A Letter to Emma on her 11th Birthday

To my dear Emma Kate,

Today you are eleven years old! Happy Birthday my dear precious one!! You are a beautiful young lady, but more beautiful on the inside. What can I say about you after eleven years? You have stepped into the big sister role remarkably well and are the best big sister to Eleanor. She so loves and adores you too. I’m so thankful she has you for a role model and I can’t wait for you to be able to drive in just 5 short years so you can get her to all her things! You help me with anything and everything when I need it. You are a good friend and are always considering their feelings and how your actions will affect them when you have to make decisions.

At this stage in life, you are still dancing the ballet shoe, as Eleanor would say. I think this is your 8th year of perfect attendance in ballet. You are a beautiful, graceful dancer, and over Christmas break, you received your pointe shoes. That brought you great excitement and pride. You decided to stop gymnastics after 5 years, and that’s ok. Not everything is meant to stay with us forever. Seasons come and seasons go.

You are an excellent student, receiving many compliments from teachers. In fact, you’ve never not made the A Honor Roll in all your years so far. You always strive to do your best and that makes me very proud. Heck, all of you makes me very proud.

You are funny, weird, and a bit goofy at times, when you let your hair down. You spend your free time with friends or on the computer; playing Roblox, scrolling Pinterest or watching YouTube. Please be careful with your device time and try to keep it in check. It can really become an addiction and a wedge to relationships. You love Harry Potter and books that involve fantasy, but I do believe you’ve outgrown all the things of childhood fantasies in real life.

You are one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me and I am honored and grateful to be Mom to such an amazing person! Keep being you in these next few years, especially when everyone will want you to change to fit some mold. Although at the time it will seem very important to be in a certain crowd or to fit in, in actuality its a very short number of years of your life and you will find you place and your groove and be exactly where you need to be. Don’t take life too serious (you might be prone to do that). Make time for fun & play & always know how very much you are loved by me. I am here for you always and forever.

Much love,

XOXO Mama

It’s 2023.

Here are my thoughts on a new year.

You don’t need a new year to have a new start.

You don’t even need a new month or a Monday or tomorrow.

The very next moment is new. All you need is a decision to make a change. To shift. To switch. To shake it up. And then act.

If you’re waiting for a new year to set that goal or start that thing, or even stop that bad habit, well you’re in luck because it’s January 1. No excuses.

But just remember in the days to come, that change is in your grasp because of your thoughts and your actions not because of your calendar. It’s available anytime you’re ready. Change is waiting on you while you wait on the perfect time. Which is probably now.

I’ve chosen 2 words this year to focus on. Trust and anchor. I need to be still (anchor). I need to anchor myself in Jesus and not be so flighty based on my circumstances or even my ever changing mood. Stable. Steady. Steadfast. Still.

And while I’m still, I need to trust in Jesus and that all of this is His plan and His plan for me is good. Trust that He who began a good work in me will see it to completion. Trust that He’s there even when I don’t feel it. Trust that He’s working even when I don’t see it. Trust that better days are coming. Trust that it’s all going to be ok.

Anchor + trust where I am is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Happy 2023.

I can’t believe we still don’t have flying cars.

My Mom Died on this Day Last Year

I knew this day was coming for a while.

It did not sneak up one me.

The one year anniversary of my mom’s death.

I thought I would be fine. I have been fine. I thought this day would be no different.

I opened fb this morning and read my sister’s post about her and suddenly I was not fine.

The tears began to pour and they would not stop.

I remembered.

I looked at her pics (not many).

I watched all the videos of her (again, not many).

I heard her voice.

I saw her smile.

I regretted so much, and realized what I should have done differently.

I reflected on how much she has missed in our lives and how much we’ve missed her.

I don’t think I gave myself time to grieve. This time last year. Actually, I know I didn’t give myself time to grieve. Because when your mom dies, and you have an 8 month old baby, you don’t have time to shower, much less to grieve. Life goes on. Babies demand that their needs be met. When you lie down to sleep, exhaustion overtakes you, and your mind rests. Until you wake the next morning, your schedule full, already feeling behind. There’s no time to grieve with a family to raise.

Is it a blessing? Maybe. Maybe not. I certainly don’t know.

But today, I let the tears fall.

