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Dear Scarlett at 2!

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Dear Belly Baby,

As I write this, I have to laugh because in the two months since your second birthday it’s as if you’ve changed drastically. You have gone from my baby to this full blown little human seemingly overnight.

Your speech is excellent and you love to practice. In fact, you are a complete chatterbox and have been putting full sentences together since before your birthday. You mimic everything your sister says and even take a stab at the longer, more difficult vocabulary. For a long time, no one seemed to understand you but us and your teachers but your pronunciation has gotten clearer and clearer.

You are a musical little girl and the second you hear a beat you pop up and start dancing. If you’re strapped to your car seat, you bob your head to the music. And you have excellent rhythm. You definitely got that quality from your daddy! You love to crash your sister’s ballet classes and before long, I think we’re going to have to find a way to nurture your love for music either by teaching you how to play an instrument or letting you express yourself through dance.

Possibly my favorite thing about you are your facial expressions. You can give the stink eye like no one else I’ve ever met. But your look of surprise or excitement is the all time best. You open your mouth like a great big O and laugh silently for a second before letting out a squeal of excitement! You laugh more sincerely than anyone I know – it’s so deep and guttural and we all end up laughing along with you. You also have the sweetest smile. It’s like a perfect toothy grin and it’s so genuine that I’ll do anything to elicit it from you!

My sweet girl, you are so discriminatory with your affection but once you attach to someone, you love them for life. You are the greatest snuggle bug there is and will sit for hours curled up in our arms. You even love it when sissy holds you like a mommy. Except…when you don’t – then we’d better LOOK OUT! You are an independent bird and when you want your space, ain’t no one gonna tie you down!

In fact, this part of your personality fascinates and amuses me most. You are YOU through and through. No apologies and no exceptions. I often wonder if those you encounter throughout life will fully understand or appreciate your charm but then I laugh because to be honest, I don’t think you’re going to give a damn. I can already tell that you’re not out to please anyone. You have your own agenda and you’re going to see it through.

You are brave with a capital B. And you are fearless. You’ll try anything once although you may decide you don’t like it or it scared you after the fact. Nevertheless, you’re willing to push your boundaries and I so admire that aspect of your personality! You will no doubt set an example for your sister as she explores her own fearlessness in the years to come and I can already see that you are each going to make the other stronger.

The sound of you and Savs laughing together just might be the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. The relationship between the two of you is pretty awesome to watch. Your sister loves to care for you, guide and protect you. Similarly, you challenge her but are the first to come to her aid when she’s hurt or sad. You gently reach for her hand when one of you needs comforting and you’ve taken to sharing her likes and dislikes already.

Scarlett, like your mommy and sissy, you are an excellent sleeper. You love your room and your crib and putting you down is as easy as it gets. In fact, sometimes you let us know that you’re ready for nappy or bedtime and start making your way to your room like a big girl. Lately, you’ve been waking extra early – in fact, your internal sunrise alarm my drive me to insanity one of these days – but slowly we are finding our way through that phase.

Like your big sister, you love school! You love the chance to run free and express yourself through art and music. You love when I read books to your class in the mornings although you also get incredibly territorial and possessive when any of your friends come near me. You stare longingly at the preschool class every day and I know you’re just dying to spread your wings and hang out with the big kids. I suspect reminding you to “slow down” and “enjoy the moment” will become our mantras as you already yearn to conquer the world.

You’re a physical girl and walk with a swagger. I regularly enter a room to find you creating solutions to whatever challenge is before you – if you want a pair of shoes and they’re out of reach then naturally, you think to empty your waste basket and use it as a step stool. Pretty sophisticated for a barely two-old if you ask me!

I’m reading a book right now called the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. The two sisters in the book remind me so much of you and Savs. You share a confidence and desire to buck the system like the younger sister, Isabel. I can also imagine you finding something to believe in and fighting for it despite the risks. I’m so excited to watch you discover how big the world is and all that it offers.

Scarletto, you are much more like your daddy than you are like me which has made parenting you a learning experience for me. But, because you react to the world differently than I do, I feel like I’ve learned so much from you already. You love fiercely and it’s demonstrated in the power of your hugs and the smack of your smooches. You are bold and funny. Independent and secure. And snuggly and absolutely loveable. I adore every single thing about you, my darling!

Always and forever,

Your mommy

2 at a glance

Cool things you’re doing: You are all around one cool little girl. Your imagination is soaring. Your understanding of the world around you and how it works is expanding by the minute. And your interest in taking care of others and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone on target.

Likes: Music!, playing dress up, taking care of your babies, stealing your sister’s toys, reading books, rocking, snuggling, pretending, running, climbing, all things Mickey and Minnie.

