Friday, March 14, 2014

Oh, hi!

Dear Zoe,

It really has been a ridiculous amount of time! I loved reading about your life, about Sofia, about your pregnancy. To answer one of your questions, I have also not kept up with writing, to the point that this feels strange to me. It really is something that requires practice. I actually feel like stopping and watching a TV show since I have a rare moment of Eiley napping and my work phone not ringing. I'll resist that urge and update you instead because I've wanted to update you for months now. I'm going with a random list though:

  • My hair is short. I like it when I dry and straighten it, but when I don't have time for that, it's too short to put in a ponytail. I've been sporting pigtails. I probably look ridiculous - a 31 year-old with pigtails - but I secretly love it.
  • Eiley is so fun when I am well-rested! She sings, she laughs easily, she is creative, she's observant. However, I've noticed that if I am tired I get impatient easily and then we just spiral downward into timeouts and general meh-ness. It's easy to tell when it's mostly my own attitude messing with things because Eiley will eventually say "Are you not Grumpy now?" 
  • Margot is significantly more active than Eiley was at this age. This terrifies me. Is Margot going to just constantly flail about? Glad to hear that Gonnit is acting similarly. Maybe it's a second child thing.  
  • I am still working full-time. This is sometimes perfect and other times a huge challenge. Usually depends on whether Eiley is willing to play independently that day or not. I'm grateful for it though.
  • We live in Irvine now, and almost every day I am consciously grateful of that. We have access to dozens of pools and parks, plus a lake, plus a lagoon in the summer. We walk to our Bible study each week because the hosts of it live around the corner. Plus it's just safe here. I love it love it love it. I also swore I'd never live here because it's a little too perfect (I felt it lacked character), but whatever. Got over that.
  • Jeff loves his jobs - he works at one university building online classes (which involves quite a lot of on camera work since his office creates a lot of how-to videos too) and he teaches theater courses at another university. It's completely awesome to see him content in his work. 
  • I happen to like Sofia's name for your baby boy. He certainly wouldn't get mixed up with any other R2-D2 Googol Gonnit Reyeses in his classes growing up. 
  • Eiley and I do like crafting, whenever I can muster the energy and creativity to come up with something. She especially enjoys painting!
Okay, that's all I have. I'm certain there must be more happening in life, but that couch and TV are shouting my name. 


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dear Sofia, very Belated Happy 3rd Birthday

Dear Sofia,

Mommy is a hot mess lately, isn't she? Your birthday was nearly two three months ago (January 4), and I haven't gotten around to my annual letter. But I fear that once your baby brother arrives, keeping up this tradition at all will really be impossible, so I'm aiming to at least get one last letter documented. Maybe after that, you'll be able to understand birthday cards I write you well enough that it won't be so necessary to have letters for future reference.

You've endured so much change in the past year. While you'd already moved from California to Maine, this year, you were aware of a move for the first time. It was hard not to buy this house we're in now, given that after plenty of house tours, as soon as we drove in this driveway you declared, "This is my favorite house!" And while you've always stood by your opinion without fail, you also really loved the house you spent most of your first two and a half years in and are only just now, after being here over six months, starting to really move on. But in this new house, we've been able to start our truly own garden together, play on a play set we inherited from the previous owners, and you've determined two favorite "owl trees" in our woods, which you love to "climb." And by climb, I mean perch in their diverting branches, quite squished up, but happily telling me stories about your life as an owl and all the events that surround your existence. In the summer, we picked wild blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries - which are the tinniest little red and sour things that you still take great delight in - in our own backyard. You have also become fond of our new neighborhood. From our previous house, we could walk to a wooded path, playing fields, a field house, a play ground, the college campus, and you even ran between our house and downtown more than once, insisting you wanted to walk home instead of drive. We're much more removed now, but down the street from us, neighbors have what might have been the base of a flag mast? It is a small rectangular prism a few inches high. An object of such seemingly little consequence. But you have named it "Little Stone" and I think you love that thing with more care and concern than most of the toys you own. When weather used to permit, which included plenty of very rainy days, you would want to walk to visit Little Stone multiple times per day to look after it, feed it, hug it, and I had to pull you away from kissing it constantly. It is hard to keep your child from exuding such genuine affection, no matter how strange the object.

In addition to a new house, you're also getting a new little brother. You've had to put up with a very tired Mommy. You often get upset with me for being constrained to the couch when you want me to be a more invigorating actor in your play, but your empathy continues to shine, as you care for me with compassion and service. While a year ago, you were just barely starting to be willing to use people's names, now you are quite generous with names for all people and things. You've named your little sibling "R2-D2 Googol Gonnit Reyes." I hope you're not too upset when we change his name. You seem pretty amenable to all the ideas we run by you, so I'm hopeful, but I won't be surprised if we all keep calling him Gonnit for some time. You were hoping for a little sister, without a doubt, but you've kindly jumped right on board with having a baby brother. And I know you two are going to have so much fun together. I can not wait to witness it. You have been demonstrating to me your sweet big sister skills with our friend's baby brothers, especially your buddy Charlie's little brother, Henry. We see him multiple times per week for our homeschool preschool co-op. We're always having to pull you off of him because you have even more kisses for Henry than you did for Little Stone, and Henry's not quite so willing of a recipient, as it often means his space is being invaded and he's often being squished under your love. Last week, you stared into his little eyes and told him, "Henry! You just fill me with so much love!" And I about teared up. I know Gonnit will burden you and demand more sacrifice from you than Henry, but I trust you will also find ways to love him even more deeply. It tends to work that way with difficult things.

