Saturday, September 20, 2014

Seventeen Months!

I feel like we're turning the corner from having a baby to having a little girl. And while I've enjoyed every single stage along the way, I think Emma gets more fun with each passing month! Her communication skills have really taken off recently. She's starting to string two words together, like "All done," "Hi Daddy," "Elmo please," etc. She mimics sounds, words, and motions, so we are taking the opportunity to teach her important life skills, like how to howl like a wolf and do the hokey pokey. She absolutely loves books, and she understands the concept that the "ABCs" she sees on the page spell words. She'll point to the words and read each page out loud, naming the things she sees in the pictures. It's the cutest thing and sounds something like this: "Bird ba na no na" (turns page) "Baby boo nee ma no".  We realized the other day when we were driving that she was quoting a book from memory that we must've read to her 100 times.

Her list of favorite things also include sidewalk chalk and her toy Disney Princesses (Fisher Price Little People brand). She was introduced to chalk when we visited my family in Texas, and now her day is not complete until she's decorated our sidewalk. She's learned the names of the princesses, and she likes to carry them with her wherever she goes. She also loves to dance! I've been waiting for this her whole life, and am so excited to pass down my awkward white girl dance moves! 

She's fickle about bath time and bed time, and Dan and I have spent way too much time analyzing the potential reasons when we've had an exhausting night.  Now we just shrug and say "she's a toddler," which is probably the best explanation.  She's more picky about food, too. She used to taste anything we offered her, although she wouldn't eat a second bite if she didn't like it. Now she eyes a new food and refuses to try it nine times out of ten. So she eats the same eight foods over and over, but at least they're nutritious. We never gave her a fork when she was eating (it seemed like an eye injury waiting to happen), but her babysitter made a comment about how well she used one. So we've begun to give her a fork when she eats, and she uses it like a pro! 

When we tell her "no" or don't give her what she wants as quickly as she wants it, she'll bang her head on something hard (the floor, usually) out of frustration. If it doesn't hurt enough the first time, she keeps banging until she is crying with genuine pain. And she gets so mad when we stop her from doing it. I guess we all have our own special self-destructive reactions to disappointment. I personally prefer to eat way too much ice cream.

One big change in Emma's world is that she has a new babysitter on the days I work. We couldn't have imagined a more perfect fit than our friend, Sue, who has babysat Emma at her house since she was three months old.  Sue has upcoming obligations that made it too difficult for her to continue watching Emma, so we prayed about and researched many other options. Then, a wonderful lady named Linda offered to keep Emma at her house! Dan has known Linda for years since her daughter attended and graduated from his school, and he thinks the world of their family.  She has babysat children for decades and had just finished watching another child six days a week. She loves doing it, but was happy to have the opportunity to keep Emma three days a week since she felt burned out when she had so few down days. We are incredibly thankful that God provided a similar situation for Emma! It makes me feel better to know she'll receive lots of love and attention when I can't be there. I've also heard that kids almost constantly have a cold (or something worse) when they first begin attending school, and I'm happy to postpone that as long as possible!

Here are some pictures of our baby big girl this month.

Reading books in bed. She doesn't usually want to go to bed, but after her nap, she likes us to bring toys and books so she can play in bed.

She wanted to carry her book to the playground, and proceeded to read it while walking and kept reading it while she was swinging. I take full responsibility for her nerdish tendencies.

Happy girl with her sidewalk chalk!

Our little princess playing with her friends, Tiana, Aurora, and Belle

She still doesn't have much, but her hair is now long enough to achieve a respectable bed head in the mornings.

She loves to climb and can navigate playgrounds pretty well on her own.

Often when it gets *too* quiet in the house (you know what I mean), we'll find her reading books contentedly while sitting on the furniture.

Dan's school kicked off its football season last Friday night, and it was such a different experience for Emma than it was a year ago when she had no idea what was happening. She absolutely loved it!  

She was enthralled by the cheerleaders.

Blowing kisses at Daddy

She was simultaneously fascinated by and terrified of the horse mascot and wanted to know where the "Neigh Neigh" was at all times. Dan took her on the field to meet him, which was way too close for comfort!

Bath time has gotten more flexible since she's started to fight them. She likes to play with toys in her toddler tub, so when she wants to get in, I usually drop whatever I'm doing to strip her down. While she's happily playing, I add some water and she gets a quick bath, too.

Sometimes the only way to get her in the tub peacefully at the end of a long day is an "Elmo bath". A few towels under her tub in front of the TV, and everybody is happy. 

