Ellie at 9 months old

My sweet Ellie is nine months old today! How can this be? I said to Dave yesterday morning – only three more months of having a baby, ever! This is very bittersweet for me, and as much as I know there is so much fun and joy to come, I think I will always mourn the end of this precious stage of life, even years from now. But time passes and seasons change, and I am so thankful I was able to have three healthy babies and enjoy their babyhoods so much! Because whoa, I LOVE babies. Pretty sure I kiss Ellie’s cheeks and neck and belly and feet about a million times a day. The soft skin, the chubby rolls, the sweet little smiles? I could just die over it, all of it.

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So, nine months old. Out for as long as she was in. Last year at this time my belly was round and life was so sweet with anticipation. And now, the reality of her is even better than I could have possibly mustered up in my mind back then. I still sort of can’t believe she’s real.

She has completed our family in the most perfect way, and we are all so in love with her. She is breathtakingly beautiful and so very sweet, and as much as it’s possible for a child of less than a year, she’s just … elegant. That’s ridiculous, right? But truly, something about her mannerisms and her way of carrying herself, even as a baby, remind me of … a movie star. Like she already knows how beautiful she is, and she has a strange confidence in it. It’ll be interesting to see if she carries this with her through her life.

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Girl is on the move and will likely be our fastest walker. Her brothers both walked around a year – a little later for Benny. Ellie is cruising around furniture and crawling at lightning speed and letting herself go and standing for a second at a time before bumping down on her butt. Pretty sure she’ll be walking within the next month or so – not that I really want to rush it!

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She loves to eat and can’t be really bothered with purees anymore, even though our pantry is still full of them. She spits it out or turns her head, or sometimes begrudgingly eats what we offer on a spoon, but for the most part, she just wants to feed herself. She gets so excited about mealtime, and whatever we put in front of her she scoops up and shoves in her mouth with abandon. We give her pretty much everything now, and it felt like we made the transition from pureed fruits and veggies only to anything-goes in like a day. Allergies? Eh. Spoiling her? Eh.

Holding off on treats with the boys, making them eat veggies and fruits longer – sure didn’t bode well for their later eating habits, so maybe being less strict with Ellie will serve us well. Or probably not. It’s a crap shoot either way. But she loves to eat!

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She’s still nursing really well. As with her brothers before her, and probably most babies at this age, she’s too distracted to nurse for any length of time when she’s awake. She’s used to getting a bottle in the middle of the day while I’m at work, and since I don’t really give her bottles on the weekends, I’m pretty sure she drinks less milk on the weekends since she doesn’t want to nurse as much. She’s still really good before and after naps, though, and before bed and when she wakes up. I am savoring it as much as I can. Breastfeeding my babies has been one of the most unexpectedly amazing experiences of my life, and I’ll be sad when it’s over. But again, happy it happened at all. We’ll see how long she goes. Henry weaned himself at 8 months so I pumped for four months; and I cut Benny off at 13 months, though he was probably about ready to be done, too. With Ellie, I feel like I’ll let her go as long as she wants!

Ellie is still a really happy baby. We say she has perma-smile on her face. Though more and more she’s showing her dramatic side, too, which wants what it wants when it wants it! She’ll cry big, fat tears and will wail when we take something away from her that she wants (like my phone or a piece of paper she picked up off the floor), and she sure likes to get into mischief as of late.

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If the pantry or fridge or dishwasher is open, she’ll make a beeline for it, every time and without fail. She knocks over garbage cans, climbs the stairs, puts everything in her mouth, pulls on cords, goes for electric sockets, empties cabinets and drawers – you name it. When she’s awake, I feel like we just have to be on top of her every second lest she damage something or seriously hurt herself! She’s always up early in the morning (three for three one early risers – yay us) so getting ready for work is often a comedy of errors, me trying to put on makeup and dry my hair while also chasing after her and putting her back where I want her, which is in her room with her toys, over and over again. Usually I just give up and let her play at my feet in the bathroom, though that still entails mischief – going for the garbage, pulling on the shower curtain, emptying the drawers. Ah, babies!

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She’s pretty good about playing with her toys, and she’s very entertained by her brothers. She’s down for anything, anytime – just so easygoing and happy wherever we take her. She continues to get boatloads of attention whenever we take her out in public.

