Saturday, January 11, 2014

Letter to my Kids, Christmas 2013

Dear Kiddos,

This year was slower than years past- but also busier in some ways, too.

For a long time, there hasn't been a year when we haven't left the country or even country.  Throughout residency, your dad traveled to Haiti and we all went to Ghana not once, but twice! This year, we stayed more grounded, closer to home, and really put down our roots here in Lubbock, TX.

But also for the first time, you kids have both been going to pre-school.  Oliver, you can write your name so well, and you are starting to draw the best pictures.  The latest one is of each member of our family holding hands underneath some tornadoes, because, "We are STRONGER than tornadoes!"

I'm spending more time away from from home now that you are a bit older.  I'm working on getting my Ph.D.  Up until this semester, I've only been taking one class per semester, but this year I'm a full time student with an assistantship position for a music history course. This year was hard for me, juggling work and school with mothering and running the piano studio.  I want you to see that becoming a parent doesn't mean you have to forget your dreams.  At the same time, being the best mother I can be is infinitely more important to me than being the best at anything else. More than anything I want to love you both with everything I have.

I think finding balance is one of the hardest things to do in life.  If you ever struggle with this, just breathe, and pray, and breathe, and pray.  It will all be ok.  Probably. :)   And if it isn't, well....  Things ebb and flow, things get better and worse then better again.  Just like seasons pass from Spring to Summer, Fall, and Winter- there are seasons in life, too.  Usually, there is something beautiful to discover and savor and remember even in the bleakest times.  You can't always see it at first, but it's probably there, somewhere. 

We are loving this season when you are still little, but old enough to have conversations about memories and desires and simple things like what adventure we should go on today.  So far, this is my favorite stage, when you are 2 and 4. 

I just finished looking at all of our pictures from the past year, trying to pick out all the best ones to put into our family yearbook.  I cannot believe how much you both have changed in twelve months.

Especially you, Cat-  your hair is so incredibly long!  You've definitely morphed from a babe into a full-fledged toddler. But some things have stayed very much the same.  You love animals so much!  We got a dog, Ginger, just for you!  We adopted her from the SPCA.  She's a Brittany Spaniel, and you love to try to "ride" her and bring her plates of "food" from your play kitchen.  It's pretty adorable.

 But you've changed a lot, too, Oliver- at the beginning of 2013, you were full-fledged toddler- insisting on wearing you fire chief jacket on every outing-  now I struggle to describe you as a toddler.  You're a pre-schooler. A 4 year old.  A little kid who loves ninja swords and riding fast on his bike, who can write his own name perfectly and play songs on the piano. My sweet little boy.

My babies aren't really babies anymore.  I don't know why this so bittersweet. I love watching you both learn and accomplish new things.  I love teaching you and watching you grow.  But thinking about just how much you've grown in just a year kind of makes my heart constrict a little.  I guess it's just knowing that one day, one day sooner than I'd like, you are going to come downstairs early in the morning and snuggle with me for the last time. 

I am going to miss that.  

This year, 2014, I want to focus on Joy.  It will the 10th wedding anniversary in April.  Dad and I want to kind of relive some of the special moments that marked important points in our relationship.  We want to take you both to Junction where we met- maybe even take you to Spain where we got married. 

I want to slow down and enjoy the little moments when I can help you put on your shoes, or get you a snack in the afternoon.  I want to really embrace the little things like that.  In the end I think the little things may be just as important as the big things.  So I don't want to tell you hurry up or to stop making such a mess (well. sometimes I may tell you to stop making such a mess)-  I just want to slow down and enjoy this time when you are still little.  When I still have time to write a letter while you are napping- because something tells me that nap time will soon be a thing of the past.  Your whole childhood will be a thing of the past.  And I don't want to miss a second.

Here's to a Joyful 2014!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Letter to my Son on his 4th Birthday

Dear Oliver,

Oh Oliver.  God, I love you.

It is so much fun to watch you grow older and develop your personality.  And it's fun to have you more involved in our family.  We're beginning to have more real conversations at dinnertime and before bed.  You ask more questions and have more things to say about the world.  More "observations," as you would say.  Sometimes the most adult sounding phrases come out of your mouth.

