Dear Joseph and Kenzie,
Today you are TWO! I can’t believe how fast time has gone, and how much you have developed and grown in just the 12 short months since your last birthday. I’ve been wondering if my mom had all the feels on each birthday like I do. She sure seemed happy, but surely she realized that time is a thief that skips over no one. This year I have watched your baby-hood slip through my fingers, with dismay, but I have also seen you begin to become the person you will be, with joy.
Joseph Nathaniel, love bug, Jo-Jo, mama’s baby boy… in the daycare they call you Yusef, and you call yourself Je-foo and Jo-Jo. Your smile lights up a whole room, and your laugh is absolutely contagious. You started walking the day after your first birthday. You only said 5-10 words at around 15 months, and mama was a little worried, but now you are speaking in 3-4 word sentences with consistency. You just like to take your own time to do things. You are my observer, taking in the world each and every moment, always stopping to smell the roses. You can’t be rushed. As we walk toward the outside of school each day, you have a routine– “Push button”, you say as we get in the elevator. Then you stretch waaaaay up high on your tippy toes and push the correct button. Then you meander down the hallway slooooooowly, first identifying each type of ball on the P.E. bulletin board boarder, then getting a drink all by yourself at the water fountain (and fighting to not let your sister have a turn), then looking at the butterflies on a bulletin board and telling me all of their colors, next pointing out the ice cream bulletin board to your sweets-loving sister, and finally identifying each of the ocean animals on the last bulletin board. You love to learn, and are such a book worm. You will sit in mama’s lap and read all day long. At around 18 months, we had to spend the whole of every weekend reading books– one day we counted and it was 15 books and we probably read each one three times. But you, little boy, have been taking it all in. One day we realized you knew all your colors (Thanks, Elmer book!). Another day we realized you knew all the basic shapes- circle, square, rectangle, triangle, oval, heart, star, and even sometimes rhombus/diamond (thanks Little Einsteins Look & See book!). You love to point and name things by shape and color, and are always on the look out for new things you can tell us about. You love your sister, who is so very bossy toward you, and gently tell her what you want her to do. “Ok sister, all done. Je-foo’s turn. Not ‘dere sister, go Daddy. Jo-jo with Mama.” You have good manners and often say please and thank you without prompting. You can say, “Please be ‘scused?” after you eat, if you’re reminded. You love to pray in any language, and will always exclaim, “Amen!” when it’s finished. Buddy, you LOVE to eat! Sometimes you eat like a grown man! You are my meat and potatoes guy, a true man’s man. You also could eat an entire box of pasta for every single meal, and will always ask for it if asked what you’d like to eat. You adore plain yogurt with honey and cinnamon, and have gone through phases this year of eating cheese and eggs like they’re going out of style. You hate vegetables, and are very picky with fruit too. There must not be a sliver of skin on your fruit or you’ll gag and throw up. On your birthday party the pasta salad had cilantro in it. You picked it out and exclaimed, “No green! No broccoli.” Oh well, we’ll keep trying. One good thing (but weird) is that you also don’t really like sweets or bread at all. Not complaining about that though! You seem to have an introverted personality. You like people in small groups and small doses, but you get overwhelmed with a lot of people. As more and more people showed up at your birthday party, you started to cling to your mama and recede to the outer perimeters. This is so like your mama. You are perfectly content to play on your own, and this greatly concerns your daycare teachers. Mommy knows how to say swing in Arabic (morgeyah) since you prefer to spend your whole day in the little toddler-sized indoor swing, not playing with others. You are amazing with technology, and we really have to limit you. You can find games on the i-pad on your own, start Daniel Tiger or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and generally operate it without issue. You are very reactive and you get emotionally wounded easily. Your sister likes to antagonize you, and you respond with a swift hit or super hard pinch. We’re working on it. If you get put in time out it’s the end of the world, in fact, any sort of