Groundhog Day and Corban’s first steps

Everyone keeps referring to this weekend as Super Bowl weekend, but to us it was Groundhog Day weekend.

Peter has always adored the movie “Groundhog Day,” and he successfully got me on board with it shortly after we started dating. It’s a movie we can both watch over and over (how appropriate). So this year we took advantage of February 2nd falling on a Saturday and decided to celebrate the holiday and the movie with a bunch of friends from church.

There were groundhog cookies…

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(Decorating cutout cookies makes me crazy! I must remember this next time I am tempted to make cutesy cookies.)

Groundhog cupcakes…

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(Thanks, Laura!)

Woodchuck cider…

(Did you know groundhog = woodchuck?)

And acorns.

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(Because groundhogs are similar to squirrels, right?)

Corban actually got his first taste of chocolate after snatching one of the acorns out of the bowl while I was photographing them. He loved it, of course.

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Other than that, it was just a normal party with lots and lots of food. I went with my tried and true menu of homemade barbecue pulled pork, Chinese salad, green salad and baked beans. Plus lots of snacks and desserts provided by our guests.

Peter and I love to have people over, and we usually throw at least one decent party each year. Strangely, I’ve found that the more planning I put into an event, the more stressed I am during the party. This is probably because when I plan in too much detail, I overcomplicate it by doing things like beer-tasting tournaments, overly ambitious meals and detailed decorating.

This party was quite low stress, despite including lots of homemade food. No decorating, no worrying about friend groups mixing awkwardly, no activities planned (besides some people watching the movie). We kept it simple, and therefore were able to have fun during the party. I love party planning, but too often I end up enjoying the planning but stressing during the party itself — I should be able to enjoy both!

—–

In even more exciting news (more exciting than Groundhog Day? No kidding)… Corban took his first steps on Thursday!

This was one of the coolest parenting moments for me so far. It was unexpected, too. He’s been standing on his own and cruising along furniture, but none of us expected him to just get up out of his mini rocking chair and walk. But that’s exactly what happened. Two unanticipated steps. We all (meaning Peter, my friend Litzy, who was over for dinner, and I) just laughed in astonishment.

Aforementioned rocking chair, though not on the day he walked.

Aforementioned rocking chair, though not on the day he walked.

I also breathed a huge sigh of relief that I was there to see it. The sad truth is that I am at work during more than half of his waking hours, so there was a good chance I would miss this milestone. I’m thanking God that I didn’t!

Aside from a few other single steps that we coaxed out of him that night, he hasn’t done any more walking. He’s still content with his expert crawling. So for now I’ll just continue to enjoy my baby who loves to be held, cuddled and chauffeured around on my hip before he turns into an independent toddler.

—–

In other news, I missed the halftime show, but enjoyed an even better splashtime show instead.

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How to DIY a first birthday shirt (no sewing machine required)

Ah, the first birthday shirt. Yes, this is a thing.

I found some extremely cute “one.” shirts on etsy… for $32. I mean, I know the photos will last a lifetime, but I wasn’t going to spend that much on a one-time-use shirt for C.

So, instead, I bought a shirt from Walmart for $3.50, cut letters out of old T-shirts of mine (that I recently cleared out of my closet and stuffed in bags for random future projects) and spent 3 episodes of “Parenthood” and 2 episodes of “New Girl” creating this:

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No sewing machine required! Here’s how it’s done.

STEP 1: Start with a solid-colored baby T-shirt. The sleeves are a little short on this one, but it was $3.33… so, yeah.

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STEP 2: Find some old T-shirts (or shorts) in colors and textures you like. I went with colors that matched his party theme.

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STEP 3: Carefully draw and cut out the letters. Use sharp scissors. Print out the letters in a font you like and trace them onto the fabric if you need to. I freehanded it and used lots of little snips with my favorite dollar store scissors (seriously, very sharp) to smooth everything out.

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STEP 4: Pin the letters in place and carefully hand stitch around the letters’ outlines. Adjust placement as necessary, and check often to make sure your letters stay lined up. The stitches don’t have to be super tight.

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That’s it! Very straightforward. Just be sure to have some good shows on the DVR to keep you entertained.

