How can my Sweet Baby Girl be Six Already?

How can my sweet baby girl be six already? No matter how many times I try to grasp the sands of time a little harder, be more determined to be more intentional, the days just keep running away with my heart.

Six already? How can my sweet baby girl be six already? No matter how often I try to grasp the sands of time a little tighter, be more determined to be more intentional, the days just keep running away with my heart.

I’ve started writing these birthday letters to my daughter. I email them to her at an email address that will hold various letters, memories, pictures until she’s an adult. I hope that it will be a precious gift to her someday.

Dear Sweet Girl,

You quietly turned six tonight as I kicked green and orange balloons into your room and wove streamers around your bed as you slept, made a curtain of crepe paper outside your door, hoping this so unPinteresty midnight effort is magical enough to delight you come morning.

I didn’t plan ahead very well because we’ve been traveling, and I’ve been in denial that you’re turning six already! I wish I could extend your precious five year-old days just a bit longer.

Not quite a baby, not quite yet grown, but six already? How time has flown! Click To Tweet

Five was a magical year to watch. Your imagination blossomed. I loved watching you twirl around the yard, a butterfly fairy princess one minute, and F5 tornado the next. You spent hours quietly creating mythical lands in our tree beds.

I am awed and moved by your heart for others. You were convicted by a sweet friend with cancer to share your hair with children who have lost theirs.

I was convicted by you.

So we are growing our hair together to donate to Wigs for Kids, (if you’re interested in helping us fund a wig click on this link) and I admire you for not giving up even when your hair is painfully tangled or takes forever to dry. I’m confessing here that I may not make it. I’ve got at least 3-4 more inches and it’s driving me crazy!

How can my sweet baby girl be six already? No matter how many times I try to grasp the sands of time a little harder, be more determined to be more intentional, the days just keep running away with my heart.

At 5 my daughter decided to give her hair away, help us give a wig https://goo.gl/255Ejz Click To Tweet

I meant to make salt dough hand print ornaments while you were five, but my busyness kept me saying next week, until there were no weeks left and you were closer to six than five.

Five was the year you really started to read, devouring books and street signs in equal measure, the world offering up its printed secrets, including you in the literacy club.

Momma, does that say ‘body shop’? (you asked flying down the highway) Yes, yes, it does. What do they do in there? Wash your body? cuz that’d be weird.

You made up words like ‘fantacular’ and ‘hugantic’ and learned to count all the way to 100 without getting distracted at 67.

You lost three teeth! And cheered in the New Year for the first time at midnight.

You’ve tied your own shoes a few times now, but aren’t ready to toss the Velcro sneaks away. You LOVE jokes, but don’t quite understand how to tell them. But half the fun(ny) of your jokes now is just wondering what you’ll say.

You lost your first pets. It broke my heart to watch your mourn these tiny creatures, but I know that you’ll need to build faith and strength for larger losses as much as I wish I could shield you from them.

You are simultaneously so adult and still my baby, mindfully taking communion for the first time one day (You didn’t know to wait and popped the bread in your mouth. When I made you take it out, you said, but MOM, at the last supper, they ate the bread!) and the next believing your tongue is covered by taste bugs. Tonight, you told me that you only say pasketti to be facetious. Oh, the contradictions in your sweet little self.

Not quite my baby, not quite grown, but six already, how time has flown!

This letter has sat half-written for a week now because I can’t quite come to grips with how fast time has gone. I’m trying not to be sad, reminding myself of all the parents wishing they could watch their children grow up.

You feel it, too. Babydom is ending. You’ve asked for my help more often in the past two weeks than the past six months. Mommy, pick me up out of the tub. Carry me to bed. Let me sit in your lap.

And I say YES! because you’re six already . . .

and I’m already struggling under your weight. One day, too soon, I’ll start to scoop you off the couch to whisk you to bed, and won’t be able to lift you.

Needing my own nap yesterday after hours in the sun at the lake, I was so tempted to let you take your own bath, but I wasn’t ready for you to not need my hands in your hair, filling the bathroom with the scent of baby soap, giggling together over your slippery belly bubbles.

