Archive for June, 2013

One Year Later

It’s strange how a moment in time can both seem like yesterday, and like a lifetime ago. That’s how I feel about my grandpa’s passing. He died exactly one year ago on the 27th, when baby D was just 4 weeks old, and our lives have changed so much since then that it seems like a decade since I spent the days after his passing going through pictures and making the poster boards to display at his funeral.

I hate that he’s not here. To see D grow and develop into a little human with his own personality. To hear about my promotion to Vice President, a day he really wanted to see and said he’d even throw a party for me. To send me emails of whatever joke, photo, or interesting video he came across on the Internet. I still have several unread emails in my inbox of the hundreds he sent me the last few years he was alive.

I hate that he’s not here for the rest of my family. I’d by lying if I said everyone was doing ok. Of his four children, two of them haven’t stepped foot inside my grandparents’ house since before he died. They can’t. Or won’t, rather. My mom and my aunt won’t speak to each other, and each of them have had what I would classify as nervous breakdowns at one point or another, and they still haven’t dealt with his death. One cousin is battling depression while the other is holding it together physically, but is an emotional wreck whenever he’s mentioned. And my grandma, well, she’s fine most days but she still has her moments. And she’s lonely. I sent her flowers to help make this anniversary a little less painful. I don’t know if it helped.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Having a baby saved my sanity and brought more happiness into my life just when I needed it most.

As anyone who knows how difficult those first few months with a newborn can be, I never felt like caring for a newborn was all that bad. It’s not that we didn’t have a baby that we needed to feed every two hours, or that my nipples weren’t bleeding from pumping, or that my body bounced back quickly from the labor and c-section (it didn’t and I still can’t wear my pre-pregnancy jeans). But it seemed that way, and at many times, it felt that way. And now, looking back, I know why.

Because I was dealing with something much harder, and much more emotionally exhausting than anything those newborn months could bring. It’s hard to complain about things like sleeplessness and engorgement when you’re watching someone you love turn yellow with jaundice, unable to swallow, let alone eat (his last food intake was at least 2 weeks before he finally died). When you’re praying that his heart gives out so that the suffering can end, that’s when all the complaints about caring for a newborn just seem so insignificant, even though most people claim it’s the absolute hardest period of their lives. I say those first few months were the hardest for me too, but not because I had a newborn.

When someone is sick for a very long time, it’s hard not to look back and just recall those last few weeks and months when they were ill. It’s hard to force myself to remember the happy memories that filled my 30 years with him, before the cancer was terminal. But I try, and with a little concentration, I remember the jokes, the laughs, the stories, the singing, the phone calls, the emails, the birthdays, the Christmases, the dinners, the trips, the games and the puzzles and the nights playing cards. I wish I could remember more. I wish I had more pictures. I wish he was still here. I wish I didn’t have to wish for these things.

But this is life. A year later. And if this last year has taught me anything, it’s that life is precious and it doesn’t last. So make good memories while you can because when you’re gone, memories are all that’s left.

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I mentioned that a friend of mine recently had her second baby. Unlike with the first pregnancy, second pregnancies don’t get nearly enough attention. I kind of hate that about second pregnancies because it’s still a baby, a miracle of life, a tiny individual person, and deserves just as much fuss as the first baby.

But no one asked me, so it is what it is.

Since Jen was having her second boy, I knew she didn’t need much in the way of baby-related stuff. So instead of bringing a pack of onesies I’m sure would only be worn once, I decided to go a slightly different direction with my gift and focused on her – the mom. (And who wouldn’t love that?!)

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Here’s what I gave her, and the rationale for each item:

1. A good book. When I was on maternity leave, I actually read quite a bit to pass the pumping time. Jen loves good chick lit and Nicholas Sparks is the epitome of that. At First Sight is his latest novel and while I ran the risk of her already having it, I just made sure to include a gift receipt. (Bonus: she didn’t have it already!)

2. Chocolate. It’s a must for any gift-giving occasion.

3. Starbucks Via Refreshers. For nursing moms trying to watch their caffeine intake, I knew coffee wouldn’t be a great idea, but I thought these little strawberry lemonade mixers looked yummy and would serve the purpose of helping her stay hydrated too.

4. Trailmix. When your hands are full, sometimes it’s all you can do to scarf down a handful of something. Trailmix is usually packed with good proteins to keep your energy levels high when you’re “on the go” (even if you’re just “on the go” in your own house).

