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Welcome, Hailey Rose!

Dear baby girl,

You are here!

After 39 weeks of expectantly and eagerly waiting for your arrival, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect little angel. Our beautiful Hailey Rose is here!

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Our beautiful Hailey Rose

We couldn’t have planned for a more seamless labor and delivery process. My doctor gave me the option to be induced a week early, so I took it. I worked right up until the day before you came, and early in the morning 18 days ago your daddy drove me to the hospital. We dropped your big sister off at daycare on our way, and she was excited that her baby sister would be joining our family later that day!

I was originally planning to deliver at the same hospital your sister was born at, but they called the day before and asked if I would be willing to deliver at a different hospital or wait to be induced until the following week. I was SO ready for your arrival that I didn’t hesitate to switch locations.

We checked in to Methodist West shortly before 7:30 am. The hospital was peaceful and quiet on the maternity floor, and it matched my emotions going into the process. I had this sense of calm within me leading up to and throughout my labor, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the staff and nurses at the hospital making sure everything went smoothly.

I was induced shortly before 8 am, and it felt like time flew before I knew I was ready to give birth. Sure enough, you were born just a few short hours later at 11:33 am.

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Mommy and Hailey

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Daddy and Hailey

Your daddy stayed with me for a few hours after delivery before going to pick up your sister from daycare. I was so excited for Hannah to meet you for the first time.

When Daddy and Hannah arrived you were getting your vitals checked, and your big sister loved seeing and being a part of the process.

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Hannah holds Hailey’s hand while she gets her vitals checked 

Words cannot describe the feelings I had when we had our whole family together. Seeing your big sister covering you affectionately with kisses. Watching your daddy help Hannah hold you. Seeing him fall naturally into his new role as a father of two precious girls.

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Daddy and the girls

My time in the hospital went by quickly, and before I knew it I was getting ready to go home with my two girls.

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Mommy and the girls

We came home the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and we were so thankful to have family come be with us the following week. Your grandma visited for a few days, and then Gammie, your Auntie Katie, Uncle Brad, Ethan and Brennan came up to celebrate a belated Thanksgiving. We loved having everyone visit.

After a full week and the Thanksgiving holiday, your big sister went back to “school” and your daddy stayed home with me for the second week. And now, we are on our own, just the two of us, for the rest of my maternity leave.

I’m grateful for all the things I learned the first time around. And I’m even more grateful that you are letting me get a little sleep at night. I don’t expect it to last. 🙂

I’m a lot more calm this time, and I have an amazing tribe of family and friends around me. We are so blessed to have them surround us with love. And we are beyond blessed to have our second daughter, we are so in love with you. Welcome to the world, Hailey Rose.

With love,

Momma

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Mom life with a 15 month old

Dear baby girl,

I don’t know when it happened, but I feel like I blinked one day and stared at you, realizing you are no longer a baby, but rather a walking, talking toddler.

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And I couldn’t be more in love.

While a small part of me misses the snuggly newborn stage, this age is so much fun. You’re no longer just a baby for me to hold and care for, you are becoming your own person for me to interact with, and your personality is starting to shine.

You are such a happy baby – er, toddler. Unless you are sick or teething, your general disposition is always full of smiles and laughs, and you love giving hugs. I recently taught you how to blow kisses, so now you enjoy blowing kisses at momma and daddy, or even during mealtime, which makes for a fun cleanup.

One of your favorite games at the moment is peek-a-boo, and you will hide behind the curtains in the living room, pop out and yell “Boo!” before running into my arms, smothering me with kisses. It is pretty much my favorite thing ever.

You seem to be absorbing and learning a lot these days. You can speak quite a few words beyond your adorable baby babble, from momma and dada to shoes and boots to go, hi and bye. You’ve finally got the waving thing down, too. Sometimes you’ll wave towards yourself. 🙂

The other night we were playing and discovered you knew way more than we realized. Your daddy and I would ask you where certain toys were, and you easily would grab your different animals and toys, bringing them to mommy and daddy. You’re also starting to learn different body parts, pointing out your nose, belly, ears and hair.

It is so much fun to see you discover all these new things about yourself and the world around you, and I couldn’t be more proud. I know that every child learns things at a different pace, so even though you seem to be catching on to these things quickly, I’m sure that means something we’ll really want you to learn quickly – like potty training – is going to be a battle. Ha.

