Tuesday, January 31, 2012

traveling gets easier

Dear Em,
Sadly, our sunny vacation is coming to an end. We're flying home today. I can't wait to tell you all about our amazing Florida trip. We had just the right mix of relaxation & fun adventures.

I'm looking forward to home, but my heart is sad just thinking about the 30 degree cooler weather we will be facing at home. The weather here has been warmer than average. We've spent our days at the pool & the beach & the park & the outdoor shops. I forget how cold it is supposed to be in January...then I read a friend's Facebook post about skiing & I sadly remember.

I am happy to report that flying with you has become easier (knock on wood). Before we packed 57,000 things to occupy you & had to rotate every 5-10 minutes. This time we brought snacks, the portable DVD player, & movies. For the most part, you were happy & did well the whole time.

I can't tell you how thankful I am for that portable DVD player. Daddy & I had one to take with us on trips before we were married. It stopped working after a few years. Last spring we were scheduled to take our first road trip longer than two hours, & I bought a new one for the trip. I went with an inexpensive model since most reviews seemed to indicate that portable DVD players don't last long (especially when you mix them with kids).

We reserve it for long car rides & plane trips. We think it's good for to learn to entertain yourself & use your imagination on most car rides. However, for 2+ hour car trips & plane rides it's amazing to plop a DVD in & travel with smiles on our faces knowing that you have a smile on your face.

I hope our flight tonight goes the same way.

I love you so,

Monday, January 30, 2012

Goodbye Highchair

Dear Em,
We've passed another milestone. Before I left for my Denver trip, you said goodbye to your highchair & hello to your booster seat. It was a precious moment.

I was surprised by how excited you were about it. I mean, technically it's trading one seat that you're strapped into for another. You were thrilled to be in a big-girl seat & sit at the table with Mommy & Daddy. Instead of squirming when you were done eating, you sat at the table chatting with us. It's so amazing how little things make a big difference.

We're so proud of you & all the growing & changing you do everyday.

I love you so,

Friday, January 27, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
Last week an amazing & talented artist passed away. The world is a better place because of her & her music. My world is a better place. Her music gave words to a feeling I couldn't describe...after you were born.

"At last
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song

At last
The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you

And I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known

And you smile, you smile
Oh, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in Heaven
For you are mine at last"
- At Last sung by Etta James

I'm so thankful for Etta James, for her music, for her words. I will always smile & remember the first night I looked at my little love & held you to my cheek when I listen to this song.

I love you so,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

wild nights

Dear Em,
That is what your daddy & I looked like on a Friday night 10 years ago. I wouldn't have called myself a party-girl, but I did enjoy a get-together with friends. Your Daddy & I went to concerts, house parties, dinner, movies, & the occasional bar.

This was our past Friday night. The only traveling we did was on your plasma car (that thing is so cool, I would recommend it for kids & adults).

I traded in my cute-going-out clothes for sweats & toddler sunglasses.

We played Yahtzee & Sorry, watched Snow White, & ate popcorn. We were in bed before midnight. It's pretty typical of our Friday & Saturday nights now. Super lame, right? You know what, I wouldn't trade our nights for a million of the nights from 10 years ago. Kinda crazy how much changes in just 10 short years, right?

I love you so,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

goodbye snow, hello sunshine

It was jammie day at school today. Oh, & according to you,
that's not a bow on your head, it's your princess crown.
Dear Em,
Tonight we are leaving for the Sunshine State, & I can't wait to visit your Aunt A & for 70 & 80 degree weather. If you asked me about our trip yesterday, I would have looked a little panicked. You see, I am typically a planner, but this trip kind of snuck up on us. I feel like we just unpacked from our trip to North Carolina. Between the unfortunate news from my company, your double ear infection, my business trip to Denver, & our stomach bug weekend...I guess we sort of forgot about the trip. Well, the type of forgetting you do when you know something is coming up but think you have a lot more time before it does.

So having not packed or booked a thing other than our plane tickets, I picked you up from school yesterday & decided dinner had to be easy & quick. We went to McDonalds for the second time in your life. I was in the middle of ordering our meals when you piped in, "& we want a milkshake."

