Saturday, January 22, 2011

She's Three With No Mimi

Three-year-olds don't use mimis. At least that was the information that we had been feeding to our three-year-old for the week leading up to her birthday party. She seemed to be pretty good with that theory. Repeating it after us and appearing to be excited about turning three and getting rid of the pacifier. The three-year-old pacifier, mind you. Gross. 

Of course, the actual execution wasn't nearly as simple as all that, nor did we expect it to be. The first night there were a great deal of tears, hugs and a good amount of bribery as well. It probably didn't help that she didn't get a nap that day. The second day, nap-time was difficult, but not impossible and bed-time, while not a speedy process, held fewer sobs. Tonight, she got out of bed approximately a hundred times, but at least there was no crying. We went with the cold turkey, bribery tactic; trading a new toy for the old binky. It wasn't pretty, but it worked for us. And while it has really taken about a week to be finally ok with going to bed without arguing and fussing and cajoling, we finally got rid of the pacifier. 

But this is about celebration. And although we are trying to celebrate the end of a beautiful relationship (that first night sounded like her first heartbreak) we had more fun with the party. Papa picked up the beautiful flowers for our princess and we decked the place out with pretty birthday banners. 

I can hardly believe I really have a three-year old. Everyone always says how quickly the time flies, and it is so stinking true. While there are always plenty of times that she drives me crazy, I love this adorable little sprite so much. She has a lot of passion and energy and brings so much joy to our days. 

Like a normal preschooler, she can be excessively shy or silly and outgoing. She gives the very best hugs ever, wrapping her tiny arms tight around your neck like she never wants to let go. Her vocabulary is getting larger by the day even though we can't always understand what she is actually saying. She loves books and usually "reads" a couple after she goes to bed and when I go in to give her one last covering up before I go to bed, she is often still holding a book.  When I ask her what she is thankful for at night she always says, "Mama, Daddy, Baby Emmett, Ana, Papa, kitty, books, Mama, Daddy, Randi." A few get repeated several times.

She loves purple right now and had to have the purple frosting on her cupcake. Every day we put her hair up in ponys  and the little perfect curls make me smile every time. Her favorite game is "see-see." Yeah, that's also one of her words for many things. It could mean cookie, candy cane, or in the instance of her favorite game, Chase. It is too bad we don't have a house with a circular run like many floor plans because we get dizzy going around the dining room table too many times. We'll add in running around the baby, the coffee table, or some other object lying on the floor. She could go for an hour.

She can play quite well by herself, but she also has times when she absolutely needs someone to play with her. Right. Now. Her Great-Poppy gave her the old play kitchen that has been in the family for forever and it is safely tucked into her closet with all the china dishes and tea sets. Some of her favorite toys are the tiniest ones. We have to remember to keep them up and off the floor so baby brother doesn't eat them, but she is enamored with tiny-ness. Her special prize for going to bed the first night without the pacifier was a little Strawberry Shortcake market set. The smallest bottles of strawberry juice, (literally 1/2 inch) a single slice of tiny cake on a plate and she carefully puts each of them on the little market shelves.  

Her favorite mac and cheese--even though it looked a little different than the last time she had some and she had to actually be talked into eating the first bite--with lots of hidden veggies. We have recently had a break-through with getting her to eat more balanced meals. I picked up a couple separated tray-like plates in the Target and if I put something different into each section, she will at least eat a bite from all of them. 

Happy three, my little lady. I love you more than I ever thought I could.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

8 or 9

Somehow the months keep rushing past us. I keep taking fewer and fewer photos, but loving more and more moments with my little guy. I just can't get enough of you. You giggle at the slightest provocation and are ticklish in almost every spot. Finally, with two little teeth, you give the best big grins. Even with the paci in, your whole face lights up when you see your Mama coming.

You are eating lots of solid foods. At least two square meals a day, if not three. You've got that pincer-grasp down pat and love your peas, bananas, pears, bread crumbs or anything else you can cram in that baby face of yours.  You're messy as can be and happy as a clam with your mouth full. Every time I give you a bottle, I spend most of the time kissing your little head and face. I simply can't help it, you are so yummy.

Last month, we dedicated you to the Lord. It is an important reminder that you are not really just my baby, but you are His. I just get to borrow you and snuggle you for a bit! I'm trying to enjoy every minute of it. We don't know what your life will bring, or who you will end up becoming, but we know it will be great. We want only the very best for you and pray that you will choose to give Him your life as well. 

You loved your first thanksgiving and happily ate potatoes and peas and rolls. Whenever there are lots of people about, you are highly entertained and happy. You just can't take naps in nursery anymore because there is too much to watch, too much going on. The nursery workers all say that you are the happiest baby in the room, even when it is hours past your nap time. If they only knew you four months ago!

