Friday, July 23, 2021

Dear Spencer... you're TWO!

 Spencie,

Wowza, we cannot believe our baby is 2. You have grown and changed so much over the last 3 months. You are talking more, singing, running everywhere, and you absolutely love the water. We celebrated your 2nd Birthday with some close family and a few friends - you swam in the pool and opened your presents. Pops decked out a brand new tractor just for you, equipped with added on headlights. Daddy and I found you some new trucks and a ride on garbage truck. 

You went to the doctor this week and she said you are growing and progressing perfectly. You aren't a huge kid, but you are right on track and healthy. You were in the 35% for height and the 25% for weight. You were not a fan of having to go to the doctor, but I was relieved to hear you looked great. 

You are a great eater still. You love all fruit, waffles, peanut butter and jelly, chicken, quesadillas, crackers, and pretty much anything we feed you. You eat well and love to throw everything on the floor when you're done. You especially love to make eye contact with daddy and throw it right in front of him! 

You are always running... you rarely walk, and you are very fast! When you see something you want, it's very hard to catch you. You are an expert climber and you can get pretty much anywhere you want to go. We have had to put a gate on your door to lock you in there if we have to take our eyes off of you because you will be in to any cabinet or drawer and clean it out if we have our eyes off of you. You also love to mess with everything in the kitchen, although you have started to mellow out quite a bit. 

You love the water and you are a fish. You know how to work the bath tub and you will go into the bathroom fully clothed, plug the drain, and start the bathwater. You also love to run and jump in the pool, you think you're a big kid and you dunk your face right in and swim all over the place. 

You are loud and you will let us all know what you want or need. Your siblings are at your service and you can get them to do pretty much anything you want. You have the cutest relationship with all of them, and it is neat to see how different it is with each one of them. You and Cody are playing more and more together, Nolan loves to play with you and take care of you, and Andie loves to play mama with you. She will carry you around, kiss you, and get you out of bed in the morning. They all fight over who gets to go get you when you're up from your nap. You're pretty popular around our house!

You are still napping daily from about 1:30 - 3:30 or 4. Those naps are starting to fade a bit, though, and sometimes you will skip them. Your bed time has also gotten a bit on the days you nap... you are definitely getting older. You sleep through the night pretty well most nights and I am grateful for that! You love to rock and have snuggle time before bed every night and lately you have been singing to me. You love Blippi and a few of the songs - one about tractors, another about garbage trucks, and of course one about excavators. You have the sweetest little voice and I love hearing you sing the songs. I finally got it on video the other night and I have watched it several times. 

You love to wave and say "bye". You can say about 40-50 words and you will put them together. Not everyone can understand you, but we are all getting better at knowing what you're trying to communicate to us with words. You also love to say "P-U" when you go poops and you will say "ewwww", which is so cute. You are wearing mostly 2T clothes, size 5 diapers, and size 7/8 shoes. You love to act like a dog and you will lick us to give us kisses. You are also quite the drooler and your shirts are usually always soaked! We plan to ditch the Paci here in the next few weeks and I know that will be a tough transition for you. 

The last few months have been really busy with all of your siblings home for summer. We went to Disneyland for the first time since the pandemic began in the middle of June and you had so much fun. You loved the rides, hanging out with your Pops (he took you back to the hotel for nap time), and running all over the place. It was fun to see the magic through your eyes. It was amazing to see you take it all in and chasing after you was very entertaining. 

The second year of your life was different than any other year of our lives because of the pandemic, but the best part of it was all of the time our family got to spend together in our home. We spent so much quality time with close family and friends. Your siblings got to watch you grow and change daily and we found so much joy in being together as a family. You are truly a special little boy, Spencer. I love watching you develop into the little toddler that you are. You are a love. 

Tonight as I held you before bed, I looked into your beautiful little round blue eyes and told you I loved you and snuggled your tiny little body tightly. I love holding you, Spencer. I hope you always know how deeply you are loved and adored. Happy TWO, baby boy. 

Love,

Mama

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Dear Spence... You're 21 Months Old!

 Our sweet and spicy little Spencie...

You are keeping us on our tippy toes. You are quick, smart, and always on the move. You have a smile that makes me weak in the knees and you are lucky that you're so dang cute, because you are a little trouble maker. You are fast on your feet, running down the hallway to unravel another one of your curiosities. You love to be outside and if we have unlocked doors, you will go right out. You are also very snuggly and holding your tiny little body is one of my favorite parts of the day. I hold you for 15-20 minutes before bedtimes and nap and that time is so precious and special to me. Spencer, we are absolutely wild about you. You are truly the best little caboose to our family. We love you so much.

