Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Family of Four

There have been so many moments I've wanted to capture in these early days at home with Brennan. Moments that I know I'll miss and will want to remember in years to come. My only complaint about this time with a new baby is that I have no way to bottle up this time.... These days are fleeting and oh, so precious.

But, I have made notes...words spoken, emotions felt, observations & reflections of this time. Here's hoping that they'll capture a bit of the beauty that we've experienced in welcoming a new life to our family.

Emerson's maturity....

We prepared Emerson as well as we knew how before Brennan was born. About how the hospital experience and time with grandparents could go (so many unknowns about the timeline of childbirth and all of the potential scenarios made that a challenge)...about what it means to have a new baby at home...about becoming a big sister. She was as ready as she could've been.

But, still, there were surprises. We asked a lot of her during a highly emotional time, and the girl responded with confidence & grace, patience & flexibility.

I could not be more proud of her....
As she stayed at home the night her sister was born, away from Mommy and Daddy for the first time.
As she came to the hospital to meet the new baby, unsure of what exactly was happening. (Oh, the thoughts that could've been going through her head. I can only imagine.)
As she went home with Daddy for night #2 away from Mom.
As she tenderly holds Brennan, genuinely concerned for her needs and lovingly offering her help as often as possible.

She is one special little girl, and is a natural in her new role. Being a big sister suits her, and I'm overwhelmed with excitement for the tender relationship those two girls will have.


Things Emerson said on the day we brought Brennan home from the hospital....

  • Shaking her hand as she held her in the hospital bed..."Nice to meet you, baby sister."
  • Proudly bringing a blanket with her to the hospital..."She will need it so she won't be cold."
  • Seeing Brennan's bandage on her ankle from lab work..."I hope she be okay...."
  • Hearing Brennan squeak..."She talking to me! You hear that, Mommy?"
  • Driving home from the hospital..."It's your house, too, Brennan! You'll have so much fun with us!"
  • Holding Brennan in Mommy and Daddy's bed while Mommy folded laundry....
    • "You're amazing."
    • "Is that com-bubble (comfortable) for her?" 
    • "I love you, Brennan. I love you, Brennan.... We took you home, to your new home."
    • "...it puts me in the mood...por food. You like that song? ABCD...."



Our first night at home together....

  • Emerson had a couple of unpredictable and stressful days. Time away from Mom, a new baby.... But, she was resilient. And, after a successful "sleepover" at home, just the two of them together, Daddy was quite proud! As he should've been. I will never forget the joy I felt looking out the hospital window just in time to see the two of them walking in the parking lot, hand in hand. When Emerson came to my room, she was refreshed and content and secure; all was well in her world again. What a happy morning! 
  • There were two car seats in the van on our way home from the hospital. Two. One for each of our children. Of which we now have two. TWO. 
  • As I unpacked the suitcase, Emerson wanted to hold Brennan on the Boppy in the bed. That was such an incredibly precious scene. Some of their first moments together, just the two of them as I watched from a distance. I couldn't type fast enough on my phone as I tried to record the tender, heartfelt conversation. The first of many such visits, I predict. Emerson is in love...a natural...so full of compassion and patience and tenderness. I had no doubt as I watched them that Brennan would be safe in her big sister's arms. They take my breath away.
  • The house was a mess when we came home, and there was lots of laundry to be done and suitcases to unpack and dinner to cook and two children to tend to. And I used the still-flowing adrenaline to my advantage and was bustling around the house trying to get it all done. (Plus, it felt great to be back home, as opposed to stuck in a hospital room.) I decided then and there that I was really going to like the scurry, the busyness and the projects that two children would bring. It feels right to be a mama of two.
  • I saw Emerson in Brennan. Particularly, her expression as she lifted her head off of my chest, pursing her lips with a furrowed brow. What fun it is already to enjoy memories of Emerson's infancy as I watch Brennan.
  • Emerson has been nothing short of a rockstar with the change and the unpredictability of the past 48 hours. And Brennan seems to be quite easygoing! Going with the family flow, fitting right in as we go about our normal activity. I'm so proud of both of these girls. And I don't think that'll be the last time I say that.
  • While Bobby went to get our food, I cooked macaroni for Emerson. And as I juggled Brennan in one arm and mixed the butter and milk into the noodles with the other, I thought for the first time, "oh, yeah, mother of two...I've got this." It felt, for lack of a better term, "legit". And, I loved it.
  • We had a steak dinner delivered to us on our first night home with Emerson. It was a feast and a real treat. But, this time, we had Sonic and macaroni on the couch, as we watched "monkey George" with our precious toddler, with our newborn sleeping peacefully beside us. Happy to all be together once again, home where we belong. That meal was just what we needed. I was teary and joyful. Steak dinners are great...but it just doesn't get better than this.
  • It was a perfect first night at home together. It felt right and it felt comfortable. Every night won't be like this, but I couldn't have asked for more for our first night together, and I'm grateful.



