Dear Emmalyn

You are four years old.

FOUR!

I am in awe of the little girl you’re growing into.

My favorite moment over the last year has been watching you become a big sister to Adelaide. You jumped into your new role seamlessly, as if you were always meant to be a big sister. Sure, there have been trying times, where you poke her in the ear or pull her socks off. But mostly you just love too hard. You squeeze her with hugs and suffocate her with kisses, but I know it’s because you love her so much. I know this because nearly everyday you make up songs about loving her “sooooo much!” She is quite lucky to have you–to look up to you, always, for life.

Three was both fun and difficult. It was trying because you learned how to push my buttons and polished your tantrum skills. There are things you did and said that I never imagined my own child saying. But you served me up some fresh humble pie and taught me to never judge another yelling mom at Disney. I’m excited to see what interests you develop over the next year. Right now it’s pretty clear you don’t like soccer, but love gymnastics and dance. You love putting on nightly dance recitals before bed for Daddy, Adelaide, and me, and it warms my heart every time.

You are super girly and say things like, “Shirts are ugly. Dresses are beautiful.” I swear I didn’t push you to be stereotypically girly. It’s all you, baby. You had your mind set on a Frozen Tea Party for your fourth birthday party with your girlfriends (and best boy friend) and there was no stopping you! You do jump on opportunities to get dirt under your nails, too, though!

You have gotten super close to your daddy over the last several months, and it’s incredible to watch. At such a young age you already exude kindness towards others, and make me laugh multiple times a day, every day.

I know without a doubt you were born into this world to make me a better person. Before I had you, I was repeatedly stressing over small stuff; I could never just “go with the flow”. But you have put things into perspective for me. You have made me realize that dirty dishes and laundry rank very low on the To-Do list when there are much more important things like saving the princess from the scary dragon in the castle.

Yesterday you told me, “Mama, you’re a good teacher for teaching me.” Emmalyn, I know it’s the other way around.

I love you so much, sweet angel baby. More than you’ll ever know…

Have the happiest fourth birthday!

Love,
Mama

If you haven’t done so already, *LIKE* me on Facebook 🙂
Follow on Bloglovin

Life Lately, in Bullet Points

– I joined a Book Club. So far I’ve read The Fault in Our Stars and The Glass Castle. It’s nice to be involved in something that requires intellectual thought instead of nursery rhymes, for once!

– I think I’ve got this whole breastfeeding thing down. I now feel completely comfortable nursing in public. I really didn’t think I would last as long as I have. And while I don’t have a set goal, I have no intentions of stopping soon. I’m just going to continue until it doesn’t work for our family anymore.

– Adelaide had a blow-out at a restaurant the other night. I prayed to the diaper bag gods that I had a change of clothes for her. Hallelujah! I did!

– Emmalyn fell off the side of the steps in the pool and went straight into her float, called for help, and grabbed the wall. We were both so proud.

– Three year-old tantrums S-U-C-K! Big time.

– I’m doing July’s #independenceARMy & #SunsOutTeekiBumsOut Yoga Challenge on Instagram. It’s been so great getting back into yoga… even if my time is limited and I sometimes have a three year-old crawling all over me. {see: Instagram video} I guess it helps me practice patience, eh? You can follow my journey on my Instagram: @katievanbrunt & at #loyallykatieyoga It’s fun and challenging!!

– Adelaide is an incredible baby! She only cries when she’s wet, tired, or hungry. She sleeps anywhere from 6-8 hours a night. {don’t hate.} She’s a true joy and I love having her in our family.

– Emmalyn is obsessed with Adelaide. It’s almost a little too suffocating. She has a tendency to wake her up with extra hard hugs and kisses. Like, multiple times a day. UGH. Honestly, I’ve tried everything I can think of to get her to stop and nothing is working. Help?!

– I can’t believe school is starting back again. So soon! I just bought Emmalyn’s school supplies. This year, she will be going to school three days a week. I’m excited for her.

– Adjusting to two kids was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. Sure, it’s difficult when both are crying, one is in the bath tub, and the other needs to be fed, but we make it work. The chaos is totally worth having two daughters.

