Dear Mike: Eight is Excellent

Dear Mikey Bug –

You are finally 8! I am not sure why, but 8 seems very … kid. Also, I am too young to have an 8-year-old, but here we are. This was a big year for you kiddo, and Daddy and I got to see you grow and change so closely because we’ve spent SO much time together! You continue to be an incredibly sweet, empathetic kid – almost to a fault. You are my cautious kiddo, always thinking 10 steps ahead. I think this year was the first time you crossed the street alone, which you thought long and hard about.

This was also a challenging year because we were (and still are) dealing with Covid19 and the restrictions that we took to keep everyone safe. Our holidays were different because we didn’t see family. We didn’t have playdates or visit many cool places or even restaurants. Despite a few tough days for you being stuck inside, you handled it SO well. Probably better than Daddy and I did. This is mostly because you wanted to keep everyone safe, which you reminded me of quite a bit. You were our ‘mask police’ and made sure we had ours on and wore it properly.

{Big Brother Status} This was the year! The year you finally became a big brother and holy smokes did you embrace that role. When people ask how you are doing with Hannah, my response is always the same – you both are obsessed with each other. You live to make her smile and sometimes love too hard.

You are so cautious all the time with her and I thought you would implode when she fell off the bed under your watchful eye. You even told me you didn’t want her to walk because it was ‘dangerous’! Any time you walk in the door she lights up. I love to watch your relationship blossom and I hope every day that you both take care of each other. You love being a big brother.

{Virtual Learning} Thanks to COVID19, your school year was different. For the first part, you were going to daycare and they were helping you through your learning online. You were doing okay there, then I started working from home and we pulled you out of daycare and man, we were over virtual learning QUICK at that point. Right now we are counting down the days – 7. We are excited to have you back in school 5 days a week in the fall, but in the meantime, you are super tech savvy, which has been fun to watch.

{Beach Trip} In January we all needed a break from being stuck inside our house, so we found an AirBnB at Ocean City, packed everyone up and decided to go look at four different walls. It was the first trip for Hannah and you made sure she had a great time. It was chilly, but we had fun sitting on the beach with Stomp Rockets, watching TV in bed, walking on the boardwalk, and playing indoor mini-golf. We liked the condo so much, we rented it then and there for our summer vacation!

{Video Games} You have turned into quite a gamer! We bought the Nintendo Switch a bit over a year ago and we have had such a great time playing video games together. You also use the iPad to play games like Roblox and Minecraft. Video games have come a long way since Daddy and I were kids. It is a lot of fun to see you create worlds and learn new skills.

My little love, it’s been a year of ups and downs but we have met the challenges head on and I hope you have grand memories of the year you were 7 and quarantined for the majority of it. I hope you remember our sleepovers in your room, playing Untitled Goose Game with Dad, chasing Monster Truck RCs and Stomp Rockets in the field, and how much time we all spent together.

I have a feeling being 8 is going to be the best age yet!

Love,

Momma xoxo

Hannah’s Schedule

I am cleaning off my computer and found this schedule I made for my mom when she babysat Hannah in March. It was too good not to share.

Hannah

4:30a – Hannah awakes with a smile and a renewed sense of purpose ready to greet the day. She practices some yoga and prepares for another busy day.

5:00a – Mom collects her, changes her diaper, asks if she had a good sleep, and then goes into the living room so everyone can attempt to go back to sleep while she eats breakfast number one.

7:00a – Hannah hangs out in her office (Mom and Dad’s bed) playing while everyone else gets ready. No one gets ahead by sleeping in.

8:30a – Breakfast time! Hannah eats a pouch of food from the cabinet to the left of the sink.

9:00a – Time for Sesame Street! It’s on HBO Max. She can’t get to the corner office if she can’t count cookies. She also takes a bottle. She typically falls asleep. It could be a 10 minutes or 2 hours.

11:30a – Lunch time!

Noon – Play time! Hannah sits on the floor in her downstairs office (ball pit), thinking seat (bouncer), or on the foam mat. This is where she does her best thinking.

1:00p – A future CEO needs her beauty rest. Bottle and nap time. Again, either 10 minutes or 2 hours.

3:00p – Playtime! It’s time to watch some Bluey (on Disney +) so Hannah can learn to be a nice person while her way to greatness.

