Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014

Dear Em,
If you asked me mid-summer what you were going to be for Halloween, I would have been confident in answering Sofia the First. We had gotten a beautiful costume on sale, & you love Princess Sofia. Except that you really, really loved Queen Elsa from Frozen. Except Queen Elsa costumes had been out of stock since December. I can't tell you how much time I spent stalking the Disney stores & websites. You were dying to be Elsa for Halloween.

Nonnie generously offered to make you a Queen Elsa costume. We bought a pattern & fabric. Then as Nonnie walked through JC Penny in North Carolina, she hit the jack pot! She found Elsa costumes! You shrieked with sheer happiness when your costume arrived in the mail a month ago.

Since then it seems that the stores are fully stocked with the costume, because it seems like EVERY little girl is Queen Elsa this year. That doesn't diminish your sparkle at all. You are the happiest girl in the world to be able to dress up as your favorite character this year (even if it means you have to let me french braid your hair).

I took you to Narragansett for a little photo shoot a few weeks ago. With it being one of your favorite places in Rhode Island, I thought you would have a blast being your favorite queen for the camera. You were not feeling it AT ALL (we found out the next day you had an ear & sinus infection).

After a long while of begging you to stop crying & smile, I suggested you sing "Let It Go." It was just another example of how much beauty there is in letting you just be you. There was singing. There was dancing. There was smiling.

I hope everyone's Halloween is filled with as much sparkle...but maybe with less ear infections & tears.

I love you so,

Thursday, October 30, 2014

TBT: Ledyard Girls

Dear Em,
These are some of the ladies I went to elementary school, middle school, & high school with. I played on playgrounds with these girls. I was in band with these girls. I shared classes with these girls. I passed notes with these girls. I stayed up all night at sleepovers with theses girls. I cheered with these girls.

1994 (I think)

As a Navy Brat, Ledyard, Connecticut was the town I lived in for the longest growing up. We moved after my sophomore year of high school, & I lost touch with a lot of my girlfriends. One of the best things about facebook was I was able to reconnect with a lot of my old friends. 

Amazingly, some of us still didn't live very far from Ledyard. Four years ago, we planned to reconnect in person. Some of us had littles of our own, & we thought it would be a blast to get everyone together. We originally planned an outdoor meeting place. With a hurricane on it's way, we changed our plans around & met at one of our houses for a couple hours. Catching up was the best. I truly enjoyed learning about what these ladies had been up to through the years while our littles played together on the floor.


We enjoyed our mini reunion so much, we planned to get together a year later. This time we met at Buttonwood Farm. It was the perfect spot to let four littles run around while their Mommies caught up. Watching all of you littles play together made my heart so incredibly happy. I felt like we were building a new generation of Ledyard friends. You were two & so teeny, but you wanted to climb all over the hay bales in the worst way. Little T was your hero. Watching him pull you up the stack of hay made my heart melt. While you all played I enjoyed every second of catching up with my old friends.


The next year we returned to Buttonwood Farm. You looked forward to playing with your little friends. You were bigger this time, & you & T worked together to pull some of the smaller kids up the haystacks. The adults let the littles lead us through the corn maze. You each took a turn being the leader. We both enjoyed the fun & adorable morning spent catching up with friends.


We met at Buttonwoods again this past weekend. This year's group was our biggest group yet. We had 7 kids & 7 adults! I have to say, it was a little bit hectic corralling all you kids to the same activity. There were corn pits & duck races & corn mazes & hay stacks & cow trains & tractor rides & cows to feed. There was so much fun to be had, & the littles ran in a million directions. You had a major meltdown in the corn maze (corn mazes rarely go very well for us). It was almost impossible to get a group picture of the 7 littles. We did squeeze in a group shot of everyone. The nice man who took a group picture of all of us even said, "not everyone was smiling, but everyone is in the picture."

This was as good as it gets for the littles group shot.

I really look forward to & enjoy our Fall tradition. It's amazing how our group keeps growing & growing. I love getting to catch up with the girls I grew up with, & I love that you enjoy catching up with their littles.

I love you so,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Crazy Hair Day

Dear Em,
This week is spirit week at your school. I remember loving spirit week when I was younger. Honestly, any phrase with the word "spirit" in it is probably my jam (I was a cheerleader, after all). I remember looking forward to spirit days & planning out with precision what I was going to wear. Back then I had all the time in the world to plan.

These days, things like having a career & taking care of a child & a home kind of get in the way of my spirit week planning. So as I lay down in bed the night before it was Crazy Hair day at your school, I realized we hadn't even thought about what kind of crazy hair we would give you.

My best friend Ali sends me amazing little girl hair ideas. I think she sends them mostly just to tease me. Your hair probably seems stylish, but I'm only competent with the simplest of hair styles. The first few times I tried to give you a french braid ended up with you screaming & crying. Since then you run away & hide anytime you hear the word braid. In fact, your favorite hair style (two half pony tails) is something you like to call "fast & easy." You request it on a daily basis.

