Portrait Series | December

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A portrait of my family once a month in 2016

Willy: Taught the boys about pulling his finger.

Hooper: Asked if the nipples on Jimmie’s belly are pimples, which led to a conversation about men having nipples regardless of the fact they don’t produce milk. This then led to him inquiring about the two ‘nipples’ (aka moles) on Willy’s head.

Van: Got upset with me for taking a stick away from him after he tried using it as a dart, my face being the dart board. Angry, he told me, “well when you grow up you’re going to be a carrot”. He followed that up with calling me a “pesky squeak”. ::scratches head::

Sonny: Graduated from his helmet that he’s had to wear for the purpose of reshaping his head. He looks better but more than that, he smells better. Also took his first steps.

Me: Tried calling Willy out for using the expression “cat’s pajamas” only to come to find out that it’s a real thing. ::scratches head::

Jimmie: Got to spend the Christmas holiday with my parents which translates to more walks than he’s had in an entire year. Thanks, mom.

The Speed of Life

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san-clemente-family-photographer-3365 san-clemente-family-photographer-3369 san-clemente-family-photographer-3371 san-clemente-family-photographer-3379 san-clemente-family-photographer-3404 san-clemente-family-photographer-3387 san-clemente-family-photographer-3416 san-clemente-family-photographer-3388 san-clemente-family-photographer-3409 san-clemente-family-photographer-3435 san-clemente-family-photographer-3393 san-clemente-family-photographer-3428 san-clemente-family-photographer-3467 san-clemente-family-photographer-3483 san-clemente-family-photographer-3496 san-clemente-family-photographer-3507 san-clemente-family-photographer-3517 san-clemente-family-photographer-3523 san-clemente-family-photographer-3525All I seem drawn to write about lately is how fast time is passing. I guess that’s because the entire month of December seems to have flown before I even had a chance to come up for a breath. When we were in the process of moving homes, Willy and I told one another that when we were done and settled, we’d celebrate; because, well, at the time everything was so stressful (selling a home, buying a home – and Lord-have-mercy-with-all-the-extra-shit-that-comes-up-in-that-process – and so on and so forth). We have yet to celebrate and I can attribute that to two reasons: 1. we don’t really consider ourselves done or settled (I mean we still are living amongst boxes and bare walls) and 2. time never slows for us to even consider planning any sort of celebration.

This year has been the busiest yet; the hands on the clock seemingly skipping numbers and yet so many blessings to count. Sonny, first and foremost. Our third boy, a boy I fought long and hard to have (not in terms of conception but rather in terms of persuading a certain someone on the addition of another. Perhaps I’ll share more of that journey in time). Said move to a home, with a yard. A home I just can’t wait to sink my teeth into as soon as I can get a grip on things (I keep fantasying about the new year bringing a slower pace as if the flip of the calendar will somehow change the current momentum). And a fun little side business that has demanded we constantly adapt to its growing needs (getting a handle on the whole world of taxes being our current demise).

And yet, just when I thought time couldn’t move any faster, that things couldn’t possibly get any hairier, December comes around. And perhaps having a school-aged kid now adds to the struggle; teachers gifts, Holiday celebrations, book exchanges, and all these other functions that have me slinging stale french fries off the floorboard of the car and calling it lunch.

I suppose any of these reasons can attest to my absence from blogging this month but I think a lot of it also has to do with so many heartbreaking current events and a resounding loss of hope I think many have felt over the last few months; at least here in America, anyways. Though I think of this space as a keepsake for my boys, it’s hard to recount things from such an isolated perspective; meaning, there is so much more important things going on in the world.

I think we all could use a fresh start. Here’s to hoping that the New Year brings with it a slower pace and some much needed peace. There’s a lot of healing, for so many and on so many levels, that needs to happen. Hoping we can take the spirit from the holidays and use it to push forward in a direction we can all move together.

Happy Holidays, to all.

Sonny @ 9 Months

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Growth & Appearance: We have yet to take you in for your 9 month well baby appointment but they put you on the scale a week or so ago when we took you in to see about an ear infection and you were 20.8 lbs. No ear infection.

You graduated from wearing your helmet, though it wasn’t quite the send-off we had anticipated. I guess I had hoped they would have said, ‘congratulations, all better, you’re done’. Instead they used words like ‘improvement’ and left us with the option of another 14 weeks of treatment to strive toward ‘perfection’. We declined. We’re happy with the shape and any deformity at this point is hard to notice, even when looking at the images they provided us with.

I guess your eyes are hazel. They’re not blue and they’re not brown. So I’m going with hazel. Dark hazel. Your hair is light brown with a hint of strawberry in it; similar to Van’s at the same age.

