Dear Holly: You’re Really Starting to Look, and Act, Like a Little Girl

1 year, 10 months.

Dear Holly,

There are certain weeks that I especially notice how much more you look like a little girl and less of a baby who happens to be a girl.

This has been on of those particular weeks.

Now your blonde hair is beginning to quickly turn brown. It’s also finally getting a bit longer, and when we put a bow in your hair, it reveals your pretty little face.

You’re now less than 2 months away from turning 2 years-old.

Now, you walk.

You’re beginning to talk.

And this past weekend, you even decided to use the potty instead of use your diaper.

One of the reasons I write these letters to you every week is to help prevent living the cliche about kids growing up too fast.

By examining pictures of you each week and documenting my perception of what you life was like that week, it helps me to put into perspective the little things I might otherwise be overlooking.

Clearly, the theme of this week is this: Holly is really starting to look, and act like, a little girl.

I feel especially close to you in that since October, I have been working from home. So you and I spend a lot of time together. I get to see what you’re like during the day time when you used to be at school all day.

You and I have built a special bond. I understand that part of it is that you’re learning to communicate more anyway.

But still, I’m grateful that in the midst of my branch closing where I used to work, I am able to enjoy spending my hours now taking care of you; while getting work done while you’re asleep.

I know that I will always cherish this phase of our lives, where we got to spend more time together than perhaps the average father and daughter would.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: You are So Obsessed with Your Shoes, You Wear 4 of Them at a Time!

1 year, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

This morning as I held you, walking your brother across the street to where the bus stop is, you held a pair of shoes in your hands. Obviously, you were also wearing another pair of shoes on your feet as well.

On the mornings I take you to school, the same thing happens. I get you all ready to go, and you’re always so excited. You grab your lunch box and walk to the front door, but then make a quick detour for the shoe closet to pick up a 2nd pair to hold.

Yes, if guess you figure since you only have 2 feet, you might as wear a 2nd pair on your hands… in theory.

So then I load you up in the car, drive you to school, and hand you to your teacher; and the whole time, you’re holding those shoes in your hands so tightly!

I admit it’s a little bit of a challenge to pry them out of your little pink hands. Seriously, it’s just that you’re so proud of your shoes. So naturally, in your mind, wearing one pair of shoes at a time just isn’t enough!

It didn’t take long for me to understand how you became this way. All I have to do is look at your Mommy.

She is so classy, so stylish, so fashionable. Though she would never admit it, she’s on top of things when it comes to making sure our whole family looks more than simply “presentable”.

So for you, at only a year and half years old, shoes having already become a part of your identity. I think I have to give all the credit to Mommy on this one.

I think it’s possible you’re starting to realize just how adorable you are…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your “Hold Me, Daddy!” Moments

1 year, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

Getting to be a daddy to a little girl is something remarkable. For me, it has been a completely different experience in raising you at your young age, compared to your brother when he was a year and a half.

Not that raising one child is a better situation than the other; I’m not comparing the two of you in that way. But noticeably, you need me on a different level than your brother ever did at this age.

I guess there’s just no way around it- I can’t help but think of John Mayer’s song, “Daughters”, right now.

Especially when it comes to emotional and physical support, those lyrics about the importance of a father’s influence on his daughter are spot on:

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and weight of her world

I see this on a daily basis. I see how you constantly strive for my confirmation, my affection, and my attention… even though I freely give you all those things.

On a selfish level, that makes me feel good. It serves as a reminder that in all the uncertainty I face, as a man whose role it is to convince my family that I can take care of them, that I am definitely needed and doing something right.

A few weekends ago at the farm and pumpkin patch, a chicken stuck its head out through the fence and unintentionally scared you.

Immediately, you grabbed one of my arms with both of yours; holding so tightly until the chicken pulled itself back through the fence.

Perhaps to some, that’s just a simple, forgettable moment.

But not for me. That’s a “Hold me, Daddy!” moment. That is worth gold to me.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Monster Feet Slippers

1 year, 5 months.   

Dear Holly,

Grandma got you some fun bedtime slippers to wear with your pajamas. They turn your cute little feet into huge monster feet!

For the past couple of weeks, Mommy has been trying to get you wear them while she reads you a bedtime story. You have been quite skeptical, only leaving them on for a few seconds each night.

But perhaps that is changing, now that you are really getting into shoes. Even when we’re not about to go outside, you still walk over to the closet and insist on picking out a pair of shoes for me to help put on you.

It’s a normal thing for you to be playing with your toys in the living room, while wearing your pink Nike running shoes; not because you need them, but because you are a shoes girl!

I think in your mind, you’re not fully dressed until you are wearing shoes, even if you’re just hanging out at the house with us.

You are forming your identity. It’s becoming obvious that shoes are a part of who you are.

