One Year

Dear Evie,

St. Patrick’s Day of 2008 was probably the first year ever that I couldn’t have cared less about a holiday that is good for nothing other than parades and partying. That year there was no time for parades or doing anything other than thinking about you. It was a cold rainy day and I spent the entire day hanging out with your brother and packing for the hospital. I was so excited knowing that I would get to see you and hold you in my arms the next day.

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We packed the car up after Daddy got home, stopped and had dinner, then headed to Grandma’s where we spent the rest of the evening. Daddy, Grandma, and I stayed up way too late watching movies but it didn’t really matter because it wasn’t like I could sleep anyway. I could hardly sit still knowing what was headed our way.

Daddy and I got up super early to head to the hospital. Since my doctor was expecting you to be big, she was inducing labor 10 days before my due date. For me it couldn’t come fast enough. It seemed like forever before the nurses got me all hooked up and set things in motion.

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Finally, at 2:22 p.m., on March 18, 2008 you were born after only a few short pushes. You gave us a little scare when you didn’t take that first breath and cry right away but I’m sure what seemed like an eternity to us was really only a few seconds. Shortly after that you were in my arms and I think that if the whole world had melted away at that moment I wouldn’t have even noticed.

From that moment on my life has been completely changed. Being the mother of two children is so much different than being the mother of only one. It makes life a lot more stressful, but the good times are so much better when we’re all together. Now that you’re getting a little bit older I can see the bond forming between you and your brother. I love watching you together. The two of you actually play together now. You steal his toys. He steals yours. He gets frustrated at you but then a few seconds later he’s talking to you and trying to make you laugh. The sound of you two laughing together? That is the absolute best sound ever. I don’t ever want to forget what that sounds like.

Portraits March 2009

Speaking of sounds, you are talking up a storm these days. It seems like you have a new word every day, though your favorite is still “hi!”. Anytime someone walks into the room you tell them hi and sometimes string a name along with it. I’ve heard you say “hi kitty”, “hi dada”, “hi caitlin”, and “hi ack (zach)”. You say “uh-oh” when you drop something and “done” when you are finished eating. The last couple of days you’ve been trying to say “bye-bye” but it comes out sounding more like “bubba”.

We’ve been expecting you to take those first independent steps any day now. A couple of weeks ago you started walking all over the place with push toys, but you just aren’t quite ready to let go yet. Sometimes you’ll walk holding onto my hands, but most of the time you still prefer to drop to your knees and crawl. You have perfected the jello legs and drop right down when you have had enough of the walking.

Portraits March 2009

Besides the walking, you have started climbing EVERYTHING. I have to be careful leaving you alone for too long or I’ll find you standing on top of toys, chairs, laundry baskets, or whatever else you manage to climb up on. I’m glad you’re getting more adventurous, but I’m terrified you are going to fall and get hurt. This morning when we made a quick stop at the grocery store for cupcakes (to replace the ones mommy lovingly made and your brother flipped upside down) I caught you standing up in the grocery cart seat and nearly had a heart attack. You can bet I’ll never forget to buckle the straps again!

You have graduated from eating baby food to eating real table foods. Unlike your brother, who would eat anything at this age, you are a rather picky eater. You love macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, carrots, applesauce, bologna, mandarin oranges, and McDonald’s cheeseburgers. You still love the Gerber ravioli so I keep a few around for nights when we have something that is difficult for you to eat. You also have a major sweet tooth! I’m pretty sure that explains all the cravings I had when I was pregnant.

Portraits March 2009

Over the last month we have gradually decreased the amount that you are breastfeeding. Just in the last week we have cut down to about once a day. You drink whole milk most of the day and have gotten much better at taking a bottle from me. You still get mad when I try to put your milk in a sippy cup, although you will drink juice or water from a cup just fine. Although I have pushed just a little more to wean you this week, I’m still trying to let you do it on your own. If you want to nurse I let you, but even I can tell that you aren’t getting much milk anymore. I’m sure that our nursing days are numbered. While it makes me a little sad that we won’t have that special time together anymore, I am looking forward to having my body to myself again and I’m sure you will enjoy becoming a little more independent.

