Monday, March 31, 2014

Spa Night

Dear Em,
This happened a couple weeks ago, & I almost forgot to post about it. I'm glad I remembered, because it was a little bit of preciousness that I want to remember & hold in my heart for always. You had your first best friend spa night.

You love getting mani/pedis, whether it's at home or we splurge five dollars & get your toes painted at the nail salon. Recently we've been reading Fancy Nancy: Ooh La La! It's Beauty Day. It's funny how often you request to read the book, since a lot of it is just lists & recipes. I think you just love the idea of girly pampering, & it gave me an idea. How much stinkin' fun would it be to have a little spa day at home? During your next sleepover with your best friend, we did just that.

I started off by calling you both Miss <last name>, & you called me Miss Mommy. You both smiled from ear to ear, relishing in sounding so grown up & proper. I played soothing music while you dressed in my clothes: a long sleeved long tee, a robe, & a head wrap. I smiled as the two of you looked at each other & giggled. You very much looked the part of spa goers- even if your sleeves hung well below your hands.

We started with facials. I sat you down, leaned your heads back, & generously applied the honey & banana mixture (recipe from your Fancy Nancy book). The two of you giggled & squirmed, & the mixture got all over the place. At that point I was glad you were both wearing robes. It was mostly about fashion at first, but now I could see the robes were functional as well. The last touch of your facials was placing sliced cucumbers over your eyelids. "Aughhhhhhhhh! This is making my eyes frozen," you screamed. The cucumbers only lasted long enough to take a couple quick, adorable photos. Clearly, you two don't appreciate the feeling of rejuvenated eyes.

I put on the movie Frozen for you to watch while I went to work with manis & pedis, rotating back & forth between the two of you. I used the kits your aunt Jennie & uncle Nick gifted you, complete with soak tub, foam flip flops, nail drier, & foam pedicure comb. We started with a scrub, followed by rinsing off & applying lotion. This made the two of you squirm & giggle as I touched your ticklish, little feet. I dried off your feet & hands with warm towels before starting the polish. In honor of the upcoming St. Patrick's Day, you both chose gold & green polishes & white flower stickers that we had on hand.

It took me the entire Frozen movie to complete you both. During that time there was singing & dancing- which makes it a little challenging to paint nails. It wasn't exactly the quiet & relaxing spa experience that I'm used to. By the end my back hurt a little, & I was wondering where my spa treatment was. Ha! You did ask if you could paint my nails, but with visions of nail polish covering our entire living room, I politely declined. Maybe next time.

I tucked you in that night, & you both fell asleep immediately. I went to sleep soon after (little girl spa nights sure take a lot out of you), thinking all the while how wonderful it is to have a little girl to make these special moments with. I love how exciting the night was for both of you sweet girls. It was only a couple hours & it didn't cost anything (we already had everything we used), but watching the smiles on your faces, that was...sigh...that was worth everything. It just goes to show you, you don't need to go out & spend a whole lot of money to make precious moments. In fact, often times the memories that are most near & dear to my heart come from simple moments. Sometimes all you need is a little bit of imagination, a little bit of time, & lots of love (& maybe a Fancy Nancy book & a Frozen movie or two).

I love you so,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Little Reader

Dear Em,
When I was a little girl, my grandma told me that books would take me anyplace I wanted to go. I've been in love with reading for as long as I can remember, & it thrilled my Grandma to see it. She was always happy to send me home with a few books each time I visited.

When I look at this Throwback Thursday picture of my dad reading to my sister & I (I think she was two & I was six?), it reminds me so much of how you snuggle in as you listen to Daddy & I read to you. It's so amazing to have my own little one who loves books as much as I always have.

I can't help but think of how much seeing you with your books would have made my grandma smile.

I love you so,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wedding Shower Wednesday: Pink & Glittery Mason Jar Centerpieces

Dear Em,
Continuing with our Pink & Glittery Wedding Shower posts, I want to tell you about the mason jar centerpieces we created. Mason jars seem to be pretty trendy now, & understandably so. They're functional. They're inexpensive. They're a little bit rustic. The ladies (these ladies totally rock, I've had so much fun making fun things with them) I planned the shower with were Pinterest pros (I've tried to stay away from it to avoid adding another addiction to my ever growing list of online addictions), & they found a few mason jar pins that we all loved. Glammed up mason jars with pink & gold glitter seemed like the perfect centerpieces for Aunt Andrea's shower.

First we shopped around for the mason jars. They carry them in so many different locations, & I think at the time they were cheapest from KMart. One of the girls ordered them & shipped them to my house so that we could work our magic during our wedding shower project weekend (I have so many fun projects to share with you from that weekend). We all worked on different projects, & glitterfying the mason jars became one of my tasks.

