6 month old Eleanor

Dearest Little El–

You are now six months old! What fun you are! You are growing by leaps and bounds too. At your doctor’s appointment, here were your stats: you weighed in at 16 lbs 13 oz. They said that is about the 70th percentile in weight. And you measured 27 inches long. You know what they said? They said you were kind of tall. That you are in the 90th percentile for height. I laughed and asked them if they have seen your parents? I’m really feeling there was an error here somewhere, but I’ve been wrong before. If you turn out tall, it will be an unexpected surprise for sure! Time will tell, and you are uniquely you.

No matter, you are truly perfect in every way and are bringing everyone around you such joy. You went on a trip this month. It was your first really long car ride. You didn’t really love traveling and got awfully tired of your car seat. We went to visit your aunt, uncle and cousins up in Farmington NM. We took a little trip to Durango, CO where you took your first hike in the mountains. You absolutely loved that mountain air and the beauty around you, especially when you got out of the carrier and rode on your dad’s shoulders. You like it when you are bigger than everyone. You do love outside, that’s for sure. Each day we go out and sit in the shade so you can watch the world moving around you. You also made your first visit to the waterpark with your sister and some friends. It was fun to sit in the kiddie pool and let you splash. Next year, I might not be able to keep up. You do enjoy the water and bath time is one of your favorite activities.

What else is new with you? You have 2 pearly whites on the bottom, you are sitting alone, you are scooching backwards when you are on your tummy and turning a full 360 learning to move around. Crawling is right around the corner. You love to stand up so we got you one of those Johnny Jumparoo things that hang in the doorway. You jump and jump and jump in that thing. We also put you in a walker since you love to stand and you jump in that too. You just might be part jackrabbit.

This isn’t new, but you truly love your hands. You have the cutest mannerisms of holding onto your left thumb or putting your thumb down on a surface and twisting your hand back and forth, you bite the tip of your little thumb, press your little thumbs together, and this isn’t new, but you are practicing your pageant wave. It is so cute how you wave at everything and everyone! Side to side, like a little beauty queen. You reach, grab, hold, and pull on everything. Your hands work hard all day long.

You get really excited for your books and this makes your momma’s heart happy, because I love books too! I am trying to raise you as a reader because the sky is the limit then. You love when I sing Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill, one named Jack and one named Jill. Fly away Jack, Fly away Jill. Come back Jack, come back Jill. Sometimes you use your little sweet fingers and fly them away too. You are trying out new foods now. You like dinnertime with the family and are learning how to open up and we are practicing drinking from a glass, which is not going so well I might add. But you’ll get it! You are enjoying pumpkin, squash, and bananas the most for now.

Your hair still stands straight up in a fuzzy little halo and is the most darling, comical thing I’ve ever seen. You are just a doll baby and are a happy girl. You laugh out loud and smile. You have a funny sense of humor and aren’t a bit inhibited in your movements or your voice at all. You like to move and you like to be heard. You talk, yell, and cry loudly. You are a little busy body and you love life while learning and exploring all the things your body can do and the world around you.

You are loved so much. The English language does not hold the words adequate enough to express how loved you are by your family. You are keeping us on our toes and reminding us about fun. Emma said you are discovering goofball island (from the movie Inside Out). It’s a fun place to visit. We needed you to take us there again. It’s good for us. You are good for us. We are so glad you are here!

Much love until next month,

XOXO

Mommy

Eleanor Beth 5 months old!

Dear Ella Beth,

Another month has come and gone and you are still fabulous! Listen kid, time is flying. I will tell you from experience, that most of your life, it will seem like the seconds, hours, months, and even years are passing at a snail’s pace, but when you get to be my age, you better hold on to your hat because there is no holding on to time. It is a beautiful thing actually, and such a gift. Some people say time is a thief. But don’t believe that. It is really how you look at it. Just cherish each moment that you are given, sweet girl. Make memories and recognize that beauty is in the everyday, ordinary doings of life.

