Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I’m starting to notice that Xander looks so much more like a little boy than a baby these days. He’s longer and leaner, the dimpled baby joints giving way to gangly boy limbs. Not all the way. Not yet. His hands still look like little star fish. His face is still round. His belly still spills out of shirts. But still. It’s happening.

I didn’t have my camera with me today, so I tried to take mental snapshots to hang on to on those nights I’m waiting up for him, swearing that next time, I’ll REALLY enforce curfew (is that still a thing? curfew?).

  • Wake up time: He’s singing and babbling in his crib. When he sees JS come in to scoop him up, he flips over onto his belly, pretending to still be asleep – complete with fake snores.
  • Breakfast: Initial cheerfulness has given way to body shuddering sobs at the horror of being changed. He stumbles into the kitchen. “Xander, do you want milk?” I ask, holding out his morning cup of milk/kefir. “NO!” He sobs, launching himself forward onto the floor, balling his fists. “What do you want, buds?” “UP. UP UP UP UP,” he pleads. In my arms, he signs for milk.
  • In a jogging stroller, while I run with a friend: “Ball! Fofo! Shoe! Buh! Daddy! Doggy! Fofo!” Turning around to smile at me through the plastic window.
  • Nap time: Reaching eagerly for pacifier, hugging blankie to his chest, his head snuggling against my chin while we read about Thomas. Again. “Choo choo?” He points. We read it again and he squirms while he giggles. “Choo choo.” I sing “You Are My Sunshine” and lower him down into the crib. He cracks a sleepy eye and claps.
  • Dinner: We eat early, before JS gets home. He spoons rice into his mouth faster than he can chew. “Mmmm!” He digs through the bowl, finding all of the vegetables, winging them at the dog’s head. “Uh-OH!” He gulps his water down. “Ahhh!….Cookie?”
  • After dinner: we play a puzzle game on the iPad. He misses and misses and misses and finally gets it right. He stands, points to himself, and claps. He dances around the room, clapping. I dance and clap with him.
  • Before bed: JS is home, Xander sprints up and down the hall, chanting “do do do doop! do do doop!” while JS tosses the ball for him to chase.
  • He throws his arms around my neck, his grasp surprisingly strong. He lays his cheek against mine, then presses his wet lips to my ear. “Mama,” he breathes.

These days are so very long. By the time 730 rolls around, I’m all but ready for bed myself. But they’re so sweet, so great. I hope I remember the good, more than the bad.


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New Nighttime Routine

The hour or so between dinner and bath tends to get a little hairy, so JS came up with a great solution. It’s more interactive than TV, but holds Xander’s attention better than a book.

These boys. (And that dog.) I’d be lost without them.

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What Xander Did

My first vacation post was negligent in regards to poor, abandoned Xander, who wept for us for approximately 4 minutes, apparently. But hey, he had things to do! Parks, church nursery, visiting PopPop at work, free cookies at Publix, dogs, uncles, trips to the nursery.

Anyway, pictures:










And, just because it was in beautiful full bloom the weekend we returned from Mexico, my parents’ Cherry Blossom tree.


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It doesn’t take being a parent to know that toddlers are challening. They’re demanding and loud and unreasonable and pushy and prone to fits of pint sized rage over the family dog eating the cracker they just threw off the high chair tray. They cry when it’s bedtime, when they can’t have a snack before dinner, when you tell them “no hitting,” when it’s time to get strapped into the car seat, at every single diaper change, when Elmo isn’t on the TV right away. It’s easy to get frustrated, to get annoyed, to feel defeated and ineffective as a parent.

But every night, when JS and I are getting into bed, these things are the last things on our mind.  Because toddlers are so much fun, too. When we talk about our days, we talk about the dance parties we have, and how funny Xander looks shaking his booty to the music. We talk about the hour after dinner he spends running after the dog, shrieking with laughter. We talk about the dozens and dozens of stories we read, worth the repetition if only because of the way he slowly walks backwards into our laps, determinedly clutching his book.

