Gracia's 1st Birthday Party

I see why once people have their first child, their blog suffers post baby. There are so many days that you want to sit and write but if you have that much free time, then you might as well be getting a nap in or dinner ready, or just woosah because your now mobile bottomless pit toddler will be up or home soon. Such has been my case-- my toddler can walk, run, climb stairs and eats like clock work. Not to mention teething and more ear infections than I was prepared for... 

Either who, a month later... lets talk about Gracia's First Birthday Party --

I think I needed at least two weeks to recover from hosting what was up posed to be a small family get together. But who am I kidding, any kind of party - I start to over think it and go wayyyyy overboard. It doesn't help that most of my vendors I am loyal to so they are very good to me. 
I decided that we would have her party at my parents house that is near me. My parents actually live in Dallas but kept our childhood home here. Its their first grandchild, so having a party at the grandparents seemed like the best thing to do. 

The theme of her party was Sophia the First. 
My child LOVES this show - when the theme music of this show starts, she goes into full drop it like its hot mode. So I knew that she would completely enjoy having a party filled with Sophia the First things. I pinned everything I could think of from Pinterest and went to work over the course of three months or so - although, leave it to me to leave everything till the last minute like I had planned on not doing. 

So here's a ton of pictures from the fun she had with a small group of friends and family- 

So lets start with my favorite part.. 

The Food: 
I had a snack table for the kiddies (and grown kiddies) - complete with snacks I know she loves at daycare (nilla cookies, cheeze its, pretzels and fruit snacks). I made some chocolate dipped oreo cookies, purchased a cotton candy machine from amazon which was a HIT and some cupcakes. 

I LOVE my go to Caterers, Class Act Catering (no this isn't a paid promo) but I do absolutely love how they take care of me even always, every single event, going above and beyond. Pause: yes I had her party catered because who has time to be in the kitchen all morning when you have to decorate and wrangle a toddler into a nap so that she is not miserable at her own party.

The menu: 
We had a great salad (and you know its great when there is absolutely no salad left when you are packing up plates. It was a salad with mixed greens, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries, cucumbers and balsamic vinaigrette. We also had a blacked chicken and shrimp pasta and the same version of the pasta with no meat for my vegetarian family members. We also had chicken tenders for the kiddies  - as well as ham and turkey slider sandwiches that I made the day of. 
So this is what I meant - I ordered chicken tenders for 20 kids and look how many he sent me! I was so happy to have more than enough to go around and then some. 

The Decor: 
I made most of the decor myself with the assistance of my sister and my cousin Q. 
I had seen a picture of a Christmas tree with toys all over it for the kids for Christmas, so thats where I got the idea of doing a "Birthday Tree" which is perfect for a child who's birthday close to Christmas. When guests came with gifts, they placed them under the Birthday Tree. 

I got a poster made of my favorite pics from birth to 11 months really easily done from this company called Printstagram. Its so amazing to see how much she has grown in one year. 

I found these mini trees at the Target in the dollar spot section. My cousin made all the golden crowns and we decorated it with scrap book parts that I got from Michaels.

The Entertainment: 

I decided that I really wanted to have a photo booth - I found a really cheap but great app on iPad and found an iPad tripod and set it up for the kiddies, but the parents definitely got into it too. 

I asked the girls to dress in their favorite princess costumes or fancy clothes for the Royal Affair. 

I also had a lady come and do Balloons for the kiddies - and she was GREAT!

We even had some "Pin the Amulet on the Sophia" for prizes! No ones a loser here... and check out the cute balloon bracelets and wands the young ladies have

The Birthday Girl!

Dressed as her favorite character, she had a ball! 
Now, she wouldn't let mommy keep her tiara on her for long which through a wrench in her hair style for the day, but its all good - she still looked cute. 

and she had a Ball!... she sat at the kids table with her friends 

We had the apple TV going with this playlist of all the songs from Sophia the First episodes on loop in order to provide age appropriate entertainment while they ate. 

Then this right here is where it started taking a turn... see that finger in her ear?! I should've known something was brewing...

But we kept going - changed her clothes so that she would feel a bit more comfortable because she started coughing and getting fussy. It was time for the cake. 

She didn't understand how to blow out a candle and wanted no parts of eating cake of any kind on this day but she knew that people were singing and she started clapping and saying yay. 

(but notice her red, puffy eyes?! UGH! something was coming)

 All in all, my baby girl had a great day. 
Peep in the background all those handmade red tissue paper flowers? yup momma was busy. Anything for my baby. 

 Happy Birthday Gracia! I hope you had as much fun as you could... 
We know you won't remember so these pictures really are for you. 

