Time and the way it flies…

san clemente family photographer-6797Everyone talks about how fast life seems to go, perhaps even more so when you’re a parent and you can see all these little (big) changes that when juxtaposed to the same time just the year before point to how things change, seemingly overnight. The start of kindergarten already pressing down of the culmination of such. A single tooth sitting in my medicine cabinet because the sentimentality of throwing something away that’s been with him for six years feels strange (and yet, so does keeping it). A mouth full of others starting to wiggle, they way he has to bite down on chips out of the side of his mouth a staple for this phase of life. Excitement over new a new toy now giving way to periods of boredom. Tantrums, that we thought were behind us, rearing their mean head; “I hate being a kid” and “I want to make the rules” being my two (least) favorite mantas. And yet, sewn into all of it such innocence and tenderness, am empathy that’s always been a part of who he is; the pare I treasure most about him. From baby, to toddler, to boy all in the blink of an eye; and now, from boy to, I dunno, kid. I can’t think of a guest more uninviting than time. 

Hooper @ 6 years

san clemente family photographer-5409Growth & Appearance: Your hair is blond, with some brown roots. Your eyes are light brown and your skin olive. At a checkup a few months ago you weighed 42 lbs (31st percentile) and were 46 inches tall (76th percentile). You have a natural six pack and are tall and thin.

You’ve been claiming a loose tooth for months now. It’s slightly wiggly but not about to go anywhere anytime real soon. You’re excited to lose it. Not sure why.

You’ve taken a new-found interest in your appearance and take pride in dressing yourself in the morning. It’s not uncommon to see you come out of your room with pants that are way too short and a button up shirt buttoned incorrectly. We encourage you to rock it all the same. You also like going into the bathroom and putting water in your hair as if it’s gel and slicking your hair back with my brush. This is new and you’ve done it several times a day for the last week or so. san clemente family photographer-5384

Eating: You’re a better eater now than you’ve ever been. You’re not great at trying new things but you also don’t need a lot of coaxing to eat what we put on your plate. Your favorite meal is chicken, macaroni, and peas. You say you like broccoli and will eat a few bites, but you never finish it.

Favorite foods: hamburgers, macaroni, salmon, eggs, bacon, pizza.

New foods make you gag and you spit things out that you weren’t excited to try as soon as it touches your mouth. That said, you’re much easier to have at the table and you eat well. You also seem to self-regulate well on all fronts, even on the sugar front.san clemente family photographer-5389

Sleeping: You still sleep with your blanket but not usually anything else. You love surrounding yourself with pillows. You sleep on the top bunk but aren’t opposed to sharing the bottom bunk with Van; the two of you can be found sleeping together every now and again.

We make you take a nap every now and again, but it’s rare; I’d say once or twice a month but some months not at all. You’re quick to fall asleep in the car though.

You go to bed easily and even ask to be put to bed when you’re tired. san clemente family photographer-5376

Development:

You are into girls and have a grasp on what ‘love’ means. You’re fond of one particular girl in your class and come home often and tell me about all the girls that chase you during recess. I remind you often that you can be in love with boys or girls, but thus far, you’re all about the ladies.

I’ve caught you several times outside practicing your golf swing. Your g’pa takes you to a golf class once a week and you’re into it. You swing both right and left.

You can write your name with ease and are curious about what signs say. You’re getting a hang of your ‘sight words’. Your teacher says you’re a delight to have in class, which is definitely a step-up from your reported behavior last year, where your transitional kindergarten teacher described you as ‘impulsive’. You’ve grown up a lot since then and seem to have better self-control…

…Except for when it comes to your brother. You’re incredibly impulsive when it comes to acting out and are quick to hit and slap and spit before you think. It makes for a lot of time outs and a lot of apologies and a whole lot of whining from your brother.

You love being a big brother to Sonny and are eager to help. In general, you’re happy to help with lots of things around the house. Even more so now that you’ve learned that chores can potentially earn you money. You have 16 crumpled up one dollar bills in a toy ATM machine you got for Christmas and you count your money often. Chores I’ve had you do include hanging up laundry in your closet, cleaning up toys, vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher and setting / clearing the table. I also pay you when I need you to model a new shirt for the shop, something I try not to do these days after having more incidents than I can count of having our product (and images) stolen and posted on other sites. But that’s a separate post altogether. And not one I want to write.

On the same tip, you like having your photo taken and as you’ve gotten older, I feel you really ‘get me’ as a photographer. You’re not always in the mood and I respect that, but when you are, you always quench my creative thirst.

You have a kind spirit and are sensitive to others feelings. That’s not to say you’re always perfect, you’re not, but you have a good soul, a warm heart, and an empathetic nature. Hanging an ornament with a picture of Sarah on the Christmas tree brought you to tears and you spent some time afterward talking about how much you miss her. You also cried at Nanny’s funeral. And it brings you a great sense of pride when you’re able to help me out in times that I’m clearly struggling. All things that make me so proud. And appreciative.

You’re strong and can do legit pushups with perfect technique. san clemente family photographer-5398
Favorites: You love building things; forts, legos, blocks, etc. You have lots of projects in the yard; as of late you requested some ‘carrot seeds’ to plant and made your own swing out of a dog leash, handcuffs, and a wire basket. Your backpack is always filled to the brim with your most treasured items and sometimes when you’re at school I take a little peek and have a good laugh; crumbled up pieces of paper, a magnifying glass, fortune cookies, handcuffs, legos, and other random trinkets.

You and your brother have discovered the Ernest movies and those are a hit these days. We think that’s where the slicking your hair back comes from (bad Ernest in ‘Ernest goes to jail’ has slicked back hair).

You have a ‘Ninjago’ book that you ask us to read often. You also love the Ninjago show on Netflix.

Hooper @ 5 years, 4 months

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Appearance & Growth:

You are tall and thin and if I were to continue doing these updates for the remainder of your life, I’m pretty sure I’d just copy and paste that little known fact. In general, you’re whimsy like a bicycle. But strong. You can do push-ups with ease.

Your hair is still blond and when it’s clean, it curls just a bit at the ends. Your hair is currently down to your shoulders, but you don’t like wearing it up in a pony tail.

You’re in size 5T in pants and need a belt with just about every pair you own, with the exception – per usual – of the few vintage pairs you own that seem to have a smaller waist. We forget the belt often and you’re constantly tugging at your pants, pulling them back up. You can wear size 4 or 5 shirts and I think you’re in size 11 or 12 shoes, it’s hard to keep track. You weigh somewhere in the ballpark of 40 pounds, qualifying you for a simple booster seat now in-leiu of the big honky carseat, but you’re still in the big honky carseat for now.

The dentist found two cavities. We’re now flossing and rinsing with fluoride.

 
Eating:

We’ve turned some sort of corner and whatever difficulties we faced in the past have all but disappeared. Sure, it’s rare to get through an entire meal without reminding you, or your brother, to sit back down a thousand times, but all in all, the eating situation is much, much improved.

