Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Logan's First Birthday Party

About a week before I learned I was pregnant with Logan, Rory and I had a very serious conversation about perhaps not trying for a while longer. Rory had reservations about having a baby during the holiday season because his birthday is three days before Christmas and is slightly jaded about it. The conversation ended without making a final decision because I felt like we both really needed to consider if the fact that our baby was born during the holidays really mattered. Well, a week and three pregnancy tests later, we found out Logan was arriving during the holiday season! A doctors appointment put my due date at November 28th, then another put it at December 2nd. When the reality of being pregnant came to us, we didn't care about a "holiday baby"; our thoughts were only to have a healthy one. I do think about it often though; Logan's birthday will fall on Thanksgiving some years, some people will be out of town for the holiday and may not be able to attend any parties we might plan. I have a friend whose husband shares Logan's birthday and he told me he hates Thanksgiving because of it. I suppose it's all in how you celebrate; to make sure you differentiate between occasions. She's no Christmas baby, but I want to always remember to never do a "Thanksgiving theme" or if her birthday is on the actual holiday Thursday, I want to separate the celebrations so she feels like her birthday is special and not "lumped" in with another special day.

I went back and forth about having a birthday party for her first because she wont remember it and it's expensive. I ultimately came to the decision to have a first birthday and then with each birthday to follow, I will ask her how she wants to celebrate.. party or no party. At the beginning of the month I started scouring Pinterest for some Fall party ideas. I did not want to have a party at our house because the thought gave me horrible anxiety. I am a neat freak, I don't allow shoes in the house, and when I am ready for people to leave.. I am ready for them to leave. I am a horrible hostess.. I admit it. I am just insane about everything being in it's place and clean that it's hard to have guests. Even when Rory and I were just roommates in our party house.. I followed people to clean up after them and when I wanted to go to bed, I wanted them to leave. So.. don't ask to crash at my house ever.. haha! Anyway, we fell in love with a local park that is rustic and gorgeous and looks like you'd be having a picnic on a hiking trail and decided to go with a "Fall picnic party". I made the invitations, printed them and sent them out and crossed my fingers and prayed for good weather. The weather was pretty gorgeous the week before the party so I was feeling good about everything; I made decorations out of things I already had in my craft closet, I placed food orders and planned my baking. Thursday morning it had rained a bit, but was beautiful the rest of the day. Friday is when the anxiety started, Friday is when the wind came roaring in. The wind that we get here I feel can give Chicago a run for it's money. It's gusty.. it's knock you on your ass gusty, toppled trees gusty, Sharknado gusty (ok, maybe not that bad); it was definitely strong enough to be toying with the idea of canceling your daughters birthday party kind of strong. I layed awake all Friday night, listening to the wind, checking the weather, and when I got up at 6am Saturday morning, I started setting up my house for a party.


Thankfully, it did turn out to be a really nice day. Logan enjoyed all of her favorite people in one place. I am glad we kept it small in the first place (is twenty one people small?).. it was important to me to invite only the people that are present in Logan's life and not get carried away. Of course she enjoyed her presents, but not so much her cake. She seemed pretty confused as to what was happening and what she should do with it. She poked at it a bit, put one or two bites of frosting in her mouth and licked my finger a few times. She actually ended up having a reaction on her face where the frosting was.. only my child. White people problems.

I definitely am happy with the way everything turned out and, of course, happy that everyone (sort of) fit in here. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day, so that's what's important ..not the hours of cleaning afterward, right? I also have a fridge full of pie and cupcakes.. any takers? 

Here's to hoping the next year doesn't fly by as quickly!

I love you sweet girl.

xo
-Ali

*last three photos taken by Dallas Sterling*

Monday, November 25, 2013

Logan is One!

One year ago on this day, I was given the most beautiful gift; I became a mom to the most loveable, sweet, silly, adventurous, smart little girl. I am so blessed to have her to learn from everyday, to have her make me a better person, to have her love me unconditionally, and to have made us a family unit.
Happy Birthday to you, my sweet Logan. You make every day brighter for your dada and I. We love you to the moon!

