Thursday, November 26, 2015


Dear Baby #3,

Hi. I'm your dad.

Today is Thanksgiving, and of all the things I'm thankful for today, the most intense is you. I'm thankful for your mom, of course, and for Maddie and Simon and all of our family and friends near and far. But as I sit here tonight while everybody else sleeps, full of turkey and apple dumplings, all of my thoughts of the past and future are for you.

I want to tell you a story. It's going to seem a bit of a strange story, because it doesn't start out so great for you, dearest third child. But give me the benefit of the doubt here and hear me out. I think you'll like it in the end.

For me, the story of you and how you came to be starts with your pregnant mom crying her eyes out in the passenger seat of a car parked in a small lot behind a Subway in Issaquah while I looked on in awe and confusion. You're going to think she was pregnant with you, obviously, but she wasn't. That was Simon in there. See, while driving to the Subway to get your mom one of the tuna subs she so desperately needed, your mom and I had been having what I thought was a casual conversation about how many children we ultimately wanted. This was a conversation that had been going on since (literally) the day we met. I remarked (casually) that I wasn't sure I wanted more than two, because at the time, even that many seemed terrifying and daunting. Maddie was a handful and I didn't even know Simon yet. Three seemed incomprehensibly crazy.

The conversation continued on its usual course, but by the time we parked, your mother was suddenly sobbing. "What's wrong?!" I asked, in a tone more shocked than anything. The outburst seemed out of nowhere to me, and honestly that wasn't all that unusual while your mother was pregnant. "This just can't be my last pregnancy," she said through her tears.

The thing I had failed to realize will likely be obvious to you: She loved you even then. At a time when I was feeling overwhelmed by the mere thought of raising two children, at a time when Simon still hadn't even been born and all of my thoughts for the future seemed to rest with him, your mom was already imagining you and singing you songs in her head. So deep was her love for you and her need for you that my casual remark had taken on far more weight than I'd intended. To her, you weren't an abstract idea of 'maybe a third someday'. You were real and you were you.

There's more to this tale, of course, because a lot of things happened between then and now, and I'll tell you about all of them, but here we are, two years after that day, and now I can feel what she was feeling. Now you are you and I can't imagine anything else. She's always been ahead of me in things like this.

I love you, whoever you are in there. I love you whether you are a boy or a girl and whatever we end up naming you. I love you whether you're loud or contemplative or silly. I love you whether you're a baseball player or an astronaut or a saxophonist. I love you whether you are all of these things or none of them. You are wonderful and I can't wait to meet you.



Saturday, January 17, 2015

Happy Birthday, Simon!

Dear Simon,

Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, you will be one year old. A whole year. My baby boy went to sleep tonight, and a one-year-old will be yelling for me in the morning. I'm tempted to say things like, "You'd think I'd be used to this after going through it with your sister!" But that's silly, both because there's no way to get used to it, and because this post is all about you.

Here's the thing, Simon: You are growing up to be an incredible little boy. I want to tell you about all of the ways, but I couldn't possibly cover all of them, so you'll have to settle for a few.

We were talking today about how little and red and scrunchy you were when you were born. Now you are neither little, nor red, nor scrunchy. You are tall and fair and handsome with beautiful blue eyes.

You walk now! Walk! Until very recently it's been more like 'careening' than 'walking'. You would stand up, get up a head of steam in a direction, and keep plowing ahead faster and faster until you ran into something. Not a lot of finesse, but so much determination! The past few days you've walked with a lot more style. Crazy how that happens all of a sudden.