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Corban tolerated loved it!

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Party planning tips [and a paper airplane-themed first birthday party]

The end of the year was crazy, and I have a feeling Decembers will get even crazier in the years to come. It started with birthday party prep, then Christmas prep, then Christmas travel. January has been much more relaxed so far, yet somehow Corban is already 13 months old and I’m just now sitting down to share his first birthday party.

I’m no party hosting expert, but I do enjoy planning a good little fiesta. Here is an assortment of things I learned while planning Corban’s first birthday party.

 

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1) Choose a theme – or at least a color scheme – and let that guide the rest of your planning. When it comes to parties (and, well, anything creative) I get easily swept up in brainstorming. This is good, up until a certain point, when it becomes overwhelming. There are SO many cute ideas out there (if Pinterest had existed when I was planning our wedding, I think my brain would have exploded into a million vintage farmhouse-inspired pieces) so it helps to have some focus. A cute invitation design inspired my original theme idea and color scheme – airplanes; sky blue and red. Then after Pinteresting it up, I found this stamp and decided paper airplanes are even cuter and easier to pull off.

The paper airplane theme gave me good direction for decorations (hello? Paper airplanes everywhere!), activities (decorating paper airplanes), snacks (peanuts and pretzels) and little details (signs like “in-flight beverages” by the drinks, which of course included ginger ale).

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Simply using colors as a theme works well too. Light blue tablecloths, red plates and silverware, light blue decorations — it pulls the room together without much effort.

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2) E-invitations can be just as cute as paper invites. I love (LOVE) paper and also am a big fan of sending (and receiving) mail. But I wanted to keep this party fairly low key, so a mailed invitation seemed inappropriate. There are quite a few sites out there for sending e-invitations, and some of them have really nice invite designs. I fell in love with Paperless Post, which may be the next best thing to mailing custom invitations. Their designs are exquisite, with details right down to envelope liners. It’s not free, but it costs far less than mailing invitations, and for this party it perfectly accomplished my goal of sending a formal invitation in a casual way.

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3) Grocery store cakes can be just as cute as bakery cakes. Although I love to bake and decorate cakes, this party called for something a bit larger. I checked out a few local bakeries and was not too excited about the prices. While doing some shopping at a Pick N Save near our house I decided to inquire about their cakes, and ended up having a great conversation with the store’s cake decorator. She was young and seemed to really understand what I was looking for. I tasted their frosting (their buttercream doesn’t use real butter so I opted for the whipped cream frosting, which is pretty good) and went over all the details of the design I was envisioning. It helped to pull up some photos on my phone of cakes I had pinned. The result was an awesome cake for $33.99 (half sheet with a layer of chocolate buttercream filling).

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I made Corban his own layer cake (using Pyrex storage containers as baking pans) using this recipe.

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Bottom line, find the right grocery store cake decorator and you can have a fancy looking cake without the fancy pricetag.

4) Have an activity for kids, but don’t expect them to do it. We only had a handful of kids at Corban’s party, but I wanted to have a little something to keep them entertained so their parents wouldn’t have to worry about them. Folding paper airplanes seemed like an easy, appropriate craft (supplies needed: paper. (Actually, I found an old book with 20 different paper airplane tutorials that I had as a kid, so I put that out too)). I picked up some stickers from the dollar store so they could decorate them even if they weren’t interested in flying them.

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But the activity I was excited about was a paper airplane test course. I hung a hoop (embroidery hoop, actually) from the ceiling with the idea that kids (or adults) could test their paper airplane creations and try to fly them through the hoop.

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As it turns out, having a hoop hanging from the ceiling and a bunch of balloons on the floor is confusing. It turned into more of a basketball hoop. A paper airplane or two was made and decorated, but I didn’t see any flying. Actually, Corban’s birthday gift from us, a mini indoor jungle gym, was the exciting thing to play with that afternoon. That and balloons. And that was totally fine. It’s good to have a little something planned for the kids even if it’s not a kid-centric party, but don’t spend lots of time or money on it because they’re usually just as happy playing with whatever.

