Making friends...creating a village all my own!

I have lamented on here more than once about not having a circle of friends here in Tulsa. Well, that's changed! As you can see from Libby's birthday post, we had a nice gathering of folks. Who are they!? Our new friends! One gal, I actually met online before I ever thought about moving here. She was married in Hawaii and we "met" online in a forum for brides getting married in the islands. We've gotten together a handful of time since I've moved here but she's super busy as a SAHM to three littles and I work during the week so it's hard for our calendars to align. She also travels a bunch with her family since her hubby works for American Airlines. Anyway, she's a great gal and whenever we do get together we have the best time!

The second family, we met in October. They've just adopted a new baby and really wanted to feed her breast milk. So they looked for local donors and voila! They happened to contact me just as I was debating what to do with a freezer overflowing with frozen milk that Libby had NO INTEREST in drinking. I was days away from heading to Seattle for two weeks and told J that if the milk disappeared (read: was thrown away) while I was out-of-town to make room in the freezer, I'd understand. But there was no way I was going to dump all that milk myself! There was well over 100 oz.! And I was devastated just to have to dump 30 oz. when I discovered my excess lipase issue back in March! Anyway, long story short, this family contacted us and we gave them all of our frozen milk. I continue to freeze what I can (although I've been pumping less and less now that Libby is older) and give it to them. They've had us over for a couple of visits and are just the nicest people! They're originally from California, so we have that in common as well.

And finally, my newest friend is actually my dental hygienist. I met her in December when I went to a new dentist for a routine dental cleaning. Turns out pregnancy and a less-than-attentive previous dentist created some issues that needed resolving. FOUR appointments later, it's been taken care of and I got a new friend out of the deal! I knew I liked her as soon as I saw a framed photo of her pet pug dog in her office. It turns out that she's got a daughter just a couple of months younger than Libby and we immediately clicked. We talked about being working moms, breastfeeding/pumping, in-laws and mothers, and life. Even though we had just met and most of our conversation had been between work in my mouth, I brought her a birthday invite and hoped she could make it to the party. She did and we're going to take the girls to the aquarium in a few weeks. I appreciate that she's a working mama and knows how hard it is to balance being a mom, a career-woman and a wife.

So it goes...I'm developing a little circle of friends. We've been here 2.5 years and it's finally starting to happen. I am SO grateful!

Purchases for Lil' Missy!

This frugalista mama loves a good bargain! And boy have I gotten a handful today! First up are these two items I bought from Zulily today:
By Best Friend by Little Adventure
Orange & Fuchsia Flower Power Flip Skirt Set - Toddler & Girls
Includes tee, pants and reversible tutu
Hardcover picture book / 25 pages
Written by Andrea Alban Gosline
Illustrated by Lisa Burnette Bossi
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Next up is a crib set I've had bookmarked since before Libby was born:

I know it seems odd to be purchasing a crib set now that she's one year old, but she's only been consistently sleeping in her crib for the past three weeks. Until now, the crib has basically been a safe place for her to play for a few minutes while we used the restroom or got the laundry out of the dryer. She had napped in it maybe a half dozen times or so. We bedshared from the time she was about 10 days old until just shy of one year. It worked beautifully until a few weeks ago when none of us were sleeping well. She'd toss and turn and thrash all night and we each took turns leaving the bed and rocking her for hours on end until she'd fall asleep. Then we'd try to lay her back down into the bed with us and she's awaken immediately. It was quite miserable. Finally, on Monday, January 10 I resolved myself to launch "operation sleep-in-your-crib." We basically resorted to CIO because all of the other more gentler tactics just aggrevated Libby and made her more upset. I've spent months reading all of the sleep books, from Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution to Tracy Hogg's The Baby Whisperer; Dr. Sears and Dr. Jay Gordon and Ferber and Weissbluth.

I am not going to lie, the first night was hard. On me. Libby screamed and cried for about 30 minutes and then wound down to a fussy wimper. I had told J that we'd let it go one hour and reassess this approach. It was a killer. I cried in our room (we share a wall with hers) as I listened to her cry. We've never really let her cry, other than when we've been in the car and had no opportunity to stop. So to hear her wailing for an hour was rough. Around the one hour mark she had settled down considerably but was still wimpering. We decided to give it 10 more minutes. And wonder of wonders, she fell asleep! She slept in her crib two hours before waking, at which point I brought her into bed with us. I was emotionally exhausted. We got a great night's sleep though. The next day I felt awful and totally second-guessed my decision to transition her to her own bed/room and to do it by using CIO. But when I saw her that afternoon when I came home from lunch she was a smiling, happy, well-rested baby.

