Sunday, September 3, 2017

Happy 9th Birthday, Isabella

Beach time with the family
 Dear Izzy,

Another year has gone by in a blink of an eye. You are starting 3rd grade next week after an amazing summer of family time at the beach.  We spent our days riding on the boat, building castles in the sand, and playing in the waves.  Grandma has nicknamed you 'Mermaid' because your favorite place to be is in the ocean.

I went back and read your letter from last year, and I feel like I could write the exact same words once again.  I say it all the time, from the minute you came into this world you have been inherently you. I may be a little biased but I think you were born as close to perfect as a person can possibly be. You are a ray of sunshine every single day. But as you grow and gain knowledge and experiences, you just continue to glow brighter and brighter with each passing year.  Your smile, your crazy laugh, your love for life, your patience and kindness towards your brothers, your loyalty to your friends and family, truly makes you the heart of our family.
My Beach Babe

Your positive attitude and ability to find joy in the simplest things are going to take you far in this world.  You are so well-rounded, sporty and girly, serious and silly, tough and sweet. You are athletic and a leader on your teams. You love to play soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. You love to swim and dance. You are Daddy's best helper in the yard. You are my shopping buddy, and you love to cuddle and read with me at night. You are the best sister in the world. You play with Zachary for hours, keeping him entertained with your amazing imagination. You shoot hoops and jump on the trampoline with Alex.  He has even been heard saying that you are a cool little sister! You are a sweet and fair friend.  You are a good student both in school and in life.
Birthday Fun!

I know I tell you this often, but I truly thank God for you every day. I don't know what I would do without you. You bring us so much love and joy and laughter (very loud laughter). I know I am the mom, and I try to set a good example for how to live, but even at nine years old, the way you live your life to the fullest each day is an example that everyone should follow. Maybe it is silly to say that I look up to you, but I do.  I think everyone should have a little more sunshine in their hearts the way you do.
Happy 9th Birthday

Monday, June 12, 2017

Fifth Grade Farewell


Today you said farewell to elementary school. I knew I would cry just as I did the first time you climbed the steps of the bus on the first day of Kindergarten. But this time it was different. I cried tears of joy. Yes. I am a little sad that you are growing up way too quickly. But that sadness is outweighed by my adoration and pride in you. Not only have you had stellar grades for your entire time at Jacksonville, but you are so much more than that. When Mrs. Lee described the characteristics of the recipients of the Sportsmanship Award,  I knew your name would be called. You are such a kind, empathetic, and positive kid. You are the epitome of a team player. You always give it your all. And if I have said it once, I have said it a million times, I am so very proud to be your mom.

You have made so many good friends over the last six years. It has been said more than once that your class is a great group of kids. And although you are going to a different school next year, I know that you all will cross paths at the pool, middle school dances, and parties. You never forget your first friends.

I'm so excited to see where this next chapter of your life takes you. You may no longer be a Jacksonville Jet,  but I know you are going to continue to soar. Gilman made a wise choice when they chose you. Go Gilman Greyhounds!

I love you, my #1

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Happy 5th Birthday to my baby!

Dear Zachary,

You are five years old! You are a whole handful literally as well as figuratively. I can't even get my head around it.  It feels impossible that it has been five years since we brought you home from the hospital. But I truly can't imagine what our life would be without you.  You may take after me in stature, but your personality is gigantic.  You definitely think you are older than you are and want to be one of the big kids. I joke and call you my little teenager. You are tough, and you always say what is on your mind.  You are not one for compromise, but we are working on that. You have a great sense of humor and just like a typical five year old, many of your jokes involve potty words.

You are still a Momma's boy.  You still like me to lay with you at night. I read books to you, scratch your back and talk to you about your day. If you had a day where you misbehaved and got in trouble you will say to me, I can't wait to wake up and see you smiling at me Mommy.  I will be a good boy tomorrow.  And if I ever get up and tell you I'll be right back, I better come right back.  You will not fall asleep while you are waiting.  You are a night owl for sure.  You don't go to sleep early, making it tough on your early rising mom!  I am pretty sure I fall asleep earlier than you most nights. 