I feel like McDonalds gets a bad wrap. I'm not saying it should be an everyday meal, but it was such a fun treat for us. You danced in your chair while you ate your nuggets & asked me to dance too. The song, "Just the Way You Are" started to play & we sang it together. You gobbled up your nuggets, & had the biggest smile on your face as you drank your milkshake. Your face was so sweet when you encouraged me to have some milkshake too. Sometimes you're the most amazing sharer.

A man in a black & white football jersey walked by us on the way to get ketchup (I'm not sure which team it was for...maybe the Raiders?). All of a sudden you exclaimed, "look, Mommy, it's Tom Brady." A mother nearby stood between her arguing teenage girls. She rolled her eyes at her girls, smiled at you & said, "enjoy her while she's this size."

I can't tell you how much I do...enjoy you. You make me laugh & smile more than I ever thought I could. You simply amaze me. I loved our precious McDonalds moment. It was just what I needed.

With a smile in my heart, we went home & tackled packing. Not everything is going to be planned with this trip, but maybe a go with the flow kind of trip is just what we need. It will be an adventure, that's for sure, and adventures with you & Daddy are my favorite kind.

I love you so,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

our 15 minute snow adventure

Dear Em,
We spent an hour doing snow related activities this weekend. It took us 45 minutes to get ready & bundle up. We spent 15 minutes out in the snow. Most of those 15 minutes you spent crying.

Let me start from the beginning.

Our first real Rhode Island snowstorm came to us on the 19th of January, way later than usual (not that I'm complaining). Last year we had a long winter, full of enough snow for my lifetime. Our yard was pretty much completely covered with snow from December until the end of March. You waddled around in it a few times, but it was hard to really play in it. You had barely been walking & felt uneasy stepping in the deep, slippery whiteness. Your winter coat also kept you from being able to lower your arms completely. Needless to say, outside fun was a little awkward.

February 2011.
Now that you get around with skill & ease, your Daddy & I Santa couldn't wait to get you a sled. We wanted to enjoy winter together this year instead of just getting through it. We actually looked forward to snow. So, of course it didn't snow enough to stick to the ground until halfway through January.

It snowed Thursday night into early Friday morning. Seeing some snow finally cover the ground with a forecast for more, Daddy & I were so excited to take you sledding for the very first time on Saturday. Well, you went sledding your very first time at school that Friday (& painted in the snow, your school is so fun). I was kinda bummed Daddy & I missed that milestone, but wicked excited that you loved the experience. It was just about dark by the time we got home that Friday, & we put you to bed as you said "tomorrow I go sledding with Mommy & Daddy."

It took FOREVER to get all of our winter stuff out of the closet & bundle up. Seriously, forever.

Mid-bundling picture.
We finally got outside, all bundled & warm. We were excited for our first family snow & sledding adventure. Of course, you...hated...every...second.

You cried during sledding, screamed when we encouraged you to go down the slide, & whimpered on the swings. You didn't like the snow in your face, you actually didn't like it anywhere on you. You cried as the snow covered your mittens & asked me to "clean them off." I hoped that we could try again when the snow had stopped falling, & you would be more comfortable without it flying in your face. By then the stomach bug had wreaked havoc on our immune systems. Of course, now I hear the sound of rain drops. My hope of snow fun is being washed away as I type this.

You did enjoy the hot cocoa with Daddy after your 15 minutes of torture. I guess it wasn't a total loss. I guess there is still a lot of winter left. I hope this isn't the end of our 2012 snow story.

I love you so,

Monday, January 23, 2012

stomach bugs

Dear Em,
The stomach bug hit our house this weekend, & it hit us hard. You...Daddy...Me...the bug left no one in our house safe. This weekend was spent feeling miserable, getting sick, taking multiple baths (one of which occurred at 12am after I found you sleeping in your own vomit. You asked if you could call Nonnie & Papi during your bath. You clearly have no sense of time), cleaning & re-cleaning our bedding, watching movies, & crying.

