Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Emerson: 16 Months & 17 Months

November 1, 2013 & December 1, 2013

  • You are wearing primarily 12-18 month shirts and 18-24 month pants. (2T is just ahead and that seems unreal.)
  • You have an increased interest in "dada"! He's a fun guy to be around, you're discovering, and you regularly enjoy playing with the Legos, coloring, wrestling, chasing Royal, or reading together.
  • Coloring is an activity you really enjoy, and we spend lots of time standing at your little table in the playroom doing so. You're learning that we use crayons "only on paper", and have tested the boundaries a little by seeing what happens when the crayons go on your little car or the bathroom door.
  • Your vocabulary grows daily, it seems, and you have several words that we've learned to recognize, including: "dih-dih" (cheesestick), "nuh, nuh" (milk), "dackt" (jacket), "di-di" (t.v.), "ah-gah" (outside), "Doh" (George, as in "Curious George") and "Da-da" (for "Daniel Tiger", not to be confused with "dada" as in "Daddy". It's all about context.) It's so very fun understanding you and feeling more and more as though we're conversing. 
  • Eating is becoming less and less interesting to you, particularly at dinner time, but when you are hungry though the day, you often lead Mommy to the fridge for a snack, clearly pointing out your preferences and what you (or, more often, don't) want to eat.
  • We've taken lots of afternoon walks with Grandpa ("Bah-bah!"), seeing dogs, looking for squirrels, struggling to keep your hat on (Mommy wants you to wear it; you usually would prefer not), and learning to look both ways before crossing the street ("are there any cars coming that way"..."nooooo".)
  • You are becoming good at brushing your teeth! You usually suck most of the toothpaste off before the brush touches a single tooth, but you enjoy the process, and usually request it by pointing to your toothbrush as you get out of the bathtub. When it's time to spit, you make the cutest spitting noise, but nothing comes out. I suppose one day it will; we should be prepared for that!
  • You've started napping in your crib! Your naps have been quite consistent (around 10:30 each morning), and although it takes a while for you to wind down (usually requesting a few books in your bed), you usually take a nap for an hour or so.
  • We've developed a new nighttime routine over the past couple of months, and the consistency seems to help you prepare for bed. We watch half of an episode of "Daniel Tiger" (where Daniel gets ready for bed, obviously...yes, the same one every night), and you brush your teeth when Daniel does. Then, we change your diaper and put on your pajamas while Daddy reads a story or two. You nurse again and then to your crib you go. You almost never fuss when going to bed and you're usually asleep quickly.
  • Bouncing on the big exercise ball is a new game. Someone (usually Daddy or Grandpa) holds you, and bounces you nice and high. You get such a big smile on your face, and when the bouncing stops, you exclaim "geh! geh!" (again!). 
  • "Nooo" is a very clear word of yours, and it's (usually) precious to hear you say it, because it is so very obvious that you know exactly what it means. It hasn't begun to manifest itself it a defiant kind of way, yet. Rather it's just been a way for you to show your understanding of things. ("Is the bear under the blanket?"..."Nooooo.")
  • You continue to be so social at the store, waving to other children or grown-ups who show an interest. You enjoy people and are happy to show affection. I love that about you.
  • Baths are becoming fun for you again.  You're content to play with a few toys and pour water out of the empty shampoo bottles. You recently discovered that you can lay on your tummy with most of your body submerged, and you think that's pretty great. Our little fish!
  • You have begun to really play with Royal! ("Rah-rah!") You enjoy petting him and being around him. When he's close by, and you know you're at risk of being swiped by his wagging tail, you put your head down a little and prepare for impact. It doesn't bother you a bit, though, most of the time. Sometimes, however, it's as if you're "telling" on him, if he's somehow made you upset. Sometimes big brothers can do that.
  • No one elicits the same kind of excitement from you as Grandma does. When she comes to the door, you smile so big and usually reach for her immediately. It makes her so incredibly happy, and I don't blame you a bit for loving her so much.
  • You are running! Your little legs have become so much sturdier and when you want to move quickly, you can. 
  • You have this little mischievous look, with your chin down, and eyes looking up. It's a playful smirk that we see quite often. You love to play and tease and your expressions are really showing your personality lately.
  • We borrowed the book Creature ABC from the library that we read countless times together. There was a photo of a wild animal of every page, for each letter of the alphabet. You loved it and requested that it be read "geh, geh!" (Again, again!) It was fun to see you recognizing each animals, making their sounds or imitating their movements. You were able to pick out many of the animals from a chart in the back of the book. What a smart girl you are!
  • "Hmmm" is one of your latest new sounds. You often put a finger up to your mouth to, as if trying to decide something. "What would you like to eat from the fridge?" ... "Hmmm." You know when there are choices and decisions to make, and you almost always have an opinion about them!
  • You still like to "go sneak up on them" and slowly creep toward whoever is around. You bend your knees, walk slowly, and get a sweet smile that says, "I'm coming to get you!" Tickling is the usual goal once you've snuck up on someone. 
  • You've had a couple of successful potty efforts, usually right before your morning bath. You are definitely aware of the sensations of needing to "go potty", but don't seem in any hurry to master the potty chair...though you do seem so proud when you've been able to make something happen. Baby steps!

