Monday, April 30, 2012

on the other side of our first potty training weekend

Dear Em,
We did it! Well, you did it. You made it through your first two & a half days of potty training! You did great. You did better than great. Have I told you how amazing I think you are?

We started on Friday night at 5:30, right after dinner. You wanted to start before then. Dinner was ready & on the table, & your daddy & I were calling you to come eat. You had gone upstairs moments before. When we called for you, you shouted "not yet!" Daddy went upstairs to see what you were up to, & I heard him exclaim, "Em, what are you doing?!" Apparently, you had found your big-girl undies. You were naked from the waist down with your undies strew across the floor, trying to slide a pair up your legs. You diaper was laying on the floor next to your undies.

After dinner we rolled up the rug in the living room, moved your toys from the family room (which has wall to wall carpets), & barricaded the carpeted areas. Cleaning our wood floors is no biggie, but we weren't up for scrubbing rugs. We put your Sesame Street potty seat on top of our toilet & had you try to go potty. You smiled & told us you tried, but it was clear you didn't understand. We put your "special, big-girl undies" on (they are Minnie Mouse ones), let you go pant-less, told you that "pee-pee & poo-poo go in the potty, & set a timer for thirty minutes.

Friday, April 27, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
God is someone that we talk to & talk about everyday. With that said, sometimes talking about God is hard. It's hard to explain His largeness, His awesomeness, His presence in the quietest of moments. This is why I'm so glad there are wonderfully written & beautifully illustrated books to help me out. One of my favorites is How Big is God?

In this book a little boy asks his mom "how big is God?" With the help of lovely illustrations, she explains that God can be big or small & that he is everywhere.

"'I'm glad that such a big God can still fit in my heart, Mom.'
'Me too. Out of all the places God is, That's his favorite place to be.'"
- from How Big is God? by Lisa Tawn Bergren

I'm glad that God made brilliant authors whose words help us learn & grow.

I love you so,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

all or nothing...

Dear Em,
This weekend is kinda a big deal.

We're going to do it.

We're going all in.

Are we going to the casino? Nope. Actually far from it, because we're spending the entire weekend at home (this almost never happens). We completely cleared our schedules & we're going to...wait for it...potty train.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wedding Shower Wednesday: Project Wishing Well

Dear Em,
Have you ever heard of a Wishing Well? Of course you have, but I'm not talking about the kind you throw pennies into. I'm talking about the kind you find at a wedding shower. I had not heard of one until my best friend's wedding shower. I've been a maid of honor twice in my life, & unfortunately for both brides both times were before my wedding. I had no idea what I was doing.

So, years ago when my best friend's mom said "of course we'll have a wishing well at the shower," I was all like "what is a wishing well?" Her mom was all like, "you write the words wishing well on the shower invitations & people will bring an extra small gift to put in it." Huh? I think we used a laundry basket (supplied by my best friend's mom because I had mostly forgotten about it) & streamers to decorate the "wishing well," & it looked like a cross between a mummy & a large roll of toilet paper (sorry, Jayme, the one you made for my shower was beautiful).

So, now that I'm a little bit older & wiser, I've got this wishing well thing down. A bridal shower wishing well is a way of wishing the bride & new husband the best for their future as a married couple by supplying them with all the little things that are helpful to have in a home. The bridal shower wishing well represents a long- held tradition, but I've found that many women my age don't know what one is.

When we decided to have one for Erin's shower, I knew some people would be confused by merely including the words "wishing well" on the invitations. So, I again searched the web for ideas of how to announce the wishing well in the shower invites. There are a lot of cute ways to announce a wishing well. I took a little bit from a few different sites & then added my own touch. We printed these out to be half the size of the original invite (4 per 8x10 page) & included them in the invitations.

We will have a Wishing Well
For the very special bride.
A small, unwrapped household item
Is what you should drop inside.
It can be a dishcloth for the kitchen,
Cleanser for the sink,
Perhaps soap for the dishes,
Whatever you may think.
They will need items for the bath,
Perhaps some light bulbs too,
Potholders, tissues, soap,
The choice is up to you.
We would also like to ask you
For your favorite recipe.
It’s something Erin & Brian will treasure
For a lifetime of cooking, you’ll see.
The gifts will come in handy
For both the Bride & Groom,
And their cupboards will be stocked
In each & every room.

