Roller Coaster

5 Jun

Hey kids,

Life has been crazy busy, since I last wrote; filled with ups and downs, temper tantrums and sweet gestures… You’re both changing so quickly it’s hard to even track the changes on a day-to-day basis.

Arlo, it seems like you’re taking your terrible two’s in strides. One day you’ll tell me you don’t like me, and moments later you’ll tell me I’m your best friend. The same goes for your sister. One morning you don’t want her around, and the next you’re concerned how much you’ll miss her when you head to big kid school and Elliott heads to Grandma and Grandpa’s.

You also went through a stage of trying to master the eye rake wrestling move anytime we picked you up for a time out. I’m glad we’re over that stage, you’ve been much calmer lately, but Elliott, you’ve unknowingly chosen to carry on the tradition, as you explore our faces with your little razor-sharp nails.

More often than not, Arlo, your terrible twos have been more irrational, than terrible. Often Elliott and I would come to grab you from your crib in the morning, only to have you break down into a screaming fit because I’d accidentally knocked over an imaginary sandcastle you’d built on your blanket. 

Both of your imaginations have grown tremendously in the last few months. Elliott, you are convinced you can walk, even though you’re only nine months old, and haven’t even mastered crawling. The best way I can describe it, is, you’re like someone in physically therapy who is relearning to walk; but you’re completely impatient with where you are in the process, and you just want to return back to your normal, brisk, pace of walking. Except you’ve never walked!

You’re just starting to crawl more, and could’ve been crawling around for months, but instead of using your hands and knees to take you from point A to point B, you spend all of your time trying to stand up, or screaming for us to help you stand up and walk. It seems like 90 percent of the time you spend on the floor, you’re in the downward dog position, trying desperately to shift all of your weight onto your tiny feet.

Setting you down on your butt is an impossible task. When I lower you to the ground you frantically fight for position to make sure your feet hit first. I try to reposition you to get you seated, but your legs lock firmly in place and you squawk until I hold your arms and help you walk around the room.

Arlo, you’ve begun playing a lot of make believe. One day we picked you up from daycare to find your face sticky and covered in dirt. Turns out you covered your face with a glue stick in order to give yourself “A beard like Daddy.”

You’ll play doctor and sit on our chest, pulling our eyelids down to expose our eyeballs, saying, “Ooh, you’re eyes are red, you’re sick.” The other day you told your mom she was sick, and asked her if she needed some kisses. You’re very stingy with kisses these days, so she immediately said, “YES! I do!” To which you responded, “Ok, let me go get my dog.” You jumped off the bed, grabbed Dexter by the collar, steered him to the edge of the bed, and then commanded him to give your mother kisses, without any hint of humor.

We’ve also been playing a lot of trapping, a game you invented. The game essentially teams you up with either me or mommy, and then the other person is trapped with your blanket. Once they’re trapped, you shout, “Let’s POKE ’em!” Or you just want to “Jimmy Snuka” us. This used to consist of you diving onto our bellies, but has evolved into you splashing down onto us with your knees or elbows, as you giggle uncontrollably. 

You’ve both taken to talking to yourself. It’s not uncommon to walk into a room and find either one of you chattering away as if you were discussing politics on the world’s stage. Arlo, you’re usually pretending you’re a scuba diver, talking to fish. Elliott, at this point, we don’t really know what you’re saying, but you have become more and more vocal over the last few months.

The first thing you ever said, sounded like you were trying to call your brother, “ARE-WOO.” You said it over and over for a few days, before moving on to “Mamamamama” and “Dadadadada.” You’ve also started waving, selectively giving high fives, and your smile is brighter than ever. 

For awhile, anytime you saw our cat, you’d scream out loud and flail your arms enthusiastically. Arlo, you also declared your devotion to Sedona, firmly labeling yourself as a cat person. You began chasing the kitty all over the house, using brooms to get her our from under the couch, until you could corner her somewhere. Once you got her, you’d carry her around the house, then climb on the couch to pet her and tell her what a good cat she was.

A few weeks ago, we noticed how easy it was for you to catch her. It became clear to us kitty’s 16-years of life had caught up with her. She was taken in by Mama when she was just born, and lived through your mom getting married, bringing home a dog, and then adding two kids who loved to pet and pull her fur.

In the morning, we had you say goodbye to her, Arlo. You crouched down next to her and pet her gently, saying is a super sweet voice, “Goodbye kitty, I’m sorry you’re sick.”

That night you asked where she was.

“She’s gone,” I replied.

“But where IS she?” You asked.

“She’s dead, baby.” Mom answered.

“But where IS she?” You asked again.

“No one really knows,” I responded. “But she was a good kitty, and we’ll miss her.”
“Yeah,” you said.

A few days later you asked your mom more questions about where she was. Apparently you were looking for more of a physically location, rather than a discussion about where you go when you die. That night you asked me where she was.

