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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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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:

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

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

1

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 ūüôā ) 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. ūüôā

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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

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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. ūüôā

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