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Two.

Dear Hailey Rose,

My sweet baby girl, how is it possible that you are going to be 2 years old in two days?! It feels like I blinked and you are no longer my teeny-tiny baby.

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Me and my precious Hailey Rose

Your first year was a sleep-deprived whirlwind. You always seemed to be learning something new, and you just couldn’t wait to crawl, and then walk, so you could constantly be on the go.

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Ready to take on the world at 4 months old

Now I look at you and I see this beautiful, energetic girl before me. You have had such a big personality since day one.

You love to laugh. One of my favorite sounds in the world is listening to you and your sister laugh. You laugh from deep in your belly. Whether I am making silly faces, reading stories with a funny voice or you are playing with your sister, you just eat it up and laugh and laugh. I can’t get enough.

You love to be on the go. Sometimes in the evenings, after a long day you love to snuggle up with Mommy and a large stack of books and we sit and read. This is one of my favorite times of the day. It is one of the rare times you are still. You are often moving quickly from one activity to the next and are always curious what your big sister is doing.

Hailey on slide

So much love and light in you. 

You love to have a say. This is a polite way of saying you are a bit stubborn. 🙂 But you are my daughter, that’s for sure. You know what you want, and you are determined to get it. And you’re not afraid to tell anyone how you feel. You are fiercely independent, and I just know you are going to charge an amazing path someday.

You love adventure. At least, you love all the dangerous things that you should not be doing, ha. You pretty much have no fear, yet you also stay close. You love to make sure Momma and Daddy are near and that you’ve got our support. I can tell that it means so much to you. And we’ve always got your back, no matter what. We love to see you try new things, and you are always up for an adventure.

You love to be kind. It melts my momma heart when you want to share something with me or your sister. And I pretty much turn to mush when you offer hugs to your sister when she is crying. You offer kindness and empathy, and you want to bring your joy to those around you. My sweet girl, your joy truly is contagious.

Hailey Rose, even though you are no longer a baby, you will always be my baby. Oh, how I love you so. Cheers to you turning two and all of the joy this next year will bring.

With love,

Momma

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Five.

Dear Hannah Kate,

Tomorrow is a big day. It is your birthday! Five. The big F-I-V-E. I can hardly believe how fast the years have flown by.

It’s so cliche but it really is true that time goes so fast. It seems like such a short time ago when I became a momma and met you for the very first time.

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Me and my sweet Hannah Katherine

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So in love.

You have changed so much even in just the past year. You truly are becoming your own person. It has been bittersweet as you have discovered–and asserted–your independence. While it has been trying at times, since you cannot make all of your own decisions, it has also been so wonderful to see the remarkable girl you are becoming.

You are creative. I have so much fun seeing you discover and explore your creative talents. You have an incredible talent for art, and you light up the room with your smile when you dance. You have more talent building Legos than I ever will, and you tell stories and make believe adventures that are so silly and fun to be a part of.

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My beautiful dancer

You are kind. You are always thinking of others, and you want nothing more than to be a good sister, daughter and friend. You are quick to offer help, and I continually see you putting others’ needs before your own.

You are generous. One of the things you do that makes me smile is how you want to share something you enjoy with others. You want to share your art projects or your love of dance. And if you are enjoying a treat, you always want Mommy or Daddy to try some, too. 🙂 You may not always want to share your toys with your sister, but you have a love for her that just melts my heart.

You are filled with empathy. This is a quality that will get you so far in life. You feel what others do. You want nothing more than to be with people who are hurting, to bring your kindness and your love. I see just how much you care for anyone who is having a hard time, and it makes me so proud to see the heart you have for others.

You love fiercely. Oh my heart. You love in such a way that pierces me. It makes me want to be a better mom, a better person. You love me so unconditionally. The “I forgive you, Mommy” when I mess up. The bear hugs and snuggles I get from you every day. The desire to connect, so deeply, with everyone in your life. Your love for God, your family, your church family and your friends at school. To see that in you at such a young age, I am so inspired by your loving kindness. May you never lose this light within you, sweet girl.

I have not been one to dwell in the past and wish for the days that you were a baby. With each stage of your life, I have seen such beauty, experienced so much joy. My beautiful girl, I cannot wait to see what the next year brings.

With love,

Momma

 

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Spoken words.

Dear baby girls,

Some days, you both just make my heart melt.

Hailey Rose, the more vocal you become, the more I just eat up what you have to say. I just love your little inflections and the adorable way you sing the Bumble Bee song. (“It stung me!”)

