San Clemente Family Photographer-3951 brothers San Clemente Family Photographer-3961 San Clemente Family Photographer-3984 San Clemente Family Photographer-3986

Hooper, you’re becoming the master manipulator, like when you knew you weren’t allowed to watch TV so you had Van bring the remote control to Papa and had him ask instead. When questioned about it you replied, “I have Van do my jobs for me”.


Me: “If you don’t want Hooper to pull your hair, we can cut it”
Van: “Nooooo, I want to keep my hair on”


“Let me help him get on that booby”, said by you, Hooper, when Sonny was pecking like a wood pecker looking for my nipple. You also asked if we could call Sonny ‘drinker’ because he ‘drinks’ a lot.
“We better get out of here, Mom’s got serious face” – Van
We were at the beach when Hooper, you came running up to me while I was nursing Sonny, tears streaming down your face as you said, “My brother! My brother! He’s hurt”. Turns out that Van, you had stepped on a cactus, it’s thorn stuck a solid inch into your foot. You two may fight like cats and dogs, but you’re very protective of one another as well.


Van, whenever you have a friend over to play, you protect Hooper’s toys saying, “Don’t play with that, it’s my brothers”.


While cleaning out under the sofa:
Me: “Why is there so much garbage under the sofa?”
Van: “Well, sometimes we forget where the garbage is” (master of excuses)
Van to Hooper: “Hahahaha, look at Mom’s butt up in the air” (said as I’m crouched down like the bitch that I am picking up their trash)


Hooper & Van, I caught you both upstairs with your baseball gloves on using one of Sonny’s rolled up poop filled diapers as a ball.


I found you both in the downstairs bathroom with the door shut. Van, you were taking a dump and Hooper, you were dispensing candy that you had stashed away and hidden under the bathroom sink. I didn’t stop it nor confiscate the candy because it seemed as if hiding from your mom in the bathroom, taking a dump together, and eating stolen candy is like a right of passage.


“Let’s chase her and put peanuts in her butt” – Van to Hooper in regards to Hooper’s on-again-off-again girlfriend at school.


Hooper: “Mama, how come Sonny’s balls are bigger than mine?” (said while watching me change Sonny’s diaper while simultaneously pulling his underwear down to compare)

Me: “Because when you’re cold your balls get smaller”

Van: “Ya, his are bigger than mine too!!” (also pulls down his underwear to compare)

Hooper: (pointing at Van’s penis) “Look Van, your peep is big!”

Van: (proceeds to flex his “peep”, making it go up and down)


“Mama, he’s copying my words” – said by either of you depending on who’s being the copycat asshole in the present moment.


Then there was the sword fight in the bathroom that ended in a real fight and resulted on a fair amount of urine on the wall. At least you guys didn’t make fun of my butt while I cleaned it up.


Hooper: “Mama, I know why Sonny is crying”
Me: “Why?”
Hooper: “I pinched him because he pulled my hair”

Post Birth Ramblings

San Clemente Family Photographer-3749 Sonny San Clemente Family Photographer-3914Hooper came home from school with his belly button painted purple and red looking like a makeup artist got ahold of him and gave his belly button a good bruising. When questioned about it, he said he wanted his belly button to look like Sonny’s.

As Sonny laid curled up into me in the hospital bed, I couldn’t help but think how the kicks from him while inside me were so reminiscent of the kicks I felt with him lying next to me.

One of the nurses commented as I ate my meal over a breastfeeding Sonny that I must not be a first time mom. It sure is a lot easier the third time around.

I’ve always said that the newborn phase isn’t really for Willy and I, that we’d rather jump right into the toddler phase. But I guess with each child you gain a better sense of just how fleeting and unforgiving time is and for whatever reason, I’m really enjoying this newborn phase. Willy too.

Questions asked by the boys: Why doesn’t he open his eyes? Can we watch him suck your booby? Mama, when are you going to fill your belly up again? When will he be able to tell jokes?

