Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

An angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 2:9-14

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Eight Months!

This has been an extra fun month, since Emma is such a joyful age at our favorite time of year!  Dan and I love the holiday season, and it's been awesome to share it with Emma and see it through her eyes. It'll just get more special as she gets older and understands what it's all about.  "Christmas" is literally her middle name, after all!  When we were choosing a name for our unknown little girl in the womb, we loved that "Emma Noelle" (meaning "Universal Christmas") had a similar sound and meaning as "Emmanuel" ("God with us").  

When Jesus came to earth as a baby, he gave the entire world the best Christmas gift of all time.  He came to rescue us from the bondage of sin and make peace between us and God so we could have a relationship with our Creator and Lord.  Being parents has helped Dan and I understand, in a small way, the pride and pleasure God felt watching His Son grow up and make choices every day that honored his Father.  Yet what a gut-wrenching sacrifice, knowing that He would one day put all the pain and burden of the world's sin on his Son, who had never committed a sin in his life!  Jesus paid that price for each of us because we couldn't, and because God wanted to have a close and loving relationship with us, too.  God's promise is this: that anyone who trusts in Jesus as their rescuer will be forgiven of all sins towards God and others, and will live forever in a close relationship with Him!  It's so much to celebrate, one holiday really can't contain it! We look forward to reading the Christmas story with Emma and celebrating the birth of Jesus each year with her!

We're continuing to have a blast watching her grow and learn new things.  Some fun facts about her at 8 months are:
  • She wants soooo badly to move around!  Our days of her staying in one place are numbered, because she's begun to scoot and roll a lot recently!  She hasn't figured out how to crawl yet, but she's developing her muscles every day. Like all new parents, we are really encouraging it even though everyone says we'll spend the next 17 years trying to get her to sit still. :)
  • She's begun to point at everything with her pointer finger.  It's really cute.  I think it's the pre-cursor to the pincer grip that will help her pick up finger food and small objects with her finger and thumb.
  • She's still a pretty quiet baby, but she'll have times of the day when she's more vocal. She doesn't seem to associate sounds with people or things yet, but at this point, she regularly says "ba ba ba," "blah blah blah," "mommm," "da da da," and raspberry noises.
  • She makes this jerky up and down motion with her left arm that we're trying to turn into a wave hello. Every time we see her do it, we get overly animated and wave our arms up and down in jerky motions while yelling "Hi Emma!! Helloooo Emma!!!" Hmmm, now that I see that in writing, we must look like we've absolutely lost our minds. Heh!
  • She's gotten friendly with strangers recently, though, so we must be doing something right. When she sees a new person looking at her, she'll usually make eye contact and smile.  When she's sitting in her stroller, she'll reach towards them with her palm down, as if she's offering to let them "kiss the royal hand." And sometimes they do. :)
  • She is sleeping through the night about half the week now. It's so awesome, and makes the nights that she's awake several times not quite so bad.
  • She's been a drool machine recently, but so far she still only has two bottom teeth. We expect more to show up soon.
  • She's decided that she's not a fan of pureed food, and on a good day I can get her to take four voluntary bites before she loses interest in whatever mashed cuisine I'm offering. So we've started to introduce beginner finger foods, which is more interesting to her although she really just wants to fill her belly with milk. 
  • She's gotten very organized about her play time. When she's done with a toy, she adds it to a pile beside her, and when there's nothing left in front of her (between her knees) she fusses because she has nothing left to play with. If you try to take a toy from the side and put it back in front of her, she give you a "look" and puts it right back where it belongs. Ha - crazy kid!
  • Since she's gotten so good at rolling, we've made an after-bath game with her where we put her on her bath towel on the bed and let her roll around and dry herself off. She gets a kick out of it when she rolls right off the edge of the bed and we scoop her up and "fly" her back to the middle of the bed!
  • Emma went to her first pro hockey game this month!  Dan's team, the New York Islanders, came to Southern California to play the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks.  All three of us went to the Kings game with friends on a Saturday night, and Dan went solo to the Ducks game the following Monday night.
  • Dan and I had a date night for my company's Christmas party. It was the very first time we let anyone else put her to bed. It ended up being a rough night for her (and us), since we had to wake her up at 10:30 to put her in the car seat, drive her home, then wake her up again to put her in her own bed. She didn't sleep well the rest of the night, so it didn't make us excited about doing it again soon.  We've enjoyed our "date days" much more!

Her favorite pastime is flying around the house. It's one of the best ways to spend our time, since we always get lots of good belly laughs. :)

Using that cute pointer finger

She's actually enjoying tummy time for the first time ever.

Dan is coaching her as she tries to work her way to the Christmas tree

Emma playing with her friends Trevor and Zack before we went to the hockey game with their parents, Filipe and Jerrica.

At her first hockey game!

Watching hockey with his girl. Dan's so excited! :)

She was way more interested in sucking the face off of a Larry Murphy bobble-head doll they gave us at the door.

