The days are long but the years are short.

936 pennies. Each penny symbolizes one week of your life from birth until your 18th birthday. The weeks that I am your legal guardian, care taker, and responsible for raising you. The weeks that I have to help you realize your purpose and to help you grow confident in your abilities. The weeks I will spend teaching you manners, lessons, and skills that you will use to help you through life as you discover the path you will take and the passions you will pursue.

Each penny shows the value of one week. Pennies are small and get lost in couch cushions, under seats on the car floorboards, in old purses, and sometimes, even thrown out, and divided into 7 parts for each day of the week they seem even more minuscule.

Yet- they can also be invested to grow into something of more worth.

Some weeks it may feel like a quarter’s worth of time will pass, others I’m sure will feel like part of a day. Mundane weeks, weeks of frustration, exciting weeks, weeks of wonder.

No matter how much time it may feel like doesn’t change the actual time that I have before we set set you free.

These pennies will be transferred one by one, each week, and will teach me to watch more carefully how I spend my weeks with you. How many will be invested wisely? How many will be spent too frivolously? How many will I wish I could take back or exchange because of regrets I will have? How many will purchase more than I bargained for? One thing is for sure, they will all be spent, because we can’t save time or spend it more slowly, no matter how much we try.

I wanted to start these jars off before you were born, but I didn’t get around to until until your 32nd week. As I counted out the first 32 pennies to put in the “spent” jar and reflected on them through the day, I also looked back at the journal pages I have kept for you, the photos I have taken of you, and the milestones I have tracked. Many of the weeks have been invested wisely, and some I know I can’t even remember as they are blur of time mixed in exhaustion and frustrations. Some days the fraction of a penny I feel have been lost in the cracks, while others have purchased a a million dollars of memories.

May these jars remind me how time is fleeting, and how my time has been invested. Each penny spent will shape you and the rest of your life. My spending habits of these weeks will forever leave an impression on you.

God, help me spend them wisely.

My real-life Elf on the Shelf

I vowed to not over-commit myself this holiday season as usual and to not spend all of my time the usual way I spend December-making 30+ treats to take or send everywhere and to everyone- but to spend it with Nora instead.

That’s where this idea was born! A fun, festive way to make memories with my favorite girl while also creating a special project for her to look back on of her 1st Christmas. It gave me a way to still create things for Christmas, with it all revolving around Nora. She seems to be having fun with it!

Day #1

My name is Squishy Twinkletoes

I came from the north one of the Poles

I’m feeling jolly

And full of folly

I have fun wherever I go

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 Day #2

“Traveling is fun for me
I do it every year
I’ve been all around the world
But it’s my first Christmas here”

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Day #3

 Squishy Twinkletoes can’t play the guitar *yet* but that doesn’t stop her from banging around and strumming some Christmas tunes for us!
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear!”

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Day #4

Cutting up paper
Getting glue all over me
Cards to bring good cheer

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Day #5

Elf on the Shelf #5 Squishy Twinkletoes was caught red-handed playing with Nora’s toys but she has no shame!

“All good elves work hard all day
But they still have time for play!”

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Day #6

Squishy Twinkletoes likes to keep her mind sharp by doing some puzzles in her down time.

Half of my beauty is my brain
I play to learn so I will gain!

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Day #7

I didn’t do it!! Don’t blame me!
I’m only admiring this Christmas tree! 

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Day #8

It’s fun to joke and it’s fun to draw
I hope this isn’t against the law!
For if it is I will pay the price
Because I don’t play very nice!

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Day #9

Wool, wood, brick, grain, and ore
Roll the dice to collect some more
I have resources to trade
Although, honestly, I’m afraid
That if you look away my cards may double
Although I try to stay out of trouble!

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Day #10

I like to sip on a nice glass of wine, which, just like me, is better with time.

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Day#11

Many festive things to do
before Christmas Eve
Every day it’s something new
until I have to leave

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Day #12

I like to do such naughty things
but disapproving looks they bring.
If only I could figure out
a way to carry lots of clout
for blaming all my stunts on pets,
my guilt the humans may forget! 

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Day #13

My favorite things to taste are sweet
In any shape or form;
The taste of sugar can’t be beat,
I always ask for more!

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Day #14

Why are you looking at me like that?

I’m only an Elf on the Shelf!

