Thursday, September 26, 2013

Apple Crispies

Dear Em,
The fall seems to be when I do most of my baking. Maybe that's because we need to find something to do with all of our apples after we've gone apple picking. This past weekend I had a blast baking all kinds of apple treats with my little apprentice. Three years old is such a fun age for baking. You're so excited to help, & you're really getting great at measuring, mixing, & rolling. It's wicked messy & wicked fun.

I found an easy recipe online (I think it was on facebook, but I can't really remember for sure) for apple pie crescent bites that were perfect for a three year old helper.

Apple Pie Crescent Bites 
(Well, you call them Apple Crispies)

- One large apple, peeled & cut into 8 slices
- Tube of Crescent Rolls
- Sugar
- Cinnamon

Start with crescent rolls unrolled. Sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon. Roll apple slice into roll. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Enjoy.

You were thrilled to sprinkle, roll, & watch the rolls bake. I was thrilled to watch my little love smile. We were all thrilled to eat them up.

We filled up the rest of the weekend by baking a pie & making apple sauce. I'm glad we never get sick of apples. We'll be eating our weight in them for the next few weeks. Lucky for me, I have the sweetest little sou chef (sou baker?) by my side to help with the baking & eating.

I love you so,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Three Favorite Things

Dear Em,
I read a blog post a few months back about practicing thankfulness. One family ends every day by listing their three favorite things from that day. There were many reasons why they did this. They want their kids to realize & be grateful for what they have. They wanted to have a daily discussion with their kids about their day. Most of all, they hope that by thinking of their three favorite things each day, their children will be better prepared to see the blessings that surround them even when they face tough times.

I loved the idea, & we've started to practice thankfulness in our house as well. For me, the discussion fits nicely during our prayers at night. There are some nights that you mostly forget anything you experienced during the day. On those nights, all of your favorite things are typically things we just did (taking a bath, reading books, snuggling). Most nights, I'm really pleasantly surprised by the things you list.

You almost always include playing with your little friends or members of our family. We talk about how fortunate we are to have so many incredible people in our lives that we can share precious moments with. You talk a lot about reading with Daddy & I. I think part of that is because you love to read, but part of it is we just finished reading & it's the activity most fresh in your mind. Sometimes you find you have more than 3 things that you want to share. You list crafts we did together, games you played, parks you visited, & even being able to watch TV. You almost never list the things that you own, but rather the activities that you shared with others. It's refreshing for me to hear, especially when I sometimes feel pressured to fill our home with everything you want.

Last week we had a really tough day. I mean, it was mostly a tough day for you, but it can be really hard for me as a parent to watch you go through something traumatic. You had an altercation on the playground which landed us in the pediatrician's office with you needing to get stitches on your forehead above your eye. You were a champ, but it was a lot for a little love. It was a lot for me to hear that your childhood altercation was going to be a permanent fixture on your forehead. Yup, you'll likely be rocking a small scar in your future.

As I tucked you into bed, we said our prayers, & I asked you about your three favorite things. You could have listed nothing & instead wallowed in your traumatic experience. You could have told me it was an awful day & nothing about it was your favorite, but you didn't. You talked about a little friend who helped you when you were hurt. You talked about getting a sticker at the pediatricians office. You talked about Grandma, Papa, Daddy, & I being there to watch your gymnastics practice. It brought tears to my eyes that you were able to see the good in what seemed to me like a bad day.

After giving you one last kiss & saying goodnight, I tried to follow your lead. I thought about my favorite things that day. I thought the support that we had gotten that day from your school, your pediatrician's office, our friends, & our family. I thought about your smiles during gymnastics that night.  I thought about how although you had been hurt, I was able to watch you jump & dance & twirl & sing because ultimately you are a healthy & strong little girl. Just like that, a rough day seemed a little brighter & sunnier.

I think our three favorite things has become one of my favorite things that I hope we will do for always.

I love you so,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

through your eyes

Dear Em,
You are a girl of many hobbies: ballerina-ing, reading, watching tv, swinging on the swingset, art, making messes throughout the house & my car, being an artist, twirling, being a princess. The list goes on and on. Recently you've added a new activity to the list: photography.

