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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Van @ 23 Months

Growth & Appearance: Your hair remains oddly thick and coarse. We stopped shaving it in the midst of moving and have agreed to let it grow out mostly by default. As it’s grown out, it’s gotten blonder and blonder. It’s almost white now. A friend of ours said you look like Rod Stewart and your Papa and I agree. I mean, look. We’re considering a Rod Stewart costume for Halloween. Sorry.  
You have scratches on your face and neck constantly from your brother, who likes to choke you. You have one running down your entire forehead and a matching one on your temple. You take many beatings from Hooper.
You feel like you weigh a thousand pounds. You’re dense. You’re in size 5 diapers and wearing 2 or 3T sized clothes. You appear enormously tall next to other kids your age.
We refer to your feet as potato feet; they’re round and chubby. The bottom of your feet are black, always. You downright refuse to keep your shoes on. As soon as we get you in the car seat, you fling your shoes off. I don’t even put them on now until we get where we are going. I don’t even know what size you wear. I think it’s a size 7.
You have a diaper tan.
Both of your two year molars on the top left and bottom left are in. The bottom right should be popping through soon. It’s more apparent when you’re teething now than it was when you were a baby; you’re grumpier, more volatile, and you don’t eat much.  
Eating: There is no manipulating you at the table; you will either eat it or you won’t. When you say you’re done, you mean it. Sometimes this means you’ll eat all of one thing and nothing of anything else on your plate and I’ve simply learned to let it go. You eat a lot so it’s easy to let your phases of finicky eating go. And for the most part, you’re only finicky when you’re teething. All in all, you’re still a championship eater.
You can fit a ridiculous amount of food in your mouth and it’ll be gone within a couple seconds.
You love water bottles but haven’t figured out how to conquer that whole back-washing bit. When you’re done with the water bottle, it looks like a dirty fish tank. You can drink out of a cup but we still use sippy cups because we’re lazy and hate cleaning up more than we have to.
Your favorite foods as of late are bananas, peaches, zucchini, pasta, but you’ll eat most anything and everything. You tend to favor watered down juice over milk, but you still drink a lot of milk. You love snacks.
You ask for utensils but more often than not end up using your hands.
Sleeping: You and Hooper are sharing a room. You are sleeping in a twin bed with a toddler rail. You wake up around 7:30am and nap around 1:30 for about 3 hours. You go to bed around 8 or 9pm.
You sleep with your blanket but don’t seem overly attached to it. We also allow you to pick a toy to sleep with each night; it’s usually a different toy each time and more times than not it’s a book.
You do well with sharing the room with Hooper but you two are not able to nap together. Instead, we put you in the pack n’ play either in the spare bedroom or in the bathroom. I hear you guys each morning “pwaying py-rits” (playing pirates) over the monitor.
The other night I awoke to hear you yelling and found you covered, head to toe, trapped in your sheet like a ghost. 
Talking: When you want some of whatever we are eating you say, “sch-um” (aka, some) varying degrees of urgency depending on whether we give it to you right away, or not.
You’ve also started putting words together. It started with an abnormally long pause between the words; like if it’s cold outside, you say “coh’d”—–“side”. Then you started saying the words without the pause and now you’re stringing together three or more words.
Your first complete sentence was clear as day, “I want down”. And down you went.
You say “yes” very distinctly. We ask you a lot of questions that we know you will say “yes” to because we love hearing it.
You are your brother’s parrot; whatever Hooper says, you too try to say.
You have tons of words in your vocabulary and while it’s more or less easy for us to decipher what you’re saying, you still speak a foreign language to others.
Your laugh is deep and hardy and comes straight from your belly.
Development: You love to spray things with a water bottle but you cry when someone turns the water bottle on you. 
You’re interested in potty training. I’ve put you on the toilet several times and you’ve peed successfully. You’re also starting to hide when you poop, which I think means you’re getting closer to being ready for official training. We haven’t dove in head first, but we’re splashing around. We’re rewarding you with a tic-tac. You request “tac”—“two”. As of late, you wake up with a dry diaper and go to the potty first thing in the morning. You don’t ask to go during the day.
Anytime we ask you a question that’s answer is a numerical value, you say “two”. So how old are you, how many fish are there, how many grapes do you want… the answer is always two. No matter what.
Same goes for colors. The answer is always red, regardless of whether there is red or not. We try to set you up for success and only ask you what color things are when we see something red… like fire trucks.
You can jump off of a higher surface. In fact, without fail, each time we get to the last step of whatever staircase or stairwell, you insist on jumping off. You throw the biggest tantrum ever on the beach in Maui because you did not want to leave a rock you were jumping off over and over.
You ask to hold our hand when you’re going downstairs but are able to do it by yourself without a problem when we’re not around.
You can catch and kick and hit a ball. Papa’s pretty impressed with  your drop kick.
You’ll sit and watch a cartoon, which is new. Bob the Builder is your favorite.
You’re scared of monsters. When we need you to listen, we tell you a monster is coming so you better “X”. It works 90% of the time.
You are destructive; you like chewing things up and knocking things over and taking things off and throwing things all over the place.
It’s obvious you’re a younger sibling; you’re obsessed with things being yours. If you get down off the sofa to go play with a toy and your Papa and I take over sitting where you were once sitting, you will come up and insist we move, declaring the seat yours. You get things taken from you left and right, so I get it.
You’re not much a cuddler. When you get hurt, you run to me but within a second of being in my arms you’re off and running as if nothing happened. I don’t think you’d even come to me for comfort if it wasn’t something that you’ve seen Hooper do; I think you’ve learned it from him but don’t need it whatsoever. 
Favorites: Balls. Oh my, you have a ball in your hand almost constantly; tennis balls, soccer balls, basketballs, golf balls, bouncy rubber balls, beach balls… it matters not. You love holding the tennis racket over your shoulder and using it as a baseball bat. You also have a mean drop kick and some pretty good ball-catching skills. No matter where we go, you seem to find a ball. Within seconds of arriving at a park, you will have a ball – that does not belong to you – in your hands. We went to an open field the other day and you found a golf ball in the dirt. I’m convinced the balls find you just as well as you find them.
You love picture books and request to read the same books over and over and over again.
You also love riding on your Papa’s skateboard. Somehow it made it’s way from the garage to the family room. You like to sit on it or lay on your stomach and push around on your feet. Sometimes you’ll come up to me and ask to hold your hands so you can stand and try to balance.

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Van @ 19 Months

Growth & Appearance: At your well-baby check-up this month your height was 35 1/4 (96%), your weight was 28.5 (70%), and your head circumference was 19 1/8 (70%).

Eating: You love food. It’s still so interesting to compare the differences in eating habits between you and your brother. I’ll put two scrambled eggs on each of your plates, for example, and you’ll literally shove 1/3 of what’s on your plate into your mouth and swallow it within seconds while your brother will spit out a small bite protesting that the bite was “too big”. The other day I gave you a hamburger and held off on giving you any french fries until you were done with the burger. I waited until you put your last bite in and then put a fry on your plate. You literally took the burger out of your mouth, and I swear you had half
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of that burger shoved into every little crevice of your mouth, and proceeded to eat the french fry instead. So while you love eating just about anything and everything, you definitely have preferences.

When you’re done eating you throw everything off the table like one of those crazy musicians who breaks his guitar at the end of his show. The other day you threw your sippy cup at my glass cup which broke into a thousand pieces on the floor.
You love to eat ice. So much so that you now open the cupboard and pull out one of the tupperware bowls that I typically put it in and hand it me requesting for “ice, ice” over and over again until I give in. After every meal, you climb up onto my lap and try to get the ice out of my cup.
You also love Altoids.

Sleeping: You’re doing well in your big boy bed. For the most part, you take your naps without much fuss. The other day, however, you protested and by the time you were finally quiet I peeked in and was unable to open the door; you fell asleep right up against the door.
You are afraid of the dark. You don’t even like walking at night and whine to be held or reach for one of our hands to hold.
You took off your pants and diaper the other day during your nap and wiped your shit all over the pillow and sheets. That was fun.

