Feathered Aspen


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Lily, Lu, and the first bit of the year…

Oh, hello! ¬†It’s me again, Ellie, and it’s kind of nice that Joshua has kept you up to date, so all I need to do is share the fun stuff ūüôā

2016 has already brought in quite a bit of change, and though January is the longest month of the year (I swear it is), we’re so thankful for its gifts.

As most of you know by now, Lily got in the school of our dreams, and this fact alone counts as one of the best strokes of luck we’ve had yet. ¬†It’s such a relief to know that Lily is going to a place that holds and encourages the same values we share, and even better that now our other kiddos get to circumnavigate the harrowing experience of school choice, lotteries, etc. ¬†I could go on and on, but it comes down to this: ¬†though we are blessed with family and friends, I’ve often felt we are parenting alone, and I mean that in the sense of both community and lifestyle. ¬†With this school, I finally feel like we’re connected to a group of families and vision that resonates with us. ¬†This might seem like a weird analogy, but whereas we had hoped to find this at church (and didn’t), I am so hopeful and already see so many indicators that this is the place.

Initially, Lily enrolled for five full days a week, which was the spot that was available. ¬†That first week, she attended every day, and though it was good, when I heard that there was a Tuesday/Thursday spot open, I leapt to take it. ¬†Not only is the tuition much more manageable now, but I also wanted to tip the balances back toward the home. ¬†I’m so grateful that now I get to have Lily most of the week, and she also gets to participate in a larger community and start engaging as an individual. ¬†This schedule just feels like the perfect gradual release. ¬†Some day, she’ll attend school five full days a week, but for now, she’s three and we’re enjoying this special time at home.

Ok, so I am going to go on (and on). ¬†One of the other things that has really just exploded since enrolling Lily into school is her creative and independent play! ¬†Oh my goodness. ¬†It’s insane. ¬†I know it seems crazy that even just after two days at her school, I could see a huge difference, but it’s true. ¬†Her storytelling has gotten more complex and she can sustain 30+ minute stories often. ¬†She regularly disappears into her room or some corner of the house with her art supplies or toys that she’s self selected and then proceeds to play, thoroughly engaged, without prompting. ¬†Just today, we went to the playground after school, and she sat down in the sand and built four little ‘bear caves’ (they were pretty good!) and then started telling me all about this family of bears that lived ‘before there were humans.’ ¬†It used to be that Lily would encounter the blank canvas of the playground or our home (not really blank, but let’s roll with the metaphor) and desperately need the engagement and guidance of an adult to help her figure out what to do and how she was going to play. ¬†Now, I feel like some barrier has lifted. ¬†One thing I really notice is almost a trance-like state as she’s imagining her world, story, game, art. ¬†It’s like she’s tapped into another plane.

Which I know makes me sound like I’m really reading into this, but there you have it.

So Lily is doing quite well. ¬†On days that she’s not in school, we try to get outside as much as possible. ¬†We’ve gone sledding a couple of times, and the weather has even allowed a number of playground trips in just our sweaters. ¬†We’ve hit the Children’s Museum and the Art Museum as well, but to be honest, January has got us closer to home. ¬†This doesn’t make a lot of sense given the cabin fever we’ve (me? ¬†Yeah, maybe it’s just me.) been feeling, but I guess we’re full on contradictions ūüėČ

We’ve made friends with another family and we try to get together with them once a week for playdates. ¬†Their girls are the same ages as Lily and Lu, and the older two get along especially well, so it’s always a treat to hang out with them. ¬†For whatever reason, connecting with other families and getting a pleasant, regular playdate together has been challenging for me in the past year and a half since I’ve been staying home. ¬†I know I’ve mentioned this here before. ¬†I attended meet ups and arranged play dates. ¬†I showed up at the same locations week after week after week, hoping to become part of the scenery and the communities that form around story times at libraries, the play areas at the art museum, or the sidelines of the Children’s Museum. ¬†For a long while, I made the resolution to strike up conversations with anyone who seemed willing, thinking that if I just kept showing up, kept talking, it would happen. ¬†Does this make me sound desperate? ¬†Cuz yeah, I felt a little desperate. ¬†For mom fellowship, for someone for Lily to play with.

Last year, there were stretches of time when we’d spend time with another family and have those regular playdates, but rather than growing our community, we saw more of an ebb and flow, revolving door scenario. ¬†Schedules would change and we would be back in the same spot, looking for our people.

Though I’ve felt a little dislocated in the past, I’m starting to think that this isn’t personal. ¬†The ages, gender, and number of children makes a difference. ¬†Schedules make a difference. ¬†Sadly, I suspect our world is not really designed to foster long term, meaningful friendships. ¬†Which is not to say that I’m not still trying. ¬†Which is not to say that when I see a group of moms laughing, their kids tearing it up, that I’m not completely green with envy.

Anyway. ¬†Our schedule is changing! ¬†And though I can’t say I found the answer, at least our perspective is changing and good things are on the horizon. ¬†Families at Lily’s school are warm and quirky, and for now, our playdates with this other family are really, really nice, and I’m feeling so thankful.

Now for Lu! ¬†Lu is growing up, you guys! ¬†It’s throwing me for a bit of a tailspin. ¬†I mean, didn’t I just give birth to her? ¬†I’m sort of in denial that she’s a year old, much less closer to two than she is one. ¬†I think part of the reason I can keep that fantasy going is because she’s such a little peanut. ¬†She really still looks like a baby to me, and her 12 month clothes still fit her pretty well. ¬†She’s also still a HUGE mama’s girl. ¬†She loves to be held, she loves to snuggle, and she is just so darn affectionate. ¬†Some mornings, I go crazy with all the begging to be held, but I keep reminding myself to snatch those snuggles while I can.

Despite the denial surrounding my youngest’s advancing age (haha), there are a few telltale signs that she’s growing up:

1. Weaning. ¬†Oh dear. ¬†I’m one of those mamas that would happily nurse their babies until three… ¬†Yes, I know that disturbs all of you. ¬†But I love nursing. ¬†It’s a good break, great snuggles, and so special to know that you’re providing something so healthful and beneficial. ¬†And it melts calories, but that’s a pretty vain reason ūüôā ūüôā ¬†I love knowing that I’m giving my girls immunity, a healthy gut, and a special bonding experience. ¬†After those first five weeks with Lily (which were hellish), I’ve had a primarily love/love/love relationship with nursing. ¬†I love it, my girls loved it, and it loved me. ¬†So dear nursing, thanks for everything. ¬†We’re so grateful!!!

