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THEO IS ONE!

Theo is one!The other night at bedtime I was sitting on the sofa in the kids room nursing Theo. Isla was nuzzled under my free arm twirling her hair and sucking her thumb. The only light was from the moon shining through a crack in the curtains. It was a sweet, quiet, rare moment. Suddenly Theo pulled away, looked up at me with that huge trademark grin of his and said, “Mama!” When he realized Isla was there he instantly flung himself on top of her and nuzzled his head in her neck. She yelled, “THEEEE-OOOO!” and they both giggled. He did this about 10 more times. He’d look at me and smile then throw himself headfirst on top of his sister to cuddle with her before popping back up to nurse a little more.

These tiny, short, unexpected moments are the ones I never want to forget when our kids are grown. Between all the toy stealing, biting, pushing and craziness that is life with two kids, it’s these sweet moments that make me feel like we’re doing something right.

Theo adores his big sister. She refuses to share with him, grabs everything he touches the second he touches it and scolds him all day long. But she’s the first to say, “Great job, buddy!” when he climbs the stairs by himself, or “You can do it!” as he takes his first uneasy steps. He wants to hug her and kiss her and slobber all over her all day long, and she’s constantly teaching him new things and supporting him in her own toddler-ish way.

They spend much of the day playing side-by-side, her building things and him knocking them over to her great frustration. “NO BABY MONSTER!” she yells when he tears apart her train tracks, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And he screeches, “ISLA!” and then bites her (hard) when she steals from him or just when he misses her. If he wakes up before her he yells her name, pronouncing it almost perfectly, until I hear them both giggle and realize reluctantly, exhaustedly, joyfully that our day has begun.

Theo is one today.

It feels like just yesterday Isla came to the hospital to meet her new baby brother for the first time, yet the whole year feels like a blur. It’s hard to remember a time when Theo wasn’t smiling at us, yelling Mama and Dada and Isla, barking at his meowing sister, climbing on the furniture or turning the pages of his books all by himself. Before he was crawling or talking or feeding himself. When was that? So long ago. Just yesterday.

I dare say bringing home a second baby was scarier than the first. One baby, two parents. We got this. Or so we thought. Adjusting to life as a parent can be challenging. But when Theo came home I was suddenly outnumbered when Chris was at work or away. Two hands are not enough! At the same time, Theo was easier than Isla, calmer than Isla, chiller than any human I’ve ever met. Eventually we found our groove. I found time to shower and make sure both kids were fed. We figured out how to get to the park, take morning walks to get coffee and even managed to visit fun places like the aquarium or zoo. Somehow, outnumbered, we made it.

Though each new stage brings its own challenges for each child, we survived. No, we more than survived. These kids are thriving and we get better every day as parents. There are those days when Theo is covered in his sister’s pee because he found her potty before I had a chance to clean it out. The days when I yell at Isla too many times because she just will not listen. Or those days when they both watch too much TV because I just cannot get through one more minute and keep my sanity. Days when we feel like we’ve failed as parents. But at the end of those days these two nuzzle each other, giggle together, exchange goodnight kisses and remind us that it’s all going to be okay. Our kids love each other. They’re best friends and eternal companions. And they know how much we love them. All is right with the world.

If you can’t tell, I’m on a roller coaster of emotions right now and just typing when comes out of my fingertips because this is my last monthly update for Theo and I can’t deal. But thanks for listening and let’s get to it.

Last month Theo dressed up as Bat Boy for his first Halloween and celebrated his birthday early with my side of the family by throwing his piece of cake on the floor without so much as a lick. We went to the pumpkin patch and bowling, had daily dance parties and spent a lot of time with family. Theo TOOK HIS FIRST STEPS the day before Halloween, is learning new words every single day and is hell-bent on asserting his independence every chance he gets. He adores his book about dogs and loves to howl (at the moon) and cook naked in the kiddie kitchen. He insists on standing while dancing at music class (and gets very frustrated when all that booty shaking makes him fall over), loves climbing into his sister’s bed to snuggle with her and will no longer be carried up the steps because he must climb them by himself. He throws things onto the floor so he can say “uh oh,” says “oooooooh” every time he’s excited about something and points to animals and pictures when he wants us to tell him what they are and what sounds they make. He head butts us (hard!) and bites us when he doesn’t get his way and is like a bull in a china shop. He finally loves bananas, steals and drinks his sister’s milk and is showing no signs of wanting to wean. He only sleeps through the night when he feels like it, smiles constantly and leans in to give sweet hugs to all his friends.

