Friday, March 30, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
Remember when I talked about posing for pictures on the Runaway Bunny at Wilcox Park in this post? I can't wait for you to find The Runaway Bunny book in your Easter basket this year.

The other day you told me you were going on an adventure "by myself!" I assume this was prompted by a Super Why episode where pig wants to go on an adventure on his own. Every day you do a little more yourself. Independence & stubbornness bud & grow every day. I look forward to what you will become, & yet I can't help but fear your teenage years & wonder if your independence will take you, my best friend, far away from us.

Just know, wherever your independent adventures take you, I will be there. I will be your biggest cheerleader during your triumphs & a ready shoulder during your failures. Even when we aren't together, I carry you in my heart. There is not a place far enough to keep you from me.

"Once there was a little Bunny who wanted to run away. 
So he said to his mother, 'I am running away.'
'If you run away,' said his mother, 'I will run after you.
For you are my little bunny.'"
- The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

I love you so,

Thursday, March 29, 2012

a lot changes in 10 short years

Dear Em,
This is my best friend & I.

We used to call her J-Lo, but you know her best as Auntie Jayme. We had some crazy times together in college, some crazy times that will remain unspoken. We met at URI & learned that we had lived only twenty minutes away from each other when we were in high school. There were many, many road trips down to South Jersey together for school breaks & weekend visits.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Oops, it's almost Easter

Dear Em,
This year Easter kind of snuck up on me. Here I was thinking that we had almost a month to go (I'm not sure why I thought that). Then a friend reminded me this weekend that we only have one more weekend before Easter weekend. Whoops. For most people reading this, having a week & a half until Easter still seems like a good amount of time. But I'm a planner & I've planned NOTHING. I haven't planned your annual sit with the Easter bunny. I hadn't planned what Easter Egg hunts we'll go to. I haven't even taken down the St. Patty's Day decorations. Sigh.

When I did get my head in the game, I quickly went online to see when the Westerly, RI Easter Egg Hunt is. We went last year. It was so sweet, so well organized, & you had a blast. The hunt is held at Wilcox Park & is free. Sadly, we can't go this year. It's this Saturday, March 31st, at 1pm. We'll be at a bridal shower celebrating one of our favorite brides to be.

If you're reading this & live in the RI/CT area, it's definitely something to check out. Last year was a little chilly, but we put your pink coat over your yellow easter dress, grabbed your basket, & met up with one of your best friends & her mommy. We ate lunch at Pizza Place in downtown Westerly (I love the downtown shops & restaurants) & then walked across the street to Wilcox Park for the hunt.

When we got there, we realized we were a little late. The Easter Egg hunt for the 1-2 year olds was already underway. I was a little bummed. There was another hunt for the 3-5 year olds (& also the 6-8 year olds), but I was afraid you would get trampled. There were a lot of kids, & parents have to stay on the sidelines while the 3-5 year olds collect eggs. As we were walking over & deciding what to do, 2 eggs fell out of a little toddler's basket. The toddler & the parent didn't mind the missing eggs & kept walking. That's when you stooped down & picked up your very first Easter Egg. You held it up & really studied it before putting into your basket & then picked up the second egg.

There was a photographer who happened to be standing near us who caught the whole thing. I'm so glad, because these photos are so precious to me.

You were so excited about your two little eggs & you wanted to hunt for more. So, we decided to brave the 3-5 year old Egg Hunt. Your little friend was in that age group & promised to look after you. I planned to keep you close to the side so I could swoop in quickly. You didn't need a lot of eggs. You just wanted the experience.

I prepared for a trampling stampede & was posed to run out & snatch you up when needed. I was ready for a scene from Lord of the Flies. Surprisingly, it wasn't mass chaos at all. There were A LOT of kids, but there were also A LOT of eggs. Even without the parents guiding the kids steps, the kids did great. You had a blast & so did your little friend S.

Once the Easter Egg Hunt was done & your baskets were full, we stopped for some pictures with the Runaway Bunny. I didn't know the story back then, but the book will be in your Easter basket this year. I have a feeling The Runaway Bunny is going to be a family favorite.

You actually both fell off this bunny moments after this picture was taken. You were sliding & little S went down right with you, because she would not let you go. So sweet, but just another example of bad parenting (on my part) for the sake of a cute photograph. It is cute though, right?

So, that's why I'm sad we'll be missing the Westerly Easter Egg Hunt this year. Last year was so precious & special. When a friend called me later to tell me that the cutest little one year old was on the front page of the newspaper, it was just the icing on the cake.

