Friday, December 30, 2016

Olivia Layne - 5 Years

My dear, sweet, Olivia,

Yesterday you magically turned 5 years old. In the morning, not long after you woke up, you looked at your feet and exclaimed, "these are 5 year old feet!" How precious you are. As I write this little letter, I'm glancing up at our beautiful Christmas tree that you picked out. I love the beauty of a Christmas tree. I love the wonder of it and the season. I love that you were born at Christmas time. Did you know that I didn't decide on your middle name until I knew if you were going to be born on Christmas Day? If you had been, your middle name would have been Noel. I'm glad that you have your own special day, though. It may seem hard to celebrate a birthday so close to such a big holiday, but it's also very cool that the biggest piece of my heart came to me during such a special, wonderful, magical time of year.

This has been a BIG year for you. You have grown physically, mentally and emotionally. You are a brave girl, always have been. Running, jumping, climbing. Venturing away from the safety of ground. These things have never been scary for you. I love the adventure in your body. I love that you use your arms and legs, feet and hands for all that they can do. This year you learned how to boogie board in the ocean! You learned how to ride a bike! You learned how to tie your shoes! You learned how to do a cartwheel! You learned how to swim! These are no easy feats, my love. But you are determined, and you are brave, and you are smart and strong. And you did them! Of course nothing came right away, but even in the hard moments, even sometimes with tears streaming down your face, you would want to try again. Even when you were angry because you couldn't do it, you would try again. Not everyone has that perseverance. You are going to do great things, sweet girl.

I have also loved watching your mind expand this year. You attend preschool every morning this year and you love it. You enjoy your teacher, and are bummed when you have a substitute, and so glad when she is back. I love that you are happy with the one who watches over your mind as you enter the schooling phase of life. We've been told you are a good student, helpful and engaged. Good for you! I have been surprised at all the things you have been learning socially, too. Making friends, learning about playing with others, seeing how words and actions can be hurtful, figuring out how to be yourself while making sure to be kind to others. These things are just as hard, if not harder, than jumping into the deep end of a pool, or balancing a bicycle. There have been tears from heartache over these tricky social interactions, and it breaks a mamas heart to watch her little girl struggle with friendships. It's a fine line for me to walk, to help guide you as you become a strong, brave, kind, compassionate, independent girl, and not insist that you must do this or that to please this person, that person, or even me. It's been a neat thing for me to watch the journey of compassion and empathy as you get older and develop a bigger heart for others.

You are a total Daddy's girl and LOVE to do pretty much anything with him. You would love to play with him all day, every day. You are also a great helper to him and love to be with him as he works on projects or help him in the kitchen. This has been a wonderful bonding year for you and Cade. You two have been able to play and spend more time with each other and enjoy each others company. I'm glad you'll have some sweet memories of time with him before he goes off to college.

I could say so much more about you and what makes you wonderful. I love to watch you sing and dance. I love to watch you pretend to write things down in your notebooks, and draw cool pictures. You are funny, kind, creative, generous, feisty, stubborn, curious, determined, sensitive and perfectly mine. At age five you are more YOU than you have ever been. My hope is that I can continue to balance on that fine line of guiding you, while letting you just BE who you are made to be. I love you beyond comprehension. Happy Birthday my love.

Monday, December 12, 2016

November 2016

reading with Daddy

Livi is one of the older students in her dance class this year, so she got to help demonstrate

my little teenager chatting with Grandma

trimming the tree! 

ducking her head into the aquarium bubble at LL Bean

always posing

my Fall front porch about to say bye bye

yay, gymnastics finally started! 

a fun fundraiser dinner at Livia's school, with photobooth and all! 

playing at a friends bday party

trying on a rainbow of headbands

before the s@#t hit the fan after election day

girl power! 

trying out classical ballet this year. I can't stop taking pictures of her in this class. too precious. 

just a little bubble catching one fall day

goooooooooo Broncos! (one afternoon we had some chips and dip while the Broncos were playing and Livi said "watching football is so fun!")

setting up Grandpa Smalberger's old Lionel train

helping make the cranberry sauce

annual tradition of making our gingerbread house on Thanksgiving day

Jeff had a totally exquisite turkey recipe this year, which was done in steps over 3 days. It was amazing! 

I couldn't capture a good picture of all three of them at once, but each of these is good of at least 1 out of 3 ;)

Jeff's latest project. Isn't it beautiful? He gave it to Cade for Christmas :)