Vada’s 1st Birthday Party – The Apple Of My Eye

Vada turned one year old on the 12th of November. In truly crazy-mom behavior I had already picked a theme back in July for her first birthday party, I had plans to go ALL OUT. Some people might think it’s a little crazy to throw a big birthday party for a one year, saying things like “she wont even remember it!” but I will! This party was totally for me! It was a reason to celebrate our first year of parenthood, and a blatant excuse for me to throw a party. I’m not getting married again, and the bridal/baby showers are dwindling down, so I take any excuse I can get to plan a party.

I went with an Apple theme, as Vada’s birthday is in the fall, and I felt like I could really do a lot with it. Have you read The Alison Shows How To Plan A Party Regardless OF BUDGET? It’s so good you guys! And so helpful! It asks things like “Do you even like to plan a party?” because if not, don’t! It also was really helpful in helping me think of the flow and overall purpose of our party. We invited a lot of people (about 40 including children) and good number of them showed up! We had kind of a short time frame, I only had about 2 hours for the actual party in the space I rented (time at the beginning to set up and time at the end to clean up) but this was plenty of time for greetings, food, cake, craft, presents, goodbyes. I think the kids and parents all had a really great time too, I know Vada did!

I wanted to share some photos and tips for planning your own apple-themed party!

family vbday2For the invitations I designed this quick little ditty using free images and fonts off the internet. Because I wasn’t selling it, and just using it for personal use, there are so many good free files. I kept the info short and sweet, but made sure to tell people there would be food and drinks. I also didn’t bother with an RSVP because people NEVER do it. Lastly we went ahead and let people bring Vada gifts, despite not really needing a lot. Have you read this funny article on kid’s birthday presents at parties? A good read. I decided to actually mail invites instead of e-vites or FB invites, as I think its more reliable. I had my invitations printed as a 5×7 photo at Costco because its mad-cheap folks! Costco is bomb for photo printing. The little silhouette is Vada’s face too!

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 2.16.06 PMI started planning this party a couple of months ago for a few reasons. 1. I have a baby now and getting stuff done is so hard, especially crafty stuff. Vada loves to get into ribbon and paper and tape, so crafting with her is nearly impossible. I did most of the little projects after she went to bed so I wouldn’t be frustrated and my projects wouldn’t get destroyed. 2. I was working on a very limited budget, so I paced my purchases over a few months so it didn’t feel like such a hit. No matter what, a party is expensive. I made 90% of the decorations myself (Mr. Gaunt made me those big apple trees!), and a lot of the items were purchased at thrift stores too. A few splurges were the apple Oil Cloth for the tables, which I only bought because we determined we could re-use it at our restaurant. The other splurge was obviously hiring a professional photographer. This was really important to me for a million reasons, and I do not regret a single penny spent on it. I booked her early so that I could pay it off over a few months, which made it feel less impacting too. On the day-of it was so awesome not having to even think about taking photos, and then a week later getting over 400 photos to relive the day! Vada might not remember it, but she will at least be able to look back and see all the fun we had. If you can swing it, and you like to put a lot of work into a party, I can not recommend enough hiring a professional photographer (photogrpahers info at the bottom of this post).

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decor vbday2For food we decided to go with kids food that adults would also enjoy. I wanted it to be fairly healthy, not just candy everywhere. Because the party was at 2:30 I didn’t feel like we had to do a full meal, just lots of snacks. We went with string cheese, Baby Bell cheese, pretzels, oranges, fruit leather, Veggie-humus cups, apple-peanut butter cups, ham and cream cheese pretzel sliders and apple straws. I also made a few sweet things too, because it IS a party. I made rice krispie treats shaped like apples (with royal icing piped on for detail), as well as healthy (no sugar, just a little honey) banana-apple muffins with cream cheese/honey frosting (also what Vada’s cake was). My friend made vegan/raw/sugar-free caramel apple pops too that were soooo good! It was just really important to me that all of our friends could feel ok about what their kids were eating, and the kids could still have fun. I run my mouth a lot about kids health food, so I didn’t want to be a complete hypocrite.  For drinks we made an adult apple sangria, plus we had apple beer, bottled water, kids apple juices in cute mason jars, and Apple Dry Soda. It was all very cute.

food bday1 food vbday2 food vbday3I wanted to have an activity/craft at the party in case things got boring (ha! they didn’t) something that older kids and parents could do if they wanted. I ended up purchasing some inexpensive canvas tote bags, put a piece of parchment paper inside each one (to prevent bleed-through) and set up apple stamping. It actually turned out really adorable, and kids over 3 were able to do it with a little parental help. The tote bags came out so cute too!

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Most of the projects were handmade by me, or from thrift stores, but here are a few resources links from the party:

-Photography: Katheryn Moran Photography

- Canvas Bags

-Venue: Fairhaven Library Fireplace Room

-DIY Party Hat Template

-Plates, Napkins, Cups, Favor Bags, Honey Comb Balls: All from Target’s Spritz line.

-Mason Jars, Daisy Mason Jar Lids.

-Mod Apple Oil Cloth

-Custom Confetti

-Catering: Leaf And Ladle

Raising Vada: Our First Trip Around The Sun

gg5My sweetest (spoiler: she’s not that sweet) babe turned ONE YEAR OLD on the 12th! A year ago I was giving birth to a huge-o baby, spending hours and hours on my coach learning to breastfeed, soaking in all those newborn smells of joy and fear and wonder. Oh how times have changed. Now my big girl is leaping off the couch and trotting around like a crazy girl, talking about babies, and papas and sisters (her cat). She’s pushing her toy shopping cart around, swimming under water, and hosting her first party like a pro.

