1

To you, Savs…at 4!

4 years - 3

This is 4! Well, 4 2/3 to be exact. Our lives have been full these past few months and I haven’t had a moment to have a clear thought let alone articulate it.

Savannah, you are an absolute joy to be around. You make us beam with pride on a daily basis by sharing your generous spirit with the world around you. Whether you’re assisting snails along their journey, helping your sister maneuver her latest tricks, or consoling a friend in need your empathy shines true in all that you do.

You have evolved into a long and lean little girl this year. Gone are the baby face, thigh rolls, and poochy belly. They’ve been replaced with legs for days and “Rapunzel hair,” as you like to call it. You are a beautiful little girl inside and out.

You are also articulate, thoughtful, and wise beyond your years. Your memory astounds us – you lessons we’ve taught you or remember events from years ago. You love learning and ask a lot of questions about why the world is the way it is. Fortunately, you take it easy on us as we muddle our way through some of the more difficult topics and seem content to trust that what we tell you is true.

A few months ago you transitioned into the Kinder Prep class at school and you’ve been thriving ever since. You were a little intimidated at first since you were the youngest kid in the group but you had your partners in crime – Jacob and Makenna – by your side and so you settled in quickly. Your handwriting is improving and you’re getting pretty good at sounding words out. Of course, that means you love practicing the alphabet and find reasons to write cards to your family on a daily basis. I am continuously impressed by the curriculum at your school and so thankful we have the means to send you there every day.

You love being a big sister – most of the time. You take great pride in your Belly Baby and love to show her off to your friends. You are usually pretty good at sharing with her but certainly have momentary lapses where you rip something out of her hands or just haul off and hit her for no good reason. For the most part though, you adore Scarlett and she’s very lucky to have you as a role model and friend.

Although you have developed into a little girl in so many ways, I still get daily glimpses of my baby. You still nap for one thing which is a dream come true for this tired mommy! You also love “snuggling” more than anything and will jump at the chance to climb in bed with us before you fall asleep or first thing in the morning.

But most the time, you are all about big kid things. Whether it’s pretending to be a mommy yourself – you’re all about pretend play and your imagination runs wild, or navigating your own iPad, you are in control. You’re pretty self-sufficient and very polite both of which make me quite proud.

You started ballet a couple of months ago and the class has helped you really come out of your shell. You were so shy at first, intimidated by the other kids and insecure because you didn’t know the moves. I even thought you might ask to quit but you didn’t. You stuck it out and we kept going back and now you are obsessed! You are a wonderful listener and follow directions well and of course, you love your teacher.

We talk a lot about bravery and the importance of pushing through fear. You still get shy sometimes but you are trying new things each week and we are so proud of you! You are proud of yourself too which is really what we care about most. Uh…I just love your face!

Nana Bear, I wish I had the words to express how much I adore you. All I can say is that the sight of you makes my heart explode in a million pieces. You are everything I’d hoped my firstborn child would be – kind, empathetic, thoughtful, smart, funny, and of course, very, very brave. You continue to push me to new heights and you remind us how beautiful the world is even when we’re feeling discouraged – which considering it’s an election year, happens a lot nowadays!

Your curiosity is both sweet and inspiring. Your adoration for your friends and family and ability to recognize right from wrong make us proud. And your faith…forget about it. We’ve had to tackle some “big” issues lately and I’ve loved watching how you draw on your faith to pull you through sadness or make sense of the insensible. You are wise beyond your years and teaching us so much every day.

Savi Bear, I frequently refer to you as my kindred spirit. You are my mini-me in many ways – how you look, the way you concentrate deeply when you’re thinking about something, the way you want to help every living creature you come across. We share a deep, deep bond and I love watching you grow each day. You continue to teach me more about myself and push me to the limit of possibility. Thank you for all that you are and all you bring to our family.

You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.

Mommy

4 at a glance

Cool things you’re doing: You are all around one cool little girl. Your imagination is soaring. Your understanding of the world around you and how it works is expanding by the minute. And your interest in taking care of others and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone on target.

Likes: Playing dress up, pretending to be a mommy or a princess, writing cards and drawing pictures, practicing your name, watching shows on your iPad, telling stories, singing and dancing, cooking, and going to school and ballet.

Dislikes: I don’t know when it happened but lately you’ve become quite the picky eater avoiding a lot of the veggies that used to be your favorite. You dislike when your sister torments you or takes your toys. You don’t like being woken up in the morning and you hate having your hair brushed.

Favorite Books: The Book with No Pictures, The Giving Tree, Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You (our special book!), Tickle Monster, The It’s Okay to be Different and the Family Book.