Our Theo is sweet, loving, stubborn, hilarious and fiercely independent (he gets that last one from his sister). We’re looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with him and watching him learn to walk, talk and develop into his own little self.

Sweet Theo, you bring us more joy than we could ever explain to you in words. Your kisses and smiles brighten our darkest days. You are a gift and I hope you always know how much we love you. We hope you grow to be kind, loving, loyal, open-minded and accepting of everyone you meet. We hope the name we’ve given you makes you proud and reminds you that life is too short to take for granted. We hope you and your sister protect each other and remain friends and loyal companions for eternity. We hope you fiercely support each other and stand side-by-side through all of life’s challenges and greatest joys.

We love you to the moon, Theo Jon.

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY!

(Theo at eleven monthsten monthsnine monthseight monthsseven monthssix monthsfive monthsfour monthsthree monthstwo monthsone month andhis birth story)

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Baby

ELEVEN MONTHS

Theo 11 Month photo shoot in Opposite of Far fox maskI almost cried this morning when I realized we only have one more of these photo shoots left. I’m not quite sure how that happened! This has been an amazing but blurry year, and I wouldn’t change one second of it. More on that next month though.

The kids were super exhausted during this photo shoot this morning thanks to a crazy wedding weekend. Isla kept jumping in front of the camera right when I was about to snap a photo of Theo, which surprisingly resulted in a couple of beautiful close-ups of her. Theo technically turned 11 months yesterday but my cousin got married on Sunday so we were still down the shore. These cuties were amazing all weekend despite all the chaos. Theo was a little overwhelmed by all the noise at the wedding itself so he didn’t show off his killer dance moves (you can see them here), but both kids were troopers and they looked so sweet in their wedding outfits. Chris and I were very proud. A few pictures of the kids and their cousins dressed to the nines coming soon. But first, Theo’s 11-month update.

Theo is officially talking and almost walking! He says hi, bye, moo, woof, boo, mama, da and his very first word was Isla! He actually yells it all the time (as seen here) because I’m sure that’s what he’s used to hearing (she is always in trouble!). If he wakes up before her he screams her name and giggles from the crib until she wakes up. It’s pretty much my favorite thing (except the whole waking her up part). Theo can stand on his own for a few seconds, mostly while clapping and dancing, and also while nursing. Seriously. It’s super awkward when we’re out and about and he’s standing on my lap with his butt in the air while nursing! Crazy kid. When Isla meows at him he barks back (I can’t make this stuff up). He visited his first pumpkin patch and attended his first wedding over the weekend (bow tie and all), where he was loved by all the ladies. He can now climb on and off of his rocking horse by himself, loves to snuggle and give people hugs and sometimes even blows kisses. He is truly the sweetest little guy ever. After I wrote a recap about baby-led weaning with Theo and bragged about what a good eater he is, he decided to become the pickiest eater ever, so that’s been fun. His favorite thing is throwing food across the room and looking us right in the eye while he drops it on the floor. Defiant is the most accurate word to describe both our children. His favorite songs are “Send My Love” by Adele, “Cheap Thrills” by Sia and anything by Ellie Goulding and on the Raffi radio station. He also booty shakes like he’s auditioning for a music video. It’s incredible and totally inappropriate.

This month we’re going to celebrate Theo’s first birthday a couple of times, get dressed up in what I hope will be an adorable brother-sister costume for his first Halloween, pick some apples, enjoy our daily dance parties and cherish these last moments of our little guy’s first year.

Happy 11 months, Theo! We love you more than your sister loves cats.

(Theo at ten monthsnine monthseight monthsseven monthssix monthsfive monthsfour monthsthree monthstwo monthsone month andhis birth story)

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Baby

FIVE TIPS FOR TAKING MILESTONE PHOTOS OF YOUR BABY

Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby{This blog post is sponsored by Pampers. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine. Pinky swear.}

I have taken so many photos of my kids, my husband had to buy a separate server to store them all. I just can’t help myself. One of my favorite things to do is look back at the images and remember the moments and milestones that now seem like a lifetime ago.