You are wearing all 2T and 24 month clothes now. You fit nicely into size 5 diapers and you wear a size 7 shoe. You eat a lot, sometimes more than all of your siblings combined. You love fruit... all fruit. Most meals we put a rainbow of fruit on your tray and you'll eat every bite (besides the occasional strawberry). You love chicken, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pancakes, Mac and cheese, quesadillas and burgers. We are trying to give you more variety of foods when we can, and you do pretty well trying new things. When you are done eating, we always know because you throw everything on the floor. You love to look at us and make eye contact while you do it, too. 

You love running around and kicking the ball, riding your toys around the house, taking apart your brother's legos, and you almost always have some small toy in your hands. Your favorites are tractors and fire engines and you love to tell us what they are "trac-tor" "fir-tuck". You also say "thank you" (in the cutest voice), "hi", "dada", "baba", "mama", "sissy", "car", and a few other words. You definitely have your own language and tell us sentences, but we can't always understand you. You are, however, pretty good at communicating with us and telling us what you need with your words and with pointing or showing us. Your favorite item is "Pengy" - your penguin, and we often can't find him because you will carry him around the house and leave him places. You love to go to sleep snuggling him and it is adorable. 

You have a very close relationship with your siblings. Tonight, as we were driving home from Gramz & Pop's house, I saw Andie taking bites out of little crackers and sharing with you (she knew you'd have trouble with how big they are). You stuck your cute little hand over to her and she'd put another one in your hand. You'd respond with a little "thank you". I never asked her to do that, she did it all on her own. She also loves to hold you and hug you and snuggle you. You get so much attention from her and your brothers. Nolan will go in your room and sit with you before bed some nights. He loves to play tractors with you and push you around in your cars outside. You and Cody love to cause trouble together and sometimes I will hear you from the other room screaming and laughing together. You love to hide in areas of the house and play together. Seeing you all together gives me a happiness and warmth I have never felt. You all mean so much to me.

You are such a trouble maker, but you are truly my sweet baby boy. You love to be held and I love how much you love us. You are also very crazy about your Pops and Gramz. You aren't a huge fan of going to anyone you're not super familiar with, you know who your people are... but you will wave and say "hi" to everyone. You are my little sidekick for school pick ups and drop offs. You go with the flow. You and I usually go to Target once a week together while your siblings are all in school and we cruise the aisles together and you talk to me about what you see. You are so cute and I really cannot get enough of you, Spence. I am so happy you are my baby. 

I don't know how my baby is getting so big, so fast. I can't believe you are 3 months away from being 2 years old. Ugh, it breaks my heart that time is going so quickly. You are so much fun to watch and experience and our whole family is so smitten over you. 

I hope you always know how much you are loved. You are such a sweet little boy and watching you grow is one of my life's biggest blessings. 

I love you forever, sweet Spence!

Love,

Mama

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sibling Bonds

{popsicles in January... why not?}

Yesterday, as I was cleaning up the garage, I saw Cody fell on his scooter in our side yard. I waited a second to react to see if he was really hurt, and he started to cry. As I was about to start walking over to him to make sure he was okay, Andie zoomed by me on her hoverboard in his direction. Nolan was coming from a different direction and both of them were asking "are you okay, Cody?". As Andie approached him, she bent down (still on her hoverboard) and said "where does it hurt, let me kiss it." Nolan told him "it's okay, buddy." 

I stood and watched them and felt so much joy. They fight, they bicker, they say mean things to each other... but they really love and care for each other. I want so badly to foster a loving friendship between these kids. They are very lucky to have one another. I am not sure how to help build a foundation of love between them, but whenever I see an opportunity to let them be there for each other, I follow through with it. 

I never went to check on Cody, I knew he was okay. The 3 of them started riding their scooters together. I called Andie and Nolan both out for what they did. I told them how proud I was of them for looking out for Cody and making sure he was okay. When I put them to bed last night, I told them again how great I thought it was that they did that for him. 

I know this seems so little and insignificant - their love is given so freely - but it meant something to me. It's important for me to recognize these moments and focus on them. They happen every day - but some stick out to me more than others. One of my biggest desires is that these guys grow up tied to each other. As their mama, I can't force it, but I can encourage it starting at their young ages.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

My motherhood 'To-Do List'

I realize that motherhood can't simply be explained in a to-do list. So much of motherhood is based off of emotion, reaction, gut, and spirit. 

I know myself well enough to know that I am motivated by lists. I like to be able to physically see what I can get done to be more productive in a day. I like being able to see what is on tap for the day and make things happen. It makes me feel good when something is completed. 

