13 Months

Dear Doodle,

First of all, yes, I’m going to keep writing you monthly newsletters. At least for now, and as long as it makes sense. Maybe later I’ll write them less frequently in the future (or more frequently when you’re a teenager and I want written records of all the hell you’re putting me through) but for now, we’re keeping them coming every month. And, hey, maybe one month they’ll be on time! (I’ve been writing this one for weeks now!)

Second off, no, I have NO idea why I’ve started calling you Doodle. I still call you Boo Bear, my little booberry, and we also call you Goomba a lot (again, no idea where that came from) but for some reason Doodle has also crept into the mix. Maybe one day we’ll call you something that is a legitimate name. For now, it’s cutesy nonsense because we’re the parents and we can.

Your biggest achievement since last time is that you’re walking! I saw you take steps for the first time the day after your birthday party. We had such an amazing time celebrating your birthday, and I was already pretty worked up emotionally from it all, and also pretty tired, so when you beelined for me and took those three little steps, it was all I could do not to sob. I mean, my baby is growing up! Seeing your achievements makes me simultaneously want to shout from the rooftops how wonderful you are and also kind of makes my heart feel like it is bursting into a million pieces because it’s all just so much.

Within 5 weeks or so, it went from occasional walking to more frequent walking, and then one day, you were done with crawling. Boom. It’s been walking all the time. Seriously,  I think I’ve seen you crawl once in the past week. And having a baby that isn’t so much a baby anymore and is now walking around the house like it’s her job is aging me, first of all, and it’s making me realize even more how quickly this all goes. But dammit if it isn’t just about one of the cutest things in the world to watch your teeny little feet parade around those chunky thighs! You are delicious!

It’s been well over a year of having you as my daughter, and I swear I’m still stopped in my tracks at least half a dozen times a day by the overwhelming feeling of love I have for you. I wish there were some way I could bottle it up and make you understand it later in life when I give you a 10:00 curfew or call you three times a day your first month in college. I just love you so much!!!!

That’s it, basically. I don’t know how many other ways to say that you’re totally the bomb and I would spend the rest of my life with my lips planted on your chubby little cheeks if I could. It would be heavenly……

Love,

Mommy

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First Birthday Party

Aaron and I decided that we were going to have a major party to celebrate Addison’s birthday and also the fact that we have a new (awesome) house. For once, I kind of stopped worrying about all of the obsessive details and let things just happen. I mean, there was some stress involved (like when there were only 2 hours until party time and I STILL hadn’t made Addison’s birthday cake. Um, yeah….) but I let it go and everything worked out fine.

Addison’s party was a collaborative effort for Aaron and me. Aaron designed the invitations, and based on those, I picked out some fabrics for decor and also the dress Addison wore (which was actually a hand-me-down – Thanks, Kendall!) I was particularly proud of the flag bunting that I made, and I bought tulips and a car load of balloons. For food, Aaron wanted oysters and a keg of beer, plus we grilled hot dogs and had chips and other munchies. Dessert was Aunt Wanda’s killer chocolate strawberry ganache cupcakes, Fran’s “Crack Cookies” (chocolate chip and so named because of their addictive nature. We joke that she must sprinkle crack rock on the top of each one to make them so alluring) and also the birthday cake.

There were probably 40 or more people on hand to help us celebrate  – Addy’s “Auntie” Jessie came up from Bonita Springs, and Aaron’s mom even drove all the way down from North Carolina.  There were a TON of kids there (and only one boy in the entire mix – our group is definitely girl heavy) and they all loved playing on the playset and running around in the yard. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, either. I’ve thought about Addison having a February birthday a lot and wondered, “What the hell kind of birthday party do you have in cold weather?” No one in my immediate family has a cold weather birthday, so that is completely out of my realm of experience. But for the day of Addison’s party, it felt like summer outside and it was freaking AWESOME!!!

