Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chatty Kathy

Growing bigger every month!

Because Emma Vance has been doing well with weight gain, growth and overall health, we didn't need a three-month appointment with the pediatrician. I have mixed feelings about this: On one hand, I'm thankful that the doctor doesn't have any concerns about her development. On the other hand, TWO MONTHS seems like a long time not to do at least a quick once-over to make sure everything's still on track. Itching to at least check in on her growth stats, I dropped by the pediatrician's office yesterday to borrow their scale.

I'm happy to say that E.V. is still growing well, and at three months, she weighs in at 13 lbs. 10 oz. Sometimes I see other babies who are super chunky and roly-poly and wonder if Emma Vance should be blubber-ier, but I suppose she has the rest of her life to worry about her weight. Oh, being a woman...

Since I knew I wanted to drop by the doctor's office Friday morning, I figured afterwards I'd knock "get car washed" off my to do list while I was out. Since errands now require more planning than ever, I woke up E.V. with intentions of wearing her out for her first nap so that she'd be passed out at the carwash. Wrong.

She was particularly energetic all morning--and particularly talkative.

"Gooooooood mooooooorning!"

I know I've mentioned how chatty our little lady is, but she never seems to want to talk when I'm recording her. (Stubborn like her mom.) Friday morning, however, she indulged my having the phone in her face, making silly baby noises without regard to her mom's excitement. It started while watching "Dinosaur Train," a Shove family favorite...

Then, when she got tired of talking to Shiny, Tiny and Don (parents, you know the certain pteranodons I speak of), she began her daily task of kicking anything and everything within reach, which at the moment in time was nothing. It was time to give her voice a rest and her feet some attention...

Happy feet (and hands)!

I felt guilty that she clearly was confused as to why kicking was resulting in NO SOUND, so we moved to her piano, where she had a lively conversation with Mr. Elephant...

Figuring that babbling must be out of her system for the day, I headed out to the doctor's office followed by the car wash. Despite gray clouds and a forecast of rain, it was really busy, making me a bit nervous that E.V. would cry and make everyone roll their eyes at me. Thankfully, she didn't fuss even one bit...mostly because she wanted to talk to everyone. And not only did she talk to everyone, it lasted the full 30 minutes that we were there...

Only when our car was new and shiny did she pass out (thanks for that timing, E.V.). She made a very common face of hers that always cracks me up...

"Moooom! Stop taking pictures of me, okay?"

"Whatever. I'm out."

I wish I could catch her mimicking words on camera, but she's still shy about that talent. :) I swear sometimes, out of the blue, I hear her saying, "Help me!" I never said anything to anyone about it (because that's odd and creepy), but the other day she was talking away and Ryan spun around during one of her "sentences" and exclaimed, "Did she just say, 'Help me!'?" I was so excited that someone else heard it! (PS: Where did she hear that one? I have no clue!)

I know these videos aren't that riveting to anyone but Ryan and me, but I don't want to forget what her little baby voice sounds like. She already has a different tone and makes different noises than she did as a tiny newborn, and I regret not capturing those first babblings. Her voice is so sweet, and one day when she actually says real words, I hope I never grow callous to their sweet sound.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dear E.V. (Month Three)

Dear E.V.,

These past three months have passed by so quickly! You get bigger every day and are changing so fast; your dad and I can hardly keep up. If you could slow down just a bit that would be great. (We just don't want to miss a thing!)

This month has been a one of a change for you. You've slowly been turning from a newborn to an infant, and with that have come some new challenges. The most confusing change (for everyone) has been your sleep schedule. It seems as if every day this past month I've tried everything and anything to get you to take the recommended 90-minute-long naps, but you simply won't do it. At first I thought it was a growth spurt, but as the weeks have gone by, it appears that it may be the new norm. Although it seems that your cycles should be getting longer, little lady, I've realized and accepted that you're happy with a two and half hour cycle right now. (We're rolling with it.) You naps only last about 45 minutes each--until the late afternoon when you seem content to just sleep the rest of the day away. I've learned to love these afternoon naps and have been indulging your wishes by snuggling you in our big bed, watching you sleep and working on my laptop. Your sleepy facial expressions always amuse me, and I cannot wait until one day when you can tell me all about your crazy dreams. 

