letters to nikhil: eighteen months

Dear Nikhil,

How on earth are you already eighteen months, my love?!?!  

I think it is harder in some ways to watch our second little love grow up.  Maybe because we know just how sweet and fast each stage of life you are going through is, and we want to savor every little moment.

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In the past six months, some wonderful changes happened to our family.  All leading up to the point in time where I am blessed to spend every day with you, my sweet, little sidekick.  I am still adjusting to our new normal, but I know it will not be long until you join Noah at “big boy” school.  Until then, I am going to embrace this precious time I have been given with you.  Because, sweets, it has been the absolute BEST!  

I have felt nothing short of joy being able to watch you explore, learn, and love (and work through the frustrating times as well).  Perhaps it is because I get the honor of seeing all of your small and big moments that makes everything feel a little sweeter the second time.  Or maybe, I am learning to let go a little more the second time around.  Either way, nothing beats seeing the wheels turn in your head as you create a plan to get the chairs lined up to reach a toy up high or discover how to make the blocks balance into a tall tower.  You continue to change and grow rapidly.

For starters, you have actually grown a few inches both vertically and horizontally.  We have a hard time of transitioning out clothes that fit you.  (I have a sneaky suspicion it will not be long until you are as tall as me!)  You share the same love for food as I do, and I LOVE it!  I do not think we have found a food group you dislike yet.  But, I will say, apples and blueberries to you are what a bundt cake is to me-the best kind of treat.  To say you love them is an understatement.  And, do not even get me started on milk.  With a straw.  Oh you are one silly kid.

I believe food and sleep are top equal to you.  You are what we refer to as a dream babe when it comes to sleep.  I have concluded that you most definitely inherited the Lindsey gene.  I speak for your father when I say, we BOTH appreciate your love to get a good night’s rest with a side of sleeping in on the weekends.  Waking up to you jumping and laughing in your crib is the cherry on top.

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We cannot get over how brilliant you are, little love.  One of my favorite moments in staying home with you is the chance to watch you soak up what you learn with excitement in your eyes.  Puzzles, repeating the alphabet, and anything to do with colors and numbers have become a few of your favorite learning moments.  And, when you get the treat of watching a show, like your big brother, you love anything that has to do with the farm and tractors; my country boys at heart!  (Your daddy could not be more proud!)

What is most astounding to us is how much you are talking.  The other night, you said “I love you” to daddy and I.  And, I believe our hearts were a puddle within seconds.  It was all we could do to make you say it again.  The best is when you ask for “help” and “please” for more milk.  I could listen to you talk all day especially when you try and have conversations with Noah.  It is definitely the sweetest thing.  

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Speaking of which, watching Noah and you play together, oh my heart, it melts us.  Nik, we hope you know how deeply you are loved by your big brother.  He is the first person who comes racing to your room each morning when you wake up and the one who never, ever forgets to kiss you good night.  You may fight from time to time over a toy or for breaking down one of his creations, but he just adores you.  And, seeing how much you look up to him, well it gets me choked up every time.  Anything he does, you are right next to him, doing the same, martial arts exercises, playing soccer, and killer dance moves.  When you get the chance to play Legos with him, you have a smile that is stretched from ear to ear.  And, you never pass the chance to love on your big brother.  Noah makes you laugh more than any one of us, and he is the one you listen to the best.  Our hope for Noah and you is the two of you always remain each other’s confidant, protector, and most of all, brothers who are best friends.

Can we take a moment to talk about your personality?!  Oh Nik, it is BIG!  You are too fun to be around.  We have loved watching you become animated in everything you do whether it be at the dinner table making all of us laugh with your silly faces and giggles, reading a book outloud to Pebbles, or playing superheroes with Noah around the house.  And, you are fearless.  As in I have found you on top of the ledge of our couch attempting to balance on one foot, on our coffee table trying to head dive onto our wooden floors, and trying to climb down stairs like a big boy wearing the most bravest of faces.  In a way, I love how much courage you have!  It will take you so far in your life when you live out those big, crazy dreams.   

