Summer is hands down my favorite season, and yet for some reason it also seems to be the season where life and time seriously just FLY by. When I find myself so completely immersed in the life and people around me, that time almost seems irrelevant until it's all gone and it's time for the next season of life to arrive. If I'm being honest, I LOVE our summers for that exact reason. It's so cleansing for the soul to be able to simply just BE, and to not have to worry about what's coming next or what's already passed. Nothing that's going on in the rest of the world seems to matter as much, because the joy found from the people right here with me is more than enough. ❤️ Because so much has passed since my last post and I use this blog a lot as a journal to help me keep track of what we've done, I'm breaking from my usual post format and am going to do my best to summarize our summer in a few shorter points, so that I can have enough of a reminder of all the fun adventures that summer 2018 brought our way.
1. We had the 4th of July (obviously). This year it was SO freaking hot and temperatures literally got up to 106 degrees, so although some of our usual traditions got shifted around a bit, we still had a ton of fun. The night before we went to our favorite town's fireworks, then on the actual holiday had a special breakfast with friends, went swimming, then later that afternoon went to a (short) Independence Day parade. Our original plan had included a BBQ or picnic after the parade, but to beat the heat we ended up doing pizza and milkshakes instead and then let the kiddos do sparklers that night once the sun had started to set. Em actually held her own sparkler this year and would ask for it to go "again" every time one would run out, and aside from my constant panicking of her getting burned ended a near perfect holiday!
2. We went to Utah for an entire MONTH. As part of Kyle's fourth year of dental school he was required to do a four-week externship at a dental office, and we figured why not use it as an opportunity to visit family and signed up for a clinic in Utah. We had the chance to celebrate Em's birthday with both of our families, went to the drive-in movies (Emery's first time and she stayed awake till the end like a champ), did some swimming, ate LOTS of Cafe Rio, and had tons of fun getting as much time in as we could with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents! Emery also did swimming lessons for her first time while we were out, and I was so proud of her by the end of the lessons at her ability to blow bubbles and go underwater without drowning or freaking out too much. We drove out there and back and even though I never want to do that drive again, it was a fun experience being able to road trip the country with my two favorite people. Also, a HUGE shoutout and thank you to my parents who not only let us crash with them for an entire month, but also made it so I literally didn't have to cook dinner, do dishes, or clean a bathroom for an entire month. We never realize how good kid life was until we're the ones having to adult and get a slight glimpse of what it would be like to go back. 😂
3. We got our family pictures done (in Utah) by the forever amazing Heidi Leigh Photography. Heidi is a dear friend of mine from dental school and did our maternity, newborn, and one year family/birthday pictures, all of which hold some of my all time favorite pictures and memories. Her husband graduated this past May and I was in near despair about her moving away and not being able to be our designated KY family photographer. I got extremely lucky when she decided to move back to Utah, and obviously had to snatch up the opportunity to have her do our pictures at least one more time while we were out visiting family. The overload of pictures on this post shows how obsessed I am with how they turned out (I'm literally still having to refrain from just posting all of them) and I absolutely love her ability to capture our little family as we are but just in a really dreamy, artistic way. Emery had fallen asleep on our way to the shoot and was SO grumpy and temperamental throughout the majority of the session, and Heidi worked through Em's toddler grumpiness to still produce soooo many beautiful images! For any of my Utah friends that need a photographer, you already know that Heidi has our vote!! Thank you so much again for the amazing pictures Heidi, you're the best!
4. Emery had a ridiculous growth spurt and is amazing Kyle and I everyday with the stuff she comes up with. Since her 2nd birthday at the end of June, she has started to actually willingly eat the food off of her plate (or at least negotiate what she will eat), ask for things in complete sentences (think "mama, can I hab a bobsicle....peaze?"), will occasionally pick up her own toys without persuasion tactics, and just seems so much more aware of the people and things happening around her. Shortly after arriving in Utah, the stress of trying to get settled in/unpacked combined with still not catching up on sleep after the 24 hour straight through drive took it's toll on me an I ended up breaking down in an ugly-cry puddle of tears. Em happened to be the only one home with me at the time, and the moment she noticed my tears came up to me concerned saying, "Mama, you cryin? Wha happen?", and then proceeded to offer me water, her blanket, kisses, and everything else she could think of until my stress cry turned to an all-the-feels cry, then finally turned into laughter over her sweet attempts to help me feel better. It's moments like these that remind me as a parent that despite the occasional (or somewhat constant) craziness of life, that things generally are always going to turn out ok.
