I try to keep my posts light and non-controversial in order to maintain a wide range of readers. I think I usually do a good job with it, too. So let me (not) apologize in advance for this post perhaps being a little controversial, but definitely very personal and real.
Mommy-Guilt. It’s real. And it sucks. As a parent all we want to do is provide the best for our children. We want them to get the best start in life. We want them to be the healthiest they can be. We want them to grow and thrive and surpass all growth expectations and be at the top of the charts. And for a lot of us, we want to be the ones that provide that for them. We want to be the reason they’re gaining weight and growing on-track. We want to provide them with all of their food & nutrients that their tiny little bodies need. And when we cannot do that? Yeah, that’s when the mommy-guilt kicks in. And man does it. Like a million kicks right to the stomach. For any mom who has even remotely felt that guilt, you get it. For the mommies who have been so fortunate to not feel it, count your blessings.
It’s a good thing that birthday celebrations are just once a year because I am always left completely exhausted by them! Given, that’s likely because I do way too much for them… but oh well! I love throwing their parties. I have had so much picking the themes and making decorations, favors, food, etc for all of them so far and since I know I only have a couple of years left before they start telling me what they want for their parties I am totally going all out when I can. Plus, I am an Event Planner by day. I mean, what do you expect?
Poppy the Birthday Girl!Living in California, the Bay Area to be more specific, the weather tends to be nice however sometimes unpredictable in the early Spring. This year was no exception. We had been having fine weather - overcast maybe a bit chilly, but minimal rain. I planned for Poppy's 3rd birthday party to be outside in our backyard because the entire week before the weather forecast promised a 25% chance of rain. Well. 25% was all we needed, apparently! I had set up the whole party; everything was good to go outside, than the rain started. At first it was drizzling. Than it was a downpour. Clearly this rain put a huge damper on all of the cute activities I had planned for outside. Not to mention, I didn't get a ton of pictures of the decor/activities or even of the birthday girl because she was running around in our super-packed little house! Stupid, Stupid rain! On a more positive note, the kids still had fun running around and playing in the house and thank goodness for the big playroom upstairs so that the 30 kids (and adults) could be some-what dispersed throughout the house. As I have said for every other birthday party I have blogged about, I like to keep the themes gender-neutral while I can. Pretty soon the kids will be (likely) asking for specific birthday party themes so while I get to choose, it will be a theme that works for both their boy and their girl friends. For Poppy's 3rd Birthday party we went with a "Cowboy & Cowgirl" theme because Poppy just loved seeing Jessie the Cowgirl at Disneyland! Here are some of the shots I was able to get of the party & the details about them... One of the outside activities was "Horse Wranglin" where I had a wooden rocking horse and a stack of hula-hoops and the kids could try to get the hula-hoop around the horse. A few kids were able to play when the weather cleared up for a little bit, thankfully! I hand-painted Jessie & Woody cut-outs from 4' tall standing cardboard as a photo-op for the kids... here is the Birthday Girl posing as Jessie! I didn't get any shots of Woody, sadly :-( But I still have both of them - in case anyone wants them ;-) I love getting the kids into the party theme so I had a galvanized bucket with handkerchiefs, cowboy hats, and Sheriff badges for the kids to grab and dress up with! For the inside decor, we kept with the blue (denim), red, yellow, and cow print themed decor. I know I sound like a broken record, but I do a lot of Amazon & Oriental Trading shopping for parties. Their prices are truly unbeatable. Between the two