Elijah Turns Two

Last month, shortly before Thanksgiving, we got to celebrate two years of having our sweet Elijah with us.

Elijah is my Sweet Boy, as I’ve called him since he was a newborn.  He really is sweet, gets along with everyone, and is completely adorable.  It wasn’t hard to find cute pictures of Elijah for this post!  He’s always smiling for the camera.

Elijah loves to help.  He loves to throw things in the trash or sink, help me move laundry into the dryer, and “sweep”.  We’ve probably lost a lot of forks due to his helping! It’s certainly not uncommon to find random items (socks, cups, spatulas…) in the trash.  He also loves to make messes, and flashes the cutest I’m-so-proud-of-myself smile when he gets caught.




But, Elijah does have some weaknesses.  First of all, he doesn’t need much sleep.  This could be related to his ongoing thyroid treatment.  (We’ll find out more about that in a few months.)  But, no matter the reason, Elijah gets up early.  He used to stay up late.  He used to get up during the night.  We finally broke those habits, but, alas, now he won’t sleep past 6.  He wakes up ready to go and screams until we get him (or the whole house wakes up).  As soon as he is up, he’s chipper as anything and toddles around the living room chattering to himself and admiring the Christmas lights.  It’s not uncommon for him to crash before he makes it to nap time, and I find him sleeping on the couch, in his high chair, or sometimes even in my own arms.

Elijah also has a strong will.  When he doesn’t like dinner, when he’s told, “No”, or when he can’t communicate what he wants, he gets angry.  He’s so cute, sometimes we can’t help but laugh, but we try hard to end the tantrums as we’re able.  He usually recovers pretty suddenly, often when there’s food involved.

Elijah tends to get himself into trouble.  There was the terrible time he chocked on a toy when he was not-yet-one, but he’s always finding himself in similar situations.  He’ll climb up somewhere and get stuck.  He’ll find all sorts of household items that he shouldn’t play with (anywhere we go!).  Sometimes the situations he gets himself into are so funny, I don’t know whether to help him out first or stop and take a picture.



Elijah loves to eat. I mentioned that he’s chipper in the morning, but that’s only after we give him his early morning snack.  Sometimes that’s followed by a late-early-morning snack, then breakfast, a mid-morning snack (if it’s a good day), lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and a dessert (which is frequently some sort of fruit).  Any tears, for any reason, can usually be ended with a snack.  This boy loves to eat.


Elijah loves his siblings and loves to be a part of whatever is going on.  Whenever Dan asks the kids if they want to do something fun or eat something yummy, he joins in the rest of the family, raising his hand and yelling, “ME!!!”.  He’ll play happily with anyone, or just by himself, but is only starting to learn how to respond when he’s told to share.  One of his favorite things to do is wrestle with Dan in the evenings.  He also gets excited anytime anyone is going out of the house and will eagerly bring his shoes over and insist on coming along.  (It’s hard to say no to that!)



Elijah is quiet.  He’s always been quiet, or at least, I’ve always seen him as a quiet person.  By quiet, I don’t mean he can’t be loud, but that he’s not much of a talker.  He doesn’t like to say words when put on the spot and he doesn’t like to say things unless he knows he can say them correctly.  Still, he’s picking up new words frequently.  When I tell him, “I love you!” and he repeats back, “Wuv ooh!” it just melts my heart.


So, is Elijah ready to be a big brother?  Well, I’d say he was pretty much born ready.  Paul has always demanded my attention, even when Elijah was a newborn, so Elijah learned to spend less time with Mommy.  Or he learned to share.  Or he learned to be happy with Dan.  When he does get to be with Mommy, he often still has to share with Paul. It’s not uncommon to find both boys perched on my lap together, one on each leg.  He still loves his snuggles though, and I love the moments when I get to snuggle him, even if it is only at 6 AM.




Abby’s 5th Birthday

This month we celebrated Abby’s fifth birthday. (For the record, she has officially told us that she prefers “Abby” over her other names like “Abigail”, “Abs”, “Abster”). Abby chose to celebrate with pizza and ice cream (with Grandma and Grandpa) after a day at the hands-on museum, and then homemade pizza bagels for the “day of” celebration. It was fun to watch Abby take “center stage”, as she usually is shy and quiet and content to sit out of the spot light.

