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(Photo Credit: Adrienne Gunde)

During summer break, the days that Emi went to school I worked on getting ready for her 3rd birthday party. Yes, I spent nearly two months getting it ready. I had something very specific in mind – a Goodnight Moon themed party – and the décor was strictly on my shoulders (Taro does all the food, ordering, and Costco/Trader Joe’s/grocery runs). Although it doesn’t sound that hard to be in charge of decorations, it actually is a time consuming process, but I am guessing it is only because I want everything to be perfect! And in the end, I feel like the party was a success and the goody boxes came out exactly the way I wanted them to. The lanterns were hung, the Happy Birthday banner was perfect (Thank you, Amy!), and the flags with Goodnight Moon inspired art was just right. After all, if Emi could identify that it was based off the book, I did something right, right? Emi loved it the minute she saw it and in the end, that is all that matters.

We celebrated with our usual taco guy – seriously the best tacos – and our grilled cheese people – Mix N Munch. In addition we had yummy sides from Aloha Café – spam musubi, cabbage salad, and macaroni salad – and dessert, which included three cakes, from Portos. My mom made chocolate chip cookies and macadamia nut cookies while I made Rice Krispy treats. We had one of Emi’s favorite sweets, macarons from Euro Pane, and Taro’s mom even made little cheesecakes. In general, we had an abundance of food, but that’s okay because nobody left hungry! The kids seemed to have a lot of fun, especially because the water table was set up for the little ones and there was a jumper with a water slide outside to keep the kids nice and cool. Overall, I feel like everyone left happy…and of course, we were exhausted after a long day! This year Emi really enjoyed her party and when I asked her if she had fun, she immediately said, “Yes.” So it was definitely successful and I am glad that she had a good time!

I cannot believe my baby girl is now three years old. As I anticipate baby #2’s arrival (all that newborn stuff again, lack of sleep, etc.), it makes me think back on Emi’s first day in this world. Looking at her now, I can’t believe she used to be the length of part of my arm (fingers to my elbow) or that she was barely starting to crawl when we went to Hawaii (when she was one). I don’t remember when she only knew a few words because she talks ALL THE TIME now and in full complete sentences. There was a time when she didn’t mutter a word and only cooed and made silly sounds and now she runs around saying, “Mommy, come here!” or “WHAT???” or “Huh???” (The latter two crack me up only because I am positive she learned that from me.) Just from 2 ½ to 3, there was tremendous growth in language, personality, and a sense of individuality. She is becoming her own person – stubborn at times (potty training, but she is finally peeing in the toilet – yay!), extremely loving and affectionate (I am showered with hugs and kisses and I always hold on to that hug until she is ready to let go.), funny (Emi makes voices and says things in humorous ways.), shy (still takes time to warm up to people), and overall just this wonderful, little person. I don’t quite remember what life was like before she came into my world because I wouldn’t trade the I’m-going-to-stick-my-face-in-yours-for-at-least-five-minutes-huuuuug-do-you-want-a-cracker-question-mark-oh-toodles-ay-ya-ya-two-Meme’s-car-ten-pancakes-ten-eggs-sleep-in-Meme’s-bed-go-to-sleep-wake-up-and…-do-you-want-to-be-a-mommy moments. Even on the roughest of days or the days when I am extremely tired, those are the moments I treasure and life would not be as fulfilling without Emi in it. She truly is amazing and I just look forward to more with her. I know things will change a bit with #2 in the picture, but I still intend to go to ballet/tap class with her, do Parent and Me soccer, and sing silly songs with her and dance around the house. #2 will just have to join in on the fun!