places I found almost all of the decor. Some of it I got from the Dollar Tree (who doesn't love it there?!) And some I made or had custom-made on Etsy. For my entry table - which is seen straight ahead when walking in the front door - I made a fabric-scrap banner with the theme colors/patterns and hung it from the front. A plastic cow print table cover lined the top of it, and then I scattered small bales of hay & small galvanized buckets to help create the high-low affect and be utilized for various stuff. One of the buckets was filled with small plush horses as a favor for the little babies/young kids who came while the other bucket was filled with small drawstring linen bags that had either Jessie or Woody on the front and I filled them with a "S'mores trail mix" which consisted of Honey Graham cereal, mini marshmallows, and mini milk chocolate chips all mixed together. Delicious! I called it "Pony Food". The balloons are all from Amazon. This balloon was so darn cute and both the kids loved it so we kept it up for at least 2 months afterwards! The Jessie, Woody, and Bullseye signs were custom-made by a seller on Etsy. I had small glass milk jugs (the Starbucks coffee ones that you can buy at any grocery store) with random mixes of garden flowers. The Happy Birthday banner was made out of card-stock paper from Michael's in the party theme colors/patterns and made on the Cricut by my sister. So, this is a bad picture. Sorry. But even if it were a good picture, it didn't turn out very well. I saw it on Pinterest and tried to recreate it and this, my friends, is one of those Pinterest Fails. It is supposed to look like Jessie's hair, and hat... Well, I totally admit, it didn't turn out anything like the one I saw. Oh well! On the other hand, this super cute wreath turned out adorable! I bought a straw wreath from Michael's and then proceeded to give my mom the task of making it a cute themed wreath. She used the left-over fabric from the fabric-scrap banner I made and just wrapped it around the wreath and then added some wide burlap ribbon that she tied into a bow with a Jessie and Bullseye doll tied onto it. What is really cool about it is that I was able to undo it all very easily and can use the plain wreath again for something else! FOOD!!! Keeping in the Western theme, we made life easy and got fried chicken & BBQ chicken, along with cole slaw and french fries. I also had a fruit salad and my favorite super delicious Corn, Avocado & Jalapeno salad which was mostly for adults due to the heat-level! Oh, and a side-note - there is Woody in the background! As you can see, they were brought inside due to the damn rain! We set up tables outside with milk crate for the kids to sit on which was the perfect height. Now, the favors! Yet another one of my "WHY OH WHY DID I DECIDE TO DO THIS??" Favors. I decided to make the sock ponies for all of the kids. Never. Again. Ha! IT was super cheap to make but, again, time-consuming. They turned out cute and were a huge hit - I tell myself that is all that matters in the end. And last but certainly not least in importance - the desserts. Probably Poppy's favorite part - but then again, she is 3 and what 3-year-old doesn't love dessert? Poppy's favorite were the Cowgirl cookies. She doesn't eat cake or cupcakes (just the frosting) so the cookies were a huge hit. She may have eaten two of them. In 5 minutes. But who's counting, right!? My favorite were the pie pops. I will not disclose how many of those I ate... Everything turned out SO cute! The pie pops were in 3 fruit flavors, we also had cake pops in a few flavors that were decorated to match the theme, Cowgirl cookies, red licorice, kettle corn in the brown paper bags (as shown in bottom left of the photo), and Poppy's super adorable Jessie cake! Here are some miscellaneous shots from the day including Hudson wearing his Woody outfit - SO cute!
Poppy & her favorite Tia Patrice!
Hudson loved the pie pops and used his beautiful blue eyes to get the ladies to share with him!
Poppy enjoying handfuls of popcorn... not gracefully!
My sassy Woody!
Baby Woody & I
Poppy & I!
Happy VERY-Belated Birthday, Poppy Ireland!!!!!