That smile!  No one has a smile like you.  Mischief and charm all rolled into that one grin.  You clearly believe you are in charge.  Usually we are scared to argue with you....
You tell me, Mommy. You are so beautiful. And you always want to give me just one more hug and kiss, and it absolutely melts my heart... My little ladies' man.  

Over this past year, we have taken trips to the beach, Deep Creek Lake, Turks and Caicos (you have already started packing for our next trip there in April), and Disney World.  You still love dressing up and spent the whole day in character, Jack "Zach" Sparrow, after being made over as a pirate in the Pirate League.  

This year you are in your last year of preschool three days a week.  You are lucky to have your buddy Grayson in your class. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we hang out with Stella, go on adventures with Nana and Grayson, or just stay in our pjs all day.  In a few months, I will take you to Kindergarten registration. I joke that I am ready, but I'm not.  I am going to miss you so much.  I'm going to miss playing legos and doing puzzles, watching movies, going to Wegmans, walking around Hunt Valley with Gabe and Stella,  and taking you and Grayson (my grumpy old men) to Kiddie Crusoe, Chick-Fil-A, Five Below and Five Guys. I'm even going to miss arguing with you about what we each consider too much time on the Ipad. But I think Kindergarten is going to be good for you.  I think in many ways you are ready.  And although you are not one to sit for long amounts of time, you are a quick learner and have a bright mind.  You will do well, I believe in you.

Everyday you challenge me, drive me a little crazy, and make me laugh.  I hope you always see me as beautiful, because I know when you look in my eyes and say I'm beautiful you aren't talking about my physical appearance.  You see the love in my eyes, and that is what makes me beautiful to you. There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the love a mom has for their child.  It is all encompassing and forever. I will always love you. You will always be my baby boy.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Happy 11th Birthday

Dear Alex,

Today you are 11 years old.  I woke you up at 6 am for lacrosse practice with a kiss and a bunch of balloons.  You opened your eyes and said, "Mom."  The most beautiful word in all the world.  I laid down next to you for just a moment and put my arms around you.  And I couldn't help it, the tears came.  Because I remember another December morning, before the sunrise, eleven years ago when I held you in my arms. It was just you and me in those moments before dawn, just as it was on the day you were born.

I know I tell you all the time, but I love you so much.  I am so proud of you.  You continue to excel in school.  I can't believe you are in fifth grade.  You have such a nice group of kids in your grade and have loved every minute of your experiences at Jacksonville.  But change is on the horizon. We have spent the fall applying, visiting, interviewing and shadowing at middle schools.  You have handled this process with your usual maturity and incredible insight. And although the future is still unknown until the acceptance letters come in February, you know where you want to be and I am confident that the school wants you too. What school wouldn't want you?  You are bright, creative, diligent, friendly, kind and a good friend.  I am so excited for you and this next chapter of your life. I know at times it isn't going to be easy, but I will be right here if you need me.

You continue to try new things like computer game programming, yearbook club, and robotics club.  This year you played soccer, basketball, tennis, lacrosse, swam on swim team, and ran cross country.  I love watching you play sports, always a team player, helping a teammate up when he falls and giving a pat on the back when a goal is scored.  But  it was running cross country, where I saw you shine.  The Mighty Milers allowed you to find your stride, literally.  And I was so happy to be on the journey with you.  I was able to run some trail runs and 5K's along side of you.  Well, that is how the season started.  By the end of the season, I was following behind you.  Watching you run with a new-found confidence that made me so happy. And we both got a little teary that day when your name was announced as first place in your age group after a 5K. I hope my body allows me to keep running with (behind) you, because, Baby Boy, there is no better feeling in the world then getting to watch your child's success and confidence grow literally with each step.

You know I could go on and on.  I am your biggest fan.  You are my perfect boy. And nothing makes me happier than when you give me a hug and say to me, "I love my momma." When you put your arms around it reminds me that even though you are no longer a little baby, (one more inch and you will be as tall as me), those four words are spoken so naturally and with such sincerity and love that I know a part of you will always belong to me.  Because you are all the best parts of me.

