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Dear Scarlett at 2!

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Dear Belly Baby,

As I write this, I have to laugh because in the two months since your second birthday it’s as if you’ve changed drastically. You have gone from my baby to this full blown little human seemingly overnight.

Your speech is excellent and you love to practice. In fact, you are a complete chatterbox and have been putting full sentences together since before your birthday. You mimic everything your sister says and even take a stab at the longer, more difficult vocabulary. For a long time, no one seemed to understand you but us and your teachers but your pronunciation has gotten clearer and clearer.

You are a musical little girl and the second you hear a beat you pop up and start dancing. If you’re strapped to your car seat, you bob your head to the music. And you have excellent rhythm. You definitely got that quality from your daddy! You love to crash your sister’s ballet classes and before long, I think we’re going to have to find a way to nurture your love for music either by teaching you how to play an instrument or letting you express yourself through dance.

Possibly my favorite thing about you are your facial expressions. You can give the stink eye like no one else I’ve ever met. But your look of surprise or excitement is the all time best. You open your mouth like a great big O and laugh silently for a second before letting out a squeal of excitement! You laugh more sincerely than anyone I know – it’s so deep and guttural and we all end up laughing along with you. You also have the sweetest smile. It’s like a perfect toothy grin and it’s so genuine that I’ll do anything to elicit it from you!

My sweet girl, you are so discriminatory with your affection but once you attach to someone, you love them for life. You are the greatest snuggle bug there is and will sit for hours curled up in our arms. You even love it when sissy holds you like a mommy. Except…when you don’t – then we’d better LOOK OUT! You are an independent bird and when you want your space, ain’t no one gonna tie you down!

In fact, this part of your personality fascinates and amuses me most. You are YOU through and through. No apologies and no exceptions. I often wonder if those you encounter throughout life will fully understand or appreciate your charm but then I laugh because to be honest, I don’t think you’re going to give a damn. I can already tell that you’re not out to please anyone. You have your own agenda and you’re going to see it through.

You are brave with a capital B. And you are fearless. You’ll try anything once although you may decide you don’t like it or it scared you after the fact. Nevertheless, you’re willing to push your boundaries and I so admire that aspect of your personality! You will no doubt set an example for your sister as she explores her own fearlessness in the years to come and I can already see that you are each going to make the other stronger.

The sound of you and Savs laughing together just might be the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. The relationship between the two of you is pretty awesome to watch. Your sister loves to care for you, guide and protect you. Similarly, you challenge her but are the first to come to her aid when she’s hurt or sad. You gently reach for her hand when one of you needs comforting and you’ve taken to sharing her likes and dislikes already.

Scarlett, like your mommy and sissy, you are an excellent sleeper. You love your room and your crib and putting you down is as easy as it gets. In fact, sometimes you let us know that you’re ready for nappy or bedtime and start making your way to your room like a big girl. Lately, you’ve been waking extra early – in fact, your internal sunrise alarm my drive me to insanity one of these days – but slowly we are finding our way through that phase.

Like your big sister, you love school! You love the chance to run free and express yourself through art and music. You love when I read books to your class in the mornings although you also get incredibly territorial and possessive when any of your friends come near me. You stare longingly at the preschool class every day and I know you’re just dying to spread your wings and hang out with the big kids. I suspect reminding you to “slow down” and “enjoy the moment” will become our mantras as you already yearn to conquer the world.

You’re a physical girl and walk with a swagger. I regularly enter a room to find you creating solutions to whatever challenge is before you – if you want a pair of shoes and they’re out of reach then naturally, you think to empty your waste basket and use it as a step stool. Pretty sophisticated for a barely two-old if you ask me!

I’m reading a book right now called the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. The two sisters in the book remind me so much of you and Savs. You share a confidence and desire to buck the system like the younger sister, Isabel. I can also imagine you finding something to believe in and fighting for it despite the risks. I’m so excited to watch you discover how big the world is and all that it offers.

Scarletto, you are much more like your daddy than you are like me which has made parenting you a learning experience for me. But, because you react to the world differently than I do, I feel like I’ve learned so much from you already. You love fiercely and it’s demonstrated in the power of your hugs and the smack of your smooches. You are bold and funny. Independent and secure. And snuggly and absolutely loveable. I adore every single thing about you, my darling!

Always and forever,

Your mommy

2 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: Music!, playing dress up, taking care of your babies, stealing your sister’s toys, reading books, rocking, snuggling, pretending, running, climbing, all things Mickey and Minnie.

