Well you did it! You have officially made it into toddler-ville. You’re a walking, talking little human with all your own opinions and you have your daddy and I wrapped around your little finger.
I’ll never know.
You are the baby in the family and that is plain for anyone to see. You get away with practically everything because your daddy and I think it’s so cute I figure you have a few more months until it starts to get obnoxious, so enjoy it while you can you little stinker.
You are such a great talker and you remind me so much of your big sister. Not just in looks, which by the way you guys look a LOT alike, but also with your words. You started talking early and you have such a big vocabulary for your age. You also are so great at remembering words to songs. It kind of amazes me.
You are different though. Your hair, though still blonde, is growing darker and your eyes are turning greener. You also seem to be more introverted than your siblings. You prefer the company of small groups and don’t enjoy large crowds or people messing with you. You want to be the one that approaches them, not the other way around.
Here’s the deal though, you have a tendency to be kind of grumpy. We like to call you the Grumpy Dwarf because you have this look… it looks like this:
You pretty much give it to everyone when they talk to you (although you’re getting better). We’re trying to adjust it by telling you to “change your face and smile” which you oblige us with most of the time. I know it’s horrible, but I love your mean face
Your favorite thing to do is play on the iPad and watch Barney. You also love cars and throwing the ball or a balloon around. But let’s be real, you really want to do whatever your big brother or sister are doing at the moment. The blessing and curse of being the youngest. The good thing is you have a fabulous brother and sister to look up to.
Your newest thing is when we are in the car, you give us a running commentary of every vehicle you see: CAR! MOTOKYKLE! AIRPANE! TUCK! BUSSSS! CAR! CAR! CAR!
I have to say, it’s kind of annoying, but your daddy thinks it’s SO cute
My little man, if I tried to describe how much you mean to me my mind would go into overload and meltdown. When I see you toddle into a room, always carrying something in your tiny, but growing hand, my heart is flooded with more love than I ever thought possible.
Every phase you go through, I cherish it a bit more because you’re our last. No more first steps, no more first words, you’ve left the baby stage far behind and it’s bittersweet. I do let you toddle around with your paci more than I did with the other two because I want you to stay my baby just a smidge longer (it’s the little things).
I’m so privileged to be your momma. To comfort you through every scrape and bruise, to laugh at every silly thing you do, to love on you when your feelings are hurt, to shepherd you to smile and not frown, to watch you grow into the amazing man of God I know you’re destined to become.
Your life is going to be a testimony of healing, I just know it. Your name means courage to heal the generations and I know you will build bridges in places no one thought possible.
But in all you do, remember one thing:
Momma loves you.
It’s been six years since you first opened your little eyes in this strange world and with screams of protest announced to us that Lyric Hallel Katrine was here ready to transform our lives.
I was a twenty-three year old baby when I held you that night and stared into your deep blue eyes. I remember feeling a deep seeded doubt at my abilities as I had never been extremely maternal. The fun aunt, absolutely, but the nurturer? I had no idea if I could be all that you needed me to be, but I knew I would be willing to give up my life trying.
The funny thing is we grew together. Each milestone you made I was reaching my own. You and I maneuvered the ups and downs like a buoy in the waves, clinging to each other for affirmation and acceptance.
All the while I was determined to be the best for you because you didn’t ask to be born and you could not control who was your mother, but I wanted you to be proud of me. To look back on your childhood with memories dancing in your eyes and a smile playing on your lips.
I am who I am today because of you. Because you showed me that cuddles and kisses and tickles and whispers can be evoked so genuinely from my heart. A heart that I once doubted ever had the capacity to love fully and deeply. You’ve exposed a sensitive and emotional part of me that I did not know was there, but can now never be lost again because with you and your brothers, I have a part of my heart now living outside of me.
I can’t look at you without smiling, I can’t describe how proud I am of you without my eyes stinging with tears.
You are everything I ever wanted in a daughter. You are thoughtful and intelligent. You are beautiful and kind. You love with every fiber of your being and your curiosity and thirst for knowledge echoes something in my own soul.
You have a defined sense of right and wrong and the rules are NOT made to be broken because you have asked the questions to understand why the rules were put in place.
I love to laugh with you and how every night you won’t go to sleep without your lullaby.
I love how no matter what pants we buy, you always show a little too much derrière.
I love how caring you are to your brothers and how I laugh every time I hear you threaten to put them in time out. You definitely think you are old enough to do so because in your own words “I don’t know why, but I just feel like I am the boss.”
Your observations on the world around you is so unique and finely crafted that I love to hear your opinion on things because it is always so funny. We talk about current events and social stigmas. I explain everything truthfully to you no matter what you ask. You’ve caused me to really think about the things I believe in because to explain them to an innocent mind I want to do so in a way that does not paint any of my own life experience, bias or prejudice in order to give you an open minded response and allow you to develop your own opinions.
