Three

Birthday Cake

It doesn’t seem possible, but Alexander turned three over a week ago. He’s three feet, 2 inches tall, 33.8 pounds, and ridiculously fun. His favorite things right now (in no particular order) are Super Why, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, puzzles, soccer, and his baby sister.

His least favorite thing in the whole world is getting his hair wet. No matter where you are in the house, you can always tell when he’s reached the hair-washing stage of his bath, because the entire house echos with wails of despair.

He give the best hugs. The very best. He’ll throw his arms around my neck, squeeze tight, and whisper “I love you, Mommy.” His hugs are one of my favorite things in the whole world.

Reluctant Selfie

To celebrate his birthday, I took the day off work, and we dropped Emily off at daycare so we could have Mommy and Alexander’s Day of Fun. I assumed he’d be really excited to spend a whole day not having to share my attention with Emily, but 3 minutes after we dropped Emily off at daycare, he said despondently, “I really wish Emily was here.” I explained to him that we were going to do lots of things that it would be hard to do if Emily was with us, and I managed to keep him happy, but he still asked multiple times throughout the day, “Can we go pick Emily up now?” After going out for pancakes, playing at 2 parks, reading books at the library, playing a round of mini golf, and taking a good nap, we picked Emily up from daycare about an hour early, and I swear it was the highlight of his whole day. He was so glad she was with us to finish celebrating with presents and ice cream after Tim got home. He’s such a sweet, loving little guy.

SuperWhy

We got him a Super Why costume for his birthday, and he’s worn it just about every day in the past week. We also scouted eBay for some no-longer-in-production Super Why action figures to sit atop his birthday cake at his party last weekend. Apparently we’re Those Parents, who will do what it takes to hunt down our son’s favorite characters in toy form, even if they’re no longer being manufactured. (We didn’t pay a ridiculous amount of money for them, though. We’re not Those Parents. Not yet.)

Family

Alexander’s birthday and subsequent party were a great success. He’s such a great little guy, and he is still cracking us up on a daily basis. Here are a few of my favorite recent Alexander-ims:

“Those cars are going to the hospital because they have baby sisters in their tummies!”

To the dog: “Ben, inside voice, please. Or you can go outside and woof as loud as you want.”

“I’m old enough to go to work! My legs are long like Daddy’s! So can I go to work?” (Answer: No, you’ll just have to play today. Sorry.)

“Dinglehoppers are just like forks!”

About the sunset: “The clouds turned pink! But red is my favorite color. So why didn’t the clouds turn red?”

Talking to my mom about the Halloween decorations in the neighbor’s yard: “Grandma, do you like ghosts? Well, those are just pretend ghosts, so you don’t have to be scared of them.”

Every morning on the way to daycare, he and Emily jabber at each other in the back seat. She’ll make a noise, and he’ll repeat it back to her, over and over. Sometimes they both giggle. It’s adorable.

I said to Emily, “Are you my little girl?” and Alexander jumped in with “No, she’s my little girl!”

When the dog sniffed a toy he was handing to Emily: “No, Smalls, that’s for my baby Emily!”

“Oh, Emily. I always wanted an Emily like you. When I didn’t have Emily, I was sad.”

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Tim and I are having tons of fun raising this kid. We’re so lucky to have him.

Emily’s Sixth Month

Beautiful

Emily at six months is a delight. She’s eating solid foods like a champ, reliably sitting on her own without toppling over for long stretches of time, and trying like crazy to crawl (not quite there yet).

Love

She adores her big brother, the dogs, me, and her daddy…except in the evenings, then she only likes me. If Tim is holding her and she sees me across the room, she fusses until I come get her. It adds an extra level of difficulty to things like cooking and eating dinner.

Just Us Girls

Emily is getting really good at grabbing and playing with toys, and she’s started letting us know when she’s bored. I keep having to remind myself that sometimes when she’s fussy it’s not because she’s hungry or wanting to be held; sometimes all she needs is a new toy to investigate, and she’s happy as can be.

Goof

She played on swings for the first time this month, and it was a big hit. She loved it, highly recommends, would go again.

