4.20.2014

Dear Evangeline (10 months)

Dearest Evangeline,

Happy ten months, dear!  And a joyous Easter Sunday!  As Mom and Esther K. practiced music for the Easter service this week, you joined along in singing and dancing in your highchair.  It was adorable.  You are such a delight, Eva-doll.  We pray that you will have many years to join with us in the Easter celebration of Jesus' risen life.  He is Risen!  And through Him, you may also live!

This month's biggest development for you was giving up your third nap.  It took a week or so, but you finally shifted your remaining two naps a bit further apart (for which we are grately thankful), and we love the extra wake-time hours we have with you.  You now prefer to take naps in your bed, and we think that you're going through such a huge develpmental leap right now, that you're really struggling to let your mind and body rest and sleep.  Once you give in, you sleep really well.  But we've had a bit more of a struggle the last couple weeks in getting you to fall asleep.  It is pitifully cute how you just want to play and talk.

You are measuring 72 cm in length (about 28.3 inches, 55th percentile) and weighing 8.9 kg (19.6lbs, 50th percentile).  You scoot around quite a bit, but you still haven't ventured into true crawling.  Most attempts (mistaken or intentional) end in face-plants and pouty faces.  You still have quick hands!  You were able to capture Mom's coffee mug at a cafe this past month, and although it created quite a scarey scene (and a soaked Mom), you recovered from the incident within minutes without any injuries.  We are thankful!  You are really into taking things apart right now--unstacking books and toys, emptying baskets, moving piles of laundry, or messing with your brother's toys.  You love reading books, especially now that you're awake for longer periods during the day. 

You seem to love almost any food we give you now.  You're pretty good about eating finger foods and getting most of it in your mouth, but we still mostly spoon-feed you for the convenience.  You ventured into various meats and spices this month, and you seem to enjoy them all.  No teeth yet, but that is no surprise to us as your brother's were also late coming in.

You still prefer to say "Dada" and say it constantly with a very rare utterance of "Mama."  You are attempting some sign language, though it's not quite accurate yet.  You love to give high fives and are getting close to clapping.  You laugh a lot, especially in response to your brother, and love playing peek-a-boo games with all of us.  You have allowed a few people to hold you, other than Mom and Dad.  But in general, you are right in the middle of intense stranger anxiety.  Otherwise, you are a very content and flexible little girl.

This month our family finally visited Kurpark Oberlaa, and we had a splendid time together.  You absolutely loved swinging with Dad and giggled so loudly every time the swing moved towards him!  You got to sit in and feel grass, watch your brother throw a Frisbee, and observe sheep and goats.

We are so delighted by you, dear, sweet Evangeline.  We are thankful for the gift of you and love you, dearly!  Happy ten-month birthday!

Lovingly,
your daddy and mommy

Evangeline Elif - 10 month old
 

3.20.2014

Dear Evangeline (9 months)

Dearest Evangeline,

Happy nine months, dear!  What a month of expression this has been for you!  Your sparkling personality has come out more and more every day, and we greatly delight in seeing the unique person God has created you to be.

This month has brought wonderful, Spring weather to Vienna, and that means lots of fun outdoors!  You've gone down a slide, played on the see-saw with your brother, played in the sandbox, and spent many hours watching outdoor activity.  We've taken walks together and brought you along on many outings, and you rarely complain.  We even had a three-day conference at Puchberg am Schneeberg, and you handled the train travel and hotel room without any issues.  We were amazed!

You've seemed to enjoy trying more "grown-up" food.  Baked and cheesy mashed potato, cottage cheese, lentil soup, cheddar and Gouda cheeses, carrot soup, chicken, beef stew...plus venturing more into finger foods and self-feeding.  (What a mess!)  But I think your absolute favorite part about finger foods is sitting at the table and eating dinner with us.  You are so distracted by smiling at and expressing your joy to each one of us that it seems you barely eat anything.  Our dinners are full of much laughter with you at the table.

You are measuring at 70-71cm in length (about 27.75 inches, 60th percentile) and weighing in the same as last month at 8.6kg (19 lbs, 55th percentile).  It feels so strange to already be dressing you in one-year clothes; you are growing up too quickly! :)  You are finally content on your tummy for long periods of time and have discovered that you can scoot really well on your tummy (mostly just backwards) and get to almost anything.  You've scooted forward a bit and it has almost looked like crawling. But so far, it hasn't stuck like the scooting backwards.  You have begun using toys as tools to reach other objects, and you've recently taken an interest in exploring books on your own with your eyes and hands instead of only your mouth.  You remain a great, long night sleeper, with the occasional interruption now and then (usually your brother), and you're still stubbornly sticking to three daytime naps, though the final nap keeps shrinking.

