Friday, May 29, 2015

Love Letters

Dear Em,
"Together at last!
Together for ever. We're tying a knot,
They never can sever!

I don't need sunshine now,
To turn my skies to blue --
I don't need anything but you!"
- From your very favorite musical, Annie

Daddy & I went on a 12 day Mediterranean adventure (more on that soon) while you stayed in Rhode Island with Grandma & Papa. We're back, & the home coming couldn't have been sweeter. I'm pretty sure I don't want to ever leave your side again. I just want to hug you & snuggle you pretty much forever.

I love you so,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Rocky Beaches

Dear Em,
A few weeks ago, when we had our fantastic girls day at Watch Hill, I watched you climb along the rocky coast. I was struck by how much you climbing around the rocks at Watch Hill reminded me of a picture from my childhood...& I found it.

I was younger than you...probably two or three. From one beachbum to another, I look forward to many, many more days on the coast with you.

I love you so,

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Our Backyard Renos

Dear Em,
We've had a few outdoor projects underway, & I'm so excited to reveal to you some of the results! When we moved in, there was a little, red stained deck attached to the back of our house. We had just enough space to put Daddy's grill & squeeze a patio table & chairs. The little deck also included a couple benches to sit on, & it was fine for us when we first moved in.

Before: Our deck without anything on it
Before: Our deck with patio set & grill

Before: Our yard with large bush
I started to hate the deck for a number of reasons. First, it was a lot of maintenance. We had to rent a sander & sand it down before refinishing it frequently. The new stain was supposed to last 3 years, but it looked awful after just a year. The screws that they had used to build the deck began to rust & the wooden boards began to splinter. It was pretty clear that the whole deck was going to need to be replaced.

It also didn't give us a whole lot of space to do anything more than grill & eat & sit. We have a lot of outside activities. Each time Daddy mowed the lawn, he would have to move our fire pit & Adirondack chairs & everything else off the grass. Then it was a hassle to move everything back. It was getting clear that our yard would be more usable if we had a bigger space to put our things on.

Lastly, there were two small, prickly red bushes at the end of or deck. They weren't particularly nice looking & they made it so we could never walk around the backyard barefoot. In essence, we had this big, amazing yard, but it wasn't incredibly usable. The deck was a big part of the problem, & this past fall I began dreaming of ways we could make our yard more user friendly.

I made pinterest boards & talked to friends & families about ideas. I got quotes from a few different places. I made diagrams. Finally, I had to talk Daddy into what I knew would be our new dream backyard. It took him a little while to get onboard with my vision (he has trouble picturing things), but once he was onboard I was ready to get started.

My diagram
We tore out the big bushes that took up space in the middle of our yard & planted grass seed. We relocated our sea grass. We hired East Coast Concrete to put in a new stamped concrete patio. I would highly recommend them to anyone who is looking to put in any type of concrete structure. They came early. They stayed late. They tore out our existing deck structure & prickly red bushes. They brought a cool cement truck to our house. They gave us everything we asked for & more...& they finished on time!!!

The view from our back doors after the deck was taken out.

We love our new patio!!!

I'm so excited for our summer nights at the fire pit & eating meals outside.

The no attention to the lawn. The cement truck put divots (that have been filled with loam) on half the lawn, & we still have a mostly dirt circle where our bushes used to be...but grass is already starting to sprout in those areas. The lawn stills needs some work. But all we need is a little time, sunshine, water, & a little more grass seed.

To me, our backyard is starting to look like what you see in Home & Garden magazine photos (minus the lack of grass). I can't wait for all the precious moments we will share there.

I love you so,

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Your First Fancy Cheesecake Factory Adventure

Dear Em,
We had a busy week, but Daddy & I wanted to squeeze in one special dinner at Duck & Bunny, just the three of us. I pushed a meeting up so that we would be able to pick up Daddy from work. Then we surprised you when we walked up to your very favorite restaurant. You were so excited for the fanciness of Duck & Bunny...& ofcourse, the cupcakes.

There's just one thing. It was Monday, & apparently Duck & Bunny is not open on Mondays. Womp Womp.

You were really disapointed. We suggested that maybe we have a special family dinner at Newport Creamery. "But the cupcakes," you shook your head in sadness. "Ok, what about Dave & Busters," I suggested. Feeling good that it was close by.

We headed to the Providence Place Mall. "But I really wanted a fancy dinner," you whimpered. I hated myself for not realizing that Duck & Bunny was not open on Mondays. "How about we try Cheesecake Factory," Daddy suggested. So, that's what we did.