It’s been a crazy past couple of months, as I recently had surgery on my foot and couldn’t walk for about four weeks. Your daddy did a good job taking care of us, even though we spent about six weeks taking turns being sick. At least one of us was sick between Christmas and now! I am thankful we are all on the mend and close to the end of cold and flu season. Even though I am still wearing a boot on my foot to get around, things are getting back to “normal” around here – as much as they can be with a toddler!

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Although it’s not nearly as quiet around here as when you were a baby, I wouldn’t trade this stage for anything. Every age has its challenges, from sleep deprivation to teething to mealtime madness, but every age also has its rewards. Watching you learn and discover the world, seeing your adorable little personality shine and experiencing your love as my daughter are what brings me joy each day. It is a blessing to be able to love you and be your momma.

With love,

Momma

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Mom life: One year in.

Dear baby girl,

Happy birthday to my favorite one-year-old!

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I had another mom recently ask if it was hard for me when you turned a year old, as she had a difficult time when her daughter did. I felt like it should have been a more emotional experience, but honestly, I was more excited than anything to celebrate your first birthday. We had a blast celebrating with family, and you loved hanging out with your cousins and devouring your cake.

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This year has been the most rewarding and challenging of my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for where we are today. Someday you’ll better understand the journey we’ve been on this year, as I’ve gone from working mom to stay-at-home mom to work-from-home mom. I got to spend the first three months of your life at home on maternity leave, returned to work for a few months, and even though I was laid off from my job, I wouldn’t trade the nearly six months I got to spend at home with you for anything in the world.

As a work-from-home freelance momma I have the flexibility to be with you on a moment’s notice, like when you recently got sick with an ear infection (thanks, daycare). My favorite part of the day is picking you up from daycare and seeing you light up with excitement when you see me. You wrap your arms around my neck and give me a little squeeze, and your dimples show as you give me a toothy grin.

We have a little mirror that hangs on the back window of the car in front of the car seat so that I can watch you in the rearview mirror while I drive. One of my favorite things to do is crank up the tunes and watch as you bop your head and laugh with the music. It is pretty much the cutest thing ever. You love music, and just over a month ago you figured out how to dance along. You love getting your groove on with momma, and we frequently have dance parties when we get home, whether you’re dancing on your own or I hold you and we dance around the living room. I’m sure the neighbors love it. 🙂

Another fun milestone you reached just days before your first birthday was taking your first steps! You were hanging out with me in the kitchen when you stood slowly, took a few steps and sat down again. It happened so fast I almost couldn’t believe it! Then a couple days later you did it again for Daddy. We haven’t see you do it since, but I’m sure you’ll be walking before we know it! You like cruising from one piece of furniture to the next, and you enjoy playing with your new toys you received for your birthday that help you walk. You also love reaching out to me and grabbing my hands, taking steps and walking towards me.

One of my favorite things about being your momma is seeing your joy and excitement as you reach new milestones and discover more about the world around you. I love experiencing each phase of your life with you. Perhaps that’s why I don’t feel overly emotional as you grow and get older. The best piece of advice I got from your Gammie is to enjoy every phase, each moment of your life. It’s easy to fondly look back at memories or excitedly look ahead at what’s to come, but there’s nothing like savoring the beauty of the present moment, celebrating each day and every milestone with you.

We’re one year in, and I couldn’t be more proud, more grateful, more blessed to be your momma. Here’s to celebrating every year together.

With love,
Momma

P.S. Just so you know, you will forever be my baby girl, no matter how old you are.

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Life Lately: 10 Months

Dear baby girl,

So much has been happening in your world lately, it is fun to see how you change from day to day. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen a lot of new things:

You fed yourself for the first time! We started with something simple and got puffs that dissolve on your tongue. It took you a while to figure out how to get them in your mouth. For the longest time you would just hold onto it, play with it, or just let it stick to your hand. We were so excited when you finally got it and kept doing it. We are still working on other foods…you’ll take them on a spoon just fine, but if I put them on your tray you just want to play with them, squish them or throw them on the ground. However, today we succeeded with our first attempt at Cheerios. 🙂 We’re pretty much done with purees these days and are eating lots of mashed and chopped foods. I made my first batch of homemade applesauce and baked apples that I’m excited for you to try. You were being finicky at dinner tonight, so all you ate were Cheerios.

One thing you started doing just after feeding yourself is clapping. We would always clap for you when you figure out something and say, “Yay!” and now you clap with us. You also like to randomly clap, which is pretty darn adorable. You’ll clap for yourself after you feed yourself, and you’ll clap anytime you hear us say yay. You’re a smart little cookie.