Now that the wishing well was announced, it needed to be made. We looked at the gifts they had registered for & found a trash can listed. Perfect for a well! It's like they say, one person's, uh,  trash can is another person's, uh, wishing well (or something like that).

We had ideas to wrap the trash can in white butcher paper, paint it, & glue shells & starfish all over it. In the end, I went with something a little more simple...tissue paper. I just started taping & layering it around the trash can & realized it looked simple & elegant & not like a trash can (plus, I got a TON of white tissue paper from Job Lot for wicked cheap)

I used the same scrap booking paper that I made the sand dollars for the shower invitations to make the bride & groom's first initials. I bought some starfish from A.C. Moore & lined the top with them to give it more of a well look.

Simple, elegant, & relatively easy. I was proud of my wishing well. In the end, I realized it probably doesn't matter if the well looks like a cross between a mummy & a large roll of toilet paper if you have amazing friends & family to fill it to the brim.

Want to know what we put in the wishing well? Ketchup. Erin loves ketchup. I've never seen a person put it on so many different foods. She should be covered for the next few months. We gave her three economy sized containers.

Come back next week & we'll talk about how baby goes to bride.

I love you so,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

what do you want to be when you grow up?

Dear Em,
Last week your teachers asked you what you want to be when you grow up. They read you a book about different things you could be. Afterwards, they went around the circle & asked you & each of your friends (classmates) what you wanted to be.

When they told me, I was a little embarrassed. We've never really talked to you about it, & I feel like we probably should have. Parenting fail. With Daddy working in insurance & me working in sales, we don't really talk to you about what we even do (not that either of us are convinced that we're grown up). I mean how do you tell a two year old that you talked to a doctor about prescribing more Alzheimer's medication or that you bartered with lawyers all day & finally came to an injury claim agreement? Instead, we just tell you that we work.

Back to circle time in the classroom. When asked what he would be when he grew up, the friend (classmate) in front of you confidently said he was going to be a dinosaur (I guess his parents have had the talk with him already). When it got to your turn, you were unsure. After some more questions & prodding, you said, "I'm going to be like Mommy." "Well, what does your mommy do," your teacher asked you. "She works and then she picks me up," you said in a very duh tone. "Well, what does your daddy do," your teacher asked you. I think you gave her a very perplexed & exasperated look like "she's clearly not getting it."

In the end you proclaimed you were going to be a "big strong" when you grow up. I'm not quite sure what that is, but it sounds pretty amazing to me.

As we drove home from school, I tried to do my parental duty of having the what-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up-talk. I named a bunch of different careers & told you that you could even be a mommy if you want. You very seriously & obviously replied, "No, you're Mommy. I'm going to be an Emma."

I don't know if you will ever understand the ways that you make me smile. I had to laugh a little bit when you gave me that answer. I don't know what you're going to be when you grow up, but you'll do it in your own, special Emma way. Whatever it is, it will be amazing, of that I'm sure.

I love you so,

Monday, April 23, 2012

the bike path

Dear Em,
I didn't grow up in Rhode Island, but my great grandparents lived here. We used to drive up for family reunions, & I remember seeing funny biking signs & paths for bikers during the drive up. We didn't have anything like that where I grew up, & I remember thinking how lucky Rhode Islanders were to have such pretty paths.

Now that I live here, we try to take full advantage of the beautiful bike paths. While in college, your daddy & I would go for long roller blading trips (I'm not the best at stopping, but your daddy helped me out). After having you, I couldn't wait for the weather to be warm enough to take you for walks on the bike path & work off my baby weight. In an attempt to be more active, last summer we bought bikes & a bike trailer for you. Now, biking is one of our favorite outside activities in Rhode Island.

I am my mother's daughter, & I come to every bike ride prepared. For you we pack: a sippy of juice, at least 4 different snacks (last time it was granola, animal crackers, strawberries, & popcorn), a couple books, a baby doll or stuffed animal, sunglasses, & music (aka my IPhone). For Daddy & I, we fill up my Nalgene with water, & we're good to go.

Here you are ready for our bike ride. When you're not reading or singing, you tell me, "go faster! We can do it, Mommy!"

This is us, ready to bike 4 miles.

I'm not going to lie, your daddy is pretty cute on a bike.

