Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry and Bright

Dear Grace, Emma Kate, and Reece,

Before you, I had decorations that were placed with perfection; I wanted all decorations to exude elegance; and all presents were wrapped in burgandy, gold, or dark green paper tied up with ribbon to match the recipient's personality. That's how Christmas used to be. And then you each came along. And you brought magic with you.

Now I've been reminded of the magic of Santa's reindeer, the joy of decorating with no rules except tickling your fancy. I've been reminded of anticipation, excitement, and whimsy.

Now it's about which kind of cookie is Santa's favorite. I used to be completely against "characters" and then princesses and a prince became rulers at our house. I still like pretty, wrapped packages, but now pretty is defined as shiny, pink, whimsical.

I've been reminded of trips to see Santa, writing letters to Santa, and driving around to find the best Christmas lights. I've been reminded of what it feels like to be too excited to sleep the night before Christmas.

It's not about perfect decorations, but now about decorations that tell a story. Stories of childhood, stories of time spent together.

The most important story. It used to be about a story I knew and treasured in my heart. Now it's a story that I need to instill in my children's hearts and teach you to treasure. Now Christmas is about a 3 year old's reenactment of Mary and her baby boy, her Redeemer. It's about the story of God leaving the splendor of heaven to be born in the most humble of ways told from the heart of a 4 year old.

Now Christmas is about making memories while celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Thank you for the memories. I will treasure them forever.

Merry Christmas 2011, Loves.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reece - 4 months

Dear Reece,

You turned 4 months old just before Christmas.  This month  you celebrated your first Thanksgiving and your first black Friday. :)   Though you were too little to eat turkey this year, you are still enjoying your milk quite a bit.

At 4 months old, your blue eyes seem to sparkle even more than they did, and you have turned into the smiliest little boy I've ever seen.  It doesn't take much for your mouth to spread into a wide grin and then the coos begin.  Oh, how you have found your voice.  The coos, gurgles, and babbles are simply precious.  You make my heart swell and melt on a daily basis.  Those snippets of giggles we heard last month have become full fledged belly laughs.

This month you have started interacting with your sisters.  I'm pretty sure their hearts melt as well when those smiles and goos are meant just for them.  You have also begun learning how to play with your toys - grasping, batting, and of course chewing on them.  Chewing - that brings us to another new point for 4 months.  You must be teething because everything goes straight to your mouth, you can fit your whole fist in your mouth, and a bib is our number one fashion accessory.

You are still such a good baby.  As long as you have your tummy full, diaper dry, and are being held, you don't complain.  Most evenings since I have gone back to work, you stay in my arms. You fuss the second I lay you down, and I am more than happy to oblige you.  So, We cook together, clean together, play with Grace and Emma Kate together, and eat together. At night you still sleep wonderfully, going to sleep around 8:00 and waking up around 4:00 am to eat, and then spending the rest of the night cuddling with me.  It's amazing how perfectly you fit in my arms.  I am loving every minute of you and feel so blessed to be your mama.

Love you to the moon and back,

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Thanksgiving is the time to reflect on all we're thankful for.  It would take me a million years to list all that I am thankful for, for God has blessed me immeasurably.  No, instead, I want to write out some of the little things I'm thankful for.  Little things that might not be caught at first glance, but little things about my Littles that I want to remember forever.  

I am thankful for little hands. Hands that grasp my finger as sleepy town is met. Hands that are becoming nimble and hanging on to the last of baby chub. Hands that have become slender as they learn to write. 

I am thankful for dimples on chins, chubby bellies, and beside toothless grins

I am thankful for imaginations so vivid that fights breakout over who gets to stand beside the imaginary girl. So vivid that they refuse to answer to their name being called in a store because they are "somebody else".

I am thankful for giggles. Giggles that come from way down deep in the belly. Giggles that last way past bed time. Giggles that mean sisters are being friends.

I am thankful for eyes. Green, black, and blue. Always curious, always learning. 

I am thankful for being able to nurse my babies.  This is such a special time that I treasure.

I am thankful for having my hands full. Strangers seem to love to point out that having 3 kids under 5 is a handful, and they are right - my hands are full. So is my heart. 

I am thankful for being needed in the middle of the night. A full night's sleep is unheard of, but it means that someone needs me for nourishment, and someone needs me for comfort. The fact that I can provide both means way more than uninterrupted sleep. 

I am thankful for aching, heavy arms. I am thankful that these little ones I've been blessed with love to be held. I make no claims to be an expert on parenting, but this I know to be true. As I hold my biggest Little, and her legs reach much farther than they used to, I've learned that time passes much to quickly and if I can hold them close for even a minute, it gives me the chance to etch a memory in my mind. 