When Isla was a baby I started taking photos of her in the nursery to commemorate each passing month (I call it 12 months of Isla). She wore a one-piece with the corresponding number for her age on it and I let her play with her favorite toys while capturing as many of her facial expressions and mannerisms as possible. Then I wrote down all the things she learned and did the previous month and made them into a hardcover photo book so I’d never forget my first baby’s first year. She loves that book almost as much as we do so I decided to do it all over again with Theo, this time using a light box to indicate his age. Trying to photograph a moving baby with a rambunctious toddler around is no easy task but the pictures are priceless.

Almost every mom I know takes some sort of photograph of her baby to commemorate each passing month, so I’ve teamed up with Pampers to share a few tips for how to take fun monthly photos the whole family will cherish. I am by no means a professional with a lens, but after two-and-a-half years of baby wrangling I have a few tricks up my sleeve!Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

1. Choose a unique backdrop/setting. I recommend finding a space or backdrop you love, whether it’s your baby’s nursery, a playroom, the living room or even a little corner filled with your baby’s favorite toys and a fun blanket to be used as a backdrop. I knew right away I wanted to take these photos in our kids’ room. It’s my favorite room in the house and it gets the most natural light, which in turn produces the best quality photos. I love the design on the rug and the overall colors in the room make for bright, happy photos. The sofa, in particular, holds special meaning for me so I knew I wanted the kids photographed on/with it. It’s been passed through my family for decades; we have photos of my mom on that sofa when she was a teenager and plenty more of my sisters and me throughout our childhood during visits to my grandparents’ house. Seeing it in my kids’ room brings back beautiful childhood memories. Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

2. Find a milestone prop. As I mentioned, my daughter wore a one-piece with her age (“7 months”) ironed on it for each of her monthly photo shoots. One of my dearest girlfriends made us a 12-month set and they were the perfect way to document her age. I wanted to change things up for my son so I bought a light box with changeable letters and shapes so I could spell out his age. There are so many fun ideas out there you could try, like spelling out the month with kids’ blocks, crayons or even flowers, or, if you’re good with graphics, you could simply add the words to the photograph later. The possibilities are endless and Pinterest is a great place to find cool ideas.Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

3. Use repetition. Looking back at how quickly these babies change and grow is bittersweet. Time truly is fleeting. As a way to document your baby’s monthly growth, consider including the same stuffed animal or favorite toy in at least one photo every month. For example, each month, I take a few photos of Theo lying on the floor with his favorite kitty stuffed animal so I can look back and see how tall he’s getting. In the beginning that cat was bigger than he was! Now that he’s older (10 months), I can’t quite get him to lie still long enough for a photo, but the kitty is always close by. The sofa serves a similar purpose as I watch him learn to sit up on his own and soon he’ll be climbing on and off of it!risa_page_for_pampers_114. Be candid (and flexible). I’ve found my kids take the best photos when they’re playing together in a calm, comfortable environment. I dress them comfortably and in their Pampers diapers so they can move around easily (Isla’s in Pampers Easy Ups now because she’s potty training like a pro and loves her “Dora pants”). If they want to dress up in fun costumes I’m all for it, but I don’t force it. Comfort is the key to a happy baby and a much more pleasant photo shoot. Of course, I try my best to be funny and goofy to get those gummy smiles and giggles, but I stopped begging them to “say cheese!” or “look at mommy” a long time ago. In the end, I love the candid photos so much more anyway because their personalities shine through when I let them be themselves. In these digital times, you can always delete any photos you don’t want so I recommend you snap away, stay calm and hope for a few good ones.Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

5. Have fun. Smiling moms and dads = smiling babies. This one goes along with number four. My favorite photos are the ones with cracking up babies and parents. We sometimes play music, sing songs or play games to get the kids laughing. Isla loves to ham it up for her brother and I love when we can catch it on “film.”Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your BabySponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

