Hayden Kate: 10 Months

This is so very late! 

10 months

Dear Hayden Kate,

This first year of yours keeps flying by. Here we are in the middle of May. Although I’m disappointed that this update is so late, it’s always fun for me to sift through pictures after some time has passed to see how you’ve grown and changed.

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These updates are bittersweet for me. The sweetness floods in with those bright blue eyes, more and more teeth in your big, open mouth smile and milestones like pulling yourself up, which you mastered this month. And then, of course, the bitter part of it all is that my little baby is growing up. Less nursing, getting around on your own and feeding yourself are all things that we celebrate with you, but also make me long for those newborn days of complete reliance on your mama (and daddy, too!).

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As you practiced your new ability to stand up, you also experienced lots of falls. You almost gave yourself a black eye one day!

In addition to that contagious smile and laugh of yours, you’ve been learning how to make lots of new sounds. Some we’re not too fond of: a squishy face paired with a nasally whine. And some we love to hear over and over and over: “buh buh buh buh” or “ma ma ma ma” or “da da da da” or a low “hiiii” with a wave.

Speaking of that daddy of yours…we replaced your night time feeding with reading a story from the Jesus Storybook Bible. In the quiet of your daddy’s arms, you are so peaceful and content. I just love watching you unwind as he reads to you.

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We finally had some spring-like weather which got us out of the house and to the park. You LOVE riding in the wagon. You also like the swing for about five minutes and then you’re ready to get out. You’d love it if we’d let you eat the wood chips.

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We took a road trip to North Carolina and you slept thru the entire over-night drive there. We fell into our typical routine while we were away, but loved exploring Charlotte, Davidson and Cornelius. We used our Ann Arbor Hand’s On Museum membership to get into Discovery Place, which you and Analiese enjoyed.

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You were so loud as you crawled around freely to explore all of the different toys and activities.

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There was a mini aquarium!

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We visited a few nearby parks…

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and got to spend lots of time with the bride-to-bed, Allie!

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You met lots of extended family at all of the wedding related activities. I love seeing your unique personality begin to show. You can be quite shy, but we think it’s adorable how you hide your face away with a coy smile.

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You really like all of your big sister’s toys, especially her dolls. Your favorite is the one that has eyes that open and close. You pick at those eyes over and over again!

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You also started waving to people and when you hear keywords like “hi” and “bye”. You’re learning to be a little person with so many unique personality traits…we love them all!

Love, Mama (and Daddy)

 

Hayden Kate: 9 Months

9 months

Dear Hayden Kate,

You are all over the place these days, so I enlisted your Daddy’s help with this month’s photo shoot. You’re a big fan of being upside down. You even throw your head back to initiate it some times. Are you going to be the daring one in our family?

At nine months you weighed 18 pounds, 6 ounces and measured 29 inches long!

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You certainly have gotten the hang of pulling yourself up. Your days are mostly made up of sleeping, eating, finding things to hold onto while you stand, and falling quite a bit.

You are generally a very happy baby. We are frequently asked if you’re always so smiley and the answer is yes. We love to see your smile and hear your laugh.

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For some reason, your sister loves Taylor Swift’s “Red” and we all dance and sing along when it comes on. You’ve caught on to this pattern and bop along to it until it ends. So cute. So funny. So impressed that you recognize the song within seconds.

One thing that you have not enjoyed this month: getting your diaper or clothes changed. We all kind of dread it, but it has to be done quite a few times every day nonetheless.

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You were extra clingy and cuddly for a few days as you adjusted to one less feeding. Your routine is a little different now so we have replaced your last feeding with a bed time story.

Daddy said that while he was reading to you and Analiese, you started stroking your hand through Analiese’s hair and giggled to yourself. You actually do this a lot–laugh to yourself. We think this is great and a peak into your personality.

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You love to explore now that you have a different perspective. You especially love to sneak into Analiese’s room to play with her doll house. You’re kneeling when you play. And you like to clap your hands.

