Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Woodland Birthday Suite

Kamin knew all along what she wanted for Hudson's first birthday party and it turned out AMAZING. I can't wait for her to share the pictures so that I can post them here for you. It was such a creative birthday party theme and every detail was beautifully done. She sent me invitation inspiration long ago and I've been working a cute paper suite for the party. I hope to have it listed in the Etsy shop soon as an invitation and as a printable party pack! I always feel like a cheater when I find great Illustrations from another designer, but sometimes they are so perfect that it's silly to recreate something yourself. I found the animals at Collective Creation on Etsy and added the other elements myself.

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invitation

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water bottle labels

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food labels

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favor tags

She wanted a chalkboard to greet guests as they came into the party, so I borrowed this one from my mom and used the same graphics from the paper suite to decorate the chalkboard. I loved how it turned out!! I underestimated the size of this thing, though, and it was quite the feat to get it (and my two children) into the car to go to the party. I just knew they would grab it or brush up against it and my two hours of hard work would be gone!

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Everything about the party was wonderful, but I think Sophie's favorite part was playing in the backyard with her bubbles. She has been carrying those things around for DAYS.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Our Rock Fortress

Apparently, the Rock House is a fortress.

On Sunday night, I was laying in the bed reading a book. The girls were finishing up a DVD in the living room before bed and Josh had just hopped in the shower after playing tennis. The dog was snoring next to our bed and everything was pretty quiet. All of a sudden I heard a loud sound and when I hopped out of bed and rounded the corner, the girls were freaking out. By the time I could get to the back of the house, Josh was coming out of the bathroom with shampoo in his hair. Did I mention he was blaring Motley Crue on his iPod? Sophie screamed, "Is it a fire?! Is it a TORNADO?!" followed closely by Ella's declaration that somebody was shooting a gun. Y'all, it was mass chaos and if we hadn't been so freaked out, it probably would have been funny. 

We soon realized that a tree-sized branch fell off one of the huge oak trees in our back yard. With nothing but a flashlight (there was no moon or stars that night and the streetlights are all on the other side of our house) it was hard to tell what exactly happened and the extent of damage sustained. The best we can tell, it hit the top of the roof line, over our kitchen, and rolled down towards the bathroom. That tiny window that you see is inside the shower where Josh was standing. All I can say, is thank God that our walls are solid concrete beneath that rock, because who knows what we would be dealing with otherwise.

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There is no interior damage at all, that we can tell. It would appear the attic will be okay, too, but we haven't been up there just yet. The biggest problem seems to be the lack of internet service for a guy who works from home and a downed corbel on the back wall.

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I went out first thing yesterday morning to see how things looked and it was still a little hazy. I could finally get a real idea of how big the thing was, though!

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It rained pretty heavily for awhile on Friday and again on Sunday morning, but the weather was eerily calm when it happened. There wasn't any wind and it was dry at the time. All we can figure is that the limb was heavy and the wet summer we've had just made it worse. This was the only limb over the house, so at least we can rest assured it won't happen again!

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The good news is the roof looks like it sustained very little damage and it should be relatively easy to fix. The biggest problem will be cleaning up the yard and trying to salvage the landscaping on the back corner of the house. At least most of my Crepe Myrtles are still standing!

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We pretty much laid in bed for hours talking about how insane it was. The sound was so loud and Josh said the bathroom shook when the tree hit. His first thought was that a wall collapsed, but he had no idea how close the impact was to him. To make a long story short, the phrase "I almost just died" is one the girls in my Bible study group throw around frequently after a friend choked on an M&M on the way to the beach last summer (and after I almost ran over Ashley's foot with Josh's truck). It's probably slightly insensitive, but it always gets a good laugh. Josh may or may not have uttered that phrase a few dozen times after we finally calmed down last night. He's pretty confident if we didn't live in a fortress, that we would have suffered some major damage.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Letters

Dear July, How are you almost over already? Here we are three weeks in and I'm not even sure how that happened. 

Dear Essie Nail Polish, I have you in pretty much every color available. I picked up "Play Date" at Publix yesterday afternoon and it did not disappoint. It's the most perfect purple for summer. 

Dear Summer, I can't believe we're thinking about goodbye already. When I was working so much back in June, I was wishing you away so that I could see my people, but now that my life is under control I'm wishing we had more days on the calendar between now and the first day of school. Gone are your lazy days -- the squares on my calendar are filling up fast!

