Saturday, August 31, 2013

Emerson: 13 Months

August 1, 2013
  • You are wearing 12-month and 18-month clothing.
  • You weighed 22 pounds at your 12-month (plus three weeks) check-up. You did well at this appt., and were far less upset by the doctor than before. Of course, you kept a very close eye on Mommy. You calmed very quickly after your shots, and had no side effects following your immunizations. 
  • You started walking on our vacation to Colorado...and you haven't stopped since. You are on the go constantly, and you rarely revert to crawling. You are very steady now, and seem quite pleased with yourself at this new talent. It will serve you well!
  • You hate bedtime. As we come inside after our nightly walk, you know what's coming and immediately start to cry. You scream through putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, (our attempt at) reading a bedtime story, and continue crying for anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes after you're in your crib. This behavior has rendered your evening bath rather unpleasant, so we've shifted that to every other afternoon (which you really delight in). Clearly, you just have too much fun each day to think well of ending it. Bless your heart, though, you are so tired at day's end, and once you let yourself rest...usually after tossing your blanket and babydoll overboard, you've been sleeping until 6:00 a.m. or so. 
  • You occasionally wake-up around 3:00 a.m. and it's a toss-up whether you'll put yourself back to sleep or need "mama" to come check on you. You wake us up with a very desperate "ma-ma, ma-ma, ma-ma", and it's almost always impossible for me to ignore that plea.
  • When asked a question ("what should we eat?"..."what would you like to wear?"..."what book will you choose?", etc.), you put your pointer finger to your lips as you say, "hmm". It's precious.
  • You love to be a helper! You carried mailbox tags from Grandma to Mommy as we decorated Grandma's classroom...back and forth, proud of your delivery duty. You love to stand at the dryer and put in the wet clothes, one by one, as Mommy takes them out of the washer. Such a big girl.
  • You've gotten to be around a couple of older girls a few times, and it's adorable watching you interact with them. You will have lots of friends someday!
  • Your hair is getting so long! It lays nicely and is a beautiful shade of blonde. You will tolerate a barrette for a little while, but as soon as you discover that it's there, out it comes. So, you usually have long bangs in front of your eyes. It is what it is.
  • Your laugh is the most precious sound, and I think you love to hear it as much we do.
  • You love to give kisses, usually obliging when asked ("can you give Mommy a kiss?") and often offering them to loved ones without prompting. You are very affectionate and come up to Mommy several times a day to give hugs. There's nothing I love more.
  • You are imitating lots of sounds these days. Words you don't know, animal're seeing what you can do!
  • Your vocabulary has definitely expanded, and you are quite clear in expressing several words, including bubbles ("buh-bull") water ("wah-wah"), Royal ("Roh") mama, ("ma-ma") dada ("daa"), grandpa ("baa-ba"), and book ("buh"). 
  • You love bubbles. You request them outside, point to them in the kitchen sink, and spot them in books. They're everywhere! 
  • You've been taking a midday nap around 11:00 a.m., which allows us to run errands in the morning, when needed. You'll often fall asleep in the car on the way home, and will sometimes continue your snooze when carried inside to the couch. Sometimes.
  • Now that you're walking, you are busy, busy, busy...on the go all the time. You have a very brief attention span, so we do a lot with ourselves through the day.
  • We've made several visits to the zoo, which you really seem to enjoy. You're recognizing animals and enjoy the elephants, monkeys, and giraffes, especially.
  • You love to smell (or, pretend to smell) flowers...outside, or if you see a flower in a book...sniff, sniff! I hope you always stop to smell the proverbial roses.
  • For whatever reason, you always kiss bears. A teddy bear from your room, a picture of a bear in your book, the honey bear in the cabinet...all get a big smooch. Too cute.
  • "What does a cow say?"..."Mooo"..."What does a puppy say?"..."woof, woof".
  • It is very clear these days when you need to take care of your bathroom business. You've started to find a quiet place (usually)...and you squat...and get very red in the face. You seem to be recognizing what we mean when we say "poo"...and you definitely know what it means if something is "stinky, stinky!" You wave your hand in front of your face and wrinkle your nose. You're pretty adorable!
  • You've begun to wander off by yourself in the house for brief periods of time. You're most bold in the morning, and while Mommy gets ready in the bathroom, you'll usually go to your room or play in the living room. It makes me happy that you know this is your home, that you're safe, and that I'm still close-by.

Emerson, you are an absolute joy.
I just love to be around you, and I'm so grateful that I get to be your mom. 
Thanks for being precious, wonderful you.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Four Years

For our first anniversary, Bobby and I vacationed in Cancun.

For our second anniversary, we bought furniture for our new house and celebrated with Chinese take-out. 

For our third anniversary, my parents brought a homemade steak dinner to us, and sat with newborn Emerson in the living room while Bobby and I ate our meal (together!) in the kitchen. That memory is a foggy one, as most memories during Emerson's first weeks of life are, but I remember it being a special, albeit casual, way to mark the occasion.

