Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween 2013

Dear Em,
Is it really your fourth Halloween? It puts a smile in my heart that you get a little more excited about the holiday each and every year. From helping me decorate the house to dancing through corn mazes, Halloween is one of your favorite holidays. This year you are a sweet, little pink rose. I saw the costume last summer, fell in love with it, & hoped you'd agree to wearing it this year. Luckily, it's your favorite color & you love flowers. We put it on for a little photo shoot last week, & I was amazed at how grown up you look this Halloween. I remember you toddling around your very first year as a Strawberry, how you could barely say "trick or treat" as Little Bo Peep, & how little you seemed as a sweet Lamb. I think a flower is fitting for you this year, because you're growing like a weed.

You aren't alone in dressing up for Halloween this year- Daddy & I dressed up too. I'm happy to report that we got creative this year. Last year we just wore skeleton pajamas. Although it is kinda nice when you can go right to bed after a party without having to change your clothes, I felt kinda guilty for having really lazy costumes.

This year I was determined to be more original, but it's really tough to come up with a couples costume that Daddy will agree to. I must have had a million ideas that he nixed this year, but then I saw one that I knew he would love. While Daddy isn't incredibly artsy, he does have a favorite artist. When Daddy was home sick or just wanted to relax when he was growing up, one of his favorite things to watch was Bob Ross, the painter. So this year Daddy got to dress up as Bob Ross & I got to dress up as his painting.

Daddy looked hilarious &...well...very hairy. He was complete with a mustache, beard, chest hair, & a huge mass of frizzy curls on his head. While I originally planned to iron a printed photo of one of Bob Ross's paintings onto a white shirt, at the last minute I decided to try to paint an imitation of his work instead. It was kind of fun. All I could think while I painted was "I'm painting happy little, trees." What do you think? Kinda close?

From here.

Even Charlie joined in on the costume fun this year. You & I picked out a great little sailor suit for him. I can't say that he loved it, but I'm sure he is glad he got to celebrate too.

Unfortunately Joey will not be joining in on the family fun. You asked us what Joey was going to be this year, & we told you Joey is just going to be a grouch. I don't think any of us are willing to risk getting our faces scratched off to get a costume on him.

I can't wait to join you for the Halloween party & parade at your school today. I love being able to see all the adorable kids all dressed up. Afterwards, we'll head down to Mystic for our fourth year of trick or treating with little S & her family. Holidays are so stinkin' fun now that there is you. Everything seems so much more magical.

I love you so,

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fall Craftiness

Dear Em,
I love projects. When things get crazy & we don't have time for crafts, my soul feels like something is missing. I just need that artistic outlet.

In general, we are busy people. I feel like I blink & a whole month has gone by. The past couple months have been no exception. Your kiwi crates have piled up. I've looked at fall crafts posted online with longing. I just had to get my craft on, & I realized if I didn't make time there wouldn't be any time.

So, I just squeezed it in. I squeezed Halloween costume crafts at night, when I probably should have been in bed (I can't wait to show you what I created). We squeezed pumpkin painting in on a busy day when I realized I had pushed it back for three days & couldn't bear to tell you we didn't have time for it again. We squeezed Halloween gift making in between dinner & bath time. We squeezed in pumpkin carving during football (you know how hard it was for me to convince Daddy to join us?!).You know what? I was a little tired, but my heart was so happy to have spent this month getting our craft on.

I'm so glad we squeezed in time to make Halloween hangers this month. First I took you outside for a little Halloween photo shoot. We printed out our favorite photo & three of our favorite photos from the previous three years. While I set out cutting & gluing, you worked on your own little project for Nonnie & Papi (we'll talk more about this later).

We made one for us, one for Grandma & Papa, & one for Nonnie & Papi. I think my favorite part about it is being able to see how much you've grown each year & remembering all the fun we had in Halloweens past. It reminds me of how far you've come & how far we've come along as a family. You love saying hi to Strawberry you, Little Bo Peep you, Lamb you, & Rose you every time you walk past our front door.

Thanks for being my little craft buddy, even on the busy day.

I love you so,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jack O Lantern Spectacular

Dear Em,
I love Rhode Island & all of the fun traditions we get to enjoy here. One of my fall favorites is the Jack O Lantern Spectacular at our local zoo. We've gone every year since you were born to see the 5,000 jack-o-lanterns on display. Each year there is a different theme, different music, & tons of bright jack-o-lanterns to enjoy. While we had fun creating our own jack-o-lanterns this year, ours pale in comparison to the ones on display at Roger Williams Zoo. Daddy wasn't able to join us this year, but with my best friend visiting with your little friend T, we were excited to share the Halloween magic with them.

