happy 5th birthday, kaya!

Dear Kaya,

I’m writing this on your birthday eve, and I’m feeling all sorts of emotions over the fact that in a few hours, you will be FIVE years old! I have no idea how that much time has already passed. Today, I told you a little bit about your birth story (now that you’re a little older and can understand), and how excited we were to have you come to our family. Of course, I also needed to write this letter to tell you a little bit about what you’re like at this age.You are so smart. Homeschool is your favorite thing ever, and according to you, it’s because, “I get to stay home with you! I would miss you if I went to real school”. You are already reading (and comprehending) sentences, and I’m so proud of you and all your hard work. We’re about three quarters of the way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons now, and you continue to surprise me with how fast you learn. We’re also halfway through your kindergarten math program, and you are loving that as well. I’m so grateful that you enjoy learning and working hard.

You are my big helper. You help me watch over your little sisters, and you’re always doing things to make daily life a little easier. You love to dress Nella, help water my flowers, and vacuum. You hang the cloth diapers up to dry when they’re done washing, and usually, you tell me you help out “because I love you!” I love that you already see a connection between serving others and loving them.

Because you’re the oldest, you are the ring leader. You come up with some elaborate pretend-play scenarios, and help Kaelyn form her character roles in them. You have the ability to get everyone completely hyped up and crazy, too.

Dancing and singing are two of your favorite things to do. Your current favorite “kid music” includes the Frozen soundtrack, the Laurie Berkner band (especially “The Goldfish”), and songs from Daniel Tiger. You also really like country music and are a big fan of Old Dominion right now.

I hardly let you watch any television, but your current favorite show is Blues Clues.

You and I are still very much alike, and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. We have a lot of the same little quirks, and in a way, it makes it so easy for me to understand how you’re feeling and know the thought processes you go through. Sometimes, I think having so much in common can make it so that you and I frustrate each other a little, but in the end, we both know we share some special qualities, and I think that as you get older, those things will help us to stay close to each other.

Kitties are still your very favorite thing in the whole world. That same old raggedy Kitty stuffed animal still goes everywhere with us, and he’s still a pretty integral part of many of your pretend-play scenarios. You especially need him when you’re feeling sad or tired, and when you hold him as you fall asleep, you stroke his tail with your finger to soothe yourself.

Other favorite kitties include Hello Kitty and any rainbow-colored cats.

You love creatures of all kinds, no matter how small, and are even enthralled by various insects (unless they’re flying near you, then, you scream). You have such a tender heart and truly care for anything living. We’ve planted seeds that grew into plants that ended up dying, and you cried. You very much love taking care of things.

You think you don’t need a nap anymore, but you still have some quiet time in your room each afternoon. You probably still end up falling asleep about twice a week on average.

I’m really proud of you for your desire to eat healthy so you can grow “big and strong”. Your typical lunch includes half of a PB&J, a Greek yogurt (Key Lime flavor is your favorite),  and a small salad. You also love broccoli, spaghetti with homemade sauce, and my whole-wheat chocolate chip muffins.

The beach is your favorite place to go, and you were so happy when we told you we were going this past summer. You loved every moment of it this year.

You are an artist. You love to draw, write, send “letters” to people (real and fictitious individuals), paint, cut, glue… all of it! I love your need to create.

The rainbow obsession is still going strong. Very strong.

You’re also obsessed with babies. You pretend to have at least one baby every day, so by now, you’d surely be a mother to hundreds of imaginary kids. You want to be a mommy when you grow up, and I certainly look forward to seeing you with your real children. Don’t ever doubt that you were made to be a mother, Kaya.

You also tell me that you want to be a runner when you grow up, just like Mommy. When we’re out on a walk and you start jogging, you always tell me, “I’m getting my exercise!” You also love to run pretend “races” around the house.

You pretend to take photos with your imaginary camera all the time. You put your hands over your eyes, in kind of a triangle shape, and then you move the top point of your fingers up and down as if you’re clicking the shutter. I love it.

You love singing church songs, and going to Primary on Sunday is one of your very favorite things. I love how much you already love the gospel.

Family is so important to you. You have such a deep, innate love for not only your immediate family, but also your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Still, deep down, you are a daddy’s girl through and through. When he’s home, he’s who you want to hang out with and have help you with anything you need.