Thankfully, despite these unusually short daytime naps, you're still sleeping well through the night, which I am grateful for. You fall asleep at 9:30 p.m. each night (even when I put you down earlier, you just hang out until 9:30 anyway) and wake up between 7 and 8 a.m. most days. Early in the month, however, you did go through a strange few days where you woke up at 5:30 each morning. Although in the moment I would be miserable getting out of bed to feed you, I would always find myself holding you a little longer than necessary when you were ready to go back to sleep; I know that these days of our private morning conversations are drawing to a close, so I'm resolved to enjoy them while I still can.

You spend most of your naps in your crib, although at least once a day you still nap in your bassinet. It's getting laughable how small it is compared to your growing body, but I like having you nearby when I can. You still sleep in the bassinet at night as well, although your dad and I have resolved that this month we're transitioning you to your nursery. Clearly you're ready; I'm just dragging my heels. I have this impending sense of loss because I know that once we move you, you're officially on your own and won't ever revert back. (Is it bad that I already look forward to the occasional bad-dream night where you need to snuggle in bed with us?) This month you also outgrew your smallest swaddler (and 0-3 month-sized clothes). The small swaddler used to snuggle you with a bit of room to breathe; now it barely wraps around your tummy! Your time being swaddled is also coming to a close shortly, so we're taking in every sweet moment of newborn-ness that is left in you while we still can. 

In trying to figure out your napping schedule, one variable that we're still testing is your ability to be out and about. You LOVE the sights and sounds of restaurants, and so thankfully you're relatively well behaved when we're in public. (You do drive your dad a little crazy, though, because any time you do happen to fuss, it's always when you're sitting next to him and when his hot food's just arrived! Funny lady...) However, the drawback is that you try so hard to stay awake through your normal nap times because there's so much to see. I tried to test your limits--how long you could be on the go without being cranky--and although I have yet to figure out the perfect balance of being neither a homebody nor a busy bee, I have learned that you rest best at home. Even when you pass out in the car, you never can quite make it from car seat to crib and remain asleep.

Part of testing your out-and-about limits occurred this month because your dad started traveling a lot again. (Many days, getting out into the world was my only non-baby human contact--and yours too!) I made sure to talk about you everyday to him, and we tried to have facetime every night so that he could see your sweet smile. I know he missed you terribly, but when he came home, the two of you were as happy as can be. You grabbed his beard, scratching all around it, as if you had never seen anything like it before, and when you realized it was him, it was like Christmas morning (which you'll learn about in a few months...). You adore him, and I love watching the two of you together. One of the sweetest/funniest moments thus far happened with him this month: He was cradling you in his arms, talking to you while you gazed up at him, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you got the biggest, saddest pouty lips ever. This unexpected change of mood made your dad laugh, which made you immediately grin. Then, as quickly as before, you pouted again, then grinned at your dad's laughter. This went on for a few minutes, and the whole family cracked up at your baby version of a joke.

While your dad was gone, a strange thing began to happen: Your diapers started exploding. Huh...? We'd never had a problem before, so the first time it happened I figured I had done something wrong. Then it happened again, and I thought maybe we got a defective batch. Then, upon inspecting the diaper box, it occurred to me--you're growing out of your size one diapers! I couldn't believe it (and still really can't), but the box says "up to 14 lbs.," and I'm sure you're almost there. The logical thing to do would be to go out and buy some size twos (which we did), but we're still trying to knock out the last of the size ones so as not to waste them. This upcoming month you'll not only move into your room, move out of size 0-3 month clothes, and move away from being a "newborn," you'll also make your first move to a bigger diaper size! Oh, my. You've grown so much this month. I can't even wrap my head around it!