– I said I didn’t ever want to be pregnant again or have more kids than I have hands, but now I’m not so sure…

– I am thoroughly blessed I did not get postpartum depression the second time around. Praise God!

– Having a baby in the summertime is difficult. It limits our daily activities significantly, but we’re making it work.

– I never want Adelaide to grow up! I’m absolutely loving having a baby in the house!

So how has your summer been so far?!

loyally,

katie

Follow on Bloglovin

Our Newborn Photo Shoot

Adelaide at 6 days old 
+
Adelaide crying for over an hour
+
New nursing mommy who doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing
+
Emmalyn with a fever
+
Adelaide peeing on Hubby’s formal uniform
+
One really patient photographer
=
Our Newborn Photo Shoot

It was a stressful one, folks!
I was very adamant about capturing newborn photographs because I never did them with Emmalyn and have truly regretted it, still to this day. Therefore, it was super important to me the second time around. Our sweet family photographer was patient with us for three hours, while I nursed Adelaide three different times, Blake changed in and out of his uniform twice, and Emmalyn tantrumed (yes, that should be a word) and basically refused to participate until we bribed her with chocolate (which I never do)! But desperate times called for desperate measures.
I’m sad we didn’t get pictures of the sisters snuggled together in bed with big matching hair bows, like I envisioned, but Hey! That’s life! Right? I was way too exhausted–‘yanno, with having given birth six days prior–to try and make everything “perfect.”
I am, however, super grateful for the pictures we were able to capture, and even more importantly, that the people in them are healthy and mine and perfect.
Forever.
{hey–at least Indy cooperated! hehe}
loyally,
katie
Follow on Bloglovin

Emmalyn’s 1st Dance Recital

It was a day I will never forget. An emotional one. One filled with joy, pride, relief, and love. 
Emmalyn performed in her first dance recital yesterday. 
Many of you know I’ve been extremely worried over whether I would go into labor just days before her Big Stage debut and have to miss it. I expressed to my husband how devastated I would feel if I couldn’t make it—although I know in the long-run it wouldn’t scar Emmalyn. Friday afternoon was her rehearsal and I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders: I got to see my baby dance on stage, and she got to hear me shout words of praise and squeeze her tightly. I thought to myself, If I go into labor tonight, at least I got to see her dance.

Saturday came and no signs of immediate labor—phew! It looks like I would actually get to see her do “the real thing”. My next biggest fear became if she would pee her pants while waiting backstage. As a former dance teacher, I know how nervous the little ones can be without their mommies and how many bathroom runs I’ve made with them just minutes before they go on stage. I had visions of her walking on stage with wet tights! But alas, she was a rockstar!

She was the fourth number to perform and I couldn’t wait to see her shine under the big bright lights. Just as the teacher was walking the girls on stage, an usher was bringing down a party of six or so people to their seats… in front of us. Oh hell-to-the-no! I was furious! There was no way I was going to let them obstruct my view of my daughter’s big moment. I grabbed Blake and said, “Let’s go!” and ran down the aisle. 

I bypassed Mama Bear and went straight to Mama Ape Shit. My 39-weeks-and-5-days-prego-body physically shoved the usher and group of rude latecomers as I said, “Excuse me. Please move. My daughter is on stage. RIGHT! NOW!” I may not have said it politely, but at least I used polite words…

I knelt down in the middle of the aisle and just completely lost it. I’m not talking about a trickle of tears down my face. I’m talking about releasing a full-on ugly & hysterical cry. 

I told you it was an emotional day!

The whole time I watched my tiny dancer I couldn’t believe she’s actually mine. I clung on to those two short minutes, utterly amazed and motivated by her natural confidence. It’s frightening dancing on a professional Broadway stage, let alone being three and doing it.

She was incredible and stunning and simply captivating.

I was mesmerized. I was so proud.

When I returned to my seat, the water-works didn’t cease. In addition to my heart filled to the brim with love and pride, I also felt a huge sense of relief: I made it. All the worrying and “what-if-I-go-into-labor” dissipated. I made it for my Big Girl.