First of all, you all must know that Abby, sweet and quiet as she is, is strongly opinionated. She loves what she loves and lives with zeal. And one of her biggest loves right now is pigs. Real pigs, cartoon pigs, stuffed pigs…pigs. For her birthday, we got her a pig backpack and a big stuffed pig to sleep with. (She already sleeps with her special Christmas doll, her little pig stuffed animal, and her stuffed Elmo – all previous gifts from all different people). Anytime we have any kind of pig sighting, Abby is sure to look over and Dan me with a great big grin. It’s adorable.

Abby is sweet. She has a gift for playing with Little Kids and is my go-to-girl when I need someone to “keep Elijah back while I open the oven” or “see if you can get Elijah to stop crying”. Just last week we were at a baseball game and she came up to me and said, “Mom, you don’t need to watch Elijah. I will watch him so that you can just watch the game”. (She is five, though, so that really only lasted a few minutes, but it was sweet all the same).

Abby is also my little helper. She loves to help me do…anything. Often on days when she naps, she’ll ask me, “When I get up, can I help you do whatever you’re doing?”. And she does! She’ll bring me ingredients from the fridge, put things away for me, or does whatever little job I ask her to do. She also has a daily chore of wiping down the dining room table, which she almost always does quickly and cheerfully.

This year, Abby is tackling kindergarten. She’s technically a little young for kindergarten (by 10 days), but we’re plowing right along. She shocked me last year by starting to sound out words at a younger age than Lydia, so this year she’s learning to read, doing a little handwriting, and beginning some organized math. She LOVES school work, especially workbooks, and begs me to do more and more pages, often more than I can say “yes” to. (On the second day of school, she finished my allotted first three weeks of handwriting!)

Abby is not picky when it comes to having fun. She loves surprises and she loves any outing. Any little gift makes her smile and she keeps her treasures all together somewhere (currently in her new pig backpack) and guards them with zeal. Some of her favorite treasures right now are new sunglasses (in a case), a spiral bound notebook and pencil with an eraser cap, and a couple of toy necklaces she got with her birthday money.

One of the sweetest things, though, that I see Abby do, is play with her siblings. She has a little bit of a peace-making ability, and will usually be the first to give up something to make someone else happy (sharing some of her meal with Elijah after he finishes, sharing stickers with Lydia, and even giving up some ice cream after a birthday-date with Daddy so everyone could have a taste). During the boys (and my) nap time, she loves to play with Lydia, and together they plan weddings and parties, dress up, and pretend travel, school, and restaurant. Sometimes Lydia reads to Abby and sometimes Abby pretends to read to her brothers.

We’ve lately noticed that she’s a little peanut gallery, making hilarious (although, not necessarily on purpose) comments to some of Lydia’s more dramatic episodes. One day Lydia was trying hard not to cry in the car, but she just couldn’t control herself. Abby was sitting quietly, sucking her thumb. She popped the thumb out and piped in, “Try sucking your thumb. That’s what I do.” Then she popped her thumb right back in as Dan and I tried not to laugh (for Lydia’s sake).

Abby has always been a smiler, and she lives her life passionately. When she’s happy, she beams. When she’s tired, she sleeps hard. When she’s excited, she can’t contain herself. It has been so fun to watch Abby grow and learn in the past years, transitioning from a baby who couldn’t eat, to a toddler who couldn’t talk, and now to a spirited five-year-old who is eating, talking, and learning to read!

Lydia at Seven


This May, Lydia turned seven.


Almost three months have snuck by because 1) I had some technical issues with the blog and computer, and 2) these (5!) kiddos keep me busy. But here’s an update on our Little Miss Lydia as a seven-year-old.


Lydia is spunky, energetic, sweet, fun, outgoing, enthusiastic, inquisitive, sensitive, persistent, and observant. She loves to do fun things, eat good food, and be with people all the time. She observes everything around her, picks up on others’ conversations, and asks a ton of questions. She learns quickly, eagerly tackles new projects, and loves looking forward to things.


