Thursday, June 12, 2014

Julian's Blueprint: 12 months

We are thick in the middle of party season over here, and this little man turning ONE is baby of the hour. The first birthday is in so many ways a milestone for the whole family, baby and parents and siblings alike. There are parts of this past year that are a total blurrrrr. But we made it and this happy face and perfect heart could never be replaced. At 12 months Julian has 8 teeth and is eating most foods. Even if he can't quite chew it up yet, he gets upset if I don't at least give him a try of whatever big sister Bee is eating. He's a petite little guy and I'm working overtime to keep his weight up. I'm thinking we might have some success with leftover birthday cake.
Julian is cruising around furniture and walls and loves to be upright. He will walk from room to room while holding our hands and always beams so bright when given the chance to walk side by side with Phoebes. She can simultaneously be his biggest cheerleader and his greatest threat. This little boy loves to be outside, always has, and will put up a big dramatic fuss when I bring him in. Pushing his lawnmower around the grass, big thrills on the mini roller coaster, and underdogs on the tree swing are daily afternoon requirements. Julian is attracted to anything with a wheel on it and even though he can't walk yet he will sit and wrestle with Bee's balance bike on the grass for what seems like forever. Whether it's dad's bike or Phoebe's scooter or mom's car or the loud lawnmower, he thinks is awesome if it can move. Julian is our water boy! He loves the water and uses any opportunity he can to splash mom. Washing his hands at the sink can turn into a shower for the whole kitchen if I'm not careful. Sometimes he is so excited to get into the tub he will try to throw himself in fully clothed. Hopefully we can get him some pool time this summer.
Julian is not a big fan of the vacuum, something he learned from Phoebe, even though to my knowledge it has never turned on and eaten them up all on its own. He also hates having his face wiped and being buckled into his car seat. But other than that, I can count on him to go with the flow of a weird day, be super chill when sister steals the show, and extra forgiving when we push his nap time. Julian has the most sensitive soul. When I'm upset at Phoebe or need to be firm with him about chewing on chords he will tear up and reach for me to snuggle. He is always hugging his animals sweetly and blowing kisses to strangers. He likes to hook his arm around my neck and my favorite is when he holds my face with both hands and kisses me. What a love. What a year! What a boy. What a lucky family we are to have him as our own.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bee in the Wild: 2 years

Two years running, this girl has my whole heart. Phoebe is thoughtful and cautious and yet utterly defiant and independent at times. She is genuinely trying to make sense of the world around her and I feel great pangs of guilt everyday that I am not exposing her to little gym and kinder music outings like her peers are (who perhaps don't have baby brothers holding them hostage). Phoebe loves hiking and riding along in the pack-pack on daddy's back. She can spot a dandelion puff from a mile way. Our afternoon walks are perfect opportunities to collect rocks and sticks and even chewed gum (before mommy noticed). She loves to crawl into her little brother's crib and their two giggles in the morning are the very best thing to wake up to in the whole world. When it's raining, she knows that it's time for rain boots and can put them on all by herself. When the weather is stormy she is cautious and keeps close to my legs in the event of booming thunder. One day while I was reading and rocking her down for a nap she was particularly uneasy about the ongoing thunder storm. I did my best to reassure her that all was well and that the sound of thunder was simply the clouds bumping into each other in the sky. She looked up at me with big concerned eyes, almost on the brink of tears, and asked "birdies?" I realized her kind little heart was worried about what was happening to the birds during the storm.
A morning outing to the zoo is sure to be the highlight of her day and by now she knows her way around and doesn't need mom. Julian and I have to be quick if we want to keep up with those long legs. The elephants, otters, and seals are the must stops. However, her favorite part is riding the carousel at the end. Such a treat! I love to see her eyes widen and she takes it all in.
She was terrorized by a bee one day while sitting on the back steps. It didn't sting her, all I can tell is that it was flying by her and she had a sheer panic attack and screamed like I've never heard her before. She screamed the same way for about 2.5 hours of her naptime. I couldn't really understand why she was so scared, only that she kept saying "bumble bee fly away" about 100 times through hard sobs. She lost it a couple more times during the day because there was a fly in the house. Blood curling screams and huge tears. We were both beside ourselves. These are the moments that I will look back on when she's 16 and long for. But that day was really hard.
Phoebe is cautious around strangers and can be slow to warm up even to grandparents. But in our home she is a lively chatter-box with the most exuberant little personality. She does a good job mothering Julian and sometimes needs reminding about who is actually the mom. Phoebe makes us smile and laugh everyday. She holds us accountable for family prayers and is loving the nursery at church. Every day she is a reminder of miracles in our lives. We love her so much. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