Dislikes: Depends on the day but showers can piss you off. Same with wearing clothes. You’re not a fan of pants and always prefer to be naked. Except when it comes to shoes. You love your shoes.

Favorite Books: The Potty Book, On the Night You Were Born, anything by Sandra Boynton, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Panda Bear Panda Bear, Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Favorite Songs: You love all music equally but favor songs with a clear beat that you can use to get your jam on. You love when we sing lullabies at night especially ABC’s, On the Good Ship Lollipop, Bushel and a Peck, and Baa Baa Black Sheep

Funny Things You Say: Everything starts with “my” as in: “My snowman,” “My diapie,” “My soft baby.” As your sentences get longer your words become more deliberate and you give a full effort to your pronunciation.

Our Favorite Things About This Age: While the saying “terrible two’s” definitely has significance with you, this is also a pretty cool age. You are becoming so independent and you and your sister play together for extended periods of time. Your imagination is incredible to watch. So is your big brain. It’s like you’re learning new words at warp speed! My all time favorite thing about 2 is that you are both a baby and a big kid at once. You still love your mommy and let me rock you like a baby doll but you are also becoming your own little human and she’s really, really awesome!

Nicknames: Belly Baby, of course!, Lets, Letti, Scarletto Barbaretto, Letti Lou, Leticia Lou, Scarly

Outtakes:

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Long time no see

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For some time now, every time I think about this lonely little blog I’m overcome with a sense of foreboding and anxiety. What was once a beautiful outlet for me to share my musings on motherhood and life has become one more item on my never ending to-do list.

This makes me so sad.

I’d like to say that with the new year, I’m vowing to visit this space more often, to let my creative expression flow more frequently, but if I’m honest with myself, I just don’t know how likely that is.

See, this crazy thing called life and all it encompasses – motherhood, family, career, community – seems to creep in and get in the way of any sense of solitude that once existed for me.

So, for now, we’ll have to settle with the occasional letter to my children (which are recognizably always months past due) and a promise that I haven’t abandoned this space altogether. Thank you to those who continue to check in – I appreciate the encouragement to keep up with my writing.

Soon, I assure you, soon. There will be time to think again.

Until then…with love,

N

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To you, Savs…at 4!

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This is 4! Well, 4 2/3 to be exact. Our lives have been full these past few months and I haven’t had a moment to have a clear thought let alone articulate it.

Savannah, you are an absolute joy to be around. You make us beam with pride on a daily basis by sharing your generous spirit with the world around you. Whether you’re assisting snails along their journey, helping your sister maneuver her latest tricks, or consoling a friend in need your empathy shines true in all that you do.

You have evolved into a long and lean little girl this year. Gone are the baby face, thigh rolls, and poochy belly. They’ve been replaced with legs for days and “Rapunzel hair,” as you like to call it. You are a beautiful little girl inside and out.

You are also articulate, thoughtful, and wise beyond your years. Your memory astounds us – you lessons we’ve taught you or remember events from years ago. You love learning and ask a lot of questions about why the world is the way it is. Fortunately, you take it easy on us as we muddle our way through some of the more difficult topics and seem content to trust that what we tell you is true.

A few months ago you transitioned into the Kinder Prep class at school and you’ve been thriving ever since. You were a little intimidated at first since you were the youngest kid in the group but you had your partners in crime – Jacob and Makenna – by your side and so you settled in quickly. Your handwriting is improving and you’re getting pretty good at sounding words out. Of course, that means you love practicing the alphabet and find reasons to write cards to your family on a daily basis. I am continuously impressed by the curriculum at your school and so thankful we have the means to send you there every day.

You love being a big sister – most of the time. You take great pride in your Belly Baby and love to show her off to your friends. You are usually pretty good at sharing with her but certainly have momentary lapses where you rip something out of her hands or just haul off and hit her for no good reason. For the most part though, you adore Scarlett and she’s very lucky to have you as a role model and friend.

Although you have developed into a little girl in so many ways, I still get daily glimpses of my baby. You still nap for one thing which is a dream come true for this tired mommy! You also love “snuggling” more than anything and will jump at the chance to climb in bed with us before you fall asleep or first thing in the morning.

But most the time, you are all about big kid things. Whether it’s pretending to be a mommy yourself – you’re all about pretend play and your imagination runs wild, or navigating your own iPad, you are in control. You’re pretty self-sufficient and very polite both of which make me quite proud.

You started ballet a couple of months ago and the class has helped you really come out of your shell. You were so shy at first, intimidated by the other kids and insecure because you didn’t know the moves. I even thought you might ask to quit but you didn’t. You stuck it out and we kept going back and now you are obsessed! You are a wonderful listener and follow directions well and of course, you love your teacher.