You are asleep right now. In your crib. Where you have slept through the night almost every night since we started trying to 'sleep train' you. 'Sleep training' is a weird term. See, you used to get up like 400 times a night and you would need to breastfeed every one of those times and eventually your exhausted mother would bring you into bed and you would sleep with a boob in your mouth until morning. That's going to be a really awkward thing for you to read when you're 14, but it's the truth. You have to live with the consequences of your actions, Simon. But eventually we realized that couldn't last forever and said, "Okay, tonight he's going to sleep in the crib and he's going to stay there all night even if he yells and the neighbors hate us." And you did yell. A lot. You're kind of a yeller. But the next night you yelled less, and the next night you just slept. Since then, that's pretty much how you've been. I guess you're a fast learner. There is a dark side to this, however. You wake up practically every morning at 5:30am. Well, not every morning. Some mornings you wake up at 4:00am. And once you are awake, you do not go back to sleep. I will admit that I don't always find this trait particularly charming, but it is sometimes nice to get to spend a little time playing with you while the world is still dark and asleep. Just maybe not every morning?

You love to figure things out. It's amazing to watch you get focused on a task. We have a Leap Pad, which is kind of like a tablet computer for toddlers. You are definitely not old enough to use it. But that hasn't stopped you one bit. One day you sat in the middle of the living room floor and just turned it on and off over and over again. Thirty times you turned that thing on and off until you were satisfied with how that particular function worked. Soon after that you were choosing a profile (your mom's) and picking games and playing them. There's one where you have a virtual sheep and you get to feed it apples and carrots and things. Every time you tap the screen it drops one and the sheep walks over and eats it. You think this is HILARIOUS every time. You laugh and laugh and laugh and it's so much fun to watch.

You love trucks and cars and construction equipment, which is funny to me because it's not really something I ever remember being into at all. One of your first words was 'caaaah', which is how people from Boston say 'car'. You like to drive cars (and other things that you pretend are cars) around on the floor. You used to love the book "Good Night, Good Night Construction Site" and I guess you still do, but your favorite book right now is called "Little Blue Truck," which is about exactly what it sounds like. Your mom makes the best 'beep beep' sounds when she reads it to you. I'm not as good at it. But you love that book. You also love a book called "I Am A Bunny," so it's not just trucks. Your favorite part is pointing to the bunny on every page, and you get very excited about it.

You challenge us constantly, because you are so headstrong, and I think you get very frustrated that there are things you just can't do yet. You'll get there, Simon. I so look forward to watching you grow up and figure all of these things out, but it also seems like you're growing up way too fast. I guess every parent says that, but I hope you'll forgive me for being a bit cliché.

Happy birthday, Simon. We love you so much!



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Dear Maddie and Simon,

We haven't written in this blog since June, but we do have an excuse. You both keep us busier than I could ever have imagined before parenthood! And it's wonderful, don't get me wrong. But still. So busy.

Maddie, I'm calling it. You are DAYTIME POTTY TRAINED. We are so proud of you! This really shows us all that potty training happens when toddlers are ready and not before, because we tried a little less than a year ago, and it just wasn't sticking. Then, last weekend, totally out of the blue, you announced that you had to use the bathroom. So we helped you out of your diaper, and you pushed your potty stool over to the toilet, climbed on up, and did your thing. Many, many times throughout the day. You've been doing it ever since! No accidents, just potty time. (Sorry. I'm sure this is mortifying. Twelve-year-old Maddie will read this and say, "God, Mom! Is nothing sacred?!" But I'm writing this because twenty-three-year-old Maddie may wonder what was going on with herself at two-and-a-half years old, and twenty-nine-year-old Maddie may be looking for potty training tips for her own tot, and my tip is not to worry about it. It'll happen.) Anyway, SO PROUD OF YOU. You are just a supremely awesome little girl.

What else have you been up to? Well, school. You're in the 2s room at the co-op, and you love it. Your favorite things are the play kitchen area, the sensory table, and the water table. There's a carton of play eggs in the kitchen area, and you introduce them to the other kids and the teachers as your ghosts. As in:

"Oh, are those your eggs, Maddie?"
"No. These are my ghosts."

That really stops a conversation in its tracks, but your dad and I think it's hilarious. We can't help it. You're weird in the best way.

One time, you drank the water in the water table. I said: "No, Maddie! Don't drink that water! Just pretend!" You answered: "I am just pretending. I'm just pretending it's tea."

You take ballet with Miss Chelsea, and you love it. You love the tutu, you love the songs, you love ballet.

