Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

August 13, 2018

Dana at Seven Months

Dear Dana,

I must have blinked. In the span of what feels like just minutes you have become a vastly different baby.

You are very aware of your surroundings these days. You even seemed aware that Mommy was sleeping in the same room with you, though you couldn’t see me from the vantage point of your crib. That awareness was starting to impact your sleep. There were too many nights when I inadvertently woke up when going to bed myself, or because I rolled over in my sleep. There were times I’d awake in the middle of the night and it seemed like you were looking over, waiting to see if I’d rise. So, at the start of August, we decided to move your crib back into to your own room. As with all transitions, it was harder for me than for you. You woke up one additional time the first night, but that was the extend of any sleep disruptions for you. I, on the other hand, still get a little sad when I walk into my bedroom and you’re crib isn’t there. I miss having you so close.

I may not have had a chance to put together the nursery quiet like I wanted, but that hasn’t hampered your enjoyment of it any. You love the new toys, and the black out curtains help keep it cooler and darker than mommy and daddy’s room which I’m sure is what’s helping you nap for longer stretches more consistently during the day.

Another transition that’s coming up? You’ll be out of the baby bath in the very near future. You’re almost too long for it, and definitely too mobile. Being the momtographer that I am, I took some “last day in the baby bath” pictures, and put them side by side with your “first day in the baby bath.” It’s incredible how much you’ve grown! (And you sure do love your toes!)

You took six onces from a bottle for the first time last week, and you’ve gone from eating half a stage 1 puree, to two stage 2s. You eat a fruit at lunch time and a vegetable at dinner. So far vegetables are the clear favorites. Squash is number one, and you prefer peas and green beans to apples or peaches. You are just not into anything sweet. I hope that lasts! Trust me, you don’t want to inherit Mommy’s sweet tooth. I plan on adding some yogurt for breakfast into your diet very soon.

Your favorite things these days are your sisters, your toy remote and your jumperoo. You will use any piece of fabric near you to play peek-a-boo: burp cloth, mommy’s shirt, the towel. You’ve gotten quite good at it, and can even play by yourself!

You’re up to the 82nd percentile for height, 60th for weight. That’s incredible given where you started from! You will always be my baby, but you are not not so itty bitty anymore!

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

July 15, 2018

Puzzlemania

2018 will forever be remembered as the summer of the jigsaw puzzle in our house.

Jigsaw puzzles were a big part of my childhood. I remember sitting in front of the coffee table with my mom and sister, working on 5,000 piece puzzles together. The one in particular that sticks out in my memory was sheet music of Beethoven’s 5th. Growing up we had a collection a 100 and 250 piece puzzles that, when they became two easy, my sister and I would dump them over backwards and assemble them upside down. I even spent a summer with my best friend on an “impossible” branded puzzle which had no straight edges. Since that wasn’t challenging enough, the backside of the puzzle was stamped with the same image as the front side, just rotated so you could never tell by looking at a single piece if it was upside down or not.

We were always destined to be a puzzle house.

As new parents Domingo and I stocked up on baby puzzles. I remember baby Alexis chewing on the wooden knob of a Melisa and Doug Shapes puzzle, holding it in her mouth like a binky. I probably even have a picture of it somewhere.

When the kids got a little bigger we tried the foam puzzles, and the kind that are meant to be stored assembled where the backing has an outline of each puzzle piece.

The girls never really seemed that interested, and the puzzles stayed mostly in the closet, forgotten. We decided to change that this summer. I wanted to try and bestow my love of jigsaw puzzles onto them, to see if I couldn’t pique their interest.

This summer I purchased a 250 piece puzzle, just to see what the kids were capable of. Nicole, Alexis and I sat down to work on it together. The design ended up being a little more monochromatic (see above), and thus more challenging than I anticipated, but that didn’t stop the girls from getting into it. Even Alexis was able to put some pieces together, and she’s three and a half!

