Thanks Given

I know that Thanksgiving is not for a few more days, but I work tomorrow and then we’re traveling most of the next few days to try to see all the grandparents and other assorted family members, so I’m giving thanks a little early.

I’m thankful first and foremost, for my family. For each and every one of them.

For my incredible husband who works spectacularly hard at work and then comes home and gives all his remaining energy to our boys and to me. He is truly an incredible father and he’s a wonderful, thoughtful, loving husband. I am thankful for him and for the sacrifices he has made for us.

I’m also thankful for my parents and their spouses, for how often they selflessly give their time to watch our kids when we need them to and for being constantly available for help, support, suggestions or just to chat. I’m thankful for my in-laws who open up their gorgeous home to us, who love our children so thoroughly and who have taught me a great deal this year.

I’m thankful for my older sister, even when we disagree and argue, I could not be more lucky to have her in my life. She is truly my best friend (whether she wants to be or not) and she’s such an important part of my children’s lives. I’m also thankful for my younger sister, who I don’t get to see very often, but who has grown into a really incredibly thoughtful adult that I truly love to spend time with.

I’m thankful for my home. I’m thankful that we were finally able to give our kids a house, a yard, a neighborhood that they are safe in. I’m thankful that we have space to live and to grow, a place that, at least for the foreseeable future, is our home base, our happy place, where were are making memories.

I’m thankful for my health. It has been an incredible year of good health for me personally, which is something that I never take for granted. I’m really thrilled that Will is doing much better the past few months and that he is getting such good quality healthcare these days. I’m also thankful that the rough first year or two of Eli’s daycare career has paid off in the form of generally great health for him. We are very, very lucky.

I’m thankful for family and friends who show me constant love and grace, even when I have not earned it. I’m thankful for forgiveness- forgiveness that I probably don’t deserve, for grace that I do not for a single moment take for granted. I’m thankful to be loved and surrounded by people with understanding and a willingness to move forward in spite of mistakes and missteps in the past.

I am thankful also for all of you, for being here, for reading and supporting me along the way.

I’m thankful especially this year, to live in a country where my children are safe. Where I don’t have to escape by boat or by foot. I’m thankful that I don’t have to worry about tomorrow and where we will live or what we will eat. I’m thankful that I live in a place where I have a voice in society, where I can work and drive and exercise my religion freely.

It becomes a bit cliched to use the word blessed, but it would be wrong to categorize myself as anything other than that. This has been an incredible year for us and I’m just so fortunate, so grateful, for all that I’ve been given in this life. What a year. What a life.

What a Difference 15 Months Make!

This was actually the easiest month to date. Will was in a pretty decent mood (despite waking up at 5am today…) and cooperated nicely. I just about died when I looked at the pictures and realized he was holding hands/arms with the raccoon. Also, I swear he owns other pajamas. It’s just a coincidence.

1 day!
1 day

1 month and 1 day!
1 month

3 months and 1 day!

6 months and 1 day!

9 months and 1 day!
will 9mo

1 year and 1 day!

13 months and 1 day!

14 months and 1 day!

15 months and 1 day!
15 months

William: Month 15


Today you are 15 months old. You are starting to feel very much like a person and very much not like a baby. In the past 2-3 days you have made the switch to walking the majority of the time and it still catches me off guard a little bit. You still crawl when you want to be very speedy (although you tried running earlier tonight and…it did not go well) and you haven’t quite mastered the stand to squat to stand, but you otherwise are a pretty good ambulator. It just makes you seem so grown. The last vestiges of babyhood are vanishing.


You are just ridiculously verbal. You are now talking in sentences all. the. time. If a childless person had never met you and had no context, they might not understand everything you say, but in general and for your age, you are relatively clear. You say all manners of things (I’m not using quotation marks because my pinky finger will get tired): I want to get up, I want to get down, I want to go out, I want that, I want this, I want a snack, I want to nurse, bubble bath, I want Elmo. You can identify Elmo, Abby and Oscar by name, you know a duck says quack quack quack and you have started to call your brother some version of E-yie-yie. I’m still dada most of the time, mama on occasion. You call Addie by name a lot, but I think it’s because you know how to say Abby and daddy, so that one seems like a cheat. You also say hi, bye, night night and a whole lot of other things I’m forgetting or already mentioned last month. Your daycare uses English and Spanish, so you actually call water “agua” and strangers have done several double takes because you are the world’s whitest baby speaking Spanish. Your language skills are just absurd. You should not have half this many words.


