Three Years Of You

Three Years Of You

Dear, sweet Jenna Paige:

Happy third birthday! Or, in your words, happy day of your number turning three! It’s so exciting that you’re an official big girl now!

As I thought about what I wanted to write for this post, I realized the issue wasn’t what to include about you. It was about what I could possibly leave out of your vivacious, big personality. So this might be a long one :)

You don’t do anything halfway. You are committed to your joy, tears, and everything in between. You love to love people, and you love to let them know how they have crossed you. And you have to do everything yourself. I mean, everything. Every. thing. Honestly, that used to frustrate me. But as I watch you become more and more determined to finish a task by yourself, I am so proud of your independence and courage. You will try anything once, and you almost always finish it, too.

Your independence is fierce. You do not back down from an idea or a challenge. You don’t care what people think or what they say. You are always ready to do your own thing and take no prisoners as you do it. This amazing attitude and strong will are going to help you do great things, little girl.

I love the way you crack yourself up with your own jokes. I love the way you play with your princesses, putting them in your little pink castle and giving them all different voices and stories. I love the way you are almost always dressed up as something else: a princess – or, as you say, a Disney “pincess” – Doc McStuffins, or sometimes a creation you thought of on your own. You are always ready to head off on an adventure in your high heel Little Mermaid shoes and your clip-on earrings. Everything about you glitters pretty much everywhere you go.

It’s been so fun to listen to you learn to talk in long sentences and tell me about your day! You love to give me lists of things you’ve seen or done, and you love to tell me all the facts you’ve learned about a new subject. You chatter away about your favorite dolls and your princess bed and your sparkle shoes and your teachers and your friends and church and everything under the sun. I love to hear your little voice. I love that you still haven’t mastered some of your Rs and Ls. I love it when I ask you a question, and you look to your left and your right, put your hands in the air, and say, “I don’t know!”

I love the way you still cuddle with me, and how you’re always willing to give me a kiss or a hug. I love how you are always determined to sleep in my bed, on my pillow, with my blanket. I love how devoted you are to your own special blanket, appropriately named Purple Blanket. I love how you lovingly choose a baby (or two or twelve) to put in bed with you at night, and kiss it good night, and tell it you will take care of it because you’re the mommy.

You are so unique, Jenna. In the same thirty seconds I can see you in a princess dress, twirling around, and also eating dirt. You aren’t afraid of bugs or any of the things that make Mommy scream. You ask us to dance and shake our hands and tell us “Nice to meet you!” You say your Ns as Ms so you tell me that you “meed help” or ask to watch “Finding Memo.” You have the littlest lisps on your Ss and two dimples that I can never resist. You love to choose your outfits, paint your nails, paint MY nails, and decorate your room with drawings (and the occasional stamp).

Jenna, I just love you so much. In one way I am sad that you’re growing up, because I still remember my last little baby and how small you used to be. But I also love each new phase of your tiny little life, and to see you grow and learn every day. Even though you recently announced that you will “never EVER grow,” I know you will. And it will be amazing.

You will grow up to be an incredible, strong, independent, fashion-savvy person. But for now, I can’t wait to see what year three brings us.

I love you, I love you, I love you, my Jenna girl, my Jenna Bear, my Neener, my Jen, my baby girl, my little love, my sweet, precious baby. Happy third birthday!

Love always,


On Your Fourth Birthday

On Your Fourth Birthday

Dear Joshua,

Happy birthday, big boy! Four is a legit big boy age. I know you’re about 78 on the inside, but four seems pretty old, too!

This year has been huge for you, dude. You have accomplished so much. You can walk on your tippy toes now, and you are rocking the scissor crafts! Bumpy slides, climbing stairs, and riding the therapy peanut have been no match for you as you master them all!

Of course, I think we can all agree that one of the biggest skills you’ve developed is your speech. Joshua, I love you. And you are the chattiest person I know. You ask me what we’re doing, where we’re going, who we’ll see when we get there, and if I remember how much fun we had the last time we were there. I might not remember, but you do. You remember everything. You call a doorbell a “dingbell” and you have a little lisp, so when you say things like “Thanksgiving,” it sounds more like “Skanksgiving.” You’ll probably grow up thinking Thanksgiving is a holiday to celebrate giggling since I laugh every time you say it.

