Happy 2nd Birthday, Rachel!

What an exciting day! My baby girl turned 2 years old today! These last two years have been a bit of a sleep-deprived hectic blur but I think they must have been pretty wonderful according to the blog posts I rarely found time to write.

Rachel is just a little jewel. She is bright and charming, sweet and loving, and not quite as loud and bouncey as big brother. Much more on the quiet side, like me. Oh, how I love her.

And what's really sweet is when I put her to bed, she still likes to cuddle with me as we rock in her glider. Isn't that the sweetest moment when your child falls asleep in your arms? I'm cherishing these moments because I never know when it will be the last time that she lets me snuggle her to sleep. Soon that independent, defiant streak of being 2 years old will start peaking through and snuggling with mommy will no longer be acceptable.

Rachel is tall for her age. She's in the 90th percentile for height and people often ask if she's 3 years old. She's a talker but still has her quirky things she says like "nilk" for milk, "em-mers" for fingers, and everything that starts with a "c" is pronounced with a "t" such as tars for cars, tarry me for carry me, and even tared for scared. It's so cute. And she still sucks that little thumb when she's going to sleep.

This past weekend, Stuart converted Rachel's crib into a toddler bed. I was excited for her but sad because to see her baby crib taken apart. She's not a baby anymore though.

We had a little party at home tonight after Daddy got home from work. Grandparents from Louisiana sent presents to add to the pile. Rachel was so excited to see all the presents and she loved her Elmo and princess balloons.

She dug right in to ripping off the paper.

Nicholas loved the whole Fisher Price Little People line of toys when he was Rachel's age. Even though she got the dollhouse and pink castle, he didn't hesitate to help her play with them.

He also seemed to enjoy Rachel's new baby doll although he didn't appreciate us taking his picture while cradling the doll!

Rachel loves putting together puzzles and Nicholas was eager to help her unwrap and put together the new puzzles that she got. Such a sweet big brother!

Nicholas is very loving towards Rachel and I love how he plays with her with these puzzles and lets her decide where the pieces go. He understands that even though he wants to just put the piece in where it goes, that it is better for Rachel to figure out where the pieces go all by herself. However, as I watch this video again, I feel sad for Rachel because he doesn't let her actually put the pieces in herself. He wants to do it for her. It's hard giving up control, especially for a 6 year old. And once the puzzle is complete, Nicholas congratulates Rachel but then snatches it away and puts it aside because he's bored and wants to be entertained by the next new toy to be opened up. He's so loving with her and he wants to be the best big brother. But he's also still 6 years old and it's hard for him to just let her do things on her own even if that's the best way for her to learn. It's also challenging as a parent to be 100% present for Rachel's birthday AND be there for Nicholas who I'm sure was feeling some jealousy over all the attention that Rachel got tonight. It's just one of those joys that comes with parenting more than one child.

After presents, we had dinner. I made special breadsticks with Rachel's initials, roses, and hearts.

We had little Disney Princess themed party blowers. I just love this video of Stuart trying to teach Rachel how to blow them.

After dinner, it was time for cake. Can I admit something to you without getting the Worst Mom of The Year award? Typically, I order birthday cakes well in advance with whatever special theme the person likes. Nicholas has had Batman and pirates. Last year, Stuart got a poker themed cake for his birthday. I've been so busy lately that I let Rachel's birthday cake slip my mind. So this morning, I went to Kroger and picked out a cake from the case. They kindly wrote "Happy Birthday" on it. I asked if they might have some kind of Disney Princess thing they could put on it quickly because Rachel loves Cinderella, Belle, and all those fancy ladies. She said yes and then came back with a cake with some tiaras on it. It looks nice but it wasn't what Rachel thinks of when she says "princess". Oh well. That's the best I could get on such short notice.

While we were getting a lighter to light the candles, Rachel decided to sample the icing...

She tried to blow out the candles...

...but in the end, Big Brother had to come to the rescue. He was dying to get in on the action anyway!

Rachel had a fork but decided to eat her cake with her fingers.

Actually, she just scrapped the icing off with her fingers. No actual cake was harmed in the taking of this picture.

Every last bit of icing was cleaned off...

...and then she asked for "More, please!"

We told her that she still had plenty of cake to eat and we weren't going to give her another piece just to lick the icing off. Then she gave us her pouty look. Cute, but not effective.

So she proceeded to lick off any minute amount of icing she could find on her fingers and plate.

She finally decided to take a bite of the cake once she realized she couldn't charm her way into getting anymore icing.

Happy birthday, sweet Rachel! You bring laughter and joy to our hearts and we thank God every day for the blessings you bring to our family.

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