Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Charlotte - Six Years Old (and some change)

Dear Charlotte,
These letters are getting harder and harder to get out on time. Your sixth birthday came and went over five months ago and I've had very little time since then to sit down uninterrupted to complete this update. Then when I do have the time, I am just too exhausted to do anything even remotely productive. So my apologies. Just remember, you will always have more photos of yourself than any of your siblings, so I think we're even.

Somehow in this last year or two you went from being a toddler to a little girl. A creative, active, intelligent, funny, clever, delightful little girl. The jeans that were too big for you on your sixth birthday are now very close to being too short. You've grown a good inch and a half in the past four months and I can't seem to make it slow down. As always, there's that part of me that doesn't want you to get any bigger, so for even just a moment I can truly soak in all you've become. But the other part of me is just thrilled with all you're becoming when that very short moment passes.

You are almost finished with kindergarten and you're a completely different kid than when you started this past fall. You went from recognizing almost all your letters and numbers up to 50 or so, to reading full level 1 and 2 books and adding and subtracting double digits. The first time you read to me, it was a comic strip from your Highlights magazine, and I couldn't help the tears from coming down my cheeks, I was so proud.

 You have always been and still remain such a wonderful helper to me around the house. I rarely get a fuss when I ask you to set the table, bring me the laundry, or pick up after yourself. Often you even help your brothers pick up their messes if it means you get to watch your favorite show that much sooner. You've been learning how to watch out for Matthew and tend to him if you're outside and he happens to get hurt. I've been proud to watch how your heart has slowly started to let him in. It has been a joy watching you two play together for sometimes up to an hour without any problems. Often times you and Cy would much rather spend your "quiet time" playing quietly together in the toy room than being apart. You don't get too much time to play, just the two of you, so on Saturday or Sunday when Matthew and Skylar are sleeping, I let you two have that special time together. I can tell Cy is really starting to look up to you and you're doing a great job at leading him in a positive direction. Most of the time.

You played soccer this year for the first time. Although the team t-shirts didn't quite meet your criteria for size and style, I think you still managed to have a good time out there with your friends. It was fun to see you try something new and even if you weren't the best on the team, you gave it a good shot and managed to have a lot of fun in the process.

It was shortly after your sixth birthday, when Grandma and Grandpa Smith came to visit, that you get baptized. Daddy baptized you at our church and it was a sheer delight for all of us to witness. There's something pretty amazing about seeing you go down into that water and then rising again, knowing now that you know Jesus, your life will never be the same again. You've been so curious lately about many biblical truths and have such a strong desire to know it all right now. Daddy and I have spent many nights talking to you long after bedtime, explaining to you your questions about creation, prayer, and some of God's qualities like his omnipresence and omniscience. Many concepts I admit I didn't even recognize or begin to grasp until I was well past my early teens and into my twenties. It's exciting to see you longing to know more and excited to learn about God's character. I pray the your mind continues to long for more of Him - to know more about Him and more importantly, to want more of Him in your life. I pray in the years to come that the Lord seals your heart with his love and that you slowly but surely allow his goodness and grace to penetrate every part of your being. I pray you keep asking the hard questions and keep searching for His truth. I pray your mind will forever long for more of Him and your heart will continue to beat strong in time with His.

You're a pretty remarkable little girl. Sometimes when I go into your room after you've fallen asleep to turn out your light, I take a couple minutes to watch you sleep and try to will time to stop for just a few moments. I hope you always know how precious you are to me and that I am able to find ways every day to show you. I love you, sweetheart. My Sweet Pea. My Charlotte.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Skylar Belle Smith - Birth Story

I said before that with the addition of number three, the laundry somehow grew exponentially - not because of the great increase in clothes, but because of the increase in distractions in getting any given load completed in any given day. Now, with the addition of number four, it's clear to me that not only the laundry, but my lack of time in any given day has grown exponentially. Hence the fact that our sweet Skylar is now seven months old and I'm just now getting her birth story down in writing.