This past December, you had to come to grips with death for the first time. After a long drawn out struggle with strokes, pneumonia finally took my Grandpa from us all together. The morning I heard the news, I hid out in the office, crying and writing, trying to process what has been one of the most significant events of my own life. You knew him too. You'd played with him several times, and even though he was far apart, and largely without language by the time you came around, you two shared a sweet connection. But mostly, I think you knew in your heart all he meant to me. When I resurfaced for breakfast that morning, you were very concerned by how sad I looked and the tears that wouldn't stop streaming down my face. Not wanting you to be scared, I did my best to explain to you what had happened. Somehow, despite the fact that you weren't quite three at the time, you seemed to possess a wise and deep understanding of the significance of that morning. With calm, quite, sincere eyes, you looked deep down into me with compassion. You jumped right out of your chair, ran to me, and hugged me and told me how sorry you were that he had died and I was so sad. When I continued to cry later that morning, you jumped into action. You ran over to Daddy, grabbed his hand, and placed it into mine, saying, "Here Mommy, I brought Daddy to comfort you!" You knew just what I needed. I worried so much about bringing you to Texas when I traveled there for the funeral, but you were so flexible and cooperative and did so much good to lift everyone's spirits with your beautiful, hilarious, loving self, that I feel rather confident things would have been much worse off without you.

Following your first encounter with death, a few weeks ago, you made a decision for yourself to choose life. In the middle of an ordinary day, during a very ordinary lunch, while Daddy had already finished and left to start washing dishes, you struck up a conversation with me about whether God dwelled in your heart. And on that day, you chose to run toward Jesus so that He would gracious remove all your sins with His forgiveness and allow you to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. It was simple, quiet, undramatic, and one of the most treasured conversations you and I may ever share. Your decision has come out of many things, including your fascinating curiosity to understand whatever Mommy and Daddy are talking about, and your obsession with the Jonah story. He chose to run from God at first, but unlike him, you are choosing to run to God instead.

Probably of all Bible stories we could read to you, you request to hear that one most often, and are most full of questions about it. As I think of it now, I relate that story to my own decision to come to Jesus too, as it was after a Vacation Bible School week themed on Jonah that I asked my own mother many of the questions you asked me. Funny. But your questions are such good ones. Through your repetition and teasing apart the details and comparisons between Jonah and other stories we read, I've learned so much through you. You've helped me see the link between Jonah on a boat, asleep in the middle of a storm, to Jesus, also asleep on a boat in the middle of a storm. But while Jonah had his companions throw him overboard, Jesus calmed the storm with His authority and power. Your strong will, frequent refusal to sleep, persistent attempts to put foreign objects in your mouth, and general toddler-hood often make our life feel like a storm, but your perceptiveness and light and compassion and joy also help us remember that even in the midst of storms, Jesus is Lord. And I am so grateful that you've made Him the Lord of your life.

We are learning much together through preschool too. We have a homeschool preschool co-op with your buddies Charlie, Lili, and Phoebe. Our three families get together twice each week for crafts and calendars and stories and play and snacks. We are having the time of our lives growing closer to these friends and watching all your many skills blossom. Right now, we are doing a space unit that has you and I making "out space crafts" even in most of our spare time apart from actual preschool sessions. Your favorite thing is talking about the phases of the moon, especially when we go out at night as a family to see what phase it is in that night and what constellations we can see. You are full of stories of the adventures of Orion the Hunter and what he gets up to when he's not up in the sky.

In addition to preschool, for the sake of all our sanity, we've instituted a daily morning routine. 1: Wake up 2: Breakfast 3: Family Time for God 4: Numbers with Daddy 5: Letters with Mommy. Whittling away in all these things, we've seen you grow by leaps and bounds in your capacities. You are dressing yourself, helping set and clear the breakfast table, growing in knowledge of scripture and Bible stories and ability to listen and hear from God. You can reliably count to 29 on your own, by 5's or 10's to 100. Your favorite number is googol. You're learning to write your letters and are getting better every day. You've already started to spell words [must be your daddy's genes], and are reading beginner books when you feel properly motivated. It seems like the greatest lesson we're working on in letters is more about perseverance than anything else. But even if you face challenges, you manage to blow people away with your vocabulary, depth of understanding, and hilarious wit. You wow us, Sofia.

Despite the business of life and my own overwhelm with pregnancy, our days are filled with awe over how wonderful and delightful you are, what a blessing you are in our lives. I could never comprehensively recount all the truth and weight of this in detail. Thank you for being in our lives, for being our precious daughter.

I love you, Baby Girl!
~Your Mommy