Monday, November 24, 2014

Parents' Night Out in Kansas City and Other Weekend Adventures

I've learned to really, really appreciate a good, quiet, lazy weekend, and because staying home is a lot easier than running around with a baby, we've had a lot of them the last year. Not complaining!

But this weekend. This weekend was not quiet, and it was awesome.

I started off Friday morning with a bang when a whole gaggle of mommas and their babes showed up one after the next for a MOPS playdate, a.k.a. some much-needed social times for us and a ton of play time for the littles. I got so excited every time the doorbell rang and a new mama showed up with her babes. I offered to provide a baked potato bar even though I'd never organized one before, but it ended up working out so well!

I meant to take a picture of the whole spread, but I didn't remember to snap one until everyone had already served themselves. Oh well!

Considering how easy and inexpensive it was to throw everything together, I'll definitely do a potato bar again when entertaining!

Thanks to some sweet mommas who stayed back to help me clean up, I was able to kick my feet up for a couple hours once they left and Hadley napped.

Later that night, the three of us headed over to some new friends' home for a homemade Italian dinner. We had the best time! They were so patient as Hadley explored every inch of their living room and terrorized/loved on their boxer, her new BFF. Shanna had already beautifully decorated for Christmas, and Hadley thought her Christmas tree was the best. thing. ever. We definitely learned that we're going to have to keep our ornaments on the top half of the tree this year!

After dinner, Jamie offered to take care of Hadley's bath and putting her to bed so that I could go hang at my sister's house for a couple hours. Between her work schedule and our Thanksgiving schedules, we're going to have over a two week stretch without any real hang-out time, so we were glad to have some "chill time" together. Knowing that they're moving in a couple months is good motivation to soak up every second together that we can!

Saturday. How do I talk about Saturday without writing a novel? It was quite the day!

We woke up bouncing off the walls with excitement to pack up quickly and hit the road. Some of our best friends from Fort Campbell, Jon & Hannah, were driving up from Fort Leonard Wood to meet us in Kansas City at 11:30 to kick off a little reunion weekend together before they move to Hawaii in two weeks. We hadn't seen them since mid-March, so we were pumped!

After driving a few miles down the road, we noticed that our back left tire pressure was really low, so Jamie pulled over and noticed a nail. Awesome. After calling a few places to see when they could get us in, we found a local place that said they get us in immediately. Fist bump. So instead of switching our luggage and Hadley's car seat to Jamie's truck, we drove to the tire repair shop and crossed our fingers that it would be a quick fix. Funny joke.

Apparently patching a tire hole is not quick, so Jamie, Hadley, Teddy (!!!!), and I all waited in the dirtiest waiting area (and I mean dirty!) for over two hours while we watched the minutes continue to go by and see our plans with the Wilsons change. Of course they were completely understanding of our car trouble, but we were still bummed to be losing time with our friends.

Entertaining a curious toddler who wanted to touch everything was seriously a blast too. Baby selfies were shamelessly a go-to when she wouldn't sit still! Seriously though, she was so well behaved considering she was totally missing her nap time. The mechanic walked back in with our keys around noon, and I almost hugged him. Onward!

Since our lunch plans with the Wilsons were up in smoke, we grabbed some drive-thru Chickfila instead and hit the road. I tried to feed Hadley some lunch in the back seat, but all she wanted to do was sleep. Me too, girl.

Then I spilled Chickfila sauce on my pants and almost screamed. Okay I screamed. I finally snapped out of my tire-induced funk as soon as "The Real Slim Shady" came on the radio, and Jamie and I jammed to XM radio's Y2K station the whole way to KC.

Once we got to KC, we dropped off Hadley with Jamie's parents who were so excited to babysit her for the weekend! We knew she was in good hands, so we gave our babe some kisses and flew up to finally meet the Wilsons in downtown. Our reunion was sweet! We immediately picked up where we left off and spent the entire afternoon walking around town, drinking yummy hot drinks, eating treats from the City Market, and talking for hours and hours.

For the night, we parked it over at Tannin's Wine Bar and sipped wine (obviously) and ate appetizers until almost midnight.

We used the new taxi service Uber to get home, and I could do a whole post on that experience alone. It was kind of a disaster, a very, very hilarious disaster. I'm not sure we'll be "uber-ing" any time soon!

We ended the night around a bonfire at Hannah's best friend Colby's incredible apartment and called it a night.

