Jameson is 9 months old! He has now spent as much time out of the womb as in and -my oh my- has so much developed in that time. He weighs about 17 pounds and comes in at about 27 inches long. Just about average for a boy and just about perfect to us. He is at a stage of almosts…he can almost crawl, almost pull himself up to standing and almost feed himself by picking up food. What can he do you ask? He can sit, scooch around, play on his own very contently and get himself up from belly to sitting. If there’s one thing this boy loves to do, it is EAT! He eats solids 4-5 times a day, plus nursing just as much, and hasn’t met a food he doesn’t like. He says “mmmmm” when he sees his food coming and says it at other times to let us know he’s hungry. He gets so desperate for food, even while eating, that he’ll sometimes cry between each bite because we just aren’t giving it to him fast enough. But all this eating means….
and asleep. Like magic!
He’s sleeping about 11 hours an night, every night. Pure bliss! And lest you think this happens magically, let me assure you that it does not! At about 5 and a half months, he started waking up every 2-3 hours again and I thought, “nuh-uh, I am not going to make it through this again!!!”. I thought about his lack of routine, being the 2nd child and all, while schlepping around to all of Lucia’s activities. So I started paying attention to his rhythms, eating times, nap schedules and then I got a little more routine about it, upped his food and crossed my fingers. Once he was eating more and more, around 6 months, I was confident he didn’t need to eat as much during the night so we helped him on a gentle (not too much crying) sleep training routine. This was aided by him sleeping in his own bed for sure. He did great and now if he hear him wake up for like a one-second cry, he goes right on back to sleep til morn’. Hallelujah!!! He and Lucia share a room which is working out great. He just sleeps right on through her coming in at night and Lucia just sleeps right on through him crying in the morning. Win-win.
Other loves include pat-a-cake, being tickled, swinging at the playground, baths, smacking his lips around his 2 little teeth and his sister. He just lights up when he sees her. When he sees her first thing in the morning, he starts smiling, squealing and kicking his feet. No one can make him laugh like she can.
My favorite thing he does has to be his forehead nuzzling. It seems to be his way of getting close and showing affection. He has this habit of putting his forehead on mine, bracing it on either side with his two hands, then bobbing back and forth, over and over (which hurts but I don’t care!) saying “ahhhhhhh” or turning towards me when I’m holding him to nuzzle into me. He’s such a snugly little boy. My sweet baby. One of my *least favorite things has to be the fervor at which he grabs at my skin like its fabric. Every morning feeding is like a series of skin grabbing and eye gouging that results in tiny claw marks all over me, no matter how many times I cut those nails. He’s a grabby-McGrabberson. But overall, he’s a pretty laid back and content little guy (besides the baby witching hour, of course).
We love you so much, our sweet little Jameson! I’m excited to see your budding personality continue to flourish.
Lucia turned four in March. She is at a glorious age where life is magical and everything is fair game for imaginary play. Shoe boxes become doll beds, kitchen tongs are presents on Christmas morning and even remote controls can become friends and talk to each other.
It has been fun to watch her personality develop this year as she tries new things like school and dance/swim classes. A few things about her have seemed to emerge, or rather solidify, as she buds from a toddler flowering into a little girl. She is social, determined, a rule follower and likes to create order (positive: watches out for others, likes to fix situations going off the rails, negatives: tells others what they’re doing wrong). She likes to work on new skills and is noticeably proud of herself when she works hard to get something right–like a new ballet move. She notices everything, likes to figure out all the hows and whys of life and has a great memory. Sometimes she’ll whip out some random snippet of life from over a year ago that I forgot about and I am always amazed.
Celebration day at school!
Lucia is fiercely independent and wants to do everything herself sometimes even through tears, assuring us that she doesn’t need help. The funny thing is, she really is able to do most things herself and I feel like if we were abducted by aliens and she was left by herself, she would still go through her bedtime routine anyway and take care of Jameson just fine. Speaking of, she is an awesome big sister and a great diaper changing assistant. My favorite sibling moments have been when I’m running around like crazy to get out the door and as I hear Jameson’s screams turn to coos, I round the corner to see Lucia gently rocking his car seat and singing him a lullaby. But that’s her–kind, thoughtful and empathetic. She anticipates needs and takes care of them. Like waiting at the door saying “tell me when you’re ready and I’ll open the door for you”. And she comforts me when I am sad or get hurt with sweet words like”it’s okay Momma” as she pats my back or knee. I just love that girl.
