James at 18 months

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18 months young.

Our boy is walking, running, jumping and CLIMBING like a maniac. The other day I found him standing on the kitchen table jumping up and down. Always with this grin.

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The current phase is beating the crap out of his sister and sometimes, out of me. He has discovered hitting and he uses it whenever something is taken away from him, or when he’s tired. So basically he is hitting 80% of the time. The other day at the playground another mother said “he is just so cute!” just as he started trying to climb up another boy. I picked him up and he slapped me in the face. So cute!

Despite this new fun phase, James is a snuggler, and when he’s being nice, he loves his sister to death. Often giving kisses and hugs. I think they are kisses and hugs; they are definitely more aggressive than one would imagine hugs and kisses should be, but they usually don’t end in tears so, yay!

He likes other kids and especially, older girls. Whenever we are out somewhere where there are other kids, he beelines for the girls who look to be about Reese’s age and either hugs them, or holds his arms up to them, asking to be picked up.

He is a sleepaholic. He still takes two, two-hour naps a day. He goes to bed between 6:30 and 7 and he usually wakes around 9. He has slept till 10:30 AM on more than one occasion. Please stay this way forever.

He is still big and beautiful. A big, beautiful beefcake with the most adorable curls. He literally has ringlets in the back of his head and I won’t get his hair cut because I’m afraid they will cut off the curls and his hair will grow back straight.

He likes most foods but favorites are graham crackers (when he sees the brown packaging he starts hyperventilating), corn, bananas, applesauce, Kix, pizza, chicken parm and sweet potatoes.

Jamers is ALL boy. He loves running and jumping and throwing and crashing stuff together. Trucks are his favorite, particularly tractors.

He has a few words, definitely not as many as Reese had at this age but he babbles all day long. He says, “tractor”, “car”, “mama”, “dada”, and “dirty.” All with a Boston accent, “tracktah!”IMG_4122IMG_3196IMG_4138

Bedtime is my favorite part of the day with James. After stories and some milk he puts his head on my shoulder and lets me rock him to sleep. This is something Reese never let me do, she was always trying to wriggle out of my arms. When we’re done rocking, he allows himself to be put down awake and sometimes sits up in the crib to wave goodbye to me. And everytime he does it, I just die.

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Transitions

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I love big families. My sisters are my best friends. I want my kids to have the experiences I had growing up. Sharing bedrooms, road tripping  jam-packed in the back of a station wagon, always having a playmate, etc.

Before I had James, a friend told me that they had heard that the transition from 1 to 2 kids was more of a life changer than then the transition from 0 to 1 kid. At the time, this seemed impossible to me. When you have your first kid, it is no longer just you, and it never will be again. Now there is this little person who feels like they are literally a part of you. What bigger change is there than this?

Then came James. Then there were two little people who depended on me for absolutely everything. It felt like someone needed something ever single minute of the day. And night. And that’s because they did.

When one finally fell asleep the other would wake up. When one had a great night and slept till 8 AM the other would be up at 4. There was no “sleeping when the baby sleeps” this time around.

Instead of peacefully nursing my baby to sleep in a rocker, I was nursing him to sleep while making a sandwich for the other kid and shoving cold spaghetti into my own mouth. The ratio of kids to adults was equal, but somehow Andrew and I still felt outnumbered.

Others have told me that the third kid is really no biggie. They have actually said this. People who have told me this are in agreement that the second kid can be a total shocker, but claimed that once the third comes it doesn’t really change much. Just another body. I can’t fathom this, I mean, when the third kid comes the mom and dad actually are outnumbered. The mom can grab one kid and the dad can grab another, but will the third run away and be lost forever?

So at this moment, I do feel like the transition from 1 to 2 kids was much greater than from 0 to 1 kid. Out first few months with James, I have deemed the “holy shit months.” Nothing could have prepared us for that. And I say that honestly, but with love. We were overwhelmed, tired, and a little scared.