So how is it with all that love that Lu and I have not nursed in nine days? ¬†Well, I’ll tell you. ¬†I want another baby, and there were some essential ingredients missing, even after dropping down to nursing just twice a day. ¬†So here’s hoping that this does the trick ūüėČ

Lu is doing well. ¬†She was upset the first night, but already on the next morning, she cried just a little bit and then seemed to understand that we were done. ¬†She’s pretty handsy just like Lily was, but she’s doing way better than I could have predicted. ¬†Her appetite has also exploded. ¬†She eats more than I do some days. ¬†I probably shouldn’t have let her, but yesterday she ate an entire bag of frozen blueberries all by herself. ¬†So yeah. ¬†Her love for blueberries is voracious, and I’m not winning mom of the year.

Weaning has also meant that Lu is sleeping much longer before she’s comes to our bed. ¬†And getting her down is easier. ¬†She falls asleep in less than ten minutes, and most nights, she sleeps from 7:30 – 3 before she wakes up and wants to snuggle with me. ¬†(Just in case you’re wondering, this is way better than her older sister who never sleeps for more than 4 hours without waking up, sobbing, begging for snuggles.) ¬†That’s the other news in the family. ¬†We now officially have two bedrooms. ¬†We put the girls down at 730 (earlier bedtime for school and because Lily is completely done with naps) in their bunks. ¬†We lay with them until they fall asleep, which is usually about 10 minutes or so. ¬†When Lily wakes up, Joshua goes and lays with her, sometimes finding a way to come back to our bed after a while, and sometimes just spending the rest of the night with her… ¬†So. ¬†Not really winning over here, but making progress all the same. ¬†When Lu wakes up, Joshua is usually already in their room, so he brings her to me, which is superhero status.

2. ¬†So Lu is still pretty quiet. ¬†She’s not a big talker, but she is getting more words. ¬†I was thinking I should write down as many of them as I can here, because it’s fun to look back and see a similar post for Lily. ¬†I will say that she understands A LOT more than she can say.

she says: ¬†Mama, Dada,¬†sister’s name, didee (diaper), poop, boot, more, mine, woof, bloob (blueberries), shoe, Oscar, boob, water, cheese, please, thank you, no, hot, cold, hi, up

she signs:  all done, water, more, please, thank you, bye

There’s more to update, but I’m going to post this for now. ¬†Dinnertime!


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Week of 1/18 & 1/25

4:51 Am РHell yes!  Snow day!

The girls are still sleeping away and likely will be for the next few hours. ¬†I’ve got my coffee and bananas here. ¬†Outside, the world is covered in a blanket of snow. All night I kept looking out the window thinking to myself and pumping my fists “snow day, snow day, snow day.”

Time to write a bit.

The past two weeks have had their ups and downs. ¬†The biggest down was getting hit with yet another stomach flu bug last Tuesday. ¬†I barely made it out of my classroom before filling a trashcan with chunks. ¬†Ugh. ¬†I spent the next two days knocked out again. ¬†Both Ellie and Lu got it again too. ¬†Lily, the only one in the family to get her flu shot, escaped again. (How’s that for anecdotal evidence?!) ¬†We spent the rest of the week recovering and getting our GI tracks back in order.

Last week also marked the beginning of Lily attending her new school.  She was a bit anxious the first two days and would cry about not wanting to go.  Really, I think she was worried about not getting to spend time with Ellie and Lu.  InIMG_1697 terms of the school though, she loved it.  This was her when she came home on Monday and I asked her how school went.

In the welcome and orientation packet to her school, they warn not to expect (or really ask) your child to talk at length about their day and what they did. ¬†That impulse is a grown up response. ¬†Kids, especially, three and four year olds tend to live in the present. ¬†Their minds are on whats in front of them. ¬†They don’t have the same capacity and desire as we do to recount what they’ve been doing. ¬†Instead, the school asks parents to be attuned to the ways that school emerges during unexpected times like when a child might sing a school song in the bath tub or talk about an art project when drawing.

This totally makes sense. ¬†Last fall we sent Lily to a lackluster ECE school in DPS. At the time, I didn’t think about it this way and would pepper her with questions which she’d never answer. ¬†As you may recall, we ended up pulling her out of that school after two weeks or so. ¬†Upon reflection now, its interesting that those “moments” of school, as her new school calls them, never really emerged at home. ¬†What she was doing there, never really seemed to affect or influence her actions or thoughts at home. ¬†In the end, we pulled her out because the driving was a bit much, the food they gave her was wretched, and they often sent her home with branded corporate material. ¬†At the time, we decided that she was still young, and the sacrifices weren’t worth sending her to a mediocre DPS school. ¬†Plus Ellie is home.

Its striking now to seem how much of an impact her new school is now having only after four days! ¬†She was generally in a great mood all week. ¬†At home, her creative play has been off the charts. ¬†She spent all week drawing, cutting paper, gluing, painting, and putting up art installations (seriously, she took almost an hour on Saturday to create an art work on our refrigerator that went way beyond just hanging a picture.) ¬†At school yesterday, I opened my backpack to find another piece¬†she wanted me to take to work. ¬†She has also been singing a lot too. ¬†She hums or rambles words to herself. ¬†She will also sing to me if I ask here. ¬†“Lily, can you sing me a song?” ¬†“Sure daddy-o, which one do you want. ¬†I have 6 mermaid songs.”

Part of the school’s no media policy encourages families to cut out the radio and music in addition to screens. ¬†At first, I was a bit saddened. ¬†I always have music playing in our home. ¬†However, with music playing, it discourages you from making your own and using your own creative outlets. ¬†And, now seeing how much she has been singing in the past week, I get it. ¬†I’ve set the goal to not play the radio in the car with her (that’s also nice too so we can talk.) ¬†I’m going to try to reduce the music I play at home too. I don’t think I can give it up entirely though. ¬†And, it has me thinking that maybe I should pick up the guitar again soon too.

