Thursday, August 30, 2012

little surfer girl

Dear Em,
All winter long I had a feeling that this would be THE summer. You know, the summer we would actually have fun at the beach. I've been taking you to the beach since you were three months old. For the first couple years, going to the beach meant holding you or wiping your tears when you had a face full of sand. Believe me, there were a lot of tears & a lot of faces (& mouths) full of sand.

I mean, we still went to the beach, but it mostly seemed like more work than fun. The biggest bummer was not being able to swim in the water. I LOVE swimming in the ocean, even with how cold New England ocean water typically is. Unfortunately, we mostly remained on the shore with only our toes & legs in the salty water.

This year I got to swim. WE got to swim, thanks to one amazing thing: the Boogie Board.

I don't really know, but I don't think most floatation devices aren't allowed to be used in the ocean. You love to swim in the pool with your swimmies, but I'm pretty sure you can't use those in he ocean. We've never tried a life jacket, because during my childhood I just felt like they were uncomfortable & wicked hard to swim in. So, swimming in the ocean was just something I didn't think was going to happen for a while.

And then I passed a bin of boogie boards at Five Below & thought, "why not?"

We love love love our boogie board. I pre-load you onto it (with you holding on both sides) & kind of carry you and it on my hip as I walk into the ocean. As soon as we get to where its deep enough, I place you & the boogie board on the water & slide behind you. And we're swimming!

We typically head for just beyond where the waves are breaking & have a blast. Sometimes we swim parralell to the shore, & sometimes we just play in the waves. You laugh & squeal in excitement & tell me you're a "surfer girl." It's so great to do something I love, & to share it with you.

Tomorrow night your Daddy & I leave to join you in North Carolina with my family. For us, Labor Day typically marks the end of summer, & I'm excited to extend our summer a little bit in sunny North Carolina. You better believe there will be lots of boggle boarding. I can't wait.

I love you so,

Monday, August 27, 2012

following in my footsteps...

Dear Em,
We're more than halfway through our time away from each other. While you're having so much fun, we can tell you're starting to feel a little homesick too- which, while it breaks my heart, is to be expected. Something we didn't expect: yesterday you decided you wanted to change your name.

We Skype everyday, sometimes a couple times. We also call you at bedtime to say prayers together & tell you sweet dreams. As we were talking before prayers last night, you caught us both by surprise. "we love you Emma," we told you. We expected your sweet little, "I love you too." Instead we got, "No! Emily! My name is Emily, not Emma!" You said "Emma" in disgust like it was something gross to you.

Your nonnie was softly talking to you about how lovingly you were named & how it would be sad for us if you changed your name. Your daddy was all "I'm not calling you Emily. That's not your name." Me? Well, I just smiled. I even played along.

There was a time in elementary school- I think it was 6th grade- when I decided I didn't like my name. "Julie" was just so plain & boring to me. I loved to read, & Louisa May Alcott was my favorite author. Isn't the name Louisa so beautiful & elegant & grown up. I needed a name that was more like that. I needed a name that would take me places. Julia sounded like a much better alternative to Julie. Julia is way more sophisticated. People are going to take a name like Julia seriously. I could see myself authoring books with a name like Julia. So, one day I went to school & declared that everyone was to call me Julia.

I'm not sure how long it lasted, but it couldn't have been long. The thing is, my friends would call out "Julia," & I wouldn't even turn my head. Deep down it just wasn't my name & I would forget that it was the new name I had given myself. Eventually, it just got frustrating trying to remember that I was going by a new name. So, I just gave it up & decided to go back to just plain "Julie."

And I'm pretty sure, Emily, that you will too. Although it is a little bit crazy to me that I went through this phase in 6th grade & here you are going through it at age 2.5. Sigh, I have a feeling that life with you will always be full of surprises..

I love you so,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

quiet house

Dear Em,
The house is quiet...too quiet. After months of having family & friends staying with us, our home seems so empty. On Sunday afternoon we dropped the last of our house guests off at the airport (you had left with Nonnie & Papi on Saturday morning). When we got home, your daddy & I realized it was just the two of us for the first time in...well, I don't even know.

It was weird to not have you run to the door when we arrived. It was weird for you not to say, "so, how was your day." It was weird not to hear giggles & receive hugs. I almost tucked you into your bed before heading to my own, but then I remembered you weren't there for me to tuck you in.

It's kind of hard. Two weeks all of a sudden feels like a really, really long time. I've been away from you for a little over a week, but two weeks just seems so much longer...especially because you are not with Daddy either. I can't picture him reading you bedtime stories in your rocking chair or tucking you into your bed. I can't think of you looking at the ceiling of stars while you fall asleep.

You...well, you're having a blast. We try to call & skype a lot & sometimes you are too busy to talk. You've been traveling. You stayed in a hotel. You've visited your great grandma, uncle Nick, aunt Jennie, uncle Jared, aunt Gina, & uncle Greg. You've been swimming & hot tubbing. You're having a blast with all the kids at my mom's home daycare. You've been playing barbies & babies.

And that makes me happy...even though sometimes I think I miss you so much my heart hurts.

Daddy & I are trying to make the best of it. We're looking forward to biking & dinners out & drive in movies & being lazy in know, the things that you don't do as much once you have a little love at home. We're also going on a little get-away to Stowe, Vermont this weekend. We haven't taken a trip, just the two of us, since our honeymoon (we did travel to Ireland six months later, but I found out I was pregnant the week before. So, technically, you were there for that...which was emphasized in the amount of morning sickness, vomiting, & exhaustion I experienced on that trip). We have ideas to go hiking, biking, sight seeing, kayaking, & maybe a little bar hoping. I kind of wonder if we'll take some moments to just be lazy, though. Lazy isn't something we've had a whole lot of time to do.

So, we'll be smiling even though we miss our little love so terribly. But I really can't wait to scoop you up in my arms, snuggle you tight, & talk to you about all of your adventures.

I love you so,

* Readers, do you have any tips for things to do in Stowe, Vermont? *

Friday, August 17, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know, dear, how much I love you."

We didn't purchase a whole lot of artwork for your new room. We had so much from your nursery that we were able to blend into your garden room nicely. Of the new artwork, the prints hanging above your bed are my favorite. I found Paper Ramma on Etsy & fell in love with their work. Everything they do is customizable. They actually offered to match the colors of the prints exactly with your new bedding. How cool is that?! All of their work is so sweet. I also wicked love this one & this one.

We chose these prints because, well, you are our sunshine. At the age of two & a half (& one & a half months), you are sunshiney & you are love. Your favorite color is pink, but I think of you anytime I see yellow. You truly shine with giggles & smiles & love. I can't help but feel sunny when we're together. You put your cute little arms around us & give us the sweetest kisses.

You're a passionate little girl. You either distinctly like something or emphatically dislike it. There's not a whole lot of in between with you.

In the past six months, you've hit so many milestones. You said goodbye to your high hair & now eat at the the table with us. "So, how was your day, Daddy," is how you often start the dinnertime conversation. The list of foods that you'll eat has grown over the past six months, as has your willingness to try new foods. The promise of dessert is a strong force when it comes to encouraging you to eat the different foods on your plate. Your daddy & I struggle not to laugh as we watch you with your hands over your mouth, forcing yourself to swallow whatever food you don't particularly care for so you can have your dessert after.

You went from diapers to undies in the last six months. We were worried if you were ready when we started potty-training, but you proved your daddy & I wrong once again. Accidents are few & far between. You excitedly announce you have to go potty, quickly go into the bathroom, and firmly tell us you need your privacy. You still wear pull-ups for naps & bedtime, but you wake up dry more often than not.

One of the biggest transitions has been saying goodbye to your crib & sweet nursery & moving into your big-girl bed & big-girl room. I was worried you would miss your nursery or crib, but you said goodbye with an excited smile. You love your new room. The other day I found you sitting on your bed with one leg crossed over the other. You were surrounded by piles of books with your nose buried in the Boogie Monster.

Your nonnie gave you your first baby doll before you were one, and baby dolls have been your favorite  ever since. Now you have tons & you're such a sweet mommy to your babies (when you're not putting them in timeout). It's so fun to watch you rock them & feed them. Your very favorite is still your lamby though. You sleep with her every night & wake up crying if you can't find her in the middle of the night. You sing to her & dance with her & fix her hair while I fix your hair each day.

You're sooooo stubborn. I may have been told a few hundred times how much your stubbornness reminds my family of another stubborn little You have an opinion on most things, & you want your opinion to be heard. Every day I see glimpses of the strong, independent woman I know that you'll grow to be.

Right now you're a bright learning sponge. You tackle learning new things with excitement & squeal with delight when you're able to do something new. You've been working on writing your name. Letters are fascinating to you. You're constantly reading off letters & then asking, "Mom, what does that spell?" You like when I trace letters on your back, & you correctly guess when I've spelled Emma, Mommy, Daddy, & Nonnie.

You remind me often that you are my "little love bug," & what a little love you are. You have such a sweet & empathetic heart. You can't be happy unless those around you are. If the child sitting next to you is crying, you are also crying until the child is soothed.

Grace & gentility is not a strong suit for you. You kind of boom into everything you do, & you're constantly booming into walls & doors & onto the floor. You know to be "kind & gentle" to others, but we're not sure you understand what being gentle means. Your kindness is very hands on & sometimes a little rough. You've almost broken our noses a few times with your excited hugs & kisses.

Your laugh is infectious & adorable. You are such a happy, little girl. You make us smile everyday & bring such joy to our hearts.

