There’s Nothing Like Summer in the Suburbs

An itemized list of things currently bringing me joy:

  1. Getting really excited about a new thing and having good friends to share in your fangirl excitement over the thing.
  2. Spending the day swapping inside jokes and new hashtags (#hamilbeans, #hamilsaurusrex, #MondaysAreEspressolyHard), and coming up with modified Hamilton lyrics parodying the events of any given day until you laugh-cry your mascara right off.
  3. When your husband shaves his beard for the second time in the history of your relationship and even though you didn’t like it the first time he did it, it’s cute AF this time (even though he won’t let you take a picture).
  4. Really, really good food.
  5. Post-bedtime deck time with your handsome husband, a glass of wine, and the fire pit.
  6. Date Night.
  7. Coming back from Date Night to big hugs and adorable trembling lips from the two year old because she really missed you. (The trembling lip doesn’t bring me joy so much as knowing how much she loves us does.)
  8. The Harry Potter audiobooks.
  9. Working your way back through the Harry Potter books, simultaneously discovering new things and feeling like you’ve been reunited with an old friend.
  10. The joy on your kids’ faces when you take them to the pool or the splash park or just out to the yard to run through the sprinklers.

    You didn’t really think I’d get through a whole post without a kid photo, did you?
  11. Watching your 4-year-old learn how to write, and listening to him use Hamilton songs to learn to spell his name.
  12. Hearing your 2-year-old who doesn’t speak much try more and more new words and “sing” along with songs every day.
  13. When your kids get to see you dance for the first time and they enjoy the show so much they get up and dance in the aisles right along with you.
  14. Going running, setting new personal records for pace and distance, and learning your body is capable of much more than you ever thought possible.

Emily, Age 2


This little munchkin turned 2 last month! We celebrated her birthday in the usual way — I took the day off work to have a Mommy-Emily Day of Fun with her (Tim happened to be home on Spring Break, so we let him hang out with us too). Usually on the kids’ birthdays we try to go out and to lots of fun things: play at the park, go to the library, etc. But this year, March 31 was a cold and crappy day, so after going out for breakfast we just came home and hung out at the house most of the day. I was initially worried about not being able to give Emily the Super! Fun! Activity-Filled! Day I’d planned. But midway through the afternoon, when Tim had gone to pick up Alexander from daycare, I asked Emily if she was excited for her brother to come home. “No,” she answered matter-of-factly. I chuckled at first, but then I realized she was probably serious. Being the younger kid, she hardly ever gets an hour, let alone a whole day, with Mommy and Daddy all to herself. Alexander got two-and-a-half years of that, but Emily? Not so much. So in the end, the crappy weather worked out in our favor. A whole day for Emily to play with us without having to share toys and attention with her brother was probably one of the best birthday presents she got. (I mean, she loves the water table we gave her and the trampoline and balance bike she got from her grandparents, too, of course — who says 2nd kids aren’t spoiled??)


At age two, Emily’s fully out of the baby stage and into the (mostly) super-fun toddler phase. Can we talk about how cute toddlers are when they run? Stumbling around drunkenly with their arms out like little toddler wings for balance? We’re done having kids and I’m totally okay with leaving the baby stage behind for good, but, man, I’m really going to miss that stumbly toddler run when Emily outgrows it.


I think I mentioned a few months ago that Emily wasn’t talking much yet. She has continued not talking much, and shortly before her birthday we finally caved and had her evaluated to see if she has a speech delay. The early intervention people evaluated all of her areas of development — it was really cool to hang out and watch them play games with her to see how her physical and motor skills were developing — and it turns out she’s an over-achiever in every single developmental area…except speech. At just shy of 24 months, she tested in the 26-32 month range for every area, with her incoming communication — that is, how much she understands when you talk to her — testing the highest. Her outgoing communication (speech), on the other hand, tested at a 14 month level. This isn’t technically enough of a delay to qualify her for speech therapy on its own, but given the huge disparity between that and every other area of her development, they decided to qualify her anyway.