On a final note about Lily’s school, we’ve learned and been thinking a bit more about story telling. ¬†Ellie went to the parent meeting on Monday. ¬†There, the teacher told parents not worry much about reading to their kids, but instead to focus on story telling. ¬†Similar to music, books and stories can limit you to one thread or idea. ¬†They are also not created from within. ¬†Reading when older is essential to expanding our world and thus our creativity. At this age, the teacher argued, oral story telling is more impactful and age appropriate. ¬†Reading, she claimed, is better suited for older children.

Again, I had the same reaction as I did with the music. ¬†But, as I thought about it some more, and noticed this week how Lily, of her own accord, told me multiple stories, I think there is something to this as well. (Side note: when I was sick and laying in bed again this week, Lily¬†didn’t want to come with in three feet of me. ¬†Instead, she pulled up at chair at the end of my bed and told me a story about mountains and fuzzy animals for almost thirty minutes.) ¬†Humans are story tellers. ¬†Prior to written records, and I would argue still today, much of our culture is passed through oral tradition. ¬†Much of what we know about our families, how to cook, etc… we didn’t learn by reading, but instead through spoken word. ¬†Lily’s teacher encouraged parents to pick up and embrace this tradition. ¬†She urged parents to tell stories rather than read stories. ¬†She also encouraged those stories to be personal and based upon truth. ¬†Rather than begin a story with “once upon a time…” begin with “I remember when…” ¬†So, this week, we’ve been telling more stories and trying to create more of an oral tradition in our house. ¬†(I must also admit, the oral tradition strikes a nerve with that repressed Classics major in me. I nearly majored in Classics in college because I’m in love with and fascinated by ancient Greek culture, which was deeply imbued with and driven by oral traditions. ¬†I think I am going to start telling Lily some greek myths soon too.)

So yeah, we’re loving Lily’s new school. ¬†Another boon this week, Ellie was able to already switch around Lily’s schedule so she is going two days a week instead of four. ¬† This was always our preference for this age. ¬†It saves a big chunk of change and gives Lily more time with mom and sister. ¬†She’ll be full time soon enough (and when the school is free.)

So what else? ¬†In the past two weeks, we’ve continued to work on our home updates. ¬†The new table for the eating area is complete. ¬†I built it. ¬†Ellie finished it. ¬†This weekend, I also started building a bench for the eating area. ¬†This bench will be built into the half wall that divides our kitchen and living room. ¬†I’m building it to have lots of storage underneath and behind for all of our arts and crafts supplies. ¬†We’re hoping to have it finished this weekend. ¬†I’ll try to post some pictures then.

In other crafting news, Ellie has been inspired to start sewing children’s dolls. ¬†There’s a bit of an experiential and learning curve, but she’s really getting the knack for it. ¬†See what I mean? ¬†Its fun for me to see her excitedly crafting away. ¬†The girls love it too and have been helping out.

Work. ¬†Ugh. ¬†This year has really been a tough one. ¬†I just can’t seem to figure out the group of students that I have. ¬†So many of them constantly complain “this boring” or “I don’t want to do this.” ¬†At first, I always think its me. ¬†Is my lesson not engaging? ¬†Is it not relevant? ¬†Teach For America drilled the adage “what teacher actions led to those student actions” down our throats, and it still resonates with me. ¬†So, I’ve done A LOT¬†this year to make sure what I’m teaching is relevant and engaging as well as student centered. ¬†Yet, a large portion of my students, and not just in my class, refuse to do any work. ¬†They are adverse to reading or asking questions. ¬†When I probe deeper as to what would not be boring, they don’t really have an answer. ¬†When I ask what they do outside of school, they say video games, Facebook, snapchat. ¬†Ugh. ¬†It kills me how plugged in my students are. ¬†My bias is obvious, but I feel like media is stupefying¬†my students. ¬†They want flash and bang and ephemeral selfies. ¬†They don’t care about the war in Syria. ¬†Or the migration crisis. They had no clue what was happening in Iowa yesterday. They want to sit at home and play Fifa or shoot zombies.

I’m ranting I know. ¬†The truth is not all of my students are this way. ¬†In fact, I have many students who are doing very very well. ¬†I think its likely, that a good portion of my AP students will pass the test, and some may even earn 5’s (the highest score possible). ¬†I have many, many gems, but the ones I’m not reaching are the ones plaguing my thoughts. ¬†I posted grades yesterday. ¬†That’s why I’m feeling this way. For the ones plaguing me, its bleak.

This year, my school moved to an “incomplete” policy. ¬†In a nutshell, students don’t earn zeroes for work they don’t complete or turn in. ¬†Instead, they get an “incomplete.” They then have until the end of the year to make up or turn in that work. ¬†Yup. ¬†This means, I must accept and give full credit to an assignment from October that I receive in May. ¬†Ugh. ¬† The idea behind the policy was to give students more opportunity to pass their classes. ¬†There was concern that hard deadlines were the reason so many students were not on track to graduate. ¬†In general, I agree with this policy, and I have seen a good number of students use it to make up crucial assignments and keep on track to earn credit for first semester. ¬†However, the result that I am seeing now at the start of the second semester, particularly with my unmotivated freshman, is that they see no reason to do their work on time. ¬†I assigned a big research project on an ethnic conflict of students’ choosing. ¬†We worked for two weeks. ¬†The report was supposed to¬†culminate in a presentation to the class on their findings. ¬†Out of nearly forty groups, only 8 presented. ¬†The rest told me they would make it up. ¬†Ugh.

Additionally, we’ve¬†been encouraged not assign homework. ¬†Apparently in this day and age, students should not be expected to work outside of class. ¬†This is just one policy with which I really disagree. ¬†Colleges will give students boatloads of work to do on their own. I understand that the school day is long and students have lots on their plates at home. ¬†However, students should work and read on their own. ¬†Homework should be manageable and flexible. ¬†Our students are not in college yet, but at some point they¬†need to figure out how to work and read on their own. ¬†Thats how you learn! ¬†That’s what life is! ¬†That’s what happens in college! ¬†How can we be college preparatory and not expect students to work outside of class?

