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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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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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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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Dear Scarlett, at 6 months

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My darling Belly Baby,

We celebrated your half birthday a week ago and I was reminded at how fast time is flying by. We have witnessed some tremendous growth in just the past month and I feel like you transitioned from an infant to a baby right in front of my eyes. One of my favorite ages is six months to a year so I’m pretty excited for all that’s in store for us this summer!

You have become quite skilled at sitting. In just a week’s time you went from toppling over like one of those toy punching bags every time we sat you up to sitting for extended periods like you’ve been doing it forever. Now you even crouch forward to grab your toys that are out of reach and can pull yourself back up with no problem at all. We still put you in the Bumbo sometimes but I’m pretty sure we’ll be retiring that piece of gear in the near future.

And you started solids right at six months. I was a little ambitious and dove straight into a banana entree followed by sweet potatoes a few days later. Your doctor had me back up though and now we’re doing oatmeal for a couple of weeks to give you a chance to adjust to this new way of life. You’re battling an ear infection and I can’t tell if your diaper rash is a side effect of the antibiotics or a reaction to the new foods we’ve been trying but we’re taking it slow until your bunnies start to heal. You love you cereal though and would eat a giant bowl if we let you so we’re all practicing a little portion control at the moment. I have learned that I should be prepared to nurse shortly after you finish eating because you scream your head off as if you’ve just finished your last meal in this lifetime. Like your sister, so far you are an excellent eater!

At your six month check-up the doctor was reviewing all of your developmental milestones and noting that you are right on track for your age. She then explained that you should recognize your name by now and so she tested it by calling out to you. Your reaction was lackluster at which point I realized that no one actually calls you Scarlett. I explained that you are better known as “Belly Baby” and sure enough when she tried again, you spun your head around and gave her the biggest gummy grin. We both got a good laugh out of that one.

The sun rises and sets on your sister. You are so in love with her and I can only hope that adoration continues as your relationship develops. Now that you’re becoming more interactive she loves to play with you and share your toys although we often have to explain that exchanging a teething ring for a crayon or some other dangerous choking hazard of a toy doesn’t quite work at this age.

And the feeling is mutual. The other day, I caught her sneaking out of bed to check on you while you were crying in your crib. She was so concerned that I had a hard time really disciplining her. I think she’s always going to be your protector and I can see already that she would do absolutely anything to make you happy.

We are right in the middle of what I’ve been told is the ideal time to sleep train you yet I’m still so resistant to the idea. I know I’m developing a crutch by nursing you until you fall asleep and continuing to nurse you on demand All. Night. Long. but I just can’t help myself. You start the night out in your crib which is more than your sister ever did so I feel like I’ve made progress there. Plus, I’ve read that children who sleep in the family bed when they’re little end up more independent and better adjusted as they age. Your sister is a great example of that theory. I mean she even puts herself down for naps in her own bed now – like she literally excuses herself from playing, exclaims that she’s tired and walks upstairs and gets into bed. No joke.

And yes, I am completely justifying my (bad?) behavior and our continued use of sleep crutches.

I’m reading a new sleep training book right now and may give it a try next week or the week after. Or I may do the exact same thing I did with Savs and deal with it later. We’ll just have to see where the pieces fall but in the meantime, sleep continues to be a huge distraction that literally keeps me up at night.

But really, I don’t mind all that much.

Your love is immeasurable and even when you’re mad, tired, or hungry you are still so quick to cuddle or smile. You are a social girl and love the company of your teachers and the other babies so much. It makes dropping you off each morning a breeze although picking you up each evening is still a highlight of our day.

All in all, you are so awesome. You are the happiest baby on the block and your Sunday School teachers notified me last weekend that I am so lucky to have the “best baby ever.” I couldn’t agree more even if I am a little biased!

Thank you for taking it easy on us. Everyone warned that having two kids would be exponentially harder and I’m probably jinxing myself by putting these words on paper but the adjustment has actually been just fine. You are an incredibly easy baby and your sister loves you with all her might. Juggling schedules got a little more complicated and our household is often a “shit show” but all in all going from 1 to 2 kids was much easier than going from 0 to 1.

You are loved so much. To be honest, it doesn’t even seem fair that one little being should be so adored! In fact, as I type this I want to run over and wake you up just so I can smother your face with slobbery kissies. That’s how it is with you – I can’t go too long without a fix.

6 Months at a Glance

Weight: 16 lbs 6 ozs – 61st percentile

Length: 26 3/4 inches – 75th percentile

Cool things You’re Doing: You love to laugh and talk nonstop. You play with toys and love to be surrounded by them in the ball pit at school. You sit, roll and lunge forward and you’re pretty good at scooting around on your back. You eat which is super cool and your hand eye coordination is excellent.

