Sunday, October 7, 2012


I am thinking about archiving this blog. Its original intention was documentation of our babies and sharing with the world our experience since it may have been helpful to others. Also a venue for sharing photos and video with family and friends. If anyone wants to be friends with me on Facebook, I post pretty regularly about the kids, including photos, and now that I have a new phone, potentially video. I am considering starting a new blog where I just share my experiences. As our babies become sentient beings I feel an obligation to protect their privacy, but I also realize I miss writing. I don't want to pull a Time Magazine where I document forever something personal and potentially embarrassing for my little studleys. So, when I have a chance (who knows, maybe there will be a Christmas post after all!) I am going to archive this bad boy, and start up a new blog that is all about my family, but mainly me. If anyone has ideas on clever and witty blog titles, please share! Just what we need right, another Mommy blog ;-)


Is it Fall already! When I had Gwen I went in to labor when it was summer, and came home when it was Fall. I think I will always feel that way now about the transition from Summer to Fall. Here are the kids with pumpkins from our garden. We did not plant pumpkins, but three productive plants and two mini pumpkin plants all popped up as volunteers. We went today to buy some plants from our winter garden; out with the old and in with the new. We celebrated the kids birthdays last weekend with a ridiculously huge party. But it was amazing. Our circle of friends has grown so much, especially as our friends with babies have more and more babies! We are well into the new school year and actually have a schedule that we keep to since Gwen's class starts at 8:30am M/W/F, and Graham has to be dropped off at 8am (ish) Mondays, my work day in Gwen's class. Parent Participation preschool is much more intense than when she was just 2 years old and it was Mommy and Me class (Graham and I do that Friday's now in the same classroom with the same teacher's aid). Being in a class with as many as 24 4year olds, 8 parent helpers, a teach and an aid is a bit insane. Don't get me wrong, it is very organized with a nice balance of 'choice' time and 'table time' (assigned activities), but the class is just buzzing with energy and I find that exhausting. Since I have gone back to school as well, full time to finish my Masters in Public Administration at NDNU, we have hired a sitter for the nights I have class. We made it almost 4 years without paying anyone to watch the kid(s), and what a luxury we have been missing out on. The sitter arrives at 4pm giving me ample time to finish getting ready, leave early to avoid too much traffic, and have time to catch up on my reading (or rest my eyes) before class. This is a welcome change from this summer when I was late almost every class since Spencer had to rush home from work, ditching a 5pm meeting. And if the kitchen sink is clean, she will wash whatever dishes are on the counter :-) The kids seem to have adjusted well to this new change (though Gwen pointed out the sitter is no Malia), and it has forced us to have a routine since the sitter has to feed the kids and get them ready for bed. We now finally have a more reasonable bedtime (usually asleep by 8:30pm or so), and they wake up consistently around 7am (bummer on weekends). Gwen refuses to nap and I have stopped pushing it during the week, so she probably is getting the minimum of sleep needed, but it seems to be working plus or minus a tantrum here and there. Graham continues to wake every few hours to nurse....not sure what to do about that. The kids had their well child visits and Dr. G gave me an earful on how I need sleep- no sh*t. If I knew the secret on how to get Graham to sleep through the night without screaming like he has been left to die, I would of course be a well rested. I suppose I have, literally, made my bed and have to lie on the bottom bunk now with a man-child suckling at my teet, then requesting "Otherside?" I also got a talking to about how big our biggest kid is- off the charts for weight and height Miss Gwen is. Graham is off the charts for height, with his little string bean self hanging out around 75th percentile for weight. We boiled it down to watching portion sizes, cutting down on snacks between meals (not cutting them out, just not more than one), and watching for hidden sugar and calories. While I am happy to not have to buy two types of milk anymore (I am going to start getting 1% for both), I have been second guessing myself and eating habits. Which is really annoying since I have been taking pride in our diet. I will continue to be mindful of excessive sugar, and will not let the kids snack while I am making breakfast/lunch/dinner (Hello! of course they won't be hungry for their meal then), other than that: whatever. I am supposed to be reading my statistics book, so back to the grindstone!


