To My Leo (written on his first birthday).

You are one whole entire year old. I seriously can't believe you've grown so fast. People warned that with you being the second born (especially so close in age to your brother) that the time would fly. I didn't want to believe them but they were right. 

You add so much to our wolf pack, pooks. You are strong. I have a feeling that you're going to have quite a few people looking up to that strength one day. And though it's true, you can push almost any heavy object clear across the living room while mama is begging you not to, its more of what's on the inside that leaves me in awe some times. You don't give up. You laugh at the idea of not being able to get what you want and you've been that way since you were born. We watch you lock into things and the determination you have until you do whatever you set your mind to is inspirational for me, for sure. I hope that when you're older I can say that you've always tackled life the same way. 

You are so kind and mama just started tearing up a little bit just thinking about it. You laugh and there's not a single person who can stop smiling. You lean in and reach for people when they need it most. And while I'm sure some could argue that you're just a baby with needs of his own, I'm pretty certain you know how and when to lean into the needs of others. Mama for sure has had a rough day (or few) this past year and I can always count on you to snuggle up with me and hold me close. I pray that as you grow, you never forget to be there for others. The world needs someone exactly like you. 

You have won your brother's heart. And although his friend Duke is his "best friend" now (seriously, I think the three of you are becoming more like brothers), he would walk ten thousand miles to be by your side. He's fiercely protective and my hope is you will be the same way of him.

Though you love mommy, daddy, Dean, and all of your other family members, Pop Pop (my dad) is your man. And I don't blame you because I'm pretty obsessed with him too. He lives with us now and I'm sure more time that not since he's been here you have been in his arms. In fact, I just went in your room to take a picture of your last sleep as a baby and you weren't there. You're down with Pop Pop in his room, go figure! I'll take it tomorrow and we'll just pretend I took it last night, okay?

Did I mention how independent you are? This isn't mama's favorite thing as telling you 'no' all day can be exhausting but there's nothing like someone who can do for themselves and while your family will always have your back (forever) it is kind of cool to watch you set your own pace sometimes. 

Some fun facts: 

+ You still only have two teeth.

+ You talk a lot but haven't really got the words part down yet. You say dada but not consistently but you can say RAWR at all the right times (we've got a dinosaur obsessed big brother to thank for that).

+ You love to dance and if mama makes up a song (which I do allll the time), you are happy to dance along as if I just dropped the hit of the summer (which right now include Despacito, Wild Thoughts, Humble, and Something Like This).

+ You haven't met a food you didn't like yet but I would say your dad's spaghetti is your favorite.

+ You are the WORST sleeper. You have been sleeping through the night since about 2 months but on the off chance you wake up and need to sleep with us, you are horrible, haha! You move constantly and mama or daddy could wake up with a concussion from all the head butting and kicking in every direction.

+ You love going to church because their are about six women that take turns cuddling you. 

We really do love you Leo. You are better than anything we could have ever prayed for. Happy first year!

Dean, Age 2.5 years.

In our house we have decided that even though Dean looks a lot more like Mike than he does me, his personality is alllll me. He is kind to a fault. Leo can literally hit him with a toy and Dean will still be the one to apologize. His current obsessions are emergency vehicles, a $3 lion from Target (and real ones at the zoo), his iPad, and chicken nuggets. Speaking of which, his nickname of Nugget no longer sticks.  We switched daycares a year ago and it pretty much died in transition and he now mainly answers to: Dean, Dean Dean, Dean the Bean, Bub, Buddy, Poops, and if I'm being honest "Leo! No.. Wait, Mike! ... No, Dean!". 

20170819_977A4952.jpg

Dean Says:

Me: Moving slow at 6:28am to turn on the song he just requested. Dean: You tired mommy? Are you tired? *In his very concerned voice. Future Dean, mommy is always tired. Just assume if you and your brother are up or just fell asleep, I need a nap. 

Dean: *Smashes finger on something while we weren't looking right at him* Mommy! Hurt finger. Pray it! This especially warmed my heart because we have formed the habit of praying over boo boo's when they get hurt. It's always nice when you get those confirmations that things are really sinking in on their level :)

Dean: *Gets super excited about a fire truck that just passed by* Me: What is the fire truck going to do? Dean: Save a kitty. Kitty is in the tree! When ambulances go by he says that they are going to save people. Sorry fire fighters, apparently only paramedics save lives in his 2 year old version of reality. 

