Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dear Violet,

Okay, okay.  I know this is the paragraph where you're expecting me to go on and on with excuses for why I've gone FOUR months without writing... but instead I'll just skip to where I talk about what all we've been doing!

Your little brother (who'll be named Archer William) will be here ANY DAY NOW.  It's surreal to think about how quickly the time has come, yet I'm so ready!  If he were born as far away from his due date as you were, he would've been here already!  I think that's why I'm forcing myself to sit down and write because I want to update this before he gets here, so when he comes I can talk about that and not feel like I'm leaving any time out.  I don't even know where to begin!

You'll be turning 2 in about a week and a half, and lately you've been DEFINITELY acting like a 2 year old!  I recall the post about how well you do with time-out and how mature you are about punishment... well, that's all changed!  You've started to stare me down with a mischievous grin as you blatantly disobey me.  You're still sweet as can be, but you sure have your independent streak.  I was assuming it would happen sooner or later!

Along with your independent streak, you have the MOST POLITE MANNERS of any 2 year old I've ever met!  You say "Thanks" after everything anyone does for you, even if you're upset!  It absolutely melts me when you're throwing a fit and I offer you milk in your sippy cup to help soothe you, and you say through your tears "thanks mommy."  Ugh, it's so cute!!!  You also say "excuse me," and "yes sir."  I have no idea where you learned to say "yes sir," you don't say "yes ma'am," but neither phrase is something I've taught you, or say often at all!  Also, you say "please" all the time too.  Well, it's more "peas," but that makes it even cuter.  I've taught you general manners and have suggested you say please or thank you a few times, but it's not something I've ever really pushed on you, you've just picked it up and have just completely turned yourself into Little Miss Polite!  It makes me very proud.  Your language is also fantastic.  You're saying a few sentences in a row, properly, such as "No, Avery.  That's mine."   Which is a pretty common phrase these days!  You say the funniest things, and you're starting to say phrases that I can't think of where you'd have picked them up, which has been SO fun.

Here's a 10 minute video of a great example of how well you talk:

You've been going through quite a picky eating stage, but luckily you're starting to snap out of it.  It's really tough to keep trying to get you to eat well, and to eat interesting foods, because it's SO FRUSTRATING to waste food that you refuse to eat... especially when I have such little energy to cook to begin with!  I did the best I could with chopping/grating/pureeing veggies to stick in your mac n' cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches (mostly squash, spinach and peas).  You still LOVE peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and I make those with whole grain wheat bread, peanut butter with no corn syrup, sprinkled with flax seeds, and I use Nana's homemade strawberry jam (just berries, pectin and truvia), so it's at least the best kind of PB&J you'll find!  You're starting to eat carrots and broccoli again, which is such a relief!  You're still a yogurt fanatic, and that's fine with me- greek yogurt is so good for you.  You eat lots (and lots and lots) of oatmeal for breakfast, to which I add yogurt, soy milk, fruit and flax seed.  I also want to hug the inventor of the gummy vitamin, because it helps put my mind at ease with what you may be lacking, because you never forget to ask for your vitamin!  It's so cute.  I do fear that you don't get enough iron though, because you STILL don't eat much meat.  I don't want to push meat on you, but I need to try harder to make sure you're getting enough iron.  When you tell me you're tired (which I now think really just means "bored") I panic, thinking you must be iron deficient!

You're going to Mothers' Day Out now, and you're doing so well with it.  It took you a few weeks to get the hang of it, and that first day was tough for both of us.  It took me an hour to leave!  You like it now, though, and I'm glad you're making friends and interacting with other kids and learning to share, etc.  It's been so good for both of us to have a little break from each other!  I've been able to get on a good work flow too.  I take my computer and work downtown at a coffee shop, not too long from where you are.  It helps to stay away from the house so I don't come up with excuses for why I can't work on photos, because the house needs cleaning, etc.

