Fresh Autumn Air + First Swing Ride

last monday morning we heard sniffling and coughing from the baby monitors early in the morning before the babies woke for the day and we knew…they had colds.  and because they truly like the do everything together, they decided to be sick together.  as i walked into their rooms when they woke up, they were both smiling despite having boogers all over the place.  and so we began the week by putting on fresh pairs of jammies and canceling our week of playdates and obligations.  by wednesday, the girls took me down with them and i found myself battling a runny nose and headache.  and any mama can tell you that being sick yourself with sick babies is no joke.  oh my word, it is so hard to be mommy when you are running on 25% energy yourself.  by saturday, we were all still in the thick of it and we had cabin fever.  being inside for 5 days in a row wiping runny noses had gotten the best of us and i knew we needed two things: fresh air and coffee.  well, coffee for mama.  so daddy piled us into the car, ordered us some iced coffee, and we took the girls to the park to enjoy the fresh autumn air and let the littlest experience her very first swing ride.

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needless to say, the fresh air did wonders for our spirits, but our colds remained.  the girls giggled and sniffled and mama enjoyed seeing the sky and laughing at daddy as he tried to do the monkey bars.  (which, by the way, is super difficult as an adult!  we both tried and failed what we once were pros at when younger, all the while laughing at one another and thoroughly entertaining/embarrassing the girls).  our much needed morning at the park was full of fun, despite our crummy colds.  the littlest thoroughly enjoyed her first swing ride and fell asleep with a smile on her face during the car ride home.  upon arriving at home, the girls and i took afternoon naps and were thankful for a weekend of daddy being our doctor.  maybe it is just wishful thinking but i am praying that we are overachievers and volunteered to get our colds out of the way in the beginning of the fall season.  and you can be sure that i plan to sanitize even more than i already do so we don’t come down with the sniffles again.  it’s no fun!

photos in this post were taken with my DSLR and favorite everyday lens.

Fresh Autumn Air + First Swing Ride

Fresh Autumn Air + First Swing Ride | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.comFresh Autumn Air + First Swing Ride | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.comFresh Autumn Air + First Swing Ride | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.com

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Letters To My Children | September 2018

Letters To My Children | September 2018

Letters To My Children | September 2018 | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.com

monday, september 17, 2018

dear baby girls,

well, it happened again.  i started crying happy tears while editing this month’s sister session.  because, you!  you two are so in love with one another and it makes our hearts so proud!  i feel like i say this often but, i honestly prayed so hard for the both of you and that you would have a beautiful relationship.  and God gave you one another for a beautiful reason…to have a hand to hold and someone to giggle with throughout this beautiful life.  you make us so darn proud.  how am i so deserving of this amazing life with your daddy and you two?  i am forever grateful.

to my oldest:

you are a big girl!  you are officially out of diapers and you are so proud of yourself!  “bye-bye diapers!” you say.  daddy and i are so proud of how effortlessly you said goodbye to your diapers and entered this new stage of life.  in every way, you are growing into a sweet little lady.  but what does mama always say?  you will always be my baby!  you are such a helper to mama and you love to help me fold laundry (you hand me things to fold), unload the dishwasher (you hand me things to put in the cupboard), and get your sister toys when she starts to fuss.  you lovingly tell her, “no, whinin’.”  which has me laughing so hard!  luckily, she doesn’t whine often but has lately when mama gets out of sight.

i think you are going to be either a doctor or a dentist.  we went into the doctor this week for a quick checkup and you were bouncing up and down waiting for the doctor to come in.  when he did, you said, “hi doctor!” and were giddy when he listened to your heart with the stethoscope.  (you have a wooden doctor’s kit on the top of your wish list for santa).  you love to pretend necklaces are stethoscopes and you will listen to everyone’s heart at home, saying “thump, thump, thump, thump.”  but you also have an infatuation with teeth.  you love telling mama to open her mouth so you can inspect each tooth and you are so studious about it.  you love brushing your own teeth, but you don’t necessarily love going to the dentist.  i took a picture of you hating the dentist chair during your first appointment, just in case you end up being a dentist and we can hang it up on your office wall next to your degree.  🙂

you are quite the singer and dancer!  we can’t wait until you turn 3 next year so we can join pre-ballet at ballet school.  we are currently growing your hair out because it’s a rule to wear your hair in a bun to class so we are getting your hair all ready!  you love to dance and always want us to turn on music.  you have started to memorize all sorts of nursery rhymes and love to sing.  you really love “the wheels on the bus,” “rain, rain go away,” “no more monkeys jumping on the bed,” “happy birthday,” and “itsy bitsy spider.”  you learn new songs daily and love listening to the nursery rhyme station.  you also love it when mama makes up personalized songs and you laugh.

