The Last Baby is Not a Baby Anymore

Dear Alice,

You are FOUR!

I’ll tell you something you have probably already figured out: As the final born child, every one of your milestones is emotional for me. It’s just the way it is for the last baby. I’m sorry…but not.

In the past couple months, you’ve grown up so much in anticipation of turning four. You ditched the crib for a Big Girl bed, and are now (not so) patiently awaiting the bedroom re-do later this spring when we repaint your room and get your a REAL Big Girl bed. You chose mermaids for your bedding, and Grandma and Grandpa got it for you for your birthday.

You potty trained! No more diapers in this house! After 9.5 years, we are now–finally–diaper free. I admit that I was not emotional about that one because changing a toddler’s poopy diaper is one of the grossest parts of parenting. We are much happier that all that business is happening in the toilet now.

And just a week ago, you gave up your boppy (pacifier). The Boppy Fairy came in the night and turned it into a Barbie car which you love so much you took it to daycare for a full week.

We signed you up for swimming lessons and gymnastics this spring/summer and you are already talking about what you will wear to both.

And this week you told your first real lie: about what happened to your purple princess lipstick (“It’s not in my [laundry] basket, mom.” Spoiler: it was in there, broken into pieces).

We definitely do not have any more babies in this house, that’s for sure.

At four, you are incredibly opinionated. You feel you need to have a say in every single decision: your clothes, your shoes, your toys, your brothers, meals, what is on TV, who sits where, the color of your milk cup. This goes on and on. When you don’t get your way, there is quite a bit of dramatics.

You are quick to hug and kiss and say, “I love you,” to every member of the family, though. If you throw a fit, you will come back later with a snuggle and tell us you love us.

You are like a dance shoved in a tiny body. You like to twirl and “shake your peanut” even when there is no music.

Oh, and you have opinions on music too. If we do not play your favorite song (which could be any of a hundred songs at any one time), there are hysterics. Currently your favorites include “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons and “We Will Rock You” by Queen (you like to tell us all we have mud on our face).

You have one of the loudest laughs I have ever heard. Maybe because it’s so squealy.

You want to help or do everything I do. You follow me around, and when I tell you to go play with your toys, you protest. A lot.

When I read, you get out your copy of Bossypants by Tina Fey and sit next to me.

When I put makeup on in the morning, you get your stool and choose a lip gloss and ask me to use “the big brush” on your face.

When I make dinner, you drag your stool into the kitchen to “help” with hopes that something sweet is made that you can lick.

We celebrated your birthday with pink and princesses, of course. You even wore your Elsa dress (and crown, and gloves) for your birthday party with Charlie on Saturday.

Your facial expressions are something of a legend around here. They are so over-the-top that I am reminded of Lucille Ball whenever you pull them. (Sidenote: We got a book about girls who changed the world and you pointed out Lucille Ball as your favorite).

You have a big voice, and while I don’t want you to lose the sass and courage to stand up for what you believe, I do wish you could reign it in when it’s about not loving what I made for dinner or wanting candy as a meal. (Sidenote: while I write this you are sitting on the floor with your arms crossed, quite angry because I told you we are having chicken for dinner, not a sandwich).

We are at the age of begging and NO! and all the questions and non-stop talking. SO MUCH TALKING. (Sidenote: you are talking to me right now and I don’t even know what it’s about, but you have said, “mom” at least a dozen times.)

You love to tell me that we are both “moms and girls” (you have Babycita, so I guess that makes you a mom) and that we are the same.

You hate to have your hair brushed, but you refuse to have it cut–or even trimmed.

You can count to 20 and recognize your name and can say MOST of the alphabet.

You love to sing and make me sing you “Row Row Boat” and “Jesus Loves Me” every time I tuck you in at night.

You love books, but you want to read them your way and comment on every single picture and what you think the book should say.

Every single day you make me laugh. Every single day you drive me to the edge of my own sanity. I am so glad that you are my daughter.

