George Turns Eight

We are going blindly into each new phase, just hoping that we are creating good core memories and raising a good human being. Most days I go to bed thinking how I could have done better, been more present, shown more patience, etc, etc, etc.

George, however, had a big year regardless of my over-worrying. Being our first born, he continues to show me the way.

We really turned a corner in school this year. This last year came with many learning moments, advocating for his needs, and trying different approaches to his education. He has been a little wild since the day he was born, and we definitely saw him mature over the last year to settle in at school. He has learned so much, and now he is a reading machine. Tom and I cannot spell things out in code anymore because he catches on faster than I can get the letters out. He also continues to challenge me to not project my definition of success on to him. Every day, I am also learning from him to be patient and lean into alternatives to be intentional with him. As he is learning about the world, he continues to open my eyes right along with him. I am so excited to see how he continues to grow this next year.

He is starting to hone in on his interests. He is really loving soccer, and with each season, you can see his determination grow. While I am sure we will continue to see his signature helicopter move for a few seasons to come, he has started to show some real promise and skill. He joined Cub Scouts this year, and from the first meeting, I knew that we had found his thing. He has loved every activity and moment as a scout. He cannot contain his excitement at each event, and it is so fun to watch the joy he has. It’s definitely a core memory watching him place at his first Pinewood Derby contest. He also dialed in on Star Wars, Pokemon, and Minecraft this year in a way I was not prepared for. So many times this year, he has shocked me with his understanding of the complexities of these universes.

The dynamics of relationships this year made a switch. It was very evident that we had entered the big kid phase. We are now in the stage that not everyone is automatically his best friend, and friend groups are being made. You can see little pieces of his innocence falling off as we have to step up our game in the types of conversations we had. We talked through how he navigates relationships with kids who are being unkind and how to remain true to who you are even when the crowd is going in a different direction. You never want to see your kid go through these challenges of peer pressure, but we have had to have hard conversations about our actions and what they say to others. There have been moments that we watched him struggle and as much as I want to shield him forever, I cannot. At the end of the day, I am so proud that George walks confidently in who he is mostly unabashed about what others think of him. I wish I had even an ounce of his confidence and carefreeness, because he either thinks everyone loves him or he does not seem to be bothered when they don’t. We received many comments from teachers about how kind he is and how he would tell classmates no when difficult situation arose. He is also extremely loyal to his people. If he has imprinted on you, you now have a hype squad for life. It was so fun to watch him create those connections this year.

Ultimately, this kid is too cool for me. He is so smart and follows his dad in quick wit. He tugs at my heartstrings. He is hilarious and creative. He is passionate and strong-willed. He can deliver the best stories and the strongest hugs. He finds the silver lining in everything and finds the meaning to things that others may have cast away. He is always a little wild from the way his hair constantly stands straight up or the way he brings his energy into every room he enters. Nothing is simple with this kid except that he has my heart forever.

Having him changed me forever, in the best and messiest kind of ways.

Walter-20 Months

Weight:  He weighs 26 pounds. He seems heavier every time that I pick him up.

Health: He has had cold this last week. There was also a random night where he threw up on me about every 30 minutes for 3 hour span and would only sleep if I sat in a chair holding him. It’s nights like that that make you very thankful for your full night’s sleep routine.

Diet: George and Daph started being picky right after they turned two, but Wally is starting his refusal for foods now. I don’t know if it has been because he has been a little under the weather lately, but he has hardly wanted to eat anything. Eating at our house is an adventure with everyone’s special pallets. He loves all fruits and yogurt. One of his new favorite past-times is pounding his tray hard enough that everything flies off or he just flat out likes to dump it on the floor and then say uh-oh.

Clothes: He is in size 18-24 month clothes, size 6 in diapers, and size 8 shoes. He is starting to wear some 2T stuff. We have definitely moved beyond the onsie phase.

Sleeping:  For the most part he does really well sleeping. He goes to bed around 7:30-8, and then wakes up usually around 8am. He has one nap mid-day. I still won’t allow anything in his bed, and he wont sleep without a zipadee zip. He seems to be doing better when he wakes up in the middle of the night. For the most part he has been self-soothing himself back. Through our vacation and then having him in our room while we had guests during the 4th, we have found that he does not like other people to sleep in the same room as him. He would do fine in the pack and play if he was in a separate room. But if he could see your bed, no sleep for him (or you).