your manners are impeccable!  you are doing very well with your pleases and thank you’s and you do a great job coloring your thank you notes when it is time to thank our friends and family for lovely things.  you have learned to say excuse me now and you politely remind us and your sister to say it, when needed.  we love everything about your sweet little voice and love hearing everything you say.

tomorrow, we are going to your eye appointment to see if you will be getting glasses.  we went last september and the doctor said we would chat about glasses in one year and, with the snap of fingers, one year is already here!  we will see what the eye doctor says tomorrow and you are really excited to get your eyes checked.  last year the eye doctor was so excited for you to be a big sister and this year she will get to sit next to you during your checkup!  it’s amazing what a year brings!

i am enjoying every single second of our days together.  we are having fun hosting playdates with our friends, doing crafts, having dance parties and giving plenty of hugs.  i often tell your daddy that i am overwhelmed with how fast you are growing and am trying my hardest to be so intentional about soaking in every single second of every single day.  time is so fleeting and i am so blessed to be given a front row seat to your childhood.

to my littlest:

you are my little squishy, cuddling, love bug!  you love, love, love mama.  so much so that i can’t leave your sight or you get fussy.  but as soon as you see me again, you are all smiles.  your development chart said you would be extra clingy right about now and you are!  🙂  but that means you are right on track and growing great!  you know that just because i am out of sight, i am still there…which is so smart!

you are such a great sleeper!  you take two great naps during the day and you sleep 12 hours at night.  you and your sister both sleep the same.  you rotate all around your cribs all night long.  you are like ticking hands on a clock, as you rotate in a circle from night until morning.  you both prefer to sleep on your bellies and wake up within 15 minutes of one another every morning.  it’s one of the many things that you do exactly the same.

you are sitting up so well!  you really love to sit up on the changing table so you can see yourself in the mirror and you love seeing that cute little baby staring back.  hint, hint…that little baby is you!  you just grin and grin when you see yourself.  you are busy, busy, busy!  you barely sit still long enough to get a diaper change and you always want to roll onto your belly when i am trying to change your diaper.  it’s really funny and cute…unless you have a messy diaper, and then it is a little stressful for mama.  i have quickly learned to hand you a toy to play with during diaper changes so you can briefly entertain yourself while i hurry and change you.

your sister has taught you how to eat cheerios!  and you love them!  your sister loves it when mama puts cheerios on your high chair tray and you both gobble them up.  she is a little faster at eating them than you are, so i have to remind her to share with you.  but you have mastered the pincher grasp and can pick them up with your thumb and finger and bring them to your mouth.  then you gum them to death because you are STILL without any teeth!  it doesn’t stop you from enjoying lots of cheerios!

speaking of pinching, you are an expert!  you love to pinch and pull hair!  you pull mama’s hair while i am nursing you, which doesn’t feel too great but i like to wear my hair down so it’s my own fault.  you love to pull your sister’s hair too, and she finds it hilarious.  i often find her putting her head near your hands so you can grab hold!  then she shrieks and giggles when you get a handful of hair and mama has to rescue her precious little hairs from your fingers.  you both laugh and laugh during this.  you two are so silly!

when it comes to eating, you are a little picky!  you aren’t too fond of apples, pears, or cauliflower.  they are growing on you, but we often have to mix them with something else in order for you to eat them.  you like black beans, just as much as your sister does and you adore oatmeal and rice cereal.  you also really like sweet potatoes.  everything else, we are sneakily mixing into your food because you will pinch your lips closed when we try to feed you them!

