Thursday, September 6, 2012

letter to my niece & nephew

Dear Maddie and Cohen,
Somehow(even though it is inevitable and expected) time has passed and here we are--a five year old and a 27 month old. It is harder and harder to imagine life and living before you--truth is I can't anymore. The existence of you both has done something incredible for our little family. I'll never be able to put down in words what that something is, but I can recognize it in all of us. My father(Papaw ChooChoo to you guys) has become quite the softie since your arrival. He's always happy to see you, play cars or princesses, or nod off quietly on the couch as an episode of Max and Ruby winds down. Someday I will make sure to tell you all of the amazing things about him...there's too much to put down here right now. When I was younger he was a bit strict and overprotective, but I guess a dad has to be when raising two girls by himself. It's nice to see him soften up a bit with you guys.

In the picture above you are all dressed up for a family wedding. I'm sorry the photo is a little blurry, but you both are all movement. Especially Cohen, who doesn't really care for the concept of sitting still(unless Bubble Guppies is on). Maddie, I watched my sister(your mom) curl your hair as you tried to stand as still as possible. She painted your toes and nails a pail pink and you beamed at your reflection when she was finished. You are getting taller all the time. I'm constantly impressed with what a little lady you are, so mindful of others and always using your manners. You are especially impressive around other kids. You know how to share and include others--even your little brother, which I know is hard for you at times. Every now and then he takes the one particular mermaid doll you wanted to play with, sometimes he knocks down all of the blocks we used to build a giant house. But you've also noticed how he mimics and copies you endlessly, referring to you as "Z." He follows after you with a great big smile. I love that you both have each other.

You are also in school now--kindergarten! I can't believe it. You cried the first few times that someone dropped you off, but were fine by the time class started. I don't blame you--it's a big adjustment. It's funny--I can remember a handful of things from my own days in kindergarten, and remembering those things makes me wonder what you will remember someday. I want it all to be positive for you.

Cohen, you have the best smile when I walk into the room. Your entire face lights up and you yell "Aunt Nikki!" as if you want the entire neighborhood to know that I've come to visit. Sometimes you take one of your sister's mermaids to give to me, then grab one for yourself and beckon me to follow you around the living room as we make them swim through the air. You will bring your mermaid's face right up to my mermaid's face and say, "Mermaid mermaid mermaid." This is the conversation they have and it cracks me up every time you do it. We've started to move my air mattress in front of the small slide downstairs so that you can slide and land with a bounce. And just like your sister, you love to steal bites of my cereal. Your favorite thing is to pick the berries out of my bowl while proclaiming, "B!" You are also sleeping in your "big boy bed" now. Often when you are put down for a nap, I can still hear you on the monitor babbling to Mickey Mouse before you fall asleep.

I'm so lucky to know such brilliant little people, so lucky to be related to you and to watch you grow and hit milestone after milestone. I have videos and pictures along the way to prove that you were in fact smaller than small at some point...though as time goes on and you grow, it gets harder to wrap my head around. Maddie, I love to hold your hand as we walk through a parking lot. I love that we always want to sit by each other at restaurants, and I love that we can share our imaginations with each other when we play. Cohen, you are quite a charmer. You can scoot down stairs now and when you tell me you love me I get tears in my eyes. I am so very proud to be your aunt, so thankful to be a part of your lives. You both inspire me endlessly. I hope I can do the same for you.

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