Monday, December 07, 2020

Sloan is Two!!

Dear Sloan,

Sweet girl, you are actually 25 months now, and I am so glad to finally be writing this snapshot of what you’re like at this age. You are remarkably physical and so adept at climbing, scooting, running, and kicking a soccer ball. This summer I had a child at the park run over and exclaim in fear “Your baby is climbing the ladder,” and I replied “I know! That’s her 100th time.”  You love to be challenged physically and are brave and fearless.  This summer you would jump straight into the pool and run straight into the waves. We let the waves knock you down once, hoping it would deter you, but you just laughed and carried on.

Daddy took you and Ella Kate to Coolidge Park recently, and he was amazed by how far up a tree you could climb.  You love big slides, and the park really is one of your happy places.  You particularly like it when Ella Kate pushes you in the big kid swings because she does an “underdog” and pushes you entirely too high. The first time she did it, I was so afraid, and you smiled and laughed so big, enjoying every minute. Speaking of laughing, your laugh is amazing. It is one of the best things about you, and it seems to come from you so deeply inside of you. Ella Kate is a pro at getting you to laugh.

Being outdoors is your preference, and you absolutely loved your first trip to Woodland. Your favorite part may have been the 4-wheeler rides.  You also get to ride in the bicycle trailer Daddy bought, and as long as the rides aren’t too long, you really enjoy that too. You got a Strider balance bike for your birthday, and you are enjoying it. You’ve been riding a scooter since you were about 14 months old, and you’re so good at it.

You like knocking down towers that we create and you laugh every time.  You have a few favorite books, and you used to cry when Brown Bear Brown Bear would end. Now you’ll bring me a favorite book and pat where you want to me to sit down. You also will say “doh” and get a cutting board/mat and head to the table when you want to do Play Doh.

You love Bertha “May” your Mother’s Day Out teacher for the last year, and now you even run for the door to head to MDO saying “May, May.”  Bertha May is so sweet, and I am so very thankful you enjoy MDO so much.  Your friend and our neighbor Isla is in your class, and in fact, her name was one of your first words ever.

You’re saying a few phrases now, and it’s so fun to hear. Ella Kate was upset one day and you came 
over to her, patted her back, and asked over and over “What happened?”  Another morning Daddy came into your room alone to get you out of your crib, and you said “Where’s Bubba?” Bubba is your nickname for Jackson, but you can now say Jackson very clearly. In fact, a few weeks ago you were on the tire swing and you yelled very loudly across the entire park “Jackson! Ella Kate!” as if you were summoning them.  You love it when Jackson takes you upstairs to his room or when he takes you outside.

You are a wonderful sleeper, and we usually get you out of your crib around 7-7:15. If you wake earlier, you’re content to be in your crib and “talk” until we get you. You sleep in a sleep sack and with your puppy or bunny, and you love to suck your thumb. Remarkably, you still only suck it when you have a lovey or are in the carseat for a while. You nap around 1:30 until I wake you up at 3:30. You love your nap sleep, but when you were younger we learned that you would nap as much as we let you and then want to sing and talk in the middle of the night.  Bedtime is at 8:00. We sing a song to you every night (Dear Jesus) and give you your lovey, and you’re always happy to go to bed.

This last year was pretty eventful for you with chronic ear infections, including an ear infection that was staph and required two oral antibiotic and two days of shots. I am so glad we were able to get tubes for you and that since then you've barely been sick at all. 

You are a pretty good eater and seem to like grazing, and when you’re finished at the dinner table, you start throwing your food. Right now, you love to eat pouches with fruit and veggies, chicken noodle soup, homemade energy balls, your morning “bar” (Nutrigrain bar), smoothies, and yogurt.

Your personality is really starting to shine, and it is delightful to see. You like having my lap all to yourself and often push your siblings as hard as you can to move them out.  With the pandemic that began last March, you have had so many changes. You were used to having me all to yourself during the school day, and then suddenly Jackson and Ella Kate were home all the time (and never leaving) and then needing constant help with virtual school (and on their Ipads which you wish you badly you could have but you aren’t allowed to touch).  I’m sure you also missed our playdates and trips to the parks.  With you only being one year old at the time, it was beyond your understanding.  When we finally broke strict quarantine and began playing outside with the Clarks, you entire face lit up with excitement. It was so precious to see.  You also began to love to be held by Laurahelen and wanted her attention as much as possible.

