Archive for the ‘Newsletters’ Category

Kaelin: 5 Years

Filed under: Birthdays,Kaelin,Milestones,Newsletters — Amy @ 4:30 am

Dear Baby Girl,

You are no longer anything resembling a baby, but when I complain about that, you still reassure me that you will always be my little girl no matter how big you get.

Today, you are five years old.  FIVE.  I do not know how this happened.

I mean, I get how this:

Kaelin Baby

turned into this:

Kaelin Sailor Dress

But how this:

Kaelin Shoes

turned into this:

Kaelin Beachis a complete and total mystery to me.

(Insert the obligatory “WaaaaahMyBAAAAAYYYYYBEEEEEisGrowingUpTOOOOOFAAAAAST” mommyhood rantings)

You are active and friendly, setting up play dates with the kids at the library behind my back, and inviting the grocery store cashier to your birthday party (which, um, is going to be in Texas, so I hope you didn’t offer to pay her airfare).

Your main love at the moment is bugs and all things creepy-crawly.  In Texas, bugs are scary because of the huge variety of stinging, blood-sucking, biting ones.  But here?  You are thrilled beyond belief with the moths and other little winged creatures that make their way onto our porch and into our house.  Your teacher caught a butterfly for you and let you bring it home one day, and you would have thought he’d given you the moon.  We have to have daily conversations about how bugs aren’t pets and that you can’t bring them into the house, EVEN if they’re in a container.  I know that sounds cruel, but the container is inconsequential because of the fact that the bugs never stay IN IT.

You don’t know this yet, but you’re getting an earthworm farm for your birthday.  Because worms?  I can handle worms.  They’re still creepy-crawly and icky but they’re not bugs.  So when you’re talking to your therapist in a few years about how your mother restricted your childhood experience because I wouldn’t let you keep bugs, JUST REMEMBER THE WORMS.  I GAVE YOU THE WORMS.

(Please, please, please, please don’t let them loose in the house.)

You’re learning to read and write and do some math.  I have no doubt that you’re behind many of your Texas friends in these areas because your preschool seems to place little to no emphasis whatsoever on academics.  So the only academic environment you have is, well, me.  And the measly little homeschooling lessons we do at the kitchen table.  Which I will go ahead and apologize to you for because your Mama?  Was not meant to be a homeschool teacher.

You enjoy reading and your own progress as you begin to recognize and sound out more and more words.  You have begun to try sounding out words you see on cereal boxes and in magazines.  Also, you pick words and try to spell them in your head.  I often get random questions like, “Mama, what letter do you put in a word to make the ‘a’ say its name?”

Your writing needs some work because it bores you and I have to heavily reward you to keep you focused for 15 minutes a day.  Also, the concept of telling time is challenging and can be frustrating for us both.  You do enjoy math, because we use chocolate chips to demonstrate addition and subtraction. You’re pretty good at our little addition flash cards and can occasionally do the math in your head without the use of the chocolate chips.

You are becoming more and more independent and can play on the porch (catching bugs, of course) or in your room for long periods of time.  You have also developed the occasional ‘tude, which gets you sent to your room.

You are developing an interest in jokes, but don’t quite get the concept of a punchline.

“Why did the crayons color by themselves? Because they wanted to draw their owner!”

You have started a movement/dance class and are loving it.  I look forward to letting you try all kinds of extra-curricular activities this next year.  You have informed me that you wish to do ice skating and gymnastics when we move back to Texas.  Oddly, they don’t have any figure skating lessons available in this part of Alaska.

You have started thinking about the concept of marriage and are concerned about your lack of candidates.  You told me the other day that you couldn’t decide whether you wanted to be a boy or a girl (the concept of whether or not you actually get to MAKE that choice didn’t appear to be relevant).  It was good to be a girl because girls are better and more fun, but it would be a nice to be a boy because boys get to marry girls.  And it would be better to marry a girl than a boy because boys are mean and throw things.  And if you have to marry a boy, then you should be allowed to marry your Daddo.  Mama can just go marry someone else.

You are tenacious and think you can debate your way around any answer.  You are your father’s daughter.

You have a really selective memory.  You can remember a promise we made to you three months ago, but forget that I gave you a set of instructions within 15 seconds.  You are your mother’s daughter.

Little girl, you’re getting less and less “little” every day.  You’re tall and lean and love to run and jump and climb.  Your hair is getting long and we’re going to have to take care of that soon because you have inherited your mother’s tender head and brushing your hair in the morning is akin to ripping your fingernails off with a pair of pliers.

“Mama, which laugh did Tinkerbell come from?”
“I’m not sure, hon.  The movie doesn’t say and I don’t know very much about fairies.”
“Maybe she came from one of my laughs.  Because I laugh a LOT.”
“Yes you do.  Maybe she did.”
“I think you’re beautiful.”

You are precious.  And charming.  And sweet (when you want to be).  You have my heart.



Koren: 2 Years

Filed under: Koren,Milestones,Newsletters,Photos — Amy @ 11:09 pm

You love to run.  You chase your sister around the house and spin in circles until you fall over.  You go romping up and down hills and climb the stairs without even holding on to anything.

You’re fast.  Especially when making a beeline toward mischief.  I’ve banned you from our bathroom but somehow you find your way in there to wreak havoc at every opportunity.  You cannot resist the kitchen cabinets – which, unfortunately, are ALL at your eye level.