Favorite Songs: You still love Coldplay, you like the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and much to our chagrin, you frequently request “Belly Baby’s songs” which translates to the Barney station on Pandora!

Funny Things You Say: ”That’s ridiculous,” “What the heck???,” “That’s disgusting!”

Our Favorite Things About This Age: Four has been really great. You have matured a lot and it’s like having a little partner in crime by our side rather than a child. You are smart and witty and quite hilarious too. But, I love that even though you’re so grown up you also melt right back into being my baby at every opportunity. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.

Nicknames: Savs, Nana, Nana Bear, Savi, Banana, and of course, Sissy!

Outtakes:

4 Years - 1

 

IMG_0163

Advertisements
0

Dear Scarlett…at 11 months

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear my nearly 1-year-old:

I’m starting to get a little choked up at the thought of your first birthday next month. This year has flown by faster than any other in my life. It’s hard to believe only a year ago we were waiting patiently for your arrival and now you’re about to walk straight into toddlerhood!

Yes, I said walk.

You took your first steps this month. Two little tiny ones that surprised us so much. We just assumed you’d walk sometime after your first birthday like your big sis. Silly us, we should’ve known that like everything else, you had your own timeline in mind. You still aren’t cruising full speed but you love to pop up, take a couple of steps and collapse on your butt in a fit of giggles.

You are also babbling more and more and actually said your first words. You now say “ball” in reference to your favorite toys and the other day in the bathtub you said “mama.” You were upset and trying to get out and you stood up, reached for me and bellowed “mama, mama” at the top of your lungs. For some reason, this caught me in the soft spot of my heart because I teared up a little at the sound of your voice. I just assumed that, like your sis, your first word would be “dada.”

Again, with those assumptions. When will I learn!?

You no longer drink from a bottle at all. You’ve been weaning off the bottle for some time so we finally bit the bullet and moved you over to a sippy cup at school which is working out much better. I’m still pumping at work but plan to stop at your birthday when we introduce cow’s milk. I’ll still nurse you for a few more months when we’re together but I’m definitely ready to get rid of my breast pump forever! And I think you’re ready to try regular milk. You’ve always preferred breastmilk straight from the source and getting you to drink it at school has been an ongoing challenge.

This month has been filled with all sorts of fun. You are so interactive now and definitely filled with personality. You love to steal your sister’s toys and food and she’s constantly panicking because you’ve tipped over her milk or stolen her marker from right under her nose.

You are a rascal, that’s for sure.

You love to eat at Savannah’s table with her so we rarely use the highchair anymore. To that I say, “Good riddance!” – cleaning those things are a pain in the butt! We’ve started locking Lola in the office during mealtimes though because you are terrible about sharing your food with her. You insist on finger foods now and rarely allow us to feed you. We’re officially at the stage where mealtimes are messy no matter what we serve you. I swear you even manage to make a disaster area out of cut up pieces of apple. But you have a ball doing it which is all that matters, I suppose.

You are eating nearly everything except eggs, milk, sugar, nuts, and citrus foods. We’ll start introducing those this month so by your birthday, you’ll be able to really start eating with the rest of us. Savs hates that she can’t share her berries with you and constantly wonders why you can’t have some of her special milk. I just want to get past the stage of worrying about food allergies so fingers crossed all goes well with these new additions.

You are really coming into your own at school. You’ve partnered up with Chloe which is pretty cute considering your big sis and her big brother have been best friends since they were babies too. Like them, you two fight and love each other like siblings. I actually watched as you nudged your way onto the seat she was occupying the other day. She worked to get you to move but you’re a stubborn one and refused to budge. Finally, she just gave up and sat on top of you. Oddly enough, you were both totally content with the resolution. Like Savs and Jacob, you guys will find your groove in time and I know you are going end up best of friends.

You are quite the independent sleeper. Although I enjoy having my personal space again at night it makes me a little sad that you prefer your crib to our bed. Don’t get me wrong, you would stay in our bed all night if I let you. It’s just that when you’re in there you refuse to sleep. You play, wiggle, stand, nurse nonstop, climb on us, punch your father in the nose, giggle, etc. Pretty much anything but sleep soundly.

You still wake throughout the night and most of the time I go in and nurse you for a few minutes and then you go back to sleep in your crib. It’s like you just want a little top off or a snuggle; both of which I can appreciate. Sometimes it gets a little crazy though and you get up every couple of hours like a newborn. Those are the times I let you cry for a bit until you settle yourself down. Right now, I want you to take as much breastmilk as possible so I’m embracing the night feedings but pretty soon little one, I’ll be cutting you off!