We've only biked the South County Bike Path (although we're excited to also try the East Bay Bike Path this year), & it's a beautiful route. It connects South Kingstown to Narragansett. Along the mostly paved 8 miles, we pass tall trees, lots of benches for resting, wildlife observation, sections of swamp, Tri-Pond Park and Saugatucket River, & recreation fields. The trail starts at the historic Kingston Train Station & ends at Narragansett Beach. It's well maintained & frequented by walkers, runners, bikers, & roller-bladers, but I've never seen it over crowded. One of the best parts is that the path is free to use.

We start at the train station, but we've never made it all the way to Narragansett Beach with you.  By the four-mile mark you're typically getting a little cranky & want out of the trailer. That's typically fine for your daddy & I. As you continue to grow, it becomes a little more of a workout for Daddy & I to pull you in the trailer (especially with all the things I pack to take with us). Daddy & I look at the families who are all biking on their own bikes, & silently wonder when you will be old enough to ride your own bike. We also wonder how people pull two kids in a trailer. I guess we shouldn't sign up for the Tour de France anytime soon. Luckily, right around the four-mile mark is where we find Fagan Park.

It's not a big park. It has just a couple swings, a small playscape with one slide, a basketball court, & a couple picnic tables. It's the perfect size for a two-year old who wants out of the bike trailer. It's also never been busy, & it's right off the bike path. The park is the perfect spot for us to stop to rest, let you move around & let your sillies out, & sometimes we have a picnic in the grass.

After we've spent some time playing & laughing at the park, we turn around & bike the four-miles back. "We did it," you exclaim when we're done. I smile, wondering how much effort the eight mile bike ride was for you. We return home with smiles in our hearts after spending the morning being active in the sunshine & fresh air.

I remember thinking as we traveled home from our last ride that I was right growing up. Rhode Islanders are really lucky to have such pretty bike paths. How lucky are we to be Rhode Islanders & be able to enjoy them. I hope we'll have family bike rides on the bike path for as long as we're Rhode Islanders (even if it does get tougher to pull you in the trailer).

I love you so,

* For this post I'm linking up with Design Mom & her series, Love the Place You Live. These were her first & second posts of the series. I linked up with this post about The Wall & this post about our family trip to New Hampshire. *
If you like my blog, click on this link to vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs or click the brown box in the top, right corner of the blog. One click a day equals your vote for Letters to my Little Love.

Friday, April 20, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
Talking to you has become one of my favorite things to do. So, I'm pretty lucky that you're so very talkative. Every day your words are like rays of sunshine to me. And you know how I feel about sunshine.

Me: "Em, what do you want to eat."

Em: "Um...well...I think I want Cheerios."

Me: "Ok, want to help me pour the bowl?"

Em: "Yes! Mommy can we share the Cheerios?"

Me: "Sure, Em. Sharing Cheerios are my favorite kind."

Em: "They're my favorite kind too, Mommy."

I love you so,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Luk Thai

Dear Em,
It's hard to believe the first time I had Thai food was less than a year ago. Since then, it's become a favorite for your daddy & I. It's filling but light, & we love a little spice.

We found a cute, little place in downtown Wakefield for our first Thai dinner. Your daddy & I went with one of my best friends for my birthday. Colleen was an experienced Thai food diner & was able to suggest some of her favorite dishes for our first Thai meal.

We've returned to Luk Thai many, many times over the past year. It has a new name (previously Thai Pepper), but it's still one of my favorites. When we talked about getting together with our friends H & M for dinner, Luk Thai was an obvious choice. It's a cute restaurant in the heart of downtown Wakefield. Although it's small, I've never felt overcrowded or cramped. It's BYOB, & I think half the fun is picking out a bottle of wine to bring for dinner (they uncork & pour it for you).

Their nime chow, which I think they call fresh rolls, are my favorite. I could eat just that for breakfast, lunch, & dinner. They're fresh, soft, rice skin rolls with noodle, shrimp,  vegetables served with peanut sauce. They're kind of like Egg Rolls without frying them. The best part of the nime chow at Luk Thai are the mint leaves included in the middle of the roll. It gives the nime chow a freshness that just perfectly completes the roll. My very amateur & very American advice to any Thai restaurant is to make sure to include mint leaves in your nime chow.