I was grateful to God for allowing me to be present, and to share in this incredible experience with Emmalyn.

When she came off the stage at intermission, I scooped her up, smothering her with kisses, as she smothered me with black glitter. It was priceless to hear her say, “That was so cool!” As her mother, I will never forget that day.

loyally,
katie

So now that I successfully made it through the recital sans water-breaking, can we please have a baby now?!

Follow on Bloglovin

Only-Child Expiration


I’ve been pretty emotional lately, thinking about Emmalyn no longer being an only child, and how our moments of just “Emmy-&-Me” are fleeting. Really, just thinking about it now—to type these words—is sending me into basket-case mode. It seems selfish to say I’m “mourning” the loss of her being an only-child, when we are about to welcome such an incredible gift into our family, but that’s how I feel. I never imagined or wanted Emmalyn to be an only-child, and having another baby is a blessed miracle come true, but I can’t help but feel insanely emotional over it. Maybe it’s because I’m an only-child, and I’m losing this ‘piece’ Emmalyn and I share together? I’m not sure…
With more-or-less than five weeks to go until we become a family of four {say, what?!?}, I’m desperately trying to make extra lovey-dovey and exciting memories; and freeze these moments, engraving them deep into my marrow. We even went out for ice cream, which if you know me personally, is a big deal for me because I only let Emmalyn eat ice cream at birthdays. I’m carrying this huge bag of guilt around, and am finding myself becoming a pushover when it comes to my soon-to-be Biggest Girl. I want to do everything I can to make her the happiest she can be in these last few weeks of being an Only Child.
Like the other day… I really didn’t want to walk to the park because my big ‘ole belly makes me feel like I’m carrying around permanent 50-lb. weights, but Emmalyn wanted to and I wanted to make her happy. Taking her to the pool by myself over the weekend was also physically exhausting, but the pure look of giddiness on her face and the sound of her non-stop laughter was simply magical. I traded in my permanent weights for a permanent smile across my own face. It made every ache and pain in my pregnant body 100x worth it.
I’ve almoststopped complaining about laying in her bed (for sometimes up to an hour) while she falls asleep, and instead, sit there in silence, replaying her beautiful smile over and over in my head. I know the moments of catching her in a peaceful slumber are becoming less and less frequent. I try to remember her little idiosyncrasies, like how I have to turn every!single!page! in the book at the end even if there aren’t any words or pictures on these pages. Or how her pillow has to be placed just so in order to lay her little blonde head down. Or how she has to pick out the “right” silverware to eat from. The list goes on and on…
I never want to forget these moments with her. 
For the past three-and-a-half years, Emmalyn has been my life—my “best girl,” as I say to her. And in five weeks, her world will be flipped upside down and she will have to share that title. A part of me is sad for her–to have to give up a part of her time with me to share with her little sister. Some days I’m just not ready. Then there’s the other part of me who couldn’t be more ecstatic to witness my two girls become the best of friends, each other’s maid of honors, and partners in crime (even if that involves lying to me and sneaking behind my back)!

I know she’s a happy child and her love-tank is filled. This is only the beginning of some pretty amazing memories being made, so I know I shouldn’t feel guilty. I know it. I do. But I can’t help it. I find myself terribly teary-eyed throughout the day (damn hormones!) over how incredible my little girl is. 
She’s the light in my life; what makes my world so perfect. She’s the greatest gift I’ve ever been given, and I love her more than anything else in the world.

