Monday, September 30, 2013

Emma: 1 Year!

Dear Emma Jane,

Happy birthday sweet girl!!  I absolutely cannot wrap my head around the fact that my "baby" is technically no longer a baby.  You are a toddler now!  Is that possible?  On one hand I feel like you were just born and you are my tiny little baby.  But on the other hand I feel like you have been in our lives forever, and I can't even picture our family without you in it.

You have made such strides this past month, and while it is all so new and exciting, there is no denying that watching you grow up right before my eyes is also bittersweet.  This precious stage of life is one that I wish I could bottle up and keep forever.  You are so happy and smiley; always such a sweetheart. I must admit that it hurts my heart just a little bit to watch this baby stage slipping away.

But on the other hand I love, love, love watching you discover new things!  On the day of your party, you decided to climb steps for the first time.  You got all the way to the top too!  And it was hilarious because then you would turn around to see how far you had come, and you would laugh and laugh.  It's officially time to bring the baby gates out!

And on your actual birthday you took your first steps with walking toys!  You have been pulling yourself up on furniture and cruising for a while now, but you just started actually walking forward with your toys!  It usually ends the way it did in this video, but you never seem to mind:

Your newest fascination is saying "Hi" to everyone!  You love it, and whenever we go out to eat or you see anyone at all, you say "Hi" to them over and over and over again.  And you have the little wave to go with it!  It's a big crowd pleaser and so very cute :)

You also can mimic a kissy face and you make the little kissy noise to go with it.  I cannot help but laugh every time.  I have yet to capture that one on video, but I have one picture of it:

Now that you are officially one year old and have 6 teeth, I have stopped pureeing your food.... and stopped nursing you.  You are able to eat soft table food with no problem, so the days of mashed food are over!!  And as far as nursing, we were down to once a day (before bed) for several weeks, and your actual birthday night was our last night of breastfeeding!  We gave you bottles of breast milk mixed with whole milk before bed for a few days after that, and boy do you love your bottles!  Your little fingers turn white with your death grip around that thing, and Lord help the person who tries to take it away from you!

But those bottles before bed were just a transition thing and we have now cut those out too.  You eat your dinner, have a drink (of water or whole milk) with dinner and then you are good to go until morning!  Thankfully, just like your sister, you had no issue with the cessation of nursing.  I feel like a year is a good age to stop, and that is one of the reasons.  (In other news, Mommy has her body all to herself for the first time in 3.5 years!!  Not pregnant or breastfeeding...woohoo!!!)

You wake up around 7:30, take 2 naps a day, and then are back to bed around 7:30.  And you remain an excellent sleeper.  There is never any crying when we lay you down.  You grab your trusty purple blanket, turn on your side, shove that thumb in your mouth, and that's it.  It is so very different than our experiences with Addy.  She used to cry before she feel asleep at almost every nap time.  You, on the other hand, never do. 

You are always so happy and pleasant when you wake up.  Half the time I don't even realize that you are awake until I look in the monitor and see you sitting there, patiently waiting for someone to come and get you.  Here you are on the morning of your birthday:

Your beautiful eyes are still a grayish blue, although it is often hard to tell in pictures because your smile is so big that your eyes are squinted :)  Here is a photo that I caught in between tears showcasing your grayish blues:

I love your little tongue!

Here are your 12 month stats:

Weight: 18.75lbs (35th percentile)
Length: 29.75 inches (70th percentile)
HC: 46cm (80th percentile)

Your official 12 month picture:

And then here are a few that I grabbed on your birthday:

Yup, we had props and everything ;)  You got your own chair!

Sweet one :)

Flower power!

You really love your new baby, although it looks like you are about to heave her in this pic ;)

Caught ya mid laugh!

