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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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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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My new baby girl.

Dear baby girl,

Today, I write not to my big baby girl, but to the baby girl yet to join our family. The one who is squirming and kicking around inside my belly, as though you are eagerly anticipating your arrival into this world.

Baby girl, I feel like I owe you an apology. I’m sure it’s completely normal, but I feel like I have been so busy and exhausted this pregnancy, it’s been hard for me to just rest and completely focus on you. Your life inside of me. You becoming ready to enter this world and our family.

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I couldn’t be more thrilled for Hannah to have a baby sister. I just know she is going to love you as much as your Daddy and I will. She will care for you and want to help you just as much as she wants to help Mommy and Daddy. I can’t wait to see how the two of you are together.

I feel like my days are currently consumed with work and mom life, and it’s been such a whirlwind that I’ve hardly been able to just enjoy being pregnant. Feeling your very excited kicks flutter around within me. You are much more active than I remember your sister being. I have a feeling you are going to have even more energy than your sister and will keep us on our toes!

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The second half of my pregnancy (which is actually more than half over, I’m 23 weeks already!), I hope to slow down more. Notice you. Feel you. Talk and sing to you. Actually start planning for your arrival-I should probably figure out your big sister’s room and get a few special things just for you for the nursery. And of course finally come to an agreement with your daddy on a name. We’ve got a little time on that one.

It feels like this pregnancy has flown by, and I know it’s just going to keep getting faster the closer I get to my due date. With each week, my belly grows bigger and your movements become more regular. I seem to be growing at a much faster pace than last time!

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Everything seems to be going more quickly. I am hardly counting the weeks, in fact, I have forgotten at one point already how far along I am. I guess that’s a sign this isn’t my first time. 🙂 But that’s OK. Instead of counting down the weeks, I am embracing them. With a thankful heart filled with joy and anticipation for your arrival. I couldn’t be more blessed to have another beautiful girl.

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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Motherhood.

Dear baby girl,

Every night before I go to bed, I check to make sure you are okay. I peek inside your bedroom door and watch you sleep in the soft glow of the night light, waiting to see you shift in your crib, listening closely for the softness of your breath in between the ticks of the bathroom clock.

I sometimes creep into your room quietly for that certainty, placing my hand lightly on your back (you love to sleep on your belly even though I place you on your back every night), waiting to feel the rise and fall of your breath. Sometimes you’ll let out a high-pitched sigh as you exhale, your sweet tune lingering in the air.

There is a peace that fills me as I watch you sleep, and for a moment my worries vanish, because all that exists in that moment is my love for you.

As much as I’d like to tell you that every moment is pure bliss as a mother, that wouldn’t be true. Every day has its challenges, whether it’s fighting naps and bed time, dealing with inexplicable fussiness or the pain you’re experiencing from getting new teeth. Add in the stress of trying to make the right decisions for you, from your sleeping patterns to your eating habits and everything in between, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.

Every day, at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that I am your momma, and I am making decisions that I feel are best for you. In your peaceful sleeping state, I am reminded and know that you are loved, cared for and thriving because of how your daddy and I are taking care of you.

Some nights I may have spent a couple hours trying to put you to bed, watching as you try to play and are distracted by everything around you, rather than going to sleep. Sometimes I may get up and leave you for a few moments, either letting you cry and settle yourself down or waiting and going back in if necessary. It never gets easier letting you cry, which is why I am not always consistent. I want nothing more than for you to be a happy baby, and I strive to make decisions I feel are best in the moment. It may take a few tries and some patience, but when you settle down, you and I share the most beautiful time together before you go to sleep. There is nothing more perfect than watching you and holding you in my arms.

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about parenthood, it is that there is no one right way to parent a child. I look at you and your needs, trust my instincts and do what I feel is best to help you grow and thrive. Some decisions are more difficult to make than others. Some days I feel like I have reached my limit, not wanting to listen to you cry but not wanting to rescue you, feeling like I just need to breathe for a few moments.

As a parent, just when you think you’ve reached the end of yourself and you have nothing more to give, you are filled with an inexplicable strength, joy and unconditional love for your child, far greater than you ever imagined possible. This is my every day life. This is motherhood.

That is why every night, before I go to bed, I don’t just check to make sure you are still breathing. I also catch my breath and slowly exhale, letting out my worries. I inhale strength and let my spirit be restored and filled with peace as I watch you sleep. I can’t help but smile as I watch you, your perfect, pure innocence captured in your closed eyes, pursed lips and soft breaths.

My smile lingers as I go to bed, and I close my eyes thinking of you, looking forward to sharing tomorrow together.

With love,

Momma