You won’t need me this way forever, or even very much longer.

This morning, you Spider Monkey leaped onto my lap, nuzzling my cheek, talking about the wonderful clock tower dream you’d been having. I sat stone-still absorbing your now sixness before you hummingbirded away. These sleepy snuggles are growing more infrequent and more treasured.

I’m doing my best to live in every moment, steep in the richness of your imagination while reality doesn’t dampen even the most outlandish fantasies (you’ve been half-lizard this week).

I may sometimes miss documenting events because I’m enjoying the moment with you, but I hope you know how deeply you are loved. I’m treasuring every step of yours towards adulthood and every second of your childhood.

I'm treasuring your every step towards adulthood and every second of your childhood. Click To Tweet

You also love spending time with Daddy, doing daddy things with bugs and dogs and outside fun. Daddy is teaching you to fish and not be squeamish about hunting. You can almost pull back your own pink bow. And I’m glad, though those aren’t my things, because you have a dad that loves you who is sharing special time with you, building character and bravery into you in ways I cannot.

I can’t wait to see what adventures and lessons six has in store.

 

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Thinking Outside The Pot

I Disappointed my Daughter for Christmas

Yes, I deliberately disappointed my daughter for Christmas, and I think it was the right decision. But it was so hard to stick to my guns. Am I a mean mom?

Yes, I deliberately disappointed my daughter for Christmas, and I think it was the right decision.

But it was so hard to stick to my guns.

She had asked for a $5 set of orange and blue ponies with hair to brush and braid, a minion toy, a Barbie that rides a horse that really walks, and a big white horse like her friend has.

Every night for a week before Christmas, she reiterated her list.

I had shopped for her gifts months ahead of time. All the gifts were bought and wrapped. There would be no big white horse under the Christmas tree. I had disappointed my daughter.

My mommy heart wanted to search every website, race to the store, and spend more than I should just to see her overjoyed face Christmas morning. Yet, something said, no, this is a small lesson you can teach her now, for free.

Be happy with what you have. Disappointment brings a grateful attitude not an entitled one. Click To Tweet

We aren’t wealthy, but despite living on one income, we’ve been tremendously blessed to provide her with more than she could ever possibly need.

And she doesn’t understand real want.

I wonder if I’m doing her a disservice by not giving her more realistic expectations for life or age-appropriate growth opportunities.

She had fairly simple requests, but she didn’t need both horse toys. Her Nana had already bought her the Barbie Horse toy, and I didn’t want to overshadow it.

Plus, she was getting a pots & pans set and “Live” pet bird along with boxes of books, clothes, and educational games. She was getting too much already. I wanted fewer toys to spark interest and creativity, not overtake her imagination.

After all the gifts had been opened and we passed around the cards on the tree, including the White Envelope, I asked her, “Did you have a great Christmas?” I wondered if she even noticed.

She looked at the stack of presents around her, her face falling just a bit.Yes, I deliberately disappointed my daughter for Christmas, and I think it was the right decision. But it was so hard to stick to my guns. Am I a mean mom?

I disappointed my daughter for Christmas.

“Well, I didn’t get a big white horse . . . ”

“No, instead you got a tan horse with a barbie. You can’t get everything you want all the time. Maybe another time or you can save up for it.”

She wasn’t devastated. She was disappointed, for a rare time in her life.

And it was good for her. Learning to control her emotions is one of her personal challenges. One unnecessary gift gave her a chance to deal with disappointment on a tiny level and successfully overcome it, gain perspective, and learn to be grateful, not entitled.

While chasing the ethereal ‘perfect’ Christmas for each of my children, I forgot to consider the expectations and lessons I was teaching them. Getting everything you desire for Christmas isn’t reality. It’s commercialism.

Focusing on what really matters (Christ, family, friends, togetherness) is the lesson I really want to teach.

As I watched her process her emotions, she looked up and said, “It doesn’t matter. Jesus is the best gift of Christmas anyway.”

Lesson learned – for both of us.

