Saturday, March 20, 2010

Maddie, Ballerina

Last week was "parent observation" at dance class. We were entertained by all the little ladies, with their spunky attitudes, darling tutus, and even a choreographed dance.

Maddie knew every single word to their recital piece and sang along as they danced in lines. I remarked to my friend Melissa that maybe I should be getting her voice lessons rather than dance, as she knew much more words to the song than she did steps to the dance. :)

But darned if she isn't the cutest little dancer I've seen! She amazed me with her ability to follow directions, dance with her friends, and do some complicated steps.

At this point Maddie finally mastered "tap behind!" She has had some difficulty with this one since the start of class, always tapping in front rather than behind. When she finally got it, she was so tickled (as was I--there's no joy like seeing your child learn something new!)

Overall, it's been a fun couple of months. This was definitely an experiment, being Maddie's first organized activity outside of preschool. She's amazed me with her abilities on and off the dance floor. Miss Ashley remarked to me at the end of class that Maddie should be in "showbiz," referring to all of her faces and the general silliness that is Miss Maddie (especially in front of a wall of mirrors--great for trying out new moves).

At the end of class, they each received a handful of glitter, made wishes, and then blew the "magic dust" away. That Miss Ashley definitely knows what little girls love! Hooray for dance!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Maddie: 38 Months

Oh, Maddie! How can it be that you are such a big girl? Just today I was watching you skip home from the park with your Boppa, stopping every few feet to check out a flower or insect, and it was like an out-of-body experience. My baby girl, my sweet Madeleine Noelle, transforming into a child before my own eyes.

One thing that will definitely mark this year is your keen observation and non-stop questioning. All day, dawn to dusk, you are taking in the world around you and offering back questions that range from the everyday ("When will Spring come? In March? After February? And then Summer?"), to the spiritual ("Was it God's idea to send the rain?"), to the obscure ("What would happen if I didn't have skin? Would my body still work?")

You keep me on my toes all day long. The spiritual questions we love, as your knowledge of God is expanding with each new day. Most of the time I delight in your absolute wonder and the thinking that goes into each question, but some times, I am exasperated by your questions. You have a tendency to ask questions over and over, and many of them which you already know the answers. I see your persistence in obtaining information and I recognize it as a strength and also and indication of your intelligence, but boy, are we in for some difficult conversations if these three year-old questions are any sign of what is to come.

Another thing I love about you right now is your confidence. You are absolutely self-assured, assertive, and not afraid of letting others know what you think or need. Just this week we were enjoying a special treat at Yogurtland when a group of 8 or 10 teenage girls got your attention. They were talking and laughing and carrying on a lively conversation. You laughed out loud at one point when they laughed and remarked, "No way, Jose!" Then you approached the table, lifted your pant leg, pointed your toe, and showed off your new flip-flops, asking "Don't you like my new shoes? Aren't they sparkly and beautiful?" A few of the girls acknowledged you, commented on your new shoes, and you returned to our table, smiling and content.

I pray that this confidence never leaves, that you continue to believe in yourself, to speak up for yourself, to assert what you need and desire, what you do NOT like and do NOT want to do. While it can make for some frustrating three year-old moments, I know that as a teenager such assurance will serve you favorably among your peers.

You have a compassionate and loving friend-heart. I have witnessed the same scene over and over at a park, school, the grocery store, or home: a small child is hurt, bothered, misunderstood or sad. You approach tenderly and with a sweet voice, ask if they are okay. You kneel down, put your arm around their shoulder and sit with them while they cry, pout, whimper and recover.

It never fails to make me immeasurably proud of you and grateful to God that your heart is so big, so kind, and so gracious. I pray that you will be the kind of friend that everyone wants, a loyal, loving and tender-hearted friend that is always available.

And then there is your brother. You have a passionate, protective, fierce and playful love for Sam. You absolutely delight in him. At times I see him playing beside you, pulling your hair, taking your toys, climbing over your lap and messing with you, and there you sit, patiently allowing him to have his way.

When he is asleep, you ask me when he'll wake up. As soon as you hear his voice calling from the crib, "Mamaaaaa," you ask if you can run in and see him. There is a little sound Sam makes when he sees you, half-laugh and half-growl, as if he knows that you mean fun, dangerous fun. I know that rivalry and fights are to come, but honestly, I am in awe of how much you love your little brother and how patient and tender your heart is toward him all the time. It is my prayer that you and Samuel will be each other's best and most faithful friends throughout life.

