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

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