The next night we did the same thing and she fussed for 30-minutes before falling asleep. She slept for five hours before waking, at which point I brought her to our bed. The third night was similar. The fourth night she was out in 15 minutes and when she woke in the night I went to her room, nursed her and she went back to sleep in her crib. Same thing again on the fifth night. Night six she was out in five minutes and stayed in her bed all night and it's basically been that way ever since.

I never imagined I'd ever use CIO, but Libby needed it. And so did we. And I feel good about waiting until she was nearly a year old and can understand what we say. We talked about her sleeping in her own bed and she now brings us her favorite blanket and says, "nigh-night" and we nurse and rock and then I put her in her crib drowsy, but awake. Sometimes she fusses for a few minutes and sometimes not. Sometimes she babbles to herself for a few minutes and then goes to sleep.

Anyway, in honor of this transition, I decided it was time to officially outfit her crib with proper bedding. She's old enough now to use the quilt and we put a set of plain bumpers I got as a hand-me-down in there this summer when she was flopping over and bumping her head all the time when she was in there. I have a collection of random, gently-used crib sheets. So I am excited to get this set. It will be there when she's ready for us to convert the bed to a toddler and then youth bed. And it matches the quilt I've got on her daybed.

And finally, I scored this awesome wooden toddler-sized table and chairs for $40.00 off Craigslist:

Kid Kraft Table and Chairs in Natural

There were some random crayon and marker sribbles on the table top and one of the chairs, but some elbow grease and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser cleaned it right up! Libby was SO excited to see it! She loves it!

Happy First Birthday!

One year ago today, Elizabeth Joan entered this world at 7:04 p.m. That single moment has changed our lives forever. Today is bittersweet for this little baby is now a toddler. And wouldn't you know it!? Right on cue, she walked this evening. We were having our monthly visit from the local Parents as Teachers educator and Libby walked across her room to me. It was incredible. She's been walking behind her push toy for weeks and toddling 3-5 steps on her own for the past few days so we knew it was coming. It's exciting to see that she's taking this next step (literally and figuratively) towards independent person-hood.

Earlier today, I was feeling a bit melancholy and wrote this letter to my little Libby:

I cannot believe you are one year old today. How is that 365 days have come and gone since you were first placed in my arms? I can remember that moment as if it were only second ago! You were so small, but strong and latched right on, nursing away at my right breast. I remember the tufts of soft, downy, brown hair, your full lips and your long arms. After 39 weeks and 3 days of anticipation, you had arrived! 7:04 p.m. on Monday, January 25, 2010 has changed our lives forever. You have made this world a better, brighter place...making each day more joyful and full of love.

This past year, as you’ve met your milestones and grown into this wonderful, budding little person brimming with curiosity, creativity, humor and delight, I’ve been growing and changing with you, every step of the way. I am learning what it means to be your mother. To love more freely, extend patience more generously and to connect with my own childlike wonder. I love to see your discovery new things...the grass on the ground or the leaves on the trees. To see your face light up as you gazed upon the Christmas tree for the first time is something I’ll never forget. I’ll also cherish our wee morning hours, just the two us, rocking and nursing the time away. Many times, I have shed soft, silent tears as I looked upon you all snuggled to my breast in the crook of my arm. I know that these days as a nursling are numbered and soon, you’ll be too busy to crawl into my arms. I am so glad that we’ve been blessed by our nursing relationship and have had this special time together over the past year to bond, just mama and baby. It’s already been two whole weeks that you’ve been sleeping in your own room, in your own bed. I’ve relished the time we had together each night, snuggled in the cocoon of our family bed. And I know that in the years to come, we’ll have little moments of that now and then...on a stormy night or when you’re not feeling well or when your dreams have been a little too terrifying...and you’ll crawl into our big bed and I’ll remember all these days when we snuggled together when you were just a little baby.

Finding the words to describe how I feel as your mother fail me. What can I say? I am so incredibly blessed that you've chosen me. I can hardly believe that with just 52 weeks of life experience you’ve already learned so much. And taught me even more! I adore your love of books, music, art and animals. I am amazed at your tenacity and fierce desire to be independent, to learn new things and accomplish new feats. I am sure that in the years to come these passions will be all the more revealed in your interests and pursuits. I promise to support each and every one and encourage you to explore every option in fulfilling your potential. Today is bittersweet for me. I am so proud and yet feeling slightly melancholic that your little baby days are becoming a memory. They are captured forever in the hundreds of photos we've taken over these weeks and months and soon, we'll look back and tell you stories about the first time you rolled over or sat on your own. And we'll tell you about your first birthday and the day you became a toddler, right on cue! It started with your taking five independent steps to daddy on Sunday. And tonight when you walked across your room tonight to me. Your certainly be running circles around us in no time!