Reflections from the first few days....

  • Bobby and I know our individual roles as parents, and we have better expectations about what each of our children need from us.  We're functioning as a better team, with a more clear understanding of what we need from each other, too. 
  • We also understand our individual sleep needs, and the realities of nights with a newborn. The "shock" factor hasn't existed this time.
  • We are, simply, more confident and more self-assured than last time. And, we're enjoying the experience differently than before.
  • Bobby's role with Emerson has changed form, and they have been such wonderful playmates during his time at home. This is a shift that has been long-anticipated and highly-desired...and although it's so precious to see the trust & fun & companionship between them grow, it's admittedly a little hard for Mommy. I've had to miss out on their daily "adventures" to the zoo or the library or the park, which has made me sad...wishing I could be out of the house, and also knowing that I'm missing special time with Emerson, and one-on-one time with her. As her relationship with Bobby changes, my role in her life is changing form, too, and that's bittersweet. 

The verse mentioned during the church service we watched on our first morning at home with Brennan that made me teary....

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose. 
Romans 8:28

Perhaps the sweetest thing Bobby has ever said to me....

"I'm going to try to remember, and not take for granted, 
the fact that you just had a baby two days ago...
since you look like you're back to 100%."


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Refreshing

Today is Bobby's first day back to the office after nearly two weeks at home for paternity leave. And, I'm sad that he isn't here.

Not because I'll have less help with dishes and housework. (Though that's certainly true, and his help in those areas over the past couple of weeks has been substantial. He's amazing, and I'm grateful.)

Not because I won't be able to rest so easily mid-afternoon.

Not because I'll be on my own with two little girls during the day.

I'm bummed because this is the end of what has been two incredibly refreshing weeks at home as a family.

"Refreshing" is hardly what I envisioned when I pictured our first couple of weeks with a newborn. I imagined being in "survival mode", needing Bobby to deliver coffee to me each morning (which, admittedly, he has done quite regularly) just to keep me functional. And yet, this time was quite the opposite. Sure, we've been tired, but this time at home was more about enjoyment & togetherness & rejuvenation than mere survival.

Bobby's time off-work was shorter when Emerson was born, and between fewer days at home and the unfamiliarity of being new parents and the mental weariness that brings...it was a different experience. Beautiful and uniquely wonderful as we learned about parenthood! But, different. Those days were certainly precious, but they weren't what I would call "refreshing".

This time, besides the benefit of having sweet Emerson to entertain us, I think we both came into the experience with far more realistic expectations. Going in, we understood the reality of lack of sleep, and that spending the night in the nursery recliner is part of the game. (Which hasn't made being away from the flannel sheets in our bed easier, necessarily, but we haven't been shocked by the exhaustion that comes from many poor nights of sleep.) Our parenting roles are more clearly defined, and we are working better as a team. Bobby is more confident with a newborn this time around, and I think he better understands the reality that Brennan primarily needs me (read: my milk) in these early days. He's been able to focus his energy and attention on Emerson, and they have truly connected during this time. Daily "adventures" out and about together, and that night spent at home together while I was at the hospital, have been especially huge bonding experiences for the two of them. It's a big (beautiful) deal!


