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Letter to Madeleine

Dear Maddie:

As we get ready for our future and how it’s going to be different with a baby sister around, I thought it might be helpful for you to know where you came from. You are incredibly special and one-of-a-kind, but are definitely a product of generations stretching back for many years. Here’s what you’ve got, and from whom:

From your great-grandmother you seem to have inherited quite a lot. You love to watch birds, and your great-grandmother could tell you the name of every bird in her state by a quick glance; she even kept a bird guide by the window on the farm to look up any newcomers. She also passed on to you your love of nature and being outdoors. Your total love of reading certainly can be laid partly at her door; she encouraged my reading and often sent me books she loved just to share. But your Gamma, Grandpa, and I are big bookworms, too, so it’s a trait I’m afraid you didn’t have much hope of avoiding. I know I love reading my favorite books over and over, and so do you. Much to my dismay, when I’m not so interested in reading Pat the Bunny AGAIN.

Your enjoyment of travel seems to come from your other great-grandmother; she circled the globe several times and is always up for a new adventure, and you are definitely hooked on going new places, especially if you’re in an airplane. Speaking of airplanes, your Papa is a pilot so I blame him for your addiction to flight and speed in general.

I think your Gamma can be pointed at for your incredible imagination; I’m almost sure it’s her fault, especially as I watch the two of you play together and can’t decide which one of you is making up the more vivid stories. You two go places with a box and a beach towel that I’d never in a million years think of on my own.

Even at this young age of not yet two, you show an astonishing talent for legalism, also known as hair-splitting. This one I completely blame on Grandpa, and can’t wait until you’re old enough to tell you the tale of him and the kitchen floor. It’s a doozy.

Your soccer-playing definitely comes from your dad. Mommy’s not a real team-player kind of gal, though I’m pretty sure the coordination aspect came from me. But your dad loves to chase the ball around and you follow right in his footsteps.

Baking is a hard trait to lie at one person’s door. First, there’s that pesky great-grandmother again. She certainly enjoyed this domestic science, and taught me a lot when I’d visit. But your Gamma is queen of baking bread – I won’t even attempt to let anyone else teach you about yeast dough – and I’m going to leave it to your Nana to initiate you into making peanut butter candy. They’re both pretty fierce in their own kitchens. Then, of course, you may enjoy baking simply because it’s one of my favorite things to do and you and I do it together at least once a week. You measure a mean cup of flour, kiddo, and level it off like nobody’s business. And the amazing recipes you concoct with cheese and ketchup in your own little kitchen – watch out, Emeril.

I think the other passion in your life that is hard to isolate to one person is music. Both sides of your family come by it honestly: your dad’s family all love music and singing, and making a tape of the kids singing round the piano is not unheard-of at Christmas time. Your Nana loves to sing you songs when you visit her, and you bring them home with you and sing them by yourself, over and over. On my side of the family, your great-grandparents all enjoyed singing, and your great-grandfather would lustily belt out hymns while horseback riding through the woods. He still loves his big band music. My parents also both sing as often as possible, with Gamma having done it as a career and your Grandpa still singing out in the church choir. Then, of course, there’s your parents. Again, it was a career for both of us, and of course you hear your daddy on the mic every Sunday at church. Is it any wonder with this pedigree that you spend half your waking time walking around singing? As a side note, the instrument-playing and songwriting come purely from your dad -good luck with that- while the dancing is purely mine (as Dad will be the first to attest).

Now for the traits that are pure Maddie:

Your love of accessorizing. I’m not much of an accessory kind of girl, and honestly can’t figure out where you got this one. God bless it, though, because it makes for some awesome photos.

Your joy in walking. You love to walk everywhere, and spent several months doggedly insisting on walking miles at a time, no matter the fatigue. Thankfully you’ve gotten a bit more reasonable about it, but you still have a consistent urge to move forward and not look back. Folded in with that is a huge capacity for exploring, and seeing what else lies out there.

Your love of cold weather. Yeah, look around, kid, because you’re the only one out there with a smile on your face. The funny thing is, you HATE the wind and start to cry if it blows too much. But you scream with delight when it’s 20 degrees and we’re in the park for the second hour straight.

You, my daughter, are an amazing individual that God made uniquely and completely perfectly. You have a great laugh, you love to play jokes (thanks great-grandfather), you love to tell stories and make up songs, you can people-watch out our front window for incredibly long stretches of time, and you’ve got a memory like an elephant (definitely didn’t get that from Daddy). You’re a beautiful girl with fine blond hair that’s just starting to curl at the ends, long lovely fingers that already reach for the piano, and a belly button that cries out to be kissed. You have compassion for others, and are troubled when you hear another child cry; you are often an extrovert and look forward to seeing your best friend at the park, but also need quiet time to recharge throughout the day. You run headfirst into life, and learned from somewhere to trust that Daddy and I will be there to protect you as you dig in. Your trust in us is awesome and humbling and we pray every day to be worthy of it. Your love for us – the joy on your face when we walk in a room (most of the time), the happiness when you see us first thing in the morning, the way a snuggle and kiss from us can make most anything better – is both a weighty responsibility and the best paycheck we could ever hope to receive.

You are the perfect firstborn for us, and we’re so grateful to God for giving you to us, to be good stewards of this life he’s entrusted to us. As you continue to grow I eagerly look forward to seeing even more of past generations come out, even as I watch you become this one-of-a-kind, beautiful girl that I can still call my Baby Girl.

Here’s to the future!




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