You got a children's camera for Christmas that you've recently become really excited about. When you don't have your camera, you've been begging to use mine & Daddy's iPhones. You smile as you zoom in on whatever interests you. "Ooooooooh, that's amazing." You run to Daddy & I, bursting to share what you've captured.

I love to see you enjoying something that I enjoy so much myself, but most of all I love that your photos give me a chance to see the world through your eyes. By looking at each one of your snapshots, I get to view what is interesting & beautiful to you. This is how you saw our kayaking adventure.


Ok, maybe I helped you with this one...

But you took this selfie on your own.

I love this one best I think.

On our last trip to Boston, you explored with my iPhone during lunch.

I love how much natural beauty you found in the middle of a city.

You also found things that were not natural at all. At least Daddy doesn't mind when you're the one taking photos.

We helped you with this amazing selfie.

But this cuteness was all you.

Daddy has been giving you his iPhone during the drive to school each morning. He shares it with me at the end of the day & we love looking at what you captured. There's a lot of headrests, adorable little toes (you ask if you can take your shoes off so that you can take pictures of them), but there are also some really amazing out the window shots. 

I love your excitement with it. I love that Daddy is going to have 2 paparazzi following him around. I kinda wish that you could take your camera around with you throughout your day. At least then when I ask you what you did, I would get more than "I don't know."

I love you so,

Monday, September 23, 2013

small moments

Dear Em,
As much as I love summer & hate to see the season go, I also love fall. I love the gorgeous weather and crisp air. I love the bright colors. Most of all I love all of the fall activities. The first activity that really gets me in the mood for fall is apple picking. So, the weekend of the fall solstice seemed like an appropriate one for us to make our way to Narrow Lane Orchard.

You were more excited this year & actively participated more than ever before. You wanted to hold the apple bag by yourself, & you took the job of finding the perfect apple very seriously. I was so struck by how much you've grown each year. I still remember your very first apple picking experience. You were just barely walking, & I remember you holding on to the back of the wagon & toddling along. Now you were pulling us up & down the aisles of apple trees.

What a difference a few years make...

This year you were dancing around in your sparkly, twinkle toes sneakers. They light up as you walk, which had you looking down at your feet almost as much as you looked up at the apples. While the patterns on your clothes were a little mismatched & busy, your whole ensemble made me smile. Your outfit just reminded me of you at this age: full of sparkle & color & personality.

You know, I feel like each year truly has gotten better & better. I miss the sweet moments & milestones of the past, but I can't help but look forward to the precious moments of the future. Because for most people, life isn't made up of great big moments each and every day. Life is made up of small moments, moments like apple picking as a family. These are the small & incredible moments that I will cherish. These are the moments that make me sigh & thank God for me little family of three.

I love you so,

Friday, September 20, 2013

love letters

Dear Em,
"I need a word so I can say what I'm feeling today
I need a word so I can say how I feel
I need a word that will say what I'm meaning to say
And tell you the way that I'm feeling..."
- Dave Matthews on Sesame Street

When you started school this year, your teachers asked us what our goals are for this year. Topping that list is finding ways to appropriately express yourself without throwing tantrums/turning into a mini terrorist/going on a scary rampage (sitting still for longer than five seconds is number two on the list). We've been working on you using your words to express your feelings. I feel like I say "Em, that is not how we communicate" on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong. We've come a long way. I feel like we're finally starting to see the light at the end of the tantruming threes tunnel. Still, you are three, & learning how to express your feelings is something that we're working on. 

Imagine how happy my heart was when two of our favorites, Dave Matthews & Sesame Street, came together to sing a song about feelings. There is a banjo, a sweet melody, & an amazing message. I feel like music has played such a major role in how you learn. You were preciously singing your ABCs before you were 18 months old. So, I love that you can listen to an amazing song about using your words, rather than just listening to Daddy & I nag about it. I feel like it puts such a positive light on what has been an incredibly frustrating subject.

We're pretty much going to be YouTubing this on repeat.

I love you so,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

girls date night

Dear Em,
Daddy had a busy but fun week last week, leaving us to fend for ourselves a bunch. Rather than let Daddy have all the fun, I asked you if you wanted to have a girls date night with me. You enthusiastically agreed & picked Duck & Bunny as our date night spot (we've come a long way from McDonalds).

