Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Letter to Ella

Dear Little-one,

Even though we've only been together for a few months now, I've already learned so much about you, my sweet child. For example, you are my little water-baby, and it shows in everything you do and are. You absolutely love taking baths and splashing in the water. Even when water splashes on your face, you just blink it away with your bright blue eyes and continue playing. Your favorite animals are tigers and hippos, which is fitting because tigers are the only big cats that enjoy swimming, and hippos are animals that spend most of their time submerged underwater. You fit right in with them, too: if you had a choice, you'd prefer to just stay in the water all day, splashing around and luxuriating in the tranquil buoyancy surrounding you. You soak up all of that tranquility and make it a part of yourself; you have such a soothing presence which just flows off of you in waves of peace and calm. You have the gift of quiet clarity, so whenever I hold you, I'm able to just slow down and reflect on the truly important things in my life: you and your sister and your daddy.

You're a relatively quiet baby with very simple pleasures: as long as you're being held and fed, you're happy. In fact, you would love nothing more than to be held all day long! This has caused me to wonder if your primary love language is Physical Touch. After all, when you cry, almost any physical contact works to calm you down. You like it when I stroke your face, but you love grabbing onto my finger and holding on while you drift off to sleep, as if you need tangible proof that I'm still there watching over you. You are, without a doubt, the most snuggly baby I've ever met, and I love picking you up and holding you close to my heart. I'm grateful that you're still exclusively nursing because I feel like it give me an excuse to just snuggle you several times a day, which I think strengthens our love-bond.

Because you're only a few months old, there are many things I don't know about you yet, but I'm looking forward to learning all of them. There are some things that I already know, though. For example, I know that I love you absolutely, and I know that you are a very special little girl. I'm thankful for your beautiful little spirit. I'm thankful for the blessing you are in my life. I'm thankful for your calming influence. I'm thankful that I get to be your Mommy. I'm thankful for YOU. Thank you for coming and making our family complete. You are my precious baby, and I love you so very much! Happy Thanksgiving, Little-one!

Love you forever,
Mommy

A Letter to Evie

Dear Evie-girl,

You are my sunshine! When I first chose that song for you, I didn't realize just how appropriate it was, but you are definitely a sun-baby. I finally realized just how much of your life is influenced by the sun. For example, your favorite colors are yellow and orange: very bright, sunny colors. Your favorite flowers are dandelions, which look like mini sunshines, and you love to pick them and put them behind your ears. Your favorite  animals are lions, particularly daddy lions, and with their tawny coloring and big manes, they can also be considered very sunny animals. And you fit right in with them, too. You look like a cute little baby lion with your big beautiful brown eyes and your tawny blonde hair that tends to fly all over the place. The way you chew on your favorite stuffed giraffe would make any lion proud! Also like your "kindred" lions, you would love nothing better than to play and lie out in the sun all day, soaking up its warmth and light. Fortunately, you've inherited your daddy's slightly darker complexion, so you never burn. And when you come back in, that light just radiates off of you in waves of joy and love. You make every day brighter, just by being in it!

Like the sun, the arts have always played a major role in who you are. Even when you were brand-new, you loved it when I would sing to you. Your favorite song was "I've Been Working on the Railroad," and it never failed to calm you down when you were upset. As you've grown, so has your love for music. You love humming along into a mouthpiece when Daddy plays his trombone. You love dancing whenever you hear a song on the radio. You love banging on the piano keys and singing along to your own special songs. I love singing songs to you and with you! Your new passion is art. You're a big fan of stickers, and you have such pride in your drawings, whether they be with pencil, crayon or marker. In fact, a couple of months ago, you defaced our couch with red Sharpie! You were so pleased to show me your artwork until you got into big trouble. Your daddy and I have very high hopes for your future, and we're excited to see how your love for music and/or art will play a part in it.

Because of the way that singing would calm you when nothing else would, I've often wondered if your primary love language is Words of Affirmation. You certainly picked up on language very quickly. You started babbling at a very young age, and once you started talking, you almost immediately transitioned into full sentences. Your vocabulary is actually many times larger than that of the average toddler your age, and your doctor has been impressed with how advanced your verbal skills are. I am so proud of you, and I try very hard to always be positive when I speak to you because I know how much words can either soothe or hurt you.