Daddy was so sick, he didn't make it out of the bedroom on Sunday (except to be sick in the bathroom). So, it was sick me & sick you on Sunday, & you had strong love-hate feelings for me. In one moment you wanted me to hold you close & never let you go. In the next moment you were hitting me & telling me to get away from you. I'm not going to lie, I questioned my parenting skills 4,000 times or so.

You know, it's really hard to be a good parent to a child who is sick when you're sick too. I think there should be some kind of rule where you can't get sick at the same time as your children. It's got to be somewhere on a list of worst things EVER.

So, no pictures come with this post. Believe me, you don't want to see any. Thank goodness we all seem to be doing better today. Now I can tackle all the things that didn't get done during our stomach bug weekend.

At least we didn't catch the bug during our Florida vacation. There's always an upside.

I love you so,

Friday, January 20, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
I'm back. I can tell you for sure, home is in the arms of you & Daddy.

Even from the Mile High City, you were both on my mind. I was praying for you both (poor Daddy had his hands full with you being sick & cranky). I couldn't be with you (or even talk to you that much between the busyness of my trip & the time difference), but I was holding you both close in my heart always.

"So climb any mountain...
climb up to the sky!
My love will find you.
My love can fly!"
Excerpt from Nancy Tillman's Wherever You Are: my love will find you.

Although "wherever you are my love will find you," I like it best when we're together so we can snuggle. Your snuggles were the best welcome home present ever.

I love you so,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What I learned about Alzheimer's this week

Dear Em,
Who was it who said "your mind is a terrible thing to waste?" Our brains are such fascinating & amazing things. The things that our brains do everyday that we take for granted...it's pretty unbelievable. Someone with Alzheimer's knows how much we take our brains for granted. A caregiver of someone with Alzheimer's knows how much we take our brains for granted.

To watch someone you love lose their minds has to be one of the saddest & hardest things to endure. It's as if memories & moments are erased before your eyes. Losing memories are hard to watch for caregivers, but watching the person they love become aggressive & combative is worse. My heart aches for those with Alzheimer's as well as their loved ones. Have you ever seen or read The Notebook? I sob every single time. When I listen to caregivers tell their stories, it takes everything in me not to break down in tears & hug them close.

I've been studying Alzheimer's for over five years now, & yet there is still so much I don't know. Today I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Richard Issacson, a Neurologist & Alzheimer's specialist, talk about dementia. Here are some of the things he taught me today that I never knew before:

- 20 years ago, there was no pharmaceutical treatment for Alzheimer's disease. I really should have know this. I mean, it's not a secret. I knew treatments haven't been out forever, but to think it's been less than 20 years...blows my mind.
- Someday, maybe in the next 5-10 years, there may be an Alzheimer's vaccine (hopefully given later in life & not adding to what seems like 5000 vaccines given to kids aged 0-2).
- Dr. Issacson believes that music can help to delay the onset & progression of Alzheimer's disease dementia (so glad I listen to Pandora in my car all day & you & I sing all the time).
- There are chemicals released while exercising that Dr. Issacson believes could delay the onset & progression of Alzheimer's disease dementia (OK, another reason I have to get more consistent with my exercise).
- He has developed a diet plan that he believes aids in delaying the onset & progression of Alzheimer's disease dementia (he talked about decreasing carbs...not an option for me right now. I'm too much of a bread & potatoes girl. I wicked hope I never have to give up carbs).
- He believes that there is evidence to indicate that folic acid decreases the progression of Alzheimer's disease dementia (this was interesting to me, because the folic acid I took while I was pregnant with you surely didn't help me to think any clearer...not that I'm saying pregnancy is the same as Alzheimer's).

So, I said "he believes" a lot. For the most part, these are not facts that have been proven in large scale studies or approved by the FDA. They are just methods that Dr. Issacson has utilized in his practice & he believes to have found beneficial. In most cases, I take non-proven methods with a grain of salt, but his message was compelling.

If anything, I took hope in the fact that there are people in this world who are passionate about treating Alzheimer's disease. There are people looking for alternative options to treat a disease that currently has no cure. Maybe in the next 5-20 years, an Alzheimer's diagnosis won't feel like a death sentence. Maybe in the next 5-20 years, Alzheimer's disease won't seem so scary.

