Monday, November 25, 2013

A Burlap, Pink, and Mint Baby Shower

My beautiful friend Kirsty is having a baby, due in January, and a few weekends ago I had the pleasure of helping with her baby shower that was hosted at her parents' house.  I love having a reason to do crafty things - but most importantly, I love Kirsty, and wanted to do what I could to make her day special.  (She was actually put on bedrest the week of the shower, so she got a throne in the middle of the room!  We had to keep fussing at her to sit down!)

I went with a vintagey/shabby chic/burlap, pink, mint and chalkboardish theme - that's totally a thing, promise.  There are, of course, lots of great ideas for this on Pinterest.  It was fun to find some things to re-purpose and create new things as well.

This was the invitation (well, this is the sample one) I ordered through Etsy.  I loved it!! I had it printed at Staples on cardstock after it was designed with our info on it.
Baby Shower Invitation - Vintage Chalkboard Background - Wreath Spring Summer Floral Mint Coral Pink Flower - Printable Invitation - No.06

First, I made some chalkboard signs to hang up - always fun to do.  I use my fancy image software known as PowerPoint (take that, Adobe!) and get them printed as Staples engineering prints for cheap.  Pretty cute and they make a big statement for little monies.  

(I have lots of pins of fonts for the letters and the pictures here on this board but some of my fave fonts are Clementine Sketch, Archistico, Chalk Hand Lettering, Kraft Nine, DK Carte Blanche, and many KG fonts - all free on or others)

To decorate the table, I didn't have to do much, since Kirsty's mom made lots of delicious and pretty food items!  I knew I did want to do a tablecloth, though, but couldn't find an inexpensive way to cover a big table that I liked.  So I decided to buy a regular painter's dropcloth and paint mint green stripes.  It turned out pretty well, I think!  It was easy enough to do the stripes with painter's tape and a tester pot of paint (Behr "Mint Shake").  I just free-handed the stripe layout, not wanting them to be too uniform, although I kind of wish I had measured.  Oh well.  I think it added nicely to the look without costing too much.

The rest of the things on the table were either things I already had, or were thrift store finds that got spray painted - little baskets, a birdcage, a scrapbook paper covered big book...  Her mom also had lots of mason jars with flowers.  

I made a little Welcome Baby banner out of paint chips and strips of burlap.

The stars of the show were some amazing cupcakes that her husband ordered from a local bakery (he's in Afghanistan right now, but he wanted to help and chose really well from afar!). They were absolutely adorable in their own little burlap wrappers and the the fondant on them was so impressive.  They even tasted good!  Usually you either get cute or yummy - these were both!  The baby's name, a secret until the shower, was spelled out on the cupcakes.

I wish I could take credit for those beauties!

Her mom had also set up some cute stations around the room, including a guest book made of "I hope you..." cards.  

I also wanted us to do a onesie decorating station, where guests could paint a onesie for the baby.  I thought this was a genius idea - then I saw on Pinterest it was a very un-original one.  Either way, it turned out great!!  I got some stencils and her mom got the onesies and paint, and guests did a great job creating little outfits for Scarlet to wear.  

Here's mine - I was afraid to do more than this! 

The favors were little boxes I found at the Dollar Store with vintage baby mirrors that her mom had found online.  

I set up a little photo area with kraft paper and one of my signs and paint chip banners.  I didn't really think about how tall people are.... oh well!  Make do with what you've got!

  It was a great day spent with friends and her family.  I am so grateful to have met Kirsty back in college over ten years ago.  She was a wonderful friend (and momma!) to me then and I have cherished her friendship ever since.  I cannot wait to share in her joy when little Scarlet arrives!

