We did a mini photo shoot back in April and I can't believe how much Alafair has already changed since then. I would have posted them sooner, but we got the final edits back on the same day we found out we had to stop breastfeeding and they kind of just got buried in the mess of life. But...I love them!! Thank you Opal + Olive Photography!
It's been a couple months since my last letter. I had hoped things would be better by now, but we're ALL struggling. Last week I got to hold you in the pink chair at bedtime (how are you the size of an actual kid already??!) and when we finished singing you burst into tears, turned your head to my chest and begged, “mama never let me go!” For a moment I just stopped breathing. Because I am shattered. From exhaustion. From poor, poor screamy baby that no one seems to be able to help. From the garage burning down and our stupid neighbor trying to stop the rebuild. But mostly from you and your valiant attempts to be brave and adaptable on a daily basis in the midst of this total chaos and stress. I just don't know where we got such an amazing kid (kid!! Again, when did you become a kid!?). I had to feed you some crap about how I know things are hard right now but they'll get better and we'll have lots of nuggles the next day… I mean really, was I fooling either of us??
And then tonight happened. I had you curl up with a blanket and your bunnies while we waited for Dada to shower so I could nurse Alafair and sing to you both. I looked down to see this:
And I shattered again (how is this even possible??). Because I've been singing, “One night I was dreaming/I had a baby/I was holding you in my arms/when I woke dear/I was mistaken/so I hung my head and cried,” to you since before you were born. It's the second verse to “You Are My Sunshine” of course, and I've always equated it with the long, long wait we had for your arrival. But now here we are, somehow, impossibly, on the fast approach to your 4th birthday, and you are a baby no more.
There you were, snuggling my foot (this is what we've been reduced to), making every attempt to avoid being weepy that you've been relegated to the floor while I hold another in my arms, AND managing to smile at me!! My God. I don't know how to manage love this fierce. I want to scoop you up and just never let go. And incorporating this new love into our lives has been harder than ANYTHING I've ever imagined. I actually know that we're doing the best we can right now. Stepping back to look at the big picture, we're mostly okay. But that doesn't stop me from feeling like I'm failing you in a million tiny ways every day. One day, a long time from now, you might understand. I hope you feel the ferocity of my love in the meantime. My sweet sweet girl, “You are my Sunshine, please don't take my Alice away.”
It's been a while since I wrote you a letter. A LOT has happened this year. We spent the first couple months in New Orleans and attended our first Mardi Gras together. It's an experience that will likely get pushed to the back of your mind in some vague childhood memory, but one I'll never forget.
While we were there we found out that your new baby sister was finally on her way (in fact, there she is in most of those pictures up there!), which set the tone for the rest of the year--unfortunately not the best tone as I was so sick the entire pregnancy. And that's the part I find myself reflecting on as we approach the New Year.
Having a sick mama who laid around all the time was really hard for you. Luckily for me, you are the World's Awesomest Kid and would read to me or play around me while I just laid on the floor waiting for Dada to come home from work. And even though I could see that it freaked you out a little bit, you put on a brave face and carried on with life.
My sweet sweet girl. One day you will know that this whole thing has been so much harder on me than you. I had hoped things would get better after Alafair was born, but good God, it's been the most difficult 3 months of my life.
I grieve the fact that I've not been my best self with you for nearly a third of your life. It. Kills. Me. I miss you and our everyday life that we had. When you say wistfully, “Mama, remember when we used to eat lunch together?” I curl up and die inside. Tonight I sang you two songs for bedtime while Dada held a screaming Alafair in the next room waiting for me to come feed her. I tried desperately not to rush our precious time together but it's so hard when there's a screaming baby. And you asked, as you do every night, when I could sleep with you again. I haven't told you the truth, that it will likely be a couple years and by then you will be well out of this sweet small child phase of life and not interested in such things. I barely made it out of your room before bursting into tears because I miss you so much. What I wouldn't give to have stayed curled up right there with you in my arms until I could feel your breathing slow and soften with sleep. What I'm saying is this adjustment is hard. When we finally regain our equilibrium one day, I hope we will look back together and say, that was the hardest time, but it now it is so much better. We will wonder how we ever had a life without our sweet new baby.
Here's to new beginnings in a New Year. And here's the last photo I took of you as an only child, two days before Alafair was born. Having you around is like having my own personal sprite.
Well, the Kiwi has officially been here for three weeks today, and we JUST recently got our maternity photos back that we had shot in August. Without bothering to go into details about why it took nearly 8 weeks to get some photos, let's just say, we REALLY miss Jenna Westbrook Photography!! Maybe for the next big shoot, we'll just have to fly her up here.