You were thrilled to look at every single one of the cheese cake options. You also gave the decor a nod of approval. After a yummy dinner you had your first piece of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. You chose Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheese cake, & all was right in the world once again.

I love you so,

Monday, May 25, 2015

Your "Twick"

Dear Em,
I was fixing your hair a couple weeks ago when I felt something that shouldn't be there. Sure enough, it was a tick. Fear instantly paralyzed my body. We live in a heavy deer tick area, & the threat of lymes disease is real. I immediately felt guilty for not protecting you better from this threat. We should have used more precautions while hiking. I should have found the tick sooner.

"Mommy, what is a twick? Why is the twick on me," you asked, sensing my nervousness & fear. I yelled downstairs to your Daddy. He looked up what to do when a tick is on your child while I took a picture of it with my iPhone (thank God for the technology & the Internet, what did people do without it?!). We determined the best way to remove it was to use a pair of tweezers. Man, that sucker was really attached to the back of your neck. I pulled & pulled & you squirmed & squealed. In the end I pulled off the tick's body, but I'm pretty sure the head (or a leg) remained (& still remains attached to you).

Our next action was to call the pediatrician, who got us in right away. Fortunately, as soon as I detached the tick body from your neck, you were no longer in danger from the tick. Unfortunately, your doctor was pretty sure it had been a deer tick. More unfortunate still, you would not let your poor pediatrician go anywhere near the tick bite. Instead you screamed & kicked & insisted that you didn't trust him. Sigh.

So, he sent us off with a prescription of antibiotics, three times a day for fourteen days. That was a bummer. Unlike most children, you hate the bubble gum flavored antibiotics. "Don't they have grape flavored medicine? I like the grape flavored medicine!" You tried to negotiate with me, but it hasn't stopped me from force feeding you the medicine you hate. Unfortunately for you, torturing you with bubble gum flavors is far less scary than the possibility of you having lymes disease.

The worst part is the piece of tick body that is still inside your skin. You scream your head off if I even look like I'm thinking about going near your neck. My sincerest apologies to all of our neighbors who surely must think that you are severely abused...or that we've adopted a wild & feral child. Apparently, you would rather have bug parts in your body than let me look at the back of your neck (Don't feel bad, Dr. Silversmith, she doesn't trust me either). Sigh.

Did I mention on the same day we found your "twick," you also found a new "toy" in the family room? "Hey, who left me this toy snake?" Daddy looked at what you held outstretched in your hand. "Emma, that's not a toy." That's right. Somehow a gardner snake had gotten into our house. There are days when living out in the boonies seems like it might not be the best idea.

So, we've taken to calling you Emma bug...since you're technically a big part Emma & a little part bug.

I love you so,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Feeding Deer

Dear Em,
To me, the warmer spring weather is perfect zoo weather. I'm looking forward to so many zoo trips with you this year. I found this oldie but goodie photo of me feeding a deer, & it reminded me of the fun we had when we went to Southwicks Zoo.

Little Me:

Little You:

I think my mom was the better photographer. Ha!

I love you so,

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Little Home Improvements

Dear Em,
As I have expressed multiple times on this blog, this winter was tough for me. It was just so incredibly cold & dreary & gray & blah. When I get frustrated with life, I often take on home improvement projects. We had big plans for outside of the house this Spring (more on that soon), so any projects I took on inside the house would have to be small.

I was browsing Etsy & found these bright & happy stars. They were just what tour bay window needed to brighten things up a little bit. I wanted to get a few stars, with room to add more later. The possibilities were almost endless. I browsed for a long time before I finally chose a variety of stars in mostly blue, green, & yellow colors.

Once they arrived, Daddy & I installed them using fishing wire. All winter long, it was like we had a little piece of stary of sunshine inside our home.

The clear one paints rainbows on our walls every afternoon when the sun hits it. The addition of these stars was a small change to our home, but they bring a smile to my face every time I look out the window. Of course, they look even better now that the snow is melted & everything is green again.

Sigh, I love little home improvements that make a big impact, don't you?

I love you so,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Messy Bedrooms & High Heeled Shoes

Dear Em,
We had asked you to clean up the mess in your room, & I heard a lot of clacking coming from upstairs. I peeked into your room to find you like this. You were decked out in jewelry & had an old pair of my high heels on...but you were cleaning up. This is just how you roll on a typical day.