 Love you, K!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Clubfoot Files: Updates and Thoughts on Milestones

I've had a few people stop by this blog who are also on the clubfoot journey with their little one (hi!), so I'm writing these Clubfoot Files to share what we are going through and what we are learning.  I know I like reading other parents' blogs about it - the more info you can arm yourself with, the better!  It helps to hear what real people are going through.  If this isn't your cup of tea, feel free to skip this post. I'll keep posting about other stuff here too. :)

We went to the Children's orthopedics office this week for a checkup on Harper's clubfoot.  I was a little nervous, since it had been 4 months since her last visit, and she had begun crawling and walking with assistance, all since that time.  Although her foot looked fine to me, there's always that worry that it's beginning to turn back in.  I fearfully imagine it relapsing to a point beyond repair in the months between our visits. I think of a toddler in a leg cast.  I think of extended brace wear again.  I imagine a tenotomy, since we never had that before.  I worry, basically.  What mom doesn't?

Yet, despite my frivolous fear, we got great news - her foot is doing perfectly!!  So much so, that we don't have to even come back in until she's two.  That's 8 months from now.  I asked the doctor a few times to make sure she was really, really sure we could wait 8 whole months for another professional look at it.  She assured me Harper's foot looks perfect and explained a bit to us what we should look for if it were to start relapsing.  Whew.  Harper does point her second toes towards the underside of her foot sometimes when she's sitting there, which I was slightly concerned about (even though she does it on both feet, not just her cf one).  Yet the doctor said that's normal and she sees it a lot, especially in pre-walkers.  The doctor liked how she stands on the foot and likes that's it's flexible.  

It almost makes me nervous that these visits with the doctor are so short - shouldn't she examine it super-closely and do fancy medical tests or something?  But no, none of that's needed since it's so easy to tell that her foot looks great.  It's a relief, truly.

With clubfoot, so much of the hard work is upfront.  It's weekly casts and weekly progress and then time measured out in hours in a brace and months of continuous wear.  It's changing shoe sizes and hours per day and a baby that's constantly growing and changing.  

And then - well, then it just gets easy.  We are in the phase that's going to be the longest -- nighttime brace wear -- but the one that's also the easiest.  We just keep it up.  Her sores have healed (with the exception of one very small scab that's always there), her shoes fit well, and she can even stand up in her crib in the brace.  Putting her shoes on is such an ingrained part of our nighttime routine, we don't even think twice about it.  Although, I will say, it takes a little more effort to put them on now, as anything that requires Harper to sit still (diaper changes, carseat buckling, etc.) doesn't fly.  I think it will be a little rocky until we are able to reason with her/bribe her.  Right now, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and tickles from dad usually do the trick.

 It's a pain, sure, but it's so not a big deal.  I just want to say that over and over in these posts - to the parents that are in the trenches of it - perhaps even in the early worry pregnancy stages - it's so not a big deal.  Especially once you're this far in.

Regarding milestones:

Harper doesn't walk yet.  She's nearly 16 months old.  I know that babies all follow their own timelines, and that she's not delayed yet.  She cruises really well and can push toys super fast.  Yet she just doesn't have the confidence or balance to stand up and walk on her own.  I know this is ok.  In fact, often I'm grateful for it, because I know the whole-new-world of terror that will unfold when she can walk.  And most likely, her slow-poke-ness in the moving department (she rolled over at around 6 months consistently, crawled at 13 months, and tbd on walking...) has nothing to do with clubfoot. (Well, I'm not 100% on that.  I just know there are plenty of cf babies who hit those moving milestones early, with no trouble.  Yet I just can't deny the fact that she spent her early months in a heavy leg brace with no opportunity to practice.  Surely that's got to count for something.  But then there's also her meaty thighs, and I think that might be a contributing factor too...)

I remember, back when I was pregnant, I would read the Babycenter clubfoot message boards, absorbing info like a sponge, storing it away for future use.  There was a thread about when your clubfoot baby walked, and the answers were in the usual range, with quite a few on the older side.  One number, 16 months, stood out to me, and I remember thinking "oh my goodness, if my kid really isn't walking by 16 months, I would be so shocked.  I can't believe that - it's so late"  Yeah well, here we are.  And it's ok.

Luckily, the people we know don't bother us about her not walking  since they know her history, yet there are the occasional stranger comments.  But overall, I'm really not worried.  Sure, it would be nice to not have to lug around a 26 pound child.  But it's also nice to know I'm still faster than she is :)

Our babies will always keep us on our toes.  They arrive filled with their own unique spirit and agenda.  They may take months and months to master a skill, then surprise you out of the blue with a hug or spooning a carrot into their mouth all by themselves.  They all get there eventually, on their own timeline, and teach us adults a thing or two about raising an independent little being.  So, instead of letting my usual fear creep in, or falling into the comparison trap, I'm choosing to embrace each victory, each tentative second spent standing without holding on, each lap across the front yard pushing her wagon, each smile and kiss and giggle.  We'll get there.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Newest Niece Lucy Ann

It's taken me far too long to post about an exciting new addition to our extended family - our sweet niece Lucy Ann was born on October 25th.  She is the newest for my sister Courtney and her husband Byron - and Lyla's new little sister.  

It worked out well that Courtney was having a scheduled c-section, so that we could plan to be in Knoxville for the exciting day - the fresher the baby, the better, you know.  The sooner we could get her used to paparazzi camera flashes from her aunt, the better, that is.

A nice big 9 pounder!  She has soft hair and the cutest little face.   I can't wait to see her again soon!  A few hours in a hospital was simply not enough.

One excited big sis, with lots of sass (pink cowboy boots, naturally)

"She screams, huh??"

I love holding new babies.  Always  have (always).

Nonnie x3 now 

So proud of my sister.  She is a great mama!

Wonderment.  Or, we were talking about Hello Kitty or Sophia the First or something.

This kid has the longest feet!! So cute.

I hogged her. 

My parents and I

Another sweet little girl to love.  My family is allllll about some girls. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Making (Healthy) Comparisons

Do you ever make up elaborate conversations or situations in your head when you're doing something mundane like laundry or dishes?  Just me?  ok....  Sometimes it's imaginary comebacks to imagined insults (those are the best - I'm so witty and confident in my delusions.)  At better times it's beginnings of blog posts.  

During one of these episodes, I was thinking about us moving out of our house.  It's something that we've sort of dreamed about, an idea we've toyed with, something that could be a potential possibility in the next year or two.  Then I was thinking about how I would totally be sad and cry like a baby on the day we moved out (I know it will happen at some point, however many years it is).  

Then I got to thinking about how much I hated this house when we first moved in.  We liked it when we bought it, we could afford it - so we pulled the trigger.  Yet when we moved in, I let my general frustration with learning to be a grown-up color my view of the house.  Things that were older or needed upgrading made me so mad.  We kept running up against things you need as a homeowner that we just didn't have.

I was angry that there were things we needed, but mostly there were things we wanted but we couldn't afford.  I wanted to rush things - to have a perfect house with shiny, new things, having not yet realized that a house doesn't become a home overnight, especially with fresh-out-of-college kids at the helm.  

So in my laundry-time delusions I was thinking about how we just didn't have much money then.  Sure, we had both just gotten jobs with fancy salaries, but we quickly learned that money went fast when you had fun things like mortgages.

I just kept thinking that we just simply didn't make a lot of money, and that's where our unhappiness was rooted.  Then, something crazy hit me - I did the math... we actually bring in significantly less per month now than we did that first year.  Yet it feels like we have so, so much more.

When I compare the way we felt about our finances then, versus how we do now - it's such a world of difference.  We just didn't know how to manage our money or how to save or how to make what we did have go the furthest.  Mostly we knew wants, lots and lots of wants, and didn't know how to prioritize what mattered.  I know I've said it over and over here, but simple really is better.  It's been a journey, certainly, but we've grown so much over the past six years.  

I'm content where we are, and so grateful for that contentment.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life after Whole30...A month later

Well, we are 30 days post Whole30 now, so I thought I would update on how we are doing now - ie - the biggest concern I would have - is it sustainable?

I am most excited to report that we have not only maintained our weight loss, but have also lost a few extra pounds over the past month on top of what we already lost during the Whole30.  Woot!  I have never been a dieter, mostly because I am all too aware that the minute you stop, if you fall back into your old ways, you will undo all of your progress.  Again, that's why I loved the Whole30 - it's a lifestyle, a reset -- not a quick fix.

But, of course, the purpose of the Whole30 is not to lose weight, it's to eat things that make you more healthy.  So, glad to report that we are doing pretty well at sticking to the framework for our meals.  I would say maybe 75% of the time.  And for the most part - our 25% is not crazy off-roading.  It's more so grain and some dairy.  (um, I'm eating ice cream while I type this...).  For example, we will make something yummy like butternut squash soup and have a piece of toast to eat with it.  Or we will have Whole30 sanctioned tacos with the addition of corn tortillas.  No, this isn't what It Starts With Food recommends, but it works for us - it's a balance and we still feel good, even with making these allowances.  

And yes, there have been times when we ate bad food - real bad food.  Sometimes it's convenience or because you are in a place where you can't find an alternative or because you really, really want it.  Honestly, almost every time we have done this, we've suffered the consequences.  Our stomachs get really upset.  We feel greasy and lethargic and gross.  What really has me thinking is - ok, so I used to eat this way a lot of the time.  Was I just ignoring these symptoms or was my body so used to bad food that I didn't even have these reactions?  Or perhaps we are just so much more in tuned with the signals our bodies are sending us now that we are treating them better.  Who knows.  Either way, it has taken only a few times of bad-food-ick to take the shiny excitement away from bad food.  When you realize how bad you will feel after, it's usually just not worth it.

That foot and leg pain I referenced in my recap post that disappeared during the Whole30 definitely flairs up when I don't eat right.  It's definitely inflammation, and it's crazy to think this was my norm for so long.  Ugh.

Almost every breakfast we eat is Whole30, which definitely helps set the day off right.  Most lunches are solid as well - I feel much more equipped to eat real food, even when Tony isn't here.  Most dinners during the week are good ones too.  Weekends are usually a little less scripted, but we try to stay on track.  

I'll say too that I am happy to keep eating this way.  I don't really miss cheese.  Ok, that's a lie - the other day I commented that our tacos would be a lot better with cheese...but I was still ok with its absence.  Sometimes I fiend for carbs, wanting to shove handfuls into my mouth and not look back (just keepin' it real), but since we don't buy that stuff anymore, I usually suppress it.  I did eat about 50 of Harper's rice puffs in a moment of weakness one day.  It's liberating, honestly, to know that I don't have to analyze calories on the cracker box to find something that will make me feel less guilty.  Now we just don't buy any of it.  I feel pretty smug about our grocery cart.

The more I read about food ingredients and the nasty stuff that is in so much processed food, the more I am so glad to be done with junk like coffee creamer and faux butter.  But again, not to sound like I'm perfectly on board, I've had some pumpkin spice lattes and even some fast food.   We went out of town for a weekend and our food plan fell apart.  But the most important thing to me is that we have modified what we eat in our normal, routine lives.  

I don't condone guilt being tied with eating, because we all know that's not healthy.  Yet with new-found book learnin and actual trial and error on my own body, I can make decisions about what I eat in a much more educated way.  Yes, I can eat that four-cheese burger and fries, but I will feel like garbage.  So, if I eat it, fine, but now I actually think about what I'm eating.  Crazy things like cornbread feel like such a cheat.  We make conscious choices to eat bad food - it doesn't just go in without a second thought.

Also, I crave meat now.  Bonkers.  I used to be meh about meat, now I want it because I know it will fill me up and make me feel good.  Crazytown.

My ice cream is now gone.  :(
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