This has been a big year with lots of stuff that should be posted before this, but maybe I'll get to it later. Right now I'm going to talk about how Andy and I made it all the way to our ALUMINUM Anniversary!!!!
Ten married years and all we get is a La Croix?!
The Kiwi is due 2 days before our actual anniversary in October so we decided to celebrate early this year with a little family trip up to The Shore Lodge in McCall. Way back in March we had planned to renew our vows down on the beach in Mexico but that got cancelled because of the risk of zika. This was another opportunity to get fancy on a beach. The only problem now was that there was no way that Mexico wedding dress was going to fit anymore...
Alice had decided she was going to be in our McCall Wedding too, and was planning her own vows. "I love curtains and light bulbs."
Mom sewed a giant stretchy panel in the back of my dress, we bought some gorgeous flowers from a neighbor, procured carrot cake, and jumped in the car.
It turned out to be a really crowded beach though. And I turned out to be a really emotionally unstable pregnant woman. After having a meltdown about wearing a white floufy dress in front of too many total strangers (let's be clear--Alice was NOT the one melting down), we decided to forego the vow renewals and just eat the cake. It should probably just be a general rule to never travel with a pregnant woman anywhere unless you are also bringing cake.
We ended up having a nice getaway and when we returned found a mostly empty frisbee golf course right here in town where we could hold our little ceremony. As long as we kept an eye out for the occasional stray flying frisbee, all was good.
And dare I say, I found the whole thing even more meaningful than I did on our actual wedding day. I guess that's how it's supposed to go. Photos of the trip and the ceremony below!
Just a short followup to our Target Meltdown post from earlier this summer. Without totally jinxing myself, I think it's only fair to admit that we've since learned of some extenuating circumstances.
Sometime this spring your doctor recommended starting you on Flonase nasal spray to help with your allergies and constant skin rashes. We did it for about two and a half months before something finally clicked in my brain and I started to suspect just what was going on.
During that time, you STOPPED eating. This by itself was HUGE. You are the world's best eater. You LOVE food. We've worked so hard at cultivating good eating habits and then one day, BOOM, it was all gone. I couldn't believe what was happening. I tried everything I could think of to get us back on track, to no avail. And the worst part was that everyone I talked to about it kept telling me that it was typical of a 3 year old.
Meanwhile some other weird stuff was going on, but again...maybe you are just 3? Lots of tantrums (for you), and it was taking HOURS for you to fall asleep at night. Then the nights started to get even worse. We would go to bed and you'd constantly kick your legs. I Googled "can toddlers have restless leg syndrome?" and went down a rabbit hole of WEIRD.
The short of this story is that I discovered Flonase is a steroid with lots of officially undocumented side effects, such as restless leg, behavioral changes in children, and....a sort of soapy sour taste in your mouth! WHA....???!!!!!
Within days of quitting, everything started to go back to normal, including your awesome eating habits. And (knock on wood) you haven't had another tantrum since. The only drawback is I haven't figured out a better treatment for your allergies, so for now, you suffer. :(
Wow. Today was A Day. You are profoundly 3 years old. It is simultaneously an utter delight and a train wreck. There is no middle ground for you these days. Luckily, the tantrums are usually easy to predict (tired, hungry, and have been on your best behavior for days and just can't take it any more) and they don't happen every day. Today we pushed too far though and both paid the price in Target.
I probably shouldn't post these pictures, but... I'm thinking that you seeing these in the future can't possibly be any more embarrassing than it was today as I stood in the bathroom aisle patiently (at least outwardly) waiting while you kicked and screamed for nearly TWENTY WHOLE MINUTES. That sounds like I'm keeping score, but I'm not. I felt genuinely bad for you. We've had company here, upsetting our routine, for weeks and you just rolled with it. You fell down this morning HARD and scraped both your hands, knees, and elbow. There's a new baby on the horizon and you don't know why, but you are STRESSED. I get it. I would have loved to scoop you up and hold you tight, but you were not interested.
We both thought you were finally calmed down after that and tried to move on with life, but we were wrong and soon you were at it again. This time, I decided to cut our loses and leave, which involved you kicking and screaming your way to the front of the store, through the checkout line, and across the parking lot.* Total strangers were mercifully kind to me and offered sympathy and encouragement. THANK YOU, KIND STRANGERS. THANK YOU.
We spent another 20 or so minutes burning out the fire in the parking lot.
