dear nixon: volume 12

The other day, I legitimately Googled “do I have mono or am I just really tired.”

(1) as if Google knows
(2) why am I Googling when I clearly should be asleep

There’s an obvious solution here, and it rhymes with OH MY GOD JUST BE SLEEPING.

Right, yeah.

Except then I lose those precious end-of-the-night hours to do insanely beautiful things like read books;
commune with my inner 70-year-old and water the flowers in my pajamas;
get lost with daddy in the black hole of my phone that is looking at/watching old pictures and videos of you;
valiantly attempt to finish–after like almost-two years of trying–Parenthood on Netflix, plus catch an episode of Girlboss here and there, and make a halfhearted attempt at the (reasonably sucky) new season of Orange is the New Black;
and, you know, just life.

Exhaustion, like so many parts of mamahood, is one of those things where you can totally manage it juuuust fine, everything’s cool, until one day you’re legitimately ready for bed at 3 p.m. and realize Shit Has Gotten Real.

This a confusing revelation for me, because I’m actually fully convinced that, 99.1% of the time, I GOT THIS IT’S OKAY DON’T WORRY–
the .9% is reserved strictly for times of intense peril, like if something is on fire.

It’s all trades, babycakes.

Saving the majority of my life-ing for the quiet hours after you’ve gone to bed is the trade for making the most of your awakes.

It means that I was there to watch you announce “wheeee!” as you investigated which of your toys could & could not travel successfully down the slide of your Little People airport;
that daddy & I got to enjoy plastic pots full of monster truck soup you joyously “GUCK!“-ed for us in your tiny kitchen;
that I was the lap you backed into with a book and happily snuggled down in;
that we got to “WASH! WASH!” dishes together, side by side, with you gleefully wielding the handled scrubby thing as a volatile weapon of cleanliness & me immediately regretting my choices to fill the sink so full of water.

& if it means that I’m dragging ass because, after all that, I stayed up until the ungodly hour of 11 p.m. to seize that unique glory of getting caught up in a really good book?

Fair trade.

I’m in.


You are fast.

Consequently, this means that I am fast, everywhere, all the time, because your favorite activities usually revolve around steep sets of stairs, perilous situations where you may or may not fall off a concrete stoop and impale yourself on something, a desire to be “out! OUT!” at all times, and various investigations into the current location of the street.

It’s fun and exhausting and beautiful, because for as much as people wax on about kids teaching you to slow down & notice things, you’re the exact opposite;
you are SO FREAKING EXCITED that things exist that you must see them all, right now, all at the same time.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE YOU GOT THAT FROM.

You actually get so worried daddy and I might miss something that, if you happen to notice us lagging behind, you’ll patiently turn back & “call” us by clicking your tongue and tapping the side of your thigh.

You know, the same way we call the dog.
It’s a thing.

It’s kind of my favorite because of how deliberate and chill you are about it;
it’s not hurried so much as it’s you being like, guys, I know you’re not as fast as me, and that’s okay, but also, you need to be here 10 seconds ago.

Other hilariously awesome things you do:

  • Have your own names for all your favorite books, including “bee-cees,” “owl,” “BUN!” “roof” and “cow” (which, randomly, is for “Where the Wild Things Are“; I guess because of the weirdo bull-looking thing?)
  • Randomly repeat phrases and words we had no idea you knew until right that second; see “cereal”, “right there,” and, the latest, announcing, “me too!” after I’d agreed with daddy using the same phrase
  • Take immense pride in picking up your pretend phone and finding out that it’s you on the other end (”Heh-yo? ME!”)
  • Insist on eating only with adult-sized silverware, an event that transpired immediately after we’d bought enough Nixon-sized cutlery to last you more than a couple of meals. You get so pissed off if we dare give you a kid-sized spoon, ever, and you’ll politely point out “‘POON!” (everything is a ‘poon, by the way, including forks) until we acquiesce and save you from having to eat with small cutlery like a savage
  • Believe that you can drink from an open cup. You’re far more interested in trying to watch the liquid come out than you are in actually consuming it, so “drinks” basically amount to you dumping something all over yourself
  • Refer to sprinklers or anything spraying water as “WASH! WASH!
  • Eat.

It’s your very first summer with skinned knees;
asphalt-kissed little roadmaps on each of your (blessedly) still-squishy legs, telling stories of the times you daredevil-drove the trike at baby work and wiped out on the concrete path, or somehow managed to run against the grain of gravity.

For the record, love, I don’t plan to worry about skinned knees, scraped elbows, or scars with good stories, and I hope you don’t, either.

It’s this weird badge of honor, sending you out into the world and having you come back dirt-covered and dinged up; it means you’re out there, exploring life, then coming home to swirl your bathwater into a watercolor of all the adventures you’ve had that day.


This right here, buddy? This sums it all up:

I’ve never been more exhausted, any happier, or having more fun than I am right now, right in the midst of this busy, brilliantly sweet season of being your mama.


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dear nixon: vol. 11

dear favorite tiny human in the whole entire world:

Welcome to being almost a year-and-a-half old, yo.

At this time last year, you were basically just a precious ball of fat-fats and squishy bits;
now here you are walking around, seizing your ability to inform people/animals/inanimate objects to “go! go!” and bringing us books to read you every fifteen seconds or so.


As far as the general public is concerned, months 15-17 are like the lost months of toddlerhood.

Starting from pretty much the instant you were old enough to exist, there were all these go-to milestones people asked about in response to hearing how old you were—
crawling, starting to walk, sleeping through the night (CAN THIS STOP BEING A THING BY THE WAY), eating solids, teething, whatever.

Now, I tell people, “He’s 16 months/almost a year and a half!” and they just kind of nod at me, like, sweet, man, way to go on the continued success of keeping your kid alive.