You’re obsessed with horses to the max. You have a stick horse that you ride throughout the day and you set up jumps in the hallway. Even if you don’t have your stick horse, you canter every where you go. For your birthday, your Vandeput family all chipped in and we got you horse back riding lessons. The word excited could not begin to express how happy you are about your upcoming lessons!
You speak French fluently and it makes me so proud to see you switching between languages with such ease and confidence. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, I think you’re a genius! You learned how to read in English and you are doing such an incredible job. I have no idea how a six year old learns two languages at the same time, but you are amazing and astound me!
Your best friend is still your cousin Madysen who moved back to Texas about six months ago. This has been a very hard transition for you, but you are a champ.
You also love your American Girl doll Stevie who you got for Christmas. She goes every where with you and feeds your imagination.
I could go on and on because you are such a treasure to your daddy and me. You are one of the greatest joys of my life and our relationship gives me confidence that we really can have one of those mother/daughter relationships that I want so desperately to have with you. We can be that mother and daughter who love and respect each other, always giving room for the other’s voice, but respecting the roles we were born with.
My beautiful daughter, this is what I promise you: I promise to listen. Not just to the words that come out of your mouth, but also to the words unspoken. There will be times when words can’t express a pain so deep that only tears and sobs soothe your soul. There will be time you feel angry and lash out to wound, when you’re insecure and are trying desperately to be strong, when you are sad and can’t find words to speak, when you are depressed and struggle to get out of bed, when you are so happy that you can’t stop giggling, when you are overwhelmed with gratefulness and feel content. Life is a constant barrage of emotions. Some are easy to process and some feel impossible to express. I want you to always know that I’ll always be there to hold you close and speak peace or fun or love or encouragement to your heart with momma’s whispers. From the mountain to the valley, I am here and we’ll walk through this life together.
I love you my sweet beautiful stinky-face,
So on my birthday I made a few resolves that I was going to accomplish before I turned 30. Being that March 14th is my half birthday I figured I should do a progress check to see where I’m at in reaching my before 30 goal list.
Just in case you don’t want to click on the link, Ill go ahead and recap the goals for you (yes, I’m awesomely sweet like that)
1. Finish my first novel
2. Have basic fluency in French
3. Bring an income from writing
4. Go to Disney World with my extended family
5. Enjoy the now
6. Go on more dates
7. Get rid of my belly fat (I added this one)
So here is an update towards my goal
1. I’ve started and stopped two books and just started on my third one. I really like my latest story and have been knocking out my word count. I’ve decided no matter what, I’m finishing this one. Even if it turns out dumb, it will be a dumb completed novel.
2. I’m still working on this! I’m in language school a few times a week. I had to stop the intensive one because of finances, but I was blessed to get a really awesome teacher who I’ve been learning a lot from. I’m well on my way and am really getting there. I am conversational in comprehension for sure, it’s just getting to the point where I can speak back in full, complete sentences is what I’m working on.
3. The beginning of the year brought some copywriting contracts that allowed me to put a deposit down on some 30th birthday fun as well as tickets for a trip back to Texas for Lyric and I next month. I haven’t had any else since then, but I’m hopeful! In other news I have a literary internship with an agency in the states doing reading and editing so that has been fun!
4. Ya, I’m no where near this, but it was a WISH not a goal, so I’m okay if it doesn’t magically happen.
5. I think I’ve really embraced this. I’ve settled into all the changes that have been happening for us in the ministry and personally and embracing it all with an open heart. I’ve been really enjoying my kids and this new stage of not really being in baby mode. I got a new life planner and each morning I sit down and write my goals for the day. That way they are realistic for the mood I’m in
6. Aww yeah! We’ve been doing dates every other week, which for us is about as much as we can do, but it’s been a lot of fun and really nice to get away just us two.
7. This has been a goal that I’ve had since Valor was born almost two years ago. I haven’t done much about it besides a failed attempt at the 30 Day Shred last summer. WELL I gained about 10 pounds over the holidays and those dang 10lbs do not want to naturally go away. So for the last week I’ve been dieting and exercising. It’s been really tough and I haven’t seen much results, but I am determined to welcome 30 with a flat stomach. I don’t need a six pack, I just want the muffin top to melt away.
But let’s be real, my real goal is… well… I think Michael Scott says it best:
We’ve had a lot of baby talk the last few months. Should we have a fourth? Are we done having kids? Should we sell the baby crib? Is this really going to be the last time we are in the “baby stage”? Should I give away all the baby clothes?
Although with all certainty we have decided to not have any more biological children, making the final decision has brought this fact home in a way I wasn’t quite expecting.
Part of me is excited that we are moving forward. It’s time to start stretching my legs and remembering who I am outside of poopy diapers and midnight feedings. To reconnect with my husband as a fun loving, energetic couple instead of sleep deprived zombies who haven’t had a night without the kids in months. To focus on parenting not just living in the now.
