Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Dear McKenzie,

I say it every year, and every year I mean it: I think this phase that you're going through is my favorite. Early on it was simple to understand why I loved each phase: the fire and excitement of reaching new milestones was continually being stoked and, because you're my oldest, each new milestone you reached was also a new milestone for me. A simple smile... your first giggle... crawling... walking... talking... joking... reading... thinking... how fun it's all been! Things have changed quite a bit over the past couple of years, though. 'Milestones' have become less of a topic and 'phases' seem to be taking their place. A happy phase here... a challenging phase there... a sweet phase... a helpful phase... an independent phase. My challenge has been to figure out when a new phase is beginning and to then work around it.

As we work these phases out together, I've felt the powers of my guidance over you slowly softening... your ears are starting to distinguish opinions from facts, and you recognize that a 'no' answer from me might be changeable if you present the right argument. (Carson is actually a master at this and I think you're learning from him.) I love this. I love to hear you develop your own compromises. I forget that I love it sometimes... I can get frustrated when you keep coming back with the seemingly same request... but I'm trying to remember to be patient.

I love that you're starting to recognize your talents now and are starting to settle into many of them. You love to read... at the breakfast table, as you're doing your chores, after you've been tucked into bed, as you're walking home from the bus... I'm surprised you haven't tried reading in the shower. (Please don't try reading in the shower.) When you're helpful, you're so helpful, and when you're loving, you're so loving. You are frequently trying to foster the love between your brothers and yourself. You rally your brothers around you and try to make cleaning the playroom fun for them. You remember your chores every morning without a prompt and hardly ever cut corners (even when your nose is buried in your book.) You are fun to talk to and discuss things with. You're fun to joke with, you're fun to be with. Yes, this part of your life is a favorite of mine. I enjoy, so much, watching you discover who you are.

Mood swings have made an appearance, however, and it's been interesting to watch you battle them... slamming doors, stomping feet, tearful outbursts, teasing behaviors and hurtful words have recently increased the color in our home and have given us something interesting to work with, but it's absolutely priceless when I watch you try to work it out in yourself. I've been told by the pediatritian that the hormones start at around age 8. We're seeing them...

One morning you woke up crabby. You went along the morning with a scowl on your face and couldn't help but menacingly tease anyone that happened to cross your path. There were lots of tears from all three of you, and we could trace the tears, almost exclusively, back to you. You were eventually sent to your room with the task to read for a while until you felt like you were happy enough to join the rest of the family. You came out a half an hour later and it was unclear from your facial expression whether or not your mood had changed, but we welcomed you back into the family life with happy smiles and open arms. Soon, you were helping me unload the dishwasher, and then skipped downstairs to help the boys clean the playroom. I heard laughter and happiness while you were down there and once it was clean you skipped back up the stairs and said, "What else can I do to help, Mom?" Before I could check myself, my shocked response came flying out of my mouth.
You smiled. "Yeah. I guess I've turned back into my helpful side."
"How did you do it?"
"I don't know. But I'm gonna try to do it again next time I'm on my angry side."
See? I love this. I get it... I so get it.

Your birthday this year will probably dance around in my memory forever. You were so beautiful. You stood proud and tall in your beautiful white dress... but I think the greatest beauty came shining through your eyes. Such happy eyes.

You were thrilled with your gifts this year,

and that made me happy. The scriptures have been used nightly, and we've had such fun with the recipe box filled with recipes you can make yourself:

I see lots of cooking in our future.

I love you, Kenz! Thanks for making my life so completely wonderful.



  1. What a beautiful, wonderful child you've got there. I loved this post because I've really been struggling lately with the idea of Max getting older (he starts kindergarten this fall). I've been feeling so sad that I'm losing this sort of exclusivity with him and the innocence that goes with him growing up. Your post made me realize that every phase has its perks, that having older children can be still as fun as these early years have been. My relationship may change with him may change (maybe evolve is a better word), but it's something to enjoy. Like when you mentioned phases instead of milestones. It's just different. I hope I'm making sense. Kids truly are a miracle to watch, aren't they?

    I love your blog. You are such a good example of motherhood to me.

  2. Man, I miss you guys. This is such a beautiful post.

  3. Anonymous7:59 PM

    I can't believe she is 8. I can't believe that in a year we will be getting ready to baptize our Kenzie. It just seems like yesterday, I was engaged and we came to your house to see you and your baby. Now look at her, 8 years later. Congratulations.