I make you a smoothie a few mornings a week. You need some motivation to get it all down, but most days you do pretty well. Ingredients include: OJ, chia seed, flax seed, spinach, pineapple, and strawberries.

You do well with rewards for good eating and encouragement.

Foods I never thought you’d eat but you do now: asparagus and green beans.

Favorite foods: Cheeseburgers (all day, everyday), grilled cheese, macaroni, bread / carbs in general, raspberries, american cheese.

You’ve told on yourself several times for “sneaking up on food”, which translates to you raiding the cabinets while we’re upstairs working and usually equates to missing candy corn or a rim of cheese from Doritos around your mouth as leftover evidence.

San Clemente Family Photographer-3294Sleeping:

If we’re in the car for a long period of time, you’ll usually take a nap. But not always. On average you sleep about 11 hours, from about 8:30pm to 7:30am.

Most nights we find you sleeping side by side your brother in his little twin bed. It’s just about the cutest thing we’ve ever seen and it’s becoming the norm.

You still sleep with your blanket every night, with various stuffed animals making their way in rotation and changing their levels of significance. But more nights than not you’re fine without any stuffed animals at all.

We no longer close your door at night and allow you the freedom to get up and take yourself to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It’s been fun to see you gain this independence and you’ve accepted this new freedom well. We’ve added night lights in your room as well as in the bathroom.

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Talking:

You asked me the other day if you could marry Jimmie.

You came home from school the other day, told me you kissed a girl in your class twice, and then proceeded to tell me, “Mama, I weally wyke (really like) gurls (girls)”.

You think it’s funny to say “I’m going to throw up”, followed soon after by “just kidding”.

Since our last trip to Arizona, you’ve been saying you want to work with cows when you grow up, like your grandpa Niles.

Not sure where you picked it up, but you’ve started counting to ten in Spanish, only it’s resemblance to actual Spanish is questionable, at best; “Cuatro” sounds more like “colossal”. In any event,  you’re showing interest in learning more and it’s been fun to hear you pick up on a few words: “excellente”, “vamanos”, “perfecto”… You know how to say “my name is Hooper” in Spanish and pick up on others in public speaking in Spanish.

You use the word “dude”. The other day you got upset at me for asking you to clean up and told me, with angst in your voice, “Knock it off, dude”.

There was a period of time where you responded to requests like, “Hooper, can you pick up your toys” with, “Five year olds aren’t good at picking up toys”.

You use the word “yesterday” to refer to anytime in the past… no matter how long ago whatever event you referencing occurred.

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Development:

You write with your left hand but are able to use scissors with your right. I keep intending to buy you left handed scissors to give a try but you seem pretty well adapted to the right handed ones. You’re left leg dominant as well and are able to hop better on your left foot than your right. You’ve attended a little golf class with your g’pa Jeffers and the coach there says you’re a right handed golfer.

You won’t let us take the training wheels off your bike. We pick our battles.

Rather suddenly you’re aware that there is some inherent degree of embarrassment associated with being naked and though you still like to strip off all your clothes and surprise everyone with a naked rampage, you also worry about people “laughing at you” and don’t like to step foot out the door in your underwear much anymore. But then, just the other day, you rode your bike in nothing other than your choines without giving it any thought. So you haven’t made the full transition.

You often refuse to blow your nose and are constantly sucking your boogers back up into your nose whenever you have a cold.

You’re really exercising your independence as of late; this includes climbing on top of the counter and fetching your own snack as well as pulling a chair into your closet to reach your shirts so you can fully dress yourself. You brush your teeth on your own but definitely benefit from a little assistance. You wipe your own butt. Things I can’t wait to check off the list: getting your shoes on by yourself and strapping yourself into and out of your carseat on your own.

You can do a poor excuse for a cartwheel, but it resembles a cartwheel none-the-less.

You ask lots of questions, good questions. Like today you inquired, “mama, when the baby cries in the middle of the night is it going to wake me up and aren’t you going to be tired having to get up all the time?”. You ask lots of questions that prove wheels to be spinning and point to good intuition. You’ve asked more than once how Papa “put his seed in me”.

You love school and have lots of friends. Your teacher describes you as impulsive as well as the class “reporter” (apparently you tell on people a lot). I describe her as a saint for putting up with the 20+ boys in your class.

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Favorites:

Legos are your latest obsession. The swords and guns have been put away in the closet and we are now dealing with stepping on little itty bitty pieces of legos all day long.

You have a fascination with Star Wars despite never seeing the actual show / movie. It’s amazing what marketing and influence from friends at school can do…

Jimmie, hands down, is high on your list of favorites. You play with him all the time, love to cuddle him and give him treats, and point out how cute he is constantly. You really enjoy his presence and company.

You love doing what you refer to as your “science experiments” which really just involves filling test tubes with whatever you can find: soda, juice, or my favorite from this morning, granola.

An Interview, with Hooper

I have to be honest when I say I don’t expect anyone to watch this the whole way through who does not know and love Hooper personally. But, alas, it’s these little interviews that bring Willy and I so much joy to look back on.

The highlights: If Hooper could go anywhere in the world, he’d chose Italy… even though I’ve been trying to sell him on Egypt. Also, the only take-away from our trip to Cuba is that he reluctantly gave a very select few of his toy cars away to the kids there and despite having seemingly enjoyed the act of giving in the moment, clearly has some regrets; regrets he’s holding hostility against me for. He values chocolate over money, wants two babies to magically come out of my belly instead of one and can’t wait to “love on” the new baby, and has wheels spinning in his little five-year-old head that wonder how – in fact – “papas give mamas babies”.

Love this kid.

Hooper @ 4 years, 8 months

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You insist on sleeping in your underwear. Anytime we’d put you in actual pajamas, you’d wake up in the morning with them on the floor. It’s made getting ready for bed that much easier, so cheers to that.
You’re more rambunctious than ever. Sometime within the past few months the top of the energy jar just flew right off. You’re like a bull in a china shop these days. The thought of getting anything done in the hours that you’re awake has become a joke.
With that said, you’re no longer napping. I wrote about it here. We’re still adjusting…
You started at a new school. When asked about your day, you said, “Felix (your best bud from your old school) wasn’t there, but I didn’t cry”. You seemed to enjoy yourself and participated right along with everyone else.
Disciplining you has been a challenge. Most of the usual techniques have zero impact on you, some you even find humorous. It can really make my blood boil. The other day you spit in my face. Another time you threw a rock at me that landed right on my jaw bone. We’re still figuring out this parenting thing… Times like this make it very trying.
When writing your name, you almost always leave out the ‘e’ and the ‘r’, so it just reads “Hoop”.
Even with that, you’re equal parts sweet and sour. You still love to cuddle and if there were cuddling competitions, you’d certainly have a shot at winning. You can curl your body into the smallest, most fetal position while on my lap. You caress my arm often and tell me you love me numerous times throughout the day.
You can take your clothes off but haven’t figured out to put them on. You’re like a slutty teenager.
You write mostly with your left hand and strum the guitar with your left hand, too.
All things associated with your butt are humorous. You think it’s funny to back up into us with your pants pulled down just enough so we can see your crack. You also like taking off all your clothes and referring to yourself as a “poo butt”.
You tell lots of stories and have a great imagination and a noteworthy memory. You were able to direct the babysitter all the way to Nina’s house.
Books about reptiles, dinosaurs, or sea creatures hold your attention most these days. You’re not particularly into sports, but you like climbing and digging and building.
You go to bed around 8:30pm and wake up anywhere between 7:15 and 8:30am.
You have a natural six pack and can do push-ups with impressive technique. The other day I punished you by making you do 10 push-ups. It felt good.
You’ve switched from hating swim lessons to loving swim lessons. Probably because you now know how to swim, though I’m not sure you’re entirely pool safe yet. And some days you get asked to leave class for not listening.
American cheese is your jam. You ask for the individually wrapped kraft squares constantly. You pronounce it “‘merikan”. It goes without saying that a grilled cheese sandwich is the one thing I can serve you and not have to hound you to sit down and finish your food.
Other things I love that you say: Popsicle is “pa-sickle” and lobster is “womp-ster”.
You’re in size 4T clothes but can still fit into size 2T underwear.

