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Dear Owen,

Today you are two. TWO YEARS OLD! Let me be all cliche for a moment here and say, wow. How did THAT happen? People aren’t kidding when they say time flies; it really does.

You have truly blossomed these past few months and your personality is out in full force. You talk a mile a minute about everything and everyone with a vocabulary that continually blows me away. Sometimes we can’t even keep up with all you have to say! Your elephant-like memory is pretty awesome, and you surprise me daily when you tell me full recaps of our day, or remind me of something we did weeks — even months — ago. You are an avid reader, devouring every book you can get your hands on. Sometimes it pains me to tell you no, I won’t be reading another book after we’ve read 10, because I know you love it so. You love ALL THINGS TRUCKS, and get so excited when you see a backhoe or a tractor or some other random construction equipment. You know each one so well that you correct me if I call it the wrong name. Such a boy, you are!

You are cheeky and funny and coy and shy and a flirt all wrapped into one delicious blond package. You sing at the top of your lungs and dance to any music that happens to be on — whether that’s in the house or over the speakers in the grocery store. You are affectionate and loving and while somehow you woke up one morning with most traces of your babyhood erased, you still have those chubby cheeks and thighs right along with you big boy looks.

You are cautious when it comes to trying new physical things, and want to be held in new places or situations. Maybe it has to do with being the first born of two first borns (both who I suppose are cautious people by nature), but I really hope you get over your fear of putting your toes in the ocean. We do live in Rhode Island, after all.

You’ve transitioned so well into your new room and bed (minus some very early mornings) and occasionally use the potty. We’re not rushing toilet training, but it’s exciting when you do it, none the less.

You are your father’s mini, telling me multiple times a day you’re doing something “just like Daddy!” Your whole body lights up when he comes in the door and my heart bursts to hear you say “Love you, Daddy!” You cover us both in hugs and kisses and snuggles and our days are made. You bring light, joy and color to our world, little boy. Sometimes we will be watching you, and Daddy and I will catch each other’s eye and just grin at each other liked crazed  maniacs — so amazed that we created you and how amazingly awesome you are.

Any day now you will become a big brother. You ask me daily if baby brother is coming today and the reality is that yes, he will be here very soon. I hope the adjustment of having a baby in the house isn’t too hard for you. We are going to do our best to make it go smoothly for you. I can’t wait to see you interact with a sibling. I think it’s one of the best gifts we can give you and I hope you remember that one day when he’s stealing your toys and tackling you on the rug.

I want you to know something, Owen. I have loved every second of being just your mommy. This isn’t an insult to your brother, rather the fact that you made us parents and the past two years have been the best two years of my entire life. I couldn’t have asked for a better first born. When I look at you, sometimes it actually hurts how much I love you. How one of your smiles or giggles can actually make my heart ache with joy.

You will always be my first baby, and that holds a very special place in my heart. I can’t wait to continue to watch you grow, you amazing little goober.

I love you through and through.

Love,

Mommy

- My baby turns two years old tomorrow. I’m kind of blown away by this. I can’t believe I will be posting the first quarterly letter of his second year wishing him the happiest of birthdays, because it’s hard to believe that just two years ago today I went into labor with him. Be prepared for some sap tomorrow.

- Last year we did the big first birthday party, but this year will be low-key with just a family dinner with the in-laws, cake and presents. We will probably do a second cake when the baby comes and my family is in town too. Owen is getting his first bike and helmet — both red (his choice!) — which will, I’m sure, provide hours of entertainment for him, and heart palpitations for his mother.

- In preparation, I’ve pinned about half a dozen cake recipes, so I just have to decide which one to make today. Yum!

- I’m 37 weeks pregnant now, officially full term and ready for this kid to come out. I’m not uncomfortable, I’m just impatient. I really want to meet him! The only two days I’d like to avoid is tomorrow (it would be nice for the kids to have their own birthdays, even if they are close together), and the fourth of July. Being a holiday baby myself (New Years Eve), I know how annoying sharing your birthday with the entire country can be when you’re a kid. Other than that, he can come. I have a feeling he’s not going to make an appearance until at LEAST the 39th week, but I’m willing him out all the same.