We kicked off Summer with Father's Day and Spencer's Birthday. I started this blog post way back when, an never posted it. I took two summer classes that both kicked my butt. I had three weeks off before the Fall semester started and worked on planning for their big birthday bash, and went to Yosemite with my sister and her family. The kids both did swimming lessons and learned a lot. Gwen can put her face in the water (with goggles) and jump into the pool (with goggles and holding her nose closed with one hand). Graham learned how to pull himself out on the side of the pool, and then safely slide in from the side of the pool. He is ridiculously strong, just like his sister.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Graham's 20 Month Update

 At 20 months, Graham is certainly closer to being a two year old than a baby. As I watched this sixth month old baby boy try to sit on a ride on toy with his Mother's help at a recent playdate, it dawned on me, that is how I envision Graham. While he often seeks my help and reassurance, he is becoming his own self. With that, we are starting to have some growing pains. Mother's Day weekend we decided to gently start the process of night weaning. This means I no longer nurse Graham to sleep at bedtime. Spencer puts him down and cuddles with him until he falls asleep.  If Graham wakes up between bedtime and midnight, Spencer helps him back to sleep. Our best night was a few nights ago, Graham slept 4.5 hours all by himself and without nursing. Friday and Saturday nights (when Spencer doesn't have to work the next day) Spencer tends to Graham the whole night, sending him to me anytime after 5am to nurse. There has been very little crying (seriously no more than 5 minutes), and very little protest. I am combining this with free access to the boob during the day, so that he  (hopefully) feels assured he can have Mama's milk whenever he needs it, just not at night anymore. This has led to quite a bit of comfort nursing during the day. His language continues to just blossom, and he is starting to express more concepts rather than just parroting words. He pointed to our floor-mat in the garage that has dog foot prints on it and unprompted said "oval" about one of the shapes that indeed looks like an oval. Out of the blue he pointed to Gwen's purple sock, and said, "purple." At the park we were looking at a rock with a plaque on it since Gwen wanted to know what it said, and he started pointing at various letters and number saying, "Two. Two. Two." He doesn't know his ABCs and 123s, but he knows those symbols mean something. If you ask him a question, he will say. "Ummmm..." like he is considering the answer. I wish I had taught him more sign language though, since he wants to communicate more than what he is able to, and that is starting to lead to some frustration and tears. I thought he might be interested in starting to use the potty, but I was mistaken. I let him wear underwear around the house the other morning and he became hysterical when I tried to change him out of his wet undies into dry undies. He clenched to his wet underwear and didn't want me to take them away. He was also confused or upset about having peed on the floor. We did this twice before I decided to break the cycle and put him in the bath. I thought I could potty train him like I did Gwen, but he is a different animal. He is very sensitive about himself and not wanting to make a mess. And I now know he is not physiologically ready since he piddled on the floor a handful of times in an hour. One of Graham's favorite things to do is forage in the garden where there is a plethora of fava beans and snow peas. This is often what he has for his afternoon snack and I love the idea of our kids foraging in the backyard, some of my fondest memories as a child are eating warm tomatoes off the vine, munching on green beans, and stealing strawberries.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sophisticated Girl

For weeks Gwen has been requesting short hair like Graham. I have been asking clarifying questions, "You mean hair like so-and-so (girl with a bob)?" "No. Short like Graham." So when I asked Malia to cut Gwen's hair shoulder length, I was really guessing that was what Gwen wanted (I knew it was as short as I wanted to go). Malia did an amazing job, and Gwen loves her new hair style. It seems to be exactly what she wanted and she was so happy when she first saw herself in the mirror. This is her first real expression of self (besides choosing what clothes to wear, which she does everyday). Her new sophisticated hair seems to have affected her behavior too. Besides looking older, she seems to be acting older, in a good way. But before the haircut, I was chatting with a Dad at the park about our kids and he guessed Gwen was a kindergartener. His daughter was just a few months older than Gwen, but he commented Gwen just seemed so much older, "the way she carries herself." I am starting to think we are over the awfulness that was three, and that as we get closer to four, maybe we can all enjoy each others company more. Gwen truly is a pleasure to be around, when not acting crazy and driving others insane.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh Boy Oh Boy, Part II