The week leading up to Skylar's birth was one of the most challenging for me physically. In all my previous births, even with Charlotte being eleven days late and Cy seven, I still was never truly ready for them to be here until right up to the moment. The same was with Skylar. I remember feeling that physically I was ready to be done with the pregnancy, but in all other ways I wasn't quite ready yet. It's a lot to take in - the knowledge of the impending birth and the very glorious and also very challenging months that follow - and I wasn't ready to face all those changes until it really was God's perfect timing. It was just a day or two before she was born that I was talking to my good friend, Amy Nedelcu, and I told her that now, I think now I'm finally ready.

Skylar was born on a Friday and I remember that night having one or two contractions, but since they were coming that way all week, it really wasn't anything alarming. Matthew came down with a fever the night before so I remember thinking I really hoped the baby didn't come until he was better again. The morning was normal, other than having to go to the bathroom about four or five times, which made me think something may possibly be happening. That along with craving and devouring a large bowl of spaghetti and meatballs at around 10:30am. I remember around 11am I was feeling a contraction or two and called our sitter to let her know IF - which probably wasn't going to happen, but IF - it were to happen today, to let her know about Matthew having a fever and where the medicine was and such, so if she came I wouldn't forget to tell her during contractions. About a half hour later they were about twenty minutes apart; I called Pete and he came right home.

I remember when he came home we got into an argument about something and he was in a really grouchy mood and I kept thinking, I really hope the baby doesn't come today because I don't think I can make it through labor with him like this. Thankfully around 1pm he snapped out of it and my contractions kept a regular twenty minute pace. They slowed and then sped up over the next couple hours and at about 3pm I called our friend Denise Burrow to come watch the kids so we could go to the hospital. At this point they were about ten minutes apart and steady.

We left for the hour drive to the hospital in Wichita about 3:15 and arrived around 4pm. The drive there was very peaceful. I just breathed through regular contractions and kept timing them as we drove. When we got to Goddard, about twenty minutes away, they had sped up to about five minutes apart and I started to get a little nervous thinking we may not make it. Pete quickly reminded me that I hadn't gone through transition yet, so we still had time. Thankful for a husband who knows all about my labor! Especially when I'm in the middle of it and have somehow forgotten all about everything that happens.

We checked into the hospital at about 4:15pm and made it up to labor and delivery. They put the monitors on me and I remember looking at the clock and it was around 4:30pm. The nurse checked to see how dilated I was and asked if I wanted to guess. I was nervous after my experience with Matthew that I wasn't nearly as far along as I had hoped and didn't want to get my hopes up, but was guessing quietly that I was about a six, gauging on my labor up to that point. Six it was! I labored for about twenty minutes there and even felt the baby have the hiccups through it all. It was at this point that I started shaking all over and knew this was my sign of transition. I told the nurse that this baby was probably coming soon and we better get to a bigger room soon. She took off all the straps and walked me down the hall to my delivery room.

It was then that through contractions I got bombarded with a million and one questions. I had decided to go medication free, as I had with my other births, but they still had to "prepare" for the just in case scenario. So, as I was breathing through my contractions quietly, which I'm not sure if they mistook for them not hurting, I had the anesthesiologist on one side asking me every question possible about my parents medical history and I remember this one in particular, if I had any crowns in my teeth. What?! Then I have another nurse trying to hook me up to the monitors. I tell them I just got monitored and I don't need to be hooked up. She told me the doctor wants me to, at which time I looked to my (awesome!) doctor and he waved her off. Then the other nurse on my other side (anesthesiologist still questioning me about my mother's brother's half sister's cardiac issues) is trying very unsuccessfully to start an IV in my right hand. I'm breathing through another contraction, standing on the side of the bed trying to look into Peter's eyes (my only calming place while going through contractions), and desperately trying to ignore the pool of blood forming under the IV needle in my right hand. She finally gives up. Praise God! I think she's done and then anther nurse tries another port in my left arm. And fails. I think it's over, but then they get out that x-ray laser thingy that they see the veins through your skin. The kind that is fail-proof. WAS fail proof. So, she shines the x-ray thingy over my arm right in front of Pete's pants and he tries to stifle a snicker while they keep rooting around for my veins. I'm losing my patience and I think Pete is feeling my pain too and makes a comment, "You know what they say in baseball - three strikes and you're out!". Thankfully my (awesome!) doctor waves them off too when I tell them I think I need to poop. Wait, on second thought, I need to push!