“I told you baby, she’s in the ground somewhere.” Your mom said.

“Let’s go dig her up.” You replied, as serious as you’ve ever been.

Life goes on, and we go with it; twisting, turning, watching things speed up and slowdown, changing as we go, together, as a family.

I love you both more than anything.

Love you,


Potty Talk

3 Apr

Arlo James,

A few months ago you stopped wearing diapers, except during naps and at night when you sleep. When we first started down this path, we often left a pair of wet footprints in our wake. You knew when you had to go, you just didn’t want to stop what you were doing to sit on the toilet. That is, until we introduced chocolate chips as a reward.

The first night I explained the rules to you—one chocolate chip for going pee, two for going poop—you responded very enthusiastically with, “I’m going to PEE and PEE and PEE!”

We let you pick out the chocolate chips, at first, but soon you started to call out, “I sneakeded two!” And you’d make a grab for as many as you could and shove them into your mouth.

When you realized you go No.1 far more often than you go No.2, so you set out to renegotiate. You proposed three for pee, one for poop. We agreed, and then you instantly changed your demands to five for pee and two for poop. Tough bargain, but we agreed.

After you started trying to grab the entire stash of chocolate chips, we started picking them out for you. We’d hand you three, claiming it was five; until you realized you could count to 20 (minus 16, for some reason you always leave out 16). At that point we’d have to line them up on the counter and count them out together, like a shady back alley deal where neither party trusts one another.

Pretty quickly you stopped having accidents, except for your lack of aim. Often you’d sit down on the toilet, your penis pointed straight ahead, and proceed to pee just past the rim of the toilet, all over the bathroom floor.

One time we were going swimming and I took you to the bathroom before we got into the pool. I picked you up, set you on the toilet, and quickly realized your penis was directly pointed at me and the bag of towels I had around my shoulder. Just before you let loose, I pushed your penis down towards the toilet bowl.

“Don’t touch it,” you snapped.

“I’m sorry, I had to, you were about to pee all over…”

“Shhh, don’t talk,” you muttered, in a tone that clearly told me you’d started going.

Telling when you’re going, about to go, or just went, can be confusing. When you have to go No.2, we’ve learned to watch for when you suddenly go quiet, which like your Dad, isn’t very often. With No.1, you’ll often look up and say, “I’m peeing.” Which we realized, means, “I have to pee.” Lately you’ll stop and ask, “Am I wearing a diaper?” This is my cue to pick you up and run for the toilet.

In the early stages of potty training you liked a little moral support, and would insist whoever was closest to you come in and sit down on the toilet with you.

Some days you simply don’t want to go to the bathroom, even though you know you have to go. One Saturday I realized you had to go the bathroom and asked you take a quick break from playing to go sit on the potty.

You replied to my request with, “I’m a skid steer loader, Daddy.”

“Skid steers go to the potty,” I responded.

“Skid steers DO NOT go potty,” you said. “They DO NOT have a penis.”

Today you stood and peed for the first time. It was pretty hilarious and only required a handful of minutes to clean up the portion of your bladder which missed its mark. Your mom laughed the other day as she saw you pointing your stream of pee all over the toilet bowl.

“That will never cease to be entertaining for him,” I replied. “I know from personal experience.”

It took you awhile to get consistent about going No.2 in the toilet, and even now you’re not 100 percent, but I’ll never forget the first time you remembered to take off your pants and go.

I was at work, and had just recently learned that my computer’s new operating system allowed me to receive text messages on my computer screen, in real time. I was on the phone with a client, doing a screen share, when a message popped onto my screen for both of us to see. It was from your mom, and it said, “Arlo pooped in the potty for two chocolate chips.” My client burst in laughter and then cheered, “YEAH, Arlo!”

Soon enough you’ll be a potty trained professional, and you’ll be going to the bathroom on your own. I’m looking forward to that day, but will always remember the hilarious stages it took to get there.

You’ll always be No.1 in my book.

Love you buddy,



When you’re having fun…

16 Mar

Baby girl,

As you get older, days begin to fly by, and before you know it, weeks turn to months, and months turn to years. Before Arlo was born, I had all the time in the world to write him letters; but after he was born, that time was cut in half. By the time you came along, Arlo had just turned two and I had a newborn at home, so it became harder then ever to write to you as much as I’d like.

Since I wrote to you last, you’ve changed so much. You started to push yourself across the floor, and roll over. Some times you’ll even hold your own bottles. When you started trying to grab our food, we took that as an interest in eating solid foods. You struggled on your first try, but you quickly became a master, and now eat on pace with someone trying to break a record for the fastest time for eating a smushed banana. You’re sitting up on your own, and you just had your lower-left front tooth break through.

