Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First Day of School

September 1, 2015

Dear Kennerly,

Today was your very first day of school. Yes, you are only 19 months old, but off to school you went! Since I have been blessed to be able to stay home with you, we have been going to classes and places for you to interact with other kids your age for quite some time. You started swim class at 5 months, music class when you were one and we go to playgrounds all the time for you to explore and meet other people your size (or, usually bigger;) But, being a teacher myself, I wanted to make sure you were getting all you could get, and as much as I cherish our time together, I need to be a bit selfless and share you with the world so that you can learn, grow and see things with AND without me by your side.

Daddy and I talked about when we would want to look into a preschool program for you and we decided a Two's program would be a good time. We didn't see a need for you to go earlier, plus you won't be two until January anyway so really you would be two and a half going in if we started you next Fall and that suited us fine. A few months went by, your curiosity, vocabulary and vision of the world around you continued to grow. We still went to music and swim class every week, played with friends, learned new things, but I started to think you might be ready for something more. So, we talked about it again and decided to check into some schools in the area for a few days a week, just to see.

The first school we toured, we loved. They seemed to really have their stuff together, it was clean, well managed and adorable:) I also think that having worked in a preschool, I had an idea of what to look for and what to look out for. There were no red flags and it all felt like a place our family could fit in. We left the tour, talked about it and signed you up that day. Two days a week for four hours. In mommy time, that is an eternity. I have never been consistently away from you for any extended period of time, we've never hired anyone other than family as a babysitter and the thought of you being in someone else's care for that period of time, while exciting, was scary for me too. But I know it's the best for you and also will be good for me. I'm a firm believer in that parent's are better at parenting when they have some time to themselves. Even if that just means a non interrupted shower!

So, today we packed up your lunch, dressed you for a day of fun, and off we went to bring you to your first day. We met your teacher and saw your classroom last week at the meet and greet and you enjoyed every minute of that night so you were excited to see the room again. If it hadn't been for the loud door making a big noise right as we dropped you off, I don't think you would have noticed that we left. You cried for a minute because the sound startled you, then you were fine and playing with baby dolls again. You waved at us from the classroom window and off we went. Daddy said he saw your lip start to quiver, and I am very thankful I missed that because I'm not sure I could have walked away.

We get a daily report of what you're doing and when we picked you up your teachers said you had a wonderful day. That when we left you played and played then stopped, looked around, said "mommy? daddy?" but went back to playing. All that was going through my mind all day was "if she were really upset, they would just call us right?" to which Daddy continued to reassure me that, yes, they would call and no, you were not crying all day.

Then, we received pictures of you enjoying school! This was the best part (other than you lighting up and saying, "Mommy! Daddy!" when you saw is through the window at pickup) of the day!
Fun at recess driving the car and saying, "beep! beep!"
Your teacher said you got to choose which color paint
 you wanted, then you
 had fun painting and asked for more when you needed it:)

So, you had a wonderful first day and we're so proud of you!

Mommy & Daddy

Friday, June 5, 2015

Changes and Staying the Same

Last week Kennerly and I took a mommy/daughter road trip to Virginia. A very good friend (and sorority sister) of mine was getting married and it gave us the perfect opportunity to make a little trip out of it. I grew up in Fairfax, most of my friends still live there and until recently most of my immediate family (minus Cameron who is up here with me...or rather, I'm up here with him...) live there.

It's always been a struggle to get everything in while I'm there. Ever since I moved to Connecticut, I try to plan it all out when I go down to make sure I am able to split time between family, high school friends and college friends. I always stayed with my parents, maybe some nights with the mini White's because how can you say no to those little niece and nephew faces when they ask if Auntie Keek is gonna have a sleepover with them?! I never stayed with friends, M7 or Zeta. Now that my parents live in CT, I no longer really have a home base down there. My childhood home is no longer ours. That's a whole other blog though...

