Tuesday, September 11, 2012

18 Months

Dear Lucy,

You are 18 months today.  Halfway to two!

I remember this time last year when you turned 6 months.  It really did feel like we leisurely climbed that first half of your first year of life and reached the top and then just flew down the other side and we're celebrating your first birthday in a blink.

I have a feeling that is going to happen this go around as well.

A lot has happened during our summer.  Full of visits and activities, but also a lot of leisurely family time as well.

You completed your Infant Aquatics class.  It was a big commitment, 4 days a week for 6 weeks.  But you went from being my little bird to my little fish.  You were such a good student!  You caught on fast and the best part for me was that you enjoyed yourself.  It was just amazing to watch Mrs. Jodi teach you to tap into survival instincts that were there inside of your little baby/toddler self.  I mean you were 16 months old and swimming!  You'll jump off the side of the pool or steps and swim underwater to us.  If we're too far away or you're trying to go to the other side, once you run out of air you just roll over on your back and float while you catch your breath and then turn back over and keep on kicking until you reach your destination.  You love to watch the videos of yourself and clap when you see yourself swimming.  Your dad and I plan on taking you to the YMCA pool during the fall and winter so you can keep it up.  Not to mention you like to practice floating and kicking in the bath tub.  It was a time and money investment, but the worth is immeasurable to us.  With the weather cooling and our explorations increasing, I'll have the ability to allow you to explore just a little bit farther when we're in the woods around streams and ponds and that brings even more relaxed joy to our outings.  And the confidence and freedom it gave you to truly play in the water was just a pleasure to watch.

You also started 'school' last month.  You go two days a week, from 9 to 1.  You love it. You're bringing home weekly art projects, your vocabulary is increasing rapidly, and I can see your confidence growing.  At orientation we were given some questions to fill out and bring back the first week of school.  One of the questions was, "What would you like to see your child accomplish this year?"  Your father and I answered, "For Lucy to be her confident, comfortable, silly self away from her mom and dad."  We felt like it was time to start teaching you to be yourself away from your comfort zone.  You have spent the first 500 and something days of your life with me and it was time for this small, simple little push.  I want to make sure that even at this young age, you're able to start letting your light shine!  I look forward, as the year progresses, to write down moments and milestones as you become more comfortable with your teachers and the other children and as you continue to grow further away from babyhood and closer to the glimpse of the little girl you will become.

Speaking of new communities, we have been going to a new church for around 6 months now but have really felt plugged in over the last several weeks.  Finding a church family has been something I have been praying for since your father and I got married and it's been a slow patient process.  But wouldn't you know it, our faithful Lord led us to a body of believers that has exceeded even our simple prayer request.  Lucy, I am so excited about this new family.  It is a new, younger church full of genuine, passionate, and loving people.  It's a church that doesn't want to just study the Bible, they want to live it.  It's a church ran by volunteers.  A church that isn't about serving ourselves, as much as it is about finding ways to serve our community.  I have met people that have a heart for mercy and justice and truly care about finding ways to love on the people that we are called to love.  I am so giddy about the possibilities and how I, as well as our family, am about to get stretched and even pushed out of my comfort zone to satisfy a tension and a calling to actively live out the love that Christ freely pours out on us.  Your father and I talk endlessly about how important that is for us as parents to show you.  We want a church experience for you that is more than teaching, learning and fellowship, but a body of Christ that gives and serves and loves, far outside the walls of the building they gather in each week.  I am so thankful for this answered prayer.

