Saturday, May 7, 2016

Dear Evelyn, Today you are three!

Dear Evelyn,

Somedays it feels like we are moving so slow but then I realize you have now been in our lives for three years. Three crazy and wonderful years. Today we are in Germany with family so I wrote this post a few days ago. There are so many things I want to tell you. I want you to know how amazing you are. You have such a strong spirit and personality which has helped you through the many trials you have already faced in your short life. You bring joy to so many people's lives. This year has been awesome to watch you grow. You had surgery back in September and since that surgery you have grown up so quickly. I wish I would have known how uncomfortable you were because I would have asked the doctors to do the surgery sooner. Please know that I love you and your Isä and I try hard to do what is best for you and as soon as we realized that you needed that surgery we had the doctors do it. Within two weeks you were already eating better and becoming more active. It has been wonderful to see the progress you have made since then.

As I looked through photos of the last year I noticed a few themes; animals, rides, cooking, crafts, ducks, and traveling. You are one busy little girl. Since your last birthday we have visited multiple zoos and animal parks and we have taken you to small amusement parks and let you ride every single carousel we see. Actually, your grandparents take you on the carousel because they love to see how you light up when you ride it. You are always asking if you can cook with me and you help me in the kitchen a lot. You are so willing to help clean up also, which will be wonderful once you are a little older and your cleaning doesn't create a larger mess. Stickers, glue, and paint are your favorite things to do. We try to do crafts frequently and you always enjoy it.

After your surgery in September you started to talk and it was so nice to hear, now you dictate your entire day to me ALL DAY LONG. We didn't know when you would start to talking so we try to be patient with you new found joy of hearing yourself. You know who speaks Finnish and who speaks English and you address them accordingly. Many times you will mix words up and create your own language. Sometimes when you are speaking in one language and you do not know a specific word, you switch to the other language.  It is so cute to watch and listen to you communicate, even though I am translating most of the time. You struggle with many sounds and some letters you just leave out completely. You still have speech therapy a few times a month and we are slowly working on the sounds you are missing.

Your eating has improved immensely. I believe this is due to the exercises from speech therapy which have strengthened the muscles in your mouth and the fact that you talk so much now, so your muscles are constantly being strengthened. Pasta and potatoes would be your favorite. Most mornings I make you buttered toast with an egg and you eat part of a banana. This just started within the last month and it has been so awesome to see how much more you are eating. One thing that has improved your eating, is I read to you while you eat breakfast. You enjoy this routine and as soon as you sit at the table you ask me to start reading. Other foods you like are strawberries, chicken, beef with sauce, rice, cream cheese, avocado, red bell pepper, carrots, cucumber, dip for your veggies, muffins (or cupcakes as you call them), bread, chips, and ice cream. Milk and water are the only beverages you drink. Another change we made to your diet after your surgery was you no longer drink normal cows milk. You drink a supplement type of milk for toddlers that includes a good amount of vitamins and minerals, while giving you less protein. We have to monitor your daily protein intake because of your poor kidney function.

Books and puzzles. You cannot get enough of puzzles. You are already doing 50 piece puzzles by yourself. It is the only time you are quiet. You sit at your little table and do puzzle after puzzle. Books are another favorite part of your day. We have so many books and yet I feel like we go through all of them every two to three days!

We go to music group once a week and you have enjoyed that a lot. We started going in February this year and you were a little shy the first few times, but now you participate fully. I have started playing music when we get in the car so now you ask for it as soon as you are buckled into your car seat. You have a few musical instruments and you enjoy pulling them all out and asking your Isä and I to play music with you.

Isä is still in school and I think it will be sad for both of us once he has to start working. You enjoy him being home and all the time you get to spend with him. You also love the time you get to spend with your grandparents on both sides of the family. Many days you will take the phone away from me so that you can talk to Granny and I don't interupt.