Swing

On a less fun topic, we’ve been struggling to keep Emily’s eczema under control for several months now. Her pediatrician suspects she may have a bit of a dairy allergy, so I went off dairy this month. I joke that I knew parenting would require sacrifice, but no one ever told me I’d have to give up cheese, but…it hasn’t been easy. Turns out 95% of my favorite recipes rely heavily on cheese and/or cream, and cooking without dairy products has resulted in some pretty disappointing meals so far. However, eliminating dairy from my diet does seem to be helping; Emily’s eczema flare-ups are less frequent and less severe these days. This is good news, even though being dairy-free is no fun for me.

Baby Jeans

Turns out I’d do anything for this little girl, even if that means giving up the most delicious food group for a few months.

6 months

At her six-month check up, Emily weighed in at 15 pounds, 4 ounces, and she’s 26 inches tall (not counting the hair). We all love her to pieces.

I’m Totally Going to be a Soccer Mom, Aren’t I?

Tim and I aren’t sports people. We don’t follow sports; we don’t have favorite teams; we have no interest in fantasy sports leagues. We enjoy watching the Olympics, and Tim will often half-watch the Super Bowl so he can participate in discussions about it at work the next day, but that’s the extent of our sports interest. Because of our complete indifference toward sports, we always assumed we’d end up with kids who wanted to be on every sports team possible. That’s how these things work, right?

Earlier this summer, we had the neighbors over for a barbeque. Their elementary-aged son, Ethan, is an avid soccer player, and it just so happened that Alexander had recently brought home a free soccer ball from a neighborhood event. Ethan started showing Alexander a few soccer moves (techniques? skills? I don’t know the terminology), and the two of them played happily together all evening. (Don’t even get me started on how great it was that this older boy entertained our two-and-a-half year old for several hours. We have good neighbors.)

Ever since then, Alexander will periodically ask whether Ethan’s coming over to play soccer again. I’ve mentioned to Ethan’s mom that if Ethan would be interested in letting Alexander come over and kick the ball around, it would make Alexander’s day, but Ethan is often busy playing with friends his own age (completely understandable). Still, the fact that Alexander still brings it up says a lot about how much fun he had playing soccer with Ethan a couple months ago.

Last weekend, on a whim, Alexander and I took his soccer ball to the park, planning to kick it around in the field a bit. We ended up spending a solid 45 minutes running back and forth across a big, grassy field, taking turns kicking the soccer ball. Alexander would kick it, yell, “your turn!” and then, nine times out of ten, he’d sneak in and kick the ball out from under my feet before I could take my turn. If I told him to kick the ball a certain direction, he did. He ran with the ball, kicking it with every step (I think that’s called “dribbling”?), and only rarely missed attempted kicks. I know nothing about soccer, and I’m certainly more than a little biased, but the kid seems like a natural.

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Oh, and — minor detail — the entire time we were kicking that ball around the field, Alexander was laughing and giggling and grinning ear-to-ear, positively bursting with joy.

I’m a major sucker for seeing my boy so happy, so as soon as we got home, I started looking up toddler soccer programs. I found one that allows kids to try their first class for free, so we took Alexander to his first soccer class (practice? lesson?) yesterday morning. He was a little nervous at first. When we drove up to the facility, he asked, “Are you guys going to stay with me?” It’s a parent-participation class, so we assured him that one of us would be right there with him the whole time. At the beginning of class, Alexander’s uncertainty about being in an unfamiliar situation was palpable. While everyone stood in a circle and did stretches, Alexander stood motionless, shaking his head when Tim encouraged him to follow along with the coaches. I watched from the sidelines and hoped he’d warm up to the situation and start having a good time.

Next, the coaches lead some running drills, which Alexander participated in, though he was still a little hesitant. Then, the soccer balls came out, and all of Alexander’s uncertainty went straight out the window. He kicked his ball across the field, grinning and giggling the whole time. He spent the remainder of the hour enthusiastically participating in all the games — kicking various balls, racing to sort a pile of multicolored bean bags into buckets of matching colors, and chasing the coach while he dragged a bag full of soccer balls around the field. Just like our day at the park last week, Alexander could not stop laughing and smiling. When class was over, he protested loudly, “But I’m not ready to go!” He only agreed to leave the field when we promised he could come back and play again next week.

