Wednesday, August 26, 2015

{a letter to my daughter on her first day of preschool}

Dear Lucy,

When you were born, I knew I was going to have to go back to my full time job when you turned 3 months old. It broke my heart, but it needed to happen. So, we scrambled around trying to find childcare that was not only affordable to us but that we felt great about. We didn't want to just send you anywhere. It was important for us to really find the right fit. Someone that would really show you love, patience, and kindness. Someone that would really be there for you in the hours that we could not be. There came a point in the search that I felt maybe we weren't going to find the right fit. Everything seemed to be either too far away or too expensive to make it worth it for us financially. That's when I started to think that maybe I should just quit my teaching job and be a full time stay at home mama. I knew it was important, though, for us to have my income. Plus, I really loved my job and looked forward to going there every day. I never thought I was really cut out for the stay at home mom thing anyway - and boy did I feel guilty for thinking that!! In any case - we forged on with our search for the right daycare provider and just in the nick of time, my mother-in-law told us that a spot opened up at Miss D's house. I immediately wanted to know everything about this Miss D. I found out out that she is the step daughter of a woman from our church and that she lives right down the street! As soon as I met her, I knew it was the perfect fit!

So, at 3 months old, I left you in her care and we have counted our lucky stars every day since. She has definitely been like another mother to you. She has gone above and beyond in the amount of love, patience and kindness she has given you. She has given you bottles and changed endless diapers. She has rocked you to sleep and wiped away your tears. She watched as you learned to crawl and then as you learned to walk. She cheered you on as we all worked through the potty training process. She has comforted you when you've been sad and celebrated with you when you've mastered new skills. She has sat next to you at her kitchen table as you worked on learning your colors, letters and numbers. She has taken you on countless field trips to wonderful places and would send your mama pictures to let me know how much fun you were having. What an amazing blessing she has been in our lives.
Yesterday was your last day at her house. I'm not sure that you've fully processed the change yet. In fact, I'm absolutely sure you haven't, but that's okay. That isn't your job right now. We are lucky that we don't have to really say goodbye to Miss D yet since Elijah is going to start going there for just a few hours/days a week. Also, we live just down the street which means it will be easy for us to visit at anytime. will never be the same as it was. You beamed with pride as you gave her the picture frame you decorated (with the picture above inside of it) and the flowers that you picked out for her. Then you gave her a big hug and yelled "I love you, Miss D" as we walked out of the door. Yup. It's been a pretty incredible 4 years.

....and now, here we are on your very first day of Preschool! You woke up this morning filled with the same excitement as Christmas morning. "I'm going to school today, Mommy!!" You jumped out of bed ready to immediately put on the outfit that we had picked out together the night before, complete with your new pink patent leather ballet flats. You didn't even mind one bit when I asked you to come outside on the front porch to take pictures. "Sure mommy! Let's go!" :)
Daddy went to work a little late this morning so we could all go to your new school together. You absolutely loved that. When we arrived at school, you immediately strapped on your new pink, light-up princess backpack and walked with the sweetest pep in your step all the way to the door. We signed you in, hung your backpack on your special hook and then went up to meet your teachers in the gym area. You gave each of us a big hug and kiss and sent us on your way. You were so ready for this. 
I held back my tears as your daddy, brother and I walked back to the car. The whole thing just felt so momentous to me. I couldn't stop thinking about how grown up and confident you looked as you ventured into this new place filled with new people and I suddenly felt myself realizing how much I wish I could be more like you sometimes. You look at the world in the such a beautiful and wondrous way. You live in the moment. You are not yet filled with the worries and anxieties that will eventually creep in as you grow older. Instead, you are filled with magic and amazement at the world around you. 
I continued to hold back those tears for most of the morning. I dropped your daddy off at work and Elijah and I sat outside of a coffee shop while we shared a bagel and I sipped on a latte. It was a beautiful morning and I couldn't stop thinking about you. I smiled at the thought of how much fun you were going to have on your new adventure. I prayed that you were having a great first day and that you were already making new friends. I fought the urge to just go back and pick you up ;) 
As Elijah and I were driving home from the coffee shop, I peered into my rear-view mirror and caught a glimpse of him (thanks to the mirror hanging above him) clapping and grinning from ear to ear. That is when it finally hit me. I just felt this huge rush of gratitude wash over me in that moment. I am so incredibly blessed to be able to call you and your brother my own. The amount of pride I feel about getting to be your mama is impossible to measure. 
So, my sweet wish for you today, on your very first day of school, is that you'll never lose your desire to learn and explore. The possibilities are endless and there are adventures around ever corner. I hope that you will always know how loved you are and how much you have to offer the world. I hope you will always stay true to yourself and treat others with kindness, love and respect. Dream big and work hard. I know there are amazing things in store for you. And always remember, I will be here with my arms stretched open wide whenever you need me. I will always want to hold you close, but I promise to do everything I can to give you wings to fly. 