Slow down

338A1283-73I caught myself as the words “you’ll understand when you’re older” rolled off my tongue. It was like I was sitting in the backseat and my mom was driving, only I was driving and Hooper was sitting in the backseat. What I’m trying to say is that the damn tables have turned.
We were on the way to preschool when Hooper asked me why Van doesn’t go to preschool yet. I explained that Van is still too young, to which he responded by puffing his proverbial feathers and declaring, “ya, I’m a big kid, Mama”. Only it was followed by, “but why you not want me to grow too fast, Mama?”.
I guess he’s caught on to my nagging insistence that he slow down. I’ve pleaded with him, a couple of times, during our many cuddle sessions – praise the Lord he still loves to cuddle – to not grow up so fast.
I couldn’t explain it to him, so the words “you’ll understand when you’re older” simply had to suffice. But really, Hooper, slow down.

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Hooper @ 4 years, 2 months

Growth & Appearance: We took you to a barber to have your hair cut. We love it and yet we’re still eager for it to be long, again. You’ve grown a lot it seems and while you fit into many 4T or even 5T pants length wise, the waist is too big, so many times you have to wear a belt. You wear your g’paw Jeffer’s old cub scout belt. The vintage pants fit you just fine in the waist, so I do my best to buy you those instead. 
You like to take you footie pajamas off by yourself, which leaves them in an inside-out mess and added hassle for when we put them back on at bedtime (but whatever, right?). You refused to wear hats for a long time but now agree to wearing beanies when it’s cold out. You have one of Papa’s old watches and insist on wearing it at all times of the day. It’s much to big for your little wrist. You don’t really care what I put you in; you have no preferences when it comes to picking out clothes. I’m gonna ride that wave as long as I can. Dressing boys has proven to be more fun than I ever thought.
You had your 4 year check-up and you are 36lbs (51%) and I think just under 40 inches tall (71%). You’re in size 4 shirts  and size 9 shoes. 
Eating: You’re such a better eater these days. Like night and day. You still need some coaxing here and there, but more times than not you feed yourself and enjoy eating. Did I just say that?
You love pizza. You eyes light up when we tell you we’re lazy and ordering pizza. You also love bacon. And french fries. You’re so obviously my kid. Despite these unhealthy-ish preferences, you do eat a considerable amount of healthy foods; you love nuts, apples, oranges, carrots, and avocado sandwiches (begrudgingly, at times).
You pick your nose and eat your boogers. The other day I caught you eating one of your scabs.
Sleeping: You sleep pattern stays fairly consistent, though daylight savings has made you get up a little earlier than normal. You’re also having a hard time holding your pee and ask often for us to “let you out” to go to the bathroom. Typically you get up between 7 and 8, closer to 7 the majority of the time. Then you nap from about 1:30-3:30, sometimes 4, and rarely not at all. We have hopes of getting you to bed before 8 but you have yet to be in bed before 8:30.
You wake up most mornings in Van’s bed. I think there are times you fall asleep with him in there, but without a video monitor I can’t say for sure. You request to nap in Van’s bed since Van still naps in the pack-n-play.
Twice you’ve taken off all of your clothes and I’ve found you in your birthday suit. That’s new. Insert big eyes with raised eyebrows here. Talking: You call park rangers “grangers” and I don’t correct you; “Mama, waz dat granger say to you?”
You pronounce ambulance with a ton of extra syllables. It sounds something like, “am-ba-tu-la-ence”.
“Spicy” is pronounced “ficey” and I also don’t correct you.
When you see a cat or a small dog, you say, “I want to pick up her”. I don’t correct you because according to the grammar police, you’re actually grammatically correct. 
Development: You got scolded at the dog beach by a stranger for hitting her dog. You were upset because the dog took your stick. It was really embarrassing, for me. It had a big impact on you, too, because you wouldn’t stop talking about how you no longer like dogs. Jimmie, you say, is an exception.
You love the letter H. You draw it often and point it out all around town. You don’t seem the least bit interested in any other letters, but you really hold that letter H in high regard.
Each morning at preschool you are supposed to trace the letters of your name. I stick around to watch you every now and again and have yet to see you actually trace the letters. Instead, you like to color in the inside of the letters… you scribble the inside of the “o”s and the inside of the “e” and “p” and call it a day. I have no intentions of correcting you, I like that you do it differently than everyone else.
You teachers say you genuinely like to help. I think this is a very firstborn, people-pleaser, trait of yours. It highlights your sweet and gentle side so well and obviously is a nice thing to hear.
On the flipside, you still come out of preschool each day with ragging aggressiveness toward Van. It’s like groundhog day; you come out the door, sock Van, and then proceed to chase each other all the way back to the car. Same thing. Everyday.
Your feelings get hurt if I tell you you’re not my friend. I realize this lets the I-stoop-to-my-kids-level cat out of the bag, but sometimes no time out or scolding seems to affect you. But, if I tell you that you’re not my friend, you cry. It’s my only leverage.
Felix is your best friend from pre-school. You talk about him at the most random times; like driving through Joshua Tree, “Felix would like this town”. Or the morning when you peed in your bed, “Felix doesn’t pee in his bed”. You guys send each other little videos back and forth confessing your love for one another. It’s sweet. And I dig his mom, so nice pick, Hoop.
You make the ugliest face by scrunching up your nose and showing your teeth and refer to it as your “mad face”. If I’m telling you something you don’t want to hear, you make your “mad face”. Or if you’re in attack mode and going crazy or pretending to be the “bad guy”, you better believe “mad face” comes out in full force. It’s unattractive, to say the least.
You go through phases of spitting. It sucks.
You have a love hate relationship with Jimmie; you love when he’s curled into a ball and you can cuddle him but you hate him when he’s going crazy and chewing up your toys or taking your stuffed animals off your bed.
Your imagination is on fire and you can be quite the storyteller. You’ve been known to tell tales of giraffes in our living room and that super great story you told Nina about Papa hitting you, which had no truth to it.
Favorites: You’re still, after all these years, into your cars. You now like to fill your bed with as many cars as you can and refer to it as a “carnival”. You give me a ticket (usually some sort of scrape piece of paper) and invite me to come. You love watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. It scared you, at first, but you didn’t want me to turn it off and now I think you’re so stoked that you conquered whatever fear you had that you want to watch it over and over and over again. It’s  a nice break from Cars and was fun to watch during Christmas. You love to read and you love to flip through books on your own and study the pictures on the pages. You go a book for Christmas that has close up pictures of lots of different insects and animals and you love flipping through and studying each page. You recently found a container of tinker toys and that’s been your favorite thing for the last few days. We went to the Natural History Museum and ever since then you’ve been into dinosaurs. There is an educational program you like to watch on Netflix over and over. The narrator has that really old man monotone museum-esque voice so I haven’t quite figured out how he holds your attention, but he does.

