Luna’s First Birthday Party (On a Budget)

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Before having Luna, I swore I would not be one of those parents that goes stupidly nuts for a kid’s birthday parties. Don’t get me wrong, a love a good themed party, but I do not want to spend a silly amount of money on something she will never remember. Now, that I am a parent, and just planned the big first birthday party, I’ve got to be honest, it is hard not to go a little crazy. Planning an extravagant party is as fun as shopping for baby clothes and accessories, which is another problem I have. I am happy to say I managed to save A LOT of money and still have an amazing shindig for my baby girl.

The birthday girl wearing the outfit that her Aunt Zoey MADE her!
The birthday girl wearing the outfit that her Aunt Zoey MADE her!

I was slightly stressed out before the party. We had seven people staying at our house (not counting us), and lots of other people from out of town staying at other houses. The entire weekend was jam packed with plans and I did not know how I was going to get everything done for the party. I don’t know why I ever worried though… every person at our house pitched in, offered to help and basically did all the decorating for me without me ever even asking them to help. Our family and friends are the best and now I realize I couldn’t have gotten it all done if they had not all been staying at my house driving me nuts. Thanks guys.

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Luna’s party was “Winter Onederland” themed. Of course, I got the idea from Pinterest. Where else? I wanted an inexpensive way to transform our house into a white glittery winter landscape and I figured out the perfect way to pull it off. Here’s what I did:

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1. I emailed everyone I live near and asked if I could have any [insert needed craft supplies] they no longer wanted. I figured everyone has random bits of construction paper, glitter, felt, ribbon, etc they want rid of and I was right.

2. I borrowed, borrowed, borrowed. I’d love to eventually own all white matching pretty serving trays and platters, but right now that’s just not possible. So, I borrowed them. I also borrowed lights and decorations. Luckily, several people decorate their house like winter wonderland for Christmas.

3. I shopped at Costco. We had brunchy type food (bagels, hummus, veggies, fruit, coffee, hot chocolate, biscotti, nuts and juice). It was easy to pick up almost all of this and disposable dishes in bulk at Costco.

4. I got crafty (and made all of our guests get crafty). We used all of those donated art supplies to create our own decorations. I just wish I had more pictures of the decor… We were so busy celebrating!

5. We had a relative make the cakes. Our Aunt Amy is an AMAZING baker. She made the most delicious tye dye cake for us and a healthy smashcake for Luna.

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Clearly, Luna loved it... I did too!
Clearly, Luna loved it… I did too!
"Want a bite, Mommy?"
“Want a bite, Mommy?”

We ended up spending very little on the party. I may make all of Luna’s birthday parties winter themed…

The best part of the party planning was asking that no one brings gifts for Luna. We asked instead that our friends and family (who want to bring a gift), bring a toy to donate to the Renewal House (a residential recovery program for addicted women and their children) instead. We ended up with a nice collection of gifts for the Renewal House and are so excited to bring them their gifts! Luna is a lucky little girl, she needs nothing and we are so happy to give these toys to kids who really need them.

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Thank you all SO much for the many Birthday wishes and comments on the birthday blog and birthday video posted last week. Husband and I could not feel any luckier and our little girl couldn’t feel more loved.

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Oh, and if you’d like to make a donation to Renewal House, just click here!

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Cheers!

A Fresh Start

If you know me even the tiniest bit, you know I love holidays a bit more than a 30-year-old should. You know I plan outfits that fit the appropriate theme (and much Luna), I decorate, celebrate, wear head pieces, the whole 9 yards. The truth is, I love most holidays simply because I love having a reason to celebrate (and perhaps purchase some new accessories). New Year’s Day is no exception, but I love this particular holiday for more than just the glitz, the glam and the bubbly. I LOVE a fresh start.

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The last month has been one hot mess. Well, I have been one hot mess during the last month. “Overwhelmed” is the word of the month, and 2 weeks ago I decided the only way I was going to enjoy the Holidays was to take a break. I took a break from writing, editing, reviewing, taking photos (mostly), emailing and anything else that did not involve keeping my house and family running and happy. With 5 house guests, plus a few extra pets, parties, playdates and get-togethers we haven’t had a moment to spare. I have missed my routine, and have truly missed my blog.

