Two Years Old

Dear Israel,

Today you are two years old! It kind of breaks my heart that you are growing up on me. All week I've been sad that you are getting older and that you're not a baby anymore!

You are such a great kid. You make us laugh all the time and you are so silly! You and I have some inside jokes, like how you shake your head when I say "you're funny" and how I can make you smile when you're giving the world's cutest pout. You're hilarious. I love sitting with you at mealtimes because you make the best faces as you eat. You've recently started shaking your head when you don't like something that we try to feed you. Sometimes you continue to eat it, even though you shake your head at each bite! Our battle right now is that you like to throw food off your high chair. I know you understand me when I tell you no, because if I catch you and ask you to leave it on the table or eat it, you will make the right choice. But if I leave you to yourself there is a pile of food all around the floor. You have made so many milestones in the last year. We are incredibly proud of you! I'm so thankful that you are mostly self-feeding now, and that you can drink out of a straw and a sippy cup without handles! Those took a long time to accomplish and I don't want to take it for granted that you have made such progress.

You're still not really talking... well you're always jabbering or singing! You wake up singing and fall asleep singing. It's the sweetest thing to know that you are up because of your sweet voice! You do say "mama" when you're distressed and I'm not around, and you will say "baby" when I ask "Are you my baby?" and you wave your hand at the same time! We're working on sign language but you typically just look at us like we're crazy when we ask you to sign.

You've had a lot of physical therapy over the last year. We recently switched to a new outpatient PT and you seem to like it. I sit in the waiting room and hear you alternate from fussing to singing! You're getting really close to standing up from a sitting position by yourself, you can stand (supported) for a while, and you are starting to bend your knees when we try to make you walk around the room. You can sit indefinitely without falling over, and you are getting stronger on your hands and knees, though you don't like it. When you do tummy time you find a way to flip over, even if it takes a while.

You have made huge progress in making friends and being able to be away from us for a while. I think it has helped a lot that you started school at 18 months. You LOVE LOVE LOVE your teachers at school and they are your favorite people! I hear that they spoil you! You enjoy nursery at church and you have a few friends, like Emma Kate, that you see regularly and get along with. You have had some amazing babysitters that love you, and our neighbor Anna babysat you a lot this summer when mommy needed help! You love your grandparents and even spent a weekend with your Gaga and Pop this summer when mommy was at school. You're getting so big and I'm thankful that you can spend time away from us without having to deal with emotional repercussions anymore! We're proud of you!

Other favorite things include taking walks with your dad, and being outside. You have come a long way in tolerating your carseat, but I think that is because we finally broke down and got a DVD player for the car! You love Elmo and Baby Einstein, and do not have any interest in being introduced to other movies. We've tried Cars, Happy Feet and Toy Story and you were NOT. INTERESTED! Elmo forever! You think it is hilarious when your dad pretends to get hurt and when he bounces balls off of the wall, floor and ceiling!

It has been such a beautiful thing watching you become a big brother. You went from initially being scared and crying when you saw/heard her, to lighting up when she was around. You reach for her often to pat her, and you think it is so funny when she "kisses" you and touches you. You giggle at her when she makes noises. I can't wait to see you guys grow up together and I pray that you are best friends!

We read "Goodnight Moon" every night and you have recently demanded that you sleep with your book! We read "Hey Wake Up!" every morning. I love that you love books and that you help me turn the pages. Our nicknames for you are "Short Stack", "The Stack", "Brother", "Songbird of his generation" and "Is"- although there are times we still call you Biruk too!

Israel, every day we love you more and more and we are so thankful that God saw fit to make us your parents. I've had a heavy heart lately thinking about your birth family and how it was ordained that we would be your parents too. God is faithful and I'm so thankful that out of all the children in the world, you were the one to make us parents and that we get to be yours forever. We are so grateful. You're the best, sweetest, happiest, silliest boy and we are so proud of you. I can't believe you are growing up so fast. We want to treasure every second because we are so incredibly lucky to love you.