In addition to being very good at receiving love though words, you are also very good at demonstrating it in many ways. You are my little sweetheart, and I love how affectionate you are. In fact, you're one of my best friends; I love the time we spend talking, giggling, snuggling, and tickling. You are quite proficient in giving hugs and kisses, you are an expert at snuggling and tickle-fights, and when you say "I love you, Mommy," my heart just melts. Your smile lifts my spirits, and your giggle makes them soar. Evie-girl, you are so beautiful and perfect exactly as you are. I love you so much, in a way that you won't be able to understand until you have a baby of your very own someday. I am thankful for the blessing you are in my life. I'm thankful that I get to be your Mommy. I'm thankful for all of these little tiny things, along with so many more, that make up YOU. Thank you for being my firstborn baby, for making me a mother for the very first time. You've changed me so completely; you are an angel sent from heaven, and I love you so very much. Happy Thanksgiving, Evie-girl!

Love you forever,
Mommy

Family and Food

This year, it was my turn to spend Thanksgiving with my family, and I enjoyed every moment of it. We spent all weekend talking, laughing, eating, and playing. The girls were adorable, and I had so much fun showing them off!
A 4-generations shot of the ladies on my side of the family: My grandma, Elizabeth, me, my mom, and Evie.


My young cousin, Mavis, put her cute harvest headband on Elizabeth and the result was just too adorable to pass up!
The 3 littlest members of the family: Evie, Mavis, and Elizabeth.
My root family: my brother, my cousin, my mom, Todd, Elizabeth, my dad, me, Evie, and my sister.
The road trip to and from my family's place was horribly long, but totally worth it. I loved spending so much time with my family, people who get my own personal brand of crazy, and the food was amazing!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Evie Speaks

My last post, where I mentioned how Evie refers to herself and her sister, got me thinking about how much Evie talks now. She really has quite the vocabulary these days, upwards of  100 distinct words/phrases that I can understand, and I can understand about 85% of what she says in normal conversation. For example, Evie can identify by name all of her colors and shapes, and most of her body parts, foods, and people she knows, along with a variety of random words. Since the average toddler her age has a spoken vocabulary of about 25 words, this is really remarkable!
Of course, just because I understand what she's saying doesn't necessarily mean that others do. There are still some things that she says that are adorably incorrect, but I love hearing her sweet little mispronunciations, and a part of me hopes she never learns the right way to say them. I've compiled a short list of my very favorite "Evie-isms" below that I want to share.

A-nan-a-nef (Elizabeth)
Gunkle (Uncle John)
Uncle Sock (Uncle Scott)
Kaygagoo (kangaroo)
Llll (lion) (She does this by quickly flicking her tongue back and forth over her lips a couple of times)
Boo (bear) (I'm pretty sure this was derived from "Pooh Bear")
Car (car and/or star)
Bapple (apple and/or orange)
Pusketti (spaghetti)
Feem (cream)
Meek (music)
Fuhzee bankee (fuzzy blankie)
Sunsine (sunshine)
Pie-doh (diaper)
Buplok (burpcloth)
Washok (washcloth)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sisters

Evie is a fantastic big sister! Almost from the very beginning, she's been willing to welcome her little sister as well as someone her size can. While I was still pregnant with Ella, Evie would call my belly "Baby" and kiss it. When Elizabeth was born and Evie was brought to the hospital for the first time, she really had no idea what was going on. The next day, though, she climbed right up onto my bed and peered at her little sister. She was very curious about this new little person and kept beeping her nose and accidentally poking her eyes.
video
But once the novelty was slightly less fresh, she leaned over to give Ella a sweet little kiss. I'm so glad that Todd managed to catch in on camera before she moved away. I love this picture, and it is still my Facebook picture.
The next day, July 4th, we headed home from the hospital and were welcomed by a party thrown in Elizabeth's honor. Among all of the noise, I caught a few moments of quiet peace with my girls, and Todd took pictures of us.
Evie really adjusted well and quickly to having a new little baby in the house. I was really concerned about sibling rivalry, but I don't think Evie really feels jealous at the attention that her little sister gets. In fact, she likes to help me by bringing me burp cloths, pacifiers, and diapers, and by throwing things away for me. When she does want attention, she'll come up to me and say, "Baby down." Unless I'm feeding the baby at that moment, I put the baby down next to me so Evie can climb onto my lap with a book or just to snuggle. If I am feeding the baby, then Evie is usually content to snuggle next to my side so she can turn the pages while I read to her. Since they have to share a room right now, I was also worried about the girls waking each other up during the night and naps, but Evie is really good about sleeping through the night when Ella wakes up for dinner, and Ella is really good about sleeping soundly during her naps, despite Evie's naptime tantrums.
Right at first, Evie was not really comfortable holding the baby. I tried getting a few cute pictures of the girls together, so I propped Ella into Evie's lap. I got a couple of nice pictures, but then Evie said "All done!" and pushed the baby away.
Now, though, Evie LOVES holding her sister. She'll come up to me and say "Hold sister?" She knows that she has to sit down and put her arms out. Then, I put the baby on her lap and hold them both steady, and Evie just smiles down at Ella and says "Hi!" over and over. Lately, she prefers if I put Ella against her shoulder in a hug pose, and she puts her arms around her and pats her back, grinning the whole time. Then she gives her sister kisses on the head.