5. Burt’s Bees baby shampoo and body wash. Ok, so this is actually something for the baby, but I LOVE the smell of this stuff and it seemed to be gentle on my son’s sensitive skin so I’m hoping she has a similar experience. Is there anything better than a delicious smelling baby?

6. Emery board and nail polish. The emery board serves dual purposes – for her nails AND for filing the baby’s nails because I wouldn’t get near my son’s tiny fingers with clippers those first few months. A quick file with the emery board every few days was all he needed for a long time. And the blue polish was just something fun. And what better color for a boy mom??

7. And last but not least, a candle that smells like the beach. When life gets stressful, smelling the sweet scents of coconut makes me feel like I’m on the beach, sipping a pina colada. And since we’ve been to Hawaii together, I’m hoping this little candle has the same effect for her.

8. The basket is a find from Target in their home decor section. I loved that it was cloth so she could reuse it in the baby’s nursery for toys or ointments or whatever. And it won’t splinter like a wicker or wood basket (even though I love how those look!)

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What are your go-to gifts for new* moms?

*the “new” here applies to any mom who has just given birth – whether it’s her first or fifth kid.

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Five on Friday

1. I love eyeliner. My makeup isn’t complete unless I’ve applied it. For years I’ve been using a basic black eyeliner pencil, but the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that throughout the day it rubs off on my right eye. I don’t touch it, but I guess my eyes are getting…saggier, or something. Enter liquid eyeliner in pencil form! Basically an eyeliner pen. No more rubbing off by noon! So happy. It’s the little things.

2. Today is the first official day of Summer. I can’t wait to spend the next couple of months at the pool or splashing around in the backyard in D’s baby pool. Body image issues be damned, I’ll be getting out there in a swim suit occasionally too.

3. Instagram now has video! You can follow my Instagram adventures at instagram.com/missliz27. I’m sure I’ll use it more than my poor, neglected Vine account.

4. I just read a tragic local story about a parent leaving a 1 year old in a car, who later died from the heat. And upon reading the comments left by people, I’m not so sure I like that everything is “social” and open for people’s opinions. But on a somewhat related note, I thought I’d point out that when it’s hot outside, we always start the car and turn on the AC to cool it down before we put baby D in his car seat. We also always touch the little metal parts on his restraints to make sure they’re not too hot to touch should they graze his skin when we’re buckling him in. Maybe we’re over cautious but when I read about accidents like that, I’m so glad we are. I hope that neither of us would ever leave our child alone in the car, but at least if something like that were to happen – or say we accidentally locked him and the keys in the car, which we’ve witnessed happen to our cousin at Christmas a couple of years ago – I’d like to believe that the car would be running with the AC on until we could free him. Accidents happen all the time, but they’re so much more tragic when they’re preventable. So sad.

5. On a MUCH happier note, one of my best friends had her second baby (another boy!) on Wednesday and last night, we stopped by the hospital to bring her a little gift and get in on some baby snuggles. I’m amazed how relatively easy her labor and delivery went, and I swear she looked like she could’ve slipped on a pair of her pre-baby jeans and walked right out of there, no problem. (A little jealous about that!) We’re firmly in that stage of our lives where all of our friends are having babies (some for the second and third time) and it’s just so cool to see people we’ve known pre-kids become a real family. Ourselves included.

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So remember D’s birthday party post and the glimpse of my weekly photo project?

View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond

I knew I wanted to document D’s growth in a unique way. I love, Love, LOVE what Young House Love did with their daughter’s weekly photos. Exhibit A:

yhlBut the thought of buying 52 pieces of fabric, taking photos, editing the photos, and photoshopping numbers onto a photo each week just seemed…daunting. I knew it would be too time consuming and I wouldn’t stick with it.

Plus, I didn’t love the idea of just using a white onesie every week when this kid had so many different outfits that I wanted to remember. Instead, I decided to keep the background white and use a different outfit each week so that I wasn’t only capturing his growth and changes, but his outfits too.

A few of my faves:

Week 3:


Week 11:


Week 21:


Week 32:


Week 43:



For his birthday banner, I simply edited all the photos as best I could (trying to make the photos as bright as possible since I wasn’t always great about getting natural light and white-balancing).  Then I had them all printed as 4x6s at Walmart. I bought a wide ribbon in his party colors (blue and green), mini-clothspins, and some colorful strips of thick cardstock-type paper and a large circle-shape punch-out that I found in the scrapbooking section at a craft store. It took me only a few minutes to punch out 52 circles. Then I used a permanent marker to write 1-52 on each of the circles and made sure my photos matched up with the right weeks. I used 3M adhesive strips to adhere the ribbon to the wall before clipping each of the photos and the numbers to it. And VOILA!