I guess this year we'll have an Easter Egg Hunt in our yard for you & your little friends. Hopefully, we can make it back to Westerly next year.

I love you so,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

getting tubes

Dear Em,
It feels so weird to let go of all of the stress we've been carrying around for months. You had 6 ear infections in 6 months. You've had constant fluid in your ears since September & your ears probably haven't popped since. You've had 6 rounds of oral antibiotics that have been so hard on your GI system. Your hearing is borderline "not good." We've seen your pediatrician 6 times & a specialist once. We've gotten the overlap of tylenol & motrin down to a science. As scared as I was for you to go under anesthesia & have tubes put in your ears, we all hope it will put an end to the constant pain you've been in.

Yesterday, my alarm went off at 6am. I laid in bed saying silent prayers for a little while before giving myself 20 minutes to get ready. I check your video monitor, & it broke my heart to see you sleeping so soundly, knowing I would have to wake you up. I plastered a smile on my face, opened your door, & whispered good morning. You turned & twisted & stretched in your cute little way. You had a sleepy, bewildered look & a cute little pout. I quietly pushed away the fear that if things went wrong, this could be the last time I watched you wake.

I scooped you up & told you that you were going to get to wear jammies all day. They had asked that we dress you in comfy clothes that didn't need to be pulled over your head. All I could think of was zip up footie jammies. You were excited when I told you to pick whatever pair you wanted. You chose a pink pair that was covered in cupcakes & were so excited to tell Daddy all about them when he came in to give you a kiss on the head.

You asked for a sippy & I felt like an awful person to tell you no. You weren't supposed to have anything to eat or drink from midnight on. You cried, probably hungry & thirsty, as I buckled you in the car. I wanted to sit down & cry myself. Instead, I got into my seat, took a deep breath, started the car, & asked you what kinds of cupcakes you had on your jammies.

We said our morning prayers & you talked about cupcakes for most of the ride to the ENT Center of Rhode Island. We had the choice between taking you to Hasboro Children's Hospital & the ENT Center for your procedure. The benefit of the ENT Center is they only do scheduled surgeries for the ear nose & throat. The hospital does all surgeries each day in order of importance. There was more of a chance we might get bumped if a more serious issue came in at the hospital. The ENT Center also had an earlier availability. So, we chose to take you there. I'm so glad we did. We've never been to Hasboro so I can't speak to any experiences there. Our experience at the ENT center was overwhelmingly positive. Each & every staff member was so kind & thoughtful & understanding. We were amongst many patients, but I felt like we were always treated as if you were the only one.

The only thing was that you didn't know where you were going. In between a cute discussion about cupcakes. You told me that we were going on a trip. That's when I told you we were going to see a doctor to help with your ears. You started to whimper. Seven doctors visits in 6 months will do that to you. I told you the doctor was going to help you to feel better & I would be with you the whole time. That's when you remembered reading books at our last appointment. You asked if we could read books. I told you "sure," & hoped there would be books. You were again happy & went back to talking about cupcakes.

We checked in, & I filled out some paperwork. They gave you an ID bracelet (similar to what we both wore in the hospital when you were born). Then we headed over to the waiting room. You were sad to see there were no books, but I had episodes of Super Why loaded onto my phone & you were happy to watch those. That's when I noticed all of the people in the waiting room. I noticed a woman with tears in her eyes come in & sit down. Minutes later, I saw the doctor come & tell her that the procedure was over & her child had done well. I watched the woman blink back tears & understood that I would be that woman soon. I don't know what you understood, but you had one eye on Super Why & the other eye watching the people in the waiting room.

We were called back to a room & a woman named Lynn weighed you, took your blood pressure, & recorded your heart rate. You were happy to participate. She was amazing with you. She noticed the stuffed animal you were holding & asked you it's name. You proudly held up your Lamby. She made Lamby his own ID bracelet so he could have one just like you.

We walked across the hall to another room. It was a large room with a number of areas divided by curtains. In each smaller area there were two chairs. We took off your jammies & put on a hospital gown, a hat to hold back your hair, & cute little socks. I put on a hospital gown over my clothes, covers for my shoes, & a hat for my hair. Even in the stress of it all you looked so cute, I had to take a picture. When Lynn came back, she suggested getting a picture of the two of us.

After that it was time to wait. We could see families waiting in the similar small areas in front of us & to the side of us. I suggested we watch some more Super Why. You watched for a moment, but I think this is when you realized it wasn't a regular doctor appointment. Maybe it was the fear you could see in the other parents' eyes. Maybe you could see the fear in my eyes. You wanted out of the hospital gown, out of the socks, & off with the hat. You wanted me & you wanted to go home. You asked me so many times to go home, it broke my heart.

