Saturday, September 24, 2011

our 2nd 1st birthday party

Our 1st 1st birthday party was for our first daughter and was described (milkshake recipe included!) in this post of yore. So that makes this our 2nd 1st. See?

As promised, i'm here to give the "big reveal" of the blue highchair and a breakdown of some of the DIY (do-it-yourself) birthday party fun for my brand new one-year-old.

She was absolutely adorable in that highchair! Of her own accord, she stuck her leg through the spindles for balance, I guess. You may remember that I had removed and never replaced the old brown belt in the makeover, so I'm sure the chair could be a bit slippery for an un-belted, tutu-clad birthday girl.

DIY project #1: Invitations

Well, everyone knows you can't have a party without invitations! Well, you can. But what's the fun in that? Invitations set the tone for the whole affair and often provide the color/design/decor inspiration for the whole party!

I chose these invitations from this Etsy seller. She also offered matching cupcake toppers, a banner, and even thank you notes for afterward, but I decided to just go with the invite this time. All I had to do was pick my favorite design and email a photo to the Etsy shop along with the wording and details to be included. (Obviously the invitation sample above is missing some of the details that the world doesn't need to see...)

The designer emailed me a proof for confirmation and I was able to ask her to tweak a few things (1, there was a distracting element over Arlyn's shoulder in the photo, so I asked her to zoom in more. And 2, I added Arlyn's middle name to give her name and the whole design more balance and presence.)

I purchased the file for this invitation which means I own it and can print it from my printer, the local grocery store photo printer, a professional photo lab, etc. I ran out of time to print and send these via "real mail", though, so they were emailed instead. (And sadly, ended up in a couple of our guests' spam folders, though I have no idea why! I shall do a better follow-up next time.) I shall print at least one for her baby book, though. Soon-ish.

DIY project #2: Cupcake Toppers

After the invitations were chosen, it was time to focus on some of the decorating details that would make her party extra special. I'd seen a photo or two of some cupcake toppers and decided to give it a whirl. Here's what I did!

Grab the following materials:
  • lollipop sticks (in the candy-making section of any craft store)
  • colored and textured cardstock that matches your party
  • thin ribbon
  • paper punches (or really steady hands and a good pair of scissors!) : )
  • a glue stick
  • scotch tape
I printed out a couple coupons for the craft store I was going to. I mean, who wants to pay full price for punches? Not me. I'm cheap like that.

On my first craft store run I found the sticks, papers, ribbons, and the 1 1/2" scallop punch. I was hoping to find a 2" circle punch, too, but all I could find were the highly complex-looking circle cutters with all their special attachments... Yay-hay no way! (yes, too much Neverland Pirates for me.)

So I figured I could trace a pretty great circle and just cut them out by hand. Only 12, so no big deal, right?

Well, I don't know about you, but hand-cut circles are obviously not my forte. I'm pretty sure I had better cutting skills in grade school with safety scissors. And my crazy "circles" did not complement the pretty and uniform scalloped circles I was working with.

Plan B (or just a Plan A amendment), here I come! Print out one more coupon and run out to one more craft store late at night... Whew! I found it! And at an extra 40% off, too. That was a successful night.

So as we sat in front of a GOP debate on the computer one evening, I punched away! It was fun to match up the circles with the scallops in different color combos. When I finally settled on what looked best, I glued the small scallops to the larger circles and set them aside for a minute.

Then I grabbed a dark pink Sharpie and wrote the number "1" on each one. I had hoped to find a "1" punch at the craft store, but writing "1" proved to be much easier and more satisfying than cutting out circles by hand. So it worked! I tried to make them as uniform as possible.

Next came taping each circle creation to a lollipop stick. Easy-peasy. And then tie the ribbons around and you're done!

DIY project #3: Festive Banner 

I just love banners for birthdays! I love them so much, that this one is still hanging on our mantle. What? It's still "birthday month," right? I love them so much that I hope to sew a more permanent use-it-every-year one someday!

This banner was really simple. I found an 8-piece package of coordinating 12"x12" scrapbook papers at Tar-jay for $.99! (Why isn't there a "cents" sign on my keyboard, by the way??)

I worked with the paper and a pencil and figured out how to get 3 triangles cut from each piece. My three-hole puncher spanned the little flags just perfectly to punch the two holes I needed at the top of each triangle. And then I just strung them onto some twine I already had! I actually had enough triangles to make 2 banners, but not enough twine, so I substituted curling ribbon and used banner #2 on the gift table. (word to the wise: Invest in the spools of curling ribbon in your most-used colors. It always comes in handy!)

