March 26, 2010

My Dearest Olivia,

I can’t believe that I am writing you another birthday letter already….this past year has just flown by, mostly because we’ve been having so much fun with you! We are celebrating your birthday early this year (April 3rd) because your Grandpa Norman will be here from Texas, and you will be busy traveling to pro-life events with me and Grandma Terry over your birthday, so I am writing this letter to you a little early this year, too.  As of today, it is one month till your 2nd birthday!

Last year, on the night before your first birthday, I rocked you to sleep and cried and cried as I held you in my arms (Heck, I’ll probably do that every year until you finally tell me that I can’t anymore J).  Certainly, a little part of me was sad that your first year of life went SO FAST, and you were no longer my little baby, but even more so, I was crying tears of gratitude and love.  I have always wanted to be a mother, and I thought that I knew what motherhood was all about, but nothing prepared me for just how intensely I would love you.

You will see from the pictures of your first birthday that it was a very blessed, beautiful day! Your Grandma Terry, Grandpa Don, Great-Grandpa Don, Grandma Linda, Aunt Nadine, Great-Great Aunt Vicki, Grandpa Ron and April all attended.  We had cake and ice cream, grilled out, had lots of salads and special foods that were your favorites.  Our theme was “Birthday Princess.”  All in all, you had a great time, and even enjoyed opening your gifts! This was the first time ever that Great-Grandpa Don and Great –Great Aunt Vicki met all of our family.  It was a special day, indeed.  The day capped off with you having to be thrown in the tub to get all of the ooey-gooey frosting from cake and cookies off of you, but it was sure worth it!

This year, the theme for your party is Dora the Explorer.  You will grow up and grow out of it, but for about the past year now, you’ve had an obsession with Dora J.  You have two Dora plush blankets that you drag and carry everywhere with you, and you now have a Dora bedspread, sheets, and pillowcase in your room.  You sing the song to the show, and know all of the characters.  You can even speak Spanish like her.  Mommy got a small cake for the rest of us this year, but you get your very own individual Dora cake covered in purple frosting.  I can’t wait to decorate for your party….I know that you are going to be crazy about it!

I don’t know just where to begin this year…..very rarely am I without words, but when it comes to you, you move me beyond words.  Ah, here I am crying already as I write this….I love you, I love you, I love you! I love you more and more every day!  You continue to amaze your father and me, and certainly everyone around you.  We still get the same response any time we go somewhere with you-“Oh, look at her, she’s so beautiful!” But now people are also just as awe-struck by how smart you are.  Whether you are putting 4 and 5 year old boys in their place at the mall food court by counting to ten in Spanish when they only could count to three or you are singing your ABC’s in a stall in the church bathroom, you really impress people!

At this time last year, you babbled a lot, and you said momma and dada, made lots of gestures, did the motions to songs like itsy-bitsy spider and the wheels on the bus, and followed directions quite well for your age.  You weren’t yet walking, but just a few days after your first birthday, you started to.

Flash forward to now, and you are no longer our little baby, but our very big girl! You don’t just walk, you run, jump, kick, throw, climb, you name it.  You have the most extensive vocabulary of any 23 month old I’ve ever known.  There doesn’t seem to be a word that you don’t know or can’t repeat (and you’ve repeated a couple of interesting words, sweetheart, thanks to your parents who haven’t always watched their mouths!).  You are great at reading books and making up the stories to them, or filling in the story accurately as I ask you to tell me what happens next in them.   You are a whiz at flashcards, and you are also one heck of a good singer! Whether you are just singing the tune of a song, making up words to your own creative work, or singing your favorite songs (The Barney song, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Baa-Baa Black Sheep and the theme songs to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Dora and Superwhy are just a few), you usually wake up singing in the morning and go to be singing at night!

You still are not the best sleeper, but you’ve made a lot of progress this past year.  We changed your bed to a toddler bed in August this past year, and it really made a world of difference.  You started to sleep more soundly, and for the most part, stay sleeping in your room all night.  You do love to come creeping into our room around 3 or 4 in the morning to snuggle, but we don’t mind! You still get up pretty darn early (most of the year has been between 4:30 and 5:30, never past 7:00, and often you like to throw “parties” in the middle of the night for a few hours that I wish that you wouldn’t invite me to so often J).

You’ve had an amazing year, learning and growing SO MUCH! At the same time, though, it was a rough year in other areas.  In June of 2009, you contracted MRSA, had quick surgery on it (we’ll talk about those scars on your hind-end some day), and was hospitalized for five days.  It was a very tough time, but you were such a trooper! (Your favorite part of your hospital stay, besides having Grandma Terry and Mommy at your beck and call, had to be jumping on your enclosed hospital bed J).

