Dear Ellie: Happy 3rd Birthday!

by Camille on April 15, 2014

So last year, I wrote you this lengthy post full of sappy love and discussed in detail how you’re just really an overachiever on this whole growing up thing. I must report that this year has seen no improvement. You seem bound and determined to skip from 3 to 30 at light speed, and we’re just trying to keep up. So here’s a peek into your interpretation of THREE:


Weight: 32 lbs (A gain of 4 lbs)

Height: 38 inches (A gain of 4 inches)

Your growth seems to be leveling off a bit, but you are still one of the tallest among your peers. Dr. Benaim reports that despite your slight weight gain, you are on a normal growth curve. She also remarked on your obvious intelligence, which I’m sure she does not say to all the parents.



You have grown exponentially in this area, and as an educator and language lover, watching your development here has been one of my greatest joys as a parent. Seemingly overnight, you moved from naming objects with one word and a pointing, chubby finger to your current lexicon. Thus, I present a little peak into a day spent chatting with you.

“Mama! I up. I wanna watch Daniel Tiguh. I wan cottage cheese! Big cottage cheese. Blow my nose mama. Hehp me peese! I needta go pee pee. Come wid me! I wan waater. I want my COTTAGE CHEESE! It’s YUMMY in my tummy! Just a minute? Okay! I needa napkin! Gimme a napkin! ……I sorree. Peese gimme a napkin. And I want some, I want some, some ceeeweal. And yogut. And cheese! I want BIG cheese! “

“Mama! I wanna go to the chiwen’s moosem. We go the chiwen’s moosem? We go the zoo?  I wanna go to the zoo and see the aminals! The bears not seeping. The ewephants not seeping! Let’s go the zoo! Mama! I wanna go somewhere NOW. We see my fwens? I see Natawie and Bwandon? Noah? Baby Hannah? Sam? I wanna, I wanna, I wanna go play at the pahk and go down the swide weel fast! I wanna see Nana. I go to the camp and see the woostuh? Where Daddy? Daddy not here? Daddy at work? I wanna wide the twactor with Daddy! I wide it all day!”


 I don’t wanna do my hair. No, no, NO! I get candy you do my hair? I wanna sucker. A big sucker. So pwetty! I so pwetty Mama!”


“I wanna wear my jammies. Okay! I wear my pwincess dwess. Not those shoes!


“Mama! Shhhh! Baby (doll) is seeping. That not your room. Baby SEEPING in there! Turn the light off! Shhhhh. I put baby to bed.”

“Chapsdick! Where is my chapsdick? I can’t find my chapsdick. Wipstick? I want your wipstick.” (In a pinch, you’ll settle for mascara, paint, ointment, or anything else that can be smeared on your face.)


“Mama! The doctor is IN! You sick. Lay down now. You reawy sick. I make you awww better!”

“Mama! I no take a nap! No west! I not sweepy! NO!!!”

“Mama! I hehp you cook dinner! I hehp. I stir da food, and I taste. Just a wiiiiddle bite, okay? It’s okay Mama, I just take a widdle bite. Just one, three bites….all done!”

“Mama! Sit by me! You my fwen. You my best fwen. I wuv you THIIIIIS MUCH! I wuv you to the sky.”

Yes, pretty much all  your words start with a loud and abrupt noun of address to ensure you’ve got my complete attention, and much of the day is filled with commands and endless requests. However, you’re already a champion at knowing which words melt mama’s heart, and in my mind, one widdle “I wuv you” rivals the most intricately crafted love poems ever written.


Your Favorites

Television/Movies: Daniel Tiger, Doc McStuffins, Thomas the Train, and Frozen (Obviously.)

Songs (favorites as in, you know all the words and sing them all day long. Loudly): “Let It Go”, from Frozen, which I hear no less than a dozen times a day. Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee, Old McDonald, ABCs, the Barney song, and most other traditional toddler selections.

Of course, you spend a lot of time listening to music with your older sister, who was kind enough to create an “Ellie-approved” playlist  on her phone. And honestly, Mama can only take so much of Old McDonald. Thus, you’re also well-versed in P!nk, Fun, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift among others. Listening to you belt “Truhble, truhble, truhble…” from the backseat is kinda hilarious.