discipline is just terribly emotional. Except for aggression, you are a very sweet little guy. You went through a climbing phase between 17-20 months that scared your mama because you were ALWAYS at the top of anything. You seem to have mostly outgrown it. Those were some hard months, and you were into absolutely everything. This year you have maintained your baby chub, but you have also developed a strong, muscly baby-big boy body. You have baby fat all over your muscled legs, and are very strong. Your hair has grown tons, and when wet, is all the way down your neck. You have the very best ringlet curls that mommy adores, but it’s probably time to cut (sob). You love mama the best, but you and daddy have the very best time together. You ask to talk to your Mimi and Bethie. You are selective in who you give your attention, love, and affection to. You are shy with new people or a lot of people, but almost never refuse a high five or fist bump. You are the best sleeper, sleeping all night and taking 3 hour naps. Lately you have decided you don’t want to go to bed and will say, “No nap. No bed.” You ALWAYS say, “Mama! Go potty!” as soon as you’re put in bed. Then after you go potty you say, “Snuggle mama?” You are a good little manipulator because it’s so hard to refuse my little guy wanting to snuggle in mama’s bed. Speaking of potty, you potty trained at 23 months! We tried a month earlier and you were terrified of the potty and cried any time we sat you on it. Sister finished then, but you waited, observed, and about a month later it was evident you were ready (even though you still didn’t want to). Now just a few weeks later, you rarely have accidents, and try your hardest to not go on your underwear (“No pee pee moons. No pee pee baseballs.”- you will name what kind of underwear you have on and say you won’t potty on them.). One of my very favorite things you do is that every time I put on your PJ’s and your hands are stuck in the tight wrist cuffs, you look at your stuck hands and say, “Hello hand. Hola mano.” My Joseph, how do I capture a whole year in one short (ok, long) blog post? It is a delight to be your mommy and though I wish I could freeze time, I can’t wait to see the man you’ll become.
Kenzie Rebekah, Kenzie-girl, Kenzie-boo, Boo, Bekah, sis, Bekah-boo… your brother called you Sister for most of the year. Then when you were getting in trouble a lot and called by both names, he started calling you Sister Bekah. Now he calls you Kenzie. You are my people person. You love to be in the middle of a group of people, and are always lingering looking at groups of new people, especially kids. You think you’re more like 5 years old. You love to dance, flip, swim, and are definitely not risk averse. You’re jumping off the highest place possible, flipping yourself in the air while daddy throws you as high as he can, jumping (and really jumping) into the swimming pool with reckless abandon. I’m sure you’ve got some sort of future as a gymnast or swimmer because you really love both. Mama has a picture of you that perfectly captures the phase you are in right now– you still have baby features- big fat cheeks, roly arms, yet your look conveys that you are so much more aware than your two little years show. You speak in huge long sentences, and have recently added smaller words like “and”, “the” “an”, and are using much more complex grammar. You are starting to understand the concept of “me” and “you”. You ask questions and tell us things, and when we respond to make sure we understood you, you just give a little nod or “ah”, which in Arabic means “yeah”. You are speaking tons of Arabic too, and a little Spanish, though Joseph is much more into the Spanish (we find him alone saying, “Moon, Spanish, luna. Star, Spanish, ‘strella.”). Your vocabulary exploded right after you turned one, and at 15 months you spoke well over 50 words. Now there’s no way we could even try and count. You prefer to be barefoot and naked, and take every opportunity to remove your shoes, and at home almost immediately tell us, “Shirt off!” You love being potty trained because underwear is so much easier to take off than a cloth diaper. Speaking of potty trained, you were trained at 22 months and were ridiculously easy. I think it has to do with the gummy bear reward because you, little girl, can smell sugar a mile away. We still limit your intake of all sugar, but especially white refined sugar. You still aren’t a big meat lover, but will eat chicken, especially rotisserie chicken. You, like your brother, love pasta, but unlike your brother you love almost all fruits and vegetables. You went