Gender Reveal Party: One Year Ago Today!

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Dear Sweet Lila,

One year ago today, we got to know you a tiny bit better. We found out you were a girl, as we were surrounded by our friends and family, making it a magical night. It was casual in my parent’s backyard, decorated and transformed by bright pink and turquoise pom poms in the trees. Daddy grilled hamburgers, Pop Pop ran around “entertaining” everyone with how high Conrad could jump for a treat, and the great-great grandparents sat in Adirondacks probably thinking the whole party was a hoot because “in their day…” I digress.

I had invited everyone to wear pink or blue to make their guess on whether you were a girl or boy- but we also had festive leis to wear as a vote! We tallied the votes and took pictures. We had pretty even teams! Yes, in some pictures I do have on a blue lei, but that’s only because I thought you were a boy. (Stupid pregnancy dreams!) I hope you think that’s funny one day. Thanks to Gigi’s quick thinking, I am in both team pics, luckily.

After we all ate, it was time to cut the cake and do the big REVEAL! We were so nervous and giddy holding the knife together as we had at our wedding 3 years before. I will say that Daddy was quite impatient and tore the cake instead of slicing! Then we held up the honkin’ piece of pink cake that we had managed to slice. I love that we didn’t know beforehand, and that these pictures truly show our excitement and raw emotion. I couldn’t stop crying I was so excited!

This was also the night I announced we were pregnant on social media. (Will you think that’s lame when you are my age?)

When we went two days earlier to the big 18 week ultrasound appointment, we had the ultrasound tech put your gender in an envelope and I took that to the Blue Cake Co. We had already planned out the cake, and the instructions were to have pink or blue cake based on the envelope’s contents. So we were just as surprised as everyone else. It was really really hard to not peak! (continued below…)

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We are truly blessed to have you in our lives. One year ago, it was hard to imagine the baby that we were going to have. Now we can’t imagine you any other way. It has been fun to watch you grow- laughing and learning. You make us happy when skies are grey. We love you dearly, Lila Gray.

Love,

Mommy and Daddy

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29 Years Old with a 29 Week Old.

The key word here is OLD.  So the weeks just keep rolling by. Wasn’t it JUST March? My newborn will be 7 months old next week? Are you kidding me? And I’m how old? But I still get carded all the time?!? Maybe I really am still 19 in a weird time-warp. I still look at Lila sometimes wondering who she is. Is this real life?

I have finally gone back to work and I haven’t had a chance to post anything lately except on Instagram (@allienott or @thepaintedpig) or Facebook! Sowwy! I’m an instant gratification gal in most cases, so really that’s why. I like to post on the go, and the further behind I got on here, the more I knew I just couldn’t do this post from my phone. Isn’t this pic funny? She would lay her head down like this and then up again to play. She only did this for about a week. It’s exhausting being 6 months old.

I'm le tired. Please don't make me play any more. It's nap time.

I’m le tired. Please don’t make me play any more. It’s nap time.

The week of my birthday (& Easter) I went to a friend’s house for a BABY PARTY!  It was so much fun getting together for a play date with other new moms, and seeing other babies! Lila was the oldest in this pic, (a couple older babies left before we got a chance to document it) and the ONLY GIRL. Seriously? Where are all the baby girls!?!? It will be funny when they are all older to see how they interact. Hopefully we will be invited back soon! I was sick last week with horrible allergies when they all went to the park. Bummer. This picture makes me laugh because she looks huge compared to the rest. (We are in the bottom right).

baby party

Happy Birthday to me!

We went out to eat with friends at US Pizza one night, then out to eat with family on my birthday night at Tokyo House to eat suuuushi. Yum. And there were cupcakes and presents…oh my! I got a little creative with the cupcakes. Love the matchy-matchy. Thanks to all who helped me celebrate. It’s my last legitimate birthday because – weird- I will be turning 29 next year as well.

Cupcake matchyCupcake Bootie.

