To Adleigh As You Turn 8

Dear Adleigh,

You are 8!!!!!! Something about eight has always felt big to me. Maybe it is from working in a school or maybe it’s just watching all your teeth start to fall out, but eight has always seemed like the delineation from little kid to kid, no longer little and not quite a big kid. It is hard to wrap my brain around my little peanut turning 8. You are still so tiny to me, I guess that comes with being the youngest. But, the last couple weeks of throwing you around with my old body, I am noticing the difference that 8 has brought, your new 50 pound body feels a lot harder to toss than the 45. I know the little days are fleeting. There comes a day when you pick your kid up for the last time, you just get too big, physically and maturity wise, so until that day comes I will cherish every time you say “uppie uppie uppie” and watch with pride as you throw yourself around.

That’s right, my little gymnastics star! You are the one in charge of hurling yourself through space and time. You are on the Bronze team at gymnastics! You have worked so hard for years to make the team and now you are doing it! You are practicing seven hours a week in the gym and you still keep going at home! One day you threw up at gymnastics and had to come home and you were soooooooo upset, not about getting sick, but about missing practice! You, the toddler that wailed “oh mommy oh mommy” while Rhonda watched you when I went to the doctor, happily leave me for 7 hours a week. You are a dedicated and loyal teammate. I admire your commitment to practice and the way you face challenges head-on, always striving to improve. Remember success in gymnastics, just like in life, comes not just from your physical abilities but from your mental strength and resilience. Continue working hard and believing in yourself, because there’s no limit to what you can achieve. As you turn 8, I hope you continue to embrace the world with the same enthusiasm and determination and may you always find pride and joy in your work.

I still remember when you were learning to walk, you were more interested in jumping. You would high plank and bounce your tush up and down, just willing yourself to leave the ground to then watching you walk on your toes, I knew you would keep us on ours. You still have the same infectious smile since you were a baby. We just finished doing Wordle today and the word was “smile”! What a sign! Even when Dad or Canton is a grumpy gus you can make them crack up with an impression or some physical comedy. You brighten every day when you scoot your chair to touch mine at lunchtime and when we dance our cares away at 12:34. You are the biggest cheerleader for your siblings. May you always express your love and happiness so freely.

I promise to be your biggest supporter and your shoulder to lean on in everything you do. Whether you’re conquering new skills on the uneven bars, facing a challenge in school, or tackling any other life adventure, I’ll always be there to support you and to catch you when you fall. Because you will fall, but I know nothing will keep you down for long. It is my honor to be your mom and I’m so glad that I have had to chance to help shape you from a sweet and curious baby to the young lady you are on the road to becoming. I’m so lucky you still reach from my hand in a parking lot, but the day will come when I don’t hold your hand anymore. But no matter how big your hand gets, it will always hold my heart.

Happy 8th Birthday, peanut! May this year be filled with even more incredible flips, twists, and soaring leaps. Keep reaching for the new heights, because you are destined for greatness.

I’ll stay with you forever!!!!!!



To Canton as You Turn 10

Dear Canton,

T-E-N! How on earth did that happen? I know I say it every year, but this one seems particularly significant.

In job interviews one is often asked “Where do you see yourself ten years from now?” Well, when you were born I certainly didn’t seem myself in Williamsburg staying home with three kids, but I cannot imagine it any other way. Often, life will throw curveballs your way, your life will be on a different path than you imagined, it is difficult to work through a lot of these, but luckily, sometimes the other side is something beautiful. In your next ten years you will be well on your way to your own life, outside of our house, and on the road to changing the world.

How did I get so lucky to have such a beautiful soul in my life? You are brilliant, empathetic, funny, and loving. You have changed so much in your short time! I remember back to the little boy splashing dump trucks in muddy puddles in Floyd and now I watch you act your heart out on stage.  See, it’s one of those paths I didn’t anticipate, but boy I sure am glad we are here now.

You changed so much this past year! You worked so hard and swam a 50 and then more and learned a few other strokes along the way. You were reluctant but you tried tap and jazz and learned a lesson of persistence. Most things come so easily to you, but swimming and tap did not, but you kept going. There were some tears along the way, but you kept moving forward and kept improving. May you always be open to trying new things and stretching your comfort zone.