Talking: You started saying “no” and shaking your head and, at times, even crossing your arms across your chest in defiance. It’s so darn cute that we often ask you things we know you’ll say no to just to see you wildly shake your head in protest. Othertimes, it’s not so cute. The terrible twos are approaching quickly.
You say a ton of words that mostly only those who take care of you on a regular basis can understand. You say “please” and “thank you”. You probably have somewhere in the ballpark of 100 words in your vocabulary but you are not stringing them together in sentences.

Development: You’re warm and welcoming and friendly. You’ll go to anyone, like the other day when you went up to the guy working on our house and requested for him to hold you. Or the other day when someone was over to pick something up that I had sold on craigslist and you grabbed her by the finger to accompany you outside. Then there was the day you tripped and fell outside a restaurant and went to the first person you looked up and saw for comfort; it was a complete stranger.
All the sudden you became a champion scooter rider. You can go fairly fast and without stopping. You lead with your right foot and push with your left.
You have a new found insistence in wanting things to go your way. You have your own ideas of what you want to do and how you want to do them.
You love spraying spray bottles filled with water but you often mistakenly hold it in the wrong direction and end up spraying yourself in the face.
You can jump with two feet off the floor but it takes some pre-jumping warm ups to get it going. You love trying though.
You love latching your belt of your high chair together and putting t
ogether your carseat buckle as well.
I allowed you to paint with Hooper the other day and aside from the few brush strokes that you put on your paper, most of the paint ended up in your mouth and hair.
You can point out all the different animals in your picture books, including bunnies, horses, dogs, cats, penguins, fish, frogs, and so on and so forth. You fold your hands up into your armpits and quack when you see a picture of a duck.

Favorites: You still love to read. Goodnight Moon is still one of your favorites. You love cookies and candy. You love music and dance like no ones watching. And, really, anything Hooper is playing with becomes a fast favorite.

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Van @ 18 Months

Growth & Appearance: You’re still a big kid. You look like a 2 year old but waddle like an 18 month old. Your hair is blond and thick. We shave it often. Currently you have a scab on your knee and a scratch of unknown origin the side of your right eye. We can no longer leave you in just a diaper because you take it off every time. Even with shorts on the other day, I saw you trying to pull the thing off. Not sure that it’s quite time to potty train; I think you just like to be naked. 
You have all your teeth, next ones should be the two year molars.
You wear a size 2T clothes / PJ’s, size 6 shoes, size 4 diapers. 
Eating: You’re a tank. You love to eat and waddle as fast as you can over to your high chair as soon as you see food being made. Sometimes you require a snack just to shut you up until the food is ready to be put in front of you. You prefer to have a fork in your hand and are okay at using a spoon, but more times than not you use your hands because you can shovel it in faster.
You’ve consumed entire meals before your brother takes his first bite.
You love blueberries, cereal, carrots, cheese, oatmeal, banana… who am I kidding… there’s really not anything that you don’t like. You love eating ice.Sleeping: You’re still taking two naps a day. You wake up around 8:30 and nap around 10:30 for two hours. You nap again in the afternoon around 4:30 for an hour and a half or so. You’re not the most fun to be around on the days where you miss your nap. 
We’re hoping to switch you over to the bottom bunk. We took you out of the crib and you are now sleeping in a big boy bed in your own room. Eventually we hope to put you and Hooper in the same room. You’ve transitioned out of the crib okay but nap time is more like whack-a-mole. We’ll keep at it, with fingers crossed. You love your blanket, as well as your stuffed animals. But your blanket is a must.
You still suck your thumb and put on your “hand hat” when you’re tired.
Talking: You say a ton of words and communicate well. The other day you handed me your empty sippy cup, asked for my “hand”, told me to “come”, and led me straight to the fridge where you pointed at your sippy cup and whined. You just started saying “thank you”, which is the first time you’ve put two words together. You also say “pee” for “please” and “side” when you want to go outside. Every time we go over a speed bump, you say “bump”.
You follow directions well.
Development: You started a little gym class and go with the nanny since I’m still unable to lift you. She says you’re the tallest in your class and you do well with everything. The balls, she says, are your favorite.
You join in on the bike rides by pushing your feed off the pavement as opposed to pedaling. Your shoes are all warn in from where you push off and one time, when you went out without shoes, you came in with wounds on your big toes from pushing. It won’t be long until you can reach the pedals.
Your laugh is as hearty as can be and seems to come from deep down in your belly. You love to be around laughter and occasionally snort when you laugh; it’s adorable.
You love being chased.
Perhaps it’s a second child thing, but you definitely have a sense of what is yours (of what you want to be yours) and refer to things as “mine”, accompanied with a whine and / or cry.
You’ve discovered that the computer is pretty cool and I can no longer sit at my desk without you climbing onto my lap. Sometimes you simply want to draw with a pen, other times you want to smack all the keys on the keyboard, and other times you request to watch a video on YouTube (you love the Fox Song and any nursery rhyme and all the truck / fire engine videos that your bro loves).
You love to steal my pen and get pissed anytime I’m writing with one and won’t hand it over.
Following in the footsteps of your brother, you love to do what we’ve coined as “the grandfather” (where you walk around hunched over and shuffle your feet like a little old man) and “fancy feet” (where you stomp your feet back and forth in quick succession).
You refuse to go down steps by yourself and ask for one of our hands to hold. You finally did it by yourself the other day, but it took a lot of coaxing.
Favorites: You love to have books read to you over and over and over again. Your favorites are “Goodnight Moon”, “I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”, and any beginner books that has cars or trucks. You ask me to sit and then plant your little bottom in my lap constantly. You’re fascinated anytime a police car or fire truck goes by with their sirens on and you could sit behind the wheel and pretend to drive the car all day long. You also love to put your hands under the facet in the bathroom. And, of course, you love cars.

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Van @ 15+16 Months

Growth & Appearance: You gained a lot of teeth over this last month. I have yet to take official inventory for fear of my fingers lives, but I believe you have all your molars and canines. I pretty sure you spent the two weeks I was in the hospital teething, so at some point you owe your Papa an apology for your sour moods.
At your well-baby check-up this month you weighed 26.5 lbs and were in the 98th percentile for height. According to the doc, you’re on track to be 6’4 200 lbs. It’s weird to think of you being taller than me. 
Eating: I love that we’re more laid back with  your eating. We pay more attention to what you eat over the course of a week as opposed to a single day. When you’re teething, especially, you don’t eat much. You may skip an entire meal. But the following day you seem to be a bottomless pit. So, we remain laid back. There’s no tricking you into eating more anyhow, when you’re done you’re done and you get pissed when we try to tell you differently.
You hold your cup up for a solid “cheers” several times throughout a meal.
You’re still drinking whole milk and you eat everything we give you.
You don’t even look at your food before filling the palm of your hand and shoving it in your mouth. As soon as you know food is being made, you walk over to your high chair and start whining saying, “chair, chair”. 
Sleeping: You’re a fantastic sleeper. You wake up around 8:30am, nap from 10:30 to 1:15pm, then again from 4-6pm, and go to bed around 8:30pm. We’re talking about moving you and your brother into the same room and I’m hoping your sleep pattern doesn’t suffer as a result. It’s out plan to move you out of the crib and into bunk beds with your brother so we can put all your toys in a room and call it a playroom.
You wake up happy, always.  
Talking: You know a ton of words. Papa and I understand much of what you say, but to other’s I’m pretty sure it sounds like a foreign language. Words we understand: hot, help, down, done, sit, come, broom, outside, car, truck, cookie, dog, trash, thank you, cheers.
If you’re not able to use your “words”, you whine. And you whine a lot. Between your limited vocabulary, your whining, and your directing us by pulling or pointing, it’s pretty clear what you want. You’re a good, though relentless, communicator in that sense. 
Development: I probably should have noted this last month, but boy have you discovered the world above you. A plane does not fly overhead that you don’t notice.
You are determined to get what you want and show your emotions when things don’t go your way. Toddlerhood seems to be just around the corner.
You know where your ears, hair, head, belly, and eyes are. For whatever reason, you’re having a hard time with your nose.
Your personality is fun and you’re always looking to laugh. I’ll even catch you mid-meltdown, make a funny face, and your tears will quickly turn to smiles and laughter.
You yell to get what you want. I suppose this is typical second child antics. When you finish your milk, for example, you wave your cup up in the air and shriek until someone takes it from you to refill.
You’re able to jump off your two feet.
You love to pick up trash and bring it to the trash can. 
Favorites: You love to mimic Hooper. You watch everything he does and try your hardest to replicate. And so, you love stacking the toy cars on top of  one another. You’re more into the cars than ever before.
You also love the “Fox Song” and drag us over to the computer often repeating “fox” over and over again.
You love your toy broom and dust pan and anything else your brother is playing with. And your giraffe… You ride that thing around the entire block. It’s on it’s last leg.