A Kiss and a Prayer

How are we okay with this fragile life? How do we say goodbye without any guarantee? with A Kiss and a Prayer - Heaven Not Harvard

As a wife and mom, my going out after dark days are mostly behind me, but last night, a friend and I decided to live dangerously. We went to see War Room at 7:15 and have dessert afterward.

For two mommies of littles, it was going to be a late night. We were out past 10, yo!

As I was getting ready to walk out the door, it occurred to me I had no guarantee I would come home. Our highway into town is notoriously dangerous, especially in the dark.

None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. Always say goodbye with a kiss and a prayer. Click To Tweet

I could be walking out this door for the last time. I wasn’t maudlin, just mindful.

Even though I had been racing to leave, I looked at these two precious people and paused. I took a deep breath and looked into my daughter’s eyes, “I love you, baby girl.”

Then I walked around to my husband, I held his face, kissed him and thanked him for watching our daughter so I could go out. He kind of poo-pooed me, like it’s his job, but I was grateful. His job and life are so hard that when he takes time to do things for me, for us, it is truly a big deal.

I left with a kiss and a prayer.

As I walked out to the car, I didn’t know what led me to that moment, but I prayed for God to remove any worry from my heart, and to keep reminding me what a fragile life we lead so I truly treasure each moment. I thanked Him for the peace of knowing that whatever I had done or been up until that moment was all I could do, and started the car.

The drive to the theater and home were without incident. I was more mindful of my blind spots and speed than typical, but nothing happened. The house looked exactly like it had when I left. The kiddo was zonked out.

I cradled her head and kissed her face, silently praying, “Thank you for bringing me safely home, Lord.”

How are we okay with this fragile life? How do we say goodbye without any guarantee? with A Kiss and a Prayer - Heaven Not Harvard

 

And I went to bed. The next morning, my daughter woke up early and came stomping into our room.

“Why didn’t you check on me last night?” Her little nose crinkled in dramatic anger, playfully thrusting her tiny fists at her sides.

“Of course I checked on you. I always do. After turning off your fish tank light, music and lava lamp, I kissed your face and hugged you. I tried to wake you, but you were out!”

She was mildly appeased. “Well, okay, but I wanted you to wake me up because I was praying you would make it home safely.”

Oh, my heart! To hear her taking her worries to God just like I did was such a humbling moment.

I smiled, and said, “me too,” wrapping her in my arms, savoring the feel of her cheek against the hollow of my throat.

Someday, it will be the last kiss. I have to live everyday as the best witness I can. Click To Tweet

Someday, I will kiss her and her father good-bye for the last time. It might be tomorrow, five years from now, or 40. I won’t ever know when, so today has to be enough to show her who I am in Christ and so she will always knows how much I loved her.

1 John 3:18 ESV  “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

When that day comes, I want to know I loved her in deed and truth well enough to give her the most important thing I’ve ever found, a faith in God.

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To Homeschool or not to Homeschool, that is the question!

Trying to decide if homeschooling is the right answer for our family. Weighing the pros and cons is hard when we don't know all of the potential results of either choice. Heaven Not Harvard

To homeschool or not to homeschool, that is the question! Whether it is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of playground bullies, or to take up workbooks against the common core and by opposing – teach common sense. Oh to wonder no more, and by making a decision, to say we end the heartache of forever scarring our children by choosing incorrectly. . .

Okay, that Hamlet allusion was probably only amusing me. My students either loved or dreaded Shakespeare units. I always started with a Monty Python-esque British accent and Hamlet’s soliloquy, attempting to inspire them to love the bard.

I was a dedicated public school teacher for 17 years. I hope my students look back and feel I was part of a good argument for sending your children to public school.

But myself, I’m not so convinced. We live in an area that has an emerging school system. Things are improving, but not quickly. We’ve really been torn about whether we should homeschool.Trying to decide if homeschooling is the right answer for our family. Weighing the pros and cons is hard when we don't know all of the potential results of either choice. Heaven Not Harvard

Part of me feels like I’m cheating her from the childhood experience of “the first day of school”, making friends, and meeting other adults who might love and nurture her in a different way than I do.

Local pre-registration for next year is already finished. We chose not to enroll her at this time, but I still struggle with the questions of whether homeschooling is the right choice for us, for her.

