DEAR RAE : : YEAR SIX

My sweet Rae,

I spent the better part of my afternoons this week reading past letters I’ve written to you. What joy you bring to our days. It’s been great to see which traits have stuck with you (your infectious head-thrown-back belly laugh) and which traits you’ve sadly grown out of (back pats).

I am in awe of the beautiful qualities that make you our Amelia.

Now! Let us see what your sixth trip around the sun entailed!

You are still shy yet very outspoken when the occasion calls for it.

You, like me, want to be completely surrounded by people who are leaving you well enough alone. Thanks for exempting me from such boundaries and allowing me to share your bubble for snuggles anytime I want.

I love the way you speak. My favorite “Raeism” has to be how you refer to today as, “This day.” and tomorrow as, “The next day after this day.”

Penelope is still your favorite human.

You love the idea of going to Daddy’s classroom but do not actually like being in Daddy’s classroom.

You are entering your seventh year with a consistent love of naps and you still fall asleep during most car rides. It’s the cutest.

You’ve finally caved and decided to move on from your coveted pixie cut and are now aiming for “Mommy’s hair.” I miss the pixie.

You drew me a picture, possibly, every day this past year. Often, several a day. You fold them up and put them in an envelope with a sticker across the seal, and place it / them on my pillow.

I may require that this tradition continues well into your adulthood.

I kid…

But, please, don’t grow out of this phase too fast okay?

You used to be fanatical about things, such as Star Wars and our beloved, Sarah and Duck. Nowadays, you like many things a decent amount – such as! – dinosaurs, comic books, dancing, painting (You would paint all day if I’d let you. Someday, I hope I let you.).

In your sixth year, I do believe your affection for accessories grew to new heights. Maybe it’s the new hair? You adore headbands, clips, braids, earrings (clip-ons), bracelets and of course, watches.

You lost three teeth this year! You were so worried well before you even felt the ‘tweensiest’ wiggle and by the time the third tooth was loose enough, you pulled it yourself. whatagirl.

Happiest of birthdays, Rae. We love you immensely.

DEAR MAE : : YEAR EIGHT

Marvelous Mae, you turn EIGHT today!

What an incredible honor it is to be your mom. You are this kindest, most patient, curious, loving human being I will ever know. I was given another year with you (a completely healthy you!), that alone makes my heart burst and my eyes brim with tears – alright, let’s get away from this mushy stuff… Hopefully, as you’re reading this I am still around bothering you with these words in person, daily.

Let’s move along to see what you are like at this very moment in time!

You are, still, always good for a joke, sincere encouragement, or an adventure.

You have grown two inches in the past year!

You care about your clothes and find a way to bring about your own style. You work with what you’ve got and thankfully, your hand-me-downs are just what you prefer to wear!

You are so proud of your progress in dance and have been striving to devote more time to your stretches, your knowledge of what you’re taught as well as building up your technique. You are always floating and dancing your way from one place to the next.

You still do not like meat. Your father wants to know, “Why?” Along those lines, your favorite meal has to be dessert – even if that means designating a non-sweet item on your plate as the “dessert.” You like soup, salads, and the greatest of all foods would have to be pancakes. All types of pancakes.

You are adaptable and pleasant in every situation. You never complain about anything – and I truly mean that ‘anything’. Well okay, if there is meat on your plate by accident, say on pizza or in a meal at someone’s house, you wince a little.

You hold your sister’s hand all. the. time. and it is the greatest.

You always have paper and a pencil with you. You copy words from books, write stories, write letters and write random words whose spelling you want to commit to memory.

And, Oh!, that memory of yours. I’ve never seen anything like it. The other day, you brought up a seemingly insignificant five-minute conversation you and I had two years ago! because it related to a current conversation we were having. You can tell me how to get to Vovo’s old house in Dothan, Alabama. You know certain recipes by heart, and you hear very sophisticated words and will bring them up in the natural flow of a sentence. Words we didn’t even know you knew but had heard somewhere along the way.

You are definitely an older sister. I don’t want to say bossy so before I do, let’s jump on over to the next sentence!

Your favorite subject is probably still science – biology and robotics are where it’s at. You, like your daddy, have to figure out how things work and why they work. But, you are like your momma in the way that you always want to go somewhere, anywhere at all times.