You’ve grown out of much of your 12 month clothes due to height and are on to 12-18 or even 18-24. We just switched you over to size 4 diapers. Dressing you, in general, is no easy feat. You’re super squirmy.

san-clemente-family-photographer-3320Sleeping: You fell asleep in your highchair the other week. You’ve also been known to fall asleep in your little play area; it’s not uncommon to find you in the sitting position with your head in your lap, flat as a pancake, fast asleep.

When you wake up, you stand in your crib and start making noises until I look at you. And then you cry as I go to the bathroom as if you can’t wait another second to be held and fed. It’s sweet but it’s also loud.

You wake up around 6:30am, which is earlier than we’d like and still just slightly before your brothers wake which means you’re still in our room despite me mentioning moving you in with them every damn month. You are ready for a nap around 10:30 and sleep for 2-3 hours. If we’re home in the afternoon, you take another nap, around 3:30pm or 4pm for an hour or two. You fall asleep on your own around 8:30pm and then I wake you for one last feed before I go to bed around 10:30pm. And you sleep through the night, in your crib, next to our bed.

san-clemente-family-photographer-3301Eating: I finally got you to eat more fruit by warming it up first and mashing it in with your oatmeal. I can now give you strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries but even with the added cinnamon you’re still not into apple. You eat vegetables with ease; asparagus, broccoli, peas, carrots, sweet potato. In general, you eat whatever we’re eating unless we’re eating crap, which we do more often than is worth admitting. You also tried tofu this month and dig it. And egg whites, too.

Your favorites are still avocado and banana.

You recognize foods and get excited when you see something you particularly like; like when I sat down with yogurt the other day and you started rocking back and forth like a cowboy on a horse until I shared with you.

You breastfeed three times in the morning, twice in the afternoon, and 2-3 more times in the evening. Some are better quality feeds than others.

san-clemente-family-photographer-3338Development: I found you splashing piss-filled toilet water around. Gross.

You appear to be right hand dominant and can be found crawling with a toy in your right hand.

You’re happy as a clam and love to laugh and play games. You know when you’re being teased and you revel in the attention.

You still put everything in your mouth; each and every little bit of anything on the floor goes in your mouth. I’ve pulled out leaves, strings, rug fuzz, little itty bitty bits of wrappers, legos (oh the dreaded legos), oh, and yes, dog food. You really liked the dog food.

You’ve begun showing some feistiness. We were at a party and you screamed in disgust when another little baby took a balloon from you. Then, at Thanksgiving, you kept grabbing the face of another baby. I have a sneaking suspicion there is a monster a’ brewin’.

You’re as busy as a bee in the hours that you’re awake and keeping up with you is a full-time job. If you were a snail, you’d have tracks all over the house within just an hours time. You’re into everything and get anywhere in seconds flat. We had a gate up on the stairs but Hooper knocked it down and it has yet to go back up. You love opening the cabinet doors in the kitchen and thrashing around. It’s only a matter of time before you break something and by something I mean everything.

You are starting to follow commands. You know how to kiss but are rather stingy with giving them out. You’ve waved a few times.

Early in your 8th month you started standing unassisted. It started with just a couple of seconds and quickly matured into a good solid stand. Your balance has improved over the month and on the eve of your 9th month you took 5 steps. There were a lot of breaks in-between (balance-step-balance-step) and you have yet to repeat this feat. Crawling is still your chosen mode of transportation. You furniture walk and can transfer between pieces of furniture with ease.

san-clemente-family-photographer-3314Favorites: You love balloons. There is a golf ball that you like to throw and then crawl after and then throw again. Otherwise it’s the same ol’ story: phones, remote controls, and all the other stuff we value and don’t want in your mouth. And mama. You love me and if I’m in the room there’s no one you’d rather be with.

Sonny @ 8 Months

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Growth & Appearance: We went to your 6 week checkup with the helmet in hopes we’d be told that you no longer need it but loandbehold we’ve been told another 4 weeks, at least. You’re cute as can be but we’re tired of not seeing your whole face and the head butts are starting to hurt and your head is super smelly and the way it presses into my collar bone when you want to cuddle kinda hurts. That said, we hope you enjoy your round head for the rest of your days.

You have a good head of hair, more hair than I recall either of your brothers having. It’s a light brown. Your eyes are hazel, I think.

You’re in size 3 diapers and size 6-12m clothing.

No teeth.

san-clemente-family-photographer-1026Sleeping: I had all the intentions of moving you into your brothers’ room this month and then daylight savings hit and threw a wrench in that plan. Whereas before you were sleeping until after 7am, now you are awake and ready to go around 5am or 6am. This is changing now that we’re adjusting but those first few days, where you were ready for your morning nap at the hour I was ready to actually get out of bed, were hard. And long. Hoping we can get back on track and make the move this month.

