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A Dr. Suess-tastic Birthday Soiree

Sofie turned one on March 2, 2012. And Dr. Seuss would have been 108 on this blessed day. It seemed only fitting that we honor two of the finest people to walk the earth. (I am a mother and I am allowed to think, say and blog that if I want to!) So, we did what anyone would do, we threw a Wubbulous birthday party! Of course. To start, I gathered a whole lot of Dr. Seuss inspiration from all over the place (really, I just googled ‘Dr. Seuss party’ and started pinning with verve). Check out my Sofie’s 1st Birthday board on Pinterest! Let me just take a moment to say… there are some over-the-top brilliantly creative people out there…a lot of mom’s with blogs doing fantastic arts and crafts wizardry to dazzle their Seuss loving children. Wow! I mean, woooow. I poured over the details and possibilities of how to dazzle and delight my sweet daughter with colors and yummy things to eat and how to engage her and her best friends who were all turning one around the same time.I decided it would be at a park that she likes with a great playground, picnic tables and a grassy area and a body of water with ducks, geese and birds that make her squeal and laugh as they fly and dive for stale bread. Perfect! I imagined the whimsy of having a colorful explosion of Suesstatical details in the beauty and inviting playfulness of an outdoor backdrop. The juxtaposition struck my fancy.From there adding Seuss themed details was a bottomless barrel of fun! Here is how it all turned out: Invitations:I made the invitations using word, which was both easy and hair-pullingly frustrating (I make up words a lot, but something about Dr. Seuss gives me even more license to indulge this habit) and in the end there were imperfections that made me loose a little sleep. I try to play it off that I am way more calm, cool, and collected than my perfectionistic, neurotic inner self wants you to believe. Anyway, I think they turned out well and are super cute and got the theme across quite well, which was a red and aqua Dr. Seuss soiree. Clearly.

The Invitation

We ended up having to move the party indoors due to a rainy, chilly day and my cute husband sent an email to let our guests know with the quote, “The storm stars when the drops start dropping. When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping” by Dr. Seuss. Bonus points, hubs. Party Dress:The guest of honor’s outfit was what I spent much time dreaming up and and pouring over. I wanted to make her a dress and the original plan was for it to be red and white polka dot with an aqua feather boa sewed to the hem. How fabulous is that!?!? Then (several weeks into the planning) I realized that I have a one year old. A one year old that puts everything in her mouth. I started picturing her sitting at her party in her party dressed obsessively plucking her at her dress feathers and eating them. I did not want to turn the birthday girl into a molting sneetch!

Double Layered Pillow Case Dress with white ribbon ties and ric rac detail

So, this is what I came up with, after a few rounds of sewing and resewing. Sewing always makes me think of my nana’s talent as a seamstress and how much love she showed through making clothes to dazzle her kids, as told through my mom and aunt. She would stay up all night making a dress for them and when my mom or aunt woke up in the morning, it would be hanging perfectly made, pressed and ready to wear. Dazzling love. I pretend I am nana every time I sew and when I made my girl her birthday dress, I channeled my nana’s love to share with another generation.) Daddy’s Cat in the Hat Debut: My husband is notoriously not a fan of costumes. I have been trying to get him to dress up for Halloween for years. I have been building a pirate get-for him for as long as I can remember being an item. The first year it was a pirate hat that we got in Disneyland together. The next, I added a sword. The next, I added an eye patch, which I never actually saw him put on. The next I got a Johnny Depp-esque, Jack Sparrow dreadlock beads to clip in his hair. And on and on. This last year, we dressed up as pumpkins with Sofie. Kids change things. So much so that my husband, the notoriously anti-costume guy, enthusiastically wore this Cat in the Hat get up. Yeah, kids definitely change things.

Daddy as the Cat in the Hat

The Food: This was by far the most fun part of a Seuss themed party for me. Seuss themed food…oh my, the possibilities are endless. And back to the brilliantly creative moms who blog, they had done so much of the work for me, there were slews of options to choose from and all I had to do was customize a little.

    Fox in Sox Noodle Eating Poodle Pasta Salad

The Cake and Cupcakes: My dear friend, a lawyer turned cupcake goddess amongst countless other talents and vocations of hers, made the cupcakes. Her cupcakes are what I like to refer to as sinfully divine and they are known across the land for their lightness, decadence and irresistible appeal. And she made little Sofie 50 chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting to share with her family and friends!

