Dear Alden: You’re One Year Old!

Dear Alden,

This week you officially turn one! My last baby is leaving behind his babydom and entering the toddler zone. I know I should be sad about this, but you are such the perfect ending to our baby years, that instead of sad I just feel content.

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I do feel bad that this is my first post dedicated to you since I chronicled your birth story, but 2020 has been a YEAR baby boy. With the pandemic, school closures, work and raising four kids, my time was all used up. But I want you to know that I love every second we’ve spent together this year.

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You have been such an angel baby. Don’t tell your siblings this, but you have been by far our easiest, most content baby. From your amazing birth to now, you’ve made life easy for me. You took to nursing well, you slept through the night early on and you generally are just a chill, happy dude. I’d like to take the credit for how sweet you are, but I know in reality it’s just your good-natured temperament.

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Before you were born, my friend has a “psychic party” where the psychic told me you were the oldest soul in our family and that we’d all learn from you. At the time I got chills because your name was already picked out and meant “old, wise friend.” I think this prediction was right too, because you have a mature, almost angelic quality to you.

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Physically you started rolling, then sitting up, then crawling earlier than any of my other babies. You have started taking some steps and love to climb everything. You seem very sure footed and very rarely take a tumble. You are also a very curious little baby who is always creating mischief – usually by dumping out Finny’s dog food and water.

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Due to the pandemic, you have mostly been a “house baby” as I like to say. Your days are spent in the safety and familiarity of our house among your siblings, dog and parents. You love crawling from the playroom to the kitchen and back exploring the toys set out, finding remotes to bang and attempting to break through the gates and up the stairs. You bring so much fun to our home.

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One hard part about your first year was your diagnosis with severe Hemophilia. I noticed when you were four months old that you started getting bad bruises just from rolling over. When I took you to the doctor, they thought I was abusing you and made me take you to the hospital with warnings that CPS may be called on me. That day about broke me.

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Thankfully the hospital workers were kind and very quickly we got your diagnosis. We were all in shock as we have no family history and you have two older brothers without the disease. Recently though we found out that I am a carrier and didn’t know. I felt so much guilt when I found out – like I had given you this awful thing you have to carry for the rest of your life.

Early on though, Daddy and I decided that this disease would not define you. It would be something we dealt with, but not the focus of your life or who you are. Thankfully you were able to get on a new medication called Hemlibra that has dramatically changed the lives of hemophilia patients. Instead of infusions three times a week, you just get one injection every month. And my sweet boy, you’ve been absolutely THRIVING since we started your injections. It’s been such a wonderful blessing.

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I’m so looking forward to this year (and the years to come) to see how you grow and develop into your own special person. I know that nothing will hold you back from doing the things you want in life. I will make sure of that!!

So many people love you baby boy. You bring a special light to our family that I cherish. When you’re in the room it’s pretty much impossible to feel upset. The sweet way you lay your head on my shoulder, when you try to say “doggie!” when you see Finny, the way you wave at daddy, your squeals of delight when you’re around your brothers and the way you light up when you see Lila fill all our hearts. I’m pretty sure you’re everyone’s favorite in this family.

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Thank you for choosing to join our family and for bringing us such joy. Daddy and I love you forever!

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XO,

Mommy

 

 

Dear Lila: You’re Eight Years Old!

Dear Lila,

Today you turn eight years old! We started your morning with the usual donuts, balloons, flowers and presents. I love showering you with attention on your special day, because you absolutely deserve it!

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It feels a little weird that you’re turning eight, because on one end I feel like you were just my little baby. I can actually feel your little hand in mine as we took on all our daily adventures to story time, play dates, the zoo and coffee shops. It was just you and me most days and it was so awesome.

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But then on the other hand you seem so much older than eight. You have a quiet maturity beyond your years. Sometimes when we’re laying in bed before I say goodnight, you tell me about your day, your friends, whats happening in school and I feel like I’m talking to a young woman, not a little kid.