This project just cost me 99 pennies! (Way less, actually, since I didn't use all the paper in the package.) I will never buy a cheesy ready-made pennant banner, again.

DIY project #4: Giant Confetti

I must confess: I had so much fun using my new punches that I just kept punching all the pretty paper until I had a ziploc full of "giant confetti!" Super easy. If you have punches, that is. And it just seemed perfect for use on the white tablecloths and so fitting to have more chunky decorations for a baby's party. The birthday girl LOVED playing with the confetti. And eating the confetti. Oops.

DIY project #5: Party Favors

We had 4 little boys and 2 other little girls (besides our 2) coming to our party and I wanted to make it fun for them, too! I mean, there's nothing like happily going to a party only to be constantly told, "sit down!", "don't open her present!", "get out of the way!", "don't blow those out!" I've just seen that happen over and over. The little guests often end up in a meltdowns because it's not their party and they can't do anything!

Well we hoped to alleviate some of that by giving our guests gifts that they could play with as soon as they arrived! The little boys got a bag full of a shovel or rake, a bouncy ball, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. The little girls received bubbles and sidewalk chalk, too, but a bracelet and necklace in place of the tools and balls. But of course.

We held the soiree at a park, so they could color on the sidewalks, blow the bubbles, dig in the dirt, throw the balls, and even stay busy on the playground equipment! It was definitely better than cooping them up in a house!

DIY project #5: the FOOD

I made cupcakes (cuz I made the toppers, obviously!) for the kiddos and cake balls for the adults. The cupcakes need no explanation, methinks. But the cake balls do!

Thank you, Bakerella, for the Red Velvet Cake Balls recipe! Her site has awesome recipes, detailed directions, and helpful tips, but the general idea is as follows:

1. bake a red velvet cake in a 9x13 according to box directions. let sit overnight.
2. the next day, crumble the cooled cake into a large mixing bowl. (remove your rings! this is only the start of the messy operation!)
3. mix one can of cream cheese frosting into the crumbled cake.
4. form into 1" balls and chill
5. melt your chocolate and dip the chilled balls!

We also served a special kid-friendly dinner for our 6 junior party guests and their parentals - peanut butter & jelly! The kids ate theirs plain, but the adults got to enjoy their pb&j's gourmet style! A la the gourmet pb&j food cart I ate at once in Portland.

I used their menu as my guide, but the names may have been changed or ignored to protect the innocent.

We served up one with strawberry jam, peanut butter, sliced bananas, and cream cheese. Yum!

Another was nutella, raspberry jam, and peanut butter. Delightful.

The third I called "the craving:" peanut butter, swiss cheese, and bread & butter pickles. Exciting!

We found a small sandwich press and grilled these lovely creations to perfection. So if you've never tried gourmet pb&j... you should.

There were parts of this party that didn't go as I'd originally planned. I had a whole streamer & lights canopy in mind, but had to chuck the plan when we ran out of set-up time! I had helium balloons in my plan, but that didn't work out, either. We opted, instead, to blow up a few balloons and hang them down from the rafters of the pavilion. It worked nicely.

In summary, we had a wonderful party and mommy and daddy were exhausted for three days after! The most important part of our day, of course, was the celebration of our 1-year-old beauty. She loved the attention and love and present-opening! She loved the cards and calls them "pee-boos" for peek-a-boo. And I know she loved the special touches, too. At least the confetti. And the balloons. The rest will be remembered through photos and stories when we tell her about her special 1st ever birthday party. She didn't have any idea of the plans that "fell through" or what we had to be flexible with. Remember, the details make a party memorable, but the people make it wonderful. Have fun, but don't stress. When in doubt, choose the party girl over the decorations. Just a little life lesson for ya, there.

So, tell me! Have you ever tried gourmet grilled pb&j?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Arlyn's birth story

While I try to avoid too many personal stories and details on this blog for my family's security, this shall be an exception.

I wrote my 2nd daughter's birth story soon after it happened, but I haven't yet shared it publicly on the world wide web. As I spend today reminiscing about this day last year, however, I think I'm ready to share it.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should warn young or male readers (or those with weak stomachs) that there might possibly be more here than you ever wanted to know. You've been warned.

Thursday, September 9, 2010
{39 1/2 weeks}

Today we went to see Dr. P for our 39 week appointment. We're just 4 days away from your due date!

