Gabe is Four

Gabriel is now a kid. That is the news of the day. He can reach the toaster while standing on the kitchen floor. He no longer wears pullups to bed. He pees standing up. He eats apples (!!) without cutting them up. He makes 1,000 fart and poop jokes a day. He tells me, “Moooom I’m just being FUNNY,” when I don’t get it. When I mom-it-up.

Gabriel is so easy to play with. I say, “Gabe do you want to play with me with your boat?” YES. YES HE DOES. And I let him lead a grand adventure about ghosts and witches and animals that die. Die die die. They always die. Terrible things are always befalling everyone. And hexes. So many hexes.

He is up to play any game I make up. He is up for it all.

“Ok, you have to try and keep the ball up in the air for as long as you can, but you can only hit it with one hand and you have to be sitting and you have to sit on the hand you’re not using.”

These are my rules. He makes sure we all follow them and take turns.

He loves and hide and seek. But he isn’t very good at concealing where he is hiding or even where he wants to hide. If it is my turn and he likes where I’ve just hidden, he will tell me, as I am walking away to count, that he is going to hide there too. We are trying to teach him the point of the game, but so far have not succeeded.

He whines. Oh god, the whining. He stomps his little feet and throws a mini tantrum when I tell him no. His whining makes me not want to give him anything ever in life.

His favorite characters are the bad guys. Always the bad guys. They are the most interesting, the most complicated, the most magical.

He likes to be carried, facing out, so he can fly like a bird. If he stops flapping he wants us to start to slowly drop him to the ground until he starts flapping again. He is heavy. This is hard. We indulge him.

His dad is his absolute best friend. On Monday mornings he is sad to say goodbye to his dad when he leaves for work or when we drive away, leaving Kamel to grab his coat and lock up before heading to the bus stop.

When Gabriel gets scared or hurt that is where I’m most needed. Any injustice? Mom. Sometimes when he tumbles off something I quickly say, “Gabriel! Are you ok?!” And he shrugs me off. “Stop saying that!” as he jumps back up. Sometimes when he startles himself I hover over him, giving him the wide eyed shocked face of “woah.” He looks up at me with initial concern until one of us starts to laugh. He will try and hide is smirk and say, “Stop it….” but the giggles are too much. “That was funny,” I say. He will mock fall over again as we both laugh.

Last week we were driving home from somewhere just before nap time and I didn’t want him to fall asleep in the car and truncate his actual nap. I looked back and his eyes were starting to close. I said “Gabriel, don’t fall asleep buddy, we’re almost home.” He looked at me and then turned his head to the side and with absolute defiance squeezed his eyes shut as hard as he could. It made me laugh so much. We were both laughing. He is a really funny kid.

He has also been hiding one of the loose bricks in the front of our house and driving Kamel mad about it. For a long time Kamel couldn’t figure out where the brick had gone and who had taken it. Then we found it around the side of the house and Kamel couldn’t stop talking about who could have possibly put it over there. (I continually said it was the kids, Kamel was not convinced.) Then one day Kamel caught Gabe in the act of re-hiding it. When he asked why he was doing it, Gabriel said “because I wanted you to think it was monsters!” while laughing. He is already playing tricks on us at barely 4 years old.

Weekending 44: Holidays Part 2

This is a week late because the holidays were happening and I wanted to live them and THEN report back on them.

The kids have started doing this thing where they just yell at each other during bath time. They think it is the best and funniest activity.

We were an hour late to Christmas Eve because naps did not happen when they should have and there was wrapping to be done and showers to take and food to buy and it was a giant race to the finish line. But we made it!

There was family and presents and food and joy.

Grandparents and Great-Grandparents and Uncles and Aunts and Cousins. And cookies. So many cookies.

And Kamel is in basically none of these photos because he rented a fancy camera for the weekend and it was manual only and … I can’t be trusted with such things. I do not have time for manual cameras, ok? It’s just not going to happen for me.

I really really love the mantel at my parent’s house.

