Happy birthday to my fierce one

Today Eloise is 2!  I cannot believe how fast it has gone.  I know people always say that, but it is so true.  Fortunately, I haven’t felt like I’ve missed much this time around.  It has been a completely different and wonderful experience raising this child to two than it was raising her brother to two.

When Link turned two, he’d been planning to be a big brother for months, and in exactly 1 month from his birthday his sister would arrive.  He was made to grow up quickly because he would no longer be the only.

We’ve had the pleasure of letting Eloise be the baby for as long as she needed to.  She still rocks to sleep in my arms once in awhile and enjoys being scooped up and snuggled.

But my oh my, she is not even close to a baby any longer, and this toddler is fierce in everything.

Eloise loves her brother fiercely.  She loves everything he is and how he plays with her.  She wants to mimic him and do what he does, including every time he’s a stinker or defiant – turn around and she’ll have her pouty, stinker face on too.

Eloise is fiercely independent.  She will make certain you know what she can and wants to do.  She dresses herself, brushes her own teeth, peels her own banana- anything you’d like to help her with: “no help!”

Eloise has fierce emotions.  She loves not only her brother, but her family and friends with an intensity you can feel.  When someone leaves her presence, her heart gets broken faster than you can blink.

Eloise has changed me in a fierce way, she has made an incredible impact on her family, and she is a joy at school.  I am humbled and in awe that she was given to me, and I have loved every second of her two years in a way I never knew possible.

I love you baby girl.  Happy birthday to my fierce one.

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Dear Eloise: A letter to my daughter

Dear Eloise,

Today is your first birthday.  It has been the most amazing year!

Before you were born, I was already a mommy.  Lincoln was 2 years old, and his entrance into the world had changed my life.  He had changed me.

Being a mom was a title I’d always longed for.  Since Lincoln is my first child, I thought I knew what it felt like to be a mom.  I felt like the person I was meant to be: the world made sense, I was so close to God, and I was incredibly happy.  I had no idea how to love someone else as much as I loved Lincoln.

Then I had you.

Eloise Grey, you shook my world upside down.  When you were born, and over the last year, you have shown me what being a mommy is. I am even closer to God than ever before.  I love Lincoln more profoundly than I ever knew I could.  I value your daddy more than ever.  And I love you so intensely.

You have taught me what true joy is.  You laugh at anything and everything, including yourself.  It is infectious.

You have taught me how to love with no limitations.  No matter how many times your brother hits you, takes away your toys, or ignores you, you continue to love and accept him with everything you are.

You have taught me that it is good to break the mold.  You love Link’s “boy” toys more than your own, and yet you always pick the girly-est dress in your closet to wear.

You have taught me to be fearless.  You would scale a cliff if I let you, and you test my patience and trust, and cause me more anxiety than Link ever has.  No matter how many grey hairs that causes, you are bettering me for it.

I never imagined that something that entered this world so quickly and just shy of seven pounds could change me to such a magnitude.

I love you, my sweet, beautiful, silly girl.  I can’t wait to see how else you change this world.

Love,

Your mommy

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Prepare for and plan for the best

photoJustin and I are going on our first vacation sans children in a couple of weeks.  It’s a work conference for myself, but we are adding a day so that we can spend some quality time together. It will be a great way to strengthen our marriage.

I’m terrified.

We haven’t left the kids yet, but for a night away here and there.  Link tells me he misses me when I leave his room at night!  How will he handle 5 days?  And sweet Eloise, who doesn’t sleep… what will she do when she can’t snuggle with mommy all night?

I know they will be fine. But I worry – I am a worrier.  It will be so good for Justin and I, and it will be great for Link to learn that we leave AND come back.

I did get my will finalized, so if we end up in the Indian Ocean or anything, the kids are protected.  I didn’t put a directive for Alabaster – so hopefully someone will take him.

All this being said, God has us in His hands.  We will all be safe, and loved, and protected.  But say a prayer for us anyway… please.

It is good to stray from the norm

My mom has referred to me as a hippie mom.  I’m not sure that I’ve gone that extreme, but I have chosen some parenting techniques that are not as common.

I breastfed Lincoln and took him to baby yoga. I made all of his solid foods, many of which were organic, and we taught him baby sign.  But he did wear lots of blue, started his solids right at 6 months, and had some formula in his first weeks of life.  It was a wonderful blend of the traditional methods and some newer trends.  We learned a lot about parenting an infant.  There were a few things that I’d wished I’d done with him, and I planned to do that with the next pregnancy and baby.

