Emmeline turned 3 yesterday. She’s been anticipating this day since her big day last year. Maybe there’s something extra special about birthdays for a middle child. She’s obsessed with them. She just ate up all the attention showered on her.
We had a packed day, all dictated by Emmeline. She planned out the activities, the menu, the presents. She was the boss.
We had a birthday breakfast with her favorite pancakes and rollies from home depot (sausages from Costco). I’m not sure who was more excited about the presents, the birthday girl or the big kids. Since we have WAY TOO MANY toys in our house and since the kids are saving their money to buy Christmas presents I encouraged them to find something special that was theirs to pass on to Emmeline for her birthday. (I figure we can only get away with those kids of gifts for a few years when she really doesn’t know the difference). They were so enthusiastic about this idea and went searching through their stuff to find something that Emmeline would really love. Charlie created a board game out of Legos called “Lexia” that he is going to make and play with Emmeline. He packed up all the pieces, all organized into little jars and bins, in a big box for her to open. She was excited, but he was ecstatic. Oh, the joy of giving. Hazel took some of her precious pearler beads that she got for her birthday and packed them into a box (her own little “kit” as Hazel called it) for Emmeline with a coupon for a class in using them. In past birthday pinches I have bought a few little trinkety kind of presents for the kids to choose from to give to the birthday child. This new approach was so much easier, cheaper and better. The kids all felt so much ownership over their gifts and everyone was happy (maybe especially me since I don’t have to now figure out where to put all the new gifts). After getting the big kids off to school Emmeline and Peter and I put the final stickers on Emmeline’s “Dry Big Girl” chart and headed up to Monkey Joes. Monkey Joes is a ridiculously expensive jumpy house place that Emmeline is obsessed with. She giggles and runs all rosy cheeked from slide to jumpy house to slide. We went there a few months ago when she filled up her first potty chart and she got hooked. It is so awesome to watch her so excited, flying down the steepest, scariest slide in the place. (It’s so steep and fast that Peter can’t even watch or he gets totally distressed).
Some of her little friends met us there. She was so excited to show off her three-ness and her birthday queen crown that came with a card from Joyce. On the way up she told me a few times about how her friends are going to say “Oh, look at that Emmeline with the crown, she must be the birthday queen.”
She loves jumping so much we decided maybe that should be Emmeline’s birthday tradition. Hazel and Charlie made me promise to let them come next time. Jumping would be a good tradition, right? Maybe in the future that could include all kinds of jumping – ranging from trampoline jumping to bungee jumping to cliff jumping to airplane jumping. Hmm. We’re going to think about that one. She does need a good tradition.
We stopped for a quick Costco hot dog for lunch (at her request) and rushed home to meet Heidi who is perhaps Emmeline’s most favorite person in the world. Heidi gave her this cute little home made card (which Emmeline now keeps in her new treasure box) and a little dolly pack and play. I wish I’d taken a picture of those two together. I guess the picture on the card captures what they look like pretty well, though Emmeline’s body should be a little less sticky and more roundy, oh, and Emmeline’s hair should be falling in front of her eyes.
We picked up the big kids from school and headed to the Stone Zoo with Joyce. I love that zoo. It’s right by our house, it’s small, it’s easy to get through everything in an hour and it’s only $2 a person with a library pass. Because we were there right before dusk all the animals were out to wish Emmeline a happy birthday. There was also a one armed (he had lost an arm) monkey there who put on quite a show for us before heading into his house for the night. Seriously, it was like watching an amazing acrobat. He was totally hamming it up, and we were his private little audience. Coolest thing I’ve ever seen at a zoo.
Since it’s Emmeline’s odd birthday year we didn’t have a friend party, but we did invite Joyce (maybe her best friend right next to Heidi) to come to the Zoo and have dinner and cake and ice cream after. And then it was home to make pizza and cake and open a few lingering presents.
I love how seriously they’re all taking blowing out the candles! I think it took all the self control those big kids could muster to let her blow by herself. Do you like the cake? Turns out instant pudding makes great frosting in a pinch when you’re out of butter.
the family birthday party.
Enough about the big day, I’ve been longing to write a blog post about Emmeline for a while here, almost daily Jeff and I talk about how we just want to freeze her right now (of course we’d have to freezer her at just the right moment – we wouldn’t want her stuck in a full blown tantrum forever). But, we do kind of want to freeze the whole package. There’s something about the third child that makes even their bad sides lovable. Maybe experience with the older two teach you that they grow through stages and that before you know it they’ll be through the terrible twos and they’ll be 7 and there’s no going back.
