Friday, May 26, 2017

A Mommy and Emmy Day

I went to bed on Wednesday night, and I was excited -- I had the day off on Thursday! And no, it didn't mean going on a trip somewhere or even getting to sleep in. It meant a whole 12 hours with my little girl! Since going back to work after my maternity leave, I haven't spent many weekdays with Emmy. I get a glimpse on the weekends of what it is like to spend a whole day with her, but the weekends are usually pretty busy, and I'm not the only one that wants to spend time with her. Of course I have to share with Daddy, and he tends to hog her! :) Needless to say, I was excited to experience just a regular 'ol Thursday with Em. 

Disclaimer: Before Thursday arrived, I did several things to prepare. "Why does someone need to 'prepare' for a day off?" you may ask. It sounds so strange perhaps, but I just knew I would enjoy the time with Em more if all of the chores and items on my to-do list were checked off. So last weekend, I cleaned the house: bathrooms, floors, dusting, all the usual things I try to do once a month every six weeks. Another thing on the to-do list was to swap out Em's 3-6 month clothes. It was time to once again pack up all the adorable onesies, sleepers, and outfits that were now too small. I replaced them with the 6-9 clothes and even the 9-12 clothes, so hopefully everything will fit for the next few months weeks. I also had a list for the grocery store. Knowing that shopping with a baby is not so wonderful, Boomer took the list and did the shopping on Wednesday evening before he came home. It was a big help, especially since he did it in tornado-like rain. Such a trooper! Aside from perhaps a load of laundry, I was ready for a guilt-free day of spending time with Emmy. 

We woke up at our regular time around 6AM and did our usual morning routine. Daddy left around 6:30AM as he always does. I knew he wanted to be home, too, so that's actually how this blog post came about. As soon as he left, I started sending him pictures, the first one of Em playing in our bed (something we usually never do!) Then I kept taking pictures throughout the morning and realized they were great snapshots of our day. Here is what our "Mommy and Emmy Day" looked like!
After playing in bed for just a little bit, we moved downstairs for some rice cereal. Em did very well eating her cereal, but she was also very interested in grabbing the spoon, the bowl, and of course my phone. 
While she was somewhat contained in the Bumbo, I took that opportunity to clip her fingernails. A part of me still nagged to "be productive," and it was something I knew that needed to be done. Her nails grow so fast! Usually I clip them during her Saturday nap -- yes, while she is sleeping! That was a tip I received from other moms, and those other moms are right; it's definitely more tricky when she is awake! Then we loaded up to head to the gym. I don't often work out during the week; usually I only have time on Saturdays and Sundays. With having the day off, I selfishly wanted to get in a workout. It is very convenient that the YMCA offers childcare, and we were there just a little after 8AM when childcare opens. I got an hour in on the elliptical, and before we headed back home, I fed and changed Em. Knowing that it would be past time for her morning nap, I wanted to be sure all the conditions were perfect for her to fall asleep. And sure enough, she did....
After I managed to get her inside and upstairs to her room, she slept for over 2 hours!
An yes, I left her in the car seat. Don't judge! I fully subscribe to the mantra "Don't wake a sleeping baby!" While Em was napping, I showered, pumped, painted my toe nails, and ate a delicious lunch of Easy Mac and homemade sourdough bread. The sourdough bread was a gift from one of the parents at Boomer's school. What a thoughtful family! With Em still sleeping, I even had time to start that load of laundry. 
Just as I was moving the laundry over to the dryer, Em woke up. Knowing that she would be hungry, we tried food again, this time bananas and blueberries. Em wasn't too interested. Like I wrote in my last post, she hasn't quite come around to other foods. Luckily, she takes the rice cereal, but I hope I'm not still pumping when she is in elementary school! As you can see in this picture, her face says it all...
We played around on the floor for a while, until something smelled a little funny. Since she was playing on her tummy, it caused the rare front blowout! Luckily I was close by, so I caught it before it got too bad. But yes, Daddy got a picture of that, too!
It was probably time we got dressed anyway, since by this point it was approaching 1PM. 
We practiced sitting up, and then we went for a walk around the neighborhood. The weather that morning still hadn't quite cleared from the earlier storms, but luckily we had a window of sunshine for our 30-minute loop around the neighborhood. 
It was close to 3PM by now, and I knew it would be time for Em's afternoon nap. In fact, it was probably an hour later than her usual time when she is at Grammy Daycare. After feeding her again (just milk this time), I put her down in her crib. 