 So the next day after her birthday party was her one year well visit. We found out that Gracia had a double ear infection (her fourth documented double ear infection within one year) and needed to see a specialist. She also had RSV. That was the most heartbreaking. She had to sit there with the nebulizer at the doctors office. Nothing hurts your heart more than seeing your baby screaming because they are uncomfortable. She was prescribed a pump that we had to administer every 4 hours for five days. Thankfully, it never got worse than that - we prayed over her as well. 
She is doing much better and scheduled to have tubes put in her ears later this month. 

Thanks for reading.. 
We love you Princess!

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1st Party Planning.. Woes.

I am a professional event planner despite not really working in that area in my life at the moment - not taking any recent clients to focus on other areas... however, I have never been more intimidated/excited to plan my daughters 1st Birthday Party. 
I mean, I planned my wedding which was over 500 guests and 250 at the reception with handmade, boxed, triple layer invitations made by yours truly and yet - I am quite intimidated by the planning of my daughters first birthday. Why? you may ask? Pinterest!
Gosh - there are some wealthy, crafty, awesome rock star party planning moms out there and I have never hosted a children's party before so as you can imagine - ALL of the things that I have thought of before I went to Pinterest have maximized in size greatly and the sheer amount of work to be done has kind of halted my progress instead of steadily working on projects the whole time. 
So, she is Turning One and I am planning a Sofia the First Birthday Party
It is her favorite cartoon on Disney Junior and the first character that she started talking to when we went to The White House Easter Egg Roll. 

I am hosting a small gathering at my moms house and have decided to recreate some scenes from some of MY favorite episodes. LOL (yes, I love Sofia the First too!)
I was able to find someone via Etsy who was able to recreate the logo but add my daughters name to it and it has become the official logo of her party. 

I have created a Pinterest Board and it has a ton of stuff that I am STILL trying to get to finish before the Party on Sunday. 

and I learned how to make my own Chalkboard sign featuring her 1st year updates
among other signs for the Party

So far the only other thing that I have been able to complete is at least half of the red tissue paper roses that I am going to use behind the buffet to recreate the Enchanted Feast scene where the room was engulfed in roses. Needless to say, I can't wait until her Aunts and my Parents get in town because I need all of the help I can get in order to finish this huge project.

I still have all the printables to print out and signs to assemble, balloons to blow up, center pieces to create let alone get her ready. 
Oh, and the one unique thing I decided to do since her birthday is so close to Christmas was to create a Birthday tree covered in Sofia the First plush characters. 

I think I will be ready - Are you praying for me?
I will recap as soon as I can. 

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How to take Great Photos for Christmas Cards with Young Children

For the first year, my husband and I decided that we would take family pictures and actually send out Christmas Cards. We had never done so before. I think the last time that we sent correspondence via the mail was our wedding invitation, so we figured it was about time. 
Four years and a baby later, we are finally taking family portraits and sending out Christmas Cards. 

One of my biggest fears was booking portraits and my almost one year old having a meltdown during the photo shoot. My other fear was that because she is coming into her own, having someone she doesn't know trying to take her picture, she may also give a fake and non-genuine smile (like she did at the pumpkin patch) and I didn't want that for my Christmas card either. That meant time of day was KEY in making our photography appointment.

Gracia usually wakes up around 6:15am and is her happiest as soon as she opens her eyes. She will remain awake until about 9:30am when she is ready for her first nap of the day. So we booked our portraits for 8:30am. Luckily, our favorite photographer, Iris Mannings Photography was available at that hour.

Here are few things to keep in mind when trying to take Photos with young children:
1. Consider your child's mood throughout the day. Are they happiest first thing in the morning or are they more cooperative in the afternoon. 
2. Bring familiar items that will get them to smile. 
3. Bring a change of clothes in case something gets stained or ruined. 
4. Bring snacks as rewards for listening and cooperating.
We did all of these things and ended up having a great session at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel in National Harbor, MD. 

I saw Tiny Prints was having a sale on their Holiday Cards so it seemed perfect to give them a try. I had been obsessed with their new foil Holiday Cards that I knew, once we got our photos back, that I would want to use them. Once I selected my favorite design, I wanted to make sure we had poses that  would correspond well with the options that I had in mind. To ensure this, I took print outs of my favorite selections to the photo shoots. As a result, we were able to capture some greats shots. 

When we first arrived at the site, Gracia was able to get familiar with our photographer. We got started, but soon she became moody and we realized in our rush that it was time for to eat once again and she was not going to cooperate if she was hungry. I love that despite having a "time-out" moment from the shoot, our photographer kept snapping away - despite me feeling all kinds of embarrassed because my child was not cooperating - and she was able to capture some great mommy and me moments. 

Once Gracia got her happy food - she was ready to go... 
I love the shots we were able to capture all over the hotel. 