I was a little nervous. This was not something I had done before. We had seen a few DIY posts on how to create glittery mason jars, & most people seemed to use Mod Podge. I had never really used Mod Podge before & bought both a spray & regular bottle (I had no idea what the difference was). Gold & pink were our theme colors, & I bought a large variety of glitter in those hues (& silver just in case). I wasn't sure how exactly the project would work, & I bought everything that I might need, in hopes I could return anything I didn't use.

Here's what I actually needed:
- Original Mod Podge
- Spray Can Mod Podge
- Gold & Silver Glitter
- Sponge Paint Brush
- Mason Jar
- Bowl
- A large piece of card board or mat (to keep the mess confined)

Our Work Space
I played around with the glitter first. I typically like finer glitter but realized chunky glitter actually seemed to provide a more fun look to this project. We decided to go with gold glitter for the mason jars, planning to add pops of pink in other ways. I had noticed after looking at other glittery projects (there was a lot of glitter in the making of this shower), that when you mix silver glitter with gold glitter a kind of champagne color is achieved. We all loved the champagne look so I went with it. I started with a regular bowl (like the ones we use to eat cereal), filled the bowl approximately 1/4 of the way with gold & silver glitter (I probably used one part silver & two parts gold), & mixed them up until I was satisfied with the color that was achieved. It's amazing how little glitter I actually needed. I had bought a ton & was able to return all but one bottle of each color we used.

Because we weren't covering the whole jar with glitter, the regular Mod Podge was a better choice. The regular Mod Podge & a paint brush enabled me to paint the straight lines I wanted. I dipped my paint brush into the Mod Podge & generously coated the glass a quarter of the way up all the way around the jar (leaving the bottom of the jar blank). I placed the jar in the middle of the glitter bowl, pressing the Mod Podged surface firmly into the glitter & rotating the jar until the Mod Podge was covered in glitter. Then I set the jar to dry. I repeated for each jar.

When the jars dried, we loved the glitter look. We loved it so much, we added glitter to the stems of champagne glasses as well (and maybe one of our iPhone cases). Still, without any type of clear coat over top of the glitter, we worried that glitter would be falling off everywhere. I was worried that if we tried to paint a coat of Mod Podge over the glitter, I was just going to make a sticky mess. That's where the Mod Podge spray can came in. I took the mason jars out to the garage & placed them on top of a big piece of cardboard. I sprayed the glittery area of each jar, making sure to rotate the jar & cover all the glitter. Then I waited 15 minutes for the spray to dry before applying a second coat. It worked great. We had glittery glam that would stay in place instead of making a big mess.

We really wanted to place pretty, pink flowers in the jars as a final touch, but most of the flowers I saw at craft stores were wicked expensive. We were on the verge of switching to a more affordable floating candle option, when I found flowers at Walmart (of all places). They were exactly the look we were going for, for just the right price. We filled each jar with three flowers. For a little extra pop of pink & sparkle, we bought glittery craft paper to place underneath the glass overlay on the venue's tables.

When we put everything together, I got really excited. It was perfect, & so fun to finally see our hard work come together for one of our favorite girls. You were in love with our pink & glitter theme from the very beginning & swooned at the site of the pretty centerpieces. One of the best parts was that we all loved the centerpieces so much, we were happy to take a couple with us for continued use in our homes. I'm confident that you won't have any trouble finding use for our pink & glittery mason jars.

Plus, now we have Mod Podge, & I know how to use it. The crafting possibilities are endless!

I love you so,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

First Basketball Game & A State Championship Win

Dear Em,
We have our good days & our bad days, but this weekend I felt like I had good balance as a mom. We spent quality time together, but I took time for myself. We got fresh air outdoors, but we got things done inside too. It may not sound like much, but I like to celebrate little victories...& the smiles on all of our faces this weekend...well, that was a victory.

One of the fun things we did this weekend was take you to your first basketball game. Remember how you learned about basketball in school this winter? Your teacher actually helps coach a high school basketball team & they were in the State Championships. The game was being played at the URI Ryan Center, only fifteen minutes away from our house, & we were excited to cheer for your teacher & her team.

We dressed you in North Kingstown High School colors, black, gold, & white. You & I made a glittery gold sign to bring to the game, complete with a backside picture of your teacher & you & all your friends at school (& Nonnie somehow also made it into the picture).

You were pretty disappointed when we got to the game & you realized you wouldn't be playing in it. Instead, you spent the first half of the game yelling "Go Miss Kayla!" & excitedly clapping for a few girls from the team that you had met at school. By the second half, you weren't as excited about sitting in the stands. I'd have to say the highlight of the game for you was people watching & the music breaks during time outs when you scooted off my lap & got your dance on.