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We spent a week in Cincinnati so that we could meet the Zayner twins! It was such a fun week with Nana, Poppa, Uncle Erik and Uncle Greg. We took you to church with us where I fed you pieces of cheese and other snacks the entire time. You were perfectly ok with this.

We took a trip to Ikea and had lots of lunch and dinner dates with Mama’s friends and their kiddos. It was so much fun to be all together.

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We spent Easter back at home. You’re too little know this now, but Easter is a very special day to celebrate the death and new life of Jesus. We are so thankful for what He did for us and can’t wait to tell you more about Him.

We love you, dear!
Love, Mama (& Daddy)

Hayden Kate: 8 Months

8 Months

Dear Hayden Kate,

First of all, I debated about using this picture (below) as your cover photo this month because you gravitate towards this rocking chair and it was a huge distraction while we were taking these pictures. It’s really a finger crunching hazard and gets me all worked up when Analiese is rocking back and forth and you crawl in its direction. But, it’s also the perfect height for you to pull your little self up on and you LOVE to do that these days.

A few weeks ago, when Nana was here and giving you and Analiese a bath, she said that you went from sitting to standing for a split second all in hopes of reaching some of the letters Analiese had stuck to the wall. The next day we lowered your crib because, sure enough, you had started to pull yourself up!

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I think you are happiest when someone is holding you:

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…you are with your sister (We love how you entertain each other. Your adoration and love for each other is so apparent.):

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…or when someone (or something) is helping you stand up. You are wanting to bounce and stretch your legs whenever you get a chance. Your squeals of delight are so so happy. They make us all smile and thank God for the blessing that you are.

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But before we get too ahead of ourselves with end-of-the-month accomplishments, let’s talk about how you started to crawl earlier in the month! You are on the move! And your favorite place to go is this basket of plastic bags we keep on hand for collecting recyclables. It’s funny how your sister had the same attraction to those bags.

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We celebrated Analiese’s third birthday with Gigi and Grandpa. Gigi enjoyed feeding you lunch and they both marveled at how much you’ve grown since the last time they saw you.

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We took a day trip to the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum and you had so much fun you didn’t even try to sleep during your normal nap time. We tried the Ergo and the stroller, but there was just so much to see! Of course, within seconds of driving home, you were out.

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I love your knuckle dimples!

You started saying “dadadada…” a lot this month! You love your daddy and beeline to the door when he comes home from work.

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We introduced your Lovie to you this month. We don’t have any pictures of you with it because we are trying to keep it as a “sleep only” comfort item. It manages to find its way to you during diaper changes and car rides, too, though. We just love how you bury your face in it whenever you are reunited. It serves as a signal to you that it’s bed time and you’re usually pretty happy about it. Other times, your naps are a bit of a struggle, but once asleep, you sleep well.

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We took a road trip to Indiana to celebrate Daddy and Aunt Angie’s birthday towards the end of the month. You were content to be in the car as long as I stretched back to feed you pieces of cheese from the front seat.

We got to see Baba, Gigi, Grandpa, Uncle Ryan and Aunt Angie. You loved all of the attention and space to roam around.

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You are a sweet little baby, Hayden Kate. Like most 8 month olds you just want to be loved, play when you’re awake and eat lots of yummy food.

Love, Mama (& Daddy)

Instagram Highlights: February 2013

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, these pictures are not new to you. But here’s a little more about them. Sometimes I need to be extra wordy. I give you our month of February in pictures…and lots of words to explain them:

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This cake. One of my college roommates would bring these cakes to our house for various occasions. Her mom is an amazing baker and was even featured on their local news station. I am always so stressed out by televised cooking demonstrations. They are so rushed and I always feel so bad for the cook. But, Susie was great as always. Her cakes and other baked creations never disappoint. When I asked for the recipe years ago, I never imagined what a staple it would be in our house. It has become Analiese’s annual birthday cake and I hope that never changes. The icing, especially, is to die for. I thought I had all of the ingredients on hand, but I didn’t have plain cream cheese…only strawberry. So I gave it a whirl and it was still amazing. I added a few drops of pink food coloring to boost up the color.

