A Letter to Maisy: Finding the Balance

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

This is possibly my favorite outing with you girls yet, our trip to the Rock County 4H fair!  We had so much fun!  Featured in this mix is evidence of my favorite cow, your favorite goat, a creepy turkey that scared the bejeepers out of you, this awesome corn pit, a duck and pig race, us munching on cheese curds and fresh lemonade while watching the race, a picture of you being team cheerleader (you won the right by cheering so loud they picked you!), and pictures of you being so brave way up high on the ride you chose to go on.  I’ll cherish memories like this with you forever!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

Dear Maisy,

Growing up, I remember mostly entertaining myself all day long outside creating “soups” in various vessels, climbing my favorite tree, and otherwise exploring the great outdoors.  I remember times playing Beanie Babies with my brother or the occasional play date with a friend.  I remember enjoying that time by myself but also loving going to a friend’s house.  I don’t remember being entertained by adults, parents or our day care providers.

I think part of the difference is that I’m naturally more inclined to want alone time, much more of an introvert and you simply are wired to crave people time every minute of your life, waking and sleeping.  I love that about you! I love that you love people so much.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t find it clashing with my need for alone time and to otherwise not have to be hands on with you.

Now-a-days I’m face with the daily struggle, since all of our day care kids but one no longer needed my care, to find the balance between spending time with you and spending time getting my work done while you play by yourself.

I know that it’s unrealistic for you to expect me to entertain you all day and that it’s actually not healthy for me to dictate your activities all day every day. It’s during free play that creativity is born and nurtured.  I firmly believe it’s so valuable for you to play by yourself, but I always feel guilty.

What I don’t know is if the childhood I’m offering you makes you feel equal parts wholly loved and cherished but also capable and creative. What I do know is that free play breeds creativity, that I love spending time with you and that I need to get photography work and chores done during the day.

As for time spent with you, I love it and I love that it’s so obvious that you love it.  I love when you cook with me.  I love coming up with something to bake, just the two of us.  I love having you join me in the garden or helping me with laundry.  It’s so amazing and special that you truly love spending that time doing even the most mundane of chores alongside me, being such a sweet helper.  I love setting up a tea party for you or helping you with a craft, and largely because you love these things so much.  Out of all the things we do together my two very favorites are play a game, card or board game, and to read books and snuggle at bedtime.

In this season with you and your sister being so dependent and mommy-oriented I often finding myself wishing there was a script to follow in our every day that somehow met all your needs and wants that will shape you into the best version of yourselves but would also allow my needs to be met for me to be at my best.  So far, the best I have is to take mornings for work and chores, by and large unless we have library or some other plans, and then to spend my afternoons doing something special with you and Penny.  Granted my mornings are still severely interrupted and often times you two are on my lap or next to me coloring or otherwise participating in “work” of your own at my desk, but it works most of the time.  Maybe this strategy is good enough and means I have figured it out, that I do have a good, healthy normal, but why do I still feel guilty every time I’m working?  Why do I feel guilty turning you down for play any time even if the thing I’m working on is for you?

I pray you feel loved and cherished but also challenged and like every day you grow into an even better little person.

I love you always and forever,



A Letter to My Girls: I Love That I Get to Love You


Dearest girls,

I love that I get to love you exactly the way I want to.  It’s truly one of my favorite parts of parenting!  I can squeeze you, kiss you all the time, hold you whenever I want, snuggle you, tickle you, toss you, rub your back and legs and head and belly, speak love over you, encourage you when you’re feeling blue, snuggle up and read books with you, bake with you, build Lego castles with you, play games with you, sit with you while I work, and I can give you the presents I know you’ll adore.

I love that you never turn away a hug.  I love that you always let me hold you and love you in this way and don’t push me away.

I love that I can kiss you all over your face a few dozen times all in a row and you take it all in with an eye to eye smile on your face and a glow in your eyes.  I love that I can kiss your neck, your belly and your toes whenever I want.  I love that you hunt me down every time you get a certain calibre of owie just for my healing kisses.

I love that I can steal you off the ground and hold you whenever I want, even if it’s only for a moment.  And I truly soak in the times when you snuggle in for the long haul, especially just after a nap or when you’re not feeling well.

I love snuggling with you before you go to bed, holding you close to my body as if trying to suck you back into my womb, all while taking in deep breaths of your sweet scent.

