Piper is 2!

To Piper on your second birthday,

Piper Jane. Just saying your name makes me smile. Where do I start with you, child? You have changed so much in a year. You are bigger (33 pounds! 37 inches! That is actually off the charts, literally, in both weight and height), your hair is longer, you move around proficiently, you sleep through the night, and you talk.

You talk! We know what's going on inside your head now, and it is a delight to hear. The last few months have brought an onslaught of new words and combinations and sentences---every day it is something new, and you make us smile. You are more content with your world, too, because you can communicate so much better. There was a rough patch in there, around 15-18 months, where we endured a lot of whining and frustration from you. You had stuff to say but couldn't say it, I think. I'd be frustrated, too.

You are silly. It seems like you have a good sense of humor---at least when you look at us with your head completely still and those eyes darting around purposefully, they look to be filled with wisdom and understanding and humor. You make all of us laugh and you revel in it. Your latest thing has been putting your hand to your forehead and exclaiming “oh, man!”...over and over again, because we keep laughing.

You sing...your favorites are ABCs (which you demand that I sing every night before bed, like a lullaby), Silent Night, Jingle Bells, Away in a Manger (it is, after all, almost Christmas!) You can sing most of those songs on your own (with a few made up words)---but usually you want someone to join you, and you aren't shy about tapping my leg and saying “sing, mommy!” Sometimes you wake up in the morning, happy, and we can hear you singing in the crib. It's the best way to wake up. The other morning Rowan joined you in your crib in the morning, and your dad and I laid in bed listening to the two of you talking, singing, being sweet in the early morning hour. It made me feel so happy.

You have friends! And your play isn't just about claiming ownership of a toy or doing parallel play---you interact, love, hug, connect. We took care of the Kuiper boys every Tuesday this past year, and you have built a special friendship with Judah, who is 2 ½. “Judah is my buddy” you say. One of the most recent times we saw them, you announced “I so happy to see you!” as you gave him a hug. You are also friends with Jack, Ben, Hannah, your cousins. You seem to get it: these are people my size. My friends.

You love this new baby we have coming. I'm not always sure how much you understand about this baby---like that it will come OUT of my body in a matter of days, and will be moving in with us for good. What I do know is that you are very aware of my belly, and you talk to it tenderly, always calling it “my baby.” Today we were at the grocery store and out of the blue, from your seat in the cart, you just cradled and stroked my belly, talking closely and giving it kisses, “hi baby, I love you baby.” I do know that you love other babies in our life....we'll see how you feel about this one coming, who will forever usurp your position in this family. I'm eager to see you negotiate your way into the position of middle child.

This fall we've spent a lot of one-on-one time together because Rowan is in kindergarten three full days a week. Even though you ask all day long “where RoRo go?” and I know that you would prefer it if she never left us, I have enjoyed the time just with you. You have an attention span for reading books that is longer than mine. You are curious, engaging, easy to be around. Well, for the most part. If I have too much to do....if I've put you off one too many times with laundry or cooking or editing photos....you let me know. You are not a wallflower, that's for sure. You make your voice heard one way or the other. I always say that I'd rather my daughters be assertive---but sometimes you can be so demanding, child!

Oh, and sometimes you show that assertiveness with a bite. Not sure what to do about that one. Rowan never bit anything ever---so this is new territory for us. And it hasn't just been an experiment for you---you're pretty committed to the idea that biting will accomplish something. Or at least that it's a great way to express your frustration or anger or impatience. You've bitten several friends (hard) and Rowan has been on the receiving end of a half dozen bites, too. We've done everything we're supposed to---firm explanations, immediate consequences, time outs, apologies. None of it phases you much. And you say “I'm sorry, RoRo” so sweetly afterward that it breaks our hearts. And makes us a little annoyed. Then you bite her the next day. We're hoping that you grow out of it soon.

You walk into most situations with confidence. You love going to nursery and don't look back when we drop you off. You have no problem when I leave you with grandparents or someone else---you seem secure in yourself, secure in my love for you, secure in the knowledge that I will come back for you. You have a healthy dose of independence.

Some of your favorite things at 2: books, blocks, cars and trucks, puzzles, Rowan, babies, dolls, fruit snacks, church nursery, your paci (or papi, as you call it!), apple juice, yogurt in a tube, wrestling with daddy, swinging, singing, stickers, taking walks, playing at the park, swimming.

