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Inside My Head

Inside My Head

Fabulous Finn, Age 2

Dear Finn,

Happy Birthday, my amazing little bundle of two year old kinectic energy.

Just now, as I was preparing to write this letter, I looked back at my previous posts, eager to remind myself what I had transcribed - curious to know how you have changed, grown, remained the same.

Re-reading the post about when you were first born, it's easy to remember how smitten I was with you. From the very beginning, you were a charmer.

As you grew into your first year, you solidified your place in the family - and you did so by being sweet, easy, and taking it all in.

But here's where it gets interesting. 

Somewhere around 15 months, you decided to make your mark a bit more indelible.

Understanding there's a lot of personality in our house, here's where you've centered yours:

Motion: Walk? No time for that, you run. Anytime. Anywhere. And with immense glee.
Balls: Baseball, basketball, soccer ball, football, rugby - you don't discriminate, you're equally obsessed. You will play sport one day. 
Talk: Not a damn word for a long while, and now - well, we're not concerned.
Idol: For most of your second year, I thought your Dad had three legs, you were one of them. 
Beckett: You LOVE your brother and will - with equal parts fervor - adore or attack him - depending on the moment.
Sweet: THIS is your core. 
Temper: Bloody hell, Gemini much?
Size: You're a runt, you know it, and you do not care. You will not be bullied, and God help the one who trys. 
Cute: You have a strong understanding of where you stand here. You use your powers well.
Determined: My God, you have the steely determination of an ox. I absolutely love this about you and I hope it never changes. 

And so, my small friend, this is you at 2. You have, indeed, changed a lot. I can see more clearly now who you are, and who you are going to be - but I also know that you are going to continue to surprise us, which I welcome.

<span style="text-align: center;">Thank you, sweet boy - for bringing so much light and laughter to our lives. We love you.

</span>Mama, Dada, Beckett & Bingley

                                                                                                            Quintessential Finn:


Happy Birthday, Baby Finn!

Dear Finn,

Someone once told me, you get the baby you can handle.

I'm not sure then what that says about me, my angelic boy.

All I know is that I've spent the last year marveling at your nature - peaceful, happy, mellow, curious, loving.

And it's not just me, everyone notices.

People stop us in stores, on the street, in restaurants - and they all say the same thing: your light shines bright.

I suspect you get this from your dad, a very simliar soul.

And yet, like your father, you are not to be underestimated. Coupled with your amazing sweetness, is a steely determination, a spark that tells us, there is more than meets than eye.

But mostly, you are just easy.

Easy to manage.

Easy to laugh.

Easy to love.

It was this ease, that won Beckett over. You entered his life so quietly, shared his space so generously, and made him love you. The whole worshipping thing works well too, you seem to know he likes attention. How very astute.

I get the strange feeling that we are going to learn a lot from you.

And so on this, your first birthday, we're all taking a moment to thank you for expanding our hearts, breeding even more happiness in our home, and quite simply, for being wonderful.

We love you Baby Finn,

Mama, Dada, Beckett & Bingley

Our Summer

Dear Finn,

Tomorrow I return to work and just like that, my little man, our summer together shall come to a close.

As you nap by my side, I’ve decided to forego straightening my hair and instead capture some thoughts about our time together.

Oh yes, I’ve been changed.

You see, early on in your existence, life threw me some curve balls. These curve balls, or gentle reminders, I’ve decided – served to re-focus my attention. I was reminded, and sometimes we all need reminders, that family comes first. That loyalty and commitment are to be reserved for people. And that my most important role, above all else - is to be a good mom.

Here then is what I saw, when I began to see clearly:

You carved your place in our clan by claiming easy and sweet as your stomping grounds. You exist in the crossover between happy and mellow. Yes, I’ve noticed your presence in the space we dedicate to observation and intelligence, but you sit there quietly. I suspect for you, much like your father, true confidence will trump bravado – one day. For now, you are content being content.

