I should be cleaning my house. The pile of laundry on our window seat is threatening mutiny. I should be doing any number of things to prepare for this baby jumping around inside me. But alas, I am sitting here at the computer with a plate of apple crisp, making mental to-do lists and not tackling a single item on them.
We had a full, fun weekend. I just try to eat up every fleeting moment of nice fall weather before winter creeps in, sometime around early November. On Friday night I had a much needed girls night. Saturday we took the kids apple picking-one of my favorite traditions all year! On Sunday my mom and I also went to on a walking tour of a local historical cemetery. Braxton has been getting those fang teeth, ( I can never remember the name of them) for what seems like an eternity and has slept horribly and been a bear the past two days. It amazes me how much more tired I am after being up with him for a night or two now compared to when my body was in the routine of feeding a newborn at all hours of the night. Can’t wait for that… It is coming before we know it. And now I am back to all the things I should be doing to get ready. But instead I am going to share some apple picking pictures.
We always go the second or third weekend in September. Last year I realized that we had done this unintentionally at the same time every year since we were married. It is always fun for me to look back at how our family has changed from year to year. And in case you are wondering, I take way more pictures than I actually pick apples. I leave that to Peter and my adorable helpers. I laughed on the way home this year because I literally didn’t pick a single apple. Good thing they like to share. Well, my apple crisp is gone. Maybe I should go be productive while my sweet apple pickers rest.
Hayleigh started preschool this week. Be still my heart. I was fine leading up to it but the night before we went to orientation and I think it all sunk in: how “old” she is, how this is more than just playing with friends, that she will actually be learning, and being all big and stuff. I went to bed the night before feeling a mix of pride, sadness and excitement-mostly excitement. I mean how could I not be when her bubbly enthusiasm was so darn cute and contagious?! The next morning she was at 6:30am telling me we were going to be late. It was a task to get her to sit still enough to eat breakfast and get her hair brushed. I watched her prance and twirl in her “preschool dress”-the dress she picked out on her own that pretty much sums up her personality.
I only teared up once. Looking at her in her backpack all ready to go just made me get a little misty for a moment as I thought about how my baby, my first precious baby, was growing up.
The first day was really more of an orientation. It was only a half hour and the parents stayed. This was basically the same thing as giving Hayleigh one lick of an ice-cream cone and then ripping it away. She was NOT happy about leaving. I had to verbally, almost physically, drag her away from the sand table, the same sand table she has been talking about since open house in January. I guess that is a good sign! One of her teachers asked to take a picture of her on her first day. She probably could have picked a better time because all the poor woman got for the picture was a pouty scowl. Peter and I had lots of explaining and comforting to do on the ride home.
Today she went for her second day for a little longer, all by herself. When I picked her up I took her to a playground and “interrogated” her as she swang.
Her favorite part of preschool: “Playing on the playground, eating bird crackers and walking in a line”
Something she didn’t like about preschool: “Nothing. Everything at preschool was fun.”
Something she learned: “I didn’t really learn about frogs today.” (Their first unit is on pond life and there are “pet” frogs in the classroom.)
A way that she showed God’s love to others: “I didn’t take any toys from kids and I let a boy play with a tower with me.”
It is still a bit hard for me to believe she is in preschool, considering it doesn’t feel that long ago that my sisters were having their first days and I was telling them all about what to expect. I told her as I put her down for a nap today, (yes! a nap! Maybe preschool will grow on me!), how proud I am of her and how excited I am about all she is going to do in preschool. As she curled up with the same blanket she has used since she was a newborn, she replied “I know, Mommy. I love preschool. And I love you.” Perfection.
This past weekend Peter and I celebrated our 5th wedding Anniversary. We actually took the opportunity to get away for the weekend. It was a pretty last minute decision made only a few weeks ago, but we figured people may be a little less willing or able to give us two nights away once there is a third child to board. We stayed in a cabin on Canandaigua Lake in the pretty little town of Naples, NY. The cabin was even more secluded than we thought, (read: pretty much in the middle of nowhere). Now this cabin, which was just opened in July complete with climate control, a fully equipped kitchen with granite and stainless steel, and a deck with a view of the lake is the only way I like to “camp”, especially 7 months pregnant. It was so relaxing and unbelievably quiet.
Fall is our favorite time of year. Throughout the weekend we could sense the hint of Fall in the air and could even watch the leaves changing colors more and more each day. We didn’t do anything exciting…well unless you consider relaxing exciting, which I do! We spent some time walking around in the town of Canandaigua, ate grilled steak on the back deck watching a sunset, slept in and stopped at Monica’s Pies for a seriously delicious peach crumb pie. It was really nice to get away and have no schedule or obligations. And did I mention it was quiet?
Sometimes admits all the business of life and the logistics of the good stuff of life it is easy to forget to make time for just hanging out and having fun together. When it is just us I am instantly reminded of how fun Peter is. I am so thankful to have a husband who makes me laugh and who also takes care of me with selflessness and care. He is so patient with all my quirks and “issues”. He is the best friend God has ever given me and although I sometimes forget to appreciate all that he is I am incredibly grateful for the past eleven years together and the past five we have been married. It has not always been easy. In fact we have encountered a lot of unexpected and challenging events but I am proud of the person Peter has been through it all. His faithfulness, support and self-sacrifice continue to give me a beautiful portrayal of God’s love. I am excited to see what God has planned for our future.
