The Rundown: 3 years, 9 months & 2 years, 4 months

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I used to write these sort of updates all the time. I’d make a list of your weights and heights and milestones. I wanted a record all of the ways you were growing and changing month over month.

But for the past six months or more, I haven’t written a post like this. Your changes have come so fast I’ve barely had time to register them. Every day I wake up to two children who are taller, smarter, more animated than the day before. I come home from work and I swear you’ve grown while I was away. I curl up next to you at bedtime and try to imagine how it used to feel to hold you as a baby. Those little round bellies and chubby arm rolls have turned into long, skinny legs and feet that outgrow shoes at an alarming rate.

Every season, as I go through your closets and pack away the things you’ll never wear again, I do it with a lump in my throat. Sometimes, I cave to my own hang-ups, and squeeze you into a favorite t-shirt that should have been abandoned months ago…even though your belly hangs out and it’s tight in the arms. I just want one more day of seeing you run around in that silly piece of clothing you once wore daily.

I don’t know exactly how much either of you weigh or how tall you are now. I do know that the top of Everly’s head comes up to my hip and my arms grow tired while carrying Arlo much quicker than they did even a few months ago .  Arlo, your hair has grown long enough to fall in your eyes. I’m the only one left who thinks it shouldn’t be cut, but I’m standing my ground on that one. Everly, you’ve reached the age where you will patiently let me braid your hair or put it up in little buns. You love to admire my handiwork in the mirror when I’m done.

Everly, you are so full of reason and inquiry. You make up the best songs. You have a great sense of humor and above all, you continue to make me so proud with the way you have empathy for others. You share beautifully and like to make gifts for your loved ones. You are sometimes bossy, often stubborn and a born leader. I watch as every where you go, others are drawn to your energy and confidence. Your spirited nature will no doubt be a challenge to our parenting at times as you grow, but know that it is also one of the things I most admire in you.

 Arlo, you bring pure joy to our world. You are rarely in a hurry but love to speed around the house on your balance bike. You are quiet and content except when you get your heart broken, which is fairly often. You go with the flow, are comfortable to just be, and most happy when you are surrounded by cars and trucks and toy motorcycles. You are not a rough and tumble kid. You are thoughtful and purposeful, affectionate and silly. When I lay down with you at night, you reach out and slowly rub the back of my arms. I can tell, already, that your goodness will make waves in this world.

I’ve stopped counting all the words the two of you say and tracking all of the milestones you’re reaching, because I know you are right where you are supposed to be. We are in no hurry to rush either of you into formal education right now. We are introducing letter, color, and shape identification through lots and lots of book reading. We are being protective of these early childhood years. You will learn all about writing and reading and counting soon enough, but for now, our greatest focus on learning is around the art of adventure and play.

You are both just great kids. We love being your parents. Keep up the good work, you’ve already got this whole childhood thing down pat.

Love,

Mama

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Oh, for the love of this little boy. With blonde curls that render my heart useless. Whose best friends are a stuffed monkey, a yellow dump truck and his big sister.  Who lives life to his own tune both literally and figuratively. Who possesses a natural affection for animals. Who thinks nothing of scraped knees and bug bites. Who can go from serious to hysterically laughing with only a few well timed, funny noises made by his mother.

Arlo, you are my skinny legged, blue eyed, happiness.

Love,

M

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Everly and Arlo,

Just a small thought today. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that you exist- That all the cells of your body can be traced to your father and me. That your flesh came from my flesh. That those precious fingers and lips and eyelashes first grew within me. It seems beyond reason that such perfection could come from someone broken and imperfect.

I run my hands across the soft skin of your bellies and think of how complicated and mysterious the process of making another human being feels to me…so technical and holy that it should be well above my means.  Yet, here you are.

Whenever I doubt my own capabilities or find some part of myself ugly or flawed… I think of the tremendous thing I have been a part of. I dreamed of you and grew you and birthed you.  In your bones lives my strength. In your heart, my courage. And in your small arms, all the love I have ever known. No matter how I fail or fall in the days ahead, you have allowed me the chance to be a part of something pure and good in my life. Thank you for existing. Thank you for being mine.

