Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ella Kate: One Year

Dear Ella Kate,

You'll be a year old soon, and I wanted to write this to give you a snap shot of your life and personality at this age.  We often describe you as fearless and a live-wire. You have so much energy! You've busted your lip four times in the last few weeks as you run around like a bull in a china shop.  Speaking of running, you took your first steps on Mother's Day (when you were just 9 months old) and by the time you were 11 months old you were walking 95% of the time.  You also say "bird," "dada," "ball," and "bye bye."  Today you said "dirt" for the first time, which is fitting because you love playing in the dirt and outside in general.

When you were 9 months old you also began refusing to let us feed you with a spoon.  You like to do it yourself and enjoy almost every food, especially green beans and mandarin oranges.  Despite being a good eater, you're a peanut which makes your early walking even cuter.  You've consistently been 25% for weight and 75% for height at our well visits, and I'd guess you weigh about 18-19 pounds now.

You rarely sit still unless you're in your high chair or stroller or if we're reading you a book, giving you a bottle, or holding you while standing.  You really like being held and walked around and when you're fussy that is usually the solution.  You won't sit still for a television program or to cuddle.  You love balls and enjoy playing with cars and things you can put in your mouth.

Most mornings you wake up around 6:30 or 7:00 (if I'm very lucky:) and after a bottle, you and I (or the whole family) often go on a walk to beat the heat.  You enjoy our walks, and I love your company.  You're so pleasant early in the morning.  We eat breakfast around 8:00, and you usually have fruit and eggs/waffles/zucchini bread/Organic Os.  Then you and Jackson play until your nap around 9:30.  You usually sleep really deeply, and I wake you at 11:00.  After nap we either play, read, sing songs, have a play date, or go to the Discovery Museum or zoo.  You love the Discovery Museum, especially all of the climbing things.  Your next nap is around 2:30 and lasts until almost 4:00.  Sometimes we fit in a quick trip to the museum after nap, run errands, or just play around here. Today we went to the pool, and you liked every minute of it.  

You adore our plastic kiddie pool and will almost dive into it.  You love the bath tub too but refuse to sit still because you like to plop down repeatedly and make splashes.  Needless to say you regularly have bruises on your bottom, and we generally bathe you in the kitchen sink.  Bedtime is at 7:30 or 8:00 depending on how you've napped, and you always go down easily.  You sleep with a paci and would probably keep a paci in your mouth most of the time if I would let you.

You and your brother enjoy each other so much. This morning when you and I got home from our walk Jackson met us at the door, squealing with excitement and you practically jumped out of the stroller to be with him.  Like Jackson, you have the best smile and are often so happy and grinning, especially when your dad, brother, or I come in the room or pay attention to you.  Your grin when when we tap your finger with ours and say "ding" is priceless.  And you immediately start clapping when I begin singing "If You're Happy and You Know It."  Jackson often tries to tickle you, and you giggle the entire time.  You're so full of life little girl!

Oh, how I love having you as my daughter.  I've wanted a daughter for so long, and you're an answer to many prayers.  I look forward to seeing who you become and doing life with you; our family feels so much more complete with you in it.  We're excited to celebrate you & your first year of life next month.

your mommy

p.s. I'm thankful you're mine.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


My sophomore year of college I shared an apartment with three girls.  It was a hard year for lots of reasons, but after I took the Myers Briggs test during my spring semester I discovered one of the reasons I was pretty unhappy.  The test said I was an INTP with pretty strong introversion.  My immediate reaction was that I couldn't be an introvert because I was so outgoing and social. Then I learned that introversion was more about how you get energy and that I was likely drained (rather than energized) by social interaction.  And it totally clicked why living with three girls was exhausting me.  After that year I mainly lived alone (until I got married) and absolutely loved it.

My husband Blake and I are both energized by alone time, which is definitely challenging now that we have children.  As I've reflected on parenting choices over the last two and a half years, I've thought a lot about what I want to teach my children.  One thing I emphasized a lot with Jackson was learning to enjoy his own company.  While I could care less if he's an introvert (and actually think life is easier in some ways an extrovert), I want him to be able to entertain himself and not need constant companionship--plus I knew we'd have another child, and he would need to be able to function without my constant attention.  And wow, whether it's what I've emphasized, genetic, or just by chance, Jackson loves being alone.  After two hours at the Discovery Museum yesterday, Jackson played outside by himself for almost 30 minutes--mainly sitting in a chair and surveying our yard.  He loves to "read" alone and work on his projects (moving dirt, cutting the grass, organizing various things, etc.).  This picture is what I saw when I looked out the window yesterday; Jackson just sitting in a chair.

With a second child, it's been much more challenging to give her opportunities to be alone.  I've started putting her in her crib with toys for 5-15 minutes stretches, but her brother usually ends up wanting to be with her or giving her toys and interacting with her.  When her brother isn't home she'll play alone for a few minutes but is definitely accustomed to having him around to help entertain her.  Now that she's walking 99% of  the time she's seeming more independent and exploring more on her own.  Of course, different personalities are what makes the world go round, and we love seeing their individual personalities emerge.

p.s. I'm thankful for our new family routine of taking walks in the morning.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Our Life: Shark Tank

In November of 2012 my husband and his employer decided to part ways, and Blake decided to start his own company.  That same month we found out (unexpectedly) that I was pregnant (with Ella Kate).  Blake's initial plans were with a partner (a former coworker who lives in Australia), but over the first 6 months of the company's life, the partner's wife became very ill.  Needless to say, his partner couldn't focus on their company and was consumed with helping his now almost completely blind wife relearn a lot of life's tasks. He eventually decided that a business venture wasn't possible, and Blake began moving forward completely alone.

And now over a year later, Blake has developed a website, catalog, extensive quality program, sample kits, manufacturing relationships, and 50 page plus business plan.  He had a little help with the website, and his father worked on the quality plan; but he did all the rest unassisted.  It's really been incredible to see how varied and developed his skill set is and how willing he is to learn new things.  The idea of doing what's he done makes me feel overwhelmed and exhausted, but Blake had an entrepreneurial spirit and a confidence in his ability in his industry that energizes him.

As a family it's been really weird (and sometimes very stressful) to not have income for over 18 months, but it's also been a reminder of God's goodness, grace, and provision.  We've been thankful to have so much equity in a home we've only owned 3 years as well as savings to make this process possible.  And now that we're reaching the end of those financial ropes and realizing that a capital investment is essential for Blake's company to succeed, Blake has been meeting with potential investors.  As we discuss evaluations, equity, and other common investment terms, I frequently think of the television program Shark Tank that we have watched. The financial sacrifices we've made and the sweat equity Blake has invested in his company are routinely portrayed on Shark Tank and remind me that we're not totally crazy to make some of these (calculated) risks.

And even if the investment doesn't happen, we have been so blessed to have Blake around so much more than when he had a traditional job. He's only had to travel for work a few times in the last year and has been able to spend so much time with our children, helping neighbors/friends, and developing relationships that he wouldn't have otherwise had the time/flexibility to pursue.  With that said, I'm praying and hoping that a capital investment will happen, and Blake has the opportunity to take his company to the next level. I have so much confidence in him and this venture and would love to see what happens with proper funding.

p.s. I'm thankful my husband is braver than I am!