Just this little guy being his usual goofy self
Owen's summer has been full of major shifts. My sister-in-law came to visit on the last day of the school year marking the official beginning of our time home together as a family. A time when I get to pretend I stay home with my littles 24/7. And this summer included a long list of transitions. First, on the docket was potty training. As a second born, the idea of pottery training Owen was far less intimidating than the first rodeo with Henry. The main hurdle with training Henry wasn't the training part at all. It was the mental space I had to get over when you do anything new with a little one. Getting into a routine that works, that feels relatively easy, and that lets you get out and about isn't super simple to achieve and life always throws some curveball at you to undo your baby steps of progress, so the idea of intentionally disrupting the "calm" was the hardest part for me. Once I got out of my own way, and we started the three day long process, it became apparent that this wasn't as hard as it originally seemed. So doing it a second time with Owen was easier to get started. And the little guy was definitely ready. Having a model in his big brother, he simply followed Henry's pace and he is always so eager to be like his brother that he waited in line behind H in the bathroom and we are officially out of diapers in this house. And just like that one of the biggest defining attributes of babyhood is extinct for us.
But if we are "advanced" in one area then we are "babyish" in another. We landed on a red-eye from California at the beginning of August and took away Owen's baby crib rail determined to transition our big kid into a toddler bed. The first night went well. Exhausted from his travels, Owen only attempted an escape once before resting his head for the night. David and I patted each other on the back for shedding one more baby-layer in our dedicated summer to big kid transitions. Then.....reality hit. For the next week, Owen ramped up his efforts to intimidate us. David left for Florida with Henry and I was alone doing a 2+ hour bedtime drama. Owen would scream, kick, tantrum, and leave his bed at least 1,000,000 a night. When he finally gave up the ghost, he slept so poorly waking up multiple times at night crying out for me and was "up for the day" at 5AM. When you go from solid, good sleeping to crappy sleeping you start to wonder maybe, just maybe, you made a mistake. Everyone you talk to about these big kid transitions tells you to stay the course, be firm, and hold on to the change. And I totally subscribe to this ideology. But every night Owen's refusal lasted longer and his commitment to waking up and having disturbed sleep grew. So while Owen might be pottery trained, he is back in a crib. Immediately after putting his crib rail back, he delightfully said, "my cribby." At bedtime, he snuggled in with his stuffies and went immediately to sleep and stayed in his bed until 6:30AM and he even napped again for 2 hours. He clearly feels secure and comfortable in his crib and has no desire to escape his cozy baby bed....yet. So do I feel like we made the right decision? In reality yes. We will just try again at some other time when he and we feel ready again.
But to end on a high note of transitional success, we tossed out all of our baby sippy cups. This was definitely a reactive step on my part. None of the boys were really even using them but after feeling like we "failed" on our second major transition of eradicating cribs, I cleaned out the entire kitchen cabinet of baby plastic cups, spoons, utensils, etc. Immediately, it gave us more kitchen space to think about what the boys could use now as big kids, and felt like another chapter ended: no more soaking plastic cups, sippies, and plates. Every night since Henry was born there was some plastic kitchen equipment that needed special tending and now that was not a part of our routine and it felt both liberating and sad. We almost don't have babies anymore. And that leaves us with a lot of feels. I both want them to continue to be funny, spunky, creative, and playful "big kids" but I also want them to stay just like this and cuddle in their footie pajamas forever. Why can't we ever just have our cake and eat it too?
Happiest day to my little guy for making the FOURTH trip around the sun!!! Looking back over the year in photos, it blows my mind how blessed we are to have you in our lives. You came into this world, slowly, methodically, and chubby and you have turned into the most curious little tinkering boy. Every morning you turn the knob to our bedroom door and, carrying your little Maggie dog, you ask, "Can I come and cuddle you?" And my heart nearly explodes every. single. time. Your smile and your laugh are contagious and you love to tell jokes to make others burst out laughing alongside you. You are mischievous in all the right ways and the best friend and brother to your Owen. School this year was an utter blast. Everyday at pick-up you would exclaim, "I had such a GOOD day!" and show off the stamps you received from Mrs. C for listening or being a helper or just for being a kickass little kid. There were travels this year to California and Maryland to see the nation's capitol and lots of visits with family and friends and then there was your epic first trip to Disney World! Your favorite toys are transformers and legos because you love to take apart something and build it back up or configure it differently and you are always excited to try a new food or meet a new friend. I often think about how I want to live my life more like the way you lives your: curious, playful, non-judgmental, in the moment, and with magic in your eyes! Happy Birthday, Henry you our everything to us love ~ Mom and Dad
Tracing my finger lightly around Henry's chin, cheeks, and forehead and down his nose and across his lips, he giggles and I remember doing this with my Nanny. It is a silly little game and, at the time, I thought it was the most luxurious thing to get your face tickled endlessly. And it is. I used to think, how did my Nanny have the stamina to tickle my face for what seemed like hours while I laid in her lap and laughed and relaxed. Then sitting there with Henry and Owen, it dawned on me. Here I was with her endless stamina to tickle their little faces because I love them so darn much and they were clearly enjoying the little "spa" treatment and because I was SO DARN tired from the day, days, and weeks of the past month that I would have tickled those peanut faces for the whole day if it meant I too could rest a little.