I love you,

Mama

The Art of Eating Cheerios.

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It sounds silly, I know, but I love to watch my son eat cereal in the morning. I am amused by the way he carefully pulls the bowl full of milk and cheerios close to his body, lowers his spoon gently, and brings it to his mouth. He is measured, taking care not to spill a drop.

I think about his sister at this age, how I could never leave her alone with a meal such as this as it surely would have ended up across her tray and lap. But my Arlo, he is a conscientious little eater. He revels in the task of stabbing chicken with a fork or scooping yogurt onto his spoon. It is a process. Meal time is a pleasing ritual for him.

He will sit happily with a bowl of cereal in front of him for almost thirty minutes, chasing each little O around the bowl with his plastic utensil. And then, the grande finale… with eyes that flicker with anticipation, he will lift the bowl carefully to his lips and drink the remaining milk.

Lowering the bowl again, and milk dribbling from his chin, he never fails to smack his lips and let out an “Ahhhhh!”  (His father taught him this)

It’s a small, seemingly trivial event in the goings on of our day but it brings me so much joy to watch the care and attention he puts into savouring and enjoying a meal. If this was (and I suppose it is) an entry in his baby book, I would write

Arlo

You are 18 months old.  I sat backwards in a chair in our living room on Sunday morning and watched you eat your cereal for twenty minutes with such enjoyment. You savoured every bite, careful not to waste any of it. You have discovered how to find pleasure in the ordinary and in those moments, you are teaching me to do the same. I love these lessons and I love you. Milk mustaches forever.

Love,

Mama

Little Firsts: Autumn Leaf Pile

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

Your first introduction to an autumn leaf pile.  This is it, my babies. The pure. The free. The joy-inducing. The simple and profound.  This is what the good stuff in life looks like.

Love,

Mama

Letters to My Children

Ten of my greatest hopes for each you…

1. That your father and I instill in both of you a love of education and books and seeking knowledge. Read everything. Fill your head with philosophies and history and science. Education is one of the few things in life that can never be taken away from you.

2. Travel the world. Experience as many different countries and cultures as possible. Take every opportunity to go and do and see!

3. Seek out your passions. Grow them! Be they music, art, dance, sports… whatever! You are capable of reaching whatever goal you can dream up. Invest in yourself and your talents.

4. Do not be afraid to speak up when you feel something is unfair, unjust or harmful. We are all deserving of kindness. There is no cause or difference worthy of belittling or bullying others. Doing the right thing is not always the popular thing, but it will always be worth it.

5. I hope that one day you know what it feels like to love another person with all of your heart. Take your time (lots and lots of time!). Don’t rush into matters of the heart. Enjoy your youth and be carefree but when you’re ready, loving someone else faithfully and completely will be one of the greatest gifts of your life.

6. And along those same lines, I hope that you know what it feels like to be loved by another with all of their heart. When you do fall in love, make sure that person is willing to give the same to you. You are worth the effort. True love is an equal partnership.

7. May your heartbreaks in life be minimal. They will happen. And they can feel so consuming and paralyzing but know that they are part of your story. The hurt will shape you and it will make you a wiser, better person. Sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is allow yourself to be vulnerable.

8. Have a group of friends who will be loyal and encouraging. Over the course of your life you will hold so many different friendships - some of them good and some of them detrimental. Don’t waste time on anyone who is not good to you. Let the lessons from all of these relationships allow you to build a circle of friends who will always be there to stand with you in the highest and lowest moments of your life.

9.  No matter what happens to you, remember that your father and I are here to care for you and guide you and support you. Even if we disagree with you, don’t ever be afraid to come to us for help. We may not always have the answer or the means, but we’ll be in it together. Our love for you is without limits or conditions and it will always be that way.