5:00p – Dinner with the fam.

6:00p – No stinky babies here! Bath time and snuggles. Then into the crib to focus on how to dominate the world tomorrow.

Notes:

  • Sleepy tell – fussy, covering eyes (part of a bottle will knock her out)
  • Seat downstairs – don’t leave her alone, she rolls around in it.
  • Bottles in drying rack, 6oz of water + 3 scoops of formula
  • Extra bibs/spit rags in 3rd drawer of changing table
  • General schedule – Sleep, play 2 hours, eat … repeat

Clicing and Humming

I full admit I am not sure who I am anymore. I never thought I would be the person to buy a $15 toothbrush for myself OR my kid. I also never thought I would be writing an unpaid toothbrush review on my blog, but here we are.

I never really paid attention to which toothbrush I bought. It was usually mid-priced, on sale, or pretty. I Have no idea my brush type or unique features. But when I was in Target buying our Christmas toothbrushes (not to be confused with our Easter toothbrushes) the Oral-B Clic caught my eye – mostly because it was half off. I didn’t wait for Christmas to try it out and for the first time in my life, I was impressed with a toothbrush. The Clic has disposable brush heads making it not only eco-friendly, but the handle is really heavy duty. Also, since the handle is metal the Clic is magnetic and comes with a round magnet to mount on your wall for toothbrush storage. As for the brush head, I’m not sure what is different, but I feel like my teeth are so much cleaner after a good brushing.

So now that you have your new toothbrush, what about your kiddos? Getting Mike to brush his teeth has always been a challenge. He is really sensitive to how it feels and the taste of the toothpaste. After our amazing dentist found a cavity, we decided it was time to invest in a solid toothbrush. Back to Target, I went and discovered the Colgate Hum toothbrush, which has quickly become a game-changer in our house.

The Hum for kids is basically the gamification of brushing teeth. When it comes time to brush teeth, kids start the app and the camera picks up on the augmented reality enhanced toothbrush. The two minute timer starts and they have to brush along with the ‘teeth’ to wipeout the monster. Getting rid of the monster means (when all the teeth are considered clean) they earn diamonds, open a prize box, and use the stars to unlock worlds, new games, and in app filters. Who knew this was what would get Mike excited about brushing his teeth! We paid about $15 for this brush and it was well worth the price.

So the moral of the story is not all toothbrushes are not made equal. Especially for kids who hate brushing their teeth.

Dear Mollie: Eight!

Miss Mollie –

I truly cannot believe you are 8. Why does that seem so old? Then I listen to your stories and watch your long legs running around the backyard of the ‘compound’ and it all makes sense.

This was a really strange year, wasn’t it? We didn’t see each other as much as we normally would, but when we did, I noticed one thing – you are obsessed with your baby cousin. And in such a good way! When we would get together you would immediately go to Hannah and ask to hold her. I loved how happy you were to sit with her, talk to her, and make sure everyone knew when she needed something.

Because of this, I can totally see you working with kids when you get older. Maybe a teacher? A celebrity nanny? Whatever you decide, I know you will be good at it.

Mollie, I know this will be the best year yet because we will see each other more often! I love you my silly niece.

Love, Aunt Jackie xo

Hannah: 7 & 8 Months

Hello Hannah Bee!

My sweet girl, what a BUSY past few months you’ve had! For a pandemic baby, we have tried to give you some new experiences, but I won’t lie, it is a challenge sometimes. We’ve noticed a bit of stranger danger, which we never experienced with your brother. Despite only knowing life with masks, you definitely prefer we don’t wear one. In fact, you love pulling them down when we are out and about! Let’s look back on your 7th and 8th month.

{Beaching} Daddy was so disappointed we weren’t able to take our annual Ocean City beach trip over the summer, so when we hit a bout of ‘covid fatigue’ that is where we went! We found a cute little Air B and B, went indoor golfing, ordered in meals, walked on the boardwalk, and introduced you to the beach. We had such a nice time just looking at four different walls despite the chilly weather. You had a great time as well! You were a little confused by the sand but loved running your hands through it. We booked the same location for our summer vacation so maybe we can dip your toesies in the water.