i am sure you will both be waking up soon from your afternoon nap, so i better button up this letter!  the next month has a lot of fun coming up and we have officially planned your halloween outfits!  you are enjoying the pumpkins around the house and the cooler weather that allows us to spend longer amounts of time outdoors on bikes, painting crafts, taking walks, and enjoying the fresh air.  we are excited to start the next few months of fun with you, as we get new family pictures taken, enjoy the holidays and make more memories as a family.  we love you girls so much and can’t tell you enough.

love, mama

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Bye Bye Diapers: Plain and Simple Potty Training

with our little girl turning 2 1/2 years old in october, the time for simple potty training was here.  as a first time mama, i wasn’t sure where to begin.  what she going to tell me she was ready?  should i wait longer?  was potty training going to be hard?  so many questions initially ran through my head and i found myself equally excited for her to achieve the milestone of potty training but also sad that she would be leaving her last baby thing behind: diapers.  after talking with a mama friend who successfully potty trained her little one, i was inspired to get started and ditch the diapers.  i bought a couple books, a couple supplies and we cleared our weekend schedule.

after reading two books from cover to cover, trying and failing once and rethinking our method, we officially potty trained our daughter in just about 2 days.  and today, we have had a week of accident free playdates, been out to dinner, attended swim class and resumed our normal schedule while staying dry!  she actually started remaining dry, without accidents, around day 3.  i am confident in declaring: she is potty trained!  we are on day 11 of no diapers and officially pulled out our letter board this morning to take our official potty training pictures to document this milestone!

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Bye Bye Diapers: Plain and Simple Potty Training

Plain and Simple Potty Training | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.com

before i share everything i read and the potty training supplies i bought, i have to be honest and tell you that the first time we introduced the potty about 3 weeks ago…it was an epic failure.  there were tears and resistance and we quickly learned that our little one could hold it all day if she had to because she didn’t want to use that little potty.  after a few days of tears and a husband who had to head out of town for business, mama decided to temporarily give up potty training.  having a husband gone, a breastfeeding baby and a toddler who just wasn’t having it, i put the potty away, put the diapers back on and looked at the calendar, declaring Labor Day weekend as our final potty training weekend.  3 weeks away.  i say FINAL potty training weekend because i was only going to allow us to give up once.  both my husband and i, as well as my reading materials, agreed she was very ready to potty train.  i read that if you are going to give up, you can only give up once.  and you must start again within 2-4 weeks.

labor day weekend arrived and we cleared our schedule again.  we introduced a fun set of big girl underwear, a jar of m&m’s, and allowed her to try juice for the first time in her entire life.  (she didn’t love juice and is still a milk girl!)  after trying on her new big girl undies, she saw her potty again and excitedly declared, “hi potty!  yay!”  wait, what!?

then, she literally potty trained.  not even joking.

we played all day in the playroom and waited for her to say, “pee pee, potty!” and then ran over to the potty and she was successful!  once she saw how easy it was, and that she would get an m&m, she was sold.  she loved it.

and now, 11 days later, we don’t really think about the potty anymore!  it’s just a way of life and she tells us when she needs to go.

easy peasy.  potty training: check!

Plain and Simple Potty Training | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.com

i am so proud of our experience with potty training!  my husband and i literally looked at one another several times throughout our potty training weekend, saying “is she seriously just potty training effortlessly!?”  especially after our first time fail 3 weeks earlier.  i am so proud that we decided to take a very short break and then were determined to get it right the second time.  honestly, the second time was so darn easy that i am still pinching myself.  we definitely did simple potty training and it worked.

Simple Potty Training Must Haves

(one) a mini potty.  this potty came highly recommended and our daughter loves it.  she is more confident having a potty her size.  we also bought a potty seat for the actual toilet, but she prefers her little potty.

(two) new big girl underwear.  we actually bought hers at GAP, but these are basically the same ones.  once she saw her new underwear, she loved the idea of using the potty so she could wear them.  they made saying goodbye to diapers much easier.

(three) i read two books cover to cover.  i highly recommend reading both.

“oh crap! potty training” (this book was genius and is a must read.  it fully prepared me for EVERY scenario.)

“potty training in 3 days” (this method was more our style and what worked for us)

(four) our favorite books to read to her were/are:

“skip to the loo, my darling”

“the potty book” (for girls)

“once upon a potty”

“potty”

(five) lots of fluids!  we tried juice for the very first time and she wasn’t a fan (which i am pretty happy about), so we did a lot of water and milk.  the more they drink, the more they practice on the potty.