Here’s what 12 months is looking like in our world:

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The End Of Nursing:

Around 11 months, Vada weaned herself. She just plain old stopped caring, and never made attempts to nurse again. Our 11 months of nursing were NOT like I had planned. They weren’t easy, they weren’t that enjoyable, and they were anything but perfect. The start of nursing was fine, painful but fine. Vada had a good latch, and although it was more time-consuming than I had thought it would be, we got the hang of it. Around 3 months I felt a drop in my supply, but was told by breast-feeding advocates that this was just my supply evening out. By 4 months Vada was thin and angry. I had two lactation consultants come to my house and tell me that she hadn’t gained any weight in a month, and that she was “failure to thrive” ugh. We spent about a month pumping, taking supplements, drinking water, nursing around the clock and supplementing with formula via an SNS tube. It was hell and it made no difference in my supply. by 5 months I threw all the pumps away, swallowed my pride and began a formula schedule of 4 bottles a day, plus nursing when she wanted. It worked great, Vada gained weight and was happy as a clam. I however felt sad and hurt and robbed of this magical breastfeeding process. Why did this happen to me? I tried so hard! I was so on board! All those stupid Le Leche women acted like if I tried hard enough it would work for me! WHY DIDNT IT WORK FOR ME!? It took me 10 months before I let the anger and guilt wash away, before I felt ok with our situation, ok with how things turned out. If we have another baby I’m going to give it another shot, to start fresh and hope for a better turnout, but I won’t be nearly as let down as I was this time around. I will say that there were a lot of really great things about feeding Vada formula, and I think that mothers who formula feed should feel good about those good things. The fact that Mr. Gaunt could feed Vada, or my mom, or her nanny, that was wonderful! When she was older Vada fed herself, even in the car she could hold her own bottle, or she wander around the kitchen while I washed morning dishes holding her bottle.  NO PUMPING! Weaning her from the breast was no big deal, I didn’t even do anything, I would have been happy to let her continue her (by then once a day) feeding for a few more months, I had no plans to take it away, but she just didn’t care about it anymore. Formula also probably was a huge contributing factor to Vada sleeping through the night by 5 months. Being able to give her 6 oz right before bed kept her belly full from 7pm-7am, and lordy that is nice. So I’m glad that she is healthy, and happy, and perfect, and I’m glad that I tried and managed to give her at least some breast milk for as long as I did despite our struggles. Hooray to all moms that keep their baby bellies full.

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My little Fish and Other Activities:

We have now completed our 3rd session of swim lessons at the local pool, and we have hit a major milestone in Vada’s swimming abilities (we started at 6 months old). Now when we count 1,2,3 Vada plunges her own head underwater and kicks her feet and arms and can swim about 3-5 feet underwater. ITS AMAZING! She will also on the count of three jump off the side of the pool and swim to you (again about 3-5 feet). She is such a good swimmer. Her teacher was absolutely amazed at her skills and has encouraged us to push her limits with distance. We hope to regularly keep her swimming to she gets more and more comfortable with swimming. Id love for her to be swimming on her own (like being able to stay afloat) by next summer. We also did a music class this fall, it’s been fun, but not amazing. We won’t do another session, as it just isn’t quite are style. To be honest I HATE The Itsy Bitsy Spider, that song is so stupid, and I refuse to sing it or do them dumb hand signs. Really I hate all kids music, cant we just play Vada the kind of music we like? Cant we teach her how to drum or play the piano, or dance hip hop? Toddler music is a bit too cheesy for me. I feel this way about library story time too, and to be honest, I think Vada thinks it’s lame too. She’d much rather run around the restaurant chatting with the customers, or play outside, or do toddler indoor gym time, and I’m cool with that. Those baby-baby activities just aren’t for us. We are thinking about trying out a toddler gymnastics class soon, which I think Vada would really like. It’s a slippery slope of signing up for too many activities though, I like to keep busy, but I also like to be able to do last-minute play dates too, and sometimes just quiet dinners at home without a bunch of stuff going on is really nice.

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Kind Actions:

This might sound odd, but as Vada has gotten older, and smarter, I have found it easier to be kind and patient with her. When she was younger it was so frustrating because we just couldn’t understand each other, I couldn’t always meet her needs. Now that she’s smarter I can manipulate her emotions with my words and actions a little more. For instance she doesn’t like to have her hands and face wiped down after a meal, but if I get down on her level and I make a goofy song “wipe wipe wipe those hands, pat pat pat those cheeks” she loves it and will happily stick out her hands to be washed. If she’s in the hallway whining, I can stick my hand out and say “come see mama” and she will get up and run over to me and hold my hand, and we can take a little stroll over to some toys and talk to them until she is happy and lets go of my hand to play. In the morning when I brush her teeth we say “ahhhhh” and show our teeth, and if she gets distracted I show her how to brush mine and then she lets me finish brushing hers. I know that seems so DUH! But I couldn’t do those things a couple of months ago, she didn’t understand commands or jokes or fun games like she does now. It makes connecting with her on a friendship level so much more rewarding. I can make her feel happy with things other than food, or nursing. Its been really good for me too, I feel so much more compassion for her when she’s having a tough day. Sometimes she just needs to sit on my lap while she plays with her legos, when she’s done feeling needy she will climb up and venture out to play on her own. To know that my mood and reactions can keep her calm and happy is really empowering as a mother. I’m hoping that her and I can continue to grow and communicate with each other through all these coming stages.