This month, for the first time in over a year, I was not topless at work twice a day.

I washed my last sinkful of pump bottles & pump parts, put my pumping bra through the laundry one last time, and finally, officially, brought my pump home from work.

CAN I GET AN AYYMEN Y’ALL

Breaking up with your pump is one of those weird mama milestones that I think goes grossly under-celebrated.

I mean, let’s think about it:
I topless’ed myself at work (in sanctioned areas, mind you, not just at random) twice a day, every weekday, for 15-20 minutes at a time, from the day I went back to work after maternity leave until the day I started to drop pumps.

Many hours were spent (by both myself AND that wonderful daddy of yours) washing and drying and packing and unpacking all the pump parts every night, plus making and washing bottles for baby work, and filling & freezing plastic freezer storage bags of milk for future bottles.

Back in the early days, when I had just made it back after maternity leave, pumping felt so much like a lifeline—
it was this solid, secure connection to home, and to being your mama.

With pumping, I never really set out with any kind of “goal” in mind, like going until X date or for X many months. Like a lot of things in this whole mamahood gig so far, I’ve gone in with the mentality of, welp, we’ll just keep doing this until we’re done with it, and see how that goes, and now here we are WITH SO MUCH TIME FOR ACTIVITIES.

From my boobs to yours, any other mamas reading this—
whether you’re pumping now, have pumped ever in your life, or plan to—
I raise you a celebratory chocolate-chip mug cake, because you are doing a great job.


This Easter, you met your very first Easter bunny.

It went super well!

As parents, we are total jerks.

Would I seek out a giant, festively-attired rodent on my own accord? No.
Would I want to sit on the lap of some random in a red suit and fake beard? Also no.

And yet here we are, like, HERE TINY HUMAN WHO TRUSTS ME TO HELP HIM NAVIGATE LIFE, TOSS OUT ALL YOU KNOW ABOUT STRANGER DANGER BECAUSE HOLIDAYS!

I reiterate:

Total.
Jerks.

Forcing you to be near a mutant bunny in the name of festivity aside, Easter was overall a win for you this year.

For starters, I accomplished a personal life goal of finding you a pair of suspenders.

At your very first Easter egg hunt, you were totally stoked to discover that, if you pulled apart the plastic egg you just found on the ground, YOU THEN HAVE TWO EGGS OMG WHY IS NO ONE ELSE AS EXCITED AS ME.

You were so freaking calm and determined, dude, just chillfully wandering around the egg-scattered lawn and casually picking up eggs to put in your little bag.
For it being your novice run, you fully rocked it. Once we made it to grandma & grandpa’s for your egg hunt there, you’d unlocked Expert Level and didn’t even need help.

You just did you.


Cruising through April, daddy and I came to the terrifying conclusion that the hair on the back of your head was starting to grow out, rather than down.

Not only that, it was also gradually inching its way closer and closer toward becoming a mullet.

I have full confidence that you could’ve made it work.

But also, as your parent, it’s my job to protect you from terrible things.

For you, the most offensive part of your first haircut was that we made you sit still.
(Second runner-up was that your hair couldn’t be cut while you spun around the neato-spinny chair one booth over. Third was that we wouldn’t let you hold the scissors.)

Less than ten minutes later, we’d successfully slain the mullet in progress, and you were lookin’ allllll baby fly.

You and that little elbow lean & pensive off-in-the-distance gaze, like you’re auditioning to be the next happy little baby in a haircut campaign.

Oh, and bonus? We even got an official certificate.

THAT IS A THING.

The shiny part in the top right of it is a fantastic little little hair time capsule, which thrills me because like… I did not bring hair-capturing accessories to the visit.


On Mother’s Day morning, you excitedly presented me with a rainbow-striped gift bag—
casually carried over in the bent crook of your little arm—
filled with a collection of tiny presents that you’d picked out almost all by yourself, with minimal help from daddy.

I’m now the proud owner of a bottle of sparkly red nail polish, a bag of extra-dark chocolate squares, and a container of gladiolus bulbs. (Daddy vetoed a four-pack of toothbrushes and a miniature bottle of mouthwash, but I’m told that you felt very strongly I needed those also.)

My card, also hand-picked by you, says “EAT CAKE” in big, glittery letters on the front, which, I mean… it’s like you KNOW me.


My phone is filled with captured weekends.

Weekends are two glorious, beautiful days where I can soak up 48 delightful hours of hanging out with you.

You just so fun right now, man.

You love books & bring us one after another to read, pointing emphatically at the exact spot on the couch where we are going to go read them.

You love music and randomly burst into dance, sometimes incorporating your favorite motions from Wheels on the Bus.

You still find farts hilarious.

And, most wonderfully, you still nap-trap me.
I live for our weekend naps.

As someone who really sucks at slowing down, ever, for anything, I savor golden afternoons with your little face all smashy-sleepy against my chest.

You always wake up with everywhere hair, like it’s punctuating I had the best nap ever!!!

Weekends are when I get to dive full fledged into what it looks like to be present to the magic that is being your mom, and really, truly see who you are becoming as a little person.

And little love, let me tell you what—
you’re pretty phenomenal.

 mama

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it was a year ago this month.

Two years ago this month, the stars quietly began to knit you together.

It’d be weeks before I had any idea, but there you were–
the very first twinkle of our Nixon, sleepily stretching into existence.

One year ago this month, I was going back to work after maternity leave.

You were just a week shy of being three months old;
I was a wreck.


Note this & know it well, my love:

Even though I chose to go back to work, it doesn’t mean that I love you any less ferociously, or that I don’t think you’re the coolest little human ever.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t love spending time with you, or that staying home with you wouldn’t have been a grand adventure all on its own–
because all of these things are true.