View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with it now that the parties are over, but I’m thinking of getting a large metal clip ring and just keeping them all together on something like that and ordering a separate collage print to hang in my office.

Now that we’re beyond the 1 year mark though, I’m just going to do monthly photos, and stick with a different outfit each month. There’s just something about packing up all those sweet little baby clothes that makes me teary, but I have a much easier time knowing I’ve documented my favorite outfits well with photos so I can always look back on them when I’m feeling sentimental.


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12 Month Update

IMGP7847I realize I’m terribly behind on this. In fact, baby D is closer to 13 months than 12 now, but the last few weeks with party planning and wedding attending have been busier than usual. I know, I know, excuses are like a$$holes.IMGP7865

Weight/Length: I was WAY off last month when I thought he was around 24lbs. He’s actually only about 22lbs, which we found out because we had to take him in to see the doc for his very first ear infection. More on that below. No clue on length but he seems tall for his age. We’ll find out next week at his 1 yr appointment.

Sleep: Awful. Between the ear infection and the travel, we’ve been a co-sleeping family more often than not and though it’s getting better (meaning, we’re getting more used to having him in our bed), we still don’t want this to be a long term thing. But oh my goodness the screaming and wailing that happens when he’s not in our bed. It’s ear-piercing. I’ve thought about packing up the baby monitor because there’s absolutely no need for it anymore.View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond

Feeding: We’ve been much more ambitious with REAL food this month. Letting him have bits of fish and squash off my plate, chopping up strawberries and bananas for his little fingers to grab. We even started buying some of those Gerber raviolis and cutting those in half and letting him go to town. And in addition to MumMums, we also buy yogurt melts, puffs, and little Gerber crunchies that my husband likes to call Cheetos. And the maple sugar ones are his “breakfast Cheetos.”

Developments: Still crawling and pulling up on everything, but no where near walking yet. His crawl isn’t your typical crawl either. He takes his left foot and puts it on the ground, using it to propel himself forward, and brings his right knee up for the other side. So he ends up with carpet burn on his right knee but his left knee never touches the ground. Like a combo crawl/crab walk. He also figured out how to shake his head from side to side, as if he’s saying no. Sometimes it’s appropriate – like when we’re trying to feed him something he doesn’t want – and sometimes he just does it when he’s looking at you to get you to do it back to him.
View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond
As for vocabulary, he’s saying “mama” all the time now, but not always in context. It still sounds like babbling and he’s not saying it to get my attention, usually. “Gog” aka Dog is still his favorite thing to say. And any animal he sees is a “Gog” or “Guk” which is duck. But he KNOWS so many more words now and he’s picking up on how different things work. Like he knows that the remote control changes the TV channel, so he’ll grab it, push buttons, and look at the TV to see if anything happened. And if I grab the DVD remote, even if he’s busy playing, he’ll stop and look at the TV because he knows I’m about to play his Baby Einstein DVD. Little sponge!
Even though he isn’t walking yet, his hand-eye coordination is awesome. He can throw balls directly to you, spin wheels with one finger, but for the life of him cannot figure out how to tip his sippy cup or hold his own bottle if he’s not laying back.

Firsts This Month: First Mother’s Day and first time celebrating mommy’s birthday (on the outside). First birthday party. First taste of cake. First time in a swing (loved it). First dip in the pool (also loved it). First time attending a friend’s first birthday party (baby playdate!).  First ear infection, which came with first fever and first time taking antibiotics.View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond

Likes: Still loves dogs, still loves his mama, still entranced by Baby Einstein videos. He also loves to go outside and go exploring. This kid is happiest when he’s out and about, observing the world. Or playing ball or tickle games with his parents. Or eating. He loves to eat.View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond

Favorite Songs: He’s finally grown to love his bath music and will light up when he hears Splish Splash, Rubber Ducky, or Under the Sea.

Favorite Toys: Balls, blocks, books – still the same. The jumparoo days have officially ended and the exersacuer days are numbered. Good thing we bought him a splash table for his birthday this month!