Over the last few days I have tried to come up with a list (yay lists!) of my new year resolutions, and uhhh, let’s just say it’s not hard to do. I’m beginning to think my resolution should just be “make shorter lists”. I need to improve myself in so many ways…better wife, mother, friend, writer, worker, neighbor, daughter, sister, planner, eater, sleeper, person-in-general. I need to stop eating dairy, floss everyday, stop wasting time playing on my phone and start using the word “no”, which I currently never ever do. I was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed (there’s that word again) at the amount of improvement I expect in 2015, but the term “fresh start” kept coming to mind and it brought me much needed solace.

Today is January 1st, 2015. Today marks a new year. A time for resolutions, new dreams, new plans and new beginnings. It’a chance to start over, begin a new chapter and create a better version of the awesome person you already are. 2014 has come and gone. It had it’s ups and downs, more ups than downs (thankfully). At first glance, 2014 seems unimpressive. What did I do? Where did that year go? I see one failure after another. At second glance, I see much more. 2014 is when I became a Mother. It’s when I got sick and put on medications for probably ever. I learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined, yet more vulnerable than ever before. I fell more in love with my Husband than ever before. I made new friends, created new traditions, traveled, learned to cook, became a runner and learned A LOT.

There are lots of  things I failed to do in 2014, but when I focus on all I did do it gives me lots of hope for 2015. I have 365 days ahead of me and I am stoked to fill the pages with more goals, more love, more adventures and even more failures (that’s how we know we’re trying, right?).  Realistically, I know I won’t be able to check off every single resolution on my list this year, but there’s always 2016!

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Happy New Year to you all! I’d love to hear some of you resolutions for the new year.

Cheers!

Yay for New Traditions and Discounts!

Now that December has arrived so has the start of our many holiday traditions. I have always been big on celebrating Christmas and creating new traditions while continuing old ones, but it takes on a whole new level of festiveness now that we have Luna. Two days into December and we have already pulled out the decorations, listened to holiday music all day everyday, done some serious Christmas shopping, read a Christmas book, taken family pictures, started an advent calendar, drank cocoa and of course, began watching Christmas movies… a favorite being Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

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You all remember this classic, right? The stop-motion animated movie with the squeaky voice Rudolph who learns that his unique nose that causes him to feel like an outcast is actually what makes him special? Heart-warming, right? And, somehow, after all of these years, the stop-motion, the story and the music all remains as popular as ever. It’s timeless. And, speaking of time, it’s actually the 50th anniversary of Rudolph. And, I just learned the TV series has been turned into a stage musical! AND, it’s coming to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center!!!

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I am of course going to the show (and hopefully taking Luna as well, fingers crossed she’s in a good mood!), and I’ll be writing a review as well, but I needed to write this post in advance. You know how much I love TPAC, theatre and supporting the arts. I am constantly telling you all to get off your bums and see show, visit local museums, hit up the crafts fairs and whatnot? Well, the powers that be at TPAC have informed me that they are offering a special deal for tickets for this show, leaving you with no excuse to miss it!

Use the code “BUMBLE” to get 25% off select seating for the Tuesday-Thursday performances. NOW, you seriously have no excuse to not see this show. Take your kids, dress in your cheesy Christmas sweaters, drinks some cocoa and start a new tradition! I’ll be there Tuesday night and hope to see you there! Buy your tickets here, and if you are not locals, then check out the tour schedule here.

Happy Holidays from me and TPAC, cheers!

Surprise, I am 30

For the first time, I have not made a big deal about my Birthday. Every year, I announce on November 1st that “Birthday Month” has officially begun. A few weeks later I make an even bigger deal that “Birthday Week” has started. But, this year, I said nothing. Why? I’m not quite sure… 30 just didn’t excite me. Or, maybe I’ve just been too busy to think about it. Whatever it was didn’t matter, because why I failed to make a big deal about turning 30, my family and friends did not.

On my actual birthday me and a few close friends ran a Holiday themed 5k together and everyone dressed in a theme…”Hilarie’s Nerdy 30!” Even Luna was sporting suspenders and a homemade onesie. We were adorable. I ran my fastest 5k (which isn’t very fast, 27 minutes) and every one of us got 1st place in our age group! Plus, we won for “most spirited team”!

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Btw, my parents do not have wifi so all blogging and photo editing is done only with my phone this week! Bare with me.

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After the race, we had brunch with more friends and family. The food was great and the company was better. I got showered with gifts which was totally unnecessary but a nice surprise. And, of course, we topped it off with some holiday lattes from Starbucks.

