Sunday, November 6, 2016

Summer/Early Fall Weddings

This year we were lucky enough to attend 4 beautiful weddings. Two of the weddings--my cousin Greg's and Tom's cousin Lauren's-- were trapped in the camera. I can finally show off some of our summer travels!

In July we traveled to California for my cousin Greg's wedding. We spent about 24 hours in San Francisco before going north to Guerneville. We stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast on the Russian River. The pictures really do not do justice to the beauty of our surroundings.

In September, Tom's cousin Lauren got married at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Southern MD. Being the proud Loyola Alum that I am, I basically geeked out over the location. The area was gorgeous and we had an awesome time celebrating!

The kneelers were all embroidered! They were beautiful!


We have a camera cord, so now pictures will come fast and furious! This year for Halloween we continued our tradition of trick-or-treating with the Hohlfelds. It's a fun tradition and the kids have a great time together. A few of the best shots from the evening...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

17 Weeks Pregnant with Baby B #3

Well, I am almost officially halfway through this pregnancy, so I figured maybe I would blog about it. I haven't blogged lately because I like to include pictures, but I cannot find my camera cord anywhere. This is a problem. Once I find that cord I will update everything that's happened between August and now {this will likely culminate in an EPIC photo dump}.

To catch you up-- in early August I found out I was pregnant. Things were fine for the first 4 few weeks. Just short of week 5 the morning sickness started with much more vengeance than it did for either Lily or Jackson. I wasn't at all sick with Lily, just tired. With Jackson, I experienced some morning sickness between weeks 6-13, but then it subsided. This time I full one threw up once day. I was nauseous most of the time, and was completely exhausted. It probably didn't help much that all of this coincided with the opening of the school year. The result: the first trimester trudged along (and I mean trudged). I was sick from 5 weeks-15 weeks. I still feel sick when I wake up in the morning, and generally need to eat immediately. I cannot tolerate coffee with caffeine {sadness}, and some days cannot tolerate coffee at all. I have only gained about 2 pounds up to this point, I think because of the sickness and because it's hard to eat a lot at meals (I am not complaining about this...).

There are some perks of being almost mid-way through. I got to hear the heartbeat at 14 weeks. A beautiful 160 beats per minute. On November 16 we have our anatomy scan. We are not finding out the sex of the baby this time around, but I am just as excited to see the baby. We decline the genetic testing, so this will be our first peek.

If this baby follows in his or her siblings' footsteps, there will be some sort of surprise. Lily had choroid plexus cysts, which resulted in follow-up scans (the cysts did go away). Jackson had an echogenic bowel, which also resulted in follow-up scans. It, too, went away. The doctor attributed it my body being a good body to scan. Apparently, some women can have more detailed, brighter ultrasounds than others, which can result in the fetus appearing brighter in parts of the scan. This history of surprises does make me nervous. It helps that both potential problems were resolved in subsequent scans, but there is still some nervousness there.

I am also starting to feel some movement from the baby. It's not consistent yet, but it's definitely there. This is my absolute favorite thing about being pregnant. I am looking forward to stronger movements, so the kids can feel the baby on the outside. They have been so excited about having a sibling. Jackson likes to kiss my belly and say, "mommy, I love babies!" Today, Lily exclaimed, "God, thank-you for letting mommy have another baby!!" They are just so happy this little baby will be joining us in April (I will update this once they realize that newborns cry a lot).

We've started planning out what we need (very little), what we have (a lot), and what we can give away (also a lot). We will have some adjustments to make to the house-- need to convert Lily's room to Lily and Jack's room-- and we need to update the nursery. I got the cloth diapers out and sorted; they just need to be washed (later, closer to my due date). We also sorted through all of the baby clothes and tried to figure out some storage system, so we can be prepared when the baby is born.