I just tried to smile & soothe you. I held you close in my arms. I bounced you. I sang to you. Another woman came by & brought a DVD player playing a princess Barbie movie. It drew you in for a few minutes at a time, but still you just wanted out of there. You cried most of the time the anesthesiologist talked to me & again when your doctor came by to ask if I had any questions.

Then I was greeted by a smiling & familiar face. Another Lynn whose husband I work with. I told you she was an angel who had come to help you through everything. She & another woman led us to another room. I felt my knees go weak when I read the name plate next to the room we were walking into, operating room one. They opened the doors & there stood a large hospital bed covered in white sheets. There were all kinds of gadgets & monitors along the wall. I think I forgot it was my role to be the mom & put on a strong front at that point. I couldn't think of anything other than the fact I was carrying my little love into "operating room one." I stood there holding you, probably looking weak & bewildered & scared. 

Thank God for the amazing people who work at the ENT center. They pretty much held onto my shoulders & guided me into the chair next to the bed. They had big smiles on their faces & asked you who you were holding. We told them he was your Lamby & showed them his ID bracelet. This happened while the doctor walked in & they rechecked your ID bracelet & repeated what the procedure was going to be.

Then they did the sweetest thing. They gave you a mask to give to Lamby. You held it over his little nose & then they took out the mask that would give you your anaesthesia. They asked you if you liked cherry & told you the mask smelled like cherries. You were calm while they held the mask to your face & talked to you about what your favorite color was.

I almost held my breath, afraid that if I breathed any of the cherry smell in, I would pass out. I turned my head to the side with my cheek pressed against the back of your head & gave you a million kisses. When they started to take you from my arms & put you on the large table, I had a hard time letting go. Your little eyes weren't even closed. I was ready to bolt myself to the chair by your side, but they instructed me to give you a kiss & ushered me out the door & to the waiting room. The woman ushering me was so kind. She just kept saying I did a great job.

I couldn't get away from her fast enough. I didn't feel like I did a great job. I felt like I barely kept it together. There was a burning fear in my chest. I practically ran past the waiting room & into the bathroom.

That was when & where I lost it. I broke down. Not the pretty kind of crying. It was the ugly kind of sobbing that you can only do when you feel helpless & worried that you might lose what you love most in the world. I gave myself just a moment, prayed harder than I've ever prayed, wiped my face off, & left the bathroom. I texted your Daddy that you were in the operating room & I was waiting. He called me immediately to ask how the morning had gone, & I heard the shakiness in my voice as I told him about the previous hour. I promised him I would let him know as soon as you were out.

No sooner had I sat in the waiting room & read the same paragraph on my kindle 4 times when your doctor came out to say the procedure was done. I felt a huge weight leave my shoulders. I had probably only left you in the operating room ten minutes before, but those were ten of the longest minutes of my life. Your doctor told me the procedure had gone well & you were headed to the recovery room. She gave me a bunch of instructions about your care going forward that I immediately forgot. All I could think about was that you were ok & how much I wanted to hold you (luckily they had all of the instructions written out & ready to give to me later).

A woman came out & called for "Emma's family." She told me you were in recovery, just waking up. As we walked over to recovery, there were a few beds. I franticly searched for yours. I had to get to you & kiss you & tell you how amazing you are. I found you just as the woman started chuckling that we could see your pig tails sticking out over the bed rails.

They told me I could pick you up, & I don't think I've ever scooped you up so quick. You were drowsy & confused & clung to me with little whimpers. Someone wrapped a blanket over you & led us to a reclining chair. As we sat together, I gave you a million kisses. I thanked God for being with you (& with me) & for that very moment.

They offered you a popsicle. The nurse who offered it to you said she had heard you like pink & made sure she had a pink one for you. She actually apologized to me that it was a little on the red side. All I could think of was "how does she know Em's favorite color?" I was so thankful & overwhelmed by her amazing kindness. Even though you were still in a groggy state, you grabbed the popsicle from my hand, told me you wanted to do it yourself, & hungrily ate (you hadn't had anything since 6pm the previous night). Once you were done, you asked for some juice. That was when I heard it, our song. "Just The Way You Are" (I talked about it in this post) was softly playing on the overhead speakers. I hugged you in close thinking how many more times we would be able to sing that song together.