But then he started sleeping, and he and Reese started interacting and playing together. They could actually entertain each other for a few minutes. Reese could occupy James at an age when I had never been able to keep Reese occupied long enough to do the dishes, or go to the bathroom.

So it is different this time around, but just like with a first baby, it has been more wonderful than anything else. Completely different, but still wonderful.

 

Princess Diaries

It is full-fledged princes mania around here these days, much to my chagrin.

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When I was pregnant with Reese we wanted the gender to be kept a surprise. We got all neutral clothes, toys, gear etc. As a baby and a toddler I made the effort to avoid the all pink princess everything. We painted her room a light gray, we got her toy trucks and dolls, and I rarely bought her pink, frilly clothes.

Now, at three years old, she asks to wear a dress every day, to have her nails painted and have “red lips”, and wants to know why she can’t wear her “jewels” to bed. I don’t even know where these things came from. Red lips and jewels? I never imagined that I would end up with such a girly girl, but here we are.

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I think there was a princess birthday party somewhere along the way that got the ball rolling, then we got a few princess gifts, she started noticing the little girls in Elsa costumes at the grocery store, etc. Then she discovered the Disney princesses and there was no turning back.

I still do my best to keep it to a minimum but I am not above buying a nine dollar coloring book featuring all the Disney princesses (Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose/Aurora, Jasmine, Tiana (?), and I’m sure I missed a few others) because I knew when Reese saw it she would totally lose her shit. And she did.

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What is my problem with pink, flowery, princessy, girly stuff? I have no real vendetta against it, I just worry sometimes about the message it may send, but if my daughter loves it then I am over it. Especially since most of the princess stuff out now is much more girl empowering, and much less beauty oriented than it used to be. But, the emphasis on looks is still there and the underlined theme that beauty is equivalent with goodness is not lost on my three-year old. So yes, when my daughter is brought tears when I ask her to wear pants, and cries “but I won’t be pretty!” I take pause. And I blame Tiana and her band of bejeweled skinnies in gowns. But really, she will see this everywhere in a few years, except worse, she will see it in real life and not in fairy tales. And she may even see some of it from her own mother (eeek) because I too am guilty of reading the first ten pages of the Brazilian Bikini Diet book so I can look just like Giselle.

I am probably just overthinking this whole thing, and when this phase is over and she is asking me to buy her clothes at Justice I will be wondering what I was complaining about.

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Talking Back

Reese <eyeing James while we are in the kitchen>: Let’s go to my room and lock the door.


Reese: <before going down for rest time>: Let’s read “The Monster at the End of This Book.

Me: Ok.

Reese: Actually, let’s read “The Frog Prince” because its longer and I don’t want to be locked in here with no books.


Reese: I’m princess Aurora and I don’t have milk in my breasts anymore.

James Eli At One Year

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The slowest yet the fastest, the most challenging and the most life-changing year of my life. All at the same time.

I spent a lot of James’s first few months wishing that he was just a little bit older. Just a few more weeks and he won’t be nursing every three hours. Just a few more weeks and he will be sleeping for longer stretches, and so will I. Just a few more weeks and he will be eating solids and maybe sleeping more. Just a few more weeks and I can set him down and he’ll be able to sit up on his own. Just a few more weeks and he’ll be sleeping more….. This all sounds familiar. Have I said this before?

Since day one, James has been a joy when he is awake. Easy going, adaptable, smiley. Sleeping has been a struggle and he is just now (like literally days ago) sleeping through the night. The sleep deprivation that I always pictured coming with motherhood came. And everything seemed harder.

And now he’s one year old and it won’t slow down. Tomorrow he will be asking for the car keys.

At his one year appointment he weighted in at 21.64 lbs, the 59th percentile, and measured 28.5, the 24th percentile. So he is definitely one of us.

James is a tough guy. He’s Jimmy Mac and he lives in the red house on the cah-nah (corner.) He doesn’t take shit from anyone. Including his sister. Ya heard?