But oh am I grateful you do because son, you are passionate. You want a lot. And you struggle when you don’t get it. You have shown us how easy your brother was by not being that easy. You are that baby that lays on the ground in public and cries. You’re that baby that requests something by name, gets it and throws it while shouting “no” or “not that.” You have a flair for the dramatic, to put it mildly. I know it is just a stage and has to do with your wants exceeding your ability to fully communicate them, but we have already left so many more restaurants than we ever did with your brother. It’s a new thing for us.


As much as you are dramatic, you are also so happy and often just pure joy. You LOVE to sing. You really like If You’re Happy and You Know It and you are known to clap or stomp your feet whilst crying if someone starts singing it (clearly you don’t quite understand the song). You really like Twinkle Twinkle and every time we get to the line you shout “UP ABOVE DA” and it’s adorable. You also love Itsy Bitsy Spider and you do hand motions and everything. You love loud toys and more than anything you adore your brother. Elijah can do no wrong in your eyes. He will knock you over and you will lay on the ground hysterically laughing. If he jumps, you flop and laugh. If he runs, you scurry to follow. The way you adore him is just the absolute best thing ever. It lights up my days.


Your likes this month include: Dad, Mom, Elijah, Pirate’s Booty, Elmo, books, singing, loud toys, remotes, toothbrushing, books, rice, yogurt, agua, mom’s food, baths, bubble baths, destroying your brother’s puzzles, nursing, Corduroy bear and rubber ducks.


Your dislikes this month include: Generally not getting what you want/who you want/when you want something, getting out of the bath, when your brother takes toys from you, not being able to go outside, and when mom or dad or Elijah leave the room. Honestly, this list is different every. single. day.


I finally reached the end of my rope and sleep trained you this month. It was one brutal night with a fair amount of crying and the next night you just slept. And you have more or less slept through the night ever since. I sort of miss those nighttime feeds as you are so sweet and snuggly and it was indescribably hard on my heart to do the sleep training. I know it’s for the best, both of us are happier, but hopefully we’ll never have to go through it again. I am going to be away from you for a night next month and as excited as I am to, I’m scared and a little sad too. I’ve never not been there for you. My heart is already fluttery over it.


One of the things that has really emerged this month is your desire to make other people laugh. It’s a part of your personality that I hadn’t seen before, but it’s become obviously lately. Your favorite thing is to yell at us so we’ll yell back and literally like 5 times a day, all 4 of us are happily AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHing at the top of our lungs. You get the hugest grin every time, it’s the best. You chase after your brother and anytime you can get him giggling, you will repeat whatever you did over and over and over again until you’re both exhausted from laughing.


You are a sweet, kind little soul. You are busy and sometimes crazy. You are exhausting but delightfully so. You are just this new person and I see you changing each day into the person you’ll be. You’re no longer a generic baby who follows a path, you’re Will, you’re a person and I love so much getting to know you. We’re so lucky to have you, that you’re ours.


Happy 15 months, Will. We love you so, so much and we can’t wait to see what next month brings.


What a Difference 3.5 Years Make

Oh this boy of mine. In addition to taking his picture with his lion, I asked him a few questions today to try to capture a bit of who he is at 3.5.

Me: What is your favorite color?
Elijah: Red

Me: What is your favorite food?
Elijah: Pizza

Me: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Elijah: Chocolate!

Me: Who is your best friend?
Elijah: A dinosaur!

Me: Who is your best friend that is a human?
Elijah: Addie. And Mom, Daddy and William

6 months and a day
lion 6mo

1.5 and a day

2.5 and a day
30 months and 1 day

3.5 and a day
Eli 42 months

Three Point Five

Today my first baby is three and a half years old. How is that even possible?

Age 3 has been something altogether different than anything I’ve experienced as a parent. I feel like 2 is the year that kids learn their boundaries. Conversely, age 3 is where they decide whether they want to live within those boundaries or whether they want to intentionally violate them. 3 is all about free will and it’s been interesting to watch my (not) baby find his place.


The overwhelming majority of the time, Elijah (which is what he prefers to be called) is a delight. He is funny and silly and sweet. His newest thing is to stop us and request that we “snuggle just a little bit” with him. Neither his dad nor I can resist that offer and even when it means we will be running late, we stop everything and snuggle. I know that all too soon he will stop requesting that and I want to soak up every single second of it. I keep getting flashes of the kid and teenager he will be and it makes me want to slow time down even more.


