Cupcakes, Roses, Mint and Pink…Lily Rose’s First Birthday Party

cake smash cakePlanning Lily Rose’s First Birthday Party was another labour of love (I loved most of the party planning, but it was still a lot of work!). I distinctly remember my aunt Michelle saying she couldn’t wait to see what our precious girl’s big day would look like. I said I wasn’t going to go over the top, it would just be small. I knew I’d be back at work by then, and that was going to be enough stress for this first-time momma. But fast forward a few months and that quaint little gathering had grown into a bigger birthday event.

I had ordered our baby girl a custom-made birthday outfit to wear on her special day, spent hours trying and re-trying to get a giant cupcake baked and iced just right, and run around Regina looking for the right cake topper to compliment the mint and pink party colours (not sure I ever found the exact one I envisioned, but at some point, I had to let go and just be satisfied with the three options I’d already purchased;) The planning began months before the actual date, and in the weeks leading up, it became almost all-consuming:  everyday I thought of something new to include on my to-do list:  a new DIY project I should have started, like yesterday; new Pins and outlandish inspirations that kept me awake at night, longing to recreate; new jobs around the house for Jon to finish before family and friends visited our home, many of whom would be seeing it for the first time.

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I started with a cupcake theme, since well, I love baking them, but also because we used cupcakes to announce our pregnancy, again when we found out we were having a girl, and then with stickers on Lily’s onesies for her monthly pics. So I baked cupcakes along with a giant cupcake (thanks mommy friend Amanda for lending me the giant pan!). I took a cue off my aunt Michelle and cousin Dakota who made beautiful rosettes on my baby shower cupcakes, in honour of Lily Rose, and tried my best to re-create them on the big cake as well the cupcakes. Thank you to my cousin Tarren for helping me get the rosettes just right, and for making, and of course taste-testing, the marshmallow pops (they were a big hit with the kiddies). For the big cake, I watched an awesome tutorial over and over before first attempting it for LR’s cake smash photo session a few weeks before her actual party. And good thing I did, cause it took me a few tries to get it right (I didn’t use cake flour the first time, as instructed, oops)! I had to convert some of the measurements as it’s a UK woman doing this giant cupcake how-to but that’s when my Englishman comes in handy ha ha;). For the goodie bags, I found cute coloured ones from Party City, cupcake stickers from London Drugs to decorate them with, and filled them with a few age-appropriate treats and a bath toy:)

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Some things were borrowed, some things were gifted, used to decorate her room, then recycled for her birthday. I used the gorgeous tissue tassel garland from my amazing girlfriends gifted at my shower, and the colourfull pom poms used to decorate Lily’s room. To tie in with the theme, I created a cupcake liner garland to decorate the table. I knew I wanted to hang Lily’s monthly pictures on display, so I looked for inspiration on Pinterest and ended up creating one with scrap booking paper from Walmart, polka dot ribbon from Party City, and clothes pins from the Dollar Store. And for her cake smash pics, I used the ribbon and pins, just in different colours, and doilies like I’d seen her on Pinterest. For her highchair decoration, I took inspiration but didn’t follow a tutorial, instead just cutting bunting and letters out of Walmart scrap booking paper, and stringing them on cheap ribbon, along with cheap tulle (I couldn’t bring myself to buy the good stuff I spied at Party City in the wedding section).

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It was a day to celebrate our precious babe; a girl who lights up so many lives! But since the guest of honour won’t actually remember it, the day was also about Jon and I, who were ready to celebrate the fact that we had also made it through the first year of parenthood;) We wanted a party with all those who had supported us on this journey, so we made sure to have yummy food, delicious treats and of course, some adult beverages, on top of the kid-friendly fare!

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Friends and family visited, the kids played with Lily Rose’s toys and a fun candy machine Jon broke out just for the occasion. Us adults ate and laughed and had a few drinks. We sang to the birthday girl, then watched her tentatively eat her special cupcake.

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Then we opened a crazy amount of gifts. Seriously, this girl got spoiled! Thank you to everyone who gifted her with such fun and thoughtful toys, books, clothes and keepsakes!!!

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Like decorating her room, I had a lot of expectations and a certain vision; I worried not everything would go exactly as planned or look as beautiful as I imagined it in my head. But just like with her gorgeous baby room, things ended up even better than I could have imagined, because it was OUR day, shared with amazing family and friends who made it a memorable event:) And because our birthday babe, as content as could be and loving all the attention, was the best gift on her big day!!!

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To Lily Rose on Her 1st Birthday <3

IMGP2623How this year with you has flown by. How you have grown little girl. How you have changed me in a million wonderful ways my sweet, smart, silly, sassy babe. Life hasn’t been the same since you came into this world, and your Daddy and I wouldn’t have it any other way; even though it hasn’t always been easy, it has made for the best year of our lives yet. In such a short time, you have filled our hearts with such joy, and taught us new levels of love and patience.

You are our sunshine girl, so happy that it’s contagious. You have woken up every day of your young life with a smile on your face (cause you smiled super early!). Always ready to tackle the day, excited to play and explore this big beautiful world. Our Monkey.

A busy babe, you haven’t stopped moving since you could kick your legs, roll over, sit up and reach for things. You are still the fastest crawler (from your early commando crawl to a kind of slide, now standing on one knee in typical Lily stance!). You are constantly on the go! But save for a few shaky steps recently, you aren’t ready to walk just yet. Take your time, sweetie. Enjoy being little and don’t rush this growing up thing!