There were two things about the day that really stood out for me: First of all, how special it was that everyone came to help us celebrate our little girl. Everyone there REALLY loves Addison. I mean, would take a bullet for her in a heartbeat. Being around so many people that love my baby so much was a beautiful thing. And everyone there had helped us somehow during our first year with Addison, so it was nice to celebrate the milestone with all of them.

Second, it was a great day for Aaron and I as a couple. We got to celebrate the day we welcomed Addison into the world and we also got to celebrate this new chapter in our life which includes a beautiful home where we’ll get to watch Addison grow up and where we’ll spend the rest of our lives. Also, I was proud of how well we worked together to pull of a rockin’ party.

I knew at some point I would probably shed a tear over my baby turning one. Boy, was I right. I held it together while I was walking into the dining room with Addison’s lit birthday cake and listening to everyone sing “Happy Birthday,” which was a pretty powerful moment, and I honestly thought that was the moment that would get me. Once I sat down next to Addison to watch her eat her cake, I could feel the emotions welling up. I was so proud of my sweet little girl, poking her teeny little fingers into the cake and smiling up at everyone, watching all of those people that love her smiling back.  And I was also profoundly aware that my mom wasn’t there. She would have loooooooooooved to see Addison turn one and not having her there made me so sad. When my sister moved closer into the dining room, I made eye contact and saw that the tears were welling up for her, too. And then I totally lost it. I didn’t have to leave the room, but I was crying so hard that Jessie could tell and she was sitting behind me. (By the way – she didn’t console me or anything, didn’t extend her arm in a hug. But she DID reach her arm around me to take a picture of my crying face. Thanks, friend.)

After cake and a wardrobe change, Addison opened presents – with lots of “helpers” to assist in ripping off any trace of wrapping paper at lightning speed, in true kid-party fashion. She got an obscene number of presents, and every single one was awesome. I mean, kid got a quality haul – books out the wazoo, cute outfits, stuffed animals, the CUTEST jingle anklets (knitted by our doula friend, Leslee) and all kinds of electronic toys including a cell phone, a blackberry, and a laptop.

Everyone seemed to have a great time – we still had people at the house at 9:30, and the party started at 3:00! The party was everything we hoped for and beyond and it will go down in history as one of the best days for our family.  It was just perfect. And Aaron and I are both in agreement about a big party next year – there’s no way in hell! 🙂

Thanks to Aunt Wanda for making the frosting. Couldn't have gotten this finished without you!!!

*For more pictures of the festivities, visit my facebook. I just didn’t have the time to load them here.

12 Month Pictures

12 Months

Dear Addison,

You are a year old today. A whole freaking year. This is our most giant of milestones, my sweet girl, and I really can hardly believe it’s here already! I still remember the day you were born so vividly, thanks in part to the fact that I typed it all up and that I’ve replayed it in my mind dozens of times over the past year. Last night and this morning, I kept remembering exactly what we were doing at the same time last year. 6:30 pm – sitting down to order pizza and having my first contraction. 12:15 am – hadn’t woken up for my first bathroom trip yet. 6:45 am – in the hospital lobby waiting to go back to triage. 8:04 am – The insane adrenaline rush as we welcomed the most gorgeous baby I had ever seen into the world….

I had so many hopes for you before you were born, from serious things like, “I hope she’s healthy” to more frivolous things like, “I hope she has my blue eyes.” Here’s a little recap of just some of the hopes I had for you and how we’ve fared in our first year.

I hoped you would be healthy – the biggest hope of all. And this gets a HUGE check mark! You’ve had a sniffly nose here and there, but nothing major. When you were only 6 or 8 weeks old, we had to have an ultrasound done on your hips to make sure they were aligned properly, and they were. Seriously, those are the biggest problems we’ve had with you. Unbelievable! You have literally sucked snot off of Sarah’s sick face and not had a single symptom later. We are thinking of having you studied.

I hoped you’d be prettty – CHECK! I mean, have you seen pictures? You are freaking gorgeous! Enough said.

