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Kids
  • Harper, 5, and Max, 2

    Halfway into being 5 and 2, it feels like a year of transitions for Harper and Max. We're pretty much out of the baby years (a world without diapers, what?!) and Harper is about to start kindergarten in the fall. Max went from looking like this:

    to this, in just a few short months.

    I joke that he is basically a feral child because he is always covered in a combination of dirt, snot and food. And because we're in love with his curls, we stopped cutting his hair. So it's always a floppy mess. 

    He's also always going at full speed, but doesn't have much control. So he's covered in scrapes and bruises most of the time. He's had his share of fat lips and a bloody nose recently. But he just gets right back up and keeps going. 

    His personality bounces between being super sweet and screaming. 

    I remember Harper being extra adorable as a 2-year-old and he's starting to enter that phase. I am REALLY grateful to finally be past the stage where he just runs away from me at full speed into various kinds of oncoming danger. If we yell "red light!" he will stop now. 

    He's been going to the Clifbar daycare 3 days a week for most of the year, in the classroom next to Harper. The other two days he stays home with me. 


    Yes, we will take all the free Clif bars we can get!

    This was NOT the plan for this year, so it has been a big adjustment. His more affordable daycare fell through, so we have pinched every penny we could to make it with this scenario until Harper starts kindergarten. At that point, I am hoping to transition out of working at my retail jobs and into more teaching classes and making things. 

    Not surprisingly, we have been sick all.the.time - including Max getting hand, foot and mouth disease — so that has added another layer of difficulty to this year. 

    I am grateful for Max's sunny personality, though. His teachers say he is super sweet and pretty compliant at school. He still takes 2-hour naps for me, and he sometimes falls asleep at the lunch table at school. He's just a pretty relaxed little dude - unless you tell him he can't watch something on TV!

    He is absolutely Harper's little shadow. He copies everything she does (to her understandable annoyance) and follows her and her friends around at school. 

    As a result, he has started carrying a purse and wearing a lot of jewelry, which cracks me up.

    They do play together sometimes. There is a LOT of fighting over toys and tattling on each other. I can't blame Harper for being mad sometimes because, as the older one, she has to put up with a lot of his immature behavior. 

    They've had a few melt-your-heart moments. Mostly with her trying to help him do something. We took them to the beach recently, and although Max was tentative at first, they both loved the water.

    We also took them on a pretty good hike up Mt. Tamalpais, which we have been meaning to do for years. They both did really well with the physical part, and it was SO beautiful up there. But Harper fell a few times (she had the wrong shoes on) and so by the end she kept saying she never wanted to go on a hike again. 

    So we'll have to work on convincing her to do another hike, but I think in the long run it's good to expose them to the outdoors as much as possible. 

    We had a really fun time exploring this old building in Richmond called Winehaven. It's some kind of wine distribution center that looks like a castle and would make an amazing event venue. But it had kind of fallen into ruin, so the mayor is trying to bring it back. If you go up on the roof you get an amazing view of the bay and Marin. 

    Most of our outings still end with two kids passed out in the back seat! Mike's parents are coming in a couple of weeks and we are taking the whole family to Yosemite. So we'll see how they do with a longer trip with more car time (fingers crossed!). 

    Grammie came for a visit last month and she had such a good time bonding with Harper. I think Harper is finally old enough to show a real interest in a lot of different things, so they can play together in a whole new way. 

    Harper is in full-on princess mode most of the time now. It's a princess-Barbie-mermaid world. And even though I have an eyeroll for that stuff sometimes, I can also relate to it. I was a 5-year-old girl once. So I actually find it more fun to play with her now. 

    She wants to grow her hair long so she can have all kinds of pigtails and braids and such. I can't get enough of the little dash of freckles on her nose that comes out in the summer. 

    She did gymnastics at school and really liked it. We want to get her in swimming lessons this summer. She's starting to have more trepidation about doing things right, especially when it comes to sports. But I think once she starts something she gets into it. 

    She has constant questions about how the world works now. Which I both love and find exhausting. I can't be surprised that she's a curious person, though!

    She doesn't seem worried about going to kindergarten, even though it will mean making a whole different friend group. She's scheduled to go to the school that's closest to our house, but at least so far I don't know anyone else who will be in her class. We've become good friends with the parents of some of her friends, so hopefully we can all still stay in touch. 

    They both sleep through the night unless there is something unusual going on. Like Max had a long stretch of waking up once, but I think it was because he was sick a few times. We had talked about putting them both in the same room, but ultimately decided not to. Harper actually goes to sleep about an hour earlier than Max, although I think that will change as they get older. 

    She's in a very silly phase. Lots of dancing and fart jokes and made-up songs. 

    They both had huge growth spurts recently where I had to clean out their clothes and go up a size. They don't have much baby chub left! I can't really tell if they will be tall as adults. And though it seems like they are losing their blond hair as they get older, we still get many, many comments on it! I guess it's because it's a noticeable thing for strangers to talk about? Anyway, I found this old photo of Mike and it totally proves where the hair comes from. 

    Next up for Max is potty training. We were actually going to do it over Memorial Day weekend, but we had 3 parties to go to, so it didn't seem like the right time. I think he is ready and I don't want to miss the window. We're planning to do the same method (Oh Crap potty training book) as we did with Harper, since it worked so well. 

    Harper has a big transition coming up, but she's always handled those well. I think we're the ones that will struggle with her becoming a school-age kid. 

    I know I will shed a few tears at her preschool graduation next week. I'm so proud and of her bravery and inspired by her on a daily basis!

  • Loving: Ikea kids stuff

    The other day we went to Ikea to get Harper a high chair. I couldn't help but notice how adorable all the toys in the kids section were. And so cheap! (Isn't that what you always say until you get to the checkout line?)

    I know her grandpa already has his eye on the play kitchen, but I have a feeling we'll be filling a cart with some of these other toys when she gets a little older.

    1. Children's tent, $19.99
    I bet that pays for itself over and over.
    2. Market stand, $14.99
    Lemonade stand/puppet theatre? Yes!
    3. Easel, $14.99
    This plus a $5 paper roll seems like it could be hours and hours of fun.
    4. Small Poang chair, $29.99
    Every time I see this in the store I want it. We have the big one, too.
    5. Doll furniture, $12.99
    Everything in miniature. So cute.
    6. Swivel chair, $89.99
    A little pricey, but I'm sure it beats designer versions.
    7. Mini kitchen, $99.99
    Any child of ours must know how to cook, so she might as well start practicing!
    8. Doll bed with linens, $19.99
    I have to admit, I kind of want this for myself.
    9. Table and 2 chairs, $19.99
    I can't imagine kids treat their furniture well, so that's about what you want to pay for a tiny set.

  • 6 months

    Half a year, wow.

    As Mike and I were putting Harper in her high chair for the first time and removing the car seat attachment from her stroller, we both sort of looked at each other like "I can't believe this is happening." Six months definitely feels like a time of transition. Onto sitting up, rolling over, solid foods. And while I certainly don't have any desire to return to the stress of her early babyhood, I feel a little bit like I'm not ready to move on yet. But she is, so we move on.

    This month we learned that Harper can roll over. But luckily for me she doesn't have much interest in it. It's great to see her pushing up and sitting up more, though she's still pretty tippy.

    Still no teeth. I think I can see the bottom two right under the surface of her gums, so they'll probably pop through soon.

    We've had fun figuring out what makes her giggle. Sometimes it's a barrage of kisses, sometimes clapping, sometimes her toy dog.

    Though she has a million toys, her favorite objects seem to be everyday things, especially crinkly wrappers or empty water bottles.


    This is what you call excellent parenting. 

    If five months was the month of upheaval, six months has been one of leveling out. We did some sleep training, which got her back to almost sleeping through the night. With travel and what seems like a growth spurt, she still wakes up one extra time most nights, but we can live with that. It's funny what constitutes a good night's sleep nowadays.

    This month has given me some perspective on last month. Basically I know now that I am not a person who can live on long-term sleep deprivation and stay sane. I have to do some things to take care of myself so that I can be a good mom. There has been a lot of discussion on my moms email group about nurturing relationships while you have young children, and it's been nice to read the suggestions for that too. I think we're getting closer to a point of comfort in leaving Harper a little longer with someone else.

    When I am finally (relatively) well-rested, I can really enjoy the time we get to spend together. These are days full of bouncing, jingling, drooling, chewing, babbling, giggling, eating and sleeping. They are full of ups and downs — bored to tears of the same toys one minute, stressed with a screamer the next minute. But I still can't imagine being anywhere else than with my girl as she grows up.

    The other day I found this photo of her from when she was really little.

    I couldn't believe how much darker her hair was then. It's gone through every color — light brown, red, auburn — and now it's sort of strawberry blond.

    She's cute as a button and such a charmer. I can't wait to see what the next month will bring.

  • Passing on toys from childhood

    While we were in Denver my mom brought out a bunch of toys, clothes and books from when Megan and I were little. Of course it was very sentimental stuff, so I took some of it home with me, including this bag that used to hold wooden blocks.

    Blocks have become a lot softer and squeakier since I was a kid, but it's nice to keep them in something so sweet. I love thinking of someone hand stitching those letters to the bag.

  • 7 months

    The seventh month has definitely been our best one so far with Harper. The other day we ran into this couple at the UPS store who had a 2-month-old baby and I was reminded of how different Harper is now than she was at that age, and how much easier our lives are now that she's a little older.

    She is so curious and interactive. She has a smile for everyone, so we are constantly stopping everywhere we go so she can make eyes at someone at the next table, behind us in line, etc. She has completely taken down the invisible walls that go up between strangers here.

    She is an instant conversation starter. I never realized how many other people had babies! We always used to joke that it seemed like more people had dogs. Actually, I think that is a recordable fact in SF, but still.

    People always say, "oh she is such a happy baby!" and I love that. Sure, we have our dramatic moments, but mostly she is a pudgy, giggly, adorable little goofball.

    We started feeding her more solid foods this month. She hasn't had a reaction to anything so far, so we just keep introducing new things. She loves getting pieces of fruit in a mesh baggie because she gets to feed herself. She likes carrots, avocados and bananas.

    We've started giving her bits of our food at restaurants, so she's already had Chinese and Indian (the non-spicy stuff). It's nice that she can sit on our laps or in a high chair at restaurants so we can at least attempt to eat at the same time.

    She still doesn't show much interest in crawling, but she can sit up really well and lean over to reach for things. She is super grabby — for my hair, my glasses, whatever is on the table in front of her, or her favorite thing, paper. She's not allowed to chew on napkins because she eats them!

    Her legs are super strong and she loves to stand with our help. I don't think she's far from standing by herself with something to balance on.

    The big change this month is that she got her first teeth. One bottom tooth popped through and then the other. Pretty soon she will have that ridiculously adorable two-bottom-teeth grin.

    We had a couple rough nights when the teething seemed to really bother her, but generally it has not been too bad. I picked up some homeopathic remedies at Pharmaca, and the teething tablets seem to help a lot.