You are physically strong for your small frame, sometimes shocking us with how forceful you can be while playing with your toys or other children. “She’s no delicate flower, that Lily Rose!” Just remember to be kind, little big one. You are already more rough and tumble than we expected. You adore the swing, love being thrown in the air by Daddy, jumping around with Mommy. Please be careful our fearless babe.

You love the bath, and were excited in the pool at swimming lessons. Even when you take a tumble, you are quick to recover and most often you just keep going. Even immunizations didn’t seem to scare you. You are brave.

And you are so good with your little tinker hands:  early on you were able to put your soother in and out of your mouth, hold a bottle, and turn the pages of your beloved books. You loved waving for a time, then it was all about clapping. Now it’s pointing and asking us to name things. You are busy learning something new everyday; your little mind is always a-buzz and it’s a wonderful thing to watch.

20150517_083623When you see other kids or animals, you scream excitedly, trying your best to get their attention. You are happiest out and about, so social. Our Little Miss Chatterbox; a surprisingly loud voice from a tiny girl with lots to say! Beautiful baby babbling evolved to Mom, Dad, Dat (for Cat or That), Bababa for ball and book and pretty much everything for a time;) A lot of Num Num Nums while eating your favourites:  fruit, cheese and pasta. You sign “Milk” for everything now that you know it gets you what you want, cheeky monkey;) Your giggle is the cutest sound in the world, and nothing makes you laugh like Daddy tickling you or Mommy’s silly dance moves. You may not love giving kisses yet, but your sweet snuggles are THE. BEST.

Because even though you are small, you already have a BIG personality. While you are happy and often easygoing like Daddy, you could still prove to be a strong willed child. You definitely have a lot of Mommy in you too, and that means you are a bit stubborn. But a little sass never hurt anyone;)

You love music, are happy at Kindermusik, and what started as a silly shake of the head when you heard a beat you liked has progressed to a cute wiggle and babby jig to your favourite jams. Don’t ever be afraid to dance to your own beat Lillers:)

Everyone told us you were an easy baby, and we think it’s gotta be true:  you were, and still are, a good sleeper, eater, and usually fun to take out and about. Even while teething you manage to stay pretty happy; just in need extra cuddles and to be held more. We are so lucky that except for a few colds and a mild chest infection, you have been healthy. So thank you for making this first-time parent thing easier than it could have been!

20150510_095652Still, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. No matter how good a baby you were, there still were hard times:  all of us covered in poop, pee or puke; sleepless nights of Daddy waking to put your precious dummy back in your mouth twenty times; marathon midnight feeds and weeks of sore nipples for Mommy. Then you wouldn’t let me put you down for what seemed like months. Our bond was strong, sometimes it seemed too intense, and I sometimes cried as you did, my sweet. And now you test our patience as you throw food off your highchair or try and grab at things you aren’t meant to, all with the most mischievous grin.

But when things get hard, a day is rough, one of us is a little sick or tired, it’s that grin or your giggle, even just the sight of your lovely face, that make things better. You have that gift my girl:  the ability to make bad things fade away, because we have your love, and that makes this life sweeter than we ever imagined. Really WE are the lucky ones, to be loved by YOU!

So never change little one. Never stop being super smiley and crazy excited about life. Be silly and curious and all kinds of beautiful just by being you. Be brave and bold, and don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t lose your sparkle, and never let others get you down. And when things seem hard or life gets crazy, know that you can overcome anything, because you are loved unconditionally by a family that will fight tooth and nail to make sure you are happy, healthy and safe. We are yours, forever!!

How we met 2I really felt it then when you arrived, and it has only gotten stronger since; the belief that you were always meant to be here with us, that I was always meant to be your mother. I’m not a religious person, neither is your father, but we think that there is a place where little souls watch over us all and when ready, make their way down, choosing which parents to join. So Lily Rose, on your birthday and everyday, we thank you SO MUCH for picking us ❤

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Little and Loving It

I am sure all parents, especially new moms, worry about their babies. Sometimes a ridiculous amount. From the moment the little bundles of joy come into our lives, we are programmed to worry about them. Their health, safety and happiness become our primary concern. One mom worries why her baby won’t sleep at night. Another can’t get hers to nap. Some have issues with their babies going days without pooping. Later some parents stress themselves silly if their babies haven’t sat up, crawled or walked by a certain time. Once they do become mobile, it’s the bumps and bruises to worry about; the dangers to precious baby that lay everywhere around the home. Just when you are through one stage and feel you have battled and won the war against one worry, a whole new slew of concerns come crashing down on you like a tidal wave of crazy. At least that’s what it sometimes felt like for me.

Lily just bornMy biggest concern was all about why my little lady was exactly that:  so little. From the moment we met her, Jon and I marveled at her strangely large hands, her loud cry, and how tiny she was. She grew into her hands thankfully;0 But she is still a loud little lady (giggling with delight, chattering away to anyone and everyone, and for a a period of time, not so pleasantly screaming for attention). And she is still pretty tiny.