You love playing Peek-a-boo, have finally added "Mama" to your preferred and constant babbling of "Dada," and have shown a little interest in attempting some of the baby sign language we're teaching you.  You love to make a funny almost-growling-sound from the back of your throat, and it makes us laugh every time.  Your babbles are beginning to sound more like words each day.  You give out lots of smiles and giggles and love to offer Dad and Mom your open-mouth, slobbery kisses.  You laugh with a sweet sparkle in your eyes, and you are a great delight to the three of us!

We love you, dear Eva-doll!  Happy nine-month birthday!

Lovingly,
your daddy and mommy


Evangeline Elif - 9 month old
 (At this age, getting one good picture of Nathanael seemed almost impossible, due to his activity level.  Every single picture I took of this girl today turned out marvelously.  What a different child!)



2.20.2014

Dear Evangeline (8 months)

Our dearest Eva-doll,

Happy eight months!  Oh what joy and delight you bring to our family.  We thank God for you each and every day, sweetheart.  You are beautifully and wonderfully made, and we love you dearly.

Daddy frequently comments, "What a gem!"  And it is true, dearest.  You are a treasure.  We love your sweet personality and gentle temperament, your sparkling smiles and dainty giggles.  When we pick you up and you hold onto us so tightly, we almost never want to put you down.  What a sweetheart you are!  Even your brother will hold still for a few minutes in order to hold you or sit with you or allow you to explore his face with your hands!

Your height/length hasn't changed much this month, still measuring around 69cm (27.25in, 55th percentile), but you've gained quite a bit of healthy weight, now weighing 8.6kg (almost 19 pounds, 70th percentile)!  You are still taking (and needing) three naps a day.  You sleep amazing well at night, and you have been waking up happy for most of the month, despite continuous colds!  You prefer to sit now and often protest when we lay you on your back.  That said, you wiggle around so much that you often end up on your back, and then you don't seem to mind it.  You still show almost no interest in turning over, though you can do it.  You've lunged forward a few times when you've been on your tummy, and you love to move and exercise your legs.  You have wonder-arms and can stretch and reach things I am convinced are out of your reach!

You love toys that rattle when you shake them, and we often find you holding two toys, hitting them together to make noise.  You adore book time, and you're turning pages on your own now.  You are developing so quickly in communicating.  You respond to our waving by waving back (with a huge smile) and have even begun initiating "hello" waves.  You have signed "more" a few times when eating.  You are familiar with games we frequently play with you, and you express your pleasure with smiles and giggles.  You love sitting across from your brother at the dinner table.  You watch him and smile at him and delight in him when he looks at you and is silly with you.  You love to talk to him and try to imitate his silly sounds.

You can successfully eat a few Cheerios, though it takes quite a bit of effort.  You are able to drink water from a sippy cup, but you still refuse to take milk from a bottle or sippy cup.  You've begun to eat yoghurt and love it.  And you've also ventured a bit into bread, and you seem fascinated.

You remain an incredibly easy-going, flexible, transportable baby.  And it seems to be a bit of your personality combined with being a second child.  We are thankful that we can take you with us on outings and visits and appointments, and you provide us so much joy!

We love you, dear Eva Elif!  Happy eight-month birthday!

Lovingly,
your daddy and mommy

Evangeline Elif - 8 month old
 And a few more...

Waving!
 She's usually either talking or has a toy in her mouth.
 Talking!
 She spotted a toy on the floor that she wanted, and I almost expect her arms to reach it! ;)

1.20.2014

Dear Evangeline (7 months)

Dearest Evangeline,

Happy seven months, dear child!  We thank God for your life and the gift you are to our family.  You are a treasure, dearly loved, cherished and adored.

As this past month has seemed to bring out more and more of your personality, I wanted to share some of what we have observed about you at this age.  I am so curious to see how God develops you as you grow and mature.

You are an incredibly content and pleasant little girl who absolutely loves to cuddle.  You can endure a lot and be stretched a long time as long as we're holding you, which actually makes you quite adaptable at this age.  You respond to our smiles immediately with a sweet smile of your own, but we have to work much harder for your giggles.  Oh, but when you do (especially when we kiss your neck), the sweet little laugh melts our hearts!  You are quite responsive, calming quickly in our arms or with us near.  You like to observe your surroundings, especially if you may do so without being the object of attention to people you don't know.  Stranger anxiety is definitely a big theme right now.  You are sensitive and somewhat unpredictable, more so than your brother was, at least.  You are especially sensitive to sporadic loud noises or simply too much activity or too many people when you're tired.  The only exception to this seems to be your brother.  You are fascinated with him, even when you're tired or upset.

