Five Months with Ava

Ava turned five months old today. The saying “the days are long but the years are short” really does ring true; it doesn’t seem possible that she’s been with us for five months already, but there have also been days that have seemed to drag on forever. We had struggles with breastfeeding early on that led to exclusively formula feeding, then tummy issues, then reflux problems and sleeping problems. There have been few nights of truly restful sleep (although hopefully that is changing, as the last two nights were wonderful), and some days were filled with so much fussing and crying that it brought me to tears as well. Despite this, it’s hard to remember what our family was like before Ava was in it, so completely has she captured all of our hearts. Seeing Charlotte interact with her has been such a beautiful blessing, and there’s really no one who can make Ava smile and laugh like Charlotte can. Ava has a smile for everyone, and she giggles with her whole body. Since she started rolling front to back and back to front two weeks ago, she’s been even more curious about everything around her. Her play gym doesn’t hold her interest for long anymore now that she can move around, and I know that once she’s crawling it will be even harder to keep her in one spot! It seems like her sweet brown eyes don’t miss a thing, and she’s fascinated with her hands and feet and our dog Bailey and everything that Charlotte does.

Being with Ava every day has allowed me to see how much a baby can change in a matter of days, and that means that even the hard days will turn into better days. I have delighted in being with her, even on days when she’s fussing or not napping because I know how very blessed I am to get to raise another girl. The Lord chose us for Ava, and Ava for us, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

On the Night Before Kindergarten

Dear Charlotte,

As I write this you are asleep in your bed, hopefully dreaming sweet dreams and anticipating the excitement that awaits you tomorrow, your very first day of kindergarten. In a way it seems impossible that we are already at this huge milestone. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I brought your tiny self home from the hospital and marveled at the beautiful wonder that is you? I am so incredibly excited for you, and I know you are ready for this new adventure. You are so smart and sweet and kind and sensitive and caring, and I know these qualities will serve you so swell as you learn what being in “big school” is all about.

I know you are nervous about not knowing anyone and about making friends, and I want to encourage you to do this one very important thing: be yourself. You put on your best Charlotte smile and offer your best Charlotte hello and give your best Charlotte answers to the questions that are asked of you, and you will be fine. Remember that if you feel lonely and scared, chances are someone else in your class feels lonely and scared too. So when you see another kid in your class who looks like they need a friend, be that friend to them. There may be days when someone is mad at you or tells you they don’t like you, and even though I hope those days don’t come, if they do, remember this: being kind is never the wrong decision. Even if your kindness is met with meanness, be kind anyway.

When you feel afraid, remember the verse from Isaiah and the song we often sing: “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Know that even when Mommy and Daddy aren’t with you, there is someone who will ALWAYS be with you: God. He loves you and is cheering for you and will be with you every day of kindergarten, and every day of your life. Let God’s love be bigger than your fear. 

When you feel frustrated because something you are trying to do is hard and you feel like you can’t do it, keep trying. Do not let those moments of frustration prevent you from achieving something great. Some of the best things in life are things that we have to work very hard for or that may not come easily. You will not be perfect, and we don’t expect you to be perfect. We only want you to work hard and do your very best.

Charlotte, your dad and I love you so much more than words can say. We are so proud of you and who you are and cannot wait to see how you continue to grow and learn. We are praying for you to have a wonderful first year of school, and we trust that God will give you all that you need. I have a feeling that it’s going to be an awesome year.

Charlotte Turns Five

Charlotte turned 5 years old on Friday. I can hardly believe it. She’s definitely not a baby anymore, but of course I will continue to call her my baby, protest though she may. 🙂 I have loved to see how Charlotte has grown over the past year. We don’t have nearly as many tantrums and battles as we used to, and even though we went through a rough stretch with her fighting bedtime, she is a rock star about going to bed and has been for many months (probably no doubt due to the fact that we let her look at books in bed after lights out as long as she is quiet).

Charlotte at 5 is genuinely fun to be around—sweet, thoughtful, kind, affectionate, and delightfully silly. Some of the things she says and does crack me up. She loves making up nonsensical songs and prancing around the house. She loves stories (and in fact she told me she will always love stories—rock on, daughter!) and gets so emotionally invested in them, which is why sometimes movies or books are too much for her to handle. We recently finished reading through our first chapter book, A Little Princess, and while I was worried that we’d have to stop after how she cried when Sarah’s father died, she wanted to keep reading it and ended up loving it. We then read Sarah, Plain and Tall (I promise we don’t just read books about people named Sarah), and she loved that also. We’re now reading A Secret Garden, and I’m already trying to figure out what book to read with her next! Even though it sometimes drives me crazy when she interrupts me to ask a question while I’m reading, I love that she’s really thinking about what she’s hearing and working to understand it. She can’t wait for the day when she can read books to herself, and recently she’s been obsessed with sounding out words to figure out what they start with. One of the gifts we got her was a gift card to Books-a-Million, and it was so fun watching her excitement at getting to pick out her own books.

