Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 31: Happy Birthday, Isla!

Today was Isla's big first birthday.  It wasn't a super exciting day, as most of the fun is planned for her party on Saturday.  And she is too young to really get excited about a birthday.  But we tried to do a few things to make it a special day.

We went to Mcdonald's for lunch.  This was probably much more special for Audrey than it was Isla, but Isla still ate her share of chicken nuggets and french fries.
After dinner tonight, we sang Happy Birthday to her, and then we all ate ice cream (we're saving the cake for Saturday's party).  Isla has had ice cream before, so this wasn't a new treat.  But she still loved it!  She was like a bird with her mouth wide open long before the spoon was in reach.

I was not planning to buy Isla a birthday present.  She is too young to understand, she will get plenty of presents on Saturday, and we are already spending too much money on her party.  But then I just thought it was sad that she wouldn't have anything at all to open on her actual birthday.  So Audrey and I picked out a Baby Einstein DVD for her at Target this afternoon.  Audrey also made a card for her. 

Here's a little glimpse at how much she has grown over the past year:

And here are a couple of comparisons of Audrey and Isla at 12 months old.

Tomorrow, after Isla's doctor's appointment, I will post her 12 month stats and updates along with her 12 month Raggedy Ann pictures.  Then it is party time on Saturday!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30: A Beautiful Day

 It was such a beautiful day today.  Perfectly sunny with highs in the upper 70s and a slight breeze.  Just gorgeous!  I've said it before and I will say it again: I need to live somewhere where the weather is like this every day!

We enjoyed some time outside this evening playing with sidewalk chalk and being silly!

Oh my goodness, I can't believe this little girl will turn one year old tomorrow!  I'm feeling much more sentimental about this birthday than I did with Audrey's first birthday.  Maybe because I am pretty sure this will be my last baby.  Maybe because I better understand now how quickly time flies.  Maybe because Audrey and Daniel were sick the week before her first birthday, and there was no time for sentimentality was just survival mode!  Regardless, this is definitely a bittersweet milestone for me.  I'm excited for all that lies ahead in her future, but I'm so sad that she won't be my little baby anymore!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29: Birthday Party Disclaimer

We're starting to see a lot of pink and yellow around here as Isla's first birthday party preparations are well under way.  Her pink lemonade party is this Saturday, and it's going to be lots of fun!

In the past, I've received several comments from other moms about my parties, along the lines of:  "Your parties are so great.  You are such an amazing mom.  I'm a bad mom because I don't plan big parties for my kids."

Before I post pictures and details about this weekend's party, I feel like I need to explain myself a little on this because it just bothers me that people would think that.  I don't plan parties because I am an amazing mom.  I don't think throwing fancy parties equals being an amazing mom.  I'm sure you could throw a box of pizza on the table and sing happy birthday and be just as good a mom (or a much better mom) as the one who throws the most elaborate parties on the planet. 

While I do like the idea of making birthdays special for my kids and creating memories for them (even if they only remember the parties through pictures), the main reason that I throw elaborate themed parties is because I like to do it.  I love party planning; it's really just fun for me to take a theme and put it all together.  I consider it a hobby of mine, and it is something that I think about and look forward to all year long.  My reasons for party planning are really pretty selfish!

Audrey is at a point where she likes birthday parties a lot.  She is very, very interested in what kind of party she is going to have when she turns four (we're thinking Mary Poppins right now or maybe Snow White).  If she or Isla ever get to a point where they don't want a big themed party, I will be more than happy to oblige and step back.  We are not to that point yet though, so I just keep planning away!  =)

I also do try to keep to a budget and not go TOO overboard with my parties.  With that said, I'm going to be a bit overbudget with Isla's party (Remind me next year not to make a favor that requires jelly beans.  Holy cow, those things are expensive!).  When all is said and done, it will cost us about $250-300 to throw this party (I was hoping to keep it closer to $200).  That includes the invites, decorations, favors, lunch, dessert and drinks for 30 people.  Some people may think that is way too much, and then I know there are others who think that is super cheap!  I think it is a fairly reasonable amount considering all that I am planning to do, but it is also the most that I would ever be willing to spend on a party.  After all, it is just a party.  It will last for a couple of hours, everyone will make a big mess, and then it's over!  I do try to keep everything reasonable, and I am often looking for bargains all year long in preparation for a party. 

Anyway, the purpose of this post is just to explain:  I don't think I'm a good mom because I plan big birthday parties. I'm not trying to be a good mom by planning big birthday parties.  I just like to plan them.  The end.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 27: Bathroom After Pictures

Finally, I am ready to post the after pictures of our bathroom refresher.  I can't call it a remodel or renovation, because there is SO much more that could be fixed/changed in this room.  So this was just like a little refresher to cosmetically make it look better. 

And it looks so much better!  It's been a couple of months since we first started this project and got rid of all the purple.  Oh my, I forgot how horrid all that purple stuff was until I looked at these pictures again!  I sold all of the purple towels and accessories in our garage sale, so it is officially purged from our house forever.

We got rid of the yucky black box in the wall, and we don't miss it at all!  Maybe someday we will put a toilet paper holder on the wall, so we can get rid of the free-standing one.  But for now, this works!

We also put new trim all around the room.  We had two different kinds of trim in there, and some of it was in pretty bad shape.  Putting in new trim also allowed us to put trim around the bottom of the vanity.  The wood at the bottom was starting to disintegrate.  Like I said, this was just a cosmetic refresher not a real fix, so we just put the trim on top of the wood to make it look better.  The whole vanity really needs to be replaced, but with the trim, some fresh paint and new knobs it is definitely an improvement.

I might hang something on this wall in the future, though I kind of like the clean look of the empty wall.  We got rid of the shelf that was really serving no purpose except to collect dirt and dust!

There you have it!  This project did end up being a little more expensive than I originally budgeted.  I understimated the cost of buying new towels.  I just bought two hand towels and a couple of bath towels and washcloths.  But add that in with a new shower curtain and a new rug and a few decorative accents, and it added up more quickly than I expected!  I think we spent around $250 for everything, which is not too shabby for such a great visual improvement.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 26: Just Another Lazy Saturday?

So this is the last Saturday for a long time that we had nothing on the agenda.  It is shaping up to be a CRAZY summer, and the craziness starts with Isla's birthday party next Saturday.  This weekend is our last weekend of freedeom, before the hectic schedule takes over our lives!  But even with nothing scheduled today, we still ended up staying busy all day long.

We started with a trip to the donut shop.  (Even though I talk about eating healthy on this blog, we still cheat a lot!).  This was Isla's first taste of donut, and I think she was a fan! =)
Then we headed to the downtown Farmer's Market.  I think everyone had more fun than it looks like they are having in this picture.
We came home and started on some late spring cleaning projects around the house.  Audrey is very interested in helping with cleaning projects lately.  Today, she helped wipe down all the baseboards and woodwork. 
After lunch, Daniel and Isla ran a few errands and Audrey and I went outside to play in the sprinkler again.
Later in the afternoon, I was cleaning the kitchen, and Audrey was begging to help me!  So I let her put the dishes in the dishwasher...she is such a great helper, though her help is not always so helpful!

Both girls took a two hour nap around 4:00, which is not that unusual for Isla but extremely unusual for Audrey.  We let them sleep as long as they wanted, because we knew it was going to be a late night.

Then after dinner, we went to a little get together at Adam and Lindsey's house, where Audrey got to play in the sprinkler again and eat ice cream (in a pink cone, her favorite color!).
I didn't take many pictures of Isla today.  But pretty much all day long, when she wasn't sleeping or eating, you could find her scooting around by our feet and getting into everything!

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25: One Year Ago...

One year ago today I was first put on bed rest due to low amniotic fluid, six days before Isla was born!  I remember that week before she was born (and the week after her birth) so vividly.  Probably because all I did was sit around and think, and then I wrote out all of my thoughts on the blog.  There was so much uncertainty and wondering and waiting during those six days.  And then baby Isla was here!

So, one year later, here sits that little baby who caused us so much worry!
 She is playing with a game that I am making for our upcoming summer preschool event at church, Kid City.  I am in charge of the grocery store room, where the kids come and play and learn about how God takes care of us and gives us food.  I found these super cute plastic berry baskets at Target today, and I am way excited about them.  They are going to work perfectly for the fruit/veggie color sorting game that I am planning!

 Here she is on the go!  She is scooting without her arms a lot these days.  She puts both legs to one side like this and scoots forward.  Then she will switch to the other side and go that way for a while.  She is starting to get really fast at this scooting thing, especially on the hardwood floors!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24: The Sprinkler, Finally!

Audrey is obsessed with sprinklers.

Last year, I bought a cheap sprinkler.  Audrey wasn't sure about it at first, and by the time she warmed up to it, the cheap thing broke!  We never bought a new sprinkler, but Audrey never forgot the few minutes that she played in that sprinkler.

For the past 6 months or so, Audrey has been looking at and talking about this picture from last summer:
She has been asking over and over again, "When do I get to play in the sprinkler again?  I really want to play in the sprinkler."  I have been telling her, "When it is summertime, then you can play in the sprinkler."