Christmas morning started at about 730. Kamel brought Gabe into our room without him seeing the tee-pee that Santa had brought. And by Santa I mean that my grandmother had made me when I was little and we now have for my kids. *Magic*

Fae was appropriately WOAH about it.

Gabe now lives in there. We see him for meals.

And then we all went downstairs to scope out the tree!

And all the gifts my parents had brought over a few days before, along with Kamel’s parent’s gifts that were shipped and wrapped by us – like magic!

My parents were such good sports and came over right away in the morning so we could all do presents together!

Fae was a little overwhelmed, so for a while she just stayed on Kamel’s lap just like this, clutching a christmas tree cookie.

Both the kids were super into creating present piles!

(Oh! This was Kamel’s christmas present from moi.)

We got Gabe a Sofia The First amulet. I wouldn’t allow Santa to take the glory for that one.

Tia Regina and Tia Lara got the kids an outdoor picnic table! So of course, lunch had to be al fresco! Fleecies and coats and boots for all!

It wasn’t raining, just cold. So we played outside most of the afternoon.

A+ parenting.

Then we went to the beach! And stayed there, throwing rocks into the water and watching Gabe ride his bike, and saying hello to all of the dogs, and playing on swings until it was very, very dark.

(Epic toss into the water, Gabe. Epic!)

Oh look! Kamel let me take a photo. It isn’t completely in focus.

On Monday, the kids were out of school and Kamel and I had the day off from work, so we went over to Claire’s to terrorize their cat, Nala.

(And love it unconditionally) GROUP HUG.

And then we ended the weekend with dinner at my parent’s while Kamel helped my dad set up his new computer!

The end!

The Burden of Being The Oldest

I have been thinking about this post for weeks but have not had a quiet moment to sit and right it until now. I have been feeling painfully protective of Gabriel lately. The necessity of mothers and fathers everywhere to hang back and hold your breath and watch your small (and big) child exist in the world becomes harder and harder the older they get and the more injustice and mean-spirited crap they face. I am just at the very beginning of all that.

But more than Gabe telling me that so-and-so doesn’t like him or someone at school doesn’t want to play with him, I am most protective over his interactions with adults.

When you are the only 3.5-4 year old at any event. When the other kids are babies and young toddlers, who are adorable even in their tantrums, whose desires are simple, who have only a few demanding words – it’s hard. I hear all of his questions, his attempt at organizing the world, his energy level, his magnetism to touch all the things he shouldn’t touch and play with all of the things he shouldn’t play with and I feel self-conscious for him. While other babies and his little sister toddle around, picking things up that we don’t want them to have, we chase after them, removing things from their iron grips or redirecting them to tissue paper. But with an older child we say, “No Gabriel. Don’t play with that. Put that down please. That’s not a toy,” or “Gabriel, gentle! Be gentle!” or “Not over there, Gabe. Stay out of that room.” And it’s not cruel scolding or even really a raised voice, but there is a sternness there, that only he is subject to.

Babies and young toddlers are adorable inconveniences. Older kids can be, genuinely, exhausting. But Gabriel isn’t actually doing anything wrong. He’s playing, or he is excited, or he is exploring, or he is talking without any volume control, or he isn’t hungry but needs to sit at the table anyway, or he has no awareness of his own physical space.

Almost every day at daycare pickup I have to hear about something Gabriel did that wasn’t awesome. Whether he bumped his head (oh well) or he smacked another kid with a block because they were continually pushing over his tower (not great but probably deserved) or if he didn’t eat the food that day (not surprised) or if he was “overly excited” (wtf he is a little kid) or if he was sensitive (he has big feelings) or he was grabbing kids faces (wtf Gabriel) or WHATEVER it is…. I get that update. And it makes me really uncomfortable.

I have great respect for teachers and assessments and if my kids turn out to suffer from a learning disability or have a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed, I want to be 100% on board. But I also don’t want Gabe to be labeled a bad kid because he is an energetic, goofy, theatrical, goober face. He is super loving, who has big feelings, who is still learning to follow directions and listen with his ears. I don’t want him to feel like he is a bad kid, because he isn’t.