I tell your daddy how God made you out of honey and marshmallows with a little cinnamon spice on top.  You are by far the sweetest blessing to be given to this family.  You add more chaos, but it is the kind of chaos we love, the kind of chaos we are extra grateful for each night.  Last year was a hard year for me.  And, your sweet little self gave me so much goodness in many different moments when I needed it the most.  I constantly thank God that you were my saving grace, my little gift that helped me through a difficult time.  You were my inspiration to simplify our lives, find balance in my career that allows me to prioritize my three best people (and sweet Pebs) at the top of the list, and love BIG.  Life without you is truly unimaginable, Nikhil.

I am excited for many more adventures with you and to see how much you grow and change in the next six months.  However, for the sake of your mama and daddy’s heart, please do not grow up too fast!  

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We love you to the moon and stars and back, my sweet Nik.

xoxo,

Mama

  

good reads: the lucky few

Let me start by saying this book left me in big, ugly mama tears.  Sobbing in bed.  At midnight.  Because it was THAT good.  As in I re-read the last chapter again because oh. my. word.  Her writing was powerful.  Leaving my heart full.

the lucky few

I would be lying if I said that adoption is not something we think about quite often.  Bryan and I started this discussion when Noah was a little tot babbling around our home. It is still a seed God planted in our hearts we pray about daily.  What a wonderful way to bring a child into a family who may not have the necessary resources or parents to give him or her the life they deserve to live.

After reading The Lucky Few, Heather not only showed me through her own experiences, but through her truth-filled words, how amazing life can turn out if you trust in God’s plan and walk into the unknown while being pushed into discomfort only to find true beauty.  This beauty may lie in that of a child with Down syndrome.  A child with a different skin color of your own.  A child who requires more medical attention.  Yet, this pushing leads to a lifetime of heart-melting memories with little ones who may not share your DNA but share your heart, your love, and your morals.  It may also lie in other aspects of our lives where we are afraid to uncover what is yet to be discovered.  It may be leaving a job you hate or taking a leap of faith in falling in love.  Whatever it may be, it leads to blessings that you get to experience daily.

I will leave you with my most favorite passage in her book…

I believe that at some point in our lives each of us has the opportunity to leave our comfortable path and head into the wilderness.  Each of us will at some point hold a “yes pebble” in our hands.  My hope and prayer for all of us is that we will be willing to toss those pebbles into the murky waters and get our fancy shoes dirty in the mud.  My hope is that as we say yes, the ripples of our decisions will begin to form wonderful waves.  Waves, my friends, cannot be ignored.

I wake up every day excited and a tiny bit terrified as I look forward to hearing God’s call.  Upon first glance at my rambunctious children, the ones jumping on my bed, ready for the day before the sun has come up.  I’m reminded of just how lucky I am to be in this place and in this time.  I think about how lucky all of us are when we finally allow God to gently push us toward the places where he’s waiting to be discovered.  Not a whole lot of us choose to leave that path of easy, normal, and nice, the one covered in rose petals and lined with solar-powered lamps.  But for those of us who do, we really and truly are the lucky few.

If you are looking for a book to warm your heart, read Heather’s words.  But, be sure to have a box of tissues nearby because those happy and grateful tears are truly difficult to avoid!

  

christmas in chicago

It started in a casual conversation leading to I’m booking tickets to Chicago.  Because, if I am being honest, we needed it.  We wanted to escape the grind of our daily life.  The hustle and chaos that enfolds raising our little loves while juggling our marriage, jobs, and home life to recharge and focus on what is most important this Christmas season.  Being with the ones you love.  But, as anyone with children know, traveling with kids can prove to be challenging at times.  Like the night we were having dinner at Gino’s when one kid started to throw up, the other kid decided to stand up on his high chair with a mouth full of pizza yelling ho ho ho, and drinks spilling all over the table simultaneously.  And, you look at each other, take a deep breath, and you charge on.  Because, traveling with kids is crazy.  Yet, I would never have it any other way!  We made a promise before Noah entered our world that we would never stop exploring this big, beautiful world.  Sure, it will take us twice as long to do anything throughout the day, but seeing the most wonderful places this world has to offer and experience it with our kids by our side is priceless.

