Letters to Our Daughters (6)

As you probably recall, I have been participating in a blog circle with some wonderful photographers who are also mothers of girls.  Each month, we write a letter to our daughters to preserve thoughts and memories of this time in our lives.  I treasure being able to do this for my girls and I love the chance to see the messages that my friends leave for their own daughters.  Once you have read my letter, please follow continue on and read the post that my incredibly talented friend, Aimee McNamee of Richmond, Virginia, has written to her daughters by clicking HERE.

Before I begin, I also want to send some special love out to another photographer who is in our circle, but not participating this month.  Tragically, the lovely Bonnie Hussey lost her sister and her unborn nephew just yesterday in a car accident.  My heart goes out to Bonnie and her family in this terrible time.  I do not have a sister myself, but my two girls have given me an incredible appreciation for the love that can exist between them.  Though I have no doubt that there will be difficult moments, my hope is that my two girls will be lifelong friends and support for one another – that they will always be there for the other.  My heart simply breaks for Bonnie at this unfathomable loss.

Dear Avery and Alexa,

Once again, I have left writing this letter to the very last minute and I am rushing through again.  I am still rather jet lagged from our recent trip to the east coast, and I managed to take so many hundreds of photos there that I’ve been overwhelmed making my way through them.  I love taking photos to document all of our adventures, but I really must get more organized about editing them so they do more than just sit on our computer!  (I didn’t even get to the part of our trip where we visit with your dad’s family in Ohio. I will have to do a follow-up post!).

I want to tell you that we had a really wonderful trip.  Shortly after my last letter to you, the three of us boarded a flight (the first of seven on our journey) to New Jersey.  Many people remarked that I was “brave” for traveling cross country alone with two children, but in this family we value adventure.  You two are wonderful traveling companions (especially if we fly in the mornings – in the evenings, well, not so much).  Moreover, I want you to know that we make efforts to see the people whom we love.  This is something that matters, making an effort to keep in touch, to keep important relationships alive.  True friendships, true love, will survive time and distance, but it is still important to make that effort to let people know that we love them.  It is not always easy – caring for you two is wonderful, but it does not leave me an excess of time and energy – but we do our best.  And I am so glad that we did, because it was so good to have that time.  This trip was long enough that there are parts I will not get to in this letter and will have to wait for another day.  Like I said, we do our best.  🙂

In the first part of our trip, we spent time in New Jersey with Grandma and Abaji, as well as with many dear friends.  The weather was lovely and we were able to spend plenty of time by the pool.   I was thrilled that you were able to do important things like run around naked outside, and wear cool hats that your Grandma got for you.  Sometimes I look at you two and think that you are so much cooler than I could ever be.

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We also went into New York City to visit with friends there.  We spent a lot of time in Central Park, which is one of my favorite places in the world.  We visited the zoo – something we used to do quite a bit when we used to live there.  It was fantastic to see Alexa get to explore the places that Avery used to love so much.  And feed sheep and goats too, of course.  Not to mention that Alexa began her little love affair with Uncle Aaron (it might be the beard, I don’t know, but you two are awfully cute together).

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After almost a week in New Jersey and New York City, we flew to Aruba.  It was so relaxing to be beach bums for a few days.  We spent time on the beach, visited the Butterfly Farm, went looking for lizards and turtles, and took early morning walks.  And, of course, there were lots of snuggles that were needed, like with Auntie Maleeha, or “Eeeha” as Alexa says.  It was heavenly.

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Then we returned to New Jersey and were met by Dad, whom we’d been missing terribly!  We also were able to spend time with Uncle Omar, to play in Red Bank, to eat chocolate with Grandma.

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On July 4th, which is my birthday, our friends came to Grandma and Abaji’s house and we had a pool party.  It was one of the most wonderful birthdays that I can remember.  I loved seeing Avery catch up with her friends James and Rhett.  The three of you have been friends since before you were even born, so seeing you together again just made me so happy.  And I was so proud of you for learning to jump off the diving board.  The first day after we arrived from Seattle, you walked to the end of the board, but you were afraid to jump.  On the 4th, you first wanted someone in the water to catch you, but before long you were jumping in on your own.  The three of you spent most of the day jumping off the diving board and it was so fun to watch.