I’ve had three real contractions the past few days that were uncomfortable and familiar enough for me pause and think, “now???”, but obviously, they didn’t mean anything. Saturday I was in the mood to clean…and clean, and clean, and clean. Somewhere around 9:30 p.m. while steam mopping my kitchen and planning on tackling the bathrooms next, it hit me that this was exactly what happened the night I went into labor with Owen. I had two schools of thought: one…baby time!, followed by two…wishful thinking slash nesting to the extreme. Guess it was number two.

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Not out, still in.

My appointment on Friday confirmed dilation has started — like, barely — but all that means is hey, guess what? You’re going to have a baby at some point. Duh. I know, I know. Babies come when they want to come. I was just hoping that him being my second would mean he’d come out a little sooner, that’s all.

- I think the solution to any sleep issues Owen encounters is to write about them on the internet, because after I do that they tend to resolve themselves a bit. After realizing that the sound of shutting the door was what was upsetting him and causing him to climb out of bed, I started leaving the door open a bit until about 20 minutes after he falls asleep. Success! No more opening the door. He just sleeps.

The main issue is that with the freedom to get out of bed comes the new routine of him waking so freaking early (see last post), and no. That needs to stop. I ordered a special toddler alarm clock that looks like a little alien and rather than making noise, lights up when it’s time to start your day. We’re on day two of using it and while it hasn’t been an overnight success, I can already see progress and he’s definitely excited about using it. I will do a full review of it in a week or so in case any of you are also bleary-eyed and so NOT bushy-tailed while your toddler drives trucks over your face at 5 a.m. and are looking for a solution.

- Owen is trying to climb into the baby swing so I should probably go stop that. Behold my (very near) future.

After I told you about the few hurdles we had transitioning Owen to his new bed, night three came along and he just…went to bed. And slept. He even started requesting to go to bed and when we finished reading his books, he’d flip right over and go to sleep. Obviously we are parents of the year and deserved a trophy for the amazing big boy bed conversion we pulled off.

Life has a way of smacking you in the face when you start to get cocky, I think.

Two nights ago he went to bed. A few minutes later he opened the door and came running down the hall, crying, to find me. I brought him back, tucked him in, told him I loved him and shut the door. Wash, rinse, repeat. Five times. After the last time he whimpered in there for a few minutes, but then was quiet. I figured it was an off night and we would go back to normal the next day.

Last night was worse. I didn’t walk him back five times last night. I walked him back EIGHTEEN TIMES. No, I’m not exaggerating. I started keeping track after that door would open every few minutes and the pitter patter of little feet would head towards me. And every time — just like alllll the books and websites and other parents say — I would walk him back calmly and quietly (seriously, all I had to do was point towards his room and he’d run back in sniffling), tuck him in, saying nothing more than “stay in your bed, goodnight, I love you”, and close the door.

EIGHTEEN TIMES.

It’s the most workout I’ve had in weeks.

It wasn’t until the end of the 17th round that I figured out that he didn’t want the door shut, so I left it open and he stayed in bed. I thought he was asleep after about 20 minutes, until I heard him come out again. Only this time he wasn’t crying, he was groggy and rubbing his eyes and looked confused (“Is the game over? Are we done playing? This is a game, right?”) so I tucked him in with a kiss one more time. It took a full hour, but he was out for the night. I shut the door a little while later.

And all was quiet, until he came busting into our room at 5:30 this morning and OH MY GOD, KID. I wish I had my phone next to the bed so you could see what I opened my eyes to. Seven or eight trucks lined up on the edge of my bed, a giant Newfoundland head, nose jabbed at me whining to go out and a tiny person with blond hair dancing around saying, “Mama?! Hiiiii, Mama!!!”

 

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Not chai; espresso.

I had resisted putting a gate in Owen’s bedroom door because I didn’t want him to feel locked in there, but if this keeps up I might reconsider. I know it can take awhile when you put them in a bed, but I was SO convinced we lucked out and he just got it.

Smug, be gone with you.

This recipe came about one night when I realized I had nothing planned for dinner and wondered what I could scrounge up from the contents of the fridge. It came out really good and I’ve since made it a few times, most recently for dinner last night and a second batch I’ll be delivering to a friend today who just had her third baby girl.

There’s no fancy food styling going on here. These un-staged pictures are straight from the phone while I was cooking last night, because halfway through I realized, hey, this is a good recipe to share! So, advance apologizes for any bad lighting, appearance of Owen’s bib, a newborn pacifier in the drainboard, etc. Don’t let the photos fool you…this is yummy!