You and Simon are taking another semester of Music Together, because even though I am always worried about over-scheduling you, and even though (frankly) I don't love putting on actual pants every morning, Simon is so into Music Together, and you seem to still really love it, too. The shaky eggs are both of your favorites.

Simon, you are WALKING. Walking! I have two walking children. I can't even believe it. You've grown so much over the last half year, I don't even know where to start. You say "mama," "dada," "car," "kitty," "rolllll ball," and "YAY!" You are cute as a button. I want to chew on your cheeks 100% of the time. You're going to be one year old on January 18th, and that makes me want to cry, but it also makes me really happy, because you're growing to be such a sweet, gentle, hilarious little boy. You make the best faces. You bite, and that's not my favorite thing in the world, but hopefully by the time you're able to read this, you will no longer be a biter. Your favorite book is Little Blue Truck.

You and Maddie had your very first haircuts together on Monday! Here are some sad/funny/adorable pictures.

This is going to be a pitifully short post, but I'll try to get back in the habit of frequent posting. Nay, I resolve to get back in the habit of frequent posting.

Happy New Year, sweet babies.

Your Mama

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Our Day in Portland

Dear Maddie and Simon,

We spent today in Portland, Oregon. (Simon, it was your first time there! Unless you count our visit when you were a fetus about the size of a golfball.) It was not without adventure. It was not without excitement. It was not without some cheese vomit all over the backseat.

Poor Maddie. This was actually the second time you threw up cheese in the car, so we're thinking that a.) you get carsick just like Mommy, and b.) we should stop feeding you cheese before car trips. We pulled over to the side of the highway, I cleaned you up with an absurd number of diaper wipes, we stuck poor Elmo and your clothes into a plastic bag (they were victims of the cheesy splash, but don't worry - they're all currently in the washing machine), and Daddy stopped at the nearest Fred Meyer to buy you some new clothes. He picked out a Frozen tee shirt that had Queen Elsa on it, and you were very pleased. 

We arrived in Portland, about three hours from Issaquah, and went to Grant Park. Grant Park is home of the Beverly Cleary sculpture garden! (Beverly Cleary wrote the Ramona books. By the time you are able to read this, you will probably know how much I love the Ramona books. I hope you'll love them, too!)

After we played at Grant Park for a bit (that's where Ramona and Beezus played too, you know. Beezus Quimby, not Beezus Lute), we headed to Mississippi Marketplace to meet up with Abbie and Ben. Maddie, you remember Abbie. She spent Thanksgiving with us last year. She's a friend of mine from college. Simon, you were such a smiley guy while she was holding you!

Portland is the City of Roses, and there are roses everywhere. It's beautiful. But the most beautiful place of all (in your mom's opinion, anyway) is the International Rose Test Garden in Portland. We headed there after lunch. It was spectacular!

After the International Rose Test Garden, we went to the Japanese Gardens, which were also beautiful. Maddie, you told us that your favorite part was seeing the koi fish.

That's us, on the bridge! (Us and Clifford the Big Red Stroller.)

It was a long, wonderful day, and we're so glad we got to spend it with you. Very happily, there was no vomit on the way home. Just a couple of sleeping cuties in the backseat.

Your Mama

Friday, June 6, 2014

A snapshot of things right now.

Dear Maddie and Simon,

That's right! This is a blog post for both of you. Can you dig it? We've had a really busy week (Music Together, my writing critique group, playgroup, play dates, lots of errands, some fun shopping, some grocery shopping), so we're staying at home today, playing, relaxing a little, and catching up on things like thank you notes and Simon's baby book. While I was sticking some pictures in Simon's book and writing about his sleeping habits, I realized that there are more things I want to hold onto. More than there is room for in both of your baby books combined, and more than our camera phones capture, though they capture an awful lot. So here's where we are right now.