 8 months

This year was a crazy Christmas, but fortunately, you were little enough to just go with the flow and not notice the stress and busyness. You napped practically anywhere we laid you down, and loved anyone who came to watch you. You were so sweet and handsome posing for your Christmas pictures. Sissy isn't always a fan of the camera anymore, but you still love it. And you love her. You love watching her dance and laugh whenever she laughs. 

One of your favorite places is the grocery store. So long as I have something for you to nibble on while we shop, you are content to ride in the seat of the cart as long as I want to browse. There is so much for you to see! And of course, you always flirt with whoever is behind us in line. You smile your huge smiles and tip your head all the way to the side to make anyone else smile right back.

A favorite thing that you do is pat. Pat, pat, pat. Whenever you are being held, you pat. If you are sitting in your high chair, you pat the chair. Not always with the same hand, and not all the time, but it is so sweet and cute. You say, "mama," and, "dada," but we're not at all sure you're referring to us. But we pretend all the same and keep reminding you who is who and what your name is too.

You love animals. You don't mind one bit if a huge dog licks all over your face and you get so excited when the kitty walks through the room. She's not at all sure she's so excited about you yet. Just wait until you really get moving, then we'll see how she feels! 

There seems to be a great deal more grunting with you than there ever was with your sister. You will not only chatter endlessly and gurgle at everyone, but you grunt all the time. Just for the sake of making noise, I think. Probably just because you are a boy, and that's just a boy noise. Daddy is waiting until you can make airplane noises and pretend laser sounds and guitar riffs. I think he wants to have an excuse to make those noises himself. 

You have spent a lot of time on your belly lately. No crawling as of yet. But lots of flipping over. Every time I change you or lay you down, you flip immediately. And for some reason, you seem to think that you can't flip back when you're perfectly capable. But alas, you often wake yourself up from a nap or nighttime to find yourself on your belly and very upset. Silly baby, just roll over! I'm afraid of losing you once you do learn to crawl though. You're very curious and I believe you will disappear easily. These are the good ol' days when I can just plop you in the middle of a pile of toys and know that you won't go anywhere. You might get yourself stuck on your belly or decide you need something new to play with, but you won't get lost.

 You and your sissy can sit and watch tv so happily. The past couple weeks you both got in way more tv babysitting than usual, but you aren't any the worse for the wear. Plus, who can argue with the snuggle time? You both play so well together in the tubby and she sometimes shares her toys with you. She doesn't always take them away at least.

Little man, you are a joy in our lives and we treasure each day with you. Just when I think you can't get any sweeter, you absolutely do. May we have a million kisses and a million more days. 

Sunday, January 02, 2011


I want to tell you a story. It’s not a bedtime story and it’s not a fairy tale, but it does have a happy ending. 

 There once was a little girl with one green eye and one brown, and she knew that this made her very special.  She was always on the go, full of life and fun and joy. This little girl was also a big sister; a job that she took quite seriously. She loved to look after her sisters and her brother, even mother them. They were a good bit younger than she was, but they often turned to her for advice and she loved caring for them, inspiring their imaginations, and teaching them all the good things of life that she had already learned. Her little siblings always wanted to spend time with her, to play and even go to movies with her. She would write and direct little shows for them to act in and entertain the whole family. The little girl kindly listened to her siblings, nurturing them and enjoying her role as big sissy, even including them in her activities when she was a teen. They were so fortunate to have the richness of her protection and love throughout their childhood.
Family was very important to this little girl. She loved their holiday traveling and was raised with a great interest and appreciation for her family’s long heritage and history. Every year she looked forward to when they could go to the cottage on the lake in the summer and she would swim like a fish in the warm shallow water and lay for hours reading in the sun on the dock.
Our little girl also loved animals. When she was a bit bigger, she got her very own horse, which she believed was considerably better than a car. The horse’s name was Buck and every day she rode him like the wind through the fields and pastures, her long brown hair blowing behind her and her cares blowing away down the green hills. She loved to take her siblings with her to the barn to see her horse, often trying to get them to ride with her and letting them know he was fun and safe even when he seemed so large and scary.

One ordinary day, this girl was enjoying a regular afternoon at home. There weren’t many channels on tv back then and the one that just so happened to be on was a showing of a Billy Graham Crusade. She chose to leave it on that station and it didn’t take long for the girl to understand that Mr. Graham was talking to her when he spoke of how everyone needs to know Jesus. From that extraordinary moment on, this girl’s life would be different. She knew she wasn’t perfect, but she also knew that since she had given her life to Him she would be in His hands no matter what.
As she grew, her heart grew as well and she took in more loves. Every little girl dreams of a beautiful wedding and hers was no exception. Early in the fall with her family surrounding her she started her grown-up life. She then wanted nothing more than to have babies and a home of her own. This girl could never say, “no” to any challenge and with her new husband helped to build two houses and always kept her home cozy and filled with good, nourishing foods. She raised sheep and chickens and goats and enjoyed growing many of her own herbs and vegetables. She loved living among the trees with flowers and greenery all around her. She loved reading and writing and she loved the television. She definitely shared an appreciation for story with her children. Mysteries and crime dramas were some of her favorites and she could watch Anne of Green Gables a million times. She loved old photos of family and what many would probably call old junk and she was always on the hunt for a great deal at a garage sale. She was crafty and she decorated her home, baked and canned and gardened with love for her family as well as others. She would never hesitate to give the gift of her time or her friendship to anyone who needed it. Her many friends cherished her and knew she was a true friend. 

