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emily crall blog

April 2, 2018

FILED IN: Personal

My sweet girl,

Shortly after you were born, I read something that referred to the first few months of life with a newborn as the “100 days of darkness”. They’re hard, those 100 days. Keeping a tiny human alive, wild hormones and #allthefeels (anxiety, guilt, sadness, joy, pride, rage), the sleep deprivation, a healing, postpartum body that feels strange and foreign and saggy, the loneliness that hits at random times, but especially during the middle of the night, the mental wearing of dealing with colicky cries, the knowledge that your life has irrevocably changed and you have to figure out how you fit in this world again. Those first 100 days are hard.

But.

Perrin_3Months_EmilyCrall_Photo_0095.jpgBut then it passes. The 100 days slip by in a haze and suddenly, one day, you realize you’re on the other side (or technically speaking, we are almost on the other side; I guess we are only 90-some days in right now but close enough). The tides shift. It becomes easier. It feels more doable. The bad days are fewer; the good days more numerous. We sleep again, full, restful nights of sleep. You smile at our crazy sounds. You coo in response to singing. You chew on your little fists in the most adorable, drooly way. You look around with smooth eye movements and are curious about everything you see. You become less fragile and more stable, holding your head upright and pushing yourself up on your hands. You become less fresh and more human.

It’s the most wonderful thing, making it through those hardest days. The best thing about a second child is that, even though it’s harder in many ways trying to juggle it all with multiple kids, as a parent, you also know it will become easier instead of just hoping that someday it won’t be so insurmountable. And with that thought in mind, I’ve been counting down to 3 months since a few moments after you were born. I knew it would be hard; I remembered it so well from when Henry was little. But I also knew it would become easier.

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Perrin_3Months_EmilyCrall_Photo_0097.jpgI’ve continued lugging you to the gym and you sleep in the carseat while I work out. Now that you’re three months old, you can start going to the gym daycare and I’m admittedly a little nervous about it. Henry will give me a full report, I’m sure.

He loves to go in before me to get you up from your naps. He turns off your sound machine, turns on the light, and goes over to your crib and starts talking to you. You love it. “Perriiiiinnnn. Hiiiii little Peanut. Did you sleeeeeep good? I think you did. Your mama is coming.” And you smile at him like he’s your hero.

You love laying on your play mat and kicking at the piano keyboard to make music and batting at the toys hanging overhead. Your little fists have become your favorite chew toy and they are constantly in your mouth.

You haven’t taken to your pacifier like Henry did. We use it occasionally to calm you down, particularly when you’re tired, but you have to be in just the right mood to actually suck on it and, even then, after a few minutes, you push it out with your tongue because you’ve had enough of it.

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Naps are finally getting better. Though you’ve been sleeping through the night since 7 weeks, naps were a constant struggle where you’d only sleep for 30-40 minutes and then wake up crying and couldn’t settle yourself back down. The last week or two have shown significant improvements though and you will sometimes nap over 2 hours now. Unfortunately, it’s not at the point of being guaranteed yet so I can only semi-plan things to do (clean the bathrooms, reply to emails, workout on the spin bike, schedule client calls, go play outside in the yard with Henry, etc.) with the knowledge that they might be interrupted. But we’re getting there, slowly but surely.

With your age and development, your personality is continuing to shine. You’re a fairly relaxed little baby now and you generally don’t fuss unless you’re tired, hungry, or overstimulated. In fact, I can always tell when you’re ready for your naps simply because you start to get fussy.

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And so, my sweet girl, three months have passed and you have seamlessly inserted yourself into our family, making it nearly impossible to remember what it was like before you. We are whole. We are complete, the four of us. You were just who we were waiting for. You have been absolutely worth every tear shed, every sleepless moment, every throbbing headache, every doubtful terror.

Loving you has been such a pleasure. I am breathing in every moment with you and loving you more than I thought possible. You are my joy.

I love you.

Mama

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Weighs: 12 pounds, 1 ounce
Loves: your play mat, music & singing, being held upright, having people talk to you, cooing
Wears: 0-3m in clothes, size 1 diapers (size 2 overnight)
Sleeps: 8PM-8AM + 4 naps a day (two long ones and two shorter ones in the late afternoon and evening) 
Previously:
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March 2, 2018

FILED IN: Personal

My darling girl,

I knew it would happen like this; the longer you’re here, the more I love you. The first weeks were hard—really hard—and there were times when I loved you, but didn’t really like you. Love is like cement though; malleable and a little sticky at first, but absolutely permanent once it sets. And it is long set by now, sweet girl.