Graham had his first haircut care of Malia. We put his hair in a little pony tail and she cut that off for me to put in his baby book, and then she trimmed all his baby wisps off. He looks like such a little boy now! Today he had his 18 month well baby visit (finally!). He is not quite as little as I thought. He weighed in at 26lbs (45th percentile) and is 2' 10" (92nd percentile!). I have a feeling he might have some strong tall/skinny genes and is likely to end up like his Uncle Arin (complete with eye lashes to die for).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Oh Boy, oh Boy!

 Two years ago today we found out we were having a boy, and recently it has become clear, besides the fact he has a penis, Graham is all boy! However, he spends most of his time with big sister Gwen. I have come to realize, I am not his first teacher, she is. Graham is learning how to play, communicate, fight, love, get in trouble, etc, from his big sister. Graham may look to me or Spencer for reassurance, but he looks to her for direction. Yes, it is frightening. This is so much so that while he seems to favor his right hand, he often uses his left hand, mimicking his left handed sister. So, it is not unheard of for Graham to request to wear a tutu like Gwen and her friends. He has asked for ponytails more than once, his hair is just too short (though he is working on a wicked mullet). I started realizing my baby was a boy when doing the downward dog pose toddlers like to do he put his hands out, balancing on his head and giggling as if to say, "Look Ma. No hands!" I don't know how he knows how to do this, no one else in the house does it, but he will take cars and pretend like they are driving around making car noises and everything. He likes to kick balls, throw balls, and hug them. Big sister was and continues to be a very active girl, but Graham has a streak of recklessness about him. He is continuously confounded that he can't climb the ladder to her top bunk (his legs are just too short). So recently he figured out how to scale the play kitchen like a rock climber to get to it. I moved the kitchen a foot away from the bed, and he continues to try and bridge the gap, with no fear of the consequences (he slipped the other day and swung underneath the bed in a trapeze move Spencer witnessed). When Graham falls, unless he has hurt himself, he doesn't cry. He saves face by pretending he meant to be down on the ground inspecting the floor. Spencer thinks he often walks around holding a little car so that when he inevitably falls (usually running around a corner), he has something to pretend to play with while he mentally prepares to get back up. Recently he has taken to bringing a beloved object to bed. This has included his little brick red matchbox mustang and his little tonka firetruck. He is losing his sweet musty puppy smell his little baby head had when he got out of the bath, and more often than not smells like plain old musty puppy. I can only hope my sweet baby boy keeps the sweetness inside him.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gwen is 3 1/2 and No Fool