In the meantime, I'm going to try not to take my brain, as inadequate as it sometimes seems, for granted. I'm going to be open to the possibility that every day holds something new for me to learn. I'm going to remind myself that even my bad days are probably better than most days of someone with Alzheimer's (or his/her caregivers). I hope that you will too.

I love you so,

P.S. Dr. Issacson has written a book. I have not read it & therefore cannot vouch for it, but I'm thinking of adding it to my reading list for this year. It's only 9.99 for my Kindle & I'm interested in learning more about what he talked about today. Have you read it & would you recommend it?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Dear Em,
So, I've been in Denver for 24 hours now & have really only seen the airport, the taxi that took me from the airport to my hotel, & the hotel I'm staying in.  I've always wanted to visit Denver, & would love to sight-see a little, but it was a long day. I decided to pass up a night on the town in exchange for a night of room service & reading (I love room service after a long day). Do I sound wicked lame to you?

On the ride in, we passed the capital building. It was lit up like a gorgeous Christmas tree. I would love to see it in the daylight as well. I'm hoping to venture outside for sight-seeing tomorrow night. Any night-time suggestions?

Speaking of buildings, we've been having such a fun time building at home. Your Aunt J & Uncle N got you a set of Magna-Tiles for Christmas, & they have been fun for the whole family. These for sure will be one of our third year favorites. I love watching you build & use your imagination. You like to build towers, just like the one Rapunzel lived in. The Magna-Tiles are also fun for Daddy & I. The magnetic blocks make it easier for your little hands to build & make it possible to build such fun 3-D structures. I highly recommend them for any 2 year+ child (or adult).

Last week, you & I built a tower that was taller than you.

And then you "accidentally" knocked it down (knocking the towers down is your favorite).

Maybe when I get home we can try to build a replica of the Denver Capital building or some of the other buildings from the Mile High City. Or maybe we'll just stick with tall towers.

I love you so,

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Travel, Ear Infections, & Brownie Balls

Dear Em,
I'm in Denver this week for work. It was hard to leave. You woke up this morning with a fever, & Daddy took you to the doctor on his own for the first time. You have another double ear infection (your 4th since September), & we've now been referred to an ear, nose, & throat doctor. It's so awful to know you're in pain, but I hope we can work with the specialist to do what's best for you for the future.

It was heart breaking to hear that you had asked for me throughout the day, & you cried when I called to say goodnight. My voice was not what you wanted. You wanted all of me. You don't know how bad I wished I could reach through the phone, snuggle you tight, & wipe your tears. 

I called Daddy later to make sure you had fallen asleep. He said you talked in your crib, saying "I need Mommy to blow dry my hair. Daddy doesn't blow dry my hair." Little do you know, it was me who stole the blow drier for my trip. Whoops sorry.

If I was home to take care of you, I would make you your favorite: brownie balls. You don't really eat soup, so I'm sure chocolate is the next best thing. Brownie balls always put a smile on your face.

They are amazingly easy to make. So, I thought I would share the recipe. I got the recipe from our friend Kara. I'm not sure where it originated from.

Brownie Balls (AKA Oreo Truffles)
- 1 package of Oreos
- 8oz. package of cream cheese
- 1 bag of chocolate chips (I got the bigger bag & then froze what we had left) or almond bark or dipping chocolate 

Puree the Oreos in a food processor until crumbs. Mix the Oreos & softened cream cheese together (in the end, my hands worked best for this). Refridgerate for at least an hour. Using your hands, make balls about half the size of a golf ball. Roll balls in melted chocolate.

We have used both the semi sweet & the milk chocolate chips & prefer the milk chocolate chips. I don't have the proper pans to melt chocolate on the stove. So, I melted the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. I cooked it for 30 seconds, stirred, cooked it for another 30 seconds, stirred, & repeated until the chocolate was perfectly melty. I used two spoons to roll the balls in the chocolate.

