Thursday, December 10, 2015

Exciting News!

The most wonderful thing happened this week - my parents moved from Texas to our neighborhood in Virginia!  After many years of living across the country from everyone, we are now within an hour's drive of almost all of our immediate family.  God has answered our prayers beyond all our expectations, and we're so grateful.  We love that Emma will get to grow up knowing her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Loving our time with both sets of parents!

My parents sold their house in Fort Worth in 3 days flat and had one month to pack and move out!  They spent a few days with us early in November to tour rental houses and make arrangements to live here. Since they don't know the area very well, they decided to live close to us and rent a townhouse a mile and a half away from our place! Yay!

The rest of November was pretty fun, too. We visited my brother Steve, his wife Sheila, and their daughter Meera in Philadelphia the weekend before Thanksgiving.  We had a great time hanging out with them and seeing their home and favorite areas of the city.  They are moving to the Boston area soon, and we look forward to visiting them there, too!

Emma and Meera had a great time playing together. 

We fed the geese at beautiful Wissahickon Creek, Steve's favorite place to run.

We also spent an afternoon at the Franklin Institute 

Looking down on Foucault's Pendulum swinging at the base of the Franklin Institute stairwell

They had a room full of science experiments. Emma got a kick out of the dominoes' chain reaction.

The giant heart with walkways through the arteries. Dan made me walk through it, and it was strange but also pretty cool.

We went out to breakfast before Dan, Emma, and I headed back to Virginia.

They are such a sweet family! We loved spending the weekend with them!

We've tried to do something festive every weekend in December, and the highlight so far has been walking through the Norfolk Botanical Garden's 2 miles of Christmas lights.  They let you walk along the path for one week before they open it to cars only.  I loved walking in the fresh air and spending extra time enjoying the beautiful decorations.

Emma walked almost the entire 2 miles!

Dan's parents were able to join us, too. 

A word to the wise - get there right when they open because it's a very popular venue. We got right in at 5:00 with no problem, but within an hour, the line of cars to get into the parking lot was incredibly long and slow.

We spent Thanksgiving day with family and friends at Dan's parents' house.  There was great food and fun company, as always!

Naomi and Emma ate their gourmet Thanksgiving dinner of bread and cheese.

The rest of us enjoyed a wider variety of food.  Left to right: Christina, Pete, Joyce, and Kimberly King, Mom Jester, and Joan (their next door neighbor)

Left to right: Nas and Pat Bailey, and Dan's sister, Robin

We were haunted by two very cute Thanksgiving ghosts!

Robin holding her adorable 7-month old, Miriam.

The day after Thanksgiving, Dan's cousin, Jon, his wife, Carrie, and their kids, Dylan, Tucker, and Chloe stopped by for lunch.

Emma and Chloe quickly bonded over all things pertaining to Disney princesses. Chloe is giving Emma a ride on the princess-mobile.

Mom Jester had an "I Spy" board game that Dylan, Tucker, and Chloe enjoyed playing.

A family photo for the holidays. Mom J. bribed Emma to smile by promising her chocolate afterwards. Hey, whatever works!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Best Season

I'm not sure about you, but my favorite season is definitely fall.  We had 10 years of mostly fall-like weather in San Diego, but it's not the same as finally coming to the end of a long, hot summer and having the excitement of cooler weather and the holidays!

Speaking of the holidays, we ended the summer with our annual Labor Day family reunion in Texas.  We had a great time spending time with the people we love, and our extended family continues to grow each year. It was fun to meet the babies who were born since the last time we saw everyone.

My Uncle Brian and Aunt Margaret host the reunion at their beautiful ranch house every year.

Emma loved the horse-shaped tire swing in the yard.

She and cousin Laura had a great time driving in the Jeep together, too.

The kids and adults fished and rode the boats around the pond.

Emma and Laura are taking a pretend kayak ride. They were big buddies all weekend.

New babies!  Left to right, cousin Emily holding Samuel, cousin Leslie holding Shepherd, and sister-in-law Sheila holding Meera

So sweet!

This was the first time we got to meet my brother, Steve, and sister-in-law, Sheila's daughter, Meera.  She is such a sweet, happy baby!

I kind of like her. :)

After a couple of fun days, we took off our cowboy gear and said goodbye to Texas.

Back in Virginia, we've had play dates with our friends, Jenna and Elisha

Two little monkeys

Emma has mixed emotions about Elisha. Some days, she sees him as a threat to her toys and personal space, and other days, she loves playing with him. Elisha is laid back and loves everyone, and he is so confused by their on-again, off-again relationship. I just tell him to get used to it, because it will only get more confusing in the future.

She loves dressing like a princess, and sometimes she acts like one, too.

 But sometimes the princess throws a fit on the kitchen floor.

 Emma has been sick an awful lot the past couple of months.  Preschool has taken a toll on her and she's caught several colds, which have sometimes turned into ear infections.  She had a chronic ear infection last month that didn't go away after two rounds of oral antibiotics, so she had to get some pretty painful antibiotic shots.  

Showing her "owie" from her shot.

Last week, we ended up at urgent care late at night when Emma had a severely painful UTI. Between the catheter and her shot, she fell asleep exhausted on the examining room floor.

Our poor baby

The UTI set her back some, but she had been going to the potty about 50% of the time. A little while ago, I let her try on some underwear since she had been doing really well that day. A few minutes later, she called out, "Look! I made an "F"!"  Sure enough, she had wet her underwear (standing right in front of the potty, mind you) and somehow peed the letter "F" on the carpet. Ha!

I went away on my own for the first time since before Emma was born. October 19th was the one-year anniversary of my brother, Paul's, death, so I flew to Texas to spend the weekend with my parents and brother, Steve. It was a very strange feeling to get on an airplane without Emma and Dan for the first time. Although it was by far the most relaxing travel experience I've had in over two years.

After they dropped me off at the airport, Dan and Emma stayed there playing for about two hours. Between the escalators, stores, and curved benches, Norfolk International Airport became Emma's favorite playground. She would walk from one end of the bench to the other, lift her arm, and say "ta da!"  

My parents, Steve, and I had the best time in Texas that weekend. We brought flowers to Paul's grave (the tombstone hadn't been placed yet), watched old home movies and photo slideshows, and just reminisced about Paul together. We also played games, ate great meals, went to church, enjoyed walks and runs, and just appreciated being together. 

While I was away, Dan took Emma on the Jamestown-Scotland ferry on their way up to Williamsburg. 

They spent the weekend at Grandma and Grandpa Jester's house and Emma had a blast playing with her cousin, Naomi!

 The following weekend, I joined some of my coworkers for the Light The Night Walk to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Dan's school has a very good girls' volleyball team. They were undefeated in the metro conference and won the regional tournament for the 4th year in a row! We've enjoyed watching their games this season.

Before we knew it, it was Halloween! We drove to Williamsburg to go trick-or-treating with Dan's family. Left to right in front: nephew Aaron dressed as "Bullet Man" (he made up his own superhero!), Emma dressed as Cinderella, and nephew Josiah dressed as a dinosaur with a pistol. 

Dan's sister, Robin, and her daughter, Miriam, dressed as Celia and Mike Wazowski from Monster's Inc.

Robin's husband, Rob, and their older daughter, Naomi, dressed as Sully and Boo. Boo was not happy about her costume.

But she had a good time riding around the neighborhood in her cousins' car.

Dan earned all of Emma's candy since he carried her around the neighborhood.

She kept saying "I'm a beautiful princess!" Yes you are, sweet girl.