Friday, August 29, 2014


"What would you like for breakfast?" I asked William. With great certainty he replied, "Cottage cheese, toast, and eggs." And he ate it all!

While dressing Will, I told him, "You have to wear your sweatshirt. It's chilly." Immediately he began to whimper, "All done my sweatshirt! All done my sweatshirt, mama."

William dumped some water onto the floor. I handed him a rag and told him to go clean up the mess. He grabbed the towel and happily ran off to comply. A minute later I heard him cry, "I did it! You did it? Good job Will!"

While William and Barrett were playing together on the floor, I rounded the corner to find William's leg thrown over Barrett's back. "Ride Barrett?" he asked with a smile.

"Have some mama water cup?" William asked me, pointing at my bottle. "No, honey" I replied. "Your water cup is right in front of you." Immediately he responded, clearly imitating me, "Mine! My water cup!" He's done this before! How can I explain to him that I'm not being selfish?

When Barrett woke up from his nap, Will kissed him on the head and in a singsong voice said, "Hiiiii, Bawwett. Did you try to sweep?"

During lunch, as Barrett looked adoringly at Will, Will cried, "Bayyett! No see Will!"
(Will alternately pronounces it 'Bawwett' and 'Bayyett'... and sometimes just 'Bett'.)

Baby Barrett

Baby Barrett
I don't put a whole lot on here about Barrett. He's not the neglected middle child, I promise.

Will's verbal and social development is happening so quickly, and the personality that is emerging more each day is astonishing. In contrast, Barrett is teething, trying to crawl, and starting solids - things that most babies do around this time.

Still, my love for Barrett is completely astounding. I don't know how it's possible to feel like I loved Will with all my heart, and then to have Barrett and feel the same way about him at the same time.

When Will was born, I had been in labor for 27 hours. I had pushed for an hour and a half. I was expecting a girl, though hoping a bit for a boy. He came out, a blond little boy, at the peak of that exhausting mountain, and I instantly and ferociously bonded to him. (I remember that the sight of Brian feeding him a bottle two months later made me jealous.)

I remember sitting and sobbing as I looked at my newborn William, just broken with the feeling of relief that nothing had happened to him. I mean, SOBBING. I think I've said before that I believe that God gave me this incredibly strong, instant bond with Will because the weeks and months ahead would be a tough transition for me. Nursing, losing my "old life," and jumping right into selling our house to leave NC - it was a lot. But nothing could shake my love for my baby.

When Barrett was born, I had been in serious labor for only a few hours. I pushed for fifteen minutes. I was expecting a boy (and hoping a bit for a boy, too!). He came out, and it was like, "Whoa! You're already here! And you ARE a boy!" I was in a daze. I couldn't believe he had come so quickly. Don't get me wrong - I loved him immediately. It was just so different.

Back home, he felt like the new little stranger. William had already been around for 21 months. Barrett - whose name we had JUST settled on before his birth - was this dark-haired, darkly-complected little guy who spit up easily and loved to snuggle. I didn't KNOW him yet! How strange it is, to love someone whom you don't know yet!

(Not to mention, my postpartum transition was SO MUCH EASIER. (The baby weight stubbornly stayed on, and it took me about five months to get back to my prepregnancy weight, which is STILL several pounds over where I want to be... but that's a different story. I'm happy with my weight right now.) Besides that, the hormones were not nearly as ruthless. There weren't any bouts of sitting and looking at my baby and sobbing my heart out in relief. It was just a sweet, calm, sleepless time.)

I would describe my love for Barrett as a blooming love, still as intense, but growing each day as I appreciate him more and more for who he is. I just appreciate him so much. I don't know what I did to get such a laid-back, happy guy, but he makes my life with two SUCH a joy. He is a wonderful sleeper, and has been sleeping through the night for 10-12 hours since he was five weeks old. NOT ONCE has he broken that streak, though I keep expecting him to, and GOSH I wouldn't blame him if he needed to eat in the middle of the night! When his naps started becoming more irregular, that was okay too, because he's happy wherever I put him - jumper, command center, Ergo on my back, floor with toys.

He's been sick and teething lately - both at the same time - and the only way I could tell is because it interrupted his daily sleep and because he couldn't breathe through his nose. He's still smiling through the sniffles, and I'm thankful for his sake that it seems to be ending. He is SO SMILEY. He's a ticklebug, too. He has a great giggle that can be easily evoked with a tiny tap on his collarbone.

