Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scenes from Lily's Birthday Party

Its hard to believe that it has been a week and a half since her party, but here are a few shots of the big event....

Our "theme" was pink and polka dots...

...the cupcakes with the marshmallow fluff frosting....yummy but sticky!

...I also made some cake pops which turned out yummy.  The story behind them is a long one for another day... Also, imagine a beautiful platter of chocolate covered strawberries.  I made them and then completely forgot to put it out for the party! Oh well...

My parents were gracious and opened their home for the party which allowed us to invite our family and close friends who have helped us with Lily and really poured into her life over this past year.

On the mantle, we put some framed photos of Lily that we love and then also hung up some other snapshots from her first year.  It is just amazing how much she has changed in one year!

On the windows we had a "timeline" of Lily over the past year, with one photo from each of her monthly photo shoots under a fun little pennant that I made...the lighting in this photo above makes it difficult to see the photos and pennant, but it gives a good idea of what it looked like...

...a better glimpse of the pennant...

...we served yummy punch and ice water for drinks...which helped to keep things pretty simple...

...a glimpse of the birthday girl and her grandpa before the party started.  He was put in charge of supervision while I ran around finishing up everything...

...during the party, we had a special dedication ceremony for Lily.  Tom, who is our dear friend and a pastor at our church provided a beautiful little service and ceremony right there in my parent's family room.  It was lovely and very special to have so many loved friends and family present for the service.

...after the ceremony, we opened gifts.  Lily is not really into opening presents yet, she helps a little bit, but she loves to play with what is inside of them and sometimes with the paper that they are wrapped in.  It was a lot of fun to see her joy during this experience...

...Then it was time for cake! Lily was stripped down to her diaper for the big event.  We all sang "Happy Birthday" and then she was given her own cake.  At first she did not really know what to do.  As I mentioned earlier, the pink frosting was made with a Marshmallow Fluff base which had kind of gotten hard in the fridge.  So at first she kind of had a difficult time breaking into her cake.  Looking back, I would have made just a plain old butter cream frosting, but as you can see, she managed to tough things out and eat her cake like a pro!  It was a really fun party and a huge thanks to my pal, Jenny for helping with the photo documentation!  Happy Birthday, Lily! We love you!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Top 10 Lessons I Learned During My First Year of Hands-On Motherhood

1.  It’s sooo much more than I even dared imagine.  More fun. More tender. More joyful. More challenging.  More messy.  More life-giving. More beautiful.

2.  Being a stay at home mom does not mean you have time to accomplish all you imagined you would have time to accomplish.  For example: housework, laundry, dinner prep, exercise, time to see/visit friends...in fact, its amazing all I DON’T seem to accomplish in spite of the fact that I am home all day.

3.  I really did ease up on the whole germ-phobic perspective.  Everything used to have to be wiped down, washed off, sterilized or thrown away if a toy was on the floor for even a second.  In the reality of living with a one year old, lets just say, my perspective of what “dirty” looks like is a little different now.

4.  The napping schedule trumps all.  I was not prepared for this.  I knew from reading that good baby sleep is essential and plays a role in who your child becomes as well as how they learn, and was remain committed to do all I can to support this for Lily from my end of things.  I would do it all again as Lily is a sweet, easy tempered, patient, go-with-the-flow type of child who plays independently and well with others- all things I would never trade for more social time for me.  However selfishly, adhering to this schedule was still difficult and at times, felt (and often still feels) isolating for me just the same. This lesson gave me a greater appreciation for Lily's sweet temperament and for activities outside of our house!

5.  Every single relationship changes when you have a baby.  I was not really prepared for the reality of this one either.  Cognitively I “got it” - I knew my life would look different after she was born. Some of my friendships have deepened, others have shifted in priority level, while others have even faded. I did not want to be one of those moms who just disappeared from the radar never to be heard from again...but the reality of new priorities, time constraints and energy levels changed that perspective for me.  To some I probably am that person who has disappeared and I’m working on being okay with that.   There are still times when the pleaser in me rears her head triggering an avalanche of guilt and “shoulds” and worries about what others think or will say, but I am learning that I just simply have to let that go- as difficult as that may be. I just cannot be the kind of friend I want to be to all of the people I would like to be friends with...and that is okay.  My life is different now. I’m different now and the way I choose to spend my time and who I want to spend it with reflects that. 