We found out a month or so ago that you have torticollis, your head tilts to the left. We call you TC, twist you in ungodly ways, and apply all our (my) overachiever energy to making you better. In turn, you just smile and improve and somehow I know, things will come easily for you.

You have been a true joy. The most important reminder of what’s important.

Thank you, my sweet boy, for a wonderful summer.



PS: We are both a bit bummed.


Dear Beckett,

Just like that, you’ve up and turned two.

Your birthday was Saturday, July 3rd 2011.  However, I MAY have pretended it was yesterday, July 4th – patriotic pretense bought us a parade, a fantastic, festive BBQ, many friends, lots of family, and a very happy little man.

NOTE: I will continue to use this revised timeline until you learn the days of the week and/or the yearly calendar.

For now though, I sit two days past your actual birthday, having had time to reflect on how you’ve grown and who you are today.

Here’s you – at 2:

You’re both cautious and curious, a combination that propels you to observe, assess, and decide your next move.

Move. You do this at a rate formerly unknown to me. When you’re not moving, you’re speaking.

You speak in full, clear sentences and frankly, sometimes it freaks us out.

Your absolute favorite phrases are: “What’s that noise?” “What happened?” and “Read a book?”

Books. You cannot get enough of them, especially before bedtime.

Bedtime. The ONLY time you’re allowed your paci – and that ended last night.  I bribed you with a party and a truck.

Trucks. You love them – passionately and indiscriminately. Scooper, dump, garbage, cement mixer, fire – they are all the same in your eyes.

Your eyes. Magical. Enormous and bright, like a full moon.

The moon – a former favorite.

Your current favorite: Dada.  No one compares, despite valiant efforts from Mama.

Mama. You say that I'm funny, and I make you laugh.

Your laugh. It’s our favorite sound.

Sound. You’re experimenting with this. Daily. Good times for us.

Experimenting.  A nice word for your ability to cross over to the dark side, completely meltdown, and then – in the blink of an eye – rebound to sweet.

Sweet. How you are with baby Finn.

Baby Finn. Warmly welcomed to your world, most of the time.

Time. Something moving far, far too fast.

Here’s to two!

Happy birthday to my amazing little man.



For Finn

Dear Finn,

Today you are one week old.  You were born on 5/25/11 at 7:15AM in San Francisco - 7 pounds, 10 ounces, 21 inches long.

As it so happens, today is also my 34th birthday. What an absolutely amazing gift to have you here by my side.

Over the last 7 days, I’ve had time to reflect upon your entry into our world (mostly during the 4 to 5 times a night I wake up to feed you).  But, unlike the rousing tale I shared about Birthing Beckett (your strapping older brother), this time I feel far less inclined to share the candid details of your arrival.  This, it should be noted, is quite unlike me.

Admittedly, I’m greatly tempted to write about my non-functioning epidural which resulted in natural labor, but I’ve decided to save this portion of the story for when you are 15, experimental, and I can say “there were no drugs for me, my friend – and there shall be no drugs for you.”

Instead, I want to focus on how you’ve made me feel.

Perhaps it’s because you are my second baby, and probably my last.

Maybe I’ve grown accustomed to this mom thing, accepting all wonders and challenges as one in the same.

Or, let’s be honest, it could be that you are much easier on the eyes than newborn Beckett (who, to be clear, is quite the looker now).

Whatever it is, the feelings I have are those of peace, gratitude, and dare I write it – bliss.

Yes, I’m “that mom” now.

This makes this, and you, a completely different experience for me.

I'm staring at fingers and toes.

I’m breaking all kinds of Baby Whisperer spoiling rules.

I’m enjoying every moment.

Well, most moments.

One day you’ll see that I was rather prolific throughout your brother’s first year of life – detailing all the surprises, challenges, and defining moments of a new mom.  I forewarn you, life is a bit busier now, so what you’ll likely lack in blog format, you’ll gain tenfold in the absence of angst and the light of appreciation.

