My rainbow 30th birthday bash!

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In case this picture doesn't say it all…

I had a totally fabulous 30th birthday party! It was so wonderful having my family and many of my friends there to celebrate with me. It meant so much to have everyone there, and I missed everyone who couldn't make it.

It was a lot of fun putting together all the details! Because I have always loved rainbows, and my favorite collection at the TomKat Studio is the Rainbow Party theme, I researched colorful inspiration and decor, and here's what I came up with. I only had my point-and-shoot, so please pardon the less-than-worthy quality of these photos! 

The dessert table:

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Rainbow Twizzlers and the Cake Pops I made a la Bakerella. I switched up the red velvet for a rich devil's food instead.
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This is my Amma's wine cake: AMAZINGNESS ON A PLATE and my special request for my birthday. It's my favorite cake by far and it was a huge hit at the party! I dressed it up with a rainbow of handmade tissue paper flowers, a craft I found in the Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts:
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Inspired by Amy Atlas's InStyle feature– which was a super exciting time for us at TKS as it included some labels designed by Kim– as well as the 107-degree weather, I included a sundae bar on the dessert table. My favorite combo? Chocolate ice cream with caramel sauce and sea salt.
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I fell in love with this rainbow of glass bottles my mom and I found at HomeGoods:
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Made a whole rainbow of poms- these will come in handy for future parties as well! Have a color theme? There's a pom for that.
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Made a rainbow tutu for Linnea. Somehow it ended up on Hanalei halfway through the evening:
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I couldn't resist these silly moustaches… and neither could Ryan and Alex. How much do you love her skirt? We went on a little thrift shopping excursion a few weeks ago and she found it at Goodwill. It was originally a dress and she turned it into a skirt- fabulous!
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My goofy husband: who needs a moustache when you can have ridiculous eyebrows instead?
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My dad made it to my party. That made my whole night.
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We asked people to bring either their favorite beer or their favorite pot luck item, so we provided our family's all-time favorite sandwiches: Mum Mum's ham buns. It's a secret family recipe, so no, you can't have it! 😉
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The vuvuzelas… ha!
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And, of course, who can forget my favorite part of the entire party? Linnea dressed up in her rainbow tutu and bow! She couldn't possibly be any cuter, just FYI.
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Thanks to my hubby, my mom and my Amma for helping put everything together. And thanks to everyone who came from near and far. It was such a blessing getting to celebrate with you!

Now that the house is back to normal, I'll begin planning Cody and Linnea's birthday party… 99% sure I have the theme for that one picked out! But I have nearly six months to plan this one, so I think I'll relax for a little while 🙂

Thoughts on Food, Inc. and a carrot massacre.

Yesterday we made carrots for Linnea- and boy, was it ever a mess! Our pediatrician warned us about this… but of course, the messier the feeding process, the CUTER the baby! It was simply amazing. Here's a video:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=12529926&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ff0179&fullscreen=1

We used a nifty little baby food steamer and processor that my father-in-law and stepmother dearest gave to us- it's fantastic! It's called the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker and although we steamed the carrots seperately (I jumped the gun- we'll try it with the next round of food!) it worked wonders as a processor. I got the recipe from Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby and it was so simple. Next on the menu: sweet potatoes!

We watched Food, Inc. last night, and it was fascinating. I read The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals a couple of years ago, and this movie sums up a lot of the ideas in the book. It definitely made me re-think the way our family eats and especially what we eat and where our food comes from.

One of the things we plan to do in our backyard is start a garden, but
we need to learn what we are doing first. There is a community garden
at Agritopia that I may look into to get a handle on what I'm doing-
and what a great way to learn! My dear friend Vanessa gave us some
zucchini, a red onion and parsley from her garden plot there and they were simply
delicious. I must say- any time we make anything from scratch with
home-grown or organic, locally-grown produce,it tastes amazing in comparison to the regular produce at the store! For now, we're starting small- we have some potted basil, yellow bell pepper and cherry tomatoes sitting on our front porch:

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We've already managed to kill a strawberry plant. The pot didn't have a hole for drainage… oops. It's a learning process!

