Letters to Jack: Month 13


My dear boy,

We’ve finally reached an armistice.  A sleep truce.

Yep, I’m writing this letter five minutes after plopping you in your crib — wide awake — for the night, and I haven’t heard a peep out of you. It’s similar every night and during naps. If you do fuss, it’s only for a few minutes before you begin babbling and drift off to sleep.



Now that going to bed isn’t so traumatic, you really are the happiest baby on the block (mom and dad are much happier, too). That 10-tooth smile of yours is infectious. Your giggles are like sunbursts through our house. You find everything hilarious — from new tastes, to the clothes hanging in my closet, to the cats’ fluffy tails.

It’s been a busy month. We celebrated your birthday with family and friends (you devoured the cake; atta boy!). You visited the dentist for the first time. And you experienced your first Halloween.


I have to apologize for Halloween, actually. To complete your amazing costume (a lumberjack, get it?), I added a “beard” to your cheeks using brown eyeliner pencil. You wailed, which I thought was because you were being restrained by Dad. But when I washed your face that night, I discovered it was streaked with bright red slashes from where a sharp edge of the pencil cut up your face. No wonder you cried. I’m sorry for hurting you, little man.


I feel like we’ve begun having real conversations. You started to use baby sign language; “cat” was your first word, no surprise there. Now you know dog, milk, all done, and down. You’re getting close to saying mama, dada, and up. Through a combination of babbling and body language, I can tell what you’re thinking sometimes — like when you want to go for a spin around the living room in your Little Tyke Coupe or go outside to play.

You point to your head when we ask you where it is. You can show us “nice hands” when you get too rough with the cats.


You’ve discovered the moon and look for it every night. You know the sound of my keys jangling the lock on Grandma B’s door, and you run to greet me at the end of the day with squeals and smiles.

My favorite development this month is your love for music. You wiggle your tush, sway and pump your legs when you hear us hum or play a song on the phone, or when a toy makes music — even when we’re not in the room! Grandma Z sings a “Shake-a, shake-a, shake-a, shake it if you can” tune that turns you into Baby Stevie Wonder.

I also love your budding relationship with Charlie. My dream in life is for you to be close friends, and my heart swells to watch you play together. This evening, you spent 10 minutes together in your room. At some point, Charlie lifted you into your crib and climbed in next to you, and I caught you two jumping on the mattress and roaring with laughter.


My dear Jack, I could go on and on. However, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’ve got pies in the oven. We’ll all be gathering at Grandma Z’s to eat yummy food and share gratitude for our blessings.

You bet I’ll be saying thanks for you.

Posted in Jack, Letters to Jack | Tagged | 1 Comment

Letters to Jack: Month 12

_MG_3065My sweet, precious boy,

You were warm and cuddly, groggy and perfect when I lifted you out of the crib yesterday morning. I held you tight, whispered happy birthday as you nuzzled into my shoulder. Then it hit me: Just like that, you are a year old. You are no longer a baby.

Cue all of the emotions. Sadness, mixed with elation, mixed with 200,000 years of evolution screaming, “HAVE MORE BABIES. NOW.”

In these moments, I simply wait for clarity to arrive. Last weekend, it came after a solo trip to Target with you and Charlie – a challenge all teenagers should be required to face as part of sex ed. The birth rate would drop dramatically.

(Funny story: I mentioned this experience to another mom, who compared taking two kids to Target to sky-diving. Target, she said, was more extreme.)


I can’t get enough of you lately. It’s as if my brain finally got used to you being in our family, and I’m overcome with gratitude. When I think about you, I feel lighter, like there’s a gentle breeze in the room.

Perhaps it’s because I’m not as sleep deprived these days. A week after last month’s post, I went on a business trip and – praise be! – you began sleeping through the night again. I was thrilled for Dad, who solo-parented for three days. I couldn’t imagine him handling you, Charlie, his job, the cats, the house, etc., all on little-to-no sleep.