{Snow} You experienced your first snowfall too! We did go outside for a few minutes to cheer on the boys while they shoveled snow. You were interested, but I have a feeling you will take after me and enjoy it from the window with a good book and warm blanket.

{Moving and Grooving} In the past two days you FINALLY mastered crawling after what seemed like weeks of getting the arms right and flubbing the leg movement. AND to really keep us on our toes, you are pulling up as well. We got two play pens which we are calling ‘Baby Containment Units’ and you seem to like the freedom, and since they both have a side flap, Mike can join you.

{Doggies} You continue to terrorize the dogs who seem unfazed by you. We’ve caught you more than on either trying to put their ears in your mouth or their dog tags. Either way they just patiently sit there. We are working very hard on the concept of gentle hands.

{Food} Daddy is very happy he doesn’t have to worry about your not eating enough. GIRL. I am worried you are going to start eating the furniture. You get SO excited when we bring out the yogurt drops or a bottle. You’ve taken to holding the bottle on your own so you can manage how quickly you get the goods. So far you have enjoyed all the foods you’ve tried – but peas. We will get there – maybe when you can actually pinch and eat them. We also tried a mesh feeder thing (like a pacifier) and put some frozen fruit in it and you. were. thrilled. You sucked and gnawed on that thing until all that was left were the raspberry seeds. We are still waiting for teeth though!

{Sleeping} I am still in awe of your sleeping. Your brother was never a great sleeper (we didn’t really realize it at the time), but you don’t mind it at all! So many times I put you in your crib wide awake and you just find your bubba, stroke it, and fall asleep. Even when you wake up, most of the time you entertain yourself in your crib.

{Touching} You are super tactile. You love to stroke our hands, pick at the furniture to see what it sounds like, ‘pet’ your bubbas while you sleep, and try to scratch off the freckles on my chest. It’s so cute and oddly comforting. I love that you are exploring.

{Movies} Daddy and I miss going to the movies so much, so when I found out we could rent a movie theatre for throwback movies, I knew what we would do to celebrate my 38th birthday. We invited your cousins, Aunt Rachel, Uncle Dave, Aunt Cathy, Grandma, and Grandpa to see Despicable Me – a family favorite. I am not sure I would count it as your first movie, but you were so interested in the screen and being passed around to sit with everyone. It was really a fun experience.

My sweet, sweet girl. You are a joy. We are so thankful you are here.

Love, Momma xoxo

Registry Must Haves: Version 2.0

Someone in a Facebook group asked for direction on her Amazon registry and when I searched my back blog entries, I realized my registry lists are really outdated. A lot has changed in seven years (I’m looking at you recalled Rock and Play). Here, as a second time momma, is my updated recommendations:

{Fisher-Price On-the-Go Baby Dome} We got this before we realized we were having a quarantine baby and wouldn’t be going anywhere. BUT, I love how compact this is and how we can just plop her in there and she won’t roll away. She has fallen asleep in it as well!

{Diaper Rash Cream Spray by Boogie Bottoms} I am a big fan of the Boogie brand and was skeptical of a $7 diaper rash cream. BUT, it is worth every penny if you use diaper rash cream often. While rubbing cream on tushies works just fine, I HATE how it dries my hands and makes them feel sticky. A few sprays on the tushie and she is set for hours.

{Baby Gowns} I remembered what a lifesaver these were with Mikey so I made sure to stock up. Amazon Essentials is awesome quality, but Touched by Nature gowns are super thick and even zip. No matter the brand, you will be thanking me at 2am when you are fumbling around the change a diaper.

{WubbaNub Infant Pacifier} WubbaNub should hire me as a brand ambassador for all the talking I do about them. First of all, these are adorable. But functionally they are perfect – easy to find and it gives babies something to hold on to while they are sleeping. In the early days, you can use the animal help hold the pacifier in, which is a Godsend.

{Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat} When Hannah started holding her head up that is ALL she wanted to do. I’m not sure where she gets her nosiness … anyway … this seat helped her be ‘involved’ where the family was. We used it in the kitchen and she could sit up on the kitchen table in it as well as the floor. I only wish it collapsed to go on trips.