Then we had a ten minute conversation about popsicles. You whimpered as you asked me if you could go home & have a red popsicle. You sighed in contentment when I told you "of course." Ten seconds later you asked me, as if for the first time, if you could go home & have a red popsicle. The little boy recovering next to you refused to eat or drink anything. You, on the other hand, had 2 popsicles & 2 glasses of juice before they told us we could go home (that's my girl!).

On our way home, you were strangely quiet, still, & staring. I called your name a few times just to make sure you were conscious & breathing. You shot me an annoyed look after the second time & gave me a mere grunt that said, "just let me be" in response. We dropped off your prescription & headed to the grocery store to pick up popsicles while we waited for your prescription to be filled (the prescription was for antibiotic ear drops, otherwise they said to take tylenol as needed if you were in pain). Then we headed to Dunkin Donuts to get a donut for you & a bagel & tea for me (I had also gone without food figuring it wasn't fair to eat if you couldn't). You took only one bite of your donut (which is typically your favorite) & left the rest for me. All you wanted was popsicles.

Once we were home, you ate 2 more popsicles & started to seem more like yourself again. You watched Super Why while you cared for your baby dolls before taking almost a 4 hour nap. Your sweet best friend S came by with her Mommy & baby brother to drop off a Get Well Card & gift. It made my heart so happy to watch the two of you play together (even if you were a little crankier than usual).

Daddy made cupcakes for us all to end our long day. We used Cool Whip instead of frosting & topped it with a cherry for you. In your cute cupcake jammies, you ate your "favorite" cherry cupcake that you had talked about that morning.

Still smiling, even after the longest day.

Watching you sleep soundly on your video monitor last night was the sweetest thing. It meant we made it through the day & it meant you weren't in any pain. I was finally able to let it all go & relax.

Em, I am so amazed by you. Your strength & resilience at the young age of 2 is awe inspiring. You've been through so much & I couldn't be prouder of how you've handled the past 6 months. It was a long road, & I'm glad we all made it through it. I'm hoping being on the other side of tubes in your ears comes with so much less pain & frustration for you.

I love you so,

* Readers, thank you so much for your prayer, kind words, & well wishes. We've all be surrounded by so much support the past 6 months, especially the last month. Words cannot express how much your kindness has touched us all *

Monday, March 26, 2012

you have tubes

Dear Em,
Your tubes are in. The procedure went well. You did great. So, great. Holding you in my arms while you woke up, all groggy with anesthesia, couldn't have been sweeter.

I'll talk a little bit about the experience in my next post. For now, I'll just leave you with our conversation on the way to the ENT Center this morning.

Em: "Mommy, cherry cupcakes are my favorite." They asked us to dress you in something comfortable but not something that had to be pulled over the head. So, we picked your pink footie pajamas with different kinds of cupcakes covering them.

Me: "Oh yeah?"

Em: "Yes! So, I will have a cherry cupcake & Daddy can have a green cupcake. But you can have a cherry cupcake too."

Me: "Thanks, Em. You're the best. Hey, can we say our prayers for today?"

Em: "Ok."

Me: "God, help us to have a great day."

Em: "God, help us to have a great day."

Me: "Watch over me & keep me safe."

Em: "Watch over you, & keep you safe."

Me: "No, Em. Watch over you & keep you safe."

Em: "Keep me safe."

Me: "God, help me to feel better soon."

Em: "Help you feel better soon."

Me: "No, Em. Help you feel better soon."

Em: "Help me feel better soon....but Mom, we can't eat these cupcakes. They're on my jammies, & we can't eat my jammies. That'd be silly."

Me (with a smile in my heart): "Yes, yes that would Em."

I love you so,

Friday, March 23, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
On Monday you're scheduled to get tubes in your ears. Yes, it is surgery. Yes, they will put you under anaesthesia. I hope I don't show it to you, but I am frightened. I know that it is a routine 15 minute procedure. I know that you will feel so much better than you have been as you battle through ear infections every month & the antibiotics plague your digestive system. I also know life is so fleeting & things happen. So, I am frightened. I can't even think about it without tears rushing to my eyes.

They will let me come into the operating room until they put you under. One of the doctors that I work with told me not to do it. She said once you go under, you will look like you're dead & that image will haunt me forever. I just can't leave you, though. I can't let you go into an unknown room with strangers & feel like I abandoned you. I know you probably won't remember it, but I will.

So, I'm going to think of you sleeping & I'm going to think of The Kissing Hand during the 15 minute procedure when I can no longer be by your side. The book was a gift from a friend, & I've cherished it. It's the book I read to you over & over before I went back to work. It's the book I read to you before I had to go away for my first overnight work event. It's the book I read to you before you started your first day of school. It's the book I'll be reading you all this weekend. It's the book I'll be thinking of as I sit frightened & praying in the waiting room on Monday.