A few weeks ago, Lindsey invited Audrey over to play in the sprinkler with her boys.  It was the best afternoon for Audrey.  They had two sprinklers, a little one and a big one.  Audrey has not stopped talking about those sprinklers!  (She also go to eat ice cream, so that helped in making it a super fun afternoon for her).

So this morning, I told Audrey that it was summertime today.  (High of 90 degrees, schools getting out this week...I think that makes it summer).  Audrey immediately said, "Now I can play in the sprinkler?"  After I told her yes, she ran out of the room for a minute.  She came back carrying a photo calendar of mine that is filled with pictures of the girls.  She opened up to the month of June, and there was the above picture of her and her sprinkler.  "This is what our sprinkler looks like," she said.  "Let's go find it!"

She was a little heartbroken when I told her that sprinkler was broken.  I told her we were going to play with Daddy's sprinkler instead.  "Not the robot sprinkler!" she said.  "I don't like that one."  (It is the sprinkler he uses to water the grass.  It is silver, and it kind of does look a bit robotic, I guess!)

Well, once it was time to play, Audrey didn't mind the robot sprinkler.  She had so much fun running through it over and over and over again!  She is so much braver than she once was.  Running barefoot through grass!  Getting water in her face and eyes!  She just laughed and laughed and had so much fun.  I have a feeling these may be the first of many Summer 2012 sprinkler pictures with Audrey.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23: Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars

I like granola bars.  I get hungry often, and if I don't eat between meals, I feel sick.  Granola bars are an easy snack to tide me over between meals. But it is hard to find a store-bought granola bar that fits with the real food rules we are trying to follow.  They all have lots of additives and sugars and even the so called "healthy" ones aren't really all that healthy.

So I decided to make my own!  I started with this recipe, and then made a bunch of changes and ended up with the recipe below.  I think they taste a lot more like a candy bar than a granola bar...definitely a treat, but at least they are a treat made with healthy ingredients.  These bars are not a low calorie treat, so you don't want to go and eat the whole pan in one sitting.  They are very filling and just a small piece is satisfying. 

Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars

1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 cups oats
1 cup puffed brown rice
1/3 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I left this out today and they were still good, but I am a fan of coconut!)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (the healthy choice here is 70% Cacao chocolate chips, but I cheated and used semi-sweet)

Melt the peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over medium heat.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir well.  Spread in a 9x13 pan and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until hardened. Cut into bars and enjoy!  (I got about 18 bars out of this recipe).

It is best to keep the bars stored in the refrigerator.  Otherwise, they will become a chewy, gooey (but still delicious!) mess.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22: Piano Recital

Tonight was my spring piano recital for my piano students.  I think this was the seventh recital that I have done with my students here.  I only have one student left from my original "class" of students, as the door to the piano lesson world seems to be constantly revolving.  Right now, I have a fairly small group of students (eight), and they have all been with me for a few years now.  It is kind of fun, because I have no beginner students so some of these students are getting to the level where they can play some really fun music!

Once we got all the students on stage for a picture, we noticed that they all color coordinated!  Funny!

 It's getting to be the time of year when I start thinking back to what we were doing one year ago today reminiscing about Isla's birth day.  Last year's recital was on May 17, exactly two weeks before Isla was born.  Everyone kept telling me (based on the size of my belly), there is no way you are ready to have that baby.  Little did they (we) know, baby Isla was just about ready to make her appearance!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 20: Isla's New Dress

Today, Isla wore one of her new dresses that I bought at the garage sale on Friday.  She got lots of compliments on her dress at church today, and everyone was surprised that it was a 50 cent garage sale find!

 Photography note:  If you notice a difference between the top two pictures and the rest of the pictures, it is because I turned off the flash.  First, I used the camera's built in flash (something I really don't like to use because it creates harsh shadows and unnatural looking light).  So I decided to turn it off and see if I could get a decent picture.  I knew the light was not ideal, as it was coming from the door behind her that was kind of far away, and I would prefer for it to be coming from a source in front of her and a little closer.  But I was able to get a few pictures (by increasing the ISO and lowering the shutter speed and changing to a wider aperture, if you care about that stuff), even if they aren't the greatest quality.
She is cruising all over the place these days.  This was the first time I have ever seen her move from the bench to the wall.
 From the wall, she really wanted to keep cruising, but she ran out of things to grab and support herself.
 Until Mommy reached out her hand and gave her support to keep moving!  She loves to be on the move!
 She also loves to look out the front door. 
 And she loves to stick out her tongue.
Aw, she is just so cute.  And so sweet.  And so smart.  And so funny.  How is it possible that she is almost one?  I'm feeling very sentimental about my little baby growing up, so be prepared for lots of rambling posts from me about her in the coming weeks leading up to her first birthday!