You love to have your picture taken, and I love having someone so willing to pose for pictures.We love you so much, Peeky. Thank you for making us parents.

Love, Mommy

happy 3rd birthday, kaelyn!

Dear Kaelyn,

I cannot believe you are three years old! I can remember the moment we met so clearly, that in a way, it feels like yesterday. I still get choked up thinking about when I saw the tiny features of your face for the first time, and remembering how I was overcome with the distinct feeling that you were meant to be ours.

Now, I look at those steel blue eyes of yours, usually accompanied by a sly grin, and I can’t help but laugh. You are so completely silly, but in a generally calm, quiet way. You love to say things that don’t make sense just to make us all giggle.

You have blossomed from being the baby of the family into the astounding big sister you are now. You look at Nella and say “my baby”, or “my sit-sta (sister)” as you embrace her and talk to her in the sweetest little voice that you only use with babies.

Your toddlerhood has been very calm. You very rarely throw a tantrum or have mood swings. If I had to pick just two words to describe you, they’d be sweet and spunky.

Your favorite stuffed animals are your pink Piggy, your dog Cinnamon, and your beanie baby bear, Candy (who was named by you because he reminds you of those Valentine’s sweetheart candies).You take care of all of them as if they are your babies, and I love how gentle and loving you are as you tend to them.

You are still completely obsessed with “bluey” (blue).

Your sentences have improved dramatically over the last two months or so. You say most everything very clearly, with accurate pronunciation, so I think even people who don’t know you well would be able to understand you. You still use “me” instead of “I” as a subject, but it’s so cute that I almost wish you’d never realize it’s wrong.

You love art. You color inside the lines in your coloring books and use paint very carefully. You’ve even started drawing people, which are mostly round circles with little specks inside them.

You are so sensitive when it comes to friends and family. If we read you a book (like Little Cub by Olivier Dunrea) where the main character is alone, you actually start to cry for him. You also cried for the horse, Spirit, from the movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, when he was separated from his family and couldn’t get back. I love how family is already so important to you at this young age.

Your very favorite book is BooBoo (Gossie & Friends) by Olivier Dunrea. You giggle when Daddy reads it “wrong” on purpose. He’ll say, “BooBoo is a small yellow gosling…”, and you’ll laugh while correcting him, “No… BooBoo is a small BLUE gosling!”

You are a problem solver, like your daddy. You love to do puzzles and figure things out, but you’re also great at solving real-life problems. If you and Kaya are arguing over the same item, and you see it’s creating a difficult situation, you will often just let Kaya have whatever the item is and then move on, even if it’s something you really want. It’s not that you’re giving up the fight; I think you are really good at assessing situations and seeing the bigger picture.

You have an incredible attention span for your age, as well as excellent fine motor skills. You nearly completed an entire perler-bead puppy in one afternoon, which takes a lot of focus and precision for someone so little. You finished it as soon as you had the chance the next morning. I was so proud of you for doing it all on your own!

If we ask you what your name is, you always say, “Baba Grace!” Daddy has also brought back one of the nicknames we used to call you when you were a baby, “Kaecakes”, and you seem to like that one, too.

You have done preschool with Kaya for the past couple of years, just on your own terms. I’ve never required you to work on writing, reading, or math, but you’re already starting to try by yourself. You can spell your nickname (“B-A-B-A, Baba!”), and you’ve started trying to memorize the letter sounds. Anytime you see an “m” you say, “mmmm mmmm!” You can count correctly to eleven all on your own. You’re so excited to “officially” start “preschool… at home!” here soon.

Anytime you and I are eating the same thing or doing the same activity, you say we’re “buddies!” If we both have a cucumber, we’re “cucumber buddies!” Haha.

I still put you down for a nap every day, but you often would rather sit up in your bed, looking at books, doing a small puzzle, or drawing. You stay awake as long as you can, even though you really are tired and in need of some rest.

Blueberry is your favorite flavor of everything. You’d eat a blueberry yogurt for lunch every day if we had an endless stockpile. You’re so excited to go blueberry picking this summer, and I’m sure you’re going to have a hard time not eating all of them as we go.

Your favorite song is “Dirt on My Boots”, by Jon Pardi. Any time it comes on the radio, you start rocking back and forth if we’re in the car, and galloping across the floor if we’re at home. You call it “my boots song!” You say you like it because it “has cowboys” (and it does, in the lyric music video).