Hooper broke out into full crocodile tears when he had to go home from the hospital without Sonny and I. Through choked up words and flowing tears, he said, “I want mama and Sonny to come home too”. Broke. My. Heart. He also cried heavily after Jimmie accidentally scratched Sonny.

Highlights from the hospital: lavender towels delivered by the sweetest of volunteers and home made chocolate chip cookies.

My first day home I watched Van pick a very large sized booger and was actually relieved when he put it in his mouth, allowing me to stay sitting on my injured lady parts.

Van, being to boob man that he is, shared the following observation: “Wow, mama, that is the biggest I have ever seen your booby”. Followed by, “Can I squeeze it?”.

Speaking of boobs, Hooper made one out of his legos. He used a long stick looking lego for the nipple and it resembled the fembots from Austin Powers.

Jimmie spent the first week of Sonny’s life rather out of sorts. He welcomed him home by peeing all over the hallway floor, the stairs, and the landing area.

I’ve rediscovered sleeping on my back, which never felt like something to write home about before but is nothing short of a privilege now.

My doctor’s response when I told him we’d like to save the placenta, “Um, okay. Gross”.

The following conversation took place:
Van: “How come your tummy is still big?”
Me: “Cuz there’s still gunk in there”.
Van: “But gunk only comes out of your ears”.

Willy, on having another boy: “It’s nice not having to wipe poop out of a vagina”…

My vagina itched in the worst way possible following the delivery. It’s one thing to be awoken by your newborn baby, but it’s an entirely different thing to be awoken by my own labia. In any event, desitin worked magically. Take notes.

I had made a list of things to do once I felt labor coming on on the back of a tear away calendar. When I came home from the hospital, I turned the list over only to discover that I had written it on March 17. Here I am visiting the magic eight ball’s website trying to figure out when this baby would come when all I had to do was look on the back of my pre-labor to-do list.

Van peed in his bed one night, followed by throwing up in his bed the night after that. Willy has been in charge of household duties so Van spent the next two nights sleeping on semi-barf sheets.

I texted my mom “shit just got real” the morning Van woke up with said throw up. I thought that day would be the day that would do me in but it was the next day, when Van was back to being healthy, that the first I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this tears started flowing. Luckily, they came and went.

I’m eating my placenta, which sounds better than the truth which is I had it encapsulated. I’ve never had post partum depression but as soon as I heard that it could* help with post partum hair loos, you better believe I was in.

Sonny’s belly button stump smells like an ape’s armpit. We ended up using alcohol on it to speed up the falling-off-process and I’m happy to report that the problem has been resolved.

Willy caught a video of me giving birth and I’ve only been able to watch it once or twice. In fact, every time Sonny cries that high-pitched newborn cry I am reminded of that video and equally troubled as the first time I saw it.

Sonny’s balls are the size of the rock of Gibraltar.

Van refers to the suction/bottle part of my breast pump as “water blasters” and has taken to carrying them around the house, one in each hand, shooting them like you would a gun.

Hooper asked if he could carry Sonny down the stairs, pointing out the fact he’s 5 and therefore totally trustworthy.



You don’t even know how much you love each other. Despite fighting often, you long for one another. Whenever Van is sleeping, you, Hooper, want to make him up. And when you play together, it’s clear you adore one another. You are best friends whether you want to admit it to yourselves or not, though sometimes you do actually refer to one another as your best friend. So there’s that.
Hooper, you convinced Van to carry your boots that were bothering you on a hike. Van, you were stoked to be carrying the boots and seemed unaware that you were manipulated into carrying them.
Van, you’re better at sharing with Hooper than Hooper is at sharing with you.
You both call fire hydrants “firemen boo-pas” and Ninja Turtles “engine turtles” and every now and again you both refer to me as “Coco” (no idea why) or “Princess” (also no idea why); the latter not as delightful as it sounds when said in the context in which it’s used, “Princess, can you make me a snack?” or “Clean my butt, Princess”.
You defend each other. If one of you gets in trouble, the other one will say “stop being mean to my brother”.  Anytime you get in trouble, it’s obviously justified, but I can’t help setting my anger aside when you stand up for one another.
You both love the song “You & Me” by Penny & The Quarters. You both ask, “Mama, was dis song?” every time it comes on.
I came home to a large pile of hair on the counter. I’m pretty sure you left a bald spot on Hooper’s head that will take a least a year to grow back. Van, you can be relentless with your hair pulling. You’re lucky we shave your head.

