Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Overalls

Dear Em,
I never realized how amazing overalls were until there was you. You have always been the cutest thing I've ever seen (I know, I'm slightly biased), but when we put your baby legs into some overalls, I was sure cuteness had reached a whole new level. So stinkin' cute!

But then potty training came along. The overalls would have been too tough for you to take off & put on back then. The possibility of no longer changing your diapers won out against the extreme cuteness of overalls. I tearfully said goodbye & put away what I thought would be your very last pair of overalls.

But then I picked up a cheap pair of overalls shorts for Hickfest this summer. They were basically going to be used as a costume, & I figured I could help you take them off & on if it was only for one day. But then you did something amazing. You showed me how you can take them off & put them back on all by yourself.

You guys, our overall days were back on!

Today is Grandfriends day at school, the perfect occasion to unveil you in your new pair of overalls. The adorableness was almost too much for me to take this morning. You kind of rolled your eyes at me. You wold much rather be wearing a dress or a skirt or a ballerina tutu. 

I know I was being kind of ridiculous. It's just that each stage goes by so very quickly (& yes, I consider overall-wearing a stage). I'm always forced to gear up for the next stage of your childhood before I'm ready to say goodbye to the last ever fleeting stage (except for in the case of potty training, we were way ready for that). Having an only child, I'm not naive to the fact that once we move on, we never go back. So, if you could just give me my overall obsession...for a few more years at that I can savor every last adorable moment of my little one in overalls while she's still little- well, that would be amazing.

I love you so,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

the most important part of learning

Dear Em,
I swear I blinked in September & this fall was almost over. You finished another session of swim lessons. I feel like it was just yesterday that you walked into my parents pool & doggie paddled yourself to the ladder, & now you're jumping off the one meter diving board without a swimmer. But I digress...

We finished your first set of swim lessons in June & decided to take a break from lessons for the summer. When you started lessons again this September, I couldn't believe how much you had progressed with your swimming over the summer. We got a family pass to the URI pool (purchasing a family membership with swim lessons was the same cost as purchasing swim lessons without a membership), with the plan to go to the pool as a family on Friday nights to practice what you had learned in your previous swim lesson. I hoped it would be an active way to spend time as a family & reinforce what you were learning in lessons, but a strange thing happened. You started to regress.

This summer you were swimming from one end of the pool to the other, but this fall you could barely swim a couple body lengths. What the heck?! Your swim instructor said something about you bending your knees too much as you swam. I was convinced the more we practiced, the quicker you would strengthen your swimming skills. But all the practice didn't really seem to be helping, & you hated our one on one practice sessions. You just wanted to play in the pool.

Swimming on your back is pretty much your favorite.

In exasperation, I stopped trying to train you. I decided after this session of swim lessons we'd take a break & regroup. We continued to go to the pool on Fridays, but just for fun. Your little best friend joined us for most of our pool nights, & you loved every second of it.

It's a funny thing when we just let you be you. Suddenly, you were back on track. I saw you progressing in your swim lessons again, learning to swim a little further, float a little longer, & even jump off the one meter board without a swimmer. Clearly I had forgotten about the most important element of learning: having fun. I thought I had been helping you by trying to practice your swimming skills, but really I was just sucking all the fun out of swimming for you. These past few weeks I let you focus on learning during your lessons, but our Friday nights at the pool have been all about fun.

Most importantly, I watched you love swimming again. I'm glad that we were able enjoy these precious moments as a family together. I've loved to watch you jumping & splashing & squealing & swimming with happiness (even if part of the time you're tantruming because we've told you pool time is over). I'm glad we made our way back to that place of fun.

I love you so,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DIY Fall Wreath

Dear Em,
I love seasonal wreaths. They can bring such warm, natural accents to a home. I've been crushing on a few autumn wreaths recently. The only problem is they're pretty pricey. With the holidays on their way, a super expensive wreath is not in the budget.

So, I decided to get my craft on & make one myself. I headed over to Michaels. Even wreath making can be pricey. Items from the Floral & Decor section of craft stores can quickly add up to lots of money. Luckily, it was after Halloween & all the Christmas decor was already out. Fall decor was 80% off. Pair that with 20% off your total purchase & 40% off one non sale item coupons, & I bought $100 worth of materials for just over $17.

