Friday, May 30, 2014

Emerson: 22 Months

May 1, 2014

  • You can still squeeze into many of your 18 month clothes, but since the weather has finally warmed up, you're primarily wearing your 24 month and 2T spring and summer wardrobe. (Except for the 18 month Christmas pajamas that you wear when Mommy hasn't done the laundry. These things happen.) The 24 month shirts are a bit short...and the 2T pants are a bit long. But, they're all adorable. 
  • You love visiting the park, and have shown very little fear in going down the big slides all by yourself. They are by far your favorite piece of playground equipment, and it's so fun to watch you discover and play. 
  • You are so very conversational, and quite easy to understand. To have actual conversations together and be able to get our mutual points across is a really cool thing, and makes spending time together that much more enjoyable. You're such a good companion and really fun to be around.
  • You are a great grocery shopper these days. You usually request a piece of produce to nibble on during the shop (often a Roma tomato) and I oblige. For the record, we pay for the practically-stolen goods at the end of the shop. It makes me happy to see you already choosing healthy foods. You're usually ready to watch a YouTube clip of Curious George on the iPhone while we wait in the checkout line. We have a good routine going! We've come a long way, little girl!
  • Daddy has been eating a little handful of gummy bears after his morning time at the gym. (I don't really understand the logic but it seems to be working for him!) He started surprising you with one or two from behind your ear (magic!) which absolutely delighted you. Now, you request them, by color, when you see him in the morning. "Red bay-uh." Not exactly a breakfast of champions (and it ISN'T your breakfast), but it is an adorable little ritual you two have.
  • You have developed an attachment to your stuffed bear, appropriately named "Bay-uh"...(that is, "Bear".) Of all your stuffed toys, for whatever reason, you chose him, and although your baby doll ("Amy") and the little hippo ("Henry") from Grandpa sleep in your bed with you, too, it's "Bay-uh" that you need to have and hold tight to as you sleep. I love that you have something that brings you comfort.
  • During one night of rough sleeping, you taught yourself to say "Mommy" in the midst of your calls. And, Mommy and Daddy are your go-to names for us now...which is both precious and a little heartbreaking at the same time. Your days of calling me "mama" are largely over.
  • You are sleeping much, much better at nighttime. We've stretched your bedtime a few times (for socializing and enjoying the spring weather) and you've done wonderfully. It's nice to be able to have a little bit of leeway in that schedule these days. But, we still stick to our routine: a bath (every other night), pj's, brushing teeth, a quick clip of Daniel Tiger while you nurse, read three books (three being the limit, to your usual disappointment), goodnight hugs for Daddy, then a prayer, cuddles, and a lullaby with Mommy in the rocking chair. But, after your get your "pea bed" (piece of bread) to have in bed with you, you fall asleep quickly and we don't usually hear from you until 6:30 a.m. or so. It's so, so great.
  • When you do need Mommy in the middle of the night, you usually call "Hode you, Mommy." ("Hold you, Mommy.") Or, "hug you, Mommy." Obviously, I have no choice but to oblige when that happens. Melt my heart.
  • Speaking of brushing teeth. You've lost a lot of your initial, positive and productive interest in that routine. You now take the toothbrush, suck off the toothpaste, and immediately say "aww duh" (all done). Of course, that isn't sufficient, and sometimes we have to work together for a time (sometimes, a very long time....) before you allow Mommy or Daddy to brush your teeth for a bit. It's a learning process, but we're getting it figured out.
  • Grandpa taught you to (gently) bump your "noggin" with someone else's. You enjoy requesting that little game with Grandpa or Daddy. I don't know many almost two-year-olds who call their head a noggin, but you do, and it's pretty cute.
  • What little interest you displayed in going to the potty a few months ago has passed. We regularly suggest that you try to go to your potty chair, to which you say quite simply "no". You're not ready for that yet, it appears, and that's okay. But, it's also okay if you are! Just keep that in mind.