Paris and horses and baking and reading are a few of your favorite things. You can read so well now and are understandably proud of yourself!

I feel as though saying, “We love you so much!” falls short of what we truly mean. Those words are said so frequently that they may lose their meaning if they haven’t already – but I’m not too great at or fond of metaphors. So, I will tell you we feel more deeply for you than we ever thought we could feel. When you came into this world we discovered a new kind of love that is beyond understanding and beyond measure. You share our love with your sister, yet somehow you each have more than our whole hearts in your possession. You are imperfect, yet perfect. I cannot possibly love you more but I can try, more than I do, this year to show you how much I adore you.

My beautiful, Mae. Happy Birthday sweet girl.

DEAR MAE

Oh, Miss Mae…

This post has been in draft mode for quite some time. I can’t quite think of how to put all of the things I feel into the right words.

SO! This letter will be a list. A list of some things about you that I’m so very grateful for…

Let’s begin with your unwavering commitment to snuggling. I could not be more proud. You press your head over my heart, wrap your arms around to my back and tuck your knees up to your chest making it so they lie on mine. Then, you stay put for many many minutes. It’s terrific.

Whats more, you kiss me with quite the confident pucker and you dig hand-holding just as much as I do.

You are always up for anything – a trip, an activity, folding laundry, changing A’s diapers, legit tea parties, helping with construction projects, cooking when I’m drowning in responsibility or simply not feeling well, or curling up on the couch with me just so we can sit still next to one another with no agenda (the best!).

You tell me all of your hopes and dreams the moment they spark into existence. (also the best!)

You let me stare at your face as long as I want, whenever I want.

You’re the funniest human I know. Like, the quickest wit expressed with clever adult word-age. Words very unlike the word word-age.

You still refer to people as humans. Every time. Not to be funny, simply to be specific.

You are curious. I know that is a typical characteristic of a child – but you seem to excel at curiosity. You want to know everything about everything. I’m very grateful I’m in a position to take the time to figure out the answers to the universe with you.

You are still gentle – unless a certain joke requires you to be boisterous. Anything for a laugh.

Along those lines – you fully commit to a joke and believe there is never a wrong time to be hilarious. You’ve never had a comment fall short of brilliant. Ever.

You’re an incredible artist – dancing, drawing, and acting. Like your daddy, you can put on a performance at a moments notice. I love that about him and love that I see that part of him in you.

You strive to verbalize foreign accents perfectly, once again, like your daddy does.

You are never short of compliments. You constantly tell us kind, uplifting things about ourselves and make us feel not only loved but noticed.

I can’t believe I get be your momma. I get you. You are so bright and fill us all with an untamable joy.

DEAR RAE

The other day I took you with me to the store. Just us.

As we passed the trough of flower bouquets you asked, “Can I buy you some flowers, Mommy?”

I quickly said, no. Thinking that that would be a waste of money.

You shyly responded with an, “Okay.”

When we got home I felt a pit in my stomach. I realized that I ignored you and your desire to do something nice for me. You don’t understand money. You were thinking of someone other than yourself. I don’t want to make you feel bad for anything, much less, thoughts of kindness.

The next day we went back for those flowers. The big bouquet. You were so happy. It has been so nice to walk by them each day and be reminded of you.

I love you, Rae.

 

DEAR MAE

You tried desperately to explain the concepts of today tomorrow and yesterday to your sister this morning. It went something like this,

“Tomorrow is the day after today.”

“Is tomorrow this night?”

“No. Today is right now and tomorrow is the day after this one.”

“What? Do I get to go to preschool today or not?”

Then, Momma snapped the photo above.

I sympathize, dear. I’m still trying to get just one of you to understand the timings of breakfast, lunch, and supper… (Spoiler alert, they are not interchangeable.)

DEAR RAE : : HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY EDITION

Agh, that face! Happy birthday, Gorgeous!

That pose and perfectly orchestrated smile was done solely by you with no instruction, yet somehow it’s not the you that comes to my mind typically. You can be sweet, sure, but you are still very much a “party waiting happen,” as Grandma DeeDee puts it. A John Hughes party.

