Thursday, September 21, 2023

Dear JP

Dear JP, 
 Happy Birthday sweet boy! It's hard to believe that you are EIGHT years old. You are SO much fun and our family wouldn't be complete without you! You keep us laughing with your dancing, funny jokes and silly facial expressions. You love to make everyone around you laugh and I love that about you. I hope that as you grow up you continue to look for ways to entertain others and work to bring happiness to your little corner of the world.
 This year you've spent a lot of time hanging with your neighborhood buddies. You have your little group of boys and y'all are always up to something! You love to play any kind of sport. Pickleball is one of your favorites right now but you also love football, basketball, swimming, and kickball. You've made some great friends at school too. I love seeing you at lunch interacting with your friends. They are a really sweet group of kids which makes me so happy. Speaking of school, you are doing great. You love your teacher and classmates. You are VERY strong in math and your reading has really come a long way in the last year. Your teachers always tell me how sweet you are and how good you are in class. This year you decided to run for student council class representative and won. I am so excited for you to have this experience and I hope you love it but most of all I am so proud of your bravery. I know you were a bit nervous to stand in front of your class and read your speech but you did it! And to top it off you're getting to do something that your sisters never did...and when you're the youngest of 4 this is a rare feat. 
 For years and years you were our grumpy kid and then one day you weren't. I'm real glad you outgrew that! You are pretty easy going now as long as you are fed! You do love to eat and are hungry ALL the time. When you get hungry you tend towards the dramatic side. That's how we know it's time for you to eat again. 
 JP, you are my sweet little helper. You love to help me in the kitchen, you will help me clean, you love to help daddy in the yard, you are always looking for ways to serve others and I am so thankful for your servant's heart. You have started taking on some neighborhood "jobs"...watering plants and collecting mail when neighbors go out of town. You take your responsiblities seriously and you have big plans for when you're old enough to cut grass! 
You spend most of your days running around in athletic shorts and tshirts wihtout a care about what you look like. But every now and then you have an occasion where you feel the need to get dressed up. You will painstakingly pick out an outfit, gel your hair, and put on some cologne. It is absolutely adorable to see. And I love the days where you try to pick out an outfit that matches daddy's. I love the way you look up to him and want to be like him and I hope you keep looking up to him and trying to be like him! 
I get a kick out of watching you with your sisters. Each relationship is different. Ruthie is your partner in crime. I'm pretty sure that when y'all are teenagers the two of you will be responsible for a quite a few of my gray hairs. When you're not up to shenannigans you can also be found snuggled in a chair reading a book or talking to each other. Emerson is your other mother. She'll snuggle you, read to you, and is happy to take you under her wing. Ellie is a little of both. She's where you turn when you need a quieter playmate but she's also been known to come up with some pretty elaborate, fun adventures. You have such a great friendship wiht each of your sisters and I am so thankful for how close y'all are (especially since you were absolutely terrified of them for the first few months of your life!).
 I have loved watching you grow and change this year. You are an absolute delight and I can't wait to see how you grow over the next year! 
 Love, Mom

Friday, July 14, 2023

Dear Ellie

Dear Ellie, Happy 12th birthday sweet girl! Oh how I have loved watching you this year. You started middle school, finally made it back on stage, made new friends, earned a new nickname, and made us laugh more times than I can count. You are sweet and sassy and tiny and strong and I love every aspect of the person you are becoming. This year you started middle school and of course took theater as an elective and then of course you joined drama club and then tried out for the school play, Dear Edwina Jr. And of course you made it. And we got to see you light up the stage once again after 3 years of not being in a show. And it did my mama heart good to see you sparkle. You had a grueling rehearsal schedule and every day you came home so excited to be doing what you loved with other kids who loved it as much as you. You also finally found a theater class in Greenville that you liked so I'm excited to see where that takes you over the next few years. I feel that one of the things that gives me the most joy as a parent is to see my children doing things that bring them immense joy. This year you started middle school. It wasn't always easy as friendships changed and you also had to juggle having multiple teachers and organization is not your strong suit but you handled it. You tried out playing an instrument (viola) and decided that wasn't really your thing but I loved that you gave it a shot, stuck with it through hte year and then we'll try something different next year. Life is all about trying new things and figuring out what works for you. I love that you still love to read. I have a whole album of pictures of you reading in various places. You have no problem finding a quiet corner and pulling your book out in the middle of a party. It's who you are and as an avid reader myself I see no problem with this! I love that reading is where you go when you need a breather. You are our introvert and often just need a short break from a crowd. You need a minute to escape into a world of your imagination. I also love that even as avid a reader as you are you still want me to read a book to you at night. As soon as we finish one book you ask me what we're reading next. It takes us about 10x longer to read them together than it would take for you to read them on your own but you never read ahead and you never complain. I love that I get to have that time with just you and I think you love it too. You are our entertainer. I just never know what is going to come out of your mouth! You usually have some witty comment and I try to be close enough to you to hear it! You have made some wonderful friends in Greenville but Lucy, in Columbia, is still your best friend. I love that y'all can go weeks without talking and then spend hours on facetime talking and laughing. You earned a new nickname this year, Banana Slug. We were looking through the bin of summer clothes and you rejected a pair of shorts because, and I quote you, "I can only think of 2 words when I see those shorts: banana slug." Who even says that?? It was such an Ellie comment and so we now loving refer to you as Banana Slug! You are such a good sister. I have always loved the way that you just slid right into your place in the family. I love that Emerson and you complement each other so well. You understand each other and the needs that each one of you has. From the time you were just a tiny thing you were always willing to let her tell you what to do...until you weren't. And she knew that when you put your foot down you meant it and that was that. You are my child that I rarely find playing with all your siblings together but am more likely to find having one on one time with someone. I am so thankful for the relationship that you have with each of your siblings and I love to see how different those relationships are but they all work and are all beautiful. I can not wait to see what this year has in store for you. You are hoping you will grow (you're a little bitter that Ruthie can wear the same size clothes as you) but I do love that you are my tiny little one. I hope that no matter what you will be happy and content and have many fun adventures and opportunities. I love to see your excitment over little things and I hope you always find happiness in the small things in life. I love you my Ellie Belly, Banana Slug! Love, Mom

