Usually I am the one behind the camera at our house as I am sure you can tell because there are very few pictures that have me in them.  I got this cute wooden camera before Em was born, as inspired by who other than Tara Whitney when I had seen it on her blog a long time ago.  I loved it, and in general love wooden toys.  This sits on Emerson's bookshelf beside her rocker where we read stories every night, and after stories, Emerson practices saying 'cheese' while Terry takes her picture with her camera, and then she turns it around on him and practices taking his picture.  She loves looking through the hole and pressing the little 'shutter' button. 

Last weekend, Rebecca was in town Friday night and she had her real camera with her during bedtime routine and story time.  She snapped this cute picture of Em taking her picture as well as the next one of story time.  Her cute little tongue has been sticking out of her mouth a lot recently while she is concentrating or really enjoying something.  It is hilarious.  And I L-O-V-E story time with this girl.  She is so snuggly and so smart, if I do say so myself.

On our normal Saturday morning trip to Owen's Bagels, I even got to be in front of the camera for a quick snap of a picture with my favorite little girl.  Even though she isn't smiling, I just love this picture of her with her big eyes and gorgeous curls.  I never knew I'd have a little one with blonde hair, blue eyes, and big curls, but I sure do love her this way, and I am more than proud to be her mama - even if it is not well documented in photographs!  As her mama, I am super looking forward to a long weekend off of work with her - happy Memorial Day weekend!


Concert on the Green

Another one of our favorite things around Charlotte in the summer is the Symphony's "Pops in the Park" series which is a huge event.  So much fun is had at the huge outdoor ampitheatre where you go early in the morning to stake your claim to a spot, lay out your tarp/blanket and come back later that night with a picnic dinner and drinks packed and sit around with friends in the scorching heat :)  I'm sure there have been pictures from Pops on the blog in summers before.  A few weekends ago, we headed to Davidson with Beth's family and some of their friends for Davidson's concert series which is very similar.  Emerson got to stay up past her bedtime and had fun being the life of the party while also taking some breaks for sticker decorating, toe nail painting, dancing, and trying on other women's jewelry. 
She was quite proud of her accessories, and accessories isn't something that she has had much of a chance to get into at our house.  I wear the same necklace every single day, watch and my wedding ring and somedays I might try to make it exciting with one of my 3 pairs of earrings.  So this was a great treat to her.  It is so funny how she has intrinsically taken to maternal and girly things like this.  She loves a race car for sure as well, but mostly she loves playing tea, playing with her dolls, doing the laundry and unloading the dishwasher with me. 

Em and Beth danced to some good beach music (while Beth whispered sweet nothings into her ear!) by Band of Oz and then she enjoyed her view from above perched on Terry's shoulders watching everyone else dance.  The most exciting part of the night for her was probably the firetrucks that zoomed by on the street right in front of where we were sitting.  Please note Terry's face in the picture below is staged to look like Emerson's expression, and while a little more zoned, it again amazes me how they can look so alike.

You will also see though that they can both quickly go from being zoned to their same wild and crazy selves.  While she enjoys girly things, Emerson is far from prissy and loves being thrown around.  Not gently tossed, but thrown!  Crashing onto the bed, pillow fights, being thrown high up in the air, etc.  This is the same throwing game that you saw in the last post from Midwood Mania - Emerson loves this trick, and judging by his expression, I'd say Terry thinks it is a pretty great time also.
We had a great time enjoying the music and food, and mostly the company on this fun night in Davidson before the heat of summer came on full force.  Emerson was sleepy by the time we left and changed into her pajamas before hopping in the car and was snoozing hard by the time we got home.  Thanks Williams family for a fun night out with you all, we love you!
(This dress is one that my grandmother made that I wore as a little girl also - it is so sweet on her!!!)


Midwood Maynia

One of our favorite times in our neighborhood is Midwood Maynia.  It's the kind of thing that makes you proud to live where you live, have the neigbors that you do ... and never want to have to move to suburbia.

We know it might happen one day, but this is just one of the reasons that we would really mourn Plaza Midwood.  When we first moved to Charlotte, I dreaded the stereotypical Charlotte lifestyle - but our neighborhood was such a great breath of the fresh air we both hoped to find in a place we wanted to live - a neighborhood, but not one with a club house and HOA fees.  Neighbors that you can borrow butter or a cup of sugar from, but not neighbors that live so close to you that they could toss that stick of butter to you from the front porch.  And the two most important parts are: neigbors that don't look just alike, and in fact, all look quite different; and neighbors whose houses don't look just alike...but you wish your house looked like all the parts of lots of them (does this make sense?).

During Midwood Maynia, the day starts out with a Pet Parade - which is hilarious and we gave Salem our own "best behaved" dog award for herself.  Not necessarily the best behaved dog during the parade, but the best year she has ever had in the parade 4 years running - BY FAR.  The pet parade (led by the local highschool band) - the schools not being something we love about our neighborhood - ends in the park where there are festivities that last all day long: balloons, face painting, free give aways, bounce houses, ice cream, bands, food, beer, vendors, lots of people and lots of fun.  Emerson loves to be around lots of people and take it all in, and she was so excited.  She really wanted to get to go in the bounce house, but was too small - so Terry gave Emerson a bounce house of her own.  He tossed her up in the air and caught her down low, and she cracked up every time - clearly, so did he.  I love this picture of Terry & Em - don't you see what a great dad he is and how much they love each other?  It's priceless.