Emma, you have brought more joy and happiness into our everyday than we ever thought possible.  I never want to forget you at this age, as you are the essence of the word precious.  Your infectious giggle, your gap toothed grin, and your sunny disposition remind me daily of how blessed I am that God chose me to be your Mommy.  I could not have asked for anything more in this life.  You are one amazing little lady and this family is lucky to call you ours.  

Your big sister adores you every bit as much as Daddy and I do.  Here is the moment we became "us":

....And a year later:

Happy Birthday to my Sweet One.  It has been an amazing first year and I am so excited for the many, many years to come.  I love you to the moon.... and back.



Thursday, September 26, 2013

September Self Portrait

A large part of this month was dedicated to party preparation for Emma's first birthday!  We went all out for Addy's first birthday, and I wanted Emma to have a day that was just as special.  

I went through every picture that we have from the past year and picked out a few (or 225) that I would use for a little "Emmy slide show", and then I went through all of our music to pick out the perfect songs to play alongside the slide show.  I love showcasing how much they change in a year's time.  It's so fun to look back on all of those moments that seem like only yesterday, and at the same time seem like a million years ago.

The theme for the party was "Lace and Southern Grace", thought up by Uncle Jay :)  It was the perfect theme for our dainty little lady the month after we moved from North Carolina.  We served up traditional Southern food like BBQ chicken, mac and cheese, and cornbread.  And we had sweet tea and homemade lemonade.  Tina and I put some little lace bands on a bunch of mason jars that we bought for people to drink lemonade out of, and they turned out really cute!

So here I am, hot glue gun in hand, putting some finishing touches on the mason jar project:

Our color scheme was yellow and pink, so we ordered pink straws for the mason jars, and the lemonade would obviously be yellow.  I got pink and yellow candy, decorations, flowers, tablecloths, etc.  It was all inspired by the awesome invites that were designed by Lemonade Design Studio on Etsy.  Tina's pictures combined with Monica's invite design made for the cutest little invitations I have ever seen!  And then the cake, oh the cake!!  It was the most beautiful cake, and so very perfect for Emma's big day.  Tina ordered it from The Couture Cakery and Jasmine did an AMAZING job!

The party turned out really well, and I think everyone (especially Emmy!) had a great time.  One of the wonderful things about being back in PA is that more of our family can come to these events without it being a major hassle for everyone.  I am so glad that Emma was able to celebrate her first birthday in style, surrounded by her loving family.  We are so blessed!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Addy: 2.5 years!

Dear Addy,

I have been meaning to write you this letter for a few weeks now (since you technically turned 2.5 almost 2 months ago), but with the move to PA things got a little hectic.  But now we've been here for a few weeks and we are starting to really settle in and make PA our home.  In fact, today is the first day of your second year of preschool!  In a matter of minutes you and your sister will wake up for the day, and I will make you pancakes to celebrate your first day of school (just like I did last year, and hopefully will continue to do for years to come).

I can't believe we are about to start your second year already!  It seriously feels like yesterday that you started at the YMCA preschool in NC.  You were so excited to see the geese that morning in the parking lot, ha ha!  Your backpack was as big as you were and it almost tipped you backwards when you wore it.  You did really well on that first day and you were so very excited for school.

First Day of Preschool ever!  9/11/12

First day of second year of preschool! 9/10/13

This year, your sentiments are very similar to last year.  You have a bit more hair than you did back then, and your vocabulary has grown by 1000%, but you are that same excited toddler!  You are so excited to "meet new friends".   One of my greatest joys is relishing in your excitement over life.  It is truly amazing :)  And I believe that we picked the perfect time to move, because you are too young to really "miss" people yet.  When we talked about preschool the first time you mentioned Marshall and Brandon, some of your classmates back in NC.  I told you that they weren't going to be in this school.  It was a new school and you were going to meet new friends.  Your face lit up, and you clapped your hands and cheered "New friends!!!"  And you never looked back.  It makes me sad to think that you will grow up and won't remember living in NC.  But at the same time, that is for the best.  PA is your home now, and it will be all you ever know :)

So Addy, my little chatterbox, what can I say about you as a 2.5 year old?  One of the first things that people always comment on is your outstanding vocabulary.  People are constantly asking me, "Are you sure she's only 2?"  You are speaking clearly and in full sentences, and have been for months.  Almost everyone that meets you is astonished by how well you speak and articulate what you want.