Speaking of TV, I started watching my "Pride and Prejudice" DVD during her nap one day last week, and when she woke up we watched it together while she ate lunch. I was surprised by how much she enjoyed it!

Emma and her former babysitter, Sue. We are very thankful for the wonderful care she has taken of Emma!

Emma and her best friend, Ellie (Sue's granddaughter), have literally grown up together this year. We had dinner with Sue's family on the last day that she kept Emma for us. Here are the girls eating their noodles together. We'll make sure they still see each other often!

Emma had a sidewalk chalk extravaganza with her friend, Olivia, at the park one day.

We also had a play date with our friend, Kat, and her six month old twins, Mateo and Alyssa.

Our friends, Paul and Ann, and their son, Eli, welcomed a new addition to the family this week! We met their sweet baby girl, Eva, and told Emma she was a new baby. As you can see in the picture, Emma was infatuated! She talked about "new baby" nonstop all night long!

Emma and I went downtown to check out San Diego's new fountain splash pad. It's huge and beautiful and only about six inches deep, so it's perfect for small kids.

With all that clean water to play in, of course all she wanted to do was play in a mud puddle she found. Ha!

It was a fun way to beat the heat!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Weekend Getaways

We recently had a couple of fun weekends away from home.  We spent two nights and days at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center, where Dan's junior high and high school retreat is held each year.  It's only a 45-minute drive from San Diego, which is nice since it's an easy distance with a toddler.  The retreat center coordinator had given Dan some vouchers to use personally, so we used them for a family retreat. It was lots of fun, although a bit awkward sometimes to be there on our own since the place was packed with youth groups.  Everyone around us was obviously on a schedule that had them playing group games outside in the morning, meeting in the conference room for devotionals in the afternoon, etc.  We were gloriously unscheduled and had no agenda for our days except mealtimes, since meals were provided in the mess hall at specific times.  Emma had a cold, but it didn't stop her from wanting to explore everything!

Our second getaway was to Fort Worth, TX, to visit my parents and brother, Paul.  We normally have a family reunion with my mom's side of the family during Labor Day weekend, but it was cancelled this year since most of the extended family wasn't available all weekend.  Instead, we had a really nice, relaxing weekend at my parents' house and our extended family joined us that Monday for one big meal.  Emma, my mom, and I also spent a few hours with my cousins Tricia and Emily and their kids. We're so glad we got to spend time with everyone!

Here are some pictures of our getaway weekends.

Standing in front of the office at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center. It wasn't being used for anything specific while we were there, so we spent some time there in the afternoons to get out of the heat and so Emma could entertain herself climbing up and down the stairs.

Hitching a ride from Daddy so she could see all the decorations on the building

Dan hiked up some large rocks with Emma in his arms to get a better view. I wouldn't have attempted it, since with my natural gracefulness, we would've both plummeted off the side.

One of the employees carved bears out of tree stumps. Emma growled at them every time we walked past.

Taking a nature walk. She looks like such a big girl in this picture!

We swam in the pool one day and the water was really cold. I think it took us a full hour to convince her to go in. They had a big water slide that Dan and I took turns going down a few times. 

Emma wasn't a big fan of eating in the mess hall.  We thought she'd love watching all the teenagers, but since she wasn't feeling well from her cold, I think it was just too loud and overwhelming. So we ate outside when it was cool enough.

She did love meeting the animals who lived at the retreat center. They had chickens, horses, and goats!

After such fun days, Emma would pass out in her pack n' play at night. Unfortunately, she couldn't breathe well through her nose, so she'd wake up fussy early in the morning. Like, 3 a.m. early in the morning.  For some reason, she could sleep just fine in our bed, where she immediately laid claim to all the space. This is why she doesn't sleep with us.

We had a fun family retreat!

Our Labor Day weekend was spent in Fort Worth with three of our favorite people.

One of my parents' neighbors had a garage full of toys for all ages. We stopped by to play with their kids, and Emma got to ride a motorized four-wheeler for the first time. She had no idea how to steer, but she loved making it go!

The neighbor's daughter, Marilyn, introduced Emma to sidewalk chalk, which is now her obsession.  She asks to play with "chalk" every single day.

Our extended family came over to my parents' house for lunch on Labor Day. I tried to snap a quick picture of everyone there, but I somehow missed cousins Brad, Remy, Tucker, and Sadie.

Aunt Jane with two of her grand kids, Laura and Jackson.

Emily and Kolby, who are expecting baby #2 in November!

Uncle Brian with grandson, Beckett

Aunt Margaret, and cousins Addi, Tricia, Russell, and Jeff (standing)

Cousins Leslie and Tim, who are expecting their first child in December. Our family is growing fast!