Your steps toward independence increase with each passing day and rightly so. For that is the purpose of your being here. To grow into an fully realized, independent person. What a gift you are giving us...the privilege of parenting you and witnessing this transformation before our own very eyes. Today is just the first of many more days that we'll celebrate your birth and your place on this earth. And I know that I will have many more moments of quiet reflection as your mother, of all that has been and all that might be, but mostly of all that you are, right here and right now. Happy first birthday my little are my sunshine and my heart in this world. I love you.

18 Hours Old

6 Weeks Old
12 Weeks Old

14 Weeks Old

Seven Months Old

Nine Months Old

Ten Months Old

One Year Old
Although we held her party four days ago, the celebration continued this evening. Libby made her first drawing. I picked up some chunky crayons and a pad of drawing paper on the way home from work and let her try it out. With a red crayon in one fist and a purple one in the other, she made little marks and swoops on the blank page. She also promptly bit the tip right off the red one! I fished it out and she fussed a bit, but was soon scribbling across the page. We also got two packages from One was a darling pink Radio Flyer tricycle from our good friends in California. The other was an all-terrain Radio Flyer wagon from my Dad. She immediately crawled up onto the tricycle and started pushing it around the living room. I had her sit on it and she figured out that she should put her feet on the pedals. Such a smarty girl! Her legs are barely long enough for her feet to touch, but I have no doubts that come Spring, they'll reach.

Tonight, at 7:04 p.m., I was rocking and nursing Libby. Snuggled in my lap, I tousled her soft hair and stroked her warm cheek as she drifted off to sleep. In many ways she reminded me of the fresh, 8 lb. 4 oz. newborn I held in my arms on this day last year.  I wonder what we'll be doing this time next year?

First Beeday Party

Libby's nickname has been "busy bee" since she was about 10 weeks old. So naturally, for her first birthday party, we went with a bumble bee theme. I had searched online and found super cute ideas here, here and here. I wasn't wanting to do a black+white+yellow color scheme so then looked at doing a garden bugs theme to open up the color palette. I almost went with this paper suite. But then I found this. And wanted to use it, but was outside the window for ordering. So I got to work with Photoshop and MSPublisher and came up with this:

The main colors for the party were yellow and red with turquoise and chocolate brown. And lots of polka dots! (Side note: I was stoked to see that Kelle Hampton was also using a similar color palette for Nella's first birthday party this Saturday as well. I donated to Nella's ONEder Fund in honor of Libby's first birthday). I ordered a customized tee and asked the seller, Lil Shabebe, to change the colors to our scheme. She did it and it turned out SO cute! The sweater is actually white hearts on red, from Old Navy. My husband's and my sweaters are also from Old Navy. I made a little corsage to pin on my sweater with polka dotted ribbons from Michaels and a fabric bee brad from Martha Stewart's scrapbooking line.
I already had the yellow and white polka dotted hair bow from Lbby's 6 month photoshoot and the red satin shoes were the same ones she wore at Christmastime.

I bought the yellow leggings (Circo) and polka dotted legwarmers (Baby Legs), both on sale, from Target. The pettiskirt was a last minute purchase from Party City's costume aisle. I had ordered an embroidered bib, matching hat and tutu from an Etsy seller. She shipped overnight on Thursday via FedEx but due to weather the package was held and won't be here until tomorrow. Mild panic set in when I realized this (not to mention extreme disappointment since I ordered it the first week of January and she assured me it would be here in plenty of time for the party. It was also WAY more money than I usually spend, especially on a one or two time outfit, so yeah, I was VERY upset by this).

I dashed off to Michael's Crafts to pick up supplies to create a custom hat. I got the glittered card stock, ribbon, and marabou there and topped it off with another of Martha Stewart's fabric covered brads and curling ribbon. I hit the party store and got the pettiskirt and bib (which wasn't in the color scheme, but at this point I had to let it go. They had a similar one in blue+yellow+red but it said "First Birthday Boy." Arg.) In retrospect, I probably should have just gone the DIY route from the start and saved myself $50+ from the customized set on Etsy. Ah, live and learn. And now, I have this set coming on Monday....after the party...guess I'll use it for Libby's smash cake photo shoot in a couple of weeks. That is, if she smashes the cake.