Overall, I am very excited for everything to come. I am trying to savor every part of this pregnancy because I know it will be the last one. Three kids is the limit in our house, so I want to enjoy everything I can about being pregnant and, eventually, in April, having a newborn. I feel so lucky to have such a great support system of family and friends who are also excited to share this journey. Like Lily said, thank-you, God, for letting mommy have another baby! I am certainly very grateful.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Black Lives Matter

There have been a lot of loud voices lately saying, why do only black lives matter? All lives matter! Well, friends, I can tell you why, right now, there is an urgency regarding black lives...because they really haven't mattered. Yes, my white friends, the lives of our black friends haven't mattered. They didn't matter when we brought them over on boats and held them as slaves, they didn't matter when the Founding Fathers espoused freedom and equality and went home to plantations filled with slaves, and, this may be news to people, but, even as our nation elected its first black president, black lives still didn't matter.

We are kidding ourselves if we think we live in a society that values equality. When you look at a black man and wonder, before anything, if he is a thug or a criminal...When a black woman has strong opinions and suddenly she's an angry black woman...When parents choose not to send their child to "that school" because they have "heard things", but really the school is predominately black (and therefore bad). When these things happen we are reinforcing the deep rifts that our system was built upon.

I am setting aside anything involving police violence here because even without those murders, black lives haven't mattered nearly as much as those of their white counterparts. Unfortunately, white privilege allows us to not worry so much about it and, foolishly, say things like all lives matter (even when we don't mean it-- I've seen many people blow off (and say terrible things about) refugee lives, immigrant lives, etc...).

As an educator, my role is so important in helping my students navigate their role in this movement. I worry because it is, sort of, a leaderless movement. I look to the Civil Rights Movement as an example and see leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The demonstrations, sit-ins, and protests were well orchestrated and organized. The leaders were calculated in their movements and messages. It's not that the current movement doesn't have a message--it does--but I worry that without a few strong leaders the movement won't be as strong or unified as it could, or should, be. Either way, I want my students to feel empowered. I want them to feel like their voices can be heard and that they are valued. I want to give them literature, essays, poems, and speeches from which they can draw strength and power. I want them to teach me. 

My eyes are wide open as we negotiate these turbulent times. I am an eager student of the time and, I hope, can be a sounding board for my students as they work to make sense of their role and their identity within this movement. #blacklivesmatter #mystudentsmatter

Sunday, June 19, 2016

On the Eve of 5...

Dear Lily,

Tomorrow morning you are going to be five. FIVE! A whole hand. On Father's Day, five years ago, I went into labor with you. I had to stop eating my dinner, my delicious dinner, because my labor got so strong that I knew, quite certainly, that we would be headed to the hospital. The next morning, at 6:09 am you were born, you made me a mama.

Lily Bean, this year has been an insane year of growth for you. You started writing so many new words, identifying how to spell things by sounding things out, and started to read. You are a whiz with numbers {you did not get that from your mama} and you can count things so quickly just by glancing at them. You loved Pre-K, and, while I know you are more than ready for Kindergarten, you are very anxious to start at a new school. You are so ready for school, though, and I think once you get started you will love it.

You are a little social butterfly. You love your friends and have so much fun playing with them. Your favorite things to do are play with dolls, build villages with Little People, and play outside with your neighborhood friends. You love Barbies, American Girl dolls, and baby dolls of any kind. You re-discovered a love of swimming this summer when you jumped into a pool at your friend's party. You are kind and sensitive and inquisitive. You are also impatient and quick to a temper {the good news is, that temper only comes out at home, and you are a sweetheart at school}.

My Lily girl, I hope you will always be confident, loving, and strong. Five feels like the big time. Kindergarten--real school--is about to happen and the world will start to feel more complicated. I want you to know that your intelligence, confidence, and strength will get you through anything. I love you so much and I cannot wait to see where five takes you!

Love, Mama

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Lily Graduates!

Almost a week ago Lily graduated from Pre-K. I am insanely proud of my girl and everything she has accomplished this year. She has grown leaps and bounds with her writing, spelling, and word recognition. She is a whiz at math and anything with numbers comes easily to her. Her teachers say she is very sweet and kind to her classmates, which makes my heart proud. She is truly ready for kindergarten!

