Sunday, April 27, 2014

Twelve Months!

Emma has been a year old for a couple of weeks now, and it still blows our mind!  I covered most of the major events from this month here, here, and here.  We also celebrated our first Easter as a family this month.  We are so grateful for Jesus' life, death, and resurrection!  He paid the price for our sins so we could have peace with God.  We pray that Emma will know this peace and relationship with God as she grows up.

Our birthday gift to Emma (and ourselves) was a bike seat and helmet.  We got the idea and the recommendation for the seat we bought from my cousin, Emily, whose son is four months older than Emma.  We hope she loves riding in it because we've really missed biking this year.

Here are some of the fun things going on with our one year old!
  • Her very favorite pastime is holding our fingers and walking everywhere. We are absolutely loving this stage, although our backs may never recover from it.  She's especially passionate about stairs and wants us to walk her up and down the same flight of stairs for a half an hour at a time. Thank God we only have one step inside our home or we might both be crippled!  
  • She continues to crawl, pull up, and she can now stand unassisted for a few seconds.
  • During her one-year-old doctor appointment, she was measured at 30" tall (85th percentile) and 21.5  pounds (55th percentile).  The doctor advised us to limit her milk consumption, encourage more solids, and switch to whole cow's milk instead of formula. We're trying to only give her a bottle before nap time and bedtime, so in between, we offer her other foods and a sippy cup of water.  The foods she likes (sometimes) are pasta and broccoli with pasta sauce, cut up grapes, blueberries, rice, oatmeal, Cheerios, and pouches of pureed fruit and veggie blends. 
  • Hands down, her favorite snack is Gerber Graduates Fruit and Veggie Melts. They are freeze dried snacks made of fruit and vegetable purees and juices. They look like erasers and taste like flavored chalk, and she absolutely loves them. We try to save them as a last resort after offering her other foods, but it's nice to have something we can count on her eating.
  • Those teeth keep coming in! She's up to eight now - four on top and four on the bottom.  She continues to have minimal pain and issues with teething, thank God. We've heard how rough it can be for some kids.  
  • Diaper changes are so much better than last month. There were a few weeks when she absolutely hated it and would cry and fight us.  We'd change her as fast as possible, and make a big deal of being "all done!" when she could get up. Now she knows to lay still until we say "all done!", but she doesn't seem to mind having her diaper changed most of the time.
  • She's sleeping like a champ again!  Typically 9-10 hours at night and a 1.5 - 2 hour nap in the late morning.  Late afternoon naps are hit-or-miss.  At bedtime, she'll sometimes spit out the bottle and indicate that she wants us to put her in bed. She either falls right to sleep after we leave the room or plays for a while in her crib, but she's happy to be there.  We're grateful that she makes bedtime easy for us most nights!
  • We're seeing some separation anxiety when we get out of her eyesight in stores or when we drop her off at daycare.  She's usually still friendly with strangers, but now it's contingent on us being right beside her. 
  • A couple of months ago, she finally reached the age of not being able to sit with us quietly during church.  She had done really well the first 7 months or so.  After that, she'd do okay for about half the service, although she spent most of her time waving at all the people sitting behind us and distracting them.  Then the holidays hit and we weren't home for our church services for almost a month.  We stretched it as long as we could, but she's now going to nursery every Sunday, and she loves it.  She joins the other babies playing with toys and hardly gives us a second glance when we leave.
  • She's suddenly become quite the cuddler. This is really exciting for me, since I had assumed that having a girl automatically meant having a cuddler.  Just about the only cuddle time I used to get was when she was fast asleep. Now when she first wakes up or is feeling tired, she'll wrap those arms around our necks and lay her head on our shoulders. It's the very best way to wake up in the morning, in my opinion.
  • She is really showing her comprehension of the things we say.  We provide lots of commentary about what we're doing, what she's pointing at, where we're going, etc. Recently, she's surprised me by looking or pointing at an item I mention, since she hasn't done this very much in the past. In the last few weeks, she's shown that she can identify ears, noses, heads, feet, hats, clocks, flowers, and doors, to name a few.
  • She also consistently says "Dada" for Dan, "Ma" or "Mom" for me, "Doh" for dog, and "Mmm" when she sees a monkey in a book. 
  • She usually gives hugs and kisses upon request.  Sometimes she wants to give spontaneous hugs to people she's never met before. She kissed her doctor on the lips when we were leaving her last appointment.  Confession: After seeing countless babies grant their parents an open-mouthed, slobbery kiss, sometimes involving too much tongue, I decided early on that I would do all the kissing until Emma was at least three. But after watching her gently touch her closed lips to her stuffed animals and photographs, she is allowed to kiss me, too. Hey, some things are just gross, even if it's your own kid!
  • Now that it's actually grown in, the number one comment we hear is about her red hair.  It must come from the Jester side since she has two cousins, Nathan and Josiah, who are also redheads.  This is the first generation that red hair has made an appearance, so it was a surprise to everyone!
Here are some photos of what Emma's been up to lately:

She loves opening doors and drawers and reorganizing everything for us. She is going for the Dr. Pepper in the fridge, so there is no doubt she's our daughter.