I hoped you’d have my eye color, but not my eye shape – a very specific wish, but another wish granted. I didn’t want you to have my squinty little eyes, and you definitely do not. I guess you dipped back to your Grammy’s genes for those sparklers! Speaking of things you got from your Grammy, I didn’t even think to hope for this one because I didn’t think it was possible – you have the most amazing eyelashes! Seriously, they’re long and dark and thick and beautiful. And until November, I had NO CLUE where you had gotten them. Finally, I saw a picture of your Grammy when she was in high school, and it all made sense. I guess her eyelashes had thinned or something when she got older, but they were beautiful back in the day, and they definitely got passed on to you.

I hoped you’d have a good personality and be a happy baby – Again, giant check! You are such a sweet girl. You wake up happy every single morning. You smile all the time, and you rarely cry. You are so much fun!

I hoped you’d be smart – another biggie, and another wish granted! You are definitely a clever little monkey. People always comment on how “serious” you are, but it’s just that you are very inquisitive and will intently study new things and people. You are learning things even more quickly these days. Last night, I got you to give me a kiss on the lips (your version of kisses to date had been closing your eyes and leaning your forehead against someone. SO CUTE! But not really a kiss.) You had the kiss thing figured out in only a few minutes, and still remembered how to do it today. Oh! You’ve also started trying to put on our shoes instead of just trying to play with them.  You’ve started shaking your head “no,” even though you don’t really know what it means and you’ve gotten really good at waving to people. It’s so amazing to watch all the little connections you’re making.

I hoped you wouldn’t have my giant thighs – um, yeah…. Sorry about that, kid. But on the plus side, you got your dad’s cute little booty (Sorry to gross you out, but he’s got a great tush!) In the Wimberley family, having butt cheeks that have even the slightest amount of protrusion is unheard of. Your voluptuousness is awe-inspiring. Abuelita, Papi and I regularly joke that “we just want to smack it!” when we change your diapers. I know it seems completely inappropriate to talk about how cute my kid’s butt is, but whatever. I’m gonna enjoy it as long as I can because one day that thing will be a major hassle to deal with. (Hello, teen years!)

I hoped you would love me and that we’d have a good relationship – This is the thing that has probably made me the happiest of all. The two of us are like peas and carrots, kid. You light up when I enter the room and you always want to be with me – sometimes to the point of clingyness, but that’s okay. I know this is another thing that will change when the teen years hit us, but for now we’re super best friends and I absolutely love it.

Addison, I say it all the time, and I’ll say it until the end of time: I love every little thing about you, and I’m thankful for every single second I have gotten to be your mommy. Having you as my daughter is like getting a birthday present every day.

I love you so much, angel. Happy, happy birthday!

Love,

Mommy

11 Months

Dear Addison,

Um, yeah. This letter is about, oh……. twenty days late. My bad. But last month was a bit of a doozy, and I’ve been trying to play catch-up. First, the crap part of last month: Christmas was LAME. I mean, super-duper-stomach-bug-vomiting-and-major-poop-issues lame. Fortunately, we got a tree before the violent illness hit, so you had some semblance of a Christmas. But two days after getting the tree, you and I had to move out of the house to get away from your daddy because he was super sick. But then I still wound up getting sick the night before Christmas Eve. We wound up spending Christmas Eve at your grandparents’ house and Daddy was home all by himself. I never thought that we wouldn’t have our first Christmas morning with you in our own house. But, honestly, in the end, it didn’t matter, and you had a blast! You got to play with lots of crinkly paper and you got some great toys from all your grandparents.

First up was this really cool tricycle thing from Grandpa Randy and Grandma Fran. It came with a toy cell phone attached, and we all immediately questioned the message they’re sending to children. I mean, driving and talking so soon? Bad idea. I thought about just cutting the phone off of the trike, but I didn’t. And of course, you love the damn phone and even act like you’re talking on it while you’re on the trike. So, you’re not getting your driver’s license any time soon!