The graduation itself was adorable. Each family had a table with a balloon, a class picture, a collage the teachers made for each child, a dog to get signatures from classmates, and a graduation picture. The kids processed in and stood on stage to sing graduation songs. Afterward, each child received a certificate. The school did a luncheon for all of the families, which was also fantastic.

We are sad to say goodbye to Lily's preschool. She loved it, and her teachers, so much! I am so pleased with how prepared she is for kindergarten, but saying farewell to her friends will be hard. She does have a summer session to attend, so she can hang on to preschool for a bit longer. I am sure as summer comes to a close she will be sad and worried as her days at her new school come closer, but we will cross that bridge when it comes.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Wedding Deserves a Post!

I never post much (at least now, life is too busy), but my brother and his wife Sara celebrated their wedding this past wedding and I decided to write about it! The weather was perfect, the ceremony was beautiful, and the reception was fun. I miss the wedding weekend terribly! I could write about how much I love my brother and how happy I am to officially welcome Sara to the family, but I decided to post a few pictures and leave a copy of the speech I made at the rehearsal dinner.

Overly cautious. Timothy has also always been overly cautious. When he was little, maybe 3 or 4 years old, Timothy told my parents that Santa should leave the presents on the front porch because Santa was a stranger. Overly cautious. Later, as a teenager, when I was home on a holiday break from college, at around 2am, I heard doors downstairs being aggressively shaken. I thought someone was breaking into the house and was instantly startled. That person breaking in was only my brother checking to make sure all of the doors were locked by shaking them. Again, overly cautious.

Theresa (my cousin) and her date, Jackson. He is in love and made the googly eyes to prove it!
Perfectly right. Another particular trait of Timothy’s. He didn’t ride a bike until he was 10 years old because he needed to do it perfectly right. He was always quiet as a little boy, the silent “T”, who, I suppose, didn’t want to talk until it was perfectly right. He also took hours to get ready to go out with his friends, until they called out “Juliet!” He had to look (and smell) perfectly right. While being overly cautious and perfectly right may not seem like they fit together, really, they do.

My mom and brother. 
You see, when we were in high school, we had a conversation with our friends Lexie and Topper. Timothy was asked if he ever told a girl he loved her. He said no because he wasn’t going to say it unless he really meant it and it meant something. Again, cautious and right. Years later, I heard him tell Sara he loved her, and I knew. He was perfectly right.

Walking down the aisle. They did a perfect job!
Timothy, I am so proud of you. You took the time to do things your own way. You may not have always garnered praise for your way (I seem to recall your English teacher admonishing you about a crooked bulletin board, to which you responded, “well, it’s not your bulletin board, is it?”), but you’ve done things your way, in your time. I love you more than you probably know, and I am so happy to stand by your side this weekend as you begin the next chapter in your life.

Rehearsal Dinner Crew. Lily and Jackie love Gram and Pop!
Sara, I am so excited to call you my sister. While having a brother has brought me great joy, I have always wanted to have a sister. You fit into our family “perfectly right” and I am honored to stand by your side as you officially become part of the family. You are already aunt Sara to Lily and Jackson; they love you to the moon and back, and, to them, you’ve always been their aunt. Thank-you for loving my brother and giving him so much happiness.

Lily and Aunt Sara-- the stunningly beautiful bride
I am sure that, at this point, Timothy is nervous that I might do something that is characteristically Emily and talk for the next hour, but I won’t. I will leave you two with this—in marriage sometimes you will need to be cautious, but sometimes you need to take risks. Very often things won’t be perfectly right, but you will slowly realize that when things are imperfectly right that they are the most joyful moments. Here’s to Tim and Sara!

Me and Tom prior to the reception

Monday, February 22, 2016

On the Eve of 3...

