Perfect Party

FINALLY! Yes, I’m finally going to chat about the Hadman’s first birthday party. It was almost a month away, so you’d think it was about time, right? You’re invited…to the recap! Here we go.

The day was perfect. Seriously. There were no major glitches (and only a couple of minor ones). The rain, all but for a gentle mist, even stayed at bay. Lucky, lucky, lucky. The only thing, after the fact, that saddens me is that I didn’t get pictures of the decor (well, a couple)…or food (nada)…or activities (zilch). I know folks took some pictures of other stuff, but I should have taken a bunch of the decorations (y’know, the ones that took me hours of nap times to craft) and all that before folks arrived. Here’s what we’ve got….


Bad blogger. Horrible blogger, actually. *slaps wrist* I made three different sizes of poufs totaling about 12 altogether, in various sizes…several strings of pendants…a sign for the front yard. Here were a few “before” shots from home…

But, I digress. It wasn’t a day about me. It was totally a day about the Hadman. And it was awesome!

The celebration was at my mother’s house (thanks, Mom! Not that I’m sure you’re reading…?) since she has the most useable space for such a shindig. My sister was sweet enough to come out the night before to help with decorating and setup, and man was there food. Like, at least twice what we actually needed. Yeah, ’twas nuts…and a blast.

We had some awesome family and friends come to celebrate, which made the day so fun and special. To give us some more space (with some shade), we erected a screen house/tent in the lawn for extra people to sit under, in addition to the carport area that my parents use as a nice, private patio.

So, folks arrived around 1pm and we directed them towards the food. (Not sure how many times I said, “There’s food! Please eat, or it’s going home with you!!” It didn’t. It went home with us. Full disclosure: I just found a half-eaten pizza at the bottom of the piles on my dining room table. There was mold, people.) The funny thing was that they lingered quite a bit before finally digging in. I don’t know if it was because of our set-up or what, but we ended up grabbing the snacky stuff and throwing them in bowls, and plating up a variety of the pizza, and putting them at the tables. Somehow, it worked.

That said, a quick shout-out to our buddies. The few pictures we did get make it look like we had, seriously, 8 people there. We didn’t. It was upwards of 25, give or take. Just lots of playing and in-and-out of the house and playing in the yard going on.

I can’t remember the order, but after awhile of eating and bringing the birthday boy around to see folks, we did cake. I think. Yeah, cake then presents. Here’s a little snippet of what it was like. Our often very serious, cautious, (over-thinking) boy was pretty…dainty. Hee hee.

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First. Sugar. Ever. I also shared a cupcake or two with him in the days following. Oh, and I did use a variation of this recipe. I tasted it. ‘Twas good, but not “birthday cake-like” (spongey) as we might hope. But, it got the job done, and he liked it.

While the root beer floats were being served (somehow, I even had time to taste one), we got the gift-opening underway. Holy crap, we lucked out. It is, however, where I got this post (and subsequent “shopping trips” from our ottoman in months to come). Love it!

As far as the nitty gritty, here was our menu:


Except my “H” cookies were as hard as a rock. And seeing “sandwiches” sitting all innocent and tiny like that makes me laugh. For real. I ordered bread. I stocked up, then stocked up again on piles of roast beef, turkey and the makings of an “Italian mixed sub” sort of thing. (Time to vote: What the heck do YOU put on a mixed sub?? The girl behind the counter and I were racking our brains, and a woman nearby who mentioned bologna lost all of our respect. Seriously, bologna??) Yeah. Add on homemade horseradish sauce (in addition to the usual condiments) and a variety of cheeses AND lettuces (arugula, anyone? Spinach?), and I spent hours planning and assembling those puppies. They were epic.

There was a bit of fun to be had, too, like…

We also printed off some facts about July 13th (it’s a holiday now, y’know) for the tables, and put party hats around for folks to wear. (And those that didn’t get worn did double-duty as decor.)

A few interesting facts: Hadley shares his special day with Julius Caesar, Patrick Stewart, Harrison Ford, and Cameron Crowe. Some pretty strong men, oof! Also, it’s the day that JFK was nominated by the Democratic party, the day of the Live Aid rock festival, the day of a big power-outage in NYC (in 1977) that wreaked havoc, and (my favorite) the day the “Hollywoodland” sign was dedicated. So cool!

Anyhoo, after the cake and gifting, we shoved everyone into the living room for a viewing of the sweet, tearjerker video that Dave made. I may or may not be able to persuade him to share it on his blog. πŸ˜‰ There were laughs. There were tears (many, many tears). There was gratuitous thievery of popular songs (ones that we had sung or heard a lot before he was born, except for “Beautiful Boy”, but since our wedding song was “Real Love”, we had to include it). No harm meant. πŸ™‚

After the movie viewing, folks were free to leave (sounds like jail) or to hang out. The birthday boy got a nap followed by a ton of backyard playing with the cousins, while we got to chat with folks more casually (and clean up…and clean up…and clean up). All in all, it was a very “Hadley” day: fun, yummy, silly, a bit scheduled (it kind of had to be to avoid meltdowns) yet casual and laid-back.

Mister Roboto

We recently got a so-sweet birthday card for Hadley from our kind-hearted elderly neighbor, along with a $5 bill and a shakily scrolled note that said “piggy bank.” I teared up, it was so touching!

So, since we’ve received a couple of banks which I consider to be more collectible than everyday use (maybe as he gets older, we can pull one out to use…but if he’s “all boy” as he currently is, that may be when he goes to college!), I tucked into the back of my memory that we should keep an eye out for a cheap-ish bank. We’re all about teaching about money and savings early on (even though I’ve still had a tough time, myself, getting into the budgeting habit, sigh.)

Enter Target, stage left.