Now that your daddy & I have some experience under our belts, we were happily able to suggest some of our favorite dishes to H & M, who had never been to Luk Thai. H ordered one of my favorite dishes, Drunken Noodles.

The Drunken Noodles are pan fried thin rice noodles with broccoli, onion, fresh basil, fresh chili, & garlic. You can add your choice of vegetable or tofu, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, squid, mussel, or scallops. H got the chicken, but my favorite is the squid. The dish is so flavorful but still quite mild (you can actually ask them to spice it up a notch). I love the combination of noodles & vegetables, & find myself ordering this dish again & again.

This time I wanted to try something different & a little spicey. So, I ordered the Green Curry. When I read the descriptions of the curries, I liked the mix of spice & vegetables listed for the Green Curry & decided to give it a try. The Green Curry included green curry spices, coconut milk with bamboo shoots, gren beans, bellpeppers, eggplant, basil & of course I got mine with squid (there was a choice of vegetable or tofu, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, squid, mussel, duck, or scallop).

I was delighted when they brought out my rice in the shape of a heart. What a sweet extra touch. When you combine that with the vibrant colors of the curry, this dish was as fun to look at as it was to eat. I was a little wary of ordering a spicy dish, hoping it wouldn't be too spicy. It was perfect. Yes, my eyes watered a little, but it was still amazingly good. The spices, the fresh crispy vegetables, the squid, everything was so yummy until the last bite. The dish was a very large portion & I was happy to save half of my meal for lunch the next day. The Green Curry might be my new favorite dish.

Your daddy ordered the Red Curry. He's already had the Green Curry & the Massaman Curry (his favorite) & wanted to try something new. The Red Curry is filled with red curry spices, coconut milk with bamboo shoots, carrots, pineapple, bell pepper, basil, & he added chicken (although you can add any of the protein items I had listed for the Green Curry). The Red Curry is a little less spicy than the Green Curry, but I think he asked them to bump up the spice a notch.

He really liked it. He was a little wary of the pineapple when ordering. He doesn't really like to mix sweet with savory, but he said it was a perfect flavor pairing. His curry also came with the heart shaped rice & was a big portion.

M ordered the Massaman Curry which includes massaman curry spices, coconut milk, potato, carrot, onion, peanut, & chicken (or you can add any of protein items listed before). Um, potatoes? It's kind of like mixing Thai food with Irish food. I think I might have to try that one next time.

It was a great meal with great wine (& beer for the boys), great food, great conversation, &, most importantly, great friends.

So glad we got to share our fondness of Luk Thai with our good friends. For our next time out with them, we're planning to go to a place that has great beer selections & 10 different flavors of soft pretzels. Have you heard of Malted Barley in Westerly? I can't wait.

I love you so,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wedding Shower Wednesday: Invites

Dear Em,
When your daddy & I were married, we made a lot of things for the wedding  (with the help of our talented family & friends). After a long day of work, it was kind of fun to make something & let my creativity flow. Do I ever want to plan another wedding? Heck no! It was one of the most stressful times of my life. But when a wedding shower comes along, it's super fun to have to get artsy & create on a much smaller scale. Since wedding season is underway, on the next few Wednesdays I'm going to talk about fun DIY wedding shower ideas.

Two of our very favorite people in life are getting married this May. You're going to be the most adorable flower girl (as long as we start practicing soon). Daddy is the Best Man, & I'm a bridesmaid.

A few weekends ago we spent a snowy day in Connecticut throwing the bride a bridal shower. Erin has a large & amazing bridal party who all worked so hard to make her day beautiful & special. I signed up for a few projects that would be fun for me to make. My first project was designing the wedding invitations. There are so many cute options out there, but we knew that we could save money by making our own.

I started by searching the web for examples. Wedding Paper Divas & Tiny Prints had so many fun & beautiful invites. I got ideas for wording & style mostly from those sites.

In the end, this was the wording we decided on:

A sprinkle of flowers, a couple of kisses,
Soon Brian & Erin will be Mr. & Mrs.
As we wait for the special hour,
Let’s honor
With a Bridal Shower!

Saturday, March 31st
11:00 am

Tamarack Lodge
21 Ten Rod Road
Voluntown, Connecticut

RSVP to XXXXX by March 16th

Erin is registered at XXXXXXXXX

The bride & groom got engaged on a beach & took their engagement pictures on that same beach. We had decided on a beach theme for the shower. I wanted to incorporate the theme & give the invitations a 3D look. I browsed Michaels & A.C. Moore for ideas. They had so many cute scrap booking stickers that would have been so fun.

