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To My 4-Year-Old Daughter


Dear Elle,

You’re 4 years old!! You have been waiting to be this old for a long time. It’s all you’ve talked about for months. Now, you’re here and you can tell people that you are a big girl. You regularly ask, “Am I bigger than Reid?" Or "am I almost as big as the triplets (your cousins who you idolize.)"

You should know that three was quite a ride. I was taken aback pretty much in the first former discipline tactics no longer worked with you. You started to push boundaries. “What if I say no? What’s gonna happen? Mamma says I can’t have a cookie. What if I just sneak a cookie?” So you and I have bounced back and forth over the past year seeing what works.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that if you’re upset, you need a little time to relax and then most importantly a big hug. I often worry that my rules will make you turn against me but at the end of the day you still tell you love me so so so so much and want me to come back upstairs to snuggle and give extra kisses and hugs. I guess you aren’t holding a grudge.

Something I want you to know (especially when you’re a teenager) is that you love me. Love me like your heart swells so much and you grit your teeth when you give me a big hug…no matter if I say no more candy, or if it’s time to go home. And, I LOVE you. So. Much. So much that sometimes it hurts to breath if I think you’re hurt or that I’ve upset you. I wish I could give in to all the whims you want from my little pony dolls to treats but there has to be some limits. Children need limits. That’s what I’ve been told and I want so much for you.

I want you to grow up a proud, honest, empathetic, kind, outspoken, responsible, intelligent, warm, funny and loving woman who knows what’s right and what’s wrong. Who can make her own choices using good judgment, not someone else’s. I want so badly to raise you right so that you’ll cherish what you have, not think materials buy happiness, that you take care of your possessions and are a good person with a big heart and big mind.

I don’t feel like I can get there by giving you everything you want. That’s why I’m the mom who I am. Because I want so much for you.

Now, off of those serious, but important points and on to some fun ones. Here’s what you are or have been from 3 to 4 years old.

-          You love to be the boss. You love to be the bravest, fastest, tallest, oldest…you get the picture. Slightly competitive.

-          Your obsession with bugs has grown throughout the year. When we moved to Denver, things got crazy! You started digging and finding big, huge earthworms; you held a tarantula and smiled while doing it; you jumped up and down when you got to see a hissing cockroach mama and her babies; and your 4th birthday was even at a bug museum!

-          You love to dress up! From Rapunzel to witches, you love getting into character and love for your little brother to be right there with you. Elsa and Olaf is one of your favorites.

-          You love listening to Jack and Annie (Magic Tree House Series) in the car…so much that you make me just sit in the garage until a chapter is over.

-          Your favorite show is Scooby Doo…you LOVE spooky stuff! You love playing Monster hide and seek. Your first favorite book was The Spooky Old Tree so it’s no surprise.

-       You love to read books. It's hard to pick out a favorite but it's safe to say you're game for any story.

-           You love to play Jetpack with your daddy on the iPad.

-          You really have gotten great at riding your scooter, going super fast and doing some good tricks and you just learned to ride a big girl bike (with training wheels of course!)

-          You love facetiming your granny and granddaddy and your grandma and grandpa…and the triplets! You love traveling to visit them too and often say you want to live where they live.

-          You love your “baby brother” as you call him even though he is almost two. You guys are a riot together and he idolizes your every move.

-          This year you skied for the first time with a smile on your face and learned to swim!

-          Your kitty Lucy is your best friend. She snuggles with you, follows you around and even falls to sleep on your bed.

-          You still pretty much come sneak into our bed every night after we’re asleep but that’s ok. We secretly love the extra snuggle time even though we won’t admit it.

There are so many other things I could write from big experiences to everyday gestures you do that brighten my life a million times over. We are so blessed to have you as our daughter and are loving watching you grow into an amazing woman.