It's still hard for me to believe Poppy turned 2. What's even harder to believe is that her birthday was already 6+ months ago. So not only is she even older, but my word, am I behind on getting this post up. I've just been so busy with the kids and trying to get my house finished up and many other things, like the hubby's 30th birthday party, planning Hudson's 1st Birthday, going back to work - and the list of things that consume most of my productive free-time goes on and on. But regardless of when Poppy's 2nd birthday party was, it was awesome! I chose a construction theme because our house was finishing up being remodeled but not complete yet so I thought it would be a cute play on the current state of affairs for our home, but also because my dad is a contractor and he and his crew did our remodel and Poppy LOVED all of the tools and helping my dad. It was really cute, actually, how she always wanted to help use the hammer or screw driver or anything that he would let her have. She was the 4th crew member he never hired. And while I can still pick the theme of their parties, I prefer going with gender-neutral parties because they have both boy & girl friends and because I am just not one to push the typical gender-based things on kids (re: Barbie, pink, princesses, sports, blue, etc.). For this party a lot of the decorations were fairly cheap because I was able to get it for free from Home Depot, already had things in my toolbox (or my dads work-shed!), or I was able to return to Home Depot afterwards. Maybe that sounds bad, but, my dad is well-known at our local store so they didn't mind! I made all of the signs on my cricut, cut them from black card-stock and then glued them onto shimmery yellow card-stock. The signs were for decoration but also for labeling/signage for the food. I tried to get creative in the wording describing food and making it construction-related. Things like "drill bits" for macaroni & cheese, "mixed cement" for the potato salad (which did NOT taste like mixed cement!), "nuts & bolts" for the fruit salad, and desserts were "Sledgehammers" (marshmallows on a pretzel stick), and "Wrecking Balls" which were the chocolate cake-pops. I also did "Cone Zone" which were cupcakes baked into ice cream cones, dipped in orange candy-coating, than stuck to an orange-candy-coated graham cracker to look like construction cones! "Tools" labeled the individual sets of utensils, too.
I hung up a bunch of other signs that I made through out the house/yard and I also used real signs that I was able to borrow from the City of Moraga thanks to some connections!
I used our kitchen table for the desserts. I used things around the house for props/decorations like a canvas tool bag, a saw storage box, and paint trays. My dad loaned me old blue-prints which I used on top of the table over a black plastic table-cloth. I stocked up on paint chip cards from Home Depot and threw them around the table for color & decor, too. Some of the desserts included "paint brushes" by dipping rice krispies in different colored candy-melts and putting a stick in them and displaying them in a paint tray. The "sledgehammers" were marshmallows dipped in chocolate with a pretzel stick, piled into the back of a plastic dump truck. The "wrecking ball" cakepops were poked into Styrofoam and displayed in the back of a dump truck, too. The "construction cones" cupcakes were strewn around the table for effect. I used the canvas tool bag for the construction themed cookies & had real tools in the pockets for effect. I did a candy buffet, also, and hung a sign that said "Fill Your Bucket". I displayed the big clear plastic paint buckets from Michael's & Jo-Anns with the candy in them. I made paint brushes on my Cricut and made each paint bucket a certain color (red, purple, yellow, pink, orange, green, and blue). I filled the buckets with the matching color shred & then filled it with the candy. I stacked them on the Diwalt saw case for height and accessibility. The buckets the kids (and adults!) filled were small clear paint buckets which I stacked up on our big ladder and stuck it in the corner.For the seating for lunch I used big (full) paint buckets on the ground with banquet tables (folded) resting on top of them. This was great because they were low for the kids and the perfect height for the Home Depot orange buckets that I used for seats for each of the kids. I covered the tables with black plastic table cloths and threw some paint chips on them for color. Each child had a place setting and a construction cone cup.
To continue the theme I got Home Depot canvas aprons & Home Depot pins for each child and set them on a table along with a plastic yellow hard-hat for them. To display them I used 2 of my dads saw-horses and put a large piece of plywood on top. I set out the uniforms and then scattered various tools among it - without the batteries in the power-operated tools! *Safety First*
Here are some additional shots of the DIY details:
As much fun as I had planning for her party and playing along with the theme, I wanted this party to be fun for the kids but also benefit needy children, also. So, for Poppy's 2nd Birthday there was not a thing that she needed and there was nothing that I wanted her to receive, either. So I decided that in-lieu of gifts, we would request that each guest bring a donation for the Project Night Night Foundation. I am a huge advocate of reading and Poppy just loves her books, blankets, and favorite piggy so this organization was the perfect fit. They provide a book, blanket, and lovie per child for children who are homeless. I requested that each guest brought one or all of the 3 items. We have amazing friends because they all brought donations and most brought multiple donations. The following Monday I proudly took all of the donations to the local drop-off location in San Francisco. I loved this idea and I will definitely do it for future parties, also. I want my children to enjoy celebrating their birthdays with friends and do it to have fun and not for the presents that they might receive. My children are very fortunate that they have all they could need/want right now and they don't need any more 'stuff'. As they get older I will include them in the charity-picking for their parties, but, for the next few ones I will continue to donate to Project Night Night!