I almost purchased these flip flops. At the time, buying the scrapbooking stickers in bulk seemed like it would be both expensive & difficult. I could only find 1/4 of what I needed in the store. Now that I write this post, I realize I could've easily ordered them online...oh, well.

That's when I came upon the craft punches. This sand dollar punch was less than $10 (with my Michaels 20% off coupon) & perfect for the invites. Plus, it not only punched out the sand dollar but also starfish...bonus! I bought scrap booking paper that matched the color of our bridesmaid dresses for about $.25 a sheet. I wanted two starfish & one sand dollar on each invite, so I had to punch out over 200. It took a little while to punch them all out & my hand was pretty sore, but at least I could do it while catching up on some of our DVRed shows.

The next step was finding paper. I had a hard time finding nice paper with matching envelopes in stores. I asked my go-to wedding blogger A Mountain Bride where to find paper. She asked her readers & Paper and More was suggested. Let's just say, I heart Paper and More. They had good selections, good quality, & good prices. I've ordered from them twice now (I may have messed up on the first order), & they upgraded me to priority shipping for free both times. I loved their line of recycled paper. The paper I bought was actually called Sand Specks which couldn't have gone more perfectly with the theme.

Once I had my paper, envelopes, sand dollar & star fish punches, glue (I bought my very first glue gun), & chai tea, I was ready to put it all together (yup, I used your table as a work station).

I know I'm not a graphic designer (or anything close), but I think they came out wicked cute for the special bride to be.

It was kinda fun to get my art on. Tune in next week for Project Wishing Well.

I love you so,

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

things that make me smile

Dear Em,
These are the things that made me smile yesterday...

80 degree weather in April. I heart sunshine.

Your teachers reported you had really great listening ears all day.

Your face, smiling & smeared with red & blue from your strawberry & blueberry after-school snack.

Your sweet strawberry & blueberried sent that lingered for hours after.

A summery dinner of chicken, corn on the cob, & fresh broccoli.

You eating two ears of corn & asking for a third. You even ate your chicken & broccoli with the promise of more corn (we normally have to promise dessert for that).

Jumping, just the three of us, on the trampoline. Your favorite way to jump is all together & holding hands.

Your cheeks, filled with a rosy glow, as you giggled & bounced.

The curly ringlets that formed in your already lighter blonde hair.

Your attentiveness as you played "soccer." You have such an amazing little kick. Who taught you that?

Finishing up our evening with a walk around the neighborhood, just the three of us.

Life really is so precious, isn't it?

I love you so,

Monday, April 16, 2012

take me out to the ball game...

Dear Em,
Baseball season is back! Well, it's been back for over a week now, but this past Friday was the RedSox home opener at Fenway. We dressed in our RedSox best to celebrate.

We had been waiting all winter for baseball to come back & prepared you for it by teaching you to sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

You prefer "peanuts & crackers" to "peanuts & cracker jacks", & of course, we "root root root for the RedSox!"

Yesterday your daddy & I enjoyed a warm & sunny day with friends at Fenway. It felt like we were coming home as we walked down Yawkey Way & saw the sea of people in RedSox shirts. It was so great to sing Sweet Caroline with the whole stadium. The last time I was at a RedSox game, I was seven months pregnant. It wasn't the most comfortable game of my life. Technically, it was your first game.

I didn't realize how much I had missed it until I was back. Your daddy & I day dream about your first real RedSox game. The tickets are not cheap. So, we've decided we want to wait until you're old enough to really enjoy it. We're hoping to make it a whole big weekend, just the three of us. We'll get a hotel room, order room service, & take you to one of the most amazing places on earth...Fenway Park. I really can't wait.

Fenway is one of the oldest baseball stadiums in the country & has always seemed like such a magical place to me. It brings absolute strangers together. So many people come together in this park with great hopes. These people root together, cry together, & sing together. It's an amazing thing to see so many people living & dying (figuratively, of course) by the placement of a pitch & the sound of a bat smacking a ball. Baseball is America's pastime, & you can feel the history at Fenway. I feel so linked to the generations of the past, present, & future.