Some of her favorite things are: taking care of her baby doll, playing outside and at the park, going to school, saving up coins to get candy from the dollar store, sleeping with socks on (a must!) and watching her ‘videos’ on YouTube about toys (weird but whatever). Dislikes include: eating dinner that she doesn’t like, being forced to do anything for that matter (but who does like that?) and getting hurt or being left out. She’s still on her way to being pretty tall, topping the charts at 100th percentile for height/weight and her feet are starting to look more and more like my size.
Life is not all daisies and roses with a four year old but overall, she’s a great girl and I just like being with her. She is genuinely great company and makes my life better not just because she is my daughter but because she always watching out for and helping us out. Plus four year olds have the best and most giggly dance parties and wrestling matches:)
Is it just me or does it feel like there is a lot going on in the world? Specifically, a lot of bad going round. I guess there always is and there always will be. We just have so much access to it now that social media brings far away news right into our hot little hand(held devices).
We hear about it all and we hear about it immediately. Which makes it seem like after we recover from one disaster, another one smacks us in the face. Violence, guns, war, decaying environment, poverty, famine, Donald Trump. Never ending. Sometimes bad news feels far away, other times it hits too close to home.
Always the optimist, I’m not ready to write off the human race just yet. Being a member of that human race, I think “what can I do about it?” I mean, really. I’m just one member. What do I have to offer?
Living the solutions through action doesn’t always intersect in real, day-to-day life. But I think it has to. I am a stay at home mom in my real life. I take care of my children, provide enriching activities for them, I am constantly saying ‘no’ to treats and screen time (but also a lot of ‘yes’ too so I can write blog posts and such), doing one million tasks to keep our house together and driving all around town to the grocery store, preschool, parks and other places.
Everyone has their own set of mundane tasks. And that is where life is lived, where motivation is found and inspiration sparks. One of my most cherished compliments came from my sister who said that I find inspiration in everything.
I love that idea: inspiration in everything. Even in the mundane. Inspiration that motivates us to love another better: our families, loved ones, our neighbors and communities. This surely must be one of the answers to the question I am always asking myself “what can I–one human–do to better this place for others?” I believe one of the answers lies local in neighborly love.
Being a stay at home mom means I’m at home a lot. I think about our surrounding neighbors which reminds me of something from a training course about 8 years ago. Before heading abroad to work in Bolivia, I attended a 5 week training course. One of the most inspiring sessions came from the founder of our sending organization. Kevin Dyer was an incredibly warm man in his seventies. He was one of those people whose presence is captivating. I found myself drawn to what he had to say. The thing I remember most was when he talked about the goals him and his wife set when they first got married.
Their goal to positively affect their 20 closest neighbors stuck with me. He said they would make a point to get to know their neighbors, find our their likes and dislikes and ways to help them out. For some this meant going to NASCAR to better understand one neighbor’s love for it, for others it meant babysitting their kids from time to time. I was struck by the kindness Kevin and his wife fostered in their community. They didn’t just sit around hoping to see good surrounding them. They became the good and it was infectious. It certainly inspired me.
This past December we had been living in our neighborhood for about 9 months but still had many neighbors to meet. Besides our wonderful backyard neighbors, most everyone tends to stick to themselves. There are many Portland neighborhoods with well established relationships and greeting committees and such, we just don’t happen to live in one. So my daughter and I made some chocolate covered pretzels, put them in 15 little bags with a note including our names and address for future reference and set out on Lucia Day to deliver them.
Lucia Day celebrates bringing light into one of the darkest days of the year by remembering Saint Lucia, a young Christian martyr from the first century who, among other things, was known for wanting to give her money away to the poor. Lucia–also being my 3 year old daughter’s name, got me thinking that this year might be the one to start a new family tradition of bringing light to others on that dark day in the form of chocolate. Who doesn’t like chocolate? And cute kids delivering it to your door?
We set out into the night with our treats and smiles and it was wonderful. We met many neighbors and were so warmly greeted. We found connections and received invitations to come back. Some were confused (so, what, you’re just giving this to me for nothing?) Some were appreciative to meet new faces on the street and one neighbor, newly widowed, invited us into her living room for a chat where she shared her struggle to be without her husband. She told us some history of our neighborhood, expressed how she loved having neighbors show up at each others’ doors and gave Lucia a candy cane as she helped put her gloves back on before heading back out.
I came home that night, my heart glowing from new community formed and thankfulness for our little pocket of diversity amidst a city known for it’s homogeneously white population. And I realized that some things in life still are simple. Knock on people’s doors and you make new friends.