Happy fourth birthday, my little Alicita.

Love,

Momma

The Names We Give Them

Edward Steven
Eddie
Ed
Edward Bear
Eddie Bear
Eduardo
Eduarlito
Edster
Bud
Buddy
Budsey
Edinator
Number One
Brother Bear

Charles Thomas
Charlie
Charlie Bird
Bird
Birdie
Bird Dog
Charlie Tom
Buddy boo
Budster
Chuck
Number Two
Birdie Boo
Brother Bird
Middle Child

Alice Katherine
Alice
Alicita
Alice Beans
Beans
Bean Dip
B
Beezus
Beansy Girl
Beanie Boo
Biz
Business
B Girl
Allie Buckets
Pickles
Pickle Pants
Little Sister
Sister Bear

Sluiter Sibs
Sluiter kids
Team Sluiter
Sluiter Crew
Cortney Sluiter Family

Whatever we call them, they are our favorite three people on this Earth.

Photographs by Erin Barkel Photography

No More Crib

In March of 2009, Cortney assembled the crib that would hold all three of our babies over nine and a half years. This weekend, he partially disassembled it to convert it into a Big Girl Bed for Alice.

Eddie’s nursery

In the beginning it was so new. So full of possibility. So matching.

Charlie’s nursery

Second child meant that we had learned a few things, got rid of a lot of useless things, and added the chew protector because standing babies chew wood.

Look at that face! So proud!

And now, for the first time in almost a decade, it is no longer a crib.

Alice had been asking for a while now if she could have a Big Girl bed. Both boys were two-and-a-half when they moved to their Big Boy beds due to another baby being on the way needing the crib/nursery.

No more babies are on the way, and as long as she didn’t complain, we were unconcerned that our almost-three-and-a-half-year old was still in a crib. She didn’t climb out, and didn’t make a fuss. Until late this summer.

We bought this particular crib because it can convert to a toddler day bed and eventually a full-sized bed (of course we bought it from Babies R Us and now I can’t find the conversion kit for a Pinehurst crib anywhere. I may have to enlist my dad to help). So the “front” that Cortney took off is technically the foot-board of what may eventually be her bed.

I was about to explode into tears when we called her into the room to see it. The crib that held all of my babies that was now a Big Girl bed because there will be no more babies. But before the lump in my throat could actualize, she saw it, burst into squeals of delight, started hugging both Cortney and me, and proclaiming, “I LOVE IT! THANK YOU!” over and over.

The lump vanished and I burst into laughter.

She was just SO THRILLED.

And unlike her brothers, she has not wandered out of bed at night or at nap at all. That is how much she loves it.

Plus she is a rule follower. I don’t think it occurs to her to get up and protest bedtime.

But also because she loves it.

Notice her Babycita’s crib is right next to hers so she can check on her.

She even plays in her room more. She will just go in there and play babies and sit in her bed. And in the morning, she wanders out and will say, “I get up by myself,” to Cortney.

It’s the sweetest thing in the entire world.

The girl is like her mom and loves sleep, but if it’s possible she loves it even more now.

Tonight, when I put her to bed, she said, “Daddy comes down here by my pillow,” and indicated that I can sit next to her bed and put my head next to hers on her pillow. So I did.

“Now sing Row Row Boat,” she insisted.

So I did.

She is still my littlest, but the parts about her that are baby are fading quickly. This week she will be three-and-a-half years old, and she is adamant that she is a Big Girl.

She still sleeps like the Baby Alice I remember, though: with her pink blankie tucked under her arm and her boppy (pacifier) in her mouth. I know I should push to get rid of that too, but I can’t take all the baby away at once.

Diapers, on the other hand, I would LOVE to see go.

Threenager

Dear Alice,

Today you are three!

You have been looking forward do this day since Christmas. It’s the first year that I think you really understand what a birthday is and that you are getting one.  When asked what you want for your birthday, you enthusiastically declare, “PINK!” So pink it shall be!