And

fall,

and

fall,

and

fall.

My baby said, “Mama cry.”

“Yes, baby. Mama cry.”

And one day, my baby will cry for her mama too.

It seems almost cruel, doesn’t it? Harsh reality.

Life can be so lonely when the ones you know who have loved you the most are gone. There is no amount of love from siblings, spouses, or children that can equal the love from the ones who loved you the most. The loneliness that seeps in can sometimes be too much.

So I write, and in doing so I hope to heal a little.
Perhaps just a nook.
Maybe a cranny.
But part of my soul feels better now and I will forge on, living and loving until my time is no more.

Buoyed by memories and the love they carry, shall they carry me on.

Six Words To Cling To

“It won’t always be like this.”

Those six words are very powerful.

Either they cause a big sigh of relief, a thank God this will end feeling, or they may stir up fear for the future or maybe even a longing to freeze time and let the moments linger, so you can relish them a little more. Whether you are wishing time to fly or time to slow, it will eventually pass.

Recently, I had a conversation with a lady I had just met and we got right down to the meat of it. A kind of soul to soul talk, where you barely know someone, but instantly there’s a heart connection. You skip right over the fluff and talk about what really matters.

We were in two complete and total different places in our life journey, she had already walked my path, she heard my suffering in my season and her words, “It won’t always be like this” fed my soul. What do those words do for you? For me, they offered hope, the deep sigh of knowing I can make it, it’s not going to last forever.

Of course I know them to be true. I’ve lived enough years to know the only thing that stays the same is everything changes.

But it sounded different and those six words carried so much hope standing there in that very difficult place. Just to hear another voice reminding me that it won’t always be like this. Reminding me of what I already know, but had lost sight of while in the midst of it.

Maybe you need to hear that too. It won’t always be like this.
Good or bad.

Your circumstances will change.
Your kids will grow up.
Your body will heal, one way or another.
A job will come.
That relationship will evolve. Or dissolve.
Your heart will mend. Forever changed, but it will mend.

Minutes, Hours, Days turn into Months that turn into Years and one day you will look back on this season. You may then wonder how you ever survived it, but you will have.

Then your voice can carry the hope to another traveler you meet on your path reminding them in their darkest times, “It won’t always be like this”, because you lived it, and you know.

Eleanor is one!

My dear darling wild one,

You are one year old! Which means I have succeeded in keeping you alive for an entire year. Whew! You may think I’m kidding, but I’m not. You have not been an easy one so far. It has been the hardest year of my life, actually. Between your falls, clumsiness, crankiness, sicknesses and demanding nature we have made it! There is a reason people have their children young, Not that I would ever know but can imagine, instead of when they are nearly 46 years old. It’s easier, I suppose. But you are here and have a mighty purpose I know. This is all God, baby. You are His. He wants you here and He wants me as you mom. I question Him daily, I really do. I have not fully accepted my life yet. I know, I know. You are here to stay, but you are still just a shock!

I’m kind of hard on you, and I need to lighten up. You really are a good little girl. My expectations are too high and I’m working on that really. I need to slow down, soak you in, savor each and every moment. You would think that I would know how to do that, but in actuality, I think it’s because I feel like I’m running out of time, that my life has been put on hold for now, and there’s still so much to do here. So much I want to do here. Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job with you right now. Forgive me, sweet girl, and know that I love you so much and want the absolute best for you. I’m trying to be better.

You are so smart. You are beginning to understand our conversations and you try so hard to say the words as well. You’ll get there, I’ll get there, and it’s getting easier to communicate. You can understand practically everything I say and if I say let’s go take a bath, you head straight to the bathtub. You love your bath time. You can throw your diapers in the trash (along with things you shouldn’t), you are learning to put puzzles together, you love, love, love your books and it’s one of the few times you actually sit for a period of time.

You love people. I think you’re going to be an extrovert, we’ll see. You can be so tired, cranky, and irritable, but when it’s time to go bye-bye and we get around others, you are all smiles and waves. You have people smiling right back too. You have the toothiest, cutest little smile and you truly light up a room with it. You love to give big hugs and give a little grunt on the end of one. You blow kisses and love your family so much. Oh! And you started saying mama! I don’t think it is directed to me, but you can finally make the mmmmm sound and it’s so sweet sounding to my ears.