With these policies, there is now a culture amongst some of my students that it is unacceptable for a teacher to ask you to do homework. ¬†You shouldn’t have to do it. ¬†And hey, with the incomplete policy, we’ll I’ll just make it up another day.

Lately, I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall with these students and these policies. ¬†I really don’t know what to do. ¬†I wish administrators would examine the root of the problems stemming from the culture in which we live in. ¬†Our struggling students are checked out and tuned out. ¬†No new grading policy is going to fix it. ¬†We need to address the larger issues of why students check out. ¬†Why don’t they want to engage with the world?

So when I’m stressing about school, I’ve been running. ¬†I had a good stretch the week of 1/18. ¬†Last week the flu set me back a bit. ¬†Tappering down now this week and next to rest my legs up for my first race of the year. ¬†Over President’s day weekend we’ll be traveling out to Moab with our friends John and Kelsey and their kids. ¬†John and I will be running the Moab Red Hot 55k. ¬†I’m feeling pretty good lately and am looking forward to the early season race to test my fitness level (and the strength of my always troublesome IT bands).

Week of 1/18 Р11h 26m  59.2mi  7,818ft

Mon Р12.4mi  MLK day family jogger slogger and Tempo workout

Tues РOff running.  Strength training in gym (hips)

Wed – 5.8mi Easy commute home

Thur – 10.5mi Commute to work & Temp workout on track

Fri – 5.6mi Date run with Ellie

Sat – 24.7mi – Morrison Triple Crown: ¬†Linked up the summits of Green Mt., Mt. Morrison, and Mt. Falcon. ¬†Felt really good. I’ve been trying to adapt my body to burn fat on long runs, so I completed the entire run on a single zucchini muffin.

Sun – XT – Family Bike ride (10mi)

 

Week of 1/25 Р8h 17m  42.4mi   ~4500ft

Mon – Morning strength training (hips), then 5.1mi Sloan’s – Felt like crap. ¬†Think the flu was coming

Tue & Wed – off Flu

Thur – 6.1mi family jogger slogger

Fri – 8.0mi 6x Zenobia Hill repeats

Sat – 15.5 Green/Winters/Dino ridge with Will

Sun – 7.6mi – Snowy family jogger slogger (with eagle sighting!)

 

I wrapped up January then with 213 miles on the month. I was just shy of climbing 20,000ft.  And, I spent roughly 38hrs running.  I good start to the year!

What I’m reading and listening to.

51fn0md37nl-_sy344_bo1204203200_I finally finished listening to Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall. ¬†While I didn’t enjoy it as much as Born to Run, I thought the story was intriguing. ¬†McDougall
chronicles the Cretan resistance movement to the Nazi occupation during WWII. ¬†Throughout it he explores how the fighters we able to move and survive in the Cretan mountains while being starved out by the Germans. ¬† I found his portions on adapting one’s body to fat burning over carb burning to be the most interesting. ¬†He recounts numerous studies and stories of how fat is superior energy source to carbs a51wynjumagl-_sx354_bo1204203200_nd that conventional running wisdom has been out of touch for a very long time. ¬†In my experience this is definitely true. ¬†When I can keep my exertion level below an aerobic threshold, I can go for a long time. ¬†I’m curious to read more about the Maffetone method, read Tim Noakes¬†The Lore of Running, and really experiment on myself with how I can adapt my body as I train for another 100 miler.

 

Well, that’s the news from our little corner of Colorado, where all the women are crafty, all the men run far, and all the children are playing in the snow.

The past two weeks in pictures

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Our MLK day adventure searching for the magic tree that makes colors swirl.

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Daddy-o taking mama’s work out seriously

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Our own bedroom!  (Plus, great gifts from Ecuador.  Thank you Pietaris!)

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Bike riding

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Hot mama

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Snuggles with Grandma.

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Drawing with Nana

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Green Mountain in the pre-dawn light

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Running Dino Ridge

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Summit of Mt. Morrison

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Summit of Mt. Falcon

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What to do with short hair?

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Family day fun

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“I’m nursing my cat. ¬†mmmhaahaheee”

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And, then this one was weaned.  Sad mama.

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Lily’s emoji drawing

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Lily took these last two.  Very artistic shots huh?

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Eagle at Crown Hill

A call for comments:

Tell us one of your oral traditions. ¬†Start with “I remember when…”

What’s your opinion on media and education? ¬†Are screens stupefying today’s children?

 


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Happy New Years!

I love the New Year. ¬†I’m not sure that I would say it’s my favorite holiday – there needs to be a bit more tradition and food involved – but taking time to reflect on the year and make goals or intentions moving forward is definitely my jam.

It just so happens that yesterday our little Lu turned 18 months, so I’m feeling extra reflective about the milestones we’re hitting. ¬†It’s hard to believe that Lu only started walking a scant three months ago. ¬†She’s toddling all around the place these days, opening our cabinets and drawers, emptying them with methodic and persistent glee, and tagging along with her big sister. ¬†Just as with Lily, she still loves to be held and carried in the Ergo, so though she’s mobile, I’m still getting plenty of snuggles.

We night weaned on November 10, though I’ve not been terribly strict about early morning feedings. ¬†I’d much rather cave and nurse in bed in those early hours than wake up at 5 AM. ¬†Starting on Christmas Eve, when the girls spent the day with their Nana and Grumpy, I phased out daytime feedings as well, so now we’re down to early morning and just before bed. ¬†With all of our guests and the holidays, Lu would get a little upset and tug at my shirt, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I set her down for a proper nap sans nursing. ¬†There were many tears, and it brought back the same sadness I experienced weaning Lily. ¬†I find myself worrying that they won’t turn to me for comfort in the same way, that I won’t get nearly as many snuggles. ¬†For the moment, I don’t have a fully weaned deadline in mind, but we’re definitely on that path.

Lu has been cutting some teeth in the past month, and her favorite teething soother is frozen blueberries. ¬†She even attempts to say the word (which is a bit astonishing given how few words she has). ¬†She loves bananas, blueberries, clementines, rice, beans, and cheese (all the cheese, both of my girls). ¬†Though we’ve tried to give her milk, she’s not a big fan.