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5) Play with Pandora. Every party needs some music in the background. Pandora iPhone app + borrowed iPod speakers was my super simple plan for that. I spent a couple days tweaking a Pandora station specifically for the party while listening to it at work. The mix of pop, country, contemporary Christian and Christmas music worked out just fine and took no extra time to plan.

6) If you request no gifts, some people will still bring gifts, and that’s OK. We asked guests not to bring gifts because this party wasn’t really about Corban. It was about us getting together with friends, family and those who have loved Corban and supported us during our first year as parents. Our family, of course, still brought gifts, and a handful of other guests too. Some people just like to give gifts. I have trouble remembering this, but the appropriate response is “Thank you!” — not, “You shouldn’t have!” or “You weren’t supposed to!” We waited until after the party to help Corban open his presents. Opening them during the party would have just been awkward for those who honored our wishes.

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7) Hang decorations from the ceiling. Even if you’re decorations aren’t paper airplanes, hanging decorations go far in making your house look festive. I also like these pinwheels and your (now) standard tissue balls (the smaller ones look the best).

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8) The Dollar Store is a party mecca. My local Dollar Tree is my go-to place for goodie bag items (I didn’t do that for this party though), colored paper plates/utensils/tablecloths and other miscellaneous supplies. They have tons of glassware and foil balloons, too. One word of advice though: take into account quantity when shopping there. For example, their plastic silverware isn’t always cheaper per utensil (and while we’re on the subject, it’s not very high quality either – works fine for cake, though). I think that’s how they make money — some things are overpriced and others are underpriced. It takes a little experience to find the best deals.

9) Everyone loves a good photo montage. The most time-consuming part of planning this party was creating the photo album of Corban’s first year that I wanted to have displayed at the shindig. It was worth it, though, to have the completed book out for guests to peruse. I used Shutterfly because I already had a lot of photos uploaded there, but there are tons of sites that can help you create a digital scrapbook. This is also the time to put together the month-by-month photo montage you’ve been plotting all year. I took a giant frame I had bought years ago and never filled, chose a photo for each month of Corban’s first year, used Picasa to add text to the image and had prints made of the photos. Also a great opportunity to check out the familial resemblance between you and your kid by displaying some old photos of yourself.

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Peter as a toddler!

Peter as a toddler!

10) If you’re design-minded, there are free programs that can help you create logos and custom printed items for your party. I used Inkscape, which is pretty easy to pick up on if you’re familiar with Adobe Illustrator. It let me easily design things like this banner and the food tags.

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11) You can DIY a custom shirt for the birthday boy or girl for about $3.50. Expensive etsy shirts be darned! Tutorial coming tomorrow.

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12) A mini candy bar is a visually appealing way to add some extra sweets to your table without much work. I picked up some cool glassware at Goodwill, bought a few different candies in our color scheme (worked out well that Christmas M&Ms were out) and voila. I want to do this for every party from now on!

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It was kind of crunched in the windowsill.

Phew. So that was Corban’s first birthday party. I had a blast planning it, and was so happy we could share the day with friends and family who love Corban (almost) as much as we do.

Any fun birthday party themes (kid or adult) that you’ve attended or planned? Do share!

Coming soon: 13-month update, already late!

Matron of Honor speech/rhyme

My sister, Lauren, got married this past weekend!

It was an absolutely gorgeous wedding (no surprise since Lauren has incredible taste) and a long weekend packed with fun. Before I get to the title of this post, here’s a quick recap.

It started Friday with manis and pedis.

Then onto the church for the rehearsal, followed by a huge rehearsal dinner (seriously, like a small wedding reception).

Saturday began bright and early with hair and makeup.

Then it was time – they got married! After, the wedding party took a trolley ride around Chicago for photos at several locations.

The reception was at the Chicago History Museum and gave us ample time for visiting with family and friends, eating, drinking and dancing to a live band.

The fun continued on Sunday with a brunch at the Hancock building during the air and water show.

We came back to Naperville that afternoon and lounged around Lauren and Kevin’s new house, then had pizza and played cards with my parents.

Today we drove home, unpacked and relaxed, finally. Phew.