You have made some friends in the neighborhood and you really enjoy playing with them. You actually think any kid you see is your friend and luckily you are cute enough and small so they are willing to play with you for a little while. You do have some specific friends that you ask for by name and are always happy to see them.

This year has been so much fun watching you grow and learn. You personality is blossoming and while we struggle sometimes, I love to see your determination and I know it will take you far in life.  You are also a extremely polite child. You remember to say thank you without being told almost all of the time. You say excuse me and bless you. I am sure there are so many more things I could write to you but I most importantly I want you to know that I love you. I love that we get to spend every day together. I love that you get excited when I walk through the door (from the rare occasion I leave). I love that you want me to be a part of everything in your life. I know this stage will not last forever and I am so grateful that I get to spend it with you. I am so blessed to be your mother. You teach me so much about myself and the world. Thank you for being a part of our family and I look forward to this next year and all our big adventures.

Picture time! So you travel A LOT kiddo!! Since your last birthday, you have been to Italy, Texas, Florida, and we are currently in Germany. This does not include all the small little trips around Finland.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Evelyn's Third Birthday Celebration

Evelyn's birthday will be on Saturday but we leave on Thursday for Germany with the family, so we celebrated a little early. This year I will struggling with planning the party and getting things together. Luckily I had decided back in January that the girls would make crowns at the party so I had purchased the stuff while in Florida. We also found some pretty princess plates, napkins, and banner at the dollar store in Florida and with leftover supplies from her birthday last year, I didn't really need much. Evelyn really likes pasta and I was in the mood for some chicken alfredo, so the menu was pretty easy. Dessert....ugh, I could not think of anything. Finally I decided that we all liked the desserts I made for her birthday last year, so I would just make the same stuff. It turned out delicious. This year I stuffed the cupcakes with Jelly Belly's that we had brought back from Florida. It was a pink pack so it was full of fruity flavors that were good, I started to worry that I wouldn't have enough for the cupcakes because someone kept eating! 

We did Evelyn's birthday as part of the family Sunday dinner because it was difficult to find a Saturday that worked for everyone. We are some busy people. After church we came home and put Evelyn down for a nap, so that she would be in a good mood for the party and Miikael and I started decorating and getting the food ready. When Evelyn woke up from her nap Miikael explained to her that we were celebrating her birthday. She got so excited. When she walked into the living room she kept saying wow. 1 banner and 4 balloons....she is easy to make happy. About a month ago Evelyn started asking me to sing her the birthday song, it was cute and funny and now has become her favorite bedtime song. Silly girl. 

Once everyone arrived we got started and I am pretty sure Evelyn enjoyed every minute of it. I struggled to decide which pictures to share so there are a few to look at. 

The video is long, but totally adorable. We all sing happy birthday and then Nea and Olivia sing to Evelyn in Finnish. 

Present time! It was difficult to decide what to get Evelyn this year but I think we totally scored. Evelyn is always making a mess around the house and she is willing to clean it up but when she uses the broom and dustpan, she just makes a larger mess. Miikael and I talked about it and realized a little vacuum would be perfect. His mom went on the hunt to find one and it was a hit. Evelyn woke up yesterday morning asking me if she could vacuum.

She also got a children's music book that has Finnish songs and a cd so that we can learn them. Music group is one of Evelyn's favorite times of the week. She got a wheelbarrow, which had a bucket, shovel, and rake. It was also a hit among all the girls. And a baby doll. My parents sent Evelyn a baby doll which was a gift I had been looking forward to. I had told my mom about baby dolls that you could order customized with scars and special marks. My mom got to work and ordered Evelyn a beautiful doll that has every one of her scars and missing a finger. The woman who made the doll also included a vesicostomy and a diaper with a pad just like Evelyn has to use. Evelyn loves this doll. She changes its diaper multiple times a day. I know this doll will be a special keepsake for Evelyn. 

We had a wonderful day. I was exhausted by the end of the party but very happy with how it turned out. Evelyn had a great time and was happy to be around people who love her.