Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Blogger Haiku

Summer is busy
Can't keep up with blogging it
Here are some pictures

(thanks for checking in
hope you're scrolling at the pool
grab a popsicle).
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What a trip

They say there's no such thing as a vacation with kids. Well, do you know who they are? Me. I am they. And hear me say to you: there's no such thing as a vacation with kids. 
We just got back from 4 days in Philly, and while I would call it many things (a trip, a visit, a whirlwind adventure!) a "vacation" would not be one of them. Because though it was actually quite lovely (in times...) I'm fairly certain people sleep on vacations, so by that criterion alone, our weekend was disqualified. (I would argue that the true hallmarks of a vacation are returning tan, fat and happy...maybe even with a bead or two in your hair...but that seemed like an impossible dream at this point, so I was willing to set the bar low:  I would have settled for just fat. But alas, my kids wouldn't even let me hit the breakfast buffet in peace...)

So no. This weekend was most definitely not a vacation. But it was a trip. 

As with most endeavors these days- there was good, there was bad, and there was ugly. Sometimes all of them within a matter of minutes. There were points when I contemplated, seriously contemplated leaving at least one of the (screaming) children on the side of the road. But somehow, mercifully, there were just as many moments when I wanted to stop time and bottle up their exact essence right now because they're each just too perfect (and funny, and adorable) to comprehend. And then they'd scream some more and I'd be back to my plan of leaving them at the nearest service station to fend for themselves. You know. Just til they're 18 or so. (Don't worry...I'd never actually abandon my children. And if I did, it'd be at one of the really nice rest stops with an Auntie Ann's. I'm not a monster.) 

Traveling with kids is memory making on warp's highs and lows jammed back-to-back too fast to make much sense of them. You're laughing and crying, and yelling, and hugging, and when it's all over you look at each other and promise you'll never do this again, simultaneously knowing you absolutely will. It is yin and yang. Bitter and oh so sweet. 
Catching chicken nugget throw-up in a towel, confirming our suspicions that yes, Fin does indeed get carsick. 

Glimpsing in the rear view mirror to see sisters sharing their toys and helping calm down their baby brother. (and maaaaaaybe taking a Dramamine induced nap).
Turning a 4.5 hour trip into 6, due primarily to the longest rest-stop lunch in history, inclusive of one water bottle related tantrum, and no less than four separate bathroom trips. 

Catching up with old friends, chatting, laughing, and staying up way past our old-lady bedtimes. 
"Sleeping" sandwiched between two little bodies, striving to keep everyone quiet enough to avoid waking the baby before the sunrise. 

Organizing glee-filled races to press the "excavator!" button (again, and again).

Nursing a sick baby at 2pm, while my lunch sits juuuuuust out of reach. 

Getting snotty, but heart meltingly sweet snuggles from the fever-stricken baby. 
Seeing the clock strike 11pm, and 2am, and 6am (and maybe a couple hours in between).

Watching Piper swim a lap around the entire pool by herself (with a little help from her floaties). 
Running out of discipline options at bedtime, putting Fin in the bathroom for (yet another) time out. 

Laying next to her afterwards to try to talk about being a better listener, and having her rub my arm with her jelly's ears as a silent form of apology.
Packing everything we could possibly need for an day spent a family's house, and realizing we didn't 
bring a pack and play for naps, and oh...we're also out of diapers.

Watching Dustin's family embrace the girls and seeing them play with their cousins like they've known them forever. 
Accidentally bringing up religion and politics, in one very ill-conceived attempt at conversation.

Holding hands with the girls after a long day, telling them, "I love you little people.", and hearing Fin, with all the sincerity in the world reply, "I love you too, Mom. And you love me. And I love you too."

I could go on forever, highlighting tiny snippets I never want to forget (mismatched flip flops, unbridled enthusiasm over Fruit Loops, searching for duck logos on every hotel surface), and mini-nightmares I'm thankful are already fading from my mind (the whining. oh the whining. SO MUCH whining). This weekend was the full spectrum:  the absolute worst...the holding puke in your hands, strung out to your wit's end with complaining, bleary-eyed exhaustion, worst. And the absolute best...the childlike wonder, heart might burst, memories for a lifetime best.