"'I'll show you.' Mrs. Raccoon took Chester's left hand and spread open his tiny fingers into a fan. Leaning forward, she kissed Chester right in the middle of his palm. 

Chester felt his mother's kiss rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart. Even his silky, black mask tingled with special warmth.

Mrs. Raccoon smiled. 'Now,' she told Chester, 'whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, 'Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you.' And that very kiss will jump to your face and fill you with toasty warm thoughts."
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

I love you so,

* Readers, please keep Em in your prayers on Monday. *

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Dear Em,
Last week Daddy & I had Indian food for the very first time. It was wicked yummy, & I'm excited that we have another type of food we enjoy. We met up with some of our best friends from college at India in Providence. As first timers to Indian food, our friends chose India for the menu selection & beautiful decor.

When we drove up, I was sad to see there was no parking lot. I'm not the greatest parallel parker. At least one passer by was laughing at me. Sigh. We somehow got the car parked & stepped inside. India is beautiful. Candles everywhere. Gorgeous artwork. A large screen with Bollywood movies playing. On Thursday, Friday, & Saturday nights there are also belly dancers (which I've been told belly dancers don't actually come from India). They sat the eight of us in the middle of the restaurant, right below the screen.

There was a Dinner for Two special. It included one appetizer, two entrees, & a bottle of wine for $35.99. Not a bad deal at all, but we had a gift certificate which couldn't be used with the promo. So, we just used the gift certificate (I wanted a glass of sangria anyway, the red sangria hit the spot).

I like trying new foods with people who have already tried them. Our friends were great about suggesting foods to try. We started with appetizers. The Vegetable Samosas are turnovers stuffed with red bliss potatoes, peas, herbs & spices, topped with tamarind chutney (I can't see or hear the word chutney without thinking of the show New Girl & Shimidt's hair chutney).  We shared them & each of us had half a Samosa. It was a fun blend of flavors & a great first bite of Indian food. After this we shared a platter of naan. I have had naan before & love it. It's a bread, how could I not love it. The platter included naan with fresh minced garlic, spicy chili cilantro, fresh ginger root & honey (a table favorite), basil pesto, hot & spicy vindaloo, and onion & cilantro (my favorite). We tried to keep some to eat with dinner, but it was so good the platter was nearly gone in minutes.

Next we chose our entrees. Daddy & I both decided that if we were going to try Indian food, we were going to go for the curries. At India, you can choose from five sauces & then pick which of the nine vegetable/meat/seafoods to have with them. I was torn between the Saag curry & the Masala curry. The Saag curry is a spinach based mild curry with cream & flavored with minced onions, ginger, & garlic. I would have paired it with paneer, a Persian cheese. Spinach & cheese...mmmmm. I wanted more of a spicy curry, though. So, I went with the the Masala curry, a tomato curry sauce with cream & flavored with ground cardamom & fenugreek herbs. I paired it with channa, or chick peas. The swirl of flavors was so good. The chick peas were a great pairing with the curry (thanks, Jay!). It had a kick to it that grew over time, but overall the level of spice was quite mild.

Your Daddy got the Vindaloo curry, their hottest tangy curry sauce with chunks of potatoes spiced with hot chili powder, paprika, black pepper, cloves, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, & jalapeno peppers. I think he topped it with the chicken (I'm actually not sure). Daddy likes things spicy, & I wasn't surprised he went for the spiciest curry. I tried a bite. Again, I tasted a perfect blend of ingredients & spices. It's like nothing I've had before, but the flavors just seemed to belong together. As with my curry, the spice of the Vindaloo curry seemed to grow in my mouth for 30 seconds or so. My eyes actually started to water a little bit & I had to sip my sangria. It was hot, but I still loved it.

Daddy & I each ate half of our entrees & were stuffed. I was worried I would have to be rolled out of the restaurant but happy to take leftovers home & enjoy the food all over again the next day.

We had a fun night with amazing friends. I'm so glad they were there for our first Indian food experience, & I'm glad they suggested India, a place we're sure to return to. In fact, we already have a gift certificate for next time.

I hope someday you'll enjoy India food with us. For now, you're getting better (last night you ate bangers & mash), but you're not there yet.

I love you so,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

are women worth less because they don't ask for more?