I would like to say like mother, like daughter, but at the end of the work day I am happy to kick off my pumps for a more comfy pair of flip flops.

I love you so,

Monday, May 18, 2015

My...Our...2015 Birthday Adventures

Dear Em,
You love birthday celebrations, & this year I realized why more than ever. Our birthday celebrations & pampering & fun tend to also become your celebrations & pampering & fun...this year more than ever. My birthday fell on a beautiful, sunshiny, Rhode Island day this year. Since you've been on an adorable picnic kick lately, we made sure to fit in a walk at the Narragansett wall, rock tower building, & a picnic.

You and I also pampered ourselves with a mani/pedi. When I think about the fact I didn't get a mani/pedi until I was in my twenties & you've already had several, I have to laugh to myself a little bit.

It was a busy day that included things like a Parent/Teacher Conference, a ton of errands, dance class, & Kindergarten Orientation (OH EM GEE, how are you starting kindergarten this fall?!!), but we squeezed in some fire pit, birthday cake fun as a perfect end to a completely amazing day.

I couldn't have asked for a better day. Thanks for sharing so much of it with me.

I love you so,

Friday, May 15, 2015

Love Letters

Dear Em,

"Hope when you take that jump, you don't fear the fall

Hope when the water rises, you built a wall
Hope when the crowd screams out, they're screaming your name

Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay

Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don't suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you'll say...

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived..."
- I Did It All by One Republic

When I first heard this song, I had to hear it again. I instantly downloaded it & listened to it on repeat for at least the next few days. Listening to it energized me. Yes, yes to all of it!

When I think of how I want to live my life, this song explains it so perfectly...& it's what I wish for you as well. We may fall down as we live this crazy thing called life, but fear of falling shouldn't stop us from trying. We get back up & make the most of each moment. If at the end of your life you can say you truly lived- you loved & you lost & you tried everything you wanted to try- that is what I wish for you.

I love you so,

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Birthday Me

Dear Em,
This is little birthday me. It's possible we had just moved, & I didn't have bunches of little friends, but my mom always found a way to make our celebrations special...complete with balloons & a dog in a party hat. Ha!

I love you so,

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Dear Em,
The topic of picnics came up at school, & you've been on a picnic kick ever since. This past weekend we had two picnics. You set up a blanket on our lawn & top it with silverware, plates, & napkins. Daddy & I bring the food.

You pat the blanket, letting Daddy & I know where you want us each to sit. You eat with giddy smiles covering your face. It's the most adorable thing. I love you for so many reasons, & one of them is how incredibly happy & excited you get over something as simple as a picnic on our front lawn.

I love you so,

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Dear Em,
Mother's Day didn't go exactly as planned this year, but it was truly perfect. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to the songs of the birds & couldn't fall back asleep. You crept into my room excitedly at 6am & were thrilled to find me awake. We quietly snuggled and watched Big Hero Six, hoping to give Daddy an extra hour or two of sleep.

You whispered something into Daddy's ear & he left the bedroom. You ordered me to stay in bed, with a sparkle in your eyes & a smile across your face. I knew you two were up to something. At one point you ran out of bed & yelled downstairs to Daddy, "make sure they're heart shaped!!"

Daddy came upstairs a little while later with corn fritters for you & I. Mine were cut into the shape of hearts. He also gave me my first scavenger hunt clue. After we ate our yummy breakfast, you guided me through the scavenger hunt clues that you & Daddy had worked on. You excitedly encouraged me to run from clue spot to clue spot. At the end of the hunt was a bunch of sunflowers, a handmade card, & some candy...& you jumping all around in excitement.

Daddy had so many fun plans for my special day: kayaking at Narrow River, a picnic lunch & kite flying at Jamestown. It sounded so lovely & so fun, but I was feeling a little bit exhausted & overwhelmed. We've had a lot going on in the past month, & I've been feeling a little bit like my to do list (all with firm due dates) is a mile long & every time I cross something off the list, three more things need to be added to the list. I sheepishly looked at Daddy & asked if he wouldn't mind having a home day. I wanted to do two things: relax & get things done. Daddy smiled. He was happy to do whatever I wanted to do.

We called Grandma to say Happy Mother's Day & Happy Birthday (she was visiting with Aunt Andrea & Uncle Lowell in Florida). Then we facetimed with Nonnie. You excitedly asked Nonnie if she wanted to play Barbies with you. Nonnie happily agreed. You placed my phone in the center of your doll house & "played Barbies with Nonnie" for the next four hours (you also played say yes to the dress & babies). Your room was a disaster by the end, & you were a little disapointed that Nonnie couldn't help you clean up.

