Every new milestone, I just can’t grasp. I feel like you should or will be little forever. I’m not used to having this “normal” baby/infant/toddler grow and change without putting in so much effort. I’m not used to a baby just eating anything and everything I give her. I’m not used to her pushing her bottles away and wanting a cup. I’m not used to you going to sleep without a bottle…and never, ever being rocked to sleep.
Juliette, you’re 15 months-old-now and you’ve been pushing away your bottles since before you were in the hospital with pneumonia (since before you were 12-months-old). You’ve been ready. I haven’t. And you’ve never required us to rock you to sleep. You’ve been a self-soother since birth. How?
Since I stopped breastfeeding with you at 3-months-old due to horrible postpartum depression, I had to come to terms with the guilt of formula. But you are thriving! THRIVING! You eat, eat, eat and I love it. I love how I can grab anything and everything at the grocery store and I don’t have to worry about you breaking out into hives.
Josie was on toddler formula with a bottle until much after 2-years-old. She was so hard. She couldn’t eat anything (allergic and hated food, period), she didn’t eat anything (so so so so picky!) and it’s always been a struggle with her to this day. Most of my day with her is spent saying “take a bite!” “eat your food!” “hurry up!” It was a much different and harder world with her. She was this incredibly smart and happy (always happy) baby, but she was difficult when it came to her the nutrition she needs.
You make having a baby seem easy. I thank God for that. I feared another allergy child. I know we aren’t in the “clear” yet. But the majority of allergens, you’ve managed to prove to me that you are not allergic.
I don’t want to forget so much about you, sweet Julo!
I love how you curl up into our necks and hug us tight. You’re very affectionate and I love that. I love how you reach up and point to me and whine like you want me to hold you.
When I say milk, you know what it is.
When I say water, you frankly search for it and if it’s not in sight you do this “ugh ugh ugh!” until someone grabs it for you.
When I put you to bed a month ago (and nap earlier in the day) and you just laid down without a fuss and no bottle that time, (as I tried and tried to get you to take but your little hands always push it away and you shake your head no-it’s adorable), I quietly walked out your door while you shoved your face into your blankets (which you LOVE) and stood outside your door. A small part of me was sad. Oh my baby!
You are growing up.
You’re not a “baby” anymore…
You’re a toddler that just wants to walk but your sister won’t allow it.
You’ve taken a few steps but your sister has so much jealously it’s hard to compete.
The amount of sass your sister has is almost exhausting.
Night time rocking was my favorite things to do with your sister. She had to be rocked to sleep, with a full 12 ounce bottle, every single night until she fell fast asleep in my arms and I’d quietly walk her over to the crib, (which is now your crib). I love to watch her sleep and play with her blankets like you now do. I loved to watch her peacefully and know she was safe in our arms and drift away to sleep.
You’re so different.
You, just like Josie, have always been a great sleeper (12 hours+). You have never woken up to be fed or changed in the middle of the night like most babies. Josie would wake up in the middle of the night and poop. You have never, ever done that. I thought Josie was easy. But you make this look so much easier. If it wasn’t so hard handling you two while you’re both together, I’d probably be pregnant or trying to get pregnant again with another.
Josie never gave love and affection as a baby. She never cuddled her head up into my neck or wrapped her legs tight around my waist…
You do. This is something special to me. Especially when you do it and say “awww”.
I can’t imagine having anymore babies right now because most days are crazy and exhausting. But these are the best of days. My favorite days with Josie (at this age) and my favorite days with you. It is just so much fun watching you grow and change.
It’s been hard to get you walking, with your sister always right there knocking you down, playing and jumping, laughing and intervening. We try to explain that we’re trying to get you to walk but she just doesn’t get it. She will continue to push you down and play. And you both laugh and I stand there thinking “Juliette is never going to walk”.