Elijah is very bright and incredibly perceptive. He listens and repeats things that you don’t think he’s paying any attention to. He can count to 20 (maybe higher?), can write his name with minimal prompting, knows all his letters on sight (and can identify a word that starts with that letter for about 50% of them) and numbers up to 12. He can do 50 piece puzzles on his own. I have no idea what average is because it really doesn’t matter to me, so maybe this is normal, but he’s done it all with so little effort on our part (parents of the year) that it feels really amazing. He also absolutely loves to color and paint, which he refers to as “heart.” And heart is a verb. He loves to heart.


When Elijah isn’t a delight, it isn’t that he’s very poorly behaved as much as it’s just that he’s really, really sensitive. I don’t want to pretend like he’s perfect because he’s not. He’s a poor sharer, especially with his cousin and brother and he has a tendency to get defiant with non-preferred things and he can sometimes get physical with Will as well. He’s a normal 3 year old, but, he’s also really tender hearted. Eli still has a hard time when other kids don’t play with his toys the way he thinks they should. While his prior issues with rigidity have improved tremendously in the past year, he still struggles from time to time when a routine is disrupted without warning. It’s hard to balance parenting this child- I have to say no to him and help him toughen up a bit because he has to function in this world, but I also have to remember and respect that he sometimes needs more of an explanation and a gentler hand than other kids do.


While there are a lot of great things about age 3, my favorite things are the mispronunciations and word substitutions. Elijah thinks TV is pronounced “teeveed” and anything small is “little tiny little” which I adore (“Look! It’s a little tiny little bug!”). He thinks food is “b-licious” and that tasty means gross and when he’s suggesting something he tends to say “I sink” instead of “I think.” He thinks (sinks?) all sleeping times are naps and though he’s figuring this one out, Lightning McQueen is still usually “Lightning UhQueen.” There are fewer and fewer of these mistakes and he sounds so grown up and way too articulate. While trick or treating last month one of our neighbors was shocked when Elijah clearly announced that he was “a red Tyrannosaurus Rex, not a lizard.”


Elijah was the perfect first child because in so many ways, he is really, really easy. His preschool teacher commented that even on his crabbiest day, he’s still easier than almost all his classmates on their best days. Elijah is also the most excitable child I’ve ever met. He regularly yells “woohoo!” when we tell him something and he seems to find something exciting everywhere we go. Last month we had lunch at Rainforest Cafe and everyone around us was giggling as Elijah excitedly screamed about every animal he saw. “LOOK MOM! A BUTTERFLY! A ELEPHANT! A MONKEY! FIIIIISH!” It was the best lunch.


While it was a slow warming up period, Elijah has become a really, really excellent big brother. Most of the time. He gets so excited when William does something new and is super excited for him to be walking now. He will plays with Will, gives him toys or food and generally includes him in a lot of things (puzzles are not one of these things). Tonight he even held his hand while they walked across the room (because Will’s pajamas were slippery).


In my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined Elijah. I couldn’t have put together all these personality traits into one tiny little person. I feel spectacularly lucky to be his mom because he is just a really, really great kid. This probably reads as one giant brag and I’m sorry for that, but oh, he’s just wonderful. I can’t believe I’ve already had him for 3.5 years and I just want to bottle him up, right as he is today, and save him forever.


My greatest hope is that I can be the mother he needs me to be, to help him achieve whatever he wants to do with his life. I hope that he feels loved every single day and knows beyond a shadow of a doubt how lucky we feel to be his parents. This child is a gift and I could not be more thankful that he is mine.

(The above photo by Yvonne Valtierra)

Weighty Matters

(Warning- for anyone sensitive to discussions about weight, that’s, uh, what this is.)

When I got pregnant with Elijah, I was happy with my weight. It fluctuated slightly, but I was able to maintain it with minimal effort. I did not realize, at the time, how lucky I was. I still wished to be thinner and took for granted the body I had. While pregnant with Eli, I gained 34 pounds, which was in the 25 to 35 pound recommendation my OB gave me. The week after I had him, I lost about 10 pounds and then from then until I got pregnant with Will, I lost no weight at all.

When pregnant with Will, I gained less than 20 pounds, but I also only lost 10 after he was born. I am just significantly heavier than I was pre-kids and while I would love to blame them, it is, of course, my own fault. I don’t exercise as much, I make poor eating decisions. As much as I want to lose weight, I lose that desire as soon as I’m presented with good food.