Last week when we saw the Dr., she gave us some ideas to help you come out on your own. The cervix has to efface and dilate and then the baby can come out. In mommy, the cervix was completely effaced (thin and ready to go) but not dilated at all (locked up tight!).

Usually, a mommy would be induced so that contractions would start and labor would begin in earnest. But for us, since Paisley was born via c-section, they wouldn't induce me. I would have to begin labor on my own if I was to have a natural birth this time around. That's what we wanted to do because it can be better for both baby and mommy. Recovery is easier and quicker for mommy, baby has to work hard to come out and that makes all your bodily functions begin properly, and it's better for mommy's tummy so we can have more and more kids, if God gives them to us!

So my body would just have to start having contractions on its own. I even tried black cohosh to induce a few contractions...but it just made me feel weird. May have been a mistake. I did have several contractions, but nothing consistent.

Then one night (a few days before this appt) I had what I thought was a really bad contraction. It wrapped around my whole tummy and lower back and then there was some pain, too, like a really long cramp.

When we saw the Dr. and told her this, coupled with her diagnosis of 100% effacement and 0% dilation... oh, and the obvious strange bulge at the bottom of my tummy... she suggested that we start considering our options.

We all quickly realized that with my uterus as paper-thin as it was (the doctor could easily feel your head and said it was like feeling you through saran wrap...way too thin for our good), we could be in real trouble if we waited for me to go into labor on my own. The uterus would just keep thinning as you kept growing and then we could rupture it when contractions got strong, which is irreparable. We couldn't have any more babies after you if that happened.

The doctor said at first that she would let me go for no more than 3 days before we would need to get you out by c-section. As we sat there and talked, Daddy realized that he didn't like how "saran wrap" sounded and that wasn't that pretty dangerous? The more the doctor thought about it, the more she agreed. She thought we should get you out right away if we wanted to save my uterus. Plus, we didn't know what the bulge was, and the doctor didn't like it that I was saying that something just didn't feel right. She told us that that was a sure sign we need to look into something further.

She left the room to check with the hospital about when they could get us in for our surgery. Daddy and I just stared at each other in disbelief of the fact that we were about to have our 2nd child by a 2nd c-section when we thought the whole time that we would be able to have a natural delivery.

September 10 was Aunt Jenny's due date! It was the day that Blakely Joanna was supposed to be born. My Arlyn Royce wasn't due until the 13th and I sure thought you would come on your own and in your own time. My mind was prepared to wait, but my body apparently wasn't going to be okay with that. It now looked like you would be joining our family on September 10, too!

Sure enough, when the Doctor returned, she told us that they could be ready for us the next morning and had our c-section scheduled for 6am. And now it was just hours away. That was a lot for mommy to wrap her mind around!

Of course, we couldn't sleep that night knowing that you were coming in the morning. It was all too exciting and scary at the same time!

Nana was at our house and she was going to stay with Paisley in the morning while Daddy took me to the hospital so we could have YOU.

Friday, September 10, 2010

We had to be there at 4:30am! We had some paperwork and surgery prep to do before we could go into the OR.

I kinda had a rough experience to start out with. Daddy and I were really excited, but a "negative nelly" nurse kinda burst our bubble from the start. And then she proceeded to burst a vein in mommy's arm trying (and failing) to put in the IV. Ouch!

I finally got my IV in, and all the proper papers signed. We checked and double-checked that no one would do any of the tests or procedures on you that we didn't want them to. Mommy had to get my epidural so I wouldn't feel the surgery. Daddy helped me with that.

I sat on the bed as the man put the epidural needle in my back. It hurt and was scary. Mostly scary, though, but then he touched a bone and that was almost the end of me! Daddy stood in front of me and the guy had him hold my shoulders to help me lean forward as far as you would let me. You were sticking out really far! And I had to be perfectly still. Really hard to be still when a needle pokes your bone! I sat there with tears streaming down my face and Daddy was holding me and being strong for us.

At first, the epidural only deadened my right side. But then the anesthesiologist had me roll over to my side to help it travel down my left leg, I guess. And apparently it worked! Pretty soon I couldn't feel anything. I was almost ready to go, so they sent Daddy to get his scrubs on and meet us at the operating room. They took me in the bed and rolled me to the operating room, slid me over to the actual operating table, put up the short blue barrier wall (so I couldn't see the surgery), and strapped my arms to small tables sticking straight out both sides. I felt the epidural take over more and more of my body until it reached my lungs and made me feel claustrophobic and like I wasn't breathing even though I was. I was warned about this feeling, so I knew it was probably coming, but it was still alarming. I was given oxygen through my nose before I panicked too much and just had to concentrate on breathing in and out slowly and fully as the doctor and assistants prepared me for surgery.