Likes: You love being outdoors and will instantly settle down the minute we take you outside. So far, you’re loving all food we’ve tried even if your tummy is having a hard time adjusting. You are infatuated with your sister and smile ear to ear the minute she enters your line of sight. You like baths and sitting at the counter with the family in your big girl high chair.

Dislikes: Object permanence is starting to kick in and you don’t like it one bit when we leave you alone. You don’t like teething either but honestly, who does?

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

Love, love love you always!

Your mama

Outtakes:

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To you, Savs…on your 3rd birthday!

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Dear Savannah,

And just like that, you are three!

When I think back to the crazy day you were born I can’t believe it’s been three years already. I remember every detail of that day as if were yesterday – the clothes I wore to the hospital, the crucifix hanging above the door of the delivery room, the feel of your dad’s forehead against mine as I pushed you into the world, and the beeping of the fetal heart monitor. It was the scariest, most painful, and absolutely, completely wonderful day of my life. You made me a mommy!

The last six months have been the most eventful in your short life so far. First of all, your baby sister was born and you assumed the role of Big Sister without skipping a beat. You fell in love with her instantly and we never saw you regress or act out after we brought her home. There were a couple of weeks immediately following Scarlett’s birth where I felt a little rejected by you – let’s just say you were in a SERIOUS “daddy phase” – but we quickly adjusted to our new normal and got back on track which was a big relief for this hormonal mommy.

You have also perfected the art of potty training. You still wear a diaper to bed at night but you dropped the nap time diaper shortly after the new year and you’ve been pooping in the potty consistently since before the holidays. You like to go to the bathroom by yourself and have yet to have an accident in public (knock on wood!). Although the process began shortly after your second birthday, we took it slowly and potty training ended up being one of the easier milestones we’ve conquered together.

Sleep, on the other hand, was a bit of a nightmare. We knew we were in for a whole lot of trouble when we chose not to sleep train you early. You slept in our room up until you were almost two and a half so we had to expect the transition to your own room was going to be a doozy. And it was. We all suffered six very long weeks last summer trying to get you to sleep in your big girl bed in your big girl room and there were moments we were pretty sure you were going to conquer us in the battle of wills. Your daddy and I alternated nights sleeping on an air mattress next to your bed and eventually in the hall. If we had carpet you would’ve worn a path in the hall leading from your room to ours, that’s how many times you got up at night. And bedtime took about 3 hours on average. It was rough!

But now you love your bed and your room. We have an awesome bedtime routine which varies slightly depending on which one of us is putting you down. You and I have our special songs – A Bushel and a Peck by Doris Day and Downtown by Petula Clark. We watch the YouTube videos and sing along. Even though we’ve been doing this night after night for months now, I still get tears in my eyes every time we get to the chorus where Doris Day sings, “About you” and you wrap your little arms around my neck and say, “No, about YOU!” or when we throw our arms in the air and yell “Downtown” as loud as we can while giggling at the same time. Seriously Savs, those are the moments that made me want to be a mom. We also lay in the dark and talk about our days and you tell me about your friends, what you learned in school, lessons your teacher shared etc. You always make a point to ask me how my day was as well and correct me if I don’t give you enough details to satisfy your curiosity.

And while sleep is going well for the most part, you’ve developed sleep terrors and wake up at least once every night in a cold sweat. You are usually murmuring unintelligibly and whimpering. We manage to get you back to sleep within minutes but seeing you so scared and upset still kills me every time. You never remember what woke you up in the morning and we’re hoping this is just a phase that you’ll outgrow soon.

For being so little, your heart is bigger and more full of love than I ever could’ve imagined. Don’t get me wrong, you most certainly have your “threenager” moments but you are also the kindest, sweetest, most compassionate kid. I see it when I watch you interact with your classmates, or when you cry during movies because the “girl is sad.” I see it when you rush to Belly Baby’s side the minute she makes a peep or the way you greet your family when they walk in the door.

When you tell me that you no longer like one of your friends from school I almost laugh because before I even have a chance to provide a teachable moment you are correcting yourself and reminding me that it’s okay because you’ll like him again tomorrow. We’d like to take credit for your sweet disposition but we are far from perfect so all I can do is thank God yet again for blessing our family with such a magnificent little human. You remind us to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, to forgive, offer second chances and empathize with other people’s pain.

Savs, you are coming out of your shell and growing more experimental every day. It’s been exciting to see you express interest in activities that you previously shied away from – i.e. bounce houses, petting zoos, etc. We continue to follow your lead and try not to force you to do anything just because it’s supposed to be “fun” but we do encourage you to at least try things once before determining that you don’t like them and you’re usually pretty open to the idea.