I don’t think that Gabe is forever being scolded at school. I think his preschool is teaching all of those little hoodlums how to be actual humans in the world. How to sit in a seat. How to respect personal space bubbles. How to pick up after themselves. But these little picky feedbacks I receive paired with parenting being a constant lesson in picking my battles, consistency, and kindness, plus my sensitivity to his interactions within our social group – it has me feeling sad for him. He is still so little and I want him to be treated with patience and kindness. I don’t want people to see him as this giant limbed energizer bunny bound to destroy all things breakable. (I mean, he is, but he is also so much more!)

As kids grow they get more complicated. Gabe doesn’t stay where you put him. He gets himself up after naps. He gets his own milk out of the fridge. He wants to know why. He can acknowledge when his feelings are hurt. He hears what you’re saying to him and chews on it. A few days after he’s done something wrong he will often say to me (while in the car or during quiet moments) “Mama, I’m sorry I broke daddy’s glasses,” or “Mama, I’m sorry I splashed all the water out of the bath.”

In a lot of ways babies are more fun. They are so cute. Even when Fae adamently says “Nnnnnno!” I just want to scoop her up and cuddle her. When Gabe says, “NO!” I repeat what I’ve asked him to do and say, “If you don’t pick up the thing you threw on the floor by the time I count to three you’re going to be in timeout.”

I don’t want the bulk of his interactions to be negative. I don’t want the world to view him as exhausting. I worry they do because he is, but he is also so many other fantastic things too. I hold my breath and watch him exist in the world. But I also tell him how amazing he is.

Weekending 43: Holidays Part 1

This weekend was cold. Saturday was in the 20s and we started the weekend off by getting Fae a booster flu shot.

She did so good though! And stopped crying within a minute. Gabe was telling me all about how the ear worked. (ha)

It was so so cold, but the weather has been wintery for weeks now (as does happen in winter) and we just had to get outside.

Even with backwards helmets.

Even when the playground equipment was so cold it was practically burning my hands. You try to keep gloves on babies.

It was us and 1 other family at the park. Gabe kept saying “No one is here!”

Oh, we also made burgers.

On Sunday! Gabe got a haircut! And though he flinched and whined, he DID NOT CRY. (Or scream or repeat “almost done almost done almost done” like the traumatized kid he is.)

“Look over there, Gabe. Do you see that big snake on the wall?”

He is so fair with his short hair. His edges are all blonde like they glow.

Whoops.

(She did not get up there by herself)

(My oh god please don’t die face)

This is for sure the cover of the official holiday album of the PNW.

After haircut we played at the park, cut cupcakes, and then went to grab brunch. Where Fae busied herself by rearranging the furniture. How nice of her. Then she broke a jar of something and out of humiliation and after offering 700000 times to pay for it, we left.

Oh look at this adorable face. The face of a little girl who refused to nap, cried for 20 minutes, was quiet in her crib and not sleeping for another 30 and then fell asleep for 20 minutes only to wake up SCREAMING in a sweaty drooly mess. Adorablness is deceiving! (No it’s not, COME SNUGGLE ME FAE)

Then it was holiday party time!

The kids were so happy and so excited and such good sports. The cocktails were fantastic, the meal was super delicious, Claire and Lincoln were awesome hosts!

The kitty fled the children, as it should. But trying to find it was just as much fun as being able to pet it (never happened).

I really love my people.

Weekend-ing 41

I was in a sick person funk this weekend. I stayed home mostly and did nothing. I had been feeling like shit on Thursday and Friday and then Saturday it was the peak of shit where I had to CANCEL a drink date with Claire… so you know it was bad.

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I mean, don’t get me wrong. It was a Christmas prep bonanza weekend. Fae basically never stopped making that face.

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…Or that face.

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On Saturday morning we decorated the tree. Gabriel made sure all the ornaments were snuggling.