Motherhood, of course, is different. But I do feel like there are certain things that I try to do everyday because some habits are good for the soul. It also helps me stay centered when things get off balance. I have a bit of a mental to-do list that I try to remember daily with my kids. These aren't actually tasks, they're mental reminders of connection with my kids and separation from outside noise. These are also not always 'checked off', but I do try to focus on these connections whenever I can. 

If I had a motherhood to-do list, it would look like this:

+ good mornings are important, it most certainly can help set the tone for a day. A warm greeting, rub on the back, or big hug for each child. I also sometimes ask how they slept or if they had any good dreams. Usually not much comes from that, but occasionally I hear about a remembered dream. It takes seconds, but they need to know I am grateful for their existence and a warm embrace helps elevate my mood, too. I try to do this for everyone regardless of the night or morning I am having. 

+ good nights are just as important as good mornings. The day could have been a complete crap show... but if I try to regain a connection -no matter how exhausted I am - in the last 10 minutes before they're asleep, I feel like at least they have something positive for the day. We always tuck our kiddos in with a hug and kiss. I also try to revisit something positive from the day to remind them of so they go to bed with those thoughts. Of course, every goodnight is a little different and there are days where my tank is too empty to muster up the conversation, but I always keep these thoughts in my mind. 

+ I read somewhere a long time ago that children should receive affection at least 7 times a day.  I have no idea how or what doctor came up with this random number, but it resonated with me because it makes sense in my mommy brain. Security and love is something we all want and for a child I could see how it boosts confidence and overall mood. Usually, this isn't something I have to think about - we are an affectionate family and hugs are given quite freely between everyone. But when the days are busy and full, this can be a bit harder to do. This is an area where we also rely on community - prior to the pandemic, my kiddos could hug their teachers, friends, and extended family. I also feel that when I am upset with my kid for something, a few moments to regroup and a hug can help calm us both. I don't sit around and count how many times I have hugged my kid - but if I feel like I haven't made a connection with them all day, I try to be purposeful to give them a hug or kiss.

+ Have a conversation with eye contact. This one seems obvious, but I was surprised when I realized how often I am doing something else when I am talking to my kids. Cutting food, rushing around to get somewhere, folding laundry, cleaning their room... multitasking is such a huge part of parenting, so I try to make sure I connect to my kids with eye contact. I am obviously not a doctor, but I do know that when I am talking to a friend, if they are looking at me I feel like they care more about me and what I am saying. I want my kids to feel that, too, even if the conversation is about a monster truck that transforms into a strange looking robot. The little things will become the big things someday. Of course not every coversation has eye contact... but I try to make that connection at some point every day - even with my babies and their babbling.

+ Focus on the few minutes before any goodbye. Along with a good morning, I personally feel that a rushed, chaotic, short tempered, or angry 'good bye' is detrimental. I try to use the drive to school to positively energize us all. Talk about good things or sing and dance. Obviously, this is not always attainable, but it's worth the conscious effort. I feel that a child being dropped off a few minutes late to avoid the chaos is better than them being on time with a flustered and overwhelming goodbye. The minutes leading up to any goodbye are always important. I always tell them I love them.

Like I said, motherhood is obviously so much more than checking off a to-do list. But I have learned if I can try to remember these 5 mental things and a few other things, it makes me feel like we have happier and smoother days. It's for me as much as it is for my kids. These are less of a checklist and more of a habit as time goes on - and unlike my daily to-do list, I don't write them down. 

Motherhood is truly so complex, but at the core of it all, I want my kids to feel my love for them.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

A Reflection of 2020

 2020 reflection. I answered these questions back in 2013 and I love to look back and think about where a year takes us.

1. What was the single best thing that happened this year?
The relationship between my 4 kids grew stronger. My husband earned a well-deserved promotion. I realize that's not a single thing. Their relationship with each other will always be number one... but his promotion was an exciting number two.

2.  What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Feeling helpless - for my husband at times... and helpless for the world in a time of sadness and unrest. 

3.  What was an unexpected joy this year?
I grew closer to friends who have become a big support system for me and we found laughter and joy and acceptance in each other. 
And, with the pandemic, being forced to be at home more than usual brought us more joy than I anticipated. I became overwhelmed with gratitude for my kids and their joy found in the walls of our home. 

4.  What was an unexpected obstacle?
A pandemic. 

5.  Pick 3 words to describe 2020.
Turbulent. Growth. Home. 

6.  Pick 3 words your spouse would use to describe your 2020 (don't ask them, guess based on how you think your spouse sees you)
Homebound. Mom. Crazy.

7.  Pick 3 words your spouse would use to describe 2020 (again with out asking).
Dad. Work. Home. 

8.  What were the best books you read this year?
Children's Books are about the extent of my book reading. That needs to change. Someday. 

