Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dear Lana - One Year

Dear Lana,

Well, here we are!  You are now a big, bubbly one year old, and suddenly I am the mama of a toddler.  You are looking more grown up every day, sporting new hairstyles and wearing real shoes while you work on your walking.  You finally decided to really crawl last week; I think you were a little frustrated with not being quite ready to walk and just wanted to get places, fast!  You combined that new skill with learning to pull/push up and perfected your cruising skills, all within days of each other.  Like you love to do!  You are getting more and more steady every day and I think you will be ready to really walk well before we are ready for it!  You have taken a few tumbles and even got your first goose-egg on your forehead, but you generally just need a good hug and a little cry and you are ready to get back to it.  It's a little nervewracking to watch you wobble, but so awesome to see you learn and begin to be able to catch yourself.

We've had some "lasts" here lately, along with all the "firsts".  You had your last ride in the baby swing, your last jump in your jumpy toy, and your last walk in the walk-around play area we had.  I can tell a couple more are quickly approaching:  your changing table will need to go soon due to lots of rolling and fearless curiosity, and you can get yourself out of the Bumbo (which makes hair-styling time interesting). 

Your vocabulary is growing all the time, and you continue to be a great mimic.  Even if you can't say the words we say, you will mimic our inflection and sometimes the sounds of the word or phrase.  You also switch consonants often, even though you can say the correct one.  For instance, you use the "n" sound all the time, but prefer to call a "nap" a "bap".  It is so fun and exciting to communicate more with you as you learn.  I am also learning just how much of a Southern accent I have when I hear you repeat it back to me! Ha!!  You love to read, but currently you especially like to turn to the last page and say "THE END!"  You've even said "the end" a couple times when you've finished a bottle!

Last night, as I rocked you before bed, I told you yet again the story of our travels to Utah, how we met you, and our first days as a family.  I have always loved telling you the story, but I especially love how you listen now, and make sounds like you are participating in the conversation.  Your favorite part right now is when I tell you all the things you couldn't do yet (roll over, sit up, say words) and we laugh together - now that you're a big kid and all! ;)  I tell you all about Roseanna and how very much she loved you, and loves you.  She told us she plans to call today to sing "happy birthday" to you, and I know you will love that.  I hope as you grow you are proud of your story.  We are glad you will know it all, and pray that you will always know how fiercely loved you are by so many.

Miss Lana Rose Queen, it is an absolute joy and deep honor to be your mama.  I will never stop being thankful and in awe that we were chosen to be your parents.  I honestly never thought I would enjoy being a mom this much, and I think it's all because of who I get to parent!  You are fun, tender, sensitive, silly, inquisitive, SO smart, and full of big feelings that you don't hesitate to show. The other day at brunch a waitress told us we were so lucky to be your parents.  I wholeheartedly agree. You are my precious, treasured daughter and I love you so very much.


Your very first picture!

Super posed, and a little cheesy, but this will always be one my of most treasured pictures.

Already giving Daddy the stink eye at two days old!

You love this hat, and also love this horn from our NYE parties!

Daddy thought he might get you to nap...

First chicken wing!  haha!  Super Bowl Party, Daddy thought it was as good a time as any!
Happy to be awake!

At Alec's birthday party!

First time seeing bubbles!

Super cool, big kid style.  Note the discarded baby walker toy in the background. ;)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dear Lana - 11 Months

Dear Lana,

I can hardly believe this is the last monthly letter I will be writing to you before you are a whole year old!  I have been acutely aware of the fact that your days of being a baby are quickly vanishing and I am trying to savor this time before you are off and running like a big kid.  

You experienced your first Christmas and you seemed to really enjoy it!  I don't think you had a clue what was going on, but you loved seeing family so often and all the fun sounds and sights.  You had no trouble figuring out what to do with presents and tore into them like a pro!  Of course, the tissue paper was usually your favorite part.  At Uma and Grandpa's house we sing Christmas carols on Christmas night, and it's loud and very silly.  You looked at us all like we were crazy at first (I would, too), but decided to join in with your jingle bells and help with the rhythm section!

You had a lot of firsts this month.  Right around Christmas you decided you wanted to try walking while holding onto an adult's fingers.  Now, that is all you want to do!  You will still sit and play for a little while, but you get tired of that quickly and want to be on the move.  You aren't pulling up yet, but you do like to stand at table-like toys and play, and in the last week you have just started "cruising" on furniture.  You have even considered trying to take a couple steps between people!  You can stand and clap or wave and hold your balance for quite a few seconds.  