I thought babies were meant to be chunky, with Michelin tire arms, rolls for days, squishy and wonderfully round. It’s the only time in your life when you are encouraged to gain weight, chub is celebrated, fat is encouraged. A lot of my friends have large babies, and I just assumed that since I was a pretty big baby myself, Jon is tall, and I had a sizable bump, we were having at least an 8 pounder. So when Lily Rose was welcomed into this world at just shy of 7 pounds, we were both surprised. The first few weeks we didn’t stress about her size; we had bigger things to worry about. Then came the regular appointments and the damn baby percentile tracking, and the worry over her weight came on in full force. For me, success as a new mom seemed to be directly related to the ability to keep one’s baby fed, full, and pleasantly plump

baby happyThe doctor in Estevan and health nurses there were never too concerned. They said she was small, low on the percentiles but not worrisomely so, and that all babies grow and gain differently. The only thing they wanted us to be sure of was that she continued to gain. So in between regular check ups we weighed Lily, and every time I was a little disappointed the numbers on the scale were only inching up, never climbing quickly enough. She was always gaining, but it was just very slow going! When I tried ever so casually to ask other moms of babies around Lily’s age what they weighed, the moms often had no clue, having not been obsessively weighing their little ones like I had. When family and friends held her, they usually remarked right away how light she was. Strangers guessed her to be two or three months younger than she was. No matter how much these comments weren’t meant to worry me, they started to, replaying over and over in my head like a broken record, until it was all I heard. Not “she’s so smiley” or “she’s so cute”,  just “she’s so small!” 20141020_115802

Our little lady’s appetite didn’t seem to match her size. She breastfed every two hours for what seemed like forever. And she cluster fed every night for the first few months:  Lily Rose would be at my boobs from pretty much the time Jon got home from work until the time we all went to sleep. We would dish up dinner or make something quick together, get cozy on the couch and binge watch more than a few TV series on Netflix while eating (usually with Lily still at my boob). Because being snuggled at my breast was her happy place.

sleeping beautyLR and I have been lucky to have a pretty awesome breastfeeding relationship. There were first-time mom hiccups to overcome for sure, including the toe curling pain every time she latched on for the first few weeks and an over-dependence on nipple cream, but thankfully things went pretty smoothly after that. There was never tongue tie, she never got thrush. I had no plugged milk ducts or dreaded mastitis. I had quite a lot of milk (until these past few months), so my supply wasn’t an issue. But I knew by the small amount of fat that settled at the top of my milk after I pumped, and as evidenced by my small sized babe, that my milk wasn’t thick. Lily didn’t seem to mind though:  she always seemed satisfied with her main source of nourishment, didn’t cry for more following feedings and was filling lots of wet diapers. But I worried something was wrong with my milk, or that it wasn’t enough. I wanted, like hopefully most parents, what is best for my babe, so if my boobies, no matter how large and in charge they were, weren’t supplying Lily Rose with the kind of fatty milk she needed, I was game to supplement with formula to see if it helped. But even when I asked the doctor and health nurses, they didn’t think she needed it. baby and mom

20150223_133251When she started eating solids around 6 months, the amount she sometimes consumed had us hoping she would finally be making her move to Chunktown. Lily gobbled up most things, from baby cereal to fruit and some veggies, bread, cheese and a bit of meat. Then all of a sudden she decided she wanted to be a big girl and feed herself, forcing us to dive into the realm of finger foods way earlier than we hoped! She has gotten a bit picky in recent months, still favours fruit, cheese, pasta and bread, but we still marvel at the amount of food she can fit into that little body.20150724_074439

It was about this time that I started taking Lily Rose to more activities with other moms and babies.  It was so great to get out, meet moms, get Lily socialized more:) But at times I found myself doing what no parent should:  I started comparing my kid to others. It was the baby girl at music class whose parents affectionately called “tank,” the boys with bellies that rolled out from under their tops at swimming, all the babies at moms group who seemed to fit into their their little jeans and t shirts so well, while Lily usually swam in hers (unless I continued to put her in clothes a size or two smaller than her age…of course then she had flood pants cause she is pretty long!). Even when moms of big and small babies alike tried to reassure me that all babies are different, that Lily was fine, I still stressed.

20150321_110222To be sure everything was fine with Lily, I made an appointment to see a pediatrician. It was going to take a bit to get in, but since our new doctor in Regina wasn’t concerned, there was no rush. Then her 9 month check up rolled around, and something changed:  Lily Rose made a jump forward in percentiles. It wasn’t a huge jump, but it was enough to satisfy our doctor that she was finally growing and gaining more. She said Lily was “excellent”, hitting all her milestones, healthy and happy. And since she was making progress, an appointment with the pediatrician was no longer necessary.  

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That was over two months ago, and I finally accept that I have a pleasantly petite baby. She even has some sweet thigh rolls, kissable cheeks and a little bit of a belly now. When Lily doesn’t want to nurse much anymore, I know she is growing older, more interested in playing and eating actual food than being snuggled at Mommy’s breast. And when she refuses to eat something, I remind myself that all babies, and all people, have days when they aren’t as hungry; she may be teething or not feeling well; or just maybe she doesn’t love the scrambled eggs or cooked fish I try to get her to love like me (and Daddy hates!). Whether it’s a great metabolism, just her body type, or the fact that she hasn’t stopped moving since the moment she got mobile (seriously, if there was such a thing, LR would win gold in crawling at the Baby Olympics!), she is a long and lean little lady (this short and curvy girl is now happy!) and we are hoping she grows to be tall just like her Daddy.

