Ashley is a Christian missionary working with YWAM in Australia. She's married to Robbie, and they are both committed to the call of God on their lives to serve Him in the nations! Ashley loves teaching and discipleship and often writes about the character of God, fear of the Lord, and obedience to God. Add in a dose of DIY, photography, reviews and recipe recommendations and you've got ashleywillingham.com!
Just before we went on holidays, I had the privilege of taking some newborn photos of the beautiful Evie Davies. It was such a great experience for me, and Evie definitely wins the award for most cooperative newborn. She did so well! She has two big sisters, Ellie and Hannah, as well as her amazing parents, Kyle and Sally, and with all of them combined, we were able to get some pretty great photos of their family of 5. Thanks again Sally for the opportunity!
As you can see, I am a bit late in writing this post about Eleanor, as I meant to do it at 21 months. Things got pretty busy, though, and to be honest, the thing that was holding me up was taking photos of her for this post. I wanted to take specific photos just for this, but I was doing so many other photo shoots and prep for them that I didn’t get around to it. Eleanor was an excellent little model for me, though, when I was preparing to take photos of the af Petersens’ family, so I got some photos for this blog. I am also planning to publish some blogs that I’ve been meaning to write lately in the next few weeks. So, stay tuned!
Highlights & Milestones
I last wrote when Eleanor was 18 months just after the New Year. Her development has exploded since then, particularly in the area of speech/vocabulary. I went to her 18-month check-up, and they told me she should be saying about 10 words or so at this point. I sort of laughed because it seemed like Eleanor was already saying twice that many people’s names, let alone words. She’s a talker for sure, and particularly in the last 6-8 weeks, her vocabulary is amazing us. She not only knows heaps of words, but she is putting them together now into 2-4 word sentences. She is starting to repeat new words more clearly, and she randomly showed us that she can count to 10 a few weeks back (although she has an aversion to the number “7” for some reason).
A couple times in the last several months, Eleanor’s sleep has gone from pretty good to amazing, and we relished in those fleeting days of 7am wake-ups and 1.5+ hr naps. She seemed to time her progression into this extremely well, though (hint my sarcasm here), as both times she has done this have been in the couple weeks leading up to a big change – aka Daylight Savings Time and traveling internationally. Overall, though, our once fickle sleeper and relying on bad habits to sleep baby is a pretty great sleeper, and for that I am really grateful. She goes to sleep without a fuss for most naps and nights, and even on our current trip to the states, her routine has transitioned pretty well (aside from a few middle of the night wake-up-and-plays).
Eleanor’s canine teeth have mostly come through – just waiting on the final one. I will be so glad for the day when she is done teething. (Just in time for our new baby to start getting teeth probably…sigh) She has that last canine and then her 2-year-old molars to go. For Eleanor, she has tended to get all of the same type of teeth at the same time. She doesn’t spread them out. Go big or go home right?
She is still a very active and energetic toddler. She is often on the move, loves to go outside and run around, and has to have her fill of people each and everyday. With her increased vocabulary, it has become a little easier to know what she’s wanting. She still has your standard meltdowns and tantrums, and funny enough, they mostly seem to be about food. She is such a good kid, though, and she has such a sweet heart.
One of my favourite things she did these past few months was learn to pray. When I had my 3+ week sinus infection/migraines happening, Robbie taught her how to pray for my head. She put her hand on my cheek and said “Je-us better”. She has since learned to put her hands together and close her eyes, and she really concentrates. She has such empathy for others, and it’s been a beautiful part of her little soul to discover.
A major milestone for Eleanor in the past few months has been starting daycare one day a week. I put her name on a waiting list at some point last October/November, not really anticipating she would get a spot anytime soon. We got a call in January, though, and she started in February. I was so nervous about it at first because she can get quite clingy with me, and we hadn’t had much success with leaving her with many others or at church creche at that point. I slowly transitioned her into a full day over several weeks, and she seriously loves it now so much. She loves her teachers. She loves playing outside. She loves the art projects. She even takes naps pretty well now. I feel confident in taking her there one day a week, and it’s been so timely with this second pregnancy and being able to not just rest but to accomplish a bit more that can be challenging with a toddler running around. My heart practically jumps out of my chest each week when I pick her up, and she squeals “MOMMY!!!” with a big, goofy grin. We have noticed how much it has affected her trust in being left with others now as well. You can see she understands when I leave her with a friend for an hour or so and tell her I’ll be back soon. You can see it “click” in her little mind, and she is totally fine. In fact, just a couple weeks ago, Robbie and I were able to leave her for the first time in the church creche while we both sat and listened to the sermon. It was awesome.
We also turned her carseat around a couple weeks ago as she finally reached the shoulder marker. She absolutely loves facing forward, and we all call it her “big girl seat” now.
Daniel Tiger – current tv love, and we are pretty ok with it
Friends – she cannot get enough of her little friends, and she gets so happy to see them
Fruit – she loves bananas, watermelon, and melon in particular
“Ring-around-the-rosy” and other little interactive songs
The moon and stars – every night she is looking for them
Her Lucy doll
“Cooking” in her kitchen – she’s always making cookies
Painting, colouring and playdough
Helping me in the kitchen – she’ll come in and say “CHAIR! CHAIR!” so she can see what we are doing
Veggies of course
Moving cars – I am ok with this btw
Being chased or “approached” by anyone she isn’t super familiar with
How Am I Doing?
I am doing pretty well now that I have finally hit the “sweet spot” in pregnancy – past the yuck of the first trimester (+extended sinus infection sickness) but not quite to the huge, whale stage. I am really enjoying Eleanor right now. I have always enjoyed her, but I feel like lately, I am noticing moments more and just staring at her and wanting to kiss her a hundred times. I love her cuddles and her empathy and her little voice and so much more. It’s seriously such an incredible gift to be a mum. I know I haven’t felt that in every moment of everyday, but I feel like I am “noticing” or “remember” that more lately. Maybe it’s the second baby coming. It’s a weird thing to think about adding another to our family. We are thrilled, and we cannot wait to meet our little man. I am so aware that my days with just Eleanor and I are fleeting, though, and there is definitely something bittersweet about that.
We are currently in the States for a holiday, and it’s been so good already to see Eleanor interact with family at this age. I am enjoying being here in warm weather again as well. Other than that, I have been doing a lot more photography – shoots, as well as learning and developing – and I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed photography more at any other point in the journey. It’s such a different feel this time around, and I am loving it and learning new things all the time. It’s also been such a great outlet for me during the week, and I hope to continue growing in it.
I did my first photo shoot since posting about building my portfolio here. My lovely friends Fred and Jules volunteered their family, and I was so grateful because I haven’t taken photos of such a big family before. They have four beautiful teenagers, and we had so much fun galavanting around the Newcastle Foreshore on Monday afternoon. This family is so near and dear to my heart. They’ve been here at YWAM Newcastle for 20+ years, and their commitment to God is beautiful and inspiring. I’ve gotten the privilege of working with both Fred and Julianne at different points over the years, and I also got to have Siri on the dance team with me back in the day when I was the dance team leader. (Yes, you read that right…it was hilarious) Kiah is one of Eleanor’s favourite people at the moment, and she enjoyed following them around to see what they were doing during the photo shoot.
Thanks again af Petersens family for letting me take some photos of your beautiful family!
*Jules is a little out of focus in this one, but I just love the three girls together so I had to include it!
Hi! I am Ashley - a Christian missionary, wife to Robbie, mum to Eleanor Hazel, organised-creative, traveller, coffee drinker, and ponderer. You can read my full bio on the "About Ashley" page. Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet!