Friday, September 26, 2014

Flashback Friday: First Birthday Edition

Since  today is the eve of Taylor’s first birthday, I had to dedicate this week’s Flashback Friday to the tot. I know that I’m constantly saying this, but I am still amazed that 12 months have managed to fly by at such an immense speed. Our sweet baby has grown into such a beautiful little girl, always happy and filled with laughter. It almost doesn't seem right to call her a “baby” anymore since she acts more like a toddler each day.

As I count down the hours until her birthday, I can’t help but reflect on how much our lives have changed in the course of the past year. When our baby girl arrived at 7:57 a.m. on September 27, 2013, I knew that life would never be the same. And, for the most part, it hasn’t. Being a parent has not only shifted my daily responsibilities but also made me reexamine every aspects of my life. Upon doing so, I quickly realized that shifts needed to be made in order for our family to travel down the path we had always envisioned for our family. And now, one year later, I’m so proud of the three of us and how far we have come. We may stumble at times, but, at the end of the day, we are all happy and healthy and our home is filled with so much love. I couldn’t be more proud of this life that we’ve built.

Thank you, my tot, for coming into our lives and showing us what genuine, unconditional love is.  You are constantly helping us grow and adapt to whatever curve ball you throw us next. Thank you for allowing your daddy and I to be the best possible versions of ourselves. You are the light of our lives and the missing piece from our puzzle. We are better because of you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bath Time Fun

I'm not sure about other kids, but Taylor love, love, loves bath time! Girlfriend is obsessed with anything water-related: drinking it, splashing in it, and - lately - peeing in it. I'm hoping the latter is a phase that passes quickly, because I hate running a tub full of water only to drain it five seconds later. That clear liquid that you love so much isn't free, baby.

Taylor has loved baths since she was about a month old. Her umbilical cord fell off right around her two week birthday, and Jake and I couldn't wait to give her her first real bath. We tested the water to be sure it wasn't too hot or too cold, had all of the necessary shampoo and lotion lined up neatly on the bathroom counter, and into the pink whale tub she went. She screamed from the time we took off her clothes until the time we put them back on. Turns out when you only weigh seven pounds, a bath can be quite freezing without any extras to keep you warm.

Once she started to put on a little chub, bath time became much more enjoyable (for all of us). Around six months, Taylor outgrew the pink whale and was finally able to stably sit in the full-size tub on her own. Since then, bath time has turned into a completely different adventure. Free range of the tub has definitely led to slipping, sliding, and a whole lot more splashing. This lifesaver allows her to play without me having to worry about her constantly bumping her head. It has also led her to develop an extreme fascination with the water spout. She is mesmerized by the water pouring out of the spout, continually amazed about where the water comes from and my ability to turn it on and off.  Oh, to be that innocent again!

While time spent in the bath tub is something we all look forward to each night, we equally dread what comes next. Taylor has come to completely despise getting dressed. I'm not sure if it's the fact that she has to stop moving for ten seconds or that she has to lay on her back, but she will kick and twist and scream until she finally breaks free. The simple task of putting on a diaper, applying lotion, and clothing the child has become an arduous task. It doesn't take long for all of the joyous memories from the bath that just occurred to be thrown out the window. I'm hoping this is just a phase that will eventually get better, because every clothing and diaper change is exhausting.

We established a nightly bath time routine early on in order to develop Taylor's sleep schedule. The routine time changed frequently as she grew, but the order always remained the same: bath, bottle, bed. It was a routine that she came to know and demand. Very rarely do we skip her night time bath. Honestly, I think the combination of a warm bath and this lavender lotion really does help calm and soothe her. And even after the nightmare that occurs post-bath, she settles down as soon as she gets her bottle. We typically feed her while rocking in the glider in her room. It's familiar, quiet, and ensures she doesn't get distracted from the impending sleep that is slowly creeping up on her. After her bottle, we'll read her a book or two (depending on how sleepy she is) and then it's straight into the crib. After a million hugs and kisses, she puts in her binky and snuggles up to her glow worm (which is a sweetest sight, especially after the torture I just endured trying to clothe her). No sooner than I turn off the light, she's halfway asleep.