About a week later, we were perusing the shelves for some small housely changes and this guy jumped out at us. (Not literally. That would’ve been creepy.)


So, so cute!! And so $12.99! (That was just in the store; I found it on clearance for $4.54 online. Dude.) I thought that was a tad better than an heirloom, so if (when?) it takes a spill one day, I won’t cry. Er. As much. I’ll still get upset ‘cuz, c’mon, it’s adorbs.

And, just for fun, here are a couple of other Target lovelies…

A lamp that I bought awhile back (either at TJ Maxx or Target, can’t remember which) that “lives” on Dave’s side of the bed has served its purpose well, but I changed the lampshade from a dark gray/black-ish one (a tad too much detail goin’ on) to this angled shade…

…which didn’t serve us well. Every time a cat jumped up to alert us that “BREAKFAST TIME IS IMPENDING!!! 45 MINUTES AND COUNTING!!!” it would end up cockeyed and even ended up with a slightly warped area from a too-hot bulb. So, I grabbed this one for under $20…

Even Dave says it’s much better and dulls the brightness some. Coming from the guy who doesn’t notice such things, I’d say that’s an accomplishment. Oh, and still figuring out the art and possible headboard, but at least he’s a part of the conversation (as are you!).

Oh, and I’m also considering FINALLY replacing my worn hand-me-down clawed-to-hell slipcovered arm chair with an accent chair. Here were two possible finalists (which I’m waiting to find on sale online soon):

And Dave patiently waiting while I carted the baby around the furniture aisle to see if they were keeping any other chairs from me. What a patient husband I have. Our dorky daddy.

There’s one more Target find that we grabbed to help us tidy up the toddler toys (gasp, did I just say “toddler”?? He’s technically not a toddler until he starts walking for realsies, right? Right??), but we’ll save that for next time. I’m sure you’ll be waiting with baited breath. πŸ˜‰

Let’s Get This Party Started

With officially T minus one month ’til the Hadman turns the big O-N-E, I was politely reminded by the hubs that he’d be happy to pick up the invitations at Staples while he’s out in the “big city” Friday. Oops. I had them done, just needed to do some tweaking and send them in. Thanks for the save, Dave!

I’m a big fan using the Staples online print resource since I utilized it to print the theater’s programs when I used to design them. I found that they came out professionally and timely, with no directors sweating over one of those super long staplers putting together a handful of photo-copied programs to hand to audiences as they arrived on opening night. Yeah, that was never fun. So, paying for Staples was well worth the investment.

I’ve used them for everything from ALL of our print needs for our wedding (invitations, yes, but all the little signs and labels for each table and programs that never got handed out…lots and lots and lots of printing) to baby shower invitations for my sis to the art on Hadley’s wall. It was a no-brainer to use them again.

(By the way, this is not a sponsored post. I wasn’t paid by Staples to brag about ’em. It’s kinda sad that I have to say that.)

Here’s the invitation I whipped up (sans my mom’s address and my phone number for the RSVP) with a little Pinterest inspiration…Pinspiration? Ew…

So, how much did the invites cost to send out? I scaled them to fit four to a page (cheapskate…no, really, the invitation envelopes we had on hand only fit that size, so it was serendipitous in a really lame way), so all we would need were three sheets. Ha! Three sheets to the wind. Nice.

Anyhoo, yeah, three. Since we were mostly inviting families and couples (with a few awesome exceptions), it wasn’t like we needed 22 separate invites; just one for my sis and her family, one for Dave’s bro and his wife, etc. So, twelve would work just fine.

Check it! I may still get 10% or so off, but I’d say $5.37 for very cool (if I do say so myself) invitations, including the cost of envelopes (totally free) and the fact that I chose stiffer card stock (that’s what she said), is pretty good. Add a few bucks for postage and we’re still coming in at a decent price. If I hadn’t “splurged” and had them do the cutting (way straighter than my shaky hand), it would’ve been $2 cheaper. I know. My Depression-era ancestors would be disappointed in me. *hangs head*

We’re purchasing some other stuff for this shindig, but also doing plenty hand-made options, too. Here’s a breakdown:

– Pizza, beverages, and several other “some assembly required” food items to make life a tad easier (do carrot sticks count?)
– Cupcakes (but this has a sentimental pitch to it; we’re buying them from the same place that made our wedding cupcakes…so there. Neener neener.)
– A few decorative items, like birthday hats (for fun) from Target
– Gifts for the monkey, himself! πŸ™‚

– Pom-pom decorations No. More. Wire. HANGERS!!! Only insert “BALLOONS!” for “wire hangers.”
– A pendant banner
– The birthday boy’s crown, which he’ll wear all of two seconds. Tops.
– His healthy smash cake (along with a bit of decoration)!!!

Already Have On Hand:
– This awesome thing we like to call “Pandora”…because it’s called Pandora. We listen to it on our phones all the time, so it only makes sense to use it as a bit of background music. The little one likes the Simon and Garfunkel channel, but we may switch it up to something a wee less depressing.
– A laptop (or possibly burned DVD) to show Daddy’s video for the birthday boy
– Borrowed pop-up tent thingamajiggers just in case of inclement weather. But, seriously, (sung as Streisand), DON’T RAIN ON MY PARADE (party)!!!
– Cake stands. Seriously. We’ve got a million of ’em. A cute HUGE one that our friends Laurel and Jim gave us which has some really cool polka dot textures on it, a couple of antique glass ones we used for our wedding reception, etc. And while I may use them for cupcakes, it sometimes makes for some visual interest to put something less expected on them. How fancy, pizza on a cake stand! Oooohhhh, la-dee-dah!

I’m sure I’m forgetting something. I started taking some notes on my phone, but have yet to make the mother of all to-do/to-buy lists.

