DEAR MAE

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Dear Miss Mae,

You have bloomed into such a big personality in the past few months. You are charming, full of sympathy and joy. You have proudly taken Amelia under your wing, teaching her the proper way to twirl, demonstrating patience when she needs it, and showing her the ropes in the fields of tooth hygiene, dirty dish disposal, and the right way to hold a crayon. She follows you everywhere and copies your every move. I love the way you adore each other.

You now can do everything on your own. Surprisingly, this has filled me with joy, and not sadness as I assumed it would. You brush your teeth and hair, wash your hands, you get your own drinks, you can start and stop the bath water at the right height, and have even taken over washing your sister! You help me each and every day.

You are eager to hand out kisses and have perfected the pucker

Your favorite dress is your purple one with white stripes. A dress with no glitter or flare, and the color is kind of dull, yet you beam when it appears from the dryer. I think your adoration of this dress shows a great deal about your heart. You will nurture and treasure those you meet who are a little less sparkly than others, you inspire me to see the world with better eyes.

Your favorite movie character is Jesse from Toy Story, because, “She is really silly!” I hope you never lose your silly.

Bugs really bother you. Dirt does not.

You really  do not like your face to get wet!

You call your friends your “kids.”

Recently you have become afraid of the dark.

I can’t get enough of the sound of you giggling with your sister as it makes its way through the house. I have never heard a noise more beautiful. I hope I never forget it.

You are my treasure. Too big for a box, but perfect for hugging so tight. Thank you for letting me squeeze you as long as I like. Fuel for my soul.

I love you very much, Mae.

DEAR RAE

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Dear [toddler] Rae,

Two weeks ago you slept for what seemed like three days straight in your cocoon of a crib. You emerged thinner, sporting more chiseled facial features, miraculously less hungry, more understanding, and somehow more independent.

What a strange feeling it is to no longer be a mama to a baby. It is true that, even when you are 78, you will still be my baby, but I can’t help but feel a smidge less needed.

Your hands are getting strong and firm. You are losing your delicious knuckle dimples. In return you have developed a hand holding strength that melts my heart to mush. A fair trade I will happily accept.

You say words, Amelia! Words! You say just about every word with an echo, and I can’t help but chuckle.

“Bir bir!” – Bird – your favorite animal right now.

“Buh buh”- (Penelope)

“Hu hu” – Hot hot, for the stove.

“DUMMMMM – DOH!!!” (Dumbo)

“Pur pur” –Purple

“Beh beh” – Baby

“Maaaaaay – buuuuul” – Maple

I have a feeling you will develop a southern accent like you sister. It would seem Mama’s old accent comes out when I raise my voice. This would mean I need to yell less, oops. I find very few things to be cuter than a little lady with a southern drawl. Maybe I’ll just stick to yelling sweet things, and softly say things like the ever occurring, “Amelia don’t eat out of the trash can!!” or “Don’t draw on your sister!”

You will now snuggle for a solid ten seconds before wiggling out of my grasp! This is an increase of at least five seconds. You have also improved your kisses!! They are strong, abundant, and perfectly puckered.

You still rip pages in books. Your favorite books are Penelope’s Bible and her devotional book – also her favorites. She cries every time you posses them. You tear a page every time you posses them.

You go to the potty and place the seat on correctly when you have to go, and this house rarely sees a wet diaper. You amaze me.

You now have regular chores. Everyday you unload your dishes from the dish washer, help pick up toys, and wipe the table. Such a big helper!

Your favorite game to play with Penelope is “Who can scream the loudest?” it is always followed by from-the-gut-giggles. The best kind.

Penelope enjoys creating, building, and collecting. You enjoying destroying it. All of it.

Grandma Penny says you are not a stinker, but for the record – you’re a stinker.

My favorite stinker.

I adore you Miss Rae,

Mama

DEAR MAE & RAE

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Penelope, you wake up every morning at 7:00 sharp. You walk into our room, snuggle for a bit, then walk back to the kitchen and grab a pouch of fruit snacks. You take it back to your room, and crawl into Amelia’s crib. From there you giggle, talk to one another, and share that pouch of fruit snacks. I sometimes sneak out of bed, just to sit outside your room and listen to your ‘conversations’ and giggles. No better way to start my day than with snuggles and an ear full of giggles from the two of you!

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You dance to every song that flows through the room. Every little tune. You both have some of the smoothest moves I’ve ever seen.

