Evie – 4 Months

Dear Evie,

You turned 4 months old a week ago. Why am I just now writing this letter to you? Well, quite frankly I’ve been entirely too busy to sit down and get my thoughts together. Your 4-month birthday fell on Friday and then we spent all weekend in Omaha so we could take you, your brother, and your cousins to the Omaha zoo. Yes, we do have a local zoo here in KC, but the one in Omaha is so much better. We got to explore an indoor Rain Forest, a Desert, and of course the aquarium, which seemed to be your favorite. You loved watching the fish swim around. The only things you didn’t seem to care for were the heat and the fact that I couldn’t feed you at the exact second you decided you were hungry.

Seriously?  I have to stay in this thing all day?

This last month with you has been so much fun. You are really noticing things around you now (like the fish!). You watch with great interest when your brother is nearby as he’s always doing something silly. You also love to grab at your toys and (more often than not) shove them into your mouth. Every time I lay you down in your crib you reach toward your little pink teddy bear that Zachary brought you at the hospital. You can’t always pick it up by yourself, but you try so hard.

You are getting the movement thing down pretty well actually. You’re arms aren’t so shaky when you reach for things now and on July 1st you rolled over for the first time. You rolled from your back to your tummy and Mommy, Daddy, and Zachary all got to see you do it. It took a week or so for you to get really good at it, but now I can’t lay you down anywhere without you trying to roll away. It makes me so nervous when I leave you in my bed in the mornings, but I don’t want to move you or I’m afraid you’ll wake up.

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Speaking of sleeping, you have learned to put yourself to sleep. It is this amazing thing that I didn’t even realize was possible until you just did it one night. I needed a few minutes to help your brother get settled in bed so I put you down in the pack ‘n’ play. When I came back, you were sound asleep without so much as a peep. I thought maybe it was a fluke so I tried it the next night and you went right to sleep again. You also seem to have put yourself on a sleep schedule which is amazing as well. You are ready for bed every night around 8:00 to 8:30 and if I just lay you down you go right to sleep. You still wake up quite often during the night to eat, but not having to fight (or listen to a screaming baby) at bedtime makes it all worth it. The next step will be getting you to sleep through the night in your own bed. I have to admit I’m not in a huge hurry for that though because I’ll miss snuggling with you all night. You’ve recently gotten in the habit of holding my hand and most nights you sleep tucked inside my arm with our hands intertwined.

My absolute favorite time of day with you is when you first wake up in the morning. You are so happy. You often do your happy growl and babble on and on like you are telling me a story. It makes it so hard for me to get out of bed because I would rather just stay there and have conversations with you all day. I expect that those morning sessions will be some of my favorite memories of you as a baby.

What am I supposed to do with this?

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that you were staring me down at dinner time. You would follow every bite I took with your eyes. You watched as I moved my fork from my plate to my mouth. I figured if you were that interested in what I was eating, maybe you were ready to start eating some food of your own. A few days later I gave you your first taste of rice cereal. I mixed it with formula the first time since I didn’t have any extra breast milk pumped but you ate the entire bowl. The next night you refused it. Then I tried mixing it with a little apple juice and water and you’ve been a happy girl ever since. You love your cereal now and when it’s time to eat you have your mouth open and waiting for each spoon full.

Besides all of the other firsts you’ve experienced this past month, you also received your first real injury. While attempting to play with you at day care, your brother accidentally let go of a toy and it ended up hitting you right smack on the eye. You had a pretty nice bruise on your eyelid for about a week but it’s all better now. I’m sure it is the first of many bumps and bruises you will receive from him during your life.

My Beautiful Girl-2

Evie, you are growing so fast. It seems like you get bigger and bigger every day. Tomorrow you go to the doctor for a check-up and you’ll get weighed and measured. I’m anxious to see just how much you have gained in both height and weight. The last time I weighed you at home you were just over sixteen pounds and I’m sure you’ve gained more since then. I love watching you grow, but there’s a little part of me that wishes I could just keep you tiny forever.

Love always,
Mama

Three

Dear Zachary,

Oh my sweet boy, where do I even begin? The three years since your birth have been the most challenging and the most joy-filled years of my life. There have been times when I have been frustrated to the point of tears, but still when I look at your face I can feel nothing but love. You have this hold on my heart unlike anything I have ever known.

