Cassandra Rose Turned 4 Today

My very first girl turned 4 today. How can this be? Wasn't it just yesterday that I wrote this

As a baby and toddler, little Cassi Rose was spunky, vocal, expressive, and strong-willed. But now as a 4-year old, she still knows her own mind, still expresses herself very well, still has a lot of spunk and no fear, but is showing a much softer side. As a baby she hated to cuddle. But now she loves for me to rock her while I sing a lullaby to her. She used to scream for attention, now she asks me sweetly for it and will often times forego attention if it means she can help her little sister or follow her big brother's leading. 

Besides playing dress-up, her favorite things to play are "doctor" and building "forts" with blankets in our family room. Playing doctor gives her so much joy because she gets to help people who are sick. Building a fort is exciting to her because she can create her own little space. And, of course, dress-up is special because what little girl doesn't want to look like a princess? 

Over the past few weeks I've been realizing that Cassi really loves school and that I should cultivate her enthusiasm for it more. We've incorporated more aspects of her schooling and also had CJ help her when he can since she looks up to him and responds to him so well. Her mind is like a sponge - she is absorbing everything so fast!

Chris took her out to breakfast this morning as part of her Birthday treats--during which time he asked her if she knew how to spell her name. She replied, "Yes. It is C-Q-S-S-I." Chris questioned her about the 'Q' to which she explained to him that "Mommy's A's look like Q's!" I guess she has been learning more than I even realized--I better write neater for her!

In addition to learning so much recently, she has also become a more nurturing big sister to Capri. If Capri falls, she tries to console Capri. If Capri is hungry or thirsty, she will get Capri's sippy cup or a snack. And with big brother's good influence, she is getting better at picking up after not only herself, but also after her little sister. I know she is going to make little Cecily an amazing big sister!

When I found out I was having my first little girl, I imagined what she would look like. What she would be like. And what relationship she and I would have. Of course we will be best friends. My Mom and I are. I hoped she would look like me - not because I think I'm beautiful, but because I want her to look like she belongs to me and is a part of me. I hoped she would be like me, because I like who I am and hope she has my strong personality that I admire in myself.

As she has changed in these four years and I don't see a strong resemblance between her and myself, I've realized that I don't need her to look anything like me. All that matters is how much I love her, how responsible I feel for her, and how privileged I am to be able to care for her. She doesn't really belong to me anyway - she is God's child that I am blessed to help care for for a short time.

And as she has changed in the past 4 years I have noticed that her personality isn't like mine as I had originally hoped. She is softer, sweeter, and a little more sensitive. I am so glad she still has a lot of strength in her personality, but I am loving how she is becoming her own person. How despite of me, she is learning how to be kind and gracious and gentle. 

But the best part is that I don't ever worry that we won't be best friends. I know we will be best friends. We might argue. We might struggle through some misunderstandings. She might be disobedient. But I will always love her and I will always be her friend. I will stand by her no matter what. If she makes a mistake, I will not leave her. If she rejects me, I will still love her. If she falls, I will forgive her. There is so much peace in unconditional love and I trust that it will win out through whatever canyons and hills we have to cross and climb over the years. 

The whole family (all of our extended family as well) made Cassi's day super special. She was old enough to appreciate every little detail and she went to sleep tonight a very happy little girl.

As I was cleaning up after the party washing some dishes, she came up to me, threw her arms around my legs and looked adoringly up at me. I stopped for a moment, struck by her sweet face. She said, "Mommy, thank you SO MUCH for everything! I loved it all!" Her gratefulness meant more to me than she will ever know. I wish I could have given her more. I wanted to lasso the moon for her in that moment. 

I know she won't always be sweet. She isn't always so grateful. She has to pout to get her way sometimes. She manipulates her brother and tries to get him in trouble to get what she wants at times. Other times she doesn't do anything wrong, but she won't stop asking me for something or won't stop trying to climb up into my lap even though there isn't much room for her anymore...and I get annoyed with her.

Nothing is always perfect. But today was pretty perfect.

My little sweetheart is growing up and will have two younger siblings to care for very soon now. She has so much to learn and she will change so much yet. But how exciting to see how far we've come together - and how exciting to embrace what lies ahead.