And THEN how surprised we were to return from a two week trip to Chicago over the holidays greeted by multiple gifts from neighbors waiting for us at our door. There were some books for our kids and yummy baked goods but the best gift was this:
One neighbor left us crystals and rose quartz intended to bring natural healing and positive energy. So ‘Portland’–love it. Then with one of the gifts there was a note referencing that night in December:
“Elsa- it was really nice to meet you and I have to admit I was really taken back by your bright and positive visit. I love chocolate and pretzels. Thank you. They were gone in just minutes. You made my day!” The ending invitation to BBQ together this summer made me excited to get to know our neighbors. More than that, I am glad that we are creating a positive community together.
Then there’s this website Rooster that will just about restore your faith in humanity. They are a “local sharing community where neighbors share free resources”. Rooster writes that the “benefits of such a community are immense: from reducing our waste and our spending, to getting to know our neighbors, and spreading acts of kindness around us.” They state that “everything on Rooster is done for free without expectation of pay or reciprocity. We’re neighbors being neighbors again.” So beautiful.
People exchange goods, skills or acts of kindness. There is one post from an experienced gardener offering their skills to any newbies out there and another post from someone with exotic animal experience offering to care for pet birds to anyone going out of town for the holidays. People in need request help by way of items or needed food and others respond to meet needs. I was almost in tears reading a request from a woman asking to join a family for Christmas dinner now that her kids have grown and moved away and she finds herself with no family close by. Then I think I did actually shed a tear seeing that the request was “resolved”, knowing that some kind person took in and she did not spend the holidays alone.
We find these supportive communities all around us. I see people taking care of each other in awesome ways in each group we find ourselves in here in Portland. For my family, our church is another place where we find authentic community and neighborly love happening. We show up, we care for each other and we work together to take care of others, specifically those who are vulnerable in some way. Sometimes we’re the vulnerable ones. Church happens in large groups and small groups, in buildings and in each others’ homes. It even happens in restaurants and bars because church happens where life happens, on Sunday mornings but also on Saturday nights.
We include all to join in because it’s the right thing to do and because Jesus led the way in showing us all how to do this whole love thing. He even said that loving your neighbor as yourself was one of the most important things to practice. Then when asked “who is my neighbor”, he turned that question around with the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10) to ask instead “well, are you neighborly?” And so now I am pondering this question myself.
I write out these words to keep myself accountable. I haven’t always been the best neighbor in the past. Not the worst but I haven’t always taken much initiative. In fact, I used to get down right angry when people in Bolivia would knock on our door, which was ALL THE TIME. It was a cultural thing. I also wasn’t doing very well mentally or emotionally at that point. Looking back, maybe I should have let them in.
While my natural inclination is to stay in my warm little house and keep to myself, I will go out into the community. I will be one small positive part of the solution. But I think I’ll have to brainstorm new ways to connect because showing up on people’s doorstep over and over might come across a little creepy after awhile. So I’ll get creative. Can you imagine if we all committed to positively affected the 20 people living closest to us? I think it would be amazingly transformative.
Less of a recipe, more of just a good idea. Do yourself a favor–pick up some naan and make a pizza out of it. Naan, pita or flatbread make for an easy pizza crust alternative when I don’t feel like making or buying dough. You can top it with any pizza ingredients but I love this combination of white sauce, caramelized onions, potatoes and goat cheese. Not the best pictures but you get the idea:
No need to prep the naan. Just unwrap and load up with toppings. For this version I start with a smear of store bought or homemade alfredo/cream sauce on bottom then time for the potatoes. I thinly slice a few yukon gold or red potatoes, drop them in boiling water for about 5 minutes to soften, remove from water and let dry on a paper towel lined baking sheet.
After topping the sauce generously with potato slices, sprinkle on caramelized onions. I like to slice up one white onion, place in cast iron pan on medium, add salt and a splash of balsamic vinegar, stir and cook on medium til sizzling then turn down to low and saute for about half an hour, stirring after about 15 minutes then one or two more times. Low, slow and minimally disturbed during cooking makes for some good caramelization.
After onions, dot with splotches of goat cheese and finish with a generous sprinkling of shredded mozzarella. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees or until cheese gets melty and bubbly. Yum yum yum!
He is growing fast and doing well. We’ll find out just how much he has grown at his doctor’s appointment next week. He is a very content little guy. Happy to play and be held by everyone (no mama clinginess yet). He seems to be very social already, making great eye contact and smiling wide to all. And just so squish-able, kiss-able, round and cuddly. What a great stage to enjoy.