A bum way to start the summer

Miss Phoebes fell off a kitchen chair and broke her right clavicle this week. I was only 3 feet from her but had my back turned to the stove so I don't know exactly what happened. Only that when I rushed to pick her up she was so inconsolable I instinctively knew something was definitely wrong. We snuggled on the couch for a bit, but every time she would move her arm she would burst into tears. She was incredibly brave at the Instacare, but having to pin her down for the X-ray nearly sent us both through the roof in pain. They obviously can't cast a broken collarbone so we are trying a sling to help keep her arm still. But she's two afterall. And rather wiggly. She will seem ok and forget about it for a moment, then try to reach for something or move her body and immediately feel the break all over again and burst into tears. This happens about once a minute. She will have to learn how to protect the break on her own. To help her sleep at night we wrap the arm close to her body. These kids are resilient and I'm certain she'll be back to her old self within a few weeks. I'm not sure we could have survived the day without chap stick. She LOVES chap stick and it seemed to be the only thing that could take her mind off the break. Pain management is tricky and she's frustrated about the loss of independence. Totally bum way to start the summer.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Julian's Blueprint: 11 months

Our little buddy is 11 months old today. Julian is all heart, all the time. Such great passion stuffed in that little body. Kisses, loves, hugs, pats, and smiles all day long. If he's sad while driving in the car, dad will reach back and offer a hand to hold. It works every time and quiets him down as he holds a friendly finger. When he gets hurt Julian heads straight for momma in need of a love and kiss before venturing bravely back into the wild. I can't lie, it feels amazing to be that special someone for him that can make those little bonks all better. Julian is nursing every morning and night and we both love the snuggle time. He likes to rub my neck and face while eating and is always finding a place to fish his hands. Julian has finally mastered the hand-and-foot crawl and is super fast and super stoked on this advancement in getting around.
He is starting to flex his muscle with Phoebe which means he will scream if she takes his toy or doesn't share her toy. The two of them have their spats throughout the day, but it's pretty obvious the admiration they have for one another. Julian could watch her all day, just studying her every move, amazed at all the cool and seemingly hilarious things she can do and the ways she can push moms buttons. They are totally bored without each other when the other one is napping. He loves music but even without it he bounces constantly and especially while perched on moms hip.
He is the messiest eater and I absolutely dread mealtime because of the giant mess it involves. Sometimes I take their highchairs to the backyard and let the birds deal with it. I don't know if food actually makes it in his mouth because it seems that I mop most of it out of his hair or off the floor. He loves bananas and eats a whole one by himself each morning. If I don't give him the banana first he bounces in his chair until I hand it over. He is gradually becoming a better and more consistent eater and sometimes surprises us by shoving fist fulls of veggies in those cheeks.
But, oh, is he handsome. I'm telling you, those eyes...good night moon. And he has this sneaky smile when he tilts his head to the side when caught doing something like, "but mom, I love to chew on electrical chords so can't you just let this one slide?" It makes us chuckle, but in a "good thing you are so cute" sort of way. His trouble spots around the house always have to do with chords of any kind. The baby proofing never ends.
Julian. Juju. Jubbers. Jubber Bubbers. The nick-names never stop for him and he answers to all of them, especially "Juge" or "Jubs" from Phoebe who shortens them all on her own. I find myself feeling constantly grateful for him being such a content and happy baby. We've come a long way from those newborn days. Our little Jules is such a joy, such a pill, such a love. And frankly, we wouldn't want him any other way.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Julian's Blueprint: 10 months