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You’ve shifted away from princesses and dress up towards pop singers and begging me to wear some makeup. While I am not too keen on you growing up too fast, I am enjoying watching the amazing person you’re becoming. I tell my friends all the time that you really are such a wonderful kid. When I feel like I’m failing as a parent, I remind myself how great you are, so I must be doing something right, right??

Screen Shot 2020-11-16 at 1.38.05 PM This year you’ve really come into your own. You are so confident that it blows my mind sometimes. When I was your age I often tried to do anything to just fit in – even hiding parts of myself to appease others – but you are unabashedly yourself. This is probably why people are so drawn to you!

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Just like when you were a toddler and would ask me daily to “go bye bye sumpin,” you still like being active and busy. This year you did cross country again and got first place at championships against girls a year older than you. It was so exciting! Other sports you’ve done this year include swimming, tennis, golf, basketball and yoga. You also still love art, drawing, singing and you’re just starting piano lessons. On the rare days we don’t have anything planned, you usually beg to have a friend over to play. You do NOT like just sitting around.

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Despite having a lot of friends, you still love spending time with your family the most. You have developed an especially close bond with Alden. And he adores you right back. You love to hold him, play with him and try to get him to giggle. You’re also still very close with your cousins Mabel and Reagan. I’m so thankful for technology that has allowed you girls to play games together despite covid and living so far apart.

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You are incredibly smart and have an insatiable appetite for reading. Daddy can’t keep library books coming fast enough for you and we often have to tell you to turn the lights off or you’d read well into the night. In fact last year you read the most minutes during a school competition – 33 hours in one weeks! You definitely got your memory from your Daddy as you already smoke me in matching games. I love that you love school, learning and expressing your creativity. I often find you writing stories, plays or poems in your free time.

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I love how sensitive and open you are with your feelings. Almost every day you tell Daddy and I how much you love and appreciate us. You always express your genuine appreciation for the things we do for you, like take you shopping or have your friends over. Little things many kids take for granted, you recognize and know how lucky you are. Any time you feel angry, upset or sad, you are able to work through your tough emotions and apologize on your own later. Like I said, you’re mature beyond your years!

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These birthday letters are always bittersweet because I know you’re growing up and eventually will set out on your own. Any time I start to get sad though I remind myself how lucky I am that I got to spend literally every day of your life with you. I haven’t missed a thing and it’s been the BEST experience of my life watching you grow up.

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I hope you know how special you are to me and Daddy. We are so proud of you kiddo!!!

Love always,

Mommy

 

 

 

Giveaway: Get $100 a Watermelon Session with Brittany Ann Photography

Summer is in full swing here in Ohio! Our kids have been enjoying getting outside, going to the pool and playing tennis. Even though this summer looks different than years past due to COVID, we are making the most of the beautiful weather.

One thing I wanted to do was capture the kids in a photo session, so when Brittany from Brittany Ann Photography offered to do a watermelon mini session I jumped at the chance. The photos turned out so adorable and the kids had a blast!

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Brittany does such a fantastic job of capturing the kids personalities. She’s so good with the kids that I honestly didn’t do a thing for this shoot! And can we also talk about how Lila looks 16!?

Brittany Ann Photography is offering one of my readers $50 off their Watermelon mini session (normally $175) PLUS $50 in print credits! The session must be booked by end of August.

To enter, follow @brittanyannphotos on Instagram and comment below with your kids favorite summer fruit. I’ll pick a winner on July 3rd!

Dear Boys, You’re Four Years Old!

Dear Whitaker and Davis,

A few weeks ago you guys turned four years old! We had grand plans to throw you a big birthday party with a magician, but the coronavirus pandemic foiled our plans. Instead, after 56 days of isolating at home, we decided it was safe enough to spend your birthday with Grammie and Gramps.

You both were SO HAPPY to be out of the house visiting your grandparents. They as usual made the visit lovely for you, with special toys laid out all around the house, big wheels in the garage and all your favorite foods ready. I was so relived to see both of your happy, sweet spirits return while we were there. At one point, Davis, you said “I’m so happy here.”

