9 months

Claire,

When I think about the fact that you are now 9 months-my breath catches a little. I feel like we were JUST there with your sister; and yet now Leah is somehow 3 and you, my sweet little baby, are 9 months already. 9 months in, 9 months out! Yet, somehow, the 9 months in went by at a snails pace, while the 9 months out have sped by in a blink of an eye.

You have the sweetest little soul. Everyone who meets you comments on your shy smile and gentle disposition. You are just the happiest little girl. However! You have had a bit of a personality shift this month and it’s one that makes me and your dad laugh. You used to let your big sister do just about anything to you and daddy and I would joke that you were going to do whatever Leah told you to do when you got older. Well, that may have changed a bit. Although you still idolize your big sis, you seemed to have developed a bit of a spit fire personality this month and I love seeing you hold your own. You now have no problem swatting Leah’s hand away when she annoys you and you will let out a loud shout when you want her to STOP whatever she is doing. You are going to need a solid backbone when it comes to your bossy (however well intentioned) sister, so I like seeing this bit of fire in you. You also may have inherited a BIT of a temper (now who did that come from…? 😉 ) Daddy and I always joke that “Claire is just so happy…until she’s not.” You can go from content to screaming in 1.5 seconds and you never know just what will put you over the edge. Usually it’s when someone tries to touch or take your food….

Speaking of food….you are a tank. Your biggest love right now is definitely eating. You are amazingly good at hand to mouth feeding and we have all but given up trying to spoon feed you because little miss independent would rather do it yourself, thank you very much. It’s very hard to find a food that you do not like, but I would say your absolute favorites include: watermelon, bananas, cooked peppers, cheese, yogurt (the only food you will let us spoon feed you), strawberries and hummus on pieces of tortilla. You can put away a whole (cut up) piece of pizza or a full helping of mac and cheese larger than what Leah is eating. If anyone is eating anything and they have the audacity not to share with you, you will frantically wave your arms and YELL until they give you a bite. You happily open your mouth wide and will accept whatever food we put in your mouth. You are as different as could be from your sister, who has always (and still does) eat like a very picky little bird. Along with your eating you are still happily nursing 4 times a day and you know what it means when I ask you if you “want some milk.”

You are a great sleeper…finally! You seemed to turn the corner once you turned 8 months and you now regularly sleep 12 hours a night without a peep-from 7-7:30 pm to 7-7:30 am. You also take 2 naps a day for about 2 hours each. You don’t (and never have) take a pacifier but you have a favorite knit blanket that has been in your crib since you were tiny and you are very attached. You suck on the corners while you fall asleep and if, heaven forbid, the blanket is in the wash during nap time you are NOT tricked by a different blanket that I try and put in your crib!

This month you are starting to scoot on your belly around the room. You will get up onto your knees into the crawl position and rock for a second, but your little jello arms aren’t strong enough yet to hold your chubby little body so down you fall to scootch along on your belly. You have also started noticing yourself in the mirror and you love to wave “hi” to the baby in the mirror. Lots of babbling, and definitely some “dada” here and there, but no “real” talking yet.

I can’t express how much happiness and joy you bring into our lives, our little Claire Bear. We love you and your sweet, happy spirit and I can’t wait to see what the next month brings.

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

7 months

Please excuse the million pictures, but as I haven’t documented her monthly letters since 3 months (whoops) I figured she deserved a full photo shoot…..

My dearest Claire,

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that you have been in our lives for 7 months. It’s so crazy how it can seem like it’s been a blink of an eye, and yet, like you’ve been in our lives forever, at the same time. What can I even say about you? You are, without a doubt, the world’s sweetest baby. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with my love for you that I want to hug you tight and physically absorb you back into my body. Does that sound crazy?? Most likely, but it’s the truth. You just have this aura surrounding you of peace and calmness. Sometimes, when your sister is driving me crazy like only (almost) 3 year olds can, I hug you and immediately breathe a sigh of relief. You are my little stress ball-all I need to do is hug you and my stress melts away.

