Somehow, our Emmie Jane turned two this week.
We took the girls to the beach in the morning on her birthday and picked up two sprinkle donuts (one chocolate, one vanilla) on the way. They sat wordlessly together on the sand with their donuts for a while and then launched into a very urgent rock collecting mission.
Eventually, they warmed up enough to venture into the water and began their back-and-forth sprint from waves to sand and back again, each time getting a little more bold, letting the water roll a bit higher past their tiny legs as they shrieked with laughter. Watching their faces light up, as if each time the waves came in was the biggest surprise imaginable, my eyes pooled with tears under my sunglasses. I couldn’t believe–can’t believe–this is my life. What magic–ridiculous, lavish magic. I want to remember that morning forever. (I always get weepy around milestones; I can’t help it).
Our special girl. Emmie is an absolute riot and the light of our lives. She’s our baby still in every way (Char’s, mostly), and brings so much joy to our family.
So much has changed since she came to us two years ago.
When she was born, we were still just a few months into the pandemic, and we lived in Oceanside. Since then, we sold the house in Oceanside (10/10 do not recommend selling a home with two under two). We moved to a rental (10/10 do not recommend moving with two under two) and spent almost a year house hunting (10/10 do not recommend house hunting with two under two). We finally found and bought our house and were knee-deep in renovations on her first birthday (10 do not recommend…well, you get it) and moved in a couple months after that.
Despite all that’s changed since she was born, it still seems like it was just last week that Emmie was my soft, sweet newborn, nestled peacefully on my chest. I can so vividly picture her back gently rising and falling with her squeaky little breathing sounds. Emmie brought an instant sense of calm to the household, something I’ll always be so grateful for.
She has been my constant companion since then, always sitting on my hip like a koala bear cub, taking in the world with those enormous blue eyes (carbon copied from Tyler’s, it seems).
Emmie spends her days playing outside with Char (the water table and splash pad are their offices, respectively), taking care of her extensive collection of babies, organizing–and reorganizing–her tiny Encanto characters, and assembling meals made of wooden food and plastic spoons. She LOVES to play catch. If there is a pair of shoes in the room, she will try them on. She insists on helping Tyler take the trash out every time without fail. She has a razor-sharp sense of humor that knocks us off our feet sometimes.
She is absolutely enamored with all babies but especially her twin cousins, Knox and Beckham. They are just 9 months younger than her, and she has firmly established her role as the ringleader. Nothing excites her more than the opportunity to help put the boys down for their nap or nighttime. She’s very thorough about it and never forgets a detail: sleepsack, book, sip of water, paci.
Emmie is a chatter box!! It’s insane. She babbles on and on to herself (and us) all day long. Tyler and I are constantly marveling at how verbal she is. You’d think she was the first toddler to utter a word, ever, with how crazy we go over each new turn-of-phrase she masters. We can’t help it! It’s just too cute. Char was a little “late” to talking, I think, so it’s just been unexpected to us to see her communicating so clearly at this age (clearly to us, anyway, lol).
In that sense, the “terrible twos,” have seemed a bit more manageable with Emmie than they were with Charlotte. Char would often spiral when she couldn’t tell us what she needed, whereas Emmie is able to do so most of the time without a full meltdown (she concludes every demand with a very cute “right now”). Of course, she’s stubborn and unbelievably whiney when she’s tired or hungry, but that’s every kid (and also: me).
Emmie’s one horrible time of the day is when she wakes up from her naps (not in the morning, just after nap). It’s become a habit for her now at this point, so Tyler and I have to have a stern talk with her before we pick her up (“If you cry, it’s back to bed” type of vibe). That seems to help, but it’s still so odd to me.
One of the craziest things, to me, is how two kids–from the exact same parents, raised in the exact same house–can be totally different already! Our girls are similar in that they are both extremely strong-willed but there are a million little differences that blow my mind each day. Take, for example, the nap wake up thing: Charlotte always woke up so happy. She’d bounce and bounce in her crib and laugh and sing until we came in for her.
Emmie has come so far this year. Since she was really tiny, she’s had crazy separation anxiety. I’m sure it was a COVID thing–we had barely any visitors when she was born and very few people outside of the family ever held her.
We have been trying to gently push her this year, help her build some confidence and comfortability being on her own. It’s just a little here and there, tiny things we try each week: the nursery at church, Kid’s Club at the Y, letting her join Charlotte for her playdates at our neighbor’s house, staying over at my mom’s house, ballet class, etc.
This has been a journey. Sometimes, these events can be kind of a scene, but we’re determined to stick with it (as gently as possible). We had to try “baby church” like 10 times for her to finally be comfortable, and sometimes she still cries for a few minutes when I hand her over!
We are so proud of her, though. We can see her confidence growing (and her proud little half smile) as she conquers each of these “scary” things. She finally made it through a whopping 30 minutes of Kid’s Club without a major scene last week. When she got home she RAN into my room, tapping her palm on her chest, yelling “kid’s club ME, kid’s club ME.”
It’s important to us that she knows how supported she is, but we also think it’s okay to challenge her. And I really do believe that this will pay off in the long run.
Something I heard recently that stuck with me: “We aren’t raising kids. We are raising adults.” I took this to mean that it’s our job as parents to equip and embolden our kids to be independent and strong, knowing all the while that they can lean on us and that we will be there to help them back up if/when they fall.
Both girls are starting preschool in the fall; they’ll go three mornings a week. I think Emmie may hate it at first, but I’m confident that she’ll warm up to it. I CAN’T believe I’ll have two preschoolers on my hands–will deal with this later.
Emmie has turned into an amazing sleeper. It seems like she went through a sleep regression every month of her first year of life, but this last year she has been a stud. She usually wakes up between 6:30am-7am, naps (like a rock) from 12:30pm-2:30pm, and is out by 7:15pm every night.
A cute thing: she doesn’t like to put her sleep sack on at bedtime anymore (“too hot, too hot”), but the house cools down at night and I worry about her getting cold in the wee hours. So Tyler and I trade off nights going in before we go to sleep to put her in her sleep sack. It’s the best part of the day because she’s sooo snuggly, like a golden retriever puppy. And laying on the changing table, dimly glowing by the hallway light pouring in, she looks EXACTLY like she did as a newborn when I’d swaddle her up at night. It’s my tiny personal time travel moment, and I almost always stick around for a few extra minutes of snuggling before I put her back down–something I would have never dared to do when she was younger (I have a mortal fear of disturbing infant sleep).
She’s definitely in a weird eating phase right now (not a headache at all!!). Emmie has always been a much pickier eater than Char, despite our nearly identical approach to introducing foods since she was a baby. She loves fruit, avocado, cheese, and eggs (usually). She’s slowly coming around to fresh vegetables but still has a hard time with meat. I always put the exact same plate in front of them, and I’m hoping over time she’ll get a little better. She loves her 10am green smoothie (my daughter, after all) and has a special affinity for spicy popcorn
I thank God every day for Emmie and cherish every second with her. I can’t believe she’s ours, and I’m so excited to see what this next year will bring for her.
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?