"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Day He Called Me LaLa

In my (super short - ha!) lifetime, I have undergone many role changes.  And in all honesty, it has always gone pretty smoothly.  Middle school to high school to college - no problem.  Single to girlfriend to wife - easy peasy.  Becoming a momma, pure joy.

BUT - becoming a grandma has not had that same smooth sailing feeling in my heart.  I always see these cute sayings about how amazing it is to be a grandma, and well. . . for me, it has been a struggle.

(I confess all of this because I have never heard anyone else say that earning the grandma badge is anything less than bliss, and I doubt I am alone.)

Hearing I was an expectant grandmother was actually the exact opposite of what I wanted.  During my daughter's first pregnancy, I was terrified.  She had never been in a poorer condition emotionally, physically, or spiritually.  I did not trust that her boyfriend would stick around.  I did not know how she would handle being a young mom.  Rather than joyful, the situation felt very tenuous.

When my grandson was born, I was totally relieved.  He was beautiful, content, and healthy.  His momma and daddy, together, worked hard to be good parents.  Yet, from my vantage point, grandparenting was hard.  Instead of being able to hug and snuggle and spoil that precious baby, I was constantly torn between attending to my grandson and my littlest daughter, who is just 15 months older.  The tension in my heart has been difficult.  The two babies seemed to be in direct competition for my love and undivided attention.  It often felt as if I were failing them both.

NOW, hear me clearly, I have never lacked love for my grandson.  Never!  And I have always been proud of the way his mommy, my beautiful and courageous firstborn, has risen to the challenge of parenthood.

THEY were never the problem.

My own expectations WERE the problem.

I had always envisioned being a grandma who had lots of TIME for her grandbabies.  I planned endless rocking and playing.  I was going to lavish my precious grandchildren with undivided attention when they were with me.  They were to feel like the center of my universe.

At this point in my life, grandparenting as I had always imagined grandparenting, is impossible.  My grandchildren MUST share me with my own children.  That has been hard.  Mataya has struggled with the role. . . a lot.  She has not been sweet and gentle all the time.  She has kicked, hit, bitten, stolen toys, etc... She has cried with jealousy and insecurity when I have cared for my grandson.  Many times, I am not sure if I should discipline her or reassure her.  Which child's needs should I meet first?  Who should get the sought after toy, this time?  There is a constant tension, both babies struggling to figure out their place in my heart.

Of course, there have been many moments of joy.  My grandson is sweet and content and delightful.  I have LOVED watching him grow.  I have LOVED the many hours he has spent at  "LaLa's day care" while his mommy has been at school.  (I have cared for him three days a week for much of his life!)  I have loved him heart and soul from the moment I knew he was coming. . . I just didn't feel very grandmothery.

Being a grandma and not feeling very grandmothery is a guilty thing.  I can not even totally explain it.  I LOVED him.  I knew he was my grandson, but it just felt odd.  Not special, just factual.  (I know none of this makes any sense.  How can I say I adore him and yet not feel that ushy-gushy grandma feeling?  I have no idea.  But that is how I felt.  I was truly a tiny bit detached and unsure. I was very uncomfortable, doubtful of my ability to succeed in this very important role as grandma.)

And my poor little grandson felt the exact same way.  This little people person learned all the names of family members before any other words.  His first 15 words were names.  He could say momma, and dada, grandpa, Joshua, Riley, TayTay, Rah-Rah (Sierra), Enna (Brenna), and all the names of his daddy's family, too.  But he called me, "MOOOM!"  Not the cute kind of momma.  He belted out, "MOOOM!" like Mataya did when she was in dire need.  And every time he did, I ignored him.  Or I responded, "Momma is at school.  Can LaLa help you?"

He was so frustrated.  Everyone else called me "mom" and I responded.  However, when he did, nothing happened.  Poor little guy.  He would repeat "LaLa" when I told him to - but his heart and mind just did not connect with the title.

We tried Grandma.  He knew that term.  He used it for his other grandma - but in reference to me, it just confused him.  I was just this weird lady that loved him, cared for him often, and didn't fit into any box he understood.

And then one day, he and him momma walked into my home and he yelled, "LaaaLaaaa!  LaaaaLaaa!"

At that exact moment, my heart melted in a way it had never melted before.  For the very first time, I felt like a grandma.  HIS grandma.  He asked for me!  And he asked for me first, not TayTay or Joshua - but LaLa.  He claimed me.  He gave me a name that no one else had ever given me.  It was precious and life-changing for me.

