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

Eleanor Beth 4 months

Hey Eleanor Beth!!!!

Happy 4 months to you my precious second born baby girl! Time is flying by and you are keeping your mama very busy. Wow, what a game changer you have been in our lives….in the best way possible. Sometimes in life you can’t really know what you’re missing or how badly you might need something (or someone) until they come crying into the world on a cold Monday morning in February. You were born smack dab during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the whole world to lose their minds. You were a scheduled C-Section and due to hospital protocols, your daddy wasn’t going to be able to be in the OR and was going to have to watch your birth via IPAD from the hospital room. But just a few days before you were scheduled to be born, they pulled that requirement and he was able to be right by my side and there when you sounded your first cry. The doctor pulled you out and said “We have a strong one”, but I already knew that! You had been a mover and a shaker inside me the entire pregnancy and you have not stopped since. As a matter of fact, at your 20 week scan, the technicians remarked right away that you were going to be a hard one to take pictures of. During the scan, you were all over the place. You are a very active baby, super alert, always looking around with those big eyes, which by the way are a bizarre color right now. They started out as a dark gray and are just now beginning to get some more color to them. I’m sure you’ll be a brown eyed beauty, but time will tell. They might be hazel, or an lighter shade of brown.

Your hair is dark, and very short! You lost most of your hair in the past few months and were a cute little baldie for a while. Now, it’s beginning to fuzz back out, and it looks like it may have a bit of auburn to it. You have skin as white as cream. My first reaction to you was that I couldn’t believe how white you were! And still are. Your grandy said she wants to call you Snow and asked if that was okay. I told her it was a lot better than tub o’ lard which she had just called you minutes before. You are not a tiny thing anymore. You were just a little sprite when you were born at 6 lbs 12 oz. Everyone remarked about how tiny you were. You looked like a little baby doll with the most perfect head and creamy white skin, sleeping soundly most of the time with your little eyelashes resting on your cheeks, but boy did you catch up quick. I think you’re weighing in around 14 pounds right now, wearing 3-6 months, which is just perfect! Shortly after birth, we discovered that you had a tongue tie so you had that corrected at 3 weeks old. Immediately afterwards, you found your voice and haven’t stopped hollering since. Another nickname you affectionately have been given by me is Yellin’ Ellen. Oh man, you love to talk. You coo, sing, growl, yell, and loudly at that! You are so happy most of the time. You are all smiles to everyone, and you have begun to laugh and giggle. No one can get you to laugh as much as your sister Emma Kate. Sometime all it takes is a look, and your eyes crinkle up and out comes a great giggle.

What are you up to these days? Let’s see. You rolled over a few times from tummy to back and then decided that wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and haven’t rolled since. You love to work your legs though and try to stand with help of course, whenever someone is holding you. You suck on your hands all the time and you’re beginning to love that thumb a little too much. The binky is not your favorite and you thrust it right out. You have begun rolling on your side when your on your back. You can hold onto things for a little while before dropping them and are starting to just reach for things some. You love your bath and lying on your changing pad. You can end up nearly across the room when lying on the floor on your back. You arch your back and straighten your legs and scoot backwards a pretty good distance. And you have a remarkable talent of pooping right when it’s time to leave to go somewhere and I’m running late already.

You have many nicknames. So don’t you dare get in trouble with the law, because your aliases will take up most of your rap sheet. Some people call you Eleanor or Ellie or Ella or Ellie B. Grandy wants to call you Snow. A friend of Emma’s wants to call you Little Fawn because your birthmark on your forehead is shaped like a deer head. Sometimes you just go by Baby, and I like to call you Joy. You are the joy in our life, the joy in our hearts, you are bringing Joy to everyone around you and you are filled with Joy. You are heaven sent, little one, there is no doubt that God is playing a hand in this one. You arrived to us after 2 miscarriages and at the ripe old ages of 45 and 47. You are nothing short of a miracle. I may not know your purpose for coming. I may not ever know your reason for joining us, but we are so joyfully blessed to have you and are loving every loud, active second we spend with you!

This was a lot to cover I know. There is probably not many things stronger than mom guilt and I have felt real bad that I haven’t written a letter to you yet, like I did Emma. I wrote each month of her first year and then every year after that on her birthday, up until this year, since I was eleven days shy of birthing you, and I found myself not doing what I’d intended to do. You see, I was the fourth born of four kids and I know what’s it’s like to have an empty baby book. So even though as your mom, I will fail you many times, please don’t ever ever equate my failure with a lack of love for you. You are loved more than you can ever know.

We have an unspoken agreement that you may not be aware of yet. And that, dear one, is that you’ve got to go easy on your old mom. I can’t wait for our fun and adventures and each day I get to spend loving you!

XOXO,

Mommy

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

 

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, ocean, outdoor, nature and water

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

IMG_8603

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.

IMG_1035

Another birthday in the books.