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Dear Ruthie

Oh my sweet, fiesty Roo Roo. Happy 9th Birthday! Its hard to believe that 9 years ago I held you in my arms for the first time. One of the first thing I noticed about you was the sparkle in your eye. I knew then that you would give me a run for my money but that you would also bring lots of FUN to our lives. One of my favorite memories is bringing you home from the hospital, putting your carrier down on the floor, and watching your eyes light up when you saw your sisters. From that day on you wanted nothing more than to be a part of whatever they were doing. And it didn't take long before you wanted to be in charge of whatever they were doing! When JP was born you happily stepped out of your role as baby of the family and into your role of big sister. I love watching the relationship you have with each of your siblings. You and Emmie clash the most (there seems to be discrepency about who is the oldest and therefore in charge of everyone) but over this past year you have grown a lot closer. You and Ellie have always gotten along well and I love that y'all will play calmly together for hours. You and JP are incredibly close and always have been. I feel like y'all are always cooking up some kind of mischief! This year was a great year for you. You learned how to ski and really enjoyed it. This year you did summer swim team, finally mastered breastroke, and made it to championships and classics. You are definitley a fierce competitor and love to win. This year you played soccer for the first time and really enjoyed it. This year, after many, many nights of crying you stopped sucking on your fingers. It was way past time but I do feel like that was the last "baby" thing you had and I miss seeing my little curly headed baby with her fingers in her mouth. We went to Dollywood quite a number of times this yera and you rode your first roller coaster. You weren't a huge fan of it but you usually rode it once each time we went. We also went to Dollywood water park and you were the only one who would go with me on the slide with the really big drop. This year you wore your penguin hat more days then sure do love that hat! You still drag your nasty pillow around everywhere you go and never go to bed without it. You love legos, baby dolls, calico critters, squishmellows, games, roller skating, and ART. You have turned into quite the little artist and I love seeing your creativity! This year you did an oral challenge for shellfish and apparently you aren't actually allergic...yay! (However you are most deifinitely allergic to cats.) You are fearless most of the time (I cringe every time I see you roller skating). This year you finished 2nd grade and started 3rd grade and you are absolutely thriving at school. You have made a really strong group of friends at and I am so thankful for the sweet friendships you have. I love that you have friends who will be your biggest cheerleaders and also aren't afraid to call you out if you step out of line (and of course you're not afraid to call them out either). I know with these friends by your side you will always be ok! Ruthie you have a BIG personality. You are very determined and you pretty much always acoomplish whatever you put your mind to. And if its soemthing you don't want to do then its probably not going to happen until you decide to do it. I know that this determination will serve you well as you grow older but it can make for some rough moments when you're a kid. I can't wait to see what you can accomplish when you use your powers for will do BIG things! You are a "no holds barred" kid. You say what you think and have no problem calling people out. You say what is on your mind with no regrets. You feel BIG emotions about everything and you generally let us know exactly what you're feeling. When you're happy you give HUGE hugs. When you worry you become obsessive with your worries. When you're mad you can give a cold shoulder that a teenager would be proud of. You are fiercely independent and you want to do everything yourself. One of your favorite sayings is "Ruthie can handle it. Ruthie doesn't need help." Sweet girl, I am so happy that I get to be your mom. I love watching you grow into your big personality. I love watching your achievements and I love seeing you work hard to meet your goals. I love your determination. I love the sweet snuggles I will occasionally get and I treasure the moments when you want to crawl in my lap and just sit with me. I can't wait to see what this next year brings for you Ruthie Roo!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Dear Emerson

