Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kate's Photo Project: Months 13-18

I gave a lot of thought as to whether or not to continue Kate's photo project into her second year (see Year One here).  When I happened upon a precious pink smocked dress in the same shade as her Year One onesie, I took is as a sign that clearly I should continue.  While I have given up on the monthly posts, I thought you'd like to see her monthly pictures anyway.

Here, I've combined months 13-18 in one.  You'll notice Kate embraced the busy movement of toddlerhood and with it a lack of interest in sitting still for Mama's silly photoshoots.  Most months, I only captured half a dozen pictures and was lucky to have more than one in focus.

I'm so glad to have continued to document Kate's growth through this project this year.  It's fun to reflect back and see her spirit and spunk each month!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A year in review: One - Twelve

I couldn't not wrap up Kate's monthly photo project without one picture to capture her growth!  As I said in the previous post about her party, I printed one picture for each month to hang on the bulletin board.  I also printed outtakes and attached them to smaller cards indicating the month each was taken.  Those were tucked randomly on alligator clip picture holders along the party tables.  While seeing the pictures randomly gives you an idea how much Kate grew in her first year, I think the most impressive view is this one:

I graduated her little pink onesie after the eleventh month (really, she outgrew it long before) and used her party romper for that last picture.

For those wondering, I decided to continue the project into Kate's second year, using a light pink smocked dress I bought for her second Easter.

Kate's first birthday party

We had the wonderful good fortune to have delivered Kate on a Saturday evening (and not in a leap year) so her first birthday fell on a Sunday.  Why do I consider this good fortune?  Because our little miss was quickly dubbed the "parish baby", and a Sunday birthday allowed us to celebrate her after church services on the actual day.
Back in November of 2013, I took Kate to have her silhouette cut.  I'm not entirely sure why, but I'd so looked forward to having this done (since long before she was even a glimmer in our eyes!) and the experience truly exceeded every expectation!  Then, I used the silhouette as the theme for her entire party.  From the invite (which I didn't get a picture of to share) to the favors, her sweet baby profile, together with a light pink/sage green color palette, tied the party together.  A few pictures are below:
I hung light pink lanterns to draw the eye to each "station" around the parish hall.  On several, I added Kate's silhouette.

I sent the silhouette to the good folks at Victor Trading Company in Colorado, and they sent back a hand-made cookie cutter in the exact shape!  I made tons of sugar cookies using their simple recipe and iced in light pink royal icing to give as favors, shown here.  I also used the cutter to cut out the benedictine sandwiches we served.
Decor was fairly simple.  Above, I covered the bulletin board with black paper and hung each of Kate's monthly pictures.  Those pictures now hang along one wall in our family room.  Below the pictures, guests left "wishes for Kate".  Below, we brought in Kate's green chair for guests to take pictures with her.  A simple light blue piece of fabric mimics the blue wall behind the chair in Kate's monthly pics.

We kept the food fairly simple and tied into our pink/green theme:  Hot ham and (white) cheese sandwiches, benedictine (made from scratch--so much tastier than store bought!) on wheat sandwich rounds, fruit salad of green grapes/watermelon/strawberries, candy cane beet salad with arugula and pistachios.  We served pink lemonade and cucumber water from glass drink dispensers.  As I said, above, I made sugar cookies for favors, and we also put several out on a tray.  I did make a small cake for Kate to eat which turned out really well.  I bought the antique high chair from a local resale shop and left it at church.  Kate loves her little chair!

A friend suggested buying a book that went along with the party theme and asking guests to sign it as a guestbook to keep.  To our good fortune, the gentleman who cut Kate's silhouette wrote a children's book about a shadow searching for it's person.  We left Kate in the high chair with her cake while I read the story to the older children.  This was great, because once all the eyes were focused elsewhere, she was able to really dig into her cake!

I'd hoped to include a picture of the "gift table" but cannot seem to find in on my computer.  Because we were inviting the whole church, as well as friends and family, it didn't seem appropriate to ask for gifts, but we also understand that birthday parties are typically gift giving occasions.  So, we turned into an opportunity to begin teaching Kate about philanthropy and asked folks to bring (if they felt so inclined) a book for us to donate to Baby Health Service, a local nonprofit organization that provides free medical visits to children without health insurance.  After each doctor's visit, every child (birth-18 years) is sent home with a book, as long as they have books on their shelves.  We were delighted to take 50 board and picture books to Baby Health after Kate's party!

Twelve months

Bloggers note: Yes, we disappeared for months on end (just about nine months, I guess).  Much has changed.  I'll try to catch you up.  I may not keep at this long enough to catch you up completely, but will do my best!

March 9 marked twelve months since our Miss Kate made her arrival (detailed here) in our lives.  Because of her convenient Saturday arrival, her first birthday was celebrated on a Sunday with our church friends (where else would the "parish baby" celebrate, after all?).  I'll stick to the pertinent details here and follow up with a separate party post.  Kate finally tipped the scales over 20 pounds this month and is almost 30 inches tall.  She uses every inch to reach for things she really shouldn't (but thinks rather strongly that she should).  She is such a determined little girl, and I often find myself remarking that this is a wonderful trait in an adult and that we must nurture it (but, oh, what a trying trait it is in a toddler!).  Kate is quite an adept walker these days, and works on her climbing skills daily, much to mama's dismay.  She does fall often, as one might expect of a toddling baby, but rarely cries for more than a whimper.  We are grateful for her sweet temperament.

Without further ado, Kate at ONE:
We asked Abby Laub, who captures our annual anniversary pics, as well as Kate's newborn pics, to document her at this occasion, too, and were so pleased with how they turned out!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Eleven Months

Oh y'all.  I'm suddenly starting to suffer from the whole "my baby is growing up and I might break into tears at any moment" mama thing.  I think I've gotten through much of the last (almost) year without that feeling, but this month, as I watched my baby start the transition from 'infant' to 'toddler', it's gotten tough.  