With Filipe and Jerrica

We took Emma to our church's Christmas Village. They made snow so kids could sled down a hill, had crafts, face painting, cookies and hot chocolate, and a nativity with real people and animals. Here we are, posing for that classic "baby with a camel" photo

Her first contact with snow was in San Diego. Go figure!

I had to add this picture because she kept blinking when the camera flashed just like Dan almost always does. Somehow Dan kept his eyes open for this picture, but it made me laugh.

Waving and offering the "royal hand" to people during our neighborhood Christmas parade.

Speaking of Christmas, here are a few of Emma's very favorite things right now, in case you're wondering what to get her. 

An empty Boogie Wipes container

A used water bottle 
(also, you can see that this is her very last toy to play with since everything else is in a "done" pile)

Her feet

Other people's teeth

So there you go.  Clearly you can save your money this year.  If you will let her play with your garbage or put her hands directly into your mouth, she will be more than happy. 

She would also like to chew on all the ornaments on your Christmas tree, but I don't recommend that. 

We hope you all have a wonderful and wonder-filled Christmas this year!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thanksgiving in Denver

We had a wonderful time over Thanksgiving visiting friends and old co-workers in Denver! We had contacted them early to make sure they were available to get together before we bought tickets.  It was exciting to meet some of their kids for the first time and introduce them to Emma.  The weather was gorgeous while we were there, but it snowed and dropped to single digit temperatures two days after we left.  That's Denver for you! :) We were thankful for the great weather since we travelled non-stop all weekend to see our friends.  

Here are some pictures from our trip.

We flew into Denver on Thanksgiving night, and our first stop the next morning was at John and Norma's house. Norma was my mentor at church for about a year, and we became very close. We got to visit with their kids and grandkids who were with them for Thanksgiving, too, which was nice.

After leaving their house, we drove straight to a Mexican restaurant for a lunch reunion with my old coworkers from The College for Financial Planning. It's been almost 9 years since I've seen some of them, so it was fun to catch up!

From left to right in the back: Brett, Bob, and Dan
Left to right in the front, Kristen, Jodi, and me
We were missing one of our coworkers, Rebecca, since she had a baby girl a few days prior (6 weeks earlier than her due date!) She and her baby are doing fine, but obviously weren't able to make it to lunch.

That night, we spent the evening with our friends, Kate and Mike and their kids Charlotte and Cameron.  Kate made a Thanksgiving feast for us since we had missed turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving day.

Charlotte and Cameron loved to entertain Emma! Cameron is dancing for her in this picture, and Charlotte is telling him to "be careful around the baby!" :)  Emma ate up all the attention, of course. 

 Our good friend, Jill, and her two daughters came over to Kate and Mike's house for Thanksgiving dinner, too.  It was great to see my girlfriends again!

A picture of the "boys"

Jill's daughters, Natalie and Allison (on the left), joined Charlotte and Cameron in providing Emma with full-time entertainment!

On Saturday morning, we hit the road and headed to the mountains!

Just one of the scenic views on our drive. I miss Colorado and its beautiful scenery.

Our good friend Molly and her family have been living and working at Lost Valley Ranch in Sedalia, Colorado for the past five years.  It felt so good to hug her and catch up in person!

Molly's beautiful family. Her brand-new son, Luke, was 4 weeks old, son Hayes, daughter Mary, and husband Jeremy. This was the first time we had met any of their kids, since we haven't seen them for five years!

Emma got to hang out with Baby Luke in the car while Molly took us on a tour of the ranch.

Lost Valley Ranch is absolutely gorgeous, and provides a resort-like experience for visitors. 

A family picture before we headed back to Denver

That night, we went back to Mike and Kate's house for dinner and were joined by our friends Michael and Jennifer and their kids, Audrey and Austin. Pre-marriage and kids, we had all attended a 20-Something group at Mission Hills Church. We had paired off with our significant others at around the same time, so we had many fun double and triple dates with these couples.  

The cute kiddos (minus Austin). 

Since Dan's birthday was the following day, we celebrated with cupcakes and singing!

On Sunday morning, Emma woke Dan up to wish him a happy birthday. And give him bunny ears. :)

We spent a few final hours with Mike and Kate and played at their neighborhood park.

Our friend Garlyn surprised us by stopping at the park for a quick hello before we had to head to the airport! It was a packed weekend and we loved reuniting with so many friends!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Seven Months!

Is it just me, or does the end of the year fly by faster than any other time?  It seems like Emma just turned 6 months yesterday, and we were celebrating her half birthday. We love to extend birthday celebrations, so the following weekend we took cake, ice cream, and party hats over to Dave, Cynthia, Olivia, and Kailey's house and partied some more! It's always fun to spend time with them, and Emma loves watching the older girls play.