I would love to hear from you about your family's eating habits. It seems as if healthy, whole food is not interchangable with a tight budget. Saving money is top on our list of priorities, but not at the cost of our family's long-term health. It's sad that a healthy lifestyle seems to come at a steep price in our society. So if you are feeding your family organic fruits and veggies, whole grains, and grass-fed meats, how do you make it work? Do you have any tips on how to save money while doing so? Do you grow your own fruits and veggies?

First Solids.

So Cody and I sat Linnea down in her Bumbo chair this morning and attempted to feed her some rice cereal from a spoon for the first time. As you can see, she was off to an eager start- but that quickly changed to disgust after a bite or two. Of course, we let her have a little taste of a Skinny Cow ice cream bar the other day- I don’t really know how you can follow that up with a successful feeding of tasteless, outrageously boring rice cereal. Looks like Mom and Dad are gonna have to get a little creative.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=12397597&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ff0179&fullscreen=1

Time to bust out the baby food maker and cookbook that Grandpa and Nona got us!

Heh heh heh… Heh.

The other day, Cody and I bought the cutest little stuffed monkey for our little monkey. I just couldn't resist. My Amma yells at me every time I call Linnea a little monkey- "She's not a little monkey!"- but I can't help it, it just comes out of my mouth like verbal vomit all the time now. Little monkey this, little monkey that. For instance, you know that song by the Cardigans that goes, "Love me, love me, SAY that you looove me… fool me, fool me, go on and fool me"? I don't even know what it's called but I sing, "Monkey, monkey, say you're a monkey, monkey, monkey, go on my monkey, monkey monkey, pretend you're my monkey, monkey, monkey, you are my monkey, I don't care 'bout anything but yooooooouu!" and EVERY TIME without fail, if Linnea is having a fit, she breaks out in a huge smile and I love it so much I don't care how ridiculous it is that I'm singing the word "monkey" over and over to her in the tune of some random Swedish one-hit-wonder's song from 1996. And you're welcome for getting it stuck in your head for the rest of the day. It's a gem, that one.

ANYWAY. Yesterday my mom started monkeying around with Linnea and we got her laughing up a storm on camera. I guarantee you will smile bigger than you have in a while. And since it's a little bit more cuteness than I can handle, I'm gonna step outside for a minute and take a few deep breaths in a paper bag, splash my face with the garden hose on full blast and then come back and resume normal life. Enjoy.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=12386280&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ff0179&fullscreen=1

And here's a picture of some AWESOME hair for good measure:

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I'm not really sure where her neck went.

Cloth diapering FTW!

That's "for the win," in case you weren't ITK ("in the know") with the Twitter lingo.

As you know (what the heck is this, a poetry contest? With all the rhyming?), we made the jump into full-time cloth diapering and… wait for it… it's been fantastic! I seriously can't say enough good things about it. When I was out of town, I decided not to bring the cloth diapers because I was sure my BFF wouldn't want to deal with poopy diapers in her washing machine, and boy did I miss them! I especially missed them when I was burping Linnea and she pooped, and then peed, and IT CAME OUT THE FRONT AND GOT ALL OVER MY SHIRT. Yep, I've never missed anything more in my life. The sad thing is that the expensive disposables are the only ones she didn't leak out of on a regular basis, and they still didn't do the job.

That being said, there is no comparison between any disposable I've tried and the Fuzzibunz one-size diapers we invested in. We got a screaming deal from Go Go Natural when they were clearancing out the old color collection to make room for the new Fuzzibunz colors. Typically, when you buy larger quantities of Fuzzibunz at most retailers  – in our case, 12 or more – you get a $1.00 off per diaper. So we ordered 28. And then we got 15% off on top of that! SCORE! The $700+ investment we were preparing for ended up being less than $450, and she is set for the rest of her diapering days! And so are any future kids we may have. And they work better than any disposable we tried – and we tried many. Ahh, it's a beautiful thing.

Not to mention… her li'l fluffy bum could not possibly be any cuter in these cloth diapers if she tried. We got a slew of colors so she'll always be coordinated. Check her out:

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The laundry process is for a whole other blog. So stay tuned, and I'll keep you ITK.

