Sunday, July 22, 2012

For Olivia - July 2012

Dear Olivia,

I can't believe you turned nine months old yesterday. And when you woke up this morning, it's like I could actually see that you'd grown up a little more. You're so strong and independent, and yet you love being in your mama or dada's arms more than anywhere else. Your next favorite places to be are standing next to the open shelves in the kitchen, quickly throwing as many items as you can to the floor before you're caught, and standing next to the bathtub, slapping your cute chubby palms on the porcelain and waiting for me to come turn on the water (whether it's bath time or not).

You are physically very strong and coordinated. You started crawling about the third week in May and you've been unstoppable ever since. Just yesterday, you crawled up the stairs all by yourself (with daddy spotting you, of course). About a week or two after you started crawling, you began pulling yourself up to a standing position against any table, chair, or wall in the house. Since we've moved home, you love to pull yourself up and stand against the glass storm door and gaze outside at the big world. You also love to walk around the perimeter of the coffee table. Today at church, I let you "walk" around the foyer while I held your arms. I predict you'll be walking on your own in the next month or so.

You LOVE music. Not surprising since it's in your blood. Anytime you hear music, or even just any sort of rhythm or beat, your little head starts bobbing in perfect time. It's like you just can't help yourself--it's almost a reflex. I can't decide if there's a particular type of music you have a knack for yet. I make sure to expose you to the best classical composers as well as my musical theatre favs. And your daddy's got you covered with classic and alternative rock...not to mention his subconscious compulsion/talent for drumming a beat on any and every surface around him. But you definitely respond most noticeably when the music has a pronounced beat. We always take you to ward choir practice with us. Today you just smiled at the conductor as you bobbed your head to the music. You even started to wave your hands in imitation of hers. She was so taken by you. A couple of weeks ago when the choir performed in Sacrament Meeting, your daddy held you in his arms the entire time we performed and you didn't make a peep. I'd say we're training you young. :) But I think you're destined for a love affair with music. This makes my heart happy.

You have been totally disinterested in baby food for the last month. I can hardly get you to eat the purees anymore. And I think it's OK since you have six teeth. You can handle some more substance. So we've branched out to small, soft pieces of whole fruit--like pears and mandarin oranges. You love cottage cheese. You get excited when I even get the container out of the fridge. I think you're going to be a dairy girl. You love yogurt and mooching a few bites of my rice pudding when you see me eating it. You would never eat the pureed meats, so we've done small pieces of chicken, turkey, and beef. You love to feed yourself. Most of the time, if I try to feed you something with my hand, you grab it out of my hand to inspect it first before insisting that you put it in your mouth yourself. You love to eat whatever we're eating. So I do my best to cook food for us that's appropriate for you.

You still love your time nursing with mama. I call myself your "human pacifier." Sometimes, only nursing will calm you down or help you sleep. I don't stress about it. I know you'll grow past it when you're ready and I want to do what makes you feel secure and happy. It's funny when you do find one of the two pacifiers we have lying around the house. It's more of a toy for you to bite and chew on for a few minutes and then leave behind. And you're fascinated by your cousin Brigham's binky--always trying to pull it out of his mouth for yourself--which is funny because I could never get you to take a binky or a bottle yourself. Not sure how we're going to transition to cow's milk at 12 months, because you are not at all interested in a sippy cup either. I'm hoping by then, you'll be more ready. Although, I can get you to drink water and juice out of a regular cup. Maybe we'll just skip straight to that.

You're often a very somber child. You love to just stare at the people and things around you. You'll stare and stare, often not blinking for a long while. You make the most adorable quizzical look when a stranger talks to you for the first time. You seem very wary of everyone's intentions.

But not with Halle. Oh how you love to laugh with and at your sister. You two have a very special bond. She takes very good care of you and is a fierce protector. She lives to make you smile and laugh. You love to splash in the water together at bath time and we all enjoy a good game of "Leap Frog" in the basement, in which Halle hops across pillows and couch cushions as we "chase" after her. (I help you out with the hopping part.)

And my goodness you are snuggly. I adore the quiet moments we have together in the mornings, just being sleepy and cuddled up together. My heart melts when you bury your little head in my chest and snuggle up as close as you can. I'm so grateful for the many wonderful moments we've shared in your little life thus far.

You love to coo and babble with the best of them. And I love to see that toothy grin when you're in your happiest mood. You're a pretty even-tempered baby and you don't fuss much--except for the normal reasons (hungry, tired, teething, etc.). We've been working on signing, and so far, you can use the ones for milk and more. You're a smarty.

I love you so much, pretty girl. I'm so blessed to be your mom.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

For Halle - July 2012

Dear Halle,

Several times already in your fairly brief life so far, I've wanted to freeze time and keep you the way you are (or were). And yet, as you continue to grow, I continue to be amazed at how I grow to love you more and more. And if I had frozen you in time somewhere along the way, I would never have experienced the many incredible phases of you that were yet to be...and are still yet to come. You are truly the joy in my life. Your pure comedy and genius make me laugh every day, your kindness and compassionate heart bring me to tears, and your gigantic loving hugs sustain me when life is tough. 

