Thursday, January 30, 2014

Evan: Months 9 & 10

Dear E,

I wish time could stand still. Nine and ten months are two of my most favorite times in the life of a baby, and you, my last baby, are making these fleeting days so incredibly enjoyable. You are, in one word, delicious.

Your soft, pudgy body is perfect for kissing and cuddling. Fresh from the bath, you are delightfully velvety. No one can resist baby in a diaper. We follow you around, waiting for our turn to scoop you up, zurbit that round belly, nibble those dimpled thighs, nuzzle in your cozy neck space.

You are walking and talking in the course of one month. A few days after turning nine months you took your first steps, 2 or 3 of them, across the room. We all looked at each other in wonder and delight, immediately followed by panic. "What will we do with a walking baby?!!!" Well, we've managed. These days you will walk across a room, 11 or 12 steps at a time, and change direction.

You say "Ah duh!" when you want to get out of your high chair, waving your hands wildly with the sign for all done. You call out "Dada!" when you see him. You look for "Da!" and pant happily to see Hanalei or your favorite pull-toy dog lying next to you. You give hearty waves goodbye and hello to your favorite friends and complete strangers. It is so much fun to see you communicating.

You are an incredibly easy baby, which for months made me feel a little guilty, until I embraced the fact that 3 1/2 is where my kids really get tricky, and so I'm just going to sit back and really soak up the next few years. You go to sleep without a fuss or tear. You wake up in the happiest of moods and will sing quietly to yourself for a looong time, allowing me to linger in bed and enjoy the sweet sounds that drift out of your room.

There are plenty of days where I miss nursing and the closeness of having you next to me, yet I've also found this great delight in a child who falls asleep so easily on his own, who reaches for his bed with joy and relief, who needs no more snuggles from Mama when sleepy. You are plenty snuggly the entire day, happy to be held close, and so I don't ever miss out on an opportunity to snatch you up and hold you tight. We took some long hikes this past week, and you were so content to ride in the ergo, holding on tight. You only grew antsy when you couldn't see your siblings, and would throw your body weight around to spot them.

You are a fearless explorer. You mastered going up the stairs in a day, and within a month you learned to lower yourself down, slowly, on your belly. You quickly discovered which child locks are faulty and will give way to a cupboard full of forbidden treasures. You enjoy sitting in and emptying the dishwasher for me. You are intrigued by the spinning clothes in the washer and dryer and have found the buttons that make noise (thank goodness for child locks on those!) You mouth everything but don't swallow anything but food. A true third child your life is surrounded by little lego parts, marker caps, doll shoes and playmobil weapons but you've learned to pass them by.

You are officially out of your infant seat, having surprised me by towering in the 99th percentile for height at 10 months. You weight 21 and a half pounds and have a full head of blonde hair, much like your brother's thickness and texture at this age. 

You love to eat! You are sort of finicky about baby food pouches these days, throwing aside those you don't really care for (followed by liquid splattering unbelievable distances across the floor). You prefer finger food and will chow down on meat and cheese, broccoli, whole apples, and even bite at raw veggies.

Your Daddy has threatened to go in and wake you up nearly every night after we've put you to bed. He says he's "baby crushing" you. :) You're just so much fun that we hate when your day is done. We want to play with you and be entertained by you. We scoop you up with delight, throw you in the air, delighting in that deep belly giggle. 

Thank you for bringing so much unexpected, undeserved love and joy into our house. I can't imagine a more perfect third child to complete our little family. You are a pure, delicious delight and I am so, so grateful to God every day for your life.



Sam: 58 Months

Dear SamGino,

The only way to describe the love between us these days is like the force of a strong magnet: when turned the right way, we attract and cling together with ferocity and devotion; but when turned the wrong way, we repel each other with matching ferocity and frustration. It's maddening, this love and this season. 

When you are sweet, the whole room is lit up with your smile. Your words flow out like a soothing stream and coat those around you with kindness. I've seen you reach out to your sister in her distress with such generosity of spirit that it instantly soothes her spirit.

When you are snuggly, there is no warmth like the coziness of your sinewy little body. Pure muscle, you melt like butter into the arms of someone you adore. You love to have your back scratched, your limbs massaged, your hair tousled. 