    After feeling stretched super thin and longing for some family help and closeness the past few months, I've finally started to feel a little more comfortable on our own. The gloomy summer days (weird, I know) have passed and now each day when the fog clears it feels like we have our little piece of paradise here.

    We've starting putting Harper in the stroller and exploring our neighborhood more — we're always bumping into our neighbors strolling their kids around. It feels more like home than it ever has. And when we look around at our beautiful bay views dotted with sailboats, the cute park down the street, our neighborhood food truck gathering, the pool where she'll probably take her first swimming lessons, it seems like not such a bad place for her to grow up. At least for a while.

  • 8 months

    Harper is 8 months old now, and that means one thing — she's 2/3 of the way to being a year old! I know I shouldn't be thinking about that already, but I can't help it. She's changing so fast now, and the months are flying by. 

    There was one week this month when it seemed like she changed more than she ever had. All the sudden she had her third tooth, she was saying "ma-ma-ma" and getting halfway to crawling. She had never shown any interest in crawling and then all the sudden she was not where I put her! 

    She's now figured out how to get up on all fours, but hasn't quite gotten the moving forward part. Half of me is urging her on. The other half is hoping she takes her sweet time figuring it out. 

    This month it finally felt like some kind of weight had lifted. There was just an ease that had never been there before.

    We had some hard days when she was teething and some nights when our good sleeping schedule got completely out of whack. But we know how to recover now. And I think I've been able to realize when to give myself a break so I can be a better mom. 

    This month my stress was about work. The orders picked up and I had to get ready for a craft show. It wasn't always easy to fit in that much work, but I managed to do it, and it felt good. 

    Harper is still full of smiles for strangers. She is pretty good at entertaining herself for short amounts of time. One week she was cracking me up staring at her hands.

    I love that we are able to play games now. We can interact with her in new ways and get a response. Her giggles are so infectious. 

    She is starting to scare me a little bit with her newfound mobility. We had to lower the crib and start putting her on the floor instead of on furniture. 

    Our biggest battle is over items to chew on. She wants absolutely anything that is not a toy. She loves cell phones and remotes and cords and yarns. 

    It seems like whatever is most dangerous is what she wants to play with or put in her mouth. 

    Foodwise, I think she has eaten pretty much everything we eat now with no ill effects. But she takes a few bites and then loses interest.

    I guess we are just following her lead and when she's ready she'll eat more. She is able to feed herself things that she can hold in her hand, which is pretty cool (especially for the dogs). 

    Her baby chub is so freakin' cute. She just has a cascade of rolls on her arms and legs. 

    For all those rolls she is still really strong. She can jump for days in her jumperoo. I love how happy it makes her. 

    And if we help her she can start picking up her legs to walk. 

    The next month will only get busier with work, so it will be a challenge to watch her as she gets more mobile. But I cherish this time, especially now that I realize it is sailing by. 

  • Harper's first pumpkin patch + trip to Google

    Two Fridays ago it was a beautiful day and Mike was off work, so we decided to take Harper to a pumpkin patch in the south bay.

    There were pre-picked pumpkins as far as the eye could see. Most of them were in good shape, so it was kind of hard to decide which ones to get.

    We ended up with two orange pumpkins and one white one. If it were up to me I probably would have taken home two giant wagonloads. I just love pumpkins. :)

    Harper got to sit on the big tractor, just like Mike did as a kid.

    And we had to sit her on a giant pumpkin just because.

    In addition to carving pumpkins, they had all kinds of squashes, gourds, and even popcorn.

    We took home one hubbard to cook. When she's a little older I think Harper will enjoy some of the other stuff they had, like a hay bale pyramid and wagon rides. There's also a whole park with farm animals there.

    Since we were so far from home already and we had some time to kill before dinner, we decided to drive around Silicon Valley. I had never been to Stanford or seen any of the social media headquarters, so it was fun to check them out.

    The Google campus is huge, and full of surprises like these sculptures.

    I didn't realize employees could borrow these multi-colored bikes to ride around anytime.

    I couldn't believe how many people were actually using them!

    Mike showed me the parking lot dedicated to electric vehicles.


    I love how someone has carefully swept around the sign on the ground.


    Tesla spotted in the wild!

    After that we spent some time in downtown Palo Alto, which has a really nice shopping area. They even have the only Plan Toys retail store, which was fun to check out.

    I loved our day of exploration, but man is it expensive down there! We were pretty happy to go back to our little bubble (with one new toy, of course).

  • One day, hour by hour

    I really liked Erin's idea of documenting a day, hour by hour, so I thought I would try it. When you're home with a baby there is no average day, but I think this day (Monday) turned out to be a pretty good picture of our daily life. 

    7:30 a.m.

    Because of daylight savings time, Harper woke up extra early and Mike got up with her about 6:45. He usually lets me sleep a little longer since that's their time together before he goes to work. When I got up, he was feeding her some baby food I'd made over the weekend.

    8:30 a.m.

    I tried putting her in her jumper to play, but she didn't want to.

    She used to love that thing, but not anymore. She seems to be making a developmental leap — mimicking, clapping, trying to stand/walk — that is making life chaotic lately. Note to self: get some next-stage toys!

    9:30 a.m.

    Mike left for work, so now I am trying to check some things off my to-do list. One of them was to try to get a replacement wheel for our stroller. After a few minutes with a grumpy customer service rep, I am told a replacement is on the way.

    10:30 a.m.

    I'm working on some pom-pom projects for an upcoming blog post. 

    Harper is starting to get cranky, so I give her a cold teether. Her two top teeth are starting to come in, so that always makes days more challenging.

    11:30 a.m.

    Harper is an epic nap warrior. She has always taken short naps, and after getting into a routine of 4 30-minute naps a day, she is now down to two. And she fights hard to go down for them. After another major battle I finally get her to go down. I had to sneak in her room to get this photo of her.

    After she woke up, a mere 20 minutes later, I realized that her leg was actually stuck in the bars of her crib. Now I feel terrible!

    12:30 p.m.

    After lunch (leftover pot pie, which I shared with her), I got some dishes washed.

    Harper decided to play with a whisk on the floor. She is very into anything that is not an actual toy.

    1:30 p.m.

    Harper plays with some toys on my lap. I can tell she is still tired from only having one short nap, especially when she starts slumping over. 

    I feel like I have to be consistent with her napping in the crib, so we battle again for her to go to sleep in there.

    2:30 p.m.

    The nap thing didn't really work. I was so nervous about her sleeping position that I kept interrupting her sleep. When I finally gave up and took her out of the crib, she was not too happy.

    3:30 p.m.

    I realized that maybe I was being too strict about the naps and that maybe with the teething, the developmental changes, and the cold she has, she probably needs some extra comfort. So I cuddled up to her in our bed and she fell asleep. For an hour!

    Poor thing was exhausted. I eventually got up and worked on the computer while she slept.

    4:30 p.m.

    Post-nap, Harper is in a much better mood. I assemble some cloth diapers while she plays. Usually we get some kind of outing in the afternoon, but we ran out of time today.

    5:30 p.m.

    I have one order to finish from a big group of orders I got last week. So I get to knitting. 

    6:30 p.m.

    I make dinner.

    Harper feeds herself one of those baby food packets. She used to only eat a few bites of baby food here and there, but now she has a huge appetite. 

    7:30 p.m.

    Dinner is ready (veggie chili) and Mike is home.

    I live for this part of the day when I get a little break! 

    8:30 p.m.

    Harper's bed time. She ends up falling asleep on me without her bedtime feeding.

    She hasn't been this cuddly since she was a month old, and I have to admit I love it!

    9:30 p.m.

    Now that we don't have cable, we are totally hooked on "Dancing with the Stars." Tonight Cher is a guest judge. She's still rockin' it. 

    I use my baby-free time to get a little more work done. This time of year I'm usually stockpiling accessories for the Renegade Craft Fair in December. 

    10:30 p.m. 

    Bedtime. Sometimes I get some reading done before I go to sleep, but not tonight. It's been a long day. 

  • 9 months

    This month's post is a little late due to our Midwest trip (more about that later). But this month has been so busy I hardly remember what happened anyway. I know Harper went through a lot of developmental changes.

    At the beginning of the month she was a cheerful, easygoing baby. I had one blissful week where it seemed like I could put her down and she would entertain herself while I got my work done. I had more work than usual, so it came in handy.

    But as the month progressed she became more fussy and clingy, always wanting my attention and to be carried around. That is so hard when I'm staring down a huge to-do list! But I think I realized it was important to give her the extra attention while she was having a tough time. Her two top teeth started to show underneath her gums and although they haven't popped through, I think they have contributed to her moods.


    Her hair has thickened and grown into a delightful little swoop.

    She's also made some rapid changes in her mobility and communication. She went from barely being able to pick up her legs while we practiced walking to racing down the hallways while one of us barely supports her. Our poor backs are killing us, but it's a lot of fun. 

    She can also stand up for several minutes while balancing on something, sometimes with just one hand. I don't think it will be long before she starts trying to stand up all on her own.


    Who needs a walker when you have a pouf?

    Still no crawling, but maybe it just won't happen. She's certainly improved her reach. One time we were at the grocery store and she reached out her arm and knocked a whole bunch of boxes off a shelf. Needless to say we've amped up our babyproofing. 

    She had started to attempt waving last month, but this month she figured it out. Now all you have to do is say "hi" and she waves. She also figured out clapping (so adorable) and high-fiving. She looooves to bang on things, so anything that makes a clapping sound is fun for her. 

    We had a lot of fun dressing her up as Princess Leia for Halloween.

    We took her to a moms group gathering where we got to put her together with about 15 other babies. That was total cute overload. 

    Speaking of cute overload, her new bathtub is super adorable. How could I resist that?

    Oh, I almost forgot another development this month. She has become cuddly again.

    Although she is pretty squirmy most of the time, she will cuddle up to you when she's sleepy. She's started falling asleep in our arms for naps or before bedtime. 

    That could be part of the reason she's also started protesting her naps like crazy. I think she doesn't want to be alone in her crib, so she often cries even when I know she's tired. That has been rough. Do I give comfort or discipline?

    I still struggle with that, but this past week has been better. As I now know very well, having a baby is a total roller coaster and sometimes you just don't know the answers. 

    Harper is just as social as ever. She is constantly looking around for people to communicate with. I'm glad she is such a smiley outgoing baby. Though it's definitely different from my personality, I love to see her developing into her own little self. 

    Another change this month: girlfriend is hungry! She not only eats bits of what we eat, she can suck down whole packages of baby food, plus several milk feedings a day. I think she is moving so much that she is constantly burning energy.

    And since she shows no signs of slowing down I think she will just eat more and more. I've figured out how to make my own baby food, so that's been fun. Pretty much all of her 9-month outfits are smudged with food stains, but oh well. 

    I am also relieved to say that Harper is a really good traveler. We took her on two 3+ hour flights to Kansas, plus two 3.5 hour drives to Iowa and she was a champ through all of it. Plus we added 2 more time changes right after daylight savings. We have another trip coming up in December, so I hope she's good then too.