Alicita, you are my favorite girl in the whole world. I had no idea I needed you until you arrived. I can’t believe I was so nervous about having a little girl in the house; although I know we have the hormonal teenage years ahead of us, these first three years are nothing like I thought they would be. They have been full of wonder and joy that only a very new soul can bring. Our entire family needed that. Your dad and I had some rough patches, and your brothers are very old souls. You came in as the caboose of our family with all the fascination of a brand new soul.

it is getting VERY hard to get a non-blurry picture of you since you are ALWAYS moving!

I told you your birth story the other night. You laughed and laughed at the idea that you used to live in my belly. Then you asked why I was crying. I didn’t realize until I told you the story how much you have healed me, my sweet daughter. Eddie’s birth traumatic in so many ways; I suffered a long time after. Charlie’s birth showed me how it could be, and when he and I were left alone in our hospital room I whispered to him, “you are not the last.”

When you were born, Alice, everything was how it should be. I knew the minute you snuggled into my arms that you were the caboose–our last baby. But I wasn’t sad. I was filled with joy. Everything about you has been easier–getting up for those middle of the night feedings, putting you to bed at night, even playing has been easier with you. I have felt more natural in my role as your mommy, than I have ever felt before.

Age three is a tough year; I’m not going to lie. I know this because I have been through it with your brothers. This is the year you will grow to be a big girl; you will shed all the baby parts: the boppy (pacifier) will go to the Boppy Fairy and you will (hopefully) potty train. By the time this rotation around the sun is over, you will be be a big girl all ready to go to school. I would be 100% lying to you if I said that I was all excitement about this. You will hear this a lot, but you are the last one. You are my last baby. My last toddler. And now my last Little Kid. It’s hard to let go of a time that was so cute and so much fun, and admit that our entire family is done with those stages.

But LOOK AT YOU! You are such a happy little squish! You are so full of joy, that it’s impossible to stay sad! Since that first day, everything grey in my life has been made sunny by your face, your smile, your deep chuckle. You are the definition of delight, and to experience each new phase with you is nothing short of wonderful. You have a BIG personality and the facial expressions to match. You make us all laugh each day.

At age three, here are some things about you:

  • You love the color pink. LOVE IT. When asked what you wanted for Christmas? Pink! For your birthday? Pink! All pink, all the time.
  • Your favorite toys are your baby dolls, but specifically your Bitty Baby who you have named “Baby-cita”

  • You call me “Mommy-cita” and have made up a song that goes, “Mommy-cita went to town, EIEIO!” that you sing often and loudly.
  • You call Daddy either “DA DEE” or “DAD DOOOOO!”
  • You think you want to do everything your brothers do–like play in the snow–until you realize you don’t like to be uncomfortable (for instance you were instant that Santa would bring you snow pants and boots, but when you got them, you realized that snow is cold, and refused to go out in it).

  • You LOVE books.
  • You love to sing and dance.
  • You LOVE shoes and accessories and anything fancy.
  • You love to play dress up and pretend, and you are a wee bit bossy about it.

  • You love to do whatever I am doing which includes dressing the same, putting on pretend make-up, cooking, reading…you are my little shadow.
  • You hate when we tell you “no,” and will cry and pout and try to wait us out. Your stubbornness runs deep.
  • You will sit in your room to cry, and then come out to tell us that you are “done crying” or “ready to be nice.”
  • You are my pickiest eater…by FAR.
  • You love candy and sweets and carbs.

  • You favor me over your dad lately, which is weird for me because at this age both of your brothers favored your dad.
  • You are our most affectionate child–you love hugs and snuggles and holding hands and giving kisses
  • You love to count and can get up to twelve before starting to repeat numbers or make stuff up.
  • You tell me often that you are a “strong girl” and then you show me your muscles.
  • You never, ever call Charlie “Charlie;” it is ALWAYS “Birdie.”
  • Your favorite food other than candy is breakfast carbs like pancakes or french toast or muffins or cinnamon rolls or donuts.