Maddie, you just turned two years old. I get the strangest combination of feelings sometimes when I look at you or talk to you. I am so joyful and proud that you are this incredibly, shockingly smart little girl. And you are such a little girl. You aren't the baby that you were last year, and that makes my heart hurt an enormous amount, but there's still that huge joy, because you are becoming so many wonderful things, and such a wonderful little person. I told you it's a strange feeling. Motherhood is a really strange thing. I am happy and sad at the same time all the time. I am full of love for you even when I am furious, and even when I'm trying to hurry you along ("Let's hurry so we don't get closed in the elevator door! Let's hurry to music class because we're going to be late!") I'm also wishing I could slow you down.

Your vocabulary is out of control. I can't answer the question "How many words does she have?" anymore. You have all of the words. Well, you have all of the words you've been exposed to, anyway. At playgroup the other day, you wanted to play the "pee-no-no," which is your very cute word for piano. You don't really do that with most other words, so I'm not going to correct you. Ever. Maybe someday you'll study classical piano at Juilliard, and you'll walk out onto a huge stage, and there'll be two thousand people in the audience, and you'll say "I'm Madeline Lute, and I'm going to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for you tonight on this Steinway Grand Pee-No-No." No one will correct you then, either, because you're freaking Madeline Lute, the amazing classical pianist.

You're potty training! Some days we have no accidents at all. You blew my mind yesterday when you told me you needed to use the potty in a store, and your Pull-Up was completely dry, and you just went on the potty, and that was that. When we have days like yesterday, I think to myself, "She is potty trained!" Then, today, I was on the phone with my friend Diane, and you had more than one accident in that short amount of time, despite my asking you every few minutes if you needed to use the potty. I suspect that had to do with me being on the phone. On days like today, I think to myself, "She is potty training." And then I think to myself, "Better do a load of laundry. And wipe up that small puddle." But it's cool. That was hours ago. We're cool.

You do stairs now. You hold my hand and walk on the sidewalk. You sleep in your toddler bed in the nursery with no gate in your doorway! Okay, so sometimes you escape. Sometimes you army crawl into the living room after your bedtime. We catch you and put you back in your bed and tuck you in, and sometimes we have to repeat this whole process between two and seven times. In the mornings, you come into our room and say "Good morning, Mommy! Good morning, Daddy! Good morning, Simon!" This is really sweet when it's actually morning. It was less sweet at 2:00am today, but it happens. Time is confusing when you can't read it. I understand. You eat at our table with us, and don't even use a booster seat! Simon sits next to you in the high chair.

Your brother adores you. ADORES you. He laughs at everything you do. As far as Simon is concerned, you are Red Buttons. (Red Buttons was a comedian. He is not a very timely reference.) You are so loved by your family, little girl.

Simon, you are almost five months old. No, let's not rush it. You're four and a half months old. You are a completely adorable bear cub. You started eating solids on Wednesday, and to be honest with you, even though it was just a couple tablespoons of sweet potato mixed with breastmilk, I still wanted to cry over it. But you were so ready to eat, and you're doing a great job with that sweet potato. You're not so into infant oatmeal, but give it time. In a few days, we'll move onto carrots! You're growing fast, and just like your sister, I wish I could hit pause for a little while, but it's still so exciting to see you becoming this wonderful, bright, funny little boy.

You can sit up for forty-five seconds, unassisted. Then you tip over. You laugh and smile all the time, and you began really rolling over yesterday! You did it several times during the day, and then when you were in your bassinet last night I kept hearing kerthud. I'd look at you, find you awake and on your belly, and then roll you back over onto your back. I'd put my head back on my pillow, and then kerthud again. There you were, on your belly again, and very proud of yourself. I hope you know how much we love you. And we love you so, so much.

As a matter of fact, I love you both so much, I can hardly stand it.

Your Mama

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Happy Second Birthday, Maddie!

Dear Maddie,

Today you are two! TWO! Like, two YEARS. Not two days or two weeks or two sandwiches. Can you believe there was actually a time when you were two sandwiches old? I just read through the post I wrote for your first birthday to give me some inspiration and it's amazing to consider how much has changed in just a year.

