Category Archives: birthdays

Letter to Mercy

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Dear Mercy,

You were born on a stormy day 51 weeks ago.  After the sheer exhaustion and exhilaration of giving birth, I snuggled you in my arms, enjoying heaven’s fireworks outside the window.  The euphoria from birth hadn’t worn off yet, so thunderstorms and you will forever be linked in my head as a glorious, beautiful thing.

Tonight is another stormy night, so I’m thinking of you.

You turn 1 this week!  It’s too soon.  I have treasured every minute of your first year, not knowing if you will be a last baby or not.

You, with your silly faces and one-leg kicks, your kisses and nuzzles and wrestles with brothers… YOU get the VIP treatment for sure.  Nobody else slept so much in bed with me and Daddy.  Nobody else got fed ice cream so early, either!

I’m sorry for the one night you fell out of bed on your head, right by the diaper pail.  In that middle-of-the-night drowse, I remember being amused and horrified at the same time.

You have such a loud voice, for somebody so tiny!  I guess you have to, with 7 other people competing for air time.  You make us smile and laugh, on purpose.  I love the way you screech short bursts and blink your eyes, then dissolve in a fit of giggles.

I remember the day Kirstyn was sad, and you leaned over and kissed her until she stopped crying.

I love watching you think, when you think I’m not watching.  Today, a stranger was smiling and inviting you to crawl over to them, and you sat for a minute and then shook your head “no” to yourself.

I love every book time we’ve had together.  “The Real Mother Goose” is the first book I remember reading to you, just days old, all scrunched up in my lap.  “Are You My Mother?“, “Go, Dog. Go!” and “Goodnight, Sweet Butterflies” were favorites this year.

“Mommy, look at Mercy!” is a common cry around here.  Your brothers and sisters love to cheer you on and show you off!   Right now it’s the learning to stand up that has us all clapping for you and watching in awe as you add another talent to your growing-up list.

Last night, I tried to plop you on the grass next to me outside, to have a chat while I drank my coffee (which you have already sipped and enjoyed).  But you saw the kids run by and went crawling after them!  You love being part of the gang.

Cory and Kirstyn love to push you in the stroller down the dirt road, lulling you to sleep.  Kirstyn loves it when you fall asleep in her arms, rocking in the basement.  Sometimes you crawl around the basement until you’re so tired you put your head down on the carpet and fall asleep!  My favorite is nursing you to sleep.

Nursing you is heaven on earth!  I love that low, sweet nicker you give, when I ask, “Do you want to nurse?”  Like, “What a great idea, Mom!”  I LOVE that snuggle time with you.  I’ve never, never complained about you nursing all night long, draped across my lap (where you throw yourself backwards, and sleep spread-eagle after you’re done).  I’ve thanked Daddy — numerous times — for letting you hog our bed.  He doesn’t complain, even though I know he doesn’t love the kicks in his back and face, or the lack of personal time with Mommy.  You have a great Daddy.

You love waving, and clapping, and dancing, and pointing at birds.  You even wave if you happen to hear “bye” in a sentence!  Tonight you fell asleep nursing while I was watching The Good Wife.   You heard clapping, woke up and clapped a few times, and then latched back on and fell asleep.  It was hilarious!

You’re such a tiny thing!  For over a month, you didn’t gain any weight, and even lost a bit, hanging out at 16 1/2 lbs.  You wouldn’t roll over, and you wouldn’t sit up, unless you could do it your way, with your legs tucked under your (adorable) bum.

You started crawling at  6 months old, the day after you learned to belly slide in the bathtub.

That day you climbed the basement stairs and stood there shaking the gate that was closed at the top?  Yeah — your angels were working hard that day, and Mommy got quite the adrenaline rush!

You still have only 3 teeth!

You crow like a rooster.  I’m not kidding.  I guess that what happens when we keep chickens in the house during this formative time for you.

Your walker is my laundry rack, pushed around the mudroom.

You love the song “This Little Light of Mine.”

You are quite the chatterbox!  I’m amazed at all the different sounds you put together.  The other week, you and I were standing in line at a VBS ice cream social.  You were chatting away, and the lady in front of me turned around and asked, “Is she saying ‘giggle, giggle, giggle?'”  Yep.