(six) something fun!  potty training can be a little stressful for your little one.  they have spent their entire life in diapers and taking them away can be emotional.  make sure you build some fun into the weekend and keep potty training fun.  we did m&m rewards (because she never gets candy, so this was a huge treat!).  we rewarded with m&ms for the first week and now she only gets a little candy after pottying if she remembers to ask for one, which she rarely remembers.

we also ordered a fun car for her to play with throughout the weekend (one of our only plastic toys, ha!).  it helped to keep being inside near the potty fun!  it’s meant to be played with outside, but we let her roll around the house in it before it went permanently outdoors.  she loved it!

everyone has their opinion on potty training, so make sure you follow what works for your child.  we didn’t overcomplicate it and just did simple potty training.  we initially didn’t want to do candy, but it flipping works!  and, like i said, it only lasted a week and now she rarely gets any.  to be honest, potty training should remain fun.  it’s a big deal!  your once baby is now taking a huge step towards being a big kid.  it’s a little heartbreaking to say goodbye to the baby days but it should be celebrated!  in my opinion, its a great time to spoil your child and celebrate this huge milestone.  so go ahead and buy them a little something special, they’ve earned it!

but honestly, those two books i read?  read them.  they are game changing.

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A Glimpse of Our Everyday Schedule : Creating A Daily Routine For My Children

i have been asked a couple times if i would share our daily routine and, having worked so hard on creating a daily routine for my children and perfecting the exact timing of wakeups, naps, and play…i am really proud of our everyday schedule.  to be honest, it’s our secret to harmony.  with two babies, two years old and under, having a routine is not only great for my children…but it is really great for me too.  i love knowing what to expect at any given time of the day and, because of our routine, we rarely have behavior issues.  why do i bring up behavior?  because behavior issues tend to arise when children are overwhelmed, overtired, or don’t know what to expect.  our concrete daily routine allows all of us to know exactly what will happen each day, and the order in which it happens.  seriously, we do the same schedule each and every day, weekday or weekend.  and having a routine allows me to allocate time to myself, each and every day.

creating a daily routine for my children started with my oldest, who is currently 2 years old.  i created her daily routine when she was 4.5 months old and we follow the same routine today.  (since then we have dropped one nap and pushed bedtime back 30 additional minutes, as she has grown older).  her little sister started the same routine at 4 months old, when she started sleeping through the night.  it’s important to note, neither of my children had a strict routine before 4 months of age because i breastfed on demand and let them determine their own schedule in the early days.

once our second little girl arrived, my main goal in maintaining a daily routine for my children was having them nap at the same time.  EVERY SINGLE DAY.  for a mama, this is gold.  having your children nap at the same time allows you to intentionally make time for yourself every single day.  whether you are sitting on the couch staring into space, catching up on email, or enjoying lunch in peace…it is important to have a little break built into your day.  at least, it is really important for me anyways.  i believe mamas should be intentional about taking care of themselves too.  investing time in myself makes me an even better mama because i take the time to feel refreshed and inspired.

having them nap at the same time of day goes hand in hand with having them adopt the exact same sleep schedule, day and night.  they wake up at the same time every day, they nap at the same time every day, and they go to bed within 30 minutes of one another each night.  i center our whole daily routine around sleep.  sleep is so so important for children and i don’t mess around with it.  i make sure they nap and get good rest during the day and during the night and, because of that, both of my girls are amazing sleepers.  sleep is one of the many things my husband worked really hard on teaching our girls and it has paid off.

A Glimpse of Our Everyday Schedule : Creating A Daily Routine For My Children

A Glimpse of Our Everyday Schedule : Creating A Daily Routine For My Children | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.com

because my 2 year old has such an awesome routine, i worked towards transitioning my youngest into that same routine when she was 4 months old and we had a concrete routine within a week.  this meant waking my littlest in the morning when my oldest woke up so that they could get on the same wake and sleep schedule.  pairing their awake times means that they nap at the same time and achieving this literally makes me feel like a rockstar.  for the sake of transparency, here is our exact daily schedule…yes, to the minute.  that’s how we role.