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20150708_044601I have also learned to appreciate the benefits of having a small babe. It was always nicer to have a littler little one to lug around on a daily basis, but while traveling this summer, I really saw it:  the two seven hour flights to and from Europe, countless hours spent in airport line ups, in cabs and on public transportation seemed a little less brutal with our little Lily. Jon can still carry our almost one year old in the Baby Bjorn, making things like a brewery and stadium tour, and an upcoming Riders game much easier and more fun. And she doesn’t go through clothes like crazy:  at the start, we got more time than most in her too cute newborn clothes, and now she fits into her sweet styles for longer. 

I am ashamed that something as small as Lily’s weight kept me up at night, because there are far graver things to have to deal with. I have friends’ and family members’ whose babies are ill, had to stay in hospital, undergo treatment or make more than regular check ups with the doctor for a variety of health issues. These parents are my heroes, braving whatever they and their child are facing with grace, strength and often admirable optimism. But save for a minor chest infection and a few colds, Lily Rose has been a healthy girl so far, and we are SO thankful for that!

20150821_142058I feel like I should apologize to Jon, my family and friends for the time I spent stressing to them about our girl’s weight and thank them for always believing that she just needed more time than others to grow and gain. I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time worrying; reveling in the joys of motherhood instead of over-thinking things. I think a big part of my worrying came from my over-reliance on the internet. It can be a blessing and a curse, this ability we now have to get information quickly and easily with a swipe of a finger or the push of a button. Moms nowadays can find the answers to all their questions, and learn so much from sources online. But it can also be our downfall into obsessively trolling sites to check whether our babies are adequately eating, gaining, sleeping, growing and learning. All babies are different, and seasoned moms and experienced doctors will reassure you that not everything you read on even reputable sites can be taken as gospel, because what is normal for one, or even most babies, is not necessarily the norm for your own. It took me only almost a year to really get this (better late than never!).

But this baby weight worry was a part of my journey into motherhood, one of the hurdles I had to overcome. And in the end, it’s only a blip on Lily Rose’s life story. For me, it has been a valuable lesson in letting go; learning not to compare your baby to others or take too much stock in what’s on the internet; being grateful for the health of your little one, and finally; accepting that happy babies come in all shapes and sizes. 

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How Sweet Are My Splurge Sistas <3

There’s a saying that “Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe” (www.pixelpaperhearts.com has the print to prove it;) Well I must be sending off quite the vibe, cause my tribe is the most supportive, fun, generous one I know. I am lucky to have a lot of girlfriends, and I am thankful for every last one of them. But when it comes to having a kick ass group of girls, I truly won the jackpot with my Splurge Sistas.

One of our 1st Splurge events-Pole dancing class;)

One of our 1st Splurge events-Pole dancing class;)

Six and a half years ago, we decided to form a group of like-minded ladies to each take turns planning a monthly get together, at which we would put money in the pot and one would win it to “Splurge” on herself. From pole dancing class to pottery decorating and potlucks. Yoga, wine tastings, bbqs, movie dates and lazy nights in…we’ve done it all. It was mostly made up of friends from high school, with a few new girls joining in, and over the years, it has grown to include more friends of friends, some sister in laws and cousins. The money was done away with as we really just wanted to have a guaranteed girls night once a month. It gets less and less about the activity, and more and more about the support, laughs, and love we share for one another.

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Past Times pic:)

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Wine party!!!

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Kirsten’s Halloween Stagette;0

We’ve swapped recipes, and borrowed dresses, travel clothes and nursing bras. We’ve exchanged advice on everything from where to go for a good wax, to how to deal with a teething baby. We routinely alert each other when a fave online vendor is having a sale. We celebrate good times together:  weddings, babies, new jobs and houses. We’ve been there for the bad:   moves, break ups and sick family members. I don’t know of another group of ladies who go to such lengths to show how they care. A group gift is arranged for the lucky lady each time another baby is born, but the generosity doesn’t end there:  when one member’s beloved dog passed away, one of the ladies organized a gift in remembrance; when another’s family traveled to the States to access therapy to help their young son, one of the girls pooled together money to help them with expenses.

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St. Patty’s Party at Jen’s:)

We are mothers, daughters and aunts; sisters and friends to more than just one another; we have jobs, demanding careers, hobbies, passions, babies, fur babies, kids at various ages, boyfriends, husbands and houses. So it goes without saying that we have big, busy lives and yet somehow, we try to come together as often as possible to discuss it all, usually over booze and yummy food:  the inevitable and sometimes much-needed bitch fest (thank GAWD for the opportunity to vent to one another!), the advice-giving for relationships, family, health and happiness. And it’s all done without pretense, without judgment. It’s just exactly what we need:  a little time just for us, to be girls, and to have fun.

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Tasting at Oliv!

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Bree Cakes for my send off-So sweet ❤

This is a group that when I was taking a major leap for love by moving from my hometown to live with my British beau in Estevan, SK, surprised me with a send off I will never forget:  while at Kim’s awesome annual Snowflake Soiree Christmas party, the ladies sneakily applied red lipstick in honour of yours truly, then came out with cupcakes adorned with pics of little ‘ole me (I was quite the selfie queen so they had lots to pick from on Facebook, hee hee). Kim played the cutest video montage while I tearfully watched and opened the most thoughtful going away gifts. It makes me cry even now, thinking of the time and effort they went to to make me feel loved and appreciated by the very girls I so adore. They knew that even though I was moving only two and a half hours away, it felt so much further away from my lady loves; they knew I was chasing my dream of starting a family; and they knew that I would never expect but forever treasure such a heartfelt show of support.