Since that day, we have a game.  It is a brand-new game.  One I have never played with anyone else, ever before.  It is ours, and ours alone.

I walk a few feet away from my sweet grandson and he yells, "LALA!"  To which I respond, "loves you!"  And he giggles quickly repeating, "LAAAALA"  We do this over and over and over, all day long.  And it never, ever, ever gets old.

Not a single struggle has changed.  The babies are still vying for my attention, all day long.  I continue to wonder how to balance the role of mommy and grandma simultaneously.  More than likely, I always will.  Yet, my heart has changed.  I am his LaLa.  He has named me.  He has claimed me.  He has changed me forever.

In just three short weeks, grandbaby number two will arrive.  This time I am being gifted with a granddaughter.  This time I am not scared.  I know the transition will be hard, her parents will be tired and stretched thin.  They will struggle to meet the demands of two little ones - BUT they will succeed.

As I await my granddaughter's birth, I am feeling something brand-new. . . joyful excitement.  I GET to be a grandma.  I will soon hold my tiny, precious granddaughter for the first time.  I can not wait.  The Lord took my own grandparents home this year, but he is sending me another tiny one to love and mentor and enjoy.  I no longer have a grandma, but I get to be a grandma.  I CAN use all the love they poured into me and pour it out into these precious, precious babies.  What an amazing gift.

Wyatt John, your Lala loves you with a special, all-encompassing love.  You made me a grandma, and I am so grateful.  Thank you for patiently teaching me how to do my job!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

WDA 2016

Sometimes it seems silly to blog about the normal stuff.  My heart is heavy with all that is happening in our world.  A devastating hurricane in Haiti.  A state of emergency in Ethiopia.  A ridiculous presidential race in America.  The deaths of young people.  So much tragedy and hate and unrest tugs at my heart and mind and prayers - but even in these crazy times (perhaps ESPECIALLY in these crazy times) I choose to savor, celebrate and document the normal, beautiful moments of my life and family.

Saturday was the WDA Cross Country meet.  It was cool and breezy.  The perfect day to race.

 Brenna had an amazing race!  She beat her previous PR by nearly one minute, placing 16th in the WDA!  It was so fun to watch her!  We are so proud of your hard work and improvement, Brenna-girl!

We also had a blast watching the high school teams.  Because we got to know the boys and their families during Jamison's years at CHS, watching them race is super special!  It was an extra special day because they won the WDA meet.  This has not happened since 1978!  The girls team won as well, in part because of the middle school girls who were asked to race with them.  The addition of the middle school girls (who we know and love) made that race personal as well.  So - it was all in all a superior day, and a nice escape.  I am not usually one to find a day of sports action a relaxing break from life, but yesterday it was just that!

Joshua does not love cross country - but he does love climbing trees!  Once in a while a race course has some good climbing trees.  These pictures were taken in Minot at last week's meet.  They were too cute not to post.

Life is a hard balance sometimes.  There is much going on that is and should be driving me to my knees.  It almost feels wrong to post this "silly little stuff" in the midst of it all, and yet to skip it is to sacrifice the gift that it is.  Little stuff matters.  Little moments of triumph and laughter are what get us through most days.  So, I won't sacrifice the gift that they are; BUT, I will also be praying over the BIG things.  I will be giving them over to the Lord many times each day, trusting them to He who is able to do more than we can ask for or imagine.

Friday, October 7, 2016

He Came Home

It has been a hard week.  One of Jamison's high school classmates and friends died in a tragic hunting accident.  While this news would always hit me hard, at this point in my life, it was so very personal.  I miss having daily contact with Jamison so very much.  So Very Much.  And yet this momma will never again have contact with her son, this side of heaven.  It just wrecks me.

Plus, because I had not seen Jamison face to face, I didn't really know how he was doing in the after math of this tragedy.  It is the first peer that my kids have lost.  There is something intense about someone your own age dying.  

Plus, the little kids were missing Jay.  Mataya had refused to talk to him since he moved into the dorm.  On the brief occasions she had been around him, she would not go near him.  She told me, "I mad at him.  He go 'way!"  And Joshua had lost his wrestling partner.  For an eight year old boy, that is a huge loss.

Soooooo, when Jamison showed up at about 3:00 this afternoon, I was so grateful.  For four and a half hours, we chatted.  For the first time since he moved out, I feel like I know a bit about his life again.  