I'm am thankful for never having "me time". Having a baby on my hip and 4 little helping hands ever present as I prepare meals, clean messes, grocery shop, and get ready in the mornings means my children crave my company. And, I've learned that when I am not with them, a piece of my heart is not with me as well.  I miss them.  I really miss them.  All the biggies about them, and all the littles.  I'm afraid that a time will come when they will not crave my company, so on days when I think "if I could just have 5 minutes..." or I'm tripping over little feet because they are trailing so close they could be an appendage, I will remember to be thankful for being someone they want to be near in that moment.

Just a few of the little things.  Oh, there are so much more, like the sound of their voices, the shape of their faces, the smell of their freshly bathed skin.  These little things are the things I treasure up in my heart, and I realize that it is these little things that are truly the big things.  The big things that make my Littles who they are, make them so special, make them mine.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Princesses and their little dog, too.

October, yeah, yeah, that was last month, but at least I'm getting around to blogging about October's happenings before Thanksgiving.  Plus, late is my style.

We made our annual trip to Burt's Pumpkin Farm to get our pumpkins.  Of course the girls were thrilled with Burt's, because at 3 and 4 years old, they're thrilled with just about everything.  Reece, on the other hand, was not too impressed and slept through his entire first trip to the pumpkin farm.  We came away with a nice round pumpkin for carving, 3 itty bitty pumpkins, 2 pieces of pumpkin roll, popcorn, 2 fried apple pies, and 2 giant lollipops.

For Halloween, Grace chose to dress up as Ariel, Emma Kate was Snow White (as if there was another option), and Reece was a puppy dog.  We went to our church's Trunk or Treat, and visited some neighbors and family.  I They really enjoyed the candy.

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Reece - 3 months old

Dear Reece,

Another blink, another month.  I've got to learn how to eliminate blinking.  Then maybe time will slow down just a bit.  You turned 3 months old today, and I think about how much you've changed in the last month.  At the beginning of your third month, it was as if you suddenly woke up and your personality really started revealing itself.  I think you needed some time to recover from your whirlwind entry into the world.  Or maybe it was the chaos that we brought you home to...  Either way, at the start of this month, your eyes suddenly became brighter, more focused.  Those smiles that were not delivered without deliberation began flowing freely.  And the coos and goos that greet us now are heart melting and bring tears to my eyes on a regular basis.

This month, we visited the pumpkin patch and celebrated your first Halloween.  And, I've been doing some celebrating as you sleep about 8 hours at night.  Now, the past few nights, since my maternity leave ended, you've been waking an extra time during the night.  I'm betting it's because you've missed me so much during the day.  If that's the reason, then I really don't mind it. :)

You've maintained your "up for the day at 7:00 am, bed time at 8:00 pm" routine.  You are such a good baby, and as long as you're tummy is full, diaper is dry, and body is snuggled, you are a happy camper.  It makes my heart swell 1 million times when your fussiness is quietened the minute you're snuggled in my arms.

Your big sisters continue to be infatuated with you.  I can't wait to see the look on their faces when you return that affection.

Baby Boy, Here's to a quarter of a year of YOU!


Reece - 2 months old

Dear Reece,

You turned 2 months old on October 21, 2011.  As I write this, you are actually almost 3 months old.  On one hand, that makes me feel like I've been slacking, but on the other hand, time seems to be passing so quickly that I can't possibly keep up.  It feels like yesterday that we were bringing you home, but at the same time, it feels like you've always been here.  Ahhh, chalk up my ramblings to being a sentimental mama.  I promise I'll try to keep them to a minimum when you're old enough to be embarrassed by them.  I also promise you'll understand them when you're old enough to get over that embarrassment.

Your second month was filled with more firsts.  When you were 5 weeks old, you went to church for the first time.  At 6 weeks old, you attended your first party - Emma Kate's birthday.  You actually rolled over for the first time (tummy to back) at 4 weeks, but I wasn't convinced that it wasn't a fluke because 4 weeks is too soon for my baby to start meeting milestones like rolling over, but alas, you proved that roll was the first of many.

You made us wait until you were 7 weeks old to see your first real smile.  Let me assure you that seeing your little mouth spread in that precious grin was well worth the wait.  Most of the time, your smile comes out of only one side of your mouth.  At 2 months old, you are still pretty reserved with your smiles and seem to be a serious little man.

Little Man.  That's one of our nick names for you.  Way more often than Reece, you get called Little Man, Reecie P, or Baby Boy.  Or something preceded by sweet, precious, or handsome.  Whatever we call you, know that it is laced with love.  2 months of unimaginable, indescribable love.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Emma Kate - Three

Dear Emma Kate,

Your third birthday is finally here.  I say finally because it's all you talked about for the last month.  "My buf-day's nevah gonna get he-ah!" you proclaimed more than once.  Time dragged by for you as you waited for your birthday.  Finally is not the word I would use to describe the journey to your birthday from my perspective.  No, from where I sit, these three years feel more like three minutes.