Me: I love you Buddy. Dean: Yuvh Yew Tew Mommy. Me: How much? Dean: BIG.

20170819_977A4979.jpg

Other notable things worth mentioning:

  • He's SUPER talkative. Like, it's non stop. 
  • He can count to 10. 
  • He can sing ABC's.
  • Like Imagine Dragons, Believer. 
  • Is very in tune to other peoples emotions and will tell you if they are sad or happy. 
  • Loves watching Dino Dan and can name about 8 different dinosaurs. 
  • Loves chocolate chips. 
  • He picks what he wants to watch in the morning when Mike wakes him up. His favorites are Dino Dan, Fireman Sam, Dinosaur Train.
  • Will randomly ask for Gigi and then expects you to call her. 
  • Gives Grammy good kisses over Facetime. 
20171028_977A7336.jpg
akiaandco_Kayce1017_6871.jpg
20170616_977A5545.jpg
20170627_977A6015.jpg

One Month w/ Leo.

Y'all this happened way too fast and quite honestly, I'm going to have to change my approach on writing these because the months truly do fly by. With Dean, the weekly posts were way too daunting so I think I'm going to do monthly updates on Leo and if you want to see what's going on in real time, you can follow along on Instagram (@akiarene)! 

What this month has taught me: Being a mama of two is amazing. It comes with it's challenges (namely a teething toddler) but wow, the blessings are plenty. One thing that bothered me while I was pregnant were people's reactions when we told then we had a 15 month old as well. Most often their responses were "Uh! Why so close together.. It's going to be soooo hard... No really, two is tough.. You're not going to know what hit you". While I know that people share their advice based on experience, I really wish I would have just told those people to shove it. In the nicest way possible of course, but in all honesty the last thing you want when trying to soak in a new baby are people's looming expectations. I found myself almost waiting for stuff to hit the fan when in truth, I have a great support system. Mike got paternity leave, his mom came to visit, my mom is always around to help, and Dean is in daycare during the week so they transition to two went pretty smoothly. So if you are about to welcome a new babe choose to look forward to all the amazing moments to come instead!

Milestones: I mean, babies don't really do much. He's sleeping through the night as long as he's got a bottle around 10pm to get him through (co-sleeping), getting some breastmilk (pumping), smiling, hates his pacifier, is gaining weight well, enjoying bubble baths, and is not a fan of his car seat.

Also worth a note, like with Dean's weekly updates, we chose to get him a Big Stuffed friend to measure his growth. It's a manatee and you'll be seeing him regularly!

 Week One. 

Week One. 

 Week Two.

Week Two.

 Week Three. 

Week Three. 

 Week Four. 

Week Four. 

 Week Four in his  Swanky Shank Monthly Onesie .

Week Four in his Swanky Shank Monthly Onesie.

Dear Leo.

Since I didn't write you any letters and have definitely felt guilty for it, I figured I should definitely document how you made it into this world. If we were to take your story all the way back to the beginning, it all started with a bit of a surprise. 

Your dad and I knew we wanted to have two babies pretty close together. Our plan was to start trying again in December but being the schemer that I am, I started to think how much cooler it would be if I could surprise him with the news at Christmas. I mean, there isn't a better gift than another baby, right? So I consulted my girls (your aunts Vanessa, Tierra, and Ryan) and we all concluded that it was a great idea... if I could pull it off. I waited for your dad to make a day work trip and then off I went to get my IUD taken out. My doctor told me not to get my hopes up. That it could take a while to get pregnant after you come off that type of birth control. 

It literally took a month. When your dad was playing with Dean, I would be as stealthy as I could to take a test. I hid pregnancy test boxes all the places I knew he'd never look (if you need to hide something for him, underneath the bookshelf is your best bet). Once I got the positive I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it to myself. Your aunts were the only ones to know and then I couldn't take it anymore. So much for making it to Christmas. I put the positive test in a little bag that I keep pens in and then I made my way downstairs where your dad had a sleeping Dean in his arms. I handed him the bag and asked if he could get one of the pens for me. It took a few pulls out of the bag before he got to the test. Holding your big brother, he started to cry happy tears. Then we stood there holding each other and crying as he tried to put together the pieces of how I could possibly even be pregnant so I filled him in on my little scheme. We were both overjoyed. 