It wasn't a vacation. But it was a trip
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Monday, June 6, 2016

Little Pip-Speaks: Volume 25

The: The hits just keep comin' edition..

Pip-speak #1: 
Piper: Will you get a towel for my seat? Because I have short sleeve legs.

Pip-speak #2: 
Piper {delaying bedtime. Again. Some more. Always}: Daddy, will you come back up? 
Daddy: No, Piper. It's time for bed. Go back in. I love you.
Piper: But Daddy! I can't tuck myself in. What do you think I am, an adult?!

Pip-speak #3: 
Piper: I got the instruments down. 
Mama: Really? How'd you do that?
Piper: Just carefully. And believing in myself. 

Pip-speak #4: 
Piper: These shoes kinda squeeze my front toe and my back toe. 

Pip-speak #5: 
Mama: Did you know that your ears and your nose never stop growing? 
Piper: Really? 
Mama: Yep. So Daddy's all done growing taller, but when he's old, he'll have big giant ears and a big giant nose. 
Piper: Like Papa! He already has a big nose and ears!

Pip-speak #6: 
Piper: I am running out of all of my patience on Fin.

Pip-speak #7: 
Mama: Are you a baby whisperer? 
Piper: Yeah
Mama: Do you know what that means? 
Piper: Yeah. It means you get babies quiet when they take a bath. 

Pip-speak #8: 
Daddy: Girls, doesn't Mama look pretty today? 
Piper: Yes. And Daddy, you were the handsomest of all the other church boys. 

Pip-speak #9: 
Piper {while driving by Grandpa's office}: Which grandpa works there? Grand pop?
Mama: No. Grandpa. My daddy. 
Piper: Oh. The old one?

Pip-speak #10: 
Piper: Mama, what's on your arm?
Mama: {Freaks out a little}
Piper: Your hand! {hysterical laughter}
Piper: ...Daddy...what's on...
Daddy: Piper, you can't ask again. 
Piper: Yes I can. 

Pip-speak #11: 
Piper {laying down to sleep}: Is it tomorrow yet?

Pip-speak #12: 
Piper {looking at a picture of babies on my phone}: Who's that? 
Mama: It's twins. Aren't they cute?
Piper: Yes. They look very the same to me.

Pip-speak #13: 
Piper: G'mi, how long has it been since I told you I love you? 
G'mi: Wow, don't really know, Piper.
Piper: I think it is long overdue. 

And not to be outdone...we have also have a little(r) sassbucket on our hands:

Finnish #1:
Mama: What are your fish named? 
Piper: Silvie Goldie
Fin: Strawberry whipped cream head 

Finnish #2:
Fin: *Coughs* {pause} That was a bless you. 

Finnish #3:
Fin: {Saying one of Uncle Jeremy's trademark lines}
Mama: Are you Uncle Jeremy?
Fin: No I not!
Mama: You sure? You sound like him. And you look like him!
Fin: No! Uncle Jeremy doesn't have a jelly. 

Finnish #4:
Fin {getting frustrated with one of her toys}: Oh my dangit! 

Finnish #5:
Fin {creating something out of blankets}: That's his head, and that's his body, and that's his bummie. 
Piper: Fin, what are you building?
Fin: Umm
Piper:Is it a sea cow?
Fin: Yes. It is a sea cow. 

Finnish #6:
Piper {upon seeing the playground we took her to}: Aw, there's mulch? I don't like mulch. 
Fin: I will hold your hand, Piper so you don't fall down in the mulch. I promise. I promise, Piper. 

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

One second, all day

I've done a few "day in the life" type posts before, and while they have a very real likelihood of being BOR-ING (at least to anyone who isn't me...and maybe also to me) there's still something I like about recording the minutia of everyday life. It's like a time capsule- the stuff you put in might not be exceptionally valuable or rare, but the passage of time eventually makes even the most ordinary items special. By packaging up the details of our life now and then, maybe I'll preserve a few gems for the future. Because while right now, these days are just days, someday we'll look back at them and say, "those were the days..."