You get an immense amount of glee out of stealing things, usually your sister’s favorite toys.  This morning it was my granola, which you acquired by bringing the bathroom stool into the kitchen and climbing up to steal the box off the counter.  “I stole it! Mama’s gahnola!” you informed your father as you rushed into the living room, digging your little paws into the box.

Your vocabulary has improved by leaps and bounds in the last 4 months.  You have your own way of phrasing things that makes it seem like English is your second language and has earned you the nickname “Little Yoda.” Your most frequent phrases include, “I drop it, my boppy” or “I stole it, Kaelin’s kitty,” or “I no like it, the beach.”

When you can’t quite express something that you want us to see, rather than your old method of (heaven help me) screaming at the top of your shrill little lungs, you now take our hand and lead us to it, saying “Come, I show you.”

The screaming hasn’t completely disappeared.  You are very possessive of things, regardless of whether or not they’re actually yours, and frequently let loose a shrill shriek when you think Kaelin is encroaching on your property or not sharing her things to your satisfaction.  “MINE” is a word you have learned very well and you use it often.

You’re still a good eater and will try nearly anything, then inform us whether “I like it” or “I no like it.”  Your favorite food is bacon, and sometimes you get so happy about it that you break out into a dance.  You also really love blueberries.  You and your sister can down 2 cartons of blueberries in a single sitting.

You’re not a huge fan of the beach anymore.  Ever since you were surprised by a wake wave a couple of months ago, you have been very anxious at the beach and want to turn around as soon as you can hear the water.

You have gotten noticeably better about boats though, and don’t seem to be bothered by the noise anymore.

You’re a total ham.  You make silly faces and try your best to be a total goofball at every opportunity.  A couple of days ago I was changing your diaper and asked you why you were (insert silly goofball antic that I can’t remember).  You smiled at me and said “‘Cause I silly.”

Yes, son.  That you are.

You love school.  Perhaps it’s because you can be in the same class as Kaelin or maybe it’s because they have guinea pigs, but there was no adjustment period of prying you off my leg during drop-off.  You love going and every time I pick you up you are happily busying yourself around the room.

I had prepared to write about your miraculous transition into (FINALLY!) sleeping through the night just before your 2nd birthday.  We had 3 good nights in a row this week.

And then you were up about 6 times last night.  So never mind on that.

You have gotten very particular about how your blanket is placed at night.  You insist on having the dark side facing upward – if it isn’t you complain, “Turn over” until we comply.

You have a sweet nature and are empathetic when other people get hurt.  When Kaelin fell off the bed and cried the other day, you practically smothered her with attention and “What happen, Kae’n?  What happen, Kae’n?”  Sometimes you get in trouble for hitting or playing too rough, and when we scold you and tell you that what you did wasn’t nice, you immediately offer “Hugs nice, kisses nice” and give a sweet hug and kiss.

You thoroughly enjoyed your birthday today.  Since we couldn’t go to Seldovia this weekend due to Daddo’s recent injury (more on that later), your Ana came to see you and you have thoroughly enjoyed having her around.  After a low-key morning and a nap, we all went to the park where you swung, climbed, slid, and ran around until you could hardly stand up anymore.

Then we came home for some good grilled food, followed by cake and presents.  You were a little unsure about the cake at first but warmed up to it pretty quickly.  At least, you warmed up to the frosting.  I don’t think you ever actually had any of the cake itself.  You enjoyed opening all your gifts and took to the books immediately, persuading your Ana to read them to you until your bedtime.

I am hopeful that tonight will turn out to be a good night for sleep after your big day.  Goodness knows we could both use it.

Happy Birthday, my little man.  You find new ways to make me smile each day, and I look forward to the next year with you.


Koren: 19 Months

Filed under: Koren,Newsletters,Photos — Amy @ 5:36 pm

Dear Mischief Monkey,

You are 19 months old.  This was supposed to be your 18 month newsletter, but the time passed so quickly that I didn’t get around to writing it until now.  I guess that’s what you get for having your half-birthday in the month of December.

You have grown in so many ways over the last month.  You’re taller, heavier, and learning new things every day.

You have finally started talking and not a moment too soon.  You have a select repertoire of words that you use and it’s so nice to be able to communicate with you verbally.  The patches on my head where I have pulled out all my hair are finally getting the chance to fill in again.  Also keeping me sane is the fact that you now answer yes/no questions with head nods instead of blank stares and cries when I guess the wrong answer.

However, your favorite mode of conversation is still an incessant calling of someone’s name to get their attention without any sort of follow through.  Our car trips consist of this:

“Yes, Koren?”
“What is it, Koren?”
“What do you need, Koren?”
“I hear you, Koren.”
“What, Koren?”
(whispering) “…Mama.”

Besides Mama, your vocabulary includes words like Daddo, Ana, Papa, Kakee (Kaelin), baby, doggy, kitty, book, bippy (sippy), milk, cheese, cookie, up, down, out, please, juice, turkey, hi, hello, bye-bye, and ta-da!, though many of these are lacking a few consonants when you pronounce them.  You have also gotten fluent in a variety of animal sounds.  You never call animals by name (other than doggies and kitties) but rather by the sound they make.  A cow is a MOO and a sheep is a BAAA.