Lydia is a people person. She loves activities where we get to be with people: church, Bible study, gymnastics lessons, open houses, camping trips, dinner dates, babysitters, and the list could go on. Once a week, Dan takes one kid out on a daddy-daughter or daddy-son date for some one-on-one time. Lydia loves it because it’s something to look forward to, she gets to be with Daddy, and she gets a treat.


Maybe this goes along with being a people person, but Lydia is extremely verbal. Last year we took a trip to Toledo and Lydia literally talked the whole way there. She told stories, sang songs, and occasionally asked a question, but didn’t usually wait for an answer. When she gets excited, she talks more (gets that from her mom). Lydia already knows a lot about the difference between being an introvert and extrovert (because we’re opposites) and she knows how to give me space when I need it. But, when I’m up for it, Lydia always appreciates doing one more thing together, hearing one more story, or getting one more (long) snuggle.



Lydia is a sponge. This year she’s taken off on her reading and will read anything she finds lying around. For a day or two after we visit the library, we can hardly get her to do anything other than devour every single book we brought home. Then she asks me to read them to her too. She loves to read to me and she loves when I read to her. She’s also been learning piano (via hoffmanacademy.com) and she does extra math practice for fun (via khanacademy.com). She asks tons of questions. In fact, I started keeping a list of her questions. Once a week, during school, we learn all about all the things she wants to know. My current list includes: windmills, food born illnesses, branches of the military, how to play chess, how bikes work, how toilets work, ants, state versus federal politics, and our family history. I don’t come up with these ideas. They really come straight out of her mouth.



Lydia is a ball of energy. Maybe that’s obvious from what I’ve written so far. Looking back over the past few paragraphs leaves me feeling tired (and she’s not even with me right now!). But Lydia is also incredibly sweet and forgiving. She hates to be separated from others physically or emotionally. Sending her to her room is torture, telling her she can’t go to an activity is worse, and having a broken relationship with someone is the worst of all. She has a strong, but soft heart, and it hurts her to see others sad.


It is amazing to look back at Lydia’s life, all the way back to her first days in the NICU, and see her personality shine through from Day One. God has given us a precious gift in this little seven-year-old, and we are looking forward to see where He takes her in the years ahead.

Paul’s Third Birthday

“What should I write in Paul’s birthday card this year?”,  I asked Dan in the middle of our spring break vacation to Georgia.“Put something in there about his spunk and charisma”.Paul is spunky and charismatic, ferociously loyal and stubbornly independent.  And he’s entered into the threes.  And we’re enjoying them so far. 🙂

Lydia is a people watcher.  She likes attention and praise, but she’ll watch what other people do and imitate them.  Abby is a follower.  She’ll sweetly follow just about anyone, anywhere, doing anything.  Paul is his own man.  He struts around like he’s in charge.  He takes matters into his own hands.  When he gets an idea in his head, nothing can stop him.  He’s adorably independent and doesn’t care if anyone is leading or following.He’s also super cute.  😀He loves the colors orange and blue and he’s obsessed with baseball.  He picks little items and obsesses over them for a while, bringing them in the car, to the dinner table, and even to bed.  Some of his little obsessions over the past year have included: his little orange New Testament (which was really mine and I never offered it to him, but he declared it “My Bible” and was so persistent that no one bothered to fight him), a plastic toy crow bar, a parrot puppet, my kitchen tongs, a whisk, and Elijah’s long-abandoned pacifier. Despite all his independence, Paul gets overwhelmed the most easily out of our four children.  In those moments, he sits on my lap, holds my hair in one hand, sucks his two favorite fingers, and periodically looks up and me and says, “Hi Mommy”.  As soon as his basic needs are met (food, sleep, and some snuggles if things are getting to overwhelming) he’s back to his confident self.

