Monday, January 27, 2014

Tessa's First Birthday Party

Man, being a part-time working mama sure is cramping my style (post to come...someday!). The time I used to spend working on my blog and reading other blogs is now used for catching up on the errands and chores I don't have time for on work days. I feel so out of the blogging loop...I think I only scrolled through my Bloglovin' feed once or twice this week, so I feel like I'm missing out on so much.

These first few weeks back at work aren't necessarily going to be the new normal, though, since we had not one, but TWO birthday parties for Tessa over two weekends, so that kept me extra busy. Since both of our families live out of town, we had my family here one weekend, and my husband's family the next. It didn't work for everyone to come at the same time, and we don't have the space for everyone to be here all at once, so that's why the two parties. We planned one party, and threw it twice! :)

We decided to go with a simple, small, family-only birthday party. As much as I wanted to do a bigger, themed, Pinterest-worthy party, we just didn't have the time, nor did we want to spend the money and effort on something that Tessa won't even remember. I'll save the big theme parties for when she's a few years older! Besides, a smaller, simpler party is more our style and fits better with who we are as a family.

I kept the decorations pretty simple. I made a yarn pom-pom garland in pink and yellow to hang over the dining room window, and a simple banner using her monthly photos. I also made a little banner for her highchair and my mom picked up the balloons.

The pom-pom garland was by far the most labor-intensive part of the decor, but I started early and made a few pom-poms each day in the weeks leading up to the party, so it wasn't too bad.

The photo banner was just a matter of printing off 5x7's of each of her monthly photos, making the month labels and gluing them to clothespins. Easy peasy!

The highchair banner was kind of an afterthought. I wanted something to go on her chair, so at the last minute I made two extra pom-poms, my husband printed off the letters to spell "one" and I cut them out and strung them together. It wasn't the prettiest, but it worked!

I also kept the food pretty simple. We had strawberry and lemon cupcakes, fruit (strawberries, grapes, and pineapple) with my favorite Skor dip, and pretzels & dill dip for something a little salty. To drink we had lemonade.

I used framed photos of Tessa (one of her newborn shots and one of her one-year ones), and the jar I filled with hospital memorabilia as table decor, and off to one side I had the laptop set to a slideshow of her first birthday and cake smash photos. (I thought I got a picture of the whole table, but I realize now that I didn't - oops!).

No, she didn't eat the whole thing! :)
And, of course, there were presents! Tessa got spoiled by her grandparents, aunts, and uncles!

Hugs for her new owl. :)
We had two great, full weekends celebrating our sweet one-year-old with the people who love her most. We are so thankful for her and for our families for making her first birthday so special.


Monday, January 20, 2014

A {late} Birthday Post

Dear Tessa,

I can hardly believe that your first year has come and gone. You have grown and changed and learned so much in these 365 days, it's amazing.

I remember your birth day like it was just last week - I suppose it's a day I'll never forget. I was up most of the night with contractions, wondering if you were really coming. It didn't take long before I knew for sure and we headed to the hospital during a snowstorm to meet you. You came almost didn't want to wait for the doctor to arrive before you made your appearance.

I remember the first few days and nights at home. You didn't want to sleep at all at night - Dad and I would take turns rocking you into the wee hours of the morning until you finally relaxed and settled to sleep, right next to us - sometimes right in bed with us. Those days and nights were long and hard, but they were still precious because we had you.

I remember our early struggles with feeding. You lost too much weight because we had trouble nursing. We tried everything, eventually feeding you some formula to get you the nutrients you needed to grow. I'm so glad we persevered and got help. Even though I was exhausted and discouraged and felt like all I did was feed and pump those first few weeks, it was worth it to see you thriving now.

Tessa, you're only one year old, but already you've taught me so much and changed me in so many ways - you have no idea, and you probably never will.

I'm amazed by you every day. I love watching you grow and learn, seeing you explore and discover your world, and getting to know you better as you get older and more of your personality shows. You are joyful, sweet, funny, smart, curious, and independent.

I've loved each different stage and milestone you've gone through over the past year - from holding your head up, to rolling over, to sitting up, to eating your first solid food, to crawling and babbling and dancing. Each stage brings something new and exciting and it just keeps getting better. I now know why moms always say that whatever stage their baby is currently at is their favorite stage. I know we have so much fun ahead of us, but I don't want to rush you, I just want to enjoy right now with you.