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An Interview

Dear Hooper & Van,
My days with you two are rarely easy. You both have a ton of energy and when you’re going, you go non-stop. And yet, I don’t want these days to ever end. I want to remember everything about them. Here’s a small attempt at doing so. I hope one day you will enjoy these videos.
Mama

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A Birthday Recap

I tend to lose my mind sometime around this time of the year for the last few years. It starts with Halloween, which always sneaks up on me and makes me feel like a piece-of-shit mom for never having the energy to make some handmade clever costume. It’s quickly followed by Hooper’s birthday; a day that, for the past three years, I’ve haphazardly thrown something together at seemingly the last minute writing off the lag time by reminding myself that he’s too young to really care anyway. But this year, he knows what’s up. I still lagged, but I did manage to get an email invite out to a few friends and family.  
No crazy decorations, a last minute pizza order after we decided a BBQ would be too much work, a pinata stuffed to the brim with leftover Halloween candy, some very special out-of-town guests, and enough wood to keep a fire blazing; the most perfect contradiction to the crisp autumn air. 
All in all, a success.

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Ramblings on being a parent of a preschooler

Ramblings on being a parent of a preschooler: 
-We showed up to the first day of school, as a family, for the first day meet-and-greet. As we were getting out of the car, I noticed the chaos; kids and parents everywhere. I suddenly had that feeling of what it felt like to be a student, on the first day of school; the excitement of pulling out brand new folders that I picked out in the back-to-school section at Office Depot, the outfit I so carefully coordinated to go with with my new shoes, and that nervous – almost panic – of wondering who would be in my class, who I would have lunch with, and if all my friends from the previous year (::cough cough:: that ended just 3 months ago) would still be there. And now as I walked into the school gates as a parent, I saw one mom decked out in high heels and so much make-up you would need a garden rake to remove it and realized that the first day of school is a “thing” for parents too. It made me giggle with a confidence I only pretended to have as a kid.
-Once in the classroom, I noticed that several of the parents were already familiar with one another because of older kids they have that attend the elementary portion of the preschool. When one said, “I’ll see you at pick-up”, I realized that “pick-up” is also a thing; I mean these parents see each other twice a day, nearly everyday. I was reminded, again, why my mom always told me my friends would change throughout my life depending on what I was doing in life. So I introduced myself to a few other moms.
-My firstborn, my more timid and cuddly and dependent son left my side immediately. Toy trucks take precedence these days. He didn’t even take his backpack off. I had to ask for a hug and kiss. I called my sister on the way home. She asked if his independence made me sad. I felt nothing other than pride.
-Entertaining  a second born while the firstborn is away is hard work. It’s like my little babysitter disappeared and suddenly it was just he and I. Made me realize just how strong their relationship is.
-As soon as Van and I pick Hooper up, Hooper attacks. It’s like he has all this pent up maliciousness that he’s (hopefully) held in all day (I mean all three and a half hours ::cough cough::) and so he just unravels as soon as he sees Van. We’re working on it.
-Papers. Oh dear Lord, the papers. Everyday there are new papers. It’s like the junk mail followed me from the mailbox. Information on this and information on that, I can’t even say what all the papers are about because I haven’t even begun to look at them. After only a week I felt as though I was drowning in them. And, of course, there’s the lovely* artwork that I can tell Hooper spent so* much time working on ::wink wink::. Am I a bad parent if I throw that stuff away? Rhetorical question because, well, I’m gonna throw it away anyway.
-For the first three school days I noticed, in hindsight, that I never put the right time on the sign on sheet. I was off by an hour one day and thirty minutes another day. I was worried about having to wake Hooper up so early to go to preschool but I think it’s me that could use the extra rest. Ha.
-He’s made a friend. I caught them as they locked eyes after school and they gave each other that look of oh-my-gosh-I-know-you-and-I-like-you-but-what-are-you-doing-here-look (as soon as they’re outside of the classroom it’s like a whole other world). The exchanged the cutest wave and both went on their way with an occasional glance back to see if the other was still looking.
-I knew seeing him go to preschool would make him appear all the sudden more wise, more grown. What I didn’t expect is that I’d have a mini teenager. He’s how our post-pre-school conversations have gone:
Me: “What’d you do at preschool today?”
Hooper: “Nuffing!”
Me, trying to take a different, more open ended approach: “Tell me about your friends at preschool”
Hooper: “Nuffing!”
Me, thinking okay then, he must be hungry, “What would you like for lunch when we get home?”
Hooper: “I don’t wanna talk right now”
… two minutes later he transforms from pumpkin to fancy horse carriage, asking about the tractors and road construction and telling me how much he loves me. So, ya, he’s like a teenager. A split-personality teenager.