Our Daily Schedule

5:00am … I wake up / dedicated time to myself

7:15am … baby wakes up, breastfeed #1

7:30am … toddler wakes up

7:45am … mama shower / girls watch sing along or ABC show in my bedroom / toddler has morning milk

(this is our only screen time.  i unapologetically make time to shower every single day, thank you very much.)

8:15am … free play in playroom (see our playroom mama and me space here)

9:15am … baby breastfeed #2

9:30am … baby down for 1st nap

9:30am … mama and toddler breakfast

10:00am … mama and toddler special time together / curriculum

11:15am … wake baby, breastfeed #3, toddler milk

11:30am … free play in playroom

12:30pm … lunch for both babies

1:15pm … baby breastfeed #4

1:30pm … both babies nap / mama free time

4:00pm … wake both babies, breastfeed #5, toddler milk

4:15pm … free play in playroom / outside

5:15pm … outside waiting for daddy to come home

6:00pm … dinner as a family

6:30pm … baby pajamas, breastfeed #6, stories, prayers, in bed by 7:00pm

7:00pm … toddler pajamas, milk, brush teeth, stories, prayers, in bed by 7:30pm

7:30pm … quality mama and daddy time EVERY SINGLE DAY

A Glimpse of Our Everyday Schedule : Creating A Daily Routine For My Children | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.com

having gone to school for elementary education, i learned first hand how children thrive on routine.  routines make them feel comfortable and secure.  and this is definitely true for our children.  strict routine is something that works extremely well for our family and my husband adopts the same exact routine, should i be away for a day during the weekend at a photography session.

yes, traveling and hosting guests can bring a little shift to our routine.  yes, sometimes the kids wake a little early from nap and my mama plans are put on hold.  yes, special weekend outings can mean the littlest naps in the car.  (for us, napping in the car is only allowed about once a week, we are very intentional about crib napping).  while there are always exceptions, our routine is concrete 98% of the time.  of course, swim lessons and library outings shift our schedule slightly but they do not shift our nap ever.  never ever.

for those wondering about playdates, we schedule them in the mornings only.  luckily, all of our friends have morning nap time routines as well so mornings are universally great for everyone’s schedules.  our afternoons are truly reserved for nap time.  i once read that kids who get good sleep during the day will get good sleep at night…good sleep compounds on good sleep.  and that is very true for my girls.

all of this being said, this is what works for us.  the best parenting advice we received before babies was given to us by our birthing teacher before our first was born when she said, “YOU will be the expert on your children.  YOU will be the one who knows them best.”  it is something my husband and i often remind ourselves.  we know our children best and we know what works for them and us.  just like you are the expert on your child and will know what works best for them!  just because this schedule works really well for us, might not mean it works for you and your little ones.

as parents, having our children on a great routine also allows us to dedicate time to one another, as husband and wife.  every evening, it’s all about us.  my husband and i are attached at the hip so we basically do everything together and once the babies are asleep, it’s our time to catch up with each other.  we don’t do laundry or clean.  we sit down together and just enjoy our time.  it usually includes watching a million videos of the girls on our phones together and recounting every cute thing they’ve done, but that’s our beautiful phase in life.

in all honesty, creating a daily routine for my children has been the best thing i have done for our everyday.  it truly brings harmony to our everyday and my oldest happily walks up the stairs saying, “take nap!” every afternoon or “playroom!” when it’s time to play because it’s the schedule she knows and appreciates.

i hope this helps!

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  • Felicity - Love that you’ve found a schedule that works. I agree that in this season of life, a routine makes everything easier. What I don’t see is, where is all the stuff that makes a household chug along. When do you grocery shop, run errands or do chores? ReplyCancel

    • {beth} a-dilly - Chores are done throughout the day, for examples…dishwasher unloaded while girls each lunch, i throw in one load of laundry each morning and fold it during playroom time, errands and groceries are done on the weekend. 🙂 i believe in using the power of 5 minutes all day long to tackle little chores, here and there, which makes it each to keep everything up! hope this helps!ReplyCancel

Letters To My Children | August 2018

Letters To My Children | August 2018

Letters To My Children | August 2018 | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.comLetters To My Children | August 2018 | Bethadilly Photography | www.bethadilly.com

thursday, august 16, 2018

dear babies,

i thank the Lord every single day for your little lives and for giving you to us.  having babies has reinforced the idea that life is a pure gift and we should be thankful each and every day for our family.  so i am.  i am thankful for every diaper, every nursing session, every early wake up, every never ending chorus of “baby shark,” and every set of sticky fingers.  i am so thankful!

as happens each month, you are both turning into completely new girls.  each of you has grown so much in just 30 days and i am always so astonished by how much growth can occur in the short span of a few weeks.  every single day is a new adventure full of learning in your eyes and your fast growth has me clinging onto every single day in an effort to keep you little.  for i know tomorrow you will be older and a little different than today.  sometimes i literally just stare at you and breathe in your baby smells in an effort to slow down time.  they say that there is nothing that drags time like waiting for water to boil or waiting for paint to dry, so i am trying it out by staring at each of you to see if the time will slow, even if just a little bit.

to my oldest:

we’ve long lost count of the number of words you know, as your vocabulary is absolutely huge!  not only are you talking in 3 or 4 word phrases, but you are singing songs and learning at least a couple new words every single day.  your favorite songs are “the wheels on the bus”, “this little piggy went to market”, and “shake it off.”  you love to talk to alexa and tell her to play music for you or to stop playing music.  🙂  our playroom is often full of disney music and giggling and it is the most beautiful sound.  as for colors, you know every single color now!  (except gray, but we haven’t introduced it yet).  you are now very descriptive when you talk and say, “mama white shirt!” or “puppy brown hair!”  you love identifying colors and showing off how much you know.

i love way you say “fuh-fly” (butterfly), “pock-ette” (pocket), “ma melon” (watermelon), “fa font” (elephant), and “shurl” (squirrel).  since your great grandma is Shirley, it sounds like you are trying to say her name when you say “shurl”.  because of that, we have lovingly named the squirrels who come eat from our bird feeder, Pat and Shurl.  (Pat is your great grandfather whom you won’t meet this side of Heaven but whom i am sure gave you to biggest hug and kiss before sending you to mama and daddy).  mama had dreams about him often while pregnant with you and, in one dream, danced with him and asked him to tell me if you were a boy or girl!  he said he was tempted to tell me because he was tired of watching me read old wives tales about gender prediction, which i did daily while we were expecting you.  i am certain he and Papa Joe held you and your sister so tight before we held you in our own arms.

you are very empathetic to your little sister and when she rarely cries you will say, “sister, no cry” in the sweetest, comforting voice.  usually she cries if she loses sight of mama or if it is too close to bedtime and you are quick to comfort her, if only by getting close to her to let her know you are right there.  you love to rock her in her nursery chair and you laugh like crazy when she tries to pull your hair.  if she tries to pinch you, you calmly say, “no, please.”  everything about your mannerisms are so sweet and polite.

we have been enjoying a lot of new friends lately and you love having friends over to our house.  you immediately take your friends’ hand when they arrive and take them to your playroom.  you are very good at sharing and allowing others to play with your toys, as you say, “share.”  mama is so proud of how you share so nice, especially at your young age.  you are quick to share your things with your sister and if you don’t necessarily want to share something, you will go to her toy box and get her a toy of her own.  i love that about you.  it’s definitely okay to not want to share everything you have, and i love that you offer an alternative to your sister so she can have fun, even if it is by playing with something different.

you had your very first dentist appointment last week and you were very brave.  the night before, mama practiced saying “ahhhhhh!” and counting your teeth.  you were really excited to see “the teeth doctor,” but were quickly over it once you saw the dentist chair.  thankfully they had a flat screen tv on the ceiling for you to watch and they put on your favorite show, “little baby bum!”  there were definitely a lot of tears during your cleaning and fluoride, but you got a pretty heart ring with a blue stone on it as a prize at the end.  plus, you got a brand new pink tooth brush!

at this point, you have memorized some of your favorite stories at night time and can name your favorite books.  we let you read books to us at night and you practically know them, word for word.  your daddy and i look at one another with wide eyes, in astonishment mouthing “can you believe this!?”, as you read away.  you are so smart and we really enjoy showing daddy all the new things we learn.  it’s really no wonder, as we started reading books to you every single day when you were about 6 weeks old.  you are teaching your sister to love books too and you both love reading them.

