Thursday, April 15, 2010

Maddie: 39 Months

My Sweet Maddie,

Happy 3 years and 3 months, my love! These days you are delighting me with your preciousness. It is a good reminder how quickly moods can change from disastrously disagreeable to contented calm.

You are FULL of laughter, finding joy in the simplest of things, from conquering the Holbrooks' rope swing to watching a honeybee on the wisteria in the back yard. Your inquisitive mind hardly ever rests, and you ask the most thoughtful and incredible questions about life and the world around you. Sometimes I have to remind myself not to get frustrated by the nonstop questions but to encourage your love of learning. I often have to remind you not to get frustrated with me for not having all the answers!

You have a sweet and kind spirit. Your prayers reflect a maturity and a care that far exceeds your three years. Just the other night you prayed for "the homeless people, [that God would] give them lettuce, and apples, water to drink and rainbows to look at." I grabbed a pen and paper while you prayed so I wouldn't forget those gems. Too many moments such as those pass by without me remembering the details, and that was a prayer I wanted to immortalize here on this blog.

You continue to amaze me with your patience and love toward Sam. You are gentle and kind, always generous and caring. When he does frustrate you, you rarely respond by lashing out or acting harshly. Generally you move away, tell him "no," or ask for help in removing the source of the problem. When you have hurt him, whether intentionally or accidentally, it crushes your little spirit and you are quick to rush to his side, comforting him with your words and a kind hug. Today on the playground some older boys were telling him "no babies allowed" and you stepped in. You placed your arms around him, your body between he and the older boys, and simply replied, "this is my brother and he can play here, too." When they continued to persist, you turned to Sam, grabbed his hands, and said, "Come on, bud."

You are imaginative and playful, creating hundreds of make-believe scenarios, naming your dolls things like Kena and Moo-Moo-CAH-Coo-Ma. You will play for forty-five minutes on your own, thinking up these imaginative little worlds. Sometimes I cringe to hear you acting out your role as Mama, putting babies and stuffed lambs in time out or talking with them about consequences. But I know that this is part of the way you are working things out, playing the Mama to take back some control and manipulate your own environment. The fact that you do such a good impression of me makes me that much more aware of what I say and how I say it.

Whereas everything used to just roll off your back, you are starting to respond with sadness to others' comments and put-downs. You've approached sulking many times, arms crossed, lip out, and I can tell that you've been hurt. It pains me like nothing else, because I know what it is like to be left out, excluded and put down. And it hurts. My heart just breaks when someone tells you something you can't do, somewhere you can't play, or makes you question something you know about yourself.

The other day I was amazed when I heard myself say, "What do YOU know about you, Maddie Joyce? Who are you? That's right, a big girl. And you know what else? Those comments, those mean girls, they do NOT define you. You are important and valuable and precious because Jesus loves you and you are his precious, precious daughter. Not only that, but he gave you to me and you are my precious daughter. That's who Maddie Joyce is." As soon as the words came out I offered a prayer of thanksgiving to my Heavenly Father who so clearly gave me the wisdom my child needed to hear in that moment of hurt. A minute later, you skipped away happily, the moment over, the feelings changed. Since that day at the park, I continue to repeat these words over and over each time your feelings are hurt, each time you question your value or your identity. I say them as much for me as I do for you.

You are lively, energetic, and a real ham. You are constantly cracking up your Daddy and I. We love your Maddie-isms, your sweet prayers, the songs you make up and the questions you ask. You are fiercely independent and strong-willed, yet each time you approach me, arms raised high, asking for "Mama time," I am reminded that you are still so little. You are still mine. I am still needed. And I will always have open arms to welcome you in, whisper love into your ear, and cuddle you close.

Thanks for being my girl. I'm so glad that you are.



Friday, April 09, 2010

prelude to pipe dreams

It was a beautiful, sunny and warm Spring day, with the kind of ethereal calmness that brides-to-be dream about.

The bride was beautiful in an ivory and blue empire waist dress, curly hair pulled up into a flouncy and playful updo.

The groom was eager with anticipation, the father of the bride beaming with pride.

And three mothers looked on, dreaming, beaming and laughing with joy.

The father walks his blushing bride down the aisle

The darling couple waits as "the guy with the microphone" says a few words

no ceremony is complete without a preacher man

He took her hands in his, smiling at the gathered crowd

She was transfixed, her eyes on the tall, handsome man about to become her wedded husband...

and then that five year-old boy planted a three-second kiss on those lips of hers!

Then the three mothers laughed. Hysterically.

If only we could arrange the marriages now. Tyler to Maddie. Wyatt to Nicole.

But, alas, pipe dreams.

(but just in case, I'll hold onto these pictures for the next couple decades)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Samuel: 13 Months

Hey Bub-Bub,

Happy 13 Months to my toddling man! You've mastered the art of taking a bunch of steps at a time, though you choose carefully when you want to walk, and crawling remains your main mode of transport. You do love to stand up in the middle of the floor, or push to a stand from the fireplace hearth, and you get our attention by calling out, smiling, and clapping at yourself. We are obviously very supportive of your new tricks.

You remain the sweetest, easiest, happy-go-lucky kind of guy. You are flexible and a willing participant in just about any of your sister's crazy activities. You roll with the punches, going down late for a nap, waking up early, riding in the stroller, and crawling along, following Maddie with joy and gusto.

All I have to do is look at you these days and you break out in a huge grin or cackling laughter. I don't even have to make a face! You just think I'm hilarious and it is great for my morale. All I have to do is make eye contact and we have ourselves a little moment.

It's nearly impossible to get a picture of you sitting still these days. You are on. the. go. I have tried multiple Easter photos with you in your Reyn Spooner shirt (thanks, Kelly!) and Maddie in her dress, to no avail. You won't sit still, nor will you let Maddie put her arms around you. To be still is torture, to move divine.

I was laughing with a friend today about just how adventurous you are. You climbed to the top of a toddler play structure, then climbed on top of the bench inside the structure, and as I approached to rescue you, you tumbled off the bench and down a slide, headfirst, crashing onto the rubberized mat below. Not one second after I picked you up you were ready to get down and climb back up. Crazy.

Like your sister, eating with you is always an adventure. You love to eat and will consume just about any food I put in front of you, even though it may take a few tries to convince you it's worth your time. You love to steal the spoon away and feed yourself. Every couple of days I'll let you feed yourself yogurt, and I'd say you follow the rule of thirds: 1/3 in your mouth, 1/3 on or around your mouth, and 1/3 on your bib and on the table. It's as fun for finger painting as it is for eating! You especially love fruit, crackers, cheese, yogurt and anything your sister is eating. And the occasional piece of sidewalk chalk. Yum.

You are quiet and sneaky at times, finding your way into corners and bathtubs and closets, leaving me playing "find the baby" as I search high and low. I call your name and you refuse to answer, preferring that I grow more anxious by the second as I search, dumbfounded. No room is off-limits, no space too small.

Just last week you discovered the dryer drum and its warm, cozy environment. Now every time I am doing laundry I have to distract you because you make it really difficult to load and unload the clothes!

In the past week, another side of my sweet boy has started to emerge: dramatics. When you are refused a toy or access to a room, you throw yourself down on the floor, face first, and squeal loudly. No, it's not just squealing, it's full-on, high-pitched screaming. And it's hilarious. Today I watched as you threw yourself to the floor and barrel rolled across the bedroom, screaming in protest. (I think I closed the door so you couldn't hurl yourself face first down the stairs. I know. I'm a horrible mom who allows you so little of the good things in life.)

It will be interesting to see if these little episodes of drama evolve into toddler tantrums. You are so easy so much of the time. Am I beginning to see a shift?

This week I have had many of those great moments that make all my hard work seem worthwhile. One night I asked for kisses and you grabbed a lock of my hair, pulled me toward you, and spent the next 1-2 minutes leaving big, sloppy "MWAH"s all over my face. On a trip to town a few days ago, I listened with pure joy as Maddie had you in hysterics, bobbing your head and kicking your feet as you let out big belly laughs. Yesterday after Maddie took a particularly bad fall, she was sitting in my lap and you leaned your little face toward her, giving her a kiss right on her mouth. It's moments like these that my heart just sighs. It's those tender and hilarious moments that remind me anew that you are such a gift, such a gracious, sweet gift from God to me.

Thanks for making our lives so rich with your laughter, screams, giggles, games, claps, walks and full-octave sounds. You are so much fun to have in our family!



Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter 2010

looking at the Easter Basket map

Sam loved taking his toys out of the basket

Easter hugs!

all fancied up for church with Boppa & Tutu

end of the day Easter outfit shot (two tired kiddos)

Easter outfit shot attempt #2 (two busy kids)

seriously, Mom, enough with the pictures

sitting pretty

standing machine

my little Easter bunny

tippy toes searching for eggs

Mr. Destructor with the spilled basket of eggs

onto the next egg!

now I'm ready for my shot!

Springtime Adventures

Dear Springtime,

By now we know that Springtime in NoCal means teaser weeks that bring 70 and 80 degree days. We've learned to make the most of these delightful weeks, which are always followed by a deluge of rain, such as yesterday. Easter delivered a rainy, dismal day and I found myself thumbing through my last few weeks of pictures, pining for sun. A look back at your former, warmer days:

swinging on our hammock

visiting our friends (and conquering former inabilities)

visiting our many local parks

ice cream/gelato/froyo: if it's cold and delicious, we're in!

taking long nature walks

splashing in our fountain

learning new tricks!

Warm weather, come back! We miss you! We're ready to get outside and burn off some of our Spring Break energy.

Maddie, Sam, Ben & Becky