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Some of us preggos at my gorgeous shower last summer ❤

And when I was realizing that dream of starting a family, my dear friend Rachelle gathered my favourite ladies to shower me with love and baby gifts for me and little Lily Rose. She enlisted the help of several of the Splurge ladies to create a beautiful friends baby shower:  they decorated, organized fun games to play, and fed my preggo cravings with delicious treats. They all wrote down their hopes for my little girl:  what qualities she would get from her father and I, what she would love and learn in the future. The words they shared moved me to tears when I read them upon our return to Estevan:  sitting on the floor of our almost finished baby room, Jon and I read through the sweetest sentiments, in awe of the love this group of amazing friends and mothers had for us, and our baby, and she wasn’t even born yet.

Someday Lily Rose will look at these keepsakes, and read the words for herself. I only hope she can find a group of girls like I have. Girls can sometimes be cruel, and now with social media, bullying and slut shaming in the mix, I worry about my daughter finding girlfriends to lift her up, rather than tear her down. It may not be while in elementary or highschool; it may take years to meet them, or she may meet some of some as a young girl but grow apart, then happily come back together as grown women, better friends than ever.

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This past Christmas at the Snowflake Soiree:) Lily Rose got to meet my fabulous friends!

This group of girls I’ve been lucky enough to find lifts me up, never tears me down, and I can only hope my baby girl someday experiences the beauty of true female friendship. My Splurge Sistas celebrate major life moments and little successes alike; they offer unwavering support and encouragement through good times and bad; they make me feel better, like the world is a kinder, gentler and much funnier place because they are a part of it. They also offer great examples of strong, smart, sweet, silly women and are fabulous mommy models. I admire them, and strive hard to be a little like the best part of each one of them! And they can also make you laugh till you pee your pants. Really, what more could you ask for from friendship, life and love<3

The Body of A Momma

The first time I really noticed how my body had changed after I gave birth was in the bathtub. My refuge as a new mom, after a long day alone with baby, and after Jon came home after work, was to climb into the tub and soak with a good book, some yummy-smelling candle, and sometimes some chocolate (ok, often a lot of chocolate!). This was also a necessary reprieve as I needed to get in a few sitz baths a day. Before baby, this bath ritual would have involved some delicious bubble bath or pretty bath bomb. Now it was just half a cup of salt, and my new mom body uncovered and ready to be critiqued. I honed in on the bright red stretch marks low on my belly. I’d noticed them at the hospital, and while I was a little surprised by how many there were, the excitement and love for newly born Lily Rose made me temporarily immune to worrying about their sudden appearance. I honestly thought I didn’t have many stretch marks going into labour. Since I already had an assortment of stretch marks from growing, and years of losing and gaining weight, I should have known it was only a matter of time before they appeared. And it wasn’t just the stretch marks, but the way my belly looked, all smooshy, saggy and softer than ever before. Then to add insult to injury, as I got out of the shower after rinsing off, I got the very unwelcome surprise that many new moms get:  I was leaking milk everywhere, from my massive milk bags. I have always had big boobs, and when I got pregnant I knew it was only a matter of time before they grew bigger even still, but these puppies were on a whole other level. I didn’t stay in the bathroom and have a good cry (I have had some since…after substituting wine for the chocolate), because I was too consumed with a gorgeous, but needy, newborn.

20150331_170314No matter how much I didn’t love the look of my belly and boobs, I wasn’t at the place where I felt I needed to be doing anything about it. I was tired, busy, and so in love. And I was more than fine with living in the forgiving new mom’s uniform of yoga pants and long nursing tanks, preferably in all black, and when ready, pouring myself into jeans I wore when I was only 20 weeks pregnant, and a recycled maternity top. And why not, I’d just had a baby. I don’t think the practice of immediately trying to lose the baby weight and get back to your pre-preggo body in a matter of weeks is realistic, or healthy. Life has just changed, immensely,so it’s only natural and normal that your body has changed drastically in the process. Thinking my body would look or feel the same after birthing a baby was in a sense denying that something life-changing and amazing hadn’t just happened. Pictures of celebs looking gorgeous and skinny after having just pushed a baby out have us all thinking it’s normal to rush to get back to where we were 9 months ago. But these celebs have the luxuries of private chefs and trainers, and it’s their job to look a certain way. It’s not right, and it has done a disservice to all us normal chicks, struggling to settle into mommyhood while being stressed about when, how, or if, the baby weight is gonna come off.

But in one of these inevitable moments of self pity and doubt, I remember looking back at myself in the mirror in only my underwear, and saying that I didn’t like how my body looked now. I wasn’t skinny before I got pregnant, but I had lost weight, planned on working to lose more and was getting happier with my body. But now, it felt like I was so crazy far from being on the road to body self acceptance. My boyfriend and recipient of the best babydaddy award said that I I had “the body of a momma,” and that I was beautiful. This was sweet, completely needed and appreciated, and made me feel secure that in that moment, at least one of us was happy with my new bod.

