Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 2013 Goals Update

We started the year by planning out our goals on a monthly basis. We have a lot of changes coming up this year and knew that it would be too complicated to try to plan for the whole year all at once. As a reminder, here are the goals we set for January...
January
  1. Do something special as a family for Wesley's 1st birthday
  2. Jarrod reads one non-fiction and Leanne reads one book
  3. Try a new recipe
  4. Go on one date
  5. Leanne walk 75% of days
We managed to do most of the things on our list!
  1. We went to the park and out to sushi as a family for Wesley's birthday. It was such fun! I shared photos of our time yesterday. I love those pictures!
  2.  Jarrod's been a reading fool. I know he read Hunger Games and several different books on baptism this month. I read Love Does this month. Unfortunately I left my copy in a hotel room earlier this month and need to get another one. It's the type of book I plan to use as a reference for the rest of my life.
  3. I tried a new alfredo recipe this month. It was delicious. We already have several new recipes planned for February.
  4. We spent 4 days out of town together. While not necessarily a date, we did have a lot of time alone together, which was wonderful. We left Wesley for those 4 days and I wasn't going to leave him any more! 
  5. I walked as much as possible! This was a very busy month for me and I spent a lot of time out of town, but I did make walking a priority. 
I'm excited to see what February brings! Are you keeping your 2013 goals/resolutions?

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wesley's Birthday Trip to the Park

We love going to the park with Wesley. We've written about our previous trips here and here. For Wesley's first birthday we decided to check out a new park in town. It's one that I've wanted to go to for a while - it's very large and looks like a lot of fun!

We packed up and took Granddad with us late in the morning of Wesley's first birthday. The weather was gorgeous and we planned sushi lunch following fun at the park. There wasn't a whole lot that Wesley could do - there isn't a toddler section - but we did have the whole thing to ourselves, which was awesome!

Wesley tried the swings and we walked him through the structures until we stumbled upon this little slide..
This was Wesley's favorite place ever. We ended up taking turns - one of us on the top, one at the bottom, and one taking pictures. We captured some of the best shots of Wesley climbing up and sliding down.
Seeing Wesley so excited absolutely made my day. I love being outside and loved sharing that with my sweet boy.
Capturing this gorgeous shot of Wesley and Jarrod was awesome. The photo in color was actually really blown out. I was able to make it a little better in photoshop, but finally decided I liked the shot better in black and white.

It's amazing what a big boy he is! He's still not quite walking, but had such a great time and is fearless!
I can't think of a better way to spend a birthday!
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pink Out February

For the month of February I'll be running a giveaway to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I am in the process of collecting items to use for the giveaway. If you have an etsy shop, make something crafty, or have an item others might want, I'd love to know about it. I've already collected a pink ribbon scarf and bracelets to giveaway.

If you have a shop, make a craft, and want to join in the fight against breast cancer, please let me know!  In response to your item donation, I'll write about your shop, promote your products, and get the word out about what you do! 

And if you don't have a craft but WANT a craft, get ready with your donation! This giveaway excitement will begin in February and go through the whole money. 

Ready, set, go! 
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Planning a First Birthday Party: Things I Learned

I was so excited about Wesley's first birthday party that I began planning it when he was 9 months old. I knew it would be a DIY extravaganza and that I'd want everything to be as perfect as possible. Along the way I made some difficult decisions and learned a lot. The party was spectacular and everyone had a fantastic time. Here are some of the things I learned...

Hire a photographer - a friend suggested that I pay a photographer to get pictures of the day. I wasn't sure about it but she convinced me that it'd be the only way to relax and enjoy the day. I am so glad we decided to do this! We paid a high school journalism student $50 to take photos for 2.5 hours. It was incredible. I didn't worry about everything, she got incredible pictures, and I was even in some of the shots!


Decide at what cost - I don't like spending money, but I decided that there were a few things I'd pay to have someone else do for me. Either because it would be better than if I did it or because I didn't want to take the time to do it myself. For us, that was the photographer, the cake, and Wesley's birthday t-shirt. All for different reasons. Obviously the photographer was an easy decision - I didn't want to worry about it, didn't want my family to worry about it, and wanted good pictures. Done. The cake was a struggle. I thought I might be able to decorate something, even though I'd never done it before. I know how to bake a cake - decorating can't be that hard! But then I realized the logistics of making the cake, decorating the cake, and getting ready for the party. Nope. So a friend made it. Done and done. For Wesley's t-shirt, I knew I wanted something special for him to wear to commemorate his 1st birthday. I could make something, but wanted it embroidered...And I don't yet have an embroidery machine. So I ordered it. Done and done. Total spent on these time-saving projects? $120 and worth every penny!