We always make sure to arrive early, having heard stories that people have waited in line for more than three hours to enjoy the Jack O Lantern Spectacular. Since waiting in a line with a three year old and one year old for an extended period of time is probably on my list of top ten things I would like to avoid, I was relieved that we didn't have much of a wait. During the short wait we had, you were thrilled to find there different characters walking along the line & talking to all the kids. Snow White was your favorite.

Once the sun set & darkness filled the zoo, we were soon immersed in jack-o-lantern magic. This year's theme was Pumpkinville USA, with music & jack-o-lanterns representing people & places throughout our country's history. As we walked through the bright pumpkins, you noticed people taking pictures. With your growing love of photography, you asked if you could carry my phone & take pictures. I gave it to you & smiled as I watched you capturing images you thought were important. Apparently, there was a lot you found important. When we got home, there were at least a hundred photos of pumpkins for me to look through. Ha! Here were some of my favorites.

You couldn't wait to tell your teachers that there was an owl jack-o-lantern, since that's what you're studying in school this month.

I was excited to see that Rhode Island was represented.

You were excited to see that Hawaii was represented. "That's where Lilo & Stitch live," you told little T.

There was also a kids area with fun images of ponies & minions & Yosemite Sam.

As usual, the finale didn't disappoint, filled with fun music & thousand of pumpkins to take in.

After the fun finale, there is always a quiet "in memory of" spot where those who had passed away were honored. There were pumpkins for celebrities, but the jack-o-lanterns that touched my heart the most were honoring those who were lost at Sandy Hook & the Boston Marathon.

You left the zoo exhausted from all the walking but with a sparkle in your eyes. I was a little exhausted too (although I think that had more to do with spending the day with two littles than the walking we did), but my heart was full. The night was truly spectacular. The fall evening air was crisp, & there was a sea of stars in the sky. I couldn't help but smile. I loved that we were able to share this little piece of magic with our dear friends & that we can keep coming back to it year after year. It really is true what they say, there's no place like home- especially if your home is Rhode Island.

I love you so,

Monday, October 28, 2013

Falling for Pumpkin

Dear Em,
I feel like one of the telltale signs that fall is here is the prevalence of pumpkin flavored things. Somehow every food group is infused with pumpkin. I wish I liked the taste of pumpkin, I really do. All the foods & drinks look so yummy. I've tried to love pumpkin. I've tried forcing myself on coffees & muffins & pies. Unfortunately, I just can't get on board. I don't like pumpkin.

That wasn't going to stop your fun. My best friend came to visit with her sweet little 1 1/2 year old son, T. While I'll talk more about their visit in a later post, I think one of the highlights for the two of you was picking out pumpkins together. It wasn't anything flashy. We just went to a local coffee shop, Fresh Ground Garden Cafe, that also sells fun things like pumpkins & gourds. We let the two of you loose, & I can't believe how much fun you both had picking out the perfect mini pumpkins. It was so stinkin' cute.

We covered you in Daddy's button down shirt & a smock & let you paint the pumpkins at home. I love watching you paint, especially the kind of painting where you don't have to try to stay in the lines. While it requires a little more set-up & clean-up than plain old markers or crayons, watching the fun you have more than makes up for it. You have such a blast, & it's all your own creation. You love to paint in a hilarious mixing-up-all-the-colors-&-drowning-everything-in-the-dipping-water kind of way. Your mini pumpkins were truly masterpieces.

Daddy & I never really got into the spirit of pumpkin carving last year. Instead, we enjoyed the pumpkins that Nonnie had carved for us. This year we decided to join in on the fun (OK, actually I decided to join in on the fun & Daddy gave in only because we let him watch football while we carved). We returned to the Fresh Ground Garden Cafe with Daddy & picked out three large pumpkins for carving.

Daddy made a simple face. You helped him design the outline with your markers & then colored in some more just for fun. With the World Series in full swing, I wanted a Boston themed one. I looked for templates online but ended up designing my own Boston Strong pumpkin. We asked you if you wanted to paint or carve yours. You excitedly declared you wanted to carve one, & you wanted it to be Hello Kitty (Daddy & I were recently talking about how surprising it is that Hello Kitty is so popular for little girls. There aren't any Hello Kitty movies or shows that we're aware of. How did she become so freaking popular?!). Unfortunately, you hate everything about carving pumpkins. You don't like the ooey, gooey feeling of gutting the pumpkin, & you're too little to use the sharp carving tools. So, unfortunately YOU carving a pumpkin really means you dance around & bump into Daddy & I while WE carve your pumpkin.

In the end, it was a fun activity we got to share, & we had five wicked fun pumpkin creations (three carved & two painted) & one super sweet little girl.