A couple weeks ago I decided it was time to buy you a little potty seat of your own so that we could introduce the concept and you could get comfortable with it. I had no intention of actually trying to get you to use it yet, but you loved it and wanted to sit on it. Just for fun I put you on it during a diaper change and to my surprise you actually peed in the potty. I was sure it was a fluke, but still sat you on there now and then (both with and without clothes). You’ve gone in the potty three times now. I know you are nowhere near being ready to potty train, but it is still very exciting every time.

Portraits March 2009

You have become very lovey lately and give out hugs and kisses whenever you can. Your hugs are sweet as can be, but the kisses can be a little painful sometimes. When you dive in for a kiss it is usually with your mouth wide open. It’s pretty much a 50/50 chance whether you will bite down or close the teeth and give a sweet kiss. I haven’t yet figured out what to do about that because I would like to scold you for biting, yet I don’t want you to stop the kisses. For now I’m just enjoying the kisses and hoping you outgrow the biting soon.

Tonight we took you out to dinner to celebrate your birthday, then came home to have some cake. While we were out, so many people stopped to look at you. They talked to you, smiled at you, and commented about just how cute you were. The same thing happened at the grocery store this morning, at a restaurant last weekend, and nearly every other place that we’ve been lately. You really seem to draw people in and I imagine you will always have many friends around you because of this. You seem to have gotten your daddy’s magnetic personality.

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I complain a lot about just how fast the time is going by and how fast you are growing up, but the truth is I love watching each new accomplishment. I love the look on your face when you figure out how to do something for the first time. I celebrate with you as you make each tiny stride toward independence. I beam with pride when anyone compliments you. As my favorite Darius Rucker song says, “It won’t be like this for long” so I’m trying to soak up every moment. Before long you’ll be going off to college, getting married, and maybe even having kids of your own. Only when you hold your own child in your arms will you have any idea how immense the love is that I have for you. I hope that I’m there to celebrate all those moments with you.

Happy Birthday big girl! I love you SO much!

Love always,

Mama

11 Months

Dear Evie,

Today you are eleven months old. As I make plans for your first birthday next month, I still can’t believe that so much time has passed. You are turning into a toddler before my eyes and all I want to do is make you slow down. As I celebrate each new accomplishment, I mourn the babyhood that you are leaving behind.

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Each day it seems that you pop out a new word. I don’t always understand what you are saying, but you are saying a lot. You tell everyone “hi” with your sweet little voice either in greeting or sometimes just to get our attention. You call the dogs “bubba” and “bop bop”, our nicknames for them. I think you are also trying to say “brother” and you attempt to repeat much of what we say to you as well. The best part though, is when you sing with me. I love when you bust out with the “yayayayayaya” in the car as we drive home in the evenings.

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You’re getting more mobile, even though you don’t seem to have much desire to walk yet (you crawl faster than I can walk anyway). You stand up and walk along the furniture quite a lot, and have even been seen letting go from time to time. I caught you standing in your crib one day with hands up in the air not touching a single thing. However, as soon as we try to stand you up to walk, your legs collapse as if they’re made out of jello. I know you’ll do it when you’re ready, but for some reason I’m just anxious to see those first few steps.

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You’ve also been really starting to notice people around you more. You are starting to enjoy playing with (or at least next to) others. When your brother is around you always want to be right next to him and usually want whatever toy he happens to have in his hand at the time. That doesn’t always go over so well, but he is starting to get used to it and is learning to be a little more patient with you.

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You also are figuring out cause/effect. For instance, when you push the buttons on the TV and turn it off you get a very big reaction. You think it is the funniest thing in the world, but daddy sure doesn’t. Even Zach has learned to tell you “No-No!” when you get near those fun little buttons. Today he picked you up and moved you away from the TV when you were about to go for a second round. You loved it when your brother lifted you up and you had a huge grin on your face.

