Archive for August, 2007

Today was decidedly a better day than yesterday. I took the kids to Whole Foods for some rice pasta, chocolate, and Echinacea tea. Even though it is a 30 minute drive, I like going there because I always see someone I know. Today, I saw a guy who recently told Hal and I that he is going to become a father. Hal is very excited about this because he’s a fellow punk rock comrade. I’m excited because he was just so thrilled to be expecting a baby and I love it when the fellas get excited about babies.

Hal will find out this week if he got hired for a position in the county library system he applied for last week. I have every bone in my body crossed hoping he does. It would be a nice change of pace for him. Change is good.

The one thing about Hal’s current job that I absolutely love, is that he has a set schedule. If he gets this new position, what-ever schedule he has, I hope that it is the same every week. Makes it easier to plan a life that way.

There are some things about how our marriage runs that are pretty standard/conventional. We are in a heterosexual and monogamous relationship, we have two children and one dog, we own a house together, we both own a car, Hal works and I stay home with the kids. All pretty standard American stuff. What is not-so-conventional in our marriage is the way that we function as a couple.

I don’t do all the cleaning, cooking, and caring for the kids by myself. The daily grind of caring for our children plus my physical limitations wear me out beyond recognition. By the time Hal gets home from work I could care less about food or what the house looks like. I keep the house in fair order throughout the day but what-ever it looks like at four o’clock is what it looks like until the next day.

Hal cooks dinner every night when he gets home from work unless I get a wild hair to do it myself – which hasn’t happened in months. He usually does all the laundry while I fold it and put it away. He almost always does the dishes at night – by time night arrives I’ve already cleaned the kitchen twice… that’s my limit per day.

I actually like cooking and am looking forward to doing it again – just not any time soon.

Hal also sleeps in Max’s room at night. Usually, Max will fall asleep in my bed (with Bella and I) and when Hal is ready to go to bed, he’ll transfer Max to his room. Hal sleeps on an air mattress on the floor in Max’s room. Not very comfortable but Max isn’t ready to sleep alone and I can’t have him in my bed all night. One baby is enough.

Hal gets Bella ready for bed every night while I brush Max’s teeth. Hal does everything else for Max: vitamins, nappy, lotion, PJ’s. I usually bathe Max but Hal will also do it.

Hal takes care of Max’s breakfast in the morning. He also changes Bella’s first nappy of the day. I stopped drinking coffee about a week ago, but when I did, it was nice that I’d wake up to brewed coffee every morning, courtesy of Hal.

On Hal’s days off from work, I don’t change any nappies.

Hal does all the grocery shopping.  This is only because I spend too much money when I do it.  Groceries are my weakness.

Hal tends to go out with friends more than I do (heh, which isn’t often for either of us), but that is only because Bella is still exclusively nursing.

I do the daily light house work: vacuuming, cleaning bathroom area, keeping floors picked up, kitchen stuff which includes prepping veggies while Hal does the work that takes a bit more elbow grease: cleaning the bathtub, mopping kitchen floor, taking out garbage, dinner dishes, mowing, and any lifting of items that need to go downstairs.

I wanted to write this out to have a record of our domestic life because I think we balance the house work and kids out quiet nicely. Neither one of us believe in a strict division of labor – he goes to work outside of the house and I take care of everything in the house. I think we both realize that isn’t a fair division. Maybe if he worked construction, roofing, or some other physically demanding job or a job that took him for more than 40 hours/week our situation would run differently. I think every household has to find their own “balance” with this stuff and I’m just happy that we have ours. It’s temporary and fluid but for now, its working.

The other way that we function as a couple that doesn’t seem to be the norm as far as I can tell… we talk about everything… neither one of us believes that it is healthy to have secrets from each other. I know secrets are fun for some couples, I’m not knocking it, but it just doesn’t work for us. The problem we have right now is that we just don’t get to spend enough time alone. We are dieing to have a regular date night without the kids every week and a couple hours at night together after the kids go to bed. Ahhhh, one day.

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I am in a funk. I try so hard to see the positive in my day, and half the time I do. There are moments when I’m so “in the moment” and loving my life that I feel like: this is what its all about! Sadly, those moments are far and few between. The other half of my time is spent fantasizing about how great it will be when my kids are older – like seven and nine.