I love you,

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Happy 8th Birthday Isabella

Dear Isabella,

According to the calendar, tomorrow is your eighth birthday.  How can this possibly be?  Just one minute ago you were my little bald baby who loved to wear tutus and play dress up.  Now you love to dress in "workout clothes." You say it is because that is what I wear.  I call you my "Sporty Spice" and am having a hard time seeing all those dresses hanging in your closet all but forgotten, except for special occasions.   This is the first year you haven't picked out a special dress for your party. This year's theme is soccer and you have your new Under Armour outfit that daddy bought you all ready to go! Your shirt says, "All Heart" and that is the perfect description of you! You have a heart of gold, my sweet girl.

And although some things have changed over the past year, you are still you. You are confident and sweet with a little sass on the side.  Your smile and laugh are contagious.  You have a wonderful imagination.  You are such an amazing and loving daughter and sister. Daddy and I count our blessings every single day. Zachary worships the ground you walk on and Alex looks to you to make sure you think he is cool. You love your cousins and grandparents, aunts and uncles so much. This fall you are going to be a flower girl in your Uncle Dave and Aunt Lauren's wedding.  You and Stella are going to steal the show.  Stella, I have to mention the amazing bond you share with your cousin Stella.  Stella is the little sister you have always wanted.  She follows you around and you are so patient and loving towards her.

You are a second grader.  You play travel soccer.  You can read chapter books.  You are an amazing swimmer.  You love lacrosse, basketball and dance and are learning how to play tennis and golf. You are an talented writer and artist. You love the beach and boating, and Turks and Caicos is your favorite place.  You love to wear flip flops, eat mini muffins, jump on the trampoline.  Fusion is your favorite restaurant.  You love chocolate, but are not a big fan of gummies, ice cream or cake.  Giraffes are still your favorite animals, and you continue to insist that one day you will own one as a pet.  And although you are growing up, you still love to collect stuffed animals, and you sleep with music playing and cuddling your Gigi every night.  

You are a diligent student and always try your best in school. All of your life people have wanted to be near you.  Your smile and hugs can make even the worst day bright again. You have so many friends because you are kind, compassionate and fair.  At any given moment you and Kaitlyn and Sadie can be found at our house in the middle of a never-ending playdate. You work together to create zoos for your stuffed animals and build elaborate lego creations. Or sometimes you just giggle and chat for hours!

We have had such a fun year.   We spent many winter days snowed in, sledding, watching movies and eating s'mores.  We went to Turks and Caicos, took many trips to the beach, spent a weekend in Deep Creek with the Deys, went hiking at Mount Saint Mary's, and spent lazy days this summer at the pool. But even on lazy days, you make life fun.  Your love for life is contagious.  I know that you never lose this zeal and positivity and will always  be the sunshine of our lives!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Zachary turns 4!

Dear Zachary,

My baby. My youngest. My boy.   Last week you turned four years old.

Sorry this letter is late, but we have been very busy celebrating you! For your birthday, you wanted a Toy Story Party at home with your family. We had a great time eating pizza from Pizza Palace (also known as GT), alien cookies, and Buzz Lightyear cake.  We had an awesome magic show.  At the end, you stole the show in your magician's outfit when you made the bunny appear.  On your "real" birthday, we had dinner with your grandparents and you kept asking me, "Am I actually four?"
Daddy bought you your very own BIG BOY bike. And to round out the celebrations, we had a friend party at Kiddie Crusoe, one of your favorite places to play.

Zachary, my love, you are the cuddliest little guy in the world.  You love to give kisses, if you are in the mood.  You follow your brother and sister around, never wanting to be left out and always wanting to be like the big kids.  You love having playdates with your buddies and Thursdays have become what I like to call "Third Child Thursday."  The mommies take turns taking you, Miles and Grayson to bounce houses, playgrounds, the movies, and out to lunch.  Isabella always complains, that she never got to have playdates like that!  But I guess that is one of the perks of being the youngest.

You are in school three mornings a week and you also go to My Gym with Nana on Tuesdays and play lacrosse.  We spend pretty much the rest of our days together.  You are not a huge fan of running errands, but will agree to go to Wegmans if I buy you a pumpkin muffin.  You are a homebody and love playing with legos, my potato head, and watching movies on 'the big tv.' As soon as you come in the door, you either put on a costume of some sort or take off your shirt and put on shorts.  You are so much like daddy in many ways, but especially in the amount of clothing you each put in the dirty laundry  on any given day.