It’s hard to capture Paul’s personality in just a few words.  He’s so unique, friends with everybody, and acts very cool.  He’s an endearing little trend-setter.  He’s also surprisingly bright. I say surprisingly because Paul wasn’t very quick to start talking.  He still doesn’t say a ton, but he picks up on things easily and often surprises us with what he knows.  Often I’ll ask the girls to do a task or tell Paul we can do something fun (play baseball or go outside, usually) after we finish a chore.  The girls are slower to help and often get distracted, but not Paul.  Paul is all business helping set or clear the table, sweep, or put away groceries.  In fact, he often jumps in just to be helpful without my asking or mentioning any incentive.  And, though he’s still learning, his helping often is actually helpful, even doing things I’ve never taught or consciously shown him how to do.Last year we were struggling to get Paul to speak.  We would ask questions, read stories, point at the pictures or facial features and ask him what they were.  Nothing.  Then, on some random day, he would start spouting off all these words we never knew he knew.  He’s sharp, for sure, but doesn’t like to show off.Even though Paul is not the youngest, he often ends up being the one who gets his way.  “Orange bowl”.  “Music on”.  “Watch baseball!”.  “No, Abby!  Off the field!  Lydia, play baseball with me!”.  He’s so confident, insistent, and cute, that once we understand what he wants, he usually gets it.Oh, and Paul loves music.  He loves the singing at church and he loves instruments.  If we let him, he likes to hang out up front when church is over by all the instruments.  He latched on to Lydia’s toy drum from when she was a baby and it has become his.  We got him a real box (cajon) drum for his birthday and he loves dragging it around the house to play while the girls dance, music plays in the computer, someone is singing, or we have a guest over playing a ukulele (which also fascinated him). So there’s a glimpse of our three-year-old in a nutshell.  He’s really and endearing little boy everyone should get to know. We enjoy having him around immensely.Happy birthday Paul!  We love you!

2017 – In Pictures

I take a lot of pictures.  This spring, as I was trying to figure out how to find time to get everything done that I needed to do, it occurred to me that I don’t do anything with the pictures I take.  They sit on the computer and never get looked at or enjoyed.  I don’t have time to regularly upload to Facebook, so nobody ever really sees them.  I resolved to put my pictures to a little better use.  One idea that I tried this week, was picking out favorite pictures from the whole year and putting together an end-of-the-year video we could watch as a family on New Year’s Eve to remember the highlights from the year behind us.  We had a special time last night watching this video and then thanking God for the many blessings He gave us over the past year.

So, here’s our year: 2017, in pictures.

Abby’s Fourth Birthday

This month, Abby turned four.

So let me tell you all who our Abby-girl is.  She is the most enthusiastic, life-loving little girl I’ve ever known.  I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again and again for the rest of our lives, but Abby is an extremist. When she’s happy, she beams.  When she’s disappointed, the world IS ending.  Her meltdowns are epic.  Her naps are deep.  And when she wants to be loud, she’ll hurt your ear drums.

Abby had to get some shots recently.  Imagine a small room in a doctor’s office.  Abby is curled up on my lap with tears in her eyes.  Lydia is sitting next to us, covering her ears and singing (loudly) a made-up song about how everything is going to be ok.  The nurse is quietly singing Abby a little song about what she’s doing.  It’s not actually time for the shot yet, but Abby is curled up tightly on my lap, clutching her favorite stuffed pig in one hand, and screaming at the top of her lungs.  She continues to scream, even when I tell her it’s not time yet, until the “pokes” are done.  But, the moment Abby was done, she had a sweet little smile once again, tears in her eyes, and was proudly clutching her new stickers as if she had just won a medal.

Abby appreciates food.  One morning she greeted me by asking, “Where’s Daddy?  What’s for dessert?”  Her favorite foods are hot dogs, burgers, pizza, and ice cream.  In fact, we let her pick out one meal for her birthday and she waffled between these choices for about a week.  But all hope is not lost for her future dietary choices.  When Abby doesn’t like the meal I make, she’ll happily ask for three bowls of salad instead.