Toys: You’re still really into baby dolls, and as I noted above, you have no issues with kicking me out of my bedroom because your babies are napping in my bed. You’ve also added dress-up clothes/shoes/jewelry, play-doh, and a variety of riding toys to your favorites this year. Of course, being outside trumps all else, and you especially love your new playhouse.



Technology: Ah, my little narcissist. You like nothing more than scrolling through videos and pictures of yourself, over and over and over. You also have regular conversations with Talking Carl on the iPad; it’s just precious when you provide that high-pitched scream for him to repeat. You also have started showing a lot of interest in the Interactive Alphabet and Park Math.

Foods: In case you missed it, cottage cheese! Also, spinach, carrots, kale, squash—wait, what? Sorry. I started fantasizing again.  Really, it’s ice cream, suckers, cupcakes, chips, cookies, noodles, chicken tenders, hot wings, and Ketchup. So yeah, you’re a typical American kid there. Of course, we try to limit these things and push the fruits and veggies, but you are becoming more and more talented at picking out the tiniest particles containing actual nutritional value and replacing them with ketchup. Or a request for more cheese. Mama is having to get really creative and approach dinner in a super-stealth mode. <Cue Mission Impossible theme here.>




Chapstick: In the past few months, we have purchased enough Chapstick to ensure smooth lips for the entire population of Iceland in winter. There are empty Chapstick tubes wedged your carseat, behind the crib, under the couch, in random drawers…everywhere. Night or day, there’s rarely a moment where your fist isn’t closed around a tube, and you reapply liberally. We took away your pacifier last year, and you promptly replaced it. You showed us. I actually asked the doctor if you’d get sick from ingesting so much of the cherry-flavored wax, but she assures me you’ll grow out of it. As it’s not really hurting anything, we’ve decided to let you keep the lip balm for now as it seems to help you calm down in times of stress. In the meantime, you give extremely moisturized kisses.

The Cat: For Christmas, your big sister got a cat, Bipsy. You spend much of your day LOVING the cat. You show your unparalleled adoration by hauling the cat around like a rag doll, putting her in your baby stroller, wrestling her, checking her teeth, chasing her, dragging her from under furniture by a paw or tail, and throwing her in the toilet. As you might imagine, she completely adores you. Or something like that. In any case, Mama is extremely grateful for the cat, for as any other self-respecting member of the feline community likely would have rearranged your face by now, Bipsy meets you with stolid resignation rather than gnashing (or sinking) of teeth.


And really, you don’t discriminate. You adore all cats equally.

Changing clothes: Too much! Enough with the fifteen daily wardrobe changes. Every time I turn around, you have stripped off one outfit in exchange for another, leaving your room in a clothing-covered state of disaster. It’s as though you’ve decided not to hurt the feelings of any of your clothes by making sure to wear ALL of them for at least five minutes a day. Your favorites remain a purple princess dress, and of course, pajamas.





Painting your nails and putting on makeup. 



Free hair: You used to let me experiment with your hair, and we did things like this:



Then one day (about the time you started singing “Let It Go”…hmmm…) you decided that hair bows, clips, and rubber bands were like hot coals on your head and can no longer be tolerated. You actually scream, “I WANT my hair IN my face!”


And by God, hair with that much sheer awesomeness should be allowed freedom! Sadly, keeping those curls appropriately conditioned and combed was nearing the 45-minute mark, and since you allow me about 45 seconds to do your hair, we needed a solution.

Thus, I took you to get your hair cut.


Your hair is free, but also NOT in your face. (Mom for the win!)


Of course, you’re still a HUGE fan of

the Zoo



the Children’s Museum (which added a splash park this year)









And recently, you’ve added to your “coolest thing EVER” list: 

Your new cousin, Baby Kinley:


Riding the tractor with your daddy: He hops on the tractor, and you literally bolt toward him. 20 degrees? No problem. Raining? Bring it on. You are a true farm girl, and rather than a white steed, your prince will no doubt need to show up on a bright orange Kubota. Maybe a John Deere.


Going Potty: Without a doubt, we are insanely blessed in this area. You are a potty champion. We tried just after you turned two, but after a little incident, we decided you were not quite ready. However, by late summer of last year, you were again showing interest. Honestly, I was hesitating a bit, but your Nana decided it was time, and you came home from a weekend visit from her house determined to use the potty. Unfortunately, we left on an 8-hour drive to the beach the next day, which complicated things a bit.