Finally, Daddy came in to sit by my head. Just in time to scratch my nose for me! Whew! (I already had had the anesthesiologist scratch it for me once.) The epidural made me itchy!

Suddenly I was prompted to ask Daddy to pray for us and the doctors. Things were pretty tense on the other side of that barrier. No one sounded easy and happy like the doctors for your sister did. I smelled something funny and asked why my oxygen smelled strange, but was told it was the "smell of surgery". Daddy later told me he saw the cauterizing tools. Yikes!

It seemed to take a long time to get you out and I felt lots of pulling and pushing and movement. I was a little worried, but also not - at the same time!

Later, we would learn all the reasons why, but for now, we were just so happy to hear you cry out at 6:58am!

The doctor and nurses were all exclaiming at your size! You were a pretty big girl at almost 9 pounds! Your black hair was just beautiful and everyone said you were so perfect. When I first saw you, you were purple-ish. Daddy went over to watch them clean you up and they had to clear all your airways, then you were breathing strong and turning pink!

After you got all wrapped up, Daddy brought you over to me and I got to kiss you and we got a picture taken of the 3 of us. After that, you and Daddy had to go while I got all stitched back up. Now THAT part took a long time, too! So I just laid there by myself, praying and crying and thanking God for bringing you into our lives.

You and Daddy were waiting for me as I was finally wheeled to the recovery room. You were already ready to eat! And there were a few nice nurses who helped us settle in. One nurse was very easy and encouraging and told me that you already ate great and everything looked just perfect.

Later (maybe it was the next day?) Dr. P came and told Daddy the whole amazing story. Mommy was in a drug-induced deep sleep, I'm pretty sure.

Apparently, after my first c-section, all my layers between my skin and womb kinda healed together. Fused, kinda, and they're not supposed to be like that. As my uterus expanded with this pregnancy, it was essentially tearing some of the other layers. That last week, (probably when I felt that strong cramping pain) my abdominal muscles tore and my uterus kind of herniated. That was the bulge at the underside of my tummy.

The doctor was SO GLAD we made the decision we had because there was no way of knowing what a mess I was inside and any contractions and/or pushing would have ruptured my uterus without question. She told us "we made the right decision." And she was so relieved for us, because she knew that our heart was to have more children in the future if it's God's will.

She had to take a long time stitching me up after surgery because she was painstaking about the layers being in their proper places. She folded my uterus over itself (made it double strength in that section) and sewed it like a patch. Then she used something called "intercede" that was like a film she laid over the uterus to keep it from adhering to the next layer up during the healing process. Then she pulled the abs closed and repaired the tear. Then the other layers...3 more, I think, including the fat layer that she also sewed up. She sutured every layer separately to be extra safe.

If my body does what she put it on the right track to do, then my uterus will be strong and I can probably have 2 or even 3 more kids...all via c-section. But she's recommending that we wait for 2 1/2 or 3 years to be on the safe side and give me time to heal from such a major surgery.

We believe that God sent us to the right doctor here in this new town of Augusta. We had no way of knowing who to pick, but God made it clear that Dr. P was His choice for us! He just led us there. She helped protect us, baby. And she prayed long and hard before our surgery. Her skills and wisdom definitely saved the lives of any future siblings you may have! She wrote you a note, Arlyn, to go in your baby book.

Praise God for His provision of a wonderful doctor in a strange land. We praise Him and thank Him for His protection of you and me! And we will thank Him forever for bringing you into our lives to hold and love and protect.

I love you, Arlyn. Let's have more adventures together, k? Maybe a little less dramatic, though. Er, maybe not! Cuz we make drama fun!

You are my lovey snuggle-baby. Kisses!


Friday, September 09, 2011

my pinterest-inspired blue highchair

I scored this 30+ year old beauty at a recent garage sale! I knew the second I saw it that it was for me. You see, I found this picture on Pinterest... (that's how most of my stories will probably start from now on.)

And I was smitten. I had to find a highchair like this for my daughter's upcoming 1st birthday! Not only would it be a great photo prop, but it would also be the perfect setting in which she could demolish her first cake! Miracle of miracles, there it was at my friend's sale. I knew I could fix it up!