For a few months I have been thinking about all the things I would include in this post commemorating Gwen being closer to 4 than 3 years old. She continues to be amazing of course, and challenging, of course, and we wouldn't have her any other way. At bedtime her and Spencer have been making up stories, instead of reading, and this has blown her mind. Sometimes she gets angry when he makes up something that is 'wrong' but she is starting to get the concept. Just this morning she was 'reading' a book out loud to Graham. She had never read this particular book (it is an early reader), so she was truly making it up. Her and Spencer also have a game inspired by the Down by The Bay song where they say ridiculous things, and then laugh hysterically about it. So sometimes Gwen will randomly say something like, "A giraffe wearing roller skates!" And then laugh hysterically. Speaking of hysterics, she has been super emotional lately. Graham is pretty obsessed with bellies and skin, so if he sees her naked belly he takes the opportunity to smack it enthusiastically. Of all the reactions, her immediate one is to start bawling very dramatically. Times of frustration, she speeds so fast to tears I often honestly don't know why she has become so distraught. I am trying to be gentle about this, but this is a trying stage, if only because I don't know how to help her (and crying is like nails on a chalkboard to me). I have also noticed her be a bit moody with her friends, shunning some, feeling shunned, and I think this is all normal, but it reminds me more of a 13 year old than 3 year old. I will ask her after a playdate where she seemed to be having a great time, "Did you have fun today?" And she will say more often than not, "Not really." We are honestly horrified of a hormonal Gwen.
I take Baby Boot Camp classes at a nearby park that also has a dog park, so there are always people walking their dogs. Gwen decided she should take her dog to the park too. She often talks about how we should get a dog. Most recently, after reading Madeline's Rescue, she says she wants a dog with babies in her. So then the babies can be born and we can give them to people who have never had a dog before.
Gwen has vacuumed a few times, and is actually fairly thorough :-)
This is her favorite statue at the SF Zoo. She is cleaning it with a baby wipe.
After the shenanigans of the little kitchen, I brought it back and her and Graham finished 'cleaning it' and she promised to never cook with real food in it again. Often while I am cooking she will come into the kitchen and ask, "Mom, is there anything I can do to help?" I try and find something she can do to encourage this awesomeness.
With Grandpa Eric at the SF Zoo.
Quiet time in her room. Most days she naps, but once or twice a week she just doesn't seem to need or want one. As she transitions to not napping as much, her bedtime gets a little earlier. We are so close to being able to put both kids to sleep at the same time!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Half Baby, Half Man Child

Graham is 18 months today, the first day of Spring, which is so appropriate because he continues to blossom. His language is just gushing from his little mouth. He can call two friends by name (little Maya, and Baschy for Sebastian) and two of his favorite big friends, Malia and Farkas. He calls Gwen sister (more like teh-ter). All other children he calls baby, all women Mamas, and all men Daddys (or man). He is also working on what animals are what, and the sounds they make. His new favorite animal is pig, but he is yet to oink. Graham continues to be quite particular about what he eats, and is not a fan of sitting down for long leisurely meals. Though, he blessed Spencer and I with one this past weekend while he slept in his stroller while we ate at Dish Dash with friends (such a treat!). He understand the concept of clean up now (and even says it), and will put his dirty dish in the sink, and get a towel to clean up his mess, or a napkin to wipe his hands or face (he is a Virgo after all). We have started listening to Music Together cds in the car again, and Graham has started singing along a little and doing the tonal exercises, which is super cool, and makes me sad I can't do Music Together classes with him (just doesn't fit our busy schedule). He has also started riding the tricycle. His legs are a bit short to try and pedal but he is good about keeping his feet up and staying balanced. He has a bit of a daredevil in him and will try and stand up on the front wheel while being pushed, laughing and giggling. He also will stand up on his ride-on dinosaur; I see skateboarding in his future. He enjoys playing with Gwen and her friends, but a side effect of that is he has started hitting (luckily he is too small to hurt anyone physically, but it is still upsetting all around). Graham has also started saying No, which can be helpful, and also really annoying. It has been a bit exacerbating for me to have to switch gears between interacting with Gwen versus him. I feel like we are starting to see a bit of the boy in Graham. He is super into cars and says choo-choo now for his train. He is still in love with books and rather than always insisting that we read to him, he has taken to flipping through his books himself. He continues to sleep in the bottom bunk every night, and has his one nap in the car or our bedroom. He sleeps longer stretches at night (about 3 hours), and I am sure that would improve if we night weaned him, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. The boy is obsessed with the boob. He is indeed, half baby, half man child.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Graham 17 months: The Shenanigans

