Merry Christmas!

We have a relatively calm day here in the midst of all of our Christmas functions so I thought I'd pop in to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

God has blessed us this December with lots of snow and we are sure enjoying it. Our only complaint is that the snow is too dry to make a snowman with, but we keep trying anyway.

Mark has this whole week off so we are loving having him around.

Here are a few pictures taken lately:

{Adelia, topping our Christmas tree this year}

{Ella watching the snow fall before bed one night}

{the girls, all bundled up to go outside}

{my favorite people in the whole wide world, pausing during play for a picture}

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas season!

Letter to my seven-year old girl

My beautiful girl,

Happy seventh birthday to you! What a treasure you are to your daddy and I, Ella Kate.

You have had a full year- one of many firsts.

This year you learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. It was something you wanted to do, and you basically taught yourself. You practiced by riding around and around the patio, in circles, and when daddy took you out one day to a larger spot to “learn”, he came home saying you had just taken off and he didn’t need to do a thing!

This was your first year to take swimming lessons, and what a joy it was for me to see you learning how to swim! At the beginning of the week you were a little fearful of water in your face and eyes, but you were so determined to learn, so attentive to your teacher Alex, so eager to practice and get better, and by the end of lessons you were really swimming on your own! You loved it so much you were sad to be done with lessons.

You have learned to read this year, and mama has learned to have a stack of books at the ready for you to delve into! Your favorites this year? The Little House books (Mama read them aloud to you, but you’ve read them on your own twice since then, too.), The Wheel on the School, Prairie Winter, All-of-a-Kind Family, and Understood Betsy. Favorite read-alouds: Heidi, Charlotte’s Web, Toliver’s Secret, and Huguenot Garden.

For most of this year, Adelia was still napping in mama’s room, and you spent your quiet times in your room, on your bed, lying on your tummy, reading away the hours of nap/quiet time. Even when I’d tell you that quiet time was over, you’d want to read “just one more chapter”, “just this one page”.... Rarely can you be found, now- without a book close by. (Usually in your hands, with your head bent over your book.) And how fun it is for me to find you with the boys cuddled around you on the couch, while you read aloud to them, or to Adelia (for as long as she’ll sit still for you!)

One of my favorite things about read-alouds is how often you act out, with the boys, what we’ve read. You’ve been Laura Ingalls nearly as much as you’ve been Ella this year, along with Heidi and a plethora of other characters you’ve read about. You want to dress the part, too. This year for your birthday we got you a bonnet and a nightgown (just like Laura), and grandma got you a little apron to wear over your dresses. You were delighted.

You prayed for a baby sister, and God gave you one in Adelia this year. It has been a delight for me to see you nurturing and caring for her. I remember the first time you asked me if you could carry her, all by yourself, and I hesitantly agreed. You were true to your responsible, careful self, and have done an excellent job ever since. Even now, with Adelia a big ten-month girl, you will pick her up, swing her up over your hip, and carry her around. I love that. I wanted so much for you to have that experience as a little girl, that opportunity to nurture and learn how to care for a baby, and am so thankful you’ve been able to have that.

You moved from your shared room with the boys this year into the “girls’ room”, which you now happily share with Adelia. Pale pink walls, pretty valances, your bed with mama’s old Holly Hobbie bedspread on it, two dressers, Addie’s changing table, and a little bookshelf near your bed, full of your books and other treasures. A couple of thoughts about your room: You take such pride in your little space. You keep your area so neat and tidy: your bed made, your books organized, your few things so neatly organized. On Saturdays, when it’s time to clean your rooms, the boys scurry downstairs, and you happily order everything in your room. Those days, too, I am pleased to see that you take care to order Adelia’s bed and changing table area, too. The other thing I love, Ella, is that you have very few things that are yours- really, just your collection of books, treasures, the armful of dolls and stuffed animals on your bed and the dollhouse you rarely play with anymore. When we are in other little girls’ homes, I sometimes wonder if you notice how full their rooms are of things, and how little you actually have to claim as yours. But you have the most grateful spirit, and never ask for things. And the few things you do have you take such care for. I am so thankful to see that quality in you, my sweet girl.

You are my best helper, Ella. Not only with your little sister- holding her for a few minutes, sitting to feed her a bottle, getting her dressed, watching her while mama takes a shower, etc... but with chores, too. Your after-meal chore is to empty the dishwasher, and never has my silverware drawer been so neat! Several times this last year you have completely taken everything out of a drawer or cupboard and re-organized it, all of your own accord. You take such care in the things you do, Ella. What a wonderful way to be.

You have a sweet and tender spirit, Ella. I remember how you cried when you read your Helen Keller book and discovered that her teacher had died. You were devastated for Helen’s loss. This year your pet chicken Missy died, too, and that was difficult for you. You are also sorrowful when you realize that you’ve hurt anyone- and most often that hurt was unintentional on your part. You feel and love so deeply, my girl.

You told me recently, “I know what I’m going to be now when I grow up. And I’m not changing it this time.” You would like to be a nurse. When you told me that, I told you I thought that’d about be the perfect job for you. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you did become a nurse, travel to some third-world country, and nurse the poor. Your heart of compassion and your natural ability to give care- even at such a young age- are so dear, Ella. I am so pleased to see how often you put others above yourself.

There are so many other things I could write, Ella girl. You are a joy to your daddy and I. We are so incredibly thankful for the gift God gave us in you!

May you grow to love Him even more deeply in the year to come.

With lots of hugs and kisses,