We had Charlotte’s birthday party at a local bouncy house place on Saturday, and it was the first party where she got to invite friends. I was nervous because it was going to be a blend of church and school friends, but she had a blast, and so did all of the kids who went, as far as I could tell. Watching her run and play with her friends was so much fun. I’m going to be so sad when Charlotte starts kindergarten and has to leave the school she’s been at since she was 7 weeks old. I’m praying already for God to give her one or two best friends in her kindergarten class so she won’t be lonely. That is one thing about Charlotte: she loves to be around people and really hates to be alone. How she is like that is beyond me, since her dad and I are both introverts who value alone time, but she prefers to hang out with us instead of playing with toys or doing things on her own. Sometimes her inability to be alone makes me want to pull my hair out, but I remind myself that one day I won’t be the one she’ll want to be with, and so I try to cherish our time together.

I look at my girl these days and can’t believe how grown up she looks, and I pray that as she continues to grow she will keep her tender heart and her joy. I pray that she will have confidence in who God has made her to be and that she will love Him all of her days. I pray she will know how much she is loved and will love fiercely in return. I pray that she inherited all of my good traits and none of my bad ones. And most of all, I pray that she will come to know Christ and live to make Him known. Happy birthday, my sweet girl. Here’s to many more!

Charlotte Turns Two

Charlotte turned two on March 4, and we had a party the weekend before to celebrate! Charlotte loves Elmo, so I decided to do a Sesame Street theme. I got all of the supplies at Walmart and kept it pretty simple, decorating our kitchen table and hanging some balloons and a banner. 

I also decided to keep the guest list small, so we just invited family. My parents, my grandmother, and my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew made up the guest list, and in our smallish house, that was plenty of people! Charlotte gets overwhelmed with a lot of people surrounding her at once, so she was pretty clingy and shy at the beginning, but that didn’t stop her from sporting her Elmo hat!

She is not too sure about what is going on.

After I started blowing bubbles and she was able to interact with her cousin Erika, who is six months younger than Charlotte, she started to warm up.

Instead of a birthday cake, I decided to go with a less conventional approach after having some yummy petit fours at my mom’s birthday celebration just a few weeks ago. My parents generously offered to provide the dessert, and the bakery was even able to put Elmo on the little cakes. I loved how they turned out!

For the food, we again opted for the simple (okay, lazy) route and ordered Pizza Hut pizza. While we waited for it to arrive, Charlotte started opening her presents. She got a ton of cute spring clothes from my brother and sister-in-law, along with coloring books and board books.

After the pizza, it was time for cake! Charlotte was a fan.

Digging in!

I tried unsuccessfully to get a good picture with Charlotte, but this is the best I got. We have such a hard time getting her to smile for pictures. She pretty much turns on the frowns when a camera comes out.

 My parents were also unsuccessful in their attempts to get a picture with her.

The party was a little bit chaotic with two toddlers running around, and I was glad that I had decided not to invite a few other kids closer to her age. I think I will save the bigger parties for when she is older and can really enjoy them.

On Charlotte’s actual birthday last Monday, we treated her to one of her favorite things, a donut:

And of course there were a few more presents! We got her a ladybug lunch bag and backpack to use at daycare, which she loved. She also opened presents from Stephen’s parents, some fun blocks and an alphabet computer-type toy.

We also went in with my parents and got her a playhouse for outside. I really wanted to get her a swingset, but the nicer sets are SO expensive! I am happy with this little house, though, and she had a blast playing in it this weekend after her sweet daddy spent some quality time putting it together.

She loved pushing the little doorbell and opening and closing the door.
There’s that sweet smile! Happy girl.

It’s hard to believe that she is already two years old. She is changing so much every day, and even though this is a somewhat turbulent age, I am loving it. It’s so fun now that she is able to talk to us more clearly and express herself, and she cracks us up with the little phrases she says. She is little Miss Independent, and I love seeing her take pride in being able to do things on her own. The days can sometimes be long, but the years are short. I pray that I cherish every moment with her, even the ones that are stressful, for I know that before I know it, she will be grown. We love you, Charlotte Marie!