Friday, November 28, 2014

love letters

Dear Em,
"Sittin' here tonight, by the fire light.
It reminds me I already have more than I should.
I don't need fame, no one to know my name.

At the end of the day, 
Lord I pray, 
I have a life that's good.

Two arms around me, heaven to ground me,
and a family that always calls me home.
Four wheels to get there, enough love to share,
and a sweet, sweet, sweet song.

At the end of the day, 
Lord I pray, 
I have a life that's good..."
- A Life That's Good from The Music of Nashville

As we spend time with family & friends this holiday weekend, I can't help but look around & be reminded that "I already have more than I should." I'm so thankful & so very blessed to spend this beautiful life with people I love so dearly. On this holiday season of thanks & every day after that, I wish you "a life that's good."

I love you so,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Throwback Thanksgiving

Dear Em,
This was you on your very first Thanksgiving. I'm pretty sure you only ate mashed potatoes but then ate a whole slice of carrot cake for dessert (some things don't really change). Look at those toes! I just want to eat them up.

Oh & just for funsies, here you are shopping on Black Friday that year. What can I say? You have always done everything in style.

We have so much to be thankful for today & every day. Wishing our friends & family near & far a Happy Thanksgiving. 

I love you so,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

You Live & You Learn

Dear Em,
Your little Emmaisms fill my day with smiles & laughter. This gem was from last week...

"Well, you live & you learn." <Looking at me> "Well, you live. It's mostly just kids that do the learning."
- EKM four & three quarters years old

I love you so,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

American Girl Tea Party

Dear Em,
Meal times were not a big darn deal in our home until you were born. Then things got interesting. The first few months after you were born, you seemed to always need to be held during dinner time. Daddy & I would take turns eating while the other held you. I remember moments when I was so starving, I held you & placed a napkin over your head to protect it from crumbs while I ate.

Once you were old enough to sit in a high chair & began feeding yourself, things got really messy. Food covered you, your high chair, the floor, & everything else in a five foot radius. At least you & the mess were semi contained back then. There is nothing keeping you strapped to your chair these days. It's hard for you to sit still longer than 30 seconds at any dinner table, which means you are bouncing around the dining room with your food while the mess travels with you.

So while we have had many tea parties at home (like this one), I have never dared to attempt one in public. When I think of tea parties, I think of ladies dressed in nice clothing. I think of manners & white gloves & quiet music. You bouncing around, loudly singing songs, & dropping food everywhere does not seem to fit my vision of a nice tea party. But when we were invited to join your best friend & her mom for an American Girl Tea Party, somehow I found the courage to say yes.

Growing up, I had never been into American Girl Dolls. When you showed interest, I thought it would be fun to forgo the premade characters & design a doll that looked just like you. We chose a doll with your green eyes & wavy dirty blonde hair. We Santa gave the doll to you last year for Christmas, & you named her Emma Rose.

You woke up extremely early Saturday morning, having no idea a tea party with your best friend was part of the day's plans. I asked you if you would get your American Girl Doll dressed. It took more than a half hour for you to pick out Emma Rose's ensemble & put it on her. I picked out a dress & sweater for you to match Emma Rose. Then I fixed both your hair with the same curly pigtails.

You were extremely surprised when we stopped at your best friend's house to pick her up. Little S looked so stinkin' cute with her American Girl Doll in hand. A huge smile covered her face as I let her tell you we were going to an American Girl tea party.

We walked into the event & I was struck by the adorableness of it all. There were dressed up little girls everywhere, squeezing their dolls tight. There was a formally dressed wait staff, carrying fancy trays of tea. There were silver trays of mini sandwiches & cookies (guess which tray you exclusively ate from). You & S drank your tea lemonade, ate your food cookies, & chatted like such sweet little tea party guests. I was impressed. You both did great!

While we were enjoying tea, young ladies dressed up as American Girl characters walked around offering each little girl their autograph. As you talked to each one, I realized what makes the American Girl Doll characters so special. Each character came from a different era & has their own inspirational story (there are books to go along with each character). Each girl is strong & special & unique.

We may not have known much about the characters present at the tea party while we were there, but I have a feeling we will be learning about many of them as we begin to read the books. I'm excited to read the inspirational stories about little girls who made big differences. While I was never into American Girl Dolls as I was growing up, I'm excited for it to be something that we can now share together.

