What's New with Emma

Let’s start out the week with some cuteness, shall we?! Today, I’m sharing what’s going on in Emma’s life at the moment… because Girlfriend is busy. ;)

Also, fair warning: This is a LONG post. I’m feeling good today, and I’m in the mood to chat. 😂 With any hope, it’ll be a somewhat entertaining post!

Here we go:

She might be going to pre-k next year!

GAH! There’s been so much drama surrounding this, and a whole lot of community meetings attended. But basically, our public school almost cancelled its pre-k program for next year. (For good reason, actually. It was free, and most of Chicago does not have access to free public preschool. Totally unfair.) But at the moment, it looks like it will continue as a tuition-based program for a couple of years until the city rolls out universal free pre-k. Of course, there’s still a lot up in the air, and nothing’s set in stone yet. If possible, though, we’d love to have her go to the local school instead of going the private route, as we want to be as involved in the community as possible, and we want to back and support Chicago Public Schools. Fingers crossed that it all works out!

She’s going through clothing VERY quickly

Holy goodness. Emma’s always been a timid kid when it’s come to play, but at two and a half, she’s really come into her own. Whereas she used to hang back at playgrounds, she’s now the first to run to the equipment and to make friends. It’s great. And I honestly think we have her peewee program to thank for that! She and her little pals have so much fun together, and she’s become so much more social and confident. Gone is the shyness!

Because of this shift, we’ve also had to change up her wardrobe a bit, and invest in true play clothes. This was a bit of a struggle at first, haha, since Emma gravitates toward dresses and tights. (Literally every morning she tells me she wants to wear “a dress with pink flowers.”) But we were going through that stuff way too quickly, which was getting expensive… and come on! Kids should be in play clothes, right?! So yeah. Now she owns a lot of leggings, jeggings, sweatshirts, long-sleeved t-shirts, and button-down shirts (from the little boys’ section). And it holds up a lot better than those dresses and tights.

You might remember that Emma partnered with Walmart to promote its top toys for kids over the holidays, and then learned a great lesson by donating most of the presents to kids in need. It seriously had such an awesome impact on her, and we’ve continued our “sharing is caring” lesson well past Christmas, donating unused or gifted toys to other children, and also sharing our most-loved toys with our friends. (No more “mine!”)

So we were pretty excited to continue the partnership this year.

We donated a ton of Emma’s clothing that was either impractical or too small (remember this?!), and picked up some new cute and affordable pieces that would be far more useful for this stage of her life. And in this post, she’s wearing a few of her favorites from The Children’s Place, which Walmart Fashion now carries! Everything is well-made and can handle serious toddler play… and we love that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

  • Pink jeggings:

    Emma is NOT a fan of jeans. I remember hating them as a kid, too; they were scratchy and uncomfortable. Leggings, though? Sign her up. The only problem there is that they disintegrate pretty quickly. So we’re meeting in the middle and going with jeggings, which are soft and comfy but last far longer. I picked up this pair of hot pink jeggings which have a bit of a sparkle to ’em, which Emma adores, and this pair of heart-printed jeggings which are equally as comfortable.

  • Gingham button-down:

    I’m really into dressing Emma in button-downs from the little boys’ section. 🙈 It’s SUCH a cute look! I just pair ’em with more feminine pants and pink bows and whatnot. We also own this pink button-down, which you may have seen on Instagram Stories because Emma loves it.

  • Sparkly “Elsa” boots:

    It’s still pretty chilly in Chicago; we’ll have the occasional 60- or 70-degree day, but most days are in the 40s and 50s… so these bow booties have come in handy lately! They’re not winter boots, but they keep Emma’s toes toasty for this unpredictable in-between season we’re in. She calls them her “Elsa boots.”

  • Gingham stroller:

    Not an article of clothing, but I had to include it. Emma’s babydoll stroller recently fell apart–the seat literally ripped in half–so we got this cute gingham one as a replacement now that we’re spending more time outdoors. I can’t find her exact Bunny, but it’s a Jellycat stuffed animal, which are our favorite. They’re super soft and well-made, and have that classic look to them. We have this oversized rabbit and this little monkey… and I’m thinkin’ we might need to pick up this lobster when we head to the Shore this summer. ;) So funny!

She’s entered into the “Why?” Phase

Someone! Quick! Send help. 😂 The “Why?” Phase is such an important part of toddlers’ development, and I love that Emma doesn’t just accept what we say as fact; she questions and wonders. But nearly everything we say these days is followed with “Why?” — and it can wear on a parent. For example,

“It’s time to get in the car!”


“Because we’re going food shopping.”


“Because we’re out of food!”


“Because we ate it up.”


And so on and so forth. ;)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve learned that the best way to turn a somewhat annoying habit is to start a real conversation about the topic at hand, even though it might take extra time. When Emma asks “why?” a zillion times, it’s because she’s curious about the world around her and wants to talk about it! So instead of answering a thousand “why?” questions in a row for her, I’m now engaging her and asking her questions, too… and it’s been working.


“It’s time to get in the car!”


“Because we’re going food shopping. We have so many things to buy! Hey, Emma, tell me about some of your favorite foods that you’d like to pick up while we’re at the store!”

BOOM. We then start having a conversation, and suddenly, Emma’s thrilled, the “whys” stop and Mommy keeps her sanity. I also have to say that I’m loving these little chats we’ve been having. Crazy that I can chat with my kid, you know?! She’s her own person, and it’s amazing to watch the world through her eyes.

She talks about “Bean Sprout” all the time

“Bean Sprout” is the new baby, and it’s nickname that Emma and her Gammy came up with since we don’t know the baby’s gender yet. It’s so, so sweet. Emma is constantly talking to and kissing my belly, and she’s also developed a renewed affinity for baby dolls and taking care of her stuffed animals. She rocks them, puts them to bed, strolls them around, feeds them, and sings to them… and tell us that soon, she’ll do the same for Bean Sprout. I’m thrilled that she’s so pumped about becoming a big sister!

That said, I’m also very aware of the fact that adjusting to a new baby brother or sister can be hard on a toddler who’s had the spotlight for her entire life. So we’re planning for that, and want to do everything in our power to make it a fun transition–not a tremendously difficult one. Talking frequently and excitedly about the baby’s arrival has been super helpful, as has been chatting about how much everyone will need Emma’s help. (“What can you do when the baby is crying?” “How can you make bath time fun for the baby?” “Let’s practice some of our favorite songs for the baby!” Etc., etc.) Oh, and a reader suggested having Emma pick out a little gift for Bean Sprout, and Bean Sprout giving Emma a little gift. Love this idea!

We’re also planning some awesome activities for her, during which she’ll get quality one-on-one time with each parent… and the grandparents are making it their MISSION to make the transition as fun as possible for her while they’re visiting. (My in-laws are going to take her to the lake house for a few days, and my parents have lots of fun ideas!) We think scheduling playdates with her friends will be helpful, too.

Maybe I’m overthinking this?! Just want her to feel loved and needed during this life change! But I think we’re on the right track.

She’s chatty

If you find yourself in an elevator with Emma, be prepared to TALK. It’s amazing how much a child can change in such a short period of time, but our little girl has seemingly gone from shy to outgoing overnight. It’s so much fun. She’s the queen of hilarious non-sequiturs, and upon meeting you for the first time, she’s quick to share that Noodle jumps on her. (I mean, Noodle does sometimes jump on her when she greets her, though really not sure why this is such a focus of all conversations, haha.) Honestly, Mitch and I struggle to get a word in some days, and often, we feel like we’re unable to talk to each other until after Emma goes down at night. Mitch, if you’re reading this, HI! I miss you! ;)

She’s “reading” Dr. Seuss, Highlights for Kids, and “find and seek” books

Lately, with being pregnant and tired and with the cold weather, I’ve struggled with screen time. Emma loves shows like Pinkalicious and Peppa Pig, and she’s a huge fan of any Disney princess movie. I’m definitely giving myself some grace during these last few weeks, and trying to not feel like a bad parent when I “give in.” Sometimes, cuddling on the couch with my toddler while we watch “Frozen” for the thousandth time is the best I can do, and that’s okay! But it only takes a little bit more energy to sit on the couch and read 10 books together, and she honestly seems to like it just as much. It’s also way more fun and a better bonding experience. (And obviously more educational.)

Dr. Seuss is currently our favorite, and we’re been buying the board books like they’re going out of print. My parents also sent Highlights for Kids–which I didn’t even know was still around–and Emma really looks forward to that arriving! Finally, “find and seek” books are a huge hit. In the morning, when we go into her room to get her, we almost always find her reading… and I love that.

That said, I will NOT feel guilty when I “need” to turn on a show because the baby is karate-chopping my kidneys again and I want to lay down. ;)

If left to her own devices, she’d only eat cereal

Oh my gosh. It’s an obsession. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, she wants Chex mixed with Cheerios, and it’s starting to become a problem, haha. She eats it for breakfast alongside apple slices, but we’re trying really hard to keep it to that. It’s hard, though! A lot of times, I’m like, “Okay. It’s 7 p.m. and my kid is refusing to eat but needs to go to sleep. Send her to bed with an empty tummy or give her the cereal?! I just don’t know!” I will say that she’s more open to eating other foods when she hasn’t been snacking, when she isn’t exhausted, and when we involve her in the kitchen… so trying to keep those factors in mind while planning meals. ;) But you know: it isn’t always that easy, and temper tantrums are often unavoidable.

She loves helping in the kitchen and making coffee

Like I said, she loves being involved in the kitchen, which has been wonderful for Mitch, who also loves cooking and all things coffee. (I feel like I’ve mentioned this before, but Mitch is a coffee fanatic. He really needs to write a post on this; he’s developed a love for it over the last couple of years and it’s been so nice for me! 😂) Anyway, Emma runs to the kitchen every morning to make breakfast and coffee with him, and it’s the cutest. Her favorite toys are make-believe food and cooking sets, too. Give her a good sushi, coffee or baking set, and she’ll be off in her own little world for hours! With any hope, she gets Mitch’s skills in the kitchen and not mine. ;)

She’s ballet-obsessed

Did you see this post?! Sigh. We look forward to Wednesdays–when she has her class–so much. Frankly, once a week isn’t enough! So we’ve been taking advantage of the empty dance and yoga studios at our gym every few days, and having our own dance parties while blasting Disney songs on our iPhones.

I’m just so happy that she has an activity that she loves, especially since peewee is only a half-day program. Next year, we’re going to look into soccer, t-ball, basketball or gymnastics, as there are a lot of three-year-old programs for them. It goes without saying that I don’t want to overload or overtire her, especially if she’s going to full-day preschool. (She’ll only be three!) But I think having a weekend activity would be fun, too. We’ll see, though. :)

She’s into cameras

SO HAPPY ABOUT THIS. I said this in a recent Instagram post, but Emma’s been hounding me to let her use the “big camera” for a while now, so recently, I set her on a yoga mat at the gym, gave her some simple directions, strapped the thing around her, and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t have to head to International Camera Inc. down on Wabash, which is where I have all my repairs done in Chicago. (Fun story: One time, the guy held up my camera and was like, “Listen. I repair National Geographic photographers’ cameras—you know, ones that have been stomped on by hippos. And I’ve never seen anything like this before.” 🙈💁🏼‍) Anyway, Emma totally killed it! (In a good way. 😜) Sure, we have some hysterical ones in there, but they’re perfect, and I’m totally framing one.

And I have to admit: a tiny part of me wonders whether my daughter will grow up to love photography, too. I’ll never push her, as I want her to discover and develop a passion on her own for *whatever* makes her come alive. But I do daydream about going on photo hunts and trying out new techniques and gear together… and perhaps one day starting a little business. Something she could have in her back pocket, as a side gig; I don’t know. 🙂 Regardless, I’m grateful for these “maternity photos”—the only ones we’ll have taken—snapped by our tiny daughter in a leotard and ballet slippers.

She’s learning how to write

She can write her name! This is very exciting. We just work on it while we eat our lunch together, and she’s made a lot of progress recently. Now that she’s mastered her name, she’s trying to learn how to write “Kelly.” I won’t lie; I’m loving it. ;)

She’s headed off to “Camp Gammy” soon

My in-laws are going to take her for a few days before the baby comes. (Hard to time this, haha, as we’re not sure exactly when that’ll be… but we think it’ll work out.) I believe I talked about this recently on the blog, but currently, children aren’t allowed in the hospital where I’ll be delivering because of the flu. Doesn’t matter if the child has been vaccinated; they can’t come in. It might be lifted by the time the baby comes, but it might not… so we’re planning for that. I’m a little sad about it, as I always pictured Emma meeting the baby in the hospital, but Emma’s psyched, and that’s all that matters. She LOVES going to the lake house and spending one-on-one time with her grandparents, and she talks about her upcoming trip every day. So that’s good!

She loves doing hair and makeup

This has been extremely painful for me and a little humiliating for Mitch. 😂 We try, though, to be good sports and let her have fun with it. But OUCH! This is the set she has. It’s totally fake so it doesn’t make a mess and Mitch doesn’t have to wash his face every time she breaks it out.

She likes to recap her day before going to sleep every night

This is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever witnessed. Mitch started this “let’s talk about your day” thing about a year ago with her, and it’s the very last thing we do before she closes her eyes at night. Now, she can’t go to sleep without doing it! We recap and discuss the entire day and everything she did… and we also talk about what we’re looking forward to. It’s a great way to transition from story time to lights out, and it’s also a great reminder of how lucky we are. Can’t recommend doing it with your toddler more!

Okay. If you got to the end of this post, you’re awesome. Sorry for my rambling, and thank you for sticking with me! Here are a zillion cute photos of Emma playing at the park–and eating ice cream at Oberweis–yesterday. :)

Emma is wearing some preppy toddler clothes
What's New with Emma
What's New with Emma
What's New with Emma
What's New with Emma Larkin
Toddler at the park in Chicago
What's New with Emma Larkin - Kelly in the City
What's New with Emma Larkin - Kelly in the City
What's New with Emma Larkin - Kelly in the City
Emma Larkin is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes  | Kelly in the City
Toddler playing with sand
Emma Larking is playing with sand
Emma is playing with sand
Sparkle kids boots
Emma Larkin is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes  | Kelly in the City
Emma Larkin is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes  | Kelly in the City
Emma Larkin is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes
Emma Larkin is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes
Emma Larkin is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes
Emma Larkin is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes
Emma is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes
Emma is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes
Emma is wearing some preppy toddler play clothes

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This post was sponsored by Walmart, but all opinions are my own. As always, thank you so, so much for supporting the partnerships that keep Kelly in the City up and running!