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!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Go Army and (Benjamin Moore's) Hale Navy

I have no idea who I am, but I love painting. I love it. I love how a can of paint and a little bit of time can completely transform a room and make it seem new again for very little money. I also really love how the mistakes and messes that I'm bound to make (often) are always easy fixes. I wouldn't say I'm a great painter or DIYer in general, but if you can't tell, I'm having a ball with this paint thing.

I've put nearly all my time and energy the last couple of months (have we seriously only been here two months?) into our three main living areas - the sunroom, kitchen, and living room/hallway - but this week I was feeling ready to dive into our finished basement.

Here's the area we've set aside as office space. I took this picture on move-in day.

Jamie loved having an office back in Tennessee before we turned it into Hadley's nursery, and he's been itching to have one again. He doesn't ask for much, so this is a room I really want to make great for him.

The built-in bookcase is one of my favorite features in this house because it's so unique. I've been brainstorming for months how to spruce up this room, particularly the bookcase. I knew that I wanted to paint the trim white and do some kind of accent color on the back of the bookcase walls, but I didn't have any firm ideas in mind. I finally found this inspiration picture last week and had shoes on ready to go to Home Depot to get my supplies within minutes.

I've been seriously crushing on the color navy lately, so I picked up a gallon on Benjamin Moore's Hale Navy (color-matched for Glidden paint) in a semi-gloss finish. For the trim and face of the bookcase, I used a high gloss pure white paint, and for the interior I used a pure white with a satin finish.

The navy only took one coat, but the white areas took three coats. The wood was untreated and soaked the paint right up.

As usual, I did the edges with my favorite Purdy brush (see previous paint posts for info) and rolled the rest with a small roller. I gave each coat about three hours to dry before applying the next.

My last step was touching up the navy areas that I accidentally hit with the white paint.

The room already feels so much more updated and inviting!

Next up is finishing the trim and painting the walls. Goal = by December 1st. Hadley's birthday and Thanksgiving festivities are about to take the front seat! Oh my gosh I'm going to have a one year old! Squeal.

Finally, if you follow me on facebook or instagram, you might have seen my thrift store desk re-do.

That's the power of paint!

It's also finished in Hale Navy, and I'll have a post up in a few days with details of just how dang easy this re-do was. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween Weekend Fun

Our Halloween weekend was the perfect combo of relaxing and fun! I've said this a million times, but having Hadley around has made silly little holidays and special events so much more fun!
Our Halloween morning started bright and early when our alarms went off at 5:30. We got ready, packed up Hadley's things, got her up and ready, and were over at my sister and brother-in-law's house by 7:15 to drop her off. Once we got her settled in with them, Jamie and I head to Fort Riley's hospital so that he could have a minor surgery done. He'd been having significant ear pain ever since we moved to Arizona (Maybe it's the 4700 ft altitude? Climate change? we thought.) that two doctors there brushed off. When we got to Riley, he made an appointment with an ENT who wanted him in to surgery immediately to take care of what he viewed as some potentially significant future problems.
We were super pleased with how efficient their Army hospital was! We arrived by 8:15 and were out of there by 1 p.m. He got his ear situation taken care of while I enjoyed a quiet morning in the waiting room with my book.
We strolled out of there with a good report for Jamie and were ready to enjoy the evening's festivities!
Around 4, Jamie's mom showed up with dinner and to see Hadley in her costume. Hadley was happy to try some of Miya's cooking for the first time!

Around 5:30, we suited up our blonde child and our redhead child in their bumble bee costumes! I saw these costumes at Marshalls a couple months ago, thought they were cute, and scooped them up! I've never been one to dwell too much on costumes. Something cheap and easy is a winner in my book!


We planned on putting her in the wagon and just walking up and down the street a few times, but Jamie got excited and wanted to go to a few houses. He obviously didn't have to twist my arm. :)

We went around to a few houses for about 45 minutes. We let Miss Independent climb all of the stairs herself, ring the doorbells, and pick out a piece of candy if she wanted. We were quick to let our neighbors know that we really only had our 11 month old out trick-or-treating so that we could meet them! It was fun.

Right before we went to our last house, Jamie's dad showed up. He works at Fort Leavenworth (about 2.5 hours away), but since he got off a little early he decided to drive straight over and see Hadley. When he came walking up, we told Hadley that Papaw dressed like Daddy for Halloween. :)

When we came back in, Hadley was excited to facetime with my parents for a little while before she went to bed. She crashed hard! Jamie's throat was starting to hurt from the surgery after she went to bed, so he was more than ready to relax! I ran to a little grown up Halloween shindig on the next street over for about an hour before coming home and crashing hard myself. Fun day!

Saturday morning was glorious simply because nobody got out of their pajamas until around 2 when we got ready to head down the street to a KSU vs. OSU tailgate. We haven't had a morning just to veg like that in f o r e v e r. We had a blast at the tailgate and enjoyed the company of new friends. Hadley was cracking us up with her interest in the cornhole boards. She also loved eating her first hotdog! We headed home shortly before the game started to de-thaw, put Had to bed, and catch the evening games.


On Sunday, we were up by 6 because the time change is a joke to babies. ;) We went to the 9:45 service at church (we think we found our new church home - finally!), and enjoyed another day of cleaning up around the house and relaxing.

After two months of living here, Manhattan is starting to feel like (dare I say) home every day. Though my heart's in my hometown in Alabama, Kansas really isn't so bad. :)