I mean, look at you.
You are a tiny supernova of happiness.

I knew that our first beautiful, bewildering, bittersweet, momentous and magical 12 weeks together would likely be the only time we’d ever have like that—
and it made that precious, three-months-long pajama party all the more special.

… well, except for the last two weeks before I went back to work, when I was an anxious, terrified mess.

THAT WAS FUN.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night, shaking your daddy’s shoulder, because it was 2:27 a.m. and I just really needed him to tell me that, on your first day at baby work, you wouldn’t think I’d just left you and was never coming back.

I treated Google like it was a crystal ball, typing in a thousand questions about going back to work & waiting for The Perfect Answer That Made Me Feel Better to come up in the search results.

I’d get to the end of each day & feel a heavy, sinking sensation in my stomach, knowing that one more day was over and I was one day closer to everything changing again.

And godddd, change.

That’s always the kicker, isn’t it?

There you were, finally being more of a really fun little human, and less of a tiny, hungry squish with sound effects.

There we were, your daddy and I, all but just adapted to upending life as we knew, learning how to not sleep and how to exist as parents.

We’d established routines, come to peace with the fact that you went to bed at dusk and GOODBYE FOREVER PLANS TO DO ANYTHING—
and then maternity leave went and ended, and we had to re-figure-out every single thing, all over again.

It’s all this stuff you don’t really think about until you’re in the thick of it, and suddenly, you have to make room for the never-ending dance of pumping and cleaning pump parts and packing the pump bag.
For packing your bag for baby work every day.
For pumping at work, and making bottles, and cleaning bottles, and making sure the bottles made it to the baby work bag.

Finding room for making dinner and hanging out with you and hanging out with daddy and getting enough sleep and showering and taking care of the house and loving on the Faces & Clementine.

You know how everyone likes to say, “Everything changes when you become a parent!

I WISH THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN A LITTLE MORE SPECIFIC.

But hey, babe. Guess what?

We did it.

We’re still doing it.

Life has this amazing way of continuing on, even if you’re suddenly tasked with accomplishing incredible feats like getting dressed while taking care of a tiny, angry human who just wants to be held and might actually combust with sadness if you so much as consider putting him down.

Even if you wake up every two hours all night long, and can’t get back to sleep in between, so, hey, you might as well Google some questions you have & now it’s four a.m. and congratulations, you get to learn what life looks like on 1.5 hours of sleep.

Even if you’re not sure you can really, actually do it.

Because you can.

Because we are.

Also, amen I love you leggings and dry shampoo.


This month, you’ve become reasonably great at pointing out body parts.

You know where “Nixon’s belly” is, where “Nixon’s eyes” are, and also, where your head is.

Only, it is not your “head”;
it is referred to only as your “bonk,” usually accompanied by this sort of dramatic bow as you point to it.

Your success rate of finding mine & daddy’s bellies, eyes, and “bonks” is probably like 75%, mostly accomplished through the element of surprise.

I can tell you that it is, in fact, possible to be proud of someone while they’re joyously stabbing you in your eye, for no reason.

Other cool activities you’re recently into:

  • Helpfully following daddy or I into the bathroom, tearing off a few squares of toilet paper, and excitedly jutting your arm out at us to help show us what we’re meant to do with it
  • Adopting a very chill lean in the bathtub, like you’re taking a thug bath, where you basically sink into the far back corner & have really terrible baby posture
  • Yelling/shouting back at other babies or kids when we’re outside (or, more thrillingly, INside) and trying to match their decibel
  • Half-shrugging and bending out a “don’t know” half arm, like you’re carrying an invisible tray full of questions, when we ask you something and you’re like, IDK

Our biggest big-big news lately is….
I WORE AN ACTUAL NOT-NURSING-BRA THE OTHER DAY EVERYONE.

… OK, that’s a lie.

Not the part about the bra, because that actually did happen, and it was a pretty damn glorious four-hour event. Kind of the difference between trading out yoga pants for good-butt jeans, where both are great, but one is greater-great?

Anyway, that’s not the big news—
though it comes in a close second, seriously.

The real big news is that you & I dropped our standing lunch date and you, tiny sir, are starting to transition from a two-nap day in favor of one long, late-afternoon snooze.

You’re basically an adult now.

This means that, for the first time since you started baby work, I now have this insane, one-hour chunk of time in the middle of my day, every single weekday, where I can just do Things.

I CAN DO ANY THINGS.

That first week without our mid-day hangout was bittersweet & weird.
I mean, that’d been our routine since basically Ever, you know? Even when you weren’t nursing, it was this great break in my day where I’d get to smush your cheeks & hear your giggle & get in 30 or 40 minutes of Bonus Afternoon Nixon time.

Now, here you are, going down for a nap with all the big kids, and I’m over here like OH MY GOD I HAD NO IDEA I COULD GET SO MANY THINGS DONE IN 60 MINUTES
HOW JOYOUS

Consequently, I am so on top of my laundry game right now.


With daddy going to work at Jesus Christ That’s Early-o’clock these days, weekday mornings are just you & me.

Did you know: It is possible to put on every article of clothing you need to (acceptably) leave the house, and do your eye makeup, while holding a small child?

WANT TO ASK ME HOW I KNOW.

The final step in our morning routine is doling out treats to Clementine and the Faces. Once you realized, OH MY GOD I JUST DROP THINGS AND THEY EAT THEM?!?!, giving the Faces their tiny cat-treats has become your new favorite thing ever.

You’ll stand there in front of each cat, treats in hand, and make sure they’re looking before you daintily tip your hand over and let the treat fall on to the floor.

When they eat it, you make sure to clap for them, and then you turn expectantly to me, like, I’ll have another.