I prepped it by removing the belts. (No plans to replace them, because we're not really planning to use it as an honest-to-goodness-safety-first type of daily highchair.) Just some pliers and a screwdriver were all that were needed.

These staples holding in the belts were vicious, though. I scratched my arm once. Not really sure how. But it made me grateful I'd just had a tetanus shot! 

(Yeah, for stepping on a rusty nail in the woods on the side of the road as I was on my way to deliver a baby wipe to my hubby who was helping my daughter go potty behind a tree during our evening family walk. It was awesome.)

At first I thought I'd just tape off the hardware so it wouldn't get painted, but it was pretty corroded with 30+ year old food. It wasn't pretty. So it had to come off.

I threw away the rusty screws cuz I knew I wouldn't be reusing them! But now what to do with the hardware? I'll keep thinking about it. I've got a high chair to paint blue, by golly!

I'd read about a miracle called liquid deglosser for roughing up a surface, taking off the finish, and preparing to paint WITHOUT SANDING. That was the kicker. It was like goo-gone on steroids. I knew I couldn't get into all the crevices on the spindles with sandpaper, so I was so glad I found this!

Well, half a bottle of deglosser and several rags later, the high chair was sticky-ish and clean. And begging for a new coat of color. The tray had a crack in it and so the previous owners had covered it with contact paper. That came off pre-photos, but the adhesive residue didn't go quite as easily. I scrubbed on it with serious elbow grease and about a cup of my new best friend liquid deglosser. It only took a couple episodes of something. Whatever I was catching up on on Netflix during naptime, I guess.

I was skeptical as to what color options of spray paint I might find at Lowe's. I hoped it would be more than just black, white, and all the neons. Well, what do you know? Valspar makes spray paint in all kinds of "designer" colors. I chose a Mediterranean blue.

Here's what she looked like after one coat. Thin and even is the key to avoiding drips and globs, my friends. The blue wasn't everything I'd wanted, but I was hopeful it would improve with more coats.

I actually started with the underside of the tray (below) to hone my non-existent spraying skills.

After a few coats of paint and even an upside-down adventure to get the undersides of everything, I ran out of my one can of blue that I was now convinced I loved! So on my next trip to Lowe's to buy another, I also picked up some of this:

...cuz now I was sure what I wanted to do with these dirty, rusty, and corroded pieces of hardware:

That's right! Cover those suckers up! That metallic spray paint was something else. (My mind is now flooded with ideas of how else to use the rest of this can of awesomeness.)

I gave one side of each piece a good coating, waited about 30 minutes, turned them over, and sprayed some more. The beauty of the can that I bought was that it could spray at any angle, so I could really get good coverage in all the nooks and crannies of these little guys.

While I was there, I found the wood screws section and had to eyeball the right size since I forgot to bring one of the pieces along as a guide. Luck (and phenomenal spacial skills! but mostly luck) was on my side!

Okay, so the metal screws could probably have used a quick coat of silver awesomeness to completely match the rest of the hardware, but who's really gonna be checking out the way the tray attaches to the seat?? 

And now this is a much as you will see until I unveil actual photos of the chair in actual use by my actual daughter at her 1st birthday party!

What would you do with a blue highchair? Do you have any old furniture that's just dying to be repainted?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

oh my goodness pancakes

As I wait for the perfect spray-painting conditions, I shall share a new (to me!) breakfast secret: pancakes with additives.

This morning, as I was whipping up the regular old pancake batter (which is awesome on its own!), I had the hankerin' to fill my girls' tummies with more healthiness without adding more items on their plate to eat. So I mashed a banana into the batter and tossed in a handful of rolled oats. Oh, I dribbled in a little vanilla, too, because I felt like it. Why haven't I done this before?? They gobbled them up and kept asking for more!

Watch out, my girls. Mommy's gonna start hiding stuff in your foods more often!

Do any of you have some awesome hiding-good-stuff-in-regular-food secrets? Anything in mac-and-cheese would be wondrous...

windy, much?

It's been roughly a week, now, since I acquired an empty wood frame, an oval mirror (yes! for above my dresser), and a vintage wooden high chair. (Thank you, Craigslist & a garage sale.) I have a lot of painting on my to-do list, and I can hardly wait to get to it!

You can expect full posts of each project soon. Right now I'm just trying to defy the high winds and spray some paint anyway.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...