You are silly and playful and downright comical. The stories you tell, the songs you make up, the words you substitute in sentences to make me laugh--you are always keeping things light and wanting us to be happy. Anything that makes your Daddy or brother laugh you will repeat forEVER in order to get another giggle. You know without question that your Boppa and Tutu think you are the most clever thing they've ever had the pleasure of knowing and you exploit this whenever possible.

You are a true leader, taking charge of groups of peers, older friends, classrooms of kids, play groups at parks. You win people over with your winsome nature and amiable personality and lead them in play with a fun, gregarious spirit. Your Daddy and I pray that your leadership skills will point others to choose the right way and bring out the best in those who come along for the ride.

You are the most social child I know. Every day when you wake up you ask, "What are we doing today?" Each night before going to bed you ask, "What are we doing after I wake up?" I am constantly scheduling play dates and park trips, errands to Target and Costco, visits to restaurants and other establishments in order to keep you happy. I thought I was an extrovert!

You have what seems like endless energy. I finally figured out in the past month that forty-five minutes of exercise in the afternoon is just the ticket to get through the rest of the evening without going crazy. You thrive on being outside, running around, exploring, riding your bike, and otherwise "getting [your] willies out."

I pray for my own strength, endurance and patience each day, that I will be able to be the mom you deserve--a mom who can answer your questions, fill your day with fun, bring out the best in your personality, laugh at all your jokes, and most of all, a mom who can allow God to work through and in spite of her shortcomings to help you live out your potential as his beloved child.

I love you sweet girl.



Sunday, March 07, 2010

One Year

Dear Samuel Benjamin,

Exactly one year ago today I headed out on a long walk. I was experiencing some labor pains and I wanted to get things moving even more before we headed to the hospital for your delivery. As I walked, I prayed. When I stopped to breathe through a contraction, I prayed.

At 5:01 p.m. on March 7, 2009, you entered the world after a short labor. You were covered in vernix, white and slippery, and your little ears were smooshed down from your cozy position inside me. You had a full head of dark hair, long fingers, and spindly, long newborn legs. I was positive that you were a smaller birthweight than your sister, because you looked so much smaller. But you were essentially the same size, 8 pounds, 5 ounces, 21 inches long.

There is no moment, no emotion, no love like meeting your baby for the first time. My heart was filled with love for you from the first second you were placed on my chest, arms reaching, eyes searching, heart beating. And there you were, perfect little boy. My boy.

By one month we were spiking your long, dark hair into a faux hawk. You were sleeping in your own crib, 3-4 hours at a stretch and wearing size 1 diapers. You experienced a lot of digestive distress, grunting and gagging and spitting up constantly. But you hardly cried.

By two months you had gained 5 pounds and 4 inches on your frame! You were sleeping more like 6-9 hours at a time and were alert, interactive, and full of smiles and coos.

At three months you were sleeping through the night, smiling constantly, pushing up with your legs, and grabbing my face. Your chubby little frame provided hours of kissing pleasure.

You rolled from your front to back by four months. I gave you your first haircut (in Oregon, nonetheless). You were eating like a champ, smiling, laughing, and making our lives so full of joy.

Five months was a lot of fun: rolling back to front, trying rice cereal, smiling, reaching, sitting in a tripod. You also had your first bottle and your first trip to the swimming pool!

Halfway through your first year your first two teeth made their appearance. You were barrel rolling across the floor, scooting on your tummy with your toes tucked under, eating all kinds of yummy vegetables, babbling and banging toys together.

At seven months you were army crawling like a pro! Nothing was out of your path, and you started leaving a path of destruction in your wake. You were standing up and just starting to crawl on all fours. With all those physical developments, your language took a backslide and babbling turned to grunting (for the next few months!) After a few months of night waking you started sleeping through the night once again, much to your Mama's delight. One of our favorite things was watching you blow raspberries with your lower lip stuck out. Darling.

At eight months, you were into everything. Your favorite activities were climbing into the dishwasher (still a fave!), pulling cords, and crawling into small spaces. You started to wave, "Hi!" and screamed and squealed to your heart's content.