We’ve already had an offer or two to help with food (and anything else we may need). You can always tell your best friends when they’re as concerned about your own sanity as they are spending time with your cutey patootey. And when that best friend happens to be your sister, well, all is right with the world.

So, we’re officially in party mode (with the exception of being bogged down by inventory at work; I’ll still have a few weeks to focus solely on the shindig, though, once school’s over — I know, I’m lucky). Any suggestions for the parents?

Birthday Bash Brainstorming

Mmm, alliteration. Truly a girl’s best friend. And after re-reading this post, parentheses.

So, the monkey’s big birthday (you know, the BIG birthday…the FIRST birthday) is coming up July 13th. Sure, it’s still May, but I live in this little place called reality, where once a child is born, time starts playing horrific tricks on us. He’s practically shaving.

Okay, not shaving, but he’s insanely mobile (mere moments from walking, I swear) and even says a few words. Wait, “oof oof” is totally a word, right? It is when it’s associated with dogs (and, for the time being, cats…they’re the same thing, all the cool kids say). And the time seriously feels like it passed in the blink of an eye. The blink of an exhaustedly blood-shot, tear-filled eye.

To stave off any further waterworks, I’m focusing my emotional energies into creating an awesomesauce birthday party. I’m using Pinterest, oh evil mistress of perfection-flaunting in the face of mere mortals, to glean some ideas that might be fun to try. But, you know, since I live in reality (and am the mother of an active 10 1/2 month old who demands attention; would he prefer to have free reign and complete independence? Sure thing. Do I want to have a child with numerous concussions and cats with mental scars for life? Hellz no.), I’m fully aware that most of these aren’t attainable.

We can dream, can’t we? If I hit 40%, that’ll be doing something.

Oh, and I also live within a reality which involves people who would think me a tad overboard for implementing all this stuff. So, I have to reign it in, too, simply as not to have any heads exploding come July 13th. Not a pretty way to celebrate a fun day. Horrible replacement to fireworks.

As with most things we do, I’d like to keep it green. Recently, I stumbled upon a website that is essentially nothing but a depressing sob-fest (for softies such as myself) displaying hundreds of pictures of animals who have been injured or killed by balloons after being allowed to float away or even just after being thrown away properly. Damn, Hadman loves balloons. That’s okay, social responsibility comes first — and he won’t even know what he missed. Tissue pom-poms or Chinese lanterns, it is, son!Β 

What’s a birthday party without hats? A regular ol’ barbecue, that’s what. So, for those who want to wear one (sign me up, please!), we have a couple of options…

(These are wooden, but you get the idea. I guess they make birthday crowns from newspaper in England. Not only eco-friendly, but classic! Hadley’s not a hat guy, so this is only an “if Mommy wants to get all Martha Stewart and sleep very little” option.)

I’ve already purchased some hats (to reuse over time), but dude. Just dude.
That whole site is chock full o’ birthday sweetness.

Like these!!!!! I’m on the hunt for some sans serif cookie cutters. Baking in inevitably 90Β° weather with an almost-toddler? I’m an idiot. But, if I find an “H” I can use it every year! Y’know. In the sweltering heat. *smacks forehead* Oh, and of COURSE I’m searching for natural (ie fruits and veggies) alternatives to food coloring. Blueberry’s a must, simply because Hads loves ’em.

Or I could always make (or buy?) cake pops. I’ve never had them but I hear they’re the rage. Or, at least that’s what the kiddies are shouting into my Miracle Ear. Could also buy cupcakes (maybe the ones we used for our wedding!!!) and make a smash cake myself for the monkey. Ha. More baking.

Speaking of smash cakes, here’s a lower sugar, all-natural option I’m considering.
Plus, bananas and blueberries = very happy almost-toddler. I did not just type that word. *sigh*

STILL from the aforementioned party (man, that Beckham’s got swagger), I love just the simple container for napkins, utensils, etc (I was searching Target today for eco-friendly of all of the above; think I’ll have to hit up Peter’s Cornucopia; love that place) and a chalkboard for the menu. Of course, this is the one area that I’ll be considered crazy if I just say “Let’s just do a cheese/cracker (I guess we don’t do “bread”) and veggie tray, some cookies and cupcakes, and maybe some cute sandwiches on baguettes.” Inevitably, there will be mounds of salads — green (specifically for my husband, who eats nothing with mayonnaise), potato, pasta — possibly several types of grilled meats, perhaps a pizza will show up…food’s one thing we do, and do to excess. No point, really.

See, in my mind, which is always grasping for the aesthetically-pleasing, slightly quirky and quasi-hip method, I’d want the money (hell, if no one else wants to pitch in, I’ll do it!) on organic soda (it exists! And in purdy bottles, too!) and a craft beer chilling in a galvanized tub with some homemade lemonade in mason jars, and a display that looks something like this (sans tomato soup and pie)…

Darn you, Beckham.

I am also considering, food-wise, something along the lines of this…

Not that font or description, but the thought behind it. Our kid’s got a pretty refined pallet (read: will eat anything, particularly off floor). Avocados. Extra-sharp cheese. Pasta. A plethora of fruit-and-veg blends including kale or beets. Oh, and pizza…and generally anything that adults eat that we literally need to fight him off to consume. It turns into a scene from Oliver!, I kid you not. “Please, sir…!!!” So, I’m thinking pizza, homemade guac with chips for dippin’ (maybe salsa, too), fruit salad (bananas, kiwi, blueberries, cantaloupe), veggie sticks (the ones in the organic chip aisle; he can’t handle the raw stuff quite yet), and cheese ‘n crackers (or a cheese dip of some sort).