He's chubby, but small. He gained his birthweight back (plus more) in three or four days, and I thought he'd be the bigger boy for sure. His first well visit measured him at the 90th percentile. His second visit put him in the 50th-75th, which surprised me as I've been used to William always being in the 90th. After that, I lessened my dieting efforts a bit to make sure he had plenty of milk. I nursed him as much as I could. He still spit up a bit after every feeding (which William never did) but was still so happy, so I didn't worry too much about it. The third well visit, at six months, put him in the 25th-50th. I almost cried when Sarah, our nurse, told me that. But our doctor was not concerned and encouraged me to relax about it. "He is obviously happy and thriving. A lot of kids move up and down the chart. Just follow the trend."

I know I shouldn't care about this so much, but there is something so personal about the health of your kids, especially when they are breastfeeding. There's a lot of guilt and second-guessing involved. Is Barrett hungry, and I don't know it because he's just so happy all the time? Am I putting my desire to lose weight over the health of my baby? Am I exercising/pumping/eating/drinking (coffee/water)/nursing... too much/too little?

That night, I started him on solids. Becca had been telling me at camp that I needed to do it. "He's eyeing our food!" she exclaimed. "You can tell he wants it!" I promised her I'd do it as soon as I got a blender. Well, blender or no blender, after that pediatrician visit, he was on solids. (It takes a couple extra steps to food-process it and then Magic-Bullet it, but that's what's happening now.)

I didn't start Will on solids until he was almost eight months. He was so big with just nursing, I figured, why stop a good thing? Plus, I wanted to do Baby Led Weaning with him, and I figured the older he was, the better and easier it would be.

I've been doing purees with Barrett, and let me tell you - that is the WAY TO GO. For me, anyway. It's a no-brainer. I won't ever do BLW with another baby. With purees, it takes a couple hours to make a month's worth of food. I know exactly what's in it and I can make it taste yummy, and I know he's getting a balanced blend of what he needs. At every meal I just pull out a bit of what I want to feed him, and after a minute in the microwave, it's ready when we sit down to dinner. There's no last-minute panic of, "Oh no! We're having chewy venison steak and salad! What's the baby going to eat?" If I want, I can let him gnaw on something at the table, but I also know he's got good fruits/vegetables/egg yolk/fat in his tummy.

And he has taken to it like a natural. He's eaten everything I've made him, and in large amounts!

Barrett is a snuggler. He rubs his face against my cheek when he's tired.
He loves being held and he is happy being put down.
He constantly pops off while nursing because he wants to see what's going on.
He's a thumb-sucker when he's tired.
He loves having his head rubbed.
He still spits up after every feeding, usually all over his and my clothes, despite how ever many rags and blankets I have positioned. Nothing like hearing it splatter onto the floor. Yuck.
He usually wakes up to eat about 45 minutes before Will. He's undistracted and gets a really good feeding as we lay together on my bed. He pants frantically and reaches for me while I get situated, and then plays with my necklace while he eats. The moment he's done, he tries to sit up. He's ready to go!
He dislikes the carseat like Will did, but generally tolerates it well enough.
He LOVES his big brother.
He loves his daddy, who doesn't get to spend as much time with him as he did with Will. Barrett doesn't seem to care.
He's trying desperately to crawl, rocking on all fours last night. It won't be long! (In that regard, he's ahead of Will, who started between eight and nine months.)
He's a WILD MAN in the tub! Oh my. I can barely control him. When he and Will are in there together, watch out. The splashing is tremendous. Barrett gives it as good as William does.
He adores frozen banana in the net teethers. One of the only times he ever cries is when it runs out.
When he's hungry, he puts his hands on my cheeks, frantically looking for food.
Just like Will, he doesn't mind who's holding him. He'll go to anyone.
He goes crazy in his jumper, pointing his toes like a ballerina.

If our family was an orchestra, Brian would be the mellow double bass, the low and steady backdrop that keeps the rhythm and flow. Mama would be the violin,
carrying the melody, occasionally moody and high-pitched but almost always making noise. William would be the trumpet. You couldn't miss him if you tried - always bright and loud and distinctive.

Baby Barrett - right now, anyway - is the oboe. Sweet, gentle, usually unassuming and content to be in the background, he lends a note of contentedness and joy to our family that is remarkable. His happy, bobbing head is one of the most pleasant sights in the house. I can't imagine life without him.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Latest obsession

Will's into playing GAMES lately.

Not toddler games, board games. He caught a glimpse of them in our cupboard one day and he's been begging to "play game" ever since. "Play blue-one, green-one, brown-one?"