Yesterday, she just picked the sprinkles off the frosting. I made banana cake based on this recipe from Lisa at Surviving Oz. I altered the recipe by substituting whole wheat flour and adding a little cinnamon (about 1/4 tspn.). Otherwise, I made the cake exactly as outlined and it baked up 25 cupcakes (I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to fill each polka dotted paper cup, which I got from Michaels).  I made cream cheese frosting using 16 oz. of cream cheese and 8 oz. of banana yogurt (Stony Farms YoBaby, which is thick like Greek yogurt) and about 1/4 tspn. vanilla. After whipping it for a while it seemed a little thin so I added in about 1/2 c. of powdered sugar. That helped stabilize it. I piped in onto the cooled cupcakes and sprinkled the tops with red+aqua+yellow+brown jimmies.  I picked up two cupcake cases from the bakery grocery store so I could easily transport them to the party venue. When I arrived and set them out on the Wilton cupcake stand I had purchased from Michaels, I topped each one with cupcake picks that I made with the party circles I'd designed, printed onto two inch white, round stickers which were left over from my wedding DIY from 2007. To make them,  I simply sandwiched short lolly pop/candy sticks between the sticker and a round circle of scrapbooking paper left over from the party hats my mom and I made.

 The party hats were made using scrapbook paper from Target's Dollar Spot, curling ribbon bought from the party store, pom poms and elastic thread from Michaels, hot glue and stickers I had left over from the cupcake topper project. I downloaded a template here and we made the hats, assembly-line-style. The paper was a little flimsy so we reinforced the insides of the hats with some white poster board I picked up from Target. I just cut the template a little smaller than the hats and popped the reinforcement inside with some glue. I am glad I did, because the hats were WAY more sturdy under the grip of the littles who attended the party.

We held the party from 1-2:30 p.m. at a local Kindermusik studio. This was the best idea ever! For a small fee they let us use the space, provided the tables/chairs/paper plates/cups/etc. did the set-up and clean-up AND spent 45 minutes doing musical activities with the kiddies and their parents. It was the perfect amount of time for toddlers and littles. The studio owner, Beth, and her assistant kept everything well paced and moving along. We did the activities and then ate cake and opened presents. I had found cute wooden musical toys like clackers, hand drums and tambourines on sale at Michaels. So I wrapped them in red paper and curling ribbons that matched the hats and put a personalized sticker on each one.

The kiddies unwrapped their favors as Libby unwrapped her gifts. We got an awesome Plan Toys drum, a LeapFrog Counting Candles Birthday Cake toy (the candles turn off when you blow on them!), a darling red tutu and a beautifully illustrated and bound book of Disney Treasury of Children's Classics. We also got a Kindermusik CD, shaker egg, kazoo and treats from the Beth, the studio owner.

I ordered the polka dotted balloons from Sally at Polka Dot Market. Sally was AWESOME and actually sent a duplicate order when she feared the first one wouldn't make it me on time. Both packages arrived and I contacted her about the second one. She told me to keep it and use it for the party. YAY for excellent customer service! I'll be shopping her site again and again. The bees I ordered from Party City's website because they had no bee Mylar balloons in the store. These were actually from their Valentine's Day line and they matched the color scheme perfectly! I took all the balloons to Party City in the morning and they inflated, ribboned and bagged them for me to pick up on the way to the music studio.

I was thrilled that even with snow earlier this week (I had a snow day from work, which was helpful for last minute party projects) everyone showed up right on time. We had three families join us for the party. I am SO grateful...these three families are new friends to us (the only people we're friends with outside of work, actually) and it's because of them I even planned a real party for Libby. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

Libby's first birthday is means my baby is now a toddler. I've looked back at her infant photos today and am amazed at how much she's grown and changed in this past year. In many ways, she's still the same as the day we brought her home though, especially when I rock her at night and she nurses. We've ALL grown so much in this past year. It's amazing. This last week she's taken her first unassisted steps and cut another tooth (7 total now and more on the way)! She's talking up a storm (it's SO cute to hear her say "bumble bumble," "bah-oon," and "happy happy")! It won't be long before she's running around and a "big kid!" It's true what they say, it goes SO fast. And now we've checked another milestone off the's first birthday party!

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Adding this post to Tip Junkie's
 Handmade Project and Parties round-up!
This is Number 176 there.