On Sunday, we slept in until nine. BIG, BIG DEAL! Jamie and I haven't done that in a good, long while. After throwing some clothes on, we all ran down to a fun breakfast place before taking a little walk to the river.

Since Hannah and Jon didn't get to see Hadley on Saturday because of our plan change-up, they drove 50 miles round-trip to Jamie's parent's place in Lenexa to see her. We were so touched! She lit up like a Christmas tree when she saw Hannah, and she loved showing her and Jon all of the fun dog toys around the house. ;)

We finally said our "see ya laters" and wished them well on their travels to Hawaii. We can't wait to hopefully visit them later next year.

Later, Jamie and I took advantage of the free babysitting and decided to run around for a couple more hours to do some Christmas shopping and have a late lunch at Tom + Chee, a restaurant we'd seen on Shark Tank a couple years ago and couldn't wait to try. It was, in fact, everything we dreamed it would be. Just go.

aaaaand that's it! Sorry for the novel! In hindsight maybe there wasn't anything out of the ordinary that made this weekend so great, but I think just the combination of constant good company made the last few days exceptional.

I hope you had a fun weekend too and are prepping for some good eats in a few days!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hadley's First Birthday Party - You are my sunshine!

I'll be the first to say that Pinterest started to put a lot of pressure on me to throw the most perfect first birthday party ever.
I take that back. I was the one that was actually putting all the pressure on myself!
After playing with a few ideas of how I wanted to handle Hadley's birthday, we decided to invite just our family members and throw a small, sweet celebration for her. A small part of me was sad that we weren't going to be in either Tennessee or Alabama where our friends love Hadley so well (we are blessed in the friends department big time!), but I was seriously overjoyed that Jamie's and my parents and siblings were all going to be flying and driving to Manhattan to play with us. Getting everybody together is tough these days!
We set the date for this past Saturday, November 15th, just two days shy of her birthday.
My mom ordered her dress (something she really wanted to do - thank you Mom!), I planned a snacky food and drink menu, I picked up a few crafts at Joann's during the Veterans Day discount weekend (score!), and Jamie helped me clean the house in preparation to receive everybody.
One reason I love entertaining is because it makes us scrub our house. If I have people over once a week, my house gets super clean once a week. Makes sense to me! :)

Should I have ironed the table cloth? Oh well!
Look at those cupcakes! Made with lots of love. :)
So were the pretzels.
Basically everything I made was made with love. My food creations always seem to struggle in the presentation department. :)
I picked the theme "You are my sunshine" because that is her favorite song, and I'm not kidding.
I listened to the Elizabeth Mitchell version a lot while I was pregnant and missing Jamie, and we started playing and singing it for Hadley as soon as she was born. Every single time (and I do mean every single time) we play that song in the car, she gets quiet. Instantly. Many of you who have been in the car with us know well exactly what I'm talking about. I'm sorry for making you listen to it 88 times in a row.

And for you Hadley, your first birthday present will be snow.

Doesn't every one year old have a black eye on his/her birthday?

The party was relaxed and a good time to just hang with everybody. Our little extrovert, doesn't-know-a-stranger-EVER baby girl was definitely not herself and was pretty mope-y, but we initially chalked it up to her maybe being a little overwhelmed by the houseful. She didn't have much interest in opening her presents (she usually loves boxes and paper and tearing into everything), but she did love all of her presents once they were opened! Our family spoiled her with gifts that were equal parts thoughtful and generous. We were feeling the love.

I was bursting (!!!) to do the smash cake with Had because I was confident she was going to love it.
She didn't. She tried a few pieces here and there, and I was bummed out again! Shortly after, we took her temp and discovered she'd spiked a 102.6 fever (her highest fever to date). Awesome! Perfect timing! I felt so bad for her. Good thing your one year well-baby appointment (and shots!) is in three days, girlfriend.

She snuggled with me in the recliner under a heated blanket the rest of the afternoon/night before she crashed hard (obviously her snuggles were heaven). I also crashed hard around 9 p.m. (after announcing to everyone that I am, in fact, 85 and needed to put myself to bed), but I heard they all stayed up and laughed until midnight. We are thankful we have enough space in this house that both sets of parents and both of our brothers were able to stay here (we are really loving that basement I tell ya!).
Thank you to our families for making her day so special, and thank you to our best friends who loved on her from a distance with your gifts, video messages, text messages, etc. We love you so big!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Great Baby Shower Gifts that She Didn't Register For

I spent a lot of time researching for and creating my baby registry last summer. I was thankful that our loved ones were throwing us baby showers because I knew that our tiny little human was going to need quite a bit of "stuff" throughout her first year. I would guess that 75% of the gifts I received came straight off my registry, and I was so glad because that was the stuff I assumed I needed. The other 25% consisted of all kinds of things, many of which have turned out to be some of my favorite baby necessities or luxuries.