Dislikes:  Bedtime is a battle because he hates being left alone at night. Naps are a breeze most of the time, but for some reason, he fights us on bedtime. And even though he’s had 3 haircuts now, the third time he didn’t like it when the stylist sprayed his hair with water. Clippers didn’t bother him, but spray his hair with water and he will cut you (with his eyes). Diaper changes and changing clothes always seem to piss him off, but as soon as it’s over, he’s fine. Depending on how tired he is, sometimes he fusses when bathtime is over, but other times he’ll lift his arms up voluntarily to get out.

Oh and ear infections. It started the Wednesday or Thursday before his party. He had a fever and took a super long nap and was just all around irritable. On Friday morning, I took him to the pediatrician and they confirmed that he had an ear infection in his right ear. He battled a fever until later that night, despite the combo dosing of Ibuprofen and Tylenol. And I’m so glad it broke because we nearly cancelled his party for Sunday.

What I’m Thankful For: That we made it nearly an entire year without any sickness. And that we caught his ear infection before it got worse. Also thankful for two very successful first birthday parties and all the friends and family that came out to celebrate.

What I’m Looking Forward To:  Had I written this on time, I would’ve said our trip to Nashville, which has now already happened (post coming soon). So now I’ll just say that we’re looking forward to a relaxing, low-key summer that hopefully includes a few trips to the pool and evenings in our backyard.

How Mommy’s Doing: Same old, same old. Body is still a wreck and I can’t find the motivation to do anything about it. Where does one find motivation?? I know I need to try harder but I just…can’t. Or won’t, I should say. I frustrate myself. Also, for those wondering about the lasting effects of c-sections, my scar STILL itches! Not constantly or anything, but at least a couple of times a day I find myself scratching it. And (TMI warning) periods post-baby and post-nursing are THE WORST. They’re unpredictable (for me anyway) and they knock you on your butt for days. They’re almost bad enough to make me want to be pregnant again. ALMOST.
On the positive side, I received a promotion at work and then promptly treated myself to a cleaning service twice a month. I’m not one of those people that can “do it all” so as much as I hate to say it, Sorry D, part of your college fund is now going to someone else to clean our toilets and mop our floors. But considering how many things enter your mouth after being on the floor, let’s call it money well spent, shall we?View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmondView More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond

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I think I skipped a 6-9 months post on my favorite baby things so I’m cramming them into one, big 6-12 month post.

1. iPhone or iPad – preferably both. The iPhone has come in handy for SO MANY THINGS. Taking photos/video, playing music (babies love music, especially my baby), or playing videos when we’re trying to have a meal at a restaurant and baby D has decided that everything within reach must be thrown on the floor. The iPad has been most helpful when we’ve  spent 10 hours in the car ONE WAY to visit my husband’s family, which has already been SIX times since he’s been born. That’s about twice the amount of trips we make on a normal year. We try not to rely on it until he’s getting really annoyed, which typically happens after about hour #6. I can’t blame him though. I’m pretty much over the road trip after that long too.

2. iPhone stand – As mentioned above, we like to eat out and while I’ve read posts from other parents who think it’s better for kids to learn how to behave in social settings like a restaurant without the need for an i-something to distract them, those people aren’t usually around when my kid is throwing anything he can get his mits on to the floor. If they were, I’d say “here, you take him so we can eat our meal in peace.” Then I’m sure they’d probably be okay with us playing a little Baby Einstein for 20 minutes. And this iPhone stand helps keep the phone out of reach and in place.

3. MumMums – All of those baby finger foods found in the baby food section are fantastic (and puffs/yogurt melts/etc.) but MumMums are probably our favorite because he can hold them and gnaw on them until they’re mushy. They keep him busy for awhile and I don’t have to have a special place to set it down; I just hand it to him and he goes to town. Unlike puffs or yogurt melts that basically require a clean, flat surface to lay a few out and let him pick them up.

4. Baby Einstein exersaucer – Really any exersaucer will do. This one just happened to be free from my inlaws when they found it at a yard sale for $5. At first, we didn’t think we would need this, since we already had a bouncer seat, bumbo, and jumperoo. I mean, how many baby contraptions does one family need?! But we soon realized that this was the best of them all because it gave us somewhere safe to put him, and I could move it from room to room (unlike the jumperoo) so I could make dinner and have him right there with me.