Parenting a two (almost three) year old and a baby is the hardest responsibility I have ever taken on. Truth be told, I often feel inept no matter what intellectual knowledge I have in my head because I read “the right books.” But more than that, I feel so alone. Even though I have a great mental support group via phone with friends and through therapy, I don’t have “a village” to help me raise my children while Hal is at work. Well, I do if you count pre-school 6 hours/week and the Power Rangers for god knows how many hours/day. I’m trying to “make do” with and appreciate the limited respite and help that I do get, but I’m finding this very difficult. The help I get just isn’t enough or in the right places.

I read these other blogs where the moms write as if everything is so easy for them and quite frankly it depresses me. It down right angers me. I’m sure parts of their day are easy and fulfilling – that occurs for me, too. And it makes me happy to read about mothering in such a positive light, BUT… I need to know that what I’m going through isn’t because I suck as a mother, that other women with young children think its hard, too, and that I’m not alone in these struggles…

Whoa… I just took a phone call from an old friend who has two kids – ages 5 & 7 (or something close to that). I shared with her everything I’ve been feeling and she made me feel much better. I was so encouraged by her words that tears started gushing from the ol’ eyeballs. She described to me exactly what I am going through by talking about what she went through – and what she has seen many women go through. She made me feel normal again. She also reminded me that it is so important to get away from both the kids when-ever possible – “You’ll be a better mother for it.” She said this to me because I was feeling some guilt about sending Max to preschool. Him going to preschool has more to do with me needing to be away from him than for his benefit. Luckily, what’s good for mama is also good for Bossman.

My village may be via phone, but its better than none at all. I love my sister-friends so much.

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Update… Part II

So yeah, life with Max has been challenging lately. He started pre-school last week at a local Methodist Church (not the Montessori school which is what I would prefer but can’t afford right now). He LOVES school. (See mommy jumping up and down with excitement…).

Those two scheduled three hour morning breaks have been nice but have proven to not be enough time alone. Call me greedy but I want more! For the time being, I’ll take what I can get. I have been completely unproductive during those three hours, instead opting to watch TV. Eventually, I’ll use the time for something else but I’m not rushing myself.

Max got a minor cold the first day of school and now Bella has it. I was up practically all night on Friday and Saturday with Bella. I have rather enjoyed being able to care for her. Having a runny nose is hard on Bella because she is exclusively nursing. Every time she’d latch on she’d start crying because she couldn’t breath. When this happened, I managed to work my momma magic and unclogged her nostrils. Eventually, she would fall asleep while nursing – but I was up watching her like a hawk.

I love being the tender parent who can sooth her babies just by gazing into their eyes or giving them mommies milk (and the music plays… I’ve got the power!).

Saturday, MIL came by to pick Max up for the day and I basked in my baby girl’s presence for what felt like the first time ever. It is really hard giving her the kind of attention Max got when he was her age because every time I try, there’s Max blocking my efforts. Its not his fault, its just the way two year olds are – they need non stop attention and they demand it. I include him in on snuggles with Bella but that threesome bonding only lasts for moments before he wants me to put her down and hold only him.

I was happy that MIL took Max on Saturday because it gave me a chance to really care for Bella. She got more sleep than she would have had Bossman been home. More importantly, she got many more mommy moments, which she needs more than ever as she fights her runny nose. I felt like a good mom on Saturday.

Bonding with Bella has been a slow experience but I suspect that is normal with the second baby. I’ll tell ya, though, in those moments that I do get to gaze into her eyes, snuggle with her (every night before we go to sleep), tickle her tummy (she’s very ticklish), nurse her, and kiss her pudgy face – I melt and fall deeply in love. The love is so intense it sometimes brings me to tears.

Bella’s skin has been a roller coaster ride. She still has pretty bad eczema. It clears on some days (never completely) and comes back on the next. I have been desperately toying with my diet, even going on the “Caveman Diet,” which I could endure for only four days. I’ve resolved to just avoid the common allergens (wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, & tree nuts) and hope with all my heart that she eventually grows out of it like Max has.

I have been doing well with setting boundaries with my MIL. Go me. It is a full time job but I’m getting better at it, it’s becoming more natural, and our relationship better for the change in my mindset.