While I know that what works for one kid doesn't always work for another (different strokes/different folks), our tot is a child of routine. She knows when it's time for bed and rarely disputes it. The kid loves her sleep, and I love her 8:00 bedtime, because it allows me time to write these blogs. And keep my sanity. So let's all be thankful...

Monday, September 15, 2014

First Birthday Inspiration & Preparation

Life has been only slightly crazier than normal lately with me starting a new job, my thirtieth birthday (and a flood of mixed emotions) looming on the horizon, and Taylor's rapidly-approaching first birthday. Being the perfectionist that I am, I began planning this party back when the snow was still melting (which, in my defense, wasn't that long ago thanks to the insanely long winter we had here in the Midwest). I knew right away I didn't want to do a typical theme party (the kind where you go to Party City and shell out $500 on matching character plates, cups & napkins), so I consumed myself in Pinterest every chance I could get, devouring one DIY idea after another. After all, a child only gets one first birthday, and I want to ensure it's one that this sweet face deserves.

Not long into my search, I came across this spectacular petal cake and, being the optimist that I am, immediately assumed I could make one. Piece of cake, I thought (pun intended). Reality hit a few weeks later, and I have since enlisted my mother to make the cake instead. She does have a bit of a habit of not following instructions, so we'll see how it actually turns out. I kid, Mom! I'm sure it'll be fantastic. Or at least edible. ;c )

DIY Rainbow Petal Cake  |  by Kate Wagner  |
Instructions on how to make this magnificent cake here.

Once I saw that gorgeous cake, I knew that this party needed to consist of an explosion of colors. But how does one create an entire party just using color? THIS is how. As soon as I stumbled upon this beautiful rainbow party theme, I knew it was the answer. And how adorable is that title? Whimsical Backyard Rainbow Party? Uh, yes please! I immediately envisioned myself sitting in my backyard on a beautiful 75 degree day, drinking a mimosa while my daughter calmly sat opening her gifts as her beautiful blonde curls bounced softly in the air. Is any of that actually going to happen? Probably not, but a girl can dream.

Whimsical Backyard Rainbow First Birthday Party
Details regarding this fabulously crafted party can be found here.

Something that most definitely will be happening at this party is sweets! Alongside the petal cake, our guests will indulge on cupcakes, chocolate covered pretzels, rice krispy treats, and cake batter truffles, each covered in rainbow sprinkles. And for a sweet yet healthier option, we will also be serving some scrumptious rainbow fruit skewers. Our girl loves fruit, so these are a must! While she frequently consumes natural sugars, Taylor has had very little in the form of processed sugar. So, I cannot wait to see her reaction when she plows into her smash cake. I'm sure she'll love it as much as her momma does!

Rainbow fruit skewers - grapes, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries
These skewers and other adorable rainbow party ideas can be found here.

So there we have it, a theme is in place, the menu is set, and I have spent every weekend over the past month making pinwheels, tissue garland, and hand-cut banners for this shindig. It's quite possible our backyard will look like a rainbow threw up all over it, but at least her party will be one of a kind!

Below are a few outtakes from the photo shoot we had in our backyard when designing her party invitations. She was fascinated by the balloons, and (like everything else she encounters) she wanted to put them directly in her mouth. So even if my party plans go south, at least she'll enjoy the balloons!

To view my entire Pinterest board for this event, click here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


This  morning we woke up to the most amazing weather, a cool 50 degrees and blue skies as far as the eye could see. It was the perfect morning for a college football game! My husband's company sponsors a tailgate and offers free tickets to its employees a couple of times each season, so we decided to take advantage and show the tot the tailgating ropes. The game was scheduled to start at 11:00, so we headed out bright and early in order to avoid the traffic (ha! yeah, right...) and get to the stadium prior to kickoff. I had the most adorable white and gold outfit picked out for Taylor to wear, but as soon as I went to put it on her this morning the shirt was entirely too small. I swear, this child is growing faster than I can keep up. She's already in 18-24 month clothing!

Due to many weekends spent tailgating in our former, childless lives, we knew to expect lots of traffic and a long walk to our destination. And since Mizzou joined the SEC, the congestion in and around Columbia has only gotten worse. Thankfully, we have a secret parking spot that always comes through. Hallelujah! 