You’re working on learning the “k” sound and words like milk and book, which were formerly “mo” and “bah” now end in long, exaggerated guttural sounds.  It sounds like you’re trying to hock a loogie, but it’s cute somehow.

Like your sister, you have also invented your own word for pacifier.  Whereas Kaelin called it a “bup,” you prefer the term “boppy.”  You are quite attached to your boppy and I don’t foresee you being willing to give it up anytime soon.

You love eating, laughing, running, wrestling, jumping, cuddling after naps, animals, dancing, Dora, dolls, and all things pink.  I have a feeling that those last few are a result of having an older sister, but your father gets nervous each time you ignore the trucks in favor of pushing Baby Timmy around in the pink stroller.

You are completely enamored with your grandparents.  You walk around the house asking for Ana and Papa, and when you see Grandmommy or Grandpa, you almost hyperventilate if you can’t bear hug them RIGHT. THIS. SECOND.  But they don’t seem to mind.

We’ve had to start enforcing Time Out in your crib, because you are stubborn and mischievous and completely unresponsive to scolding or hand swats.  Your are NOT A FAN of the isolation routine, but it’s the only way we can keep you from pushing all the buttons on the DVD player.

Speaking of your mischief, which is never-ending… 

You love to steal things and run.  You are, unfortunately, very good at this.  You love to stick things in your ear.  I don’t get the appeal of this, but to each his own.  Except the part where you need to STOP THAT.  “Mama, Koren’s got the scissors and he’s sticking them in his ear!” is a phrase I’d prefer not to hear again.

You also love to elicit certain reactions out of people.  This morning I made the mistake of yelping and dodging a strawberry that you offered to wipe on my clothes.  Giggling, you then proceeded to chase me around the kitchen with the strawberry.  This afternoon I squealed in surprise when you put your arm (which was very COLD after having just been outside) down the front of my shirt.  You thought that was HILARIOUS and took upon yourself the mission to reproduce that reaction as often as possible.

You are a total ham.  This afternoon, you would call Mama or Daddo, just to get our attention so you could giggle your silly little tilted-head “I’m a ham” snicker-giggle – which is hard to explain in writing but maybe I can catch it on film sometime.

You love books.  Love them.  You often bring me a book and we read 1 or 2 pages, then you shut the book and say “Bye-bye!” and then jump down to grab another book.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  You especially love books that have sliders and flaps and doors and triggers, and you’re attention span for those types activities far exceeds my own.

You have been banned from the cribs at Mother’s Day Out because you jump in them instead of sleeping.  I have been informed that we need to purchase a nap mat for you. 

I did get you a trampoline with a handlebar for Christmas and it remains to date one of the best purchases I’ve ever made for you.  You love to jump to Laurie Berkner Band music videos and any other music that comes on TV.

You remain a superb hugger and a pretty affectionate little guy.  Sometimes I’ll just be standing there and you come over and wrap your arms around my legs for a few seconds before continuing on your way with your busy schedule.  I love those moments.

I also love the fact that you’re reliably napping for 2-hour stretches these days and if you haven’t gotten enough sleep when you wake up, I can leave you in your crib and you’ll GO BACK TO SLEEP.  This trait is a novelty to me, and it’s pretty awesome.

All in all, kid, you’re active, curious, energetic, and we’re both exhausted by the end of the day.  But this stage between 1 and 2 is one of the best and your Daddo and I are enjoying every day of discovering your personality and nature as you discover the world around you.

Sleep good kiddo.  We both need it.








Koren: 15 Months

Filed under: Koren,Newsletters,Photos,Videos — Amy @ 5:33 pm

Dear Little Mr.,

At 15 months, you are busy, adorable, impish, fun-loving, loud, curious, frustrating, insatiable, determined, affectionate, irresistible, messy, relentless, hungry, mischievous, and exhausting.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say you’re “talking” yet, you do have a few words in your vocabulary (in no particular order of importance to you): Mama, Dada, Doggy, Kitty, Thank You, Baby, Turkey and Bacon.

Speaking of bacon, you’ve found your latest love in life.  You will drop any and all activity or forsake any mission at the mere mention of “bacon.”

Obviously, you are your father’s son.

Short of bacon, there is pretty much nothing that can deter you once you’ve set your sights on something.  Distraction is a futile effort.  Scolding just makes you laugh and then it becomes a game to see how quickly you can disobey and then hold out your hand to me for a “swat,” open-mouthed grin in place.

You are a poo.

Especially since you have the most contagious laugh known to man.  You’re lucky that you’re so cute – it has saved your life on several occasions.

You are getting better at following directions.  Since you’re not really talking yet, it’s more difficult for me to know exactly how much of what I’m saying is actually connecting in your head.  But now you can get in or out of your car seat on command (minus the buckling, of course), as well as “go find” things like your sippy or paci.  You are also quite familiar with the directions, “Stop turning on the TV,” “Put the dog food back,” and “GET OUT OF THE DISHWASHER.”  But your favorite direction is when we ask you to give someone a hug.  You have always been an excellent hugger and it’s one of my favorite things about you.

Today I asked you why you were holding a piece of fuzz.  You looked at your hand with an expression that seemed to say, “Why AM I holding a piece of fuzz?” – and then you dropped it.