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Hooper tells Van to put his finger in the fan. He’ll do almost anything Hooper tells him to do. He’s touched several cacti around the house, per Hooper’s request.
Dance parties. They involve both boys hopping around on one foot and pumping one arm up in the air like a monkey.
They get upset about imaginary things that don’t even really happen, like when Hooper pretends to poor water out of an empty tube and Van comes crying to me about Hooper dumping water on him. Or when they’re strapped into their car seats and Hooper says, “Van, I’m going to hit you” even though he can’t even reach him and Van cries and tells on Hooper for hitting him.
They get asked often if they’re twins. It’s hard for me to see; they’re so different developmentally.
They spend the majority of their time at home in the garage, where they ride their bikes in small circles or build forts or play with dead cockroaches.
The other morning I heard Hoop say, “Van, your hair is so awkward”.
Both ask to see their poo. If I’m changing Van’s diaper, Hooper wants to see it. If Hooper takes a dump in the toilet, Van wants to see it. And Hooper wants to tell everyone all about his dumps.
Along the same lines, Hooper prefers that Van take him to the bathroom. Willy and I are always asked to wait outside, but he’ll pull Van by the hand and ask him to take him potty. I can hear them whispering to one another about really random things through the door.
They’re both eating a lot of raspberries because they like putting them on their fingers and eating them off. They giggle at one another the whole time.
Van is only bothered by a toy being taken from him half of the time. Unfortunately, this happens 1,000 times a day which means I’m guaranteed to referee at least 500 fights.

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A few things about boys

As the mother of two boys, I cannot speak on behalf of raising a girl. What I can say is that when I was a teenager, I told my mom I hated her. More than once. I remember a senior trip to Mexico that my friends and I all planned on going to to celebrate graduation from high school. High school, as in I was seventeen and wanting to go to Mexico… where they flip you upside down and shake you after taking shots of tequila so it gets to your brain faster and where you can buy just about anything you need a prescription for here without a prescription, like Viagra. Not that I wanted Viagra or to be shook upside down for that matter. I couldn’t understand, at the time, why my mom wouldn’t let me go (somehow my dad got out of these things scotch-free… all my disgust was always directed toward my mom even when the decisions – like not allowing me to go to Mexico – were made between the two of them). Every boundary felt so personal; it never felt like a decision made for my personal well-being but instead like a decision made to ruin my life. In hindsight, it was out of love, of course.
When I became pregnant with Van a lot of the other nurses at work were hoping it was a girl. People told me I needed a girl. I couldn’t, and still can’t, wrap my head around needinga daughter. Karma is a bitch, so-they-say, and – well – the idea of having a daughter who will eventually hate me when I won’t let her go to Mexico because of fear she’d be gang raped doesn’t sound so peachy. When I found out Van was indeed a boy, there was a lot of sighs and encouragement to have a third. Willy wanted Van to be a girl as well. I always wanted him to be a boy. I always knew, even before becoming pregnant, that I would be a mother to boys. And yet, I felt this weird sort of disappointment when I found out Van was a boy; it was a feeling similar to “another husband?”… “but I already have one of those“. As the reality sunk in, it hit me that my disappointment was not disappointment at all but rather projected disappointment that others were feeling for me. It clouded my own excitement for what I instinctively knew all along: I was going to be the mother to two boys.
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I cannot sit at my computer for more than five minutes without one of my munchkins climbing onto my lap and requesting to watch a tractor video. These are not cartoons, but literally tractors working on construction sites. I know all about excavators, vacuum trucks, impact hammers, bulldozers, and dump trucks. Every Friday, you’ll find the three of us sitting curbside as the garbage trucks go by. Outside our front door is a beloved pile of sticks. I’ve had a worm in my bed. Hooper has told me he likes the dress I have on and he rubs my arm in a sweet loving embrace and tells me he loves me multiple times a day.
Sure, there will be hard times with boys too. It isn’t always going to be easy and fun. It isn’t always easy and fun even now. They too may hate me one day when I don’t let them go to Mexico. The point being, I don’t think I’m missing out.
I think of having a third often. The more my body heals, the less daunting it seems. I’ve always said I wanted three. And, for the record, it won’t be a final attempt at having a girl. I would love three boys.