You stayed home to recuperate for a couple more weeks at home, but not long after you started back at daycare, you contracted hand, foot and mouth disease.  UGH! This was even harder on you than the MRSA, and Mommy was ready to quit her job to keep you home and safe from the hazards of daycare! Once again, though, you were a wonderful girl, healed well, and loved going back to daycare.

Speaking of daycare, this past year you progressed developmentally through two different rooms—Brandi and Lauren’s, and then Bailey and Jenny’s, before being moved to Hailey and Ranae’s room, which is where you still are now.  Overall, I know that you really like daycare, especially learning lots of new things and playing with your friends (you even have a boyfriend, Brett—it’s so cute how you say his name and giggle about him!), but you’ve had your moments there J.  You went through a couple of stages where you were biting other kids pretty regularly (your favorite places to bite were their heads and ears J), but it was usually because you were teething and your teeth hurt.  You also liked to bite when you were “too” anything—too tired, too thirsty, too hungry, too overstimulated, etc.

Right now, you are still working on cutting your two year molars, but you’ve been coping pretty well with it.  And all things considering, you’ve been pretty darn healthy since the whole MRSA/Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease episode.  You just recently lost one of the tubes that was put in your ear, and just got a slight infection in it, but all in all, you’ve had a much healthier year than your first.

This year was also a big year for you and our entire family in terms of our involvement in the pro-life movement and our presence on both the national and international fronts.  By the time you are old enough to start reading these letters that I write you each year, you will already know our whole story about why we are active in the life movement, and how abortion affected all of our lives.  I hope that you can look back on your childhood and see that you are a very important person in this work, and that this was our calling from the Lord.  Just as it was my calling to be saved from it, you were called to be my daughter, to help bear witness, and ultimately change the hearts and minds of millions of people.

During this past year, you had the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. with Mommy, Grandma Linda and Aunt Gladys for a few days while I spoke at a large event there.  We all had a wonderful time, and the attendees of the event were awed by your presence.  Lots of people from around the world, including Poland, China, Greece and South Africa took your picture! (Yes, you’ve been famous almost since birth J).

You then got to travel to Indiana and Texas with Mommy and Grandma Linda for another couple of pro-life events that I spoke at. (The one in Indiana was at this really beautiful mansion…I spoke in front of a baby grand piano….that will probably never happen again!).  Overall, you were a really good girl, and getting to have you with me when I am out traveling and speaking makes it all worthwhile.  (Plus I can’t stand being away from you!)

At the end of this April, over your birthday, in fact, you will once again be traveling with Mommy and this time Grandma Terry, to pro-life events in Indiana and Tennessee, and we will even be spending some time with Uncle Troy in Kentucky !  Later this year, you will be going to Australia with Mommy and Daddy to meet some amazing pro-lifers down there and speak at events across the continent (I can’t wait for you to see kangaroos and koala bears!!)

The 700 Club (a Christian tv program) will be coming up to our house sometime this year, too, to film us and share our story on their television program.  We are all so excited about this and feel so blessed about this huge opportunity to share our message with the world (yep, once again, you are famous as a very young girl!).

There are so many things that I want to say to you, but this letter just won’t do it justice.  You are still, and will always be, the light of my life.  You are still a mommy’s girl, but over the past year, your relationship with your daddy has really blossomed.  You love to goof around with him “downstairs” (that’s what you call the family room downstairs at our current house).  The two of you listen to music and watch music videos for what seems like hours, and you like to watch him play video games, and dig through all of the computer related stuff that he keeps down there.  You are also crazy about all of your “Meemaws” and “Bampas”  (Grandmas and Grandpas).  There have been quite a few times that you’ve sat and cried because you missed them, and you always seem to spot “Bampas” out in public…’s cute but sad to me at the same time, because I know that you would love to see them even more often than you do now (which is usually every couple of weeks).  One of your favorite things to do at bedtime is to look at the pictures of family that we have hanging on your bed, name who it is, and then tell them goodnight J.

As much as you are a mommy’s girl, when there is a Meemaw or a Bampa around, Mommy suddenly becomes invisible! That’s okay, though.  I am more than willing to share you with them, because I know that you will always be my girl, and I will always be your mommy! You really are the greatest blessing that I have ever received, Olivia, and I hope that I will always reflect that to you in my love and care for you.

Happy 2nd birthday, sweetpea! Daddy, Patches and I love you immensely!