  • You are nursing very little now. I never would've guessed that I'd be nursing you this long, but I love that we've been able to take weaning at your pace and on your time frame. I think it's spared us both a lot of heartache. You always want at least a "lil bit" of "nook" (milk) when you wake up, and then it's on to a couple graham crackers and milk to "dip". (This isn't your entire breakfast, but it was a habit that developed during my morning sickness days, to buy me a little more time on the couch when I was queasy and needed a cracker to start the day.) Very rarely do you nurse during the day, and usually when you do request "nook", all you want is to check-in...a quick taste and you're off and running again. We nurse again right before bed, but that's more of a comfort thing than anything else, and I think your interest in that is lessening significantly, too. 
  • You are really taking to your daddy now, Emerson. It makes me so happy to see your relationship together grow. He loves you more than you will ever know. You give him a big hug when he leaves for work in the morning, we wave as he drives away, and you're ready to play when he comes home at night. You two are going to have such fun together in the days ahead!
  • You recognize and can name almost all of the letters in the alphabet. It amazes me. You definitely recognize your written name, too, and have begun to spell part of it..."E-M-E...."
  • When you count with someone, you usually say "1, 2, 1, 3". You'll get it! Daddy's favorite trick of yours these days, however, is that when you count, you'll say "ah-ah-ah" afterwords, like the Count from Sesame Street does. It makes us all smile!
  • Although I do my best to call Daddy "Daddy" around the house, occasionally I'll say "Bobby" or "babe"...which you usually repeat, to his dismay. We're working on that. It is quite funny to hear you say it, but he is "Daddy" to you, after all.
  • It took a bit of time to teach you to say "knees" (please) without prompting, but now you do it almost all the time. "Tank you" (thank you) came about on its own, and you use it constantly, almost never with prompting...not only when given something, but sometimes, even, when someone has done a service for you. Grown-ups aren't even always so polite. We are so proud of your incredible manners, Emerson. What a sweet little girl you are.
  • There have only been a few occasions where it has been made clear that "two" is right around the corner. Usually it's something very small that turns into a larger problem when you're trying to exert your independence. You do have a strong will sometimes. But, so does Mommy. I'm learning that these episodes can be quite entertaining (sorry, darlin') with the right frame of mind. I'm so thankful that, for the most part, there's rarely anywhere we have to be at a certain time so that we can take our time with these learning experiences. You're so precious even in the midst of your frustration, and I love helping you grow through them.
  • Your hair is so long! You let Mommy put in a ponytail more often than not...although I could still use a little more time to actually get it brushed more thoroughly. Baby steps! It has just the right amount of curl at the ends and it's gotten so much lighter as the months have passed. What a beautiful blonde you are!
  • You say so many things over the course of a day, but there are several phrases that you use regularly. And, ones I want to remember. 
    • "Awww...cuuuutttteeee"...when there's an animal or a baby that's cute.
    • "Little bit"...of milk, of a treat, of playing. You take your thumb and pointer finger and pinch them together to show just a little bit of whatever you're after. Hard to resist, I tell you!
    • "Hmmm, yes"...when you're agreeing to something, often with your head tilted and lips pursed.
    • "Bummer, dude" and "no way, dude". I don't know whether Daddy or I started those phrases, but it's pretty adorable.
    • "No pah-bah" (no problem). Daddy said "no shirt, no shoes, no problem" at the dinner table one evening, and it stuck. 
    • "Big pah-bah!"...the opposite of "no pah-bah". 
    • "Ta-da!"...when you're done with something, usually when you think you're done brushing your teeth.
    • "Dirt evvveyyy-wheh" (dirt everywhere), or whatever else is all over the place. You often say this after you've taken out the Swiffer from the laundry room and begin to clean the kitchen floor. The bad thing is, you're never wrong.
    • "(fill-in-the-blank) nice"...when you want something. "Cookie nice". " Swing nice". "Mommy nice." 