through a phase where you ate 2-3 whole cucumbers a day. You’re still super picky with food, and it’s frustrating because you, little bit, need as many calories in your tiny body as possible! Kenzie, I’m not sure there’s been a time in your life when enjoyed sleep. You will ask to go to bed if it’s really late at night, but otherwise, you prefer not to sleep. You skip your nap at daycare often. In fact, I just had to go down and bring something to the daycare today, and I tried to put you to sleep. You said, “No sleep. Mama go. Kenzie no sleep.” Well ok then. You didn’t sleep through the night until you were almost 23 months old. You woke up EVERY SINGLE NIGHT between 2-4, but sometimes more often. Now you’ll go to sleep and sleep all night, but you consistently wake up between 5:30-6:30 every morning. You NEVER wake up happy. While your brother will wake and talk to himself for a while, you always wake up screaming bloody murder. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 am, 7 am, or after your nap, there is ALWAYS screaming. Good thing Jo-Jo just sleeps right through it most of the time. You are exceptionally girlie. You pick out your own clothes and hairstyles each day. You show Daddy your clothes so he can tell you how beautiful you are. Mama’s just happy that you are content picking your clothes from the closet full she likes and purchased. Kenzie, you love your mommy, but there’s a special place in your heart that only Daddy can fill. You light up when you see him. You RUN to his arms when he picks you up at daycare. You and Daddy are similar in personality, just like Mama and Joseph are similar. You love baby dolls, but you also love cars. You are so so tough! When you get hurt (which you do often, my little reckless girl), you usually scream and cry for a minute or two, and then bounce right back up and move on. At your birthday party you fell off a picnic table bench and split your lip in two places. It looked ROUGH, but 3 minutes later you were happily blowing out your birthday candles. Kenzie, you are smart, sometimes too smart for your own good (read manipulative). You antagonize your brother and then scream and cry when he retaliates physically. Your favorite words lately are “Mine”, “I do it myself”, and “No, Jo-Jo!” You tattle on your brother all the time, “Mama, Jo-Jo pinch Kenzie!”, yet you are usually the one who started it. You will say things like (while sitting in mommy’s lap), “My mama!”, looking at Joseph and waiting for him to respond. Oh, Kenzie. Be nice! You like to help mama in the kitchen, and are very helpful with throwing away trash, putting things in the closet, and you follow directions really well. Kenzie girl, you are such a light in people’s lives. People just seem to LOVE LOVE LOVE you. Use that wisely, baby girl. Kenzie, I love the way you love fiercely. You pull mama’s face into yours and give a kiss. You love so well. You have big emotions, and when you’re happy, it’s just an over-the-top, joyful happy. I love being your mama.
Kenzie and Joseph, this has been the most amazing year. You’re tough to deal with at times, but absolutely the most delightful little people. You’re learning and growing faster than we can keep up. You amaze your mama and daddy, and also other people, with how much you know. We don’t sit down and “work” with you, but you glean knowledge, vocabulary, and wisdom from everywhere. Keep learning. Seriously, for your whole life. There is so much to be offered to you if you just take hold of the wisdom the world and the Bible will offer. You were CHAMPS through the uncertainty and restlessness of an overseas move, through starting daycare, through mama taking away your pacifiers, potty training… this has been such a big year for you and you have dealt with it beautifully. We are so very proud of you. There is a picture that has hung in your room since before you were born that says, “The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.” Travel. Find out who you are, but also find out who other people are. See who you are through the lens of others. Love others well. Let them love you too. Expand your perspective, your horizons, and seek to make the world a better place because you’re in it. You already do that for your Mommy and Daddy. I cannot imagine a world without my Joseph and Kenzie in it. Keep reading, and continue to fall in love with books. There is so much to learn though escaping to foreign lands in a story, through using your imagination.
I cannot wait to see what your third year brings. My big girl and boy, keep growing and learning and loving well. I am so so grateful to be your mama.