I love to hear the stories you make up. They usually involve Marshall from Paw Patrol and Batman or Captain America, always fighting bad guys. And they always win. You like to tell me which Bible stories you like the best, and even though you still insist Jesus will return to Earth on a rocket ship, I love to hear what you’ve learned about the Bible.

Josh, I just love to see your personality develop. You like to be silly but you do not stand for shenanigans. You like The Rules and you make sure everyone is aware of them. We all know that you’re pretty much raising Jenna at this point, and I do appreciate it. You remember every detail of every conversation we have, and you love to answer questions!

There is a possibility that you’re a tad stubborn, too. In fact, I think you get more stubborn every year. But you know, Joshua, for every moment I am frustrated with you digging your heels in, there is also a moment of admiration for you and the way you fight. You’ve been a fighter from literally the first seconds of your life. You had to be. And while we can butt heads sometimes, I would never change that about you. It’s made you who you are. It’s what kept you with us four years ago.

I know some things are more of a struggle for you. I’m sorry, because I know it isn’t fair. But you don’t let anything get you down. You don’t worry about what other people think of you. You just go out there and do your thing and if someone wants to follow, they can. And they do. Your smile is ridiculously contagious. Sometimes I know you’re up to no good and then you look over and grin at me, and I have to smile back.

Remember when you broke your arm? We didn’t even know it was broken for two weeks. Because you’re half human, half superhero. And you rocked that neon green cast.

Joshua, I want you to know how much I love you. And how much I admire you. You have accomplished more in your four years than some grown people ever will. You’ve had to work harder for every little victory, and you’ve had to struggle over the small things. Part of me is sad about that. But part of me know that it has shaped you into an incredible person who never stops trying. Your work ethic is better than mine, kid. And you have compassion for so many people in different situations. You’ve learned about different disabilities and struggles, and it’s made your heart even bigger. You love to love people.

Happy, happy, happy, happy birthday to my big little man, who always has a smile and a reminder about using our indoor voices. I hope this next year is just as great.

Love always,


Two Years of You

Two Years of You

Dear Jenna,

Happy second birthday, my sweet girl! Today you are firmly planted into the world of toddlerhood. I can’t believe you are such a big girl now.

Jenna, I have been trying to think of the right words to describe you, and the ones that keep coming to me are these: All in. When you are happy, you are delighted and silly and nothing can keep the smile off your face. When you are mad, woe to the next person who crosses your path as you fling yourself onto the nearest surface and pout. When you’re sad, there is no toy or snack or treat that will pacify you (sometimes not even the pacifier…). You are all in, all the time. You commit to everything you start and every emotion you feel. Sometimes that’s terrifying. But mostly it’s inspiring. You don’t quit for anything.

I love to watch you play when you don’t know I’m there. You love to wear jewelry and carry purses, and you carefully select each bracelet and necklace to wear and each little item to place into your purse. And as soon as you’re done, you take it all off and dump it all out, and then you start again. There is a method to your madness that I am not privy to, but I love to watch you work.

This year has been a fun one for you. You learned to walk, you learned to talk in sentences, and you learned how to outsmart Mommy and Daddy at least half the time. You are constantly scheming, trying to find a new way to get a toy from Josh or convince us you need just one more snack. What you lack in subtlety, you make up for in strength. Nothing can stop you from dragging a full suitcase behind you or from walking around in Daddy’s steel-toed boots. You barrel your way through every situation and don’t stop to look back until you’ve accomplished your goal. It sounds silly to admire a toddler, but I really do admire you. You decide what you want and you go get it. You are going to do great things when you grow up.

Jenna, I just love the little person you’ve turned into. You love mischief and giggles, you love trains and Minnie Mouse, you love to sit in any lap that appears within a fifty-foot radius. You must touch every item in the shopping cart before it goes to the register, and you will do just about anything for a cookie. You change shoes about six times a day and have a very specific sense of fashion – even though you wind up in just a diaper by the end of most days. You’ve learned a hundred new words and you chatter away all the time. This age has been so fun, and I can’t wait to see what else your next years have in store.