Tomorrow morning you're leaving to stay with Nonnie & Papi for three whole weeks (two without us, we'll be joining you the last week). I'm so excited for you to have that time to spend with my family, but it's also the longest time you've ever been away from your daddy & I. My heart already aches thinking about how much I will be missing you, our little sunshine. There will be lots & lots of skyping to help us get through it. Plus, we know you'll be having a blast. Then Daddy & I will join you in North Carolina for some last summer beach days Labor Day week.

I'm so excited about all the adventures your going to have down south. I can't wait to talk to you about all of them, but I'll miss tucking you in to your big-girl bed in your big-girl room for the next three weeks.

I love you so,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Big-Girl Garden Room Reveal: Star Gazing

Dear Em,
* This is part of a five post room reveal. For more peaks into the room, see also Big Girl Garden Room Reveal: The BedBig Girl Garden Room Reveal: Dressing UpBig Girl Garden Room Reveal: Your Book Nook, & love letters. *

No matter what camera I used (& I tried three) I just couldn't get a shot of the starry sky you can see from your bed. Nope, your room doesn't have a retractable roof. While that would be kinda cool, our house is nowhere near that technologically advanced.

I've always loved stargazing. Growing up, I had glow in the dark star stickers hanging all over my ceiling. I loved drifting off to sleep while gazing at my very own starry sky. The daytime was another story. The star stickers were a little of an eye sore during the light of day.

I wanted you to have your own starry sky without the daytime eyesore. When I was six months pregnant with you, I bought some glow in the dark paint & star stencils from the craft store. Is the image of me six months pregnant, standing on a stool, painting the ceiling a little ridiculous? The glow in the dark paint is barely visible during the day (it shows as a really pale yellow) but glows bright after you turn off the lights at night.

I loved tucking you in your nursery each night. Right before I switched off the lights, I would ask you if you were ready for your stars.

I wanted you to still have that for your big-girl room. I wanted you to have stars to make wishes on & coax you into sweet dreams. So, the last thing I did was stencil some stars on your ceiling. And I mean it was THE VERY LAST THING. You were actually laying in your bed (because it was bedtime) while I stood on your bed & quickly stenciled.

Now as I tell you "I love you so" one last time after I tuck you in, I know you'll be stargazing once I switch off the lights & shut your bedroom door.

Sigh, maybe I'll do a little stenciling in my room too.

I love you so,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Big-Girl Garden Room Reveal: Your Book Nook

Dear Em,
* This is part of a five post room reveal. For more peaks into the room, see also Big Girl Garden Room Reveal: The BedBig Girl Garden Room Reveal: Dressing UpBig Girl Garden Room Reveal: Star Gazing, & love letters. *

When I was a little girl, I longed for a book nook. One of my rooms had a window in an alcove, & I dreamed of a sweet little window seat in it. I would have read so many books in my quaint little book nook. Your papi worked on my room for months, & I forced a smile on my face when there was no window seat or book nook in my room reveal. I also never got the large weeping willow I wanted so badly so I could sit under it & read away my summer breaks. I was forced to go swimming in our pool instead. I know, it was a difficult childhood I lead.

Designing your big-girl room was my chance to finally give your room what I thought every little girl should have: a book nook.

Creating this book nook wasn't all sunshine & butterflies. I had a very specific plan for the shelves, & what you see is not what the plan entailed. Remember how I had bought these organizing cubes from Home Decorators Collection for a crazy amazing price? Well, I soon learned that they were a crazy amazing price because they were pieces of crap. I was in the middle of putting them together when I realized that not all of the right pieces needed to put the shelves together were even in the box. Then one piece completely fell apart & broke. No wonder they didn't even ask me to return them to the store. They just sent me a gift card for what I had paid (since I had bought them when they went on sale 5 months earlier). Luckily I can use the gift card at Home Depot, because I wasn't planning on buying anything else from their company.

That left me with no shelves, & have you noticed how expensive shelves are? Crazy expensive. I searched online for a replacement, but with the extra we spent on your bed I knew we couldn't afford to also splurge on shelving. That was it for me. Between the changes we had with your bedding & the disaster of the shelves, I'd had it. 

That's when I started to cry...over a bedroom design. I know. I'm not exactly proud, but that's what happened. In the middle of my tears & feeling bad for myself, I started an Etsy search. Etsy saved your room (& saved us a lot of money).

I found someone who was selling white-washed wooden crates that had been made into shelves. She didn't have as many as I wanted, but it gave me an idea. I ordered 12 unfinished, wooden crates from a wholesaler. They were more expensive than my original plan for shelves, but much cheaper than anything else I found. They also give the garden room the rustic vibe I was going for.