Since your dad spent so much time traveling and I was your sole caretaker this month, I spoiled you a little bit with a new toy. It's a play gym with a piano you kick, and from the moment you learned how to use it, you've been obsessed with it. It has occupied you for hours this month, and you love it so much it makes me wonder if you'll be a musician one day. (In fact, it prompted your dad and I to ask you if you were going to be a musician when you grow up, and you actually shook your head "no." That made us laugh--especially when we then decided to ask you if you were going to be an actress and you shook your head "yes." Seriously! I know it's just your little baby head bobbing around, but it seemed so intentional! We'll see in time...) You love that gym so much that it's given you the idea to kick your legs like crazy ALL the time. It's hard to explain to a baby that kicking only results in music when a play gym's involved, so it's very confusing to you when you kick and it's quiet. We started holding out our hands and being Mommy or Daddy Pianos, singing to you when you kick us. (It makes you happy, so we're happy to oblige!) In fact, you even like to kick in the tub now, and the splashing water is just as exciting as music to you. Your piano's little tunes have become part of the sounds of our household, and although it's just the tinkerings of nursery rhymes, it's sweet music to my ears. I hope you're entertained by that little piano for a long, long time.

Besides playing piano, you are developing in many ways these days. You love sitting in our laps, facing us or the world. In fact, I think that it's your favorite, most comfortable position right now. Your neck is getting stronger and stronger each day, and we're just waiting for your balance to catch up so that you can sit up on your own. (Soon, baby girl, soon.) This month your hand-eye coordination has blossomed quickly, and you've gone from batting objects to grabbing them! Your piano play gym has a hanging elephant holding a rolling ball, and it's your favorite toy to grab. You play with the rolling ball, moving it this way and that with excitement. I've also caught you staring at your hands in fascination, holding them out in front of you and moving them slowly around as you contemplate them thoughtfully. Yes, Emma Vance, YOU are making that happen! They're such tiny, cute little chubby hands; I'll be sad to see them lose their baby fat one day. You also find your feet to be quite interesting lately (perhaps because you can see them when you're sitting), and you seem quite determined to get them into your mouth. (Move over, baby belly! E.V.'s got feet to get to!)

You also continued to find your voice this month, making more noise than ever before. You've always had distinct cries (sleepy, happy, overstimulated, hungry), but now you're starting to sound like person who can talk. And, little girl, do you like to talk! To us, to strangers, to could talk to a wall! When people speak to you, you parrot their tone of voice eagerly, which I love to hear. Upon realizing this, your dad and I began saying "I love you!" over and over, and you've learned to mimic it back to us. My heart melts every time I hear you "say" those words, although I know you have no clue what you're doing. I can't wait for the first time you actually know what those words mean and say them to us intentionally. Your words will have more power than any force on earth, and I can't wait until you are old enough to know this truth. I can't wait to hear you pray at night, which I know you'll love to do since you already hold your tiny hands in the praying position often. (Hey, you can never practice too early!) When I see your little clasped hands, it makes me imagine what your prayers would consist of right now--how small your world is and how big God is.

Toward the end of your third month, you began not only to "talk," but also to grunt. It's a disconcerting sound, and seems so painful! We tried all sorts of remedies--burping you, Gripe Water, gas drops, rocking... Nothing has seemed to work consistently, and at best I believe that the grunting means that either you have gas or that you're frustrated that you can't change positions on your own. If I know you don't have gas and you're grunting, a little help from mom or dad in rolling over seems to satisfy you, although I know you wish you could do it on your own already. You are such a strong and determined baby; it's maddening to you that your body hasn't caught up to your desire to move around! You especially like to roll around to see the paintings above your crib and FANS. Girl, you have a fascination with fans, and if you suspect one's in the room, you'll do anything to position yourself to stare at it! Although I'll be so happy one day when you actually start rolling, crawling and walking, I hope it's not too soon...

You explore the world through so many avenues these days, but by far your mouth is your greatest tool. You love to blow bubbles, to put things in your mouth, and to lick all sorts of objects. You've begun drooling a bit this month, but it's not too bad yet. :) We play The Tongue Game, you and I. It goes like this: You stick your tongue out; I stick my tongue out. You wiggle it around; I wiggle it around. (You get the idea.) It's quite entertaining for you--and for me too. You're like a little snake, E.V., sticking that tongue in and out so often like a little boa. Plus you're still hissing at me during bath time, which is the strangest habit. Perhaps "boa" isn't as accurate as "water moccasin." That tongue cracks me up every time!