It goes without saying at this point, but Corban was a doll. Even at his most sleep-deprived state he was smiling while being passed around and played with by dozens of people, many of whom were strangers to him. We truly hit the jackpot with a happy-go-lucky baby – at least thus far!

And yes,  he wore a full tux to the wedding.

Anyway, I had an absolute blast being Lauren’s Matron of Honor. I got all pinterest-crazy with her bridal shower in June, had so much fun helping make her bachelorette party amazing and enjoyed supporting her through every step of wedding planning (although really, she and my mom had it all under control and didn’t need me). On her wedding day, I was there to hold up her train so it didn’t get muddy during photos and hold her bouquet so she could clasp hands with Kevin as they said their vows. That was all fun.

The scary part of this role, of course, is the speech traditionally associated with it at the wedding reception. I had lots of time to contemplate possible courses of action for my speech, but at some point earlier this summer, I had a revelation. I wouldn’t just say what I wanted to say. I would rhyme it. Somehow that made it seem less daunting.

Of course, deciding to take on the task of rhyming an entire speech is one thing. Actually writing it is another. And in true Alison fashion, I left that to less than a week before the wedding, which, in my world, is actually the equivalent of doing it well in advance.

Oh, and here I am re-copying it into neat handwriting on – you guessed it – the morning of the wedding.

I ended up with plenty of time to revise, edit and fact-check, and, though it was no Shakespeare, I was feeling confident in the words, as long as I could successfully deliver them.

Kevin’s best man, his brother, Eddie, gave an awesome, hilarious speech that was interrupted frequently by applause and laughter. He set the bar high, and, honestly, I was shaking in my nude patent leather heels right before taking the mic. But once I got going, I have to say, delivering my speech turned out to be just as much fun as pinning pink-themed bridal shower DIY projects. I know writing in rhyming iambic tetrameter and reading your work to a crowd of 246 wouldn’t be most peoples’ idea of fun, but it actually was yet another highlight of my stint as Matron of Honor. Mainly, I’m just glad Lauren and Kevin were surprised and enjoyed it right along with every other amazing detail of their day.

Several people asked me afterward if they could have a copy of the speech or if I’d be posting it to my blog. Since I can’t remember who all asked for it, here it is for the entire world wide web to enjoy.

On March 14th of ’89
a girl was born, that sister of mine.
One month before, on 2/15,
a boy named Kevin came to be.

In Naperville both lived and grew,
just streets apart, but neither knew
that they would someday meet and fall
in love and stand before us all.

But let’s not get ahead just yet.
First back to long before they met.

As a baby, they all say,
the boy was quite content to play
alone, in fact, his family knew,
he’d disappear out of the blue.

And after checking all the locks,
they’d find him playing with a cardboard box.

The girl was quite a different kid.
For your attention she would bid
relentlessly, both night and day.
Her little voice had lots to say.

She loved Barney till age five.
At eight tried to keep tree frogs alive.
That didn’t end well, if you know what I mean.
But she still kept her room painted lime green.

Now back to the boy – I can’t resist.
How many times did he break his wrist?
And ankles too – and some may scoff –
he almost chopped his finger off.

Accident prone? Are you kidding?
Maybe he should take up knitting.
But football was the sport he chose,
resulting in some broken toes.

Now here’s the part you want to hear.
On their first day of freshman year
this girl named Lauren sat in class
while Kevin gave the teacher sass.

She looked cute in her Benet skirt,
but neither were inclined to flirt.
They met, but then, you might be shocked,
three years went by before they talked.

It may have never taken place,
but both were urged by David Case.

Lauren was Miss Popular
while Kevin was more jocular.
He played football while she cheered.
She loved Harry Potter; he thought that was weird.

Then senior year: Homecoming dance,
Turnabout, Prom, this sweet romance
would last beyond their high school years
despite long-distance dating fears.

From here to Arizona State,
Platteville, De Paul, they continued to date.
Not easy, but they made it through
with lots of calls and texting too.

Their phone bills may be through the roof,
but now these two are living proof
that when you give someone your heart,
no distance can keep you apart.