5. Kyle and I had our FIVE year wedding anniversary on August 3rd, and because we were lucky enough for the date to fall during the same time as our Utah stay, had the chance to celebrate it by having our very first ever baby-free overnight celebration. I was SO excited for Kyle and I to finally have the chance to get some time away with just the two of us (and honestly to be able to sleep/wake up on our own timeframe instead of Em's 😂) but was surprised at how hard a time I had actually leaving her with my parents when it came time to leave. When we went to kiss Emery goodbye she immediately started crying and asking to come (that girl has the worst FOMO I've ever seen), and thinking of how she's come with us on literally every trip and adventure we've had sent me over the edge, forcing poor Kyle to listen to me blubber and cry for a good 30 minutes into the drive about how much I was going to miss her but was still so excited. Once the excited was able to overcome my sadness over leaving Em behind though, I was so amazed at how much Kyle and I needed that time together with just the two of us. We spent the weekend in Park City, Utah, and realized about three hours into our trip that we were subconsciously rushing through all of our planned activities and locations because we're both so used to working around a toddler's somewhat ticking-time bomb schedule. We had to actively work to make that switch in our minds to just take things slow and enjoy each moment, and once we did found ourselves able to so much more fully soak in all of the fun and good times exploring the city, eating dinner, shopping, walking, and even eating ice cream at a nice enjoyable pace. As our little getaway was coming to a close, I couldn't help but just feel so incredibly grateful for everything that these past five years have brought to our lives. We started our journey with just the two of us during Kyle's undergrad in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with lots of dreams, plans, and goals for ourselves and each other, and now in what seems like the blink of an eye we're just a year away from Kyle finishing his dental school journey, and have had our family grow bringing us so much more joy and adventure than we could've experienced with just the two of us. I absolutely love everything about the life that Kyle and I have created together so far, and it just makes me feel even more hopeful for everything that our future holds in store. Cheers to this adventure and everything that's ahead.
Since having a baby I feel like our lives have been moving in fast forward, and I swear it wasn't that long ago that Kyle and I were at the hospital coming to the realization that we were about to meet our baby girl that we had waited so long for. Yet here we are, now with an extremely energetic, talking, running and giggling TWO year old, scratching our heads wondering how time went by this quickly, but still loving the new stages and adventures that having a toddler brings. Last year while planning Emery's 1st birthday party, I worked feverishly months in advance anticipating the day, making my mama heart feel allllll the emotions of my baby turning one for probably a lot longer than necessary. This year, I forced myself to hold off on planning her party until the actual month of, and even though it did help tone down the crazy on my party planning addiction, the mama feels still came and I was still a huge cry baby leading up to Em's big day blubbering to Kyle about how much she's grown. Turns out that no matter what I do I'm still bound to turn to mush when my child's birthday gets close enough. 😆
tablecloths + ribbon (garland): hobby lobby | chalkboard: home depot | toy planes + amelia earhart book: amazon
cake stands + wooden "E": target | small wood planes: amazon | larger wooden plane: local NJ craft/art fair
For Emery's birthdays I decided last year that I always wanted her parties to be focused on something that she really enjoys, and this year that thing happened to be airplanes! I don't know if it's been the fairly constant airplane rides to visit family throughout her life or just one of those random toddler interests, but Emery is OBSESSED with all things airplane related. While finding it near impossible to find her shoes sitting two feet away from her when we're trying to leave the house, she'll spot an airplane 20,000 feet up without any problem, and always with an adorable amount of excitement (think Em's little voice squealing "air-pane!!!!" and then "anoder one!!! about 20 times a day) 😉. While visiting our aunt in New Jersey in May I'd found Emery an adorable little handmade wooden airplane toy at a local craft fair, and that combined with the constant notification of airplanes in the sky sparked the idea for an airplane themed party. It turned out that finding airplane themed things for a party that weren't obviously meant for a boy was a little tricky, but I managed to find a few cute airplanes that were natural wood, then just added in little pops of more girly colors on the propeller/wheels, and then brought in more color into the rest of the decor with the plates, napkins, banner, cake toppers, etc.