Shining that light on you now, here’s some things you should know…

Your name, Finley Charles Spence, was derived from one of my most favorite literary characters: Huck Finn.  I hope you will possess some of his same qualities: goodness, a sense of adventure, compassion, imagination, strong will – and a little bit of naughty to balance your underlying nice.

Some of the other things I hope…

That you will always feel loved. And that you will always give love. Freely.

That you will be both confident and humble – and no matter what, kind.

That you will be funny.  Funny is fabulous.

That you will be honest.

That you will feel blessed, because you are.

That you will explore all your given talents, and put them to good use.

That you will be generous – in all possible ways.

That you and your brother will be best friends, no matter how different you are.

That you will love to read. Books make the world wonderful.

That you will love to travel. And, equally as important, that you will love to come home.

But for now baby Finn, let us go nap and be happy.

Thank you for making my birthday wonderful.



One Year

Great relationships are often measured in years.

Marriages. Friendships. Family.

Of years, many would argue the first is the most exciting – sometimes the hardest – perhaps the most telling.

In your 20’s, a yearlong relationship equals success.

In marriage, the first year can be difficult.

With children, the first year is about survival.

For the overly sentimental who deem survival a negative word, I’d argue that from survival comes wonderful things: deep gratitude, true appreciation, fortitude, and much needed perspective.

I just survived my son’s first year of life.

From the moment I birthed Beckett, I knew our relationship would be a journey.  Unlike the instant love others describe, I held my newborn with a mixture of curiosity, anticipation, and a healthy dose of fear.

The journey progressed more quickly than I imagined. I made stops in uncharted emotional territories, I endured physical challenges, and I found joy in rather surprising places.

One day, when Beckett is old enough to understand, I’ll tell him the things I learned in our first year…

Being a mother starts on day one, being a good mother starts every day after that.

When you’re not sure if you can do it, just do it.

When you want to cry, cry.

If you feel happy – stop – and feel happy.

Ask for help.

Ditch perfectionism.

Feel blessed.

Be grateful.

Accept change.

Embrace chaos.



Befriend patience.


Make date nights.

Thank your own Mom.


Love. Just love.

Happy birthday to the charming little creature who is taking me on the most fabulous of journeys.


Poo Party

Dear Friends With Kids,

Thanks SO much for the heads up that - at around the age of one - my child would likely be able to remove his own diaper.  And thank you for clarifying that if he could remove his own diaper, it probably wouldn't make sense to put him to nap in just his diaper (even in 80 degree weather), in case said child decided to go bare before having "an accident."  And by accident, I'm so grateful you told me about how a small creature could - shockingly - paint all 42 bars of his crib, the wall, his toys, and his face with his very own feces.  Seriously, I'm even super appreciative that you mentioned how fast poo dries, becomes like glue, and is utterly impossible to remove - necessitating an immediate bath and multiple loads of laundry.  Wow - just imagine what my afternoon would have been like if you hadn't told me about this phenomenon and I had to experience it first hand for myself - it probably WOULD HAVE SUCKED.

You guys rock.

PS: If there is any other sweet advice that you have neglected to mention, please bring it forth.  Thanks in advance.

For C

In case it's not obvious, I'm not an overly emotional person.

I tend to lead with the head, rather than the heart. I wasn't a wee girl who imagined her wedding, dreamed of dimpled offspring, or pictured picket fences.

But, when I foresaw my future, and a potential partner in it, I did have a very clear idea of who that person should be - and indeed, I was fairly certain I was shooting a bit high.

Brilliant: I bore easily, smart would not do.

Kind: Someone would need to offset my tendency towards sarcasm.

Funny: But not as funny as me.

Hot: Superficial, but true.

Worldly: An accent earned extra points.

Optimistic: Cynical is so easy.

Creative: No finance types allowed.

Confident: Absolutely required.