10. And lastly, the most important hope of all. Never forget that faith in and love for Jesus Christ is all you need. Above the love of a partner, the friendship of your peers, even your family. Let Him be the north star that guides your life.

When I think of your future, my mama heart can barely contain the hope it holds for you. You are so small now, but the days are moving fast and I am taking every opportunity to be purposeful and open about my dreams for you. But these words are just that … my dreams… merely a launching pad for the possibilities of your life. Who will you become? What will you achieve? Only time will reveal those things. I am certain that the very best thing I will ever do in my life has already begun. In whatever you accomplish, you will be my greatest legacy.

Love,

mama

Letters to Arlo.

Dear Arlo,

I was reading a beautiful story by another blogger last week when I was stopped abruptly by these words:

"God makes children so specifically for us, each of them." ~Arianna Segerman

It called on me to sit down and write this to you. Before you were born, I carried some assumptions about parenting. For one, that going through it once already meant I knew what I was doing. I took a lot for granted. My babies would be completely healthy. My babies would eat and sleep and do what all the best babies do.

And you were ten days old when I realized that I was completely wrong. We spent the next six months of your life being told that things weren’t right. We didn’t sleep. You cried and I cried. You were diagnosed with five different conditions, some minor some major. We learned pretty quickly that we needed to make big adjustments to our attitude and our way of life. During all of this, I spent a lot of time rationalizing things with God. I asked him why my son had to deal with these things. What had I done to cause this? I found one thousand different ways to blame myself for your troubles.

One day, as I sometimes do, I scrolled back through my blog and landed on a letter I had written to you before you were born. These were my words:

"Sometimes I sit quietly with my hands on either side of my belly and feel you move. I feel the hardness of your little hands and feet as you push against me and I am overcome with peace. Your presence there inside me, envelops me head to toe with the deepest of faiths. In the same way in which I have learned to follow God, In the way I have learned to make a life with your father, In the way I have learned to care for your sister - with that same faith I will trust you to come into this world in your own individual way.

And I will keep brushing away the preconceived notions of who you will be - those unfounded comments on what I should expect - because I feel you speaking to me already. And with every roll of my belly, you say to me “I am here, becoming. And I will be the exact boy you need in your life, mama. No more or no less”

Without knowing it at the time, I was writing to my future self, sending words that she would find when her baby boy was 5 months old. They were written, somewhat naively, but with conviction and when I found them again, they settled down on me like a thick sweater. I read them over and over, getting comfortable with the realization that you are the exact boy, the only boy, that could grow my soul and teach my heart. From your unexpected addition to our family, to your beautiful birth and the ups and downs of the months since-  I am constantly reminded that God handpicked you as my son.  He chose perfectly, but then again, He always does.

God knew I could use a little humility. God knew our family could use a little magic. And so he created a son for us who could give both. While I wish you never had to deal with any of these physical challenges for even a day, I have learned to marvel at your ability to be slowed by nothing. You are a force, little boy!

I was right, you know, when I wrote those words to you. I knew it then and you’ve proven it now. You will always be the exact boy I need in my life. No more and no less.

Love,

Mama

Letters to Arlo, on the Eve of your Sixth Month.

Dear Arlo,

You are six months old tomorrow and I am listening to the playlist I made for the night you were born. I remember carefully listening to each song, balancing the laptop over my big belly and trying to pick just the right mix of music to welcome you into the world. As I write this, in between lilty lyrics and pretty choruses , flashes of our first meeting play out in my head. I remember your tiny fingers outstretched, my hair wet and clingy to my shoulders, and the back-lit shape of your father’s lips saying “Hello son”.

The night you were born was one of the best of my entire life. Bringing you into this world made me believe that I really can do anything and it solidified the creeping suspicion in my heart that the reason God put me on this earth was to be a mother. With you in one arm, and Everly in the other, I looked down at you both and felt for the first time that I had my answers. There was no more wondering who I would become or what my legacy would be. I was made to nurture and love you and I will spend the rest of my life doing it to the best of my ability.