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Mom Friends, and having the best ones:

I’ve been really really fortunate to meet some awesome moms with babies Vada’s same age. Mom’s who are like mindedly “chill” with their parenting technique, mom’s who have good style, interesting hobbies, who like to drink (; Mom’s that are supportive, and casual, and up for random play dates, good birthday parties, and chatting about shoes and food and business. Last weekend I threw a big birthday party for Vada, and at one point a family member came up to me and said “what an awesome group of friends you have” and I looked around and had to whole heartedly agree! I hope these are the friends Vada grows up with, that these mom friends of mine last a long long time. I’ve had a little bit of a rocky year with my own pre-motherhood friends, I had always imagine that all my friends would have children around the same time as me, and that our kids would all grow up together, but life doesn’t always work that way. Most of my friends have moved to other cities, some other states, and are in various stages in their lives, some ready to have children, some not, but we are all in different chapters of our lives and that’s ok. We aren’t connecting the same way we once were, maybe we never will, sometimes holding on to what you had makes the present harder than it needs to be. I’ve decided to let my relationships be fluid, to let them flow to and away from me as life sees fit, and to respect and be ok with that. For now I know that I have love for my old friends, and love for my new friends, and to feel really damn lucky that there are so many cool people in our lives.

 

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Marriage and The Empty Heart:

You know how people worry about having a second baby, that they won’t love it as much as their current baby, and people say “you will, your heart will automatically grow to accommodate your new love” and I hear this is true, that there is instantly enough love. That same thing isn’t really true with your spouse. When you have a baby your heart doesn’t necessarily grow to accommodate equal amounts of love for your baby and your spouse. When I say “love” I really mean: Patience, kindness, sensitivity, passion, love, strength, tolerance, control…… you get my point. When you have a baby, your spouse takes a back seat, even if you really really really don’t want them to. I love Mr. Gaunt to the moon and back. He is my best friend, and the greatest person I have chosen to have in my life. I believe our relationship is the backbone of our lives, of our family, and nothing will be good if we are bad. That being said, I had to pull some of my compassion, patience and kinds from him in order to tolerate this first year of motherhood. Vada, and ALL newborns are greedy greedy love-sucking creatures. They take take take take take and they give you back so little, but you MUST LOVE THEM! But where do you find the strength to muster up all that extra love? Well in my case, I ripped it from my husband and left him a big IOU that I have yet to repay. It’s been a rough year. We take it day by day and we say IM SORRY, I FORGIVE YOU every single day, because every single day we are not nearly as loving to each other as we should be. We talk about this a lot, we acknowledge our shortcomings as spouces all the time, we know we will get through this, that in our lifetime together we will have shitty days, months, years, maybe even decades, but when we got married, we swore to stick it out, and we will, because when times are good, he is my greatest love, and our family is so worth it. Until then we will be kind when we can, and we will forgive when we can’t. We will respect each other as much as we can, and we will love our baby with everything we have, even if it means short-changing each other a little bit.

It’s been a really interesting year. Its been fun, and sad, and challenging, and adorable. I’m excited for all the fun and new experiences we will have with our big girl this year.

Also I’m hoping to get photo back from Vada’s birthday soon to share with you, it was an amazing party!

Raising Vada: The End of Infancy

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We are just 10 days shy of Vada’s 11 months birthday. I remember last year around this time thinking THIS COULD BE THE MONTH! Obviously I was new-mom-delusional, but still, October was full of excitement and the buzz of new baby in our household. This year is pretty darn exciting too! I’ve already finished sewing Vada’s first Halloween costume, and if I can convince her to leave the head-piece (no she’s not a Native American!) on for 5 minutes, I will get a photo of the cutest thing on planet earth. It seriously turned out way better than I could have imagined. As for Mr.Gaunt and I, he likes to get his moneys worth out of costumes, so he will be the Stay Puff Marshmallow man again this year. I went simple and sweet and am going to be the Morton Salt Girl.

We also have plans to attend at LEAST two farms to do the whole “How Tall This Fall” pumpkin hay-ride bonanza. We love Stoney Ridge (whose website is sorely lacking in showing you the cool-ness of this place), and possibly Foster’s Corn Maze, and maybe Bellewood Acres too for some apple picking. We plan to take Vada trick-or-Treating (I’m hoping some houses have non-candy treats, yes I’m THAT mom, no she can’t eat any candy) a little bit either downtown, or just in our neighborhood early, and then pass out candy in the evening at our own house. I think she will LOVE all the kids in costumes! We have some super fun Halloween decoration plans too that will either go up this weekend or next, depending on how long I can hold out. EEEK!

I haven’t blogged in a while. Did you notice the blog name change! It was a big step for me, but I wanted the blog to reflect more what I’m blogging about, and not so much my weight. Cha Cha Changes! So onto a few topics that I’ve been storing in my head for a time when I paid someone else to watch my kid so I could blog….ehem…right now.

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WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AND THOSE LOSER STAY AT HOME MOMS ALL OVER INSTAGRAM:

I went last night with my friend Haley to see the new documentary The Empowerment Project which you should totes go see, and cry, and feel super empowered to go out and do something amazing with your life. UNLESS that something is being a SAHM (Stay at home mom), because then you are only doing something kind-of-empowered-but-you-gave-up-all-the-dreams-that-would-have-made-you-actually-inspiring type a thing. I kid, kind of. The documentary features tons of awesome women of all ages and races, and all types of careers. They even interview (the producer’s mother in law) a STAHM, but I STILL cant help but get the underlying message of “SAHM’s are the OTHER thing you can choose to do, if you aren’t going to do a cool job” they ask questions like “did you feel like you had to give up a career” “what will you do with yourself now that your children are raised and you have no work experience?” It all tied back to a slightly “I’m sad for you” tone. I wish they would have talked to that SAHM and asked her:

“How did you instill morals in your children?”

“What training and life experiences got you to the position of being a PEOPLE CREATOR?”

“What dreams and goals came to fruition for your child because of your help?”

“How many hours/days/months did it take you to teach your boys to be good honest people”

“What mothers are your inspiration?”

“Show us these awesome people who YOU created. What good are they doing in the world?”