What fun months these have been with you, Emerson. 
You are becoming more and more of a companion for Mommy, as we play and visit and explore together. 
I cannot imagine a day without you...what incredible joy you bring!
Your sweet spirit and sense of humor and tender heart are becoming so clear, and I'm thrilled to keep watching you grow. I am so proud to have you as my daughter.
I love you, precious!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Welcome, Isaac Walker!

On Saturday, my sister welcomed her son, Isaac Walker, into the world. Our family got to meet him about six hours after he was born (on his due date, no less!), and we all fell in love. 

Emerson watched her new cousin with wonder...& a smidgen of jealousy, what with having to share Grandma and all. But, seeing Emerson and Isaac together melted my heart. What fun they are going to have!

I have a nephew! And, I'm so excited to get know him more. 
Congratulations, sister. He is just perfect.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Baby F"

If I don't post this quickly, I'll be too late.... My sister, Rachel, is due with her first baby on Saturday!

Rachel and her husband, Brice, chose not to learn Baby's gender until delivery...which, although it will make for a most special surprise on Baby's birth day, has made for one incredibly anxious aunt-to-be. (Obviously, we're talking about me here. But, this isn't about me, so I'll move on.) The entire family has been so very, very excited to meet "Baby F" for months...whatever he or she may be! 

I don't know whether "Baby F" is a boy or a girl. And, I don't know what he or she will be named. But, I do know this....

"Baby F" is going to be one dearly loved child, with two incredible people for parents, who I know will work hard to make sure their baby has everything he or she needs, who will teach their child to know & love the Lord, and who will provide a home full of love & laughter for their son or daughter. 

I know my sister is going to be a wonderful mom. (And, I know that I'm going to make a pretty great aunt!)

Rachel, you've made for one beautiful pregnant lady! I'm so proud of you, I love you so much, and I just can't wait to meet my niece or nephew...& see Emerson with her new cousin! 

Now, let's (and, by "let's", I most definitely mean "you") get this show on the road!
You've got this, sis.

Decking the Halls

I must admit, I pictured decorating the house for Christmas going a little differently this year. I'm not entirely sure what, exactly, I had imagined, but I was certainly a little naive about the experience with a toddler.

The truth is, one-year-olds don't care much about holiday tradition or sentiment. Not to mention having a short attention span and the ability to move constantly...and with startling speed.

Decking the halls is usually a bit more relaxing and sentimental than it was this year. Still, we made some precious memories. Sweet Emerson helped her daddy put a couple of ornaments on the tree (and then took a few off, as well, but that's neither here nor there), and we decorated Emerson's small tree in the playroom with ornaments she was given for her first Christmas last year.