Bonus tip: Theo’s one-month photo shoot was chaotic because Isla was running around like crazy, stealing Theo’s cat and mixing up the letters on the light box (all while he slept). This was my first attempt at baby photos with a toddler in tow so there was a bit of a learning curve. If you have a toddler, try enlisting him or her for help while you take photos of your baby. Giving the older sibling a “very important task” might help you reign in the chaos a little bit as you try to capture these sweet moments. Isla has a kids’ digital camera so she likes to take her own photos of Theo while I take mine. She also loves loves that light box and will sit and smile sweetly if I let her hold it for Theo. I’ve used it for other holidays, too, because it’s sometimes the only way I can get them smiling together in a photo! And there was that one month when she moved the letters around, misspelling “months,” and I didn’t realize until I looked at the images on the camera later. Those are now some of my favorite photos because that’s a true depiction of life and motherhood!Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

I hope you find these small tips helpful when taking photos of your little one. When all is said and done, it’s those big baby smiles you’ll cherish forever.

Happy snapping!

(p.s. striped blanket c/o Max + Moose)

Baby-Led Weaning

BABY-LED WEANING RECAP | THEO

Baby-led weaning: pasta with tomato sauceTheo is 10 months old now so he’s eating pretty much anything and everything we eat (with a few exceptions). But I often get questions about baby-led weaning so I thought I’d talk a bit about our experience with kid number two.

It’s true, you’re much more relaxed as a parent with your second child, and this also applies to BLW. At least for us. Isla’s initial egg allergy had me on edge about what we were giving her until she finally passed the allergy test. As a result, she won’t go anywhere near eggs no matter how hard we try and she can be extremely particular about what she’s eating and whether each food group is touching. It’s super fun. Though, let me say, she is, overall, a decent eater … when she wants to be.

From the start, Theo was not as gung-ho about food as Isla was. He puts everything he can get his hands on into his mouth, but wasn’t keen on food at first. We just kept trying once or twice a day with the BLW starter foods (which you can read about here) until he got the hang of it. We began when he was six months old and by seven months he was up to two full meals a day and would’ve eaten more had we offered. Now, at 10 months, he eats three solid meals each day with occasional snacks in between and still nurses five to six times. He’s a hungry guy.

I don’t know if we were just hyper sensitive with Isla because it was our first time, but it seemed like Theo did far less gagging from the start. (Read about the BLW gagging here. It’s normal, but can certainly be scary.) He also chews his food a little more than she did (she swallowed her pasta whole!) so that could explain it a little. He also got his teeth earlier than she did. I’m sure these are all factors, in addition to the fact that every kid truly is different!

Let’s talk foods.

There’s nothing we won’t offer him, except foods than contain honey, sweets or really hard foods like uncooked carrots. He eats seafood (including grilled octopus, yum!), every kind of meat, veggies sautéed in olive oil (even spinach and red peppers!), cheese, sandwiches, eggs, any and all fruit, Cheerios and we just started offering him smoothies. Here’s a list of some of our favorite foods for each meal and how we prepare them:

BREAKFAST:
Theo starts nearly every day with a one-egg cheese omelet with a side of fruit and a handful or two of Cheerios if he’s still hungry. I’ve tried spoon-feeding him yogurt or oatmeal but that guy wants no part of it. He does not want help with his food. Until he can spoon-feed himself we’ll be sticking to finger foods. He also enjoys pancakes when we go out for brunch!

LUNCH (note: he gets a side of fruit and/or veggies with every meal):
grilled cheese
peanut butter sandwich (he’s ‘eh’ on this; loves PB, but not always on bread)
pasta (any way you can imagine)
avocado toast (he’s not loving this lately, but we keep trying; this was Isla’s favorite)
hummus sandwich
chicken/pork/beef (cut into small pieces)
egg salad with avocado instead of mayo, either on toast or in a pile as a finger food
the previous dinner’s leftovers

FRUITS/VEGGIES
tangerines
apples (cut into small pieces)
strawberries
peas (in butter with pepper)
green beans (sautéed, cut in pieces)
spinach (sautéed in garlic and olive oil, cut in pieces)
peaches (cut into small pieces)
oranges
carrots (small pieces sautéed in olive oil
frozen corn/corn on the cob (sometimes he eats it off the cob, other times I cut it off)
grapes (cut in fours to avoid choking)
zucchini (sautéed in olive oil)
baked sweet potato fries
potatoes (baked, mashed, pan-friend; fries, home fries, any which way!)
tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
(he will not touch bananas or broccoli with a 10-foot pole)