Alice, you not only make our family complete, you make us better. We are a better version of The Sluiters with you as a part of us. I hope we can make your third birthday as beautiful and magical as you are, my sweet girl.

I love you so so much,

Mommy-cita

 

Snippets of Time

My favorite part of life is catching a little one-on-one time with each of my kids.

Eddie wants me to be happy. He wants to make me laugh. He loves identifying as a book and writing nerd just like I do. Tonight we cuddled up on the couch to finish a chapter in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets before he had to go to scouts. He likes to sit close–it’s the only time he wants to snuggle.

At nearly eight-and-a-half he is getting to be so much fun to have discussions with. He is the perfect mix of innocent naivety and old soul. He asks really, really good questions, and he has amazingly wise theories on things.

Tonight, after Alice was in bed, but before Cortney got home from scouts with Eddie, Charlie and I curled up on the couch and watch cat videos together for a half hour.  He wants to be warm, cozy, and safe. At five-and-a-half he still likes to be carried and held. He is fiercely independent, but desperate to remain my baby boy.

Charlie choose me to read his nightly Just Right Library book to each night. Learning to read delights him in ways that fill my heart. Words are beginning to come alive for him, and even though I went through the same thing with Eddie, it’s like Charlie and I now share a secret of some sort.

He watches and sees all. And knows more than you think he does.

Alice is so girly, I almost do not know how to mother her. She loves pink and flowers and twirling and baby dolls. She is my most affectionate child by far with her hugs and “I love you’s”.  She is also incredibly possessive and bossy.

The other morning, though, she was playing “bad guys Legos” with Charlie’s batman action figure and small Lego vehicles making up stories as she went. She is girly, but not afraid to demand everything her brothers have and do.

She hears every word you say. And will repeat it in context and correctly.

Most of the time they are together in some capacity. Most of the time I am refereeing arguments and breaking up fisticuffs.

But the thing is, these three are amazing little people who really love each other more than anything. And I am thankful for each one of them and their individual personalities.

Bedtime

I’m going to miss bedtime over the next five nights.

It can often times get pretty frustrating. We give the kids an hour of wind-down time starting at 6:30pm to get jammies on and watch a couple of shows as a family. Usually we watch Curious George and one other choice. There is often the battle of calming down after a full day.

But then sometimes they do cute things like set up a back-scratching chain in front of Word World, and I am reminded that this time is so fleeting.

And as hard to settle down as they can be, our three goobers are some of the best snuggly relaxers we could ask for.  While they love being wild, they also love being close and cozy.

And it’s that before-bed time routine I will miss over the next five days because as calming as it is for them, it’s a vital part of my day too. I get to just sit, many times with a child plastered to me, but without work or any other distraction from my day.

Cortney and I take turns putting either the boys to bed or Alice. Two nights of each and then switch. When I put the boys to bed, we cuddle into Eddie’s bottom bunk and read books. Charlie generally chooses a book, then we read Harry Potter after that. And then, even though they are eight and five, they still ask me to lay by them, which means I tuck them both in and then I curl up in Eddie’s bottom bunk next to him until they both drift off to sleep.

Is it necessary? No. But I am almost certain our days of this are numbered and I can’t bear to be the one that ends it.

On my nights with Alice, we cuddle up in the glider in her room while her glow worm, Glowie, plays for 10 minutes. In that time she chats and chats and chats about everything. Sometimes she sings to me. Sometimes I sing to her. I always nuzzle my nose into her hair to sniff in the remnants of baby that are left. After Glowie “goes to sleep,” I tell her “two more minutes means two more songs.” Tonight she picked to sing a made up song of Loo Loo Loo’s and La La La’s followed by “Jesus Loves Me” three times.

Then I pick her up, rub noses Daniel Tiger style and say, “I love you, Alice. God Bless you, Alice.” And she smiles and says, “Love you mommy. God Bless Alice.”

