Selah is 2! (and a Life Update)

Today is a day that forces my hand to the keyboard.  So many of them prompt me strongly, but today I just couldn't resist the prompting any longer.  My baby girls are growing up...fast.  It's amazing really.  Most of the time I feel like I'm along for the ride, thoroughly enjoying the adventure that every new day brings.  Yet sometimes one day brings newness to it that makes my heart lodge firmly in my throat and I have to choke back the tears of losing yesterday to forever.  The only thing that helps me recover is my extreme thankfulness for today.

(Taken right before we moved, during a hot, exhausting packing day)

So in light of my long (yet not unusual these days ;) blogging absence, I think I'm going to have to steamroll the current info. onto this blog post.  Because I usually so desperately work to create perfect little packaged posts that hold all the info and pictures I want in it and not anything else.  But I've been trying that and I keep running into problems with it...not enough long stretches of time or energy to complete them entirely, a computer that is in the crashing stages of life and I haven't been able to upload photos to for a year, and an often lack of emotional energy or discipline to record these precious days.  I sure do miss documenting life on this blog, so I'm determined to make a come back.  But this post isn't about that.  Let me add a quick note to say that I used to care too much about making certain groups of people happy with what I write...but I think that does a disservice to myself and my little ones.  We obviously have rough, plenty of bummer moments types of days, but I usually don't choose to expand on all that when I do memory posts like this.  But maybe on one of those days I'll just spill my guts.  Maybe not. ;)  So pretend I entitled this, "Celebrating My Kiddos."  Well, okay, one thing.  There was that night last week that Kevin must have run an errand, I was giving Zoe a bath and Selah hadn't obeyed right away so I sent her to time out.  Well she was exhausted and got her feelings hurt so she started that dramatic-sad-not really crying-but screaming anyway thing, which in turn prompted her sister to start fake crying/screaming, (those two really seem to stay on the same page;), and it hit me just right that I had to put my head down with the biggest smile on my face.  I just couldn't stop laughing at the moment, thinking about this crazy scene.  This is definitely a far cry from the time Zoe was 10 days old and this happened...I cried with them then!  So things like this happen and most of the time I don't even know what day it is because I feel so exhausted...but I'm thankful to be blessed with that exhaustion so this post reflects that!

(Zoe is growing like crazy and she is a HAPPY child!)

First, the latest with us: we moved to another state and are working at a new church!  I actually wrote all about it about 3 weeks after we moved, and I just posted that and back dated it here.  So that will fill in some blanks and emotions.  We've now lived in our home in IN for a little over 2 months.  It has been crazy, as moving (especially with little ones!) always is.  But we are really soaking up this time as a family too.  It is definitely a bonding experience to move to a place that neither of you have ever lived and learn it together.  We have certainly had our hard, homesick moments, but this post isn't particularly going to be about that.  But I will say THANK YOU to our amazing Louisville community who have prayed us through this transition.  We sure do miss doing life with you, but you are in our conversations, thoughts, and prayers often.  And we are SO grateful for being sent out for kingdom work with such support.  We are also really thankful for the sweet, gracious community here who has welcomed us with open arms.  And God has really blessed us with continual affirmation in little and big ways that He has gone before us here.  Which ultimately brings more peace than anything else!

Our home here is getting cozier and more "us," and the girls and I are honestly having a great time exploring during our days.  There is the cutest children's bookstore downtown that has a train table and story time 2 times a week.  (And a special, longer activity on Fridays you can register for!)  We also have the most amazing 3 story library that has story time a few times a week, and an awesome play area.  Then there's Barnes and Noble's story time on Wednesday where they also have a train table....along with gingerbread lattes and mommy books too!  When the weather was nice her most favorite thing in the world was the "pawk." (park)  She could go for hrs. there.  We also usually make about a once a week trek to Trader Joe's, about a 20 minute drive, which is like a field trip to Selah because she gets her own cart...and she has turned into an awesome, mostly no fit throwing shopper.  I have also become more efficient at getting through the store, and if I keep it to 20-30 min. max we're good.  Don't get me wrong, we certainly don't do all those things every week, but I love the options, and whenever we do any of them it's been a really fun time and a good day.  I think Selah and I both like the adrenaline from our outings. :)  Actually just this past Monday I was really taken back by how much Selah has changed even since we moved 10 weeks ago.  When we first started going to story time here she kept asking for the train to be uncovered and got a little ready for the stories to be over.  But just this week we went in, she sat down on the little carpet square and loved the stories, anxiously waiting for each page to be turned.  So I chose this week to start checking out big stacks of picture books at the library to read throughout the week which my teacher heart has been loving.  And Zoe is totally along for the adventure.  We have quite the system and she lives in my Pikkolo carrier. We both have grown to love that thing. There are also some really sweet, young moms that go to our new church, and we're slowly planning more play dates to get to know them.  But just keeping two baby girls fed, changed, and getting their regular naps while keeping up with the house and continuing to get settled has proved to be all consuming on a lot of days!

