Shelby’s Hello Kitty Birthday Party

Last month Little Miss Shelby turned four years old. According to her, that means she is a Big Kid now, because she is getting bigger. Cute, right? For us, this was a really special birthday, because it was going to be Shelby’s very first birthday here in California without her Nana and Papa. A big deal indeed. You see, Krystal and Shelby left Texas and moved to California last May to be here with my brother. So this was her first birthday experience with all of us here in California. So we wanted to do something fun for her.

Now birthdays have always been a big deal in our family. Not a single birthday ever passed without any notice. My mother was always great at making my brother and I feel special. And she still does to this day, even though we’re no longer kids.

Shelby picked out her own theme for the party – Hello Kitty. Which was funny, because according to Krystal, Shelby had never even heard of Hello Kitty before. But that was her pick, so we took the idea and ran with it! Krystal seemed super excited for Shelby’s birthday party too. And I love any opportunity to get creative. But this was undoubtedly my very first children’s birthday party and I knew next to nothing about Hello Kitty. So I needed a little help with some inspiration. And that’s where Pinterest came in. I had just recently been introduced to it by my sister-in-law, and had been using it as a creative resource. Now I recommend that all of you utilize this site as a tool, because it helped me so much more than Google did. All I did was do a search on Hello Kitty Parties, and tons of pins popped up for me to reference. And it was so helpful to see what ideas other people had already come up with.

Krystal and I put our heads together and tried to figure out what games and activities we could have at the party. A fairly difficult task at first. Then we decided on Pin the Tail on Hello Kitty, Hot Potato with a Hello Kitty Doll, Feed Hello Kitty Bean Bag Toss, and of course, a Hello Kitty Piñata. Plenty of fun for all of the kids.

Once all that was figured out, we moved on to decorations. Krystal picked out a bunch of cute things at the party store. And I ran with a few ideas I had see on Pinterest and some other sites. For about a month, every weekend Aaliyah and I would spend the day with Cory, Krystal, and Shelby; and work on decorations for the party. It was a lot of fun spending the time together. It’s nice to be silly with family. It keeps you young.

The few days leading up to the party were intense. Shelby kept doing the countdown to her party every single day. And then Krystal, my mom, and I started baking and preparing the treats for the party. We made chocolate dipped pretzels, marshmallows, and strawberries. YUM! We made Hello Kitty sugar cookie cutouts (that we were up till midnight the night before decorating). And we baked cupcakes and a Hello Kitty cake. We were really busy. But it was all worth it, when the day of the party rolled around. Just seeing Shelby’s face light up made it all so worth it.

This process was so much fun! I love to get creative and make things. And this was the perfect opportunity. Working with Krystal on this made me really excited about the future and planning Aaliyah’s birthday parties. My mom always made my parties special and I really look forward to doing the same for my Baby Girl.

Here are some pictures of our Hello Kitty Extravaganza! Enjoy!!!

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Breastfeeding Survival

Earlier I shared with all of you about my choice to breastfeed my daughter. That was my personal decision and I made it based on what I felt was best for both me and my daughter. I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat things – breastfeeding is tough. There is no way around it. You have to be ready and willing to put in the work and get past the hard part. Because once you and your baby do, it’s a piece of cake. Since I had a tough time (not tough as most), I thought I would share some things with all of you that might help you learn from my missteps.

First, let me begin with my terrible story. Just know going into it, that I survived and I have been successfully nursing my daughter for seven months now.

It was just after six o’clock on a Friday night that I gave birth to my daughter. I had been induced the day before and was in labor for a full 26 hours. I was flying high. I had my baby girl in my arms and I didn’t want to put her down. After she had been measured and weighed, I was super psyched to start her first feeding. I had taken the class and done my research. I was ready to go. My daughter latched right away with no problems. I loved my first experience. I was so proud of myself, because I thought I had mastered it in one try. Silly me. Not long after she finished, my nipple blistered up pretty good and became extremely sensitive. But I didn’t think anything of it. Around 1:00 am it was time to feed her again, so I used my other breast. Once again, she latched on with no problems. But she was a little Barracuda. You would have thought I had been starving her for the past ten months, and she was afraid she was never going to get to eat again. So when she finished with her second feeding, my other nipple blistered up even worse than the first. So when 4:00 am rolled around and she was ready to eat again, I thought I could handle the pain. Boy was I ever wrong! Every time she latched on to either side it felt like razor blades on my nipples. So painful. I had to pry her off and stop the feeding because I was in tears.

I felt like such a failure. I thought I should have been able to handle the pain and get through it for my daughter. It was my duty to make sure she was being fed and I couldn’t do it. I asked the nurses for help, but there was nothing they could do for me. Since it was the middle of the night, the lactation consultant wasn’t around, so I had to wait. I cried for two hours, because I felt so horrible. I kept asking my mom if there was something wrong with me. I even tried pumping with a breast pump, so I could feed her that way. But even that was impossible. So we waited for 10:00 am to roll around when the lactation consultant to get there. So my daughter missed 2 feedings (I still feel guilty).

When she arrived, she was convinced that Aaliyah wasn’t latching on properly, and that was my problem.
Turns out my daughter was just a very rigorous sucker, and my nipples were over sensitive. So I was faced with a decision; throw in the towel and formula feed her or dig deep and deal with the pain. Believe me, it was very tempting to scrap the whole breastfeeding thing, but I was determined to give it another try. The Lactation consultant gave me a “Nipple Guard” to help take some of the immediate pressure off of my nipples. That way I could nurse, but Aaliyah didn’t have to latch directly onto my blistered nipple. So I tried it, and it helped alleviate some of the pain and discomfort. It made the process tolerable. So for the first two weeks, I used my nipple shields during every feeding.