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Three Years Old

Growth & Appearance: You got a trim this month after your neck presumably started hurting after having to tilt your head up so you could peer through the hair in your eyes. You’re already due for another hair cut and I think your Papa and I agree that it needs to be cut shorter, otherwise we’ll be cutting it every month.
Your feet and nails are always dirty, proof of the amount of time you spend outdoors.
You had your 3 year well-toddler check up. You weigh 32.5 lbs and are in the 70th percentile for both height and weight. You’re on track to be just like your Papa, 6’1, 160 lbs.
Eating: Slowly but surely you’ve become “one of us” at the table. You eat the same food we do and do not require some ridiculous distraction to get a bite of food in your mouth. Not that all is dandy… you try to get up 20x during a meal and we’re constantly reeling you back to the table. I’m pretty sure Papa has threatened to tape you to your chair, but I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that so forget I said it.
You hate making a mess. You often whine when a bite of food lands on your shirt or when food spills off your plate. You require a napkin during mealtime so you can clean your messes.
I should also note that you still rely on us often to put the spoon or fork in your mouth. It’s ridiculous and, again, I’m embarrassed to admit it. You’re more than capable to do it on your own so long as we’re willing to sit there all. day. long. while you take you sweet ass time.
Talking: The other weekend, Papa took you to an outdoor market. You found a basket of old cars and Papa allowed you to chose one. He said you had a handful of cars in one hand until you came upon a tow truck and dropped every car that was in your hand and proclaimed, “WOWWWW”. You came home with a tow truck.
You’re very polite, always saying please and thank you.
Over this past month, you’ve added a lot of words to your vocabulary and are able to express yourself quite well. There isn’t anything that you don’t say and, these days, there’s very few moments where you’re not talking. The doc says you’re right where you should be.
You love saying “hola” (hello in Spanish) and “adios” (goodbye in Spanish).
There was a period where you answered everything with “shore” (sure). For example, “Hooper can you pick up that toy?”, and you’d say, “uh huh, shore”.
Sleeping: You rarely nap anymore, though you get cranky around 6 or 7pm and we are left to deal with your crazy shenanigans until we put you to bed. Some days you actually ask to take a nap but it’s so close to dinner and bedtime that we chose to keep you awake.
You sleep great over night for a solid 11-12 hours. And more times than not, your pull-up is dry when you wake up.
When you wake up, you yell at the top of your lungs “HA-WOAHHH” (hello!), followed this morning by “I gotta go potty!”.
Development: You’re beyond ready for preschool. As soon as my back is healed, that’s top on our list.
You love to lock doors.
You fully understand that I am recovering from a big “owie” and you often like to “make mama happy” by giving me a hug.
Sometimes, usually when you’re whining at the dinner table, you’ll say, “I wanna cry”. I tell you that you can if you’d like and you just smile.
You’re bound to cut your head open one of these days because no matter how many times we say “no”, you won’t stop jumping on the sofa.
You have a clear understanding of what’s yours and what’s not and that it’s not okay to touch or play with things that aren’t ours. When we walk past a motorcycle, for example, you look at me with your little palms held up to the sky and say, “not hours” (not ours).
You love to make funny faces and dance crazy in front of the mirror, wildly waving at yourself and turning around in circles.
You’re fully potty trained. One day you asked to make ca-ca in the toilet and ever since that random day, you poop in the potty. Sometimes you’ll fake us out and drag us into the bathroom what seems like a 100 times before you actually go… but you do eventually go.
You help me empty the dishwasher by putting the utensils away. You also help me feed Sarah.
You’re able to ride the bike g’paw Niles bought you for your birthday. It’s a tricycle and you finally figured out how to push on the petals after Papa taped your feet to them.
You surprised us when you got alphabet letters to put in the bath and you knew many of the letters. Hashtag: Thanks Super Why.
Favorites: You and your brother love watching The Fox Song on YouTube. Your favorite part is the grandma sitting in the rocking chair in the forest. Every time, without fail, you point and say “whook at gamp-paw” and proceed to chuckle. Every time.
Cars, tractors, trucks, bikes… things with wheels still rock your world.
You love playing outside, going for walks, or riding your bike.

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Hooper @ 34 Months

Growth & Appearance: You have little blond hair on your legs that cute me out every time I take notice of them.
You seem to have gone through a growth spurt and have longer legs than I remember you having just last month.
Your hair is constantly in your face. We’ve tried putting some gel in so that it’s tucked off to the side but that only seems to work for a short while. Still waiting on it to be long enough to tuck behind your ears. 
Eating: Feeding you isn’t the pain in the ass that it used to be. Mealtimes are much quicker and relatively painless these days. You’re still hesitant about trying new things, but with encouragement and/or threats, you will give something new a try. You eat whatever we’re eating for dinner every night and without much fuss. In fact, for the first time ever, you’re requesting snacks. I think you must be going through a growth spurt. I will, however, say that you often spit your food out, declaring a bite “too big”, which is annoying. We’re also still having to feed you the majority of the time because you just aren’t interested otherwise. If we left it up to you, we’d be at the table all day long with a full plate of food.
You give what we call “dinner hugs” every night at dinner, but mostly only to me. I love it.
You like to pretend to bring us food and after giving us the piece of paper you refer to as a “donut” you ask, “nuff?”, to which I always reply “no”, and you bring me more. 
Sleeping: Some days you nap, other days you don’t. It’s quite obvious when you need a wee little rest but even then, at times, you fight it. More times than not, it depends on what you did the day before.
Here’s your schedule: Wake up between 8:30 and 9, nap around 4 for an hour or two, bed around 9. Talking: You still talk like Curious George a lot, using grunts and groans with different emphasis to get your point or your question across. I refuse to put Curious George on anymore. You’ve been learning about the alphabet instead, and surprisingly, you’re into it. Typical first born, I suppose.
Funny things you say:
“Mama hold you” (mama hold me)
“Mama see dat?” (mama did you see that?)
“Put brodder HERE” (said with awkward pauses between each word and with odd emphasis on the “here”)
“Have uh ______” (insert: snack, hug, tiss-U… said when you want something)Development: You must know you’re on the brink of turning three because you’re behavior has been pushing the limits. You’ve developed a love for spitting and nearly landed a wad of saliva on the hostess when we went out to dinner. You spit right in Papa’s face the other day as well. You also like throwing things. The other day you were throwing your cars wildly up into the air just to see where they would land. You’re a spitting wrecking ball.
You know the difference between a nickel, dime, and penny, and you love putting coins into your bank and them shaking them until they fall out the bottom.
You’ve been jumping everywhere. It’s hard to get a decent picture of you anymore because your head is always bobbing up and down.
You like to count to three by saying, “one two two fee”.
You’re more into pretend. You have, what resembles, real conversations on your pretend telephone. You also like to tuck your blanket between your legs and pretend to have a tail. And in the bath you make “cake” out of the soap suds.
You’re still learning how to be nice and how to share. You aren’t always the best playdate on the block; you’ve been known to hit or push people you call your friends. By the same token, you love to give hugs and kisses so there is something sweet deep down in that little big soul of yours. You also love babies and are very gentle with them.
You like painting and coloring. You mostly use your left hand, but occasionally your right as well.
Potty training: you rarely have accidents with #1. You like doing #2, however, in the comfort of your own room with the light off during nap time. I take you to the potty every day before your nap and, without fail, I close the door after I put you down and hear you grunting on the other side. Twenty minutes later your at your door telling me you made ca-ca.
You come up to me with your head down, chin to your chest, shoulders slumped, and proclaim “sad”. I scoop you up into my arms, give you a hug, and then you want down and return to what you were doing with energy I only wish I could match. I think you’re learning what different emotions are. I’ve been telling you that it’s okay to be sad, but I don’t really believe you’re sad.
You like things in their place. For example, if one of your dresser drawers is not all the way shut, you shut it. It amazes me that you even notice.
On any given day, you can be found with your tool belt on underneath the kitchen table with your hammer and flat head “fixing” the table. The table is not broken, fyi. Favorites: You still love your cars and play / line them up every day. You like to link them together or stack blocks in the beds of the pickup trucks and ask for “help pweez” when they don’t connect correctly or when you can’t get the blocks to balance just right. You also like playing outside with the hose but hate when the water is turned on you. You love your new toy tool set that Papa bought for you and pretend to fix things all day long, especially the wheels on your cars.
You love Thomas the Train and get mad at us when we call the trains by their wrong name, something we do intentionally because we’re cuted out that you know each and every one of them. Still, I hate TV.