For these last days before our new baby comes, I am treasuring you as my baby, Piper. I have loved having you as my baby, my youngest. I know that in a short amount of time I will not be able to carry you as much...and even though my belly is big and you are a whopping 33 pounds, right now I just want you on my hip.

I want to snuggle you, hold you close, keep you right here. At just turned two. It's a good age. Will you just stay my baby a little while longer, so I can memorize everything, so I can be sure not to forget?

I love you, Piper Jane. How much do I love you? As you say to me now, “SO, SO much,” with your arms flung wide.

Yes, so so SO much.

Happy Birthday!


To see some more photos of Piper at 2 (and her big sister!) click HERE.


38 weeks

This pregnancy has just flown by! I guess it makes sense with a third baby--I'm pretty busy with the other two, time just goes so much faster.

I did make sure to stop and get some photos of the belly, though, just in time! My friend Jill Herweyer, who also took photos of me when I was about this pregnant with Piper, helped me out again and took some amazing shots of me and the girls yesterday. We had fun! I'm not used to being on the other side of the camera---but I know that I won't regret it.

Piper turns 2 tomorrow, then Christmas....so I'm just hoping that the baby waits until all those celebrations are done. I wouldn't mind going close to the full 40 weeks and having this child's birthday farther away from Christmas :)

I probably included too many photos here, but if you want to see a few more there is a set at Flickr that you can link to HERE.


More photo links

Seems like the only thing I can manage to blog these days is a link to photos. Oh well!

Here is a set on Flickr of pics from Sept/Oct: click HERE
First days of school and halloween!

And here is a random set of photos from our little point and shoot camera from July-Sept--lots of summer activities, the beach, the zoo, a concert, lots of Rowan's shots: click HERE.


Family Photos

We attempted some family photos a few weeks ago. Always fun to try and be the photographer and the mom :) Thanks to the tripod, interval timer, and Aunt Jenny and Kai getting our attention....we got a few!

You'll also notice in the photos that I have a little something growing in my belly :) Cebulski #3 will be making an appearance during the first weeks of 2011, right after Piper turns 2. Life is about to get crazy!

To see some more photos from our little shoot, click here.


One more photo link

Look at me!

Click here to see some photos of our annual week at Lake Michigan with the Hoeksema family in late June. There are some delicious photos of my sister Jenny and her son Kai, my brother Adam and his kids....and also a few shots of a visit from Jenny's birth mother and her daughter. It was the first time they all met, and we all got to be a part of it! Pretty special.

There, now if that didn't sell you to look at them, I don't know what will :)

July/August photos

Here I go!

Click here for photos from July/August 2010.

I'm practically all caught up!


More Photos!

I'm slowly getting there:

Here is a big ole photo update from May/June 2010:

Click here.

I'll be back later for July/August--then I'll be almost caught up!


Photo Update

Can it be? A new blog post?

I've been a bit distant lately from this family blog. So I am way behind in doing much of anything with personal photos.

I went through and put some on Flickr....going all the way back to January, ay caramba!

So here's a link to a flickr set from January and February:
click HERE.

Yes, Rowan turned 5 in February, and this set includes some birthday photos. Better late than never, right?

And here's a link to a set from March and April:
click HERE.

It's a bunch of random, every day photos...mixed in with a trip to FL that the girls and I took with some friends, little trips to the beach, and every day moments. They are all there. And hopefully they are mostly self-explanatory, because there is no way I can go back and fill in the gaps with actual posts. The pictures will have to do!


Rowan is 5!

(to see more photos of Rowan at 5, go to the photography blog here)

(This post is over a month late. Better late than never! I wanted to share parts of a letter I wrote to Rowan this year. It was kind of a long one this year, and I think she's old enough now that some of it I will leave personal.)

Rowan Joy, 2-21-2010

You are 5 today! I think about all the birthday letters I have written, and how I look forward to each one--they are like love letters, giving me a time to reflect on all of the things about you that I adore, and all the things in the last year that I see in you---growing you, changing you, forming your little heart.

I probably say this in every birthday letter, but it’s only because I feel it so strongly: I cannot believe I have a 5 year old! 5! That’s half way to 10, a quarter of the way to 20. It’s a big one. Like becoming a teenager, turning 21, entering your 30s. 5 fits in there. You are my oldest, my first. So I will always go through these milestones with you for the first time. There is something really special about that, child.