We talk a lot about bravery and the importance of pushing through fear. You still get shy sometimes but you are trying new things each week and we are so proud of you! You are proud of yourself too which is really what we care about most. Uh…I just love your face!

Nana Bear, I wish I had the words to express how much I adore you. All I can say is that the sight of you makes my heart explode in a million pieces. You are everything I’d hoped my firstborn child would be – kind, empathetic, thoughtful, smart, funny, and of course, very, very brave. You continue to push me to new heights and you remind us how beautiful the world is even when we’re feeling discouraged – which considering it’s an election year, happens a lot nowadays!

Your curiosity is both sweet and inspiring. Your adoration for your friends and family and ability to recognize right from wrong make us proud. And your faith…forget about it. We’ve had to tackle some “big” issues lately and I’ve loved watching how you draw on your faith to pull you through sadness or make sense of the insensible. You are wise beyond your years and teaching us so much every day.

Savi Bear, I frequently refer to you as my kindred spirit. You are my mini-me in many ways – how you look, the way you concentrate deeply when you’re thinking about something, the way you want to help every living creature you come across. We share a deep, deep bond and I love watching you grow each day. You continue to teach me more about myself and push me to the limit of possibility. Thank you for all that you are and all you bring to our family.

You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.

Mommy

4 at a glance

Cool things you’re doing: You are all around one cool little girl. Your imagination is soaring. Your understanding of the world around you and how it works is expanding by the minute. And your interest in taking care of others and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone on target.

Likes: Playing dress up, pretending to be a mommy or a princess, writing cards and drawing pictures, practicing your name, watching shows on your iPad, telling stories, singing and dancing, cooking, and going to school and ballet.

Dislikes: I don’t know when it happened but lately you’ve become quite the picky eater avoiding a lot of the veggies that used to be your favorite. You dislike when your sister torments you or takes your toys. You don’t like being woken up in the morning and you hate having your hair brushed.

Favorite Books: The Book with No Pictures, The Giving Tree, Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You (our special book!), Tickle Monster, The It’s Okay to be Different and the Family Book.

Favorite Songs: You still love Coldplay, you like the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and much to our chagrin, you frequently request “Belly Baby’s songs” which translates to the Barney station on Pandora!

Funny Things You Say: ”That’s ridiculous,” “What the heck???,” “That’s disgusting!”

Our Favorite Things About This Age: Four has been really great. You have matured a lot and it’s like having a little partner in crime by our side rather than a child. You are smart and witty and quite hilarious too. But, I love that even though you’re so grown up you also melt right back into being my baby at every opportunity. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.

Nicknames: Savs, Nana, Nana Bear, Savi, Banana, and of course, Sissy!

Outtakes:

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Dear Scarlett, at 15 months

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My sweet, sweet Letti Lou:

I hate to admit it but your first birthday post completely escaped me so unfortunately, this will have to serve as a combined 12 and 15 month letter to you. While my writing has been few and far between these past few months, your first birthday celebration was nothing short of fabulous! We showered you with love and as a friend of mine put it, we hosted a small wedding at our house in your honor. We had over 20 children under five making mayhem in our backyard and everyone left the party smiling ear to ear and exhausted from a day of fun.

Your development has skyrocketed since I last wrote. You went from walking at 11 months to literally running behind your sister nowadays. You have been steady on your feet for quite some time and love to dance, climb, run, and maneuver your little body into all sorts of strange places. You are a physical girl and nothing can hold you back if you are determined to get from point A to point B.

You are also very verbal. Your vocabulary is pretty robust for your age and some of your favorite words are Nana and Lola. Of course, you rattle off Mama and Dada constantly and can say the names of all your grandparents as well as Ball, Book, Baby, Hi, Bye, Up, and a few other choice selections. Your sign language really took off at around 13 months and you still love to sign for More, Please, Milk, Help, and Bed. Baby sign language has been such a blessing with both you and your sister and I swear, it’s allowed us to communicate with you guys way before you were really verbal.

You are an awesome sleeper although it did take a couple of weeks of growing pains for us both. I cut out the nighttime nursing sessions at 12 months and to say you protested the first few nights would be an understatement. You were pissed! But, you got through it and as soon as reality set in, you started sleeping through the night and haven’t stopped since. You like to go to bed way earlier than your big sis ever did so we literally have time to get home, throw food in your mouth and get you ready for bed before you start getting cranky. You get between 11-12 hours of sleep a night which is great. You’re still a cat napper and rarely nap for longer than 45 minutes to an hour but Savannah was the same way so we’ve adjusted accordingly.