You love to dance. Your teachers told me that you hold on to the wall at school and shake your little booty while they sing, “Go Scarlett, Go Scarlett, Go!” After they elaborated a little further I realized that you have become a master twerker. I’m not too sure how excited we are by that news but we do love that since your surgery you are hearing and enjoying music so much.

We dedicated you at church this month and although it wasn’t the private baptism ceremony your sister had, it meant so much to me. For the first time in my adult life, I’ve found a church I feel at home at and I’ve loved seeing how your father and sister have embraced it as well. We shared the morning with just our immediate family and your Gods, of course, and it was the perfect celebration. Even your grammy and bampa came to town for the occasion.

We chose life verses for you and your sister.

For Savannah, we selected Proverbs 31:25:

She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.

And yours is Joshua 1:9:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

That’s you, my girl. Strong, courageous, fearless, and inspired.

You are going to do incredible things with this life. You are going to live it to the fullest. I see that sparkle and yearn for adventure in your little eyes every time I look at you. I pray you always know that God will follow you through your journeys encouraging you and holding you up when the weight of the world gets too heavy for you to bear.

And we’ll be there too. Cheering you on. Lifting you up. And celebrating you for all that you are and all that you will become.

I adore you, my love.

Your mama

11 Months at a Glance

Weight: 20 lbs – 70th percentile

Length: 27.5 inches – 32nd percentile

Cool things You’re Doing: You took your first steps. And you say “mama” and “ball.” You can drink out of an open cup and use a spoon – although you do both clumsily of course. You’ve weaned of the bottle and now drink exclusively from a sippy cup (or open cup depending on how daring we are). You dance and babble and are turning into a toddler before our very eyes.

Likes: You love balls, toys, markers, unpacking and packing purses, containers, or drawers. You love to snuggle and nurse. You find great pleasure in following your sister around and sharing everything with her even when she’s not in the mood.

Dislikes: You dislike getting into your car seat and you hate sitting still for diaper changes.

Nicknames: Scarletto Barbaretto, Letti, Letti Spaghetti, Happy, Monkey, Monk, Monkey Brains, Sissy, and of course, Belly Baby

Outtakes:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

0

Dear Scarlett, at 10 months!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My sweet Scarlett:

You are 10 months old and just the idea of your first birthday makes me break out in a cold sweat and not because I dread the work involved in planning a party. I just can’t believe my last baby is turning into a toddler right before my eyes. These past 10 months with you have been the best of my life and you really have completed our family in a way we never knew we needed.

This was a really big month in your little life. In fact, possibly the biggest one yet. You had your first surgery a couple of weeks ago and you were a trooper. We, on the other hand, were nervous wrecks.

After three ear infections in your short life, your doctor recommended we consult with an ENT about inserting tubes in your ears. Sure enough, one look in those little ears of yours combined with a nearly fail on your auditory test and it was determined that you definitely needed tubes. We booked the surgery for three days later without hesitation. We hated the idea of putting you under anesthesia but the fear of permanent damage to your eardrum was just too much. Not to mention the fact that you’ve been living in so much pain all this time.

All in all, the surgery lasted all of 8 minutes. You came out of recovery fine we were on our way home in short order. The hardest part was changing you into a baby hospital gown and watching as the anesthesiologist took you out of arms. Uh…I pray we never have to live through anything like that again with either of you girls.

Since the surgery, you’ve been doing great. We’re suddenly realizing you probably haven’t been hearing well for months which is why you were slow to babble. Since then, you’ve been talking up a storm!

Despite any pain you were in, you’ve remained our happy girl. You love to smile and laugh, especially at your sister. She just cracks you up when she talks to you in her secret language or plays peek a boo with you. There’s no doubt you two will be best friends in no time but the love/hate relationship that only sisters have is starting to rear its ugly head.

You drive her crazy sometimes!

You steal her food, take her toys, rip the pages from her books, make noise when she’s watching her shows….the list goes on and on. She even accused you of pushing her off the bed and giving her a black eye the other day. Who knew you had super strength!?

But, despite it all, she adores you like no other. She loves to kiss you, hug you, bathe you, and teach you new things. You guys are pretty damn cute together and nothing brings a smile to our faces more than watching you interact.

You are a mover and shaker and I’m pretty sure you can crawl faster than I can run. You love to explore new spaces and have a way of finding even the smallest crumb on the floor and sticking it in your mouth. You are more adventurous than you sister who was a fairly cautious baby and we’ve realized we have to step up our babyproofing game with you! I think you’ll be walking soon but I’m in no rush to see you make that leap. But, that’s just me being a selfish mommy who wants to hold onto her baby for as long as possible.

You continue to love school and you’re starting to really bond with some of the other babies. Your best friends to date are Chloe of course but also Declan and Ahana. There’s a new, younger baby in your class and you love to kiss her and practice your “gentle touch” as you get to know her better.