You’ve started smiling and cooing and, as I predicted, your smile is beautiful. I’m just so excited to hear more and more of your voice and see your personality shine.

Perrin_2Months_EmilyCrall_Photo_0085.jpgWe moved you from sleeping in your rock-n-play to your crib at 7 weeks. I was really nervous about the transition, but, exactly like your brother back in the day, you swapped over without even seeming to notice. We also switched you from your weighted swaddle to a zip-up swaddle (because you kept getting your arms out of the swaddle) and that too went much smoother than I had thought. Sometimes the things I’m most nervous about are the easiest and the things I don’t even consider being an issue end up being the hardest.

You are my little gym buddy and I’ve been lugging you along to my HIIT classes since you were 2 weeks old. It’s conveniently timed during your nap so you mostly just sleep in your carseat though you occasionally need it to be rocked or jostled a bit. You’ll be able to go to the child care room once you’re three months old and I hope you’ll do okay with that. Your brother will be there too and I’m sure he’ll keep any eye on you.

Speaking of Henry, he’s grown to love you. When you were first born, he was very much uninterested and even dejectedly said once, “Ohhhh. She’s still here.” Now he loves to go with me to get you up and clambers up the side of your crib to lean over you and say, “Good morning, Perrin! Did you sleep good?” When you’re laying on the play mat, he constantly goes over to talk to you (right in your face, always!) and check on you. Just a few days ago, I was in the kitchen, you were on your play mat in the living room, and Henry was bouncing between the two, telling me, “Mama, I’m just going to check on Perrin.” He’s sweet and protective and all of that has happened in the last several weeks. Just a couple days ago, he wanted to help feed you your bottle and he also requested to take a picture with you, both were firsts for him. He will continue to be the best big brother and I can’t wait until you start laughing at his antics because it will just send him into high gear to make you so happy.

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Perrin_2Months_EmilyCrall_Photo_0089.jpgSleep has become really good. At five weeks, you shocked us by going almost 9 hours one night (you slept from 10 PM to 6:45 AM!), but then you dropped back to consistently going 5-6 hour stretches, waking once a night, usually around 3:30. But at seven weeks old, you surprised us again and started sleeping all night (10 PM to 7:30 AM). You must be competitive because when I mentioned last month that your brother slept all night starting at 12 weeks, you kicked it into high gear to beat him. Thank you for that. (Though I still wake up around 3:30 AM to phantom crying in my head…and then I have trouble going back to sleep, thinking you’ll wake up any minute.) There were 4 nights of all-night stretches and I’m not sure if it’ll stick or if you’ll go back and forth between an all-nighter and a wake-up, but if you do wake up, once you’re fed, you go back to sleep.

This week has brought some warmer temperatures so we’ve spent afternoons outside, going on long walks to the park. I wear you in the Tula carrier and put Henry in the stroller and off we go. The bouncing of my walking puts you right to sleep. The fresh air has been good for all of us, especially since Henry got a cough last weekend and I’m trying desperately to keep you from picking it up.

As much as I’ve been counting down to 3 months, I’m also shocked at how fast time is actually going. I’m glad for it at this stage, but once we hit that magical time post newborn stage, I know I’m going to be like, “Stop. Now it’s time to slow down.” But it doesn’t. It never does. So I’m just soaking up the cuddles and the way you loop your arms around my neck when I carry you and your soft little cheek against mine when I rock you. You’re my favorite little girl and you always will be.

I love you to the moon and beyond, my sweet baby.

Mama

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Weighs: 10 pounds, 2 ounces
Loves: your play mat, music, being held upright, having people talk to you
Wears: 0-3m in clothes, size 1 diapers
Sleeping: all night most of the time (!), with an occasional early-morning feed (usually sometime between 3:30-5); bedtime at 7 PM with a dreamfeed bottle at 10 PM and sleeps until 7:30 AM
Previously:

This was how almost all of the photos turned out. You weren’t in the mood.
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And this is the one where Henry wanted to jump in with you. You’re not so sure about it.
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Real mom life:
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February 2, 2018

FILED IN: Personal

Hi my sweet girl,

It’s been a whole month, 31 days, since you were first placed in my arms, screaming like your world was ending. In a way, I guess it was. Everything that you knew, all the warm, cozy, whooshing sound of my womb, was instantly replaced with cold, naked, bright, and foreign. You were born in a whirlwind, one moment I was resting in the hospital bed and 5 minutes later, you were in my arms. You’ve been taking us for a roller coaster ride ever since.