Stay tuned for a post about her birthday party!

xo
-Ali

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Baby Registry Uh Ohs

Ok, broken record here, but I really cannot believe Logan is almost a year old. I remember taking my three (yes three) pregnancy tests so clearly, I remember crying out of pure joy with Rory, I remember starting on my baby registry immediately! I began searching for gender neutral necessities right away; I thought I knew what I was doing, I thought I knew what I needed, but as soon as Logan came and we started living life with her, I realized a lot of the things I registered for were not the best decisions for us. I thought it would be a good idea to share those mishaps with you and also to share what we got instead. So maybe if you're a new mom or a mom to be, I hope to shed some light on the matter. Ready?

 
We registered for (and received) this PRI Infant Bath Seat. I thought it'd be nice because it was lightweight, portable, and didn't take up much space. It didn't fit in our sink so we had to stick in directly on the counter top to bathe Logan. I did use it a few times in the actual bath tub and I'd sit in there with her, but the suction cups didn't work well and I fell while getting in the tub with her once. Since it was unsafe for us to use, we got:
  
PRI EuroBath. This ended up being a good fit for us. We put it on the counter top a few times when she was still little and now we use it in the actual bath tub. It keeps her confined, saves water, and we have been able to use it for a long time as there is an infant and a toddler side. It does, however, take up a lot of space in our tub (we prop it up to use the shower) so I am thinking I'd like to get something else for the next little one (whenever that time comes). I have my eye on this Boon Naked Collapsible Baby Bath Tub :
  

It seems like everyone is gaga over this carrier:
  
Ergo Baby Carrier. We got one, got the infant insert and I've always hated it. Logan has always hated it too. When she was very tiny, I'd wear her around the house because it was impossible to get anything done. I really gave myself a hard time about laundry and dishes and vacuuming, so I thought I'd just wear her so I could do it. There were times she just didn't want to be put down. I always felt like she was suffocating in the infant insert and we'd both be a sweaty stinky mess after using it. Once Logan got a bit older, I tried it again (without the infant insert) and we were still sweaty, and she still hated to be facing inward. The side carry is a total joke; it's bulky and uncomfortable.. and I could never do the back carry, because I felt it was dangerous trying to do it by myself. I am going to try this carrier for the next one:
  
Beco Baby Carrier seems like a good one. I've heard great things about them, babys can forward face, and there is more support. I do not feel like wraps or slings are safe, so I like all of the options this one has. 

One of my biggest regrets was registering for this:
  
The Graco Travel System. The car seat was fine for a while, but I used the Graco SnugRider all of the time instead of the stroller. The stroller was too big, too bulky, too confusing to lock the car seat in to, and I kicked the back of it while walking. I felt like we could not walk normally behind it and the only way to use it is to walk like a geisha. In hindsight, I would have registered for the car seat and a separate jogging stroller. If you plan on walking with a stroller, a jogger is absolutely necessary. My sister let us use her City Mini and it still did not fit our family. We needed a stroller with better rubberized inflatable wheels because we go on a walk every day and also go on dirt trails. We found this stroller at Babies 'R Us recently: 
  
It is the Baby Trend Expedition. It's been great, but we are not entirely happy with it and know we are going to need to invest in a better quality stroller soon. The front wheel locks and unlocks, but shakes uncontrollably if it's not in the lock position now, which makes it annoying to shop with because it's very hard to turn down aisles. We are going to keep an eye out on Craigslist for a B.O.B or a Jeep stroller. 

I love the Petunia Pickle Bottom brand. Their prints are so cute and I love that their entire line of diaper bags don't look like a diaper bag. I got this satchel during one of their outlet sales
  
 and soon after Logan was born, we realized we needed to go with the Wistful Weekender
The problem we ran into with the Satchel was that it was very narrow and we had to unpack the entire bag just to find the one thing we needed. The Weekender was really great for being able to see everything very clearly and everything had it's own space. Now that we aren't traveling with as much as we were, I may switch back to the Satchel.