You’ve been on a complete bottle strike for a while now and your poor teachers have been forced to get very creative in your breastmilk consumption. They mix it with your food, pour it over your snacks and dip your crackers just to get you to consume what I send each day. You still love to nurse like no other but have decided that bottles/sippy cups of milk are not going to cut it. I’m hopeful that we’ll get to 12 months before you wean during the day completely and intend to continue breastfeeding you to 15 months like I did with Savs – if you’ll let me. We’ll see how it goes.

Now that you can hear – seriously, thank God for the tubes! – we’ve discovered how much you love music, musical toys, and the sound of your own voice! While the additional commotion drives me to insanity at times I absolutely love seeing your speech develop and can’t wait to hear what your first “real” word is going to be!

You have been a teething machine. In fact, I’m pretty sure you popped your four top teeth in the matter of one weekend. Your tooth count is now at six and from the way you’ve been gnawing on your hands I expect a couple more to come through any day now.

You continue to be a complete and total lover and you enjoy nothing more than snuggling up with one of us. You rest your little head on our chests and your breath immediately deepens. You have one of the sweetest dispositions and I feel so blessed that – for the most part – you take it pretty easy on us.

Thank you for your giggles, your charm, and your playful disposition. We adore everything about you and despite the ache in my heart, I really am getting excited to celebrate sweet one-year-old you!

Love,

Your mama

10 Months at a Glance

Weight: 20 lbs – 70th percentile

Length: 27.5 inches – 32nd percentile

Cool things You’re Doing: You are standing on your own. You eat pretty much everything. You drink out of an open cup and straw cups and try to feed yourself with a spoon. You play peek a boo, clap for yourself, dance, laugh hysterically, and love to play ball. And you babble nonstop.

Likes: You’re all about the balls and love to play catch, pass balls back and forth or roll them around. You love Savannah and Lola and pester them both equally. You’re a snuggle bug and love to rest your head on our chest when we hold you. You’ve also been a daddy’s girl lately and no one quite compares to him in your eyes.

Dislikes: You hate taking bottles now and we’ve pretty much given up trying. Your separation anxiety is in full effect right now as well.

Nicknames: Scarletto Barbaretto, Letti, Letti Spaghetti, Happy, Monkey, Monk, Monkey Brains, Sissy, and of course, Belly Baby

Outtakes:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3

Dear Scarlett…at 8 months!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sweet, Sweet, Scarlett:

We call you HAPPY.

Because you are. Nearly all the time.

Except when you’re hungry or tired, of course. Or sick or teething. But come on…even the easiest of babies have their moments!

You are growing into such a fun little cherub and this month brought tons of new developments. In fact, over the course of one weekend you cut two teeth, started crawling and even began pulling yourself into a standing position. You were on the verge of it all for so long and it’s as if you just woke up one morning and said, “Today is the day!”

So now that you’re on the move I’m realizing that pretty much everything Savannah plays with is a death trap! It seems like all her toys are itty bitty which presents a whole new challenge because I can’t exactly get rid of her stuff. That kid has the memory of an elephant and will know if something goes astray. So far, we’ve been doing a lot of educating and explaining what and where she can play with certain things – i.e. legos must stay high up and out of reach! It’s working for now but we’re definitely going to have to come up with a more permanent solution.

You are also an independent bird and I can already see that you like exploring new things. With Savs, we barely baby-proofed the house. Sure, there was a gate at the top of the stairs but we only put child locks on the cabinet under the kitchen sink with the cleaning products. Otherwise, she had free reign to move about as she pleased. It just wasn’t her thing to stray far from us or to snoop around where she didn’t belong. You, on the other hand, seem to be much more curious and definitely more adventurous so we’ll have to step up our game now that you’re mobile.

You play by yourself better than I ever could’ve dreamed. In fact, as long as you have a variety of toys to keep you occupied, you sit on your mat while we work out every morning and barely make a peep. You do the same while we get ready in the bathroom. You crawl around, laugh at your sister and mess with Lola and it’s only right before we pack up to leave that you start to get antsy. You actually entertain yourself (and Savannah) so well that there are days where I think having the two of you is easier than it was just having Savs at your age.

And she was an amazing baby!

Your sleep is going pretty well despite a weekend in a different time zone and a month of conquering milestones. We’re now in a really nice routine where you go to bed in your crib unassisted every night around 8 and then come into our bed when you wake up – usually around midnight. We still get an evening to hang with your sis or do our own thing but we also get half the night to snuggle with you. So far, it’s working out like a dream and I hope this makes it for a fairly painless experience when we transition you into your own room full time.