By the way, we’re not doing a theme this year. We considered it for one mad minute, but then realized “Um, he’s one. That’s a theme right there.” (If we wanted to get all dramatic, we could do the “Not yet a man, no longer an infant…” theme. Mustaches abound! Or giraffes. God, the giraffes.) We’re just going with the colors of his nursery, for the most part — y’know, turquoise, orange, green. Good times.

(Maybe one day we’ll do the Mo Willems theme…or the Fred Astaire theme…or whatever the heck else he’s interested in. But, we’ll strive to keep them home-grown events without the rigmarole of inviting an entire freaking grade of kids. We’re not here to show off, just have fun. And Mommy totally has fun with aesthetically-arranged sodas, mkay?)

Speaking of which, one thing that our parties tend to lack is organized fun. It’s a tad tough to do this (same goes for favors) since we don’t really have a plethora of kids coming. There’s Hadley, his cousin Lizzie (who will be 2 months shy of 2 years old *more sobbing*), and MAAAAAYBE one more friend of the family who’s not school-aged yet. Tada. The rest are teenagers *yet more sobbing, I changed their dipes* and a buttload of grown-ups. So, rather than force people to violently whack something whilst wearing a blindfold (never got that), I’m thinkin’ we’ll do a variation of this…

Halleluia, it wasn’t at Beckham’s party! (No hard feelings, kid. You seem pretty darn cool. Future play date! My child is far less crazy than am I.) Anyhoo, I was thinking more of a card that folks could fill out — one would write something loose like this while the other might have fill-in blanks (what he wants to be, what color his hair will be, what his favorite animal/instrument/food/hobbies/sport, etc.) and folks can do either one. I also considered a photo booth type thingie (just hanging a backdrop and leaving directions and props for photos), but I’m not sure anyone will do it. Party poopers.

Oh, and as far as entertainment goes, it sounds like the hubs hopes to make a video of the kid’s first year. Talk about emotions, gah!

Another “oh, and” — this whole thing is kindly taking place at my mother’s house since she has a perfectly-sized backyard for stretching out, playing, and so forth. I mentioned inviting non-family members (it reaches about 16 or 17 just with close family) and I think I heard smoke come out of her ears through the phone. She nervously mentioned not knowing what to do with folks if it rains, but I brushed it off. (Sure, neither of our houses is big enough to handle that many people. I get the concern, I do.) But, it ain’t no thang. We’ll make it work. I know folks with “pop-ups” and we could always run and grab an extra tarpy tenty thingie or two. I’m on it, Mom!! If you read this. In which case, HI!!!

One last thing (check me out on Pinterest if you really want to subject yourself to more) is probably what I should’ve showed you first: a possible invite.

Okay, forget the “possible” part. I already “borrowed” this idea, downloaded some fonts, and stayed up until almost midnight last night hashing out a similar design (orange rather than red, close-but-no-cigar on the fonts, and a cool black and white tree trunk background). Sorry, Magnus, your time’s up — HADMAN’s in town, and he’s a-takin’ over.

So…think I’m nuts to put so much thought and effort into a one-year-old’s party, or do you get where I’m coming from? Aside from my aesthetic-loving self, it’s about celebrating the life-altering first year of the specialest little guy ever. That’s all. πŸ˜‰

Gettin’ All Cultural Up in Here

We needed to get away. For Dave and I both, it was one of those work weeks that got worse by the day. Knowing that I would be wallowing in a week off this week was a tad harder with his having to cover for several people at work, with me home with the baby. So, we needed to do something for ourselves over the weekend.

When Dave had heard that his favorite painter would be exhibited at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, it seemed like a no-brainer to hit up the farmers’ market, grab some lunch, then test the baby at his first-ever museum trip. The fact that it wasn’t in the midst of a crazy busy city and (after the hubs called in advance) was stroller-friendly made me a tad less nervous at the prospect.

See, it’s neat. We’re not really “beach people” (although I do NEED to stick my feet in sand from time to time, but I don’t NEED the masses of people and beach bodies that go with it). When we travel, we seek out our interests — which is why our past vacation posts include lots of antiquing, museum and historical site visiting, local food eating, and even a bit of nature walking and co-op shopping. Back B.H. (Before Hadley), we were also known to hit up Broadway, as well as take in more local theater. We’ll get back into it when the little man’s a tad less needy.

(Here’s our first anniversary trip and our honeymoon. Thought I did a Boston/Concord post, but apparently not!)

It’s awesome to have a partner who doesn’t think you’re a crazy person to prefer a museum to, well, almost any other place on earth.

So, after stocking up on veggies, meat, jam, and more, as well as testing some cheese, we strolled over to Doubleday Cafe. Unfortunately, Monkey turned into his obnoxiously needy (borderline breaking down) self, so lunch was a tad challenging. Lots of one-handed quesadilla eating and passing him back and forth.

After a stop at the car for a feeding and diaper change, we took the brief drive over to the gorgeous stone building that houses so many incredible art pieces and artifacts. We pushed Hads down a path to see if it would start to tire him out, but while spring had finally started, the wind was too much. And, that’s when my stomach suddenly took a turn for the worse. I soldiered on.

We went inside, and since I had been to the museum several times of the years (between childhood field trips, family visits, and even a few years back as an adult — I was raised with a passion for this stuff), it was neat to see Dave “ooh”ing and “aaahh”ing over all it had to offer. We chatted with the ticket lady over possibly purchasing a membership (there’s one that’ll get you into numerous museums all over the country…may not be worth the cost this year, but when we’re a more mobile family, it sounds perfect) then took a map and went to it.

The exhibits we were able to take the most time with were the folk art and American Masters rooms. We were a tad disappointed that we only got a preview of the artist Dave was hoping to see more of, but overall the stuff was awesome. From learning more about everyday life (shop signs usually had fantastic, rustic art because in the pre-industrial age 90% of individuals were illiterate…kinda knew that, but the art was COOL) to viewing artists in a different light, it was well worth the trip. Even if my stomach distracted me (dizziness and nausea, ick!).