I guess what I really want to be writing down for keeps right now are thoughts about my baby girls as they are.  So I should get right to that...

Selah is 2.  She is an amazing, beautiful two yr. old who has captured our hearts and created a whole bunch of joy bursts in there.  We look at her all the time and tell her how beautiful she is.  We actually use the word 'cute' a lot around here, so she does too.  Which is awesome.  She looks at the baby and says, "Cuuute."  Or if I put a necklace on or curl my hair I get the same reaction.  So do furry little animals she sees, so I don't quite know how to take it.  ;)  What a journey we've been on since her baby sister was born.  It has blown me away how awesomely she has jumped into the big sister/sharing mommy role.  Such a beautiful blessing to see her love her life with Zoe in it.  She has always been a nurturing baby lover, with a pretty good imagination for independent play, and it seems those things have helped.  But from the moment we brought Zoe home, Selah has wanted to be with her as much as possible.  The first thing she says whenever she wakes up from anything is, "Bay-bee, bay-bee." She immediately wants to wraps her arms around her neck and smother snuggle her. She can say 'Zoe,' and sometimes even Zoe Joy, but I call Zoe 'Baby' and 'Baby Sister' so often that I think it's always stuck with Selah.  She makes us laugh absolutely every day.  I love it when she says, "Whoops!" if she or someone drops something or if she falls, and "Saw-ree" when it's appropriate.  About a month before we moved, I'll never forget that first moment Selah said, "I do it."  We were in the bathroom and I was helping her with one of her dolls.  It caught me off guard but was so precious.  That was her first sentence.  And the beginning of her language explosion.  One of the sweetest nights of my life was 4 days before we moved for good, after a super fun night of swimming at a friend's house, and I was getting dinner for Selah in the midst of packing while Kevin was out of town, already having started his new job.  I handed her something like a napkin or cup and unprompted she said, "Gank-oo!"  (Thank you)  I got the biggest smile and it totally caught me by surprise.  I have been saying "Thank you mommy" probably after almost anytime I've done something for her or given her something since she started making sounds and words.  It is an amazing moment, as other moms have experienced, when something you've worked hard to train your child in bears fruit.  Amazing.  I have a whole post to write about that night, (and I'd better get to it!) because it was sweet and special, and right on the edge of everything that was to come.  Just one of those sweet spots in the midst of crazy that I desperately needed and meant a whole lot.  Speaking of swimming, I do wish I had written more about that this summer...Selah LOVES the water.  It's really awesome and was so cute to see.  Even in the midst of packing and craziness, I tried to take her to the pool as much as possible.  The month of August was awesome because it wasn't so unbearably hot for Zoe to sit in the stroller and often sleep.  Then at the end of the summer Zoe was big enough that I got her in with us a couple times and she loved it too!  Such sweet little water babies.  We made some really special memories this year in the pool.  Next summer will surely be a blast with them both eager to get in.

A few weeks before her second birthday Selah really started talking about everything and pointing out everything.  It was like all of a sudden we were like, "She knows what everything is!  How long has this been going on?!"  Ha.  These little ones go from baby to big kid in a flash.  She was also saying, "Ma-muh, ma-muh" all the time when she was calling for me or talking to me.  So sweet when she would call for me with this sweet voice from her crib.  How can you resist?  The crazy thing is how quickly she stopped calling me that and went right to 'mommy!'  It was like over night, right around when she turned 2.  It really surprised me that she just changed, so I tried to make her go back.  Ha.  Good luck telling a 2 yr. old what to call you. :)  Then I settled into and accepted we had grown to Mommy.  But guess what little big girl started trying out on me last week..."Mom!!!"  What in the world is happening.  I have no idea where she picked that up but it is funny.  I still keep trying to refer to myself as Mommy, but she firmly goes back and forth.  Today I spontaneously showed the girls a cheer from high school and Selah responded with a calm, "Good job Mom."  Ha!  I've settled into the fact that I just love being her mom and I'll be happy to be called whatever her little heart desires.  So enjoy it while it lasts fellow "mamas!"