When Aaliyah was two weeks old, she had a doctor’s appointment and I was caught unprepared. Her appointment took so long that I had to feed her while we were in the doctor’s office. And stupid me, I didn’t pack a Nipple Shield in my diaper bag. So I had to nurse her without one. And something weird happened – I realized it didn’t hurt like it originally had. So that following week, little by little I weaned myself off of my Nipple Shields. And before I knew it, I was t using them at all. By the time she was a month old, I was successfully nursing my baby girl! A huge feat for me and I was so proud. And so I continued to nurse and have been for the past 7 1/2 months without incident. So there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. So with that, I am going to pass on a few tips that will help you survive the process.

Breastfeeding Survival Tips

  • Take a Breastfeeding Class ( If one is offered)
  • Talk to the hospital’s lactation consultant while you’re still in the hospital
  • Invest in a set of Nipple Shields
  • Apply Nipple Butter on your nipples everyday (Even when they aren’t sore)
  • Rub breast milk on your sore or cracked nipples
  • Don’t give up. Give it 4 weeks before you consider throwing in the towel, because it gets easier.
  • Talk to other mothers who are breastfeeding (They may have new ideas for you)
  • Get a nursing pillow or boppy for support
  • Try different positions to find the most comfortable one for you (What works for one mom may be awkward for another)

Let’s hear it…

Feel free to share your breastfeeding stories, both good and bad.  I believe it is important that we share our experiences with each other.  I found that I felt like I was the only one who was having a difficult time.  But the truth is – it’s incredibly common for moms to struggle with breastfeeding.

The sanctity of grandma’s house

IMG_3898I write about family and family traditions a lot, because they are a huge deal for me. My family is very important to me. My family has grown exponentially over the past few years. It’s inevitable when you come from a blended family. But I love it. My brother and I grew up with a big extended family. We spent lots of weekends at our grandparents’ house playing in the backyard with our cousins. I have very fond memories of those days. It was such a magical time for all of us.

My grandmother used to grow boysenberries in the very back of her yard. My cousins and I all used to sneak back there to pick the berries off the vines and eat them. We all thought we were so sly, but we always got caught. During the hot summer months we spent more time at their house for barbecues and family gatherings. They set up a slip n slide for us to play with. We also played Boce Ball and Badmitton as we got older.

That’s me back in the 80s

My favorite memories are of our family gatherings at their house at the holidays – Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Everyone gathered around the table eating. Playing in the backyard all afternoon.

There is a lot of family history that has taken place in my grandparents’ backyard. So much, that I could not think of any better place for George and I to get married. So in May of 2008, George and I committed to spending our lives together my grandparents’ beautiful backyard. A beautiful day. One that I thought could never be surpassed in my memories. That was, until the day that my baby girl was born. But each time I visit my grandparents’ house, I am reminded of the hundreds of experiences I have had throughout my lifetime. My grandma and grandpa are the greatest role models – kind and loving. Married for 65 years. I cherish my time with them and I continue to make as many memories with them as I can.

Grandma’s house is a special place. We would all be very lucky to remember that.

Mommy Project: Weekly Baby Portraits

Babies grow and change so quickly. I didn’t think it was possible, but from one day to the next, my daughter is looking and acting differently. I keep seeing her childhood flash before my eyes. Just last week, I was waiting for her to officially crawl on all fours and this weeks she’s crawing, sitting up, and pulling herself up to a stand. Talk about a huge shocker! I get so excited for her to reach a new milestone, and she keeps blowing by them. It is for this reason, that I have created this Mommy Project. I call them Baby Portraits.

It’s so simple and easy. Especially these days, since every cell phone has a camera on it. You are already well equipped. Some mom’s document each month with a traditional monthly sign, but I feel like you need so many more pictures than just one. I do pictures with my Baby Girl every week. It gives us something to do while Daddy is at work and it gives me a chance to get creative. Another reason why I do these pictures every week, is because I send them out via text message or email to my parents, family, in-laws and friends to keep them updated on how Aaliyah is growing and changing. Plus, I feel like it makes people feel special and let’s them know we’re thinking about them. I also like to send them to my husband while he’s stuck at work. That way it reminds him why he gets up early everyday and puts in all those long hours.

Holiday Portraits: All of the holiday pictures are easy to figure out. Christmas = Santa Hats, Elf Shoes, Christmas Lights, and so on. Easter = Easter Baskets, Bunny Ears, and cute little outfits. Fourth of July = Uncle Sam Beard, Bathing Suits, and American Flags. You get the idea. Anything goes. That’s the best part about this project – you get to take the idea and run with it. I have included some of the holiday pictures that I have done so far with my Baby Girl, so you get the picture. Literally!

But not every week has a holiday for you to exploit for inspiration. So this is where the fun begins. I love using props to get the ball rolling. Things like hats, sunglasses, mustaches, jewelry, stuffed animals, etc. The sky is the limit. Sometimes I just sit around dreaming up ideas for our little photo shoots. During this time, I also like to take some video with my phone as well. I save them on my computer for the ultimate Year One Mommy Project. We’ll discuss that at a later date. But the bottom line for these Baby Portraits is have fun with it. And embrace the moment while you’re in it, because it goes by so fast. Enjoy the moment while you’re making the memories. There is no getting this time back. You’ll be glad ten or fifteen years down the road when you can look back on them.

And if you have any cool ideas, please share them! I am always looking for new ideas for my picture sessions. Sometimes a new idea is difficult to come by in the moment. And feel free to share your photos too! I’d love to see them!!! Happy picture taking.