I get onto the bed for my doctor to check to see how dilated I am. He sees I'm a nine plus and fully effaced and tells me I can start pushing whenever I'm ready. Well, I'm never ready for this part of the experience. I always say the labor I can do and I feel relatively in control and actually at times enjoy it, but the pushing, the pushing is a whole other story. It's as if this other-worldy force takes over my body and I have to surrender all control to the pain that consumes me at that moment. I am a bit of a control freak, so this is quite an overwhelming experience for me. I sat up in the bed and Peter was on my left and my doula was on my right. This baby was in quite a hurry because I don't think it was more than two or three pushes that she made her way out. They told me it was a girl and I just started crying with happiness. Once again, at the moment of her birth, I couldn't hold back my praises to the Lord, calling out, "Praise God! Praise God! Thank you Jesus!" I'm usually not one to be so animated, but to me it is such a remarkable and truly miraculous experience, I just can't hold back my joy and thanks to the Lord. They placed her sweet little body right on my belly and I just took her into my arms, not quite believing it was all over. She was born at 5:40pm, weighing in at 7lbs 11oz. We had no idea what we would name her, but somehow over the next 18 hours we landed on Skylar Belle Smith, just a few hours before we got discharged. She has been a delight and blessing to our lives every day since. The little girl that started as a prayer, not quite sure we even wanted more, I can't imagine life without.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Matthew Turns TWO! (July 21)

Dear Matthew,
You turned two last month. TWO! Even with your little sister on the way, I would look at you and still see my little baby, whose thighs I loved to squeeze, and asleep in your crib with your footie pajamas. Last week when we brought Skylar home, you were no longer my baby. Some how in one day's time your hands got huge and your thighs lost all their chub. You became a big boy over night and my little baby was nowhere to be found. I feel like being your mom puts me in a constant place of mourning the loss of last stage and looking excitedly toward the one that lies right ahead. There's no denying it, you are becoming a big boy. You run without tripping, you communicate your needs (more on that later), you share your toys and play with others, you make funny jokes - the most recent of which is when you proudly brought in your little lego man whose little lego head was replaced with a lego toilet bowl. Lego toilet man. You were laughing so hard and your creation and I was cracking up along with you, proud of your creativity. That's what you boys have made me into, a mom who is proud of her boys lewd humor because however lewd it was, it sure was creative.

You are my little goof ball of the bunch. You love to play games and make jokes, anything to make someone laugh or get to laughing yourself. You will play hide and seek for hours, always telling me exactly where you want me to hide. Haven't quite caught on the the suspense part of the game, but it's how you enjoy playing, so I indulge you. You will rise the the occasion to play at any moment, and we can often turn you out of a sour mood just by making a face or chasing you down the hall. Although, when it comes time to stop, you do become a bit put out. You've taken to expressing yourself very clearly with your actions. You will stomp your one foot rather hard and give a look of sheer stubborn determination. But, when you get the call to time out, you usually go rather willingly. When it comes time to apologize, you will come right over and give your "sorry hug" and then proceed to do what we asked of you.

Speaking of communication, you are definitely the latest of your siblings to talk. I'm not sure if it's because you had fluid in your ears for so long the first year of your life, or if it's just your particular developmental process, but you only have about five words you say - Mama, Dada, hot, hat, ice, and dirty (pointing to your diaper when it needs to be changed). We're going to have an assessment done this next week to make sure there's nothing else hindering your speech, but in the meantime, you still get your point across quite well. Sometimes I think you communicate better than your siblings just through the few words you use, your grunts, points, and facial expressions. I do wish I could hear your voice though and look forward to when it starts to present itself. I know it holds a great deal of your personality, just bursting to come forward.

It has been fun to watch you starting to play more and more with Cy and Charlotte. You're learning to share your toys and that every tower they build or fort they create is not made especially for you to knock over. All three of you are sleeping in the same room now and I can tell you like the company. Maybe a little too much from the sounds of shrieks and laughter that come from your room at a little past six in the morning. But I will definitely take that over yelling and crying any day. You always want to be a part of their play and as you get older I can tell you're learning more about how to play with them rather than at them. It's fun to watch you three together.