When I look at you, all I see is adorable beauty. There are moments when I swear I can tell what you'll look like as a little girl, and let me tell you this: You are going to be so beautiful. Then there are moments when all I can see is how cute you are right now, and I swear that you are never going to be anything but a baby in my eyes. People still tell us how much you look like me (which, yes, I take pride in--of course!), but there are more and more moments when I catch glimpses of your dad's features in you. You definitely resemble him in his baby pictures, especially in how big you both are! (People are always shocked to learn how young you are.) Your hair is still crazy and shows no signs of calming down anytime soon. In fact, it just keeps growing and growing and growing. Your rattail is getting conspicuously looong...which your dad is SO proud of...which cracks me up. On more than one occasion he's lamented about it ever being cut off, and every time he worries about it, I assure him that you'll be our little Rapunzel. In fact, toward the end of this month, I thought you might be developing a little rash on your neck, and in talking to him, I said, "Emma Vance is getting a rash under her rattail, so I'm going to take her to the pediatrician to check it out." I have never seen such fear in his eyes as he responded, "Don't let them cut it off!" Not, "Oh, how bad of a rash is it?" or "Do you think she's okay?" or "What do you think is causing the rash?" His only concern was keeping that little curl of yours! As it turns out, it was just a little irritation that went away on its own, so your dad didn't have to worry anyway. :) Whew. He was relieved!

I have this anxiety in my heart everyday, Emma Vance. I worry that these precious moments are escaping me too quickly, that these moments are fleeting and rare. Tears well up in my eyes at the mere thought of how much you've already grown. I want to remember every second of your life, even the insignificant events of your daily activities. Life is so fragile, and you remind me of its preciousness with every moment. The other day I was holding you as you fell asleep, and you tiny hands reached out and began feeling around for me as you slumbered. Your little fingers scratched rhythmically right over my heart, and it was a tender moment. It was as if you just wanted to know that I was there, watching over you. You were so cozy and secure, not a care in the world, protected and loved. I know that I won't always be able to hold you close, that you won't always reach out to feel for my presence...but please know I will always be there for you, right by your side. I promise.

Every day I am reminded that having you made us a family, and I will be eternally grateful to God for giving us the opportunity to be your parents. We love you. 

Love always,
me (and Dad)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

E.V. Plays the Piano

Totally worth every penny!

Emma Vance got a new toy...and she's ob-sessed. Kicking the piano, grabbing the toys and practicing rolling over? She's in baby heaven. Here's a little glimpse into her happy place:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ryan Birthday Recap

This is "us" when Ryan turned 31. Bookmark for future reference :)

Yesterday taught me that being 30 is a lot different than being in your 30s. Although yesterday was lots of fun in its own way, it was definitely low key. Here's how we celebrated Ryan's big 3-1:

First we had lunch at Smokejack. Mmm. BBQ.

Then E.V. did some work while Ryan took a nap in the bed next to her.
Wait a minute...

Then we took a trip to the dog park. Family time!

When we got there, we passed around Emma Vance...

...and showed her all the interesting things at the park.

The dogs were excited to run around by themselves...

...until then they made a new friend!

While they played,  E.V. and I sat down to watch all the puppies...

...and then it was time to go because E.V. tried to eat her hands, which reminded us it was dinner time.

(Olive was exhausted, obvi.)

Then it was dinner at Old Blind Dog, and a quiet evening at home. Not the most eventful day, but a peaceful reminder that we've moved on to the next stage of life. Goodbye 30, hello family man!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dear Ryan (Year Thirty-One)

Dear Ryan,

You are a badass. There, I said it.

I can't believe how much you've grown in the past year. Just kidding! Well, kind of... You have grown a lot, figuratively speaking, because God has given you so many new challenges over the last 12 months. In business, in relationships, in becoming a dad--you have never been afraid of change or hard work, and this past year's tests have been perhaps the most challenging yet. But, as I always suspected, you are an amazing man who passed those tests without a fault.