5. Playmat – Once D started crawling and pulling up on things, we decided even our carpeted living room was too hard and purchased this playmat to provide a little extra cushion should he take a tumble. Maybe that’s the overprotective parent in both of us, but it gave us a little peace of mind. And while this mat is supposed to be some sort of cool block building thing, if I had it to do over again, I’d probably buy a mat with a fewer parts since D likes to pull it apart all the time.

6. Board Books – I don’t know what it is about books, but they fascinate him! His favorite BY FAR is called Baby Woof Woof and we keep it separated from the rest of the books and only break it out at certain times because one reading requires at least 5 readings and even when you’ve done that many, the boy will fuss and cry until you read it again – or find something better to distract him with.

7. Balls – Basketballs, baseballs – any kind of balls really. Balls are his favorite toys. First, he learned how to roll it back and forth, then he quickly taught himself to throw it and loves to spend an hour playing his version of catch. Already a sports fanatic.

8. Blocks – After balls, his blocks are his second favorite toy. Well, blocks and stacker rings. He loves to pick two of them up and bang them together. He still hasn’t quite figured out the sorting aspect of it yet, but he loves to put him in and out of the bucket.

9. Original Sprout Shampoo – I try to use Burt’s Bees lotion and bubble bath almost exclusively because I love the smell, but after fighting a bit of cradle cap when he was around 7 months old and getting his first haircut, the stylist suggested the above Original Sprout Shampoo. And you guys, it cleared up with just ONE use and we haven’t had so much as a dandruff flake since. Awesome stuff, even if I don’t love the smell as much as Burt’s Bees.

10. Glow Seahorse – I was determined to get baby D a glow worm for nostalgia’s sake (both the hubs and I had them as babies) but the glow worm didn’t look the same and I just liked the seahorse better. He doesn’t fall asleep with his arm around it like the baby in the picture but it has provided some comfort and distraction from time to time and I can probably credit it to at least a few hours of extra sleep a week, so it’s already worth the minimal cost.

Tell me your favorite baby item for months 6-12!

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Daddy’s Day

daddysdayMother’s Day and Father’s Day are quickly becoming two of my favorite holidays. Two entire days dedicated to honoring parents.

Last year was hubby’s first official Father’s Day, and the last Father’s Day we celebrated with my grandpa. In fact it was really the last time we had a meaningful conversation with him at all. I gave him a card with pictures of baby D. (What do you get a man who’s dying, can’t get out of bed, and can’t eat anything?) We talked about baseball and watched some of the Cardinals game, trying to avoid talking about the future. Less than two weeks later, he was gone.

So this year we were determined to keep things positive. I woke up a little before 8am, hubby and baby D snoozing beside me. Threw on some jeans and drove to our favorite local donut shop to grab a half dozen donuts.

I came home to find the boys already on the couch, baby D with his bottle. Oops. I made a pot of coffee and gave the hubs his presents – a book of “Awesome Dad Projects” and some personalized golf balls. The golf balls were a much bigger hit than the book. The card went over pretty well too, since it had a pic of a dog that looks like ours. That’s always a surefire win.

This weekend also happened to be free HBO weekend and Field of Dreams was playing, followed by a Rocky marathon. This meant the rest of the morning was spent on the couch. We each made some phone calls to family, put the baby down for a nap, took showers, and got ready for our activity of the day – Grant’s Farm. For those not from St. Louis, Grant’s Farm is a cross between a petting zoo (but bigger) and a real zoo (but smaller) with free beer. Actually the whole thing is free except for the $12 parking. Once you get there, you hop on a train tour to look at animals like wild mustangs, deer, buffalo, longhorns, ostriches, and mountain goats. Once the train drops you off, you walk through an area of goat, duck and chicken feeding, a giant carousel, and around the way, you can even see elephants, and another feeding opportunity, but for camels and llamas. Then, finally, you reach the beer garden where each over 21 adult is given 2 complimentary beers. Food can also be purchased (and it was) and there are a some stables with Clydesdales. It’s one of the better places for families in St. Louis to spend a few hours.

Baby D LOVED the goats and sqwaked at a couple of geese (who sqwaked at him first). We also stopped by the Clydesdale stables on the other end of the parking lot (there are two sets) and one of the horses even let us pet him.

On the way home, we picked up some BBQ ribs for dinner and spent time on the deck catching up with an old neighbor who stopped by the neighborhood to visit.

Then it was bath time, reading time, and bed time. But since we’re still struggling with some sleep issues, I ended up snuggling him in the rocking chair for a good half hour or so and then patting him on the back in his crib until he fell asleep.