Wow. So much can change in just a month and this last month Julian has learned many new tricks and is suddenly such a big boy. First, Julian started sleeping through the night which has been a total game changer for the whole household, especially mom. And in basically the same week he decided that eating solid foods was a w e s o m e and now, selectively, eats what I put in front of him. He won't eat anything from a spoon, except maybe yogurt, but is eager to feed himself with his own hands. He also takes hand-outs from Bee from the next high-chair over. He loves bananas, but those little suckers can be so tricky to pick up!
We like to have dance parties over here at least once a day, and Julian has picked up on some pretty sweet moves. The "bobble head" move that he loves has now been upgraded to the "dancing bobble head" and every time music comes on he starts bobbling that head back and forth and bouncing his whole body. It's unbelievably adorable. Julian also starting waving hello and bye-bye and greets Daddy with an enthusiastic double-handed wave every night. He and Bee will sit in their high-chairs and wave to each other like long lost friends reunited at last. Julian loves to mimic pretty much anything Bee does and has learned to clap and blow kisses from her expert example. I love seeing him blow kisses to family and friends. I also love it when he pulls my face into his slobbery mouth for a big wet kiss. He won't always want to kiss his mom like this, so I savor each and every one.
Julian is still master of the "worm crawl" and even though he can crawl on hand and knees, he seems to prefer this other method. Indeed, he is pretty fast so I know it's not holding him back. He has started pulling himself to a stand on all furniture and is loving the new world he can explore while on his feet. He is starting to venture out from mom's shadow to explore on his own. Julian loves to just play! He will hunker down in front of the toy baskets and pull out each toy one by one. On a lucky day this will keep him occupied for enough time for mom to put Bee down for a nap. He loves to play downstairs in the playroom and busies himself with everything within reach.
Our little bug loves to snuggle and is beginning to love reading books (not just eating them) which makes bedtime really sweet. Julian loves his binky and has really taken to his soft giraffe to snuggle at night. His favorite toys are remote controls, kitchen tools, and whatever Phoebe is holding at the moment. His  hair is getting long, but mom can't bring herself to cut it just yet. Julian is taking two naps each day, unless we need to leave the house for an outing to the zoo or the grocery store, in which case he's pretty good to hold off. His easy-going roll-with-the-punches personality is such a blessing. But when we've reached his limit, he'll let momma know. This is such a fun stage and we are eating up his baby cuteness and blooming personality knowing full well that if we blink he'll soon be walking. And running. And climbing. Oh my. Julian, you make everything in this world better! We love you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Julian's Blueprint: 9 months

This little big guy is 9 months already and the life of our party at home. We love him so much. When he's excited he kicks his legs straight out in unison over and over like he's swimming and trying to keep afloat. He has found the volume button on his voice and will squawk reeeeeally loudly until he captures our full attention. He will usually calm right down if you offer a hand for holding or give him a big smile that lets him know you are right there. He's a bouncy guy, always jumping and bouncing in his high chair or anywhere, always moving those arms and legs. His bobble head is always bobbing back and forth. Speaking of moving, Julian is now doing a sort of a worm push-up crawl to launch himself forward and around. He's surprisingly fast, too! He has started investigating every nook and cranny of the house and can follow us from room to room to stay involved where the action is happening.
Julian loves to snuggle and can easily melt hearts by putting his head on your shoulder. When he wants to be held he will crawl to your feet and nuzzle his head into your shins or pat your feet with his hands. And when you finally pick him up he will give you nice pats on the back, as if to say "thanks dad!" or "you're doing a great job, mom!" I love receiving those little love pats every time I pick him up. He has such a sweet, soft and gentle side, this boy.
Julian loves his binky and can put it in his mouth all on his own now. This small and simple act saves mom and dad a lot of trips in to the nursery during the night. For bedtime, Mom nurses him to sleep while big sister and dad read books quietly in the other room. But sometimes he's not so sleepy and he and Bee giggle and chat themselves to sleep. Julian has almost slept through the night once or twice and mom is crossing her fingers that this becomes the new nightly norm.
This baby boy is certainly beautiful! His big blue eyes always attract comments when we are out in public and that full head of hair brings him a lot of attention too. I don't know if I'll ever be able to cut it ;). Julian would rather do pretty much anything other than be dressed. Getting clothes on this kid is like wrestling a piglet these days and he lets us know that he is not at all pleased with the situation. Gone are the days when he would lay still and play with an object while we change his diaper.
Julian has 4 teeth to date. However, he's still not a hug fan of eating solid foods. We are seeing some slight progress, but so far it's only a fluke when I get him to open up for a spoon. He does much better with tiny bits of whatever we are eating that he can feed himself. Julian is interested in balls and anything that moves, and music and rhythm. He loves peek-a-boo, splashing in the tub, swinging in the backyard, and being tickled by big sister on stroller rides. Julian is full of passion and puts his heart into everything he does. We couldn't be more proud to have him as our own.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bee in the Wild: 21 Months