Dave did some quick cell phone shooting, then we headed into the room with Cooper artifacts, then to a cool blacksmith exhibit (the Farmers Museum across the street is my FAVORITE place — their Candlelight Evening at Christmastime is so cool; their master blacksmith did some incredible pieces, plus there were some awesome artifacts from the 1700s) before going to yet another level and noticing that the baby was waking up in the stroller. The Native American artifacts, we suddenly realized, might be terrifying to him (lots of incredible masks…but they even scared me), so we decided to call it a day. Besides, the Fisherman’s Friend cough drops weren’t quite touching my sickness.

Aside from my short-lived stomach problems (probably something I ate) and a fussy buddy, the museum trip was SO fun and enjoyable. We even bought a Norman Rockwell coloring book (!) for the little man when he can wield a crayon someday. (We usually purchase a book or something else fun when we make such a stop; at our last trip to Concord, we bought a onesie with an awesome Thoreau quote that juuuuust fits the monkey now.)

And, just because I’m so proud of his work on this little “home video” (based on the famous “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” montage — which we hope doesn’t mind his borrowing of the copyrighted music!!), come along on a trip with us…

A Day in the Life of Monkey Boy

…or Mister Man, or Had-Man, or any variation of our son’s nicknames. This is a guest post written by an 8-month-old Hadley. Since he can neither speak nor otherwise communicate thoughts beyond pointing, grunting, squealing, kicking, and the like, he shall have a ghost-writer. Poof, I’m a ghost.

I’m not really sure what a day is. Mom and Dad seem to think it has a beginning and an end; once in awhile I think I can fool them enough to believe that’s true. But, mostly things are just a series of naps with fun in between. Maybe that’s why I get so upset when it’s dark; why are they laying me back down?? I know I’m tired, but I don’t WANT to go in my crib. We should be enjoying life while we can. Sheesh.

Anyway, I guess things start when I realize my tummy feels way weird. Not really hurty, but weird. It’s dark and I don’t even really need to open my eyes; if I whine enough, Mama comes in the room, grumbling to herself and pulling her hair back (why does she DO that?? It’s so much fun to play with…and grab…and pull). She picks me up and carries me into the big bed. I love bouncing on it, when I’m in the mood, but when my tummy feels this way all I can think about is EATING.

Before I know it, I’m being awoken, this time by a tired-looking but happy mama. Whoa. Wait. Wasn’t I just eating? I know it relaxes me, but…? It’s a little less dark out and there’s a kitty coming to greet me. Mommy grabs some clothes and carries me downstairs.

I see Daddy quickly rushing back and forth, sometimes with something in his hand, sometimes not. He gets really excited to see me and calls me his buddy. He’s just so nice, I can’t stand it. His smile is the best.

Although I HATE it, Mama puts me on a blanket and takes all the clothes off me and puts different ones on. Why does she DO that?? She also puts one of those white things on her head and makes silly faces before taking the squishy, cold one off of me and putting the new one on. She is pretty weird. It’s hilarious, though, so I guess it works.

Before I know it, I’m bundled up in stuff that makes me feel really hot. I wish they wouldn’t put the things on my head, they feel so stuffy and funny. Mommy puts me in my cool seat and bundles me up MORE, then she hands me to my Daddy and kisses us goodbye. It’s Had and Dad time!

Daddy drives a littler thing than Mom’s, so it feels cozy, and he always has pretty sounds going. It’s the only place I really don’t mind falling asleep, and before I know it Daddy’s gone and I wake up at Grandma’s house.

Grandma’s really nice, and Lizzie is my cousin-buddy that I get to hang out with ALL DAY LONG! It’s fun to chase her in my Jalopy — oh, and the doggies, too! Sometimes they yip, but I’m not sure why.

It’s hard to keep track of the day. This is the place that I get bottles instead of Mommy, and we watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and some other things, and I eat my foods at different times. Most days, I have a great time, but sometimes my mouth hurts. Those days I don’t care where I am; I just don’t like it. Sometimes chewies help, sometimes not. Sometimes my tasty medicine helps, sometimes not. I wish I could be happy all the time, especially when I see how sad it makes Grandma and Mom and Dad, but I just can’t. I wonder if they’re happy all the time.

I know the end of the day is coming when Grandpa comes home and plays with me. Soon, Lizzie gets picked up by her Mommy or Daddy. They are so cool! Aunt Mary is always so nice and Uncle John is funny…and nice, too! Come to think of it, everybody in my family is pretty nice — unless Mommy loses her temper. That’s kind of funny to watch, though.

After Lizzie goes, Daddy shows up looking tired but excited to see me. I squeal and jump because I love him and I get to go home where my kitties and Mommy are. I love Grandma and Grandpa SO much, but home is my favorite.

I usually wake up again and realize I’m home. It’s so weird how that happens! Mommy and Daddy eat, and sometimes I eat with them — Mommy does double-duty. Daddy puts on his funny sounding phone where people talk and laugh and people clap. Other times, there are nice sounds again that Mommy (and sometimes Daddy) sings to. Oh, and Jasper jumps on the table to see me and try to steal Mommy’s food — it is SO funny!

Sometimes Mommy puts me in water in the kitchen with nice sounds on and I get to splash while she puts stuff all over me. Lately, Mommy has been pouring clean water in a cup and I get to drink it. I’m good at not spilling a lot! She also pours my water from the cup and I LOVE LOVE LOVE watching it and letting it fall through my hands. That’s one of my favorite things in the world, next to things that crinkle.