He played with the little kids.  Mataya was ALL over him.  Begging in silly toddler fashion, "Jay don't get me!  Jay don't tickle me!  Jay!  Jamison, Jayyy-missss-sssonnn don't chase me!  Jamison don't get me with your beard!!!" for his attention.  And he lavished it on her.  Chasing and hugging and tickling and playing.  

When Joshua walked in from school, Jamison jumped off the couch and greeted him in a wrestler's stance.

We had supper together.  I did his laundry.  Sierra and Jay chatted in the kitchen while I cleaned up supper.  Normal felt soooo good.

My heart is so much more relaxed this evening.  A couple of big hugs and a few hours with my son made me feel so much better.  He really is doing well.  I saw it in his eyes.

Confession - I really did not expect to miss him this much!  I truly am OK.  I don't walking around crying all the time.  I am functioning quite well - BUT there is this constant tension in my heart wondering how he is, missing the daily mundane moments of his life.  Krissy has always stopped home every couple of days, so this is all new to me.  I had no idea how pathetic I would be!  I even roll my eyes at myself sometimes!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Learning to Fly

Truth - I am missing my tall son a whole lot.

In the past six weeks, I have seen him a total of 5 hours.  I was NOT prepared for that!

I have learned that while having him close by for college is a HUGE advantage in case of an emergency, it is a disadvantage in that he may never come home for a weekend (outside of when they close the dorm for Christmas.)  Jamison is super busy right now.  He is taking 19 credits, practicing with his track and xc team three hours a day, and working 10-16 hours each weekend.  He is also choosing to live the college life, hanging with friends and going to campus activities.  All this does not leave time to stop by momma's house.  While I am so very happy that he is doing well SO VERY HAPPY), there are days, like today, that I could really use a big hug and a long chat with my man-child.

Instead, I spend the day praying for him - thanking God for the man Jamison has become and asking his blessing, guidance, and protection to follow him always.

As I get used to him being gone, I often think of a comment he made years ago.  We were eating dinner and discussing ages of children we most enjoyed.  I claimed to like every age.  Jamison looked at me carefully and said, "Actually mom, the age you will not like is the age when we leave."

Oh, my son.  How correct you were.  And yet, I celebrate with you!  I am so proud of you.  I don't wish you back.  I am proud of your wings.  They are serving you well.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Building a Dream - Garage Concrete

In typical Chad Dietrich fashion, much has taken place in a short period of time at our lake lot.

While my husband is good at many things, he is a master at design work.  He has great vision, and he can somehow take a rock and turn it into a diamond.  Our lot was nice when we bought it, but I am shocked and awed at the way he has transformed the place with his large equipment.  A bit more dirt in some areas and a bit less in others has changed the place immensely.  (Much more than photos can express!)

In addition to dirt work, he and a couple of our employees have poured the concrete slab for our garage.  (I am not sure who is happiest about the lake garage, Chad and I. . . or Sierra.  Currently her vehicle sits outside because the garage is full of toys.  Once the toys are tucked into the lake garage, she gets to park inside.)  A few other employees have been building the wall panels inside the shop.  If things go as planned, the garage will be standing very soon.

 Chad spent Thursday through Sunday at the lake.  Since the kids had school and other activities, I was only there for about an hour on Saturday.  He is great at sending me photo updates.  And because he knows me so well, he sent me a picture of the sunset view.  That is love people, especially since he is not a sky guy.  (Also notice the spruce trees that he planted.  The lot is on a cliff.  One side is well protected from the ND wind by existing trees.  On the other side we are creating a windbreak of our own.  We could not find anyone local to haul trees in, so we bought the tallest trees we could move ourselves in the hopes that it won't be too long before we will reap the benefits!  So far six are planted.  We have 8 more to haul up next week.)
 Crummy cell phone picture - but it does document the size of the trees!
Tay Tay was so happy to see her daddy.  They found a pretty spot for a water break.
As he was leaving today, Chad took this photo.  It does a good job of showing how he enlarged the front of the lot by filling in a low spot.  The camper is sitting near where we will build the cabin.

This will have an entirely different look by next October!  It will be an exciting year to come.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

An Emotional Roller Coaster of a Week

It was a wild and crazy week.  Some long time dreams began to unfold,  in the midst of a whole lot of mundane craziness.  It was a week of constant activity, those are always the hardest for me.

On Monday, I began a new job.