My birthday ended with an overnight drive to Texas. When we arrived early the next morning I was then spoiled by my Texas family! I truly thought it couldn’t get any better, but the next day I received the biggest surprise yet.

The next day was my Mom’s birthday and she decided she wanted to celebrate that night by going to a local Mexican restaurant that I also happen to love. When we got there the waitress said my sister was already there and walked us back to a big dark room. My first thought was, “why on Earth would Natalie want to eat in this dark room”. Then, I spotted my Uncle and thought, “oh, that’s so nice that he came to celebrate my Mom’s birthday!” At that moment the lights turned on and everyone shouted “SURPRISE!”

I looked at my Mom to see if she was surprised and then thought, “why wouldn’t my sister tell me she planned a surprise party for our Mom?” I started looking for her for some answers and she began putting a sash on me and I then realized everyone was saying “Hilarie, it’s for you.” Oooohhhh

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I was seriously shocked. Not only was I surprised about the party, but I could not believe how many people were there! There must have been about 40 people. It was really the nicest surprise. I got to see so many people I love, many who were meeting Luna for the first time. I felt very special and so loved.

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I actually bought a sash for my Mom too!

Now, that it’s here, I guess 30 isn’t so bad. In fact, it has started off way better than I ever expected.

Thank you so much to everyone for making 30 such a great birthday and Happy Hilarie’s Birthday to all of you!

Cheers!

oh and P.S. the winner of the Dr. Who shoes was chosen and is in the comments of the Practically Perfect Shoes post!

L’Shana Tova!

Happy Rosh Hashanah/Jewish New Year!

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Yesterday evening was the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and today we celebrated with a big fancy pants lunch with friends and family. We have one friend of the family who keeps everyone in line when it comes to Jewish holidays. He organizes the dinners, serves the most beautiful meals, invites everyone and says at least one prayer in Hebrew. I may not be Jewish, but I do love holidays and learning about all religions so I make sure Husband and I never miss a party.

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Luna is part Jewish so I think it’s important she learnt about her heritage and Jewish ancestors. I try to learn a bit more about the religion and the celebrations every year not only for my interest, but for her benefit. I guess I should start searching for some Rosh Hashanah children’s books.

momdaughter

Today’s New Year celebration started with wine, cheese, smoked salmon and pate. Everyone caught up with one another and took turns complaining about long services at the synagogue. Lunch was pretty traditional…apples, honey, challah, matzo ball soup, potatoes, brisket and lots of sweets. This year, I am not pregnant and therefore able to drink the wine (yay!), or so I thought. I may not be pregnant, but turns out that taking care of an 8 month old also keeps you from enjoying a glass of wine. I was able to enjoy my dessert with coffee though, and they may have been even better.

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This whole week has been one weird week of birthday celebrations, fancy dinners, surgery, Jewish New Year and other random occasions. It feels a little like Christmas break, which is nice, but I’ll be ready to get back to routine next week. I’d love to share some funny anecdotes from today or reflect on the past year, but Luna is sleeping soundly, Husband is snoring next to me, Belle is snuggled in between the two of us and the cat is curled up into a sleepy fur ball. It’s time for me to join them, which sounds a lot like the end of last year’s post.

Luna's dress is from the Etsy shop, Aylinka. I'll be writing a review for you soon!
Luna’s dress is from the Etsy shop, Aylinka. I’ll be writing a review for you soon!

Cheers and L’Shana tova!

Dads Like Cars

lanemotor museum

Before Father’s Day I thought it would be a good idea to ask my Dad-in-law what he would like to do on his holiday. My Dad is in Texas and I figure Dad-in-law gets first choice over Husband on this particular holiday. We told him we’d do whatever he wants and much to my dismay he chose the Lane Motor Museum. If you remember correctly, I am not exactly a car enthusiast. In fact, my “dream car” would be a prius…which is what I currently drive. I have never been impressed for fast cars and couldn’t tell you the name of a fancy car I pass on the street. It’s just not my thang.

Some of the various tires from the various cars at the museum...so much variety!
Some of the various tires from the various cars at the museum…so much variety!

Honestly, I was hoping there’d be a nearby Starbucks I could sit at while Luna ate and the boys looked at cars. However, it was Father’s Day after all so I figured I should probably spend time with “the boys”. The Lane Motor Museum is actually the old Sunbeam bread bakery. The owner, Jeff Lane, opened this museum in 2002 and he has his own personal collection on display (including the first car he ever restored when he was just a teenager). I learned all of this while watching the intro video on loop while Luna ate.

more cool tires!
more cool tires!