Speaking of nursing, I stopped pumping at a year as well and continued to nurse you on demand when I was with you but otherwise you went straight from the boob/bottle to open cups of whole milk. In January, I transitioned you to just two nursing sessions a day – morning and night – and then cut you back to just one. I still nurse you right before bedtime although they’re very short sessions and I think we’re both continuing for comfort more than anything else at this point.

It’s hard to believe I breastfed for going on 2 ½ years between you and Savs and the thought of never doing it again is bittersweet. It is nice to have my body back to myself though and I was getting really sick of wearing nursing friendly clothes all the time! And don’t even get me started on the breast pump! Still, breastfeeding was one of my greatest joys of motherhood to date and a complete surprise since I wasn’t even sure I’d do it when I was pregnant the first time let alone love it!

Your little personality has really flourished these past few months and we’ve started to see some of the true differences between you and your sister. You are funny – like balls to the wall, test the limits, goofy funny. You love to be LOUD, you love all eyes on you, and you are a determined little bird. Like your sister though, you are a snuggle bug and an amazing eater. There are few things you reject and we joke with your teachers that you could have a mouth full of food and two handfuls ready to go and you’re still signing for “more.” Funny enough, you are more petite than Savs ever was hovering in the middle of the scale on weight and length. I don’t know where all the food goes except you also have about 6 BMs a day so I guess it goes straight through you!

Since we put the tubes in last summer, your hearing has been perfect. Knock on wood but we haven’t had any ear infections since and they don’t seem to bother you one bit.

You are officially a world traveler – we went on our first official “family vacation” to Costa Rica in January. You did a great job flying although keeping you busy, still, and quiet for 5 hours straight was exhausting. Once there, you had a ball! You pretty much ate your weight in sand and loved spending every day at the beach and every evening in the pool. I think most of all, you loved having all of us around 24/7 and we enjoyed the chance to see you and your sister explore a new environment together. We’re already starting to plan our next adventure and can’t wait for many more opportunities to share this beautiful world with you girls.

Everyone says you are your father’s mini-me and you really are. You still look so much like Savs did at your age but your eyes are different – you have his and Savs has mine. You both have combined personality traits and embody some of our best (and worst) features but that’s how it goes. I see a lot of your Dada when I look at you and it makes me smile every time.

We still call you Belly Baby or BB most of the time. I’m sorry but I think you’re going to have a hard time kicking that nickname. If you get older and really protest we’ll try to cut it but I hope you always know, it was established in love and it fits you, my sweet girl. You will always be the baby in our family and every time I hear Belly Baby I flash back to the nine months of wonderment as we imagined if God would bless us with a boy or girl to complete our family.

You are obsessed with your big sister. You follow her around like a puppy dog and imitate everything she does. At best, she adores you right back and at worst, she tolerates you. We’ve yet to uncover any true sibling rivalry but we’re preparing ourselves for the coming years.

You are also a daddy’s girl and often times reach for him first when you need comfort. I think it surprises your dad sometimes because for the most part, your sister has always relied on me in times of need. I swear, sometimes I see his chest puff up with pride as he takes you out of my arms though and I think it must feel really good to him to be your #1 right now.

Scarlett, you make me happy. Like head in the clouds, love beyond words, smile ear to ear, happy. You have a laugh that is deep and guttural and it is infectious. You have a strong will and a kind heart. You love to blow kisses and love on those you know best. You are also a tough nut to crack and don’t warm up to people instantly but that’s okay, I don’t either. I’ve just learned to fake it well! I think you will be very disarming while also maintaining an air of mystery about you. I suspect you will make those who love you work for your affection but once it’s received you give without abandon or hesitation. You will change the world, my girl, and I just can’t wait to see how.

15 Months at a Glance

Weight – 21.75 – 58th percentile

Length – 30.5 inches – 48th percentile

Cool things you’re doing: You are a full blown toddler. You love to shake your booty and dance and love to perform the minute we start singing, “Go Scarlett, it’s your birthday…” You love to run and play hide and seek and enjoy the challenge of finding hidden objects. You eat with a spoon and drink from an open cup. You also clear your own plate which is both incredibly convenient and hilarious.

Likes: Your family, your sister, Lola, exploring the world through touch, hearing your own voice, getting dirty, and unfortunately, you LOVE pooping in the bathtub!

Dislikes: Strangers. You have serious stranger danger. You also get very upset when we take your food away before you finish eating or when we’re delayed in feeding you.

Nicknames: Belly Baby! Letti Lou, BB, Scarletto, Monk

Loving you always, my sweet girl.