Today, for our fourth anniversary, I'm waiting for Bobby to come home from a week working out-of-town. Tonight, we'll celebrate his return, enjoy grilled steak for dinner, play with Emerson in the yard, and tuck her into bed. Then, we'll watch our wedding movie, per tradition, and call it a day. 

It isn't that all romance is gone after four years of marriage. Far from it. (In fact, we get to go on a date on Saturday night to celebrate, and it will be delightful!) But, one of the things that four years of marriage has taught us is that there are big moments, full of excitement & fun. (Cancun! New furniture!) But, there are also a lot of small moments, equally beautiful in their simplicity. (Quiet dinners at home.

I am so thankful for all of those ordinary moments. 
I am so thankful that we have many normal days that feel like big celebrations.
I am so thankful to have a husband who makes me feel so loved every day of the year.

This has been a most incredible four years. I am more excited than ever for all that is to come for our family. There is no one I'd rather be "doing life" with. And, today I'm really happy to celebrate being married to one pretty amazing guy.

Happy anniversary, Mr. Phillips! 
I sure do love being your bride.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Ironic Thing

The ironic thing about blogging (for non-sponsored bloggers such as myself, anyway) is that the summer months, which by their very nature present lots of blog-worthy activities, are the months when I find myself the least-likely and least-interested in spending time sitting in front of a computer screen.

See? Ironic. The dreary, long winter presents many opportunities for writing...and far fewer interesting happenings to document. Ah, well. Such is the life of a casual blogger.

We have had a most wonderful summer. It's been a time when we've been able to really settle in and enjoy our family of three.

We celebrated Emerson's first birthday...

...& vacationed to Colorado...

...& had an overnight visit from a dear college friend...

...& spent an evening at the fair.

Not to mention the many visits to the zoo with friends, evening strolls through the neighborhood after dinner, watching Emerson play in the backyard pool, pushing her in the front-yard swing, and blowing bubbles together. There are so many beautiful memories that have made this summer with our little girl one to remember.

And, each is deserving of a blog-post recap of its own! But, for now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of this late-summer afternoon. (Although, school is back in session today and the air is crisp! Fall is just around the corner! I can feel it.)

There'll be time to recap and reflect later. That is, after all, what winter is for.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Having a Baby Changed Our Marriage

We could not have been better prepared for having a baby. After two years of marriage, Bobby and I were closer than ever, and very much "on the same page" about the next step in our lives. It was time to add another member to our family. Financially, emotionally, spiritually...we were as prepared as we could have been. 

And yet, our marriage changed when Emerson was born. Perhaps because we were each individually transformed by parenthood. Perhaps it was the natural result of a third person entering what had long-been just the two of us. Either way, we changed...and, we had known that we would! But, knowing how, exactly, was impossible to predict.

In some ways, we changed in ways I'm not proud of. Parenthood showed us our relational flaws, and highlighted the growing that we still have to do, personally, and as a couple. 
  • Bobby and I experienced jealousy of each other. He was jealous of my connection with Emerson (largely the result of my nursing Emerson, and spending all day, every day with her), and I was jealous of his ability to spend time away from home. The grass was greener on the other side....
  • Our jealousy led to resentment. We were both, at times, resentful of the other. There were occasions when, although Bobby wanted to help, he couldn't. Emerson needed her mom (usually, more specifically, her mom's milk), and Bobby felt largely unnecessary in whole scheme of things. He resented my bond with Emerson; I resented his lack of help (due to his inability to feed, not due to unwillingness). Because Bobby didn't have the responsibilities at home with Emerson that I did, he was also able to leave the house and spent time playing football with his friends regularly. I (unfairly) resented that.
  • We weren't always sympathetic with each other. That, I believe, was simply due our own selfishness. We often each felt that we'd had the rougher day: me, at home...Bobby, at the office. Our work was very different, and our selfish attitudes didn't permit us to sympathize with each other. We were each exhausted, and didn't choose to selflessly give one another the understanding and sympathy that we both so desired from each other.
  • We were competitive. This was usually in the form of "who saw Emerson do (fill in the blank) first?" For whatever reason, we took on a competitive nature about our separate interactions with Emerson, and often didn't act as though we were both on the same parenting team.
  • We had far less energy for each other. My thoughts were centered on Emerson, and I didn't have an excess of mental energy to spend on nurturing Bobby. By day's end (and often before), I was worn-out from picking-up and carrying Emerson all day long. Emotionally, physically...I was entirely spent every day...and there was little left of me to share.

In other ways, we changed for the better, and we grew together. 

  • Bobby and I have developed quite a rhythm to getting things done around here. From our after-dinner routine (I clear the table, he entertains Emerson while she finishes her meal; he rinses the tray, I wash Emerson's hands...and face...and legs), to our former bath-time ritual (I nursed Emerson, he started the bath water, then cleaned up afterward while I put on Emerson's pajamas)'s very much a dance that we do together to keep our world turning. We each have our roles, and they fit together perfectly to make things work smoothly. We're a team, and in many ways, our teamwork has never been better. 
  • We're getting to see new sides of each other! I imagined that Bobby would be an amazing father, and I wasn't wrong. Fatherhood suits him, and seeing that side of him makes me love the man all the more.