I love how your very name, Mercy, from the moment I discovered your life, has been used by God to teach me about… well… mercy.  One year ago, on the 4th of July weekend you were due, Daddy and I were hopping mad at each other.  I didn’t want you to be born that weekend, since I knew I couldn’t go through labor while I was mad at Daddy!  I remember falling asleep one of those nights, with God whispering to my heart about you, the baby that spoke about Mercy just by her name, and how could I hold onto anger when she was about to be born?

This morning, a year later, anger was rumbling in the air again.  But I thought of you, and God’s mercy that is new every morning for me, so of course I could forgive.  God’s well of grace and mercy will never run dry.  He is always enough, Mercy girl.

I love you so much, sweet baby!  Happy 1st Birthday!

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Birthday Letter

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October 21, 2013

Dear Cameron,

Happy 6th Birthday!

So much is on my heart.  You fill it up, you know– my heart.  You, of all my children, baffle and intrigue me the most!  I can’t call you my favorite, because I truly don’t have favorite children, but there is something about you that grabs me.  You are special.

You will make a mark on this world.

It terrifies me, because I think, “But what if it’s a black, murky mark?”  You are so strong and determined, sometimes I have absolutely no idea what to do with you.  Except love you.  So I love you fully and completely, and with the wild and peaceful thought that it’s all out of my control.  Only God can win you completely over to His side, and implant in you a burning passion to match your strong will to His even stronger one.  I can’t do that.

I can pray, and I can guide, and I can keep soaking up your kisses.  Those kisses you plant on people with no thought as to whether or not they’re wanted.  Son, keep giving that love.  Follow that voice inside you that tells you to love people.

Follow that path God is showing you even now, that path that may look twisted and rough to me and Dad.  It’s your path.  For you, I don’t worry that someone will talk you into stepping off your own path to follow theirs.  You are a born leader.  Talk the whole entire world into following God’s path with you!

You will make a mark on this world.

It thrills me, because I know that as of right now, you desire to make a mark for Jesus.  (“Please, Lord God, grow that desire in my son until it’s an all-consuming drive.”) I was with you when you prayed and asked God to be Lord and Savior in your life.  This is one of my special bonds with you alone.  Daddy prayed that prayer with Kirstyn, and Auntie Anna was with Cory when he prayed, so you are my crowning moment.   Following Jesus is THE most important decision you will ever make, and I got to be with you when you made that decision!  I have no greater joy, truly.  Keep following Jesus.  Keep yielding to Him!

Yielding is hard for you.  I know.  I don’t ever want to break your will, sweet child.  Your strong will is your greatest asset as it is your greatest downfall.  I will try my hardest to help you use it in wise, appropriate, kind, respectful, amazing ways.

I watched today as you helped your cousin up after knocking her down.  It’s a step, Cameron.  I see it.  I see every single step you take down that path of growth, son, and I am cheering wildly for you!  It melted my heart when you assured Megan recently of your protection.  She was talking about how some people might be mean to her, and you said, “Oh Megan!  Just tell me if someone is mean to you.  I can go punch them in the face.”

So.  We have to work on execution, but I saw your heart full of kindness.  Keep it full of that love, Cam, and you’ll find your path a fulfilling one.  God’s Kingdom is all about loving unconditionally.  Even when it’s hard.  When it hurts.  When people aren’t loving you back.  I’m sure you will have many days when people don’t understand you, but you keep on loving those people, and you keep on walking your path.  I am so proud of you.

I love you, Cameron James!

I smile now, when I think of how fitting your name is!  The literal meaning of “Cameron” is “crooked nose.”  Man of Distinction.  “James” means “supplanter.”  Mover of Men.  Yes, my wonderful boy, you will make a mark on this world!

Thank you for letting me be a part of your world, and for being a part of mine.  I love that you choose to hang out with me in my flowers and trees.  You’re my pruning buddy!  I’m really hoping you keep it up, because there’s no way on earth I’ll be able to prune all my maple trees and rose bushes when I’m 70 years old.  You’ll come help me, right?  You won’t have to drive far, since you plan on building out back.  Remember that conversation?  You told me you’d like to live with me and Daddy forever, and I told you your wife might want her own house.  I convinced you that no, you couldn’t just take over somebody else’s house either, so you finally settled on building a house on the back property.  If you could get enough sleep at the same time.