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Van @ 13 Months

I’m late on posting this, but what else is new…
Growth & Appearance: You hair is on it’s way to blond and, like your brother, we’re toying with shaving your head in hopes that everything will grow in more evenly. Right now, you look kinda like a mad scientist.
You’re growing faster than I can believe. I do a double take anytime I walk by a mirror when I have you in my arms. You look too big to be carried around. You’re tall and strong and a definite force to be reckoned with.
There are shoes of Hooper’s that you’ll never wear. You’re currently in size 4 shoes, size 4 diapers, and 18mo-2T clothes. You have four teeth on top and four on the bottom and you hate having them brushed.
Eating: You love to eat. You go where the food goes. You’re like a dog, constantly begging. You’ll try anything, but your favorites as of late are pasta, bananas, oatmeal… who am I kidding? You love everything.
You’re starting to use a fork and spoon and get pissed when I expect you to use your hands. But then I give you a fork and then you get frustrated by your inability to use it as fast as you’d like. Nevertheless, you’re getting better and better and are actually able to get some food on the fork and bring it to your mouth.
We’re done breastfeeding and I have a few posts on my feelings about it that I’ll leave out of this post, because waaaaaaa. We’re still giving you breast milk I had hoarded away in the freezer, but when we’re out and about you do fine with cow’s milk too. You like to throw your bottle onto the floor when you’re done drinking it, causing milk to spill everywhere. You also like to chew through all the nipples. Nearly every bottle and/or sippy cup has been chewed through.
Sleeping: When we stopped breastfeeding, the thumb took over. Yup, that’s right, you replaced me with your thumb and you better believe that makes me feel like a million bucks. I lie. I mean who wants to be replaced by a thumb? It’s the funniest looking finger. In any event, it’s a tell tale sign that you’re tired when you stick that thing in your mouth. Before I put you down to sleep at night, I throw your blanket over my shoulder and sing “Hush little baby” and your head plops down on my shoulder and your thumb goes in and just like that, I say goodnight.
You have an attachment to your blanket.
Your schedule looks like this: Wake up around 8:30am, nap from about 10:30 to 1pm, nap again from 5 to 6:30pm, go to bed around 8:30 or 9pm. We’re looser with your nap schedule and rely on you napping in the car if we have plans to go out and do something. You can get by without a second nap, but with a shorter fuse in the evening hours.
Talking: You say “da” for “dog”, “dah” for “down”, “bir” for “bird”, “ba” when you see a “balloon”. You’re surprisingly quite easy to understand and despite your limited vocabulary, you’re a very good communicator. You use what we call your “gimme gimme” hand when you want something just out of reach or when you want more of something. In general, however, you use a lot of “da’s” with various forms of points and whines and jaw drops to make your point.
Development: You started walking a week after your first birthday and have not looked back. You’re able to walk long distances and able to recover your balance without falling a lot of the time. Between your brother and Sarah, you have quite the obstacle course.
You can jump when holding on to something. You like to hold on to the back of the sofa and jump on the cushions. A backward fall into the coffee table is in your future. You also like to try jumping on the bed.
You took your first good spill into the corner of a table and have a shiner on your right eye to show for it. Then you came home, same day, and fell into the coffee table resulting in a smaller mark on your left eye. These are those days, aren’t they? Helmets are looking safer and safer.
You love wearing shoes and are constantly picking up shoes around the house and bringing them to me to put on your feet. It doesn’t matter how big the shoes are, you clearly want them on your feet. You also like wearing sunglasses.
You can follow directions. If I tell you to sit down in the bath, you do. If I tell you to set your milk on the table, you will. It’s amazing to watch those little wheels spin and make sense of everything. Right now, you’re a good listener.
Favorites: On any given day, we can find you getting into the cupboard under the microwave where all the baking supplies are. You love grabbing the containers of sprinkles and carrying/shaking them all over the house. Fortunately you have yet to discover how to open the containers.
You also love carrying around your plastic scissors and a pen.
You still love your four wheeler. You also love playing with your brother. But, still, Mama is your favorite. And I’m not just saying that to butter my bread, you really and truly love me and would be happy as pie to spend the better part of the day in my arms.

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Hooper @ 33 Months

Growth & Appearance: Your hair has become downright ridiculous. We struggle keeping it out of your eyes. We’re constantly deciding between growing it out so you can put it behind your ears and shaving it completely. We’re leaning toward the latter simply because you have a thousand little baby hairs that have yet to grow and we’re thinking it needs a clean sweep to get the ball rolling.
Your skin is a bit darkened, compliments of warm summer kisses from the sun.
Eating: I let out a big sigh and an exaggerated eye roll every time I come to this category. I am starting to sell myself on the idea, however, that your behavior is more typical toddler and less of a psycho tyrant intentionally trying to starve himself. Not every meal is a struggle, but the ones that are linger around like the stench of sulfur in a natural hot springs. We’ve succumb to doing what works and if others want to judge us for throwing on Curious George to get you to sit still, I’ve got a big middle finger to wave in their direction. Sometimes it’s just a matter of keeping the peace, and all in all, meals have been more peaceful. Dinner is always the hardest. We do a lot of counting to five with threats of five equating to a time out. It works.
You’ve been eating a lot at breakfast as of late. This morning, for example, you ate half a banana (I mix it in your oatmeal because you won’t eat banana by itself), a bowl of oatmeal, half of a greek yogurt, half of a whole wheat eggo, and a glass of milk. And it only took ten minutes.
We no longer make you your own meal for dinner. You eat what we eat and voila, life is easier. And, by golly, turns out you do like a lot of what us big kids are eating. Maybe one day you’ll appreciate the fact your Papa is a good cook.
You hate when food falls on your lap and insist on having one of us clean you up. Dirt, on the other hand, doesn’t bother you.
Sleeping: At one time, you were the champion napper. Nowadays, naps are hit or miss. And to be honest, it was partially our doing. It’s so much nicer to not live life around a nap schedule. You can get through the day without napping and still handle yourself like a normal human being, most of the the time anyway. And putting you to bed a little bit earlier isn’t too shabby either. With that said, some days you do still nap. Other days you simply play quietly in your room with the door closed until you poop your pants and try to get out. And then other days you sleep like a baby and I have to go in and wake you up because napping the entire day away just doesn’t work.
On a typical day, you wake up around 8:30am and go to bed around 8:30 or 9pm.
Every night you play “magic hand”. This is when your Papa is putting you in your jam jams and your hand has yet to pop through the sleeve and we all look mysteriously around for your missing hand. Then you pop it through with the sliest look on your face and yell, “magic hand!”. Every night you think you have the coolest show in town.
Talking: You say everything. You still have quite the lisp with your S’s. And despite having known your colors just a few months ago, now everything is green.
When we’re out and about, sometimes you’ll request to go “back home”.
We can no longer hide the fact you watch a lot of Curious George because all of the sudden you’re talking like George and your vocabulary consists of various “eeeehh” and “aaaahhhh” accompainied by points and cackles. It’s the first time you’ve ever annoyed me.
The other day you were walking backwards in the front yard and walked right into a pile of dirt and said, “shit”. I ignore it every time because I think no attention is better than negative attention. We really need to stop using four letter words around here.
You are very polite and say “shanks” (thanks) often and appropriately.
Development: I love watching how concepts mature. The other day, for example, you told me your toy car was too hot to sit on and you asked me to blow on it to cool it down.
You’re the shy kid on the playground. It takes you a while to venture off on your own and more times than not, you’re right there by my side… or pulling my arm to where you want to go. You’re intrigued by other kids that are playing and every now and again you’ll approach them with a gregarious “hello!” but your nature is definitely cautious and reserved.
You’re scared of a toy fire engine outside of a restaurant we go to. It’s one of those cars you put a fifty cents in and it rocks back and forth with it’s siren blaring. You hate it and refuse to go in it, though you love to ride the boat right next to it.
Sarah is your best bud. You love her. It’s become your daily responsibility to feed her and you love carrying her bowl over to the food closet, filling her bowl one painful quarter filled cup at a time, and leading Sarah over to her bowl to show her you put food in it. The other day you saw Sarah sleeping in her bed and proceeded to close the door to the room, turn off the light, and say “sweet dreams Gonz” (“Gonz” is Sarah’s nickname). You also like grabbing her by her collar and leading her around the house. You shower her with random kisses and hugs throughout the day, ever day. Your love for her is very genuine and sweet.
You insist we kiss your bo-bos. You kiss ours too.
You love babies and you’re very good around them. You like to “pet them” and kiss them and shower them with attention. You’re demeanor, in general (baby or no baby), is sweet and kind. You’ll sacrifice getting your way to make someone else happy… well, some of the time anyway. But the fact you do it at all sure means something. And you love positive reinforcement. You’re the kid that’s looking over his shoulder right after you gave your toy to another kid to see who saw and make sure they acknowledge your kind deed.
You play doctor. The other day you were sitting at the desk in your room with your toy stethoscope around your neck while writing on a piece of paper. Then you’d stand up on your chair to answer the phone and when we asked what you were doing, you said “werkin”. You refer to yourself by the name of your pediatrician often.
You’re all boy. You’re constantly in the tool drawer and love to pretend to fix things. You also like to take the tape measure and go around and pretend to measure things.
We’re fairly certain you are left handed. You definitely write left handed and eat with your left hand. You throw with both, so I guess the jury is still out.
Favorites: Cars, cars, cars. That’s your go to, your every day. You like trucks and tractors and, really, anything that has wheels. The other day I bought you a toy forklift and when we got home, I threw on a youtube video to show you what a forklift was. It was a training module and you watched the whole thing as if it were, well, Curious George. I, on the other hand, wanted to fall asleep because, um hello, forklifts?!
You also like throwing rocks; especially at the house. You also like putting things in the toilet and flushing it. I’ve caught a toy snake and a rubber turtle on the way down. Thanks for that. Pee on my hand is always refreshing. Hash tag: Why you shouldn’t let yellow mellow.