mama surprised you last week by taking you to story time on an actual school bus!  you were so excited as you climbed onto the bus and got to sit with your sister and i on the rumbling bus.  you looked around and around, with such curiosity.  when we got off the bus, we went into the library to say hi to Squirt the turtle and you made mama so proud.  sitting in front of the turtle tank is one step stool.  you sat down and watched Squirt swim around and when a second child came up to the tank, you popped off the seat and happily offered the stool to the other child, saying nicely, “sit!”

in that moment, i realized how right we are raising you.  while i love how smart you are and how you are so independent, my favorite thing about you is your kindness.  you are so kind!  and if there is one thing that we truly want for you and your sister, it is for you both to be kind humans.  to put others first and offer a smile.  to sit with the lonely child in the lunchroom.  to always include others.  to be empathetic.

so far, you are completely impressing us with your social skills.  your calm reactions humble me as a mama and your eagerness to learn and help thrills us.  you are happiest when you can be a helper throughout our day, whether it is helping unload the dishwasher with mama, getting your little sister a toy, putting your cup in the sink upon finishing your milk, or cleaning up the playroom, you are so happy when we acknowledge your helpfulness.  i love you so much, sweet girl.

to my littlest:

oh, sweet pea…you have been awarded the happiest baby there ever was.  you smile before you open your eyes in the morning and when i peek into your crib, your legs are happily kicking about when you see me.  you are still sporting a toothless grin and it is officially the only thing you have not accomplished faster than your sister (her teeth came in around 5 1/2 months).  i love your little gummy grin and am cherishing it.

you are now sitting up!  mama still likes to be right by you when you are doing it, to offer quick support, but you are getting better and better at it every day.  you are also so close to crawling!  you will get up on your knees and rock back and forth, before plopping down on your belly again.  you army crawl really well and zoom across the room!  gone are the days when i could set you down in one spot and expect you to be there when i return.  you like to scoot towards your sister and grab her shirt, pull her hair or grab her toys.  you do it all with love and she just giggles at you.

i find myself taking in every moment with you, as you are growing so fast.  after your morning feed in the morning, i love to just rock with you in the dark before we get dressed for the day.  i rock you back and forth and just take in your sweet baby smell and kiss your chubby cheeks, long after the feed is over.  i hold you tight and just enjoy the feeling of you being small in my arms.  time is so fleeting and i want to remember this time with you, so i am being so intentional with our moments together.

you are such a great swimmer!  you graduated to a new swim class and you went under the water for the first time 5 days ago!  you did it perfectly and the teacher was so impressed!  you didn’t swallow any water or anything!  after that, you went under water a few more times before we did some back strokes and then played with the balls in the pool.  you love to pick up the balls and then we take them to the basket and plop them in.  mama has to help encourage you to drop the ball into the basket, as you really want to hold onto it and bite it.  but you will understand the game soon enough.

your schedule is golden!  you take two great naps during the day and you sleep about 12 hours at night!  you are asleep by 7:00pm every night, after you have milk, read some stories, and say your prayers.  you sleep until about 5:00am, when you want a little more milk, and then fall quickly back to sleep until around 7:15.  your sister had the exact same schedule at your age, to the T!  she liked that early morning feed too, before going back to sleep for a little while.  mama loves it too because it encourages me to be up for the day and allow myself some time to myself to either do bible study, edit pictures, or work before you both wake for the day.

you are a blondie!  your daddy was really blonde as a young boy and you are his spitting image!  we can’t wait to see you continue to grow and grow.  every day with you has been full of happiness.  your smiles are contagious and good for the soul.

as the summer is coming to an end, we are enjoying talks of the months ahead.  we are excited to be surrounded by family as we celebrate a baptism, make memories as we pick out halloween costumes, enjoy warm evenings on the front step as we wait for the mailman, and give proper names to each animal that enjoys our bird house.  we love you girls dearly.  sometimes i get a little teary eyed thinking about it and allow myself a moment every once in awhile to cry happy tears.  you are both more than we prayed for and i can’t fathom how much God must love us to be blessed with the both of you.  so, so blessed.

love you more than anything,

mama

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