It’s been a beautiful year with you. Below, a favorite photo from each month of the first year of your life.
From day one you have been a sweet baby. I claim you are the easiest baby in the world, though I haven’t been around enough babies to know for sure that you can claim your spot in the Guinness Book. I sleep trained you to sleep through the night before five months, and you often take a 3-4 hour nap in the afternoon. If you decide to have children of your own you will understand why parents talk so much about sleep when they want to relate where their baby sits on the ease-of-parenting scale. You may also seem easier to me because you are my second, and I’m getting a little bit better at this parenting thing as the days go by.
I’m finding it difficult to write this without thinking about the ways that you differ from your brother. Growing up I did that to myself, comparing myself to my sister and judging my strengths and weaknesses based on hers. I was the singer, she was the photographer. She was good at math, I was good at public speaking. She was tender and sweet, I was outgoing and passionate. I can see now how I limited myself because I believed that the areas where she excelled where the areas where I would always be sup-bar. As though there was some sort of finite limit on math proficiency in the family. Almost a decade after she started, I bought myself a dSLR and found myself wanting to take pictures of people as a profession. But that was her thing. Could I?
Don’t limit your life with comparisons and doubt. I don’t want you to do that to yourself, and I don’t ever want you to feel like I’m doing it to you either. You may not be a special snowflake, but you are one-of-a-kind with a potential that astounds me. At this age it is easy to imagine that you can do anything. Read more →
We made it! With the birth of T2, yet another move, demanding work schedules, and the Thunderous Threes all happening in the same year we are breathing a big sigh of relief as we think about 2014. We are still in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I’m drafting this letter from a different home address yet again. (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that 2014 will be the year with no moving.) We loved our East Palo Alto house, but made the decision back in June to move to a new rental in Fremont. A big thank you to my parents for hosting us for 6 weeks while we waited for our new place to become available (and watching our kids so we could have an adults-only weekend getaway in Portland!).
We like our new neighborhood much more and are using all sorts of methods to meet our neighbors (the most out-there attempt involved nailing an introduction letter to the tree outside our front door). The population in this area is very diverse and it’s been fun to explore the multitude of Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, and Mexican restaurants in the area. Turns out T1 is not a fan of the bubbles in bubble tea but he loves Chinese donuts.
TH and I are busier than ever, juggling two young children along with work. It’s a lot harder than we thought it would be. Thank goodness for babysitters and preschool! TH travels for work Monday-Thursday. While he’s gone I care for the kids and work on a growing number of projects – www.jennacole.com, www.pinterestfail.com, and www.thatwifeblog.com.
T1 is thriving in his fantastic preschool, attending full days every weekday. He loves making friends, starting every sentence with “Ma”, and exploring his ability to exercise his independence. Between the passionate outbursts his tender side shines through – when we caught a bug and looked at it under a microscope he begged me to set it free so it could go back to its mommy.
T2 has started digging through my kitchen cabinets and walking along the furniture. She’s a resilient little girl who survives being sat on and dragged around (literally) by her brother on a daily basis. When I say “It’s time to go get brother from preschool” she flaps her arms and waves excitedly. He is her very best friend and I love to listen to them babble and interact on the drive home from school every day.
This year we are particularly grateful for technology and the ways it keeps us connected. Social media that fosters connections with friends who live far away from us, video chats with family as we’re making dinner, Skype with family in Poland (who we, sadly, didn’t get to visit this year), screen time that gets us through the littles witching hour in the evenings, and phone calls between husband and wife as we live apart each week.
Thanks to all of you who make our life better in some way being being in it.
Moving around a lot means we have a lot of friends in different places. Lucky us! But what to do when assembling our Christmas card address list each year, as sending out cards can be a bit of an investment. My solution to this has been breaking up our address list into two categories. The first is the people who will always get a card no matter what: parents, siblings, grandparents, people close enough to be in our wedding party, coworkers*, and people who we are currently conversing regularly with. The second list is much more discriminatory: those who sent us cards the previous year.
After I’m done displaying the cards from each year I open up my address spreadsheet and bold all of the names that we received cards from. I add in any people that sent us a card that weren’t already on our list. Then I let the list sit for 10 months, until it’s time to send out cards for the next year. I add in any new friends we’ve made, delete the non-bolded names of people that don’t fall in the essential category, and order for my newest list amount.
I like this system because it helps keeps costs down, and develops a reciprocal relationship of sorts when it comes to sending out cards to people. The string of cards in our hallway grows by the day, and it makes me so happy to walk in the front door and see the smiling faces of our friends and family.
Do you send out Christmas cards? How do you manage and assemble your list each year?
*Good networking and relationship-building.
Our decision to be a “no Santa” household was largely inspired by our religious beliefs. Even though we have left those behind we are forging ahead with the plan to take all of the credit for the gifts our children receive each year. I feel very strongly that our children need to have a firm grasp of money, and how very finite that resource is. Treating Santa as fiction instead of fact is one of the first steps we are taking toward that.
T1 is 3 1/2 years now, and this is the first Christmas that I have had to act on my plans, instead of just getting philosophical about them in conversation. His friends tell him about Santa at school, we walk past Santa at the mall, he sat on Santa’s lap at a church breakfast. I struggled to converse with him about this and wasn’t sure how to react, until I was able to come up with a litmus test to quickly think through each Santa situation.
Mentally insert Mickey Mouse whenever we see Santa. Mickey isn’t real, and no parents go out of their way to convince their children he is. But when you see Mickey Mouse at Disneyland no one says to their child “That is a man dressed as a giant mouse pretending to be Mickey.” Instead you let your child be excited about the experience, and at some point in time they realize that the characters they encounter in the theme park are college kids dressing up in furry sweat-boxes.
This approach is working great right now – T1 gets to excitedly point to every Santa that we pass, and to sing the songs and listen to the stories. I don’t have the options to bribe or manipulate him using threats about Santa not coming unless he listens to me (he should listen to me because I’m his mom and that’s the way the world works), and we get all the hugs and kisses and thank you’s for the presents he finds under the tree.