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Entries in birthday (14)


On the Eve of Your First Birthday 


Dear Z,

That smile!You are so big and so small. Yes, this is possible. It’s hard to believe the way that life has expanded in the last year with you here. Our house is so much more full with smiles, messy floors and your endless range of noises.

I feel like I’m really getting to know you. You love games, and routine. I’ll be shocked if your first word isn’t “ball”—the only thing you love more is your brother, and “Dominic” is an unlikely first word. And you LOVE to eat.

You are finally getting much more of the attention you deserve. We’re all learning to share our time better, and that leaves me feeling much less anxious about giving you the focus that I want you to have. We have many moments together these days, and I treasure them. And the benefit of the few months that it took to find that balance is that you are a very patient little boy (except when you are in your highchair).

You and brother have loved each other intensely since you were born, and now you can actually play together. You roll the ball back and forth, chase each other around the house and sometimes even share toys. You even gave brother his first baby-induced owie—a scrape from a dino swipe to the face (I’m calling it revenge for an incident when you were three months old that involved a dino dropped from a height).

I know when we bring your birthday balloons into your room in the morning that your face will light up. Your morning smile is joy. It’s your joy. It’s Daddy’s joy. It’s Brother’s joy. It’s my joy. You are our joy.

All my love,



A Week of Transitions


I don't think we could have squeezed any more into last week. A big birthday, bye-bye to nap time and hello to a big girl bed. 

Reese turned 3 and we celebrated with several little parties. I had a blast planning because this is the first year I knew she'd really 'get' the whole birthday thing. The night before her birthday I decorated a table with sparkly wrapping paper, party hats & whistles, balloons and a few gifts. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve and couldn't wait for morning. Sure enough, she loved it all. 

Along with her turning 3 we decided to transition her long late afternoon nap to "Quiet Time." She was taking these late afternoon two hour naps and then playing in her crib for one to two hours at night before finally falling asleep around 9pm-10pm. Too late for me! I didn't mind except she'd be so tired in the morning. Now, with no nap we put her to bed at 7pm and she wakes up rested at 7am. The only thing is that with no naps, it makes for a really tough evening. On the flip side, my husband and I have our nights to ourselves. 

Lastly, we finally moved her into a 'big girl' bed, which is really just a toddler bed. We just took off the side of her crib and now she can climb in and out. She's handled it really well. Last night within the first 30 min she got up 3x and we just kept walking her back to bed. She finally fell asleep and stayed there til morning. Tonight she got into bed and was fast asleep within minutes. Phew!

Anyway, tons of transitions happening over here. Any suggestions on how to keep a toddler in her room for a full hour during "Quiet Time?" Reese can do 30-45 minutes but then likes to come out because....well, now she can. 


To My Daughter On Her 1st Birthday


Lovely Ava. You are beauty embodied.

When you were a newborn, I used to stare at your balled up little fists and whisper, "Open your hands to the world, Baby Girl. Open your hands and reach for anything you want in life."

It looks as if my prayers will come true. I don't know what your future holds but I do know that you are a little girl with determination and tenacity. You open your hands to explore your world every day and it makes me so proud.

Mothering your big brother has taught me that infancy goes all too fast. So while you are still my little baby girl, here are the things that I want to remember the most about you.

  • Your smile. You love to smile and you have a darling dimple under your right eye when you do.
  • You wake up in the middle of the night mad as snakes. That smile is nowhere to be found. You want milk, a clean diaper, and to go back to sleep posthaste.
  • The way you point with such determination to the things you want. When I pick you up out of your crib you point to the rocking chair so declaratively that I can hardly refuse. 
  • You are a good eater! You took to finger foods far better than your brother ever did and I am proud of your adventurous palette.
  • Your vocabulary! So your first word was Dada. You say a lot more than that now including Mama, which melts my heart every time I hear it.
  • You want to walk in the worst way and get angry if we aren't holding your hands around the clock to help you. You cling to our fingers and wonder around the house as if you own the place.
  • You are completely enamored of your big brother, if not a little aggressive with him. You like to pull his hair and bang on his head if he comes too close but he is sweet with you and usually tolerates it. Except when he doesn't. He has been known to snatch toys right out of your hands and sometimes throw them all too close to your face. I have a feeling you'll be telling him how you feel about that soon enough. 
  • You don't care much for dolls or princesses but you sure do love your brother's superheroes! 
  • You wear it well! Mommy chooses your wardrobe with care and precision. I dress you like a proper little lady, although I choose very little pink. 
  • You give open mouth kisses, or none at all! Big, wet, and unapologetic. 

 I love you so, Ava Girl. 


On Your Third Birthday



You turned three today. The day started blissfully with you singing Twinkle Twinkle to yourself in a dream while I gave baby an early morning bottle. You got to the end of the first verse and couldn’t remember how the others went, “Mama, how does the rest of Twinkle Twinkle go?” You asked this quietly, while still sleeping. But then your inquiry became louder and more urgent. I began to sing the verses back to you, but you couldn’t hear me through your dream. After a few minutes you woke up to find me in the chair next to your bed, holding your little brother. It was an early, but perfect way to start your third year. Birthday smile!