You are fiercely independent and so strong willed.  Not always the easiest kid to get along with. You want what you want.  Bribery and threats do not work!  You aren't a big fan of compromise. But you are very bright, have an amazing vocabulary and your imagination is endless. You are hilarious, everyone says so. I agree, most of the time!   I believe that with that strong personality and conviction for what you want, you will be very successful in life!

Even though you are a big kid now, you are still a Momma's Boy.  You always want me. To read to you. To sit by you. To lay with you until you fall asleep.  No one else, just me.  Like I said, we spend a lot of time together.  And sometimes, at the end of the day when I could use some time to myself, I remind myself that these moments are fleeting.  Just like it happened with Alex and Isabella, one day you will get ready for bed all by yourself and read to yourself and fall asleep without me laying right next to you for five more minutes.  Sometimes I tell myself that I am ready for that, but deep down, I know I am lying to myself. I'm going to miss those moments when they are gone, because I know you are my last baby.

So sweet boy, you can have all my minutes of every single day.  And as much as we butt heads, I wouldn't trade your tough, smart mouth exterior for anything.  You are the one who challenges me most, but I know you love me with the same fierceness that I love you.  And underneath whatever costume you are wearing at that moment, is my baby, my youngest, the one who filled that last missing piece of my heart and made it full.

I love you,
You never stop making Alex and Isabella laugh!

You are clearly in charge!

Mommy's Boy

Daddy's Mini Me
Happy 4th Birthday!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy Tenth Birthday, Alexander

Dear Alex,

When you were born and in those days and weeks that followed, I cried everyday.  I didn't want you to be three days old, or a week, or a month.  I don't know how to explain it, but I was so unimaginably in love with you and so happy to be your mommy, I wanted to freeze time in that exact moment because I couldn't stand the thought of each perfect moment with you passing.

And now look at what has happened.  I blinked my eyes and ten whole years have passed.  Ten years of loving you so much that at times I felt my heart would burst. Ten years of watching you grow from that chubby little baby to this tall boy who is almost as big as me.  When I give you a hug, you can look me in the eye and put your head on my shoulder. I remember holding you and rocking you every night as an infant, your head on my shoulder, those same big, brown eyes looking up at me. Just you and me in your nursery on Snowberry Court.  It feels like forever ago, yet I have no idea where the time went.

You are a good boy, Alex.  Not a perfect boy, although I think you are pretty close to it.  You are kind and thoughtful.  A tad impatient. You get easily frustrated when things don't go your way.  But you are a diligent student and a nice friend.  This year at your conference your teacher called you "teacher's dream."  You continue to put forth effort and you excel.  When it comes to your learning are mature and invested in a way that cannot be taught.  This will take you far in life, as will the fact that you live your life being kind and empathetic to others. You are a team player in sports and in life.  You know when to lead and you know when to support those around you whether it be helping someone up on the lacrosse field or giving a word of encouragement to a friend.

You live each day to the fullest.  You are one busy kid, going to school each day, playing tennis, basketball, soccer and lacrosse at night and on weekends.  You love to spend time with your friends in your free time.  But for you, family always comes first.

You are the most wonderful son and big brother.  Being the oldest is a huge responsibility, one you do not take lightly.  You have the biggest heart, and Daddy and I are so blessed to have such a smart, loving son as a role model for Isabella and Zachary.

I knew I would have a hard time writing this letter, because you are too special of a kid for words. I could go on and on listing all the ways you are wonderful and how proud I am of you.  And maybe I'm a little biased. But I don't care.  You are my Number 1 and I will always be your biggest fan, your cheerleader, your advocate,  your momma. And as I sit here writing this letter, I keep looking over at you as you do your homework taking breaks to tease your sister, and I want to cry like I did when you were a baby, because I know this perfect moment, just like every moment of your life is fleeting.  As much as I want to freeze time, it is impossible. So like I did when you were a baby, I am going to memorize how you look, sound and act on this eve of your 10th birthday. And when I go to bed tonight, I will thank God for you like I do every night. May God bless you, because he has blessed me with the best gift in the

I love you so very much,


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Happy Birthday Isabella

Dear Isabella,

Happy 7th birthday to my best girl.  My only girl.  My Sunshine.  My Bella Boo.  My First Grader.