Exactly 30 days ago, we packed up the family and went to LA to join in my father's retirement flight from Unite Airlines. After working for 35 years in aviation, it was time to hang up his wings. The FAA regulates that at 65 years old, captains and co-pilots must step down from the flight deck and this legislation pained my father. A truly passionate and gifted captain, he was not exactly ready spiritually to comply. We spent a few days in SoCal with family celebrating this momentous event. As a chief pilot said to my father, "The sign of a great career in this industry is an uneventful one, thank you for for having a great career." While there together as a family, we tackled jet lag, a desire to really go all out and all in for this special lifetime event, and a spectrum of emotions as we watched our dad come in to LAX for the last time at the helm and prepare for his return to his base in EWR. The morning of, our dad saw a number of friends in the terminal who came to shake his hand and clap him on the back. He boarded the plane and took control of the ship for 5 hours. The landing greased into New York and he received a round of applause not only from the passengers who each shook his hand but also when he came up out of the jetway. More family came to celebrate and it was a really good time. It was such a beautiful and incredibly proud moment for him and for us. One day, and not in the proverbial way, my dad and I will have to sit down and write his stories of flight down. I imagine something titled "Confessions from the Flight Deck," in which we curate his hilarious tales from 35,000 feet because my dad was not only the epitome of professionalism in flight but also a character and a truly a humorous raconteur!
Once we got back to Boston, it was time to close out the school year. The last week and a half of school is obviously incredibly exciting because summer vacation is so close BUT standing in between a teacher and a much needed break is a mountain of grading, a pile of finals, a heap of comments to write, and way too many meetings to sit through. The workload always feels insurmountable and the pressure of the final due dates makes me grow "Bertha." Who is Bertha? Well she is more of a what. Bertha is my shoulder knot. David has often commented after an encounter with Bertha that I have a lump of cement in my shoulder blade. Every end of the school year, I sit at my desk with clamped shoulders while grading furiously. This position and those stress levels form Bertha who causes me literal sleepless nights and takes away my ability to turn my head from side to side. As the graduates of the class of 2018 threw their caps off, some tears fell down my cheeks, and I pushed "submit" on all the grades and finals, only then can Bertha slowly dissipate. Goodbye Bertha, goodbye this school year, and hello to the next 11 weeks!
And then summer started!
10 days into summer and this feels like such a good one. Obviously summer vacation is always a good thing and time off with family is truly a gift that this profession gives in exchange for the high stakes and demands of the academic year. Jessie, Avery, and Smith arrived minutes after my final faculty meeting and stayed with us for 5 days. My underlining goal of their visit: Convince them that one day they should move to Boston because the city rocks, the people rock, and because we love them so much and just wish we had more family closer. Of course, leaving beautiful SoCal (or Florida for David's side of the family) makes moving north a bit of a hard sell. Neither of our families' current locations have snow or what I like to call wintry wonderlands, but Boston does have us and you can't find that anywhere else, right? In wanting to show them the best of Boston we bit off a lot: Fenway Park, duck boats, Boston visits, Strawberry picking, late nights, 6 bottles of wine, lots of eating, even more snacking, and even more laughing making it hard to say good-bye to them. It almost felt like we just live together now.
After teary goodbyes, the boys and I headed into our first 4 days of "Mom is at home season!" This year a bucket list of fun and breezy summer activities will guide our time. And we already ticked off two items: a trip to the Roger Williams zoo and a morning at the lake. The beauty of this year's summer bucket list is that it is short. Potentially only 10 line items but most of them will definitely be repeated especially if they involve the oceanside. So stay posted because now that I have returned to this page, I am planning on documenting more effectively this summer's shenanigans and my next pottery class starts in two weeks so there will be more updates from the "artist's" studio as well as some really cool new pieces I am trimming and glazing right now.
But back to face tracing. Sometimes when you do a lot in a short amount of time or when you are transitioning from the fast-paced, routine-based school year into summer you need a little buffer time to slow down, kick your feet up, and trace your babies' faces. Maybe if I do this I can commit to memory their lines and curves more deeply and slow down this season.