Weekends to Remember

Dear Nella,

This past weekend is one I’d like to remember.  We had a really good time, and it’s what I expect when I think of weekends together in the summer.

Daddy had to work, so you and I woke up, got dressed, and ate breakfast.  You had an egg with a little bit of cheese, milk, and a peach.  We cleaned up and headed to the Children’s Museum by our house.

We got there shortly after opening and basically had the place to ourselves!  We spent a long time at the water play area followed by having the giant “sand” box all to yourself.  I think you probably would’ve stayed in that area ALL day if I had let you!  We got to visit all of the exhibits that you wanted and stayed as long as you could take it – heaven! We took a snack break in there too.

Afterwards, we did a little bit of shopping.  I got some clothes for you in the next size up as I know it’ll be coming sooner than I’d like.  Then we went to Chick-Fil-A and ate in the restaurant.  I think you like the people watching even more than the grilled chicken nuggest and fruit cup.  I may have even let you take a few sips of my lemonade.

We then went home and took a nap (well, I did some cleaning while you napped) for almost three hours.  Daddy came home and we ate a snack (some more peach and some animal crackers), and then we went to your new favorite place — the pool! We spent about an hour splashing and floating and even a little standing in the splash area.  The indoor pool at the gym is saltwater so it’s nice and buoyant without the super harsh chemicals and we don’t have to worry about sunscreen!

After an hour of swimming we were ready for dinner, so we decided to go to IHOP — which is pretty much your favorite place.  Pancakes and eggs (even if you did have them for breakfast) were devoured.  We ended the night splitting a fruit only smoothie and you quickly went to sleep.

Sunday we had church in the morning and ate breakfast on the way their (fruit and pancakes).  Afterwards we went to McAlister’s for lunch where you had a toasted cheese sandwich.  We even let you just bite into the bread without cutting it into bite-size chunks for you!

You went home and took another nice long nap.  Afterwards we got you a snack (milk and an apple-mango bar) and had Miss Jenel and Addison over and we had a blast with your new water table!  You were SOAKED but had a blast.  You figured out the water wheel pretty quickly and had a blast filling it up.  We gave you your bath early your clothes were so soaked!

We had a nice meal of veggies (green beans and peas) and fruit (apples and nectarine) with a piece of toast and milk.

We were all pretty exhausted and ended the night cuddled up watching Big Hero 6 until it was time to get you ready for bed.

Weekends like this are my favorite.  You were loving and learning and so excited about everything.  Not all weekends are.  There are ones that you’re pushing every button and boundary you can, but that’s how you’re learning.  We’re slowly teaching you why the boundaries are there, but you’re not there yet. ;)

This morning was a whole other adventure (code brown would be appropriate nomenclature), but that’s to be expected to.  We’re learning together.  I’m lucky that God blessed me with someone as amazing as you.

I love you, sweet girl,

Mommy

On What You’re Doing

Dear Nella,

On Monday, we had lunch with a friend of mommy’s who hasn’t seen you since you were about 6 months old.  Despite being really quiet and a little shy, you showed off what a cute personality you have and started warming up by the end.

She asked me what you’re doing lately.  I think I’m getting used to that question as prior to now, you were hitting certain milestones each month, smiling, laughing, sitting up, pulling up, crawling, walking, talking, eating new foods, drinking milk, etc.

Now, you’re on this learning and growing path.  You’re testing boundaries.  You’re exploring EVERYTHING that comes in your way, and for some reason you want to put everything in your mouth (aren’t you in the oral fixation stage per Freud?), so it’s a battle of what I’ll let you and what I won’t.  We’re learning you are SO. STUBBORN. Seriously. We tell you no, and you won’t move, you’ll just keep staring at us defiantly. Sometimes you’ll try to duck and hide like you’re sorry.  When people first see it they have to suppress laughter because it’s so silly.  Eventually I think it’ll turn into, “I’m sorry, mama,” but we’re not there yet.

You’ve perfected the sound of a kiss. It’s now the perfect puckering sound as opposed to a “Muah” that sounds it almost like a chant.

You’re singing more and more songs. I don’t think there’s a single song off the Frozen soundtrack.  My personal favorite is “Beeez Baaaahz” when starting “In Summer” or “Biiiiiiite” at the end of “People Are Better Than Reindeers”.  You’re getting closer to playing patty-cake with us, but it’s more like you making us clap our hands (which is fine).

You are manipulating people like crazy.  Every time we drop you off at Sunday School, you start to melt into us and pretend to be either tired or afraid.  I know that within five minutes you are fine and playing like a champ.

