Photos by: Angela Rose Gonzalez
Before you dive into this post, PLEASE click play above! This song was a highlight of our year, something we sing every single day, and it sums up this beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed girl who is growing like a weed! If you’re looking for a special gift to give to someone you love, I can not recommend these special, personalized songs more! Anyways, enjoy Coco’s song while you read about our birthday girl!
Can we just pause for a moment over the title and purpose of this post? FOUR years? I blinked and suddenly I’m waking up next to a little girl who speaks in paragraphs, dances to Disney tunes, begs to wear the same black tutu daily, and can recite every word of Green Eggs and Ham perfectly. How the heck did we get here?
Full disclosure, these blog posts are a straight-up selfish attempt to remember these days. I feel like as a mom I’m grasping for these infinite small moments that I will myself to remember but know I’ll somehow forget in the blur of it all. So let me tell you all about the birthday girl who I can hear talking to her stuffed bear upstairs as I type, singing lines from the movie Tangled, “I’m wondering and wondering, when will my life begin?” Oh, sweet child, your life started years ago and watching it unfold is the greatest blessing.
So let me tell you about my Coco, C-O-C-O as she likes to spell it. She wakes up happy, especially around 5:30AM. She generally runs to the window to look at the weather and lately, to see the snow, to which she is somehow surprised day after day that it is here. “What theeee…. SNOW?!” She’s been sneaking into our bed recently which is something I fought for a very long time and slowly gave into and I honestly kind of like her little body next to mine. I recognize it’s just a phase and I’m soaking in her nearness right now (while simultaneously needing more chiropractor visits for the weird positions I end up sleeping in!)
She is wildly creative and could color for hours at a time, our current thing is learning how to draw her favorite Disney characters (thank you, Youtube!) and then she meticulously colors them in (and gets frustrated if we don’t have the perfect shade of blue for Elsa’s gown!)
She is incredibly expressive — to the point where we have to hold back laughter. If she someday ends up on Broadway, I will 1,000% release videos from this stage of life because we’ve got an actress on our hands. Whether she’s expressively re-telling a story that literally just happened, referencing “lasterday” which could be anything from an hour ago to two years ago, or telling us why we need to apologize to her (for some asinine reason) the girl is wildly convincing.
Her favorite things these days include: anything Frozen, braids like Elsa, unicorns, rainbows, the stars on top of Christmas trees, anything that’s shiny, and her million “treasures!” We have boxes and pouches and zip locks and purses and backpacks filled with “treasures” and lord almighty, we can not throw a single thing out because her memory is one you don’t want to battle. You never know when she’ll ask for that one “crystal” (read: rock) or that red bead she found in the parking lot at the mall… and trust me, you don’t want to find out what happens if you’ve thrown out said treasure.
Our Little Traveler
I can’t count the amount of times we’ve gotten onto a plane only to have a kind flight attendant give Coco a pair of wings and ask if it’s her first flight. The girl has flown more than nearly anyone I know but this year felt like a huge shift in what traveling with her felt like! After the pandemic that kept us at home, getting back into our travel groove left us feeling like newbies all over again but over the course of the last year we’ve experienced travel in a whole new way, thanks to Coco!
I remember when we went to Florida in the spring and it felt like the first trip that Coco would actually remember. The level of excitement upon arrival, the way she stripped down before the bellhop even left the room, excited to feel the ocean, the joy in ordering french fries for room service, the way we could watch a lizard scoot down the sidewalk with awe… it was like a new world was unlocked for her (and us!)
This year we got to travel as a family to Florida, New York City, Salt Lake City, and Arizona! Each trip more memorable than the last. I can not count the amount of times Coco’s first morning words were “When are we going back to Salt Lake City?” The best part? I feel like she remembers nothing about the city but it was the first hotel where she really enjoyed the pool after years of just dipping her toes on in and calling it good!
Going back to Arizona this month was so fun too! Around every corner, Coco would yell, “There’s my park, there’s the aquarium, I remember this!” Seeing how things came back to her and the excitement that brought her was next-level fun!
One of our goals for this year is to take her on solo trips, just one-on-one parent/Coco time! She totally comes alive having that one-on-one attention and since she’s proven she’s a great traveler, we’re excited to hop on a plane and do something fun with her! I feel like those would become core memories for her! So write that down as one of our goals for this next year!
A few of our favorite travel must-haves:
- Clothes organizers from Amazon: This is a swear-by thing I’ve been doing for years and it makes packing so much easier (you can just take these containers right out of the suitcase and pop them into the drawers once you arrive!)
- Headphones for the iPad: When we’re on a plane, all screen limits go out the door and now that our girl can sit for a full-feature film, traveling feels like a breeze! These headphones are the best and most comfortable and she likes to wear them!
- This swimsuit from Amazon: I ordered this on Amazon a while ago and when we’re on vacation, it gets put on every single day! I love that it’s long-sleeved (less sunscreen needed!) and it’s adorable!