I couldn’t have possibly cut her hair;

She must have done it herself!

Day #15

Sprinkles, frosting, sugar, and more

all over the cookies, table, and floor!

Just can’t decide if this tasty treat

is more fun to decorate or to eat!

That’s what Squishy Twinkletoes has been up to so far! Stay tuned to see what other mischief she gets into!

 

Click HERE for Part Two

 

 

How much longer?

How much longer will you make the noises you make as you realize and exercise your vocal abilities? How much longer will my silly songs for all of our activities make you smile and laugh? How much longer will you pat me on my face or neck and chest while you are nursing?How much longer do we have until I’m no longer able to peek over your crib in the mornings to a cooing, smiling baby staring up at me who then laughs when I sing our “good morning” song because instead you’ll be pulling yourself up and holding on to the rail?

Dear Nora,

It’s Sunday November 19th at 7:30 pm. Yesterday was our annual Friendsgiving party. Today we had a lot to clean up and we also went to your cousin Charlie’s 5th birthday party. Your dad went to go play some poker with some guys at a friend’s house tonight and I’m nursing you and rocking you in the nursery, in the dark with white noise on Apple TV and your sound machine while you’re bundled in the sleep suit and I have your playlist playing softly from my iPhone. You calm when I softly sing “Baby Mine” along with Alison Krause, except I change some words to fit you. A very familiar part of our evening routine, but tonight doesn’t seem as routine as normal.

You squirm as I pause from typing on my phone on the lowest brightness to reflect on my feelings and you reach up and touch my face. You grunt. You unlatch and then latch again. I tear up.

The ordinary things you do, noises you make, and ways you move have become so familiar to me. I don’t even regularly think  much about some of them anymore, but in this moment, they overwhelm me.

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You’re five months old and in the past week or so you’ve mastered rolling from your back to stomach and then back again. You don’t hate being on your tummy as much now because it’s like you’ve discovered that you can reach for toys while propped up on your forearms and can roll both ways to keep things interesting. It’s a big step to making you more self-reliant. While I’m so thankful for your health and ability to reach these milestones, I’m concurrently excited to be seeing glimpses of the next season where you will be mobile and able to discover  more independently and sad at feeling you start to slip even farther away from things in the newborn baby stage.

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Things like the frequent nursing. The cuddling. Thumb sucking. The peaceful resting with your head on my chest while in my arms. The reaching to be picked up. The fussing for me to give you a toy you want or to change which toys you are playing with. The grunting of disapproval you make when you want to move or a change of scenery. The sweet squeals of delight when I do something that particularly pleases you.

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How much longer will you grip my fingers and pull my hands and arms by them? How much longer will you get that excited look in your eyes as you realize I’m about to feed you? How much longer will you be exclusively breast fed? How much longer will you make the noises you make as you realize and exercise your vocal abilities? How much longer will my silly songs for all of our activities make you smile and laugh? How much longer will you pat me on my face or neck and chest while you are nursing?How much longer do we have until I’m no longer able to peek over your crib in the mornings to a cooing, smiling baby staring up at me who then laughs when I sing our “good morning” song because instead you’ll be pulling yourself up and holding on to the rail? How long do I have left until you no longer take comfort and nourishment at my breast or rest in my arms?

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You’ll be 6 months old so soon, and while I usually spend these next days and weeks of this time of year making all kinds of goodies, making or buying gifts for people, and decorating everything in sight, this year I don’t want to do that. I am choosing to focus on you and to spend as much time on you as possible. Not because you’ll remember this Christmas at all, but because I ALWAYS will. My first Christmas with my precious daughter who is SO dependent on me. Who needs me.

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After such a rough beginning to your life and our nursing bond that makes me feel like I was a little robbed of what should have been some of the most precious times with you, now that you’re feeling better and are so much happier, I want to take these few weeks to do less Christmas prep. One tree. Not two or three. And so on.

I’m going to spend this season holding you tighter, nursing you longer, soaking up these last weeks that you need me to carry you everywhere you go, and finally, taking in the peacefulness of the season that can be here among the hustle when you just focus on a baby. To focus on you, of course, but also the one who was born to bring peace in earth and the reason we celebrate this season.

May I never forget the blessing of each season with you, my darling.

Photo Credit: Sannetta Marsh