The basis of this pasta salad is a yogurt dressing rather than your standard oil base. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend bringing it to an outdoor event where it would be in the sun or heat for an extended period, unless you put it on top of an ice bath. There’s no “real” recipe for this. I kind of just eyeball amounts of things, but I’ll do my best to give you an estimate of how much I use for various ingredients.

Start by making your dressing. I chopped up an handful of Italian parsley and mixed it with a container and a half of plain yogurt. Add in 1-2 squirts of dijon mustard, a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes.

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While this is going on, cook up a pound of bowtie pasta and start your bacon. Line a baking sheet really well with foil, place 5-6 strips on bacon on it and place in oven. Turn it to 400 degrees and give it about 10-15 minutes to get good and crispy. You’ll know when you start to smell that delicious bacon smell. Once you do, check on it periodically and take it out when it’s crispy, but not burnt. Drain on paper towels.

I pretty much make bacon exclusively in the oven; it frees up your burners, cooks evenly, doesn’t really stink up the house and as long as you’ve used enough foil, clean up is as easy as throwing it away.

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Dice up some tomatoes and avocados. Add some corn. You can really use whatever veggies you like here, but these taste yummy together. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

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Drain your cooked pasta. If you’re serving this right away you can run it under cold water to cool it down quickly, or if you have time just let it cool on its own. Throw everything in the bowl together and squeeze half a lime over the top. Crumble in your bacon. Mix.

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If you can, let the pasta salad sit for a bit so the flavors can really marinate, but it’s not totally necessary. This makes a fair amount — usually enough for the three of us to eat dinner, then lunch tomorrow.

Below is the best breakdown of ingredients I could do, but really, make it to your taste. Enjoy!

Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients:

- 1 pound of bowtie pasta

- about 8-9 oz. plain yogurt (I used 1.5 individual serving cups)

- small handful (about 1/4 cup) Italian parsley, chopped

- 1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard, to taste

- 1 teaspoon salt

- 1 teaspoon pepper

- about a tablespoon of garlic powder

- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

- 2 tomatoes, diced

- 2 avocados, diced

- 3/4 cup corn

- 1/2 lime

- 5-6 slices of bacon

Directions:

- Cook and drain pasta. Cook bacon on foil-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until crispy. Drain on paper towel.

- Mix yogurt, parsley, mustard and spices in a small bowl. Set aside.

- Chop tomatoes and avocados and place in large bowl. Add corn. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta, dressing, lime and crumbled bacon. Mix.

30 days to go. Totally excited.

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Happy weekend!

Well, not just this week, actually. I haven’t done one of these in a while.

I’ve told you that we do a lot of baking around here, right? Usually Owen plays while I do it, but lately he’s been so eager to help do everything, that I figured he could help bake too. Here he is “bake ‘tookies’ for Dada”, which is all sorts of sweet. This photo also gives you a nice view of the next house project — elimination of pink Formica counter tops and the addition of pulls to the flat drawers/cabinets. We have long-term (VERY long-term) plans for an entire kitchen redo, but with the new appliances we purchased when we bought the house, a new counter top will carry us through until then.

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I’ve reached the I-Can’t-See-My-Feet stage of this pregnancy, which also means I can’t see the underside of my belly. This makes for an almost-daily discovery of stains or crumbs on the bottom of my shirt, but I wasn’t expecting to look in the mirror one morning and find half of a Spiderman sticker beneath the bump. Gee, I wonder who stuck it there…

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Except for some artwork, Owen’s big boy room is complete. We painted last week and moved everything in. The transition from crib to bed hasn’t been awful, but it hasn’t been completely smooth either. We talked up the bed and room for WEEKS so he was super excited when it was all ready for him. That night he went right to sleep in it, but woke twice crying. I think he must have forgotten where he was. Afterwards he slept until 7:30, though, so that was good.

Yesterday was the first nap in there, and it was a TOTAL FAIL. He kept climbing out, opening the door and coming to find me while crying. I would walk him back in, tuck him in and tell him it was nap time in the big boy bed, but it didn’t work. I think I walked him back around six times over the course of an hour before he melted down in the living room. He immediately fell asleep on my shoulder when I picked him up, so I guess we will try again today.

Night two in the bed was easy again, with him waking only once and just needing me to tuck him back in. Of course he was opening the doors and running into our bed at 6 a.m., but at least he slept.