You’ve also decided you get to run the show now when it comes to giving Clementine her treat, which is so cute it almost tangibly hurts.

Initially, you’d come to me for the treat hand-off in the kitchen doorway, then toddle your way over to Clementine’s kennel, let her take the treat, and we’d clap together when she took it.

Now, you take the treat and immediately hand it back to me.
You then proceed to lead me to the kennel; point emphatically to the spot where I need to make the drop-off; clap as Clementine takes the treat; then give me a very proud hug after I close the kennel door, because GOOD JOB MAMA DID IT!

Though being the Treat Master is definitely among your favorite parts of the day, the real
highlight of your morning is when we go outside.
Because that is where birds happen.

You are about birds.

You love coming out the door and discovering that BIRDS CONTINUE TO EXIST.

You point out the sky and the trees, but birds? Birds get an excited inhale, accompanied by the exclamation-point version of you pointing at the sky.

The other night, we even looked up bird videos on YouTube (they were meant for cats, but whatever), and you sat there in total awe, turning around to look at us every few seconds, totally amazed that HERE WERE BIRDS, and we had summoned them.

Magic times we live in, kiddo.
Magic times.


As much as I’m writing these letters to you, my tiny love, I’m also writing them for me, too.

Each of these letters serves as a tiny time capsule;
a way to save all the in-between moments of these sweet little seasons;
a way to revisit past chapters of our story, long after they’ve come and gone.

& this one?
This particular season right now?

This one feels like anticipation; of being so excited for an entire spring and summer just inches away from rolling in, and for you to have an entire season to fill with mud & dirt & rocks & exploring.

It smells like lavender baby bath bubbles; like the top of your head, snuggled in against my chest.

And it sounds like your giggles, in all of their forms;
the gaspy, “heh-heh-heh one you make when you’re super-pleased with yourself,
the one that rolls up from the toes up, and fills the entire room with your joy,
and my favorite one… the excited, drooly-smiled one that comes from seeing me through the screen of our open front window, walking up to the house when I get home from work.

I’m so glad you know that I’ll always come back for you, my little love.

love,
mama 

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dear nixon: volume 9

At just over a year old, the longest stretch you’ve ever slept at one time, in your whole entire life, is four hours.

This incredible event happened in the car on the way back from Nebraska, coming home from the 4th of July.

We were fairly certain you’d expired.

I used to feel like we were doing something “wrong” because you didn’t sleep like other babies WHO I HAD READ ABOUT ON THE INTERNET.

But hey, also judging from the Internet, the amber necklace you wear is a completely useless, albeit trendy, choking hazard, but it will magically help with your teething pain and drooling.

Co-sleeping is going to end with you being ruthlessly smothered, and probably sleeping with us until you’re like 15, but you also might wind up less anxious and more independent—
you know, if you survive.

Because you’re vaccinated, we don’t have to worry about you catching any of the fun illnesses best known from their roles in The Oregon Trail (ASHLEY HAS DIED OF DYSENTERY), but we do have to worry about what’s actually IN these vaccines, as well as how that manifests into horrible, disfiguring things that might make your legs fall off someday.

All that said, it took me almost this whole past year to have the realization that you sleep like you do because THAT IS HOW YOU SLEEP.

Likewise, daddy and I parent you and make the choices we’re making because that’s how we parent.

You are safe, loved and taken care of.
You eat everything.
You like books, sharing food with the dog, and waving to the water as the tub drains.

In the grand scheme of things, regardless of what the internet has to say about it, you’re turning out okay.

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Because it’s winter, and also because we don’t have a cool slide or a neat mushy-bouncy floor, daddy and I have been taking you to the play place inside of the mall that has both of these things.

I have cursed myself approx. 700 times for not bringing wipes along with us to clean your hands afterward, and yet not once have I remembered to actually bring them.

I find comfort in the fact that probably it’s like immune system training.

One thing we’ve noticed in our recent goings is that Parents of the Play Place generally seem to favor referring to their kids’ ages by month. We’re either lazy or just not as into math as everyone else is, so while I think it’s rad when a mom can remember that her child is approximately 29 months old, we’re pretty firmly in the “oh, he’s one” camp if & when people ask.

You’ll upgrade to “almost 2” sometime this summer, dude.
Mama ain’t got time to math.

We also, contrary to the posted signage, smuggle in snacks for ourselves.
PLEASE NO ONE OUT US TO THE PLAY PLACE POLICE, just come sit with us and we’ll totally share.


In milestone news, this past month we ordered you your very own meal for the first time.

Up to this point, you could hang pretty well with the random slices-and-dices from whatever daddy & I ordered—
but lately, this practice has turned into you basically eating all of our food, and me sitting there like, WTF where did my sandwich go and why I am so hungry this is terrible.

It must be said: Chick-Fil-A is legit.
As a company, they have really shitty moral standards, but damned if they don’t also have clean high chairs, and really friendly employees with exceptional manners, and aren’t just wonderful as can be for offering GOOD fruit and grilled nuggets so I can feed you nice things.


Now that you’re fully mobile, you love helping clean up and put stuff away. Even at baby work, you’ll casually grab books off the floor and go put them back on the shelf like ain’t no thang.

It greatly distresses you that we won’t let you use the vacuum by yourself, which tells me that I’m more OCD about cleaning up than even I imagined.

Even at night, when you’re like OVER IT, LET’S SLEEP, you’ll still reach out and close the copy of Goodnight Moon in my hands, gently take it from me, and attempt to return it to its spot on my nightstand.
Also, a moment for how “goodnight nobody” just comes out of nowhere in that book and throws a nice, depressing wrench in things.
Here we are like, GOODNIGHT CARPET AND CROWN MOLDING AND MITTENS AND HAIR ACCESSORIES AND MUSH AND NOBODY.