So thanks for this amazing year you've given us. Thanks for challenging us, teaching us, and changing us. Thanks for lighting up our days and bringing so much joy into our lives. We love you so much and can't imagine our lives without you.

Love always,


Friday, January 10, 2014

Somebody's 1!!

This week has been jam packed, I haven't even had time to read my favorite blogs, never mind do any writing for my own. I really wanted to have a full 1st birthday post ready to go for today, but it didn't happen. Between being back at work, Tessa going to daycare, both her and my husband being sick this week, and planning for a little birthday party this's been a crazy week!!

So, all I'm going to do today is post a few favorites from the birthday & cake smash photos we had done last week. I'll do a better birthday post and share some more photos (hopefully) next week.

Thanks to Richelle at Limetree Photography for the photos! She did a fantastic job of capturing some great moments.

 I can't believe my baby is 1 today! I remember the day she was born so clearly - it's like it happened last week. Where has the year gone?

Happy 1st birthday to my sweet Tessa! I love you more than you'll ever know!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Time for Some Tough Love

A few months ago, I wrote about my journey in coming to accept my post-baby body. I struggled with it for a little while, then when I recognized and reminded myself of what my body had just accomplished through pregnancy, labor, and the birth of my daughter, it became pretty easy for me to be more gentle on myself and to accept my new shape.

That was a good thing - for a while. It was what I needed as I recovered from childbirth, adjusted to life with a newborn, and found my rhythm as a mom. I gave myself a much needed break and lowered my expectations for myself - which is what I think all new moms need to do - at least for a while.

I've found, though, that I've continued to maintain the same lowered expectations for myself in terms of health and wellness, even though I know (and have known for a while) that it's time to start picking up the slack. It's not a bad thing to go easy on yourself for a while, if it's what's needed, but that should only be temporary and not become the new normal. Yes, I needed a short period where I gave myself grace and gentleness, where I allowed myself to focus on other things. But now I can see that it's gotten to the point where I'm maybe being a little too gentle on myself, and have allowed myself to neglect my own health and created (or continued) some not-so-healthy habits. It's one thing to go easy on yourself for a season - it's another thing entirely to use that as an excuse to be lazy and undisciplined and not take care of yourself, which is what it's become for me.

Like I said in my previous post, I was able to quickly get to a place of acceptance and even appreciation for my new post-baby shape and I've managed to return to my pre-pregnancy weight without much effort. But I know that I could be doing much, much better with my eating habits and exercise routine (which is completely non-existent). For me, it's not so much about weight loss or looking a certain way as it is about overall good health and wellness and feeling good about the choices I make.

So, having said all that, (and I know I'm a little late on the New Year's resolution/goal post, but this is something I've been thinking about for a while and have already started working on), my biggest goal for myself this year is to be as healthy as I can be. That means making a conscious effort to make healthy choices with my diet as well as starting (and maintaining) some sort of physical activity routine.

One of the worst areas for me is my love for sweets and my terrible snacking habits, especially when I'm home all day. It's way too easy to reach for something unhealthy and I've let it go for too long. This, along with getting moving, is the first area I'm going to tackle. I've come up with a plan and a list of healthy snack choices that I'll look too when I feel the need to snack. I've decided that I'm going to limit myself to just one snack time a day - a set time where I can have a healthy snack - instead of just randomly, mindlessly grazing on junk through the day. Tessa is at an age where she is watching me closely and noticing what I'm doing - I do NOT want her learning my unhealthy habits and thinking that they can become hers too.

Snack options - this is now hanging on the fridge.
The other area that needs improvement is exercise. We bought a treadmill on a Boxing Day sale and are waiting for it to come, so my plan is to start a regular walking routine and work my way up to some jogging/running. I guess the silver lining for me is that I don't have far to go to improve - any amount of physical activity will be an improvement from where I'm currently at.

I don't want to become obsessive or legalistic about these things, but I know myself and I know that if I don't have some kind of plan and steps to take, nothing will happen. I know there will be days that I'll eat poorly or skip my workout, and that's not the end of the world - it takes work, discipline, and self control to break habits. And, like I said earlier, I'm pretty good at being gentle on myself - I'm now going to save that gentleness for the days I mess up, paired with a healthy dose of strictness to make sure I get right back on track the next day. As long as I can make healthy choices the majority of the time and work my way to having this become the new normal, I'm happy.
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