Will's First Birthday

Baby's first birthday pictures

Celebrating Will’s first birthday was all kinds of sweet. My main goal was to soak up the day with him and reflect on our first year as a family of three. Will’s birthday fell on a Thursday, so Nick and I took the day off from work. We decided it was time for Will to finally hear what the animals in his Sandra Boynton books really sound like, so we went to a farm. We saw cows, sheep, pigs—all of the important characters in Moo, Baa, La La La! For the sake of tradition, we then recreated my first post-delivery meal, which was a large pizza—all for me—and a vanilla milkshake. This time, I had to share, but I’ll happily let anyone this cute pull cheese off my crust and sneak bites of my ice cream.

First birthday present - Radio Flyer wagon

First birthday pictures at home

As for presents, we got Will a wagon. We figured he’d love pushing it around and putting all of his things in it. Instead, he likes to put himself in it and have us push him around. It’s kind of ridiculous, but it made for some fun impromptu birthday pictures. (These balloons were actually intended for a photoshoot in his crib, but he was not into it. He thought I was trying to put him down for a nap and was understandably alarmed to be surrounded by such strange objects.)

First birthday balloons
Will recently started walking, which made this birthday feel even more significant. It’s like we can suddenly see the little boy that he’s becoming. His new favorite thing is to strut up and down the block, which has been a really fun way to meet all of our neighbors.

First birthday party hat
When the weekend came around, it was time to party! We invited Will’s grandparents and nearby uncles over and kept things simple. There was cake, ice cream and a new outfit—which, if you ask me, is all you really need for a successful birthday.

1 - birthday cake from Susie Cakes

Birthday cake & decorate garland

First birthday cake smash

First birthday cake smash - sharing with the dog
First birthday cake smash - cake by Susie Cakes
Sweet & simple first birthday celebration

Cake smash

First birthday "1" t-shirt by Kira Kids

Here’s a look back on year one.

A Year

In just a week, our baby is going to turn one. How has it been almost a year already? I’m somewhat at a loss for words, so instead of a sappy essay on motherhood (which I’m sure I’ll write later), here are my favorite pictures from Will’s first year.

Dad and baby in the hospital
Newborn baby

Dad and baby's first Father's Day - Your Baby's First Word Will be Dada
3 month old baby - nursery prints from The Animal Print Shop

mother & son
3 months old - Let's Go Exploring Calvin & Hobbes onesie

Baby's first swim at Carmel Valley Ranch

Baby in a Simba suit

6 month old baby

Visiting the Naval Academy at six months old

Minion baby Halloween costume
Crawl So Hard onesie

Baby's first Christmas - picking out a tree

Seven month old baby - Tucker & Tate t-shirt

Baby on the move! Loves this VTech walker

Ten-month-old baby

Dad & baby at 11 months
Mom wanted a nursing pic, the dog had other ideas
Also, here are some of my favorite posts from my first year as parent: Five Unexpected Things From My Fourth Trimester, First Family Vacation, Oh, the Places You'll PumpA Man's POV: Lessons from Paternity Leave.

Small Style: Eye of the Tiger

Eye of the Tiger sweatshirt by Kira Kids - so soft!

There are a lot of challenges that come with being a first-time parent and one of them is not spending ALL of my money on baby clothes. I mean, I have 18 years to fill my son’s college fund but possibly only a couple before he can voice opinions about his wardrobe. I couldn’t resist these tiger-printed pants and coordinating sweatshirt from one of my favorite lines, Kira Kids. I’ve been a fan of this brand since my baby was in the womb—when I found out we were having a boy, this was one of the first onesies I bought. Their clothes are cool, playful and worth the splurge—they’re well-made with a worn-in feel, so my baby can cover them in peanut butter and dirt and they’ll come out of the wash looking the same as the day I bought them.

Bay Area parents: Kira Kids now has an adorable shop in downtown Los Altos, so if you’re in the ’hood, make this your first stop after brunch at Bumble. In the meantime, catch my interview with their super sweet founder, and if you love little clothes as much as I do, enjoy 15% off in-store or online with the code OUAB15 until March 30.

Eye of the Tiger pants and sweatshirt by Kira Kids

Tiger-print pants by Kira Kids

Tiger pants and baby toes

In Her Shoes: Christine Tang, Founder of Kira Kids

In Her Shoes: Christine Tang, founder of Kira Kids
If you follow fashion for the onesie-wearing set, then you’ve certainly seen Kira Kids. Known for clothes that are at once playful and cool (think rompers with rollerskating unicorns), the line for little ones is often spotted on celebrity tots like Beau (of #theoandbeau fame), Jessica Alba’s youngest daughter, and the NBA’s smallest star, Riley Curry. It all began when Christine Tang took a screen-printing class to make a few t-shirts for her nephews. She loved designing tiny attire so much that she decided to make a business out of it and quickly found fans beyond her family. Christine recently opened a Bay Area storefront, and it’s just as fun and whimsical as the clothes she creates. Here, take a peek inside the store and learn more about the woman behind the brand.