And that’s how Tim and I, two non-sports-loving people, came to sign our son up for a full season of soccer lessons. Seeing Alexander having the time of his life out on that soccer field melted our hearts. (It also didn’t hurt that after soccer he ate a great lunch — “All that playing at the exercise place made me very hungry!” — and took an excellent nap.) We all had a good time at soccer, and I kind of can’t wait to take him back next week.

Emily’s Fifth Month

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At five months old, Emily continues to be the happiest baby there ever was. Sure, she gets fussy from time to time (incidentally, I had to take several breaks to comfort her while writing this post because she’s really cranky tonight), but when she’s happy, she’s really happy. And it doesn’t take much to make her crack that big ol’ grin, either. She’s positively delighted by: the dogs, her big brother, her toys, her feet, her parents, her grandparents, people she’s only just met…the list goes on and on.

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As she gets more expressive, her little personality is starting to shine through, and — surprise, surprise — it’s lots of fun. When I see her make goofy faces at me, it makes me all the more excited to see what she’s going to be like as a toddler. I can’t wait to hear all the things she has to tell us. I mean, look at this face. You just know she’s got some hilarious stories to tell.

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There’s another part of me, though, that wants to tell her to just slow down — stop growing up so fast! I remember being so impatient for Alexander to grow up and reach all the big milestones. With Emily, I’m really not a hurry for her to grow up and stop being my tiny baby. She has her own ideas about that, of course. She’s rolling all over the place and can get across a room in a matter of minutes. She’s babbling and laughing and blowing raspberries and flirting with the baby in the mirror. And then, on her five-month birthday, this:

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She sits up now! Totally unsupported! Alexander didn’t sit unsupported until he was six-and-a-half months old, so she’s way ahead of the game by those standards. I know every baby is different, but it’s so interesting to me to see the similarities and differences between my own two kids’ development. I expected Emily to do things a little earlier than Alexander since she has him to mimic/keep up with. But I did not expect her to hit milestones a full six weeks before he did. Crazy little overachiever. (She still doesn’t sleep through the night, though. That’s one milestone she can hurry up and reach any day now.)

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Speaking of Alexander, he adores her, and she him. I know they won’t always get along perfectly, but at the moment they’re best buddies, and hopefully they’ll stay that way for quite awhile. Seeing her face light up when he comes into view, and seeing him help her figure out new toys…my heart is so full.

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Emily’s other big milestone this month was starting solid foods. (Alexander, of course, was right there to help her out.) She took to it like a champ, and it only took a few bites of rice cereal before she was opening her mouth wide, baby-bird style, waiting for another spoonful. She ate rice cereal for a couple weeks before moving up to vegetable purees, and so far, so good. She’s not a huge fan of green beans, but everything else we’ve offered, she’s gobbled up enthusiastically.

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Did I mention that she also scoots all over the place in her walker? Seriously, kid, with the growing up too fast! Oh, but she’s so proud of herself when she manages to scoot across the kitchen to me in that contraption. She’s not great at steering, though, and we frequently have to re-direct her when she’s stuck up against the kitchen island or has a wheel wedged under the couch. An Emily in motion would very much like to stay in motion, and she’s not shy at all about expressing her displeasure when she gets stuck somewhere.

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Her other favorite place to hang out is in her jumparoo. We introduced her to it shortly after she turned four moths old, and she was immediately impressed. And then! She learned how to swivel herself around in the seat! And discovered more toys at every turn! The first time she turned herself  around and discovered another set of toys, the expression of sheer delight that came across her face was priceless. And then she turned a little further and was delighted all over again when she found even more new toys. Babies really know how to appreciate life’s simple pleasures.

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I think I’ve written before about how Alexander is the world’s biggest Daddy’s boy. He loves me, sure, but he very much prefers Tim. If he needs something and I try to help him, nine times our of ten he’ll respond with cries of “No, not you! I wanted Daddy!” It’s fun.

