Friday, October 30, 2009

Foto Friday: The Best Gift Ever

So we have been celebrating a ton of birthdays in our family this past month. In a 2-week period, we had 5 birthdays: Jeff's, my brother-in-law's, Kendall's, my nephew's, and mine. And that's not even getting into extended family.

But I have to say that out of everyone, I got the best gift -- by far.

Every few weeks, Emma's wonderful preschool likes to have the kids put on little "performances" at the end of class for the parents. This past Friday, my birthday, was one of those "performance" days. Emma had been learning about family all week long, making family trees, talking about God's role in our families, and even making chocolate chip cookies for our little family. Her teacher kept telling us the kids had something extra special to give us on Friday. Better than chocolate chip cookies?!

Yes. Better than chocolate chip cookies.

When the parents walked into the room on Friday, we saw this:

Our precious little ones were wrapped up in wrapping paper they decorated. The gift tag read, "To My Family. From God."

Through my tears, I saw 10 sweet little faces, patiently waiting for their Mommy or Daddy to unwrap their special gift. I walked over to Emma and gratefully "opened" her. In the background, I could hear the teacher telling our children that they were made special by God for our family. Each one of them was precious and individual and handmade by God our Father. I hugged Emma tight and told her I loved her as many times as I could.


I thank God for my children more times than I can count, but in that moment, it was different. It was a physical reminder that this precious little person was something entrusted to me by God. His child in my arms. It took me 27 years to get that gift, and I am going to spend the rest of my life making sure I get to enjoy her -- and my other precious gift -- for eternity.

What a blessing. Two years ago, I spent my birthday in a hospital bed, thanking God that I was alive. This year, He reminded me why I am alive.

Thank you, God.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Two Precious


My Little Kendall,

Today you are two years old. It has all gone by so quickly, yet it’s hard to remember life without you. You truly make our family complete. You bring a joy and peace to my heart—and everyone else’s for that matter—that I know I could never accurately express. But I will try my hardest.


Since the day you entered our lives, you have been a source of strength and happiness. When I was in the hospital and so very scared of the complications that surfaced, I held tight to you. You provided my strength through your sweet smell, your snuggles, and our peaceful nursing sessions. You provided tangible peace that I needed so desperately as I missed your sister and the life I knew was waiting for us at home. I needed you, and you needed me. It was a perfect exchange of love that only God could provide. I will be eternally grateful for that time with you.


The next few months of your life were filled with even more craziness….boxes and more boxes as we sold our townhome, moved in with Grandma & Grandpa (and Uncle Nonny!), and then finally moved into our new home.


I’m afraid those moments, along with many other life experiences (like learning how to parent a 3-year-old and launching a new freelance career) made me the less-than-cheery Mommy most of the time. But again, you were there for me with unlimited giggles and hugs and kisses that reminded me what life was really all about. Even at night, when I wanted so badly for you to sleep through your tummy problems, I usually ended up holding you a little longer and a little tighter as I stared at that button nose and those delicate eyelashes. In those moments, God revealed His peace through you and all felt right again as I forgot about yesterday and what the next day might hold. With you, I learned to live in the moment. To truly soak it all in.


Truth be told, as a second child, I think you do get short-changed in some ways. I’ve let this blog go and the photos are fewer, but I promise you I have enjoyed you more. Not that I didn’t enjoy your sister. But with her, it was all new, and I found myself always anxiously looking ahead. But I quickly learned that what everyone says is actually true—it really does go by too fast. So I made a promise to live in the now with you. Even if the now wasn’t picture perfect and involved inconsolable screaming at 2am. Soon enough, you are going to be walking and talking your way out the door, without me. For now, you are mine and I will rock you as long as you and my arms will allow.


Of course, you ended up moving on much faster than I would have liked. Being the observant little peanut that you are, you quickly learned all of your sister’s tricks and decided to walk at 9 months, took an interest in the potty at 19 months (although I’m not rushing that), and now talk up a storm. “Thank you, Mama” is by far my favorite right now. It rolls off your tongue like one big word (“thankyoumama”) and is literally used after almost anything I do for you, whether I am helping you on the potty or getting you a sippy cup.


Now, let’s not forget that there is a lot more to your personality than your soft bouncy curls and sweet giggle. God is way too clever for that. Somehow, he has also managed to make you a very determined and opinionated lady that knows EXACTLY what she wants and how to get it. In some ways, you are even more stubborn than your sister, and that, my dear, scares me to death.

You have managed to NOT outgrow the scream you have had since infancy. It is your default when you absolutely want something your way, and nothing, and I mean nothing, can make you stop. You will listen as I try to calm you and even comprehend as I attempt to reason, but if it doesn’t fit in with your agenda, it is all pushed aside and the screaming resumes until you get what you want.