Penelope, you sing along to every song. You try so hard to get the words right. You have such a precious voice. My heart aches at its beauty. At its innocence. Amelia has begun to follow your example. She loves you so much. Her words are gobbledy-gook right now, but she holds a tune so well. You encourage each other. Love without judgment. Love at its purest.

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The Lord has blessed us greatly with the beautiful souls he has given you both. We love you more than I could ever put into words. I try, but the emotions and the raw moments of peace watching the two of you each day cannot be written down. I pray someday you will know this feeling.

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There will be a day when you won’t have me to turn to anymore. I know, God willing, you will have each other. You will hold the advice of the other up high. You will have your own special embrace. An embrace that lingers a bit longer than the rest.

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You would follow each other anywhere. You console each other. You make each other laugh. You frustrate each other on occasion. You pick out socks together. You snuggle and read together. Penelope enjoys her cereal in a bowl, Amelia prefers hers in a puddle on the floor. Penelope dances like a ballerina, Amelia dances like a cowboy. You don’t notice the differences. I like that about you. Whether you grow up to enjoy the same things, or have completely different personalities, I know you will love each other. You will be inseparable.

I love you.

Mama.

DEAR MAE

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Dear Mae,

You have become a storyteller. Your enthusiastic imagination tells of monsters in the garden who will join us for snack time, and snakes who take naps on the porch after eating apples. Dining room tables turn into caves, and little girls into bears. [Creativity you undoubtedly got from your daddy.] I could watch you tell a story for hours. You use every limb and facial expression. Your stories fill me with joy and I find it hard to stop smiling, well after the story is over.

An inch taller than you were on your birthday, you are almost to big to carry. Thankfully, you haven’t outgrown the ability to enjoy a good cuddle!

You are seasoned in the art of dance, and I envy your skills. You can shimmy and shake with the best of ‘em, P. Twirling, jumping, bouncing, frolicking, clapping, and swaying – you are a joy to watch. You have also begun singing! I have looked forward to this milestone for so long! You sing to every song you hear. You know which songs you like, and make sure to let us know not to change your ‘favorite’ song. (side note to future P, every song is your favorite song)

You are learning to write your alphabet, and are a whiz at it. I thought I would be pulling my hair out at the task of teaching the concept of letters and writing to a three year old, but you have been kind to your Mama!

Thanks for letting me snuggle with you at nap time, and kiss your perty face as much as I want!

I’d follow you anywhere my love.

Mama

DEAR RAE

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Dear Rae,

Sunday afternoon I had to wake you up from what had become a five hour nap. It took a lot of work on my part to get you to wake up. You looked so big spread out in your little cubical. I should have left you in this peaceful state, but Daddy had you in the morning so I could sleep in and I had yet to see you. I missed you.

You may ask, as you look back on this, “Why did I sleep with so many blankets?” I won’t have an answer for you, and I have no idea how they manage to rest with you in your crib every afternoon.

For the past two months you have been sucking on your blanket as a way of helping you fall asleep. Teething has not been kind to you. At the moment you have three molars coming in. Selfishly, I grin at this. You want to snuggle all day when your teeth are about to break through your swollen, white gums. I love being your safe place. Your 5ml of Tylenol. Yes, even your Kleenex. I would bear the pain for you if I could.

Another sign that you are growing is the bowl of yogurt, two eggs, one banana, two oranges, five and half prunes, and 43 cheerios you devoured for breakfast this morning.

2T clothing is becoming a thing of the past for our household. I am grateful you are healthy, smart, and able. You make me happy, Rae.

As I type this, you are on your third hour of sleep. It is 1:24 and I miss you. The house is too quiet.

Wake up soon, okay?

I love you,

Mama

DEAR RAE

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Dear Rae,

You are 15 months old now. You have gained inches and lost pounds in the last few months. You have learned that screaming for what you want will get you nowhere and kisses get you everywhere. Kisses help everything and I am so glad this is the month you’ve figured that out. I received twelve in a row yesterday! Twelve!!

You have a new found interest in sunglasses. I am thrilled and even more eager for spring, when we have reason to wear them!

Every morning we wake up to the sound of you singing. Your Daddy and I adore this wake-up call, however, most days I think Penelope wishes you wouldn’t sing quite so loudly.

Your habits of moving everything in the house to a new far off, sometimes secret location drive me nuts, but you are nothing short of perfect. I would tell you to ignore what Mommy says when she is cranky and flat out tired of putting your mess away, but you seem to have ignoring me under control.