It's also so amazing to me the things that you retain.  Getting to witness you learning is so much fun.  The other day for example the neighbor kids were running down the sidewalk and you cupped your hands around your mouth and yelled, "No running on the concrete!!!  You might fall and get a boo boo!!!!"  You used the word concrete and everything.  You never cease to amaze me little lady.

Along those same lines, you are smart as a whip.  Too smart for your own good sometimes.  We knew how bright you were from early on, and I remember Pap telling Daddy and I way back when you were a baby that we were going to have our hands full with you.  And boy is that the truth.  You have a mind of your own and already you are having very distinct opinions on outfits, shoes, etc...

You push the limits at every opportunity to see what you can get away with.  Remaining consistent with you is one of the hardest things to do, but it is so very important, especially right now when you are learning all about how the world works.  But you are already trying to bargain with us on a daily basis, and you bat your eyes and say please like an old pro.  I have to laugh and shake my head at how good you are at this game already.  In general, you are an excellent kid, but like any other, you can throw a tantrum with the best of them and you spend your fair share of time in time out.  But then you apologize and we do our best to move on.

And of course your energy seems endless.  If I had a nickel for every time you said, "Mommy let's run!"  or "Mommy, let's jump!", I'd be a rich lady!  You love to play outside, but especially with older kids.  You are much more interested in the 5-7 year old age group than you are your own.  I think you see yourself as their age....seriously!  You loved Sophie and Jenna, our neighbors in NC, and now you love Maggie, the 5 year-old that lives next door to Aunt Tina and Uncle Jay.

We potty trained you about 3 months ago and it has been going very well.  It wasn't all that tough once we realized we needed to wait until you were ready.  Every morning I would ask you if you wanted underwear or a diaper and every day you said, "diaper", until one day you loudly exclaimed "Undies!!!"  I have to admit that I was surprised, as that question was just part of our morning routine and I often didn't even realize I was asking it.  But that fateful Monday in June was when the potty training officially began.
(Don't mind that the underwear says Friday...I'm sure it was our third or fourth pair of the day by that point.  It was summer, so we ended up spending a lot of time outside to lessen the cleanup.)

We went with the method of putting you in underwear, giving you as much juice to drink as you wanted (which was A LOT, because you never have juice), and taking potty breaks every 30 minutes.  It was a full three days without leaving the house, but that was about all that it took.  You were a champ.  Of course, you still had accidents after that (especially with poop unfortunately), but you got the concept.  And now you have an accident here and there, but they are becoming less and less frequent.  Maybe one every few weeks.  You still wear a diaper to bed, but 4 out of 5 times you wake up dry, it's just our hesitation to take that next step of wearing underwear all night.  You wear underwear for every nap and haven't had an accident in a long time, but there is a big difference between two hours and twelve.

You went to the doctor about 2 months ago for your well checkup and here are your stats:
Weight: 31.75 lbs (85th percentile)
Height: 37.25 inches (85th percentile)
Head Circumference: 49.5 cm (85th percentile)

You are a very healthy, happy little girl, and your laughter is contagious.  You love to sing and dance, and your current favorite tune to belt out is Farajaka.  You always seem be smiling and laughing...until the camera comes out.  Then we are hard pressed to get anything other than this lovely squinty-eyed, head tilted, fake smile from you....
This is you this morning before your first day of Two Year Old Preschool.  Don't worry, I kept snapping away until we got a good shot....