Everyone says you are my little clone, and, although I mostly agree, I see a lot of your daddy in your full lips and wide smile. You love everyone and haven’t seemed to develop any stranger anxiety as of yet. You LOVE your sister and you find her completely hilarious. Leah can be doing the smallest thing, like jumping down the sidewalk, and you will break into the biggest laughing fit, laughing so hard you can barely catch your breath. Of course, your spotlight loving sister enjoys her captivated audience and she highly enjoys making you smile and laugh anyway she can.

Your sleeping habits seem to be (slowly) turning the corner for the better. Although you usually still try to call out for your 3 am nursing snack, if I ignore you (sorry) you usually fall back to sleep until 6-7 am. Your tired mommy thanks you and has been enjoying sleeping through the night for the first time in over 7 months. You started eating solids this month! “Milky milks” as Leah calls it, is still your top favorite food, but you are starting to enjoy rice cereal and purees a little more each day. You seem to love pears and sweet potatoes and you tolerate green beans and squash. You absolutely hate avocado and apple sauce.

You babble nonstop (bababa, mamama and dadada) and you love to let out a happy scream whenever you feel like the room has gotten a bit too quiet (like in the middle of church). You have this hilarious new fake smile you like to pull out now and again (best demonstrated in the second to last photo) and it cracks me and your daddy up. You like to do your little awkward smile when everyone around you is talking and laughing. Like you are thinking “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m going to pretend I’m a part of it…” You sit up like a champ, put everything into your mouth, and roll around to get where you want to go. You love being outside and being worn in any wrap or carrier. Cuddling mommy is still one of your favorite things in the world and you will instantly fall asleep as soon as you are bundled up to my chest.

You make us so happy, our happy little Claire Diana and the world is definitely a better place, now that you are in it.

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Leah at 2.5 years

Some of my favorite Leah-isms:

“Psst! Psst! I have a secret to tell you!”
“Want to go play with all my guys!?” (her baby dolls)
“You are being mad to me!” (whenever she is being scolded for something)
“Let me ugga ugga your nose” (Coming from Daniel Tiger, her favorite show)
“I don’t love coffee” (what she tells me EVERY morning as I make myself a large mug)
“You want to talk? Let’s talk about doggies” (At the dinner table every night)
“I think I’m gonna be a little bit sad..” (walks around with her head down, frowning) 2 minutes later….”Okay, I’m happy now!”
“Because why?” (Questioning EVERYTHING we say….)

Other important 2.5 year old mannerisms I want to remember:
~The way she dances “ballet” with over exaggerated arm movements.
~Her complete love and obsession with all things Frozen.
~Her sweetness towards Claire and the way she tells her “Hold on Claire, 2 more minutes!” whenever Claire starts fussing in the car.
~Her insane ability to memorize books which enables her to “read” for hours. (Boy, does this girl LOVE books)
~Her amazing imagination and how she is really starting to create actual story lines and scenarios with her babies and toys.
~The high pitch voice she uses when she makes her dolls (or Claire) talk.

One thing’s for sure, 2 year old’s are the cutest.

3 months

Dear Claire Diana,

3 months!! Man oh man, how time is flying by. I already miss my tiny little newborn, even though you are getting cuter and sweeter with every passing day. You are seriously the cutest little doll of a baby. You are so happy and content, life is good for miss Claire. You are the perfect second child, not minding in the least if you need to just chill in your swing for a little bit while I spend some time with your big sister. Everyone comments on your laid back, good natured spirit and how you are such an easy baby, and you really are! You demand very little attention (although you still get PLENTY of it!) and you always greet everyone with great big, happy smiles.