By the way, the bow she is wearing is a very special bow. It's called the Taylor Bow, and it was made in honor of a tiny baby girl who died of SIDS in mid-April at five months of age. All proceeds were donated to Taylor's family. You can read their story and find additional links here, and I purchased the bow here (I didn't realize it sold out- otherwise I would have posted the info so much sooner!).

Opinions.

Be forewarned, I highly doubt anyone would truly appreciate this more than Cody and I, and maybe our moms too. But this child has A LOT to say, and I'm beginning to think we're gonna have an opinionated little motor-mouth on our hands in another year or so. She wants everyone to know that she has a VOICE and deserves to be HEARD! Haha. I love it.

Not to mention, today is Linnea's 5-month birthday! Seriously, how is that possible? Oh, baby girl, you are growing too fast for your mama's tastes… but it's very exciting, nonetheless. Time really flies when you become a mama.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=11958186&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ff0179&fullscreen=1

Peach Festival.

Last night, I saw on Twitter that there was going to be a Peach Festival this weekend at Schnepf Farms. Since peaches are Cody's absolute favorite food of all time, we decided that it was a must that we go- especially since you can pick your own peaches from their orchard. 

I tweeted and FB'd that we would be there, and our friends Sarah and Jeff saw my posts and decided to meet us there. It was so fun to see them- especially since we haven't seen them since Linnea was two weeks old! We watched a pit-spitting and pie-eating contest, rode the hay ride, ate some amazing peach pie, lusted after the peach cinnamon rolls they had in their bakery, and headed out to the orchard to pick our peaches! Our day in photos:

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Our driver:
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All of us on the hayride:
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Found a little friend on my peach… I wasn't willing to share:
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Yes, I realize it looks like I'm not wearing pants in this photo:
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Hanging out with Sarah:
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We brought home several pounds of delicious, pesticide-free peaches, and now we just need to figure out what to do with them. Now I need some recipes from YOU! Peach pie? Peach preserves? Other ideas? Shoot 'em my way!

Current favorite toy.

When I was in California (more on that later), I picked up a new play gym to keep Linnea occupied when I am trying to get some work done. While she loves the play gym she already has, it was time for a little change of scenery. And let me tell you, she LOVES IT! I got her a Petals and Friends Activity Gym from Bright Starts, which is one of my favorite brands for infant toys. It has teethers, a mirror, links, rattles and a musical birdie (perfect for her room!). She literally plays on it for hours at a time and seems happy as a clam! She's learning cause and effect like crazy because she pulls on the birdie and makes it sing over and over and she's enamored with the bright colors. Here's a little video of tummy time. Just a li'l peek of everyday life around here 🙂

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=11904129&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ff0179&fullscreen=1

Meanwhile, Linnea is like, "Mom, get that camera out of my face, I just wanna chew on my lion teether…"

One year ago: Dear Linnea.

Dear Linnea,

One year ago, my life changed forever and ever. One year ago, I learned that I had a little one growing in my belly. That little one is you.

On May 13, I woke up feeling a little funny- shaky legs, weak, nauseous. I thought I was anemic again- I was borderline in college, so I thought I needed to find a family doctor so I could go get checked out. I texted my (clairvoyant) friend Jessica to ask if they had a family doctor she would recommend, and her response?

"ARE YOU PREGNANT?"

Apparently if she so much as thinks that someone is pregnant, there's a 100% chance that she is.

I denied that it was even a possibility, even though it completely was. I mean, after all, I was actually starting to wonder if your dad and I could even have kids, because honestly at that point it was kind of crazy that we hadn't gotten pregnant yet. And three days before this fateful day, we had a discussion about whether or not we even wanted kids- we were so not ready to have one that we thought, heck, we'll probably just be fine if we never have kids! 

But with the idea firmly planted in my head, I started to do some research online. And as I learned things I never knew about the symptoms of pregnancy, all of which I had, and I thought about the happy hour I was planning to attend later in the week with my friends, where I would probably have a couple of beers, and that if I'm pregnant I can't have any beers, so I'd better be sure that I'm not before I go, I made that fateful if not prophetic trip to Walgreens to pick up a pack of pregnancy tests, where I was ambushed by an employee whose sister had an eerily parallel story to mine, and said employee was super excited for the child that may or may not be residing in my uterus. If that run-on sentence is any indication of the whirlwind that day was, the events leading up to the positive outcome of the pregnancy test I took pales in comparison to the emotions I felt when I learned that I was the mother I wasn't even sure I wanted to be.