It was a really close game that came down to the last seconds, but Miss Kayla's team won! You didn't quite understand why you were not allowed down to the court for the handing out of the trophies. I feel like you thought you earned a trophy just for making it through the whole game. All in all you had a fun first basketball game experience. Plus, Daddy found another sport you would be allowed to play because he was OK with the uniforms (once I mentioned that, with your height, you might be good at volleyball & Daddy shook his head no because the shorts are too short). It was a fun outing for the whole family.

I love you so,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Silver Sparkle Spaceship & The First Day of Spring

Dear Em,
Thursday was the first day of Spring. It's been a long winter, & you & I have been patiently waiting wanting to punch winter in the face crying looking forward to the day Spring was finally here. And although we may get a major winter snow storm later this week, we took Thursday to celebrate that it was Spring, even if only by name.

I started the celebration by picking up my new car. I drive a lot for work. As someone who drives over 70,000 miles in two years, I tend to go through cars pretty quickly. Since you were born, I've now had three cars. The first car you ever traveled in was my Mazda 3. I teared up as I turned that car in. Sure, Daddy said it looked like a pregnant roller skate, but that was the car we brought you home in. It was the car you had all of your first car/first trip moments. It was the car you first learned to sing Top 40 Hits in.

A Subaru Forester was my next car, & Daddy called me a hippie. It is true that Subaru owners seem to be a little bit crunchier. I almost felt like I had a lifestyle to live up to as a Subaru owner. A lifestyle of more mindful sustainability & camping & hiking & biking & kayaking. Is it just a coincidence we took on more of that while I drove my Subaru?

I was missing my Subaru & it's bright sun roof the first time I got into my new car, a Ford Escape. I felt a little bit like I had gotten into a spaceship. There are more buttons than I can tell you & multiple screens. This is the first time I needed a 30 minute tutorial on how to use my car. It was a shame on the first sunny day in a while, on the first day of Spring, I no longer had a sun roof to open up over my head, but I really enjoyed the rear camera (I'm slightly less worried about crashing into/running things over when I back up now), bluetooth phone sync, & digital displays (I think there are no less than 100 different displays to choose from).

Daddy asked if we could take the new car for a joyride after dinner, & I thought what better way to celebrate Spring (& create a mess in my new car right off the bat) than a ride to the beach? The sun was just starting to set & the sky was showing hints of gold & purple & dark blue hues. It was cold by then, but we decided to get out & run around a little bit anyways.

After our quick trip to the beach, we headed to McDonald's for Shamrock Shakes, having missed out on our St. Patrick's Day tradition the week before.

We talked about naming this car, & you said you wanted to call it "gold sparkle." It sounded a bit like a My Little Pony to me, but I would have gone with it. "Except that my car is silver, not gold Em. What if we call it Silver Sparkle?" You were pretty happy with that, & even gave in to my request to end the name with spaceship.

I held Daddy's hand as he drove us home in Silver Sparkle Spaceship. The Rhode Island sky was what you like to call cotton candy, pastel pinks & purples & blues. I looked at you & looked at Daddy & smiled. I can't believe how incredibly lucky we are...for so many reasons, but most of all for the love we share.

I love you so,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Our Last St. Patrick's Day

Dear Em,
A little less than 6 months after Daddy & I were married we decided to stop trying not to have kids. We didn't have a set timeline, & we weren't planning to get pregnant right away. We knew that trying to have a baby could take a really long time, & if that was to be the case for us we thought it was best to start the process without the stress of expectations. And anyways, didn't there need to be a three month washout period after you stop your birth control before you could get pregnant?

That is what I told your daddy. Believe it or not, that's what I told myself. I realized the day I took my first negative pregnancy test & cried myself to sleep, deep down I had been lying to myself. Deep down, I wanted more than anything to be a mother & wanted you to join us in the world as soon as possible.

But anyways, I digress from the true topic of this post. This TBT comes from the day after I took my very last birth control pill. Your Daddy & I were not only celebrating St. Patrick's Day but also the new adventure we were about to embark on.

As it turned out, it was our last St. Patrick's Day before we became parents. 

I love you so,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wedding Shower Wednesday: Glitter & Pink Invites

Dear Em,
I'm so excited to bring back Wedding Shower Wednesdays. In collaboration with a few ladies, I've been having so much fun planning your Aunt Andrea's shower (& now her bachelorette) this year. I feel like it was forever ago that Andrea's Maid of Honor sent us a color swatch with pink & glittery gold hues. I loved it. It was so Andrea (like you, Andrea loves everything pink) & so fun!

