Saturday, April 26, 2014

2013 Recap

December 31, 2013

At the risk of sounding cliche, 2013 was another great year for our family.  There is something about the new year that begs for reflection.  And as I've thought about this past year, it kind of leaves me breathless.

I sometimes take for granted this life I live.  Sometimes I get so caught up in packing lunches, and wiping noses, and cleaning floors, and just the daily grind, that I forget to just really soak it all in.

And then, in those quiet moments of reflection, it all comes pouring down.

 Memories creep up, emotion washes over because this life we have - it is good.

Really good.

That's not to say that it's all sunshine and rainbows.  No, it can definitely get exhausting, and we struggle, and we shed tears.

But those storms are fleeting, and they help us to appreciate the sunshine and rainbows even more.

In 2013, we got to celebrate a lot.

We celebrated birthdays 6, 5, and 2.

We celebrated 9 years of marriage.

We celebrated our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We celebrated family, school years coming to an end, and new ones beginning.

And then we played.

We played in the snow.

We played in the sand.

We played in the water, and we played in the waves.

And then, in the middle of all that celebrating and playing, we packed lunches, and wiped noses, and cleaned floors, and completed a million other tasks that I take for granted.

But, they are a very important part of this life as well.  It's all these moments: the big ones, the small ones, the good ones, and the tough ones that make up this life of our's.

And, when all those temporary struggles are gone, we are left with joy, and laughter, and love.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Emma Kate - Five

October 2, 2013

Dear Emma Kate,

In honor of you turning a full high FIVE today, I thought this year's birthday letter should concentrate on that important number.

Five Things You Did in the Past Year:
1.  You went to cheer camp for the first time.  You had been begging since Grace first started going, and this year was finally your year.  You cheered, jumped, stunted, and tumbled your way through the week with a smile and a "5, 6, 7, 8.."

2.  You went to the beach not once, but twice!  We had so much fun on our family trip to Okaloosa Island and on our girl (plus Reece) trip to St. Simons Island.  You are a natural beach girl!

3.  You began reading.  Right now, we're working on sight words, and you can sound out those CVC words like a champ!  I can't wait to see where this new skill takes you!

4.  You started Pre-K.  My big girl at big girl school - WOW!  You are in love with your teachers Ms. Keshia and Ms. Krissie.  Your favorite things about pre-k are the art center, story time, and getting to pack your lunch.  You are not in love with rest time, but what's new?

5.  You won Miss Apple Seedling.  You were cute as a button in your yellow "Belle" dress, and you loved getting to play dress up!

Five Things I Love About You:
1.  Your laugh.  You have got this deep, belly laugh that can light the darkest night.  You laugh at everything.  Even when it's not appropriate.  Don't ever stop.

2.  Your love of cuddling.  You crave affection, and we are more than happy to give it.  You have always been a cuddle bug and you love to "tickle noses".  I love when your little arms (that seem to be getting longer by the day) reach up to me and request to be held.  See, even though you are 5 years old now, you are still my baby.

3.  Your free spirit.  EK, marching to the beat of your own drummer is an understatement.  You have your own opinions, your own passions, and you don't let other people sway you.  Though it can be frustrating when we're rushing out the door in the mornings, I am certain that this is going to pay off one day when peer pressure threatens to creep in.

4.  Your obsession with orange.  No pink for my girl!  Orange is your favorite color.  To be honest, I have always despised orange.  Never owned anything orange; the orange from my Sharpee set was shoved into my desk drawer the first year I started teaching.  But thanks to you, I think it's a beautiful color.  I find myself looking for orange things to buy you, want to find ways to incorporate orange into your life, and notice I'm drawn to orange now because it reminds me of you.  Birthday number five is themed orange at your request.  Orange decorations, orange food, orange party favors, orange, orange, orange.

5.  Your wit.  Girl, you have a comeback for everything!  Some of those comebacks I'm embarrassed to write out, but ask your Papa or your Pop someday.

Five Hopes and Wishes I Have for You
1.  Never stop believing you can do anything or be anything.