All of that throwing around wore everybody out, and Emerson was rewarded with one of her favorite things - ice.  But even better, shaved, flavored ice.  We tried to let her eat mostly off the top and let Terry drink all the syrup out of the bottom of the cup...but she is a smart girl, and she wanted that sugary syrup! She loved this icee!
...can you tell?

After we walked around and picked up some 'loot' and Terry guessed how many dog bones were in a jar (and came in 3rd place and won us 3 free nights for Salem of boarding!) we went and listened to the bands where Em and I danced and then we shared some food.  Emerson tried so shredded pork tacos with Terry for the first time - and loved them, but can you see who really wishes that they were getting in on the pork taco action in the photo below?  Unfortunately it was not her lucky day, she had eaten one too many board books this week...


Emerson made quick friends with our neighbors at the pavillion while we listened to the bands and fell in love with a dog who was sitting in his own chair.  She would walk over and pet the dog, or just point at it and crack up laughing - she thought it was hilarious to see the dog get in and out of the chair and she just laughed and laughed every time she looked at it.  Too cute. 

Oh Plaza Midwood, how we love you and hope we do not have to leave you too soon...
Here's to more neighborhood fun times, icees, and days outside at the park!


Budding Artist

Recently, I got some finger paints for Emerson to try out some new arts and craft activities with her.  She enjoys coloring with crayons and likes playing with sidewalk chalk, but mostly now just likes to carry little nuggets of the sidewalk chalk around like rocks, etc. - you see that this is becoming a theme.  So before bath one night, I stripped her down to her very wet diaper that needed to be changed but I didn't want to waste a diaper change since she was about to get in the bath diaper and we headed outside to avoid too much of a mess inside.

 She wasn't sure how she felt about using her fingers at first, so she just helped me get it set up and then enjoyed dipping the paintbrushes in.  It's amazing how intrinsically kids figure out how to do things; but it also reminds me to appreciate and be so thankful for how intrinisically she figures out how to do so many things because I work with so many children who can't and don't. 

Once she had painted a little with the brush, she let me paint her hands and then made handprints and kept painting with her hands for awhile.  Once she was finished, she was covered in paint from head to toe and was ready to get in the bath.  Lessons learned during this art project: finger paints do come off of cement sidewalks with a simple spray of the hose; Emerson is a great artist; and most of all, I am going to have a hard time not hanging up every single thing that she brings home from preschool.


Nashville Vacation

In case you were beginning to think that Emerson was the only person in our family, we wanted to remind you (and ourselves) that we are still alive and well and actually got away this weekend to spend some time together.  It was once again, time for an intern reunion for a wedding with some of my favorite people in my life.

We all still are amazed that 7 years later, we continue to get together every year and have the BEST time, and are certain that we are the only group of interns Windy Gap has ever seen come through that has bonded the way that we have.  Terry and I realized in the car on our drive home that just in our 4 years of marriage, including our wedding, we have gotten together seven times - from LA, NY, NC, SC, VA, GA all together with a whole lot of love - this time around, we were short 2 interns and one spouse though.  There are not words for this kind of love and how I love these people.  Time with them is such a reminder of the way God calls us to be in community together and such a picture of the way He loves us and wants us to love each other. 

We left Emerson at Beth's house on Thursday night and hit the road to spend the night with Bella & Molly in Knoxville to break up the drive.  Friday morning, we hit the road so that we could spend some time with Stephanie & Shaka and sweet Emma Ruth.  As an added bonus, Kelly & Seth were also there; but we didn't get to see Seth because he was visiting with other friends as well.  I haven't gotten to spend much time at all with sweet Emma Ruth, so this was so great for me to get to love on my friend's baby girl and to catch up with my friends at the same time.  It was very surreal to sit with these girls and their husbands and talk about our children - when did I grow up?  How are Kelly and I not still in middle school or Stephanie and I not still driving around listening to 102 jamz in highschool?  Surreal as it was, it was wonderful  The weather was gorgeous so we sat on the front porch and ate lunch and caught up for a few hours and it was so fun.  While of course I missed Emerson all weekend, it was glorious to be on such a tight schedule or trying to get back somewhere to relieve someone.  We left Steph's house and headed down the road to meet another friend who used to live in Charlotte and is now in Nashville for some drinks out on another porch.  Did I mention the weather was glorious?

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out with the interns at dinner, at the hotel, and around Brentwood - right outside of Nashville where the wedding was.  The wedding Saturday was beautiful and with an awesome service.  I love being reminded of my vows to Terry at others' weddings and refreshing my heart to my role as a wife and how blessed I am to have Terry as my husband.  The reception was so fun as well with lots of personal touches and great indoor/outdoor space so we could take advantage of all of it!  We snagged the bride and groom for a quick picture and will look forward to many more reunions that will now include Katie at Robby's side. 

You all must have been praying because after two mornings of not being able to sleep in, this morning when we rolled over, the clock said 10:20, central time!  That's 11:20 to my body, folks!  WOO HOO.  I can't even begin to remember the last time I slept that late - ever.  It was glorious.  Now we are in Knoxville waiting to finish our trip tomorrow morning and get home to see our baby.  We have missed Emerson tons of course but have gotten lots of text message pictures from camp Grammy & camp Beth so felt like she was with us much of the time!  And best of all, we had such a great time being together, and know that one of the best things we can do for Emerson in her life is be sure she knows how much we love each other; and so we know that weekends like this are so great both for us and for her!  And this man sure is easy to love!