Bobby said it well when he expressed to my dad that, as much as we (really, really) enjoy our summer vacations and getaways, there's something to be said for having had this time at home, doing very little other than just enjoying the company of one another. I suppose that's where the idea of "stay-cations" came from. (Although, I don't know that that concept is necessarily appealing to us. Even if we were to stay home during vacation time, I think we'd be liable to want to DO things, out and about, and make it a "productive" time.) But, being at home with a newborn, whom we very much want to avoid exposing to germs unnecessarily, somewhat forced us to just BE...be home & still & together & rested. This was a time unlike any other that we've had as a family, and it was nothing short of refreshing.

Weekends are wonderful, but they are, as we all know, far too short. There are, more often than not, chores & errands & things to do that don't allow for much in the way of rest, much less uninterrupted family time.

So, the obvious answer to continue to enjoy these periods of rest is to have another baby right away so we can regularly have weeks of FMLA paid time together.

Kidding. (Sorry, Mom.)

In all seriousness, though, I do believe we'll be making a more conscious effort in the months ahead to be intentional about Bobby taking time-off on a regular basis, for the sole purpose of family togetherness.

We need to make it happen. It's absolutely worth it.

Bobby, I'm so grateful for the past two weeks. You are a rock, for me and for our girls. 
So much of Emerson's positive adjustment is a credit to your efforts and time with her. 
You are an incredible daddy; these girls don't yet know how blessed they are, but their mom does. 
I will treasure these precious days we've spent at home as a new family of four. 
Thank you for helping to make this time so special, and for loving us...for loving me...so well. 
Your THREE girls love you so very much! xoxo

Friday, October 10, 2014

Introducing Brennan Elizabeth

At 8:37 p.m. on Thursday, October 2nd, 2014, Bobby and I met our daughter, Brennan Elizabeth. 
7 pounds, 8 ounces of God's handiwork...another perfect miracle! 


Brennan's birthday came a week earlier than we expected, so although her arrival came as a bit of a surprise, we were (of course) overjoyed just the same. We enjoyed the blessing of a (relatively) quick, non-medicated labor & a healthy delivery, and immediately experienced the most incredible feelings of new and abundant love for another child. God is faithful. 


Seeing these two little girls together has brought me immense and overwhelming joy, like none I've ever known before. Emerson's sweet words & gentle touches...her thoughtfulness & patience & flexibility...she is a natural and is thriving in her new role. To witness her growing love for her new baby sister is incredibly beautiful. These are truly precious days.


You are fiercely loved, Brennan Elizabeth. Welcome to our family!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Watching

It wasn't my best parenting moment. In fact, I was losing patience. I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary for us; my exchange with Emerson wasn't unlike our conversations that take place all day long. But, as I worked to get her into her carseat in the library parking lot, I was, evidently, being watched.

She may have been a young high school student. She was wearing braces, riding in a vehicle driven by someone else. I didn't realize she was there, but as she waited (for me to move out of her way) to get into her van, she saw, and heard, my interaction with my little girl.

And then, "Is that your daughter? You sound like you're a really good mom."

She didn't have to say that. And, I suspect she has no idea about the weight of her encouraging words.

As often as I hear compliments on my mothering from my parents or my husband (and that is truly meaningful), there's something powerful about the words from a stranger that give such affirmation to the job that I'm doing. Those that know me, know me. I would hope that when they see my love for my daughter, it doesn't come as a big surprise. But, for strangers who know nothing about me, to witness love displayed through my words and actions in the brief time we cross paths, and to know something about me through that experience is uniquely special.


I don't know the girl's story, or what led her to comment. Did I remind her of her loving mom? Or, was she struck by the difference of my behavior compared to the example in her life? I know there are so many loving parents...but is harsh, hateful parenting what she is used to seeing in public? Based on my experiences as I watch other children and their parents at the park or at the store, I worry that that's perhaps the case.

I was caught off guard by her simple comment. I smiled and thanked her as she got into her car, but I wish I would've had my thoughts put together enough to explain that I'm only doing my best to try to show my daughter God's love, or at the very least, let her know how sweet that was of her to say and how much it meant to hear.

I didn't know that that young lady was watching, but I know Emerson is. I think often about the lessons she's learning about motherhood as she watches me. I know those lessons will only become more evident and pronounced in the years ahead. But, this encounter was a reminder that the way I parent is visible to more people than I may realize, and on the days that it seems that I'm not having a significant impact on making the world a better place...well, perhaps maybe I am.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Worth Repeating

June

6/4

Noticing a dead baby bird that fell out of nest onto driveway:
Mommy: "It is sad. But, it's okay. God has a plan."
Emerson: (Enthusiastically, without skipping a beat) "What! Tell me!"

July

7/6

While kicking the back of the seat in the truck:
"I've got the moves, Mommy."

7/13

Looking at new iPad app:
"That's cool. That's cool. ... Cool, dude!"

7/14

"Bless you, mommy!"

Mommy: "This mattress is for the new baby. She'll need a place to sleep, don't you think?" ...
Emerson: "How bout there?"

7/17

Mommy: "Daddy wants to come to the zoo but he has to go to work."
Emerson: "Whomp, whomp, whomp...."

Handing Mommy an 'Oscar the Grouch' sticker: "You a good mommy."

7/18

Watching a little girl learn to ride a bike: 
Daddy: "You'll ride a bike like that!"
Mommy: "Someday!"
Emerson: (less confidently) "Somehow...."

7/22

Right after naptime, crawling out of bed:
"I got out. I'm so glad!"

7/25

Watching Mommy eat a baked potato:
"Big potato! When I'm bigger. I dink (drink) coffee and potato...when I bigger."

Came to living room to find Mommy after nap:
"I want to cuddle wiff you."

Looking out window:
Emerson: "I love trees...."
Mommy: "What do you love about the trees?"
Emerson: "Squirrels. They live in trees. And birds. ... (Big hug) Cuddle wiff my baby girl!"

7/26

Emerson: "Mommy, more pizza now!"
Daddy: "Emerson, how do you say it nicely?"
Emerson: "Yes, ma'am. ... Pizza, please."

7/27

Waking up at dark gas station on drive to Colorado:
"La-la rado?"

Mommy: "Emerson, look at the mountains!"
Emerson: "They're bigggg enough! Like, play dough!"

7/29

Grandpa: "Is that squirrel sleeping?"
Emerson: "No. Hibernating."

Getting out of bed in CO:
"Let's do this."

Finding bedroom door locked:
"Bummer, dude."

August

8/2

Mommy: "Say 'bye' to the mountains! Didn't God make some beautiful creation for us to enjoy? Mountains...and oceans...."

Emerson:
"And water
And cars
And houses
And trees
And baseball games
And cheese
And fish
And baseball games
And houses
And bath water
And dog's water
And stars
And clouds
And flags
And garbage
And dirt
And horses
And a horse
And Daddy...
How about...?
And Pooh
And Eeyore
And Piglet
And Christopher Robin
And Owl
And Rabbit
And Clifford
And pickles
And a movie
And Mommy
Ooh.... That's a lot of things....
I want a movie, please. I said please."

8/4

Looking in empty crib:
"No baby yet!"

8/7

Talking to Mommy/delaying naptime:
"I love my house. I love my big girl bed. I sleep there alllll night, and never ever get out. And never call Mommy. I love you so, so, so much...your knees, and your arms, and your hair, and your sunglasses, and your eyes...whew."

8/13

Mommy: "Look up at the leaves. Aren't they beautiful?"
Emerson: "Yes. God make."

Driving her Little Tikes car in the driveway, with hand to ear as if holding a phone:
"I on my way, I on my way."

8/14

Mommy: "I'm going to have some watermelon for a snack. Do you want watermelon?"
Emerson: "No...."
Mommy: "Do you have something else in mind for a snack?"
Emerson: "Yes. Power."

8/23

Mommy: "The title of this book is 'Pumpkin, Pumpkin'. Pumpkin starts with the letter P. The 'puh' sound. Like, p-umpkin, p-opcorn, p-laydough."
Emerson: "And, p-lease!"

8/24

Daddy on his iPad:
Emerson: "I love you so, so, so much, Daddy."
Daddy: "I love you, too, Emerson!"
Emerson: "Now he talks...!"

