It's the night before Em's third birthday and I'm once again sitting here now that she's in bed feeling allllll the nostalgia and mama feelings and wondering why time has to be such a thief when it comes to my kids staying little. Emery has had to go through so many big life changes this past year with our family and as an individual, and has grown through all of them with so much grace into such a beautiful, loving girl that I'm so grateful and proud to call my daughter.
As Emery's birthday came closer, I found myself having to fight off anxiety and a bit of homesickness about us no longer living in Louisville. The past two years we've had so much fun celebrating her birthday with all of her dental school toddler/baby friends, and with how much of a social bug Em is I was worried about her feeling let down about not being able to celebrate her birthday with all of her friends. Thankfully though we're (still) in Utah with family before Kyle starts working up in Oregon, and have a group of the cutest cousins and loving family close by that we were able to celebrate with instead. Emery loves her cousins so much, and I'm so grateful that they all get along well and are always able to make for a fun playdate.
I told myself when Em was a baby that I was going to always try and throw her parties around her favorite things for that year, but to be completely honest was a little surprised when I realized that her favorite thing this year happened to be focused around a TV show. Em didn't really have any screen time until she was close to two years old, and even then watched it very rarely (we're talking maybe one 30 minute show a couple times a week), but towards the end of my pregnancy with Ashton, fatigue and sickness got the best of me and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood helped to get me and Em through the harder parts of it. Emery fell in love with the show, and since then has made it a habit of singing the different songs from the show whenever she feels like they apply, turns every toy car into a trolley, regularly asks for the trolley song while driving in the car (we're going on a trolley ride, to go to Target, won't you ride along with me... ride along! 😂) and gets insanely excited every time she finds what she affectionately calls "a trolley penny" because she thinks that the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the penny is Daniel Tiger's Trolley. Kyle and I both grew up on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and the songs and rhymes have proven useful to help coach Em through so many different situations that if she had to attach herself to a show, we figured that this was a pretty good one, and I set to work to try and throw Em the best trolley/Daniel Tiger party that I could put together. I found a book filled with illustrated versions of Mr. Roger's songs and poems, as well as a darling little trolley toy on Amazon, the cutest little trolley cake topper and garland from shop fluff on Etsy, then filled in the rest with color coordinating decor from Target and of course yummy treats & a cake from a local bakery for everyone to enjoy. I bought several bubble wands from Target as well and slapped some homemade trolley labels on them, and after cake and presents all of the kids young and old got to have fun running around my parents' yard playing with the bubbles. Overall it was a pretty simple, minimal family birthday party, but at the end of the day Em loved it all and had so much fun, making it all 100% worth it.
As far as an update goes for our busy little three-year old, if I could use one word to describe her it would be ENERGETIC. She goes off of way less sleep than I feel like any toddler should because she is so worried about missing out on any fun, and loves being able to spend as much time as possible with her friends and cousins. Along with Daniel Tiger's Trolley she also loves dancing, singing, building towers out of blocks, swimming, playing outside with her soccer ball or on the playground, and being my little helper in everything from cleaning to cooking/baking to taking care of Ashton. She LOVES being a big sister to Ashton and we always have to watch the two of them closely because her affection for him can sometimes be a little overwhelming haha. She is fiercely independent which can sometimes be infuriating but also makes me silently proud because I just know that she will do so well with whatever she sets her mind to. We finally tackled potty training, and I can 100% say that after going through it twice with her am a huge advocate of waiting until a kiddo is older and truly ready to be a big kid with the potty - once she decided she was ready she literally caught on within a day and a half and has done really well with it since! She is creative and caring, and amazes me everyday with how intuitive she is, especially with the emotions of those around her. She can be so wild and crazy and exhausting, but loves SO big and has such a pure, kind soul. I see her and everyday feel so much gratitude because I know that when she came into this earth on that Saturday morning three years ago, that she was exactly the burst of sunshine that Kyle and I needed in our family. She has grown and learned so much, and even though I want to keep her little forever, I can't help but admit that I so much love watching her bloom into her own person and can't wait to see how her own personal creation continues.
Happy Birthday to our sweet Emery girl, we love you more than you'll ever know!!
A big thanks to my sweet family for letting us take over their house (for the last month+ but also for the party) and especially to my sweet mom for helping me put it all together, and then of course thanks so much to all of our family and friends near and far that help our Emery girl feel special and loved every day! Also, because I know no one will notice unless I point it out (probably because I'm the only weirdo that cares about these details) as one last ode to Daniel Tiger for the party, I had the four of us dress in the same colors as the main characters in the show: blue for O the Owl, green for Katerina Kitty Cat, white button-up for our little Prince Wednesday (we didn't have any purple), and of course red for our sweet Daniel Tiger.
Happy Halloween to all of our friends and family from your local beekeeper, beehive, and of course the cutest little bumblebee!! We hope that everyone has a fun holiday with plenty of fun tricks and especially treats!! We've been celebrating all month long and trying to soak in as many of our favorite Halloween Kentucky traditions including but not limited to visiting our favorite apple orchards and pumpkin patches, reading fun Halloween books, painting pumpkins (this was our first year bringing back this tradition since Em's been born and it was a BLAST!), going to Boo-at-the-Zoo, trick-or-treating in on of our favorite neighborhoods (a day early due to rain on the actual day), eating way more candy than we normally would, and tonight we're beating the crummy weather at an annual Halloween party with a few of our closer KY friends! Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays and it's been so much fun watching Emery grown and join in all of the excitement and celebrations with us! Her enthusiasm for the holiday just makes everything that we do to celebrate it that much more fun!!
This year was the first year that I haven't fully DIY-ed our family costumes, but it certainly wasn't by lack of trying. My mom dressed me up as a bumblebee one year for Halloween and I thought it'd be so fun and cute to have Em recreate the costume, but what I didn't account for was the fact that my mother has incredible sewing skills that I did NOT inherit.... after buying all of the fabric and supplies to make a suitable bumblebee, borrowing a sewing machine from a girlfriend (the fact that I had to borrow a machine should've been a giveaway to me that I was biting off more than I could chew but whatever) and spending a good few hours longer than I should have trying to sew some black stripes onto yellow fabric, I had created something that looked fairly cute BUT was only big enough to fit on your standard American Girl sized doll. I desperately/stubbornly tried squeezing Em into it to see if I could make it work and ended up with an upset toddler and a ruined attempt at a costume. Luckily I was able to find this adorable Pottery Barn Kids costume within a day of my original failure (gently used on Poshmark for an AMAZING deal), and it made up for my ridiculous attempt at self-taught sewing. Emery has LOVED wearing her bumblebee costume to our Halloween festivities, and since this costume is both warmer and cuter than what I'd originally hoped to create, I'm looking back at this as an "all's well that ends well" memory, and kept the details for mine and Kyle's costumes strictly no-sew and simple as possible for the sake of my own sanity. 😜
(a few more pictures of our little bumblebee because she's definitely the cutest in our party)
and.... That sums up our annual Halloween greeting! Normally I'd love to get into all the details about the rest of the DIY aspects of our costumes with you all, but pregnancy brain has already made this holiday month fly by way faster than I'd prefer, and I want to spend what's left of our Halloween fun feeling present in the moment with my favorite little bee-lovin' family.
We hope that everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!
Love - Kyle, Chelsea, Emery & Baby Boy Pett
The Reason for the Season: Teaching My Toddler How to Keep "Christ" in Christmas. (12 Days of Nativity With Free Printables)
Growing up as a child, my mom always had a very strong dislike for the term "X-Mas". She always said that the slang took the most important part out of the word, and helped the real focus of Christmas to get lost in the process. Her opinions on the matter spread to her children (or at least her oldest 😉 ), and with Emery being old enough this Christmas to actually understand more of what is going on, I wanted to make sure that I did everything that I could to teach her about the original Christmas story and the reason for the season.
As a way to start trying to teach Emery about the Christmas story, I found her this adorable wooden nativity set and got her a book that goes through a few of the basic nativity characters in rhyme, but I still felt like I needed something more to try and balance out the plethora of traditional Christmas activities that I knew we'd also be doing throughout the month. While talking with a girlfriend I got the idea to do a 12 Days of Christmas focused specifically around the Nativity. I loved the idea, but surprisingly had a really hard time finding anything on the internet that had what I felt like was the "full package" and was age appropriate for Emery. I knew that I wanted activities for each day for her to do as opposed to the traditional 12 gifts that is sometimes done, but also wanted to be able to focus on an individual person/part of the nativity on each of the 12 days. After a good amount of researching, I finally decided on a combination of resources found on the internet and a bit of my own creative juices to create a packet for Emery that I was happy with, so I thought I'd share it for anyone else that has toddler/pre-school aged kiddos and hopefully save you all a few hours of internet stress. 😉
For the activities, I was able to find an ADORABLE packet from Lovely Commotion on Teachers Pay Teachers that was filled with several play-based, tot/pre-school aged appropriate activities with all of the supplies and resources needed. I knew there was no way I was going to find or make anything better than what was in this packet, so I downloaded it and then took it on a flash drive to my local Office Max to get the activity pages printed in color on card stock. I don't have permissions to share the actual packet since the license I purchased is for personal use, but the cost to download the packet is only $6, and then I spent less than that to get everything printed (if you have a color printer than you don't even need to worry about that). The instructions in the packet are focused much more for teachers with classrooms of children, but once I had access to all the activities, I was able to fill in the rest myself to make it work for my 12 day project. To focus on the individual parts of the Nativity, I created these 12 individual cards to go into different envelopes with a specific activity from the purchased packet. Each card has a short rhyme talking about it's person/part in the Nativity and a relevant bible verse to reference. I can't take credit for the rhymes but couldn't find anywhere who to give credit to either so apologies for that, but I hand drew in all of the characters to match the packet to make it more fun for Emery and all of you, and then after a bit of cutting everything out, coloring in the cards, and separating it all into envelopes the packet was complete! We're going to start our 12 Day Nativity adventure on the fourteenth, and I'm so excited to be able to do the activities with Emery and hopefully give her the same appreciation that I do for the Christmas story.
If you'd like to put together your own 12 Day Nativity packet in time for the 14th, then all you'll need to do is pay for/download the activities from Lovely Commotion, and then print off these FREE-12 Days of Nativity cards that I put together for you, as well as a lesson plan that I put together showing the order that we're planning to use the cards, as well as the activity that we're planning to play that day and instructions on how to play. For anyone not wanting to pay for the actual packet of activities, feel free to still download and print my FREE Nativity cards, and have fun each day leading up to Christmas reading the rhyme and scripture for the day, and matching up the cards to your own nativity set at home! I hope that anyone who decides to join us in on these activities is able to have a fun time with them! We're still technically in our first week of December and although Emery already knows how to say "Santa", she will also say "baby" and point at the baby Jesus every time she sees one in a nativity or in her book. I LOVE all of the traditional Christmas celebrations and know that our holiday season will be filled with plenty of them, but hope that this will help to keep that dreaded "X" out of Christmas, and help us remember in the business of the holiday what Christmas is all about. ❤️
To download everything you'll need for your own 12 Days of Nativity:
I LOVE Thanksgiving and everything that it includes, but would be lying if I didn't admit that the idea of cooking a big Thanksgiving turkey and feast intimidates me to an extreme level. I can't even pick up a turkey at the grocery store without the vegetarian in me getting grossed out, but lucky for me we've had amazing friends to do a "Friends-giving" dinner with every year that we've been away from family, so for now I've been able to avoid the daunting turkey task. 😉 This year I got assigned to the table settings for our Thanksgiving feast, and was SO excited to have a November project to work on that didn't involve cooking for a huge group of people. Since dental school is still putting us at a "poor college student" level, I also had the challenge of making things look nice on a small budget. I ultimately decided to do a combination of actual dinnerware, some disposable items, and of course a little creative DIY touch to create something that will hopefully look really nice once all put together with everyone else's delicious cooking. 🙂 These cute little utensil holders are SO easy, quick, and inexpensive to make, and the best part about them is that they can be completely personalized to fit your own dinner table by printing them on different colored card stock, or even by adding extra ribbon, burlap, glitter, etc to fit your preference. As always, have fun with it and happy DIY-ing!