You chose to sit outside (good choice!) & we explored the quaint little garden. We rubbed & smelled the lavender & mint leaves. You ooohed over the flowers & sparkly garden decor.  We played Old Maid & you sipped gulped down chocolate milk while we waited for our yummy crepes. After we filled up on our entrees, you were thrilled to order a purple lavender & honey cupcake.

The sun was setting as we drove home. "Ok, so now we will go to the park, swing on swings, jump on the trampoline, go out for ice cream, do a kiwi crate..." You seemed to have an endless list of activities planned for us. I apologetically explained that it was getting late & we would have to head home for books & bed. "But we're on a date," you sighed. "There are so many more things we have to do for our date." I smiled. I think your idea of a date is doing all- & I mean all- of your very favorite things all at once (you're setting some pretty high expectations for when you're ready for dating).

You settled for extra books. You read me two BOB books before I read three books from your book shelf.

You know what? It just might have been the perfect date.

I love you so,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

your soccer dance

Dear Em,
You've been telling us that you want to get involved in dance for a while. As funny as it sounds, while you've been practicing your soccer basics, you've also been able to work on your dance moves during your soccer games. You've heard of end zone dances? Well, my darling child, your soccer goal celebratory dances put them all to shame.

You see that look of absolute joy on your face? Sigh. I just love to watch you play.

I love you so,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Princesses & Baseball

Dear Em,
Yesterday after work you, Daddy, & I snuggled in bed & watched a movie. I drifted in & out of an amazing nap. We ate oatmeal for dinner. We were lazy bums, & I loved every second of it. We needed every second of it. We were recovering from our fantastic weekend.

The highlight of your weekend (other than scoring your very first soccer goal) was going to Disney on Ice: Princesses and Heroes with Grandma & Papa. You couldn't wait to dress up as a princess yourself & were very particular about the princess look you wanted. You gave me detailed instructions on how to put together your outfit, accessories, & hair. We ran into a few...battles.

I insisted you wear a turtleneck under your princess dress. The summer heat is long gone, & I figured an ice skating venue would be chilly. You looked at the turtleneck in disgust. "I am NOT wearing that," you shouted while giving me a look that said, "Let's see who can be more stubborn." I explained to you that I didn't want to be chilly & that if you didn't wear the turtleneck, we would need to find a non-princess, weather appropriate outfit for you to wear. "Fine, I'll wear it," you pouted. I was surprised that you gave in that easily. Win for Mommy.

We used the curling iron on your hair for the first time, & I spent almost 40 minutes on your curly up-do. You insisted on wearing a crown that fell off your head at least ten times while I was fixing your hair. I felt like there was no point in fixing your hair if your crown was just going to fall out every fifteen seconds. I suggested a different crown. You stomped your feet & screamed. We finally compromised on a third princess crown that was really made for dolls but would actually stay on your head (Is it weird I felt a little like Macgyver?). It wasn't your original vision, but it would work. Win Win.

When I finally finished, I couldn't wait for you to see the end result. You looked amazing, the perfect picture of a 3.5 year old princess. You ran into my room to look in our full length mirror. I waited to hear "oooohs" & "awwwws" & exclamations of glee. I heard nothing. I walked into my room, a proud grin covering my face. "What do you think? Do you love it?!" I was practically bouncing with happiness.

"I look like a witch," you said matter of factly.
My grin transformed into face of mass confusion. "Wha...?!"
"A witch with a pretty dress & pretty crown &...yucky hair," you continued.
You've got to be freaking kidding me. God help us all if you do somehow become a princess. You can be a should I put it...high maintenance.

"How probable do you think it is that we can get out the door by 11," Daddy asked me. I gave him a look that said fat chance. We headed back into the bathroom. I reworked your hair until you gave me the seal of approval. Win for Emma.

I was just happy to come out of it without any all out wars. I had to admit. You did look absolutely amazing. My reward for pulling together an acceptable princess look & a hair victory? Daddy & I went to Boston for the RedSox vs. Yankees game while you enjoyed your magical Disney experience with Grandma & Papa. I have to say watching my favorite team (beat my least favorite team) with my favorite guy is not a bad way to spend an evening.

Picking up my sweet, high maintenance princess from school & listening to her recount her dazzling Disney experience is not a bad way to spend a Monday either ("Mom, it was so amazing!").

I love you so (even if you are a little high maintenance),
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