It makes me wonder what, if anything, Xander will remember from his toddlerhood. I can’t personally think of any specific memories before the age of 3 or 4, I’d guess. JS says he remembers some stuff from before that, he remembers a few impressionable things from being a baby. I find myself hoping so much that Xander will, too. That he’ll remember twirling in my arms, tilting his curly head back to watch the ceiling spin above him. The way JS walks him around the house to inspect any item he points at with interest. The way he loves to crawl after the dog with his head down, giggling with anticipation of the face licks to come. I want him to remember how we distract him from tears at changing time by blowing raspberries onto his thighs until he’s laughing so hard that tears stream down his face. The Victory Song we sing after every bath-time.

I want him to remember how much fun we have together. All of us, JS and myself included. I want him to remember how much we love him now, at this moment in time. And how much he loves us, too (the other day I came back upstairs from doing laundry and he was so thrilled to see me that his whole body shook when I picked him up). It wouldn’t change anything to know that he won’t; it wouldn’t make us try to get by with a little more coasting and less effort. It just makes me a little sad to think that these wonderful times that I will remember every day of my life may not be as accessible to him as he grows up.

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Oh, you guys. This Christmas was so great. Last year was good, too. Xander’s first Christmas, and all. But last year, he couldn’t even sit up. This year? He did a happy dance (in cowboy boots!) in front of the tree, and hugged his toys, and laughed so hard he choked a little.

It was just the three of us (plus Tonks), and we kept it fairly simple, activity wise. Cinnamon rolls that I had already cooked for breakfast, cold cuts for lunch, and some local grass fed steaks for dinner. I had originally planned to do something fancier for dinner, but didn’t really feel like taking the time. I did, though, make some gingerbread cupcakes that were delicious.

We got Xander entirely too many gifts, and next year we’ll try to work on that, but it was worth it this year. He was SO EXCITED about everything. He spent a good part of the day pushing around his toy stroller and wearing Paula’s cowboy boots and hugging Elmo and coloring on his easel and bouncing on Rody Horse. We’ve put a few of the gifts away already; there really were just too many, and some he isn’t old enough for just yet.

I hope you all had wonderful Christmases (or holidays or just December 25ths) with your friends and family. I don’t think I could have wished for a better one here, except to have my parents and brothers closer.







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Merrily, Merrily

Xander is a big fan of the “TEEEE!”, as it turns out. Every morning he runs to it, pointing and giggling and, more often than not, lobbing his light up bouncy ball into its festooned pines. In his defense, the ball does look an awful lot like some of the Christmas lights we have up on it.

Sunday morning we took the gate down and let him actually TOUCH the tree, and took some fun Christmas pictures of him in front of it. JS used a real camera, while I used the old iPhone stand by. Can you tell which one is which?






Then Monday was my birthday, and it was a pretty damn good one. JS took the morning off and the three of us went to brunch. Then some friends invited me and Xander over for dinner and birthday cake.

Now we’re in the final Christmas Stretch and I’m getting the last of my gifts ordered and shipped and realizing that, OOPS, I totally did what I said I wasn’t going to do and got way too many toys for Xander. Which, yeah, I know. It’s lame. He’s too young to even WANT so much stuff. And while I’m not anti-present, I don’t want to completely spoil him each year. So I’m going to have to work on that one. At least this year he’s still too young to fully realize what’s going on.

I did a TON of baking this year, like I almost always do, for various holiday gifts and cookie swap parties and just because it’s Christmas and feels like there should be something in the oven.




It’s just going to be our little family for Christmas this year. which is how we wanted it. We want to spend the holiday in our new home and really dig in and make it ours. JS is not teaching this coming semester so, while he’ll still have work, he’ll have a lot more time to spend with us and around the house. We’re hoping to come up with some sort of system so that I can get out for a few hours a few times a week and sort of get back to having a sense of myself apart from Xander. I think I used to like to do things other than digging play-do out of tiny nostrils, but I’m not sure what, exactly, those things were.