I have decided to baby sit a couple of neighborhood kids who are 5 and 6 years old. One, Scottie, will come over after school Mon-Friday, from 3ish-5ish. This is really a good thing because it is around 3 that I hit a wall and get so freaking tired. It will be a godsend to have another child to occupy my son! The other kid is a little girl and she will only come over on Thurs & Fri (but not necessarily every week) from 3ish – 8ish. I won’t be making a lot of money doing this but right now, even $100-$200 bucks extra a month will be a HUGE financial help for my family. Before kids, that would seem like pocket change but now, whew, any extra money makes a difference.

I have experienced a huge shift in parenting. Recently, something inside clicked and I stopped getting so mad at Max. Maybe it is those scheduled breaks I now have to look forward too, maybe it is the reading I’ve been doing – I suspect a little of both. I still get frustrated and annoyed but feel less like taking it out on him (by snapping, putting him in time out, ect.). It is really hard to see myself as a good mother but deep inside, I know that I am. I bet many of good moms feel this way.

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Part I

Wow, its been forever since I’ve posted. A lot has happened. I started a post a few days ago only to be interrupted by Max, and my new way of dealing with his interruptions is to put off the writing and tend to his needs. This “new way” is a chore that is ongoing, every second of the day so I rarely get to write anymore. I need to be more disciplined or get a laptop so writing happens in the rare moments I do have time. Anyway…

The entire week before Max started preschool, we hit a road block in our relationship. This is what I wrote about that week but never entered into this blog [warning: long-winded] :

Next week can not get here quickly enough.

I know Max’s new found [even stronger than before] will has a little to do with Bella and a little to do with twoness. This past week has been one of the toughest weeks with him, ever. He denies me the smallest moments of respite, needs me for things he usually does on his own, argues with me over simple directions, wants the exact opposite of what I am giving him then changes his mind once I’ve given in to his requests – and the list of twoness behavior goes on. And on. And on. The thing is, Max has been two for months now, and only recently has something clicked in his head that he has free will that must be exercised in every situation.

I’ve come close to smacking him but have sat on my hands to that impulse. Feeling like hitting is a big feeling that never – and I do mean never – helps when followed through. I don’t think it defines a person as a parent, like: if you hit your child you are horrible and shouldn’t have kids. And I don’t think hitting necessarily causes children to grow up to be violent sociopath adults. However, I do strongly believe that hitting children isn’t helpful in guiding them to figure things/problems/life out on their own – at any age.

This is how irritated I am getting at Max’s behavior, pissed enough to want to throw out all forms of logic and slap the shit out of him. Yes, I sometimes feel like hitting my child into submission. Don’t worry, its just a feeling – not something I would ever react on.

Okay, confession… I have acted on that impulse to hit Max (slap, spank, what-ever you want to call it).  I always feel like it was the wrong thing to do and the weight of my action stays with me to this day.  I’m still learning, still working on being the mother I want to be, and loving the mother I am.  Anyway… 

My answer to these big feelings is to read. Sometimes, reading the right book(s) really helps me to find my way in parenting. My sister friends can give me the best advice in the world (and they do) – but I have a difficult time processing snippets of good advice. I need more depth in order to know how to implement advice. I need to understand where I stand in that sphere of good advice. And sometimes, I need lots of examples of how to use that advice. It really helps to have good advice compiled on the pages of dead trees.

I’ve once again hit the books to learn more about what I can do to make life with kids more enjoyable. Finally, I got my hands on the book, “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (How to Help Your Child),” which within the first ten pages has already given me some tools for my currently empty Parenting Tool Belt. The authors also wrote a book titled, Siblings Without Rivalry,” that I also must buy.

As my children grow and change, my ideas need to grow, bend, and flex with them. That means, I need to be open to changing my behavior. I often feel one step behind in Max’s growth. As soon as I think mothering is getting easy, he changes, his ideas grow, his needs become greater or different and I once again find myself tempted to fall backwards instead of forwards. It is the love that I have for him that keeps me humble and open to learning more.

* To be continued…

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Motherhood is the closest thing to being bi-polar without actually being bi-polar. One day/week/month I’m feeling great and all into Zen-like parenting [and living], the next day/week/month I just want to crawl under a blanket and sleep for a year.