I love you so,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Drunken Picasso Date Night

Dear Em,
So many of my favorite moments are with you, but it's sometimes nice for Daddy & I to get out for a date night.  We're really lucky to have a great support system of babysitters family. Last weekend while you played with Grandma & Papa, Daddy & I were able to enjoy a child free night of Drunken Picasso.

This was our first time painting scenes on canvases & I wasn't sure how it would go. I would call myself crafty, but I am far from a painter...or an artist. The only time I've seen Daddy paint is when we're painting pumpkins. I wondered if we should just paint on the same canvas. Ruining one canvas would be better than ruining two, right? In the end, we decided it didn't matter how awful our paintings might look, we were just going to have fun.

We had a really great instructor. He made painting look easy. Being the perfectionist I am, at first I was looking for very specific instructions. Our instructor was very patient with me. Having a glass of wine next to my canvas helped. As I looked around at everyone else's canvases, I realized art is not about very specific instructions. Everyone's process is slightly different, & that is what makes art unique & amazing.

So, while you were happily doing this...

We were having so much fun doing this...

These were our final works of art (& I say final knowing that I will likely play with mine for a while at home before I am finally done with it. Sigh. Perfectionist problems).

Not bad for mine & Daddy's very first canvas paintings, right? Isn't it amazing how we were all painting the same scene & yet each painting is a little bit different? Some of us painted birch trees, & some of us painted brown trunks with big notches in them. Some of us painted royal blue skies & some of us pale blue. Some of us painted autumn leaves that were just beginning to change color, & some of us painted darker leaves that would soon be falling to the ground. I loved them all, & I was so glad we were able to enjoy the artistic experience with fun friends.

We brought our paintings home, & you were thrilled to see what we had created. You beamed at them but then gave me a look full of pity. You very solemnly told me Daddy's painting was the best, because he had painted his trees using the correct colors. "Trees don't have white on them, Mommy." I guess you've never seen birch trees? Clearly if you had been the instructor, you would have given more specific instructions. You told me that I would need to have many more art classes before I could truly become an artist.

Sigh, maybe I will have to sign up for more Drunken Picasso date nights with Daddy until my artistc skills are up to par. Ha!

I love you so,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Overalls

Dear Em,
I never realized how amazing overalls were until there was you. You have always been the cutest thing I've ever seen (I know, I'm slightly biased), but when we put your baby legs into some overalls, I was sure cuteness had reached a whole new level. So stinkin' cute!

But then potty training came along. The overalls would have been too tough for you to take off & put on back then. The possibility of no longer changing your diapers won out against the extreme cuteness of overalls. I tearfully said goodbye & put away what I thought would be your very last pair of overalls.

But then I picked up a cheap pair of overalls shorts for Hickfest this summer. They were basically going to be used as a costume, & I figured I could help you take them off & on if it was only for one day. But then you did something amazing. You showed me how you can take them off & put them back on all by yourself.

You guys, our overall days were back on!

Today is Grandfriends day at school, the perfect occasion to unveil you in your new pair of overalls. The adorableness was almost too much for me to take this morning. You kind of rolled your eyes at me. You wold much rather be wearing a dress or a skirt or a ballerina tutu. 

I know I was being kind of ridiculous. It's just that each stage goes by so very quickly (& yes, I consider overall-wearing a stage). I'm always forced to gear up for the next stage of your childhood before I'm ready to say goodbye to the last ever fleeting stage (except for in the case of potty training, we were way ready for that). Having an only child, I'm not naive to the fact that once we move on, we never go back. So, if you could just give me my overall obsession...for a few more years at that I can savor every last adorable moment of my little one in overalls while she's still little- well, that would be amazing.

I love you so,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

the most important part of learning

Dear Em,
I swear I blinked in September & this fall was almost over. You finished another session of swim lessons. I feel like it was just yesterday that you walked into my parents pool & doggie paddled yourself to the ladder, & now you're jumping off the one meter diving board without a swimmer. But I digress...

We finished your first set of swim lessons in June & decided to take a break from lessons for the summer. When you started lessons again this September, I couldn't believe how much you had progressed with your swimming over the summer. We got a family pass to the URI pool (purchasing a family membership with swim lessons was the same cost as purchasing swim lessons without a membership), with the plan to go to the pool as a family on Friday nights to practice what you had learned in your previous swim lesson. I hoped it would be an active way to spend time as a family & reinforce what you were learning in lessons, but a strange thing happened. You started to regress.

