Saturday, September 16, 2017

Goodbye to Summer

I know that summer isn't technically over, but it sure feels like it once school is back in session.  We had a good August and made the most of spending time with family and friends last month.

We had special visitors from Texas! My mom's sister, Aunt Jane, and her brother and sister-in-law, Uncle Brian and Aunt Margaret came to Virginia to see our new homes. It was fun to spend time with them while they were here! 

Our friends, Dave and Cynthia, and their girls, Olivia and Kailey, discovered the coolest library.  Slover Library is in downtown Norfolk, and has the best kids center and programs I've seen in a long time.  We met them there one day and our kids had a blast playing and reading books.

Olivia and Emma exploring the toddler climbing area. They were technically too big to play there, but they were "helping Hallie learn to play."

Hallie needed some help. She wasn't quite ready to climb and crawl, and just sat wherever we put her with a "What do I do now?" expression on her face. 

But there was another section at the library that was full of toys, puzzles, a play kitchen, and baby dolls. This was much more Hallie's style!

We had been meaning to have play dates with some of Emma's school friends over the summer, but her surgery and recovery time threw a kink in that plan.  We did squeeze in one play date with her  friend, Elisha. Hallie wasn't quite pulling up at that time, but she was determined to eat some of that good-looking play doh. 

Elisha's mom, Jenna, distracted her with a bottle of milk

 And the 4-year-olds got to play in peace for a little while.

In house news, we made some big furniture purchases this month. We took outings to several furniture stores to look at couches, ottomans, and tables for our den.  Dan, Hallie, and Emma are doing their due diligence to test out this couch (which wasn't the one we chose, ultimately).  We narrowed it down to two couches and when we looked online for the dimensions, we stumbled across Coleman Furniture's web site (a mail-order only furniture company). Coleman carried one of the couches we were considering for hundreds of dollars less than at the store!  They also carried the ottoman and matching tables we wanted for less.  So we made out like bandits by trying out the furniture in-person and then paying a significantly lower price online.  Best of both worlds!  We have waited over a month for the furniture to be delivered, but it should arrive at our home very soon.

Emma had no infections following her surgery in July (thank you, God!), and she had a final procedure to remove the stent from her left ureter. Dan had to lead teacher training that day, so he couldn't come to the hospital.  But Emma was well-supported by Grandma and Grandpa Jester and Papa Campbell.  They were watching Paw Patrol with her in the waiting room before she was called back.

Once she got into her hospital PJs, she got to play in the toy room. That's always the highlight of her surgery and procedure days. The stent removal was quick (about 10-15 minutes), although she had to wake up from anesthesia afterwards. We are continuing to pray that she doesn't require any more surgeries in the future!

I took the girls to Dan's parents' house to visit them, and Dan's sister, Robin, and her girls, Naomi and Miriam. The traffic was backed up on the highway, so we took an alternate route through the country and rode a ferry to Williamsburg. 

It was Hallie's first boat ride.  Both the girls loved it and got a kick out of the seagulls that followed the ferry across the river, looking for bread from the commuters.

When we got to Grandpa and Grandma's house, the cousins enjoyed swimming together.

And Grandma had bought special water color books for them to paint after dinner.

 Speaking of special things with Grandma and Grandpa, they took our girls to Hunt Club Farm in Virginia Beach one day when they were babysitting.  Hallie got to go, too, but since she's too young to really participate, all the photos are of Emma. :)

Emma says "Moooooo"

There were goats to pet

Birds to feed

And ponies to ride!  They had bigger ponies, but Emma wasn't interested in a ride until she saw this one that was just her size. She had such a fun day!

Emma (and Dan) started their first day of school on August 23rd.

She is a Pre-K-4 student with a whole year under her belt at Stonebridge School! Such a big girl.

The party starts at our house when Dan and Emma come home from school.  He, Emma, and Hallie love to play while I fix dinner.  They were playing hide-and-seek one evening, and he found a tricky spot to hide. :)

Emma had to try it out, too, of course! We've got the best dad and husband in the world.

And that wraps up the summer.  Dan is back to his regular busy school schedule, and Emma is attending Pre-K four days a week.  Hallie and I spend my day off together on Tuesdays. We are volunteering to help in the church nursery for an hour each Tuesday while there is a Bible study in session. Well, I help, and Hallie crawls around trying to pull the other babies' hair and "get their noses." For some reason I don't think she has made any friends. On Fridays, I get Emma and Hallie at home, and so far, we've done something fun with friends and family each week. We miss summer, but we're back in the swing of things and enjoying that, too.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Happy First Birthday, Hallie!

We asked our good friend, Cynthia, to meet us at the park to take one-year-old photos of Hallie.  We wanted to capture how sweet and fun she is at this age!

Hallie lights up when her Daddy enters the room. He can always make her giggle and I have a feeling she is going to be a big Daddy's Girl.

However, when she's sleepy or hungry, she's still Mommy's girl! We will get to spend Tuesdays together this year while Dan and Emma are at school, and I'm looking forward to having special time with Hallie. 

Hallie is already determined to follow Emma everywhere! They love each other so much, and we pray that they will be best friends as they grow up together.

Birthday pictures aren't complete without a smash cake! Hallie was much more interested in the candle than she was the cake.

Her expression after she touched the sticky frosting with her fingers. She is such a girly-girl, just like her sister. Haha!

She finally made a little mess, but wasn't interested in even tasting the cake. We were laughing at her chewing on her candle, and she started laughing with us. She already has the cutest sense of humor!

Pretty as a picture!