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Hooper @ 3 years, 10 months

Growth & Appearance: You’re tall and lanky, with long and skinny limbs. Your waist is small and you can share all your shorts with Van. You’re in a size 9 shoe and size 3T clothing. Your hair is long and it can finally fit behind your ears. You legs are almost always covered in tiny bruises from who-knows-what. Someone said you look more like Papa the other day, but most of the time people say you look like me. You definitely have my body structure. 
Eating: You’ve been eating better than ever before. You still need encouragement at times, but there are entire meals that you will eat on your own and in record-for-you-speed. You’ll also try new things; sometimes begrudgingly. You’ve tried mangoes, kiwi, squash, and asparagus within the past month or so and you ate all of them. These are things we may have tried back in the day that you didn’t care for then, but seemed to tolerate now.
You’re also curious in things like ketchup, which you wouldn’t have liked before. You like ketchup with everything. You put it on your pizza the other day.
When given a cupcake, you typically only eat the frosting.
You eat your raspberries by putting them on the tips of your fingers and then eating them off one by one.
You like milk more than watered down juice and drink a lot of it. Sleeping: You still sleep with your blanket every night. Most nights you also have a small pile of toys or books you have deemed valuable next to your pillow. You always like your “stuff” nearby. You wake up around 8am, nap from roughly 1:30-4:30, and go to bed around 8:30pm. It’s been pretty steady and being that it’s the same schedule as your brother, it works out nicely. You guys sleep in the same room at night but we have to separate you for naps during the day. You rarely fight bedtime or nap time, but every now and again you surprise us. Talking: “Because” is you new favorite word. You use it all the time. Me: “Hooper, why did you hit Van?”, You: “Because”. Or better yet, Me: “Look at the cars on the freeway”, You: “Because, Mama” (which doesn’t make any sense).
“Nothing” is your other favorite word. Me: “Hooper, tell me about what you did at preschool today”, You: “Nuffing”. You’re like a little teenager already. My favorite is when you followed it with “I don’t wanna talk right now”. Ha.
You went through a phase where you’d ask us several times a day when our birthdays are. No joke, some days you’d ask more than 20 times. Needless to say, you know now when everyone’s birthday is.
You’re into telling secrets. More times than not you’ll come up to me, tell me you have a secret, and then say, “I wanna hit Van”.
The other day we were talking about the birds flying. I asked you if you’d like to fly like a bird one day and you told me, “No Mama, because I’d miss you”.
When you’re playing in the garage with Van, you’ll yell to me, “Mama, pweez come keep an eye on us!”.
Sometimes you’ll announce you have a question, “Mama, I have a question”. It’s usually followed by “Can I hit Van?” or “When’s your birthday”.
When you’re playing and I tell you it’s time for a nap, you’ll tell me, “just five minutes, Mama”. Or when I tell you to eat your food and you say, “just one second, Mama”.
You love to talk like a monkey but know we hate it so you’ll ask, “Can I do monkey talks?”. Sometimes we say yes.Development: When you see kids skateboarding or playing baseball, you say you want to do the same when you’re “bigger”. 
You go to the bathroom completely on your own. Sometimes I don’t even know you’re going until you come walking out with your pants down. We haven’t mastered the pulling your pants part up quite yet. After that, you’ll be fully independent.
Every now and again, you’ll go to the bathroom in you pants overnight. It doesn’t happen often, but we keep you in pull-ups at night just in case.
One time, when I wasn’t looking, you started to pee right on the beach. A woman started laughing and pointed you out to me and then insisted that I take a picture of it, so I have a photo of you pissing on the beach. Right after that you told me you had to make ca-ca. I asked the same lady if she wanted me to photograph that as well. She declined and we went to the restroom.
In other potty news, you demand complete privacy when you’re pooping. Every now and again you’ll grab Van’s hand and insist that he take you ca-ca. It’s funny.
You went through a phase when you were into blowing into people’s faces. Luckily it passed because it was super annoying; though it was quite humorous when we’d overhear you asking Van if you could blow him. Rules before going anywhere included: say please and thank you, no hitting, wait your turn, and no blowing on people.
You can do a forward roll. You can also hop on one foot (really well on your left, but not so well on your right). You seem to kick a ball with your left foot. You still write with your left hand but you hold utensils in your right hand. You throw, mostly, with your right.
You ask me often about my collar bones and try to grab them as if they are removable.
You request that we drive “fast” and “get” the other cars (which means we speed up and pass the car next to us).
Much to my dismay, you’re more conscious of having your photo taken. The other day I had my camera out and you sat there and gave me a full on cheese ball smile. No idea where it came from but I’m learning that it’s really hard to unteach things society teaches us.
Like a bag lady, you shuffle all your stuff around from room to room. Currently you have your small suitcase full of cars and tractors and a basket full of books. It’s heavy, even for me, and you cart it around with you everywhere. You’re very possessive of your stuff and upset when you misplace it.
You know that “H” is the first letter of your name and you’re able to draw it.
You’re sweet and sensitive. You love animals and hate to see anyone sad. You’re still my number one cuddler. Favorites: You love movies with mice in them, like Stuart Little and Runaway Ralph. You watched the movie “Cars” for the first time and love it. But if there’s one thing you could do all day, everyday, it would be playing in the garage. You have all sorts of “things” out there that you refer to as your “home” and you like sorting it and reorganizing it. The “things” include cardboard boxes, an ice chest, your bike, a broom, beach chairs, small trash cans, and other random things you’d only find in a garage. You also love to sit with a book and flip through the pages. You tell me you’re reading your book and I have no doubt that you are, in your own way. 