Speaking of Xander. He’s as wonderful as ever, but he’s fast approaching the “No! Mine! Won’t!” hitting and clawing and biting phase and I need to get my game plan in action. I’m not a spanker, and I personally don’t think he’s really ready for time-outs (unless I sit with him and use it just to get him calmed down). I don’t want to punish him, per se, but I do want him to learn the consequences of actions and that, no, Mama doesn’t want you to chuck that organic, lead-free, wooden apple at her face, thank you. I explain things to him, of course, but he’s not talking yet and it seems to frustrate him to have so many one-sided conversations. Any suggestions for effective positive discipline techniques?

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(This is with lights only. We have a whole decorating philosophy (hint: LOTS OF LIGHTS AND SPARKLY STUFF). Actual ornaments go on after the lighting situation has been handled.)


We got our tree!

I love Christmas. A lot. I love everything about it. Neighborhood lights. Baking. Nativity scenes. Carols. Trees. Kids crying on Santa’s lap. Shoddily wrapped presents under our tree. The whole nine.

I’m trying very hard to get into the Christmas Spirit, but I’m sort of struggling here. I think the winter and the homesickness and the whole it-gets-dark-at-3PM thing is all just wearing be down and I’m…I don’t know what I am. But I’m working on it.

So, anyway, this weekend we went to a real honest to God tree farm and JS cut us down a kickass Christmas tree. It may not be our biggest to date, but it was super fun, and also? It cost less than HALF THE PRICE of a precut, mostly dead tree would have cost us in California. So take THAT, homesickness.

Xander is still a bit under the weather, but we risked it and brought him out with us, bundled up in layers and layers. He mostly enjoyed being pulled in the sled, but also liked pointing out all of the Nature around us. “Eh? Eh? EH EH EH EH EH EH?????!!!!!”

Then we went out to brunch and I got a hot chocolate that tasted like a melted Hershey’s bar. Well played, Vermont.









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A Tale of Two Screamers

When my mom was visiting and helping out right after Xander was born, and he was in his Screamy McScreamy Pants phase (OMG), she told this story to try and cheer JS and I up. It went something like: My older brother Sam had been fussy all day, teething or possessed by Satan or whatever it is that kids go through when they want nothing more than to make their parents miserable. Mom and Dad took turns for what must have felt like hours to calm him down and put him to bed (I think they were in the US, which makes him over a year, since he was about 1 when his deployment to the Philippines was done; and there’s something about a Up All Night Screaming Baby that’s NOT a newborn that seems so much more traumatic, somehow (I say now, safely past the newborn phase)). It finally worked, Sam went to sleep, and my parents were so giddy about the freedom and the quiet that they went out for pizza.

They turned around a few blocks away from the house where Sam was sleeping.

The other story goes like this: Grant, being the third born, had to work extra hard to phase my folks. They were EXPERTS at this point! So Dad decides that Grant is old enough that come hell or high water, he and Mom are going to enjoy their dinner after putting Grant to bed. No Matter What. (Sam and I aren’t mentioned in this story. I assume they locked us in a closet with 2 spoons and jar of peanut butter. (AGAIN)) Typical youngest child syndrome kicks in, and after Night Night Time, Grant starts screaming bloody murder because, HEY! THEY’RE HAVING FUN WITHOUT ME.

Dad remains resolute, though; he and Mom will eat their dinner together and then go check on the baby. Dinner’s done, Mom goes into the nursery and….Grant had thrown such a fit, complete with jumping up and down and flailing his limbs and spinning his head around in complete circles, that he broke the crib and is lying on the ground under a pile of mattress and wood pieces.

