Kayleigh: My Precious Jewel

by Kristi Van Dyk in

I have been neglecting this blog during the Christmas season. Mostly because I spent most of the month of December getting ready for Christmas parties, packing for trips away and unpacking/cleaning after trips away, forcing naps on overtired children at odd times so they'd be ready for trips away, managing weird diets and getting all of the fun packages we'd ordered wrapped and ready. During all of that craziness, I knew the kids were growing, changing and becoming their own little people ... I just lacked the time to reflect on it. So, as the holiday is done, here's my blog catch up on our beautiful 2 year old (Benjamin's will be tomorrow, on his --- wait for it --- 8 MONTH BIRTHDAY!!). This will be a post full of pictures, evidence of all I claim. I also hope to post some audio for your listening pleasure ... so a multi-media extravaganza. If you make it through all of my silly stories and media posts, you're a true follower of Kristi's Blog. I don't have a prize for you, but I hold you near and dear to my heart for your commitment and love to my kids :). The title is something my mom, and those who knew me as a 2 year old will find most fitting. As a little girl (probably 3???) I stood up at Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference and sang a solo ... a little song called Precious Jewels about little children, God's precious treasures, who are "gems" in His crown. There is no title more fitting for the two year old I am blessed to take care of. She is God's precious, shining jewel.

Here are my top 10 "Gems" from this most recent season in Kayleigh's Life

1. The Ruby: Kayleigh loves to play puzzles. She will stretch out on her belly, prop her hand up and just chatter away at me, asking me to do the same. "Play puzzles, with Kayleigh, Mommy! Stop doing work and play puzzles!" She took my breath away when I looked up from playing puzzles because she looked just so grown up. As much as I didn't want to I could see the senior in high school picture pose with her legs crossed up behind her, head rested in her hand. I know the time goes too fast; she'll be gone before I know it. So I must take a minute and treasure the little ruby she gave me here ... a precious smile, a sweet little face, and the reminder that this time is all together too precious for words.

2. An Amethyst: After her initial penny pony ride, some 5 months ago, she decided she was afraid of them. I don't know what prompted a second opportunity, but she asked if we could try it again. Here she is, clearly enjoying her turn on the penny pony. I don't know if it was the barrette in her hair, her light up Princess boots, the fact that she isn't wearing a diaper (still Pull-ups), or the smile of accomplishment on her face ... but this was another reminder of the passage of time. She chattered happily away, and when it came time for thank you prayers at night, this was her highlight. "Thank you God, for the penny pony at Meijers." I know it seems silly ... but I was thankful for the penny pony too ... a memory frozen in time ...

3. Jade I remember exactly where this was ... we were just passing Martin, on the way home from our New Year's Eve plans. We had kept Benjamin with us (he is usually great at sleeping anywhere you place him and goes to bed at 7:30 ... he wasn't going to "cramp" our style), but we had sent Kayleigh for an evening with Grandpa and Grandma Van Dyk. We knew she'd struggle to sleep with a party going on and would likely have way more fun with Grandpa and the "clock" and playing with Grandma. So, we sent her away. She had a great time, but kept her grandparents hopping most of the night. From the sounds of it, someone was sleeping with her in bed the entire time. Middle of the night potty trips, all kinds of forms of manipulation that grandparents willingly fall for. Her innocence returned, though, as she took the car ride home to nap. Her long hair, her night away from us, the very adult-like vest she has on ... all of it, makes me see her as "pre-schooler" not my baby any longer.

4.  The Diamond If you haven't been able to tell, I am going in order to birthstones as I list of precious gems. I find it most fitting, however, that this memory fell to the Diamond stone, arguably one of the more precious birthstones. This picture will always hold a precious place in my heart because of what I hope it fore-tells for my daughter's life. Kayleigh adores Bible Study. The hardest part about the Christmas season was that we didn't have Bible Study (and we were out of town plenty so church was infrequent). She would finish her morning Mickey episodes and say, "Oookay. Let's go on a car ride to Bible Study. I get your Bible, Mommy." I had to convince her often (way more than once a week) that we'd start again soon, but not today. As soon as the new books for my study came, she could sense we were headed back. Last Monday she grabbed my books and told me that she was going to, "Read for her Bible Study now. SHHH!!!!" I asked her to show me the book and couldn't have been more in love with the picture that snapped out ... Clearly, at this point in her life, to the best she knows how, she is a Woman After God's Own Heart.