Anyways, I’ll go ahead an admit that I really enjoyed the museum. The cars there are legitimately interesting to look at and read about. There were cars that drove both directions, went in water (amphibious), had 3 wheels, ran on coal,  made from fiberglass, created in a myriad of countries and had the craziest characteristics. I can’t tell you the names or anything about how they run, but they were very pretty, creative, innovative and have lots of history. The museum also had some small planes and motorcycles. Everything on display seemed to have a story and proved to be much more than just a car.

both ways

 

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I think even Luna enjoyed walking around and looking at all the colors and shiny things. Of course, we forced her to take a million pictures, but how can we not take photos of the cutest baby ever? When she’s older she’ll be able to do a lot more. They had an entire area designated for kids to play and run around. There were many fathers and kids spending the day together and taking advantage of the play place, very cute.

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Since it was Father’s Day the museum was not only letting Dads in for free, but also letting the first 240 guests on a free tour of the basement! See, the museum has over 400 cars, but only about 100 are on display at a time. the rest are either off on other exhibits, being maintained, repaired, restored or simply waiting their turn to be on display. On our basement tour we learned that virtually every car runs! It’s the museum’s goal to keep the cars in working condition. Some lucky souls actually get to drive the cars around to keep them running smoothly.

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Besides all of the crazy cars on the main floor and in the basement, there’s also some parked in the garage where everyone parks. Just outside of the garage is perhaps the most interesting vehicle of the whole museum. There is giant, and I mean GIANT, Lark LX Amphibian. It can carry 60 tons through the ocean and land. Just the tires are 9 feet tall.

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So, the Motor Museum turns out to be pretty entertaining after all. I’d even go back, which is saying a lot! One of my favorite parts of the museum were the many maps at the front where every guest is allowed to stick a pin to show where they are from. It is unbelievable how many people from all over the world have been to this museum.

my favorite

If you are interested in visiting the Lane Motor Museum be sure to check out their calendar of events! Have fun!

the world's smallest car is slightly bigger than Luna's stroller.
the world’s smallest car is slightly bigger than Luna’s stroller.

Cheers!

Husband’s First Daddy’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the many amazing Dads today! Sadly, I won’t get to celebrate with my Dad until mid-July, but I still consider myself lucky to have such a supportive and loving Father, not everyone can say that. Today, we celebrated Husband’s very first Father’s Day and while I have lots to share from the weekend (Cheekwood exhibits, Automobile museum tours, Orange is the New Black marathons, etc) I’ll just share a slice of our first Father’s Day.

She loves her Daddy!
She loves her Daddy!

I spoiled Husband with bagels from his favorite bagel shop for breakfast (local bagel shop, his actual favorite would be in NYC). We spent the morning with his Dad at a car museum (more on that soon), had lunch at a new brunch place, walked around “tinkerbell” park and had a big dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant.

Driving Daddy around in one of the vintage cars at the museum.
Driving Daddy around in one of the vintage cars at the museum.

We, of course, showered him with gifts, my favorite being the homemade cheesy stereotypical “best dad” t-shirt. I had the grand idea to make shirts for Husband and both Grandpas, World’s Greatest Dad, PawPaw and GranDude. In my head I imagined a fancy paint job with Luna’s hand and footprints, as well as Belle and Duckie’s paw prints scattered cutely across the shirt. In reality I locked myself, the pets and the baby in the garage, forced them all to stick their paws in paint, chased them around to then clean off the paint and ended up with paint all over each of us, the shirts, a sheet and the garage. Belle still has an orange paw. BTW, in case you are considering getting handprints of your baby, think again. It is near impossible to get an infant to open their hands. I manage to get one nice looking pink blob on one shirt.

Shockingly, all three men put on their shirts today and took photos, such troopers!

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Luna is a very lucky little girl to have these three men in her life who love her so much!

Chatting with Daddy
Chatting with Daddy

Huge thank you to my Husband for being the kind of Daddy who sings pop songs, reads picture books, goes on adventures, dances around the house, takes walks and loves his baby with his whole heart. Seeing you be the adoring Father I always knew you’d be makes me the happiest I’ve ever been.

Here’s to many tea parties, forts made from blankets, Barbie houses and lots of dress-up with Daddy!

Cheers!