Sleep is so improved! I am so proud of you. We finally got into a rhythm and you just might be the kind of kid who thrives on a schedule. I’m going to try to remember that. It goes against every fiber of my being, I am more of a free spirit, but you definitely benefit. You’ve been sleeping 7-8 hours through the night now and are taking two pretty good naps each day, all in your own crib! Hooray! It’s amazing what a little sleep can do for you and me both! To think of it, you might be a free spirit as well, but function better with scheduled sleep!

We had a little family party for you and you had a blast. We practiced blowing out your candle, but you didn’t quite know what to think of that flame. We had presents and your dad made you a chocolate cake, which you loved squishing your fingers all in and eating up. Your Grammy Jo, Buddy, Uncle Chad, Uncle Steve and his family, and us were all here to sing to you and shower you with loads of attention and love. You got a slide and immediately learned how to crawl straight up that thing. You also got some fun toys and new shoes and socks, and a toothbrush for those seven pearly whites. You went to bed worn out.

I’ll be taking you for your one year check up next week and I’ll update your stats, but I think you are weighing in around 20 lbs right now. Your hair, which has stuck straight up on your head all year, is finally beginning to lay down and it has quite a bit of red in it too. You’re just a little beauty. You’re just a little wonder. I am thankful you are here to teach and guide me to be a better person. I love you so much and I always will. Never ever forget or doubt that.

XOXO,

Mama

A letter to Emma Kate on her 10th birthday

My dear sweet Emma Kate,

Hey there baby girl, you are 10! I can’t believe it. I have yet to get super emotional on any of your birthdays. You know I’m not too emotional anyway, but this one gave me a run for my emotional money. I got a bit weepy, a bit teary. I’m just in awe of you and the beautiful ten years you have been in my life. They have been the absolute best and I would never ever want to do it again any other way. I also am slammed with the realization that time is passing so quickly and kids grow up and these years will soon be nothing more than a memory.

I didn’t write you a birthday letter last year. I am sorry for that but I was in survival mode. It was a bit of a crazy time. You turned nine and I was 38 weeks pregnant with your little sister and just trying to throw you a party and not go into labor, and get everything else ready in case I did. This year, I’m wondering to myself how many letters will I write you? I began writing to you your first year of life, month by month to document the milestones, then it changed year by year, and here we are ten years into it. Do I stop? If so, when? I mean you are old enough to read these now. My plan has always been to print them out and make you a little book, but now I’m questioning when? I guess I will carry on for now and we’ll just see.

This past year has been crazy and beautiful and at times quite awful for us. You have spent the past year in the shadows of your sister, Eleanor who was born 11 days after your 9th birthday. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you’ve not gotten the attention that you were accustomed to. Don’t think I haven’t been aware of the change in our family dynamics, our time together, our relationship. Eleanor has been so demanding of my time, my presence, my energy, my everything. And yet, there you’ve been; ever loving, ever patient, ever gracious, ever kind. Never a squeaky wheel. Adjusting to these new changes and loving your sister so very much. Helping me when you can, and being the most beautiful human I know.

Having a baby sister appear on the scene 9 years into life has been one thing to come to grips with, and to add to that you lost your Grandy this past October. I know that has been difficult. You don’t talk about her, but I know you miss her and your Friday night sleepovers with her. I know you don’t want to feel sad, but please know that it’s okay. Feelings are so very important. We cannot go through life without them and they are the glue to humankind. All of us experience emotions. The situations may be different, but we all will know the feeling of grief and sadness at some juncture, and it is the common thread to what enables us to be able to connect to one another, to understand each other and to be helpers when others experience those same feelings. It’s a beautiful thing to have loved someone so much that you miss them so greatly. So please don’t ever be embarrassed or ashamed of your tears. It just means you feel deeply, that you loved greatly, and that you were greatly loved. Your Grandy loved you so much. You were her very special girl, her heart and her soul, she prayed for you before you were born, and I don’t know if I can ever articulate what you meant to her. Take the best parts of her with you, her big love, her generosity, her adoration of others, and let her love carry you forward in life. You have such a life ahead of you!