You (finally!) got two more teeth. You officially have your two front teeth as of today. The second one finally broke through. You have been working on them for a long time, and you’ve been pretty sore the past couple weeks. I’m glad these are in – I am imagining these are the worst ones to deal with. I am hopeful that teething will be much easier going forward.

You are taking “steps” while holding our hands. Now that you’re standing and more active, you want to keep moving. We’re showing you a little bit what it’s like to walk, and you’ll do it for a few steps while holding our hands and walking away from us.

You’ve become our little climber. You want to climb everything, from the couch to the bed to the stairs. You’ve been on the go since you figured out you could move. I couldn’t believe the  first time you climbed the stairs – you were just 8 months old!

You are one Chatty Kathy. You’ve started “talking” a lot more these days, imitating sounds we make and having little conversations with yourself while you play. I’ve noticed you do it a lot when you’re tired, but you’re pretty much chatting all day these days. You love to make a “suh suh” sound while looking out the window, which makes me think you might understand “outside” as a word, but that could just be me thinking you’re my baby genius. 🙂

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New favorites. One of your favorite things to do these days is to make a new version of “crazy baby face” where you clench your fists and say “Yay!” really excitedly. You also enjoy musical toys, opening doors and drawers (more baby proofing is on the list of things to do this weekend) and being momma’s sous chef in the kitchen.

We’re getting pretty close to 11 months…it’s crazy that I am already planning your first birthday! I am so not ready for you to be a toddler. Can you be a baby for a little while longer? I am loving this age and stage, taking it all in with you.

With love,

Momma

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Life lately: 8 Months

Dear baby girl,

Its hard to believe that summer is already starting to wind down and we’re approaching back-to-school season. (And the Iowa State Fair!) We’ve enjoyed a pretty mild summer, with just a few days of blistering heat. We have taken advantage of the warmer days and taken you swimming, and on the cooler days we take a lot of walks.

After a big milestone month in June, from starting solids to sitting up on your own to scooting around, I thought things might slow down a bit this month. A few weeks ago we hit another sleep regression as you started to fight naps and bedtime, which made me think another milestone might be near. Sure enough, just a couple weeks ago, in the midst of a bedtime battle, your daddy and I found you standing in your crib. I went from frustrated to proud momma in a matter of seconds!

The month has been filled with a lot of excitement, family and friends. Over 4th of July weekend we road tripped to Davenport so you could meet your new cousin Landon, who was born just a couple days before. He is such a little sweetie! You also caught up with his big sister Sophia. You two are definitely going to be great friends when you’re older!

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You and your cousin Sophia

After spending the first day of the weekend with your daddy’s family, we continued on to the Chicago area where you got to finally meet your cousins Ethan and Brennan for the first time.

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You and your cousins Brennan and Ethan

It was fun to watch you play together and see your Auntie Katie and Uncle Brad’s new house. It was a short visit, but we had a lot of fun. We’ll get to see them again in a couple weeks at my cousin’s wedding. A lot of my family is looking forward to meeting you!

After our Chicago visit, we returned to Davenport for the last day of the weekend before heading back home. We’re planning a weekend for your grandma to come visit us here again soon. She misses you so much already!

Just two weeks after that road trip, you and I headed west to visit my lifelong best friend Andrea, who was just a couple hours from us visiting her brother. We hadn’t seen each other in three years, so it was fun to see her, catch up and meet her youngest daughter Joelle, who turns two in just a couple weeks. You enjoyed playing with her as well. You like making new friends!

This weekend was a little more low key, filled with swimming, taking walks and playing. Oh, and of course, you were practicing your new standing skills! You’re starting to grasp crawling but haven’t quite mastered it yet. I imagine we’ll be seeing that happen in just a matter of weeks. It’s crazy to see just how quickly you learn and develop over such a short amount of time. I’m one proud momma and love seeing you grow and discover the world around you. I look forward to the adventures the next month holds!

With love,

Momma

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Priorities.

Dear baby girl,

As I sat at the kitchen table on my computer last night, I glanced out the back window and saw pink and orange flames lighting up the crystal blue sky.

I was so struck by the beauty that I stopped what I was doing and stepped outside. To get a better view beyond the trees in our backyard, I walked out in front of the house. The hues streaked across our quiet street, beyond the rooftops and trees. I continued to walk in the still silence of the late evening, feeling as though I were walking in a spotlight, yet with no audience watching. There wasn’t a person or creature in sight as I slowly strolled down the sidewalk, hoping to catch more of a glimpse of the magnificent sunset. I didn’t even get a picture, as I left my phone and everything at home, completely caught up in the moment.