Although the pandemic is still ongoing, we were able to celebrate your second birthday with a few friends and with some separate family gatherings and you enjoyed all the sweets. You were so precious trying to blow out your candles. We are excited for this third year of your life, and we all love you so much.



Monday, July 16, 2018

Ella Kate is Three!

Dear precious Ella Kate, 

We just celebrated your third birthday, and I've thought so much about how good God is to bless our family with you.  You bring so much life and fun to our family. Your grandparents asked what to give you for your birthday, and I told them that you like doing things more than toys and suggested gymnastic classes and a trip to Chuck E Cheese.  You received both, and you immensely enjoyed your first "him-nas-tic" class.

Your third birthday party was a water party with sprinklers, water balloons, and a plastic pool with a slide. You love the water and the beach, and of course, you love cupcakes too. You asked for my little ponies to be your party decor.

You're such an interesting child.  You can be so fearless, yet you still cry almost every Sunday when I leave you for Sunday School. You'll start preschool this fall and go on Tuesday and Thursday from 9-2. I pray you will enjoy it and adjust well.     

You speak so clearly for your age, enunciating each word; so many people notice this about you.  You can also be very dramatic.   On occasion you break our get-out-of-bed without an emergency rule, and you'll declare "But mama, I'm SO frightened." 

You are a rule pusher and bender.  You can spot a loophole a mile away, and you are not afraid to use it.  You may have gotten that from me! You're clever, and you keep us on our toes. You're a fast runner, a good climber, and pretty tough.  

You love to eat, and we have no idea where you put all of the food that you consume! You're so petite, but it is not uncommon for you to out-eat me at a meal.

You gave your beloved pacis to Campbell this spring, and we were so proud of you! The transition went really well given your deep affection for your "pap pap."

Highlights of this past year include you being a flower girl in Bess (your favorite babysitter) and Barrett's wedding. You especially loved the reception and dancing and said "I want to stay at this party ALL NIGHT LONG."  But we didn't because you needed your sleep! You also transitioned so well to your big girl bed that your Daddy made for you. 

We hope your third year is wonderful and love you so much.


Your Mommy

p.s. Ella Kate just turned 5, so I figured I better finish this half written letter.  It's a good thing I email myself notes about her as the year progresses :)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Jackson is Four!

Dear Jackson,

You seem so tall these days, but you're still at 50th percentile for height and weight.  This year you had specific requests for your birthday: you wanted a bounce house party with no big kids and a Spiderman cake. Our neighbors gave us a bounce house, so it was easy to accommodate your party request.  It's funny that you wanted a Spiderman cake because you are completely uninterested in Spiderman otherwise; your request was probably a result of Grandma showing you cakes on Pinterest.

We enrolled you in preschool last fall because we thought you would enjoy it, and to our surprise and disappointment, you really didn't like it.  You never cried and didn't have separation anxiety, but you told me several times that you didn't like school and would rather be with Ella Kate and me.  After a month of preschool you woke up screaming one morning, and when I went to your room you couldn't open your eyes.  I tried a warm compress and even prying your eyes open, but you kept crying.  It was terrible.  After 10 minutes and a quick google search, I said "Jackson, if you don't want to go to school today, you don't have to go."  And voila! Your eyes opened.  And that was enough for us to withdraw you from preschool since we were only sending you for fun (and hadn't been crazy about your teachers either).  This fall you and Ella Kate will both go to preschool at a more low-key church preschool, and we pray it will be a better fit.

I asked you a few questions as I was writing this and here's some favorites:

Favorite color: red
Favorite friend: Betsy
Favorite things to do: Eat ice cream and play outside
Favorite food: broccoli

Just FYI, I do not think broccoli is your favorite food, and there are many desserts you would choose over ice cream :)  When asked "what do you want to do when you grow up?" you have recently been saying that you want to be a "daddy." When asked "where will you work?" you have responded "Kentucky" since your father worked there so much during his training.  

You continue to love your sister, animals, continents, and to bring us all so much joy. You're very smart and know much more about animals than the typical 4 year old (or adult for that matter).  You are in a Sunday School class with your teacher Ms. Jan and love playing with your sister and friends. Ms. Jan called a bird a "parrot" one day in Sunday School, and you told her it was actually a macaw.  You can be so precise.