The point of these stories? In recent days, with Xander being as busy as he can possibly be? I can totally relate to both of them. Especially the first one. I’m horrible and tuning out his screams (I can’t really even hold a rational conversation if he’s screaming, I’m too on edge). But the giddiness and freedom of the baby being away? I get that. It’s not that I don’t love spending my days with Xander, because he’s a joy, he really is. I love him so much it’s pretty gross, really. But at the end of the day, I’m so exhausted from walking him around the house and listening to him cry because I wouldn’t let him play with the shards of the glass he knocked over, or separating him from the dog, or pinning his screaming and wriggling body to the floor so I can change his diaper (look, Kid, it’s not like *I* enjoy that job, either, ya know?), or having to pee while he unspools ANOTHER roll of TP or or or or…..man, just a few minutes to myself, after dinner’s cleaned up and I’m confident he’s asleep and I’ve done as much housework as I’m going to do in a day…

I’d totally go for pizza, is what I’m saying.  And I don’t really even LIKE pizza that much.

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Before we left San Diego, I had one of my mom’s group friends and a professional photographer take some portraits of our little family by the beach. One, I wanted professional pictures while Xander was still a baby, and two, I wanted them at a quintessentially Southern California location, something that said “this is where we used to live.”

I could not be happier with how they turned out. If you’re in the San Diego area and want some pictures taken, check out Sarah Jayne Photography for sure.





Now I just have to decide which ones I want to print!


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Hey there, ho there, good neighbor. I’m all over the place today so let’s break out the bullets, shall we?

  • Running update: I had my longest run this weekend. Parts of it were GREAT, really great. I finally found a buddy to run with among the team members. A woman who is very much in the same boat as I and we kept pace together and chatted about our kids and life and hey, yay! Aid Station with CHEEZ-ITS? Don’t mind if we do! Parts of the run….um. Well. I’ve pulled my IT band. An injury I’d never heard of but oh my gosh, you guys, it hurts. I had to stop running. And I hate that. I was so incredibly discouraged. I made it over 10 miles, which is still great, but I so wanted to FINISH. I was feeling so good (aside from the excruciating pain, natch). I got a referral to the team chiropractor and a foam roller to work it out. Also: my pinky toe nail is hanging on for dear life and I got a parking ticket. So. Ugh.
  • Somewhat related: I am doubtful that I’ll meet my fundraising minimum which is stressful and sorta depressing. But, you know, I’m doing the best I can. It just stinks because I have to make up the difference myself and it’s not an insignificant amount. I think what really bums me out is that, aside from my parents, I got zero donations from family.  But, anyway, even if I DO have to pay it myself, I’ve really loved running with TNT so I don’t regret signing up at all.
  • And now for the big news: we are moving. Away from California. To Vermont. It’s…totally insane, yes. There are many reasons for this. A better job for JS (better in all but salary, sadly). Affordable homes. Open space. Trees. Seasons. A real community of people who get JS’s art. It’s a big change, and we’re a little nervous, but excited, and very focused on trying to find a place to live because apparently you can’t just find a house on CL to rent like anywhere else (we’ve actually gotten Nigerian Prince Scams! FROM NIGERIA! “send me your bank info but I cannot show you the home as I am in Nigeria”) and we are now considering the option of BUYING A HOUSE, which we weren’t planning to do for a year, at least, and it’s all very overwhelming.
  • There is some Other Drama with my side of the family that, for a variety of reasons, I don’t want to get into much, but it’s taking a lot of brain space for me and so I have to mention it, even if it’s vague and cryptic. I’m sorry. That’s rude of me. But not releasing the pressure valve a bit may cause my brain to actually explode, which would be bad.
  • Ahem

That’s…only four bullets, but that’s the bird’s eye view of what’s going on. A lot. I’m sure that, in addition to my scintillating posts about Xander’s tooth (he has one), Jesse St. James’s (lack of) character development, and what ever else I can come up with to fill The InterTubes with, I’ll be writing a lot about the impending move.

Happy Monday, y’all.

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