Welcome to Two

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Our baby boy turned Two! Years! Old! on September 21st, and today we all went in for his 2-year checkup. He’s still growing healthy and strong, weighing in today at an even 30 lbs. and 35 inches tall.

We had a low-key but very fun birthday celebration, taking the bus out to Coney Island for a trip to the New York Aquarium, and then lunch at Totonno’s before heading home again for a nap and homemade brownies. Julian loved seeing the fish and other sea creatures, and even got to touch a horseshoe crab!

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touching the horseshoe crab

And what kid doesn’t love good pizza?

finally, Totonno's

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(This stuff is famous for a reason.)

make a wish

Mike made a batch of delicious homemade brownies for our birthday boy, and helped him blow out the candles after the usual song. Julian’s Nana and Papa Hess sent along a short video clip of them singing “Happy Birthday”, too, which Jules wanted to watch again and again. We’ll get to see them in person again soon, as they’re planning to be here for the birth of Julian’s little sister, just weeks (?) from now.

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I can’t believe how quickly our baby boy has grown, and I really love the person he is becoming. Between the new baby and Mike putting the finishing touches on his book, our life is going to be a little crazy over the coming months, but I am really looking forward to having some time at home to spend not just with the new baby, but hanging out with my sweet Julian.

21 Months!

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I can’t believe we’ve already passed the 21-month mark. Here are Julian’s stats from his latest checkup:

Height: 34 1/2 inches
Weight: 28 lbs, 10 oz
Head circumference: 49.5 cm

His biggest development over the last three months: WORDS. So many words! He loves reading them, speaking them, signing and singing them, and he now recognizes words and individual letters in books and out in the world. He seems to gain a dozen new words every day! He is especially into naming things, and if he doesn’t know what something is called, he’ll ask, we’ll tell him, and he repeats it until he remembers. He now calls the cats by their names in pretty adorable fashion (Kirby sounds like “Goo-Bee”, Junie is “Choo-NEE!”), and he has become quite the mimic – which means mama has to really watch her potty mouth these days.

our little traveler

He has once again proven to be a great little traveler, handling 12+ hours (each way!) in my parents’ car as we journeyed to Michigan to spend the long July 4th weekend with my family. He had a great time hanging out with Nana and Papa, and meeting my whole, big extended family, and most importantly, finally meeting my beloved Grandma, his “Gigi” Marina.

and then I realized I'd been waiting my whole life for this moment

We spent a hot and muggy, but very enjoyable afternoon at the Detroit Zoo, and Julian loved seeing all the animals.

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The seals were a particular favorite.

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We had a blast hanging out in my aunt and uncle’s pool, too. This kiddo loves the water – I think swim lessons might be in the not-too-distant future.

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We’re having a great summer, trying to take advantage of our nearby parks and playgrounds, hitting the farmers’ markets for fresh summer produce (Julian is particularly loving the berries and stone fruits available now), and slowly gearing up for the arrival of Julian’s baby sister in November.

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18 Months

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Julian had his 18 month checkup yesterday, and here are his stats:

Height: 33 1/4 inches
Weight: 25 lbs, 1.4 oz
Head circumference: 49 1/4 cm

He is doing great and continues to grow and develop just as he should be. He now has a whole mouth full of teeth, his appetite is terrific, and he continues to work at mastering the use of his tot spoon and fork. He has boundless energy, loves running and climbing, and has taken a great deal of interest in those little scooters that all the kids seem to be riding these days. (Mama’s not sure if she’s ready for him to have one just yet, but I suspect it’s only a matter of time. Sigh.)

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He still adores music and his books, and the expansion of his language and communication skills has been pretty amazing to behold. While we still can’t understand a great deal of what he says to us, more and more words are clear, and the sheer number of words that he clearly *knows* is pretty amazing. He has babbly conversations with us (and with his beloved kitties) on a regular basis. He has grown even more physically demonstrative than before. He loves giving, and getting, hugs and kisses, and he loves to interact with others when we’re out and about – kids especially. This social growth is something new, and really interesting to observe. Mike and I often remark that we have no idea where he gets this gregarious streak from – certainly not from his wallflower parents!

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We’re really glad to see that he does so well with other kids, since, assuming all continues to go well, there will be another one joining our family in the Fall. We’re convinced that Julian’s going to make an excellent big brother, but for now, we’re trying to really savor these remaining months as a family of three.

(the gorgeous photos above were taken by our dear friend meriko, who we had a a wonderful visit with over the long Easter weekend – thanks, mko – xxoo)

15 Months

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The numbers:

Weight - 22.5 lbs. (down a few ounces from his last visit for shots, but they weighed him fully-clothed then)
Height - 31.5 inches (up a whopping 2.5 inches from his 1-year checkup!)
Head – 48 cm

And… we have molars! The better to eat with in 2013. Hope you all have a great one!

growth spurt

Dapper.

We had to postpone Julian’s latest round of vaccines because of his recent surgery (which was deemed a success, thank goodness), so we went in for a quick, shots-only well visit last Friday. Our little man has gained almost 3 pounds since his 1-year check-up just two months ago, now weighing in at 22 lbs. 11 oz.

He continues to eat a wide variety of foods with gusto, and is interested in trying whatever he sees us eating. He is also very working very hard to master his OXO Tot fork and spoon. He still stumbles sometimes, mostly because he’s just moving faster than his legs can carry him, but he’s pretty much got walking and running down pat. He can handle the steps at the Tot Lot, and loves to try his hand at climbing as well. He’s got an ever-increasing vocabulary, with “Dada” or “Daddy”, “cat”, “Mama”, “dog”, “egg”, and “down” all in use, and he’s even started imitating some of what he’s seen on Signing Time (which he loooooves). He also loves his books and loves being read to, and he’ll even bring you a specific book if you ask him to… Dear Zoo is a current favorite, as is Kitten’s First Full Moon.

It’s amazing to look back at what a wee little thing he was just a year ago, and compare that to the babbling, bouncing ball of energy we see before us today. He’s grown so much, and seems to change and develop in new ways every single day. I suspect we’re gonna have our hands full with this guy – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

like father, like son

apple cider donut!

J loved his first taste of an apple cider donut.

Now We Are One

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Julian had his one-year checkup today, and while he is still a peanut, below the curve in terms of height and weight for his age (now checking in at 29 inches tall and an even 20 lbs.), his overall health seems great. He is all about walking these days, working on that new skill every chance he gets, and even practicing his backwards walk over the weekend.

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He’s growing up so fast, I feel like he’ll be driving before we know it. (And don’t get me started on his interest in climbing… we’re going to have to bolt all our furniture to the walls.)

"Why is this spoon empty?!"

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Despite his small size, his appetite is great, and he has very much embraced self-feeding.

I am The Luckiest.

Mike‘s birthday was yesterday, and while Julian started off the day with more “traditional” toddler fare (milk and Cheerios, which he kindly shared with the cats), he was very insistent about sampling everything we ate on our nosh-walk around Chinatown.

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It’s pretty wild to think that Mike and I were well into our thirties before we had ever tasted steamed buns, fried dumplings or banh mi; our son, at a little over a year old, has now tried – and loved – all of these things. I so love that Julian wants to taste anything and everything he sees us eating, and that he has really enjoyed most all of it. I hope he continues to show such curiosity and adventurousness as he grows older.

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And now that he’s passed the one year mark, our little guy is scheduled to undergo the second (and hopefully final) stage of his corrective surgery this Friday. His new doctors seem to be very pleased with how things have progressed since the first procedure, and have told us they expect a good result this time around as well.

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I’m still fretting, of course. I’ll be glad to have this, finally, behind us.

soup + sandwich season

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The soup was a quick little lentil number; the sandwiches were roasted vegetables layered with soft goat cheese and shredded mozzarella on Bread Alone sourdough, pressed and pan-toasted until melty. A hit all around.

Changing Rhythms

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I dressed this morning, reaching to the very back of my top dresser drawer to pull out a bra I haven’t worn in over a year. I chose an outfit without worrying about easy access. I left for work without the large black tote bag which has carried my breast pump, cooler bag, ice pack, and other accoutrements of the working nursing mom for the last ten months, and, feeling a little lighter, I walked to the train station this crisp fall morning, instead of waiting for a bus.