Jaime and Clifton are the best and are obviously happy to have me whenever I am in town, and I am so grateful that they have offered up their home as my new home base down there. But it got me thinking that why not make a trip to stay with a friend? And what better friend than one who has a little nugget only six weeks older than mine?! Enter: Annie Couns. My pledge sister, my soulmate, my best of the best. Anna and I really do have a connection that is on another level, it's been there from when we first met and has only grown stronger throughout the years. The fact that we get to do this mommy thing together is beyond a blessing. We talk pretty much everyday, texting about diaper rashes, quirky toddler behavior, recipes, water tables, amazon prime orders, you name it. So when I was planning my trip for Jessica's wedding, I said hey! why not extend the trip and have an actual visit with Anna?!

As I mentioned before, my trips to VA are usually jam packed with family and it's hard to get to see everyone I want to spend time with. And even though Anna lives in Northern Virginia, it isn't very close to where I usually stay. So, this time I decided to stay with her. We had two whole days of pure Feedy and Kennie bliss! (Dennis and Ivy were there too, and definitely added to the fun:)

It was so awesome to spend uninterrupted time with Anna and to watch our girls play together. Fiona taught Kennerly how to go through the dog door, Kennerly attempted showing Fiona how fun pools are, they played with chalk, bubbles and water tables, they ate meals together, clinked sippy cups to cheers, shared food, wore matching outfits, went to music class and made lots of memories.

Then, I dropped Kennie off with Uncle Clif and Auntie Jaime for my first full overnight away from my baby. Definitely not the easiest thing I've ever had to do. She was fine...I wasn't worried about her. Me on the other hand? A bit of a wreck. But I knew where I was headed and that was to a place full of Zetas, a lot of whom were in the same boat without their babies!

Anna, Dennis and I headed off for our road trip to Reedville. When we got there, we saw another pledge sister of ours, Erin, then Nicole and Brad and tiny baby Bailey (that baby got to come to the wedding with us;) And Kris, who I have always adored for many reasons, most of which because he's just a really good guy, but also because he reminds me of my oldest brother and happens to be (fraternity) brothers with Clifton and married to one of my favorite people on the planet, Margie!

A big group of us went out to dinner and had a great time catching up and enjoying one another's company. Then it was wedding time! After Melanie and I were left behind at the restaurant with no one to follow...we found our way to the ceremony site! Which was FULL of Zetas and Longwood alum! This was the closest I have been to a college reunion, so thank you Jessica for getting married!

It was all so beautiful, and it was absolute bliss looking around and seeing so many faces from my college years. Soooometimes I get social anxiety and I told myself to just say hi to everyone and have fun. The problem is...Facebook. I know a lot of what is going on in these people's lives even though I haven't seen them in years, and maybe even some I am FB friends with who I haven't ever met or only met a few times on a random Richmond visit. So, I could pretend to just be casual and ask how things are, what's going on in your life? Or I could drink way too much wine and blabber on about how beautiful said Facebook Zeta friends are...(I'm lookin' at you, Danielle Beckner...Walton:)

Either way, I saw so many beautiful faces I haven't seen in way too long and I had SO much fun hanging out and dancing with these girls. It was like nothing had changed, we were all on a dance floor, drinks in hand, singing (screaming) along with the music, jumping up and down, having the time of our lives. Take away Reedville, replace with Farmville and you have us almost 10 years ago. It amazes me how much stays the same even throughout all the change. We are engaged, married, living with a boy, have babies, own homes, are pregnant...but there we were, on a dance floor bouncing and smiling like we were 21 on bar night in Farmville. This time we had a nice, adult dinner instead of drinking Arbor Mist or Natty on the hall, we were celebrating a union of love instead of a 21st birthday, but the feelings were the same, the people were the same and I cannot say enough how much it means to me to have such wonderful women in my life. So, thank you Longwood, thank you Zeta and thank you MRS. FEARNS for a giving us a reason to do it all!

Let's do it again soon...with even more Zeta's!!!

Monday, May 18, 2015

16 Months (minus a day)

Dear Kennerly,

You are one day shy of being 16 months old. You are saying all kinds of words, stringing chains of signs together to convey your wants or needs (or demands!) and running EVERYwhere. You have one speed, GO!

Just within the past few weeks you started pointing at things and saying what they are or what you want from them. The most frequent are "go, go" when you climb onto your wheelie zebra and want a push, then "ball" and "car," which you say slowly twice at a time, "ball.....ball" "car....car." You say names, like Nanny and Poppa and Mommy and Daddy and for the first time this weekend you said, "Coco" for Cohen! That was very exciting!

