Friday, August 30, 2013

love letters

Dear Em,
"Well, Nonnie, since you're such a special friend, you know you can come back to my house...maybe in a couple days?"
- Emma 3.5 years old

We had a fantastic summer with Nonnie. I can't tell you how fortunate I feel that she's able to spend the summer months with us in Rhode Island. It's hard saying goodbye to both the Nonnie & the summer almost simultaneously (you go back to school on Tuesday). 

It's hard for you to understand the distance between our house & Nonnie & Papi's house. So, you've asked Nonnie to come back to our house tons of times, as if she can just get in her car & be here in 10 minutes. I think it might break Nonnie's heart a little each time you ask (I know it breaks mine), but we've been filling in the gaps with phone calls & skype (believe it or not, when I was growing up long distance phone calls were extra money & skype didn't exist).

This summer was so filled with adventures & every adventure was that much more amazing having Nonnie to share it with. I know that your 3.5 birthday party wouldn't have been what it was without her. We had some crazy water & dodgeball fights. We got to be beachbums (we even got Nonnie to swim in the "freezing" New England ocean) & visit one of my favorite zoos. We taught Nonnie how to kayak & soaked ourselves in the process. I had an extra set of hands during all the wicked busy & wicked amazing double sleepovers. She was our photographer for our amazing family photo shoot. You had a partner in Barbies, you guys played barbies more times than I can count. We had picnics on the quad & enjoyed some of our favorite summer foods at some of my favorite summer restaurants. We went on shopping adventures, not many of them but we made up for that in the length of each trip. We got to spend time with Grandma & Grandpa, & it made my heart soar to see all the grandparents smile as they talked about you.

In between all the fun, you & Nonnie learned a lot together too. She took you on so many trips to the library & always came back with a mountain of books. She taught you some pretty nifty dance moves. You two worked on writing together, and you read your very first book with Nonnie (that memory will always be so precious in my heart). Nonnie also helped wean you off of naps, although I think we've found that you still need them from time to time.

Nonnie was such a big help & such a fun addition to our house. It feels a little quieter & emptier without her, but I'm so thankful for the time we had. I'm so thankful that I've been blessed with such an amazing woman as a mother, & now I can call her my best friend. I'm so thankful that you & her get to experience these precious moments together each summer. You have such a special & unique bond with your Nonnie, & I couldn't be more thrilled about it.

I can't wait for summer 2014 (is it too early to say that?), but
until next summer, thank goodness for skype & cell phones!

I love you so,

Thursday, August 29, 2013

First Time at Fenway

Dear Em,
I love the history involved in baseball. It makes my heart happy that the love of the game & the love of a team is passed down from generation to generation. And it's one thing to watch it on TV, but there's nothing like the very first time you go to a MLB game. The smell of the food, the smack of the bat, the roar of the's magical.

We're waiting to introduce you to that magic at Fenway Park. We want you to really be able to experience & enjoy your first game there. We want you to fall in love with the experience just like your daddy & I & our daddy's before us. Last year we took you to your very first baseball game to see the PawSox at McCoy stadium. You did great for a wiggly 2.5 year old, but it really just reinforced the notion that we needed to wait before bringing you to Fenway.

That doesn't stop us from trying to bring you up as the RedSox fan we hope you'll be. At the age of one, you made daddy swoon when you said "Go RedSox! Yankees Stink!" At two years old, our whole family melted listening to you sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." At three, you're favorite song is "Sweet Caroline." We're very proud.

While we're waiting to take you to a game, that doesn't mean we couldn't at least introduce you to our favorite ballpark. So, a few weeks ago we took you for a tour at Fenway Park. Nonnie, Papi, & your Uncle Jared came too. It was Nonnie, Uncle Jared, & your first time entering the gates of Fenway. It was so fun to explore all the different areas of the park (you got to stand on the Green Monster at just 3.5 years old!), & even Papi learned new things about his beloved ballpark & team.

Again, we were reminded that we need to wait before bringing you to a whole game. We were lucky to be constantly moving during the tour, because sitting & listening for long periods of time is still not your forte. After the tour we let you pick our lunch destination, Sweet Caroline's (where you did a beautiful rendition of the song), & then took you to the Boston Children's Museum to let you get your wiggles out.

It was such a fun day for everyone in my very favorite city. While we're going to wait before we bring you to your first game at Fenway, it made my heart so happy to share some of the magic with you at this age.

I love you so,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Face Painting

Dear Em,
As a parent, there are some things I want more for you than you want for yourself. Face painting, for instance, has been one of those things. Face painting has come a long way since I was a child. I used to have the option of a butterfly or a flower painted on my cheek. Now you can get your face painted to be a butterfly or a flower. There is glitter & jewels. Sigh, like life without smart phones & internet, you will never understand how much lamer face painting used to be.