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Hooper @ 3.7 Years

Growth & Appearance: I put you on the scale the other day and you seem to be about 35 pounds. You hair is blonder than ever, bleached by the summer sun. You’re little bum is white compared to the rest of your body. Your nails almost always have dirt under them.Your hair is long and you’ve started brushing it out of your face with your hand, holding it out of your eyes so you can see better. You have enough hair to put into a ponytail and every now and again you will request one. We ask you if you want us to cut your hair and you say “no”.  
You have a lot of blond leg hair that glistens in the sun.
You have a natural six pack.
You wear size 3 or 4T. Pull ups / underwear size 4. And I think you’re in size 9 shoe; it’s hard to keep track. Eating: You’ve been eating well, for the most part. When you’re excited about what we’re preparing, you rub your tummy and refer to the food as “delicious”, pronounced “de-wish-is”.  
You like to slurp your milk. It’s really annoying. For a short time you’d slurp it and then spit it out all over the floor. It was really fun when Van would follow suit.
You don’t like food getting on your face or lap; you’re a clean eater. If I offer you a bite that’s too big, you say, “that’s too big for my face”, which I think is funny.
Your favorite foods are whip cream, strawberries, hot dogs, and french fries; I swear we give you healthy food most of the time, however. Hot dogs, more than anything else, are your latest jam.
You also love milk (when you’re not slurping and/or spitting it out). And butter. You like to eat butter plain, right off the knife. Gross, I know.
You keep going into the fridge, taking the cap off the juice and hiding it. The other day I found the juice in the garage and the cap in a random basket. Sleeping: You’re back to taking naps. I make it my goal each day to tire you out and it works. You wake up around 7:30 or 8am with your brother (typically he wakes you up, I think). You’re ready for a nap after lunch, around 1 or 2pm, and you usually sleep at least 2 hours, sometimes 3. You go to bed between 8 and 9. 
You still love your blanket, which you call your “dadgy”. You also insist on sleeping with a toy each night; most nights it’s a book.
When you wake up from your nap, we cuddle and you kiss you forehead and tell me, “You make me so happy”. It’s my favorite part of the day. You prefer to cuddle with me over your Papa because you say Papa, “makes you itch” (because of his facial hair). 
Talking: You’re very expressive about your feelings; you say things like “I am too mad” when you’re told you have to do something that you don’t want to do. You’ll also talk back. 
You call me “mom” from time to time and it makes me feel like you’re growing up too fast. Other times you’ll make it plural and call me “mamas” and I’m reminded that you’ll always be my baby.
For a while you were singing a song you referred to as your favorite but we could decipher the words and to this day I have no idea what your favorite song is.
When I scold you, I tell you to “look at my eyes”. I cannot tell you how many times I have overheard you scolding Van, “wook at my eyes, Van!”. Monkey see, monkey do.
You’ve started saying swear words. Specifically “f$#’n shit”; a constant reminder that we need to watch our mouths and that you hear everything we say. You use it appropriately too; like when we were in Hawaii and a lizard ran into our room and you said, “f$#’n shit”.
You say “bless you” after anyone sneezes. It’s a nice antidote to the aforementioned.
The other day you wanted me to watch something you were doing and instead of asking me to watch, you said, “Mama, turn your face around”.
When you tell people your name, sometimes you say, “Hooper, with an H” because I think you’ve heard us say that too many times. You get mistaken for “Cooper” often.
You must ask “why” a thousand times a day. I have been told by numerous strangers that I have the patience of a Saint. I tell them they have no idea. And no explanation is ever satisfactory; one why just gives way to another.
When something goes wrong, like you drop something, you say, “oh dear”.
You saw a blimp in the air and said, “Mama, wook at dat wocket (rocket)”.
You’re into potty talk. You love talking about buttholes and your “dumps”.
When a commercial comes on the TV, you look at us confused and whine about the TV “buffering”. Hash tag: Modern day kids.
You like to take it upon yourself to give Van a spanking when he does something wrong. You pronounce it “fankin”. 
Development: We call you the bossman because you think the world revolves around you and that everyone is here on the Earth to take orders from you. When you’re overly bossy, it’s usually a sign that you’re tired.
You want to know the name for anything and everything. You’ll see a bird out the window and ask me what it’s name is. You’ll see a stranger in the store and ask me what his name is. You’ll see a dog and ask what it’s name is. You’re eager to identify everything.
You can put your slip on shoes on by yourself. Occasionally it gets stuck on your heel and you get frustrated.
You constantly ask me what all the signs say… the stop sign, the crosswalk sign, the “welcome to California” sign, the handicap sign, and so on and so forth. As I said, you’re eager to identify everything.
You refer to large bodies of water, like lakes, as bath tubs; “Wook at all dos ducks in that big baff-tub, Mama”.
You no longer use the little seat over the toilet, it’s something we abandoned during the move and you’ve adapted to the big boy seat just fine. You have regressed considerably with potty training, however. Prior to moving, I’d say you were 98% trained. Now, you wake up with a dirty diaper a few times a week and have been peeing in random areas all over the house. It was a real treat when you pointed out that you peed on a pile of clothes on my floor. Luckily this only lasted a few weeks.
You are offended when inanimate objects or animals don’t talk to you. You say, “Mama, that rock / bird / crab not talkin’ to me” with a pout and a frown.
You’re able to problem solve. Like if the ball gets stuck under the sofa, you first try to retrieve it using something long like a baseball bat.
You’ve gotten more social and are more inclined to go up to a group of kids and play. You’re not one to wander far or lose sight of me, but it’s obvious you enjoy hanging out with kids your own age and it’s been nice to see you come out of your shell a bit.
You hate getting hurt. You discovered a blister on the back of your heel and spent the rest of the day requesting cuddles and limping around. We’ll have to toughen you up a bit.
You ask about Sarah less and less, but have not forgotten. You’ve settled on the fact that she got hit by a car and is with Sammy. You’re very conscious of street safety as a result and I overhear you telling Van often to look both ways. It’s pretty sweet.
You’re into collecting an odd assortment of toys and things around the house and turning them into, what you call, a fire station. Like the other day when my bed was covered with a tennis racket, a hose for the washer and dryer, a few cars, a tape measure, a plant stand, and other odds and ends. When I started to clean it up, you told me to stop messing up your fire station. You do the same thing with your “office”; you have a plastic cup with some crayons, some coins, and a few allen wrenches set on top of the kitchen bar counter. You add things like junk mail and refer to this space as your office. Again, you get very upset when I try to clean it up. And if I clean it up when you’re sleeping, you immediately notice everything that’s missing when you wake up. You let it all go quickly too, however, and go right back to building a new fire station or office.
You want your privacy when you poop and request that we leave the bathroom. You shut the door behind us and then present your poop to us like it’s a meal you spent hours in the kitchen making.
You play with your dong a lot. I wouldn’t say that here except for the fact that you’re slappin’ that thing around all the time and if (when) it happens with Van, I’d like some sort of documentation that it occurred and did not fall off. Cuz’ right now, I’m worried about that thing falling off.
You’re cautious and caring; you tell me, from the backseat, to watch out for pedestrians or bicyclists or even cars in the distance. 
Favorites: You’re still into your cars. You love building forts that you call your home. You like to throw a random assortment of crap on the bed and refer to it as your fire station (as mentioned). Curious George is still a fan favorite. And as cheesy as it is, I’m definitely on the top of your list of favorites. You tell me you love me several times a day, get downright insistent about cuddling with me, and give me the sweetest kisses all the time. 

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Three

If you’ve ever spent time with a three year old, you know that they can flip faster than Evel Knievel. Hugs turn to slugs, “I love you” ‘s to “You make me mad“, kisses to bites… you get the idea. 
When Hooper was 2, I feared 3. I have heard from many moms that two is overrated in being described as “terrible”; that three, instead, is where the real fun begins. And I agree, to some extent.
Some of my favorites ::cough cough:: ::nudge nudge::
Occasionally he’ll get upset if I stick a spoon full of food in front of his mouth because he’s “not a baby” and can “do it myselph”; though what he really means is I can do it by myself but by the time I finish it may be time for the next meal, or perhaps, I may have already died from old age.  
“I’m da boss man” or, better yet, “I’m da po-eece (police) man”. He uses these phrases when he decides reprimanding Van would be better coming from him than me. At times I truly believe he thinks he’s the one in charge of both his brother and me.
The fact he will not let me help him out of his car seat so I have to wait what feels like a thousand years for him to get out of the car (seriously, it involves him looking in his cup holder to assess what “treasures” he’s leaving behind, then holding on to his “fireman” handle, then asking repetitive questions about something totally unrelated to the matter-at-hand, followed by bossing me around and telling me to take the hand off the door as if my hand on the door is assisting him in some way and preventing him from doing it all by himself). My back thanks him for his independence, my patience wants to push him out the door and blame it on his brother.
And then there’s the other stuff that prevents me from pulling my hair out from the aforementioned…
Like when I tuck him into bed and hold his head in my hands, caressing his face. He stops my hand when I get to his cheek, caresses my hand and strokes his fingers along my forearm and tells me he loves me. And when I say “I love you too”, he tells me he loves me more.
Or when I sneeze and every time, without fail, he tells me, “bwess (bless) you, Mama”.
Or when I yell at him for something he shouldn’t have done and for the next hour he follows behind me repetitively asking, “you mad, Mama?” with such genuine and sincere concern that he has upset me in some way.
Or when I get mad at Van for doing something wrong and he comes and apologies, on his brother’s behalf.
Or the way he compliments me when he likes my dress or necklace, or the fact alone that he even takes notice.
Oh three… you have your ups and your downs.