You are so delightful.  When I take the time to stop and listen to your observations and ideas, you amaze me.  You wow me every time!  Your thought process is so different from the average kid, and that is something to treasure and encourage, not tear down.  Please forgive me if I ever tell you to be normal.  That translates into “average kid,” and I want you to be your own unique self!

Love always,

Mommy

Birthday Letter

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September 3rd, 2013

Dear Kirstyn,

You’re 9 years old!  Happy Birthday, sweet daughter!  Sometimes 9 is old, because you’re the oldest kid around here and you help out so much in the family.  I have to remember that you are, in fact, still a kid!  You’re only 9!  Be a kid still, my darling.  I know you want to grow up and be strong and capable, because you are, but just be a kid too.  Always!  One day, some child, maybe your own, will appreciate the fact that you still know how to sit and put a puzzle together, or color a picture, or kick a ball or throw a frisbee.  You will never be too grown up to play.  Remember that!  Playing is important.  Playing with children is even more wonderful, because you guys still know how to live life.  Just LIVE. LIFE!  Mama wants to learn this every day, now, before you’re too grown up to have tea parties and color with me.

What a joy and privilege it is to be your mom.  People tell me all the time how helpful you are, and conscientious, and servant-hearted, and just an all-around pleasant child.  I always smile and say, “Yes.  Yes, she is.  She’s always like that!”  And what a wonderful trait that is, my girl, that you’re true through and through.  You don’t love some people and not others.  You love everyone you meet!  I know you still struggle with loving your brothers, but all siblings fight.  Believe me.  You can still be best friends, and it doesn’t mean you don’t love them.  I’ll be praying for you.

Your Bompa, he was always praying.  Most of all for his kids.  He still does, and it gives me great comfort, even as a grown woman, to know that my daddy is praying for me.  So honey, I promise to pray for you until I’m not living on this earth any longer.  And what delight it gives me to know that when I’m in heaven, you and I will only be separated temporarily because my heavenly Father is your Father too!

You went to that tea party a few weeks ago, at Cecily’s house.  She asked all the girls if they knew what their names meant, and you did.  My “Christian” warrior!  You wear that name with pride, and I pray that you always do!  What an honor to bear the name of Christ.  You bear it on your heart as well as on paper.

You had another sibling born this year, our baby Mercy.  You, of course, stepped up to the plate once again!  What would I do without you?  Really.  I’d be a lot more tired, that’s for sure!  You’ve faithfully gotten up with Zach in the morning, these past 6 weeks, so I could sleep until Mercy woke up.  You rarely complain about the laundry and dishes I ask you to help with, and what a trooper you are with the fragmented school schedule right now!

I love having more grown up conversations with you.  Like our trip back from Rosie’s office, where we talked about birth control and sex.  Or me explaining the “milkman’s kid” principle.  (Thanks, Daddy, for telling that joke in front of our kids!)

I love that you trust me enough to ask questions.  I hope you always do!  I will always be honest and open with you, because I don’t want to hand that privilege off to somebody else, or the internet.

I know that you may have been fibbing just a wee, tiny bit when you told me I was perfect, but thank you!  It did this mama heart good to hear that you were happy with me.  Remember?  I asked you if there was anything I could do different as a mother, that would be better.  I asked if I should try loving you a different way (we talked about the 5 love languages), and you kept assuring me, “No, you’re perfect, Mom!  You do everything just right.”  You are SOOOOOOO sweet!

I love our Parenthood dates every fall.  I love watching you develop friendships. I love watching you cook, and invent your own recipes, like wild onion soup, and lavender/mint/red raspberry tea.  I love learning about weeds with you.  You light up when you learn about plants — there’s just no other way to describe it!  I love that you’re our family herbalist.

You made me a mother for the very first time, and what a perfect gift that was!  I would not trade this journey through life, with you as my firstborn daughter, for anything else in the world.  YOU, my girl, are the perfect daughter for me.  I love being your mom.  I love watching you change from child into woman.  PLEASE take your time!  Go easy on me.  You handle yourself with such grace and confidence, and I am so proud of you!

