Maxine is four!

 

Dear Maxine,

We have been counting down to this day for about 75 days. It’s your fourth birthday!

It’s hard for me to describe how much I love you. I am proud of the way you have been putting away your toys when you are all done playing, without being asked. This shows what a big girl you are becoming! I enjoy playing games with you, and it’s a lot of fun to play in the sand with you, too! You are a very creative, artistic girl with a natural talent for art and creating, and you quite enjoy this type of activity. I hope as you get older that you continue to practice and build your artistic talents.

We have seen many changes this year. Grandma and Grandpa Morrow went home in April. We sold our house and bought a new house in a new neighborhood. You got a new bedroom. You got a new bicycle, which you were not sure about riding but now you love. You’ve moved up classrooms a couple of times in preschool. You have learned to memorize and sing songs, books, and movies. Thanks to one of your preschool teachers, Ms. Stacy, you love story time and the library. Your favorite color is purple, and you find joy in your My Little Ponies, in unicorns, rainbows, PJ Masks, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, cereal with rainbows (Lucky Charms) and “bars” (granola bars). Your favorite food is still pancakes, which I agree is a magical food, and I believe that you will always love sweets and treats, your favorite thing to ask for.

Just in the last two days, you have received 12 tokens for following rules, helping around the house, and being kind. That’s so many tokens for just two days, quite an accomplishment.

Along with all of your wonderful traits, you bring me challenges daily. This helps me to grow and learn new ways of being a mom to you, and to learn to adapt to your way of being in this world, which can be a challenging place to live right now. And my goal is to help you to learn how to live in it in ways that are productive and meaningful to you. I hope you grow to be kind and helpful toward others, and to be adventurous in a world that can be intimidating and feels limiting at times. I see my job as your mama as a guide or role model, which is actually the toughest job I have ever had.

Thank you for finally coming down from heaven to be with me, with our family, and for being the hardest teacher I’ve ever had. I will always love you, even if you say I’m “not [your] best friend!”

Love, Mama

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Flora is one

 

It’s official: Flora is one!

Parents will tell you that every child has their own personality and siblings can be vastly different from one another. Now, a year into being Mom of Two, I see it’s really true. How do two children from the same parents have wildly different personalities and abilities. It’s amazing.

Flora has blossomed into the sweetest soul. She is affectionate, gentle, and sensitive. She loves to give kisses and head-butts (“loves”). At a year old, she says five words (Mama, Dada, Hi, Papa, and All Done); stacks blocks up to five high; turns the pages of books and studies the pictures; sorts shapes and small items into a slot with ease; and is close to cruising but not quite there yet. She loves stories, and playing whatever anyone else is playing, including sissy. And speaking of sissy, Maxine is still coming to terms with having to share and play with Flora, and every once in a while, Flora will shove or pull on Maxine’s shirt sleeve to express frustration or displeasure at being excluded or having a toy taken from her hands. It’s actually really cute and amusing to watch, but I try to not laugh out loud because I don’t want to encourage either of their behaviors.

Flora, One | February 2018
Flora, One | February 2018

It is complete joy being Flora’s mom. She has brought confidence back to my role as a mother. She restored my confidence in myself as a person, a woman, a scholar. She is the reason I chose to go back and get a Masters. And she reminds me what it is to be joyful and loving and full of the love the Spirit has for each of us. She helps me be a better mother to Maxine, which I’ve likely documented here on this blog as a challenge (more on this in a future post). Flora reminds me to be safer, to make the right decisions, to lean in. She reminds me to be gentle with others and myself. And she makes me love motherhood more than I thought possible. My favorite part of the day is walking through the door saying, “Helloooo, Baby!”, and seeing her raise her arms up for a hug. I absolutely love playing with her. She shows determination and perseverance and already has a love for learning. She watches us do something and catches on like she’s been doing it for 100 years.

I feel so proud to be the mom of this little girl, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of her (and Maxine’s) growth in this space. Take a look below at her first year.

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Life Lately: January 2018

Wow, friends! Has it really been over six months since my last post? #Momlife and work life have me wading a bit in the deep end of the pool. I decided in early June to go back to work and (thankfully!) immediately found a position with my previous employer. The working conditions could not be better for me or my family, and I’m already familiar with the responsibilities of the position, so it has generally been an easy transition. Though the thought of leaving the baby at home was challenging – she was only three months old, being out of the house daily has made me a better mom to both girls. But I applaud so hard the moms who are better moms when they stay home with their children; they have a true gift and talent that I definitely do not have. In staying home with my older daughter, Max, who turned three in November, I realized that I wasn’t being the best mom I could be, nor was I being the best version of myself while I was at home. I think that is the great thing about motherhood as a state of being; it is diverse. We come from all walks of life, all parenting styles, all types of love languages, all varying ways of managing the household and kids, and all levels of simply being and getting through each exhausting day.

