Israel: Three Years Old!

Dear Israel,

You are three years old buddy!!! Oh man, I am so proud of you and the little boy you are becoming. You make us so happy and we are absolutely honored to be your family.

Israel, you are so silly! You love to make us laugh, and if you hear someone else laughing, often you will copy it with a fake (or real) laughter! You still love it when your father pretends to get hurt, and you love it when he throws balls across the room. You love to shake your head really fast when we say "you're silly!"

Your favorite things are cars, trucks, balls, and currently: DJ Danny (your turntables) and you have recently re-established for love for your Laugh & Learn musical puppy. You still like reading the same books (mainly Sandra Boynton and Good Night Moon) and your same 4 DVDs (Elmo and Baby Einstein). Although we have recently introduced Daniel Tiger and you seem to tolerate it!

"What's That?" is the most common thing you say. You point at your clock, a world map, and your glasses when you've taken them off the most. If you say "what's that?" and I ask, "Do you want DJ Danny?" you will start laughing and getting really excited. Although sometimes it can get just a LITTLE repetitive answering what's that all day long, we absolutely love to hear you talking! Other words you've started to say: pup/ puppy, baby, bye, hi, mmm, cool, whoa, wow, Papa, Pop, mama, church, truck, car, go, want more. We're really pleased with how you have been picking up new words lately and we LOVE hearing you talk! You still get in really talkative moods where you will just babble away and it is so sweet. When we pick you up from daycare or church, you will tell us all about it in your own little language!

Speaking of progress, you are on the move! You can scoot across the room so fast! If we say "want to go?" you will head towards the door in two seconds. You are walking long distances in your walker, and although we have to push it for you most of the time, you can take 3-4 steps on your own if the floor is sloped. You have really strong core strength, and you are doing your exercises on the pilates ball like a champ! I can't believe that when we started therapy years ago you would just flop over, and now you are so strong. You can also stand with support for a while, and you often stand in your walker on the playground at school.

You recently started enjoying going down the slide! I'm really proud of you for being so brave. You even pushed yourself down the slide a few times the other day. You still take one good nap mid-day, and sometimes you'll nap for 45 minutes and sometimes 2 hours! If I get you up right after you wake up, sometimes you will fall back asleep on my chest laying on my bed. You are so snuggly! You are probably at your sweetest point at night after we've put Edith to bed and it's just me, you, and daddy. You will snuggle us and you can be so chatty and sweet.

You're so BIG buddy! I'm sure you're over the 30 pound mark at this point, because you're getting heavy. You are wearing 3T clothes and size 6 shoes. You just look so tall when we stand you up! You're pretty self-sufficient with feeding now, and you just need help with utensils some. You can be a picky eater but you still love yogurt and bananas! We have to watch you because if you are tired of eating dinner you will start throwing your food across the kitchen.

You and Edith have a really fun relationship. You guys can play really nicely together, and sometimes when she's standing up you will pull her down by her diaper. You both have been known to hit each other, and she likes to take your glasses off. You always get excited to see her after being separated from each other. I'm really excited to see what your relationship looks like in the future!

This is a big month of change for you. We've said good-bye to your UCP therapists, and you only have 3 more weeks of PT at Judy Benton's office. You're getting all new therapists and you're going to start preschool at Kitty Stone for a half day each week. Honestly, I'm a bit scared and nervous. We've never met anyone who hasn't fallen in love with you and done their best to help you, so my fears are unfounded.

One of your therapists called you a "charmer" and that is probably one of the best words to describe you. Israel, you have charmed us all. You are so sweet, so silly, so precious. You are a gift, my love. It is unbelievable to me that three years ago you were born in Gambella, Ethiopia, and we are celebrating your birthday here in Alabama. How do I deserve such a gift to be your mom? I will never understand why God's grace is so generous to me that I would get to know and love you. Thank you for persevering so well, for working hard and pointing me to Christ. I am so glad you are my first-born and that you have made me a mama. I learn so much from you every single day. Happy three years my boy.