When Ali sends me these amazing hair styles, I mostly laugh at how they're never going to exist for you & I (seriously, I thought about bringing you to a hair dresser for this year's Halloween Elsa hair). BUT...then came Crazy Hair Day. I'm not going to lie, this spirit day stressed me out a little bit. Of course, Ali had sent me a link of fun Halloween hairstyles a while back that I laughed at & thought "no way, Jose."

So there I was, the night before Crazy Hair Day, scouring the internet trying to find the link (& hoping & praying one of the hairstyles was something I could do without you screaming & crying). Ali kindly resent the link. I took screen shots of a few I could maybe pull off. When you woke up the next morning, I left it up to you, & you chose one that looked like a spider web. I said a little prayer & hoped for the best.

Luckily, there were very few ouches & no tears. While the hair style actually wasn't challenging to execute, it was time consuming. I ended up giving you my phone & you looked at photos just so you would sit still while I worked. It took a lot of little hair elastics & a lot of time. Since I hadn't woken you up any earlier than usual, we were running a little late. I barely had time to take photos of the end result as Daddy pushed you out the door.

I have to say, we didn't do so bad for our first Crazy Hair Day (thanks to Ali). You loved your do & were so excited to show all your teachers & friends that day. I was just glad to participate in a little bit of spirit.

Unfortunately, it took almost as long to take your hair down as it did to put it up. So, I don't see us recreating that masterpiece anytime soon. In fact, even after all the fun of yesterday, you were very happy to request your "fast & easy" style when it came time to do your hair this morning.

I love you so,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our Family Tree 2014

Dear Em,
In the midst of this fall's craziness, your teachers handed us the homework bag with a smile. "Oh please no. Is it possible to give us a homework bag another week? We're traveling this week...& things are just crazy." To your disappointment, they were amazing & agreed to give us the homework bag another time (It was quite a wake up call for me that we're going to have to drastically adjust how many things I try to pack in our schedules once you start getting homework on a regular basis).

When your teachers gave us the homework bag again in the middle of yet another crazy, they smiled. "You have to take it now. You are the last one to create a family tree." Whoops. Just like that I became the class slacker.

This is our third time making a family tree. In past years, I may have forgotten that our family tree was your homework. The first year you were 18 months old. I think you sat with me while I made your family tree until I got frustrated that you were touching everything, & I finished the project solo.

The last family tree "we" made also came during a hectic time. "We" may have started working on it after you went to bed (I know, I'm awful). This time, the last time we made a family tree for this school, I wanted it to be a project we worked on together.

Luckily your teachers gave us the weekend to finish your assignment, because I had big ideas for this one. Your teachers may have included a tree that we could use for the project, but, like I said, I had ideas. As you & I went to the store to buy more sturdy poster board, you sighed. "Mom, can't my family tree just be like all my other friends' family trees?" What would be the fun in that?

Here's what we used:
- 1 piece of white posted board
- 4 leaves in different shapes & sizes
- green, red, orange, yellow, & brown acrylic paint
- paint brushes
- two little hands
- scissors
- letters found in magazines
- craft glue
- printed photos
- a computer & printer to make captions

First we made our own tree. We found four differently shaped & sized leaves in our yard. We painted one side of each leaf a different color & used the leaves as stamps. It gave our tree a really textured look, & the colors made perfect fall foliage. You still wished we could use the tree that was provided, but you had a blast helping me stamp our leafy tree.

We waited for the poster board to dry overnight. The next morning I painted your cute little hands brown, & stamped them into the bottom of our painted leaves. They became the branches of our family tree & the starting point of our tree stump. I painted the tree stump the rest of the way down & we waited for it all to dry. Once it dried, I cut out our whole tree.

Not only did I not use the tree that was kindly provided for us, but I also don't follow directions well. We were supposed to make a family tree of family members who live in our home. I couldn't not include your grandparents & aunts & uncles. They may not live with us (although some do during some parts of the year), but they're such a big part of us. We had to include the whole gang (You pointed out that your best friend S is as close to a sister as you're going to get & should be included in the tree. I didn't have any printed pictures on hand, but I promised to add her as soon as I did). We're a small but all inclusive family.

I printed out bunches of family photos & let you pick which ones you like best for your tree. Then while I cut the photos & started to arrange them on the tree, you & your little best friend scoured magazines for the perfect letters to use in our family tree title. I gave you a list of the letters we needed, & you checked them off as we went along.

I arranged the letters into a title & created captions for all the photos. Em, what do you think?! "Well, I still think you should have used the tree they gave us." Sigh. You're probably right. Clearly I could use a lesson or two about following your homework directions, but I love our tree. This tree is a little more than a homework assignment. It's a project we truly worked on together that I hope we can display in our home.

I promise to work on following directions if you promise to keep filling up our tree with love & joy.

I love you so,

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