Even as I'm writing I feel a little desperate to figure out how to possible capture her exploding personality on this simple computer.  But it's impossible.  Saying things here just sound like facts....but they couldn't possibly capture the life that is in my firstborn baby girl.  Anyone who has or has had a two yr. old knows what I'm talking about.  They are so full of LIFE!  She is funny and silly and loves to play.  She calls other kids, "friends," and doesn't understand when big kids are the nicest, but she's getting more curious about it.  She can play all.day.long.  It's amazing how long she could go without eating or stopping if we let her, especially at a park.  And they have great parks here.  So many places to explore.  She could also sit and watch Curious George for longer than I let her too, so she's definitely a versatile little person.  She has a sweet heart and loves to do things as a family.  She loves to take walks, which we've done a lot of since we've moved.  When we first moved here we went to the children's museum with some friends and she had an absolute blast the entire day.  Couldn't get enough.  I think all the fun things to do and the fact that everything is so close together here has really helped her transition seamlessly.    And I think she was also at the just right age to be flexible and not so attached that she would have a hard time.  Though I know she would be thrilled to visit our old/home church and see the familiar faces that have loved on us so much.  We sure miss them, and certainly have some really homesick days, but are thankful they sent us with many prayers and words/hearts of confidence in the Lord's plans during this next step for our family.

Moving was hard.  Really hard.  It was exhausting to pack and clean, find a new place to live, process leaving our old life, and take care of a 4 mo. old and 23 mo. old at the same time.  It was emotionally exhausting too, and I think I got sick with a bad cold or sore throat in the middle of it.  We tried hard to get together with as many friends and family as possible before we left, which was awesome but crammed our days full at the same time.  Looking back I'm amazed at how Selah adventured through those later than usual nights and kept going with joy.  It is seriously a blur.  The week before moving and the 2-4 weeks after feel like such a crazy time in my memory that I was just forcing myself to physically get through.  Zoe has always needed me in a big sort of way, which I love about her, but looking back I think that contributed to the exhaustion.  Not to mention that my youngest baby used to hate being in the car.  Not a great situation in the midst of all the running and driving we were doing.  My saving grace was having two babies who didn't know the difference of what was going on, and just wanted to love life!  So doing fun things with them in the middle of it all helped me keep my sanity.  But that's all just a side note.  We survived, and dare I say now we're on the brink of thriving! :)

Back to my baby girl....Selah still loves all her baby dolls, but she doesn't leave clothes on any of them.  Which I think is the opposite of how I was when I was little, concerning the clothes thing.  It will be interesting to see how this evolves.  She also loves building blocks and will tell you to sit and play with her.  And she loves kicking or throwing any type of ball.  She really seems to love 'working' at something.  She has recently started loving 'making' something in the kitchen, or helping wash the dishes.  And I let her "make" to her little heart's content, giving her little bits of flour, raisins, oatmeal, and measuring cups and spoons.  It is her place of delight to be working with me like that and I love it.  She loves when I make, "muffs." (muffins)  And I've recently taught her to like carrots and "hummoose," which I'm thrilled about because I love hummus.  Little things I wish I would have done a better job of writing down are things like when she started making actual kiss sounds when she kissed us.  (instead of just putting her lips together)  This also happened about a month before we moved and it was so sweet and adorable.  She started putting so much purpose behind her affection.  It's the little things that seem to make your heart the happiest as a mom!

She's also learned a lot about obedience and seems to be a child who wants to do the right thing.  But I can tell when it's hard for her because she has that "look."  She went through her first "fit" phase around the time we moved because I can remember telling Kevin, "Just make sure to support her head on her way down."  Ha.  These kiddos sure have strength!  That's right around the time when he wasn't too thrilled with Trader Joe's trips that got too long! ;)  She's also started "running," swinging her arms and everything and it's awesome.  She loves to go on walks with Daddy without the stroller, just holding his hand and occasionally running with him.  A few months ago she was saying, "Yeah" a lot when we'd ask her something, and we'd correct her to say, "Yes, please."  So she transitioned to, "Yep,"  which was so cute.  Then in the last few weeks she has started saying, "Yes, peas."  And it's awesome.  An encouragement to new moms...start repeating the manners over and over early and one day it will stick for good!  My mom was huge on manners and it has stuck with me.  I'm definitely thankful to have been trained in that way, where it feels weird if I'm rude.  (because let's be honest, I definitely can be.)  The hilarious part about when they start saying these things is that they say them all the time.  Like now when you give something or do something for Selah she says, "Gang-koo, Welcome.  Gang-koo, Welcome."  So funny.  Selah loves reading, and she loves books about numbers or animals.  She really loves it when something is funny or silly.  She still sucks her thumb and twirls her hair when she's tired or unsure of something.  But right before we moved she grew out of holding onto my hair when I would rock her or sing to her.  Just today she asked me to take my hair out of a ponytail when I was holding her at one point, but that was it.