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They come in all shapes and sizes.

Hooper’s first birthday

Van’s first birthday
We took Van to the pediatrician the other week for his one year check-up and the fact that kids come in all shapes and sizes rung true all over again. Van is the same size Hooper was when Hooper was 18 months old and it blows my mind.
I don’t give advice because I know no two situations are the same but if I could go back in time and give advice to the neurotic lets-take-inventory-of-every-bite-eaten-and-every-ounce-drunk self, I’d tell her not to worry and not to obsess.
Maybe then I wouldn’t have a toddler who pockets watermelon and a baby who – through baby led weaning – is more independent at the table than his older brother.
In other news, apparently my sister is in charge of getting the cupcake
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into my kids’ faces and Sarah, well, she’s my sister’s “assistant”.

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Van @ 12 Months

Growth & Appearance: People keep asking us if you have red hair. To me, it appears brown on top and blond in the back.
You have four teeth on top and four on the bottom.
You love wearing shoes on your feet which is funny because I have yet to put shoes on your feet. Instead, you’ve picked up on the fact that we all wear shoes and in an effort not to be excluded, you come crawling up to me often with your brother’s shoes in your hand pointing at your feet.
You’re wearing size 4 diapers, size 18-2T clothes. You seem incredibly tall.

Eating: You’re still a champion eater, but you’ve developed some preferences. Some days you simply eat more than others. And you may refuse something you loved just the day before. When you don’t like the food sitting in front of you, you like to swipe your hands from one side of the table to the other making food fly everywhere. Sarah loves this.
You’ll eat, or at least try, everything. Your current favorites are watermelon and bananas.
I’ve cut our breastfeeding sessions in half with hopes of weaning, but then I got emotional about it, so we’re sticking to four feedings a day plus 1-2 bottles of frozen breast milk. You’re able to drink from the bottle on your own.
You have a serious desire to use silverware. You’re always wanting to be just like us. Your ability to do so, however, sucks. It does keep you entertained, so oftentimes we give you a spoon.

Sleeping: You are officially attached to your blanket. It’s funny how that happens. You love to snuggle with it and often point and whine while you’re on your changing table until I grab the thing out of your crib and put it in your arms. Then you like to put it over your face and play peek-a-boo. You’re quite the peek-a-boo fan these days.
We had to move the noise maker out of your crib because you not only figured out how to turn it off, but also how to reach your little arm out of the crib and unplug the cord from the wall.
Breastfeeding puts you to bed most nights, but some nights you’re still awake when I put you down. When this happens, we can hear you playing with your activity center. Eventually you fall asleep on your own, without a fuss.
You wake up around 8am, nap from 10:30am to 1pm, nap from 4:30pm to 6pm, and go down for the night around 9:30pm. When we’re out and about, we forgo the second nap. Sometimes we pay the consequences, but most of the time you function off of whatever sleep you get in the car.

Talking: More than words, you point and whine. You point at everything and expect everyone to obey your commands.
You’re good with D’s and are able to say “down”, “done”, and “dog”. You say “hello” whenever you have a phone in your hands. “Boon” is “balloon” and “ka” is “car”.  And, oh yes, you say “mama”.

Development: You dance anytime there is music on. In fact, one of your favorite things to do is to crawl over to the record player, pull yourself up, and turn the music up as high as it goes while you drop it like it’s hot.
To say you’re still crawling is kind of a lie. You’re more like motor-crawling. You’re faster than all hell and often crawl up on all fours without your knees touching to get wherever you’re going as fast as possible.
You’re able to stand without holding onto anything, but it always has to be on your own terms. Anytime we try to put you down on your feet, you drop to the floor. But when you’re playing, you’ll let go of whatever you’re holding onto and stand without a problem. You’ve taken a couple steps on your own.
You like books, especially the touch and feel books. You’ll grab a book and bring it to me to read to you.
I have little doubt that you are right handed. You do most everything with your right hand.
You’re a climber. You love climbing onto chairs and rocking back and forth. It’s totally safe and not scary at all to walk into a room and find you on top of a chair rocking back and forth. The other day Papa found you in the bathroom; You had climbed into the empty bathtub and were playing with your toys.
You suck your thumb, but not on a regular basis and not for any real length of time.
The toilet paper is almost always unraveled from the roll and the baking supplies are almost always strewn about on the kitchen floor. We ought to childproof the kitchen cupboards, but there’s not much in there that can cause anything more than a mess.
You’re still ridiculously strong. You love pushing your highcahir all over the house. And when your arm comes down on my chest when we’re playing on the floor, there is definite force behind it.
You love to laugh.

Favorites: Hands down, the four wheeler is your favorite. You spend the better part of the day on that thing and have got quite good at maneuvering around every corner of the house. You’re on that thing so much that when you opt to get down, we comment that you’ve chosen to “de-saddle”.
You love using a pen and paper. I think you got this from Hooper. My pens are constantly missing from my desk. You also love playing with the plugs; unplugging the record player is a daily occurrence.
My computer mouse is always on your wish list. And you love balloons.

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Hooper @ 32 Months

Growth & Appearance: Your hair is growing longer and is often in your eyes. You don’t seem to care what-so-ever, so we’re letting it grow until you can tuck it back behind your ears. You’ll be the girl we never had and a pretty one at that.
You hate brushing your teeth as of late, especially the top front teeth, and thus they are yellow every now and again. You have no one to blame but yourself. The neighbors probably think we’re torturing you every night before bed.
You’ve grown out of all of your size 2T pants both in the waist and in the height. It’s possible that this happened a while ago, but we haven’t been wearing pants due to the triple digit heat and when I tried to put them on you the other night… well, it looked like you were ready for a flood.
You’re tall and thin.
Eating: Grrr… the dreaded topic of eating. Some nights you are just a downright pain in the ass. Feeding you is rarely easy. You’re not motivated by food at all. I made you try a bite of watermelon the other day and you pocketed it in your mouth until I asked you to spit it out 20 minutes later. It was watermelon, for goodness sakes. Even at a birthday party the other week, you carried around your cupcake until the thing nearly fell apart from being carried around for so long. I’m at a loss as to what to do. I’m still making you smoothies and you do eat well, but the struggle is unbelievable at times.

