All posts by beckerina

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!



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!!

Dear Lucy- 8 Months

Dear Lucy-

No need for me to beat around the bush- one of my favorite parts of month 8 was PONYTAILS. I’ve been in training for this all my life (thanks to dolls and a willing little sister). I’m ready to be your personal hair stylist for as long as you’ll tolerate it!

In addition to decorating your hair, I also decorated a room for you this month. Why did it take me until your 8th month to give you a room? Well, I had the delusion that you and Otis would share a room, but with him being a light sleeper and you in need of sleep training (yup- we let you cry), it wasn’t in the cards. Your dad had his doubts about the room sharing plan all along- he was right. It was clear you’d outgrown your bassinet . . .

So we needed to get you into your crib stat. Disassembling and moving furniture down the stairs was not an easy feat for your dad and I to get done with 2 kids underfoot, but we persevered and you are super happy in your crib.

I got a bit crafty and am rather pleased with how your room turned out. I hope you like it Lucy Goose.

Ok more about you, less about me. You are loving toys. You knock down block towers. You shake rattles. And Otis even taught you to clap your toys together.

Speaking of Otis, you two practically have your own special language. His silly noises and faces have you in stitches. He even “babysits” you while I shower (the world’s fastest shower with multiple breaks to check on you). The bond that the two of you have is a constant joy in my life!

This month you had your first trip to the ocean.

You also attended a New Years Eve party. It ended at 7pm, but it still counts.

You also had your first fever. You were a trooper, but it was so hard to go a week without your constant smile. Even listening to dad’s band left you bored and sad.

We were so glad to get your grin back once you were better. That grin and your little cackle are THE BEST!

You’ve now gone a few nights in a row sleeping 7-8 hours straight! No tooth yet, but I feel like it could be any day. You are eating your puréed veggies like a champ. Sitting is your favorite, but you do like to wiggle on your belly and you think it’s super fun when we help you roll over. One of these days you’ll take control and consciously initiate a roll yourself.

Thanks for being such a delight! I love you more than I can even say!


Dear Lucy- 7 Months

Dear Lucy-

This month you have been the most cheerful baby. Sure you fuss when you are hungry or tired (don’t we all?!), but you literally spend every other moment of your day smiling and laughing. You love sitting up and now that you can do it endlessly on your own, you find everything amusing.

The only time you get serious is when you are studying your hand. You can watch that thing forever with serious contemplation. For the majority of the past month I’ve been confused about your hands. You love to watch yourself control them. You love to pull my hair and play with your clothes. But you have been completely uninterested in picking up toys. You have insisted on keeping your hands close to your body. However, on Christmas Day you decided that you will now play with toys. Perfect timing- many of the presents under the tree were for you!

Santa brought you a new bathtub and boy was it a hit!

While I still love to pop you in the ergo from time to time, you now enjoy a good stroller ride. We’ve been bundling up for chilly morning walks.

You’ve become quite curious this month. You often take nursing breaks or fight naps because you want to see what’s going on. You are just sure that you are going to miss something. While this can mess with our “schedule” (good thing we don’t have one :), I love seeing your interest in the world around you. You are learning so much!

Month 7 was a delightful one Lucy Girl! I can’t wait to see what’s up next for you. I love you!


1/12th Elf

For one month out of the year it is socially acceptable for me to indulge in my very favorite hobby- Christmas! You better believe me when I say that I make those 30 days count!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved everything holiday cheer related. Maybe it’s the months of each year that I devote to The Nutcracker. Maybe it’s the memories of enchanting Christmases of my childhood. Or maybe I am just part Elf. The reality is that every fiber of my being loves the tradition and merry making and childlike excitement that the Christmas season brings out of me. And now I get to see the magic through the eyes of my children! There’s no holding me back now!

Picking out the tree

Decorating the House

Gingerbread housing with Aunt Megan and Uncle Toothpaste

Santa’s Riverboat arrival

Visitors in between Nutcracker performances

Holiday outfits!

Gingerbread cookies and a party

And it’s only December 22nd. . . ! Merry Christmas everyone!

Dear Lucy- 6 Months

Dear Lucy-

It’s your half birthday today- the big 6 month mark!! You must have sensed it was coming because yesterday you decided to be a complete show off. In the same day you rolled over (you hadn’t in a while), started sitting up unassisted for minutes at a time, and began to use consonants. I think I hear l, w, d, and g creeping into your babble. Oh and you also decided you love puréed turkey/carrot/apple.

Yup- this month we started giving you solid foods. With the memory of Otis’ 11 day poop strike of 2014 we decided to start you off with prunes. Success on two counts . . . 1. You seemed to like them. 2. You pooped the next morning. Nailed it!

So far you have eaten peas, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, prunes, apples, pears, and peaches. Favorites thus far include mango, turkey, and peanut butter.

You have become quite the social butterfly. At your 6 month doctors visit today Dr. Hensley said “clearly she’s social. She hasn’t taken her eyes off me this whole time.” You also graced him with numerous smiles.

Speaking of social- you already have a best friend. His name is Otis. You think everything he does is funny. He waits on you hand and foot- feeding you and bringing you all of your favorite toys. The bond runs deep already and it completely melts my heart.

As far as toys go, your giraffe popper is by far your favorite. You have started to hold your toys on your own a bit too.

You still love your bouncy chair, but have proven that the seat belt is there for good reason.

Your cackle, I mean laugh, is now a constant sound in our house and is completely contagious. You elicit smiles and giggles from strangers and motivate us to keep you entertained. Mom, Dad, and Otis will do anything to keep you smiling and grinning. Keep it coming sweet girl! We love you so much!