The last 6 months with her have definitely been a time when we have been overwhelmed with moments of truly delighting in who Selah is becoming.  It is such a powerful connection with the Father's heart when you read in His word how he delights in us and can't really imagine it or fathom it.  Then you have a child of your own and it is overwhelming how the reality of delighting in another beautiful creation in a way that takes over your whole soul.  I have moments of watching her and just being speechless with how I feel about her.  Just tonight I snuck up the stairs and peered through the railing to watch her talk to her stuffed animal and 'read' her Bible before she finally surrendered to laying down for sleep.  Then I went up to make sure she wasn't sleeping on a block or a book and she woke just enough to ask me to get in.  It's actually pretty cozy in there.  You know it's almost time to transition to a  big girl bed when she's old enough to ask us to snuggle next to her because she knows we can't resist those sweet moments.  The other night I rubbed her head and sang her all the way to sleep and treasured it in every way I could.  I always, always longed for this, prayed for this, desperately hoped for moments just like the ones I'm having now.  It's a really incredible experience to learn how to parent and encounter the refining that comes from it.  And to witness the unfolding of a life learning its way for the first time.

I just can't resist all the original uniqueness that comes from within her.  She is untainted by the world and brimming with pure innocence and it's amazing.  I treasure it as hard as my heart will allow.  Every experience with her is new and amazing because it's the first time it's happening for us as parents.  Some of those firsts she hasn't loved, like fireworks at a wedding this summer which terrified her, and the fire trucks in the first parade she saw.  "Too loud," as she would say.  She gives a pretty good neck grip during these times too. :)  She loves to help get everyone's socks and shoes ready when she wants to go somewhere, and two days ago she sat and worked at it and got her own shoes on and velcroed...which was adorable because she had a shirt and diaper only on and we weren't going anywhere.  Speaking of diapers, she's still in them.  And I'm still cloth diapering two.  I'd love to tell you about it sometime. ;)  So far she makes her little Target bath baby tinkle in the potty chair so it will sing and say, "Yay!"  I'm waiting for her to feel really ready.  She asked to be changed, so I think she's close.  When she was 18 months, right before Zoe was born, she didn't have a diaper on after bath time and became really overwhelmed because she had to "poo."  So we ran and put her on the potty and she pooed in there.  And apparently was pretty traumatized because she never wanted to do that again...ha ha.  So we'll wait for that.  We're doing fine without wiping bottoms and dealing with public places so far. ;)

We pray more about Selah's relationship with Jesus than anything else.  She likes to talk about "JeeJee" as she calls him, and thinks every Bible character is him.  She also insists on first finding the "baby" towards the end of the Bible every time we open it.  We just recently have been talking about really praying for the Lord to develop and refine certain character traits we see in our children.

Motherhood is no doubt hard work.  For every mother, no matter the situation or circumstance.  But it is good work.  And us mothers have an intense bond of knowing what it's like to love that hard and that fully.  I am in a sweet place right now, really enjoying these days that are flying by but are being filled with memories.  When these sweet ones are grown, the thing I'll miss the most is how they feel in my arms.  Oh how I love holding them close, feeling their sweet skin, and calming them by running my fingers through their hair or rubbing their little arms.  I love their giggles, their energy, and their joy.  I'll miss those sweet baby things one day, but I also excitedly embrace the new days and ways they grow...because I don't take it for granted to get another day with them.  It's such a privilege to raise these sweet children God birthed from my womb.  So amazing.  I pray for many, many, many days with them.  And I pray hard for the relationships we'll hopefully have as they grow and we get to see how God will use them.  But for now we're going to take all the sweet snuggles we can get!

Well, that's embarrassingly long.  But I'm sure the grandma's and great-grandma's appreciate the update!  I obviously can't turn this into any longer of a post...or at least I'm not going to.  So that's it for now...my amazing littlest baby Zoe girl will get her own update coming up next!  That little one is going to be running circles around me in no time!

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