Something that we did not register for that we bought a little too late in the game was this swing:
The Ingenuity Cradle and Sway Swing. We didn't register for a swing or a bouncer (which was definitely not a smart move as they both proved to be a necessity). We ended up buying the Snugabunny Bouncer by Fisher Price right before she was born and she practically lived in it. She also slept in it next to our bed for a while because she had terrible reflux and the pack and play I had her sleeping in was too flat for her to sleep all night in. The batteries for the bouncer did die pretty quickly and it was not very supportive, so we splurged on the swing when Logan was about four and a half months. I wish we had registered for it and had it all along. It would have made things a lot easier for us.

Some other things I registered for and never used were the Boppy, and this portable changing station (Petunia Pickle Bottom bags come with a changing pad and a wipes travel case)
 
I definitely have learned what works best for us and what we will be using for the next baby. It's unfortunate that I registered for things that we ended up replacing because if I would have known what we really needed, than we wouldn't have had to spend so much money ourselves. You live and you learn, right?

xo
-Ali

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Oh, Hello There.

Hi there blog world. Pardon my absence for the last week; I've been focusing on life with Logan, her upcoming birthday, and enjoying babys nap time with some good ole fashioned television programming. Over the last week, I started a bunch of blog entries in my head as soon as I layed down for bed at night, but I never got around to actually writing them. Mostly the ideas were trumped by my constant thinking about not continuing this blog of mine. I have not been doing it for that long and I already have lots of reservations about "putting myself out there". I started this because freelance jobs I was applying to were asking for writing examples.. I didn't have any. I also was a new mom with lots of down time and a new mom whose friendships were fading and this was my venting outlet. I definitely still enjoy being able to share certain things, but some things I just want to keep for myself and for my little family of three. I feel like my daughter is very exposed and she had no choice. I no longer like the fact that her face can be found on Pinterest and Apartment Therapy. It was fun for a while; to feel like I was swimming with the big blogger fish, but I am just sort of feeling.. over it now.

I haven't deleted this blog because I know family that lives far enjoys being "in the loop" with what's going on with us. I may turn this in to a private blog eventually, but I haven't quite decided that yet. Life is getting very busy with my almost one year old. We have full days of feeding times and nap times and play time and errand time and catching up on laundry and tackling dishes and Gymboree and trying to fit in mama exercise time; we definitely are not sitting at home trying to find something to do.
 
I do have a couple of posts scheduled for the next couple of weeks, but after that, I've got nothing. So if you like, stay tuned and we may see you again soon.
Thanks for sticking around with us and you can always follow me on Instagram to follow along in real time.

xo
-Ali

Monday, November 11, 2013

Logan's Birthday Wishlist

Somehow my little baby girl is turning a year old this month. I don't even know where the time went. Yes, like every other mama in the world, I feel like I blinked and my newborn turned into a little person. It's time to get my butt into gear and plan this girls birthday party!

I've mentioned before, but I really love this rule of thumb for presents for kids. I feel like kids expect so much from their parents these days; and while I would love to buy her everything her little heart desires for the rest of her life, I don't believe that will benefit her (or us) in the long run.

These are the things I am eyeing for her:
 
Something you want: Earlyears Lil' Shopper Playset  // Something you need: Hape Playfully Delicios Gourmet Kitchen  // Something to wear: Cable Knit Dress  // Something to read: Babylit Dracula

Okay, so maybe she doesn't need a kitchen.. but I need one for her. The way our house is set up, I cannot be in the kitchen while she is in her playroom and now that she is walking all over the place, it's not safe for her to be in the kitchen with me... burning hot oven and all. I usually stick her in her high chair with some toys, but now she is throwing them all on the floor and yelling at me to play her "I dropped it so mama gets it" game. Not so fun for mama! I would love to put a play kitchen in the dining room so she can be entertained and in sight!