While planning the party I wanted to try really hard to keep things simplified (a genuine task for me sometimes... or all the time) and to make sure that everything was really toddler friendly for Emery and all of her friends to enjoy. Last year I had done her party at a local splash pad, and although it was fun, the splash pad was PACKED with people and having to drive there brought up a lot of unexpected hurdles that added unnecessary stress to the day. This year we did the party in one of the local picnic areas of our apartment complex so there was no driving required, and we kept all of the food really simple & toddler approved with popsicles, powdered "cloud" doughnuts, mini bottled water, and of course birthday cake! I also found these adorable little pull-back airplanes for the kids to play with, and after laying down my giant chalkboard on one of the picnic tables and drawing a few runway lines, the kids had a blast flying the planes all over the table setup as well as running around with them throughout the picnic area. It was so much fun watching the kiddos all play together, and I really appreciated the change of pace by keeping things a little more quiet and close to home for the sake of simplicity.
Also, I need to give a HUGE shout out and thank you to my girlfriend Kami for offering to make Emery's birthday cake for me. Leading up to the party the only aspect of planning her party that was really stressing me out was the idea of trying to make an actual free standing birthday cake, and Kami literally just took all of that stress off of my shoulders and made the most beautiful and tasty cake for Em's party! I was able to stick to my craft-loving self and made all of the little toppers to go in her cake, and then Kami took care of the rest so that the toppers would actually have a cake to go in! 😉 I feel so lucky to have so many talented girlfriends close by to help with fun things like this, there's no way I'd be able to survive out here in Kentucky without all of them! Thanks a million and a million again Kami! You're the best!
As hard as it is to watch my baby grow up, the whole birthday experience with Emery this year has been SO much fun! Emery actually knew this year that her birthday was something special and it made everything more exciting! She spent the whole day saying "Happy Berfday Emery!", got SO excited opening all of her cards & birthday messages from family back home, and was grinning from ear to ear throughout her whole party, asking to blow her candles out on her cake again after we'd sung to her. 😂 All the hugs, kisses, and thank you's to all of our family back home and all of our sweet friends here that made Emery's birthday so special! We love you all dearly! Here's to the toddler two's and all of the adventures this year will bring!
Usually when people use the term "elope" they're talking about running away to be married, and although Kyle and I are now almost five years past that point, we did decide a day and a half before we left that it'd be fun to take a quick road trip together to do some exploring. So in the true spirit of elopement, we packed up our car with a suitcase and Emery and took off like the young lovers do to literally one of the most "wonder"-ful places in the world - Niagara Falls!
Niagara Falls is without a doubt one of those types of places where pictures do not do it justice at all, and I think it's because one of the things that made seeing The Falls so incredible was the fact that when you're right there in front of them you're doing so much more than just looking. At any point while we were close to the waterfalls, you could see, hear, smell, and even feel the mist from the falling water on your face, and that combination of senses made it so easy to see why this place is considered one of the great wonders of the world.
One thing that surprised me about Niagara Falls was that outside of the actual waterfall area, the National Park itself is fairly small. Being from Utah, I think when I heard the term "national park" I was expecting something along the size of the Grand Canyon, and totally overpacked us with hiking gear and supplies for the experience. It turned out that Niagara Falls State Park is actually more of a little city (they even have their own downtown area right outside the park), the entire park is sidewalk paved, and with the exception of one hike that ended up being closed when we were visiting (Cave of the Winds I think?), you can take a stroller or wheelchair literally anywhere in the park without any problem. It ended up being the perfect spot to take a super high energy toddler, and honestly felt like a family stroll through a regular park with the exception of the incredible waterfalls right next to us for enjoying the entire time.
Kyle and I agreed that our favorite part of the Niagara Falls experience was the "Maid of the Mist" boat tour. It's a little pricey (about $20 a person - kids under 5 are free though) but was SO worth it for the experience of getting that close to the falls, and actual entry into the state park is free so we figured if there was an activity to splurge on that this would be it. Kyle snapped a picture of one of the boat tours before ours (above) to try and show how close the boat takes you up to the falls, and once we were actually down on the boat it took us even closer than we'd originally thought, easily making this the highlight of our trip!
Every time our family takes one of these last minute trips together, it always goes down in the books as an experience to remember. More than anything I love the memories that we're all making together, and doing it in neat places like this is just sprinkles on top of the cake. It was really weird thinking that this last May break will literally be the last one that we'll have in our dental school journey, and sending off this last graduating class has me feeling incredibly nostalgic. We've got one more year of dental school before we're officially through with the "student life", and intend to enjoy it to it's fullest extent before moving on to our next adventure!