It was bittersweet.

This in no way marks the end of breastfeeding for Julian and me. I nursed him as usual this morning before we got out of bed, and I’ll do so again tonight, and the next day, and for the foreseeable future until it feels right for both of us to stop. But now that we’ve reached the one-year mark, and Julian is happily tucking into nearly every food item we put in front of him, I have decided to take the first small step toward weaning by no longer pumping at work.

It’s bittersweet.

The pumping itself, I won’t miss. The the lugging of equipment on public transportation, the physical pain and discomfort from missed sessions, the spilled milk, the clogged ducts… I’m quite happy to put all of those things behind me.

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But it’s bittersweet.

In some ways, this marks the beginning of the end. Soon this special thing I have shared with my son and no one else will be behind us, and he’ll need me a little less, and there will be one fewer thing I can do to comfort him.

I feel lucky and grateful to have made it this far, to have persevered, and I am grateful that I was able to feed my son in the best way for us from the time I returned to work at 10 weeks postpartum to the present. But…

I’m not going to lie – it has been fraught. Difficult. Harder than it should be, I think, in this day and age, in this country.

The law protects a woman’s right to breastfeed, and to express milk after returning to work, and provides that you have a safe, clean, private place to do so, but in reality… let’s just say I haven’t always felt so supported. I shed a lot of tears about that. I felt shamed, at times, and I questioned my judgment, and frankly, that’s just wrong.

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Things got better and easier after our move and the changes to my work situation, and I feel like I am now in a place where *I* am the one making the decision to wean, like *I* am the one in control, that my hand is not being forced by someone else, or that I’m being punished for the decisions I’ve made about how to feed my child.

But I’m sad that such a beautiful part of my life, and Julian’s, is tied up with such ugly and difficult memories for me.

It’s bittersweet.

And this really resonates.

The First

Julian: 52 Weeks Old

Dear Julian:

Today you are 52 weeks old. 52 weeks! I still can’t believe how the time has flown.

52 weeks ago, we began the final leg of the long journey we took to meet you. It would be two more days before we would finally see your face, and hold you in our arms, but we were so ready. What an amazing ride this first year has been.

One year ago I could not truly have known how you would change my world, or make my heart grow. You have made me both a stronger person, and a softer one. I can’t even begin to count all the little gifts you give us daily – your first morning smiles; the sweet smell of the top of your head; the way you reach out in the night to pat Daddy, then me, and then murmur softly before you settle back into a deep sleep; the way you squeeze your eyes shut, wrinkle your nose and wiggle when you taste something new for the first time, before waving your arms and leaning in for another bite; the way your whole face lights up when I walk through the door in the evening – these are just a few of the things I will carry in my heart forever.

fried plantain!

You started walking for real this past weekend, and for the last few days I have been greeted not just with your smile, but with you toddling over to me, clutching my skirt or pantlegs, arms up and ready for me to scoop you up for a big kiss when I get home from work.

The gift I cherish most of all, though, is being able to watch you experience things, to grow and learn, to watch you figure out how the world works and what your place is in it.

You take my breath away, kid. The reality of our life with you is better than anything I could have dreamed up.

I want to make the world a better place for you. I want to be a better person for you. I want to always be someone you look for first when you stumble, need comfort, or just want to know that you’re not alone.

Daddy's boy

Those earliest, near-sleepless first nights after your Daddy and I brought you home from the hospital, a helpless baby burrito in a floppy swaddle you’d always squirm out of, have already faded to fuzzy scenes in my memory. There have been so many firsts since then, and there are countless yet to come. I hope that when you look back at these firsts someday, and at the picture of your childhood as a whole, that the feelings are overwhelmingly happy. I hope you can say without hesitation that I did right by you, that you felt safe and nurtured, supported and most of all loved, totally and unconditionally.

Goodnight nobody. Goodnight mush.

I can’t wait to celebrate your first birthday this Friday, to celebrate the person you have become, to kick off Year Two with lots of smiles and laughter, and to thank you for bringing such incredible joy into my life. Here’s to you, my little love.

Love you forever,
Mommy

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