I feel like I’m sitting on the fence, making my Pro/Con list without really being able to see all the items on either side of the list.

Trying to decide if you want to homeschool? Here's our pro/con list that made our decision… Click To Tweet

Pro Homeschooling

  1. She has recently been labeled as possibly having ADHD. Homeschooling would allow me to build in wiggle time between lessons.
  2. I can also teach her to deal with her attention issues in a way a classroom teacher wouldn’t be able to in a classroom with 30 other unique children.
  3. She can learn at her own pace, allowing for remediation or enrichment activities and additional subjects, like Spanish and art that our area school may not have.
  4. We can schedule piano lessons or doctor appointments during the day, leaving more time for family in the evenings and weekends.
  5. We can create our own calendar and schedule, which allows us to take breaks when her brothers visit, when her dad has a random day off from the army, or when we want to travel to visit family or friends.
  6. We can reduce or eliminate bullying.
  7. We can control her introduction to the adult subjects of the world. I don’t want to shelter her so much as mindfully guide her using our faith to give her the tools to navigate the world.
  8. I get to watch the world unfold for her. Watching her learning to read for herself has been absolutely magical. Everyday she makes a new discovery, like learning she has a super power.
Here is my pro/con list from our decision about homeschool. To homeschool or not to homeschool? Click To Tweet

Con List

  1. She is the center of my attention all day, every day. She doesn’t learn to take turns or be patient with others.
  2. She misses out on the good memories of making friends, giggling on the playground.
  3. As her only teacher, she may not learn to respect or deal with other authority.
  4. As her mom, our relationship is different, she pushes back at structure and discipline with me in a way she wouldn’t at school.
  5. I have to sit with her during every lesson right now. It is time-consuming and challenging.
  6. Can she learn to be independent if she spends all day with the safety net of Mom and home? Will she be too attached to me?
  7. I can’t seek paid employment while homeschooling, which is difficult for our budget.
  8. Will my attempts to create curriculum be successful and meaningful?
  9. Will playdates and co-op be enough to socialize her? Will she learn social skills as a primarily only child being homeschooled?
  10. Will I have the patience and temperament to make homeschooling a fun adventure instead of daily drudgery?

Stepping into this new realm as a homeschooling parent is less terrifying as a teacher, because in some ways I’ve been teaching her since she was born, but it puts so much responsibility on my shoulders for her social and academic success.

Are you a public/private school parent or are you a homeschooling parent? Are you a product of homeschool? Please share your thoughts and ideas for me.

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The Last Night You Were 4: Birthday Milestones

Turning 5 is one of the hardest birthday milestones for mommas as much as a celebration for our children. Read my touching letter about watching her turn 5.

Turning five is one of the hardest birthday milestones for us mommas as much as it a celebration for our children. Five marks the age children move away from infancy to school age and take their first steps into the world. It was also the hardest birthday for me as mom.

A few days after her 5th birthday, I emailed this “The Last Night You Were 4” letter to my daughter that I wrote at midnight on her birthday. She has an email address waiting for her to grow up, full of pictures, stories, cute sayings and letters like this.

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Dearest Daughter,

On the last night you were 4, I did something strange you may not yet understand (wait ’til you’re a mom). But watching you turn 5 is strangely hard. It marks the end of your preschool days. You are now my little girl instead of my baby.

On the last night you were four, I cradled you in my arms in your nursery rocking chair. Your legs draped over my lap and onto the floor. Your head took up roughly the same amount of space your entire body did the day we first met you.

I read to you the first book I ever bought for you. I had read Guess How Much I Love You to you every NICU visit the first week of your life. Then I read, On the Night You Were Born.

Both books speak to the wondrous, precious gift you are to me, to our family. Then we said your prayers, and I tucked you in. I gave you just a few extra hugs and snuggles and walked out of the room, trying not to feel the swirling emotions that risked falling from my eyes.

But at midnight, as you turned five soundly sleeping, I tiptoed to your bedside. I scooped you into my arms and nuzzled my cheek next to yours. Listening to your sweet, still babyish noises of half words and sighs, I smelled your hair fresh from the bath, and kissed your velvet cheek. “Happy Birthday,” I whispered as tears sprang to my eyes.