When you are frustrated, you will sometimes fold your arms across your little chest and pout and say, "I'm very cross!"   And it's hard not to smile. 

You are the best dancer.  You swing your hips around like no one's business to songs like "Royals" or "Counting Stars."  Sometimes your little sister will join in.

My favorite thing about you is your sweet heart.  Sometimes, you'll go find a blankie for your little sister and come bring it to her and say "Here you go, Cat,"  or we'll be riding in the car and I'll look back, and you two will be reaching across the carseats, holding hands.

One day I was a little down, and you somehow picked up on it, and came and laid down your head on my shoulder and said, "Don't be sad, mama, you'll be ok."  It almost broke my heart it was so sweet.

You watch way too many movies.  This despite the fact we don't even have a TV in the house.  You'll watch Wild Kratts or Jake and the Neverland Pirates or SuperWhy on the computer.  You just love it so much.  Luckily, you also love Lego, reading books and riding your bike, MagnaTiles and puzzles. Before bedtime, in between reading and songs, you and Dad make up stories about various characters.  They go something like:   Introduce Character-Character does something funny- Character encounters BIG PROBLEM- Problem is resolved- Happy Ending.   You've got it down pat.

My favorite thing is to work with you at the piano.  It is not always your favorite thing.  However, you are a wonderful performer, and even though you give me a hard time, at the last recital, you got up there, played your song perfectly, and then gave the best bow.  I was so proud, but what made me really happy was when you said, "Mom, I did great at my recital, and I am happy about that."

You started soccer this year.  Sometimes you like it, sometimes you weren't really thrilled.  You scored a goal in your first game and it was so fun to watch you kick the ball into the net. I hope you remember how loudly your Dad cheered you on.   Most of the time you spent bumping bellies with Gurvir and Jake in the middle of the field, though :)   

I'm excited about this new year in your life, but shocked and a little scared you will be turning 5 at your next birthday.  5 seems so old! Like, school-aged!  Luckily, your birthday falls just after the cutoff for entering kindergarteners, so I have another year before you officially start "real" school.  It's like a parenting bonus to get to have you around a little longer.

I love you so much, with all of my heart!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Letter to my Daughter, on her 2nd Birthday

Dear Kit Cat,

I'm late with this letter, and it's probably due to an internal mechanism within my soul that seems satisfied and content with the illusion that maybe if I don't write your 2 year old letter acknowledging my sweet baby isn't, well, a baby anymore then I can keep calling you my sweet baby.  Which of course you are and aren't all at the same time.

Just a year ago I couldn't quite pull your hair back into pigtails, and now it flows gently down your back and you have to constantly wipe your chubby hands against your cheek and tuck the brown-blonde strands behind your ear to keep it out of your face.   But I can't bring myself to cut it.  We never have and probably won't until strangers start commenting.   It's so beautiful.  At night when you snuggle up against me and we read stories or sing songs, I like to stroke it and feel how silky it is, and wonder why I can't have hair like that.

You are so different from your older brother.  Everything's been a bit easier with you- you nap well, you eat well, you potty trained quickly and easily.  This doesn't make you better, mind you- just different.

You love singing along to songs in the car- particularly Twinkle Twinkle Little Star- it's just gut-wrenching adorable when your breathy high pitched voice kind of mumbles over the less familiar words.  I love it.

Like your brother, you have an affinity for drawing on, well, everything. Walls, furniture, etc.  Maybe you'll be an artist?  Who knows.

You love stuffed animals and your blankie, and if you have your say you'll bring four of each everywhere with you.  Because of your love for animals we've finally gotten a dog, Ginger, who we adopted from the SPCA- and you love to walk up to her and give her a big fat kiss on her nose.

When you finally wake up in the morning (you're almost always the last one), you let us know you're up and Daddy likes to come get you so you can have a piggy back ride downstairs, where you eat your oats and fruit.

My absolute favorite thing you do is dance.  You like to shake it, girl- and alternatively jump up and down repeatedly until a song is over.  Melts my heart.