Her hair continues to grow and has reached a whole new level of awesomeness/craziness. I comb it down nicely after her bath each night, but it just pops right back up as soon as it’s dry, growing in all directions, curling over itself and getting in her face unless we put her in a headband, ponytail or piggy tails, which are my favorite!

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She’s regressed a bit in the sleep department. She’s been my best sleeper by a LONG shot, and the four-month wakeful period never happened for her. For quite awhile she was sleeping all night most nights, but the past month or two, she’s been up once a night to eat, sometimes even two or three times. And the past week or so has been a bit brutal, with her waking up within an hour of us putting her down, and a few nights actually refusing to go back to sleep for a couple hours. One night over the weekend she got absolutely hysterical from over-tiredness – I had never seen her like that. Luckily the refusing to sleep is rare, and I hope it stays that way!

She’s a very vocal child, babbing and yelling in equal measure. Her “mama” phase that happened months ago left as quickly as it arrived, and these days “mama” is a rare sound – and music to my ears when I hear it! She loves to yell and shriek, and her babbling consists of mostly ba-ba-ba and random funny sounds.

I have her nine-month appointment next week so I’m not sure how much she weighs right now. She’s in 6-12, 9-month and 9-12 month clothes. I’ve bought her all 12-month stuff for summer. She’s in size 3 diapers. She still has only two teeth on the bottom, which she’s had for 3-4 months now, and no other ones appear to even be close to coming through. The boys both had a lot more teeth by now! But she does great eating even without many teeth, and her smile with those two little teeth sure is cute! She still takes a nuk, and we lose them all the time, which drives me nuts. She doesn’t seem as addicted to them as her brothers were, though, so hopefully taking them away eventually won’t be a big issue.

As much as she smiles constantly, she really doesn’t laugh all that much. We really have to tickle her or do something else dramatic to get her laughing. She’s into peek-a-boo lately, putting whatever she’s holding in front of her face and smiling from behind it when we ask “where’s Ellie?” She also does “so big!” with her arms when we ask “how big is Ellie?”

She’s very into her mama, which I love, of course. She wants to be held whenever I’m around and is happy to just chill in my arms, whether I’m just sitting or walking around and trying to get things done.

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Our whole family is pretty much smitten with her, and like I said, I sometimes can’t believe she’s real. That she’s here and she’s mine and she’s so darn awesome. She is such a gift, and I don’t take for granted for one second that I get to be her mom!

Happy 9 months, sweet girl!

Reasons my kids wake me up at night. 

I have to pee.

I need a Kleenex.

I need medicine for my cough.

Cough, cough, cough, cough. (All night.)

I had a bad dream.

My hand is asleep!

I lost my boxing gloves!

I need a drink of water.

“I slept all night, Mom!” (4:30 a.m.)

I’m ready for some boob!

I can’t find my nuk!

I’m ready to party and be awake for two hours, Mom!

I pooped and need my diaper changed.

I have a hang nail.

I need you to scratch my back.

Wahhhhhhh! (No clue.)

It’s thundering.

It’s raining.

I want the blinds open.

I want the blinds closed.

The night light is too bright.

Open the door more!

Cover me up!

I peed the bed. (Wailing)

It’s light out! It’s morning! (4:58 a.m.)

I need a bandaid.

I need a hug.

Every night I go to bed and think maybe tonight will be the night that my kids let me sleep all night. It happens about one night out of every 15-20. Usually someone wakes me up, and if it’s just one of them, I consider that night a win. It’s the nights when all three wake up at different times, sometimes multiple times, when I wake up wanting to scream FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST LET ME SLEEP!!

Last night the boys slept all night and Ellie just woke up once to eat around 4:45. I will take it.

I remind myself all the time – someday I will sleep again.

Henry is 5 years, 7 months
Ben is 3 years, 3 months
Ellie is 8 months

Monumental May.

Ah May. I’m so glad you’re here, for so many reasons. Spring and summer are upon us again, which makes my heart so happy, but this year, you mean so much more.