This beautiful, peaceful moment was just what I needed. In the midst of the chaos that is life, sometimes we need these moments. Moments where we can clearly see beauty when all we want to do is focus on the ugly. There are times when I feel like God orchestrates special moments like last night to remind me of His presence in my life, even when I don’t always feel it or see it. Sometimes we need these little reminders from God that He created the universe – and us – and He loves us more than we could ever imagine.

I need these reminders because it’s pretty easy to lose focus. Distractions call, seemingly demanding my attention from the present. Instead of letting my heart be content, I choose worry. Instead of embracing where I am at, I compare my life to those around me. I let others’ priorities make mine feel inferior, wondering how I can make time to do or be more.

Last night the Creator reminded me that I am not inferior. None of us is inferior.

Throughout life, our priorities change. Circumstances change us. Life changes us – if we let it. We can face challenges and choose to be angry, bitter and remain the same person, blaming the world and being a victim. Or, we can choose to learn from hardships. They may feel like they define us, but really, it is the character that is shaped in us that defines us.

Priorities change. Seasons change. Our hearts, our passions and our priorities are what define us. It’s easy to get caught up in what we feel like we need or ought to be. I sometimes need the reminder that just because I am not the super-involved or Pinterest-cooking and crafting mom, doesn’t mean that I am not enough.

I look at you, and I know in your eyes, I am enough. In God, I am enough. And you, baby girl, you will always be enough.

You, family and God are my priorities. Why should I expect my priorities to match anyone else’s? We all have our own lives, our own stories.

I tell you all of this so that you might hold on to these reminders and truths someday. I hope to share a lot more with you here along the way.

With love,

Momma

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First Father’s Day: Part Two.

Dear baby girl,

Today was a fun day as we celebrated your daddy’s first Father’s Day!

We started the day off by you sleeping through the night (!) until I fed you at almost 7 am. It would have been even better if I wouldn’t have been up until after midnight…why do I always stay up late?

Anyway, after letting Daddy sleep in, I gave him the gifts from us while you took your morning nap. Daddy promptly displayed your gift (a homemade card) on the refrigerator.

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We enjoyed our morning at church, and you loved staring at your new friend Brooklyn, who is just a few weeks older than you. This afternoon we decided to try something new: your first swimming experience!

It wasn’t a super hot afternoon, so we had to add a bucket of hot water after filling the pool with ice cold water from the hose. After lathering you with baby sunscreen ($12.50 per tube – yeesh, but totally necessary) and suiting you up, we were ready to go.

You weren’t quite sure what to think at first…

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But you slowly warmed up to it.

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Then you realized it was like one giant bathtub.

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Then, we brought out some toys for you to enjoy.

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After eating your toys in the pool and your fingers and toes were officially prunes, we came inside and you crashed for another solid 30-minute nap.

For dinner, Daddy wanted to grill (even though I offered to cook), and we enjoyed cooking fajitas and rice together. (Okay, I’ll be honest — your daddy did most of the work. I put a box of rice in boiling water and entertained you. But again, I offered to help.) For dessert, Daddy enjoyed our chocolate chip cookies we baked him. Delicious food day!

Following dinner you enjoyed a real bath with Daddy in a much smaller bathtub: the kitchen sink. Pretty soon you’ll be graduating to the real bathtub. Baby steps. 🙂

By the time all was said and done, you were one tuckered-out baby, and your daddy had a fun first Father’s Day. I’m sure thankful for all your daddy does for us and our family. Seeing how much he loves you makes me love him even more. We’re pretty lucky to have him.

Though I missed my own daddy today, I am so thankful for the memories I have of him that I will share with you someday, as I mentioned in my post yesterday. He was a pretty great dad; he always had such an upbeat attitude and was so proud of his girls – my mom, my sister and me. And, he would be so incredibly proud of you as his grandbaby girl. I know he is smiling at you from heaven today, along with your Pap – Daddy’s dad. We are blessed to have had such loving fathers, and we hope to carry on the traditions and love that they shared with us.

We are also incredibly blessed to be surrounded by loving family and friends and to have you as our beautiful daughter. You are our pride and our joy, and we are so thankful to celebrate each day with you.

With love,

Momma