I love to tickle you just to see that smile and hear that amazing laugh.

I love to toss you onto the bed or the couch, again, to see that amazing smile.  It’s like capturing a thousand shooting stars, the brightest sunshine, and the most delicious homemade cookie all at once.  It fills up my whole body with complete joy and I can feel the echo of your smile on my face.

I love soaking in the sensation of touching your cute little, barely hairy, legs in particular.  Maybe it’s because this is a luxury I know is more limited – that when you’re school age you probably won’t let me anymore and I’ll be stuck with just rubbing your back, and not even skin to skin but through your clothing.

I love that I can speak love over you in ways I know you completely understand because we’ve been intimately woven together since your birth.  I love that I have a special knack for communicating with you.  That I know my words find the core of your being, even if that means for the worse in my grumpier moments.  I know that, because I’ve spent so much time in your young days and talking to you all day long every day, that we have a verbal connection that is just mine. I love that my words can also go so far in your heart to repair any heartache or misunderstanding.  Even your daddy knows that sometimes it’s best to defer to me to communicate consequences, feelings, daily happenings… you name it.  I cherish that connection and pray I never lose it.

I love that I can spend quality time with you in ways that fill us both up like reading books together, baking, playing games, or building Lego castles with you.  I love that mostly you’re just happy with any way I can include you in on what I’m doing whether that’s in the garden, in my office, in the kitchen or in the laundry room.

I love that whenever a gift-giving holiday comes around I get so excited at all the gift ideas I have for you.  Even though a sensible mind and the budget restrain me a good amount, I’m so pleased with the joy my gifts bring you and how you treasure them. It feels so validating to have “nailed it.”

I love that I get to love you.

With all my heart,


A Letter to Baby: Gender Reveal


Dear Baby,

Many weeks ago now we went in for our 20 week ultrasound to check in on you. The reassurance I receive when seeing that everything checks out well with you is hard to describe.  As your mommy, I feel so responsible for your well being.  That I could make mistake in nutrition or somehow otherwise wound you sometimes nearly debilitates me with fear.  Before having kids I truly was the opposite of a stress pot.  I was care free and go with the flow so this kind of worry and stress is brand new to me.  I hope you know that’s an indication of how much I already love and care for you, that I would do anything to ensure your safety and healthy passage into this world.  Gosh, I can’t wait to meet you!

For the first time ever we also decided to find out what we were having at this ultrasound – yes, both your sisters were surprises!  Per your awesome Aunt Sarah’s idea, we decided to take your gender in an envelope to open in private over dinner together as a family.  I loved the idea of a more intimate setting for finding out something so intimate.  When we arrived for the ultrasound we informed our tech of this choice.  So, during the ultrasound, she would occasionally suggest we avert our eyes so as not so find out unintentionally.

Immediately following the ultrasound I had to spend the rest of my afternoon in meetings and working so I stashed that envelope in my purse and felt it’s weight like a ton of bricks.

Finally, after three hours that felt like three days of waiting, we got to meet up for dinner to open that envelope.  Before opening we each guessed your gender, just for fun:  I said boy, daddy said boy, Maisy said a girl, and Penny had no idea what was going on.  I opened the envelope and froze momentarily on the word before me:  boy!  I got teary immediately and hugged your dad.  I’m so excited to hold you, my sweet boy!

I actually honestly always pictured myself as a boy mom, all boys.  And then our first was a girl, all 7 day care kids that have come in and out of our home have been girls, our dog is a girl, our chickens are all girls, and then our second baby was a girl.  I always thought that ironic and quite comical seeing as I’d pictured myself with boys.  Why did I picture myself with boys?  Well I figured I’d have a better handle on that gender because I’ve always had more of a knack for hanging with the guys that really getting a grip on being a good friend to girls.  Besides, all of my favorite things were less feminine my love of sports, like climbing trees, being fascinated by bugs and all things animal related, playing in the mud and, later, preferring hard rock music to any other variety.  I could picture myself passing a ball around, climbing trees, hunting for bugs, camping, canoeing, hiking, and otherwise having outdoorsy fun with my boys.