I was hoping for another long nap like in the morning, secretly planning to take a nap myself. But less than an hour later, she was wide-eyed, looking at the camera, and babbling away. It wasn't too much after that that Daddy came home! Whew, I was glad, because as fun as the day was, I was excited to have a helper. Now that Boomer was home, my pictures to him stopped, so unfortunately there are no more photos to show of our evening. We went out to dinner at East Coast Wings (yes, again! we love that place!) Then we even stopped for a milkshake at Sheetz. It wasn't a bath night, so after a few minutes of jumping in her exersaucer, it was time for bed. 

As I was reading my book in bed that evening with Em asleep on the video monitor, I couldn't help thinking that the day was pretty perfect. Sure, I didn't get much of a nap, and Em didn't eat her fruits and vegetables, but it was nice to have so many uninterrupted hours with my baby. I'm not naive to think that every day would be like that if I stayed at home. It's hard to know what it would be like -- there would probably be a lot of days like Thursday, and there would also probably be days very different from Thursday. Even so, it made me look forward to my next opportunity for a "Mommy and Emmy Day!"

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thank Goodness for Smart Phones

We are entering the part of the school year where things are starting to wind down and yet it is also very busy! My work schedule seemed to taper off just after UNCG's Commencement. I had two final school visits this past week, but they were both during the work day. Although tours continue to be popular throughout the summer, it has been nice to have some slower days in the office. Boomer is entering the home stretch of the school year, but there are a lot of activities that lead up to graduation. He had evening events almost every night last week -- an academic banquet, then 3rd round of the play-offs for baseball, a county-wide retirement dinner, 4TH round of the play-offs for baseball, and then the school's Baccalaureate service on Sunday evening. To top it all off, he had his proposal hearing on Friday at UNCG, and he has now officially moved on to candidacy! Yay! I am so proud of him and how hard he works in all the different areas of his life. It makes for many long days, many days of only seeing Emerson on the video monitor. I know that is hard for him. Luckily, after his busy week, we were able to enjoy a nice weekend at home, which allowed him to catch up with his little girl. We also extended our Mother's Day celebrations, with a nap for Mommy on Saturday and then dinner at East Coast Wings [a Mother's Day present for Boomer, too, since he loves ECW!] We continued to practice eating from the spoon. Em seems most cooperative with the rice cereal. She is still adjusting to the taste of sweet potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. Over the last few days, she has started to blow raspberries when eating the vegetables, which makes quite a mess! It is hard to 'discipline' her; it's so darn cute! On Saturday, Boomer used her full name in a stern voice, and she burst into tears. Of course that promptly ended the feeding -- we both stifled laughter as we unbuckled her from the Bumbo and cuddled and soothed her. I have been nervous to jump to the more tasty foods, like apples and pears, only because I want to be sure she will still eat the vegetables once she has tried these other sweeter options. Grammy has started to mix the two together [carrots and bananas were on the menu today], and I think it has been successful. You'll notice in Saturday's feeding, Em wore her Appalachian bib from her Aunt Carlin. This past week, we also had a visit from our other favorite Mountaineer, Caro. It's so special to have friends that understand the squirmy-ness and unpredictable-ness of a baby, and they'll settle for dinner on tv trays and an evening of baths and baby talk rather than a night on the town. 

Aside from these photos, the rest of the week has mostly been documented in pictures sent to me from my parents. What would we do without technology?! Em continues to have lots of fun at Grammy and Grandpa's. Grammy gets right down on the floor to play with her, and Em loves sitting and jumping in Grandpa's lap. She is still trying to figure out her furry friend, Sox, but they seem to get along. Sox is pretty protective of Emmy. He usually gets excited when I come to pick her up in the evenings; we have to watch to make sure he doesn't trample her! This past week, I loved getting the photo of Em in the frilly hat. Grammy and her friend Mary dressed Emmy up, and it still makes me laugh to look at it.  

And perhaps the biggest thing this week: Em is sitting up on her own! She has been pushing up from her tummy for quite a while, and she has also been 'crunching' in her car seat -- pulling away from the seat and straining at the straps. You'll see in the last two pictures that Em is sitting up all by herself. She is still a little wobbly, and so Grammy always stays close by. 

I think we have settled into a great routine, and I realize that I am pretty spoiled that Em is with my parents all day. I try not to think about the transition to daycare in the months ahead. For now, I will cherish every photo text and every FaceTime call. Thank goodness for smart phones!

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Just for fun, I'll include one more picture! Coley sent me this photo yesterday, and it shows that just a year ago, we were in Las Vegas eating lunch poolside. And I was 15 weeks pregnant! What a difference a year makes!