I am kind of obsessed with the side bun right now. This was my birthday hairdo. I may be am rocking it right now. Messy but still cute, right? eh? eh?

side bun

booze baby

Some of my friends with Lila, who was kind of obsessed with the beer bubbles…

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN THE WAITRESS STEALS YOUR BABY AND YOU DON’T BREATHE FOR A MINUTE OR TWO…. Is this a thing that happens? I would never dream of touching a stranger’s baby, but I have had it happen several times in the past weeks! I even had a lady pull her paci out to “get a good look at her” at an downtown gumbo cookoff. This was one of those moments when my husband said he thought I was GOING TO KILL HIM. I was surprisingly calm, but wierded out. She was sweet, but clueless- just like our waitress.  I took this as evidence in case she ran out the door with her. (just kidding…)

Did she seriously just grab my baby out of my husband's arms?

Did she seriously just grab my baby out of my husband’s arms?

Lila’s First Easter

Lila's Easter Basket 2013

Baby’s First Easter Basket:
Board Books
Carrots (baby food)
Bunny
Lamb
Pacifiers
Mesh Feeders
 Gel Ice Teether
Boo Boo Bunny
Bibs
Sippy Cup

Lila’s favorites so far are The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss, and the Mesh Feeders (with frozen bananas). Isn’t her basket cute? I bought it from Target and had it monogrammed here in town at Mrs. Polka Dot.

Easter 2013

I think Lila had fun, she certainly was more into it than Christmas. She kept tipping the basket over to spill everything out. Which was hilarious, apparently. Later, we went to church and then dinner at my parent’s house. Fun family time!

Notice anything awesome about this pic? Oh- that we are all conveniently looking decent? I made this pic out of about 3 pictures I had from my camera. I used an app on my iPad to combine them MAGICALLY. Its called Group Shot. It doesn’t save as high res as I would like, but is great for this & Instagram. I am a little obsessed. If you have a kids, dogs, or people that ALWAYS talk through pictures (my family), I highly recommend it. Don’t look too closely, I could have done better, but its my first one!

Easter 2013Lila Easter 2013

Lila’s “Simba” moment.

Next up: I think I will share photos from Lila’s Gender Reveal Party. Can’t believe its been a year since that! Stay tuned.

Peas were a hit.

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We mixed some peas in with some rice cereal tonight. She loved it! And was unsure. And shuddered. Then smiled. Awesome!

It was a dried pea mixture by Nurturme that was in my February Bluum box that came so late I can’t remember if it was actually the March box…. We will give them one more month to get their ducks in a row. I’ve enjoyed 3 boxes prior to this one.

Also, I realized today that I have a hand held black & decker whisk & blade that will purée her food. Ready. Boom.

This solid food thing might just work out. 🙂

Poll: Baby Food Processors

Lila is quickly approaching the 6 month mark, (her half birthday! So excited!) and we are excited to start experimenting with solid foods. I would love to make my own baby food, and it would be nice to have something to steam/chop/puree for me. I am interested in making small batches, and some of these contraptions come with storage cups for on the go, which is nice.

Lila is loving her Rice Cereal!

Lila is loving her Rice Cereal! She gets concerned when the spoon takes a break.

Did you use any of these products? I would love to know any tips you have!

Thanks, y’all!

Love Allie

**UPDATE**
After getting a lot of feedback from my Facebook followers, I was encouraged to not buy any of these- I had a Black and Decker handheld purée /whisk (forgot I had it!) and it works great! I use ice cube trays to freeze the small portions. It doesn’t grind food as small and smooth as the Stage 1 baby foods you can buy, but if you add a teeny bit of water then it thins it a little. Lila never had had a problem and likes the texture better than store-bought I think. 🙂

My Favorite Things: For Mommy

For all you new Mommies & Mommy-to-be’s, here is my list of things I couldn’t live without for the first 4 months. Half of them I didn’t even know about until after she was born. So hopefully this list helps!

Lil' Mama Nottingham's Favorite Things: for Mommy

Lil’ Mama Nottingham’s Favorite Things: for Mommy

1. Philosophy Amazing Grace Body Wash– I used this all through my pregnancy. Very clean smell. I still love it.

2 .Purell Hand Sanitizer- Please don’t touch my newborn with your dirty hands. We have this in the den, in her room, in my diaper bag. Call me OCD, I don’t care.

3. Kalencom Diaper Bag– I got 2 of these as gifts, and I love them. Big enough to carry diapers, wipes, extra outfit just in case, a couple toys, burp cloth, and also my essentials so I can leave the purse at home. I have always carried big purses- so this isn’t a huge transition for me. It comes with a changing pad, bottle carrier, and zippered pouch. Plus the patterns are fun and cute.