“Thing 1″ CupCake Tower

I made her SMASH cake for her and I went a little over the top. Three tiered chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and sliced strawberries in between each layer and then to decorate the outside in an effort to emulate the red stripes of the Cat in the Hat’s red striped hat. Partly for decor, but mostly because Sofie Doodle LOVES strawberries and I knew she would want to eat them (and it minimized the frosting that she might actually eat–sugar scares me a bit!-and while I want her to indulge in this time-honored first birthday tradition of one’s first cake, I also was horrified at introducing sugar, chocolate and butter to her in such quantities! Yikes!)

Here is the cake:

The Smash Cake – Chocolate 3 layered cake with vanilla frosting & strawberry details

Party Favors: Homemade

Fabric for dress: JoAnne’s

Cat in the Hat costume: Amazon

Decorations: Party City, Target and Amazon

Invitations, Signs and other Print Outs: Fed Ex and Homemade

Inspirations: Brilliant blogging Dr Seuss loving mamas

Establishing Easter Traditions

Disclaimer: If you are under the age of 12 years old: Spoiler Alert! Stop reading this post. But then again, I am not sure anyone in that age group would be reading this. Anyway…

Easter is in two weeks and just recently my husband and I looked at each other and for the first time realized, “oh crap, WE are the Easter bunny!” Thankfuly, this epiphany hit us whilst at Target. Hello $1 aisle. How are you? Please rescue me for yet another holiday.

[Now, I am fully aware that this aisle is full of plastic crap made exclusively in China and the moral damage and implications of thoughtlessly, American-ly filling my basket with unnecessary, shiny things for the immediate gratification and temporary satisfaction of simply grabbing as much as I can, as fast as I can. Yes, I am that kind of fussy human that preaches talks about sustainability and fair trade and organic and materialism/capitalism and minimalism. But what I have also learned in the 12 months and 4 weeks of being a mom is that convenience often trumps all other previously held notions or preoccupations. C'est la vie. But back to the point of this post...]

Sofie's First Easter 2011

A picture from Sofie’s first Easter, which was a non-event really because my husband got very sick and it was slowly going around to each of us, so it was more of an infirmary than a day of easater egg hunts and brunch. *Please note the Target $1 aisle bunny ears.

So, (back to Target) I started frantically grabbing as much shiny pastel easter bunny themed and toddler friendly stuff as I could hold we  lovingly filled our basket with a few $1 items, which spawned a great conversation about our favorite traditions for this lovely spring holiday and celebration of our faith.

In my family, my mom would hide our elaborate Easter baskets outside in our yard and garden, so that on Easter morning we would gather each other as a family (we had strict rules about the kids waking each other up before anyone saw any of the surprises or walked into the kitchen area to see the breakfast feasts for Easter or Christmas! We fought a lot as siblings, but we were religious about this courtesy and camaraderie with one another on our favorite holidays.)

Me and my baby brother on Easter morning!

My family would:

  • hunt for our Easter baskets, which usually each had different colored cellophane wrapping, and open them up together as a family. Our baskets were filled with the classic Easter candies like peeps, egg shaped chocolates, often a See’s candies Easter themed box of chocolates and suckers, some toys and a whole lot of joy. My mother was amazing at making our holidays magical. In my child’s mind, those Easter baskets were the equivalent of Willy Wonka’s factory-colorful, fanciful, delicious and decadent. These are big shoes to fill as a mom!
  • get dressed in our spring-y sun dresses, hats and white sandals
  • head off to mass held outside in the Arizona sunshine
  • head over to my Aunt’s house for brunch, an Easter egg hunt, swimming, playing games  like crochet or ping pong, and lazing about in her citrus orchard of a yard. Another word about the Easter eggs hunts at my Aunt and Uncles’ house. When we were young, these were elaborate and the gold egg always had money in it. This was literally GOLD to us, in our younger years. Now, looking back, I am pretty sure it was a handful of coins or a single silver dollar (bonus points here!), but it made your whole day if you found this special egg. Eggs were hidden all over their large property, in the citrus trees, on the roof, in the pool, you name it, it was a HUGE event.