We sure are cherishing each moment with you because we know how quickly you grow, and growing you are! You are a bundle of JOY! You smile at practically everyone, and laugh very easily. I have the feeling you already love life and I hope you always will! You are not always sunshine and unicorns, though. You can flip a switch and be as mad as the dickens and we’re usually caught saying “what happened?” There’s also times, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Like when we lay you down and you don’t want to be put down, so you start to cry, and then you see our face and it makes you happy, so you start to laugh and then it’s all very confusing to you. Emotions can be tricky. And you have some big ones already. You also have a very serious face you wear, and it seems like you are always thinking. You are a very observant baby, watching and looking and studying.

You really enjoy outside, and the weather is so nice this summer that we spend a lot of time out there. I take your little bouncer seat out and set it under the oak tree in the backyard. You love to watch the leaves dance in the breeze and you study the shadows jumping around. Some of your other favorite activities are your bath where you splash and play and get a little bit out of control at times, and you love to lay on your changing pad and get your diaper changed. It’s like your happy place.

You’re super cute too! Most people say you look like your daddy. Your eyes are definitely turning brown and your hair is the best! It is fuzzy and super short and you look like a model for a 4 year old’s drawing. The way they just put a bunch of spikes on top of the head for the hair. That’s how you look! You even have about 3 longer hairs right up on top that love to stand at attention. It’s adorable.

This month you found your little piggies and they are so fascinating to you and you learned to roll from back to tummy. But you can’t get yourself back the other way yet. It’s a little bit out of order, but you go ahead and do it your way baby girl! You are wanting to get places on your tummy and your using your legs and pushing off to try to get going. You are practicing sitting up with support and can sometimes last as long as a bull rider, the one who drew the rankest bull out there. All these skills are keeping you busy, but not enough to wear you out. You still think sleep is overrated, and you love to nap for about 30-40 minutes and then you’re ready to go again. We won’t even talk about nighttime sleep. Let’s just say it’s not your favorite. I have to remind myself that “this too shall pass”. That’s good advice about a lot of situations in life, sweet girl, so remember that!

You’re doing big things, baby! We love you so much and are so very happy you are here reminding us how precious time is and how BIG love can be!

xoxo,

Mama

Finding Gratitude in Challenging Times

Many years ago, back when I had cable TV and I liked Oprah Winfrey, she had a guest on her show who first introduced me to the idea of a gratitude journal. I can’t remember why I jumped onboard with that, probably the guest said it would change my life and it did. I quickly found a nice little hardbound journal that was given to me as a college graduation gift (I did say it was many years ago) which remained blank, so I began each day to write down 3-5 things I was grateful for. My gratitude journal has been such a meaningful part of my sanity, growth, and getting me through difficult times, that I feel that the practice may benefit you as well.

We are certainly going through difficult times as humankind right now, and if you are feeling any amount of anxiety, worry, fear, or stress, I honestly believe getting a nice journal to begin this process of appreciation will help you get through it. And we will get through it. We ARE getting through it.

I have attempted to keep a gratitude journal throughout my life. Of course, my energy towards it wanes and surges, but I use it as one of my coping methods in the very hard times. I have filled up a few journals with basically lists of goodness in my life.

What has this accomplished for me?
1. It has forced me to look for the silver lining in the midst of the storms of life.
2. It makes me feel better. Instantly my mood improves. We cannot think of two things at once. We are either thinking of something good or something bad, but not both at the same time. Try it. You can only focus on one or the other.
3. It is a blessing to look back over the years and see how far I’ve come, and to remember special times and people.
4. It gets my mind off things I have no control over and helps me revisit how blessed I am.

When you first begin, it’s super easy. We all start with the  big things we can think of. Our family, our health, our religion, etc. And that’s fine. The more days you do it, it forces you to dig deep. You begin to live in a posture of appreciating.  Instead of thinking of general ideas, you begin to get very specific and will find that all day long,  you are appreciating your experiences and the people you are surrounded by.

When I look back over my old journals, I find a menagerie of things. For example, I am grateful that I am in control of my own feelings and thoughts. Or, I am grateful to have the ability to put together a meal without a recipe. For Ashlynn improving in her driving. When I look back into my very first Gratitude Journal in 1998, it says things like I am grateful for $50 my mom gave me to clean the house. Or, the job I applied for today. It is humbling and refreshing to read them all. For being able to visit my 6th grade Sunday school kids. In 2009, I wrote I am grateful for getting the bathroom redone. Free time to read and relax. Having money to tithe.