I’d be lying if I said this past month has been easy. In some ways, I was more prepared for this stage than I ever was with Henry (because there’s nothing that can prepare you for that first time newborn experience), but in other ways, I realize I had blocked a lot of my memories of the first weeks with him because they were just so hard. So while I rest assured that I know it gets easier this time (I truly thought at one point with your brother that the rest of my life would be like that; I felt hopeless), I am also making it through one day at a time thinking, “Wait, you’re only 4 weeks old? How can we speed this up?” I know we will make it, but, girl, the making it is really hard sometimes.

I hear others saying they just want to slow time down and bottle up this newborn-ness and I’m over here like, “No thanks. Let’s move along, please.” And I’ve realized that it’s okay for me to feel that way. I felt so much guilt with Henry about the newborn stage and truly thought I wasn’t cut out to be a mother because of it. But then he got bigger and it got better and better and better and I realized that it’s okay for me to have a stage of my children’s lives that I’m not good at. I know I’m not good at having a newborn, but I also know that I am good at having a 4 month old. So I keep pushing on, doing the very best I can with you (rocking, bouncing, feeding, shushing, singing, burping, #allthenewbornthings) because I know my thriving days are coming. They are just up ahead.

One of the biggest struggles that I didn’t know how to prepare for is the balancing of two kids. Your brother is 3, very independent by your standards, but also very much needing me still for daily life. And you are 1 month so absolutely dependent for everything. Being so needed is both an honor and a weighted load. Some days I want to just crawl into bed and hide under the covers and hope that no one will find me. And then other days, I’m up and ready to tackle whatever hits us. I am constantly looking around at other parents with 2+ kids and saying, “Look at them. They’re doing it. If they can do it, we can too.” Because that comparison is my only encouragement on the hardest days. Seeing others thriving (or, at the very least, surviving) makes me feel like I can too.

Now, all of this talk is so heavy. I wish I could just talk about unicorns and rainbows and cuddles. But I feel the responsibility to be honest and so this is my honesty.

Amidst all of the difficulties of taking care of a baby, you must know, my darling, that you’re so loved. My struggles as a mother during this stage of your life are no reflection of you. I realized with Henry that I’m not that great during the first few months, but I hit my stride later on and then there’s no stopping me. And while I am so desperately looking forward to hitting that stride with you too, I am in the meantime, loving you with all that I have.

You are perfect. You are a miracle. And the fact that you are ours astonishes me. How did I get so lucky to not only get one child, but two? Not just Henry, but you too?

In this first month, we’ve started establishing a routine. You eat every 2.5-3 hours during the day and, at night, you will go as long as 4.5 hours between eating. It seems like you’re sort of all in or all out as far as good nights go. Either you’ll eat and go right back to sleep at every feeding or you’ll eat and then struggle for an hour to fall back asleep. There’s no mediocre with you. And while I don’t try to compare you with your brother, I’m just here to tell you, he was a 12-hour sleeper by 12 weeks so, you know, if you’d like to be competitive about it, I’m on board.

You are a good eater now that I gave up breastfeeding and instead pump and give you bottles. The first few weeks we struggled with a lot of things. Sometimes you’d eat like a champion and then sometimes you’d fight the entire time. It was exhausting and draining in a way I can’t even describe, made even more so with another child to also take care of. Somehow you gained a lot of weight though and you were already a pound over your birth weight by 2 weeks. You are now 8 pounds, 7 ounces!

Your cheeks are getting chunkier (oh, the sweetest little cheeks to kiss!) and you’re slowly starting to fill out those twiggy little legs and arms. I hope you get little rolls soon. You’re still in newborn clothes, but I know in the next month, you’ll be advancing to a new wardrobe.

Just like you have good and bad nights, you also have good and bad days. The good days are so wonderful. They are the breath of fresh air that I need. The bad days are no fun, but I am constantly reminding myself that you are so new to this world and it’s totally normal for you to be overwhelmed so I’m trying to give myself the same grace that I give you. We will conquer this vast world together, my child.

You’re growing and changing and I’m checking off the dates on the calendar just as quickly as they come, but I’m also trying to lock away some of the little memories that I love, like the way you stretch your arms overhead and arch your back when I unwrap your swaddle. Your little eyes squeeze shut and you scrunch your forehead into little wrinkles and squeak as you reach. I love how you tuck your knees up into your chest and snuggle your head under my chin when you’re falling asleep. I love how peaceful you are when you’re sleeping. I’m convinced that sleeping babies are God’s way of saying, “You’ve got this.”