Dislikes: Depends on the day but showers can piss you off. Same with wearing clothes. You’re not a fan of pants and always prefer to be naked. Except when it comes to shoes. You love your shoes.

Favorite Books: The Potty Book, On the Night You Were Born, anything by Sandra Boynton, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Panda Bear Panda Bear, Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Favorite Songs: You love all music equally but favor songs with a clear beat that you can use to get your jam on. You love when we sing lullabies at night especially ABC’s, On the Good Ship Lollipop, Bushel and a Peck, and Baa Baa Black Sheep

Funny Things You Say: Everything starts with “my” as in: “My snowman,” “My diapie,” “My soft baby.” As your sentences get longer your words become more deliberate and you give a full effort to your pronunciation.

Our Favorite Things About This Age: While the saying “terrible two’s” definitely has significance with you, this is also a pretty cool age. You are becoming so independent and you and your sister play together for extended periods of time. Your imagination is incredible to watch. So is your big brain. It’s like you’re learning new words at warp speed! My all time favorite thing about 2 is that you are both a baby and a big kid at once. You still love your mommy and let me rock you like a baby doll but you are also becoming your own little human and she’s really, really awesome!

Nicknames: Belly Baby, of course!, Lets, Letti, Scarletto Barbaretto, Letti Lou, Leticia Lou, Scarly

Outtakes:

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Dear Scarlett, at 10 months!

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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:

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Dear Scarlett…at 8 months!

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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:

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Today is going to be a great day!

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There’s nothing like a splash of ice cold smoothie to the hiney to jolt you out of bed!

Savannah and her daddy have a ritual. Every morning he delivers a bowl of CCO’s (cheerios) and a sippy cup of milk to her in bed. Once in a while when she’s lucky enough to get a “moochie” (smoothie) instead of milk. Today was one of those days. Since by morning “her bed” is actually “our bed,” we’ve taught her the very delicate process of holding her moochie with two hands. Sure she has quite the Moochie Mustache when she’s all set and done but Savs has been drinking out of an open cup since she was 12 months old so 99% of the time this isn’t a problem.

Today, however, was an exception.

No sooner did she take a sip of her moochie did she drop the cup and the entire contents poured out – all over her, all over the bed, and all over her barely awake mommy sleeping next to her. Daddy was already in the shower so I was on my own for clean up. As you can imagine, madness ensued.

Savannah flipped because not only was her cup empty but she was sitting in a pile of cold, runny, goop. I flipped because the thought of moochie seeping through our sheets and mattress pad and onto our mattress sounds like a recipe for disaster. And Lola flipped because she was suddenly flung from her quiet slumber to the floor in my mad dash to strip the bed.

In a recent class, my yoga instructor challenged us to start each day with the intention, “Today is going to be a great day.” I’m not going to lie. It took me a while to get there this morning but after Savs and Mike were off to school and work, the sheets were in the washer, Lola was settled back into her routine of lounging all day, and I was dressed and on my way out the door I took a moment to remind myself that life is pretty damn sweet.

And, if a moochie to the hiney is the worst thing that happens to me today, I’ll be grateful.

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PJ Sunday

This is the way our first official PJ Sunday started out…not a bad sight to wake up to, huh?

I’ve started a new tradition in our household and I’m calling it PJ Sunday. Unless we have plans to be somewhere, we are not getting out of our PJ’s for one entire day of the week. By avoiding the temptation to get dressed, we will resist the urge to run errands or take care of business and Sunday will officially become a “day of rest.”

We started this tradition this past weekend and it was glorious. After waking up early enough to work out and hit the grocery store, we showered and put clean PJ’s “back on” and spent the rest of the day lounging on the couch, eating snacks, playing with Savs, and watching football. We even napped for a half hour while Savannah played with her blocks on the floor in front of us.

A mid-day nap? That’s unheard of nowadays!

But I’ll admit, old habits are hard to break. By 3:00 we were getting restless so we packed up and headed out to explore our new dog park which is just a couple of blocks away (woo hoo!). Lola had a blast checking out her new digs and making new friends. So much so that she didn’t even mind that a chocolate lab snatched her tennis ball.

On the way home, we met some neighbors (Thank God we showered and looked somewhat presentable even if we were still in PJ’s) and learned that our neighborhood is quite social. We stood in the middle of the street for a half hour and were greeted by babies, dogs, and all sorts of friendly people. For a minute we actually forgot that we live in California and thought we’d been transplanted to some small town in the middle of the country – you know, where everyone knows your name and stuff!

All in all, PJ Sunday was a huge success and I’m looking forward to many more in the future!