IMG-20150414-WA0010It’s now been 7 months, and while the stretch marks have started to fade to pink, I no longer leak after the shower (I know it will be only another 4 or 5 months till my boobs are once again my own…woo hoo!), and continued breastfeeding helped me shed half of the weight I gained while pregnant, my body is still, for a lack of a better word, squishy. It seems as though the weight didn’t leave so much as it got re-distributed.  I wanted to buy into the “It takes 9 months to gain it, it should take 9 months to lose it” advice. I wanted to take as long as I felt like it to enjoy time with baby, without the added pressure of trying to lose weight or get in shape. But I know I’m not the only mom who felt like suddenly, it was time to make a change. Like ok, my baby is getting closer everyday to being a year old, and the “I just had a baby” excuse has gotten a little tired. For some it may come after the look you get, whether real or imagined, over still wearing yoga pants everywhere you go. For others, it may be your own disgust over still eating whatever you can get your hands with no regard for what it will do your ass cause you have a crying infant who needs you like 5 minutes ago, all the while ignoring the fruit on the counter as you stuff chips in your mouth. Or it’s the taunting of your pre-baby clothes hanging in your closet; you may be now able to squeeze into some of your old jeans, but the resulting muffin top you’re sporting, hidden under the maternity granny panties you have yet to pack away because they are oh so comfy and cover your now bigger behind, are all starting to give you complex. For me it was these things, but also climbing up and down the stairs carrying my baby girl, then being too out of breath to sing her You Are My Sunshine before her nap that finally did it. It was the aching back and sore knees (more side effects of having a baby and carrying extra weight) that were starting to be a problem when I wanted to quickly get up and down to play with my baby on the ground. The building anxiety over having to get into a bathing suit for Lily Rose’s first swim lesson may have played a part as well.

IMG_20150308_161712And so I’ve started the journey of getting in shape and eating healthy to lose the baby weight. I want to feel comfortable in my clothes. I want to be able to shop in any clothing store. I want to feel sexy again for myself and my man. So I am doing what is best for my own health and happiness, and doing it so that my daughter has an example to follow. I don’t aim to look like the girls in my workout dvd’s. I like my curves. I want to get to a healthy weight for my body shape. And I want to get fit so that I can crawl around on the ground with my baby girl without feeling so many aches and pains, and run after her once she gets to that stage without feeling out of breath. Yes I would prefer to be napping while baby naps, but instead I put on some new workout gear and get in 30 minutes of exercise. I have possibly the only baby in the world who doesn’t love to be pushed around in a stroller, but I make a point of going a little further everyday on the beautiful trails around our home so that someday, she may be a happy camper for more than a just a walk to the mailbox, and so that I get in more physical activity. And yes, some days I’d prefer to be making and eating a quick meal of KD, chicken fingers and canned veggies, but instead I take some time most days to plan often tastier clean eating alternatives. And I already feel so much better for it.

Jon was right (he’s never gonna let me live this one down!):  I do have “the body of a momma.” And it’s not a bad thing. I have discovered strength I never knew I had:  I birthed a baby for starters. Those stretch marks across my belly will be a reminder that I created a cozy home for our babe and carried her inside me for 9 months. And under the chub I have new mom muscles from now regularly carrying a heavy carseat with a growing girl in it. My breasts, no matter how large and in charge they have become, have sustained that little girl’s life. My daughter’s favourite resting place has evolved from nestling in those boobs to resting squarely on my curvy hip. A mother’s body is a beautiful, strong, amazing thing. It’s not perfect, and it looks different for everyone; that’s the beauty of it. Some have enviable flat bellies and legs for days like the skinny moms in LR’s swim class. A certain other mom in that class may still be soft and squishy, but boasts a great rack and a pretty small waist;) The great part is we can decide what a mother’s body looks like for ourselves, and in our own time. Like motherhood itself, there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it; it is each mother’s individual journey,and it may be ever evolving. Attaining the momma’s body I am most comfortable with will be an adventure with a lot of ups and downs I’m sure, but still a wild ride that I’m happy to be on .

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Designed by Love

20140910_140828 (3)Leaving behind Lily Rose’s lovely nursery may have been the hardest part of moving. I loved the designing and decorating of it; I poured so much heart into making it pretty, filling it with special touches in shades of mint, peach and pink. I searched online and in stores in various cities for personal touches to make it a beautiful space. I meant to write about this as soon as I was done with the decorating, but somehow baby’s impending arrival trumped things like blogging about nursery decor. As we finally set about the task of recreating her room in our new home, I wanted to remind myself of where I got certain pieces, and describe the joy of prettifying my baby girl’s room.

I started out with wanting owls and bright green, but when we found out we were expecting a girl, I realized the fashionable combo of peach and mint would make for a great nursery colour scheme. While I was surprised by how many things baby-related came in these colours, pink was still the predominant shade, so it made sense to use lots of it in my little girl’s room. We picked out the sweetest shade of mint for the walls and Jon did an amazing job of painting them (this was the one thing we couldn’t take with us and will have to wait until we own again to replicate). And when looking for baby room furniture, my desire for dark wood soon changed to clean white to compliment the pastel theme. Grey was added in as a neutral when things I wanted either didn’t come in my other chosen colours, or were so ridiculously priced that I had to opt for something else. I wanted to go for a bit of a shabby chic design and was hoping to find an old dresser I could use a change table, before realizing I didn’t want to fight with an old piece of furniture, no matter how pretty, each time I needed to change a nappy. We saved by ordering Stork Craft baby furniture off Amazon.ca and online from Walmart, and instead of getting a fancy bookcase, we bought ones to assemble from Canadian Tire. We’ve since got a sweet white rocking horse from Jon’s parents and it goes perfectly with the rest of the decor.

