/Letters to My Children 2015/ September

Dear Jonah,

In 2 more days you will be TWO years old! And what a difference a year makes... you went from bald crawling baby to a walking talking little boy. Full of energy, curiosity, sweetness and stubbornness. At some point this year you discovered that if you're going to have a mischievous streak, it's quite helpful to also be very charming. We both know that sweet smile of yours makes it awfully hard to stay mad at you.

This year also brought some big changes... right after your 1st birthday, we moved into our new house. And just last month you started Montessori preschool. It's been a tough transition at times, but your teachers adore you and you love having Emma right across the hall. The teachers asked me if you guys ever fight because you seem to have such a strong and loving bond. I had to laugh at that one. While the strong and loving bond part is certainly true, you definitely know how to push each others' buttons. But I promise you no one will be there for you like your sister, and vice versa. I'm excited to see how your relationship continues to grow as you get older and can do more things together... you want nothing more right now than to be able to keep up with your big sister!

Daddy and I love you like crazy and feel pretty darn lucky we get to be your parents... we can't wait to see what the next year brings for you! Here's to another year of adventure, snuggles, and endless smiles.



I'm joined in this project by some brilliant photographers... please head over to Melissa's blog to read her letter, then follow the links around until you end up back here. 

/Letters to My Children 2015/ August


Dear Emma,

Summer break with you sure flew by this year! Even though it's only 2 weeks, we always pack so much fun into that short time together. From the backyard to the creamery and many adventures in between, we spent our days being silly and carefree. I think my favorite day was when you and Jonah turned a simple art project into a full on body painting extravaganza. I hope I never forget the sound of your laughter as I hosed you off afterward. :)


As you head back to school this week, I want you to know how very proud of you I am. You have one of the kindest, most thoughtful hearts I've ever known, and that's no more apparent than in your love for Jonah. It's his first week at your school, and while you're very excited that he's finally in the same school as you, he's naturally having a lot of anxiety as he adjusts to new people and new routines. I can't even tell you how proud it made me to hear from his teacher that you went over to his room yesterday to help him feel better, and that his special treat after nap was to go see his big sister. It was your first day back, too, and you had every right to want to spend it playing with your friends. But instead you were there for your little brother when he needed you. That's a big job you took on, and you did it with the grace and generosity of someone well beyond your 4 years. They say our children are our greatest teachers, and you my girl make me certain that's true.




I'm joined in this letter writing project by some very talented photographers. I encourage you to head over to Melissa's blog to read her letter, then follow the links until you land back here!

/10 on 10/ July 2015

Another great 4th of July at the cabin! The highlight of the weekend was Emma finally fishing on her own (she's been building up to it for the past two summers). She was fearless, persistent, and hilarious. She named each worm, named each fish, and comforted the fish as Jared removed the hook. She probably caught 10 fish all on her own by the time the weekend was over, and was so thrilled to be a "real fishergirl!" :) /1/ Taking this big sister thing to a new level


/2/ Perfectly capable of doing it on his own2015-07-09_0002

/3/ My favorite old door in all the land2015-07-09_0003

/5/ Got a bite!2015-07-09_0004

/6/ Back to wandering2015-07-09_0005

/7/ Time to cool down2015-07-09_0006

/8/ I believe this one was "Slimy Joe"2015-07-09_0007

/9/ Reel 'em in!2015-07-09_0009

/10/ My guys <32015-07-09_0010

Please head over to Dominique's blog to check out her incredible 10 on 10!

/10 on 10/ June 2015

We were in North Carolina this past weekend, and despite 15 hours in the car with 2 toddlers over 2 days, we had a great time. The kids were especially excited about their first hotel stay (that they remember). /1, 2/ morning cartoons


/3, 4, 5/ when in Rome2015-06-09_0002

/6, 7, 8/ back in the car2015-06-09_0003

/9, 10/ big kid cups are the best2015-06-09_0004

Click here to check out Carri's stellar 10 on 10!

/Letters to My Children 2015/ May

2015-05-24_0001 Dear Jonah,

Oh my guy... you must be the cutest, sweetest little wrecking ball that ever was. If it can be dumped out, poured out, crushed, mashed, or deconstructed in any way, you'll find a way to do it - with a huge smile on your face, of course.


Eating with you lately is particularly entertaining. You've become very opinionated about what you want, and even more so about what you don't want. Meals are a contact sport full of charm, equal parts laughing and yelling, and big messes.