Emerson, there are so many things to love about you. 
Watching you become a "big girl" amazes me daily.
You are a treasure, and bring unspeakable amounts of joy to my life. 
I love spending my days with you, and I hope you always know what a treasure you are.
I love you, precious.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Emerson: 20 Months & 21 Months

March 1, 2014 and April 1, 2014

You're going to have to forgive Mommy, little one, for not taking careful notes over the past couple of months. I blame it on the morning sickness, to be honest. Know that, although there are few details here, these were most joyful days spent with you.

  • You are beginning to regularly say please ("knee") and "tank-you". It makes me so happy each and every time you say those things. 
  • Food has become less interesting to you, especially at meal times. We snack a fair amount during the day (again, a result of my pregnancy) but meals just seem to bore you. It's tricky to know what foods are appealing to you from one day to the next. You seem perfectly healthy and hardly just eat when you're in the mood, and rarely as much as it seems you'd need or want to.
  • You are quite easy to understand these days and it's such fun conversing together.
  • When someone knows what you're trying to say and repeats it back to you, you often say "Yeah. Riiiiight." As in, "thanks for figuring it out. That's exactly what I was talking about!"
  • "Oh, yeah!" is your frequent response if we've suggested doing something or eating something that sounds appealing to you. 
  • We've started cuddling in the chair and Mommy sings a lullaby to you after you nurse and before you go to bed. It's my absolute favorite time of the day.
  • We finally have a clear nap schedule. After an 11:30 a.m.-noon-ish lunch, we watch a bit of Daniel Tiger and then around 12:30 p.m., we take a nap. You lay in your crib, and Mommy lays on the floor, often rubbing your back as you fall asleep. It's not ideal, but Mommy has really benefited during the first trimester of pregnancy from having a daily nap...and if napping on the floor next to you buys that time, it's worth it. You've been regularly napping between 2 and 3 hours each afternoon.
  • Our nighttime sleep, however, hasn't been so pleasant. It seems you're going through another period of separation anxiety and you want Mommy close-by. I sleep on the floor a fair amount at nighttime, too. The nap time habit probably hasn't helped matters, but again, these days we're doing what we have to do to function. This too shall pass.
  • You have foam letters in the bathtub that you love to play with. Daddy talks about the letters with you during bath time and you have picked up on them so very fast. You know at least 20 of the 26 capital letters. Amazing.

  • After your bath, we put on your hooded bath towel...your "cape". Then, you want Daddy to "rock you like a baby", and he does. Then, each night, he walks down the hall with you in his arms, takes you to look at the living room clock at which point you say that you are "late". Daddy then sings "we're late, we're late, for a very important date!" as you come back to your room for pajamas. It's just one of those random routines that somehow came into play, but you love it and it's what we do! 

You make these dreary, late winter days so much easier. 
Your smile, your laugh, your happy spirit...all bring such joy.
Thank you for being you, Emerson. I love you!

Emerson: 19 Months

February 1, 2014

  • You have taught yourself to say "thank you" ("ten coo") and it is oh, so precious. 
  • You are beginning to let Mommy fix your hair. Ponytails are our go-to, and although Mommy has to work very quickly, we're getting it. Such a big girl.
  • You refer to yourself as "Emmy". The rest of your name is just a bit of a tongue twister, but "Emmy" works just fine for now. 
  • You are such a great companion for Mommy. We spend a lot of time together, you and I, and it's fun feeling like buddies these days. I'm in good company.
  • You are showing such affection for those around you, and cuddling a lot lately. No complaints here.
  • Hearing yourself laugh is one of your favorite things. Ours, too.
  • We hear you say "okayyyyy" quite often, and we just love it. "Hey!", "oh, my", "yeahhh" and "oh, noooo" are more phrases we hear regularly.
  • Playing with blocks is an activity you really enjoy these days. Knocking them down is, of course, the best part.
  • You are learning to brush your own teeth and have the motions down! It's impressive!
  • You've figured out "up" and "down" and you practice sitting/standing up and down, and going back and forth between the two as you say it aloud.
  • When you wake up in the morning, you yell for Mommy. "Up!"
  • In many ways, it feels as though things are just "clicking" with you. As though you're settling into yourself and figuring out this life.... It isn't as if you were ever discontent, but these days you just seem more settled. 
  • You're learning about sound and hearing noises, and when something is a little loud, you put a hand to your ear and say "lowwwwd!"
  • You enjoy the 'Winnie the Pooh' movie on Netflix lately, which brings back memories for Mommy.
  • 'Ben Loves Bear' is a book from the library that you really like. When we start reading it, you get your teddy bear, and act out some of the pages. (Such as standing Bear on his head....) You really are interacting with your books and that makes us smile.
  • You are sleeping so very well at nighttime. We all wake up refreshed and rested more often than not, and I'm so, so proud of you. 