Our friends and family remark that Lu is a bit more shy and a “momma’s girl” compared to Lily at this age, and it’s probably true. ¬†I also think she’s more independent. ¬†She’s happy to explore things by herself. ¬†When she’s around her big sister, she’ll make exclamatory noises (screaming for fun, “no!” “uh oh”), but it’s not until her sister is in another room that she plays more with language. ¬†She can be quite quiet! ¬†She is also, admittedly, rarely interested in being held by anyone other than myself, though Joshua is a close second these days, and she’ll go to people with whom she is more familiar.

We’re picking up a few more signs, including ‘all done,’ ‘more,’ ‘please,’ ‘diaper,’ and ‘food.’ ¬†Verbal words include mama, dada, enri (!), poop, wa. ¬†She knows a ton of words, and she follow many requests, including retrieval of all sorts of things, pointing at body parts and different family members.

Dear Lu, it’s been such a year. ¬†It’s amazing to think you’ve been with us the whole time! ¬†From a lovely spring, to Minnesota, through a move, to Wyoming, Mexico, and then through the warm days of summer. ¬†This fall, we’ve settled into a groove. ¬†You’ve grown, beginning those forays of independence with plenty of curiosity and interest. ¬†I love you, little one.

As I write, Lily and Lu are off in the other room. ¬†I can’t hear them, but I know they’re playing. ¬†Probably creating a massive mess, but hey. ¬†I’m happy to clean up after them if they’re playing well together. ¬†Which is one of the things I’m most proud of when it comes to Lily. ¬†She is such a good big sister. ¬†She is loving, protective, and finally, finally, finally sharing so much better. ¬†She’s the mistress of taking turns, making trades, and these days, she’s even willing to wait people out. ¬†This doesn’t mean that we never have disagreements, but the improvement from this time last year to now is night and day.

Joshua and I remark nearly every day how grown up Lily is becoming. ¬†She is very articulate, a great conversationalist, and she shows so much interest in the people and things around her. ¬†I’m pleased to report that I’ve written down some of the funny things she’s said this week:

  1. I’m telling Lily about the New Year, and as I’m telling her that this year was 2015 and next year will be 2016, she says, “that’s a lot of macaroni and cheese!”
  2. We’re laying in bed, trying to fall asleep when Lily says, “I have an idea. ¬†If we don’t get a vanagon or a school bus, we could get a truck with skis on it. ¬†But if that’s too expensive, we could just go on an airplane ride.”
  3. On Christmas Eve, Lily is beside herself with excitement and worry over Santa. ¬†She hides her favorite present in my closet, worried that Santa might take it and give it to another kid. ¬†She’s babbling to herself, saying things like. ¬†“The stick is mine, but maybe Lu can have my camera. ¬†Or maybe daddy can have the stick and Lu can have the camera.” ¬†Then she pauses, shakes her head, and says, “the problem is the camera.”
  4. Joshua asks Lily what her favorite part of Christmas was, and she says, “The people. ¬†The conversations. ¬†The reading.” ¬†So, win. ¬†We win.
  5. In Taos, we were telling Lily what a wonderful big sister she is, and we were telling her that we think she’s ready to have another sibling (I’m not pregnant). ¬†Lily says, “yeah, I’m good at taking turns, and I can teach them to regulate their emotions!” ¬†I think she’s heard me quote her enough that now this phrase is a regular ūüôā

One of my favorite things that Lily does is sing to herself. ¬†She makes up songs about babies, fairies, and dogs. ¬†It’s very sweet. ¬†I also love how much she loves to read, though sometimes I grow weary of reading that many picture books! ¬†The sweetest thing is to come in the room and see the two of them sitting down with a pile of books, reading quietly.

As for me, I’m feeling good about having completed 4 of 6 pre-requisites for an accelerated nursing program. ¬†I’ve been reading a lot, and running a ton too. ¬†On Christmas Eve, Joshua and I ran 12 miles on trail, and though it was definitely a challenge, my fitness level is good enough that I can pick up and do something like that. ¬†Nordic skiing for three hours, though. ¬†That was HARD.

My best discoveries this year were: ¬†minimalism, podcasts, and mindfulness. ¬†Though I am by no means an expert in any of these arenas, I’m so pleased to be exploring them. ¬†During the first half of the year, Joshua and I got rid of more than half of all of our things. ¬†With Sarah, I ran two garage sales, and we gave away nearly 5 truckloads of things to the thrift store. ¬†Early this fall, I read Marie Kondo’s Magic Art of Tidying Up and did another comb through. ¬†Though I’m sure there are still things I could get rid of, I’m most pleased that the desire to acquire more things has abated. ¬†I used to always have a running list of things that I wanted, especially clothing. ¬†Now, my wardrobe is smaller than ever – everything fits in my small closet! – and I rarely feel the pull to buy anything new. ¬†Even my thrift shopping trips, which I still enjoy, are much more modest. ¬†I’ll come away with one or two items and promptly purge one or two items when I get home.

As for podcasts, I listened to my first one early in the year, and I haven’t stopped. ¬†My favorites are:

  1. The Lively Show (this was my introduction to podcasts)
  2. Serial (of course)
  3. On Being (this is my all time favorite podcast.  Krista Tippet can do no wrong.)
  4. Women of the Hour (a short 5 episode podcast by Lena Dunham)
  5. Magic Lessons (an 11 episode podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert)

These keep me interested, keep me thinking. ¬†I’m so grateful for the inspiration.

In terms of mindfulness, I haven’t gotten quite as deep, but I’m looking forward to doing more this year. ¬†I read The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and these were supplemented by interviews on On Being and The Lively Show. ¬†I’ve done some mindfulness meditation and yoga, and I’m excited to do more yoga this year ¬†(because Joshua’s awesome Christmas Present to me was a 10 pack to CorePower).

The other thing I’m really excited about for this year is that I’ve decided to invest more in community building. ¬†The first area is with becoming more politically invested. ¬†I’m a big Bernie Sanders supporter, and the Colorado headquarters for his campaign is conveniently located a couple of blocks away! ¬†We’ve also committed to supporting causes we care about when they come up. ¬†I really like UNICEF, we attended a Moms Against Gun Violence rally, and I’ve begun writing politicians about refugee and fossil fuel policies. ¬†The other area is super exciting. ¬†I’ve finally made some progress on the non-profit I mentioned this summer. ¬†Though I had had the goal to get it off the ground in the fall, I’m pleased to tell you that I figured out a way to circumnavigate all the paperwork. ¬†I contacted parks and recreation and you’re looking at a contractor for the city of Edgewater! ¬†I’ll be running a community storytime and playgroup one day a week in an effort to build community and create an unbranded, public space for parents and kids to connect. ¬†I’m sooooooo excited about this, and I’ll be sharing more as time goes on, but I start the first week of February!

Unfortunately, I poorly timed taking a math placement exam through MSU, so I won’t be able to take a class this semester, but I’ll be looking forward to taking time to write and work on my storytime and playgroup, and I’ll hopeful resume classes again in the fall.

Thank you all for reading along with us here.  I love that this little blog is a means of communicating with our loved ones flung near and far, and I also love that this has become record of our days together as a family.  Wishing you and yours a very merry New Year!!!


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Every Last Drop of Summer

Papa and Granny drove into town for Labor Day weekend.  It was great to see them, and we fit in quite a bit while they were here.

I’ve developed an instagram crush on @dramapothecary. ¬†There’s this comedy sketch that Joshua watched last year where a couple are in their car. ¬†They have kids in the backseat, and the wife says, “oh look! A new restuarant.” ¬†They make meaningful eye contact and deadpan, “we will NEVER go there.” ¬†Anyway, it’s become a bit of a saying for Joshua and myself, and in the case of Dram Apothecary, I hope it’s not true, but thus far, it has been. ¬†The 21+ rule, while understandable, is a bit prohibitive. ¬†Oh and the location. ¬†Silver Plume? ¬†You’d blink and miss it, just past Georgetown.

Anyway again, I knew they were in town for a little tea workshop at the DAM, so I convinced the family to make an outing. ¬†It wasn’t much of a workshop, really. ¬†Just a make-and-take sort of craft, but it was fun to creep on my instagram crush and get a back of tea.

Inside the art museum, when went to see the flower exhibit.  WHY I have not yet gone through that exhibit is beyond me.  It closes in October, and I MUST see it again at least once.  The paintings are absolutely stunning, and the one above was my favorite.  Perhaps because of this little explanation right next to it:

Mmmmm… ¬†So lovely.

On Saturday, we drove up past Silver Plume to the trail head for Herman Lake.  It was a stiff uphill hike for about three miles, but when we got to the top, it was well worth it.  Above treeline, we got a generous view of mountain tops and this here lovely lake, which made an excellent backdrop for a rare family photo.

If you’ve ever tried to take a photo with little ones in the mix, you know just how many photos have to be taken in order to get everyone looking/with a half-smile on their face. ¬†Really, if you’ve ever done this, you know the half-smile is really asking too much.

Which makes me wonder, really, why there are so few photos of this here man and me. ¬†They’re a relative breeze to take, and he don’t hurt the eyes, if you know what I mean.

Lily and mommy.

This guy. ¬†What a dad. ¬†I really love him. ¬†Did ya know he’s running 100 miles this weekend? ¬†Yeah. ¬†That’s what I said.

Lily was a good sport.  She got out and hiked quite a bit, and then she took a little snooze in the Poco.

This picture pretty much captures it all. ¬†Lu follows Lily everywhere and tries to do whatever she’s doing. ¬†Cuties.

Grr. ¬†I’m just now realizing that someone never sent me the photo of all of us (Papa, Granny, Sarah, and the four of us), but just so you know, we all did that hike, and I was particularly amazed by Joette, who is a bit of a miracle woman. ¬†She’s conquering her Lyme’s naturally, with plant-derived anti-biotics and a strictly Whole 30 diet since this past January. ¬†For a woman who has battled pretty severe pain for the past three years, she was a rock star on that hike!

On Sunday, we knocked out a few projects around the house, taking advantage of a couple of extra hands with the kiddos. ¬†The dresser you see above was a castoff from the previous owners at Sarah’s new house, so I nabbed it painted it pink, and soaked the gold handles in turpentine (which smells, but did the trick).

We moved things around and I can finally say that our home feels a bit more moved into ūüôā

I found this super tall bookshelf at the thrift store for $10. ¬†Once I painted it yellow (with much help from David’s fiance/my future super awesome sister-in-law, Melanie – yeah, that’s a whole ‘nother story), it made the perfect storage spot for toys.

We played a game of musical couches and moved this one in the photo above from the porch to the kid’s room, the one from the living room into the porch (pictured below), and the futon from the back porch into the living room. ¬†Cuz we like to make things complicated.

Porch is still probably my favorite room in the house ūüôā

We had been making do with one toilet since we moved in, and then on Friday our other toilet broke, so Joshua and Tim took out the old ones and installed the new ones… ¬†For $23 each?! ¬†I guess with a rebate, that’s what they came out to? ¬†How is that possible? ¬†Anyway, I thought this photo above was hysterical #menandcoffee

Mischief.

Here’s the futon in the living room. ¬†And our hopelessly dirty rug.

We decided to go small with the futon in the living room so that we could fit in a small dining area. ¬†And we finally managed to get a “W” up on the wall for little Lu.

This is a better pic of the dresser.

Mommy, take a picture of my white pigtails. ¬†Yes ma’am. ¬†On another note, this was the same morning after we had gone to the “soft” opening of Coda Coffee in Edgewater. ¬†I got a FREE cold brew, and my mom got a FREE chai, and it was spicy and not too sweet, so pretty much the BEST MORNING EVER.

On another note, (drumroll) we withdrew Lily from preschool. ¬†Yup. ¬†After all that fanfare… ¬†BUT I have to say that I have a lot of peace about the decision. ¬†We debated for a good long while before we enrolled her and then decided to have a trial period. ¬†After two weeks, we debated some more, and although it was a tough debate initially, I think we all arrived at a good decision. ¬†We included Lily in the decision making process, and surprisingly (?), she seems to be pretty content with the decision too. ¬†I’ll give you the deets some other time.