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Mother's Day to Remember

This past weekend we headed up the mountain for Aunt Carlin's graduation from Appalachian State University. I always love being back in western NC! The ceremony started at 9AM on Saturday, so it was an early morning for all of the Kennedys. We were on the road a little after 6AM -- eek! After the graduation, we headed back to a house that Cathy had arranged for us to use for the weekend, and it was so nice to enjoy the time with family. With five little ones under the age of 7 (plus eight rambunctious adults!), it was a fun afternoon of chasing, wiping, cuddling, tickling, and laughing. We spent Saturday night in Boone and had a leisurely breakfast before hittin' the road back to Kernersville. Boomer and I have had a handful of overnight trips with Em in the last six months (three nights in a hotel over Thanksgiving and a few weekend trips to Boomer's parents' house). I'd like to think that we are getting more experienced at this whole traveling thing. Even so, it takes a good amount of planning and flexibility with a baby on board. I'm pretty good at the planning part....flexibility, not so much! Boomer would probably tell you there is still room for improvement when it comes to an unexpected spill, a massive blowout, or a disrupted nap. Em is pretty adaptable, and as you can see in the pictures, she caught some zzz's whenever she could. Hopefully with each trip, I will get better at 'going with the flow' like she does. There are not too many occasions that bring all of the Kennedys together, and I know it made for a special Mother's Day weekend for Granny.  
We came back to Kernersville mid-afternoon on Sunday and were able to celebrate Mother's Day with my family, too. Earlier in the week, Emerson attended a special tea at Arbor Ridge with Great Gma, Grandpa, and Grammy. I love that Grandpa and Grammy take her along to things during the day that I may not be able to go to. On Sunday evening, we all got together at their house for dinner. We had a delicious meal (steak -- yum!), and again, it was somewhat of a repeat of Saturday, with chasing, wiping, cuddling, tickling, and laughing. This 'blessed chaos' was exactly what Grammy wanted for her Mother's Day. We also finally got an updated shot of her with her three grandchildren. She definitely has her hands full, but she wouldn't want it any other way! 
In the last week, Em has officially graduated to the big-girl high chair and the umbrella stroller. When I look at these pictures, she hardly looks like a baby anymore! Em has had pretty good head control for a while, but we were still using the Bumbo and the swing for feedings. Grammy now uses the high chair for Em's rice cereal in the morning and then vegetables and fruits in the afternoon. I haven't yet used the umbrella stroller with Em, but Grammy has used it a few times now. For my last walk with Em (tonight!), I still used the car seat/stroller travel system. I love being able to look at Em while we are walking, which is a drawback of the umbrella stroller. The umbrella stroller will be very useful when we go to Texas next month, and it does give her more freedom to kick her [long] legs. Speaking of her legs, we also no longer need a pillow when she is in the exersaucer. She can reach the ground with her tippie toes, and she is quite proud of herself. The other latest new thing is that Grandpa installed a backseat mirror in my car. I was hesitant to put one in, because the firefighter who installed the car seat base said that mirrors were a major distraction for drivers. And I can see why! But especially with our trip to Boone this weekend and even for shorter trips around town, it is fun to check on her. Some of the times when she is quiet, I assumed in the past that she was asleep [and a lot of times, I'm sure she was!], but I see now that she likes to look around or play with her hands. After about 30 minutes though, she will usually knock out! :)
Looking back on the Mother's Day weekend, it was special to celebrate all the moms in my life, and it was also memorable to join this sisterhood of women. This weekend, I watched my sister-in-law Darby wrangle three 'walkers' while also caring for a newborn; I saw my mother-in-law blink back tears as her youngest walked across the stage to receive her college diploma. I watched as my sister cut up bite-sized pieces for her toddler, while paying attention to the urgent requests of her 4-year-old. My own mom blew bubbles with her grandsons, bounced her granddaughter on her hip, planned a delicious meal, was interrupted numerous times while she was eating, and yet had a genuine smile on her face admidst all the chaos. Sometimes I still feel unsure about my ability to 'mother', but I have been so blessed to be surrounded by the support of others [moms and non-moms alike]. I am so thankful for the example of each of these women. And I am thankful for my little family of three: for my husband who affirms me as a mother and for my Em for making me one. It is no doubt the most precious title I will have! <3

Happy Mother's Day! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

6 Months Old!

We had several more milestones this week. It seems like there is something new to write about in every post. On Wednesday, Emerson turned 6 months old. A half a year! The photo shoots are getting a little more difficult, as our little girl loves moving around and grabbing at things. She loves to smile, and I did my best to capture her gummy grin.  
And here are a few of the outtakes...
Wednesday was also the annual Young Life Golf Tournament. This ministry is very special to our family, and Boomer has a big role in organizing and executing the tournament. With careful planning, we were both able to volunteer for the day while also bringing Emmy along. Em got to meet several new people, many that have prayed for her all throughout my pregnancy and now during her first six months. We are so blessed to be a part of such a loving community of believers. Grammy and Grandpa met us at the course, and after lunchtime, they headed back to Kernersville for Em's afternoon nap. Boomer and I stayed on through the tournament and dinner. Both of us were pretty tired from working during the day, but it was beautiful weather and overall a big success. 

