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!



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,



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,


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.


Nella Definition

Learning Words

Dear Nella,

I’ve been writing a list of words you know already.

  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Kitty/Cat
  • Puppy
  • Book
  • Pout Pout (for The Pout Pout Fish book)
  • Elsa
  • Boob
  • Keys
  • Chicken
  • Puffs
  • Cheese
  • Banana
  • Elsa
  • Shoe
  • Trees (as in broccoli)
  • Apple
  • Doc (as in McStuffins)

You also can make animals sounds:

  • Owl (whenever you see an owl you go “Hoooo”)
  • Cat (meow that comes out more like a “mew”)
  • Chicken
  • Cow
  • Elephant
  • You also looks for me to do the sounds for lion, snake, camel, and giraffe when we read “Dear Zoo” (I’ve gotten creative on the last two!)

You’re learning different body parts too!  You know where your (and other people’s)

  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Hair
  • Head
  • Ears
  • Shoes
  • Feet
  • Toes
  • Belly
  • (Belly) button

You also love playing different silly games.

  • You like to blow your bangs out of your face and want me to do it whenever my hair even gets close to my eyebrows.
  • You like to put things in and out of your shape sorter bucket.  You even carry around the bucket like a purse!
  • Pat-a-cake is a favorite!  You don’t quite have it down. But you’ll start to clap and slap your hands down and you just want me to do it until we get to the “roll it…” part where I grab your hands and help.
  • Singing “E-I-E-I-O” whenever you here “Old McDonald”

It’s kind of crazy how much you can do and have learned and feels so fast!  By far your favorite word is Elsa, sound is Elephant, and you love to find your belly and ours (it’s the cutest too when you pull up your shirt and point to that cute round baby belly.

I love you so much, sweet girl,


On Turning One

Dear Nella,

This is late because you’ve been a busy girl since you turned one!  You had your first bites of cake, took your first airplane trip, visited three new states, and took your first steps.

Little one, you continue to amaze me.  At your one year appointment you weighed 19 lbs 4 oz, and 28.75 inches.  It’s hard to imagine what a tiny thing you were compared to now!  I can’t even imagine how different you’ll be a year from then!

For your birthday party we had Grammy, Aunt Cathy, Uncle Stu, Miss Jenel, and Addison over.  We had some chicken from Chick Fil A for everyone (although you and Addison enjoyed the grilled variety rather than the deep fried kind), salad, and fruit.  Then we opened up your presents.  You got puzzles, books, stuffed dolls & animals, gum ball machine, and even a 529 account!

Then you got your first cake!  The rest of us had owl cupcakes that Grammy and I made, but you had your very own cake that I made from bananas, apple sauce, flour, and cinnamon.  Not so suprisingly, you liked the regular buttercream icing that Grammy made more than the cake.  Don’t worry, you come by that honestly from me.

You crashed pretty hard after that and took a nice long nap in my lap.  We can continue that tradition until you’re too big to hold anymore.  It was my favorite thing to do on your first birthday and will probably be my favorite thing to do on my last birthday some day. :)

You’ve done so well going from breast milk in a bottle to cow’s milk in a sippy cup.  No digestive issues at all so that dairy intolerance went right out the window!  Daddy did it gradually over a week and you’re a champ!

It won’t be long before you’re walking everywhere!

It’s so fun watching you grow up, little one.

I love you ALWAYS,


On your first Christmas

Dear Nella,

Merry Christmas!! I wish it was merrier for you, but somehow, you’ve managed to come down with a virus just in time for Christmas. You’ve managed to get a slight fever and a congested nose that I’m trying to get unstuck for you.

Last night we didn’t quite get to do everything we hoped. You were a little too upset about being sick to do much. We started a tradition of getting a book and jammies on Christmas Eve. We also put out cookies and milk for Santa. We were going to put some Cheerios on our porch for the reindeer, but you were ready to read your new book and go to bed.

While it’s not quite the Christmas I imagined us having, I hope you enjoy it, even if you’re a little more subdued than we thought you might be. Maybe Christmas just isn’t your holiday. Last year you tried to make an appearance the day after, but I managed to get my blood pressure under control enough that we were able to wait until your actual birthday to meet you!

You are very loved sweet girl.  Your Grammy and Grandma & Grandpa spoiled you with lots of presents — even more than Santa!  You’re thoroughly enjoying all of them.

For breakfast, Daddy made pancakes.  You weren’t quite sure you like them, so we had oatmeal & a banana for you.

Then, we unwrapped presents.  I think we finally were done unwrapping presents around 4pm.  Seriously.  Mainly because it wasn’t until the very end that you understood to rip open the packaging and there were things to play with.  It’s so silly, because any other time you’d see paper and would be thrilled to tear it and try to put it in your mouth.  I’ll chalk it up to you having permission and a virus that made you not want to rip the paper.

You were a bigger fan of Christmas dinner than breakfast.  Why you have Christmas dinner around 1-2pm is beyond me, but we do it because that’s what is always done!  You had some ham and some mac and cheese, but you love the steamed green beans!  We always knew you liked green beans, but you ate half the bowl!  You also got to try a couple pieces of fancy cheddar cheese — you were a fan!

The next day, we went to visit Aunt Cathy, Uncle Stu, and their daughter and son-in-law, Elisabeth and Bill.

We went to Northern Neck Burger Co. and you had your first hamburger.  You liked the bread more than the burger, but I think that had to do with the long wait time and filling up on puffs beforehand!  Then we played with some toys and you took a nap.  It was good for you to meet some more of your family!

Hopefully next year you’ll really understand what’s going on and we’ll start some new traditions!

I love you sweet girl.  You are the best present I ever received.