Two of the seven rooms in the dollhouse were finished before we gave it to Analiese on her birthday. I adore the nursery. I used an assortment of scrap ribbons to make the banner. I debated on how to attach them to a string or twine and ultimately decided to thread a needle with embroidery thread and just hand sew them together. The bird cage “art” is actually a sample wallpaper from Anthropologie. Did you know that you can request samples for free? Now you do. Go request them! The furniture had been purchased for Analiese as a gift over the summer and I just spray painted it all white. This occurred in our garage during some of the coldest days in January. We put a space heater on for pretty much the whole day and I would sneak out for five minutes at a time to do each coat.

The “big people” room is really fun, too–mainly because that awesome little bed is in there. I made the quilt and pillows with scrap fabric and felt. The “light” is a knob from Hobby Lobby. The rug is a scrap of tweed fabric with the edges frayed. The photo of Hayden Kate and Analiese was printed as a photo, laminated, and hung on a little peg that I glued to the wall. The “flooring” is just a piece of laminated scrapbook paper.

The “office” and all of the other rooms are not nearly done yet, but Analiese seems to enjoy them just as well. The horse and deer “art”…Anthropologie wallpaper again.

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Parker’s post-bathing ritual involves a lot of running back and forth and wiping himself all over the towels we lay on the ground. Analiese was enthralled with this whole ordeal and perched herself on the bed to get a good view of it all.

So, when we finally gave Analiese her doll house, she proceded to take every single item out of its assigned room and place it on the little ledge outside of the house. All that work and she just wants everything to be in a straight line on the floor. Awesome. Since then, we’ve brought some of her Duplo people and Calico Critters into the house and she’s getting the hang of the rooms. Sort of.

These two are such great playmates. I hope that they always make time to sprawl out on the floor at catch up on life, share secrets and dreams, pray, forgive, giggle…

Fresh flowers make a crummy day a little brighter. I have a sweet husband.

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Analiese and I get to hang out for a few hours each morning when Hayden Kate takes her morning nap. Sometimes, we just take pictures of ourselves.

Our dear friend, Marcie, gave Analiese a set of three Minnie Mouse puzzles for her birthday and without any help, she put them all together. Little whiz kid, that one.

Along with a birthday comes a birthday party. And along with a birthday party comes a cute little ballerina craft for all of Analiese’s friends to decorate. What? That’s not a given? Well, unfortunately, the party and the craft have been put on hold. All of Analiese’s little girl friends were sick and so we rescheduled the party for April…which seems so far away, but the way we look at it…why not have a party in April!? Along with the balloons I have on hold at Party City and the cupcakes that are in the freezer, I will resurrect these little craft-stick ballerinas and Analiese’s girl friends will decorate their tutus with stickers.

Once the basement project was complete, we rearranged some rooms upstairs. We no longer dine in the dining area, so the awkward chandelier got replaced with this trellised one. I love it.

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Uncle Ryan and Aunt Angie got Analiese a doctor’s kit for her birthday. She LOVES checking us all out. Her favorite thing (aside from listening to Hayden Kate’s bottom) is to look in our ears with whatever that tool is and saying, “Wax!”

Hayden Kate learned to crawl this month! She had been up on all fours for what seemed like weeks and weeks, shifting back and forth, back and forth. And then one day…she just got up and moved. It was so exciting! We really didn’t use a baby gate with Analiese at all. I was very intentional about keeping her away from the stairs in the kitchen and she soon enough avoided them on her own. But with two kids…I can’t guarantee I’ll have one eye on her at all times. And wouldn’t you know that she manages to find her way to those steps when I’m chopping veggies or washing dishes and I have .2 seconds to switch gears, swoop her up and avoid a bad accident. Up goes the baby gate.

At their last visit, Ross’s parents left a big pink box to be opened on Valentine’s Day. Lots of fun, girly, crafting goodies.