Probably the quickest to give hugs and say your sorry for any wrongdoing, I could tell from the beginning you've had a real sensitive side. If ever I'm sad or having a hard day, you will notice and come to my side with a hug or a snuggle. It's even amazing to me that from the day we brought home Skylar, you have not wanted to leave her side. At even such a young age, she is not a stranger to you, but it's like you know without a doubt she is your sister and it is your duty to protect her. I can't wait to see how you two grow together. I pray you two will be close and that this bond I see forming will grow even closer.

When we had you, I thought you would be our last. I didn't know our little surprise would come along two years later. Because of this, I did my best to soak in every moment with you. Every late night feeding, every song before bedtime, every moment your head rested contently on my shoulder, every laugh, every new step, every joke you would make, every sweet blankie and thumb-sucking snuggle. I am so glad I thought you were my last because not only did you teach me to soak in every moment with you, but also reminded me to do the same with Charlotte and Cy. It has been a wonderful last two years with the three of you and I look forward with joyful anticipation at what comes for the four of you in the many years ahead. 

You are such a joy and delight in our lives. Your laughter is contagious and your sweet smile lights up the room. You have such a huge personality and I love how it just washes over everyone around you. And I love your hair!! I can't do anything to tame that mane, but I just LOVE it! You are my sweet little guy, and I have so many prayers for you in the years that still lie ahead. I pray with all my heart that your sensitive sweet side would be pulled into the arms of Jesus at a very young age. I pray that big personality inside of you would just burst out with a love for your Savior and that love would spread onto everyone you touch. I pray you would be a great friend to your brother and sisters and that friendship would grow stronger every year. I pray all four of you would encourage one another in the Lord and be there for each other through the joys and sorrows, pointing one another more toward Christ through every difficult circumstance you face. I pray you would learn to sit in one another's pain with each other, sharing His love just in your presence with them. No words needed. I pray you would be a good friend to others and always find the one who is left out, ignored, or pushed aside, and offer a word of encouragement or kindness to them. I pray when people see you and get to know you, they would see the love of Christ so deeply inside of you with such compassion and love for others, that they would be drawn to Him with an undeniable pull. I pray you would see in the hard times how He is molding and shaping you more and more to His image and what a wonderful and perfect thing that is. I love you so deeply that at times it hurts, and those are the moments when I need to remember ultimately you are His, only given to me for a time to teach you how deep and how wide and how high is the love of Christ. He has entrusted you to me, and I pray with all my heart that I make good on that trust. I love you, Mister. My sweet sweet boy. 


Cy Turns Four (May 22)

Dear Cy,
I know, I know, this is August and your birthday was May 22, but for the past few months I was really just trying to keep you all alive and having any free time to write (uninterrupted) was pretty much nonexistent. We brought home your little sister, Skylar, a week and two days ago, and this morning your dad took you, Charlotte, and Matthew to church and gave me some time alone to rest. So, now, three months later, I finally have a moment to write to you. Please forgive your crazy mama.

First off, I want to say how amazed I am every day at how BIG you're getting! You are turning into this little boy and have left the toddler station for good. I see you walking down the hall sometimes and I can picture the stages of life you will walk through to your teenage years and in becoming a man. My heart is so huge for you, Cy, and as much as I'm excited to see you growing so fast, I also am saddened by the loss of everything that was baby in you.

You have changed and grown so much this past year and not just in size. Your personality has just exploded and we've gotten to see so many changes in your heart as well. It used to take quite a bit of prompting to say you were sorry or to show compassion toward others in a personal way, and now I notice you are often the first to say you are sorry and to make sure the other person is okay. You still love hugs and cuddles and are by far my best hugger. I could just hug you all day long when you give me one of your big wrap around hugs. You're also learning to control your temper more and often use your words before I even prompt you, in order to tell me how you're feeling about something. Dinner time is also much more enjoyable with you, as we've seen huge growth in your willingness to try new things and also to eat vegetables!! A once almost impossible feat! You now brag to us about how you're the first one to eat all the veggies on your plate. Many nights you're the one to ask if you can pray for the meal which is such a joy to watch...."Thank you God for the food, thank you for the earth, thank you for our family, thank you for ..sorry for our sins, help Matthew's boo boo....Amen." Many nights, if not every night, you are the first to thank me for dinner - something I'm sure your dad taught you by his wonderful example.