You love chapstick and lipgloss and will never turn me down when I offer to put some on you. I save my nearly-empty chapstick tubes for you to finish off so that you won’t play with my real ones, because you love to roll them up until they break!

Sometimes, when Daddy is tucking Kaya in at night, I sneak into your bed and snuggle with you. You like to throw your little arms around my neck and say “Stay with me forever!”, and sometimes I wish I could.

You are really becoming a sweet little friend of mine. You love to hear stories about when you were a baby, and I love to tell you all about how excited we were to know you were joining our family.I love you so much, Kaelyn Grace. Happy 3rd birthday, baby girl!

happy 4th birthday, kaya!

Dear Kaya,

It’s hard to believe that four years have already passed since I first held you in my arms. You were our first little miracle, and each day, I am still filled with gratitude and wonder that your care has been entrusted to us._mg_5170

You are a nurturer. Compassion comes naturally to you, whether it’s for a baby, a plant, an animal, or anyone who is hurt or upset. You are always playing with your baby doll, or pretending that Kaelyn is your real baby, and you need to take care of her. Sometimes, in the mornings now, you even help your little sister get dressed and ready for the day. I’m so appreciative of your willingness to contribute to our family.

_mg_4975

You are a protector. You always watch out for Kaelyn, making sure she isn’t doing anything unsafe or breaking any house rules.

You are an innate learner. Over this past year, we’ve been doing “homeschool preschool”, and you relish nearly every moment of it. You beg me to “do school” almost every day (we try to do it at least three times per week), and you are excellent at copying letters and telling me their phonetic sounds. I think you are actually ready to start learning to read, and I’m excited to help teach you and see you discover the literary world._mg_4436

You love to give gifts and surprise people. Oftentimes, you’ll “write” notes to each of us, tape them closed, and hide them so we can find them later. Anytime we have a special treat for Daddy or made something especially neat in preschool, you excitedly tell him to close his eyes and run toward him with whatever the object is. Of course, you find immense joy in receiving surprises yourself.

You are a helper. You’ll help Daddy with just about anything he asks of you, and you especially enjoy helping me make everyone’s lunches or with baking._mg_4425

Music is one of your very favorite things. You love singing time in Primary at church, and you frequently pretend to be your music teacher. You love doing family home evening just so we can sing songs together.

You love to cut, glue, paint and create art._mg_4586

You love to play games. Candy Land, Trouble, Connect Four, and a modified version of Blokus are your favorites.

You are silly, sweet, and shy. Many people tell me that they didn’t even realize you can talk because you are very quiet (and well-behaved) when we’re out in public.

Kitty (or “Meowy”, as you call him most of the time), is still your very favorite. He had to have a few “stitches” and be restuffed a few months ago, and I think now that he’s more “fluffle-y” (as you say), you love him more than ever. You are also still obsessed with your purple cat blankie._mg_4413

Believe it or not, you still take a nap every afternoon. I’m sure that some of the time is spent playing quietly in your room, but usually, I can expect about 2.5 hours of near silence each day.

These past few months have been some of the most exciting for you as you’ve watched my belly grow and anticipated the arrival of your baby sister. These days, she is almost all you can talk about. Through my morning sickness and other ailments, you were always there, checking on me, tucking me in with blankets, snuggling me, and just making sure that I was okay. You tell me that you want to be a mommy yourself someday, and I know that you will fill that role perfectly.IMG_20160619_124616

Kaya, I love you more than I can say. There are probably a million more things I could write about you, but I’ve tried to capture the biggest parts of your personality so that we will always remember what you were like at this age. Time is going by so quickly, and honestly, I wish I could slow down these days so we could have more of them, just as we both are right now.

Love, Mommy

happy 2nd birthday, kaelyn!

Dear Kaelyn,

It feels like yesterday that I was holding you in my arms for the first time. Now, you’re already a little lady, with your own ideas and interests._MG_3300

If I had to choose one word to describe your personality these days, it’d be “determined”. Whenever you have an idea, you follow through with it. You try your very hardest to complete tasks that are sometimes beyond your years, and never want to give up.