With no child to entertain for those four hours, I lounged in the brilliant sunshine & listened to an audio book for a little while. Then Daddy & I worked to bring all of our summer yard things out. Once I realized that this was the day I could ask Daddy to do any kind of house work without him getting outwardly aggravated at me, I tried to squeeze in as much yard/house work as I could. Ha!

You finally said goodbye to Nonnie, & we headed to Home Depot to pick up some yard supplies. We planned to eat out for dinner, but we weren't sure where we wanted to go. I wanted to eat someplace casual that makes the kind of food we can't cook at home. We finally settled on Celestial Cafe, & I'm so glad we did. The food was amazing. We want to go back & eat all the food. It was a perfect, little family dinner. You sat next to me & we made beaded necklaces & colored pictures together when we weren't eating.

We headed home, & you set up a picnic blanket in the front yard. There we sat & ate the Tres Leche cake you & Daddy had made from scratch the night before (I had a Tres Leche cake in Dallas a few months ago, & Daddy found a recipe to recreate it for me). It was so yum! You & I headed upstairs after that & we snuggled while we read bedtime books.

I don't know that a Mother's Day that includes yard work & a trip to Home Depot is what most women would consider perfection, but this year it was exactly what I wanted & needed. Thank you for being a fun part of my special day, & thank you for being the reason that I can call myself a mother. You are the most incredible & most challenging part of my life, & I thank God for the wonderful adventure that is motherhood. I also thank God for giving me Daddy & all the rest of the help & support we have raising you. Motherhood surely takes a whole community!

I love you so,

Friday, May 8, 2015

Love Letters

Dear Em,
"Let's punish him! We'll spank him & then we'll put him in timeout. And when he gets out of timeout, I'll give him a wedgie."
- Emma, age 5

Ha! Poor, Daddy. He's absolutely outnumbered by his two girls with very strong personalities. I can't quite remember why Daddy needed to be punished. Perhaps he was teasing us as Daddy is apt to do...or maybe he just didn't want to make us corn fritters that morning. 

Your idea of a punishment cracked us both up, though. You declared his punishment with such sweetness & excitement. Daddy & I both laughed out loud before you & he chased each other around the house trying to give each other wedgies.

Oh, & before you think we raised you to be a wedgie-giving bully, we have a rule about wedgies. You are only allowed to give wedgies to Daddy...& Daddy gives them back lovingly to you. Ha! I love our quirky, hilarious, ridiculous family life.

I love you so,

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Scout Leader Baby Peach

Dear Em,
This past fall, we went on our first family hike. You loved it, & Daddy & I were so excited. We couldn't wait to include family hikes in all of the outdoor things we love to do in Rhode Island. We've gone a couple times so far this spring.

There is a trail five minutes from us that is perfect. It's not too strenuous for littles, but it actually includes a few different trails. So far, we've explored a different part of the trail each & every time. We bring a backpack, pack some snacks, & typically let you stop to rest & snack somewhere around the halfway point.

Being the girly girl you are, we should have known that hiking with you would be unique. You started giving us hiking names. Not happy to be assigned a name, I told you I wanted to be called Hakuna Matata. Your eyes sparkled when you heard that. You excitedly told us that you wanted to be called Scout Leader Baby Peach. So, we have Scout Leader Baby Peach, Scout Leader Hakuna Matata, & Scout Spider Man (you've insisted that Daddy is not ready to be a scout leader).

For the first couple trips, you would climb on every rock to "check for danger." While I like that you are cautious out in the wild, I didn't want you to think of exploring & hiking as dangerous & sinister (I would also prefer for your imagination to be a little bit more on the positive side instead of being about babies being in time out, people being mean, or scary things lurking around the corner). So, now we look for magical things in the butterflies that show us the way. You also carry around a magic wand (aka a stick we found on the path). "Poof! I made that tree appear. Poof! I made that rock appear. Poof! I made your pants appear" (good thing, because I would prefer not to hike without pants).

While sometimes you seem to prefer to walk the path less traveled (i.e. in the brush beside the path instead of on the path), for the most part you're becoming really good at finding the trail markers & reading the signs of the paths. Mostly you love climbing on rocks & jumping off. You seem to have two speeds, running & barely moving. I have to say, it's the most entertaining hiking I've ever done.

I love you so,
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