Why not.

His favorite is RISK. "Play Rix?"

Could it be that he is a budding military strategist? Or perhaps it is because of the million tiny colored blocks, the numerous dice, and the deck of a thousand cards that fall like a colorful crowd of butterflies when they are thrown into the air.
It's a special activity to do together, or when he's seated securely at the table and I'm frantically trying to find something for him to do while I make dinner supervising him closely. Yeah.

First he checks out all the components of the game. Then we "play". This usually involves us both picking a color and then alternately rolling the dice and counting the colors into piles until he "wins."
Then, when we're done playing, he makes "soup".
The game was once suddenly stowed away when he put a couple of the pieces into his mouth, so now he know that we just "pu-tend" to eat the soup.
This is "watermelon soup"
Then, before things get really out of hand, we put it all away and say "goodbye" to every piece.

And that's how you play "Rix" with a two year old.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Eight years!


You're the best! 

You are handsome, you are handy around the house (there's nothing you can't make or fix), you are cheerful, you're a hard worker and a wonderful provider, you are intelligent and always learning, and you run after God's ways and seek His will for our family.

And you are a wonderful dad! As a parent, no one thinks your kids are as cute as you do, but there are two of us, and we have the best times enjoying our kids together. You are fun with Will and tender with Barrett (whom you call "the Bear Man") and they are quite the little men with you. And no one laughs at my stories about the kids like you do.

You saw these pictures at dinner last night and you cracked up.

You said, "This is what we will show at his wedding...

... 'Will swimming, before he got a kiddie pool'."

When I told you that Barrett had a second tooth, you congratulated him heartily.

big two-toother

When I told you about William demonstrating the popcorn maker to his brother, saying to him, "Pretty cool, huh?" ...only you could appreciate how sweet it was.

Last night, we had a quiet evening at home before heading out to dinner. I had dropped the kids off at my parents' earlier in the day, and it was wonderful to have that uninterrupted time. It felt like the old days, only better.

You put Will to bed last night like a pro. It's been a little while since you've done it, so of course the change in routine meant a Little Man Mommy Meltdown. You handled it very well. I heard sobs and sobs from upstairs and then... happy conversation. 

You are so, so different from me. You are disciplined and minimalist. You are a nature lover and a healthy eater. You are quiet and you are a listener. You are early-to-bed and early-to-rise, and rewarded accordingly, as the old saying goes.

Last year, when your job search was discouraging and weary and fruitless, I saw how deep you really go. I saw your effort and your optimism and your strength. I felt the Lord impress upon me that so many of the blessings I enjoy in my life are a direct result of YOU. Thank you for marrying me.

Love, Maeg
July 2014, Charlevoix. I hate that Barrett's not in this, but he was home with Nana. 

Monday, August 18, 2014


I'm writing this from my phone. It's a pain in the butt. There's no auto correct or auto caps and let's face it, my thumbs are fat and clumsy and the keyboard is tiny and sensitive. But if I wait until I can get my computer out, I might forget.

My life is slipping away, faster than I can even believe. Barrett is six months old. Six! Each day seems to go by faster than the one before. My kids are growing up before my eyes. Barrett seems older each time he wakes from a nap. Will says words wrong one day and then the next day, he says them correctly. I want so badly to grab each tiny moment, each little grubby hand and slobbery face and freeze them into my memory, keep them for years later when I can no longer remember what my kids looked like when they were little. I can't even remember what William looked like as a baby. In my fickle mind, he's always been this big two year old. All I have are pictures.

So I want to grab it all, I want to hoard all of these fragments. But I can't, and that knowledge is both terrifying and liberating. Liberating in that all I can do some days is forget about the camera and soak it in. And terrifying in that I KNOW I will forget these days, just like high school is a vague blur of mostly bad memories. (Why does the mind do that? Hang onto the few unpleasant memories instead of the hundreds of happy ones?)

I want to remember how last night, Will was walking down to the "tractor barn" with daddy and without even turning his head to look at me, he waved casually and yelled, "See ya mom! Goin' to see tractor dada!" He was such big stuff, too busy to turn his head to say bye.

I want to remember how yesterday, Barrett kept giving me open mouthed, sloppy kisses and laughing. We were both laying on our bellies on the bed and I'd lean in and give him a big kiss on the cheek, and then he'd lean over and return it. I think he's still too young to quite know what we were doing - maybe? - but he thought it was funny. I wonder what he thought we were doing.

I want to remember how today I put away the baby bouncer because Barrett won't stay in it any more.

