Sunday, January 15, 2012

(Nearly) Six Months

Dearest Otto--

If something were to happen to us and you were left with the evidence of this blog and our photos to determine our love and interest in you, you might feel--in comparison to Stella's first half year--that something was lacking. And, to be fair, there are fewer videos, fewer photos, and fewer blog posts. But that wouldn't really be the truth. While we are busier and more distracted and (perhaps) more tired, we really couldn't love you more. I am equally fascinated with all your stages and new developments. I bask in your smiles. I treasure the moments I get to spend with you and get to really focus on you. I think you're a really fascinating human being.

And you look pretty cute in hats, like your dad!

Case in point, number 2

You've nearly already/only been with us six months. In some ways, it's hard to remember life without you. In others, it's been a blink of an eye since we brought you home and began life as a family of four. In that time, which is practically inconsequential to me as an adult, you've nearly doubled your weight, grown about 4 inches, started smiling, rolling, grasping things, babbling, laughing, and very nearly sitting up reliably. You love to bounce and, I swear, already wish you could stand up and follow your sister around the house.

Not to be left to your own devices for long, but you're starting to be a sitter!

Otto and Stella! We haven't been as good about taking videos and even less good about posting, so here's a livelier view for our friends and family who don't get to see the kids as much in person.

And you're about to start getting to eat food! This feels slightly bittersweet. On the one hand, I can't wait to introduce you to new things--avocado! Sweet potato! Fruits and vegetables, new tastes and textures! You'll finally be able to partake in one of my favorite things and something that really binds us together as a family. At the same time, I feel so blessed to have nourished you up to this point. Until you take that first bite of food, everything that's gotten you to where you are today has come from me. (Well, your father might take slight exception to that, but he knows what I mean!) Sure, sometimes breastfeeding has been taxing and meant I've had to pretty exclusively shoulder a major part of your life, but it also means we've had so much time together. And it's a pretty amazing thing women get to do, and I'm happy this worked out for you and I.

Sitting at the table!

And now you're at school--your first week under your belt. You're a social little guy, so I think being with new kids and adults is a good thing for you. A change for sure, but also a chance to experience new things and have an even broader circle of people who care for and love you. Like your sister, I have a feeling that you're going to thrive in the Montessori setting, where you'll get to be independent and self-driven in ways that are sometimes hard to replicate at home.

Hopefully you're this smiley at school, too!

And, finally, sleep. This is the one area where you've had to get with the program a little more quickly than your sister. I just couldn't keep waking up two, four, six times a night and be a good mom or functioning consultant. So you've cried it out. With the crib in the living room. (One day the remodel will be done and you'll have a proper bedroom!) The first night you cried three times and for some decent stretches. By the fourth night, you did it--sleeping through the night from about 8PM until 5AM--wow! Of course, then you got sick and backslid, but the last two nights you've done it again, so we're hoping for more sleepy nights than not going forward.

Otto, the elephant wrangler! Can't wait to take you places where you could conceivably ride an elephant--Vietnam, India, Thailand....

So know, Otto, you are beloved by your parents. And your sister (who you think is pretty much the coolest thing on the planet). And the rest of your extended family. And probably even many of the readers of this blog.

Love, Mom

Monday, January 9, 2012

Everything old is new again, or is it vice versa?

Q: What's the difference between a blog about a family with one child, and a blog about a family with two children?

A: The parents in the first situation actually have time to post on their blog.

...or, at least that's sort of how I've felt recently whenever I think of this blog. Then again, the last couple of months have been dominated by Birthdays, the holidays and a slew of never-ending changes, so I think I can be forgiven. But, it also means that I have a lot to catch up on...

So, let's just jump, into it, shall we!

With Thanksgiving behind us, it was full-speed ahead into Christmas. Neither Sarah nor I have generally been the type of people who jump the gun on Christmas decorations, but with it being Otto's first Christmas, and the first Christmas that Stella really "got it," we ended up getting our tree up fairly early this year...

December 2nd, and we've got a decorated tree.

After that, the next couple of weeks were a flurry of parties: my mom's Birthday, lots and lots and lots of holiday parties and (of course) my Birthday! Last year, my Birthday was actually a bit of a bust. I'd organized a big pizza party, but due to inclement weather and a slew of over-lapping Christmas parties, most of the invited guest ended up cancelling out at the last minute. It was still a fun time, and it made me doubly-appreciate those friends who were able to make, but it had left me a little disenchanted with the position of my birth date on the calendar. So, this year I almost didn't have a party...