8/26

Mommy: "Should I go get more paper towels from the garage?"
Emerson: "No. You're still washing dishes."

8/28

Emerson: "I want to wash dishes with you."
(Mommy pauses, thinking.)
Emerson: "'Welllll...okay!' ... Do you want to say yes? 'Ummm...okay!'"

8/30

Mommy: "What do you want to eat?"
Emerson: "Gees."
Mommy: "Cheese?"
Emerson: "No, gees."
Mommy: "What's that?"
Emerson: "It's another word."

8/31

Emerson: "Daddy poops, Mommy poops, Emerson poops...."
Mommy: "Yes, everybody poops."
Emerson: "Royal poops, and God poops. (thoughtful pause) ... God poops?"
Mommy: "Maybe."
Emerson: "God poops...just a lil bit."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pregnancy Ponderings

I am well-aware that there will, of course, be many things unique to our experience with baby #2. (Though I can't possibly pretend to know all of the ways in which they will be!) One of the first lessons in understanding that fact, I suppose, is the difference between my documentation of this pregnancy vs. the last. Aside from a few sporadic posts, my documentation via blogging & journaling & photography of my progress has been quite limited. I'm not happy with myself about that, but it is what it is.

There is the factor of time. I have less of it now than I did before Emerson was born. (Actually, I suppose I have precisely the same amount...just less of it to call my own. You get it.)

There is the factor of energy. I just don't have much of it by the time bedtime (blogging-time) comes around.

But, the largest factor is, perhaps, that that novelty of pregnancy has worn off, and this pregnancy has been so very normal and unremarkable, leaving little that seems "documentation worthy". And by "unremarkable", I don't at all intend to imply that it hasn't been incredible. By its very nature, pregnancy is nothing less than remarkable and I'm quite aware and in awe of the miracle occurring within me. But, in terms of normalcy, this pregnancy has been exactly that, with not a great deal of "newsworthiness".


I suppose I have come to expect that, now having had two incredibly healthy pregnancies. I am overwhelmingly grateful for that blessing, and don't want to take it for granted as a given. It is not.

There are certainly things to note about this pregnancy, however...things that set it apart and things I want to remember.
  • I definitely felt sick in the early months...but, not as sick as my first pregnancy. There was plenty of daily nausea, but far less actual vomiting. No complaints here.
  • I had a notable sweet tooth this time around. Whereas I remember craving (and I do use that term loosely) saltier food (pickles for days....) with Emerson, I have definitely preferred and enjoyed sugar during this pregnancy. Yes, I recognize the irony in my having to take a glucose tolerance test this time. 
  • The changes in my body happened far more quickly this time around, specifically in that my belly grew and I "showed" much earlier in the pregnancy. I enjoyed that, really. 
  • I've definitely had low energy, and frankly, less patience with that side effect than last time. It's been discouraging to force myself to slow down when I want to be playing and keeping up with Emerson. 
  • Feeling this baby move is incredible. I looked forward to that milestone, and it has not disappointed as being my favorite part of pregnancy. This little girl is quite active, and I can't recall Emerson's movements well-enough to know how they compare, except that Bobby and I neither one remember the movements being quite so forceful or as lengthy. When this little lady gets going, she really moves and grooves for a long time. I am very able to identify body parts this time around (or, at least I think I am) and can almost always find what is surely a fist or a foot directly underneath my belly button. 
  • My nerves related to labor and delivery this time aren't so much related to the uncertainty of the experience; I largely know to expect as far as that goes having done it once before. (Not pleasant to look forward to, except for knowing the joy that comes as a fruit of my labor!) This time, though, I'm fearful (and largely irrationally so) for the remote possibility that something goes wrong, and scared for Emerson and what that would mean for her. Like I said...irrational...unlikely...but the lingering fear is present. And, I know that that fearfulness isn't from the Lord, so I'm leaning on the spirit of power and courage that He has given. 
  • Without question, the discussion and growth and demonstrations of love on Emerson's part as she increasingly understands what's happening has been the most memorable part of this experience. She understands more now than she did 6 months ago about what having a baby join our family means, and the moments that she rubs my tummy and talks about her baby sister are so very precious. She carries around her bear or her doll, rocking and cuddling them and giving them "milk". All practice.... She knows that there is "a baby in Mommy's tummy", that "she's not ready yet, she's still growing"...and, that "she'll come out your bum". She is ready to be a big sister, and if the affection she shows to this little one now is any indication of what is to come after she is born, then I should just prepare for my heart to burst. 
  • It is becoming increasingly apparent that someone is missing in our family. Whereas it was once difficult to imagine another member joining the three of us, now we are more than ready for her to be here. She is, in so many ways, with us already...a part of so many thoughts and conversations and preparations. It's time for the fourth Phillips to join the family, and we are so anxious to finally meet her.