You started preschool this past year at the elementary school Monday through Thursday 8-11am. Other than a handful of days when you would have rather stayed home with me, you really enjoyed it. It was on those days when part of me wondered if I should have waited a year, but then I saw how much you were learning and how much you enjoyed making new friends, and I realized it was probably a good choice. You and your sister spend so much time together at home, which is often such a great thing, but sometimes you two need some time apart in order to enjoy one another more. School was a good opportunity for both of you to do this. You went in the morning, came home for lunch with the family, and then Charlotte went in the afternoon. So you both had a break from one another for a time and you both had some more one on one time with me.

Speaking of you and Charlotte, I have to say it was actually pretty tough to find many pictures of you alone because so often you two are playing together. As you two get older, you really do enjoy spending time together. Don't get me wrong, there are many fights I have to break up, but on the whole I know you would rather be together than play alone.

You've also started including Matthew in your play more as well. Often it's hard for you to share your toys and I know he hasn't learned all the "rules" of play yet, but I have noticed you being more patient with him and more willing to help him when he's having a tough time. You're the one who is quick to forgive and hug back when he has to apologize.

It's fun to watch the three of you play together, which has happened more and more often these days. Sometimes it will be fifteen or twenty minutes and I haven't heard any screaming or crying or arguing. I begin to wonder if everything is okay. I go outside to assess the situation and you all are sharing and playing together as if you are the best of friends. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of screaming and dirt throwing and balls thrown at heads, but on the whole, it's pretty peaceful.

Ever since we told you in December and you watched my belly grow in size every month, you have been excited at the idea of having another sibling. You wanted to know how the baby grows, what it eats, and if it could bite me. You really wanted a baby brother (the gender we always keep a surprise until the end) but toward the end you started to admit more and more that a little sister is really what you'd prefer. From the moment you met her at the hospital and every moment since, you have been so gentle and sweet toward Skylar. Your big hands stroke her small soft head like it were your most precious possession. You always want to know where she is, almost as often as Matthew does. I know you're going to be a great big brother, always looking out for her, and showing her the ropes.

Cy, it is a joy being your mama and watching you grow and change so much every day. I see a light in your eyes and a softness in your heart that gives me great encouragement for all that lies ahead for you. I continue to pray your heart would fully open one day to the love of Christ and you would let Him in completely without reservations. I know when that day comes you will be forever changed with no turning back. That's just the kind of boy you are - all in or nothing at all. I pray your love for your siblings would continue to grow and that the friendship you four hold for one another would withstand the test of time and circumstance. I look at your picture now and it just makes me smile, for all you are and all I know you will become. You are my bud, my sweet boy, my Cy. I love you with all my heart.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Charlotte at Five and a Half

Dear Charlotte,
My apologies to you that I've waited six months to write you five year letter. It seems that as we add to our family of blessing, time runs a bit shorter these days. I have the time today because I'm taking a vary rare day off of church and trying to get better from a lingering sickness that struck earlier this week. I'm trying not to feel guilty with three hours of uninterrupted time on my hands to rest and heal. If you were home with me now, I know you would be the first to make sure I was okay, getting me blankets and glasses of water and asking if there's anything else I need. You are indeed my little helper and such a sweet one at that. You have such a caring and kind nature, that whenever you see me hurting or in any pain, you're the first to come over and make sure I'm okay and give me a sympathetic hug or kiss what's hurting.

It's hard to believe you've grown up so much. I look at you and I still see my little baby, but at the same time I can't deny this sweet young girl you're becoming. Even when I look at this picture of you in the snow that was taken six months ago, I already see so many changes now. I just know that I want to enjoy every moment I have with you and never take a single one for granted.

The thing about you I am most grateful for is your sensitivity to the Lord's calling on your heart and your desire to tell everyone you can of the great love of Jesus. I remember listening at your door when you and Cy were "going to sleep" one night, and hearing you share the gospel message with him. You were telling him how Jesus is God and how he made everything, how he made Cy, and how much he loves him. You were telling him of how Jesus can take away sins and how he wants to live with him forever. Sometimes when I share these truths with you, I'm never quite sure if you're completely understanding it, but then when I hear you repeat them in your own way with your own heart, I realize you've been listening all along. And not just listening, but really understanding and wanting that truth for yourself.