4. Chicco Keyfit Caddy Stroller– I was on bed rest the whole month before Lila was born, and a stroller is one thing we didn’t get around to buying before she got here. My OB actually recommended this to me for quick errands and shopping. It’s really light, and is easy to unfold and collapse in my Jeep. My Chicco Keyfit 30 snaps right into it. Graco also makes one like it for it’s infant seats.

5. Nursing Tanks- I love these. I got a few from Target, and they are awesome. If you plan on breastfeeding in public, then your midsection remains hidden. Brilliant!

6. Medela Calma Nipple– This makes it easier to switch back and forth from breast to bottle. The baby has to “work” for the milk to come out, and doesn’t get lazy! Also, no spills. It isn’t cheap, but it is my choice for when we use bottles. We got one for $17 from the hospital shop, but Babies R Us had a set for a few dollars more that also included (2) 8oz bottles. Plus Babies R Us has tons of coupons and sales, so I bet you could get it cheaper.

7. Medela Milk Storage Bags– If you are pumping, milk storage bags are a necessity. I like these, and storing milk in 2-4 oz portions helps cut down on waste.

8. Lansinoh Nursing Pads– Next time around, I am making or purchasing some fabric ones off of Etsy. But if you want disposable ones, these are comfortable and cheap.

9. Pumpease Pumping Bra– I got mine off of Zulily, and it’s basically a strapless bra with holes in it. You can also take a sports bra and make one easily. Hands-free pumping is so much easier, trust me.

10. Baby Bargains Book– A mom friend reccomended this after I told her how overwehelmed I was with shopping for cribs, car seats, and other essentials. THIS BOOK IS AWESOME. I consulted it before every major purchase, even last week when we bought a high chair. It has everything you could imagine and is updated every year. They also have BABY 411 which is a good book to reference every time your baby sneezes, poops, or hiccups. Just kidding, but not really.

So thats it! Enjoy. BUY THE BABY BARGAINS BOOK. (I swear no one is paying me to say that).

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine's Day Script

I hope you had a great day! After a really rough night with my sweetie, (growth spurt?? teething?? both??) I felt like I had the biggest hangover ever. I think maybe she wanted to tell me “Happy Valentine’s Day” over and over til dawn. LOL.  So when we were invited to lunch, we quickly said YES!  Then we finished delivering our handmade Valentines.

Little tootsies make great hearts! Can you tell I've had some printing practice?

Little tootsies make great hearts! Can you tell I’ve had some printing practice?

Lila's Valentines were all different. I cut the hearts out then I added paper and pen accents.

Lila’s Valentines were all different. I cut the hearts out then I added paper and pen accents.

Handmade Valentine's Day Card

Here is another one!

Inside her cards, I included a current picture. I can't wait until she can make her own!

Inside her cards, I included a current picture. I can’t wait until she can make her own Valentines one day.

Everyone LOVED them! You can’t go wrong with footprints. Having a paint your own pottery studio as our family business, I have had the pleasure of printing hundreds of baby feet. This was my first time using acrylic paint, which made me nervous because its permanent…on clothes, the bouncer she was seated in….but we had not problems! I had my wet wipes handy and I went pretty fast. 🙂

Here’s what Lila gave me for Valentine’s Day.

Lila's Valentine's Mug

Lila’s Heart Mug

Isn’t it precious? I will admit the chevron as a bit of a pain. But so worth it. If you are unfamiliar with Paint Your Own Pottery Studios, then you have been missing out! It is so much fun for all ages. We have birthday parties, ladies nights, walk-in painters, etc. Not to mention we also offer silver jewelry (Precious Metal Clay), mosaics, and glass fusing! I picked out the mug I wanted, printed her feet with special glaze, and then painted around it to my heart’s content. (no pun intended? hmm) The paint is non-toxic and washable (unlike acrylic) and becomes permanent once the studio staff glazes and fires it. At our studio, we have so many projects coming in that the typical processing time is 7-10 days, but it depends on the time of year. If you would like more info on finding a pottery studio near you, go here.  If you would like to visit my studio’s website, go here. But please don’t judge the site. We are currently updating and redoing it. 🙂

Anyways, I love my mug! We had a great day, and to top it off, my husband surprises me with chocolate covered strawberries. YUM.

chocolate covered strawberries

My Favorite Things: Months 1-3

Here’s the post I was promising. My favorite things for the first 3 months. Of course, this is what worked for my family, and you may have something you like better. (Please share if you do!)