You continue to be a kind brother, one who is a great role model and caretaker of his sisters. You sewed an owl for Liberty for her birthday all on your own. You always make sure to spend time with “your twin” Adleigh. As you get older I hope they remain a big part of your life. Your siblings are the only ones that will ever know how you grew up, take care of that bond. May you always look out for them and be an example of what a good man is in this challenging world.

Music has become a big part of your life. Mary Poppins soundtrack generally plays on loop and you belt out “The Cover is Not the Book” or hone your cockney accent with “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”. You learned the recorder, the first one in your class to get the “black belt” and you have helped several others when they were struggling. The best thing you can ever be is kind, and I’m so proud of the kind and empathetic person you are. You also preformed several musical numbers on stage with your acting class, you continue to wow us with your skill. You were in Wizard of Oz at school and “monkeyed around” the stage. You have even taken up piano.  Although you have only started in April, you played “You are My Sunshine” on Mother’s Day for me as tears streamed down my face. It was the perfect gift. May you always carry a tune in your soul.

To celebrate your big 1-0 you and dad took at trip to see NYC! Our house is generally full of box forts, skyscraper models, and show tunes, so NYC was a perfect place for you. You loved seeing all the buildings and the Broadway tour. It takes a lot to impress you and you certainly were in awe of the city. May you continue to travel and see that there is whole big world out there.

Your mind is constantly moving. You light up every room you enter. You see life in color in all that you do. The next ten years will be hard. You will be off to middle school, high school, and college (UVA?), you will vote, get a job, and you will gain friends and you will lose friends. You will make your imprint on your community. The world needs your brain, your humor, your empathy.  May you continue to create, laugh, and love.

At age ten you will begin for form the adult you are going to be.  It takes years to find all the pieces of yourself, but the road ahead is paved with some magical adventures my son, twists and turns, accidents and shortcuts, but just keep going, I promise that I will gently move from being the hand on your wheel to just a guard rail along your journey, I know you are ready to fly.

Just remember:

“When life is getting scary

Be your own illuminary

Who can shine the light for all the world to see”

I love you sunshine!



To Adleigh as you Turn Three!

Dear Adleigh,

You are THREE! I know I say it with every letter, but I really cannot believe it. I have been in the baby/toddler stage for years and now, it’s over. You have grown so beautifully, peanut!

You have grown from a two year old still learning to words to a young girl that says “I apologize” when an accident happens. You were a two year old that needed mom for EVERYTHING to a girl that can take off her clothes (you love to be naked! Often asking “mama can I be naked?” I’m sure you will love reading this at 14!), put dishes away, and help with chores. Not long after you turned two you started saying “self a” when you wanted to do something by yourself. May you always carry the strength of independence and know the pride in a job done yourself.

You have developed your own personality. You don’t only like princesses, you LOVE PJ MASKS!  You LOVE pops! You enjoyed going to the pool a lot this year, I know you will be off and swimming on your own in no time! You love dancing, especially to Monster Mash, and you LOVE LOVE LOVE gymnastics! You have no fear and you flip over bars, climb mats, and jump into pits! You have a strong sense of who you are! You love to say, “I’m Adleigh Sue Murphy!” May you always follow the beat of your own drum.

I’m so lucky that I have been able to be able with you and Liberty full time. This is time that you never get back and it really has been the best part of my life. I have loved watching you and Liberty play together. You love to play dress up, especially Anna and Elsa. When you were about two and a half until Lou went off for school time you guys played dress up all day every day. There was so much joy in both of your faces! There were a couple nights you would wake up in the middle of the night and say “dress up Anna”, you just couldn’t wait until morning to play with your sister!

Often when we could go places you would say “Hi, this is my best friend Liberty.” So sweet! As I type this letter the three of you are playing Lion Guard together on the floor. May you three always be each other’s best friend.

You love Hide and Seek, or as you call it, scare and seek. Everyone would hide and I would count and just as soon as I say “ready or not here I come” you would run out from your hiding spot and yell “Adleigh here!” and then as your language progressed “Here I am!” We would all laugh each time, as you never cease to put a smile on my face. May you always keep that joy in your heart.

I think one of my favorite things about you is how much you love your family. You are happiest when you are cuddled up reading books or running around the house with Canton and Liberty. When you were a young two you would wake up and say “Where’s Canton? Oh school. Where’s Liberty, oh sleeping. Where’s Daddy, oh work.” On Liberty’s third day of school you didn’t wake up early enough to see them leave and you said “Where are my friends?” in the saddest little voice. When we are coming back from the store or running any of you kids around as we pull into the neighborhood you say “mama I see home!” You love being home and know that is just where you belong.