Your time in my belly went so much faster than your brothers, probably because we were busy chasing him around. It was no less special though. You and I would still have our quiet time where I would sing you songs and tell you all the things I was feeling. I'm not sure why in my head I feel like mama's and the baby they are carrying have telepathic powers but I swear I felt like you were listening without even having to say a word. I felt more confident this time around. More secure. 

Well the weeks and the months flew by and we were left staring the week of your due date in the eyes. I was over being pregnant at this point. I loved our time together, but I was tired of the aching and peeing 100 times a night. I just wanted to meet you. On July 29th we suspected that your time was coming soon. The night before, I felt contractions all through the night but didn't bother waking up your dad to get his hopes up, your brother was a whole week late after all. The next morning I casually mentioned to him that I thought we were getting close. We counted contractions through the entire day. The contractions were getting stronger but weren't extremely consistent until your dad went to get your brother from daycare. They were about a minute long and 8 minutes apart when they made it back to the house so we called your Gigi to come get your brother, just in case. 

By the time she arrived they were 7ish minutes apart. We agreed that since we live a little further from the hospital (and it was rush hour) that I would go ahead and call my doctor and tell him they were 5 minutes apart. He told us to come on in. Oh. Crap. This is happening. We packed Dean in the car to head to Gigi's house and I cried. Not that I was sad about bringing you home but this was my last day, hours even, of just having your big brother as my only baby. Your dad held me for a while and then we got back to loading up the car and headed on our way. 

We got to the hospital at 7:30pm. From the beginning, it wasn't how I remembered before. We went into a little office to register and then they sat me in the lobby to wait for my room to be ready. It felt like forever. By this time I had stopped timing the contractions because they were 5 minutes apart, for sure, and they hurt way too much to keep fiddling with that stupid app. I swear we sat in the lobby for an hour (it was at least 30 minutes) before we got to our room. 

The nurse came in to check how far along I was and then the disappointment set in. 1 1/2cm. An entire 8 1/2cm to go. By now, it's around 9pm and I'm thinking it's going to be a while before I make any real progress but dammit, this really hurts. We talk with the nurse and because we figure have so much further to go, we'll save the epidural for later but try some other pain medications in the meantime to try and alleviate some of the pain now. Long story short, one shot in each butt cheek, some pills, and a bunch of hot packs later nothing is helping and the pain is getting worse. I wasn't stalking the clock (it seems not to move when you are going through contractions) but now it's around 11pm. The nurse checks again and boom. 8cm. What. The. Heck. No wonder this hurts so bad. 

At this point everyone is in a frenzy. I'm screaming to Mike that I don't want to have this baby naturally, cause.. ouch! The nurse is frantic because they anesthesiologist is tied up with other patients and there are whispers going around that an epidural just might not happen. Enter my doctor who is as happy and calm as if none of this is happening around him and about 8 other people. It was a packed house. Finally the anesthesiologist enters and my doctor lets me know that I can get it but he's not sure how much it will help at this point. And while I've done most of the hard work already (we were ready to push pretty much) I wanted any relief possible even if it didn't kick in until the week after. I just wanted the drugs! The hardest thing I've ever done in my life, is get an epidural while trying to hold in a baby that clearly wants to come out. And as hard as it was and as much as I wouldn't choose to go natural again, I'm in awe of how our bodies are made to perform miracles. I got the epidural, took a breath for 2 minutes, pushed about four times (they said you could have come on the first push but the nurses weren't ready), and there you were. Painfully broad shoulders and all. 

12:11am, July 30th, 2016. You are here. Every single pain, worth it. Every time I had to get up to pee in the middle of the night, forgiven. You are calm and sweet and everything I prayed for. Your dad was my rock in getting you here. I can't wait for you and your brother to fully experience this extents that he will go to for your happiness and well being. Bunny, I would have split in two if you weren't by my side. 

 The first time your big brother saw you. I am not sure if another moment will ever be as sweet as this one was!

The first time your big brother saw you. I am not sure if another moment will ever be as sweet as this one was!

Your brother, Gigi, Grandpa Gregg, Granny, Papa, and aunts (aforementioned) were all there is the next few days to meet you. They agree you're perfect. You were love at first sight for all of us but your big brother in particular has claimed you for his own.

 This is a daily occurrence now. He can not get enough of his  Yee-Yoh .

This is a daily occurrence now. He can not get enough of his Yee-Yoh.