And I didn’t mind one bit. 


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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most creative, craftiest person around. But there’s just something about planning a baby’s first birthday party that got me really excited. Once I could decide on a theme, that is.

There are SO many cute party theme ideas floating around out there. (If you’d like to go down a rabbit hole of awesome themes, I suggest you check out Kara’s Party Ideas.) We narrowed it down to either a Little Man party or a Puppy Party. I went with the Puppy theme for two reasons. 1) D LOVES dogs. It’s pretty much the only word he says with any consistency. And his little face just lights up whenever we see a dog. 2) The Little Man party seems like a timeless classic that we could do later and really have some fun with (like with fake mustaches and such) but the puppy theme might only ever work this year since it’s very baby-ish and kids seem to get opinions as they grow up. (Which is why I dress him in the cutest, most humiliating outfits I can find sometimes. Bunny sleeper with a cotton tail on the butt? YEP!)

Once the theme was set, I spent way too much time picking out invitations. As you may recall from an earlier post, it ended up looking like this.

D Invite 4x6 2

I loved the blue, green and orange combo and decided I’d run with those colors for the rest of the party decor. But after a stop by Party City, it turns out orange is a really tough color to find in party supplies, so the colors morphed into just blue and green. I also agonized for far too long over the photographer, the cake/cupcakes, the smashcake, and probably everything in between. But enough talking. Time for showing! Ignore my red walls in the background. Looking back, I probably should’ve moved the table to the other side of the room so it wouldn’t clash so much.

puppydecorFor the cake, I ended up just going with a smashcake, cupcake-cake, and extra cupcakes from Walmart – in white and chocolate flavors. I added the dog bones which were just graham cracker Scooby Snacks. My mom made the pawprint cake using a pawprint cake pan she found at Michael’s. We used food dye for the icing, and funfetti cake mix. Here’s a close up of the pawprint cake.


Table cloth, dog napkins, pawprint balloons, birthday banner and dog pinata were from Birthday Express and the rest of the napkins, cups, utensils, balloons and the rest of the decor were from Party City.


My photographer was a friend I’ve gone to school with since about third or fourth grade. I still paid full price but she does great work.

Of all the decorations though, my favorite was this photo display I put in our downstairs hallway leading out to the patio. I took one photo each week of baby D in a different outfit, then printed the photos and made corresponding numbered tags and hung each one on a ribbon with mini clothespins.



These “doggie bags” were from Target and I made sure each of the kids/babies that attended left with one. Each bag included a little tennis ball (Target – pet section), a frisbee (Party city), Scooby Snacks (Walmart), and a plastic bone with bone shaped crayons inside (Birthday Express). Also not pictured was a box with “Free Puppies” so that each kid could “adopt a puppy” – aka little stuffed puppies I found at the dollar store.


And what would any puppy party be without D’s FAVORITE puppy?

We got really lucky with good weather, despite the forecast for rain, so before the party started we staged a little photo shoot in the back yard.


I’m surprised our photographer was able to capture these smiles because D was CRANKY. (Chair was $5 at Walmart in case you’re wondering.)

It should also be noted that the birthday boy fell asleep about 5 minutes after those photos were taken and slept through the first 45 minutes of his party. He was diagnosed with an ear infection two days before the party so little man was struggling to recover and was NOT happy about being woken up and forced in front of about 35 people.

But cake makes everything better so as soon as he got up, it was cake smash time.



Surprisingly, he dove right in and ended up eating almost half the cake!

Boy was a MESS after that so we gave him a quick dunk in the bathtub and then back out to mingle, though he pretty much clung to me the entire time. He managed to play with his baby girlfriends for a few minutes, but it didn’t last long. Then we opened presents while everyone chowed down on hamburgers and hotdogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, chips, fresh fruit, puppy chow (naturally!) and of course – cake. By 5:30, the party was over and we were exhausted! But we couldn’t end the day without letting the birthday boy play in his birthday present from mommy and daddy. A new splash table!





I think he liked it.

Happy first birthday, baby boy! Can’t wait to see what this next year brings!

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wifelistWhat is it about domestication that makes us put such a heavy burden on ourselves? Why, as a woman, do I feel the need to work 50 hours a week, cook healthy meals, keep a spotless house, work out regularly, always be dressed to impress, attend all the social functions, give the best gifts, be the best friend, mom, wife, daughter, granddaughter, and neighbor, throw the best parties, and take the best pictures of my kid? Essentially, why do we always feel like we have to “do it all” only to realize that “doing it all” is impossible? Or rather, doing it all WELL is impossible.