You are becoming very aware that certain things have certain places, and you like to put them there.  Sippy cups go in the dishwasher or the cup holder.  Dog food goes in the dog bowl, even if you’re the reason it’s currently on the floor.  Lincoln Logs go in the can.  Your baby monitor goes in its cradle on my night stand (after you have removed it and played with it for a while).

There are a few place associations we need to work on, however…  Remote controls go on the table, not in your mouth.  Your shoes go in the closet, not in the bath tub.  Tissues remain in the box on the table, not scattered around the floor.  My oven mitt goes in the kitchen, not in the dining room window.

You still love getting caught.  If no one witnessed your moves, you run gleefully into the room, holding the evidence of your heist over your head in victory.  You wait until you’re sure we’ve noticed your stealthy accomplishment, then run away to evade capture.

A few weeks ago, we watched Marry Poppins.  You fell in love with the scene of the chimney sweepers dancing on the roof tops, and started trying to mimic their moves.  You now “dance” to music or when you’re particularly happy about something.  Like Bacon.

You’re in the Mother’s Day Out program at church and even though I think you end up having fun throughout the day, you’ve started crying when I drop you off.  It makes me sad because you never did this last year, but I think it has more to do with your age than the circumstances.  I’m hopeful that once you get used to the routine and teachers that we’ll see less tears. 

You’re finally down to one nap per day, a schedule that is much easier to plan around.  While making this transition, there were a few weeks when you would sleep from 8pm to 6am, and then only nap for 1 hour and 15 minutes during the day.  This was obviously not enough sleep for you, because you would wake up grumpier than a pit bull with an ulcer. During this time, I thought I might just lose my mind.  Lately, however, you’ve been sleeping until almost 7am and if I fill your morning with activities, you’ll sleep about 2 hours in the afternoon.

Little Man, you’re tackling life with a degree of gusto that makes us all stand in awe of your energy.  Staying one step ahead of you is becoming increasingly challenging.  But I can’t help looking forward to my next drive-by hug.




Koren: 12 Months

Filed under: Koren,Milestones,Newsletters,Photos — Amy @ 6:05 pm

Dear Mr. Busy,

While there are a lot of things I could say to sum up the little man you have become during your first year, I think your Papa put it best during your recent visit to Seattle:  “Your son is perfect, and relentless, and hungry.”

It’s true.  You wake up in the morning happy and ready to destroy (after putting away a breakfast that could feed a team of construction workers, of course).  You are so BUSY.


You still have no interest in talking whatsoever and we have yet to get you to voice anything besides the ever-constant “Dada Dada” … but fortunately you have eased up on the nazgul shrieking somewhat.

You are now quite good at walking.  I think you had an epiphany this last week in which you realized that walking really IS faster than crawling, and you have refused to go back to crawling ever since.  You zoom around the house chasing Kaelin, or Kitty or anything you see out of the corner of your eye that might fit in your mouth.


Unfortunately, you also have a penchant for running away and/or finding things you should not be messing with.  My day is a continual cycle of retrieving you from the dog food, the toilets, the dishwasher, the stairs, and any open doorway that serves as an exit.  You are relentless and the number of times you have been thwarted never prevents you from trying again 2 seconds later.

When we went for your photo session, I put you down long enough to sign my name on the credit slip.  By the time I caught up with you, you were already out the door and down the hallway in the mall.  Today at church, I put you down and you immediately honed in on the exit doors, 100 feet away.  By the time I caught you, you were 10 feet from running outside.  Today at Grandmommy and Grandpa’s house, I must have pulled you off the stairs 50 times.


You are fearless, and succeed in giving me at least 3 heart attacks every day.  You have no qualms about jumping head-first off the bed, climbing up anything perilous, running toward an open oven, walking right off the edge of the pool, or any other maneuver that spells certain death.  If you live to see age 3, it will be a wonder.  If I live to see you turn 3, it will be a friggin’ miracle.

We’re trying an experiment, which you have taken to surprisingly well.  We’ve taken you off of dairy to see if it has any effect on your chronic cough and tear duct issues.  So far, we haven’t seen much improvement, but we’re giving it some more time.  Fortunately, you take goat milk in a bottle like a champ, and as long as we don’t eat string cheese in front of you, you seem to do fine without the dairy.  If the experiment isn’t effective, we have an appointment lined up in a couple of weeks for you to have your tear duct probed, which sounds horrific and I’m really not looking forward to it, particularly since I don’t think it will actually solve the problem if your tear duct is under-sized.

You’re a somewhat solemn kid, but you smile and giggle the most when doing something dangerous or naughty.  Your favorite game is when Dada throws you up in the air.  You smirk and run away when I catch you holding something you should not be getting into.  And chasing/wrestling with your sister sometimes brings on a total giggle fit.


Dear one, you are exhausting.  In a wonderful, fascinating and entertaining way. 

Just between you and me though, it’d be nice if JUST ONCE, I could unload the dishwasher without having to pull you out of it six times.


Koren: 11 Months

Filed under: Koren,Newsletters,Photos,Videos — Amy @ 6:00 pm

Could it be that I’m actually getting a newsletter out on the day my son turns a new month?  Surely not…something must be wrong.

Dear Koren,

It appears I’ve already run through the list of nicknames we have for you and have reached the end.  It took me 11 months, and with all those names, it’s a wonder that you actually know your real name.