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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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Childhood Unplugged

The toy store is still safe. And by “safe”, I mean we can take them there without them thinking they can have everything; or anything for that matter (note to self: don’t take Van away from the bikes). We came home empty handed and without any tears (any lingering tears, that is), so I came home and wrote this day down in the books because I’m pretty sure it was the last time we’ll be so lucky.
Please click here to see the submissions of my fellow photographers taking part in the Childhood Unplugged movement. And remember to follow on facebook and instagram (use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured). 

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One night, as some friends and I walked out of our book club meeting, I said, “Lately I’ve been feeling very wistful. Childhood is speeding by so fast. It’s such a cliche, but it’s true.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” one friend answered. “Whenever I get annoyed by the mess stuck to our refrigerator door, or about having to keep a stroller in the hallway of my apartment, I remind myself that these are the good old days.”Gretchen Rubin (as seen here too)
Side note: Many congrats to Darby, you are the winner of the Little Sweet Pea


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Dear Hooper & Van,
And just like that, you like each other. Well, some of the time at least. Van, whenever you’re napping, Hooper wants to see you. Like really wants to see you; as in he pulls at my leg and tugs at my arm until I get up off my butt and walk toward your door. Hooper, you’re always disheartened when I tell you Van is sleeping.
That little tidbit is first and foremost.
Hooper, you’re learning to share you toys and your space. Not that you have much of a choice, as Van is constantly in your space and constantly wanting to do whatever you’re doing. Your answer to this is to move him out of the way. I’ve caught you trying to drag him from underneath his armpits until he’s out of your path. You need to eat some more protein, however, because more times than not you are not able to move him and you’re left having to ask for help cuz’ he’s “heav-vee” (heavy).
Loving how you love each other… at the moment, anyway.

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Motherhood has such a way of slapping you in the face, doesn’t it? I mean I’ve found myself wishing for something one minute, only to get it the next and curse it through and through regardless. Like the day Van was born and I “couldn’t wait” for him to get to know his brother. Now he knows his brother and you know what? His brother’s one big bully. Now I find myself eager for the day Van can stand and balance, and well, fend for himself. Though I know I’ll be cursing those days where they’re here too.
Anyone have any helpful hints on building a friendly sibling relationship? I can practically hear my mom laughing through the computer screen.
Side note: You have two more days to enter the giveaway for a $50 gift card to Sweet Threads. You can enter here. And don’t forget about their grand opening in Long Beach (see post for details). I’ll announce the winner on Friday. I consider Shella, the face behind Sweet Threads, so thank you for supporting those close to me.
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Hooper & Van

Dear Hooper & Van,
Van, you’re experimenting with new sounds. Oftentimes this means it sounds like there is an Indian in the back of our car. Hooper, you like to copy him by cupping your hand over your mouth and making whatever noise he is making back at him. It’s pretty cute and it’s, truly, the first conversation you two have had.
Hooper, for the most part you’re pretty good at sharing (and by pretty good, I mean that you’re pretty good on your terms. If I ask you to share, you’re not so good). The other day we were at the beach and Van started playing with one of the buckets you were not using. You came over, took the bucket from Van, and moved it about 6 feet away from him. Then you went back to playing with the bucket you were using beforehand.
Van, you long to be a part of Hooper’s world. Hooper, you had the portable vacuum and were pretending to clean up. Van followed you all. over. the. house. while you “cleaned up”. It’s amazing how much interaction can take place in the absence of conversation.
Have a funny sibling story? Do share.

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