Evie vs. The Sucker

A few weeks ago you got very sick. It all started with a cold. Then you got a stomach virus and the cold turned into a bad double ear infection. Amazingly it was your first ear infection ever. We spent days cuddling on the couch together while your body tried to heal itself. Even though I hated it that you were so miserable I couldn’t help but enjoy the cuddles. You are such a snuggler and it really comes out when you don’t feel well.

Giving Kisses

Next to your snuggles, I think the sweetest thing you do is when you give kisses. You either smack your lips together like you are blowing kisses or you just dive (open-mouthed) toward my face and plant one on me. I wish I could say I was the only one on the receiving end of that special token of love but you are quite generous with your slobbery kisses (just ask your brother!).

Look at Those Teeth!

Baby girl, I don’t think I could ever tell you just how much you bring to my life. The love, the joy, the laughter that is now part of my every day life is so far beyond what I ever thought was possible. Watching you and your brother together makes my heart melt into a big puddle. No matter what the day brings my way, knowing that I get to come home and be with this family that your dad and I have created makes it all worth it.

Love always,
Mama

10 Months

Dear Evie,

Yesterday you turned ten months old. Ten months. That means that you have now been outside of my body longer than you were inside the confines of my protective belly. There are days when I would give anything to be able to put you back there, where you were safe from the harsh outside world but when I remember just how big you are that thought goes right out the window. Last month, at your nine month check up, you weighed 20 pounds and were 29 1/4 inches tall. You are a little more than double your birth weight.

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The bigger you get, the more I am reminded just how fast these baby days will be over. Over the last two months, you have cut five new teeth. You have a total of eight teeth now, which makes nursing quite interesting. Your brother stopped nursing at nine months so I never had to deal with so many teeth with him. You, on the other hand, have no interest in stopping any time soon and you like to BITE! The worst part is that when I tell you “NO!” you start crying and then I actually feel bad because you bit me. Tell me how that’s fair.

You really love your nursing time and (except for the biting) I do too. When you want to nurse you barrel your head into my chest and say “na-na” over and over again until I give you want you want. I cherish that time with you. I love having a few quiet moments with you every day where it is just the two of us. Unfortunately, I see that time coming to an end soon.

Pre-Christmas 2008

A few weeks ago your Daddy and I decided it was time for you to start sleeping in your own bed. We shipped Zach off with Grandma for the weekend and were determined to make you sleep in your bed even if it meant letting you cry. And boy did you cry. I’ll let you in on a little secret though – I spent a big part of that first night with tears in my eyes too. As hard as it was those first few nights, it actually worked. You’ve been sleeping through the night in your own bed for just over three weeks now. The downside to that is that you are no longer nursing all night long and my milk supply is feeling the change. If I’m lucky I’m able to pump you one bottle during the day, but you are drinking pretty much everything I have during your morning and bedtime feedings. I hope that I can keep it up until you are ready to wean yourself because I hate to have to take it away before you are ready.

Because of the breast milk supply issues, we have started introducing you to cow’s milk. I know it is a bit earlier than doctors recommend, but you absolutely hate formula and soy milk. You aren’t super thrilled with the cow’s milk either, but you will take a few drinks out of a sippy cup. If we mix it with a little breast milk you drink it right up.

Now There's A Smile!

You are starting to eat more and more table food and less baby food. So far you are a much more finicky eater than your brother was. He would eat pretty much anything I put in front of him but if you don’t like something you spit it right back out. You absolutely hate green beans. Your favorite foods are carrots, bologna, any kind of fruit, and Gerber Graduates ravioli (in any flavor variety). Last week you saw Daddy peeling an orange and decided you had to have some. You ate a whole slice in about 2 seconds and screamed until we gave you some more.