Because seriously folks. Every time you meet an awesome, loving, intelligent, talented, respectful person in this world, I can almost guarantee there was a good parent (or parental figure) who was there building them from scratch. Children are not born with the skills to be a good person, someone must teach them. And ITS A DAMN HARD JOB! It’s not a cushy job, it’s not a job that gets credit or praise or PAY! So lets all stop acting like being a SAHM is a job you have when you give up the opportunity to have a REAL COOL JOB, and just talk about it like it’s a hard-ass career, and thank god someone out there wants to do it. (note: this goes for all parents, working or otherwise)

I would say I straddle the line of working outside the home, and working in the home. I NEVER thought I wanted to be a SAHM, just like I never thought I wanted to be an astronaut, it just didn’t sound like my cup of tea. It sounded too restricting, not independent and creative enough for me. Then I had a baby, and it really struck me hard that I didn’t want someone else to be spending the majority of her waking hours with her. I wanted her to know me, so see me interacting with people in the world, to learn her behaviors from me, not someone else. I wanted the opportunity to sculpt her life, and fill her sweet baby brain and heart with all the things I know. BUT I also wanted to work, and to keep filling and inspiring my own brain and heart. So I do both, kind of. I work from home, I drag Vada to work (I own a restaurant with my mom) with me. We run errands together, and she spends many an hour sitting at the counter with the regulars. It’s hard though. I can not get nearly enough done with her, so I have two days a week where I have someone watch her so I can really focus on a task, like taxes, or blogging, or ordering things, or helping in the restaurant. I’m thankful for this time, as she is exposed to more kids, a different home, new toys and adventures. I want to teach her everything I know, but I don’t know everything she needs to learn, and for that I am so thankful for all the people in our community who inspire her as well.

One thing that I hadn’t prepared myself for was the guilt and the judgment of motherhood. I have my own personal guilt (as do almost all SAHMs) that I might not be doing an equal amount of work as my husband (he would disagree). It’s challenging for me to ask him to solo parent after he gets off work, so I can go do something on my own. It’s challenging for me to ask him to wash the dishes (is this in my contract?) it’s challenging for both of us to not throw each other under the “who worked more today” bus. It just is. We are new at this, our roles are different, and we are still adjusting. We both have eternal respect and support for each other, but the fact is we have been together for 8 years, and only one of those years did we have our current rolls. It takes time.

Judgement from outsiders is a whole ‘nother story. It comes from friends, from family members, from strangers. It’s people’s opinions or perceptions of your life that they get from online, or quick encounters. People love to judge, it’s just in our nature. People develop a fantasy about what they think your life is like, and what you do all day, and they compare it their own lives, and then they judge. I share a lot online, on my Facebook, blog, and Instagram. I share the good things, the sweet things, the messy things. I share the projects I am proud of, I share my family photos, I share our adventures. I share because I believe my life is WORTH SHARING! I believe the things I do are awesome, and that my family is awesome, and that my struggles are valid, and that I am an inspiration to other mothers and other women. I do(should) not care if you think that I am not working HARD enough. I do(should) not care if you think I am doing the right things with my time and money. I do(should) not care if you think my food photo is stupid, or my lunch date is frivolous, or my workout picture is bragging, because it’s not. These are pieces of me, they are what get me up in the morning, and what keep life worth living, and sharing them, and building a community of people who love and support the things I do with my life MAKES ME FEEL GOOD.

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PARTY OF FOUR?:

I am knee-deep in apple craft projects for Vada’s first birthday (November 12th- Apple Of My Eye). I am having so much fun planning this party. It’s feeding my soul so much! It’s so important to feed your soul, to fuel the passion-fire, to really bring yourself joy. That’s what party planning does for me. Some people love politics, some people love cooking or traveling, I love party planning. So I’m going all out, and it’s really rocking my world. I heard recently that your job doesn’t have to be your passion, but that you must have passion in your life. That really spoke to me. I want my job to encompass parts of my passions, and it does sometimes, but I also need to accept that it wont be my main passion. Do I want to turn my passion into a job? I’m not sure right now. I feel like I already have a lot on my plate, and that it would be silly to add more. I know that I adjusted (NOT GAVE UP) my priorities this year to have a baby. She’s awesome, but she does not allow me to do whatever the hell I want. Right now I am raising a person full-time, and when she is bigger, and doesn’t need constant attention, then I can re adjust my priorities again, and maybe make money from my passion. Planning parties for other people takes a lot of time, and you need to be reliable. I am NOT RELIABLE right now. I am only reliable for Vada, and she needs that reliability 24/7 right now, so everyone else has to take a back seat to her. That’s the truth, and when you are running a business you have to be able to be really reliable to your client, and because I can’t be, I wont be.

This brings us to baby #2. I’ve finally after 11 months, decided that there will be a baby #2, and we will probably try for one sooner rather than later. Let me be very clear that I hate pregnancy, and I am completely terrified of having two babies, and our house is way too small, and we are pretty poor most of them time, and I realize that having another baby will SUCK A BUNCH for at least the first couple years. That being said, I do not want Vada to be an only child, and I want to get this baby-stage over and done with, as opposed to dragging it out. I want to work more one day. I want to follow my dreams, and live for myself, and have some freedom, one day. I do not want to be a mother of small children for 10+ years, I just don’t. I want them to grow up and be more independent, and I want to move into the next phase of our lives. Therefore I’m going to jump off a cliff and just be a little crazy for a few years, and then we can start a new chapter. (not currently pregnant, not currently trying to get pregnant, ill let yah know when that happens….maybe)

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EASY BABY:

I get that a lot, the “she’s such an easy baby” and maybe it’s true? I guess. When shes pulling toilet paper out of a toilet that wasn’t flushed, and falling off the cat hammock, and dumping glasses of wine on her head, she doesn’t FEEL THAT EASY, but whatever. She’s not a hard baby per say. She didn’t have colic, she slept through the night in her own crib by 4 months, she’s rarely sick, she has no allergies, she eats everything, she has no stranger-danger, and she’s friendly as hell. She’s social, and funny and mostly happy. So yeah, she’s pretty great. I’ve heard from a lot of people who say she seems older than babies her age. I don’t know that many babies her age, so it’s hard for me to compare, but yeah, she’s pretty smart. Someone once said that Vada was an old soul. I can see that, she seems wise, and fiercely connected to people. She just loves people, she is so different from me in that way, it takes me a lot longer to warm up. You know those people that when you are around them, even if you just met them, they make you feel so good, so happy, so welcomed, she’s THAT person. It’s really inspiring. I watched a crabby older woman come into the restaurant and order some food to-go. She did not smile or joke or chat when she ordered, she did not come off as happy or friendly. Her face looked old, and tired and annoyed. Vada happened to be sitting at the counter eating some snacks, and she caught the women’s eye. While the woman waited for her food I watched her interact with Vada, and literally LIGHT UP. She chatted with Vada, and shared some of her snack when Vada offered it to her. It was like her and Vada were in their own little world, where they were best friends having lunch together. When the woman’s food was ready I handed it to her, and she said “Thank you for letting me hang out with her, she’s amazing.” I felt my heart swell! This baby, who can not talk words, is so in love with interacting with people, so full of joy, that she can make a complete strangers day brighter in just 5 minutes. How did I grow this perfect little person? That is not something I instilled in her, that is something that grew inside her from the start, and I am not a religious person, but I PRAY THAT SPARK LASTS HER A LIFETIME. If she can bring so much joy to people, see so much good in them, inspire them to feel good about themselves and the world around them. She is a gift. She is easy.

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Well, Ive rambled enough about my life for today. I have to actually shower and clean my kitchen before the family comes home. The weather is beyond lovely today, and a walk is in order.

Raising Vada: Thrifting Baby Clothes

details 2 Despite the streak of 75 degree weather we are having, Fall really is coming. I’m ready for fall, even though I know I will dearly miss the summer, the days already feel shorter. I’m ready for a change in events, a change in weather, something new to look forward to. Fall has long been a favorite season of mine. My birthday, my wedding anniversary, Halloween, Vada’s birthday, Mr. Gaunt’s birthday, and Thanksgiving ALL happen in the fall. Not to mention most of my best friends birthdays are in the fall too. So Fall is a good time in this household.

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This past weekend I began to sort through Vada’s drawers, pulling the outgrown items out, putting away the sentimental pieces (For baby number two? For friends babies?), and selling off the things she wont wear again. We have held onto a few pairs of shorts and tank tops to get us through the coming weeks, but her drawers are already bursting with sweaters, long paints, tights and wool dresses just waiting for the leaves to fall, and the first frost.

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Vada is in 12/18 month size right now, I KNOW SHES ONLY 9 MONTHS OLD! So I’ve been slowly purchasing 18 month/2T winter stuff for a few weeks now. I love shopping for Vada’s clothes, it is pure stress relief for me. It is more relaxing and enjoyable than wine and Netflix. It is my absolute favorite thing to do right now, color me crazy. But I don’t shop new, oh hell no, its thrift stores all the way! It’s the only way I could afford to have a slight shopping addiction. With most items averaging $1-$3 I can afford to fill her drawers with awesome stuff. My mom always asks  “where did you get that” and 99% of the time the answer is Value Village. I have a lot of friends that don’t thrift shop, and that’s ok, it’s not for everyone, but if you are interested here some of my opinions on thrifting kids clothes:

Value Village is by far my favorite thrift store (In Colorado it’s called Savers, same company). There are a few reasons I love VV:

1. Its BRIGHT, SPACIOUS, and CLEAN (well as clean as a bunch of used clothes can be).

2. The racks are large, and rarely packed so full that you can’t flip through garments (I HATE THAT)

3. The prices are generally good, and they rarely jack up prices because of the brand.

4. I feel like the employees don’t even know what a good kids brand is, so often times Tea and Hanna Anderson are $1.99!

5. The HUNT! I love the hunt of digging through a bunch of trash to find a gem! I love it!

6. SALE DAYS. On Holidays it’s often 50% off all clothing. TAKE ALL MY MONEY! (join the Super Saver and get 50% the day before!)

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Other than VV, I also like Goodwill, and then after that Ill check out the actual kids consignment stores. Kids consignment stores tend to be more expensive, have less selection, have been picked over, and don’t have those GEMS hidden amongst the trash. They know that they should price name brand kids clothes higher, and they do. They also tend to not take vintage clothing, or handmade stuff, and I buy a lot of handmade stuff at VV. Not that I don’t get some good stuff at kids consignment stores, because I do. I also consign some of Vada’s stuff too, so I have a little $$ to spend. Last week I needed a pink leotard in Vada’s size for her Halloween costume, it was much easier to hit up a kids consignment store that I knew had dance-wear, then to try to hunt VV for a few weeks to find one.  I also recently found a new consignment shop that seems to carry high-end kids clothing. While I like to hunt, sometimes its nice not to have to dig through a bunch of Granimals and Carters.

boy clothes

At any store I try to look through the entire section of her size, boys and girls. I kind of hate that they separate the boys and girls, because really we shop from both pretty evenly. I like girls leggings better, boys pants tend to be bulky and “cargo-pant” style, which I don’t love. I love boys sweaters and long sleeve shirts. We buy almost exclusively boys pajamas, they are way cooler! Boys prints tend to be dinosaurs, space/rockets, bugs, sharks/whales, frogs, nautical, and come in greens, blues, oranges, yellow, red. Girls stuff tends to be flowers, bunnies, cupcakes, and come in pink, purple, and more pink. I hate it. Good thing I don’t give a crap about my kid being called a boy. I always just say “Thanks!” whenever people compliment my little guy, no need to correct them.

