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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Letters to Emmy : Eight Months

July 12 to August 12, 2014
Dear Emmeline,

Oh, dear. Second child syndrome is catching up to me and I completely forgot about this letter. Actually, I can’t even blame that because I’m pretty sure I forgot at least one letter to your big sister as well. At least I got it in before you turned nine months? Can I get credit for that? Or is dad your favorite now? (Just kidding, I know it’s me. I have the milk.)

It could also be lack of sleep catching up with me, because kid, you’re killing me in that regard. I’ll give the positives first: you do sleep. When you’re asleep, you usually transfer to your crib pretty easily. It’s usually easy to get you to sleep. But but but. You’re still waking up four, five times a night. Maybe ten. Maybe a hundred. I don’t know, they all blend together. But it’s a lot. I have tried giving you a few minutes to settle yourself back down, but you don’t settle. You scream. Very loudly. A scream-cry. One that actually makes you hoarse. Usually, once I come in, I can get you back to sleep fairly quickly, which is good. However, since you're in your crib now, it means I'm actually fully waking up each time I come into your room. Last night, I’m pretty sure it was every hour. When you were sleeping in bed with us, it was easy since I didn’t really have to wake up and could just feed you half-asleep. However, now that you’ve discovered the joy of spreading out in your own bed, you won't sleep in our bed and will toss and turn and whimper until I put you in your crib. Needless to say, I'm exhausted.  

Why won't you do this all night?!?!?!?!?

At least you’re cute. 

Like REALLY cute.

And at least you’re happy. 

Like REALLY happy.




Seriously, you are always smiling. Even in the middle of the night, when you are crying, as soon as I come to get you, you flash a giant grin at me. Anyone who looks at you is rewarded with a smile that just lights up the entire world. It’s unbelievable, that smile. It melts me into a pool of sappy goo every time. I'm so lucky to be a regular recipient of that gummy smile.

I thought for sure that we’d test the boundaries of your happy demeanor with a plane ride and a six plus hour drive, but nope. You smiled through it all. You completely charmed the socks off of the people both in front and back of us during the flight, and the lady in front of us begged to hold you. (Of course I said yes.) I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that as I was carrying you through the airport, we received constant compliments on how cute and happy you were. At least two dozen people stopped me or said something about you. I kind of never wanted to leave the airport, because getting non-stop affirmation about your kid is kind of amazing.

The progression of your face from happy to unsure to downright freaked the eff 
out as the engines came on makes me laugh every single time.

You’re the bounciest baby ever. You love to bounce. You bounce in your jumper, you bounce while standing on my knees and holding my hands, you bounce while hanging onto the edge of the couch. Maybe I’ll scrap my current Halloween costume idea and make you a kangaroo instead.

You pull yourself up to a stand pretty much the second your feet touch the ground when we put you on the floor, and you’re even cruising furniture now. I glance away and you’ve maneuvered from one end of the living room to the other without crawling in about three seconds flat. Your favorite thing to pull up on remains: me. As soon as I’m accessible, you are on me like butter on bread. Your hands grab my hair and your slobbery mouth goes to my nose and you’re good. Pulling my hair and chewing my nose; two of your favorite pastimes.

Between army crawling and “real” crawling, you spent about two weeks doing this knee-scoot crawling that I tried so hard to get video of but never did. You’d do a regular crawl with one leg, with your knee on the floor and your calf out behind you, but the other leg would be bent in front of you at a 90 degree angle. But now you can crawl with the best of them. And the fastest of them. Seriously, you can keep up with me when I walk down a hall. I leave you in the living room to put some clothes away, turn around, and you’re right there behind me.

You finally decided that you love to eat, (still no teeth, though) and you’ll eat anything I put in front of you. Also anything that I didn’t put in front of you but that you happened to find on the floor. I could make you a feast fit for a baby queen and you’d eschew it in favor of some minuscule scrap of paper that you spotted across the house. I am CONSTANTLY taking non-edible things out of your mouth. A doll shoe (Carys!!). A receipt. A nickel. A stray piece of confetti from Carys’s birthday. And paper. Especially paper. Oh, my god, the paper. Carys never went through this phase, so it’s totally foreign territory to me and I’m genuinely astounded every time I pull a piece of carpet fuzz out of your mouth. “What? Where did this come from?? Why are you eating it?! When did you get it?!?!?” You're particularly fond of my wallet. I'm sure the toxins are minimal.

This is not food, baby.

You've decided you absolutely love water, much like your sister. I don't know how much of that is just from starting swim classes so early, but if you see water, you immediately want to be in it. (Ok, this is probably all babies.) You love baths, you love swim class, and you love splashing. If I say, "Kick kick kick!" you'll kick your little legs like a madwoman.  Of course, you also love eating the sand. Sigh. Can babies have pica?

One of the adventures we had this month was going on a bike ride - your first! I've had a double bike trailer since I was pregannt with Carys and have been looking forward to using it for years. Literally. Technically you're supposed to be one before riding, but since you'll be one in the dead of winter, I wanted to get at least one ride in this summer. You fought the helmet, of course (you'll leave on headbands, but pull hats right the heck off), but I figured I'd get started and hoped that maybe the changing scenery would distract you from the helmet. You stopped fussing so quickly after I started pedaling that I was worried somehow the helmet had cut off your airway and you'd passed out, so I immediately pulled over to check you, and you'd passed out alright - passed out asleep. (Note to self...take the baby for 3am bike rides?!?!)

(I assure you your sister was happy to be going - she was mad we were taking so long to get started.)

Your Nana and your Aunt Kimberly both left us in August to go back to their respective homes and that's about all I can say about that without crying. It seriously, seriously breaks my heart that you won't grow up with either of them being a daily presence in your life. 

Your hair isn’t as white-blonde as it was for a little while there; it’s darkened into a golden-blonde. Darker than it was, but much, much lighter than Carys’s ever has been. Your eyes are still blue. People like commenting on how blue they are and how surely they’ll stay this blue, but your sister’s eyes were equally blue at this age and have settled on a pretty gray-hazel. So I don’t know if yours will stay or if they’ll change – though with the lighter hair it wouldn’t surprise me greatly if they stayed. I would be surprised that brown-haired, brown-eyed me could have two kids with light eyes, but science. Genes. Genetics. Etc. At least you both got my dimples.

You haven’t lost a bit of the delightful baby chub and I’m cherishing every minute you have it, because I know when you start walking it will vanish quickly. I love letting you crawl around in just a diaper so I can scoop you up at any moment and snack on those rolls of yours. They’re seriously the greatest.

Ah, Emmeline, you’re so quickly growing up, and you’re going to transform from an infant to a toddler before I know it. I want to soak up these baby days as much as I can. Why do I always write these letters when you aren’t available to cuddle?? You’re always either sleeping or at daycare, and they always make me want to scoop you up and love on you for days on end, and then I get sad that I can’t immediately fulfill that desire.

I love you so much, munchkin. Even in the middle of the night. At 3 am. When you’re awake for the fourth time.

That’s a lotta love, babycakes.


P.S. Go to sleep.

P.P.S. I mean it.

P.P.P.S. I love you anyway.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Travels and Tribulations

We are in the throes of vacation madness at the moment, so life has been rather hectic on the homefront. And off the homefront. In the 37 days between the beginning of August and mid-next month, we'll have been traveling for 18 of them.

Chris, Emmeline, and I went to Las Vegas earlier this month so Chris could attend a conference. I have family there, so I tagged along, and brought Emmeline so I wouldn't have to worry about pumping or transporting milk. Carys stayed with my parents, much to their mutual delight. Less than week later we left for St. Louis to attend Chris's family reunion (um, have you guys been to City Museum? IT IS INSANE. How is that even a thing? An amazing thing.). Next month we are going to Hilton Head, home of fantastic golfing (for Chris) and family to visit (for me) and beaches and palm trees and all those things Nebraska doesn't have. I cannot wait to take Carys to the beach for the first time.  I'm placing a heap of expectations on that moment. There's no possible way that could go wrong.

Las Vegas was a constant whirlwind of activity - I didn't even get a chance to walk the strip (um....not that way) or even go to the strip at all, except for dinner one night at the Cosmopolitan. Which was fine - this was my tenth time (ish?) in Vegas, so I've seen most of it multiple times.  Although we kept busy, I of course missed Carys. I was happy she was getting lavished with attention back at home, but I kept thinking, "Ah, I wish Carys was here to do/see/taste this!"

While she didn't cry at all on the flight, she was completely freaked out by the noise and vibration.

Borrowed a friend's conference badge to walk around the conference floor a little bit.

Can you see the zipline seat in the middle of the picture? I did that. 

Visiting with my cousins, who live in L.A.  Emmeline loved them. I say "them" to spare feelings but we all know it was really just him. We actually were able to spend the entire day together, but we were having so much fun I have almost no pictures of anything we did. Super bummer, dude. 

Um, sorry about that picture above. But I saw it, so YOU HAVE TO ALSO.

The next few are from our visit to Valley of Fire State Park, an incredible site with petroglyphs that are thousands of years old.

Spot the lizard.

Our flight home was delayed by three hours. I might have cried. I was really in the "getting ready to see Carys" again zone and was so sad that it was going to have to wait a day (since the delay put us in Omaha at around 3am).

While all that was going on, my mom was sending me pictures of Carys (and making me miss her a ton).  She promises Carys was having fun, she just wanted to put her head down for the second picture.

It was much needed on many fronts. Carys had been screaming for attention (sometimes literally) and I've been hard-pressed to be able to provide the one-on-one time that she desperately needed. We're sorely lacking for sitters around here, and Chris works late most days, so he's not usually able to help a lot in that regard.  Being showered with attention for five days was exactly what she needed. I wish it could have been from me and Chris, but my mom - her beloved Nana - is definitely next best. And I got a chance to have more individual time with Emmeline than she's had in her entire eight months of life. They both thrived under the circumstances, and returned to family life refreshed. And seeing Carys rush up to Emmeline and Emmeline's face light up when we went to pick Carys up...well, those smiles and giggles are what sisterhood is all about.

The family vacation was fun, too (can you say Epic Family Scavenger Hunt? THAT WE WON?), and both girls were given more love and attention than they could possibly ever need. It was their first time meeting many members of Chris's family and they acted appropriately charming and wonderful and made Chris and I look good. Which is all that matters in parenting. What other people think of your kids.  (/sarcasm)

Settling in for the long drive there. Three adults and two kids in carseats in a five-seater car. DO NOT RECOMMEND. I actually had a bruise on my hip from the car seat pushing into me the whole time. Sad face.

The amazing VRBO rental house we stayed at. It was perfect. It was actually about an hour outside of St. Louis in a private, gated community on a lake, and easily accommodated our entire group.

We divided the attendees up into groups for games and the scavenger hunt, and 
each group was also assigned a meal to prepare and cleaned up after a different meal.

 The previously mentioned City Museum. This shit is bananas.

A few of our scavenger hunt entries. Did I mention we won?!?!

There was cheesecake left over the morning we left. So obviously we had to eat it for breakfast.

One last glance at our weekend house.

She slept SO long on the way home. The weekend exhausted her.

Emmeline did wonderfully on the flight to Vegas, even with a three plus hour delay, and they both did wonderfully on the 8-hour drive there (should have been 6, but...small bladders. And not on the children. And not on me. Ahem, husband.) and back.  Next up is a flight with both of them, so that should be...fun. I'm stocking up on small activities, and I *think* I've figured out the carseat/stroller situation. Maybe. It kind of changes daily. But I'm more hopeful that will go well since they both did well on the long drive than I was before.

If you made it this far and you've flown with kids (bonus points for multiple kids), any hints that you want to share?