All that to say, your sisters are the most amazing girls I’ve ever known.  Maisy is so giving and compassionate, she never shies away from reaching out to make someone feel loved and to share a toy or a treat.  Penny has such a vivaciousness for life, she is so full of spunk and joy, and she’s such a goofball, she makes me laugh all the time.  And I’m proud to say they are not at all afraid of bugs or getting dirty, in fact, they love it!  You are one lucky little man to have these two sisters as your older siblings.  And I pray you will be that baby brother that also helps us keep those two incredibly gorgeous girls safe from boys until the proper time.

Baby boy, I’m so excited to meet you and hold you and kiss you.  You’re quite the fiesty wiggler in there, I swear I should be able to just squeak you out right through my skin since it feel like you’re game to bust out of there on your own anyways.  The layer of skin keeping you from my arms is so thin it oddly feels silly that I can’t just take you out of my belly and hold you.

Can’t wait to meet you,


A Letter to Penny: Potty Training


Dear Penny,

Of all the things that parenting requires it was sleep and potty training that I was most scarred by when it came to raising your older sister through babyhood.  So, naturally, when we found out we were welcoming a second baby, you, into our family I experienced some pretty serious stress in relation to those two issues.  My sleep stress was healed upon our first night together, you slept all night, 8pm – 9 am!  I was so overjoyed, relieved, and immediately grateful. What’s even better, you’ve always enjoyed excellent sleep habits even if you did go through patches that weren’t as ideal, particularly when teething.  Praise Jesus and thank you Penny!

My next stressor, potty training, nagged at the edges of my brain increasingly as you grew.  I pondered “potty day” all of your babyhood but really started seriously considering starting to teach you some time around 15 months.  It was at that age you also started showing some interest.  You’re so smart and teachable so I figured you’d be likely to pick it up fast but I couldn’t make myself take the plunge for fear of frustrating our otherwise very peaceful and pleasant relationship and risk getting angry or frustrated with you in the process.  So, I opted to teach you the particulars while still allowing you to wear a diaper.  Whenever you wanted to go I would do my best to embrace your request and sit you on the potty, even if nothing happened half the time.

Every now and then I would get tired of in-between potty business and would set aside a day to really focus on teaching you.  My first day of this lasted a day and a half before I felt myself getting too frustrated to keep trudging ahead. Even though I knew you were really making some great connections… this mom can only handle so much pee on the floor.

I gave it a rest for several weeks and when I grew motivated enough to give it another try I blocked out the day for another potty training experience but miffed it completely in putting a diaper on you to go to the farmers market.  When we got home again I took the diaper off and you proceeded to pee all over for the next 30 minutes.  I got upset and you got upset.  I looked at you standing there with this look of sad bewilderment on your face and knew it would be best to call it.

This last time around we looked really great!  Again I took a break for several weeks, waiting for my next burst of inspiration.  I kept putting you on the potty at your request which was also becoming more successful, especially for poops.

For this round of “potty bootcamp” as I like to call it, I blocked out two days and really told myself to commit to lots of patience, to embrace the accidents as the learning experience they can be with the right attitude, and to really focus on learning your signals and teaching you how to recognize them.

Day 1 you held your pee pretty much all day.  You did not make it on the potty once, peed in your diaper during your nap, and only had a couple accidents in all.  You were really agreeable to sitting on the potty and spent plenty of time there, you just didn’t get anything out at the right time.

Day 2 you were a walking accident.  You didn’t make it on the potty all morning or afternoon and had accidents everywhere.  Part way into the afternoon you had a sloppy poop in the living room, at which point I brought two kid potties into the living room to give you another option and make it more obvious and accessible.  Right after setting those potties out you sat three times in a row, stood, then peed nearly right next to it.  That flipped the switch for me and I thought we were done; however, I did give it one more stubborn shot. The next time I new you had to have some pee in you I sat you on the potty, gave you some books, and firmly told you to sit down and wait until some pee came out.  Well your next move floored me because I really didn’t think you’d actually do it, I thought I’d end up throwing in the towel again by the end of the day due to sheer frustration.  But no, you took my frustration, lessons, and my ultimatum to heart and took only seconds on the potty before you got some pee out.  I freaked with excitement and in a burst of inspiration gave you an M&M for a reward.