The crates were delivered disasembled. 12 crates= 60 sides. Your nonnie, cousin Michaela & I stained all 60 sides. I picked out a pink stain at Home Depot (well, I thought it was pink, it came out more purple) & a whitewash stain. It took what felt like forever to put two coats of stain on all 60 of the sides. Your nonnie & cousin Michaela will probably tell you I tortured them by making them stain in the garage in 100 degree heat. I just tried to smile, lie & say we were almost done, & bribe them with Dels Lemonaid. I'm sorry not to have pictures of us staining the 60 sides, but I'm pretty sure Nonnie & Michaela would have murdered me if I took out my camera.

Once the sides were stained, it was really easy for your daddy & I to put the crates together (they had pre-drilled holes). I was incredibly nervous about making the individual crates into shelves & anchoring them to the walls (like I said previously, I don't don't have a lot of confidence in our craftmanship), but that was actually pretty easy too.

I love the result, & it makes me smile to think we made this. We also finally have a spot to store a lot of your knick knacks, baby dolls, stuffed animals, & the library of books you've accumulated. 

We topped each shelf with purple flower prints that I found at Home Goods for a great deal. Michaela & I painted the frames pink to bring a little more of your two favorite colors, pink & purple, into the room.

While I was perusing Etsy for shelving ideas, I also came across bench ideas for the window seat. I found benches that were inexpensive, colorful, & rustic: just what I needed. I ordered your bench from Square Nail Furniture. I highly recommend this Etsy shop. They were so responsive. "Um, what if we made a bench this size by this size?" "No problem." "What if it was this size by this size." "No problem, but we'll charge you less." They let me customize the size (I needed it shorter & deeper) & the color (sunflower). I love the sturdiness of it. I love the rustic look of it. I love that there is an area for storage bins. I love that the shop refunded some of my money when they realized delivery would cost slightly less than what they had originally projected.

We added some throw pillows from Home Goods & Walmart (can you believe that Walmart had a better online selection of throw pillows than anyone else?), & we had created the window seat I always wanted.

We kept your yellow curtains from your old room & added some white sheers. I think they add a sunniness & match your bench so well.

To add a little more seating, we brought in your yellow rocking chair & your pink bunny chair from your nursery. Since "and they lived happily ever after," is one of your favorite lines from the books you read, the frame that we were given as a wedding present fits perfectly just above your bunny chair. I just added a happy picture of the three of us.

We also bought you a big, pink beanbag chair, personalized with your name on it. It was on-sale at Pottery Barn Kids. We figured it would be another comfy spot for you to read until your heart's content. 

And when the lights go out, the string lights we got from Target, give your room a little night-time magic.

There's one extra finishing touch that I put on your room to make your nights a little magical, & I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

Until then, you might find me sitting on your window seat, lost in a book & the beauty of what sits just outside your window.

I love you so,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Big-Girl Garden Room Reveal: Dressing Up

Dear Em,
* This is part of a five post room reveal. For more peaks into the room, see also Big Girl Garden Room Reveal: The BedBig Girl Garden Room Reveal: Your Book NookBig Girl Garden Room Reveal: Star Gazing, & love letters. *

You've loved playing dress-up for a while now, but we never had a place to store all of your dress-up clothes in your old room. Since you were moving into a bigger, big-girl room, I wanted to create an area where dress-up fun can happen.

In one corner we have your dress-up rack from Ballard Designs. We bought it with a coupon. It was still pricey, but I love it. It has all the storage solutions your last rack does not, & it's sturdy enough to hold all of your dress-up things. You have a lot. Mostly past halloween costumes, hand-me-downs, & things bought after halloween for great prices.

You enjoy sitting at your vanity while you put on your costume jewelry. Someday the vanity can double as a desk. For now, a sense of whimsy is added with these butterflies your Nonnie found at Land of Nod. We used ceiling hooks & fishing line to hang them. They look like they're kind of fluttering around your garden room.

In the middle of your dress-up area is your dresser that holds your regular clothes. It goes with your bed from Pottery Barn. We had bought your first dresser from Babies R Us. It was not a cheap dresser, but it was made with cheap materials & promptly fell apart in less than a year. This dresser is sturdy & will last after continued use. We love it & how much it holds. The best part was that your dresser & bed were assembled upon delivery (even though we had gotten a special for free delivery). Do you know how happy that made your daddy? Have I told you how much we love Pottery Barn?

You're rocking on your "rocking lamb" which was a gift from your aunt Gina.

The wall is decorated with prints we bought when we traveled to Ireland & my grandma had framed before you were born. We used them in your nursery, & I wasn't ready to let them go yet. The definition of your name was a baby shower gift. The bright yellow & blue candle holders we've had but haven't displayed, & the cute blue owl we found at Home Goods (had I gone there first, I probably could have done your whole room from HomeGoods).

I bought a mason jar & silk flowers from Michaels to add to the garden theme.