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weekending-40-109weekending-40-110Gabe was really excited about this cookie that Kamel got him. He wouldn’t let me have a bite no matter how many times I asked.

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Kamel decided to take the ornament hooks out of their little box and toss them in a bowl. And then I murdered him with my eyes.

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Tree complete!

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Tree complete with my family in front of it!

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Look with your eyes not with your hands.

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Look with your eyes not with your hands.

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Look with your eyes… oh fuck it.

Saturday morning was all about pushing Fae around on this elephant as fast as Gabriel could go and me stopping them before they crashed into our walls or tree or flung Fae from the moving vehicle.

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We basically stayed in our pajamas all weekend. The fact that this is SO incredibly rare in our house means we should probably do it more often.

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Fae hasn’t learned the concept of taking turns yet.

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Water break.

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And then we headed over to my parent’s house to celebrate my mom’s belated birthday! Sometimes it takes a village to put shoes on.

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Dear Lord in Heaven I love a veggie plate.

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My parents had picked up little piggy banks for the kids while they were in Arizona. Putting coins into the piggies entertained Gabe and Fae for a solid 30 minutes. I ate chips.

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And then the weekend was over.

(Long!) Weekend-ing 40

Thanksgiving happened!! And we roadtripped with the kids up to Vancouver BC to spend the long weekend with my best friend, Maris and her family. The end result was kid-palooza! And both Kamel and I talking about how much we LOVE to travel with our kids and wished we did it more often. More family vacations please. More more more.

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(That is real joy on my face after spending a really long time waiting for my to-go order before hitting the road northbound!)

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Our Vancouver airbnb was amazing. It was the perfect size and had a great kitchen, heated bathroom floors, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed running in circles all over it.

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When we got there, Gabe really wanted to document the place. So this next series of photos is all him. “Cheese with the movie!” (TV) “Cheese on the couch!” “Cheese jumping!” and so on.

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And then everyone jumped and promptly fell off the slipper odoman, so…

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The night before Thanksgiving was piling into Maris’s apartment with burgers and fries and all the babies.

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Gabe doesn’t sleep well alone in new places. So on vacation he usually piles into bed with Kamel and I if we have a king bed. This time around he got his own room, while Fae was in the packNplay in the master with us. Gabe was very excited that there were TWO pillows in his bed so that there would be room for one of us too!

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So I slept with Gabe the first night and Kamel slept with him the other two. Everyone sleeps, everyone is happy. Baby snuggles!!

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And then it was back to Maris’s where we headed out for a donut breakfast to kick off the holiday right.

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Exploring new playgrounds is one of my favorite things to do on vacation with the kids. It gets you out in the neighborhood, enjoying the day, and it makes everyone happy. We have playgrounded in Boston, Miami, and now Vancouver. Where will we playground next?

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Thanksgiving evening was total utter chaos. Because Thanksgiving with kids and babies and the cooking and the heat of the cooking and the children and the children and oh yeah the children… but it was chaos completely surrounded by love and family and the amazing spread Maris whipped up.

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Gabriel would not, could not stop talking about pumpkin pie. When will he get pie? Where is the pie? Is this the pie? Is it in the oven? Can he have it now? Why can’t he have it now? How about now? Is it pie time?

The whole time I had doubts as to whether or not he would actually EAT THE PIE because Gabriel… oh have you heard? DOESN’T EAT.

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He totally ate pumpkin pie. We all held our breaths and looked away and he proclaimed, “I’M TRYING NEW THINGS!….I get at treat because I am trying new things.”

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(Modern motherhood with my best friend, you guys.)

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The next day we had a relaxing start with bath time and Curious George before heading out to explore the neighborhood.

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(Classic auntie Maris, using her butt as an anchor.)

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In the afternoon we went to Kitsilano Beach Park and playgrounded hard.

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On our final day we made one last pitstop at Chez Maris for Uncle Alex’s Famous Crepes.