You didn’t want a party for your birthday this year, so we had a few friends come over to celebrate and spend the night. You and your girls had a fun time with lots of little girl giggles. You have some really great friends and you are a positive impact on so many as well. Always be the kind girl you includes everyone and you will never be short on friends. Remember the people you surround yourself with impact your life in a large way. They can take you up or bring you down, so choose wisely.

You are still in ballet and gymnastics and you are awesome in both. You are a graceful ballerina, who can actually keep time, and in gymnastics you can do 6 back handsprings in succession. It is pretty amazing to watch! You are a super student, always trying your best and setting goals for yourself. You are a fabulous big sister, full of love and patience and fun, and you are the best daughter I could have ever hoped for. You will always be on a pedestal in my eyes, Emma. No matter what. That doesn’t mean you’re perfect, and you never have to be, (don’t think that is what I mean), but you are perfect in my eyes because you are mine. My daughter. I pray you always see your worth. I pray you always know what you mean to me. I pray you always remember that there is nothing in this world that is too terrible that with love, family, God, and help you can’t overcome. Always know you can come to me for anything, anytime. I will be here to help, support, cheer, cry, laugh, or anything else the situation needs. I’m here. Always.

To my sweet ten year old, it won’t be long until your wings are ready and you will take flight. I cherish each and every day with you. Let’s make lots of more wonderful memories together!

Much love,

XOXO

Mama

May be an image of person, child, standing and indoor

10 & 11 month old Eleanor

Hey there my sweet Ellie Belle,

Happy 11 months my little darling daughter! I’m combining these last 2 months since I didn’t get an opportunity to write to you last month. Life is busy and you, my dear, keep me hopping! I honestly don’t know how the time gets away where I can’t even find time to blog, but it sure does. Mostly the days are spent fixing you something to eat, fighting you to stay in your high chair, cleaning you, the high chair, and the floor after feeding you, watching every move you make so you don’t hurt yourself, picking up the cat food and water so you don’t spill them, then putting them back down because the cat is meowing about them being put up, holding you while you sleep because you won’t sleep more than 30 minutes by yourself, picking up all the tupperware and various items you’ve dragged out of the cabinets so you can drag them out again, and then I fix you something to eat because it’s already time again, fight you to stay in your high chair, clean you, the high chair, and the floor….you see the pattern don’t you? Rinse and repeat.

You are a fun loving little blast of a baby. You are very curious, very smart, and very much on the move. You began walking already! You took your first real steps at 10 months and 3 weeks after taking a couple here and there. But girl, you are accident prone. You truly need to learn cause and effect (and fast) so we can be spared many bumps, bruises, and tears. I can tell already, you’re the kid who is going to be on the top of the jungle gym and in the trees. I was a tree climber too and spent many of my best days stretching my imagination in the branches of some beloved trees.

I started taking you to the chiropractor to see if it would improve your sleep, so that’s a new experience for you. We began sleep training at the end of December and that’s a new experience for me. It’s not terrible, it’s not great, but we’ve got to get some sleep around here and your mama is at her wit’s end about it. You’re getting the hang of it. I’m the one who needs to be patient with you and not expect overnight miracles.

You really are so fun! If it wasn’t for you, somedays I wonder if we would even laugh, but you are constantly cracking us up with your antics, faces, babbling, and overall cuteness. You are a people person, and we just don’t know how to deal with that since the other 3 of us really aren’t haha. But you love people. You interact with strangers in the stores when out and about. If someone isn’t paying attention to you, you do the cutest head tilt their direction and make sure they look your way. Then you give them the cutest toothy grin. You crinkle your eyes up and you get a little nose crinkle too. You have a little dimple in your right cheek. You are just adorable. And that’s the truth!

And smart! You watch everyone and everything they are doing. You can take lids off markers, unscrew lids off bottles, you understand everything we are saying even if you can’t tell us yet, and you copy behavior (good and bad). You are very vocal, yelling and telling us stories all day long. You make all the sounds except the m, I swear it. I don’t think you’ll ever say mama. Ha! I know there’ll come a day when I wish you’d stop saying mama when you’re driving me nuts. But we’re not there yet, so go ahead and get it out.

You’re my little buddy, my joy, my playmate. We have so much fun playing, dancing, singing, and loving each other. I will love you always and forever, as long as I’m drawing breath. Always know that. Never forget it.