This year was crazy. We went to Hawaii; we had a contract fall through on our house; I quit my day job; the Scout's had about a million things done to it; you traveled about 70% of the time to all sorts of crazy places; your business grew exponentially; we got pregnant and had a BABY...

When the one year anniversary of your 30th birthday bash passed, it reminded me of how loved you are. (Oh, and it also reminded me of Joe's ripped pants. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end...) You are a great friend to have. Although life's circumstances don't allow you to always be available to others, when you're with someone, you're all theirs, and I love that about you. You really are selfless with your talents when it comes to your friends, and I know they appreciate you for it. Even more, I know that even if you had nothing to offer them, your friends would still want a relationship with you if for nothing else but for the fact that you're fun to be around. You love life, living it, and sharing it. I remember everyone's stories at your 30th--how you guys always seem to get into ridiculous circumstances (and miraculously survive), how you support one another during times of need, how your friends are rooting for you. You are lucky to have them in your life, and they are lucky to have you as well.

This past year, you worked your butt off. Seriously. I have never known anyone who can hustle as much as you can. I know that you thrive on the thrill of travel and of the unknown, but I'll never truly understand HOW you do it. God has truly given you the strength to make the best of every situation, the eye of an artist to make beauty out of ruin, the resolve to endure. I (we) miss you so much when you are gone, but I know that you are doing it for our family. I am so thankful that you have the desire to provide for us and that God honors your hard work. I worry every time you are away from me, and that will probably never change, but I know that you will always come home quickly and safely because no matter how far you travel, your heart is here with me. Thank you for everything you did for me and for your family this year.

I always tease you about how quirky you are: Whenever you get an idea in your head, you're "all in" while the rest of us are just trying to wrap our minds around the concept. I love this about you, despite the occasional eye roll, because you are a passionate person. Whether it's good beer or a good haircut, I can always trust that you'll know everything about whatever you're "into." This cracks me up because if only you had felt this way about school. Imagine what academia would've benefitted from your intense knowledge on stuff! Think about how much you know about the Scout, then imagine possessing that same amount of knowledge about history! Unbelievable! But I digress... :) I want to acknowledge that there is a major benefit to this passion: Whatever meal you order when we're out will ALWAYS be the best choice on the menu, and I will inevitably end up picking at your plate because I didn't listen to your recommendation and got the worst thing possible. Thanks for sharing.

Your 30th year was no exception to your Zach-Morris-like luck in life. Even as your wife, the closest person to you who knows you better than anyone else in the world, I still have no idea how you do it. Everything just seems to work out for you, despite lack of preparation or concern. It is both equally entertaining and frustrating to see how life just seems to fall into place for you. :) Like remember this year when you just skipped jury duty? (Who does that?) And when I finally made you call because I was sure that you were going to jail or something and the jury duty lady said, "Oh, don't worry about it." Really?!? You amaze me every time. Let's cross our fingers that Year 31 is as full of the Morris luck as the past 30 have been.

Gosh--I can't believe that you're already 31. How does time pass so quickly? Every year seems to go by faster than before, and so my wish for you this year is that it slows down just a bit. I pray that you will have moments of rest where God allows you to just be still. I pray that you experience new depth to your friendships and to our relationship. I pray that you are blessed in work and in life, and that this year brings you as much joy as this last one did. (The dogs and Emma Vance pray these things for you too, although I believe I also heard some talk of diapers and dog treats mixed in with these prayers...)

Ryan Niles Shove, you are awesome today and everyday. I love everything about you, down to your gray hairs, old man. Happy 31st birthday!

Love you always.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hey, I Got My New Shoes On!

Just because I heart these shoes...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kensleigh's Birthday / UGA v. Zombies

The ladies are ready to party!

I could just squeeze her all day.

"Yay! I can't hold still because it's PARTY TIME!"

It's a little shocking to me how many traditional Saturdays in a row we've had around the Shove household lately. I mean, in the past year, we've had a total of perhaps ten total, and we're going on four or five in a row! I love it though, and will only pause for a moment to think on how strange it is.

{Pause for dramatic effect.}

Now that I've gotten over my shock, on to enjoying them...