I tell her that her daddy will get her in the morning and to have sweet dreams. She rolls to her side and pushes her glow bear’s tummy on.

Yes, my kids have stall tactics and fight bedtime. Yes, Charlie throws major tantrums about brushing his teeth. Yes, Eddie worries and bites his nails about things when he should be sleeping. Yes, Alice thinks she needs one more drink, one more hug, and one more cuddle with one of her babies. It’s rarely perfect.

But it’s ours.

Oh Twoodles!

Dear Alice,

Ten years ago I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. Daddy and I were very upset because we weren’t trying to get pregnant. I had another year of grad school before we even wanted to think about having kids. But there we were.

As you know already, we lost that pregnancy. But before the loss and after the acceptance that I was going to be a mom, I imagined a baby girl. This is significant because up until then I saw myself as having zero kids or only having boys, but I felt a very strong feeling that there was a girl growing in my belly. Not long after my 30th birthday we found out that the pregnancy had shut down. No baby.

It would be eight years–and four more pregnancies–before a baby girl would show up in our lives.

I was convinced after Eddie and Charlie were born, that I was a boy mom through and through. I was convinced when we found out we were pregnant with you, that you were a boy. I was sure.

I was wrong.

 

I’m so glad I was wrong.

I didn’t know, Alice. I just didn’t know how very VERY much we–I–needed you. You bring such joy and sunshine and happiness to our life–to our family!

So what are you like as a two-year old?

Over this past year you learned to walk, run, and dance. You love to twirl–especially in a skirt, dress, or tutu. And you love SHOES and accessories! You call all jewelry and hair things “pretties” and you love to load them on. This weekend I painted your toenails pink and you refused the footie jammies because you couldn’t admire your toes in those. If I brush my hair, you want to brush your hair. When I put on makeup, you want to pretend to put on lipstick or blush. When I put on bracelets or a necklace, you dash to your room for one of yours. I don’t consider myself the most girly girl, but the way you shadow my actions, I see myself differently in you.

You love to sing! Every night daddy or I sing while we rock you. You have three songs you rotate through with me: Row Row (Row, Row, Row Your Boat), Sunshine (You Are My Sunshine), and Rock A Baby (Rock’a’bye The Baby). You have started singing along with us–and I even noticed you singing Row Row the other day while you were twirling in the kitchen.

You love your blankie more than any other lovie, although you love to sleep with an army of “friends.” Usually you will pair Blankie with another friend–this week it’s a Popple, last week it was Puppy–when you leave your bed. And you love books…which you know makes my heart happy. I hope you always have a love for the written word.

Babies and tea sets are still your favorite toys and your Grandma and Granny love to spoil you with lots of babies and baby accessories. Charlie and Eddie also give in and play with you because you’re so cute that it’s quite persuasive. No one can pass up a purple tea cup being handed to them by an eager two year old! Your brothers love you to the moon. Charlie is always there to play with you, and Eddie helps you with your shoes and coat. I hope they are always your go-to for when you need someone to lean on.

You may be my shadow, but you are a Daddy’s Girl through and through. When daddy picks you up from day care you are quite possessive claiming him as “mine daddy” to all who will listen. Your face lights up when you hear him come home, and if he is gone (or just in the bathroom) you will wander around with your hands out asking, “where my daddy go?” And can I tell you a secret, Alice? He adores you too. He melts when you run to him for a hug. He lives for your voice saying, “mine daddy!” I am quite sure he had no idea how much he needed a little girl either until you showed up and took our hearts captive.

Alice, your smile and giggle make everyone happy. Even though you start shy and are slow to warm up to people, your sheer joy brings light to all those around you. Your brothers were good cuddlers, but you are my hugger. You will declare “HUG! KEESES! (kisses)” before bed or before I leave for work and you will throw your whole self into squeezing my neck. You get that from your Daddy’s side of the family, you know. Sluiters and Potters are mega-huggers.

