Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Nine Months!

My, my, my. Someone did a lot of growing this month!  Darn those Christmas cookies!! Ha ha, actually Dan and I managed to keep the holiday weight gain to a minimum, but somehow Emma blew past an entire clothing size before we noticed how much she was stretching out her 6 month clothes.  I figured it was time to bump up to 9-month sizes and bought a few items just to get us through Christmas, although I noticed she didn't have much wiggle room in them. Then she received new and used 12-month clothes as gifts, and they fit her perfectly at 8 1/2 months old! It'll be interesting to see where she is on the growth chart at her next doctor's appointment.

She's so strong, too! I tell people that it feels like wrestling a little bear when you're trying to keep her still for a diaper change or nap time and she wants to wiggle away.  And when she's really flailing, she can cause some serious injuries!  She was excitedly pumping her arms while Dan was holding her about a week ago, and managed to jab him in the eye hard enough to really hurt him!  He had to keep the injured eye closed most of the day for it to recover, and it took 3 days for his vision to return to normal.  Poor guy!

Emma caught a cold during Christmastime and it lingered for a solid two weeks.  Half the Jester family in Virginia seemed to have colds, too, so she learned how to "fake cough" since everyone was coughing constantly and she thought it sounded funny. One of her favorite games is reaching in peoples' mouths and touching their teeth, so one of us was bound to catch her cold (the lucky winner was Dan). Many, many boogie wipes and Kleenex later, everyone is healthy and feeling good again.

Dan's school was on break an extra week after we got home from our holiday travels so he and Emma hung out every day and picked me up for lunch on the days I worked. Thankfully, I'm back to working three days a week, so I had a couple of days off, too. One was dedicated to celebrating my birthday! Dan and I dropped Emma off at Sue's house on Friday and spent the day seeing two awesome movies ("Saving Mr. Banks" and "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire").  We met our friends Paul and Ann for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, too. My actual birthday was on a Saturday, and Dan and Emma bought me flowers and cards and we just enjoyed the day together - talking to our families, running errands, getting our cars washed, and eating ice cream as we walked on the beach. The whole weekend was perfect. I am one blessed girl!

It's getting more and more fun to share experiences with Emma now that she's really noticing her surroundings and other people.  Some fun facts about her at 9 months old are:

  • Two of her new favorite past times are pointing at everything and waving at everyone! It's a really cute stage, especially as she discovers the effect she has on others. When we're able to, Dan and I will walk her over to the object she's pointing at so we can explain what it is while she touches it (and tries to put it in her mouth). And she made friends literally all over the country as she waved her way through the airports at Christmastime.  
  • She's suddenly very interested in feeling her two bottom teeth all the time. If her hand isn't in her mouth, her tongue is poking around her mouth to make sure they're still there.
  • She is still really friendly and doesn't mind letting a perfect stranger hold her. She gets the most excited about meeting kids and dogs, though.
  • She is rolling and scooting a little more but still hasn't mastered crawling, so she uses those strong hands and arms to try to pull herself toward her goal. That's fine until she uses my hair or face or the front of my shirt to claw her way towards something.
  • For one week she said "Mama" non-stop, and I'm glad I caught it on video since she hasn't said it since!
  • She's still not showing much interest in eating solid foods. She likes oh-shaped cereal and will eat at least a couple of those when I offer them.  I'm learning that food consistency is a big deal to her. When I blend foods at home, they are still rather gritty or chunky, and she's not interested after a bite or two. We've had more success with smooth foods like mashed bananas, yogurt, and baby food from the store. When I'm eating a piece of fruit, I'll let her taste it and she seems to enjoy the flavors.   
  • She is sleeping through the night 90% of the time now!  Sometime during Christmas, she began rolling onto her belly to sleep, and I think it's made a big difference.  She generally sleeps from 8:00 p.m. - 6:00 a.m., and it's wonderful! I don't know how restful her sleep is, since every time I check on her, she has scooted to a different corner of the bed. But she stays asleep or soothes herself back to sleep without assistance almost all the time now.
  • She's weaning herself off her third nap most days.  As long as she's had two decent naps, she can get through the evening with just a short cat nap in the car or none at all.
  • Another milestone we're noticing is that her play is slowly evolving from putting everything in her mouth to actually manipulating objects with her hands.  She is really interested in books, and loves to point at the pictures and turn the pages. The book usually does end up in her mouth, too, but she spends much more time looking at it than gnawing on it.

Emma and her best friend Ellie in their pretty Christmas dresses.  They didn't see each other for two weeks while we were out of town, and acted very excited to be reunited again!

Our strong girl balancing on cousin Brad's hand at Christmastime. His arm was moving all over the place while he kept her balanced, but she chewed on a toy and acted like it was no big deal.

"When in Texas..." Trying on a cowgirl hat for size. She didn't like it (to Dan's great relief!) :)

That tongue has been out of her mouth and feeling her teeth constantly this month. So 75% of her photos look like this.

