What We Didn’t Know We Needed

I’m a big fan of lists… really, for anything in life. But especially for holidays, birthdays, and general gift ideas. I also don’t enjoy when people deviate from the list because I put a lot of thought into it and those are things I truly want. With that being said, some people have surprised us with the best gifts that I never would have known I needed/wanted but they turn out to be my favorites.

Some highlights over the last few years: a family friend painted the most breathtaking portrait of CJ and I as a wedding gift, that same friend’s husband sewed the most beautiful quilt for Claire for her 1st birthday and my sister sewed a beautiful quilt for her baby shower gift that we use every single day, my sister made a shadow box of keepsakes from my wedding as a gift, my uncle gave CJ and I my grandparents’ silverware set as a wedding gift (I cried), and I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting to list. As you can see, I’m sentimental and these are all near and dear to my heart.

This next gift is much less sentimental but SO practical that I felt we needed to do a post on it. As a baby shower gift, CJ’s brother and wife sent us a booster seat as a gift and told us it was the most useful thing they have. We remember thinking to ourselves, what are we going to do with this thing??!? (Rookies)

Anyway, fast forward months later when we were trying to lug our high chair back and forth to my parents’ house for dinners and when Claire kept trying to climb out of every single restaurant high chair, we knew we needed to try something different.

Booster

We decided to finally try the booster seat and all I can say is… What a lifesaver!!! Claire can’t climb out (and only attempts to when she’s done eating), we have a clean surface for her to eat on (versus at a restaurant where she will pick up and flip over plates if we put on in front of her), and it’s lightweight and convenient to travel with. We are so grateful they deviated from our baby registry to give us something they knew we needed, even if we had no idea!

Booster

Look at her blue eyes! So gorgeous

What have you discovered you can’t live without?

First Birthday Photos

To say I’m obsessed with these photos would be an understatement. A million thank yous to our photographer, Shawnee, for capturing these moments.

Part of me wants to plaster them over every wall in our house, or make a book out of them, or… I don’t even know, the possibilities are endless!!

Below are some of my favorites. I LOVE LOVE LOVE all of them.

We are so in love with our beautiful little girl and these photos definitely show that!

First Swim

Last weekend, we took Claire over to my parent’s house for her first time swimming in a pool. It was the perfect summer day. We played music on the stereo, BBQed steak and corn on the cob, and floated around in the pool while catching up on some laundry. If we could make this an every weekend occurrence, we would be happy campers.

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Anyway, Claire loved the pool! We bought a floating tube for her that had a sun shade so she wouldn’t get burnt. Right when we put her in it, she started kicking around and it was so fun to see her enjoying the pool. We weren’t sure because we have about a 50% success rate with baths lately. She either completely hates them or is slightly OK with them. But the pool? No problem. We probably swam for a half hour or 45 minutes and she was perfectly content the whole time.

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Yay summer!

Oregon

June 13 Oregon

Last weekend, we flew up to Oregon to celebrate my nephew’s graduation from high school.

This was the fourth plane trip for Claire (Vermont at 8 weeks old, New York at 6 months old, Orange County at almost 8 months old, and now Oregon at 13 months). She’s flown more than some people I know but it’s interesting how every trip has been so different because of her age. The first two trips she slept the whole time. This last trip, she didn’t sleep at all. She climbed back and forth on CJ and I. She read through the safety pamphlet (very responsible of her!). She tried to escape to the aisle to run around. And she watched some Winnie the Pooh on the iPad. On one of our flights, a mom, her 2 year old son, and her newborn baby walked past us (I should clarify the newborn baby did not walk past us, he was wrapped up in a Moby Wrap on his mommy :)) and CJ and I looked at each other thinking “How is that woman flying on her own with two little ones?!?!”. Anyway, she deserved a medal (like my sister does for doing the same thing back in the day!). It reminded me how much easier it was to fly when Claire was a newborn because she slept the whole time. The only difficulty was in lugging around (what felt like) 52 bags.