And then we had friends come stay at our house for a week with their 2-year-old daughter who talks a lot, and by the end of the week — right before Emily’s speech therapy started — Emily’s vocabulary had nearly doubled. Peer pressure for the win, right?

We’re continuing with the speech therapy anyway, and she meets with her speech therapist once a week, either at daycare or at our house. She’s picking up a new word every couple of weeks and, unlike a few months ago, is occasionally willing to try new words and sounds when we ask her to.

(Tangent: Tim has had a long-standing deal with Emily that if she’ll say the word “candy,” he’ll give her a piece of candy. She’s never said “candy,” but Tim still reminds her of the deal from time to time just to see if she’ll try. One time, he whispered at her encouragingly, “Emily, can you say ‘candy’?” and she promptly replied in the most sarcastic whisper ever to escape a 2-year-old’s mouth, “Noooooo.” I wanted to give her candy just for making us laugh so hard.)

Anyway. She still doesn’t talk a whole lot, but she’s definitely improving. It’s hard to say if it’s because of the speech therapy or if she’s just finally decided she wants to try to talk, but the speech therapy certainly isn’t hurting.


Two-year-old Emily: just as delightful and fiercely independent and smart and funny as ever. Happy birthday, sweet girl.


How DO they make it? (Don’t answer that)

At the grocery store the other day, Alexander asked me where sausage comes from. “It comes from pigs,” I told him.

This was not a  satisfactory answer. He was quick with a follow-up: “But how do the pigs make it?” At which point I clarified that it’s made out of pigs–it’s pig meat.

He accepted this answer and we went about our day. But I keep replaying his follow-up question and chuckling at the possibilities. What was he imagining? My initial thought was that he pictured pigs  producing sausage in a method similar to how cows produce milk. But the more I think about it, the more I hope he was imagining pigs in a kitchen, chef hats and aprons on, cooking up sausage for us to buy from the store. Little pig sausage chefs!

Alexander and Emily, 4 and 1.5

Alexander at age four, some snapshots:

  • On his birthday, whenever someone told him “Happy Birthday,” he responded “Happy Birthday!” Happy Alexander’s birthday to all, indeed.
  • He’s not shy at all, and getting more and more independent and confident. This has its pros and cons. Pros: he charms the socks off of everyone he meets, he can dress himself in the mornings, brush his own teeth, put on his jacket, etc. Cons: He’s sometimes a little too brave. We had a get together for his birthday at the park behind our house. There are two ways you can get to this park — hop over our back fence (which is how we got there), or walk all the way down our street, and follow the path around the house at the end of the street and behind four other houses…sort of following the sidewalk in a long “U” shape, if that makes sense. So, we’re celebrating A’s birthday with family and neighbors, Tim had helped the kids over the fence and was supervising at the park, and the rest of the adults were hanging out on our deck. At one point, Tim looked at me and asked where Alexander was. At that same moment, Alexander appeared on the deck, coming out from the sliding door into the house. I didn’t think much of it at the time, figuring he somehow climbed back over our relatively short fence himself. Later, though, Tim asked him about it, and, you guys. Alexander, age 4, had simply walked himself home the long way — down the sidewalk behind our neighbors’ houses, around the corner, and back up the street to our house, where he let himself in the front door. All by himself. He was fine, obviously, and we live in a safe neighborhood on a quiet street, but still. My mind spun with all the things that could have happened. After that, we started having more conversations with him about the Rules for being Outside.
  • Speaking of Rules, we’ve started talking to him about things like strangers and appropriate behavior re: private parts, and all those other conversations you wish you didn’t have to have, but are an unfortunate reality. After one such conversation, Tim said to me, “I think the hardest part of parenting is going to be stripping away our kids’ blissfully innocent view of the world.” And…yeah. It is really hard.
  • Alexander has an incredible imagination. He’s so smart and creative, I can hardly stand it. He loves the Dinotrux cartoon on Netflix, and when he spotted some big construction equipment in the neighborhood, he exclaimed, “Look! REAL Dinotrux!” Of course he wanted to go see them right away, but first: “I want to put on my dragon costume and ride my bicycle so I look like a Dinotruck. Because Dinotrux have claws and wheels, and my dragon costume has claws, and my bicycle has wheels!”
  • Smart as he is, he has no real concept of time or measurement, though he tries really hard. I’ll ask him how long it’s going to take him to put his socks on: “Probably about a million hours.” Or how big something is: “About five units.” How many blueberries does he want for dinner? “Twenty-eleven!”
  • He is SUPER into dinosaurs, his favorite being T-Rex. He’ll hear the washing machine making noise from an unbalanced load and say, “Mommy! I just heard a T-Rex!” We found a hole in the back yard and speculated that one of the dogs had dug it, but Alexander was quick to correct us: “I’m pretty sure it was a dinosaur. Probably an Eater-Raptor.”