Sleeping: Your naps have been hit or miss as of late. You either nap for 2-4 hours, poop your pants and then refuse to nap, or refuse your nap from the get go. It depends largely on what you did the day prior. You missed your nap two days in a row, for example, and on the third day I woke you up after 4 hours of napping. Your schedule looks like this: wake up around 8:30am, nap around 11am to 2pm, bedtime around 9pm.

Talking: You add a lot of plurals to things that aren’t pleural. We kinda like it, so we don’t correct you. For example, you brought me a toy and referred to it as “brokens”. You saw money in a tip jar and referred to it as “monies”. And when you saw us walking with Van, you said, “brother walkins”.
You have a lisp with all of your S’s. You Papa mentioned taking you to speech therapy, but I think you’ll grow out of it. I guess you can blame me if years from now you’re still thrusting your tongue into the back of your front teeth.
I heard you having a full on “conversation” with your brother but I couldn’t understand exactly what you were saying.
Comparatively, I think you’re a little behind in speaking than other kids your age, but you’re constantly adding words and saying new things so I’ve never thought twice about it. You’re able to communicate all your needs and wants, even if it’s just through whining, which happens often.

Development:
You can catch a ball. I ask you to put your hands out, you do, and then I toss you the ball and you catch it. This leads to a touch-down type celebration and almost instantly Sarah joins in the fun and then things just get out of control.
You like to march. Not sure where you learned this or how you know it’s called marching.
You started swim lessons. You definitely don’t love it, but you don’t refuse to do it either. Instead, you sit there with your bottom lip out and awkwardly say “hi” over and over again. You don’t interact with any of the other kids.
You started horseback lessons on the days your Nina has you. I hear you like it.
You like to draw and are starting to pay attention when I tell you what shape is what.
You’re a spitting machine and like to spit on everything. Initially I ignored it, hoping that if I didn’t pay it any attention it would go away. It did not. Ask your Papa, he got it right in the face. It’s your new thing.
You play a game your Papa calls “magic hand” before bed. This is when your hand hasn’t popped through the sleeve of you pajamas and you pretend that it magically appears, thus “magic hand”. Then you hide your hand behind your back and play it all over again.
You flap you hands wildly by your side and refer to them as your fly-fly wings.
In general, you’ve been sweet as can be lately (minus the spitting). In particularly, you’ve been extra loving toward me, greeting me with big hugs when I come home and coming up to me randomly throughout the day for unsolicited hugs. You’ve also been sweet to your brother, asking to “pet him” often.

Favorites: Your favorite books are “Wacky Wednesday”, “Go, Dogs, Go”, and “The Bike Lesson”. You’re still obsessed with watching Curious George and I’ve welcomed it as a nice reprieve for when I need a moment of silence. We started some crafts, like painting, and you have artwork on the fridge to show for it. You love playing with the “nah-der” (water) outside. And, oh yes, your cars are still a big hit.

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Hooper @ 31 months

Growth & Appearance: More times than not, we have you in pull ups. You’re wearing size 3-4T and, despite the larger size, one side always seems to be riding up your butt. We enjoy starring at your butt cheek hang out one side. Being that it’s summer, you’re usually sportin’ nothing more than your pull-ups or your undies. Less laundry. That’s how we do it.
Your hair is getting longer and you’re in desperate need of a trim but we’re also dedicated to letting it grow out. You can blame the hair in your eyes on our indecisiveness. I didn’t put a bobby pin in your hair the other day, no I didn’t.
You’re wearing size 8.5 shoes and, for some reason, you have more shoes than ever before. With any luck, your feet will go on a growing hiatus.
You still rock the bumps and bruises and your toes, especially, are almost always busted… this can be attributed to the fact we let you play outdoors barefoot quite often. What’s summer without dirty scabbed feet?
Eating: I may eat my words next month (no pun intended) but feeding you has been much easier this month. We’ve reverted to some of our old tricks with a mix of new tips and strategies we got from Kary. So far, so good. For the most part, you eat what we’re eating which is a huge improvement. The downside is that you typically need some distraction, encouragement, or assistance in getting the fork to your mouth. Once you get going, you’re fine, but getting you going is the challenge. And some nights you never “get going”.
While you’ve made improvements in trying new foods, you’re still tentative. I gave you piece of watermelon the other morning, for example, and you pocketed it in your mouth until I told you to spit it out. I mean seriously, what kid doesn’t like watermelon? And if you don’t like it, why do you allow it to sit in your mouth for so long? You’re a tricky little one.
I make you a “shake” a few days a week that consists of spinach pureed with berries. You like it, but I have to sit with you while you drink it because it takes forever. I must say, “take another sip” like fifty times. But, at least, you listen.
Things you like: Whole wheat frozen waffles, oatmeal with banana mashed in it, cottage cheese, pizza, avocado and cream cheese sandwiches, strawberries, apples, eggs, PB+J sandwiches, peas. But, if it were up to you, you’d eat Cheerios every morning for breakfast, mac n’ cheese every afternoon for lunch, and chicken nuggets every night for dinner. We don’t leave it up to you. Sleeping:We accidentally left your playpen in Arizona. This has resulted in you napping in your bed. Initially we were pissed  because we knew this could compromise your nap (aka our “break”) but it’s worked out fine and iit’s actually quite nice not having that big playpen in the middle of your room.
Not much has changed in your sleep pattern. You wake up around 8 or 8:30, nap from 11ish to 2ish, and go to bed around 9pm. We have officially cut out your second nap and even though your brother still naps two times a day, it feels much more freeing.
When I ask you if you want to cuddle before going to sleep, you tell me to “go away”, and I support your independence.Talking:
When you pick up the phone you say, “hello, over”. I don’t know where it came from but it sounds like you are talking on a walky talky.
I chuckled to myself the other day when I told you the phone was ringing “off the hook”; In your day and age, I doubt you’ll ever actually have a hook to hang a phone on.
You refer to CD’s as “records” and I don’t correct you.
You  know not to grab Sarah’s tail because it’s where she “makes ca-ca”. You’ve taken this a step further, however, and like to point out where all animals make ca-ca. I’m fairly certain you think animals shit out their tails and, again, I don’t correct you.
The way you say “smell it” sounds like a derogatory word used to describe homosexuals that rhymes with maggot. As a side note, gay people can now get married. Frankly, I’m surprised this didn’t happen long ago. I hope your generation continues to support equality and celebrate diversity.
When you’re cold, you ask to be made “cozy”. For example, if we’re driving in the car with the air conditioner on, you’ll cross your arms across your chest and say, “cozy pweez”. Then we turn the air off. You also say the same thing when we put you down to sleep, prompting us to wrap you tighter in your blanket.
You love to play your harmonica. You call it your “ma-ca-ca-ca”. Sometimes you’ll bring me your guitar and request that I play the guitar while you play your ma-ca-ca-ca and we’ll dance about. 
Development: You love playing with cords and sticking the cord in the outlet to turn something on. It’s clearly not safe but you know how to take the safety device off. You also like sticking keys in locks. You’re a typical guy in that you like to put things in things.
When you bump your knee or skin your elbow, you request for me kiss it before declaring it “all better”. It made for an awkward moment the other day in the bath when, trying to swim, you nicked your twig and berries and requested for me to kiss it. I told you to have your future wife do that. You said, “okkkkkkayyyyy” with a tone a teenager would use after being warned three times in a row to drive more safely.
You’re potty trained, most of the time. You wear underwear during the day and pull-ups at night and during naps. You wake up with a dry pull-up some of the time, other times you can’t quite hold it and pee in the morning. You’ve been poopin’ in your pull-ups during your nap, but sometimes you’ll go on the toilet before I put you down. The other day we were out to dinner with a bunch of friends and your Papa pointed out to everyone that you were up near the stage dancing. Turns out you were peeing your pants. Mistakes like this don’t happen often (usually only during naps and overnight), but you were a good source of entertainment that night (even with pee streaming down your leg).  If you earn yourself a time out in your room, you like to pee on the floor as a way of saying “thanks for the time out”. That’s cool.
You’re more destructive these days. There was one day where you went into your room and threw everything on the floor.
You’re shy, initially, in social situations. Once you warm up, you are very personable and friendly. At that same dinner  with friends that I just mentioned, you made friends with an older man that had these huge bug eyes and kept insisting that he throw you up in the air. It was both cute and creepy at the same time. You wouldn’t leave him alone (though he was enjoying it too) and eventually he asked where your mom was.
The other day you came up to me with one of your wooden blocks and, clear as day, said “number six” while pointing to the number six. I was so amazed, I pointed to the number five and asked you what number it was to-which-you-replied, “number six”. And now, every time I ask you what something says the answer is “number six”.
You’ve been caught red-handed a few times as of late and each time you squeeze your eyes shut as tight as you can with the sliest smirk across your face. I wait until you peek through one eye for you to realize you’re busted. This happened when I caught you playing in your room during nap time and again in the car when I caught you crawling around eating old cheerios off the ground.
You like to hop all over the house and refer to yourself as a “jumpee bean”.
You like to make Sarah sit and shake before giving her a treat. Then you give her a hug and call her a “goo dog” (good dog).
Favorites: You love to “fly” and often request to be taken to the front yard and spun around in circles. One time is never enough so we usually end up doing it over and over and then walk around like drunken sailors.
You love motorcycles and request to “sit on it” every time we encounter one, but whenever one of the biker dudes invites you to actually sit on it, you chicken out.
You like to fake fall. And by fake fall, I mean you like to body slam whoever is lying down beside you. You’re like a little WWE star in the making; only you need to EAT more to get big and strong so your body slams actually have some sort of, um, impact.
You could play in the car all day everyday. Almost every time I turn the car on, the windshield wipers are going, my brights are on, the left turn signal is blinking, and the back of my seat is at an awkward angle. You love driving down the block on my lap and happily wave to all the neighbors like you’re the star of the parade.
Also making the “favorites” this month, and seemingly every month, is Curious George. Only this time you’ve seen the movie and now you request Curious George with the “el-fent” (elephant) over and over and over and over and over and over.