 6.  A lot of love and healing can grow when your heart is open.  When Lily was born, my broken heart was simply overwhelmed by the flood of love that arrived with her.  There will always be an ache in my heart for Luke, for what is missing or what I wish could have been.  However, the radical joy Lily’s life and presence brings to mine continues to transform the eyes of my heart minute by sweet minute and day by beautiful day.

 7.  Everything really is more special through the eyes of a child.  Holidays, errands, outdoors, simple things like paper cups and remote controls, meals, bath time, birthdays, family, discovery, music, travel, flowers, lights, ceiling fans, books....the list goes on and on.  I have found it to be true that children move at the speed of discovery and if I slow down and take the time to discover along side of her, there are abundant joys along the path hidden away for me too.

 8.  God uses simple things and little people to teach big life lessons.  This has been a year of surrender for me.  Surrender of control over my time, appearance, social life and goals.  My heart now toddles around outside of my body and God continues to use her life to teach me about his love for me, unwarranted grace, humility, gratitude, patience, as well as the disciplines of surrender, trust, faith and hope.  Big lessons all thanks to a sweet little gal.

 9. The little things really are the big things. It’s the quiet moments in the middle of the night.  It’s an extra, unexpected snuggle.  It’s a tiny hand holding mine.  It’s a smile full of half-grown-in teeth.  It’s first steps taken.  It’s our little conversations that only she understands.  It’s a catnap together in the afternoon.  It’s baby snores.  It’s a full night’s sleep.  It’s an empty bottle.  It’s reading books together.  It’s wind in her hair...these are just some of the little things that flood my memory in a big joyful way from this first year with her.

 10.  This is not as easy as it looks.  Some women just make this look easy.  Their kids are clean and happy.  They themselves look fit, polished and put together.  They have makeup on and their clothes are stylish.  Their hair is curled and styled.  They are early or on time.  They bake.  Their homes are comfortable and uncluttered.  They have time for creative expression and appear well rested.  I know this is all a myth, but trust me, there are times when these mystery women seem VERY real.  This year, I realized that I am not destined to be one of those people.   It does take a village of great friends and family to look after Lily when we need a break.  Sometimes (most times now) it takes a wrestling match to change a diaper or an outfit.  It takes a lot of planning in order to go anywhere.  It takes lot of coordination to get anything accomplished.  It takes a lot of multi-tasking. (period!)  It takes a lot of stuff when you travel with a baby.  It takes a schedule to raise a flexible baby who can tolerate a deviation from time to time.  It takes a network and community of other mothers who can provide  listening ears, empathetic hugs and encouraging words like no others can.  It simply takes a lot of encouragement from others, grace from above and kindness toward myself to even scratch the surface on doing this motherhood thing well. It is not as easy as some make it look, but it is definitely the most fun I have ever had in my life!

Thank you to my sweet Joe, my angel baby Luke and my beloved Lilybug for loving me and showing me the Lord's grace as I worked to gain my footing on this path called motherhood over the past couple of years.  I know it has not always been pretty, but you make me feel beautiful and I'm beyond grateful for you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Scenes from her Birthday...

Lily sitting on Luke's bench on her birthday.
Lily is one! 

The photo above was taken by Joe and it is one of my very favorites. Ever.

We woke her up singing happy birthday...she didn't know what was going on but eventually began smiling and pretty much smiled for the rest of the day.  It was her first sign that her birthday was going to be a special day...starting with
getting to enjoy a birthday bran muffin for breakfast... (as opposed to her usual cereal)

We had decorated the house with streamers and balloons just for her.  Ceiling fans are one of her favorite things, so we figured that was the perfect spot for the decorations...the fans in the kitchen and front room looked very festive!

                                      There was lots of time spent playing with the balloons...

Of course there was the birthday photo shoot... (see previous post)

Nana and grandpa each came to visit to give the birthday girl a big hug and kiss...

               And then we went down and met dad for a special photo shoot on Luke's bench...