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I also saw that, through our trip, the two of you became such great friends.  You entertained one another better than any toy or TV show ever could.  I loved seeing your friendship deepen.  I am not sure if there is anything in the world that makes your dad and I as happy as the love between the two of you.  Though I know that you are too young to remember the details of this trip, I do hope that your friendship, your sense of adventure, and the importance of keeping up with the people you love are never forgotten.  This world can be a really wonderful place, and I hope you remember to just jump right in.

love,
Mama

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Letters to Our Daughters (5)

I’ve begun participating in the Letters to Our Daughters project with some wonderful photographers whom I met through Clickin Moms.  Each month, I will be posting photos and writing a letter to my girls.  I love having this opportunity to speak directly to my daughters, to tell them things about our lives today so that they can read about them in the future.

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Avery and Alexa,

This letter will be short, because it has been a crazy week – we are about to leave town and mama is terrible about preparing for trips and packing and such.  But it is also important.  This Sunday is Father’s Day and I would be remiss not to talk to you about the absolutely amazing father that you have.  He is a simply wonderful father and whenever I see him with either of you two, I fall in love with him again.  You two are completely smitten with him and I am quite certain that the feeling is mutual.

Lately these days, Dad is a a bit of a rockstar.  He comes home in the evening, and when you hear his key in the lock you two go running for the door, arms in the air, cheering, “Daddy!  Daddy!”  Perhaps I should be jealous, but I actually cannot get enough of the affection you all have for one another.  I love seeing the relationships that you have and I love knowing that you guys have your own special kind of fun for which he is absolutely required.  Daddy is simply superior at many of the games you like to play – putting on shows as a dog or pretending to be a surprise animal hatching from an egg.  At the end of the day, when I am tired and worn out, and I am trying to finish dinner or some other task, he is able to entertain you in ways that revitalize me and make me want to do nothing but join you all on the floor.  And late at night or early in the morning, your daddy’s snuggles are the best.

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We are so lucky to have such a fun family.  Although we get to do so many exciting things together, the truth is that the best times are anytime that we have together.  Our ordinary, everyday times.  I look forward to celebrating Father’s Day together this weekend and showing your dad the love that he deserves, and I hope that, years from now when you read this, you know the kind of love that your dad has for you everyday.  We are both so happy that this is our family.

love,
Mama

Please click HERE to read the letter that my dear friend Emily Jackson wrote to her daughter Claire.  My family was lucky to visit with Jackson’s recently – it has been much too long since we’ve seen them – and it was so fun to see Alexa and Claire playing together.  Here is a picture of Paul holding both these little ladies:

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Letters to Our Daughters (4)

As you may recall, I’ve begun participating in the Letters to Our Daughters project with some wonderful photographers whom I met through Clickin Moms.  Each month, I will be posting photos and writing a letter to my girls.  I love having this opportunity to speak directly to my daughters, to tell them things about our lives today so that they can read about them in the future.  After you’ve read my letter below, please follow the links on each post and make your way around the circle, starting with fellow Seattle photographer Bonnie Hussey’s letter to her daughter HERE.KAC_2013_05_13_0003

Dear Avery and Alexa,

My crazy monkeys!  Mama loves you so very much.  Just two days ago was Mother’s Day and I was reminded, once again, just how lucky I am to have this amazing family.  Love attacks, flowers, dessert, cards handmade with macaroni and the best, snuggliest nap a girl could hope to have – it was a pretty perfect day.  Though I must admit that the days we spend together as a family are always my favorite days.

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KAC_2013_05_13_0015I’ve been thinking about being a mom a lot these days, a stay-at-home mom especially.  I’ve been home with both of you for your entire lives (short as that might be) and it’s all you’ve known of me.  Just the other day, we were talking and I had to tell you that I used to go to work everyday just like your dad, because you didn’t know.  I told you that I am a lawyer, just like him, and that we met when we worked together.  You only know me as the one who takes care of  you, who is with you everyday.  And that’s ok, right now, to be all that you know.

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KAC_2013_05_13_0010I know that there will come a time when I work outside the home again, of course.  I’ve started thinking about that and how it will impact you.  There are many opinions out there, of course – people who write articles and books and are convinced that there is a right choice, a right answer, and that they know what it is, even if they don’t know me.  Like all the important questions, I don’t think that anyone has figured out the answers, and it just might be that there really aren’t any.