Your incisors are coming in now and I think they might be worse than the molars.  Those are in and you’re biting into things like a champ.  One of your new favorite things is to steal our apples at Panera and take big bites.  When we each peaches or nectarines, I’m sure to give you big slices as you love sinking your teeth into it now.

You learn new words daily.  You know the sounds and names to most animals, but still prefer to give us the sound of the animal. You’ve memorized as many of your books as I do.  You know where to answer “No” and when to make the noises.  You LOVE books and we have to stop you every morning from destroying your bookshelf that I moved into your room last month.

You’ve been to OCNJ again and you LOVED the sand. We had to stop you from eating it a lot.  We also took you on your first carousel ride which you loved (and even CRIED when we tried to take you off).  Your Grandma and Grandpa were up last month to visit. We went to the zoo for the first time and you loved the big kitties and the monkeys.  The baby orangutan was just on the other side of the glass so I think it was fun to be able to see him so up close.  We tried to feed giraffes, pigs, and goats, but you weren’t so convinced that was a good idea.

On Monday I also took you to the children’s museum.  It’s been a little over three months since the last time we took you.  What blew my mind is in the middle there’s a big “grassy” play area with a bridge built in.  You desperately wanted to walk up it at the end of March but struggled, even with my help.  When we went on Monday, you were running back and forth across it.  It’s amazing what skills you’ve learned and we hardly notice it.

We also took you to the fountains at Stony Point this summer.  You weren’t sure why we did it at first, but once you got it, we had to pry you away so you didn’t burn or turn into a prune from all the water!

And pig tails have now officially graced your pretty little head.  I think they’re about the cutest thing ever.  Your father hates them a little bit, but mostly because it makes you look like a little girl rather than the small baby you still are in his mind.

So, you’re doing a lot. The things you’re supposed to be doing. I’m so proud to call you mine and am SO GLAD you’re a part of my life.

I love you ALWAYS, sweet girl,

Mommy

On Love

Dear Nella,

Friday was a historic day for our country.  The supreme court ruled that same-sex couples have the same right to get married in all 50 states.  The same rights that heterosexual couples have.  When you are able to read this, that might seem like a strange concept that our country at some point didn’t allow it.  Just like it seems foreign to me that people with different colored skin couldn’t eat or go to the bathroom in the same place let alone get married.

I’m proud and excited to live in a country where we don’t deny other citizens these civil rights.  Marriage, in the sense of the government, is about deeming someone as your family even though they’re not blood relation.  You love them so much, you want to share your life together forever.  And in a legal sense your belongings, the societal recognition of being their significant other, and maybe even some tax breaks as you’re living together as a unit. Because it shouldn’t matter what gender that person is that you love and want to commit your life to, you should have that right as an American.

There’s a lot of rumbling in the Christian community about this.  Is it right? Is it fair? This is immoral how could they? But I’m not sure they’re focusing on the right things at the moment.  Jesus doesn’t talk at all about people of the same sex marrying.  Mainly because it just wasn’t a part of His culture at the time.  But it’s part of today’s society and people are trying to figure out, especially as a Christian, how to react to this.

As a Christian, I want you, more than anything to love and be kind to everyone.  That’s the number one thing Jesus teaches us.  It’s simple.  Love God & Love Others. You probably even understand it better now than you will when you’re older.  You may not agree on things they believe, how someone lives, or how they act, but your job as a Christian is to love them anyway.  The government is in charge of what’s fair from a legal standpoint and Jesus us in charge of judging someone’s soul.  Your job is to love people as Christ loved people.

I hope I’m that example for you some day.  I know there are people I need to love harder than I do.  I don’t really care about the color of someone’s skin, where they come from, who they love, how much money they have, or where they live.  But I do focus on their actions, the things they do and what they say.  That’s not always bad, but my immediate reaction isn’t to love them like Jesus loves people.  I need to always be working on it.

When we pray every night, I’ve added something I can’t believe I neglected to pray.  I’ve added that you learn to love and know Jesus.  That you have a relationship with Him.  If you can do that, you’ll learn to love like He loves.

Because in the end, love wins. Every time.

I love you always, sweet girl,

Mommy

PS: Here’s a link to a great sermon about this.

On Growing and Learning!

Dear Nella,

We have been so busy recently, I haven’t had time to write about what we’ve been doing!