So, I have to admit that the paci situation went from you doing SO WELL and ONLY having it when you were in your crib.... to you being back addicted to it 24 hours a day.  It's my fault really.  You and I went to Dallas to visit Mimi and Aunt Amanda for a few days, and I gave it to you in the car so you'd do well on the drive down there (which worked miraculously well- you slept half the time and then sucked on that paci with a smile on your face the other half of the trip!), and then there were times on the trip you were clearly homesick, so I gave in and gave it to you a few other times... then as soon as we got home, you caught a really nasty sinus infection (which you then gave to me- MAN that was a miserable 10 days!!).  The paci was one of the only ways to soothe you when you were feeling terrible, and it made me so sad to see you so sick and unhappy, so you got it some more... well, it eventually just became habit again, for both of us.  I regret giving in and giving it back to you!!!  It was perfect timing when we initially went through the weaning of it, and now it's going to be so hard because Archer's going to be here and you'll be freaking out with all the changes going on and I'll feel too guilty to take away something that soothes you... ugh.  I messed up!  Oh well, as some have assured me, you won't take it to kindergarten with you.  It does restrict your language though!  I'll give it another go as soon as things get settled in with Archer.  Don't you worry, we'll get you off that thing soon enough!  Your face is too pretty and your mouth has too much to say to let that thing get in your way!

You still sleep in your crib.  That milestone will NOT be reversed.  Especially with a newborn on the way!  You won't creep back in our bed ever again (not to say you won't be welcome on a stormy night or after a nightmare... I'm referring to on a regular basis).  However, the other night you practically broke my heart in 134,230 pieces.  For some strange reason you were NOT staying asleep, and you kept waking up crying, and not wanting us to put you back down.  It was almost 10:30 at night, and you knew we were both right there in the house with you, yet you were crying so pathetically "Mommy's all gone!  Daddy's all gone!"  Ugh, it ripped me apart!!  I went in there and explained that we were right there, but you kept doing it.  I know you were saying it because you're smart enough to know that it would bring us in there... and it worked.  You eventually went to sleep for the night, but it was a frustrating few hours!  You still wake up once or twice and just need a hug and your paci back in your mouth and you fall right back asleep.  I usually do it, but when Archer gets here, your daddy's got that job!  

Being pregnant has absolutely taken a toll on my feelings as "supermom," the title which I'd bestowed on myself when you were born...  there have been plenty of days that I have not earned any mommy points, and I feel guilty for that.  I don't feel like you resent me though, so I think I can move on and accept that I won't always be able to give you 100% and you'll still love me.  My morning sickness was awful and traumatic and something that will probably ensure that this will be your only sibling, and being huge pregnant in the summertime will probably be the other factor that will determine our "2 kid max" status!  We didn't seem to get much of a Spring this year, so aside from a few fantastic picnics and days at the zoo, we've been huddled inside in front of a fan for what seems like months now!  The heat doesn't seem to bother you too bad, so I try to spray us down with bug spray and let you play in the back yard for a while, but the zoo is just out of the question with my condition!  Even with my gigantic belly, you still demand me carry you 73% of the time, and I can't say no, because I feel like we don't have much time as "just us girls," and I'm trying to soak it all up.  I've been snuggling you so tight lately!  The other night was quite emotional.   I was rocking you to sleep in Archer's room, singing you ABC's (over and over and over, as you demanded), and you fell asleep with one arm clinging tightly to my neck (the other was crammed in your belly button, naturally).  You were laying on my chest, hovering over my belly, and I just couldn't bring myself to put you down!  It was such a calm, sweet, quiet time and I was imagining hearing a newborn crying for some milk in the other room in a few short days!  I'm probably damning myself for giving you SO much extra attention now, trying to soak it up as much as I can, because then it'll be more of a shock for you to lose some of it when he gets here!  Parenting is PACKED FULL of tough decisions, both big and small!!

I am so so so excited about Archer, and I'm looking forward to having two kids- especially being able to experience raising a boy and a girl, and I have NO DOUBT that I will love him to itty bitty pieces just as I love you... but it is an emotional time, knowing that our relationship won't ever be the same again.  You've been my trusty little sidekick for 2 years now, and I've been able to give you EVERYTHING I have.  When I really think about it, I know siblings are better for you in the long run...  you'll be much more satisfied playing with Archer in a few years than you will be playing with me.  I know that.  I know you'll grow up to be a reasonable, well-adjusted person, who knows how to share and work as a team because you'll have had a sibling to help instill that in you.  I know that Archer's going to make us all laugh and make us all proud, and our family will feel complete with him in it.  But the emotional, hormonal, only-child-having part of me is grieving a little bit right now for the attention you'll surely not get in the future because of our decision to have another kid.  Yes, I know these are irrational thoughts that will INSTANTLY go away the MOMENT I see that little stinker's face, and that's why I feel comfortable letting these thoughts out.  I know they're just thoughts that are leading up to his arrival, and that they will go away.

I know I'm probably missing so so so many things that I want to share with you, but I'm drawing a blank tonight.  You have MDO tomorrow, so I'll try to remember more little stories and post again then, and I'll include some photos on that one as well.

Love you so so so so so much, my amazing beautiful genius of a daughter,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear Violet,

Well, Violet, we did it.  We survived our first multi-day span apart.  You shocked me with how well you did.  I knew we'd all survive, but I had my doubts about a few things.

Your dad and I went to Riviera Maya, Mexico because I was shooting his cousin Summer's wedding there (and of course, being that it was at a luxury resort on the beach, I needed him to come along to be my 'assistant').  We left early early Thursday morning and got back in town late Sunday night.  This was by far longer than the 24 hour max we've been apart so far.  You spent the first 2 days with Amy, and all the nights and the last 2 days with Nana (and half the day Sunday with Catherine while Nana and Papa ran the LR Half Marathon).  I was worried about 1) The initial goodbye, because it was early and we were carrying bags, so I was worried you might think we were leaving forever, and you were with Amy, whom you adore, but again, it was early and it's not your routine, 2) Napping during the day.  You're ALWAYS at home when you nap, so I was worried you wouldn't ever be able to feel comfortable enough at Amy's to go to sleep, 3) Going from Nana to Amy on Friday morning, because it was a whole day without us and I thought you might start freaking out at this point, 4) Going from Nana to Catherine on Sunday morning because it had been several days without us and I figured you'd be really starting to wonder if we'd left you forever.  However, none of these worries were worth anything.  According to your caretakers, you did absolutely fine.  More than fine, great!  You've been asking for all your friends since we've been home!  Well, asking for your friends and cake, because apparently aunt Sarah made the best cupcakes you've ever had and you couldn't get enough of them!  I had to ask my mom if she fed you cake because the first 2 days you were home, you kept saying "Cake?  Cake!  Nummy nummy nummy.  Cake!"  Nana said you threw quite a dramatic fit when she tried to stop you from inhaling several mini cupcakes.  That's my girl...

Your dad and I had such a wonderful, relaxing time on the beach.  I'll remember it forever.  It was a beautiful wedding, and Mimi and Pawpaw were there too and we got some really nice visiting time with them.  It was quite a special trip.  Your dad is already planning our next beach getaway.  Haha!

I'm now over halfway done with being pregnant with your brother, and the horrific 3+ month long morning sickness is finally over!  It went away JUST in time for our trip.  He was mean!  I was incredibly ill for 3 solid months, from about 4 weeks to about 17 weeks.  With you it was from about 9 weeks to 17 weeks, so he'd better be at least as cute as you to make up for it.  Hahah!  Along with the horrific morning sickness, he also gave us a good scare this past month too (another reason the relaxing trip was perfect timing).  At our ultrasound when we found out his gender, they didn't mention anything was wrong with any of the photos or images they saw, but 2 days later I got a call from Dr. Hubach saying that they did see a few things wrong with his kidneys.  She said the left one was incorrectly positioned, still in the pelvis and had fluid around it.  The right one appeared swollen.  We scheduled a level 2 ultrasound for the following week, and that entire week I was wondering how old he'd have to be for me to give him my kidney, and spent countless hours worrying over google search after google search on "ectopic kidneys," which is the term to describe a kidney that failed to ascend into the right position near the spine.  The only thing that was certain was that the left kidney was definitely not where it was supposed to be.  Fluid can sometimes appear dangerous in one ultrasound and upon further inspection be concluded to be perfectly normal, and the right kidney appearing swollen could've been just the moment in time the image was captured as well.  But there was no doubt that there was not a kidney where a left kidney should be.  This scared me.  If his left kidney was blocking anything in the urinary tract or tangled in somewhere it shouldn't be, we would be facing some tough decisions on what options we'd have.  At the level 2 ultrasound, I was so incredibly relieved to discover that the right kidney was perfectly normal and functioning properly.  The left kidney, as it turns out, is not even able to be technically considered a "kidney" at this point, because it never developed enough to function as a kidney.  It's called a displastic kidney.  At this point, it doesn't appear to be blocking anything- the bladder is getting everything it needs, and the right kidney is filtering everything successfully.  So baby boy will be born with only one kidney.  Pawpaw has lived perfectly fine for over 20 years with one kidney, as he courageously, selflessly and lovingly gave it to his brother when they were in their 20's.  Your uncle Devin's brother also lives with one kidney after surviving cancer as a toddler.  Living with one kidney is obviously not something I'd choose for anyone, but it's something that we will absolutely be capable of handling successfully.  There are soooooo very many things that a mother worries about with her babies, and I literally feel as if I won the lottery with how healthy you are, and even with baby boy's kidney, he will be ridiculously beautiful and healthy as well.  We have so much to feel fortunate about, and I'm at peace with the situation.  We'll have to wait until he's born to discover whether or not we'll have to remove the displastic kidney, because if there is no pain, discomfort or infections caused by the organ, there's no need to risk surgery.  Everything else about him appeared perfect, and believe me, after 4+ hours of searching every centimeter of his little body through every kind of ultrasound you can think of, I trust that's the case!  I go back in a few weeks to confirm that everything is still functioning well, and I look forward to seeing his little profile again.  I pulled out your ultrasound photos the other day and compared it to his, and so far you two look IDENTICAL.  Sure, it's a black and white ultrasound profile, but the lips and cute little button nose are shared by you both.  It's going to be such a joy to meet him, and watch YOU meet him!!!

Yesterday we began our journey towards non-pacifier status...  and so far so good!!  You have been QUITE attached to that paci since about 5 months old ("attached" doesn't even accurately describe it), so I've been nervous for this moment.  I want to try to get rid of it before your brother gets here, or I fear I'll miss the boat for a while, and I don't want anything happening to those pretty teeth of yours.  I'd hate to take away something that soothes you right as something so new enters your life and you need it the most!  This way you'll have had time to figure out other ways to soothe yourself (I guess I can't take away your belly button, and you still have that!).  I've let you have it at naptime and bedtime, and that's it.  There have been a few restless moments where you've asked for it, but you've been fairly easy to distract (mostly with pretzels, Emma and books).  I'm going to give it about a week for you to adjust to paci-time only when you sleep, and then we'll work on going to sleep without the paci.  THAT will be the ultimate test.  I'm very afraid.  I know you though, and I'm certain you'll surprise me as you always do.

Bye bye, paci!

I love you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dear Violet,

In my "update" post I mentioned that there was something else that happened in November, but I wanted to save it for another post.  I wanted to devote a whole post to telling you my feelings about finding out that you were going to become a big sister!!  We definitely planned on getting pregnant again, but not until a year or so from now.  Well, planning doesn't always work out... and sometimes it's for the best that way.

My initial feelings were strange, and I'm hoping that I'm not the only one who feels this way about their second pregnancy.  I wanted to write it down because I don't want to forget such a big transition in thought!

I had a sneaking suspicion that I might be pregnant, but assumed I was just being paranoid.  I had a pregnancy test in the bathroom closet, so I decided to take it while Dad was at work to just put my mind at ease one way or another.  When it didn't immediately show a line (as it happened with you), I breathed a sigh of relief, but then I looked closer, and I saw a very faint line.  It was definitely a line, although faint.  I got lightheaded and just sat there for quite a while.  I really didn't know what to think.  I wasn't expecting it.  I wasn't upset, but I wasn't giddy or excited really.  It was just so shocking.  You are still so little and require so much, and although when I did the math and figured you'd be exactly 2 years apart, and that's a very common difference for siblings, it just felt too soon for me!  It was only a few months since I'd weened you from breastfeeding!  I didn't know how to tell your dad.  I knew he wasn't expecting it either.  I was expecting to reveal my next pregnancy to him in an exciting, "surprise!" way, but it didn't feel right to do it that way, because I wasn't sure how I felt about it yet.  I decided to pretty much just blurt it out while in BabyGap about 2 days later.  He was shocked, and wished that I wouldn't have told him in public!  Ha!  My announcements to my friends were also a bit "Uh, by the way, I'm pregnant" rather than "I'm pregnant again!  Yay!"  I felt bad that I didn't feel so excited, and wasn't sure why I felt this way.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what I was feeling was possessiveness over you and our time together.  It was almost like this "new baby" was going to prevent me from giving you all my attention, which is what I'm used to, and what I cherish.  I felt like I wasn't going to be able to be there for you the way I needed to be with another baby.  This baby was going to ruin our relationship!  I know it's usually the sibling who feels this way, but it was ME that was feeling this way!

.....THEN I realized how utterly silly and naive that sounded to say out loud, even to only myself.  This "baby" that was going to "get in between you and I" was MY baby, just like YOU are my baby!!  I'm going to feel the same way about this child as I do you.  It's embarrassing to even type that I felt that way (how immature)!  My mom told me that when you have more than one child, your love doesn't split in two, it doubles, and it really hit me that it's just SO HARD to imagine loving someone as much as I love you, and that's what was making it hard to deal with.  I was worried that I wasn't going to like this kid as much as you!

Well, I'm now almost 19 weeks along, and I've been feeling the baby kick for a few weeks now, and we got our ultrasound this morning and found out that this little baby in my belly is a little brother for you!!!  Feeling him kick really helped me start to "bond" with him and feel those feelings of pride and love for the new life growing inside me.  Seeing him swim around on the screen and finding out he's a little boy was nothing short of spectacular.  It wasn't any less emotional than when I saw you swimming around on the screen, and that was such a relief!  I was worried that the moments I remember most about your pregnancy and birth wouldn't be as special the second time, but so far I have no reason to worry.  I didn't have a preference either way on the sex, but when she announced "this is a little boy!" I just burst into happy tears that wouldn't stop flowing.  I couldn't stop smiling, and felt so happy to be his mother.  I can't wait to meet him, and I no longer feel that our relationship will be compromised.  :)  I know you're going to love him, and I look forward to watching you two grow up together.  The thing I'm most looking forward to right now is hearing you two talk to each other as very young kids when you don't know I'm listening.  The things your cousins have said that your aunts have heard just keep me laughing constantly!  It's going to be life changing and amazing to be the mother of you AND a little boy.

I promise that although yes, I won't be able to rock you to sleep EVERY night when he gets here, I will always, always love my sweet baby girl, and I'll do my best to never ever ever make either one of you feel left out.  It's an amazing feeling to feel this kind of love for 2 babies.  I thought it was absolutely impossible to hold more love in my heart than I did a few months ago... but I was wrong.  I can't wait to be the mother of TWO perfect babies, and experience all the joys and lessons we'll all learn together as a family.  My life feels much more complete now that your brother is in it.

I love you both!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dear Violet,

These past few months have been a whirlwind of excitement for your growing mind!  You've bursted out with talking so well lately, and have soaked up and enjoyed learning so many new things.  It's brought me unbelievable joy to watch you learn.  I had no idea how rewarding this part would be.

You were always ahead of the game (or right on track) with all your accomplishments (sitting up at 4 months, crawling at 7 months, walking at 10 months, etc.), and it's just kept going since you've turned one.  Once you decided to try repeating words after us, you just exploded into repeating everything (including the phrase "butt call" after Nana said it... it was pretty hilarious).  You made another breakthrough yesterday when you put your first independent thought together: "funny Nana."  It was the first time you put two words together completely on your own to communicate a thought.  It was so exciting!  And Nana was being funny!  You've also started "using your words" to tell me what you want, rather than just grunting, which is so beneficial to both of us!

Another smartie pants thing we've been working on lately- animals and their sounds.  You love love love Emma- she's your best friend, so I thought that would be a natural place to start, and you've absolutely blown me away with how fast you're learning!  You now can correctly point to several farm/zoo animals on a chart when asked (you still get cows and horses mixed up, but that's understandable- they do look alike), and we're working on their sounds.  You get "meow" every time, and your favorite is the lion's "roar!"  We have a membership to the zoo, which is so perfect because it's only a few blocks away so we can go at a moment's notice and not feel like we have to spend the whole day or see everything.  You've always enjoyed our trips there, but when we went this past Sunday (our first visit since our animal sounds activities), it was so much fun.  Rather than just going and getting energy out and having fun looking at generic "animals," you were enthralled in seeing the "monteys" (monkeys) and your eyes conveyed so clearly that you were connecting the dots with our 'lessons.'  Sundays are also a fun day to go to the zoo, because it seemed much more interactive than any other time we've been.  We got to go in the Lorikeet cage (what I thought were parrots), and they were landing on my shoulder and head, and you got such a kick out of seeing the birds, they were beautiful!  I was afraid you would maybe freak out about them being so close, but you didn't at all.  We also got to pet the elephants!  Three zookeepers stood in between the 2 elephants and let people come up and ask questions and pet them.  It was interesting for me too!  You sort of quickly "brushed" them more than actually petting, but you did like pointing to their ears and eyes.  We also got a really close look at one of the lions, because it was laying against the viewing glass!  We had fun "roaring" at it...