As you get older, you’ll notice your personality is different than the quiet calm nature the rest of your immediate family posses. Embrace it. You were gifted it for a reason, Rae.

You’re still loud, stubborn, and appalled by all things sticky. BUT! You adore all things sparkly. Too many accessories is not a thing. You’d choose a dress with poof! (and nail polish to match, of course) over jeans any day.

However, when you do get around to wearing pants, you make sure the brim never falls below your belly button. Heaven forbid.

You still wear a watch every day. Your favorites (you have SO many!) are Grandpa Fred’s watch, my cousin Michael’s watch he took overseas, and the one in these photos. I don’t know what show the characters are from, but it lights up so it’s definitely in the running.

Star Wars is still the greatest. thing. everrrrr. Dark side still reigns supreme, and Luke Skywalker is still the ultimate dreamboat.

Paw Patrol is your newest obsession. “Chase is on the case!” Or so I hear…

You’re a self-proclaimed “good ripper.”

You are brilliant. You can read new words and complete second-grade math at a glance.

Your drawing skills are tops, and you color better than seasoned ‘big kids.’ You have grown out of that breaking-every-crayon thing you used to do, but still tear off the wrapping.

You sing ‘church songs’ all day long. You’ve always been able to hold a tune. Even as a baby you hummed on key. Something you did not get from me. I love to hear you sing.  (Or hum the Imperial March)

You have ZERO interest in organized extracurricular activities, but hand you a shovel, and you’ll dig holes for hours – pausing for snacks every fifteen minutes. Naturally.

This twirl photo was, again, not posed. You twirl after each time you get dressed for the day, and then again once your shoes are on. Each time a favorite song comes on and when the wind picks up bringing a fresh breeze your way.

At this point in your life, you are very much a best friend tease. You have ten or so right now, but you hold to your word and make them all feel loved when you see them and talk about them all often.

You still prefer short hair since it’s low maintenance (at your age anyway). It suits you.

These past five years wouldn’t have been nearly as grand without you, Rae.

We love you ‘so dang much!’

 

DEAR MAE : : HAPPY 7TH BIRTHDAY EDITION

Welp. Here we are, and here it is. The starting line of your eighth trot around the sun.

You’re officially SEVEN. Honestly, that feels about right.

I won’t say I wish you were still wittle bitty. While that was a hoot, I am beyond grateful that you’re here with us now.

As I sat writing this, you’ve given me not one, not two, but three!! goodnight kisses. Right there on my mouth. Seven and still kissin’ yer ma on the lips. I’m going to milk your generosity for all its worth.

I’ve noticed, in the past two weeks or so, a shift in your relationship with your sister. You’re outgrowing her a bit. She’ll catch up, and you’ll never be apart for too long, but for the first time you don’t have the patience you once had.

That being said, you have more patience than any human I know. I’ll do my best to help you hold on to that.

You are intuitive and compassionate.

Your most prominent interests are what they have always been, exploring the outdoors, art, science, dancing, and learning about the history of different cultures.

OH! Fashion. how could I forget fashion? Definitely, the interest that has been brought to the forefront this past year. I could wear the same plain gray t-shirt every day, but you adore all things sparkly and new. The fancier the better.

You are wise beyond your years.

You have a flair for drama. The good kind. Your quick wit and charm fill my heart with such delight. Right up there with them th’r kisses you dull out so freely.

Your heart is fair. You know good, and don’t see why someone would choose another path.

You light up a room simply by being in it (your smile and genuine interest in people helps too!) and leave each person feeling like the most loved person on earth with those bear hugs you’ve mastered in your seven short years.

You have become interested in writing stories, poems, and notes. (Now that you can write) The words and phrases you use on the daily stop us where we stand. You’re brilliant.

Above all, you know you are a child of God. You make the most beautiful observations about life and Heaven and your Savior and ask the deepest and most thoughtful questions.

You see the world and those in it, as the Lord does. Faith of a child I suppose, but I’ll do my part in following your lead, and not stray you from the pure heart you now possess.

Happiest of Birthdays, Twerp. We love you so much it literally hurts.

DEAR MAE

Dear Mae,

You lost your eighth tooth, Sunday at church. The dentist says this will be the last one for a while. You’re thrilled about this.