On one of our morning walks by the water

On one of our morning walks by the water

Anyway, back to the Oregon trip, we honestly didn’t want to leave. We considered extending our trip because we had so much fun but, alas, life was calling and we had to get back to it. We stayed at a hotel in Portland along the river and spent each morning walking along the water and enjoying the breathtakingly beautiful weather. We stopped at a coffee shop along the path that, one morning, gave us a free latte (which was amazing!). We saw a group of people gathering to ride kayaks down the river. Claire must have thought she was in heaven with the amount of dogs she saw on our walk. I got choked up at one point because the feeling of being back in Portland was so overwhelming for me (I grew up outside of Portland, for those of you who don’t know). We had random conversations with people in stores and it reminded us how friendly people are outside of California. Then, we went to my sister’s house which was filled with an auntie, uncle, and four cousins to Claire who played with her and showered her with so much love. It was such a wonderful display of the importance of family.

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My sister and I were clearly having a moment when this photo was taken. Unfortunately, Claire had already gone to sleep for the night when we took this photo.

If there’s one thing I could change, it’s that I wish we lived closer. I wish we could hop in the car and see each other in 10 minutes. Luckily, it’s a short plane ride away and we’re not across the country. But even that plane ride seems like too much.

Until next time, Oregon. You will always feel like home to me.

Portland

13 Months Old!

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I am sooo late on this post but we have been quite busy over the past few weeks! I went on my first business trip away from Claire the week before Claire turned 13 months old and we flew to Oregon for my nephew’s high school graduation celebration last weekend. More on that later but I should say that we definitely didn’t want to leave Oregon! We had so much fun.

Reading a book and sitting with her new teddy bear from Chicago that I got her

Reading a book and sitting with her new teddy bear from Chicago that I got her

This month Claire has really seemed to change and really seems like a toddler now! She no longer feels like a baby to us which is so sad but exciting at the same time. We are loving this age and she keeps us laughing all the time.

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Our little goober

Here’s a rundown of 13 month old Claire:

  • Weight: No idea! But she is wearing 12M clothes. Well, it depends on the brand because in some brands she’s 6-12 months.
  • Loves:
    • To sit on our laps and read books. She’ll walk over to us and sit right in our laps and it is so adorable!
    • To walk EVERYWHERE and to explore everywhere.
    • Flipping through books on her own.
    • To rearrange bookshelves (so really… to take everything off bookshelves ;) )
    • Sharing her food.
    • To eat any foods that Mommy and Daddy are eating.
    • To give hugs and kisses.
    • BEANS! She is the bean queen. She also loves cheese, peas, corn, and yogurt.
    • To wear her black flats or her moccasins from Nana and Papa. She used to always take her shoes off but she’s done pretty well with those two.
    • Mickey Mouse Playhouse!! I really would rather not have Claire watch much TV at all but on occasion, we let her watch that in the morning and she goes bananas for it. She bounces up and down and looks so incredibly excited. She’s quite a big fan of Mickey Mouse.
    • To make raspberry noises with her mouth, over and over.
    • To lay on Zoe (and she loves Zoe in general). Zoe has become her shadow recently and it’s so cute to see Claire running everywhere and Zoe calmly following behind her.
    • All dogs. If we’re carrying her and she sees a dog, she starts waving her arms and kicking her legs from excitement. We’re pretty sure she brightens up every dog owner’s day when she does that because it’s way too cute.
    • Belly buttons. She thinks they are hilarious!
    • To spontaneously laugh out loud. Sometimes it’s for a reason and sometimes it seems to come out of nowhere. It’s too cute!
  • Hates:
    • Not a fan of cow’s milk. I wouldn’t say hate but she really is not at all interested in drinking it. I’m still breastfeeding her so it’s not an issue.

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  • Talents:
    • Clapping!
    • Dancing! She bounces up and down, quickly shuffles her feet, and shakes her head to music that she loves.
    • Probably doesn’t qualify as a talent but… she’s getting more hair! It’s sort of looking like a mullet right now because it’s so long in the back  compared to the top but it’s definitely coming in!
  • Sleeping:
    • It varies. I went on my first business trip from Tuesday through Friday two weeks ago and, prior to that, she was waking up once in the night for a feeding. Because I wasn’t there to feed her while I was gone, CJ was able to train her to fall back asleep on her own. Since I’ve returned (KNOCK ON WOOD!!!!!), she’s pretty much slept through the night.