I hope to post more soon, and backtrack a bit to document all the fun we've had in the past couple of months. But, I don't want to forget these little details of the past week, as we've enjoyed being cozy at home as the first (big!) snow fell outside.
  • Unpacking the Christmas ornaments, enjoying the memories from the newest ones (from our Colorado vacation this summer) and tearing up as I unwrapped last year's "Baby's First Christmas" ornament, and the ball with the tiny pink-painted footprint we made with our baby girl.
  • Emerson standing at the window with excited exclamations about the "no" (snow) outside. 
  • Listening to Amy Grant's "Tennessee Christmas" and remembering listening to the cassette tape with that song as I fell asleep as a little girl...and then seeing my own daughter happily dancing down the hall as she heard the song herself.
  • Peeking around the corner of the living room to see Emerson curiously fidgeting with the ornaments at the bottom of the tree. (The non-breakable ones, that is. The fragile ornaments are at the top, making the entire thing a bit top-heavy. If the thing falls over, it probably won't even be Emerson's fault.)

We have much to look forward to in the next couple of weeks as we continue to celebrate our Savior's birth, enjoying the magic of Christmas with newfound wonder as we experience it this year through the eyes of a child...ours. What joy!

Friday, October 25, 2013

This Season

The other day, Bobby remarked a sentiment that echoed a thought I'd recently had. (I love it when that happens!) He mentioned how fun it is this season to be able to remember Emerson at this time last year, and compare those experiences to what we're experiencing now. 

Last fall brought some of the first memories we made together as a family of three, including a trip to the local farm and pumpkin patch. We were becoming more comfortable taking Emerson out of the house, and we were ready to enjoy the cooler weather with our 3-month old baby girl. We had a good time at the farm last year, but I clearly remember watching the families with toddlers and thinking, "that'll be us next year...what fun that will be!

And now, here we are. As we walked around the pumpkin patch last weekend with our toddler, I found myself remembering with a happy heart our time there last October, amazed at how much that baby of ours has grown.

A little look at then (left: October 2012) and now (right: October 2013):




As we approach the holiday season, I suspect I'll be doing quite a bit of this sort of reflecting...cherishing the memories of those early months & new holidays we celebrated with our baby, all the while overwhelmed by the joy that will come from doing this with her all over again.

The fun really has only just begun!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Emerson: 15 Months

