Archives For On a Personal Note…

Guess what we’re doing today!

road trip

I used to hate road trips. But married life is pretty great in that it allows you to settle into your respective strengths and preferences. Nick does all the driving and actually insists that I keep myself occupied with my phone or laptop or book so I’m not tempted to nag him about his following distance or wince every time I think we’re about to die a fiery death on the interstate (which is often. I’m a nervous passenger). So he drives and I take advantage of the rare opportunity to spend the day immersed in daydreams and social media without an ounce of guilt. During this trip I’ve been dreaming of our next house. We plan to stay put for a few more years, but before Jack starts kindergarten we’d like to move back to the New Orleans Northshore suburbs to be closer to family and good public schools. We may build, we may buy, but either way it’s fun to fantasize about all the features I’d love to see included. A wraparound porch is definitely a must, as is a mudroom and a big yard for lots of plants and pets (in this daydream money also grows on trees).

So anyway, I’m out for today. I hope you all had a fabulous weekend and, as always, thanks for reading!

Last Saturday was Jack’s first birthday. It was kind of a big deal for us, obviously. First birthdays are definitely as much about the parents as they are the babies. That first year is so intense and emotional and demanding–marking the end of it is part sigh of relief, part mourning the tiny newborn that grew so fast, part celebration of the toddler your baby has become.

Anyway, we wanted to have a small party at our house with friends and family. We kept it simple with a cold lunch, cupcakes, and easy decorations (not pictured below: the cheese plate I forgot to pull out of the fridge until later). I used mostly white ceramic dishware I already had and scattered a bunch of tissue paper confetti around the table. I made things easy on myself with disposable plates and forks, but at least I opted for the recycled content plates for a few cents more.

simple first birthday

I covered the table with a canvas painter’s dropcloth (the same one that I keep folded up on the back of the couch in the playroom/office), and just tossed a tea towel over a cardboard box to make a little stand for the cupcakes. My sister cut off part of a foil muffin pan to make a little pedestal for the birthday boy’s cupcake to sit slightly above the rest.

easy cupcake stand

The only other decoration was this fun photo garland. I forgot to take a picture of it before the party but it was still up the next morning. I got a bunch of pictures printed at CVS and hung them up in chronological order with some clothespins and string. I actually printed 64 pictures total but only 24 went up on the garland. After the party I put them all into an album–I didn’t keep a baby book but this is almost as good. The album I bought* has enough space that I can do this for the next two years and by Jack’s third birthday I’ll have an album of his baby/toddler years from beginning to end (that’s the album sitting on the ledge there).

birthday photo timeline

Jack seemed to have a really good time visiting with all his baby friends, not to mention the doting grandparents. I think he knew it was his party.

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My sister made the cupcakes–pineapple carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting (and all of it sweetened with agave instead of sugar). I printed out the “1″ circle from here and glued it onto a bamboo skewer to make Jack’s cupcake a little extra special.

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I’d say he was a fan! I was too. Those cupcakes were delicious for something so healthy. I’ll link to the recipe below.

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Friends with older babies tipped us off that opening presents usually does not go well with a room full of toddlers, so we waited until there were just a few family members and close friends lingering and helping clean up before tearing into the gifts. By then the birthday boy had been stripped out of his cake-covered outfit and he and his two baby BFF’s had fun playing with his new toys. I made sure to jot down who gave us what so I could send a thank you note to all the folks who weren’t there to see us open their gifts.

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My mom’s side of the family always gets together for the Fourth of July so we held off to celebrate with them on the holiday instead of asking them to drive over an hour for the party at our house. It was kind of up in the air yesterday what we were going to do because my grandpa was in the hospital, but my parents ended up hosting everyone at their house and we had so much fun. We took some time out from celebrating America to pull out an angel food cake with whipped cream and fruit and sing Jack happy birthday. I think he is really liking this birthday business–he gets to eat cake! He got some more cool toys and cute clothes and was spoiled with hugs and kisses and cuddles all around.

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In case you’ve got a kids’ party of your own coming up and are at a loss for what to serve, here’s our menu:

  • Finger sandwiches (turkey, ham, roast beef, and egg salad on white and wheat bread). An electric knife borrowed from my sister made these easy to make ourselves and the egg salad (cheaper than lunch meat) helped stretch our budget while also providing an option for our friends who don’t eat meat.
  • Potato salad made by Nick’s mom
  • Guacamole with tortilla chips
  • Hummus with cut veggies (carrots, cucumber, celery, snap peas, and broccoli) and pita bread
  • Cubed cheddar, monterey jack, and pepper jack cheese
  • Fruit kabobs–chopped kiwi, strawberries, cantaloupe, and blueberries on bamboo skewers that I arranged in a glass cylinder vase
  • Carrot and pineapple cupcakes with cream cheese icing
  • Tea punch, soft drinks, beer, and ice water to drink

Altogether we spent about $150. Not bad, I think! Everything was going smoothly until half of the guests fell violently ill the next day. Apparently I was carrying some sort of stomach virus that I passed onto almost everybody through the food I’d lovingly prepared. At least one person from each family got sick on Sunday, and the rest of them caught it from each other in the following days. I felt so terrible! Next time I cook for a crowd I’ll be scrubbing my arms up to my elbows like a surgeon for fear of getting everyone sick again.

*affiliate link

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Happy Independence Day, everybody! I’m taking some time off today to be with family. We usually do a big party at my grandparents’ house every Fourth of July but this year’s was cancelled at the last minute because my grandpa is in the hospital. He’s recently been diagnosed with cancer so please keep him in your thoughts. I’m hoping to still get to see some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins today and then tomorrow we’re headed to Atlanta to visit my two high school BFF’s Lauren and Laura! A happy holiday weekend to each of you and if I don’t manage to post from the road tomorrow then I’ll see you next week!

Photo from here

Four years ago today Nick and I tied the knot. It’s hard to believe! I don’t think I can top last year’s post, but I do want to say that having a child has been absolutely wonderful for our marriage. If things were good before then they’re great now. I think parenting brings out the best in us. And it’s been so fun to watch Nick slip into his role as a father.┬áHere’s a very bad cell phone picture of us taken last year on our anniversary. This was two days before Jack was born!

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And here we are a few weeks ago. Baby is now on the outside and I am distinctly less miserable.

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I don’t think we’ll be doing anything in particular to celebrate. We’re a little partied out between spending last weekend in New Orleans and preparing for Jack’s birthday party on Saturday. But we’ll try hard to be extra sweet to each other and maybe one night next week we’ll get a babysitter and head out to dinner with just the two of us.

Also! Pictures of Cassie, Nic, and Olive!

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Fingers crossed that they all get to go home soon! I can’t wait to give that sweet baby kisses once she’s strong enough to withstand my germs. Despite being five weeks early she is doing really well in the NICU.

Thanks for reading, y’all, and for putting up with what is turning out to be a slow week in terms of crafty and DIY projects. If Nick remembers to bring our extension cord home from his work today then I can hang my macrame plant hanger this evening and post about it tomorrow! These are the things that get me excited, haha.