Cool baby clothes at Kira Kids in downtown Los Altos

What’s the story behind how you started Kira Kids?
After my nephews were born, I loved shopping for baby and kids’ clothes. I decided to take a screen-printing class and made a few t-shirts as gifts for them. It was a fun experience, so I made a small collection of t-shirts, onesies and beanies and sold them at local craft shows. I’ve always wanted to start a creative business, so I sort of became obsessed with it from there.

Christine Tang, founder of Kira Kids, in her Los Altos shop

How did you go from craft shows to a successful business?
My first job was in product development for a manufacturing company. It allowed me to travel to factories and participate in the design process—from sketches all the way up to production. When I started Kira Kids, I didn’t have any apparel manufacturing experience, so I researched online, read books, took classes and asked a lot of questions. I love learning, so I would take classes every opportunity I could get, even while working at my previous job. The craft shows were an amazing opportunity to gain valuable feedback and experience without a huge investment.

Yay Area kids' t-shirt by Kira Kids

New York-inspired collection of kids and baby clothes by Kira Kids

Pretzels flashing the peace sign, bulldogs in berets—your designs are so fun and whimsical. Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere, really—traveling, my silly nephews, music, movies. The pretzels were inspired by my trips to New York and the food carts I saw on every corner. The New York-themed collection was filled with a lot of pretzels, hot dogs and donuts! The collection this past fall was inspired by Paris, so you see French bulldogs, French detectives and my favorite, macaron cookies.

Inside the Kira Kids storefront in Los Altos

Everything is made in LA, and you’re committed to eco-friendly practices, like using non-toxic inks. How did you decide to make sustainability a priority?
It’s important for me to try to keep everything local if possible. We have amazing garment factories and resources in California, so it made sense to me to manufacture everything within our community to help out our local economy and provide jobs for the people who live here.

The wall of fame at Kira Kids - fans include Beau (of #theoandbeau), Stephen Curry's daughter, & Jessica Alba
What it’s like to see your designs on the celebrities of the toddler world?
It’s so awesome! I’m really lucky that they wear and like the clothes. It feels kind of unreal. It’s the best feeling, every time I see any kid wearing my clothes.

Live & Cry in LA and more cool baby clothes by Kira Kids

How would you describe your personal style?
Comfortable but fun!

Interview with Christine Tang, founder of Kira Kids
What’s your best advice for a woman who’s interested in starting in her own business?
If you’re passionate about it, go for it! Stay organized and have a clear vision of what your goals are. Your path may change during your journey, but it’s helpful to have an overall direction and you can make adjustments along the way.

In Her Shoes: Christine Tang of Kira Kids wears Nike Flyknits
Last question: If you could only keep one pair of shoes from your closet, which ones would you choose and why?
The shoes I’m wearing right now—my sneakers! They’re Nike Flyknits. They’re so comfortable that I don’t want to wear anything else.

A Man's POV: Lessons from Paternity Leave

A Man's POV: Paternity Leave
In October, I returned to work after 12 weeks of paternity leave and I just can’t WAIT to be king. Oh, sorry, that’s Will’s favorite song. In less than three months, it overtook Faith Hill’s “Where are You Christmas” and Megadeth’s “Holy Wars” to officially became the most played track in the history of my iTunes. I had the song permanently queued up so that I could ambush any fussiness before it could gain enough momentum to achieve total core meltdown. This is my most important parenting tip. However, there’s now a small part of my brain that’s on permanent safari.

Dad dresses baby as Simba while on paternity leave

So, yeah, I was paternity-leaving before Mark Zuckerberg made it cool. It’s so trendy now. Parental leave is a hot topic in this country because somehow it’s surprising that raising your child is a good idea. I love that we even need to reference studies to “prove” this fact because, unfortunately, you can’t just scream, “The Europeans are smarter than us!” and not come to work for 365 days. The total destruction of traditional gender roles has left American companies falling over themselves trying to understand the new workplace landscape in case they ever meet Ronda Rousey. Women want to work AND have babies, men want to raise the babies, and this is all good for profits? Fortunately, I work for a company that gets it.

But there’s nothing like dad’s first eight hours alone with a baby. It is an entirely different experience than being the slapstick entertainment between nursing sessions. When Julia sprinted off to work and back into a world of adult conversations and people who don’t potty in their pants, and left me alone with Will, I looked at him with probably the same expression that my dog saw on her first day with me: “Well, I guess you’re mine now. Wanna go play or something?” I didn’t read many parenting books because I have instincts. The result is that I learned A LOT on the job.