There are pages and pages filled and I could get lost retracing the steps of my life. But automatically I feel better. I mean right now. Finding those examples for you has caused me to realize how very blessed I am.

I encourage you to try this for yourself. Get yourself a nice journal, something that makes you smile. Journals always make me smile, anyone else? Set aside a time each day that you will write down 3-5 things to appreciate in your life. Do it for 30 days. Watch your life change!

In Philipians 4:8, we are told to think on the good things, y’all.  I would bet it is taught in all religions/spiritual circles in some form or fashion. What better way than to do so in a gratitude journal everyday? So go count your blessings, name them one by one. Leave me a comment if you plan on doing it or already do this. I would love to hear from you.

Here’s my 5 today if you need a tee off:
I am grateful:

  • For sitting outside and feeling the sun on my face and hearing the birdsong.
  • For healthy meals I can prepare and the abundance of food
  • For the promise of new beginnings as I watch spring unfold before my eyes
  • For the ability to work remotely.
  • For the bond of human connection.

 

 

A Letter to My Daughter on Her 8th Birthday

My Dearest Emma Kate,

Another year has come and gone and it’s all I can do to to keep my head from spinning. I can’t help but realize that we only have 10 more to go before you strap on your wings and soar.

I read one of the most profound statements that said something along the lines of, “the greatest tragedy of motherhood is for her to love her children so much, that she must teach them to not need her.” That wasn’t it exactly, but it was very close, albeit, expressed much better than that. But in essence, that’s what we’re doing, you and I. I am trying my best to allow you to grow independent of me. I want that very much for you and at the same time, I don’t want that at all. What a paradox it is.

For eight years you have been the light of my life, the sun my world revolves around. “They”, you know who they are…..the so called experts…..say it isn’t healthy to make your child the center of your universe, but I can’t see how knowing you are the Big Kahuna in my life could be bad for you. You are my greatest work. Like Charlotte when she referred to her egg sac, My Magnum Opus. You, quite possibly, could be my purpose on this earth. When I think of my purpose, I imagine I should do something outstanding. Something that could impact mankind. It’s very possible that you are my something outstanding. You are to me, anyway.

I often remember our past. The last few years that have gone by in a blink. It is fun to watch videos of us and see photos and remember the feelings of fun and curiosity and growth that enveloped that time.

I often think of our future together. The trips we’ll take and the experiences we are to share. I hope we always have a strong relationship and that you can come to me for anything knowing I will always love you, no matter what.

I try very hard to just be present in our present. This is all we have. I find myself getting through “tasks” just to move on to the next “task”, when I should be relishing our moments.

At eight years old, here’s how you are: you are nice to be around, simply put. You have a great wit to you.  You are generally always in a good mood. You are not demanding or pouty in any way. You are curious beyond anything I’ve ever known and I have been exposed to more random, useless facts because of you. Your dad and I call you Cliff Clavin (look it up) and just shake our heads with your sudden announcements of “Did you know………”. You love learning, like you always have, and you are very interested in maps and places, as well as science. As long as the science doesn’t involve the body. Anything bodily gives you the willies and causes some sort of physical discomfort for you to read or hear about it.  You must get it from your Grandy, who can’t stand anything gross. Or maybe from me a little bit too, as I’ve nearly fainted at the sight of blood before. It’s actually quite hilarious how just reading The Magic School Bus Inside the Body makes your hips hurt. I’ve known all along that you weren’t possibly cut out for a career in medicine, when as a toddler you used to gag at the smell of your own poop!

You are mostly quiet still– unless you’re around your parents–an observer of people and things, who doesn’t like the spotlight or to be the center of attention. You still enjoy dance and gymnastics, but you’re not afraid to stay at home and do nothing either. You are fiercely independent, but never rude. You are truly the greatest kid. Your dad and I say it often. “She’s such a great kid.” I’m super proud of you and always will be. May you be surrounded by goodness and love and guidance all the days, my dear sweet child. You are loved.

