Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Anchor Tattoo

Dear Em,
A couple weeks ago I got my third tattoo. While you've seen all three of my tattoos, it may come as a surprise to others. There are actually people I've known for years that have no idea that I have any tattoos.

I got my first tattoo when I was 19. It was my first summer living away from home. I was a summer camp counselor with the weekend off. I woke up early in the morning, & just felt like getting my first tattoo. A fellow camp counselor went with me. I had no idea what I wanted. I looked through the sample books & pages hung on the tattoo parlor walls before deciding on a simple sunflower. I wanted something that wouldn't be covered up all the time but also wouldn't be too obvious. My ankle was the spot I chose.

I got tattooed the second time when I was in grad school. This time I had known what I wanted for a while. Inspired by Footprints in the Sand, I wanted the outline of footprints. It symbolized one of my favorite poems, God, my love of the shore, & all the time I spent with my family at the beach. One of my friends from college was also getting a tattoo, & we went together. Your Daddy watched me wince as I got my right heel tattooed.

Most days I don't even notice I have tattoos, but for a while now, I'd been thinking about getting another. While anchors have recently been popular in fashion, they've always been my favorite. To me, they symbolize growing up as a Navy brat & never being far from the ocean. After graduating from high school, the anchor began to symbolize Rhode Island (it's part of the state flag), URI, & meeting your Daddy. Since buying a house in Rhode Island, the anchor has come to symbolize our summer walks on the beach, our shared love of the ocean, & home.

BUT, I've never gotten a tattoo by myself. You would think this wouldn't be an issue, as I'm not a tattoo rookie, but I was nervous to do it on my own. Luckily, when I asked my dear friend Ali, she agreed to go with me & get one too.

I can't believe the butterflies I felt in my stomach as they tattooed a small anchor onto my wrist, the most noticeable area of all my tattoos. I instantly loved it, & it meant even more that I got to share the experience & the same tattoo with one of my best friends.

Two days later, I was reading to you, & you noticed it. With my past two tattoos, I hadn't been completely honest with you. When you asked about them, I may have told a little white lie & said they were stickers. This time, I decided to put my big girl pants on & be honest. I explained to you that the anchor was a tattoo, a permanent tattoo. I told you that a permanent tattoo is something you can't get until you're 18. If you decide to get one, and many people decide not too (like Daddy), it's very important to choose wisely. Make sure it's something that you're going to love forever, because it will be forever.

You kind of shrugged & went on with your day. I don't know how much you understood. I don't know if you will want a tattoo someday too (is it weird that I kind of hope you won't want one?), but I'm glad that we had an honest conversation about it. I hope we can have honest conversations about things like this in the future (rather than being like me who hid my first tattoo from my Dad for almost a year).

For now, & hopefully for a really long time, we'll stick to stickers & temporary tattoos.

I love you so,

Monday, September 29, 2014

Summer in Fall

Dear Em,
The calendar may have told us that it was fall, but Mother Nature didn't care. We had one more glorious weekend with beautiful summer weather. As New Englanders, we are ever aware that every moment of summer sunshine is precious. We took full advantage by driving to Charlestown Beach & went for what may be our last walk along the beach this year.

I didn't have to tell you how special it was that we were experiencing summer heat in the last weekend of September. The joy in your face told me you knew.

We finished Saturday evening around our fire pit. Your dolls even joined us. Daddy babysit while you had "a fire pit with Mommy."

When winter comes, & everything is cold & grey & dreary, when we're totally over the snow, I'm going to try to remember that we got one extra weekend of summer...& it was absolutely AMAZING.

I love you so,

Thursday, September 25, 2014

TBT: Cheerleading

Dear Em,
I love football season, but it might surprise you that my love of football started with cheerleading. It comes as no big shock to most people that I was a cheerleader. I remember my very first tryout. A bunch of my friends were trying out as well, most of them with past cheerleading and/or gymnastics experience. I was so scared I wouldn't make the team. I think I had serious butterflies in my stomach for a week.

On the day I found out I made the JV squad, it was probably the best news of my life. I was so excited to belong to a team...& with so many of my friends. Cheerleading didn't come easy to me. I have no sense of rhythm. I had to practice constantly to pick up moves that came easily to some of the other girls (especially the dance routines). I pretty much had cheerleading on the mind 24-7. In fact, my friends often found me almost unconsciously moving my hands to a certain cheer as I walked through the halls of our school or sat down to eat lunch.

I freaking loved cheerleading. I loved being on a team & working together with a group of girls. I loved the stunting. I was a base or back & loved that I could make girls fly through the air. I loved the athletic aspect of it & that it pushed me to do things that I couldn't do before. I loved cheering on the football team (& basketball too) & how much it taught me about the sport (& how I could have intelligent conversations with my Dad about sports because of it). When our football team was down & the crowd got quiet, I loved pumping everyone up. When it was game time, somehow I was able to shut out all the worries & frustrations of the day & just cheer. Putting on the uniform & running out onto the field each weekend was one of my favorite things in the whole world.