Likes:  He loves watching So You Think You Can Dance, and he tries to dance along. He loves his dancing Elmo, and hearing him say “Elmo” is so cute. He is obsessed with the water table, and he would stay out there all day pouring water all over himself. But interestingly enough he does not seem as fond of the pool. He likes the show Bluey, and I mean who doesn’t? He really loves when everyone comes home and will greet us all with smiles and hugs. He loves his siblings, and they can get the biggest laughs out of him. He loves drinking out of any water bottle he can find. He loved the zoo, and making all the animal noises.

Dislikes:  He is not a fan of being woken up in the morning. Same dude, same.

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Wallington Bear, Wally Olly, Waller, Wallace, Wallaby, Butters, Sweet Bean, Stinkerdoodle, Waltie baby, Cutie baby, Sweetie baby, Baby guy, and Baby Walter.

Milestones: His language has really taken off. I have lost track of all the words, and I feel like he has a new one every day. My favorite new one is “George.” He can open the fridge on his own. He got his first haircut, and he did so amazing at the barber. He can sing “Twinkle Little Star,” “Skidamarink,” and the ABCs. He is really good at putting things away including putting dishes in the sink.

Quirks: If he is not holding something, he has to be feeling fabric between his fingers. He immediately will pinch your clothes if you pick him up. You cannot go into the pantry without him being your shadow, and he will try to snag a snack while he is in there. George has started doing a nasal spray every morning to help with allergies, and Wally tries to mimic him by putting a pretend baby bottle in his nostrils.

We parents are:  in a really good place. We had the best vacation this year in Colorado Springs, and it was so fun to explore and just be with each other. Then we got to celebrate the 4th of July, which is a favorite at our house. There is nothing like it. We are both doing really great at work. There are some big things coming up at work, and I am excited to see where things end up. I am starting my 9th year at CC, and it will be my 7th year teaching there. How crazy is that?

Big kids are:  doing pretty good. They just ended summer school last week, so we are back on summer mode here. I still can’t believe that we have a 2nd grader and a kindergartner! George did so amazing in class, but on the first day he said “2nd grade is way more strict than 1st.” He just really clicked with things this last month, so hopefully that is indicative of how the next year will go. His teacher is a CC alum, so that was fun to connect with her in that way. We did go through a full allergy test this past month, and we learned that he is mostly affected by the barometric pressure than what you presume to be allergic reactions. So that was really informative, and hopefully with this new regimen, we will be able to keep him from getting sick as often. George loves hard, and we have had to work with him lately on being gently even though it seems like Wally can handle more horseplay. George often takes it a little too far energy wise. But Wally is in awe of George, so he usually doesn’t mind. He loves to cuddle with George when they watch TV together. Daphne is obsessed with Wally. Wally had a hard time when she was in school for the full day. He would try looking for her during the day. They love playing together, and Wally is always be in her space. He is definitely trying more and more to be one of the big kids.

Daisy is: doing great. Wally is smitten with her. He hugs her and pets her all the time. And he loves to feed her off his plate.

In case you are curious, here is George at twenty months and Daphne at twenty months.

I knew I loved you before I met you little dude.

Year 11

Today, Tom and I celebrate eleven years married.

As we reflected on this year we really couldn’t think of anything gigantic happening.

But then we started thinking about all the small moments we had this year.

George is really blossoming and figuring out his way at school. He is learning to read at lightning speed, and he joined Boy Scouts this year. Watching him become someone outside of our unit is such a bittersweet thing!

Daphne started and finished pre-K, and we really are starting to see her come out of her shell. She is a beautiful soul, and I cannot wait to see her in kindergarten.

And Wally. We are starting our last firsts. He is our last baby, and so with that comes all the firsts for the last time. He is the last to learn to walk in this house. He is the last for us to hear talk for the first time. We are trying to embrace all these little moments with him.

And with that, on the plus side, I am out of the breastfeeding fog. This is always a freeing moment. While I love being able to provide that experience for my babies, it really does change our life when I am not tied to that time table of feeding any more.

We also both experienced a lot through work.

Tom is now certified as a combat firearms instructor and a law enforcement jiu-jitsu instructor. He is very passionate about training officers, and these both were significant steps in his career to learn more about his field.

This last year seems like a blur to me work wise. I had so many growing moments with “other duties as assigned” and had to pivot many times in my leadership role. I took on supervising two other departments temporarily while other things at the institution shifted into place. Both of these areas where new and made me stretch in ways I could never have imagined. I led campus wide initiatives to impact culture changes, which can be hard but also fun and inspiring to navigate through the challenge. Fortunately, I am surrounded by phenomenal colleagues who help me learn each day, and I am grateful to be where I am. I am extremely proud in the work that I do, and this year, while hard, made me realize that even more.

We didn’t last long as a no-dog home, and we brought Daisy into our lives. I honestly don’t know how we could have found a better dog after Grace and Crosby. She is seriously the most docile and sweet thing who we have had to do zero training with. She just is a happy go-with-the-flow kind of dog, which perfectly fits into our crazy little family.

Being together this long is no easy feat.

It is not as simple as “just don’t give up.” Every day is its own small thing. There is always something to solve together. It could be paying down debt, who is taking Daphne to gymnastics, what new show are we going to commit to binging, or how do we advocate for our kids’ needs at school.

Marriage is fixing and deciding these things together. You pick someone that you want to do the hard stuff with, and then the good stuff is the bonus part. These decisions become more impactful when you choose someone to share them with.

We have learned that everything happens one step at a time. We didn’t just all of a sudden become married over a decade. It was a lot of little commitments to each other over the years to get here.

We still have the ability to surprise each other. Both of us are still striving every day to be better than we were the day before. So in a sense, we have never gotten truly comfortable and said this is good enough. We are still learning about each other and ourselves. We have both gone to counseling, and we are constantly looking for opportunities for growth. We make an effort with each other every day to connect in some way. And for us that is the only way that this has been successful.

15 years ago, many people considered our success a long shot (or a no shot). Just a summer romance that would sizzle out. But here we are coming off of a vacation with three kids happier than ever. Eleven years married and many more ahead!

Walter-18 Months

Weight:  He weighs 24 pounds. He looks like a lanky little kiddo, especially now that we see him in shorts every day. I love his little features.

Health: He has had an on-going runny nose these last few months. Unfortunately, I think he got my allergies just like the other two kids. He is also still cutting about 4 teeth, so I am sure that is playing into the runny nose and diaper rashes as well.

Diet: He is starting to get picky about vegetables, but he still eats really well other than that. He has not met a fruit or a carb that he doesn’t like. His favorite is blueberries, bananas, oranges, and any type of bread. He also makes it very clear when he is ready to eat, and will run to the table when we say it is meal time. He also pushes his high chair over

Clothes: He is in size 18 month clothes, size 5 in diapers, and size 5 shoes. He is starting to wear some 2T stuff. It seriously makes me so emotional changing over clothes because I see shirts that both Daphne and George have worn, and it is bittersweet to have this as a last time.

Sleeping:  For the most part he does really well sleeping. He goes to bed around 7:30-8, and then wakes up usually around 8am. He has one nap mid-day. He still is in a zipadee-zip, and I am still skiddish to leave anything else in the crib with him. The zipadee-zip is hypnotic for him. He can be crying, and then I zip him up, and he is ready to roll over and go to sleep. However, if he does wake up, he is a bear to get back down in the middle of the night…like it takes us hours and lots of DisneyPlus to get him to calm down. He is a different person in the middle of the night!

Likes:  His new favorite activity is climbing everything including on top of the kitchen table. He loves music and dancing. He is obsessed with Daphne and Daisy. He loves the outside, and I think the water table is going to be his favorite thing this summer. He likes telling you “no.”

Dislikes:  He still hates getting his diaper changed. He hates when blueberries are not on his plate. He loathes getting his hair washed.

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Wallington Bear, Wally Olly, Waller, Wallace, Wallaby, Butters, Sweet Bean, Stinkerdoodle, Waltie baby, Cutie baby, Sweetie baby, Baby guy, and Baby Walter.