As an extra experiment this time around, I thought it'd be fun to incorporate my newest obsession- one second video. The 1 Second Everyday app has a "freestyle" option, where you can stitch together as many seconds as you want, from whenever you want. So I had some fun taking little snippets of video from sun up to sun down (and then some) to capture the tiny pieces of action that add up to a day; that add up to a life. 
One Second, All Day from Courtney Bowden on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016:

6:39 AM Miller is squawking (quietly. happily.) through the monitor. I pry my eyes open to check the clock, thankful that it's a "reasonable" time. Dustin is traveling for work today, so I'm flying solo with the kiddos. I check the video monitor of the girls, and since everyone's awake, but happy, I laze in bed for a few more minutes cycling through my typical AM app circuit: Calendar, Weather, Mail, Timehop, Instagram, Facebook... Ok, ok, time to get up.

6:52 AM I brush my teeth, put in contacts, and head to the girls' room . I need to feed the baby, so I set the girls up in Piper's bed with their new tablet (we purchased these for "very special occasions", and me getting 10 minutes of peace and quiet obviously qualifies as a very special occasion). They're happy to play a game together for a few minutes and it allows me some time with Miller before the real craziness of the day begins.

6:56 AM Miller is up in earnest now, rolling around with his Jelly dog, babbling away. I lift him out of his crib, soaking up my first snuggle of the day. I nurse him and change his diaper, leaving him in his jammies because they're clean, and I've long since given up impressing anyone at daycare with fancy outfits.

7:12 AM My turn to get dressed. I throw on the outfit I had laid out the night before, which might be the same outfit I've worn for the last two days: a new jumpsuit. It's as comfy as pajamas, but has the added benefit of looking like I actually tried, so basically: it's perfection. I plop Miller on the bathroom floor to play while I quickly do my AM routine. Today I'm rocking 2nd day hair, so it's dry shampoo to the rescue.

7:27 AM We all gather in the girls room to get them dressed. They're not thrilled about getting out of jammies (who is?) but I manage to weasel them into clothes while they argue about what show they want to watch on Netflix. Kids these days.

7:40 AM Miller sits in his bumbo, noming on a waffle while the girls watch Kate and Mim Mim, and I cook eggs. The girls eat their breakfast on what Fin has dubbed the "prick-prick" blanket. Piper eats at least three servings of eggs while Fin rolls around on the floor ignoring her plate entirely, and Miller just mashes things all over his clothes/tray/hair. Typical. I graze, eating half slobbered on leftovers as I get bags packed up for the day- bottles, daycare sheets, my lunch...I'm a mom and a pack mule.

8:02 AM Papa arrives to get the girls. Today is normally a G'mi day, but she's on vacation this week, so he's stepped in as single-grandpa. The kids are thrilled to see him, running to the door to meet him. I scramble to get a few more things done (mostly cleaning eggs off of every surface in a 5ft radius of Miller's high chair) while they all play. There's a near catastrophe when Miller finds an open marker, but I manage to snag it from him before our couch gets any new decorations.

8:22 AM I get Miller in his seat, and give the girls 1,000 goodbye kisses. It's later than I wanted to leave, which is par for the course for....oh...the last 4 years or so. Thankfully, school is out for the Summer, so I can zip through the 4 (yes, FOUR) school zones between our house and daycare, saving myself a few precious minutes.

8:32 AM I pull up to daycare, and breeze in quickly. The difference between dropping off one kid and dropping off three kids is exponential. Plus, Miller's needs are refreshingly easy in comparison- as long as I don't forget his milk, we're good. Days with the girls on the other hand are a flurry of carseat arguments, wardrobe regrets, stuffed animal rescues, and snack negotiations...all set to a Pandora Kids soundtrack, for extra brain-frying power.

8:36 AM I'm in and out quickly, but as I'm pulling away I realize I forgot salad dressing for my lunch. It's pretty solid bet that on any given day I'm going to forget at least one thing...thankfully this is a pretty easy solve. Looks like it's going to be another Jimmy John's day.

9:04 AM I arrive at work, only a couple minutes late...which for the Tuesday after a long weekend, feels like a win. My first meeting of the day starts a little late because someone else felt the AM struggle even more than me today. (at least I'm in good company!) I've got back-to-back meetings for the bulk of the day, which is more common that not, but still always leaves me feeling frazzled. It's hard to split my attention between the mounting pile of emails, and the real-life conversations and conference calls. Often it feels like I don't have time to get any actual work done, because of all the talking about work I have to do.