He gets dragged to a lot of Reese’s older kid activities (it doesn’t end here James, take it from someone with 2 older siblings) but he doesn’t seem to know he’s the youngest one there and he will grab that train from the 4 year old like it’s no thing. Gangster.

He eats all of everything. Chicken parm is his favorite, and he prefers it with a side of pasta. Heavy on the sauce.

He loves to look out the window and watch the cars. If he hears a honk, he will immediately point to the window, demanding to be brought over and see what the fuss is about. On most days, when he wakes up from an afternoon nap, about 4:00 or so, we stand in the kitchen, moving from window to window until he’s seen it all.

His favorite thing to do is walk with his cart. He looks like a mad grocery shopper. He goes back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room, pausing only in the doorway, where he yells until someone comes and helps him over the little bump that separates the rooms. Reese relishes in this task and races over to him yelling (way too loudly) “I’m comin’ James!”

He crawls (a combo of an army crawl and a normal crawl on all 4s) at the speed of light. Any time a door opens, he bolts towards it, and sometimes I can barely stop him in time.

His life goal right now is to climb the stairs freestyle.

He says “dada” and “touch” and something that sounds like “this and that” but we aren’t sure.

Since Andrew and I went on vacation he has stopped nursing, and also started sleeping through the night.

His sister is the love of his life, but he is also very aware that she is the taker of toys and someone who needs to be dealt with with caution. Smart boy.

He loves banging things together.

He can clap and wave goodbye.

He has 5 teeth and I think he is one of the few men who can pull off buck teeth.

He is handsome as ever. I am his mom so I know I’m biased, but come on.

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5 Days Away

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Andrew and I went away, by ourselves, for five whole days.

In January, we found out that Andrew won a trip to Cancun for him and a guest through his work. It could not have come at a better time for us. I felt like I hadn’t slept in a year, and the minute I heard the word “vacation” I imagined a full 4 nights of glorious, uninterrupted sleep, that did not include a three-year old plastered to my back (sorry girl.)

For the kids, however, it probably could not have come at a worse time.

James was still nursing and still not sleeping through the night, and I had never been away from either of them for more than 1 night.

Our parents volunteered to stay at our house while we were gone and the kids were thrilled about this, which made it a little easier to leave.

I pumped breast milk to leave for James and started introducing cow’s milk in the hopes that he wouldn’t mind not nursing while we were gone. He didn’t (at least that’s what they tell me) and I have now returned to a child who is 100% weaned. So that’s my advice for weaning your child; go away on vacation for a week and leave some other poor soul to handle it. Because that is basically what I did.

As stressed as I was about leaving them, when we arrived at the white, sandy beaches of Cancun and I got a mojito in my hand, I forgot I had kids.

Just kidding family!

This was unlike any other vacation I have ever taken. Not just because of where we stayed  (Le  Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun, which was amazing), but because I appreciated literally every single second of it. When we sat on the tarmac for 3 hours (!!) on our way there, I was pretty much ok. I mean, reading my book in peace for three whole hours? That right there is kind of a vacation.

We did everything you can’t do with kids. We sat (like literally sat and did not get up) on the beach all day, slept late, worked out, lounged (once again, without getting up) by the pool, stayed up late, danced, sang karaoke, went on a catamaran, did I mentioned slept?

For me, five days was the perfect amount of time to be away. By the end of the trip I felt like I was aching for that little three-year old to be in bed with me again.

I know not everyone can do this (we normally can’t either) but looking back, it was something we needed. Yes, it seemed like a huge pain to get ready for this, yes, I always feel a little guilty leaving the kids and yes, there were many times during this trip when I thought, “I wish they were here to see this.” But, Andrew and I reconnected in a way that we hadn’t since before we had kids. I hate myself for that cliché sentence right there, I really do, but it’s true. Being able to just hang out together, alone, uninterrupted for an extended period of time is a rarity now a days, and we know this, so everything seemed extra special.

I will say though, that coming home to our babies was one of my favorite parts of this vacation.

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