You started pulling up on furniture right after the hospital. I was worried you’d be delayed. It’s so hard not to compare you both but both of you are completely normal but are doing each different thing earlier or later then the other and at your own time. You crawled much earlier but are going to walk much later. I’ve always been one to let you girls do each milestone on your own. Most pediatricians would tell me to work with tummy time, work with this, work with that, etc. That just wasn’t me. It wasn’t enjoyable to watch your baby like a fish out of water screaming bloody murder while you torture them on their bellies. You’ll do it at your own time. When you’re ready. And you did. And you started crawling (so dang fast!), then pulling up, then standing up from sitting all on your own! In just a day! You’ve managed to stand all on your own! And you know you’re doing it and you are so proud of yourself. You stand for a good 3-5 seconds before you plop back down. I know, sweet girl, it’s a matter of time before you take those steps and you’re all over this house. The best part…you started standing for the very first time while we were FaceTiming daddy…so he got to see it for the first time with me.
So forgive me for being a little sad about these moments. I miss the newborn baby days.
You and your sister both love each other so much, but fight just like sisters. Most days I’m utterly exhausted from the screaming, fighting, stealing of toys, not sharing, etc. but again, there’s SO much love between you two. When you cry like you’re hurt, Josie is right there feeling it with you. She needs to give you a hug, a kiss and tell you that it’s okay (even though you can’t quite understand yet). And when she’s just a little bit too rough and knocks you down and you bump your head (another loud excruciating scream), she quickly feels bad (you can see it in her actions and her emotions and her eyes) and says “I’m sorry. I’m sorry baby sister.” She’s a sweetheart and such a handful. There is just so much love in this house.
I dreamed of you when Josie was your age. Because I wanted you two to have each other to play with. I wanted you two to have that bond only sisters can have.
Juliette, you’re growing too fast. My heart cannot handle all these changes lately. Please just cuddle up into my arms just a little while longer. I will cherish that, but once you even grow out of that, my heart will hurt. But I know you will also replace it with something much more abundant and loving, I know it. I’m so excited to see you grow and change. It’s so much fun!
I love you sweet, sweet, sweet Julo. You are Gods great blessing to our family and we are thankful and grateful for your strong willed, affectionate and sassy personality. You are our Rainbow Baby, after all.
To know you is to love you. For you are one of a kind. For there was only one you, to love me. For there was ever only one person to love me deeply and faithfully…and that was you. It’s always been you…
I still remember that rainy warm night in Michigan, in the field of South Middle School as we ran and laughed at each other, with each other, careless and free. We were walking through the open field, then suddenly my phone (Verizon flip phone) started playing Phil Collins: Groovy Kind of Love, in my pocket. We still never knew how this even happened. Either way, that became “our song” that night. God was watching. He was smiling. But I can’t say he was smiling bigger then I was that night, because that was pretty hard to compete with. I remember texting you on my way home that night and telling you that my face hurt from laughing and smiling so much.
Just to be with you was pure bliss and my entire body tingled. You always had that affect on me, since I was only 11-years-old. So young, I know; but I knew! I really, really knew! THIS is what love feels like. You were a gem to be fought for. And boy I fought (ask anyone from my childhood days). You were one of a kind. And I was determined to make you mine forever. The fight was tough. But eventually, I won. You were the prize of my lifetime. I’m so lucky to be your wife.
