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 not...you 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 good...you 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 humor...it 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 it...you 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 night...you 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

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Dear Emerson

Dear Emerson (because this year you decided to be Emerson instead of Emmie), Happy Birthday sweet girl! There is no way that 12 years ago I could have predicted what life would look like now. Actually, now is not far off from what I would have pictured. It was the in between years that I would never have guessed. Those really hard years...long before we got to the years that are supposed to be hard. But now I feel like we're finally on the other side. And I know there will probably be some more hard years (I mean we haven't even gotten to teenage years yet!) but there is a feeling of empowerment and confidence that comes with making it to the other side of really hard things. I hope yoou feel that confidence. A part of me hopes that you don't remember much of the hard years when you were having seizures and on strong medication. But another part of me hopes you remember those years and remember that you fought through and you made it to the other side and that you are stronger because of it. A year ago I could not have predicted what life would look like now for you. I had hopes and dreams but I didn't even dare to hope too much. A year ago you were getting ready to have an EEG to see if you had outgrown your seizures, you were doing virtual charter school, and you had just switched from dance to soccer. This year you are seizure free and off off all your medications, you are back in in person school and this fall you finished your 3rd season of soccer and constantly ask me when it's time to start back! Back at the beginning of the year you had your EEG and we were told that you could come off of your seizure medications. I think we held our breath for many months afterwards waiting for the other shoe to drop but I am so happy to say that you have continued to be seizure free. There has been such a difference in your processing and brain clairty now that you are off meds and not having seizures and it makes me so happy for you. At the end of this past school year we talked a lot about you staying with the virtual charter school for 6th grade. You were adament that you wanted to go to in person middle school so off you went! I was very nervous and the beginning of the school year was definitely really, really hard. But we got things figured out and now you are rocking it. You always have worked SO hard in school and in general you would work and work and work and still struggle and feel like you weren't good enough. But this year all your hard work is really paying off. I love the smile on your face when you get in the car and tell me that you made a good grade on a math test (your hardest subject), or that you got to do something extra because you were all caught up on your work. I have seen your confidence soar this year and it makes me so happy. I was so worried that you would be overwhelmed and have major struggles when you not only went back to regular school but also started middle school at the same time but you have adjusted so well! I am proud of you Emerson Jane...you can conquer anything if you put your mind to it and I know you are going to do BIG things! Just over a year ago you decided to take up soccer. You have loved it from day 1. It has definitely taken some time for my sweet little dancer to get some competitive spirit but you have finally figured out that if you want to win you can't stand back and nicely let the player from the other team have the ball..lol! You ended up on a great team with great coaches and you have learned so much and really grown as a player. I am so happy that soccer brings you joy! I don't know how far you will go with soccer or how long you will play but it has been a great activity for where you are in life right now. This year you also went skiing and really enjoyed it, went to Dollywood and confirmed that you don't like roller coasters, started babysitting some, played volleyball on a team for the first time, did summer swim team in Greenville for the first time (and learned to dive, flip turn, and you swam every event over the course of the season), and got braces. The January that Ruthie got tubes in her ears, after a whole year of ear infections and other illnesses, I told the pediatrican that it was going to be the "year of Ruthie". Well this past year was the "year of Emerson". You have absolutely thrived this year! I can't wait to see what next year has in store for you. You are such a fun kid. You are kind and happy and caring and funny and I am so thankful that I get to be your mom and walk through life with you. I love you Emerson Jane! Love, Mom

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Dear JP


Dear JP, 

Happy Birthday sweet boy! You are a big SIX year old today. I have so many emotions. My baby is not really a baby anymore. But I am loving watching you grow and change and figure out who you are. You are sweet and silly and so fun to be around. You love to help around the house and play games and snuggle and read books. You love to play outside with your friends and you love the pool. You love to build Legos and anything Star Wars (which makes your daddy so happy!). You eat all the time and you're not even a teenager yet! There were so many years when I wasn't sure you would ever outgrow being a grump but you have grown up so much this year! 

This year you started kindergarten and are going to school with Ruthie and Ellie. You don't tell me much about school but you seem to like your teacher and the friends in your class. You won't come home and tell me what you learned in school but you'll randomly tell me some interesting thing you learned in school. For instance the other day you told me something was an "ABAB pattern"...and you were right! You are starting to learn to read and you are so proud when we read a book and you find a word you know. I can't wait until you are able to read lots of books...I think you are going to love reading!

This summer you swam on swim team and this was your first year on big team. You were one of the youngest kids out there and you did amazing. You started the year barely making it to the other end of the pool and finished the year easily swimming your lap of freestyle and backstroke at the meet. I am so proud of your determination and perserverance. I know it would have been so easy to give up at some of those early meets but you made it to the end without stopping. You were worn out but so proud of yourself and we were so proud of you! I can't wait to see what next swim season looks like for you!

This year you have started doing golf at the Y. You are so excited and as a bonus you have daddy to go with you each week which just makes you so happy! 

This year we went to Disney World which you loved. The last time we went you were 2 so you don't really remember it but you had so much fun this year and you were such a great age to go! This year we went snow tubing which you loved and you also went skiing for the first time. I was so impressed with all you learned at ski school. We will go skiing again this year and I look forward to seeing you progress this year. I'm so glad you love to ski! This year we went to Mississippi to visit Uncle Ben, Aunt Ruth, and sweet cousin K and you were a trooper for the car ride. We had so much fun there and one of your favorite things was the train museum. So many trains AND Legos. This year you got to go to Washington DC to visit the Novak family. I don't know how impressed you were with the monuments and museums (you were kind of over all the walking) but you thought the Zoo was great! We went to Biltmore and you were pretty amazed by everything. We have had so many fun adventures this year. I love seeing things through your eyes as it is such a sweet perspective. I can't wait to have more fun adventures this year with you! 

You are a wonderful brother and with all those sisters it is not always an easy job to have! You have such a lovely but different relationship with each of your sisters. Ruthie is 100% your partner in crime. She is your constant sidekick and I love how close y'all are. Ellie is your buddy. She is who you hang out with when you need a little calm in the middle of the chaos. Although y'all often manage to create some chaos of your own!  Emmie is your other mother. She is who you go to when you need help or someone to read a book or a band aid and a kiss to make a hurt feel better. I have loved watching each of these relationships grow and develop. I hope you and your sisters will always be as close as you are now. 

You are also a daddy's boy through and through. You love to hang out with any guy but especially daddy. You are such a good helper .I will often find you down the street following one of the dad's in the neighborhood around as they work in the yard...and you don't mind jumping in and helping shovel mulch or any other job that needs to be done!

I love you sweet boy. I love your belly laughs and your snuggles and hugs. 

I hope you had a fabulous birthday!