On Thursday, we had Em's 6-month doctor's appointment. Our last visit to the doctor's was for Em's 4-month appointment; it has been a blessing that our girl has stayed so healthy throughout the winter and spring. She now weighs 15 pounds, 6.5 oz (36th percentile) and is 27.5 inches in length (96th percentile!) She is following a healthy growth curve, and she continues to be long and lean, like her Daddy. My genes must be in there somewhere, so I think it is likely that her height will plateau at some point. But if not, perhaps we will have a basketball or volleyball player! Grammy has come to most of Em's appointments, and not only does it make for a convenient handoff, it is also helpful in answering the doctor's questions. Grammy knows a lot about Em's daily routine, and she helps me remember any questions that I may have. You'll notice in the photos below that Em had to have a few shots. Each of her appointments have had vaccinations, and luckily after the initial stick and a few tears, Em doesn't seem to be too fazed. I cuddled her for a little bit, and then it was off to Grammy daycare while I went on to work.
We just moved up to size 2 diapers, and Em is wearing 6-9 month clothes. I've noticed over the last few months, she typically outgrows onesies and sleepers first, anything that may restrict her legs. Her feet are also growing quickly; I had to buy several new pairs of socks at Babies R Us this week after the usual 6-8 pairs I had in rotation were getting a little snug. The weather has been back and forth from hot to cold; some days she goes barefoot, and I think it is just the cutest to see her little toes wiggling around! She loves to be active and kick her legs; the exersaucer is one of her favorite activities right now. We are still using a pillow under her feet because she can't quite touch the ground, but even so, she gets a pretty high bounce! The exersaucer has come in handy in the evenings while we are eating dinner and also on the few occasions that I have worked out at home. I'll pop in one of my DVDs and put Em in the exersaucer; she loves watching me and jumping along. Em likes to play hard, but she equally likes her beauty sleep. Bedtime continues to be around 7:00PM to 7:30PM, and she will generally wake up between 5:00AM and 6:00AM. I prefer when she sleeps until 6:00AM, because this is the time I have to get her up anyway when it is during the week. On the mornings when she wakes up earlier, my alarm is her gibber-jabber coming through the monitor. Usually I'll find her looking up at the camera and waiting patiently for me to come in to her room. We sing the 'Good Morning, Good Morning' song (a Mommy original), and then we start our day. We have continued feeding Em rice cereal, and just a few days ago, we introduced sweet potatoes! She has had mixed reactions to the sweet potatoes. Sometimes we are able to get in several spoonfuls; other days, she blows raspberries and thinks the spoon is part of some silly game. We introduced carrots earlier this evening, and that was again met with mixed reviews. The plan is to continue introducing different fruits and vegetables; hopefully Em will become more consistent with taking food from the spoon.
Rewind to last weekend, we took Em to her first Kernersville Spring Folly. It was a chilly May day, but we had fun walking around and eating lots of yummy fair food. We also had a couple of evening walks this past week, and last night we went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Dinner continues to be a challenge, in that it is hard to find time to fit it in, much less actually cook something! Em is also in the in-between stage where she doesn't like being contained in her car seat, but she isn't quite stable enough to sit in a high chair. I think it will be just a few more weeks before she will be ready to do that, so until then, we either pick up take-out, microwave frozen meals at home, or try to entertain our little girl as best as we can at a restaurant. At the Chinese restaurant, we were the only ones there, and Boomer and Em had fun making faces at the mirror. Boomer is a good sport and has gotten quite skilled at eating one-handed. 
As I write this, we are closing out the week but also getting ready for a busy Mother's Day weekend. Laundry is in the dryer, and we are packing for a night away. Tomorrow morning, we will be leaving before the sun comes up to go to Boone for Carlin's graduation. She will be graduating with her degree in Public Relations and English. Congrats to Aunt Carlin! And fingers crossed for a smooth trip!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Babies Don't Keep