XOXO,

Mama

9 Month old Eleanor

Hey baby girl,

You’ve made the big nine months!!! It goes so fast. For me, anyway.

Life with you is not boring. You keep everything interesting and you keep me on my toes. You have to be watched like a hawk at all times. You have a knack for getting hurt. I mean ALL THE TIME. At least hourly. Please settle down. I cannot handle all the accidents. I do not want a kid who is a frequent flyer in the ER. I honestly can’t. The first time you see me pass out from other people’s trauma, you’ll understand. I’m not cut out for it. And neither is Emma. She’s worse than me. So your best bet is to just get a better handle on your coordination and STOP with the falls, mkay.

Sometimes I do think you’re a bit dramatic, so we’ve been not reacting so quickly to your little bumps and we have noticed that makes a difference. And you’re figuring it all out day by day. You are not nearly as clumsy as you were when you first got mobile and maybe your pain tolerance is increasing after so many crashes. Onward and upward from here!

You are an expert crawler. Fast one too. You pull up and cruise around all furniture pretty adeptly. You’ve gotten brave and have stood alone a handful of times for just a nanosecond. You are a decent climber too. You’ve crawled up on a case of water and stood on it to reach interesting stuff in the pantry and you’ve stood on a toy cash register to make yourself bigger too. That was not going to end well, so I grabbed you off quick.

You have 2 more teeth on top, so 6 total: 4 on top, 2 on bottom. You eat all table foods like us. You are over the baby food completely. Well, you weren’t really ever into it. You like meat. A lot. You go for that over anything else on your tray. You’re an awesome little eater and haven’t refused anything yet. You drink from a cup and a straw. You have a sweet little China tea cup that is all yours. You are still nursing and are a healthy chunka, chunka, burning love as your Grandy referred to you. She called you that and a ‘tub o’ lard’. Tomorrow is your nine month checkup so I’ll update your stats then.

Your sleep is atrocious. Literally the worst. I honestly don’t know how someone (me) can operate on as little sleep for 9 months, but somehow I have. We’ve created the worst habits ever and I just tell myself that “this too shall pass”. I know someday you’ll sleep and I will too. You can remind me of this when you’re a teenager and I’m griping because you’re sleeping too much. Until then we’ll just do the best we can. That’s all we can ever do.

You are headstrong. You throw fits and get so mad at times but you’re also the sweetest little thing too. You have big smiles, and you love to make other people smile too. You love to look at that beautiful baby in the mirror and she smiles right back at you. You are super attached to me, crawling to me to be picked up all the time. You are an affectionate one. We are bosom buddies right now. Where I go, you go.

You celebrated your first Halloween and Oh deer, you were cute! Of course you didn’t get any candy but you didn’t make a stink about it.

I know that there are times I mess up. I get frustrated and angry with you. I’m very sorry for that. You would think I would be better at this than I am, but it has taken me awhile to adjust, and there’s been a lot happening in our lives. When I was a little girl, I thought the grown ups in my life had it all together and knew everything. Now that I’m around the age they would have been, I know they were just trucking along, trying to figure it out day by day. I will never know it all and probably never have it all together either. Just know, I pray every day to be the best mom that I can for you. I love you very much and I only want happiness for you all the days of your life. You are a blessing in this world with great purpose and much love to give and be given. Just keep on being you, sweet one. Mommy loves you!