  • 10 months

    I'm a little bit behind with this post, but this month is cra-zy, so I'm just happy to get it done at all. 

    Maybe it's the double digits or something, but this is the first month I've really thought, "there's no way she can be 10 months old!"

    This month has been such a blur. I just looked back at my calendar and realized all that has happened since she turned 9 months.

    We took our trip to Kansas and Iowa.

    Then there was a death in the family, and Harper and I spent our week together.

    Harper was sick with her first fever, which turned out to be roseola. Man, if holding a sick baby doesn't break your heart, I don't know what will.

    Then Thanksgiving.

    Then a super busy week filled with orders and craft show prep. A little Christmas decorating thrown in there too.

    And here we are with a 10-month-old baby. Whew!

    This has also been a huge month for Harper's mobility and communication. She finally figured out how to half crawl/scoot across the room and get into all kinds of trouble.

    I also realized that if I let go of her hands she could stand on her own for a few seconds. So walking doesn't seem so far off.

    She seems a little hesitant to actually go for it, though. Even though she has the ability to get around, she still prefers to stay close a lot of the time.

    She learned the sign for "more", so it has been fun to see her use it at mealtimes.

    She still eats anything and everything if she is hungry. The only problem is she also eats anything she can find off the floor.

    I am constantly reaching into her mouth to fish out some piece of detritus from the floor. Tufts of dog hair, crumpled paper, bits of cork, leaves, yarn fuzzies, tiny pebbles — I've found them all in her mouth. No matter how much I vaccuum and sweep, she manages to find something else.

    She remains as expressive as ever. I think what she does when she's upset can officially be called a tantrum. But she's full of giggles and waves, too.

    And oh my gosh, how hilarious is it when kids this age make the "poop face"? There is no mistaking what she's doing when she gets frowny and turns bright red.

    What's going on with her hair can only be described as new wave. It is truly awesome.

    We're getting excited for my biggest show of the year, baby's first Christmas with her grandparents, more travel and getting closer to her first birthday. My little Harps is going from baby to toddler!

  • 11 months

    I feel like this month someone took my baby and streeetched her out. Though she still has plenty of baby chub, she is starting to grow more up than out.

    She is all energy and curiosity lately. December was so busy with craft sales and travel that I really needed her to be on her best behavior. And by some miracle, she was.

    Of course most of the time she was crab-crawling or cruising around the house getting into trouble. But at least she was in a good mood!

    Early in the month her Denver grandparents came to visit and took on the back-breaking job of walking her all over the place.

    We had early Christmas with them, which featured these adorable Babiators.

    She's always looking around for someone to engage with. She's big on clapping and waving when she feels like it.

    She learned to shake her head no. But I think it only means no about half the time.

    Our house looks like it has been hit by a toy tornado. But most of the time she can be found playing with anything but toys. It's messy, but I like that she's trying to learn more about the world around her.


    The hair refuses to be tamed.

    She still eats pretty much anything we give her, but I don't think it will be long before she starts getting picky. We've also discovered the magic of Cheerios as both a toy and food.

    For Christmas we traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin, where she got to experience a number of firsts:

    First bone-chilling cold. It was -13 the morning we left.

    First time seeing snow.

    And eating it.


    She got to hang out with her buddy, Aldo, in Minneapolis.

    First sledding with daddy.

    We even had a sleigh ride, which was pretty cool.

    First pom-pom hat.

    First Packer jersey.

    And of course, first Christmas.

    She and her cousin Grace were pretty darn cute in their matching Christmas pjs.

    I know her Wisconsin grandparents really enjoyed the time with her. And Mike and I enjoyed our first overnight trip to Duluth, just the two of us.

    We were pretty grateful for a baby who traveled so well.

    The plane ride home was full of babies, including maybe 18-month-old twins who screamed most of the flight. Instead of being annoyed, I just felt terrible for the mom. Harper can be a handful, but lately a pretty happy one.

    I almost forgot to say that she took a few steps on her own during our trip. She's not walking yet, but as soon as she decides she's ready, she'll just do it. Then we'll really be in trouble.

  • 12 months!

    A few days ago, Harper turned 1. We survived the first year! And that is something. 

    Here she was as a teeny newborn. 

    And here she is now.

    It's incredible how someone could change so much so quickly. Here she is, month-by-month.

    In honor of her birthday I thought I would give you 12 things about Harper at 12 months:

    1. She loves yogurt.

    This girl cannot get enough yogurt. She can eat more at one sitting than I can! In fact, she eats way more than you would ever think such a tiny person could eat. But that's because she's going at full speed all day. 

    2. Her hair finally lays flat.

    Harper has had some epic hair fluff throughout her life. We always said she took after her dad that way, he of the spiky hair. But now it's finally long enough and heavy enough to lay (mostly) flat. The only exception — post-nap hair.

    3. She can walk. She just won't.


    Evidence here.

    She cruises around all day. Either that or her funky crab crawl with one leg out. But I still have to convince her to walk by herself. As with so many things, you can't make Harper do something if she doesn't want to.

    4. She's a strawberry blond. For now. 

    She's gone from brown hair to red hair to blond with a reddish tint. I can't imagine it will stay that way forever, but it seems to be sticking around for now.

    5. She gives great hugs.

    One of the many reasons I like this age is the hugs. She cuddles and gives you a full-on squeeze now. It's so sweet. I might be in the minority but I don't have a lot of nostalgia for the newborn days. This age is a blast in comparison.

    6. She's starting to form her own language.

    I think she's on the cusp of syllables turning into words. She repeats things rather than saying them totally randomly. I think mama, dada, and dog are in there somewhere. You know, the important stuff.

    7. She pretty much always has a cold.

    This picture really sums up what our January was like. First she had a stomach virus (and her first real throw up, ugh), then a cold, then another cold. Mike and I got them too, so we've been a bunch of phlegm wads all month. I didn't realize there were so many things kids could get sick from, but I'm learning fast! Thank goodness for boogie wipes. 

    8. She's nothing like me.

    I joke, but she really is so much like Mike. Both in appearance and in personality. She looks a lot like he did in baby pictures with the blond hair. And especially the way she scrunches up her nose when she laughs. She's mischievous and expressive and social. But there is one thing we all have in common — we want things done our way!

    9. The dishwasher might be her favorite toy.

    I don't know what it is about the dishwasher, but she could stand there for hours. We are going to have to start eating with only spoons so she doesn't poke herself. 

    10. She still loves to be outside.

    Fresh air goes a long way with this kid. Now that we're all well we need to plan some more adventures.

    11. She is a little too fearless sometimes.

    Harper got her first fat lip this month when she tripped and fell while cruising around. I'm sure it was more traumatic for us. Her mouth was bleeding and I couldn't tell what from. Turns out it was just a cut lip. But ooh, it makes you scared for the future!

    12. She's going through rapid-fire development.

    It's amazing to watch the wheels turning as she figures things out. You can't trick her anymore. If she wants to go somewhere or play with something, she points or shakes her head no.

    It has to be incredibly frustrating to want to do so many things and not be able to communicate those desires. So I'm sure that's the origin of a lot of her crankiness.

    She cracks us up with her dancing and her peek-a-boo games and her fascination with small dogs. (Her favorite is Mike's office dog, Juan Carlos.) She's big on handing you things, but not necessarily giving them to you. 

    We had this birthday picnic planned at a park in Berkeley, but of course the long-awaited deluge of rain happened last week. We moved the party indoors and it ended up being really fun.

    Happy birthday to my baby girl!

  • The hardest part

    Of all the things that have been difficult about having a baby — the sleep deprivation, the crying, the frustration of not knowing what to do — nothing has been harder than having a baby who doesn’t nap. It probably sounds like a random thing to complain about, selfish even. But any parent of a non-napping baby understands. It is just brutal to take care of a baby full-time without breaks. And it’s even worse when you can tell your babe is tired but either can’t or won’t fall asleep. 

    Most days Harper sleeps 25-30 minutes in the late morning and another 25-30 minutes in the afternoon. In 14 months her routine has been all over the place. But rarely has she ever slept longer than that. And usually if she has it’s because she was sleeping on me. Don’t get me wrong, those cuddles are so precious to me. But the cumulative effect of virtually non-stop parenting and breaks that are over almost as soon as they start is big. After a while you feel like you have given more of yourself than is even possible. And it’s just plain hard.

    My workload really let up in the last month and I finally had some time for reflection. The other day as I was bringing Harper home from the nanny, where she had once again taken a 2-hour nap, I just felt like I’d been socked in the stomach. I feel like I’ve tried everything, EVERYTHING, to get this girl to nap during the day and had almost no success. I try not to spend much time in a place of self pity or to focus on things I can’t change. But I felt such longing for the kind of day where we could play for a while, then I could get some work done while she napped for a couple of hours. Maybe I could even read a book, or do nothing! 

    When I was planning to stay home with Harper and work on my business part-time, I imagined it as an ideal scenario. But I never imagined that she just wouldn’t nap. And that all my work would have to be done after she went to sleep. That scenario just frankly doesn’t work. Getting the nanny was a godsend. Having my mom here, well, that will just be amazing!

    My moms email group has been a huge source of support since Harper was born. But if I have to hear one more person complaining that their child is down to just one 2-3-hour nap a day, I might explode. Do you know what I would give for just one day like that? The idea that some people have 4+ hours of nap time a day is something I can’t even fathom. 

    So maybe this Mother’s Day I don’t want breakfast in bed or sweet-smelling lotion or anything like that. I just want my baby to produce one glorious 2-hour nap. We all want things we can’t have. But what do you say, baby — just this once?

  • Harper's first real hike

    So on Easter we decided to go for a family hike on the trail that's just a few blocks from our house. The trail is steep, but short, so it's kind of instant gratification.

    We were lucky enough to find a hiking backpack for Harper at a kids consignment store.

    We were looking at having to spend $250 or so at REI for a good one, so getting this Deuter Kanga Kid for only $50 was nice. It is a less expensive model, but we liked how all the components fold into the backpack. Harper liked it too. So much that she completely conked out for most of the hike.

    Sort of like her first hiking experience, at 2 months old.

    What can I say? This girl is never more relaxed than when she's outside.

    I love all the eucalyptus trees along this trail. They make it smell so good, and the giant sheets of bark hanging down make for a cool atmosphere.

    One problem, though. There were slippery acorn things everywhere!

    Here are some more photos from the trail.

    There's quite a payoff in views at the top.

    We had a great time, so I think we'll do more family hikes when we can.

    On the way home I was practicing some close-ups with the camera. I think I'm starting to figure it out!

  • 15 months

    Harper turned 15 months today. We went to the park with our neighbor and her twins, born on the same day as Harper. Us moms were marveling at how much they'd changed and how quickly. We're so cliche.

    This age is a lot of fun. Every day I see Harper making connections that have taken months to achieve. Puzzle pieces fitting into their slots, rings stacked in perfect order. One day she just held up her little lovey that we call Baby and said "Bay-bee." We kind of flipped out.