Lil Mama Nottingham favorite things 1-3 mos

1. Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny Bouncer – She started liking this more after a couple of weeks. She still loves it now. I sometimes call it her “Pooping Chair,” because for one reason or another, things get moving in there and nothin’ wrong with that! Thankfully, the seat liner is washable and dries quickly on its own. She loves the vibrations, and she used to sleep in it sometimes. I do have one dislike – the legs of the seat have tripped me, my husband, mother, & mother-in-law on more than one occasion. It probably is the most cursed thing in our living room. (But we have a teeeeeniny living room, and the bouncer wouldn’t trip us if we had it in a larger room. Still wouldn’t trade it for another. It’s amazing how much smaller your house gets with a baby and all their equipment, right??)

2.Vacuum- ok ok. I know this sounds silly but one night in the beginning SHE WOULDN’T STOP CRYING. Actually, because I was sleep deprived and had tried everything I could think of, I was crying too! So we Googled it, and sure enough, the vacuum cleaner calmed her down. You just leave it on, and it’s louder than the white noise stuffed animals or radio static. I really wish I had known this sooner, but that’s why I’m sharing. I’ve only had to use it two times, thankfully. It immediately calmed her so she could sleep.

3. Aden+Anais Swaddling Blankets– I heard these were the best from a mom-friend when I was pregnant. Then I received these as a gift. THEY ARE AWESOME. They are big- much bigger than typical flannel cotton receiving blankets. So for the novice Swaddler, these are great. They are soft, breathable muslin. I never had to worry about her overheating at night. (Swaddled in her Rock n’ Play). Register for some, or buy some yourself. They are worth it!

4. Cloud B Sleep Sheep– We have this one, a travel one, and the Giraffe. And we use all of them . On the back are 4 buttons, with 4 different white noise sounds, and you can choose 26 or 45 minutes for the sound to play. We have one in our room, one in her room, and one for the diaper bag ready for nap time at Grammie’s or GiGi’s.

5. Fisher Price Rock n’ Play– We started with a bassinet that had been in the family for generations. Then we noticed she really slept better in things that were reclined or slanted. So after some research, we got this. We actually got the one pictured on sale at Target for about $20. But I think the one I linked to would be great for newborns, very snuggly with the pillow. As far as the recall goes, I think if baby produces any liquid in the rocker, you should CLEAN IT. We checked as soon as the recall happened, and we found nothing. (Common sense!) Mine is really easy to wipe down, or you can unbutton the liner and throw it in the wash. She slept in hers until the week she turned 4 months, when we transitioned to the crib.

6. Balboa Baby Sling– I got tangled up in the Moby Wrap, and trying to get it wrapped around me seemed a hassle. I know a lot of folks like them, but I returned that and found a sling I liked better. I can put her in easily. For safety – make sure you can “kiss her head.” You want her head to be visable. Make sure to read the instructions. There is a handy pocket on it so I can put my phone there if I need to. I must admit, I was not “wearing” her every day. I used it when I was having to do simple chores or out of the house. It’s not completely hands-free, but for someone who had carpal tunnel, the weight wasn’t on my hands/arms anymore.

Here I am at 38 weeks in the hospital and 2 weeks later with my sling.

Here I am at 38 weeks in the hospital and 2 weeks later with Lila in my sling.

7. Blooming Bath Flower– I received this as a gift at one of my showers. What a game changer! I had bought a tub from Babies R Us and it was a pain. Once I put it on the counter in my kitchen, I couldn’t get a great hold on her because I am short and I was extremely nervous. Also, the tub leaked at one point and was also a pain. So Blooming Bath to the rescue! I put it in our kitchen sink, and it is so much easier! Plus, it’s cushy so she likes the feel, and I can wash it in the washing machine. (Air dry though.)