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  • Other Random Facts:
    • She’s become really independent over the last month. We used to dread dropping her off at the gym to work out. One time recently, we dropped her off and were cautiously exiting the play area and said bye to her. She looked up, waved “bye bye”, and continued on playing. Apparently us leaving is no longer a big deal. I’m so happy that she’s gained her independence but it is a little sad at the same time.
    • She had her first ponytail on May 29. She looked so cute!!!
    • She has 10 teeth now. It looks like a molar came in the back and another tooth on the other side.
    • She has so much personality! She’s very opinionated, determined, energetic, active, and independent. She’s also very talkative and will definitely give you a piece of her mind.
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We went wine tasting with friends in Napa! It is much harder to do with a little runner.

And that’s our little 13 month old! I’m so excited to see how she changes over the next month. I always wonder how I’m ever able to come up with content on her but it doesn’t seem to be a problem. ;)

Mama Support

Bear with me while I vent a bit…

I read a lot of blogs in my free time and 98% of them are “mom blogs”. It’s so interesting to read about how each mom approaches each stage of motherhood, how they handle different situations, and I love gathering tips and tricks from them. They’re always so political about how they talk about their approaches, mindful of the fact that each mom is different so, of course, they’re going to handle things differently. I appreciate that. I’ve never been bothered by the fact that we (the collective “we” of moms everywhere) will choose to do things differently. I actually think that’s inevitable – every parent is different, every baby is different, and to go even further… every situation is different. Some things may work today that won’t work tomorrow. There’s no harm in trying different approaches.

Anyway, those same blogs sometimes talk about being judged for their approach and I never experienced it myself until a few days ago. I joined a mom’s group when Claire was first born and loved sharing with and hearing stories from them. They were always so supportive. It was a beautiful community of moms sharing in this adventure of motherhood and admitting to the fact that we’re all human. We’re not perfect. We’re all learning. It’s OK to not know the answer. But a few days ago, I talked to a new mom (who wasn’t part of the group) that was not that way. With every comment that I made about how I approached things, she judged. She made snide comments about how that wasn’t how she handled it. Her baby never did that. She never had that problem. It made me sick to my stomach. How can another woman be so condescending? I’m pretty sure her baby isn’t perfect, nor is anyone’s.

I came home and vented to CJ about it and he lovingly told me that I should just ignore people like that. I’m going to try to ignore those comments going forward because I can’t prevent people from saying that stuff to me. But I’d much rather just ask that all moms support each other. Don’t judge each other for handling things differently. Admit you’re not perfect. There’s nothing wrong with being human. I know I’m willing to support other mamas out there and not judge them.

Okay, that’s it. I’ll get off my pedestal now. :)

1st Birthday Party

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Claire’s 1st birthday party was a huge success! We spent months prepping for the party by crafting decorations, collecting supplies, and planning what needed to be done on the day of. After Claire went to bed every night, I would whip out another project and try to get as much done before I got the point where I just needed to relax with CJ. I’m really happy with how everything turned out.

A huge thanks to my mom for her help in getting ready for the party in advance and the day of, and to our friends and family who came over early to set up.

The theme was “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” because I used to sing that to her to calm her down. Plus, it’s an adorable theme. :)

Here are a few photos of the event:

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We had a little “Time Capsule” where people could write their predictions of what Claire will be when she grows up. We’ll have her open them when she turns 18 in 2032. The wands were party favors for the little girls.

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I baked the cupcakes on the morning of and made all of the star cupcake toppers. They are double-sided so I had to cut quite a few stars. I frosted about a dozen of the cupcakes and then handed over the frosting duties so I could finish getting ready for the party.

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I made the tassel garland for the high chair out of tissue paper and hand cut the ONE letters. A friend brought in an AMAZING printing machine that cut out the banner behind Claire’s high chair for me. It saved me hours of work.

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I absolutely loved these sugar cookies!! One of our friends baked these delicious masterpieces in advance of the party.