You’re now taking two naps a day; one in the morning, around 10:30am for 2-3 hours, and another in the afternoon, around 4pm for 1-2 hours. Though I should note that the second nap is hit or miss.

We packed away the wombie after I found you in your playpen sitting straight up like a little caterpillar. It was time. And you adjusted just fine.

Breastfeeding still puts you to sleep at night but you’d go down easily either way these days. You’re awake after the feed before your morning nap, usually, and you don’t fuss at all when I put you down. san-clemente-family-photographer-1034
Eating: You love solids and tend to favor vegetables over fruits. Some of your favorite foods include: squash, zucchini, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, asparagus, banana, avocado. Things that I thought you would love that you’re just not into at all: strawberries – or any berries for that matter – and apples. You spit them out. We also give you a small amount of cereal and / or oatmeal. You’re now eating three meals a day and when appropriate, you eat what we eat. You love chicken and fish and show interest, in the form of wildly flapping your hands and rocking back and forth as if you were a cowboy on a wild horse, in just about everything we eat.

You breastfeed at least 7 times a day.san-clemente-family-photographer-1023
Development: You pull to stand on everything and have started taking a few steps (while still holding onto something) or at least figuring out that you can move your feet while in the standing position. You crawl everywhere and require attention one hundred percent of the time because of how mobile you are.

In the hours you’re awake, you’re constantly on the move. It’s no wonder you’ve worked your way up to two naps a day; you’re non-stop.

You have yet to figure out the single step that separates the kitchen and family room. It’s gotten the best of you twice now and the other day I saw you sitting there contemplating giving it another try. You must have retracted your extended arm at least 5 times before crawling away.

We have a little area crated off for you that we use when we have to put you down or can’t keep an eye on you. You don’t particularly like it and are definitely aware that we’re passing you off. You seem to entertain yourself better so long as I’m not in sight but as soon as you see me walk past you, you lose your mind.

You love to cuddle and tend to morph into whoever is holding you.

You suck the thumb on your left hand.

You say ‘Ma-ma’ but not with any meaning attached. You’re very vocal and make a lot of noises and squeal excitedly when you’re excited.

At the very end of the month you discovered the stairs. You’ve climbed up the first step or so. Our neighbors gave us their baby gate and it’s time we start using it.san-clemente-family-photographer-1042

Favorites: The remote controls. Our electrical toothbrushes. Jimmie’s bones. And, of course, mama.

Childhood Unplugged

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san-clemente-family-photographer-7153 san-clemente-family-photographer-7036 san-clemente-family-photographer-7045 san-clemente-family-photographer-7167 san-clemente-family-photographer-7054 san-clemente-family-photographer-7161 san-clemente-family-photographer-7063 san-clemente-family-photographer-7170 san-clemente-family-photographer-7070 san-clemente-family-photographer-7080 san-clemente-family-photographer-7173 san-clemente-family-photographer-7092 san-clemente-family-photographer-7119I justified living in a townhome for a long time, my parents recalling frequently the expansive land they raised my sister and I on, whispering the notions we’ve all heard about kids needing a yard. I tried to think ahead, to when the boys would be older and more independent; the freedom to ride their skateboards through our small downtown to get to the beach. I wrote off the lack of outdoor space highlighting the community surrounding us, neighbors that truly cared for us (and still do). And really, it wasn’t until the day that Hooper came up and asked if I would go outside with him so he could run that I felt as though something was in fact lacking. His little legs carrying him around in a circle formation like a hamster on a wheel. I spent the following week anticipating a letter from the HOA notifying me that children are not allowed to run in circles on the road because, well, safety hazards in overprotected America and old crotchety neighbors that live to taddle.

Our search for a home was more about meeting our needs than meeting our dreams. Sure we hope one day that the home we envision can come to fruition but until then, it’s nothing more than checking boxes on a list. And none of this is to say that the house we now call home isn’t a dream; it is. We feel incredibly grateful for all our home provides for us; not a day has gone by where we haven’t talked about how happy we are here, under this new-to-us roof.

During the reconstruction we spent many of evenings in the backyard, waiting to finally move in; sitting on chairs that were left behind and eating dinner out of a plastic bag, red letters reading ‘thank you’. The boys would ride their bikes, climb up the hill, and pee in the bushes; they were marking their territory. Point being, by the time we finally moved in, they had their holes dug, their plants – errr – watered, and their forts constructed. They knew the outside of the house better than the inside. And now, weeks after actually living here, the same is true.

They spend entire afternoons outside. I was told yard space would be a game changer, but I didn’t anticipate the playing field changing so drastically. It’s far from the vision we have for it but already it meets our needs and then some. Jimmie’s needs too. I mean having a doggy door has changed my life in areas I didn’t know I needed help. As in, I would starve him if he ever grew out of the little flip door.

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