All in all, the party was a great success. Poppy had a blast, her little friends had fun, and even the adults had a good time! & most importantly, over 30 homeless children received blankets, books, and stuffed animals thanks to our very generous and loving friends and family!
Thanks for checking out her party!
He's here! He's finally here! My sweet baby boy, Hudson Maverick, finally arrived after 16 hours of labor on November 1st weighing in at 7lbs 4oz & 19" long. And, he is beyond perfect. My labor & delivery was just as perfect. Perfect for me. Every mama has their birth-story and though mine is no more special than anyone else, my story is a story of determination & success that I hope to inspire other moms with. Hudson was born though a successful VBAC - vaginal birth after cesarean section. For those who are unfamiliar with VBACs, I'll give you some brief information... The national success rate for VBAC's is in the low 70%. There is no one factor that may make someone a candidate or not. There are contributing factors for one's success - or unsuccessful attempt - and those vary per mom, doctor, and situation. And, there are risks involved, too. The biggest risk is a possible uterine rupture. Scary, I know. I want to make sure that I am clear in one thing moving forward; I am not here to tell someone whether or not they are a candidate or whether or not they should make the decision to attempt a VBAC; those are decisions for you and your doctor. I just want to tell my story as I am a big advocate of them and now, as a success story. I knew the moment I heard the words "...This isn't going to work. You're going to need a C-Section..." when in labor with my daughter, Poppy, that my next baby would NOT be born via c-section, also. Yes. While in labor - an unsuccessful one at that - I was thinking about more babies already. I am crazy. I know. Poppy was finally delivered via emergency c-section after 12 hours of labor & 2 hours of pushing. She was sunny-side-up (face-up) and got stuck on my pelvic bone and would not budge. After 2-hours of pushing I heard the dreaded words. I sobbed and sobbed, and sobbed some more. I remember the moment my eyes met my husbands and we both had the same look of sadness & disappointment. This was not what we expected. This was not what I wanted. Sadly, there was no other option. She had to get out and she was not coming out vaginally. I pleaded relentlessly to let me try pushing more but ultimately, her health & safety was most important. I cried the entire duration of the surgery. I cried during my recovery. And I cried for a couple of days after. My tears were mixed with so many emotions; joy for my beautiful healthy daughter, sadness for the unsuccessful birth I had planned, disappointment in myself, and fear that this would mean all of my babies would have to be born via c-section. And, to add salt to the wound, I recall my OBGYN performing my surgery and saying "once a c-section, always a c-section". Good-timing, doc. I had a perfect pregnancy with her and I wanted a 'perfect' birth, too. The emergency c-section was not what I considered perfect. Don't get me wrong; there is NOTHING wrong with having a c-section. It was just not what I wanted for myself. From the birth of Poppy forward I researched & read about Vbac's on a regular basis. I made it very clear to all of those around me that I was determined to have my next baby naturally. And determination is all it takes for me. The moment that I found out I was pregnant again (exactly 12 months later) I sought out a new OBGYN who came highly recommended because of his success rate at Vbacs. If I was going to do this I needed all of the help & support I could get and the right doctor was just the start. Upon meeting with the doctor he assured me that if he felt I was a good candidate he would do whatever it took to help me make this happen. I liked that attitude. I needed that attitude. I am a "make-it-happen" kind of girl and this instance was no exception. Unfortunately, I never got a strong feeling that he felt I was a good candidate. He never came out and said one way or another and kept telling me "We have to wait and see". That, I did not like. I am a planner. I am organized. I am a Type-A personality border-line control-freak. I needed to know that I WAS a candidate. I needed to hear that YES, I would be able to try to push this baby out (operative word being try). And, I never got that from him. I was quickly approaching the full-term mark and was really really needing to have a plan intact for this birth. Finally, I got the plan; we'd do a sonogram at the next appointment and if the baby were face-up, I'd