For fun, I added chopped almonds to half the brownie balls to give them a little crunch...so yummy.

Maybe we can make some when I get home, & I will pretend that they are healthy.

I love you so,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Goodbye Overalls

Dear Em,
We hit another milestone. I guess it's not a real milestone, but it's a big milestone for me: your last time wearing overalls (for a while at least).

When I was pregnant with you, I couldn't wait to put cute little OshKosh B'Gosh overalls on you. You wore your very first pair before you were 3 months old. It was a cute blue, rose patterned pair of overalls, one of my very favorite hand-me-downs. Remember hanging out with your friends at the gym? Yeah, those were the days.

As you grew, your overalls grew too. We had overalls with a heart embroidered on them, overalls with a flower embroidered on them, pink striped overalls with an embroidered butterfly & finally overalls with hearts all over them. Your overalls were our fall, winter, spring go-to outfit. They went with almost any top. They were perfect for jumping & swinging & tickles & wagon rides & reading & crawling & climbing.

They were even perfect for matching overall days with your friends.

This summer, I went to the Carter's outlet. As I searched through the racks for a pair of fall/winter overalls, I noticed the biggest size was 24 months. What the heck?! Then I really thought about it. This year we would be tackling potty training, & I'm sure unclasping your overalls wouldn't make the process any easier. So, I bought you what I knew would probably be your last pair of overalls for a while, & planned to make the most of them this fall/winter.

Now that you're two, your overalls are starting to look a little short. I'm honestly surprised they lasted this long with how tall you are. So, last week I put your overalls on, & with tears in my eyes told your Daddy that this would be your very last time wearing them. Who knew saying bye to overalls would be so hard?

Sigh, I'm going to miss your overall cuteness.

I love you so,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
There will be times when change is inevitable. You know it's coming & yet it's still not any easier when it comes. While change is what makes life beautiful, it can also be what makes life hard.

On Thursday night, I received sad news about the company I work for. I knew it was coming for almost a month, but that didn't make it any easier to hear it out loud. My company is downsizing by over 60% by the beginning of April.

For the past 5 years, I've been proud to work for my company. Not every day has been perfect, but I've learned & developed so much as a professional. I've worked with some of the most amazing people who have become my friends & have taught me so much. There were things that I wanted to do professionally, & especially this past year, I was given the developmental opportunities to help get me to where I wanted to be.

Now, who knows. And it's kind of scary to not know what I'll be doing in a few months.

"You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. 
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back & sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind."
- excerpt from Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss.

So, I gave myself a whole day to feel sorry for myself, professionally speaking. I moped. I dwelled. I worried. I gave myself a day, but that's all I get. Worrying & moping & dwelling will do nothing to help the situation. It won't help me professionally, & it won't help our family.

So, today you & I are going to bundle up & get some fresh air. We're going to live this day & the next & the next. I don't know what is going to happen to me professionally, but I know God has a plan for me...for us. Things may not be clear or easy now, but we're going to figure it out. 

I know that as long as I have my family, I have more than most. We're going to be OK.

I love you so,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cyber Fears

Dear Em,
I spent last night watching the movies Cyberbully & Trust. Both movies gave me nightmares & made me wish you wouldn't have access to the internet until you are 30. I know that's not realistic, but it's scary. For a person who didn't have internet until college (except at some friends' houses) & didn't have a cell phone until I was in grad school, the cyber world for a teenager is a scary & new thing for me. It used to be that to keep someone out of your home, all you had to do was not invite them in. Things have so rapidly changed.

I know you're two & I have some time before we have to worry about cyber bullies & online sexual predators, but they're already added to my list of things I'm most frightened of (it's insane how much my list of fears have changed since becoming a mother). I hope that when the time comes, I will know what to do to best protect you as a parent. I hope I can protect & support you.

Parents out there, what are you doing to protect your kids?

I love you so,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2 Years of Stats

Dear Em,
I tried to keep up with your baby book. I really did, but I kinda stopped updating after month 3. Whoops. This has basically become your baby book & so much more. So, I hope you will forgive me for the empty pages that fill your baby book.