If it isn't words for objects or people you're saying, it's sounds, before we even get to the playroom, as soon as we're headed in that direction you start making the sound for an elephant and putting your arm up as the trunk. You know your elephant lives in the playroom with his circus tent. The minute we get down there, you walk over to him, pat him on the head and make your elephant sound and trunk movement. You also sometimes wave to him when we leave.

The first animal noise you ever made was a cat, mostly because you just call Tiger "Mau" for meow. You were pretty young when you started doing that. Not long after was "oo oo" for "woof woof" but then that was pretty much it for animals for a while. After a hiatus from animal noises, you jumped right back in with the elephant, a bunny ("hop hop hop") a giraffe (looooong neck and you stretch that little neck up as far as your can..actually you have toppled over a few times straining that neck of yours!) an octopus, a snake (which is the cutest because you make this little face and spread your lips out like you're making a big fake smile and make the "ssss" noise in the back of your throat.) Sometimes you will make an animal noise when I don't think there's even one around. You are smarter than mommy. One day at the store, you started saying, "hoo hoo" over and over and I said, "yes, good that's what an owl says but I don't see an owl baby, there are no owls here." You just kept right on "hoo hoo"-ing and I finally realized there's a small stuffed owl on your shopping cart cover. I said, "oh! Owl!! that's right! there is your owl!" Smart little lady:)

For a cow for a while you would just purse your lips together to make an "m" but not make any sound. I could see the wheels turning in that little brain, and I would point and say, "Cow, Mmmoooo, that's right, go ahead and say Mmmmoooo." Last weekend, you finally made the sound come out after making that little M face!

We're still working on chicken, crocodile and others. You kinda have a monkey down. You point at the zebra and look at me in question, but I'm not sure I know what a zebra says...Fiona tried to clear that one up for us, but to be honest I'm still not sure;)

You walk SO fast, everywhere you go. You must get there quickly. You stomp your feet too, a loud little walker for such a tiny thing. You hug your teddy bears, give kisses to your baby doll, dip your snack in Tiger's water bowl, throw yourself onto the floor to have a fit, open and close doors, get into EVERYthing, throw piles of laundry around the room, put every article of clothing you can find on your head, pull an ENTIRE toiler paper roll all over the bathroom or whatever room you can reach it to before it breaks, you grab Tiger's tail and hold on tight as he runs away. You still love reading books, and most of all taking every book off it's shelf. You cannot get enough of the outdoors. The moment we get downstairs in the morning you point to the door and ask to play outside.

If you manage to stay somewhat clean all day long, it's usually inevitable that you ruin our "not a bath night" with one swoop of avocado all over your head at dinner, smashing it in an ear or nostril and mashing it in your hair. This is probably because you love bath time. Any water time really. You still enjoy swim class and are getting so (a little TOO) brave with wandering around the floating mats on your own.

You clean up when we sing the cleanup song from music class. I was shocked when I saw this for the first time. You actually picked up a toy, brought it to the toy bin, and dropped it in. Then, you went back, picked up ANOTHER toy and placed that in the bin as well. WHAT?! Mommy mind blown.

You say "night night" and sometimes something that sounds like "I love you." I tell myself everyday to put it in your baby book, I make notes in my phone so I know exactly when you are doing what. Then I walk past your baby books a hundred times and do nothing with it. I put you to bed and sit down for the first time all day. I glance over and see it on the shelf and can't bring myself to walk the 5 steps to get it and write in it.

Well, the computer is closer and blogging is easier than fitting all of this into a tiny space set aside for "first word ______________________" in the book.

Along with all of these fun things (and, yes I included the face-to-the-floor tantrum a fun thing because sometimes it just makes me laugh,) you also have some new teeth. Molars to be exact. And I think I hate them. Top two have broken through. "They" say once the tooth breaks through, the worst should be over. Hey, "YOU" shut it. "They" know nothing. "They" can suck it. "They" can come over and sleep (read: not sleep) at my house for a week while these sharp little white things from hell make their way through my daughter's gum line. One breaks through, the "worst" for that may be over, but there's always another right under the surface. Leaving red, swollen, puffy sad baby gums.