2.  Never lose your love for learning.

3.  Have a life containing more laughter than tears.

4.  Always have a close relationship with your sister and brother.

5.  Most importantly, accept Jesus as your personal savior and live your life for His glory.

My sweet girl, these five years have flown by.  You are a constant reminder in our family not to take things too seriously, and to always have time for a hug.  I love you with all my heart.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reece - Two

August 20, 2013

Dear Reece,

Tonight as I held you as you went to sleep, I watched you.  I watched your little hands go limp, your eyes flutter before finally closing, and I watched your chest rise and fall in a slow, sleepy pattern.  This has been routine for the last 729 nights.

Tomorrow it shall be 730 days.

Two years.

Each night as we go through our routine, and I study your little face, the plumpness of your cheeks, the speed at which your hair grows, the shape of your little nose, the familiarity of this little face I love so much, I don't really notice all the changes.

 Not quite as they are happening anyway.  I don't notice that your legs are a little longer than the day before, your feet a little quicker, your hands a little bigger.  No, these things sneak up on me and hit me like a ton of bricks.  Like when I put on your shoes that I know had plenty of room last week, and they suddenly squeeze your toes a little too much, and you tell me "hurt!"  Or when you make your cars and trucks into a line and I realize you weren't organizing like that yesterday!  Or when you bust out a string of new words, or are involved in a game with your sisters, or pretending to be a football player.  That's when I notice a change has occurred.  That's when I realize you have made that great leap from being a baby to being a little boy.

You are a little boy who loves running, bugs, tractors, dirt, playing ball of any kind, sticks, trucks, cuddling, and milk.  You love to rub your face on bare skin; you love to pick out your own underwear each day.  That's right!  You are potty trained and wear big boy underwear!  You love to swim, ride on tractors, lawn mowers, or anything that goes.  You love to show others how much love you have to give, doling out hugs and cuddles freely.

Tomorrow, when you turn 2 years old, we will celebrate all of these things.  All of the things we love about our wild, mischievous, funny, cuddly little boy.

Happy second birthday.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Grace - Six

Dear Grace,

We have just wrapped up a whole week of celebrating you turning six. 


That's only one year older than 5. Just one bigger number. But something about 6 seems so much more. Six requires 2 hands, and I admit, I'm having a hard time with you turning 6.  Birthdays 1-5 were exciting, but 6 is different. Six is no longer a baby. Not even a little kid. Six is a bona fide big kid. Over the past few days, I've teared up more than once. I hear you reading or see you standing at the kitchen sink washing your hands, and emotion washes over me.  

Sadness because you are no longer that newborn baby that taught me the joy of smelling freshly bathed baby skin. You are no longer that smiling little muffin that toddled her way across our old living room for the first time.  You are not even the tiny girl who insisted on skirts every day for over a year. 

Pride because of the person you are becoming. Grace, you are beautiful inside and out. When I see you playing with classmates regardless of the color of their skin, their gender, or their mental abilities, it reminds me that carefree goodness is alive and well.  You are growing into this little person who is realizing the effects her actions and words have on people.  

You have had a big, big year!  you saw the ocean for the first time, rode a horse for the first time, lost your first tooth, and learned to swim without floaties.  You have shown bravery and tenacity.  Last April, when you broke your arm, you hardly shed any tears.  Not because you weren't in pain, but because you have this ability to show grace in stressful situations.  Even when the doctor told us about the surgery you would need, the anesthesia, and all these things that were foreign and scary to me, an adult, you, the 5 year old didn't waver in your bravery.

Last fall, when you learned to read, it's like this sponge emerged, and it hasn't stopped soaking in all the words it can!  You read every chance you get.  When we're at home, there's often a book in your hand.  When we're in the grocery store, you're reading every aisle sign.  When we're driving down the road, you're reading every sign and billboard.  I am so excited for you because this whole new world has been opened up to you!

When you started kindergarten, you and I began a new phase in our bond.  We get to share a new special time together.  We have such great conversations during the car rides to and from school, and I am so proud getting to walk down the hallways of the school with my daughter.  Those notes you leave on my desk or in my mailbox in the workroom that read "I love you, Mama" simply make my day.

It seems that each week, your jeans get shorter.  I keep telling you to slow down growing, and every time, you give me that same tilt of your head and big grin, reminding me that it's not your fault; God is making you grow. So, we'll keep buying new jeans and try to soak in every moment.

You have so many special qualities, my dear girl.  You are beautiful, and special, and kind.  You are compassionate, funny, and smart. You are my daughter.  My first born.  You are six.

Happy Birthday, Dear Grace.