Another standout characteristic of yours is that you are extremely empathetic.  Your teachers last year commented on it and now your teachers this year did too, after only the first day!  They said that when other kids were crying you were the first to go over to them and give them a toy to help them feel better.  You have such a sweet heart and I adore that about you :)

Now, things aren't all wine and roses with you these days.  Toddler hood is no joke, and this age is dubbed the "Terrible Twos" for a reason.  You try my patience every.single. day.  Sometimes I wonder how we'll even make it until the end of the day.  Especially come that magical 6:00 hour.  You are so tired from the day that your most epic meltdowns usually occur around dinnertime.  Sleep is your friend, and if you get enough of it our days go a lot smoother.  But if you are up early (before 7AM) or don't nap well (or at all) then look out...Hurricane Addy will be plowing through the house!  You still take one afternoon nap per day but an hour is about all that I can hope for.  That is typically how long you sleep.  Sometimes, if you give me a heavenly 2 hours or so, it seems to directly correlate with a better afternoon mood... for both of us ;) Whereas, if you are in your crib and don't sleep at all.... well, you can guess what those afternoons are often like ;)

Speaking of cribs, yes you are over 2.5 years old and still in a crib.  Some say that is too old for a crib and in certain situations I would a agree.  However, you like your crib and you never try to climb out.  And being that we now are living in Tina and Jay's house and your room is in the basement, a full two floors below Daddy and I, I would feel very uncomfortable with you in a bed, knowing that you might be wandering around down there getting into who knows what at all hours of the night.  It is safer for you to remain in a crib until we move and Daddy and I are sleeping within a closer proximity to you.  Plus, there has been a lot of change over the past month, and your crib provides comfort to you amidst all of that change.  It's something familiar, and we're going to stick with it for now.

Thinking about everything that has been going on for you lately makes me realize that you handle change amazingly well.  Now, it may be your age, but you just seem to roll with whatever is going on.  You have slept in so many different places in the past month: NC, Tina's, Pittsburgh, Pop's cabin, Grandma's, and Pap and Grandma's.  And you are fine wherever you are.

In fact, you seem to thrive in new places.  No one would ever call you shy.  Outgoing is another perfect word to describe you.  You are your Daddy's daughter in that you find friends wherever you go.  You never hesitate to go right up to new people, introduce yourself and ask them if they want to play with you.  There is something so precious about that childlike innocence, thinking that everyone that smiles at you is your friend.

You are so much fun and I want to include a little glimpse of you from the past six months, so here we go!

Here you are on your second birthday!!!

February: Off to school!

February: Please Touch Museum

March: First attempt at pigtails!

March:  Marshall's Easter Egg Hunt!

March: Excited to play outside!

April: Hittin' up the mall :)

April: Rock star in the making!

April: You were all about the sunglasses this month!

May: Strawberry picking!

May: Enjoying the North Carolina summer :)

May: Last day of "Transitional Two's" preschool!

May: Watching the neighborhood Memorial Day parade! 
 (To this day, you still remember my "parade outfit", which consisted of a red tee-shirt and jean shorts.  Every time I wear that tee-shirt you remind me that it is my parade outfit.  Ha ha!)

June: Pool time!

June: Excited for summer camp!

June: Dress up :)

July: Cheering for Daddy's softball team!

July: Swinging!

August: Summer fun at Grandma's house :)

August: Getting ready for our last play date before the big move!

August: Football season has begun!

September: Back to School!

So there you were over the past 8 months :)  Looking back at these pictures is so much fun because it reminds me of all of the wonderful times we've had so far, and makes me excited for a lifetime of memories yet to be made!

I absolutely adore you Addy, and even on our toughest days, I wouldn't trade this life for anything.  You are a smart, funny, compassionate little girl and you are beautiful inside and out.  I love you forever and for always!



Monday, September 2, 2013

August Self-Portrait

Deciding on what to do for my August Self Portrait was pretty easy, because this month was totally consumed with moving this family of four from North Carolina to Pennsylvania.  I made three (yes three) trips back and forth between NC and PA in the month of August alone!  To say that I am exhausted is an understatement.