Sometimes with young children you also have to let them lead the shoot and go with the flow... 
Gracia at this point (below) was tired of sitting on our laps and being manipulate into poses and what not that she had kicked off her shoes for the 50,000th time and was about to have full on tears... come to find out she just wanted to sit on the stairs next to us like a "big girl". I had to let her and look - she lit up like a Christmas Tree. 

I got home and plugged in a few proofs into my favorite Tiny Prints design and sent to my photographer for an opinion and to let her know which ones I wanted her to focus on editing right away so I can place my order.
I ended up settling on this one because I felt it was so fitting of where we are in life. 

And we got to snap a few solo shots to use for her upcoming 1st Birthday too! 

Merry Christmas!
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Let's Go to the Pumpkin Patch

My favorite holidays are approaching!! Something about the holidays that fall within the last three months of the year that makes me feel all warm and loving inside. Probably because these last holidays of the year include a lot of family get togethers and capturing a whole lot of precious moments on camera. It had only been the two of us for so long that we are both so excited to have our first holiday season with our 10-month old daughter. Having kids around for the holidays gives us big kids at heart, an excuse to truly over-celebrate every holiday… for no reason at all. I mean really – when it was the two of us, the tree was put up probably two days before Christmas. Last year, I never even finished decorating the thing. I believe the ornaments and star that I purchased may still be in the bag. (hangs head down in shame).
We would purchase presents always on Christmas Eve and not one day sooner. We got each other what was left and were happy with the results because we never really wanted anything that was a hot ticket item. With a 10-month old, whose Birthday happens to be 2 weeks before Christmas and very excited Grandparents, this holiday season is like none other. Therefore, a LOT of planning and preparation is going into place for this holiday/birthday season.  
Even though Gracia is still really too young to even understand what is going on, I decided that we would begin some family traditions: starting with decorating the house for the holidays and sending out Holiday Cards! We received so many photo cards last year, but had nothing to show in return. In my defense, I was pregnant all holiday season last year.  I have always wanted to do send out cards and this year, I am determined. I had been searching for some great card designs and found that some of my favorite designs are on Tiny Prints. Now that I wanted to order them, I felt like we had no recent photos to order our Christmas Cards with. Who wants to get a card this year with her newborn photos on it? (I never did get to send those out). This year, I have more time to plan since I am not recovering.
Someone is ready for the Pumpkin Patch
So we began our Holiday prep this weekend with a couple of Family outings. There are some things that I loved to do as a child that my husband never got to experience.
 We planned our family outing around morning nap time, which is most important (if she is not rested, it will not be fun for neither of us) and we dressed in our fall inspired colors. We were off to the farm to experience the pumpkin patch as a family.
Telling her all about the Pumpkin Patch
One thing that I loved as a child was The Pumpkin Patch, Hay rides and Corn Mazes! My husband on the other hand had never been and thinks of the whole idea as me being “adventurous”. Whatever the case may be, it’s FALL! In keeping with the over-celebrating of every holiday… there is not a better way than to welcome the crisp air, than by picking out a pumpkin.  Luckily we live right across from the best Farms in town.  It has so many attractions, hayrides, bonfires, corn mazes, etc. more importantly a Pumpkin Patch.


Always trying to make an escape

If she is standing, she is dancing

We were not the only ones either. We followed behind those who look like they have done this before with their toddlers and cameras, sat Gracia among the pumpkins and just let her explore.
 She loved every bit of it. We loved seeing her beat on them and have this inquisitive look about her face. Daddy was so happy to see that his little girl is really growing up.
He however did not let her take one home this year. Maybe next time Gracia – I think she would’ve tried to eat it anyways. Little Miss Gracia is teething on everything these days.
After playing in the Pumpkin Patch, we walked over to the Farmers Market and each selected a sweet treat to take home. Gracia was recently introduced to solids and snacks so she was all too excited, almost too excited about Mommy’s kettle popcorn.
Needless to say, I had to hide the bag from her once we got home because she really was upset that mommy was not going to share any with her.
Now that she is a little more aware of what’s going on, getting her to smile while she is “busy” is proving to be tougher. While one of us is holding her steady the other is camera in hand trying to just snap away with hopes that we can get at least one picture that we like and perhaps get our Holiday cards together. She also does this toothless grandma thing where she bites her lips –
definitely doesn’t make for a cute family photo. So, candid pictures were the way to go! What we found was that, unfortunately for us, all of her excitement was when the sun was at her back which meant poor lighting for any type of photo cards.
That’s ok – there is another family outing to try to capture more photos planned for next week! Like I said, I am determined to send out a Holiday Card this year! Don’t you just love the holiday season?
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