I love when you fall into my arms and coo as we cuddle. My heart melts when you say “I’m your peanut mommy.” Sometimes you tell dad that you are his nugget and I know it melts him just the same. You love to be tickled, especially under your arms. For some reason you love to say “mama smell my feet!” You think it’s the most hilarious thing! You still say “upppie” and I’m happy to oblige as long as I am privileged enough to hold you! I know those days are slipping away, the days of you preferring me and running to my legs for safety are coming to an end and I will take every “uppie” I can get. You often run around the house saying “mama I’m happy” or “mama I’m super happy” and even if you have a cry it won’t be long until you say “mama, I’m better now.” May you always be as happy.

Your adventure is just starting to begin and I cannot wait to see how it will go. Continue to grow, laugh, and love. Always let your light shine and spread joy wherever you go with the hearty laugh of yours.

I don’t know where you learned this saying, but it is my favorite thing you say, “mama, I love you and I like you!”  I guess it’s funny because some of us have people in our life that we love but don’t necessarily like too much.  You know what Ad, I love you and I like you too!



To Liberty As You Turn 5

Dear Liberty,

You are FIVE! 5 is a big deal! One of the biggest!

Five years ago I remember eating pineapple in the kitchen in Harrisonburg and motoring around the track at the elementary school, doing anything I could do get our very late baby out of me! Now, I just want to hold you close forever! How did it go so fast? Pap and Becky actually had a bet that I wouldn’t have another baby after Canton. They thought I couldn’t love another baby as much as him. I wondered if I could too. Then they placed me in your arms and said “It’s a Girl!” and I thanked Mal for sending you to me. My heart grew and grew that day. I knew you were my perfect girl forever.

You and I started some remarkable journeys together. You represent the close of a beautiful chapter in Mal and the start of another, you. You were the start of my life at home in a new home. You are the link to the past and the path to the future. We have shared almost every minute together. You changed my life in so many ways.  But, you aren’t a baby/toddler/preschooler anymore. You are a child ready to explore the world. You will experience so many new things in the coming year without me.

I really believe you were waiting so long to be born on such a fabulous day! July 4th is for family, food, and fireworks! It celebrates so much of what we are all thankful for. It was my favorite holiday growing up. I remember sitting in the back of Rhonda and Greg’s truck listening to funny stories and great music waiting for the fireworks to light the sky. Now you are the light of each and every day.

You accomplished so much this year! You went to school. You had a love/hate relationship with preschool. In October, not long after school started, I had a flat tire on the van. You cried and cried because you didn’t want to miss school, our lovely neighbor Krista actually ended up driving you. By January, you cried and cried because you didn’t want to go. You missed mommy and Adleigh and a lot of the time you felt pretty crummy. We went through a lot with blood tests, different doctors, ER trips, crazy meds, all in attempts to figure out how to make you feel better. You carried a lot of burdens but you remained a sweet and brave girl. That mama bear instinct is real, all I wanted to do was protect you and get you feeling better. I thought I was the strong one, but you had it inside you the whole time. Will, determination, strength, a fierce fighter you are Liberty May.

You are learning how to swim and read! You have made friends. You battled aches and fatigue and learned to cope with your asthma and allergies. You are learning to sit dive and go under right now and I am in awe of your determination to improve. You keep saying “Let’s Go!” to yourself and you have met every challenge. You can count past 100 and even add some numbers! You squealed with delight when you finally perfected a “little e” while writing “Liberty”. You have filled our halls with your artwork. You have learned to read some and scream every time you see “the”! May you always have that “Hilda May” fight and determination for perfection inside you.

You are an incredible sister, especially to Adleigh. It has been the joy of my life to watch you two together, especially this past year. I don’t know what she is going to do in the fall without you. You guys are best friends. Adleigh loves to say “be twins with Liberty” as she tries to dress like you so days. You play princesses and pretend to be PJ masks all day long. You tell her stories, sing together, do calendar, show her how to draw and put on her shoes. You are protective on her, if she cries you always try to comfort her, I’ve seen you race across the driveway many times yelling her name if she’s taken a tumble and you jump to help. You have your own language I think! Sometimes you can understand what she is saying better than any of us! So much of who Adleigh is is because of her big sister! Your siblings are the only people that understand your upbringing. It is a special bond. May you three always be the best of friends.