Logan is also very much into books these days so why not get her "Dracula"? I love this Babylit series.. I've seen "Alice in Wonderland", "Pride & Prejudice", "Moby Dick".. you get the jist.. it's so clever and sweet.

As much as I am in disbelief that she's going to be one, I am excited for her to unwrap presents for the first time and am especially excited to make memories and start new traditions with her.

xo
-Ali

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Actually, Lucy, my trouble is Christmas" -Charlie Brown

source
This week was the start of Christmastime, apparently. All of the stores I visited were decorated accordingly and had all of their Christmas items out for sale. I walked along the aisles humming along to the Christmas music playing and I forgot that it's only the beginning of November. Last night when I got in to bed, I started thinking about how I'd wrap the Christmas gifts I made for everyone (I'll have a how to post on it after Christmas.. I don't want to spoil the surprise!) and that I hope everyone will like what we decided to make this year. Then I started to feel the guilt; that we are going to be very frugal this year and we are giving everyone the same thing.

Starting in elementary school, I got on this kick about watching home videos in the middle of the night. I came to an age where I realized that my parents were never going to be married again and it made me very depressed. All I understood was that they were not married anymore. I needed an explanation and I didn't have one. Now I understand that my parents never should have been married in the first place, but am grateful they were because I am alive! Hey, thanks mom and dad. Anyway.. the point is, I was thinking about those home videos and how we had presents stacked up taller than our little toddler selves and it seemed like we opened presents for ages. I don't remember living that life. I honestly don't have any memories that are my own from when my parents were married.. I only have memories from pictures and scratchy VHS tapes. What I remember my childhood being is with my single mom and my sister and I going to visit my dad in San Clemente.

Christmas growing up was always exciting, because what kid isn't excited for Christmas? My dad would have a small tree up in the living room of my grandpas house, we'd get presents (I don't remember what they were or how many) and then we'd celebrate Christmas with my mom. I do have a lot of memories going to get a tree with my mom and sister; it was always comical. Us three girls loading and unloading a tree that was always only about five feet tall because it was what my mom could afford and it was what we could (almost) manage carrying. The three of us carrying one tiny tree into our tiny apartment was always a hysterical adventure where someone was laughing so hard they'd almost pee their pants. Getting the tree in my moms insanely heavy tree stand was always an issue too. She'd get out the hack saw and I'd have to cut branches and the bottom a handful of times before we got it right.. even though it still seemed to be somewhat crooked once standing.

When Christmas morning came, the mood changed. My mom always apologized for only being able to get us two or three things and my sister and I would reassure her, telling her we didn't care and were happy with what we got (which is true). Once we were in high school, I think we both realized how hard my mom was struggling and we were able to sympathize with her. One year in particular, I can remember my mom crying about the lack of presents. I will never forget that year and never forgot how upset my mom was.. it makes me upset to remember it now. The fact that my mom cried because she was only able to gift us with a few small things is heart wrenching to me.

I am sad that Christmas makes people feel horrible about not being able to give grand gifts (myself included). It seems like it's turned into something other than honoring the birth of Jesus and enjoying time with family. Rory and I are not millionaires and though we love our families and want to give them everything they want, we are not able to do that. Even the twenty dollar gift certificates are not practical for us to do anymore. This year, we are choosing to gift simply with lots of love and unless we win the lottery, we will continue to do so every Christmas (even for our children).

               
I don't want to ever over give to Logan than feel guilty about it the years that I can't. I want her to see Christmas as the time that God gave his Son to us, as a time to be with family, as a time to be appreciative for what we do have because there are so many more people in the world with far less. Perhaps when she gets older, we will volunteer somewhere during the holidays or even make it this time of year that we purge toys and clothes to give to those in need.