10:32 AM Time to pump. It's so hard to carve time out of my day (and even harder to stay productive...though three kids later I've gotten pretty decent at typing one handed), but I do my best to prioritize and protect this time. It's always been a labor of love, but is even more so these days, as my supply is dwindling. I'm not sure how much longer I'll make it, but for now I just keep on keepin' on.

10:56 AM  Work work work work work

12:39 PM Our office is organizing a Summer Shape Up competition, so the peer pressure forced me to at least commit to the initial evaluation. I do exactly 12 "girl" pushups, and an embarrassing example of a sit and reach, before allowing the trainer to grab my fat in her specially calibrated claws- all to determine my "real body age" (or something). In 8 weeks we'll be evaluated again...I make no promises regarding my behavior between now and then.

1:02 PM My sub arrives freaky fast, and I eat it shamelessly during a meeting. I got the low-fat chips, so my fitness progress is pretty much off to a perfect start. Then it's more meetings, followed by some meetings. 

2:39 PM Oh, is it time to pump again? Why yes, indeedy.

3:00 PM Work work work work 

4:47 PM I was aiming to leave at 4:30, so I could get to daycare and home for dinner at a reasonable hour, but as is always the case, I'm a solid 15 minutes behind my goal. Tonight is bible study, which means it's a babysitter night for the kids, so I try to get home early enough to get at least a little bit of time with them. I feel slightly guilty about leaving them, even though I know it's for a good reason. I think if I stayed home I'd feel like I "deserved" outings more....

5:27 PM Miller is excited to see me (is there anything better at the end of the day than a baby grinning/sprint-crawling to greet you?) and equally excited to take a long-overdue nap on the way home.

5:41 PM The kids (+ Papa) beat me home, and have Panera waiting for dinner. (I'm supremely spoiled, but also really thankful, so it's ok, right?) Miller is still snoozing in his carseat, so I put him up in his room for a bit while we eat. Hearing about the girls' adventures over dinner is one of my favorite parts of the day (though the conversation is typically broken up by a fair amount of bickering, complaining and mess making). Piper tells me all about her Mickey shaped lunch plate, with STEAK in the EARS, mama!

6:25 PM I clean up a bit, and Fin announces she has to paint her nails. Right NOW. So I send her up to choose a color, while trying to talk up the idea of the sitter doing beauty shop with her (shockingly, she goes for it). I wake Miller up, and nurse him while the girls play/color/argue/stage whisper questions to me (MOM! You wanna read this book? When you're done feedin' Miller? Yeah? OK!), and then feed him some leftover bits of our dinner. He polishes off some avocado, egg, chicken, and a whole container of baby food (something orange...?) The sitter is late, and isn't answering my texts, which means I might have to shake up the plans and make this a traveling circus. Piper gets her shoes on to come with me, just as the sitter arrives, and I panic she's going to have a meltdown about having to stay behind after all. Luckily, she and Fin are excited enough about cupcakes and nail polish that they let me and Miller slip out without any drama.

7:08 PM Small group starts before I even leave, but fortunately it's only a few minutes away, and I already gave them a heads up that there was no way I was going to be on time (as if they needed to be reminded). Dustin's been leading the studies recently, so tonight I'm running the show. We are starting a new series, but I didn't do any prep work, so I just read through the study questions thankful that everyone participates in the discussion. Miller is a wild animal, banging/chewing everything that's not nailed down, but he's in such good spirits that no one can be too mad about the adorable distraction.

8:49 PM The girls are in bed when I get home, but are still awake. I pay the sitter, and then head upstairs to feed Miller one last time. I put him to bed, switching my attention to Fin who needs to be tucked in again (because of course), and Piper who needs a band-aid (because of course). After everyone is finally down, I start my last sweep (literally and figuratively) of the house, corralling some of the day's clutter, running the dishwasher, unpacking and repacking bags for the next day.

9:38 PM I jammie-up, and collapse on the couch to catch up on some of the email I never got to (with a side of social media, and some TV).

10:48 PM Final pump session to bridge the gap between supply and demand (this kid will thank me someday, right?) while I watch Intervention and eat some of the leftover popcorn the girls must have swindled the babysitter into making. I can barely keep my eyes open, but I get sucked into the story of a Irish-dancer turned heroine addict. It's heartbreaking, and ironically addicting to watch.