After I get out of the water, Mommy puts stuff on me, then MORE clothes. Then, we go on the bed and Daddy reads to me. I get to hold one of the hard books while he does voices from another book. I’m good at turning pages, and although I don’t know what these things really are, the pictures and colors and the way Daddy and Mommy talk during them, I love looking at them.

When the books are done, Mommy settles in on bed for me to eat. Sometimes I don’t go to sleep and it’s a fun game to see how late I can stay up — although Mommy always wins, eventually. Otherwise, I try to wake up to let them know I’m still around all while it’s dark.

Some days, I don’t go to Grandma’s. Some days, we all stay home together, or we go out in Mommy’s bigger car to different places, which I don’t hate. Some days I get to look at the boy in the glass, and other days I get to spend extra time touching the kitties and grabbing their tails. Some days, Mommy uses the loud thing on the floor and I help…it has a tail, too, you know! Just skinnier and longer. Some days, I spend more time with Daddy and he talks to me about when he was little or shows me things. Some days, Mommy gives me food to squish and try myself.

Some days I’m happy, some days I have hurties and can’t get happy.

But I LOVE to LOVE. I squeal and kick when something exciting is happening — which usually means seeing someone I love.

And I hope he always has that endless supply of love and joy and INTEREST in his loved ones and surroundings.

8 Months

The response to my recent post about the Mohawk/Herkimer shootings has been nothing short of overwhelming. The kindness and connections have touched my core. It’s difficult to write further about those 24 hours, but those I’ve spoken to have similar feelings: settling into a state of numbness. This is where we currently reside, squeezing our loved ones a little tighter than usual. So, in an attempt to move on, I’ll write the post that my brain was percolating when the events started to unfold. It may seem frivolous, but it’s a grasp at normalcy, which is a bit of a challenge in itself.

As I write this, I am officially the parent of an 8-month-old. Holy crap.

So many thoughts accompany that statement, but “holy crap” is all I can come up with to encompass them all. It’s gone so fast…and, yet, not so much. He’s such a big boy…and, yet, not so much. I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that a year ago I was 5 months pregnant and still in a state of “eh, we’ve got time.” We were going to classes and getting nervous or anxious and sharing horrible-for-us meals at Friendly’s afterwards. We even met a really sweet older couple who have ended up on our Christmas list! (Before the aforementioned events occurred, I was going to suggest to the hubby that we take him out to New Hartford for a celebratory Friendly’s dinner — yes, even on a school night! What a fun change-of-routine that would have been.)

But, now we’ve got our handsome monkey. He handles his walker like a champion, turning it on a dime to chase down a cat (or his cousin; thank God she’s a speedy toddler). He’s teething but past the terrible “why is he CRYING?!” days he once had. He’s got chicken fuzz hair (mine), chubby thighs (not sure whose those are), a broad smile (mine), a cute nose (Dad’s) and piercing, clear blue eyes (my grandfather’s?). He’s, as they say, all boy.

I had some tears recently when his grandma/sitter sent home two un-finished bags of milk. We send 4, which he once consumed completely, but lately it’s been 3. This was the first time it’s been this few. It might be a fluke, but I’m concerned it’s weaning. I’ve gotta get myself mentally ready for this, but sometimes you just can’t prepare yourself. It’s life. He’s getting bigger, eating more “solids” and his poop is giving an indication that we could start cloth diapering full-time and have an easy time with it. Which we will.

So, instead of getting sad about his rush to grow up (*sniff, sniff*), my mind brings me to a much-needed happy place: his first birthday. Thanks to his Friday the 13th birthday last year, his first will be on a Saturday — perfect! Plus, it looks like I’ll be staying home with him for the summer, so I can do a bit of planning after school lets out.

It won’t be a huge event, but all the family (and possibly a friend or two) will be invited. We’ve asked my mom to use her space, but we’ll keep an eye out on the weather — we all have pretty small homes, so it would be ideal to have a nice day that will allow us to sprawl into Mom’s backyard (and send the older kids down for badminton, volleyball, etc). She lives in the village of Mohawk, but Dave always says it’s like visiting the country after we’ve had a relaxing afternoon sitting under their carport, observing their gardens and tiny animals scurrying and flying around. They often have a steady stream of deer and turkeys enjoying their backyard as much as their human counterparts.

I’m not sure there will be a theme since he’s not really a “fan” of anything — I mean, an Elephant and Piggie theme would be neat when he’s older, but currently we’re not down for a giraffe or cat (he. loves. his. kitties.) theme. I’m just thinking fun, bright boy colors. And balloons.

Our families usually just do FOOD for birthdays. I’m more of the “entertain” mindset. So, of course there’ll be food, but I’d like to come up with some laid-back entertainment ideas (a photo “booth”/station area to take pics and remember the day, maybe). I’d like to keep whatever we do simple as to avoid the raised eyebrow, so I guess I’ll have to remember my Pinterest login again.

And, since we’re the only Organics in the fam (doesn’t that sound like a nice label? “Organics”? Better than granola hippies), we’ll probably do a BBQ or something with some healthy sides. Either way, I hope to share the fun. I only wish those adorable, highly-fashioned blog ideas with awesome paper straws and glass soda bottles in galvanized tubs was realistic. But, ultimately, the most important part of the day is family getting together to celebrate the joy that Hadley has brought to so many.

That, and cake.

Why I’m Not a Vegetarian

I’ve read a couple of articles and blog posts about vegetarianism lately, which got my juices flowing (ew. Visual.) and my thoughts drifting back to our eating habits. I’ve talked about my thought process on this before, from flexitarianism to partaking in Meatless Monday (and a follow-up) to my first ever post about our thoughts on Food, Inc.