But for all your Bam Bam ways, you still melt my heart every single day with that sweet smile, your huge hugs, and fierce love. You are adamant about the family all being together, Rocco included. If someone's not there, you say their name Stanley Kowalski-style until they appear (or you get distracted by food). Emma has become your partner in crime, your biggest annoyance, and very best friend. And Daddy? Daddy's your superhero, rockstar, apple of your eye, center of your universe, best dad in the history of all dads. There is no one on the planet you adore more than him, and getting to watch you two together is one of the great joys of my life.




Here's to a summer filled with grand adventures, long weekends, less Super Glue, more patience all around, and lots of snuggles and sloppy kisses. I love you to pieces and pieces and pieces, my JoJo.



Please head over to Melissa’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!

/Letters to My Children 2015/ April

2015-04-24_0001 Dear Emma,

My darling girl... my almost 4 year old. What a joy it is to be your mama. I get a front row seat to the sweet, hilarious, fierce, thoughtful, creative wonder that is YOU. Spring has brought on a new, more mature phase for you... morning goodbyes at school are easier, you're taking on new responsibilities, and you've become so observant and curious about the world and people around you. We even have a special time before bed dedicated to you asking me whatever questions you want. Which always leads to more questions, and more questions after that. I think you'd stay up all night asking me questions if you could.



Your obsession with all things princess continues to intensify, and I'm slowly coming around to being okay with it. I always try to remind you that what makes the princesses we learn about most special is how kind, brave, and caring they are - not how pretty they are or how fancy their outfits may be. I don't know how much of that is sticking, but a mama's gotta try.


More than anything, what's best about this phase is how incredibly sweet you are with your brother and what an awesome big sister you're becoming. You've always been a great big sister, but now that Jonah is bigger and you can really play together it's clear what an important role you're going to play in each other's lives. You are so quick to show him things, share your food and toys, and comfort him when he's sad. He's still learning and not always the best at reciprocating your desire to share, but you're pretty understanding.





Nearly every night at bedtime, you say goodnight to Jonah by singing a song you learned from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. You just randomly started singing it to him a few months ago and we had no idea that you even knew the words, but it was pretty much the sweetest thing we'd ever heard. It goes:

"The moment I first held you, you seemed to me / The most wonderful gift to our family / Goodnight, sleep tight / Dream dreams as sweet as you"

Emma's goodnight song for Jonah from Allison Shellaway on Vimeo.

He'll learn to love it. ;)

We love you so much, my sweet girl, and are always so proud to be your parents.



Please head over to Melissa’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!

/Letters to My Children/ March 2015

2015-03-24_0001 Dear Jonah,

What an awesome couple of months it's been since I last wrote to you! You are becoming a little boy right before our eyes, cute as can be and keeping us on our toes. You are eating constantly and have recently discovered how to get into the pantry. We have to be super diligent about putting the child lock on so as not to find you arm deep in a container of puffs and about to move on to the raisins. (Not that that happened or anything.)


Your curiosity knows no limits these days, and you're rapidly discovering all the new places you can reach, things you can turn on and off, doors you can open and close. Daddy and I are trying to pacify this desire by putting more Jonah-friendly things within reach, but that stuff is apparently quite boring compared to everything else just out of reach.


What I love most about this stage with you is how much you're talking and how excited you get when you can say a new word. You've put a great priority on learning all the food words (shocker), but you've also started saying "love you!" which is the best thing ever to hear at the end of a long work day. Just this week you finally got a handle on "Emma" (you used to call her Mama, which was rather confusing for all of us), and have been saying her name constantly for the past several days. You two have your sibling moments, but I know she so loves hearing you saying her name and asking for her.


When all is said and done - or eaten in your case - you're still our ever sweet little Jo... a snuggle bug who gives the best sloppy kisses and has one of the world's truly great smiles. We love you so much and can't wait to see what the next couple of months have in store for you.






Please head over to my very sweet friend Ally’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!

/10 on 10/ March 2015

We busted the Learning Tower back out last weekend and Jonah is a wee bit obsessed with it. As soon as he got up there we couldn't get him to come back down. Half an hour later, I had my 10 on 10 for this month... /1/ 2015-03-09_0001










Please head over to Christine’s blog to see her 10 on 10 for this month!

/Letters to My Children/ February 2015

2015-02-27_0001 Dear Emma,

I've been so drawn to taking portraits of you lately... You're growing into your personality more every day and I so love capturing all the many sides of you. You're oh so silly, and astoundingly smart, and most of all incredibly sweet and thoughtful. You're also emerging as a bit of an introvert, which isn't surprising since you hail from a looooong line of introverts. We're working on helping you be more social around people you don't know, but daddy and I are so proud of your maturity and independence. Even when you're in a new situation where you don't know the other kids, you happily find your own way.