Abby receives compliments like a pro.  You know how some (many) people shrug off compliments because they’re humble or don’t know how to respond?  Not Abby.  If you tell her you like her dress or that she has pretty eyes, she’ll look up at you with sparkling eyes, a closed-mouth grin, and big cheeks in a way that will make you either compliment her more or try not to giggle.  She’s just that cute.  Dan and I took her to a toy store to let her look around and see what she might like for her birthday.  The conclusion: anything.  Just getting a gift makes Abby’s day and she’ll keep that gift with her all day, whether it’s a sticker, sunglasses, stuffed animal, face paint, tiara…you get the idea.  It was so cute on her birthday to watch her reactions when we sung her, “Happy birthday”, and it was even more adorable to hear her later in a different room singing to herself, “Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me…”

Lydia and Abby are your typical young sisters.  They often don’t get along.  But within the past few months they’ve surprised me.  There are moments of every day when they can play happily together.  They get so caught up in their make-believe worlds and later come to tell me all the stories of what they’ve done.  Usually Lydia is the one in charge, deciding what they play and who’s who.  Abby is usually the princess, bride, or ballerina, and Lydia is the one doing Abby’s hair, picking out her clothes, and putting pretend makeup on her.  Abby also often “has a new baby” and Lydia is Abby’s doctor.

Abby gives the best hugs.  We call them Abby-hugs.  She squeezes tighter and tighter with impressive strength.  And, though her hugs are wonderful, she is less of a snuggler than her sister.  But she is more of a wrestler.  Dan likes to play-wrestle with the girls, but I usually sit out, so whenever a family comes over to our house, Abby wants to know if the dad will wrestle her.  If he’s not big on wrestling, she’ll go for tickling instead.

While Lydia learns things in big jumps, Abby is more of a slow-and-steady-type learner, but what stands out in her is her ability to love.  Since Dan and I tend to be pretty academic people, this has really made an impression on me.  I’ve seen that a person’s love can win you over.  In times when I’ve been overwhelmed and crying, Abby would approach me and ask, even when she didn’t have many words, “Mommy, why are you leaking?”  She’ll tell me now that she doesn’t like it when I’m sad or angry, and if I am she’ll ask, “When will you be happy again?”  She’ll stay by my side until I assure her that I’m doing well again and then she’ll run off to go play some more princess.

This Crazy Kiddo

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Lydia turned six at the end of May. She had been counting down to her birthday for over three months. Several days each week she would update us on what she wanted to do for her birthday, who she wanted to have over, and what presents she wanted to receive. When the birthday weekend finally arrived, we had a lot of birthday and start-of-summer fun. We took her to a toy store to pick out a toy to buy with her birthday money, got ice cream and pizza, and spent much of her actual birthday at the playground. She constantly reminded us to sing and say “Happy Birthday” and begged me to make her a “birthday balloon” (a balloon with a smiley face drawn on it). She got pink roses from Dan and went on her second-ever Daddy-daughter-birthday date.

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Lydia has also been asking regularly if it’s warm enough to play in the sprinkler or go to a pool. Since the first day of spring, it’s been hard to keep socks or shoes on her feet, not to mention a coat. She loves playing “house” outside and is so proud that this year she’s big enough to climb into our tree house all by herself.

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Lydia loves to play pretend, dance, and snuggle. She is always dressing up as a bride or asking to “play princess” with Dan, which is not exactly his favorite game. 😉 She loves any hands-on activities and anything “special”. Bridal showers, weddings, holidays, birthdays, and get-togethers are sure to put her on her best behavior because she’s just so happy. When she learns it’s a significant day, for any reason, she’ll wonder why we aren’t celebrating more. For example, she asked why we weren’t having a fancy breakfast or a special dessert for groundhog’s day.

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Kindergarten was a breeze for Lydia. Thankfully (for me) she picks up on things really fast. Really, the best way to teach Lydia is to not teach her but let her watch others do the task. When she gets it in her head that she wants to try, she usually can succeed. This has worked well with laundry, cleaning up after meals, serving food, and even math lessons. I can get her to learn a lot more by doing a lesson half myself and letting her do the other half, than if I explain a concept to her and ask her to do the assignment alone.

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Gift-giving might be Lydia’s top love language. She loves to make “gifts” for people – homemade construction paper cards, simple cross-stitch pictures, cut out pieces of paper, and bouquets of flowers (dandelions or violets, usually) picked from our yard. She also loves receiving gifts. When she was struggling to do her reading lessons with a cheerful attitude, we discovered small prizes work wonders to get her motivated. And now that our library has started their summer reading program, Lydia has been reading at least a book a day to win her prizes, when it was always a struggle to do a page or two in her reading lesson book.