(These photos are from my phone, so they're not the best, but they work!)

Watching the orangutan sleeping.

The lion was a lot closer than this just a minute before...

Who's that adorable little girl???

I searched Youtube for an animal sounds kid video (to expand just using our books) to help you learn, and I stumbled on a channel called "KidsTV123," and I am so grateful I found it!  There are so many shows and videos for kids that are incredibly annoying and don't give kids enough credit, or are so busy and loud and high energy that it doesn't keep anyone's attention (I think some of them actually give kids ADD!  They give me a headache!).  These videos are educational but are also really nice songs to listen to (which is great for me, who has to listen to them all the time now).  You are OBSESSED with your "dame" you call it (I call a little toddler app on my phone your "game," so you call these videos that too). Every morning you run up and climb onto my chair saying "dame, dame, dame?"  These videos are about letters, numbers, colors, animals, etc, and a few songs like "5 Little Monkeys" (which is one of your very favorite things in your whole world) and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."  There's also "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," which is another one of your favorites, and you now know where your head, shoulders, knees and toes are (as well as the parts of your face, your belly button, and your booty- which you're pretty interested in pointing out to people...  "booty?"  as you grab your booty...  it's hilarious).  The songs are sung by a British guy (I think), and I'd liken his voice to Neil Diamond (not nearly his caliber, but it's similar in my opinion.... wait, you probably don't even know who Neil Diamond is right now... he's even a little before my time).

Let's see, what else can I brag about?  You're starting to want to feed yourself... to the point that you freak out (screaming and shaking!) if I try to help when you spill all your food all over your lap.  You definitely have an independent streak!  You love phones.  You have a few play phones and love to play with other peoples' real phones.  You walk around babbling with it on your shoulder like you're super busy...

You're starting to get interested in dressing yourself, although you still need my help for the most part.  You like to use a stool or one of your chairs to climb up to the sink to "wash your hands" and brush your teeth (or get into my salt box, or open and shut the microwave, or grab any and every thing you can get your hands on...).

You are the most affectionate little girl!  You give spontaneous hugs all the time, and they're spectacular.  You wrap your arms around my neck and squeeze with such passion!  If I could choose between the world's wealth and your hugs, I'd take your hugs every time.  You also give kisses, but not as often.  Most of your kisses are "paci kisses," with your paci still in your mouth.  You just lean in and press your paci against my lips...  it's pretty funny.  You think it counts.  You're really interested in shoes.  You put your, mine and daddy's shoes on and walk around the house, and most of the time when I find you've put on someone's shoes, they're on the right feet!  I refuse to believe it's a coincidence.  You also like us to wear shoes.  You'll bring me a pair of boots (right now you really like my boots) and whine and whine until I put them on.

I can't even think of a list of all your words, because you just repeat EVERYTHING we say, so it's past the list stage!  You even make up some of your own words that you like to say over and over around the house.  "Boodita" and "Beeta" are your two favorites right now.  I'm pretty sure you're just such a genius you're part speaking Spanish- when you say "boodita" you mean "small booty," and "Bitte" is German for "you're welcome!"  You even say the "t" with your tongue against your teeth like a German.  See how smart you are?  Well, okay, maybe you don't know Spanish and German (yet), but you are learning how to count to 10 in Italian!  

Another thing that we've been doing lately is "Time Out!"  No child can grow up without getting in trouble, and I knew you'd be no exception.  Growing up is about testing boundaries and learning what behaviors are acceptable... when you can react instinctively and freely and when you should restrain yourself and act unselfishly.  I respect that part of the process, so I see discipline as something that is actually positive (when done the right way, of course), because it will make you a better person for it, and you'll thank me later (hopefully...).  Right now, you are counting on me and daddy 100% to show you how to behave in this world, and I can't let you down, even if you try to make me.  True to your beautiful, smart nature, you almost seem to understand this process too, in a way.  When you're sent to Time Out, with exactly 2 exceptions (the first ever Time Out, and a particularly sassy evening), you sit in the chair the entire time until I give you permission to get up.  When you get up, you come give me a hug (I used to ask for it, but now you just know) and we talk again about why you went to Time Out.  You rarely cry or whine while you're in the chair, it's more of a "Eh, fair enough" look on your face.  It's so hard not to smile at you, but I have to keep my game face on!  We started Time Out around 15 or 16 months, and you already respond BEAUTIFULLY to the threat of it.  It's incredible.  I can tell you 4 times to put something down, and you completely ignore me, but as soon as I say, "either put that down, or go to Time Out," you immediately put it down.  I don't use the threat often for fear that it will stop working so well.  I also NEVER want to tell you you're "BAD," because that's not a label I ever want to put on my child.  You are good.  Every little tiny atom that makes up who you are is good.  Instead I say "Good girls don't (insert bad behavior description here), and you're a good girl, so you can't do that."  I haven't read this theory in any book or anything, I just don't feel comfortable putting that thought in your head, because I know too many adults who can't get that feeling out of their heads, and it's done some terrible things to them.  You have such potential, and I feel like my role is SO HUGE in seeing that you have the foundation to see that for yourself and to try your best to reach it.  I hope I don't blow it.  I know we'll both make mistakes along the way, but I hope you grow up knowing that every thing I do regarding raising you is out of love and respect.      

I Love You,

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dear Violet,

There are a few things that I hope you don't inherit (or pick up) from me.  Starting something and then slacking off on it is one of those traits that I do NOT like about myself.  Life has been busy lately, but that's no excuse to not write even a little bit in here for you!  It's been 3 months!  Well, I guess one of the traits I do like about myself is that I also have a "better late than never" attitude, and instead of just completely giving up, I eventually finish (or pick back up) what I've started.

I'm trying to think of the best way to do this.  I can't write one single post about Halloween, Thanksgiving, the trip to L.A., Christmas, and all the fun stuff in between, but I'll try...  I'll focus on the highlights and try to choose just a few photos for each event.

Halloween was really fun for us!  You were a witch, but the most ADORABLE witch, of course.  You didn't want to keep your hat on (and you couldn't REALLY tell it was a witch costume without it), so Nana and I "fought" over the hat and took turns wearing it for a good 10 minutes, and then sure enough, you decided it was YOUR hat and YOU wanted to wear it, so we "reluctantly" let you.  :)  You then wore it the REST of the night.  You helped Nana carve 2 pumpkins.  Buzz Lightyear and Woody (from Toy Story) were the selections this year (she chooses different characters every year).  When daddy got to Nana's, we took you to a couple houses to experience trick or treating, and you DID NOT like doing that.  We went to maybe 3 houses and then just took you back home.  I think you were afraid we were going to leave you at the houses or something.  It wasn't the costumes that scared you, because hanging out on the porch all night long with Nana, me and Hagrid was so much fun for you!  You helped hand out the candy to all the trick or treaters.  It was such a great night.

For Thanksgiving we went to Mimi and Pawpaw's in Dallas.  You are starting to get used to going there and it takes less and less time for you to "warm up" to all the people who shower you with hugs and kisses when you get there!  We have such a fun time there.  It was a relaxing trip, and you had so much fun playing with your cousin Kepler.  Other than a few "sharing" catastrophes, you both got along VERY well.  :)  He's so so good with you.  He's young enough to want to play with you, but old enough to help you along with the playing.  It was such a joy to watch.  Also in November, we had the start of a rainy winter, and after a few days in a row of rain, I was trying to decide how to entertain us with being stuck inside, so we built our first fort!  When the lightbulb went off in my head to build one, I immediately got SO excited!  That's one of my favorite memories of growing up- building forts.  Nana was (and still is) such a creative and fun mom, and she'd help us build some pretty grand ones!  You liked it, and we had fun snuggling up and reading to each other, but I think you're still just a tiny bit too young to really appreciate them fully.  Maybe next year.  There's one more thing that happened in November, but I'll come back to that in the next post, so this won't be WAY too long to read in one sitting!

