Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Planning a First Birthday Party

I'm starting to plan 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 this custom chalkboard style invitation on Etsy and loved it.

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 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 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.

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

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 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?

Friday, 14 February 2014

Splendid Messy Fridays - Valentine's Day Edition

I have the day off today so this morning I made Valentine Strawberry Heart Pancakes for the boys for breakfast. Yum!

Have you ever seen the Disney short Paperman? It's a short, adorable romantic story about a man and woman who bump into each other at a train station and then the antics that bring them back together again. It won an Academy Award, so I'm not the only one who loves this video.

Last fall, Refinery 29 did a collection of the Best Love Speeches and today is the perfect day to check them out. There are some classics in here like Mr. Darcy and remember the one from Say Anything, and but my new favourite couple?? J Law and Bradley Cooper.

This week, they also wrote about 11 Healthy Guilty Pleasures that we actually should indulge in. Rob will tell you I have no problem "buying new clothes" so, score!, now there is research to support my hobby!

Want to take try out one of the guilty pleasures listed above? This is a naughty/nice  site to check out. Panty by Post is a subscription service where you get a pretty panty mailed monthly to your door. Go ahead, make the mailman blush.

And if you need a little encouragement, here's a guest post I featured last year on Sex After Baby (10 ways to get your mojo back).

Finally, since love takes many forms, today I also send love to all of my girlfriends. I hope we end up like this one day - 100 Year old BFFs sharing their thoughts on twerking, Justin Bieber, and the new iPhone operating system. 

Happy Valentine's Day :)


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Olympic Celebrations!

The Olympics are in full swing this week. I love watching the Olympics, especially the freestyle skiing, and I am keeping a close eye on our hockey teams. I'm feeling pretty proud of our Canadian athletes so far. We've had such a strong start to the games!

Here are a few things you can do to celebrate the Olympics at home. We'll be trying numbers 1, 2 and 6 at home this week so I'll probably be instagrammin' our efforts @jennasml if you want to follow along.

1. Olympic Ring Martini
I don't love white russians, but I do love champagne so this olympic ring martini looks yummy! Rob and I will sip these one night while we watch the recap of the days events in Sochi.

2. Oympic-Inspired Snacks
I love this snack idea I found on Pinterest because it is so. wicked. easy. Just find any foods that are blue, black, red, green, and yellow and you're done! S doesn't love nachos so instead of the nachos and guac, I think we'll try bananas and grapes.

3. Olympic Rings Collage Craft
S is just a bit too young for this craft, but it looks pretty cool. First you make the Olympic rings using construction paper, and then you do a colour matching activity with any other craft supplies you have on hand and make a little collage on each ring of bits and pieces that are the same colours. I think this would be fun with foam craft paper, tissue paper, pompoms, stickers, etc.

4. Julep Team Canada Nail Polish Set
This is a creative way to support Team Canada during the Olympics. They also have a Team USA set or even a Winter Games Olympic Ring set. Or maybe I'll just wear the Good as Gold Essie nailpolish I have from New Year's Eve.

5. Future Olympian Onesie
This onesie is super cute! If I knew anyone having a baby around either the summer or winter Olympics, this would make the most adorable baby shower gift.

6. Lego Ring Sorting
This activity is more at S' level right now. He loves his Duplo, and we've been practising sorting by colour so this will be a fun activity to try this week. However, I'm just going to print off coloured circles and put them on the floor to save some time.

Go Canada!


PS - Need a last minute Valentine's gift idea for your man? Check out these metallic boxers that come with gold, silver, and bronze waistbands.

PPS - In my Olympic searching, I found out my bday is during the next summer Olympics in Brazil. I'm thinking this would be a super fun way to celebrate. I just need to find a beach....

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Les petits plaisirs - Anista Designs

It's not a secret that I love pretty stationery. Beautiful paper, stickers, and cards make me happy. Today I want to share with you one of my favourite places to shop for these goodies. Anista Designs is an Etsy store that sells luxury vintage-inspired invitations and paper accessories. Christa (the talent behind Anista Designs) also has a beautiful boutique in Oakville, Ontario (that I can't wait to visit this summer!).

 All I have to say is that Rob is lucky that I didn't find out about this Etsy shop before we got married. Christa specializes in exquisite wedding invitations, and I'm certain I wouldn't have been able to resist these beautiful invites when I was looking for my own. They are so elegant, they have even been featured in Vogue UK (that's right, the Vogue!). Shown here, the Lillian Collection.

I also really love these Will you be my bridesmaid? cards. I didn't have a card for that when I was planning my wedding, I just asked my girlfriends when I saw them next (sorry ladies!), but I'm pretty sure these cards would have made it more special.

She also has some beautiful options for baby shower or baby birthday invitations and gift tags. These are my favourites.

I've actually bought these 'make a wish' vintage notecards and used them for birthday cards or when I'm writing to my chemo patient.

And because it's February, here are my picks for Valentine's Day. I would use these to finish decorating a gift bag, or I would even use the second one as a bookmark. I really love the corset tags below. Anything with a touch of Paris is so pretty.

It's always wonderful to support handmade, unique goods and Christa sincerely builds relationships with each of her customers. From sending past clients Christmas cards, to including treats in her orders just as a 'thank you', Christa and everything about Anista Designs is truly delightful.