You’ve reached a couple of major milestones this month, not the least of which is walking.  After months of “teasing” us, you are finally taking independent steps on your own.  You don’t have the process perfected yet, so crawling remains your primary mode of transportation, but you often intersperse your crawls with steps.  A surefire method of getting you to walk your best is to be without a camera to capture it with.  Nonetheless, I have managed to put a few glimpses on record of the progress you’ve made over the last few days…

As for other milestones, there’s THIS:

After months of trying unsuccessfully to get you to use a sippy cup, I finally realized what I was doing wrong:  Apparently, milk is not a sufficient motivator. 
A sippy cup filled with milk is only good for slamming down on your bananas to see how far the mush squirts across the room (bonus points if you hit Mama).  Or perhaps chewing on and then leaving your mouth open so the little milk that does come out drools down your bib and into your lap. 
Son, you know how to party.
A sippy filled with JUICE, on the other hand – especially watered down, 50%-less-sugar, tastes-like-it-was-left-out-for-a-few-days juice?  THAT is worth learning how to drink from.
Mama has much to learn.

I’m finally comfortable enough with your stability to let you take baths without me being in the bathtub with you, and you have a blast.  Part of me is a little afraid to introduce you to a swimming pool this summer because I can see it now: A GIANT BATHTUB WITHOUT A HARD BOTTOM-SCRATCHING METAL DRAIN PLUG?  BE GONE, WOMAN, I’VE GOT A DATE WITH PARADISE.

Your mouth is your pocket.  You carry everything around in it, and we are constantly entertained watching you crawl around on all fours with a blanket or large stuffed animal hanging out of your mouth and dragging under your body.

You have turned into a really good eater.  It takes an act of God to get Kaelin to eat enough food to sustain a fruit fly.  Yet we can set anything before you and you’re all, OOH FOOD, MY FAVORITE!  ..Though you’re a stuffer and sometimes forget the whole “chew and swallow” part of the eating process.  We have to ration out your meals to avoid having you burst into tears because you have plugged your mouth too full of food and don’t know what to do about it.

You have recently decided to make a habit out of refusing to sleep past 11am.  Apparently you didn’t get the memo that when babies go down to 1 nap per day, they’re SUPPOSED TO DROP THE MORNING NAP.  At 9:30am, you become one grumpy bunny and have to go down for a nap before you start blowing up nearby houses with the sheer force of your yelling.  And after sleeping for an hour to an hour and a half, you’re awake for the rest of the day.
Son, Mama no likey.  The AFTERNOON nap is the important one.  THAT’S the one that helps me keep my sanity.  Especially now that your sister is no longer napping.  And dude.  For someone who has yet to sleep through the night regularly, I think we could all use a little more sleep than you’re netting us right now.
I have tried to explain this to you, but your response is the non-verbal equivalent of “Let’s put a pin in it.”
But you’re still pretty cute, a fact that has saved your hide on a number of occasions, Mr. Nosleep Yellypants.  But it’s pretty hard to resist this face for long.

Koren: 10 Months

Filed under: Koren,Newsletters,Videos — Amy @ 3:37 pm

In case you ever wondered why I can never get a newsletter out on time…


Koren: 9 Months

Filed under: Koren,Milestones,Newsletters — Amy @ 4:45 am

NOTE: This entry posted a week ago, before I had finished writing it.  Oops.  So if you saw it and then it disappeared, that’s why.

Dear Butternut,

You may be wondering what happened to your 8 Months newsletter.  Well, son of mine, it got swallowed up in the vast and seemingly never ending black hole otherwise known as the Monster Mutant Ear Infections of Doom, which has more or less consumed us all over the last two months.

The desperate cycle of agony began when you got a double ear infection following a cold in January.  And it just never left.  Five rounds of different antibiotics later, the infection remained and you were scheduled to have tubes put in your ears.

The tubes procedure was remarkably quick and simple.  After the procedure, the doctor said we definitely made the right decision with the tubes, because apparently it was quite a mess in there.  You recovered within half an hour and even went to school without any problems that same day.  Your father and I spent the rest of the morning doing the “happy dance” because I do believe this is the start of a beautiful friendship.  I’m totally inviting your tubes to my next birthday party.

Immediately after the tubes went in, we had a series of bad nights in which you would inexplicably wake up in the wee hours of the morning and refuse to go back to sleep for two hours.  I still do not know the cause of these mysterious sleep interruptions, and I was on the verge of calling the ENT and demanding that they TAKE THE TUBES BACK because this new routine was NOT an acceptable alternative to ear infections…  And then the bad nights stopped and you returned to your previous sleep-through-the-night schedule, thank the Lord.

We can already tell you’re hearing better.  Your head snaps up at noises that otherwise would have elicited little response.  We’re hoping this will help improve your speech.

You’ve started, we think, attempting to say “Mama” and “Dada,” though “Mama” comes out as “Baba…babababababababa” and “Dada” is this odd guttural clicking sound.  We suspect the difference has to do with your inability to hear with all the fluid in your ears, so we’re hoping your pronunciation will become a little more accurate now.