But then part of me is scared as being in “baby birthing years” is a great excuse as to why you are not achieving your goals. As I’m preparing to potty train Valor this summer and he starts preschool two days a week this Fall, a forced reassessment and accountability is going to come on me fast and for the first time in almost seven years I will have more time for myself.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it all, but I know that I was made for awesome things and my mark on this world has not even begun to be made.
So in my sentimental moments, I found a bunch of pictures of me with my kids and put a slideshow together to the song I sing them all the time.
Warning, you’re not going to want to watch it all the way through, but I just wanted to memorialize this feeling of deep gratefulness towards my baby birthing years.
Going through this time of having three kids so close together, I found myself.
With my soul laid bare by my own insecurities, yet full of hope for all I wanted to be, I embarked on this journey of bringing three amazing, wide eyed, blonde headed beauties into this world. Although our journey together has only just begun and we continue to have milestone after milestone ahead of us, I will miss their sweet coo’s from the crib. Hearing the baby giggles that start in their belly and spill over like little bubbles. The look of concentration when they try to grab something, but their arms aren’t coordinated enough to quite grasp it. Nursing them in the early morning hours, rocking back and forth in a slow and steady rhythm. Holding out my hands as I urged them to walk. The excitement of their first word. Their chubby little arms when they reached out for me. Feeling their warm breath as they drifted off to sleep on my chest.
Life is beautiful.
My dearest boy,
Today you turn four years old.
I’m writing this while watching you push two cars around the floor. Thanks to the power of your imagination, both matchbox cars have become transformers who are now battling it out over the fate of the world. Watching you play always fills me with such an overwhelming gratitude for you. I wish I could express how much I love you besides saying “I LOVE YOU!” a million times a day, but it’s all I can do. My love for you has no words.
You are the most flexible of all your siblings. You can play happily all day with a few cars or a stick or really anything. I love how your eyes sparkle and you give me a little smirk when I hand you something and create an imaginary use for it. Like I give you a bucket and tell you that it’s a treasure chest and you’re a pirate and you need to find treasure to put in it. Or when I give you some blocks and tell you to build me a tower as high as the moon. You love a challenge and a purpose. You want the things you do to have a result at the end.
You’re also my most outgoing child. You talk to almost anyone and I can now say that at four years old, even strangers can understand you (for the most part). You took awhile learning how to enunciate and pronounce your words, but about six months ago you took a huge leap and have been amazing us with your language skills ever since. You still don’t speak French, but I think it will be the same as with English. You’re in school about three days a week and it’s all in French, so obviously you’re learning. I’m confidant that you’ll let us know when you’re ready to speak and until then, we won’t pressure you. You are very brave and there are not many things that intimidate you as your confidence is solid.
Another funny trait that you’ve picked up in the last few months is you have become a major hand talker with extremely dramatic facial expressions to go along with it. When you need to tell me something serious, it is almost impossible to keep the smile off my face. Even when you do something wrong and come to confess, I normally can’t help but laugh. You’re just so dang cute!
But it’s not all roses, the most annoying thing you do right now is you’re still at four years old, not completely poop trained. One day, one… day….
You crave affirmation and when people speak negatively over you, it really affects you. Because of this, every single day we affirm you and the wonderful qualities that you possess. We tell you how smart you are, how strong you are, what a great brother you are, how much we love you, how proud we are of you and so much more. When we speak these words over you, your entire posture changes. You delight in our delight. I love it!
You’ve always been such a big boy and that trend doesn’t look like it’s changing any time soon. You’re the biggest kid in your class by far and for the last 3 months have been wearing size 12 shoes and size 5 (not 5T but 5 big kid size) in clothes. You’re just a few inches short of Lyric who is tall for her age as well. If little boys are anything like puppies, then by the size of your paws you’re going to be one big guy
Shiloh you are such an incredible joy to me and your daddy. You bring an infectious happiness and joie de vivre, which spreads to anyone you meet. You love people and want them to be happy. You have such a tender heart and my greatest goal is to guard that heart of yours as long as I can. You have challenged me more than I ever thought possible and I don’t say that negatively. You have caused me to question my parenting and push me to realize that each of my children needs something different from me. The things you need from me are different than Lyric or Valor. You need a funny momma, a cheerleader, someone to tell you how handsome and brave you are. You need me to hold you when you fall down, but then to whisper in your ear “try it again.” You need a momma to remind you not to react out of anger, but to use your words if you’re feeling angry or frustrated. You need me to acknowledge the things you work hard on and gush and gush about it to everyone I see that day. You don’t need me to hover, but you need me to keep a watchful eye.
Just looking at you, my precious boy, I feel like I’m suffocating with love and pride. What I did to deserve you I will never know, but I promise to raise you the best I know how. We’ll figure this life out together.
Momma loves you.