Our hearts are torn. We’re passionate animal lovers. We live in a relatively rural area with tons of active hunters, and we’re not altogether crazy about it. Our area’s biggest job provider is a gun factory. (Let’s just say the governor’s abrupt push-through gun control act has plenty of folks up in arms…pardon the pun…around our surrounding towns.) Yet, I’m in favor of gun control insomuch as semi-automatics are simply unnecessary for any non-military purpose and the concept that our forefathers were dealing with muskets when they worked on the Constitution seems telling. So, sure, I’m a bit of a hippie.

So, why am I still a dang meat eater?

I don’t crave it. I don’t demand I eat it with every meal. I’m not “carnivorous.” But, I am stubborn. And a tad lazy.

One thing I’ve learned about myself, especially thanks to the awesome self-analysis offered by doing this blog, is that I can only change if it’s gradual. I’m not able to maintain a gung-ho, all-at-once life change, especially if it’s one that involves an immense learning curve and lots o’ planning. Exhibit A. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well.

I gave up coffee while pregnant (and still abstain), but I wasn’t addicted beforehand. Not that I’m addicted to meat, but it’s definitely a lifestyle. Definitely.

I’m Irish-American. We were raised with meat ‘n potatoes. The only time we didn’t have meat at the dinner table was Friday during Lent or when we’d have the rare pancake for dinner (although sometimes we’d have bacon…sometimes not). It was practically taboo NOT to have meat on our plates. Spaghetti must contain its accompanying meatballs, after all.

Not that it was a bad way to grow up. However, as we’ve learned more about the state of slaughterhouses and the food system in America, it’s difficult to eat without considering not only where the food started (and how it was treated), but what it might be doing to our bodies. As it is, I can no longer eat Taco Bell or McDonald’s without getting sick in some way.

The meat we do consume is, at its very basic, not given hormones and hopefully humanely treated. My number one priority, above it being organic, is how it was treated. If I had my way, all of our meat and poultry would be grassfed (not given a “vegetarian diet” which could include genetically-modified corn), lovingly cared for, humanely killed, and organic. It seems an easier feat to achieve in Europe (even with its Mad Cow and what not) than America, which is insane. Oh, and don’t get me started on seafood; that’s impossible to track and it’s a challenge to find anything to feed the family. A Mediterranean diet is harder to grasp than you’d think.

So, it stands; we’re omnivores. We eat less meat than most, but I still feel like a slave to my routine. I’d love to find still more *simple* vegetarian recipes to try to push out my meat-based meals. (And not the hippie kinds. Ones that I can give to the hubs without him thinking a second thought. Ones that blend in with our relatively traditional usual fare.) I’d also hate to be that daughter or DIL who throws a wrench into the works at family gatherings and stuff.

I don’t foresee this always being the way. After all; we’ve got a kid. And, if I know kids, and if he’s anything like this, he’ll be a motivator. If he takes after us, he’ll be an animal lover, too (he’s already nuts about his kitties and the doggies he gets to see at his grandma/sitter’s everyday). I can just see the day when he makes the correlation between what we’re eating…and the fact that it once moved.

Why is it that I can see changing for him, but in the meantime feel like it’s too daunting a task? The things we do for those adorable dimples. Maybe we should start our “slow and steady” race sooner rather than later. Oh, and if we ever take this route, I foresee practicing lacto-ovo vegetarianism — one that involves consuming eggs, milk and honey (as long as they’re collected humanely…not sure if there’s a honey standard, LOL) but no meat, poultry or seafood.

Baby steps, though. Hadley-sized steps.

The Time Has Come

What a dramatic title. Probably overly so, but this is one of the biggest topics I’ve had to get a hold on since we even got pregnant in the first place. Yeah, THAT big.

We’ve been putting off using cloth diapers for a bit of awhile for a couple of reasons.

#1. We wanted to get the hang of H.A.’s feedings (yeah, sometimes I just feel like calling him “H.A.” as if he’ll one day be a fancy schmancy author or professor who goes by his initials. Plus, I gave them to him, so I can call him what I want. Fartypants McGee. Poopsalot Poutyface.)

#2. The confusion of what dipes to choose has been a tiiiiiny bit overwhelming.

#3. (singing) Time, time, tiiiiiiime. Time-time tiiiiiime. Time.

Yeah, those’re about it. We recently discovered the VERY encouraging option of purchasing a $10, 2-week trial at a local diaper store but thought we’d put it off until we have lots of time with Hads, ourselves. It wouldn’t be fair to make his caregiver do all the testing, especially since she’s got a pretty active 1-year-old on her hands, too.

Then we heard about the whole Japanese plant explosion that may cause a shortage of disposable diapers (read: jump in price)…and upon reading about the lack of chemical that will be causing the shortage, it was hard for our brains not to jump straight to “Mmmmmaaaaybe we need to switch over sooner rather than later.” I guess it was easy to force ourselves into a world of conveniently ignorant bliss, but to think of the chemicals we’re subjecting his “lil’ bidness” to…shiver.

In regards to the above challenges…#1 – we’ve pretty much figured it out, with exception to his uncomfortable gas situation. #2 – the trial helps here (and just jumping in with the ones I’ve purchased…although I’m up in the air as to whether I should just wash ’em all since the first time is an undertaking or just do a couple so that I can resell ’em if they don’t work out). #3 – while things are still hectic (or, shall we say, difficult to schedule?), once we get the hang of it I foresee it taking as much time as the disposables…maybe a tad more laundry time.

Up until this point, we’ve tried several kinds and found a favorite. While I’d like to say we’ve been Seventh Generation-ing it up, we haven’t. Pampers Swaddlers (not the other kind…and, strangely, it does make a difference) has been our go-to. It’s what FEELS the most like cloth. The other brands feel like, well, paper. I’d LIKE to make the switch to SG for those as-needed times (they weren’t HORRIBLE…just not what you’d like to put on your newborn’s sensitive bits), so we’ll see how that goes. A little at a time.