October 1, 2013
  • You are primarily wearing 18-month clothing, with a few 12-month tops.
  • Your nighttime sleep has gotten a bit better. You're going to sleep very easily at bedtime, and have slept until the 5 o'clock hour a couple of times. It's progress.
  • You have continued the habit from last month, and lost interest in eating much food at mealtime. You graze and nibble throughout the day, with grapes, animal crackers, peanut butter crackers, and mandarin oranges among your current favorites. Our suspicion is that this is contributing to your lack of sleep at night time...hungry, perhaps? 
  • Nap time has become much more consistent. Around 10:30 a.m., you seem "ready", and when I ask "are you ready for a nap?", you nod your head and move to the couch. We nurse, and you usually fall asleep easily within minutes. Your nap usually ranges from an hour to an hour and a half, and you wake-up refreshed and ready for your lunch.
  • We've gone to story time at the library a few times now, and it's such fun to see you taking it all in. The new surroundings, the other children, the activities.... You seem to prefer to cautiously observe a new experience for a while before jumping right into it, and that's something your mommy can relate to. You seem to enjoy yourself, though, especially at the sand table and the felt board.
  • You read lots and lots of books! "Buh-buh", you say, and then bring one to Mommy's lap. "Turn, and sit", I say...and then you do. I think you would read books with someone all day if you could.
  • You are increasingly expressing your opinions and making your desires clear. What you want (or don't) want to do, or do (or don't) want to eat. You're a communicator, and get such a look of delight when you're being understood.
  • When we read books, it's seems that you're truly understanding certain stories, intentionally choosing specific books, and turning to your favorite pages...and quickly skipping over the ones that aren't.
  • We watch PBS in the morning right after your wake-up and then again in the evening, usually while Mommy gets dinner started in the kitchen. You seem to need that "quiet time" late-afternoon, and you zone out for a bit while you watch "monkey George" (Curious George). 
  • You've tried to play with Royal a couple of times...clearly trying to get his attention by talking to him or batting at this fur. He largely ignores you, which is probably best at this point, but you sure do like your puppy!
  • When you want to go outside, you point to the door, nod your head, and say "ah-gah, ah-gah". Your intentions are quite clear, and you repeat over and over again until we oblige. 
  • Dumping, sorting, & putting away various things (crayons, clothes, blocks, etc.) are some of your favorite hobbies.
  • You loved to be chased by your popcorn popper toy, and you run around the living room as you're followed. Grandma created this game and you love it.
  • Shadows continue to be a fun discovery, and our afternoon and evening walks have given plenty of opportunity to explore them.
  • Your speech sounds more and more like real words, versus baby babble. You have deliberate, meaningful vocabulary, and it's fun to be communicating together and understanding each other.
  • You've moved forward (vs back) on your bike a few times...you're really riding! Such a big girl! 
  • Your hair is so "flowy"...long and blond, with the most beautiful little waves of curl at the ends. 
  • You are a little "parrot" these days, repeating words as you're able and mimicking sounds, words, behaviors and actions. You are so curious and interested in figuring out this world of yours.
  • You're moving more and more quickly and with such confidence...often running!
  • You exert your desire to do things for yourself frequently, but are still so cuddly...navigating between your own need for independence and the comfort of "Mom". 
  • You readily give kisses, especially in the morning, to Mommy and Daddy. And when one of us gets a kiss, the other must, too. You are quite affectionate and we cherish that.
  • When you are ready to go outside or to the car, you often deliver Mommy's shoes and then stand at the garage door. A girl on a mission, who knows the process!
  • Stickers provide all sorts of entertainment! You place them all over yourself, Mommy's legs, Royal's back.... And you do it with such a look of focus and concentration. It's a serious job!
  • Nursing is still a regular habit. We nurse when you wake-up, before nap time, and before bed...and then sometimes when you wake in the middle of the night. Occasionally, it'll happen again during the day, but that's primarily a matter of boredom or needing comfort. You wiggle and squirm, though, and make things interesting. It's still something that you enjoy, and I'm glad to be able to let you slowly wean as you're ready.
  • You are beginning to show interest in cow's milk and at least have a few sips from a cup each day. Baby steps.
  • You have your very own potty chair! It's a bit early for you to seriously use it, and we're not really trying. But, you know exactly what it is and seem proud to have a potty of your own. No success yet, but the day is coming! It's good practice for you to make yourself comfortable there!
  • You love to "creep" and "sneak up" on people. You crouch down, and get this sneaky look in your eyes, and walk slowly up to your target. It's adorable and makes you quite proud.
  • You have lots of cute expressions. One current favorite of Daddy's is what he calls your "ghost face". Your eyes get wide, your mouth opens, and you stretch the skin underneath your nose. Quite appropriate, given the season.
  • Spinning is a new trick of yours. You hold out an arm to your side, using that for balance, and you twirl around and around...often when you're overwhelmed with excitement when Grandpa comes to play.

The Lord gave you such a beautiful spirit, Emerson. Each day, we are shown a little more 
of your blossoming personality that He created, 
and we are grateful.
You are a precious gift, and dearly loved, sweet Emerson Blair.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Highlight Reel

One of the dangers of reading blogs or routinely following social media is the comparisons that can all too frequently result...comparing your life to that of others. (A topic I pondered earlier this year here.) Of course, this isn't social media's fault...it just serves as the avenue by which we're able to see so very frequently what everyone else's life looks like.

Or, do we?

A friend shared the following quip with me a few months ago. (I'm not sure who deserves credit for saying it in the first place.)

"Don't compare your everyday life 
to someone else's highlight reel."

The point is, the images and stories shared on blogs or Instagram or Facebook are very often only part of the story, chosen to depict an event or an experience (or an outfit...or a house...or a child...) in the way that the owner wishes for it to be. I suspect that we rarely see the big picture...the entire story.

And I think that leads us to have very, very false impressions of the lives that others lead...believing that they are more glamorous individuals or that their lives are far more idyllic than our own.

I'm not suggesting that every person who posts such things is maliciously trying to deceive others. It's fun to share snippets of our lives with loved ones and frankly, even complete strangers. We're (myself included) intrigued by the lives that others lead, and conversely, others enjoy knowing what goes on in our world. But the reality is that what is shared is not always the whole truth. And, we often only share the best parts of our lives for others to see. I'm guilty of that. And I need to be ever-mindful and very cautious about my intention in sharing bits of my life. Because if my motive simply becomes showing others how great I believe I have it, then I've crossed a line.