Dear Em,
I read this post written by someone who hires people for a multinational tech company. The hiring process at the company is identical for males & females & yet women are paid 65%-75% less. Why? Because the males typically negotiate their salary while most females take the first offer.

This kind of makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me sick to my stomach, because I know that I have accepted a first offer. I have my MBA & I've accepted a first offer. Augh.

I'm a sales person. Yet, when it comes to my personal life, I feel uncomfortable with negotiations. I'm sure often times, I pay more for things because of the fear of negotiating. What am I afraid of? Being laughed at? Angering someone? Being embarrassed? I'm not sure exactly. I guess I just grew up feeling like a sticker price meant more than it does.

The author of the post made some good points.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for more, it's not insulting or in any way going to affect your ability to be hired (we can always say no)
  • When you ask for more, give a number! If you let me pick, I will continue to lowball it.
  • Ask for raises, confident people get them more often than high performers in a heavy bureaucracy.

Happy hunting, and please, next time we meet, negotiate with me!

I read this a couple months ago & keeping thinking back to it as I face the possibility of having to negotiate for a new job. I hope that I can know that I am worth more. I hope that I can do better than I have done before.

I hope that by the time you enter the workforce, you know that you are worth more & you're not afraid to ask for it.

I love you so,

* Readers, what do you think about this? Have you taken the first offer or do you always negotiate? Are there any strategies you would suggest? *

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

spring is sprung

Dear Em,
Happy first day of spring! We're having the most amazing spring weather. Yesterday we stopped by the park on the way home. You had so much fun twirling & whirling & bouncing & climbing & swinging & sliding...all with no coats on, just your glittery sunglasses.

When I think back to last year at this time, I can't believe how much you can do so independently. I just know this is going to be a great Spring...& a great summer will follow.

I love you so,

Monday, March 19, 2012

skinny jeans & athletic legs

Dear Em,
So, I bought my first pair of skinny jeans. I never thought I would own a pair of skinny jeans, but I have boots I would like to wear with jeans & it's hard to zip them up over non-skinny jeans. Why did I never see myself in skinny jeans? Well, I have what I would like to refer to as legs with an athletic build. Am I saying I'm athletic? Heck no.

If we could just size parts of our body, my legs would always be a size or two large than my waist. Going boot or jeans shopping is a frustrating & exhausting experience. I seriously leave stores sweating & feeling like I've just completed some kind of work out. Trying to squeeze my calves into boots that fit my feet but not my legs is really hard work.

So, yes, I bought my first pair of skinny jeans from Gap. I have to slowly inch each pants leg up my legs as if I were putting on a pair of tights. After much effort, I get them up to my waist. After that, I'm continuously pulling them back up to my waist because they are at least 2 sizes too big in that area (the jean skirt I bought the same day was four sizes smaller than my pants).

It's not really fair. The other day you yelled, "Mom, my pants hurt." I saw that your jeans were hugging your belly a little too tight. It took me minutes to let out the adjustable band in your pants. Without even breaking a sweat, your jeans were transformed into your size.

Why don't women get adjustable waists too?

Many of you are probably thinking. Why not just wear a belt? I feel like belts work best when your shirt is being tucked into your pants. Otherwise, they're bulky & look awkward. Since I can't remember the last time I tucked my shirt in, I'm going to go with someone needing to invent women's jeans with adjustable waists. Or at least invent jeans for the athletically inclined legs.

Sigh. Is it weird to say I really hope you get your Daddy's legs?

I love you so,

Friday, March 16, 2012

Our Irish-Grams

Dear Em,
St. Patrick's Day is a holiday we take pretty seriously in our house. If nothing else, it gives us a reason to dress you up, do a photo shoot, & make fun crafts. This was our first year making crafts together, but the last two years we gave fun magnets with your Irish cuteness to the grandparents.

St. Patrick's Day 2010

St. Patrick's Day 2011

This year along with pictures, we included your artwork in our Irish-Grams. We put your photos into a $.50 shamrock frame that I found at Michaels & then got to work. The moment I said the word "stickers," you were in your chair ready to make art. You covered your papers in shamrock stickers & then colored with markers. I was thinking green marker would be most appropriate, but of course you wanted to color with the pink one.

When I was at Michaels, I also found a cute door hanger kit. All the pieces were cut out of foam, & we just had to glue them together. It was a fun little project, & you loved playing with glue.

We had a fun afternoon making our little Irish-Grams. I hope they're a fun surprise for your grandparents.

At least we know there won't be any pinching tomorrow. We'll be decked out in green at our house, & we have the cutest little leprechaun living right here.