You are now officially weaned. Actually, you have been since shortly after you turned 15 months!  It was bittersweet, I cried a little (or a lot), but you barely even noticed it stopped. We had gotten down to just the night feeding anyway and I just didn’t offer and you didn’t ask so we went with it.  Mainly you didn’t mind because now you get an extra 15 minutes of playing before we start to get ready for bed!

You are so smart! You learn things SO quickly now that there are new words, phrases, skills learned every week.  Some of the new things you’ve experienced and learned:

  • You can name all the Frozen characters.
  • You know the names or sounds for so many animals now it’s hard to count. Elephant and horse are definitely my favorite though.
  • You can name what each of mommy and daddy’s tattoos are.
  • You know what outside is and ask to go out there and insist that we play with bubbles or swing.
  • You have figured out “What’s that?” phrase and ask it incessantly (but we’re happy to tell you!)
  • You’re starting to learn shapes and colors. Purple, Blue, and Star seem to be the ones that stick the most.
  • You know who Grammy is now and call her “Ammy!” (“G”, “R”, and “Gr” are sounds we’re working on!)
  • You know a lot of food names! Beans, Berries, Bananas, Apples, Water, Milk, Chicken, Beef, Onions, Bread (your FAVORITE), Cheese, Puffs, Os are staples.  We’re working on others but they can be tough! Red peppers and tomatoes are hard to separate from red apples, but you’ll get there!
  • You can climb up several stairs (we only let you at the Children’s Museum to top of the slide)
  • You’re reaching SO MUCH more now that we’re child proofing all new areas!
  • No is a staple of your vocabulary now. Sometimes when you don’t even mean it!
  • You tried Watermelon for the first time.
  • You spent your first overnight trip at Grammy’s house for Mother’s Day
  • You crawled through your first play tunnel at the playground
  • You give full on kisses on the mouth and cheek.  They might just be the best thing ever, even if you use them to avoid going to sleep. ;)
  • You make a silly face (kind of like a surprised fish face) that you love to make mommy and daddy copy! We’ve experimented with a couple other ones too, but that’s your favorite
  • You’re starting to figure out how to sing! The A-B-C song, Old McDonald, Hot Dog Song, Love is an Open Door, and Let It Go are the ones that have had you belt out a couple notes.
  • You LOVE music. Anytime a show is on where there’s music, you have to get up and clap and dance. It’s up there with the kisses as one of the cutest things ever.
  • You’re now out of crib moccasins and into some harder soled shoes in order to walk holding Mommy or Daddy’s hand outside.
  • You love Chick Fil A & Bruster’s the most. The cows and the cone guy just make you so happy.
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Frozen, and Despicable Me are some of the shows you’ll pause and watch.
  • You love minions in Despicable Me and they make you crack up more than any other show I’ve seen!
  • You are starting to imitate mommy and daddy’s actions.  This is both good and bad. :)
  • You’ve also started to express when you’re angry.  Generally by a loud yell and balled up fists when you’re not getting your way.

We are having so much learning what kind of person you’re becoming and are prayerful that we’re helping you be the best version of you!

I love you so much, sweet girl!

Mommy

Sickness

Dear Nella,

Yesterday was my birthday.  You started the day by greeting your dad in a pool of your own vomit. Not the birthday present I imagined I’d get.

Your daddy actually had an off-site class that day, so you, me, and Grammy were going to spend the day together.  Going to the Children’s Museum, eating lunch some place fun, a long snuggly nap, and maybe playing with bubbles in the afternoon.  We ended up just snuggling and trying to get you to eat.

Since becoming a mom, the one thing that absolutely makes me lose my mind is seeing you hurting.

I would do EVERYTHING within my power to take away your hurt, physical, spiritually, emotionally.  I could clean your room and your tiny little body, but the fact that you just didn’t feel right and I couldn’t do much about it just riddles me with worry.  I gave you lots of kisses and cuddles.  We watched Frozen almost three complete times.  But it was a fight to even get you to eat an apple sauce, and you LOVE those.  It’s usually 30 seconds or less before it disappears!

When I blew out the candles on my birthday cupcake, my only wish was for you to feel better.

I can type that now (one, because no one is really reading this) because it looks like we’re on the way to that being true.  Your daddy said you’ve been great today and even ventured out of the house.

I did get to take a couple fun pictures with the camera I got for my birthday.  Grammy loves bringing you bubbles and you love going outside to playing with them.

I love you SO much, sweet girl,

Mommy

Toddlerhood

Dear Nella,

You are definitely a toddler.  Not just because you’re walking everywhere now, which you are.  But you have the ATTITUDE of a toddler.