For this year, we're going to start by taking you to your first PawSox game. It's a beautiful stadium that includes a grassy area to sit on. That's where we hope you'll enjoy the your first baseball game this summer. I mean, you sit on the couch & watch the RedSox with Daddy, yelling at the TV screen the whole time. I think you're really going to like seeing a game in person.

I feel like we've already passed something down to you: being a RedSox fan. It's something that our parents passed down to your daddy & I, with all the good & bad that comes with it. We couldn't be prouder & more excited about our little RedSox fan & the all experiences being a fan will bring you in the future.

I love you so,

Friday, April 13, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
A couple weeks ago someone asked me what drives me. I was taken aback. I guess I never really thought of it. I think I mumbled & put together some incomprehensible sentences. The question has stayed with me, & I've thought a lot about it since then.

I grew up in a home where my parents asked for my very best. Sometimes I thought they wanted me to be perfect, & I struggled with that. It stung when I felt that I failed to live up to perfection. Now that I'm grown with a child of my own, I see that they just wanted my very best. The only times when I know my parents were disappointed in me were not in times that I failed, they were the times that I failed to give it my all. They knew that if I always did my very best, I could do great things. This is what drives me, knowing that when I do my very best, great things can happen.

I've worked with a lot of great leaders. One of them showed a group of us a video that will stay with me for always. He was in the middle of challenging us to do more, to be more. Many of us, myself included, were probably thinking, "how much more can we do?" We were facing hard times in our industry, & our demanding goals continued to rise.

He asked us to "do [our] very best." He asked us this, & he showed us this video. Maybe it's because I'm a wicked big football fan, maybe it's because it's what I needed to hear. In challenging times, my thoughts continue to drift back to the words of this video.

I will never ask you to be perfect or not make mistakes. "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you expected." Failure is an important & valuable part of life. But I hope in life you will always "do your very best." I hope you will do your best, & know that there is nothing you can't do and no place you can't go when you put your heart & mind to it. So, I hope in this life you will give it your all.

I love you so,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

falafels & a movie

Dear Em,
So far this year, Daddy & I have been much better at making time for date nights. We are so very thankful to have such willing family to look after you while your daddy & I take some time just for the two of us. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. In fact, most of my favorite date nights are nothing fancy at all.

Last year my best friend gave me the Hunger Games box set for my birthday. OMG, it was so good. It was the kind of good where I could not put the books down (even when we had guests over...whoops). I've passed on my love for the Hunger Games books to many people, our family, my best friends, my cousin, your nanny (in hindsight it could have been a mistake to introduce your nanny to a book that could not be put down when she was tasked with watching you. luckily it all worked out). When I heard they were making the book into a movie, I was psyched. Waiting almost a year to see the words come to life on the big screen was torture.

Your daddy hasn't read the books, but was happy to make any excuse to go to the movies. I also assured him it wasn't just another love story, & there would be lots of fighting & killing. So, he agreed to go with me & suggested we make a date night of it with dinner beforehand. We were going to catch the movie in South Kingstown. What did I want for dinner? Falafels of course.

Daddy & I drove over to our alma mater, the University of Rhode Island, to the place we have fondly referred to as the emporium for the past ten years. We parked in front of International Pockets Cafe. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It looks much like all the other college restaurants do in the emporium.

Yet, it is & always will be one of my favorite places. Where else can we go & feel a relaxed sense that not much has changed in ten years? Where else can you go where you're greeted with a smile & a freshly warm falafel while you wait to order? 

What is falafel? It is a yummy, delicious deep fried ball made from ground chickpeas, parsley, garlic, & fresh vegetables. It's typically served in a pita or a wrap. At International Pockets you have a wide range of hot sauces, tahini sauce, tabouleh, lettuce, tomato, grape leaves, cucumber, & peppers to add to the wrap. It's wicked good & wicked filling.

We bumped into & chatted with a past colleague of mine while waiting to order. While we ate, your daddy & I chatted about our past & our days at URI. We had so many fun adventures with our friends. I feel so fortunate to live just a short drive away from where we met & made so many great memories, especially because we can keep coming back for falafel.

When it's time to pay & leave International Pockets, they normally give you a small & sweet piece of baklava for dessert. They didn't this time, & I was sad they didn't. Sigh, I really didn't have any room for it since I demolished the falafel wrap (they're pretty large wraps). 

I saw this on Facebook & had to laugh.
We headed to the movie & both enjoyed it. I didn't think it was a good as the book, but I don't think it's possible without making a seven hour long movie. Daddy enjoyed it & is thinking of reading the books himself. 

It was a great date night. Dinner hit the spot. It's not an expensive place & certainly not fancy, but it's one of the best. The movie was fun. The night took us back to our college years for a few hours. Luckily you brought us straight back when you woke us up at your usual 6:30am the next morning.

I'm looking forward to summer picnics on the quad with you, Daddy, & some falafels.

I love you so,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Nonnie's Beach Bag

Dear Em,
Remember the canvas tote bags we painted for your teachers for Christmas? Your Nonnie helped us make them & loved them. She remarked that she would like her very own bag, & I stored that in my brain for later. In the days that led up to Nonnie's birthday, I was excited for us to do something special for her. She always makes us feel so special for our birthdays. I planned to make Nonnie her very own bag, but I wanted to make a unique one just for her.

A few things about Nonnie. First, she is a beach bum. A perfect day for Nonnie is a whole day with her family at the beach. We pack up snacks & spend the whole day in the sunshine. We spalsh in the water. We go for long walks. We have a picnic. We play in the sand. We take lots of pictures. Nonnie is who I get my beachbumness from & who I hope you will get yours from.

If you ask Nonnie what her favorite color is, she doesn't have just one. Colors remind Nonnie of people. Purple is your Aunt Jennie's favorite, & when Nonnie is thinking of her she fills her home with purple. Pink is Aunt Gina's favorite, & pink always reminds Nonnie of her (pink is also your favorite & you will be fighting Aunt Gina because you are 2 & believe only one person can own a favorite color). Yellow is my favorite, & I love to dress you in yellow (a lot of people say yellow is your color). That's why when Nonnie sees the sun or bright daffodils, she thinks of us.

A sunshiney beach-bag is just what would be perfect for Nonnie, & we were going to make her just that. You get excited anytime I say the word paint. So, that was just a bonus. We used your handprints to make sunshines, & I wrote the words to a song that Nonnie loves to sing to you. I painted Nonnie's name so everyone knows it's her special bag.

When you saw the "E" at the end of "NONNIE," you said "E for Emma, let's write Emma too." I painted "LOVE, EMMA" on the back so Nonnie would always know who made her special sunshiney beach-bag.

I used a paint brush to fill in any spots that needed to be filled in & smooth out any globs. Since Nonnie couldn't help to make her own beach bag, Daddy helped washed you up while I dried each side with a blow drier before starting the next (& get the bathtub ready since you somehow got paint in your hair). We've gotten a lot better since last time (this time we had covered the table & were ready with paper towels), but it's still a three person job.

We ordered the bag from Amazon & already had the yellow craft paint (& your cute little hands). The whole project cost less than $15, & Nonnie has a wicked cute beach-bag to take on all of her beach trips this summer. We hope a lot of those beach-trips will be with us.

I'm kind of a crushing on Nonnie's sunshiney beach-bag. I kind of think I want one too. Good thing I have a daughter with the cutest little hands for sunshines.

I love you so,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

sounds like a typical morning

Dear Em,
This is what a typical morning can sound like in our house.

* Crash *

Me: (Upstairs getting dressed, calling downstairs to where the crash came from) "Em, what are you doing?"

Em: (In a very matter of fact, very loud yell) "She needs to take a bath!"

Me: (Knowing that the only two "she's" in our house are Em & I) "Who needs a bath?"

Em: (Exasperated) "Baby!"

Me: "Oh, Ok. Why don't you give baby a bath in the upstairs bathroom."

Em: (Sigh) "Ok, Mommy. Can you turn the water on?"

Me: "Why don't you give her a bath without any water?"

Em: (Sigh) "Ok."

* Moments pass. There is more crashing going on in the tub & then the sound of dresser drawers opening & shutting. *

Em: "Mommy, can you help me put her jammies on?"

Me: "Em, these are your jammies. They're big girl jammies. They're way too big for your baby. Why don't you put baby jammies on her?"

* Thumping down the stairs. More thumping & crashing. *

Em: (Calling loudly from downstairs) "I don't even have any baby jammies!"