Phil Collins has always reminded me of you and I…(our story, our childhood, growing up together-you were my best friend since I was 11-years-old), yet at this stage in life, here we were in the field of raindrops, being 20-something-years-old now, walking home from JB’s Place (the local bar of walking distance). We both stopped and stared at each other as my phone started playing (“what was that sound?”). After realizing it was my phone, you said: “will you dance with me, Stacy?” Just you and I, in the middle of the field. It was so quiet. Just us and the music. It started to rain harder. You didn’t see my tears. I’ve never been more happy in my life. It was warm and humid. We both laughed and thought it was the craziest thing. It was then that we fell to the grass in laughter, only to stop and look around and realize that this is the very school we went to together as we were just little kids trying to “fit in”. This was the school we walked together to each and every morning, not saying a word to each other because we dreaded school. This school is where I became more then a just that little girl–I fell deeply and madly in love with my best friend. You were my ride or die. My sneak-in-my-window-at-night friend. This is the time where I was nominated “Most Fun to Be With” and won, because of you. These were the days of “is-that-Bobby-Sock-under-your-bed”? You were my “let’s-makeout-because-there’s-nothing-else-to-do, friend.” my “let’s-ride-our-bikes-to-town, friend.” my “I’ll-hop-on-the-pegs-of-your-bike, friend.”. The “let’s-carve-our-names-in-the-Belleville-lake-bridge, friend.” You were my “stay-the-night-at-my-house-every-weekend, friend”. We spent every single day together. Every holiday, every Halloween. We caused so much trouble that to even look back makes me cringe to tell our children one day. We were always together-day and night-maybe because you didn’t want to be home with your family and I didn’t want to be alone with mine, I don’t know. But we found each other and discovered things about one another only you and I know. It’s like a secret little world we have. A little piece of Heaven. You’d knock on my window at night, crawl in and we’d never say a word to each other some nights. We’d just sit on my futon together. It was company that was needed, silence. Sometimes no words needed to be said. Although, at the time my heart was screaming ‘I love you, Bobby’. You got me.
As kids, we were always outside, even in 4-foot of snow. We’d make snow forts, igloos, build snowmen and we played hide-and-seek in the neighborhood. Every Winter day felt like a snow day back then. We’d roll big balls of snow and barricade the street and laugh as cars had to turn around because they couldn’t drive through. We snuck into the pool and went night swimming in the summer in our underwear. We put shaving cream on Larry’s house and turned on his faucet behind his house. We used rolls and rolls of film in my 35mm camera to only never be developed. We discovered fun and trouble like kids do. And I fell in love with you. All of you. Every bit of that 11-year-old-boy over the many years we grew closer and closer together. I fell in love with how you loved me as your best friend. How you were the first knock on my door each morning or just walked in through the door like you lived at our house. How you’d raid our pantry and take all the sweets we had. We eat all the Schwans ice cream my mom had just bought. You hugged me when I’d cry over a boy. You’d watch movies with me on week days and play Crash Bandicoot, Rush and Mario Cart together on the weekends. We’d order pizza and 40’s from Benito’s pizza and devour every last bite. We’d rehearse verses from Austin Powers. We’d play D.A.R.E in the midnight hours, as we cuddled up in the back of Mike’s pickup truck with piles of blankets while just staring up at the stars. We’d dance the Macarena naked in front of the clubhouse. We’d laugh, we’d fight (oh man, we fought), we’d forgive (very quickly). We discovered kissing was our way to escape the pain of our childhood. We went roller skating every single weekend together; never, ever missed one night. We talked–ohhhh, those talks. We fell deeply in love. I knew it. Yet, you didn’t then. You were still so young. So scared of that feeling you had for me. What in the world was it? Everyone else knew it. We were always ‘Stacy and Bobby’. I’ll never forget the night that you told me that I was irreplaceable. It’s engraved in my memory like it was yesterday. Sitting on the railing outside the clubhouse garage-you said: “I know we’ll find a way back to each other one day. Maybe five, maybe ten, but we will; because you’re Stacy and you’re special to me.” I’ll never forget those words that day.
Growing up with the pressures of high school, the groups of friends you had (that I didn’t approve of) and the groups of girlfriends I had (that you didn’t approve of), we managed to destroy our once close bond into a pass-a-please-forgive-me-note between classes. I cried over you countless times in the bathroom. Skipped school and walked home alone. My heart was broke for so many years as we drifted. But I was still waiting and ready for you. All of you. Even as I grew older. And I have always been ready to give you all of me. You became my Bobby. My ‘Umbro Bumbo’. I was your ‘Lisa Frank Bitch’. You were my everything. My soul mate. God’s reason for me to keep pushing and make something of my life. I always had this voice in the back of my head “what would Bobby think?” before I did something.
