It is hard this time of year not to feel extremely blessed and grateful for my two beautiful daughters. In Advent, as we prepare our hearts for the celebration of the mystery of Christmas, we reflect on Mary's favor with God leading to life in her womb...
Elizabeth's once barren womb now the home of one of the greatest prophets in human history...that same baby kicking with joy inside of her belly at the presence of the Savior...
a sweet baby King lying in a manger....and Mary treasuring and adding up in her heart the young years of her precious son- the miracle of life he brought to all around him.
Claire is turning 5 in a few weeks and I want her to know how much joy she brings me. I love to watch her color with focus and pride, to behold her dance happily throughout the house to Christmas and Scottish songs, to hear her sing sweet melodies in her own words, to be a part of her imaginary world and enjoy the creativity and discoveries she makes alongside of her, to have her by my side in the kitchen ready to lick any bowl that might have sweet residue, to teach her how to hold and love her baby sister and then treasure in my heart their young moments of bonding. I am so proud of Claire who has learned to write all of her letters and numbers, add and subtract, read four letter words, skip rope, swim, color in the lines, draw figures and objects, to share generously, to invite friends to play with her, to introduce herself to new people, to brush her own hair without yelling at me, to ride a scooter on bumpy sidewalks, to tease others and to be teased, to pray and give praises to God as she begins to question His connection to the world He has made.
Her budding personality could be described as shy yet friendly, enthusiastic in comfortable environments, very strong willed, easily disappointed but also easily elated- also easily frustrated, a passion for food and dancing, extremely observant, enjoys organizing and cleaning, perfectionistic tendencies in arts and crafts, very sensitive emotionally in her relationships, very attentive to friends, independant though not altogether confident, genuinely nurturing and showing little aggression unlike her mother before her;) I can see real gifts of leadership emerging in her as she often leads friends into play and games and regularly tries to take charge at home- to the point of resisting what Keith and I have told her to be true (like that it is a "cloak room" and not a "clock room" or that Santa is not a real person or that she has written her "J" or "4" backwards or that ice is slippery and skipping rope on it will make her land on her bum) .
Her areas of growth include confidence and self-esteem, obeying authority, and calming herself down when she upset and disappointed. I am excited to watch God bring her grace and opportunities for growth in the coming years. For her, we pray this verse "Behold I stand at the door and knock. Whoever hears my voice and let's me in, I will come in and dine with her and she with me." We are teaching both her and Autumn that big sisters love, share, and protect while little sisters love, share, and respect.
And my baby Autumn is nearing 9 months and working on her 1 year old molars - already has 6 teeth. She is a petite little one, full of wiggles and smiles. She likes cuddling and leaning her head on my shoulder when she sees a new face, but continues to exchange remarkable smiles with strangers. She seems to really like people and being in large groups of new faces. She is content to sit on the floor with her toys, watch her sister romp around, and sit in her high chair while I roam about the kitchen. So content that she has made few attempts to move beyond just sitting up. She likes to stand but is happy to wait until her big sister picks her up and totes her around the living room. So far, she likes her puree'd foods and isn't big on trying new tastes and textures. Our Autumn Leigh is full of joy and life and happiness so far, always happy to be held and smiled at. I am so proud of how easily she moved overseas and into a new pattern of eating and sleeping and into a new community of people- bringing many smiles to the Scottish elderly we encounter on the bus;) She loves her big sister and enjoys being held by her. She does have her getting smooched and squished limit when it comes to Claire, but her tolerance grows over time and she seems most cheerful when she is sitting on big sister's bedroom floor playing with her big girl toys. Her areas of growth include crawling, eating, pooping without strain, sleeping in, and overall physical strength;) We pray that she will "Abide in me and I will abide in you" and that the Lord will wash his "quiet waters" over her as she sleeps and grows in his "green pastures"
There are times I wish Keith and I would have had more "alone" time in our marriage early on and there are times I wish I could spend days by myself sleeping, reading, relaxing, eating, and conversing calmly with friends. My heart reminds me, though, that the clarity my Claire has brought me and the abundance my Autumn has brought me are an overwhelming grace. I needed daughters, I needed a strong willed side kick and I needed a cheery bundle of joy and God brought them at just the right time. Our marriage has grown deeper as we parent and treasure our girls together and I love having two girls that look like their Da-da and have wills like their Mum. Like Mary treasured her baby boy in a stable- though he came early in her life without little time to prepare or to enjoy Joseph alone, though her baby boy would have one of the strongest wills the world has ever known- like her, I rejoice in God my Savior who has blessed me with fertility and has brought angels into my life that bear His message and remind me of His unmerited favor.