a blog about raising a daughter with cerebral palsy and learning unexpected lessons along the way

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On the Day You Turned Three

Dearest Esme,

No one ever told us how steep the learning curve is from age 2 to 3. A little warning would have been nice. Or maybe not. What a beautiful and refreshing surprise to ruin. The ride along this year's learning curve with you was straight up, way up and fast. And it was downright incredible. The two year old in you, Esme, has had me wishing that forever there would be toddler feet pattering the floors of our home and that the sound of your mispronounced words would always come from your nubby little body whose head barely reaches my waist. I loved age two. And I adore you. It's bittersweet this growing up thing you've chosen to do, and a part of my heart was truly sad to see this formative year of your life side right past your Daddy and I.
A typical conversation in the weeks leading up to your third birthday...
How old are you?
"Two", you'd say with two fingers extended.

And how old are you going to be?
"Free", you'd answer with a twinkle in your beautiful brown eyes and three fingers extended.

When is your birthday?
"July twenty", spoken with the sweetest emphasis on the u. "I'm having an Under the Sea party!"
And yes, Esme, that's exactly what we had on the day you turned three. On Joooly twenty. An Under the Sea party for you, our beautiful baby girl who believes in "mernaids". Especially the red-headed ones.
On the day you turned three, I softly sang "Happy Birthday" to you as I entered your room to greet you for the day. You were cozy, and warm, and still covered. You gave me a sleepy smile as you stretched your arms above your head, then asked "Am I three now?"

On the day you turned three, I felt the need to photograph your every detail just as it was, right then and there. Somewhere among you are last remnants of baby and I'm still desperately trying to capture the last of it all before it all fades away. Your silky hair, your eyelashes, your shiny nose and cheeks, your fingers, your little legs and feet. But you denied my camera on the morning of your birthday and played shy. That's ok. I like this side of Esme, too. It's very you.
On the day you turned three, I reflected on the day you were born. Naturally. I did so all day long really, but especially so while alone in the garage as I hung the jellyfish decorations for your party that you, your sister, and I made together. Happy tears flowed the moment I first saw your pink little body fresh from mine, as well as on the day you turned three. I will always cry on the birthday's of you and your sister because reflecting on fond memories and giving way to happy tears are a few of my favorite things to do.
On the day you turned three, we celebrated you with a small but powerful fraction of the dearest people we know and love. And who know and love you. Your NeNe and PaPa were here. And among these dearest of people also includes Suzie, Sawyer and the Butler's, who traveled the morning of your party from North Carolina, then back again on the same day. You are so loved, Esme. And so fortunate.
On the day you turned three, you carelessly and joyfully ran around our yard barefoot with all of your little friends. And you bounced nonstop in the pink bounce house we rented for your big day. It was the same one we had for Oia's birthday party last year. You loved it. We all did. You jumped so long and hard that there was not one strand of dry strawberry blonde hair left on your head. You have always been a little hot box.
You celebrated your birthday with your PaPa, who turned 75 on the very day you turned three. Calling my Dad, your PaPa, from my hospital bed on the day you were born to announce the arrival of you, his second granddaughter AND to wish him a happy birthday in the same phone call was one of the neatest things I have ever done. Celebrating each of your birthdays together since then is nothing short of a blessing.
Oh Esme. A couple of weeks before your birthday you asked me if I would still love you when you turned 3. Such innocence poured from your voice. Realizing in a moment that such a thoughtful question needed reassurance in it's reply, I said I'd love you no matter how old you'd become. And no matter what you'd do. It's unconditional, this love. A Mommy's heart never stops growing and filling up with love for her children. Trust me on that one.
So go ahead and grow, Esme. I want you little forever, it's true. But some big and mighty things are destined for you. I'm certain of it. Grow up, and be kind, be love. Be 3, be 4, be whatever age the good Lord is willing you to be. Your father and I will always, alwaysalwaysalways love you. And so will many others. Especially that pretty cool big Sis of yours. We love you so much, Esme Anne. Even more than you love mernaids. We will never forget the tiny you and everything about you, on the day you turned three.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Home Sweet Home: The Beginning

The idea of building a home of our dreams was at one time just casual dinner conversation between Rob and I, just two young souls who weren't even married yet. Remembering one of these vague and lofty conversations had while on the back deck of our first fixer-up home makes me smile wide and feel silly all at the same time. We had no earthly idea what we wanted or even needed in a "forever" home, but it seemed so adventurous and easy to dream big among ourselves and say aloud, Yup, one day we will build ourselves a house!

Skip ahead about 15 years, a few moves, and two kids later, and our "one day" has come. That little hump in the mountain to the right contains a sliver of land (purchased last Fall) that we have deemed suitable and perfect for spreading our family's roots and for growing two things: dreams and little girls. It seems as if all the world knew this place was for us and our family and has graciously agreed to leave it alone just as it is for all this time, while waiting for us to find it when the time was right. All I can say is that this place was meant to be. It's us. It just feels right.

Our builder broke ground just a little over two weeks ago to begin building the home that we have spent well over a year designing. Seeing the first downed trees and mounds of shuffled dirt, not to mention the cleared path intended to be the lane made for a very surreal and exciting day. Holy cow, this is really happening! Our home is officially underway and expected to be complete this Novemeber. With any luck, Thanksgiving memories will be of the first memories made inside this home. Critters will be added to the family as the girls have their hearts set on a cat or dog or both and Mommy wants chickens. Daddy is a good sport who gives way to our shenanigans and an even better man for providing in great and many ways for his family. It's because of him that our lungs will soon savor the first scents of a crisp and woodsy autumn, our ears will delight in the steady spring-fed stream that runs fast down the mountainside just behind our home, and our minds will stretch wide into the privacy we have been blessed to find.

Home is wherever my family is... and soon, we'll be across the railroad tracks from where the foundation remains of a historic train station are still visible today...
Then, just down the narrow and private gravel road a few yards...
Past one of the most beautiful trees I've ever seen...
And beyond the old barn on your right...
To the left of the "Custom Home" sign...
Down the little curved lane. We'll be right there. Soon.

Currently, the large hole is a teaser of what's yet to come. (I spy Rob and Oia.)

So much to look forward to. So much to be excited and thankful for. So do stay tuned. This is just the very beginning.