You still have trouble differentiating toys / small trash from food. Keeping me on my toes, for sure. Feel free to out grow this at any time. How about today?

When you happen upon your sister after going five minutes without seeing her face you literally scream for joy! Most mornings you breeze right past me, grab your coat and sunglasses, then wait by the door in the hopes Daddy will take you to work with him. Every time my rump hits the floor you sprint over to me, give me a big bear hug, turn around and sit on my lap so we can snuggle. I am inspired by your enthusiasm for the people you love.

Anytime you see your daddy or I grabbing food to cook you begin crying in the hopes that we will feed you. You continue crying until food is in your mouth, even if it takes forty minutes for us to get supper on the table. You did not inherit my lungs. However, you did inherit my monkey hair, which looks adorable on you. 😉

At this point in your life you are called by many names in a day – Amelia, Mia, Trouble, Stinker, Mila, “Uugggghhhhh!” and Raaaaaaae!!!! I am sure you will out grow most of these. Which is your favorite? I prefer Amelia, obviously, but I can’t help but smile at the nicknames you’ve acquired.

We love you little nugget, (Oh, look! Another one!)

Mama

DEAR MAE

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My beautiful baby,

You steal my heart daily. I yearn for your delicate voice when we are apart. The gentleness you carry about you is inspiring, the way you seem to flutter and float from place to place, never raising your voice except when you are joyful. Going the extra mile to say “Yes you may,” when most would’ve simply said yes. Nothing but love is in your soul. I pray you will carry that with you as you grow.

You have been taking Amelia under your wing lately. You are eager to show her the ropes of being a big girl. You and you alone have taught her how to color, how to build a proper Lego castle, and, most recently, how to do simple chores. Curiously, your chores…

You are a great sister P.

Your favorite thing lately is Maple. She is your happy place. I love finding that you have locked yourself in the laundry room with her, just to watch her sleep. Your heart is huge and growing by the minute. I pray someday God will bless you with children of your own in whatever form He sees fit. You have so much love to give. Never bottle it up. I’ve seen how brightly you can shine. How raw your love can be. Share it. Share it without bias.

Ninety-nine percent of your clothes are way too small for you now. When did you sneak a growth spurt past us? Your dresses are now shirts. Your pants are now capris. They only make you look that much bigger.

I love you so much.

You dance as though you feel the music in your soul. Oh how I wish I could feel that freedom.

You began singing this week. Television theme songs, songs as they appear in your favorite princess movies, even Kirk Franklin’s soulful music – loud, proud and with your eyes shut so tight. No doubt in my mind that the Lord feels your passion, my love. You make up your own songs and sing books instead of ‘reading’ them (This I believe is Daddy’s doing!)

Lately you have been asking for board games and hot chocolate with marshmallows. I would give you the moon, Mae. You need only ask.

We will no doubt fight in the future. Probably a lot. None of it matters P. Not really. You are loved with the fiercest undying passion. Never forget this. This is what matters. This is as true as the Lord Himself. As much as I could ever love you, He loves you so much more.

When you need advice, sweet girl, go to Him first. He will have any answer you seek. I will always be here for comfort in your times of need. A shoulder to cry on. A bear hug will always be waiting. I will always have time to snuggle, even when you are fifty-seven and suddenly and desperately need your Mommy.

You will have best friends in your life. I’d like you to know, should you ever find yourself without one, I’ll be here. Never judging only loving you with everything I’ve got.

Oh my shiny Penny,

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

DEAR RAE

January_5

My darling teething Rae,

I suppose I should start this letter / / update by telling future Rae about your teething experience. The Lord has been kind enough to cover my ears, and calm my frustrations so that I may remember that you are but a wee lady in the swarm of screams and tears. Helpless beauty. Your pain makes me feel helpless. So helpless. He reminds me to take advantage of these times when snuggling cures all ailments. He has certainly heard many a thank you for the invention of teething tablets, and will sure hear plenty more by the time this feat is over. This is my first experience with painful teething as a parent. We’ll get through this together Rae. No doubt bloody, sweaty, and crawling to the finish line, but Lord willing, we can do it!

You make a classic ordinary game of peek-a-boo an e x t r e m e game of peek-a-boo. No doubt your favorite past time. You tuck your self as far as you can behind the fridge or the behind a wall and then lunge yourself into view squealing “Dun nun nah” to the tune of “There she is!” 