What the hell, Margaret Wise Brown.
What were you even going through.


The other night at Target, you were pretty solid on the fact that you could carry our basket.

So we let you.

And for the 4 very exciting inches that you were able to travel with it, you were the proudest little boy to have ever existed at a Target, ever.

I love watching you do life, little dude of mine.


Things you’re really into this month:

– “Reading” in the car (which amounts to a lot of squeaks and various babble inflections as you turn the pages)
– Using the Nixon-sized broom grandma bought you to “sweep” the floor
– Mostly successfully feeding yourself with Nixon-sized silverware
– Successfully drinking from a straw, sometimes followed by a dramatic exhale wherein all the water you just drank runs down your chin like a waterfall
– Absconding with washcloths/napkins and using them to dust chairs… the cat tower… the cats… yourself
– Screaming, usually for no reason beyond it’s a skill you possess and would like to share with others
– Realizing that you can be chased, and joyously drunk-running away from us every time you remember that’s an option
– Bringing your snacks with you to sit directly in front of the vent every time the heat comes on


We got the raddest compliment the other day.

At a favorite local dive with the best breakfast burritos in town, the guy behind the counter commented on how much he enjoyed watching your daddy and I just playing and hanging out with you while we were there.

There is no greater compliment than one about how you’re NOT messing up your tiny human, man.

I’ve always made a point to high five (literally or verbally; usually both) other parents on their awesome human-raising skills, but hearing that, and the way I felt afterward, basically sealed the deal on wanting to keep it up forever.
I’mma be 90, blindly high-fiving my way through a crowd to be like, I JUST THINK IT’S WONDERFUL HOW YOUR DAUGHTER USES HER MANNERS WHAT A GREAT LITTLE SOUL

You make me endlessly proud to be yours, babycakes.

mama.

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dear nixon: you are one

Well, would you look at that, my sweet little light.

You are a whole year old.

365 days’ worth of goodness & drool & fancy little man-pants.

I look back at pictures of you from a year ago

the first time we met;
you being all glorious in the sunshine on your very first morning;
you in fuzzy dinosaur jammies on our first official day of maternity leave;
you, in your glorious brand-new-ness, all milk-drunk and snuggled up against my chest—

and I marvel at how you’ve spent the last year becoming this super-cool little being who can drink with a straw & eat pizza with us.


I am so, so overdue with this letter to you, ‘Cakes, because life.

In November, I started a new (amazing, incredible, “oh-my-god-is-this-real-life-and-I-get-paid-to-do-this?”) job, daddy started a new job, then it was your birthday, and like five seconds later, it was Christmas.

Any space in between, I was either
(a) placing tempting snacks above the sink to lure myself to wash bottles & pump parts,
(b) preemptively losing my shit about all the Things we needed to do/buy/wrap/experience guilt about in relation to Christmas and your first birthday, or
(c) actually losing my shit about all the Things we needed to do/buy/wrap/experience guilt about in relation to Christmas and your first birthday.

THERE WAS JUST A LOT GOING ON.

However, as tends to be the case with most things I barely hold it together about, everything worked out beautifully & we all survived.
I credit this mostly to the fact that your daddy is really, really good at balancing out my panic with this totally zen, “babe we got this don’t even worry” attitude.

Also to snacks.
Always snacks.

Really, for your birthday, the only thing I was adamant about was that you have a giant balloon for the occasion, because there are so very few events in life that call for celebratory helium.

Done annnnnd done.

Initially, daddy and I were like, “We’ll just invite family over to do pizza and cake at our house, and it’ll be super chill and laid back.

And then we remembered that we have a thousandy immediate family members, realized it would basically be the worst idea we’ve ever had to fit that many humans into the space where we live, and quickly came up with an alternate plan where we moved the party to somewhere at Not Our House.
With pizza.

EVERYONE WINS.

At your party, you got your very own smash cake of the very same flavor and design that grandma Bridget had made for your Daddy to decimate on his first birthday.

Ever the appreciator of food, you deigned to actually smash your cake and opted to joyously pet the frosting around with a fork.

The highlight of your day, however, was climbing atop the four-wheeler you’d been gifted and realizing that SWEET MOTHER OF GOD IT MOVES

This is the actual moment of that discovery, and your face basically says it all.

Daddy & I were all ultra-cautious as you climbed on for your first ride, very parent-ly hovering alongside in case gravity decided to clothesline you—
but you were just like, NAH BRAHS, I’VE GOT THIS, IT’S COOL, and casually took off like you’d been driving for years.

I mean.
OK.
Cool.

On your real-actual birthday, we celebrated by having evening breakfast with grandma Sharry, grandpa Mike and a pancake shaped like a “1”—
a festive treat of which you were suspicious and maybe kind of judgmental.

WE WERE ALSO ABLE TO HAT YOU
WHICH WAS AN AMAZING ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR THE GLORIOUS 3 SECONDS IT LASTED.


I’mma be honest with you when I say that your daddy and I didn’t buy you anything for Christmas this year.

Probably because we are jerks.

Mostly because I was already flipping out over how much Stuff you already own, how much Stuff you’d just accumulated for your birthday, and how much Stuff was still coming from two families’ worth of Christmas.

So, I mean, I guess if you look at it that way, what we actually gave you for Christmas was mama’s sanity.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

Despite the fact that you’re currently growing in four of your upper-level mouth swords, you were so, so good and wonderful for all the holiday festivities. Snugglier than usual, but generally awesome.

