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.
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.
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!
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:
dress + tights: baby gap | bow: little poppy co. | teddy bear: build a bear workshop
Christmas is without a doubt my favorite holiday, and with December officially being upon us I'm SO excited because it means that I can now more fully dive in to all of the festivities without the "less spirited" (cough, cough Kyle) getting on my case about starting Christmas too early. 😉 December is also one of my busiest times of the year with holiday preparations, and as much as I hate to admit it, I am that person that wants everything about my Christmas to be picture perfect. I want the pretty tree with the matching wrapped gifts, the cute holiday pictures, the Pinterest worthy Christmas cookies, the clean untouched snow on Christmas morning.... you get the picture. Last year I remember making a goal to avoid any unnecessary "holi-drama", and as much as I'd love to say that I only had to learn that lesson once, as the holiday prep started up this year I found myself getting flustered when I realized that having an able bodied toddler makes for a LOT more messes and crazy than I'd originally planned for in my ideal Christmas imagination. As we were putting up our Christmas tree this year, Emery was having the time of her life throwing all of the "balls" around the house, and although her enthusiasm was adorable to watch it definitely threw a wrench into my usual methodical tree decorating process. It was at that moment however that I realized that I had a choice. I could choose to get frustrated with Emery and the situation, or I could choose to laugh and embrace her sweet enthusiasm, and congratulate myself for thinking ahead of time five years back when I bought plastic ornaments instead of glass. 😜 This Christmas season I'll still be busy, but this year I want to work to make it a different, better type of busy. The more time goes by, I realize that the true joy of the holidays is found more in the people that we spend them with instead of everything else on the outside. We'll still keep plenty busy with all of the traditional Christmas activities, but this year I'm choosing to keep my focus much more on the family togetherness of the activities and much less on the prettiness of them. My family is my greatest gift, so this Christmas, I'm going to embrace them for everything that they are, toddler messes, tantrums, tree destroying tendencies and all, and hope to have it be one of our best, busiest Christmas's yet, spent with those we love the most. ❤️🎄
I hope that everyone has had a happy start to your holiday season!
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.