I’m hoping that just like every sleep transition, this will just get better with time, reinforcement and familiarity with the room and routine. I HOPE.

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The last few days have been great temperature-wise, but on the really hot days my hands have started swelling up to the point that my rings are leaving deep grooves in my fingers. Last week it hurt, but I didn’t want to go ringless, so I took the opportunity to wear my grandmother’s wedding band instead. She had bigger fingers than I do, so I never get the opportunity to wear it. It was nice to take it out! The design goes all the way around and is pretty and unique. I believe it’s from the 40s.

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After the fall from doom, I was surprised that Owen had no trouble getting right back on the horse tractor. He was happily driving around on it that very night. He gets on it daily and “goes to Grandma’s house to eat”, or, you know, sits on it to eat right there. What, that’s not where you eat bananas?

The mismatched pajamas are the result of a diaper that leaked, but can I tell you something in hushed tones? He’s started potty training. We are nowhere near it being a regular thing, but he’s started to wake up dry (and then pee in the potty) and has gone both 1 and 2 in it multiple times. I don’t expect him to be fully trained before the baby comes or anything, but it’s a nice thought that he could be done by summer’s end.

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Speaking of the baby…he’s due to arrive a month from Friday. Four weeks. 30 days. I’ve started to get his room ready now that Owen has moved. I started yesterday by washing all the newborn and 0-3 clothes and putting them away. I couldn’t help by hold up onesie after tiny onesie and marvel in the fact that Owen once fit in them, and that in no time another tiny boy will. In a week and a half I will be considered full term so really, any time after that, little one.

I’m feeling much more comfortable this time around than I did with Owen, but “more comfortable” doesn’t equal “comfortable”, and as the Braxton Hicks come seemingly all day long, the somersaults turn into more deliberate and frequent jabs and the punches to my cervix make me grit my teeth, I can’t help but wish he would come sooner rather than later.

Owen asks us daily if baby brother is coming today. I can’t wait to tell him yes!

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When you walk into our house you have to go up a short flight up stairs to go into our main living space. We have a gate at the top. A gate that is always closed and the dangers of an open gate have been drilled into Owen’s head, so much so that if it’s even a little ajar, he will walk away from it as far as he can while saying, “no, no, no.”

You know where this is going, right?

Two days ago we had his new bedroom furniture delivered, so we took the gate down to make more room. And…we got lazy, I guess, and complacent in the idea that Owen knew not to go near the stairs so it was fine for a day.

Yesterday afternoon I was finishing up some stuff in the kitchen while Owen road around the house on his little John Deer tractor. I could hear him going up and down the hallway and around the living room. I was listening, but I wasn’t really paying attention. All of the sudden I heard the sound of wheels speeding down the stairs. It happened so quickly, and as soon as my brain registered what I was hearing I started to run the 10 or so feet to the top of the stairs.

I was too late. I made it just in time to hear his first scream and when I came around the corner he was lying on his back on the bottom (tile!) landing, the wheels of his little tractor spinning next to him. As I flew down the stairs a million thoughts were racing through my head (Broken bones! Head injury!), but when I reached him the only thing I could see was red.

There was so.much.blood. I scooped him up and while he howled and buried his head into me, I tried to decipher where it was all coming from. With all that screaming it wasn’t hard to figure out that it was his mouth. The entire thing was filled with dark red, his teeth hidden beneath a pool of it and it ran down his chin and down my shirt. I ran into the bathroom, wet a washcloth and tried to wipe as much away as I could, all the while comforting him and trying to stay calm for him.

My brain was not calm. My baby was hurt, there was blood everywhere and it just kept coming.

I managed to get him to stick out his tongue and do a quick sweep of his teeth, and discovered that he had bit into both his top and bottom lips, but I didn’t know how badly. I grabbed my phone and called Michael, who thankfully picked up and said he would come right home. I couldn’t decide if I needed to take Owen to the hospital or not. He was still sobbing and the blood was still flowing. I just couldn’t tell how bad the injury was. And I started to cry. Luckily, being away from the mess and having a straight head, Michael texted me right then and suggested I call our pediatrician first before heading the ER. I did, and they told me to bring him in.

I grabbed a bag of ice and tried to get him to hold it to his mouth (ha) as I gathered up our things. In my rush, I didn’t even put shoes on the poor kid, although I did at least remember to throw them in my bag. As I peeled out of the garage, I put on a brave face and waved at the neighbors who were talking next to the basketball hoop on our street. (We think this may actually be why he fell down the stairs — I think he was driving by the top when he noticed them playing ball through the screen door and leaned forward to get a better view.)