The night you were born was very emotional.  I was excited to meet our second daughter, but I was also unsure.  Unsure how I could possibly love another as much as I loved your sister.  Sure, I had been told how love multiplies, and really, I knew they were right.  But I just wasn't sure how.  What if I couldn't?  And then I met you.  The instant you were laid on my chest, I remember taking in so many things: the sound of your cry, your head full of black hair, your plump cheeks.  But mostly I remember soaking up the feeling of all the uncertainty melting away and being replaced by a love just as strong, just as deep.  My Baby Girl, in 3 years, the memories we've made and the moments we've shared have only made that love intensify.

In these 3 years, you have gone from a passive, quiet baby tagging behind her big sister to a vivacious, funny, mischievous, loving little girl who is no longer content to always tag along.  You, my dear, did not come out of your shell.  You busted out with neon lights and a bull horn.

You love to laugh.  You see humor in every situation, and use it to your advantage when the mischievous side of you comes out.  Just when you are about to get in major trouble, you make a funny face, or serve up an "I love you" in a drawl that would make Scarlett O'Hara jealous.  And, mischief combined with the terrible twos means you have gotten to try out your skills almost daily.

One thing that has remained constant with your personality is your sweetness.  You love to snuggle, tickle noses (eskimo kisses), dish out bear hugs, and more or less be my marsupial.  You love to help me around the house, especially when Grace is at school.

This year, you have grown to love doctor shows - the bloodier, the better.  Your favorite color is still orange, but pink and aqua are climbing the ranks.  Ketchup and french fries are your favorite food.  Sweets are considered a major food group with brownies being your favorite.  You love to read, play with baby dolls, and wear skirts.  Snow White is your favorite princess, and you aspire to be her when you grow up.

Your greatest obsessioin: babies.  Girlfriend, there hasn't been a dirty diaper that has deterred you from sticking close to any baby you know.  You were destined to be a big sister.  The arrival of Reece has confirmed that.  You and Grace both love to help with baths, gather diaper supplies, hold him, and more or less hover over him to be sure not to miss a hiccup or a blink and let me know the nanosecond he starts to cry.  It is the sweetest thing I've ever witnessed.

Now that you are "fwee" you say you are a big girl.  You say that means getting to wear earrings and hold Reece standing up.  We'll start with the earrings for now. :)  Apparently though, being "fwee" is not too big to be held like a baby, as you request daily.  And it is not too big to need your mama's hand when you feel shy.  "Fwee" is definitely not too big for tickling noses.

My big "fwee" year old girl, I hope you continue to laugh through life, and that the laughs outnumber the tears. I hope you meet new experiences head on and know that you can lean on your family whether those experiences turn out just how you expected, or not.  I hope, dear Emma Katherine, that you know how special you are, realize your worth, and settle for nothing less than what you deserve.

Thank you for a terrific three years.

Love, Mama

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Celebrating 3 - Emma Kate Style

Emma Kate turned a trio of years on October 2.  For her third birthday, Emma Kate had 2 requests: earrings and Snow White.

We made an appointment to have her ears pierced, but went in without any real expectations.  Emma Kate's ears are so sensitive that she cries when the doctor has to look at them, and to clean them, you have to all but pin her down.  She surprised us all though when she sat in my lap like a big girl, and walked away with a few snubs and big girl earrings.

I promise it didn't take long for this pitiful face to start smiling and showing off her earrings.

And then came the Snow White soiree.  Everything was red, blue, and yellow to match Snow White's dress.

I made the invitation while the banner, favor tags, cupcake toppers, and water bottle labels were made by Toadally Cute Products on Etsy.

How cute is the nutrition label?!
 The tables had a burlap table runner, and I made these fabric topiaries using scraps of red, blue, and yellow fabric.

For the dessert table, I played up the apple theme that is so prevalent in Snow White.  Other than cupcakes, we had apple cake balls, apple muffins, apple pies, and brownies.  Ok, the brownies don't go with the apple theme, but they are Emma Kate's favorite sweet treat, so we couldn't have her birthday without them.

So, my apple cake balls don't exactly look like Bakerella's, but they tasted yummy!  That's what counts, right?

It might have something to do with the fact that this is what it looks like when cake balls are being made at my house.

The Birthday Girl got just a wee bit shy when we sang to her.  Buuuuut, she quickly overcame when it was present time.

My sweet birthday girl had a blast.  We are so thankful to all our family that helped her celebrate.

 Princess Emma Kate

 Big Sister dressed up as Ariel for the par-tay.

I don't know if I've ever seen a more excited birthday girl.  She kept proclaiming, "This is MY bufday pawty!" and every day since her birthday, "I'm fwee; I have eah-wings; and I'm a big guhl."

Yes, you are, Princess Emma Kate.  You are my big girl.