I thought about you after I left Belleville after my Junior year of high school, and I wrote you letters. As with time and with the advance in technology, we found each other again. Although, only a few years passed between us, (with some much needed other relationship experiences-thank God for those!), we managed to pick right back up where we left off. We were always so good at that. My love for you never disappeared, no matter where life took me. Because you were one-of-a-kind, unique. You had my heart. You knew the real me. You understood me. There need not be any explaining or telling you where I came from or why I am who I am. You stole my heart and never gave it back. And today, I thank you for that. And in our lives today, you still get me. You still love me and spoil me beyond what I deserve most days.
Thank you for being my person. Thank you for loving me wholeheartedly for who I am. All of me. Because you know me…the real me. Thank you for providing us with this beautiful life we have. This beautiful home. Careers we love. Two beautiful daughters…thank you for giving me two beautiful daughters to love. Thank you for doing this while parenting thing with me. You really are an amazing father. Thank you for never ceasing to amaze me with your ability to still give me butterflies with your beautiful brown eyes and just the touch of your hand. I love you Bobby. You may go by ‘Robert’ now, as we are grown, but you’ll always be MY Bobby. And everyone who has grown to know us since we were young, knew you were mine. They knew “Stacy and Bobby”, always.
Happy anniversary my best friend. I love you so deep, it hurts. You have me, all of me, forever. And I know that I have you too. And that’s not something everyone can say about their marriage. We have something special, something rare. A real bond that insecurities have never existed. I admire that about us…
Baby, wouldn’t you agree, you and me have a Groovy Kind of Love…
One of my most memorable moments of us in those days, was when you stopped traffic in downtown Ann Arbor. You took my hand and walked me out into the middle of the street. You didn’t care about traffic or how they (surprisingly) patiently waited for us to move. You didn’t care that people were watching. It was just you and I. Christmas lights surrounded us. Snow was coming down faster then people could shovel it. It was a moment to remember. You asked me to dance with you. Right there! In the street! You hummed music into my ear as you twirled me around in the snow under the stop lights. We laughed and ran back to the sidewalk. And with disbelief, I couldn’t believe we just did that. It felt like a movie (The Notebook—we were The Notebook!). You had a knack for being so romantic and adventurous. It was so much fun. I felt like my heart was going to explode. I can still feel that moment. What a beautiful memory to have.
I remember we got snowed in that year. It snowed so much that we had to walk to downtown. It snowed so much that our cars were buried under the snow and after two days of non-stop snow, we had to dig them out. The best part was being stuck in Ann Arbor, with you. The best part was having to call off work because there was no way to leave. The best part was being stuck in your apartment as it came down inch after inch until foot became foot. It was beautiful! And so much fun! I loved every minute of it.
Riding in your car, windows down, sunroof open. The warmth of the Michigan summer nights, blasting the sound track to this movie. I love how listening to these songs (now) is like a capsule back into time. The feelings that I felt those days, reignite. I thank God for those moments. They really were the best times of my life.
When I lived back in Michigan (home), all through Christmas my dad would complain to me about how much money he spent and how broke he was and then come Christmas expect me to gracefully accept a $100 check without feeling incredibly guilty as his daughter. I never wanted him to be broke! He always claimed he was so miserably broke. Christmas is about children and celebrating the reason for the season: God and family memories. It’s not about gifts. We were all already given the gift: LIFE! And I’ve always said that even in my younger years. I’ve often reminded him the same. Yet, the message my grandpa emailed me a few months ago still lingers in my mind. Again, the guilt they both instill in my mind. To them, I’m still a child, their child…
And apparently to them, I should have never showed up to Christmas at their house without a gift to give in hand because “they deserved it because they did so ‘much for me'”. —truly sad way to think this time of the year.