In my 28 years of living and 24(ish?) years of living as a sort of "student", up until this year I'd never experienced a spring break vacation. Between work schedules, being overly pregnant with Em, and Kyle's heavy school loads these past few years, spring break always felt more as a week to catch up on to-do's and chores instead of a chance to escape real life for a week and explore. Now that we're FINALLY on the downhill with Kyle's schooling, we felt like this was the year that we needed to get out and have the Spring Break that we've always talked about. We didn't really have anywhere specific that we wanted to visit, but both thought that it would be fun to go somewhere that we'd never been before, and because Kentucky has been really late with any actual Spring type of weather, we wanted to go somewhere warm. The week of Kyle's break also happened to be the exact same week that the entire east coast got hit with a HUGE cold snap/winter weather, so we looked at a map, booked an Airbnb, and drove literally as far south as we could until we couldn't anymore, finding ourselves in Mobile, Alabama!
If I'm being honest, Alabama had never really been on our radar for places to visit, but after making the trip we were so glad that we decided to take a chance on it! An old friend of mine that had lived there for a few years was able to give us a ton of great suggestions as to what to see and do, and we found once we were there that we were able to find activities that fit all of our different interests and see some really neat things! To satisfy Kyle's enthusiasm for U.S. history we went to see the USS Alabama. For those like me that need a quick lesson as to why this is a good place to visit, the USS Alabama is a gigantic battleship that was used in WWII, and is one of Mobile's biggest spots for tourists. We had the chance to actually go onto and inside of the ship, and it was absolutely crazy to walk around the ship and see how the soldiers lived while on it! Inside of the ship they even had a few of the United States flags that were on the ship during some of the influential battles, and it was a humbling experience to see and experience something that was such a big part of our nations (and the world's) history.
In an effort to soak up as much of a Spring feel as possible from our trip, we also made a stop at the Bellingrath Gardens & Home. These gardens basically consisted of over 65 acres and about a 2 mile walk through constant gorgeous greenery and flowers. They had a rose garden, a conservatory, a bayou boardwalk, Asian-American gardens, and tons of gorgeous fountains and other breathtaking landscaping throughout the entire walk. Kyle and I agreed that the entire walk really just felt good for the soul, and Emery had a blast running throughout the trail looking at and trying to touch alllllll of the "fow-ers". 😉
While in Mobile, we knew that we were going to be close to the ocean, but what we didn't realize was that the ocean we were closest to happened to be one of the MOST gorgeous perfect beaches and oceans that we'd ever seen before in our lives. We spent an entire day in Pensacola, Florida on the beach (it was only about an hour drive from our bnb) with some dental school friends that were also spring breaking down south and now I'm convinced that Florida beaches will be somewhere that we regularly take our family to vacation. The beach was nowhere near to being crowded so there was plenty of space for Em and her friends to run around and play, the water was blue and not too cold, the sand was white and sooo soft, and there was a perfect breeze all day that kept us from getting too hot, and made all of our clothes from that day smell like the ocean. There was also a darling little boardwalk filled with seafood restaurants that we stopped to eat at, and even though I can't personally speak to the seafood, everyone that tried it definitely approved! Kyle and I also realized that by visiting this specific area, we've now seen/been in all of the great bodies of water surrounding the states (Atlantic, Pacific, Great Lakes, and the Gulf) so that was a neat thing to experience as well!
This was our first family vacation with Emery as a fully mobile toddler (in South Carolina she'd barely learned how to walk a week before we'd gone) and I knew that she'd want to walk EVERYWHERE that we went, so before we left I did something that I swore I'd never do as a parent and bought her a little toddler backpack with a safety strap in the front and a leash in the back. Seriously the best. decision. EVER. With the exception of the beach Emery had that backpack on her everywhere that we went, and it gave me such a huge peace of mind knowing that she could walk and feel free to explore but would also always be literally within my reach. She also loved having her own backpack like "mommy's", and would carry her water bottle and snacks in it while we were out and about, clearing up a little more space in my diaper bag for other things. If there was one learning experience from this trip, it was to never judge an item until I've actually had a chance to use it, because that backpack is now one of my favorite baby items that we own and will definitely be joining us on future zoo days, trips, and flights!