You and Cy can be real goofballs together and it's fun to watch you two grow closer. As you become better friends, you also have your share of frustrations with one another. But, somehow you always manage to work it out and miss one another terribly when the other is gone for even part of the day. You and Cy both think of one another when at school and always try to make a project or color a coloring sheet for the other person. If I go to the store just with you, you always want to make sure we bring something back for Cy and Matthew. It's been hard for you to relate with Matthew, as he is still fairly young, but I do see you trying harder to find ways to play with him and be close to him. He loves you dearly and will cling on for a super hug whenever he can.

You will be in kindergarten next year and you are so excited to start school for the full day. You love to learn and often will pull out your kindergarten workbook and want to work on your writing and math skills. You have mastered your first name in upper and lower case letters and are now learning how to write your full name, your phone number, and address. You can count to one hundred with very little assistance, can recognize almost all the alphabet letters, and are learning to recognize more of your numbers past the teens. It's fun watching your brain work and want to know and take in more information. You love coloring, especially horses, and pay great attention to details. I am daily impressed with how well you're advancing in your artistic skills. You love reading and will often want to take a book into bed with you at night to read until you fall asleep. Even though you can't make out the words yet, you enjoy the pictures and trying to figure out the words and story line.

You found out in December that you'll soon have another little brother or sister this coming August. With Cy you were still a bit young, and even with Matthew, not as interested with the pregnancy, but with this baby you are very curious. You love watching my belly grow and keep asking how much bigger it's going to get. You will put your hands on my belly and patiently wait for a kick, and I get a thrill out of watching your eyes light up when the baby inside answers your request. You desperately want a little sister, but have become content with the fact that God knows what's best for our family - boy or girl - and that our job is to be thankful for the blessing of either. But, you're really hoping for that girl just the same! I love it that we all get to wait for the surprise together come August.

As a mom, one day maybe you'll come to know too, we always wonder if we're doing enough. Are we loving enough, leading well enough, teaching enough, being patient enough, helping enough, and giving enough. I wonder that with you daily and I daily have to trust the Lord that in every moment he is answering my many years of prayers to be a mother and to do the job in a way that honors Him. I pray that you will always know how deeply you are loved, by your Heavenly Father first and foremost, and then by me and your father. I pray that all we do every day will help lead you closer to Him and that your heart would swell with love with Him in return. More than anything else - more than any educational advancement, worldly prosperity, notoriety, or fame, I pray you would love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and that you would do great things for His Kingdom. I love you, my little sweet pea. With all that I have. I love you.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Can Hardly Believe It - Matthew Turns One!

Dear Matthew,
I feel like a single post could not contain all the joy I would like to express to you for being in our lives this past year. You are such a dear delight to us in so many ways. You have by far stolen the most sleep from me of the three of you, but somehow I've noticed the loss the least with you. I keep thinking that you're the fortunate one being born third. By this point in our parenting, we've messed up more than I ever imagined I would in my entire course as a parent, let alone in only the first three years, and now we're slowly starting to get our act together. You get to be witness to this parental sanctification and glean much of the fruit it produces. The same things the other two would get disciplined for, we look at you and say to one another, oh honey, look how cute he is. Then we smile and reflect on how great it is having a baby in this sweet, lovable, cuddly, adventurous stage. This is the time I pray wholeheartedly that your brother and sister are still young enough to not be scared for life and will also get to enjoy the benefits of the knowledge and wisdom we gained from our first two rounds in the ring. Or they'll just be so caught up in the games you like to play that they'll forget all about the challenging times.

I have to say, you surprised us at how early you initiated playing games. It was maybe at around nine months that you started pounding your high chair tray and laughing, then pulling your shirt up over your head repeatedly just to get a reaction from us.You also smiled very early on, and maybe not even two months old you started giggling. You've been very easy from the start and as soon as you could crawl, you'd make your way into the toy room and start playing with toys all on your own. You aren't one that needs constant entertainment, but you will take the cuddles whenever you can get them. Definitely the lover, you'll rest your head on our shoulders and snuggle in close. Whenever Daddy is around, you reach for him. If' he's lying down on the living room floor, you'll crawl to him as fast as your little body can take you, ready to initiate a game of wrestling or tickle fest. As soon as he comes home from work at the end of the day, you'll get a huge smile on your face. I'll tell you, go find Daddy, and you'll crawl down the hall into the bedroom, searching for him, or start knocking on the bathroom door, waiting for him to come out.