Zach

Last weekend we celebrated your 3rd birthday, even though it was a few days early. We had a Cars party at the park, where you and your friends got to play in the wading pool and fountains. Your Grandma and Aunt Tanya made your cake because they seem to think that homemade cakes are much better than store bought. It is a good thing they are around to do things like that for you since baking isn’t exactly my specialty. You were so excited when you saw the cake that you somehow managed to fall…right onto the cake. Only your hand landed on the cake, but it still did a bit of damage. Fortunately it was still in the box and Grandma was able to somewhat rescue the icing that got messed up, but I was a little sad that I didn’t get a picture of it before the mishap.

Cars Cake

While we sat at the park enjoying the sunshine with family and friends, I though about all the changes you have been through in the last year. Some have been easy for you. Others have been very, very hard. You went from a small home day care into a school setting. We took away your noonie (pacifier), which seemed to trigger the night terrors that you had for nearly three months afterward. Then there was the potty training. You finally figured that out just in time for your little sister to arrive and shake your world up again. And finally, we switched you back to another home day care, where you seem to be much more settled. That’s a lot of big changes in a short period of time.

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Between all of the major life changes and the “Terrible Two’s” it has been a very challenging year. I’ve seen behaviors that I never thought my kid would have. I’ve tried everything I can thing of to combat those behaviors and I still haven’t found anything that will work with you. You are a very strong-willed child, unlike any other I’ve ever met. I’ve resorted to spanking you more times that I like to admit and often ended up in tears of frustration on my way to work in the mornings because of it. We’ve tried time-outs, rewards for good behavior, and every other tactic I can think of but nothing ever seems to really work. I know it is ridiculous, but I just keep thinking that someday, somehow, I will find a way to get through to you.

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Despite our many battles, you are still able to charm the pants off of me. You are such a little comedian and absolutely love to make your dad and I laugh. You are constantly saying silly things just to see what kind of reaction you can get. I have a feeling you are going to be quite the class clown when you get older. When you think you are being funny you get this little twinkle in your eyes and smile so big that I can’t help but to laugh. The latest phrase you have picked up is “Hey, come on now guys!” which is usually said in protest of something and is more often than not followed up by “Just a couple minutes!”, but I still find it to be so darn cute that it usually gets a chuckle anyway.

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It sometimes amazes me that you can remember so much of what you hear. You can quote many of the lines from your favorite movies and only need to hear a few notes of a song before you can tell me what it is. And of course you love to repeat anything and everything that your Daddy says. Sometimes you surprise me by repeating things that I didn’t even know you heard, which means that your dad and I need to start being a little more careful about what we say in front of you. The worst part is when I realize you are picking up bad habits that I didn’t even know I had. It is only when I try to figure out where you get it from that I realize you got it from me.

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Zach, you are getting so big now. Instead of a baby or toddler, I now have to say I have a little boy. You have your own thoughts and opinions about things and they don’t always coincide with mine. That’s something that we both need to get used to. The best part of it though is that we can carry on actual conversations together (even if they are mostly about your race cars). Some of my favorite times with you right now are when we are in the car on the way to or from day care. Without the distraction of TV or toys, you let your mind wander and we have some very interesting conversations. You often ask about the elementary school playground that we pass and I always have to tell you that you can play there when you get bigger. Well son, you are getting bigger and bigger every day, and no matter how much I wish I could slow it down, before long you will be playing on that playground – without Mommy there to protect you.

Zach

The one thing I hope you’ll always remember – whether you’re on that playground or off at college – is that your Mommy is always here for you and will always love you, no matter what.

Love always,
Mama

We Didn’t Even Have To Use The Straight Jackets

This…

The Grandkids

…was my biggest accomplishment of the weekend. It took nearly a week of planning, but we managed to get all 6 grandkids together, dressed, and posed for a picture. They may not be smiling, but at least they were all looking at the camera! We’ve been wanting to do this for a while and decided that Father’s Day was a great reason to finally get it done. It helped that I had already scheduled our family portraits to be done anyway so the rest of the kids just came and joined us.

Family

The photographer at was great with the kids. He had them all the little ones laughing and smiling. Zach really loved him and was totally hamming it up for the camera.

Siblings

The photos were all so good that I had a really hard time choosing which ones to buy. Here are a few more of the kids but you can see all of my favorite shots over on Flickr.

Snuggle

Zach

Composite