Here are just a few of the things you’re saying these days.

  • “Other car, other car, other car.” If you see more than one of something, you point each one out and emphatically say “other” in front of it. You can count to two, and notice when there is two of something, but anything beyond that becomes “other” one.
  • Your name. I just love how you say, “Hailey” — you can’t quite say your H’s yet but you’re so sweet when you point to yourself and say your name with your toothy grin.
  • “Nanna, Nanna, Nanna!” Oh, how you love your sister. And you’re always wanting to see her and wondering what she’s doing. Seeing the two of you play together just makes my heart happy.
  • Animal names and noises. There’s something about hearing a toddler say animal noises that just gets me, and you are no exception. Especially since you are very expressive and emphatic, so your loud “BAAAA” and “MOOOO” noises are pretty much my favorite.
  • “I did it! Yay!” Any time you accomplish something, whether stacking blocks or completing a puzzle, you get so excited and exclaim, “I did it!” in this high-pitched squeak. So. Cute. Then you’ll sometimes say, “Yay!” and clap for yourself. 🙂

Hannah Kate, the older you get, the more I see your empathetic heart, which is filled with so much love and kindness for the people around you.

Here are just a few of the things you’ve said lately.

  • “I love your heart. I love how much you love me.” – to Mommy
  • “I love you so much. If you were a kid I would take care of you so well.” – to Daddy
  • “I’m sad that no one wanted to help the train get over the mountain.” – to Mommy, when reading The Little Engine that Could
  • “If you were sad, I would sing to you and make you feel better.” – to Mommy, after I said I loved my old bear from when I was a little girl, and I was sad the music didn’t work anymore in the bear because I used to listen to it when I was sad
  • “You’re the best Mommy in the whoooole world.” – usually said to Mommy at bedtime, preceding or following lots of kisses and hugs
  • Oh, and I can’t forget the blessing at dinner. This is the cutest. It usually involves a large list of “Thank yous” for everyone and everything, ranging from thanking God for our family, for food, for his love, for the whole world, and for making humans. My favorite is when you thank God for “the kids” which are you and Hailey. 🙂

The spoken words from the two of you just fill my Momma heart. Don’t stop speaking, asking lots of questions and sharing your love with your daddy and me.

With love,
Momma

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Almost 18 months.

Dear Hailey Rose,

You are full of so much life and personality these days, and I just can’t get enough. The older you get, the more zest for life you seem to have. Your exuberance brings so much joy to our family.

As you near the 18 month mark, I can’t help but reflect on just how much you’ve changed. As the months fly by, I see you not only becoming your own person, but with each day I also seem to see more of myself in you.

Hailey Rose, you mischievously grin when you know you’re pushing boundaries and testing my limits. You never cease to stop trying to go after what you want. As trying as this can be, your persistence that you get from me is a trait that will carry you a long way someday.

You don’t take no for an answer. Even though your favorite word seems to be “No!” these days, you get upset when Momma and Daddy tell you no because you want to go your own course and are determined to go after it. You get that determination from me.

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You insisted on sitting like a big girl today.

Hailey Rose, I am in love with your tiny curls starting to grow in your short, thick hair. I can tell already you are going to be a blonde girl with lots of wavy hair like your momma.

You babble endlessly. You are speaking so much more these days, and I can’t believe how much you know, from images in books like animals and food to body parts and more. You love to repeat things we say, which is absolutely adorable. Phrases like “uh-oh” and “ta-da” and words like “color” and “please” and “thank you” are just too cute for words. My favorite is your little “grrr” noise you make for just about every animal. You love to chatter, and I am pretty certain you get that from your momma. 🙂

You look up to your big sister. You just love spending time with “Nana” and miss her and are looking for her as soon as she leaves the room. It reminds me of my own childhood and playing with your Auntie Katie. You want to do everything Hannah does (and of course play with all of the same toys). As trying as the moments can be at times, it melts my heart to see the love you have for each other.

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Coloring at the big table just like Hannah.

You love to read. This is my favorite thing to do with you these days. You love to sit with me on the couch with a giant stack of books. Sometimes I will read to you, and sometimes you will name the pictures and sometimes you will point and want me to tell you what I see. I have loved to read for as long as I can remember, and I hope you continue to love reading just like your momma and big sister.

You don’t have the greatest moves, but you sure love to dance. Your signature move is spinning in a circle with your hands straight out at your sides like an airplane. It is hilariously adorable. I’m pretty sure my dance moves aren’t nearly as entertaining to watch.