Blooming Bath Flower

Blooming Bath Flower

8. Taggies Activity Gym– Really, I think any gym would work. I like the Taggies brand because its colorful and there are a lot of toys and fun things for her to investigate. I like that I can remove or add toys to the loops. Also, it is big enough that she has been practicing rolling on it without leaving the mat. I also like the one with a Kick Piano, if I could have two, I’d get that one too. 🙂 Here is the Piano one.

9. Graco Pack ‘N Play– We used our Pack ‘N Play as a changing table and bed in our den the first two months. She slept really well in the Newborn Napper. Having a changing table in the den was really convenient in the beginning. At first, I wasn’t sure we should splurge on the newborn napper and such. Super glad we did.

Some things that didn’t make this list but we still love : Boppy Pillow & extra cover, & Pampers Swaddlers. Gotta love the stripe that changes colors when dirty or wet!

What baby product(s) from Months 1-3 do you recommend?

Lila says, “Good Night!”

Hello again

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Ok. Let’s get caught up. This Mama has been busy! The holidays just flew by. We had a crazy Christmas here in Arkansas, with ice then snow starting on Christmas day, and on into the night. We got about 10 inches in Little Rock, which is A BIG DEAL. Which also put some Christmas festivities on hold till the snow melted. So we had Lila’s FIRST: Christmas, Snow, New Year AND she rolled over from her tummy for the first time too!

After that, we hit the “3 month sleep regression” which I think someone made up- but that’s the only explanation for what was going on. We were sleeping just fine, for 8-10 hours at night, then BAM. Every 2 hours like a newborn. The wake up crying “I’m starving, where are you???” Kind of stuff. Call it a sleep regression, growth spurt, whatev. It’s exhausting. It makes me want to sleep on the floor next to her crib. It’s a miracle I haven’t run into a wall! But we are slowly getting back to a longer stretch again at night. Only took a month. It’s amazing how much her little body is growing. Gotta give her credit- she’s doing MUCH better than I did. At least she didn’t have colic (the dreaded c-word!) Am I safe to say she’s past it?? Knock on wood.

She truly is amazing. It’s crazy how every day she gets stronger. She’s learning how to roll, how to use her hands, and recently how to laugh. It’s the most amazing gift to be a mother, and I’m loving every minute of it. Every smile melts my heart.

I’m making lists of our favorite items from months 1-3 and 4. Stay tuned!
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Baby’s Shadow Box

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Baby Nottingham’s Shadow Box

What do you do with those hospital bracelets? What’s a cute way to frame that birth announcement!? Well, a shadow box of course!
I originally bought this shadow box frame from Target this summer before she was born (less than $15, I believe) with a gift card thinking I would put something of mine in it from my childhood. Two weeks ago, it was still empty and hanging out in her closet. So I decided to make her a cute memory box, or shadow box, using her birth announcement as the focal point. It’s a fairly simple project, with very few steps or supplies needed. I think the hardest part was the arrangement of the pieces inside.

Materials:
Shadow box frame
Scrapbook paper (12 x 12)
Straight pins (or some other way to attach bulky items)
Scrapbook tape or adhesive
Personal items to display

Lila’s personal items that I used were:
Her birth announcement
The tiny hat she wore in the picture
All four of our hospital bracelets (she had two)

Basically, once you have all of your personal items, make sure they are essential to the piece. The card from her hospital bed that had all her birth info was edited out of my arrangement because I had the same info on her birth announcement (and it was cuter). I’ve seen lots of shadow boxes that are completely stuffed with clothing, or scrapbook stickers, and that just wasn’t working for me. WWFMMNWFY (What works for me may not work for you!)

Here are a couple other examples I found by googling:
Baby Shoes
Boy and Girl Examples

First, I placed my square scrapbook paper over the felt backing inside the frame. Then I played with the arrangement of the items until I was happy with it. I decided to mount her Birth announcement on a coordinating piece of scrapbook paper so it would “pop” more. I attached all of the items to the backing using the straight pins (except for the paper items where I also used scrapbook tape). It sort of has the look that I just pinned this stuff haphazardly, and I like that. Sometimes I don’t want something to look 100% perfect, or that I spent a ton of time on it.
Like I said, very easy and quick project, and fairly cheap too!

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Detail of Baby Nottingham’s Shadow Box