Emily, though. I know it’s a little early to say for sure, but I can already tell she loves me best. There are the usual indicators, like the fact that I can usually comfort her quicker than Tim if she’s upset, and the way she can be sleeping peacefully in my arms then start fussing the instant I try to hand her off to Tim. But the real proof is this: Every single time she’s been dressed in an “I love Daddy” or “Daddy’s little princess” onesie, she’s had a major diaper blowout, forcing us to change her outfit. Every time. (Okay, there was maybe one day she managed to wear a “Daddy’s girl” onesie all day without soiling it, but that was obviously a fluke.) Doesn’t get much clearer than that, folks. This girl loves her Mama.

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Daddy’s still pretty good too, though.

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So there you have it: Emily at 5 months. She’s 14.3 pounds of happy energy who can barely sit still long enough for me to get a non-blurry picture. And she’s positively delightful.

 

Emily’s Fourth Month

Emily had a busy month! Let’s get right to the photo highlights, shall we?

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She had her first 4th of July. She spent the morning lounging poolside, waiting for someone to bring her an umbrella drink.

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She found her feet! She likes playing with lots of different toys, but her feet are a big favorite since they’re always nearby.

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She got baptized! We had her baptism on July 20th so that my best friend, Amy, who Emily’s godmother, could be here for the ceremony. It was a nice ceremony, and it was wonderful getting to spend the morning with Amy and her family.

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Amy’s kids are very close in age to Alexander and Emily — her daughter is 5 days older than Alexander, and her son is 7 weeks younger than Emily. They live in Boston, so we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, but it’s always a great time when we do get together.

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Emily and Walker holding hands — already best buddies!

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She rolled over! She’d been rolling back-to-front for a few weeks, but then she’d get mad because she was stuck on her belly. Then one day she finally figured out how to roll front-to-back, and everything was great again. She’s rolling a full month earlier than Alexander did, and she couldn’t be more pleased with herself. I expect her to be crawling any week now. (I’m only half joking about that.)

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Alexander’s the sweetest big brother in the world. He takes such good care of Emily, and always makes sure she has a toy to play with, whether she wants it or not. He loves to smother her in hugs and kisses, and he still likes to hold her and exclaim, “I think she likes me!” just like he’s been doing since the day we brought her home from the hospital. She’s incredibly lucky to have him for a big brother.

Here’s an 8-second video of Emily and her signature full-body smile. That’s her default smile; it’s like she gets so overcome with joy that she can’t help but react with her whole body. And it happens almost every time she smiles. She’s basically the world’s happiest baby.

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At the end of this month, Tim went back to work, so Emily started going to daycare full time. It’s going very well, as expected. Linda, our daycare provider, loves Emily to pieces (who wouldn’t?), and Alexander really likes having Emily at daycare with him.

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Speaking of daycare/working parents, I’ve been at my new job for two months now, and it’s going really well. I love the work, I have a great group of coworkers, and, most of all, I love coming home and being greeted by two kids with ear-to-ear grins. I’m also relived that pumping at work is going much better for me this time than it did the last time around. With Alexander, I could never pump enough to keep up with his appetite, and I just really hated the whole experience. With Emily, for a number of reasons, everything is 100 times better. I’m keeping up with her appetite just fine, and I really don’t mind pumping at work. I look forward to my short breaks throughout the day to unwind for a few minutes, catch up with Twitter and Facebook, and give my brain a break from all things work-related. My initial goal was to make it to 6 months nursing and pumping; that was my goal with Alexander, and I did it, but it was a struggle. Everything’s going so much better this time, though, that I have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Of course, things change, and I know there’s no guarantees that I’ll be able to keep up with it. But for now, I plan to keep nursing/pumping for as long as I can. I’d love to make it a full year, but who knows if it’ll work out that way. Regardless, I feel happy with my success thus far, and I count every day that it keeps going well as a win.

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At her 4-month checkup, Emily weighed in at 13.5 pounds and 24.5 inches long. She’s growing like a champ!

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