DIY: Thanksgiving utensil holders
skill level: easy | total cost: FREE! (or $5 max on paper) | Total Time: 30 min
Happy Halloween to all of our friends and family from your Waldo, Wenda, and Woof crew! We love to travel and take adventures together wherever and whenever we can, but have found over the last year that our biggest adventures have taken place close to home, watching our sweet little Emery (or Woof) run, grow, laugh, play, and enjoy toddler life to it's fullest extent. Emery has been loving all of the Halloween celebrations this year, and I've had SO much fun experiencing everything with her! So far to celebrate we've: gone to Boo at the Zoo, learned that Emery LOVES trick or treating and candy, threw a Halloween party for our dental school mom & baby friends, read Halloween books, went pumpkin picking, and had a fun family Halloween party with a few of our closer dental school friends. We (mostly I) also had absolutely no self-control when it came to picking just one costume for Emery this year, and in addition to our family Waldo get-up, also have dressed her up as Minnie Mouse and a black cat.
Kyle was the one to make the final call on our family costume this year, and I was pretty excited about his decision. I'd secretly wanted us to dress up as Waldo & Wenda for years before Emery came along, but making it a family costume with Emery too made it better than I think it ever could've been with just the two of us! These costumes were also ridiculously easy to put together since the main items to find where red & white striped shirts. The rest of the items were a combination of items we already had in our closets/some DIY work (My glasses are literally just my prescription glasses that I wear every day) and Amazon for a few other items to complete the look! Keeping the costumes simple helped to keep my stress levels low so that I could more fully enjoy the celebrations, and give more time and energy to Em's other two costumes. 😜 For any that read more for the creative/how-to aspect of this blog, here are the details for our costumes and where everything came from:
Kyle || beanie: originally from Amazon for last year's costume, with a white DIY yarn pom-pom sewn on top | shirt: Aeropostale (thrifted, because apparently rugby shirts have been "out" for about a decade 😆 ) | glasses: Target? We've had these ones for years as costume glasses but most stores carry something similar. walking stick: Amazon. We also tied a bunch of random items to the straps of Kyle's backpack for all the places that "Waldo" has visited.
Chelsea || beanie & shirt: Gap | skirt: j.crew (thrifted) | purse: thrifted | socks: Amazon | scarf: Hobby Lobby | Boots: Nordstrom Rack. My favorite part of my costume this year was my red lipstick. I've made the mistake of wearing red lips on Halloween before and having them look absolutely wretched by the end of the night with fading/bleeding, so this year I was prepared and wore "Fly Girl" Lipsense and it worked like a charm! I don't sell it and this isn't sponsored, I'm just seriously obsessed with red lips and love that I have a way to wear them ALL day!
Emery || beanie: Amazon | onesie: Walmart | socks: Two Dreams Shop | moccs: Freshly Picked | glasses: completely DIY-ed and SO easy to make! All I did was pop the lenses out of an old pair of her sunglasses, then gave them a couple of coats of black acrylic paint and that's it! Also, the white jacket wasn't originally supposed to be a part of her costume, but Kentucky got hit with a crazy cold spell this past weekend and her onesie is short sleeved so...... jacket it is!
I know that actual Halloween is still a couple of days away, but the older Emery gets the more I find that living in the moment is absolutely necessary to be able to fully experience and appreciate it, and I don't want to miss a single one of these memories with my sweet little family. We'll be spending our end of October at a Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular to make up for us not carving any pumpkins, and then taking our sweet little Woof/Minnie/Black Cat (depending on what she most feels like that day 😜 ) trick-or-treating in our favorite neighborhood with friends. I'm so excited for the celebrations ahead and the time we'll have together as a family!
We hope that everyone has a fun and safe Halloween night with those you love most!
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.