We wanted to set the fun & pretty tone right off the bat with the invites. Remember how I made my friend's shower invitations last time? I loved how they came out, but they took forever to put together. Now that I've experienced how easy & affordable it is to order invitations from Etsy, we knew that was the way to go. I'm so glad we did, because the girls found the most amazingly perfect invitations.

From here.

We worked with GaiaDesignStudios to order this sparkly design. They also designed us a cocktail recipe card to match that Andrea's guests could fill out & bring to the shower.

The one of the girls had the design printed at Staples on a pale pink paper. We all got together one weekend to work on DIY shower & bachelorette projects, put the invitations into envelopes, address them, & send them out. We couldn't resist making a little glittery confetti to add to the envelopes. We may have put a little extra in the Bride-to-Be's envelope. It made me smile to think of the fun surprise everyone would be opening up (& then probably cleaning up...whoops).

I love how simple & affordable Etsy makes it to create professional looking, personalized invitations. It truly was the perfect introduction to our event. In the upcoming weeks, I can't wait to share more from Andrea's pink & glittery shower.

I love you so,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

life when it's not so perfect

Dear Em,
I was reading through these blog posts recently, smiling & laughing to myself as I read, when I realized something. I mostly post about the happy things: new milestones, precious moments, updates on our house. In real life, not every day is happy. In fact, some days are really, really tough. I've felt like our lives were swallowed up by greyness during most of January & February. It's not that I mostly post the happy because I want you (& everyone else) to think that our lives are happily perfect. It's just that the happy moments are mostly what I want to remember. They're the things, at the end of the day, I try to hold close in my heart. 

For sure, our lives are not perfect, not at all. So, I wanted to share with you a few things about life & parenting when things are not so perfect... 

- There isn't a manual for raising a child. There's a gabillion manuals called books & "studies" for raising a child. Half of them contradict the other half. Most of them contradict how I was raised (& I feel like I turned out mostly OK). Many of them were probably written by people who have never had children. All of them were written by someone who doesn't know my child. Mostly, these books and studies just make me angry because they never seem to suggest that doing things one way might benefit some people & doing something different might benefit other people. They always seem to indicate that if you don't do things one specific way, you're damaging your child forever. I just don't think many things are that black & white when it comes to raising a child. A child's nature, a child's abilities, personal preferences, family dynamics, & the needs of a child don't fit as neatly into a scientific box as I think many of the researchers think. And if I see one more article about how parents should not get upset & take their child's actions personally, I think I might scream. Parenting is a personal thing. Whoever writes these articles has clearly never woken up at 6:30 with a 3/4 year old screaming in their face & repeating the word "NO" for no other reason than they are not a morning person- EVERY FREAKING MORNING. Don't tell me not to take it personally. Tell me I'm doing my best & then leave me alone. Thanks.

- In many ways, I feel like we raise you pretty similarly to the way I was raised. Of course, Daddy & I talk about how we want to handle certain things, but, except for a few areas, Daddy didn't come with preconceived ideas of child rearing (he insists you won't be allowed to date until you're 30, but I'm working on that one). I think we kind of take a little of how I was raised, a little of how Daddy was raised, a few of our own ideas, some inspiration from others...& mostly wing it. 

- I'm pretty sure my parents think we're raising you nothing like how they raised me. This became most apparent to me when my mom told me that your daddy & I remind them of the parents in the movie Parental Guidance. You haven't seen it? The parents in the movie have created a home full of impossible to understand technology & utilize seemingly ridiculous modern parenting techniques. It didn't exactly feel like a compliment (maybe this is why your Papi laughs at me every time I discipline you?), but then I thought about you possibly having your own little love some day, & I imagine I'll probably feel pretty similar. 

- I take time for me. You are my first priority. You are the most important thing in the whole world to me, but I have to make me a priority too. If I don't take care of me, I won't be any good to you or anyone else. I've taken weekends away with my girlfriends. I go out to dinner with friends or just Daddy. I occasionally spend long mornings in bed. Daddy & I go on trips without you. I do miss you like crazy, but I don't feel guilty about taking time for me. I was a whole other person before becoming your mommy. I'm still a whole other person. I take time for me so I can give you the best of me. I think we both need it sometimes. But when I come back from me-time, nothing feels better than your sweet little arms wrapped around my neck.