Last week, we had your two year check-up. This check-up brought a few changes. First, it's time to switch over to skim milk. The first year I listened to how important breast milk was, & your second year whole milk was a must. It seemed strange to so abruptly change over to skim milk, especially because I grew up on 2% milk. Well, we'll roll with it.

We talked about the reality that you will probably need tubes in your ears due to the number of ear infections you've had in the past few months & the difficulty your ears have draining fluid. As scary as that was for me to hear, I know that we'll tackle that when we come to it. I know we will get through it as a family.

You also had to get blood work for your second lead test. I dread blood work for myself, but for you it's my nightmare. It was so hard to hold you down while they stabbed you with a needle. How do you explain to a two-year-old what is going on? I mean, to you it must have seemed like your mommy, the person who is supposed to protect you above all else, was letting strangers hurt you. After I put you down to sleep, I cried about it. It made me really feel for the parents & children with medical conditions. I can't imagine doing that on a regular basis.

Your two year check-up was also your last check-up being weighed & measured on the baby table. You've grown so tall you just barely fit. It really made me reflect on how much you've grown in just two short years. I remember the first time we put your little body on the baby table & now you walk into your doctor's office like you own the place.

So, since this is your baby book, here is a recap on two amazing years of check-ups & growth & learning & laughter & love.

Height: 20.75 inches
Weight: 7lbs 10oz

1 week
Height: 21 inches
Weight: 8lbs 2oz

1 month
Height: 21 inches
Weight: 9lbs 6os

2 months
Height: 22.5 inches
Weight: 11lbs 6oz

4 months
Height: 24.75 inches

Weight: 14lbs 3oz

6 months
Height: 27 inches
Weight: 18lbs 3oz

9 months
Height: 29 inches
Weight: 20lbs 12oz

12 months
Height: 30inches (75th percentile)
Weight: 23lbs 8oz (80th percentile)

15 months
Height: 31.5 inches (75th percentile)
Weight: 25lbs 8oz (80th percentile)

18 months
Height: 33inches (90th percentile)
Weight: 27lbs 4oz (90th percentile)

2 Years
Height: 35.5 inches (90th percentile)
Weight: 28lbs 12oz (75th percentile)

525,600 x 2 minutes measured in love...& height & weight.

I love you so,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My very first drug deal

Dear Em,
Ok, it wasn't really a drug deal, but it started to feel like one. Let me start at the beginning. It was late December 21st. We were visiting with family in North Carolina. Most were upstairs sleeping. Your nonnie, aunt Jennie, aunt Gina, & I were in the living room.

Your nonnie asked what Christmas prank was planned for this year. She insisted we needed to have some kind of prank & we insisted that it was a terrible idea. Our Christmas pranks almost always end in someone crying.

There was the year your nonnie hid my camera, the only thing I wanted for Christmas or at all. I tried to plaster a big smile on my face once I had opened my last gift, the realization that I wasn't getting the one thing I truly wanted for Christmas sinking in. Your nonnie smiled as she urged me to keep looking until I finally found it wedged between the couch cushions. There was the year Jared cried because there was no playstation under the tree (this was after he had saved up his money for a year to buy one & nonnie had urged him not to get one because he might get one for Christmas). He still had tears running down his cheeks when she pulled it out of the closet.

I jokingly turned to your aunt Jennie & said, "we should borrow a neighbor's dog & tell Nick you got a new dog." Your aunt Jennie & uncle Nick have 3 large & very sweet black labs. They also have 3 cats. They've had birds & fish. Someday I hope they have a lot of land & start a rescue farm. They're amazing with animals. They take their dogs everywhere. Their dogs are like their kids.

They never tell us when they're thinking about getting a new animal. It's always a surprise to the rest of the family. We'll hear a kitten meow as we're skyping or they'll walk through my parent's door with their new puppy that they've had for a week. So, it would be funny for the family to know about a new animal before Nick did. Except I was still just talking about borrowing a dog.

I looked at Jennie, & a smile appeared on her face. I guess she had been talking to Nick about wanting to get a new puppy for a while. She started to search for puppies online. I went to bed thinking that it was such a fun idea, but there was no way she would be able to find a puppy ready to be picked up before Nick got there, the next night.