I discovered something truly amazing when I returned home: your smell! You see, I’ve been mourning the loss of your baby smell – that sweet, almost-toxic scent that drives all mothers batty. Lately, you hadn’t smelled like anything. But I also hadn’t been away from you that long.

I came home late. You were already sleeping, so snuck into your room for a kiss and –BAM! – this wonderful, deep, heavy scent just slammed me. I couldn’t even move. I got weepy. I leaned over your crib and gulped in the air around you. How did I not realize this smell existed, that it was so strong?


When you woke the next morning, I discovered you knew the second half of “uh oh.” A few days later, you began saying “hi” (mostly sounding like “eye”) and waving, which you now do non-stop to trees, our furniture, breakfast, etc. There are few sounds sweeter in the universe.

We’ve entered the Thwarting Phase of your development; you want to touch everything except the stuff you’re supposed to have. Charlie isn’t a fan.

You’ve begun tearing toilet paper off the roll and trying to eat it. You love to give us objects, then take them back.

This month you really embraced laughter. To-your-toes chortles and giggles. Especially when we tickle you.


When you see birds, you squeal loudly, your eyes get big, and you say “ohhhhhhhhhh.” I’ve never been a bird person, but I’d buy a whole menagerie for you.

Your “birthday party” is tomorrow. I jokingly put that in quotes because it really can’t compare to the resources that went into Charlie’s first birthday. It’s going to be small, intimate, and perfect for our family, just as Charlie’s was perfect then.

Perhaps this is more of that second-child syndrome, but you are special in such a profound way; it’s something I want to keep close.

Happy birthday, my sweet boy. No matter how many mornings I whisper those words to you, no matter how old you get, I know you will always be my baby.


Posted in Jack, Letters to Jack | Tagged | 1 Comment

Jack’s Nursery

We’ve lived in our new house for seven months, but Jack’s nursery is finally done! The theme is modern woodland. (Charlie’s was modern, modern).









Chair: Eames rocker
Dresser: Craigslist
Crib: Babyletto
Lamp: Target
Mobile: Etsy
Wall Triangle Decals: Walls by Mur
Wooden Wall Triangles: Etsy
‘Dream Big’ Wood Sign: Etsy
Floor shelves: IKEA (Expedit, now defunct)
Crib Mattress: Land of Nod
‘Not All Who Wander…” Sign: Etsy 

Posted in Charlie | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letters to Jack: Month 11

_MG_2798Oh, dear Jack,

Let me describe some of things I’ve done lately:

  • Left coffee creamer on the kitchen counter for two days
  • Forgot to pack post-swim-class shorts for Charlie, who had to walk out of the YMCA in his undies (he may never forgive me)
  • Poured gasoline all over myself at the gas station when I pulled the nozzle out too early
  • Failed to include an actual check in the envelope I mailed to the landscaper with my monthly bill

This, my boy, is what sleep deprivation will do to you. You’ve never been a stellar sleeper, but for the last two weeks, you’ve regressed to a sleep schedule even worse than when you were a newborn. One half-hour nap ALL DAY. Waking up in the middle of the night and unable to calm down or go back to sleep for hours. Falling to sleep again, only to be up in 20 minutes, crying.

What. The. Hell. Is. Going. On.


What’s even weirder is the lack of sleep doesn’t seem to phase you. In the morning, you beam. All day, you happily play and explore. Dad started calling you “emoticon” because you always look like the emoji of the colon and the capital d.  ( :D )

I can’t understand why you aren’t exhausted – you walk all day! This was the month you said goodbye to crawling and hello to (mostly) full-time toddling. It’s extremely cute watching you waddle across the room, arms raised like you’re surrendering to police or raisin’ the roof.


You’ve also begun to climb onto the couch. I discovered this when I went into the other room for a few moments and heard you fall off of the couch. Sorry, dude. It’s really, really hard to keep an eye on you every second in this house, so we’ve started bribing Charlie to “baby sit” you during those interludes. He seems proud of this new job.