You dove head first into solids and haven’t looked back since. In fact, I don’t think you’ve met a taste you haven’t liked yet! We haven’t noticed any allergic reactions to all these new flavors except a weird contact reaction to dairy which I’ll have to ask your doctor about next month. You started on finger foods now and are pretty much trying everything on the menu at school. We’re still nursing full time and I haven’t noticed any dip in my supply despite your hankering for solid food. I think cosleeping has a lot to do with it because while you are hit and miss with your bottles during the day you more than make up for it by nursing at night.

My goal is to nurse until you’re 15 months old which is the same length of time I went with your sister. It’ll get us through our trip to Costa Rica in January and give me enough time to wean you slowly. To be honest, while there are times I miss having my body all to myself and would really like to overindulge in caffeine or the occasional cocktail (or three), I absolutely love breastfeeding. I wouldn’t mind burning the breast pump of course, and might just do so when we’re all set and done. But the actual act of nursing you is such a gift and one that I do not take for granted!

You have two little teeth on the bottom and they are the cutest things I ever did see. Teething is always a bit of a drag but you’ve handled it like a champ so far and when you really seem to struggle we give you a dose of Camilia which seems to take the edge off. You love chewing on anything you can get your hands on and pretty much every toy goes straight into your mouth!

You and your big sis continue to adore each other. You light up when she walks in the room and the first person she greets in the morning is you – with a big hug and a kiss I might add. She’s taking such an active role in teaching you new things and does her best to encourage you along the way. In fact, I asked her to show you how to crawl one day a while back and next thing I knew she was declaring, “She just doesn’t get it!” as she was dragging you across the room by your arms. She forgets how much bigger than you she is sometimes and would literally, smother you with her love if we let her! I suppose it’s a pretty awesome problem to have so I’m not complaining one bit.

Now that you’ve taken such an interest in toys we’ve encountered the dreaded “sharing problem” which seems to happen with all siblings – or so I’ve heard. It’s actually strange and bizarre because Savannah has never been competitive or possessive with you but for some reason, she absolutely must have any toy you are playing with – even a silly rattle or teething ring. We’ve finally started threatening to take her toys away every time she takes one of yours which helps a little. Still, she always claims she’s “playing with you” as a way of justifying her actions. She’s a total stinker and for now you don’t seem to mind. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before you start fighting back and then we’re in trouble!

You still love school and seem to be building deeper and deeper bonds with your teachers and classmates. The ball pit remains your favorite spot in the room although I think it’s quickly being replaced with the dining room! Drop off and pick up have become such special traditions for us and I’m always excited to hear how your day went or what new obstacle you overcame while we were at work!

You’ve started taking baths with your sister which is the cutest thing in the world. She loves helping to bathe you and even shares her bath toys with you – most of the time! You are also a cuddle monster and your favorite place in nestled in our arms or right between us in bed. Don’t tell anyone but it’s my favorite place too!

8 Months at a Glance

Weight: 19 lbs 6 ozs – 75th percentile

Length – 28 1/4 inches – 90th percentile

Cool Things You’re Doing: You play really well independently but also love to interact with other children – especially your big sis. You crawl, stand, SLEEP, and babble. You’re just all around as awesome as it gets!

Likes: You love your toys and you love being outdoors. You’re starting to reach for mommy sometimes when other people hold you so I’m guessing that right now, you’re a mommy’s girl. You like to snuggle and knead your feet into our legs while you sleep.

Dislikes: You don’t like being hungry, wet or soiled. I mean, you are a baby after all! You hate getting into your car seat but once you’re there you’re usually content for the car ride. You don’t like when you’re left alone in a room and lately you’ve been quite the wiggle worm, getting irritated when we change your diaper or dress you.

Although it kills me that time is flying by so fast, we are having more and more fun with you with each passing day. You make us all so unbelievably happy and we constantly thank God for your incredible life!

Loving you always,

Your mama

Outtakes:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

0

Dear Scarlett, at 7 months

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My dearest Belly Baby:

You turned 7 months old and I’m not sure where the time has gone. I still roll over in bed and expect to feel the weight of my nine month pregnant belly shift with me but instead I open my eyes and there you are, lying there next to me like an angel.

This month has been all about the milestones.

You’ve been sitting for a while now but somewhere along the way you completely mastered it. Now you only topple over when Savs or Lola rush by or knock you over (accidentally, of course). When that happens, you just laugh. In fact, you laugh over everything. You are the happiest, laughing baby I ever did see which is quite remarkable since your sister always seemed to have a smile on her face too.

You lean forward from a cross legged position so your belly is practically flat against the floor. You do this mainly when you’re trying to grab a toy that’s just out of reach but it’s the first step to crawling. Once you learn how to kick your legs back I think you’ll be in business. You also roll all over now and you’re getting much more tolerant of tummy time although it’s still not your favorite position.

