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Two & Seven

Wow, it’s been seven whole months since I last wrote a blog post. Wow. At the start of the year I made a resolution to write more here and I made it two posts before I gave up completely. God had other plans in store for me. Part of me wants to share everything that’s been going on, but part of me isn’t quite ready to re-enter blogland yet. However, one thing I will never regret about starting this blog is being able to look back over memories of my children growing up. So, if anything is worth posting about, it’s my sweet babies.

This past summer my oldest and youngest celebrated their seventh and second birthdays just a week apart. This is for them.

Roman Michael – TWO!

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Oh Roman, where do I begin. You are the light of all of our lives. So goofy, so sassy, yet so sweet. For your second birthday we got you a balance bike (this one and it is the BEST for the price) and it was a HUGE hit. You are so freakin’ FAST on that thing. It is the cutest and most terrifying thing ever to see this tiny little thing flying down the street on a little bike. The other day we were getting ready to walk to the store and I was getting the stroller out of the car and set up while you and your siblings played in the driveway. Once I had it all ready to go, I went to put you in it and you were no where to be found. Little man, you almost gave your momma a heart attack! I found you two blocks away, cruising on your bike in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Talk about a bad mom moment.

At two, here are a few of your favorite things: playing with mommy’s purses and shoes (I seriously clean up shoes scattered all about the house throughout the entire day), snuggling your special “banky”, riding bikes and scooters, going to music class, eating mommy’s sandwiches, snuggling, playing with play dough, playing monster with sissy and brother.

Roman, you are so funny! You make me laugh each and every day. You are the chattiest little two-year-old I’ve ever met. Like seriously, in the car sometimes I just want to tell you to SHUT UP. No, I wouldn’t trade your chatter for all the silence in the world. Sometimes you babble away and I can’t understand what you’re saying so I’ll say, “What Roman?” And you’ll respond, “Oh, nuffing.” Kills me! And your facial expressions? I can’t even. You are so expressive and flirty and HILARIOUS. I really can’t wait to see all you accomplish in this world as the go-getter you are. You are everything I wish I could be.

Leila Jade – SEVEN!

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My beautiful daugher, the one who made me a mother, where do I even begin? Whenever I sit down to reflect on the amazing person you are I instantly cry. I am beyond blessed to be your mom. You are so stunning in all ways, from your big beautiful squinty-eyed smile, to your tender love for your little brothers, to your crazy creative soul. You amaze me.

At seven years old you are already more than I will ever be. You’re a dedicated pianist, a beautiful ballet dancer, and an amazing engineer of recycling bin contraptions. You’ve lost your love of dolls in the past year (which breaks my heart a tiny bit), but you’ve replaced it with a love of writing and creating and rollerskating and bike riding. Gone are the days where everything you loved is pink. Instead you prefer green and blue. This past week you started 2nd grade. Instead of squeezing my hand tightly as I walked you to class, you pushed me away and ran off with your friends before we even entered the school. I am continually fascinated watching you grow and learn and develop into the unique individual you are. I’m grateful to be your mother and to have you as a best friend.

My Tiny Dancer

Everyone has those rare, unforgettable days throughout their lifetime – you know, the memories that a single smell or song or setting can bring you back to in an instant. Whenever you take the time to reminisce, you can instantly feel the flood of feelings and emotions from that single moment in time. I still remember like it was yesterday my first kiss, the morning of September 11, 2001, my wedding day, and one of my favorite days of all: the day I found out I was getting a daughter.

I don’t remember the exact date or time or day of the week when I found out the sex of my first baby, but when I close my eyes and think about that day, I can feel and taste the emotion. The whole first trimester of my pregnancy with Leila I was sicker than a dog. I was tired and felt horrible and if I’m being completely honest, a part of me resented being pregnant and I didn’t really experience the excitement and joy I thought I should be feeling. However, that all changed at 17.5 weeks. Slowly my morning sickness was subsiding and I finally got to see the little person growing inside me for the first time. Of course I didn’t really care whether I was going to have a boy or a girl baby, but when the tech said it was a healthy little girl, I couldn’t have been more excited. More than anything from that day, I remember driving back to work after the ultrasound. That’s when it hit me. I’m going to be a mom. I’m going to raise a human being. I’m going to have a daughter. For the first time in my pregnancy, I felt the intense love only a parent knows.