I am almost at the three-month mark of being back at work. While things are starting to settle into a routine and there has been a lot of affirmation in returning to the workplace, it's still hard. It's hard every day. Today, I saw a baby on campus about the same age as Emerson, and I nearly broke out in tears. I don't know where it came from, but it just made me miss her. I watched as the baby bobbled around on his momma's hip, just like Em does right now. I wanted so bad to say "I have a baby, too!" or "How old is he? My little girl is about the same age!" I didn't; I just smiled as I walked by. It hit me at a different time last week. On a night that both Boomer and I had late events, Grammy pulled an extra long shift and put Em down for bed. When I called on the way home, again I teared up as my mom told me about their day. It broke my heart to miss so many hours with her. Boomer and I don't have strictly "eight to five" jobs, so there are several nights that one or both of us miss bedtime. There are also weekend events, which mean more time away. When I went back to work in mid-February, I told myself that I would be on my way home right at 5PM, that I wouldn't check my email after I left, but some evenings, that just doesn't happen. It is a struggle to find the balance and to feel like I am spending enough time with her. When she goes to bed, there is a relief that the day is done, but then I realize the short hour or two I had with her passed by in a whirlwind of unpacking, bathing, cleaning, and feeding. It's hard to live in the moment, when the moment is so fast-paced and often rushed. The days are going by, and she is growing so quickly. My sister sent me a picture of my mom and Em at a school luncheon this past Tuesday, and she looked so big. She didn't look like an infant or a newborn. I could hardly believe how much she has changed. There is a sparkle in her eye, and her facial expressions reveal her personality. I love that she is growing, and I love all these changes -- but I don't want to miss a thing.

I think moms, whether working moms or stay-at-home moms, will always feel like there isn't enough time. And as they say, babies don't keep. So for now, I will try to cherish the mornings; I will look forward to the evenings and soak up the weekends. I'll continue to come up with silly songs that make Em laugh and pick out her outfits in hopes of seeing them after work. I'll keep on pumping every few hours, even when it seems inconvenient or impossible to fit in. I'll pump in my office, in my car, and in a closet. I'll try not to groan when I hear those sweet sounds on the monitor in the morning when my little one is stirring. And I'll cherish those [often blurry] photos that I get throughout the day from a loving and doting grandparent whose hands [and heart] are a little more full.

"The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep."



Friday, April 28, 2017

More Birthday Fun

Did I mention that April is a busy month? Last Saturday we continued the theme of birthdays as we celebrated Zander turning 4. He is getting so big! He has been pretty unlucky with weather on his birthdays in the past, but this year was finally a mild spring day. Meg planned a soccer-themed party, complete with table decorations, a cake, and a mini-soccer goal and blow-up balls. Zander plays soccer while he is at school [daycare], and right now it is his favorite sport. He is getting pretty good at kicking the ball (left-footed!), and it is a great activity for an energetic little boy! After Zander's party that morning, I got together with some of my girlfriends to celebrate Katie's and my birthdays. Our birthdays are two days apart, and we have celebrated together many times in the past while in high school and on into adulthood. Katie's little boy Grant is about 7 weeks old, and it was a sweet moment to blow out the candles with both of us holding our babies!
 A few other updates, we are continuing to practice eating from a spoon. Em is doing a great job with opening her mouth and swallowing. I can't take too much credit for the progress; Grammy is the one that has been working with Em each day that they are together. We are still using rice cereal for now, but we plan to introduce fruits and vegetables soon. She still makes funny faces as she moves the rice cereal around in her mouth, so I am curious to see her reaction to sweet potatoes, pears, apples, and carrots! Given the early struggles we had with nursing, I have been nervous about this next stage of eating, but Em seems to have caught on pretty quickly. We are noticing that she is filling out a bit, and it is almost time to move into size 2 diapers. We will probably make the switch in the next few days. Thanks to our wonderful friends and family, we have yet to buy any diapers. My stockpile goes all the way to size 4; what a blessing!
The week has included more jumping in her exersaucer, pants-less walks with Grammy [correction: pants for Grammy, but no pants for Em!], and scooting and rolling around during play time. For the first time this week, Em rolled onto her belly during nap time. I had just put Em in her crib, and I was surprised to look at the monitor and see her on her tummy. Since I usually put her down when she is still somewhat awake, I suppose it was her way of telling me that she wasn't quite ready to nap. Just like a turtle turned on its shell, she didn't seem to know what to do. I quietly snuck back in to her room and gently turned her over; I snuck back out again before she could figure out what had happened. I haven't caught her actually sleeping on her belly yet; her favorite pose is on her back with one hand resting up by her face. She looks so precious while she is sleeping. As I write this, she has been asleep for about 30 minutes. Daddy is at school this evening for baseball, softball, and soccer games, and hopefully he will be home soon. I also had a later evening after an event we had on campus today for high school juniors. It has been a busy week, so I am hoping that we all catch some zzz's this weekend!