My due date is one month from today. Let the countdown begin continue!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Emerson: 25 Months

August 1, 2014

  • At your two-year check-up, you weighed 26 lbs. (40th percentile) and were 2'11'' (85th percentile). You are a healthy, strong, growing girl! You didn't cry at all during this appointment while Dr. J examined you, though you were certainly apprehensive of the new situation. (Dr. J "couldn't find" your ears, which you thought was quite entertaining. You had to show him where they were!) You got a little misty-eyed when you had to lay down for your tummy to be checked, but you were so brave. I was very proud of you, big girl.
  • You are primarily wearing 2T clothes. 
  • We turned your carseat around on your birthday, and you love it. I was quite adamant that we stick with waiting until you were two years old before switching your seat (for safety reasons), and we made it, which makes me happy. You really seem to enjoy riding in the new van, taking in all of the forward-facing sights and visiting with Mommy as we drive. 
  • We took the rails off of your bed. You feel like such a big girl in your "new bed", as you should!
  • When we're driving, you almost always request that we "listen to moogah" (music). We've begun playing a Mickey Mouse CD instead of country radio, because you are so very perceptive and don't miss much. So help me, little one, we are going to protect your innocence as long as we possibly can.... So, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and "The Green Grass Grows All Around and Around" it is...over, and over, and over.... You love it! (Except for the ones that you don't. "I don't like 'dat song." At least I don't have to guess!)
  • Your imagination continues to develop, and it's a fascinating thing to watch. No one has "taught" you how to pretend, but you know how to play and imagine. One of your latest favorite things to do is pretending to be puppy, often panting or begging or carrying around Royal's leash.
  • Grandpa has enjoyed teaching you a few phrases lately, including "da nabba" ("dag nabbit"), and "that's all folks". "What's up, doc?" was a natural progression which Daddy taught you.
  • Occasionally, you'll want to have a conversation, and you'll say "talk about....". You will frequently have something in mind that you want to expand upon, or this open-ended sentence serves as an invitation to the other person to come up with a topic to discuss. 
  • "And, wha-telse?" ("What else?"), you say, as you add to and continue a conversation.
  • "Whomp, whomp, whomp...." It always surprises and impresses us when you use it completely accurately after hearing something that is, in fact, a bummer. 
  • "How about...."
  • "I want (fill in the blank). Right nowwwww."
  • "Hold you me, Mommy!"
  • "Bless you!"
  • "Wha choo doin'?"
  • "Hey! Where Daddy go?"
  • "That's a good plan!"
  • "I don't know!"

Emerson, you are conversational, playful, thoughtful, and fun. 
It is a joy to be around you, and I cherish these precious days that we get to spend together.
I love you so deeply, baby girl. What a treasure you are!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Emerson: 24 Months