I've been dying to see you all painted up! You? Not so much. Every time we have passed a face painting booth, you've turned up your nose while simultaneously giving me that stubborn don't-even-think-this-is-going-to-go-your-way look. The most I had been able to talk you into is getting a flower painted on your arm.

Until recently.

I've found a secret weapon. If there is another child with us who wants to do something, usually you will want to do it too. Maybe that's actually sorta like peer pressure, & I'm a bad parent for using it as my secret weapon. I don't care, because for the first time ever you got your face painted, & it was amazing.

When we mentioned face painting, your best friend S couldn't wait. So, you couldn't wait either. You went first. Of course you chose a princess design.

Then little S went. She chose a different princess design.

Then I thought, "what the heck," & I got my face painted too (is it possible I just wanted you to do it so it would give me an excuse to get my face painted too?).

Nonnie even joined in the fun.

We spent the rest of the Charlestown Seafood Festival with our painted princess faces riding rides, making our way through activity houses, & dancing to music.

The evening ended with an amazing firework display.

It was such a fun filled night that we got to share with little S, Daddy, Nonnie, Grandma, & Papa. It was definitely my favorite Charlestown Seafood Festival adventure yet. On the way home, we talked about our 3 favorite things from the day. What topped my list? Face painting, of course. That day will always be the very first day you got your face painted, & it was every bit as amazing as I had hoped.

I love you so,

Monday, August 26, 2013

and we're back

Dear Em,
Whoops? Did I take two weeks off from writing? It wasn't what I had planned. When Nonnie left to go back home, it was really sad for all of us. You and I wiped each other's tears & gave each other a snuggle while we waved bye to Nonnie & Papi's car as it pulled out of our driveway. It felt really strange, like we had to learn how to be a small family of three all over again. So, we took time to rest & relax. We took time to get organized. I took some time to unplug. Then we lost our internet for a little while. I just shrugged my shoulders. I guess my unplugged time was meant to be.

So, we took time for fun moments like this...

and we had new moments like this...

and my heart melted during moments like this...

But now I'm back & excited to get back to writing & recapping these moments & all the moments to come.

I love you so,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Red Dead Redemption

Dear Em,
It always makes me smile when Daddy comes up with activities to do with you. You get so excited for Emma-Daddy time. It makes my heart happy that the two of you have such a special bond.

Last weekend, you & Daddy hit a milestone together. You were downstairs with Daddy. When you came upstairs you were both smiling from ear to ear. You were bouncing with excitement. The two of you played your very first video game: Red Dead Redemption.

I know very little about video games, but I guess Daddy thought I was going to be pretty worried by the title of the game. "Don't worry I made sure she didn't have any weapons & put her person in a corner of the game where no one else was. She just had a lot of fun making the guy walk around," Daddy quickly assured me before I could even think of any reason to protest. He looked at you, a proud expression filling his face. "I think after watching characters move around on TV, she's really excited that for the first time she was able to control the way a character on TV moved."

I had to smile at your daddy. He was just so thrilled to see you loving something that he loves (in moderation). For the next hour, the two of you played Wii golf, Wii tennis, Wii bowling, & some more G rated Red Dead Redemption. "Oh no, Daddy! What happened to my guy?! He's in the water," I could hear you exclaim from the basement. "Oh, Emma, he doesn't know how to swim. He'll come back, but try to keep him out of the water."

Maybe I should be worried about you developing a video game obsession. Maybe I should be researching what is age appropriate & what's not. But I'm not. Right now I'm just smiling thinking about a precious moment shared between my little girl & her Daddy...& how much I love you both.

I love you so,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Providence WaterFire

Dear Em,
I was in college when I went to my first Providence WaterFire. It was magical. Although after dark, the city came alive with music while over 80 crackling bonfires burned in three of downtown Providence's rivers. It was beautiful. It took my breath away.

WaterFire was fun too. There used to be dance lessons before the fires were lit followed by an evening of dancing. One time Daddy & I & friends enjoyed a night of laughter & swing dancing. There are also people who pose as sculptures & yummy food.

Your daddy & I moved away from Rhode Island for a time, & it was a few years that we didn't get to enjoy any WaterFires at all. Then we had you, & the thought of navigating you in a stroller through the packed crowds of people made my head spin. But then my family came to visit, & I was so anxious to share the magic with them all. So, with a little hesitation, we took you to your very first WaterFire when you were just 1 1/2.

We didn't bring a stroller. I get claustrophobic enough in the sea of thousands of people. Maneuvering a stroller through it all (& up stairs) would have surely given me a panic attack. Luckily, my family is large & we had lots of helpers to carry you. Taking a 1 1/2 year old to WaterFire wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. In fact, it was really amazing. My family became just as enchanted with WaterFire as I did my first did you.

There are 13 WaterFire lightings each season. Sadly, last year we missed them all, but I couldn't wait to take Nonnie with us again this year. This time you were two years older. You're a great walker & wouldn't require a stroller or carrying. Plus, I was a WaterFire-with-a-child veteran. I wasn't as intimidated this year. I was so confident with my WaterFire-with-a-child abilities, I thought "why not take two kids?!" So, you, Nonnie, & I headed to WaterFire with your best friend S. 