As soon as they had their degree
Kevin got down on one knee.
Lauren laughed, smiled, cried, no less,
so overwhelmed she forgot to say, “Yes.”

So one year later, here we are,
taking advantage of an open bar,
and wishing you endless happy times,
hopefully with fewer cheesy rhymes.

Corban says his hope is this:
a cousin Dennis or Beatrice.

Truly we’re here to celebrate
your two lives leading up to this date
and the one life you’ll share starting now,
forever blessed by your wedding vow.

Lauren, though I’m older than you,
you’ve always been one I’ve looked up to.
You’re full of class, spirit and life.
I know you’ll make a wonderful wife.

Kevin, I’m proud to call you brother.
For Lauren there could be no other.
Your patience and humor are perfect for her.
I know you’re the one if ever there were.

So now let’s raise a glass and cheers:
To Lauren and Kevin, many happy years!

Coming up for air

Today felt special.

It wasn’t. It was just a regular old Saturday at home. I took Corban for a walk, we played on swings at the park, Peter and I got crazy ambitious and cleaned our entire (previously very cluttered and messy) bedroom and a few other rooms, Corban splashed in the baby pool, I made this for dinner and this for dessert, we watched some Olympics. We did, you know, normal Saturday-at-home things.

But it felt special. You see, this was our first Saturday at home in almost a month! I had forgotten how much you can get done around the house when you have an entire day at your disposal. It felt gooood.

We’ve made it through the craziest part of our crazy summer of weddings. Two more in the next month, then one in November, but the crazy back-to-back everything time is over. The past two months’ weekends have looked something like this: out-of-town shower/bachelorette party, Memorial Day weekend, out-of-town shower/bachelorette party, weekend home, out-of-town wedding, out-of-town wedding, in-town wedding, Fourth of July weekend, out-of-town wedding, out-of-town bachelorette party (high school reunion for Peter and Corban), out-of-town wedding, THIS WEEKEND.

It’s all been fun. Really fun. I feel blessed that we have had so many opportunities to travel and see friends and family this summer. And that’s made all the sacrifices (clean house, home-cooked meals, time to breathe) worth it.

But, man, was it nice to just be home today with no plans!

I have lots to write about – I’m back to work full time, we have a new nanny, Corban is growing up so fast(!), etc. – though things haven’t fully calmed down yet so we’ll have to see if I can find any time to blog over the next few days/weeks. In the meantime here are some photos to represent our summer so far. It’s been crazy, and challenging at times, but we’ve had a blast.

Emily’s bridal shower in Naperville

My sister, Lauren’s, bridal shower in Naperville

Audra’s wedding in St. Louis

Father’s Day in St. Louis

Michelle’s wedding in Virginia Beach | Photo by Hampton Roads Photography

Litzy’s wedding in Cedarburg, Wisc. | Photo by Tim Fitch https://www.facebook.com/timfitchphoto

Litzy’s wedding in Cedarburg, Wisc. | Photo by Tim Fitch https://www.facebook.com/timfitchphoto

Julie’s wedding in Appleton, Wisc.

Lauren’s bachelorette party in Las Vegas

Lauren’s bachelorette party in Las Vegas

Emily’s wedding in Chicago

Emily’s wedding in Chicago

34 weeks old

Texting his buddies

Separation

My oh my, these past two-and-a-half weeks have been full! They’ve been full of fun and love and excitement, but there’s been another theme as well: separation from my baby.

After my first week back at work, in which I spent two long workdays away from Corban, I then proceeded to spend my first night away from him. That Friday I headed down to Chicago to celebrate my friend’s bachelorette party. The next week, due to some unavoidable scheduling issues, I worked three days in a row, Monday through Wednesday, then Friday night I flew off to Washington, D.C. for another friend’s bachelorette party. That was two whole days apart. And of course this week I was back to work – only two days, Tuesday and Thursday.

Yeah, quick transition from being together pretty much 100% of the time to being separated for workdays, then nights, then consecutive workdays and then consecutive nights!

