The house is quiet tonight.  After birthday pancakes for G, Gramma K and Papa Tom left this morning with a Maryland winter send-off of snowy swirls and frozen rain.  The puppies spent the day sleeping off their holiday excitement by the fire, and Nell enjoyed every bit of her new toys today–pushing her pram and cart, sticking stickers, pushing musical buttons in a magic toy house, playing drums, and holding court in her new car.  We spent the day putting away our holiday decorations and reminiscing about the weekend, which flew by way too quickly.

Here are some of my very favorite moments from the last few days.

Christmas Eve. Nellie’s pit crew putting together her new Cooper during the day, and then… Lobsters! Trying out her new car! Matching shirts! A few family gifts!

Christmas morning. Family breakfast! Presents from Santa (and Gramma K and Papa Tom, and Grandma Judy and Grandpa Dave)! A sunny Christmas afternoon at the beach!

(Lecturing her new dolls about proper pram etiquette.) 

Last night we celebrated G’s birthday.  Nellie was pretty sure the pile of presents was for her.

 

What a great way to end 2012!

August?

When I was uploading the picture of Hemi last night before bed, I realized I had not even created an August 2012 folder on my computer for photos. (I store monthly, and then archive by year. You’d think my desktop would be more organized, but no…it’s not.)  To be fair, I had photos from Nellie’s beach day and her birthday, but those were in their own folders (because special events or occasions with a significant number of pictures get their own folder so as not to screw up my monthly archives, you see).  But nevertheless, halfway through the month, no August folder.

Because we’ve been busy.

We’ve been busy getting wisdom teeth out, showing our house, and buying trucks. We’ve been celebrating a monkey’s first birthday with cakes and cupcakes and tutus and balloons.  Also, we have jobs — those day-to-day things that crunch our schedule but let us buy trucks.

And while we’re doing a pretty job keeping up with it all, I am very behind on posting some of my very favorite pictures and catching up on Nellie’s one year markers.

She had her doctors appointment on Monday, and her stats were on the same line they hugged all year.  She weighed in at 18.5lb (<10%), with 50% height, and <10% head (though I didn’t catch those measurements).  She is happy, healthy, and decidedly goofy.

She likes sand between her toes, vanilla ice cream, and the waterfall faucet on the jet tub.

She does not like her crib, her car seat, or other things that try to contain her.

She hopes each night that you might forget to put her diaper on after her bath.

She is outstanding at pretending to be asleep…until she starts giggling.

She likes to dance and sometimes starts shaking it whenever a good song comes on (in the car, in the grocery store, etc.).

She loves to snuggle and give hugs.  She likes to sit with you and play games or explore your face or just hang out.

And she likes to be held.  Even though she does her fair share of protesting when she wants to walk or crawl, more often than not, she would rather be picked up, swung around, and cuddled.

And she’s really darn cute.

 

The First of Many

Since first birthdays are more for the parents than for the kiddos, I thought a lot about what I wanted this birthday to mean.  Because it is celebrating more than just her first year — it is celebrating our first year.  Our first year as parents, our first year as a family.  And that is something pretty amazing.

I knew right off the bat that I wanted some pictures to mark the occasion, and I had a whole list of ideas that one-by-one got crossed off.  Inspired by some lovely photos I found of birthday parties in fields, I envisioned Nellie surrounded by long grasses with colorful balloons.  But then I realized it wasn’t us — it wasn’t quite right.  And I knew, then, that she was going to have her birthday pictures at the beach on the edge of the Bay.

But before I could take those, I needed the props to go with them.

There’s a story behind the blue chair. Even before I had decided on the beach, I knew I wanted a bright high chair for her cake (since there was zero chance she would sit down and smash a cake if she weren’t contained in a high chair), and I knew it had to be a Jenny Lind — just like her crib and her cradle.  The problem is that they don’t make Jenny Lind high chairs anymore, and they’ve become a bit of a vintage score item.  They’re not easy to find, and the folks who know what they have are trying to sell them for more than I wanted to pay — especially for something I was going to strip down and refinish.

I looked for the high chair for about a month or so online before I found it.  In Brooklyn.  And it was free.  I love Brooklyn.  A few texts later and Aunt K was on her way to pick up a busted old high chair.  I think her text back to me that evening was something like, “Um, I guess it’s cute?”  It was busted, faded, and missing a screw.

I was in love.

After a lot of sanding and a lot of blue, the fabulous photo high chair was ready.  And it’s as awesome as I hoped.  In fact, after Nellie’s photo shoot last week, I moved our old high chair to the garage, and pulled this one to the table.  It might just be our everyday chair — you can’t help but smile when you see it.

The cakes, of course, were the easiest props.  I called Sweet Sues, who made our wedding cake (and all our anniversary cakes) and had them make the same cake that we had at our wedding — white cake, fresh strawberries, white icing, and seashells.  Nellie still doesn’t really get what to do with a smash cake.  Mostly she tries the frosting and decides the whole thing is silly.  She does like the candy shells that Sue puts on top of the cakes, however, as you can see from these pictures here.

With our picture props ready to go, I turned my attention to the one other thing I really wanted for her birthday: one special item that could be pulled out each year — a tradition, a memento, and something that could be all hers.  I finally settled on the idea of having her own little cake stand, and after a lot of looking and a lot of examples that weren’t quite right, I found the perfect stand that was exactly what I had in mind.  I purchased it off Etsy from an artist in Atlanta.  Check out Jeanette Zeis Ceramics — I promise, you will love everything you see.

Working off the notes I sent her, she produced Nellie’s mini cake stand — perfect for a little six inch cake.  One side says Nell, and the other has her birthday.  And it’s perfect.  It’s absolutely perfect, and I am so excited to have this personal cake stand to bring out each year for Nellie’s birthday cake.

As you can see from the pictures, she found it pretty terrific also.

With props in place (plus a handful of pink balloons I got at the grocery store that made me giggle the entire way through the store), we were ready for our pictures, plus we had Nellie’s something special — her birthday tradition treasure.  The only thing left to do?  Celebrate and eat cake!

We’re not throwing an actual party for Nellie this year, but we are having some celebrations.  Tomorrow Nellie is bringing two dozen mini cupcakes from Hello Cupcake! (in vanilla and pink strawberry) to daycare to share with her friends and her teachers.  And she’s probably wearing her cupcake tutu dress.  Who wears play clothes on their birthday?

And on Saturday, the uncles, Great Grandma Nell, and Aunt K are coming down for our family party.  I’m making lots of Nell’s favorites, and of course there will be cake.  Two mini cakes in two new flavors.  And you better believe we’re sticking one on the stand.

Birthday on the Beach

We were up early this morning to catch the rising sun over the Bay for some birthday shots of Nell.  The tutu-clad monkey was pretty thrilled to start the morning off at the beach, along with balloons, a cake, and the ‘blue chair’.

I will post more of the pics and info in celebration of her actual birthday, but here is a sneak peek from this morning’s Nellie shoot.

As it turns out, quiet, sandy mornings make for a pretty awesome start to the weekend.