In any case, by the end of a week, you had it down. When you figured out that we’d give you cookies or jelly beans for going to the potty, you were sold. Since that initial week or two, you’ve had exactly one accident, and that was while sleeping. We kept you in pull-ups for a few weeks, but since you always woke up dry, we moved to panties by late August. Now, I never even remember to ask you if you need to go to the potty as you always tell me when you need to go.

Gymnastics: When I observed you flipping onto the couch like this,

I decided we’d better provide some structured focus for your talents. Thus, we enrolled you in classes at RiverCity Gymnastics. You are a natural! Completely fearless, you’re showing an impressive affinity for the balance beam and tumbling. And of course, you adore the “costume.”


Sure, you’ve had some challenges this year as well. You smacked your head into the dog’s porcelain bowl, resulting in a trip to the emergency room and your first stitches.


You’ve also decided that you’re too old for a regular nap, and it’s just precious. We remain in rather tense negotiations about this one.


As you get older, you also want more and more independence, which leaves your father and me struggling to keep you safe while allowing you to explore and learn. We want desperately to be the best parents we can possibly be to you, but no doubt, we make mistakes every day. We lose our patience. We grow weary. Sometimes, we choose easy fixes over the more time-consuming requirements of true connection. (This very morning, we may or may not have chunked an iPhone into your bed to buy 10 more minutes of sleep.)

But no matter our mistakes, we know that God is sovereign in your life and that He has amazing plans for you. We love you more than we knew it was possible to love, and we will continue to strive to learn and grow as your parents. Thank you for helping us notice the beauty in small things. Thank you for an excuse to sit and cuddle. Sweet girl, we’re in awe each day of how quickly you learn. We watch in wonder as your personality develops depth and intricacy.  With pride, we watch you tackle life with determination, vigor, and laughter.


We LOVE you, and we can’t wait for every moment of the coming year with you.









By now, you’re most likely aware of the World Vision hiring practice controversy. But just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, here’s a recap:

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 5.18.35 PM


Image Source

- March 24: Christianity Today publishes an article detailing how World Vision’s American branch, one of the world’s largest Christian charities, will now allow for the hiring of gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages.

- World Vision U.S. President Richard Stearns explains the decision isn’t an endorsement of gay marriage or a renouncing of traditional marriage, but a recognition of the different beliefs and practices within the Christian community and an attempt at unity in serving the poor.

“In short, World Vision hopes to dodge the division currently “tearing churches apart” over same-sex relationships by solidifying its long-held philosophy as a parachurch organization: to defer to churches and denominations on theological issues, so that it can focus on uniting Christians around serving the poor.”

- March 24-25: Evangelical Christians unite in losing their collective shit and transform into menacing playground bullies reminiscent of this guy.


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- Thousands of “Christians” cancel sponsorships to needy children in third-world countries, because apparently God is much more disturbed by a gay secretary working at World Vision than he is about starving, sick, or trafficked children.

- March 26: World Vision, pummeled into submission in the corner of the playground, revokes their decision, begs forgiveness, and promises to walk the evangelical party-line.

- LGBT folks and their supporters go punch pillows, pour glasses of wine, and cry out to God in frustration and sadness.

I have a whole mess of thoughts, so in no particular order, here ya go:

To LGBT folks: 

I’m so sorry. When World Vision made the initial decision, I know many of you were encouraged. It seemed like a tiny but positive step in the right direction from the Christian culture that so often seems hell-bent on keeping you out. You got invited to the table, and then promptly had the door slammed in your face. Some of you, excited at the invitation, even put in applications to work. Now, you feel hurt and betrayed, and you have every right. I pray at times like this that you can separate Christ from the often hateful actions of Christians. I pray you know the God who created you continues to crazy love you, value you, and find joy in you….just as you are. Please don’t stop fighting for change, and let those of us who love you know how to help.