You love to do just about anything. You always seem to be up for whatever your big sister does, and you want to be a part of what she is doing. You seem to have no fear when it comes to playing and trying new things. You get your sense of adventure from your momma, but I wouldn’t quite call myself fearless, either.

Though it may seem like you are my mini, Hailey Rose, you’ve definitely got your daddy’s playfulness. Roughhousing is near the top of your list of favorite things to do, and your daddy offers plenty of it. Seeing the two of you play and laugh together just fills my heart with so much joy.

I am so filled with love for you my sweet girl; what a whirlwind this past (nearly) 18 months has been. I look forward to the summer, spending lots of time outside and making lots of fun memories together as a family. It’s going to be a blast with you, my little firecracker. 🙂

With love,

Momma

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Attitude is everything.

Dear baby girls,

There really is never a dull moment in our house.

Sometimes, when life hands you lemons you just have to make something resembling lemonade. And sometimes, you just need to have a good cry first.

I never imagined I would be in this position again. Booted up. Parting the sea of toys so I can use my crutches in the living room. Riding a scooter around my office. Depending on other people to help me out. Watching your daddy do everything around the house and feeling helpless and guilty for his exhaustion.

And we’re only a few days in.

For two weeks I’ve been instructed to not walk. And I am in this boot for at least four weeks.

How did this happen, you ask?

Well let me tell you. I don’t do anything small. A simple trip and fall on the stairs led to a pinky toe/metatarsal fracture that has left me pretty helpless.

This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve had three (yes, three) surgeries on my right foot. Two of them were three years ago, when Hannah was about the age Hailey is now.

Mommy and Hannah 17 months

Mommy and Hannah, May 2015

Thankfully, this one doesn’t require surgery. And is on my left foot, so I can at least drive. I’m just wishing it didn’t happen and am frustrated at the situation. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from your daddy, it’s that dwelling in things, feeling guilty, doesn’t change what’s happened. We just need to roll with what life has handed us. Deal with the challenges, face them head on. Learn and grow. Have your moment if you need to and press on.

So on we press. I had my good cry the night it happened. Because I just knew that it was bad. But dwelling in it and feeling guilty about it doesn’t change the situation.

Attitude is everything.

So we make something resembling lemonade.

It means not being afraid to laugh at myself as I ride a scooter around my office. It’s a great conversation starter, let me tell you. It’s made for some entertaining emails and shared meals in the lunchroom.

It means movie nights in Mommy and Daddy’s room where we snuggle up with each other in bed.

It means extra snuggles and extra patience for everyone.

It means an extra helping (or five) of grace for Daddy as he does projects during naptime and hustles for everyone when we are awake.

It means not being afraid to ask for help when I need it. But it also means being mindful and realizing what isn’t really necessary. (Do I really need to drink that third cup of coffee?)

It means pausing and resting. Taking stock of what matters. Enjoying the time with my loves. Even if it is spent mostly laying down with my boot on a pillow. It’s amazing the things I’ve learned can entertain while lying down. We’ve done lots of snuggling and book reading. A visit to the library or bookstore is in our future when I can walk again!

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Hannah sitting next to Momma with a stack of books this morning and reading me books. Melt my heart.

This time is challenging for all of us as we are learning to adapt. But we’ll get through it. It is my hope that you girls see our attitudes and faith as your guide. So that when you face challenges someday, you may be resilient, strong and filled with gratitude in the face of adversity.

Attitude is everything.

I am so very thankful for your daddy and all he does for us. His love language is acts of service, and he sure is doing a lot of that right now. Once I’m back on my feet again, I look forward to planning something special we can do for him as a thank you.

I am looking forward for things to be “normal” again soon. It’s been a long winter and there will be so much to explore this spring and summer.

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March 24 snowfall. Where did spring go?

I am excited for trips to the zoo, park and farmer’s market and setting up the pool in the backyard.

And of course Easter is next weekend! Hannah has picked out her outfit already:

Easter outfit

Hannah was so excited to pick out her outfit for Easter next weekend, down to the yellow barrette with Easter chicks on it. 🙂

As we navigate the crazy of these next couple weeks, in addition to the crazy that is our lives, we know that we’ll get through it together. It’s just all a part of life’s never-ending adventures. Never a dull moment! You girls keep us on our toes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

With love,

Momma

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Stop growing so fast.

Dear baby girls,

Well, it’s official. I am no longer a parent of a baby, but of two little girls.