It's so much fun to point at everything! Her friend Ellie points at everything/one with her middle finger, so it could be worse...

Pumping those arms in excitement!

The two pictures of Emma above contributed to a pretty gnarly injury when her excited hand collided with Dan's eye! We fashioned this lovely patch to help him keep it closed all day since it was painful to open it. It was a Sunday, so he laid on the couch and watched football with his good eye to pass the time. His vision was blurry for a couple more days, but he's back to normal now.

We've tried giving her various fruits and vegetables as finger foods, hoping that she would chew on them and discover she liked them. No luck so far! She dissects them on the table (like this poor broccoli sprout), but spits them out if they get in her mouth. Oh well, at least she's entertained! 

But she loves tasting new foods. Dan was grossed out that she kept going back to taste this pickle again. That's my girl! :)

The magical sleep position: Belly down, hands tucked underneath, booty in the air

Turning the pages of a book and pointing at all the pictures

Emma experienced "real" weather in Virginia during Christmas week. She was fascinated by the rain!

Bundled up for a walk in the cold outdoors

She had lots of kitchen sink baths while we were visiting family

Sporting her new ladybug bath towel from Uncle Tim and Aunt Dawn!

We went to one of Dan's Wednesday night roller hockey games.

She's seen him play before, but this was the first time she stayed awake and recognized him in his gear!

We attended a baby shower for our friends, Kat and Burton, who are expecting twins! New playmates for Emma coming soon!

My Honda CR-V gave me a birthday gift by making it to 250,000 miles! We need to get new tires for it soon, so now we're shooting for 300,000! :)

Enjoying the Southern California sunshine on my birthday with a family walk on the beach

This girl has had so many new experiences recently! She is growing up before our eyes and stealing our hearts a little more each month!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christmastime Part 2 - in Fort Worth

Before we knew it, we were leaving Virginia and on another plane to Fort Worth, TX to visit my family!  My brother Steve and his wife Sheila weren't able to make it to TX this year because they went to India to visit her family. We missed them a lot, but were glad they could make the journey so Steve could see where Sheila was born and meet the rest of her family. 

Since Dan, Emma, and I arrived the Saturday after Christmas, we opened gifts with my family the very next morning. We always try to open presents at the beginning of our visit so we can enjoy our new CDs, DVDs, and games during our remaining days together. And also because my mom and I have the patience of 3-year-olds when it comes to opening our gifts. :)

My mom's side of the family got together at the Ranch House one evening, and it was great to see everyone!  I love that my aunts, uncles, and cousins try to get together once or twice a year.  It keeps our families close, and Emma will have fun playing with all her second cousins each year.  My cousins Brad and Remy had their little girl, Sadie, just before Christmas, which brings the count to 7 second cousins in our growing family. 

My Mom joined Dan, Emma, and I for a visit to my cousin Tricia's house in Abilene to eat lunch with her family.  Dan, Emma, and I also spent an afternoon visiting his Uncle Gary, Aunt Pat, and cousins Amy and Anne and their families.  They all live in McKinney, which is about an hour and a half from my parents in Fort Worth.  We really enjoyed eating lunch and catching up with them, although I forgot to take a single picture while we were there.

The rest of our time was spent with my Dad, Mom, and brother Paul - watching movies, playing games, and eating good meals.  Dan and I went to the movies with my Dad and Paul to see "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" while my Mom babysat Emma. We also went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse (Dan's favorite!) one evening.  It was a very fun visit!   

Emma and Nana scoping out the gifts under the tree!

Emma had a ball with all the gift bags, boxes, and tissue paper! We had to clear out the garbage before she would pay attention to her gifts. :)

A full house at the Ranch House with my mom's family

Cousin Beckett was showing off his walking skills and the bike he got for Christmas

He let Emma take a spin on the bike, too

Uncle Brian and Tucker

Tricia and Aunt Jane

Tim and Leslie


Beckett and Kolby

Remy and sweet baby Sadie

Emily, Tricia, and I

Two of my favorite men!

The whole family

Tricia and her husband Jeff got their kids a puppy for Christmas, so we went to their house another day to visit them and meet her.
Back at my parents' house, Emma, Papa, and Uncle Paul kicked back and watched football

Played patty-cake

 Dressed Emma up in the cute new outfit Uncle Paul gave her

Played the piano with gusto!

Got a "Nothing Bundt Cake" to celebrate Paul's and my January birthdays. We used to always share a birthday cake since our birthdays are only four days apart - it was just like old times! :)
And of course, ate dinner at Texas Roadhouse!

We loved every minute of our Christmas vacation!