I want to remember how Will called the elevator the "alligator" today.

I want to remember how a couple weeks ago, daddy was taking out the garbage, hauling the huge blue rolling can down our long driveway, and Will saw him and yelled "Wait!" He frantically ran to the garage to grab something, anything to drag beside daddy. He went running after Brian with a red snow shovel. One big man and one little man walked out of my sight.

I want to remember how Will keeps saying, "Look at the mess up here!" whenever he reaches the top of the stairs on the way to his room. Sometime last month, when I was in the middle of sorting through the boys' closet, there were clothes everywhere. All I can guess is that at some point, Brian said, "Look at the mess up here!" And it stuck. And now... every time. "There's no mess," I say to Will.

I want to remember how Barrett is a little peanut, chubby but small. I guess I was used to Will always being in the 95% percentile. Barrett's dropped a range at every appointment. Now he's in the 25-50th. I hope one day I will look back and read this and tell myself, Why were you so worried? 

I want to remember how Barrett loves his doorway jumper. He bounces vigorously and happily, or he lounges with his arms resting on the tray. He's the world's most laid-back baby. I seriously can't believe that he emerged from all the sugar I ate during my pregnancy.

I want to remember how Barrett LOVES WILL. How Will is learning that Barrett reaches for everything, including his hair. How Will is learning to say, "No-no, Barrett," in a friendly way, rather than, "Barrett! NO!" How they make each other laugh sometimes. How Will is excited to see him when he wakes up. How William pronounces his name, "Bay-yett!"

I want to remember how William talked to Elmo and Big Bird the whole way to the doctor's office today. Everything he saw was, "Elmo, yook at that big truck!" "Big Bird, see Caddy!"

I want to remember how I gave Barrett a blanched green bean to gum at dinner as he sat on my lap... how at one point, he held it in his mouth like a cigarette and continued reaching for everything on the table. "Look at Barrett!" I said, and Brian and Will both burst out laughing.

I want to remember how William dawdles up the stairs on his way to bed, how he says goodbye to everything - daddy, the bear rug, and the day's favorite toys. I want to remember how much it drives me nuts, because by that point I'm anxious for a break, but I do try to be patient. It is cute.

I want to remember how, when I popped this balloon that Will had been playing with (naptime rocks for secretly discarding bothersome toys), the face I'd drawn shrank down to a perfect miniature.... and so did Will's dirty handprint. Why were his hands so dusty?

I want to remember how, on Sunday, we had a birthday party for Red. How Will is so into blowing out candles and singing happy birthday that it was perfect. We "baked" Red a cake, using stale graham crackers and old Hershey's kisses and leftover marshmallows from who-knows-when. He smashed the ingredients and measured the marshmallows and "helped" with the Halloween sprinkles that had been sitting in there... and blew out the candles (er... I mean, helped RED blow out the candles... a dozen times) and picked out a game to play and of course would not eat a bite of the cake, so it was trashed, with no ill effects to my pantry.

Yookit dis hammer!
I bang it?
Bangin' dis chock-it?
When else were we going to use these? Unfortunately, there's still half a jar left.
Red's cake(s)... a gooey mix of melted marshmallow, crushed graham crackers, chocolate, and a heavy dose of sprinkles.
Yookit dis! I made dat!
Happy birthday, Red!
I want to remember how much I'm looking forward to getting a better smartphone, so I can take better pictures!

I want to remember how, a few weeks ago, Will played with Duplos at the library. It was such a cool set, from the movie Planes, but instead of the planes, he zeroed in on a small silver and blue flag that became his "chainsaw". Maybe it's because he hasn't seen the movie yet. Anyway, he ran around the kids' section of the library "chainsawing" everything in his path. I kept having to remind him to whisper.

My chainsaw!
Dis chainsaw, biiiiiiig.
Brrrm, brrm!
I want to remember how at night, just before I leave the room, William rests his head on his pillow and looks up at us with huge, shining eyes and whispers his last thoughts of the day. Sometimes they have to do with tractors, food, fireworks, or friends. They're always random. And how when Barrett nurses when he's tired, he throws his arm down flat by his side, palm facing back, and his eyes begin to roll and his eyelids start to get heavy. How he snuggles into my chest, still. How he is so, so sweet. They both are.

I want to remember how Will falls asleep with his blanket wrapped around his head, no matter the temperature. How he's incredibly sweaty when I go to check on him one last time. How he sleeps.

(the monkey says, "I can't sleep!")
I blog now for one reason- I don't want to forget these things.