I was afraid that making it official that you were the last would somehow leave me with a feeling of sadness…a feeling of wishing for something more…a not “fullness.” But I never once felt incomplete.

In fact, now that you are here, I have never felt more intact. You complete this family in a way I just couldn’t imagine. I see your brothers differently now through the lens of a complete family–your existence makes me appreciate Eddie’s helpful nature and Charlie’s protective personality more than ever before because now I can see our whole family. There are no pieces missing.

You are our caboose–our Little Sister.

Time has never flown by so fast as it has since we have brought you three kids into this world. As you ripped open your gifts and blew out your candles all on your own tonight, I was reminded that you are not a baby anymore. You are a toddler who is absorbing everything and learning to be you.

Being a mother has been the greatest responsibility that I have ever taken on. The past two years have felt even more powerful because to raise a daughter is such an undertaking. There are a million ways to fail, but I think we can get it right, Alice.

So far, so good, my sweet love.

Love,
Mommy

There Should Be More Here

This year is getting away from me. I look back on what I’ve written this year and I am sad because it’s not more. There should be more. More Eddie being a 2nd grader and saying amazing things. More Charlie being in preschool and transforming before our eyes. More of Miss Alice,our last baby, doing toddler things.

Eddie continues to show that he has a soft heart for others. He is my little activist. He worries about kids who might not have food, shelter, or warm coats this winter. He wonders out loud about the kindness of our country and world leaders. I find things like this in his massive stack of doodle and “crafts”:

That is a football they are tossing around, by the way.

When I found a pile of winter coats, hats, and mittens that don’t fit Eddie or Charlie anymore, Eddie wanted to find kids who needed them and just give them. He didn’t want them to have to buy them at Goodwill. Because of that idea of his, our family has decided to collect winter gear at church and donate all of it to the our local Community Action House who will get them straight to people who need them most.

Yesterday I was giving Alice a bath and Cortney and Charlie were downstairs. It was very quiet in the living room; all I could hear was the TV on the news. Because I didn’t want to leave Alice alone in the tub, I called out, “Eddie?”

“Yeah?”

“Whatcha doin’?”

“Watching the news.”

“Is it boring?”

“No. It’s interesting.”

This kid. Interested in the news, caring about others, and just this month he was awarded his Duty to God awards, a hiking beltloop, and some prizes for selling so much popcorn for cub scouts. I’m just so proud of him. And he treats his little sister like this:

I was nervous about how Charlie would do with preschool. He has such a temper and a penchant for, um, stripping when he is super mad at us. But this fall at parent/teacher conferences, his teacher told us that he is a “quiet leader” who is always first to sit nicely on the carpet, follows directions to a tee, and listens so well he always has the right answer. I just sat blinking.

His tantrums have slowed considerably–in fact we only see them when he is really tired or hungry or we are rushing him. He likes to do things at his own speed, in his own way. If he is left to himself, he is incredibly mature for a four-year old.

He proudly folds towels and cleans the boys’ bathroom downstairs. He helps with food prep when he can, and picks up without being asked if you leave him to it. He also works hard to make his little sister laugh and smile.

He has become my cuddle bug lately. It almost feels like he knows he’s growing up, so he wants to keep as much little as possible by tucking himself next to me as much as he cane. He is so proud of what he accomplishes, but still wants to stay my littlest guy.

Unlike Eddie who will talk all about what kids did at recess or what kids are singing on the playground, Charlie will rarely tell me about the kids in his class–but he knows all their names. He will tell me what letter he worked on, what he learned, what station he got to do that day. He will be quick to tell me if he was able to be a helper–his favorite.

He also never wears socks if he doesn’t have to. If he comes in your house, shoes come off, but so do the socks. Every time.

My baby girl is shedding the “baby” more each day. She is definitely finding her voice around here. When her brothers are wrestling around or being loud, she puts a little hand out and yells, “TOP! BSS! TOP!” (Stop, boys! Stop!)