 She's been obsessed with straps for quite some time now. One of her favorite things to do is turn around in her stroller/high chair/car seat to play with the straps.

She also loves magnets. Grandpa and Grandma Jester bought her some animal-shaped magnets that she decorates our fridge with.

When she thinks something is funny or when she knows she's being cute, she gives this scrunched up smiley face that cracks us up. 

It took a little while for her to get used to it, but she enjoys riding in the Ergo carrier on our walks together.

Her favorite mode of transportation is holding our fingers and walking!

She usually finishes her meals looking like this. Face, hair, hands, and clothes covered in food. We just throw her in the bath afterwards.

Eyeing her very favorite food. 

With all the eating she's doing, we try to remember to brush her teeth every day.   

We celebrated Easter at our church service and potluck, then an Easter Egg Hunt and dinner at our friends, Dave and Cynthia's, house.  This is a picture of the egg hiders (Dave and Dan) and the egg hunters.  We tried and tried to get Emma to care about the egg hunt, but even when we handed the eggs to her, she'd just throw them on the ground again.

 She really just wanted to crawl around outside. 

And play with blocks inside

Emma's first bike ride! We rode for about 15 minutes around our neighborhood to test it out. Before we headed out, Dan rode circles around me so I could get a picture and video, while Emma kept saying "Dada! Whoa!" ha ha ha!

Cutest little rider I've ever seen

We love this little girl with all our hearts! It's been an amazing year of change and growth for all three of us.  Although these 12 months flew by, it somehow feels as though she's been part of our family forever.  I'm planning to transfer all the monthly posts about Emma into a photo book, so she can look at the pictures and hear stories about her first year of life. 

Emma, we are so thankful to God for adding you to our family! You are a priceless gift, and we cannot imagine a sweeter, more fun baby than you.  We hope you grow up feeling loved and treasured, because you are.  Most of all, we pray you will love the Lord with all your heart and follow Him all your days.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Birthday Princess

Emma's actual birthday was on Monday.  Dan and I took the day off work to spend it with her and Dad and Mom J. while they were still in town.  It was nice to have an extra day together!

After a relaxed morning, we went to Firehouse Subs for lunch.

And did some shopping for little Miss Flexible Legs

That evening, we took her to the park where we had her party so she could swing for a while

Lots of love from Grandpa and Grandma!

She had a blast roaming free in the grass

And walking...




And getting back up!

Back at the house, she finally got that chocolate cake she was hoping for!

Dan's mom bought her a birthday tiara. Dan had to wear it for a while before she was okay with us putting it on her head. Then she'd make a surprised face and raise her hands to touch it, exactly like Miss America. She just needs to add a single glistening tear, and she's ready.

We loved having Grandma and Grandpa here to celebrate Emma's birthday with us!

We can't believe she's one. The year went by so fast, and yet we feel like she's been a part of our hearts and lives for much longer than that.

Emma's 1st Birthday Party

We celebrated Emma's first birthday with a party at our local park.  It was such a fun day!  We ordered pizza from Long Island Mike's for lunch, which is our new favorite pizza place. Friends from church and work came and Emma had lots of kids to play with.  Grandpa and Grandma Jester even flew in from Williamsburg, VA! We loved celebrating her birthday with friends and family!

It was a beautiful day, but there was enough of a cool breeze that everyone opted to sit in the sun to stay warm. The older kids played on the playground and the babies loved crawling around on the blankets.

Dan and Dad J. went to the park early that morning to reserve a pavilion and hold it until the party started. It was great to have the extra picnic tables and shade for the food.

Emma's adorable birthday cake. The birthday party theme was ladybugs, since Dan calls her "Lady Lovebug". (We also had a chocolate cake with fudge frosting for the choc-aholics.)

How old are you, Emma?
That's right, smartie pants. :)

8-month-old Norma Jean with her mom, Leighann and grandma, Cheryl.

Kyle and Jonathan

Stacey, Dave, Keith, and Pamela. 

Roy took most of the awesome photos you see here. He's married to Sue, who watches Emma when I'm working.

Mariana is Dan's assistant at school. She loves spoiling Emma!

Olivia and her dad, Dave

Ian and Jon loved playing in the sand and on the playground near the party

Emma's best friend Ellie - scoping out the gifts! :)

Zachary and his mom, Jerrica

Eli with his mom, Ann, sitting next to Grandma Jester 

Emma had a great time playing with all her new toys! We opened gifts on the grass where all the kids could see and play with the new toys.

Happy girl!

Of course she still loved eating the wrapping paper and tissue best. :)

After opening the gifts, we cut a big piece of cake for her

At first she was fine, smiling and waving at her adoring fans.

But then she tasted the cake and realized it wasn't chocolate! Wah!

So she fed it to Dan instead. Ha!

The other kids seemed to enjoy the cake, though! 
Left to right: Coral, Eli, and Trevor

Grandpa and Grandma

Left to right: Judy, Ian, Chris, and Jon

Stacy, Brandy, and Ellie

Family picture

Happy birthday, sweet Emma! You bring so much joy to our lives!