As you get older, you and Charlie are playing more together. You chase each other through the play tunnel. He pushes a ball toward you, you try to bite it, he exasperates, “Ohhhhh, Jack!” These are some of my happiest moments as a mother. I teared up the other night when you sang back and forth to one another.


I was wrong last month when I thought you were beginning to sign “more.” You’re still not signing anything deliberately, even waving. You may be close to “all done,” but it’s likely you’re just discovering that your wrists twist. Still no intentional words, but you’re beginning to mimic “uh-oh,” though it’s just “uh” right now.

You like to clap and you’ve mastered the sippy cup. You enjoy emptying the contents of every drawer that isn’t baby proofed. Your favorite game with Dad and me is to shake our hands back and forth, which we pretend makes our entire body to wiggle.


We’re supplementing you with more iron because your blood work after six weeks showed your iron levels are still too low. I don’t understand the biology of why your body isn’t absorbing iron better. You drink iron-fortified formula, we feed you iron-rich foods mixed with iron-fortified cereals. What gives? Your pediatrician says some kids just need help “filling their tanks.” Shrug.

The process of getting that blood work was somewhat traumatizing for both of us. I realized when I got to the lab that your doctor wanted not just a finger prick, but a sample from the vein in your arm. Getting blood from adults can be challenging; just imagine what it was like to slide a needle into your tiny, perfect baby vein. It took three tries. My poor baby!

You turn a year old next month. Can you believe it? What an adventurous year it’s been for all of us. I can’t wait to celebrate with you.

But first I need to get some sleep.


Posted in Letters to Jack | Tagged | Leave a comment

Letters to Jack: Month 10

IMG_3420Hey baby,

You’re going to be a year old in just two months. Do you know what that means? CAKE! (Don’t worry, you’ll get some, too.)

I picked you up from inside your crib the other day and remarked how big you’ve become. You’re not a chunkster like Charlie was at this age; instead, you’re long and lean, with a large head (with some hair, not lots) and giant feet. I bought your first pair of shoes last week and had to bring home a 12-18-month pair because the smaller size was too tight.

Why do you need shoes, you ask? Because you’ve begun walking! We always knew you’d be quick to walk; you’ve been trying for months. Recently you became quite good at balancing without holding anything. On a whim while picking you up from Grandma B’s house, I encouraged you to walk from her to me. Step…step…step…step – four steps and you were in my arms. Our mouths hung open. I believe I squealed. Within the past few days, you’ve become even more confident on your feet, shoes or no shoes.


I feel as if we’re on the cusp of being able to communicate. Just in the last two days, you’ve begun to sign “more” to a point we’re fairly confident you know what you’re doing. You’re starting to clap (which looks similar to “more,” hence, the uncertainty), and you love holding my hands and making them clap. You still shake your head “no,” though this seems to be more for fun than anything communicable.

Still no “mama” or “dada,” but you do squeal each time you see our family portrait in the living room. Awww, you love us.


I told Charlie I was writing your letter tonight and he asked if he could help. I explained what I do every month, and asked him to type what he thought I should say about you:

Biting very bad he likes to grab things

Yes, the biting continues. Any time you bring your mouth close to Charlie, he flinches and yells, “NO BITING, JACK!” You usually giggle. I saw stars when you took a chunk out of my arm last week.


You’re much improved at the pincer grip, and at figuring out how to eat with eight teeth. You especially love frozen peas and puffs. We gave you blackberries at Grandma Z’s, which stained your fingers for three days and ruined a chair. Sorry, ma.


We’re giving you iron drops twice a day because your 9-month blood work came back with low levels of iron. This has been going fine, but I’ve noticed your teeth turning gray. I’m hypersensitive to this because of your brother’s gray tooth. Turns out, it’s from the iron, so now you’re also getting your teeth brushed twice a day. The gray may be permanent though. Meh.