You started preschool last fall and it’s been so fun watching you adjust to sharing a class with the “big kids.” At first, they intimidated you but as time went on you managed to find your place in the pecking order. You have your best friends and one of my favorite things to do is eavesdrop on your conversations with each other. You are both my baby and so grown up at the very same time. It makes me proud while simultaneously breaking my heart.

Speaking of being way too grown up, you’ve started calling me “Mom” sometimes which is just way too weird. You shout it from other rooms of the house and I stand there wondering when exactly Mama or Mommy gave way to MOM. I know it’s just my imagination but I swear your articulate little voice has the tone of an irritated teenager when you say it and I cringe at the thought of what’s ahead of us in the years to come.

Your imagination is running wild and every time I turn around you are playing pretend. You love to dress up and lately you’ve been assigning us roles in your adventures. We spend full afternoons as characters from Frozen – you and I alternate between Anna and Elsa depending on your mood but daddy is always Christophe, Belly Baby is Olaf and Lola is always Sven. You also love your stuffed animal friends and baby dolls and have perfected your nurturing skills – sometimes I think you’re a better, more attentive mommy than me!

Your appetite has been insatiable lately so I think you’re about to grow. You may be the only three year old who requests vegetables and you especially love broccoli, asparagus and green beans. You’re a goof ball and mealtimes fluctuate between being really fun for all of us and totally miserable when you’re indecisive nature takes hold.

Your memory astounds us and we’re always shocked when you recall events or conversations from months ago. Daddy already knows he doesn’t stand a chance with all girls in the house but if your memory is anything like mine, he’s really in trouble. You are still a gullible little bird though and seem content with our explanations for why the world operates the way it does. Your willingness to believe in magic makes our life with you even that much sweeter and we have a blast coming up with silly explanations for some of your more random questions.

That’s not to say that you don’t give us a run for our money sometimes. You are very quick to challenge our authority and sometimes I feel like I spend entire weekends counting to five and disciplining you. It can be exhausting. I caught you on the monitor one day after I sent you to your room telling your stuffed animals how much you don’t like your mommy anymore because she’s SO mean and I just had to laugh at your irrational justification for being mad at me. I know that pushing limits is normal at this stage but there are days where I think your daddy or I might just crack from the pressure of living with such a stubborn little miss.

Fortunately, the good times far outweigh the bad around here.

The other night I told you that the day you were born was the best day of my life. You responded by saying with your cute little stutter that comes out when you’re thinking really hard, “The day you were born, my heart was so happy, mommy.” I know that our relationship will have its peaks and valleys and that I won’t always be the most important person in your little world so for now, I hold onto moments like that one. I try to lock it away in my memory and hope that it’ll get us through the rough patches that are inevitably ahead of us.

3 At A Glance

Weight: 36.3 lbs – 90th percentile

Length: 38.5 inches – 75th percentile

Cool Things You’re Doing: You’re potty trained and you love to sleep in your own bed. Hallelujah! You’ve become an expert at pretend play and you know many of your books by heart. You can sit through an entire feature film.

Likes: You love to dance and sing, dress yourself and pick out your own clothes. The beach is still one of your most favorite places on Earth. You enjoy “activities,” playing with your baby sister and Lola and giving daddy check ups.

Dislikes: Waking up early and getting ready for school, getting help with anything, when we interfere with your agenda, having your hair brushed or washed.

Favorite Books: The Princess Stories, Off We Go to Mexico, We All Went on Safari, Hooper Humperdink, and pretty much every other book you can get your hands on.

Favorite Songs: Bushel and a Peck, Downtown, “The Star Song” (Sky Full of Stars), “Belly Baby’s Song (Home), and the “Wagon Wheel Song.”

Our Favorite Things About this Age: You are a funny, funny kid and whether you’re repeating things we said or coming up with your own one liners, you constantly have us in stitches. You are still a snuggle bug and love to curl up in my lap or sit with our arms around you. You adore your baby sister and burst at the chance to teach her something new or console her when she’s upset. My most favorite thing about this age has got to be our bedtime chats though. You are my little best friend and I spend all day looking forward to those 10 minutes we spend together in the dark every night.

Nicknames: Nana, Savs, Banana Face, Banana Bear, Poppy, Mama, Babycakers, Savi, Bugs, Savarina, Baby Girl, and Savi Bear.

My love for you, my darling, consumes me in a way I never thought possible and although I say it all the time, I really mean it: You and your sister represent everything good in the world. Thank you for your sense of humor, kindred spirit, tight little hugs and wet, peanut butter filled kisses.

I adore you.

Love,

Your mama (Mom)

Outtakes:

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