In less than 12 hours we were on our way to a Sam's Club parking lot in the middle of nowhere. Aunt Jennie had found a breeder online & had called that morning to ask if she could pick up the puppy that same day. The dealer breeder said of course & requested that we send him a text message with our car model & color & bring cash. Jennie didn't know this guy, so we recruited your daddy & uncle Greg to join us & make sure we didn't get kidnapped or worse (they may not look like body guards, but they were better than nothing). The Sams Club was an hour and a half away, & it wasn't long into the trip that we started to joke about how sketchy this situation could be. I asked your aunt Jennie if she was sure that the word "puppy" wasn't code for drugs. "You got the money? I've got your stuff," we joked.

We got to the Sams Club (which was truly in the sticks of North Carolina), & the breeder couldn't have been nicer. The puppy couldn't have been more adorable. The breeder listed health information for Jennie & gave her supplies while we snuggled with the puppy.

As we waved goodbye to the breeder, he simply said, "Be blessed & Merry Christmas." Clearly, the furthest thing from a drug dealer (not that I know very much about drug dealers). As we pulled out of the parking lot, Uncle Greg held up the bag of puppy chow the breeder had given us & said, "I've got the stuff."

The puppy quickly became a part of the family (your Papi kept sternly looking at Daddy & telling him that the puppy was going to go home with us to be part of our family...not a big fan of our Christmas prank). The puppy is so sweet, Uncle Nick immediately fell in love (& actually took the Christmas prank much better than any of us thought he would). He had brought Jennie one of the fake dogs that look like they're breathing as a Christmas joke. We all thought Jennie's prank was funnier.

You called him Jingle, from your favorite holiday movie Jingle All the Way. Watching the puppy run after you as you called, "come on, Jingle," made Daddy & I think about getting you a puppy of your own...for just a second & then I saw a flea jump onto my arm & that was the end of our puppy thoughts. How nice is it that we can have a home free of dogs but still have lots of puppy fun when we visit Uncle Nick & Aunt Jennie & their 4 amazing dogs?!

I'm sure we'll be talking about & laughing about how the puppy became part of our family for years. Except, I'm very very afraid of being the victim of the Christmas prank next year. Please, no animals!

I love you so,

Monday, January 9, 2012

A casual hula two-year-old birthday party

Dear Em,
Well, the recaps continue. We just did so much in December. I feel like I have a celebration hangover. I wish I could curl up on the couch for the next month & do nothing...but that's not going to happen.

While we were in North Carolina, you had a birthday party with your friends & family down there. Nothing fancy, totally casual (we save the big celebration for your summer 1/2 birthday party), & totally fun.

I made brownie balls (or Oreo truffles as most people call them) instead of the elaborate cupcakes we made last year. You've been on a brownie ball kick, & I ran with it. Everything else from the party I got from Five Below. It was inexpensive & it was perfect for you & your little friends: hula skirts, flower leis, bubbles, balloons, & silly string. It helped that the North Carolina weather was warm enough to play outside without jackets, & of course a brand new puppy (not ours, we'll talk more about him later) was a nice surprise for you & the kids to play with.

I had to wake you up from a nap, which is never a great idea, but the guests were here for a party for you. I didn't think watching you sleep was a very fun party game. You cried as I brought you downstairs. So, I quickly gave you a brownie ball & the tears stopped.

I had plans for beach volley ball & balloon volley ball, but we had so much fun with the bubbles & the silly string it completely slipped my mind. That's the great thing about party planning. No one knows what is planned except for you. So, if something doesn't go as planned, as long as everyone is having fun, who cares?

I may have accidentally shot you with silly string. You were not a fan.

I didn't even pay for wagon rides. Bonus!

You gave your birthday party two thumbs up!

Later that night, you opened your birthday presents from family. You now have Rapunzel everything, & you love it. You walked downstairs today telling me that you are the lost princess.

It was a wicked fun day filled with sweet friends & amazing family. Thanks to everyone who joined us to make the celebration so special.