Mommy and Daddy 


Apparently Baby Z Doesn’t Get Out Much


It appears that Z is not familiar with the concept of a waitress. I’ll admit, for his first two years, we never took him and his brother to a restaurant. Too. Much. Work. In the last few months though, we’ve realized that order-at-the-counter Mexican or breakfast joints are a lot of fun with the boys.Red Robin, YUM!

Last night, Nic was having a slumber party with his Noni and Auntie, so we decided to take Z out for dinner. The Red Robin commercials during Project Runway have really gotten to me and I had to try those bottomless steak fries. Z sucked down an entire chocolate shake and ate some fries while Shaun and I enjoyed our burgers without having to run too much toddler interference.

It was all going great until our waitress cleared Z’s plate. “That girl took my red plate!” He shouted. And then he was inconsolable. He couldn’t get his head around why this girl who had been so nice would steal his plate with his three remaining steak fries. I’m just glad we had already paid the check and could head straight to the door.

It looks like we’ll have to start frequenting restaurants where we don’t bus our own dishes! 


My 18 Month Old Little Big Boy


When I look at your smiling face, I see sunshine, happiness and love. Cheesy sounding I know, but it’s much different than your expressions as a baby where you weren’t too happy a lot of the time. I’m happy to find that it was a phase. You’re turning 19 months tomorrow. How did that happen? How did you get to be a little big boy? I cherish your hugs and hearing you say, “MA-MA” which has been your favorite word for a few months now. LOVE that! What else are doing now?

-          I love seeing your little signs. It’s so cute seeing you put your fingers to your mouth to signal that you’re hungry (which is A LOT.) You’re other favorite sign is “more” and you even know please.

-          You LOVE to eat. It’s your favorite activity after chasing after your sister and playing outside. You’re great with your fork and spoon and you’ve bringing drinking out of glasses for a few months (and prefer it.) You’re neat like your daddy. You often bring your plate to me when you’re done without even asking. You know to sit down right when we come in the door to take your shoes off.

-          Obviously you like to do everything your sister does which is how you got to where you are with your table skills. You love copying her every move from climbing the side of the stairs to playing tea party. If she eats in her little chair, you want to eat at yours. If she gets an ice cream, you’re right behind her in line waiting for yours. Like her, you love getting excited about things and are so happy to feed off other’s happiness. You guys are two peas in a pod.

-          You love to get last snuggles and a rock with mama before bed. Your sweet sissy comes in and sings you a sweet lullaby usually to the tune of, “Rock-a-bye Reidie in the tree top…and then makes up a bunch of words.”

-          Your favorite book hands down is brown bear, brown bear. You can’t get enough. You’re actually pretty content with books. Close seconds are DOGS and MOO. You love grabbing a book and bringing it over and plopping on my or dada’s lap.

-          Your favorite animals are our cat Lucy – you pet her so gently and get all excited when you see her; any dog – you can hardly stand still waiting for them to be close enough to pet; and ducks. You love saying “quack, quack”.

-          First thing the in morning you’re usually screaming “Mama” from your crib. I pick you up, we go downstairs and you scream when I put you down because you want breakfast ASAP! I have basically three minutes to get whatever I can find on your plate.  You usually have three breakfasts. Two helpings and then another when Elle finally wakes up and comes down for breakfast.

-          You LOVE going outside. You don’t even have to go anywhere. Just being outside makes your soul smile. You can just tell. It does help to take you for a stroll though. You’re eager to ride a bike like your sister and it won’t be long. You’re now running and can even jump a little bit. It’s so cute!

-          You make little sounds with your toys. You love to say, “choo choo” with your train or brrrrrrrr with airplanes or cars.

-          Your sissy is so proud you are her baby brother. She tells everyone we meet, “This is my baby brother” or “I have a baby brother.” She gives you big hugs and loves to climb in your crib with you. You don’t sleep too well with her in there though. She loves to play chase with you and she loves doing things big sisters do like telling you names of things to learn and putting mommy’s lipstick on you. And she loves dressing you up!

-          Most people thing you are a girl. With you pretty blonde curls and southern shortalls who can blame them? Or maybe it’s just too cute to be a boy? Whatever the reason, I quickly correct them and feel my heart swell that you’re my little boy.