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Toddlerhood

 When Hooper turned one, I wondered if it was still appropriate to refer to him as my baby. He didn’t seem quite like the fully dependent infant I brought home from the hospital, but he still seemed far from the fiercely independent toddler.
I’ve been referring to Hooper as a toddler for a while now. In hindsight, I think I became comfortable with the label when Van came along and became the true baby of the house.
But then something happened, and for the first time ever, I one hundred percent knew he is, indeed, a full blown toddler. It happened in Palm Springs when he fell asleep on the bed within the first ten minutes of coming in for the day from the pool. You see, Willy and I always wondered when it would happen. And by “it”, I’m referring to the fall-asleep-anywhere-because-I’m-all-outta-gas phenomenon. We’ve seen the pictures of toddlers falling asleep during dinner with their faces submerged in their spaghetti or the infamous toddler asleep in the stroller. But this has never been Hooper. And it’s not because he isn’t a good sleeper, he is. But he’s never been one to fall asleep anywhere other than his bed or playpen. 
I watched his head bob back and forth as the rest of us moved about in the room. Van whined, Sarah played about, and Hooper slept. Hard.
True toddlerhood. He feeds himself. He uses the toilet. And he conks out after a day spent in the pool. I suppose we’ll transition from toddler to kid when he stops sucking on those two fingers and can put on his own shoes and socks. Until then, I’m savoring the toddler stage.

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Hooper @ 30 Months

Growth & Appearance: Your knees are always scabbed, your shins always bruised, and your feet are always dirty. You’re a true toddler. You’re tall and thin, but your belly is almost always sticking out (despite the fact we rag on you for being such a terrible eater). Your hair is blond on top, brown underneath. More and more, I think you look like your Papa, but with my eyes.
You’re wearing size 3T clothing, with some room to grow. Size 8 shoes. You’re tall enough to ride the kiddo rides at the carnival. 
Eating: We’re all doing better with your eating. Your Papa has made a huge effort to make the table more of an inviting place and the tension has lessened considerably. We’re giving you more independence over what you eat and how much you eat, with the occasional boundary here and there; because you can’t eat chicken nuggets for every meal. There was a girl that did that, I believe, and she died or something. True story.
You’ve gotten better at trying new things and I’m doing my best to keep offering you new foods to try. We’ve also started making smoothies that consist mostly of frozen berries and boat load of spinach. You like them, so that’s a win.
You drink with a cup now on a regular basis. You feed yourself, using mostly your left hand. 
Sleeping: You like to be “cozy”. Some times, after putting you down for a nap, I hear you stirring about and will go in and check on you. You request to be made “cozy”, upset that the blanket has become loose around you. I tuck you back in as best I can and you wave you little palm up to the sky and say “by-yee!”.
You’ve picked up on the fact that asking for “more cuddles” will prolong nap and/or bed time. Every time we tell you it’s time to go to sleep, you raise your little index finger in the air and say, “cuddle, minute” (aka, let’s cuddle for a minute). We’re suckers for your manipulating loving ways and we pull you close and hold you tight for as long as you’ll let us.
The other morning, I heard you whining at 6:30am, which is way earlier than your normal waking hour. I went in your room and it became clear that you were still tired but perhaps had a bad dream. I laid down with you and I spent the next hour watching you twitch in your sleep; your arm laying flaccid across my face, your little body next to mine. It happened again about a week later. Not gonna lie, kinda hope these nightmares stick around.
We’re still forgoing the second nap. Some days we are home and you appear ready for another nap and I need a break, so I put you down. More times than not, you’ll nap in the morning and stay awake until it’s time to go to sleep for the night. Your schedule looks like this: Wake up between 8 and 9am, nap around 11 until 1 or 3 (it varies greatly), and go to bed around 8:30pm. As I type this, you are supposed to be napping but I can here you tickling your stuffed animals.
You woke up the other morning and the first words out of your mouth were, “peanut butter”. Then we cuddled in silence. Talking: Those that aren’t around you on an everyday basis note there has been a word explosion. At times it feels like the world is one big game of pictionary.
You dropped your guitar and said, “Oh shit”, clear as day, over and over again. We ignored it, but apparently we need to start watching our mouths. That will be a challenge for your Papa and I.
You’re starting to put two adjectives together, like “big blue truck”.
When I say, “thank you”, you say, “nell come” (aka “welcome”). When we give you something, you say “shanks” (thanks).
You speak in first person; The ball got away from Van and you said, “I’ll get it”.
You know that frogs go “wibbit”, snakes go “ssssss”, and alligators go “chomp”.
You can tell others that your brother’s name is Van but you’re unsure what to say when people ask you “how are you?”.
Things you like to say with your index finger pointed toward the sky: “cuddle minute”, “back minute” (aka, I’ll be back in a minute), “one show”. 
Development: Where has all this energy come from? It seems like overnight you’re moving faster, sleeping less, and into everything. I was beginning to wonder what was wrong when your Nina pointed out that you are a full blown toddler now. You’re wild and rambunctious and always wanting to get into more than you’re supposed to. You push boundaries; you climb, grab, and take. Some days it feels like I’m following you around telling you constantly what you cannot do. You used to sneak by with a bath every other day if time didn’t permit, but now you require at least one bath a day.
You love playing outside, shoveling dirt from the plant to your wagon. You refer to it as “cleaning”. I refer to it as “more work for mama”. But I let you do it, as it keeps you occupied for a nice chunk of time.
I pointed out your shadow and, ever since, you’re quite fond of it. I tell you to give your shadow a hug and you chase after it endlessly. You like to watch your shadow on the wall as you jump up and down on your bed, then you proclaim, “shadow go boom!” when you jump to your butt.
You’re getting better at riding your scooter. More times than not, you ride with your left foot forward and push with your right. You use your spoon with the left hand as well, but occasionally use your right as well.
You’re beginning the transition out of parallel play, where you simply play alongside another child. Whenever you see a group of kids playing, you want to join them. You approach them with only the slightest hint of uncertainty and always greet them with a big “Hi-yee”.  
Favorites: You love Curious George and insisted on “the man in the yellow hat” when I tried to change it up and put Cat in the Hat on the other day. When you’re overly rambunctious, Curious George is my saving grace. As soon as it comes on, you start air kissing that silly little monkey. You’re also still into your cars, a long time favorite. And playing outside. Thank god. You love gardeners and insist on being outside to watch the trash trucks go by. Oh yes, and keys. You love fitting keys into locks whether they were made for the hole you’re sticking them in or not.
Some of my favorite posts, featuring you, from this past month:
Hooper Eats (about your shitty eating)
They come in all shapes and sizes (your size, compared to your brothers at the same age)
Hooper & Van (you and your brother)
The Roosevelt Hotel (photos of mostly you, while your brother napped in the closet)
Shits & Giggles (on potty training)