Santa had put these letters (from Kohls for super cheap) in your Christmas stocking, but we hadn't had anyplace to put them. Now they hold pictures of us, your nonnie & papi, your grandma & grandpa, your aunts & uncles & you. I thought it was a fun way to display the people you love so dearly.

In the corner, by your closet, sits a blue chair that used to be my grandma's. Wasn't my grandma so fun to have a blue chair, & how perfectly does it fit in your garden room? The girl in pink on the circle of wood hanging on the wall is something your Nonnie made for me when I was a little girl. Great, right? The little Emma ornament was a gift to you from your Uncle Briant & Aunt ErinShea, the hope ornament we bought in Ireland, & the Angel ornament was my grandma's. I like to think she's watching over you while you sleep. I love having pieces of our different family members throughout your room.

One of my favorite pieces is the personalized TuTu Bow Holder I ordered from Etsy. It is so beautiful & fun. It combines two of myfavorite things: asthetics & function. As you can see, you have a whole lot of hair bows & this is such an amazing way to store them. 

Last but not least is your very favorite spot, your mirror. We often find you dancing around in front of matter how you're dressed. It was off-white rather than white like the description suggested on Amazon, but that doesn't matter to you. You twirl & dance & giggle in front of it no matter what color it is. 

Lucky for me, your Nonnie painted beautiful vines & flowers throughout & now I'm OK with the color.

A fun spot for a fun girl...& boys...& everyone else who comes to play.

Tomorrow we'll look at the part of your room I would have most enjoyed at your age.

I love you so,

Monday, August 13, 2012

Big-Girl Garden Room Reveal: The Bed

Dear Em,
* This is part of a five post room reveal. For more peaks into the room, see also Big Girl Garden Room Reveal: Dressing UpBig Girl Garden Room Reveal: Your Book NookBig Girl Garden Room Reveal: Star Gazing, & love letters. *

After a lot of hard work & love, your big-girl room is complete. It's been mostly complete for a little over a month now, but we've been waiting for a few items to be shipped. Now it's time for the big reveal. Are you ready?

Remember this post? It was an outline of my dream design for your new room. I started by painting the room grey. After that things didn't go exactly all go as planned, starting with the bed. Originally, I planned on having two twin beds in your room. Not because we're planning to have another child. Just because I thought it would be fun when you had friends & family sleep over. Plus, we were going to spend less than $100 on both beds, because we were going to make these fun beds.

But then I chickened out.

You're a pretty active 2.5 year old. If there is something you can get your feet on, you're going to jump on it. You LOVED jumping in your crib. As many times as we ask you not to jump on the couches, the beds, the chairs, the tables...jumping is exactly what you do.

I wouldn't exactly call your daddy & I expert crafts-people. We have a hard enough time putting things together when they're pre-cut & pre-screwed with step-by-step instructions. I just envisioned you jumping away, the beds crashing down, & a tearful emergency room visit.

So, I chickened out.

I started looking at different beds we could purchase. Now that we weren't building your bed anymore, the price tag got a lot bigger. I had plans...great plans. I had drawn diagrams. I had pre-purchased things on-sale. Sigh, our budget was no longer lining up with those plans, & we had to make some changes to my dream design. Your daddy finally became the voice of reason. "Does she really need two beds," he asked.

That's when we came up with a Plan B. We decided to buy you a quality bed (& only one quality bed), that you could grow into. If we bought a toddler bed, we'd only be buying a new bed in a few years. Even with a twin sized bed, we'd probably be buying you another bed in the future. So, we picked out the full sized Catalina Bed from Pottery Barn Kids, a bed we hope to have for always. I love the beadboard paneling & white finish, & we bought it for a great sale price. Plus, we figure we could purchase a trundle bed for underneath once you start having sleepovers.

I was satisfied to have decided on & purchased your bed, but there was a little problem. You see, I try to get things as they go on-sale. This past winter I had already bought the bedding for two twin sized beds instead of one full sized bed. Whoops. I was about to learn how easy it was to return things (5 months later) at the different stores I had purchased them from.

I had bought the Daisy Garden Quilted Bedding from Pottery Barn Kids. I've loved Pottery Barn kids since before Daddy & I were married (they started sending me their catalogues & I would cry thinking of a cute baby in their adorable baby rooms...that's when your daddy started throwing away the Pottery Barn catalogues). I love them a little more now. Their return process was amazing. All I had to do was put the quilts in a box & put the box on our front porch. We didn't have to pay for shipping costs. Plus, they had the queen sized quilt & the gift card for the difference between the two (since it had been five months, they couldn't just return the money) in the mail before they even got my return. Amazing.

Company Kids wasn't as easy. For the winter time, you will need a little more than a quilt. I had bought two down comforters in buttercup. To return those I had to create my own return label, pack them up, ship them via FedEx, pay for shipping, & call them once I knew they had received them to remind them to refund my money. At least the full sized comforter I bought was on-sale. I also bought your fun pink polka-dotted sheets from Company Kids.