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KAC_2013_05_13_0123I think about all of it and I worry.  Moms always worry.  I worry about who would make sure you are learning, make sure that you stay excited about learning, the way that you are now.  Both of you are so interested in letters right now – Alexa in learning what they are and how to sing the ABCs, and Avery in learning to recognize the letters and connect them to the words you know.  You are fascinated by the world around you and I never want that to change.  I think about you getting through preschool and going off to elementary school in a few years (and then middle and high school), and what are the right choices to make.  Is it better to go to work to afford a fancy private school or to stay home and have the time to devote to your homework?  Are there answers that split the middle?  I worry about whether I am setting the right example, if there is a right example.  I worry about these questions that you probably won’t consider, and certainly won’t understand, until you hopefully have children of your own.

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KAC_2013_05_13_0008What I do want you to know is this – I am absolutely certain that being your mom is the best job that I will ever have.  The time I get to spend with you is the best thing in the world (except, as your dad teases me, from 6 until 7 pm – and he’s right, it’s terrible! ha!).  I may worry about what the impact of my choices will be on you, but they are my choices and I choose them because it is what I want.  I can’t get enough of you two.  I love you so much and I am so lucky to get to be your mama.

love,
Mama

Letter to Our Daughters (3)

As you may recall, I’ve begun participating in the Letters to Our Daughters project with some wonderful photographers whom I met through Clickin Moms.  Each month, I will be posting photos and writing a letter to my girls.  I love having this opportunity to speak directly to my daughters, to tell them things about our lives today so that they can read about them in the future.  Last month I wrote a letter to my daughter Alexa (you can see it HERE), so this month my letter is to Avery.  After you’ve read my letter below, please follow the links on each post and make your way around the circle, starting with fellow Seattle photographer Bonnie Hussey’s letter to her daughter HERE.

KAC_2013_04_09_3204Dear Avery,

My angel, my monkey, my big girl.  I love you so very much.  I am so excited to write you this letter, so that I can tell you that I think you are just the coolest kid on the planet.  I know that I am biased, of course, but I think even an objective person would be unable to deny how cool you are.  You are so brave, so fun, so ready to tackle the world.  You charm everyone, wherever we go.  You are such a wonderful daughter to your dad and me, and sister to Alexa, and you make sure that we are always having fun together.

Right now we are on vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado.  This week, you officially became a skier.  Your dad and I wanted you to love skiing the way that we do.  We enrolled you in lessons, but it wasn’t important to us that you acquire skills right away as much as that you enjoy yourself.  But you’ve really worked so hard!  We are at the very end of the ski season and so there aren’t many people on the mountain.  Your group lesson turned out to be a private lesson, just you and your instructor, and so in two days you were off the magic carpet and tackling the mountain.  I was afraid that wouldn’t be as much fun for you, but you didn’t even want to come in after the lesson.  You find the fun in everything that you do and this is no exception.

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Since your lesson was now private, your instructor – who goes by “Pooh Bear” – told us that she’d be taking you on the ski lift.  So, of course, I had to ski with my big camera to be sure to capture this incredible first.  You did SO well!  I really cannot believe how quickly you are learning all of this.  To me, you are still such a little girl and yet I see you are already finding ways to tackle that big world out there.  I have a feeling I will always be in awe of you for this.

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After a third day of skiing, we picked you up early.  We were exhausted and we imagined that you must be too.  You fell asleep in my lap while we waited for your dad to bring the car.  I cherished the moments, seeing that you are growing up so fast and knowing that my opportunities to hold you like that are not going to last forever.  We realized later that it wasn’t just that you were tired, but that you were also sick.  You needed extra snuggles and I must tell you that, although I hate when you are sick, I didn’t mind that part one bit.

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What impresses me about you is how easily you snap back, how quickly you are ready to find the fun again.  Late this morning you had the highest fever you’ve had before and it scared me and your dad.  We ended up rushing you to the urgent care clinic here to have you checked out.  Although you had not been yourself at the height of the fever, and it had taken some time to come down, by the time we arrived at the clinic you were back to your old self.  In the waiting room you commented on a snowboarder’s tattoo, and you happily told the nurse that you liked the picture of a moose on her calendar.  You chatted happily with the doctor, who felt you were the picture of health (with a mild fever only at that point) and we wonder if he really believed us that just an hour before your temperature had hit 105 degrees.  But that is who you are – you love to have fun and you were ready to get back to it as soon as possible.  Here you are with your dad, waiting to get seen by the doctor, happy as a clam:

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Once we knew that you were ok, and the doctor told us that you could continue normal activities if you felt up for it, you were ready to get back to the fun of vacation.  Our friends had reserved a private bowling alley and we rushed off to meet them and join in the fun.  On your very first frame ever, you bowled a strike!  (Ok, yes, you had bumpers and you used this slightly strange contraption for kids, but it still isn’t easy and you did it!).  Not only that, but you were cheering everyone on, just like you always do, saying, “Mom, you can do it!” and helping your little sister to bowl too.  I am so proud of you, of the little person that you are becoming.  I love all the fun that we have together all of the time.  I am so lucky that you are my little girl.  I love you.