You frosted (and by “frosted,” I mean “wildly flailed while holding a paintbrush loaded with frosting and some of it touched the cookie”) your very first sugar cookie;
you met Santa, an event during which you were FAR more concerned by the giant Chick-Fil-A cow wearing clothes that was standing nearby (which, fair);
you were thrilled that people were kind enough to give you bags and crinkly tissue paper, but weren’t entirely sure why anything else was included because HELLO WHAT MORE COULD YOU EVEN WANT THAN NOISES;
and you joined me for our very first Solstice celebration, where we set beautiful intentions for the new year & you were quite distressed that the flaming Yule wreath in the middle of the room did not wave back at you.


God, dude.
A year.

You’ve graduated from using “all done” strictly for food-related statements and now use it in ANY situation where you’ve decided you’re over it, thanks, make this be done.

You went from turbo-crawls, to tentative furniture-surfing, to OMFG HE RUNS NOW? over the space of about a month, and now, for the most part, you only walk like you’re 45% drunk.

You hug deliberately now, and the hugs know no bounds.
You hug the (very patient) Faces and Clementine.
You hug Ms. Lisa at baby work, and your friends at baby work, and sometimes the curtains at baby work, too.
YOU ARE REALLY GOOD AT IT AND EVERY TIME YOU DO IT I JUST MELT SO HARD.

Before we leave the house, you take epic delight in being the one to bring Clementine her “going into the kennel” treat. You get SO pissed off at us if we dare take this honor away from you & will make very displeased sounds at us to make sure we know.

You’re convinced you not only know how to put on your own shoes (you don’t), but also that you can put them on me. (Also, nope.)

You just, like within the last week, have figured out how to blow kisses.
This is basically accomplished by you smashing your palm against your face, sometimes while growling, and it’s amazing.

To my endless delight, you have favorite books, which you’ll either point to and announce, “buh,” or pick up, bring over to me or daddy, place in either of our laps and clap to signal, hi, I have brought you these words and it is time to read them at me.
MY HEART, BABY.
MY ENTIRE ACTUAL HEART.

You’re currently obsessed with this book you got for Christmas that has a panel of sound-playing buttons down one side, and you VERY SPECIFICALLY love the button that plays Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
This song is legit 45 seconds long, and if we dare cheat you of its full glory by canceling it out with another button—
say, the one that makes a two-second magic sound—
you will purposefully take the book back, push the Rudolph button, and then make the book dance to it with you.


This past year, I wore exhaustion like a badge of honor.

I’d never felt my heart break as wide open as it did the day I went back to work.

I fought long and hard to be able to nurse you, and I will forever count that victory among one of the greatest and most trying battles I’ve ever won.

I was really, really thankful for Amazon Prime.

I reveled in the way it felt like liquid sunshine every time I made you laugh.

I got to watch your daddy settle so very effortlessly into being your daddy, and I love him all the more for it.

I learned that humans can actually, for-real survive on nothing more than Ghiradelli chocolates, random muffins and a lot of water for weeks at a time.

Really, the only thing I knew for absolute sure this entire time was that I loved you, with every single fiber of my being, and somehow, that single certainty was enough to build an entire first year of motherhood around.

There have been a lot of really rad years in my life, but this one—
the one where I got to bring your bright light into this world—
changed everything.

This year, I learned how to be your mama.

We made it, little dude.

You are here, you are awesome, and you are one.

I love you so stupid much.


your mama.

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dear nixon: the “first halloween” edition

dear Nixon—

Earlier this week, we celebrated your very first Halloween!

There’s such a weird sense of pressure when it comes to first anythings, man, particularly first holidays.

Something about them takes on this impressive Sense of Meaning, because they have Never Happened Before, and you feel like you need to properly document them in order to fully capture the levity of how they were THE VERY FIRST THING.

Your first Christmas was easy, primarily in the sense that you were, like, two minutes old, and the fact that daddy and I showed up with pants on, (reasonably) alive, and with you was all that mattered.

But then you get to First Halloween, where—
and let’s be honest here—
the primary goal is to get cute AF pictures of you being very festive in your very first Halloween costume, not to mention find and/or craft said costume.

And the struggle to make that last part happen was real, because hashtag mama can’t sew.

We were also really limited in our costume selection because you continue to hate hats—
even the really super-cute, really super-soft buffalo plaid fleece ear flap one that I loved at Target.

WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LOVE THAT ONE
YOUR EARS ARE GOING TO FALL OFF THIS WINTER PROBABLY.

Anyway.

Your hatred of headwear rendered 90% of Nixon-sized costumes completely useless, because most of them were these cozy, bunting-style things with giant stuffed heads on them. The idea is that you’d wear the hood-head up and SUDDENLY TAH-DAH, you are a bear.

… except you’d be like,
THIS DEMON HOOD IS RUINING MY LIFE, BE GONE
and pull the head-hood off, effectively make it look like you were wandering around parading a recent kill over your shoulder.

(Which is an idea we could have totally gone with and really committed to, honestly. But I feel like we should save morbid humor until you’re at least two)

LOOK AT HOW RESPONSIBLE I AM YOU’RE WELCOME.

Thus, our costume quest for a non-hooded Halloween began.

The first stop was Once Upon a Child, where we had high hopes of finding you something adorable, warm and painfully cute.
Said hopes were quickly dashed as we thumbed through the racks and our options were basically pumpkin, pumpkin, is that a butterfly idk, that one has a tutu, and pumpkin.
End scene.

In act two, we hunted for costumes at the actual store of Halloween, which lol forever why are tiny clothes NOT EVEN INTENDED FOR NORMAL LIFE so expensive?

There was this insanely precious gnome ensemble—WITH OVERALLS— that I probably would have attempted to put you in for normal life (because why limit the fun to just one day?), but its key defining feature (the delightful little gnome-beard) would’ve probably just pissed you off and/or been forcefully removed at its earliest opportunity.

So, solid nope.
End scene again.