...until, literally the day before, Sarah urged me to have one anyway. So, at the last minute, I sent out a flurry of emails inviting people to just come on by. And, y'know what, it ended up being one of my favorite Birthday parties in a long time. Not too big, not to small. Just fun a fun evening surrounded by friend, good drink and Korean beef tacos. Cheers!

Me and a couple of my friends -Rhett, Stephanie and Liam- toasting the start of my 36th year. (Photo by Ambika Beck.)

Oh, and somewhere in the middle of all the parties, Otto turned 5 months old...

Congrats, big guy!

...speaking of the "big guy," as Otto get's older and older, he's been able to do more and more. He's rolling now, and can jump in his bouncer. He's also big enough to ride in the hiking backpack. Which, means he's also big enough to fall asleep in it...

Soon though, it was the big day...

Presents under the tree! Plus, stockings! (...including the new one Sarah made just for Otto! Great work, honey!)

Stella shows Otto how to open presents.

After opening presents at our house on Christmas morning, it was over to my parents house for Round Two of presents and more festivities.

Otto spends some quality time with Uncle Travis, while I break out my Christmas hat.

The day after Christmas we finally rested... oh, wait, actually we loaded up our suitcases to fly to Texas to visit Sarah's family! Though Stella's already flown more times than I had by the time I was in my early 20's, this was Otto's first flight and our first out-of-state trip as a family of four. I'd be lying if I said the flight was easy, but -all things considered- I have to admit it went smoothly. But, as seems to be a running theme with child #2, we failed to take a picture of Otto on his first plan ride.

In Texas, first we visited with Sarah's mom and step-dad, or as Stella calls them: Nana and Grandpapa. Our visit with them included a trip to the Dallas arboretum to see a number of fairy tale inspired castles and houses.

Walking with Nana and Grandpapa in the arboretum. You can see one of the fairy tale style houses in the background. (Otto's managed to flip up the front of his bjorn to cover his face. A favorite trick of his.)

Sarah's mom, Sarah, Otto and Stella sit in "Cinderella's carriage." One of Stella's highlights of the visit.

After a couple days, and more presents for Stella and Otto, it was on to Commerce, TX, to visit Sarah's dad and step-mom. While there, in addition to Round 4 of Christmas presents, we also spent a lot of time at the park. One of the nice things about this trip down there was the weather was excellent, in the high 60's and even low 70's. Seattle's actually had a mild, dry Winter so far, but it's still nice to get outside and enjoy some sun!

Otto enjoy's his first slide, with Grandpa Bob. Notice Stella in the background: She won't have anything to do with slides these days. She's a swing girl.

Otto meet's his Great-Grandma Jean.

A random picture of the kids playing in a cardboard house Grandpa Bob had made for Stella in a previous visit. It cracks me up every time I see it.

And, then suddenly, the holiday's were behind us, and we were back home...

Otto and Stella arrive back in Seattle... their parents were only slightly less beat.

With 2012 ahead of us, things have started to slow down a little again. And, while there are always new developments in life -good and bad- I anticipate that the next couple months will be quieter. More time around the house, and hopefully wrapping up the remodel and settling into the new rooms. But mostly, hopefully, a little quiet time. Read all the book we accumulated over the holiday. Maybe play some board games...

Stella beats Grandma Susan, Grandpa Rick and I at Candy Land.

But, that brings us to the final development that happened officially today: I went back to work after 3 months at home, and Otto started Day Care Full-Time. To be honest, the whole thing sort of snuck up on us. And, I'm probably still emotionally unpacking it a little. I have to admit that there is part of me that was starting to go a little stir-crazy; bouncing around the house and fretting over clutter and the remodel. And, there's part of me that was happy to walk into an office this morning, turn on a computer and start working again. But, at the same time, I'll definitely miss getting to spend so much of my time with Otto. These last couple of months have been challenging at times, but have also been a bit of a revelation as I got to know the little guy, and learn what an incredible little person he is. I'm proud of the fact that we got to spend this time together, and that I made the decision to take this paternity leave.

I'll miss being around him all day. But, at least I can console myself by coming home each evening to see his smile...

It's been wonderful, Otto. I love you.