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We had lemonade, water, and beer for attendees. We decorated the cooler with stars to match the theme and had mason jars and striped straws for drinks.

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I made a first year banner with a monthly photo for each month of her first year + a newborn photo. I also hand cut each of the stars in between. One of my favorite decorations from the event!

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A close-up of the wand party favors. I tied on ribbon to make them extra special.

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We used baby food jars for the party favors. CJ spray painted them with chalk paint to make them a uniform color, we filled them with Werthers candies, and I cut out a million more stars for the Thank You tags.

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The entryway with another star banner that I made, our party favors, a beautiful flower arrangement made specially for the party, and a fun 1st birthday image of some of our favorite photos of Claire (from Shutterfly). Word of advice: Get a helium machine to blow up your balloons, if you have a bunch. It’s much more convenient and cost-effective.

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Claire’s “smash cake”. I made the cake topper, bought the candle from Amazon, and baked her cake in the morning.

20150509_1472The food and dessert table. We originally planned on putting the cake in the middle of the two flower arrangements and on top of a really cool shelf that CJ made but we were worried the cake would melt. So, we kept it inside until the cake smash time and moved the frame in between the two flower arrangements. I made that banner too. :)

20150509_1449My other most favorite decoration. CJ made this in Adobe Illustrator and I absolutely love it! It’s filled with stats on Claire and a few of her favorite things. Such a fun keepsake.

For entertainment for the babies, we had a blow up kiddie pool filled with ball pit balls and a tunnel for them to crawl through. It was a hit!

And that was her birthday party!! We are sooo happy with how it went and now need a vacation to rest after all the prepping craziness and the busyness of last weekend.

 

 

ONE YEAR OLD!!!

First Birthday

Happy Birthday to our beautiful, happy, ridiculously adorable 1-year-old!!!

We can’t believe she’s already one year old and have no idea how time flew by so fast. At the same time, it seems like she was born forever ago. This last year has been a whirlwind of learning how to be parents and Claire growing to be an independent, silly, and loving little girl.

Here’s an overview of our little 1-year-old Claire:

  • Weight: She was 18 1/2 pounds on her birthday last Friday. She’s in the 30th percentile for weight so she’s a petite little one like her mama.
  • Loves:
    • Stuffed animals – she loves to give them hugs and open-mouthed kisses!
    • Playing under our kitchen table and chairs. It’s like her own fort.
    • Pushing furniture around the house. For her birthday, we got her a walker (since she loves pushing things around so much) and she is IN LOVE with it!!! I’d like to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done in the birthday present department. She played with it all day on her birthday and it looked like it may have been the best day of her life.
    • Balloons!
    • Playing peek-a-boo
    • To give big hugs while resting her head on us. My heart melts every time.
    • Finger foods – cheese still is her favorite food group but we can also give her pieces of what we’re eating and she loves being able to munch on what we’re having. Somehow, she likes red onions too. That’s a mystery to me since that’s my all-time LEAST favorite food.
    • Walking… everywhere!! Even though she can walk now, she also loves to hold our hands while walking around. It’s so sweet.
    • To share! She’ll hand us her toys or her food. She also thinks it’s hilarious to feed us.
Enjoying her birthday present from Mommy and Daddy

Enjoying her birthday present from Mommy and Daddy

  • Hates:
    • The seahorse. You know, the one that I mentioned was one of our baby essentials? Now, when the music comes on she starts crying and gets extremely upset.
  • Talents:
    • Walking!! She started walking 2 1/2 weeks ago and is so adorable!! A lot of people warned us to enjoy the time before she can walk because then, everything changes. Yes, everything changed but for the better. I love that she’s an independent little person now and I love hearing the pitter patter of her little footsteps and seeing her smiling face peek around the corner. I think this has been my favorite developmental change so far.
    • She points to things she wants and says “Dat”. We love that she can communicate with us now!
    • We can tell she understands us when we’re talking to her – we can say “What is that?” and she takes off in the opposite direction because she knows she has something she shouldn’t. Or we’ll say “I’m gonna get you” and she always charges toward us (she doesn’t quite get that we’re supposed to chase her ;) ). I can also ask where Mickey or Winnie the Pooh is and she’ll go get them.