Each weekend, we've gone to Dan's school's football games to cheer on the team.  They had a great season, and won their division's championship for the second year in a row!  Emma enjoyed the lights and action, but she liked watching the cheerleaders much more than the football players. She's been practicing her high kicks, so maybe she'll be a mini cheerleader someday. She always gets lots of attention from Dan's high school students and staff.  When we're at one of his school functions, everyone says "Oh my gosh, she looks exactly like you, Mr. Jester!"  I took her to work on Halloween so she could dress up with my department, and everyone asked "Is that your baby?" Ha!  Clearly, Dan wins the gene battle. 

The biggest news for Emma this month is her awesome new bed!  She was starting to look pretty cramped and uncomfortable in the mini pack n' play she was sleeping in.  We were going to wait for Christmastime, but Nana and Papa (my parents) offered to buy a crib as an early Christmas gift for her.  We did some price and customer review comparisons and decided to go with an IKEA crib.  It's simple, but perfect for the small amount of space we have in our rental house.  Plus, the price was right!  Since we had purchased her dresser at IKEA, we were able to match the colors exactly.

Dan and I had another date day on Veteran's Day, which was a holiday at both our workplaces.  We dropped Emma off at Sue's that morning and then went to the movies for the first time since she was born! We watched "Ender's Game," which was good, but the book is so much better. I'd highly recommend it if you like young adult fantasy novels.  We went to a local movie theater we'd heard about that has big leather recliners instead of typical seats.  It was relaxing to kick your feet up like you were at home while enjoying the big screen and surround sound.  

In other news, we ran our first race as a family at the Shelter Island 5K.  My coworker, Janeece, and I have run it almost every year, because it's a flat, scenic course along the water, and there's a huge breakfast buffet at the end of it. If that's not a good reason to run a race, I don't know what is!  Dan pushed Emma in the jogging stroller and I tried my best to keep up with them. I'm pretty sure she won the 0-1 year old category! :) 

Some fun facts about Emma at 7 months:
  • She's sitting up really well now, which we're all enjoying! She can entertain herself for pretty long periods of time without us supporting her to stay upright, but she hasn't learned how to scoot or crawl yet, so she stays where we place her.  It's the best of both worlds, in my opinion.
  • She has two bottom teeth now, which makes her smile even cuter.
  • Her favorite song is "Old MacDonald," which I sing at the top of my lungs in the car when I'm trying to keep her awake.  Over time, our farm has moved beyond the typical sheep, chickens, and cows to include snakes, seagulls, lions, bees, and monkeys.
  • She's exploring her world in new ways. She continues to put all objects in her mouth primarily, but she's also begun to whack them with her hand, talk to them, pass them from one hand to another, and when she's done with them, throw them out of her stroller or high chair.  
  • She loves seeing herself in the mirror, and I'm pretty sure she knows who she's looking at.
  • She flinches and closes her eyes when she anticipates a loud noise, like when we're about to shut the car door. It's really cute. 
  • She is finally sleeping through the night occasionally!  Praise the Lord!!  She's so much better at soothing herself back to sleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night. It doesn't happen all the time yet, but when it does, it feels amazing to get 6-7 hours of continuous sleep!
  • Some of her favorite things are when you animate her stuffed animals, hearing and making funny sound effects, swinging in the bucket swing at the park, and being tossed in the air.
Here are some pictures from our fun times this month:

Partying it up for Emma's half birthday with Kailey and Olivia!

The princesses :) It'll be fun when Emma can dress up and dance around the house with the older girls.

With hard work and dedication, we managed to make our way through half of this amazing chocolate cake. Then we packed up the rest for Sue and her family.

Now that Emma is sitting up well, we just surround her with toys and let her play!

This is how we end every bath time - squirting water from the bottle directly into her mouth. She gets so excited every single time! It's the cutest thing!

She still hates tummy time. Personal Trainer Daddy makes her push through it, though.

She's been very helpful lately with the laundry

And cooking dinner

She's graduated to sitting in the shopping cart, and she loves that she can see everything going on around her. Before, we'd keep her in the car seat and put it in the cart, so her only views were up our noses and whatever was hanging from the ceiling.

We went to many CCA football games this season, which kept us all up past our bedtimes.

But we taught Emma the family secret for staying awake!

Here's a video of Emma and Dan cheering on the team at their last game of the year.

She was definitely outgrowing her mini pack n' play bed. One strong kick, and her head would end up crammed in the corner.

We went shopping for a new crib for her, and took naps on the mattresses to test them out.

Buying Emma's brand-new bed at IKEA

And the finished product!
(She is nowhere near pulling herself up, by the way. I propped her and she was able to hold the pose for a quick picture)

We've had beautiful weather for jogging and enjoying our neighborhood park

And we make sure to pick up our favorite lunch date at least once a week!

At the Shelter Island 5K with my coworker, Janeece

Emma and Ellie are still getting into mischief together!

They are playing with light sabers here. These little Jedis are growing up way too fast!

Oh, and Emma apparently had a young admirer who stayed at Sue's house one day. She looks appropriately shocked by the kiss, so Dan decided to let him live! :)