As far as work goes, I have to admit that despite that first day of bittersweet nostalgia, I am loving being back. It took me about two days to get back into the groove, but now I am rocking out again with lots of fun projects on the horizon. Back in December in those final weeks of work, I was so ready for the break. The combination of the approaching holidays, the winter weather, my intense workload and being very pregnant caused a bit of burnout. But after nearly four months off, I am once again excited about my job. Surprisingly, when I’m at work, I can’t help but think part time isn’t enough. Then, of course, on my days off I find myself thinking being home part time isn’t enough. I guess I couldn’t ask for anything more if I’m happy doing what I’m doing when I’m doing it.

It is hard to leave these sweet cheeks every morning though.

As for my overnight soirees, I was really nervous about leaving Corban overnight the first time. I worried that I’d be thinking too much about him and feeling too guilty to have fun with my friend for her bachelorette bonanza. Fortunately, I was way too distracted by all the fun we had to be able to think too much about it. The worst part, however, was pumping – especially after leaving the hotel at 6:30 p.m. and not returning till 4 a.m. Not exactly comfortable (but a fun night).

The whole pumping issue made me even more nervous to be away for 48 hours the following weekend. I was convinced I had made a huge mistake in choosing to leave Corban at the wee age of four months. Thankfully, once again my fears were eased once I arrived in D.C. and enjoyed a really fun weekend with my college BFF and her friends.

Pumping was inconvenient, but didn’t really put a damper on anything. I’ll write more on that in another post.

Corban was fine with Daddy (though there was some bedtime drama both nights… bottle just doesn’t soothe like the breast does).

While being away overnight wasn’t ideal (and I don’t plan on doing again anytime soon), I’m glad I was able to celebrate my friends’ special milestones with them. I’m also finding that being away from C during work can be a good thing. It’s tiring spending all day taking care of a baby! Work provides a productive break and makes me excited to get to spend time with him when I get home.

This definitely is a new stage, but it’s one I’m enjoying so far.

Getting his hair washed with God

When I was about two and a half years old, my mom showed me a photo from my baptism and asked me what was happening in the picture. Without much hesitation I replied that I was “getting my hair washed with God.”

Well, Corban “had his hair washed with God” yesterday, and it was quite a special day for us.

He donned a tie for the occasion.

I was nervous that he would get fussy or make inappropriate gastrointestinal noises while we were in front of the congregation, but he just snoozed and then woke up and squirmed around when the water hit him.

(Photos courtesy of Elmer Sparks, who happened to have his camera while working the sound booth during the service)

He actually barely has fussed at all this entire weekend. I think he really likes being held and being around people.

Peter’s parents, my parents, my siblings and my aunt and uncle came into town for the occasion and we hosted lunch after the baptism. You know I’m out of food blogger mode – or just too distracted as a mom and hostess – because I forgot to take pictures of the food and the table setting I created. Just pics of this little guy.

After everything was cleared away and my family hit the road, I snapped this shot of the cleaned up aftermath.

I used my mix-n-match Goodwill “china” set and homemade Dollar Tree cloth napkins and placemats. The cupcakes were a hit – buttermilk chocolate with fudge frosting and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (to make 12 cupcakes I halved that cake recipe and baked for only 20 minutes. Frosting recipe/amount stayed the same).

Also on the menu was my absolute favorite pulled pork recipe, Pioneer Woman’s green beans, fresh fruit salad, my mother-in-law’s delicious rolls and my mom’s Chinese salad.

We had these verses at each place setting:

Peter picked them out — the first is from our perspective and the second is what we hope will be Corban’s perspective in the future.

The whole weekend as I thought about Corban’s baptism I was so thankful for our faith and the wonderful church God has blessed us with. Corban’s baptism isn’t a saving act, but a commitment to raise him in the covenant family with the hope and trust that he will one day believe. I loved how our pastor explained this during the service, especially since both Peter’s and my families come from different backgrounds and beliefs on the issue of baptism. Here is a nice explanation of our beliefs.

This was also a special moment because of the very meaning of Corban’s name, “a gift from God, dedicated to God,” from the Hebrew word Korban, which means “offering.”

Now we have two days to recover from the weekend’s excitement and then we’re off to Florida for a nice little vacation! More on that (hopefully) soon.