December was action packed!  I took some adorable photos of you for our Christmas cards (although I didn't get too many, because I asked daddy to help, and I think his patience went out before yours did!!).  Then we went to Las Angeles to watch Papa in the Biggest Loser Finale!  I didn't mention this in other posts only because most of the time he was on the show we weren't "legally" allowed to discuss any details.  But your Papa made the whole family SO SO SO PROUD.  He went on the show and lost 165 pounds!  He wasn't a typical reality show contestant.  He stayed true to himself and kept the integrity, positivity and honesty that we all love and respect about him throughout his time on the show.  Also true to his character, being as hard working as he is, he was doing the best of anyone up to that point, and they voted him off because he was a threat.  But Papa came home and kept up his hard work and he blew everyone away at the Finale!  He looked so handsome coming out in his tux at 185 pounds, from 350!  There aren't words to describe how proud I was of him at that moment (well, several moments during this experience actually).  Your Papa is one in a million, and one of the reasons I fell in love with your dad is because he shares some of the same traits.  Those two guys are the most hard working, determined, goal-focused people I've ever known, and I hope you inherit (or pick up) even a fraction of their motivation and determination.  It will get you FAR in life.  In LA we spent time with your aunts, uncles, cousins... and my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, and had a wonderful time visiting with them all.  They just ate you up!  We went to the beach for a little while, but didn't get in the water or anything, just walked along the pier, watching the surfers and feeding the seagulls.  During the taping of the show, kids weren't allowed, so we left ALL the kids with Nana's 2 sisters (ALL= I think like 14 or 15 kids, all under the age of 12!).  It was a disaster, from what I hear.  Nathan threw up, Abbie didn't stop crying, you wouldn't be put down and cried off and on the whole time...  oh boy, I owe them big time!  By the time I got back to the hotel, I found you and Diane BOTH asleep in a chair in the lobby!  You were both so worn out!  We all survived, though.  The next day we celebrated at Disneyland!  We were there for ELEVEN hours, and we had a lot of fun!  You really enjoyed some of the smaller rides, and enjoyed running around with your cousins.  Every day we were there was completely packed with activities, and every night we were SO WORN OUT.  The next day, after missing our flight home (after checking our luggage, including your carseat), we were stuck in LA another day (which wouldn't have been bad if we didn't have to buy another carseat and if I wasn't deathly ill, throwing up all day, and with no clothes or toiletries).  We eventually made it home, only to travel again the next week to spend Christmas with Mimi and Pawpaw in Dallas!  You're such a trooper on all our adventures!  We had a great time at Christmas, and you got all kinds of fun things!  You're old enough now to have opened up your gifts (with a little help from daddy).  You got your first pair of diamond earrings from aunt Amanda, a toy kitchen, a ton of books, some stuffed animals and other little toys, and a baby 4 wheeler!  You didn't even have it opened all the way before you climbed on!  You've had fun with that.  We keep it at Nana's because there's no room to ride it at home, and it keeps it exciting for you!  You had fun playing with your cousins.  Fisher is walking now, and you two had a great time playing and sharing each others' toys.  When we got home from Dallas, I discovered that because of all the full days, you'd only gotten one nap everyday, and you kept that schedule.  Over a month later, and we're still trying to figure out when your body wants to take that one nap.  Sometimes it's as early as 10am, and sometimes it's as late as 2pm.  We both like you to be on a schedule, so I hope we figure it out soon!

Christmas Card Photos:

LA Photos:

Christmas in Dallas Photos:

New Year's Eve this year was incredibly uneventful.  You were asleep at your normal 7:30-8pm bedtime, and I followed not too long after you around 10pm.  I think daddy made it to 11:30.  We're so exciting.  Next year we'll have fun, right?

In January, we've had 2 snow days, and we had fun playing!  The first day, I could NOT find your gloves, and I figured we'd only be outside for 10 minutes or so, so we went out sans gloves.  Bad idea.  You were so cold, and wanted back in after about 5 minutes, and then your hands did that thing where when you go from really cold to warm, they burn and sting really bad, and you cried for about 10 minutes until it leveled back out.  I felt so terrible!!  You'll never play in the snow without gloves on again!  The next day we bought some gloves (and then I found your other ones, of course), and we built a snowman and went sledding down the school playground hill with Nana, Sarah and Avery (and Emma).

Well, I'm pretty impressed with how concise I was with the update!  It's still a pretty good little novel, but it could've been much worse!  This was more of an "event" update, but I'll post another one (or two) about all the things you've been learning lately... you are a GENIUS, and have been a complete sponge lately, learning and soaking up all kinds of new things...  I can't say enough how proud I am of you, and how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE you and the person you are!  Discovering your personality and encouraging your growth has been the best experience, BY FAR, of my entire life.  You're awesome.