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However, that does NOT mean we give in. What it does mean, though, is that there is a whole lot of screaming going on around here. At home. In the car. At church. But once you have decided you could live with the situation – or when your voice finally gives out – you will stop and then resume aforementioned bouncy curl personality.

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You are a little shy, but once you warm up to someone, they will get all sorts of kisses and hugs. Most people are welcomed with what we lovingly call your “furrowed brow,” but when it’s time to leave, everyone gets an enthusiastic wave goodbye and a few blown kisses.

You are also an awesome cleaner-upper…or so I’ve been told. EVERYWHERE, and I mean EVERYWHERE you go, I am told what a good cleaner you are – church, MDO, workout daycare, etc. – the first thing everyone tells me is that you cleaned up the entire time. Kids dump out blocks, and you follow behind to pick them up. You will clean up if asked at home, but it certainly isn’t voluntary. Anyone who has seen our playroom can attest to that. Your MDO teacher has theorized that you do this in an attempt to speed up the whole “babysitting” process so you can go home quicker. I honestly think she may be on to something. You are very strategic in your ways, and I’m interested (scared) to see how this little trait blossoms over time.

You still don’t sleep very well, but then again, you spent most of your life in Mommy and Daddy’s room, so I cut you a little slack. You are also a pretty picky eater. It’s not that you will only eat certain things. On the contrary, you will eat lots of different things, but I just have to get lucky and pick what you have a taste for that day. You could eat broccoli one day like it is candy and the next day, throw it across the room with a very animated, “ZZZZZYUCK!!!!” Not a whole lot of favorite foods with you, but chicken noodle soup and fruit are usual winners. Oh, and catsup. You L.O.V.E. catsup. Yes, as in the condiment I swore my kids would never eat. Well, at least it’s organic…

You also like to consume things that are not consumable. I have yet to call Poison Control for your sister, but have had to call on you at least two times already…toothpaste, eye makeup remover, contact lens cleaner. Yeah, you’re not really into helping my Mommy creds very much.

And the climbing. Let’s not forget about the climbing. You are definitely “My monkey up a tree” and have been since you could stand on your own: Dangling from an oven at 10 months, scaling two levels to the TOP of your play kitchen at 13 months, making your way up the changing table so you could jump up and down at 15 months, climbing in and out of your crib at 18 months…need I go on?! Thankfully, you are getting to an age where I don’t have to fear for your life quite as much. I hope.

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Well, I know I am missing a ton of wonderful memories, but I was determined to give you your much-deserved letter. I never finished your 1-year letter, and for that, I hope you will forgive me. One hard lesson I had to learn after you were born was that I am only one person, and I can only do so much. But I promise you, I used many of those moments when I could have been writing that letter or taking more pictures to be with you and our family. Loving you. Taking care of you. And being your Mommy.

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And what a joy it has been. Your sweet little face and those darn pigtails will forever be ingrained in my mind. And while your curls didn’t really surface until after your 1st birthday, they have truly become part of who you are. As I have watched those locks grow and soften and bounce, God has revealed your spirit to me. I don’t know exactly what He has in store for you, but I know you will not disappoint. A kindhearted spirit with a little bit of spark and a whole lot of love to give. How truly blessed are those of us who receive it.


Happy Birthday, my Joy, my Kendall.

All my love,

Friday, October 09, 2009

Foto Friday: Happy Birthday Daddy!

His eyes and his hugs remind us every day that he loves us and that we are safe.



His smile assures us he will do absolutely anything for his girls.



And his heart, well, it is soft and smooshy and leaves all three of us totally in love.




Thanks for taking care of us, babe. We are so blessed to have you as the #1 man in our lives. Happy Birthday!


Friday, October 02, 2009

Foto Friday: My Little Ladies

My babies are turning into little ladies. So grown-up I can barely stand it. Emma's reasoning skills could put her straight through law school (and me in the nut hut) and Kendall is working on whole sentences and the fine art of refusal.

Exhausting, yes, but somehow a total joy at the same time. Their hugs are real. The words are straight from the heart. And the giggles we share in our daily dance parties, car-ride sing-a-longs, and hourly Target trips (kidding...sort of) keep my heart young and alive.

They actually play together now. Sure, sometimes that means Kendall jacking Emma in the head with a teapot as Emma tries to snatch her princess crown, but I also catch moments -- real moments -- of sharing and caring and love. Moments I haven't orchestrated but that come from a love they have for each other. And nothing makes my heart sing more.

This is all so trite, I know, but I can't help it. Look at them!!! Aren't pigtails supposed to make them look younger?!?