Tag Archives: Birthday Letters

To my Elise on her 3rd Birthday

Note: This post has been ready for two weeks but I haven’t had photos to post with it. I have this really great navy blue cotton summer dress that I wanted to photograph Elise in but not only doesn’t she want to wear a blue dress, it has either been too hot to go outside or we have been too busy doing other things.

Yesterday while cleaning I gave Elise a marker and some paper and randomly turned on the Katy Perry documentary that is on Netflix right now thinking some music would distract Elise long enough for me to get some chores done. Little did I know that the minute Katy came on the screen Elise would fall in love. My photo plans for a sweet little girl in a blue cotton dress standing in an open field isn’t going to happen (at least not any time soon). But this did happen and in the end…. this is the best photo proof of who Elise is right now.

The following was written two weeks ago:

As I said the other day, this post has been swirling around in my head for a couple of weeks now but getting it from swirl to a post takes time and that isn’t something you like to give me.

You are now three and you are still my shadow. In fact as I am writing this sentence I can hear you screaming, “Mom where are you?!” as you are walking down the stairs. You, my girl, are a Mama’s Girl through and through, and I love it. The attention that I get from you trumps any applause from any theatre show I was ever in. I love you for that. I know it is a selfish thing to say but having someone love you as much as you love me is the best feeling ever.

It ends up the reason you hunted me down after I slipped away while you were distracted with your dollhouse was that you had to use the potty and you were having trouble getting your ballerina leotard off. That little vignette of our day is a great representation of where you are in the story of your life.

You are now potty trained… well for the most part. You still have the occasional accidents but they are few and far between. I can’t tell you what this means to me as a Mom to have my baby, my youngest and my last child potty trained. It wasn’t an easy process to get you to this point but we got here and in this case it isn’t the journey that matters it is the destination and that destination is you starting preschool this fall. Preschool!

The other notable moment in the above story of your interruption is your outfit of choice. Dance may still be part of your daily routine when you are old enough to read this, or it could just be a distant memory… either way right now you live and breathe dancing. You insist on wearing dance, or what you call “ballerina clothes” every day. To get you into play clothes or a church outfit takes serious negotiations. Usually this ends in you wearing some form of tutu or skirt so if the mood strikes for you to pirouette or jette (yes you already know these dance terms) you are wearing a skirt that is full enough to twirl with you.

This obsession with dancing is heart melting. It can be infuriating when I am trying to get you dressed to go out of the house but other than those times, it is possibly the sweetest thing ever to see you twirl around while singing to yourself.

You have the sweetest disposition. Everyone who meets you falls in love with you immediately. You are still quite shy but you are opening up more and more every day. With adults it usually takes you a few minutes to warm up but once they complement your tutu you are friends for life.

You love to cuddle and like to be as close to the person you are talking to as possible. You love to cuddle so much that you are more than perfectly content to cuddle up next to me on Saturday mornings during Daddy and my coffee time and watch HGTV while I sip on my coffee. You watch with me as we tell home owners they are silly and that a poor choice in paint color shouldn’t make or break your selection in the house hunting process. I love that time with you. Just me and you snuggled up talking.

Talking… last year this time we were worried. You were not saying much of anything. We were worried enough that we had you tested and you qualified for teacher visits. You loved your teacher and with in a month you went from 20 words to 50 words and your vocabulary grew exponentially from there. You still are a bit lazy with your words and some of the time I am the only one who understands you but you have made huge strides and I think this next year being in a class full of peers is going to help you blossom in ways that being at home with me or meeting with a teacher once every other week never could.

You love other kids. I don’t know how to say this any other way. No matter the age of the child on the play ground; when you crawl out of the stroller or I lift you down from the car seat, the moment you see other children you scream, “MY FRIENDS ARE HERE!” and you go running toward them. You will have no trouble making friends at preschool.

All this talk of your sweetness and how endearing you are needs to be countered with another truth. You, my dear Elise, can be quite manipulative and can milk a situation for all it is worth.