You love to snuggle constantly. I’m probably creating some bad habits with you because you have NO desire to nap anywhere during the day besides on mommy (thank goodness for all the wraps/carriers/slings I have, otherwise I would get nothing done!) With Leah, by this age I was working hard getting her to nap in a crib, knowing that I was going back to work in a month and she would need to nap in a crib at daycare, but with you, there is no pressure or time line. You are most content to sleep on your mom, and I’m most content just to let you! I’m all about letting you take the lead and just do what you need to do, and I can’t lie and say I don’t love all my snuggle time with you. At night you are sleeping in your rock and play next to our bed from 9 pm to 4 or 5 am before waking up to nurse. Every single morning, after your early morning nursing session, you snuggle down in bed between me and your daddy for another few hours of sleep before getting up for the day. Again, another bad habit? Who cares!

You love to nurse, still eating every 2-3 hours, and you are chubbing up quite nicely. It cracks me up when you happen to catch my eye while you are nursing, and you break away to give me a big, huge happy smile, like you are happily surprised to see me there.

You have rolled over from your tummy to your back one or two times, but you really don’t see the need to expel much physical exercise. When we try and do tummy time, you will lift your head up for a minute or so, working on those core muscle, before deciding to just lie down and rest for some time. You just like to relax, no one can blame you for that! You are my delicious little snuggle bug and I am loving every minute of my days with you!!

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Motherhood

When I was young I played a game called “Family” with my younger sister Caitlin. Basically, the game entailed making a list of all your children-names and ages, discussing how many girls vs. boys you want, how many years apart each child would be, how many multiples you want (possibly 2 sets of twins and 1 set of triplets??) etc. This game could last well over an hour, as we intently discussed exactly what our future families were going to look like. And apparently at age 9 I thought it was totally feasible to have 20 children, 10 of which were multiples (twins and triplets fascinated me), but the point of the matter, the fact that I couldn’t imagine my life without being a MOM, has remained true. I feel like I’ve been in serious “mom training” since I was 14. I babysat constantly, worked at day cares, became a full time nanny….all while working on developing my own methods of childcare that I knew would serve me well once I finally became a mom myself. But I also had a second dream, right there along side my dream to be a mom, and that was to become a child life specialist. And I trained just as hard for that dream as well. I studied, I volunteered, I observed, I completed a grad school program, all to obtain this dream job of working with hospitalized children. I knew that these two dreams; to become a mother and a child life specialist, could happen simultaneously, but I also knew that eventually one dream would take over my heart, leaving little room for the other.

After I gave birth to Leah I had been working as a child life specialist for a little over 2 years. I loved what I was doing, and I loved the hospital where I was working. Although holding that baby in my arms made me ache to stay home with her full time, I also didn’t feel as though it was time yet to leave my work as a child life specialist. So, I did the next best thing, I took an extended maternity leave and returned to work after 4 1/2 months, dropping down to part time hours. And it worked for me. Leah thrived at “school” and I continued to fall more in love with my career. But then 2 more years passed and I became pregnant again. And suddenly thoughts of returning to work made me feel sick to my stomach. I still loved my job, but I knew I would soon have 2 sweet little ones at home. And I wanted to be there, nurturing them 24/7, more than I wanted anything else in the world. So Brett and I started having a conversation. Could this work? Would we be okay financially? What would this look like for our family? We went back and forth over many, many details for months. Claire was born and we still hadn’t come to a clear, concise decision. But then one night, as we were lying in bed yet again discussing our options (as my 12 week maternity leave is quickly coming to an end), Brett looked at me and said, “You know what? I think God just wants us to jump.”