She asks for “milky” and “bankie” (blankie). She calls her pacifier a “boppy” just like Charlie did.  She can ask for “buks” (books) and “babees” (babies). She delights at seeing herself on video. She waves “hi” and “bye” and when the phone rings she said, “heh yo.” (hello).

She calls for “MOMMA MOMMY MOMMA MOOOOOMMMAAA!!!” which her brothers never did at this age. She has figured out how to say “Dad dee” quite regularly though too and it’s adorable the way she makes Cortney melt all over the floor with her little voice saying “hi dad dee. hi.”

My favorite thing is how her bedtime routine with me is right now. We rock and she likes me to sing. But she doesn’t know how to say “sing” so she just cuddles in and softly says, “peez, momma. peez,” and that is my cue to start singing. When I finish one song, if I don’t go directly into another (or repeat that same one), she will say, “peez,” again. Even when I think she is completely out, she will whisper, “peez,” from behind that little green pacifier of hers. When I pause and don’t get a “peez” I know I can kiss her and lay her down without a fuss.

She is our hugger, our kisser, and our fancy girl. She loves babies and dresses and pretty bracelets and necklaces and purses. She loves to imitate her brothers and her dad and especially me.

Other than her love of being close and cuddly, it’s sort of like she doesn’t know she’s little. She bosses people and demands things, but she does it with a little “peez” and hands out, you just can’t resist her! I’m doing my best not to spoil her, but my goodness! Look at that face!

These kids are keeping us so busy…maybe that is why I have not written enough. But I do regret it. I have this space and I want to fill it.

Our lives are full: Eddie is busy with scouts, I am busy with scouts as the Religious Emblems Coordinator, Cortney is busy with bowling and consistory (he’s a deacon now). Charlie and Alice are busy being little. Eddie is crazy busy getting older and more dependable. School keeps three of us busy. In fact, I just registered to (re)take the GRE (because it’s been over 5 years since I last took it) so I can apply for a PhD program next year.

But I don’t want to be so busy that I forget to post here.

Because we also have snow days like today, when Eddie made his very first snow man all by himself:

Stuff like that deserves to be recorded because look at that face! And Eddie is cute too!

A Year and a Half

My dear Alice,

This week was so very busy with Eddie and me starting school and getting Charlie ready to start next week. Cub scouts started up again for Eddie as did bowling for daddy. Things were so, so crazy. But I didn’t forget you. I didn’t forget your milestone this week.

Tuesday you turned 18 months.  A year and a half. More toddler than baby now.

You are the absolute sunshine of my soul, my love. Your personality is really starting to develop while you find your place in this crazy family of ours. You are SO expressive! Both your laugh and your cry are LOUD, but you can also do the cutest little soft whispery voice.

You are a lady of few words, but can say “Mama,” “Dada,” “please” (peez), “thank you” (thack uuuu), “shoes,” “juice” (which sounds exactly like”shoes” but we know what you want because you are standing next to the fridge when you say it), “no,” “yes,” “uh uh” (for no), and “bop” (for your pacifier).

You shrug your shoulders if we ask you a question, which is especially funny because you do it even when you know the answer. You put your hands out when you want something. For instance if you see I have my phone you will put your little hands together. Sometimes you will even add “pees” and tilt your head to the side because you know I am weak for your cuteness.

You love baths, but hate water in your eyes. You love the beach, but hate the sand. You love to be outside, but do not enjoy grass in your toes.

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You love to be busy and helpful. When daddy makes a meal, you want your apron on too! When we pick up toys, you are quick to help. When I wipe you up after a meal, you want to wipe too. You put your dirty clothes in your basket every night, throw things away that you find on the floor (usually crumbs and bits of things your brothers have left behind), and you bring people their shoes. You know where things go and do not like then to be out of order. Just like your Mama.