Each night when we sing “skinamarink” and “Me and Lou” you shout “EXTRA KISSES” as I cover your face with sloppy kisses! It is the very best part of my day. May you always show others how strongly you love.

In a couple months you will get on the bus, start school, make friends, learn, grow, all without me. But I hope as you grow you will always know just how loved you are. One of my favorite things to hear you say is “tomorrow tomorrow” when trying to figure out our schedule for various events. I will be here always for you, today, tomorrow, and tomorrow tomorrow.

Love you forever,


To Adleigh as You Turn 2

Oh sweet peanut, you are two!

You’re my baby, my last baby, my little little one! But you aren’t so little anymore huh? You have learned so much in the last year. You have such a big personality and it has been a joy to watch you change and grow.

I love how your little body is always on the move, you have no trouble keeping up with your big brother and big sister.  You just move right along with them. One of my favorite things about you is how much you love Canton and Liberty. When I walk into your room in the morning you are smiling and ready to greet the day.  The first thing you say in “Hello” and then you say “Canton?” I tell you Canton is getting ready for school. Then you say “Lou?” usually she is still sleeping. Liberty headed off to preschool this year a few days a week and you ask about her while she is gone. You light up when it is time to go pick up Liberty or walk to go get Canton.  You shout “Yay Lou!” or “Yay Canton!” as you run to get your shoes on and say “self” as you want to open the door to the garage to go get them. When we get to Liberty’s school you yell “down mama!” because you want to walk all by yourself in to retrieve your sister, you think no one can do it like you! You love to play princesses with Liberty and snuggle and read with Canton. You tend to lead the way as you all play outside. I love to hear you yell “Here Adleigh” when Canton or Liberty yell the “ready or not here I come” part in hide in seek! You climb those stairs and you love to make them laugh as you “push” them on the slide. You light up as we sign your Jolly Holliday song each night and watch with anticipation of the crazy dance moves Canton comes up with and what Lou will do to make you laugh. May you guys always love each other so fiercely.

You may be my little peanut, but girl is your personality anything but little! You are a determined child. You learned to climb the couch, the stairs, heck you even try to climb into the tub, you did it all before I was ready.  You now know how to scoot down the stairs on your butt and you push my hand away when I try to help you. You love to take your clothes off, a lot! Naps? Ha! Those are long in our rearview mirror! You tell me what shirt you want to wear in the morning and what snack you want. All signs that show me you aren’t so little anymore. You know what you want and you are not afraid to ask for it! I have no doubt you can handle whatever comes your way.

You love to read, you love Everywhere Babies and Brown Bear Brown Bear, really anything Eric Carle! You love the hide and seek books, especially Mickey Mouse ones. You love to say “In here? In here?” as you pretend to be surprised by each flap and you laugh that big laugh of yours! You used to hate going to the store or out at all, you definitely gave people the stink eye, we would say “don’t worry, she hates everyone!” But, now you enjoy going out and saying hello and waving to people. You loved going to the pool this summer! I have no doubt in a couple years you will be swimming laps around your mom and dad! You love to play “little piggies” and being tickled–your armpits and under your chin are your favorite spots! For Canton it’s his “meaty thighs” and Liberty is anywhere! May you continue to be curious and play!

You love to sing and dance! You know just how to turn on Moana “How Far I’ll Go” and sprint to me with your arms open wide because you know I will catch you. We spin through the chorus and you laugh and laugh and I fall on the ground at the end, you think it is because that’s what Moana does in the song but it is really because you exhaust me! (Plus, when you get old you can’t spin like you used to!) May you continue to dance till you fall!

You have learned to say a lot over the past year. I love when you say “come onnnnnnnn” when something isn’t going fast enough for your liking or you are trying to get someone to do something for you. “Come here bubbles!” is a great one, you and Liberty love to chase bubbles. You also say “oh” and “hmmm” just like a grown-up! You also will ask for a treat or to go do something and answer your own question, “Cookie? Yeah!” “Steps? Yeah!” My favorite is when you ask for hugs and kisses though! May you continue to say what you mean and mean what you say.