For starters, right now you are sleeping in your own bed in your own room. You only got up like 4 times before saying down for the night, too. And before you went to sleep (without a binky), you used the big girl potty. All of these things seemed impossible a year ago, and now they're just a part of every day.

This has been an exciting birthday for you. Your Aunt Anni came to visit. We had a great party with lots of your friends at a local crepes and tea joint with a slide (what, every town doesn't have one of those?). You've gotten presents on like 4 days in a row. Today we played on a playground, which is just about your favorite thing in the world to do. I think you've really loved it all.

Last year, I wrote about how an average day tends to go, and that seems appropriate to do again, because it gives a fun snapshot of what life was like for us the day you turned two.

You wake me up in the morning. Every morning. I set my alarm for 7:00am, but I literally cannot remember the last time I was woken up by my alarm and didn't have to go running into the other room to shut it off after I'd been up with you for two hours. You get up by 5:30am without fail. WITHOUT FAIL. Usually, you're in bed by 8:00pm. Sometimes, when you seem especially tired at night, we put you to bed at 7:00pm. This always seems like a brilliant idea at the time, but less brilliant the next morning at 4:30am when you're awake, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to face the day.

The past few mornings, the first thing you ask to do is use the potty, and so we do that. This potty training thing is crazy, and it's weird to publicly discuss your bodily functions like this, but I'm so very proud of how well you've taken to it. We're not all the way there yet, but you're definitely on board with the idea and that's life-changingly awesome for all of us.

After you've pottied, you usually ask for 'partoons and milko'. The problem with 5:30am is that cartoons don't even start on PBS until 6am, so usually we play a little, or I lie down on the couch and try to convince you that we're playing a game called 'rest on the couch' and the person who sleeps the longest wins. You're usually too smart for this game.

Can we talk for a moment about cartoons? Most cartoons are terrible. For example, the worst cartoon on television is Super Why. It doesn't make any sense. They claim that reading lets you 'change the story', which is pretty exactly what reading doesn't let you do. I think they're thinking of 'writing'. And the answers they always find to their problems are ridiculous. "Oh, your brother is mad because you broke his skateboard? The solution is 'ASK FIRST'." That's not even a solution to your current problem! That's a solution to a problem you don't actually have. Maybe that answer and a time machine AND you not breaking the skateboard would be a good solution. But you love it, and it seems to actually be teaching you things because you can spell words and you know your alphabet...but man is it awful. Peg + Cat on the other hand is practically the best show on television in any time slot. Anyway, those are my current feelings on 'partoons'.

So you and I hang out and play and watch cartoons and I try to convince you to eat various things and you tell me 'no' about 700 times until I eventually stumble upon the thing you actually want. At some point, your mom and Simon wake up and we all hang out for a little bit until it's time for me to take a shower and get ready for work. I complain a lot about the early mornings, but I'll tell you a secret: I actually really enjoy getting to spend some time with you alone, I just wish it didn't have to be before the sun was up.

I head off to work, and your mom texts me with funny stories about your day. You and mom and Simon are social butterflies. Some days you have Music Together. Some days you have a play group. Some days you go to the park or go hiking or I don't even know what. I can't keep track. I don't know how your mom does it. She's a hero, and she must love you guys an awful lot to run around as much as she does. You love all of it, though.

When I come home from work, you tell me all about who you saw and what you did. You often tell me there was a water table there, even when there wasn't. I guess you really like water tables. While dinner is being prepared, you often like to go out on our balcony and talk to the 4-year-old boy who lives downstairs. That's fine for now, but I'll be keeping an eye on that as you get older. Then we all eat dinner. You don't sit in a high chair anymore (Simon sits there now). You sit in a big girl chair at the table with us. You eat the same thing we do, and sometimes even use a fork.