So, without further ado, here is the first reveal of your big-girl room: your bed.



You know everyone's favorite colors. It's one of your favorite things to ask people. You're thrilled that your new bedding incorporates Yours (PINK), your daddy's (blue), & my (yellow) favorite colors. You've become enamored with smelling & picking flowers. So, the quilt is just right for you. It's also girly without screaming pink. The pink polka-dots of your sheets add a little more pink & a little more fun.

We moved your book shelf from your old room into your new room, right next to your bed. This way you can continue to pull your books into your bed. It houses our very favorite books & some of your ever growing collection of stuffed animals. You can't really tell from the pictures, but the beadboard in the shelf matches the beadboard of your bed.

It was funny to see your little body in such a big bed at first. You love love love your big-girl bed, making the transition from crib to bed seamless. I've asked you if you want to go back to your "cribby" & you emphatically say "no thank you." We've lined the end of your bed with your favorite stuffed animals that were squished in your crib. Your music makers & sleep sheep hang from the bedpost, seamlessly bringing a little bit of your nursery to your big-girl bed.

Your babies sleep right next to you in the bunk beds your Aunt Jennie gave to you.

Your bed is big enough for snuggling as we read books. You also love to tuck everyone else into your bed. A great big shout-out to your cousin Michaela & your Nonnie for helping out so much with putting together your room. I hope they've enjoyed playing with you in it as much as you've enjoyed playing.

I think your bed is the perfect, comfy spot for you to dream big. I enjoyed putting it all together (ok, I'm not going to lie, there were some parts I didn't enjoy), & the best part is seeing your eyes sparkle as we tuck you in at night.

Sleeping isn't the only thing you do in your room, it's also become a fun place for you to play. Tomorrow I'll share one of your favorite spots to have fun.

I love you so,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Going Curly...Again

Dear Em,
While you're a blondie & I'm a brunette, we have do have hair similarities. You have the most adorable ringlets in your hair that I'm sure are going to grow into my hair type: Curly hair. Actually, yours may be even curlier since your daddy also has curly hair.

You may be shocked as I write this because my hair is almost always straight. At least it has been for the last six years or so. I used to rock curly hair all the time. Yes, I have naturally curly hair, but my curls were never the neat & perfect banana curls you see in magazines. Growing up, I envied my classmates with silky, straight hair. I envied the fact they could shower, brush & let their hair air dry without having to worry about looking like a chia pet hours later. Meanwhile, I was using mousse & almost always using the curling iron to mix some perfect non-frizzy curls into my hair.

So, then I went straight...for a long time. I like sporting straight, smooth hair. There's just two things. My hair mostly turns into a frizzball as soon as any moisture comes in contact with it & it takes forever to blow dry my hair straight EVERYDAY. It's actually one of the reasons I've kept my hair mostly short the past few years. It doesn't take as long to straighten shorter hair.

Recently, though, I've been inspired by my best friend & her gorgeous curly hair. I don't typically envy curly hair, but hers looked so amazing I kinda did. So, I picked her brain about what she was doing & what products she was using. The next time I went to the hair salon, I also asked my hairdresser about what to do about curly hair. She suggested a bunch of products that have the word "organic" highlighted on them & were organically expensive (which I promptly bought because I'm a dummy).

Then I read a couple blog articles about curly hair. Did you know there is a Curly Girl Method? Megan from Not Martha posted about her experience with it & her hair washing methods for curly hair (& a super inexpensive shampoo conditioner from Trader Joes). Jenny from Karma (Continued...) posted about what's working for her with the Curly Hair Method.

Today is day five of going curly for me (which is 4 more days in a row than I've had in 6 years), & I wanted to write about some of the things that have worked for me so far (in hopes that this might help you rock curly hair too).

- Shampoo/Conditioner: So everyone is pretty much in agreement. No sulfates & no silicones. That pretty much eliminates all of my typical choices. I'm still using the wicked expensive shampoo & conditioner I purchased at the salon, but when I'm out I'll be heading over to Trader Joes for their Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner. I've heard really good things about it from a bunch of people, even my best friend. The best part, though, it's only $3.99 at Trader Joes. Take that wicked expensive organic salon stuff!

I've also only been washing my hair with shampoo only a couple times a week. I've found that I have to start over with wet hair each morning (I have serious, non-reparable bed head each morning). Most mornings, I wet my hair & gently massage my scalp with my fingertips to loosen up dirt & oil. I rinse before applying conditioner to the ends of my hair & then rise again.