Your first six months of life have not been without their challenges. Together we have battled many episodes of severe reflux. We have searched for answers in test after test at the offices of various specialists (A Radiologist, Cardiologist, Urologist, and two Opthalmologists to be exact). We have tried to make sense of conditions that we never anticipated. Despite these things, you are a healthy, vibrant, little boy. Everyone is constantly commenting on how strong, happy and sweet natured you are.

Next month you have your first surgery to start correcting some of your health problems- I get frightened when I think about them putting you to sleep but God has been quieting my fears. Whenever the worry creeps in, I hear Him call on my heart “I have big plans for this small boy” and I believe with everything inside of me that he will watch over you and help guide us through these surgeries.

Arlo, I know that what lies ahead of you is so great that my heart nearly burst with anticipation for your future. There is an indescribable wonderness to your spirit. I try daily to put words around it - your father and I have had countless conversations on how there is just something about you - inside you - radiating out and all over us. A tangible peace. A soulful joy. I look forward to the day the whole world can see and feel and know the plans God is whispering in our ears about you.

These days, I watch as you are putting together what you know of the world. Yesterday you army crawled and rolled across the rug in the living room to get to a little sliver of sunlight that was shining down. You studied it so intently, batting your chubby fingers in the white light in an attempt to touch it. At night when you are close to sleep, you run your fingertips down the palm of my hands and over the length of my fingers as I turn them over for you again and again. It has become our ritual, the familiar warmth of my body curled around yours, our hands turning over in one another’s, as you ever so slowly fall away to dream.

You are my night owl. My morning bird. Wise, wondrous, Magical. I could have never imagined how much you could teach me about patience, and perspective and having faith in what lies ahead. Because of you, I will never look at a full moon the same way again. Whenever I see one in the night sky, I think of the night you were born - its yellow glow there with us as we met you for the first time. I think of your little round face, your beaming spirit, and the brilliant path that God is illuminating for our family.

Happy six months, my baby.

The biggest love,

Mama

Letters to Arlo.

Dear Son,

There is no doubt that you are a mama’s boy. I seem to be the only one you want when you need to be soothed or cuddled… but when it comes to who is best at getting you to flash that gummy smile, your daddy wins every time.

Love,

Mama

Letters to Arlo.
My magical little boy,
You’ve been handed a crummy card with this reflux business. It creeps into your peaceful sleep and down upon your mellow attitude like a poisonous snake. When I watch your little face scrunch up in discomfort and your body twist in pain, it’s like a knife to my heart. The distinct pitch of your shrieking cry when reflux bares down on you is the only part of this experience that I hope to one day forget. Despite this, I am awed daily by the gentleness of your soul and the way everyone who meets you seems to be washed in the harmony of your spirit.
I spend so much time lately propping you up on my knees and watching the daylight through the windows reflect in your ocean colored eyes. Sometimes you smile in your sleep and I’m certain the bursting of my heart is audible to anyone standing close by. I whisper in your ear that I love you and tell you all the ways that we belong to one another and hope that I am a part of whatever is making you smile in your dreams.
Love,
Mama

Letters to Arlo.

My magical little boy,

You’ve been handed a crummy card with this reflux business. It creeps into your peaceful sleep and down upon your mellow attitude like a poisonous snake. When I watch your little face scrunch up in discomfort and your body twist in pain, it’s like a knife to my heart. The distinct pitch of your shrieking cry when reflux bares down on you is the only part of this experience that I hope to one day forget. Despite this, I am awed daily by the gentleness of your soul and the way everyone who meets you seems to be washed in the harmony of your spirit.

I spend so much time lately propping you up on my knees and watching the daylight through the windows reflect in your ocean colored eyes. Sometimes you smile in your sleep and I’m certain the bursting of my heart is audible to anyone standing close by. I whisper in your ear that I love you and tell you all the ways that we belong to one another and hope that I am a part of whatever is making you smile in your dreams.

Love,

Mama

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