We arrived to the tailgate just before the caterers arrived to clear out the food, which was great because our busy morning meant no breakfast for this momma. A couple of biscuits and gravy and a handful of bacon later, we were basking in the sunshine and ready for some football! Taylor had a blast mingling with Jake's co-workers, watching the older kids play ball, and, of course, snacking every five minutes. A handful of grass never killed anyone, right?

We waited until the third quarter to actually go into the game. Social events go either one of two ways with our girl, she's either the life of the party or she's a hot mess. We wanted to feel her out at the tailgate rather than in a stadium full of thousands of screaming fans. But as it turns out, she loved it! She sat on our laps like such a big girl, dancing along to the band and clapping the entire time. Obviously, we have a future cheerleader on our hands. Like mother, like daughter. 

After a long day out in the sun and only a short morning nap, we left the game with a few minutes remaining on the clock. The tigers were up by 21 and Taylor was falling asleep in my arms. We strapped her in the stroller, hiked the mile and a half back to our car, and watched our baby fall asleep just as we pulled into the Jimmy John's drive through (all that walking made me hungry!). When we arrived home, we put our sleepy tot in her crib and laid down to rest ourselves. Three hours later, we woke up with red, yet happy, faces. Seriously, that may have been the best nap I've ever had.
Jake and I have been joking about how vastly different tailgates are with a baby in tow.  Saturday football games used to be all-day and night affairs, starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending when the bars closed. Now, they are still fun, but in a totally different way. I mean, this momma didn't even crack open a single adult beverage today! Regardless of the lack of drinking (which means no hangover tomorrow - yay!), it was still fun to experience one of our favorite past times with our girl. It was the perfect day for a football game and although it was her first, I'm certain it won't be her last. 

Gooooo Tigers!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Time is Fleeting

As the days fly by and the months roll along, I find myself struggling to hold on to as many memories as I can. My personal and professional lives are so consumed with names, dates, and appointments that I feel myself already forgetting so many precious moments from this past year. Time is fleeting. It slips away before we really have a chance to embrace it and before long the present is the past and a new day is upon us. Unfortunately, my journey through motherhood over the past year has only sped up this process. One minute I'm in the hospital, holding our baby girl and relishing in both fear and wonderment, wondering how I could ever love anything as much as this brand new life in front of me, and the next thing I know Taylor is rolling over, then sitting up, then crawling, and now she's on the verge of taking her very first steps. How did I get here? How did time manage to slip away so suddenly?

Perhaps it isn't just me. I remember my momma telling me that as soon as I became a mother time would fly in the blink of an eye. I thought she was crazy (or just feeling sappy as she was about to embark on her 50th birthday), but it turns out she was exactly right. Babies grow and change at such a rapid speed that it's almost impossible to keep up. It's like I'm running a race that I'll never win. As soon as I finally adjust to whatever new skill she has learned, I turn around to discover that she has already reached the next level of advancement. My heart yearns to freeze each moment in time so that I can hold onto it forever while my head is in constant over drive, spinning with questions about her well being.

Is she happy? 
Should she be eating more solid foods? 
Are those stairs safe?
Should we be working on her vocabulary more? 
Is she drinking enough? 
Should I be playing with her rather than doing these dishes? 
Is it too early to start weaning her from the bottle?
Does she think I'm a good mother?

Am I a good mother?

The unconditional love that a mother has for her child is exhausting. It's also completely amazing. And even with all the challenges and chaos, I could never ask for a more rewarding job. Her kisses heal my soul after a lousy work day and her hugs remind me that nothing in the world matters as long as she and Jake are in my life.

As our baby continues to grow and enters the next stage of her life, I pray that I always remember what matters most. While the sound of her sweet giggles and the pitter patter of her little feet fill our house now, I know that won't always be the case. I hope that her life is always full of love and happiness, that she never loses her adventurous spirit, and that she remains fearless and fully embraces each challenge that comes her way. But mostly, I hope she retains the innocence that encompasses her ability to love every person she meets. Because she is extraordinary, and I never want to forget it.