After dinner, it's time for your bath. This is still one of my favorite times of day. You just love baths so much. We play and sing songs and make dinosaur noises. Sometimes lately Simon has been sharing your bath with you, which is fun, but I think you much prefer when you have the whole thing to 'swim' in, as you say. You've recently discovered that you can pull up the shower doo-dad when I'm not looking and cause it to 'rain' on both of our heads, which surprises me every time it happens. You'd really think I would learn. You still don't like getting out of the bath at all, though you've now grown to tolerate it a bit because you suddenly love brushing your teeth, and if getting out of the bath means you get to demand that we brush your teeth, then so be it.

Once bathtime is over, we play a little bit more, mom puts your hair up, and then it's mom's turn to get some alone time with you. I take Simon and keep him entertained while mom puts you to bed and reads you some stories. Some of your favorite stories right now include "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and "Murray book", which is a Sesame Street book about words. Until VERY recently, you wouldn't go to bed until we'd read "Sheep Book", which is about various mama animals putting baby animals to sleep. Your tastes change suddenly, though, so next week will probably be different.

After stories are done, your mom puts on a CD for you. The current playlist is a Disney Lullaby CD, and we usually let that play through twice before we're confident you're asleep. Once the music is playing, she feeds Simon, and I'm on 'put Maddie back in bed' duty. This duty has gotten much easier over time. I used to have to put you back to bed about 30 times a night before you were really down for good. Now it's usually more like 4.

Once you're asleep, mom and I get to have grown-up talk, which in all honestly is usually just us talking about you and Simon. Then we go to bed way too early and get up in the morning to do it all again. Our lives right now are lives of routine, but it's kind of a wonderful routine when nobody is screaming.

I love you, little girl. Happy birthday! Please don't grow up too fast.



Saturday, January 25, 2014

Maddie Says

Dear Maddie,

The birth of your brother has really opened my eyes to how big you're getting. You're so tall now, your legs are so long, and you're growing up more and more each day.

The other day I said to your mom, "It makes me sad is that one day I'll probably forget most of the funny figures of speech and mannerisms Maddie uses every day right now." I'm sure I'll only be able to remember some right now as I try to write this down, but you say some funny things, little girl, and I'd like to record for future reference. Someday I'll be old and my brain won't work. Like 200 years from now.

You'll also note that everything you say ends in an exclamation mark, because...well, it does.


"Hold it, _______!"

When you see something you want, you don't say 'want' or 'gimme' or just the name of the thing. No, for as long as I can remember, you've said "Hold it, _____." It sounds like you're issuing commands to Zork, and it's awesome. A typical conversation goes something like this:

Maddie: Duck!
Mom: Yes, that is a duck!
Maddie: Hold it, duck!

Often this is an actual duck, and you cannot 'hold it, duck.' In those cases, you get very angry, but soon there's something else you want to hold and all is well.


For some reason, you call milk 'milko'. I think we can all agree this is way better than the 'real' word. So much so, that I'm going to petition the OED to get it changed.


Every night, when I capture you for your bath, I sing "TAAAAAAAAKE a bath!" in a very loud, operatic voice. I also took to doing this when it was time to "TAAAAAAKE a nap!" You, my daughter, think you are very clever, and now whenever I say, "TAAAAAAAKE a bath!" you respond, "TAAAAAAAAKE nap!" or vice versa, as though you think you're going to confuse me. It hasn't worked yet, but someday you're going to find yourself with a very wet nap.

"Strawberry berries!"

Somehow, you got it in your head that strawberries should always be called by their more formal name, "strawberry berries." Because strawberries are among your favorite things, we hear this one repeated over and over a lot.


This one is sort of my personal favorite, and what prompted the original desire to record some of these things, as you now say 'spider', which while more likely to allow you to communicate with humans, isn't nearly as cute. Especially since you always yelled it at the top of your lungs. Now when you say the Itsy Bitsy Spider with us, you can complete the lines that end in 'spider', 'spout', 'rain', and 'sun' perfectly.


You're a very, very smart little girl, and you surprise us more and more each day with how much you're able to take in from the world around you and turn into communication. We love you so much, and we're very proud of you.

Plus, you've slept through the night in your own bed for three nights in a row now, so I'm feeling particularly fond of you this morning.


Your very proud Daddy