- Towels: Apparently, regular towels are also out...when it comes to your hair anyways. I do as little as possible with my hair when I get out of the shower. I wrap my hair turban style in a micro fiber wrap that I picked up at the dollar store (I've read that t-shirts also work well) & let the wrap soak up some of the moisture while I continue to get ready. My hairdresser had told me to eliminate anything that would weigh my curls down, & water does just that. Using the blow-drier seriously frizzes my curls out, but wrapping my hair allows the moisture to go out without letting frizz in.

- Product: I've tried a bunch of things that have either made my hair feel greasy or crunchy, but there are two things I've been using recently that have been pretty great.

Davines Sea Salt Primer: I spray this into my hair starting at the roots. Then I use a large tooth comb to comb it through from the roots to the ends.

Davines Moisturizing and Anti-Frizz Protective Fluid: I put a little, the size of a nickle, in the palm of my hand, work it into both hands, & scrunch it into my hair.

After that I make sure my hair is parted correctly, let my hair air dry, & play with it as little as possible. Wicked easy.

I'm not going to lie, I DO still use the curling iron a little. I just use it for a few curls to try to form my bangs the way I want them. There are days where frizz really starts to pop-up at the end of the day (I need a good end-of-the-day-curl-fixer product), but it's way better than it's been for a long time. It's also way quicker to do my hair each day, leaving me time for...well, everything else.

Here I am, rocking the curls, with my curly hair best friend. It's so nice to have someone to bounce curly hair tips off of. I'm going to keep with it & see if I can be a curly hair girl permanently. 

I love you so,

* Readers, what am I missing? What tips have worked well for you & your curly/wavy hair? *

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Olympic Fever

Dear Em,
The Summer Olympics in London has been going on for over a week now, & we've really been enjoying watching in our house. We almost always have it on in the background. I've learned more about cycling & some of the other sporting events than I ever knew before. Half of the competitions feature sports we never cared about before (badminton?!), but it's fun to learn more about each event & watch people go for their dream.

We've also gotten a little attached to some of the competitors. They've been featuring them all in different segments, & it's fun to learn a little more about where some of the Olympians come from & who they are. I find myself really rooting for certain individuals.

This year's swim team has been so fun & charismatic. We've loved watching their "Call Me Maybe" parody on UTube. You've become attached to the song as we've become attached to the athletes. You call it your song (after listening to the song on repeat, it's a hard one to get out of your head).

You get so excited to watch the different events. You jump up & down & twirl around in excitement. Your eyes sparkle as you shout "USA!" If only, ballet was an Olympic sport. That would totally make your day. We've found the girls events are your favorite. You yell, "Girl power! Boys are stinky!" I'm sure Daddy hopes you feel that way for a long, long time. 

With as much fun as we're having watching the Olympics this year, there are some things I've noticed that have made me a little sad. The commentators talk about the competitors before the event as if someone has already won. There is no sense of "anything can happen in the Olympics." No one seems to believe that anyone could rise to the challenge & anyone could crumple under the weight of stress. When someone unexpected wins, the announcers make it sound as if there was some kind of mistake. At one event, I heard an announcer say about one of the medalists, "she didn't even have any business being there." When one of the competitors who the commentators have labeled as the certain winner come in second or third place, the commentators talk about them & to them as if they are losers.

I just think it's so sad. These competitors have given up such a huge part of their life to prepare for this moment. I love to see team USA come in first, second, or third, but I can't help but be happy for whoever it is to win each event. To see the emotions of those who win the one should try to take any part of that from those competitors. Even if they weren't the favored athletes going into each competition. Plus, second & third place of all the people in the whole world doesn't sound that bad to me. Why are the silver & bronze medalist being treated like they lost?

It makes me sad about the message that is being sent to you & the children in your generation. I hope that you know you are capable of doing anything, & not limited to what the people around you think you can do. Just like in the Olympics, anything can happen in life. When you combine hard work & heart, you never know what can happen. And if you don't come out on top? That's really OK. Sometimes the it's more about the journey than the results & how you get back up & continue on. I don't want you to ever think that number one is the only place to be.

So, even though it may not be what we're seeing from the commentators on TV, we'll keep cheering for all of the Olympic wins...expected or not...Gold or Silver...or Bronze. We'll keep delighting in the dreams realized & the human stories.

Girl Power!

I love you so,

Friday, August 3, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
"Accept your failures without accepting defeat."
- Tim Wakefield, RedSox knuckleball pitcher 1995-2011

On Tuesday your daddy & I had the honor of meeting Tim Wakefield. Yes, that's a picture of me shaking his hand on the front page of the paper. I was telling him that your Papi has been a diehard Redsox fan for over 50 years & that Tim Wakefield is his favorite RedSox pitcher of all time. A big smile spread across his face as I shared that with him. You can't see it, but there was a big smile spreading across my face as well. I was shaking hands with a legend.

After meeting Wakefield, we were able to view a screening of the Knuckleball!, a fascinating documentary about the history & survival of knuckleball pitchers. The knuckleball has mostly been an undervalued pitch & watching the story of these pitcher's remarkable journey was thought provoking & touching.