You are one special little girl, Emerson. 
I am incredibly proud to be your mommy.
I just couldn't love you more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"It's a Girl!"

Last week, we learned that we're having a little girl! We opened the card from the ultrasound technician privately in the backyard, and it was such a special, simple, momentous time for our family. Emerson is going to have a little sister, and we love the way that sounds.

The next evening, we went over to my parents' house to deliver the big news...and to enjoy Dad's grilled hamburgers. After dinner, Mom & Dad & Emerson all grabbed balls of play dough that each had a few drops of red food coloring inside. After a quick squeeze, the play dough turned a light pink, and they knew...another granddaughter was on the way! Rachel joined us via the internet, and it was another special time of celebrating together.

The following evening, we went to Bobby's dad's house for another reveal. With the family gathered around the table, Bobby's dad cut into the cake, and the pink candy spilled out. Another girl for the Phillips family!

We loved getting to share the news privately with each of our families, and have had such a good time telling our friends. As each day goes by, and we visit more and more with Emerson about having a baby sister, it feels increasingly real. We are having another daughter. And goodness, we can't wait to meet her.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mrs. Miles

For a decade, my mom stayed home to raise my sister and me. And as I grew up, in the years after she went back to work, I knew that the job she did was important. She was a teacher...a good one, I suspected...and she came home very tired at the end of the day. But, that was largely the extent of my understanding of what her role as a teacher entailed.

It wasn't until I had the opportunity to substitute teach in her building a couple of years ago that I gained a much deeper appreciation of and respect for her work and herself as a professional. While I was there, I spent a lot of time in her classroom, watching her "in action".

While there are many (many) quality educators, I truly believe that Mrs. in a class all of her own.

She exudes patience & love & respect & encouragement.
She is constantly focused on the children in her care.
She takes her job seriously, dedicated to the task at hand of helping each child achieve their best.
She is firm, but constantly gentle.
She defends and fosters each child's innocence, nurturing their desire to grow through play.
She lets them be little, but at the same time expects quality in their behavior.
She emphasizes discovery, exploration, and curiosity, and as a result instills a love of learning.
She and her students teach and learn together, and her classroom is a healthy, happy place.

I learned an incredible amount from observing my mom in her element...working her magic. And, I understand now why she comes home so tired. She is undoubtedly the epitome of what a teacher should be. She gives everything she has to her students; she gives 100%. And that is an achievement to be celebrated.

In a few short days, at the end of the school year, Mrs. Miles is retiring from Room 7. But, the fact is, the world is her classroom. Teaching is a significant part who she is. (There is more to her, of course, and it will be fun to see what interests she pursues in the years ahead. The chance to do that is, I suppose, part of the beauty of retirement!) As long as she lives, I have no doubt that, whenever she is around children, she will capitalize on the opportunity to help them grow. And, because my daughter and future children call her "Grandma", they'll be some of her most frequent students. I was one of her first, myself, and I'm blessed because of that.

Congratulations, Mom! You should be so proud of the love & time & energy & passion you've shown and given to so many children and colleagues over the years. You are a class of a kind...and I am, always, so proud of you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The "Gender" Envelope

May 19, 2014

In a few hours, Bobby and Emerson and I are planning to open the envelope marked "Gender" that's been on the mantle since last my ultrasound last Wednesday. In a few hours, we'll find out whether a little boy or a little girl is going to be added to our family. Wow.

Several people have asked how we could stand to wait so long. Part of the delay has been my desire to wait until the time was "right"...until we could make it a "special" occasion somehow. (Not that it isn't, by its very nature. I understand that.) But, our Valentine's Day reveal with Emerson was so memorable, that I wanted to replicate that meaningful experience in some way. Another element of the delay has been my perspective that, since the alternative could be waiting another five months until birth, another few days to wait just doesn't seem that difficult! And, to be honest, as confident as I am that finding out the baby's gender before birth is the way to go for us, it's a bit like Christmas morning. The anticipation is so exciting, and as fun as it is to open the gifts, the surprise is over once you do. Of course, there are many (many) more surprises to come, but the thoughts and the dreams shift once the gender is revealed. (Not to mention that the preparations are going to have to kick into high gear once we know if we should be planning on a boy or girl. As fun as I know that'll be, it's a little overwhelming this time, too. Yikes.)

