It’s so cliche and I know I probably say it every month, but geez louise how is my baby almost a year old already?

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Jack has never been the most ambitious of babies. He took his time learning to roll over, sit unassisted, and he doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to crawl (which is a-okay with me), but lately he’s pretty insistent on being on his belly whenever possible. I lay him on his back and he flips right over. He can pivot all around in circles and even scootch backwards a little, though I think the latter is more a side effect of pushing up on his arms and sliding rather than an intentional mode of transportation. This morning Nick sat him in the crib for a moment and when he came back Jack was standing! Time to lower the mattress, I suppose, though I’m not too alarmed because he has yet to pull himself into a sitting position on his own. It’s so fun to watch all these big motor skills unfold, and I’m a big believer that they should be allowed to develop naturally instead of taught or encouraged by parents. He has two teeth on the bottom and two coming in up top, has been sleeping through the night for a month or two, and eats a LOT. Last week we went to lunch with several other moms and babies and he ate another baby’s cheerios, the sliced avocado I ordered for him, a couple of my sweet potato fries, the last little bit of my hamburger, and two of the other babies’ leftover avocado! I don’t know where he puts all that food because there’s not a fat roll to be found on him. Maybe he’s got a tapeworm, haha. Just kidding. I know where it all goes because I change his diapers and they are disgusting. Yay cloth diapers!

This is a really sweet age in that he’s old enough to sit up, play, eat, etc., but he’s not yet mobile enough to be into everything. I’m definitely savoring every moment. The days are long but the years are short.

How to Clean for a Party (the good enough method)

I am not the most fastidious housekeeper. You know this about me. But in a few weeks I’m hosting a baby shower for my friend Cassie and lots of ladies I don’t know very well will be here and I’d like to project at least an illusion of responsible adulthood. I’ve been googling how to make it happen and here’s what I found:

1) Focus on what the guests will see. For this party, that means the living room, dining room, and downstairs bathroom. In those rooms I’ll dust, clean all the pet hair off the furniture, wash the curtains (again with the pet hair), and give the floors a good detailed vacuum.

2) Declutter. For the most part, an uncluttered space looks clean from afar and a cluttered space looks junky even if there’s not a speck of dust. So I’m gradually working through the entire downstairs to put things away and clear piles that may have accumulated. It’s especially important to focus on the entryway, since this is what folks see first.

3) Take your time. I am not one for marathon cleaning sessions spread over 1-2 days. My house was a wreck when we got back from Texas a few weeks ago and I’ve been gradually getting it back into shape little by little. I’m cleaning for the party the same way–I already dusted and vacuumed under and behind the living room and dining room furniture, so the day before the party I can just do a quick pass again. I’ve got a big list written out of things I want to do and I’ll try to knock off a couple each week.

4) Wipe smudges. This one is a biggie in our house for some reason. Smudges of dirt on doors, stair railings, and light switches look really bad, but they’re super easy to clean. It’s so satisfying to go around the house with a magic eraser and have all those spots we touch every day looking good again in no time (I already did this too).

5) Bring in reinforcements. I haaaaate cleaning bathrooms. Hate hate hate it. And the truth is that I am just not detail-oriented enough to do a really good job. I’m thinking of bringing in a cleaning lady just to tackle the bathrooms. This is more cost-effective than hiring someone to clean the whole house, especially since the lady I have in mind charges by the hour. I could get two hours’ worth of cleaning for about $30.

My entire house will definitely not be spotless for the shower, but it’ll at least look good enough that I’m not embarrassed. And the truth is that I enjoy living in a clean house! We deserve to have a home that’s clean and comfortable. If I could afford it I’d totally hire a cleaning lady to come every week (and someone to mow the lawn, too) so we could spend less time maintaining our home and more time enjoying it, but even without help I can keep my home looking nice by just doing a little bit every day (and maybe shutting the door to a room or two).

image from here

I’ve been searching for the perfect blanket to fold over the back of my office/playroom sofa for months. The top cushions are a favorite spot for all three of our pets because, hello, it’s a cushy spot right in front of the window (it’s also the ideal vantage point from which to await our arrival home). I finally found a solution I’m really happy with, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!

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My friend and blog sponsor Brandi asked if I wanted an old dropcloth she had no use for and I gladly accepted it, thinking I was sure to find something to do with it (I’ve used dropcloths for all sorts of projects, like a floorcloth, a slipcover, a pouf, upholstery fabric, window shades, and Christmas stockings). When I got it from her I realized that it was huge! I started to fold it up on the office rug so I could store it neatly when I realized it could be folded to pretty much the exact dimensions I needed for a blanket. I laid it over the sofa and WOOPWOOP it looked great! I really like the more subtle tone-on-tone look. It’s like a little visual vacation as your eye travels up from the high-contrast rug.

The couch is covered in a washable slipcover, but the cushions are such a pain to wrestle in and out of their covers that I really only wash it every few months. The dropcloth can easily be pulled off every few weeks for a quick wash to keep things looking nice. Plus when I have something special coming up (like the baby shower that I’m hosting in two weeks) I can wash the slipcover ahead of time and then spread the dropcloth across the whole sofa to keep pet hair from accumulating before the big day. Dropcloths are really soft once they’ve been washed a few times and you can pick them up for cheap cheap cheap at hardware stores or online. The fabric actually looks and feels a lot like linen! And someday if I get tired of this arrangement the dropcloth will be free fabric for me to use in other projects. Winning!

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend! We were busy busy busy–between a crawfish boil with friends and a day trip to visit family I really didn’t get much done at all around the house! I may or may not have absolutely nothing to blog about this week. We’ll see how productive I am today!

Let’s be honest. First birthday parties are not about the babies. They’re about the parents. It’s a chance for the parents to say, “We’ve successfully cared for this tiny tyrant for an entire year, cheers to seventeen more!” I told myself that I couldn’t start planning Jack’s first birthday party until I submitted my LCSW application–I completed my practice hours over a year ago but had never gotten around to applying for the exam! Well a few weeks ago I finally got the last of my paperwork together and Jack and I drove across town to deliver it by hand to the state social work board. Then I went home and promptly began pinteresting party ideas! Here’s what I’m envisioning:

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Sources from top to bottom: swoon events, dreamlite photography, go graham go, moulage collection, sweet treats boutique

I love the idea of cupcakes. It’s good portion control for tummies big and small and Jack can have one of his very own without requiring a dedicated “smash cake.” My sister is an excellent baker and agreed to try her hand at this healthier recipe (bonus: it looks delicious!). I’m really not into anything “themed,” so I think I’ll stick to simple decor. If I can get myself organized enough to order prints I’d love to have a bunch of photos clipped to a clothesline showing Jack from in utero to today. I will definitely take advantage of this free printable to add a little flair to the cupcake of honor, especially since it ties into the colors I’m liking (blue, yellow, and green, the same colors I used in Jack’s nursery and in more muted shades throughout the rest of the house). And I could totally try my hand at some pretty lettering on a chalkboard to memorialize some of Jack’s stats (or outsource it to my friend Cassie, who is really good at that sort of thing). As for food, I’m thinking simple summer fare like sandwiches, potato salad, hummus, guacamole, fruit kabobs, and a cheese tray. We’ll probably just invite immediate family and close friends, and celebrate with extended family a week later when we see them for the Fourth of July.

Happy Friday, y’all! It’s a beautiful day in Baton Rouge and Jack and I are planning on making the most of it! I hope you do too!