I know I will always look back on this month in my life as a truly pivotal and monumental one. The month my last baby turned nine months old. The month we got our house completely ready to put on the market. Maybe the month we sell our house – our first house, where we brought two babies home.

And the last month I worked full-time for somebody else. Maybe forever.

I still can’t quite believe it, but as of June 1, I’m cutting back to three days a week at my day job. Working part-time has been something I’ve longed for since I became a mom, but I didn’t let myself dwell on it too much since I just never thought it’d be possible for me. I never thought we’d be able to afford it, and I didn’t think it would be possible in the line of work I’m in. But now we can afford it, and amazingly, when I put a proposal on paper and presented it to my company, they came back two days later with a YES.

It comes with a steep pay cut, of course, but it’s so worth it. To be able to have more time at home and still keep my foot in my career, at least for awhile, is truly the best of both worlds. Our nanny always wanted to work four days a week for us, not five, so to be able to give her a day off now, too, is awesome.

We’ll still employ her four days a week, so I’ll have one extra day each week with my kids, and then I’ll have one day a week where she takes the kids to her house (or once we have a bigger house, she may just come to us and I can be in the office or out doing things) and I have the day for myself. That part is so exciting I could just about burst. “Me time” has been pretty non-existent in my life the past few years, but especially the last year or so. To think that I’ll have time to be alone, to clean the house or run errands or just relax, to work on my It Works stuff, to go to a yoga class once a week – I just can’t get over it. And we’ll be flexible – those days will likely be a bit shorter than a full day, since I want more time with my kids, too. Maybe some days I’ll keep Ellie home with me, or one of the boys, to get some one-on-one time with each. We may switch our days around sometimes to allow for an extra long weekend.

It’s just an absolute dream come true.

And my future with It Works – because of It Works – is still looking so promising and bright, I almost can’t wrap my head around it. I hit Double Diamond with the company at the end of March, and now I’m already closing in on Triple. Dave hit Diamond at the end of April, and our family got another bonus. There’s just no stopping us now. Andrea and I are leading a team of 260+ people all over the country, and it’s just growing every day.

This whole experience has been the best, most exciting and awe-inspiring experience ever. I look back on myself of nine months ago – nine months ago tomorrow I joined – and I’m just baffled and overjoyed at what’s transpired. I was completely clueless when I got into this. It was something I never thought I’d do. I was a bit fearful, very nervous, but also hopeful, too. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had no idea how I’d make it happen, but I just had this feeling deep down that I’d succeed. I saw so many others doing it, and I just felt like, ok, that could be me, too. I wanted to give something new a whirl, and it’s changed my entire life.

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These kids of mine are the driving force behind all that I’ve busted my butt for over the last nine months. It hasn’t been easy to work two jobs all that time, but now just a short time later, it’s paying the dividends I was longing for. They’ll have more mom time, we’ll have a bigger house, we may be able to take a vacation this summer. I’m just so happy and thankful! And so very excited for the summer and all that is to come.

May will be a busy one – full-time work, evening events for my “real” job, evening and weekend events for my “side” job, getting the last of our house projects done. But knowing that it’s the last month of working quite so much will get me through it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel – and it is SO bright!

They are mine.

This morning I kissed my kids good-bye before work, and as I went down the line, I said a different thing to each one:

“Have a great day at school today, don’t forget to pack a snack.”

“Poop on the toilet today, buddy, you can do it.”

“Take a good nap this morning, sweet girl.”

After I left, I thought to myself wow, I have a lot of kids. ;)

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But more than that, I reflected for a few moments on the fact that my kids are all so little still, and that their world and their problems are still so small. The biggest worries I have about them today are whether they’ll poop on the toilet or take a good nap.

(I mean, don’t get me started on all the BIG worries about them that I have going on in my head pretty much every minute of every day … but I’m talking realistic worries here.)

Even as the physical needs are huge, and even as I lament about the exhaustion and chaos and frustration that can come with little kids, I realize, too, how easy it still is to be their mom. They just need love and attention and smiles and cuddles. They need their physical needs met. The time I spend feeding them, getting them dressed, bathing them, playing with them – that is our time and it’s all they need or want.