It’s days like today that communal living sounds like the perfect living arrangement. It is the only environment that could and would lend the support I need throughout the day. You mean there would be someone else around to pay attention to my children???!!! Sign me up.

I’ve had a decent day despite Fatigue and the depression it engenders. Today was nothing extraordinary – nothing horrible – and a little boring. A few rough patches but nothing I even remember as I sit to write this out. Oh, I have had pretty severe joint and muscle pain all day. I experience pain on a daily basis, but some days are a little tougher than others. This kind of pain slows me down and robs my interest in playing/reading/doing. I’m surprised I was able to prepare food for lunch and dinner. All I can do is move as little as possible, relax as much as possible, and make up for it by having conversations with Max. Bella is easy… I sit and nurse her on the couch, hold her for a while, and then she’s ready to be on the floor with her toys and Max.

I am very eager for next Monday to arrive. There will be nothing bitter/sweet about Max starting pre-school … from where I stand, its all sweetness. I think it will be good for him, and really, good for our whole family.

We have been talking about “school starting” for a few weeks now and he always says, “You’re gonna go with me? Bella, too?” And I tell him, we will go with you until you are comfortable with the folks there, and then you will “get” to go by yourself. I explain everything to him… it will be like “playtime” twice a week for three hours in the morning, you will make new friends, and get to do arts and crafts, so on and so forth. He says to that, “Oh, that sounds good!”

I’m very excited to see how all of this plays out with him and have high hopes that he will love it… okay, maybe a little hesitant in getting my hopes up too high.

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What the HELL are you suppose to do when BOTH of your children need you at the same time???

Max was having a major meltdown this afternoon at the same time Bella was dieing of hunger, or so one would think if they could hear her. I couldn’t let Bella sit in her swing, on the floor, or in her crib (I tried all three) when she was crying hysterically. And I couldn’t get away from Max who was clinging to my legs [crying hysterically] as I held Bella. He was really tired because he won’t nap until he’s tired enough to fall asleep standing up.

Max kept screaming, “Put Bella down! Don’t feed Bella! I don’t want Bella to be hungry! Lay with ME!”

His world as he knew it was crumbling. He had just gotten out of a time-out for hitting me several times, I took away two of his toys (yes, permanently) for throwing them and hitting his bedroom door with them, and he had to get out of the tub before he was good and ready because he was purposely throwing water onto the floor – which, is already so water damaged we have to replace it and fear falling through the ceiling every time we have to use the toilet. I was pretty calm and collected during every one of these issues. Whew.

As I stood there trying to devise a plan to get out of this new mess, I felt a rush of silent laughter flow through me. In that moment my world slowed down and I thought to myself, Crazy! This is just too strange to take it seriously! I bet every woman in the world with more than one child goes through this.

I had an inner giggle. My kids were too out of control for me to loose control. I still tried to reason with Max, who was inconsolable unless I agreed to do exactly what he wanted (dump Bella) and I held Bella – who was just content being held and stared at Max in bewilderment. When I finally was able to reason with Max (yes! go perseverance!), all three of us sat on the couch and Bella nursed ferociously while Max practiced his “Bella cry” and cried/screamed himself to sleep next to me.

I snuck away to write this post because it was just too funny for me to let this one get lost in my memories. Then, just for fun, I snuck back upstairs to snap a shot of my two babies taking their 6:30 pm, nap:

We are on day four of Max being “high-need.” I have resolved to working my schedule around him and his needs a little more. This means cleaning less, staying home more often, and making certain he is eating very healthy (which is why I’m avoiding the in-law’s right now).

I have noticed a certain instability in his mood when he eats too much sugar and processed foods. He, as the rule, eats pretty healthy. However, there was one day this past week, the first day he starting becoming seriously demanding, that I was too exhausted to care and fed him macaroni and cheese, a cheese sandwich, chips, and chocolate. That night was HELL. I had to help get him to sleep when normally, Hal can do it. It was 11pm when he finally fell asleep.

I’ve been on the floor playing with him a lot, going outside with him, reading less of my favorite blogs all at one time, reading more to him, trying out some art stuff with him, and not buying chocolate for us him.

For a while, he was able to just hang out and find his own way during the day. Right now, he needs more guidance.