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As for the brands of clothes, I definitely find myself selecting similar brands time and time again. I can also almost immediately detect a nicer item of clothing based on the print or fabric. There are an endless supply of good brands at thrift stores!

I keep my eyes peeled for:

-BABY GAP

-Hanna Anderson

-Zutano

-H&M

-Tea Collection

-Old Navy

-Janie & Jack

-Crew Cuts

-Mini Boden

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On top of that I do buy lots of Carters and other kids basics brands too. But I find that better brands, make clothing that lasts longer. Not that she wears things that long, but she’s the second or third or fourth person to wear these items, and I will pass them on to another child, so it’s nice if they don’t fall apart. I’ve had a few items from Target and Crazy Eight that I bought new totally fall apart, but GAP clothes feel sturdy and last a long time in my opinion.

shoes

As for the style we go for, it’s all about the basics. I stock Vada up on lots of neutrals, and lots of fun modern prints. I avoid things that are way too childish (cartoons, silly sayings, and things that are too embellished with bows and ruffles that don’t wash well). I basically dress Vada in clothing I would wear, if I felt like I could wear whatever I wanted. Some people might think that you should let a kid dress like a kid, and I do, just not a tacky kid. (; I mix and match prints, and we layer a lot too with fun cardigans and longsleeves under t shirts. We dont do a ton of dresses and skirts because she’s still crawling a not walking, and they are a tripping hazzard. We’ve gotten some great coats this year too! North Face, Gap, and Lands End, we will be so nice and warm! Shoes on the other hand I like to buy new, kids destroy shoes!

dresses

So if you have kids and you haven’t thrifted, I say give it a try, its really great! Happy clothes hunting!

 

 

That First Summer

vadas first summerChildhood is built on holidays, vacations and summertime.  My fondest memories growing up almost always involve one of those three things, and when I dreamed of being a parent, summertime seemed magical. We are finishing up Vada’s very first summer, and man was it a good one. When she was born in November I remember being excited that she would be sitting up and crawling by summer, and how much fun we would have. This summer did not disappoint.

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summer 7

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SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS:

-Celebrating our first 4th of July with a walk through Cornwall park, a visit to the Splash Pad, a BBQ, and an early bedtime so mom and dad could stand in front of our house and watch the fireworks go off.

-Swimming in our baby pool, at the Aquatic Center, in a bucket, and Lake Padden!

-Eating tons of peaches and fresh Raspberries from our yard, and so many blueberries!

-Going to the Elizabeth Park Concerts.

-Having Nana visit while mama and papa worked a big wedding.

-Lots of workouts at Continuous Motion

-Play dates at the FIG, Perch and Play, and Boulevard Park

-Front yard lounging on the big quilt.

-Bells Baseball games.

-First trip to the Fair

-Eating everywhere and everything!

-Spending afternoons at the restaurant.

-Happy hour with Grandmas at Jalapenos, Pepper Sisters and Rock N Rye.

-Trips to Semihamoo and Birch Bay to play in the sand.

-Eating Mallards ice cream and Fat Pie Pizza.

-So many walks to the park, to swing on the swings.

-Play dates with Avery, and Birthday parties with Lucas and Kendall, and BBQs with Katy and Charles.

-Visiting papa at work, and at weddings.

-Petting and kissing lots of dogs, and kitties, and even a turkey!

-Strolling around the Farmers market.

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summer 5  summer 3

I know this is just the beginning of all the cool things we will get to do with Vada, but I’m a little sad her first summer is over, and that the days will be getting shorter and colder and darker. We are planning on staying busy this winter so we don’t get bored and depressed. We have a BIG FIRST BIRTHDAY coming up, and the holidays, plus music lessons, swim lessons, and play dates galore.

I feel so lucky that I’m getting to spend so much time with Vada these days. There are times when I am burnt out, annoyed and just want some relief, but mostly I am thankful for our lives and for my family. My 29th birthday is coming up on the 12th, my last year in my twenties, it flew by. I know this year is going to be extra challenging, and so full of emotions, being pulled in different directions. Work more? Work less? Working on budgets, and balancing time with Mr. Gaunt, with Vada, and with myself. Continuing to work towards self fulfillment, and comfort in motherhood. The never ending goal to be happy and content and to step back from frustrating situations and look at my life as a whole. To not let anxiety and guilt debilitate me, to stay positive. To cherish Vada’s youth, her memories, her life always. To continue to respect my husband, to hold his hand, to be his equal, and to settle more comfortably into our “with children” roles in this relationship. Let this fall bring warmth, joy, and excitement that will carry us through the winter with plentiful happiness.

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summer 2

Raising Vada: 9 Months in, 9 Months out.

IMG_3998I feel like the title of this post is only perpetuating the LIE that is being pregnant for 9 months, you’re not, you’re pregnant for 10 months, or 9.5 months, or 40 weeks. It’s all very confusing. And hell, if you go over due, you’re pregnant even longer.