Now, I have to take a break in my story to have a moment with this M&M reward business.  The Kaia a couple of years ago was fiercely against any kind of “reward system” and, really, I still on the whole don’t think it’s the wisest choice for most teachable moments.  I choose to operate on a Love and Logic mode of parenting – where natural consequences and problem-solving reign supreme.  However, at his juncture of potty training I had this moment of clarity.  What I saw in you Penny is that you were getting frustrated and saddened by this potty experience just as much as I was.  I really didn’t want that for you.  In putting you on the potty that “last” time I felt hopeless you’d actually go but knew that if you did I had an M&M waiting for you in hopes that it not only would make you feel good about your accomplishment, but that it would rekindle your excitement to want to potty train.  I’m so thankful I took a moment to go with my gut even though the concept of a reward wasn’t my favorite thing in the world because you took flight after that.  In that moment you saw the potty as the means to bigger and better things, both the experience of getting to wipe and flush (your favorite things) but to enjoy the sheer excitement I exhibit at each successful potty moment and the treat that comes after.

I know the treats won’t last forever and I’m ok with being flexible with that.  What I know right now is that those two changes, giving you a little potty in the living room and a treat after successful sit downs turned the corner for you.

Day three I photographed a wedding all day so your daddy was on potty duty and said you got it on the potty a couple times.

Day four, you went twice on the potty before church.  I took the risk taking you to church in your underwear and you refused to go on the big public potty so eventually you had an accident in Kidzworks and I felt helpless and ashamed at being the mom who’s kid peed in public.  I started shaming myself into thinking how foolish I was for attempting this potty thing.  I easily owned the title of “inept potty trainer” even before that moment.  Truthfully, I felt like a complete failure and potty idiot, like I had no idea what I was doing.  Then we got home and you proceeded to pee only on the potty all day long!  Each time you proudly watched me dump the contents into the big potty, wiped yourself thoroughly, and excitedly flushed the toilet.  I always had to remind you to come back and wash your hands because after the flush you were just too excited to retrieve your treat reward.  And, of course, the treat came just after I got you to wash your hands.  The smile on your face every time you go through all the motions of potty training now make my heart smile.  You smile so proud from the moment you pee in the potty all the way through the wiping and cleaning routine.

We are now nearly two weeks out of day time diapers.  The trend of potty awesomeness has continued.  I’ve learned that potty training is best viewed as a journey, not a script to follow verbatim.  These days you still run around half naked because I’m still working on teaching you how to pull underwear on and off and budget enough time to get to the potty to do so and you wear a diaper for naps and bed time for now, but you don’t ask for a treat after every visit on the potty and I’ve found that I can get you to go pee on the big public potty by offering you an M&M (which I simply keep in a small jar in my purse at all times for such times) as a part of the deal.   I know that we still have a ways to go before you’re completely independent with this potty thing but I also know I’m really ok with with that. The heavy lifting is done!  Now it’s just a matter of teaching particulars like night time dryness and manipulating pants.

Today I feel capable and like we are doing this thing well and with joy.  Today I feel like I know what I’m doing.  Today I feel like I can do this.  Today I feel like this potty training experience will leave me feeling capable and smart.  Today I feel proud of both you and me, but mostly you.

Got get ’em girl!  You rock!


A Letter to Penny: The End of Breastfeeding

-written April 6, 2018


Dear Penny,

Weaning you has been bittersweet. I truly wanted to take you past two like I did your sister. And though I’ve only nursed you three times total in the last two weeks, the past couple days you’ve asked persistently after your nap, growing increasingly desperate with each ask. Alternative milk is not pacifying you either like it has other times you’ve asked. It breaks my heart because a small part of me wants to give in, the part that loves you so and wants to give you that comfort and nourishment, but the much more dominating pregnant part of me is so fiercely averse to nursing that I stand my ground firmly and just hold you tight whispering sweet things in your ear intead. I not only want a break from breastfeeding for the first time in almost four years, but the sensation of nursing while pregnant is so uncomfortable it makes me cringe inwardly and sometimes outwardly. I wish I would will myself to be that much more selfless to give you what you request as long as you want, but I’m too tired and tapped out. I’m so sorry. I pray we get through this last weaning hurdle smoothly and quickly. I’ve been working you down in feedings for months, but cutting you off completely has proven to be a hill you’re willing to cry on perpetually. Please Penny, for both of us, let my loves and hugs and snuggles and alternate options be enough from now on. I hate hurting you by saying no to your request every day.

I love you so much,