To World Vision: 

My first thoughts were something along the lines of “Where are your balls?!” Sorry. Unproductive, I know. But surely after the controversies resulting from Oreos, Chick-fil-a, scouts, and more, you had to expect some serious backlash. Did you adequately prepare your public relations department? Did you plan financially for the almost guaranteed repercussions? I admire your attempt, but so many have been deeply hurt by your quick reversal…your unwillingness to stand behind your initial convictions in the face of controversy. It’s not that I don’t understand; another blogger said you basically had a gun held to your head, and I’m sure as thousands of sponsorship cancellations poured in, you decided to admit defeat with your overarching goal being to fight poverty and injustice. I don’t doubt your commitment to the world’s poor and making a positive difference, but guys, you let the bullies win this one, and the thing about bullies is that they just keep coming. What will the battle be next time?

Also, maybe you could have had just a little more faith here? I’m going to assume you didn’t make the decision on policy change lightly. I’m going to assume there were numerous discussions and prayers, and no doubt, many on your board supported the decision. Thus, if you moved forward believing you were doing the right thing, why not have the faith to see it through? Do you think the God who watches the sparrows cannot handle replacing a few thousand sponsorships? Dozens of renowned bloggers rallied to your defense and took to Twitter to recruit new sponsors.

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 6.59.08 PM

She surpassed her goal. You couldn’t hang on for another few days? FAITH people. Try it!

To People Who Cancelled Sponsorships: 

So many words that I should probably avoid typing here. <Inserts head into pillow and screams>. You made a commitment to a child. One, particular child with a specific name, story, and needs. That child wrote you letters and drew you pictures and prayed for you at night with his or her family. Do you honestly feel like Jesus is rejoicing that you decided to break your commitment to that child because you disagree with an organization’s hiring practices? If you can abandon your commitment to a child that easily, than perhaps you should reexamine your motives in sponsorship. If any cute kid will do to put on the refrigerator, then maybe it’s more about you feeling good about yourself than about serving others, because that money you took back to make a point….there’s a real person you’re hurting on the other end.

Also, there’s just a little hypocrisy here. So as an evangelical Christian, you don’t want to support a charity that employs married gay people. Would it not then make sense that you would not wish to support other businesses or organizations that employ such persons? I mean, if you can cut off support to a non-profit busy feeding hungry kids to satisfy your moral objections, then certainly you shouldn’t be buying clothes, food, gas, or other material things from organizations employing sinners, right? I mean, some of these companies even pay for benefits for same-sex partners and host community support groups or other services. For instance…



Ford Motor





Johnson & Johnson

General Mills

So where are you doing your shopping these days? Just curious. (No Cheerios for you!)

Oh, and let’s pretend for argument’s sake that I agree with you that gay marriage is a sin.Why should World Vision have policies against hiring persons with that one particular sin and not others? Are they still allowed to hire unrepentant gluttons? Divorced and remarried persons?

Oh, isn’t being legalistic with Biblical interpretation just so interesting!

To Evangelical Christians:

I love so many of you dearly. I owe much of my own journey with God to your patient guidance and faithful lives. You have been the body of Christ to me on many occasions.

But guys, you are breaking my heart with the way you’re treating my LGBT brothers and sisters. I spend a lot of time with young people these days, and you are succeeding in driving away future generations from the Jesus you proclaim to want them to know. They look at you and see hatred, hypocrisy, judgment, and a self-serving interpretation of who is “in” and who is “out.” Your angry words drown out the whispers of grace and mercy. Your shadow freezes the warmth offered by a loving community of believers. Your actions bind the hands and feet of Christ.

Do you think all those cancelled sponsorships won hearts for the kingdom? Do you think a single LGBT person read the judgmental blog posts and hateful comments and felt the love of Jesus? Do you think a single non-believer thought, “Gee. These Christians sure showed World Vision by taking money from those needy kids. Man! They’re awesome. I’m totally gonna go get baptized now.”

I’m thinking not. I’m thinking that yesterday, right-winged believers patted one another on the back and returned to life behind their carefully monitored walls while those on the fringes took another step away from the Church. The bullies won, but the Kingdom lost.

And as one who has experienced amazing grace, that breaks my heart.

So please, pray about this with an open mind. Read Torn, by Justin Lee, and pray some more. And before joining in the next anti-gay campaign, ask yourself these questions:

Are my words or actions going to invite someone closer to Jesus?

If the answer is no, then please just go stuff your head in a pillow and scream.

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