You started eating solids! We held out until six months and you were chomping at that bit by the time we started. It took your body a little while to adjust to something other than breastmilk but we took it super slow and you don’t seem to have any allergies or intolerances yet. You love everything we’ve tried although it took you a couple of rounds with the peas before you’d commit. Now you just go to town!

You are a chatterbox and you sit and talk to anyone or anything that will listen for hours on end. Some of your most captive audience members are: the couch, your toys, Lola, Savs, and the pictures on the wall. It’ll be so much fun when you start really talking. I can’t wait to see how you and your sister communicate and I can already picture myself hiding outside the door and eavesdropping on your little conversations while you play.

You have settled into your routine at school and bonded well with your teachers. You’re no longer the new kid on the block – a baby just a couple of months younger than you started this week! You love your ball pit and your friends – especially the older toddler boys who love to give you kisses. You are an attention hound and I fear you are going to my trouble girl when it comes to dating!

We are in a pretty good sleep stage right now. You go to bed in your crib around 8:00 every night. Some nights are easier than others and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t still see some tears on a regular basis. But you sleep for a good 2-3 hours in there by yourself. Sound as a pound. This has freed me up to have a little time to do crazy things at night like: take care of myself and have a conversation with your daddy! When you wake up sometimes you fall back asleep and I leave you in your room but a lot of times I jump at the chance to rescue you from the big, bad crib and bring you into bed with me. From there, you cosleep the rest of the night and it’s absolute bliss. Everyone wins!

I think you are getting a really great sense of your surroundings and you seem to like what you see. Your little personality is developing and if I had to guess, I’d say you’re going to be our risk-taking, party animal. The kind of girl who can just as easily spend a lazy day at the beach with her girlfriends or jump out of an airplane with a bunch of dudes. You seem cool, confident, and fun loving.

Whatever the case, I just want you to be happy. Be a good person. Take care of your people. Be open minded and willing to try new things, make new friends, and experience the world beyond Orange County. We will do our very best to create an environment that allows you to soar. We will fight the urge to keep your training wheels on forever and remember that at some point, you need to make mistakes in order to grow.

But not today! Today, you are my babycakes! My honey bee and my little monkey! You bring great joy to our household and a warmth to my bosom that I missed since weening your sis.

I love you madly. Like a crazy woman sometimes!

Love,

Your mama

7 Months at a Glance

Weight: 18 lbs 5 ozs – 75th percentile

Length – 27 ½ inches – 90th percentile

Cool Things You’re Doing: You laugh all the time and you love to chatter away. You are obsessed with your toys and your sister. You sit and play by yourself for extended periods of time and seem totally content to occupy yourself – up to a point!

Likes: TOYS! You love them. Rattles, balls, moving toys, blocks, etc. You’re definitely a Mommy’s Girl still but that’s no surprise since I have the tatas! You love the outdoors, water, and anything associated with your big sis!

Dislikes: Being left alone. Being hungry. Car rides that last a little too long. Waking up alone.

Nicknames: Scarletto, Scarletto Barbaretto, Monk, Monkey, Letti, Letti Lou, Happy, Sissy, but Belly Baby is still the front runner!

Outtakes:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1

Dear Scarlett, at 6 months

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My darling Belly Baby,

We celebrated your half birthday a week ago and I was reminded at how fast time is flying by. We have witnessed some tremendous growth in just the past month and I feel like you transitioned from an infant to a baby right in front of my eyes. One of my favorite ages is six months to a year so I’m pretty excited for all that’s in store for us this summer!

You have become quite skilled at sitting. In just a week’s time you went from toppling over like one of those toy punching bags every time we sat you up to sitting for extended periods like you’ve been doing it forever. Now you even crouch forward to grab your toys that are out of reach and can pull yourself back up with no problem at all. We still put you in the Bumbo sometimes but I’m pretty sure we’ll be retiring that piece of gear in the near future.

And you started solids right at six months. I was a little ambitious and dove straight into a banana entree followed by sweet potatoes a few days later. Your doctor had me back up though and now we’re doing oatmeal for a couple of weeks to give you a chance to adjust to this new way of life. You’re battling an ear infection and I can’t tell if your diaper rash is a side effect of the antibiotics or a reaction to the new foods we’ve been trying but we’re taking it slow until your bunnies start to heal. You love you cereal though and would eat a giant bowl if we let you so we’re all practicing a little portion control at the moment. I have learned that I should be prepared to nurse shortly after you finish eating because you scream your head off as if you’ve just finished your last meal in this lifetime. Like your sister, so far you are an excellent eater!

