Monday, December 9, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday

Dear Alex,

Tomorrow is your birthday. Your 8th birthday. They are calling for snow.  You are excited at the possibility of having a Birthday Snow Day.  And even though I don't like snow, I am hoping for a Snow Day too.  I want to spend the whole day with you.  Even though when you are home, you tend to do your own thing, I love when you are here, close to me. Reminds me of the good old days when it was Alex and Mommy time all day everyday!

I can't believe I am the mom to an 8 year old.  It seems like yesterday that I was at the doctor's office, and they told me it was time to head to the hospital.  I remember every detail of that day.  And when you turned one, I couldn't believe how quickly that first year flew by... and if I could do that first year over again, I would in a second.  Actually, I wish more than anything I  could go back and do the past 8 years over again. (well, I might fast forward through the terrible three's). Daddy and I cannot believe how big you are almost as tall as me, and we wear the same size shoes.  My chubby little bald baby is now a tall, skinny kid with a great "head of hair" that you refuse to get cut. And I miss that baby everyday, but I love watching you grow as each year passes...

Alex's Top 8 at 8

8. You are a wonderful friend.  You love hanging with your buddies, riding bikes, playing in the woods, having sleep overs, and playing video games.  We just had a video game party last weekend.  All your friends came over for pizza and to play video games in a game truck to celebrate your birthday.

7. You are loyal to your family.  You love your family most.  You know that family comes first and you treat your cousins, grandparents and aunts and uncles with love and respect.

6. You are an amazing big brother.  You take such good care of Isabella and Zachary.  You worry about them and you look out for them. They look up to you.  Zachary asks for you all day long when you are at school.

5. You are becoming quite the athlete. You have a good attitude and enjoy swimming, basketball, lacrosse and soccer.  You are a team player and your effort makes us so proud.

4. You are a wonderful student.  Not only are you super smart, but as your second grade teacher says,  you are "invested in your learning." You take pride in your work and your abilities. I am constantly in awe of your brain and how it works.

3. You are faithful.  You pray to God to thank Him for His gifts and ask Him to take care of those you love.

2. You are a model first-born son.  You are such a sweet boy, and although there are times you act too cool, there are just as many times you show Dad and me how much you love us.  You hug and kiss us goodnight and when we say, "May God bless you," you always say it back to us. When we were in Disney last month, I never wanted to leave because you held my hand and stayed right by my side the whole time.  I love those fleeting moments when you still are my "little boy."

1. You have a huge heart. I know I already mentioned how you treat your family and friends, but I feel like I need to say it again.  Never have I met a child with such a kind and empathetic heart. You always think of others, even if you don't know them.  When we were in Disney, a little girl was lost.  You were so worried about her finding her mom. You said to me, "Mom. You have to help her." When someone you love is sad, your big brown eyes fill with tears.   You have a silly sense of humor, and you love to make people laugh. You, of course have your moments when you torment your sister or don't listen to directions, but most of the time your innate goodness shines through in your words and how you treat others. You are a truly wonderful human being. I can never tell you enough how proud I am of you, and how truly blessed I am to be your mom.

I love you sweet boy,

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I know. I know.  I have been terrible about writing posts.  Life seems to get busier and crazier by the day.   Don't get me wrong, I love my crazy life, but I truly feel like there aren't enough hours of the day to do it all much less write about it.

But on this day, I am taking a few quiet moments to reflect on the past year...

This year I have been lucky enough to continue to be blessed with beautiful, smart, loving children and a husband who works hard and loves us with his whole heart.  We have made wonderful memories together at the beach, Turks and Disney World. We have celebrated occasions both big and small - birthdays, cookouts with friends, long summer days at the pool, watching the Ravens win the Super Bowl.  I was my children's biggest fan as they learned to walk and talk, played sports, danced in recitals, swam on the swim team, and achieved success in school. Life has been good to us this year.

And this year and every year, I am most grateful for my family. Today at the dinner table, we all went around and said what we were thankful for, and as I sat and listened to my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, children and Poppy say what they were thankful for I realized we were all saying the same thing...each other. We are a big, loud, crazy bunch who would be lost without one another.