Parents’ night out

Last night we got all dressed up, packed the diaper bag, dropped Corban off at our friends’ house and went out to Peter’s work holiday party. Our first time going out together without him – eek!

After we dropped him off, Peter commented on how quiet the backseat was. It was a tiny bit strange not hearing his coos and little infant noises, and we found ourselves checking the backseat only to remember he wasn’t there.

I always used to hear about couples who didn’t have a night out alone without their baby until the baby was six months or a year old, and frankly, I thought they were insane. Now that we have a baby of our own I can kind of understand that a little more, but I still was excited to have an adults-only night out. We have taken him out with us quite a bit – to another Christmas party, Bible studies, church, our respective workplaces – but socializing is way more relaxed when you aren’t worrying about burps and feedings and diapers.

For the most part, I didn’t feel nervous or guilty at all. Actually, I did feel a little bit guilty for not feeling guilty, but that’s just kind of insane. Sure, I would think of his sweet little face and miss him a tiny bit, but I knew we’d see him in a few short hours. And I had full faith in our friends who were babysitting – they have four grown children, and as Peter put it, they have more parenting experience than we do. I was more worried about how Corban would treat them than how they’d treat him.

The party was really fun, as always – a nice dinner and bowling at iPic, a fancy movie theater/restaurant/bar/bowling alley complex. I look forward to it every year, and I have to admit I was bummed when the date was originally set for December and I figured I would be pregnant for it. When it was rescheduled I was selfishly glad I could partake in the open bar tab and not be a giant whale while bowling, even though it meant leaving C with friends.

But as much as I love spending every waking (and half-sleeping) moment with my baby, it was refreshing to have a break.

33 weeks

I’m a day late on my weekly belly picture post. Didn’t even have time to take a photo yesterday, let alone write. So here’s the least-horrible photo from this morning’s photo shoot.

Can you tell I really badly need to do laundry? I have officially run out of all my cute maternity tops.

Anyway, this weekend was nonstop for me – nonstop fun, for the most part, but not much time to get anything (like laundry) done.

Friday night I went on a scavenger hunt at Mayfair Mall (yes, you read that right) with women from church. It included things like this:

And this:

(Woman on the left is visiting from Sierra Leone!)

Loads of laughter that night. Unfortunately I had an early wake up call the next morning for singing practice at church, followed by part 2 of the women’s event (a mini retreat-like morning), lunch with church friends and a ZTA alumnae chapter “meeting,” that turned out to be…

…a sweet surprise baby shower!

It was so much fun catching up with my Zeta alumni friends. And Baby Sherwood now has a bunch of adorable yellow and white ducky clothes and accessories (I’m telling ya, gender-neutral = ducky when it comes to onesies, and that’s not a bad thing). The only other picture I took was of these cupcakes:

Yummm. Just some of the delicious food our generous hostess, Trixy, prepared.

Of course, after all that fun I had to go into work for a few hours.

But Sunday brought more good times. After church, we headed to Wine & Dine Wisconsin, an awesome food and drink tasting event put on by the Journal Sentinel. After my shift in the JS booth (which earned me some free tickets) we walked around with our friends Chris and Alicia, who we happily ran into, and eventually met up with Peter’s brother Noah and his girlfriend, Lindsay, who were in town from Quincy, Ill., and their/our friends Jason and Cynthia. Jason is Noah’s friend from high school who is coincidentally marrying my ZTA alumni friend Cynthia. I’d like to take credit for their meeting each other, but really we just unintentionally brought them under the same roof one day a few years ago and they hit it off from there. Such fun!

It was a little tough to miss out on all the wine and beer tastings this year (though I did take a sip of Blue Moon’s peanut butter beer – it was…. interesting), but there was enough good food to stuff me to the gills. I actually found one restaurant (Cafe Manna) that was serving a non-alcoholic drink, a very green and healthy limeade, so I filled my wine glass up with that (and definitely got some stares and questions regarding what green concoction I was drinking). We stayed quite a while at Wine & Dine before heading home with Noah and Lindsay and eventually going out for a late dinner (no idea how we were hungry after Wine & Dine, but somehow it happened).

So that covered pretty much every minute of my weekend. Still with me?