This has been quite a year. And I’ll be honest—it’s been tough. You sailed through potty training and even the introduction of your little brother, but we’ve had other struggles. Your physical exuberance is often more than your playmates can handle. I’ve heard many surprised, quiet gasps from other moms as you’ve pushed into their little ones, or worse. We’ve worked HARD—you, me, your dad, your teachers, the other parents at preschool—to help you to use your words instead of your body, and it has helped. I see the gentle soul that I know you are a bit more every day, and I can’t wait until that is the little boy who shows up to every birthday party and playdate. Until then, we’ll keep working and we’ll keep loving you just as much as we always have.

Watching you play is one of my great joys. Tonight, Daddy and I just couldn’t bear to put you to bed because you were so engrossed in pretend play with your new Legos. You were a “vetrapramarian”  fixing a broken turtle shell and then checking Daddy’s “heartbeep.” I heard you tell one of your Lego animals how proud you were of him for doing something and my heart swelled. I know that my responses to your aren’t always Positive-Discipline-perfect, but I do hope that the lasting feeling you get from our days together is how proud I am of the little man that you are.

I’m proud in the moments when I watch you pull your hands to your side at the sandbox and ask a little boy if he wants to play, when you choose the perfect, soft toy for Baby Z to snuggle, when you ask Daddy about the best part of his day at dinner, when you say that your favorite color is “beige” (seriously, what 3-year-old knows about beige?), when you eat carnitas. And I’m even proud in the not-so-perfect moments, when you are promising to be gentle next time or when you’re helping me clean up marker from the floor.

Every day we’re learning. You and me and Daddy too. We’re figuring out how this growing up thing works and I am so happy to be doing it with you.

My favorite quote these days is, “The days are long but the years are short.” I can’t think of anything else that sums up my feeling on your birthday better than this.

I love you eternally and unconditionally,



To My Son On His 2 1/2 Birthday


My big boy! Today you are 2 1/2 and I can't believe how independent you have become. I love you more every single day, even though you are bossy and don't like my singing. 

I can hardly remember a time when I couldn't communicate with you so comprehensively! Which is why I want to make another list of all of the things that I don't want to forget about you at this age. 

  • You need help getting settled onto the potty but once you are on, you put your hand out and tell us "I need privacy!"  
  • You can identify most of your emotions such as: "I'm mad!" "I feel frustrated!" "I got a little scared." I secretly love the last one because it means that you are going to climb into my lap and put your head on my shoulder. 
  • You like to sing to yourself in the mornings. You are well versed in all of the common nursery rhymes but you've made up a particularly funny one called "I am Miles Morris." 
  • You love to dance but your dance is more of a bunny hop/run across the floor. 
  • You really hate Mommy's singing. When I start to sing, you yell, "Don't sing that!!" 
  • You call your sister Baby Goyl, Pretty Goyl, or Ava Goyl, which is your adorable way of saying Girl.
  • You are an amazing traveler! You have been to Canada, Germany, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Florida, California, Arizona... and you have handled each and every flight and time zone change effortlessly. I'm so proud of your resilience and spirit of adventure. 
  • You love oatmeal, pancakes, and Nutella sandwiches. Whenever you are asked what you want to eat, the answer is always "Nutella sandwich." 
  • You remember really specific details of various events but you always references them as happening "last night." 
  • You gave up the pacifier about 2 months ago and were very easy going about it. You weren't ready when Ava was born but when Daddy asked you to give it up a few months ago, you readily agreed. 
  • You love wood puzzles, IRL and on iPad. You also love your wooded train tracks and can play quietly by yourself with them. I watch you figure out their configurations with pride without you knowing it. 
  • You love to make your sister laugh. 
  • You take toys away from your sister but when you do that, you replace it with something you don't want to play with. We're working on that. 
  • You can partially dress yourself and feed yourself too but you still like me to feed you when we are at home. I know it is a bad habit that I indulge you but I also know that you'll outgrow it all too fast so I abide. 
  • You can be combative and logical. The other day when I confronted you about not napping at school you looked me straight in the eye and said, "You know what? Just don't talk about my nap, okay?" 
  • You have tried many times to fly and climb the walls like superheroes. You were not discouraged by your inability to do so. 
  • You cried during Dumbo when the elephant visited his mother in confinement. You said, "He wants his Mommy back." It was one of the most touching moments I have ever seen and I was so proud of your ability to empathize.  
  • You love going to the movies with your Daddy. 
  • You still like to be held and I love hearing, "Pick me up!" 
  • You are cautious and safe. You don't take risks like climbing things or touching hot objects. You get a very serious face on when you say, "I have to be very very careful!" 
  • You think you can see through walls. You lean in and squint extra hard and tell me that you have X-ray vision like Superman. You also think your hands emit "repulsor technology" like Iron Man. 
  • You can name every superhero and their alterego and like to play a game where we name them off and say whether or not each of them fly. 

Son, I love watching you grow into this person. It's a pretty great person. Happy 2 1/2 birthday.