We finally got you a toothbrush (oops, we slacked a little on that one!) and started brushing your teeth every day.  You were very unsure of it at first and would cram both your hands in your mouth as soon as we took the brush out. You do love the minty taste of the toothpaste, though, which is pretty funny, and you let us brush without much protest now.

We also moved you into a convertible car seat.  That was a really tough one for me!  No more carrying you around in your seat, no more setting you in the stroller facing me on our long walks.  You love looking out and seeing the world, and it is wonderful you can be a little more involved in your surroundings.  I did so love and enjoy all the hours spent "chatting" and laughing and just being able to see each other while we walked.  I am so thankful for those times!  You think your new seat is pretty neat and I am sure you appreciate the extra room.

You are currently going through a major growth spurt.  For about 6 weeks you really didn't grow much, out or up.  All of the sudden you are flying through sizes again!  You are even waking some nights to eat; that's something you haven't done in about 9 months!  

One last big change is that you are finally able to eat most solid foods!  For months you had trouble biting small pieces off, or you would try to swallow food without gumming/chewing it.  This month things came together and you are very excited to try anything we give you.  So far you haven't rejected any foods, but it is easy to tell when you like something - and when you don't.  When you like a food you instantly and enthusiastically start signing for more, and when you don't you let the food sit on your tongue for a while and you act very disinterested in more.  Broccoli is probably your least favorite right now, and I think your favorite is either avocado or the tiny pieces of turkey bacon I've shared with you!

It is so amazing to watch you grow and learn.  I am trying to soak it all in, but I know even the thousands of pictures I take of you won't help me keep it all.  I know I can't possibly remember every detail but I wish I could.  At the least I hope I always remember the bittersweet excitement of watching you scoot around the ottoman, the overwhelming cuteness of you learning to blow kisses, the joy of seeing your first Christmas, and the hilarity of watching you ham it up with funny faces the first time you realized you could work an audience. ;)  You have been far too busy the past few months to sit and cuddle, but this week you have been letting me hold you and sing and rock you at night.  I am so grateful and never want to forget what it is like having you snuggled up to me, seeing your beautiful brown eyes stare into mine as yours (and often, mine) get sleepier and heavier.  I don't want to forget how there are some songs we have just given up on because they make me cry and you get pretty confused (I don't blame you, you have such a weepy mom!)  I don't want to forget how when I stop singing you start humming (sometimes you even hum along).  I always want to remember how sometimes you will all of the sudden take your thumb out of your mouth and say "mama" and touch my face and make me tear up.  I think that might be my favorite. 
There have been some sad times here and there, some long days, and some busy weeks, but you have been such a joy in the midst of it.  I am so very thankful for each day with you.

I love you, my baby girl.
Fitness routine!

On a cold walk with mama

Your last time in your infant car seat.

And your first time in your new seat!  I think you liked it..!

Reading Christmas cards :)

Christmas kisses for Fox

You loved our tree at home and were so careful with the ornaments.

Brush brush brush!

You sure do love Fox. <3

Christmas Eve Thai dinner!  You even got a sweet surprise visit from the same Santa you saw at the mall in the pic above!  He was off duty and picking up some dinner after a long day. ;)


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcome, 2015.

Tonight we are hosting our annual New Year's Eve party.  One year ago tonight we got "the call", the one we had been waiting for so long, the one that changed our lives.  We found out we would be parents!  The joy and light that began with that call has shown brightly in what has been, at times, a trying year.  Lana has truly been a gift to us and we know 2015 will hold even more exciting milestones and memories.  I am so excited to continue to watch her grow.

I had another post all written and ready to hit publish today, but...it's just a little more than I'm ready to say at this point.  Instead, I'll say this:  2014  was one of the best years of my life, as I became a mother and have had the honor and joy of parenting our sweet girl.  It has also been one of the most difficult, for several reasons.  As we gather tonight with close friends for a fun night, we'll all be leaving a year that held a crazy mix of highs and lows:  unexpected loss and grief, victory and miraculous healing, successful new endeavors, private struggles, fun memories, hope delayed, hope fulfilled.  We'll celebrate the good, reflect on the struggles (not too deeply!), and hope the next year hold many,  many more highs than lows for us all.  When I was much younger I saw New Year's Eve as an excuse to just have a great time and a party.  I still love a good party, and hopefully always will, but the marking of the changing of years holds a little more gravity for me now that I've experienced more real life.