XOXO

Mommy

A gnome and deer

8 month old Eleanor

My Dearest Little Elly,

This letter is very delayed, as we have lost a very special person to us. Your Grandy, my mom, passed away on October 5, and we buried her on your 8 month birthday October 8th. Your momma has been overwhelmed with sadness, questions, and busyness and although I have never forgotten about you for one second, it has been hard to find the time to write you a letter. Your Grandy called you Elly. She would say I have my Emmy and my Elly and she loved you so, so much. You will grow up not knowing her, but I will try to keep her memory alive for you. She was a spit fire, much like you. She was loud, much like you. She was fearless, much like you. She loved big, and she loved people, much like you. She was so happy you were here. She had prayed for you and prayed for you, that’s what she told me. And in fact, the very last voicemail I have saved from her on my phone, is her calling to check on you when you were sick last month. When you’re older, I’ll show you a video of you and her. I’ll show you a video of when I told her I was pregnant with you. I’ll let you hear her voice as she called to check on you. But for now, we carry on. That’s the cycle of life. We lose life and we gain new life and it is truly a beautiful thing that we experience while we are here on this earth. It’s not something we ever want to think about, but you will experience losing your mom too. Hopefully it will be a long, long, very long time. Having you at my age does make our time together much shorter, it’s just our reality, but we are going to embrace it, live it up, and relish every day we have together! That’s what we’re doing so far and we will keep on finding the happiness, joy and love on this side of Heaven. I’m so happy you are here. You and your sister keep me going. You both are who I live for, and you occupy my mind and my time during this season of grief.

This month, you gained 2 new teeth on top. You learned how to crawl properly. You began eating table food mostly. Your hair sticks straight up and you kinda remind me of a Fraggle, haha. You’ll have to look that up someday. You give the best expressions ever and you are absolutely the cutest! You have the chunkiest little legs and you are healthy and happy, and I think God for that.

You are still such a busy little girl. A full time job. Full of life. You are not afraid to be heard. You let people know what you need. You are observant and very smart. You are a grabby little thing and your dad said you would make a good pickpocket you are so sneaky and fast about it! You are pulling up and trying to navigate around the furniture, but you are so wobbly someone has to be with you constantly. You do not sleep as you must be afraid you’ll miss out on something. You hurt yourself numerous times a day and you must have the hardest head of anybody around by now. God bless you. You’ve taken 2 really big tumbles and you usually have a bruise on your head or face. You are a bit overambitious, trying new stuff before you are ready. You have learned to point your little finger, click your tongue, and now clap and patty cake. You think it’s great to learn new things and you practice them for several days and then just stop and find something else to do. You absolutely love your bath time and when I lay you down, you kick and kick and kick until your face is covered from the splashes jumping up on you. Outside is one of your favorite activities and you are usually very pleasant when you are outside.

You are just a joy, my little love. You will keep me young that’s for sure. You are here for a reason and a purpose and I can’t wait to see who you grow into. I am looking forward to so many fun adventures with you, my darling. New memories are to be made. I love you more than you could ever know.

Love,

Mama

xoxo

7 month old Eleanor

You’ve been blessing our lives for more than 7 months Eleanor and we think you hung the moon! This month has been quite an adventure for you. Unfortunately, you had your first really bad sick spell and got Covid. It really knocked you back for several days and had us very worried. We were all sick and if you weren’t sleeping, you were crying and it was just so, so hard. So hard. I had just decided that was how it was going to be from there on out. That you were a miserable grouch and there wasn’t anything to do but tolerate it. That I would just have an unhappy child who grew into an unhappy adult. I was sure glad I didn’t name you Joy, because you were anything but. You’ve got a real optimistic mom, don’t you? It was the virus, it just zapped us all.

But you finally got over your fever, pulled through the old nasty virus, and lo and behold, a smile reemerged on that sweet face of yours and it hasn’t left it yet. We were all relieved when you turned the corner and it helped us all get better. You have the sweetest smile, and you have the cutest little smirks too. You have a twinkle in your eyes and a mischievous disposition.

You pay attention to everything and are observant to your surroundings, whether it’s watching someone walk through the room, hearing a car pass by while outside, or listening to the clock chime. You usually stop what you are doing to check it all out with your big eyes.

You are not crawling yet; this month has been spent with lots of love and snuggle time, but you sure are wanting to stand up. You are trying your best to grab our legs and pull yourself up and if we are holding you, you are standing in our laps. I can’t wait to watch you grow and learn.

You have the sweetest little laugh that’s more like a cough than a laugh and you are super grabby, taking hold of everything and anything you want before we even know what’s happening. You had your 7 month sticker pulled off and wadded up in your mouth faster than I could say licketysplit. You are starting to eat more and lately are loving avocados and potatoes.

You’re a little busy body, but man we are so glad you are and are so happy to have you back to your old self. I can’t believe you’re already 7 months and these next few months are going to be so fun, I can hardly wait! We love you so very much, little one. Thanks for coming and choosing us!

May be an image of baby and indoor