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She’s always been our most verbal child, so it’s no surprise that Lydia is almost always talking. If we had the patience and knowledge to answer all of her questions, she would be a genius. On ANY topic, Lydia can rattle off 5 questions without taking a break. Usually her trains of questions come to an halt whenever Mom or Dad have to ask for a break so we can focus on something or give attention to someone else. Lydia also has a very good memory. She has memorized over 100 Bible verses (with desserts as the most effective incentive). The other day we were listening to our daily news radio program during breakfast and one of their regular promo segments started playing. She recited the 30 second promo pretty well right on top of the program.

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This year is Lydia’s turn to accompany me to our church Ladies’ Retreat for a Mommy-Daugther date and she’s pretty thrilled. She’s been looking forward to her turn ever since I took Abby last year. Her memory is pretty incredible in that way too. For example, about nine months ago we took Lydia to a dentist appointment. They told her that she would earn a stuffed animal prize if she could stop sucking her thumb for 30 days. She stopped that very day. Last month I took her again and she got her prize. The next day I found her sucking her thumb after eight months without it! Dan and I had to explain that the point was to stop altogether, not just stop for eight months to earn her prize and then start again.

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Some of my most precious memories of Lydia lately have been our one-on-one times together. Sometimes Lydia will snuggle up next to me during nap time and play with my hair while she listens to an audio book. Occasionally Lydia helps me cook dinner, peeling carrots or stirring vegetables as they cook (that’s her favorite because she feels so grown up working at the stove). I try to remember to give her snuggles, hugs, and tickles whenever my hands are free because my hands are so often full, I’ll go days without a Lydia hug if I’m not intensional. (Don’t worry about her being deprived though, Dan picks up the slack. Lydia is quite gifted at sneaking into his lap whether he says it’s ok or not!)

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Little Man Turns Two

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It’s hard to believe Paul is already two years old. He is. And, when he’s not being shy, he’ll tell you he is.

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“How old are you Paul?”

“TWO!”, he’ll answer with a grin as he holds out his thumb and pointer finger to show you.

It’s cute. He is adorable. And he had a really great birthday.

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Before Paul was born, Dan and I joked that we needed a boy. Our girls like their snuggles from Daddy. Several months ago, there was so much fighting over who would sit on Daddy’s lap during Bible time, we had to set up a schedule. So Dan and I would joke that we needed a boy who wouldn’t need the snuggles from Daddy, a boy who would snuggle Mom instead. And do you know what? Paul is the snuggliest little two-year-old I’ve ever met. He wants Mommy to hold him during every meal, whenever he’s tired, and whenever he’s unsure about something. Paul is incredibly sweet and loves to help. Lately he’s enjoyed taking his bib off, bringing it into the kitchen, and throwing it into the sink. He usually does so in the middle of a meal, but it’s still adorable. He also likes to help with laundry, by pushing the wet clothes into the dryer as I put them down on the dryer door. Then he slams the door shut, usually before I’m done. He also likes to shut the dishwasher for me, while I’m still loading it. 😀

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Paul also likes to help set and clear the table. He’ll spot a condiment in the fridge and put in on the table and then come back for more. He’s choices don’t often match the meal (mustard when we’re having tacos, for example). When the meal is done and the girls are delaying as much as they can before clearing their dishes, Paul will walk back and forth, grabbing whatever is left on the table, and throwing it into the sink or trash (not always the right one).

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He’s also a Little Rascal. He’s cute and he knows it. He’s not afraid to cock his head to the side and give you his sweet “emoji” grin when he’s up to no good. He loves to wrestle, but doesn’t like to lose, and isn’t too old to run to Mom for a hug when he doesn’t win. He loves balls and bats, and toys or pictures of animals that growl. (He likes to growl.) Paul loves to be outside and will often grab his shoes and point to the coat closet to tell you he wants out, but he hates the cold and will stay inside whenever it’s below freezing.