Every Day was a precious gift.

I will never get back a single moment of your infancy, those rushed and panicked days when I was just learning who you are and how to do this mom thing.

5 is a milestone for mommas as much as for our babies! Read my touching letter to my daughter. Click To Tweet

I will never get back those first steps videotaped on a broken camcorder. I will always remember that you learned to run on vacation, making circles around Grandma’s house, pajama pants on your head.

Never again, will I hear your first word. Babies all say da da da. Does that count as Dad?  Very early, you mimicked ‘bye’ to everyone’s surprise when I dropped you off at daycare, but didn’t start a trend of talking. You were my quiet girl…

Until you weren’t.

Now we can’t get you to be quiet most of the time. You tell everyone how to drive, which is hilarious and infuriating. You want to know everything about everything. And I love it, even when it wears me out. You make me tell you stories over and over.

I miss holding you on my chest while you napped. Those months of just resting in letting you rest on me were too fleeting. I knew it would go too fast, and tried to memorize the weight of you on my shoulder, the sound of your tiny snores, and your angelic sleep face.

Turning 5 is one of the hardest birthday milestones for mommas as much as a celebration for our children. Read my touching letter about watching her turn 5.

I don’t want to hold you back, just hold onto these moments a little longer.

You’ve already started losing the babyish silly ways you would say things. I’m struggling to hold onto them as you start maturing. You still say pasketti and hosipal and yogrit, but baboon for balloon faded years ago. I don’t want to hold you back, just treasure each tiny part of your being tiny just a little longer.

I watch you playing softball and see you starting to pull away towards your friends just a little bit. But my heart still leaps for joy when you race towards me as if it’s been weeks, when it was only an hour.

Your tiny hand grows in mine imperceptibly slowly everyday, so I hold it as often as you will let me, even when you’ve been playing in the red dirt of the ball diamond, compounded by sticky fruit snacks.

Dear Daughter, I don't want to hold you back, just treasure every moment a little longer. Click To Tweet

You are beautiful in so many ways: the way you have one curl of stubborn hair in the middle of your forehead that refuses to be tamed or grow, the way your eyes sparkle when you really smile and laugh, the way your heart is full of love and kindness for others.

Turning five is a milestone for us mommas as much as it is for our children. Read my touching birthday letter here.

You are already not my baby anymore, and I’m trying to be OK with that. I’m not really, but I also love the new level of conversations we can have. I love watching you tackle a task that used to be daunting and conquer it with ease. You don’t need me quite so much in the minutia, but will randomly get “stuck” in a shirt that is too tight around the sleeves. I think you sometimes ask for help because you like knowing I’m there to help just as much as I sometimes still like to be asked. Sometimes, I think you’re just trying to avoid going to bed.

On the last night you were 4, I was grateful.

Grateful beyond belief that you were alive to turn five, healthy and strong, smart and powerful, creative and kind. It was bittersweet to welcome in a new era of childhood, one of more independence for you and more letting go for me, but I couldn’t imagine wishing for anything more than getting to be your mom on this journey.

The last night you were 4 was bittersweet, torn between old memories and new adventures. Click To Tweet

I have things I would do differently if I could do them over. Remind me to hold you close and listen to your hurts when, as an adult, you remember my less than stellar moments. Since time travel isn’t actually possible (despite your current fascination with the subject), I can’t have a do-over. Instead, I keep trying to get it better next time. Yet, as you keep changing, I have to keep learning a new set of rules, a new way to love you.

Which is hard because part of me will always see that teeny tiny little bitty in the NICU when I look at you, even when you turn 40 because that is what moms do.

These birthday milestones reach into my heart and beg time to slow down.

And watching the clock change as you went from 4 to 5, made me realize that no matter how hard I try, I can’t really hold on to every memory. They start to fade and slip away out of my conscious mind, but every one is etched into my heart.

I have never known a person more intimately and completely than I know you, and I can’t wait to see what 5 has in store for you. I love you all the way up to the moon and back, sweet girl and have since the night you were born.

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