Daily she tried to instill godly values and truth in her children. She loved them desperately and always wanted the very best for them. Often she prayed for them and even prayed for the hearts of the people they would later love and marry. Children brought her so much joy and she was one of those who could make any baby or child smile.

She loved with her actions. Not only would she give of her time or effort but she was also a hugger and a kisser. She loved with her words. She spoke encouragement and cards were regularly sent to many for birthdays and just because she wanted others to know she was thinking of them. When her children were away from home she would send letters and care packages aplenty.  She loved with her gifts. If you complimented her on something of hers, it was possible that she would hand it to you outright with no question.

Of her many gifts, this girl had the gift of hospitality.  All were welcome in her home and at her table.  When her children were in school, she worked diligently to provide the ability to send them to a Christian school. To help with their tuition, she even became the school librarian. With her great love of books and ability to do well with anything she tried, she was the best librarian they had ever had. The students all knew that they could crash the serenity of her small haven of books and she would listen and let them just be the kids they were. Silence was never a prerequisite in her room and one often could hear her huge, infectious laugh ring over the rest of them.

The girl never hid her faith in Jesus. She studied the Scriptures regularly and gained an invaluable knowledge of the Word. Whatever she did, she did to praise her Lord. She sang with her whole heart and she strove to honor Him with her choices. 

Of course, like everyone else, she wasn’t perfect nor did she always make the right choices. She had plenty of passion and fire and boy, did she have a temper! One would have thought she was in target practice, because when she got riled up she had quite an arm! But in spite of the occasional temper, she was never too proud to apologize. She always took the time to set relationships right.

Unfortunately, our girl’s body betrayed her. When she found herself getting frequently dizzy and her hands and feet became continually tingly, she knew something was wrong. But, like I said before, our girl had a hard time saying, “no.” She wasn’t about to let this get her without going down fighting. This girl tried every therapy, attempted every possible clinical trial and made every effort for healing. 

 It was a long, hard battle. Even unto the very end she fought her body. Yet it simply wasn’t a fight she would win. Her body got more unfaithful and continually weaker. Her grandma had always told her to slow down and now, all of a sudden, she didn’t have a choice in the matter. When it eventually became impossible to walk and she needed much more care than her family was capable of providing, she made the choice to move to a full-time care home. For too many years, she was merely able to emotionally trudge through each day, initially responding in great anger at the frustration of being unable to do anything for herself or the injustice she likely felt at life. Her mind didn’t even treat her fairly. She lost many of her memories and her ability to distinguish those she loved. Slowly, she accepted her life. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t nice, but she kept her eyes on Jesus and she kept His Words before her on her walls. Even in the anger and even when she would lash out at anyone near her, she knew she wasn’t alone; she wasn’t in this by herself. 

Many prayed for her regularly, visited her weekly, sent her cards and gifts and flowers consistently. Our girl was loved by those who served her, and she was served by those who loved her.
 Though she never really was, “our” girl, was she? When she was young, she committed her entire life to her Savior, Jesus. She wasn’t her own; she didn’t belong to her family or her friends or anyone else. She was His. She is His. He has had her in His hand her entire life here. We live in an endlessly broken world. Death and destruction and pain are all around us. We surely cannot understand the whys or the whens, but we do know this; He is Truth and He is Life. He always gives Life and restoration. It is not a trifle to say that she is with her Savior. She is whole, she is well, she is alive. Death was conquered so many centuries ago for each of us. Her life still speaks of His life. Her love spoke of His love.

She loved each of us. In different ways and for different seasons, but she loved us truly and fully. She loved us with His love. We will miss this girl; miss her desperately. We’ll miss who she was and what she brought to our lives. We’ll miss who she inspired us to become. But she is where she wants to be, where she always desired to be. She is where we want her to be. Her death wasn’t easy, she fought for her last breath, but it was good. It is a cliché to hear that someone is in a better place, but God has promised it and His promises never fail. Not one time.

I told you I would tell you a story with a happy ending, but that isn’t completely true. You see, I don’t really know the ending to the story. C.S. Lewis put it best at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia, a series she had read several times. Let me read you the final passage. The characters have just realized that Aslan’s country is the real Narnia, and they were merely in the old Narnia—a shadow of what was to come. 

 “It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow completely different -- deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: a story you have never heard but very much want to know.
     The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can't describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.
     It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground, and then he cried:
     "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that is sometimes looked a little like this. Come further up, come further in!"
"The semester is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
The things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

 I love you, Mom. Can't wait to see you again and have a real talk and lots of laughs.