With that said, once we know whether Baby Phillips is a boy or a girl, the time of relative anonymity is over. It's one to thing to say "we're having a baby". As I remember from last time, it's quite another to think about "having a son" or "having a daughter". I expect to have a new sense of connection to the baby in the months ahead, and I remember that being a really special thing. I'm looking forward to that.

Then again, this is another milestone in our family...another reminder that our time as a family of three is nearing an end. Of course, there's already another life with us, and knowing the gender doesn't change the reality of that...but once we're able to really picture another little girl or a boy entering the'll be different! And, that's wonderful! But, bittersweet in some ways, too.

Basically, there are just all kinds of emotions going on for me these days.

I don't know what I want this baby to be....

Sometimes, I hope it's a baby boy. Like I imagined during my last pregnancy, having a boy would be fun. It would be a new experience, with new challenges. It would be incredible to see Bobby with a little boy, imagining when he was a child himself. Of course, he'd love to have a son someday, and I want that for him.

Sometimes, I hope it's a baby girl. It would certainly be practical, considering all of Emerson's clothes that have been tucked away. It would be comfortable. I've taken care of a baby girl before; I "know how". And, watching Emerson grow up with a little sister would be a lot of fun. Sisters are a special blessing.

I don't know what I think this baby is....

At first, I thought "boy". Now, I suspect it's a girl.
Bobby has thought it was a girl all along.
Almost everyone else that's offered a prediction is leaning toward "boy".

I do know that God has created this baby to fill a perfect role in our family.

Whether a boy or a girl is on the way, he or she has been created by Him. His hand is behind our family's design, and there's incredible peace in that. Whatever He is orchestrating for our family structure now and in years to come, it is part of His perfect plan. I take great comfort in knowing that He knows what our family should look like...and knows what we need...far better than I do.


May 21, 2014

We know! Last night, we shared the news with my parents and sister. Tonight, we're revealing the gender to Bobby's family, and we'll tell friends and loved ones over the next few days.

God is good! And, we're so, so excited.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

In the Midst of the Mess

We seem to have an ant problem in our house. Emerson left a graham cracker on the living room floor this morning, and after a short while, it was covered with the pests. (This is both disgusting and completely fascinating to me. Where do they come from & how do they get there so quickly?! Impressive.) Not wanting to spray insecticide in E's vicinity, I opted for the vacuum approach. I sucked up those ants with abandon. And then, more of their kind came back. Again and again. Within mere seconds. An annoying enough start to the morning, as is. (I did eventually spray, because apparently, this is war. Fingers crossed.)

Next, I went to my bedroom to gather laundry. At which point, I discovered that Royal, who was laying comfortably on our bed, had apparently just puked over the foot of it. I suppose I'm thankful that he made it onto the floor instead of getting it on the bed...though his taking care of the bed shouldn't surprise me. He seems to think of it as his, anyway. I'm not sure how we've allowed that to happen....

So, the next part of my morning involved bravely scooping up dog vomit. (With undoubtedly more paper towels than the job called for and three plastic grocery bags wrapped around my hand for protection...also a bit excessive. I get it.) A good dog would've taken care of it himself, if you know what I mean. But, nope. Royal left it for me to deal with. It was disgusting, and seriously, I questioned my own ability to not follow suit...if you know what I mean. But, I conquered. Used practically an entire bottle of pet-odor eliminator stuff...but I conquered.

Naturally, I thought I'd take advantage of feeling like a rockstar after having cleaned that mess. (It doesn't take much for me to feel like I've achieved rockstar status, I've decided.... I'm probably very confused about what it means to be an actual rockstar.) I then turned my attention to the dirty cloth diaper in the bathroom waiting to be sprayed. I cleaned it, and it didn't even bother me. What a great perspective-changer cleaning up vomit can be! Who knew?!

To recap, my morning, within a brief span of 20 minutes, involved going to battle against an ant invasion, cleaning dog puke, and spraying a dirty diaper. A banner morning already, am I right?