I love you so,

Friday, January 6, 2012

love letters

Tickles from Papa.
Dear Em,
One of our new favorite books to read together is Tickle Monster.  It's such a fun, giggly book that leaves us smiling & breathless.

"Tickling my lovies is what I do best...
Are you sure you're ready for what's coming next?
I'm all in a tizzy, quite frizzy and dizzy,
My fingers are squiggly, your piggies are wiggly."
- an excerpt from Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett

I guess there are Tickle Monster mitts that you can purchase to go with the fun. You love to be tickled...& to tickle. Although your version of tickling us is just jabbing your fingers in our sides. Maybe tickle mitts are just what we need to add to our tickle fun.
from here.
Books that leave us all smiling are always my favorite.

I love you so,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Our little love turns two

Dear Em,
I had high hopes for your birthday. You were turning two, & I wanted your day to be so special. I had the day off. Daddy planned to finish work early so that we could open your presents together, sing happy birthday, & eat cupcakes before heading to Grandma & Papa's house for a fun celebration.

The night before your birthday, I asked you what you wanted to do on your special day. I listed things like the park & playdough, but you said you wanted to go shopping. Shopping. Really? OK. That was fine by me, I guess. I had a million after Christmas errands to run, but I was worried about how special running errands would be for you. It's what you picked, though, so I went with it.

The next morning (after we scared you half to death bursting in your bedroom to say Happy Birthday), I dressed you in your "2" shirt & pink tutu & off we went. It became evident in the first store that listening was not going to be one of your strengths that day. After wrestling my shopping list out of my hands (& screaming & whining until you had it in hand), you ripped it in half. Before we even got to the second store, it was clear the day was not going well. Luckily, I had a special surprise.

That morning I had asked you what you wanted for breakfast & you said "mac & cheese!" Panera has mac & cheese & I thought it would be special for us to go out for lunch, just the two of us. Fast forward to you throwing yourself down on the Panera Bread parking lot & refusing to walk. I thought maybe once you had some food in your belly, you would be more like yourself & the tantruming two year old I had spent the day with would be long gone.  We sat down to eat. You looked so adorable & so big as you sat in the booth opposite me & used the big Panera spoon to put your mac & cheese in your mouth. I felt the tension leave my body as you sat there so sweetly.

And then you spit out the mac & cheese & threw it on the floor (I guess it's just not Kraft mac & cheese). You spent the rest of the Panera experience making a cheesy mess all over. You stood on the booth & tried to dare-devil jump off of it. You slid to the floor & under the table (in the cheesy mess). You attempted to push your entire tray of food on the floor. When I wasn't shoveling my food down my throat as quickly as possible so we could leave, I was wondering where my well behaved child was & telling you not to do something or telling you I didn't like how you were acting or asking why you weren't listening to Mommy...& I was hating myself the entire time.

This day was supposed to be a special day. Instead, you were acting every bit like a two year old & I was telling you not to do something at every turn.

With cheese in your hair, we went home. You went down for your nap...except that you didn't. Instead of napping, you played in your crib. I laid you back down three times in hopes that after a nap, you would wake up refreshed. No luck. I had basically given up on you taking a nap altogether when you finally fell asleep 30 minutes before you typically wake up. Since you fell asleep late, you woke up late. This left no time for opening presents, singing, & eating cupcakes before heading to Grandma & Papa's. So, you woke up & we rushed out the door.

That night I confessed to your daddy that I was wicked bummed out by your birthday. I hadn't had big plans, but I had hoped for a special day. Instead, I felt like I had spent the whole day disciplining you. Your special day was just awful. I felt disappointed for you.

I asked Daddy if we could have a birthday redo, & he thought that was a great idea. Neither of us had to work the next day. On the day of your birthday redo we got to spend the whole day together, just the three of us. We opened presents. We sang. We colored with chalk & markers. We played with play dough. We danced. We ate cupcakes. We didn't leave the house. It was an amazing & special day.

Not every day will go as planned, my little love (especially during your twos), but it'll be OK as long as we have each other.

I love you so,
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