Wakefield didn't even start out in professional baseball as a pitcher. He was originally a first baseman who had a hard time hitting with wooden bats. He was discovered as a knuckleballer one day when he was just playing around with the pitch. Becoming a knuckleballer was something he had to do in order to remain playing the game he loved. His pursuit as a knuckleballer wasn't easy. In a world that values speed, accuracy, & numerical accountability, Wakefield threw a ball so slow & unpredictable that no one wanted anything to do with it. Yet, with over 200 career wins, Wakefield has also been one of the most successful pitchers of all time, & certainly your Papi & my RedSox favorite.

Wakefield answered questions after the screening. It was an honor and an inspiration to be in the room as he spoke. One of the most powerful things he told us was to "accept your failures without accepting defeat." What an amazing message. So many of us are afraid to try & fail. If we can accept our failures without accepting defeat, maybe we can learn from our failures & try again. Maybe failures can be learning experiences that will help us to be a better version of ourselves. Maybe we need to fail a little to truly succeed.

I hope that your world is full of heros to learn from & look up to. I hope they encourage you to dream big, do your best, & know there is nothing you can't do. I know Wakefield has been one of those people for me. What an amazing experience it was to shake his hand, see him smile, & listen to his words.

I love you so,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Birthday Party for Little Loves: Luau Party Yummies

Dear Em,
This is a four part Series covering your Luau Birthday Party. You can also read about the Luau Party Location, Luau Party Invites, & Luau Party Decorations & Favors

One of my favorite parts of any party is yummy food. It doesn't necessarily make or break a party, but it can sure give a party some extra pizazz. The thing about your Luau party was that it started at 10am. Not exactly breakfast time for little loves, but not exactly lunch either. Also, you aren't a big fan of most lunch foods, & we thought it would be kind of nice if the birthday girl actually liked the food at her party. We had our work cut out for us.

Sooooo, we went with things you like & a little bit of everything. That's kind of what I do when I'm not really sure what to do.

 We had gone to a birthday party earlier in the year & watched the kids gobble up a fruit salad. You are starting to love blueberries, strawberries, & pineapple. So, we made a large fruit salad. Your favorite food in the world right now is probably yogurt. Panera Bread makes individual sizes of yogurt parfaits with yogurt, yummy granola, & fresh strawberries & blueberries. Did you know they also make large catering sizes? I've purchased it a few times for work functions & everyone loves it. So, we ordered a batch for your party. It was a huge hit (with the littles & the adults), but I should've paid a little more attention to how much it cost. I thought they had charged us in error. It was a hundred dollars! Whoops. In the future I probably would've bought a large thing of Chobani, some granola, & we could've used the fruit from the fruit salad for 1/4 of the price. At least we had tons of leftovers & were able to have yogurt parfait for breakfast for the next week. You loved it. That made me feel a little better about the cost...kind of.

We also had a Rhode Island party staple, bakery pizza (also known as pizza strips). You're not really a big fan of it, because you don't like sauce. Most Rhode Islanders love it, especially your Daddy, & we try to keep his tummy happy. We had covered both breakfast & lunch & also had animal crackers & pita chips & hummus to provide some munchie foods (we totally understand going to a party & having a toddler who refuses to eat any of the food & figured animal crackers would be something ALL the kids would eat in case they didn't want anything else).

The Children's Museum provided all of the plates & cups & forks. They also provided apple juice & ice cream sandwiches. Sigh, I love when things are included.

That just left us with my favorite, your donut cake. We ordered a cake from Allies Donuts. They are so affordable & will make donut cakes in the shape of anything. So far we had gotten a giant donut shaped cake & a cake in the shape of Rhode Island. This time we got your donut cake in the shape of a hula dancer, complete with blonde sprinkle hair to match yours. It was a vanilla donut with strawberry frosting & sprinkles. It was amazing.

They even wrote "Happy 2.5 Birthday Emma." I'm not going to lie, I blushed a little when I told them it was your 2.5 birthday party. 

When it came time to sing Happy Birthday, you beamed as you listened to your friends & family & looked at your donut cake. You blew out the candles all by yourself. I can't believe how much of a big girl you are. You loved the donut cake. I think you were just thrilled to be able to eat so many pink sprinkles. We had leftovers of the cake & you enjoyed donut cake for dessert for the next couple days. It was perfect.

That pretty much sums up the fun we had eating and playing at your luau party at the Children's Museum. This will be the last of the scheduled Birthday Party for Little Loves posts. It's been so fun recapping your Garden Party last year & your Luau Party this year (posted about here, here, & here). I'll be on the lookout for fun ideas for next year & will post some of my favorite ideas. There's a couple ideas that I'm already really excited about.

It's so fun to celebrate you.

I love you so,
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