Sunday, February 3, 2013

Christmas Crafting

Admit it. You know that you're dying to know how to make a homemade ornament 11 months ahead of time for Christmas. No? Oh, ok. Well, I thought I'd be Super-Mom and make some fun DIY ornaments for Norah's grandparents and deliver them at Christmas. Instead, it was all I could do to order virtually every gift off Amazon (have you ever tried shopping with an 11-month-old? Crazytown) and plan for our 36-hour roundtrip holiday bonanza visiting both families.

Although it was way late, I went ahead and finished my Christmas ornament crafts for the family. My friend Lauren showed me this cute idea via Pinterest, and I made a couple of very minor changes to make my own. Here's what you'll need: white paper for making baby's handprint, a non-toxic ink pad (any color) for the handprint, very small piece of cardboard (I used a shoebox lid), scissors, this dough (unless you make salt dough), a drinking straw, ribbon, a small paintbrush for detailed painting, paint in the following colors: flesh, white, red, black, and pink.

1. Because Norah is SUPER wiggly, I knew there was no way I could get an actual tracing of her hand. Instead, I smudged some non-toxic baby ink on her hand and stamped it on a piece of paper. (It took a couple of tries to get a good print.)

2. Next, I cut a rough square around the hand tracing and glued it to a piece of cardboard. Then, I cut the hand out so that I had a sturdier template.

3. I tried to make salt dough like the original post prescribed, but mine looked pretty bad. I don't know what exactly I did wrong, but it just looked messy. Luckily, I found this great dough at Michael's and it worked like a charm. I just rolled it out with a rolling pin, placed my cardboard hand on top, and then cut it out with a knife. I pushed a straw through the top of the ornament (or the bottom of the hand) so I could thread ribbon through it. Then I waited 3 whole days for the forms to dry completely.

4. Once the ornaments were dry, I painted the hands. I started with the flesh colored paint since it was essentially the "bottom layer," then painted Santa's red hat, black eyes, white beard, mustache, and hat trim, and finally his cheeks and mouth.

5. I bought dollar-store boxes and glued the sweet poem that I saw on the original post.

I think they turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

First Birthday Fun!

From the minute I knew my due date, I started thinking about how we'd celebrate our baby's future birthdays. January is a tough month because the weather is usually too cool to be outside, and, let's face it, park and pool birthday parties seem like the easiest ones to pull off. Alas, Norah was to be relegated to winter celebrations for life.

After some brainstorming courtesy of Pinterest, I realized how many fun opportunities there are for indoor parties. I decided to throw her a "Winter Garden Party" for her first big birthday party -- mostly because it meant I could make it feminine and flowery, and I know that one day soon, Little Lady will want to plan her own themes for her parties.

In the beginning stages of planning Norah's party, I thought we'd do a simple at-home party. Turns out there's no such thing. After renting tables, chairs, and linens from Marquee Event Group, coordinating decorations (homemade Mason jar drinking glasses, poms from Martha Stewart, glass drink dispensers borrowed from my friend Amy, paper bouquets left over from my friend Andi's wedding, and paper goods - like the "Happy Birthday" sign and "Norah" cake banner from my friend Jessica's Etsy shop), and planning the birthday menu (chicken salad on croissants, fruit-cheese tray, quiches, and a strawberry layer cake), it was quite the planning ordeal. And, because I'm a crazy person who thought she could go to the Dallas-based Cotton Bowl the day before the party, I *definitely* relied on the help of my family to coordinate the last details. My mom, dad, sister, and father- and mother-in-law have my eternal gratitude! (And Jacob was pretty helpful, too, of course.)