Sometimes, this personality trait can make it difficult to persuade you to listen to us and be obedient, but I know that being so very tenacious can be a great help to you as you grow older and meet life’s challenges. I hope that being strong-willed will one day help you to stand up for your values and live the gospel of Jesus Christ to the very best of your ability, despite whatever obstacles come your way._MG_3436

You are independent. You always want to try and do things on your own, and will try for a long time before allowing us to help you. You’re always so excited to show me something that you’ve seen or discovered, and will softly shout “Mummy!” to get my attention. I love that you enjoy sharing your enthusiasm with me.

You are creative, and love to make art, whether it’s with crayons, markers, paint, or even stickers. You love to “do school” and regularly join your big sister for our preschool lessons. You’ve already started pointing out letters and numbers and trying to name them, although it is hard to understand what exactly you are saying. You’re obsessed with glue and often insist that I hang your creations on the refrigerator._MG_3054You are strong. You can climb the tallest ladder at the playground! You love to explore and be outside, and if we pass by a park without stopping, you will oftentimes burst into tears. You always want to go on the swings before you play on any other part of the playground, and you giggle your hardest when I make you go fast. You love to try and “kick” me while you’re swinging, and apparently, it’s the funniest thing.IMG_20160620_182418

You are tender-hearted. You have a love for all animals, both real and plush. You are gentle and kind, and love to take care of your little stuffed buddies, whether it’s cuddling them, “nursing” them, feeding them a bottle, or tucking them in for a nap. You love to snuggle with Daddy or me when you’re feeling especially sleepy, or when you want to read a book.

You are a comedian. You do the silliest things to make us laugh, whether it’s putting bits of muffin up your nose, hiding in the curtains, or dancing the way you do- doing squats with your legs and bobbing your head from side to side. You’ve started humming songs while you’re nursing and will often look up at me and giggle. I think you know that you’re absolutely hilarious to us.

You love to pick out your own clothes, and if it’s in your drawer, your favorite outfit is your Myrtle Beach shirt with your hot pink star leggings. You’re probably wearing one or both of those items in nearly every picture I have of you, even though you have plenty of fashionable options. You also love to mix different patterns, and if an article of clothing has a heart-print pattern on it, you’re likely to choose it._MG_3073

You are a big little helper. You will do anything I ask you to, whether it’s sweeping, putting away your clean laundry, throwing dirty laundry in the hamper, carrying groceries, or unloading the dishwasher. You absolutely love to be of assistance, and I really hope that never changes. 🙂_MG_3079

One of my favorite moments of the day is when I get home from running, and you’ve just woken up. You usually have your head on Daddy’s shoulder, and say, “Mummy!” softly, but excitedly. I just love how sweet and special you are to our family._MG_3227

I love you Kaelyn Grace. I can’t wait to see who you become in this next year.

Love, Mommy

happy 3rd birthday, kaya!

Dear Kaya,

You are a big 3-year-old girl now! Part of me can’t believe it, but another part of me feels like we’ve had you in our family forever. You have grown and changed so much in those three short years, and now that you are talking in sentences, I feel like we are really beginning to see who you are. It’s always harder for me to write these letters now that you’re older, because it just doesn’t seem like a few paragraphs are enough to sum up your whole being._MG_9248There are so many things about you at this age that I never want to forget.

You are so tender-hearted. I frequently call you a “little mommy”, because you are always taking care of someone or something. You love to help give Kaelyn baths, feed the guinea pigs, and are always checking in with me by asking, “need help Mommy?” When no one needs anything, you pretend that one of your stuffed animals is sick, sad, or “can’t find its mommy”, so you cuddle and rock it until it feels better. You have a lot of pretend friends, but Kitty is still your number one favorite. You also have to have your purple cat blanket at all times._MG_9245

You love to help me bake (and lick cookie dough). We seldom give you treats, but you’ve loved anything you’ve tried (especially everything chocolate). You love it when we sporadically get donuts for breakfast.

Nearly every morning, you beg me to go on a walk. You love to go outside, run, and play on the playground. If we’re at home, you’re almost always pushing your doll stroller around or riding in your cozy coupe car.

Walking to the bus stop to meet Daddy is the highlight of your day (especially if I let you push your doll stroller up there).

You love all animals, but I’d say your favorites are puppies and kitties._MG_9226

You love Frozen (but mostly just Olaf, and it’s really the only movie you’ve seen), and after letting you watching a little Daniel Tiger, you’ve fallen in love with that, too.