You are naturally bursting with creativity. You see everything in the world as a simile—“Olivia crawls all over you like a big cat, you're muddy like a swamp monster, I'm sick like a bunny in the mud...” You easily make connections amongst the things around you. And oh how you love to pretend. You're a pirate, then a queen or a princess, then a superhero. You're a leader when it comes to pretending. You're at the forefront in your peer groups during imaginary play, always deciding what will happen next. You seem to be most comfortable playing with boys your age, which is good since there are currently no other girls in your primary class.

I worry you'll be bored in kindergarten. You're already reading between a first and second grade level and your mathematical reasoning is also well above the norm. But then I remember how much you like socializing with other kids, and I know you'll be just fine. I'm sure you'll be a great help to your teacher and a great example to the other students in your class. I think you were born to be a leader. I love seeing you demonstrate that fire, that zest for learning and life. You're fearless when it comes to making friends. I wish I could say you learned all of this from me, but I can't. You are a unique spirit with talents and abilities innately your own. I only hope I can nurture them in the way you deserve.

You love to dance and sing, which couldn't be more exciting for me. You have a fantastic sense of rhythm and can learn and remember dance routines faster than anyone else in your classes so far. You're attending two dance classes this summer (2 hrs per week). You're usually dancing everywhere you go, as opposed to just walking. You carry a tune quite well and I can't wait to see how much you'll love the performing arts class you're signed up for this fall.

You are truly a resilient child. You've handled our most recent move like a champ. And you seem genuinely happier to be where we are now. It helps that it's a familiar place you lived in once before, but you still handled the changes with grace and poise beyond your years. You also do extremely well with the regular transition between mama's house and daddy's house. This is one of the things I am most grateful for in the whole world right now. I hope someday you'll understand why your experience has been different from many of your peers. And I hope you'll see that your life has actually worked out for the very best. I think you will.

Your relationship with your step-dad just gets stronger. I see that you adore him. He certainly adores you. Even though he's a very busy guy at the moment, he always makes time to really play with you and talk with you and let you know how important and special you are. And I can see that you recognize how genuine he is in his efforts. He has truly changed your life for the better. I hope someday you realize just how much.

You love technology—maybe a little too much. I have to keep an eye on that and limit your access to the iPad, iPhone, etc. You love to call people on my phone...especially your Aunt Breckon. Usually, you want to know where Britain is and if he can play. You sure love that kid. He's pretty much like your brother. You love him like a brother, and you fight with him like a brother. But at the end of the day, I think you are both each other's favorite person right now. I hope that never changes. You're very blessed to have him around whether you're at mama's or daddy's, or really wherever. And that goes double for your Aunt Breckon. What a guardian angel she is in your life. I hope you always stay close to her and appreciate everything she does to watch out for you and care for you. I know she has a sincere, deep love for you. And you're lucky. Because she's pretty much the most awesome person I know.

You love all of your family. You're a wonderful big sister. Olivia is overjoyed when you are near, and you are always more than willing to help me take care of her. Someday you're going to be a spectacular babysitter. You're always asking to visit your grandparents. And you give all of your great-grandparents enormous, enthusiastic hugs the moment you see them. I hope you know how much joy you've brought into their lives. I often think about how hard it was for me to work full-time when you were a baby and toddler. I feel like I missed so much of your life. But, one silver lining for me is to think of how much light and happiness you brought to your great-grandparents when they were able to babysit you. I don't think you can even possibly comprehend how much better you make life, for everyone around you, just by being you. Again, someday, I hope you will.

Every time you go to your daddy's for the weekend, when I pick you up after those couple of days, I'm just amazed at how beautiful you are. Your big brown eyes certainly melt my heart, your hair is long and thick and gorgeous, and you just carry yourself with such confidence and, well, a little sass. I hope you never lose your confidence. In fact, it's my mission to ensure you don't. If I teach you nothing else, I hope you come to know you are a divine daughter of God, that you love and respect yourself, and that you believe you deserve the very best life has to offer. 

We read the Book of Mormon reader together every night. You are fantastic at reading all by yourself. We get through the really long words and names together and we're focusing on your comprehension...because that's really the point of reading, especially the scriptures. You volunteer to say the prayer often and you do a fabulous job. I find it interesting that lately your prayers include only expressions of gratitude. You don't feel it's necessary to ask for much. You're much more interested in being thankful for the blessings we already have. I love this. I think it's just something that is a natural part of who you are.

I know I'm not a perfect mom, but I love you more than anything else in this whole universe. And I'm doing everything I can to make sure you get everything you need in life—in my own humble way. Thanks for being patient with me. I'm eternally grateful for the privilege of being your mom.