Happy, happy birthday to my silly, crazy, Ritz-cracker loving girl. You keep me on my toes but I love every step.

Love you always,


On Your Third Birthday

On Your Third Birthday

Dear Joshua,

Happy birthday, little dude! Today are you are three years old. It’s such a cliche, but I can’t believe you’re already three. It doesn’t seem possible. Three is an official big boy age – you’re a big boy now! Which is good, because you have been saying “JOSHUA BIG” for a while now.

I always heard that each new age was the best one, and so far that has held true for you. I have loved watching your personality grow and change over the last year. You still love dogs and Jake the Pirate, but you have added a new love: Thomas the Train (and his entourage). You love Thomas. You have a Thomas bed. You have three Thomas shirts. You have a Thomas backpack and fifteen Thomas books and Thomas socks and Thomas stickers and Thomas everything. It’s pretty impressive how much you know about trains now – you can tell me which train is which and how some of them work; you can tell me which ones are steam engines and which ones are diesels. And some other stuff but I have already forgotten most of it. I’m sure you will remind me tomorrow :)

You have also learned so many songs this year! I love to hear you sing. You know the words and motions to so many great songs, and if you don’t know the words, you just sing louder. You love to march in time to a song, especially the Star Wars theme. And you do a great impression of Queen Elsa as she transforms into the snow queen. I think you have a future in rock and roll. You keep inviting me to sing with you but seem less than impressed with my skills. We can’t all be stars, Josh.

And when you aren’t singing, you’re talking. You talk about everything – what you’re doing, what I’m doing, what Thomas is doing, the time you saw the moon outside and the time you thought you heard an airplane but it was a helicopter, how you want to see a dog later, the time you did see a dog, how you think the potty is too loud, why Jenna needs to go take a nap, which blanket you hope you get to have for bedtime, when Daddy will be home from work, and maybe a few other things. You follow me around the house, clutching Thomas in one hand and “chawka milk” in the other, talking a mile a minute. Your little voice is adorable, and you have started to lisp when you say the letter S. It’s fabulous.

You’re also very honest. If someone asks your opinion on something, you will give it. Good, bad, in between – you just tell it like it is. But that honesty extends into following the rules, and trying to do the right thing. You are very into rules – sometimes I think you think I have a magical power to enforce the rules. I won’t let you read this for a long time, but – I don’t. You’re just a really obedient kid. But I think that works out well for both of us.

Joshua, I am so impressed with you. You have worked really hard this year. A couple of weeks before your second birthday, you took a few steps. Now, a year later, you are trying to run! And jump, and go up steps, and so many other big boy things. You have had to overcome a lot, but you’ve done it really well. You don’t always love PT or OT, but you still try your hardest to do everything they ask of you. It isn’t easy to struggle with so much, but you are one of the happiest kids I know!

You are so friendly, and so sweet. You offer Jenna your favorite Thomas toy when she is sad, and pat her head when she’s angry. You ask if you can “read” me stories, and you offer to bring me Diet Coke. I’m especially proud of that one. People always tells me that you’re such a great kid, and I believe it. You are. You are such a good kid. I know sometimes I can be frustrated with you, but I hope you know that I am so proud of you. I am not a patient person – see Daddy for patience – but I love you so much and I love being your mom.

Happy, happy birthday, Joshua. Or, as you say, Joshwah Evuhvelled. These three years with you have been incredible. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.



A Year of You

A Year of You

Dear Jenna:

Happy birthday, sweet girl! Today you are one year old. Isn’t that crazy? Even though the year hasn’t seemed to go by too fast, it’s still amazing to me that you are growing up so much. I guess I should teach you to drive this week. Look out, world.

No, seriously, look out. I have a feeling you will be a crazy driver, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it in thirty years.

Jenna, I have had so much fun with you over the last year. When I found out I was expecting another baby, I immediately wondered what you would be like. Would you be a little more reserved, like your brother? Would you be happy and give me lots of smiles? What kind of things would you enjoy the most?