SNACKS
chunks of cheese
Cheerios
puffs
fruit
veggies
hard-boiled egg
raisins
chickpeas (out of the can, rinsed and peeled)
olives (sliced)
rice cakes

DINNER
Whatever we’re having. Here are few favorites:
pasta (any way you can imagine)
quesadillas
chicken/pork/steak (cut into small pieces; grilled, baked, pulled, any which way!)
grilled salmon
any kind of rice, but especially Thai pineapple-fried rice because yum!
cheeseburger (cut into chunks without bread)
homemade baked chicken nuggets

This is just a sample, but the moral of the story here is that Theo eats what we eat. It’s been two-and-a-half years since we started adding tiny humans to our family and we’ve never once spent a penny on baby food. While I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with purees, whether store-bought or homemade, we’ve loved baby-led weaning. As a stay-at-home mom I have the time to sit around and watch my children play with their food and then clean it up after they’ve chucked it all over the kitchen. Whether or not I have the patience is still up for debate and depends entirely on the day. I’d like to think introducing them to real, whole, textured foods from the very beginning will make them less picky later, though Isla is currently taking that theory, rolling it up like a spit ball and shooting it in my hair.

Time will tell. (To read read about complete BLW journey with Isla, plus recipes and more from her first year, which is way more detailed because first kid, click here and scroll down until you find something useful.)

Now we just have to teach them to like sushi and our work here will be done.

*Please note: This post is meant to provide useful tips about baby-led weaning. This is our family’s personal journey and is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. I am NOT a doctor. I am a stay-at-home mom with a background in public relations so taking medical advice from me would be straight up crazy. Seriously. We’re exploring baby-led weaning in consultation with our pediatrician … every step of the way. You should do the same. Baby-led weaning: scrambled eggs Baby-led weaning: hummus and carrots Baby-led weaning:hardboiled eggs Baby-led weaning: hummus and broccoli Baby-led weaning: strawberries and omelets

Baby

TEN MONTHS

10 Month Photo Shoot in Nursery with lightboxWe only have two more of these first-year photo shoots left and I’m already losing my cool a little. I thought Isla’s first year flashed by like lightning but juggling two kids means entire days and weeks sometimes feel like a blur. I’m trying my best to savor this season of life, when our babies are still babies and raising them feels like a little bubble I can (mostly) control. Before I know it these teenagers will be aging me like POTUS and keeping me up nights with worry. But for now I’m going to eat up these moments and do my best to tattoo them to my brain so I never forget.

Last month Theo spent lots of quality time with family down the shore, experienced his first tropical storm (or at least a few strong winds from Hermine) and made a couple of new buddies. He fell in love with a kitty we borrowed for a few days from friends, and by “fell in love” I mean totally lost his marbles with excitement every single time he saw that crazy cat and wanted to pull her tail and smother her to death with his kisses and now he hisses at us all the time. I say this every month, but his love for music and dancing is off the charts and I cannot get enough. He busts a move every change he gets, whether it’s to music, his sister’s singing or the beat in his head. It’s kind of my favorite thing in the whole world.

He’s still an amazing eater and will gobble down anything that isn’t banana or broccoli, because those are apparently the most foul things he’s ever tasted. He tried his first taste of seared octopus and shrimp (loved them both) but was not impressed with king crab. He’s finally fighting back against his sister, constantly stealing her toys, whacking her in the face, knocking over her towers and tackling her so he can kiss/punch/kick/hug her while she giggles and yells “Monster Baby, that tickles!” He enjoys screaming at the top of his lungs (hence the nickname “monster baby”), swimming, eating sand, eating in general, snuggling, stealing people’s glasses off their faces, biting and then laughing hysterically when you make a scene about the pain, chewing shoes, throwing food, sleeping, scratching the leather sofa, climbing the stairs then falling headfirst back down like it’s a game of trust, gnawing his crib, sitting on his sister’s potty and smiling all day long.

This month we’re going to fall in love with autumn all over again, go on lots of outdoor adventures, send his big sister back to school and spend some mama/son QT, look adorable and dance the night away at his first wedding and get ready for pumpkin season.

Happy 10 months, little dance machine! We love you more than Michael Phelps loves gold medals.

(Theo at nine monthseight monthsseven monthssix monthsfive monthsfour monthsthree monthstwo monthsone month and his birth story)

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