Even though I was exhausted by the end of the day, I wouldn't have done the party any other way. Thanks to those who came and celebrated with us! We had a blast, and I love that I have lots of photos to show Future Norah what a fun first birthday she had!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


This summer, we've taken a few trips with Baby N in tow. She is an excellent traveler -- sleeps/plays in her car seat, babbles along to the baby song CDs we bring (and sometimes find ourselves still listening to long after she's fallen asleep...) -- but not such an excellent sleeper when she's in a new place. It's a small price to pay for the fun of vacation, though. Here's a few of our trips in a nutshell:

June: Houston Wedding
When Jacob was playing football for A&M back in our college days, he made some really good friends on the team. One of those guys was Layne, who was a groomsman in our wedding. Fast forward 7 years, and Jacob was asked to be an usher in Layne's wedding. Blissfully ignorant, we assumed it would be a smooth and seamless trip for 5-month-old Norah. Instead, we ended up taking turns eating at the rehearsal dinner (Jacob would eat his salad while I rocked a sobbing Norah outside the restaurant; then he'd relieve me so I could eat mine... This continued for 3 courses). Now we're (a tiny bit) older and wiser and know better than to stay out past Norah's bedtime! In any event, we caught up with some of Jacob's old teammates, witnessed a lovely wedding, and had a really good time.

July: Trip to Port Aransas
My friend, Melanie, also known as The Most Organized Person Ever, arranged a fun group trip to Port Aransas. We rented a great condo within walking distance to the beach, grilled out, and relaxed. The Texas coast is actually very pretty, and Norah loved feeling the coast breeze in her hair, dipping her toes into the water, and riding up and down the coastline in her Bob stroller.
                                                            Hanging out at the beach!                                                      

                                        Good times in the Bob. That girl loves to be on the go!    
                                                   Sporting her swim cap like a boss.           
Loves riding on Dad's shoulders.

We also visited the Bluebell store in Rockport, one of Jacob's most favorite childhood destinations. Norah tried valiantly to get a bite of the hot fudge brownie sundae -- someday she'll get to taste that magical dessert, too.

Thanks, Melanie, for organizing such a fun trip! We had a blast and can't wait to make it one of our regular family summer vacations.

July, Part 2: Tennessee
My grandmother, Re Re, had only seen Norah once, when we traveled to Tennessee in February for my other grandmother's (Nana's) funeral. When my mom suggested we visit for a week, I was totally on board. I'd never flown with Norah before, since we drove to Tennessee last time, so I was a little nervous. Luckily, I was given lots of great advice (which I'll definitely cover in a future post!) so everything went very smoothly. Here are a few snapshots from the trip:
 My grandmother's back yard. Deer and birds are almost always around, and it's probably the most peaceful place I can imagine. We spent a lot of time on the porch swing looking onto her yard, just talking, drinking Dr. Peppers (because calories don't count when you're at your grandmother's!) and relaxing.
 We have all kinds of toys for Norah, but Re Re is probably the best at picking out what she'll like! She got her several things I used to enjoy 30 years ago, including a simple rubber ball. Norah thought those were the greatest toys ever!
 My grandmother's neighbor bought Norah this awesome University of Tennessee dress. My parents (especially my dad!) are so proud :)
Norah has been known to have little "accidents" at inopportune times -- and she clearly doesn't mind! This particular incident happened right before our outing in Sweetwater, Tennessee. I'll spare you the gory details, but it involved a beach towel, about 5 pounds of wipes, and a new diaper. She looks quite pleased with herself, don't you think?
After a day of antique shopping and eating at the cutest cafe/boutique, The Paris Apartment, Norah was ready for a snooze. She scored a Halloween costume and a pair of leather poodle booties (which she insisted on wearing right away), so it had been a full day for Little Miss! Thanks to my cousin, Jenna, for pushing Norah in her stroller while I man-handled the world's largest and heaviest diaper bag!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My new job

The start of the school year always makes me think of the leaves changing colors into deep reds and oranges, apple cider, trees arching over sidewalks, and children lining up outside of school buses. Now, I know this visual is mostly in my head since we're in Texas and the trees usually turn from green to brown, but I still romanticize autumn anyway.

 Still, when I was a teacher, I could feel the electricity in the air as school began. The buzz of students in the hallways and the feeling that I was starting the year with a blank slate was just about the best part of my job.