This summer I was looking through job listings, with my teenage children in mind, when I came across something that made my heart leap.  It was a job working with teens in a group/foster care setting.  I can not even totally explain why, goodness knows it was not too much time on my hands, but I immediately wanted to pursue it.  It has been a long time since I felt that way.  Practical or not, I just wanted to serve.  My heart has long ached to have more knowledge and experience in working with older kids from hard places.  I have all sorts of dreams for our home as it clears out, many of them include teens, yet I know I do not have the knowledge or experience to truly pursue any of them.  This job seemed to be a God send.  It would give me training - both classroom style and hands-on.  The problem, of course, was time.  Chad agreed to me working one shift a week and one weekend a month.  So, I applied with those boundaries in mind.  I was hired to work as a sub.  Though I have gone to several trainings, which have been great, I had not met the kids until Monday.  I am very intrigued and excited to see just where all of this leads.

While I was at work Monday night (my shift is 3pm to 11pm) Mataya took a leap off the couch and hurt her foot.  Though she cried long and hard after the fall, she slept well.  Chad was hopeful that she was OK.  By mid-morning, I was not convinced.  While she was as active as ever, she was limping.  Two-year-olds don't limp.  So, we enlisted Grandpa Scott to watch Wyatt while Mataya and I went to see the doctor.  She was a champ through the visit and x-rays.  BUT, she came home with "the boot."  Because of a hairline fracture on the top of her foot near her pinky toe, she was sentenced to 10 days in the boot.  The pain from her fracture is not too bad.  Her hatred for the boot comes and goes.  Sometimes she is OK with it.  Other times, she is NOT.  When Mataya is not happy, she is really NOT HAPPY.  It has been exhausting.

On Wednesday, a long time dream of Chad and myself began to unfold.

We purchased a lake lot.  For many, many years we have prayed that in His time, God would open a door for us to have a lake property. My dream was very specific - it needed to be within 2 hours of our home, at a lake that was good for both fishing and playing, in an area that Chad and the kids could also hunt, with lots of gravel roads for me to run and bike on, right on the water, and not over crowded, and it needed to be affordable.  Chad and I have carefully watched listings for years and there was NOTHING that would fit my list perfectly.  Honestly, nothing even came very close.  However, in July, we found it!

I am still in awe at how it all unfolded, and as of Wednesday it is officially ours!  One little lakeside acre that we will develop into a haven away from home.  Mataya and Wyatt were both with us at the closing and together, and we spent a fun afternoon exploring our lot.  Though I had dreaded having two toddlers with us that day, in the end, it was super special to have Wyatt.  One of the reasons Chad and I wanted a lake lot so badly was that we wanted a place where ALL our kids and grandkids could gather to just BE.  Having Wyatt there at the beginning of this new venture was precious.  He toddled all over the lot, gathering sticks and yelling for "Gampa."  Oh, Wy-guy, we are going to make so many more memories on that plot of prairie!

Here is a sneak peak:
 The whole development is on top of a hill.  We do have lake access, but it is at the bottom of a steep embankment.  That is both good and bad.  It is safer for the littles  and the view is amazing, but cutting steps into the cliff side will be a JOB!

 The sandy area is being developed as a swim beach.

I swore I would never build another home - unless it was a lake home.  Believe it or not, I am totally excited to begin building next spring.  We will do almost everything by ourselves, on a shoestring budget.  I am soooo up for the challenge.  We will live in the camper while we build the cabin and sell the camper once it is complete.  We have three years to complete the cabin, so we are planning to build and play on our weekends there.  We want to get it done - but NOT at the break neck speed we had to build our home.  I am hoping to enjoy this process.  HOPING!!

 This will be the view from my bedroom.  The cabin will be small.  One of the reasons we love camping is that we all share the same space, we want to make sure the cabin is snuggly.  The plan is all our own and will be submitted for a permit tomorrow!  If all goes as we hope, we will build a detached garage yet this fall.  Our garage at home is too full!  Getting the boat and water toys out will be a huge relief!

In the spring we will begin working on the cabin.

I am not even sure I can adequately explain how humbly grateful I am that God opened this door.  I nearly wept as we drove into the development after closing.  THIS opportunity to create a space for people to hang and connect and rest is such an incredible blessing.

Thursday, I had an all day first aid and CPR class. 

 It was an emotionally exhausting day.  So many things discussed brought back far from healed memories of the morning my grandma died.  I was exhausted to begin with, which never helps - but it was NOT a fun day.  The bright spot was knowing Mataya was happy and safe with her Grammy though.

Friday was chaos.  

Mataya was a total barracuda.  She had had enough of the boot.  I had a ton of work to do at my office.  My house looked like it should given the level of crazy the week entailed.  I was completely wiped both physically and emotionally - but payroll got done and Mataya was kept safe, if not happy.  And as the sun went down. Brenna celebrated an important Dietrich milestone when she harvested her first deer.