You could see how much I loved the sport just by looking at my face when I cheered. One of my friends told me once that me without cheerleading was like peanut butter without jelly. But then my family moved inbetween my sophomore & junior year. It was really hard starting on a whole new squad without the girls who had become my best friends. I went from being on Varsity as a sophomore to being on JV as a junior, & I had to start completely from scratch learning new cheers & dance routines. I was so glad to have a chance to continue to cheer, but it was never the same.

When it came time to go to college, there were a lot of things I wanted to be involved in. I just didn't know if I could do all the things I wanted to do and still cheer. It wasn't even a questions for me when I said goodbye to my pompoms my senior year of high school.

I can say without hesitation I made the right decision for me, but I miss cheerleading sometimes. I miss that feeling of stepping out onto the field with my squad & being right in the middle of the excitement under the Friday night lights. Every once in a while I recite one of my old cheers to root you on.

My days with pompoms are over, but I can't help but wonder if I'll be seeing you pick them up someday. Daddy & I have noticed that you sometimes enjoy cheering on your soccer team more than playing yourself. Plus, you are an absolute "Wooooo" girl. Daddy laughs at us as he watches us "Wooooo" together.

Who knows? The only thing I do know for sure, no matter what you choose to do, I'll always be your biggest cheerleader.

I love you so,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Our Fall 2014 Ohio Adventure

Dear Em,
We had such a nice visit in Ohio with some of our very favorite people last week. This visit was quite different from our visit a few months ago. Last time we packed in more adventures than I would have thought possible with three kids under the age of five (one of you still a newborn). We had a lot of plans for this trip too, but one of my favorite things about spending time with Aunt Jayme is we take each day as it comes.

After a crazy night of travel, we all felt a little exhausted. There were a number of adventures we could have gone on, but I honestly got stressed out just thinking about packing you kids in the car. Fitting in naps was my first priority of the day. We very quickly downgraded our plans & decided to mostly stay close to home. I'm so glad we did, because we got to share such precious moments together.

Like when Jayme made a giant bed in the living room, & you & T watched movies together.

You & T worked together to make tower & farm & race track magnatile creations.

We went for a walk/drive.

You, T, & Jayme baked.

While D & I took selfies.

There were dance parties & fishy faces.

There were photo shoots.

There were bedtime books & snuggles.

You & T escaped upstairs together to play hide & seek & read books together.

And I got to enjoy this little man's baby smell & adorable smiles.

You kids truly tore the house apart, like three tiny natural disasters.

But we didn't mind, because, except for the occasional squabble (it's so hard to share), you were so happy to play together.

Don't get me wrong. There were tears & tantrums & fights over toys too, but I think it was about as good as it gets with three small children. I got to spend time with my best friends & my three favorite kids in the whole wide world. Plus, I actually got to take two cozy naps. That's pretty close to perfection for me.

On our last day in Ohio, we were determined to get in at least one adventure outside the house (although, Jayme & I really longed for another day in the Relaxation Room). We loaded you kids in the car & headed to Blooms & Berries Farm Market for some pumpkin patch fun. They actually had a Spookley themed pumpkin patch, & you couldn't wait to see Spookley. I absolutely fell in love with this pumpkin patch. There were so many family friendly things to do.

We went on a hayride.

You kids ran through large pumpkin patches.

There were slides & tunnels to play on.

There were haystacks to climb on & tons of fun photo opportunities.

There were cow tractor rides.

You & T loved the sandbox full of corn.

While sunflower season is over in New England, I was psyched to see there was an amazing sunflower maze to go through...complete with the Spookley story book.

UNFORTUNATELY, the Spookley maze wasn't quite enough for you. You were actually expecting to see Spookley...& maybe have a sing along with his farm friends. After searching every pumpkin patch & being unsuccessful in finding a real life Spookley, you had a little bit of a meltdown. I'm sure sleep deprivation was playing into it (you had been going to bed late each night, & still waking up at 6am each morning). Still, I couldn't believe that you were so miserable while we were at such a fun place.

The majority of our pumpkin patch adventure looked like this:

In fact, we may have had to bribe you with tictacs to get many of the smiles seen in the above photos. Yup, the six month old seemed to enjoy the pumpkin patch more than you. Ha! It came as no surprise that you fell asleep during the car ride to the airport later that afternoon.

That's the beauty of going anywhere with children. You never know what type of adventure you're going to get. That's why I'm so glad we've been able to share so many adventures with Jayme, who understands that sometimes the best adventures are the kind you have at home...where there is a pitcher of sangria waiting in the refrigerator.

I love you so,
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