Graham has really come into his own this last month. Etched in memory will always be the The Little Kitchen Shenanigans of 2012 when Gwen and Graham raided the fridge so they could 'cook' in their little kitchen. I accidentally fell asleep (and the kids were so kind as to shut my bedroom door); I woke to the sound of liquid splashing in the bathroom. Gwen and Graham were on stools standing at the bathroom sink gleefully stirring their soup of yogurt, Parmesan cheese, and butter. I give Graham credit for raiding and destroying the fridge (see below) and for helping himself to an almost dozen eggs (see below). After this episode of independence, creativity, and cunning, we decided Graham is a big boy and doesn't need to sleep in our bedroom anymore. The kids got bunk beds and he now sleep on the bottom bunk (IKEA loft bed with a mattress tossed on the floor of the 'loft'), and since it is a twin sized mattress, I can easily snuggle with him as needed. Which means I spend most of every night sleeping with him on the bottom bunk, which is fine, he is pretty cuddly and that IKEA mattress is surprisingly comfortable. The bunk beds have been great, except for 3 nights of teething, when he and I slept in our bedroom, the kids have slept together in their own room since we got them. Now that Graham's last tooth (his bottom right eye tooth) has erupted, he has all his teeth (except 2nd year molars) and I anticipate his sleeping to get much better. So far the best night was me being in my room until 4:30am (though I had already nursed him back to sleep a few times). Graham has taken to climbing on top of the kitchen table and trying to climb into his seat by himself. Alternatively he has protested sitting in his seat, demanding to sit in Gwen's booster, or stand next to her on the bench we have at the kitchen table. So we have banished the infant seat, and are in the market for a booster for him. Graham continues to be obsessed with books, Are You My Mother, Little Blue Truck, The Eye Book, being some of his favorites. He has learned some animal signs (pig, frog, and cat which looks nothing like the actual sign for cat) and animal sounds (moo, meow, and growling which he uses for dinosaurs, alligators/crocodiles, and anything else with teeth). He said his first real sentance, "Bye bay-bee" to his little newborn friend Willamina. He says dinosaur, puppy, cat, pretzel (one of his favorite snacks), and has figured out how to scream at the top of his lungs to make himself known. He used to scream only when hurt, now he screams if Gwen takes something from him, if he wants something she has, or if he just feels wronged somehow. He has taken to screaming hysterically when getting strapped in his carseat. He has figured out how to lock his knees and brace his legs against the back seat so it is impossible to strap him in. I don't have much to say about this except I find it very disheartening. Now that he is such a proficient walker, on the verge of learning how to run, he insists on walking everywhere. We had to buy him a second pair of little moccasin type shoes since he refuses to wear rubber soled shoes, and he walked all the way home from downtown, one and a half miles. Thankfully he likes to hold my hand. We had a few rainy days and I got him to wear an old pair of rubber boots, twice, but the novelty wore off. Even though he is more of a toddler than baby, he is still super sweet. When we are out and about he gets compliments on how smiley and happy he is, and how long and gorgeous his eyelashes are. Graham is super awesome and I continue to be super in love with him (despite The Shenanigans).

Friday, February 3, 2012

GWEN! Tipping Point

Gwen has reached some sort of tipping point the last few weeks (which I realize is really the last couple months) and it caught me off guard. She is bigger. She gets hysterical when clothes and shoes that used to fit her are tight screaming, "I"M A SIZE 5 NOW!" I was starting to think she was developing a sensory disorder. She is even more independent, more helpful, more playful, and of course smarter. This has made it that much more confusing to me when she clings to my legs crying for either an unknown reason (since I can't understand her through her hysterics), or answers, "NO!" to everything I suggest. Being three years old is apparently really hard. Being a parent to a three year old is down right crazy making. The mood swings are intense and it makes me dread the teenage years. She keeps throwing back at me the things I say to her, which is infuriating. It took me a few weeks to realize that I was allowing myself to be drawn into power struggles repeatedly, and that it was causing my beautiful sweet Gwen to be a brat. There. I said it. Well I have taken a step back and am dusting off all the tools in my parenting toolbox, and trying to take out some that don't work so well (during this crisis we resorted to bribes and threats which are satisfying to throw out in the moment, but not very effective in the long run). I have to remind myself she is only three years old. I am the parent, which doesn't mean I am in charge, but I am responsible for the tone of the conversation. Mama sets the mood, whether I like that fact or not. The tipping point for me was when she was screaming about something and I put my finger in my ears to block out the noise. She got very upset by this, and I told her honestly she was hurting my ears. I was acting like a child, and it dawned on me in that moment that someone who wasn't three years old had to take control of the situation. Now that I have adjusted to this growth in development, I am able to appreciate my three year old a little more. She has started sleeping through the night, and now sleeps on the top of the bunk bed she shares with Graham. She is such a good big sister. Graham absolutely adores her, and her possessions, and what ever she is doing, and more often than not, she is very inclusive with him. And this month she finally graduated to being able to go to gymnastics with the big girls (class without parent participation- yay!). I am constantly amazed at her and who she is and I am so grateful to be her Mom.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Graham 16 months