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Mr. Personality

Can I be candid for a moment without being judged? Here comes honesty: I’m not looking forward to having a newborn. Wow, that sounds harsh, right? Let me expand on that. Newborns are miraculous creatures, they really are. They are fun to stare at while marveling over their creation and existence and ability to survive. But beyond that, they don’t really do much. I mean puppies are born with the ability to walk. Isn’t that crazy? I mean you think about all the stages a newborn goes through and it’s like a freaking celebration when they roll over for the first time weeks after their born. Willy and I have said time and time again that we wish we could birth a one year old and start out at the fun stage immediately. Instant gratification.
And that’s based solely on our experience with Hooper. Because 11 months after he was born, a personality started to flourish. Who knew he would ever be anything more than a blob? And since that time, his personality has grown exponentially. And it is so. freakin’. fun.
I embrace the newborn stage wholeheartedly because I know now what it leads to. Dear 16 month old little humans, you guys are so rad.

Hooper @ 16 Months

Growth: You haven’t been weighed or measured this month but what I can tell you is that you are growing out of your 12 month pajamas and into the 18-24 month sizes. We bought you new shoes this month, as your feet have grown out of the size four. We opted to get you a size five instead of a 4.5 so you have some room to grow and we can save some money. You’re still wearing size 4 diapers. I’m starting to lose track of how many teeth you have, but you definitely have four front teeth on top and four on the bottom and I believe you have 3 molars with one more just pushing it’s way through. You handle teething like a champion. With the exception of some extra fussiness for a night, we’d have no idea. In fact, I checked your mouth just the other night because you were a bit on the fussy side and that’s when I discovered three had already come through and one side was swollen, prepping for another little rascal to join the others. Not sure when the three others came through and why those didn’t seem to bother you, but this mama ain’t complaining.
Feeding: You eat a lot of what you like. You can polish off a container of fresh raspberries in two days, possibly one if I let you. Those are your favorite at the moment, as blueberries have fallen to the wayside. You’ve also become a mac n’ cheese monger. We discovered this one night at Red Lobster where you ate an entire plate of mac n’ cheese faster than the Wiggles can jump into their big red car. Raisins are still your favorite snack. As a result there are always stale raisins at the bottom of my purse. You could care less, you’ll eat em’ however you find em’. Other things you’re fond of these days are whole wheat bagels with cream cheese, carrots with ranch, scrambled eggs with cheese, yogurt, chicken fried rice, chicken pesto pasta, ground beef with taco seasoning, most any cheese and, of course, chicken nuggets. If you’re really good, we’ll give you a nugget of dog food for dessert, which is still your all time favorite. Seriously. You also have a new obsession with the temperature of your food and like to think everything is “ha-ha-ha” or hot. 
You drink anywhere from 15-25 ounces of whole milk a day. You’ve also finally started to like juice, which we discovered the same night at Red Lobster. Although in hindsight, I’m not sure if it was the juice you liked or if it was just the cup and straw that you truly fancied. Either way, we discovered that night that you can drink from a straw. It was exciting. 
(note the food on Sarah’s face)
Sarah is never far away when food is around and you are still very nice about sharing with her. I’ve come to think having a dog is absolutely essential for no other reason than their contribution to clean up. Sarah really cuts down on the post-meal pick-up.
Sleeping: I hope you teach your bother early on how awesome it is to sleep through the night and take long naps, cuz you are king of sleeping. When you’re awake, you never stop moving and then you crash, but you’re moving right up until I place you in your crib. Then you grab your blanket, stick those two fingers in your mouth, and you’re out. It’s lovely. Typically you play for a while in your crib before you’re ready to come out. Other times you whine until someone comes in. Either way, as soon as that door opens, the first thing out of your mouth is “ca-ca” as you grab your diaper. Yes, you love to notify us of the shit in your pants. If papa’s around and hasn’t heard this proclamation, sometimes I convince him you said “pa-pa” and with honor and pride he comes running into your room to free you from your little prison. He’s never too stoked with the surprise. Other times you say “ca-ca” but haven’t shit, Papa coined this the feces fake out.
Talking: Oh your little voice just melts my heart. The repetitive baby talk like ca-ca, ma-ma, pa-pa, da-da is one thing, but when those two syllable words or words with meaning attached come out of your mouth I just want to eat you all in one massive bite. The way you say “baby” is just precious as can be. You see a picture of yourself on the computer and declare, “baby”. You see a 6 year old on the side walk and declare, “baby”. You point to my belly and declare, “baby”. You see a stroller, or even a wheelchair, and declare, “baby”. And yes, in case you’re wondering, it’s quite embarrassing when you refer to a 90 year old woman being pushed around in a wheelchair as a baby. You’ll be there one day too, you know. You also say “yellow”, but it comes out “weyow”. Willy has you saying “Willy”, but it comes out like “wewwE”. You say “een” for “green” and “bo” for “blue”. You also say “bone”, “broom” (though you still roll the “r” with your lips), “whoa”, “koki” for “cookie”, and “bayoon” for balloon. You’ll repeat just about anything, but you have surprisingly made no attempt to say “Sarah” or even “doggie”. Not sure why, she’s clearly your best bud. 
As I mentioned before, you are enthralled with hot things. You point to lights and the oven and stove and proclaim “ha-ha-ha”. We’ve tried to convince you that things we don’t want you to touch like our iPhones are also hot, but I think you’re just confused or know we’re fibbing because you’ll go ahead and touch it anyway. You’re also still obsessed with brooms and point out, wherever we are, where the broom is. It’s funny, nearly every major establishment has a broom tucked away somewhere. Not sure how, but you always spot them.
Development: Hooper, seriously, what’s with the pinching when you want to get your way? Your little fingers are like claws and you sink them into my skin like an overweight man with butter on his legs in quick sand. Or something like that. Really though, who taught you to pinch? Sarah doesn’t have thumbs, so I can’t blame her for this one. What I can blame her for is your behavior with other children. Yes, you treat your counterparts like dogs. You want them to chase you like Sarah does, so you initiate a game of chase by going up to other children and hitting him, or tagging them as I prefer to call it. I know you are not trying to be malicious, but if some little boy did that to you I’d want to whop him from here to China, where they could put him to work in a factory and feed him only stale rice. What I’m trying to say is that children are not animals and you cannot play with them like you do with Sarah. Capiche? I feel like handing each kid you hit a buck and saying “I’m so sorry”. You’re like the boy that was raised by wolves. The only play you’ve learned has been from Sarah and it’s very aggressive and hands on. Not sure what to do about this.
You know most of your body parts and can point out things like your teeth and knees, in addition to your head, hair, eyes, ears, nose, and feet. You love a good game of chase or simply running back and forth between your Papa and I. You could stay outdoors forever, making games out of throwing dirt into the ivy or reorganizing the rocks. You still love YouTube videos and are especially into the Wiggles. Papa and I know Greg, Murray, Anthony, and Jeff well and can’t get over their silly antics. Those Wiggles are really something.
Your confidence is budding so beautifully. You’re so stoked on yourself. It’s funny to witness as you do something for the first time or do something you think is so cool and this tidal wave of pride just washes over your little face in the sweetest way. You wear confidence beautifully and I hope it never leaves.