You have begun making known your likes and dislikes this past month.  For example, you are not thrilled when you can't reach a toy you want or your brother takes a toy from you.  And because you can clearly reach out for items, it's fairly easy to read your likes as well.  You often tense your body and kick your legs when you're really excited, such as when we come to you with a book to read or come to you after you wake from sleeping.  We love to see your delight, dearest!

Naptimes were somewhat of an unpredictable struggle this past month, possibly due to illness, or perhaps all the activity due to visitors, or maybe it was just a phase.  But the past few days, you seem to have suddenly decided you would grow up and accept your naps again with little to no protesting!  We are thrilled with this change.  You have also finally been sleeping unswaddled, and consequently you are entertaining yourself longer and better in your crib when you wake.  We often find you facing different directions or playing with your feet on the bars when we enter your room.  You still hold to your three-naps-a-day schedule.

Your physical growth has been steady this month.  You are measuring 69cm (27.25in, 75-80th percentile) and 7.75 kg (17lbs, 50-55th percentile). You finally rolled over a few times in the last week, though you appear to be completely uninterested in continuing doing so.  And each day you become more and more stable sitting on your own.  You spend quite a bit of time playing with toys in your highchair or sitting in a laundry basket.  You are bathing in the big bathtub, and you are fascinated with splashing the water with your feet, though not a fan of how all the toys you reach for float away.  You are eating three "table meals" and nursing four times a day.  Your new favorite foods are mango and dinkel grain flakes, though you still adore avocado, oatmeal, sweet potato, green beans, and peas.  Pears have finally grown on you, but the new "too sweet" fruit for you is banana.  You barely put up with it.

This past month brought your Opa and Oma to Vienna for their first visit!  It was absolutely wonderful to watch you bond with them, especially sharing your smiles with them every day.  Uncle Andrew and Auntie Angie joined us for Christmas and New Year's as well, their second time to see you, and you especially loved reading in Angie's arms.  We are so thankful for family visits and for the ability to stay closely connected in the in-between-times through Skype!

Dearest daughter, we love you greatly.  We pray for you every day, that God would bring about new life in you, even at a young age, that you may know early on the joy of walking daily with Jesus, covered by His grace and led in His love.

Happy seven-month birthday!

Lovingly,
your daddy and mommy

Evangeline Elif - 7 month old

12.20.2013

Dear Evangeline (6 months)

Dearest Evangeline,

What a big month you have had!  You have grown and changed so much this past month.  You are weighing in around 7.4 kg (16.3 pounds, around the 60th percentile) and somewhere around 67.5 cm in length (about 26.5 inches, around the 80th percentile).  You managed to get over a long cold and amazingly went right back to your regular routine of three 1-1.5 hour naps, falling asleep contentedly on your own.  But that only lasted about a week before you had a growth spurt both physically and cognitively!  All of a sudden, you gained a new level of alertness, and it has been so much fun to watch you take in and interact more with your surroundings.  It has meant that you're much less predictable now in your willingness to go to sleep without fussing.  Sometimes you simply turn your head to the side and fall asleep in seconds after we lay you in bed, and other times you look at us with a sad pout and cry for a few minutes before giving up and falling asleep.  Oftentimes, you let out cute little moans and grunts before falling asleep, the beginnings of "singing yourself to sleep," just like your brother used to do!  We are constantly surprised by the differences and similarities between you and your brother at this age.

Speaking of Nathanael, you two are both quite amazing at sleeping through each other's antics.  I wonder at your abilities to simply fall back asleep when either of you cough or sneeze or talk or cry.  You both really seem to enjoy sharing a room.  And you continue to love watching Nathanael play.  Though you still have not yet rolled over, you have come quite close to doing so when trying to see what Nathanael's up to.

This month has included the introduction of solid foods!  You were quite funny to watch at the beginning, doing the typical, "spit more out then swallow" thing.  But you got the hang of it after a couple weeks, and now you're beginning to communicate which foods you prefer.  Surprisingly, your current favorite purees are peas, green beans, avocado, and sweet potato.  Pears were atrocious to you at first, but I think you're slowly warming up to them.  You love to blow raspberries when you're eating, which is quite a funny and messy site!  You drank a bit from a sippy cup this month, but that is definitely a skill we'll work on over the next couple months.  You end up soaking your shirt with all that you don't swallow!  You continue to nurse well four times a day and eat three tiny meals of solid foods.