Today was a good day

Last night Brad slept on Otis’ floor after a midnight monster freak out. I slept in our bed listening to Lucy cry intermittently since we are currently refusing her nocturnal desires of eating every 2 hours and sleeping on me. We greeted the day with exhaustion, but luckily showers and coffee managed to revive us and we ended up having an amazing day. Highlights . . .

Brad cooked us up some eggs and bacon. I put my pandora station on Beatles. And we had a lazy morning of LEGO building.

Otis and I had an epic battle of super hero strength.

We survived a children’s’ museum on the Sunday before Halloween. Brad put on a green shirt in a half attempt to be the Hulk or “Hunk” as Otis pronounces it. Te he!

I erupted into a fit of giggles when Brad told Otis “Don’t scratch your butt with your toothbrush.” This was only one of the numerous times today that Brad had me laughing uncontrollably.

I got to see a video of my nephew batting and pitching at an SDSU baseball event.

Lucy and Otis played together on the trampoline.

Brad and Otis built an impressive couch fort.

Lucy and I had an impromptu photo shoot.

Some days this is life.

It’s worth it though because then there are days like today.

Today was a good day. As I sit here writing this I know . . .

I want to remember days like these forever!

Dear Lucy- 5 Months

Dear Lucy-

Well Goose- I’m gonna let the photos do most of the “talking” for this letter. They perfectly capture your delight in life. This month you have been so so happy. Peekaboo sends you into giggle fits as does pretty much anything your brother does. You wear a smile on your face most of the time. You got your first cold and even that didn’t dampen your spirits. You desperately want to sit up and are getting pretty close to doing it unassisted. You are even thinking about sleeping better at night (tough love has resulted in you sleeping in your bed for 3-4 hour stretches).

I absolutely love watching the world through your eyes!!! What a magical place it can be! I love you so much!


Petaluma Proud

It’s been a long two weeks up here in Sonoma County. Our county was on fire. While we in Petaluma were never in clear and present danger, we were close enough to have bags packed and phones with the volume up all night. We were close enough to be surrounded by evacuation shelters. We were close enough to be forced inside with windows shut for two weeks due to horrible air quality.

The devastation is real, and tragic, and heart wrenching. At the same time, the community’s response is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever witnessed. On Monday, October 9th grass roots efforts were all the evacuees had. Red Cross and FEMA weren’t here yet and the shelters were home grown operations supplied mainly by my neighbors. I made two trips to the shelter that Monday and you would have thought the pillows I brought (among other items) were made of pure gold. The residents of Petaluma rallied that day and did their best to take care of the evacuees. Later in the week the institutions took over and the town could have ceased their support, but no- the volunteer effort got stronger and more organized. Facebook pages were created with the purpose of providing minute to minute info about the needs of the time. Shelters didn’t need food or clothes but at any given hour of the day one shelter needed something. One morning a post popped up that the veterans hall shelter needed women’s running shoes, slippers, and flashlights. I thought “I have all 3!” However, the air was horrible and I didn’t want to drag my 4 month old and 3 year old out to breath it. So I posted that I had stuff if anyone could pick it up. I kid you not- within 27 minutes of the original post stating the need, someone had picked up my donations and driven them to the shelter. There were people that volunteered as drivers to pick donations up. Restaurants served free food to evacuees and first responders. Anyone with medical know how took shifts at the evacuation centers. Moms showed up at shelters to play with the displaced kids so their parents could have a moment to call insurance companies and plan their next step. I don’t know a single Petaluma resident who didn’t contribute in some way during this disaster. The community was smart, efficient, and so full of compassion and love! And the community is not done. We are committed to helping our neighbors for the long haul. The Petaluma Mothers Club (that I am a member of) has already collected over $20,000 in $25 gift cards to Target, Safeway, etc. that are being handed out to fire victims on a daily basis. And we are just one of the many organizations that has galvanized in support of these families that lost everything.

Last night I teared up as I watched the younger generation’s community spirit. We went to our favorite restaurant- The Block. Basically it’s a beer garden with a rotating roster of food trucks. It has a family friendly atmosphere complete with small kids play area and has become our home away from home. Eating a food truck taco, sipping a beer, and watching your 3 year old make new friends is our epitome of an excellent Saturday “night” (it’s usually only 5pm). Otis loves it there because every time we are there, without fail, a “big” kid or two offer to play with him. Last night it was an 8 year old girl who absolutely made Otis’ night. She built herself a chair out of wooden blocks and then noticed Otis watching her. She knelt down and said “do you want me to build you a chair?” When I thanked her for building him a chair she said “that’s ok. I’m really good at making chairs and I don’t really have anything else to do right now.” Ha ha!

For the next hour we watched this 8 year old and our 3 year old play tag and all sorts of games. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Otis smile so big. There’s something about seeing older kids take him under their wing that makes me ridiculously happy.

This town has always seemed special to me. When we moved in 8 years ago a neighbor brought us a sweet potato pie! When you go on a walk everyone you pass says hello. Kindness permeates this place I call home. I am truly proud to be a member of this community and love watching my kids join it!

If you’d like to make a contribution to the fire victims here are two ways I’d recommend:

1. Email a $25 gift card (target, Safeway, chevron, etc) to service@petalumamothersclub or mail a gift card to PMC P.O. Box 521 Petaluma, CA 94953. Please include your first and last name so we can thank you. These cards are being handed out by Petaluma People Services who is working hard to match homeless fire victims with families who have extra rooms in their house.

2. Buy a Petaluma Proud shirt here Proceeds are going to Petaluma People Services