Vada is now 9 months old!  I haven’t blogged much recently, because I worry it’s all a bit boring, but then I remember that this is MY journal, and that one day ill look back and say “hey look at that cool shit Vada was doing around 9 months” so without further rambling:

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MOVING:

This could be two topics, hell, its gonna be two topics! First is Vada being on the move. She started crawling the night before her 8 month birthday. We got it on camera, and you can watch it here:

Adorable right! Similar to the video of her laughing for the first time, this crawling business made us ecstatic! We just think she is so smart and so freaking cool. BUT then we woke up from our parenting wet dream and realized that HOLY SHIT OUR BABY CRAWLS and gets into everything! Every electrical cord, garbage can, pile of papers, dirty shoes, everything. And it all goes in her mouth. Its disgusting. I feel like I can’t keep my house clean enough, and the worst part is, I now have even less time to keep it clean because I’m too busy chasing after her. So yeah, its adorable and all, but hell its challenging. Let me be clear though, in no way has this development stopped me from taking a shower and getting dressed every single day. MOTHERS OF THE WORLD! STOP USING YOUR CHILDREN AS AN EXCUSE TO NOT TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!  (unless you have 3+ kids, in which case I’m shocked you are even still breathing). Vada also loves to stand up. She pulls up to everything, and has even started “cruising” around furniture. She also likes to downward dog a lot, I’m thinking we have about a month until she stands up alone, and maybe 2 months until she takes her first step. It wont hurt my feelings at all though if it takes longer. PLEASE be A 15 month walker! She also loves to climb, crawl under things like tunnels, and break through any possible barricade I make for her. Shes sneaky like that. We have also mastered stairs and most playground jungle gyms.

Second part of this moving topic is our house. The bigger that baby gets, the smaller this house feels. Just to remind you all, we live in a 2 bedroom 1 bath 936 sq feet home. And we love it, we really do. We live in about the best neighborhood in town, we feel safe, we have a pretty great private yard, and the character of the home is divine. But its way too small. So small. Teeny tiny. Our living room is also our office, playroom, and entryway. We have no closets, so our stroller lives in the living room too, and the sewing machine, and the computers, etc. Its all a bit much. I just really need one extra room and a little more storage. I need a place to pile all my tax stuff where Vada can’t get to it. I want her to have enough room to have a large safe play area. I want a dining room where we can’t eat meals as a family. Our current house is just not cutting it, but we don’t have the money to live in anything bigger. Mr. Gaunt and I have continued to live just below our means, and part of that is because we drive old cars we own outright, we rent a small house (that is honestly priced way below market), and we don’t have any debt. There are so many days that I am able to look past the problems and see our personal success, our sweet home, and our lovely lives. There are also days where I drown us in “I want more!” and I let everything become and excuse for “its not fair” its one of my biggest character flaws. I know. The only thing I can do now though, is plan for things I want, and look for the good in the things I have. I love our home, I do, but it is not our forever home, which we are planning for. I’ve got a 5 year plan, hopefully more like 3, for us to increase our income, build our credit (funny story, no debt often leads to no credit too) and find the home we really want and can afford.

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BIG BABY & BIRTHDAYS:

Having a big baby (6+ months) is soooo much better than having a tiny baby. Despite the fact that I often act a little like this kid, when talking about Vada getting bigger, really it’s the bees knees, and I wouldn’t go back in time no matter what. BIG BABIES ARE BOMB. Now we can go places and Vada actually plays, like by herself, or with other kids! Its soooo cool. We have an indoor play place in town that we have started to frequent. They have a special area for 3 and under (although its more like 2 and under) and its filled with safe toys, books, furniture and benches for moms to sit on. It’s so fun to go and hang out and drink coffee (or wine!) with friends and let Vada crawl around, make a mess, and play for HOURS! Seriously, hours folks, its so great. ALL WE WANT FOR HER BIRTHDAY IS MEMBERSHIPS AND GIFT CARDS TO PLACES LIKE THIS FOR THE WINTER. Why buy toys to clutter my own living room when we can go somewhere fun with other kids and tons of toys and room!

As you can tell I’m already thinking about Vada’s birthday (November 12th), and boy do I have BIG plans. And for all you nay sayers who think “save your money, she wont remember it” well jokes on you because it’s not for her, it’s for me! Her party planning-loving mama! Its my party! If I were to list my top 5 superficial favorite things about being a mom, it would be this:

1. Decorating a Nursery

2. Dressing them

3. Baby Showers and Birthday Parties

4. Taking photos of them next to cats

5. Hanging out with other moms

See, doesn’t that all seem like a great time! So yeah, not doing a big birthday part was just out of the question! Ive got at least 10 years of big fun themed birthday parties (until she asks me to just drop her off at the mall with my credit card and her friends) so I’m not missing a single one! BIRTHDAYS FOREVER!

And in talking about how big Vada is, and since I didn’t do a baby book (aint nobody got time for that) here are some milestones we have met:

-At her 9 month visit she was 30.5″ tall and 22.66lbs! 95th percentile for everything.

-Dancing! Vada now rocks back fourth or shakes her booty when certain songs come on. She likes this song and this song the best. Check out her sweet dance moves here.

-FAST crawling

-Pulling up on everything, and quickly getting down. She also climbs everything.

-Some “cruising” along furniture.

-Downward dog (I’m thinking she’s getting ready to stand soon.

-2 teeth (and the top two are looking like they may show up this week)

-Clapping

-Waving

-Shaking her head

-Responds to her name

-Open mouth kisses!

-Gets excited whenever she sees people she knows (mama, papa, grandma, nana, nanny)

-“talks” back when we talk to her

-Can mimic mouth noises (tongue clicking, whistling, etc)

-Eats all foods (except peanut butter and honey at one year) and can drink from a sippy cup, straw or bottle.

-Good pincer skills, and other fine motor skills. Likes to pick at tiny things on the floor.

-Much better at riding in the stroller since we upgraded to the BOB stroller and have been using it more. I also still wear her in the BOBA, but only on my front.

-Takes 1-2 hour naps once or twice a day

-Loves swimming. Will “jump” off the edge into our arms, and holds her breath when she goes under water.

-Loves to swing at the park and to yell at other kids.

-Has started to listen to me. She knows when I say NO, and she will sit still while I put her shirt on. She’s got great balance.

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SAFE & CLEAN: or things my house is not.

