For the last few weeks I have found myself scrolling through old photos of you – from when you were a baby to right before you became a big sister. It is amazing the way I have changed my view of you. I was looking at a photo of you sound asleep in your car seat just one month before Henry arrived. I see you in this picture and think of you as my baby, my one and only. Then I flip to a photo of you after Henry’s birth. I see you as a big sister. A tiny adult. I often catch myself expecting you to be able to do things – things that a two year old shouldn’t (and can’t) do. I have to keep reminding myself that you are still my little girl. I don’t know why I see this huge divide between little baby and big girl. I just want to bundle you up and carry you around in my arms forever. It makes me sad to think that (without realizing it) I expect more from you. I don’t want you to grow up. I don’t want to have expectations for you to fulfill. You are only two and a half. You are growing too fast and wanting to be too independent. I am noticing this now more than ever. It makes me emotional just thinking about it. You are my world, Olive.
Before bed you are always so eager to read every single book on your shelf. You flip through the pages, making up your own stories, or trying to recite the stories as we told them to you. Your eyes are so bright and full of knowledge. I have been letting you have your story time. I’m not sure it is the greatest idea if we want a consistent bedtime, but I would rather you look through all your books and share your imagination with us rather than sitting in front of the TV. I find myself kissing your forehead and tip-toing out of the room as you tell us about how hungry that caterpillar really was. Daddy and I lie in bed and listen to you recount just how many strawberries he ate through. Eventually your voice softens and you drift away to your sweet dreamland. I wait until I know you are asleep, and then tip-toe back into your room to collect all your books. Often they are scattered from one end of your bed to the other, on top of you, underneath your pillows, and in your hands. I tidy them up as best I can without waking you. I love this time. I could stare at sleeping Olive for hours. You are so peaceful, so calm, so beautiful. When you are asleep, you remind me of newborn Olive. This is when you still look like my little baby. That little baby who could fit snug into one arm… That baby who was dependent on everyone around her… That little baby who I can’t believe is so big now. I quietly switch off you light, tuck you in tight, give you one last protective kiss on the forehead and say my quick little prayer for you… The one I have been saying since you were a baby. “Please keep her happy, healthy, and safe. Please let her dreams be sweet and full of love”.
And then you wake up the next morning. I hear the quiet callings “Momma! Mommmmma! Momma!” I have learned that I have to let you fully wake before I make my entrance. This makes the difference between a happy-easy-morning and a messy-difficult-to-get-anything-done-morning. I let you call me for a little while until I hear the desperate loud “MOMMA!” cry. This is the signal that you are ready to see Henry. I go over to your room. You point to the window and say “Look! Its light outside. That means wake up”! We have been talking a lot of about the sun and the moon. You are very intrigued by the idea of dark and light. You know that when it is dark out, it is sleepy time, and when it is light out, it is time to get up. You love the moon, just like your Momma. When I was younger, Popa and I used to lie out under the stars, searching for the big dipper and Orion’s Belt. We used to look at the moon through my telescope and time the International Space Station as it zipped across the sky. Now, from time to time, I catch you and daddy lying on the lawn looking up at the twinkle stars. As much as I want to join you, I let you and Daddy have your time. I know how special this was for me when I was little. You point, and giggle, and sing “twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder up so high. Like a diamond in the sky…” Every night you have to say hello to the moon. If we are somewhere at night, you watch the moon “follow us home”. You run over to the fence, gaze up to the sky, and yell “HI MOON” as loud as you can. Please always remember to stay curious, ask questions, and take moments to appreciate our beautiful universe.
It was time for Halloween round 3! This year you decided you wanted to be a flamingo! You were the cutest flamingo I have ever seen! I made you your wings and hat and decked you out in full-on pink. You were so proud. I taught you how to stand like a flamingo. Whenever we asked to see, you raised your wings and lifted your right leg as far as you could! On Halloween night we had Olive the flamingo and Henry the “Oh Henry Bar” in our car. We started in Elgin with G and Popa. We went to visit Mike and Darlene and Uncle Terry. Everyone thought you were a hoot. You started to really get in to it this year. “Trick or Treat”! You yelled as we walked up to G and Popa’s house. G had a great big basket full of treats. Your eyes grew wide as you filled your bag to the brim with everything in sight (moose poop was your number 1 priority). We convinced you to leave a few things behind (but not much). Next we visited Grandma, Grandpa and Kara! You showed them your flamingo pose while they snapchatted with Auntie Jamie and Auntie ReRe, and then you once again filled your bag as full as it would get. On the way out the door you asked for blueberries so Grandma gave you a big container to take for our ride in to town. This Halloween we Trick or Treated at more houses than we had in the past. The weather was perfect for a walk around the block so we took our time – stopping to say hello to friends and to show off our costumes. You two were the hit of the town! You had so much fun this Halloween. So much so, you forgot all about your candy! I don’t think you ate a single one! (You guessed it – Daddy polished it off for you again)!
Some other notable things from this month:
We still do a lot of baking together. As soon as I pull out the flour bucket, you run and grab your stool and ask to get “uppy on the counter”. You help me measure and pour and mix. One night as we were making chocolate chip cookies we had a full conversation. Up until now, we had conversations, but nothing like this. You started the conversation by asking “How was your day, Momma?” I looked at you and smiled as I told you about what I did while you were at Sara’s. I asked you about your day. We joked. We laughed. We learned. We made a mess. After I put the cookies in the oven, I looked at you and started to cry. Every so often I find myself doing this. I’m not sad. I am amazed at the little girl you are becoming. You continue to learn new things every day, and you try as hard as you can to communicate these things to us. You have gone from on word answers to full sentences – even jokes and questions back to us. I’m just so proud of you (and when I say that, you squint your eyes and say in a high pitched voice “No Momma! I’m so proud of you!)
As I look back over the letters I’ve written you in the past, I feel like there’s a theme of reassurance, joy, and calm in the gifts you give me as your mother. You seem to always make my life easier exactly when I need it most. My heart is always yours, and it will always be yours, in every world, in every life, in every drawing you make, in every dream you have.