You’re pushing every limit and boundary, stretching it until it breaks sometimes.  Sometimes you are so fiercely independent it’s a wonder you even need us sometimes.  But a minute later you can walk up to me, throw your hands in the air and say “up” and whine and cry until it happens.  I’ll get lavished with hugs and kisses and a minute later I get pushed away.

A few weeks ago you loved when we tried to play patty cake with you, but now you give us this look that screams Ugh, WHAT are you doing, mama?  And it’s not just patty cake.  I told your daddy that this may be glimpse in to what 10-12 years in the future may look like.

On Sunday at church, one of our friends that you don’t see too often came up to you and got close to your face.  You gave her a look and pushed her face away!  Believe me, daddy and I were MORTIFIED, because we know she didn’t mean anything by it.  We told you we don’t push people.  But it kind of hit me with a ton of bricks as I processed what happened.

You are a toddler.  You are beyond the stage of being a baby where you aren’t so fragile and little, where you get all your nourishment from milk and daddy and I are mainly responsible for keeping you alive.  Now we have to start teaching you morality, right and wrong, manners, social norms.  But how do you do that when I’m not even sure you fully comprehend what “no” means?

Every night when I put you to bed, I stick to similar prayers. We thank God for our family, for the food we eat, that He watches over you tonight and always, for health, safety, joy, forgiveness, His guidance, and sweet, beautiful dreams that allow you to sleep through the night.  But I’ve added my own prayers now.  Mainly because you’re asleep and it’s morphed into my own prayer by the end.  I ask for His wisdom, His patience, His guidance on how to be the best parent I can for you. I pray that He gives me and your daddy the discernment to parent you according to His ways.  And despite having bought a handful of parenting books, I think that’s the best thing I can do.  Trust my gut and believe that He gave me the instincts on how to be your parent.

Nella, all this to say, I still love you more every day.  I’m just more exhausted by the end of the day than others.

As trying as it is, it’s SO exciting to see what new things you’ve learned every day.  Just since I wrote the list of words you can say, you’ve added outside, ball, apple, shoe, purple, duck, bubbles, and table.  You mimic your daddy rubbing lotion into his hands.  You went down your first slide on Saturday!  You crawled through a tunnel at the Children’s Museum that I know you were scared to do, but seeing me on the other side, you powered through your doubt.  You tweet at birds.  You moo at cows.  You’re getting much better at puckering your lips to give a kiss rather than the open mouth sloppy kiss you used to try to cover my face with.  You try to put on socks and headbands.  You know where your toes are and say toes.

It is amazing seeing how much you’re growing.  My prayer is now that it’s time to start teaching you the consequences of actions, we do the right thing!

I love you, my sweet girl,

Mommy

Your Name

Dear Nella,

Did I ever tell you about your name?  I’m sure I have.  A thousand times.

You see, I’ve had your name in mind for several years now.  I had loved and thought of the name “Grace” for many years.  Its something I lacked.  It’s something God’s given me when I don’t deserve it.  And it’s a family name.  My Grammy’s twin sister was named Grace.

But, it became really popular.  I didn’t want you to be Grace R. in class.  I got to be Emily throughout elementary school and didn’t really have to become an Emily D. until middle school, and that’s only if I had a class with one of the other two Emily’s.  You’ll probably be in school with a million Emily’s, Emma’s, Emme’s, but it wasn’t quite as popular when your Grammy named me way back in the 80’s!

So, I started thinking of family names.  Ones that haven’t been used in a while but weren’t too out there.  And realizing my mom (your Grammy)’s middle name was Nella.  Pretty, not common, and she received that name from my Grampy’s sister.  A true family name.  I like many names that aren’t family too.  But there’s something about knowing your name comes from a long line of people you belong to, that your name envokes love and familiarity of people from your family’s past.

I ran it by your dad and he liked it too.

We had been searching for boys names for some time and sometimes when we landed on one, it would have such a weird meaning.  So I quickly took to the internet to find out.  Over and over I saw it’s meaning as “light” or “shining light”.  It was perfect!

And Nella, I don’t know if there’s ever been a name that’s fit so well.  You are our shining light.  Our world looks so completely different and more beautiful since you became a part of it.

Even other people can tell.  Before you were dedicated at church, Mr. Jim and Ms. Candi met with your daddy and I to make sure we understood what we were doing, that we were really committed to raising you in a good Christian home, to know God, and try to teach you everything we can to help you follow him.  He talked about how children are a shining light and you would be ours.  See?

I love you so much, my sweet shining Nella.

Mommy

Nella Definition