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And then… Maris and I literally ran to catch our booked sea-plane tour. Only to show up 5 minutes BEFORE the scheduled time and be told we couldn’t get on the plane because we needed to be there 10 minutes before.

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This is us after we watched our seaplane depart without us into the mist. Which probably caused a crappy tour anyway, so there.

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So we went on this super cheesy FANTASTIC video ride experience instead and it was amazing.

Meanwhile the kids were dry and warm, eating snacks.

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And then we drove home. And the next day we went to the zoo, which there are also photos of. But this post is getting to be literally a mile long so I will stop here.

I hope your weekend was fantastic and it somehow restored lost hope in humanity. Because yes.

Weekend-ing 39

Now we are all caught up! This was this last weekend. Another insane group hug of events. And I am so grateful for the friends and family we have in our community since moving back to Seattle. It is a huge joy in my life.

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(The kids are a constant loony tunes of rumble tumble)

We had a three day weekend because of Veteran’s Day, where Kamel had a day with the kids and I felt sad and left out in my office.

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Saturday morning was pancakes and a race to go grocery shopping and then off to get Gabe a haircut before the real event of the day occurred.

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(We had another 4 year old birthday party at the indoor play space!)

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(Happy Birthday Dominic!!)

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(It’s impossible to take photos of 3.5 and 4 year olds on the loose)

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(So sweaty)

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On Sunday we spent the morning at my goddaughter’s baptism! Ellen is a smiley, clappy, happy little chunk! And she did such a great job!

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The children couldn’t make it through the whole mass. Thank goodness there was a break in the rain.

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Post Baptism reception was a baby-fest if there ever was one. Gabe is really great with babies – to my great relief.

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(Happy Baptism baby Ellen!)

And then we went to Costco. Weekend complete!

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Weekend-ing 38 (A Week Late)

Weekending is coming back for a roaring return! Weee! Last week was supposed to be the re-launch, but … last week exploded. So today this is from not last weekend, but the weekend before. Before we elected a bigot and just an overall TERRIBLE PERSON to be our leader. [insert sardonic smiley face here]

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(Photo by Gabriel)

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I thought that November would be more chill for us after the whirlwind of October, but turns out – NOPE. Last weekend we went to our family friend’s birthday party at the local indoor play space!

weekending-38-124Hank turned four! We are now going to 4-year-old birthday parties. When did all of the babies grow up?

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Gabe was initially terrified, as is his hesitant-kid-way. But then quickly got into the fun of shooting nerf balls at other kids across a moat.

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There was also cake. The true star of the show.

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On Sunday we went to the Space Needle, via the Monorail – which Gabe asks to go on every day. Every single day.

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(The true essence of my kids)

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(THE TRAIN YOU GUYS IT IS HERE)

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(Gabe calls the Space Needle “Seattle” so we get a lot of “MAMA LOOK SEATTLE!” whenever we are driving around.)

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We have also been doing our best to be weekend warriors in yard work over at the house. Though we are equipped with very few yard work tools, we are doing our best. We bought a push broom and a very fancy rake. And have been trying to tackle the fall offerings of tree mess that is all over our drive away and backyard before it all goes to complete shit.

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I know we haven’t been awesome at showing you the “finished” product from our long and involved and much-moaned about house hunt. BUT WE WILL. For now, enjoy these scenes from our backyard.

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Gabe was napping so miss Fae got to wander about uninterrupted and actually help pick up leaves and sweep without her brother mowing her over.

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I live for these weekends. Even when I am so tired. Even when the world is darker and wetter and colder now. Even my little goobers skip naps and make me want to abandon them at a fire house.

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(Chocolate.)

Gabe’s 4th Halloween, Fae’s 2nd

This fall has been loony tunes but we are slowly making it happen. Things are starting to fall into place and that is a huge relief.

Last week was HALLOWEEN! And it was the first time that Gabriel actually asked to wear a costume that he picked out himself and wasn’t terrified at the idea of putting it on.