For a hot minute, daddy & I briefly debated putting you in a dog costume. Because, hey, are they NOT designed for creatures that travel in the same manner you do right now anyway?
And how great would you look as a donut?
RIGHT? RIGHT?

But ultimately, and through the power of an immense amount of felt, fabric glue and scissoring, I created you into a goldfish.

And being a fish is very exhausting.

Likely actually for real.

Because in my festive-fueled fervor TO CREATE, I neglected to consider the fact that you were basically wearing two pounds of felt & a metric ton of fabric glue.

BUT AWWWW.

Of course, I couldn’t just stop at crafting you into a tiny sea creature.
A…. SONfish….. if you will.

OH NO.

I decided the whole family would get in on the sea-themed fun.

Daddy would wear his waders & be a fisherman, you’d be our goldfishy, and I’d be a mermaid.
HOORAY OMG.
Except, as it turns out, waders don’t exactly mix well with dry land, so we got approximately zero pictures of this great idea.

This is what daddy looks like when he goes fishing for real anyway, though, so there’s that.
REAL LIFE.

(Also, who knew they made fishing poles THAT TALL?)

During the day, we took you trick-or-treating around my work, the highlights of which included (1) you so thoroughly enjoying the Fig Newton from Ruth at the front desk that you made loud, ultra-pleased “MMMM!” noises with every bite we fed you; (2) you being offered a bowl of candy, into which you reached, grabbed a shiny Three Musketeers, then proudly dropped it back in because TAH-DAH; and (3) seeing a puppy, because any time any puppy is anywhere in existence, it is the greatest day.

Here’s you on your very first outdoor trick-or-treating adventure later that night, all cozied up in a giant fleece puff because climate:

The thing about having a non-walking human on Halloween is that there is no not weird way to trick or treat. It’s not like those miniature Snickers and shrunken bags of M&Ms going home for you, right?

Thus, we had a lovely time joining our friends (along with their superbly costumed troll doll & Hogwarts-themed offspring) in assuming the Attentive Parental Stand position at the end of numerous driveways, scoping out the assortment of costumes that paraded by.

I already can’t wait for next year, when we get to watch your sweet face come running back to us after every house, glowing with the pure joy of a rattling bucket full of candy.


Ten months old, dude, coming up on one month shy of a year before we know it.

Nine times out of ten, you’re the very first thing I see in the morning—
popping up next to me like little baby toast, your hair a puffy firework in the soft glow of not-yet-sunrise, waiting until you know I see you sitting there next to me before you bust out your first smile of the day.

Your current favorite toys include the plug to the space heater; outlets; Clementine’s food dish; water bowls; and anything small enough that you can push around the house and turn into a car.

Here and there, we hear words—
mama”, “dada,” and “yeah” are the for-sures, but they’re not super consistent. Mainly you like to yell “mamamamamamamama” to summon my boobs, which you’ve recently decided are hilarious.
Your new thing is to stop nursing, pull yourself up to sitting, and then sit back to laugh at whichever side is exposed.
It greatly pisses you off if I cover back up before this important step is completed.

You are a total sunshine, baby boy, and I’m pretty sure life has never been as great as it’s been since you brought those glorious cheeks into our lives almost 11 months ago.

All my heart, all my life, baby dude.

mama

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dear nixon: volume 6

it’s been nine whole months since the very last time I felt you kick.

Nine months since your daddy & I precariously balanced my phone on the frame inside the porch window, set the timer, and snapped what would be the very last picture of all of us in the “sunset.”

Nine months and assorted days since we brought you home, set your car seat on the living room floor, and looked at each other like, “OMG, we got to take him home and he LIVES with us now. WHAT.

It’s been nine big, beautiful months of Pink Floyd onesies and striped pants, naptrapped afternoons and motorboat-noise mornings, first fevers and first foods, and somehow, sunshine and cheeks, you’ve now officially been hanging out with us for as long as it took to bake you.

High five and good job to all of us, WE ARE STILL ALIVE.


Back in those sunset days, before you tumbled Earthside and into our arms, everything your daddy and I did was punctuated—silently or otherwise—with, “This is the last time we’ll do _____ without having a baby.

We were so very aware of that invisible, electric charge that surrounded us those last weeks of November and early December, our toes inching ever closer and closer to this new, divisive line marking “before you” and “after.

Walking the mall, marveling,
This is the last weekend, ever, that we won’t be parents.

Leaving work, thinking,
This might be the last time I walk out the back door until I come back from maternity leave.

Sitting in a booth at Shari’s, saying,
This is the last time we’ll go out to breakfast with this baby belly.

Even on the morning you were born, I remember looking over at daddy as he started the car to go to the hospital and announcing,
The next time we come home, we’ll have a baby.

It’s such a crazy contrast, dude, when you compare the nine months of waiting to meet you vs. the nine months you’ve been in our lives.

As daddy so pointedly put it the other day,
God. What did we even DO before we had him here to play with?


At nine months—
and a rather tall nine months, at that—
we’re currently in this weird clothing purgatory where, apparently, there is no such thing as your actual size anymore.

THERE IS JUST A RANGE.

Out of the eight-frillion clothing companies in the whole entire world who manufacture tiny human apparel, it appears only about two of them are down to make clothes that are just labeled “nine months.”

For everyone else, it’s basically like, okay, this shirt can fit you any time from now until the summer, GOOD LUCK GOD BLESS.

All your tiny human clothes to this point have gone in nice, tidy three-month spans, and now suddenly everything is either 6M-12M, 12M-18M, or THAT IS CLEARLY MADE FOR GIANTS

HOW IS THIS EVEN FAIR

WHO DECIDED THAT HALF OF AN ENTIRE YEAR IS AN ACCEPTABLE RANGE FOR CLOTHING TO FIT

Further complicating matters, you still have some clothing marked 3-6M that fits, which doesn’t even make any sense BECAUSE TINY CLOTHING SCIENCE.