July 1, 2014

  • You are still wearing 24 month and 2T clothes...plus some 3T knit shorts. (But, we're blaming the cloth diapers on that.)
  • Independence is still very important to you, and you tell us multiple times daily that you prefer to do things "all by my delf". (You now say MY delf, whereas last month, that word was not included.)
  • "Here my am!"
  • You've given a lot of thought to the idea that God (and Daddy and Mommy) "watch over me", and you mention that at bedtime quite regularly. It is comforting, little one, I agree.
  • "God heal me!"
  • Singing has become such fun to you! You have a repertoire of songs that you know and enjoy, including "Ba, Ba, Black Sheep", "ABC's", and "B-I-B-L-E".
  • You love to read, and take such delight in the stories, recognizing your favorite parts and discussing them together.
  • "Shoo fly, don't bovah me!"
  • You've begun to say "I love you" on your own, and it melts my heart. "I love you, mommy".
  • "There one!", you exclaim, at the sight of a firefly in the yard. You and Daddy hunt for them almost nightly, and sometimes you pretend to find one, grabbing it in your hand and pretending to let it go.
  • "Lotta books" must be in your bed at bedtime. We're talking at least a dozen. You don't read them, but you prefer that they be close-by as you fall asleep.
  • "This called?" you'll ask. You're identifying lots of unknown things these days, curious and unafraid to inquire.
  • Understanding what you're trying to say is so often so easy. You are a communicator, and your language development is amazing. 
  • After you give Royal a treat, you sit on the ground in the kitchen, panting and begging for a treat yourself. (This is a game entirely invented by you, Emerson, I should point out.) "In my mouth, in my hand, in my paw."
  • We don't watch Daniel Tiger before bedtime anymore. Instead, you take a bath, put on pajamas, brush teeth and then we read three books together in your bedroom.
  • You like to wear a "nightgown like mommy", and when you're in bed, you repeat what you've heard Mommy say many times about nighttime expectations..."no fuss, no cry, sleep all by my delf...." And, you usually do! You're getting it figured out.
  • When you wake in the morning, you call "Ohhhh, mommmmyyyy" to be rescued from your bed. It's pretty sweet to wake up to, I must say.
  • You request and watch the "Monkey George" movie on television practically daily. I don't know what it is about it that has so captured your attention, but it is unquestionably your favorite right now.
  • You are discovering pretend play, and your imagination is really growing. It's fascinating to watch that develop, and fun to see you enjoying your mind so much.
  • There are many, many mole hills in our front yard this summer (much to Daddy's dismay), and they have provided the most wonderful play area for you. Who would've thought?! You build "castles" with sticks and blow out "birthday candles" of sticks, and dig and scoop and play. Who needs a sandbox?! We've spent many summer evenings sitting in the yard together watching you explore.
  • It's fun to hear you quote phrases that you've only heard once or twice. You pull them out of nowhere, usually in correct context. It's fascinating. 
  • You particularly like to eat "non-nonny" (macaroni) for lunch, and have quite the appetite for it! We often eat our lunch on the couch, with a hand towel spread out on the ottoman as a placemat for you.
  • You regularly request to pray, particularly at lunchtime. "Pay birst?" (Pray first?) It's humbling when I've forgotten, and so meaningful that you haven't. 

You are two years old now...and I had no idea how much fun & laughter & joy that would bring! 
Emerson, your love for life and the world around you is inspiring. 
I am in awe of your sense of discovery, your tender heart, 
your budding sense of humor, 
and your ability to communicate. 
I am so very, very grateful to be your mommy. I love you, precious.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Emerson: 23 Months

June 1, 2014

  • You are wearing primarily 24 month and 2T clothes. 
  • You love to look for and point out the abundant robins in the yard..."rob-ah!"
  • You aren't nursing much, but you still frequently request a "lil bit o' nook" (little bit of milk), and then just get a small taste before you're ready to move on.
  • You also request a "lil treat" when you have a sweet tooth. These usually take the form of an M&M or three. "One for your left hand, one for your right hand, and one for your mouth!" (Coincidentally, you have learned the difference between left and right very quickly.)
  • Celebrating birthdays is quite fun, you have discovered, and you joyfully wished Grandpa "happy birthday" as we celebrated him last month. "Habby birday, papa", you said, or a variation, "Hobbah deb beh". 
  • You prefer to do most things independently these days, and you say "ah by delf" when that's the case. We hear that regularly.
  • You exclaim "Ta da!" when you're done with something, and frequently, when a task is not really done, but you want it to be!
  • Occasionally you'll request that your diaper be changed. You're recognizing how that feels and that a dry, clean diaper is preferable. Progress! 
  • You give Royal a good deal of attention now...and wish he'd reciprocate. "Hey, buddy. Hey, big guy...." You're taller than he is now!
  • You recognize the shape of a triangle and will sometimes make one with your hands. "Tah-gle!", you proudly exclaim! 
  • You've discovered singing, and really enjoy Darius Rucker's song "Wagon Wheel", which has the line "rock me, mama"...you request that that be played frequently. You sing the "Winnie the Pooh" theme song with Mommy, particularly the "Pooh" echo part. Adorable. You know your "ABC's", too!
  • You've figured out the difference between "me" and "you" and are able to use those terms correctly. 
  • At bedtime, you request milk, water, "pea o' bread" (piece of bread), "bayguh" (bagel), and "knees" (string cheese)". This bedtime snack seems to help you sleep better at nighttime, and it's become quite the routine. 
  • You are really learning how to count well, and enjoy counting to ten and practicing the alphabet regularly
  • When you're trying to suggest something, you often present it as "how about...?". It's hard to turn down your request.
  • "Try, try again", you say, when working on something new. (Thanks, Daniel Tiger, for that important lesson! There are several "Daniel Tiger" songs that seem to be sticking with you. Cute!)
  • When you stumble, you say that you "wobbled", and then "whoopsie!"

