Elyse has been a balm. A balm to my memories and my worry. She has taught me what it can be like in the first year of life and shown me just how much trouble a mobile, precocious baby can get into. And today we celebrated one year with her.

As I thought about today and what our last year has been, I've realized that Elyse has changed me. Lauren changed me by forcing me into a place of honesty and openness and trust in the Lord. Elyse has changed me by softening the hard, broken edges that Lauren's first year gave me and rubbed them smooth like sea glass. While those qualities are still a big part of who I am, I feel like I'm gentler with them and the rest of my life has formed smoothly around them. 

Elyse has filled our lives with love and affection. She gives out hugs and cuddles on her terms but screams with joy when she sees any of us and beelines into Lauren's room every morning to spend time with her big sister. Lauren loves having a little playmate around but gets frustrated that Elyse always wants to play with her but doesn't understand that you don't play by eating all of your toys. Lauren smoothers Elyse with hugs which drives Elyse crazy in return because the hugs aren't on her terms. I love watching the two of them together and I do everything I can to ensure that I help them build a strong relationship that doesn't have competition but only support for one another. 

Elyse laughs so hard, especially when Matt gives her tickles. She is incredibly smart and loves to do things that make us laugh. She is fast, loves climbing and has a serious affinity for toilet paper, bunny rabbits and toys that make music. Elyse loves dancing, pushing buttons on our home phone, eating the remote control and using Austin like a pillow. She has a huge number of people that she feels safe with and looks forward to seeing. She refuses to leave an open dishwasher alone and loves being sung to. 

This year with Elyse has moved us further away from our time with Lauren and living in constant worry and fear. I feel like, on her birthday, she has given me the best gift of all by overlaying the harshness of my memories with Lauren with the softness of the memories that we have created this year. 

So thank you Elyse. We gave you the middle name Hope because we knew that would be what you brought to us. Thank you for making us a boring, normal family. We love you so much and you have made our little family complete. We would not be the same without you. 

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