Oh where to start! Our little Bee is such a character at 21 months. She has an adventurous and social spirit, in the right circumstances, and is always up for getting out of the house wherever that may be. Often she will gather up her boots and head to the front door saying "boots, kids?" Clearly she is letting me know that she needs a play-date and some new experiences outside of what Julian and I can provide. We've been going to a neighborhood music group, story time at the library, or play-dates with friends when possible. All of which she loves. Surprisingly (or not-surprisingly) she's been a little hot and cold with the nursery at Church.
Being outside is a huge deal for this girl and this winter has been particularly challenging to keep her occupied and entertained on days when it's just too cold to be outside. For Christmas she received a little roller coaster from Grandpa Lee and it's been an absolute life saver. She loves to ride it over and over, send her dollies down, and has even mastered going down backwards and hands-free on her own. It's been good practice for learning how to take turns when friends are over. When the weather is permitting we make sure to squeeze in a walk around the neighborhood or stroller ride to the park to work out those winter wiggles. 
Phoebe has taken on the role of little BIG helper and wants to be involved in whatever mom is doing around the house. Whether it's changing laundry or loading dishes or writing thank you notes, Bee wants her hands involved in every step of the process. We've been hearing a lot of "Phoebe do it" and "Phoebe try" and "Phoebe's turn" around these parts. She especially loves helping daddy "fix it" and he can always count on her to hold his tools while on the job.
Our little book worm loves to read books and plays with her books as much as she plays with any other toy, if not more. While I'm putting Julian down for his morning nap Phoebe will gather her favorite books on the couch to read, and much to my great surprise and delight, she usually does stay on the couch and read quietly through her books. Phoebe's favorite books right now are anything to do with Grandpa or birthday's, the Landy series, and the Knuffle Bunny's. The cutest thing...she says "amen" at the end of every book. Of course I never correct her, because I never ever ever want her to stop.
Meal time can sometimes be tricky and lots of food ends up on the floor, which drives mom absolutely bonkers. Currently her favorite foods are hummus, applesauce, peas, pizza and string cheese. Her favorite snacks are dried mango's, Cheerios, and fishy crackers. She is really into dipping foods right now and asks for some "dippy" at every meal. We often have graham crackers and milk after dinner and she loves to dip her own crackers. She will gingerly plunge her cracker into the milk at just the right angle and then squint her eyes and say "no nuff" until eventually mom or dad says "that's enough!" and time to pull the cracker out before it becomes too soggy. No matter what it is, she wants a bite of whatever you're eating, especially if it's a treat.
Birthday's have really made an impression on Bee lately and we sing her own special rendition of Happy Birthday Cake to practically everyone in our family - and even Santa and Jesus - several times each day. Between uncle Dan's birthday, mom's birthday, and plenty of references to birthday's, cakes, and singing from her books, it's no wonder she's obsessed. She understands that life is a party!
Mom loves having someone to chat with during the days now, and Phoebe is proving to be a great conversationalist. She is stringing together sentences and making connections between objects and circumstances. Her memory is razor sharp. Phoebe can't yet pronounce her "L" sounds and substitutes a "ya" sound instead. Words such as "dolly" then sound like "dai-ya" or Ellie sounds like "Ai-ya." But by far our favorite word she has invented is "chip-ix" for "chap stick." She's quite obsessed with daddy's chip-ix and is always hunting his pockets for it.
Phoebe is smart and sensitive, a real thinker and often silly. She loves her brother Julian and although she does have her big sister moments of pushing him over or stealing toys away, she can't stand not to be near him. If little bro is still napping when she wakes up from her afternoon nap, she will stand at the stairs and call down "Juju, wake up!" She loves to love him and is constantly reaffirming her love with plenty of snuggles. Phoebe is a doer and wants to be challenged. She is eagerly learning her colors and shapes and counting. We are amazed daily and are soaking her up, tantrums and all. We simply can't imagine life without her.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One year older, and wiser too!