{NoseFrida the Snotsucker} Have you ever purchased a new vacuum cleaner, ran it in your house and had a full tank despite thinking you got everything with the old vacuum? Well, that’s how the Nose Frida works. I think this became popular when Mike was born and refused to use it. Somehow sucking boogs out of a baby’s nose did not appeal to me. But then Hannah got so stuffy recently I caved. I was comforted knowing that the tube was super long, so the odds of me inhaling boogs was slim. The first time I sucked so many boogs out of her nose AFTER I used the bulb aspirator it was amazing. So amazing, I bought a second knock off.

{Childlike Behavior Baby Play Mat} We love our hardwood floors, but with two a-hole beagles, we can’t put down rugs. When Hannah started sitting and rolling, we wanted to be able to put her down and thought foam squares would be the way to go – but we didn’t want our living room to look like a garage or daycare. Enter Childlike Behavior! These are great quality and really large so they cover a lot of space – we even have a few squares to spare. The print is ‘adult’ as well and it has held up again the dogs really well.

Remember, your registry doesn’t have to be things you will use right away. Pick some clothing size 6 months and up, chew toys, and a bouncer as well.

Hannah: 5 & 6 Months

Dear sweet Banana,

Happy half birthday! These months have equally flown and crawled by. You are so interested in everything and generally HAPPY. I swear every morning you wake up like your brother did at your age – as if you are shocked and delighted we are still here. I have to say, we feel the same.

{Rolling Over} You’ve rolled over a few times, but nothing consistent. You are much more interested in crawling and get pretty frustrated when your attempts fall flat.

{Sitting} You are now sitting with a little bit of help and you love seeing things differently. You do get the sways when you are tired, but your balance is awesome. Now you just get mad that you can’t get from laying down to sitting – you want to do it like a crunch and I can assure you that ain’t how we do it.

{Food} The doc gave us the green light to start testing the waters with baby food. The first few times you were excited, but couldn’t get the mechanics straight. But after you figured it out you were all in. So far you love bananas and blueberries and we not so keen on green beans.

{Dogs} It’s like you suddenly realized you have doggies! They are so patient with you even though you aren’t so gentle with them. But the minute they hit your line of vision you are reaching and touching them.

{Your Boys} Speaking of loving on things – your brother and father ADORE you and the feeling is mutual. The minute one of them walks in the room you light up. With Daddy you rub his beard and with Mikey you grab his cheeks with both hands and pull him in. You are one lucky little girl.

{Bath time} I’m calling it now water baby – you are going to have us up at O’dark thirty at swim meets. You LOVE the water. Aunt Phyllis has been steadily upgrading our bath contraptions to keep you happy. It’s to the point where you smile and get excited any time we run the water. You’ve taken to getting a quick shower with us and don’t blink an eye when the water hits your face.

{Holidays} The holiday season was certainly different this year thanks to COVID, but we made the most of it. You were really taken with the lights and our plastic snow globe that blows the ‘snow’ around. You saw Santa on a Zoom call and Mikey told him you wanted bath toys. You were certainly spoiled for both Hannukah and Christmas! You’re favorite toy was a bouncing seat and a new penguin bubs.

{Taylor Swift} You are my little Swifty! Folklore and Evermore came out at the best time and is the perfect soundtrack to put on to sleep because it is all mellow music. Turns out you agree! It is the only music that will put you to sleep and that, to me, is hilarious.

My sweet 18lb chunky banana, you are truly the bright spot in this crazy world. The next six months might not be thrilling, but we can’t wait.

xo

Momma

Hannah: 4 Months

Dear Sweet Banana –

I know I am a little late, but I am finding YOU are taking up my free time, and I am not mad about it. You are growing physically (hello, 15lbs!) and growing into your personality.

{Hands} If you are reading this at the age of 30 with your hand in your mouth, it will be proof I’ve given up. You just want your hand in your mouth. Even if something else is in your mouth. I try to gently remove your hand to replace it with a pacifier, but damned if you don’t flex those muscles like a little Hulk Hogan.

{Water} I have to say you are a generally happy baby but put you in a situation with water, and you take happiness to the next level. Your Great Aunt Phyllis got you a bath seat, which is easier to use than the baby tub, and you sit in it, kick and splash until the water goes cold. You’ve even ventured into the shower with Daddy and had zero fear of getting your face wet.