From there we broke out the 48 piece puzzles and when those were two easy, I mixed up the pieces and had Nicole do two puzzles simultaneously. When that proved too easy Domingo found some 100 piece puzzles. In no time the girls were assembling multiple puzzles a night together, though Alexis can do the 48 piece puzzles herself. Alexis told me quite emphatically recently that they did not need my help.

I can’t wait for Dana to get a little bit bigger. We’re going to get a coffee table, and then really see what the kids can do!

July 10, 2018

Dana at Six Months

Dear Dana,

As much as I still want to think of you as a newborn, I now have two pointy white reminders that you are most definitely not. That’s right, someone is cutting her first teeth! A full two months earlier than either of your sisters. You are determined to march to your own drum, and keep this “experienced” mom on her toes, that’s for sure!

We started solids last week, which was super exciting for your sisters who were eager to show you how it’s done. We choose your purees to match the vegetables they were having for dinner so they could show you how to eat the non-mashed kind. It was the best I’ve seen Alexis eat her peas in a long time, so I thank you for that. So far your favorite seems to be squash, but you did equally well with carrots and peas too.

This month we finally were able to break you of the swaddle habit. You seemed unable to settle down and go to sleep without the swaddle, but also uncomfortable when we swaddled you. It was an ongoing battle until I figured out why you like the swaddle so much. I believe the soft muslin fabric reminds you of mommy’s shirt. Every time we nurse, you like to pull Mommy’s shirt over your face. I think the swaddle blanket rubbing against your check reminds you of mommy and that’s why you find comfort in it, even though the act of swaddling is no longer comfortable to you. Once we figured that out I started loosely wrapping you in the blanket and you slept so much better. Of course this means you only get a blanket at nap time when we can keep an eye on you. Once it’s safe for you to sleep with a blanket at night, the muslin swaddle blanket will probably be promoted to blankie.


You love to stick your tongue out to let me know you want to nurse or nap.

Thumb suckings, and finger sucking for that matter, is now passé. I can’t remember the last time I saw your hand in your mouth. Instead you’re all about gnawing on anything that crosses your path, including mommy sometimes! Those teeth will likely fully erupt in short order.

I can’t believe how quickly time is flying, or that we’re already halfway through your first year. It doesn’t matter how big you get, I will always think of you as my itsy bitsy baby.

Love Always,
Mommy & Daddy

July 9, 2018

Here Comes Six

Six. How is it possible? I feel like it was just a few weeks ago that we were signing Nicole up for kindergarten, a month or so ago that we were bringing her home from the hospital. And now she’s six. Six.

Nicole requested her kid birthday party be at Chuck-E-Cheese again this year. Two years ago the experience was super smooth, but I was dreading it this year. As a special treat the birthday ‘star’ gets to go in the ticket blaster machine. For one minute the birthday ‘star’ collects as many tickets as possible, as wind blows them about. At least for the small kids, they get to choose a friend to accompany them. Two years ago, Nicole’s friend got intimidated at the last minute and Daddy accompanied her in the machine. Alexis was too small to attend the party then. This year Alexis was joining us, along with many friends from summer camp. There was no shortage of kids to choose from. I was sure Nicole would pick a friend over her sister, and that Alexis would be heartbroken to be left out.

In the end my fears were unfounded. Nicole chose Alexis. Not only that, but she happily pooled all her tickets from the day with Alexis so they could each get a toy. Nicole got a gumball machine, Alexis a magic mirror. This kid has a heart of gold.

We had are traditional swim in the pool with Grandma and Grandpa, and the great helium balloon release in the stair way. Both kids actually eat their cake this year, rather than pick at it, much to my surprise. Of course we had our traditional giant foil number balloon photo time. The only thing we weren’t able to do was a restaurant dinner like she wanted. I promised to make it up to both girls later by doing one on one lunch dates with them before the start of school.

June 19, 2018

Peas in a Pod


Can you tell which child is which? Answer key at the bottom of the post

“Who does she take after? Nicole or Alexis?” Was a frequent question right after Dana’s birth, followed by “Did they all have this much hair?” The latter question was much easier to answer – yes! – as for the former? Alexis maybe? I remember studying Dana’s face from the hospital recovery bed, trying to see either big sister in her features. Dana’s face was rounder like Alexis’, but her hair resembled Nicole’s. She simultaneously resembled both of her big sisters, and neither of them at the same time.