9.  With whom were your most valuable relationships?
My relationship with my husband is the most important one in my life and we continued to grow closer this year. The last few years have brought us profound growth and in times that could have pulled us apart, we worked to get stronger instead, which is something I am very proud of. What we have is sacred and private to us.
My mom and dad hold a very special place in my life and heart. They have become just as important to my children and I am so grateful to have them in our lives. The value of our relationship is in the dedication and love they have for me and my family. They are always there to support, encourage, teach, and inspire us. Their love is unconditional and I will make sure my kids always recognize the blessing in their bond with them. 
My sisters. Both of them mean something different to me and now that I have my own kids, I understand why my parents always wanted to nurture the bond between us. It's an unconditional friendship, an alliance, and having them to laugh with and talk to about the silly and the serious parts of life is a gift.
My friends. Those friends. You know, the ones that have you laughing in a group text, the ones that don't judge, and the ones that really get you. I am very lucky to have a group of gals who have loved me through my unlovable times this year as we all managed twists and turns in a pandemic. We developed a trust in each other that has helped carry us through the difficulties of raising young kids in an isolating time. 

10.  What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
My biggest personal change was a newfound confidence of being able to handle it. We can do hard things... I have said that over and over to my kids and myself this year. A lot of stuff happened that was out of our control and all we could do was focus on what we could control and make the best of that. 

11.  In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? 
I am becoming more aware of the fact that it's okay to be emotional. It's okay to feel. I am learning to allow myself to recognize and value the growth that comes from feelings and emotions.

12.  In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
I am always open to spiritual growth, especially when it comes to growing that deeper connection to my kids and spouse.

13.  In what way(s) did you grow physically?  
I am physically stronger. I was able to selfishly reclaim my body that has been growing and feeding children non-stop for the past 8 years and rekindle my love of distance running. After several hundreds of miles (mostly on a treadmill) I feel more connected to my body. I also went through another surgery in early December that knocked me on my booty. I was forced to rest. There's growth in that, too. 

14.  In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
I am learning to be more vocal and honest about what works and what doesn't - this may be an area of growth that is the largest of 2020 for me. Sometimes a relationship can cause more harm than good and you have to learn to set boundaries. 2020 taught me that boundaries aren't always a bad thing, and it is okay to have them. 

15.  What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home?
Being home with my kids. Feeling gratitude that I get to be here to kiss their owies, hug them if they're sad, watch their chubby cheeks bounce when they run, see the tender moments between them, watch them laugh and play together, watch them build forts and have sleepovers all over the house. I GET to bathe them, tuck them in at night, snuggle with them every morning in my bed, hear about the details of their day, brush their teeth, memorize their voice, take their photos, hold their hands, watch them try new things, hear their footsteps running up and down the hallway, and enjoy life with them and their daddy. It's not always as satisfying and immediately rewarding as a job outside of the home... but I am grateful for the stay at home life that I have been lucky to have for this window of precious time when my children are little. I miss working, but when the time is right, I will work hard to get back in to wherever my path takes me. 

16.  What was your most challenging area of home management?
The constant need to feel like things have to be cleaned up. I feel scattered and uneasy when the house is cluttered and messy and the pressure I put on myself to clean up most nights can be overwhelming. Organizing growing kid's clothes, keeping up with the laundry, keeping the closets and bedrooms picked up, the kitchen clean, the playroom shelves in order, and the normal everyday cleaning... having all of this stuff done helps to keep my balance but it also takes a lot of effort. 

17.  What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Social media. Hands down, no question. Clicking through posts to see people fighting with each other about politics and the pandemic - it all was draining and sad to me. I chose to delete it for the month of December and I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. Stepping back and setting down my phone has made me feel better. Boundaries are good and less time on my phone is even better. It's okay to not always be in the know. It's also okay to not feel the need to share every photo. 

18.  What was the best way you used your time this year?
Any time spent with my babies, family, and friends is the best time. It was devastating to see the world pause and people lose everything - and we felt grateful that we were able to use the time to be together and stay home. My husband never stopped working, in fact, he was at work more with everything going on... so we learned to slow down and enjoy the extra time we were given with the kids being home. We saw the positives, but we are also excited for them to experience the gifts of childhood (full-time school, sports, large playdates, birthday parties, etc) again soon.

19.  What was the biggest thing you learned this year?
Life is fragile, inconsistent, and always changing, but I already knew that. Direct your efforts and love toward the people who see your value and prioritize you, too. Communication and boundaries are essential in our relationships.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2020 for you.
Accept what you cannot control and make the best of what you can control. 

Lastly... something I want to work on for 2021...
Stop feeling the need to explain myself to everyone. If things are too heavy, ask for help or let them go.