My darling girl, I am so grateful I get to be your mama. I am excitedly looking forward to all of our adventures together, especially knowing ours will be so different than the ones I have with your brother. Knowing I have gotten two unique gifts makes me want to cry with gratitude. I longed for you my whole life. And now to have you…it’s the most overwhelming challenge and wonderful adventure that I’ll ever face.

I love you, baby girl. I love you more than you’ll ever know.

Mama

Weighs: 8 pounds, 7 ounces
Loves: not a whole lot right now except eating and being bounced
Wears: Newborn in clothes, size newborn diapers
Sleeping: Just starting sleeping 4 (occasionally 4.5) hour stretches at night; we’re all happy about it

Taking pictures is not for the faint of heart; there was a lot of this going on the whole time, with Henry also insisting on taking his own photos. 

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November 21, 2017

FILED IN: Personal

My sweet son,

This past year has brought so many new milestones for you and this next year will bring your biggest one yet, your new role of big brother. You love to feel my belly to see if your little sister is kicking and when I asked you a few weeks ago what you want for your birthday, you said, “My baby sister.” I know getting a sibling will bring many new responsibilities and challenges, but I am so excited to watch you love her and teach her and guide her. She will be the luckiest little girl to have you in her corner.

It is a little bittersweet for me to see age two come to an end. This past year has been the most fun yet and my only hope is that three will be even better because, so far in your life, just when I thought it couldn’t get better, it always has. It’s hard to recap a whole year worth of childhood in one letter but I’ll do my best.

Before your second birthday, we ditched your pacifier during the daytime, limiting it only to the crib. This year, we got rid of it completely. You were very attached to it and we expected it to be a huge deal, but somehow, you completely surprised us. I think due to teething (molars?), you kept biting through the pacifiers and I was finally tired of buying new ones so when you bit through the last one, we tossed it out and told you that we didn’t have any more. You tried to negotiate a trip to Target to get another one, but I told you no and that was the end of it. You asked for it one more time later than night at bed, but never asked again and have been fine without it ever since.
Knowing your sister is coming at the end of this year, we had a few things we knew we needed/wanted to do: get rid of your pacifier (done), move you to a big boy bed/room to free up the nursery, and potty train you. A few months ago, I started working on your new room. The guest room got a makeover with new paint and a full clean out. We got rid of the full size bed in there and bought you a twin bed. I had so much fun taking some of the items you already had and adding to them to turn your new room into a more grown up room for you. When the room was done, you immediately asked to sleep in your “big boy bed” and, though I was nervous about it, I let you take a nap in there that day. You were given strict instructions to stay in the bed and, in the same manner as the pacifier situation, you breezed through the transition without any problem. You went to sleep on your own and stayed in bed even when you woke up early from your nap, just reading books until I came to get you. That night you wanted to sleep in there again so we tried it and, same! You’ve been in your new room ever since. You’re so proud of it.
Knowing we were 2 for 3 in successes for what we had thought would be challenges, we approached potty training just 2 weeks ago with some hesitation (as least, I did!). I can’t say that you’ve been 100% successful, but you’ve also done far better than I expected you to do and you’re so proud of yourself (as you should be). By the second day, you were telling us when you needed to go (some of the time; the rest of the time was by your “potty watch” timer going off) and by a week in, you started having dry diapers overnight. We continue to try to be consistent with it and are so proud of how great you’re doing!

When you turned two, you were hardly talking, saying only a few words (I think we counted maybe 4?). Our pediatrician, though not worried, advised that we meet with a speech therapist just to get some tips. So this past January, we had our first meeting with a speech therapist. It took a few weeks for you to get comfortable with her and then you just started bursting with words. Your perfectionist tendencies were in full view as I watched you become confident enough to try and, as soon as you knew you could do it, you didn’t stop talking. After just 6 months of twice monthly sessions, you were able to graduate, something we were told rarely happens that quickly. You are armed with a plethora words and are constantly surprising us with your funny phrases (like, “You got it, mama!” when asked to go pick up your toys and “Oh, dear me.” when you drop something). Just last week your friend came over and you were so excited you started jumping and shouting, “I am jumping for joy!” You like using big words like enormous and exhausted. It has been so fun to hear your brain in action and watch your imagination explode.

You still love books and I suspect and hope that you always will. We try to vary our lineup by going to the library a lot and I’m so looking forward to our second year of doing our Christmas book advent calendar. You have many of your books memorized so sometimes you will “read” to us and the way you get some complex pages correct word-for-word blows my mind.