Mimi and Grandma Lyssa got you a school bus toy that you LOOOOOOVE. You get flappy arms when you play with it because you’re so excited. Your dad isn’t in love with it so much because, of course, it plays music and makes noise. I mean, hello? It’s a children’s toy! But I will admit, the woman’s voice that sings on the toy is kind of obnoxious. However, watching you play with it counteracts any obnoxiousness.

Finally, you got a toy called a Walk n’ Ride from Papi, Abuelita and the girls. Sarah has a toy like it and you love it, so they got you one of your very own. You can either ride on it, or you can convert it to walk behind it. You can get on and off of it like a pro, but a lot of times you wind up on it backwards. You will walk behind it, but you still can’t quite balance without putting a lot of your weight on the little car so your weight makes the car zoom in front of you and it’s kind of hilarious to watch you try to keep up with it. A lot of times you’ll push it on your knees because you balance better that way. No matter what toy you are playing with, most of the time you are jabbering away, or you have a big smile on your face. You are such a happy kid!

Now for the GREAT part about last month: we got a new house. I don’t think I can fully convey how amazing that is in words. First off, we were living in a tiny little townhouse that was cute, but CRAMPED! It was always a disaster because we didn’t have enough room to store things, and there was nowhere for you to play outside. Our new house is almost twice as big as the old house, and it has an AMAZING yard! Well, two amazing yards because the front and back are both great. It even came with a play set that’s going to be awesome once your daddy fixes it up a little.

Besides the townhouse being tiny, I was driving two hours every day round trip between home, Havana (for you to stay with Abuelita) and work. On days I didn’t work, I would drive over to Grandpa Randy and Grandma Fran’s in the afternoon so they could watch you and I could work on my thesis. That was another hour of driving. Our new house is less than 15 minutes from Papi and Abuelita, and it’s……wait for it……….. 3 tenths of a mile from your grandparents! We’re in the same neighborhood!!! On afternoons they watch you and the weather is nice, I just walk you down the hill on your little trike, then they walk you back up at the end of the day. The first time I saw them walking you up the hill, I almost cried I was so happy.

Getting a new house has completely changed the life you’re going to have. First of all, we never, ever thought we’d be able to buy a house this nice, and never even dreamed we would live in the same neighborhood as your grandparents. Now you’ll get to grow up somewhere with tons of space to play, both inside and out. You’ll be able to see your grandparents whenever you want, and you’ll be able to spend more time with Papi and Abuelita and the girls because we’re closer to them. Plus, we’re closer to your Auntie M and Uncle Ken – and new cousin, Anna! (We’ll talk about that later.) Our neighborhood has a playground, tennis courts, and a dock that goes out to the lake. You’ll be able to go fishing with your daddy all the time!

Last year, I wished that we had a “real” house so when you turned one, we could have a big birthday party for you. Next Saturday, we’re going to have the party I dreamed about, and I still can’t believe it and couldn’t be more thankful. You are going to get to grow up in an amazing house in an awesome neighborhood with family close by. You are such a lucky kid, and I’m so happy that some of my dreams for you are already coming true.

I love you, Booberry!

Love, Mommy

 

your first trip up the hill on your trike with Grandma and Grandpa.

Could you be cuter?

On your Walk-N-Ride.

See video of Addison playing with her schoolbus here

10 Months, Part 2


Dear Addison,

This is gonna be a tough one. I told your dad a few nights ago that I didn’t want to write this letter because I don’t want to cry anymore. But I’m going to be strong and carry on. Unfortunately, your big 10 month birthday was not the biggest thing to happen last week. Last week my mom, your Grammy, passed away. It’s going to be a long time before you know about any of this, and even longer before you understand it, but it is still important for me to tell you about it while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Grammy had been sick for a long time, and the disease she had was really, really hard on her. Much harder than it is on other people who have gotten it. But she was very strong and fought very hard, because that’s the way she was – persistent, stubborn, and strong-willed. (One day you’ll use those words to describe me, I’m sure. You won’t be the first.) A lot of people would have given up long before your Grammy did. She was trying to make it 5 more weeks to meet your cousin, Anna, but it was best that she didn’t. She was in a lot of pain.