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Someday soon, they won’t need me for all of these physical tasks, but their world and their problems will become bigger. I’ll trade in the physical for the emotional. And as much as I’m looking forward to sleeping past 5 a.m. and not having to wipe multiple butts in a day, I also know how good we have it right now. They are here, they are mine, and their world extends as far as our home and our family. It’s a good feeling, one that I cherish while I can.

Day in the life: Spring 2015

The date is Friday, April 10, 2015. I’m 33 Dave’s almost 33 Henry is 5 1/2 Ben is 3 years, 2 months Ellie is 7 1/2 months I was due for a work day for DITL. I’m typing it up nearly a week later. Pretty sure this will be my most brief DITL but hey, at least I did it! 4:50 a.m. – Ben wakes me up, calling out from his room like he often does. He comes into my room and I tell him it’s way too early to get up and take him back to his room. He’s awake in there, though, and occasionally talking so I’m awake for the day now, too. Second day in a row of a sub-5 a.m. wake-up for the day and I’m really not happy about it. 5:30 a.m. – Ellie wakes up. I bring her into bed with me to nurse her because I’m exhausted and just want to keep laying down, but then Ben’s back, too, and his rolling around is too distracting for her, so I take her into her room to feed her in the rocker like usual. I bring her back to bed after she eats and she’s wide awake and happy. Ben’s being whiny and asking to go downstairs, even though it’s not even 6 a.m. yet. 6 a.m. – Time for me to get in the shower so Dave takes Ben and Ellie downstairs. Ben asks Dave the same thing he asks every single morning – “When we get downstairs, can I have Cocoa Cuffs (not Puffs – Cuffs – and it’s actually chocolate Cheerios, but whatever), yogurt and a Chew?” He repeats it multiple times on the way down the stairs. I shower and Dave brings Ellie upstairs when it’s time for him to shower. I put her in her room to roll around on the floor and play with her toys, and after a few minutes she army crawls out into the hallway and I can tell she’s filling her diaper. I change her and go back to getting ready. She crawls through the hallway and into her brothers’ room, and it makes me nervous to have her near the stairs (even though we have a baby gate up, but still) and to be in their room where I can’t see her and she might find something small to put in her mouth. So I put her in her bouncy seat – which she’s really too big for now – outside the bathroom door and continue to get ready. She poops a second time, the little stinker. 7 a.m. I finish getting ready and head downstairs with Ellie. The boys are on electronic devices, surprise surprise. I want to say no, and yet, what else am I going to have them do first thing in the morning? Watching TV would be the alternative, and they’re probably learning more on their devices. Whatev. Dave works later on Tuesdays and Fridays, so these mornings are slightly more leisurely for me since I have help. The downside is that he obviously then gets home later, too. Dave’s made coffee – Shelly brought us some Tim Horton’s stuff from a recent trip, and it’s yummy. It’s Friday so it’s garbage day, so he hauls the trash from the back to our bigger garbage cans by our garage. I make and eat breakfast, feed Ellie breakfast, get my bottles and pump parts packed and get dressed. Shelly arrives while I’m upstairs getting dressed and I try to snap her picture through the window but it doesn’t work out so well. Henry’s asking me to come down and watch one of his Zumba dances, which we just discovered this week and which I posted about the night before this. When I get down there, he’s too self-conscious to do it in front of all of us, so he says someone needs to leave the room. “You or Shelly.” So Shelly gets up to get coffee. But then he doesn’t want to do it in front of me either. So I go into the kitchen with Shelly. I hang out and talk for a few minutes, and before I leave I snap a selfie of me and Dave, and she asks how I did it without pressing the button on the front of the phone. I show her that she can use the side buttons and her mind is blown. I make fun of her saying that yeah, my mind was blown when I first heard about that, too … like three years ago. She laughs and then flips me off, which surprises me coming from my sweet Shelly! Ha.          8:10 a.m. I leave and head to work. Takes me 15-20 minutes usually. Can’t remember if I listen to the radio or listen to something It Works-related. I go back and forth. Get to work, pour myself my coffee and check social media and email. 9 a.m. My team has our morning meeting, and since it’s my coworker’s last day before maternity leave, she has brought a big cookie cake to share, and I have to pass since I’m currently on day five of the Whole 30. She has also brought some scarves and hats she no longer wants, so after the meeting, a couple of us go into her office and claim a few of them. I have her take our pic. 9:30-4:30 Work day is normal. Blah. I have a brand new iPhone 6 that I just got earlier in the week and I’m loooving it, especially the fact that I don’t have to put a passcode in anymore and it just recognizes my thumb print! For lunch I have lettuce wraps with lunch meat, bacon and avocado, and they’re surprisingly super satisfying. Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes on the side – mmm. When I’m done I run to the store since we need a few things, including something yummy for me and Dave for dinner tonight. Friday night means pizza night in our house, and this is our first Friday on the Whole 30. I get myself some salmon from the case and him some nice marinated chicken breasts from the case. It’s really nice outside and I curse having to go back into my office for the rest of the afternoon. Soon it’s raining, though, and the lights in our office flicker a few times. I pump twice, at 10 and 2, and I have my Greens at 3.            I leave just before 4:30 and head home, careful to not forget my groceries in the fridge! Get home at like 4:50 and greet my kiddos as I’m putting down my armloads of groceries. It’s always crazy town when I walk in the door, total noise and chaos as everyone greets me and tries to talk at once. I have Shelly take our picture on the couch for my DITL post. Ben’s eye is pink and a little crusty, and we hope he’s not getting pink eye. It’s fine in the morning, thankfully.5 p.m. We tell Shelly good-bye and to have a great weekend. After spending a few minutes with the boys, I head upstairs to change into comfy clothes and nurse Ellie. Snap a few selfies while in the rocking chair and marvel at how much I love love love this and how much I’ll miss it when we’re done. I put a headband in Ellie’s hair because it’s always in her face and I think it must drive her crazy!      5:25 p.m. Get the pizzas from downstairs, preheat the oven and make my dinner of salmon, cauliflower and baked potato. Ellie’s in her bouncy and stays occupied with a Baby Mum Mum. While I’m cooking and trying to get Ellie’s food prepared, too, I’m in and out of the bathroom with Ben about 10 times, as he’s having poop issues, like always. The kid is terrified to poop – on the toilet, in his diaper, anywhere. He’s pooped on the toilet twice ever. Usually, though, after much, much misery on everyone’s parts, we give in and he poops in a diaper every few days. I can’t get over the amount of poop and poop issues in my life right now. Oh dear God I just can’t wait til the kid finally decides he’s ready to poop on the toilet. I sure didn’t realize at the time how lucky we were with Henry, who peed and pooped on the toilet at 2 1/2 and never looked back! Eesh.     6:35 p.m. We’re sitting down eating when Dave gets home, and we’re all happy to see him. He makes his dinner and sits down with us, and we talk about our day, eat and then clean up. Henry’s doing crafts and comes up with some really cool things, per usual. Tonight it’s guys from Minecraft, as he’s officially obsessed with that game right now. He’s so proud of everything he creates, I love it. I ask him if he wants some strawberries for dessert with me, and he looks at me incredulously. He says “Strawberries aren’t dessert! You know what’s dessert? Dessert.” Cracks me up. Touche, kid.     7 p.m. I take Ellie up to bath, one of my favorite times of day, just me and her hanging out. I take her pic on the bed and realize she’s pooped again – such a pooper today! I clean her up and put her in her little pink tub. She loves the bath and splashes happily, and when I ask her “where’s Elmo?” she looks around for the Elmo cup until I present it and she beams and grabs for it. She yells into it and puts it in her mouth for awhile, and then I use it to wash and rinse her hair. I get her out and we make faces in the mirror, and I tell her for the millionth time that she’s the cutest girl on the planet. 7:30 p.m. I put her jammies on and sit in the rocking chair with her and she attacks my boob as if she’s super hungry. She conks out within about five minutes, per usual, and I sit there with her in my arms longer than normal tonight. All sounds peaceful downstairs and I’m in no rush to get the boys to bed, so I just rock and snuggle her. Awhile later I stand up, hold her for another minute since I just love that feeling of her weight in my arms as she sleeps, and then I put her in her crib, zip her into her sleep sack, give her a kiss and head downstairs. 8:15 p.m. Bedtime for the boys. Henry and Dave sadly inform me that Henry’s Zumba videos that he has just fallen in love with have been taken down due to copyright issues. What bad timing! We only read one book tonight since it got kind of late. Ben asks me to scratch his back and then Henry asks, too, so I scratch both simultaneously and tell Dave to take a picture since my phone is sitting right beside me. Why I have to ask, especially on a DITL day, is beyond me but whatever. ;) 8:30 p.m. Ben comes out of his room and says he has a hang nail, so I clip it and then clip all his nails because they’re really long. I snap a pic of us sitting in the bathroom and then send him back to bed. Downstairs Dave settles in to watch the Brewers game. Usually I use this time to work or clean up or do some yoga, but I am just exhausted from the week and already ready for bed. I head up to bath by like 8:45. 8:45-10 p.m. Somehow despite heading upstairs super early, I’m still not in bed til 10:08 p.m. But that’s really early for me and it feels good! I use the bath time to read a bit of the book I’m reading, The Aviator’s Wife, which I’m really enjoying. It’s the first book I’ve read for pleasure in a loooong time, I’m sad to say! I check on my sweet sleeping kids, Dave tucks me in and I happily go to sleep. And so concludes another installment of Day in the Life!