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Hooper @ 3.4

Growth & Appearance: Your eyes are without a doubt hazel, but can easily be confused for brown. You have the same eye color as both of your g’mas. You’re getting taller and taller and lankier and lankier. Your hair is in your eyes constantly and we’ve decided to grow it out once and for all. Otherwise you’d be at the hairdressers every month. Your knees are scabbed often and you refuse to stop licking around your mouth so it is red and chapped.  
You wear a size 8 shoe, size 3T clothes. 
Eating: Your eating has gotten better and better. You’re more willing to try new things and mealtime is peaceful and easy most every night. When you don’t want to eat something, however, you say it makes you sick. It goes like this, “Hooper, wanna try some of Mama’s fish?”, to-which-you-say, “Fish make me sick, Mama”. But more times than not, you’ll eat whatever we are eating.
You like to steal sweets off the counter and hide under the kitchen table or the desk in the office and eat them.
You state your favorite food is “french fries”.  
Sleeping: You like to take a toy with you to sleep these days. Actually, more times than not, you take a book. And when you wake up in the morning, whatever toy or book you brought into bed with you is in your hand.
You refer to your top bunk as your “firehouse” and like to take an odd mish-mosh of stuff up there; the other day I removed a paint roller, a dvd, and a ton of books… all things you said you needed for your firehouse.
You don’t nap everyday, but when you do it’s around 4pm and we wake you up – if you don’t wake up on your own – around 6:30. You’re waking up a bit earlier these days, sometime in the 7 o’clock hour. You go to bed around 8:30.   
Talking: You tell me you love me at least twenty times a day. Sometimes I’ll get three I love you’s before you even get out of bed in the morning. You have a big heart and love expressing what makes you happy.
When I pick you up from preschool, you spend the entire 10 minute drive home repeating, “Mama always come back” (this is what your teachers reinforce at school).
You call us out for grabbing your butt. I think your teachers at school must tell you that it’s not okay for anyone to touch your privates, which is great, except that I like grabbing me some tush. The other day, you told me to “stop touching my ca-ca”. Apparently you think part of your butt falls off every time you poop because ca-ca has become synonymous with butt in your mind.
You started grabbing your balls the other day when you were going potty and asked me, “Waz dis Mama?”.
You call anything with a siren a “fire truck”, including the Time Warner Cable vans that have the one honky little round siren on top as well as the DWP trucks, the parking enforcement vehicles, and the utility vans.
You often ask what things are only for me to tell you and you, in turn, insist that I’m wrong. Like when you pointed to an RV, asked what it was, and then argued with me insisting that it was not an RV but instead a “baby bus”. You used to get very angry when I told you an ambulance was an ambulance and not a “baby fire truck”. Now you call them “ah-un-ence”. It’s one of my favorite words of yours.
When you hear me scold Van you like to take it upon yourself and implement whatever punishment you think he deserves. You refer to yourself as the “po-ese-man” (policeman) and I have to remind you often that Mama’s in charge.
You made up your own word, “wolf-uh-dyha”. We interpret it to be synonymous with YOLO. For example, we’ll say, “Hooper, no more hitting your brother” and you’ll respond with, “wolf-uh-dyha”. Or when I ask you, “Hooper, why are you taking your pants off?” and you respond with, “wolf-uh-dyha”.
You often ask, “Waz dat?”. Then I answer by telling you it’s a street cleaner truck (or whatever it is) and you always, as in every time, follow it with an “Uh huh, I like street queener truck” (or whatever it is that’s identified).
You use the word “real” in lots of funny ways. Like when I asked you if I could sleep in your bunk bed with you and you replied, “no Mama, you real too big” or when I told you we need to get ready to go and you told me you’re “real too busy”.
You refer to your toy wrench as a “dog ferner” and when we ask you what a “dog ferner” is, you told us it “picks up dog and down”.
You pointed out a taxi the other day and went on to say that “taxi make me happy, Mama”.
When you don’t want to do something, you refer to whatever it is as something that’s going to “make me sad”. Like when I say it’s time to go to the store and you say, “No Mama, make me sad”.
You refer to picking your nose as “queening” (aka cleaning) your nose. You “clean” your nose several times an hour. I caught you once wiping your boogers underneath the table. When I asked you about it, you replied by saying, “I keep my boogers safe”.
We can no longer have discussions between the two of us without you listening in. The other day I told Papa that you seemed tired and that I thought you needed a nap. Normally you wouldn’t respond to a conversation you were not involved in, but this time you quickly got up and said, “no, not tired Mama. No nap”. The same thing happened the other day when I was listening to the morning radio and the hosts were talking about some guy who was hoped up on goofballs (aka pills). You started laughing and proceeded to refer to your “g’ma Bic” (who was not in the car) as a goofball.
You use your hands a lot when you talk, like holding the palms of your hands up to the sky when saying you “don’t know”.  
Development:
You’re still big into the world of make believe. You would refer to Sarah as your “fire dog” (gah that hurts to have to change to past tense) and are completely obsessed with being a firemen. You love to watch the steam poor out from the side of the house when I’m doing laundry, throw your fireman hat on, and go out and “fight” the “fire”. You refer to yourself as “Norman Price” (a character on fireman Sam) constantly. You also like to pretend you get stuck, like on the top of the sofa, and yell for fireman Sam to come rescue you. You have a “fire chief” jacket at your Nina and Geepaws house that you wear the majority of the time you’re there.
Your idea of paper airplanes involves crinkling a piece of paper and throwing it into the air.
You’re sweet and sincere. You apologize for things that are clearly not your fault. Like the other day when I dropped something and you apologized for it. Or the other day when Van threw a toy in the toilet and you apologized for it. Or when you threw up all over the bathroom floor and continuously thanked me as I cleaned it all up. One morning you woke up with poo in your pull-up (which is so rare these days) and you thanked me for cleaning your butt. You also thank me for picking up your toys. You say “bless you” even if I sneeze from the other room. Your teachers at school describe you as being very sweet… except for when you’re not and on those days I’m told about your pushing / throwing / hitting antics. But those days are few and far between.
You can hop on one foot and have general knowledge of the game “hop scotch”.
You still threaten to pee on me every time you go to the potty. Actually it’s not so much as a threat as it is an expressed desire. You’re clearly eager to pee on things and put that little hose of yours to the test.
You have a new affinity for monsters. You like to go on hunts for monsters and when you come across a dark area or a large crack in the ground, you like to pretend there is a monster hiding there. You love the book “There’s a Nightmare in my Closet”.
You remind us that we need to cover our mouths when we cough.       
Favorites: You LOVE this claymation show called “fireman Sam”. You love all things fireman related, really. You also love watching real life youtube videos of garbage trucks or construction sites. You love Sarah; You love hugging her and kissing her and cuddling her and when she’s not in the room, you ask where she is. You refer to her as “my doggy”. (And I’m not even going to change that last part to the past tense now that Sarah is no longer with us, because I had written this before her untimely death and I can’t stand to change it.)