But I’m going with it.

Because damned if you won’t wear those cute pants with the monster on the butt until they’ve become capris on you.
THEY ARE ADORABLE.


In other exciting news, your hair game continues to be very strong.

Also, I think if you had the ability, you would happily trade us in and live the rest of your days with only Clementine.

You want to be in her food, while she’s eating it.
You want to high five her water, in the bowl, while she’s drinking it.
You want to be in her kennel with her, while she’s… in-there’ing.
You want to share all of your toys and snacks with her at any and every opportunity that presents itself.

Yesterday morning, you even woke up PRIOR TO DAWN because you’d apparently been waiting all night to shriek some vowels at her & you couldnot wait a moment longer to do it.

Bless her furry heart, for she is the raddest dog ever.

I mean.

(You later shared this celery with her, by the way.
And by “shared,” I mean you basically shoved it into her mouth and pointedly made cheeks at her until she accepted your drooly offering.
)


You’re in this painfully adorable stage right now where, every so often, you shove Wub into my face/daddy’s face/Clementine’s face, very generously offering to share your very favorite thing with us.
(And sometimes with our foreheads/eyes, whatever. Aim is hard.
I hear this is a recurring theme once you start peeing OUTSIDE your diaper.
)

Clementine straight panics when you try to share Wub and friends with her, though.
After the Incident where she kidnapped all of your Soothies pacifiers & buried them outside the first week you were home—
… yeah, that was a thing—
she knows that she is not allowed to play with them.

But then here you are, shoving the Forbidden Object in her face with such joy, BASICALLY PEER PRESSURING HER, and so homepuppy will literally dramatically sigh, stand up, and walk away.

Like, she will exit her relaxing and just solid NOPE you.

We read/heard a lot of weird stuff about what we should do to “prepare” Clementine for you before we brought you home (playing a recording of a crying newborn? WHY THO), but apparently the method where we just showed up with a little homemade human & let her walk in to meet you worked out juuuuust fine.


For your very first daycare field trip, we went swimming—
an event to which I neglected to bring your swim trunks, and I didn’t even realize until afterward that I was fully That Mom whose kid was paddling around in just his reusable swim diaper.

BABIES ARE A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR ALL OF US, OKAY.

Related:
Swim diapers suck for naps.
Do not let your baby nap in a swim diaper. That whole “not absorbent” thing is in no one’s favor outside of the pool, and especially not in a car seat.

Regardless of the fact that you were basically swimming in nothing but your baby underwear on your first chlorinated excursion, you were allabout that swimming pool life.
We floated around together, your tongue casually curled out the entire time, stopping occasionally to slap the water with glee before returning to the Zen Tongue state.

You also only tried to pull off my swimsuit top once, which I consider an impressive win.

Thus, we enrolled you in swimming lessons, the first of which was a couple of weekends ago.

Lessons” is a loose term here; it’s basically like, six parent-kiddo pairs, ranging from 7 months to 2 years old, all milling around in the water while our very confused instructor tells us things like, “OK, let’s practice blowing in the water!” and encourages us to “help you” push off the wall with your legs.

I mean, her intentions are good.

If nothing else, it’s a rad excuse to go swimming, and you are dapper as all hell in your tiny plaid trunks.


Once upon half-of-your-life-ish ago, we used to attempt bedtime stories.

Being that you were mostly not mobile, this event usually amounted to your daddy & I snuggling into bed with you between us and attempting to get through a book before you got super pissed off that you couldn’t roll away.

BUT GUESS WHAT.

YOU LIKE BOOKS NOW.

You even have a favorite—
which fully trips me out, because you have favorites
that you’ll pick out from all the rest and, with pointer finger at the ready, pet each and every one of the touch-and-feel pages.

It is so rad.

Consequently, I’ve now stocked you up with, like, 17 “touch and feel” books because AAAAAH AREN’T BOOKS COOL
RIGHT
RIGHT?!
HERE HAVE ALL OF THE BOOKS
BOOKS ARE THE COOLEST


Of all the months in your glorious little life so far, this is the first one where I’ve had that moment of, “good hell, where did my baby go?

We were playing on the floor together—
glossy, sun-warmed wood scattered with colorful plastic links, splayed-open board books, the ever-demanding tambourine—
and I looked over at you, sitting up next to the doorway, so proud and confident and beamy.

You, just being this spectacular little human that is so decidedly not an itty bitty baby anymore.

You play peek-a-boo with THE ENTIRE OUTSIDE, using the curtains.
When we wipe your nose, you make motorboat noises with your lips because clearly that’s how mama & daddy do it.
You make “AH!” noises when you hear dogs barking or see the kitties and want to get their attention.
You half blow, half hum, trying to imitate the way daddy whistles to bring Clementine inside.

I wasn’t going to be this mom, you know—
wailing over WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE and WHERE DID MY BABY GO and GOD IT ALL GOES SO FAST.

But one day, it’ll be the very last time we watch you turbo-crawl across the floor.

One weekend morning soon, you won’t need to hold on to the ottoman to do your joy-fueled baby squats.

One afternoon, when I pick you up from baby work, you’ll just casually come strolling over to meet me instead of doing your usual happy-panting crawl from wherever you were sitting when I walked in.

And one very-early-o’clock, we’ll wake up to you saying real, actual words, evolved past your current “abababababa” and “amamamamama”-s.

But no how big, and smart, and good at unassisted squats you get, my little dude—
no matter how much further away you grow from the most beautiful 8-lb. burrito I’ve ever cradled in my arms—
you’ll always, always be my baby.

More than words, little man.
More than words.

 mama.

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