Love,

Mama
XOXO

 

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Ordinary, yet precious


Life is made of moments. Many are magical. Most are merely mundane.

Ordinary life. But within every second of mundane and ordinary, lies the power. The power to be present. The power to choose your words carefully. The opportunity to connect with others. The opportunity to love, show love, and be love. All we really have is this moment.

Life is made of moments. Some day, the moments will only be memories. Time is precious and people are precious and that’s really all we need to know. Treat both as such.

Be Careful Little Eyes

I weigh myself daily. I record my weight in a journal everyday. This is before I have a sip of water or a cup of coffee. This is right after I’ve gone to the bathroom to ensure I weigh as little as possible. This is before I read my daily affirmation on my calendar. This is before I wake my daughter for school. This is my routine. Everyday.

I’ve never thought much about this, until I found a little blue sticky note, where in pencil in a child’s hand my daughter had recorded her weight twice. My seven year old. My heart sank with the realization that my seven year old is concerned about her weight. But in today’s society, it wouldn’t be unheard of. In a home where her mother is weight conscious, it’s not a bit surprising either. If we don’t think for one second our kids are watching our every move, we are fools. We are being watched, listened to, and even more important to note, we are being imitated.

I chart my weight in order to stay on top of it because if I don’t, it can easily get out of control. Would I like to lose weight? Sure would. But I try to be very careful what I say around my kid that is weight related. When I was a kid, my mom always said she was fat. So I thought she was fat, because kids have this trusting tendency to believe everything grownups tell them. Right or wrong. When I see pictures of my mom from my childhood (very few), she is not fat at all. She’s just regular. An average mom who thought she was fat. So I get that, I really do. I don’t want to pass that one on. So I am cautious to not speak of myself as fat or turn my nose up at myself in the mirror with a  big UGH.

We know how society is affecting our young children, especially girls, with its supermodels, photoshopped pictures and airbrushed glossy magazine covers. That’s all true.  My mind was put at ease when I learned that my daughter is tracking her weight because she is wanting to gain weight so she can outgrow her booster seat. Isn’t that just like a kid, trying to grow up before their time?

But this sticky note put a lot of thoughts in motion for me. It gave me an opportunity to  pause a moment and look hard at myself. My words. My actions. Our kids are living in the world we create for them. What are they seeing? What are they hearing? What are they imitating?

Do they see us lash out at the people we profess to love the most after a hard day at work? Do they see us lose our temper and hear us curse? Do they see our frustrations and road rage? Do they hear us complain about everything….the service, they traffic, the wait, the co-workers, the teachers, the bills. Do they listen to us gossiping with friends and making fun of others? Do they see us give money to the man with the cardboard sign? Do they hear us apologize when we’re wrong, and sometimes, we are. Do they hear us compliment a stranger’s shoes or see us drop what we’re doing to a lend a helping hand? Do they see us staring at our phone at every red light or line we wait in? Do they see us praising God, even in hard times, and down on our knees in prayer?

This little blue sticky note in my child’s handwriting was a huge Note to Self. It reminded me of how powerful my influence is on those around me. Not just kids, but most importantly kids. Most importantly this one kid. Remember I said she was sleeping when I do my weighing and charting? Well, not every time obviously. There are times she’s watching. And listening. And imitating.

So are others.

Never underestimate the power you have. You can have such an important impact on others. You may not think your words and actions are making a difference, but they are. You make a difference. Make sure it’s a good one.

Cheers to 7 Years

My Dearest Emma Kate,

Happy 7th birthday, my precious darling child! When you were born, I got a lot of advice.  I didn’t ask for it, by the way, but sometimes people just like to give it. One of the most common things I heard was “Don’t blink. They grow up so fast.” I’m sure I’ve already given this advice out to new moms and if I haven’t, I’m sure I will. It is the God honest truth. There is nothing truer in this world than how fast time flies. How in the world has seven years passed already?