To think that the first little baby growing inside me, making me so sick at one point is now a vibrant, beautiful, energetic, sensitive six-year-old is a true testament to the miracle of life. I still remember so vividly that first moment I felt true love for her and since then, it hasn’t eased up for even a moment. This girl is the epitome of magic to me. I have many days when I feel like I’m failing as a mother, where I honestly don’t think I’m the right person for the job, and I’m not joking, God hears my doubt and sends my angel, Leila, in to tell me how much she loves me and how I’m the “best mommy ever.” There are many times when I don’t feel deserving enough to be her mother.

The past year has been a HUGE one for my Leila Jade. In June she completed her first year of school and her first year of ballet. She is truly a shining star in everything she does. Never once through the school year did she wake up and tell us she didn’t want to go to school, which is really every parent’s dream, right? She honestly loved it. In terms of ballet, she loved it at first, then decided it was too boring for her, and then took to it full force and was bitten with the dance bug as soon as she got to experience preparing for her first dance recital. Seeing my daughter up on the big stage in her cute little costume, with her hair in a tight little bun was so surreal for me. The little peanut doing flips in my belly at one point, who I used to imagine dressed up in a tutu, was actually a real life ballerina. Even if she decides she hates ballet next year and wants to quit, it was fun to have my little daughter dreams come to fruition for a moment in time. 🙂

The growth in a child from age 5 to 6 is insane! Not only just in height and weight and overall maturity, but they really lose all aspects of babyhood. When I dropped Leila off at kindergarten on that very first day she still clung to my side and it was really hard for me to let her go. But today she is so much more confident in who she is as her very own person and I’m confident that she’s strong enough to take on the world. Sometimes I fear for the future, for the days when she screams “I hate you!” at the top of her lungs and slams the door in my face, but I’m really holding out hope that those days won’t even occur. I’m hoping she will always be my little bestie.

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Same dress, below the knees and then above! So crazy – the growth!

Today I took Leila to the cardiologist to find out about an issue with her heart. It’s another little medical concern in one of my children that just makes me get a taste of how scary being a parent really is. While it’s nothing immediately life threatening or even too concerning for the time being, it was enough to send me into a tizzy of prayer for my precious only daughter. All I want is for her to live a full and happy life. It’s insane to think that I can do everything in my power to accomplish that, but it’s still out of my hands.

I hope some day I get to see Leila become a mom just so that she can experience the love I feel for her. But, above all, I hope that she never stops smiling that contagious, all-encompassing, beautiful grin that reminds me every day that there is more good in this world than bad.

Comparison: The Thief of Joy

Shortly after I gave birth to my daughter, I remember sitting in our tiny living room, sun streaming through the window on a hot summer day, gazing down at this sweet little innocent bundle asleep in my arms, and thinking about all of my hopes and dreams for her future. I dreamed she would be fearless, determined, brave, outgoing, and confident – all things I’ve never been. I hoped that she would be different from me, better than me.

Now at just barely five years old, I already see so clearly the little person she is. She’s amazing in so many ways, I can’t even describe, but looking at her is like looking at myself 25 years ago. My heart is already breaking a little bit, seeing her struggle in ways that I also struggled at her age and knowing that she is going to face a lot of the same internal battles that I myself have faced.

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The night before Halloween was Leila’s very first school dance – a Monster Mash costume party. The days leading up to it were full of bursting-at-the-seams anticipation. She couldn’t wait to get all dressed up in her leopard costume and see all of her little friends in theirs. The night of, we couldn’t get there fast enough.

Her school gym was packed full of families in costume, lots of decorations, and loud music blasting from the speakers. As we walked in I could already sense the social anxiety building inside her. I myself wasn’t looking forward to the social event, but I was looking forward to watching my kids have fun. I figured once we found some of her friends, she’d loosen up and have a blast. Wrong. My heart hurt as Leila’s little friends held hands and danced around, but nothing I (or they) did or said encouraged her to join in the fun. I finally got down on her level and in the middle of a million people with music burning our ears, demanded that she tell me what’s wrong. After asking several times and telling her to speak up, I finally made out what she was saying to me through sad eyes: “I don’t look like everyone else.”

My heart seriously shattered in that moment. How is my five year old daughter already worrying so much about what other people think of her? A few weeks prior when she told me she wanted to be a leopard for Halloween, I had a strange feeling she would regret not wanting to be Elsa or Anna or some other princess like every other little girl. I even asked her several times if she was sure that’s what she wanted to be. She was excited to be a leopard. But as soon as she saw all her little friends in their pretty costumes, she lost all confidence in her choice. It killed me.