have a scheduled c-section and if he were face-down, I'd be induced to attempt a natural childbirth. That sonogram was 1 week away. Never in my life did 1 week seem like it was so far away! But, I never made it to that sonogram appointment. I went into labor the next day at 38 weeks. Going into labor was pretty different this time around. My contractions started around 6pm on Halloween and though they were bearable and inconsistent at that point they slowly became less bearable and more-consistent as the evening passed. I was unsure if this was "true labor" as I never did the whole timing-of-contractions with Poppy. With her, my water broke at midnight and that was a pretty easy and clear sign I was in labor and had to go to the hospital. This time I was using an app on my phone to time my contractions as I sat in bed next to my husband whom I am certain thought I was just over-reacting. Finally around 9:45 I just knew this was real labor and I called my doctor and found out he was out-of-town. The doctor that I sought-out, pulled strings to get into his office, and 'needed' for my successful vbac was out-of-town. Dude. What are the odds? The on-call doctor was a bit wacky and told me that despite my minute-long contractions every 6 minutes for a couple of hours, I should go shower and go to sleep. Are you kidding me??? I hung up. I sat on my bed. In pain. Counting & timing contractions. And cursing this wacky doctor whom I was certain had one-too-many Halloween cocktails. Sidenote; it ends up this doctor wasn't drunk but apparently isn't someone you want to wake-up in the middle of the night and carry on a conversation with. Cut to an hour later. I called the doctor back. I told him that the pain intensified and timing increased. I was going in. He finally agreed - albeit reluctantly. As a matter of fact, my husband also seemed reluctant to take me! He says I have really bad timing when I go into labor before my due-dates because it never coincides with a good time for work. I think I told him something in response to this...but I'll keep this PG =) Once at the hospital they hooked me up to all of the monitors & checked me. Such a pleasant experience. I hadn't made any progress since my last doctors appointment; 3cm dilated & 75& effaced. The same since 36 weeks. I was now at 38 weeks. The on-call doctor gave them instructions to have me walk around for an hour to see if I progressed at all because he did not want to admit me since I was not in "true-labor". So, we walked. Lap after lap around the labor and delivery ward. They checked me again; minimal progress. I was told to rest for 30 minutes than walk around for another 45. Did that. Progressed .5 centimeter. Still not getting admitted. This doctor was quickly becoming my least-favorite person. Finally, God had mercy on me & my water broke. 3.5 hours after arriving at the hospital, I was finally admitted. After my water broke the contractions quickly intensified. And holy hell, did they. I was having back labor again - which almost always indicates a face-up baby. I was panicked. No, No, NO. I cannot have another face-up baby, dammit! I finally gave in and got an epidural around 6am when the contractions were just no longer bearable. The first attempt at my epidural didn't take so they had to remove it and do it again. Fun times. I kept letting the epidural wear off because I was so afraid that I wouldn't be able to feel anything while trying to push Hudson out and that it would impair my ability to do it. The nurses kept telling to me to up the epidural so that it would save me the energy and pain. I kept giving in to their advice. I was very fortunate that I didn't need any pitocin because I was progressing on my own. Finally around 1pm they said I was ready to start pushing. By this point, I had let my epidural start wearing off again. I had to push for almost an hour while laying on my right side because he was turned sideways and the doctor said that it would help him rotate to be fully face-down. The doctors that were there to help me were SO supportive and kept telling me "we're going to do whatever it takes to make this happen for you". It was amazing. So, if they said to push while standing on my head, I would have done it. So, after pushing on my side for almost an hour, I was able to rest for about 45 minutes. Than, I was able to get back into position and the real pushing began. My epidural had almost completely worn off by this point and I was able to feel everything. I was good with the pushing the first 45 minutes. After that, I was losing steam quickly. The pain was pretty bad, the pressure was awful, and my desire to get