I do miss it a little, and it was really strange not going back yesterday when all of my teacher friends were posting about their first days. BUT, I do feel so very fortunate that I can be home full-time with my buddy. We have the best time together, and I don't have to dole out any discipline (hey, she's only 7 months old) or grade anything EVER (hands-down the part of teaching I loathed the most). Now my days look quite a bit different than they did when I was in the classroom...

We go to breakfast at our neighborhood coffee shop a couple of times a week.
We experiment with different foods. (Prunes are a recent fave.)
We go to the Austin Children's Museum.
We work on crawling!
We dabble in Baby-Led Weaning. (Norah thinks shredded chicken is tasty.)
We swing at the park.
We read books.
We come up with silly games like "splash the water in the giant pot." Hey, she's easy.
My "new life" is pretty awesome, I have to say :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Neighborhood Love

I haven't blogged in a while, and, to be honest, that's because it's so intimidating to try to go back and log everything! I've been jotting down N's milestones in her baby book and in my Google Docs, but am still trying to get actual post-dated blog entries together. Also, if you have a baby, you know how much you try to cram in while they're napping, and blogging doesn't always make the cut! So, in the meantime, I'm just going to start with where we are. It's easier that way, don't you think? Lately, we've been taking morning walks up to the coffee shop in our neighborhood, Russell's, and then moseying on over to our park. N LOVES to swing and ride down the slide with her mom. I'm so, so thankful that Jacob works from home so that we can take these leisurely morning walks together. I have a feeling that these will be some of our favorite memories of our neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

From the beginning

The day I found out I was pregnant (Thursday, May 5), I'd just woken up and had taken a pregnancy test. I was THRILLED when it read positive, but since Jacob was working out of town in Fairfield for a couple of days, I could only tell our dog, Izzy, who didn't share my enthusiasm. I managed to keep quiet for TWO WHOLE DAYS (which seemed like an eternity) since I didn't want to tell anyone before I told Jacob in person. I did call the doctor's office to set up my first appointment, had a mini-meltdown because I'd forgotten to take my prenatals a few times (and was convinced I'd deprived the baby of folic acid so OF COURSE she would have some problem), and then recovered after crying in the school parking lot. When I finally got a grip, I started planning how I'd tell J the news. I'd always thought it would be fun to tell him with a onesie embroidered with his company logo, so I immediately called a local embroidery shop (Hill Country Embroidery, if you ever need anything embroidered inexpensively!) and set everything up so that I could pick up the onesies the following afternoon on my way to Fairfield.

He was exhausted when I finally arrived at my parents' house that night, and I managed to sneak the onesie, wrapping paper, and gift box into the guest bedroom where we were staying, wrap the gift, and emerge without him ever opening an eye.

Needless to say, I didn't let him sleep long. I woke him up, gave him the box, and waited patiently
for him to open it. He was the happiest I've seen him since our wedding day :)

When I told my parents the following day -- by giving my mom a happy Grandmother's Day card :) -- they were ecstatic. In fact, my mom, who's normally pretty reserved, began jumping around, whooping, and dancing. It was awesome.

I'm back (Finally!) And a brief timeline.

Welcome back! I had all but abandoned this blog during my pregnancy, mostly because I was super-stressed with teaching and freaking out about all things pregnancy-related. I've got A LOT to catch up on, but here's the short version:

May 5, 2011: Found out I was pregnant (J was out of town so I had to keep this top-secret; so hard!)

May 6, 2011: Gave Jacob the big news!

May 7, 2011: Told my family, just in time for Mother's Day

August 14, 2011: Found out that Baby Young was a GIRL!

October 21, 2011: Gave her a name on my birthday: Norah Kingsley Young

November/December: Baby showers and getting everything all set up (nursery, classes, pediatrician, etc)

January 5, 2012: Welcomed Norah to the world!

January 5-April 15: Savored my sweet maternity leave. I go back to work on April 16 to finish out the school year, which will be tough since I've gotten used to spending my mornings and afternoons with my little buddy. I'm sure 6 weeks will fly by, though!