    Other words: hi, bye-bye, dog, deedle-dee (we call it baby yodeling)

    I can't let her out of my sight for a second. She will be running down the street (always to the park), tumbling down a step or putting a dirt clod in her mouth.

    Her baby-sized pool is full of floating wood chips. Maybe we should switch to a water table?

    Her latest obsession is sorting through piles of clothes. Actually, I have no idea what she does with them, but it keeps her occupied.

    She likes wearing my skirts as shawls. It's hilarious.

    Our house is a tornado of toys every day, but I don't mind. We just pick up at the end of the day. She loves dragging her wooden snail around the house. Thank goodness we don't have to do all the pulling anymore!

    After about a month or so of not eating much, she is back to a full appetite. And I mean full. She eats and drinks all day long, it seems. But then she's burning off every calorie toddling around.

    The nanny sends me pictures of her with the other little boy in the share. Those two are pretty precious. They look like they could be related.

    I feel like the universe heard my plea about naps. It seems the long naps with the nanny have translated to longer ones at home. Of course there's a tradeoff. She's been waking up at 6 or 6:30 instead of 7:30 and staying up past 9 instead of going to bed at 8:30. You just can't win with baby sleep. I think I'll take the longer naps, though.

    I'm sure we'll have lots of adventures in the new house. Now she's really got room to run!

    My favorite part of this month, though, (aside from her discovering her popped-out belly button) has been the kisses. One day I found her leaning over and smooching a toy. Now she plants delicate kisses on your cheek and it's just about the sweetest thing ever. 

  • Officially weaned!

    Nursing Harper on Angel Island when she was about 7 months old.

    I think it was last Thursday that Harper went all day without nursing. And so, with basically no fanfare, we were done with breastfeeding. It was such a tumultuous journey with such drama at the beginning that it seems wrong for it to end so quietly. But I'll take it.

    My views on breastfeeding have really solidified since becoming a mom. I think all mothers have to make that choice for themselves whether to do it or not and for how long. But now that I know how truly unbelievably tough it can be, I am passionate about moms getting more support for their efforts. And it certainly makes me angry when they get flak for it.

    I think if I had been working full time it would have been much harder for me to continue nursing Harper for as long as I did. After those early weeks of round-the-clock pumpings (10-1-4-7, 10-1-4-7, over and over), I grew to hate pumping. So I really felt for the moms who didn't have a lot of support at work for it. I was so fortunate to be able to stay home with Harper and nurse her on demand for over a year. It's one of the accomplishments in my life that I am most proud of. You never can tell, but I think the fact that she stayed so healthy for the first 6 months of her life was in large part because of my milk.

    I have memories of nursing her in all kinds of places — on a very windy Golden Gate overlook, in Delores Park with pot smoke wafting by, squished in the backseat of our car, and especially in all kinds of woodsy locales when we got a chance to get out of town. It's been a wild ride, and I'm so glad I stuck it out. But it's also great to have a little freedom — and my old clothes back!

  • Toddler adventures

    At 16 months, Harper is one adventurous toddler. She's figured out how to climb up onto chairs and then stand up. So I'm constantly going, "sit down!" while she teeters on a chair. 

    While Grandma Corey was here, Harper picked out a talking dog named Violet. I think she carried Violet around, constantly pushing her paws for new songs, for about 48 straight hours.

    We also got her a water table, since she was constantly trying to get into her little pool with clothes and shoes on.

    She loves to scoop out the water and try to drink it (gross!), but she's also started watering my plants and refilling the dog bowl.

    I think she's at the age where she's very big on trying to imitate what we do. I'm constantly surprised at what she can understand even though she doesn't really talk yet.

    The other day she fell off one of the deck steps and scraped her forehead. Then she got a scrape on one knee, then the other. I think she's going to go through childhood with constantly scraped knees. She's a very curious soul who kind of charges through life. I have to admire her for that (even if it scares me).

    Despite the vigilance required to parent a toddler, I'm finding that I'm able to enjoy parenthood a lot more these days. She's more independent, less cranky, and a much better sleeper. Though her schedule still swings pretty wildly, she has been sleeping much later in the mornings and taking some long naps. She only wakes at night if there is something unusual going on, like houseguests, or if she has a dirty diaper.

    The other day I was at the dentist and the hygienist was telling me about how she had a 1-year-old who didn't sleep through the night. I told her about how much Harper had changed in the last few months, which seemed to make her feel a lot better. Like so many hard things in life, it gets better!

  • Some thoughts on raising a girl

    I read this post on Design Mom about the #yesallwomen discussion the other day and it really struck a chord with me. It's about all the uncomfortable experiences, big and little, we have as women that we tend to brush off as "just the way it is." But if you really think about it, these things can't be OK with us.

    In my life I can't say I've experienced much blatant sexism, as in "you can't do X because you're female," and thank goodness for that. But there have been many, many other small things (paper cuts, as someone called them) that add up over a lifetime to a feeling of being vulnerable and less than. I remember at my first job at a fast-food restaurant there was another guy who worked there who would stand in the doorway so I had to touch him in order to get by. And one of the managers used to punch me on the arm. I know it was in a joking way, but like, why was it OK for him to touch a 16-year-old girl he barely knew? I don't know how many times I've been cat-called while running, ugh. And I remember reading "Wild" and thinking how sad it was that a woman couldn't do a spectacular hike like that without fear of being assaulted.

    There are so many ways in which our culture still needs to change to be more fair to women, and it feels so much more important now that I have a daughter. I really don't want her to have all the same struggles when she grows up, but I fear she will. (Don't even get me started on the division of color in the toy aisle...) On the other hand, I sense a change that I've never quite felt before, and it gives me hope.

    All the discussions "Lean In" brought up about women in leadership roles, all the commercials that have been going viral that address the way we urge girls away from math and science, all the brave women on college campuses speaking up about rapes going unpunished — those are all conversations that are so key to our girls having a better experience.

    I think the one thing that desperately needs to change is asking, or demanding, more from men. I've often thought the conversation about rape has to stop focusing on women and become much more about the men who commit rapes. Who are all these seemingly normal men who think it's an acceptable thing to do? And why? And why aren't we upset about THAT?

    So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm glad we're finally waking up and realizing the ways the feminist movement is far from over. And I think as moms we have to be honest about our struggles so our kids can learn what is and isn't OK. Harper is such an adventurous little girl, and I just hope we can raise her without putting up any barriers to her success. I hope that someday when I tell her she can be anything she wants to be when she grows up that it's really true.

  • 18 months

    Harper is just about to be 19 months, but I can still get in under the wire!

    She is really turning that corner from baby to kid lately. Thankfully she still has that delicious pudge and adorable toes, but in other ways she looks more grown up every day. 

    She's big on imitation. Loves to wear our clothes, which is so cute.

    Her hair's long enough to be pulled back, but whenever I try to do it she just pulls it out.

    She's gone through phases of wanting to sit in her car seat in the middle of the room or climbing up into her stroller just to hang out.

    Her appetite is unbelievable. Sometimes it seems like she eats as much as we do.

    But I guess you need a lot of calories to fuel toddler energy.

    The best part about this age is watching her starting to form language. She has new words all the time: brush (for brushing her teeth), bubbles, duck and various other animals and animal sounds.

    Hearing her teeny voice across the room just kills me.

    Unfortunately it turned out that we could not escape the 18-month sleep regression. But I think we're so used to sleeplessness now, it's just part of the deal.

    Harper has a doctor's appointment soon so we'll find out how much she's grown. After several months of going down on the growth chart I think she's catching up!

  • DIY Brobee cake

    I'm excited to share the cake I made for Harper's 2nd birthday because it was one of those rare DIY projects that turned out exactly like I hoped it would. But it also took a last-minute change of plans to get there, and that's worth sharing, too.

    If you haven't yet discovered the awesomeness that is Yo Gabba Gabba, I highly recommend it! It's one of those kids shows that is very much for parents, too. Lots of quirky actors guest star with their "dancey dances" and indie bands play songs. (We record old episodes on Nick Jr. so we always have some to watch.) It's kind of like if Barney was on an acid trip or something. Strange, but lots of fun. And Harper's favorite character is Brobee, the little green guy.

    I figured I could fashion a Brobee cake by making one rectangular cake the body and another cake the arms, which did work. I decided to make one 9x13-inch chocolate cake and one 9x13-inch vanilla cake so people would have more than one flavor option. I used boxed mixes to save time, but I can also recommend the recipes we used for our wedding cakes, which I blogged about on Goodsmiths (RIP...).

    The body and legs were easy. I just removed a long skinny triangle to create legs. For the arms, I cut the chocolate cake into thirds lengthwise, and used two of them for arms. I rounded the corners where the hands would be and cut the bottom of the arms at an angle so they would fit next to the body. The other third I cut in half and made one part the head and used the rest to cut triangles to go on top of the head.

    That left a lot of delicious cake to snack on.

    I had to add a little piece of vanilla cake right next to where the head attached because there was a height difference. Then I smoothed it all over with one layer of buttercream frosting. It took every last bit of a half batch of buttercream to cover the cake.

    I did this part the night before so that I wouldn't be overwhelmed with cake decorating right before the party and I'm so glad I did. Here's what he looked like before the final decorating.

    By the way, I used a piece of foam core board covered with parchment paper to hold the cake. It worked really well. I certainly didn't have a plate big enough to hold a cake like that.

    This is where I had to stray from my original plan. Inspired by this Pinterest post, I had gone out and bought some piping bags and a grass tip at JoAnn (who has an amazing selection of cake decorating tools, if you need any). But when I started piping on the buttercream it very quickly started going wrong. The "fur" was coming out all squiggly and then eventually the tip kept getting clogged and it would squirt out way too much. So I kind of stopped for a minute and decided it was not worth the effort it was going to take to keep using that tip. So I abandoned it and just spread on the frosting with my favorite little offset spatula. And though it took some precision, it was much faster and it looked great.

    I've had mixed results with gel paste food coloring so I ended up buying a bottle of liquid green food coloring to dye the frosting. Basically I added enough food coloring (combined with a little bit of yellow I already had) to get a light green color. I frosted on all the light green stripes. Then I mixed in more green to make the remaining frosting darker and used that to fill in the dark green stripes. This is where it really helped to have a Pinterest photo and a stuffed doll to look at for inspiration.

    For the details on the face, I used these Wilton decorating icing bags that come with tips on them. I bought one white, one black and one red (about $3 each). I just freehanded the eyes, mouth and unibrow and then iced over the triangles on the head.

    I feel like it was just luck that the icing came out the perfect thickness for the details I needed. The mouth was especially easy.

    It's one of those things where you have to take a deep breath and accept that you have one shot at getting it right. I suppose you could scrape off the frosting if you messed it up and try again, but I was really hoping not to have to do that.

    In the end, Brobee looked like this. (I wiped off the excess crumbs with a wet cloth before serving the cake.)