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love,
Mama

Letters to Our Daughters (2)

KAC_2013_03_08_0166As you may recall from this post last month, I’ve begun participating in the Letters to Our Daughters project with some wonderful photographers whom I met through Clickin Moms.  Each month, I will be posting photos and writing a letter to my girls.  I love having this opportunity to speak directly to my daughters, to tell them things about our lives today so that they can read about them in the future.  Although I am sure I will often write to both my girls, this month I have decided to write just to Alexa (and next month just to Avery).  After you’ve read my letter below, please follow the links on each post and make your way around the circle, starting with my friend Colie James’s letter to her daughter HERE.

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Dear Alexa,

My little baby girl, it seems as if you have grown so much in the last month since I started writing these letters.  Your vocabulary and ability to communicate has simply exploded.  Before, you had just a few words, often just the (repeated) first syllable of a word – mama, dada, yeahyeahyeah.  But now you regularly repeat things that you, answer questions and tell us what it is that you want.  “Do you want water?”  “Wawie!”  “Juice?” “Jus!” “Ball? “Ball!”  It’s incredibly cute.  And the most adorable thing is that, when we hand you what you’ve asked for, you often tell us, “tank you.”  I really didn’t think you could get any sweeter, but you did – those two words make me melt!  My current favorite, however, is when I ask you, “Where is your belly?”  This is what your response looks like:

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You’ve also gotten much more outgoing.  It used to be that you would stare at other people, and cling on to me if they smiled at you.  Now you are returning those smiles and offering a little wave as well.  You’re not quite as outgoing as Avery, who is spending our Hawaiian vacation approaching every child and parent with a, “Hi, I’m three.  My name is Avery.  Do you want to play with me?”  But you are definitely not shy in the same way any longer.  Recently, we were having breakfast at a crepe cafe, and you were done with your high chair.  I let you walk around while I drank my coffee and you would walk a bit past people around you (mostly cute guys, actually), turn your head back to look at them and give them a big smile.  And your smile is amazing – it just melts everyone.  Even guys whom I’d expect to be too cool to flirt with a baby stopped whatever they were doing to look at you and pay attention.

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You’ve also learned how to express your displeasure.  You want to be understood and if you are not, or if you are not given what it is that you want, you let us know.  You can stick that lower lip out like nobody’s business.  It’s meant to tell us that you are unhappy, but it’s so cute that I confess I get a more than bit of pleasure out of seeing it.  You sometimes stomp your feet as well, though I find that cute and hilarious too.  Since those methods aren’t working as well as you’d like, you’ve stepped up your game and begun to yell.  On the airplane, that proved pretty effective for getting my attention, at least, though you still had to be buckled in for take-off and landing.  Sorry, kid – your mom is a stickler for rules and safety.  You may as well get used to it.

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(I have a feeling your grandma will be mad at me for posting that photo instead of giving you whatever it is you wanted.)

You’ve also become much more adventurous these days, climbing and exploring and getting into more things.  You continue to take shoes out of the front closet and arrange them about the living room.  And  you are quite obsessed with your purple jacket, cheerfully yelling “jacket!” whenever you see it and insisting upon wearing it around the house.  I’ve never seen a baby so interested in wearing a jacket.  We were at the playground recently and it was so fun to see how you’ve learned to play much more independently.  Once you learned how to climb the steps to the slide, you were happy to do it again and again, circling around, up the stairs, over the bridge, and down the slide once again.  Though you spent much of the time at the playground, trailing after your sister and her newest friend or checking out the many dogs (“dog! dog! dog!”), it was great to see you making your own fun as well.

