Wednesday, August 6, 2008

a letter to my spunky little gator

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my kater gator! how can it be that this time a year ago we were just meeting you? your first year of life has blown by. i will admit it had its share of tough moments...most of them between 2 and 4 months, but its funny how those tough days are but a faint memory. you have so vastly multiplied the joy in our little family...the smiles and giggles. we are blessed indeed! in the weeks leading up to this milestone daddy and i have sat many a times and reflected on God incredible goodness to us. both of us have shed tears as we look through photos of your first year of life...tears of joy and awe...bursting with a deep love for you, kate.
katherine christine. your first name means "pure" and your middle name "follower of Christ". oh how i pray these qualities might mark your life. how i desperately pray that you will learn to love and follow Jesus early on and with a pure, whole hearted devotion. but we call you kate. somehow that just fits you. spunky. full of life and energy. independent. tough. funny. social.
dearest kate, you are full of life. there is almost always a ready smile on your face...not just a smile, rather a huge, toothy, giggling grin. you love people--the cashier at the grocery store, passerbys in the church hallway, friends and family, and, of course, your sister. it seems we can't escape from an outing without at least one person commenting on your smile OR your reddish hair OR your sweetly chubby little cheeks. your smile delights me. i love the way your nose crinkles up when you smile....the way your left eye squints shut a bit more tightly than the right when you flash a big grin. and your hair...we never guessed you would have reddish hair, as i think we expected it to be blonde like elizabeth's or brown like mom and dad's, but God surprised us all--filling your head with strawberryish that is already curling into little ringlets in the back.
it is phenomenal to think about all that has happened in the last year, amazing to think you started as an 8 lb. 1 oz. wee little newborn, content to snuggle up against mommy and daddy, sleeping and crying and eating....and repeating that cycle. so many firsts. your first time sleeping through the night (one mommy especially appreciated!). your first solid foods. your first tooth. rolling over for the first time. sitting up for the first time. army crawling for the first time (right up to big bapa's chair!). finally getting that tummy off the ground and really taking off crawling for the first time. pulling up to standing. cruising around on the furniture. your "kind of" first words. you babble something that sounds an awful lot like "doggy" say "da da" and "ma ma ma ma ma"--but not necessarily recognizing what you are saying. you are such a big girl these days...and, yet, you remain my "baby". i can barely comprehend the reality that in the next month or so you will take off walking. secretly i kind of want to keep you on your knees a little it seems a remaining vestige of "babyhood"...somehow i imagine that once you stand and walk you will take yet another giant leap toward toddlerhood--and that thought is mind-boggling at the moment.
my kate, you have so much personality. the face in the picture above says it all. these days you are constantly on the move. exploring. discovering. leaving a path of "destruction" in your wake. we jokingly call you "baby kong" due to your fondness for sitting on, disassembling, and otherwise wreaking havoc on elizabeth's creations. if i had a nickel for every time i heard elizabeth say, "oh no mommy. kater has my ______." or "oh no mommy! kater knocked down my _______" OR my personal favorite "oh no mommy! kater is eating my _______(paper, car, castle, train...the possibilities are endless)." you LOVE your big sister. you love anything she is doing and want desperately to keep up with her. as you've become more mobile, you've found a whole new world of "toys"...the tile coasters on the coffee table, any kind of paper or coupon that might be left on the couch within your reach, the steps (you definitely surprised mommy with this new skill...up until monday you were not the slightest bit interested in climbing...then with one determined charge you made it all the way to the top of the steps without turning back or faltering once--i suspect this is a picture of how you might tackle life...head on, without a tinge of fear!). daddy and i joke that you will be the one to take off trying to ride the tricycle down the middle of the street by next summer, and surely by then you'll be the one running through the lawn and onto the pier, catapulting yourself off the edge of the dock and into the water. i have a sneaky feeling you will be our child who lives life without abandon, and i am one hundred percent certain you will be keeping mommy and daddy on their toes!

from the moment we dipped you in the pool in florida, you have been our water-bug (i suppose your love affair with water began long before that though...first in the womb, and later in the bath tub!). seriously, the minute you hit the water your face lights up and your hands start splashing. perhaps mommys favorite part is watching your little tongue try to catch drops of water on your tongue as they sprinkle through the air (or trying to lap them up like a dog if you're in your float). be it a pool or the lake, you simply can't get enough...even when i find the water to be just a wee bit chilly! :) you seriously have no fear or reservation. but kater, one thing you can grow out of quickly would be the putting foreign objects in your mouth jig...seriously...the first time i sat you in the shallow part of the lake you decided to munch on some rocks...ick! (and as a sidenote, you have a particular fondness for finding and chewing on anything that belongs to mugho...please, sweet girl, no more!)