5. The Emerald (Benjamin's stone! ... again so fitting for the memory I pair it with): 1-10 Helping Benny Brother Kayleigh calls her brother, "Benny Brother." We were working on relationships and I think the name just stuck. "Good morning, Benny Brother. How did you sleep?" "Mommy, Benny Brother does not want to take his nap!" "Mommy, Benny Brother is fighting with Rafael!" "Benny Brother is saying Daddy. We should find him Daddy!" The love she shares and shows to her brother is so evident. Never more evident than in the video posted above. She ADORES eating puffs. She stole them from Ryan when he was learning to eat. She can't wait to help Benjamin eat them (mostly so she can steal them) during his snack time each day. She's really pretty good about helping him eat one (then eating one herself). I listen as I prepare dinner and I hear, "One for Benny Brother; one for Kayleigh. Eat up Benny Brother ... One for Benny Brother, One for Kayleigh!"

6. The Pearl Kayleigh received some ink and stamps (all Mickey Mouse) for Christmas and OH does she love playing with them. We busted them out the other day when I was trying to whip up some chilli in the crockpot and she wasn't exactly in the most helpful mood. She stamped and stamped and stamped away, being very careful not to get ink on her clothes or the table. She created a very beautiful Mickey piece of artwork which she said was, "For Daddy's OFFICE." He still hasn't exactly taken it to his office, it's on the fridge, but she was so proud of her handiwork ... and now, we have a new favorite thing to do while Benjamin naps. 7. Onyx Kayleigh and Ryan are both learning to share. Neither of them are quite there yet, but Alaina and I like watching them "work it out." We almost always have to intervene before (or just after) someone's feelings are hurt (or sometimes more than feelings ... the kids are great at boxing out and hip checking!) Here, they actually listened to us and took a moment to share. They both tried incessantly to climb into the box. With a little help they both fit AND stayed smiling ... Ahhh ... Happy cousins!

8. Peridot (I've never heard of that before, but okay ...) We're still working on this performance. It's not perfect, she needed a little help. BUT I love that she sings her ABC's while going about her daily business. We walk to the potty, "A ... B...C...D..." We go down the stairs to play, "Next time won't you (sing it Momma!!) sing with me." We get loaded into the car, "Momma, sing ABCDEFGHIJ with me!!" Here she is, singing her ABC's. 1-15 Singing the ABCs

9. Sapphire On Christmas Eve Day, Benny was resting, Steve was working out and Kayleigh and I were reading together. I discovered that she had the entire "Pumpkin book" memorized. Now, my mom had an audio recording of me "reading" a book I had memorized at ROUGHLY the same age. I couldn't resist getting out the Voice Memo recording and capturing our session together. She gets a little distracted, but she makes it through the entire book. If you can understand all of her words, congratulations ... but, I'm gonna hand it to her, it's pretty good. I'm sure she'll want me to burn it someday, but, of course, I'll do just as my parents did and send the audio file to her boyfriend/fiancé. Memo-1

10. The Opal (and my final gem for this post) When I was pregnant with Kayleigh we sang "In Christ Alone" almost every week at church. We sang it at school during Easter week. I listened to it on my iPod during rides in the car ... and each time I got to the 4th verse I'd begin to weep ... "No guilt in life; no fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me. From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny." That year, Kayleigh was born and I experienced "life's first cry" for myself. There was nothing like it in the whole world. As I held my baby girl, that song played through my brain ... each time I hear it it brings tears ... and it's no wonder that my baby girl (who heard it COUNTLESS TIMES in utero and since) adores this song. In fact, it's almost to the point of annoying. We no sooner are buckled in the car, "In Christ Alone, Mommy!" Around the house, "In Christ Alone, Momma!! Sing it for Kayleigh! Sing LOUD!!" So, I pulled out the ol' Voice Memo when we were downstairs the other day. I have it in raw audio format and am working on coverting it. As soon as the editing is done, I'll post it :) (You can hold me to it ... but right now Garage Band and I aren't having fun ...)

My baby girl is truly a jewel in our eyes. We thank God for her daily and totally love sharing her fun memories with all of you.