So jump we will. I made it official with my boss just earlier this week (which was a crazy story in itself; involving the scheduled conversation happening 30 mins before planned, while I was still in Target, trying to chase Leah through the aisles and frantically checking out, getting home, and realizing that Leah had stolen a ball….) and it’s now official. I will not be returning to work. For now, I am saying good bye to child life and hello to being a stay at home mom. And my heart couldn’t feel happier. I wasn’t sure how I would feel once I resigned; would I feel liberated? Sad? Would I cry? It’s an odd feeling-walking away from this job I have invested my heart into for the past 5 years, and the job I have been dreaming about since I was 14. But you know what? This dream of being a stay at home mom, this dream of being with my girls every day; watching them play and learn and grow, that’s a dream of mine that’s older than any other. Back to childhood and playing “family” with my sister, back to watching my own mom who stayed home to raise her 4 girls and knowing that I wanted to be just like her, a dream that I feel excited and giddy to finally make a reality. And I feel so incredibly blessed that my family is in a position to make this dream possible. I’m so thankful for a loving, supportive husband, who wanted this dream to become a reality just as much as I did. I’ve absolutely LOVED my time as a child life specialist, and I’m not convinced that I am done with that career forever, but for now I am embarking on a new chapter of my life; staying home with my two little ladies. Our family is entering into a new season, full of a LOT of changes, but I am so excited to take this leap and see what comes next.

2 months

Dear Claire Diana,

2 months…time is flying by! I look at you and my heart can’t seem to hold all the love I have for you. It spills over and makes me feel like my heart will burst from holding so much love. When I was pregnant with you I kept wondering how I could ever love another child as much as I loved your big sister Leah. It seemed as though my whole heart was full of love for Leah so I worried that I wouldn’t have any room left for another baby. But then you were born. And the minute you were put on my chest, I felt my heart grow. All that love I had for Leah was still there, but somehow, in that very moment, my heart grew and it was filled with even more love, this time all for you.

You are such a happy, content baby, and yet, most of the time you have this sweet little look of worry and concern on your face. That furrowed brow that I am constantly kissing away, like you are looking around trying to figure out this big world you’ve found yourself in. It makes me laugh because you seem to have inherited your mommy’s anxiety, or what your grandparents call mommy’s “Will there be a bathroom on this trip??” look. You’re welcome.

You have one deep dimple in your right cheek, identical to your daddy’s. It’s pretty much the one facial feature you inherited from him (along with your full lips) otherwise you seem to be (so far) mommy’s little clone. Grandma sent some pictures of mommy as a baby and we had a good laugh, seeing how alike you looked to mommy, especially the furrowed brow worried look and the squinty eye smiles.

You are a wonderful nurser and you are chubbing up quite nicely. You have your 2 month appointment later this week, so we will find out your “official” weight, but last night when daddy stepped on the scale while holding you, it looks like you weigh around 13 pounds! That’s pretty impressive. You are sleeping better and better, usually from about 10:30 pm-5:30 am. You then nurse quickly and fall back to sleep until 7:30 or 8 am. Last night, however, on your 2 month birth day, you decided to gift mommy and daddy with an impressive sleep from 10 pm-7 am! Was this a one time gift or can we expect this awesome sleep schedule to continue? I guess only time will tell.

You LOVE you sister (and she loves you!) Whenever she leans in to talk to you (pretty much in your face, I’ll admit) you smile and coo and lock eyes with her, staring up at your big sister. You watch her play, watch her dance, watch her talk…you are completely fascinated with her. She, in return, loves to kiss your head and squeeze your cheeks and she affectionately calls you “bug-a-boo.” I have a feeling that you two will be the best of friends before long.

We love you, our sweet Claire Bear!
Love,
Mommy and Daddy

And then there were three

For over 2 years now, Leah has been the only grandchild on the Becker side (and I can’t say she hasn’t loved all the special attention). But then me and my sister-in-law had baby girls 5 weeks apart, and now there are three precious little girl cousins on the Becker side. So a few weekends ago the whole family gathered up at the island so these sweet cousins could finally meet. We had a great time hanging out on the beach (and introducing Claire to the sand and sea for the first time!), eating good meals, and even getting in some good kayaking, thanks to nana and papa who watched all three girls!

^^We are a family that really likes ice cream…..

^^This picture cracks me up. We tried to get a photo of Brett’s parents with the grand kids and Leah was just not in a photo taking mood. So this is what we got! Gotta love two year olds….

I’m excited that (so far) there are three little girl cousins that will grow up so close in age. I am looking forward to many future family vacations at the island, and the fun these girls will have on the beach!