Dear Otis- 3.5 years

Dear Otis-

Boy has a lot happened in the last 6 months! I find myself having random moments of pure joy because I cannot imagine you having a personality more perfect for our family. You are a delicious mix of silly, sensitive, and stubborn.

Your attention span has grown by leaps and bounds. You love to sit and work on a puzzle or play games with us. You recently completed a 48 piece Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle puzzle entirely on your own! Favorite games include Yahtzee (kids version), Trouble, and Silly Street. You also continue to build LEGO creations sometimes following the step by step picture instructions.

You love words and are fascinated with letters. You write your name (circle, criss cross, line with a dot, squiggle) and then say “O-T-I-S. That spells Otis.” You point out those 4 letters in books and on signs. You ask us “Is that a letter or a number?” You remember every word you hear and I’m constantly flabbergasted by your vocabulary. “I think I damaged my vehicle Mom.” “Raisins are not appropriate for dogs.”

It was crazy to watch how, over night, counting went from reciting random words to quantifying objects (one to one correspondence for the child development majors out there). It constantly fascinates me to watch your brain grow.

You are not enrolled in pre-school yet because you are still learning so much at daycare. Tio taught you how to put your shoes on by yourself. Tia taught you to chew with your mouth closed. The other day I answered a question of yours with “mm hmm,” and you said “that isn’t good manners Mom. You should say yes please.” When I asked you where you learned that, you said from Tio. Speaking of- your manners are coming along quite nicely. We do have a sticker chart going because there are always things we can get better at. Right now you are working on listening the first time, being patient, and being brave.

Because you are still at Tia’s we decided to enroll you in a big kid class to help you gain confidence and get a little out of your comfort zone. You have soccer class on Sunday mornings and it’s for kids only- no parents on the field. It took 3 classes to get you out there on your own for the full class, but now you go out there no problem and seem to love it.

You also love going to my Baby Boot Camp workouts with me. To be honest, I’m burning the calories while you are chowing down on snacks, but you do join me for lots of the running and the occasional plank or bicep curl. I love that it’s getting us outside and moving in the morning!

You’ve unleashed your artistic side recently. Your dad and I often ask “where’s the camera?” You love to act out various emotions.

You continue to be social. You definitely prefer one on one to large groups. Eli still ranks high thanks to video chat. Ruby is your best bud at daycare. Abby Abby holds a special place in your heart. Ryland, Olivia, and Allie round out your Petaluma crew. And cousin Mateo is your FaceTime buddy.

Your relationship with Lucy leaves me speechless. You “babysit” her while I shower. You make her laugh no matter her mood. And you are so incredibly proud of everything she does. You adore her and the feeling is mutual!

You like to listen to Tom Waits on the record player and read comics with your dad.

You like to snuggle and do art projects with your mom.

You get excited for grandma day on Friday. You were a very energetic Ironman for Halloween.

You were quite the elf in training at Christmas.

Cheetahs are your favorite animal. You hate being barefoot. And show and tell is a highlight of your week. You are an intriguing, inspiring, effervescent boy that I love to pieces!

Love,

Mom

Goodbye Regal Beagle

Oh Lani- I miss you so much already! We didn’t see this coming and it has completely knocked the wind out of me. But rather than sit here lamenting, I want to share your story.

You were found stranded in West Virginia with a litter of pups. You were starving and sick and luckily a rescue organization took you in. When we called the organization about another dog on their website they asked us to foster you. They said that even though you were in a home and being fed you were still starving because you were producing milk for your pups. They needed to separate you from your young so we took you in. You were emaciated, leaking milk, and terrified of all men. You had these sad eyes that looked right into ours. You immediately won our hearts and we decided to keep you. You quickly warmed to Brad and started using the “Lani sad eyes” to get extra treats and tummy rubs. When we left our apartment you’d try to squeeze out the door with us so we had a system of making you sit at the end of the hallway while we opened the door and then throwing you a treat as we exited.

You made the cross country move with us from VA to CA. You really wanted to be in the front seat and enjoyed the scenery of America’s Parks.

You settled into Berkeley quite well. You adored the dirtiness of that city. You’d leap into a bush and reappear with a full loaf of bread or a few chicken wings. It was a scrounging dog’s paradise! You tried to sabotage Brad’s marriage proposal by peeing on the carpet in that abode. He went into our room to get the diamond and came out to find me mopping up your pee. However, propose he did (albeit a few hours later than he planned) and you still made it into our epically classy engagement announcement.

You loved moving to Petaluma because you got your own backyard and the perfect windows for keeping an eye on the place. Sure the feral cats were in charge of the neighborhood, but you took great pleasure in growling at them from your lookout.

You discovered that sunbathing was your most favorite hobby. You were also my constant jogging companion. Walking you has always been hard because you yank and pull and want to sniff every square inch of terrain. However, you understood jogging and you’d keep pace with me and allow me excuses to stop and catch my breath “so you could pee.” I will always treasure our jogging times sweet girl!

You were an amazing “baby” when Brad and I struggled to start our family and the best big sister when we found success. You’ve always been a gentle soul and this made you the perfect candidate for tolerating baby and toddler shenanigans. We never had to worry about you with our kids. They adored you! Here you are with baby Otis-

And with baby Lucy-

You were a saint, putting up with poking and prodding and even taking the brunt of parental angst. When the kids were acting up and then you made a demand, you were the one that got yelled at. We hate that it went down that way, but you took it like it was nothing and we thank you for that.

You loved how much babies sleep and took advantage of the plethora of nap opportunities.

You loved to sniff, run in circles, and bark at the mailman. You made use of every couch, bed, blanket, and pillow in the house. You liked to steal my warm spot in the bed the second I vacated it.

I was not prepared to say goodbye to you today Lani. I would have cuddled with you last night and loaded you up with treats. I would have sent the kids away so I could spend some quality alone time with you. I would have taken you on that walk you’ve begged us for the last 8 months. I didn’t get those chances, and I have to accept that. In a way I am glad that you jumped up on me last night to greet me and then passed quickly this morning. I think your suffering was short. But as I look back on the 11 years you spent with Brad and I, I can’t help but want a bit more time with you. I love you so much Lenny, Lanis, Leonard Moore!!