Two-thirds of the way through the year you got your 3rd and 4th teeth. You were cruising the furniture, dancing to music, and following your sister everywhere. You continued in your squealing/screaming/grunting phase, cracking us up with your assertive communication techniques.

10 months brought a lot of funny faces and tricks: inhale-whistling, blowing raspberries all the time, dancing with your booty a-shaking, and making fish faces. You had your first overnight (and Mama and Daddy enjoyed their own) at Grammy and Papa's in Oregon. You played in the snow and tread circles in the carpet around your grandparents' coffee table.

By eleven months you became a major contender in the Joyce Household Grocery Budget. Your enthusiasm for eating is nearly unrivaled. We stopped nursing and you took to the bottle at nap and bedtime like a pro! You loved music, Maddie's mini cooper, riding on the trike, playing outside, splashing, and anything involving your big sister. A fifth tooth showed up and you started talking again, saying "Mama" for the first time and waving bye-bye!

At one year, you are a delightful, funny, engaging, easygoing little boy. You love anything that has wheels and can usually be found, in the garage, honking the horn of Maddie's electric car. Just last week I walked into the garage just in time to see you hurl yourself head-first over the side of the car, land with your forehead on the accelerator, and drive yourself, upside down, across the garage. I contemplated grabbing my camera to get it on video but instead rescued you from your legs-in-the-air joyride, plucking gravel and dirt bits from your scalp.

You and your big sister are constantly playing together, and she can get you laughing like no one else. You love to see her first thing in the morning, and she can't wait for you to wake up from your naps. The two of you are a hoot in that mini cooper, driving down the street, or side-by-side on your bikes, helmets on. It is such a joy to see you enjoying each other's company and really engaging one another throughout the day.

I often joke that I'm not ready for you to grow up, that I want you to stay my baby forever. But as hard as it is to lose my baby, I am gaining a sweet, loving, exploring, engaging boy. Each day I pray that I will know how to parent you to as child God had destined you to be, to raise you up to know Him and serve Him, and to live your life for Him. I pray that others will come to know Christ because of your love for Him. I pray you will be loved, cared for, affirmed, encouraged and admired here at home and out in the world.

You are a dream child, full of life and love and enthusiasm. I can't imagine my life without your tender snuggles, sneaky bites and crazy tackles, that gap-tooth grin, those long batting eyelashes, the way you call out my name from your crib, or the deep belly laughs that crinkle up your face and take over your whole body. I praise God for giving you to me. You are such a gift, sweet boy, to me and to the world.

I love you.



Saturday, March 06, 2010

Ready, Set, Go! (Sam's 1st Birthday Party)

Happy 1st Birthday Sam!
Ready, Set, Go!

Today we celebrated our baby boy's first birthday. The theme was race cars, based off a darling Meri Meri invitation I found. From there, I just went crazy with the race cars and checkered flags! Cake: two tiers, two layers each, top tier almond white and the bottom mocha. 24 race car cupcakes. Goldfish, licorice, almonds, fruit snacks, veggie plate, spinach dip, and fresh fruit.

Right before cake we gathered all our family and friends to thank them for the role they play in our life, and the support they are to Samuel. We shared a bit about the meaning of Samuel's name, meaning "God hears," and how we picked it after our scary ordeal during his pregnancy. We then prayed blessings over our son.

After cake we headed outside for the epic bike race. Great fun, and a super idea for anyone planning a party with kids of all ages. Everyone from the Birthday Boy to the big boys (6 years old) loved riding around the cul-de-sac on their bikes, trikes, push toys and electric cars. We spent the remainder of the party outside with the kiddos, watching them enjoy their race.

I handed out ribbons to each of the race participants and let them decorate their ribbons (and bikes) with cool race car stickers. The favor bags included wooden race cars for the boys, buses for the girls, peanut butter and chocolate race cars, car erasers, and car tattoos. Total car awesomeness.

the Spread: snacks, cake and cupcakes

Tutu and the Birthday Boy

Rita and the Birthday Boy blowing bubbles

Daddy, Mama & Sam

Getting suited up for his big moment

Oh, this stuff is pretty good!

The Bike Race starting line

aaaand, they're off!

Taking another lap, just because we can

I think the Birthday Boy had a great day!