She was so incredibly pleased.  It was so very wonderful to celebrate with her after such a hard day.  

A few things I want to remember about that night:
 - the first person she called to tell of her success was her Great Grandpa Hoff who is the source of the family hunting fettish.  He was waiting up for her call.
-next she called Grammy.  I LOVE all the family connection.
-she group texted Sierra, Jamison, and I of her harvest.  Jamison's response of "ATTA GIRL!" brought tears to both my and Sierra's eyes.  Man, we miss that guy.
-when she got home her eyes were sparkling and happy and proud, as were her dad's.

They headed to the garage to get that stinky animal on ice, while I crashed, feeling incredibly thankful for sleep.

Saturday was a very special day for my husband.

  You see, when her was 12 or 13 he bought his first car.  He worked on it constantly though out middle school and high school.  He took me to the Prom in it.  We drove it to our wedding.  And then life happened.  Kids and business and lack of space and time and money caused his first love to spend about 20 years in storage.  She (the car) became mouse infested, scratched, stinky, and in need of a major overhaul.  Chad waited patiently,and finally last winter he began working on the old girl.  The goal was to have her up and running for Jamison's graduation, and although that did not happen, SATURDAY it did.  

 Chad still has a list of this and that he dreams of perfecting, but all in all this car has never looked better.  And it has certainly never run better.  It was so fun to just drive, feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair and chill next to my boyfriend of forever.  It was incredibly therapeutic.  Seeing Chad drive with his "car grin" plastered on his face was pretty therapeutic as well.
 Chad and I went to lunch, and then we headed over to his grandparent's home.  

The first time I ever met Chad's grandpa it was very late at night.  We were on a date and this very car was struggling.  A hose had blown and Chad needed tools.  He woke up his grandpa, who patiently got dressed and came out into the dusk to help him repair the hose.  When we finally had this beauty out and running like a top, we both knew Grandpa needed to be among the first to get a ride.
Chad and his grandpa are two peas in a pod.  Chad looks more like his grandpa than anyone else, by a landslide, and they share many of the same interests.  Seeing them together makes my heart ache a little these days.  Time is fleeting, and I want to soak in every moment.

We headed home and took the kids for a cruise.  (Mataya is in a car seat.)  They were hilarious!  Mataya and Joshua loved the wind in their hair.  The giggled and goaded their daddy to drive faster the entire time.

Today, Chad and Joshua brought the camper to the lake lot and did some garage prep work.  The girls and I played catch-up at home.  It was noisy.  Mataya is struggling.  The boot is making her crazy, which makes me crazy, which makes us all crazy.  UGH!

While I am thankful for the BIG highs of last week, I am hoping for a calmer, gentler week ahead.  

As I tucked Mataya in tonight, I prayed her usual blessing "Mataya Hope, may the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him."  In spicy Mataya fashion, she repeated every phrase like this "No Taya Hope. . . No fill you.  . no joy and peace. . . no trust Him. . . no like bedtime!!!!!"  And as I think on it now, that is often how I approach His joy and peace.  Things are good.  Peaceful.  Blessings abound.  And I am busy thinking of the next thing.  Rushing.  Refusing the moment.  Refusing to chill out and trust.

She is so like me.

(I'm sorry baby girl!)

This week I vow to savor, to allow Him to fill me, to trust and to embrace His rest.  By His strength.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mataya Hope at 2.5

At 2.5 Mataya Hope. . .
*is absolutely, positively "the baby of the family" in every sense of the word.  While she is quite grown up for her age, her approach to life is that of a "baby."  She works a crowd, sweetly charming all around her, seeing just how much attention she can get.  And when things don't quite go her way. . . all sweetness disappears and a big old fit ensues.  (Not always, of course.  She is not a monster child - but her approach at life is textbook baby.  It cracks me up because although Brenna was the baby for many years, as was Joshua, she is the first that fits the "baby" mold in terms of personality and problem solving.)
*is a total momma's girl.  "NO!!!!! Momma do it!" is shouted often and loudly when anyone else wishes to help her.  When she hears that I am planning to go anywhere her first words are always, "I go with you?"  She does fine when I am away, but weeps at the very thought.
*cries, "I just want my Daddy" in a small pitiful voice when momma refuses her.  BUT only when he is not home to come to her rescue.
*hates going to bed.
*loves all things preschool - painting, coloring, play dough, sidewalk chalk, puzzles, short videos, and books - lots and lots of books.