Since registries aren't made just for fun, I highly suggest always considering shopping from a registry first. If you are in the mood to add on something a little extra or have a little fun with your gift, consider one or more of the following. A soon-to-be mama in your life will be thanking you later!

1. Fun baskets - A couple friends "wrapped" their gifts in baskets that I could keep instead of gift bags, and they've both come in really handy! One basket keeps all of Hadley's stuffed animals, and the other stores all of her blankets. One friend even had it monogrammed to match her room! Throughout the last year, we've purchased two more baskets just to keep ons and ends in. Very practical gift! (We really like this one that we bought from Target.)

2. Freshly Picked Baby Moccasins - If I hadn't won a pair of these adorable shoes from a giveaway on Jessie's blog, I would have never discovered how absolutely, positively incredible they are. Though I would normally never spend $60+ on a pair of baby shoes since they grow out of them so fast, these shoes are worth every penny! I got Hadley these in a size three when she was wearing size three shoes. They fit perfectly! Fast forward a few months, and even though she's now wearing a size five, these baby mocs still fit her (with room to grow)! I cannot figure out how she's outgrown four other pairs of shoes since, but these still fit like a glove. It baffles me! Two more perks: They don't fall off her feet (ever) and she walks better in them than any other pair she's worn. Get them! (I'm so glad I got her a neutral pair).

3. Diaper Pail Refills - If a shower recipient is registered for and plans to use a diaper pail, grab a few inserts to throw in with your gift.  We go through about three inserts (give or take) per month, and even though these inserts aren't too pricey, they sure do add up on top of everything else disposable that babies need. We were gifted enough to last us the first couple of months, and it was so nice to just reach into the closet and grab a new one each time we needed it. I'm not sure why, but I really dislike buying these things. Just kind of a pain. The diaper pail is definitely a necessity for us, but the inserts are still a pest. (We are loyal to Target's off-brand.)

4. Wubbanub pacifier - Similar to #3, if it looks like the mama-to-be is going to be offering her babe a pacifier, gift her a Wubbanub. One of my girlfriends threw in the inchworm wubbanub with her gift, and we started offering it to Hadley when she was around three weeks old. She loved it so much that we went on Amazon and ordered two more! As she's grown, her reasons for loving it have changed. At first, she liked stroking it and feeling the different textures. Next, she liked that she could pick it up easily and put it in her mouth by herself.  The list goes on and on! We were going to take them away from her when she turned one (a couple days ago), but we just don't have the heart to do it yet. Great gift. (This one is still Hadley's BFF.)

5. Pampers Extra Protection overnight diapers - We've tried a few brands, and these are the best overnight diapers out there! They're a little hard to find, but they're such a great buy. Hadley has never had an overnight leak, and I give all the credit to these well-made diapers. New moms frequently receive diapers as gifts, but overnight diapers would be a real treat to many! (We always order ours from Amazon.)

6. Fun socks - Maybe I'm the only one, but we didn't start putting shoes on Hadley routinely until she was about seven months old. We didn't see a point since she wasn't standing. Since she didn't wear shoes much, we had fun putting all kinds of fun socks on her to match her outfits. I didn't register for any socks, so I'm glad that several of my thoughtful friends knew to throw some in their gifts! (I love this cute set with the bows.)

7. Non-slip Bath Mat - This one is pretty self-explanatory, so I don't know why I never thought to register for it. We started using one in Hadley's bathtub once we stopped using her baby tub. (This is a great gender neutral one.)

8. Stroller/Car seat archway toy - So I actually did register for this at the last minute after seeing someone else using one, and it definitely tops the list as one of the best baby gifts we received. We've never had issues with Hadley hating her car seat, and I give a lot of credit to the arch. It's mesmerized her from the first time we used it (about four weeks old), and we used it until it bit the dust around eight months in. The one pictured above folds up nicely and traveled with us in my suitcase each of the three times we flew with her. I didn't want to imagine driving around without it! (Here's the one we love!)

