Our sweet, low-key, clever and determined Alice is turning ONE! When our first born, Ava, had her first birthday, Jordan and I did a fun joint blog post called "interview with two survivors of the first year of parenthood" (If you missed it - you can read it HERE). It was neat for us to look back at our first year of parenthood, and share it with our friends, family and LGB readers. I thought it was appropriate to do a little Part II to commemorate this special occasion for our second born -- but this time, take a look back at how life has shifted, now that we are parenting two!
Reflecting on this past year of being a parent of two – what is/was:
Your greatest joy:
DAD: Being blessed with two beautiful, healthy, goofy girls is the best gift I could ever receive.
MOM: Watching the girls interact together. They already love each other so much. Ava is always watching out for her sister -- always acting like "mom", telling her to be careful, "reprimanding" her for ripping book pages, and giving her hugs and kisses out of no-where. Alice already looks-up to Ava, and wants to do everything that Ava is doing. Seeing their bond has filled me with SO much joy.
One thing having two little girls has forced you to master?
DAD: Doing hair and picking out outfits.
MOM: How to french braid and do perfectly even pigtails. I spend a good chunk of my morning doing little girl hair - so I've gotten a lot of practice!
One thing you still need to work on?
DAD: Patience. I can get frustrated pretty easily, and with having kids I've had to really put myself in check when they push my buttons... kids will be kids and ours are definitely a pair of characters to say the least!
MOM: I worry that Alice doesn't get enough one-on-one attention. With your first born, they get 100% of you, every moment of every day. But now that time is split. I always try to keep in mind that Alice is constantly learning from all of us, even if I'm not sitting down to teach her the ABC's each day.
What was the hardest part about going from 1 to 2 kids:
DAD: Adjusting to a new routine. It takes a few months, but eventually it becomes as easy as it was with the first one.
MOM: You have even less time to yourself. Ava still naps, so pre-Alice, I had a few uninterrupted hours each day to myself. Now I am LUCKY if their naps overlap.
Nursing was also a challenge with two at home. I would just start nursing Alice, and then all of a sudden, my recently potty-trained toddler would need help in the bathroom. It was definitely a challenge!
What things were easier the second time around?
DAD: Everything seemed easier. There was no fear when we brought her home. We knew exactly what we were supposed to do. We learned with Ava that routine is the key to everything, so this time we established a routine pretty quick (and Alice was thankfully an easy baby to boot)! Not to mention she nursed, so I was off the hook for most of the late night feedings, early on!
MOM: Also nursing. Much easier already knowing what I was doing, what to expect, and how to handle those first few weeks.
Just bringing the baby home was light-years easier this time around... we just knew what to do and had this comfort level that wasn't there before.
And then getting Alice sleep-trained was a whole lot easier this time -- I think primarily because I didn't have the time to devote to it. Alice had to learn that when she got put in her crib, it was time to go to sleep - with minimal help from mom or dad. No time to stand around "shhhh'ing" like I did with Ava. But she took to it like a little champ!
If your style of parenting could be summed up in a movie title, what would it be?
DAD: Crouching Tiger Hidden Daddy
MOM: How to Train Your Dragon(s)
Favorite memory with Alice:
DAD: She's quite the mama's girl and figured she thought I was just the resident butler... until I came home one day and she saw me and pointed to me saying "Dada!"... that's something I will always remember!
MOM: When she started giving kisses. She was sitting on my lap, I asked for a kiss, and she not only gave me one (gaping mouth, sloppy kiss), but kept coming back for more kisses - at least 20 times. It was the sweetest thing in the world. It was like she had finally figured it out and wanted to make up for lost time.
Best advice for parents going from 1 to 2 kiddos:
DAD: What are you thinking? Why complicate your life with more chaos!!! But... if you insist on having more than 1, I'd suggest having the other kid help out with little tasks as much as you can. It helps ease them into the transition of having a sibling and helps them bond with each other.
MOM: Be kind to yourself while you adjust. There will be days early on, where putting on a Disney movie and snuggling with your new baby on the couch is all you can handle. And then there will be days where you feel like a rock-star parent - with your kids taking synchronized naps, eating all their food and listening to your instructions (although those days don't happen often -- enjoy them!!).
What you wish you knew before having a second child:
DAD: So far everything has been pretty fun and not extremely hectic. Routine is everything and has worked wonders for us. Ava is pretty protective over us, so I was a little worried on how she would adjust... and she's actually been great from the very first day she met Alice, which was a huge relief.
MOM: That after a few weeks of adjusting... we'll get into a flow and not know anything different. We really did get into a groove quickly -- Ava adjusted so much more easily than we expected, and all of that pregnant worrying over the unknown was pointless in the end!
Your favorite Ava and Alice moment:
DAD: Watching them chase each other after bath time is quite comical.
MOM: I LOVE hiding behind the door, and sending Alice into Ava's room to greet her in the morning. Alice charges in - excited to see her sister. And Ava exclaims, "ALICE!!!!!! Goomorning Seester!". It's the cutest thing ever.
Alice is her father's daughter because:
DAD: She’s my twin!
Alice is her mother's daughter because:
MOM: Alice definitely got my personality. She's pretty content most of the time - and just an all-around happy girl. I like to think she got those mellow vibes from her mama!
One thing you wish for Alice:
DAD: I want Alice to continue growing into her strong personality. She’s determined and smart. I see big things in her future.
MOM: That she always pursues the things that she's passionate about -- the things that bring her happiness. And that she always stands up for what she believes in, even when it's not the easy thing to do.
Approximately how many minutes spent picking up after your kids in the past year:
Favorite baby stage for Alice:
DAD: Crawling… girl is a crawling machine!
MOM: This stage now, where she is learning so much and imitating the things we do. It is SO much fun. She's been learning to identify all of the body parts, and gets so excited when she gets it right.
Best part of being a #girldad:
DAD: Girls are precious and turn their dads into softies… boys are just wild and dirty!
Best part of being a #girlmom:
MOM: All of it. I am a girls-girl myself, so everything from the cute dresses to the crafting and the endless glitter is fun for me!
A note to our baby girl on her first birthday:
DAD: Alice, our first year with you has been a real treat. Even during one of the craziest years you’ve been able to bring us nothing but laughter and love. You’re strong personality and love for your big sister has been the best thing to watch. I look forward to watching you grow and watching you and your sister become the best of friends. You can always count on Dad to protect you.
MOM: My sweet Alice girl. You have changed my life and brought our family SO MUCH JOY over the past year. You can always put a smile on my face, and I truly love everything about your happy-go-lucky personality. You LOVE to dance - even during the shortest snippet of music, and ALWAYS want to keep up with your older sister and the rest of the family. I can relate to you and your youngest sibling mentality, because I'm the youngest of two too. So yes, you may get picked on, pushed over, and told you can't play... but that unrelenting persistence you already have (and will continue to develop) will serve you throughout your life and will shape you into the beautiful force of nature you are destined to be. I love you Alice Gray... happy happy first birthday!
All of these photos are from a shoot we did right before the Coronavirus outbreak hit the US. We took the photos at the same garden in Pasadena where Jordan and I got married, 5 years earlier. Alice was about 6 months old. All photos are by Vlad and Aida (The Theodors) Photography.