Love, your mama

Outtakes:

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Dear Scarlett…at 11 months

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Dear my nearly 1-year-old:

I’m starting to get a little choked up at the thought of your first birthday next month. This year has flown by faster than any other in my life. It’s hard to believe only a year ago we were waiting patiently for your arrival and now you’re about to walk straight into toddlerhood!

Yes, I said walk.

You took your first steps this month. Two little tiny ones that surprised us so much. We just assumed you’d walk sometime after your first birthday like your big sis. Silly us, we should’ve known that like everything else, you had your own timeline in mind. You still aren’t cruising full speed but you love to pop up, take a couple of steps and collapse on your butt in a fit of giggles.

You are also babbling more and more and actually said your first words. You now say “ball” in reference to your favorite toys and the other day in the bathtub you said “mama.” You were upset and trying to get out and you stood up, reached for me and bellowed “mama, mama” at the top of your lungs. For some reason, this caught me in the soft spot of my heart because I teared up a little at the sound of your voice. I just assumed that, like your sis, your first word would be “dada.”

Again, with those assumptions. When will I learn!?

You no longer drink from a bottle at all. You’ve been weaning off the bottle for some time so we finally bit the bullet and moved you over to a sippy cup at school which is working out much better. I’m still pumping at work but plan to stop at your birthday when we introduce cow’s milk. I’ll still nurse you for a few more months when we’re together but I’m definitely ready to get rid of my breast pump forever! And I think you’re ready to try regular milk. You’ve always preferred breastmilk straight from the source and getting you to drink it at school has been an ongoing challenge.

This month has been filled with all sorts of fun. You are so interactive now and definitely filled with personality. You love to steal your sister’s toys and food and she’s constantly panicking because you’ve tipped over her milk or stolen her marker from right under her nose.

You are a rascal, that’s for sure.

You love to eat at Savannah’s table with her so we rarely use the highchair anymore. To that I say, “Good riddance!” – cleaning those things are a pain in the butt! We’ve started locking Lola in the office during mealtimes though because you are terrible about sharing your food with her. You insist on finger foods now and rarely allow us to feed you. We’re officially at the stage where mealtimes are messy no matter what we serve you. I swear you even manage to make a disaster area out of cut up pieces of apple. But you have a ball doing it which is all that matters, I suppose.

You are eating nearly everything except eggs, milk, sugar, nuts, and citrus foods. We’ll start introducing those this month so by your birthday, you’ll be able to really start eating with the rest of us. Savs hates that she can’t share her berries with you and constantly wonders why you can’t have some of her special milk. I just want to get past the stage of worrying about food allergies so fingers crossed all goes well with these new additions.

You are really coming into your own at school. You’ve partnered up with Chloe which is pretty cute considering your big sis and her big brother have been best friends since they were babies too. Like them, you two fight and love each other like siblings. I actually watched as you nudged your way onto the seat she was occupying the other day. She worked to get you to move but you’re a stubborn one and refused to budge. Finally, she just gave up and sat on top of you. Oddly enough, you were both totally content with the resolution. Like Savs and Jacob, you guys will find your groove in time and I know you are going end up best of friends.

You are quite the independent sleeper. Although I enjoy having my personal space again at night it makes me a little sad that you prefer your crib to our bed. Don’t get me wrong, you would stay in our bed all night if I let you. It’s just that when you’re in there you refuse to sleep. You play, wiggle, stand, nurse nonstop, climb on us, punch your father in the nose, giggle, etc. Pretty much anything but sleep soundly.

You still wake throughout the night and most of the time I go in and nurse you for a few minutes and then you go back to sleep in your crib. It’s like you just want a little top off or a snuggle; both of which I can appreciate. Sometimes it gets a little crazy though and you get up every couple of hours like a newborn. Those are the times I let you cry for a bit until you settle yourself down. Right now, I want you to take as much breastmilk as possible so I’m embracing the night feedings but pretty soon little one, I’ll be cutting you off!

You love to dance. Your teachers told me that you hold on to the wall at school and shake your little booty while they sing, “Go Scarlett, Go Scarlett, Go!” After they elaborated a little further I realized that you have become a master twerker. I’m not too sure how excited we are by that news but we do love that since your surgery you are hearing and enjoying music so much.

We dedicated you at church this month and although it wasn’t the private baptism ceremony your sister had, it meant so much to me. For the first time in my adult life, I’ve found a church I feel at home at and I’ve loved seeing how your father and sister have embraced it as well. We shared the morning with just our immediate family and your Gods, of course, and it was the perfect celebration. Even your grammy and bampa came to town for the occasion.

We chose life verses for you and your sister.

For Savannah, we selected Proverbs 31:25:

She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.

And yours is Joshua 1:9:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

That’s you, my girl. Strong, courageous, fearless, and inspired.