 You are 100% boy when it comes to things with wheels. You are obsessed with vehicles: trains, construction trucks (bulldozers, dump trucks, excavators, cement mixers, etc.), garbage trucks, fire trucks, farming equipment (tractors, combines, 4-wheelers, skid-steer loaders), and semis (which you love to count on the interstate from your bedroom window). Your daddy took you on a train ride one Saturday while I had a wedding and we all got to ride the Hawkeye train a few weeks back. You think all trains are the Hawkeye train now and they are all “going to Iowa City!” Grandpa and Grandma’s farm continues to be your favorite place to hang out. You got to ride in the combine this fall and you always beg tractor rides out of Grandpa. If it’s too cold to be outside on the real equipment, you make yourself at home with all the toy tractors and wagons that are inside. It seems like you never have enough time there and you are always sad to leave, no matter how many hours you have spent playing.

Henry, I cannot imagine our lives without you. You have brought more joy and laughter to us than we ever dreamed. I think I imagined that parenting would just be this big challenge (and some days it is!), but I never imagined that parenting would be such a joy and a privilege. Your personality continues to shine and I’m so proud of who you are. We know that we are leaders by example and, though that weighted responsibility is terrifying, we hope to continue to guide you to love others, seek out the lonely, and be respectful, gentle, patient, and kind towards all of humanity. You will never fail if you love God and love others, that I promise you. Your life has purpose beyond our wildest dreams and I am so excited to watch you grow into the plans God has for you.

Being your mama has been my highest achievement of honor. I love so very, very much, my child.

Happy birthday, beautiful boy.

Love,

Mama

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Loves: dairy products, “toast” (french toast bites), Puppy (your stuffed best friend), reading books, playing outside, anything with wheels, technology of any kind, “typing emails” which consists of using a keyboard, singing songs and listening to music, and painting
Wears: 2T and 3T in clothes (you are skinny and tall so it’s a challenge with pants!)
Sleeping: 8:00PM-7:30AM plus 1 nap during the day

September 20, 2017

FILED IN: Photography

Their sixth anniversary is coming up in less than two weeks (one of the first weddings I had photographed!) and, this year, they have a whole new level of thankfulness, respect, and love in their household. After years of struggling with infertility and a journey through doctor’s appointments, egg retrieval, and embryo transfer, there was a positive pregnancy test. I was so honored to document the tail-end of Lisa’s pregnancy at their maternity session in July and I got to step into their newborn world a week ago and photograph their beautiful little daughter, Vaida, in a lifestyle session.

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November 21, 2016

FILED IN: Personal

My sweet child,

Two years ago on this day, I finally saw your beautiful face for the very first time. It was surreal and wonderful all at the same time.

When you were born, you didn’t cry. People say that babies should always cry when they’re born; that’s how you know they’re okay. But you just looked around, eyes wide, strangely calm and curious about your new world. Someone—a nurse?—placed you in my arms and we looked at each other, you and I, as I quietly introduced myself: “Hi Henry. I’m your mama.”

Those beautiful moments in the first few hours gave way eventually to sheer exhaustion, hormonal tears (even uncontrollable weeping at times), an achy, healing body, and a fear that I could never be all that you deserved. Those first many weeks are a hazy memory, a foggy time in my life where I remember very, very little except that I was so tired all the time and my even my brain hurt to try to think.

Hitting the 12 week mark was huge for us. You started sleeping through the night, my body felt normal again, and our routine was fairly smoothed out. I finally felt some confidence in mothering and that made a huge difference in how I approached each day.

I now have 2 solid years of mothering under my belt and I wish I could go back and tell the early version of new mama self that it would get better. It gets so much better. Sure, we are now entering the stage of tantrums and big emotions and a strong will, but this is still far easier for me than the newborn stage was. Back in the beginning, I remember having swings of panic thinking, “What have we done? I can’t do this big, important job. Is this how the rest of my life will be?” And I’m not at all perfect at it now, but I do know that somewhere along the way it became truly fun. And when my mentality changed from my new role being a burden to being a joy and an honor, I allowed myself the freedom to truly let go and mother you in the best way I could.

These past couple of years, particularly this last one, have been the best of my life. I remember feeling like we hit a huge milestone a year ago. One year old! So many things became easier. But if I felt relieved to hit one year, I feel sad to hit two. You see, this past year has been so wonderful that I don’t even want it to end.