I guess the theme of September is squeezing out every last drop of Summer.  This past weekend, we drove up past Buena Vista and Mt Princeton Hot Springs to camp at Cascade Campground, just below the trail head for Mt Antero.  It was super beautiful and the aspens were just starting to turn.

Mt Antero is an old mining spot, and the summit is even known for having aquamarine and topaz just under the surface.  There are tons of old roads criss-crossing this high alpine area, and there were plenty of ATVs taking advantage of the trail.  Nevertheless, it was a gorgeous hike.

Sadly, I’m a total wimp when it comes to old forest service roads, so rather than encouraging Sarah to take her SUV up 2.6 miles of rough road, I made her chicken out and park at the bottom… ¬†Which meant that a round trip to the top would be 15+ miles. ¬†In addition, I had to keep a close watch on the time. ¬†I figured that, at maximum, I had eight hours before my breasts would explode into massively painful mountains of mastitis (too much information????).

So we hiked our tails off. ¬†And so did Ollie and Oscar. ¬†And we hiked and we hiked and we hiked. ¬†And then, less from a mile from the top, at roughly 13200 ft of elevation, I had to call it. ¬†We weren’t going to make it. ¬†Not if my boobs were going to make it back intact. ¬†So we turned around ūüė¶ ¬†I mean, we could TASTE the summit ūüė¶ But I guess 13.5 miles and 3,400 ft of elevation gain round trip is nothing too shabby?

Joshua had some good bonding time with the girls while we were gone. ¬†Doesn’t even look like they missed me, snots. When I got back to camp, we went for another little walk and then stopped to build a fairy castle with sticks and rocks and pinecones. ¬†Lily finally forgave me for leaving her behind. ¬†She asked me, “mommy, some day can I have a date with you and we can go up a mountain?” ¬†Um, sure. ¬†I mean, definitely. ¬†I mean, thank you, dear child, for making all of my dreams come true.

Went for a run yesterday after the long hike on Saturday. ¬†I was feeling pretty good after the hike but then my run humbled me. ¬†It wasn’t pretty, folks. ¬†No better than a fully pregnant slog, really. ¬†But I saw these pretty puppies up there and decided to take a little break and smell the roses (harhar).

Would you just look at her?  I mean.

 

Today Lily drew a picture with two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and legs. ¬†She also wrote “Hoil.” ¬†Because, apparently, she can do that? ¬†Who is this child?!

On the way home from the Children’s Museum, these two fell asleep holding hands. ¬†Pshaw. ¬†So cute. ¬†Now if only they hadn’t fallen asleep on the bike ride home, they would have napped (which quite possibly would have been even cuter).


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Summer

I’m reading this book called The Conscious Parent. ¬†It’s more philosophy than practical advice, but I feel like I’m getting some good stuff. ¬†I’m trying to see these two little lovelies as my spiritual guides. ¬†I’m trying to pause when they do something that drives me bonkers and think about what needs to be integrated in my unconscious. ¬†I’m doing some serious ego examining. ¬†It’s all very zen, you know.

That being said, Lily and Lu collaboratively initiated a nap strike today, and though I dug deep, I decided that this is really just playing dirty.  Give me nap or give me death, spiritual guides.

Peek a boo

Peek a boo

I so wish this wasn't blurry because this is such perfect capture of sweet Lu

I so wish this wasn’t blurry because this is such perfect capture of sweet Lu

Where is she?!

Where is she?!

I did have a breakthrough the other day though. ¬†Usually Lily’s fussiness upon waking drives me nuts, but when I took a second, I was able to find some kinship. ¬†Hey girl, I’m sensitive too. ¬†Yeah, I’m probably projecting a little when it drives me crazy that you’re sensitive. ¬†But I accept you, and maybe that can help me to accept me. ¬†Now lets pamper sensitive selves.

In a similar vein, I think this is my biggest practical application from the book. ¬†It grew out of working on real empathy… ¬†In the process of trying to connect and think about what I would need if I were Lily, I started doing little things like lighting candles, smelling essential oils, taking baths, and fixing fancy drinks (the nonalcoholic variety, of course). ¬†I think of it as pampering, and I like this new little tool in my parenting basket. ¬†It might sound ridiculous, but it’s actually fun. ¬†And it seems to help both of us get through those sensitive moments.

New 'do!

New ‘do!

Hey guys! ¬†A break from regularly scheduled programming (aka my kids) to talk about mwah…

These past couple of weeks (months? Half year?), I’ve been dabling in self-helpy stuff. ¬†It’s actually kind of amazing despite that recoil you experienced when you read “self-helpy.” ¬†It all started with the minimalism and then it deepened with a podcast I’ve been listening to, The Lively Show. ¬†She interviews a bunch of cool people and they all go meta, examining the things that they’ve done in the process of living their dreams.

All of this has gotten me really excited about journaling, meditation, yoga and reading more self-helpy stuff (as in parenting, help!). ¬†I’ve been bowled over by the wealth of wisdom that I’m finding out there, and for a gal whose gone through a few transformations spiritually speaking, this is such a different access point, and the stuff I’m finding is really powerful. ¬†I’d love to talk to you guys about it sometime, but I’m still so early in the process that’s it hard to write about it here with any real narrative.

Lily with the sunflowers

Lily with the sunflowers

Silly girl

Silly girl

Lily's new job is to pick out my earrings every morning.  She takes it very seriously.

Lily’s new job is to pick out my earrings every morning. She takes it very seriously.

Sweet girl

Sweet girl

It’s not hard to see how they’d make excellent spiritual guides. ¬†Given a nap, of course.

Making brekkie with momma.

Making brekkie with momma.

Such a goose

Such a goose

We’ll be over here, squeezing out every last drop of summer, feeling so thankful for this spiritual thugs (I mean…), and fighting the weed army that’s trying to take over our lawn. ¬†Over and out.


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Fairy Party!