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I have to say that this stage that you are at is perhaps my favorite.  You are so sweet, so charming, and so interested in discovering and exploring the world.  All these accomplishments are exciting and I love to see them, but I love that you are still my baby.  You are still in frequent need of snuggles and holding, still able to fall asleep in my arms.  Earlier today, here in Maui, I held you in my arms on a lounge chair and you fell asleep on me.  That is my very idea of paradise – vacationing in this wonderful place, with my beautiful family, and my baby girl asleep in my arms.

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love,
Mama

 

 

Letters to Our Daughters – A Very Special Project

I am so excited to be participating in the Letters to our Daughters project.  As is obvious from the title, each month I will be writing a letter to my daughters and posting photos along with it – and linking to other wonderful photographers who are also mothers of daughters, who are doing the same.  I have wanted to write letters to my girls since before they were born, and even started a few, but never managed to finish them.  I am so happy that this project has provided the impetus for me to finish a letter!  My first letter is below.  After you’ve read it, please follow the links on each post and make your way around the circle, starting with Kerry Varnum’s first letter to her daughters HERE.

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Dearest Avery and Alexa,

My Little Loves, My Crazy Monkeys, My Little Monsters, My Gorgeous Baby Girls. You are the most magical creatures I have ever met.  I am so lucky to be your mom, so lucky to have this incredible family.  You make me so happy, make me work to be a better person, and make life so much more fun. Almost every day, at some point or another, your Dad and I will look at each other, overwhelmed by just how wonderful you are.  We are so very in love with you.  You make our lives and our world so exciting. 

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Avery, after you were born, your dad and I used to stare at you for hours.  We couldn’t believe that we’d made you, that you were ours to keep.  When you were very small, you wanted to be held all the time.  In the evenings, you would sleep soundly on my chest or lap, or on your dad, but if we tried to put you down you would wake up and cry, so we simply held you most all the time.  Sometimes it would get tiring, or we’d want to eat dinner, but mostly we couldn’t get enough. I knew, from the very start, that the days of your wanting to be held by your mama wouldn’t last forever, and I wasn’t going to pass up those opportunities. We are lucky that your love to cuddle has not diminished. I know that it will end, one of these days, but I love that you will still tell us, urgently, “I need a snuggle!” And we will cuddle up, in bed or on the couch, and enjoy it for a little while longer.

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Alexa, you have always had an inner calm.  Early on in my pregnancy with you things were scary, but eventually, even before you were born, I got to know you. Your peaceful soul calmed me, made me feel secure that we were going to be ok. You weren’t as demanding when you were a baby as Avery, but you figured out how to tell us when you wanted to be held. You reach your arms up in the air and your hands do little grabs to say, pick me UP! It’s the most adorable thing in the world. When your dad comes home from work, you always call out to him, letting him know that you’ve missed him, and you walk over to him in your adorable, belly-first little walk, with your arms out. You are such a loving baby.  Holding you is so calming, it’s almost like a drug.

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These days, the two of you are often as interested in spending time together as you are in spending time with me or your dad.  Watching you play together more and more makes me so happy. You wake up in the morning and are happy to see the other (and even wake the other up, despite my protests).  Mornings are one of my favorite times, because you wake up wanting to snuggle, but before long the two of you are up and ready to play.  Avery, your imagination has grown recently, so we often find that the plug for the iPhone is being used to catch fish, or that we are trapped on the bed, which you explain is surrounded by crocodiles or sharks.  Alexa, you love to join in on these games, except when you are told that you ARE the crocodile or the shark, and then you are not so pleased.  You don’t want to be left out like that!  And truly, Avery, you are a wonderful big sister.  You introduce your sister to all of your friends, saying, “This is my baby, Alexa.”  You try to include her in your games all the time, age appropriate or not.  Alexa, even though you only have a few words so far, you are very good at pretending to be a dog – sticking your tongue out and panting – so that you can play along with Avery (and all of us, who are regularly required to pretend to be dogs, often for quite a bit longer than Mommy and Daddy are interested in playing).

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Sometimes I think about this time in our lives and I realize that it is going to pass too quickly, and that you won’t even remember much of it.  That is so much of why I take so many pictures.  I want, more than anything, for you to see just how very much you are loved, and just how much fun we have.  I want to find ways give you memories for all these fun times – the baths, playing with toys and games, baking, pretending, having dance parties and going on adventures – even if you won’t remember.  But some things need more than just pictures – sometimes you need words as well.  So I am really looking forward to writing you these letters each month, to tell you it all.    

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love,
Mama