All my heart, 
Love, Mama

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

{Dear Elijah | 12 months}

Dear Elijah,

I'm weeks late in writing this post, but I am here to wish you a very happy first birthday, my love!! I cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was holding your beautiful, tiny, squishy newborn body in my arms for the very first time?! I think back to that day now and I can remember so clearly the exact feeling that I had the first time I laid eyes on you (even after 28 hours of intense labor). My heart had exploded with joy all over again just as it had when your sister was born. And now...a year later, I still feel that same joy every single day. I am head over heels for you, sweet boy...and I always will be.
 You truly might be the happiest baby that ever lived. Your smile and laughter are just so completely infectious and people are constantly stopping us when we're out to say hello to you. You are a big charmer, for sure. You love to wave and give high fives at any chance you get. You LOVE to shake your booty, clap and dance whenever you hear any sort of music. Your favorite thing to dance to at the moment are any of the songs from the Giggle Bellies. Seriously, you just squeal (very loudly) with glee whenever we turn it on for you. The cutest! You also currently love the Baby Einstein Number's Nursery video which was your sister's favorite when she was your age. But truly - I can start humming any tune in the world and you will start moving and shaking. It is just the best.

I'd say that as of this week (which is actually 2 weeks after your birthday), you are officially standing on your own and walking! You are only doing about 3-4 steps at a time at the moment, but you are suddenly super interested in mastering this skill and it won't be long at all before you're really taking off. Your daddy, sister and I spend hours these days passing you back and forth, having you walk from one person to the other. The reaction you get out of us each time is enough to send you reeling into a giggling fit! Watching your little butt wiggle as you take those tiny steps is just the icing on the cake for me ;)
 At your one year checkup a few weeks ago, you weighed 20.3 pounds which was only 1 pound more than your 9 month checkup! I couldn't believe it. You LOVE to eat and if anything, I thought maybe we were feeding you too much! The doctor was not at all concerned, though, especially since you did grow 2 1/2 inches in that time. But yeah...back to food. We still haven't found anything that you just won't eat, though you definitely are starting to have preferences. I'd say your favorite things at the moment are yogurt raisins, any sort of fruit (but especially blueberries and bananas), frozen peas and cheese. Lately you seem to not be as interested in tomatoes and hard boiled eggs - I'm suspecting that it's a texture thing...but who knows! You no longer drink formula and have since moved on to whole milk. Your big sister had a really hard time with whole milk when she was your age (I'm talking screaming from belly aches and the worst diaper rash you have seen in your life) and could only drink 1%. You, on the other hand, aren't minding the switch one little bit :)
 Other 12 month happenings: You love to throw balls and I must say that you have one heck of an arm! Future pitcher? maybe. You're still a great sleeper - thank goodness! You have finally picked up the sign for "more" and you're not afraid to use it. We are currently working on the signs for "thank you" and "please beautiful mommy" ;) You are obsessed with the iPad and you love to hold our cell phones up to your ear and start babbling away. You LOVE playing with the play kitchen and you've recently started taking pretend bites of play food. Hilarious. You love giving us bites of your real food and sometimes you even fake us out by putting it in your mouth instead of ours at the last second. Silly boy! You've also started to recently enjoy feeding the dog your food despite our efforts to try and teach you not to. You will look me straight in the eye and reach your hand out over your high chair tray and giggle as you drop the food to the floor. My stink eye and a firm "no" means nothing to you as of yet ;) You are still obsessed with opening and closing doors. You are also obsessed with emptying cabinets of their contents (especially the dish towels and tupperware). You love to be rocked to sleep (after a book and a lullabye) while snuggling up with your blue bear lovey. It's the best part of my day. You are still a great car baby! You live for bath time and for the lathering of lotion that comes after. You are so incredibly sweet, but also demanding when you really want something. Your big sister is your best friend.
 Happy 1st birthday, handsome boy! I love you to the moon and back. Forever and always.