Each of these steps are completely monumental and deserve their own dedicated letter praising you for your brilliance on mastering all of life’s little puzzles. But for now, a paragraph will have to do, because most nights and mornings I’m too busy holding you and giving you tons of kisses, and chasing your brother around in circles (often at the same time). I can’t even believe where time has gone. I woke up one day to change your diaper, shortly after bringing you how from the hospital, and found a six-month-old little girl, giggling, bright eyed, and squirmy as can be.

You’ve still got your adorable little pixie haircut you were born with, and are only now just growing into, although we’re still not sure if your blonde or strawberry blonde. You also still have your squishy little cheeks, which i love to kiss. You are such a happy baby who genuinely seems to love people. You search for eye contact, and when you find it, you smile. When the person smiles back, you smirk, showing off your dimples, and then let out a little giggle.

You’re still trying to talk, but the sound is now more akin to a dolphin or blue whale, than a cat fight. Even though we’ve already gone through this with Arlo, I can’t seem to remember the milestones. I’m tempted to go back and read my letters to him to find out when you’ll be crawling, or talking, when you’ll venture out for your first steps; but you’ll undoubtably be your own woman and will get to these things when you’re ready.

As cliché as it sounds, it seems like only yesterday you were born, but when I think back, I can barely remember life before you arrived. One night your mom made the comment, “I didn’t realize something was missing, until she arrived. Now we’re complete.” We are.

I love you so much, my baby girl.



The Specialist

6 Feb

Hey baby girl,

When you were first born you were having a tough time eating. One of the doctors in the hospital, as well as a lactation specialist your mom went to see recommended we have your tongue clipped. Well not actually your tongue, but that piece of skin underneath your tongue.

In some cases that strip of skin is longer, stopping the baby from sticking its tongue out; which both prevents them from latching on during breast feeding, and making a proper taunting face. We were told it could correct itself, or possibly you’d have to have the procedure done when you’re older if you were having problems with speech.

We held off on making any decisions until we talked with your doctor, who we absolutely love. Much as I suspected, this was an optional procedure which he thought was currently being overprescribed. We opted not to do it, and in time you mastered breast feeding, bottle feeding, and you’re currently following in your brother’s foot steps by attempting to concur the spoon before 5 months of age.

The only medical concern we really had, was your eye. Nearly from the first day you were born, your right eye would get all goopy, and often time in the morning it would be completely crusted shut. You’d scream every morning as we’d have to clean your eye with a warm rag, and it seemed to be getting worse with each passing day. The doctor told us this was the result of a clogged tear duct, which would fix itself in time when your tears came in. If we wanted it cleared out sooner, we had the option of taking you to a specialist to perform a minor operation to unclog it. We weren’t interested, instead waiting on nature to take its course.

Around the time we brought you home from the hospital, your brother brought a stethoscope home from daycare. He began proclaiming he had a medical degree and began listing to everyone’s heart beat, immediately delivering bad news across the map, “You’re sssick,” he’d shout with glee.

One night he placed the stethoscope on your chest, then looked up with a puzzled expression on his face. He slowly cocked his head back, then quickly thrust it forward, delivering a devastating head butt to your dome. You instantly burst into tear-less hysterics.

Nearly four months later, as we does every night, your brother emerged from the bathtub and put on his bear towel (a brown towel with a hood and ears). Then, as is his routine, he instructs whichever parent who gave him the bath that he would like to go scare the other parent by growling like a bear. On this particular night I was holding you on the couch feeding you a bottle, when your mom and Arlo walked into the room. 

“RRAAAAARRRRRR,” called out your brother, in an especially loud growl.

You instantly started wailing, and as I stood up to cuddle and comfort you, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before—a tear, rolling down your cheek. The next morning, your goopy eye was gone.

A few nights ago, the doctor came to see you again. He held his pretend stethoscope to your chest, and with a sheepish grin, he said, “She’s healthy.” Then he added, “I love Elliott.”

What can I say, modern medicine is amazing.




Defining Love

19 Jan

Hey Boo Boo,

Lately you’ve become so inquisitive about vocabulary. Usually you sit and listen as we go through our bedtime ritual of reading a pile of books, stopping us only to comment on things you see on the page, or to chime in with all of the lines you have memorized. But in the last few weeks, every time you pipe in, it’s only to ask what each and every word means.

Although this new hobby of yours is most prevalent at bedtime, you’ve also begun to stop people in mid sentence to clarify what a particular word means. Just the other morning, on our way to big-kid school, I was singing you songs, as usual, when you stopped me.
“Daddy, what’s ‘hurrah’ mean.”
“It means, ‘yeah!’ Or ‘I’m excited,’ or ‘this is fun!.’

You seemed satisfied with my answer, so I continued on.
“The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah…”

“Daddy, what’s ‘marching’ mean?”

“It means they’re all walking together in a nice line.”

I’ve sung this song to you countless times, but not once have you ever asked what any of those words mean.