You’re crawling now.  You don’t really prefer it as a method of transportation, but are willing to do it to reach something interesting, or get to someone who can carry you the rest of the way.  You’re pulling up on everything you can reach now, which makes me nervous because we have a lot of wooden tables, with sharp corners, and you are not the most cautious child.  Actually, you are downright fearless and would go diving over the edge of a chair or off a bed in an attempt to jump to another piece of furniture, if given half the chance.  I have a feeling that the first major lesson you will learn the hard way is that YOU ARE, IN FACT, NOT A FLYING SQUIRREL.  Sorry to be the one to break that to you.

You also have a knack for getting yourself hopelessly caught inside the coffee tables.

You are starting to let go once you have achieved maximum pull-up height and stand for a wobbly 5 seconds or so before either plopping down on your bum to try again, or crashing forward into whatever you were holding onto and wailing furiously.

One of your favorite activities, and one that consistently buys me at least 5-10 minutes of time, is sitting down with a diaper bag or bucket of toys, and pulling everything out of it.  You are a very hands-on kid and like to hold and examine and chew on everything you can possibly reach.  It consistently amazes me how someone with 10” arms can reach anything within a 3-foot radius.  Especially at restaurants, so CAN YOU PLEASE STOP IT WITH THE GRABBY-GRABBY MY SALAD IS NOT THAT INTERESTING HOW THE HECK DID YOU REACH THAT KNIFE LET GO OF THAT THIS MINUTE OR I’LL STRAP YOU TO THE TABLE LEG GIVE ME BACK MY STRAW.

You’re eating well now, though you continue to reject most vegetables.  Any object found on the floor goes straight into your mouth, yet turn your nose up at anything that resembles peas or squash.  Obviously I need to start rubbing my shoes in your food before offering it to you. 

You do, however, love fruit smoothies.  A piece of pureed fruit is fine, but if it has 2 or, even better, 3 DIFFERENT kinds of fruit mixed together, you will gobble down twice your normal meal portion.  Also, you’re really into those little dissolve-in-your-mouth rice snacks, to the extent that you will voluntarily sit STILL for longer than 30 seconds while stuffing them into your mouth.  These little rice snacks have saved the day a number of times, particularly in restaurants and on shopping trips.

As for sitting still otherwise, this is not a concept you’re familiar with.  Son, you NEVER stop moving.  You want to stand when you’re sitting, crawl when you’re standing, spin around when you’re crawling, and do cartwheels on the changing table as soon as I’ve stripped off your diaper.  Those little straps on the changing table?  You laugh and scoff at their futile attempts to restrain you.

You may notice that all the pictures from this newsletter come from a single photo “shoot,” despite the fact that there has been a 2-month gap in pictures.  Frankly, there is a direct inverse correlation between photo ops and the amount of sick going on around here, and the past two months have been a doozy.

One thing we are enjoying lately though, is your endless variety of expressions.  You often hear phrases like, “That’s a Jens expression” or “That’s a Papa face” or “Somebody looks like Mama” – it appears you have inherited a nice variety of expressive genes, which you put to good use on a regular basis. 

Koren: 7 Months

Filed under: Koren,Newsletters,Photos — Amy @ 11:43 am

Dear Squirmy Wormy,

You turned 7 months old a week ago.  I didn’t do a newsletter for your 6th month because honestly, it didn’t seem that you had changed all that much since the last newsletter.

That is not the case this time.

In the last month you have hit so many milestones, it’s hard to keep up with them all.

After months of ravenously chewing on everything in sight, you finally broke in your first teeth.  Your right bottom one came in first, with the left one following close behind.  That hasn’t stopped the drooling or the chewing, but you are no longer allowed to chew on fingers.  Your teeth?  They are very sharp. I think I still have indentions in my thumb.

You also had your first Christmas, and have enjoyed your new toys about as much as any 6-month-old can. 

You’re getting closer to sleeping through the night, an idea which I like to hold and pet and dream of, and which often has me maniacally giggling to myself as I walk through the house in a sleep-deprived stupor.  I even had a few nights of uninterrupted sleep and I started to get hopeful…

And then you got sick and it all went downhill.  Your first fever.  Your first croupy cough.  Your first ear infection.  I guess I should have told you that there are SOME milestones you are strongly encouraged to skip altogether.

The good news is that, unlike your sister, you will voluntarily take medicine without any qualms.  In fact, an added bonus was that when Kaelin predictably caught your fever, we even convinced her to take some Tylenol by telling her, “Koren likes it.”  That is the first time IN HER LIFE that she has taken medicine without being held down and force-fed.

You’re finally eating solid foods now.  Voluntarily.  Without the wailing and screaming as though I’m stuffing them in your ear.

Apparently the trick is to give you real, fresh food – instead of the kind that comes in jars.  My Magic Bullet mini-blender came just in time and we use it daily for whipping up a tasty little baby meal in a snap. 

You really like bananas.  The other day, you managed to eat an entire banana, followed by a full 7 oz bottle – for someone with a stomach the size of his fist, that seems to defy the laws of physics.  Applesauce, plums and pears are also quite popular.  Creamy mashed potatos are the BOMB. Cottage cheese is good in small quantities.  Sweet potatos are NOT ok.  The jury is stll out on yogurt and most other vegetables.

We’re trying to figure out whether you’ve yet outgrown your sensitivity to milk.  We’ve introduced dairy formula in small doses mixed into your soy formula, and we’ve given you small tastes of things like cottage cheese and yogurt.  There’s no immediate reaction and it’s always difficult to tell if a little fussiness 3 hours down the road is due to sleepiness, hunger or a reaction to something you ate.