My heart is broken for my mom who tried every year to give us the best Christmas. My heart is broken that she compared herself to her sisters or her friends and even my dad who were financially capable of giving their children much more than she could give hers. I see that I am doing it now.. that I am already apologizing to family (via this blog) for the very small gift that is coming their way this Christmas. I am very well aware that they will be grateful for whatever we give to them and they will not hold a grudge or think ill of us, but when they give us their gifts I feel as if I cannot accept them. This whole gift giving has just turned into a ball of guilt and I wish that we'd cut it out all together, but there is joy in giving to those you love no matter how small or large the gift is.

I know this Christmas will be full of love, laughter, and wonderful new memories despite not having deep pockets for gifts, but there is always guilt. I want to be able to feel what I already know is true in that gifts don't matter so that I can forget the guilt and enjoy the season.

And also, thank goodness for Pinterest this year for a really awesome idea! Some other really cool DIY gift ideas are: one two three four

What are your thoughts on budget gifts? Do you have any other DIY ideas for gift giving? I can't wait to share what I did with you soon.

xo
-Ali

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Playroom Redo

I was already in my third trimester of pregnancy when we moved into this house, so I was coming in in full on "nesting" mode. We really hadn't bought anything for Logan yet because we knew we'd be moving and we were waiting to see what we'd get at our baby shower. While moving in all of our furniture from our teeny tiny apartment to this massive (to us) living room, I wanted to make sure to set it up so that Logan would have a space to play. Initially, the space didn't serve much purpose except for a changing station, but as Logan started becoming more interested in play, started sitting up on her own, and now crawling and walking, the space has needed to change to suit her needs. 

You may remember we made toy crates for all of her items. They've been really great in the sense that she can take things in and out on her own and I really love that they're mobile and she can see everything at her level. Logan has become very interested in books recently so her collection has been growing quite a lot and I had no place to store them down here. I keep her paper books in the nursery (where we never play) and keep all of the board books in her play area. With the board books, she can stand on them, turn the pages herself, and explore them as a baby should without me cringing that the book she's looking at is a vintage Peter Pan Golden Book! Anyway, with her collection growing, we needed a storage solution. While searching Pinterest, I came across a lot of people using spice racks for on the wall storage. Such a great idea, but I was not going to drive an hour to Ikea to get them. Luckily, I found the same thing, but bigger, for the same price at Michaels. I stained them the same dark walnut as her crates (and the rest of our furniture) and Rory secured them to the wall. I also wanted to add a chalkboard to the space because I am hoping she will be interested in art and drawing soon. I paint with her, do sidewalk chalk in the backyard, and have given her crayons to color with before; she's more interested in carrying the crayons around the house right now rather than coloring with them... that's alright.. we'll get there! For the chalkboard, I took a frame I already had and spray painted the cardboard backing with chalkboard paint. About three coats seemed to cover it all and it's working just fine! When she's a little older, I think I will just tape up some paper to it and let her paint (with a towel under her of course. Renter problems).
 

I really love how this space has turned out. There's plenty of space for her to run around, push her activity walker, and of course to dump all of her toys and books on the floor. We can all be in there together without feeling cramped, and if one of us is a little tired, we can still be a part of the action while lounging on the couch!

xo
-Ali

Monday, November 4, 2013

November Wishlist

There are no traces of Halloween.. it's on to Thanksgiving and those "why are they playing Christmas music already?" moments. November has snuck up on me this year.. it's time to plan a first birthday party, it's time to get those Christmas presents finished (so it's out of the way), it's time for fires in the fireplace, it's time to put away my flip flops, it's time to breathe in that crisp (as crisp as Southern California gets) Autumn air and to be thankful for the handful of people I love.
Forage for Sweet Sugar Bowl @ Modcloth // Lounging Singer Tunic @ Modcloth // Little Helper Trinket Dish @ Nordstrom // Part and Particles Sweater @ Modcloth // Zombiechomper Hoodie @ Sourpuss // Threshold Round Footstool @ Target // Jack Johnson From Here to Now to You @ Target

Do you have anything on your wishlist this month?

xo
-Ali