11:39 PM It's late. Way too late. How does it always get this late? I lay down and within minutes...zzzzzz.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bowdenisms: The Movie

I am an idea person.

Now, I don't say that to brag, oooooooooh, look at how creAtive I am, it's just kind of...a fact. It's how I'm wired. I just...have a lot of ideas. Not all of them are good (OH no no no) but what I may lack in quality sometimes, I make up for in quantity. Partly I was just born this way (seriously, ask my mom about my trademark toddler quip: "I have a better idea") but part of it is also from studying and working in a creative field for so many years. I learned to ideate- taking in information, hearing the thoughts of others, and building, building, building up on them (yes, AND...)  

I've learned that good ideas and bad ideas are all a part of the process. I'm not afraid to throw something wild out there just in case it leads to something awesome. And when it doesn't? Well..they can't all be winners. (a phrase that is high on the list of life mottos these days. See also: Well...can't be good at everything.) Shrug. Shake it off. On to the next.

At this point, Dustin is accustom to the idea factory. No, he doesn't exactly adore the steady stream of could we's, should we's, what if we's, and I've been thinking's that are constantly flying out of my brain and my mouth, but...he sure does humor me. There's a bit of a now what? eye-roll at times, but for the most part, he's gotten on board with the ordeal/adventure that is being married to me.

And while I give Dustin a hard time sometimes for not being 100% behind my creative vision (I am an artist! A tortured soul! No one understands me!) the truth is, a lot of the time, I actually find myself in over my head. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself waist deep in my latest harebrained scheme looking around wondering Who got us into this mess? ( So even when I'm following through on my own (possible) stroke of genius, there's no shortage of second guessing along the way.

And the latest case in point: our recent family photoshoot.

We hadn't gotten pictures taken as a family since Miller was born, so now that he's less of a squishy-lump-of-newborn-scented love (sob!), and more of a movin'-shakin'- chunk-of-mini-man love I thought it was time to immortalize our family in film (again). But this time...I had a crazy idea: What if instead of photos, we did a video?

You know I'm digging video these days, so I thought it'd be super fun to be able to capture some of this wild and crazy season of life, in all of its wild and crazy (jumping/yelling/hugging/crying) glory. And lucky for me- I have a wild and crazy (generous/talented) friend, Mark Batke, who was up for the challenge of shooting us Bowdens. I pitched my idea to him: spending an evening at a park, running around just...being us while he got footage of it all...and he was in.

But then...I started to doubt myself. It didn't help that every time we set aside a date, the weather refused to cooperate (oh Ohio, do I need to teach you what Spring means?) so the anticipation phase was drawn out much more than intended. As I prepped, I started to feel self-conscious about the idea. After all, who does this? Plenty of people have professional pictures taken, but video? Isn't that a little weird? And maybe narcissistic? I told a few people, and got some confused responses (few people = my mom, and Dustin): what would we do with a video? Videography is becoming more and more commonplace at big events like weddings, but just the five of us goofing around with no real purpose? we really need footage of that?

When rain date #3 finally rolled around, I was still questioning my idea. I knew it could be cool, but I still worried that I'd feel/look awkward, and the whole thing would be a giant, embarrassing hassle. But then I remembered...I have three kids four and under. My whole life is a giant, embarrassing hassle. I forced Dustin to pep-talk me into my own idea, with both of us finally agreeing it would be fun. Or maybe terrible, but it would at least at some point be over, so...let's roll. So I piled on the bracelets, Dustin plastered on a smile, and we set out to make movie magic.

Well, spoiler alert: it ended up so not weird. And actually completely awesome.

All told, we spent a little over an hour at the park, just playing and running around, with refreshingly little forced smiling/posing. In fact- I didn't even have to use fruit snack bribery until the last five minutes, and even that was due to being out past bedtime, rather than any frustration with the process. That, my friends, is a win.

Mark was awesome- just completely relaxed and willing to roll with whatever. He's crazy good with video, but this was his first time doing a family shoot, so I warned him he'd likely be splicing together non-stop tantrums. But it was honestly the most painless of any of our photoshoots...I wasn't worried about getting the perfect shot, I didn't have to force anyone to cooperate, or smile, or even look at the camera. There was no wrangling, or lecturing...we just got to be. Us.