Dear Emerson Jane, Happy Birthday sweet girl! You are 13 years old today. An official teenager! It feels like just yesterday we brought you home from the hospital while also feeling like you have been part of our lives forever. This has been a great year for you. You finished 6th grader and started 7th grade. You became a pretty good skiier and love skiing. You did summer swim and had a great season. You decided to stop playing soccer and take up year round swimming. You discovered that you like roller coasters. You went to church camp for a week. You became a member of our church, which brought us great joy. You got round 1 of braces off. You grew many inches in height and your feet grew about 3 sizes seemingly overnight. You have been off seizures meds for almost two years, something we had come to peace with never happening. This year you have become much more independent with your school work. Because of your adhd, things that require lots of executive functioning skills (like school) are more challenging. But you have worked hard to figure out what strategies work best for you. After so many hard, hard years where everyday felt like a struggle I have loved watching you thrive this past year. One of the things I see in you that makes me so proud is your persistence and dedication. You are an incredibly hard worker. Because of your learning disabilites you have to work so much harder in math than most kids your age. Because of your seizures and the medication you were on you had to work so much harder to focus and you often had gaps in your learning. But I watch you sit and work and try so hard and rarely complain about all the extra time it takes you. I would never wish struggles in school on anyone but I love how it has shaped you into someone who truly understands what it means to work hard. Even when your grades don't reflect all the hard work you put in you STILL work hard. I have seen the defeat and dissapointment in your eyes and you have a moment and then continue to work. You generally don't get down on yourself when you're not the best at something but you celebrate the small victories and you work harder. And people notice. In fact just today your swim coach pulled me aside and told you what a great kid you are to coach and what a hard worker you are. Your teachers at school tell me often that you are such a hard worker. I hope that as you grow older you see the beauty that has come out of the hard. When we welcomed you into the world thirteen years ago we never dreamed what the next thirteen years would hold for you. There have been big challenges and big joy. We have cried with broken hearts and we have cried tears of laughter. You have faced things that I never would have wished on anyone and you have come out stronger. We are incredibly proud of the person you are. You are kind and caring. You are funny and sensitive. You are a helper. You love people, all people, and you love to hear their stories and you have a gift for making them feel heard. You are an incredibly hard worker. I don't know what you will do with your life (right now you are between a teacher and a lawyer) but I know whatever you do you will touch the lives of those around you. I love watching you grow up. I love watching you figure out who you are and who you want to be. You are growing into a person I hope you love and are proud of. I hope as we start the teenage years that you remember that God made you and thinks you are beautiful and He loves you for you and He is bigger than all your problems and worries. I can't wait to see what this year holds for you Emmie J! Love, Mom

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Dear JP

Dear JP, Happy Birthday my sweet SEVEN year old! Oh how much you have changed over the years. You were our very best surprise. Our surprise baby and our surprise boy (I was pretty confident you were a boy but Daddy was sure you were going to be another girl). You were definitely not the easisest baby and you were quite the grumpy toddler. But in the last few years you have really come into your own. You are a born entertainer. You love to be silly and you say the funniest things and make us laugh all the time! You love to dance and you are pretty chill under pressure. We always laugh at you during swim meets because everyone else is nervous and you're sitting behind the block with your feet propped up chatting with a friend or you're standing behind the block dancing. JP we are SO thankful that you are part of our family. You truly complete us. Also, can you imagine if Ruthie was the baby of the family and didn't have anyone to boss around?? This year you showed off some great skiing skills and we can't wait to see how you will improve this winter, you had another year of swim team which you rocked, you finished kindergarten and started first grade, you learned to read, we took many trips to Dollywood amusement park and the water park. You learned to roller skate. You played on your first church basketball team which you loved. You did all this and so much more! This year I have loved watching you make friends. You have found some great guy buddies in our neighborhood and at school and I love watching these friendships grow. You love any kind of physical activity and being outside, you love using your tool set to build things, you love Dog Man books and all things Star Wars, you love to help out around the house, you love to cook (and eat), you love to play card games and board games. JP you have brought us so much joy. I hope you never lose your sense of will take you far in life. You are sweet and funny and the best little snuggler and I am so thankful that I am your mom! Happy Birthday JP! Love, Mom