To my special girl,
You start preschool in just a few days. It is kind of hard for me to believe that I have a child old enough to be in preschool! Weren’t Daddy and I just going to school ourselves?! It is also kind of crazy that you are old enough to go to school. When you were born it seemed so far away, yet here it is! I am so excited for you-almost as excited as you are! You are so ready. The other day you actually had a mini meltdown because I told you that you weren’t old enough to ride the bus yet. Geez girl! You are three years old! Are you trying to put this hormonal, protective Mommy over the edge!? Baby steps, please. No, really I am positive about you going to preschool. It is only two mornings a week. It is going to be great for you. I know you will shine in that environment because you love people and making new friends and you love to learn. I am so excited for all the things you will come home and share with me.
As with any milestone though, this one leaves me a bit sentimental. It causes me to look back and wonder how in the world the past three and a half years have gone by so quickly. No doubt, I will do the same thing in the coming years as well. Parents always say how fast time goes. Sometimes it sounds cliché and annoying if you haven’t experienced it for yourself. I remember thinking before having kids, “how can the time really seem to go faster?” But it really does. I have loved each and every stage of your life so far. I love to watch you grow and listen to the funny things you say. I love to see your personality emerge more and more. I love to hear your mature beyond your years thoughts on things, and your completely innocent and adorable age appropriate thoughts as well. I love to hear your little voice, especially as you talk to your brother or Daddy or me, or as you play pretend when you don’t know I am listening. It makes my heart happy to see you. I love you more than I can ever put into words and more hugs and kisses than I could ever give you. You never cease to amaze, inspire, teach me, and fill my heart with more love than I knew it could hold. I know you will do the same for anyone you encounter in life who really gets to know you. I guess that starts in a new way next week in preschool.
My prayer for you is not just that you are safe, that you learn, that you are well behaved, polite and kind-but more than that. I see so much potential in you. The love and sensitivity you have towards the needs of others often humbles me. In so many ways we are very alike but in other ways you remind me of areas that I see as weakness in myself and have always wanted to improve. My prayer is that you will enter into the school world (yes, I know it is only preschool) and be comfortable to be yourself. When you are reading this you probably are thinking that this task is not so difficult when you are three or four years old. In my mind the influences to change who you are in order to please others begins here. As the famous e.e. cummings quote says “it takes courage to grow up to become who you really are.” This is something which everyone struggles with to some extent or another. It is not that you are not a strong person. It is just that you are someone who is acutely aware of things, especially people. You are also someone who strives to make people happy. You want them to love and accept you the way you do them. I can see this being a great strength of yours. I can also see you bending who God has made you to be to conform to standards other people put on you-whether they do it intentionally or not. In my prayers for you I often ask God to help you be a person who does not compromise what is right, who does not change the core of who you are in order to be accepted or liked. There is no reason for you to do this, because God has made you to be a beautiful person inside and out. I am not just saying that. I honestly am blown away on a daily basis by the sheer beauty that God entrusted me with when He gave you to me as my daughter. Sometimes the magnitude of how special God has made you brings me to tears. I long, as I know God does also, for you to see that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) and “are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
This brings me to the second thing that I pray for you as you enter this new stage of your life. I also long for you to be a light for God wherever you go. I want you to not be self-absorbed, consumed as I sometimes tend to be in what other people may think of you or in comparing yourself to others. I pray that the sensitivity, compassion and affection that God has given you will not be squandered, but rather that you would allow God to use you to minister to the needs of others. Even at a young age I can see you doing this. As you grow older I hope that you will be the person who accepts others who God has made them and treats other as you would want to be treated. This “golden rule” is something we talk about a lot at home. Sometimes I think it sounds like a childish mantra, but really it is something that should govern all of our interactions with people-no matter what our age. I am excited to see how God will use you to share His love with others, even if it is “just” your friends from preschool. Those are your peers after all and it all begins here.
It is hard for me to believe that you are really old enough to be entering preschool, with your little backpack and first day of school dress that you picked out yourself. Yet, I am filled with joy and anticipation as we enter this new stage. This is a chance for you to grow up more into the person God has made you to be. This is an opportunity for you to put into practice sharing God’s love on a regular basis with people outside our home. I am honored that God has chosen me to be your Mommy. As I like to tell you, you are the one who made me a Mommy. This is something special that you and I share. Every day you make me more of a Mommy. You cause me to stretch and grow in new ways- just as you have from the time you were first conceived inside of me. You challenge and bless me in countless ways. As you grow, our relationship grows as well, and my love for you flourishes more and more. Each new stage we enter together is a chance for fresh and beautiful things for both of us. I am trying to focus only on this beauty as we transition into a new stage where I start (even though it is only for a very small period of time) to surrender some control over raising you. I am excited for you, and for me, for what this next phase holds. (And trying not to think ahead to the following phase:Kindergarten. Eek. Not ready yet. Baby steps.)
I love you for you-for all that you are and all that God has made you to be. I will love you for always and forever, no matter what. As Robert Munsch wrote, “I will love you forever. I will like you for always. As long as I am living, my baby you will be.” I like to add that even after I am gone from this earth, you will continue to be my baby, just as I will always be your Mommy. It is engraved into who we are. More than that your identity is as a child of God. As much as I long for you to be assured of my love, my heart aches for you to know, really know, God’s love for you and the meaning of your identity in Him even more.
As always, my prayer for you boils down to this:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19