You’re not crawling yet, a fact that really just pisses you off most of the time.  YOU REALLY WANT TO.  You frequently go from sitting to laying on your tummy in an attempt to reach something.  You can get up on all fours and maneuver around, but thusfar have only succeeded in moving BACKWARDS… away from the object you’re trying to reach.  This does not do wonders for your temper and you certainly let us know the extent of your displeasure.

You’re still fascinated by your sister, and she can bring a smile to your face faster than anyone else around.

Your favorite TV program is still Football, but you also like our History Chanel documentary dates.

Your happy little face is an instant high for anyone around.  You can woo any stranger with your smile, and your little round cheeks are positively edible.

Most of the time, you are a pretty happy little guy.  You’re very affectionate.  You love being kissed and poked and tickled (you’re very ticklish).  You’re also a super hugger.  Common mortals are powerless against the force of your monster hugs.

With each month and every milestone, you become more of a little boy and less of a baby.  And more fun.  2009 is going to be a very eventful year for you and we’re looking forward to every minute of it.

Especially the part where you sleep through the night.


Koren: 5 Months

Filed under: Koren,Newsletters — Amy @ 8:21 pm

Dear Mama,

Hey look!  I turned 5 months old yesterday!  Since you completely dropped the ball on getting my newsletter out, I’m taking upon myself to get the job done.


Kaelin: 3 Years

Filed under: Kaelin,Milestones,Newsletters — Amy @ 9:01 pm

Dear Button Pie,

Today you turn 3 years old.  And I must admit that the thought of trying to summarize all the changes you’ve made over the last year in a single newsletter is rather daunting.

You’re huge.  You’ve grown at least 3 feet in the last 6 months.  You’re tall and lanky and fast and coordinated and I can promise you didn’t get any of that from me.

You still talk 90 miles an hour.  All the time.  Your vocabulary has increased even more over the last year and we now hear you using colloquialisms and phrases common among adults.  Yesterday morning you were getting out of your bath and talking to me about I don’t even know what, but you ended the statement with, “So how d’ya like THAT, Mama?”

Despite your ability to understand concepts seemingly beyond your age, you are completely incapable of grasping the meaning of “Stop talking.”  They need to start making phones that include a “Mute” button for the nearest toddler, because having a phone conversation amid your never ending “urgent” questions can be very difficult. 

Efforts at communicating to you that you need to be quiet have proved futile.  Your response to “Kaelin, shhhhhhhh” is to ignore it.  Your response to “Kaelin, you have to be quiet right now” is to ask the same question louder.  Your response to, “KAELIN.  STOP TALKING” is to tell me how much you like to talk, and then explain to me why you need to talk.  This has become a problem over the past few months because, on occasion, your brother sleeps and when you prance into our room in the morning my only course of action is to jump out of bed, pick you up and carry your babbling self out of the room to keep from waking him up.

Speaking of your brother, you’re becoming a very good Big Sister.  You have Pacifier Duty in the double stroller, which consists of finding the paci he has just spit out and putting it back in his mouth when he’s fussy.  You like to coo at him and coax him into smiling with your “Haaaaaaaaapy Boyyyyyyyyyy” routine.  You look forward to helping me drop him off and pick him up from “school” on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  You love taking baths with him and think he’s hilarious when he kicks and splashes water on you.  You’re not such a fan when he grabs hold of your hair.

You’re really enjoying “school” this year.  You go Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00am to 2:00pm and you LOVE your teachers.  You truly look forward to going each time and don’t cry anymore when I drop you off, which was something we dealt with through most of last year.  You’re also making friends on your own, which I really love to see because for so long you were a little stand-offish to other kids.  But now as we walk through the hallways, you say, “Hey look!  It’s Riley with her dad!  Hi Riley!”  “Hi Kaelin!”  To hear those little exchanges just reminds me how much you’re growing up.  My little girl is very quickly morphing into a Big Girl.  I love it when you introduce me to your friends at school.  “Mama, this is Landry.  Say hi to Landry.”

Apparently you leave quite an impression at school.  All the staff members know your name and they call out their hellos to you when we pass through the doors.  You get high praise on your singing.  In every group of kids, it seems like there is always that one child who stands in the front row and shouts every word of every song at the top of their lungs.  Little One, you are that child.  And I love that about you.

You still love to learn, and that warms my heart.  You’ve known your ABC’s for what seems like eternity, but now you’re becoming interested in how to spell things.  You can read your name and a few other words like Mama and Red.  I often hear you spelling out random words you see and asking, “Mama, what does D-O-O-R spell?”  When I tell you, you then try to relate it to words you know so you can fully grasp the meaning.  And then you very quickly memorize the answer, which I hear repeated back to me every time you see the word thereafter.  “D-O-O-R spells DOOR, like when you open the door or you let Hastings out the door, but NOT like Dora because that’s different.  O-N spells ON like when you turn the TV on or when you sit on something but not like Aunt Iris because that’s AUNT not ON.”

Over the past few weeks, you have certainly turned 3.  You’re testing us daily and showing a lot of attitude that wasn’t part of your repertoire before.  Some of your more memorable gems include, “No, YOU pick it up,” “You don’t get to tell me what to do,” “I can play on the computer if I WANT TO,” and the ever-popular, “NO!” followed by the Total System Meltdown.  Your dad and I have found it very challenging and we constantly debate about whether it’s more effective to ignore your tantrums or tackle them head-on. 