We love you very much,


p.s. I figured I better publish this since Jackson will be 6 in less than a month :)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rediscovering My Love of Music

Before I had children music was one of my great loves.  When I was in high school I was obsessed with Pearl Jam, finding bootleg concert CDs in Oxford, England and pushing my way into its mosh pit in Charlotte.  Every season of my life is marked by a song or two, and when I hear the particular song, I'm taken back so quickly.  In the last three years, I guess I just haven't found the space to explore and enjoy new artists (or even old ones).  Last Saturday night my husband and I went to a concert of an artist I had never even heard of until recently.  I had only listened to one song pre-concert, so I did not really know what to expect.  And wow, it was like rediscovering a part of myself.  For almost two hours I sat still and just listened.  My favorite song of the night was called "Dancing in the Minefields," and it was the most perfect picture of marriage.  I cried.  I've never cried the first time I have heard a song, but Andrew Peterson nailed it in this song.  It was beautiful to hear my feelings so aptly described in music.  And that's a big part of music--hearing your feelings or experience described and shared by another person.

p.s. I'm grateful for my two children who are playing upstairs (without me).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ella Kate is Two

Dear Ella Kate,

You bring so much energy and life to our family, and we were all excited to celebrate your second birthday last weekend. You were so happy all weekend long; I think you like being celebrated and surrounded by family, new toys, and cupcakes.

There are many things we love about you, and here are a few highlights: you're the best hugger. You wrap your arm tightly around my neck, and despite going at a fast speed most of the time, when you're tired, you cuddle.  You seem to make great pains to enunciate each word you say, and you will attempt any word and have for a year now. It's so fun to see someone so little say such big words, and sometimes you speak with such drama like when you say "monster" or "that's terrible mommy." Your giggles and smiles are wonderful. You're really verbal too, especially when your brother isn't around. You're now regularly saying sentences like "It's a sunny day mommy" or "That's funny Jackson."

You're still fearless and have joined Jackson for some his firsts (like climbing the ladder on the big kid playground). In fact, you mastered the scooter you guys got for Christmas before he did. Despite not fearing many things or animals, you're cautious when it comes to other humans and take a while to warm up to people. You're also determined and clever. A most recent example is when you pulled a chair into the kitchen and used it to climb onto the counter, so you could open a cabinet to get your pacifier. With two bouts of strep and three ear infections in six months (last winter/spring) plus your eczema, we let you soothe yourself with your pacifier a lot, and you developed a deep affection. In fact, yesterday when I gave your paci "for just one minute" you replied "God bless you."

You're a pretty great eater and would be even better if you did not parrot everything your brother does! If he says something is "yucky,"  you agree without even tasting the offensive food. But you still eat green beans by the handful, drink salsa with a chip, and love almost all fruits. Your voracious appetite is especially cute since you're still very small (although you're well above average in height), and you have a sweet tooth like me. You love swinging ("higher, higher") and are fearless and brave. We were at a birthday party and a neighbor told your cautious brother to "hit the pinata like your sister" because you aren't afraid to whack something and are already showing some athletic aptitude and interest. You like trying to do handstands and flips and love wrestling on the bed with your daddy. You have so much energy; it's a joy to watch you in action.

You are finally sleeping past 7:00 most mornings, and we had a few mornings recently past 8:00. You like your naps and have even tried to climb into the crib when tired. You nap from 1:30-3:30 or later, and it's not unusual for me to wake you. Bedtime is around 8:30.  You sleep with 2 blankets, a soft dolls, and 2 pacis. If I give you more than 2 pacis, it's a problem, and you let me know quickly.

Jackson is definitely your best friend, and you two play together a lot. You are a good little mama and carry your baby doll around while you bounce her and say "sssh sshhh." You enjoy coloring. You insist on "do it myself" and regularly drag chairs into the kitchen so you can see what I am doing. You're also not phased by spankings and time out and often say "I'm sorry" multiple times a day. You're a strong-willed little girl.

A few months ago I asked you if I should pray before bed or if you would like to do so, and for the first time you prayed and said "Dear Jeeeeessssuuus, abcdefgh, amen."  Needless to say, you bring so much joy and fun to our family, and we are thankful for you.

Much love,

Your mommy

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Funday

I am spending today in a continuing legal education course, so of course, I have no excuse not to blog! Thankfully Nilsa's Friday Funday provided me with an easy blogging template for the day.