(side note: this isn't sponsored and I paid for the backpack with my own money, but I had quite a few ask which specific backpack we got for Em so you could get one for your little - her's is the Skip Hop Zoo Little Kid & Toddler Safety Harness Backpack in Otis Owl. For the sake of free one-day shipping I got Em's off of Amazon, but Target & SkipHop carry them online as well)
This trip was SUCH a hard one to come home after, partially because we came home to several inches of snow (which literally never happens in Kentucky, especially in March 🙄) but also because it was such a great opportunity for the three of us to escape all the craziness of dental school life and just focus solely on each other. From watching Emery explore, talking with Kyle during the car rides, eating too much ice cream, seeing new sights and everything in between, I found myself going to bed each night just feeling so much gratitude and love for Kyle and Emery and the memories that we were making together. Visiting new places is always enjoyable, but doing it with my two favorite people makes for the greatest of adventures.
I've always been more of the sentimental/nostalgic type, and becoming a parent has magnified those specific traits of mine tenfold. Emery hit her 18 month mark on Christmas Day a few weeks ago, and it made me a little sad realizing that she's now fully into her toddler stage of life, and that this is the last "monthly" age mark that I'd be able to document without sounding like too much of a weirdo. So before time slips away from me anymore, I'm going to take a second to slow down and reflect on my sweet baby girl and all that she's currently doing. 💕
weight & height: 25 pounds and 33.3 inches long. She's in the 75th percentile for her weight and the 88th percentile for her height, and her doctor figures that as she grows she'll probably end up being long and lean like her parents.
current vocabulary: mama - dada - Chelsea - please (vocally + the sign for "more") - thank you (vocally + signed) - hi - bye - see you - peek a boo - breakfast - banana - blueberry - yes - no - mine - sorry - show - book - bath - dog - baby - all done (vocally + signed) - high five - bow - wow - yum - yay - again - uh oh - milk - water (vocally + signed) - bite - happy - beep - love you. ❤️ If we're remembering everything then she currently knows how to say over 30 words on her own without prompting/in the correct context, and will also say a few others (mainly colors and people's names) with prompting.
family & relationships: Emery absolutely adores Kyle and will ask for "Dada" several times a day while he's away at school, but is also my little shadow, rarely ever being found far from my side. She has also taken to calling me "Chelsea", despite all of my best efforts to get her to call me "Mama" again. 🙄 She's rarely shy and loves pretty much everyone, especially her grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and her dental school baby/toddler friends.
energy levels: Kyle & I are convinced that Emery has somehow inherited the energy of about 16 fully grown adults, and unless she's sleeping, will spend almost all of her time, running, jumping, dancing, climbing, and trying to get into everything that she shouldn't. She doesn't love taking long naps and we're lucky if she sleeps for longer than an hour and a half most days, but she gets a solid 13 hours of sleep at night so we count our blessings and don't complain.
favorite foods to eat: Breakfast is usually Emery's favorite meal (buttermilk waffles, milk, and a banana/blueberries), but she also loves most fruits, yogurts, cheeses, and any type of cracker/graham. She's not a super picky eater, but refuses to eat raw vegetables, and will take mac & cheese over anything else if it's being offered. She's also a huge fan of peanut m&m's, and if I ever grab myself some as a snack you better believe I'll be expected to share.
favorite things to do: Aside from taking apart everything in our apartment, Emery LOVES playing pretend and is under the impression that she's a fully grown adult about 60 percent of the time. She loves playing with her kitchen and cooking food, trying to get herself dressed, talking on the phone, taking pictures, shopping (grabbing her purse and walking around the house opening and closing doors while saying "bye" to everyone), and brushing her own teeth. She also loves getting out of the house to either go outside or at least go somewhere new, and will usually cry if someone leaves for somewhere without taking her with them, even if they're leaving to their own house. 😆 She loves reading books and taking baths, and is EXTREMELY affectionate, giving hugs and kisses to everyone and everything as often as she can.
mom & dad's favorite part of this stage: Kyle loves that Emery is in a constant state of learning and that she's at a point now where if we try to teach her a new skill, she'll catch onto it fairly quickly and work it into her everyday routine. He'll always be first to jump to the task of teaching her something new, and loves whenever she does something that he considers "adultish". I love that we're currently at a point where I feel like I'm getting the perks of a sweet little baby that loves to cuddle and give kisses, and a sweet spunky toddler that finds no greater joy than following me around and keeping me company every day. Although there are days with plenty of sass and tantrums, more often than not Em is filled with so much enthusiasm and excitement for the life around her and it's contagious. I love how quickly and readily she loves, and I hope she never loses her incredible spunk for life. We sure do love this crazy, sweet girl!
I'm Chelsea. I'm a wife, mommy, photographer, and lover of life's little adventures. Join me here to celebrate the beautiful things in people and life.