*is very literal in her play.  I often find water in the sink of her play kitchen.  She gets real utensils out when she is "cooking."  She keeps the sippy cup she is drinking from in her pretend fridge.
*has graduated from the "froggy potty."  (YES!!!  While the potty chair was a step up from diapers, simply flushing trumps dumping out that little bucket by a landslide!)
*loves to play with dolls.  Once again she is very literal.  They need matching clothes, blankets, bottles, etc...)  I love to watch her rock and bounce and talk to them!
*enjoys her nephew Wyatt.  They even (sort of) play together once in a while!
*is very physical and active.  She loves to race, climb, and jump.  She walks in the store (ugh!) and has totally vetoed the stroller.
*loves to change clothes.  She goes through about 5 outfits a day.
*does very well playing while I work at the office.  She likes to explore in daddy's machines when given the chance.

*has an incredible vocabulary and speaks paragraphs.  One day she told me, "Mom, Brenna gave me chap chap."  I responded how nice it was that Brenna shared.  She chirped back, "Brenna is amazing mommy.  I look up at her!"
*speaks about herself in first person.  When asked her name she usually responds, "TayTay."  But sometimes she says, "Mataya."
*she likes to count everything.
*if asked what she wants to do, she usually says "go to zoo!"  Mommy's IPad is another favorite.  Ugh!
*likes the color pink best.
*can sit through an entire movie, when she chooses.  That is fun because movies are a favorite Friday night activity around here.
*loves to tease.
*is NOT happy that Jamison went to college.  She has only seen him once since he moved out and she refused to talk to him or hug him.  She told me, "I mad at him.  He go away!"
*eats like a bird.  This little one has never had a very big appetite.
*understands that God heals.  All summer long we have been praying for God to heal one injury or another - bug bites, skinned knees, stubbed toes. . . Last week I had a nasty stomach ache.  When she heard about it Mataya said, "God will heal it mommy.  I pray for you."  She continued with eyes scrunched closed, "God mommy tummy.  Heal it.  Amen."
*likes the alone time with mom when the kids are at school.
*has begun responding to almost everything with "why?"
*is soooo excited about the baby girl in her big sister's tummy.  She talks about the beby all the time.  She can not wait to see her.  She says, "I will hold her in chair.  I sing her a song and kiss her.  She be sooo cute."  Mataya insisted that we dig out the rock and play so the baby has a place to sleep at our house once she arrives.  She also begs to buy her things every time we are shopping.  And every item she picks is... pink!  Her excitement is so precious.

Chad and I often laugh because Mataya is so different than our first four children.  She is wild and carefree and manipulative in a way they were not.  I have said many times that she is making me a better grandma!  Things that I took for granted with the other kids have not come easy with her.  For example, nursing was a bust.  I always thought anyone could nurse if they worked at it hard enough.  She changed my mind!  There was a time when she was truly not capable of sitting quietly for more than 5-10 minutes.  Chad and I always took the oldest kids everywhere with us.  With Mataya, we chose activities carefully.  We took turns going to the older kids' concerts and did not go out to eat for about six months.  It was not a behavior problem, she was just not capable.  Another new experience.

Mataya is truly the sweetest little thing.  She is bold and silly and pure fun 85% of the time.  She waves happily to strangers and chats with lonely old men at restaurants.  She radiates joy.  And yet. . .she can turn on a dime and throw a fit like few others.  Some days she depletes me to a level I did not think a two year old could deplete a parent.  Thankfully, most days she is all sunshine and completes us in such a delightful way.  I have never enjoyed a little person more, but she is no robot!  He doctor called her out well.  At her one year check he told me, "She is really smart.  Give her an inch, she will take a mile.  I suggest a short leash!"  (Keep in mind he has been our pediatrician for 20 years.  He knows me well, and I he.  His casual speech was fitting of our relationship.)

One day last week we had a perfectly, perfect morning.  We dressed dollies.  Colored.  Made supper together (she loves to mix and measure).  Did an exercise video.  Read books.  Folded clothes.  And I introduced her to Dora the Explorer on video.  (yes, on purpose)  She loved it, especially because I danced and yelled to Dora and Boots right along with her.  At nap time, she gave me the biggest, tightest hug and said, "It a good day momma.  You my best friend."

Those moments are the ones I want to hide in my heart.  Forever.
Mataya Hope, you are a gift.  I am so thankful God sent you to us.  So thankful!