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The morning of your birthday, you woke up (Davis at 2:45 am from excitement!) to gifts, cake, balloons and transformer decorations, because if there’s one thing to know about you right now, it’s that you LOVE transformers! We ate a breakfast of cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon and fruit before you tore into your presents (surprise! More transformers).

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It was a great end to your third year. Honestly, three has been a tricky year for you guys in many ways. A new sibling joining the family, starting school, then your beloved preschool teacher abruptly leaving and finally a global pandemic completely halting your life. So many big changes happened this year, that any one would struggle with, let alone a little three year old.

Three is a big year already with a lot of milestones. You both became more independent, yet still wanted to be little. In fact leading up to your fourth birthday, Whitaker, you asked me “Do I have to become a big guy on my birthday?” I reassured you that you have a lot more years as a “little guy” before the pressure of growing up is upon you.

Despite all the changes, one thing remained consistent this year, and that is your brotherly bond. I feel bad at times that I group you two together (like writing you one blog post vs two separate), but in reality you two are still very much a package deal. You love being together, playing transformers for hours. When I try to do “special time” with you separately, you both ask where the other one is and why did I leave them at home!?

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Although you’ve got that amazing twin bond going on, you both are very different in many ways.

Davis, you are our little builder. You love playing with legos, connecting blocks and other toys that require you to use your imagination to build something. I think that’s why you love transformers so much, because you can use your hands to change and morph them into something new. Your focus and concentration amazes me – you already can complete transformers that are 20+ steps meant for 10 year olds.

IMG_4696 You are still my sweet snuggler and are content to lay with me watching a show (usually transformers). It absolutely melts my heart when you let me hold you, because your siblings are far too active for that. I will miss that time together so much when you get older and don’t want your mommy as much.

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I’ve realized this year that you are far more sensitive than I ever thought. You pick up on things that other kids are oblivious to. No small detail passes you by. You are the kid stopping to notice the roughness of the tree bark, or the feather underneath the grass.

This also has meant you have stronger emotions to things like the coronavirus. You ask me a lot about the virus, when it will end and why you can’t go to school or go to all the places you love. While my heart hurts seeing you struggle with these big feelings, I know this sensitivity will be an amazing asset for you as you grow up. You’ll be the man who is a empathetic husband, father and friend.

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Whitaker you have grown up so much this past year and yet in many ways are still my baby boy. You enjoy your creature comforts and honestly find the whole school thing a little bit uncomfortable. Pretty much every day you would cling to us at drop off and start your day crying a bit. The teachers assured us that you warmed up quickly, but let’s just say the stay at home order from the pandemic was a welcome change from you!

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You are such a BOY it’s almost funny. My friends laugh at all my Instagram stories showing you scaling some part of our furniture, making giant messes or just being your loud, boisterous self. Before having boys, I thought all that gender stuff was mostly conditioning, but you have shown me that it can be absolutely just inherent!


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You are a strong little guy and have such coordination. Before your fourth birthday you were riding a bike without training wheels. I can see a future in athletics for you for sure. Beyond your physicality, you also love playing transformers with Davis. You love making up little story lines and I’ll often hear you mumbling to yourself followed by a “blast! blast!”

 

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Oh and if you can’t tell by these photos, you spent most of your third year of life naked! lol. You definitely make your preferences known and can be extremely persistent in what you want. This will serve you well later in life when you won’t let yourself be peer pressured. I have a feeling you’ll be the person who always knows what they want in life.

I am so excited to see what this year brings for both of you. If your experience is anything like your sisters, I think you’ll love being four. For her things just sort of “clicked” shortly after her fourth birthday and life for everyone got a lot easier.

My hope for both of you this year is that you know how much you are loved and that no matter what challenges come your way, you are capable of overcoming them. You’ll have your family cheering you on every step of the way.

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We love you both so much and are so glad we get to watch you both grow up together.

XO,

Mommy