Christmastime Part 1 - in Williamsburg

Normally, the weeks before Christmas are full of evening parties and engagements, but it wasn't as hectic for us this year since Dan's staff had a lunchtime Christmas party at school. Also, the CCA Christmas Concert was performed only by the school's pre-school and elementary students, so he didn't need to be involved in that, either. We just attended my work Christmas party, and otherwise had our evenings free. We appreciated that, since my department was so busy during December that I worked full-time instead of my typical three days per week. While the extra money was nice during the expensive holiday season, it confirmed that Dan and I definitely don't want me to go back to work full-time permanently. I hardly got to spend time with Emma during those weeks, and it's important to us that she gets lots of quality time with her parents!  We were really looking forward to our vacation time so we could be together every day, even though I was leaving work at one of the busiest times of the year.  We had booked our tickets months ago, and there's no way we were missing Emma's first Christmas with our families!

Dan had a three-week Christmas break from school, so we spent two of those weeks visiting Williamsburg, VA and Fort Worth, TX. I was worried that Emma wouldn't be able to sleep on the plane again (she really struggled on our flight to Denver at Thanksgiving time), which would've made a v-e-r-y long trip to VA. So we entertained her non-stop to keep her awake at the airport, and as a result she was good and tired for the flight. When I'm in an unfamiliar setting, sleeping with earplugs is the best way for me to tune out all the noises and distractions, so as I held her and fed her, I held a soft, thick blanket against her ears to muffle all the sounds. While the sun was shining through the window, I also shaded her eyes with a burp cloth. And she slept incredibly well on both flights! Praise the Lord!

When we arrived in Virginia, it was almost 80 degrees for the first two days! It rained and cooled down after that, which felt much more like Christmastime.  We had a blast playing with our nephews and meeting our niece, Naomi, who was born in October. Since there are so many kids in the family with lots of presents to open, we tried something new this year and let them open their gifts on Christmas Eve.  That way, we could spend the day helping them assemble and read instructions for their toys, and then the adults opened gifts together on Christmas day while the kids were busy playing with all their new toys.

Dan, Emma, and I took a day to drive to the Hampton Roads area to do some sight-seeing and stop in at my company's office in Portsmouth. I work with several people in that office, but don't see them in person unless they come to San Diego for business meetings.  They loved meeting Emma and Dan, too.  Other than that, we stayed at Dan's parents' house and enjoyed time with the Jesters and the extended family and friends who joined us there.  Here are some pictures from our first week of Christmas!

At my company's Christmas party - our first date night since Emma was born!

This is what my boss gave his employees for Christmas this year. He figured everyone needed a little stress relief.


Finally on the plane heading to Williamsburg! Emma slept through most of the flight with her head wrapped in a blanket. :)

We got to help Dad and Mom decorate their house for the holidays while we were there.  Emma was fascinated by all the "toys" on the tree!

Santa's helpers distributing gifts to the kids on Christmas Eve

First Christmas gifts!

Benjamin showing off his loot

Nathan loves dressing up, so the hat and knife are perfect.

Aaron got some huge superhero figures

Lots of cars and little people for Josiah

Since Dan's nickname for Emma is "Lady Lovebug," she had quite the ladybug theme this year, including a ladybug blanket and bath towel.

Naomi and Emma in their pretty dresses on Christmas Eve. This was the one picture where they both looked at the camera, although Emma looks ready to steal Naomi's dress. There were lots of funny out-takes, of course.

Including this one, where Emma is picking Naomi's nose. :)

We got a picture of all the kids, even though poor Josiah clearly didn't want to be in it.
Left to right: Josiah, Nathan, Benjamin (in the back), Aaron, Nate holding Emma, and Abi holding Naomi

Our family on Christmas Eve

The Jesters' neighborhood has a beautiful trail behind it that Dan and I went running on a few times that week.  We took a family walk on Christmas day, too.

The boys playing "King of the Hill"

All bundled up - it's cold outside!

Our days were filled with non-stop playtime at the Jesters' house. Emma and Josiah became big buddies. He learned her name the first day, and afterwards would walk around asking for "Emma? Emma?" when he didn't see her.

Aaron is a hard one to catch on camera since he's a whirlwind of activity. But he stopped for a moment to hold hands with Emma.

It looks like Nathan's growling and scaring her in this picture. So funny!

Benjamin gave her this Christmas dress, which fit her perfectly during the holidays!

The Kings joined us for dinner a couple of nights. Emma loved playing with Christina and Kimberly.

Exploring the bucket of toys with Grandpa

Rob, Robin, and their kids, Abi, Nate, and Naomi came over almost every day to hang out with us, too.

Dan's cousins Jon and Carrie visited on Christmas day with their kids. Emma loved their daughter, Chloe!  And we got an entire wardrobe of Chloe's hand-me-downs that will last Emma until she's two! We're really grateful for all the cute clothes!

Nathan kept us entertained with a new costume every day. :)

Josiah looking very dapper on Christmas Eve

Naomi is already very personable at a young age. She'll give you the sweetest smiles when you stop to talk to her.

Benjamin, Nathan, and Aaron used Aaron's new superheroes as targets on the pool table. Very creative!

We got a picture of the whole family before we left Williamsburg. We're thankful for such a wonderful family and the fun time we had with everyone!