You’ve heard the old adage, “it takes a village” when it comes to raising a child, right? I’m not sure I ever really believed that, but the point is that in order to raise a family, one needs help. And I’m not just talking about a husband who happens to get his dirty socks IN the laundry basket instead of next to it 75% of the time. I’m talking REAL help.

At work, it’s my job to work as efficiently as possible without sacrificing quality. I approach my home in the same manner. So much so, that I end up dropping a ball because I’ve got too many in the air. I’ll try to do laundry while cooking dinner and end up letting the water boil all over the stove, therefore creating another mess that will need cleaning later. And no matter how hard I try, I cannot fit working out into my current schedule without sacrificing quality time with my family. Or quality sleep for my sanity.

A few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to one of those meal prep places. As someone who fails miserably at meal planning and hates to cook or grocery shop, this has been a  huge time saver for our family. Yes, I still have to go to the grocery store. And yes I still technically have to cook. But it’s so easy to just toss something in the oven and steam some veggies or microwave a baked potato and still feel like you’re eating a quality, home-cooked meal where you know every ingredient that went into it without any added preservatives. It’s worth the hour and a half each month to prep roughly two weeks worth of dinners and the cost is probably about the same if you were to purchase all the same ingredients on your own. Could we eat more cheaply? Sure. McDonald’s every night for dinner would be cheaper. But that’s what I mean about quality, home-cooked meals.

I still have a few things to work on diet-wise, but for the most part, I feel like we’re in a good zone as far as dinners go and how much time we spend on cooking/grocery shopping.

Then came the house. Some of the biggest fights in our marriage have stemmed from the “who does more” argument over household chores. I’m not a neat freak by any means, but it drives me absolutely bonkers to have a cluttered or dirty house. I once took a spontaneous vacation day from work to clean the bathroom because I just couldn’t take it anymore. And now that D is crawling, I’m even more aware of how dirty our floors get after just a couple of days, thanks in part to our giant, shedding dog and my husband’s incessant need to always be wearing shoes. And it would be easy if we could just run a vacuum every day, but when you live in a tri-level home with carpet, wood, and tile floors scattered throughout, it’s not that easy. It takes us at least an hour to do a quick sweep/vacuum of our entire house. Not including the mopping. So 2 hours total. Add on wiping down the two bathrooms, the kitchen, and all of the dusting and it’s an easy 4-6 hour job to tidy up the whole house. Not including all the laundry, mail sorting, and errand running. So basically, every weekend was dedicated to household things. Or rather, every weekend SHOULD be dedicated to that stuff but we’d rather do things like go to the park or hang out with friends and so that stuff just fell by the wayside until I’d have a freak out moment from all the dirt and clutter and spend an entire weekend trying to catch up only to end up collapsing in a heap of exhaustion after a few hours.

And you guys, that got REALLY old REALLY fast.

I thought about paying for a cleaning lady to help with my mess of a house, but it always seemed too…privileged. My grandma was a cleaning lady. Two of my aunts were cleaning ladies. WE did not hire cleaning ladies. My family WERE the cleaning ladies. Cleaning ladies were for people with money to burn, not people like me who drives an 8 yr old Hyundai with dents in the door.

Then a couple of years ago, my best friend started employing a cleaning lady once every 3 weeks and they don’t even have kids. She’s not rich or overly privileged and it started to change my perception a little. She NEVER complained about housework; only laundry. And I can handle laundry.

So last week we made the decision to start working smarter, not harder, and starting today, we’re employing a cleaning service twice a month. And if unforeseen expenses come up and we need to cut budgets, we can always cancel it. But after weighing the pros (time saved I can spend with my family; less daily stress; fewer arguments with my husband; healthier living for all of us) versus the cons (cost), the choice was pretty simple and I’m only mad at myself for not swallowing my pride sooner and learning that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes.

Coincidentally, as I was coming to terms with all of this in my head, I read this post over on Design Mom about “Hiring Help” and the comments made me feel SO MUCH BETTER about my choices and less like an over-privileged woman who shirks her household responsibilities. Why is there such a stigma with hiring help? Why is it so hard to even admit to you guys that I’m hiring help? I don’t know, but I wish it wasn’t.

So meal prep places and cleaning services are my two not-so-secret secrets in my quest to “do it all”. What’s yours?

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