I am happy to report that this week, for the first time in months, or even possibly ever, I have no evening plans for the entire week! This means all the things around the house that have been neglected for the past several weeks (ahem, laundry) can get done. And yes, this makes me happy.

Pregnancy update

So what has this week been like pregnancy-wise? Uncomfortable. Switching from sitting, standing or lying down to any other position is quite the endeavor.

I finally understand why everyone says to put your feet up – I am starting to retain water in my ankles and feet, a.k.a. hello cankles.

Walking is uncomfortable for the first few steps until I gain some momentum to propel me forward. Seriously. Haha.

But overall, it continues to be not too bad. I especially feel blessed that I’ve made it this far without any complications, and am very happy that Baby still seems content to be inside my belly. I try not to think too much about all the babies I know that were born by this point in pregnancy because that freaks me out (obviously on a health-risk level, but also on an “ahhh I’m not ready yet!” level).

I really can’t believe how close we are getting to the end though! I am looking forward to finishing getting the nursery put together (which should happen this weekend) so I can feel a bit more prepared. Right now that’s the big thing that is hanging over my head.

Weird dream update

I haven’t had a ton of violent nightmares recently (thankfully!) but I have been having bizarre baby dreams/nightmares. In one, we had an ultrasound that revealed that I was actually having triplets, and because of this I was going to have to be induced the very next day – no exceptions!

Then last night I dreamed that I had the baby (a boy in this dream) but had labor and delivery amnesia, where I didn’t remember a thing about being in the hospital. It was very mysterious, and I was sad that I “missed out” on the birth of our child (who was very cute in the dream). Then someone told me the baby was born at 10 pounds, so I figured it was probably better that I didn’t remember the delivery. Haha.

Wow, packed a lot in this post. Hope your week is off to a great start!

30 weeks and a baby shower

The big 3-0! And I’m all warm and fuzzy from this weekend spent with my closest friends and family members, enjoying fall weather and activities on Saturday and my baby shower today.

Four of my BFFs and college roommates (we all lived in one room together in our sorority house one year  – and shared an amazing communal closet) came into town for the weekend from Missouri and NYC. We took advantage of the gorgeous weather and spent most of Saturday at a huge apple orchard and pumpkin patch in Maple Park, Ill.

So many laughs and great conversations. So much has changed since college, and yet nothing has.

Today was baby shower day – again, lots of laughs and fun spending time with friends and family.

Baby was being shy and refused to kick under all the pressure!

My sister and mom hosted the shower at White Chocolate Grill in Naperville. It started with mingling and a delicious lunch.

I’ll be dreaming of this dessert for a while – warm blonde brownie with chocolate oozing out of it and topped with vanilla ice cream and white chocolate shavings:

My mom and Lauren kept everything simple, but with lovely attention to detail.

They even made the “Ready to Pop” popcorn favors [seen above and closer below] from scratch – like, crafted the boxes out of cardstock and stuck the letters and stamp on, plus the homemade popcorn with white chocolate and pastel candies. My sister, the Pinterest addict, found the idea on this blog (via Pinterest of course).

There were some challenging baby-themed crossword puzzles and word scrambles on the table that my pregnant brain couldn’t handle.

And we played two fun shower games. In the first, we had to guess what Peter’s answers were to a bunch of questions about babies and our baby. Like, how many diapers does a baby go through in a day? And how many diapers will you change in a day? (Surprisingly, Peter answered that he would change 40% of the diapers! I thought he would say zero – ha.)

We also played “guess the belly size” with ribbon. Everyone guessed too big (some by a lot!) but Nana guessed my exact belly circumference!

We now have lots of adorable baby items (rubber ducky-themed everything is so in). I especially loved how those who have recent experience with babies gave us things they knew were tried and true.

And my aunt crocheted this incredibly soft blanket! I am so touched. I know the baby will love it just as much as I loved the blanket my grandparents’ friend sewed for me when I was born.

I drove home from Naperville feeling incredibly loved and blessed to have spent the weekend with such supportive loved ones.

Back to reality tomorrow! And childbirth class #2 after a busy workday of meetings.