Tonight's party may look a little different from years past. There will be a smaller crowd, fewer decorations, fewer homemade dishes, and an established end time (we have a kid to pick up in the morning)!  I've worked all week so the house may not be in its finest shape.  And the most tragic, my sequin dress didn't arrive in time! ;)  haha.  But we will be surrounded with some of those that we've shared life with this year, and I can't imagine a better way to end 2014 and look forward.

Tonight, I personally will be celebrating the big joy in my life this year - hope fulfilled!!  This was the year we met our girl.  The magnitude of that is not lost on me and I love that every New Year's Eve, I can and will celebrate that amazing night we learned we had a daughter.  

I have some things I've resolved to work on in 2015 and will be sharing them here in the coming weeks.  Some are exciting, some seem difficult.  But I'm ready!  I'm hoping for a year of renewal, refocus, and new joy.

What are your resolutions?  I'd love to hear them!  

Last year, after we heard the news!

This year. :)


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dear Lana - 10 Months

Dear Lana,

This month you experienced your first taste of the holidays!  We visited Birmingham and saw both sides of your dad's family.  You were the hit of the restaurant at Thanksgiving lunch and you sat so well the whole time we were there.  You were totally exhausted and had to make up for lost sleep afterwards!  You really do travel well and don't seem too thrown off by flexible schedules.  That may have something to do with the fact that you still frequently boycott naps all on your own, though!  

You continue to sleep super well through the night, though lately you have been waking up and having a great time just hanging out in your bed.  We'll hear you laughing and chatting away, sometimes for over an hour.  I'm not sure what entertains you during those mid-night parties, but you sure do think it's fun!  

The big news this month is that you have started to try to crawl!!  You had really resisted it and still don't do it much, but you will lay on your belly or side and use your feet to push yourself forward.  You will rock back and forth if we put you on your knees, but then just flop over and try a different way.  So far the things that really motivate you to scoot across the floor are things you shouldn't have, like shoes or one of our cups or a cord or something equally dangerous.  It is definitely time for baby proofing!

You also got two more teeth, the two in the front on the top.  They cut one day a part; I wonder if you will always get your teeth in pairs?  Now you can bite and chew a little better, which makes us both happy.  I still am not giving you many chunky foods, though, as you are still gagging a bit on them and I just can't handle it!  I am recruiting help from Uma and Daddy to teach you to chew before swallowing.  For now we stick with all the food you were eating and some crackers you love that dissolve even if you take a huge bite.

We went to your 9 month checkup (at around 10 months, the doctors were booked up!), and you are doing great.  Now that you are more active and mobile, you are gaining weight at a slower pace and slimming out a bit.  I sure am going to miss your rolls when they are gone!  The nurse gave me a checklist to mark all the milestones and things you've learned; I was a little concerned because although you are doing about 75% of the things listed, there were quite a few that are not even on the radar for you.  About 10 minutes later the nurse came back and told me she accidentally gave me the 18 month worksheet!  Whew.  So I guess that means you are actually super advanced! ;) 

I had a birthday this month and you and Daddy made sure I felt special with fun gifts and a delicious breakfast full of my favorite things.  I loved spending the day with you two!

Your dad wrote and recorded an album about our time of waiting for you and the process of you joining our family, and he called it "Home".  He released it this month, and it is an amazing gift for our family to have, to remember those years.  I hope you love it as you grow and know and feel all the love and commitment he poured into it.  There is even one song specially for you, and it includes your heartbeat from right before you were born!  It makes me teary every time I hear it and remember that life-changing, amazing day.

One sad thing this month is that you got your first cold.  Daddy and I have been sick for a couple months with coughs and colds we just can't shake, and you finally got some of it.  /You recovered pretty quickly, but it was sad to see you not feeling well.  You were extra cuddly and got no complaints from us about that!  

We are so excited to head into the Christmas season soon; your first Christmas!  We took you to visit Santa at the mall and you just stared and stared at him, but when we sat down in a coffee shop about 5 minutes later you were hamming it up with all sorts of hilarious faces!  I have been super busy with jewelry shows lately so I am really looking forward to being able to spend more family time and just be with you.  Time has passed so quickly this year and I can't stand to miss anything with you.  I treasure each day and am so thankful to be your mama.  You are a delight and a gift in our lives.

Love you bunches,

Your first Thanksgiving

You joined me and some of my oldest friends for lunch!

Still practicing "don't touch" ;)

Happy after a nap

Playing drums with Daddy

Your post-Santa visit faces :)

Daddy's album.  So proud!
Lucas' birthday party