Not to mention that, like my sister, I like order and organization in my life, and it is just plain not possible right now, which is a bit stressful.  We are so incredibly blessed that Tina and Jay have selflessly taken us in and opened their doors to us during this time of transition.  It has been truly wonderful and their house is prefect for all of us :)  It will be nice though, when we sell our NC house and are able to buy one of our own up here in PA.  I just want all of our things to be in one place!  Right now we have stuff in our NC house, stuff in storage, and stuff in Tina and Jay's house.  Which means we are constantly wondering where things are.  Annoying, but I keep reminding myself that it's only temporary.

A huge part of the current stress is our unsold NC house.  It is not ideal at all to own a house 7 hours away from where you are living.  Mike and I went back there last week to rent a U-Haul and do a 36 hour power move.  We had been gone from our house for just over a week and when we got back, we discovered that the hot tub had started leaking.  It was NOT a good time in the Hetrick house upon that discovery, let's just say that.  I can still totally picture Mike sitting there at our breakfast of pancakes out of a box (because that was all we had in the house), head in his hands saying, "This is the worst thing that could have happened."  He pushed his plate away and said, "I can't eat right now."  I looked at him, eyes wide, and almost started laughing.  Leave it to Mr. Dramatic to make our leaking hot tub into a life or death situation.  I just shook my head, cleared the table and said, "There are much worse things in life than a leaking hot tub."

But in his defense, we had literally only 36 hours to pack our entire house and move it to PA.  We had NO time to deal with a leaking hot tub.  No time to spend the entire morning shop vac-ing under the deck and calling around to hot tub repair men.  Mike was wayyyyy stressed and I understood.

So back to the beginning.  Tina nicely agreed to keep the girls up in PA so that Mike and I could power through the move alone. But we had to be back by Wednesday so that she could get back to work on Thursday.  We drove to NC on Monday night, arriving there around 2AM on Tuesday morning.

At some point during our trip down we realized that we only had 5% oil life left in the Yukon.  So on Tuesday, amidst the hot tub debacle and the crazy packing schedule, we had to get an oil change on our only vehicle.  Annoying.  So we left the Yukon at the car place and drove the U-Haul to our house to get started on the packing.

 Packing, of course, didn't even start until after noon because we were dealing with the hot tub all morning.  So, come noon, we had the U-Haul and it was time to get started.  I went to put the first box together only to discover that we were 100% out of packing tape.  And we had no vehicle with which to go out and get some.  Sigh.  So Mike looked at me and said, "You're going to have to ride your bike to go and get some."  OK, no problem.  Except I haven't ridden a bike in a good 5 years, so the tires were beyond flat.  So Mike starts hunting for the tire pump.  He finds it, pumps up my tires, and I pedal off.  I got 4 rolls of packing tape (just to be sure) and returned home to start the process.

All was well for a few hours.  I was packing boxes and Mike was loading the U-haul.  We were cruising along like the well oiled packing machine that we are.  That is until he showed up in my doorway and said, "The U-Haul is too small."  Then there was silence.  Are you kidding me???  I remember putting my face in my hands and shaking my head.  This day just kept getting better and better.  "What are we going to do?" I asked.  "Fit as much as we can, and leave the rest for the movers when we sell the house", was Mike's response.  It was fine I guess, but that wasn't part of the plan.  The plan was to take EVERYTHING except our furniture.  Well our plan, despite how well thought out it was, fell through.  We ended up leaving an entire attic of boxes, as well as most of the stuff in the storage space above the garage, and essentially everything in the kitchen.  Five years and two kids later, and the Hetricks accumulated A LOT of stuff!

So here I am, in all my packing glory:

This has been a crazy month to say the least.  Lots of stress, thousands of miles on the cars, and endless hours packing and unpacking.  But we will look back on it some day, shake our heads at our crazy selves, and laugh.  Heck, we already are ;)