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Gabe came home one day saying he wanted to be Spiderman for Halloween. We have never seen any of the Spiderman movies or cartoons or anything in my house. But he knew exactly what he wanted and recognized the logo and the outfit in stores. So… sure! Last year when we brought him into the costume aisle he was shrieking in terror. Everything is a phase everything is a phase everything is a phase.

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Fae was a bumblebee.

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Buzz buzz buzz.

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Bumble Bee Down!

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It was raining and dark and cold when we went trick or treating, but it was everything my childhood was. Parents in rain coats with flashlights, hustling kids to the front door.

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Fae did so good, trotting along to each house, holding (mostly) her little bucket, picking out candy. Gabe was really into pushing doorbells and only needed to be held for the first two houses because “NO IT’S SCARY.”

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We ended the evening a few blocks over at Laura and Byron’s where my children terrorized their cats and dog for 20 minutes and we all dried off.

Definitely a Halloween success! Things are getting so fun around here.

Last Night

Fae started a habit of waking up at 1am. At first we indulged it because new house and new stuff and waking up not knowing where you are is the worst. At first you always indulge it. But then you start wondering what the hell is actually going on, why is my 14 month old waking up at all, please go back to sleep for the love of god.

So now we just ignore her. She puts herself back down in a few minutes, but it’s been more than a week of ignoring her and still she wakes up and cries. I hear her, I check the time. Anything before 430 and I’m not moving. I mentally pat myself on the head that everything is fine and she’ll be fine and then I go back to sleep.

Now when the babies cry out in the night I have a hard time figuring out if its Gabriel or Fae. Is it words? Or babbly? Is it a baby whine or is it the long drawn out “maaaaamaaaaaaaaaaaaa” that I’m hearing? Is it Gabe? It’s Gabe. We always go in with Gabe. I poke Kamel to wake up.

“It’s Gabe.”

“Is it?”

“I think so.”

We both pause.

“…maybe he went back to sleep?”

We wait. Nope. There it is. Kamel rumbles out of bed. I lay still and listen. Mumbles, whines, footsteps.

“He says he asked for you.”

Damnit. 

I rumble out of bed after Kamel. We both stand in Gabe’s room. He is half a sleep and doesn’t know what he actually needs or wants. We stand there, doing nothing, just being next to him, listening to his breath. When I hear that he is asleep I count to 90, then I whisper to Kamel that I’m going to go first and he should stay in case the creaky floor outside Gabe’s door wakes him up. I say it in less words between lips that are barely moving.

I mentally pat myself on the back for remembering where to step to avoid making much noise. Like I live here or something.

I crawl back under the covers, but the sheets are already cold. We haven’t turned the heat on yet but the nights have been dipping down into the 40s.

I lay still and listen.

I hear Kamel try and leave but he steps in the wrong spots and the floors creak and Gabe is startled awake. I hear whining and then footsteps.

“Hi mama,” Gabe says.

I pull the covers back so he can snuggle in between us.

“Snuggle me,” he says.

I wrap my arm around his tiny body. So small in our adult world of giant torsos. Gabe is at least 60% legs and one of my arms can wrap all the way around him at least a time and a half. Maybe more.

Gabe is good at sharing the bed as long as he doesn’t go horizontal. He falls asleep fast and I still have plenty of room on my side. But my sleep from that point on is full of bad dreams. Full of planning for future stuff I’m not looking forward to. Full of tossing and turning and hoping I don’t wake him up.

At 4:30 Fae wakes up for reals. Kamel goes and gets her and I run downstairs to make her a bottle and grab the blanket off the couch so Kamel can feed her upstairs, out of our bed, and still be warm. After her bottle she goes back into her crib, but hates it. She eventually puts herself down and I have to wake her up at almost 7am. Gabe is up at 6, but he is so happy. He is so sweet. He flips on the light to our bedroom and I hide under the covers.

“Oh, sorry, mama! I’m hungry, let’s go.”

I’m never rested, but it’s so good anyway.