    The cake was a huge hit, and I think people really appreciated the two-flavor option. I also made some gluten-free cupcakes with green frosting. I'm finding that option to be more important now (plus some people just like cupcakes!).

    The most important part, though, was that Harper liked the cake. She was so excited when everyone sang to her, and she definitely ate a piece of cake.

    It was even better with the homemade coconut ice cream our friend Joanna brought. You know you have good friends when they bring you something like that!

    I don't know how much it would have cost to buy a cake like this from a bakery, but I'm guessing several hundred dollars. I think with everything, including the frosting supplies, I spent about $30 to make this cake. Plus, I love being able to do something like this for her. Sometimes — often — I feel like I don't know what the heck I'm doing as a mom. But damn it, I can make a cake. 

    The next day, this was all that was left of Brobee, so I think it was a success.

    Next year, Daniel Tiger?

  • Harper at 2

    Sometimes Harper wakes up from a nap and my mom and I will go, "Does she look different?" She literally seems to change hour to hour.

    She still has a tangle of strawberry blond hair (fine and mostly straight like daddy's), but it's a lot longer now. Sometimes I give it a trim, but she's yet to have a real haircut. I'm a little afraid of that process...

    The biggest change, of course, is language. She seemed kind of stuck on a few words for a long time. We were kind of surprised, given our communications backgrounds, that she wasn't more verbal compared to her peers. But this week has been like an explosion of words and words turning into phrases.

    Her favorites are "No, no, Sadie," "Mommy, (where) are you?", "Uh, oh, what happened?" and things like "Ready, set, go!"

    I recently heard the phrase "three-nager" to describe the personalities of three-year-olds. But I have to say that Harper seems like a two-nager at times. She can change her attitude on a dime and you can see her not knowing what to do with her frustration.

    Thankfully, she is spunky, giggly, and curious most of the time. Her energy is just astounding! Sometimes she will take off down our long hallway or the driveway outside and just do laps yelling "run, run!"

    She got her first real shoes this month. She was tripping and falling a lot in her soft shoes and seemed to need more support. She's a pretty fearless climber and I think she is about ready for a tricycle or a balance bike.

    She's less inclined to put a strange thing in her mouth now, but you never know when she is going to go digging through the trash, or stepping in dog poop or any number of destructive things.

    Sleep has been a mixed bag. She had been sleeping pretty well at night and taking her usual scattered naps and then we hit a patch a few weeks ago that was far worse than the 18-month regression. I thought maybe she was getting a big molar because she was just so out of sorts and only pain reliever seemed to calm her down.

    Now she seems back to normal and no new teeth. So who knows. I am pretty desperate for a break or a vacation and really wanting to travel more this year. I know now that breaks are key to mama happiness and that's one of the things I really need to work on in the future.

    The selfie photo reminds me that we actually had to take the iPad away completely because she became so obsessed with "Pen." Now she is obsessed with Daniel Tiger on PBS, but that one doesn't bother me as much. Hopefully we can bring it back in the future because I really liked some of the learning apps. But man was she attached to that thing!

    Lately she LOVES baths. She practices counting with her toys and it's so cute. She likes being in the car and it is about the only way she'll fall asleep for naps. She loves to run wild in the aisles of a store. We're working on finding more activities to do with her. I think the aquarium and zoo would be fun.

    I do have the tiniest bit of sentimentality for her teeny baby days, but really each stage has been so much more fun and interesting than the last. And this one in particular with breakthroughs in communication is so big, I'm really enjoying it. And you better believe I indulge in sleepy cuddles as much as possible lately. Those are the best.

  • Finally, naps

    I think it's been about 2 weeks now that Harper has been taking a two-hour nap every day. I can't express to you how revolutionary that is in our house!

    She had been starting to enjoy her bedtime routine more at night, even to the point of asking to go to bed when she got sleepy. So I guess I had the sense that she might be ready to commit to a nap routine as well. One day I just said that if she wasn't asleep by X time, I would put her in bed. So I did. And she protested a little, but I think she slept about an hour an a half the first day.

    After that she pretty quickly got into a routine of going to sleep at 2:30 and sleeping until 4:30, sometimes later. I just couldn't believe it. I was really stunned that it was that easy to get a child that was taking 30-45-minute naps at all different times of day to sleep consistently. Sometimes she had even been skipping her nap altogether.

    What's stranger is that the long naps haven't really affected her bedtime or wake-up time. She does seem to be in a better mood than before. I can imagine that she's been tired for a long time. So days have taken on a completely different rhythm, with an actual break every afternoon for both mom and I. Of course, Harper is still a 2-year-old, so it's always an adventure. But it's better.

    This all hit me in kind of an unexpected way, though. At first it made me really upset. I just felt like it was the first thing I had done really wrong as a parent and I felt really dumb. Like the answer was always there and I just couldn't figure it out. I felt I had tried everything to get her to nap and always failed. But I guess I had never really tried to get her to sleep at the same time and place every day with an established routine. Maybe because my days are always so different it didn't seem possible to be consistent.

    So I've had to work through those feelings and I feel a lot better now. All I can do is move forward having learned a big lesson. And who knows, she may have just needed to be ready.

    We just heard from the preschool we were planning to send Harper to that they have an opening. So I guess she is about to have a whole new routine that will certainly require a nap. Good timing!

  • Bay Area fun for kids

    I realized that my Bay Area travel guide really needed an update, so I added a whole bunch more restaurants and things to do and took off some that either closed or aren't really hot spots for us. And because I know it's a huge list, I still have my top 10 list so you can cut to the chase.

    Mike and Harper at Codornices Park in Berkeley. This one has a cool hill slide and a tunnel to the Rose Garden. 

    Now that we're parents, though, we have a whole new perspective on travel and dining out. Most touristy places — well, let's be honest, most everywhere in the Bay Area — can be crowded with long lines and inadequate parking. When you're hauling around small children and all the stuff that goes with them, you want to make sure you're going to be able to keep them entertained while finding things like clean bathrooms and high chairs. So, I wanted to put together a list of our favorite places to hang out with kids. When I first moved here I thought this wasn't a particularly kid friendly place (more like dog friendly!) but now I realize that there are plenty of super fun places that cater to kids. You just have to find them. *When in doubt, search Red Tricycle.

    Here are a few that are definitely worth checking out:

    Steam trains and Little Farm. It's a nice drive through the eucalyptus trees to reach Tilden Regional Park, which is up in the Berkeley hills. You can stop at one of the overlooks for a view of the whole bay. Then continue on to one of our favorite stops, the steam trains. It's about a 10-minute ride through the woods in a cute little train. There's a spot nearby where you can have a picnic in the grass.

    You can also drive to the carousel and the Little Farm, where kids can feed farm animals. And there are some great hiking trails in the area. 

    Children's Fairyland. They call this Oakland's storybook theme park, and I'd say that's a perfect description. It's full of tiny houses to explore, plus a train ride, puppet show and other performances. Bigger kids can go down slides and ride the carousel. 

    Harper inside one of the little houses in Fairyland.

    Lake Merritt. Fairyland is right next to gorgeous Lake Merritt, which has a great playground and nature center. Harper likes to watch the ducks and geese. There's a huge lawn where you can have a picnic. 

    Running near the playground at Lake Merritt.

    Bay Area Discovery Museum. This place is much more than a museum. It's like a theme park without all the schmaltz. Kids can explore different areas, inside and out, with climbing obstacles, water to splash in, musical instruments and a lot more.

    It's a little pricey, but the first Wednesday of the month is free! Plus, you can't beat the Golden Gate Bridge view and the proximity to Sausalito and other fun things in Marin. 

    The view from the parking lot at the discovery museum.

    Treasure Island Flea. The last weekend of every month there's a huge flea market on Treasure Island. It's only $3 admission and kids under 12 are free. They have activities set up for kids and food trucks, where you can get a really yummy lunch. The market's great, but it's also just a fun place to hang out. 

    Crissy Field and East Beach. Harper loves the water, so even if it's freezing cold, we still have fun taking her to the beach. The one near Crissy Field is right in San Francisco and has great views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge. It has a nice walking/bike trail and bathrooms nearby. 

    She also loved the beach in Pescadero, which is a bit of a drive but a nice getaway. 

    Lafayette Park playground. If you're looking for a playground in the city, you'll love the one at Lafayette Park. We went there for a birthday party and couldn't believe how nice it was.  

    The playground at Lafayette park.

    Berkeley Marina/Cesar Chavez Park. When Harper was a baby, my moms group used to meet here to walk our strollers on the wide path through this waterfront park. People come to "kite hill" to fly kites here, which is fun to watch. Nearby at the marina there is a nice playground and then a big adventure playground for older kids.

    I might do a separate list for kid-friendly restaurants, but there are a few places I can recommend. For breakfast, we love Mel's Diner. They have a bunch of bay area locations (apparently these are different from the Mel's Drive-Ins, which would also be good), which have kids menus, crayons and balloons. For Mexican food, the Talavera in Berkeley is great because it's right next to a little park. For ice cream, we love Fentons in Oakland. You can get huge sundaes to share, and although there's sometimes a line, you can usually get a table pretty quickly. 

    Baby-size sundae at Fenton's.

    I will keep adding to this list as we discover new things!

  • No. 2

    I can't believe I forgot to mention that we're having a baby!

    One of my lab tests got lost (WTF?) so it took longer than expected for us to reveal the news on Facebook. But yes, Harper is getting a sibling around Dec. 30. We probably won't find out for a few more weeks whether it is a boy or girl, but we are definitely finding out.

    It will be interesting to see if this winds up being a Christmas, New Years, or super late baby. We keep joking that we need a December baby for tax purposes!

    So far everything has gone well, although it has been harder than last time for sure. I started my job right around the time I found out I was pregnant, so it was a lot of new things at once. The nausea was a little worse and I feel a lot bigger a lot sooner. I get these pains under my ribcage that I probably didn't get until I was 6 months along last time. But one bonus is that at 16 weeks I can already feel some little movements.

    I'm hoping to start prenatal yoga soon, and I'm thinking it might be fun to take a little babymoon in Calistoga. I hear there is supposed to be a big energy boost in the second trimester, but I'm still waiting for that to kick in...

  • Harper at 2.5

    I just put this in the kids category rather than baby - I guess that says it all.

    She loved when grandad played guitar for her.

    Harper has changed so much in the last few months. I find myself wanting to freeze her in time when she does something really sweet and funny. She'll be a total monster one minute and then the next minute she'll cuddle up and say, "I love you SO MUCH!"

    She's a constant imitator, both of what we say and what she sees on her favorite shows, Daniel Tiger and Peg + Cat. One time my mom walked in the room and she was playing her xylophone like a "pinano" while watching a character play a piano on TV. It was just so precious. I'm not one to use that word often, but there's no other way to describe her right now.

    I do see her trying to exert her will more. Like with very basic things I ask her to do like put her shoes on. She's testing boundaries and realizing her power. I'm starting to understand all the things I've heard about the 3-year-old personality. I'm definitely concerned about how she'll react to the new baby since she'll be almost 3 when he arrives. (Oh yeah, we just found out it's a boy!)

