Your Second Birthday & Christmas

Dear Nella,

Life has been busy — and you especially!  Now that you’re two, you are ALWAYS on the go.

Christmas was so special this year.  We tried to get you to all the quintessential Christmas things.

We started the season by seeing Santa a little bit before Christmas.  You cried when we left you in his lap, but you were excited to see him, loved the candy cane, and even got a little plush owl.  We went to meet him at Bass Pro Shop again and it’s so beautiful!  You loved coloring while waiting and seeing his reindeer and the fish in the shop.

We went to see Christmas lights that were coordinated to music. You loved that, but we had to leave when you leaned on the horn for a good 15 seconds!  It was an accident, but it was late and other people might not have liked it!

We read lots of books about Christmas.  Your favorite was Fa La La, J is for Jesus, and Who is Coming to Our House?. We read them A LOT. We also watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. We tried a couple others but I think they were a little too old for you.  We listened to Raffi’s Christmas album a LOT and you LOVED singing a long, especially to Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, and There Was a Little Baby.  You can sing the first verse of Frosty even now!

You loved our Christmas tree too!  We had a small Christmas tree this year so we could fit everything in our living room.  You liked looking at the “pretty lights” and got excited for the candy canes we hung on it.

We also went to Gingerbread House decorating at church.  Everyone gets together and decorates gingerbread houses.  Ours was already put together (thank goodness!).  You were more interested in eating the decorations, but you actually helped!  You put all the “lights” (candy coated sesame seeds) on one side of the house!  We kept it around for a couple weeks and you were so proud of it.  You’d say “Gingerbread house!” and “I did it!” while pointing to it.

Christmas Eve Grammy came up to visit.  All day daddy had been talking about how Santa would come and bring presents.  When you heard her footsteps on the porch, you turned to me and said, “Santa?!”  I laughed so hard, but you weren’t quite right (although Grammy did bring you LOTS of presents).

You were also given a special Christmas Eve gift — a pair of pajamas to wear and a new movie — Minions!  It is pretty much, your favorite movie.  I think I’ve seen it at least 50 times and it hasn’t even been a month!

When you woke up on Christmas Day, you were so excited!  The whole way down the stairs you kept saying “open presents! open presents!”  You opened a LOT of presents.  Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Seth all sent you Christmas presents.  We got to Skype with them while you opened your presents from them.

Santa brought you three presents in your special bag from Santa.  Santa brings you three presents because Jesus was given three presents by the wise men to celebrate his birth!  It’s a ways we can remember why we celebrate the Christmas season.  Mommy and Daddy gave you four gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.

Aunt Cathy and Uncle Stu came over for Christmas dinner!  We had ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, corn pudding, cranberry salad, and a whole slew of Christmas cookies!  You favorite was ham with mustard and the cookies!  You got to play with Aunt Cathy on your new tricycle and started to make a connection with her!

The day after New Years we went down to Kilmarnock and visited Grammy, Aunt Cathy, and Uncle Stu.  You had fun on your new tricycle at Grammy’s and enjoyed tasty burgers at the Northern Neck Burger Co. (but you liked the chips/fries the best!).

For your birthday, we had an Elmo party!  We had Elmo balloons, an Elmo Party Ball, special signs with your name on it, an Elmo fruit tray (strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges, and yogurt — your favorites), and Elmo cupcakes!  For our meal, we had Chick Fil A and every one ate it up!  Grammy, Uncle Stu, Aunt Cathy, Miss Jenel, and Addison all came over to celebrate.  We even got to Skype with Grandma and Grandpa while you opened their presents!  Your favorite thing has been your slide!  Every time we leave the house, you have to go down!

We had your two year old doctor’s appointment shortly afterwards!  You are in the 80th percentile for height, 70th for weight, and 90th for head — you’re pretty proportional, but especially smart! :)  But we already knew that!  You sing in phrases, can count until 12 (but skip four and five), can say most of your ABCs, know your shapes very well, know your colors most of the time, and same multi-word phrases all the time!

AND!!! You’re potty training already!  Shortly after Christmas we bought you a training potty.  You asked to use it, and we’ve been using it ever since!  You can sleep through most of your nap without going potty, and throughout school you do really well too!  It wasn’t what we would have started now, but you were interested in it so we went with it!

Life is SO SO busy, but so good. Even more so because you are in it.  We love you SO much little girl. And I’m SO PROUD to be your mommy.

Love you ALWAYS,


Singing & Playing

Dear Nella,

You’ve recently started to sing more than you ever have. It’s not always on the right notes, or what we’re listening to, but it’s definitely singing.

For a while you’ll shout lyrics to a song we’re singing in an attempt to keep from rocking. I tend to shush you and you go back to falling asleep.

Your latest song has been something along the lines of:


I’m not sure what you’re trying to sing, but it makes me laugh.

The other one you’ve somewhat picked up is from Inside Out. You LOVE Bing Bong. We can sing,

“Whose your friend who likes to play?”

And you’ll enthusiastically shout back,

“Bing Bong! Bing Bong!” (More like Beeehn Bohn! Beeehn Bon!)

While it’s not a song, you also like to immitate the minions in the beginning of Despicable Me 2 where they keep saying “ta da!

You’ve been playing a more enthusiast version of Peek-a-boo. You’ll crouch down behind the sink or your crib and shout “Peek-a-boo!” (more like Peehabow!). You’ll die laughing afterwards.