Dear Hudson, HOW ARE YOU A WHOLE YEAR OLD?! Your birthday party was so much fun. Your mom is pretty amazing and she did a great job celebrating your life. We are so lucky to have you as a part of our family and can not get enough of your infectious smile. 

Happy Birthday, Brother Cousin!! #hudsonturnsone #hudsonraywilliams

Dear Dr. Pepper, It's been twenty one days. Twenty. One. The only time I've gone longer without your sweet goodness was for the 40 days of lent a few years ago. I'm trying to get myself back in gear for a fall filled with many miles of running, much better food and stronger muscles. Even though I love you very much and miss you like crazy, we both know this is for the best. You make my pants too small and there is no way you're good for anything except a temporary smile. I wish that I could approach you with moderation, but we both know that will never work. It's so hard to say goodbye to you!

Dear iPhone, You are both my favorite and least favorite thing. I love you for your convenience and for the ability to read books in the dark after Josh is sleeping. I love that you play great music during my morning commute and that I can watch Dawson's Creek on the occasion I take a lunch break. What I don't like, is how you refuse to charge unless I stand on one foot and use the striped cord only and hold my bottom lip just right. Why are you so difficult? I'm seriously thinking about trading you in for a younger model, but unfortunately AT&T would prefer that I wait until November. Grrr.

Dear Football Season, You are almost here. Yes, there was a day when I dreaded your arrival. I hated that you robbed me of my husband for four months. Then I decided maybe I should try to like you so that I could join in the dates you were having together on the weekends. Now I see you for the wonderful time you are. Really, what is better than fall and hot chocolate and 100k people all cheering for the same thing? We have great team colors and don't look ridiculous trying to make purple and yellow look good together (I'm only sort of kidding). I can't wait to spend opening weekend with you in Atlanta this year (and Dallas for the two years after that -- how much fun does that sound?). Now I just need to find the perfect red dress...

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{one of the best football days ever // how awesome is that kitchen?!}

Dear Life Planner, I'm sorry for neglecting you so much this spring. Your blank pages are mocking me. I have been using you religiously since mid-June and already feel so much more in control. I tried to convince myself that there were better planners out there -- less expensive, more thought out, simpler, more beautiful -- but the fact of the matter is, you are exactly what I need. And even better, I found a $10 gift card in my desk drawer last week. Now to decide what next year's calendar should look like.

Dear Kindle Unlimited, Where have you been all my life? I signed up for Oyster several months ago and after paying $9.99 a month and never reading a single book, I unsubscribed. I just read on my Kindle way too much to justify something else. Then, out of nowhere, I discovered for the same price I can download "free" titles to my Kindle. I have already gotten my money's worth of downloads and it's been 48 hours.

Dear Broccoli, Goat Cheese, Lemon Pasta, You are the best dinner I've had in awhile. There is something to be said for a meal that can be cooked in twenty minutes. Why is it that the non-recipe meals, the ones you throw together because it all sounds like it would go together, are the ones we like the best? And why did it take me so long to realize how good broccoli and pasta are together. Match made in heaven.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Like Mother, Like Daughter

I got this Barbie pool for Christmas one year when I was 5 or 6. It was from Santa Claus. I remember that we spent the night with my grandparents that Christmas Eve and it was waiting for me in front of their big fireplace. I loved celebrating the holidays in that house. I think there was a Ken doll and a Barbie in a purple swimsuit, too.

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While my parents were building the house they live in now, we lived in a tiny trailer next door to some friends. I mean tiny like as small as our RV, tiny. My sister and I shared a room and my parents bed took up the entire room they lived in. Our television sat on top of a chest of drawers in the living room and we didn't have the space for a Christmas tree that year. On the upside, we had cable television for the first time in my life and I adored the Disney Channel.

Because of our tight quarters, we could only bring a few toys with us to have until we moved into the new house. The Barbie pool was just too big -- we didn't have anywhere to store it. I do remember, though, that my dad would get it out of storage on summer weekends and my best friend and I would set it all up on the tiny front porch and play with it for days, until it went back into the box.