    She does not want to talk about having a baby brother at all. She will repeat pretty much anything you say, but if you bring up a baby in mommy's tummy or being a big sister she just shuts off. It's so weird. How could she know that?

    But we have more pressing concerns right now with potty training. We've been putting it off for a while, but I think she's finally ready (and we're finally ready to commit).

     

    My dad and stepmom came for a visit recently, and they had a lot of fun taking Harper on some outings. The last time Mike took her to the Little Farm she was terrified of the cows, but not this time. She LOVED feeding the animals. She was just cracking up the whole time.

    And I know everyone says this, but my god, their energy! I'm still extra tired all the time and I would give anything to suck a little bit of energy out of her.

    On the plus side, she has been sleeping so much better lately. Pretty consistent 2-hour naps and longer nights without waking. I don't know what the secret is with this kid, but I'm just going with it.

    She's still a little daredevil. When we walked around the houseboats in Sausalito she kept going right up to the railings next to the water and poking her head through. I think she would have just jumped in the water if we let her.

    Another thing she really seems to enjoy is gardening. She "helps" us pick cherry tomatoes and puts them in the back of her little dump truck.

    She is also still very much an outdoors gal. She decided our overflowing geranium plant was the perfect hangout spot and sometimes I find her laying there.

    Large trees are not all that common in our neighborhood so when she sees one she will literally go up and hug it.

    She still has a great appetite, and it must be fueling her growth because she has really stretched out. She's pretty tall compared to her peers now, so I think she is going to end up taller than me.

    We've had her in part-time daycare for a few months now and it's kind of a mixed bag. They say she is really reserved and plays by herself there, which is the total opposite of how she behaves at home. I think she'd probably open up more if she was there daily but we just can't afford it. So we'll see.

    This next 6 months will hold a lot of change for this little girl, but she is nothing if not resilient.

  • Best baby gifts, IMHO

    Given the incredible baby boom among my friends and family lately, I have been thinking a lot about the best and most useful kinds of gifts you can get for a new parent, especially a first-time one. When I think about all the stuff we've acquired since we had Harper it's pretty overwhelming. But only a few things have been truly useful over and over again.

    This list represents super helpful universal gifts that you could give someone, even that person who already has everything. Most are really affordable and some may be life-changing!

    • Carter's jersey baby blankets (top left)
    The super popular Aden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets are great, but we ended up using these jersey blankets a lot more, and still do. They come in really cute designs and you can usually find them for a reasonable price at places like Marshall's and Burlington Coat Factory.

    • IKEA bath towel
    It has the worst name ever — Stanka — but this towel is cute, gender neutral and super thick considering its $8 price tag.

    • Carter's wash cloths
    These are the perfect combination of soft, thin and adorable. Carter's also makes a discounted version for Target stores.

    • Burt's Bees baby shampoo and body wash
    I love this one because it's gentle and smells great. We use it for bubble bath, too. One bottle lasts a looong time.

    • Bath toy set
    Bath toys are also a common gift, but I absolutely loved the Very Hungry Caterpillar set. It comes with a cute little book and some squirty animals. So sweet!

    Honest Company wipe travel packs
    We did the Honest bundle for a while, and in the end it was more than we needed to buy regularly. But it helped me discover these handy travel packs of wipes, which I have shoved in every diaper bag, car pocket and purse I have. They're also available for $1 each at Target now.

    • Planet wise wet bags
    These are an absolute must! And it doesn't hurt to have a few in different sizes. We used them for cloth diapers when we were out and about, and also as a diaper pail for the cloth ones at home. They're great for holding peed-on clothes during potty training. We probably washed our diaper pail one about 200 times and it's still going!

    • Triple paste ointment
    We had very few issues with diaper rash until one period when we could not find anything to help heal a rash that lasted for weeks. We even had a prescription cream! Finally another mom told me about Triple Paste. It's expensive, about $20 a jar, but it was the only thing that worked for us. I'm a huge fan now.

    • Forehead thermometer
    Another thing I didn't know existed until I had a kid. You do not want to mess around with trying to get a temperature from a kid's underarm or butt when they're feverish and squirmy. This works with one firm swipe across the forehead. We use it for ourselves now!

    Vibrating teether
    This feels so good on their gums when they're teething. The freezer ones are a pain and they didn't work for us anyway. 

    Aveeno baby sunscreen
    This sunscreen turned out to be my favorite. A lot of the eco-friendly ones are hard to rub in or leave a chalky residue. But this one goes on really smooth (a plus with a wiggly baby). It's also really nice to have a sunscreen stick in your purse or diaper bag, just in case. 

    • Baby Bjorn or any rubberized bib
    Bibs are a dime a dozen as far as shower gifts go. I have a huge pile of them I've never used. But these genius bibs with the little trough at the bottom are amazing. They catch all the food goo and then you can wash them out in just a few seconds. 

    Placemat for restaurants
    This $5 investment will save you so many headaches when you go out to eat. It folds up pretty small in a diaper bag and then you just roll it out on the table and let the kid make a mess on it. It has raised edges to catch any goop. 

    • Other feeding items:
    -Lifefactory glass bottles with sippy caps - We love that these come with a protective sleeve. And when your kid ages out of breastmilk, you can fill the bottles with something else and use the sippy caps instead of nipples. 
    -Evenflo old-school glass bottles - If you're bothered by the plastic bottles that come with a Medela breast pump, you can screw these into the pump instead. 
    -Mesh feeders - These are perfect for baby's first solid foods. You might need a few once they get teeth!
    -Snack catchers - I was so excited to discover these. They cut way down on spilled goldfish and Cheerios. 
    -plastic silverware - We learned that you can never have too many spoons, so just get a whole bunch so they'll last you a while. IKEA has a nice larger set for toddlers. 
    -BabyBjorn no-spill cups - wish I'd known about these sooner.

    Sun hat with a chin strap
    Maybe that sounds obvious, but you definitely don't want yours to blow away. And you'll find yourself needing that sun hat a lot if you have a summer baby. 

    • Robeez soft shoes
    These were the shoes that helped Harper learn to walk and they were wonderful. They slip on over chubby feet and they come in all sorts of adorable designs. Don't bother getting anything less than a 6-12 month size. They are perfect for that new-walking window of time.

    • Slim-fit pajamas with zippers
    Do not make the mistake of getting tons of pajamas with snaps. That is such a pain! Always go with zip pajamas. Carter's makes snug fit pajamas that we really liked. Target's Circo brand also sells them up to 12 months, I think. And of course if you can afford Hanna Andersson pjs, go for it. 

    Hopefully that gives you some ideas next time you need to buy a gift. It's also a good reminder for myself, now that we'll have a baby again soon. There are SO MANY products to wade through. It really helps to focus on the things you actually need. 

    *More on this topic: useful and not-so-useful items and helpful newborn stuff. Those are more for planning your own registry. 

  • Maxwell Michael Corey

    We welcomed baby Max at 8 a.m. on January 5. He was 8 pounds 1 ounce and 20.5 inches long. I wanted to share his birth story because it turned out so differently than what I had pictured and planned for. Despite the fact that I had been feeling like I was going to give birth for about 2 weeks, he had to be coaxed out in the end. I guess he just really likes to be cozy. We have not stopped snuggling him since he was born!

    If you're squeamish you might want to skip this part, but I feel like it's important to include everything. So, at my 39-week appointment my doctor said that everything looked great and I was basically ready to have the baby. I had been feeling a lot of contractions and I suspected I would go into labor any time. So when she offered to strip my membranes to get things going, I said yes. The next day I lost my mucus plug, so I figured that would be the start of labor. Nope! Not only did it not work, my contractions pretty much completely stopped.

    I should mention that this whole time my main concern was having a too-fast labor and not being able to get to the hospital in time. I feel like everyone I talked to with a second baby mentioned the speed. I was supposed to have 2 doses of antibiotics during labor for a positive strep B test, so I thought I might not be able to do that. My reference point was Harper's birth, since everything happened so fast after my water broke.

    Past 40 weeks and feeling like I was out of room!

    So when I went to my 40 week appointment at 40 weeks and 5 days with no signs of labor, I suspected that my doctor was going to suggest induction. With my age, gestational diabetes diagnosis and the strep B thing, I knew I would be pushing it to go past 41 weeks. So I thought, maybe by Friday. But she said she recommended induction by Wednesday. And not only that, but she was working at the hospital that night (Monday), so we could actually go in that night for the induction. And that would be the only way to guarantee that I would have her as my doctor. Mike and I talked it over, and even though we were kind of freaked out to go that soon, we felt it was time. I didn't think 2 days would make much of a difference. So we went home, had a nice dinner, and then headed back to the hospital at 8 p.m.

    The nurse they gave me was really wacky — interesting in sort of a Bay Area middle-aged hippie way. But very awkward. She was nice, but she took forever to do all the paperwork and then missed getting my IV in twice. So by the time they gave me the Miso pill it was like 9:45. Side note: I couldn't believe how tiny this pill was that was going to make me have a baby, and they cut it in half!

    Realized later that this bruise was from the missed IVs.

    Anyway, we hung out and waited for things to get going, which they did, probably around 1 a.m. By then I had a different nurse, who was super nice and supportive of our intention to avoid pain meds. But I was getting so annoyed at being hooked up to all the monitors, plus the IV for strep B antibiotics. It seemed like every time I moved a little, one of them slipped and someone would come in to fix it. If the baby's heart rate dipped at all they wanted me to also wear oxygen and it just made me paranoid that they would end up pushing me to get a C-section or something. That part made me really long for laboring at home naturally.

    By 2 a.m. they said my contractions were regular enough that I could forego another dose of Miso, so I just kept laboring. I used the birth ball a lot — it was awesome. By early morning the contractions were incredibly strong and close together and I was having a really hard time getting through them. I couldn't even sit on the ball anymore, I had to stand up and lean on Mike. I was so ready to give up, I thought I must be going through transition. But my water hadn't broken. With Harper, that was the thing that made everything change in a hurry, so I was desperate for that. I knew I had orders for pain medication at the ready and I was seriously starting to think I would need them, but Mike was very encouraging about the fact that I had done this before and I was going to get through it. I just did not experience that intensity level with Harper's birth. Hers was WAY longer, but I was able to handle it better.

    When my doctor came in at 7 a.m. to tell me she had to leave because her shift was over, I was bummed. But honestly I didn't care who delivered the baby as long as he came out ASAP! She said I was only 5 cm dilated but seemed to be transitioning. She offered to break my water and I said definitely, yes. She said, I think you'll have a baby by 10 a.m. At first I thought she had said 8:10 and we all laughed about that. But actually I knew it would be sooner than 10. Pretty much as soon as my doctor left, the contractions were just unbearably strong and I was a total mess. Lots of tears and saying "I can't do this" and that sort of thing. Thankfully the crazier things got, the more calm Mike got. And the nurse helping me at the time had been there for 37 years, so she was cool as a cucumber. I did not think I could get through it, but before long my body was basically pushing the baby out. It didn't take long at all before he was crowning and they were rushing in the next doctor. She barely got her gloves on before Max came out at 8 a.m. Maybe in 2-3 pushes. I can't tell you the relief at that moment.