So here is a rundown of Kate's eleventh month:
The biggest news this month is that Kate is walking!  Remember last month how she spent two weeks taking one step?  Two days into her eleventh month, we took Miss Kate to Gymboree for a trial class.  There were children aged ten through sixteen months in the class, and Kate was the only non-walker.  By the end of the class, it seems she forgot that she didn't know how to chain steps together and all of a sudden she took four steps in a row as she raced to join the others.  Needless to say, we joined Gymboree on the spot and enjoy taking Kate a couple times a week to play and learn.  We love seeing her make friends and learn new skills like climbing steps and ladders (of course, she has been eager to practice those skills at home, too).

Kate continues to be an inquisitive child.  Late this month we invested in locks for the kitchen cabinets, which she was not terribly pleased about. Speaking of the kitchen, Kate also continues to be a great eater.  We have been very pleased with Baby Led Weaning, and are so glad we chose this method to teach her to eat.  She enjoys feeding herself with her hands, as well as helping us guide forks or spoons into her mouth.  

It has been an extremely cold and snowy month, and we have had fun playing in the snow.  While she doesn't care for the cold, Kate does like the snow and loves her little sled.  The cold has led to many inside days.  Luckily, we have several instruments (and other household items that double as instruments when pressed into service by our little musician).  Kate loves music and especially likes hand bells, jingle bells, maracas and other shakers.

After learning to walk, the biggest change for Kate this month has been sleeping in her own bed. Kate had   been bed-sharing with us since six months when she became too active to sleep in her bassinet in our room. While we weren't ready to move her upstairs, she was certainly ready to sleep by herself. We used the long MLK weekend to introduce her to her crib, and were pleasantly surprised to find that she acclimated quickly to the new arrangement.  She quickly transitioned from waking several times a night to waking just once and often sleeping through the whole night (ten to seven or so). We haven't transitioned her to the crib for naps  yet; maybe next month!

After the two expected pictures above (the progression picture shows months 1-5 on the left and 6-10 on the right, by the way), I had to share this one more.  This is the first month in several that I managed to get a picture of Kate laying down in her chair.  Of course, she wasn't exactly a fan of that, but when I looked back, it seems she wasn't a fan of that in her first month, either.  So I give you Kate today, and Kate ten months ago:
Same chair, same onesie, same adorably miserable expression. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ten Months

Kate's tenth month was a big one for her and our family.  We celebrated her first Christmas in lots of ways: Kate was an angel in the church pageant a couple weeks before Christmas, she visited Santa with friends, we attended our first Christmas Eve service at St. R (especially special because two of the other babies born at St. R in the last year were there, too), J and I had our first experience putting together a toy the night before Christmas, we enjoyed Christmas dinner with one of Kate's godmothers and her family followed by Christmas dinner for the three of us at a local Chinese restaurant. After a couple days to recover from the excitement, we were off to celebrate the New Year!  Kate got a lot of practice walking in her new shoes at JE's parents' house where JE's brother and his family were also visiting.  A quick trip to Nashville to celebrate New Year's Eve with J's old friends D & E (and their wives and growing families) followed. Thankfully Kate continues to be a great traveler.

The most exciting developmental change of the month happened late in the month when Kate took her first unassisted step, moving between J and his secretary while she visited daddy for lunch for December 27th. We expected that first step to be followed by several more, but instead, she spent the remainder of her tenth month practicing that one step.  If she couldn't reach an intended target after one step, she would quickly drop to her knees and crawl the rest of the way.  She does walk especially well when holding something, pushing something, or hanging onto the fingers of someone she loves.

The most interesting thing we learned about Kate this month is demonstrated in her unwillingness to do something just because we ask for it.  Kate does things in her own way, on her own time.  We shouldn't be surprised, of course.  Our baby knew when and how to be born, and it seems she knows when and how to do everything else--in her own time.  We hope this stubborn determination will be a valuable personality trait later in life, but it seems likely to frustrate us in the short term.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Looking backward and forward

So it is customary this time of year for us to write a post looking back at the previous year and also to set some goals for the new year. Despite our lack of regular blogging this year (well, since March at least), we figured we owe this post to our future selves, at least!

First, let's look back.
We laid out our goals for 2013 in this post last January.  Basically, we accomplished half our goals for the year, which is actually on par with what we typically accomplish.  Inside, we finished the library and nursery (well, sort of...I've not done that mural I dreamed of), but the pool table is still on craigslist and in our family room..  We also didn't do anything in the living room, but we take on a few projects in our kitchen (talked about in this post; I really need to update y'all on that!).  Outside, we had our new deck built and we finished our new mailbox.  The shed is still in the way out back, and the planting beds out front are woefully neglected.
Our word for 2013 was "patience" and we think we lived that one fairly well.  First, we were very patient about letting our little girl arrive in her own time (despite our OB's best efforts to convince us otherwise).  And well, J has earned at least a thousand sainthood points due to his patience this year.  Patience is tough when you're a little sleep deprived, and our word was a good reminder to us throughout 2013 to exercise patience with each other.

Now, let's look at 2014.
Around the house, we plan to finish last year's projects and hang some family pictures (something we've not done since hanging our wedding pictures back in 2009).
Personally, J wants to make fitness a priority, and I'd like to wear shorts this year (Sounds silly, right?  I didn't wear shorts last year, and am fairly certain I didn't wear any in 2012 either.  So this goal is really about fitness and body image issues, but that's hard to say concisely).
Our word is perspective.  I had some great notes about that, but it seems Kate just deleted them while playing with my phone.  There's probably something telling in that...