the baby out and be done with this was intense. I had my husband, sister, and mom all in the room with me and they were the perfect supportive team I needed. My husband knew how badly I wanted this and knew the perfect things to say to push me further and further to do this. I needed his support and encouragement the most. I swear it's what got me through the times that I just wanted to stop and give up. The nurses were awesome, too. They supported and encouraged me - a complete stranger - as though I was their own daughter. I had quite the team with me. I kept pushing. Pushing myself to go on and Pushing this baby out. It was finally time to call the doctors in. My OBGYN came in along with a team from the NICU for Hudson. I had developed a very high fever and infection while in labor which put the baby at risk. So he had his own team coming in just for him. The doctor finally came in and was putting his covers on and taking his sweet 'ol time. When a woman is in pain and trying to push a baby out the last thing you should do is act totally nonchalant. At one point the doctor, standing casually between my legs not doing anything as I am pushing like crazy, asked a nurse for shoe-covers. I about lost it. I actually said to him "Dude, we don't have time for shoe covers!" He laughed and said "Ok, I'm just waiting for you". I definitely responded but I don't recall what exactly I said. 4 pushes later (almost 2 hours of pushing altogether) and I hear my husband say "Oh my god! You did it! He's out! You did it!". I don't think it really registered until they held the baby up and I saw him for the first time. I did it. I really did it. I was in shock. It was such a surreal moment. Our baby boy, Hudson Maverick, was born! My husband was crying, my mom & sister were crying, lord knows I was a sobbing mess. All, with tears of joy. To this day, it still seems unreal to me. Hudson quickly got whisked off and taken to the NICU to run some tests and start his antibiotics. He had to stay there for 6 hours but we were able to visit him. He was perfectly healthy, thank God. The doctor got me all cleaned up and comfortable and I was able to rest a bit and hang out with everyone before getting transferred to my room. The recovery was quick, easy, and relatively painless. I wasn't in a room by myself like last time. I wasn't shaking uncontrollably like last time. And, I wasn't sobbing like last time. What a contrast. I was so proud of myself. I was so excited. I was so happy. I was happy that I was successful, I was happy that I had such a great team helping me along, and I was so excited that my recovery was going to be great and make life with a newborn and a 20-month old so much easier. And so happy for my baby & my little family. My experience wasn't perfect. But the ending was. And that is what matters. Our sweet Poppy Ireland came the next day to meet her baby brother, Hudson, and my heart truly melted. I am such a lucky mommy. I have 2 beautiful & healthy babies. I have a husband who supports me and loves me no matter how crazy I am. And the cherry on top; I got the birth that I wanted this time. Life is amazing. xo ER
I cannot believe it. I don't want to believe it. But, it is true; my baby girl is just a few days shy of being ONE! I look at her on a daily basis and think "How did we get here?". It is quite extraordinary to carry a baby for 40 weeks (in my case, 36) and welcome this itty-bitty perfectly innocent little being into the world and watch them grow and thrive on a daily basis. It makes me teary-eyed just thinking about it. Poppy Ireland you have exceeded any and all expectations I could ever have for a child. For MY child. Although you may not resemble me appearance wise (yet), you definitely have a few of my personality traits... thankfully the better ones ;-) You are perfectly independent, stubborn, feisty, loving, and incredibly determined. And totally fearless. And I couldn't have asked for better qualities in you so far. You also have a great goofy side which I attribute to your daddas tendency to be a [grown] child! You are happy. And smiley. And, of course, a dog lover. & I eagerly await to see what the future holds for you! No matter what you choose for your life & which paths you want to take, I will be here to help guide you and support you all of the way through. I Love You & wish you the happiest 1st Birthday, Ever! Your [unrelated] Auntie Amanda, from the lovely Amanda Rachelle Photography, did yet another photo shoot for you for your 1st Birthday. You are ADORABLE. And I am IN LOVE with our photos!!! I cannot wait to share them with you as you get older. I must share with you! [slideshow]