loyally,

katie

Follow on Bloglovin

Conversations With a Three Year-Old

Upon seeing a U.S. Navy flag is someone else’s yard…
Emmalyn: Look, Mommy! They have a flag for Daddy.
Me: It’s for Andrea. She’s in the United States Navy, too.
E: No, only Daddy’s in the Navy.
Me: Well, actually there are a lot of people in the Navy.
E: No! Only Daddy!
Random Girl: I’m from San Diego, but I’m vacationing in {insert where we live}
E: I live in {our new city} but I’m from Orlando.
The Hubs: Emmy, want to play basketball with me?
E: Of course, Daddy!
Duh.
E: That’s putrid!
Not sure what the context was, but I hope it had nothing to do with me!
E: Mommy, you have to eat your breakfast; and you get what you get and you don’t get upset!
At least I know she’s listening!
E: Your belly is going to grow bigger–like a giant!
Greeeeaaat…
E: Mommy, I’ll give you privacy, but then I’ll come back to help you wipe. 
We made a Valentine’s card for my five year-old nephew, & with no prompting from me whatsoever, these are the reasons she loves her cousin…
…he’s my cousin
…he’s big five
…he’s my best friend
…I love him
…we play hide-n-seek
…he makes me laugh
…we play cars
…I love him so big!
E: There’s a burr {sand spur} in my foot, but don’t get it out! It’s my choice!
E: Good morning, Mommy! How’d you sleep last night?
Me: Very well, thank you. How about you?
E: I cried for you in my bed.
Breaks my heart…
E: Thank you for buying me new diapers {nighttime pull-ups} They’re pink, and they’re my favorite!
When she wants me to get out of bed in the morning:
E: Come on, Mommy! Get up! The sun is out!
When she wants to stay in her bed in the morning:
E: Leave me alone! The sun is not out yet.
& there are a lot more where these came from! I’m glad I try to write most of them down in Emmalyn’s not so baby book. They’ll be fun for her to look back on.

Having a three year-old is tough, but it’s also quite funny 😉

Have a happy day!

loyally,

katie

Follow on Bloglovin

Sleep is my Favorite

I love to sleep. There’s no question about that. The only thing I’m dreading about having a newborn in the house again is the lack of sleep I’ll be getting.
One thing I was so blessed with Emmalyn was that she was sleeping through the night at four months old. [Please don’t throw things at me!] I had it ingrained in my head that I needed to “sleep train” my baby to make our lives easier. Honestly, our personal version of “sleep training” Emmy really worked. For us, at least. I would put Emmy down to sleep while she was still awake, and to this day I still believe that was one of the best things we could have done. She’s always been such a good sleeper–walking to her crib/toddler bed and going to sleep on her own.
That is, until now. Or rather, a few months ago.
When we moved this past July, we had a couple of smooth weeks of sleep, where Emmy would crawl into her bed on her own after we read, sang, and said prayers. Then once new things started popping up in her life–like school & dance class, she started putting up a fight over going to bed.
& by “fight” I mean, kicking & screaming & hitting…
It was miserable.
For e v e r y o n e.
We tried a couple of different sleep training “styles” (if you will). 
The first we tried was to lay (or is it lie??) in bed with her for several nights…
…then sit on her bed for a few nights… 
…then sit on a chair in the middle of her room for the next several nights… 
…then on a chair outside her door. 
The point was to eventually not be in her room at all. We didn’t want to get in the habit of lying in bed with her because either the hubs or I would fall asleep, then wake up who-knows-when and miss half (if not all) of our evening together. Not to mention I always felt so groggy after falling asleep in her bed.

This really seemed like it would work, but alas, she just kept getting out of her bed. Some nights she would put up a fight, and others she would simply be a little Miss Chatty Cathy.

I swore I could get the whole “Super Nanny” technique to work for us. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s where you put the child to bed and say, “goodnight and I love you,” then, if & when the child gets out of bed, you don’t say a word, but put him/her back into bed. You may have to do this 20-200 times a night, but with each day it’s suppose to be less and less, until at last they don’t get out of bed at all. I’m telling you I tried this–and I was s o o o o patient and consistent (for well over a month!), but it just didn’t work for us. There are days when I’m still in denial over it not working for us. I was seriously such a firm believer that this was the way to go to get Emmalyn to sleep.
By the time Emmalyn would finally wear herself out and hit the hay, it would be after 10pm!! We would be at this whole bedtime torture thing for over two hours! Not okay.

When you know something isn’t working for your family, you have to take a step back and reevaluate the situation.
So what did we end up doing?