Remember how when you were just 2 years old, you’d plop down, pat the ground next to you and say, “Let’s have a chat!”  Oh girl, don’t ever stop.  Don’t ever stop inviting me into your life.  I love chatting with you!  I’ll make mistakes, but you’ll always be my girl and I will always love you.

Birthday Letter

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                                                                March 25th, 2012

Dear Megan,

Happy Birthday!  Are you really 3 years old?  It snuck up on me this year, your birthday.  You’re my baby girl!  It doesn’t seem like you should have birthdays.

When Kirstyn was born, I always knew I’d have another daughter.  Maybe lots of them!  I treasured the moments with my firstborn girl, always, but I wasn’t as sad as now… thinking about you growing up.  I might not have any more baby girls!  I want you to know that I have loved every single minute of your baby and toddler years.  You were a delightful, sweet, beautiful child.

You still are, and I’m still treasuring every single minute!  I’m soaking them up with all the Mommy sponges I can find.

I love the way you yell, “WAHOO!!!” when you’re excited.  Which is pretty much all the time.

I love the way you beg to go with me. Everywhere.  I used to carry you with me everywhere when you were a baby.  Daddy probably got tired of a third person on date nights, but I just loved holding you so much!  I barely let you out of my sight.

I remember in particular carrying you around the D.C. Zoo when you were maybe 6 months old.  You were in the Beco carrier, and I kept telling Daddy and Grammy, “I just LOVE carrying her around!”  I think they just smiled and ignored me after a while.

I love how you ride up to bed on my back, and we do “Where’s Megan?”  It cracks you up every single time, when we finally find you in the bathroom mirror!

I love the way you pile up a million things in bed with you.  Blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, purses, books, flip-flops… all your treasures!

I love how you make up a bed for Auntie Anna on the floor next to you.

I love the way you dance to “Cowboy Song” (Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”) and “Funky Jesus.”

I love the way you run around the kitchen table.

I love the way you crawl up in my lap, and your body still melts into mine.

I love how you plop your head down and ask me to scratch it.

I love that you still fall asleep on me.

I love watching you jump on the trampoline, your hair flying and your still-chubby (but not much) baby girl legs tucking up underneath you.

I LOVE your giggle!

I love the way you eat peas, broccoli, tomato sauce, and granola bars.  And plain cereal, without milk.  Just like me.

I love when you sometimes call me your “Mommy Anna,”  because then I’m two of your favorite people!

I love how you tilt your head back and grin.  Totally cheesy, but it works!  You melt my heart every time.

I love that you adore shoes.  All of them.  Shoes aren’t my thing, but hey — I’m up for learning new tricks!  I can’t wait to go shoe shopping with you.

I love that you share my love of coffee, and I love our morning coffee parties.

I love how you ask for the last sip!

I love watching you and Kirstyn have tea parties and play dress-up.  You’ve got the perfect big sister!

I love your brave spirit.  Like when you took off roller skating into the crowd spinning around you at Starland.  I’m the one who got dizzy, not you… watching my tiny little girl join that huge mess of people.

I love that you love.  Freely.  Openly.  Shy and flirtatious when the situation warrants!  You are beautiful, dear heart.  I love you so much it hurts.  You’ll understand someday, when you look at your own daughter and realize, “She’s me, but not me.”

You’ll realize that one day, too soon, she’ll stop bringing you dandelions.  She’ll go plant roots of her own.  So you’ll hug and squeeze her to smothers, and beg her to choose a book for you to read aloud.  So you can have one more time of soft baby girl on your lap, her hair under your chin, her heart inches from yours.

You’ll be head-over-heels in love, just like me.  So you don’t mind, do you, if I sneak into your room and steal a kiss?

Birthday Letter

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January 3rd, 2012

Dear Cory,

I can’t believe you’re 6 years old already!  I forget sometimes, that you’re only 16 months behind Kirstyn.  She gets a lot of attention as the firstborn, and such an outgoing, social girl.  But every day she grows older, you do too!

I’m sorry for those times when you have to live in her shadow.  Those times aren’t done yet, I’m afraid.  I pray that you will grow stronger and more confident instead of retreating into that shadow.  I hope that you use your sister’s strengths to showcase your own.  Show us all that you are different from your sister.  From any of your siblings!  Show us all what a unique and absolutely charming young man you are.