Emily, at age one-and-a-half, is just as delightful as her brother, but in her own unique ways:

  • If I had to pick one term to describe Emily, it would be Fiercely Independent. She wants to do everything herself, and gets really frustrated if she can’t do it and/or you offer to help. The result is a lot of frustrated screams on her part, but also a lot of huge, proud grins when she succeeds.
  • She’s obviously very smart and understands everything you say, but she’s not saying many words yet. At last count she has fewer than 10 words. It’s so different from Alexander who, at her age, had 30+ words, but she still manages to communicate fairly successfully with us. She’s trying, occasionally, to say more words, but we suspect she’s just frustrated that she can’t speak perfectly, and it’s keeping her from wanting to try. When she does try a new word, and it doesn’t come out exactly right, she is visibly embarrassed and refuses to try again, despite our encouragement. We’re pretty sure she’s just biding her time and one of these days, seemingly out of nowhere, she’s going to whip out a full paragraph of precisely pronounced words.
  • She has opinions. She insists on picking out her own clothes each morning, and her jammies at night. And if you try to suggest that her chosen sun dress may not be the best choice for a snowy day, Lord help you. Remember the fiercely independent bit I mentioned above? Yeah, better just pair a cardigan and leggings with that sundress rather than try to convince her to wear more seasonally appropriate clothing.
  • I’m almost afraid to mention it publicly, but Emily is an amazing sleeper. I remember hours upon hours of bedtime battles with Alexander, and to this day we still sometimes have to bribe him to stay in his room after bedtime. But Emily? TOTAL opposite. I change her diaper, put her jammies on, read a quick story, and — if I’m lucky — get to snuggle her for a couple of minutes before putting her in bed. The snuggles are all for my benefit, though; she doesn’t tolerate much before she’s turning in my arms and pointing at her crib. The child asks to be put in bed. And then stays there happily once she’s there. I didn’t know children came in this model, but I highly recommend getting one like her if you can.
  • Emily’s also developing a sense of humor, and, if you ask her, she’s absolutely hilarious. Oh, were we in the car more than 30 seconds and you thought she’d keep her shoes and socks on? NOPE! Hilarious! Did you put her hair in adorable pigtails and expect it to stay that way? But look how funny it is when she pulls it down and sweeps her hair into her face again! Hilarious! Did you want her to come put her jacket on? Silly you, it’s WAY funnier for her to run down the hall as fast as she can, giggling all the way.
  • As is the case with most younger siblings, I assume, she wants to be just like her big brother and do everything that he does (except talk, apparently). Watching them play together, pausing occasionally to give each other hugs and kisses, is everything we hoped for when we decided to have a second kid.




Tim and I celebrated our tenth anniversary on Friday. In many ways our wedding day feels like only yesterday, but when I really think about everything we’ve done in the past decade — bought two houses (and sold one), figured out our career paths (which included grad school and a Master’s degree for Tim), had two children, explored a lot of great new places — then, yeah, ten years seems about right.