Ah, the swaddle days. They feel so long gone.
Jameson’s first flight! (to Austin for Jaime & Ryan’s wedding)
Getting comfty hanging out on his tummy
Turkey suit on turkey day
Hanging with Daddy
He likes to sit up (almost on his own), play with toys, roll over, suck his fingers, loudly squeal while playing, take baths and be tickled under his neck. He can swing in a baby swing, sit in a high chair, stroller and almost a shopping cart.
Lots of cousin attention this Christmas!
Sonja and Jameson
Jameson’s first Christmas!
Loves those fingers
Brother and sister time
He has been eating rice cereal and fruit the last few weeks and loves it. Next up–veggies. Feeding him can be difficult as he likes to guide each bite into his mouth then grip that spoon with all his might until I pry it out of his little fingers for the next bite, happily squealing and screaming the whole time. We’re exited for all the new foods he will soon try! It seems like he will be a great eater and I hope so because he already gets veeery distracted when nursing. If something else is going on around him, he just wants to be a part of it.
First swing ride!
Just getting into jumping
Lucia takes such good care of her brother
First time eating fruit- that face!
He has become a more consistent sleeper so we get much longer stretches ourselves. Once he started rolling over, around Christmastime, we stopped swaddling him and now he sleeps best when he flips over on his tummy. He is still in a pack n play in our room but is almost ready to sleep in his own crib and share a room with his sister!
First time in a high chair this week! Naturally it was at a sushi place where you grab what you want off a moving conveyor belt–perfect.
Happy little guy. He can almost sit up on his own.
We are so in love with our sweet little Jameson! No complaints yet:)
Risotto is just the perfect little dish: easy, feeds a crowd, simple ingredients, delicious, warm and more impressive looking than it is to make. Some might think it’s a tedious task adding liquid one ladle at a time, resulting in half an hour of stirring but I think it’s another positive. Get your mindfulness on and get to stirring! I like to make a half recipe of a Giada one but once you get the method down, you can make it your own with favorite veggies or other ingredients.
Celebrating the holidays in Portland at the Grotto. The lights, the music, the petting zoo! Even Jameson was sqealing around those cute baby animals.
Then it was onto Chicago. It was great to be back at WCC at the Christmas Eve service.
Jameson got bored I guess and fell asleep.
All the Wallgren cousins together on Christmas Eve!
The best photo I could get of our family on Christmas Eve.
Sonja loved to hold Jameson
Great grandpa and J
Then it was off to sleep (notice the ‘Owl’:) Lucia always called J ‘baby owl’ when he was in my tummy.
Christmas morning love from the cousins.
Grandpa handing out the gifts
Christmas evening at my aunt Marcia’s
Jameson’s first Christmas
Lucia was SO excited for snow! With just a dusting she was ready for snowballs, snowmen and snow angels with daddy.
Lucia, Caroline and Addison each found a pair of Mor mor’s glasses and had way too much fun with them.
This was them pretending to be grandmas
Then it was onto the special event, the American Girl Doll store (no, we have not entered that world yet with Lucia.)
Part of the fun of Water Tower Place is riding the glass elevators.
Special moments with grandpa. Here he is teaching Lucia how to play the Ukulele.
It was so great to spend time with special friends and so fun to watch all of our kids grow up.
One of the reasons we were in Chicago was to celebrate this lovely lady and dear friend, Christine, as she was getting married. And celebrate we did.
Tresor and Christine!
The beautiful bride
Lucia had the honor of being the flowergirl and I was a bridesmaid. Lucia did a great job! Although I guess we failed to go over ‘pace’ with her as she lapped the ringbearer, good friend Zeke.
My handsome boys at the reception. I love how J just puts one finger in his mouth.
Little J, big eyes.
Love these ladies + Manu
It was so, so, so good to spend quality time with all of these ladies during wedding festivities.
And the fellas…
This was us all night with Jameson snuggled in the Baby Bjorn.
Love you Christine and Tresor. All the happiness in the world to you two!
The next day we were onto tea at the Drake with the Wallgren ladies. Jameson was the only boy allowed. A great tradtition that we always look forward to.
I love my fam!
We had a great trip to Chicago. Being there is always a good time, especially around the holidays. Great family time, good food and some fun holiday traditions. Lucia LOVED all the time with her cousins and grandparents. I loved celebrating Christine’s wedding and getting to see so many loved ones. We soaked in all the special time with family and friends then it was back home to Portland. We are grateful to all for such a special trip.