5 is far from being a baby or even a toddler. 5 is a girl. Not even a little girl. A girl. And I love the girl that you are.

You are very different from me. There have been a few times in the last weeks that you’ve exclaimed “mom, you just don’t understand me!” And I’ve thought….are we really starting this already? But I also smile, because you are right. I don’t always understand you. Sometimes I get impatient with you. Sometimes I don’t get your sensitivities, your deliberateness, your pickiness about clothes or food.

I might not always understand you, child, but I know you fully. And I love you fully. I couldn’t love you more, truly. When you smile at me, touch my face tenderly, tell me that you love me….it swells my heart to the point of bursting.

Rowan, you know what you want. You pick out your clothes each morning with certainty--and our only scuffles now come when you insist on wearing leggings with holes in the knees (because they have been worn so lovingly)…and I think that wherever we are going, requires un-holey clothing. We can usually figure it out.

You also know what you want to eat, and request things with specificity. Lunchables are your new answer to prayer: each item separated from each other in a divided plate, with a wrapped treat for dessert. It’s your heaven.

I love that you are sure of yourself in those ways. I admire your stubbornness, even when it irritates me. I look to your future and pray that you will stay a strong person, a strong woman. It will serve you well when life gets messy.

You have caught the love of words this year. I’ve decided not to push you on reading, but rather follow your lead and make sure you want to do it. You’ve figured out how to sound out so many words and letter combinations, and are writing several words on your own, too. I can’t wait to see you unlock the rest of the puzzle of reading and writing--you’re going to love it!

You have blossomed in your friendships this year. Last year, you mostly clung to my legs in new social settings…and even on our street, where you should have been getting comfortable with the kids and parents, you still seemed to hang back and not engage with the other kids. You’ve come out of your shell a bit---confidently crossing the street for playdates with Katie or Eden, staying outside by yourself to play with the neighborhood kids---it’s awesome to watch you make your way, interact, enjoy friendships. The people who you choose to surround yourself with are so important---I love watching you make decisions about who to hang around with, who you want to be close to.

You are curious about how things work--the earth, the stars, the human body. You ask good questions, and get excited about learning something new. You tell me, in a serious voice “I am very interested in how the human body works.” You have several kid encyclopedias (space, horses, sharks, insects)….and they are often your choice to read at bedtime. I’m not sure what I would do without google (probably just go to the library more often, which might be a good thing)…because it seems like almost daily, I have to google something to figure out how to answer one of your questions.

You care about how you look. This morning you dissolved in tears because your hair wasn’t laying just right. You check yourself out in the mirror. I’m trying to help you have a healthy perspective on beauty. You are beautiful and you always will be. I pray that you don’t hold it in too high esteem, that you don’t care about it too much.

I’m eager to watch your relationship with Piper this year. You told me recently that you wished she was still a newborn…I think you said this as she was getting into some of your toys in your room. Right now she isn’t much of a playmate…mostly just a threat, because she is very interested in all your toys, and she doesn’t have great judgment nor is she very careful. But I can already see her looking up to you, and I see the way you smile at her with tenderness, and enjoy her, and I overhear you telling her you love her….and I pray that you two will be good to each other, and maybe even eventually become good friends. The sound of you two laughing together…well, I honestly cannot think of a sound that brings me more pleasure.

I am proud of you, child. Proud of the girl you are and the girl you are becoming. I love you so much it hurts.

Happy 5th Birthday!



Do I post photos of my girls on the other blog? Or here? Or both?

Check out a quick post with photos of Rowan and Piper on the photography blog here.

Most personal photos I will post here, but if there are some personal photos that might help market the photography business, where should I put them? For people that check both blogs (hi mom!)...I don't want to be redundant.


Big Photo Update Oct-Dec 2009

I have to figure out a way to keep up better with blogging the day-to-day. When I started this blog, we were embarking on an adventure and it was easy to have places or events to post about in a single blog post. I want to blog more about daily things, without it going 3 months without posting just the "everyday" photos. But I also don't want to bore anyone. Hmmm.

I've put some notes under photos on Flickr, and that will be my way of recording those things for now. If you watch the slideshow for each month, you can enable it to show the photo description while you do the slideshow...since some photos might need an explanation!

To see a set from October (Halloween!) click here.

To see a set from November (Thanksgiving!), click here.

To see a set from December (Piper's first birthday and Christmas!) click here.