This summer you were swimming from one end of the pool to the other, but this fall you could barely swim a couple body lengths. What the heck?! Your swim instructor said something about you bending your knees too much as you swam. I was convinced the more we practiced, the quicker you would strengthen your swimming skills. But all the practice didn't really seem to be helping, & you hated our one on one practice sessions. You just wanted to play in the pool.

Swimming on your back is pretty much your favorite.

In exasperation, I stopped trying to train you. I decided after this session of swim lessons we'd take a break & regroup. We continued to go to the pool on Fridays, but just for fun. Your little best friend joined us for most of our pool nights, & you loved every second of it.

It's a funny thing when we just let you be you. Suddenly, you were back on track. I saw you progressing in your swim lessons again, learning to swim a little further, float a little longer, & even jump off the one meter board without a swimmer. Clearly I had forgotten about the most important element of learning: having fun. I thought I had been helping you by trying to practice your swimming skills, but really I was just sucking all the fun out of swimming for you. These past few weeks I let you focus on learning during your lessons, but our Friday nights at the pool have been all about fun.

Most importantly, I watched you love swimming again. I'm glad that we were able enjoy these precious moments as a family together. I've loved to watch you jumping & splashing & squealing & swimming with happiness (even if part of the time you're tantruming because we've told you pool time is over). I'm glad we made our way back to that place of fun.

I love you so,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DIY Fall Wreath

Dear Em,
I love seasonal wreaths. They can bring such warm, natural accents to a home. I've been crushing on a few autumn wreaths recently. The only problem is they're pretty pricey. With the holidays on their way, a super expensive wreath is not in the budget.

So, I decided to get my craft on & make one myself. I headed over to Michaels. Even wreath making can be pricey. Items from the Floral & Decor section of craft stores can quickly add up to lots of money. Luckily, it was after Halloween & all the Christmas decor was already out. Fall decor was 80% off. Pair that with 20% off your total purchase & 40% off one non sale item coupons, & I bought $100 worth of materials for just over $17.

Here's what I used...
- Grapevine Wreath
- 2 different kinds of bunches of autumn colored leaves
- Glue Gun & sticks
- Door hanger

There are many different kinds of wreaths to start with as backings. I went with a grapevine wreath, because it was less expensive than many of the other options. It wasn't as fancy, but it had the natural, rustic look I was going for.

When it comes to wreaths, I like a simple look. Some of the seasonal wreaths I've seen are a little too much for me with glitter & bows & 5,000 different elements. Oh my! I like wreaths that are simple & natural, although not completely natural. I've seen wreaths made with real leaves (& we had beautiful ones in our yard), but I wanted a wreath that we can reuse throughout the years rather than one that would only last us this season. For the sake of simplicity, I only grabbed two different kinds of leaves to work with. I bought 7 or 8 bunches of bright, yellow leaves (I put them on top of the grapevine wreath while in the store to estimate how many I would need to cover the wreath). Then I grabbed a couple bunches of the maple looking leaves that would provide red accents.

I cut the bunches of yellow leaves into smaller segments, leaving just an inch or so of the stem in each small bunch. Then I loosely placed the leaves around the wreath. I wanted to get the spacing just right, before I permanently tacked everything into place. I originally thought I would use the glue gun to glue down each piece, but I soon realized each piece fastened well just by shimmying the stems into the grapevine wreath.

Once I had the yellow leaves spaced out along the wreath just right, I began adding the red leaves here & there. I like how placing the red leaves underneath the yellow leaves provided little pops of red without overpowering the whole wreath. Since I was working with single leaves at this point, I used the glue gun to securely fasten them. Then I gathered the single yellow leaves that I had left over & filled in any empty spots I could see.

In a little less than an hour, I had the rustic, natural look I wanted for a fraction of the cost of seasonal wreaths I had been crushing on.

I love the bright, cheerfulness it brings to our front door. We've already had snow flurries & the majority of the bright leaves in our yard have faded to dull brown colors. Our wreath celebrates our love for New England's autumn colors the whole season long. It's like a coming home to a warm smile, one that we can reuse year after year. Not bad for $17.

I love you so,
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