Okay, maybe teething should be it's own blog post...alas, you are amazing baby girl and sleeping or not, I love you more than words:)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

In Between: A 13 Month Update

Hello! So, I have about 5 unpublished posts on here that I haven't been able to make quite right. Instead of going back and figuring out why they're not ready to be posted, I decided to write a new one in hopes that starting fresh would make something publish-worthy. And what is more worthy of publication than a good old catch up on our life? (Thanks, Jaim:)

There is a whole post about what happened to our almost-13 month old. (Kennerly was in the hospital for five days, had surgery, showed us that she is the bravest, strongest little lady we ever could imagine...) But this post will be more about our almost-14 month old.


On March 11, 2015 at 8:51 am, you took your first real steps. It was just within the past week or so that you became interested in walking holding our hands. Before, if we would hold your hands and point you in the right direction and you would just sit down and crawl. You have been standing up (sometimes in the middle of the room) for over a month and cruising and side-stepping around furniture just as long, you just didn't have much interest in taking steps forward. Until last week.

We were in your nursery and you were walking holding both my hands, you let one go on your own and just for the heck of it, I let go of the other one to see what you'd do. You took about two steps toward where we were headed. I squealed! I looked at daddy, "she walked! She just did that without holding on!!" I was clearly stating the obvious, because he was standing right there and saw just what I saw.

We stood you back up and let you stand alone and tried to get you to walk back and forth between us. Then, you took about three steps toward daddy and the same back to me! We were cheering and smiling so big! You were pretty unfazed by the whole thing. I'm not sure you had any idea what you did.

So, now we know you can do it, still not positive YOU know you can do it, so you will walk more just holding a finger of ours and crawl if you really want to go somewhere. You are at the in-between stage, where we are just waiting for you to take off. Then there's no looking back. We were/are in no rush for you to walk. Not that we have been discouraging it, but we haven't been pushing it either. You do what you need to do, grow and meet those milestones at your own pace. Because once you do, you will never again be our baby who just rolls, or just sits up, or just crawls. All the big milestones (and pretty much most of the little ones too) are bittersweet. We get SO excited when you do something new and perfect it, but then there's this little part that becomes nostalgic for the baby who could only ever get anywhere by being scooped up and carried there.

People always say how it all goes so fast. I'm sure if you ask any mother they will tell you it feels "like yesterday" that their child/ren were crawling, toddling around, etc. Heck, I still remember tiny baby Ainsley pulling herself up on furniture and stumbling around trying out her new little language in her tiny little voice. Ainsley is seven now. SEVEN. (Kennie, please don't be seven overnight like she was!)

You have the sweetest little voice and some absolutely adorable words. You call Tiger "Mau" which we decipher to be a version of "meow" because ever since you were tiny tiny when we would see him I say, "good morning Tiger. Tiger, Kitty cat, meow. You see the kitty cat? Meow." So about a month ago you started pointing at him and yelling, "mau!" very excitedly. Now even when you don't see him, you call for him. Sometimes he comes. Those are your favorite times:) And whenever you see any cat you look at us and say, "mau!" (yes, you did this after seeing an orange cat on a cat food bag at the grocery store.)

You say mom and dad, sometimes mommy or daddy. sometimes mom-mom and daaaaad. You draw out the first syllable and cut off whatever syllables come next which is why mom and dad are more often than mommy and daddy. You also call Nanny "Nahn."

You use sign language for other things like "all done" and "milk." Milk is your favorite one. Probably because milk is your favorite thing. I call you my little milk monster. It's very cute when you do this sign with both your hands, you have the sweetest look on your face. Unless you are really wanting to nurse, then you have a crazed look on your face and those little hands move a mile a minute between signing and pulling at my shirt. See? Monster;)

As always, you inspire us everyday to be better. You crack yourself up, you smile so big, you snuggle and babble, you surprise yourself, you surprise us. We love you so much baby girl. Here's one more blog post for your baby book:)

Mommy & Daddy

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My Gift

So, I am in the early process of working on a special project for Kennerly. I am reaching out to friends, family and facebook (look at that alliteration!) and I would really appreciate any help I can get.