IMG_1054IMG_1055IMG_1056IMG_1057IMG_1058IMG_1059IMG_1060

On Your 6th Birthday

My dearest Emma,

You are now six years old.  This year has been a whirlwind.  Heck, your whole life has been a whirlwind. How is it that you were so tiny just a little bit ago? A little bundle. It seems so far away, and at the same time, it feels like yesterday.

You want to be so big. We have a measuring chart hanging in our house and sometimes you check to see if you’ve grown everyday. You got your first big girl haircut, cutting your  waist long hair up around your shoulders. You just lost your first tooth, and already have another one a’wigglin’.  You want your ears pierced so badly, but your daddy is hesitant, so we’re putting you off a while longer. Just slow down a bit, kiddo. It goes so fast. We have time. We have time. There’s one thing, though. You still let me hold you. Every morning, you sit in my lap and let the sleep fade away in the dark morning. I love it so much.

You are the smartest kid. I am constantly amazed at your reasoning. You are sensitive and logical, also a bit melodramatic at times.  I might add you have a tad bit of a little temper. It’s not a good thing to have. Learn to control it and you’ll save yourself a whole lot of trouble down the road. You are witty and funny. You love a good joke and you think practical jokes are the funniest! We often find our bathroom toiletries all rearranged or your dad will find something you’ve stuck in his boot. You act silly and dance around the house unashamedly moving and grooving.

You are a pure joy. We have so many laughs and so many good times together. My favorite is when you say “I love you so much! You’re the best mommy in the world.” You have no idea how much I love you, Emma. You’re the best girl in the whole wide world!

XOXO,

Mama

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and indoor

 

1st Lost Tooth Chronicles

I’m almost certain my daughter’s front bottom tooth was flopping around in her mouth longer than 5 year old’s teeth are supposed to flop. Seriously, I lost track of time, but it began to wiggle weeks ago, months even. We predicted when it would come out, yet all predictions, Thanksgiving, and Christmas passed. Still the tooth hung in. Lingering.

At Christmas time, her uncle peered in and noticed her new tooth was growing in behind it. “Let’s pull it.” We pleaded. “No!” she protested.

Days passed, weeks passed, still it hung in. She hung tight. We hung on.

Worry reared its head. What if something is wrong?

I had to search The Google, as this was unlike anything I’d heard of.  Of course, I was reassured that it is common for a tooth to grow behind, and is coined shark teeth. I was reassured that the tooth will come out, and only in some cases, a dentist visit would be required.

“Let’s pull it,” we pleaded. “No!” she protested.

Days and weeks passed. I noticed she started taking bites with her side teeth rather than her front. The tooth began to flop. It noticeably moved when she talked. A gap began to grow.

Tuesday, she ran to the car from the bus stop yelling about how she lost her tooth. Around her neck was a string and a plastic tooth that unhinged and opened up. A tooth locket. The school had given her this necklace to store her treasured tooth. However, she literally lost her tooth. She said it’s somewhere in the gym. Naturally, she had a bit of a crying jag at school about it, but she was going to write the tooth fairy a note, to make sure she knew.

She said she hoped the tooth fairy gives her a dollar and 3 pennies. I said that was a pretty good deal, considering there’s no real tooth for the fairy to have.

These are the memories I will cherish. Gappy smiles. Snaggle-toothed grins. Tooth fairy magic. Wonderment. Innocence and a buck o three.

 

A Daughter’s Love

Last night, way past a normal bedtime for a 5 year old, my little EK and I were snuggling in. Saying our prayers and our I love yous. When suddenly she said, “I’m probably going to forget you when I grow up.” Why, I asked. Why would you forget me? She answered because she would be all grown up. I tried to explain to her that girls don’t forget their mothers, while believing this with all my heart, but also hopefully convincing her that she wouldn’t forget me, that she couldn’t forget me. My momma heart felt a moment of fear and heartache at the thought that my time with her was limited, that some day it would end. Which of course it will, but not by forgetting. Never by forgetting.

In my convincing, I tried to explain in the best way I could that I’m all grown up and I haven’t forgotten my mom and even my mom hasn’t forgotten her mom. And I desperately explained how when she was all grown up we would talk on the phone and visit one another if she moved away. That we could text on cell phones and take trips together. My mind was a flurry of all the grown up things we will do. In my vision, I was hanging on to her grown up self by a thread, knowing that it could so easily snap in an instant with her own life, her husband, her family, her busyness.

We were lying on our sides in an embrace, our noses practically touching. She said if she lived next door, I could just come over and visit. That thought gave me some relief. Yes, next door. That sounds wonderful. Then I said what all mom’s say at some time to their sweet preschoolers, yet to become tumultuous, unruly teenagers. “And you don’t ever have to move out, anyway. You can live with me forever.” I’m sure some day I will try to cram these words back down my throat, claiming I’ve never uttered them. But for now, the thought of her leaving, even to live next door is more than I can handle.

Then that sweet girl, with her big brown eyes, and her little mind that works all the time said. “And when you die, I’ll bury you in my front yard, so I can visit you all the time.”

I didn’t even know how to react to this. It is at the same time both very loving and yet bizarrely disturbing. So we said our good nights and our I love yous and I realized once again how immense love is.