Sweet little flip-flop tan lines: Two years of passion, creativity and life

All three of us match. After drinking in sun, and sand, and mountains and sunsets, we all sport summer flip flop tan lines. Although Elle Joy’s feet are definitely the cutest out of our bunch, with her 10 tiny little toes that wiggle when we play “this little piggy went to market” for the 1,000th time during a road trip.

Somehow along the way, our little sprout grew into a 2-year old. We celebrated with a baby strawberry party (a.k.a., “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” themed), which is by far her favorite movie of all time. As in, she would watch it twice a day if we would let her. Her birthday party dripped with toddler goodness. Everyone say in the driveway for the first half of the morning blowing bubbles. I will never forget the concentration LeLe’s furrowed brow gave away as she stared the bubble wand down with all her might, while her Papa (my dad) showed her over and over again how to patiently blow on each bubble screen for the desired outcome of a bubble dance party. We chomped on chicken nuggets and mac and cheese, and sang songs, and danced. And, it was amazing.


Going back in time a bit, we knew we would have a talker on our hands early on. At the end of March, when I got home from a long day at school, Matt, LeLe and I were sitting in the playroom building legos and I said, “I think I am going to take a bath.” And as clear as day, LeLe said her first sentence “I want to take a bath too.” We were so blown a way! From that point on, her speech took off like a rocket ship. And at the same turn, we began to realize how many funny things we say that she has integrated into her own speech patterns. For awhile she would add “yeah” to the end of every sentence. Then, she started emphatically using her hands to gesture as she would talk half Lelish / half English and then at the end say “okay?” And oh the mispronunciations… Macaroni and Cheese is “Mac-An-Oni and Cheese” and for quite some time, magnets were definitely pronounced “maggots”. By far one of our favorite phrases is “mommy hold you” or “daddy hold you,” a saying that had a southern accent for awhile after we spent a week with family in Tennessee. “Mommy or Daddy hold you” also became a night time tactic where she would day “Mommy hold you, Rhema!” or “Mommy hold you, Matt!” in an attempt to get us to come into her room and let her stay up for just a tad bit longer. (Insert here how Matt will never let me live down teaching LeLe our proper names… on Matt’s birthday, she wouldn’t call him daddy. LeLe kept saying “Happy birthday, Matt!”

Speaking of Tennessee… and Kansas City… and multiple Western Slope trips… and a return to the Bay Area… can I just say, we have a travel bug!! Elle Joy really is a travel warrior. When we arrive at airports, she excitedly says, “I want to ride plane!” and as we are walking down the boarding plank, she immediately says “I want my sucker” (because she knows she gets a sucker when we take off to help her ears pop). Trust me. We never had to remind her that this was a travel option.


In Tennessee, LeLe climbed nearly ever single step of the cavern hike (which was at least a good 1.5 miles), and then slept like a rock from 6 p.m. to the morning. In Kansas city, she intently watched dragon boat races at a dragon boat festival and had a tea party with some Buzz and Woody toys. On the Western slope, she made mud pies and jumped on the trampoline and played her heart out with her cousins and friends for beautiful summer days and evenings. In San Francisco, she gleefully walked up to each shore line and inched a little deeper, holding our hands, saying “More?” and “Shall we go this way?” (as in, get me into that water!).


LeLe is also captivated by colors. She names them, and has become particular enough to ask for a certain color of sippie cup. And don’t forget the clothes! She has to pick our her entire outfit now… forget the cute little dresses hanging in her closet that she refuses to wear… (if I try to make her wear them, she just dissolves completely into tears)…

Oh how I love Elleanna’s imagination. She sets up her stuffed animals and serves them lunches. She made an espresso machine our of the nobs on our treadmill and she often serves us coffee (never mind that she is always trying to steal sips from our real coffee). She adores popcorn, and family movie nights.

Most of all, the compassion of my daughter floors me and brings me to my knees. When anyone is crying (especially a baby) she runs over and pats that person’s head and says
“It’s okay!”. She is always asking people about their owies, and if they will be okay. And each night as we say bedtime prayers, she will often on her own volition mention people who have owies and ask the Lord to take care of them. We also read nightly from the Jesus Story, a beautifully illustrated kids Bible book telling the story of Jesus though both the Old and New Testament. And of course, we always have to start with Goliath (who says “rawr!!!!”). And oh how she sings. Like a little juke box, all around town I am serenaded with “Itsie Bitsie Spider” and “Old McDonald” and “ABCs” and “I’ve Got the Joy” and many more. One day, my sister-in-law said she heard LeLe sitting at the piano hitting keys and then trying very hard to match her voice to the pitches she was hitting. Yep, we definitely have a musician on our hands.

This summer was really as summers should be, full of sending and receiving, going and hosting. This summer was a big pile of friends, family, BBQs, sunset chasing, swimming, picnics at the park, enjoying the mountains and the ocean, eating cherries and peaches, and picking fresh garden tomatoes. And I can’t imagine sharing my life with anyone else but Matt and LeLe. I’m savoring my delicious days.