Dear Mackenzie,

This is your 19th month in this world and your 19th letter – but this time is the first time that I, your daddy, am writing it. You see, this month started out just like any other, but about two weeks ago our life was thrown into turmoil when we had that big, bad car accident. Thankfully, all of us made it out of the wreck but your mommy took the brunt of the impact for us. So you will have to deal with me writing to you this month since spending a lot of time on the internet still isn’t in the cards for her just yet. But she is starting to look like a living being again and she is coming on some walks we take with Ayla – so she must be feeling a bit better every day.

Before the accident I was your “daddy” but now I’m your “DADDY!” – even though you have started calling me “Mama”. We have spent the last two weeks joined at the hip – from the moment I unbuckled you from your child seat at the crash site until now. You and I were thrown into a pretty sticky situation when your mommy was moved to one hospital and we went to Heilbron to a special kids trauma clinic. I know how I was feeling at the time, so I can only imagine what was running through your head. Physically, you didn’t have a scratch. Your hospital release papers mentioned a bruise on your calf, but honestly I think that stemmed from the many falls you are taking around the farm practicing those walking skills.

Speaking of which – when you where examined by the doctors they where puzzled by how your knees became injured like that in the crash. They were very relieved when I told them they looked that way because you grow up on a little farm spending as much time as possible outside playing. Apparently most other kids these days don’t play outside much anymore, because the sight of scuffed up knees seemed totally foreign to these doctors. Rest assured, scuffed up knees heal. Both your mommy and I had plenty of them growing up.

The emotional pain of the crash took you much harder. Everything at the crash site was fine, you didn’t even cry until you saw that mommy’s ambulance was going one way and we were headed the other. Your life centers around your mommy and being in that scary hospital with daddy was just not your thing. Grandma many months ago has said “You guys really should see that the baby gets a bit more focused on her daddy as well – what if Tiffany one day can’t take care of the baby”. Yep, moms are always right – don’t you already hate that too? Trust me, it’s a good thing.

Thankfully I had the basic care instructions for you down pat and was able to pull your diaper bag from the wreck – at least that part wasn’t a problem. But the worry about your mom and all the people prodding you and sticking you with needles while we were at the hospital was just was too much for you. The first 24 hours you cried almost constantly, only interrupted when you sobbed yourself to sleep. Somehow the only place remotely good was with your face firmly pushed into my chest. The nurses were kind enough to bring us a “mother-child” bed/crib thing for the two of us to sleep in together. Neither of us slept for more than a few minutes at a time that first night, but I think the quiet time just cuddling all night was good for both of our nerves.

By the second day in the hospital, things were looking a lot brighter. Grandma and Grandpa had brought some essentials for us and after a healthy portion of hospital pasta, you actually dared to move about a foot away from me. You still missed your mom dearly and kept asking for her – or was that already the point where you started calling me momma? By the end of the second day it was becoming obvious that you didn’t have any damages from the accident and the hospital allowed us to go home on the third day.

Your world returned to normal only when your mommy came home from the hospital two days after us. Before then, even at home, you had a lot of separation anxiety and only kisses from the Newfie seemed to cure your fear about exploring the courtyard by yourself.

Even though your mommy has been home for almost 2 weeks now, I have continued playing Mr. Mom because your “real” mom really isn’t in the shape to do much of anything yet. And honestly, I have no idea how your mommy does it. Running this little farm, tending to the animals, taking care of you, cleaning, cooking, running her online businesses and this blog. Pssst, don’t tell anyone I think your mommy is super-woman.

You and I have been spending a lot of time together, walking the dog, playing in the courtyard and wrestling on the couch. In this short time you have truly become daddy’s little girl. Before, we had a bond but now this bond has become stronger than ever. I love those moments when you walk up to me while I sit on the couch, crawl up (you have gotten so good at that this month) and just give me a hug or a little kiss. Or even better, sometimes (and not nearly enough) you climb on my lap and actually hang out for a little while to cuddle.

By the way, you already make sure when you do give kisses that everyone is taken care off. If you give me a kiss your mommy gets one too – or the dog, cat, teddy bear or whatever/whoever is around you at the time. That is just one of the cute little things you have started doing this month. “High Fives” and “Fist Bumps” are another – yep, I might be “Mr. Mom” right now but I’m still your daddy and it’s my duty to teach you stuff that might not be No. 1 on the list of important life lessons to learn but sure are fun.

You are getting really good at eating and to this day I believe you haven’t found a food you didn’t like – except for maybe the breakfast they served in the hospital;  that was just simply disgusting to begin with. And once again at the fault of your daddy, you are already taking after your grandpa and me who are quite addicted to candy. I’m not proud of it, but from the first time I snuck you a teeny-tiny piece of chocolate many months ago I have created a junkie. The mere sight of some of your favorite candy (Milka Chocolate in it’s purple wrapper and Haribo Gummy Bears) in sales fliers is enough to make you excited. It might be your daddy that’s in control of the kitchen at the moment, but I am way too scared of mommy’s wrath to give in to all your candy urges. Thankfully you still prefer any kind of fruit to candy, so when you get a few slices of apple, nectarine or especially mango instead of candy you still enjoy them just as much.