This project is something I have probably had in the works for many years, but having the amazing responsibility of getting to raise this precious little girl is what has pushed me in the right direction to get this done.

I'm not sure I will share with everyone completely what the idea is just now as it is still developing even in my own mind, but I do promise once it's finished, I will share with all! But in general, it is a gift I would like to give her throughout her life, lessons of how to be a strong, confident young lady. 

This is actually a gift parents just give their children without thinking about it, you parent everyday, you make decisions that will help mold your child into who they will be at every turn. So, I am reaching out to compile all the good (and bad, too because the bad is what helps us grow) you have found in your own parents, your own parenting. You don't need to be a parent to help me out with this. I am new at being a mom, I am new at having a daughter, but I am not new at being a daughter or having a mother, so the lessons I learned as a child will also be incorporated into how I parent. 

I'm really excited about this project and I am confident my friends and family will be able to contribute greatly to it, so thank you in advance! 

Now, onto what I need from you! (And please prepare for this list to continue, on Facebook, on this blog, through conversation, etc. so don't hate me for getting all philosophical on ya for the next...however long this may take me:)

If you had to define beauty in a way that would help a child understand, what would you say? Some words you might use? 

What are some things you want your child(ren) to know about life lessons as they grow up? Example; how to be confident in themselves and keep trying even if they fail? 

Anything your parents or family taught you either literally or by example that have stuck with you as you grew? Maybe something you wish you had learned in an easier way? (Side note: I fully understand that everyone must live their life, have their experiences and make their own mistakes to learn from them, but in a perfect world, if I tell you that you will burn yourself by touching a fire, you will not touch that fire:)
What are some ways you could convince your child to follow their dreams, or what was something that touched you and convinced you to keep going when all seemed lost?

If you could write a letter or even a book to your child, what would you want to say to them? 

Any little bit helps! If a word comes to mind to "define" beauty or strength to you, send me just that word. If you have an anecdotal story or experience, I'd love to hear it! If you can answer one or all questions or have any thoughts on this subject at all, please let me know!

You can leave your comments on here, on Facebook or email me! caitlynkennerly@gmail.com
Thank you! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Living App Free

So I have become more aware recently of how much time I spend on my phone. This little handheld device that holds so much power. Messages, emails, games, social networks, shopping apps, music, pictures...everything is available at the swipe of a finger. And I kind of hate it. I guess it's a love-hate relationship though. I love being able to keep in touch with my friends and family, to see their lives through immediate pictures, videos and messages. I love a good scroll through Zulilly, or the occasional game of candy crush. But I hate how often I find myself checking to see if any of those pictures, videos, messages or new sales have come in.

Most of the time spent on my phone is when I'm nursing. It's hard to read a book because I can't really turn the pages without a certain someone becoming distracted. Instead, I read on my Kindle app, one hand, one finger and I am all set. Even in the dark. But even then, I find myself thinking, put the phone down and stare at this amazing being in your arms. So most of the time, I do. I put the phone down and play with Kennerly's hair, stroke her soft little cherub cheeks, hum or sing to her and marvel at the miracle that is my baby girl. (But if I am being completely honest, this doesn't last the entire nursing session, which at night can sometimes be more than 20 minutes...)

However wonderful that may be, I still find myself on my phone way more often than I would like. And it's not even on purpose. If I open the phone to check a message or respond to an email, my fingers just glide right over to Facebook and see there's a little red number notifying me of some activity on my page. So, I click and get lost in Facebookland. I don't really care what people ate for breakfast or who is drinking a pumpkin spice latte, but my eyes scroll through the page anyway. Then I get lost until I hear a little giggle or shout from my baby because she sees Tiger walk into the room. Then, I put my phone down and watch her interact with her kitty cat. Then she moves on from that to a toy, or to rolling around the living room pulling apart her puzzle play mat. And I think to myself, "she was doing all this adorable stuff while I was sitting her with my face buried in my phone." Nothing like a child to make you live in the moment.