After learning what does not work, we are able to travel with a bit more peace with our little ones with these few successful tactics:

  • Pick up a few new and fun items in the dollar aisle at Target.  We used to do this when traveling with Noah, and he LOVED it.  Keep them small and simple!  (Activity books with crayons or colored pencils are perfect.)
  • Pack a few snacks in a container like this one with some snacks that are ones they have seen in the past mixed with a few new ones.  Yogurt raisins were a huge hit on one of our traveling adventures.
  • Smile really big and ask those kind strangers to trade you for a aisle or window seat in order to get a little more room (if you get stuck in the middle seat).  If anything, show off that sweet child of yours for extra leverage.  Most of the time, if we have been separated on our flights, we had people trade us seats to be next to one another or give us a seat with a bit more space.  Face it, nobody wants to wake up from a quick snooze on the airplane with a cute, sticky finger up your nose (true story).
  • Squeezable pouches are my jam!  They are great for holding over your child when they are hungry.  And, so fun!  Nikhil is obsessed with them when we brought a few to Chicago.
  • Whoever created window clings is pure genius!
  • Small books are excellent!  (Noah and Nik are both little bookworms and can look at books for hours.)
  • If you can schedule your flight over nap times, DO IT!  I repeat, do it!  I can say more than half of our flights with the boys have fallen during morning and/or afternoon nap times, which are great ways to keep us sane on those longer flights and even enjoy watching a movie or reading a book.
  • As a last resort, load up your iPad or tablet to have a few good shows/movies that are some favorites of your littles.  This has been our saving grace during our more challenging flights!
  • We are still learning after four and a half years of traveling with kids.  But, we have learned if  all else fails, get a glass of wine or a cocktail, take a few deep breaths, and embrace the craziness.  For the most part, everyone around you understands what it is like to have let alone travel with kids, and they, too, have tuned out those lovely baby/toddler cries.  And repeat the words of the sweet Emily Leygrace, not perfection, in your head.

That being said, a couple of weeks ago, we ventured to the Windy City!  Chicago at Christmas time was without a doubt, absolutely magical with my loves.  And, even though, it was crazy at times, we are so glad we were given the chance to create some amazing memories with our boys and venture through the big city!  I think we may have found a new, yearly Christmas tradition to start as a family.

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Cheers to being a forever wanderluster with my sweet, little crew!

  

letters to nikhil: happy first birthday!!!

Dear Nikhil,

We are in shock.

Because here we are.

Celebrating your first birthday!

You are ONE today, love.

One.

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This was easily the fastest year of our lives.

You came into this world quietly in the early morning hours.  

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Since that very beautiful day, you have acquired a fun and BIG personality.

Just like your big brother.

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You have a laugh and smile that is absolutely contagious.

Our bad day blues get chased away with those big eyes and giggles of yours in a heartbeat.

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You are a dream second babe.

You have a reserved and quiet side.

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Especially when you watch us run around and play in the evening with your big brother.

You find any way to contribute to the fun we have as a family.

You are brilliant, sweets.  It amazes us how quickly you pick up a new skill.  

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Sharing gives you the greatest joy.  Toys, food, and kisses.  It lights up our hearts.

Many moons ago, Noah whispered his wishes for a baby brother…

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He was praying for you long before we even knew of you.

The day you were born was the day you blessed Noah with a best friend for life.

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He loves you an incredible amount.

The kind of love that makes us stop in our tracks and thank God for blessing us with the two of you.

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You are CRAZY about food.  We still have yet to find something you do not like to eat.  It makes us laugh daily how quickly you dash to the dinner table for your meals.  