The highlight of my week was the seven hour break I had yesterday! Both children have been sick and sleeping poorly since Sunday, and I've been exhausted and grumpy.  We haven't been able to go anywhere since one or both have had fevers (and I don't want to infect others) and it's been raining most days, so this week has felt loooooong.  So I was extra grateful that my in-laws planned a fun day with both children. I had lunch out with Blake, did chores, watched Blue Bloods, got a pedicure, and almost finished my library book.  Lovely!

The low point of my week was just seeing how grumpy I get when I don't get good nighttime sleep (so many night wakings) or breaks (because naps were a mess).  I love being a stay at home mom, but man, it's really hard when the kiddos are sick.

The best book/article I read was the library book I just finished: The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer.

My favorite photograph I took was snapped with my Iphone (so not that great) of my son wearing only an apron and underoos, pretending to be a baker.

This week's workouts were limited to two runs of a little over a mile each plus some walking since I couldn't go to the gym (because kids had fevers).  Last week I tried two P90x classes and made it to the gym 3 times!  My goal is to be in shape by April 18 since Blake and I have registered for a 5k with friends.

The best money I spent was on my lunch date yesterday with my husband.

My weekend plans include a night out with friends tomorrow to celebrate a birthday and check out a new upscale bar and bowling alley.

p.s. I'm thankful both children seem to finally be fever free!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jackson is Three!

Dear Jackson,

You've had an eventful few weeks.  A week before your birthday you took a fall down our outside stairs.  You busted your lip, bled and cried a lot, and ended up losing one of your two front teeth as a result.  You were fully recovered in less than 24 hours, but your father and I needed several more days to feel "normal."  You're such a careful and cautious child, so we were especially surprised that you were our first to incur such an injury.  While the incident was scary and sad, God's faithful provision for us was so evident. Our neighbor Kate (a former ER nurse) was at our house in under 5 minutes, and within 10 minutes we had a dentist and another nurse looking at your dangling tooth. We received all of that medical care, visited the dentist's office, and were back home in about 45 minutes. That night you went to your first sleepover with your Daddy, the Kean boys, and the Royal boys and had a blast. You were so thrilled to be going despite your injuries, and cabin was all you would say after your nap.

The word your Dad and I still use most often when talking about you is "joy."  You are so kind and loving, and the Lord is using you to teach me about what His love should look like.  Pretty incredible since you're only 3. For example, last night we went grocery shopping together. The bakery gives children free cookies, and your first question to the bakery lady was "Can I have a cookie for Ella Kate too?" (since she wasn't with us). When I put some broccoli in our cart you said "thank you for getting my broccoli mommy."  If I hand you a water when we're in the car, before you'll even take a sip you tell me that "Ella Kate needs a water too."  You almost always think of her before yourself.  You are also an encouragement to us saying things like "Ella Kate, I like your new dress;" "You're a good mama;" or "Great job" when I'm helping with a puzzle.

You love people and notice every little thing. For example, if you see someone for the first time in 6 weeks, and they're not wearing their glasses or Livestrong bracelet, you want to know where the missing item is.  Animals are some of your favorite toys, and thanks to your Grandma, you probably have about 100 very well-made animals, a stable/barn, and lots of wooden fencing.  You often say that the horses are your favorite, and they all have names--Traveler, Sandy, Valentine, etc.

Your typical day begins between 6:45 and 7:15. You wake up and quietly stay in your bed until we come to get you. I rely on our video monitor to know when you've woken. You've only ever gotten out of your "big boy bed" one time after a nap or night time sleep. You're such an obedient child. Most mornings we watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (because it's Ella Kate's favorite) in my and daddy's bed for a little while as we wake up, and then we have breakfast.  You and Ella Kate usually play for a while, and a lot of days this winter we have just stuck around the house. You are content to just play at home and can be so imaginative with your toys, pretending blocks are cupcakes or necklaces are candy or water for your horses. Other days we may go to the gym, and you often don't want to leave the toys. You still love the Children's Museum and always looked forward to a class called Zumbini that we went to for a few months.  You like the library, Publix (free cookies:), and just about any other place we go.  You're just easy to please.