Your go-to dance move used to be bobbing up and down whilst swaying your arms. Yesterday you improved upon that masterpiece. You now walk about in a circle or, my personal favorite, a sort of march. You march to the beat (bravo for that, white girl!) in a straight line, swiftly turn about face and march back to point A. You b e a m when you dance. You push the limits of how much smile your tiny face can hold. Never hide that smile.

You have discovered a new laugh, which you put on repeat as if trying to perfect it. I do have to say, I am more fond of this giggle, much easier on the ears than your high-pitched scream that usually indicates you are experiencing a moment of joy.

You have begun saying words!! Sort of. 😉

bah bah / / dadda : : Bye Bye (while waving)

mah mah : : Mommy

mamamamamama…. : : Grandma

dah : : Maple (I believe this is really you saying ‘that thing’, referring to Maple)

dadda : : Daddy

duh dun :  : Thank you (said to the tune of thank you)

mo mo : : more (you wave both hands frantically for this, and I only hear you say it for food)

I am often busy doing dishes or cleaning up baby tornado aftermath. For this I am sorry. Sunday you and I, just you and I, played in your new room exploring old toys as new ones. You tried hats on me, I tried necklaces on you. You filled with glee as I rocked you on your plastic pony. We cooked a pot of plastic pineapple, an egg and a wooden puzzle piece. It was delicious. Lets do that again soon, okay?

I love you sweet baby girl,

Mama

DEAR MAE & RAE

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Dear Darling Beauties,

Oh how you fill my heart. Nothing brightens my day faster than watching the two of you talking amongst one another, playing softly in the distance, or playing a game of follow the leader, your giggles filling every nook of our home.

Penelope, you hug your sister’s neck so very tight. The tighter the hug the more love it holds, right? I get it. However, Amelia does not.

I love the way you adore her.

Amelia, you will follow your sister to the ends of the earth without any hesitation. She is without a doubt your favorite person.

You are bold. You hold nothing back. You make your feelings known, good or bad. You melt our hearts with a flash of your smile, and lucky for us, you smile at just about everything.

I can tell already, the two of you will be a force to be reckoned with. An unbreakable bond will keep you two together through whatever life throws at you. You are forgiving of one another.

When Amelia gives you an open mouth kiss, Penelope, you take it with a giggle. When you see that Mia doesn’t have a toy, you offer up your favorite.

I love you two with such a fierce undying love. I am tempted to wake you up from a nap, as I often do, I miss you so much. I long to hold you.

You are more than welcome to grow taller and grow older, but please never outgrow each other.

Oh, and Amelia, please stop throwing food on the floor.

Love, Mama.

DEAR RAE: : BIRTHDAY EDITION!

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Dear sweet Miss Rae,

Tomorrow you are turning one.  I know, oh how I know, I will blink and you will be sixteen, I’ll blink again and we will be celebrating your fiftieth. Those days will mean so so much to your Daddy and I. An arrow (of joy!) piercing our hearts just as sharply as it does today.

This particular milestone of yours is special in its own way.

We lost Jack two years and one month from this very day.  I can’t help but to see Jack in you. I wonder, as I watch you play, how much the two of you are alike. I know the Lord has a plan. How blessed we are to know you are in ours.

We will have our time with Jack. Time that was not meant to be spent here. I don’t know what we would do without you. You are part of my soul. I hope and plea with the Lord that I will cherish you properly each day and let you know your worth.

You are my heart. You know how to make me feel as though I can conquer the world with just a glance. Just a grin. Just a simple nuzzle.

You are significant.

You are a tease, making sure only to acknowledge Mama’s neck bending attempts to get even the teensiest of smooches from you. When you do decide to humor my pleas, you plant big open mouth kisses right on my lips, stretch an enormous grin upon your face, and close your performance with a round of applause for yourself.

I pray someday you will see yourself as I see you.

You are loved Rae. Loved with the deepest, heaviest love my human heart can offer. You and Penelope p u s h me to break the boundaries of this love each day.

You have wind in your sails.

You will surely be a force to be reckoned with.

You are a mover and a shaker.

You are a one woman stampede.

You are a snuggle monster for a mere 2.7 seconds at a time. [I’ll take it.] For that 2.7 seconds you give it your all. Nuzzles, squeezie hugs, back pats, all sprinkled with a softly spoken, “Mama.”

We adore you Mia, Happy Birthday!