We ended up leaving the Monster Mash after only about 20 minutes. Leila was just frozen in a state of sadness (and the loud music and crazy costumes were freaking Landon out). As soon as we got in the car, Leila lost it in a sea of tears. We ended the night with a deep heart-to-heart talk about being confident and not worrying what other people around us do as long as we’re happy with ourselves. A difficult conversation to have with a little girl.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I flashed back on all the moments in my life when I had confidence and happiness stolen away from me as soon as I compared myself to others. How do I teach my daughter, who is so much like me it isn’t even funny, to not let the same thing happen to her? How can I help her have fun and embrace life instead of worrying so much about what other people think? How do I teach her these things when I don’t even know how to do it myself?

On Halloween the next day, after our deep talk and a mini life lesson learned, Leila once again embraced being a leopard and ended up having an awesome time trick-or-treating with her brothers and cousins. I just love this little girl so much and I wish she would realize how awesome she is.

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Back to School

When I got my first real job out of college I found it really strange to no longer be living by the rhythm and flow of a school calendar. For my whole life up to that point, time was always in relation to the length of summer vacation, fall semester, spring break, and so on. I remember that first fall after graduation – seeing the back to school advertisements and not actually going back to school myself was so bizarre! I mean, we spend most of our lives living and dying by the school calendar.

I’ve enjoyed the last several years of time on my own terms, but it’s all over now. For the next 18+ years I will be once again following the school calendar. My baby girl is in kindergarten!!! %&$#@!!!! That’s pretty much how I feel about that.

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Yesterday was Leila’s first day of school and it was really rough on me. A few months ago when I was getting ready to register her for kindergarten I had a little meltdown. After that I slowly became more comfortable with it all, to the point where I didn’t even think I would cry on her first day. HA! Oh man, I lost it. I was fine all morning until she actually walked into her classroom. Slowly the tears came. Luckily it was a bright sunny day so I was wearing glasses… and I wasn’t the only parent shedding a tear or two (or several dozen).

I stayed busy the whole time she was at school that first day, but I just had a sad, dark feeling in the pit of my stomach. I think I’ve finally realized why this is so hard for me. It’s not being away from her. It’s the fear of the unknown. It’s the fact that I can’t really relate to how she is growing up. Coming from the tiniest town known to man, I already knew a lot of the kids in my class when I started kindergarten. Those same kids stayed with me all the way through high school. My daughter is at a huge school where we don’t even know a single family with kids there. She’s in one of five kindergarten classes. It is so vastly different than what I grew up with.

Today was a much better day. I dropped her off and watched her giggle with new friends before walking into the building without even looking back my way. I know she will be just fine. I know that in time she will build friendships and hopefully I will meet other parents of kids at her school. It’s just all new to us. And new is sometimes scary.

Cheers to the first of many, many, many back to school seasons to come!

 

Little Mommy

The other night my daughter had a sleepover with her cousin, so it was just me and the boys. Needless to say, I missed her desperately. When her daddy went to work the next day, I was left with my two little guys and I got a taste of what it will be like when Leila Jade starts kindergarten in just a few weeks. You’d think that being down one kid would make life a bit easier, but in my case this couldn’t be further from the truth. Leila is my best friend, my helper, and a little mommy to her baby brothers.

When she’s gone it’s “where’s diddy?” (aka “sissy”) every five minutes from Landon. That kid just adores his big sis. In fact, between having a newborn and Landon’s complete disregard for anything I ask him to do, potty training just wasn’t happening with him… until my angel-child-daughter swooped in and took him under her wing. Yes, my just-turned-5-year-old daughter potty trained her brother. That in itself deserves its own blog post.

This kid is amazing. She is seriously wise beyond her years, yet such a silly goofball! She is the most caring, nurturing, loving, kind-hearted person I know. I can’t believe I created her! I highly recommend having a daughter like her before you have any more kids. It’s seriously like having a second mom around the house. Ha! I need to start paying this kid an allowance for how much of my sanity she saves me.

Tonight I found myself in the kitchen tidying up with the baby strapped in the ergo and Landon watching Mickey Mouse. Out the kitchen window was my beautiful daughter digging in the dirt. It was in that moment of calm that I was struck with just how lucky I am. It wasn’t an easy day. It wasn’t a clean day. But thanks to my little miss, it was a better day.

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