- I'm happy to be a working mom. I know everyone makes their own choices & some choices are made out of necessity...& I don't really care about other people's choices. It's not about other people's choices. Daddy & I worked really hard to find you what we think is the best possible care while we are at work. There was a time when I first returned from maternity leave when I thought we were making the wrong choice, when I felt like I would burst if I couldn't hold you in my arms whenever I wanted to. But I think we're all happy & thriving in the choice we made now. I've seen your smiles. I've seen you learn new things. I've seen you make new friends. I'm not even sure I would be able to give you the same patience & undivided attention. I feel like we have a whole team of people helping to raise you, & we couldn't be more blessed with the team we have. Sometimes I feel like I'm a better mom because you can enjoy school during the day & we can enjoy each other after. To me, our time feels that much more special. I'm not saying it's always easy. Sometimes it's really hard. Your Daddy helps out at home more than a lot of Daddys I know. Sometimes I can't give you the attention I like, but in the end we make it work. We're all a stronger team & we're happy with our choice. 

- I don't know how I would do it without your Daddy. I literally can't do it all, & I thank God I don't have to. We have a great team helping to raise you, a team of family & friends & teachers & coaches & doctors. I can't express how blessed we are with the support we get. Still, I don't know how I would do it without your daddy. Daddy is my sounding board. He is the one I create plans with. When we clean the house, we do it together. He helps me consider & reconsider new ways of doing things. He takes you for fun days or fun mornings so that I can have some me-time. He reassures me when I feel like I'm doing everything wrong.  He is the one who empties the dishwasher, because I when I went back to work with a newborn I just couldn't hold one more thing on my plate. He helps me get you ready & out the door in the morning. He doesn't always do things the same way I would, but that's OK because he does them so I don't have to. In this crazy parenting thing, he is my partner, & he is the best.

- I began throwing out my absolutes the day you were born. I don't think I've stuck to any of the things I said I/my child would never do (except I've never put you on a leash...though I absolutely understand why some parents choose to). So, I try not to make any more absolutes (except when they go something like "God, please don't ever let my daughter...). And anyways, I kind of feel like most absolutes come from a place of judgement. Like when you see someone doing something & you think I will NEVER do that. When I find myself going to that place of judgement, I try to remind myself that every child is different, every parent is giving his/her best, & what works for us may not work for others.

- There are days where I don't feel like I have anything left. There are days that fill me with frustration. There are days when I'm exhausted. There are days when your behaviors and your actions and your words take me to my emotional breaking point. There are days when I'm not proud of how I react to those moments. It's on nights like those that I find myself crying after I've put you to bed. I find myself wondering if my parenting has damaged you forever. I find myself asking your daddy if I'm an awful mom. Sometimes Daddy is just as frustrated, but almost always he is less emotional. He takes me in his arms & tells me I'm not an awful mother, that you are a great kid, & that this phase will also pass. Then we talk about how our parenting style is working (or not working at all) & things we should consider trying instead. When I wake up the next morning, all I can do is hope I can do better, hope I can be better, hope for a better day. 

- Knowing everything I know now, I would do it all over again without a second thought. I would choose you every...single...time. You are the most challenging & most amazing thing in my whole life. The good days outweigh the bad every time. The precious moments outweigh the really tough ones. I may not always know what I am doing. I may not always do the right thing, but I feel like we will figure it out together. I feel like being your mother has made me a better person. It's something I don't take lightly. It's something I will cherish & hold dear in my heart forever...even when life is not so perfect.

I love you so,

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2014

Dear Em,
With the luck of the Irish coming from both sides of our family, I think, like it is for me, St. Patrick's Day will always be near & dear to your heart. If nothing else, it's a holiday to celebrate, decorate, & dress-up for in the middle of winter.

We had a wicked busy weekend planned, but still managed to fit in some time at the Newport St. Patrick's Day parade. This was my first time experiencing the parade with kids, in a child-oriented, no adult beverages kind of way. Unfortunately, we were also experiencing it without our favorite Irishman, Daddy (he is enjoying a bachelor party in Las Vegas). It was really cold & wet & muddy, but it was fantastic. We found a spot in front of the crowds of people so that you & your little best friend could see & just enjoyed.

You liked the moments of the parade where there was music best. When it was just a police car driving down the road, you turned to me & asked "why aren't they doing anything?" That's when you decided to take the entertainment into your own hands.

Not being an expert on the whole two-kids thing, I have to say it was sometimes a little overwhelming to be at a big event with such large crowds of people, by myself with two kids- especially since you were suffering from a sinus infection & sometimes insisted on doing the very opposite of what I asked you to do. Still, it was a fun to experience celebrating St. Patrick's Day in one of the most gorgeous places in Rhode Island, & the precious moments I watched you share with your best friend were priceless.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, my love. May the luck be with you today & always. Now, hurry up & dress yourself in green before you get pinched!

I love you so,

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