I had a wonderful, perfect birthday this year and was serenaded by Phoebe's "happy birthday cake" songs and received lots of slobbery kisses from my Jules. BD even arranged for Michelle and Ryan to watch the kids while we had a nice dinner out. Friends dropped off treats and flowers and I had a few fun cards in the mail. I talked to my family both near and far. By some stroke of luck I scored gift certificates to pamper myself head to toe. I'm a tad more wrinkly, have a few more gray hairs, stretch marks in all the right spots, and up a few sizes, but my arms are FULL of love. Happy Birthday to MWAH, through the rest of the month because I don't believe in limiting birthday's to just one day :).

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love is in the air: Happy Valentine's Day

A few of our favorites from the Valentine's mini shoot with Jessie O'Neil Photography. Obviously couldn't choose just one! These two stinkers would absolutely NOT smile for the camera, but what can you really expect from babies? I will love these pictures forever and ever. Thx Jess!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Julian's Blueprint: 8 months

This handsome guy is now 8 months old, and forever charming. He will smile at anyone, anytime. Teething continues to rock his world, day and night. His first top tooth is so very very close to breaking through, we can see the white ridges. Along with teething comes drool, buckets and buckets of drool, which make his big kisses all the better. It's hard to turn down a wet kiss from this handsome face, even if it leaves you hankering for a towel afterwards. He is getting super strong and you can tell he's thinking about how to move those limbs around in just the right order. He's pretty good at pushing himself backwards until he is trapped under the couch or crib or up against a wall. Any minute now he will figure out how to propel that body forward and then off to college. Eek! Slow down, littleman.
Julian had his first ear infection this month which was heartbreaking for us all. Mom could tell he wasn't feeling himself on Sunday morning and by Sunday evening we were pretty sure something was terribly wrong. Sure enough, double raging ear infections. It was so sad, but the antibiotics kicked in and within a couple days and he was back to his happy self. We are crossing our fingers that he doesn't have any more colds this season that would invite other ear-aches.
My guy is super ticklish, all over his little chubby body. It's the best to run your fingers up his sides and watch him explode into a burst of giggles. The bottoms of his feet are especially ticklish as well. Imagine the torture we can inflict when he's sitting in his highchair! Phoebe likes to share in the fun and will say "Phoebe's turn!" when she wants to be tickled and then "Juju's turn" when she's had enough. No wonder mealtime is such a giant mess with all the nonsense going on. Julian has started self-feeding with rice puffs and mum-mum crackers. But still doesn't want much to do with pureed foods on a spoon. We have to trick him into taking bites when he opens his mouth to laugh at Bee.
Julian is developing his own signature mannerisms, like rubbing the back of his hand across his forehead when he's tired, or crossing his feet and hands when he's relaxed. He loves to watch the dynamics of the family all together, and we can tell he is taking notes on who does what and when.
We mostly call him Juju, taking Bee's lead on the nickname front. She has been saying Juju since the day we brought him home from the hospital and it's the nickname that sticks the most. It's a happy nickname and fits his personality well. But we also call him Jub Jub Bird (stolen from the poem The Jabberwocky) and that has morphed into Jubbers, which perhaps is a combination of "chubby" and "jub jub?" Who knows. Mr. Guy, Big Guy, 'Lil Bro, and Brother Bear also make their rounds, but no matter what we call him we are especially glad we get to keep this little love around.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Julian's Blueprint: 7 months