At your six month check-up the doctor was reviewing all of your developmental milestones and noting that you are right on track for your age. She then explained that you should recognize your name by now and so she tested it by calling out to you. Your reaction was lackluster at which point I realized that no one actually calls you Scarlett. I explained that you are better known as “Belly Baby” and sure enough when she tried again, you spun your head around and gave her the biggest gummy grin. We both got a good laugh out of that one.

The sun rises and sets on your sister. You are so in love with her and I can only hope that adoration continues as your relationship develops. Now that you’re becoming more interactive she loves to play with you and share your toys although we often have to explain that exchanging a teething ring for a crayon or some other dangerous choking hazard of a toy doesn’t quite work at this age.

And the feeling is mutual. The other day, I caught her sneaking out of bed to check on you while you were crying in your crib. She was so concerned that I had a hard time really disciplining her. I think she’s always going to be your protector and I can see already that she would do absolutely anything to make you happy.

We are right in the middle of what I’ve been told is the ideal time to sleep train you yet I’m still so resistant to the idea. I know I’m developing a crutch by nursing you until you fall asleep and continuing to nurse you on demand All. Night. Long. but I just can’t help myself. You start the night out in your crib which is more than your sister ever did so I feel like I’ve made progress there. Plus, I’ve read that children who sleep in the family bed when they’re little end up more independent and better adjusted as they age. Your sister is a great example of that theory. I mean she even puts herself down for naps in her own bed now – like she literally excuses herself from playing, exclaims that she’s tired and walks upstairs and gets into bed. No joke.

And yes, I am completely justifying my (bad?) behavior and our continued use of sleep crutches.

I’m reading a new sleep training book right now and may give it a try next week or the week after. Or I may do the exact same thing I did with Savs and deal with it later. We’ll just have to see where the pieces fall but in the meantime, sleep continues to be a huge distraction that literally keeps me up at night.

But really, I don’t mind all that much.

Your love is immeasurable and even when you’re mad, tired, or hungry you are still so quick to cuddle or smile. You are a social girl and love the company of your teachers and the other babies so much. It makes dropping you off each morning a breeze although picking you up each evening is still a highlight of our day.

All in all, you are so awesome. You are the happiest baby on the block and your Sunday School teachers notified me last weekend that I am so lucky to have the “best baby ever.” I couldn’t agree more even if I am a little biased!

Thank you for taking it easy on us. Everyone warned that having two kids would be exponentially harder and I’m probably jinxing myself by putting these words on paper but the adjustment has actually been just fine. You are an incredibly easy baby and your sister loves you with all her might. Juggling schedules got a little more complicated and our household is often a “shit show” but all in all going from 1 to 2 kids was much easier than going from 0 to 1.

You are loved so much. To be honest, it doesn’t even seem fair that one little being should be so adored! In fact, as I type this I want to run over and wake you up just so I can smother your face with slobbery kissies. That’s how it is with you – I can’t go too long without a fix.

6 Months at a Glance

Weight: 16 lbs 6 ozs – 61st percentile

Length: 26 3/4 inches – 75th percentile

Cool things You’re Doing: You love to laugh and talk nonstop. You play with toys and love to be surrounded by them in the ball pit at school. You sit, roll and lunge forward and you’re pretty good at scooting around on your back. You eat which is super cool and your hand eye coordination is excellent.

Likes: You love being outdoors and will instantly settle down the minute we take you outside. So far, you’re loving all food we’ve tried even if your tummy is having a hard time adjusting. You are infatuated with your sister and smile ear to ear the minute she enters your line of sight. You like baths and sitting at the counter with the family in your big girl high chair.

Dislikes: Object permanence is starting to kick in and you don’t like it one bit when we leave you alone. You don’t like teething either but honestly, who does?

Nicknames: Scarletto Barbaretto, Letti, Letti Spaghetti, Happy, Monkey, Monk, Sissy, Scarlett Johansson and of course, Belly Baby

Love, love love you always!

Your mama

Outtakes:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1

Just Say NO to “Mommy Guilt!”

momguilt

Ah…”mommy guilt.”

Wherever you find a group of women of childbearing age, you will inevitably hear those two words thrown around with pride. It’s as if we have to practice this self-deprecating behavior in order to prove that we are truly loving and committed mothers.

And from what I can tell as a member of these circles, that guilt has permeated every aspect of our lives nowadays.

We’re guilty for working outside of the home and we’re guilty for being stay at home moms. We’re guilty for sending our kids to preschool two days a week or guilty because we don’t send them at all. We’re guilty for letting our kids watch television while we grill their organic, free-range chicken to perfection (which they probably won’t eat anyway!) and we’re guilty for instead choosing to spend that time reading books with them while they eat prepackaged genetically modified fruit snacks.