I tried Weight Watchers several months ago, but the weight loss was so slow for the amount of effort that I was putting in, that I gave up. It wasn’t that it wasn’t working, it was that only seeing .5-1.5 pounds a week falling off just didn’t seem significant. I know that’s a perfectly reasonable rate of weight loss, it just, I don’t know, psychologically it didn’t work for me. It stopped feeling worth it.

I’m just frustrated. I want to lose weight, and every day, I say I’m going to eat better, but when faced with making good decisions, I don’t. I have no willpower and a serious snacking problem. I love snacks. I love carby, sugary, delicious snacks and I have no limit when I start eating them.

I’ve spent several nights the past few weeks looking around at several popular diets to see if they would be a good fit, but I just don’t think they’re for me. I need flexibility, meaning I need not to have to eat off a list or have shakes, I need to be able to eat out with friends if there is an occasion. So I’m going simple.

I’m tracking calories. I’m not worrying about fat or carbs, but I’m also not eating “low fat” or “low calorie” foods. I’m trying to eat normal foods and watch my portions and if I do eat a big meal, balance it with a smaller next meal (or plan ahead and have a smaller early meal). I’m trying to make a lifestyle change that will hopefully result in lost weight, but that will be a long term manageable thing. I’m also exercising 2 days a week, hoping to increase that as time allows, but for now, working 3 days a week (which often includes exercise) and doing exercise classes on my weekdays off, is a start.

I am also trying to give myself room to mess up. I have a tendency to become a little too rigid and when I fail, I faaaaaaail. I need to be okay with just doing the best I can, even if the best I can is imperfect. I am toying with a “day off” each week- not necessarily an eat all the things day, but a don’t track every morsel that enters my mouth, just because I find that sometimes the calorie counting can become somewhat psychologically exhausting.

The reason I’m writing about it is that I’m hoping it will help me stay a bit more accountable. I’ve tried and failed many times in the past several years and I’m ready to succeed. I want to be healthy for my kids, I want to demonstrate healthy eating and it’s time. I’m ready.

(I hope.)


My friend Yvonne has done family pictures for us twice in the past and the outcome has been great both times. So we were thrilled to do them again last month and these, hands down, are the best pictures we’ve ever had taken. She did an incredible job and it was no easy task. Eli had skipped his nap and jumped on a trampoline for like 3 hours. And had a lunch of cake (it was my niece’s birthday party, I’m not (just) a negligent parent). He was a recipe for disaster, and yet, we have so many great pictures of him. And Will, who was adequately napped (though I did wake him up) was actually much tougher. But you’d never know because the pictures are SO good.

I’m probably biased, but I think she did a tremendous job of capturing our family, just as we are.

c145LOEBFINAL (50 of 54)  c145LOEBFINAL (39 of 54)

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c145LOEBFINAL (29 of 54)

The last one is my favorite, but all of them (and there are many, many more) are amazing.

Cleaner Slate

You found me! Obviously, I have some explaining to do.

Welcome to my new blog. I started writing at Overflowing Brain in 2007. I was 24 years old, engaged and extremely inexperienced in…well, everything. And when I wrote, I held back very little. It was sort of my style- to be honest and open to a fault, only, I seemed to miss the difference between honesty and violating the lives of others. I was warned about what I was doing, but it didn’t slow me down. I was told I would hurt the ones I loved, but I didn’t listen.

I was wrong and stupid.

I shared things that shouldn’t have been shared and wrote things that shouldn’t have been written. And in doing so, I hurt important people in my life. It was stupid and selfish and reflected the person I was 4, 5, 6 and 7 years ago. That’s not the person I am now.

The person I am now, is devastated that I wrote those things, that I hurt those people. The person I am now, realizes how dumb that was and carries deep regret for it. I should have known better, and maybe on some level I did, but I made that mistake anyway, and that’s how we got here.

Speaking of here, you’ll find that some of the archives made their way here, others did not. More will trickle in when I have the time, but it’s a good start for now.

The title of this blog is a reference to a children’s book called Little Boy, by Alison McGhee. The line is, “Little boy, you remind me how, so much depends on days made of now.”

It spoke to me in a few ways, first, it is very much how I became the person I am now. Having my boys was the first and biggest reminder that I cannot live a life that is bogged down by the past. I can’t live in regret, I can’t live worrying about what was. I need to live in the now. Second, as this is my clean(ish) slate, I liked the idea that this blog reflects the person that I am now, not the person I was when I started writing on the internet.