I think we’re personally bankrolling Desitin. My gosh, I never knew what sensitive skin was until you came along. You sit in a dirty diaper for two minutes and –BAM– painful, bright red rash for days. I can’t imagine how painful that is.


We’ve stopped that awful sleep training (see Letters to Jack: Month 8 and Month 9). It wasn’t getting any better and I just couldn’t handle that crying. Instead, we started a routine where I put you in your jams, curl up with you in the rocking chair in your dark bedroom, and feed you a bottle. Most of the time, you either fall asleep on the bottle, or finish then snuggle into my chest while I rock back and forth singing Gershwin’s “Summertime.”

This is my favorite time of day, now. It’s quiet, your room is dark (thanks to the black-out shade we finally bought) and the rain machine purrs. There are nights I know you’re asleep, but I continue rocking. I breathe in the smell of your sleep, knowing these moments are finite, and feeling so thankful they are – at that moment – only ours.

Posted in Letters to Jack | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Letters to Jack: Month 9


Hey there, Jack,

Gosh, it’s been such a busy month, I don’t know where to begin. Right now, you are napping, Dad and Charlie are out, so the house is nice and quiet. I’m not even sure what to do with myself.

I forgot to turn on the monitor, so I’m debating whether I should risk sneaking into your room. It only took three minutes for you to stop crying, which may be a sleep-training record for you.


Sleep training has been rough – on you and me. We’re doing the whatever-it’s-called method where we do 20 minutes of soothing sleepy-routine stuff, then say goodbye (cue wailing) and return to comfort you after an increasing amount of time away.

We’ve seen improvement; the first few nights, you wouldn’t fall asleep for about 25-30 minutes. Now, it’s about half that.

Still, it’s been difficult on me. One night, when you showed no signs of calming down, I had to leave your Dad in charge and go for a walk. I texted my girlfriends that I was the worst parent ever because a)I couldn’t get you to sleep in the first place, and b)I couldn’t face your crying, even though it was a consequence of a decision I’d made as your parent. Isn’t that unfair?!

Sigh. I hope we’re doing the right thing. This parenting thing is hard, no matter how many times you do it.


You may have been extra tired this afternoon because today was swim class. Charlie needs some practice in the pool, so we thought it would be fun to enroll both of you. I’m not sure you get a lot out of class, but I LOVE it. It’s basically an excuse to cuddle for 30 minutes. Either Dad or I bounce up and down in the water, and you lay your head on our shoulders and nuzzle.


You are such a cuddly baby, Jack! Oh, I love it so much. You’re always resting your head on our shoulders or chests, or you crawl over to us if we’re lying on the carpet and burrow into us. You’re perfectly content to be held in my arms.

One of my favorite parts of the day is the early morning, when it’s just you and me awake. We snuggle on the couch, watch the sun rise, and I feed you a bottle. You often lock eyes with me and don’t look away. Ah, sweet bliss.

You’re not all sunshine and rainbows, however – you’re a biter. You take a chunk out of our shoulders or arms each time we pick you up. When you crawl to us, you inevitably sink your SEVEN teeth into our bellies, thighs, knees. Charlie screams and runs away if your mouth even touches his skin. Your doctor says this is normal teething behavior, but still, ouch!


You also hate to be restrained. The changing table has become more difficult, and we can no longer put you in the bouncy chair or exersaucer. If your brother tries to hold you in place, the entire block knows it.

Nobody puts Jack in a corner, apparently.


At your 9-month appointing this week, you weighed in at a slender 20 pounds. And at 19 inches around, your big, mostly-bald head (seriously, where is your hair, kid?) is still in the 99th percentile. Jeez. Come to think of it, maybe this is why you cuddle so much. You can’t keep your head up!

Your doctor said we need to give you more opportunities to feed yourself; you haven’t figured out the pincer grip, nor are you even close to using a sippy cup. You might be close to waving hello/goodbye, but right now you just look like a flapping bird. I can tell you want to walk, bad.