Grandpa and Grandma visited us for nine days this month!  You were in the middle of your growth spurt when they arrived, and the combination of not knowing them well and being exhausted from lack of sleep meant that you took a few hours to warm up to them.  But then you showered them with smiles and grins and coos and raspberries, to their delight!  They spent an evening alone with you and Nathanael to allow Dad and Mom a date night, and you simply refused to drink from the bottle at bedtime.  (Can we blame you?!  It'd been over five months since you last did that!)  Apparently, after a bit of frustration as you played with the bottle with your tongue, you then found it quite pleasant to watch Grandpa and Grandma try to get some nourishment in you.  It sounds like you were all entertained by the challenge!

You still love to suck your tongue, but sometimes you do so with your tongue sticking out halfway.  It is hilarious to watch!  You love to smile and exchange smiles generously with people you know.  You continue to be an amazingly content and flexible and patient baby.  If you're tired, you often need to be held, but then you're able to quietly and contentedly endure quite a bit of disruption and waiting.  What a blessing to us as we continue to struggle to adjust to this different culture and language while also caring for an energetic three-year-old boy.  We see your gentle personality as a gift from God to us.

Dearest daughter, our lives are overflowing with joy and blessing through the gift of you!  God is so loving and generous, and we thank Him for each day we have with you.  We pray daily that you will know Him as your heavenly Father, your Love, your Life.  We love you dearly, Evangeline Elif. Happy half birthday!

Lovingly,
your daddy and mommy

Evangeline Elif - 6 month old
 And a few more photos that amazingly capture the complexities of Eva's 6-month-old personality:



11.20.2013

Dear Evangeline (5 months)

Dearest Evangeline,

As I write you this letter, you are on day ten of a strong viral infection.  Your poor little body has sustained a fever for so many days, and your immune system just can't seem to push this virus out.  As pitiful and sad it is to see you sick, you are just as adorable as ever.  You aren't able to sleep anywhere during the day except for wrapped tightly to Dad or Mom.  And although it is exhausting to have to hold you during naptimes, I know we will miss this special role of holding you near and comforting you during the day.  With this cold, you're a bit off in everything, so I'll write about your developments during the first three weeks of this month.  We're still amazed at how content you are during wakeful times, even sick!  You are one content little baby girl!

Your most notable development this past month was giving up your middle-of-the-night feeding.  You simply gave it up one night, unexpectedly, and only needed it once more before settling into over three weeks of sleeping through the night for 12-13 hours!  Unbelievable!  You seem quite content on a nursing schedule consisting of three meals and an afternoon and bedtime snack.  You continued the three-nap schedule you settled into last month, usually two 1-2 hour naps and a short nap just before dinner.  You became more and more content falling asleep on your own, so much so that it just took a few seconds of fussing for you to fall asleep after being placed in your crib.  You were waking up happy and talkative and content.  I am hopeful and hesitantly expectant that you will fall back into this pleasant routine a couple weeks after you regain your health.

You've been very proud of yourself for discovering how to blow raspberries (making bubbling sounds with your lips and tongue), and it's often the first thing you do when seeing our faces after waking up from a nap.  You have actually been talking less this month, I think because you gave up on trying to suck your fingers and have settled into sucking on your tongue instead.  It's quite funny to watch as you have a somewhat sour expression when doing so.  Sometimes when we our trying to make you smile, you keep sucking your tongue and only smile with your eyes.  It's a very unique and endearing Eva expression.  People that don't know you might think you often look sad, but we know you, dear, and we know it means you're content.

You and your brother have been interacting even more this month.  He likes to help take care of you and is actually quite remarkable at calming you, having watched and learned from us.  You respond to him immediately and love to watch him playing nearby.  We've introduced you to "Trot, trot to Boston," and it seems to be a favorite of yours.  Nathanael likes to join in and energetically act it out as well.

You are weighing in around 6.9 kg (a bit over 15 pounds, around the 60th percentile) and somewhere around 66.5 cm in length (about 26.25 inches, around the 90th percentile).  And praise God, we were able to get rid of your hip brace two days ago!  We had hoped to get rid of it four weeks ago, but an X-ray showed need for further improvement, so we continued on until receiving the wonderful news this week.  Although your physical development this past month was quite limited, you love to hold your legs up as high as you can reach them in the air and then often throw them back down with a big smile.  This is quite funny in the bathtub, as you still aren't sure what you think of the splashing sensation.  And you have become a little wiggler on the changing pad.  You have learned how to push with your feet to lift up your bottom and back, which makes you mobile!  You're our little crab!

You've definitely exhibited a bit of stranger anxiety in a few settings this month, but we are so excited to introduce you to your Opa and Oma in person over Christmas as well as see you continue bonding with Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle Andrew, and Auntie Angie!  Exciting family visits ahead!