You like to know what to expect, and most days you eat broccoli, fruit (apple, cantaloupe, and strawberries are the regulars), and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.  You nap from 1:30 until I wake you up around 3:30.  We eat an early dinner when your father gets home from work around 5:15, and you like to wrestle with him on the bed, play hide and go seek, and just play.  You also like watching television and get to watch a show before bedtime; you almost always choose Dora the Explorer.  Bedtime is at 8:30. Either your dad or I pray with you, sometimes read a book, and tuck you in with your blanket and puppy and octopus plus 3 books.  Yep, you insist on sleeping with your books.

You have an exciting year ahead.  We started potty training 6 days ago, and you're doing great. We are planning on swimming lessons this spring and maybe soccer too, and this weekend we are registering you for preschool for next fall! We are planning a beach trip for May, and you're going to be so excited. You love pretending to be at the beach and don't remember your first 2 trips since you weren't even 2 years old for either trip. I look forward to experiencing it all with you.

Much love,


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Old Blog Self :)

Over the last few weeks, I've had to look up several things on my blog. Yeah for an easily searchable journal! And tonight I ran across this gem in an old post about dating mishaps:

"And from what I have observed, once you have children, stories centering around bodily fluids and functions and sleeping habits become fascinating and appropriate to share with others, even large groups of acquaintances!"  

Oops, guilty. Maybe not with large groups of acquaintances, but it's amazing what seems appropriate to talk about when you're living with sleep deprivation at the hands of an infant.  Or maybe it doesn't even seem appropriate, but you're so weary, you're not even thinking about what is coming out of your mouth.  As I read some of my old posts, it makes me want to write now.  I hope I'll have them mental space and desire to do so soon.

p.s. I'm thankful for the glorious sunshine this week.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A New Routine

The last time I can remember consistently working out was about the time I started dating my husband Blake.  I ran a 4 mile road race in May 2009 and about a month later I went to Nicaragua for two weeks and got some sort of intestinal bug that took at least a month or two to go away.  Since I got sick every time I ate, I finally quit exercising, and by the time the bug ended I was thinner than usual (lost muscle) and spending the time I'd previously spent at the gym or running with Blake.  I didn't mind the trade and loved spending my evenings with him.  Over the past few years I've walked a lot, gone to the gym some, but between two pregnancies, the related recovery, and a torn meniscus/surgery, I've not consistently really worked out--meaning the sweaty, fast heartbeat kind of workout that gives me the rush of energy I craved in the past.

Now that I'm most likely finished birthing babies I've decided it's time to attempt to develop an exercise routine of sorts.  So for step one we joined a gym with excellent childcare.  Step two is getting my daughter Ella Kate to stay with the strangers in the childcare.  Today I ran a mile in 9:40 on the treadmill, which is the furthest I've run since I had part of my meniscus removed in April. And Ella Kate made it 20 minutes with only a few minutes of crying.  We gotta start somewhere!

I'm super motivated by numbers and goals, so I think I'll work up to running a 5k and work on my one mile time.  I think a 9 minute mile is a good short term goal.  My weight is where I want it to be, and I can wear all of my clothes; but I'm guessing my body fat is not in a healthy range. And I could definitely use some toning.  So I've asked a trainer at the gym to test my body fat. Interestingly she said she didn't think numbers mattered and wanted to know why I needed to know my body fat percentage. I explained that I think body fat percentage is much more of a health indicator than weight and that numbers motivate me.  

p.s. I'm thankful for our new gym and the kind childcare workers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Since the beginning of August I've been trying to get a written explanation of the PMI removal process from our current mortgage holder (I won't bore you with the details of why).  After speaking with several customer representatives with a poor command of the English language who clearly did not understand the basics of a mortgage, I sent several emails and made several more phone calls.

Over a month passes with no response to my requests.  So I send a final email and just happen to end my email with "Gratefully, Ally R., Esquire."  And BOOM! I receive a certified letter, signature required from an assistant vice president on card stock with a real blue ink signature.  It never ceases to amaze me how people treat me differently when they learn that I am/was an attorney.

Before we bought our home, I lived in a loft that had occasional maintenance issues.  If I sent an email from my gmail account, I often never received any response whatsoever.  I found that if I sent the exact same e-mail from my work email account (a law firm), I would received a response within minutes.  This was over the course of years with the same building manager; it's like he didn't remember I was an attorney unless I used the work account, and I guess only attorney tenants deserve responses?

Oh well, at least my continuing ed and paying dues has some upsides while I don't work.

p.s. I'm thankful Jackson and I will be able to see my oldest niece play softball tomorrow evening.