You do so many things now that make me think you’re far older than you actually are. You have a tendency to walk around with your hands clasped behind your back and it makes you look like an old man out for a stroll in the gardens. You love to lay on the floor on your stomach with your hands propping your chin up while you read books or play with your toys or watch a show. You look like a teenager when you do that. The other day, you were watching your favorite kid’s show (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) and suddenly I couldn’t see you on the floor anymore. When I finally spotted you, you were sitting on the couch, propped up among the pillows.

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You have always loved reading. We’ve been reading you books since you were a baby. And though you now beg to play with technology (iPads, phones, the TV…everything), you still love reading books. When we go to get you up from your nap, we’ll often find you laying in your bed, quietly “reading” books that you’ve pulled off the shelf and into your crib. You go in spurts where you’ll obsess over one book for several days, begging to read it over and over and over until we are all sick of it. Currently, it’s “Bread and Jam for Frances”. Interspersed with sing-song rhymes about jam, we read other favorites like “The Snail and the Whale”, Little Blue Truck”, “Dancing Feet”, “Click, Clack, Moo”, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”, “Giraffes Can’t Dance”, “Sheep in a Jeep,” and “The Pout Pout Fish.”

You aren’t talking yet aside from a couple of words (“cookie” being your first and favorite), but one of my absolute favorite things that you do now is say “yeah”. You say it with such grown-up confidence, like when you bring me a book to read and I say, “Do you want to read this?”, you respond with, “Yeah.” You use different tones for it too so sometimes it like “yay!” and sometimes “duh” and sometimes “okay”. But always “yeah”. I love hearing you talk and I find your little voice to be the most darling sound I’ve ever heard.

We keep your scooter in the house and you ride it around like a champ, careening around the corners like a crazy person, dinging your little bell. You finally like stickers, though it has just been in the last few weeks that you’ve come to terms with them. (They used to freak you out; probably something you got from me as I cannot stand them to this day.) You love going to the farm to visit your grandparents; there’s just so much to do and see there. After a lifetime of coaxing, you finally road the tractor with your grandpa and discovered, oh hey, this is fun! You love all dogs and try to pet them all, even ones that don’t want to be touched. You love to play with anything with button—the remotes, calculators, etc.—and the GoPro recently caught your eye. You held it to your eyes and said “cheeeeee” with a fake smile plastered on your face. It made me laugh so much.

While there have been a few times that either your daddy or I were gone over night, earlier this month was the first time that we’ve both been gone from you at the same time. While we were in Colorado, you stayed with my parents and, aside from a 20-second FaceTime gone wrong, you were (so we’re told) a really great kid, eating well, sleeping great, listening and obeying, and mostly, having so much fun. My heart ached being away from you, but I was so happy to know that you were having a good time. We got home on a Sunday night and drove straight from the airport to their church to pick you up. You were playing on the floor in the back of the church and when you spotted us walking in from across the foyer, you hopped up and started running to us saying, “Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” I couldn’t hold you tight enough.

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We recently weaned you off of your pacifier during the day. It was during a course of a few weeks when you were chewing apart the pacifier wub-a-nubs and I refused to keep spending money on them when you’d tear through them in a day. (Gah, teething isn’t fun, kid!) In a full-sweep effort, we ditched the wub-a-nubs completely and gave you a plain pacifier without the animal attached while at the same time, asking you in the morning to leave your blankie and your “giraffe” (pacifier) in your bed. With theatrical dramatics, you lifted them really high then dropped them down on the mattress and left them there. We haven’t looked back. You still find comfort in having them when you go to sleep, but it’s a relief to be able to leave them in your bed.

Politics have been heavy in the world lately and all of it has made me so much more aware of how intentional we must be as you grow up. I need to be an example for you to follow; I want you to learn what’s right and what’s wrong. I want you to be gracious and loving; kind and forgiving; gentle and patient. You must know that it is never okay to bully someone. It is never okay to talk down to someone, even if they are different than you or different than most people around you. My prayer for you is that you will know God and love people. You will not fail if you do those two things. Your life has so much purpose and I’m so excited to see how it all unfolds.

Henry, you’re the joy of our lives and being your mama is hands down my greatest privilege. I love you so very much.

Happy birthday, my beautiful boy.

Love,

Mama

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Loves: cheese & milk (and anything dairy-related), “giraffe” & blankie, reading books, being outside, watching & petting dogs, playing at the park, anything with wheels, technology of any kind, crawl-through tunnels, washing hands, and playing with trains 
Wears: 18-24M in clothes, size 4 diapers (size 5 overnight)

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