You are going to do incredible things with this life. You are going to live it to the fullest. I see that sparkle and yearn for adventure in your little eyes every time I look at you. I pray you always know that God will follow you through your journeys encouraging you and holding you up when the weight of the world gets too heavy for you to bear.

And we’ll be there too. Cheering you on. Lifting you up. And celebrating you for all that you are and all that you will become.

I adore you, my love.

Your mama

11 Months at a Glance

Weight: 20 lbs – 70th percentile

Length: 27.5 inches – 32nd percentile

Cool things You’re Doing: You took your first steps. And you say “mama” and “ball.” You can drink out of an open cup and use a spoon – although you do both clumsily of course. You’ve weaned of the bottle and now drink exclusively from a sippy cup (or open cup depending on how daring we are). You dance and babble and are turning into a toddler before our very eyes.

Likes: You love balls, toys, markers, unpacking and packing purses, containers, or drawers. You love to snuggle and nurse. You find great pleasure in following your sister around and sharing everything with her even when she’s not in the mood.

Dislikes: You dislike getting into your car seat and you hate sitting still for diaper changes.

Nicknames: Scarletto Barbaretto, Letti, Letti Spaghetti, Happy, Monkey, Monk, Monkey Brains, Sissy, and of course, Belly Baby

Outtakes:

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To you, Savs…at 3 1/2

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Savi Bear,

You have grown so much these past six months. In many ways you are a “big kid” now but I still get regular glimpses of my baby, especially when you snuggle up with us at bedtime.

You are the world’s greatest big sister! I mean, seriously. I knew you’d end up loving the baby but never imagined it would go this well right from the start. You are a little mommy and even refer to her as “my child” sometimes. You enjoy teaching her new things and get as excited when she hits a new milestone as we do. You monitor her behavior and if she’s getting herself into trouble – i.e. climbing the stairs! – you sound the alarm so we all come running.

That’s not to say you don’t have your moments where you might wish you were an only child again. You absolutely hate it when she touches the iPad during one of your shows or grabs at your food while you’re eating. You get upset if she steals your toys or pulls your hair. And forget about it if she breaks one of your many “rules.” You have Big Sister written all over you and I can already sense how you might start to get drunk with the power.

Meanwhile, your Belly Baby absolutely adores everything about you. She’d follow you to the ends of the earth and no one brings a smile to her face quite like you. I love watching you greet each other in the morning – you’re both so sweet and gentle with one another. And I long for the day when you can snuggle up in the same bed at night. I even daydream about the two of you sharing a room someday.

You’re also really growing into your own at school. You’ve transitioned into preschool 2 which has a more structured curriculum and you seem to be enjoying it. Your alphabet recognition is improving by the day and you love pointing out letters and telling us what words start with them. You take advantage of any opportunity to count or point out the primary colors. This age is so exciting because I can literally see your little brain growing by the day. You are soaking it all up and it’s been awesome.

You’ve been taking Spanish class for a while now as well and seem to really enjoy it. Especially because we have a trip to Costa Rica coming up. The idea of going to a country where everyone speaks Spanish all the time excites you and I hope you’ll be confident enough to practice what you’ve learned with the locals.

Socially, you are a little butterfly. You have found your place in the pecking order and remain best friends with your oldest classmates – Jacob and Kenna primarily. You’ve gone in and out of phases of playing with “girls only” but no matter what Jacob remains a constant in your life. In fact, you frequently refer to him as your “brother” and you two love to send each other video text messages when you’re apart.

I worry sometimes that you’ll get cliquey and we talk a lot about the importance of including ALL of your friends in your activities. Same goes with making your own decisions. I know you’re a leader and a strong-willed girl but sometimes you say things that make me wonder if you go along with the group too much. We try to stress values like kindness, compassion, and empathy and for the most part I think you get it. You made me really proud when some new kids joined your class last month and you decided to be their “special friend” until they adjusted. You have a very kind heart, always have, and I absolutely love to see it in action.

One of your favorite traditions is “talking about our day” every night. We go around and you ask us about our days and if we’re vague or rush through it because we’re tired, you always make us go back and fill in the gaps. You know the names of our bosses and our “friends” at work. We try to be honest with you and share our lows as well as our highs to give you some perspective. The other day, you cracked me up when you told me that you tried to hold a “meeting” at school but none of your friends wanted to come. Ah, baby girl, better get used to it because that’s corporate American in a nutshell.

You are also very transparent about how you spend your days. You love to tell us what you learned and who you played with and we know more about the playground politics at your school than we ever imagined possible. This dialogue is actually the best part of my day as well and I pray that you always enjoy talking and sharing with us the way you do right now.