I’m not sure when it happened, but it feels like I blinked and now I have a toddler and a preschooler.

hannah and hailey

It’s a bittersweet transition as we’ve packed away bottles and baby clothes, but it is also exciting as we see the two of you become best friends. You love to play together, albeit for short periods of time. The bickering over toys and the joys of toddlerhood keep things interesting to say the least. But the moments where the two of you dote on each other, give each other hugs and kisses and play so well together make the hard moments worth it.

At 15 months old, Hailey is into everything. Literally. Discovering all the things you should — and shouldn’t. We keep you from scaling furniture and grabbing everything out of accessible cupboards and drawers. When you’re not keeping busy playing, you love being a big helper. In the morning you will help get yourself dressed (if you’re not running around the room half-naked 🙂 ) and you will grab your shoes, coat, hat and gloves when it’s time to go. This morning you were so confused when we tried to tell you we didn’t need your hat and gloves!

Reading books has become one of Hailey’s favorite activities. You love to grab the books and thumb through them quickly, resting in your “reading seat” or grabbing one and itching to climb up on Mommy or Daddy’s lap to read. It melts my heart to snuggle up with you and read. You’ve learned so much and can point out many objects, from blocks to cars to shoes to your belly and nose. Your favorite words to say these days are “Hi,” “Nana” (Hannah), and “NO!” We couldn’t be more proud. 🙂

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Hailey Rose, your zest for life and joyful attitude fill our hearts with such love.

At 4 years old, Hannah has such a big heart. Your love for your family and friends shines through, and you say the sweetest things these days. From telling me I’m the best mommy in the whole world to saying you want to be a nice mommy just like me someday, you are melting my heart on an almost daily basis. Tonight at bedtime, I hurt my hand. You asked me if I was OK, said you were sorry I got hurt and then wanted to kiss and rub it to make it better. Your kindness and empathy just make me so proud to be your momma.

We do have our moments, however. This age can also be trying as you are becoming more and more independent. Not quite being completely self-sufficient makes certain activities more time consuming than they need to be and more frustrating for you (and let’s be honest, for me a little bit, too). But I love seeing you become your own person. One of your favorite things to do these days is pick out your own clothes, and each day your outfit seems to include a skirt and something pink, your favorite color.

You also love to play games, read and have movie nights with Mommy and Daddy. You crave to learn so much, from spelling words to asking questions about anything and everything. The questions are never-ending, but I love your thirst for knowledge.

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Hannah Kate, you bring such a sweet, kind-hearted and loving presence into our lives, and we couldn’t be more proud of you.

Being momma to both of you girls just fills my heart to the brim each day. You’re growing up so fast, and I am soaking up every minute of it. I wish for time to slow down, and yet at the same time, I look forward to what’s to come.

With love,

Momma

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1 year in: Happy birthday!

Dear Hailey Rose,

One year ago, I went to bed as a momma to one little girl. I eagerly anticipated the next day, knowing I was going to meet you and hold you in my arms in just a few short hours.

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Just two days old!

I had no idea how things would go that day, but I felt a sense of peace going into it. I knew that you would be perfect. And sure enough, one year ago, your heart melted mine. I saw you and fell in love. I knew just how special you are and how much joy you would bring our family.

It has been a long, short year in many ways. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I learned that I was pregnant. When I felt your kicks for the first time, which quickly turned into jabs. Little did I know just how much you love to move!

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4 months old

Since day one, you’ve been active, full of energy and so much life. Joyful is the perfect word to describe you. I just love your smile, and you radiate the joy that is in your heart. You squeal with delight as you play with your big sister and belly laugh as Daddy tosses you in the air and tickles you.

You have always been eager to move, whether rolling over, learning to crawl, sitting up, scooting, cruising around furniture and now finally walking. It’s hard to believe you were a tiny baby who slept most of the day.

It feels like not long ago when I was on maternity leave, sharing snuggles with you all day long while binge-watching Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights and Parks and Rec on Netflix. I soaked up those days (and also enjoyed the good nights of sleep while they lasted).

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9 months old

I didn’t expect some of the sleep deprivation challenges we faced, and I didn’t expect the chaos that is balancing working mom life with being mom to two girls. But you know what else? I didn’t expect to fall so deeply in love. With you. With how you love each of us. With our new dynamic as a family.

Though we have had our challenges, it has really made me grateful for our family. I love our time together and the love we have for one another. We’ve created some great memories this past year, and I look forward to so many more.

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1 year old

This quote from C.S. Lewis is so true: “Isn’t it funny how day by day, nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?”

Everything is different. Life is crazy. And it is beautiful. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

With love,

Momma