You make me so very happy.  I don't believe in terrible twos.  No one who had you for a daughter would, either.  I think you are just magically special, and adorable and squishy and delightful.  And I can't wait to see who you grow to be in this next year.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Lazy Days of Summer

I have loved the past week at our house.

I've been out of school, and the piano recital is over.  There are no lessons or classes, no places to be except here, with my children.

I took the kids to the pool this morning to meet a friend and her two lovely sons, just the same age as Ollie and Cat.  Oliver insisted on wearing his rain boots, Catalina on brining her blankie.

They splashed around in the baby pool for hours before eating sandwiches and fruit and finally coming home to nap.

They are still asleep.

I love them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

9 Years

As a newlywed, I offhandedly commented that I couldn't imagine possibly loving any human being more than I love Jared.   Their response was, "Wait 10 years."   Cynical, no?

Well, to be fair, it's only by 9 years of marriage that I'm celebrating today- but still-  I love Jared so much it hurts.  In a way that person was right- now we have two kids- and I think I may love them even more.

Things are different, certainly.  And I could talk about marriage and the ways ours could be better and the ways we could love each other better, appreciate and love one another more- and I should and I will- but not today.  Today I'm just celebrating the million little things I love about this man:





Sunday, February 3, 2013

2012 Family Letter (a bit late!)

Letter to My Children 2012

Dear Kids,

To be completely honest, today is Febrary 3, 2013.  I missed writing my annual letter by over a month!

When I think about all that happened last year, it’s no wonder. 

Life is plenty busy with an infant and a toddler.  But, in true Brinker style, we rolled with it.  And even in the middle of sleepless nights, potty training and (sorry, it’s true!) a few tantrums, we also managed to make it to Africa.

You kids were such troopers.  Oliver, you played with your Ghanaian friend Thomas, who loved you like a little brother.  It was hot and there weren’t any movies, but you still managed to have a good time playing in the dirt and with your missionary friend Abigail, who you adored.

But you were not to be outdone by your sister, who mastered the art of walking on another continent.  Pretty cool.

 Miss Talata watched you both while I taught the missionary kiddos English and took portraits of the women at the nutrition center.  Your dad worked at the BMC under challenging conditions.  Always be thankful for access to good healthcare.  Most people do not have it, and it’s heartbreaking.

We’ve taken a break from Africa for the time being, but your dad and I hope and pray about taking you back, for longer and when you are a bit older, so you remember.  We hope you love Africa like we do.  If not, then at least love the people, and embrace the adventure.

We came back to the US and your dad graduated from his fellowship in obstetrics.  We found a new home in Lubbock, a charming green house in a lovely neighborhood.  As much as we miss Fairmount, the urbanity, the hipness, the diversity,  we won’t miss the crime or the noise- although we all desperately miss our friends.  Oliver, you especially talk about Sam and Ezra, and in fact have been begging me to take you to see Sam all week long.  We visit as much as we can.

Dad started his new practice at the Grace Clinic in Lubbock, TX, where he takes care of all kind of people, just like he takes care of me and you.  He works really hard, but always has energy when he comes home to play hide and seek with you kids and maybe also put you guys in the “tarantula hold.”

I’m going to school, doing some freelance writing, and teaching some wonderful piano students.  Luckily, we have a great neighbor, Jane, who comes and watches you guys while I teach.  She always has some special art project for you all.

Oliver, you go to Tas Montessori school, where you are learning to read, count, and recite things like the continents and life cycles.  Catalina, you're still too little to attend, but not to worry, Lexie (also known as an angel sent directly from heaven straight to our doorstep) watches you when I’m away a few times a week.

It’s a lot for sure-  Africa, medical missions, moving, buying a house, starting school, working-   but never doubt for a second that always, our priority is YOU.  We love you both so, so much. Even after we put you guys to sleep, your father and I stay up, just telling each other our favorite things about you kids. 

We love taking you on walks around the neighborhood (Oliver, you often insist on wearing your Fire Chief jacket when we do), going biking with you two in the bike trailer, reading simple stories before bedtime.  You are both growing up so fast, it’s hard to watch.  But it’s also exciting.  We can’t wait to see how much you grow over this next year.

We love you, we love you, we love you.

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