20140910_140037 (1)I scoured the Internet for inspiration, creating a board on Pinterest, looking on Instagram, visiting other pregnancy and baby blogs, getting ideas from my friends’ gorgeous nurseries. I had never owned my own home before, so decorating was an interest I could finally cultivate, and I developed a passion for it quick. Etsy seemed to be my go-to for a lot of things. I was especially excited for the personalized LR wall decal in grey and white that I found on Urban Walls (thank you to my friend-with-the-best-taste-in-the-world-Jen for showing me this site, as well as starting my obsession with prints…oh and now tissue tassel garlands as well ha ha!). We used the decal to decorate the wall behind Lily Rose’s crib and it really became the focal point of the room, and has since been re-ordered in mint and pink to jazz up the neutral walls in our rental. Someday I am thinking the bow or polka dot decals will be great in her future big girl room <3. I ordered prints prints and more prints from Pixel Paper Hearts, Autumn Grey Designs and Field Trip to add into a photo wall and around the room. To add pops of colour, I ordered tissue pom poms from PomTree to hang in the corners of the nursery. My dear friend Jen ordered the most gorgeous tissue tassel garland to perfectly match the room and added it to the group gift from Splurge and my other great girlfriends. I’m loving tissue pom poms and tassel garlands, but I’m just not crafty enough to make them myself…that’s what Etsy is for;)

One of the things that was just too pricey to splurge on was baby bedding. When I looked into the mint and peach frilly finds I coveted on Etsy, the prices astounded me. Fine if you are Mariah Carey (ok, she’d have something costing thousands, not hundreds!) but for me, it seemed silly. And when I asked my seasoned mommy friends, they confirmed my feelings that not only was it just too much to spend, baby would hardly be using a comforter or bumper pads for who knows how long, and these things, while gorgeous, would maybe keep me up at night, fearing for baby’s safety. Like with the furniture, I found that Walmart, Target and Amazon.ca were great for bedding as well as curtains (another thing I didn’t think it necessary to break the bank on…now if I could sew like my auntie Michelle and friend Cathy, I would have saved myself even more!).

20140910_135724We received so many sweet pieces that only added to the room:  pink elephant book ends from my cousin Brea-Anne, a precious silver bunny from my cousin Diane. The owl theme was still represented with cute white figurines from my Mom and wall decals from my friend Haley to put around the window. When I received so many teeny tiny, frilly baby dresses at my shower from my dear aunts Sharon, Heather and Lois, I knew that they needed to be hung on display on the wall, along with a rose shabby chic outfit from my Aunt Michelle, and cousins Tarren and Dakota. And all Lily Rose’s stuffed animals went up on a floating shelf, including ones gifted from friends and family and even some from my childhood collection, She has since received a cuddly new Care Bear from my friend Lindsay and her daughter Sadie, and two more from my aunts. The most special of her stuffy collection has to be a grey little bunny Jon actually had in his own cot when he was first born, and a pink owl we bought Lily to put in her hospital crib.

20140910_135645We were truly lucky to be given so many handmade pieces. Michelle is so talented and as soon as I saw how she created Union Jack pillows with fun fabric, I knew my baby’s room needed one as an homage to her English daddy. My crafty friend Cathy created a change pad cover in soft Minky fabric. At my baby shower, Jen’s mother Diane gifted me with a homemade mint and white afghan that now hangs over the cozy grey rocker my parents graciously bought us (Lily loves being rocked and it is a big part of her bedtime routine!). Haley’s mom Colleen made the cutest cupacke-themed quilt that brings together the many cupcake pieces in the room, perfect for a momma who has a passion for baking. The Lily Rose bunting Michelle and my friend Rachelle each created for their respective baby showers went up in the room as well.

I had a vision in my head, of what the room would look like. As a bit of a perfectionist, I struggled at times with fitting in so many pieces, different themes and various shades, but Jon reassured me that it didn’t need to be perfect, just perfect for our little girl. And when it was finished, it was even more beautiful than I’d imagined. I know that her room will change with moving houses as it has already done, and change even more as she grows, but creating a lovely nursery for Lily Rose was a true labour of love. Like the old saying goes, it’s not the gift but the thought that counts:  it wasn’t all the things we’d bought, or where we’d hung pictures, or the pretty paint on the walls, it was the intention behind these things. It was the act of nesting itself; it was Jon surprising me by putting together all the baby furniture himself one weekend while I was away; it was me searching for prints that spoke sweet words, looking for old frames at garage sales to surround them and Jon taking the time to paint them. And it was the love in what others gave us, helping us to design a beautiful home for Lily Rose to come home to.

