Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dear Lulah {month 14}

Dear Lulah,

You are hard to put words to.

There are moments I look at you and I still see my quiet, even, little babe who just rode around tucked in your sling, my favorite accessory.

But then I blink.  And I'm watching this dynamic infant/child full of yin and yang trying to navigate her wants and needs in this world.

Your vocal chords match your physique.  Nothing weak or wimpy about either of them.

It's not that you are high maintenance, but you have only 1 decibel of sound when you have a need or want.  And it's loud.

You have already perfected the scream and limp body thrown to the ground when you are unhappy.  It is quite the sight to behold.  And to be honest, it can take it's toll on me.

It's new territory for me.

It's a part of my daily routine that can not be avoided.  And for your sake, I wouldn't want to plan out our days simply based on how to avoid your tantrums.  You express yourself passionately, and that is who you are.  But we all have to learn how to handle the 'no's'  and disappointments in our lives.

Lulah, it's hard.

But you know what I'm realizing?  The more challenging the process of teaching you patience and self-control is, the deeper the lessons are felt in my own heart. 

You are becoming this huge force of transformation in my life.

And that Lulah, is some good stuff.

That God of ours.  He is good and wise.

The stuff that can overwhelm me, defeat me, exhaust me, anger me.  He takes it, and if I surrender to Him, He lets it mold and shape me more like Him.

But let me just tell you something else baby girl.

So yes, you scream big.  But you love big.  You laugh big.  You explore big.  You cuddle big.  You live big.  And it is incredible to witness.

I love watching you sleep, taking in every still part of you.

I love watching you play, your every mannerism makes me smile and laugh.  

You are hilarious.  Barely a year old and you move with this air of confidence.  You have no desire to perform or people please.  But you have no problem expressing when you are pleased with yourself.  Whether it's throwing a ball, "dressing" yourself with whatever fabric you have draped around you, busting out some dance moves, stacking your blocks, or 'reading' your own books.  You squish your eyes and nose tight, big open mouth grin, and you squeal and clap your hands.

All you have to do is teeter and stagger into the room and I can't help but smile.  When you are not resting on my hip with your hand down my shirt, I just like watching you move through your world.

There are times when it is way too easy to focus on the hard and the challenge.  But Lulah, you are so worth the choosing of joy.  I choose to be swept up in the joy you bring to our lives.

I'm still your favorite place to rest.  You love sitting in your Papa's lap and sharing his food.  And you save your biggest, fullest laugh for your sister.

I'm so thankful God make you, you.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Party Time {1+3}


Saturday we celebrated our two girls.  We could not have asked for a sweeter day.

Spring made an appearance, crisp and sunny.  Family drove hours to gather with us.  Friends arranged their Saturdays to stop by.  My talented mother made the flower 1 and 3 and their beautiful cakes.  A dear friend took simple flowering branches and created some beautiful arrangements.  And to keep it simple, all I did was use what I  Hanging from where ever I could hang them, as well as a rolling slide show.  An art gallery of my favorite treasures.

Add some music and giant cookies, and I'll call that a party...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dear Lulah {year 1}

Dear Lulah,

Here we are darling.  One year.  A year ago today.  Marking the craziest, most intense 5 hours and 45 minutes of my life. A ride that ended with me clutching you to my chest in our back bathroom tub.  Me full of laughter and shock and relief.  Your father full of adrenaline and pride.  The room full of miraculous love and peace.  A story I told, here.

The story of your arrival is truly one of my most prized treasures.  A lesson in finding the balance between preparing, training, working towards a goal, yet releasing fears and my own plans into the hands of the Author of life.  To work hard for a plan but to be rooted in faith.  Steadfast but adaptable.  It's a balance I try to find at the very core of my being.  A balance I think goes hand in hand with motherhood.

My second daughter, what an aide you have been for learning that very balance of planning and releasing...planning and releasing...planing and releasing...again and again and again.

This past year I've been learning, even more, how incorporating structure and routine can bring peace into a household of littles.  But yet hold on to that with a rigid grasp, and it can make you crazy.

Again, balance.

Lulah, last night I nursed you to sleep and laid you in your crib.  Then laid down next to your sister to wait for her to fall asleep as well.  Like most nights, this is when my mind travels through the events of the day.  The laughter, the fun, the joy.  But I also think on the moments I wish would disappear.  I snapped when I should have had more patience.  I should have handled this differently.  I should have done better with that.  I should have shown more love and grace in that moment.  And I offer up a silent prayer...

Lord forgive me.  Teach me your ways, so my girls can see You.  Protect them from the harm that I can cause.  Erase my ugliness from today and help me start new tomorrow. 

I will always be a mom that needs a Savior.

Last night struck me deeper though. 

Am I being as intentional with your first birthday as I was with your sister's?  Do I show my love equally?  Give my attention equally?  Is that even possible?  The classic wrestle with, 'am I enough?'  I almost ache sometimes wanting you girls to know, truly know, how much I love you.

Wiping away tears, I remember.  The unfailing love and comfort I receive from God.  His goodness.  His faithfulness.  And it's what I want for you and your sister.

As much as I joyfully and gratefully give this season of life to the service of motherhood, and work and strive to do it right and to do it is not me that will unfailingly provide those things for you.  It is God.  It always comes back to God my dear.
But guess what Lulah?  Do you know what I NEVER question?  You are such a gift!

You have blessed me.  Blessed this family.   You have so much love to give and you love to give it.  Having you wrap your squishy little arms around my neck, watching you wrap them around your sister, your dad, family, friends...  And you squeeze.  You genuinely squeeze and pat your hand on my back.  Then you look up grinning, waiting for the, 'Awwwww'.

Love.  It really is the word that just sums you up.