It was only then I noticed my entire shirt was soaked with blood and it was streaked across my cheek. I probably looked like a pregnant serial killer.

The ride was less than 10 minutes, but it felt endless. The bleeding had slowed, but he still looked like a vampire after a good meal. I tried to make him feel better by telling him that our doctor would make it better soon and Daddy was going to meet us there. He had stopped screaming, but the whimpering was just as sad.He also kept repeating, “I know…I know….” in a sad little voice. I must have been saying that to him as I tried to calm him before, “I know, baby, it hurts. I know.”

I bustled him into the waiting room at the pediatrician’s and as soon as he saw the plethora of trucks and trains to play with, he was off and happy as a clam. Of course. When Michael walked in a few minutes later, had he not seen me covered in blood, I’m not sure he would have believed anything had really happened.

Long story short, he’s fine. He split his top lip, bit into the bottom lip but not enough to cause major damage, and split that ridge of gum between his front two teeth, which was the source of most of the blood. According to his doctor, mouth wounds bleed A LOT, but usually heal up quickly and nicely. He has a bruise on his cheek and his lips are puffy, but that’s the worst of it. He gets to skip a day or two or tooth brushing and eat soft and cold things, like the Popsicle he had last night. Basically, any kid’s dream.

Today he’s in great spirits and actually looks pretty good, considering. I think we can even go to Target today without getting suspicious looks. (Negligent mother, aisle five.)

We are so lucky. This could have been a million times worse. But I can’t erase the vision of him lying there spewing blood, or the guilt that is nagging at the back of my mind.

The gate should have been there. I should have been paying more attention. This could have been prevented.

I guess it’s a lesson learned for all, one I hope to never repeat. And I KNOW this is just the beginning. There will be more injuries. Probably a broken bone, a trip to the ER, some stitches. He is a boy, after all, and we’re having another one.

But still. My heart. My baby.

Gah, parenthood.

- I think Owen got the message that he turns two in three weeks. (Wait, what? WHAT????) I wouldn’t say he’s been terrible, but he’s been…challenging. On one hand, he’s this amazing little kid who is speaking in some complete sentences (“Mommy, I want some oatmeal.”) and asking every morning if baby brother is coming today, but on the other hand, he’s this crazy short person running around my house crying for no reason except for the fact that his oatmeal is gone. Or, too warm. Or, something. I don’t really know. And I know I shouldn’t complain that he wants to read more and more and MORE books one after another, but if I have to read the Richard Scarry “Biggest and Best Storybook Ever – THREE BOOKS IN ONE! – ” one more time, I think I might lose my mind. (Truth? He’s on the couch with it right now shouting “MOMMY READ IT!!!!”, even though we JUST DID.)

Yesterday was one of THOSE days. Nothing could please him, he cried constantly, he took an early nap and had an interrupted night sleep. I’m going to go ahead and blame the eventual showing of his two-year molars on some of it (parent tip: always blame teeth. It will make you feel less like a giant failure and more like it’s out of your control), and the rest of the fact that well, people must call it the Terrible Two’s for a reason.

- A friend and I went to an open house at the hospital yesterday to see the new labor tub they installed. It wasn’t there when I had Owen, so I wanted to check it out before things got going. It’s beautiful! Centered in the spa-like room is a large Jacuzzi tub surrounded by soft lighting, an iPod dock and a pretty sink and toilet (as pretty as a toilet can be, I guess) behind a frosted glass partition. The room is nicer than any of our bathrooms. I’m really hoping it’s available when I arrive, because I’d love to try it out as another method of pain relief. It’s not a birthing tub, so I would have to get out at some point to have the baby, but I still think it’s a really nice option.

- Since my big whine-fest last week I’m happy to report that my foot is SO much better. Like a 2 out of 10 on the pain scale instead of an 8. The plantars wart of doom refuses to totally die, and probably won’t until my hormones regulate after birth, but at least it’s not exruciating any more. I bet you know more about my foot than you ever, EVER would want to.

- You guys. The phone alarm just went off and Owen started dancing to it, until he pushed the side button and it stopped. So naturally, HE BURST INTO TEARS. Yo, Two. Get a grip, will ya?

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