Here's what I used...
- Grapevine Wreath
- 2 different kinds of bunches of autumn colored leaves
- Glue Gun & sticks
- Door hanger

There are many different kinds of wreaths to start with as backings. I went with a grapevine wreath, because it was less expensive than many of the other options. It wasn't as fancy, but it had the natural, rustic look I was going for.

When it comes to wreaths, I like a simple look. Some of the seasonal wreaths I've seen are a little too much for me with glitter & bows & 5,000 different elements. Oh my! I like wreaths that are simple & natural, although not completely natural. I've seen wreaths made with real leaves (& we had beautiful ones in our yard), but I wanted a wreath that we can reuse throughout the years rather than one that would only last us this season. For the sake of simplicity, I only grabbed two different kinds of leaves to work with. I bought 7 or 8 bunches of bright, yellow leaves (I put them on top of the grapevine wreath while in the store to estimate how many I would need to cover the wreath). Then I grabbed a couple bunches of the maple looking leaves that would provide red accents.

I cut the bunches of yellow leaves into smaller segments, leaving just an inch or so of the stem in each small bunch. Then I loosely placed the leaves around the wreath. I wanted to get the spacing just right, before I permanently tacked everything into place. I originally thought I would use the glue gun to glue down each piece, but I soon realized each piece fastened well just by shimmying the stems into the grapevine wreath.

Once I had the yellow leaves spaced out along the wreath just right, I began adding the red leaves here & there. I like how placing the red leaves underneath the yellow leaves provided little pops of red without overpowering the whole wreath. Since I was working with single leaves at this point, I used the glue gun to securely fasten them. Then I gathered the single yellow leaves that I had left over & filled in any empty spots I could see.

In a little less than an hour, I had the rustic, natural look I wanted for a fraction of the cost of seasonal wreaths I had been crushing on.

I love the bright, cheerfulness it brings to our front door. We've already had snow flurries & the majority of the bright leaves in our yard have faded to dull brown colors. Our wreath celebrates our love for New England's autumn colors the whole season long. It's like a coming home to a warm smile, one that we can reuse year after year. Not bad for $17.

I love you so,

Monday, November 17, 2014

First Family Hike

Dear Em,
We woke up on Saturday morning with no early plans for the first time in a long time. We leisurely snuggled & watched cartoons in bed for a while before enjoying breakfast at Daddy's restaurant. I would have relished a whole morning spent at home, just the three us us, but I'm also very aware that "winter is coming." We had our first flurry last week. Our time outdoors in the sun is limited. So, I suggested a family hike to take advantage of what was a beautiful day.

This was our first family hike. I'm kind of embarrassed that you're almost five, & this was our first family hike. Daddy & I love hiking. Our favorite spot is just 15 minutes away from our house, but I think it's much too challenging for you at your age. Even on a trail that isn't at all challenging, Daddy & I worry about you hiking. The thing is, you have trouble walking. You just have a really hard time watching where you are going. You're too busy looking at everything else...& walking into walls & tables & doors. Daddy & I were nervous about taking you on your first family hike, but at the age of almost five, it was time to bite the bullet.

We went to the Francis Carter Memorial Preserve in Charlestown, just down the road from where we live. Daddy & I had hiked its trails once before you were born, & it's a fairly easy spot. You were very excited & began the hike with enthusiasm. "Let's go, hikers! You can do it! Come on, hikers!" You cheered us on as we started the hike. It was incredibly adorable.

The trails were covered in leaves, making it sometimes hard to see the path. You had no clue where the paths actually were & often walked through small brush & sticks. Daddy & I encouraged you to identifying the trail by looking for where the path was cleared, you know, the areas that aren't filled with brush & sticks. We also taught you how to look for the trail markers. You continued to frequently make your own trail, but you did well for the most part.

Although it was your first family hike, you developed in your role very quickly. "I'm the Scout Leader," you very solemnly announced to us. You went from novice hiker to Scout Leader in less than 15 minutes. Soon, our Scout Leader (& you referred to yourself in the third person as "Scout Leader" for the rest of the hike) became very cautious about danger. You let us know that we were hiking deep into "Danger Forest." You stopped us approximately every 35 seconds so you could stand on rocks to "check for danger." The trail seemed quiet & pretty enough to me, but you very seriously told us we were heading towards...gasp...danger.