As always, I try to do my best in keeping a list of things Emi learned within the last month, but it is much more difficult because there is SO much…and it is hard to keep track of it all! But here are a handful of things: pancakes, gym, vacation, exercise, It’s cute, fairies, amusement park, good food, fall fun, sunny summer, glove balloon (the previous five are names of the books we read each night), beach, Trader Joe’s, Target (If we are driving within the vicinity of Target, Emi will actually ask if we are going there!), Fresh and Easy (Notice she likes to mention places we go grocery shopping.), Okinawa (the name of the bread she likes),alphabet, Oh toodles! (a catch phrase in her book, but also in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show), Emi and Meme are best friends (my favorite saying), Emi and Meme are sweethearts, Emi, Baba, and Meme are sweethearts, Thank you so much, Peanut is meowing, Let’s see, Stop it, and Geez Louise. Emi still likes having me spell things out like couch, sticker, floor, elephant, tiger, noodle, cloud, crab, Meme’s hair, cupcake, soup, and tomato. She completely made me laugh when she said, “I’m going to turn around and go on the freeway.” Since when did she start driving?!? Last, Emi loves to roll, hop, and dance with Grandmama and just be her silly self.

I don’t know what this year will bring, but I do know that the adventures with Emi will continue and it will be a ton of fun. I’m sure it will be tiring taking care of a 3 year old and a newborn, but it will be fine. I mean, #2 will just have to nap when Emi and nap, right? Fingers crossed!

So happy 3rd birthday, Emi mama! You are my love, my heart, and my everything! A million huuuugs and fish kisses and as long as you are willing to stick your face in mine, I will always let you.

Side note: The song we made up and is now a part of Emi’s nightly routine: The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain…to see what he could see. He saw another mountain, he saw another mountain, he saw another mountain…and ate a really big cracker!

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The photos below (Our sneak peek!) were taken by Adrienne Gunde for Emi’s three year old portraits. I love them so far and as always, it was great working with Adrienne. She took our wedding photos and is now our family photographer!

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The summer is officially at an end (especially with the return back to work) and we are one step closer to celebrating Emi’s 3rd birthday. Seriously, where did the time go? How is Emi going to turn 3 so fast and where did summer go?!? Despite August coming to a close, Emi and I really did enjoy the time we spent together and I am amazed at how she is turning into this lil’ person with a mind of her own.

Soccer ended well for Emi. She definitely felt more comfortable running around and kicking the ball on her own more and I can definitely see the growth and change from nearly a year ago. She was able to follow instructions more and was far less timid than last September when we first started. She was still really shy around the coaches, but she loved kicking the ball to knock over the cones and was not hesitant to kick the ball into the goal. She even started doing the cheer, “Kids love soccer!” I don’t think she is ready for the next class up where the kids play on their own, but I definitely think we can do Parent and Me Soccer again. It will definitely just be a balance of going to soccer practice and taking care of baby #2, but I do want her to continue to go “kick ball” (as we call it) since she seems to enjoy it.

Swimming lessons ended well, too. Emi finally felt comfortable blowing bubbles and crawled along the wall on her own. She still didn’t like putting her face in the water or going underwater at all, but she at least learned something new this summer! The instructors this time around sang songs with the kids and Emi really enjoyed that. She would sing nice and loud until someone noticed, but Emi was much more interactive this time around. I’m thinking about taking her to an indoor facility to continue Parent and Me swimming lessons only because I do want her to feel comfortable in the water…and because she had a great time in the pool when we went to Palm Springs.

Speaking of which, we took a mini-vacation to Palm Springs before I went back to work. Emi loved it because we went to the pool everyday – sometimes twice a day – and she played in the area for kids where they had sand toys and a shallow wading area. The Omni Hotel is really kid-friendly and family friendly – a lazy pool, splash pads, and a sand area that leads into the water – and it was a perfect choice for us. Emi didn’t like the lazy pool, but Taro was able to hang out and I didn’t mind sitting in the shallow water while Emi bobbed up and down with her floaties. In addition to hanging out at the pool, we went on the Aerial Tramway while we were in Palm Springs and Emi loved riding it. The view was magnificent, but the little that we hiked was definitely hard on this body.  Overall it was a good trip and Emi had a great time swimming, going out to eat, but most of all, spending time with Taro. Taro has been working 6-7 days a week so it was nice to finally have him home!