Another recent family event...we bought a cow!  No, not the kind that grazes the lawn and moos.  But a whole cow's worth of meat.  What we eat is so important, and we want you to learn about that importance and the tremendous benefits and responsibility of consuming good natural foods.  Food has the ability to heal and restore.  That's why our garden was so important to us.  But then you ended up being a caveman in a little girl's body.  You love meat...and fruit (Your teachers call you a fruit-tarian!).  But oh, your meat.  One of your favorite new words to say is actually sausage.  Although it sounds more like saw-saw.  You like to drag out each syllable and then add plenty of emphasis and gusto, usually including some arm pumps as well.  Anyways, it became increasingly important for us to make sure you were getting safe, quality meet.  After plenty of research and scouting, it was actually going to be more cost efficient to buy the whole cow.  That way we got to pick out a local, grass-fed, hormone-free, pampered, stress free cow.  I feel really good about what our family is eating, but I think your dad just likes to go look at the deep freezer filled with meat.

I guess I should also note, that last month marked the end of our breastfeeding relationship.  My goal was a year, and I didn't really foresee a year and half.  But it just happened that way.  I was able to help you through your one year molars, springtime colds, and continue building that immune system when you started school.  Plus, it was the only time you still looked like my baby.  It just felt right and I went with it.  I am so thankful for our journey together, especially considering it was one with such a rough and painful start.  I was tremendously humbled, I learned a lot, and I thank you for the good and the bad so that I can use this new wisdom for the next go around!

Your summer was filled with lots of other things.  Beach trips, a family reunion, family visits, and more.  But there is one more thing, a really BIG thing.  I have a new baby in my belly.  

You are going to be a big sister.

I wrote to your little brother or sister last week about how wonderful it is to have a big sister.  But the neat part is that I can also tell you how wonderful it is to be the big sister.  The fierceness with which you love them, the pride you feel in claiming them, and even during the stages when they are driving you crazy, the immense responsibility you feel to protect them is always there.  It is certainly something that will be a part of what shapes you.  As soon as he or she arrives, you will be different, never again the same.  But in such a good, rich way.  I have looked forward to giving you this gift.  And I know you will make the most of it.

Oh sweet Lucy, you are so much fun.  Your father and I spend 80% of our time with you just laughing!  You love dancing and just moving in general.  I can't play the piano without you joining in, but you've gone from banging to liking the way it sounds when you just play the individual keys.  You talk to yourself and to your dolls.  Your favorite sounds are animal noises and your building quite the repertoire.  One of your favorite games just warms my heart so much.  You gather one of your dolls and a bag and you wave goodbye and blow a kiss and then walk out of the room.  Then you come back in and throw your bag down and run over and give me a hug and kiss as I make a big deal about how much I missed you and I ask how your day was and you most certainly answer me.  Then you giggle, go get your bag, and we do the routine all over again.  I love that you are learning that coming and going doesn't have to be sad or scary.

You have plenty of attitude and we are in the tantrum phase.  They usually only occur when you're tired, duh!  That's when I have mine too :)  But we have been using time-out and you respond to it beautifully.  You sit for one minute and you keep your head down with your hands in your lap and usually take loud deep breaths and then when we bend down to tell you you're done you give us the biggest cheesiest grin and leap into our arms with a kiss.  So it's been less for discipline and more for teaching you how to take a breather and calm down when you start getting worked up.

You still have so much of your daddy in you.  You take tasks very serious and love being given a responsibility.  You  are already starting to pick up your toys before you leave the room.  Of course this isn't exactly consistent, but you do it on your own without being asked.  You still are the one that feeds the dogs and you help unload the dishwasher.  You love helping in the garden.  You watched me picking peppers the other day and went to another bush and started pulling the peppers off and placing them in the basket.  You actually lightened the work load.  Not bad for 18 month!

Lucy, the sound of your laughter still washes through my entire body.  I love how you smile with your entire face.  Even your little smirks reach your eyes.  I love that you still love to cuddle and snuggle.  I love that you look forward to being read to, as well as enjoy 'reading' to yourself.  I love you, I love you, I love you.
We have so much ahead of us Lucy Pearl.


Friday, September 7, 2012

12 Weeks

Dear 2nd Baby,

I thought awhile about how to address you in your letters.