A few days ago an elderly neighbor we call “The Teacher” came by and brought you a stuffed teddy bear and a few other toys. You love all your “poo-bas” (Thank you Disney, now all bears are Pooh-Bears) and are quite protective of them – especially when it comes to Ayla. It’s understandable, we all know what she does to her stuffies. I was working in the mudroom right outside the kitchen when I heard you almost frantically calling for your Mama and saw you dash to the living room. A few seconds later you returned, still calling for Mama. At this point I knew something was wrong – you were standing there pointing at Ayla, who was just prepping your Bear for surgery by giving it a good licking. Thankfully Papa was there to intervene before the surgery started in earnest. You gave that dog a good scolding and the upset tone of voice when you said “Ay-la” still makes us chuckle.

You might be smaller than the dog and weight less than 20% of her, but you know she is your puppy. You have started to use commands with her like “sit”, “down” and “up”. Unfortunately the dog doesn’t seem to understand you because she usually just stands there looking at you funny. Just keep working with her, she is a stubborn puppy and it took mommy and daddy quite a while to get her to the point where she listens to us. Just keep clear of her hind-quarters. She has a pretty big booty and when that tail gets going, it is out of control — so you better watch out. You learned to find something to hold on to very quickly after the tail knocked you off balance a few times.

I know this is getting to be a long letter and I promise I am almost finished, but I just need to mention your vocal skills. You are picking up more and more words these days and, coupled with all the signs you have picked up, it is getting easier to communicate with you. We have gotten used to your pronunciations of a few words, such as “iiiiiihhhh” (baby), “bip-bup” (flip flop) and “bi-bi” (piggy), but two days ago when we returned home from the evening walk with Ayla you threw out a word that we have not been able to identify since then. That word is “Boo-jaa”. When you said it the first time you spent about 15 minutes running all over the court yard repeating it over and over. A serious head scratcher. At first we thought you meant “Balloon”, but we quickly realized that the word for that is “Looooooone”. Perhaps one day you could let us know what that word actually means as for the past two days it has become a frequently used word in your limited vocabulary.

Not knowing a lot of words yet is not holding you back from talking. You love to read books for us, even though the words out of your mouth sound a lot like “Potayeto, potahto, bubishoo” the stories you tell are riveting. We just have to make sure we don’t make your mommy laugh to hard; it still hurts her ribs.

We have also practiced a lot more German lately, but you just can’t seem to get those words out of your mouth. I concur, German is a difficult language with lots of complicated syllables. You do your best to imitate the words but somehow they words come out jumbled. My personal favorite is when we put on your pants. I say “Ein Bein” (One Leg) to get you to stick your legs into the pant leg. The leg motion – not a problem – the vocal part only comes out as “Bibbi”. “Noch ein bein” (One more Leg) you pronounce as “Awah”. Close, but no cigar kiddo. No worries though, you will learn that too one day soon.

These past two weeks with all the bad that has happened in it were the best thing that could happen to you and I in terms of the bond we formed. It is tough for daddies when they only get to see their children during the weekend and perhaps an hour or so at most on weeknights. You are such a smart and sensitive child that knows how to behave herself well already. You are definitely wise beyond your uhmm…months and have shown time and time again you know when it’s crazy time and when it’s time to “work together”. By the way, thank you for listening to simple instructions like “go sit on the stairs so we can put your shoes on” – it makes life so much easier for us than chasing you around.

You are already a polite child and have started using the hand signals for “please” and “thank you”, as well as actually saying “thank you” . For now it’s “duh duh” in your language but we know what you mean.This actually brings me to a few things you need to work on. Being a little kleptomaniac is definitely  NOT cool. Phones, wallets, Pens, keys, etc. Nothing is safe from you. If it’s missing, one better check Mackenzie’s pockets. What does this have to do with being polite? Just a little while ago you stole a pen right out of my hand as I was jotting something down. But you did say thank you as you made your get-away. So far this behavior seems to be confined to just our stuff, not things from other people or god forbid stores but I’ll be watching you little girl – like a hawk.

Another area we need to work on is your daredevil behavior – sure, it’s fun to climb on stuff, after all your mommy and daddy can’t wait to take you rock climbing for the first time, but it’s also dangerous. The same goes for running on the couch a new trick you picked up as soon as you managed to get up there by yourself. It nearly gives your parents a heart attack when you do that. When you are just about falling down tired is when you seek that shot of adrenaline the most. A word of advice, peak athletic performance is not reached in those final 10 minutes before you are ready to zonk out. What it does lead to on the other hand is many near spills and hectic jumps from your parents who are acting as your spotter.

Since I am not as talented at taking pictures as mommy and quite honestly didn’t even think about taking pictures the last few days there is not as many as usual. I hear on good intel that mommy can now lift her arms over shoulder level again without pain, so it shouldn’t be long until that black contraption is glued to her face again.

Mackenzie, you are developing so great and we thank God every second of the day that nothing happened to you during the accident. You are an amazing little girl that is showing more and more of her personality each day. You are so free spirited, mature and inquisitive – I sure hope you keep that up as you get older.

With all my Love,

Daddy

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