First lesson from paternity leave: babies are hilarious
1. Babies are hilarious
Hospitals only tell you the facts that’ll give you nightmares and fail to mention encouraging things such as, “Babies are our nation’s most underrated comedians.” Will’s reactions to every new experience made a trip through the kitchen feel like we stumbled into Fantasia. The look of pure wonder and excitement on his face when he saw the microwave open for the first time was so spontaneous, bizarre, and fun to witness that it might be the best joke I’ve ever heard.

Will is also a human laugh track, which is a self-confidence booster when I’m trying to make him laugh but the opposite when he giggles 10 times harder when the dog casually walks into the room. But despite the total lack of a coherent sense of humor, a happy baby is an easy baby. This was such a relief because I always assumed that a child was just a chore until they learned how to play catch.

Did you know about the underground Cool Dad Club?

2. Enrollment in the underground Cool Dad Club
I probably shouldn’t even be talking about it, but the Cool Dad Club is a silent support network where other dads can low-key let other dads know that their effort (and, sometimes, suffering) is respected. Let me be crystal clear, it is not bro-ish. There are no “whattup” head nods. Recognizing a fellow member in good standing is communicated by AT MOST one second of consensual eye contact. That’s all that’s needed to convey empathy, appreciation, and solidarity. I say “good standing” because there is a standard to uphold and a hint of judgmentalness in our behavior.

For example, when I would head out for our morning walk around town, I knew I’d be encountering other dads, so I always made sure to have my shit wired tight and not be the guy who couldn’t get his act together and was making men look like Homer Simpsons. It’s one thing if Will was having a rough moment and I was handling it like a calm professional, but it’s quite another if I was unorganized to the point where my inattention to detail was causing the meltdown.

Not coincidentally, our club’s rules for taking your baby to a grocery store are the same for surviving a crisis situation: act confident, don’t disgrace your family, and bring plenty of diapers. The morning walks were a good barometer for the rest of the day because if I earned eye contact from another dad, then I knew was making the grade and everything was going to be smooth.

One dad's adventures in paternity leave
3. Release the inner child
At least once a day, I get mad at the fact that the ’80s are getting farther away by the minute and, no matter how hard Hollywood tries to Jurassic Park the Ninja Turtles, they’ll never be rebooted successfully. I suffer from whatever the disease is that gives you nostalgia. Man, being a kid was fun, right? But have you tried it recently? Our paternity leave agenda was: play with toys, experience new places, take naps. AND IT WAS DIFFICULT.

It was not the Calvin and Hobbes life that I remembered. I was equal parts bored, busy, and annoyed for five days before I realized that I was trying to fit my adult life into a baby’s schedule. I learned that if I was going to enjoy paternity leave, and not just survive, I had to channel my inner Calvin’s carefree attitude where time isn’t a thing and playtime is the purpose of life. It took a serious mental adjustment, but once I abandoned the idea that I’d be able to squeeze in emails or sneakily stay in touch with current events, I found that I could go to the park with Will for three hours every day or read the same book about hippos 50 times and feel like that was the extent of my world.

The best moment was the first time Julia got home from work and I hadn’t been counting down the minutes to her arrival. She just showed up, and I could barely speak conversational English because I had spent too many hours mimicking barnyard animal sounds. Although I’m clearly Hobbes at this point, it was fun to act like a kid again, once I remembered how.

Lessons in paternity leave: Who's your mommy now?
4. Who’s your mommy now?
My biggest fear of paternity leave was that Will would take one look at me and scream forever, only taking breaths long enough to fill his diaper. I’m not his mommy, his giver of milk and life, and that’s not an acceptable thing to be. But, surprisingly, once Julia was out of sight, Will didn’t even notice. And like most men, he’s a different person when his favorite boobs aren’t around. He didn’t cry for milk ONCE, so the lack of mommy actually gave us some flexibility with his schedule and activities.

While Julia only left the house four times (not joking) in his first four months of life, Will and I were out the door with the dog and on the move first thing in the morning and only returned when we got bored of having too many awesome adventures. Paternity leave taught me that dads aren’t ill-equipped substitutes for moms. I got to have my own special, unique experiences with Will that brought out new qualities and tricks in him.

a scene from paternity leave
In the three months since my leave, much has changed, but nothing will ever replace the bonding time I had with my son. We grew closer, and that time gave me the skills and confidence to play an equal role in the daily chores. Aside from the outfits we choose for Will and our views on GI Joe, Julia and I are basically interchangeable. Also, being back at work sucks all the way to the moon.

Fortunately, I’m still able to channel my inner Calvin for the limited amount of time Will and I do get together each day. There are no more three-hour trips to the park after breakfast on weekdays, but I’m able to be perfectly present for at least one good play session and that’s (hopefully) enough to remind Will that I’m still a #cooldad. I’ll miss the paternity leave days, but I’m glad I took every single last minute that I was allowed. If anyone suggests that’s a bad idea, tell them sorry but you can’t hear them over your child’s hilarious toots.