Of all the wonderful things in my life,  I am most blessed to have witnessed a true miracle, Stella.  Born so early, she has shown a fierceness like I have never seen before. She is the sweetest little lady.  Her smile lights up the whole world.  We all sit and stare at her. She is mesmerizing. There isn't a person alive who is immune to her. Everyone who meets her falls in love at first sight.  She has had such a tough road in her young life, but you would never know when you are in her presence.  She looks you right in the eye as if to say, "Don't worry. I've got this. I'm going to be okay." We are all thankful to have Stella in our lives. And if Stella could have said what she was thankful for today, this is what she would have said,

"I'm thankful for my mommy.  She is my heart. She takes such good care of me. We are an unstoppable team, Mommy and me.  I am thankful for Grandma and Pop who help Mommy and sing to me and call me their pretty girl.  I am thankful for all of my aunts and uncles and Poppy who love me as if I was their own.  I am thankful for my cousins who talk about me all the time, who draw me pictures, and who pray for me every night. They are my brothers and sisters, my protectors. I am thankful for the doctors and nurses who are helping me grow and get well.  My family, I am your miracle. Your star. Have faith in God and have faith in me."

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy 5th Birthday Isabella

Dear Isabella,

Yesterday was your 5th birthday.  You are a whole hand.  You crawled into bed with me yesterday morning and we snuggled.  I told you the story of the day you were born. Wasn't it just yesterday that Daddy, Alex and I rushed to the hospital on that Labor Day morning? Could it really be that was five years ago?  I swear it feels like minutes.  I blinked. You are no longer a baby, no longer a toddler. You are my big girl. My sweet girl.  My social girl. My curly girl. My best girl.

Every time I write a letter to you, I find myself  wanting to say the same things.  You may have grown taller and your hair has grown longer over the past year, but so much of you has remained the same. You still love your brothers and daddy best.  You have the same friends (plus some new ones) and the same best friend. You and Kaitlyn became friends before you were even two years old, and you continue to be as close as sisters. She truly is a member of our family.  Speaking of family, you have an amazing bond with your family, especially your cousins. You love Gigi and pedicures and making crafts and riding your bike. You are stubborn. You are a leader.  You are appreciative. You are so smart and articulate.  You are learning to add and write words. You love to listen to chapter books at bedtime. You have learned to swim. You love to dance and listen to music on your Ipod. Your imagination is incredible. You are the light of our lives.  Without you with that voice and those eyes and that smile...our lives would not be nearly as bright.

We spent the summer talking about the day you would turn 5 and planning your Safari birthday party. You made the guest list, you shopped with me for the decorations, you chose the type of cake and cupcakes you wanted. We picked out dresses...mine cheetah print and yours giraffe print, of course. We went for pedicures and got our toenails painted "shocking pink" with black tiger stripes.

We had a wonderful time at your party.  The yard was decorated like a safari complete with bamboo and animal prints on everything...the lanterns, the desserts, the tablecloths, plates and napkins.  The DJ played your favorite songs.  Ms. Shari worked her magic and transformed all your friends into safari animals.  It was so hot out that it felt like we were in African on a real safari.  You said your favorite parts of the party were getting your face painted, playing with your friends and cousins, and that Stella came to your party.

You thanked Daddy and I over and over again for your party. You are welcome, my girl.  Anything for you, always....

I love you,

Saturday, July 13, 2013

18 Months Old


When I think that 18 months ago, I was on bed rest, I have to laugh.  I hated every minute of it. I was worried about you, I was restless, I was bored out of my mind. HA!  18 months later, what I wouldn't give for a little rest...

You, my little Z, never sit still.  I chase you around the house, the yard, the pool, the beach every waking moment of the day! We call you our little "troublemaker" (lovingly, of course).  If there is mischief to be found, you find it! If there is a puddle, you jump in it. If there is a chair, you climb on it. If there is a ball or food or a toy, you throw it.  You fuss to go "outside" and are happiest walking around the yard with a lacrosse stick in hand.  You even know how to cradle.  Daddy is thrilled.  You love feeding the "fish" and riding on the "golf cart" to the "pool." If you are in the house, you refuse to play with toys or watch a show.  Instead you like to empty my cabinets and throw everything in the "trash." 

