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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.

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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 Two.

Dear baby girl,

Here we are, almost 22 months in. But I no longer speak in months — I say “almost 2” or “she’ll be 2 in November” to those who ask.

School has started and we are in the “dog days” of summer, soaking up every last day of sunshine and warmth until cool, crisp days of fall settle in. While we will still be able to enjoy being outside on the weekends, pretty soon the days will be short and the evenings will be spent attempting to burn your energy indoors before winding down for bed.

Energetic. That’s one word I would use to describe you these days. You are constantly on the move, whether walking, running, climbing or even dancing. As you would say, you like to “Go go go” and it’s never a dull moment with you. Whether we are playing at the park, going for walks together or dancing in the kitchen, we are finding ways to be active and burn off your loads of energy.

Talkative. You continue to amaze me with your rapidly expanding vocabulary. You speak in full sentences these days, ranging from “Thank you, Mommy!” to “Daddy takes a shower; Hannah takes a bath.” What amazes me more is your ability to comprehend even more than you speak. I can tell you understand most of what I am saying to you, and you continue to ask me “Wa-wa” (What’s that?) so you can learn more about the world around you.

Curious. You’ve always had a desire to learn about and see what’s going on around you. You have a natural curiosity to know what Mommy and Daddy are doing, and you want to be a part of it. You want to know everything and everyone around you. You are an avid people watcher, and once you overcome your initial shyness of meeting people, you will talk to anyone. You want to learn names and love to tell me about your friends at daycare and in the nursery at church.

You have such a zest for life these days, enjoying so many things. Here are just a few of your favorites (cue Julie Andrews):

Going to the park. You love the swing (aka “sing sing”), going down the slide and constantly being on the move. You are asking on a daily basis if you can go swing at the park. And if the weather’s great, how can we resist?

Elmos and monkeys. You just recently started watching TV, and it seems to be on a pretty regular basis that you are asking to watch Elmos (Sesame Street) and monkeys (Curious George). You don’t typically watch much during the day, but it’s really cute to see you get excited and dance along to the music of your favorite shows.

RIce Krispies (aka “Krissies”) are your number one food request. A close second: bars. Granola bars and breakfast bars. Your love for Cheerios is slowly fading and being replaced by other breakfast foods. Yet you still won’t eat eggs. Maybe someday. Your favorite dinner menu item is still spaghetti (aka “sketties”).

Balls in all shapes and sizes. Since a young age you have loved playing with balls – small ones you play with indoors and larger ones you play with outdoors. Your daddy and I invested in a basketball hoop that you’ve used a few times, but you mostly just enjoy rolling and throwing them around, or simply holding them in your hands. Sometimes you like to play the game of seeing how many you can hold at once. I think your personal record is four. 🙂

Puzzles (aka “pubbles”). You have gotten really good at putting together your favorite Elmo and Big Bird puzzle, plus you enjoy a few that grandma gave you when she recently visited. You like to do your “pubbles” just about every day.

Affection. You are full of affection and love giving hugs and kisses to Mommy and Daddy. You even blow kisses to others and hug your friends. One of your favorite things to do these days is hold hands with both Mommy and Daddy when we are walking together. I love the affection you share – it makes me feel so loved and that I’m doing a good job at showing you love as your momma. More than anything, I want you to be secure in my love for you, for you to know that you are so incredibly loved by me and your daddy.

We’ve seen so many changes in you in just the past few months —  I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

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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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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Not-so-new momma.

Dear baby girl,

I’ve been at this gig for over half a year now, so I feel like I can’t pull the “I’m new at this” excuse quite as much as I did before. It took a while to get to the point where I was like “I’ve got this” (and some days I still wonder!), but I’ve got to admit, I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m doing. You’re probably glad to hear that!

Being your momma is both the best and most challenging job I’ve ever had – no matter what each day brings, all of it is worth the joy of seeing you grow and thrive. Six months is a big milestone, and I am loving this stage. Every age has been fun: from tiny, snuggly newborn to chatty and newly mobile baby to 6 months and ready to be on the move, it has been an adventure to see you grow.

Here are some of the highlights of life lately:

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Sitting up like a big girl and enjoying the fresh air

Baby on the move. One of your favorite activities is to roll over, back and forth, every which way imaginable. I have found you in every corner and position in your crib, and you always manage to roll off of the giant blanket we have spread across the living room floor. Once you figure out crawling, we’re in trouble! I can tell you’re already starting to work on it, as you’re bringing your legs underneath you and are getting up on your knees.

Sitting up. You’re not quite sitting up on your own yet, but with practice we are getting closer. I think it will be just a matter of weeks until you’ll be sitting up by yourself like a big girl. You like practicing in your bumbo chair and with a little assistance from me or your daddy.

Eating solids. We haven’t given you solid food yet, as we want to wait until you are sitting up on your own. When we took you to your six-month checkup last week, your doctor said he agreed and encouraged us to feed you solids when we think you’re ready. For now you are still only eating breastmilk and seem perfectly content continuing to do so. I am excited to try solid foods but want to wait until I know you are ready.

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Enjoying a babywearing walk!

Big girl. You’ve more than doubled your birth weight and now tip the scales at a whopping 13.5 lbs. You’re in the 7th percentile for weight and 69th percentile for height at 26.5 inches long. You’re a healthy, tall and skinny baby girl!

Sleeping soundly. It was a rough past couple months of waking up more frequently than what we were used to (which was still only 1-2 times a night) after going swaddle free, but all of a sudden this week you started sleeping through the night again with stretches of 8 to almost 11 hours. I am enjoying this while it lasts!

Walking it out. One of your favorite things to do lately is be outside. The increase of sleep this week has also brought with it an increase in fussiness (I think we’ve hit a growth spurt!), but what has calmed you down the most is going outside and exploring. You especially love babywearing walks with Momma as we walk around the neighborhood. Tonight you met a few neighbor doggies, and you were just fascinated by them!

The best part of this age is being able to interact with you and see your personality shine. You are becoming one strong and determined baby girl, just like your momma. 🙂 It has been an amazing six months – time has gone so fast! I look forward to celebrating many more milestones and seeing you continue to grow and change each day.

With love,

Momma