My three kids as two week old newborns

When friends and family asked a few weeks after birth, I’d tell them that Nicole had the most hair of the three, Dana second and Alexis’ third. That’s what my memory lead me to believe. Seeing them side by side I think Dana might take that crown.

Now that Dana has filled out a little there’s no question she’s a near carbon copy of Nicole. If I wasn’t the family photographer, I’d swear I wouldn’t be able to tell some of those photos apart. And I used to think Nicole and Alexis looked so much alike as newborns! Ironically, everyone tells me Dana looks like Nicole whenever we’re out and about. I don’t see the similarities as clearly between 5 year old Nicole and baby Dana, though I do find there baby pictures nearly identical.

Dana’s personality is still starting to show, so it’s hard to say which one of her sisters she will take after there. So far she seems to be a mellow baby, like big sister Alexis. She’s perfectly content to hide out and nap in the ergo during weekend outings, and rarely cries. Although she can’t stand to hear anyone else cry (a phenomenon I don’t remember with either big sister).

I’m pretty amazed at how early sisterly love takes hold.

Alexis still hugs and kisses Dana every chance she gets, first thing in the morning, after breakfaste, before leaving for school… Even if it’s only been a few minutes since the last hug and kiss. Dana adores the attention, even when it nearly knocks her over. The other day at dinner she got so excited when Alexis walked past her on her way to the bathroom, waving her arms and doing the happy baby dance. Alexis turned to her and said “I go poo and pee, then I give you hug and kiss! Okay, baby?” It was pretty adorable. She tells me all the time that “I like Baby Dana.”

Nicole can often be found sitting next to a fussing Dana, singing or dangling toys to entertain her. She tells me she loves the baby, and the baby is so cute. I’m surprised baby cuteness would register to a not quite six year old, but it really has! She loves showing off Dana whenever the two of us pick her up from camp, referring to Dana as “her baby.” Not “her baby sister”, but “her baby.”

Watching their relationships develop with each other is my favorite part of being their mom.

So which child was which? Top left: Nicole, Top right: Dana, bottom left: Nicole, bottom right: Alexis.

June 10, 2018

Dana at Five Months

Dear Dana,

I have a confession to make. I still keep thinking of you as my itty bitty newborn. That’s partly because you are my last and I want to hold onto this baby stage forever and partly because, in a lot of ways you still have newborn traits.

Unlike you’re two big sisters who were on to the bigger bottles and drinking 6 ozes after only a couple of months, you still prefer a more modest 3 or 4 oz snack more often. Even overnight it’s rare you’ll take five oz at once as measured by pumping output afterwards. (I think that may be why you’re still waking up regularly once a night, that tummy just isn’t as full). Speaking of sleeping, you still have some newborn traits there as well. While you’ll occasionally nap for a few hours in the crib, you prefer frequent newborn cat naps on mommy. You’ll fall asleep nursing and wake up within a half an hour, refreshed and recharged. I rarely have a chance to put you down in the crib before your quick snooze is over.

You know how you’re not like a newborn? You insist on sitting. You get upset whenever we set you down on your back, either in your gym or on your blanket. You want to be vertical! I came down stairs once a few weeks ago to find you sitting next to daddy on the couch as he played with you, huge grin on your face. You looked so proud of you’re new found independence. We put you in the corner against the arm rest where there is at least some support, but you like to lean forward and do it on your own. It won’t be long now until you’re a completely independent sitter.

This month you started out the month officially a thumb sucker, just not when mommy has her camera. I can see this is becoming a game to you! The thumb sucking was short lived. Mommy picks up the camera, and the thumb comes out of your mouth with a huge grin. While you continue to suck it every once in a while, you’re using your hands more to explore your world lately.