So, we invited a friend over to enjoy the box with us. Elyse and Analiese were born about a month apart. They have strikingly different personalities. But at the heart, they are very much alike in that they love having friends to play with and they love to make each other laugh. They also both have mamas who envy their kids’ stylish clothing. The crafting lasted for about three minutes. Elyse’s mom made a very nice Valentine.

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The curse of a small kitchen (and dishwasher for that matter) is that this is what your counters look like when you make a meal that requires lots of dishes. I really don’t mind washing dishes. But the pile of drying dishes makes me a little coo-coo. I’m one of those people who almost always puts dishes away before I go to bed. The sink must be empty of dirty dishes, too.

Analiese can be so quirky some times. This used to be Ross’s rocking chair and Analiese loves to sit and rock in it. We will find her like this many times a day…just sitting and reading, legs crossed.

On this particular morning, Analiese slept in an hour and a half later than she usually does. Hayden Kate and I had the morning to ourselves to play on the rug quietly.

And then, one day I decided to give Analiese bangs. It was completely spur of the moment with zero planning. I just started cutting and she was ok with it. I think they’re really cute on her and everyone keeps saying how much older she looks…or that she looks like me. Which makes sense. I am quite a bit older than her.

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I love watching her sleep. She’s just so peaceful, even with Analiese and her bedtime routine happening in the background.

Ross is the playful one of the two of us…by leaps and bounds. He often tells me, “I don’t know how you get anything else done when the girls are awake.” Well, my dear, you probably won’t find me on the floor with them the entire time. I love that he is, though. These girls love their daddy and the way he plays with them.

This was the beginning stages of the Pinterest Challenge.

And this was the after. I realize that we haven’t really shown off the basement since it was finished. In fact, the last post was about the carpet being installed. We’ve moved a lot of stuff down there, but we’re only now starting to decorate and put some finishing touches on it. One of these days we’ll get around to taking some pictures and writing another update on it.

 

Analiese: 3 Years

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This year was one of big changes for Analiese. When she turned two, I was a few months pregnant with Hayden Kate. I knew that our lives would be quite different in a few months and wanted to treasure the remaining time I had with just her. She knew there was a baby in my belly, but remained completely unaware of what that meant for her. I’m still in awe of her graceful transition to being a sister.

She has proven to be an amazing big sister–loving, kind, gentle, inclusive, compassionate. Although we have our share of tough, stubborn, impatient days (she and I both), her easy love for her sister (and others) challenges me to be the loving, kind, gentle, inclusive, compassionate example I want to be for her.

In our last few months as a family of three, I remember our quiet, slow mornings. Looking back, it seems like I was just starting to get the hang of mommy-hood. We had found our rhythm and we enjoyed it together. We ran many errands together, took walks to the nearby park, and enjoyed the summer concerts with friends more than we ever had in years past. Her love for music and dancing began here and took off this year. She’s become a big fan of dancing and jumping and her requests to “dance with me!” are impossible to refuse.

Soon after her second birthday, I declared it time to potty train. She was ready, but it took the combination of my stubborn ideas and Ross’s patient demeanor to be successful. Even at such a young age, I sensed her desire to accomplish this feat. She was determined. Months before her third birthday she was completely diaper free and we transferred her remaining diapers to Hayden Kate’s room.

I am so proud of the little girl she is becoming. She has a contagious laugh, creative imagination (oh, how I adore listening to her pretend play with her dolls and other toys!), and impresses me daily with how smart she is and the information she retains. She’s got a memory like a steal trap!

She loves time to play with her friends, but at times, prefers sitting with other adults, listening and participating in conversation. She giggles when she hears others laugh without really knowing what’s so funny. She just wants to be a part of whatever it is.

My baby is 3. Three years old. I still can’t get over it. I suppose I’ll say the same thing each and every year after this one. Maybe one of these days I’ll accept the fact that I can’t make her stop growing. Each day, the Lord asks me to let her go just a little more. Grow more. Explore more. Ask more. Trust more. She is His more than she is mine. That can be so hard to accept, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Even so, I hope she always fits on my lap and wants to hold my hand at dinner.

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