You love to sleep and funny enough, in your own bed. Everyone worried you’d regress after Scarlett was born and we’d find you back in our bed but it didn’t happen even for a night. Of course, you love the occasional slumber party but you really do adore your own bed. You still nap – Thank God! – and I was told you had to be moved into a private space at school because some of the other kids wake you up and upset you. You are your mother’s girl!

You still love to read and play house. You bring a baby, purse or backpack everywhere you go and I’m fairly certain you’re going to grow up to be a hoarder. You take very good care of your babies and I think Belly Baby’s arrival came at the perfect time for this stage of your development.

You’re getting more independent and curious and the little girl who never strayed more than three feet from our side now likes to make new friends and explore further distances. This has forced us to step up our game in public and we no longer take for granted that you’re right next to us all the time. Although it means we have to keep a closer eye on you, I’ve enjoyed watching you venture out of your comfort zone a bit and you don’t claim to be so “shy” when faced with new situations as much anymore.

You are funny. I mean, really, really, funny and frequently leave all of us in stitches with your one liners. You mispronounce words all the time and make these incredibly observant statements. You also accidently curse or repeat inappropriate things we say and while I know we should immediately correct you, most of the time we just giggle under our breaths and ignore it. You love to act like a goofball and dance, sing and shake your booty all the time.

You remain a snuggle bug and always ask for “two more minutes” at bedtime. You love to curl up with any one of us, especially your sister, and rest your head on our chests while we read or chat.

One of the coolest things about the past six months is how you’ve embraced your faith. We’ve started going to church regularly and you look forward to “church school” all week. You love learning about Jesus, praying at night, and sharing the bible stories you learn. You often remind us that “Jesus is in our hearts” or that “God made a beautiful day today” and I just melt. I pray you continue your journey and that your spirituality only grows with age.

All in all, this age is awesome. We have our challenges and you can definitely act like a “threenager” but I also really enjoy how you’ve turned into my best buddy. We have great conversations and I enjoy your company as much as anyone’s. You are thoughtful and kind and just really fun to be around most of the time.

Savannah, you are loved beyond words. I stare at you while you sleep sometimes because I just can’t get enough of you. I’ve always had faith but when I watch you, I know with 100% certainty that God exists. There’s just no way someone as perfect as you was created by accident.

You are going to do amazing things, sweet girl. You already are. I wonder how you’re going to change this world and leave it a far better place than you found it and look forward to watching your story unfold. I see us in you – the lessons we’ve imparted and the genes you’ve inherited. You’ve managed to capture the very best of the two of us and so far, very few of our flaws. You have your idiosyncracies of course but they’re what make you unique and I, personally, adore them.

So go get, em, baby! You’ve got this and we’ll be right here behind you encouraging you on your way.

Loving you always and always,

Your mama

3 1/2 at a Glance

Cool Things You’re Doing: You love shake your booty and sing, “Boom Shaka Laka Boom” (I find this awesome. Your father, not so much). You are learning Spanish and also the letters of the alphabet.

Likes: You love your sissy first and foremost. You also really like animals and learning about exotic animals and where they live. You love our bedtime routine and make sure we never skip a step. You are obsessed with your “shows” on the iPad and I’ve embraced this habit while also trying to keep it under control. You love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and eating berries equally. Your favorite colors are currently purple, pink and blue but mainly purple. You love school and your friends and tell us daily how much you “LOVE YOUR FAMILY!”

Dislikes: When I tell you to stop biting your nails (gross!), when we cut you off from the iPad, waking up in the morning. And I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times you just lost your mind for no good reason at all!

Favorite Books: The Day the Crayons Quit, your bible stories, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, The Poky Little Puppy, Dr. Seuss books, and you love visiting the school library and checking books out!

Favorite Songs: Five Little Ducks, Skinamarink, Wagon Wheel, Coldplay, Home by Phillip Phillips, and of course the Hot Dog Song.

Our Favorite Things About This Age: There’s a lot. Watching you grow into your own person has been a joy. Seeing your kindness in action whether it’s with your sister, the spider on the windowsill, or your friends. Our conversations, your sense of humor, and your ability to sleep through anything!

Nicknames: Savs, Nana, Savi Bear, Monk, Monkey Brains, Savarina, Banana Face, Bug

Outtakes:

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Dear Scarlett, at 10 months!

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My sweet Scarlett:

You are 10 months old and just the idea of your first birthday makes me break out in a cold sweat and not because I dread the work involved in planning a party. I just can’t believe my last baby is turning into a toddler right before my eyes. These past 10 months with you have been the best of my life and you really have completed our family in a way we never knew we needed.

This was a really big month in your little life. In fact, possibly the biggest one yet. You had your first surgery a couple of weeks ago and you were a trooper. We, on the other hand, were nervous wrecks.

After three ear infections in your short life, your doctor recommended we consult with an ENT about inserting tubes in your ears. Sure enough, one look in those little ears of yours combined with a nearly fail on your auditory test and it was determined that you definitely needed tubes. We booked the surgery for three days later without hesitation. We hated the idea of putting you under anesthesia but the fear of permanent damage to your eardrum was just too much. Not to mention the fact that you’ve been living in so much pain all this time.

All in all, the surgery lasted all of 8 minutes. You came out of recovery fine we were on our way home in short order. The hardest part was changing you into a baby hospital gown and watching as the anesthesiologist took you out of arms. Uh…I pray we never have to live through anything like that again with either of you girls.

Since the surgery, you’ve been doing great. We’re suddenly realizing you probably haven’t been hearing well for months which is why you were slow to babble. Since then, you’ve been talking up a storm!

Despite any pain you were in, you’ve remained our happy girl. You love to smile and laugh, especially at your sister. She just cracks you up when she talks to you in her secret language or plays peek a boo with you. There’s no doubt you two will be best friends in no time but the love/hate relationship that only sisters have is starting to rear its ugly head.

You drive her crazy sometimes!

You steal her food, take her toys, rip the pages from her books, make noise when she’s watching her shows….the list goes on and on. She even accused you of pushing her off the bed and giving her a black eye the other day. Who knew you had super strength!?

But, despite it all, she adores you like no other. She loves to kiss you, hug you, bathe you, and teach you new things. You guys are pretty damn cute together and nothing brings a smile to our faces more than watching you interact.

You are a mover and shaker and I’m pretty sure you can crawl faster than I can run. You love to explore new spaces and have a way of finding even the smallest crumb on the floor and sticking it in your mouth. You are more adventurous than you sister who was a fairly cautious baby and we’ve realized we have to step up our babyproofing game with you! I think you’ll be walking soon but I’m in no rush to see you make that leap. But, that’s just me being a selfish mommy who wants to hold onto her baby for as long as possible.

You continue to love school and you’re starting to really bond with some of the other babies. Your best friends to date are Chloe of course but also Declan and Ahana. There’s a new, younger baby in your class and you love to kiss her and practice your “gentle touch” as you get to know her better.

You’ve been on a complete bottle strike for a while now and your poor teachers have been forced to get very creative in your breastmilk consumption. They mix it with your food, pour it over your snacks and dip your crackers just to get you to consume what I send each day. You still love to nurse like no other but have decided that bottles/sippy cups of milk are not going to cut it. I’m hopeful that we’ll get to 12 months before you wean during the day completely and intend to continue breastfeeding you to 15 months like I did with Savs – if you’ll let me. We’ll see how it goes.

Now that you can hear – seriously, thank God for the tubes! – we’ve discovered how much you love music, musical toys, and the sound of your own voice! While the additional commotion drives me to insanity at times I absolutely love seeing your speech develop and can’t wait to hear what your first “real” word is going to be!

You have been a teething machine. In fact, I’m pretty sure you popped your four top teeth in the matter of one weekend. Your tooth count is now at six and from the way you’ve been gnawing on your hands I expect a couple more to come through any day now.

You continue to be a complete and total lover and you enjoy nothing more than snuggling up with one of us. You rest your little head on our chests and your breath immediately deepens. You have one of the sweetest dispositions and I feel so blessed that – for the most part – you take it pretty easy on us.

Thank you for your giggles, your charm, and your playful disposition. We adore everything about you and despite the ache in my heart, I really am getting excited to celebrate sweet one-year-old you!

Love,

Your mama

10 Months at a Glance

Weight: 20 lbs – 70th percentile

Length: 27.5 inches – 32nd percentile

Cool things You’re Doing: You are standing on your own. You eat pretty much everything. You drink out of an open cup and straw cups and try to feed yourself with a spoon. You play peek a boo, clap for yourself, dance, laugh hysterically, and love to play ball. And you babble nonstop.

Likes: You’re all about the balls and love to play catch, pass balls back and forth or roll them around. You love Savannah and Lola and pester them both equally. You’re a snuggle bug and love to rest your head on our chest when we hold you. You’ve also been a daddy’s girl lately and no one quite compares to him in your eyes.

Dislikes: You hate taking bottles now and we’ve pretty much given up trying. Your separation anxiety is in full effect right now as well.

Nicknames: Scarletto Barbaretto, Letti, Letti Spaghetti, Happy, Monkey, Monk, Monkey Brains, Sissy, and of course, Belly Baby

Outtakes:

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