Happy Birthday sweet little Cassandra! May you always shine with radiance and love for those around you. May you grow to be a Godly young woman. May you seek wisdom over riches, love over beauty, and kindness over happiness. May you always be grateful and find joy during sadness. May you learn to pick yourself up when you fall and keep your eyes focused on eternal riches for the rest of your life.

I love you. Happy Birthday.


28 Week Update

I finally made it to the third trimester, but feel like the last 12 weeks will last forever. Usually I feel like the time flies in those last three months, but July looks so far away to me right now.


I am noticing that on days where I eat too much sugar (i.e., Easter weekend) I definitely get more severe morning sickness. But on days where I eat a more balanced or normal diet, the sickness stays the way it was before, which is very manageable and some mornings even non-existent (although it always comes back by evening time).

None. My appetite is as big as ever, but I no longer need dark chocolate every day or anything else, for that matter. Does craving my old body so I can wear this dress count?

Wow - this one moves a lot!

I only have heartburn on nights when I eat high fatty foods, which due to my lack of chocolate cravings, has been a lot less.

I've been experiencing a lot more ligament pain and light cramping. Braxton hicks occur whenever I am active and just about every evening.

I've been getting out to walk more and the exercise helps not only my energy levels, but also my mood and my water intake (I generally never get thirsty otherwise).

After gaining quite a bit of weight during my last update, I am so grateful to report that outside of an extra few pounds right at Easter weekend that have already come back off, I have not gained any weight in the past month.

I purchased new pillows a few weeks ago and they made a huge positive difference in my nights of sleep! Nevertheless, due to extra studying and a full calendar, I am not getting the full 7 hours of sleep I need, so during the day I am extra fatigued. Caffeine and catnaps are necessities these days.

I am embarrassingly emotional, and am still struggling with some super low mood swings. I am blaming it on my extra workload with school and my crazy schedule. Stress can exacerbate depression, no?

Here's to a strong and healthy third trimester! Looking forward to when I can start the countdown to when I meet my baby!


He Is Risen!

From our family to yours -- Happy Easter!


Holy Week

With how sick we were the week leading up to and for weeks after Christmas, we did not get to do half of those holiday activities I had planned. Thankfully, we have been healthy this week leading up to Easter, so we've been able to hit on a few activities this week. 

First up, The Easter Story Wreath (see here for instructions and printouts). 

Our second project for the week was to paint clay pots. We filled them with candy and brought one (plus, kept one) to a friend that we met up with for a playdate. A cuter idea for painting clay pots can be found here.

The third project was a joint effort with friends. We colored hot Easter eggs with crayons so that the wax would melt onto the egg, forming a type of paint. This did not work out so well with the younger children. I should have waited till the eggs were not as hot! For instructions, click here

For our fourth project, our friend brought over the supplies to make Empty Tomb Rolls to make after we colored the eggs. This was a tasty and effective visual for the children to learn the Easter story. For the recipe, click here

We were able to attend our church's Maunday Thursday service, which included a foot washing ceremony. This visual really helped to drive home the importance of The Last Supper and the magnitude of how powerful these events really are. CJ was old enough to appreciate it all and has been making the most precious comments about all of the festivities. 

Good Friday was very somber. CJ particularly understood what Good Friday meant and he was very sad. To cheer us up before the church ceremony we had planned to attend that night, we invited the extended family over to come color Easter eggs with us to complete our fifth project for the week. 

The Good Friday service was very moving. The Scripture readers read with such passion, and the candle light and silence throughout the service gave each of us a chance to really think about that dreadful day so many years ago. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. 

But now we anticipate the best day of the year. The day that Jesus triumphs. The day that we see prophesy fulfilled at it's best. The day that promises us eternal life and hope and forgiveness. He will rise from the dead, He will save us from our sins, He is the Spotless Lamb! 

So to celebrate this anticipation, we made little Spring Nests out of Rice Krispie treats and Cadbury Mini Eggs for our sixth and final holiday project for the week to represent new life. We enjoyed getting our hands sticky and creating our little nests and we can't wait to eat them tomorrow for Resurrection Sunday! For the recipe, click here

Wishing you all a blessed Easter filled with love, forgiveness, hope, joy, and gratefulness!