You have an infectious, hearty laugh that came make anyone’s day. You make sure to take care of others, I love when someone coughs or burps you pat their chest to make sure they are alright. As your song says “When Adleigh holds your hand, you feel so grand!” Even if you weren’t mine, I know I would hear that laugh of yours and smile. I know I would see you and want to play Hide and Seek with you. You bring such joy to so many people. May you continue to find laughter in all things

Your growing body doesn’t quite fit with same way as we cuddle each day, but it is the best feeling in the world to feel you snuggled tight and say “hi mama” or “kiss mama”. I will miss hearing “uppie” when you want to be picked up, because I know too soon I won’t get to pick you up anymore. They say that one day comes when you pick your child up for the last time, so matter how tired I am or how much I might be juggling, I will soak up every “uppie” I can get.

When you were born we had so much going on with Daddy become gone and moving, I made so many efforts to remember all the moments with you because I knew time was fleeting. I had a six year old, a two year old, and a baby. So, of course I had a lot of things to do, but instead, I made myself appreciate every moment, and I held you. I needed to do laundry, but I held you. I needed to unload the dishwasher and vacuum, but I held you. Now your little legs are down past my hips and it seems like yesterday they were below my chin and you snuggled in the crook of my neck. I needed to do a million things, but I held you. We certainly didn’t have a model home those first few weeks, but hearing your little breaths on my chest as I played with Canton and Liberty accomplished more than finishing a to-do list. All because I held you.

Adleigh, you completed our family. I cannot imagine our world without you. As you march toward three your vocabulary will grow, you’ll become taller, more independent, more curious.  Even though you push my hand away now, I’ll always be here to catch you when you fall because you will always be my baby.

WIth My Love ALWAYS!







To Liberty as You Turn 4

Dear Liberty,

What a year!  A lot has changed, that little baby we had at your last birthday is now a moving zooming toddler with whom you share a strong relationship.  You’ve gotten more used to our new house, you’ve made some friends, and my how you have grown.  Now, you are 4!  It happened right before my eyes, you have turned from a big toddler to a preschooler in a moment.

You’ve always had a sense of yourself and your own set of preferences.  You always allow yourself to shine through.  You like things a certain way.  When we headed to the store to get your birthday decorations I had no doubt that we would come back with a load of Ariel stuff, but you wanted all the princesses so Adleigh would have Belle, I love how you can still surprise me with your kind heart.

We spend our mornings signing songs (you love the months) and counting down days until Rhonda visits the next time.  You love reading books and playing dress up.  You love cooking with me, especially baking, but mostly just waiting for a spare chocolate chip or to lick the icing spoon.  You especially love hide and seek, I can hear you breathing with anticipation as you wait for me/Canton to find you.  May you continue to be so excited about life.

I know your independent stubborn streak comes from Mal, but it is still surprising to see it in action.  I don’t need to tell you (most days) to brush your teeth or get dressed, you are happy to do many big-kids things yourself.  You have a kind heart, but don’t cross you! 🙂

You get so excited when Adleigh says a new word or picks up a new skill and when it is time to go get Canton and see what he has done at school.  May you continue to be inspired and loving.

You have tried gymnastics and ballet this year, without hesitation, may you always have that same drive in new situations.

You tend to hang back, observe, and follow directions, quietly watching and waiting for your moment, but you also know when to speak up when something isn’t quite right.  May you continue to be strong, kind, and brave.

You learned to write your name, love to read, and have begun to tell jokes.  May you always be silly and love learning.

This fall you will head to preschool.  You say you are ready and excited to play at school but “I will miss you forever Mom”, I know you will learn and grow, even when I’m not there beside you.

You’re leaving the shell of your toddler years behind and you are marching to preschooler territory, it is exciting and terrifying all at once.  I think about how much of your life this far that you won’t remember.  Some of the best moments of my entire life are the four years I have had being with you each and every day.  I used to run around trying to help so many other kids, I never imagined the most important and most fulfilling thing I could do is read with you, cook with you, play dress up, or watch you play with your brother and sister.  Though these moments won’t be in your memory, I hope they will shape your world and your sense of self.

As we say goodnight each and sing our song you say “I love you forever Mom” and it makes my heart burst each time.  You came out with a bang and changed my world ever since.  I’ll love you forever too.



Age 1

Age 2

Age 3

Last Day Being 3