So, even if the “shoes” are actually funny monster feet during your bedtime story… you are recognizing, they are still shoes!

This past weekend you decided to go public with your monster shoes. And by public, I mean that you decided to walk out of your bedroom during story time and show your brother and me.

I’m not quite sure if you fully realize that the monster shoes are meant to be silly, but as you strolled around upstairs in them, you proudly showed them off.

Your fashion show was met by us praising you for how cute you looked in them.

Yeah, you are going to be a shoes girl… even if they turn you into a fury monster!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You are Very Serious about Riding the Electric Princess Scooter

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

I honestly don’t even know how it ended up at Nonna and Papa’s house, but what I do know is this, you’re sort of obsessed with the electric princess scooter they now have for when you visit.

Last Saturday while I was filming a video of Nonna explaining how she makes her Italian vegan soup, Mommy was outside with you; pressing the gas handle for you and helping you steer.

(video)

You loved feeling the breeze blowing through your hair. You loved being able to drive down an actual road, as opposed to the living room carpet you’re used to at our house. You loved the freedom.

Once it was time to come inside for lunch, you got very upset. Here you had just made this amazing discovery, and now you had to forsake it!

So later that day, I took you back outside to your glorious new ride. Mommy wasn’t joking when she had warned me how much you loved that electric princess scooter.

It’s funny because the thing is so small and low to the ground, yet moves pretty quickly for what it is, I had trouble keeping up with it, as I awkwardly hunched over while holding on to the gas and helped you steer.

Fortunately, you gave me a break right about the time I really started needing it. You decided you wanted to push your electric princess scooter down Nonna and Papa’s driveway. So let you.

I followed behind you, though you didn’t really need me at that point. You had it all under control.

As I watched you push the scooter, it was like seeing the equivalent of a teenage kid who gets their first car, then proudly spends time washing it, when they could be driving it.

My little girl is serious about riding! Hey, I can dig it.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Live Up to Your Middle Name, Joy

1 year.

Dear Holly,

Saturday morning our family drove a few miles down the street to Ms. Aimee’s place, for her to take your official 1 year-old photos. She was your brother’s preschool teacher when he was 4 years-old. It just so happens that her roommate, Ms. Michelle, was his teacher when he was 3 years-old. But neither of them had met you yet.

Actually, it was Ms. Aimee who helped us find the American Girl doll, which was your main birthday gift from us.

During the couple of hours we were there, both Ms. Aimee and Ms. Michelle couldn’t help but keep bringing up what a doll you are; that you literally look like a doll that has come to life; especially when someone sees you in person, as opposed to seeing a picture of you.

They also noticed how content and happy you are. You’re also expecting the best out of people and the best out of the situation. You go along with whatever we’re doing with a big smile on your face as if to say, “Oh, I’ve never done this before. This is going to be fun!”

Mommy and I didn’t give you the middle name Joy simply because we thought it was a cute name for a little girl. We chose it specifically because, as Mommy explains it, “When you think of a little girl with Joy in her name, how could she not be a delight to everyone around her?

For sure, nothing about your middle name is ironic. You are truly a joy to be around.

I love to spend time with you and take care of you, because I know you are a source of light and life.

Yeah, I have to admit: Mommy and I did a great job naming you Holly Joy.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Just Love Getting All Dressed Up and Going Places

11 months.

Dear Holly,

A couple of weekends ago, we travelled to Chattanooga for my Aunt Rosa’s wedding. Fortunately, the dress you wore at your Uncle Jake’s wedding back in October still fit just fine. Mommy waited to put it on you until we got to the parking lot of the wedding venue.

As she put the dress on you there in the front seat of the car, you smiled and giggled, knowing that whatever was ahead, it was going to be exciting.

You were so excited as we entered the civic center where knew we half of the people there. And of course, they were excited to see you. For many of them, you were just a little baby the last time they saw you; now, you’re just a few weeks ago from your 1st birthday.

Something I am quickly learning about you is that you truly love to get all dressed up and go places. It’s not that you need a lot of attention on you, but instead, you just like to be part of the action.

You are so fascinated by life.

Even this past Saturday, you treated our day of running errands as a morning of entertainment. We stopped by Sprouts to buy some groceries, then several shoe stores, then Which Which for lunch, then Kroger for more groceries, and then Ross so I can pick out part of my birthday gift.

Each and every time we lifted you out of your car seat, you treated the new parking lot like a land of opportunities. You had the biggest smile on your face as you looked around, with such optimism.

Another way of looking at it is this: you travel well.

And that’s good, because at the end of next month for Memorial Day weekend, our family will be taking your biggest road trip yet- to Pensacola, Florida.

I am confident you are going to be thrilled by the experience.

Love,

Daddy