One of my husbands favorite traditions is the Easter bunny’s footprints leading up to their Easter baskets in the living room. His mom would make bunny foot prints using powdered sugar. Totally cute! That would have totally blown my mind as a kid. And as a parent, I pretty much live to see Sofie’s mind blown with delight.

We plan on recreating many of these favorites for our little family. What are your favorite Easter traditions?

Check out my Pinterest board for Easter inspiration!

Sofie Drops a Beat

Sofie, now 12.5 months old and an official toddler, is a proven, most-superb dancer. For those of you who are dancers (and by dancers I mean those who can’t resist a good beat, whose bodies move as if on their own accord, cosmically connected to the intoxicating movement of music), you would love this kid. She’s a booty shaker.

Recently, we went to campus to pick up my husband to run an errand as a family and we arrived early and found ourselves walking around campus waiting for “daddy”. While waiting, an undergraduate student drove by in his presumable parent sponsored brand new white two door BMW with the windows rolled down blasting some dubstep. As soon as she heard the beat, Sofie stopped in her tracks, momentarily distracted from hunting for leaves to pick up and put in her mouth, to raise her hands, stick her butt out and shake her bootay side to side. Buh, buh, buh. Dropping a beat, toddler style. I could not have been prouder in that moment!

I had a feeling I would really like this kid. I had a feeling when…

  • her first cry was a pouty bottom-lipped, square chinned inhale
  • she we would raise her hands  above her head in a classic “praise Jesus” kind of way every time she wasn’t swaddled to fall asleep
  • she was an enthusiastic eater of all amazing things (think kale, spinach, beats, salmon) as early as a 6 month old
  • her first acknowledgement of our Golden Retriever was a deep and full body belly laugh that lasted most of an evening
  • as soon as she was mobile she was a fast study as a tremendously talented cat tail puller (poor kitty!)
  • she started using a defunct remote controller as a phone that she holds to her ear with her shoulder, arm raised out in front of her walking around the room, babble talking followed by bursting laughs out loud as if in the midst of a hysterical conversation with her best friend

Yes, I fall in love with her more and more every few minutes. She and I share some pretty fun, quirky traits. God clearly has a great sense of humor!

For the love of siblings: featuring Noah’s video

Do you think your siblings are amazing human beings? I think mine are.

I have been bragging about them for as long as I can remember. They are people that I try to emulate, who impress me, who I respect, inspire me and push me to be a better person…well, sometimes they shove, too. We as siblings are intense with each other. We get loud, we have firm opinions…on everything and we never relent, we are all brilliant communicators and we are always right, we have each other’s backs and we laugh so hard that we always draw attention to ourselves from all around us.

I pray that my child will have the same intense relationships with her siblings. I pray that she is so blessed.

And we are each wildly unique, we each bring such different talents and strengths. Case in point: this is a video my brother, Noah Michael Schutte, made for one of his business classes and its just so awesome I had to share. He is so awesome! Check it out:

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Pregnancy has been such an adventure, a process of self discovery, body image issues, fear, joy-you name it, its been a ride. One of the greatest moments has been the realization that I am not only pregnant, but being prepared to become a mother. Moving from self to other; from me to baby; from me to we and all within my own body. (Not to mention the transformation within my marriage with my best friend-that’s another post!) In this process, one of the most revealing joys, however, has been my memories of my own childhood-remembering and connecting with how I was raised and all the mothering I received.

I hear my mother’s loving and all-knowing voice in my head as I walk through this process. Things that used to eventually annoy me by matter of the shear number of times I heard her repeat her lessons, I can start to recognize as the most important life lessons that she was teaching me. My mother was and is a natural teacher. A guide, a principle in so many arenas. I didn’t recognize this as pure genius as a child, definitely not as a teenager, more so as a young adult and now, as I enter into becoming a parent…I know for a fact, she is pure genius.

The lessons from my mother are vast, ones that I don’t realize are there, that I would be hard pressed to recount if you asked me on the spot. Not until I need them. And when I need them, there they are, there she is-her voice fills me and I find myself being mothered at the exact moment I need it…that I need her. Today’s post title, “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” is an example of that.