Childproofing. We have done a very very small amount of childproofing. I have one of these on the cabinet under the kitchen sink so she doesn’t suck on a bottle of bleach, and we have a few of these in exposed outlets next to her toy basket. That’s about it, and honestly we probably wont do much more. I also bought one of these for our front door once she is big enough to reach the door knob. Last week I also broke down and bought this baby gate at Target. It was cheap and has a pretty easy arm to remove it. It’s not one of those annoying ones that falls to pieces when you remove it. I move it a lot, depending on what room I’m in, and what room I don’t want Vada in. If I’m in the kitchen, then I let her play in there, and block off the laundry room. If I’m in the living room I use it to block off the kitchen (and laundry room) and if we want the front door open, we use it to block that off. Downside is that Hula can’t jump over it, so it can’t stay up all the time or she can’t get to her litter box and food (in the laundry room). Overall though, I’m glad we got it, and I use it all day long. Otherwise I’ve started sweeping and steam mopping a lot more, so all of her pants aren’t dirty on the knees all the time. I’ve also just been slowly clearing out all the rooms of stuff she can get into. The livingroom lost a lamp, and the coffee table. The kitchen lost the little shelf I used for bills and printer paper, garbage cans all over the house have been moved on top of tables. Less clutter and less things for her to get into. And doors are closed more often now. It’s nice to keep things uncluttered, but its a full-time job keeping her alive…sheesh. If I had a bigger house (see above) we could have rooms that were baby-off-limit, as well as bigger areas that were just for her to play, someday. For now she likes to crawl all over the house, so the more space I can keep baby safe, the more time I get to do things like blog.

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EAT ALL THE FOOD:

Vada is still breastfeeding twice a day, in the morning after I get her out of her crib, and usually at night in the rocking chair. She also drinks about 25-30 oz of formula a day. On top of that we have been pretty good at doing breakfast and lunch with her most days (We eat dinner after she goes to bed, so dinner for her). Her and I are often home alone in the morning, so I try to make a good breakfast and sit and eat with her. She likes eggs, green beans, blueberries, peaches, potatoes, grilled onions and peppers, yogurt, pretty much anything I’m eating. For lunch I usually give her whatever I am having: sliced turkey, sweet potato fries, olives, string cheese, pretty much anything. I actually love feeding Vada, she has such an open mind about food, and seems to love nearly everything. I can’t wait for her to have more teeth so we can do more vegetables that require chewing. I have no qualms about giving her interesting “adult food” like sushi or ribs, or soups, she gobbles them down! Mostly she feeds herself (except soup, yogurt, and the very occasional puree) and has a great pincer grasp and is so good at gum-chewing. A few fun foods we have tried:

-Sushi (Avocado Rolls & California Rolls)

-Coconut Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

-BBQ Ribs

-Roasted Eggplant

-Salmon

-Beans and Rice (Mexican and Creole style!)

-Pork Belly

-Bruchetta

-Bread soaked in clam sauce

-Eggs Galore (poached, fried, hardboiled, scrambled)

-Meat Loaf

-String Cheese

-Roasted Vegetables

-Goat Cheese, grilled onion Pizza

The list could go on and on. The only food she hated so far was homemade Kale chips lol! I want Vada to have  a love and appreciation for all good food, and to be willing to experiment and try new things. I know this could change, but so far, she’s a little baby foodie, and I love it!

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WHATS NEXT:

Having a baby puts a lot of things on hold, and gives you a whole new set of stuff to do every day. I’ve stopped working a lot. I mean I still do a lot of little things for our restaurant (office stuff, taxes, bills, marketing, emails, ordering, and some cleaning and shopping), but I don’t work in the restaurant.  Mr. Gaunt got a new job, with longer hours, so I’m doing a lot more of the home stuff too. I have Vada go twice a week to a nanny right now so I can have a few hours a week of time to just get things done without her. Sometimes this is work specific, sometimes its home stuff. It’s nice though.

When Vada was born I had a lot of preconceived ideas about what I thought I wanted, what I would be able to do, and what would work for our family. I thought I would want to work more, I thought I would be able to do more with Vada, I thought things would be easier. But the truth is, I don’t want to work a lot, and I don’t want her in daycare full-time, and even if I did, my brain is full up right now. I’m on edge a lot when it comes to work, and problem solving, and feeling overwhelmed. A lot of these things made me feel desperate and depressed and anxious in the beginning. Now they make me feel angry and annoyed. My ability to multi task family and work stuff sucks. I’m hoping it gets better as Vada gets older, but only time will tell. I’m trying to accept it and to keep myself in check, but it’s always a struggle. I also have noticed that no matter what, unless you spend 90% of your day with a baby, you do NOT understand what it’s like, you just don’t. I’m not saying it’s bad, but the limitations with a baby are real, and other people may chose to have judgements about that, and I just have to remind myself that other peoples feelings are THEIRS and not mine. I know whats best for us.

Vada is on the peak of being able to do more big kid stuff like finger paints, reading books (we try to read to her, but it does not hold her attention and she just rips at the books) and actually playing with things (stacking blocks, pushing buttons, that stuff) so I think this winter will be lots of fun. I have a whole Pinterest board of toddler activities that I’m excited to start with her. Hopefully the “put everything in her mouth” thing will die down around 15 months.  We also plan to start swim lessons again in September, and we have signed up for a 10 week Mommy (and daddy) and ME Music class, which I am so excited about! I’m hoping to also get a membership to the children’s museum too.

The days of summer are coming to an end, and I genuinely feel sad. This has been such a fun and exciting summer for us, and for Vada. Getting to do all the fun summer activities with your kid, really makes things special, at least for me. This will be a summer to remember, really a year to remember, and I’m going to try to focus every day on living a good life and loving my family.

Happy 9 months you beautiful person!

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