Parenting my older daughter is not what I expected it to be. I had always imagined having a daughter, and while, yes, she would be challenging, she wouldn’t be anywhere near the energy level of a boy. We would play dolls and learning games. She would sit next to me while I read her picture books about rabbits and frogs and fairies. She would excitedly let me brush and style her hair. She would be sweet and polite and happy to go to bed at the end of the day. Are you laughing yet!? Max is anything but a stereotypical girl. She has as much or more energy than the boys in her preschool class. She excels in art – painting, is her favorite form, but getting her to sit long enough to complete a full picture is impossible. She prefers grazing on snacks while running around the house to sitting at the table for a meal. One minute, she’s a doctor; the next, an architect building a boat or constructing a train. Following that, she’s racing cars down the living room floor. And this isn’t new; she’s been active since she was an infant–always needing to be engaged with someone and something (bless her heart).

I watch her sister now and they couldn’t be more different. And while, yes, I realize all children in one family can be vastly different from one another, it never ceases to amaze me how different Lo is from Max. She will sit and play with blocks or finger puppets or an activity cube for a half hour, alone. She will cuddle with us and loves to be kissed on. She giggles and laughs at everything her sister does and attempts to practice fine motor skills with us if we engage her. She is trying to crawl and loves to stand with one of us holding her up. She’s just a plump, happy baby.

A lot of parents have told me that if they had their more challenging kid first, they wouldn’t have had another one. And while I do consider Max to be more active and consistently engaged (a positive way to say more challenging), having her sister, Flora, was a redemption in many ways. Flora’s mellow, laid-back personality is a compliment to Max’s rambunctious, independent personality.  What would parenting be without some excitement?

“The soul is healed by being with children.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

 

 

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File This Under: Mom Life!

Hello, friends. Happy Monday! How was your weekend?

Weekends in our house are often a gift as Nathan often works traffic control for the City of Seattle/police department, whether mandatory overtime or contracted overtime. Often, we just don’t know until the end of the week whether it will be a family weekend with him home or a weekend where I am alone with the girls. And the latter is so, so challenging for me because by the end of the week, I’m really out of breath! Can you relate? And the spring and summer are particularly difficult because Seattle has so many more sporting events, activities, and construction projects that require officers like my husband to be available for work.

I know most stay-at-home parents out there know how hard it is to be with kids alone five days a week. And when that time is extended to six or seven days a week (which makes almost two weeks straight by the next weekend)–wow! This was one of those weekends! My poor husband worked Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning after a week of regular work and some overtime. Whew. Here’s to hoping the coming weekend is more relaxed for him (and me, too!).

Manson, Washington | Lake Chelan
Manson, Washington | Lake Chelan

Mother’s day weekend we drove back to our favorite getaway–Lake Chelan–to stay in the caseta at our friend’s cabin in the rolling hills of Manson, Washington. It was a last minute trip, so we packed up and drove out there Friday night so that our Saturday could be well-spent relaxing and having some fun. But let me tell you–it ended up being one of the most challenging and disappointing weekends a mother could have. And I think, in the end, it really made me hit my bottom. There was a lot of cranky toddler action filled with tantrums and refusals to sleep. Lots of crying. A two-month-old who cried when she wasn’t asleep. A frustrated husband and daddy. And a depleted mama. It was really a messy weekend. Which is hard to believe when you have this view from your porch:

Manson, Washington | Lake Chelan
Manson, Washington | Lake Chelan
evening walks
Evening Walks

I have been really struggling lately with the two girls. I am so grateful and feel so blessed that the first two months with baby Flora were smooth and maneuverable. For the most part, I think Maxine thought that the baby was just visiting and so it was “tolerable” for her to  have Flora around. But reality seems to have set in that the baby isn’t leaving, and that, mixed with her recent promotion into a twin-sized bed, has made life a lot more challenging! Until last week, she chose to sleep on the floor (where we set up blankets for her), which was no big thing. But the tantrums and general unfavorable behavior is really hard for me. I have been praying a lot for grace and wisdom for how to handle this “terrible twos” time. Maxine has always been spirited, busy, and generally bored with toys, so I find challenge in keeping her entertained and engaged during the day, and with learning activities. She loves art, the outdoors, and watching her favorite Disney princesses on TV or in movies (which isn’t how I want her to spend time).

And Flora is a good baby, but quite fussy and demanding. She’s a bit colicky as well, which by the end of the day gets extremely taxing for me. That being said, she’s also a very happy baby and loves to coo and talk with me. Her smile really melts my heart.

Seattle finally received its due of sunshine and warm weather, and we have been enjoying a plethora of outdoor activities. Praise! Haha. Seriously, though, it is my saving grace when needing to keep my 2.5 year-old engaged, happy, and tired out for her bedtime.

Seattle, Washington | Madrona Playground
Seattle, Washington | Madrona Playground

Enjoy your Monday, friends! And check out hikes we’ve enjoyed, our Hiking Passport for recommendations on baby levels for hikes, or follow us on Instagram to see more of our outside adventures!

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