This Saturday started off great. (See re: 100th Post!) Then it got messy. A mere few minutes after attempting to wake Ryan and swooning at how wonderful and calm life with a baby can be, she pooped the bed. Yep, she POOPED. IN. THE. BED. (Oh, I'm sorry if my previous post made it seem like it's always rainbows and fairy tales here--it's not. There's a lot of crap that goes on as well. Literally.) Oh, well. I was contemplating buying new pillows anyway. Ours were getting flat. I suppose that's God's sign to me that it's time to replace them. (And, yes, my yelp about her mess did manage to rouse Ryan. Good morning, dear! Don't move or you might roll over into a pile of diarrhea. Happy Saturday!)

Not to be fazed, I cleaned up Little Miss and moved forward with our plans because we had an agenda for the day. We began with a birthday party for Emma Vance's friend, Kensleigh. Her mom Kendall threw a killer party, and in true KKim fashion, it was full of bright colors and the most delicious brunch food imaginable. (Doesn't she know that I'm working on my baby weight still? Sheesh!)

Kendall and the cutie birthday girl!

Really, how AWESOME is this cake?!?
And, of course, Kendall did a fab job on the decor!

Smash cake "before"...


...and "after!"

During Kensleigh's party, I got a chance to catch up with the ladies of Pottery Barn with kids of our own! Between Kendall with Kensleigh, Rachel with Davis (who's only a few weeks younger than Emma Vance), and my little lady, all we need to be complete is Lindsay to catch up! LStanley was kind enough to snuggle E.V., who was worn out from a morning filled with kicking her dad and pooping the bed. (And, yes, I took a million pictures of the two of them because it was so cute.) Despite Emma Vance's best efforts to stay awake for the festivities, she didn't last long. I can't complain, though, because she got to wear her PARTY DRESS, which was super exciting for me. (Hey, you don't have to be awake to look fashionable!) Ryan cracked me up before we left, proving himself to be a total "guy" as he commented on how tight E.V.'s 0-3 month dress was and thus how she wouldn't be able to wear it twice. Doesn't he know that party dresses are a one-event thing?:)

I heart this dress.




Down for the count!

(Oh how life has changed in just this last year!)

This little man was a perfect gentleman throughout the whole event.

We left the party a little early to try and make it home before Emma Vance's lunchtime, but halfway there she got cranky from hunger, so we had to make a pit stop. Ryan and I often joke that this is the one drawback to Baby Wise: When they're used to a schedule, you have to honor their staying on it. Remember the Seinfeld episode where George hits a pigeon because it doesn't move out of the road in time? His explanation for not swerving is that "We had a deal!" With Baby Wise, it's the same thing: Babies only cry predictably, but you have to meet their needs predictably. So, as her 1 p.m. lunchtime occurred mid-drive, I reminded myself, "We have a deal!" and I had to honor my end of it. We pulled over for a quick bite, and as soon as she was full, she passed out from all the party excitement. It was quite a funny sight.

Hey, it was HOT in that party dress!

An afternoon nap later, and it was time for the UGA game! We crashed the Stulls' house for the event, which was relatively uneventful (after we got enough of a margin for the win), resulting in a turning of conversation topics. To zombies. And the apocalypse. (Blame "The Walking Dead" for getting our imaginations running.) A few hours later, and (although I'm not at liberty to divulge the details) let me just say that the Stulls and Shoves are READY.  Bring it on, undead masses! We have a plan. Ha!

After the game was over, Jacob and Katie's girl, Ivy, awoke to join us for a little bit. She and Emma Vance are already old friends, and as the older and wiser of the pair, Ivy spent some time rocking "the baby" to sleep in her car seat. No kidding. So sweet. So funny.

Here's how the rest of the night went:

Classic Ivy Stull face.

Ivy: "Baby?"

("Yes, Ivy, you can touch the baby. Just be gentle.")

("'s sleeping.")

(Ivy rocks the car seat.)  E.V.: "What the...?"

E.V.: "Oh, Ivy! I didn't know who that was!
Why thank you for the rocking! Would you like some tips on how to grow a mohawk?"

 Can't wait until these girls are 18 and looking at these pictures. Future AXO pledge sisters? We'll see...