Love, Mama

Friday, July 17, 2015

{Dear Elijah | 11 months}

Dear Elijah,

We are officially planning your 1st birthday party and I just CAN'T EVEN handle it!! You are such an incredible blessing in our lives and I am constantly thanking my lucky stars that you chose me to be your mama. You and I have such an awesome and special bond and I just don't know what I ever did without you. You are a mama's boy for sure and it melts my heart every single time that you reach out your arms for me and snuggle your sweet little head into my chest. Pure heaven.
You are so incredibly active these days and I know you'll be taking steps on your own any day now. When we let go of your hands to see if you'll stand on your own, you bend your knees and collapse to the ground. But when you're not paying attention, you'll stand on your own for a few seconds. You even took a single step yesterday while we were at the park. Your daddy and I just looked at each other and asked "did that just happen?!" Any day now, bubs...and it will be a whole new ballgame.
I just adore watching you figure out the world around you. You are very observant and always want to be right in the middle of things. I love the way you will hold an object in your hand and study it ever so carefully as if you're trying to figure out how it works. I love the way you turn pages in books and look at the pictures so intently. I love the way you reach up to higher surfaces and poke your little fingers around to find out what we're trying to keep away from you. I love the way you babble on and on as if you're telling us the most amazing stories. I love the way you follow Lucy around and giggle with glee when she includes you in whatever she is doing. I love the way you splash around in the bathtub with pure joy - leaving me completely soaked by the end of it.
I love the way you throw your arms up way above your head whenever someone says "Sooo Big!" I love the way you chase the dog around even though she pretty much just tries to get as far away from you as possible. I love that you are completely obsessed with clapping and giving high fives. I love the new game we play now where you put your pacifier in my mouth and then quickly grab it to put back in yours (repeat x50). I love the way you study my face with your eyes and fingers when I'm laying down next to you. I love the way you give big, sloppy, open mouth kisses. They are the BEST.
You finally got to go in a swimming pool for the first time this past weekend and it was amazing. You were in total heaven - splashing around to your hearts content! You also got to go to your first fireworks display on the 4th of July. I was a little nervous that they would totally freak you out (and that you would be going to bed so late!) but you actually enjoyed them! (I just can't resist throwing in this picture of you and sissy - how did I get so lucky with you kiddos?!)
Happy 11 months, my darling boy.
I love you with all of my heart and soul. 