Just as we expected, you fell down quite a few times. I worried each time that we would be rushing you to the hospital with broken bones, but after each fall you bounced back up with an "I'm okay" to put my worried face at ease. You actually hiked well, scaring any possible wildlife away with your loud chatter. Your excitement over the hike & your vivid imagination put a smile on my face the whole hike.

In between numerous stops for danger checks & small rock climbs, we hiked almost a mile along the yellow trail. You were disappointed when we announced that it was time to turn back. You wanted to hike the blue trail & find purple & pink & gold trails. You were enjoying your role as Scout Leader & wanted to discover more of the "dangerous" trail. I held your hand on the way back, hoping we could pick up our pace a little & minimize the stops to check for danger. You enjoyed hiking hand in hand with me & decided you were ready to share your scout leader role. You gave Daddy the title of Mini Scout Leader & myself the title of Scout Leader. You joyfully announced that we were Scout Trooplets.

By the end, you were reciting troop mantras/prayers you had made up. You made me repeat after you. "Scout Leader Trooplets always pray their hay & thank God for this wonderful world. Amen." Your little legs were tiring as we made our way back to our car, but you fiercely told me "Scout Leaders never give up."

"I think we need to enroll her in girl scouts," Daddy smiled. I feel as though in an hour you made your very own scout organization. I'm so thrilled you enjoyed our first family hike so much, & that hiking is something we can now share together as a family. I've always loved hiking, but hiking with you will puts an even bigger smile in my heart.

I love you so,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Boston Museum of Science

Dear Em,
One of the things I love most about Rhode Island, is it is situated in the middle of two of our country's biggest cities, NYC & Boston. In just a couple hours, we can reach either mecca of culture & activities. You were less than six months old the first time you went to Boston, mine & Daddy's favorite city.

Your Aunt Jennie & I took you on the subway & on a small tour of Boston that ended at the Museum of Science. We had to pack 35,000 baby items. In fact, we needed a stroller, back pack, & Baby Bjorn just to carry it all. Getting it all through the subway was quite the challenge, but I couldn't wait to take you to one of my favorite museums. Except, you were much too young to understand or take part in most of the exhibits. Still, Jennie & I loved spending an active day with you & you slept soundly all the way home. We all slept soundly once we got home.

We went back a couple years later. You were older & able to take in & interact a lot more. Still, you were a toddler who needed daily naps. Unfortunately, the Museum of Science doesn't have a nap area (I'm joking...kind of). By the end, you were in major meltdown mode & we vowed to never skip your naps ever again (although, we continued to make the mistake of skipping naps & then paid for it more times than I like to remember).

When your Uncle Jared mentioned he had never been to the Boston Museum of Science, I knew we had to squeeze in a trip this Fall. Luckily, the Patriots were on a bye this past Sunday. You & Jared watched movies in the DVD player while we drove into the city. We skipped the subway this time & conveniently parked in a garage located right next to the museum. 

One of the many benefits of having a Roger Williams Zoo membership, is it also provides us with a membership to the Boston Museum of Science. Our admission was totally free. Instead, we splurged on  a show in the five story IMAX dome screen.

As we walked into the museum, I noticed families leaving with small children that were throwing themselves on the floor tantruming. I remember breathing a sigh of relief that we really didn't need to worry about that anymore. You are a perfect age for the Museum of Science. It's a place where learning & discovery & fun all come together for the old & the young. You loved exploring each exhibit. We were able to talk to you about why & how certain things worked. The interactive exhibits were our favorites, & the Museum has added so many new ones throughout the years.

In four hours, we had gone through so many educational exhibits, taking breaks to eat & enjoy the IMAX documentary about pandas (we're kind of obsessed with pandas now). It was a lot of walking & learning & fun & discovery for a little four & a half year old. You started to get a little snippy, & we could sense our time was running short. We took you to the interactive play area. There is a track for running, an area for spinning, a beach ball to hover, swings for swinging, & a sea-saw to balance on. Jared put you on the spinning contraption & spun you so hard, you spun right off. At that point, we reached nuclear melt down mode. I had to laugh at myself as I escorted my crying child out of the Museum, just like the parents who were escorting their tantruming children as we arrived. So much for not having to worry about that.

Meltdowns & all, we had such a fun family day. I'm so glad this museum has gotten to be a part of your childhood (at such an affordable price) & hope we will continue to learn & discover & explore in the years to come. Although...I could live without the Museum of Science meltdowns.

I love you so,
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