E&M: 2.5 Years

Dear Elliott and Mason,

Two and half years already.  Although all of our stages have been great, we are at an exceptionally fun time right now. You two are big enough to understand, communicate, and have the cutest individual personalities, but are young enough to still experience and give pure joy and unconditional love. At times I feel like my heart will burst with love for you when you come snuggle me and give kisses out of the blue, or do something caring like rub my shoulder when I said it was sore. At other times I feel like my head will burst when you show your independent, defiant, toddler-ness. It’s never for long, and it gives your dad and I tons of patience practicing. Your imaginations are starting to grow and you will pretend play with each other or with your toys. We took the rail off your cribs a few months ago and you two have amazed us at how good of a transition you did. Sometimes we have to still go in and lay down the law, but mostly you just talk to each other, make sure nothing has fallen out of the others bed, and laugh.

Elliott–You (and Mason) are starting to use more and more words everyday. You have even started stringing 3 and 4 words together like the other day when you said “momma play choo-choo” and “no dada blow bubble.” I love the little things that come out of your mouth. For father’s day I asked what you wanted to give Ben and you said “purple water,” or “pur-ple wa-wa.” Why? Who knows. But we made some and you proudly took it to him. We have come to realize how analytical you are and how you like a measure of control (A-type personality here we come). Asking or telling you to do something without explanation typically gives us an immediate “no,” but with just a little rationale or information and you understand and do what we ask. Trains and diggers are still your favorite and you’re starting to play more independently. I started a new job last month and now the first thing you say to me in the morning is “momma no work.” This about breaks my heart, and I will treasure it because one day you probably won’t care. You are loving, caring, shy, and goofy goofy goofy.

Mason–for the longest time you both have called me da-momma. I love it. It makes me feel like a loving mob boss. Yet, just recently you started calling me mommy…or rather, maaaaw-meeeee…very emphasized. I’m not sure where you got it, but I keep trying to get you back to momma or da-momma, but you just smile and say Mawww—meeeee. Right now you have about 9- 10 stuffed animals in your bed (pooh, tigger, bear, bunny, monkey, piglet, eeyore, aardvark, elephant pillow pet) and your pillow and blanket. You know when something is missing and you’re not happy until all of your babies are in your bed.  You are becoming a true ham. You have this fake laugh which cracks us up, and love to make animal noises. Your current favorite is the elephant noise, which you do just as loud as real elephant. When I ask you to make a baby elephant sound instead you do it twice as loud and just laugh. You love to read. This week it’s the oo-oo-oo-ooo book that you got from Aunt Katie and family for your birthday. That would be Curious George. These are the longest stories we have read and you patiently sit through them and then want more. Every now and then you get upset before bed because you want “mo book.”–Not because you’re postponing sleep, but because you genuinely love books. We find it very hard to tell you no when it comes to this one so most of the time we oblige until it really is the “last one.” You still love your trains, but are just fascinated by “diggers.” You also can pedal your trike like a champ. It took you about a month, but then we couldn’t stop you from bigger and better things….and we hopefully never will.

There are times when both still want to be held like babies, or just have us hold you while you lay long rather than wrap your legs around us. When this happens I always am surprised at how long your legs go and that you are now longer than half of my body. I celebrate you getting bigger, but cherish your smallness. You are no longer babies, but you are my babies.

Cannon Beach, July 2015

Cannon Beach, July 2015

Concert Park Night

Concert Park Night

Sunday mornings with momma

Sunday mornings with momma

Love momma

Another year of things to come

The past year has obviously been unlike any other. On this day (New Year’s Eve) last year, we found out that Baby B (Mason) had stopped growing and would need to get delivered within the week. The news that the babies were coming early was not surprising, but the reason why was unexpected. I remember being so scared, basically since the doctor said that the reason they had to come early…and I quote… is “because we don’t want your baby to die.” The fear of the unknown, the anticipation of their birth, wondering who they were, what genders we would be raising, and everything else made the last day of last year one I will never forget. Yet, here we are one year later and now we are anticipating the boys walking, their first birthdays, and all the other things yet to come. We will ring in the new year with the boy’s first birthday and also a trip for mom and dad–a celebration of the past year if you will.

Two days after the boys turn 1, Ben and I are off to Hawaii. This is something we have been talking about since we got married, and now five years later we are finally going. When we booked the trip (oh, 8 months ago), I knew we would be ready for a week to ourselves. However, I never imagined how tough it would be to leave the boys. My original thought was that they’ll be one, it will be perfect, and it will…it’s just that they are so darn cute and fun right now. But I know once we get there it will be great. The boys will be well taken care of (with the grandmas) and Ben and I will have a nice time to reflect, connect, explore, relax, and then be the only two people ever happy to leave Hawaii and come home to snuggle the boys. And after one year, 6 six days will fly by like crazy (at least that is what I keep telling myself).

Christmas was great-full of love, family, and friends. The boys loved, LOVED, the trees and lights. Pointing, hoping, and I swear saying “tee tee tee” were so great…as was their trip to see the big guy. I could see the picture before we even took it. Mason hamming it up and Elliott in hysterics. Elliott started out crying, but warmed up…kind of:

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They made out like bandits and love their new car. It was a great end to the year and a prelude of great things to come.

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Happy New Year and  Happy 2014.

Pure Joy

As we get older, there are fewer and fewer things and/or opportunities that are brand new–brand new and so exciting that they bring on pure joy. The boys get this experience almost daily. Everything is new. Most everything is exciting. For example, I bought their Christmas present the other day. I’m sure when it’s all put together they will have fun with it (Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car), but to be honest, they had serious fun just standing up and playing on and around the box.