Preschool starts August 20th. I’m hoping it is just what he needs right now.

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Max has been going through some energy shifts. He has been more needy these past three days and I have had to come around and adjust to his behavior.

We were originally going to head out to my MIL’s today when I decided he needed a little one on one time with his mama. We spent the morning fighting, painting, laughing, snuggling, and I even managed to get an hour of “quite time” in from 1-2 pm. I’m not sure what developmental shift is going on, but he’s in the middle of something big.

I have noticed that he has been remembering everything we talk about. For example, we had a conversation about how cow’s milk aggravates his eczema and that I think he should drink less of it while at his grandma’s house. Two days later when we were at his grandma’s house, Nana offered him a glass of milk with his cookies and he explained to her how it causes him to “get worse eczema.” He then asked for soy milk. I still have to translate for him so was just beaming [inside] with pride when he asked for soymilk. The fact that he remembered our conversation… my gawd… he really is a person.

I feel like kids just keep getting better and better with age. At infancy, they are like a bucket for love. They take love any way it is given. It’s a one way relationship. However, as they get older, the relationship becomes two way. That is when it gets really exciting and feels the most rewarding. To me anyway.

As a mother, a wife, a friend, a woman, and someday an employee…

I am working on how I give information to others. Whether the information is proceeded by that sharp pang of anger or if it is moved by love – I want to give my thoughts to others in the most compassionate and non-judgmental way imaginable. The challenge – and thus the real “me work” – is in learning to respectfully deliver my perception when it is prompted by annoyance or anger. I don’t want the anger to be the only message to come across. I want the meaning behind my anger to be what is understood. I feel like I have already wasted so much of my life expressing anger – making certain that other’s “got” that I was pissed off at this, or that, or them. The anger, I now realize, is not what is most important. It is the deeper meaning behind the anger. It is the hurt that I need to know how to express. It is the love behind the hurt.

**Okay. Those last two sentences sound like some hippy dippy bullshit. Here is an example of the kind of anger work I am focusing on:

My BIL tends to invite us to his kid’s birthday/important gatherings at the last minute – meaning the day of and a few hours before. This happened last Sunday with his daughter’s baptism. We were told of a party that was to start at 2pm by my MIL, at noon. We worked the party into our day only to be told (at the last minute and only because I asked) that the party was starting later and that there wouldn’t be any vegetarian fare for Max. We had to feed Max before we left, which wasn’t a problem, but rendered us late to the party. When we finally made it to BIL’s house we were swiftly informed that the party was “winding down” (whereas on the phone we could show up “anytime”). We stayed for about 20 minutes. Max had a meltdown on the way out and then again in the car.

After leaving the party, I called BIL while we were at the gas station as we were getting Max water so he’d calm down. I said something to the affect of, “I really feel bad that we showed up late. I would like to be on time to your parties but need more notice in order to make this happen.” This is all very well said but then came the knife that was fueled by my anger… “You know, this business of MIL calling me at noon to tell me we are invited to a party at 2 just doesn’t work for us.”

I know, you are probably thinking that what I said was actually pretty restrained. And I agree, it was. I also told him that I was going to talk to his girlfriend and get the birthdays of all her kids so we don’t miss any more gatherings because of last minute notices.

IF I had been speaking to someone who would validate my anger (a friend or my husband) what I said would be within sane reason. However, what I did was express my anger to someone who 1.) doesn’t care and 2.) doesn’t care. More importantly, though, I expressed agitation to someone who is always dismissive of feelings and thinks I’m a controlling bitch, anyway. Therefore… “expressing myself” didn’t make me feel better because I felt ignored. Furthermore, it did nothing for the family dynamic that I’d like to keep civil and genuine.

That example illustrates the depth of anger work I’m doing right now. I don’t want to ignore anger, pretend I don’t feel it, or oppress it. However, I also don’t want it to control me even in the slightest of instances. I’d like to get to a place where I can think to myself, “oh that was rude… what can I do/say to help the situation…” OR, “How can I get my point across without making the person I’m speaking to throw up a wall.”

I’m also not saying that I will ever let people walk all over me because nothing “gets to me.” I’d like to be able to let people know what I think without behaving overly emotional or passionate about an issue.