And your feet. Oh. my. goodness. You love sticking your feet in our face and letting us dramatically tell you how much they stink. So much giggling when it comes to that.

Baby girl, I love seeing you learn and grow. I was holding a 6 month old in the nursery this past Sunday. It was just you and Hannah and it was amazing how drastically different you are now and just a year and a half apart.

During our time together in the nursery on Sunday, your daddy was helping out with some slightly older kids with one of your teachers! She was telling him how sweet you are and how kind you can be with others. That if you see another little one crying you’ll stop to bring them a toy or say something in your toddler language. That you play well independently and they don’t have to worry about you. I’m so proud to be your mama.

I love you so much, baby girl,


Life Lately

Dear Nella,

I can’t believe you’re already 20 months and well on your way to 21 months! When I look back on pictures from a year ago, you’re just mastering crawling and now you’re walking, dancing, running, learning, and even talking in small phrases! So much has happened since I’ve last written in here.

  • We took our third beach vacation!  This one was for 8 days, and we were all healthy (unlike our trip over Memorial Day where Daddy and I got a stomach bug).  Grammy came with us and you started calling her “G”
    • We visited Lucy the Elephant for the second time in your life
    • We went to the beach on most days.  You loved playing in the sand with your shovel and pail, holding our hands while we stood in the surf, and collecting seashells (a new word for you!).
    • You learned what seagulls were and tried so very hard for them to like you like Sookie does (somehow, it didn’t work)
    • We visited Aunt Barby, Uncle Brian, Mommy’s cousin Ann, and Aunt Lela.  You were happy to interact with all of them.
    • You ate more junk food then we’ve ever allowed. But we made sure you got in lots of fresh New Jersey produce (the best, in my opinion). Salt water taffy, Kohr’s Brothers, and Manco’s Pizza were your favorite.
    • We visited the church that I grew up in. You got a balloon at the end of service, so you were thrilled with the trip!
    • You got to ride on the carousel a couple times (and loved EVERY MINUTE of it) and a Hello Kitty ride.  The Hello Kitty ride wasn’t a smooth start, but you were happy to sit next to her by the end.
    • You did WONDERFULLY in the car.  You took at least an hour nap each time and we only had to stop once both times!  We were really proud of you.
  • You started school!  You got three days a week for a half day of preschool with Miss Julie’s Almost 2 class.  You’re a “giraffe” and you’re doing great!  You’ve gotten to play with water and a sensory box. This week you get to play with play-dough and glue for the first time!  While you cry most mornings when I drop you off, you’re loving your time there and are fine almost immediately after I leave!
  • You’ve visited the zoo with Addison and Miss Jenel. We had a blast looking at the monkeys and feeding the giraffes!  You did great and even asked to feed the giraffes more!  We also tried to feed the budgies.  You weren’t as happy doing that, but it’s kind of weird feeling when the birds land on your hand for the first time.
  • We took you to your first amusement park on Saturday!  Mommy’s work had a family day and we took Miss Jenel, Mr. Brian, and Addison with us to Kings Dominion.  We rode the carousel three times, the ferris wheel, a balloon ride, and a tug boat ride (kind of like a classic pirate ship ride).  You loved the carousel, and by the end you liked the other three rides as well.  You got to meet Snoopy first and saw a ton of pumpkins, spiders, and black cats (which are some of your favorite things right now).
  • You LOVE fall. And I can’t say I blame you!  Autumn is my favorite season too. Almost every night you ask to read a fall, spider, Halloween, or pumpkin book!
  • You sing a long to a lot of songs now!  Itsy Bitsy Spider, Love is an Open Door, Old McDonald, and Baby Beluga seem to have the most words with them, but if it’s music, you like it.  You even sat and listened to us through a One Accord rehearsal yesterday.
  • You’re saying so phrases now!  It’s kind of sporadic, but you’ll say “more please,” “thank you,” and even, “Hello. I’m Baymax.” Seriously.  You love that movie.
  • We’re watching a lot of TangledBig Hero 6, and Frozen. You’ve also seemed to like Brave, Monsters Inc, and Sophia the First. Other cartoons are hit or miss.
  • You’re growing more and more attached to a little Elmo doll we bought you a couple months ago.  I actually have two that we rotate to make sure you have an equally loved Elmo doll in case something was to befall one of them.
  • Super heroes are also a favorite.  Specifically Batman.  For Halloween we’re actually making a Batgirl costume for you!  I’m hoping some of the pieces will last you for play items for a while.

You’re learning and growing so much.  It’s hard to remember all the new words and phrases that you’re adding to your repertoire daily!  You’re also so strong willed. You want things your way. And you want to get into everything and know what EVERYTHING is, even when it might be dangerous for you.  Once you learn danger and how to put things back, I think our house will become a little less drama filled.

When you don’t get your way and are angry about it, you’ll yell, clench your fists and do one of three things:

  1. Gingerly lie down on the ground and say “Uh oh”
  2. Try to bite the nearest person
  3. Or start throwing things and saying “bad”

So, you’re becoming a two year old too fast!!

Regardless, I love you so much darling.  You’re teaching me patience and grace and forgiveness and how to be a parent. (Where is that darn instruction manual??)

I love you ALWAYS (tantrums and all),


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,


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,


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,


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!