Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Planning a First Birthday Party

I'm starting to plan Seb's second birthday, and so I've been thinking a lot about his first birthday party. I know it may be silly to go overboard with a party for a baby because he won't remember, but really, it was a celebration for all of us that we made it through the first year.

We had his birthday party at our house. It was the beginning of May, and I couldn't guarantee an outdoor party so I picked out his most fun toys and set them up all over our living room.

Despite my best efforts to not go crazy, once we included family, close friends, and neighbours, there were still quite a few people to invite. I suppose that's a good thing. He has many people who love him. This year will be smaller, however. If for no other reason than my parents are out of the country. lol

Invites - I ordered a custom chalkboard style invitation on Etsy and loved it. This one is similar.

Again, I'm sure an email would have been just fine, but I love that this invite is a special keepsake about him around the time of his first birthday. After I was sent the PDF, Rob had them printed downtown, and I had leftover envelopes from Sebastian's baptism that fit perfectly. And because I'm all crafty like that (haha), I designed personalized labels to seal the envelopes. Here's a pic:

How to design your own envelope seal:
1. Stamp your baby's hand on a blank piece of paper with black ink. You can find baby safe ink that washes easily at craft stores.
2. Take a picture of the hand stamp and crop it to just around the hand. (My husband did some fancy programming work to make one of the fingers green for '1', but that's really not necessary).
3. Using a label template in Microsoft Word (I used Avery 5160), insert the picture of the hand in one corner, add the text you want or even another picture if you'd like.
4. Repeat for all of the labels you need.

I don't know if anyone other than us and the grandparents even knew that was actually a pic of Seb's hand on the envelope seal, but I knew and felt that the personalized touch was special.

We didn't have a theme for his birthday, so I just tried to make things colourful and party-esque. We put up balloons around the windows, and relied on the colourful food to decorate our living room. I loaded up our digital frame with pictures from S' first year, and I also ordered this amazing 'My Favourite Things' chalkboard poster  from Moulage Collection that matched our invitations. 

The poster now hangs in our craft room where we have a new chalkboard wall so it works. I see that the Etsy store where I bought it now sells canvas versions which are equally cute and probably more durable.

Food and Drinks
My friend makes the yummies cupcakes (if you're in the GTA and want her info, let me know), so I hired her to make the cupcakes for S' birthday. I had some big ones and some mini ones, and they were gobbled up. Other food I served included meatballs, a pasta salad, nachos and dip, applesauce, Veggiesticks, a veggie rainbow platter, and a fruit rainbow platter. I served water for the babies and wine/beer for the adults.

1 year olds don't really need games at their party. They played with the toys and generally crawled around being cute. I had 2 activities for the adults:
1. We asked guests to bring an item to the party to put into a time capsule for Sebastian that he will open on his 18th birthday. It was really fun to see what people brought, and I think it will be absolutely amazing to give him this gift when he turns 18. We have only just gotten around to packing it all up and made a video explaining each item and who gifted it to him. I instagrammed it here.
2. I had a bin of 5 items (a book, a football, a teddy bear, a circuit board, and a 20$ bill) and asked everyone to write down their guess as to which item S would choose when I hand him the bin, and I had a prize for the winner. The fun is to think his selection may have something to do with his future career. (FYI - he chose the football.)

I like giving just one item as a party favour, so the babies each got a pair of BabyLegs. I wrapped them in a muslin bag I had stamped with their name on it and added a little gift tag that said thank you from S. For the older kids, I got them each a comic from our local comic store. I'm thinking of giving everyone a little book and teddy bear bookmark this year. The ones I got are no longer available, but these Peter Rabbit ones from the same Etsy store are adorable.

To catch all of the special moments, I found this to be a great list of all the pictures to try and take the day of the party. My favourite one is below (inspired by this pin) and was actually taken after everyone had gone home. But that's life; we celebrate with others, but it was the three of us that made it through that first year together.


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Essential Items for Post-Partum Recovery

So, you've had a baby and are now caring for it constantly. 24/7. 100% of the time. Even if your husband is helping as much as he can and you have family nearby, all of your focus is likely on le petit bébé, which is totally understandable. Let me also just quickly remind you that you have just put your body through an extremely overwhelming experience. You need to take care of you too, mama. It was nearly two years ago, but are the things I found most useful to help me with my post-partum recovery.

I love you buddy, but I got take care of mama too! xo
1. A Sitz Bath - I was able to borrow one of these from a friend, and it was great. I just added warm water and tried to sit on it for 15 minutes 2 or 3 times a day. Usually it was 10 or 15 minutes when I knew someone else was taking care of Seb, and I got a few minutes alone, but sometimes I did it while nursing if that's what worked.

2. Earth Mama Angel Baby Mama Bottom Balm - I used this balm to help heal my episiostomy. It was cooling and also helped with any post-partum hemorrhoids. This company is wonderful because they focus on creating products for mamas and babies that are gentle and natural which is exactly what my body needed right after giving birth.

3. Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray - I have no idea if this spray did anything to help the healing after birth but it smelled lovely and felt nice, so I liked it.

4. Tucks - I went through one box of these during the post-partum recovery days. Soaked in witch hazel, they were another key item to have in stock after birth.

5. Betaderm - I may get a little heat on this one, but I'm putting it out there in case it helps someone. About a week after S was born, I got PUPPS. Imagine the worst, burning, itchy body rash ever covering your arms, legs, and stomach. PUPPS affects about 5% of pregnant women, and you can read how my cousin-in-law dealt with PUPPS while pregnant here.  I was the lucky one who got this after Seb was born which, according to my dermatologist, is extremely rare (and the last thing I had energy to deal with having a newborn at home). He prescribed Betaderm. It finally offered me relief, and I was still able to nurse while using it. (I am starting to recover from it in the pic above, but if you look closely, you can still see a bit of how this rash had covered my arms).

6. Water, snacks, and a Kobo or Kindle - These three items were essential while nursing!

7. Sleep - I spoke a bit about how I struggled with the lack of sleep post-partum here. I know it's hard, but without a doubt, sleep is something that will help your body, and mind, heal after giving birth. Do what you can to try and get some sleep.

What would you add to this list?