Your mind is amazingly creative and you can spend endless hours making the most incredible things out of legos. You have started looking up things on youtube and creating them with laser focus and quick-moving fingers, finding the right pieces faster than I can even register their shape.

Yet, when you are mad, it's as if the room stands still. You erupt like a volcano, spewing words of hateful lava in a destructive path around you. The angry words that come out surprise and shock me.

When you don't get your way, you reject any form of consolation and storm off, slamming doors, throwing toys, destroying order and wielding chaos like a weapon of war.

A project gone wrong is a project waiting to be stomped on, ripped apart, thrown across the room, often accompanied by frustrated tears.

For the first three and a half years of your life, you were a sweet and easygoing little guy. These days you are still sweet as can be, yet with a whole other side that comes out like a dragon unleashed. I pray for the wisdom to parent you well without being overwhelmed in the intense moments. I encourage you to make mistakes, to try and fail, to reach out with no assurance of reciprocity, and stand back a few paces to see how things unfold.

I wouldn't have it any other way. This is how God has made you, and he knew what he was doing when he made me your Mama. I wish at times I could soothe you more easily, such as when you were a baby with a boo-boo that I could gently kiss away. But the reassurance is more nuanced now, and my words and affection can only do so much in your burgeoning independence.

I love you, my sweet and ferocious boy. I'm so thankful for how you continue to amaze me and stretch me simultaneously. 



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Madeleine Noelle: Seven Years Old

Dear Madeleine Noelle,

You are SEVEN years old now. Seven! Someone once told me that the odd numbers always seem the most unbelievable, and I think it's true. "Seven" just sounds so old. And if I could sum up the last month, I think it would have the title Seven: Sweet, Sassy, Spirited Sister.

photos by the amazing Becky at

First, your sweetness. You are just filled to the brim with love. You always have the kindest words to say to people, genuine and encouraging words that show how much you notice. When people are encouraged by you, their faces light up and their steps get bouncier. You just have this great effect on those around you and it is a joy to watch!

After months and months and months of the most amazing behavior, we entered a new season of sass. Oh, the sassiness!! It is one of the most difficult things for me to endure. I think it's the element of disrespect, maybe, or the attitude of know-it-all-ness that comes along with the sass, but it just really gets under my skin. I know that you are trying out a lot of new sayings and things you learn at school, and it's just part of enforcing our own family boundaries, but, Girl! We are so ready for this season of sass to pass.

With your brothers, these two dichotomous characteristics come into play. I can't imagine a sweeter big sister to Evan. He feels safe with you, he adores you, and his whole body lights up when you come near. It's like he has another little Mama who attends to his needs, hears his cries, speaks so sweetly to him, and sacrifices for him. I absolutely love watching you interact with him; it moves my heart so!

Then there's Sam. Man, oh man, you guys fight like cats and dogs these days. It's relentless. At times I find myself saying things I can't possibly believe just to stop the madness. All those things I swore I'd never say?? Totally using them. "I'll pull over and stop this car right now!" "Quit being a jerk!" "Would you talk to your teacher/friend like that?!" I'm really hoping this year things turn around and we find some more peace in how we all relate to one another.

Your birthday celebrations were a lot of fun. This was a "no party" year so we had a small family surprise for you at Chuck-e-Cheese over Christmas vacation. Grammy, Papa, Uncle Joe, Uncle Ben & Aunt Michele plus all your cousins were there. SO MUCH FUN! I couldn't imagine liking such a place, but seeing you so thrilled just made my heart leap for joy!

Back at home, your birthday was a great day! Auntie Jennie sent you flowers and a stuffed bear to school. The boys and I brought In-and-Out for lunch. We planned a special family dinner (you requested seafood and Brussels Sprouts). 

The day after your birthday we had a small playdate with five friends. You all drank strawberry chocolate tea and enjoyed tea biscuits and cookies.

Your joyful, imaginative, exuberant spirit brings us all such joy! We are so lucky to have you in our lives! Every day we thank God that you are growing in his image, and this year we are especially grateful for how you are growing in hearing God's voice in your life, learning to be comforted by Jesus in moments of distress, and how you are more quick to apologize and seek reconciliation. All these things are evidences of God's grace and work in your life! We love you Madeleine Noelle!