Before we got married, the priest who married us had us meet with him for a few sessions of pre-marital counseling. As part of the first session, he put us in separate rooms and had us take a compatibility-type test. It covered a wide range of topics, ranging from whether we’d discussed how many kids we wanted and parenting strategies, to how we handled arguments and apologies, to what we might do if we discovered our spouse had a drug problem. The questions were structured to gauge how much we’d discussed these issues, not to see if we could get the “right” answer. It was designed, I think, to see whether we were on the same page about things that would ultimately be important factors in our relationship.

When we were finished and back together in one room, the priest came in with our scores. He asked us, with only the smallest hint of suspicion, “Did you guys compare answers while you were taking this?” Now, remember, this was 10 years ago, before smart phones and texting were commonplace; if we’d wanted to cheat off each other’s tests while we were in separate rooms, it would have involved some covert T-9 texting that would have been a major pain in the ass. We assured him we had done no such thing. “It’s just that I’ve never seen a couple get such a high percentage of the same answers before,” the priest explained. My inner competitor did a big fist-bump of victory: we’d aced the test!

In all seriousness, all it meant was that we’d already discussed the Big Issues before coming to counseling. The test just helped confirm for the priest what Tim and I already knew: we were ready to take on the commitment of marriage.

We completed the rest of our counseling sessions and continued to have valuable discussions. By the end of it, the idea that we’d cheated on the test had become a shared joke, and all three of us–Tim, me, and the priest–were confident that this would be a strong marriage. At our wedding, the priest’s wife signed our guest book, “Congratulations to the Most Compatible Couple!”

Ten years later, as we sat on our deck enjoying a glass of wine, the cool summer evening air, and the simple joy of a conversation uninterrupted by kiddos who had since gone to bed, Tim asked me how I feel I’m different now than I was ten years ago. A few answers came to mind. I’m more laid back now than I used to be. Tim’s calm attitude has rubbed off on me, which has been helpful in navigating the world of parenting in which very little remains within my control. He and I both agreed that today, compared to ten years ago, we feel a lot more settled. We’re not biding our time in a just-for-now house, but instead own the home we plan to stay in until our kids force us into a nursing home; we’re not waiting to have kids, or more kids, but rather feel that our family is complete; and we’re happy, oh, so happy.

At our wedding, Tim’s best man said in his toast that he hoped our wedding day was not the happiest day of our lives, but rather that our years together would be filled with happier and happier days to come. And that’s exactly what’s happened. Our wedding day was the happiest day of my life–at the time. As happy as I was that day, I’m even happier now, ten years later.

That compatibility test was right: Tim and I are a great team. We’ve come a long way together in the last decade, and we’ve come out even better than we started. I look forward to finding even more happiness together in the coming decades.

Alexanderisms: Part Two

Scene: Tim and Alexander are changing Alexander’s sheets, and Alexander asks about the waterproof mattress cover. Tim explains that it keeps the mattress clean in case Alexander’s pullup leaks in the night.

Alexander agrees that we wouldn’t want the mattress to get dirty, “Because then we would have to clean my mattress. And it wouldn’t even fit in my [laundry] hamper!”

Scene: I’m trying to convince Alexander to come out to breakfast with me and a couple friends, one of whom has a sweet new baby boy. Not above bribery, I offer him a big muffin, a smoothie, a hot chocolate, anything in exchange for him coming with me, all of which he turns down. Finally, I say, “What if I told you that if you come with me, you’ll get to meet a new baby?”

He puzzles over this for a minute and says, “But…I like the baby we already have.”

(Once I convinced him we wouldn’t be trading Emily in for the new baby, he agreed to go with me.)

Scene: At the dinner table, Alexander is silently gesturing and nodding as if he’s having a pretend conversation with someone.

I ask him, “Who are you talking to, Buddy?”

“I’m talking to me.”

“Oh,” I reply, “you’re talking to yourself? And what are you talking about?”