 After that, we went home and she opened her presents from us and we played for awhile before the birthday girl turned in for the evening....

It was a wonderful day and we all had so much fun celebrating Lily even though she did not really grasp what all of the fuss and fun was about.   Today was all about celebrating her as a family.  In a few days we were hosting her actual birthday party....where she would actually get to eat some birthday cake!

Hooray for birthdays! Especially first ones!

We love you, Lily! xo

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lily is One!

Hello World!  I am officially one year old today!

I woke up with mom and dad singing happy birthday to me this morning and I had no idea what was going on!  The house was all decorated with balloons and streamers which I loved.  It was a great day!

I am growing more and more independent these days.  I love to "talk" to everyone and simply wish they could understand what I am so clearly saying!  Mom and dad try to help me with words, and the ones I can say are "kitty cat," "uh-oh," "that" and "dog."  Mom says that only she and dad can understand me, but I'm positive others can too.

I have six official teeth now, but I continue to work on others.  I still drool quite a bit, but that does not stop me in any way, shape or form!  I love to smile and I especially love to crack myself up and laugh.  I think lots of things and people are very funny.

I still love to eat, and am loving learning to feed myself everything.  I still have a ways to go, but most of the time, I will give it a shot.  Sometimes the texture of different foods grosses me out and I just fling the food as far from my hand as I can in order to fix the problem, but mom keeps encouraging me.  I know I will get it down.  I love to drink through a straw and am getting better with my sippy cup too! and try to as much as possible!  I got to have a birthday bran muffin this morning and it was DELICIOUS!  My favorite foods these days are deli turkey and cheese with some grapes and blueberries. 

I have been working on learning sign language too.  Mom needs to learn more signs so I can learn more! I'm really good at it!

Here I am, cracking myself up...
I love to be outside and enjoy the wind in my hair.  I especially love going to the local petting zoo where I can pet the baby goats and see some chickens and horses.  I LOVE animals.  Sometimes mom takes me with her when she is visiting friends who have pets and that just makes me super excited and happy.

Isn't this lotion hilarious?
I still love to go to the park and swing.  Mom and I go as much as possible.  I've started enjoying wearing my sun hat which flaps in the wind when I swing.  It is so much fun!  I am kind of funny about textures.  I don't like the feel of grass on my skin or the feel of dirt on my hands, but I still like to touch them when I am around them.  I make a funny face and shake my hand really wildly.  It is a lot of fun.  Mom is hoping that I will like to play in the sandbox at the park someday so we can build castles and dig holes together.  I'm not quite there yet.

I still love to read my books and I am a really good page turner.  Reading is probably my favorite activity.

I am walking now.  Not all of the time, but a lot.  I can take 8-10 steps in a row before I need to sit down. It is very exciting to see the world from this new vantage point.  

I'm getting better and better at expressing my emotions as well as my likes and dislikes.  Even though I don't look too happy in this photo, Mom says I am a very easy going little girl.  I love to go to Sunday School and play with the other kids.  I always get great reports from my teachers about my behavior.  I just love to have fun and play!

My favorite toys these days are my golf balls, my shape sorter, my cause and effect pop up toy, my Baa Baa, my books and my cookie jar with cookies in it.  However, I just got some fun presents from my parents which will be lots of fun too...especially my aligator xylophone!  I love music and I smile, sway and dance whenever I hear it.

I am still holding onto my two naps during the day.  For awhile there, I was not wanting to nap in the afternoons, but now, I do again.  I like to keep my mom on her toes.  But for now, I am sticking with two naps a day for a total of two-three hours a day, and then I sleep 12-13 hours at night!  Yep! I like to get my rest in!  Maybe that is why I'm so easy going!?

I still like to make my funny and determined face when I'm busy having fun.  When riding in the car, I love to throw my toys around, un-velcro my shoes (and sometimes take them off all by myself!)  and talk to my mom.  

I am really excited for my summer.  Mom is already making lots of plans for play dates, library story times, indoor play gyms, swimming, vacations and so much more!  I can't wait!

It has been an amazing year.  I can't believe that a year ago all I could do was cry and blink my eyes and sleep! I love growing up!  I am excited for all that this next year holds.  I can't believe I'm one!