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Like Abby, Paul has been slower to start talking. Recently we started using sign language for some basic words at meals and he’s picked up on those pretty well. Even more recently he has started picking up more words and putting words together. Here are some recent favorites:

Bible/Baseball – “Bay-Bul”
“No”
“Coat”
“Bye Nana” (after I got off the phone with my Mom the other day)
“Night Daddy”
“Thank You”
“Hold” (me)
Elijah John – “Lijah John”
Lydia – “Lee-ya”
“Car”
“Nose” (He finds it hilarious to say “nose” and point to your nose.)
OK Google – “Okay Gool” (which he says into my phone whenever he can get his hands on it)

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Paul loves being a big brother and hasn’t had much trouble adjusting, but sometimes he gets jealous if he sees me holding Elijah (or anyone else) when he wants to be held. Overall he is a great older brother who loves his siblings, snuggles his Mommy, and wants to be just like his Daddy.

We love you Little Man! Happy Second Birthday!

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Birthday Princess (Lydia’s Fifth Birthday Celebration)

Five years ago on Memorial Day, Lydia Hope was born unexpectedly. Unexpectedly because, after a completely routine and healthy pregnancy, my water broke at only 30 weeks. Several hours later we had a baby. This year, Lydia’s birthday fell on Memorial Day again. It was her fifth birthday. And, for several reasons, this one felt like a big one. Since Dan had the day off and Lydia knew exactly what she wanted to do for her birthday, and since Dan and I knew exactly what Lydia would love for her birthday, we made the day a pretty epic celebration.

Dan greeted Lydia in the morning with a birthday tiara and a bouquet of orange roses, her current favorite flower. Dan has a tradition of getting his girls birthday flowers and he puts a lot of thought into getting them flowers that they will love.

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Then Dan and Lydia took off on their own for Lydia’s first Daddy-daughter date. They went to Leo’s, a coney island just down the road from us, and Lydia got to pick whatever she wanted from the menu. Now Lydia had been fighting this plan for weeks because she likes us all to be together and just couldn’t understand why Daddy had to take just her. Afterward she told Dan, “I didn’t think it was going to be fun, but it was.”

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When they got back, we surprised Lydia with a couple of small gifts. Gum, and nail polish. She’s been drooling over both for the past several months with no idea she could ever actually chew gum or wear nail polish. “Maybe when I’m sixteen?”, she would ask. Lydia’s not usually a good “reaction” girl. She takes in surprises slowly and gets excited a day or so later. The gum and nail polish must have been pretty good surprises then, because her reactions were priceless.

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After lunch and a quick (failed) attempt at naps, we packed up and headed to the splash pad for some more fun. I didn’t bring my camera with me, so you’ll have to use your imagination on this part. Abby was beside herself with excitement. She loves playing in water. Paul was uncertain and spent much of the time watching the kids play but keeping away from the water himself. Lydia was in and out of the water, torn between relaxing on her towel and running around getting wet.

Then we fulfilled Lydia’s requests for dinner: pizza and ice cream from restaurants. The first pizza place we tried was closed for Memorial Day, but we yelped “best pizza” in the area and found a winner. We got our meal to go and ate outside at our favorite ice cream place, a locally owned Dairy King in Plymouth. Paul was a trooper and didn’t complain once about his steamed broccoli and bananas while the other kids got pizza and ice cream.

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There’s a picture of me when I was about Lydia’s age, eating some sort of blue ice cream out of a cone while standing on a beach. I wish I had it to post along with this one. Ice cream all over my face. Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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It was late by the time we got home, but we finally let Lydia open her “official” present from us, a new (bigger) ballet leotard and tights. The girls danced around in their dress up clothes before finally getting ready for bed

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As Dan was tucking Lydia in, I heard her crying, “Today was the best day in the woooorrrlllddd. I don’t want it to end everrrr.” Good thing we’re Taylors. “It’s not just a birthday, it’s a celebration” is what we like to say, and the celebration continued over the next two days.

Tuesday Lydia got her presents from my mom and Dan’s Gramma. Abby had trouble understanding why they weren’t for her and Paul was disgusted at the amount of clothes Lydia was opening.

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And, finally, Wednesday tapered off the celebration with a visit from Dan’s parents, more presents, and sharing the news with Lydia that Grandma got a job in Ann Arbor and is moving down here!

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The birthday was a complete success, way too much fun for me to handle in a day, and a meaningful way for us to show Lydia how very thankful we are that God has given her to us, even it she was unexpectedly early.