You say, "Momma. Momma. Momma" over and over and over when you want something until I figure out what it is that you are asking for at the moment.  Like most kids, you do not like the word, "No." You want to be on the go, and I hear "get down" if I try to pick you up.

You are talking more and more.  You ask for a "bagel" and "cream cheese" for breakfast.  You ask for your "milk" or "water," and if  I hand you the wrong cup, I better duck because it is getting thrown. You know all your body parts and you can count to three.  You always ask to "brush teeth" and you love "big bird." You love to cuddle "bun bun"when you go "night night."

You are Mr. Social.  I always say that no one is a stranger to you.  You smile that big goofy smile and win over everyone you meet. But no one loves you more than your family.  We all love you to pieces. "Al-ee" and "Bell-ba"think you are the best baby in the world.  I agree. The best. The most active.  The cutest. The happiest.   And I don't think I ever met another person who wouldn't agree with me.

Happy half birthday Zac-a-doodle.
Love you,

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy Half Birthday Alex

Dear Alex,

Today is your half birthday.  I have been a mom for 7 and 1/2 years. In just a few days, you will have completed first grade. You have excelled in school this year. You are so very smart.  You love to read, write, and draw cartoons.  Math is like second nature to you! Your critical thinking skills amaze me.

You have been having so much fun this Spring.  We took a family vacation back to Turks and Caicos.  I always say that this is our special place - mine, daddy's and yours.  We had a great time with Isabella, Zachary and all the Beynons.  You snorkeled and saw a sea turtle and went down the big water slides.  We both cried a little when we had to leave.

 You did an outstanding job in basketball and lacrosse this year.  Daddy bought you a "bounce back" and you love to put your music on and go out there and practice. Your "uniform" these days consists of Nike or UA shirts, LAX shorts and bright socks pulled up to your knees.  You love playing in the woods, on the Smith's tennis courts and at the pool with your friends. All of a sudden my little baby is running around the neighborhood with his buddies. It makes me so nervous, but you are growing up and this momma has to learn to let go...but only a little bit!!

Last week you brought your writing journal home from school.  This was your last entry:

Hello. It's Alex and I want to tell you about me.  I'm very nice and I'm also sweet.  Don't forget caring and awesome too. I'm cute, I mean look at that face." 

I couldn't have said it better myself.

You are the best kid.  Your heart is huge. You are sensitive, silly and serious all rolled into one! You make me proud to be your mom.  When I look at you and the person you are already at 7 (and 1/2), I feel so good about myself.  You make me feel like I'm doing something right. And even though you are no longer a baby, you are still my sweet boy.  You are my protector, my cuddle bug (I won't tell your friends), my buddy (although you are daddy's best buddy, but I'm okay with that), and my fellow beach bum. And after a long day, I look forward to the few precious minutes we spend together at bedtime, talking and reading.  It is the very best part of my day, because I get to spend it with you, my first born.

I love you so much!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Isabella 4.5

Dear Isabella,

Another six months have come and gone in our lives, my girl.  You are getting taller and smarter and your hair is growing longer everyday. But as I went back and reread your letters from your fourth birthday ( and even from a year ago (, I realize that so many things have stayed the same.  You are still imaginative, and friendly, and loving.  You are still stubborn, sometimes to the point of infuriating. I absolutely love that you haven't changed all that much.  Your personality has been your very own since you were a baby.  I hope it never changes.  Even with a temper tantrum thrown now and then, you are perfect.

You have always been and always will be my social girl! You treat your brothers, cousins, and your friends like they are the center of your universe.  In actuality, I think you are the center of their lives.  You are the sun.  Your light and warmth radiate from that beautiful smile.  Everyone wants to be around you.  You are a leader, but a kind and fair one.  You include everyone and make them feel special.  Your imagination make games fun. Your sense of humor make bellies laugh.  Your knack for choreography make people dance.

At four and a half, you still love Gigi and stuffed animals, dancing and dressing up (but now you and Kaitlyn are adding make-up to your ensembles), baking and reading with mommy, crafts and girl movies, pedicures and bubble baths, yogurt drinks and mini muffins. You are still your daddy's girl and your Mommy's heart.

