You know how some people think -- after having their first child -- that there is no way they could love another child as much?
Well, my love for my sweet Little Miss Malia -- my second-born -- is proof that there is always room in your heart for another child. Joelle may have been my first-born, but Malia completed our family and my heart. Sometimes we talk about a family memory from before Malia was born, and it breaks my heart just a bit to even think of a time when she was not in our lives; a special part of our family.
Malia entered the year 2010 as a four-year-old still in the Terrible Two's stage full-force (or in her case, the Frightening Fours!) and is leaving the same year behind as a much more mature 5-year-old with a lot more control over her emotions and behavior. She no doubt still exudes her stubbornness and strong will -- and I am quite sure this is a part of her that will never go away -- but the way she reacts within that strong will has been a very welcome change.
Malia had one of the biggest adjustments to date thrown at her this year by starting kindergarten. It has been a difficult adjustment for her and continues to be so as she is not looking forward to going back now after the Christmas holidays. Thankfully she is making a lot of new friends, loves her teacher and really does enjoy it once she's there...I think the bulk of the issue is that she just misses dear ol' Mom too much! But she is working hard at her school work and I am confident that as time progresses she will start to enjoy the overall experience (**fingers crossed**)! Oh, and I can't forget that before Kindergarten even started, she made another huge stride in her speech!
One thing I have really begun to notice more about this sweet little girl this past year is that she is a lot more sensitive than I thought she was. She may have a more rough-and-tough exterior, but don't let that fool you. This child can be heart-broken by one wrong word or one mis-interpreted look...or one simple phrase.
But as sensitive as Malia can be, she also still remains to be one of the wildest, bravest, silliest, goofiest little girls that I am privileged to know. And nothing else shows off this delightful part of her character quite like her wardrobe -- as shown here, here...and here. And many countless other times -- including yesterday which was by far the chart-topper and I only wish I had remembered to take a picture!! It was truly priceless.
Malia's faith has also been growing this year at a wonderful rate! She is asking more questions, making wonderful-to-the-ear comments and has proven to be our own personal little prayer warrior. And the most exciting part is that back in May, as a 4 1/2 year old precious child, she asked Jesus into her heart! For the life of me, I have no idea how that momentous occasion didn't make the blog, but regardless, it happened and we were so very proud of her. She may not grow up to remember that exact moment -- but it's etched in my mind, and in my heart, for the rest of my life!
Malia...watching you grow up (although you're still "the tiniest of the family!") and being able to raise you these past 5 years has been a blessing far greater than you could even realize. You may tell me all the time that you love me more than I love you -- but once you become a mother yourself (you know, way WAY in the future!!) you will know that nothing is greater than a mother's love for her child. Thank you for all of the ways you have enriched our lives, taught us things we needed to learn and challenged us. Every single moment is cherished. I love you so much, my sweet Little Miss!
You know how it feels when you look at someone and you feel like you could literally burst with love? It's part of being a Mother, and I often find myself just staring at Joelle wondering what I did to deserve such a treasure in my life. I catch myself watching her, struck with awe at her beauty -- both inside and out -- and thanking God for sending this ray of sunshine into our family.
Joelle welcomed the year 2010 as a six-year-old who was starting to come out of her quiet shell and she has parted ways with the same year as a seven-year-old (!!) full of a lot more confidence! She still has a ways to go, but even within the last 2 or 3 months I have noticed vast improvements. It wasn't too long ago where she would sit quietly in a room where there was an unfamiliar adult in her midst. Now she will often talk an unfamiliar adult's ear off. Such a difference!
Perhaps even a bigger display of her growing confidence is that just 2 weeks ago, Joelle played piano in church! I just started teaching her piano lessons this September (again, something I slacked off in blogging about -- for shame!!) and she blew me away by not only playing at my parents' house in front of the aunts, uncles & cousins but then playing the following week in church. It was a duet with yours truly, and it was an undescribeable honour to be a part of that debut. The pride inside of me for this child bubbled over and I could hardly control the tears by the time we finished our song.
Joelle has continued to show great strengths in her school work. As a fall baby, she is among the youngest in her class yet rises to the top with her intellectual abilities. Her love of reading earned her a special prize at the end of Grade 1 for reading 100+ books throughout the school year! This year, as a Grade 2 student, she is continuing to read well above grade level and is also excelling in spelling in math -- ahead of her grade level in both of those as well. Getting a "Sorry to waste your time...I'll just sit here and brag about your child for the next 10 minutes" at the parent-teacher interview in November was a thrill to hear!
One of the other strengths that Joelle continues to portray is her creativity. I wish I had logged and documented more of the things that she has drawn, made and said this year -- but here are just a few glimpses into the Wonderful World of Joelle!
Joelle may have turned seven this past year, but sometimes she has the attitude and maturity of a child several years her senior. Her no-nonsense way of going about things, the way she looks after her sister, the common sense that has been a part of her since she was a young toddler...I am often incredibly impressed and have to sometimes remind myself that regardless of how she sometimes comes across, she really is just 7 and I can't expect too much of her!
Something that has been so special to witness is the growing love she has for her little sister. Sure, they can fight like cats and dogs -- and quite often! -- but at other times, the gentle way she has with Malia is such a welcome sight. Malia may positively adore her big sister -- but Joelle loves her little sister with the same serious ferocity!
Joelle's faith is also something that has been blossoming this past year and she is often the one to suggest that we should pray about something or for someone. She is obviously listening to the things we tell her about our faith and she sometimes surprises me. It has been great to see snippits of the fact that she is making her faith her own and not just because it's the faith that her Mom and Dad have. And this spring, Joelle too asked Jesus into her heart at the same time as Malia. Again, that experience was so special to me -- and perhaps that is the reason it didn't get blogged about. Maybe I just didn't know how to put it into words to do it proper justice.
Joelle -- your personality is so sweet and special. Don't ever change who you are! Work on things that need tweaking, sure, but I want to see pieces of you as a child when you are a grown woman. I am so very proud to be your Mother, and I look forward to seeing what this next year will bring for us. You never cease to amaze me with your gifts and talents, your heart for other people and your willingness to learn new things. You may think Malia is braver than you are, but don't sell yourself short. You have more bravery inside you than you give yourself credit for. My hope is that you will realize that and use it to fulfill God's purpose that He has for your life. I love you my sweet, sweet Joelle. More than you can even imagine.