Last night around midnight you came barging through your Dad and my bedroom door in a panic shouting something about frogs. Your Daddy leapt to your defence and started to guide you back to your room before I could register what was happening. By the time I stumbled into your room you were laying back in bed with your Daddy laying beside you reassuring you that the horse print on your bed wasn’t frogs and that you were safe and nothing was going to happen. I sat at the foot of your bed and rubbed your back while I sang you back to sleep. You didn’t fall back to sleep though. You seized the moment and decided that it was the perfect time to tell your Dad and me everything that was on your mind. We listened for a minute and when realized there was no end in sight we shushed you and I sang one more song and we left you to tell your story to your stuffed bunny.

It wasn’t 10 minutes later that you were busting down our door again and I could hear it in your voice that you were smirking and trying not to giggle while you faked being terrified of “Frogs on my bed!” Your Dad of course fell for it and started the soothing process all over again. You have him wrapped around your little finger and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for you. I on the other hand draw the line at faking terror for attention any time between 10pm and 7am.

There are times when I laugh out loud at your Daddy. He is infatuated with you and I swear I can see his heart melting when you do something extra sweet like nurture your dolls or mimic your big brothers while they play Skylanders.

We love you Elise and we are so excited to see the little lady you are growing into. Everyday we see more and more of you as you blossom from toddler to preschooler. You are not a baby any more. You remind us all the time of your fierce independence when you state, “I CAN DO THIS BY MYSELF!” I love that you want to tackle new feats everyday but please, please don’t grow up too quickly.

I love you. Happy Birthday.

To Michael on your Seventh Birthday

My first baby is seven. Today you turn seven!

I cannot believe that seven (SEVEN!) year ago we were living in a small 900 square foot apartment in Bismarck, ND and we were just meeting you for the first time. You changed everything. I think Lucy still resents you a little for stealing her thunder! You have been the most wonderful blessing and have taught your Dad and I so much. We have grown up watching you grow up.

Michael this past year you have shown us that no matter how you are hard-wired, you are capable of reaching out to others and offering them a helping hand, a high-five to cheer someone on, a hug to show love, and my favorite, a protective and watchful eye to keep your brother and sister safe. These acts of kindness make both your father and me beam with pride and say, “That is our boy.”

This past year you conquered kindergarten and you were one of the top readers in your class. You can count money and tell time. Your ability to calculate numbers is astounding and your persistence when learning to read is inspiring. You also rock at video games. You and computers are a great match – just like your Daddy.

This year you have shown us how brave and adventurous you can be. You are trying new things all the time. They may seem small to some but I know what it takes for you to try that bite of hotdish. I see you eye that casserole dish with everything mashed together and cooked at 375 degrees for 30 minutes with mix of fear and skepticism.  To you, hotdish is an overwhelming assault to your senses and this year you have tried almost everyone I have scooped onto your plate. I appreciate you making the effort and your attempt at sparing my feelings when you kindly tell me, “I don’t like it.”

I think one of the qualities I admire most about you is your need to learn and your (never-ending) thoughtful questions. Your mind never ceases to amaze me. You may not be right all the time but your logic and thought process are always flawless. You never miss a step or make sweeping imaginative guesses. When it comes time for you to “show your work” at school I bet you will blow your teachers’ minds on a daily basis. It is hard to acknowledge and admit being wrong when you so thoughtfully come to a conclusion but because you are so interested in learning you are always open to hearing another argument and then tweaking your theories. That, my boy, is something many adults are not able to do. I hope you always have that quality because it will take you far in life.

Ok, ok. enough about your brain… how about a little bit about how you have grown physically this year?! You are so tall and you are really coming into your own. All of us, especially Papa and Auntie Buff, are so amazed at your throwing arm. I think baseball could really be your sport (I know your Dad is reading this right now thinking, “Why the hell does he need a sport?” Just relax Tim, he will always be leveling up in video games like a rock star so a little baseball on the side won’t hurt his rise to video game prodigy one bit!) You love playing catch and you have some surprising skill when it comes to hitting too!

This year also marks the official age where you have proven that you are more coordinated than either of your parents. You can now cart-wheel (which I have NEVER been able to do) and do flips on the tramp. I can’t wait for this weekend to see you with your friends at your trampoline birthday party!

Michael you are seven. That is just three short years from being 10. You will be a first grader this year which is just 11 grades away from graduating highschool. Today we went to the movies as a family to celebrate you. I am going to quote that movie now because it best expresses how I am feeling right now, “Never grow up.”

On second thought… I am excited to see what Michael the seven-year old is like. Bring it on kid. 

Dear Patrick on your 5th Birthday

Dear Patrick James,

You are my Karma Kid. I see so much of myself in you but you are this marvelous updated 2.0 version of me. You really do amaze me everyday. At your birthday party you gifted two of your presents to your brother and sister without being asked. You always want to share your joy… until you don’t. Then you like to spread the anger and resentment to all. I guess you are equally generous with joy and rage. And boy can you rage. Sometimes I get a kick out of your fits, and struggle not to laugh at you. And sometimes I count well past one hundred just to get my heart rate back down to normal. I love you.

You are unique in so many ways. Your favorite song right now is Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain. It has been your favorite since our vacation to Hawaii. You belt out the chorus like you wrote the song yourself. You have never seen the music video and I am pretty sure you are imagining someone in a torrential down pour with a lighter or some other fire starter. That worries me only slightly, but then I remember your empathy and compassion and I don’t worry… too much.

You are undoubtedly the worst thief but best liar in our family. This makes for a rather confusing and head spinning process of accusation. All evidence eventually leads back to you. Case in point:

You had green frosting in your finger nails, your tongue was faintly colored green and you are a repeat offender when it comes to stealing food off the counter. Just today you ate the tablespoon of butter I had softening on the counter-dinner just wasn’t coming fast enough and I turned my back for one minute. But back to your birthday cake and the case of the missing frosting… When we asked you if you stole (scrapped it off with your bare hands) the icing from the cake you looked up at us with innocent eyes and replied with such righteous indignation, “I did not do it!” that both your father and I find ourselves questioning all the evidence. We more than questioned, we felt guilty that we accused you and turned to your non green brother and questioned him. Our heads told us that you did it but you pull at those heart-strings and it is like we are putty in your manipulating hands. When we came to our senses you were sent to time out. I usually end up having to leave the room because I think that your ability to lie is quite charming. Your father, who hates when his logical mind gets thrown off tract, doesn’t find it funny. He takes charge of the sentencing and punishment. I would never high-five you over a lie, but I do have to tip my hat to you. You have an uncanny ability to make all those around you bend to your will.

Your smile kid. I tell you. It will take you far in life.

In school, kids want to be your friend. Many kids want to play with you and you oblige. You are kind and are eager to take part in all the fun that school has to offer. You love music but are shy to sing in front of people. You love art and do not like to be interrupted when creating your masterpieces. Your imagination inspires some awesome Lego creations. But when it comes to school, hand down, your favorite part of your week is swimming day. You, Patrick James, are a fantastic swimmer. I wish there was a way to fit swim lessons into our schedule all the time but it just doesn’t work right now. I have no doubt that you could be a competitive swimmer if you were interested. You are a natural. You have always loved that water. Even when you were a baby, in the bath you were happiest. I hope that never changes. Soccer, on the other hand, is a different story. If you ask to play again next summer I will sign you up but I can guarantee that I will be sneaking a little something into my ice tea before every practice and game!

Loving water and swimming every chance you gets has turned your body into a furnace. Your body chews through calories faster than I can peel a string cheese wrapper, butter toast, peel an orange or open a box of crackers. Kid, you will eat us out of house and home. The amount of food I have to pack in your lunch to fuel you through your preschool day is double what your father packs in lunch, even on his weight lifting days. You can eat and yet there isn’t an ounce of chub on you. What chub you used to have has stretched away over the last year.  Especially over the last few months. You have grown out of all your pants and are now sharing pants with Michael again. Your legs are like a giraffes. Long and lean. It is no wonder you only can muster up short bursts of energy on the soccer field, your body is using every calorie it takes in to grow. You will be tall like a Clute or a Lawton. I have no doubt that you will be taller than your dad by your mid teens.