And, in other ways still, it was just...change.
  • In many ways, we love each other differently now. We are getting to know how we each act and respond and relate as parents, and we act and relate to each other a bit differently, too. 
  • Sleeplessness or hormones or changed perspective or whatever has meant that I'm more sensitive than I used to be, and the jokes and good-natured criticism that used to be painless, can sting in an instant now. So, our interactions have changed...and we're still learning.
  • The way we spell "love" is different. There isn't time...or energy...for many grand gestures these days...but when Bobby brings in a hot cup of a coffee to the bathroom every morning, waiting for me as I get out of the shower, I feel deeply loved.


There were times in the past twelve months when I felt very much "alone". Not because of anything Bobby intentionally did or didn't do...but because he couldn't help in given circumstances, or simply couldn't understand my needs or emotions. (I often didn't understand them, myself.) Emerson needed me. And I felt alone in my responsibilities and as though no one understood. It was hard. That's all there is to it.

Our marriage needed attention that at times during the past year, I'm sorry to say, we couldn't give it. After months of celebrating and anticipating our baby's arrival together, enjoying a connection and closeness unlike ever experience a significant distance between ourselves in the months after her birth was...hard.

The happy news is that all of the troublesome elements we experienced were very much "fixable". And, the happier news is that, for us, the six-month mark was a turning point. We were figuring things out...about parenthood, about being married during parenthood, and how to give our marriage the effort it so very much deserves.

We've learned a great deal in the past year. And, lots of things have changed. But, what hasn't is our desire to have a large family with several children! Lord willing, Emerson won't be our last precious little one.

More importantly, our commitment to each other & to our marriage hasn't changed, either.

As we approach our four-year wedding anniversary later this week, Bobby and I are so very happy with our world right now. We are deeply in love, deeply blessed by this life we're building together, and by the little girl who has made our family more complete.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Baby to Toddler

I think I'm going to love having a one-year-old. If Emerson's latest discoveries and happiness are any indication of the joys to come in the months ahead, then we are in for an absolute treat.

When you anticipate a child joining your family, of course you "sign-up" for many more years than the first. And yet, that's what you really prepare for. You picture the infant, and the sleepless nights, and the "firsts". Frankly, many of the thoughts in those first months revolve around maintaining the little one's existence. One doesn't...I didn't, anyway...give much thought to the way life would be after that first birthday.

So, I feel like we're in very new territory. As we transition from baby to toddlerhood, I am excited. It's something completely new. I pictured Bobby and I with a baby for a long time before Emerson was here. I didn't give much thought to imagining what our family would look like as baby grows to a toddler. Seeing ourselves with a thirteen-month-old is new...and amazing. No one told us how much fun "1" can be!

There is so much to learn, for all of us. And it isn't so much about keeping her alive (though obviously we'll do our best to keep doing that), as much as it is about helping her continue to discover her world. Our pleasure!

I think I'm going to love having a one-year-old...I already am!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Emerson: 12 Months

July 1, 2012

  • You are wearing 12-month clothes entirely, except for some 18-month pajamas.
  • You are so very close to walking! We thought you might take your first steps on your just had a look in your eye...but no luck. You have gotten very sturdy on your legs, though, and cruise around the furniture with ease. It's been such fun watching you gain confidence, and helping you as you grasp our finger for assistance. We're sure you'll be walking around in no time.

  • It has been a rough month of sleeping.... For several weeks, we slept on the couch after you woke in the middle of the night. It really seemed that you were struggling with some nighttime separation anxiety, and cuddling/nursing with Mommy was the only thing that brought you comfort. We've largely worked through that now, and after a week or so of serious crying when you were left in your crib at bedtime, you go to sleep on your own much more easily and have been sleeping until the morning. It was a difficult process for all of us, but we're so proud of you!
  • You still really enjoy food, and have a great appetite for each meal. Strawberries and blueberries are your usual breakfast, with cottage cheese and turkey for lunch, and usually whatever is on the menu for Mommy and Daddy for dinner. And, you're happy to share with Royal. All the time. 
  • It seems that you are really beginning to understand directions and what is being said to you. It's a lot of fun being able to have "conversations" and figuring each other out!
  • You are identifying several body parts now when asked, and giving Daddy "high-fives"! You love to interact with people...your favorite toy!
  • Whenever you hear music, you love to stop what you're doing and dance for a bit. You've got rhythm, and your movements make us smile.
  • You really enjoy bubbles! We spend lots of time in the yard blowing (and popping!) them.
  • You love to be outside. Looking for birds, crawling in the seem so happy when you get to explore your world. 

Emerson Blair, you cannot know how precious you are. 
What a special first year we've had together...
you are the best gift I've ever been given.
I love you, baby girl.