Well, through a lot of prayer & reading, I felt in my heart that it was okay to scratch the whole “sleep training” theory and just.be.mommy.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that Emmalyn is only three–although she talks like she’s seven, and often acts that old, too. Sometimes I just need to cut her a break and treat her like she’s three years-old.
Therefore, our current bedtime routine, starting around 6:30-7pm, is:
1. Bath, brush teeth, pajamas

2. Sit on rocking chair in family room with a dim light & “Relaxation” Pandora

3. Review our letter flash cards

4. Read three books

5. Turn out the lights, but keep the music on

6. Say our prayers

7. Sing lullabies

8. Rock her until she falls asleep
Typically, she will fall asleep within thirty minutes or less (around 8-8:30pm). On a “bad” night, which is pretty rare these days, it can take her closer to an hour. I make it clear to her from the beginning that she either has to rock with mommy or lie in bed (by herself). Of course there are days when she wants to get down and go back and forth between her bed and the rocking chair, but those days are getting fewer and farther between. No matter what though, I stay consistent and don’t let her walk all over me by changing the “rules” on me. This sometimes means being patient while she throws a few tears around until she gets the picture that mommy means business. 
One great piece of advice I got from a family member is to make sure Emmalyn is waking up at the same time every morning. On the two days she goes to school I wake her up around 6:45am, but if I were to let her sleep in on all the other days, she would stay in bed until 8:00am. [again, don’t throw things at me!] I’ll admit, I got spoiled with her sleeping in because it meant this momma could sleep in, too; and it’s been such a luxury to me while being pregnant. However, this inconsistent wake-up made for a really mixed-up bed time because one day she was tired enough to fall asleep at 8:00, but then the next she was nowhere near tired until closer to 10pm! Since waking her up at 6:45 every day (although not every Sunday), our bedtime routine has been so much smoother and more predictible–just how I like it! I also make sure to wake her up from her nap no later than 3:30pm, whether she falls asleep at 1:30 or 2:30. If she sleeps past 3:30, her bedtime is pushed back… causing wifey-hubby-time to be pushed back… no bueno
At first I battled with if this was the “right” way to go about getting her to sleep, since it seemed like we were heading in the opposite direction, but then I realized that this is what works for us. For our family.  I’m tired of reading the judgmental posts I see on Pinterest and mommy blogs that say: “This is what you MUST do to get your child to sleep!” What works for some may not work for another. I think about how my daughter will never be this little again; & one day she’s not going to want to cuddle with me anymore. [tear]

Even if I’ve had a super stressful and frustrating day, rocking my little girl brings me back to reality and puts me in a happy place. I hold her in peaceful silence, thanking God for my beautiful angel. And that’s all right.

loyally,

katie

So what’s your bedtime routine like for your little one(s)? Have you ever had to change your “original” plan and try something new? How did it work out?

Follow on Bloglovin

& I’m back!

I finally feel like a normal person again! & I finally have a computer back. After some technical glitches… umm, like losing e v e r y t h i n g on my laptop, I have a fresh start. Yep. Losing everything on your hard drive is a major bummer, let me tell ‘ya. I lost three chapters of my novel, our budget, tons of medical references, numerous journal entries, and who knows what else! It would have cost at least $600 to have the data recovered, and that’s just money we weren’t willing to spend. The only thing I can take away from this whole situation is back!it!up!

In other news, I am 16 weeks preggers and no longer nauseous! Yippity skippity! I woke up on Thanksgiving feeling like a completely different person. People kept telling me *16* was the magic number. I guess they were right.

We are finally back in our home as a family. After nearly six weeks of staying with family, Emmalyn and I have been reunited with our favorite man! On the seven hour drive back, Emmalyn cried that she didn’t want to go to her “blue house”–that she wanted to go back to GG and BopBop’s house (my parents). It was so pitiful… However, once we drove down our street she was excited, and even more thrilled to be back with all her toys. It was like Chirstmas Day!

Even though I hated being away from my husband for so long (I saw him for 72 hours within six weeks), we really did have a memorable *vacation*. Emmalyn and I got to hang out with our best friends and go on multiple fun play dates. We went to Sea World once, and Disney four times.