    When Harper was born they took her to be checked, weighed and cleaned right away. But with Max they left him on my chest for a good long time. I really appreciated that.

    I think our nurse had a little bit of photojournalist in her - I don't even remember her taking these pictures.

    Grammie meeting Max for the first time.

    On reflection, I think my body reacted very strongly to the Miso and gave me contractions that were much more powerful and closer together than with natural labor. I'm not sure it was totally worth it to have no pain meds with that kind of pain. But at least it was over quickly. I still think the best way to labor with a healthy pregnancy is probably home birth. No monitors, no pressure to have interventions that pile up. Just trust in the process. But I'm at peace with this birth. We had a healthy boy in just a few hours.

    The other great thing has been how much easier the last few days have been this time around. We were able to leave the hospital a day early, and they hardly bothered us at all while we were recovering. With Harper's hospital stay, they were constantly interrupting us and we got no rest. Max did cry pretty much all night that first night in the hospital, but that's how we learned he is a baby that LOVES to be held.

    It felt like a miracle when he latched on to nurse pretty much right away. I have some of the same struggles with breastfeeding him as I did with Harper, but for the most part he's eating great and gaining weight. He didn't have jaundice and have to be under the lights like Harper. He seems to be a little more chill, but I think his personality is still a big question mark. He sure is a cutie pie, though. I just keep marveling at how tiny and soft he is. I know these moments will be gone so soon, so I am really trying to soak them up.

    I was pretty worried about how Harper would react to Max, but she has been such a great big sister. As I suspected, she really wants to help when we are changing his diaper or putting him in his rocker. Sometimes 3-year-old help is not the most helpful, but we indulge her.

    Of course my hormones are raging, but it's very emotional seeing these two together. Our family does feel a lot more complete and it's just nice to feel like so many of the things I wanted in life have come to fruition. Welcome, Max!

  • Max, 1 month

    I'm a little late posting this, but I'm going on 5 weeks of poor sleep, so I think I can be forgiven.

    Mr. Max just had his 1 month doctor's appointment. He was 10 pounds 12 ounces and 22.5 inches long, so I think it's safe to say he is growing well. He's already gotten a cold from Harper, so I guess with a toddler around his immune system will be getting tested often. Props to whoever invented the snot sucker!

    Max eats like a champ, though we've had some breastfeeding challenges. I saw a lactation consultant (and can we just take a moment to THANK GOD these people exist) and with practice and time, we got through our issues. Honestly, the fact that I had to pump extra bottles was kind of nice because then other people could feed him while I slept.

    Also, thanks Obama for the free breast pump!

    While the past month has been pretty stressful and sleepless at times, it was nothing like Harper's overwhelming first month. There is a definite ease with the second baby, and it helps that he is pretty happy and loves to cuddle.

    This time I know he will cry for no apparent reason, wake at all times of night, and expel every bodily fluid. Because that's what newborns do. Accepting those challenges has made it a lot easier to appreciate the good things. I think I spent most of the first week just staring at Max and feeling weepy. Both because he's wonderful and because it felt instantly like our family was complete. I just felt really lucky that so many of the things I wanted in life came to be.

    Harper continues to be great with him. She's a little rough at times, but she just wants to help. She asks to hold him a lot, which totally melts my heart.

    While Harper was kind of an odd baby in the sense of not minding being cold and always wanting to be outside, Max likes to be super warm and he wants to be held all the time. Sometimes that's hard, but at least he is willing to be worn in a carrier. He just passes out and makes these contented little noises.

    He's already trying hard to hold his head up, and he occasionally smiles. Once I put him on his activity mat and he darn near rolled over. He's a strong little guy!

    Mike's parents were here for a few days when he was like 2 weeks old, and that was really nice. Since they had another grandson born the day before Max, they are really soaking up the grandbaby time.

    Max had a lot of baby acne in the beginning, but now it's starting to clear up and he's starting to chub out.

    He is bigger than Harper was, but oh my gosh they look so similar. I look back at pictures of her and I can't tell who's who. It's amazing. I'm wondering if that will continue. He's already getting that strawberry blond colored hair that she got.

    As much as I've gotten used to my middle-of-the-night feedings with episodes of Felicity in the background (how is it I never watched that?), I am hoping that in the next month Max will start sleeping longer stretches and we can all catch up on sleep a little. Our shift system for nights has been great, but I think we're ready for the next phase.

    And here's hoping that this little cuddlebug takes long naps when he finally gets on a schedule. And he will be getting on a schedule!

  • Harper at 3

    I think this photo pretty much sums up what it's like to have a "threenager." Harper is bossy, demanding, temperamental, and a little cray sometimes. But she bounces between that and sweet, cuddly, creative, curious and so many other interesting qualities that it's hard for me to say that three is as bad as I feared it might be.

    Honestly it seems like having a baby brother has made her a little easier to communicate with because she can't demand all of our attention all the time. And she wants to be more independent so she likes helping with him.

    Sometimes she goes, "baby Max is so cute!"

    For example, she always wants to bring the Boppy pillow to whoever is holding Max. She's a little aggressive with putting in his pacifier, but it's cute that she wants to give it to him.

    She's also been playing with her dolls more, trying to imitate what we're doing.

    This picture just slays me.

    When Mike's parents were here, she interacted with them in a way I'd never seen before. Where before she had been hesitant to play with people she doesn't see very often, she made an instant connection with them.

    She let both of them read her books, which strangely, she doesn't do often. Her version of reading is to turn the pages before you can get a line out. But I do think that will change as she is able to sit still longer.

    She LOVED the Christmas tree when we had it. She kept asking to go see it, and then she would name every ornament.

    She got a giant floor puzzle for Christmas, which got her really into the idea of doing puzzles. Now she's got at least one going at all times.

    It's hard for me to deal with the "toy soup" she creates daily in our living room, but it takes a lot of toys to keep this girl entertained. Her current favorites are her finger puppets (she is constantly singing this finger family song where each finger is a member of the family), and her Peppa Pig figurines.

    She's starting to have a much bigger imagination. She play cooks us meals and she does the most adorable routine where her Ernie doll goes to sleep, then wakes up, brushes his teeth and has breakfast.

    She's still a great eater and will try most foods, even if she prefers her favorites.

    Of course I am biased, but I think she gets more beautiful every day.

    Her hair is turning darker, but I think it will still get sun-bleached in the warmer months.

    She is in the process of moving up to the 3-year-old class at her daycare, and I think that will be good for her. She's had a lot of shyness with kids her age, but I see her opening up much more on the playground now.

    Seeing Max as a baby now, reminds me of how quickly these years pass (even though as they say, the days are very long). So I am really trying to take the tantrums in stride and just go with the roller coaster that is life with little ones. Before you know it, Harper will be a teenager for real, and I'll wish for those 3-year-old cuddles.

  • Max: 2 months

    I'm almost a month late posting this, so I guess that tells you what kind of month it's been. Max has been doing really well, but we've been working on some improvements to the house and Mike was gone for a few days for work, so we've been really busy.

    Thankfully auntie Megan was here for a few days. She is so good with Max.

    Harper has also been playing with Max a lot. She likes to lay in the bed and pretend to be him. He loves to watch her.

    Right around 10 weeks, Max started getting really fussy. I wasn't sure why, but then I remembered that Harper also had a really difficult time around then. It's a "wonder week" with lots of brain development, so that makes sleep and everything else more intense. He also got another cold, poor thing, so I'm sure that didn't feel good.

    One thing that has been great about this month is all the smiles. Those baby grins are just the best.

    We've had fun dressing him in all his little outfits, too. He has quite the wardrobe!

    Sometimes he outgrows things after only wearing them once, so we have to keep rotating in new things. I've had the hardest time finding socks that fit him, so now he is in a 6-12 month sock. He still likes to be cozy warm all the time.

    Sleep also got better this month. I was starting to get pretty fried from all the night feedings, but he has been going longer and longer stretches. Similar to Harper at this age, he sleeps most of the night until an early morning feeding. Sometimes there's a second one. Once he even slept the whole night!

    Naps have been a lot tougher. He will take a long nap, thank goodness. But most of the time we have to resort to wearing him in the carrier. My neck got so strained at one point I could barely move it, so I have been trying not to rely on that too much. But it's hard. Trying to put him to sleep in his crib does not work at all.

    I shouldn't say he doesn't nap outside the carrier. It's more of a battle to keep him asleep. I'm just trying to take that one day at a time. He still seems a little young for a strict routine.

    This month he's been trying really hard to get his hand in his mouth. Two cheers for self soothing!

    He also seems a lot more alert and interested in toys. We have what seems like millions, so we're trying to keep him entertained. Bath time has gotten a lot better, too.

    We've got him in cloth diapers, although they don't fit as well after going through another kid. I'm willing to deal with it though after seeing how much money we spent on diapers, sheesh!

    I'm looking forward to Max being able to sit up better and maybe hang out in the jumper or some of the other toys we have. He is doing more every day, and it's fun to watch.

    I pulled out the only KU onesie I have because he needs to cheer for the Jayhawks. So far it's working!

  • Max: 3 and 4 months

    These last two months have flown by. All the sudden Max is a plump, drool-y baby who can almost sit up and grasp toys in his chubby hands. Looking back at those 2-month photos, he looks so skinny!

    Here he is at 3 months.

    And then at 4 months.

    I just took him to the doctor and he was a little over 16 pounds. Pretty much right down the middle as far as height, weight, and head size. For comparison, Harper was 14 pounds, 10 ounces at her 4-month appointment.

    Just like Harper at that age, Max went bald in some spots, but had a swirl of hair in the middle.

    He also screams now, for no apparent reason. Can't wait to see how that goes over in public!

    Generally, though, he is sweet and so smiley and giggly. He's started responding to toy squeaks and peekaboo. So cute.

    Last month, Grandad and GB were here, and they got to see what a smiley, happy baby he is.

    We took him on all kinds of outings and he was as sweet as can be. I think it helped that he would fall asleep in the car and then be really well rested wherever we went.

    We stopped letting him nap in the carrier, and so he switched to taking 4 or 5 shorter naps throughout the day. Much like Harper, he only stays asleep for about half an hour at a time. I've basically decided not to fight it. Harper would only take about 2 of those naps a day, which was brutal. At least he gets enough rest in total.

    His funny thing lately is falling asleep in the jumparoo. He'll be bouncing in there and then I'll look over and he'll be asleep!

    We still have him sleeping in the rock 'n play at night, but he is going to outgrow it soon. At the end of this month, my mom will be moving back to Kansas (sniff...) so we will move into her room and then move Max into his own room. At that point we can put him in the crib without worrying about him waking up Harper.

    We sure will miss our Grammie!

    Harper still likes to entertain Max while he lays in the crib, and he likes to watch her, too.