Mr. Juju has marked some big milestones during this past month. One being that he cut his first two teeth on the bottom back to back. Oh, it was painful for him, we could tell as it would keep him awake at night and where he needed to be held and comforted much of the day. Poor kid! To top it off we've had plenty of winter sickness, colds, coughs, and stuffy noses this season. It seems we've just passed around the same bugs one to one another and Julian has had his fair share. In between teething and being sick Julian has decided that eating solids foods is just not for him. He refuses pretty much anything delivered on a spoon. All we can do is be patient and let him work into eating at his own pace. But mom is grateful for his continued interest in breastfeeding, too.
Our favorite Juju move is the "bobble head" where he shakes his head back and forth JUST like a bobble head figurine. It's a crack up and a clear sign that he's in a playful mood. This kid loves to bounce. In his highchair, on your lap, even while nursing he's often bouncing in my arms. He loves his bouncy chair and most often it can buy mom a 10 minute break while putting big sister down for a nap. Julian spends much of his time on the floor doing push-ups and planking. He will push-up with all the gusto within him and hold his plank for as long as he can, then relax back down onto his belly and swim with his arms and kick with his feet until he regains his strength for the next round. He pumps his fists up and down with his arms straight out from his body, and dad says its like he's driving a motorcycle. Gosh, he is so much fun. 
Julian has started lunging in for big slobbery open mouth kisses. There is nothing better in this world! He has an infectious smile, the softest skin, and a gorgeous head of hair that makes the most adorable messy bedhead in the morning. He beams when somebody picks him up and will wrap his hands around your neck tightly (be careful... he will get your hair too). We are lucky to have this bright-eyed beautiful baby boy in our family. He completes us (for now :).

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve 2013
I simply can't let this year slip away without reflection, honest and brief. A whirlwind, really. All the events that have filled these 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days that have tried and tested us and brought tears and joy are not without gratitude. Gratitude for the chance to be present in this life and to have each other to hold onto. We are humbled by our mistakes and proud of our successes and move into this next year eager to become better, and best. My tribe, they are everything. I am anchored here. Peace and love to you and yours and kisses from us on this New Year's Eve. Let the record show that I kept my eyes open until midnight and kissed and toasted my love as the babes' slumbered in their nursery.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Papa Ed's Christmas House

Papa Ed became the #1 celebrity around our house during the Holidays. Papa goes ALL OUT for Christmas and the Snow Village is only the tip of the iceberg. If Papa's name came up, Bee would grab her boots and head for the door because she wanted to get to Papa's house to play. Tom and Todd spent Christmas at mom's this year and that was another big draw, so we spent lots of days at Grandma Ginny's and Papa Ed's house. Everything from the twirling Christmas tree, the Snow Village, the snowing Christmas tree, the choo-choo trains, the movie theater and even the stuffed singing frogs were enough to blow this little girl's mind open. When we would return home I got the feeling that she was pretty underwhelmed by our regular old Christmas tree and measly decorations. It's hard to compete with Mr. Christmas himself! We had some family and friends come enjoy the Snow Village and Bee was super proud to show off her awesome Papa.

Tea party with Uncle Tom in the loft
The day after playing hard at Papa's Christmas house we were always ready for a recovery nap. This day Bee didn't quite make it to the crib.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

After Christmasing

Every year I make a conscious decision during the Holidays to scale back, do less and enjoy more, but it's proving to be an impossible challenge. There is just too much fun to be had! We didn't check every last thing off our Christmas bucket list this year, but judging by the level of exhaustion from my kids, we enjoyed more than our fair share of holiday cheer. Visiting Temple Square after Christmas was sort of awesome. Still lots of people, but less of the crazy shopping crowds. Even in the bitter cold the Temple grounds can keep that little bit of Christmas spirit alive.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Nativity

Russ and Jana put together a beautiful little Christmas Nativity program for the Duncan grand-kids this year. Is there anything cuter than this? Clearly, no. Ellie and Cody ran around the house playing Mary and Joseph for an hour afterwards. I was so proud of my little angel and Shepherd boy. Five grand babies under 4; the greatest success of the night was this picture on the stairs. A favorite new tradition has been born.

We miss her everyday, but especially at Christmas.