Friday, June 26, 2015

{Lucy's Superhero 4th Birthday Party}

When I asked my girl many months ago what kind of a birthday party she wanted to have this year, I kind of expected her to pick a girly theme like a ballerina tea party or Frozen. But just like last year, she got an awesome idea in her head and stuck with it. "Mama- I want a superhero party!!" That's my girl.
The forecast was not looking so great on the day of the party, but we prayed super hard for good weather so that we wouldn't have to cram 50 people into my in-law's house (who had very graciously offered to host again this year). They have an awesome patio/backyard and we were hoping to keep most of the party outside. Well, the party god's were working in our favor and the weather ended up holding off for us. Hooray!
My mother in law and I collaborated on making capes for Lucy and Elijah, and we even made one for Ellie (my in-law's adorable little pup). Elijah and Ellie made awesome little sidekicks for Super Lucy.
We had lots of delicious food and of course mom and I went a little nuts again this year with the dessert table. We just can't resist! My mom baked the delicious cake and my niece, Caley, and I decorated it. I made the cupcakes and Caley and I also decorated those. Mom made the awesome sugar cookies and cake pops and I went to a local candy shop for the rock candy (aka "kryptonite") and the huge assortment of taffy (aka "super elastic taffy"). I'd say the kids were more than sufficiently sugared up by the time they left. You're welcome, parents ;)
 I found tons of superhero word bubble printables online (thank you Pinterest) and used them on just about everything. I even made a few of my own. I also got some old comic books from a friend and used pages out of them to decoupage the big "L" and to make the pendant banner. I love how they turned out!
All that was left to do after all of the prep work was to party, party, party!
It was one heck of birthday celebration for our amazing little lady. Everyone had an awesome time while I was secretly wanting to run off into a corner to cry my eyes out about the fact that my baby girl is now 4 years old! 
 And now I have a first birthday to plan for baby boy. come those tears again!!

Happy 4th birthday, Super Lucy!
We love you to the moon and back!

Friday, June 19, 2015

{Dear Elijah | 10 months}

Dear Elijah,

I am a week and a half later in writing this post, but please forgive me, my and your sister have been keeping me very busy these days! How on earth are we less than 2 months away from your first birthday?!? Time is just flying lately and I am trying to my best to not only keep up, but to be as present in each moment as I possibly can. I don't want to miss a thing.
 It really does get harder with each possible day to get any work done since you stay home with me full-time (while sissy goes to school/daycare), but I really do love getting to spend my days with you. You are just so much fun to be around and I love that you keep me on my toes. You are so active and curious and really good at finding ways to play with all of the things that you're not supposed to ;) You already know the meaning of the word "no", yet you mostly like to just smile and giggle at us when we say it. You're certainly the cutest little trouble maker ever!
I'd say your favorite activity lately is opening and closing doors, cabinets and drawers. The level of satisfaction you get out of repeating these actions over and over (and over) again is quite wonderful really. Some other favorite things at the moment include bath time (you go absolutely crazy over it), eating, being out and about, looking at and turning the pages in books, the play kitchen, following your sister around, chasing the dog and stealing her toys and bones, riding in the stroller, swinging at the park, babbling like crazy, giving high fives, drinking out of sippy cups, crawling into small spaces (I don't think we'll have to worry about claustrophobia with you), banging on the piano, plucking guitar strings and dancing (you shake your booty as soon as you hear any sort of music and it is the most adorable thing ever).
You now weigh 19lbs 11oz and are wearing 6-12 months clothes (depending on the brand). I marvel at how heavy you feel to me when I carry you around now. Where did my teeny tiny little baby go?? You now have these delicious little thigh rolls and chubby feet that I could just eat right up! I imagine you could probably start walking anytime that you wanted at this point, but you don't really seem to have too much interest yet. You're more than happy to speed-crawl to your destination. But as incredibly active as you are these days, you still love to be held and snuggled and that makes me so unbelievably happy!
It has been a couple of months since you've sprouted any new teeth which means you are still at a grand total of 8 pearly whites (4 on the top, 4 on the bottom). Your big sister didn't have that many teeth until she was about 15 months. She also didn't weigh as much as you do now until around that time!
You are a great sleeper these days. You go to bed around 7:30-8pm and wake up between 6 and 6:30am. There have been quite a few morning lately that wake up even earlier than that, so let's try to work on that...okay, bubs?! 6am is hard enough for your insomniac mama! But that isn't your fault. I'm the one who needs sleep training!! :) ''
You are pure magic, Elijah. Thank you for the endless joy you bring to our lives.

All my heart,

Love, Mama