Dear Jackson,

Before I run off to review interview questions, I wanted to take a minute and write down my "eve of" birthday letter to you. I can't believe you're 3 tomorrow. My baby! How can you already be 3? This year, the year of 2, was a big year for you. You got rid of your paci, started school, and were potty trained. You went from toddler to kid right before my eyes. I can't believe you aren't a tiny baby in arms anymore; though, honestly, were you ever tiny?

You are just a magnificent little human. Your personality, while quiet at first (you are shy around new people), eventually fills a room. The faces you make absolutely slay me and you say the silliest things. Right now, your favorite phrase is "you tell me", as in, "Jackson, how old will you be?"..."Mama, you tell me!" You are still working on getting colors totally straight, but really, you can't be bothered with the little details, you have too many bad guys to catch and punish!

Speaking of catching bad guys, right now, Batman is YOUR MAN. You are very into the ideas of good and bad. You are a good guy. Joker is a bad guy. You like to HIII-YAAA us {insert karate chop} or attack us with swords. In addition to the Batman love, you are enjoying trains, cars, and trucks. Despite the "boy" things you like, you also love to join sis and play dolls (though, sis usually gives you Barbie's dog, Taffy {you pronounce it "Tappy"} to play with.

You can certainly be a rough and tumble guy (I am fairly certain you will be the first with stitches...), but you are also the sweetest boy. You love to snuggle. You love holding "hams" (hands). On a whim you will say, "Mama? I love you to the moon and back!" You are sweet to your sis {most of the time} and go running to her when mommy and daddy won't give in to your cuteness--"I just need SIS!" Lily is always there with a comforting hug, a "there, there, it's ok", and a "let's go play in my room!" reassurance.

Your favorite food: Peace-A-Pizza; Favorite Dessert: Probably Pez; Favorite Show: Batman; Favorite Toy: Batman everything!; Friends: Audrey, Ms. Julie (you love your teacher SO much!), Amelia, Jacob, Lily, Andrew, Abby, and Charlie; Favorite Color: Blue: Favorite Song: Anything from Frozen (usually with some made-up words thrown in); Favorite Sport: baseball (like daddy, and you are really good!)

In Peter Pan, Tiger Lily says, "Peter Pan is the sun and the moon and the stars!" And surely, my Jackie-boy, you are the sun and the moon and the stars. I love you far beyond the moon and back. You filled spaces of my heart that I didn't know existed. Every moment that I get to watch you grow is a joy and a blessing. You came into the world "like Superman" (doctor's words...your shoulders never turned), and now you are saving the world from the bad guys. I love you so much. Daddy loves you so much. Sis love you so much. Thanks for making our lives better. Happy {almost} third birthday.

Love, Mommy

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Back to School {2016 edition}

Well, winter break is over. Usually, I am all doom and gloom and sadness, but this year I feel content, and that is a wonderful feeling. We had an extremely relaxing and fulfilling break. A few days ago I told Tom that this was the first break where I felt like I got to enjoy myself and relax. The kids weren't sleeping in really late (and Jackson still didn't sleep completely through any night...), but we had time to enjoy our friends and family and were able to recharge with our kids. It was perfect.

I may be biased, but this kid is basically the cutest human ever.


We got snowman decorating kits, but we have no snow, so we decorated Jackson.

It's hard to stop talking to take pictures.

Again, I may be biased, but she is breathtakingly beautiful. And I helped create her. WHAT!?!
As I enter a new year, I am looking forward to getting back into the routine. Tom and I are both doing a wellness challenge at school, so I am looking forward to getting back into a workout routine and some healthier eating habits. Lily and Jackson are both excited to get back to school tomorrow, which makes the transition back into work that much easier.

In just 2 weeks second quarter will close and we will be halfway through the school year. I can't believe how quickly this school year is flying! I will be taking my last graduate class this spring, and can officially take the Praxis in ESOL this summer (if I choose to do that).

Mostly, though, I am looking forward to March when my work wife comes back. I know she will be sad to see her maternity leave end, but I am looking forward to seeing her again and dressing alike totally accidentally almost every single day.

For now, I will be writing 2015 on the board, on paperwork, and on assignments until about April.