May 3

  • Sleeping:
    • For the last week (except for last night), she’s been sleeping through the night. This weekend was crazy busy with family in town for her birthday and Mother’s Day so we expected her sleep schedule to be impacted a bit. Even so, she did incredibly well.
    • Lately, Claire has been waking up from her second nap in a crabby mood. She always wakes up from her first nap as happy as can be but not so much from her second. It’s pretty funny because I’m just as crabby when I wake up from naps in the afternoon. Like mother, like daughter. ;)
  • Other Random Facts:
    • We had her birthday party on Saturday and it was so fun! I’ll do a post on that specifically. It was so wonderful to have so many of our family and friends come to celebrate Claire’s first birthday (and us surviving the first year of parenthood, yay us!). We are the luckiest people in the world to have such a great support system. Huge thanks to all of our family and friends that came early to help set up for the party!
    • On her birthday, we had a lot of errands to run to prep for her party but we made sure to have our own little celebration complete with present opening, a cupcake, and plenty of play time. Claire is happiest when she can run around and play so we made sure that was at the top of our priority list for the day. We purposely kept it low  key because we knew the rest of the weekend was going to be super busy.
A good example of how Claire felt about having frosting all over her hands - she HATED it.

A good example of how Claire felt about having frosting all over her hands – she HATED it. She’s holding it together pretty well in this photo. She had a meltdown when we took her to clean her off.

And that’s our little one year old! We are absolutely loving this stage and love her newfound independence that came with walking. We can’t believe we are now parents of a TODDLER!! How did that happen?!?!

11 Months Old!

11 months

In exactly a month, Claire will be a year old! Can you believe it!?!? I know we can’t!

As each day passes, more of her personality comes out and she continually keeps us laughing. She is so much fun to be around!

Here’s a rundown of our adorable little 11-month-old:

  • Weight: She’s a little over 18 pounds. She definitely went through a growth spurt over the last month or so and is looking so big and tall!
  • Loves:
    • To point at everything! She loves to point at pictures of us, at things she wants, and basically everything. It’s so cute!
    • To talk – she has a lot to say and I want to squeal every time she starts chatting because her little voice is almost too adorable to handle.  It’s sounding a lot more like she’s trying to say words and sentences, even though it’s still her own little language.
    • To walk around furniture while holding onto it. She’s getting better at holding a toy with one hand and holding onto the furniture with the other hand.
    • To have Mommy and Daddy help her walk around.
    • We went to our family cabin for Easter weekend and Claire LOVED to use the high chair as a walker (it has wheels) and would push it around the cabin non-stop.
    • She loves to eat grapes, cheese, and spaghetti! Those are really the only true “solids” that she eats, all other solid food is pureed.
    • She loves drinking from her new water bottle and munching on Puff snacks.
    • To give kisses.
    • To flip through (and, unfortunately, eat) board books.
    • To snuggle.
    • Going on slides. We took her on her first one last weekend and she had the time of her life.
    • Zoe, duh! Zoe is turning a year old on April 23, by the way.