Anyways, the weather has been unbelievably beautiful this October so the other night Ben and I took the boys to the park and put them into the swings. Oh the excitement! They giggled and smiled, and Elliott had his tongue out the whole time. And although we don’t get these experiences first hand, Ben and I in turn got something just as rewarding watching them–pure joy.

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Two things for me, not momma

A friend of mine asked Ben and I when the babies were around 5 months old what the most surprising thing was about parenthood. We laughed at first and said “how much you talk about poop,” because honestly…that is all we talk about sometimes. But after we thought about it for a minute longer, we both mentioned how life-changing it is to your sense of self. Everyone knows that having a baby (or babies) is life-changing. You know things will never be the same. But until it happens, and time passes, you don’t truly understand how your life is not your own, and will never be the same as it was again. That being said, we don’t want to go back to the way it was without the dudes. We wouldn’t change anything. And we are not unhappy in any way. You just can’t grasp the change until it happens, and even then, it is hard to grasp.

So with this in mind, for the past couple of months we have had numerous talks about being intentional with our time…intentional about our time as a family, couple, and as individuals. And this in itself is hard. Most of the time, time, is fleeting. But as the babies have gotten a little older, there have been two things I have started to reclaim for myself…myself as in Angela…not momma. And to be honest, taking some time back for me, overall makes me Angela, a better momma. So the two things? Trust me, they are no earth-shattering, but they are important.

1. Reading books. I love to read. I could (and have) spend a whole day engrossed in a book. But after the babies were born, it felt like I was wasting my time. I mean, there were babies to take care of, and a house to keep clean, and of course…sleep to be had. But after I gave up the mid-night pump, I realized that I could stay up about 30 minutes after the babies went to bed and still get a full nights sleep. I started off familiar with the Harry Potter series, followed by more popular fiction Gone Girl and Cuckoo’s Calling (apparently I was in a J.K. Rowling mood), and am now back to random stuff from the library and suggestions from friends. It’s only a couple of chapters a night, but it feels good to be reading once again.

2. Running. Hands down, the most important and helpful choice I have made. It wasn’t easy to start again. The only real reason I started was because Miss Jordan and I decided to do the Portland 1/2 marathon (way back in February?) and one doesn’t enter into that distance lightly. It took months of sporadic runs to get back into it…because I was TIRED, and in new motherhood with the running versus nap scenario, nap ALWAYS wins. But as the race drew nearer, and I started to sleep more, AND Jordan started training, Abby-girl and I started hitting the pavement more frequently. Although many days it was (and is) hard to get out the door, running helps me get back in shape (and Abby too), gives me a mental/emotional/physical outlet, lets me have some “Angela-time (no I do not push the babies)” allows me to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, and again, gives me a sense of self. Miss Jordan and I crossed the finish line on Sunday exactly 9 months to the day the babies were born. I am so very proud of my friend who had never run before she started training, and equally, I am happy to have been able to do it with her.

There are still things that I don’t do very often that I used to, such as watch movies, but all things will happen in time. Right now, I am just enjoying my two things…and of course…my family and our new life.

First Mother’s Day

Nearing the end of my pregnancy, I would take walks with Abby around the neighborhood and think about what I hoped my babies would be like. For example, I want them to be kind, respectful, adventurous, passionate, smart, athletic, honest, and outdoorsy. I want them to completely understand equality, so much so that they don’t question another person’s differences. I want them to have an open and honest relationship with Ben and I. The list goes on and on, and someday I’ll probably write it down so I can show the boys when they are older, but I never really thought about what I wanted to be like as a mother.

As my first Mother’s Day is tomorrow, I am now reflecting on what it means to be “momma” and although as the boys get older this list will change, here is what I hope for so far. I want to be a momma that:

  • raises kind, respectful boys who understand that respect is not something you can demand, but is something that is earned. And to gain respect, you need to give it.
  • creates an environment where differences are celebrated, not questioned. My boys can be anything they want (or inherently are), and I want them to think that way of others.
  • teaches the importance of healthy living in all aspects of life.
  • fosters a playful house where getting dirty outdoors is recommended, and screen time (such as video games) is the exception, not the rule.
  • is adventurous and shows the boys that trying new things is empowering, and even though sometimes we fail, we learn from those experiences.
  • is not afraid to see her boys fail at times or show them that sometimes momma’s can fail too.
  • is not afraid to say no, and understands that children thrive in a home with boundaries and rules, as long as they make sense.
  • knows that rules are sometimes meant to be bent or broken.
  • shows the importance of helping others and giving.
  • gives unconditional love, and teaches boys that affection (and at times showing weakness), is not a sign of weakness, but of confidence in one’s self.
  • listens and reflects instead of reacts.
  • teaches them independence and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions.
  • shows the value of family and friends.
  • plays games, reads books, eats family dinner at the table, and talks about current events and affairs.
  • and most importantly, always loves with her whole heart, celebrates the tiniest of moments, recognizes the need for patience, and lets the little things roll.

Again, there are many more things that I want to be as a momma, but I think this is a good start. I have an exceptional mother and grandmother that laid a good foundation, along with many other “second” mothers out there.  I know that I can always lean on any of them for guidance and direction.

Four generations: (from left to right) my grandma Gail, mom Terri, late great-grandma Olga, and me

Four generations: (from left to right) my grandma Gail, mom Terri, late great-grandma Olga, and me

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas out there.

Love, this first-time momma