Why blog? I don't even have a facebook account...it feels like it makes life so public. But then--blogging is kind of like a diary, isn't it? It makes me feel a little like Doogie Houser at the end of the day--collecting my thoughts and putting them down. I don't want to blog because I want my life to be public (though I don't mind wearing my heart on my sleeve, most of the time) or because I'm a narcissist, but because these days of our young family are so precious I don't want to lose them to a faulty memory. This time, this stage, these moments truly are 'a time to keep', and blogging is simply the most convenient way to keep them and share them.

I really didn't think I'd ever start a blog...but now that Mac has stopped calling firetrucks "fire knuckles" (he now calls them firetrucks, and I'm so sad!), I realize I'll forget that he ever did that if I don't write it down. So, the blog begins. Welcome.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Mac! (A week late)

Dear Mac,

Happy Birthday! You are three! (And actually--you've been three for a solid week now! Sorry for the late birthday wish, but since we spent your actual birthday partying, the birthday weekend hosting houseguests, and the week following at the happiest place on earth, I didn't have time to sit down and write a real birthday letter to you. And since you can't read yet and don't know the difference, I don't think you'll mind. But I do hope you read this someday--and feel the depth of the love daddy and I have for you!)

What a year it's been! You began the year with a brand-new baby sister. I'm so proud of the big brother you've become. It touches my heart to see you be kind to your sister. I love watching the two of you play together and giggle together. (You LOVE to make her laugh.) Of course, there are plenty of times the sweet tender moments take a turn...like the other day when you wanted Arden to walk to you. Against my better judgement, I allowed it. She toddled from me to you...you welcomed her with open arms...and then you body slammed her. The sweet sibling moment ended in shrieks of pain from the "gurl" (as you call her). So...your big brother role is sweet--but also requires a fair amount of supervision from me!

You also have mastered so much language this year, and it's been amazing to watch. A year ago, you were forming simple 1 or 2 word sentences. Now, you are the master of the run-on sentence! It's wonderful and shed so much light on what goes on in your head. For example, here is a conversation we had today:

{Context: washing our hands after I helped you in the bathroom at cookout. The hosts had candle burning on the counter beside the sink.}
Mac: Oh no Mom! Watch out! There's fire right there!
Me: Mac, it's okay. It's just a candle. We do need to be careful around candles, but it's not going to hurt us if we don't touch it.
Mac: {pauses to consider} Oooooh. Is someone turning one?

It's been fun to watch you play this year. You've mastered the tricycle, and daddy and I think it's time for your first bicycle! You have become very good at (simple) jigsaw puzzles. You enjoy drawing, especially the letter "M". You've finally mastered the digger at the park (it's pretty tricky, but you've got it!). You love your Thomas the Train set and using legos to build tunnels and parking garages for your trains. The most significant change in your play this year has been the amount of make-believe! You love to pretend, and are always telling me one complicated scheme or another about what is "happening".

Along with play comes social life. It's funny to watch you play with others. You are generally more quiet around other kids than you are around us. You love playing with one or two other kids, but in a big crowd tend to stick to the edge of the crowd or play by yourself instead. You don't seem to be a ringleader, but you don't appear to be a follower either. I hope that makes you a "quiet leader"--but time will tell. You're quite at home with the "big kids" (youth group teenagers), and love when they come to our home, talking their ears off and inviting them into your room to play with your toys. You seem more comfortable around them than kids your own age--probably because they pay you so much attention and think everything you say and do is adorable.

You are stepping into the part of childhood when you beginning to understand that bad things can happen. With that has come some fear of things--like the dark. We try to keep you sheltered from scary images and ideas, but some cannot be avoided. The other day, we were looking a daffodil bulbs at Lowes when you pretty much jumped into my arms and buried your head in my neck. You had seen the Halloween decorations, including a very life-like witch, with a loud cackle and eyes that lit up. You would not move from the spot and I had to carry you (all 40 pounds, as we were told by the doctor last week)--while wheeling Arden in the shopping cart--out of the store. Now you won't go to Lowes--and I don't blame you! We try to help you take your fear to the Lord, praying with you and encouraging you to pray on your own when you are scared.