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It's amazing that it's still in this condition after almost 30 years of storage, but last weekend the girls and I dug it out of our cellar and gave it a good scrub down. It's missing a few pieces and a few things are broken, but for the most part it's intact. Ella had played with it once before, but this was Sophie's first time to see it and she was so enamored. We loaded it up and carried it with us to the pool for the day and they sat right here in the shade for hours.

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I'm sure his daddy will be thrilled, but even Hudson joined in the fun. He gave Ken a few good chews and carried around the barbecue grill for the better part of the afternoon. At least he aimed for the more masculine accessories, right?

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I love that my mom saved so many things from our childhood. My girls enjoy them just as much as I loved playing with the Barbie clothes that my grandmother sewed for my mom when she was a little girl. I was disappointed to find that almost all of my American Girl clothes and accessories had been destroyed by water damage (thankfully the doll is upstairs in the girls' room), along with some keepsakes from high school, but I am beyond thankful that this has survived. It was one of my prized possessions and I adored seeing my kids play with it. 

I had to take this photo below after they "styled" it because it was so funny to see where they decided everything should go. Don't you always work on your tan from beneath the water slide?!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Birthday Journals

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My girls are four and seven and I've only just realized that I've never shared our birthday journals with you. When I first found out that I was pregnant with Ella, I was home alone for a few days and so overwhelmed with the news. Josh was traveling and it would be several days before I could share the excitement with him in person. I remember getting into my bed that night and writing my baby a letter on our wedding stationery, five weeks into our pregnancy. Throughout the next nine months, we both wrote her many letters that are now safely tucked away in her baby book. 

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The more I thought about how neat it would be for her to read those later in life, I thought about how much better it would be if she could read letters from other special people in her life, too. The birthday journal was born. I picked up an inexpensive journal at Target one day and we wrote her a letter in the days before her "birth" day. The journal made the trek to the hospital and our wonderful friends and family (who spent a grueling sixteen hours in the waiting room) wrote her letters as they waited. Each time a visitor arrived during our hospital stay, I asked them to write a few words. I have continued to add notes throughout her life, on her birthdays or when something momentous happened.

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When I found out I was pregnant with Sophie, we did the very same thing. Only this time, Ella was able to "write" her a few notes as well. I wish I could say I had been more diligent about writing letters, but I'll be honest and say that dividing my time between two children made it infinitely more difficult. I was working in the girls' room a few days ago and saw the journals on their shelf and knew it was time to add to them. I decided that leaving them next to my bed would encourage me to write a few words whenever I had a minute and I hope that the pages will soon be filled.

I know that looking back on these notes from the people who loved them best will be such a treasure as they grow up. If you are expecting or know someone who is, I highly recommend gifting them a journal so that they can start writing letters to baby! I am so thrilled that some of my earliest thoughts and memories are preserved for my girls for a lifetime.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rewind: Independence Day

This year's 4th of July celebration looked a LOT different that last year's. As much fun as New York was over a holiday weekend, after the last few months I was thrilled to be at home surrounded by my people. We pretty much spent the entire weekend around the pool together and had such a great time. The guys played cards and I don't think the kids even got out of the water! July 4th is one of my favorite days of the year. I consider myself a pretty patriotic person and when you add food and family, what's not to love?

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Kamin ordered the cutest bathing suit earlier in the summer and didn't love the bottoms. Fortunately for me, I was a huge fan and bought a cute black top to go with them. It's kind of vintage looking, too, so it worked well. The high-waisted bottoms took some getting used to, but they are so flattering and I didn't have to worry about any wardrobe malfunctions while playing with the girls!

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Hudson is almost a year old -- seriously, how did that happen?! He has been so fun in the water the last few weeks and this day was no exception. His toothy grin is about the cutest thing ever.

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That's pretty much my favorite view ever.

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Typically, we head to Birmingham for fireworks and watch them on campus at UAB. We were trying to avoid the traffic and long commute this year and several people recommended Morgan Creek Winery's Independence Day celebration. It's local and convenient and we thought it was at least worth a shot. It was $10 per person to get in, which included parking, live music, fireworks, tours of the winery and a wine tasting. They had a local BBQ restaurant cater, so we just had a picnic for dinner and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon. I'm pretty sure we'll make this a regular event, but we'll definitely pack more of a tailgate set up for next time.