I love you so,

love letters

Dear Em,
This month, you're exploring Dr. Seuss at school (every month you have a theme, last month was donuts). Today is Green Eggs and Ham Day, & your class is all supposed to wear green in honor of Green Eggs and Ham (It's also St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. Can I tell you how stinkin' cute you are when you say, "Hey! I is Irish!" Seriously, I love you so).

While Green Eggs and Ham goes along with the upcoming holiday. It also goes along with your take on food. I can't tell you how many battles we've had over you just tasting food- food that once you taste, you really like. You remind me so much of the character in the book who refuses to try green eggs & ham. I feel like Daddy & I have started to sound a lot like Sam I Am.

"You do not like them.
So you say.
Try them! Try them!
And you may."
- from Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Is it strange that I am comparing our family to a Dr. Seuss book? I guess that's why I love this book so much. I seriously, giggle a little thinking of Daddy & I trying to get you to eat your food on a bus or a train or a tree or a boat.

We've finally settled on, you need to try your food. If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it, but you do have to try it. If you won't try your food, we don't make a big deal, but we also don't give you other options to eat. Little by little you're getting better & better. I think we've all been surprised by some of the foods you've tried & liked. At least the list of things you will eat is finally growing.

So, happy Green Eggs & Ham Day & happy St. Patrick's Day. Tomorrow you are having a special sleepover with Grandma & Papa while Daddy & I check out the Newport festivities with friends.

Of course, not before giving you lots of kisses because you're Irish.

I love you so,

Thursday, March 15, 2012

when you leave your plans behind

Dear Em,
New England is made up of a bunch of small states. That's probably why it doesn't just feel like Rhode Island is home, all of New England is our home. Daddy & I have spent much of our childhood & adult years exploring Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, & Maine. So when we took you on your first trip to New Hampshire, it was like taking you to visit another piece of home. Daddy had spent his fall vacations in New Hampshire & I had spent my summers there. We couldn't wait to take you to the places we had grown to love.

While we've had so many fun adventures throughout the country, this fall Daddy & I decided to take our first vacation just the 3 of us. We chose the last weekend in September, hoping it would be prime leaf peeping season. Daddy booked a condo across the street from Loon Mountain (a two bedroom condo ended up being about the same price as a hotel room). We had plans to take you to Santa's Village, do some biking, & do some hiking. We had taken off Friday to make it a long weekend. We hoped to drive to Santa's Village Friday morning, spend Friday there, check into the condo that night, & spend the rest of the weekend in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

Well, everything didn't exactly go as planned. We woke up Friday & dressed in Christmas colors (I was not going to miss an opportunity for early Christmas pictures). 5 minutes later, you threw up all down your clothes. We put you in the bath, & while we were cleaning off all the puke, you had diarrhea (TMI? sorry). Poor little munchkin. Daddy & I looked at each other (after Daddy cleaned the bathtub, I have a very weak stomach) & talked about what we should do. Should we cancel? After a little while, I decided that we could be sick at home or sick in New Hampshire. So, we might as well be sick surrounded by amazing foliage.

So, your outfit of the day became your jammies (still holiday themed), & off we went.

You did really well during the drive up to New Hampshire & kept food down when we stopped for lunch. We decided to keep our plans & go to Santa's Village, a theme park where it's Christmas every day. Since we had left much later than originally planned & had taken more stops during the ride up, I checked my IPhone to see how late Santa's Village was open. Guess what? It wasn't open at all. While they're open daily in the summer, from Labor Day to Columbus Day, they only have weekend hours. Whoops. So, we decided to try Santa's Village the next Day & just head directly to the condo.

We arrived at the condo an hour before check-in time. While we waited for it to be ready, we played at a park in the complex (still in your jammies). You still weren't quite yourself, but you enjoyed quietly swinging. We walked around & found the 2 indoor pools, an indoor hot-tub, an outdoor pool, & an outdoor hot-tub.

When it finally came time to check-in, we were pleasantly surprised by our home for the next couple days. It was big, clean, & cozy. There were four levels with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a loft, a kitchen, & a living room with a fireplace. There was a back deck with a magical view of Loon Mountain filled with colorful foliage.

You had a blast climbing up & down the different levels & scoping out the place. We had brought your pack & play, but you were still excited to find bunk beds. You & Daddy had such fun rolling & playing on your first set of bunk beds in your very own room throughout the weekend.

We were sitting on the back deck, taking in all the beauty & talking about what we would do next & where we would go to eat. You started whimpering, & I picked you up to put you in my lap. That's when you threw up all over me. At that moment, I made the executive decision that we would stay in that night. After I showered us off, Daddy went into town to pick up groceries & dinner. We had a quiet night in front of the fireplace playing with puzzles & reading books.