I've been writing down more of the classic 'stats'.  Your weight, your height, your likes and dislikes, and things like that.  I know they will be fun to look back on.    But today, I just wanted to share my heart.

Lulah, it's Spring.  There's a new fresh world for us to explore.  And you have no idea how your world is about to change.  You are on the brink of new abilities, new experiences, new perspectives.  I can not wait to watch your world expand.

Ready again to practice squeezing you tight...and letting a little more go.    


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dear Lucy {year 3}

Dear Lucy,

I've done my best to really, truly heed the cliche, but well meaning, advice that comes tumbling down on top of you the moment you have your first child...

time flies
you will miss this
i wish i would have held them more
i wish i would have slowed down

When you were born, I decided to make a conscious, intentional decision to live that advice out with you.  Or at least try.  There's a reason why mothers all over the world, all across the span of time, say the same things about how quickly these early years slip by and how desperately they miss it.

So I've lived these past 3 years in this limbo of excitement for what's ahead of you, but refusing to let the wonder and magic, even the mundane and crazy, of the now pass me by.  And here we are at three.  And this birthday is strangely harder than your 2nd and even your 1st.  I just can't imagine any other Lucy than the one in front of me right now.  This toddler/girl creation.  Our conversations, your humor, your perception of things, your kindness, your thirst to know things, your unbelievable ability to forgive me over and over and over all fills me immensely.

So Lucy, I've read some essays that talked about how we raise little girls to be focused on just their looks and that we teach them that is where their value is because we immediately want to tell girls how pretty/cute/beautiful they are.  I totally agreed.  No more 'you're cute' comments.  Besides, you have many amazing qualities, so it shouldn't be that hard.

I was shocked.  Trying to not tell you how beautiful you are, was like asking me to not use your name.  That sounds dramatic.  But the number of times a day I am stopped in my tracks because of a smile from you, a laughter heard, the clearness of your blue eyes, your crazy, whispy blond are beautiful.

Then I realized, the beauty that article is talking about is standard, of-this-world kind of beauty.  And that is not what I am talking about.

You are beautiful because I look at you and know you are part me and part your father.  You are beautiful because you carry traits from your great-grandfather.  You are beautiful because you break out in song all the time, the way I like to do.  You are beautiful because you are agile and confident in how your body moves, just like your father.  You are beautiful because when you don't know I can hear, you check on Lulah with such tenderness and love.  You are beautiful because when I have snapped and lost my patience and I tell you I'm sorry, you respond with a genuine, 'thank you, mama' and wrap your arms around my neck.  You are beautiful because you teach me that it really is that simple to forgive and love without conditions.  You are beautiful Lucy Pearl McDowell, because you are exactly who God made you to be.  And that, is the beauty that takes my breath away.

So what does that mean?  It means that as the years go by, we will talk.  And talk, and talk, and talk.  About what beauty is, about what beauty means, about where beauty comes from.  You are beautiful because you were created in the image of our Creator.  And our Creator is beautiful.  And that beauty is in every single person.  That's what I want you to grow up knowing.

I've long since been blown away and moved by the beauty of God's creation.  And you my dear, are no exception. 

A few days ago I asked you, 'if you could do anything you wanted on your birthday, what would it be?'  I braced myself for your response, knowing I could easily regret the question.

You answered, 'I want to plant something.  I want to garden.  Pink flowers!  I want to get flowers.'

So we're going to go pick out some pink flowers and then play in the dirt.

And celebrate you.

Happy Birthday Love.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dear Lulah {month 11}

Dear Lulah,

Dressing for bed after tonight's bath and I realize...

Low and behold, your thighs are shrinking!

It's true.  That outer shelf is less a shelf.  The inner rolls creeping farther away from each other.

Not surprising though.  You pull up on everything and love to walk assisted by grown up hands or objects you can force along with you.  Your exercise level has certainly increased ten fold this last month.

The first signs of curl have made their appearance.  The little flip in the back.  Daily it seems to grow longer, more length flipping this way and that.

Your vocabulary has increased by the word Uh Oh.  It is ridiculously and utterly precious.  You've also upped your babble game.  Always with oomph and purpose.  Often imitating the rhythms of our words.

Your two middle teeth are almost completely visible when you smile.  Soon, no more fangs.

Lulah, you've been really fun this month.  You laugh more.  Able to pick up on subtle moods of those around you.  You love being surprised and chased and you love being 'gotten'.

Next month you turn One.

With that, there is the expected mourning of losing my baby.  Moving away from me being the source of your everything, being able to protect you from so much more than I will be able to with each step forward.

But the glimpse of who you're becoming?  Those glimpses are becoming stronger and more visible each day.  And Lulah, they fill me with so much joy and excitement.  I can't help but smile about what's ahead of us.

You my dear, laugh loud, smile big, relax with ease, communicate passionately, and you love well.  So, so well.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Snow days and baby season

Being 'snowed in'  is not much different then this season I'm in now.  My daily routine defined by new restrictions.  The inability to freely come and go on any whim.  It seems snow and babies have that in common.

And as with both, babies and snow that is, I can choose to focus on how they force my plans to change and can fester a feeling of being stuck.  Or, I can focus on the beauty of a completely new landscape and enjoy the magic that something so fleeting can bring.

And magical it certainly is...babies and snow.

Oh, and you know that moment when an almost 3 year old is cold and wet and tired and ready to go inside and take a break and a certain father thinks that it would be the perfect moment to bombard her with a massive snow boulder...?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Yesterday we took advantage of the springish winter weather and headed out to wander.

One day, we will walk out our back door to a place like this.

But for now, we jump in the car and drive until we find a place to fill up our souls and tire out our legs.