You have had an amazing year.  And I thank God everyday that I am your mommy.  I am so blessed to be able to have a front row seat to your life.  During this past year,  I have watched you grow taller, your curls get longer, and your smile get even brighter. I have watched you ride a bike, swim like a fish, do a cartwheel, read books, play soccer, lacrosse and basketball.  You love to dance and do gymnastics, and you want to be a gymnast when you grow up!  You are so brave.  You are not afraid to try new things, exciting things, like paddle boarding, zip lining and riding roller coasters.

And although you have learned many new things this year and have gotten bigger, you still remain the same.  As I have stated in every letter I have ever written to you, you are you and the best things about you are the things that have been inherently you since the beginning. Pop always says, "Isabella is as good as gold." And it is true. You are such a kind, sweet girl.   Your smile lights up a room.  You love your brothers, cousins, friends and family.  Your hugs are the best. You are such a happy girl, and you spend each day living life to its fullest. People love to be around you. You are chatty and funny.  You love to laugh at your own jokes and that loud laugh of yours in contagious!

You are a girly girl, but you can hang with the boys.  You are a wonderful big sister, so patient and imaginative. Zachary loves to play with you.  He misses you when you are at school.  You are a typical little sister. You and Alex argue sometimes, especially when Alex wants to "teach you something," but the bond you have always had is undeniable. He wants to be your protector and (secretly) you love it!

You are a Daddy's Girl through and through, and I am okay with that! The way your daddy treats you and loves you is the sweetest thing in the world.  He loves all of us, but you are his princess, his one and only. And in my opinion, that is how it should be.

And then there is me, your mommy. No one in all the world loves you as much as I love you.  You are my heart.  My daughter. And I strive to be a better person and woman, because of you.  I know you are watching.  And I pray everyday that I am setting a good example for you. I want you to grow up to be strong and loyal and kind.   And sometimes that means admitting that I am wrong or impatient or unfair. It is important to know that no one is perfect but as long as you try to be your best self, that is all that matters.  One day someone will say to you, "like mother, like daughter." And when you hear those words, more than anything I want you to feel proud.

I love you, my Golden Girl.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Zachary is 3!!

Dear Zachary,

We have had such a fun week celebrating your birthday.  All of our family and your little buddies came over for a football party on Sunday!  You were so excited that it was your party and had a blast playing with your friends.  Your face was priceless as we all gathered around to sing happy birthday.  I looked around and saw love for you on every smiling face in the room.  On Tuesday, you turned three.  I went into your room and said, "Wake up birthday boy!!" You jumped right up and couldn't wait to start the day!  We headed off to school where we celebrated with Ninja Turtle yogurt and cupcakes at snack time.  Your grandparents came over for dinner and there were more presents and more cupcakes! You love to tell everyone that you are THREE now!

My big, big boy!  You are so independent. You can dress yourself and love picking out your own clothes.  You have been potty trained for months.  Soon after, you told me that you were a big boy so you didn't take naps anymore.  And that was that! You haven't napped since.  You are one stubborn kid.  You want what you want.  There is never any compromise with you!

You challenge me in ways that utterly exhaust me.  You are quite a trouble maker.  You love to start trouble and you aren't afraid to finish it too! But in your defense, you do say you are sorry...You say it a lot :)  And when you apologize, I have to say, "It's okay."  You don't mind making me mad, but you don't like me to stay mad at you.  And to be honest, I can't stay mad anyway.  You are too darn cute.  You know all the right things to say. When you throw your arms around my neck and say, "I love you Momma,"  I melt.  Or when you climb in my lap with a pile of books and say, "Let's snuggle," I could sit and read to you all night.

Zachary at THREE:

  • You are our baby whether you like to admit it or not. We absolutely adore you. 
  • You love to have Mommy and Daddy all to yourself.
  • You love your "sister" and your "brother." And you love to go in their rooms and take their stuff too!  As an oldest child, I feel their pain and try my best to keep you out!
  • Your favorite toys are little figures and legos.  You carry your "guys" around.
  • You love peanut butter on raisin bread, yogurt, bagels with cream cheese, and edamame
  • You love to dress up. At any given moment you might be Spiderman, a construction worker or a Ninja Turtle
  • You always have a hat on your head and gloves on your hands - even in the house
  • You always want to be with your "friends." You ask for Grayson, Brayden, Miles and Tanner to come over everyday
  • You still sleep with Bun Bun every night and always ask for it when you are sad or hurt
  • You don't like to watch tv but you do like movies like Toy Story, Frozen, Monsters U, and Despicable Me
  • You love all your big cousins and your "Sweet little Stella"
  • You love to talk on the phone and take bubble baths and play in the basement
  • You ride your Four Wheeler around like a boss (as Alex would say) 
  • You are such a funny kid.  Your facial expressions are hilarious.  We always know how you are feeling by the look on your face (you get that from me)
  • You talk from morning to night.  Your vocabulary is amazing.  You tell it like it is, and sometimes you use some not-so-nice words to do it. 
  • You are inquisitive, smart, silly and all-boy!

So, my Zachary.  Three years old.  Definitely not a baby anymore.  But as your Uncle Dave will tell you, you can grow up all you want, but you will always hold that special place in our hearts as the baby.  You will always be the one that completed our family of five, the little brother who has so much of Alex and Isabella in your eyes and your smile, and the one who can get away with so much more because you have a whole family answering to your every whim. You are the one who makes me crazy with your shenanigans,  but I am crazy in love with you. You will always be Daddy's buddy.  You will always be the center of our world, the four of us surrounding you with all our love and attention.  There is no one like you, baby boy, I mean "big boy" (wink wink).

I love you Zachary.  to infinity and beyond.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy 9th Birthday

Dear Alex,

Happy 9th Birthday!!! We have spent a wonderful week celebrating YOU.  Last weekend, we went to New York City with our family.  We shopped at the Lego Store, FAO Schwartz, and Dylan's Candy Bar.  We saw Christmas Spectacular at Radio City and Santa at Macy's on 34th Street.  We ate dinner at Carmine's where we sang Happy Birthday to you and Uncle Drew, and you ate the biggest dessert I have ever seen.  We ate at Ellen's Stardust Diner, where the whole restaurant sang "Happy Birthday" to you!  We visited the tree at Rockafeller Center and the Balto Statue in Central Park.

Then on Wednesday, you woke up a nine-year old.  I volunteered at school, so I could spend more time with you.  As we do each year, we had a wonderful birthday dinner of with your grandparents.  We had crab soup and Pralines and Cream ice cream cake - your favorites!

And then last night, we wrapped up your birthday celebration with a party at Sky Zone. You had a blast with all of your friends and of course, your favorite people in the world, Jake and Luke!

Even though, the birthday celebrations are over, I spend every single day celebrating you.  You are my heart.  Sometimes, I can't believe how lucky I am to be  mom of such a smart, kind, funny, loyal boy.  You make us proud everyday. You continue to excel in school.  You received all A's on your report card, and your teachers say you are an absolute joy to teach. At your conference last month, your teachers said that you have pride in your work, are invested in your learning, and you are like a "big brother" to the other kids. As a mom, I could not ask for more.  Yes, you want what you want and have been known to pout at times, but all in all you have one of the most kind hearts of anyone I know. Ever since you were little, you have been empathetic, sensitive, funny, loving and loyal.  These are traits that have grown with you.  These are the traits that make you the kind of person people want to be around.  You are a fun friend, a team player, and you are heart of our family.  You have a way of making those around you feel good about themselves and that, my son, is one of my most favorite things about you! Because as your mom, I look at the person you are and can see the man you are going to be...I know you will take care of those you love and that brings me so much joy, (especially because you love your momma most).

At nine years old:

  • you love hanging out with your friends
  • you are taking guitar lessons on your new red electric guitar
  • your favorite night of the week is Friday Movie Night with your family
  • you play lacrosse, basketball and soccer, and your dad is your coach and biggest fan
  • you are reading Harry Potter, and so am I! (I love our "book" talks each night)
  • you enjoy puzzles - "games that make your brain think"
  • you love playing games on your iPad, listening to music, running around the neighborhood with your friends  
  • your family comes first
  •  you are an amazing big brother to Isabella and Zachary.  You include them and protect them. You are patient (most of the time) and always put them first, even before yourself

Happy happy birthday Alexander.  Continue to be YOU! There is no one like you in all the world, and no one as lucky as me because I get to live my life as your mom.

Love you,