It seemed like an impossible list of questions, but a year of you has brought me answers to all those questions and then some. I got a lot of those answers the day you were born.

Since your brother was born in kind of a whirlwind (I know we have probably told you that story a thousand times…sorry, kid. Them’s the breaks when you’re the second child), I focused on remembering every moment of your birthday. Even though you were healthy and we had no reason to worry, I couldn’t breathe easy until I had you in my arms. I also couldn’t breathe easy until you got your feet out of my rib cage. Thanks for that, by the way.

And then, after a day filled with excitement and anxiety over meeting you, there you were – May 29, 2014, 1:33 pm, 7 lbs, 13 oz, 19.5 inches long. They told me how much you weighed, and then you started to cry. And I mean you cried. People in the next state probably heard you. You were ready to tell the world that you had arrived and that you were fabulous.

After a few minutes they brought you over to me. You were perfect – pink skin, round cheeks, and still hollering away like your life depended on it. You came in with a bang and haven’t slowed down ever since.

But I love that about you. You are not halfway committed to anything – when you’re mad, you are mad. When you’re happy, nothing in the world can take the smile off your face. You decide what you want to happen and let everyone know how you feel about it. I love it because I am the same way. I love seeing parts of me in you. I love figuring out how you will react to something and seeing if I get it right. It’s really fun to watch your personality grow.

Actually, fun is a perfect way to describe you. Jenna, you are just so much fun. You are easily one of the happiest people I know. There was a Dark Period where you were mad at everyone for a couple of months, but we try not to speak about that. Watching you play is so entertaining. You have the attention span of, well, a baby, and never play in the same way or with the same thing for more than a few minutes. You love all of your toys equally – giving you a piece of paper garners the same reaction as giving you a doll. You just love to have fun.

And your smile – oh, that smile is going to get everyone around you in trouble some day. When I see you covered in marker because Josh decided to “share” and you are caught in the act of redecorating the carpet, I want to be mad. I really do. But it’s hard to be mad at the grin that spreads across your face whenever you cause mischief. It’s even harder since you have those two little teeth now.

Your love of mischief is something else that is so great about you. When you hear a loud noise, you smile. If something falls, you laugh. Watching someone trip and fall is like Christmas for you. Not because you’re mean, but because you just thrive in chaos. It doesn’t scare you. Nothing scares you. You are always ready to meet your next challenge head-on and with a grin on your face.

Your sense of adventure extends into meal time – you will try anything once, and most things twice. Or three times. Or several more. You love to eat and you love to try new tastes and textures. You’re not picky – whether it’s Cheerios or bananas or a dubious puree that I have made myself, you are willing to try it all. You are also very generous – I have lost track of the number of times you are eating, catch my eye, and then take out whatever piece of food is in your mouth and hold it out to me with a big smile on your face. I don’t want it – ever – but I do appreciate the thought.  Even a mother’s love can only go so far.

I also love how you have no inhibitions – if you see something that looks interesting, you go for it. If that means you fall over or bonk your head or drop another toy in the process, so be it. You have to try everything and see exactly what is going on around you. There is nary a toy left unlicked in this house. And you are so smart about it – half the time I see you with toys that I didn’t even know we owned, so either you’re hiding them somewhere or have become a kleptomaniac at a very young age. Either way, I am impressed with your ability to find new toys in a moment’s notice. You want to play with anything and everything – cars, dolls, shoes, musical instruments, trains; you love it all. You have never picked a favorite toy because I truly think you are equally content with whatever life brings you, as long as it can be chewed on.

Jenna bear, I just love you so much. I love your easygoing personality. I love it when you clap your little hands when I sing to you. I love the way you always go to sleep in the furthest corner of your crib, with your little fingers wrapped around your blanket. I love the way you make pterodactyl sounds to wake me up in the morning. I love the determination that goes into removing your socks. I love how you still snuggle with me and pat my arm until you fall asleep. I love your constant joy and wonderment as you explore the world around you. I just love every bit of you.

Happy birthday, baby girl. You have brought me so much joy. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings us.