You have no idea that any of this is going on, and part of me is happy for that. I’m glad that you’re spared this pain, especially so early in life. But I’m also sad that you won’t remember your Grammy because she loved you so, so, so much. My whole life, everyone I ever met that knew my mom always told me, “Oh, your mom talks about you ALL THE TIME.” Ever since you were born, that phrase changed to, “Oh, your mom talks about Addison ALL THE TIME.” She loved her grandbaby. And she was so happy you were a girl. She would have loved a little boy, too, but she loved the idea of having a little girl to dress. I know it was very hard for her to finally have a granddaughter, but to be too sick to go out and buy clothes for her. She would have filled up your closet, I assure you.

We only have a few pictures of the two of you together because for awhile she lived far away, and she was too sick to travel. My favorite picture of the two of you together was from the first time she got to meet you. Her arms were very weak, so we had to lay you on a pillow in her lap so she could hold you. That made her so happy, and you can see it in the picture. She sat with you that way for hours, talking to you about all the fun things she wanted to do with you when you were bigger. When she was closer to us, she would come see you every time she could.

My mom was a very important person in my life, but mainly because of the struggles I had with her. A lot of those struggles were because of our similarities in temperament. (Leos are fiery people, and our birthdays were only 2 days apart. This made for a pretty volatile combination.) A lot of those struggles were because of the choices she made in her life that hurt me and hurt your Auntie.

Having you helped my relationship with my mom a lot. It gave us a common bond – our utter adoration of one Addison Frances. It also helped me to understand my mom more because I could put myself in her shoes. And it’s not that it made me look back and realize she had done the right thing a lot of times that I thought she hadn’t. I still think she made a lot of mistakes. For a long time, I thought I just wasn’t important to her, that I wasn’t a priority, and that it was because she was selfish. But now I realize that the choices she made were made because she was really messed up emotionally. I don’t have a more descriptive or profound way to explain it.

Here’s my logic: I love you more than anything in the world, more than I ever thought I could love anything, and everything I do every day stems from the effect it will have on you. You are the center of my universe. Not that I’m some crazy obsessive mom who can’t carry on a conversation about anything else and just fusses over you constantly, but I am extremely devoted to you. And feeling all this love and devotion came very naturally to me (which is not the case for some people.) This love and devotion wasn’t as easy for my mom, and I have come to realize that it was because she was such a damaged person. She was trying to fill a void in her life, and trying to fill that void controlled everything in her life, including her relationship with me. That used to make me very, very angry, but now that I have you, it just makes me really sad that she wasn’t able to love me the way that I love you because it is truly such a gift.

The good thing about having a strained relationship with my mom is that it taught me a lot, and it will (hopefully) help me be a better mom to you. Because of my relationship with my mom, I will always be honest with you. I will always keep my promises to you, and I will always follow my words with action. Because of my relationship with my mom, I promise that our family – me, you, and your Daddy – will always be my number one priority. I will always show you how much I love you, not just tell you. I will admit when I make mistakes.

Even though Grammy and I didn’t have the best relationship in the world, I know that she loved me the best way she could. I am thankful that I was able to work through some of my issues with her before she died. A lot of that is because of you, Boo Bear, so thank you. A lot of that is because she was sick and I knew she wouldn’t be here forever. I’m sad for a lot of reasons. I’m sad that a woman that was so beautiful and so healthy got reduced to a helpless shell of what she used to be. I’m sad that you won’t have your Grammy around when you grow up and that you’ll never really know her. I’m sad that she was never able to fill that void in her life and truly be at peace. I’m sad that the hope of having a better relationship with my mom is dead. I am so sad that she’s gone and so sad that she was sick, but I’m thankful we had the opportunity to have closure. I am also very thankful that I have you in my life because it is helping me to keep my wits about me. I can’t get totally lost in emotions because I have to be here for you, and that is a very, very good thing. And you also are a constant reminder that for every sorry, there is also joy. You have given me so much joy that I can handle any sorrow that comes my way.