-          I love picking you up from your crib in the morning or from your nap. You always have a big, sleepy look on your face with your hair crazy sticking up in all directions with curls at the back. I pick you up, give you a squeeze and you set me on course for our mission: usually downstairs and food.

You’re doing so many new things every day. Daddy, Elle and I are so thankful and grateful you are in our family. We are excited to see what’s to come!


Balloon-Themed Birthday Party


A few years ago, I came across some online rant about how birthday parties all seem to need a “theme” these days and asking what happened to good-old balloons and cake birthdays. I took this person’s ire and Zachary’s love of balloons and knew I’d have to host a “balloon-themed” birthday party for his second birthday.  

We didn’t do a real party for Z’s birthday—we just had some of the grandparents over for brunch. But I love a reason to get crafty and still wanted to make Z feel like the day was special, so I had to do a few fun things for his birthday brunch.

Balloon Birthday Wreath 

Years ago, I covered a straw wreath in burlap and I switch out the decorations for holidays and special occasions.  I had the balloon ribbon in my wrapping stash,  then I added a few half-inflated a few balloons and made a simple sign with a Cricut machine that I inherited from a wonderfully generous cousin.

Balloon Birthday Cake

Nic and I made fondant balloons for the cake and I cut lemon rinds for the balloon strings. It was a lemon cake with lemon curd and raspberry jam filling and cream cheese frosting.

Chalk Happy Birthday Sign

Last summer, I discovered making chalk signs and LOVE this free, easy and high-impact party decoration.

It was a low-key morning, but Z definitely knew it was his special day. I think a few decorative touches go a long way in impressing a toddler (and grandmothers!). 


How adorable is this!? We started the morning by bringing armfuls of balloons into his room and dropping them in the crib. This was a huge hit!


Baby Z is Two!


Sweet Baby Z,

Good natured. That’s the best way I can describe you. When I think about you, I smile inside.  You’ve definitely become a toddler, with all of the stubbornness and moodiness that entails, but I’m confident you’ll come out of toddlerhood with a smile on your face.

Here are some things that I’ve come to know about you:Birthday balloons!

  • You carry your emotions close to the surface. When you are happy, you bounce with glee, but when you’re mad, watch out! Your daddy has a hard time keeping a straight face during your face-down-on-the-ground, kicking and screaming tantrums. I’m just thankful that they are very short-lived and that you’ve stopped banging your head against hard surfaces when you’re mad.
  • You’re slow to warm in new situations, but you are so affectionate with the ones you love. One of my favorite memories of you this year was one morning a few months ago when I gave your brother a kiss good morning while he was eating his breakfast. I had already given you good morning kisses when I got you from your crib, but that wasn’t enough for you. When you saw me walking away from the breakfast table without kissing the top of your head, you said, “Zachy kiss too please.” It melted my heart. It also made me take notice that you are watching how our family relates and making sure you get what you need.
  • You’re funny. You have excellent comedic timing—like your daddy.
  • You share willingly (please don’t let saying this out loud be a jinx). I’ve never seen a two-year-old take turns with such relative ease. This is likely the by-product of being a sibling, and it makes me so happy to see you and Nic facilitate turn-taking on your own.
  • Eating is hit or miss. For the first year, you were a reliably good eater (except for breastfeeding, which you hated). However, at around 14 months, a switch flipped and you got picky and unpredictable. Some days you’ll still take down 3 bananas in a sitting, but other days we’re lucky if we can get a frozen waffle and some chips in you. I’m chalking this one up to being a toddler and expect you to be a hearty eater again in a few years (fingers crossed).
  • You are a mama’s boy. There are so many people who love you and who you love, but if you got to choose who you’d be with all the time, it would be me. I love this. It can make things difficult, but it’s so worth it.

Zachary, you are a silly ray of sunshine who loves balloons and long walks around the neighborhood. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings out in you. 

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