while a good 90% of your personality is do have your chilled out moments. today you were fascinated by the texture of the grass...the way it tickle and poked at your little legs, the feel of a blade pinched between your fingers, and the taste...yes, once again, ick! sitting you in the grass seems to be one way to "contain" you, as you rarely venture far on your knees in the tickly, prickly grass. of course, if you do feel the need to make a move while "grass-bound", you like to do your famous "tee-pee crawl"...sticking that diapered bottom up in the air and plodding forward on your hands and feet. seriously...we really need to get this move on video. i think it actually originated when you were wearing a dress, but i have a sneaky suspicion you do it just to be funny these days! in fact, you do a lot of things just to be funny...personality, i tell ya!
even though your big alligator birthday bash isn't until saturday, daddy and mommy figured we'd give you some practice with the presents, songs, and cake eating (after all, we don't want you to cry like libs did--although, if you do, it will be a-okay...secretly the tears are kind of cute...and hey, mommy always loves the chance to snuggle you close and comfort you). you were thrilled by the prospect of the package, which you promptly stuck in your mouth to taste...and then, of course, dropped right over the edge of the highchair...and then turned to look at mommy and daddy with a huge grin and giggle. seriously, this is one "game" that can't end too soon...cheerios, chicken, toys, anything and everything being sent over the edge of the highchair or stroller...plummeting to the floor, landing to the chorus of your giggles and grins, which quickly turn to tears of frustration as you realize you can't reach it and continue the game. and oh how frustrated you are when mommy won't "play" along! did finally (with much help from mommy) figure out how to open that reveal your gator tot shirt, which you told me (really, you do...mommy isn't indoctrinating you with alligators or anything like that!) you wanted to wear to your party!

and finally, what would a birthday be without some sort of ooey-gooey sticky surprise. since you will be enjoying your alligator cake on saturday, mommy decided to do a simply treat for your actual birthday...and you LOVED it! (we figured it really wasn't a birthday without some sort of treat--and elizabeth thanks you heartily for having a birthday and providing an occasion for "cake".) daddy lit the candle and move it as far out of your reach as the tray would allow, we sang "happy birthday", and then right as libs was ready to come help with the blowing out of the candle, you stuck your little fingers right out and managed to reach definitely succeeded in "snuffing" out your first birthday candle...but seriously miss kater gator, next year lets use the blowing it out hurts much less than trying to use your fingers (which thankfully weren't fact, i think you were more startled by mommy and daddy rushing in to move the flame away than the actually touching the flame itself!). you dove right into your cake (which really didn't surprise us...because you will eat just about anything...except the occasional meat LOVE your fruits though!). and then, well, you were content to goof around with the spoon for quite some time after the cake was gone. i finally captured one of my favorite funny things you do on LOVE to put spoons in your mouth and let go...flipping them up and down, laughing and smiling while this spoon projects from your mouth crazily! kate, you are a trip!

if this post hasn't sufficiently covered the depth of our love for you...our joy in watching you grow...our gratefulness to God for gifting our lives with you...let me tell you. katherine christine we love the moon and back...we love you from the top of your red head, right on down to your belly button, and even further down to the very tips of your pudgy little toesies...right down to "little petey, patty lou, odie missel, penny knobble, and big tom gobble" (though you aren't quite old enough to remember that little ditty yet, your big sister will surely fill you in...we'll make your big bapa proud). kate, you are our precious daughter, and we love you with a vast and immeasurable love. may you grow to be a woman of God, to live and laugh and love without reservation, to be devoted to Jesus for and foremost. oh how my heart longs to see what God has in store for you.

**all photos were taken yesterday, on kate's actual birthday.


Nancy M. said...

Happy Birthday Kate! This is a wonderful letter for her to keep. She is the most precious little girl!

Rebecca said...

such a beautiful letter to a precious and beautiful girl! she sure is full of life!! i love her big smiles that reach her eyes!

chelle said...

Such a dear letter to such to such a delightful little one year old...she seriously could not be cuter Amanda.

Amy's Blah, Blah, Blogging said...

Happy 1st birthday to Kater. What a precious little one!

Anonymous said...

What a sweet post, Amanda. She's so beautiful!
Happy birthday Kate!!!

Taylor said...

You made me fast it goes by. Happy Birthday to your sweet Kate.

Loving life as a Mommy & Wife said...

Oh, Amanda she is so adorable and looks a lot like big sis! I remember reading about her while she was still in your tummy :D And now look, the big ONE year! Ryder's wont be long and it seems they have a few of the same qualities :D (the hair the smile) She is so cute how I would love to hold her and squeeze her in person
Happy birthday to that sweet little girl

Wendi said...

This touched my haert so much! I have tears in my eyes to prove it. What a wonderful mommy you are. Your girls are going to grow up so secure with this kind of love showered on them. I love the pictures as well!! Your explanations of Kate's big persoanlity show up in the pictures!! I feel like I know her... :)
Happy Birthday to a sweet one year old!! Have fun celebrating! It is indeed a special milestone.

Colored With Memories said...

she is PRECIOUS!

wouldn't it be fun to get jader-tater and kater-gator together!