The best part of our trip was when Daddy flew in and joined us for a Disney Princess Breakfast for Emmalyn’s 3rd birthday. Both sets of grandparents were there, and it was such a memorable and magical day! I could write a whole other post on just this day…

{took emmy to our engagement spot at epcot}

We were fotunate to be able to celebrate Emmy’s birthday with all her favorite friends from “back home”. Originally, when making the decision to take a change of scenery, I was bummed she wouldn’t have a birthday party with her friends for school, but spending her day with the little friends she’s grown to love was much more meaningful. She greeted almost all of her guests at the door and we didn’t even tell her to! I know that in the three year-old heart of hers, she was super appreciative.

I was extremely nervous about Emmalyn going back to school today. After all, it has been about six weeks. Last night she told me, “Mommy, don’t ever leave me. Ever. {holds my chin} Understand?” Yipes!! It was quite dramatic. But this morning we were talking about all her friends and the fun things she would do at school. When I dropped her off, she walked right in with a big smile on her face. & when I picked her up? Even bigger smile! She told me she had a really fun day. Phew!

So there ya have it, friends! Just a little update. More to come on “prego bumpdates”, Emmalyn’s birthday, and getting back into the swing of things!

It’s good to be back!

loyally,

katie

Follow on Bloglovin

Emmalyn’s 1st Day of School!

“I can do anything.” –Madeline

That’s the mantra I went in with today as I dropped Emmalyn off at her first day of school. (so maybe we watched Madeline a bazillion three times yesterday while it was raining) I just can’t believe my little girl started school already! & I can’t believe I’m old enough to actually have a little girl starting school.

Granted, she’s only there for an hour and a half today–but still!

For this first week, the children only go for a limited amount of time to get them acclimated to the classroom. Next week, Emmy will go two days a week, for four and a half hours at a time.

Seriously, this whole time leading up to her going to school I’ve had My Brave Face on, and truly I believed it. But, y’all, when I drove away from her school this morning, it hit me!

Hard.

I cried painful sobs all the way home.

& it wasn’t even because she was crying, because she wasn’t.

I think the depth of the whole situation took me by surprise. My little girl is growing up. Sounds terribly cliche, I know… but it’s true. She baffles me everyday with her ever-growing conversations and stories, her kindness (we’ll leave out the part about her ever-growing temper), and her sense of wonder and curiosity.

You might wonder why, as a stay-at-home-mom I’d be sending my child to school? Why not soak up every.single.moment? Well, to be honest, we were getting bored with one another. It’s not like we didn’t go out and explore almost everyday (and with other kids) but I could tell that I wasn’t giving my daughter enough at home. She needed something else. 

And I’m okay with that. Not an ounce of guilt. 

She’s insanely curious and always getting into things. When we moved to our new town, we literally went “school shopping” until we found what we thought was the perfect fit for Emmalyn. This school focuses more on the child’s freedom to explore, discover, and select their own work. They empower independence through asking questions, puzzles, and focus on learning without having to be “spoon-fed” by the teacher. This is something we felt was important for Emmalyn based on her personality. 


This whole summer I’ve been extremely excited for her new adventure! Practically every day we talked about her “First Day of School”, and Emmy would always ask, “You’ll come with me?”

Well, umm… not exactly. I feared she would cry and protest on her first day considering how attached she is to me, but Nope! She was a champ! I was so proud to see her walk confidently into her classroom with her head held high. I think that’s the pivotal moment that sent me over the edge into Cry Town… Seeing my little love take on such a brave task.

So how did she do?!

She was super! Which bring me to my next Madeline mantra: “I’d rather be super everything than super nothing.” She came out of that classroom with the world at her fingertips. Smiling. Accomplished. Happy. Ready to do it again!

And Mommy was relieved! …and glad to have my baby back! 

& what made it all the more sweeter was having Daddy surprise us at pick-up. Icing on the cake to the Best First Day of School!

The first thing Emmalyn told us about her day was that she made new friends.

Can I get an Awwwww???

I’m so proud of my little love and can’t wait to see what she does next!

loyally,
katie 

Follow on Bloglovin