When Brian or I start to feel crummy with headaches, sore throats and other accompanied cold symptoms or if its a chilly day or we are feeling worn down, before I think through remedies I hear myself sing-song these words: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. I scrounge through the fridge to see what ingredients we have to make a chicken soup. The perfect remedy. Whether at the grocery store or in the fridge or garden, I sing these four words as she used to in her humming tone as I gather the chicken (a carcass that I usually keep in the freezer, remnants after we have baked a chicken for dinner-”never throw out a carcass”, another one of my mother’s lessons), carrots, celery, potato, egg noodles, and lots and lots of garlic-an entire head of garlic (another one of my mother’s lessons: “load up on garlic”). And then, of coarse, Parsley, Sage Rosemary and Thyme. Perfection.

Before you know it, I am eating soup, snuggled up and feeling loved and mothered…at the exact moment I need it.

I intend to share more of my mothers lessons as I continue to connect and appreciate them. There are so many.

What are your most cherished lessons from your mother?

Place Your Bets! Can you predict the sex of our baby?

Surprise Envelope

Surprise Envelope

Two days and counting…we have the envelope, signed and sealed by our doctor, that has been hanging on our picture wall for the past several months that contains some very important information: the sex of our baby!

We weighed the options of finding out verses waiting and settled on a solution that fits our style and values as a family. Brian and I knew we didn’t want to find out at the hospital during the anatomy scan and we also wanted to spend a little time planning and preparing, given what a tough transition this has been these past several months moving away from Denver to New Orleans. And we thought Christmas would be a perfect time to mark such an important and pivotal stage in our lives as a married couple and in our new role as soon to be parents.

So, we thought it would be fun to take a poll to see what you all think: are we having a girl or a boy? Place your bets in the poll below:

BONUS! Help us come up with names for our precious little one. Place any suggestions you have in the comments below!

Baby’s First Movements & Dad’s First Connection

Guest Post from my gorgeous, brilliant husband, Brian J. Elizardi

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Lately at home I’ll be sitting on the couch, laying in bed, or doing some otherwise normal activity and hear a “Oooh!” from my wife.

When these first started, my reaction was to freak out and either call 911 or go warm up the car to head to the hospital. After we developed a code for distinguishing between the seemingly normal grunts and groans of her pregnancy versus an all freak out situation, I was able to relax and take in this unique occasion to see and feel our baby growing.

These events are now accompanied by a quick grab of my hand by my wife so that I can feel what’s she’s feeling. The first few occasions when I felt the baby moving with my hand placed on her belly were breathtaking and amazing. Every day I get to witness her growing more beautiful as the baby marches towards full term, but to feel and almost interact with the baby is something to behold.

Despite all the outward signs that this is really happening and we indeed starting our family, it can be tough to identify with what Mia is going through and experience the same intense and surreal experience she goes through minute by minute. These small movements serve to connect me with a process that is literally foreign to my body and mind. Since we haven’t discovered the sex of the baby it also gives me something to focus my mind’s eye on and visualize. It’s a powerful activity that has me excited for what’s to come.

Update
After writing this early this morning I went in to say hi to sleeping mom-to-be and baby. Right after I placed my hand on her belly I felt a kick, or what I pretended was a high-five from the baby. Loving this special stage in our lives.

Baby belly…the first and second trimesters

So, here I am in all my pregnant glory. As you can see, we skipped a few weeks of photos and I changed my mind about bare belly vs. clothed belly a few times, angle, and background, but in the end I think these capture the gist of a healthfully growing baby belly (and body…ahem!)

One more trimester to go!

Week 9

Week 9

Week 10

Week 10

Week 11

Week 11

Week 12

Week 12

Week 16

Week 16

Week 17

Week 17

Week 18

Week 18

Week 19

Week 19

Week 20

Week 20

Week 21

Week 21

Week 22

Week 22

Week 23

Week 23

Week 25

Week 25

Week 26

Week 26

SaintsGiving Dog in a Turkey Coma

Happy Thanksgiving! Nuff said.

I can feel the baby!

The first time I felt the baby move was at work (at around 17 weeks) I was in a meeting and I kept feeling some kind of bubbly sensation in my belly. I was totally distracted by this.  Bubbles then nothing, then more bubbles. Over and over. After several minutes, I realized it was my baby. I could feel my baby. I wanted to laugh and cry. What an amazing sensation…an indescribable connection.