But now I'm your mom, and I can't imagine my life any other way. You were a big surprise, but the best surprise I've EVER received. You're a miracle and a life-changer. You're an angel on earth. Sometimes I wonder if you were timed to save my life, but even if none of the medical issues I've faced since learning of you were even there, I wouldn't question the gift that you are. I never thought I would want more than one kid if I was blessed with one (because no matter what, kids are a blessing), but now you're here and your daddy and I want to give you a brother or sister. But, my little one, if you are the only one God has planned for us, we are completely OK with that. You have filled my heart to the point that I think it would just burst at any time, and I wouldn't change the outcome of that day if my life depended on it.

So, on this anniversary of the discovery of you, I am on my way with you and Auntie Jessica for a girls' weekend in California with Auntie Amber. I love that we're spending this time with my dearest friends who were there from the very beginning of my journey toward knowing and loving you. But the best thing of all is that you are here with us. A happy, healthy little girl so full of life and joy for whom I will be forever grateful.

Yes, indeed. One year ago, my life changed forever and ever. I will never forget that special day as long as I live. And now I'm going to go wake you up from your nap so I can kiss your precious cheeks over and over and appreciate that you are in my life and in my heart for the rest of my days.
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With all my love,

Mama

Naughty Blogger.

I am a naughty, naughty blogger. Good bloggers stay on top of posting. Good bloggers have something interesting to say, and the best have something interesting to say every day. I have determined that I haven't been keeping up with posting regularly because I haven't led a very exciting life lately. I started this blog hoping that becoming a mom would provide me with a plethora of hilarious, endearing stories to share with my readers.

But alas, my child is so perfect, I have nothing exciting to write about.

So what if I'm biased… and kidding. But she eats well. She's gaining weight at a normal rate, finally. She sleeps ALL THE WAY through the night. She coos, and smiles, and almost laughs, and today she rolled onto her back from her tummy for the first time. TV enthralls her (unfortunately), and I stay home with her most of the week. I take her everywhere I go and she is a little angel pretty much all the time. When she's asleep, or generally content, I get some work done. All in all, a pretty tame existence. I have an amazing kid.

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On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Bloggy Boot Camp with my talented and world-famous client Kim of the TomKat Studio. My head has been swimming with ideas ever since, and so has Kim's – so much that we're closing up shop next week so she can get some ideas implemented and the brainstorming can commence. It was pretty spectacular being surrounded by ladies who get what it's like to be a mom, to want to contribute to the family income, to use business-savvy and social skill to propel ideas forward. We learned about Web design, PR, SEO, small business, monetizing, and being authentic. It was fantastic. It was inspiring to meet like-minded women who support each other; not compete with each other. How refreshing for a profession that has the potential to be incredibly catty.

I have to admit though, that for a novice like me, it was a tad bit intimidating. I have tons of ideas that I've wanted to see come to life, but the adjustment of new motherhood and working from home has been tougher than I thought. It's not that life is so hard or complicated; it's just that I don't have it down to a science yet. While everyone there was super welcoming, it definitely was hard to feel like part of the "club" because I didn't feel like I had much to offer. These ladies are so talented and seem to have this ability to juggle responsibility that I can barely wrap my mind around. But it was so good to see firsthand that yes… it can be done.

Life as a new mom has been incredible in ways that I couldn't have even imagined. I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I can't complain about having such a perfect child. Ha! I'll be paid back a hundred fold for such a comment, I'm sure (The tween years? Honestly). I mean, seriously, writing about how Linnea has been cooing happily on the couch next to me while I get some work done is only exciting… oh… never. I'm not saying I'll never write about her- she is my muse, after all – I just have other things to share here as well. I'm working on a list of topics and a schedule to follow, and I can't wait to get organized and share them with you.

On another note, I just finished the book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Don Miller, and also had the chance to hear him speak at our church a few weeks ago, and it was a timely, much-needed message for not just me but my husband Cody as well. We're working on our "What If" lists and are determined to live a better story (you can read his here). If I've learned anything in recent months, it's that life is short, and precious. Cheers to making the most of it!