    She is still pretty good with him, but I see some jealousy creeping in. Age 3.5 seems filled with whining and tantrums, so we are just trying to power through it.

    It is also filled with pink. So much pink. All the sudden every outfit has to be pink, head to toe. She's big into the princess thing, too, although her version might include cowboy boots and binoculars.

    Harper's diet pretty much consists of cereal, ketchup, and whatever else she feels like eating at any given time.

    And it has to be served in the bunny bowl, with the yellow cup and the purple spoon. OK?!

    I can't believe Max will be eating solids soon. I really feel like he is growing up too fast, but what can I do? I just love 'em both and try to appreciate the cuddles when I get them.

    Max has been making this face a lot lately.

    Talk about a flashback - here's Harper making the same face.

    I have thought for months that it seemed like his bottom teeth might be coming in early, but they never do.

    I guess babies are just orally fixated and drool-y in general.

    I just started working some short shifts at the store in Sausalito this week. Harper is in daycare full time and I'll have to find a nanny for Max soon. We're shifting into a new normal. It's a little scary, but also good. I just don't feel like myself unless I'm working, and I really did miss it.

  • Max, 5 and 6 months

    OK, get ready for cute overload because I have SO MANY good pics of my kids this summer.

    I can't believe Max is 6 months old, but it's true. Here he is at 5 months.

    And then at 6 months.

    He is still our Mr. Smiley Guy.

    If you tickle him or do a high-pitched sneeze, he has the cutest giggle.

    He's had a pretty big couple of weeks. First, we started him on solid foods.

    I decided to skip the rice cereal this time and just do purees.

    Then he got two teeth! So we've also given him some mum-mums and crusty bread to chew on.

    Obviously the Bumbo is getting a lot of use since he's still a little tippy.

    He loves playing with Tupperware containers and various other things that are not toys.

    I have even put him in a laundry basket with some toys, since it is sort of like a mini playpen.

    Other times I kind of prop him up in the Boppy so I can play with him.

    The teething has definitely affected his sleep, although I would still say he is a much more consistent sleeper than Harper was at his age.

    Occasionally he takes a long nap, but his are usually only half an hour. So I am struggling to get much of anything done during the days I'm home with him. But I feel like the alternative is having him sleep less at night, and I don't want that either.

    He has also become really grabby and interested in rolling or lurching for things, so I really have to watch him closely.

    He likes to grab his feet, and he can get his toes in his mouth.

    He still has really bad cradle cap, so sometimes I put lotion on his head and it makes his hair stick up.

    He was 18.5 pounds at his last appointment and pretty tall.

    I'm looking forward to what the next few months will bring. Before we know it he will be walking and talking!

    Harper has been a handful and a half, but she is also progressing so much.

    Her teachers tell us she has completely come out of her shell at daycare, and now she plays with other groups of kids, no problem.

    She tells me about her day now, and has gotten a lot better at asking for what she needs.

    What's hard is that she has both an immense amount of energy and a LOT of feelings.

    We took a trip to the petrified forest in Calistoga, and without a nap that day she whined/cried/yelled the whole ride home.

    So I'm a little nervous about traveling with two little kids for a whole week, but I think the key is not trying to do too much. And snacks. So many snacks.

    She calls this her swimming costume. 

    Harper started playing soccer at school and I think she would like swimming lessons too. Although I think she would be really great at tumbling.

    Toddler lunch of champions. 

    She has a great sense of style (hat tip to Grammie!) and she is an amazing artist. I love seeing her creativity shine through.

    There are still a lot of kids activities in the Bay Area that we need to explore, so hopefully we'll get to do some of those things soon. We're still finding our new rhythm without Grammie and with me working 2 days a week, but we're getting the hang of it.

    More pictures soon of Max's finished room and our solar panels!

    *I also wanted to mention that you can follow me on Instagram. I wish I had more time to blog, but since I don't I try to at least keep the photos coming.

  • Max 7-9 months and Harper 3.5

    I had to take this picture to document the fact that prior to this I had left him sitting on the floor on the other side of the room. Apparently he can pull himself to standing and push his little play table several feet.

    At 9 months, Max is doing a lot of the same things Harper was at that age.

    Yup, that was Harper!

    He can balance standing up as long as he's holding onto something.

    He really likes to be walked around the house. He doesn't quite crawl, but he seems close to crab crawling with one leg out the way Harper did.

    For a while I had him rigged up in the Jenny Jump Up so that he could stand at the table, but he already doesn't need it.

    We learned the hard way that you can't leave him on a couch or bed anymore. He will totally roll off (head first, of course).

    7 months.

    8 months.

    It seems strange to say, but the last 3 months have been much harder than the previous 3. I think it's mostly because of teeth. Max has 6 now, and every time he gets a new one, he is miserable and sleepless.

    That picture pretty much sums up how I've felt lately — tiiired.

    Then a few weeks ago, we all got sick, but Max got it the worst. He had a fever for like 4 days, and he couldn't sleep for being so stuffed up. And we just could not get his sleep on track after that.

    He was so tired he fell asleep playing with toys.

    Fortunately, we accomplished a couple of things after that. We got a second car (an electric Leaf!) and I found a daycare for Max. I'm not sure if it's related to his daycare provider or not, but he's been sleeping most of the night ever since.

    So we have our happy Max back, and it's great.

    The biggest thing that happened over the last 3 months, though, was our vacation to Portland and Seattle. Traveling with two little kids was tough, but they did great on their flights.

    The hardest part was lugging around all the stuff (stroller, 2 carseats, luggage, diaper bag, etc.). And then traveling between the two cities, which took WAY longer than we had anticipated.

    We did get some family photos, which was nice.

    This one, from a Portland breakfast spot, is my favorite.

    This one kind of sums up the chaos of our trip.

    We stayed at Air BnBs, which worked out great. Plus, I got two blissful days of wandering around Portland while the kids had free daycare from Mike's conference.

    Still dreaming about Blue Star Donuts.

    We took a break for a mall carousel.

    Max loves playing in the grass.

    One of the best things we got to do was meet up with an old friend from Kansas and ride on her family's boat. They took us around Lake Union in Seattle, which was just unbelievably beautiful.

    Harper was a little scared, but she did great.

    We tried to do the public market in Seattle, but it was too crazy crowded.

    Instead we headed to Discovery Park for a hike.

    This picture is so Harper — all dirt and shin bruises.

    On our last day we took the kids to Alki Beach and we got some great photos of them playing in the sand together.

    They still get along really well. These pictures of them with Harper's Soccer Shots headband crack me up.

    Grammie came to visit for a couple weeks, which was so nice.

    We are planning TWO trips to visit family for the holidays, so it will be fun to see everyone we've missed.

    I've been super busy and stressed from all the knitting orders that have come in, but it's kind of par for the course.

    My boss is opening another store in Breckenridge, so I am making a whole bunch of items for that.

    We did have a nice respite at a local beach we found. There are so few really quiet places around, so we'll have to remember this one.

    This time with two little kids can be really brutal some days. But I also feel this sense of fulfillment I never have before. It's not perfect, but I have so many of the things I always wanted. And especially now that we have the house pretty much finished and I'm back to work, it's easier to appreciate it all.

    I love this picture. Oh, to be 3 again.

    As Harper gets closer to 4, I think she's calming down a little. She's learning how to spell and how to communicate better, and she says the most adorable things like, "mommy, you're my best friend."

    Harper's taking yoga and I bought a jogging stroller so I can run. Hopefully if Max keeps sleeping well we can all come out of the haze and feel normal again. I have some new products, including these adorable crowns.

    I should have more to share soon!

  • Harper, 4, and Max, 1

    It's been so long I hardly remember how to do this! I guess my absence tells you what's it's like to have two little kids. I really liked the part of blogging where I kept a record of my kids growing, though.

    At this age they have kind of flipped roles a bit. Harper can communicate well enough to follow directions and she goes to bed reliably at 7:30, then sleeps until 7:30 (sometimes even later!). She's still grappling with toddler emotions and SO MUCH ENERGY, but generally she's a lot more mature. I can't believe I'm going to be signing her up for kindergarten next summer.

    Mellow Max on the other hand has become quite a handful. I had forgotten about the 18-months-ish age, where they can walk, climb and generally get into trouble, but they can't really communicate yet. So if they want something and can't make it happen, they just whine or cry. He does take naps, but he stays up later than Harper and during these really bright summer months, he wakes up ready to party at 6:30.

    Max has figured out how to open the fridge and take things out. Poor guy is just hungry all.the.time. I can't even imagine how much he will eat as a teenager.

    Harper is getting a lot pickier about what foods she'll eat. She still tries a lot of things, but she wants mac 'n cheese and cereal, and if I make something with peppers and onions, she wants me to pick them out. They're both all about the chocolate ice cream.

    It is cute the way they play together now. Harper likes to help get Max set up in his high chair and sometimes she will even get him something he needs without being asked.

    The problem is that they fight about toys all the time. They always want what the other one has, even if they have no real interest in it. Luckily they have different enough interests and we have enough toys that they can usually find something else to do.

    Harper is still really into art projects and dressing up. We now have 3 cubbies and an overflowing bin of dress-up toys in her room.

    Her biggest love right now is Moana. I actually think it's a great movie, although I've seen it enough times to be a little over it. And of course she is always down to wear a princess dress to school over her clothes.

    Max is super into trains lately. He says "choo choo" when a bart train goes by - it's adorable. He also loves to build little things with Legos.

    It's interesting to see him developing language in kind of a different way than Harper. She didn't say as many words, but she would say them perfectly. He'll try more, even if it comes out all garbled. Sometimes he just kind of talks in gibberish and you're like, OK buddy. I have no idea what you want, but right on.

    Mike and I got a rare vacation when we turned his work trip to Vancouver into a long weekend without kids. My mom flew in from Kansas to watch them. It was so nice and over way too soon.

    Our next trip will be with the kids to Minnesota in September. We wanted to go back to Lutsen for our anniversary (Sept. 18) and we thought we could have some alone time and then some with the whole family. I can't believe we haven't been back there since the wedding almost 7 years ago.

    This stage of life is just tough. I think it was actually easier when Max was a baby. The not-sleeping part is super hard, but then their needs are pretty much limited to eating, sleeping and diaper changes. Now you have to be on all the time, and it's intense. Especially for an introvert who needs alone time to recharge. I think when they're old enough to have a little more independence it will be easier. But hey, no one does this because it's easy.

    Last week we finally got enough free time to take the kids on a bike ride in our neighborhood. It was really fun, and it was a little taste of the kind of outdoorsy things we can as a family, especially as they get older.

    I have Max in daycare 4 days a week now, and I am starting to work a lot more. I now work at 2 stores (1 in Sausalito and 1 in San Francisco). I'm doing some PR work for one store and organizing classes at the other. And now I'm branching out and trying to teach more classes. I think that is really where it's at for me. It's the perfect intersection of crafts, media and retail, it pays well, and there are a lot of opportunities to teach around here.

    I'm also trying to get back in shape, post-babies, so hopefully I'll get a minute to share about that soon.