Some other things I love about you right now:

• You’ve discovered the joy of sharing in laughter. When you hear Dad, Charlie and I laughing, you break out into a huge smile and start giggling with us. That just makes us laugh harder.

• In addition to your name, you understand “cat.” If I say the word, you look all around the floor for Baron and Thursday. (Now we have to work on, “No biting!”)

• You respond to music. When we sing, you often stop what you’re doing and just stare at our mouths, transfixed. You also like to sing drawn out vowels. Charlie often asks, “Jack, are you singing opera?!”

•We’ve started doing a call-and-response game in the car. You squeal, then I squeal, then you giggle, then you make another sound, I copy you, then you giggle. Our first verbal conversations!

• You love swinging doors. Open and closed. Open and closed. You’re also obsessed with door jams.

Oh, my Jack. I can’t believe you are nine months old. Our lives are so busy — I have to remind myself to take a moment and appreciate the magic of our family.

With you and Charlie, there really isn’t anything better in the world.


Posted in Charlie | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Letters to Jack: Month 8

_MG_2343Hey there, Jack,

As I write this, I can hear the sweet, sweet sound of sleep training. You’re not a fan.

I know Dad and I are to blame for being in this situation. When you first joined our family, it was much easier to bounce or nurse you to sleep. We just had so much to do every night – put Charlie to bed, make his lunch, clean up dinner, wash dishes, feed and water the cats, pump, and get to bed at a reasonable time because you’re still not completely sleeping through the night.

But now you’re eight months old, and it’s a bit out of hand. So, in the past few weeks, we’ve been trying to put you in the crib drowsy and let you drift to sleep on your own.

Woe is you, and woe is our family, for you scream and wail, you fight and thrash. We do frequent check-ins for comfort, but that hasn’t really worked. We were successful only one night, but that was because right after we put you to bed Charlie threw up and I shattered a wine glass on my foot. I bet you heard all the shenanigans and thought, “What a crazy family. I’m out.”


Even after you’ve fallen asleep, we aren’t out of the woods. You’ve always been such a light sleeper; now, I can’t even check on you. If you so much as sense the door opening, you bolt upright, eyes wide. You’ve learned to shake your head, so that’s the first thing you do in the dark, as if to say, “Oh no you don’t even think about leaving me.” If I try to exit quickly, the wailing begins anew.

You’ve mastered crawling; now you’re trying to scale things. Your head is still GIANT, so you’re banging into a lot of things and getting bruises (I may have Googled “hematoma” today). Grandma B was considering a soft helmet for you to wear at her school during the day. Poor thing.


I think you know your name; at least, you look at us 60 percent of the time we say “Jack.” You’re talking more, starting to form buhs and duhs. You babble and squeal. You love standing up and pumping those legs. You love wrapping yourself in our curtains. Last weekend, you and I sat in a sunbeam and played an uh-oh game that involved a purple cube, the insuppressible force of gravity, and lots of laughter.

I think your favorite place in the universe is the bath with Charlie. Not only do you get to splash in water – OMG WATER – but you get to play with your silly, animated, big, best brother.


Your first word will probably be “cat.” You go crazy when you see them, and poor Baron has lost several clumps of hair to your ninja grabs.

Changing your diaper is the best. Is that weird? It was always such a battle with Charlie, so I appreciate getting to nuzzle and cuddle and tickle you. You laugh uproariously when I nom-nom-nom on your tummy.


You turned eight months just a few days before a really cool thing happened in our country — the Supreme Court voted that same-sex couples have the same right to marry as everyone else (duh).

You’ll probably grow up amazed there was a time when this wasn’t allowed, but for a very long time that was true. It’s been wonderful to see so many people celebrate this great news. I am thankful you and your brother will grow up in a society where you can marry whoever you want.

As long as I approve, of course.


Posted in Jack | Tagged | 2 Comments