I am especially thrilled with Emi’s progress in her Ballet/Tap class because she finally did the exercises on the mat! Somehow things just clicked and she got over the fear of doing the mat. She is no longer afraid to do the hops, can do this Army sort of crawl, and does her own version of rolling on the mat (includes some spins and crawling). She is going to continue the Mommy and Me class in September and I look forward to seeing her continue to have fun. As long as she continues to say it is fun (along with all her other activities), we will continue to do them.

We finished our last session of the music class and I am a bit sad that we won’t be attending anymore, but I know things are going to be crazy in September (Emi’s birthday party and two other birthday parties, family photos, getting myself mentally and physically ready for baby #2, and a list of things) and October and we will need our Saturdays free. This last session was definitely one of the best since Emi would dance and march along, sing the songs aloud, hop, and even repeat melodies that her teacher would hum. I remember the very first class we took and Emi cried, but also clapped when everyone clapped at the end of the songs. Emi has shown tremendous growth since that very first class and it has really made me proud that she is less shy (although she is still very shy). We will miss taking classes, but I definitely look forward to something new – Parent and Me Tennis (with Taro, of course)!

Emi is really into spelling words right now. She can actually spell bus, open, water, and Meme on her own. Emi loves pointing out the exit sign at restaurants and such and spelling it out. What she is really into right now is having me spell out words and that just makes me realize how many words she knows. So here are just some of the words I had to spell out: fork, spoon, pillow, necklace, chair, water, Grandpapa, Grandmama, radio, phone, bowl, Hello Kitty, hand, Meme, Baba, knee, mole, markers, toy, cup, star, plate, hot dog, question mark, comma, exclamation mark, chicken, corn, munchie face, arrow, tree, wall, basket, window, Meme’s car, red, green car, silver car, mirror, book, front, sandal, numbers, stairs, zero, two, twenty-two, orange, blue car, and cloud. Here are some new words Emi learned: toothpaste, thumb’s up, bee, bumblebee, honey, beehive, tires, grumpy bear, vacation, dude (which she calls Taro), sweetie (which Taro calls me and now Emi calls me that), pool, swimming, handle, turquoise, Wait a minute…where’s my kiss?, and I think so. I’m sure there is more since Emi talks nonstop and it is just crazy that I can hold a conversation with this lil’ one!

Emi’s birthday is right around the corner and I am looking forward to celebrating the big 3!

Emi is really into…having me spell out words, pointing out other Priuses on the road and saying “Red Meme’s car” (whatever color it may be) or pointing out another Leaf and saying “Baba’s car,” reading books every night, specifically her Minnie Mouse board books, Mickey Mouse board books, Goodnight Moon, and My World, Sofia the First, Mickey Mouse and his clubhouse friends (likes to say she is going to ride the glove balloon because of her books), dancing with grandmama, going to Knott’s Berry Farm, piggy back rides, eating breakfast (according to Emi, she eats 10 pancakes and 10 eggs every morning), and rubber duckies, of course…

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You cannot beat spending an afternoon at a library – a super cool library, by the way – filled with books, a gigantic dinosaur, a space shuttle, a lighthouse, a giant aquarium, and a super cute, handsome boy who goes by the name Chase. So many of Chase’s favorite things were located in one spot, including an outdoor water play area, that he had a blast not only taking photos, but trying to complete dinosaur puzzles and cooling off while laughing merrily in the water. Chase’s laugh and overall playful personality is infectious and you can definitely see why his mommy and daddy are smitten over him. He has the best smile and his silliness makes you want to join in on the fun. Chase made his mom make fish faces and pretend to swim in front of the aquarium and it was just a priceless and fun mommy and son moment.

I love that I get to see this lil’ man grow up and feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to photograph him once again. Thank you, Becky and John for welcoming me into your family and I look forward to hearing more stories about Chase and seeing all his cute photos online!

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