{Halloween} Your first Halloween was pretty low key with COVID. But you still dressed up as a pineapple and went trick or treating at Grandma and Aunt Rachel’s work then around the neighborhood with Great Aunt Phyllis and us.

{Pumpkin Patch} You joined us for your first trip to Y Worry Farms to pick out a pumpkin. I want to say it was a magical fall day where memories were made, but you were in a horrible mood and cried, I mean CRIED, most of the time. There’s always next year.

{Maryland Zoo} We haven’t done adventuring very much, but we did spend the day at the Maryland Zoo, which was a first for Daddy and me. You were a trooper just hanging out in your stroller, taking in the animals. Mikey picked out a stuffed penguin for you to commemorate your first zoo trip.

{Family} You also got to meet your cousin Bonnie, who you will call Aunt Bonnie. She will be the one who tells you crazy stories about her adventures that make Momma send her a ‘look’ but secretly love her stories. You also met you, Great Aunt Cathy and Great Uncle Bill. Shortly after meeting Uncle Bill, he passed away, but I will always remember the day you met him because he was just enamored with you just by existing.

As someone who has struggled with infertility for so long, I got really tired of hearing people say, ‘God’s timing.’ It wasn’t helpful and seemed very flippant. But man, you came on God’s time when we needed you the most.

I love you,

Momma xoxo

Dear Marcie: Finally Four!

Dear Marcie,

My curly hair cutie you are finally four! It has certainly been a strange year for you because of COVID, but you seemed to have taken it in stride. I’ve been lucky to have been able to spend some time with you despite all the hullabaloo and I am so thankful for that.

The big thing this year, in my opinion, is you are no longer the baby of the family! You welcomed your new cousin, Hannah, with WIDE open arms. You love sitting on the couch to hold her and alerting us to when she is maybe, possibly, could be unhappy. I can’t wait for you to show her the ropes of the cousin crew.

You also continue to show how brave and resilient you are by having another surgery. I’m not sure if it is harder because you are older and understand, or easier because you understand. Either way you rocked it and handled recovery better than some adults I know. I can’t believe how quickly your speech has changed and what it has done to your confidence. You’ve always been spunky but now so much more so.

I feel like this year you’ve really warmed up to me, which makes my heart soar. We’ve had fun Facetiming, reading, talking about Paw Patrol and brushing Barbie’s hair. All of my favorite things!

My sweet Marcie Pie – I love being your aunt and seeing your sly smile and bouncing curls running around with the big kids. You take no crap and are up for anything.

Happy birthday!
Love,

Aunt Jackie xoxo

Dear Hannah: 2 & 3 Months

My sweet Baby Hannah –

Yes, I have already skipped writing you a monthly letter. But alas, your 2 month birthday landed on my first day back from maternity leave and your brother’s first day of school. To say I was a little busy was an understatement. I’ll try to do better.

In true baby fashion, once I feel like we’ve hit a groove, you throw a monkey wrench into the plan and we start again. You are hitting your milestones and growing (GROWING) so much every day. I like to say you have more thigh rolls than an airport Cinnabon!

You are obsessed with your boys – and they are obsessed with you. Even Daddy, who is the more serious of your two parents, puts on a silly voice just to get a smile out of you which you give willingly. Your brother always asks me to bring you with me to pick him up from daycare so he can tell people you are ‘freaking adorable’.

You are trying really hard to roll over and figure out how to put your Bubba back in your mouth. Which I would love for you to master because at night when it falls out you immediately start screaming. You are also working on sitting on your own and love sitting in your baby chair on the kitchen table while everyone is getting ready for dinner.

We laugh about your best friend Dr. Phan (our ceiling fan). You can watch him for an hour before dozing off. You still love looking at dangly things and I can see the wheels turning in your head on how to get it in your hand and then into your mouth.

You are the best coworker while Daddy and I are working from home. You pretty much hang out in bed with me while I am working and babble to me or doze off for your morning and afternoon nap. We sneak downstairs to give Daddy a kiss too!

You finally met your Great Aunt Cathy and Great Uncle Bill who were, of course, totally smitten with you. We celebrated Grandma and Daddy’s birthdays on the shore and you were the belle of the ball with your cousins. They are going to be so much fun when you are older.

Well my littlest love, happy 3 month birthday. You are a gift and a joy.

Love,

Momma xoxo