Happy gift giving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Stealing My Heart - Birthday Letter #2 (From Jamie to Hadley)

A letter to you on your first birthday from Dad


All my life I heard my parents explain how the love of a parent for a child cannot be explained. I never understood how a feeling couldn’t be expressed with words. I didn’t understand, until now. November 17, 2013 was a day that forever changed your mother and me, both as a man and a woman and as a married couple.

The lead-up to your arrival was so exciting. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was going to be a dad. Here I was just a kid myself and getting ready to have a little life depend on me and her mother! Any nervousness I had melted as soon as I heard your cry and saw your sweet little face. I remember hearing that scream and noticing how perfect you were. Your tiny nose (your mom’s), what would be your gorgeous blue eyes (your mom’s also), and your quivering lip (which you still do) captured every bit of my attention. I don’t know how long it took to clean you off, but I couldn’t stop looking at how beautiful you were! All I saw was a beautiful little angel that God had given to us.

Fast-forward a year later and I don’t know where the time has gone. You’ve experienced so much in your first year: a brutal winter, two moves, and traveling to more states that I can count. You’ve grown so much and continue to amaze us every single day. I love the moments your mom and I share with you, but I really enjoy the special things between us two: silly songs, the mirror dance, the banana dance, and of course, bath time! My favorite moment by far is hearing you belly laugh at me for the first time in Arizona. I’ve never seen such pure joy in my life!

It’s very true, the love a father has for his daughter is second to none. You are my special little girl Hadley-Boo. I know we’ll butt heads in the future and won’t always see eye-to-eye on everything, but nothing can replace the love this dad has for you. This is just one of many special days for you Hadley, so enjoy it; I know your mom and I will. Don’t be surprised if you catch me staring at you - your beauty continues to leave me speechless. Remember, no matter how much of a big girl you become, I will always remember that little baby girl staring back at me, holding my finger with her whole hand. Happy Birthday Little Blue Eyes. Daddy loves you so much.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

A First Birthday Letter to My First-Born

In my mind, today's post seems to carry so much more weight than most of my other posts because I know that someday my daughter will read it. My thought process is running a mile a minute, but I can't seem to get my fingers to type the "right" intro. I've known that I wanted to do a first birthday blog post for months, but I just don't know how to say all that I want to say.

Hadley Boo, I cannot believe how much I love you. I also cannot believe that writing that one sentence formed a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I can't believe that when I found out about you that I was scared. After 365 days of being your mom, I wish I could go back and shake the old me and tell that girl that she has nothing to be scared of but absolutely everything to look forward to.

You are so innocent, so perfect, so you. You have no idea how much power you hold. I find myself getting so lost in every inch of you that momentarily I'll forget about every problem, every stress, every agenda that I had just moments before.

Sometimes when I'm tickling you, I lock eyes with yours and think about how you are the very best thing your dad and I could have ever accomplished together. Though babies have been born for thousands of years, you still just seem like the biggest miracle to me.

Though I love watching you grow and learn daily, I'm really going to miss baby Hadley and the adventurous little human that you are. I know that one year old toddler Hadley is going to bring us a whole new set of adventures and memories to cherish, but I know that one year old you is going to be different than baby you.

I'm so (so so so so) excited to celebrate your first of (God-willing) many many many birthdays. I didn't realize until I became your mom what a big day a child's birthday is to a mom (and a dad). While you're admiring your cake and bright "1" candle and wondering why we're singing you a silly song, I'll be trying to wrap my head around where the last year of my life went. Your birth day was the single best day of my life. Seeing your quivering lip and hearing you holler at the top of your lungs was the single best moment of my life. I spent the first couple hours of your life in pure bliss. Bliss. As the doctors tried to explain to me what my body had just gone through to get you here, I was just staring at beautiful and perfect little you.

You've given your dad and I a wild 365 days. You've cried a lot of tears and you've laughed a lot of belly-laughs. I've cried a lot of tears and laughed a lot of belly-laughs. You've had some really good nights of sleep and even more not so great nights of sleep. Me too. And though what I'm about to say sounds cliché, I mean every single word. I'd do it all again a thousand times to experience the level of joy you've brought to me every day. I've never loved somebody as intensely as I love you.

Happy birthday little love! You are my dream come true.


Thanks for the link-up, The Not Quite Military Wife!