I have taken Facebook off my phone before, many times. And it actually feels good to not have that constant "need" to check what's going on. But then, I end up compensating with Instagram or just more browsing on Zulilly. So...my new goal is to weed out the apps in my life. First to go (again) will be Facebook. Doesn't mean I'm leaving the Facebook world (still have an ipad and laptop to waste time on) but it wont be at the touch of a finger anymore. Which silly enough, feels liberating? It sounds stupid to me even as I write it...but that is how it feels. Then, probably byebye to Instagram and Pinterest. Next would be Zulilly (that's gonna be hard...I am a sucker for cute baby stuff and sales at the touch of a button) then candy crush and dots (which is another favorite time-waster) until I have nothing left really but email and texts. And of course, WhatsApp for my M7 chat because I know I couldn't go a day without that.

The convenience and helpful apps, like waze, weather, music, camera, that sort of thing, those will stay. I don't spend much time wasting away on those. Although I do sometimes find myself watching videos of Kennerly when she is sitting right in front of me...tell me how that makes sense!

Anyhow, I thought I would share. I can't be the only one who feels like this. I look forward to being more present in everyday life. To not sit on the couch with my husband while I peruse the internet on my phone and he reads The Blaze. To watch my baby girl play with her toys and get excited when I read to her. No more living parallel. I'll let you know how it goes:)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dear Kennerly (Deutschland Edition)

Dear Kennerly,

You are now officially an international traveler! You have you first stamps in your passport, you experienced new places, new faces, new food, new everything! And not just new, but German! Last year, there were talks of your daddy's Aunt Christine (Ina's) birthday party in September. I was still pregnant with you and we weren't sure how we would travel with an almost 8 month old, so we never really said yes or no. After you were born and daddy and I got into the swing of this whole parenting thing, and you got into the whole being a baby thing, we decided we could do it! You're pretty go-with-the-flow so we thought why not?

After weeks of planning, purchasing things we would need for you to travel and some more planning, we were packed and ready to go! We headed down to Auntie Susi's house where we met up with Opa and Gigi, boarded our little bus and headed to JFK. We checked in, went through security and headed to get some dinner. You were a champ at the airport and we were called first for boarding because we're a "family with small children!" We got settled in, I nursed so your ears wouldn't hurt during take off, and after the flight attendants set up your bassinet, you slept in there the rest of the flight.

We arrived in Frankfurt at 11 am and Ina and Reiner picked us up to take us the half hour ride to Friedburg (where daddy was born.) We stayed at Tante Ina's house with Pia and Gina (who I knew you would love, because I do SO much:) and Auntie Susi.

We went out for your first German dinner (which also happened to be where I had my first taste of schnitzel from the Vaderland five years ago) and you had your first taste of German food! It was a lovely dinner, you were admired by the couple at the table next to us, they spoke German to you and you gave them big smiles.

On our second day, we walked around Friedburg, had daddy's FAVORITE treat of spaghetti eis and that night we went to the Herbst Markt to have some more authentic German food in the beer tent. You loved the music, the people watching, and Opa's singing! Daddy and I had beers that were almost as big as your body and you kept trying to get the mugs from us. (Disclaimer, no baby's were given any alcohol.) We walked around the fair so you could see all the lights and rides. Daddy won you a bunny by playing a shooting game. Then, Ina and I went on a crazy spinning roller coaster and laughed until we cried. Though I only speak a little German, and Ina only speaks a little English, I realized years ago that laughter is the same in every language. Hopefully you will be able to speak German some day...even if daddy wont teach you. We will have Auntie Susi's help, I am sure:)

Saturday night was the big party, we all dressed up and headed to the party hall to celebrate Ina. You had a lot of fun dancing with Reiner's granddaughter's who just loved you! We took some silly pictures, ate lots of good food and partied the night away with our family!

The next day, we took the train to Frankfurt to have lunch with some more of the family and had a wonderful day exploring some more German things.

On this trip, we didn't have much time for sightseeing, but when we go back at a time when you may remember the visit, we will go see the castle and the fields where daddy used to play, and you can enjoy the spaghetti eis with us!! (All you got this time was a little taste of the strawberry sauce,..and, of course you LOVED it:)

This trip was too quick, but worth every moment we got to spend with everyone. We look forward to more international trips with our little traveling baby.

Love you, Snugs!