It took almost an entire year of going to nursery at church until you were comfortable enough to be in there without Daddy. Now, you absolutely love it (especially story time and singing time) so much that you are not always ready to leave when Daddy comes to pick you up._MG_9250You pay attention to details, too. If there is anything new or different in your room (i.e. the closet door is open or there’s a toy that shouldn’t be there or a stuffed animal is missing) when we put you down for bed or nap, you get upset about it and call for us until we come and fix it.

You love to take pictures and have your picture taken. You will use my phone any chance you can to snap some photos (usually of Kitty or Kaelyn). Sometimes you even tell me that you didn’t “get a good one” because it’s “too bwurry (blurry)”. Haha!_MG_9322You’ve sincerely (and regularly) started telling us “I love you” and usually add in “have a good day!” for Daddy when he leaves for work.

You still don’t like getting your face wet, which makes baths almost traumatic at times. You don’t voluntarily put your face underwater at the pool, either.

This is surprising to me (especially when several of your friends have already stopped napping completely), but you still need a 3-hour nap in the afternoon. You usually go to bed around 8:30 pm and wake up around 7:30-8 am. And yes, you still insist on sleeping on the floor next to the baby gate and will move all your animals down there with you.

You are shy and reserved when you are with new people, but once they get to know you… you’re crazy (in the best way), so bubbly, and fun.

You pretend to call people on the phone (usually it’s Grandma, sometimes it’s Uncle Jeff or Auntie Lelia). You jabber on and on and usually tell them all about your day.

You are completely potty-trained (with the exception of nighttime).

Reading books is definitely one of your favorite things to do! You memorize the storylines and “read” them back to us now. You are great at singing your ABCs, counting, and you know all your colors (most of the time). Lately, you have even started asking me to spell out words for you when we read, and I’ve heard you spell the K-A-Y of “Kaya” once.

We still call you Peeky (you prefer that name) and I almost hope that never changes.

Many people don’t see it, but Kaya… you are a mini version of your mommy. You look so much like my baby pictures, but more than that, our personalities are so similar. Even at this age, there are times that I can tell exactly what you’re feeling or thinking because we are so much alike.

Daddy and I love you so much, Kaya Bird. You have added so much joy to our lives._MG_9243Happy 3rd Birthday, sweetie!

happy 2nd birthday, kaya!

Dear Kaya,

I feel like I’ve already written you so many letters, but it’s just something about writing to you on your birthday that stirs up some of the deepest feelings of my heart.

Two years. You’re two years old! How can that be? We’ve shared so many of the best memories over those two short years, so in fact, it feels like we’ve had you in our family for much, much longer._MG_4163

You have so much energy and enthusiasm for everyday life. You run and jump and climb like crazy now. I call you a monkey when you’re being especially wild, and you always respond with “eee! eee!” You get so excited for some of the smallest, simplest things, like necklaces, chapstick, stickers or Reese’s Pieces. You really are one of the happiest little girls and definitely have a natural talent for finding joy in almost any situation.Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

You make your daddy and me laugh like crazy. Sometimes, even when we’re dog-tired and it’s late, we lay in bed and keep laughing and joking about whatever hilarious thing you did that day. Now that you’re talking (at least a little bit), we sometimes imitate your adorable little voice. Over this next year, I just know you’re going to do and say even crazier things than you do now. I can’t wait._MG_3961

Your imagination is perfect. Kitty is so real to you (as are all of your other toys), and you spend all day, every day with him. Sometimes you’ll hold him out and point his face in a certain direction to show him something so that he can enjoy it, too. I hope you are always so believing and creative._MG_4165

You are so incredibly compassionate. I love that about you. I’m sure that’s one reason you came to our family first, because that’s one of the qualities that makes you an amazing big sister. You love Kaelyn so much and are so quick to give her kisses and check on her when she’s crying. Jax always gets big hugs, and you love to burp, rock, and “change” diapers on your baby doll and Kitty all day long. I hope you’ll want to be a mommy someday, because I can already tell you’ll be great at it._MG_4009

Three years ago, we were hoping and praying for you. We really had no idea how truly blessed we were about to be. We couldn’t have imagined having a more amazing little girl._MG_4161

We’ve loved watching you grow, and I’m so thankful for all the ways you’ve helped me grow, too. Being your mama is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.

Happy 2nd Birthday, sweet girl!

Love, Mommy