We start solids next month and you seem R-E-A-D-Y. You have always been interested in what we’re eating. Day 1 at the hospital you would stop nursing and watch with interest when I crunches on some candy hearts. We were amazed at your ability to focus so early. To this day you stop what you’re doing and watch earnestly when someone near you is eating. You reach for nearby food, and making the tall tell chewing motions with your mouth. More importantly, you seem to need more than just milk to keep you satisfied. You may not be drinking much at each itteration, but you are requesting a meal more and more frequently.

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

June 5, 2018

Start of Summer

There was so much lead up to the start of the kindergarten – the start of school! – that is seems so surreal that it’s already over. Yet here we are. Summer break has officially begun.

This is the girls’ first summer apart. We enrolled Nicole in the summer camp program affiliated with the school’s after school program and I’m so excited for all the things she’s going to get to do! Each week the camp has a different theme and different set of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) activities to go with it. They have weekly field trips including amusement parks and going to the movies, and weekly in house events like magicians and bouncy castles. They even have a maker fair at the end of summer. Alexis is a little jealous, especially of the field trips. As am I!

Alexis will be eligible to join Nicole at the new summer camp next year, making the age cutoff by just one day. In the mean time her current preschool has a summer program of it’s own with themed weeks (also somewhat STEAM focused, though focused for her age group) and in house activities. They’ll also have a concert by a kids-oriented musical group, a puppet show, petting zoo and a visit from a reptile guy. Last year she loved holding one of the lizards. I think it was a skink?

We decided to keep Dana home a little longer. Initially I was planning on enrolling her in daycare in June or July, but I’m enjoying my time with my last itty bitty and making excuses why it’d be better for her to stay home. We’ll be enjoying our days filled with snuggles, songs and a bit of photography.

Of course we also have Nicole’s birthday in the middle of summer to look forward to, and all the associated festivities as well as family visits. Things are starting to look a better sleep wise too, and should that continues, we’re planning on a special road trip with the girls before the next school year starts.

Here’s to what will surely be an incredible summer!

“Baby only drinks Mommy and Daddy’s milk”

The girls have been fascinated (and quite frankly a little repealed by) the concept of nursing and pumping. One day Alexis asked me if I would drink the milk from her breast. I declined. She then asked if we could give her milk to baby Dana. When I told her no, she promptly decided that babies only drink Mommy and Daddy’s milk.

Alexis also likes to minic the pump, and run around saying “womp womp” while doing a little twist.

“Belly Button Poop”

Alexis and Nicole were both grossed out by the umbilical cord stump. Alexis determined that it was “belly button poop” and that belly button poop was a side effect of nursing. Once she reached this conclusion she determined that she did not want to drink milk from my breast, not now and not when she turns into a baby again. She made me promise.

“Too hard Mommy!”

I have mentioned before how Alexis knows to “soft the baby.” She takes it very seriously. Now she often asks to “soft the baby”, meaning to stroke the baby. She’ll ask to soft the baby’s feet while I’m holding her (since that’s what she can reach), soft the baby’s blanket or diaper. She knows it’s very important.

I have gotten scolded for being too hard when she observed me burping Dana.


And a bonus non baby related piece of wisdom:

“We need to know your number in case we are put in jail.”

We’ve been helping Nicole memorize her address and phone number. She decided the reason she needed to know it was in case she was ever in jail. I’m not sure what it says about my kids that they already know about their one phone call, but there you go.

May 12, 2018

Dana at Four Months

Dear Dana,

Shortly after you turned three months we moved you to the crib. I was reluctant, both sad you would no longer be beside me at night and worried we would disrupt your nighttime sleep, but we thought it might help with your napping and I wanted to get you used to the crib before the four month mark when most babies develop strong preferences about where and how they sleep. I’m happy to report you handled the change like a champ. You had an extra wake up the first night, but that was the extent of any descriptions, and you do seem to be napping better. I can usually get at least a half hour sleep cycle out of you in the crib, and lately it’s been even longer.