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Dear Ellie

Dear Ellie, Happy Birthday sweet Ellie Belly! It is hard to belive you are ELEVEN today! Eleven years ago you were a perfect addition to our family. You bring us so much joy every day. You are such a beautiful part of our family and you are so fiercly your own person. You are my introvert. You can often be found playing or reading alone when everyone else is with a group of friends. You love to read. You don't go anywhere without a book and I've learned not to ask you what your book is about unless I have at least 20 minutes to listen to a full synopsis of the book! I hope you always love books as much as you do now. (And I'm so glad you got my love of reading.) You love the ocean and the pool and waterparks...pretty much anything involving water! You did swim team again this summer and loved it (and made it through the season without breaking a bone...always a plus). This summer you discovered a talent for butterfly and learned that you were also pretty good at IM! This year you tried out soccer and enjoyed had a sweet team and a great coach. You went back to in person school this year which you were SO excited about. Virtual was not your thing. You made lots of friends and loved being back in a classroom. I am so glad you were able to have a pretty normal 5th grade year. It's hard to believe that in just 1 month you, my teeny tiny Ellie, will be starting middle school! I hope you have a wonderful first year of middle school. I know it will be a big adjustment for you but you are so sweet and funny and I hope you will make some wonderful friends! This year you became a member of our church. I was so proud of you and happy for you! You have missed doing theater since we left Columbia. You have tried a few classes here but haven't really loved them. This year we went to watch your BFF Lucy in a show and it made you miss theater even more. So in a few weeks you are trying out for a show in Greenville. You have been too nervous to try out for a show but you are finally ready and I am so excited for you! You also signed up for theater class this as one of your related arts classes at school and I hope you will be able to do theater club at school too. I can't wait to see you light up the stage again! This year we did so many fun things. We went to dollywood and the dollywood water park. We went skiing (you like the big hills but need some further instruction when it comes to slowing down!) and snow tubing. We went to the beach. You spent countless hours with neighborhood friends and school friends. You got to visit Lucy in Columbia a few times. You enjoyed each adventure we had and I loved getting to experience all the adventures with you! Ellie your smile lights up a room. You are a sweet sister and love to spend time with your siblings...except at always choose to sleep alone in your room. You are beautiful and kind and a joy to be with. I can't wait to see what adventures come your way this next year! I love you Ellison Rachel! Love, Mom

Monday, December 27, 2021

Happy Birthday Ruthie

Dear Ruthie, Oh my sweet Ruthie. We had no clue how much our lives would change when you were born. You have always had a sparkle in your eye. You've always wanted nothing more than to be a part of whatever your big sisters are doing. You are a ball of energy. You are a 3rd born who thinks she's a 1st born. You have always been tiny but you have a huge personality. You have zero filter. You are rough and tumble. You aren't scared of much but when you are worried about something you commit to being 100% terrified which always throws me for a loop because its so out of character for you. You are a wonderful big sister and you are pretty sure you aren't a "little" sister. You love roller skating and baby dolls and basketball and being girly. You have strong opinions and aren't afraid to voice them. You are an amazing advocate for yourself. You are fiesty and snuggly. You give big hugs when you're happy (and we're all really glad you no longer bite people when you're happy!). You fall apart when you're tired. You still suck 2 of the fingers on your left hand and drag "pillow" around everywhere you go. You like to be in charge. You love arts and crafts. You are capable of handling whatever problem arises. You are fiercly independent. You are perfectly you and I wouldn't want you to be any other way. This year you finished virtual school and went back to brick and mortar. You got glasses and your reading skills took off! I am so glad you love to read now. You have loved being back in regular school. You have made some sweet friends and really like your teacher. This year you were on big swim team for the first time (you were on mini team when we were in Columbia) and you rocked it! I was so proud of all that you learned this year. You made some great friends and worked so hard on your strokes. This year you got to go to Roper Mountain camp for the first time. You did the farm camp and had so much fun. This year we learned you were allergic to cats and shellfish. We were all shocked by the shellfish allergy. When you had a reaction we thought it was an environmental allergy you were reacting to but you were positive it was the shrimp. Because apparently you had issues with shrimp for a while so you just stopped eating it. Because Ruthie can handle it by herself! As of now you have been in OIT maintenance for your peanut allergy for 2.5 years and I am so proud of how well you handle your daily dosing and I also love how much you love all things peanut/peanut butter! This year you went skiing for the first time and loved it. You are looking forward to going again this year. We also went to the beach, Dollywood, and Washington DC. Ruthie I absolutely love you and your mix of sweet and fiesty. You are a force to be reckoned with. You are an incredible blessing in our lives and I am so thankful that I get to be your mom and watch you every step of your journey. I can't wait to see where life takes you! Love, Mom