Last weekend, we threw together a fairy party to celebrate Lu and Stacy’s first and thirtieth birthdays, respectively. ¬†In preparation, Stacy, Val, Ellison, Lily, Lu and I made flower crowns, pinwheels, and stapled up vintage flower-print bed sheets. ¬†The food was nuts. ¬†Joshua made amazing fairy pizzas, and Grandma Sandy (Stacy’s mom) brought the smoked salmon, berries, and cheese with fig spread. ¬†Stacy made sure there was plenty of champagne and booze to go around (so unfair, given that she has to abstain!), and all of our guests did their part getting into the fairy theme, wearing flower crowns, dousing themselves in glitter, and getting good and tipsy.

Thanks to everyone who worked to pull this off! ¬†It was so much fun ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā

Fairy aura

Fairy aura

Whirling dervishes

Whirling dervishes

Would you look at that posture?  On another note, I *wonder* what they're talking about.

Would you look at that posture? On another note, I *wonder* what they’re talking about.

More fairy auras ;)

More fairy auras ūüėČ

Um, guys?  I love that photo above.

Val made this delicious drink that made me very tipsy

Val made this delicious drink that made me very tipsy

Lu and her birthday cake.  Sugar free and made by Stacy (apparently it tasted *amazing*...  JK).

Lu and her birthday cake. Sugar free and made by Stacy (apparently it tasted *amazing*… JK).

Berry Chantilly cake?  Lily assures us that this is, indeed, what fairies eat.

Berry Chantilly cake? Lily assures us that this is, indeed, what fairies eat.

Uncle Westie nabs a bite, and then when he wasn't looking, Lily helped herself to his plate, too :)

Uncle Westie nabs a bite, and then when he wasn’t looking, Lily helped herself to his plate, too ūüôā

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

What is this flame?!

What is this flame?!

Sisters

Sisters

Love that face

Love that face

Fairy wings!

Fairy wings!

Momma and the birthday girl

Momma and the birthday girl

Oh, and PS. ¬†I was the only one in a bathing suit. ¬†Cuz I’m cool like that.

Ellison feeds her fairy daddy

Ellison feeds her fairy daddy

Look at this gorgeous couple!  Will and Val

Look at this gorgeous couple! Will and Val

Stacy, K, and Bierstadt ;)

Stacy, K, and Bierstadt ūüėČ

I insisted on taking copious photos of these guys. ¬†I think I’m projecting, but having photos of pregnant bellies are important, right?!

Hearts on Bierstadt!

Hearts on Bierstadt!

So, yeah. ¬†Little kids get nicknames on this blog to minimize their virtual footprint… ¬†Which is why middle names are soooooo important ’round here ;);)

38 weeks

38 weeks

Cuh-overed in glitter :)  (And poison oak, but that's less fairy-like.  Or, wait.  Maybe the forest fairies get into poison oak occasionally?)

Cuh-overed in glitter ūüôā (And poison oak, but that’s less fairy-like. Or, wait. Maybe the forest fairies get into poison oak occasionally?)

Bierstadt!  These three fairies are waiting for you!

Bierstadt! These three fairies are waiting for you!

I just think she looks like a lovely mama here.

I just think she looks like a lovely mama here.

Thanks dear, for letting me get as many photos of you preggers as possible ;)

Thanks dear, for letting me get as many photos of you preggers as possible ūüėČ

Grandma and the birthday girl :)

Grandma and the birthday girl ūüôā

Fairy Val!

Fairy Val!

Fairy Grandma

Fairy Grandma

Sneaky fairy stealing strawberries

Sneaky fairy stealing strawberries

Oh look!  Fairy Friends Foreverrrrrr

Oh look! Fairy Friends Foreverrrrrr

Oh! ¬†I guess I didn’t tell y’all I cut my hairs… ¬†Like a foot or something. ¬†All at once. ¬†Cuz I’m brave like that (and conveniently editing the¬†months of debate that one decision took ūüėČ )

This is Sarah's scary face. And apparently she's too cool to wear a flower crown...

This is Sarah’s scary face. And apparently she’s too cool to wear a flower crown…

Fairy Nana and her fairy granddaughter

Fairy Nana and her fairy granddaughter

My fairy bro and his cool fairy girlfriend, Melanie

My fairy bro and his cool fairy girlfriend, Melanie

Fairy Ellison

Fairy Ellison

Taking a breather to ID some flowers

Taking a breather to ID some flowers

Damn, that's some good pizza, says the fairy chef

Damn, that’s some good pizza, says the fairy chef

Joshua and Weston worked hard to fill our bellies with pizza.  They also made a gigantic mess and then Grandma Sandy cleaned it all.  Ooops and thank you!

Glitterrrrrr me (Weston and Joshua) lolz

Glitterrrrrr me (Weston and Joshua) lolz

‚̧


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Happy Birthday Lu!

Dear Lu,

At this precise moment a year ago, I was laboring with you in our living room at the house on Osceola Street.  The air smelled of jasmine, and I had lit every candle in the house.  It was a romance.  It was the last night of you and I sharing the same body.

In the morning, you were born, and you were perfect.  I cradled you in my arms, kissing the top of your head and whispering how much I loved you into your ear.

In those first few months, we were two bodies but one unit.  You slept in the curve of my arm, I wrapped you to my belly, and you nursed when you could summon the energy to wake.  And you slowly grew stronger.

By five months you were sitting and chubbier than ever.  Your smile melted me.  Soon you were scooting and reaching for me or for little objects that you then focused mighty attention upon.

We all fell in love with you.  Your daddy, your sister, and I.  Your serious focus and generous smiles are irresistible.

When I think about the year that has passed I’m both breathless from the speed at which it has gone by and a little teary. ¬†You are my baby and that time is so fleeting. ¬†Soon you’ll be walking and what a toddler you’ll be. ¬†I’m so thankful to watch it all, to watch you grow, but I’ll always cherish this year that I had with you, where what you wanted most was me, when I held you for hours, and when¬†I was all you needed in the world.

I love you baby girl, more than you’ll ever know. ¬†Thank you for choosing us, for your little spirit and all of your cuddles. ¬†Happy Birthday my girl. ¬†May the next year be as blessed as the last.

xoxo

Mama