Humble: An quality of the truly confident.

Generous: In spirit first.

Successful: In something that mattered.

Patient: I can be trying.

Admirable: Ah, to admire.

Given this list, you can imagine my surprise when I met C and he easily (a quality I later came to realize defines most things he takes on) exceeded all my expectations.

Now, don't get me wrong - homeboy is not perfect. He's got a fiery side to match his sweetness, he's getting a bit doomsday about this whole climate change thing, and he may kill people as part of his spy gig - but, you take the good with the bad.

Really though, this post is about C as a Dad, and how he continues to impress me.  Fatherhood has been a easy extension of his natural gifts - patience, attention, a proclivity for making animal noises.

I've watched for almost a year as B becomes increasingly mesmerized by this man, and in total awareness of my cheesiness, I feel proud at having made such a good choice (plus, this helps keeps the jealousy at bay).

And so yeah - there you have it - two softy Spence posts in a row.  But, it's worth it, to send someone super special a message that they are loved and appreciated and cherished.

Happy First Father's Day.





Almost There

It's been a while since my last post.

You know how it goes - things have been particularly busy on the work front, C has been on back-to-back spy missions, the boy hasn't slept past 5:40AM in three weeks, etc.

But it also occurred to me (and I can already foresee regret in writing this), that maybe - just maybe - I am starting to get the hang of this Mom thing.

Everyone says, just get through the first year.

Ok, not everyone - but the people who I like, and who give it to you straight.

So basically, I've been on countdown to July 3, 2010 like it's the second coming of the Lord himself.  Honestly, I have had expectations of the skies parting, light shining down, and Beckett levitating in the air with a small halo around his luscious locks.

True story.

And, while I'm definitely still hoping for the above, I'm beginning to realize what the year factor really means: slow cooked resilience + key developmental milestones = pretty freaken cool experience.

The definition of resilience is: adjective - able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. If you go ahead and define "difficult" as balancing work and motherhood, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, lack of being able to fit into your pants, and so forth - then it's fairly clear why finally being able to quickly recover from these things makes for a feel good phase.

Couple this with your previously non-moving, non-speaking, child's new-found ability to charm, flirt, and kiss on demand and BAM - the skies are parting, light is shining, etc.

Some say the whole journey is blissful; I'd say that's highly retrospective.

But then again, retrospect in the form of a 2.5 foot, smiling rascal - not the worst thing. 

Rules of Engagement

Oh man, did I pull a doosey this weekend.

I hesitate to share this because 1) It's shows the true depth of my ineptitude 2) It may actually give my mom a heart attack.

Before I begin, may I just say this - how is it possible - that no one (that I know of, anyway) has written a handbook on some fairly simple, albeit not entirely obvious, rules of engagement for babies.  I mean - seriously - I could have saved myself some major headaches had I some key inside tips.

If I were to write that book (and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna) here's a small sampling of things I would include....

1) Newborns sound like warthogs when they sleep, get earplugs.

2) If you have a baby boy, cover his penis when removing his diaper - if you do not, you will be peed upon for the first three weeks of his life. 

3) Pacifiers do not create nipple confusion, they create silence.

4) Buy the swaddles with Velcro, no one is impressed by how tight you can swaddle a miracle blanket at 3AM.

5) You can spoil a newborn. If you don't believe this, try co-sleeping for the first few months.

6) If your 8 month old is not crawling, don't be anxious - throw a party.

7) Tossing your child in the air after a meal, will likely result in the reappearance of said meal.

8) Clipping your baby's finger nails is akin to trying to thread a needle when wasted - good luck with that.

9) Baths are the panacea for most.

And the number 10 helpful hint - that I learned last weekend.....

10) Remove your baby from the shopping cart BEFORE unloading your groceries - or else, baby and shopping cart MAY roll up to 100 yards away in a busy parking lot.

Please feel free to leave a comment with additional rules, I'm officially collecting.


About Me

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