Monday, January 16, 2017


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2016"

Cruz: You learned a thing or two about money this weekend, stacking all the coins up in tall piles and learning just how many pennies it takes to get to one hundred.  You had exactly $107 in there, saved up since you were a toddler, and you decided to put most of it back, hoping to save it up for a trampoline this summer.  When we asked where you would like to give 10% of it, you said to a hospital so they could buy Legos for the little kids who were staying there.  What a good idea, buddy!
Mila: My little three year old beauty, looking so very old in this one.  We had a wonderful weekend celebrating you, from a special day on Friday for your birthday, followed by a pretty-in-pink party with our family yesterday.  My favorite part was watching how excited you got opening up your birthday cards.  You did this high-pitched little squeal every time you opened one.  You were gifted with some pretty great things this weekend, too - your cozy sleeping bag, princess tent, Belle doll, dancing robot, and baby bed that is an exact match to your own twin bed are a few of your favorites. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Live Big / Mila Turns 3

This morning, my alarm sounded at 5:30 am, signaling it was time for Beau and I to roll out of bed to get our workout in before the day ahead.  I was in the laundry room throwing in a load of towels quick when I saw your tiny figure making your way down the long dark hallway.  Up at least an hour before usual, there you were, in your red fleece professor jammies with white polka dots, your hair messy, holding blankie and baby, of course.  You didn't say a word, just stood up against my leg waiting for me to scoop you up.  Daddy beat me to it, and immediately escaped to our bed to get some snuggles, probably hoping I would join too and get us all out of our workout.  As the two of you walked away, I locked eyes with you for a quick moment, and you smiled this sweet little smile, your cheek resting against the side of his face.  Everything about this picture - your messy hair, your sweet pajamas, your favorite blankie and baby stuck like always in the crook of your arm, made me stop for a moment and take in this life in front of me.  This true picture of beauty in the otherwise mundane moments of family life.  And your sweet little self, just a few days away from three, the very beat of my heart.

I think every year as you and your brother's birthdays draw closer, I study you a little more closely.  Like the last chapter of a really good book, I hang on every word, and sit in awe at the unique gift you are to me, our family, and this big old world.

Mila, your spirit fills a room fast, sometimes in the best of ways, and other times, well, it just hurts our ears.  But your daddy and I ask each other on a weekly basis what we would do without you in our lives.  The last three years, you have filled us up with so much life in so many ways.  Everything we feel is big for you - when you are being your silly, quirky self, we laugh big.  When you are pouring on your sweetness, we melt big.  When you are relentlessly asking for a snack five minutes before dinner, specifically peanuts, goldfish, and water, we frustrate big! :)  I smile when I think about God designing you, for I'm convinced he had a smile on his face.  You are uniquely you, all sugar and spice, and you light up our lives in such big and beautiful ways.

If I could bottle you up exactly as you are, this week before you turn three, there is so much I would pour in.  I would include your sweet munchkin voice, your wild blonde hair, and your perfectly imperfect set of teeth.  I would include your love of everything pink, your precious little blankie and giraffe baby.  I would include your love of Belle and a good twirly dress, and how you immediately make a 360 turn every time I pull a dress over your head.  And yes, sometimes throw yourself on the ground crying if your dress doesn't "twirl" the way you pictured it would!  I would include your love of "Paw-trol" and your brother, "Q-zie", and everything Frozen.  I would include your love of playing babies, when you always say, "I'll be the mommy, and you be the sister," and those plastic high heels you wear around the house as you push your baby carriage and tell us you are going to work.

I would bottle up all the funny things you say.  Things like, "Okie Dokie Mommy Monkey" every time I tell you to do something, or "Why because?" with a little grin on your face, I swear just to annoy me and answer questions you already know the answer to.  I would bottle up the way you say things to daddy like, "Daddy, you haven't had a hug or a kiss yet today," and pour on the charm so fiercely, only to deny him the very next second and only want your mommy.  There's no doubt you love your mommy, but you know exactly how to work your daddy's heart, too.  I can't get enough of the way you two tell stories, though.  I love that when you say, "Daddy, I had a dream last night," we can always bet it's going to be something that includes: "And there were three bears..." 

I would bottle up your wits and smarts, the way you say things like "That's so embarrassing!" or "Want to have a competition?" and how you know every word to your favorite book, Lost Cat, including the word "saddlebag," which makes me laugh every time.  And although you sometimes make me want to pull my hair out, I love that at bedtime, I can always expect you to drag out our reading time with just one more book, along with requests to "rub my back" and "sing me a song."  Just a couple of months ago, you surprised me when you asked, "Mommy, can you sing me Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Tune My Heart to Sing they Grace?"  While it's true I have sang that song to you several nights since you were a baby, I had no idea you knew all the words.  That, and every song on the Frozen soundtrack are evidence that you are indeed always listening; that is, unless we're telling you no for something you ask for. :)

Of course, I would bottle up that giggle of yours, the way you wrap your arms around your brother's neck and give him "huggies", and how dang cute it is to eavesdrop on you playing pretend.  The other night, I watched you in your room with one of our old cell phones up to your ear, pacing around in your tutu and plastic glasses, saying things like "I want to talk to Gamma," and "Are you kidding me?"  I would even bottle up how strenuous this potty training adventure has been, and then how easy it's been the last two weeks as you finally seemed to decide it was time.  Oh, and how you like to call your "potty successes" as "surprises."  You are so silly!

If I'd fill up this bottle of all of who you are, it would surely be overflowing.  And you fill us up every day, too, with joy, gladness, and so much life.  We are so very thankful God put your sweet, sassy spirit in our lives and can only imagine the girl you will continue to grow to be.  Happy Birthday, Mila girl.  We love you so so much.

I found these pictures from late this summer and never posted them.  Although you are definitely not as tan and your hair has gotten even longer, these pictures reveal so much of your happy.  Give you a good tea party spread, a pretty dress, and a little bit of sugar, and you are one happy girl.  






Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mila Ballerina Turns 3

Since we are just a few short days away from your very pink and gold ballerina birthday party, I thought it was time to write a little post about your adventure as a ballerina this year.  As my girl who loves a good twirly dress and everything pink, I signed you up for a Tiny Tots ballet class at Fusion for Thursday nights this year.  For a half hour once a week, you dance around with Miss Haley and four other little dancers in the upstairs studio downtown Waterloo.  At first, you HATED dance class!  You loved everything about your leotards and leg warmers, but the minute that door opened to your classroom, you screamed.  This was stressful for your mom, but your teacher assured me you would quickly learn to love it.  I'm so glad I listened to her!

Now every week, you ask when you can go to dance class.  You let me put your hair in a top knot (sometimes), you love to pack your special ballerina backpack from Aunt Kelli, and especially love when Miss Haley lets you dance to Let It Go.  You get a tiny purple stamp on your hand at the end of every class, and always burst out of the room so excited.  You are going to be a little bug for your recital in June and I can't think about it without smiling.  

I've been saving all these pictures of you for a special post, but I'd say today is as good a day as any.  My tiny dancer, you make my heart flutter right out of my chest...

Sunday, January 8, 2017


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2016"


Cruz: This is you.  After eating popsicles in the bathtub, you came up with the idea to turn your popsicle sticks into puppets.  And not just any puppets, but the entire cast and setting of The Gingerbread Man.  I love when your wheels get a turning and I see you walk back and forth from the table to the junk drawer for glue, pieces of scotch tape, and pencils.  

Mila: This is you.  You threw us for a loop Friday night when you got unexpectedly sick shortly after we got home from school.  We were supposed to have your birthday party yesterday, but decided to postpone to next week.  Thankfully, you bounced back by Saturday morning and were back to your spirited and spunky self.  This is it, baby girl.  Just a few days 'til 3.  Tonight at dinner you asked if you were going to be six, or "all these", holding up all five fingers on one hand.  I get it; i's pretty hard to hold up just three of them. :)

Christmas Day

Cruz was the first to wake up Christmas morning, arriving in our room at 6:30 and whispering that Santa came!  He snuggled in bed with us for awhile until we let him play Wii to distract him while we waited for Mila.  And a little after 7, with the tea kettle on and the coffee brewing, our Christmas morning started...

I appreciate our open space on Christmas morning so much.  We move the loveseat and ottoman out of the way and each take a corner of the big rug.  And one by one, in front of a warm fire with warm cups to drink, we take turns opening our gifts.  With nowhere to be until Christmas night, we took our time, let the kids linger with each gift a little longer, had a halftime breakfast, and finally opened the last gift around 10:00!

Cruz loved his gifts, as expected, and expressed gratitude and joy with each one.  He loved his "Made By Dad" book from Beau, filled with lots of crazy blueprints of projects they can construct together, loved his puzzle of the United States, and of course, loved his new Lego set.  But his favorite gift was probably his new Nerf Laser Tag set.  We were all quite impressed with its accuracy and special effects and took turns running around the house and practicing our aim

Mila was at such a fun age this year, able to be independent and open up all her gifts on her own, and showing that innocent and genuine joy with each gift unwrapped.  She gasped and oohed and aahed and squealed all morning long.  From her new electronic toothbrush, to her Disney Princess cupcake game that I swear was made just with her in mind, and of course, her long awaited Belle dress, Mila was a happy camper all morning long.

As close as we got to a new pet this year!  The kids loved their Life of Pet's box and fought over their walking Max dog!  

Beau and I were good to each other, too.  It was an easy year to buy for Beau with the Cubs winning the World Series, and I loved picking out a World Series ornament for our tree, a new sweatshirt, and a framed copy of the front page of the Chicago Tribune for him.  He spoiled me, too, with a set of Rifle notebooks, several books on my reading list for the year, a loose leaf tea set, and a clock from Fig and Frolic.  We always tell each other we don't need anything, but it's always so fun to give to and receive from the man I love the best. 

Our Christmas breakfast included a few of our favorite staples - egg bake, fruit, and mimosas, and this year we were extra blessed with a little touch of Pella.  The bonket wreath was so pretty and festive, and absolutely delicious, and we enjoyed rich cups of the Sanctuary's Christmas blend coffee along with it.

The rest of the day was what you'd expect.  Garbage bags full of wrapping, piles of new toys yet to find a home, pajamas all day, and cocoa and cookies for lunch.  

We ended our Christmas holiday with celebrations with Beau's family and mine the next two nights.  The kids loved their cousin time and it was a blessing we were all able to be together after a month of snow and sick.  

The annual Henrichs/Jorgensen matching pajama picture!


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