You seemed to be feeling a lot better the next day, but Santa's Village still wasn't in the cards. It was raining (sadly, that sick Friday was the best weather of the weekend). Biking on the bike trail wasn't going to happen either. Daddy did find the most amazing breakfast place. As I write this, I still long for White Mountain Bagel. They have a variety of bagels & the most amazing cream cheese spreads I've ever tasted. Daddy loved jalepeno, but bacon horseradish was my favorite. The coffee was great too.

With our bellies full, we decided to put our raincoats on & make the best of the day. First we headed to Clark's Trading Post. Your Daddy & I had both gone there as children, & it was fun to see your little feet run through a place where our little feet had once run.

There was so much for you to see at Clark's. You were so excited to take each thing in. You giggled as you watched the trained bears & called out to them. You splashed in the puddles & shouted "choo choo" as you watched the train.

Inside, there was a stuffed animal bear that was as big as you. You squeezed him with a big smile on your face, but then dropped him when you saw the big moose head.

They had a player piano. You danced in front of it with a little drum until we ran out of quarters to feed it. You whimpered as you walked away from the player piano until we stopped in front of your very favorite...colored rocks. You would have played with the rock bin the entire day if we had let you. We bought you your own pouch of rocks & you cried when we took it away from you just so we could pay for it. It really is the simplest things that make you happy.

After Clark's Trading Post, the rain died down to a light sprinkle. We headed to the Basin for a hike. I don't know how it started, I think Daddy & I were trying to get you to smile. We could tell you still weren't feeling your best. So, we started to say, "the Basin" in a deep, low voice. You would reply, "the baby Basin" in your own deep, low voice. It made us giggle & smile during the whole hike. 

You weren't feeling great, & we weren't in any rush. So, we just took our hike really slow, with lots of snuggles, & just took it all in. The colors, the quietness, the was breathtaking.

Next we headed over to Indian Head Resort. We played in the teepee, made faces with the totem pole, & took in gorgeous scenery that seemed to be right out of a post card. 

On the way home, we stopped at the Christmas Loft. If you didn't get to see Santa at Santa's Village, at least we still got a glimpse of him at the Christmas Loft. We also got to pick out our family Christmas ornament.

We headed back to the condo for naps & quiet moments. It was so nice to feel at home even away from home. Since you were on the brat diet, it was amazing to have a kitchen to cook & prepare food in. I can't even imagine trying to order bananas, plain rice, sliced apples, & toast at a restaurant. This way, we were able to pack most of our meals & all of yours. When you woke up, we decided to relax & check out the pool. 

The outdoor hot-tub was our very favorite spot. Can you see why?

I wanted to spend the rest of our weekend in the hot-tub. You had made a cute little friend about your age. My heart was so happy looking at the beauty of the mountain & watching you & your little friend splash around. Eventually, we had to get out to go to dinner, though. 

We went to Woodstock Inn & Station Brewery. Daddy had found it online & was impressed with their food & local beer selection. Apparently, so was everyone else in the area. It was packed! Luckily, there was all you can eat popcorn while we waited. You enjoyed many baskets of popcorn. The food was worth the wait & Daddy bought a growler to take home with us. By the time we got home, you were happy to head to bed while Daddy & I relaxed in front of the fire.

The next morning, we packed up & said bye to the condo. 

It was still raining, so we ditched our bike-ride idea & headed across the street to Loon Mountain. We took a cloudy but beautiful gondola ride up to the top of the mountain.

This is what happens when we ask you to say cheese too many times.

It was a lot colder at the mountain top & I wished I had remembered to grab the hats we had packed. Though our visit was brief, it was amazing. The mountain top views were incredible & humbling. It was a perfect end to our New Hampshire weekend.

I couldn't help but feel a little sad that our family adventure was over as we drove home. Stopping at White Mountain Bagel for coffee & bagels helped (why didn't I think of buying tubs of their delicious cream cheese to take home?). On the way home, we were already making plans for a repeat trip next year. It wasn't the weekend we had planned, but Daddy & I will always look back at our first vacation, just us 3, with the fondest memories. It was smiles, it was beauty, it was fresh air, it was adventure, it was laughter, it was love. It wasn't what we planned, it was better.

I love you so,

* For this post I'm linking up with Design Mom & here series, Love the Place You Live. She wrote her first post of the series in February & I linked up with this post about The Wall. *

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