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When your brothers were little (and even now to some degree, especially Charlie), they shadowed daddy all the time. Wanting to help fix things and wear a hat. Charlie still helps daddy mow the lawn and put things together. But you are my little shadow. Watching how you comb your hair, or play with the old makeup brush I gave you, or even wear my slippers around the house is like holding up a mirror to myself.

When I scold your brothers, you stand next to me with your little hands clasped behind your back like you are my wing woman. When I am in the bathroom doing my hair and makeup, you stand on the other side of the gate demanding a comb and makeup brushes and jewelry too.

You carry your baby the way I carry you. You give her kisses and giggle the way I kiss you until you giggle.

You throw all your things in your little purse, put it over your arm, and wave bye bye the way I do each morning before heading to work.

And while you’ve been doing this awhile, it still surprises and delights me everyday. After momming two little boys, having a little girl who wants to do what I do is lovely every day. It’s also a giant responsibility. I think more of the words and tone I use. About the way I talk about myself. Of course I think of these things with the boys too, but raising a girl who already wants to be just like me…well, it makes me think of what I hope for you and how I can model that in my own life for you to see.

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You are cute. You are the littlest. You are the only girl. And let’s face it, you may be a bit spoiled. You are used to getting your way. So when the answer is “no”? It doesn’t go over well.

The lip comes out, the brows furrow, and sometimes there are even tears. You will cross your arms over your chest, and at times you will stop your little feet. Daddy and I don’t give in, but sometimes your brothers do. They love you and think you are just the best thing. Eddie even calls you “Sweetie” more than he calls you “Alice.”

Charlie almost exclusively calls you “Beans” or “Beansy”. Both both refer to you as “Beansy Girl” when they are calling for you. I guess your nickname of “Alice Beans” has stuck.

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You love girly things in a way that actually surprised me. We have lots of “boy-type toys” in this house. Eddie would play with whatever when he was little, loving both dolls and trucks, the play kitchen and blocks. Charlie is a poster child for the boy stereotype with his obsession over dinosaurs, blocks, and trucks. You are my little girl stereotype. You have access to any toy, and over and over you gravitate toward the pink things: dolls, strollers, purses, tea set.

But that doesn’t mean you leave your brothers and their toys alone. Oh no.

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You have mastered the art of “Little Sistering”. If Eddie has his DS out, you need to sit and watch…which means you will eventually put your feet on him, touch the screen, and annoy him until he puts it down and play with you or he gets mad and leaves you.

If Charlie is building something with mega blocks, you have the notion that it is your job…your duty, even…to knock those creations down. Because clearly Charlie can’t be having fun if you aren’t there to destroy what he as built so he can start all over again. I think you think you are doing him a service.

They love you so much, Alice. You will find that Eddie is your confidant. He will listen to you and be by your side always. He will try to cheer you up and be there when you need a hug.  Charlie will be your defending. Not that you won’t be able to fight your own battles, but Charlie will have your back. He will be prepared to jump in whenever you need him. You have the two best big brothers a girl could ask for. You will always be loved, heard, and protected when you need it.

My sweet Alice…having you as my daughter is one of the biggest honors I have ever been given. You are my joy. I just love watching you grow and learn and be your biggest cheerleader.

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So my beautiful blue-eyed girl, never stop staring down new things. Don’t let the world tell you that you can’t be serious and that you have to smile all the time. But don’t be afraid to laugh and cry and stay expressive because it’s what makes you so very lovely.

I love you more than words could ever express.

Momma

Mirror

So often

I see reflected in my children

that of which I am ashamed

in myself.

yelling

anxiety

unkind words.

I am SO over you right now!

I can’t deal with you!

Get out of my face!

JUST. LEAVE. ME. ALONE!

these reflections are so clear

but occasionally

those effigies shine

kindness

grace

forgiveness.

I love you.

These are for my brother.

I forgive you.

In those moments

I am

assured that

it’s going to be ok;

They

will be more

than Ok.

mirror



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