With that said, now seems as appropriate a time as any to share the story of our family adventure to the local fair a few months ago...with all the nitty-gritty, entirely unglamorous details.


Bobby and I have fond memories of summer trips to the fair, especially during our dating years, when it was a yearly ritual complete with an annual photo in front on the ferris wheel. (Which I would love to include an example of here, were the photos not stuck on an old hard drive and on DVD's. Ugh. The never-ending challenge of figuring out to effectively store and archive thousands of digital photos.... If you figure it out, let me know.) It had been a couple of years since our last visit, and we were excited to make new memories there...this summer, with our daughter!

As we left the house that evening, I felt a bit queasy, but not so much so that I thought it to be overly concerning. We bought our tickets and made our way in the gates, but no sooner did we step onto the midway that it became abundantly clear to me that I needed to find a bathroom. Quickly. I'll spare you these details, but know that our first 45ish minutes at the fair were spent racing to find a restroom...and then another one. (I told you...glamorous, right?!)

While I dealt with my unhappy digestive system in what were certainly less than pleasant fairground facilities, Bobby was left trying to manage an unhappy one-year old, who was upset by Mommy's sudden disappearances, a looming bedtime hour, and the nearby balloons that she had spotted but could not attain. (To dear Bobby's credit, he did a great job, even succumbing himself to a sales pitch by a life insurance representative in the sea of vendors for the sole purpose of securing a balloon for Emerson. What a guy!) Suffice it to say, none of us were having much fun.

Once I began to feel better, we managed to visit the cows and see the baby chicks, and Emerson had a great time playing in the corn-filled tire. We saw the horses before their show, walked around the midway again to see the ferris wheel and all of the lights, and Emerson got her first little taste of a corn dog. It was a beautiful summer evening and it was special to be out together as a family.

Below is the photo collage I posted to Instagram...which, frankly, suggests an idyllic evening...a happy little family enjoying the fair in all its glory...right? These are the images of the parts of the evening I enjoyed. And, there most definitely were some! I wanted to remember these details of the night, and in my opinion, they were worth sharing.

Regardless, it probably would have been more accurate to show a photo of the inside of a bathroom stall. Or, at the very least, a picture of our family looking as frazzled and underwhelmed by the occasion as we felt.

No one really wants to see that, though. Nor is it any fun to admit "this was not entirely a good experience...things didn't go as planned...I had tummy trouble...our life isn't picture-perfect".

But, all of those things are true.

Between the unplanned bathroom visits, the plumes of cigarette smoke we were repeatedly forced to walk through, a generally "dirty" environment,  and a tired toddler, our trip to the fair was hardly the lovely family experience I'd pictured...though it was memorable, indeed!

(Bobby and I have discussed the possibility that the fair experience itself was always similar to this, minus the bathroom stops. The possibility that we were too distracted by our young love years ago to realize it...or that our perspective of a 'fun' outing changed once we had our baby along with us. It's possible. But, we also really do think that the fair has gone downhill in recent years. Another definite possibility, I think.)

So, case in point. I used Instagram to show a "highlight reel" of the evening. I didn't exactly depict our real life experience. And, that's okay...but perhaps, to some degree, dishonest. I need to be mindful of the "reality" I'm presenting and thus implying to others...as well as maintaining an awareness, for my own sanity, that others may just be showing their "highlight reel", too. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Emerson: 14 Months

