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

What I Did on My Maternity Leave

Today is my last day of maternity leave. Not only was it a strange time to be pregnant and give birth, it is also a strange time to have a newborn. Looking back on my maternity leave with Mike (which was really the result of being laid off before he was born) we were on the move a lot – lunches with Daddy, parks, walks, meeting friends and family … that did not happen this time thanks to COVID. To be honest, that might be been a blessing.

I took about 9 weeks and, while I am furious this country doesn’t have better maternity leave practices, I recognize how privileged I am to be able to use my leave bank to have this time.

Here’s what I did on my maternity leave:

{Nap} Good Lord did I nap. If you look at my Fitbit’s account of my nights it is up and down and lots of restless time. If you look at its record of my naps – it is SOLID BLUE meaning I was barely-breathing-might-be-in-a-coma sleeping. I ain’t mad about it either.

{Folklore} Taylor Swift dropped her surprise album Folklore and it has been on constant repeat.

{TikTok} I showed by age lately by wondering what ‘this TikTok new fangled app is all about’. Well I wish I found it sooner. The short videos are perfect for my attention span and the #sirivoiceover has me laughing until I am crying every time. I even tried making a few of my own!

{Moved my FIL to Assisted Living} It was fast and unexpected, but almost immediately after we got home from the hospital we realized S.’s Dad can’t be living alone any longer. Thankfully we were able to get him into an assisted living facility near us and I had the time to make phone calls and manage the logistics.

{Poshmark} I gotta unload all these beautiful maternity clothes I didn’t wear because I worked from home. So I was snapping pictures and making deals left and right.

{Games} Mikey got me hooked on Hungry Shark World and it is a great, mindless game where you are a shark and eat stuff. Also, I discovered Rusty Lake which is an escape room style game for adults. It has beautiful graphics and a rich backstory – definitely needs a trigger warning though.

But what I did the most was stare at this beautiful little nugget and wonder how I got so damn lucky to be her momma. I really took the time to get to know her and get all the baby snuggles.

Oh. And put her pacifier back in her mouth no less than 5,295,820 times during these 9 weeks. I counted. It was ridiculous.

Back to work on Tuesday. From home. With the baby. So basically maternity leave with answering emails and not taking two-hour naps.

Dear Hannah: 1 Month

My Littlest Love –

How on earth did your 1 month birthday sneak up on us? It is such a strange time to be a newborn. I was rereading your brother’s 1 month letter and we were able to go out and about and explore. Sadly, with COVID, that just isn’t an option for us. But we have made the most of your first month at home.

You are a chonk! You are already firmly in 3 month clothes. You have quite a wardrobe too and I would probably dress you up a few times a day if you enjoyed being changed. Any time you are naked, having a diaper change, or getting dressed you WAIL. You are not a fan of being uncomfortable and you make sure we know it.

The only time you like being naked is in the ‘bath’. You doze, kick your legs, and leave your hand under the faucet. It’s the getting out part you hate.

We’ve gotten a few small, maybe intentional smiles from you recently, mostly at the dogs and your brother. Speaking of your brother – he calls you Baby Hannah and is obsessed with you! He keeps saying how ‘adorable’ you are and he is not wrong. He only wants to hold you if no bodily fluids are involved. I must tell him 100 times a day that he needs to give you some space or stop touching all over you while you are sleeping. I can tell you are going to have a strong bond growing up.

You’ve met your cousins and they adore you and love having another girl in the mix. Mollie can’t wait to babysit you!

You are a snuggly little nugget. When you aren’t balled up in someone’s arms, you are in your vibrating chair babbling to the turtle hanging. You are really alert and are always looking around.

Welcome to the world little love. We have waited so long for you and are just in awe that you are here and so perfect.

Love,

Momma xoxo

Baby Birthing Soundtrack

Guess what? Hannah Beth is here! She arrived right on time via c-section on July 8. I will write more about her birth story and how the past three weeks have been going, but first I wanted to share my ‘Baby Birthin’ Soundtrack’.

I remember with Mike asking my OB if I could request certain music be played during his c-section. She was a no-nonsense type of doc and said that it would happen too quickly to really have a playlist. They did have music playing, so our sweet Mike was born to ‘Fifty Ways to Say Goodbye’ by Train. Which was nice because S. and I love Train (and have seen them live multiple times), but it is hardly what I would pick to hear as meet our firstborn.

Fast forward seven years and we are planning a no-nonsense c-section again and two days before Hannah is born, my new OB mentions making a playlist. So I went to researching the perfect songs to listen to while having major abdominal surgery AND bringing new life into the world.

Google was worthless with the majority of ideas since we aren’t really ‘Butterfly Kisses’ type people. A Facebook friend suggested just playing my favorites playlist, but there is nothing appropriate on that list for public consumption. I am going through a bit of a 90’s rap phase right now.

Thankfully I was able to find some awesome songs from my library for my playlist. Without further ado:

Dear Theodosia (Regina Spektor): As a parent and a Hamilton fan, I couldn’t not include this one.

When you smile, you knock me out, I fall apart
And I thought I was so smart

Welcome to Wonderland (Anson Seabra): I am not sure where I first heard this song, but it has such a pretty lullaby type melody and great visualizations.

Welcome to Wonderland
I’ll be your guide
Holding your hand under sapphire skies
Let’s go exploring or we could just go for a walk

High Hopes (Panic at the Disco): Not exactly the slowest, sweetest song ever written, but I love Panic and played them a lot my last trimester. Miss Hannah always responded to them this song and you can’t NOT smile when you hear it!

Mama said
Fulfill the prophecy
Be something greater
Go make a legacy
Manifest destiny

Cecilia and The Satellite (Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness): I loved this song the minute I heard it and when I realized McMahon was the lead singer for Something Corporate, it made sense. He wrote this song for his unborn daughter and the lyrics are beautiful. This is the song that was playing when Hannah was born.

If I could fly
Then I would know
What life looks like from up above and down below
I’d keep you safe
I’d keep you dry
Don’t be afraid Cecilia
I’m the satellite
And you’re the sky

No Plans (Jason Maraz): Maraz always has great, catchy songs and this one is no different. AND it is how I feel about Hannah right now, I have no plans for us – just sitting around loving each other.

If we dream it, we can be it
I’m putting all these feelings
In giving good vibes to you
I could stay right here all evening
Just listening to you breathing
And taking in the view

Daughter (Loudon Wainwright III): My Dad and I danced to this song at my wedding and it is so sweet and has such great memories for me. And some of the lyrics will probably ring true for Hannah!

Everything she sees
She says she wants
Everything she wants
I see she gets

A Thousand Years (Christina Perri): Anyone who has gone through fertility struggles knows this song by heart. It really speaks to how I felt when she arrived. I FELT like I had waited 1000 years for her.

I have died everyday, waiting for you
Darling, don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

Wait for It (Hamilton Cast): Yet another Hamilton song! This has always been one of my favorite songs from the musical and I really like the surface message.

Wait for it Wait for it
I am the one thing in life I can control
Wait for it Wait for it
Wait for it Wait for it
I am inimitable I am an original

A Million Dreams (Anthem Lights): I am always a sucker for a good acoustic or acapella cover and The Greatest Showman is one of my current favorite soundtracks. A million dreams is what I hope for Hannah.

‘Cause every night I lie in bed
The brightest colours fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

Don’t You Worry Child (Anthem Lights): I like both the original and the cover of this song and remembered it came out when I was trying to get pregnant with Mike. Heaven did have a plan for us – a family of four!

Don’t you worry, don’t you worry child
See heaven’s got a plan for you
Don’t you worry, don’t you worry now, yeah