Then, while sitting on the curb in the 90 degree heat, you crawled into my lap and asked me to sing. We both needed the love at that point.
Here's the thing. When we finally made it home and I burst into tears at lunch, you said, "Do you need Apice, Mama? Apice knows your sorrows." You are so kind and I love you so much.
And because I'm emotionally spent and 6 months pregnant in the height of summer, I fed you leftover chocolate chip pancakes (which you insisted on dipping ketchup), mac and cheese, and Lays potato chips for dinner. We both survived the day though, so I'm calling it a win.
*Why not just abandon the cart and run, mama? Because at this point leaving without my stuff would have meant suffering for nothing!
Alice!!! This year was SOOOOOO fast. And huge. Right after your 1st birthday, we packed up and moved from your birth town to what we hope will become your new hometown. I really wanted to minimize the impact of the move on you, so we packed up your room the day before we left with the intention of unpacking it pretty much immediately upon arrival. That's not how it worked out though, and we pretty much didn't get to see most of your things again until nearly 6 months later in December! I felt a little bad, but there was nothing to be done about it. The good part was that you were super excited when we finally did get everything set up and you even recognized a bunch of the art that had been on your walls in Cheyenne!
It's been a big year of changes and transition for all of us. We moved to Idaho! We lived downstairs for 6 months, then we moved upstairs! We stopped nursing in December (around 20 months). Dada got laid off from STP and will be starting his own job this coming summer (wahoo!!!! and YIKES!!!!).
Lots of people came to stay and visit. I think you've found this a bit confusing, but you're always so happy to see everyone (and mama is devastated when they leave). We spent the summer riding bikes around our new neighborhood, working on all of the huge house projects, and playing in the water at Quinn's Pond. You even rode on the paddle board with mama! You started taking swimming lessons with mama at the YMCA and baby French class at Mme. Veronica's house. You LOVE to go swimming, and you LOVE French class.
Your other biggest love right now is other kids! You get SOOOOOO excited to see kids wherever we go, which is why it's really great that you'll be starting preschool in the fall. It will be two more chances per week to hang out with kids ("There's some little tiny kids!!!!!). You call lots of things "little tiny" regardless of their size.
You are whip smart. I mean, seriously. You are probably smarter than mama and dada combined (and that's saying something because your dada is BRILLIANT). It's likely only a matter of weeks before you are doing calculus just for fun. I joke, but it is so astounding to watch you absorb literally everything you are taught. Not a single day goes by that you don't manage to say something that completely amazes us. You are extremely observant ("LOOK AT THAT!! MAMA NEW SHIRT!!!!), you are developing your own little sense of humor (pinecones = "tree poop"), you are trying out your own opinions ("NO LIKE THAT!"), and you are exercising your tiny will power to its fullest extent (and NOW mama finally understands what everyone was talking about when they said parenting is so hard).
Now that you are turning into your own tiny person, mama is not allowed to just "nuggle" you whenever she wants ("OFF MAMA!!!). This makes mama sad, BUT in return if I ask you for a hug, you come running, leap into my arms and hug me with your entire body. I have to say, this is pretty great. Doubtless that this will be one thing I'll carry with me forever long after you've adopted more independence and attitude.
Every morning you come into the bathroom with mama and we brush our teeth together, do our hairs, and then look in the mirror so mama can ask you, "Who's so cute?!"
And you respond, "ALICE SO CUTE!!!"
"Who's so smart?" "ALICE SO 'MART!!!"
"Who's so kind?" "ALICE SO KIND!!!"
"Who's so smart and kind?" "ALICE SO 'MART AND KIND!!!"
I can't wrap my brain around the fact that you've already traveled with us around the sun TWO WHOLE TIMES. Surely, the Earth's orbit is speeding up on a daily basis. I love you, Alice Safa Svilar Finley Newlin Kumquat Sweet Babu Sugar Bean AlicitaYou'reSoSweeta "mart" Girl.
P.S. I made you this video. <3
Ian and Jenna came to visit a few weekends ago and Jenna was nice enough to bring her camera (okay, I begged her). We had a hard time getting the weather and the nap schedules to line up, but managed to sneak outside between breaks in the rain for a quick shoot. Apice the Bunny decided to join us this time, and we got some great shots with our other friends from Salt Lake, Luke and Alan. (Jenna got some GREAT family photos of them too, but I'll leave those for Brandon and Jamie to post if they want.) I probably should have culled these more, but as usual, I just love them ALL.
Photos by Jenna Westbrook Photography
Who are we kidding? There's no way this is actually going to get updated daily.