I found out I was pregnant again (with Eloise), and I considered the things we did with Link, and the things I wished I had.  I decided I would do more prenatal yoga to prepare for birth (I did it almost 5 times… but I was on restrictions a lot of her pregnancy, so I’ll blame that) and that I would get in a place where I wouldn’t need an epidural (I totally had one).  I prepared to breastfeed her without using any formula to supplement, but I knew, based on Link’s experience, that the needs of the baby outweighed my wants.  Eloise was born, perfectly.  We were able to breastfeed right away (thank you Jesus!) and I was able to store up enough extra milk that I was able to donate some, as I wished I could have done with Link.

I cloth diaper Eloise, which I am so happy about.  I love not buying diapers (we are almost not buying any for Link either).  My family was supportive of my decision, although I’m pretty sure they thought that I was nuts, and would give up.  But I was alright with that, and it did encourage me to give it the best go of it that I could, so that I knew if it was right for us.

The next thing that we are doing different with Eloise is baby-led weaning as a way of introducing her to solid food.  It’s going pretty well, although we are on a hiatus to figure out some issues she’s having otherwise.  You can read more about the benefits here if you’d like.  Before my mom read the benefits, she was certain I was nuts.

But here is the important part: It’s alright to do things different than how your mom (mother-in-law/sister/neighbor/friend) did them!  If you, as the trusted parent of this little one, feel that this way is right, do it that way.

I do feel that it is important for family members to be involved in raising your children.  If you, as a grandparent, don’t understand why a certain method is being used, ask!  I am grateful that Link’s and Ellie’s grandparents care enough about them to ask why I do things a certain way.  My children are so blessed!  And I am so incredibly blessed that my husband, parents and in-laws may seek better understanding of what I’m doing, but then they support it.  They know that I am choosing the best for my kids.

I feel that listening to people’s concerns and questions, and then making my own decision, is an important thing to demonstrate for my children.  They need to know that it’s alright to do things different than what is expected of them.  If Link wants a pink balloon instead of blue – great!  If Eloise is dressed head to toe in boy clothes (ok… not quite her own decision yet) – great!  Their mommy and daddy love them, they were designed by God.  That is what matters.

Now… some pictures of Eloise trying to eat food.

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This is an avocado?

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It’s mushy.

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Apples!

 

Kids these days

Yesterday we drove past the hospital, and I pointed out to Link that the hospital was where he and Eloise were born.  Then when we got home, he asked me, “Mommy, how did all those babies get in your tummy?”  My 2.5 year old basically just asked where babies came from.  Not sure I’m ready for this.  But they are growing up so fast!

Link loves to play out in the puddles, and thanks to the weather, we have gotten to this week.  I am so happy that we can get them out – the fresh air is so good for my children.  I mentioned the love of dinosaurs already, but we are also big into cars.  We have been using little Matchbox cars and dinosaurs for some potty-learning incentive.  I’m not one to broadcast the potty habits of my kids, but I will say that there has been very impressive advances in that area.  We are very proud.

Eloise is sitting now!  She is also doing a lot of “crawling”, or at least her version.  She gets up into a perfect crawl stance, and lunges forward, repeat, repeat, until she reaches her destination (often something that will go in her mouth).  We are still trying to figure out her dietary needs.  I had been dairy free for awhile, and that relieved a lot of her acid reflux.  I introduced it again, and that hasn’t been going well.  A combination of that, the beginning stages of teething, and a cold that will not leave our house, has led to some unhappy moments for her.  Overall though, she is the happiest little girl.  We are so blessed by her smiles.  She is also a big fan of not sleeping at night, so that’s been fun.

I will leave you with a few photos of the rugrats.

Eloise after some outside time

Eloise after some outside time

Link loves to eat the snow!

Link loves to eat the snow!

3 generations of Gehring men

3 generations of Gehring men

Daddy and Eloise playing ball

Daddy and Eloise playing ball

As having nothing, and yet possessing everything

During Lent, many people give up certain things as a form of penitence.  I have been taught in my Christian journey, that although is is important to give up, it is also important to take on.  Some years I chose to do one or both, and sometimes I did neither.  I am Lutheran, and wasn’t raised with this being a requirement during Lent.  In recent years I was either pregnant or nursing, and I felt that I was making a large enough sacrifice as it was.  This year, I wanted to put Jesus first, instead of me.

So I decided to give up Facebook.  That sounds trivial to a lot of people, but it had become an idol in my life.  I would check it while driving if I saw I had a notification (mostly at red lights), I would check it while nursing Eloise, and I would check it while playing with Lincoln.  My smartphone would be on at the dinner table, in the car, everywhere.  It was my idol.

Giving up Facebook is a true sacrifice in my life, and one that I am hoping leads to taking on.  I will be taking on more time with my husband.  I will be taking on precious moments with my little girl who is growing up so fast.  I will be taking on wrestling with my adorable toddler.  I will be taking on God.

I am so excited.