He pauses, uncertain, then: “Um, Mommy? Can you tell me what I’m talking about?”

Scene: In the car on the way to daycare.

“Mommy, I wish our house was a different color.”

I tell him that maybe we’ll paint it someday, but not for a really long time, so of course he asks, “Can we paint our house on the next stay-home days?” (“Stay-home days” is what he calls weekends.)

I explain that painting the house takes a really long time, and when we do it, it’ll take so long that we won’t have any time to play, so we’ll have to wait and paint the house on a stay-home day when we don’t want to play.

After a minute, he asks, “What do you want to do on the next stay-home days, Mommy?”

“I want to play!” I tell him without hesitation.

“Okay…” he says. Then, ever the problem-solver: “Oh! I have an idea! You and Daddy and Emily can play, and I’ll paint the house!”

Background: Miss Linda, our daycare provider, loves our kids to pieces, and she often pretends to munch on Emily’s chubby thighs, for obvious reasons (baby thighs are delicious).

Scene: I’m putting Alexander to bed on a Sunday night, and he asks if tomorrow is a stay-home day or a Miss Linda day. I tell him it’s going to be a Miss Linda day, and he immediately gets very serious.

“I’m not really comfortable going to Miss Linda’s.”

I know Linda takes excellent care of our kids, so I’m not really concerned when he says this, but I still ask some follow-up questions, just to be sure. Eventually, he admits that he has fun playing at Miss Linda’s, but he has one very serious concern:

“But, Mommy…Miss Linda just thinks that Emily is something to eat.”

Emily’s First Year

Emily is officially a one-year-old! (Plus a couple weeks…I’m a little late with this post.)


She’s the cutest one-year-old girl I’ve ever encountered, that’s for sure.


One-year-old Emily loves playing at the park. The swings are always a hit, but once she discovered the slide, it quickly moved into first place on her list of favorites. She can’t get enough.

PicMonkey Collage

One-year-old Emily loves hugging her stuffed animals…and then immediately shoving them to the floor, lest too much positive attention go to their heads.


One-year-old Emily loves holding on to Mommy’s hair whenever possible. She doesn’t pull, just holds on to it like a security blanket whenever I’m holding her. She gets mad when I have my hair in a pony tail and it’s harder for her to grab a handful.


One-year-old Emily has a fancy new carseat, which she seems to like much better than the infant bucket seat. She still doesn’t really love riding in the car, but she fusses less in the new seat than she did in the old one.


One-year-old Emily is growing up fast, but she’s not quite ready to sit in the driver’s seat without a healthy dose of skepticism. We’ll try again in about 15 years.


One-year-old Emily can stand up on her own, but only if she doesn’t realize she’s doing it. As soon as she notices she’s standing unsupported, she quickly sits down.


One-year-old Emily loved celebrating her birthday, both the small party we had with family…

20150328_1455252015-03-22 16.29.21

…and the celebration we had, just the four of us, on her actual birthday.


One-year-old Emily really loves cheesecake.


One-year-old Emily has brought us so much laughter and joy. I can’t believe we got so lucky not just once, but twice. We have the very best children. The very best.

I thought it might be bittersweet to reach this milestone since we don’t plan to have more children, but it turns out it’s far more sweet than bitter. There’s a small part of me that will always be nostalgic for those tiny baby snuggles, but more than anything, I feel relieved to have the baby days behind us. Now we get to watch our babies grow into kids, and every day we get more glimpses of the people they’re going to grow up to be. It’s so much fun. I love it, and I’m so excited for the next part of this crazy parenthood journey.

Plus, nobody can look a picture like this and argue that Emily’s not still my baby. I mean, look:


That’s My Boy

Alexander, what do you want to be when you grow up?

“Well, I dunno!”

You can be whatever you want to be. A doctor, a firefighter…

“Oh, yeah! I could be a fireman and then I can wear my fireman hat!”

Yeah, or whatever else you want. Do you think you want to be a teacher like Daddy?