11 Months Claire

  • Hates:
    • Diaper changes.
    • The nose frida. She HATES having her nose blown.
    • Being fed. She’s an independent woman and would prefer to serve herself.
  • Talents:
    • She can say “Ut Oh” and loves dropping things on the floor and saying it. It’s absolutely adorable and I can’t get enough of it. She especially loves saying it in the bathtub when dropping toys outside the tub. Her little voice is soo cute!!
    • She can take a few steps! She’s definitely not walking yet but she can walk from one couch to another (about 2 steps to get there) and, the other evening, pulled herself up to stand on me, turned around, and took 4 steps. We were so surprised that we started cheering and she sat down, got the biggest smile on her face, and giggled. She only takes a few steps maybe once a day, if that. It hasn’t become a regular occurrence yet.
    • She can stand for longer periods of time – I’ve counted up to 45 seconds at one point!
    • She understands us more – I can say “Where’s Mickey?” or “Can you give Zoe a hug?” or sing the Winnie the Pooh song and she totally responds and points to, hugs, or goes to whatever I’m talking about. She definitely knows what Zoe, hugs, Mama, Dada, milk, come here, Winnie the Pooh, and Mickey means.
    • She loves to dance! She bounces up and down and shakes her little booty.
  • Sleeping:
    • She’s still not sleeping through the night but she is doing well at going down for bed. We have a good bedtime routine that we start around 6:30ish and she’s normally asleep by 7pm. She typically wakes up around midnight and then around 5am. We’re hoping she starts sleeping through the night again but only time will tell!
    • She’s VERY particular about her sleeping arrangements. Last weekend, when we were at the family cabin, we barely got any sleep. Apparently, she doesn’t like sleeping anywhere but her own crib and does not enjoy having Mommy and Daddy sleep in the same room as her. Duly noted, little one.
  • Other Random Facts:
    • She had an ear infection for a week or so last month and it was horrible. She was in so much pain and, for a weekend, she only wanted to be held and slept on us. It was so upsetting to see her in pain but not being able to do anything about it but I would be lying if I said I didn’t love all the snuggles. Those were definitely the silver lining in the dark clouds of her first ear infection.
    • We celebrated her first Easter last weekend and had so much fun at the brunch and Easter egg hunt. They had an egg hunt for the littlest ones but, unbeknownst to Claire, the first round was unsuccessful for her. CJ placed an egg right in front of her so she could grab it and a little boy ran up and stole it right in front of her. His dad told him to give it back but he didn’t! We even have a picture of the little bandit being caught red-handed but I won’t post it here because we didn’t ask for consent from his parents (and I’m all about getting explicit consent from people before posting pictures of them or their children). Anyway, we went over to the 9-12 year old section of the Easter egg hunt which hadn’t started yet and helped Claire find her first Easter egg. That one egg made the day for her. She threw it around, chased after it, and looked like the happiest little girl in the world. Success!
Easter 2015

Family photo before Easter brunch!

 

Easter 2015

Holding her precious Easter egg

And that is our beautiful, sweet, spunky, opinionated, PERFECT 11-month-old. Every moment may not be filled with giggles, but it is filled with love and awe for the beautiful gift that we have in a daughter. It’s amazing to think how much our lives have changed in the last 11 months and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in the future. One things for sure, it will definitely be an adventure!

Soaking it in

I wrote this on March 11 and forgot to post it… oops!

Jan 10

Yesterday, I was riding BART into San Francisco for a work conference and I saw a sweet little girl sitting on her mom’s lap. She was maybe a year and a half old and was playing with the people sitting in the row behind them. Watching her made me miss Claire, even though I had just parted with her 30 minutes prior, and even more so, it made me so sad. Even though that girl was probably 6 months older than Claire, I started mourning the day when Claire will no longer be a little baby. I am so deeply in love with Claire and especially the stage she’s at right now. One thing that parenthood has taught me is that there are some things that are just not in my control. No matter what I do, the world will keep spinning and time will keep moving. I can’t stop time. I can’t change the fact that Claire will continue to get older and that someday, I won’t be able to carry her around and snuggle with her and give her a million kisses without her rolling her eyes. I talk about this all the time to people, about how I’m sad that Claire is getting older and I always hear the same response, especially from fellow Mommys:

Enjoy this time.
Every stage has its fun parts.
Just wait until she starts talking.
Be present and soak up your time with her now before she gets older.
She will always be your baby.
Blah blah blah

I get it, you are trying to make me feel better. But it’s not really working people. The truth of the matter is, I am soaking up my time with her. I’m snuggling her, kissing her, laying on the floor and playing with her, every chance I get. I am enjoying this time maybe too much because I’m already getting choked up with this thought of this time passing. I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that she won’t be this age forever. I see little kids everywhere and think to myself, Claire’s going to be this age someday and she won’t be my little baby. And yes, I know, she’ll always be my baby even if she’s not small enough to be carried around. But does anyone else understand what I’m saying!?! I can barely write this post without crying. I just love her so much it hurts. She’s so cute, so sweet, so loving, so spunky, so everything. CJ and I are forever grateful for the honor of being her parents. We are so proud.