So my boycott of the bog didn't last long. My Mommy guilt kicked in when I realized Graham was 16 months and I needed to do an update to document his amazing progress. He is definitely a toddler now and letting us know all about it. The first time he threw himself on the ground arching his back and screaming like a banshee, I was a bit thrown aback. Who was this possessed child? Where was my sweet baby boy? And when would he stop acting crazy? He is communicating a lot more and says bath, baby, please (and signs), more (and signs), poo, he even says bless you when someone sneezes. His frustration peeks when he can't communicate what he wants, or he just can't have what he wants. Standing on the table is a safety issue and not negotiable. Graham seems to have graduated from trying to pull people's noses off, and has started giving his friends hugs (so sweet!). He is obsessed with books right now. We must have a few dozen little board books and he will go through them, grab his favorites and one by one bring them to you. He thrusts the book at you saying, "Thank You." If this is followed by trying to sit on your lap, he wants you to read the book. If you don't take the book he repeats louder and louder, "Thank You. Thank You. THANK YOU." This has been going on for weeks now, but most recently I have come across him 'reading' to himself. He will be sitting with a pile of his books, a favorite in hand (usually upside down) and babbling away to himself while turning the pages. Graham is a bit particular about what he eats, which has become more of concern since he has cut back on nursing. He seems to be quite partial to goldfish (or any cheese cracker) and pirates booty (or any salted puffed item). I consider these items to be baby junk food so we only eat them at parties or playdates. At mealtime I feed him what everyone else is eating, and more often than not, he doesn't eat.... spaghetti, quesadillas, yogurt, grapes, blueberries are always welcomed. Other than that it is hit or miss. He seems to want to eat what I am eating, or what Gwen is eating out of our particular bowl with our utensil. I have found him at the table eating my leftover lunch (something he refused to touch during lunch time). Something else exciting is he has developed an interest in the potty (more so than stuffing it with toilet paper). He actually told me he pooped the other day, saying, "Poo. Poo," and pulling at his diaper. When Gwen or I go to the bathroom he says, "Poo," and points to the potty. He also likes to watch me flush his poop down the toilet when I plop it from his cloth diaper. When the weather warms up we might try some naked time to facilitate using the potty. Graham has more or less dropped his morning nap (of course he had one today). Around 18 months we are going to consider night weaning him in preparation for his move into Gwen's room. We shall see.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Friend Me

Hi friends. I have been debating whether or not to keep up the blog and have decided to put it on hold. Since I also like to keep up with friends, I am on facebook and enjoy browsing my 'friends' updates and photos- maybe you will too? These last few months there has been a lot of redundancy between the blog and my facebook updates, and now that I am going back to school part time, Mama doesn't have time to do both. I also am not sure how comfortable I feel with this blog being completely open to the public, while I have vetted all my Facebook friends. I know some of you (like Spencer) may refuse on principal to get a Facebook account, and that is okay. No pressure. Email me, call me, let's get together in person. I will revisit the blog in a few months. Cheers!