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Moving a Nest

The decision to leave the life we had only just started to carve out in Estevan to move to Regina was not as easy as some may think. We discussed at length what would be best for our family, what would make us happiest in the future. I really wanted to be closer to my family and friends in Moose Jaw (even more so after having a baby!). Having both lived in much larger cities, we wished for the things a bigger centre had to offer. But we both had good jobs and coworkers and friends. We’d only bought our house less than a year before, but we’d quickly made it our home; it was the first house either one of us had ever owned and it was where we brought Lily Rose home to after the hospital. I felt most attached to her nursery, not just because it was my baby girl’s gorgeous little space but because so much time and love had been put into decorating it (more on that in the next post!). I broke down once before we left, and cried in the bath (not sure if it’s a new mom thing, a female thing or just a Bree thing, but I seem to do a bit of crying in the bath…sometimes with a glass of wine to console me;). I was sad that my baby was leaving her beautiful room, and cozy home. And I was feeling overwhelmed by the days and weeks of packing and unpacking that lay ahead.

We chose to make the big move knowing it would be a lot of work and added worry in an already hectic time in our lives, but the pros ultimately outweighed the cons. Jon would be starting an exciting new position in Regina. I’d need to find a new job once my maternity leave was up in the Fall, but I could continue my Master’s at the U of R then too. Finding renters for our house gave me worry, nonetheless renting something newer and bigger was exciting. Jon’s family was all still in Estevan, yet like a lot of things that seemed to quickly work out for the best with this change (including quickly finding renters and securing the new townhouse that was our top pick when we went looking), they too decided to make the move to Regina. On top of preparing for a move, we needed to be ready for two weeks’ away while Jon trained for his new job. Of course this too came with a bright side:  escaping the harshness of Saskatchewan winter in beautiful BC, catching up with friends and seeing the sights in Vancouver!

More than a month before we actually moved, we started the organizing and packing process. We spent nights and weekends sorting; the good thing about moving is it forces you to rid yourself of crap! The major purging took place once Jon had two weeks off at the end of January. Without him being off to help pack, and to do the majority of the work needed to prep our place to be rented out, I couldn’t have done it. Moving always sucks. No matter how excited you are to get into a new house, live in a new city, moving is always a dreaded task. But moving with a 4 to 5 month old is a whole other ordeal. It’s a practice in organization, and a major test of teamwork on the parents’ parts. Every two hours our hungry girl needed nursing, then Jon and I took turns playing with her before starting the often futile process of readying her for a nap (thank god for the swing and bouncy chair that definitely helped entertain and care for her for short stretches!).

Organized chaos!??

Organized chaos!??

Then one week into Mission:  Move House, LR got a cold, bad cough and needed to be put on a nebulizer. It was the first time she’d needed to see a doctor, and if that wasn’t a hard enough experience for stressed new parents, I got sick too. After being useless for a few days, I soldiered up and resumed the cycle of nursing, playing, and attempting to get her to nap, at which point we each attempted to cram in as much sorting, packing, and cleaning as possible.  Whenever I felt overwhelmed by all that was still left to do, instead of crying over a glass of wine in the bath, I reminded myself of the packing and cleaning-free two weeks awaiting us in a hotel suite in Langley. We took quick breaks to eat, see Jon’s family, and a few friends, but we didn’t get to say goodbye to as many people as we would have liked, because suddenly it was the end of January and we had to book it to BC.

Moving is hard work;)

Moving is hard work;)

After two weeks enjoying much milder winter weather (with both of us asking why the hell we weren’t moving to BC!??), we were greeted by a snowstorm upon our return to Saskatchewan. But besides that, settling in to our new place was fairly easy at first. Yes we were sleeping on an air bed, which wasn’t cool, but we were also not dealing with a barrage of boxes yet, since the big move wasn’t happening until the next weekend. Then moving day arrived, with it freezing temperatures, and suddenly my rosy view of moving was clouded by a sea of plastic totes.

Ready or not...moving time!

Ready or not…moving time!

The stress of moving was back, along with a major dose of mommy guilt. I’d felt it when we organized and packed up our house:  there never seemed enough hours in the day to spend with little Lily and get done what we needed to. And then again in a different way in Langley:  we were in a hotel suite with ample time but missed many of the comforts of home that made Lily a little happier and me a little saner (did I mention she started teething while away!?). I know babies appreciate routine, and while my attempts to start one with LR weren’t proving successful in the areas of feeding and nap times, I at least wanted to provide her consistency in the location where those feedings and naps happened. But with moving, traveling, nights spent staying with family then two weeks away smack dad in the middle, I felt her life was far from consistent or calm.

I found reassurance in what my friend Janine told me:  she had traveled and moved countries, not just cities, with a small baby. When she stressed about not giving her baby boy the consistency his little life required, a seasoned traveling mommy friend of hers told her that as long as the parents are what is consistent, it doesn’t matter that everything else around baby changes. I had stressed myself silly thinking I had wreaked havoc on my little one by choosing to move houses and cities and traveling in between. But through it all, we remained the constants in her busy life. At the start of the unpacking process, I thought I needed to get things put away as quickly as possible, to furnish spaces and decorate as much as possible, so that our new house more closely resembled the cozy home we’d left. But I’ve chilled on this front, and realized that it takes time to settle in, and a house doesn’t become a home overnight. And for a baby, it isn’t the physical structure, appearance or location that matter anyway. They aren’t concerned with moving, they don’t care yet that they have a new room, or notice how long it takes for pictures to be hung or for their nursery to be decorated (it takes most infants ages to even realize the baby they see in the mirror is their own reflection, ha ha!). All that really matters are the people inside the house, the people who care for them. For Lily Rose, that’s us, her mom and dad. For now, she just needs us; we are her home.

Home is wherever we are together<3

Home is wherever we are together<3