Dearest daughter, as we pray for you each day, we ask that God will redeem your heart in need of Him.  We pray that your sweet spirit as a baby would only mean that your heart would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading to convict you of your sin and lead you to Jesus.  We pray that you would know the peace of Christ which surpasses understanding, and as your name signifies, that the Gospel will be proclaimed through your life lived with Jesus.  We love you dearly, Evangeline Elif.  Happy five-month birthday!

Lovingly,
your daddy and mommy

Evangeline Elif - 5 month old
And three more pictures with typical Eva expressions:

10.20.2013

Dear Evangeline (4 months)

Dear, sweet Eva-doll,

A four month old! How can it be?!  We are so thankful for you, darling, and we love watching how God grows you each month!  The last week, especially, has seemed to bring something new each day.  What a delight you are to our family!  It is becoming a daily occurrence that the three of us gather around you to admire you and enjoy your smiles and vibrant vocalizations.  You are our pleasant, little, cuddly princess!

The past month was quite a roller-coaster for you in terms of experiences and developments.  You have transitioned into longer periods of wakefulness during the day, and it seems your sleep has matured quite a bit as well.  The latter took a couple weeks of chaos for you to adjust, but now, thankfully, you seem to be settling into a routine of three naps and a long, 12-13 hour night.  You have been experimenting a lot this past week with your voice, and it's hilarious to listen to you "talk" to anyone who will listen.  You are definitely more talkative than your brother was at this age!  You're mixing many vowels and consonants, rolling your r's from the back of your throat, and seeing how loud you can be at points.

You are weighing in at 6.8 kg (almost 15 pounds, around the 80th percentile) and somewhere over 63 cm in length (about 25 inches, around the 75th percentile).  You nurse on average five times during the day and once at night, though you are not terribly consistent with all of that yet.  You are still wearing your brace, but we're hopeful that you'll be finished with it next week!  Though you don't seem to mind it too much, you are definitely quite the wiggleworm when you have a few minutes of "freedom" to stretch and move your legs uninhibited.  You have tried to pull your body up to sit a few times, obviously nowhere close to doing so, but it's fun to watch you try.

You are thrilled about your new abilities to hold and grip items and manipulate things with your hands.  You absolutely love to hold cloth material, and you have a few favorite toys -- a couple rattles and some sphere-shaped malleable contraptions of wood and plastic.  You also have begun reaching out for items and people and holding onto our arms and shoulders when we hold you!  Of course, everything must be explored with your mouth!  You haven't successfully sucked on your fingers yet, but your fist is a favorite.  And it appears that you prefer to suck on your own tongue when you are tired and about to fall asleep!  It's quite cute to watch.

With your sleep maturing this past week, you've actually woken up happy a couple times!  Whether happy or not, the moment you see our faces, yours lights up with pleasure.  You seem to have become accustomed to falling asleep on your own now, whether at naptimes or after waking in the middle of the night to talk for a few minutes or eat.  In fact, it is getting a little more difficult to take you out in the pram between naps as you are quite quick to fall asleep in it!  You've come a long way from refusing to sleep in a stroller!  You love to be outside, to lie under a tree and observe the leaves and the sky, and we even captured a few pictures of you lying in a pile of leaves this month!

Most notable experience this past month was a family vacation to the beach resort town of Side, Turkey.  You traveled quite well (you love being carried around all day when we travel), and you had no issues adjusting to sleeping at the hotel and sharing a room there with your brother.  You even took a brief nap on the beach each afternoon!  You stuck your feet in the Mediterranean, which you did not like, and you spent most of the vacation charming the hotel staff and us with your sweet smiles.  The Turkish staff especially loved to greet our little "Elif" (and big brother "Alim") at every meal. 

Your brother loves sharing a room with you, and you have impressed us with your ability to sleep through his loud whispers, calling out to us, sneezes, coughs, and even singing and clapping! You absolutely love to watch him play and talk, and he loves to bring you toys, hold you in his lap, feel how heavy your dirty diapers are (haha!), and "read" books to you.  We have often wished family were closer so that they could observe and delight in your daily developments, but we have been so thankful for Skype and the opportunity to stay connected so easily.

You are a treasure, dearest.  We are thankful for who you are, the sweet little girl whom God has made you to be thus far.  Happy four-month birthday!

Lovingly,
your daddy and mommy

Evangeline Elif - 4 month old
 Sheer delight! (presumably because she's able to stretch her legs?!)
 
Talking, talking, talking
And one last one for a good size comparison