You are fearless.  It is both terrifying and amazing to witness.

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The way you walk with confidence even when you are still learning to balance yourself will never get old to us.  

All your firsts are just as amazing to experience the second time around.

You are absolutely HILARIOUS.  You can send the three of us in a fit of laughter with your expressions.  

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You were never one to snuggle.    

Until the last few weeks.  

You know us.  Our hearts.  Our love.  

You melt into our arms.  It is an indescribable feeling, sweets.

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They are our favorite kind of moments with you.

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You taught us this past year that our dreams can change.  

Into dreams that we never imagined.

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And, they end up being better.

Far better.

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You have lit up our lives.

You have made our home full.

You are the perfect missing piece we had been praying for our family.

Thank you.

For giving us hands down the best and most humbling year yet.

We love you something fierce.

Happy First Birthday, little love!!!

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xoxo,

Daddy and Mama (and Noah)

  

good reads: only love today

Up until three weeks ago, I was a mum who was on survival mode.  Who was knee deep with her priorities in the wrong order.  Who was in the middle of a dark battle between envy and jealousy.  And, who forgot the simple joys life has to offer in those in-between moments.

Enter Only Love Today.

only love today

I started this lovely book in Florida.  And, I owe her writing my overwhelming gratitude because that one week of our vacation gave me the chance to connect, embrace beautiful moments, and change my life for the better.  It may seem a little dramatic, but it is the truth.  Her words still echo in my heart.

Only Love Today opened my eyes to the way I love my three boys.

It made me slow down.  As in REALLY SLOW DOWN.

To watch my oldest smile as he sleeps soundly.

Or to see the tiny dimples that form on the cheeks of our sweet, baby boy when he is happy.

Or to notice the way his eyes dance when the boys and I come to greet him at the front door each day after work.

It made me realize to appreciate each of their strengths and to look past their flaws.

To accept my four year old as a wild little boy who is full of spirit.  Because that spirit is going to lead to something great.

Or to take the extra two or three minutes to let him splash in the bath tub and experience the amazing things that happen when you just let him explore.  Like hearing his sweet laugh.

Or to love everything about his quiet and steady heart because is it those same attributes in which he leads our family and keeps us safe each day.

I had an epiphany on our bike ride last weekend.  I could spend these next few years rushing.  Rushing to get to the next part of our day, to the next location, to our never-ending destination.  Or I can stop.  Choose joy.  Jump in a puddle holding his hand.  Snuggle our baby when he is teething in the middle of the night.  And, laugh, as in really laugh, about the silly moments of our day with my best friend.

I realize this life.  It is going by quickly.  When I think about our sweet, baby boy turning one, part of my heart aches that I spent much of his first year living in a state of worry and daze as I tried to make being a mama of two look perfect.  But, then I realize, much like Rachel Stafford, it is never too late to stop.  To change.  To say enough is enough.  To let go of perfect.  To strive for grace.  To say yes to the ones who hold the best pieces of your heart.  And, to say no to everything else.  Because when I am ninety years old, I will never care about how clean the house was, the clean dishes in the cupboards, the kind of car I drove, the way our home was beautifully decorated, and the kind of career I had and the money I made; no, I will ONLY choose to remember the people I love-the relationships I invested into that led to lifelong friendships, the countless memories I shared with the one I am lucky to call my better half, and the children, grandchildren, and possible great-grand children who will remind me daily how truly precious this life is.

To anyone who is struggling to remember what matters most in life, read her words.  They will change you and leave you feeling an indescribable amount of peace.

This book.  It was the kind you want to hug at the end.  To say a silent prayer of gratitude to both God and this beautiful writer.  And, to promise yourself, everyday may not be great.  You are going to make mistakes.  A lot of mistakes.  And, you NEED to forgive yourself for those mistakes.  But, always choose to be mindful and present.  And choose love.  Because let’s be honest, love never fails.