2015-02-27_0003In school news, you've been making awesome progress with your moveable alphabet, and just this week started writing words! With no help from me, you sounded out and spelled "hat" all by yourself. You were so proud and excited. "Mama! I spelled a real word!!"  It's like it all clicked for you and after that you wanted to write every three letter word you know. Dad, cat, bat... You were on fire and it was truly awesome to watch. Not too shabby for three and a half. (Thanks, Montessori!)

2015-02-27_0005We love you so much, bubba, and are so proud to be your parents. 



2015-02-27_0007Please head over to my very sweet friend Ally’s blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!

/Letters to My Children/ January 2015

2015-01-31_0001 My sweet Jonah,

What a wild ride this month has been with you! Injuries, illnesses, and your newfound desire to get into everything that isn't nailed down. There's no taking our eyes off of you right now, that's for sure. But for as mischievous as you've become, you're also getting sweeter - and smarter - by the day. You're at this awesome stage right now where every day you have a new word or a new trick and everything is starting to come together for you. As a parent, it's a pretty incredible thing to witness. I can see the baby in you diminishing by the day, so I'm trying to enjoy every single  "wovey," "nnnack!," "tank you," and "buppy." I know all too soon they'll turn into "lovey," "snack," "thank you," and "up" and that bittersweet feeling of my baby turning into a toddler will wash over me. Not too fast, my sweet boy... not too fast.



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Please head over to my immensely talented friend Ally's blog to read her letter, then continue around the circle until you land back here!

/Letters to My Children/ October

dearemma Whew! What a month October was for us! We usually try to avoid throwing a ton of change at you all at once, but this month it was pretty unavoidable. We kicked off the month by moving into our new house, and while Daddy and I were super worried about how you'd react to the move, you handled everything with patience and understanding well beyond your 3 years. You really seem to love the new house, having more space, and you especially love having a playroom.


Only a few days after moving, we left for our long awaited beach vacation. You were SO excited to spend a whole week at the beach and couldn't wait to dig your toes into the sand. We ate lots of Kohr's ice cream and we even bought you your very own kite. You loved running with Daddy to get it up in the air, then you'd take over the string and fly it all by yourself!


You and Zachary ran each other ragged each day, laughing one minute and bickering the next (like typical toddlers!) And you got lots of special time with Nana and Grandpa Ed.2014-11-03_0003 2014-11-03_0004 2014-11-03_0005

I'll never forget you feeding the seagulls on one of our last days there. You were completely fearless, holding up the bread and letting them snatch it out of your hand. You were in heaven and could have spent all afternoon running around feeding those birds.2014-11-03_0006


Not long after we got home from the beach, you had a school closure and we got to spend a special day just the two of us. While it's often hard for me to manage work and play on those days, I always look forward to them because spending time with you is one of my all time favorite things to do!


We finally trekked out to the pumpkin patch at Gaver Farm, and you had a blast. I think you tried every single activity they had, but your favorite was the cow train. (Which of course I didn't get a picture of!) You also had a school field trip to Mayne's and got to pick out even more pumpkins. It was so fun getting to see you with all your little school friends. 2014-11-03_0010 2014-11-03_0011

Lastly, the day you'd been waiting for most of all - HALLOWEEN! There is no article of clothing you've been more excited to wear than your Rapunzel dress. (Even now that Halloween is over you like to go into your closet and touch it, and your whole face lights up!) You looked perfect, and having Jonah as your Pascal made it even more fantastic. Once it was time for trick-or-treating you were super shy at first, but after a few houses you really got the hang of it and were running up ringing doorbells all by yourself. We were very proud of you, and it was impossible not to stand back and feel like you were growing up right before our eyes.2014-11-03_0012

It was a month for the record books, my little love, filled with memories that I hope will last a lifetime. <3


I encourage you to head over to my super talented friend Renee’s blog to read her letter to her children.

\Letters to my Children\ April

I’m continuing my “Letters” project this year with a new group of my very dearest photography friends. Each month I’ll write a letter to one of my babies.  This month it’s Emma’s turn… dearemma


We had Spring Break this month, which meant we had a whole week to hang out and do fun stuff. We started by making homemade moon sand. It was too cold to play with it outside, and I'd already gotten you excited about it, so I braced myself for a mess and let you have at it. My instructions to "make sure it stays inside the bin" apparently fell on deaf ears, but you had a blast and that's all that matters. :)

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Next up we painted your toenails! You love having me paint your toes and you even got to pick out a special color at Target ("the red store"). You, of course, picked your favorite color - purple.


The next morning you let me do your hair in special braids and you looked like SUCH a big girl. No more braids for a while because mama can't handle how grown up they make you look.