You've begun to ask many spiritual questions. We try to answer simply yet fully--a difficult task. It's such a blessing to see you interested in spiritual things. We pray continually for wisdom in guiding you. We pray continually that you will grow in your knowledge of the Lord and in your relationship with him.

This post would paint an untrue picture if I didn't mention your 3 year old WILL. You want things done YOUR WAY, and we will hear about it if things are not. You want fiercely to control the world around you, in any way you can. It's an interesting contrast--because you want so passionately to be in control, yet you also need to always know that WE (your parents) are in control. The irony--you (like all children) want control and fight for control--yet gaining control is also what you most fear (though you could never verbalize this), because it means your parents are no longer in control. I pray for wisdom continually in this balance.

The main thing I want you to know on your third birthday--how very deeply your daddy and I love you. We are so thankful for the gift of you. I love your sweet little boy self, I love you hands and feet and your sweet blonde hair. I love the words that come out of your mouth (usually!), and how you can't wait to show me when you've figured something out. I love watching you helping your sister. I love watching you tackle daddy when he comes home. I love seeing your little legs pumping the tricycle to go fast. I love hearing you "read to my buddies" at night (reading books in bed to your stuffed animals). I love who you are, and I love who you will become.

I pray that this year the gospel will become increasingly real to you.

I love you Mac. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Arden!

My dear, sweet Arden,

Happy Birthday! You are one year old today. What a precious year it's been! It seems to have flown by so quickly, so much more quickly than your brother's first year. I savored each day of your babyhood--but have also been so excited to watch you grow and learn.

You are such a sweet girl. You are a little shy. You love to be held and to cuddle. You let me rock you to sleep if I want--but you're perfectly happy to go to sleep on your own too. You're so sweet--but you're also tough! Having a rough-and-tumble older brother has taught you that. You get knocked down but get right back up. You fight back--which, though I hope to teach all my children to respond in love and kindness--I can't help but be a little proud of you for standing up for yourself. I hope that you can learn to take that same fighting spirit to stand up for others one day.

I love watching you learn to walk! You are taking a few steps at a time now--you can go about 4 feet before you collapse in giggles. (You think walking is hilarious and laugh every time you're able to do it--I really hope you don't take the same hopelessly giggly approach when you learn to drive!) I can see your determination and I think a lot of it has to do with wanting to keep up with your brother.

You are talking and SO proud of your new communication skills. Your first intelligible words were "Bye, bye" (sounds like "bah, bah), followed closely by, "Mac" (sounds like "Mah"), "No" (relatively clear), and "Uh-oh" (sounds like "oh-oh"). You have a word for Maya--it's difficult to tell what you're saying but it always sounds the same (sort of like, "Mah-ee"). You do not say "mama" but instead call us both "dah-dee". Pretty cute. You also use a little sign language--our own Anderson adaptations of "more" and "all done".

You love to eat bread. Every time I bring it out, you react as if it's pure bliss--kicking your feet, leaning forward in your high chair, signaling for more. I have to reserve it for the end of the meal, otherwise you would eat nothing else. You have shown far more enthusiasm for bread than any other food.

I'm proud of you lately because you're learning to happily play by yourself. This is huge--since you've learned to crawl you usually use your mobility to follow me (or sometimes your brother) everywhere. But just in the past few days (and I hope it lasts!), you'll decide to go crawl in your room and play with your toys by yourself. (Actually, I say toys, but more often than not it's actually shoes. You are obsessed with shoes and love to play with them. You love trying to put them on yourself--though of course you are nowhere near mastering the skill. You will often crawl around the house carrying one or two shoes with you. So funny and cute...and girlie!)

Sweet Arden (or, "baby gurl" as your brother calls you), we love you so dearly. I am sad to see your babyhood dissolving as you become a toddler, but I am so excited to see who you are becoming. I pray that you grow in Jesus: knowing him, loving him, trusting him, and becoming more like him. I pray that we can be the parents that you need. I pray that you and Mac grow closer and closer, and learn to love others in the world by learning to love one another. I pray that these early years of your life become a foundation for a life lived in Christ, and that we are able to make decisions for you to that end.

I am so thankful that the Lord has entrusted you to us. You are a blessing, every day. Happy Birthday my sweets!

I love you,
Mama (or, "Dah--dee"--your current name for me)