So, we may be finally picking up that trial package soon to get an idea of exactly what kind(s) we want to invest in — most likely to be tried over the following couple of weekends and overnight as not to overwhelm the sitter. And, when the moment strikes (ie during my next sudden burst of energy; that’s the only way I get anything done lately), I’ll be laundering the dozen organic bumGenius dipes that I bought pre-Hadley that have been sitting, in their packages, in a corner of the nursery. I’m nervous yet excited to get them on his bum and see if/how they work for us.

And, of course, I’ll be stopping back with my *honest* opinion of all the goings-on. Oh, and I suppose a “final” (is it ever really finished? And is there ever NOT an incoming bag of outfits messin’ the place up again?) nursery tour is in order. Especially now that he’s in the crib and we’re able to call it HIS space. πŸ™‚ Now, we just have to determine where to hang a few final pieces of art…the hardest part.

*BTW, totally off-topic. Whatchya think of this font vs. my usual? Snazzy? Better or worse?*

Sock Sack O’ Beans

I know what you’re going to think — “Wait. You’ve been absent HOW LONG and all you’re going to write about is a stupid DIY heating pad? What about the B-A-B-Y?!?!” And you’re more than entitled to have those thoughts. But, let’s just say that it takes all the power in me to write a post at all.

Not saying that I’m that full-blown exhausted that everyone talks about. Sure, tired, but generally speaking I’m doing fine. Got some strong emotions going on that I’m sure I could talk about (no post-partum depression, though, as far as I can tell :-D), but I don’t really feel like wasting time discussing that stuff, either. But my days have been pretty much a sequestered existence consisting of rotating feedings and changings. So, I thought, “I could wallow in the fact that it’s now August (“sweat drops, sweat drops” – anyone? “SNL”/”Cathy”?) or I could finally write a blog post.” So, here I be! Arrrgh.

Yeah. Maybe I am a tad overtired. I’ve had one nap since we brought the baby home. I’m not a big “napper”, but maybe I should take advantage of “free time” while I still can.

Why the HECK is this post about an old sock filled with dried beans? Because I don’t make it out of the house much…I needed a heating pad solution…and I was pretty proud that I made one. Don’t judge. These days, it’s the little things that make me happy.

So, I suppose what I’m getting at is more so the fact that I need a heating pad in the first place. As far as pain goes, I’m usually pretty tough, and wouldn’t have anything on hand for aches and pains. Hey, I felt like I was, in a way, gypped over Hadley’s birth in having a C-section; I didn’t get to experience LABOR and didn’t have much pain (beyond the whole issue of coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc with that darned incision), but I’ll post more on that when I feel good ‘n ready to do so. πŸ˜‰ Long story short, though, through our trials and triumphs of breastfeeding (also more on that in a future post), I seem to have developed a blocked milk duct.

Funny. Had’s got a blocked tear duct that causes one of his eyes to goober up with yellow stuff (not puss, and ’tis completely normal – believe me, the doc has been consulted as to every inch of his cute lil’ body). Wonder if there’s a connection beyond grammatical. And, now, I’m not leaking yellow goobers.

Anyhoo, being a) quite the independent bugger and b) more than a tad intimidated by the overbearing lactation consultants, I’m determined to handle this issue on my own – unless, of course, it becomes a bigger issue (ie mastitis…an infection…in da booby. Yeah. Let’s hope not, shall we?). So, after researching via books ‘n the interwebs, I found myself filling a cute ol’ sock with dried beans. I wasn’t up for going all Martha Stewart with my sewing machine, so I took the easy way out.

Between using my bean-filled buddy (microwaved for a couple of minutes and wrapped in a kitchen towel), “pressure massaging”, attempting to pump (and feed) more on “that side”, and taking the occasional ibuprofen, I’m hoping that the issue

Otherwise, for those of you who are wondering (and since it’s World Breastfeeding Week), I should say that breastfeeding has been a challenge — and, in some ways, way easier than I had expected (example being – even though Hadley had been given a small bottle right after he was born — due to his size and a necessity to keep his body heat regulated, and the fact that I was getting stitched…er, stapled up — when he was brought back to me in Recovery, he immediately latched on — what a moment!) and in others, purdy darn frustrating (example – let’s just say he doesn’t always latch well, and he’s got a temper AND an impatient streak that make for meltdowns…can’t IMAGINE where he got those traits, hee hee). That’s the nature of breastfeeding, though.

I should shout from the rooftops that I’m terribly lucky. I’ve healed very well, have lost weight VERY quickly (some might say TOO much too fast – I swear I’m eating and trying to drink enough for the both of us, though! And, no worries, my tummy still looks like a satellite image being beamed in from Mars), can almost always get him to settle down for a feeding (even when there are latching issues), am able to pump so Dave (AKA “The Dorky Daddy”, AKA “Best Father and Husband on Earth”) can have some one-on-one time with his little man…and, miracle of miracles, my milk came in before leaving the hospital. The little guy was already starting to gain weight after his first week home, so all appears to be working! And, hey. Isn’t that all that matters? πŸ™‚

Thanks, as always, for reading. I promise to write the birth story when I’m up to it, as well as more on breastfeeding. Oh, and for those who are wondering, we’re not using cloth diapers quite yet — not with how quickly this lil’ guy goes through them, and with how few we currently own. Gonna stock up and move onto that next step when things are a tad more, um, solid. One thing at a time, but we’ll get there. Oh, and just so I’m not a completely stingy b-word keeping things from you, here’s the unofficial birth announcement for those of you who may not have heard —

Our wonderful Hadley Allston was born onΒ Β 
Friday, July 13th at 11:48am via scheduled C-section.
He weighed 10 lbs., 1 3/4 oz and was 22″ in length.