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Brothers

There was a point in time, mostly around the holidays, that you guys could not keep your hands off one another. I think a lot of it, in hindsight, had to do with all the gifts and new toys. Too many things to fight over. Hooper, you liked to do this drop kick maneuver that inevitably ended with you on top of Van. You guys were at each other non-stop; biting, pushing, shoving, toy-stealing, hair pulling… it seemed ending. You both had battle wounds to show for it; bite marks, bruises, and even some missing tufts of hair. The last few weeks, however, have been much smoother and you guys actually seem to be enjoying one another.  
Van, you get jealous when Hooper and I cuddle. You also do not like sharing my lap with Hooper when I read you guys a book.  
You like to “cheers” your cups together, Van more so than Hooper.  
You have screaming contests. It’s awesome when you do this in public.
Hooper, you see it as your duty to reprimand Van. When I tell Van to stop or scold him, you are quick to jump in and hit him.
Van, your defense is pulling Hooper’s hair. I’ve considered shaving Hooper’s head because it looks so painful.  
Every now and again, I’ll catch you guys playing in a room peacefully. My heart practically beats out of my chest when I overhear you, Hooper, teaching your brother something or directing him in some way or another. More and more you guys are becoming friends and it’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold. There are even times, as shown above, that you even  – dare I say – console your little brother.

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Malibu Creek

Oh there is something to be said for allowing time for boys to be boys. Skipping rocks, collecting sticks, dirt under the nails… it’s all part of childhood and it’s such a beautiful thing. I still need help getting the boys to and fro, but
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regardless, it’s been so nice to be feeling better and getting out a little bit more. I feel as though I’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few months and I much prefer skipping rocks into the creek instead.

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Riding on bikes with boys

Have you ever rode a bike with a toddler? I remember my mom declaring that her back was never the same after teaching us to ride our bikes. We’re not there yet with Hoop; we’re still in the training wheel phase. But, in some ways, it’s equally torturous.
“What’s that, Mama?”
He stops riding and I practically walk in to his back tire cuz I’m riding his ass.
“Sounds like some sirens off in the distance”.
“I want to see”, he says.
“Sounds like they’re gone”, and we re-mount and ride along. I ride his ass because he’s going slow.
“Wook-at-dat, Mama!”
We stop to pick some dandelions. He sniffs them and there is yellow pollen that makes a Hitler-like mustache under his nose.
Re-mount. Ride his tail.
A few yards later, we stop again. This time, we pick up sticks. Then some acorns. I answer ten more questions about the various sounds he hears.
It’s so easy to get stuck in A to B mode. When he asks to go on a bike ride, which he does daily these days, I think about leaving the house, the route we’ll take, and how that route will lead us back to the house. His mind, in it’s beautiful infancy, works much different; it’s all about the space between… The sights, the sounds,
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the things he can collect. Hashtag: things you can learn from a toddler.

Slow down, Mamas, and enjoy the ride. I don’t walk so close behind him anymore.

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Hooper @ 3.2 years

Growth & Appearance: You’ve grown taller and when you’re in shorts you can see just how long and skinny your little legs are. The weather has been windy and you’ve developed a horrible habit of licking around your mouth, resulting in redness and chapped skin. You look like you’ve just finished eating spaghetti with marinara sauce, always. You’re more inclined to wearing hats and you look adorable in the one hat we did buy you.
You’re wearing size 3T clothes and are in size 8 shoes.
 
Eating: You hate being messy and oftentimes prefer your Papa or I feeding you to avoid having to touch your food or potentially spill on yourself. Really though, I think you’re just not that interested in what you’re eating. You have no problem getting your hands dirty with french fry grease. You can still be a pain in the ass from time to time but the table is a far cry from the battlefield it used to be. We’ve all learned how to peacefully go on and we’ve let go of a lot of the distraction techniques we used to use (ie, TV during dinner).
You love bread, eggo waffles, yogurt covered raisins, bacon, pasta (you love carbs, in general), and lately, carrots. Despite these favorites, you do eat rather healthy. We rarely allow you to eat pure junk. Things like french fries are a rare treat.
The other day I caught you hiding behind the door in the office, eating banana bread with the sliest grin on your face. 
Sleeping: Naps are a rarity. Every now and then we can tell you need one and – sometimes – you’ll take one. You’ve been getting up earlier, around 7:30, which feels like a drastic difference to the days you’d sleep until 8:30. With that said, you sleep through the night with ease.
We bought you bunk beds with intentions of moving your brother in with you. You sleep on the top bunk and love it.

Talking: You say whatever you are thinking and ask about every noise or new thing you see.
Favorite sayings:
“Sorry ’bout dat Mama” (said after that time you hit me, while driving, in the back of the head with a stick)
“Waffo ready” (every time the toaster pops up, regardless of what’s in it)
“Waz dat?” (constant, these days)
“I want to hit Van” (gotta love honesty)
“Going?” (where are we going?)
“Baby fire truck” (aka ambulance)
Development: I took you to your first movie, “Walking with Dinosaurs”. It was about an hour and a half long and I came prepared with snacks to hold your attention. At one point, after getting up and down like a little whack-a-mole a thousand times, you said to me “go home, mama”. The movie sucked anyway, so I asked you to pick my purse up off the floor (I’m still on bending restrictions). You picked it up from the bottom, the contents spilling all over the place. We had to stick it out until the end when the lights came on. I retrieved my lip stick under the seats in the first aisle. It’ll be a while before I take you again.
You can ride your bike, with ease, with training wheels. We duct taped your feet to the wheels to get you started because you refused to use the pedals initially. Within seconds after removing the duct tape, you were off. You ask to go for bike rides numerous times throughout the day.
You still write with your left hand and ride your scooter with your left foot, but throw with your right hand.
You stopped sucking your two fingers a few months ago and it kinda breaks your Papa and I’s heart.
You love picking your nose and eating it.
You’re full blown potty trained and able to pull down your own pants. You lift up your ding-a-ling and threaten to pee on me often. When I tell you “no”, you proceed to point it toward the bathtub or sink or wall or trash and ask if you can pee on these things instead. The answer is the same. You prefer to crap at home.
You started preschool in the beginning of December and seem to enjoy it minus a few long faces when your Papa or I leave.
You like going on adventures, but often ask “going home?” at some point.
You love to play pretend. You’ve been a cat a lot lately and meow a lot. You ask to be pet and call your hands your paws. You also like to make pretend meals with your fake food. You also wear your cowboy boots and refer to them as your “firemen boots”.
You’re a bit bossy and seem to think you’re in charge at times. You tell us often to “stop it” and also feel as though it’s your own duty to scold Van. 
Favorites: You watched the Wizard of Oz and loved it. You love playing the “get me” game. You love cars and trucks and asked Santa for a “big truck” for Christmas. He delivered. You could watch videos of trackers on YouTube all day long. I’ve added things like excavator, impact hammer, and digger to my daily vocabulary. You also love playing “mailman”, where you go around the house delivering “packages”. You love cats and collecting coins and making piles of sticks.

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My Everyday

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