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Can you tell I wasn't diligent with the sunscreen that day? My kids are super tan and hardly ever burn and somehow I managed to completely forget to reapply after lunch and they both ended up with rosy cheeks. Thankfully, they were brown as a berry the next morning with no peeling. Whew.

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We convinced Gran & Poppy to go with us, so Tazzie got lots of snuggle time in. She is such a Gran's girl. So much so, in fact, that she fell asleep wrapped up in pink just like that and we had to carefully transfer her to the blanket sometime later. I think all that swimming wore her out!

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The fireworks show was pretty good! It was much closer and lower to the ground that the big show downtown, which made for easier viewing for the girls. Granted, I didn't get any really good photos, so you'll have to take my word for it. I had asked Sophie earlier if she wanted me to wake her up when the show started and she said YES! Unfortunately, this was what her face looked like throughout the entire thing. She thought it was too loud and just wanted to go back to sleep. I think next year we'll have to take a nap before we go.

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Happy (belated) Independence Day, friends!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Letters

SOCKS

Dear Gap Socks, When Josh told me not to buy him socks for Father's Day, I couldn't resist. Fortunately he recognizes a good joke when he sees one and actually loves the socks. How can you resist a man in red pants and funky socks?!

Dear Weekend, You weren't nearly long enough. We filled you with fun things and enjoyed every second, but we could have used a few extra days.

Dear Amazon Prime, This week we have ordered all the things. Thank you for making it worth our $75 and for getting us said things here in plenty of time.

Dear Packing Cubes (that I purchased on Amazon Prime), How did I not know you existed? I cannot wait to use you when I pack for San Francisco. I'm hoping that I can get tons of extra clothes in my bag because of you. Please don't let me down.

Dear Sophie, Thank you for all your made up words, for dancing instead of walking, for singing all of the songs from The Little Mermaid at lunch yesterday - you made everyone smile. Thank you for being obsessed with puzzles and getting so excited every time you complete one without help.

Dear 550 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle, The four hours of my life that you consumed yesterday afternoon was almost more than I could take. I'm glad we decided to hold off opening the 1000 piece puzzle for another day. The girls were so excited when we bought you and they were so cooperative for the first 12 minutes. I'm sorry that they laid on top of you and cried crocodile tears on you and tried to force your pieces in places that they clearly didn't belong.

What happens when you buy jigsaw puzzles and a slip-n-slide after church! #walmartdanceparty

Dear Swimming Pool, You were amazing on Saturday, as always. I never grow tired of laying in my lounge chair while my kids practice their water skills. The weather was beautiful and your water was clear and it was pretty much the best day ever.

Dear Ella, You were even more amazing than the swimming pool. I know that you could swim under water last year, but you have improved so much this year. You can swim to the bottom of the deep end, swim across the pool without taking a breath and do all kinds of flips and handstands. Doesn't that make pool days so much better?

Dear Internet Friends, Do you have restaurant or other suggestions for San Francisco? There is still the tiniest chance we might not get to go this month, but we're moving full steam ahead for now. We have a loose idea of what we're doing since we'll only have 3 or 4 days, but any advice is welcomed!

Dear Tyrant, You are my new favorite television show. Your writing is superb and the storyline has been fabulous so far. Don't let me down.

Dear Married at First Sight, You might not be what I would call "quality television" but you are certainly fabulous comic relief. I'm hoping to convince Josh to continue watching with me over the next few weeks.

Dear Stitch Fix, I was beyond thrilled to see I could schedule a fix before my vacay with the husband. Please don't let me down. I need some seriously cute things before I board that plane.

Dear Husband, I'm glad I finally convinced you that concerts are fun. I'm still sad that Vampire Weekend wasn't rescheduled, but since we've acquired tickets to see Head and the Heart and Jamestown Revival in the SAME WEEK, I'm kind of over it.

Did you know @jamestownrevival was coming to Birmingham in the fall?! Don't mind if I do! #jamestownrevival #caskanddrum #birmingham #magiccity

Dear Vintage Barbie Pool, I can't believe you have survived the basement for the last ten years or the closet at my mom's for the 20 years prior. You might be missing a few pieces, but you still look amazing and provided hours of fun for my girls this past weekend.

Seriously. What is better than vintage Barbie toys?! My girls are in heaven! #barbie #vintage #mychildhoodrocked