I think the entire spectrum of emotions (including being passionate about issues) is important… but I’m getting to a place in my life where I no longer want to be ruled by my spectrum of emotions. I want to *feel* but respond because I have *thought* about what I am feeling and why I am feeling it.**

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got, today.

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By mid-morning the day was starting to shape into the same kind of day I had yesterday. Instead of putting up with it… I took the kids and fled to my MIL’s house for a little respite. Grandma (Hal’s grandma, not my MIL) is always a huge help when I bring the kids over. She is very attentive to Max and that allows me some breathing room. Plus, they have the best water pressure of any shower that I have ever showered in, in my life. It’s a heavenly massage that I stand in for as long as my skin will stand it.

Bella’s skin has been going in and out of rashes with her eczema. I have had to tighten the reigns, so-to-speak, and cut out hummus and corn. I was a little iffy about these two items before but, blah, they’re outta here.

Anyhoo, gotta run… Max is screaming at the top of the stairs for me.

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It has finally hit Camus that Oscar is gone. He is in a state of depression. Poor Camus.

Two nights ago, I had my first dream [ever] with Oscar in it. Usually, Camus is the one in my dreams. That morning when I got up, Camus was sleeping in the living room instead of in the bedroom with Hal and Max, where he normally sleeps. I think that is when the grief of Oscar’s death really hit him, two nights ago. I wonder if Camus can smell Oscar’s ashes that are currently sitting on one of our bookshelves by this computer? Hm. We need to bury Oscar.

Fixin’ stuff…

There is nothing I can’t stand more than when a carpenter uses his Christian faith as the reason I should trust him. Every handyman person we have had has done this and every one of them did poor quality work, unfinished work, or just plain took our money and did no work. Telling me you are Christian automatically disqualifies you from working in my home.

We are still looking for someone to fix our bathroom. I am not hiring anyone who doesn’t meet all of my very reasonable requirements:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Knowledgeable
  • Insured
  • Able to complete the work within a weeks time
  • Doesn’t tell me his faith and how that outlines his work ethics


sucketh. Yeah, one of those days, today was. You know, one of those days when reading on-line mama blogs makes me want to write to the author and tell them just how superficial I think their blog is. Or, grrrr, how I feel like some of the more popular blogs do a disservice to the day to day realities of parenting as a woman… a woman who sometimes feels isolated, unnoticed, bored, useless… and needs to know that other moms go through the same shit… and are also still relatively happy. Other moms like meeeeee, fooooor example.

Yeah, one of those days.

It’s a good thing I already know other moms have shitty days, too. But I can’t lie, misery loves company… it would be nice to read about those kinds of days on other blogs, too.

I realized after reading this… that I have complained without any detail as to how my day was and what made it sucketh… and you know… I just don’t have the energy to get into details. This, I’m sure, is why many of moms who blog don’t always lay out their shitty days just for memory’s sake. I will say, however, that Max is so lucky that I love him and that he is cute as a button.

Yeah, one of those days.

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I am on chapter 2 of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”! Chapter two, people! I can’t even remember the last non-parenting book I read – it was definitely pre-Max.

Bella my dear,

You are growing so fast but mommy is soaking in every minute. And not in that obsessive-overly-concerned-about all the details-way I did Max, but in a relaxed and confident manner.

Every part of your personality is screaming, “I am not Max!” and this especially is true in terms of nursing. Your independence amazes me! I had no idea that a baby would refuse the breast when not actually hungry! Nursing is strictly an “as needed” thing for you – very little comfort nursing goes on as far as I can tell. You are too busy rolling around, touching everything within reach, and going after Max’s dinosaurs to waste time curled up in mommy’s arms. Oh, and when Max is around you can’t take your eyes off him!

This is all so exciting for me to be a part of – your life as a baby. So precious. So short! And let me tell you, the smile that is on your face when you first look at me in the morning, when you watch Max doing his silly robot dance, and when you laugh that full-body laugh that is just like mine, mmmm yummies! I can’t help but to shriek with excitement right along with you. That kind of happiness is contagious.

You are only months away from becoming a toddler and as much as I love you now, oh how I love the toddler years. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say and seeing what you have to show. I’m such a lucky mama, Bella. Happy 6 months.



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