Dear Leo, Welcome to the wolf pack.

Dear Baby: April 20th.

I haven't wrote you a letter since you've been with us but today seemed like a day that I just couldn't let pass without saying hi. You are one today, Nug. I've said that sentence over and over for the last few days, even weeks, trying to grasp my mind around how I could possibly have a one year old and it didn't hit me until last night.

Your dad and I had just put you down for the night. We crept back into your room to take one last picture as you slept (yes, I had to) to document your last night as our infant. We got in and out without waking you up and when we got back in bed I started laughing about how I hadn't cried yet and then there the tears were. I knew it would hit me eventually. 

I promise you baby boy that they were tears of joy. Tears of gratefulness that God has brought you (and your daddy and I) this far. You are amazing. You are dancing and feeding yourself now. You are getting more comfortable with the idea of walking but haven't decided to commit to it just yet. You still seem to find your way into our bed every morning and you don't know it yet but you'll be sharing that space with a little brother soon. You are the light for so many around you and you have brought our whole entire family closer together while doing nothing else but being yourself. 

As you've grown your personality is starting to take shape and I can see all the things I prayed for while I carried you coming to fruition. You are strong and determined but are also the sweetest boy I've ever met. You have also molded this mama into a more patient and confident wife, daughter, sister, and friend. We are all so much better with you around and I know that you will continue to have this effect on our lives. 

Nug, we love you more than you can imagine. Thanks for being the one to make two lovers a mom and dad for the first time. Thanks for being the laughter in a room when we don't feel like smiling. Thanks for being my baby boy. 

PS: Seeing him at one week vs fifty two... too much for this mama to handle. I'm off to cry in a corner some where!

hey, leo!

Mike, Dean, and I recently announced that Nug will be getting a baby brother in August! A huge thank you to everyone who the time to congratulate us! We are seriously so excited to add another boy to the mix and I am super proud to be the main lady in a house of men to adore me, just saying. I have a feeling Leo Thomas is going to be a lot like mama (full of energy at most times) and may not really take on Mike and Nug's sweet calm demeanor but that's the fun in it, right? Waiting to see who this tiny little person will become. 

Last weekend, one of my best friends, Lindsey, and her husband Dan of Electric Lime Studios came down to spend some time with us and meet Nug. We thought it would be the perfect time to shoot our announcement photos which turned out amazing. Even though, I totally had to push my belly out in all of these pictures. I'm a slow grower and not much of a shower but baby is now 20 weeks and it's going very well so far! A few of my favorites are below.

Six Months With Nugget.

In true mama fashion, this post is about a month late because nugget is 7 months old this week! If you follow along on Instagram or are a Facebook friend you know that the last few months have been a pretty amazing time with him. He's got his first tooth, he's scooting (backwards. why must babies always go backwards first?!), eating food like a champ, and is still very much our super happy baby. But, we have also been battling a never ending circle of colds, ear infections, and respiratory issues that all run in the family (so he's got it honest). We've been at the doctor what feels like two times a month since his three month check up. Why we really love him though, is because no matter how crappy he surely has to feel (and shows on a few tiny occasions) he is still our bundle of energy. We've got some appointments set with specialists in the coming weeks so please send good vibes our way that we can get this sorted before winter gets here and makes things really crazy! 

Now the fun part where I dump all the pictures I've been hoarding! And uh, holy crap it's been 10 weeks since the last weekly Dean update (which is going to be monthly now, because obviously)! If you see me in Target you're allowed to scowl at me for keeping him from you!

 week 19

week 19

 week 20

week 20

 week 21

week 21

 week 22

week 22

 week 23

week 23

 week 24

week 24

 week 25

week 25

 week 26

week 26

 week 27

week 27

Dad's favorite thing: When he goes to grab nugget in the morning or when he wakes up in the middle of the night and he just smiles back up at him.

Mom's favorite thing: Singing and dancing for him and watching him giggle and try to dance along. He's heard and seen choreography (made up by me of course) everything from The Thong Song to This Little Light of Mine.

Nugget also: Sits up like a pro. Has one tooth with another on the way. Starting rolling over. Laughs as soon as we pick him up from daycare. Is a pro at taking his weekly photo. Sat in the restaurant high chair for the first time. Loves to eat. Is holding his own bottle. Has found his toes. Is looking like mom's twin!