I was feeling like a pretty awesome Mommy. I even had the great insight to stop at Job Lot to buy cheap glow necklaces & bracelets. How fun would that be once the sun set?! This was going to be the best night ever...or maybe not exactly. Here's how things actually went.

7pm: Arrive at Providence Convention parking lot. Walk 15 minutes with two kids to the WaterFire area.

7:15pm: Find the perfect spot to wait for the WaterFire lighting. A spot that might not be the best view but provides room for you & S to dance & spin around without knocking people over or falling into the river. 

7:20pm: Buy everyone Dels.

7:30pm: Realize I forgot the fricking glow sticks in the car, run (like for real run) back to the parking garage, & run back to the perfect spot where you, S, & Nonnie are waiting for me. Frick! Frick! Frick!

7:50pm: Return to our perfect spot sweating profusely & realize that our perfect spot has become a lot more crowded than when I first decided it was a perfect spot & there really is no view of the fires. Search for a better perfect spot.

8pm: Sit down at the new perfect spot...sniff...sniff...Is that poop?! OMG, you've got to be freaking kidding me!

8:05pm: Feel lucky that none of us actually touched the poop, although feel like we had gotten too close for comfort. Find a new perfect spot that is dangerously close to the river but hope that we can keep you from falling underneath the railing. Watch Nonnie have 13,000 panic attacks about you falling into the river. Watch S sit safely & maturely & wonder if it is even possible for you to sit still for 30 seconds?! Look at the dirty river water & contemplate if I would jump in after you if you fell. Ultimately decide that I would but that it would probably be awful.

8:15pm: When is the freaking sun going to set so they can light the fires?! Crack open the glow sticks & bracelets to distract you from trying to slide underneath the railing & falling into the river.

8:21pm: They've started lighting the fires, but it goes ever so slowly. When the fires in front of us are finally lit, take in the beauty. Look down at you. You are BORED. "Is this it? Can we do something now," you ask impatiently.

8:35pm: Decide to walk around. "I don't want my glow necklaces," you whine. Give them all to little S. She now has 8 glow necklaces around her neck & is lit up like a Christmas tree.

8:40pm: A woman passing by asks where we got the glow necklaces from. I explained to her that we got them at Job Lot & not the event. Then I think, "What the heck, S has 8," & hand her the top two glow necklaces from S's neck for her to have. Feel pretty good about helping out a stranger.

8:41pm: You ask me why I gave glow necklaces to a lady we don't know. I explain to you that it is nice to do things for others. You begin to cry about me giving away the two glow necklaces you can't live without (even though you didn't want them originally).

8:45pm: People are staring at us. You're still crying, which doesn't really go with the peaceful music that is playing. I am wondering why I didn't leave you at home with Daddy. Nonnie is desperate to get you to stop & convinces S to give you her pink glow necklace, even though it is also her favorite color. You stop crying.

8:50pm: You're crying again. Apparently this time it's because you saw someone holding popcorn & you realized you might die if you don't get some in your belly NOW. Nonnie says she is happy to treat us all to some popcorn. The popcorn search begins.

9:20pm: We walked what seemed like miles through small areas packed with thousands of people, but we finally find what actually might be the World's Best Popcorn! It seems as though you will live. You are happy again. Nonnie & S are happy. I just want to find a uncrowded spot to sit quietly & take in the beauty of the music & bonfires.

9:30pm: I find my quiet, perfect spot. You look at me. "Mommy, I have to go potty." Augh! There are no bathrooms that I know of nearby. I think for a second about trying to get you to pee in the river. Not a good choice. All he bathrooms I know of are back near the parking garage. "Let's just find a bathroom & head home."

9:40pm: I notice a guy standing next to you in the crowd holding a red solo cup filled with some type of mysterious liquid. I instruct you to watch out, not wanting you to have said liquid spilled all over you. "Watch out for what guy?!" you ask me. It was then I realize that at your height, you can't see anything other than a sea of people's legs. I realize that your WaterFire experience vastly differs from mine. 

10pm: The bathrooms weren't where we thought, & after walking for forever we end up in a dirty Macy's bathroom. I think we all just feel lucky you didn't have an accident before we got there. Except then you accidentally pee on your shorts in the bathroom stall. We wrap your shorts & underwear in paper towels & head to the car.

10:15pm: Made it back to the car. Have you & S change into PJs before strapping you into your car seats. Watch you both fall asleep before we even leave the parking garage.

10:45pm: Arrive home. You & S are so exhausted you don't even wake as we take you out of the car & up the stairs to bed. I feel just as exhausted & collapse in my own bed immediately after tucking you in.

The next WaterFire is this Saturday. As magical as it is, I think we will make our own magical firepit at home this time.

I love you so,

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