Milestones: His language has exploded over the last couple weeks. He has so many new words: hello, blue, bye, don’t know, happy, wow, and apple to just name a few. My favorite though is “read,” and he will bring a book over to you and tell you to read. He is starting to really pick up on instructions and communicating back which is always really fun to watch. He has started a few tantrums…super fun. When I get home at night he runs to give me a hug. He finally started waving and running, generally not at the same time.

Quirks: He loves feeling fabric. Whenever he is near to someone, he will pinch their shirt and rub it between is fingers. He has one dimple on his left cheek, and it just melts me. He will fake laugh if you ask him to.

We parents are:  glad to have made it through the school year. I am really proud of this year for all of us. We saw some big transitions, but we still managed to make it through with more memories. Tom just got back from a training to become a Law Enforcement jujitsu instructor. He is really living out his dreams with his job, and he has some big plans with this credential. I was able to transition some work off my plate this last month. And not to toot my own horn, but I had to facilitate a discussion with the president of my institution last week, and I am feeling really proud of the result. Also we love this time of year, and the season just lifts everyone’s moods around here. We love our property, and being able to be outside more is so fulfilling for us. And we have so much going on in our garden!

Big kids are:  doing pretty good. They just ended school last week, so we are officially on summer mode here. I can’t believe that we have a 2nd grader and a kindergartner! George loves making Wally laugh, and is really good about trying to soothe him if Wally is out of sorts. Daphne is obsessed with Wally. She loves to tell me all the new things he did, and catalogs it all for me like a good caregiver would. She is constantly making up songs for him. And she loves playing kitchen with him. And the way they will cuddle up is the most endearing thing ever. He has started to grow interest in HER toys though, and we have had a few conversations about sharing with her now as the big sister.

Daisy is: doing great. Wally is her favorite, and they are so cute together. Wally has started sitting on her, and she just lays there and takes it. She is such a docile dog and so sweet with him. She also will run to the door with Wally when I ask for hugs. She is like, “Me too, me too!”

In case you are curious, here is George at eighteen months and Daphne at eighteen months.

His personality is really starting to come out as his words are forming. I love watching him interact with the world, but especially with his siblings. He is the perfect little guy for our family.

Daphne is Five!

As we rode to school today, Daphne squealed, “This is the best day of my life!”

She has been counting down the days until she turns five. One whole hand!

I truly do not have the words to express the light that this little girl exudes. But I am going to attempt anyway.

Here are five things to know about this beautiful soul.

  1. She is the best sister. She adores both of her brothers. She wants to do everything that George does. She thinks the world of him, and she easily follows along to all his interests. When it comes to Wally, she is so sweet to him and caters to his every need. She wants to entertain him and comfort him all day long. She is the perfect middle to this brother sandwich.
  2. Daphne pays attention to the tiniest of details. She loves playing with tiny things, and has a story of the why to every detail. She doesn’t forget the importance of every step of the process and is meticulous to layer every piece as elaborately as needed. It’s as though everything she touches becomes ornate.
  3. She is the biggest bucket filler. Along with paying attention to details on things, she also does this with people. She feeds into others so easily. She is always taking in people’s favorite things and interests and recalls them at later points in order to fill that person up. She is constantly trying to make things because she knows they are something we like or reminds her of her friends. She is a great gift giver and friend because of how she wants to make others feel seen.
  4. She is as stubborn as a mule. I am really getting payback on this one. She is giving me a run for my money on being stubborn. She knows how to dig her heels in when she has an opinion on something. She also does not like to be wrong, so she digs in there too just to prove a point. She doesn’t fall far from the tree on that one….She also wants to know the reason for everything, and she won’t let simple answers go. She is relentless on asking for why.
  5. At the same time, Daphne is very tenderhearted and loyal. She believes in the best in people. It has been really fun to see her at school this year and see how she is developing friendships. While she has this eternal optimism about her, it can take her a while to warm up to strangers. But once she does, she is stuck to you for life. If that wall has come down, she gives her whole self into that relationship and becomes your ride or die with her loyalty.

She is a sweet human, and I feel blessed to have her. Sometimes I feel like we are raising each other. I am definitely not the same person I was the day she was born. I am growing right alongside her.

This has been a big year for her, and she has grown so much-physically and mentally. I am constantly amazed seeing what she is capable of. I am so proud of her, and I am in awe of her.

Five whole years with this little person.