You are, you know — charming!  That grin, and that twinkle, your delight in the people around you, your delight in life in general, your sweet hugs and kisses…  I don’t know how anyone could not see what a treasure you are!  Just yesterday you climbed up next to me on the couch for some snuggle time, and I felt like the most adored mother in the whole world.

I watch you with your baby brother, the way you’re attentive to his moods, eager to make him laugh, and gentle in your play.  Zach’s whole face lights up with excitement when he sees you!  You were like that with Cameron and Megan too.  You won’t remember any of them as babies, but I want you to know that you have always been a wonderful big brother.

I’m proud of you for growing in your desire to serve others.  You often offer to set the table for me, help me fold laundry, carry stuff for me, and pretty much anything that you know would make me happy.  (You try to serve your brother and sisters too.  And we’re still working on gratefulness around here!)  Oh, like how you unpacked the Suburban after our family trips this year?  One time, Daddy and I got busy talking or something, and next thing we know, the entire car was emptied!  Even Daddy’s huge, heavy suitcase!  We were super impressed.  Not just with those muscles, but also your willingness to work until the job was done even though you were working alone.

You love to keep me company, and I think that’s the sweetest thing of all.  I’m almost positive that quality time is your love language!  I’m going to try really hard this year to keep you company too!  To say “Yes” when you ask me to do something or go somewhere with you.  It’s hard, isn’t it, being part of a large family?  My greatest desire this year, besides helping you love Jesus, is to see you as a unique individual in my pack of children.  I want to love you and your siblings and meet your needs as separate from each other.  Because you are so, so special to me!  I’ll always have bad mommy days where I don’t love you perfectly.  Only God can love you perfectly.  But, He’s working on me!  He’s working on you too, and I want you to know that I see it.  I see God in you.

If you ever need an extra hug or kiss, you can always find me!  I love being your mom, and I’ll whisper this secret that isn’t a real secret in your ear as often as you need it:  “I LOVE YOU!!!”

Hide your Chick-Fil-A cows, unless you want a visit from my two-year-old!

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Anyone else still have Christmas lights and decorations up?  Good.  I love you!

My holiday celebrations are just now winding down for good.  My Massachusetts family (including married, boyfriend, and close family friend) spent five days with us, and we partied hard!  We’re talking about coffee by the gallon, a Krumpe’s Donuts trip at midnight, and 4:00am card games.  Sleep?  Who needs sleep?  As my Montana brother would say, “Sleep is a sign of caffeine deprivation.”

I had the best Christmas ever!  Having all the families together was a blast, and of course I loved my gifts. I’m  not gonna lie, and say that presents don’t matter!  I got an iPod, docking station, new music, jewelry, Starbucks gift cards, books, chocolate, and a brand new COFFEE POT!  It holds 12 cups instead of 8, so I think it’s pretty perfect.  We blew through 4 pounds of coffee while my family was here, and that new little pot held its own!

(The coffee maker beeps at me to tell me when the coffee’s ready, and Cameron grabs a towel and runs over to fan the smoke detector.  It’s hilarious!  Another Cameron funny:  I was eating leftover sauerkraut today, and he leaned over my bowl for a whiff and asked, “What does sauer-crap taste like?”)

Cory turned six years old yesterday, and my Massachusetts family stuck around all morning to help celebrate his birthday.  We also took the kids to Chick-Fil-A for supper, for a special birthday meal.  I love that most birthday meal requests are foods that I don’t have to cook!!!  (Tony’s Pizza is the top favorite.)

Megan LOVED THE COW AT CHICK-FIL-A!  Yeah, I typed that all uppercase, because I was trying to scream like Megan.  She shrieked with delight when she saw the cow-person, and followed him around the restaurant hugging his legs and petting his face when he finally picked her up.  A few kids screamed in terror at the sight of the monster cow, but I’m almost positive that Megan made up for the fearful children with her sheer adoration.