Brother things.

So many things that kids do and say fall under the category of ‘things that make you go hmmmm….’

We all had our weird behaviors and sayings and silly games as kids, and now it’s really fun to watch my kids start creating their own. Kids are a constant source of entertainment, that’s for sure.

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There are a few things with Henry and Ben right now that I want to remember.

The first is “Dustin Boy / Cutie Boy.” Apparently if you’re a Dustin Boy, you’re a cool guy, and if you’re a Cutie Boy, you’re not. It’s pretty much the worst thing ever to be called a Cutie Boy, and the boys will argue at length over which they are. “I’M a Dustin Boy and YOU’RE a Cutie Boy!” “No, I’M a Dustin Boy!!”

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The second is this:

“You’re a BIIIIIIIIIG chicken, and I’m a … chicken.” (Cue hysterical laughter.)

The BIIIIIIG chicken is said in a loud, deep voice, and the second chicken is said in a tiny, quiet, high-pitched voice.

They repeat it over and over and just laugh every time. So odd.

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And the third one just happened last night, and it’s a good example of the random things that make them laugh.

They were brushing their teeth before bed and I used a flosser on Henry. (since he went to the dentist a couple weeks ago and has THREE cavities! Yikes.) He said it was like a toothpick, then he said to Ben “hey Ben, when I was a baby, I called it a “too-pick.” And he said the last word in a silly, high-pitched baby voice. Ben cracked up, so Henry said it again. Then Ben said it, and they went back and forth like 50 times.

I just love these moments between them, when they’re talking and making each other laugh, since they fight the other 90% of the time! I know they’re glad to have each other, though. :)

It gets better and better. 

Parenthood, I mean.

I realized this tonight as I watched Henry dance in the living room for us, performing his heart out in front of his mom and dad without a twinge of self consciousness. My heart was bursting and I sat there on the couch next to Dave in total awe as we watched our first kid – a real KID now – dance with such endless energy and unbounded happiness and pride. It was one of the hugest unexpected surprises I’ve experienced in a long time, and I never want to forget it. We sat for a good 15-20 minutes as he danced his way through four different songs, and I thought once or twice that I should grab my camera, but I’m glad I didn’t. The moment was too special to interrupt.

Earlier this week I searched ‘Zumba for kids’ on YouTube in an effort to find something fun and active Henry could do while cooped up in the house during this dreary spring break. He immediately loved it and started watching the same songs over and over again, learning the moves and dancing up a storm in our living room. Just days later, he’s like a pro. The kid’s got moves!

We headed up to put the boys to bed just a few minutes ago – past their normal bedtime thanks to the performance – but I stopped Henry so I could take his pic. I told him I wanted to remember this night always.

I feel like it was a pivotal moment in my parenthood journey. Here I am mourning the fact every day that our baby/little kid years are passing so fast, but I saw tonight with my own eyes how the best is yet to come as we get to watch these little people we’ve created find their interests and talents and joy in this world. To experience all that through them is going to be something really special.