I wanted to differentiate your letters from the ones I wrote to your sister while she was the one growing in my belly.  At first I was afraid calling you the ‘second baby’ would make you seem less important, second best.  How silly am I!  

I am a second born.  And it is a beautiful place to be.

I too, have an older sister.  And I can assure you that Lucy will take the big sister task as seriously as my sister did.  There is so much comfort and strength that comes from having someone walk ahead of you.  But not just anyone, someone whose friendship will span you entire life.  Someone who will have more memories intertwined with yours than anyone you will ever know.

You will learn a lot from your sister, as I’m sure she will from you.

So yes, you are my 2nd baby!  And what a blessing that is.

The physical 1st trimester experience has been pretty similar to my last.  My thoughts however, have been on a completely different journey this go around.  

It’s taking a lot longer to really sink in.  And it isn’t as much about the novelty of what it will be like to have and hold a baby.  I’m just flat out excited to meet you and find out what little person is being formed in me this time.  

I know that this time around my world won’t be turned upside down, the way it seems to happen with the first baby.  But you my love, will stretch and grow my world to even new and better and wonderful places.

I look forward to being able to share more and more of my heart with you and your sister.  But here’s a little piece of it I’d like to share now…
I fell in love with backpacking.
I’ve backpacked throughout the Southeast, Northern Minnesota, Montana, and Alaska.  
I’ve spent weekends, weeks, and months in wilderness.  Some places with trails, some without.
Here’s what drew me in.
There’s the physical pain and discomfort that you then transcend and your body becomes stronger and more capable then you ever thought possible.  There’s the peace and tranquility and healthy fear of being in a place where there is nothing made by man.  The sights, the sounds, the smells, are all designed and placed there directly by God.  There’s the self satisfaction of carrying everything you need to live and survive on right there on your back. 
You take all that, mix it together and you have a ball of challenging simplicity.  That’s what did me in
The simplicity of it all.  You wake up, pack up, move one foot in front of the other, reach your destination, set up camp, cook over a fire, enjoy a meal that directly feeds a tired and hard-worked body,  you breath in your surroundings, and you go to bed, and start over with the sun.  Simplicity.
That might sound horrible to some people!  But even with such a simple routine, every day was different.  New sights, new challenges, new goals met.  You could take your time, or push through it.  I would feel more pride and fulfillment and sense of accomplishment and purpose during those times.  And it would be such a confusing adjustment to come back to a world where a day spent running errands or checking of lists and ‘accomplishing’ 1,000 different tasks, seemed like I wasn’t doing anything.
I tell you all that, because that is how I feel about being a mother.

Yes, there are so many elements and responsibilities and tasks that make up motherhood.  But deep, deep in the core of my heart, my goal is simple.

To love my children the way Christ has loved me.  To live so that when you look to me, you turn to Jesus.

I’m not called to perfection.  And sweet baby, I am not!  I’m not very organized, or efficient, or even very productive at times.  Yes, these things are important and I will always be striving to be better.  

But that’s not what drives my calling to be a mother.

And let me clarify that simple does not equal easy.  It’s quite often the very opposite.  It’s not the easy that I’m after, just the simplifying.

There will be plenty of challenges, and valleys and mountain tops, and obstacles.  There are with your sister and I know there will be with you, learning to become a family of four.

But I look at Lucy, and I think of you and the simplicity of it all steals my heart over and over.  It’s what allows motherhood to bring peace, and joy, and satisfaction even amidst all the chaos and my shortcomings.

Baby, I will love you.  I will love you unconditionally, I will love you with patience, and I will love you with joy.

Not because I’m this great mother.  But because that is how I am loved by our God.   

I am not perfect.  You will see me fail and grow many times, but HE teaches me patience and joy when I have none.  And forgives… always.  

That’s what I want to offer you.  

That’s the first part of my heart I wanted to share.  I am not and will never be perfect, and child, neither will you be! 

But I serve, and we are loved by a perfect God.  

So take comfort, and grow my sweet baby.