To save on our food bill and to help your furnace of a body have some down time you like to watch TV. A lot. You love TV and movies. I let you watch way more than I should but you love it so much I have a hard time turning it off. You love watching everything from Power Rangers to the Food Network. The other day I caught you telling the chef on the TV, “You are stirring the icing to hard. You will ruin it!” I would have to agree with you on that one. She was using a cordless DeWalt drill and it did look like a bit of an over kill for some cupcake frosting. One of my absolute favorite things to do with you is to grab a blanket, throw on a movie and cuddle up on the couch with you. You are the best cuddler in our family. You wiggle and nest yourself right into our arms and will stay snuggled like that for as long as we let you. I know this will change over the coming years so I plan to take full advantage of my cuddle buddy as long as I can.

What might melt my heart even more than the pride I feel when you show your generous and empathetic side, is that you are quick to say, “I love you, Mom.” You are always are excited to tell us all about your day. You are my open book. I always know how you are feeling and I cherish that. You are not afraid to love with all your heart or throw a shoe when you are angry. I love you for ridiculously wide range of expressions that cross your face at any given moment. I know that you love me and your father and your brother and your sister and even Lucy. And Patrick James, we love you too.

Happy Birthday Patrick. I hope year five is as fun for you as year four was for us. You are light. Pure light.

Patrick’s 4th Birthday Letter


To Elise on your 2nd birthday

It is actually 2 days after your birthday that I am writing this letter to you. This letter is two days late for one big reason. Before your birthday your Dad and I built you a dollhouse. You love your dollhouse and have already logged more hours rearranging furniture, putting your dolls to sleep, and pushing the smaller than pint-sized dogs in the doll sized stroller than I could have hoped for. I am still scrubbing primer and white paint of my skin but it was worth it because you love it and I love you.

You are something extra special for so many reasons. You have become a bit of a joke in the family and among our friends because you still refuse to talk. I know you can make noise because you hum and la la la along to any song that you hear a tune for. You understand everything we say and I know this for a fact because I can ask you to put your adorable little blue sneakers into your shoe bin and you do. You are the only of our three kids that consistently put your shoes away and I don’t even have to buy your obedience with a sticker! You love those sneakers and ask to wear them all the time. You don’t really ask in words to wear your blue kicks but you do make your request quite obvious by holding up the shoes, chucking them at me and then pointing at your foot.

You will be an outstanding charades player someday. My baby has skills.

You know what you want. No one will ever doubt what you want. You act your mind… someday soon you will start speaking your mind and I have a feeling you will be like your oldest brother and not stop talking as soon as you start.

Another shocking skill that makes me laugh with surprise and joy every time I see it is your killer dance moves. Maybe the dance gene skipped a generation, but no set of parents have ever been more surprised to see a kid bust a move than we were. You have this driving beat that seems to be playing in your head 24/7. All it takes is for me to say “IIIIFFFFfffff…” and before my top teeth even touch my bottom lip to make the ‘f’ sound to start “If You’re Happy and You Know it” you are already swaying your shoulders and wiggling your hips. You live to boogie and I love watching you shake that bum and shrug those shoulders.

You are the perfect little girl and I love you for that. After two boys, having a little girl who likes to wear a twirly dress and has a opinion about shoes is more than a relief, it is rejuvenating. I am pretty sure I love rearranging the furniture in your dollhouse just and much, if not more, than you do. I can’t wait for the days when we go out and have mother daughter dates. We will have a blast blowing money on frivolous  stuff in the name of retail therapy. Hey, we are outnumbered in the house. Therapy is necessary.

You love your ballerina books, dancing with Patrick and trying on everyone’s shoes but you also giggle and cheer while rough housing with your brothers. You are quick to volunteer to be at the bottom of the pillow piles and love being hung upside down by your father more than anything.

Your dad may call you Princess more than I think any girl should hear, but he tosses you around just like he did the boys at your age. It is an odd balance. It melts my heart to watch you two together. You have that man wrapped around your finger in a way I never thought possible. I am a Daddy’s girl and I love that you will be too. Just remember who is the one who made you your first tutu and takes you shoe shopping.

Elise you are a doll. A moppy-haired (I swear I am trying to thin those bangs out, but at least you don’t rock a mullet anymore!), song humming, mud eating, tutu wearing princess of a doll and I love you. You have grown so much in the past year and every day I see a new side to your personality blossom. I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring because I can’t imagine it getting any better than this.

I love you.

Happy birthday Sweet Baby Girl.