Plus, we had a ton of pumpkin seeds. I could eat pumpkin seeds for days. So, I guess I kinda love pumpkin after all.

I love you so,

Friday, October 18, 2013

love letters

Dear Em,
"I want a new life
And I want it with you
If you feel the same
Don't ever let it go
You gotta believe in the spirit of love
It'll heal all things
It won't hurt anymore..."
- Boyz II Men "On Bended Knee"

Someday (I hope) you will go to a middle school dance. If your experience is anything like mine was, you will stand in a circle with your girlfriends. It's possible that you will spend most of the dance in the bathroom with your girlfriends, half of you crying over what you won't even be able to remember twenty years later (it's funny how young hormones can make you feel like your problems are the biggest problems in the world, when really you probably don't even know what real problems are yet). But then you will hear the first notes to one of your favorite slow songs, & you might hope that a boy will ask you to dance (or you'll be brave & do the asking).

The year was 1995, & my favorite R&B group was Boyz II Men. My parents bought me the cassette tape to reward me for getting straight A's. I played that tape all day, & rewound & played again. I can remember slow dancing to the songs from that tape.

Last weekend I got to see Boyz II Men in concert for the very first time. Listening to their songs brought me back to those middle school dances. It brought me back to walking up to a boy to ask him if he likes one of my friends (circle yes, no, or maybe). It brought me back to my childhood home (or at least the home I experienced more of my childhood in than any other home). It brought me back to calling our favorite radio station to dedicate songs to our friends & our crushes. It's been ages since I've listened to their music, but I sang right along, the words & melodies never really leaving my heart.

It was awesome...but it was also a little bit sad.

This was a group who had been big, I mean BIG big. They set records for hit songs that have yet to be broken. And there they were, on a small stage, at a small venue, with just one screen. At one point, none of their lips were moving but I could still hear the words to their songs. They were playing the vocals to their songs over the speakers?

And there were a lot of...well...older women, getting a little bit rowdy to the gyrations of Boyz II Men's hips. And then it hit me. Am I an older woman too? Surely it was just yesterday that I was in middle school. If I was middle school me, would I be embarrassed to see me rocking out with the other older women? Would my middle school me think that I was totally lame? Sigh.

It won't stop me from jamming to their music in private. I downloaded their albums to my iPhone & you & I have been rocking out in the car ever since. Most of the songs are probably a little too slow for your taste, but one day when you're in middle school & you're hoping that a boy will ask you to dance, you'll understand.

I love you so,

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Umbrella Factory

Dear Em,
Rhode Island truly feels like home to me. While it's not where I am originally from, sometimes it feels like it is. Perhaps, this is because I've lived in Rhode Island longer than anyplace else. It also could be that since Daddy is a local, he's introduced me to all of what have become our favorite local places.

Back when we were in college, he brought me to the Umbrella Factory. It's was a charming little place with a shop that sells things like incense & jewelry. There were pretty outside walkways surrounded by greenery. Perhaps the best part were all the animals. There were emus & chickens & peacocks.

After college, a lot of time passed before we returned to the Umbrella Factory. We kept saying that we should visit & bring you along.  We knew you'd love the shop, running around outside, & especially the animals. Somehow we never got around to bringing you to the Umbrella Factory until this fall. We woke early for soccer, and after your game we weren't ready to head home yet. We wanted to enjoy a little more of the gorgeous fall day.

We realized the Umbrella Factory would be the perfect place to visit. Didn't we feel silly to realize it was less than five minutes away from your soccer fields? Over the years, the Umbrella Factory has much changed. We were surprised to find many more shops & buildings that fill the grounds, with art, jewelry, fun gifts, & Rhode Island t-shirts. We also enjoyed walking through large & beautiful gardens. Daddy's favorite is the bamboo forest that we followed a path through. You laughed as you ran through the crowds of chickens & visited with the emus & goats. We bought an ice cream cone filled with goat food, & you enjoyed feeding them. Not far from where we fed the goats, is a sweet little cafe with indoor & outdoor seating.

You loved the Umbrella Factory so much, a few weeks later we brought little S & her parents to join us for lunch after your soccer game. They were just enchanted with the Umbrella Factory as we were. We walked all around, exploring the fun shops & pretty gardens.

After exploring the grounds, we decided to sit down for lunch at the Small Axe Cafe. The best part of the cafe? With it being right outside of all the animals, you & S were able to play while we waited for our food to be served.

The food was also amazing. My panini was filled with roasted vegetables & goat cheese (of course!). I can definitely see us spending many family lunches here.

Isn't it so fun to be one of the Rhode Island locals?

I love you so,

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