We wandered, ran, explored...took emergency potty breaks, got our shoes wet...picked flowers, chased balls...lost our bubbles container, yelled at imaginary sewer alligators...You know, the usual.

I was worried that this idea was silly...that I'd be self-conscious of the process, or critical of the result. But that couldn't have ended up farther for the truth. In the end, Mark created a perfect montage of our family- a silly, simple, happy little snippet, of a silly, simple, happy little family. 

The Bowden Family // Summer 2016 from Mark Batke on Vimeo.

Annnnnnnd tears.

I know I'm biased...but it's kind of amazing, right? I've watched it 1,003 times already, and I for real get a little teary every time. I'm just so thankful to have a keepsake like this- especially of this crazy (crazy good/crazy crazy) time in our lives that goes by entirely too fast (though it sometimes feels just the opposite). I just cherish this video, and am already counting down the days until we get to do it again (I may have roped him into one shoot per season this year...or maybe until the end of time.)

If you're intrigued by the idea too, I seriously can't recommend it enough. Even Dustin, who can bit of a curmudgeon about these things, agreed he would absolutely do it again, even saying he preferred it hands down it to a photoshoot. (though don't kid yourself; I'm still going to force a few of those on him as well. Documentarians gotta document). I told Mark he needed to prepare himself for all the moms calling him wanting a family video, because in my (humble) opinion- this is pretty much the best idea of all time.

Mark- We're so grateful for your vision and your talent, but mostly your friendship. Thanks for showing up, and saying yes...for videoshoots, and in life. 

P.S. More photo/video/general creative awesomeness of Mark's: website // instagram

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Happy 2nd House-iversary!

Today marks the second anniversary of moving into our house. I suppose I could have to baked a cake, or bought something special, but instead we just trekked out in the rain-soaked grass for a (not-so) quick family selfie to mark the occasion. 
(nailed it. As always.)

In so many ways this house is nothing special...but in total it's actually something incredible.

It's more than a crowded garage, a messy basement, and chipping baseboards (though it is most definitely all of that). But it's also more than a picture-perfect view, spacious rooms and what seems like (comparatively speaking) an obscene number of bathrooms. 

In all the good, and the bad, and the just plain ordinary, this house is our safe haven, a spot for our family to grow, play, laugh, and rest. It's an imperfect and lovely backdrop for our imperfect and lovely lives.

I know we may not always live here, but I also know that wherever we may go next, we will always look back on this as the place we were when
...When Fin turned one and we had a giant party on the deck...When we all got the stomach flu at the same time, and lived to tell about it...When Dustin took a risk and decided to be a stay-at-home dad (temporarily anyway)...When Miller was born and we brought him home. 

It's only been two years, but this house has already seen a thousand PBS kids shows, a million tears, a and about a jillion macaroni noodles. I can't imagine what the next year holds for us, but no matter what, I couldn't be more thankful for this place, these people, or this house. 

Happy anniversary, you beautiful chunk of home, you

Oh- and just for giggles...I thought I'd share the video version of this morning's celebration. (Further) proof we should never be vloggers. 

(Bonus: Dustin recites our new family motto: "attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure". Oh how true.)

P.S. Last year's house-iversary.
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Mighty Nine

Nine things I love about these pictures of nine month Miller:
  1. That funny little blonde patch of hair 
  2. Those eyebrows
  3. His two tiny teeth
  4. The dimples at the top of his cheeks
  5. Little baby armpits
  6. His crooked jaw
  7. That perfect nose
  8. The sparkle in his eyes
  9. Who are we kidding? Everything. I love everything. Everything about his face, about his body, about his personality...I'm just madly in love with this little guy. 

If I could add another hour to the day strictly for smooching his face, I would. Actually...if I were in charge, I might add a month to the year, so I could have at least 30 more days of baby cuddles. His big birthday is coming up a little too fast for my liking...Can't we just pause here for a little bit? "One" is ok, but nine is mighty fine. (So for now...and the foreseeable future...I'll be snuggling/devouring his delicious little neck, while trying to memorize every detail of his perfect little face. Man, he's going to be so embarrassed of me someday.) 

Previous months: 1234567, 8.
And if you want to go in the way, way back machine: Fin, and Piper at nine months.
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