September 1, 2013

  • You're wearing size 12-18 month clothes. 
  • Your appetite has lessened significantly. Eating (in your high chair, particularly) is not a motor activity, and it isn't all that interesting anymore. You'll just pick at your food at some meals, clearly not hungry. You still enjoy cottage cheese at lunch time, though not nearly so enthusiastically. You have your preferences, and they change daily. You don't seem to be suffering, though. 
  • The current bedtime routine is to play outside for about 30 minutes (usually including some combination of tossing around a football, blowing bubbles, playing in the truck bed, taking a walk, petting the cat, etc.) immediately after dinner. Then, you get into your swing while you eat a cheese stick...an effort to make sure you have a full tummy before bed...lest hunger be a part of your poor sleep. You recognize the routine and often reach for Mommy when you're ready to be done swinging and head inside. You've stopped fussing as we change your diaper, put on pajamas, and nurse, and you let yourself go to sleep very easily with little to no crying once we leave the room. Big girl!
  • But then, it gets hairy. Sleep has been rough lately, to say the least. For all of us. Although you've been going to sleep relatively easily, you wake-up quite consistently around 2:30 a.m. (although it is sometimes much earlier), screaming furiously. We've attempted to let you cry it out, but that's difficult to do in the wee morning hours when Daddy has to work the next day, and honestly, you're very stubborn and don't give up the fight easily. So, Mommy has been bringing you out to the couch when this happens every single night. We push over the ottoman to make a bigger sleeping surface, and you nurse, and then you almost always drift back off to sleep very peacefully until 6:30 a.m. or so. It's been unpleasant and we're going to have to figure something out soon. 
  • "Bay-bee" (baby) is one of your new favorite words, and you point out babies in books, and children at the store. You also point to and touch Aunt Rachel's tummy (your cousin is in there!) with the same exclamation. And, it's quite adorable.
  • You recognize elephants, too, and when you notice one in a book or at the zoo, you lift your arm up like the elephant's trunk and make a little elephant noise. Precious.
  • You have really begun to interact with your books, paying more and more attention to the illustrations and remembering pages that are your favorite. You'll turn the pages quickly to get to the parts of the story you prefer. Particularly when reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"...you love the "bea-uuuu-tiful butterfly" at the end! And you get excited about the "zizzer zazzer zuzz" at the end of Dr. Seuss.
  • The neighborhood cat usually comes over to visit whenever she sees us outside. You squeal with delight when the kitty lets you pet her, and we say "soft touches...be gentle...stay calm". You are such an animal lover!
  • You've had a few minor tantrums...really, just beginning to test the limits of your independence. Pulling clothes off the hangers in Mommy's closet after and during being told 'no'...repeatedly walking over to and upset not to be able to play with the frozen chicken at Walmart...trying to eat Royal's food. We're learning some things together.
  • You've spent some fun late-summer afternoons playing in the sprinkler at Grandpa and Grandma's house! You particularly seem to enjoy filling up the little buckets and empty cans with water. It's fun for Mommy to see you playing in the same yard that she did.
  • You really like television.... You figured out the power button on the remote months ago, and now you turn it on all by yourself, usually right after you wake-up (on the couch). It holds your interest for a little while in the mornings, and then you're off to explore other things. We turn on PBS again in the early-evening while Mommy gets dinner started and that seems to be a good wind-down activity for you as we settle into the evening routine. You seem to like "Daniel Tiger" and "Curious George" the most. 
  • You've discovered coloring! And, Play Dough! Play Dough lost its appeal a bit after you learned that it isn't for eating, but you still enjoy it. And you pull out the crayon box almost daily to scribble in your coloring book for a while. What fun we'll have together in days to come!

You are growing into a little girl before my eyes, Emerson, 
and I could not be more proud of and constantly amazed by you.
I love you so very, very much.

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Baby, You A Song"

I've enjoyed the song "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line since I first heard it over a year ago. Can you blame me? It has a great beat, and during those first few long weeks around the house with an infant, hearing it never failed to put me in a good mood. I must've played that song many, many times that summer, during my dancing days with Emerson. 

Needless to say, Emerson now recognizes the song when it comes on the radio, or when I (frequently) play it on Spotify as we hang out. As soon as she hears those first few notes, she looks at me with a big smile and usually heads in my direction so we can "dance". Our bouncing as the song plays has put her to sleep in my arms more than once, and truly, it's the closest song we have to being a lullaby for her. (I'm not proud of that. But, honestly, the girl dislikes sleeping so much that she hasn't really allowed for any sort of sweet bedtime rituals...yet.)

Do I love that my toddler's favorite song has the word "hell" in it? Heavens, no. We'll have to come up with a way to modify that one of these days.

But, I love that we can love a song together. I love that it reminds me of her, every time.

And, sure, the lyrics are referring to a different kind of "baby". But, it still makes me think of mine.

"Baby, you a song...." 

...and a most incredibly beautiful one, at that.