever. I desperately wish time would slow down so I could keep you and your squishy little self safely in my arms, but I am also so proud to see you blossom. You are amazing and I am so proud of you. Everyday, I stare at you in awe.

Never give up on what you believe in. Nothing makes me feel more joy than when I see you smile and giggle. You are my sunshine, baby. I love you so much! I hope you feel it every single day.

Happy 3rd Birthday, my little girl. What an exciting thing to witness all of life's little blessings unfold in the next year.

Love you to the moon & back times infinity,

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dear Nolan... You're 15 months old!

Oh, Mr. Noley Bear...

You, sweet baby boy, are such a happy, content and mellow guy. You have done so much in these last 3 months since turning one. Even though you were taking steps before you were a year old, it was about 3 weeks after turning one when you because a true walker. Now, you are all over the place and working hard to keep up with your older sister.

You are obsessed (still) with your Pops. It's absolutely adorable. If Pops is around, you don't want anything to do with anyone else. You'll push our hands out of the way if we try to take you from him. You'll grab on tight and cry if he tries to set you down, and you perk up immediately when you see him. You two have some sort of special bond and we all love it. I like to tell people you are the CEO and President of the "Pops Fan Club". You definitely fit the part! And I think it's safe to say he adores you, too.

To sum up the last 3 months... I would have to say: snuggles! You are Mr. Snuggles. The ladies who watch you at the gym all gush about how you love to nestle your head into them. You love to be held, and hold on tight! If we are sitting down and you are playing, you'll come over every so often to offer your snuggles. You make the cutest little "muuuh" noise when you go in for a kiss, and you'll just barrel your head into our arms when you want a hug. Your favorite person to snuggle, of course, is Pops... but I would like to think I am a close second. :)

We had two little getaways recently. We went to Monterey to visit the aquarium, which you loved. It was so much fun to see you react and babble at all of the bright colored fish in the big tanks. You high-fived one of the scuba divers through the glass while they were cleaning the tanks. You stared, in awe, at everything. Daddy, Andie, You and I had so much fun being together, taking long walks along the water, and eating dippin' dots for the first time. We also took a very fun trip to Disneyland with Gramz, Pops, Auntie Kelly, Ryan, & Adam. You spent most of the time attached to Pops - whether it was holding his hand, following him around, sleeping on his chest, being pushed by him in the stroller, or just simply being held by him while you enjoyed everything! The characters were your favorite part and you high-fived and kissed every one of them. I think your favorite was Mickey, mostly because you recognize him! It was so precious seeing you run toward him when you met him. You were so much fun to watch while we were on the rides. It was so special to just watch you observe and absorb the colors, music, and excitement. You also seemed to really enjoy the parades! You went on almost all of the rides with us and you were such a trooper in the parks.

You are getting a little more picky with foods, but I think that's pretty typical for your age. You love fruit - all of it, especially blueberries, bananas, strawberries, and oranges. You love waffles, pancakes, and oatmeal for breakfast, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. Your favorite food is pasta with marinara sauce, and even though it is pretty messy, I can't resist feeding it to you because you eat so much of it. You like some veggies, especially broccoli and carrots.

You are becoming more and more vocal the older you get. You say "mama", "dada", "baba", and "pops". You will babble and yell at us, even though we don't always understand you, you are still very good at communicating your needs to us. You will also nod your head "yes" or "no" if we ask you a question. You definitely are aware of who everyone is and if I ask you to do simple tasks like "bring sissy her juice", you do it! If we ask you to give "dada" or "sissy" a kiss, you'll walk right over and do it!

One of my favorite memories of you was when we were at Chick Fil A for family night (you love that cow mascot - you chase him around the restaurant, yell for him, high five, hug and kiss him) . I set you down after eating and you walked right over to another little boy, about the same age as you, and just gave him a big hug. You are such a sweet soul. You have such a loving demeanor and it's so much fun to see you interact with other people. You smile easily and are truly a mellow person.

You are wearing 18 month and 2T clothes and size 4 diapers still. You are very attached to your blankies from Gramz, your paci, and your favorite toys are figurines and any type of ball. You kick, throw, and chase after the ball. You're getting pretty fast and it is so much fun to see you and Andie play together. Seeing the bond you two are forming so young is magical and it is my greatest hope that you two keep that bond forever. You love each other so much already! A lot of times, I will just let you and her go off and play together. You will shut the door to her room, and when I peek in to check, you're both just playing! You are biting occasionally, and have gotten Andie a couple of times on the arm. I don't think it's been malicious, I think it's because it feels good on your teeth! You are getting more rough and tumble and you love to climb on everything. Lately you have been climbing on the kitchen furniture, couch, and beds. I will turn my back for a second and when I turn back around you're on top of the kitchen table. You've taken some ugly spills, but you're pretty tough. I think you're slowly learning your boundaries!

You aren't a fan of getting your diaper changed or having your clothes changed. You wiggle, squirm and scream unless I sing you songs or distract you. But luckily, you are doing much better in the car. You did so well on the 14 hour round trip car ride to Disneyland... and I am so grateful that you don't mind it like you used to. It makes our drives much more relaxing, and now, you will usually sleep if it's a long ride.

Last week, you were pretty sick. You had a fever for about 4 days, and despite feeling yucky, you were still so happy. You had a really rough time sleeping because you just didn't feel well. You wanted me, and I loved having that time to hold you and cuddle you. I slept in the chair in your room with you one night and just tried to soak you in. Feeling your weight on my chest is one of the best feelings I get to experience. You still have your scent, and even though I didn't get much sleep that night, it was an honor to just hold you and make you feel secure. It's these moments that mean most to me as a mom... it's the best feeling in the world to feel like I can make you feel better just by holding you.

Nolan, your teeth-y smile (you've got 12 of them, including molars) makes me weak in the knees. I stare at you through out the day and am just in awe at how darn darling you are. You have the cutest belly, squishy buns and legs, and delicious cheeks. Daddy cuts your hair, and even though I am convinced you look a little like me - you definitely look like him with that hair cut! I love when you hold out your little arms for me to pick you up. I love hearing you laugh and giggle, which you do so easily. I love seeing you first thing in the morning when you wake up. I love opening up the door to get you out of the car and seeing your little smile. I love watching you sleep. I love you.

I am so darn proud of you, son. I am proud of the sweet little soul you're growing into. I love you so much and am so blessed to see you grow, develop, love, laugh, and enjoy life. I hope you never doubt it, baby. I love you to the moon and back, times infinity. Forever.