At My Gym with Finley

At Build-a-Bear with Mommy
Daddy's girl

At Beauty and the Beast with Alex
Valentine Playdate with Kaitlyn and Brynn
All dressed up!  
My Heart

Today when you woke up Alex sang half of "Happy Birthday to You." Kaitlyn spoiled you with a half birthday gift. Then you were off to school with a half birthday treat to share with your friends - pink sugar cookies that we baked yesterday.  After school, you had a play date with Kaitlyn. And now we are getting ready to open a few little half birthday treats from mommy and daddy and read some books before bed.

I love you so much my little sunshine.

Isabella - 4.5

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy First Birthday!

Dear Zachary,

Happy birthday baby boy!  One year old.  No longer an infant.  It is a bittersweet day for me.  Alex said it best today, "I don't want him to grow up.  I want him to always be our little man." I agree.  I want you to be my baby forever. I even want the sleepless nights rocking and holding you. I never really minded them, because I knew they were fleeting.  You can't stay a baby forever, but as I told Alex tonight, you will always be his little brother and our youngest child.   Before you, we were a happy little family, but I always knew you were waiting to come into our lives. You have brought us so much joy. You complete our family in a way that I can't even put into words. I thank God every single day for you and the love we all feel for you.

This morning you woke up happy, as you always do! Your brother and sister could not wait to wish you a Happy Birthday.  After breakfast, Mr. Scott took Alex and Isabella to church so Mommy and Daddy could finish getting ready for your party.  But I'll tell you a little secret...we didn't spend the whole time getting ready...instead we sat in the family room with you and just you for a little bit. We just watched you play and babble and enjoyed a few minutes with only you on your very special day.

This afternoon we had a wonderful party. Family and your little friends filled this house. We celebrated with yummy food and cake and all things Monster.  The look on your face when we sang "Happy Birthday" was priceless.  You dug right into the cake.  You gobbled it up with a little help from your sister and some of your friends. You had so much fun being held by everyone and playing with your toys.  You even sat with me the whole time I opened all your gifts!

All that partying wore you out. Tonight I put you in your crib with your bunny and you went right sleep. Never heard  a peep out of you.  Until about an hour ago.  You have been up in your crib playing your music and babbling.  I went up at one point and you were standing up wide awake.  When you saw me, you smiled your big toothy grin.  I couldn't resist.  I picked you up, and we sat in the rocking chair. Maybe the cake today gave you a sugar rush or maybe you knew how badly I needed just a few more minutes to snuggle you today.  But whatever the reason, we sat there for quite a while giggling like fools. I will never as long as I live forget your first birthday, and those moments with just you and me will always be my favorite part of this wonderful day.

A few things I want you to know about you at ONE:

You are not a man of many words (yet).  You say, "Ma, Dada, Pop, Bottle, Balloon, Tickle-Tickle." You love balloons, and the house was filled with them today for you Monster Party.  You kept saying, "Ooh Balloon."

You crawl, scoot, and cruise all over the place.  You can stand by yourself for a long time but aren't quite ready to take those first steps. 

You cry when Alex and Isabella leave for school in the morning.  You try to crawl out the door after them.  You love them so much, and they think you are the best little brother ever!

Every morning you cuddle with daddy, and you love love love him! You greet him every evening with the biggest smile.  You will crawl clear across the house to get to him when he walks in the door! During the day, you hold the phone up to your ear and say, "Da Da Da Da."

You are a social boy!  You love to be around people.  I always joke that if people make eye contact with you, they are in trouble because you will want to be their friend for life.  When we spend time with our family, you never cry.  Everyone always talks about how you are the best baby. You are always so happy, even if you have missed your nap, as you usually do on Sundays at Grandma and Pop's house! 

You love your bunny, macaroni and cheese, veggie sticks, climbing stairs and playing in the cabinets, music (especially "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed"), books, anything electronic (the phone and the remote are always finding their way into your hands), being outside, tickles (you love to tickle your own belly), and bath time.

I look forward to each and everyday because you are mine all mine. I know that each year is going to go by faster than the one before. I promise to cherish this time that you are with me day in and day out. I will not wish this time away, because all too soon you will be a big boy just like Alex.  But no matter how big you get, you will always be my baby, my youngest, the piece of the puzzle that completed my heart.

I love you with every ounce of my being! Happy Happy Birthday, Zachary, my love!