No gifts - Wesley's birthday is just 2.5 weeks after Christmas. We attempted to keep Christmas simple, but he still got lots of toys. I knew for his birthday I wanted to begin a tradition of not giving in to the desire to get MORE toys. We opted to ask for donations to a local food bank in Wesley's honor. We had a box near the door and collected a bunch of non-perishable items! It was perfect. We did buy Wesley new shoes and some bath toys for his birthday from his mama and dad, but that's it!

I plan to remember these things and use them in the future - I'm already dreaming about birthday #2!
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cake Smash

The moment of Wesley's first birthday that I was most looking forward to was the cake smash. We got some incredible pictures that really tell the story. It was hands-down one of the best moments of my life. I'm thrilled that we have so many great photos of it.

Rather than tell you about it, I'm going to pass the keyboard over to Wesley to narrate the experience from his perspective.

Hi, friends! Last week I turned one so my mama and dad had a big party. They invited all of my friends and made me eat new food.

I was a little suspicious when everyone began singing. I'm always a little suspicious when mama is that excited.

I wasn't really sure what was going on at first. I hate being strapped down and wanted to get out and play. She insisted that I stay put. Mama wanted me to eat this big thing. She's so silly!

I wasn't sure, but mama let me taste some of this stuff. I tried to stop her. I'm always a little worried she's trying to poison me.
Turns out she wasn't poisoning me! Icing is delicious and completely safe. I'm never really sure how to eat things this big so I used the tactic I'm most comfortable with...
That's right, friends. I just put my whole mouth on the cake.

Amazing! I don't know why I haven't had cake before, but you can bet I'm going to insist on it at least 3 times a day from now on!
It wasn't fluke captured by the camera, this is how I ate the cake. With my whole mouth. It just makes the most sense.
Cake is so yummy!
Mama insisted on getting my hands in the cake. I was so mad at her! She knows I hate getting that dirty...
At first I was really sad, but then I realized that Mama does know best. The cake was delicious and having it on my hands gave me even more cake for my mouth!
It's not poison, guys! It's just cake! And it's so good!
Don't worry, I got cake all over my pants. Mama worked so hard to get my hands messy and prove to me how delicious the cake was. But once I figured it out and started really having fun, she took it away!
I remember this picture. I was so happy. I was eating my cake, my people were all cheering for me, and things were good. Right after they took this picture, they took away my cake and put me in the bath. Normally I love the bath, but it took me away from my people and my cake. I was so not happy, but I got over it.

Mama and Daddy haven't given me any cake since my birthday party, but I know they will give it to me again. I can't wait!
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Wesley's Birthday Party {Chicka Chicka Boom Boom 1st birthday}

I cannot believe I've writing about Wesley's first birthday! I started thinking about the theme when Wesley was 9 months old. After some consideration, Jarrod and I opted for a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom themed party. If you'll remember, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is one of Wesley's favorite books. I got to thinking, created a pin board, and was very excited.

The first thing I did was create an invitation. I couldn't find anything I liked online, so I crafted this on Photoshop.
From this invitation, I also created thank you notes, return address labels, and food cards for the party.
Of course, in order to design the table cards, I needed to decide what we would be serving. With the party from 1-3pm, we opted for appetizers, cookies, juice, and cake. We served Chicka Chicka Chips and Dare Double Dare Dips (guacamole, queso, and salsa), Wiggle Jiggle Juice, alphabet cookies, and cake.
Rather than buying plastic table clothes, I decided to make my own... You can see it in the above photos. I purchased 3 yards of orange and white polka dot fabric and 1 1/2 yards of green and white polka dot fabric. I cut the orange in half and just sewed it together and hemmed the ends.

Another craft I did was making Wesley a birthday banner. I bought several sheets of square scrapbook paper on sale, cut them into smaller squares and then cut out the letters to spell out "Happy Birthday Wesley!" I hot glued these squares to an orange ribbon and hung it up before the party. I imagine it will stay up until we move. :-)
I ordered Wesley a birthday t-shirt because I knew I wasn't going to make the perfect t-shirt. I ordered this t-shirt from Lollipop's Shirt Shop. It was a little big on Wesley, but it was absolutely perfect! He wore it for most of the party (until the cake!) and then wore it to school on Monday!
We made three homemade pizzas - alfredo with mushrooms, cheese, and pepperoni - and then sliced them into bite-sized pieces. Had I been a little more creative, I may have cut them into L M N O for the LMNO Pizza Bites...
Yes, I wore a shirt to match the party...
And then there was cake. It was the part of the party that I was most looking forward to. A friend from college made it for us - we had two actually: one for Wesley and one for everyone else. Not only were they delicious, but they were exactly what I pictured!
We put Wesley in his high chair which happened to be spray painted a perfect color for the party. (Don't worry, we sealed the tray with Safecoat.)

Source list:
T-shirt from Lollipop's Shirt Shop
Cake from: Classic Confections: 214-641-7240.
Table cloth fabric from Hobby Lobby
Cake stand and high chair already owned but spray painted blue
Cookie cutters
Icing
Cookie dough recipe

I'll be back tomorrow sharing more pictures from the party - especially from my favorite part - the cake smash! Later this week I'm going to share my best practices and things I learned from planning and executing this party! 
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mom of the Year

I'm not the best mom, but most of the time I feel like I'm doing okay. I have moments where I really feel like I'm winning and moments where I feel like a complete failure. Last week I had a moment of complete failure.

I had a very busy week of work last week. I worked late a lot and missed my boys. On Wednesdays I pick Wesley up from daycare. While the school is open until 6:30pm, I try to get there before 5pm. This means leaving work early...which means I need to get a lot of work done so that I'm ready to leave early. Last Wednesday it was pouring rain. I finished up my work and headed towards Wesley around 4:30pm. I was scheduled (via my GPS) to arrive around 5:15pm.

Traffic was completely awful. My GPS has traffic updates, but didn't update with any detours even though the highway was at a standstill. I started to get very anxious. I hated Wesley being at daycare any longer than he had to be. I hated that I was missing my time with him. Instead of playing, I was sitting in traffic. The later it got, the more anxious I got.

I called Jarrod crying about 3 times while I drove. I was being dramatic. I was very frustrated.

I finally (FINALLY!) arrived at the daycare after 6pm. It took me over 90 minutes to go 25 miles. But that's not the worst part.

The worst part was entering Wesley's classroom and realizing that all the other babies were gone. His bag was packed and he was sitting on the carpet with one teacher playing with blocks. I was embarrassed and so sad. Wesley had no idea - he was happy as can be, playing and making music. Thankfully, I held it together until we got to the car. As soon as I opened the door to the car to get him buckled in his seat, I completely lost it.

I cried to Wesley, apologizing for being late. I cried tears of frustration. I cried because I missed time with my boy. I cried the whole way home but then put the tears behind me and enjoyed time with Wesley. We played, cuddled, ate dinner, and had a blast. I tried to keep him up a little later than normal to soak up every single moment with him...but by 7:05pm he crashed and almost fell asleep on the floor while we were playing!

It's difficult - I adore my job and I adore time with my family. I feel torn a lot of the time, but I do my best to live in the moment and enjoy the time that I have. I do my best to really savor time - except time stuck in traffic! In retrospect, I'd be a much better mom if I'd used my time stuck in traffic in prayer, singing to the radio, or contemplating life...rather than being frustrated and anxious! 


How do you snap out of feeling like a failure? What do you do to center yourself or calm down after a difficult day?
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Twelve Months

I started this post the week prior to Wesley's birthday and now it's the week after... Things have been very busy in our world! Besides normal busy-ness, we had house guests for Wesley's birthday and I am out of town at a conference this week. I didn't prepare posts before I left, so I'm trying to play catch up now. Please forgive me!

My boy is one year old. I don't know how this is possible as it seems like just a week ago we were waiting his arrival. It feels like a minute ago I was in labor. On the other hand, it feels like a lifetime has gone by. We are different because of our little man!

Dear Wesley,
My little man, you are now officially one year old! I cannot believe we've made it a whole year. It feels like the blink of an eye. You now have 3 teeth - an upper tooth broke through one week before you turned one. you pull up, stand, and walk while pushing a walker, but are not walking unassisted yet. You are such an incredibly fast crawler that this doesn't surprise me at all. I know you will be walking very soon.

You now wave with ease and do it appropriately. You are so proud of yourself! You also clap all the time and do it between bites at dinner, whenever anyone says "yay!" and randomly to make us smile. You have figured out that clapping entertains people so you'll do it for crowds, especially when you aren't the center of attention. You also finally picked up on baby sign. We'd been trying to teach you "more" with no success for about 5 months. Finally over the Christmas break, you got it! It was like you knew it the whole time and were just waiting to impress us with your skills.

You are the happiest kid ever. You love crawling and moving, banging and music. You started dancing this month and it's amazing. You babble and sing, mimicking our sounds and throw fits. You are showing us how stubborn you are - you're a strong-willed kid! We are working on setting boundaries, not giving you everything you want, and allowing you to throw fits without giving into them.

You went through a difficult season of eating for a while. You wouldn't eat anything. Thankfully that has mostly ended. Again, we didn't give into it and continued to feed you healthy foods. You love chili, apple sauce, yogurt, puffs, and rice. You'll eat anything with potatoes, casseroles, and bread. You LOVE carbs! We work on fruits and vegetables, tossing them into stuff you like to fool you into eating it.

This month you got the stomach flu. It was terrible. You were sick for about 20 hours straight on your dad's 31st birthday. I stayed home with you for two days. It was very sad and a tough day for both of us, but I was thankful for the opportunity to be with you. Thankfully you were fine and back to school within a few days.

This month we celebrated Christmas as well. It was a magical time and such fun to be with you. We were so thrilled to spend nearly two full weeks with you. We were lazy and played all day most days. It was very cold so we didn't get to play outside much, but we did take you shopping and watched movies at home. Christmas was really wonderful and we loved sharing the special time as a family. Your dad said it was the best vacation we've had since our honeymoon to Disney World. We will definitely plan staycations more often!

Your dad and I give thanks for you each day. You have brought more joy into our lives than we could have ever imagined one year ago. We cannot imagine loving you more and cannot imagine our lives without you. I am so excited and proud to be your mom. We love having you around and are really excited to share in life with you.

Love,
Mama and Daddy
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

'Twas the Night Before 1...

On the eve of my son's first birthday, I'm struck with how quickly this year has flown by. It feels like just yesterday we were snuggling in the middle of the night - waking every 90 minutes.
I remember vividly our time in the hospital, our super quick labor, and the transformation to a family of 3.
Time has gone too quickly. Our little 7 pound 11 ounce baby boy is now mobile, stubborn, and full of joy! 
At the same time, we cannot imagine our life without Wesley. I cannot remember what life was like prior to his birth. He has incredibly blessed out family in ways I never thought possible. 

Tomorrow we will celebrate the day we brought Wesley into the world. On Saturday we will celebrate with a big party. And this year we will celebrate every day having a wonderfully healthy boy! 
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baby safe finger painting {Toddler Canvas Painting}

I've mentioned that we make our own Christmas presents. One thing we did this year was get Wesley in on the action. I had grand plans for him to finger paint canvases for his friends and family. I bought several 5x7" canvases and painted them solid colors. Then I mixed up some finger paints for Wesley. I followed this recipe, but didn't find the need to use as much water.
Ingredients:
1 cup of corn starch
2 cup hot water
1 cup cold water
food coloring

I knew that he'd put the paint in his mouth and wanted to be sure it was safe to eat and free of toxins. I mixed up two parts corn starch with one part water, divided it into smaller containers and mixed in food coloring. I wanted the colors to be bright and vibrant, so I added in a lot of food coloring. I knew this would stain Wesley's skin (clothes, diaper, floor, etc.) so we were careful to get him right in the bath after we were done painting. We also opted to put him in a disposable diaper and put a drop cloth on the floor. We didn't have any problems at all, but Jarrod and I were both in messy clothes just in case
Of course we had to help him a little bit, but he really had a good time...and so did we!
Our method was to spoon some finger paint on the canvas and hand it over to Wesley. After the first few, he had lots of different colors on his hands so each canvas got a little bit of all the colors. We only did 3-4 canvases at one time just so we could keep track of things. 
Once we deemed a canvas "done" we moved it to a towel to dry.
They came out really neat, I think. In order to keep the colors vibrant, I sealed each of the canvases with Modge Podge. All I did was paint a thin layer over the paint, once it was completely dry. I allowed it to dry for several days just to be sure I didn't mess it up.
That's my favorite picture from the day. It makes me really thankful we went with the disposable diaper. I know his cloth diapers get lots of messes on them, but I'd like to keep food coloring off the list of diaper messes we need to clean!

We gave canvases to Wesley's teachers at school and included them in gifts to some of his friends, his nanny, Aunt Courtney & Uncle Philip, and grandparents. Jarrod and I also kept one ourselves. It's a very simple craft that I know we'll cherish for a long time. We plan to do another craft similar to this on a very large canvas for above our bed in our bedroom. I'll let you know how it goes!

What are some of your favorite baby or toddler crafts? How do you help keep your little one involved in gift-giving?

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