Hallie, you have been a gift from God to our family this year.  It's been a challenging year in several ways, and you were the biggest highlight on our toughest days.  You learned to be flexible at an early age, and because we sometimes had to be away, you bonded with your grandparents in a way that warms our heart. You have the cutest, most contagious smile and laugh. We love you and can't imagine life without you! We pray that God will bless you throughout your life and that you will love Jesus with all your heart. 

Eleven Months!

Hallie began crawling last month and she learned to pull up this month, which means we need to seriously increase our baby-proofing measures. Dan had to dig two marbles out of her mouth, and I had to make her spit out a piece of already-chewed gum she found on the ground outside (gag!). She toppled and shattered a glass lamp in one of our bedrooms (thankfully, she didn't have a scratch on her!).  And electrical cords, book shelves, and small choking hazards are her favorite things to explore when we have our backs turned. It's been an adventure!

Since she's learned to crawl, she fights every single diaper change.  It's exhausting.  I sometimes have to call Dan for backup when she's got a dirty diaper so the stuff doesn't get flung everywhere during our wrestling match.  I remember Emma going through this phase, and I'm looking forward to Hallie getting past it!

She continues to be a good eater most of the time.  She prefers finger foods over pureed foods, but doesn't eat enough of the finger foods to fill her belly.  So I usually give her as much of the baby food as she'll tolerate, then top her off with finger foods.  Her favorite pureed foods are meats and yogurt, but she also eats fruits and vegetables well. She doesn't enjoy baby food grains like rice or oat cereal as much, but she makes up those carbs with her finger foods.  Her favorite finger foods are Cheerios, pizza (we give her the crust to chew on), and ice cream.  She's a girl after my own heart!

She's really started to communicate with us this month and it's the cutest thing!  She waves hello and goodbye (and sometimes says "bye bye"), signs "all done" and "more", and says "night night", "mama", "dada", "nana", "ma" (we think that's Emma's name), and "woof woof" (She seems to think all animals say "woof woof". We are working on this). She shakes her head "no" when she doesn't want something, and when we tell her "no", she waves her pointer finger left and right like she's saying "no, no" with us.  When she wants attention, she'll make a "blallallalla" sound by rolling her tongue over and over.  And when we sing "Old MacDonald had a farm..." she says "E-I-E-I-E-I." Heh!

As much as she's enjoying moving around, you'd think she'd be ready to practice walking. Nope. She absolutely hates it when we grab her hands and pull her into a standing position or make her take a few steps. I think she already has control issues. That's fine - I think it's God's way of saving our backs for another month.

She still goes to bed between 7:30-8:00 and sleeps until around 7:00 am. It's a dream come true! Recently, she hasn't fallen asleep in our arms, so we've put her in bed awake and she doesn't complain about it anymore. Another dream come true!

She's started to get separation anxiety, but it doesn't last too long after we leave her at the nursery or childcare.  Speaking of, Hallie just started with a new babysitter, Lauren, and it's going well so far.  My parents will continue to watch her one day a week, and Lauren will watch her the other two days that I'm at work. Lauren has two sons, ages 3 years old and 16 months old, and Hallie really enjoys watching and playing with the boys. They live about a mile from our house, which is such a blessing since I can drop her off right on my way to the interstate!  We asked God to provide a great babysitter in a good location for Hallie, and he did!

Here are some pictures of Hallie's 11th month.

Our fireplace hearth was the first place Hallie learned to pull up. She'd usually get stuck in a plank position and cry for someone to rescue her.

Then, one day she wanted to taste Emma's snack that was sitting on the coffee table, and she made it all the way up to a standing position!

Emma has learned to perch as high as she possibly can if she wants to play or eat in peace nowadays.

Hallie's goal is to leave a trail of destruction wherever she goes.  Her favorite game is called "Throw Everything Out of the Pantry". Or the diaper bag. Or the trash can. Etc. 

Until she falls asleep, and then she is the sweetest, most innocent thing you've ever seen. Also, she will thank the Lord for those long eyelashes someday.

When we reach the point of total exasperation, that scrunchy-nose smile melts us, and she knows it.  Her five teeth are really growing in now, and I think there's a sixth cutting through on the top now.

Grandma and Grandpa Jester came over to our house every Wednesday this month to babysit Hallie while my parents were out of town. They've had a great time together.  Grandma was swinging Hallie in her (very strong) grocery bag. Emma wanted to have a turn, too, but we didn't think it would survive a 4-year-old.

Hallie absolutely loves to play in water!  If she's ever really fussy, I know that some good splash time will cheer her up and help her sleep well.

The girls were both really whiney one day, so I took them outside to play with sidewalk chalk and bubbles.  It turns out that when you mix chalk with a wet, soapy sidewalk, you get wet, sticky, chalk-covered kids. Go figure.

So we threw them both in the tub, which turned out to the most fun time of the day. :)

Bath time makes this girl so happy!

We celebrated Hallie's birthday a week early since all our family and friends were available to come to her party that weekend.

We partied at Dan's parents' house and enjoyed their deck and pool in the beautiful warm weather.

We had pizza for lunch. Hallie's favorite!

Papa and Nana got to come, right before they left town for a couple of weeks.

Dan and I with the birthday girl

The kids enjoyed the pool, although the water was a little chilly that day.

So we jumped in the hot tub to warm up for a while.

We sang to Hallie over a brownie cake and ice cream.

And she had lots of helpers during present-opening time!

Now that Hallie can get to most things, it's her personal goal to be in the middle of whatever Emma is doing. As you can see, Emma takes it really well. Ha!

But they often really enjoy playing together

Sister hugs!

We absolutely adore our 11-month old!