You're still waking up most nights to nurse. I thought I would go crazy when Cy didn't sleep through the night until eight months old, and now you're over one year and still waking. But, strangely, it doesn't bother me now like it did then. I think the Lord has worked on my heart over these past few years and shown me that sometimes being with your little one in their moment of need is worth a few hours of missed sleep. I still enjoy every opportunity I have to spend time alone with you, even if it's at two in the morning. Many nights, after feeding you, I'll then hold you on my shoulder, with your blanket around you and listen to your gentle "mmmmm....mmmmm............mmmmm" sounds before placing your gently into your bed. So so sweet. I don't mind one bit holding you those extra five or ten minutes. I do think part of your waking to eat has been that your ears have had fluid in them for a few months now. We went this week to get tubes in your ears and are hoping that it helps you sleep a bit better at night. Although, I do think as much as I will love the extra sleep, I will secretly miss our sweet moments together in the middle of the night.

Little by little you're starting to walk now. You took your first steps last week and now will take six to eight before falling down on your bottom. You're our only child to first learn to stand on your own before learning to walk. The others had to pull up on us or on furniture or the wall before they could walk, but you just stand up all on your own right in the middle of the floor. We'll clap for you and you'll start clapping along, not even completely realizing what you're doing. But when you do take those few steps, you get a big smile on your face and beam with pride.

I've noticed lately that you really do understand me too. A few things have happened lately that I really don't recall other one-year old's doing. A couple weeks ago you pulled a spatula of the dishwasher while I was loading it and I asked you to pick it up and bring it back to me. You had to work real hard to shimmy down under the dishwasher where you had dropped it, but you worked at it and managed to get it back, then placed it in my hand. I didn't expect you to do it, so was surprised when you gave it back to me without any fuss. Also, I've told Charlotte not to leave her hair clips around the house because you could put them in your mouth and choke on them. But, if she does forget, you'll go find them around the house and bring them to me. Then the sweetest thing happened today when Cy was brushing his teeth before his nap. I had told him to brush his teeth and then he'd take his nap. While I was brushing his teeth, you crawled in with his blanket, stood up by the sink and handed it to him, as if you knew he'd need it for his nap. Finally, you melted Daddy's heart when he was leaving for work yesterday after lunch. You crawled after him, waving to him when he looked back to say good bye. That was the first time you had done that, and totally unsolicited.

Matthew Leif means blessed gift from God and that's just what you are. You are like a soothing balm to us on some of our more challenging days. You really bring such laughter and sweetness to our lives. You were probably the most physically and spiritually challenging birth, but as soon as you came out I knew you were just what we needed. You make Charlotte and Cy laugh every day and give them such great chances to show love and kindness. I have a feeling you and Cy will be great truck buddies and I think Charlotte will always have a very sweet place in her heart for you. You go to her often for play and even for cuddles. Cy can't wait to see you in the morning and has been slathering you with kisses lately. Maybe realizing everyone can use an ally. I'm so excited to see all the Lord has in store for your future. I am convinced that he has made you the playful, lovable, easy going guy you are for some of his best and greatest purposes. I pray you will rise to the occasion and grow to serve him with your entire heart and soul. I also pray you and Charlotte and Cy will grow to be great friends and dear confidants in Christ; that your brotherhood and sisterhood would be bonded not just by family blood but more importantly, by the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. For this is the bond that nothing can break. I love you more than you could imagine. I pray one day you will have the blessing of children of your own and might get a chance to know and understand the depth and delight of a parent's love for their children. You have my heart, sweet one.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cy Turns Three: Happy Birthday Little Man!