She's really good about cheering up the baby, too. If I have to go away for a moment, I tell Evie, "Hey, why don't you sing a song to Elizabeth?" and she immediately settles close by and starts singing sweet little songs to her little sister. She refers to herself as Evie and often refers to Ella as Sit-der (Sister). Lately, though, she's been working on both of their "big" names. She pronounces Evangeline as Een-ann-a-neen, and Elizabeth as A-nan-a-nef. I love hearing her walk around chattering about (and to) her sister, A-nan-a-nef, and I love that she always makes sure to kiss Elizabeth's head every night before bed.
The love doesn't only flow one way, either; every time Elizabeth looks at Evie, her whole face lights up in a giant smile. She knows who Evie is, and when we mention her "big sister," her eyes go straight to Evie's face. 
Even now, sometimes Todd and I hear them quietly chatting together after bedtime when they're supposed to be asleep, but it's so cute that we can't bring ourselves to go yell at them. Instead, we look at each other, and agree that once they can both talk, we're gonna be in trouble because we'll never be able to get them to sleep! The two of them are so sweet together, though, and I know they're already forging a friendship that will last their whole lives. It's what I was hoping for once we found out Elizabeth was a girl, and I'm so glad that my dream is coming true!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Costumes and Candy

Halloween this year was really pretty fun. It was Elizabeth's first Halloween and Evie's second, which meant that she was just old enough to really get into it all and have fun. First of all, we had our annual Trunk-or-Treat at the church parking lot:
Elizabeth wore Evie's ladybug costume from last year
Evie's first Halloween costume
Since Evie loves lions so much, I thought it would be really cute for her to go as a lion for Halloween. She really was the cutest lion I'd ever seen!
As for me, I wore the same thing I always wear: my old black choir dress and my black cape. Todd passed out the candy.
Yesterday, on the actual day of Halloween, I dressed Elizabeth in her "Baby's1st Halloween" onesie. She was not thrilled. In fact, she was cranky pretty much all day, so I guess it was a good thing I'd gotten some pictures of her a couple of days ago when we were trying the costume on her!
Evie, on the other hand, had picked up on our excitement. This is her playing a game with Todd that we call "Oof-oof."
video

We had bought a little pie pumpkin for Evie to decorate. I let her use my Sharpies and she had a blast coloring her pumpkin. Then, we glued huge "gooly eyes" on her pumpkin, and it was finished!
After Todd got home, we carved our family pumpkin, the first either of us had carved in years. I designed the face and Todd carved. It wasn't super original, but all in all, I don't think it turned out too badly.
Finally, it was time to meet up with family to go trick-or-treating. Evie was really cute, but got tongue-tied every time she was supposed to say "Trick or Treat!" She would just stare up at people with her huge eyes and wait for them to put the candy in her orange pumpkin bucket. She would politely say thank you, though! When we were almost done with our circuit, Elizabeth decided that she was starving, so I had to skip the last couple of houses and rush to John's so I could nurse her while everyone else finished up. Once Evie showed up, she crawled directly into the dog's kennel. She looked very cute as a lion in her cage!
My friend from work had invited us over to her place for a party, so we said our goodbyes to our family and headed over. We were an hour late, but it turned out that we hadn't missed too much, so we were able to sit around talking, munching on yummy snacks, and we ended up playing Band Hero. Evie was very interested in the microphone, but when I handed it to her, she got shy.
Elizabeth was either cranky or asleep for the majority of the day, but I think Evie had a really fun night. Everyone thought that both of the girls were absolutely adorable in their costumes, and I really have to agree! I'm looking forward to next year, when both girls can enjoy their night of costumes and candy!