You are pretty well independent at this point. You have begun making plans for yourself throughout the day, and become upset when those plans get foiled for one reason or another, or bear results you didn’t foresee. (OR when Mom says, “Not right now.” That’s the w o r s t.)

You’re developing your own sense of style. The fashion sense of American Girl, Grace, seems to be your desired outcome. You get hand-me-downs, so Grace ain’t happenin’, but you never complain. You’re terrific.

You are intentional about what you choose at the store, and often spend what seems like hours, carefully browsing the isles for just the right thing. You are really diggin’ your spy kit and have been watchfully investigating what camera you want for your birthday.

You’re still hilarious, and fully aware of you’re hilarity. We needn’t think you’re funny, you’ll laugh enough for the rest of us.

Daddy told you you have a lovely singing voice. You responded, “Yeah, that’s why I want to be a Pop Star.” And then, Mom cried herself right into the fetal position.

I love you, Mae!

TEN YEARS!

Ten years! It seemed so distant a minute ago.

For the occasion, here are some things I adore about my incredibly attractive husband :

This man is pure good.

He has the most adventurous spirit, the patience of a saint, exceptional taste in music and the ability to listen and love and rarely judge as I’ve grown and changed over the years.

He serves under the radar, and gets embarrassed by praise.

He’s nothing but honest, and an incredibly hard worker.

He is a dedicated father who loves his children more than anything – and proves it to them through works as well as words.

When he looks at me, I know I am so loved. He really looks at us. I just know his heart is in this for the long haul.

He gives every hug, kiss, side glance, cat call, and “I love you” his all. (and I’ve received more than one of each of these a day – for ten years!)

He is the funniest human I know, and I am the funniest human he knows (right, Zack??). I’m sure that last half seems a bit strange to mention, but he makes me feel worth his precious time, and hangs on my every word. That’s a great feeling.

He is a bit like Jeramiah Johnson, but he also knows the lyrics to every Brak song. He’s one of those.

You’re my favorite person, Zack Rogers. thank you for being my best friend, the father of our children and the love of my life.

From Zack-

Bawww, you’re just a big sweety-pie. I’m going to sneak on here and write some things about you if you’re going to be pouring it on like that.

I’m not sure where the time goes. One minute we’re helping out with Springhill’s youth group, then you’re wheelchairing around the hospital parking garage working on Penelope, setting up my classrooms and slinking around St. James seeing what there is to do around here, having dinner in the hospital celebrating Amelia, buying our first house, joining our church family, pulling teeth to get the kids in bed, working on the house, literally pulling teeth, family vacations, day trips, day jobs, weekend jobs, chores, days out, nights in, and before you know it 10 years have gone by.

Your patience and devotion ignores my many flaws.

You’re as ready to take an impromptu float trip as you are to go see a movie with the kids. You enjoy ordering take-out when we can afford it, and you’re cheerful no matter how many weeks in a row we can’t afford it.

You’re, like, stupid-hot.

When we meet the rare circumstance in our lives that we can’t change, you’re public expression of long-suffering joy remind me just how blessed we are that our problems are so small.

You laugh at my jokes, even when they can’t objectively be classified as jokes. Then you turn them around and one-up me until they ARE jokes.

Penelope and Amelia are some lucky kids. They don’t just learn the typical school stuff from you; they learn how to be good sisters, how to be good mothers, how to make killer pancakes, how to drive at irresponsibly young ages, how to look at the world, and how to build up others.

I bring home plenty of funny teenager slang, and you just roll your eyes like, “you’ve been too old for that for 10 years now”. I don’t know why, but I think that’s pretty cool of you. I’m still gonna do it though.

I love you more and more each day. Thanks for building me up. Thanks for putting so much love into our kids. Here’s to another 10 years.

 

DEAR RAE

RAE RAE mia-1 mia

Dear Rae,

Unaware that I was making caramel apples in the kitchen, you asked if you could have an apple. I said not right now, ’cause I’m sneaky, so you refused to give he a smile. Actually, getting you to look up at all was quite a chore.

Please be this stubborn when boys ask you out on dates. Until then, continue to master “the silent treatment.”