So, here are some things we love about Emmeline these days. She is an amazing little and big sister. She is so kind and gentle and loving towards Peter. She is always mimicking the way I talk to him, but in a way cuter voice. Today we had a little stroller accident at Monkey Joes that showed me just how much she really genuinely loves and cares about her little baby brother. As soon as we got there, Emmeline, in all her excitement starting pushing Peter, turbo style, across the floor. It was all slow motion to me, she was going pretty fast and suddenly she hit into one of the big thick gym mats and the whole stroller, slowly it seemed, but too quick to get to, toppled over and did a big flip. Luckily Peter was strapped in and totally fine aside from being a little spooked. Emmeline, on the other hand, was undone. I have never seen her so upset. When I got the stroller all upright again she, balling and shaking and totally flustered, hurried to Peter’s side and stroked his head to make sure he was ok. It was a raw moment of pure love and concern that cut through any question of whether or not she was just all cute and loving towards him because she was mimicking the rest of her family. She truly loves that boy and it whenever I see that love manifest (which is quite often) my heart skips a beat.
She is bursting with personality. She has so many great expressions and animations when she talks. This picture above is the closest I’ve come to being able to capture one of her expressions. She is just in that stage where she is expressing pretty complex thoughts and since she’s so wobbly still with her words and sentence structure she makes up for it by using totally awesome facial expressions. One eyebrow goes down, a lip curves up, a nose wrinkles, her eyes squint and she gets her point across. I have wished over and over and over that I could just push record on a little video recorder in my head to capture how funny and delightful and quirky she is in the moment. It’s just not the same Emmeline when I actually get her recorded. I love Emmeline’s shoulder shrug. She does this a lot, and this one little expression of body language says so many different things, so loud and clear.
I love putting Emmeline to bed. I really love it. I think we both do, and it’s so nice to have a job at the end of the day that is so enjoyable. We read a short book, we kneel at her bed and say a short prayer (which, when I can get her to say, are adorable) and then I kneel at her side and sing her a few little primary songs. She always wants the ones about Jesus. I look into her eyes and stroke her cheek (if I forget to do the stroking, she picks up my hand and moves it around on her cheek to remind me). Her eyes are miles deep as she listens so carefully to make sense of the meaning of the words. She lives in a world of words right now, trying to figure out how to put them together to frame her thoughts which are becoming more and more complex as the days go on. I can almost see the little gears spinning in her brain as she listens to the songs and as she tries to put big new ideas into words.
Emmeline is super duper neat and tidy (with her things, not so much with her personal hygiene….notice the constant food around her mouth). Always eager to put things away. She’s amazingly responsive to any of my requests to go get something, or put something in its place. Unlike some children around here, she hardly ever forgets what I’ve asked her to go and do. I quickly forget that I’ve asked her to go and
Emmeline is my little buddy these days with the big kids gone to school for so long each day. She is constantly exclaiming in surprise, MOM! It’s just you and me and Peter! She’s so aware of who's around and how she fits into the world.
Emmeline takes after Hazel and has a quirky sense of humor. Lately she’s been coming up to me about 5 times a day quoting me a part from Tangled. She says to me: “Huh, that’s so funny. He says, ‘you look……ridiculous” and she says the ridiculous in a really high voice. Check it out here in this video, around 1:10.
Emmeline is my little brain. She is always reminding me of what I need before leaving the house. Yesterday I sat down to the computer and said, exacerbated, “Oh boy, what am I sitting down here to do?” and without missing a beat she said, “You were going to email the library.” She was totally right that’s exactly what I had sat down to do. Maybe I’ll train her to be my executive assistant.
Emmeline is really interested in her place in the world lately. She is always asking about what things were like when she was a baby, she is delighted to hear about anything she said or did or wore or thought was funny. She loved hearing the story of her birth and her newborn days as we ate breakfast yesterday. She’s so busy in her little head, working out the world.
At one point while driving in the car she yelled out at the top of her lungs, “I’m FREE!!!” Three probably does feel pretty freeing.
Three really is the beginning of freedom and I feel like I there’s no holding her back from the world. She’s letting it in with arms wide open. I can’t wait to see the life she leads as it unfolds.
We had a nice birthday prayer, just me and her, at the end of the day yesterday. She knelt so reverently with her eyes closed tight (I peeked), trying to make sense of all my words of hope and blessing.
When the prayer was over I told her I wanted to eat her cheeks off because they were so cute. She told me that I couldn’t, “they’re attached.”