“Yes! Or…wait. No, I don’t want to be as tall as Daddy. I wanna be big like you, Mommy!”

Do you know what Mommy does?


Mommy’s an editor. Do you know what that means?

“Ummm, no.”

It means that Mommy helps fix words. Like, if someone writes some words, and maybe gets some letters mixed up or puts the words in the wrong order, Mommy helps fix it up.

“Oh, yeah! I wanna be like you, Mommy!”

You want to be an editor?


Emily’s Eleventh Month

Emily is 11 months old!


These days, Emily…


…eats everything in sight. She went from refusing to let anything other than pureed food anywhere near her mouth to putting everything in her mouth practically overnight. Now she’s constantly stealing bites of whatever we’re eating, feeding herself small things like Cheerios, and has even figured out how to drink through a straw.


Chewing is still a tough concept for her, so we have to break all her food into tiny pieces, but it’s nice not to be spoon-feeding her 5+ tubs of purees every day. This girl has an appetite, and she’s in that early-eater stage where she’s not picky and is happy to try everything. It’s really great.


…sleeps through the night! She’s actually been doing this since about 9.5 months, I just forgot to mention it before now. It’s really nice not to be waking up at 3am every night, let me tell you. About a month ago, when Alexander was having nightmares pretty frequently, I told Tim that since Emily was finally sleeping, I could start helping out with Alexander’s wake-ups again. And do you know what Tim told me? Tim, who I sometimes think values his sleep over almost everything else in life? He told me, “Don’t worry about it; you deserve a break.” You guys. Tim is the very best.


…cruises, crawls, and gets into everything. We’ve reached the fun stage where she is constantly opening drawers and pulling everything out. Let me tell you how much I love it. (Not a lot.) And she’s obsessed with the dishwasher. Whenever she hears Tim start to do the dishes, she makes a bee-line across the house to climb in the dishwasher and help. Let me tell you how much Tim loves it. (Not a lot.)


…wears hairclips for up to 5 minutes at a time before yanking them out. Good thing she’s ridiculously cute even when her bangs are in her eyes.


…enjoys playing in the snow…


…dancing to the music her jumperoo plays…


…and, of course, spending as much time with her brother as possible.


She’s going to be a whole year old soon, which doesn’t seem even remotely possible. But then I look back at pictures from when she was born, and I can’t believe she was ever such a tiny little thing. She’s grown up so much in the past 11 months!

Emily’s Tenth Month

It’s been a big month for Emily!


She got to play in the snow!


And go sledding for the first time, which she totally loved.


And then later in the month, she got to play in the sun at the park, because winter in Colorado is nothing if not inconsistent.


This girl is pretty fearless, and continues to have zero sense of self-preservation. She climbs everything in sight and wants to be in the center of the action at all times.


Wherever Brother is, that’s where she wants to be. Luckily, Alexander tends to be very good at accommodating her desire to be near him most of the time.


These kids love each other so much.


Emily also grew a tooth! And then another one! Despite the above photo evidence to the contrary, 95% of the time she still steadfastly refuses to put anything in her mouth that’s not (a) her hand, (b) milk, or (c) a puree. We’ve still go a ways to go before she’s feeding herself finger foods.


But perhaps the most exciting thing that happened this month (most exciting for me, anyway) was that we accidentally gave Emily some pudding. With milk in it. And…she didn’t react. Not even a hint of a rash.


So, after consulting with her pediatrician, we started experimenting with more dairy products, first with her eating them, then moving on to me eating a little bit of dairy when she still didn’t react. Long story short, I’m eating pizza right this very minute. Cheesy, delicious pizza! I can hear a chorus of angels singing with every bite.


She also does the adorable baby booty dance when she hears music, which is one of the best milestones in all of babyhood, in my humble opinion.


Emily Judith, a.k.a Ems, a.k.a StinkerDoodle: Ten months old, full of mischief, and absolutely the best little girl ever.