- Her leather sandals: We get so many questions about these shoes (this is our second pair since she grew out of the first!) They are SUPER easy for her to put on and they are comfortable and adorable! She loves them because they match mommy’s!
- This water book: These suckers come in clutch and have saved us during travel days! No mess, fun, and we make a game of seeing how fast she can color an entire page and then how long it takes to dry!
Photos by: Angela Rose Gonzalez
Things I Never Want to Forget
This morning, I woke up to her little body snuggled next to mine and the first words that came out of her mouth in a whisper were, “I love you to the moon and back and always and forever, Mommy.” There goes all of my rules about co-sleeping, because if that’s how I’m greeted in the morning, sign me up. (I’ll leave the part out about how I had to pee so bad and she said, “I’ll come with you mommy!” There’s trade offs here, alright?)
I love her expressive dancing to anything Frozen and the way she makes us watch her intently as she drinks the milk out of her cereal bowl. I can’t handle when we go to wake Quinn up from a nap and she gently walks into the room and says, “Hiiiiii sweetheart, how’s my precious baby girl?” and the way she gently touches her sister’s face.
I laugh at the amount of times she wears her same two favorite dresses and all of the ways she creatively styles them. 90% of our photos of her from this year are in her favorite dresses — I promise she has other clothes, but these dresses are her favorites.
The way she knows herself and her body inspires me so much, like how she tells me “Mommy, I’m tired, you can go now” to kick me out of her room when I try to tell her the million ways I love her and she just wants to sleep or the way she takes “space” when she needs to decompress. She makes us immediately check her muscles when she eats anything green and is notorious for stealing whatever food I’m eating (after I’ve made her what she wants!)
I have an entire album of photos of her and her dad on the dates they go one, whether to the aquarium or the trampoline park. The amount of smiling selfies they have and memories they’ve made together is just the best! My favorite is when they swing and pick me up a caramel apple or a DQ blizzard on the way home!
Goodbye 3, Onto 4
I remember coming out of the “terrible twos” feeling unscathed and confident! Let me be honest that three was a little tricky! While somehow those blue eyes had us relishing in her cuteness by the end of the night and still talking about how much we love her, three was a bit… emotional. Have you ever heard the term “three-nager?” We had one of those at times. I’m hesitant to even include this because dang, I could celebrate that girl day and night, but in the spirit of transparency (and in the way we were a bit blindsided by what year three brought in a ways) I think it’s important to include that challenges of growing.
From challenging bedtimes to dropping a nap to multiple wake-ups a night, it felt like we had a new kid every single day. And while the overwhelming majority of the time was positive and amazing, there were definitely moments…. tricky ones.
I feel like I got a crash course in emotional intelligence, sent 8,000,000 gentle parenting Instagram posts with Drew, and logged into my toddler course more times than I can count hoping to find some answers to things like slamming doors. There were many times I was (literally) brought to my knees and just sat outside of a door with my arms open, ready for a hug whenever she was ready to climb into my arms. Somehow we’d always find our way back to each other, usually laugh through the tears, and apologize but yeah, it wasn’t always easy!
Somehow though, we made it, and as I type about it, it feels like a fever dream. If I’ve learned anything about parenting, it’s that everything is temporary and just when you get the hang of something new, it changes.
Something wild has happened in this month leading up to four, it feels like the maturity level has gone through the roof. She went from this little toddler to a young, confident, polite little girl and we went from being nervous that a meltdown could happen at any point to truly enjoy bringing her on our adventures. From things like long travel days to multiple errands as we prepare to move or little instances like her helping Quinn with her toys or snagging a clean diaper for us, she’s turned into a little joyful helper and it feels like a light switch went off and she changed.
I asked Coco 21 questions to get her current answers:
We only got 18 real answers here… lol.
- Favorite Colors: Red and Pink
- Something she loved doing this year: Playing in the snow with daddy.
- Did you go on any airplanes: I went on one with my family to AZ and it was super much fun.
- Favorite Memory: Making ornaments with Nana and Papa.
- Favorite Song: Beauty and the Beast
- Favorite Food: Pokey Eggs (Fried Egg!)
- Favorite Movie: Raya the Dragon and Beauty and the Beast
- Favorite Book: The Rainbow Fish because it has really shiny scales.
- Favorite Saying: I love you to the moon and back and always and forever!
- Best Friends: Arya, Summer, and Aggie
- What makes you really happy: Mommy
- What do you love doing with daddy: Going to Starbucks for cake pops and egg bites.
- Favorite thing to do with mommy: Going on dates for coffee and playing.
- What are you excited about right now: I’m going to have a rainbow unicorn birthday cake.
- If someone was sad what should someone do: Think about a rainbow!
- Who do you sleep with at night: Lovie, Uni, Skye, Uni #2
- What do you want for Christmas: A rainbow tutu and a green computer
- Tell me about your sister: Her name is Quinnie and she’s not a big girl yet, but I can’t wait to read books with her.