Emerson, you cannot know how special you are to me, 
and how much delight I take in watching you grow. 
It is impossible to imagine life with you getting any more fun than it is right now. 
You are one incredible little girl, and I love you more every day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five Years

It isn't as though the arrival of our five-year anniversary comes as a shock. When you commit to spend your life with someone...a vow that, when made in your early-twenties, you expect and pray will last for several decades..."making it" to five years hardly seems surprising.

Still, I remember thinking as a newlywed that this milestone seemed like a lifetime away, especially given all the uncertainties about what our married life would look like.

Are we going to be able to financially support ourselves? Is our budget going to work out the way we think it will?

What kind of job will I have? How secure is Bobby's employment? 

Will we be living in St. Louis permanently? How soon could we move back home?

When will we be able to buy a house? How does one even begin to go about doing such a thing?

Children? Of course! How will we know when the time for parenthood is right?



We had vague dreams for what was our not-so-distant future, but the how and when we'd be able to achieve them was hardly certain. There was much to figure out first about how, exactly, to grow up. And that is, truly, part of the beauty of marriage...figuring out "life", and making "grown-up" decisions, together.

Five years later, although I'm sure we still have much "growing up" to do yet, we have had so many of our uncertainties resolved. If I had been able to see a glimpse of my life now as I walked down the aisle toward Bobby, it would've been better than I was even able to imagine at the time. This life with him is exactly what I'd pictured it would be, even if the specifics were unclear. I'm so grateful to him for helping to make these dreams come true.

The plan (for years!) has been to take a tropical vacation to celebrate this anniversary. We so enjoy time on the beach, and this milestone seemed worthy of taking a big trip. But, between unknown scheduling for Bobby's work trips & this pregnancy timeline & uncertainty about toddler travels, our plan fell through.

But, that's okay. As much I would have enjoyed time on a white sandy beach somewhere, in some ways it seems more appropriate that this anniversary is being acknowledged in a much more quiet way. It's because of all these dreams that we've been able to see become reality in the past five years...all of the answers to our uncertain questions...that we're staying home. Those are the very things we're celebrating, really!

The financial comfort we enjoy. 

The gift of my being able to stay home, and Bobby's growth and success in his career.

Living in Springfield, surrounded by those we love.

Creating a happy home in the house that we own.

Raising our daughter, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of her sister.

Building a life together, secure in each other's love, support, and faithfulness.



Our marriage isn't about the grand gestures or the extraordinary events. Our romance has really always been, instead, about the day-to-day simple gestures and memorable moments that make life so sweet. For that, I'm grateful.

Of course, our dreams for the next five years are vague, too. There is uncertainty about what our family will look like in a few years time, and there are questions that surround getting from here to there. But, I am even more confident than I was as a new bride that, with the Lord's blessing and Bobby's leadership, we will be, as we are now, exactly where we are meant to be.

(Which could be, perhaps, on a beach for our tenth anniversary. Or, our sixth...?)


Happy anniversary, handsome. 
Thank you for a beautiful five years, 
and for sharing this life with me.
xoxo