I hope that you’ll bookmark this new site, or grab the feed and stay for a while. I’m still the same person, just without the baggage. It’s lighter here. I think I’m going to like it.

On the Treetop

I feel like I could easily re-devote this blog to what it is like to raise two children who are polar opposites because I would simply never run out of fodder. Will is not Eli. He is just, in no way, what we expected. I mean, I didn’t expect a clone of Elijah, but I guess I expected that if we treated him exactly the same way, that he would respond at least somewhat similarly. But, nope.

So sleeping. Oh the sleeping. Elijah slept through the night for the first time at 11 months old. And here’s how I did it. I went in one night and said, “sorry bud, I’m not going to feed you, go back to sleep.” And he did. And he literally never regressed. He’s 3 years and 5 months old and save for a handful of times where he’s requested water or had a bad dream, he’s never required middle of the night intervention. I guess maybe he set abnormal expectations here and this is all Eli’s fault.

Will, again, is not Elijah. We started co-sleeping, somewhat by accident, when Will was around 4 months old. By 7 months old, we were co-sleeping more than we were not. While it worked for a little while, once Will started crawling, it was causing me a lot of anxiety (babies on beds are not a thing I am comfortable with, mobile babies on beds are literally my nightmare) and I knew we had to change the situation. So we sleep trained. It was terrible and awful, but it worked like a charm. It’s been nearly 6 months and Will hasn’t regressed (although when we go out of town, he often ends up in my bed. But I wouldn’t want to sleep in a pack n play either, so I let that happen pretty unapologetically).

When we sleep trained, we didn’t night wean. I wanted to, but Will’s weight gain was so poor that his GI forbade it. She said that if he gave up the night feedings on his own it was fine, but until he was gaining weight, I was to feed on demand. So I did. I kept thinking, maybe like Elijah, he would gradually taper down to one feeding a night. Or maybe he would give them up altogether.

Ha. Haaaaaaaaaaaano.

Will hit 14 months old and had never slept through the night. In fact, at 14 months, I could literally count on my 10 fingers the number of times he’d been up less than 2 times in a night. Each night was typically between 2 and 4 feedings and he was always up for the day by 6:30am. Without exception. It was maddening and exhausting and it felt never-ending.

So in September (maybe August? I have no idea) we tried to night wean. I followed the same plan I used for the initial sleep training we did and it involved nursing less each night and allowing him to cry (with check ins) in between the scheduled nursing sessions. After 10 nights (6 of those without night nursing), Will was still waking up 3 times and crying for 30 minutes each time. I was getting less sleep with him night weaned than when I was night nursing. And of course, on night 11, he started running a fever, so I gave up.

I kept putting it off and putting it off partially because I don’t like making my child cry and partially because I was afraid we’d fail again. But Thursday night was the worst night of sleep since Will was born and I finally reached my breaking point. Friday night we started the night weaning sleep training. That night was not pleasant, but Saturday night, without any crying, Will slept through the night for the first time. And he slept in until 7:15 and it was GLORIOUS.

He has fussed a little at night the past 2 nights, but nothing significant and I’m basically getting to sleep all night long for the first time in ages. It is magnificent. I cannot possibly overstate how good it feels. I’m expecting regressions (because hey, he’s not Eli. Did you know?), but for the time being, I am enjoying every night that doesn’t involve crying or nursing.

Fingers crossed that for the first time, Will might take after his brother, and the sleeping all night will become a regular event.

What a Difference 14 Months Make!

We had a close call tonight. I was nursing Will before bed and he was 90% asleep when I remembered that we had to take his raccoon picture. I didn’t have it in me to take his jammies off, so this month he’s dressed, but at least I remembered on the right day. All things considered, the picture still came out pretty cute. He was super displeased that he had to go back to bed afterwards, but he’ll be grateful in the morning. (No he won’t. He’s a baby. He doesn’t understand how great sleep is.)

1 day!
1 day

1 month and 1 day!
1 month

2 months and 1 day!

3 months and 1 day!

4 months and 1 day!
will 4mo

5 months and 1 day!
5 months

6 months and 1 day!

7 months and 1 day!
Will 7 months

8 months and 1 day!

9 months and 1 day!
will 9mo

10 months and 1 day!
10 month pic

11 months and 1 day (and 6 hours…)!

1 year and 1 day!

13 months and 1 day!

14 months and 1 day!