* Moments pass. *

Em: "Baby, you're not even listening to me. You're making me very sad. You need to sit in timeout."

Sigh, I'm too young to be a grandma already. Where do you learn your mothering skills? Is that what I sound like? You may be little, but you sure do make getting dressed in the morning entertaining.

I love you so,

Monday, April 9, 2012

April is for Birthdays

Dear Em,
For most people, April is a time of Easter celebrations. It's that time for us too, but it's also what I refer to as Birthday Palooza. So many people we love have birthdays that fall in April. Your Aunt Jennie, Aunt Andrea, Cousin Luke, Cousin Erin, Great Grandma, Nonnie, & Uncle Greg all have diamonds for birthstones. In fact, your Nonnie's birthday is today (I'm pretty sure we were the first ones to say Happy Birthday because our skype call woke her up).

In the past, I made signs & we took pictures to celebrate each birthday.

You're growing & interested in creating things now. Instead of the pictures, now we enjoying making things together. This April we were very busy making fun surprises to send in the mail. I decided we would send balloons to the birthday boys & girls. You love balloons. Sending regular balloons would be pretty tough. So, we decided to make special ones.

First, you painted a few master pieces.

It was my idea to make balloons, but you insisted every needs lots of hearts. So, we punched out some hearts together.

After your paintings dried, I folded the paper in half & drew balloon shapes with the fold at the top of the balloon. I cut them out & wrote a birthday message on the inside (you helped sign your name).

You glued your hearts on the insides of the balloons. 

Four birthday balloons almost ready to go.

I punched a hole in the bottom of each one & tied a ribbon. There you have it. Four birthday balloons ready to be mailed float to four very special birthday boys & girls.

I'm proud of our birthday balloons. You may not have made them completely by yourself, but you were the biggest contributer. It was fun to make them together, to let you create on your own (painting) & then work as a team to put it all together. Even your daddy helped. I hope they made everyone's day a little more special. They should all know that the hearts came from you.

I love you so,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter 2012

Dear Em,
Easter was a special day for you. You had so much fun finding your Easter basket & then hunting for eggs throughout the house. You had a mouth full of jelly beans as you hunted for more eggs. "I just want to eat them all," you said, almost unintelligible because you had a mouth full of jelly beans. Your Daddy & I smiled & laughed.

You had such a fun day at church & with your Daddy's side of the family. You were wicked cute running around & hunting for Easter Eggs with your two little cousins. Grandma & Papa were delighted to have Easter diner with you & you with them.

For pictures this year, I took them. Some outside & some inside. I asked you earlier in the week if you wanted to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap & you very excitedly said "yes!" Going after school on Good Friday was not a great choice. We waited in line for an hour. I almost said "forget it" & took you home, but you were excited. You were waving & calling "hi, Easter Bunny." You were oooooing & awwwwing over the other kids in their Easter outfits. The wait went by quick (for the most part), & you had a blast sitting on the Easter Bunny's lap.

I think we were all exhausted by the end of the day, but you still spent an hour singing & talking to your "friends" in your crib before falling asleep. I can't believe another year has gone by. I can't believe you just had your third Easter. I can't believe how much you've changed since your last Easter. Sigh, it truly does go by so fast.

I love you so,

Friday, April 6, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
 "'Jesus is alive.'"
- from The Story of Jesus: for young children retold by Heather Amery

We've had such a fun week celebrating the festivities & colors of Easter, but that's not what Easter is all about to me. In our house Easter isn't about a story of a bunny, it's about the story of Jesus. It's hard, though. The colors & the mascot make the bunny & candy part of Easter more fun & easier to teach. How do you teach a two year old about Jesus being beaten, nailed to a cross, dying, & rising from the dead? It's not easy, at least not for me.

When you were born, a dear friend sent us a book as a gift. I've cherished The Story of Jesus: for young children since. I cherish it partly because of who sent us the gift & the sweet words she wrote on the inside cover. I also cherish it because it has given me a way to teach you about Jesus since you were born. I can teach you about His love all day, but this book includes stories of His love & His hardships & struggles.

I love watching your brow furrow in concentration when we read the stories of Jesus stories together. I love that you ask questions. I hope you always will. I hope that as you grow, you always know that Jesus is the reason for this season.

I love you so,

* Readers, how do you balance the commercial & religious sides to this season? *
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