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Sunday, March 28, 2021

August Turns 5

It’s your 5th birthday today, my sweet August James. How it’s possible, I’ll never know. I’m so lucky to have spent this entire year with you, soaking up all of the August-isms and funny things you say. I watched you month by month, learning, growing, and changing little by little without me ever really noticing what was different. But now, looking back, so much has changed. What an absolute light you were. Such a joy during a year that was so hard for everybody.


 You start so many of your days sleeping later than anyone in this house, and man, do I love you because of it. I peeled your covers back the other day to wake you up, and you told me that you didn’t even get to sleep yet. But then you’re off, talk-talk-talking your way through your entire day (your life, really), and it doesn’t stop until you’re ready for bed again that night. A little tornado. You’re a lover of muffins, cheese, meatballs, and anything chocolate, and I can convince you to try way more foods than your siblings combined. You’re finishing your Pre-K home school year, and while I thought this year would be an academic loss, you’ve actually thrived. You learned a hundred sight words, are learning to read, can write all your letters beautifully, and can identify all of your 0-100 numbers. You write the best notes and little stories and are so proud of your work and yourself. You’ve been separated from your two little best friends from school for an entire year but still talk about them all the time. I’m so happy to have you reunited with them in just a few short days, back to in person school after all this time. You’re so ready to go, to learn and to play and to leave the four walls of this house, and also to spend some time apart from your brother. The two of you have grown so incredibly close this year, and I have no idea how you would’ve survived without each other, but being able to do your own thing will a breath of fresh air for you both. What a year it has been.



 

Your love of Batman has slowly waned (but still there), taking a backseat to Mario and Luigi and all things Nintendo. You spent most of your year dressed as Luigi, and this is hardly an exaggeration. I had to buy up every green t-shirt in the tri-state area, and your underwear drawer is full of white cotton Luigi gloves. When your gloves were all in the wash, you wore oven mits, and some of the first pictures I have of you learning to swim are those where you have oven mits on your hands in the pool. Your Mario LEGO set is one of your very favorite things from this year, something you can free-build imaginatively and to have Mario complete whatever course you come up with. You play all around our entire house, so your toys are scattered EVERYWHERE, and you can never seem to find what you’re looking for. You spend your days looking for things that you lost somewhere along the way, and we have to laugh at how type B you are. Your clothes are often mis-matched, you’re always running into things or getting bumped and bruised (you call black and blue marks “bump and blue marks”), and you speed through your work or coloring, onto the next thing as not to miss out on a second of whatever’s next. You’re going to KINDERGARTEN this fall, which is so hard for me to believe, but I also know you’re ready. You’ve been working through Oskar’s kindergarten curriculum a year early and have been playing “up” to anything that your big brother has wanted to do for your entire little life. I know you will be amazing.


 
 


You started soccer this week and were finally brave enough to try something new. I’m so proud of you for it. Your personality has always been enormous, but your bravery to show it off in front of strangers has been just the opposite. You’re really growing up now, easing your way into activities for big kids all by yourself, sharing our August with the world. 

 



You’re still my favorite little sidekick, always willing to tag along with mama to the store, to run errands, or for a walk. It’s probably not neutral of me to say it, but you’re my pacifist and rarely the one to instigate anything or to bother anyone first. You’re still independent, imaginative, and playful, and your creativity knows no bounds. You’re happy when everyone else is happy, too, and pick up on everyone’s feelings if they’re not. You love your baby sister and love to celebrate her milestones as one of her biggest fans. She demands your toys, your food, and your drinks…really anything that you have…and you’re always offering whatever it is right up to make her happy. Such a little sweetheart you are.

I always tell you before bedtime how beautiful, amazing, and loved you are, and I can tell how much it fills you up every single time. I’ve tried so hard to make sure I pay extra attention to all of those middle child stereotypes, pulling you aside for as much 1:1 attention as I can. I totally understand how this is a thing, now, though, with your brother demanding activities way above your ability and interest level, being that he’s a few years older, and your baby sister needing me all the time, for, well…everything. You’re the perfect middle child, easy going and independent, made happy by a hug, a cuddle, and a book together. You were made for the part. I can't imagine our family without you.


 

I am so thankful for every second I had with you this year, the good ones and the hard ones, and I know that I’ll look back on this time, years from now, so grateful for our slow days together. Your smile, your laugh, and your goofy, weird, self is so contagious. How lucky I am to have a front row seat to watching you grow up. My beautiful, big, 5 year old kid who will always be my baby boy.

I love you more than you will ever know, August. Happy one whole hand.