Dear Cy,
You turned three years old this week. As you would say, "happy birthday to me!". I have to say, life with you rarely holds a dull moment. You are chock full of energy from sun up to sun down, minus a two hour nap you still day most days. You are growing so fast; earlier this week when we were at the doctor's office for Matthew, I measured you and Charlotte, only to find you both at the same 39" mark. I think you also have about five pounds on her, even being 18 months younger. People are constantly surprised how heavy you are when they go to pick you up. Often I have to remind myself when disciplining you two or in my expectations of your behavior, that you are indeed 18 months younger. Even though you may look the same age as Charlotte, you respond to life quite differently still.

It's great to see how creatively your mind works. Many days you come up with the most impressive lego creations. It makes me realize I better start saving now for a potential lego addiction in the years ahead. You love taking things apart to see how they work. This has caused me to be a bit better at my supervision of your independent play time. The other day, I was on the computer trying to write down some directions for a location we were to travel to out of town, and you kept asking me to use the squirt gun outside. I told you, no, no squirt gun, multiple times, then followed with a request for you to go find something to do. Well, it was quiet for a while, which makes me both equally grateful and nervous. Then I saw you playing with the lid of the salad spinner - the part that you push down to make the bowl spin. You've done this before with no problems, so I didn't worry. Then it was quiet for some time and a tickle of worry entered my mind. I went to find out what you were up to only to see you on the kitchen floor with the screwdriver and the salad spinner top in pieces in front of you. You were so proud of how well you took it apart that I found it rather difficult to discipline you for completely ruining my salad spinner. Needless to say, the new salad spinner is now on the very top shelf, hidden out of reach. But I've learned not to be so sure it won't be found one day.

You're slowly learning to get along better with your sister and most days you two spend many hours playing quite nicely together. Don't get me wrong, a day doesn't go by where sibling rivalry doesn't rear its ugly head, but I've noticed many times where, no matter how much she "bothers" you (Charwotte is bothering me!), you are the first to defend her when she's in need. Often times, when at the dinner table and we need to speak sternly to Charlotte, you will speak up and defend her rather strongly, telling us not to talk to her like that. If Daddy tries to sneak a bite of her desert when she's not looking, you'll practically jump over the table to keep his fork at bay. It's nice to know that no matter how much you two get at one another, I know deep down she is dear to your heart.

I've noticed lately that you're getting better at sharing and will more quickly change your heart when needing to share a toy or your food with someone else. You even get excited to share a bite of your favorite food or desert. When Matthew comes close to you to play with your toys, you've even started searching for one of your favorites to give to him, often without me having to ask you. He loves being close to you and if he's up from his nap before you are, he'll crawl down the hall to your bedroom door and wait by it, hitting the bottom of the door with his little hand. I have a feeling you two are going to grow to be great friends.

When you go to bed at night, I'll tuck you both in, pray with you and then sing a song. Now as often as Charlotte does, you too remind me to pray if ever I forget. You're also the first to call out prayer requests, whether it's that God will help you go poo poo and pee pee in the potty so you can get your truck (which you did - wooo hoooo!!), or for a friend of yours who was going to have eye surgery. It has been fun to talk with you about the things we've prayed for and how we've seen the Lord answer our prayers. "Sanctuary" is one of your favorite bedtime songs and many times you'll ask me to softly scratch your back while I sing it to you one last time. Those are some of the most exhausted moments of my day, but also by far the most enjoyable.

The Lord has definitely made you big and strong for your age, but he has also given you a sweet and loving heart. One of my favorite things you've started doing is telling me, "Mommy, I love you so very much.". It is usually followed by a big hug that just melts me from head to toe. Some days I feel like I could just hold you all day long if time and life would allow it. I pray every night that the Lord would take hold of your heart at an early age and never let you go. I pray that you would grow to be a godly boy, and in time, a godly man. I pray your heart would swell with a desire to seek and serve the Lord with your entire being and that you would find sheer joy and delight in being in His presence. I pray your faith would be so big, it would put all of ours to shame. I pray you would grow to know how deep and how wide and how high is the love of Christ. I pray that in all my failings as a parent, somehow, you would see through them my love for the Lord, and that alone would be the one thing you would hold on to. I pray you would always be able to come to your Daddy and me and we would always point you to the Lord and show you the safety you can find in His arms. I love you so much, my sweet boy. You are a joy and delight in our lives. You bring laughter, sweetness, and fun to our days in ways we've never known before.

Love you to pieces,