Then it was off to Green Meadows, the local petting farm and one of your all time favorite places to visit. You know all the animals and especially love feeding the goats. That particular afternoon they even had an easter egg hunt! You were very excited to pick out your eggs, but weren't such a fan of the costumed Easter Bunny they had strolling around. People in big furry costumes aren't your thing.


I think your favorite part of the week was going to our dear friend Leslie's farm in Central Virginia with Titi and your cousin Zachary. You kids had a BLAST feeding the animals, running around the huge property, playing with all of Leslie's toys, and generally being complete goof balls.

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After our sleepover at Leslie's we headed back to Titi's to play and get everything ready for Easter. We stayed the night there and, as usual, you woke up way too early. This meant iPad time until everyone else woke up. Hmm, no wonder you like waking up early!


You and Zachary were SO excited to get a very special Facetime call from Nana and Grandpa Ed! They were on a boat in Paris and we could see the Eiffel Tower in the background. You're obsessed with Madeline lately so that part was especially cool.

I apparently got tired of taking pictures at this point, so you'll have to take my word for it that you had an awesome Easter, filled with family, fun, and lots of yummy food. More importantly, we had SUCH a fun Spring Break! I loved having so much time to hang out with you and can't wait for our next day off together.


I encourage you to head over to my friend Ann’s blog to read her letter to her sweet boys.

\10 on 10\ April (Portraits of Fatherhood)

For this month's 10 on 10 I wanted to do a day in the life series on my husband, Jared... For all the curveballs life has thrown us the past couple of years, and how tough the transition to two kids has been, I look at these photos and know I married the right person. Aside from being a genuinely great guy, he's such a wonderful father and husband. I feel blessed to know the example he's setting for our children of what a real man is. \1\ Start your engines 2014-04-07_0001

\2\ He always makes us breakfast on the weekends 2014-04-07_0002

\3\ Driving to gymnastics2014-04-07_0003

\4\ Jared to me: "Don't draw attention over here! I just want to eat my yogurt without having to share it with Emma." as he spitefully savors the last spoonful :) 2014-04-07_0004

\5\ They're starting to spend more quality time together now that Jonah is going longer between feedings... I love the bond they're developing2014-04-07_0005

\6\ These two have so many little games they play... this one is where he "makes it windy inside" by blowing on her and she just cracks up 2014-04-07_0006

\7\ Pre-bath potty time, \8\ brusha brusha2014-04-07_0007

\9\ Story time2014-04-07_0008

\10\ Kicking back2014-04-07_0009

I’m joined in this project by a group of amazing photographers… head on over to Christine’s blog to see a day in her life, then continue around the circle until you end up back here!

\Letters to My Children\ February

I’m continuing my “Letters” project this year with a new group of my very dearest photography friends. Each month I’ll write a letter to one of my babies.  This month it’s Emma’s turn… 2014-02-27_0001

dearemmaWell, you are officially two and a half. With. A. Bang. I was naive enough to think we'd somehow, miraculously skip over the terrible twos. But it turns out you're a normal kid with big feelings and you're having a tough time managing them. Daddy and I are trying our best to help you figure out how to express yourself, but sometimes you just need to scream and cry and let it all out. It breaks my heart, but I always tell you that it's okay to be sad and frustrated and angry. I feel that way sometimes, too. We work on taking deep breaths and always talk through things once you've calmed down. Sometimes neither of us handles these meltdowns very well, but we always learn and that's the best we can do. Anyway, enough with the tough stuff... let's get to the good stuff!

Your ability to communicate beyond your years continues to blow us away, and I love seeing the wheels turning as you work something out or make up something silly. You're becoming more and more curious about the world around you and have started asking questions about everything... "Is it Saturday? Yes or No?"... "Is this a boy or a girl?"... "Can I have 2 books or 3?"... "What are these kids doing?" And just today you read The Little Blue Truck to me and Daddy, and I was a big old sap and started crying halfway through. I know you were just reciting it from memory, but it was a glimpse into a day, not too far from now, when you are really reading to us. I felt so proud of you, and so excited for what's to come as you get a little older.

Lately, you've gotten really into playing with your Legos and I just love watching you build your "circus," as you call it. You'll build a tower as tall as you can reach, and then gleefully knock it down so that you can build it up again.




I think my favorite thing about you at this age is how sweet, cuddly, and generous you are. You always have a million moochies (kisses) for me and Daddy and Jonah, and you love to cook for us in your kitchen and share your loveys with your little brother. It makes you so happy to make us feel loved and cared for... it's one of your many qualities that I hope never goes away.


I love you so much, boo boo.


I encourage you to head over to my lovely friend Gwen’s blog to read her letter to her children.