 

Love,

Mama

 

 

 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

A Letter to Maren on her 1st Birthday

March 11, 2021. One whole love filled, challenge filled, happy, sad, life changing year. Your dad and I went into the hospital with nothing but bubbling, over-the-top anticipation when I went into labor, and left with the littlest, most vulnerable newborn to protect from a raging virus as store aisles were wiped clean, events were cancelled, and places closed like dominoes. Like a switch was flipped. Postpartum anxiety is already a tricky thing to handle, but with an added global pandemic and a doctor dad with no protective equipment in the beginning, it hardly felt like I could contain my worry in those initial months before we knew anything at all. Everything was eerie, like we were living in a movie. In the first page of your baby book I wrote, “300 people have died.” Here we are at 520,000+. It’s hard to summarize how heavy that worry has been to carry sometimes, with an added front row seat to some of the scariest cases seen every day by your dad.



 I spent 6 months of it on maternity leave, something I had planned (and was so thankful for) before ever hearing about what COVID was. The stars aligned for us in that way, and I soaked up every single minute of you while also juggling home school with two big brothers who were suddenly pulled out of life as they knew it. No more activities, no more school. Just the four of us at home, growing and learning together. And like everyone else, I didn’t realize my reserves of zeal and creativity would have to last as long as they did, so I spent them all in the beginning and slowly started to lose my optimism as the months went by. Thank goodness you were such a good, easy baby. You slept until 8am (in the beginning, that is) and nursed on the go, happy to be held and wherever we all were. We took so many walks together since it was just about the only thing for us to do. You lived at the lake with me, mostly in your carrier, happy to be close to mama and looking around outside. Now, the regular lake-walkers call you their “little star”. Every day, your dad would come home from work and strip and bag his clothes in the garage and run to the shower, holding his breath that it was another day where we would all stay healthy.



Me going back to work was one of the hardest transitions of being split completely down the middle, divided between a semi-mobile, attention-needing 6-month-old as my sidekick and a computer with hundreds of emails to return to. The boys started remote school with their teacher in our makeshift at-home classroom, and you were juggled between me and Mummo, and sometimes Nana and Papa too, nestled up with your family that you loved. Despite our cocoon, somehow, you’ve thrived. Standing, cruising, babbling, playing, saying mama or dada, or shouting “UP!” when you demand to be held. I’m so glad to have been there, cheering you on, for every single milestone. You’re so interested in your brothers and want whatever they have: light sabers, LEGOs, thermos bottles, and their food, and aren’t afraid to shout “TÄÄ!”, the Finnish word for THAT, and point to what it is you want as long as it takes to get it. 




You’re still nursing 3 times a day because there is no such thing as rushing anything with last babies. You eat pretty much everything you’re given, but rice porridge, mashed potatoes, and salmon are your favorites. You’re sleeping 7p-6a now (long gone are the 8am newborn mornings), and we’re working super hard to transition to one afternoon nap. You’re so bright eyed and full of life, attached to mama and displeased enough to scream when anyone else sits in my lap. Stranger danger has been taken to a whole new level since you’ve barely seen any people in your little life, but I promise that will change this year.

Your favorite thing is reading books, especially anything with lift the flaps, and you pick them up and hand them to me over and over again. You point, wave, clap, show us “How big is Maren?”, and give the best, wettest, open mouth kisses. You love Elmo even though you’ve never seen Sesame Street and puppets are your love language. You have two upper and three lower teeth, and when you throw your head back to laugh my heart could explode. Your hair is getting longer and longer, enough where I have to clip it to the side now, and I swear you transformed from baby to little girl as soon as I did. You’re standing unsupported, like a baby bird mustering the courage to take flight, and have just barely started taking a few unassisted, wobbly steps before diving into mama’s arms again.


 

For months I wished for a baby, and you came at just the perfect time. You brought light and the joy in the middle of worry and sadness.  The year hasn’t always been easy, but sometimes it’s been perfect, too. We’ve all grown and changed together in the 4 walls of this house. We’ve loved each other so hard. We’ve been so thankful for our family, for our health, for our home, and especially for you.

As sad as I am that you’re growing so fast, there are even better days ahead. We can see them and almost feel them, just in front of us. Cases are slowly declining; your (adult) family is all vaccinated. We can’t wait for the world to finally meet you. We made it to the other side, together. 


 

Happy first birthday, Maren Josefine, our beautiful baby girl. You are such a dream come true and we love you so incredibly much. 2020: what a year to have been born.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Fun + Useful Easter Basket Ideas

Easter basket inspiration coming your way on this sunny Tuesday, with fun AND useful finds that look pretty all together. Baskets are the best way to give kids what they kind of need any way, including all the things for spring and summer that's right around the corner.