Oh, speaking of cows, I didn’t tell the chicken restaurant that we just butchered and processed a roughly 550-pound cow during Christmas week.  What a day!  Dee helped his mom, dad and sister in the morning at the butcher shop, slicing steaks and roasts, squeezing meat through the ground beef machine (good old Hobart!), and wrapping everything up in butcher paper for our freezers.  We also brought 100 pounds of ground beef home to turn into meatloaf and meatballs for our three families.  All in all, it was a long, 12-hour day, but tons of fun!  My 34-week pregnant sister-in-law was amazing.  She worked her butt off like she always does, even with a huge belly, tired body, heartburn, and gallbladder stones.  My hero!

I hope you all had a very merry and love-filled Christmas too!  Happy New Year to everyone!  I’m not making resolutions, because I don’t believe in them.  I’d end up with  a puffed-up or deflated self, and I don’t want either!  Just Jesus.

Birthday Letter

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                                                                October 21st, 2011

Dear Cameron,

Happy 4th birthday!  You’re growing up.  Not only are you the same size as your big brother, but your inner character is growing as well.  I’ve seen you develop a lot of self-control and responsiblity this year!

Like yesterday, at the pumpkin patch, when Megan had her meltdowns.  You were having the time of your life, pushing a wheelbarrow around, looking for the perfect pumpkin all your own… when I said we needed to leave.  Not too long ago, you would have had your very own meltdown at such frustrating instructions!  But you wheeled your wheelbarrow back to where it belonged, and followed Mommy to the car empty-handed.  With no complaining!  I was so proud of you.

I see you getting frustrated at commands we give you, because they don’t always make sense to you.  I want you to know that I understand.  Sometimes it doesn’t make sense.  Sometimes Mommy and Daddy are unreasonable.  I’m proud of you for trying really hard to listen anyway!  You do need to learn how to obey authority, but I’m proud of you for thinking through stuff on your own.  When you grow up, this skill will serve you well!  I know that you will never be one to just follow the crowd.

At just four years old, you have some of the best work ethics I’ve ever seen!  Daddy and I talk all the time about what a hard worker you are.  You are always eager to help!  It doesn’t matter how large or small the job is, or how hot or cold the weather is.  You’re right there, working until the job is done.  I’m thinking of this summer, and how you helped Grammy mulch flower beds and work outside in the hot, sweaty sun for eight hours!  There are grown men who don’t work as hard as you.

I love how excited you are about reading books.  Right now your favorite book is “Frog and Toad Together,” and I don’t mind reading it again and again, with you curled up next to me.

You also love to do school, and beg to participate when Kirstyn and Cory and I sit down with math pages every morning.  I’m sorry I say “No” a lot!  I’m still new at this homeschool thing.  I’ll figure out how to manage everyone — I promise!  I love how thrilled you are to learn new things.  Like names of the streets we’re driving on.  Even though I get tired of constantly giving you our location status, and sometimes ask you to stop talking, I am so proud that you don’t let negativity keep you from discovering.  You know your way around town, including street names, because you ask questions.   You remember which house Daddy delivered shingles to, even if it’s an hour away and we just drove by it one time.  You’ve known since you were two years old how to get to the pea-shellers farm, after only driving there once with me!  All this is pretty amazing.

I love how comfortable you are around people, even if you’re not a huge talker.  I’m thinking of when you first met Dan up at Indian Hollow this summer, and immediately asked to help him cook.  Or the cute girl you met at the pool, and stood next to even though she was with her Grandpa.  Or the little girl you saw dancing at Braden and Missy’s wedding.  You asked her to dance, even though none of your other siblings were out on the dance  floor with you.

You’re still my little cuddlebug, and I don’t think you’ll outgrow that.  I’m almost positive that your love language is physical touch!  You love to have me rub your back, or play with your hair.  If you’re grumpy, I know I can pull you on my lap for snuggles or tickles and everything will be better.  You love to give hugs and kisses, and not just to me!  You’re very free with your affection.  I’m glad!  It will be nice to have at least one grown son who still gives me hugs and kisses!

You are such a delight to me.  I do get mad at you, I know.  I’m sorry!  Your inquisitiveness makes you trouble prone, but it’s also one of your best qualities!  Balance will come.  I’m trying to be patient, and learn how to mother such a smart, creative, determined child.  Thank you for your patience, and forgiveness, and unconditional love back to me.  I love you!