Night after night you’ll ask about different words, or ask your mom or me what the other person was just saying. I’ve learned that when you do this, you’re not asking for a repeat of what they just said, but rather an interpretation into words that you understand. “What Dad just say?”

After a summer of going to visit a few farms, you’ve become a bit obsessed with tractors, and somehow full moons were also lumped in this obsession. Anytime someone asks you what you dreamt about, it’s the same answer every time, “Tractors and full moons.” The other morning you asked me what I dreamt about, and I responded, “I dreamt about you and Elliott.”

“No, no, no,” you quickly retorted. “You dreamt about tractors and full moons.”

Since you love full moons so much, I recently took you over to the window before bedtime, to look at a full moon. You got very excited, and then said, “Look, there are two full moons!”
“No, I said, you’re seeing a reflection.”
“What’s ‘reflection’ mean?”
“It means that there’s really only one moon, but you’re seeing it twice… because it’s reflecting off of the glass. I mean, it’s when something can be seen in something else…”

I heard your mom start to laugh at my explanation, from the bottom of the stairs.

“I can’t really explain what ‘reflection’ means. I’m sorry, buddy.”

Laying in bed that night it occurred to me that I’ll never be able to tell you or Elliott what you both mean to me, how much I love you, or how much you changed my life in the best possible way. There are just some things that I’m incapable of articulating… like the meaning of the word “reflection.”



Roadmap for Growth

12 Jan

Hey buddy,

You seem to be putting together a list of things you plan to do when you get big. Or as you would say, “When my get big!”

Here’s your current list of things you plan to do…

“When my get big my…”

• Going to grown a big blue beard.

• Going to drive a digger.

• Going to get a big bike like Daddy.

• Going to pass a beer back and forth with Daddy, and say, ‘Ahhh!’

I have a similar list I’ve been keeping, and I call it, “Things you’ll realize when you get big.”

• You’ll realize that banana is not in every flavor of yogurt. Currently, and for quite some time, banana yogurt has been your favorite. The problem is that it only comes in a six pack, three banana, and three strawberry. In order to get you to eat the strawberry, we have to lie and say that any yellow on the packaging indicates that there are in fact bananas inside. On yogurt packaging without yellow, it can be tough to sell you on the banana myth. 

• You’ll realize it’s okay to eat or drink out of bowls, plates, or cups that are not blue. Currently, if it’s not blue, you don’t want to have anything to do with it.

• You’ll realize that chapstick is meant to be applied to your lips, then placed back in your pocket with the cap on. Currently, you use chapstick to continually trace the lines of your lips and face over and over again. You also take little bites out of it, lose the cap, and then place it in a bin of your toys. The other day your mom gave you a sip of her peppermint tea, and you asked, “Is dat chapstick?” Days later, in your new pretend kitchen that Santa Claus brought you, you handed me a cup and said, “This is permanent tea.” I looked at you, quizzically. “Whassa Mama call it? Permanent tea? Peppermint tea! Dis peppermint tea.”

The last thing on my list, is that when you get big, I hope you’ll realize how much I love you, and what an absolute blast I have being your Dad.

Love you, buddy,



Cats in the cradle

12 Jan

Hello Elliott Mae,

It seems like, in the past few weeks, you’ve finally woken up! When I grab you in the morning, and once your eye’s have had a chance to focus, you give me the biggest smile. You have the most adorable little cheeks and dimples, and now that you’ve learned to smile, it seems to be about the only thing you want to do.

You’ve also begun communicating. You’ll lay on your back and try so hard to talk to us. Your mom says it sounds just like cats fighting, and in reality, that description is pretty accurate.

And while you are so happy and talkative, that is only true when the TV is off. If someone is watching TV, you’ll do acrobatics to position your head so that you can catch a glimpse of the glowing box. On Saturday and Sunday I let your bother watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” You were both sitting on my lap, and when I looked down and you, were staring directly at the TV. I put my hand in front of your eyes to see if you would react, and sure enough, you reached out and tried to pull my hand out of your way. Needless to say, we’re not letting you watch TV, but pretty hilarious that at three months, you have a longer attention span for watching football than Arlo does.

Your other new favorite activity is dancing. We have a book where a little girl dances the Cucamonga with her bear. Arlo wanted to know what the dance looked like, and although I don’t know, I used you to demonstrate, flailing your arms to an imaginary beat. You loved it! Now if we hold your hands, you try your very best to do an Elvis impersonation by standing on the tips of your toes as you swing your hips and flail your arms.

Some days when I get home from work you’re just wrapping up your happy time and ready for a nap. I bundle you up, and nuzzle your head in-between my shoulder and my chin. Often times your mom will tell me, ‘You know you can set her down once she’s asleep?’ Not a chance, I know these long cuddles can’t last forever, so I’m enjoying them while I can! 

I love you so much,




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