After having a reaction to bananas and a couple other foods, we ended up taking you to an allergist for testing. Every time you eat bananas your face turns bright red around your mouth and down your neck. As it turns out, you tested negative for everything, including bananas. The doctor told us not to hold back on anything so we are re-introducing some of the foods I had stopped feeding you (including milk). I’m still holing off on the bananas for now but hopefully you’ll be able to eat them again soon because you really love them.

Evie - 9 Months

You are starting to say more words, although sometimes it is a struggle to figure out exactly what you are trying to say. Right now you have about 6 words that come out pretty clear: Mama, Dada, na-na, cat, doggy, and Bubba. I think I have also caught you saying Zach(“ack”) and “Budduh” (brother) a time or two but those aren’t as clear. Recently you have really latched onto a baby doll that you got for Christmas and you have a name for that too. At first I thought you were trying to say “baby” since that is what I kept calling it, but I think you are actually calling it Kyra. There is a baby at day care (only 2 months younger than you) named D’Kyra, and I’m pretty sure that is where you are getting the “Kuddah” sound that you are calling your baby.

You are also getting closer and closer to walking. You don’t seem to be ready to let go quite yet, but you walk along the furniture pretty easily these days. I’ve even caught you doing a little climbing and using toys as steps when you want to reach up a little higher.

Evie - 9 Months

Your personality comes out more and more all the time. You are a Mama’s girl through and through. You love to giggle and play with Daddy, but when it is time to snuggle you want to be in Mama’s arms. And do you ever like to snuggle! You are such a cuddly girl that sometimes I have to remind myself just to sit and enjoy it rather than get frustrated. In a perfect world I would be able to just sit and snuggle with you all day but it seems like there is always something else that needs to be done and cuts our time short. Since you have been sleeping in your own bed at night, it seems like those few moments we get to snuggle in the evenings are even more special. As much as I need the sleep at night, I really miss having you cuddled up next to me.

You have developed a little game that you like to play when I come pick you up from day care. When I get there you squeal and get really happy. Then, when I reach my arms out to take you from Miss P, you turn away from me and snuggle up with her instead. Then you reach out to me and quickly turn back to her again. You usually do this three or four times before you come to me and you think it is so funny. I would be offended, but I’m so glad that you love Miss P as much as you do that it doesn’t really bother me. The other night you played your game with Grandma while I was holding you and I have to admit it was even cuter from that angle.

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Last month we got to celebrate your very first Christmas. It was the first time that our little family has spent Christmas morning together, just the four of us. While I loved watching you and your brother open all your gifts (Santa went a little overboard this year!), the best part was sitting back knowing that there was absolutely no other place in the world I would rather be than right there in that moment. You, your brother, and your daddy make my life complete in ways I never knew were possible and for some reason on that day I realized just how blessed I am.

Tomorrow is going to be a historic day in our country. Even though you won’t remember it, you were with me in your sling when I cast my vote for Barack Obama, our 44th President. Tomorrow is the Presidential Inaguration and Obama will officially become the first black President of the United States. While the color of his skin shouldn’t matter at all, it does. It matters because of how far our country has come. Only a few decades ago, people with colored skin were not allowed the same rights as your ancestors and starting tomorrow a black man will lead our entire country. By the time you are in school, this election will be in your history books. I hope that when you read about it you won’t understand why this is even such a big deal. As a country we still have a long way to go but this is a step in the right direction. I hope that you and your brother will never see color when you look at another person’s face, but see the person inside instead.

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I suppose I should wrap this up and get some of that precious sleep that I’m finally able to enjoy these days. I have about seven hours before you will wake up and start hollering “dada” from your crib. Even though you can say other words, “dada” is still your word of choice. It’s okay though. “Mama” has been slipping out more and more frequently here lately. It really doesn’t matter though because I’m the one that gets all the smiles and happy cuddles in the morning anyway.

Baby girl, I love you more and more each day. I’m not sure how much a heart can grow, but it seems like mine just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Every day I spend with you, your brother, and our little family I feel so very blessed. I don’t know what I would do without you all in my life.

Love always,
Mama