I love you, my little Boo Berry, and so did your Grammy.

Love, Mommy

 

10 Months, Part 1

Dear Addie,

You are now 10 months old. Double digits!!! I can’t believe it! It is amazing how quickly time flies, and you almost don’t realize all the cool things that are happening while you’re in the middle of them. Last night, you were sitting on the floor of the bathroom “brushing” your teeth (I used quotes because what you do barely bears any resemblance to actually brushing your teeth except for the fact that there is a toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste involved. You treat the toothbrush more like a lollipop. Or a floor scrubber. Building up those immunities, kid!) Anyway, you were “brushing” your teeth, and you had dropped your toothbrush on the floor. I watched you as you bent over and deliberately wrapped your little fingers around it, picked it up, and popped it back in your mouth. (Yes, I let my child put a toothbrush that had fallen on the floor back in her mouth. Sue me. It fell by the sink, not by the toilet, and even if it had fallen by the toilet, she had already licked all the germs off the toilet anyway, so HA!) In that moment, I realized how I take for granted so many of the little things you do these days. Grasping things used to be a big deal for you! For that matter, so did sitting up. And having teeth. But all these things pile up, and they tend to happen so quickly that I don’t treat them like the milestones they are. And by the time another month has come, and it’s time to write another letter, I’m so used to these fun new things that I forget they’re fun new things and don’t write about them. Of course I mention the big things, like crawling and sitting up, but the smaller things sometimes go by the wayside, So, I’m going to mention other fun, little things you can do.

You can use a sippy cup. That one took you awhile, but once we got the kind that has the straw, you figured it out in no time!

You can sit down. I know that seems like a weird thing to mention, but you were able to pull yourself up to stand way before you figured out how to sit back down.

You can give people five. It used to be that you would only do it to an outstretched hand placed palm up, but lately you’ve been doing “high” fives, too.

You can wave. Sometimes. I mean, you always flap your arms, but sometimes you do it when people wave to you, so it seems like it’s intentional then. Who knows, really?

You can say “mama” and “dada.” You say “dadadadada” all in a row, quick and chipper, all the time. You say “mmmmaaaammmaaaaa” all low and mournful when you’re upset about something. It’s pretty funny, actually. It’s pretty much debatable as to whether you fully understand what you’re saying, but last night you stood up, clung to my legs, and deliberately and distinctively said, “Mama.” It was ah-mazing!

Lately you’re obsessed with light switches. If I’m carrying you around and we come close to a switch, we have to stand there for a few minutes while you play with it. Yesterday, you created quite the disco in Papi’s kitchen.

You also really, really enjoy the bathroom. You like to play around the tub and the toilet, specifically. You will stand between the tub and the toilet and rattle the handle while booty dancing to the music you’ve created. If we’re not watching, you’ll try to chew on the toilet. If we’re in the shower, you want to open the curtain. You spend a lot of time trying to get into the cabinets. You also try to put your hand in the toilet, even if one of us is sitting on it. Your dad and I have both been the recipient of a cold baby hand to the ass cheek mid-potty-visit. (Sorry, but it wouldn’t be fair to hide the embarrassing details. You’ll laugh about it one day!)

You still love to dance, and will dance to any available beat. I have banged around on the bathtub and done some very pathetic beat-boxing which both yielded excellent dancing results. You started dancing to “How Great Thou Art” in the middle of a funeral this weekend, which led to some inappropriately timed laughter, but was precious and hilarious. You will dance to ANYTHING.

You like how I just threw that funeral part in there? I’m purposefully avoiding the second half of this letter, the part where I have to talk to you about some serious stuff. I’m just not there yet, mentally and emotionally. I’ve started working on it, and I’ll finish it soon, but I just can’t do it right now.

I love you bunches and bunches and bunches!

Love, Mommy