It makes me sad sometimes. You’re infancy, toddlerhood, and now half of your childhood is just a memory. Well cherished.  You are a ray of sunshine everyday to me. Rod Stewart (I know you’ve never heard of him, and I should change that) says, “You fill my heart with gladness. You take aways all my sadness. You ease my troubles, that’s what you do).

This birthday, you asked for a glitter water bottle, pink hair extensions, a doll from Hobby Lobby named Emma “who looks just like me!” and a Rubix cube. You lost your third tooth this week. It’s a top one and you look so funny. Sorry kid, but you do. You were so excited to lose it before you turned seven. And your toothless grin makes me smile! You are a little prankster and you love to trick me and your dad. Of course, we never fall for it, but we act like we do. You’ll get this someday when you’re playing dumb for your kids, too. You love to play games. You give the best squeezes. Right now you are over the moon about llamas! You want everything llama themed, from your toothbrush to your bedroom.  So naturally, we had a llama birthday party! You wanted to go to the Plaza and have them sing happy birthday, so we managed that too! You truly don’t ask for much, and you are just happy and content no matter what.

51223912_10219215884014754_175594532396597248_nYou love your family and gymnastics so much! You really are passionate about that. You set goals for yourself, and you are hoping to get first place at one of your gymnastics meets. I’m proud of you for striving, but please always know it is not what you do that matters. You matter, already. No matter what you do or don’t do. You are loved, you are adored, you are worthy, you are deserving. You don’t ever, ever, ever have to earn love. You are loved. You are love. We will always love you. I know you’re going to grow so fast. I cherish the days I have with you. I try to see the world through your eyes. It’s hard, because grown ups have lost that childlike joy, imagination, and wonder. But you keep it alive in our house. Even when we’re tired and don’t want to play or imagine, you make us and it’s good for us. You love to wrestle with your dad and you love to snuggle with your mom. You are our gift. I mean that. I don’t know where we would be without you, but it would never be as grand and wonderful as where we are today. May you always know how much you’re loved and may you love life, always!

I love you more than you can ever understand,

XOXO
Mama

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Love in My Lap

IMG_2849.JPGThe clock is a kill-joy on mornings like today. Mornings when my baby girl is so warm and snuggled up against me, her breathing heavy and full, a half-snore.

Mornings come so early for us, and bedtimes don’t always come easily. It’s hard to rub the sleepies from our eyes some days, and this morning was no exception.

I am on the countdown to summer break, for both of us. Well for all of us. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to find our cat marking X’s on the calendar, if she only had opposable thumbs. I think she’s on the countdown too. She knows that soon we can sit like this all morning if we want to. We probably will. I love her soothing purrs and EK’s half snores.

It’s no secret that my baby isn’t a baby anymore. But I will carry her from her bed to the recliner as long as she reaches her arms around my neck and snuggles her face into my neck each sleepy morning. I will carry her as long as I have strength to do so. I will hold her in my lap as long as she curls up in it. I will breathe in the smell of her hair and kiss her little head for as many days as possible.

I believe that the gift of being an older mom is knowing in my heart how fleeting the days are. I may not be young and hip. I may occasionally get mistaken for her grandmother. I may be old-fashioned and a bit of a stick in the mud. I may get tired soon after playing shadow tag, but I am sure of one thing. I am not foolish enough to believe that these moments will last.

When you get to a certain age, you start looking back. Here I am, halfway through life (not positive, but realistically yes, but gosh that’s hard to think about) and it went by in a blink. Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. I remember a younger time when it felt like days dragged on and waiting for something to come seemed to take an eternity. Like graduation or a wedding day. Even summer breaks felt long when I was a youngster. I remember a younger me full of goals and dreams, rushing through days, not living in the present but taking every day for granted, the next would come and I would wash and repeat. Can you relate?

Not anymore. Now me and J-Dub look at the clock in the evenings and can’t believe it’s 8 pm already. Where does all the time go? It flies. That’s the truth.

