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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 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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Our breastfeeding journey.

Dear baby girl,

If someone would have asked me nine months ago (a month in as a new momma) what I thought about breastfeeding, I would have told that person it was incredibly rewarding, but that I didn’t know how much longer I would last.

You hear about all the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, but no one tells you about and nothing fully prepares you for the challenging parts of the experience. From getting you to latch on both sides to dealing with clogged ducts and oversupply issues, the first few months were pretty rough. The hardest part was seeing how my oversupply was affecting you, as you would gag and spit up every time you ate.

I felt like the worst mom and that I couldn’t fix it.

Thanks to some good advice from leaders in our local La Leche Leage group, I was able to figure out the steps to correct my issues. By the time you were three months old, we were finally starting to figure things out, and pretty soon, the hardest days were behind us.

Once we got into a groove, I really started to enjoy our time together. You would snuggle up into me and settle in for a good 30 minutes. I began to look forward to our time just the two of us, just enjoying the peace and quiet of the moment, a time for both of us to rest and just be still together.

Around month five, you began to discover that there was more to your world than just that which was near to you. There was more out there to explore, and you wanted to discover it. This made nursing a little more challenging, as you would get distracted easily. This got especially hard at bedtime, when all you would want to do is play instead of eat and settle down for bed.

It was frustrating, but I am so thankful that I didn’t give up.

It took a couple months, but we got through the hardest part of distracted, short nursing sessions. It took a lot of patience on my part, as well as realizing this was all new to you and that I am your comfort and guide through this entire journey.

At month ten, we are farther than I ever thought we would be when we started. You still get distracted, but we’ve figured out how to make it work for us. And now, my favorite part of the day is bedtime. Most nights lately you have been falling asleep while nursing. While some may say this isn’t a great habit to get into, I am okay with it. I know it will be hard to break you of, but I’m okay with that, too. I know that this time we share is limited, and I want to enjoy it while we can.

One of my favorite things is watching you slowly fall asleep, your long eyelashes kissing the tops of your cheeks. I love it when you take your hand and run it through your hair, or you lay it softly on my chest. Sometimes you grab onto my finger or you cover your face with your hand. A week ago you did something you haven’t done since you were a small baby and you let out several small coos and sighs as you fell asleep. My heart pretty much melted onto the floor. Then you began to snore softly. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

I love being able to watch you in those peaceful, quiet moments, when everything else in the world melts away. We sit in the dark, quiet nursery, your nightlight casting a soft glow in the room so I can see the features of your face. Your mouth purses open, as though you are softly kissing the air. You sigh your soft breaths as you slowly drift off to sleep, and I whisper to you just how much I love you.

I am embracing this time that we have together, and I am thankful that I am able to share it with you. Know that no matter where your journey leads you as a mother someday, there is no right or wrong decision, but whatever you feel is best to do for your children. I hope you know that my heart is filled with nothing but love as I care for and nurture you.

With love,

Momma

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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