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!