There was a time recently when you were having a melt-down daily and spending a lot of time screaming in your room.  We tried Time Out, incentives, earning/losing privileges, spanking, but ultimately I think it was just something you had to get out of your system.  Over the past week or so, it’s been getting better.  We’re at least going a few days between meltdowns, which is good because being in constant “Enforcer” mode can really put a damper on parenting.  On the bright side, after a screaming fit in solitary confinement, you quickly return to your normal bubbly, sweet self. 

I’m hearing from other parents that we’re not the only ones going through this change in attitude, which is some comfort, because when it starts happening your first thought is to begin questioning your parental skills, followed quickly by, “Please God, don’t put us through an entire year of this WE WON’T LAST.”

But over the past few days, you’ve been making unprompted comments that make it evident that you’re really trying to be good.  Things like, “And TODAY, I’m not EVEN going to throw a FIT!”  “I’m going to mind you every time!”  and “We always say ‘Yes ma’am’ and ‘Yes sir!’”  And the fact that you’re making a conscious effort at improving your behavior makes me so proud of you.  It makes me realize how grown up you are.

Munchkin Pie, I’ve always been so very proud of you and I try to tell you that daily.  I know that I have my shortcomings as a parent and I’m still trying to figure out the secret to balancing myself between 2 kids.  But you’re remarkably adaptable and I can’t wait to see what you’ll conquer over the next year.


Koren: 4 Months

Filed under: Koren,Milestones,Newsletters — Amy @ 10:10 pm

Dear Smiley Joe,

We’ve seen more changes in the past month – it still amazes me how much you can grown and change in such a short period of time.  Even your teachers at “school” tell me each week that they can see changes in you.

You love school.  They have “music time” and “buggy time” and with a teacher:student ratio of 1:1, you get spoiled for all of the 10 hours per week that you’re there.  Each time I pick you up or drop you off, I run into some staff member who tells me what a happy kid you are.  I get notes from your teachers on how much they love interacting with you and making you smile.  This last Thursday, we brought home a picture of you holding hands with one of the other babies in the buggy.  It said, “We make friends at [school name].”

Despite the fact that you’re pretty easy to coax into smiles (and sometimes giggles), it is surprisingly difficult to catch these expressions on film.  For some reason you don’t think I’m nearly as funny when I have a camera in front of my face.

You are rolling over now, though not regularly.  You seem to have more difficulty with it at night, and consequently we’ve entered the dreaded FOUR MONTH SLEEP REGRESSION.  You often spend a good portion of the night squirming and twisting around, while I spend a good portion of the night alternating between repositioning you and beating my head against the wall.

You do spend the entire night in the mini-crib now though, because the motion glider is too restrictive for all your thrashing about.  Also, you are becoming much less dependent upon the swaddle in order to sleep.  I was beginning to think that day would never come.  Now the only time I have to swaddle you is when you can’t seem to calm yourself down enough to sleep in the middle of the night.

You have also started wanting to stay awake when you wake up for a bottle around 5:00am.  THIS IS NOT OK.  Although, it might be negotiable based on prior nightly performance (reference this post).

You adore your sister.  When you hear or see her, you follow her around with your eyes.  She can get a smile out of you better than anyone else and you have been known to cry when she walks out the door.

You’ve also really started to enjoy bath time.  I think you are going to be quite the swimmer.  Every time we give you a bath, we are guaranteed a nap immediately afterward, because you just kick and splash yourself into exhaustion.  Tonight you dad bathed you and after half an hour of solid flailing, you were basically asleep by the time you had your jammies on.

You’re finally getting some hair on top!  This makes me happy, and it helps ease some of my guilt that every time I combed your head to treat your cradle cap, your hair would fall out.

Speaking of hair, please stop yanking on mine.  It hurts and you have a ridiculously strong grip.  Kaelin thinks it’s absolutely hilarious to watch, but I have a feeling she’ll change her mind the first time you try it on her.

You are all boy.  You love watching football in the media room with dad, which I know makes him really proud.  Your favorite TV shows are Football, CNN news and the Video Professor Commercials.  I know that last one isn’t an actual show, but you get a real kick out of that guy and start smiling every time he comes on TV.

You talk.  A LOT.  You babble and bubble and moan and gripe and gaga and squeal.  You talk to us, to your fish mobile, to the TV, and to anyone or anything else that will listen.  If you have a complaint, you have no qualms about telling us ALL ABOUT IT.  When you start using words and can converse with your sister, our house is going to be one nonstop stream of chatter.  I’m not going to get a word in edgewise.

You’re turning into such a fun kid and we’re really enjoying seeing your personality bloom a little more each day.  There are countless times that you do something and your father and I turn to each other and ask, “Could he be any cuter?”

And the answer is no.  You couldn’t.  Although if you want to try, there’s still this.  I’m just saying.


PS: Mom, you’re now going to have to retract your statement that I don’t have many pictures of Koren on the website.

About Me

Hi. I'm Amy. I started this website in 2005 as a place to deposit my journal and photos. It has gone through a few incarnations and masquerades as a family site, but since I'm the only one who contributes to it, it's really all about ME, ME, ME.

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