I went to the living room to send a text to Bobby to share my morning's happenings...

...only to discover that Emerson had, for the first time ever, discovered & explored the contents of her own dirty diaper, with her bare hands. I must've come into the room at precisely the right time, because neither the couch (I know, right?) nor the pillows nor her body had yet been touched.

The situation had turned comical.

I picked up a rather stunned & quiet Emerson, who seemed to know she'd done something 'icky' as a result of her curiosity. (Bless her heart. This is how we learn.) She was easily placed directly into the bathtub, where I proceeded to rinse her off and then gave her an impromptu bath.

She did seem to enjoy her random morning bath once we got her clean, and I did get to give the bathroom a solid top-to-bottom cleaning as she bathed. Scrubbing the bathtub had made its way to the top of the days priority list (obviously), so it only made sense to clean the rest of the bathroom, too. (Silver linings!)

I'd love to insert a photo here, but really, at what point in this story did you think 
"I just really wish there were a picture to go with this"? 
I rest my case.

This is hardly the sentimental, "ode to motherhood" post that I had intended for this week. And, if I find a chance in the next few days, I may still make that happen. But, sometimes material just presents itself, and I had to run with it...disgusting though I know this is. (I suppose I run the risk of never entertaining guests at our home again by sharing such gross happenings as these....) If ever there were a week to share a story about a morning in the trenches as a mom, this seems like it would be it.

Sometimes motherhood is messy. (To be fair, it's never actually been quite this messy in my nearly two years as a mom. And, to be fair again, only one of this morning's predicaments was Emerson's responsibility. So, I guess sometimes life is just messy....) But, in the midst of the mess today, I happily recognized that I was able to laugh about it all. (Tears were the other option, and would've been completely reasonable, I'd say.) But, I laughed! And, that's a big deal. That wouldn't have always been my response to a morning like this one, and I'm proud that this is another indication of my growth as a mom. Emerson reminds me daily of the beauty and the benefit of laughter. She helps me always find joy. That's one the gifts of being her mom.

And, as I was scrubbing Emerson in the tub, I realized once again that I can say with complete confidence that I was made to be a mommy. Emerson's mommy.

I love her unconditionally. (And I still love that Royal quite a bit, too.)
I would do anything for her.
I wouldn't trade this life of mine.
I'm right where I'm supposed to be. Sometimes, in the mess. Always, with her.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Emerson's B-I-B-L-E

Emerson has several favorite books, and she will readily pull them off the shelf, delighted to have a lap to sit in or someone to lay on her tummy next to as she reads. Often, the book she chooses is one of her children's Bibles. And when your toddler brings you the Bible to read...well, it just doesn't get any more special than that.

We always start "in the beginning". She turns each page through the story of Creation, and points out Eve and the sneaky snake. "Did God want them to eat the fruit?" ... "Mmm, mmm. Nooo." she says, shaking her head.

Then, it's on to "Noooooo-ahhhh!" (Because God said, "Noah! Build a big boat!" and I read it quite dramatically during our first telling of that story. So now..."Noooooo-ahhhh" it is!)

After that, it's ALL about the babies. We look for Abraham and Sarah and their baby, Isaac. Which is quite precious, since Emerson obviously knows a baby Isaac in her life. So, the fact that there's a baby "Ah-gah" in the Bible is fun. Then we turn a few pages to find Isaac's babies, Esau ("hairy!") and Jacob.

Moses is next, and she points out that Moses' mommy is sad when she has to put him in a basket, and then she's happy again to see him.

Finally, we turn many (many!) pages to look for baby Jesus, in a stable and in a bed that doesn't look anything like hers. She knows that Jesus is a special baby ("awww....") and notices the angels and the shepherds that come to worship Him.

Of course, there are more stories to learn, and the time will come for that. For now, though, she is learning through repetition of the ones that intrigue and delight her, and I am fascinated that she very clearly knows that it's a book to be enjoyed.

Lord, may she always have such interest in discovering your Word. 
May she continue to earnestly learn more about You. 
May I have the wisdom to help her grow and foster her curiosity. 
May I be intentional and diligent about guiding her to seek You.