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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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Toddler life: Almost 18 months

Dear baby girl,

I was going to wait until 18 months to write an update, but with so many changes in your world lately, this seems long overdue.

The past few months have been a whirlwind as I have had one foot surgery and now another, keeping me off of my feet and unable to do as much as I used to. As hard as it has been for me as a momma who may have slight control tendencies, I have come to realize that there is more than one way to do laundry, and your daddy can still pick out a pretty cute outfit for you to wear for the day. There may be days where you’ve been in PJs most of the day, but those are also the days I’ve been able to spend with you while your daddy does yard work and projects around the house all while doing laundry and making dinner in between getting you up in the morning and ready for bed.

I read this quote in an article today, which made me even more incredibly thankful for your daddy through this process:

“Throughout these trying times, I’ve come to find out that marriage and parenting is never 50/50. And you know what? Thank God for that. There are so many times one of us feels as if we’re giving more than “our share,” but the truth of the matter is, when one of us isn’t able to give our owed portion, the other makes up for it. And that’s the pure beauty and absolute phenomenon to an ever-changing and an ever unequal balance of this thing called family.”

Needless to say, our whole family will be ready for things to be normal again soon. It’s been harder for you after this second surgery, as you are understanding more that Momma has a “boo-boo” this time around and that I am unable to do some of the things with you that I used to.

You’ve also become increasingly aware of your surroundings and are able to communicate so much more than just a couple months ago. Your vocabulary has exploded from a few words to a few dozen, and I can tell you know so much more than you are able to say. It seems you are learning a new word each day, from telling us what the cow says to repeating “I see you!” when we peek at each other. One of my favorite new things you’ve learned is your name. We’ll ask you where mommy and daddy are, and you’ll point at each of us and say our names. Then we’ll ask you where Hannah is and you’ll point at yourself and say your name with glee. SO. CUTE.

You’ve enjoyed recent visits with family, seeing both grandmas and cousins. We visited Gammie in Omaha a few weeks ago, where we enjoyed a weekend of sunshine, eating good food and shopping. We then had a brief visit with your cousins Ethan and Brennan and Auntie Katie when they passed through town. We enjoyed a lunch together and a visit to the park behind our house. You and the boys loved it, and I enjoyed seeing you all spending time playing together and catching up with your auntie.

For Easter we visited your daddy’s family. It was a short but fun trip which included Easter dinner with your grandma, Auntie Laura, Uncle Kenn and cousins Sophia and Landon. You and Sophia are two peas and love hanging out together. We enjoyed a pancake brunch at church and grilling out before heading home. Our trip home was a little longer than normal, as we ended up having some car problems, leaving us stranded at a gas station for a couple hours. Ironically, you loved the adventure and exploring the area. Your favorite part was the tow truck ride home.

Easter with Daddy

Easter with Daddy

It seems to be never a dull moment around here lately, but for the most part we’re taking everything in stride. In just a few weeks I should be back to normal and we’ll be that much closer to summer. I can’t wait to get out and explore with you and do fun things together, like visiting the farmers’ market and the zoo. I love seeing the world through your eyes and the joy you experience through discovery and play. It reminds me to slow down, appreciate the simple things and every moment I get to share with you.

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