The clock that hangs on my wall was a gift from my dad. I remember my 25th birthday when he gave it to me. I remember the 25 year old who was cute and hip and took everyday for granted. She could probably play shadow tag for hours. The clock chimes on the hour. I try to have EK ready before 7 bells each day, but today we sat a little longer. I relished the seconds that passed. I attempted to slow down time. I did not want them to end. I felt such joy and love. But the clock chimed our reminder that time is passing; slowly for some, much more quickly for others.

I nudged her awake, stirred the cat, and began the day with a heart of pure gratitude for the love I hold in my lap each morning.

 

Emma’s 6th Birthday Party—emoji

I’m running so far behind, I’m not sure I’m coming or going.

Three weeks ago, we celebrated our little one’s sixth birthday and I have yet to document this momentous event with pictures.

This time, I did it differently. The first five of her birthdays, we have celebrated at home with friends in an old fashioned birthday party. I’m a bit old fashioned actually and I have learned that when having big parties and renting out places, serving 3 decker cakes, and having lots of hoopla, this only gets harder the older they get. So, we have celebrated at home, with homemade cupcakes and games.

And now here comes the BUT.

But this year…….

She wanted to have her party at the gymnastics center. If you’ve been paying any bit of attention, you’ll know that she is crazy about emojis right now. So of course, it had to be an emoji party. She has pined over other little girls’ fancy, two layer cakes and asked if she could have a big cake. So, I bit the bullet and went with it, no matter how much it went against my grain.

Who’s to say my grain’s going the right direction, anyway?

It was a ton of fun, very stress free for me, and dare I say…..easy.

The kids got to jump, run, swing, balance, and hang like monkeys.

I even did my part by making some “poop” cupcakes. Of course, Emma helped.

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Another birthday in the books.

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1 year down, 13 more to go

My baby girl, my only child has completed her Pre-K year. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

I know, I know, it’s a little silly when you think about being proud of completing pre-k, right? It’s not like she wrote research papers or received an associate degree while taking high school classes or worked a part-time job and maintained the A Honor Roll, or that she’s off to some Ivy League School. Like what did she really do that I should be so proud? Well, I’ll tell you what she did first and foremost. She blossomed! She blossomed and learned in so many different areas! That’s why I’m proud.

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Just look at those pictures!  Just look at them.

You might not be able to tell, but she grew an inch and gained 5 pounds too!

The little buttercup went from being mostly shy and timid to outgoing and confident. Granted, she still gets a little nervous talking to people, but at least she’s not hiding behind my legs anymore. As much, anyway.  That’s why I’m proud.

Of course she learned lots of academic type of things. She can read several words and a few little books, she has great number sense, and a lot of common sense as well. She tries her best at everything she does and wants to succeed. She is responsible and superb! That’s why I’m proud.

She also did big 5-year-old things this year, like learning to tie her shoes and fix her own hair, which might look a fright most of the time, but she does it herself and her independence and self-confidence is more important in the big scheme of things than a perfect hair-do.  She also decided that she can put herself to bed and sleep alone. But every 4th night, I can still sleep with her. She’s growing up independent and confident. That’s why I’m proud.

She worked so hard in both her dance and gymnastics classes and more importantly had fun doing it. She can swing herself on the swings with just one push to get her started, and cross the monkey bars by herself. She is learning that hard work pays off and  practice does make almost-perfect. She is learning that things may be hard at first, but not to give up, keep on trying and eventually you’ll get there. That’s why I’m proud.

She is good and kind and thoughtful which is the most important aspects I would like her to develop in her years of learning.  I want her to know that it is better to be a friend to someone who needs one, than to fit in with the “in-crowd”. I want her to know that not everything is going to come easy, but she’ll never be disappointed in herself for knowing she gave it her all. She learned more this year of the important stuff than she might learn her entire academic career. Her foundation is laid.

These next 13 years are going to fly by. I know that all too well. It may be that some day she’ll be off to an Ivy League School, or maybe she’ll backpack across Europe. As long as she stays true to herself and discovers happiness in her journeys is my heart’s desire for her. It may seem silly to you that I write these milestones down, but I know my memories won’t always be as clear and I want to remember it all: every little accomplishment, every single stepping stone on her path to wherever she is heading.

She is such a joy, and I am so very proud to call her mine.