We beat ourselves up for not living up to some idolized, urban legend version of a Stepford wife and personally, I’ve had enough.

As I was preparing to return to work after maternity leave I was shocked by the reaction I was getting from those around me. Everyone automatically assumed that I was reluctant to reintegrate myself back into the workforce or that I’m only motivated by the financial benefits gained by working outside of the home. And against my better instincts, I found myself playing along with this misconception because I didn’t want anyone to know that I just may be one of those women for whom “motherhood, alone, isn’t enough.”

Shame on me!

As a working mother with two daughters it both baffles and saddens me that we’re still judging women for wanting more satisfaction than parenting alone can provide. To be honest, it never occurred to me to feel guilty about my choice to have a lucrative and fulfilling profession. I never believed I was letting someone else “raise my kids for me” while I ran off to play my “adult games” all day. And I’ve certainly never thought of my career as secondary to my husband’s or as a welcome distraction from my parenting. That is, until I heard other people (most often women themselves!) talk about working moms in these terms.

So here’s the truth:

I’m proud of my success. I’ve earned it.

I don’t work to escape the responsibility of raising my children or to have coffee dates with my coworkers all day. I don’t do it because I think less of stay at home moms or to avoid the messy aspects of motherhood. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have a nanny who cooks, cleans, and washes our cloth diapers for me. I do all that too with the help of an incredibly involved husband who more than carries his share of the load.

I’m happy to admit that I enjoy wearing high heels and carrying a nice handbag, even if it’s filled with hair bows and art projects half the time. I like being reminded that I’m part of something bigger than my little family in my little neighborhood. I don’t mind waking up in the middle of the night thinking about work because most of the time I’m up already researching the latest parenting trend. And I actually believe that being away from their mommy for some portion of everyday is good for my kids. It’s taught my oldest self-sufficiency, resilience, and conflict resolution and kept me from turning into a helicopter mom.

Sure, there are sacrifices.

Without a doubt, our mornings are hectic and our evenings are worse. We cut every possible corner to maximize time because there really, truly are not enough hours in the day (but from what I hear, the same is true for families with one parent home all day). I can pretty much guarantee I will never know every parent on the class roster by name and store bought cupcakes for the school birthday party will have to suffice. But I always smile and say good morning to other parents and I treat my kids’ teachers and caregivers as if they’re part of our family. Because they are!

I work because I enjoy it. Because it affords my family certain luxuries that only a double income in the state of California can. I work because developing a solicitation strategy for a transformative gift to the university fulfills me in a way that arts and crafts with my three-year-old just doesn’t. I work because my husband finds my achievements sexy and because frankly, I’m really good at what I do.

I pray that when it’s all set and done, my girls will find more pride in my professional success and less disappointment that I missed valuable weekday moments with them. I hope that my choices will teach them to wear their own achievements like a badge of honor. As they grow up, I will encourage them to find that one thing that makes their hearts sing and pursue it with reckless abandon and free from guilt. It’s important to me that they learn that it’s not just the daddy’s job to provide for the family but that the responsibility is shared between both parents. I work because my mom did and because she represents everything I want to be as a woman.

Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than collapsing at the end of a long day with my girls in my arms. In fact, I look forward to it all day long. And my heart melts when Savannah listens attentively while I respond to her daily inquiry, “How was your day, mommy?” I always tell her the truth – sharing both my challenges and my accomplishments – so she learns that you can’t have one without the other.

For me, working makes me a better mommy and a more interesting wife. It’s adds a balance to our household and an (often times, exhausted) skip to my step. Frankly, four out of five days of the week, it’s just plain fun!

And while I’m riding the honesty train, I’m going to go ahead and unload yet another confession: I also strive to carve out a few minutes to take care of myself each day – to exercise, write, meditate, slap on a mud mask or just breathe – because being selfless 100% of the time is both exhausting and unrealistic.

So, that’s me ridding myself of all guilt. My life is crazy. It’s full and messy and so incredibly awesome that I’m not going to waste another minute on something as ridiculous and archaic as “mommy guilt.” And as long as you love your kids as much as I do, I encourage you to banish those ridiculous words from your vocabulary as well.

I salute you, mommies! Whether your job pays you in cash or with a direct deposit of slobbery kisses, you are working 24 hours a day/7days a week. You are a superhero and your kids have complete faith that you will make the right decisions about their education, childcare, nutrition, and extracurricular activities. Now, all you have to do is spread that cape wide, believe in yourself and trust that your super powers will get the job done.

Oh, and just for fun, try yelling, “F you, mommy guilt!”

Trust me, it’s liberating!