The other big change this month? You drink from a bottle now! You’ll drink between 3 and 4 ozes for Daddy. The trick was to switch nipples. I think you were frustrated with how much effort it took to get the milk came out of the bottle since you weren’t used to it yet. We tried a cheap freebie nipple that came with a package of ready made formula. Even though it was a “newborn” flow nipple the milk came out so fast you couldn’t help but gulp, and that triggered the sucking reflex. It was too fast for you, but once you realized the milk would come out of the bottle you were able to get the mechanics down. We switched you back to a nipple that was more your speed and you now you have no problem with the bottle. I’m happy to report you still prefer me.

This month you started really smiling. Really, really smiling. We could get smiles from you before, but they’re nothing compared to the ear to ear grin wide open mouth grins we now get from you now! And so easily! We could have called it a wrap at your monthly photo shoot with frame 1, it was seriously that good! No practice shots needed for you. I cannot wait to hear your first giggles. I have been giving you raspberries on your tummy and nibbling your neck, but so far you aren’t taking the bait. Maybe next month.

We got you to take the binky a few times this month, but not for very long. I mentioned it to your pediatrician who said at this point we’re unlikely to change you’re preferences. You may look so much like you’re sisters, but you’re determined to be wildly unique, aren’t you? You’re going to keep mommy on her toes, that’s for sure!

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

May 9, 2018

Bye Bye Productivity

The lack of sleep is starting to get to me. Most nights are usually split into two rounds of two to three hours each. As a result I feel myself being more and more sluggish as a slog through my todo list. I need to retool my approach, especially now that Dana is awake more during the day. More awake during the day means both fewer product hours on my phone while rocking her, and fewer productive hours while she’s napping in the crib. I try and reserve those few precious night time hours for what passes as sleep in this house.

I have a bit of a packing problem when it comes to tasks. During the day I have only pockets of free time, five or ten minutes here or there. In order to more easily find tasks that fit the time available I created a label for five, fifteen, and thirty minute tasks with a catchall “unknown” when it’s hard to estimate. I’m still trying to keep tasks short, but some just don’t fit the short mold. Now I have a “Quick and easy” filter for short tasks with either an approaching due date or no due date so I can knock out more. I can also find tasks that fit the blocks of free time I have.

As an aside, I now know I have approximately 28.6 hours worth of non reoccurring tasks on my plate, not including all the “unknown time” tasks or all the reoccurring cleaning, household and business management I need to be doing on a regular basis. No wonder I feel so perpetually behind.

For me, keeping things approachable is key to keeping up with the task list. That’s why I focus so much on short, micro tasks. The tasks list itself needs to be approachable too. I found if a project had 30 or more tasks, my eyes start to glaze over as I scan through the list, and some tasks fall off my radar. I have seven projects (personal, household, business, photography, etc) and created a variety of sub projects. I now have a “Datayze” sub-project under “Business” and a sub-sub-project for new features, as well as a sub-sub-project for bugs. Cleaning now has different sub projects for tasks specific to certain rooms (e.g. bathrooms). It may seem like organizational overkill, but it appears to be helping.

Secondly, not all tasks are created equal. Mess may stress me out, but cleaning is not a critical task. I can skip a round of dusting, or three. Clean bathrooms will not help my business grow, nor my kids grow. How important a task is depends partially on when it’s due, and what category it’s in. To help me find the critical tasks amount the less important, I made a filter based on project and due date. To help ensure my task list doesn’t remain gigantic forever, I made another filter for outstanding tasks that have been on my list for forever.

I suppose if I continue reduce my task list by choosing to do less. My blog has been really hurting lately. I used to write posts while rocking Dana, but now rocking time has become brain storming time for my business. Many posts sit half edited on my phone. I suppose of all the things I’m doing these days, journaling is the least important. I don’t have to go back and finish them. But I enjoy going back over old entries and reliving old memories (even the bad ones). It’s kind of like how I feel about Facebook. For now I’m going to try and keep up with it, even if that means back posting.

I know I can’t keep up this fevered pace forever. Nor would I want to. Things should start to get easier once we have more sleep in this house.

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