One: Jump ropes all around this year; something to both get the boys' outside and to get rid of all of the wiggles from being stuck inside in these cold weather months.

Two: I loved these unisex pajamas for all of my babies to match. Plus, only $10!

Three: I couldn't resist a SWADDLED BABY BUNNY.

Four: The boys live in these shoes all spring and summer. I quite literally have to pry them off of their feet in the fall and hide them away, they love them so much. Hint: we've found that the cheaper knock-offs give them blisters, but never any issues with the Native brand.

Five: I love this swimsuit brand. So many fun patterns.

Six: One of August's favorite books. The whole series is great, but the egg is on theme.

Seven: The prettiest lip balm.

Eight: Our favorite bath products. A little bit goes A LONG way, and a bottle of this stuff lasts us for months. Following this link, or using code FORYOULAURADIIULIO21 will get you 10% off your purchase.

Nine: Water bottles--always needed around here, but make them cute.

Ten: For your very own little Easter Bunny.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Sibling Snapshot

My favorite kind of post today: a sibling snapshot of our trio. They're all at such fun, but different, ages, and each is just so uniquely their OWN person. This has been both the craziest and busiest season of life, with all of us home ALL DAY EVERY DAY, but at the same time, I've really gotten to see them change and grow up before my eyes. The difference one year has made always takes my breath away, and looking back at pictures from February of last year, before quarantine began, really just gets me every time. They were so little.

 Oskar: 6.5

Equally brilliant and emotional. Our homebody. This whole year cooped up inside has kept him 100% in his comfort zone, learning 1:1 with a teacher he already knew, snuggled up in our makeshift home school classroom. And he wouldn’t have it any other way without lots of nudging. His perfectionist self is always afraid to try new things, so we end up having to really push him to so. He always ends up shining when he does, a roller coaster of emotions that eventually ends in pride in himself. Lover of LEGOs, Mo Willems, and wrestling with his brother. Master reader, bike rider, karate student and roller-blader. Reading and LOVING Indian in the Cupboard. An early riser, a picky eater, a deep thinker, and on a mission to be right ALL of the time.  A mama’s boy forever and ever.

Biggest parenting challenge: encouraging him to try new things, which includes both activities and food.

August: almost 5

Imaginative and scatterbrained, August never stops talking. Knows and plays with all the things that big brother is into and is growing up so fast for that reason. Always dressed up as something, but most of the time Luigi, a Stormtrooper, or one of Oskar’s long-ago forgotten Halloween costumes. Is the BEST at independent play and listening to his made-up dialogues between his LEGOs makes my heart explode. His teacher said he spends most of his days looking for things that he lost (SO August), but is also constantly surprising us with what he knows. Classic middle child has said, “I always knew that, but you never asked me!” more than once. The only one of his siblings that often sleeps in, and goodness I love him for it. His emotions are big, but most of the time he’s goofy and happy-go-lucky, wanting to make everyone around him laugh.

Biggest parenting challenge: getting him to not give up on everything so easily--he truly just does not care most of the time, which is such a change from his big brother who is almost obsessive. A happy medium would be helpful 😉.


Maren: almost 1

Our beautiful baby girl, most often found pulling up on mama’s legs and yelling “UP, UP”. Crawling everywhere unbelievably fast, but also wanting to be upright and standing against everything. Loves pop-up Peekaboo books, music, and walks in her carrier. Throws all baby toys aside in lieu of specks of dirt, cords, her brothers’ toys, or phones. We also call her "magpie" because she looooves shiny objects, including my earrings and necklaces that I can barely wear anymore because she wants to rip them right off. Says “mama” and “dada and “DA!” for both doggie and duck. Fiercely attached to mama with a serious case of stranger danger, in true quarantine baby fashion. Napping 9:30-10:30a and 2:00-3:00, and sleeping  through the night, 7:00p-6:00a (on a good day). Eats almost everything she’s given, bless her, and is still nursing 4 times a day. Her three-toothed smile lights up our entire world, and we’re all constantly doing everything we can to get her to giggle. My 2020 resolution was to soak up every last bit of her, our last baby, and I’m forever grateful I’ve had this time with her. I only wish I could bottle her up and keep her this age forever.

Biggest parenting challenge: getting her to sleep in (which really means until at least 6a). We've had plenty of mornings starting in the 5s lately, which are notoriously brutal 😑.

 



 
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