You should never do that to your child. You should never make them feel like they need to come into your home during a holiday with gifts in hand, even if it’s just a cheap scarf from Walmart. That type of guilt is just ugly and God knows this is not the way it’s supposed to be. This is not the reason for the season.
Especially as college students, swimming in debt (that they never, ever helped put us through as parents-by the way), you’d think they’d “get it” and have some sort of understanding. My mom did-she always understood. My dad? Never. And it’s apparent now that my grandparents felt the same, or at least my grandpa did. I can’t speak for grandma since she is no longer with us anymore.
Even now as we are older, with jobs and bills, we still have debt. Student loans, especially. We provide and live for our children because we will always have bills. We will always owe someone money. There will always be a payment to be made. But as if this is anyone’s business, really. It’s just madness on my mind, I call it. Crap that shouldn’t have to be explained but always feels better to get it out. In Texas you can get a big house for a good cost. It’s different here.
And as a side note: I never asked for a big house, fancy cars or designer purses. I’m pretty simple and basic. Born and raised in a trailer park, has made me (as an older adult) appreciate the things I have and I take care of them. I cannot tell you the last time I bought myself a pair of shoes. My winter boots are falling apart at the seams; yet, I still buy for my children. Because the sacrifice I made when I had them was that they come first. In ALL circumstances. I buy my clothes from Target. I despise the mall. And I always go straight to the clearance racks. My tight ass dad taught me that (that’s a good thing, though!). I don’t ask for or wear fancy jewelry. I don’t ask for the best of the best vehicle to drive. I don’t drive a Lexus, Cadillac, or BMW. I drive a Toyota mom van (basic version-which I love) that I begged to trade in my fully loaded Honda Pilot (leather, sunroof, GPS, DVD/Bluray, Towing package, etc) for. I don’t get manicures, and if I do it’s a rare occasion (a holiday is coming up and we’re taking family photos). I get pedicures now only because I don’t have the time to sit and do them myself anymore with two kiddos in tow. Which I’ve always, always preferred to do them myself-anyone that knows me can tell you that. My nail polish collection is insane (haha). There’s no “me time” anymore unless you want to count grocery shopping at the 3 to 4 different stores I have to go to in order to get all the food our allergy sufferers in this household require. That, my friends, is what costs us a pretty penny. The food that goes on the table…
I buy for my kids.
And maybe I go overboard? Maybe we go overboard? Maybe I need to step back and allow them to realize the true value of having something nice. Maybe I need to start them young? I’ve done a lot of thinking lately.
As a child growing up in a trailer park, attending high school in a low income community, I mostly borrowed and wore friends clothes who’s parent would buy them brand names from the mall.
One Christmas before I got my driver license, I remember my mom being able to buy us clothes (a lot) from American Eagle. I finally got my blue puffer jacket that I’ve been begging for for that winter season, some jeans and a ton of shirts. It literally felt like Christmas. I took care of each and every single one of them.
Anyway, my point is that Christmas is about celebrating why we have Christmas. Some people don’t even know what we’re celebrating. Can you look around at your beautiful lit tree and the presents under your tree and the lights on the houses outside and ask yourself “why are we celebrating this holiday?” “what makes it so important?” “what is the true meaning of Christmas?”
It is our duty to continue the real reason Christmas is celebrated. And it is our duty to explain this to our children.
It is not our duty to guilt people into spending money they don’t have or going into debt because gift giving has taken over our society as a norm. It’s truly sad. I mean, even Thanksgiving is ruined each year because shopping suddenly became more important then spending it with family.
I hope ya’ll have a very Merry Christmas this year and I hope that you get to spend it with amazing family members that deserve your presence. I know that God has blessed me this year with the opportunity for my family to come visit us the season. To celebrate what Christmas is all about: family.
What this beautiful video for the REAL reason for the season: