Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mary Ella's First Birthday

Saturday was so much fun! I am so blessed to have such an amazing, wonderful, dedicated family that cares so much about sweet Mary Ella. Almost everyone was able to come over for the birthday celebration and we had such a great time. Mary Ella was a great sport and even when we could tell she was exhausted, she kept going and kept smiling! Needless to say, she slept pretty good last night!

We ate cucumber and tomato sandwiches, cheese straws, green dip, fresh fruit and a few other snacks as well. Afterwards we enjoyed our polka dot cupcakes. I made 2 batches of strawberry cupcakes and 1 batch of regular white cupcakes, but I dyed the icing lime green with cake coloring. I didn't take a picture of the table set up with the food, and to be honest I didn't even eat anything because I was so busy, but it all looked wonderful! (And I must say thank you to my mother and my aunts Amanda and Kristi for bringing ALL of the finger foods! Yall are the best!)

For decorations, the girls and my dear friend Sara helped me with the birthday banner, made from scrapbook paper...

the polka dot ribbon topiaries, which I found on this website...

and the tissue paper decorations, which are actually just a roll of toilet paper wrapped up tissue paper, with a dowel stuck in the middle and a picture taped to the dowel... an easy idea for a centerpiece and a cute way to display pictures of the birthday girl!

We also had a table set up as you entered the living room with a scrapbook, and everyone that was here left Mary Ella a sweet birthday message. I am going to put a few pictures of the party in here, and then every year we will get out the same book for people to write in! I think it will be a sweet memory book for her to have when she is older..

Mary Ella's cupcakes were a big hit as well. We made a batch of 72 polka dot cupcakes. I made them using a strawberry cake mix for pink cupcakes, and a white cake mix which I dyed lime green using cake coloring, to make lime green cupcakes! Then we iced them with home made cream cheese icing and added gum balls for polka dots and a pink candy melt with her "M" monogram in the middle. Her cake was a giant version of one of these cupcakes. I borrowed the Wilton giant cupcake pan from a friend in Florence and it turned out to be really cute (although my uncle Chad thought it was a house - ughhhh.) She TORE into that cake, buddy! Once she figured out that that pink and green stuff on her hands not only felt good but tasted DELICIOUS, she was 110% focused on getting that stuff in her mouth! I loved watching her! Thanks to my mom for her appliqued bib and of course her cupcake outfit that she wore for the rest of her party!

She was so cute when she opened her presents. Every time I would get a new present out of the bag or box, she would make this "oooh" face with her lips and her eyes would get SO big (as if they could get any bigger!) and she would go "ooh, ooh!" and look at me, then back at the present! It was precious! She loved everything she got, even the clothes. It was fun seeing her get excited about each package

All in all, it was such a great day! We are looking forward to Thursday, her real birthday! By now she is used to all this birthday stuff! She tells EVERYONE she meets that she is ONE by holding her finger up! AND she can blow out her own candle! (The kid's had her fair share of cupcakes and cake over the last week - whew!)

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's a hard knock life...

Cake Mix = $1.12
Wilton Cupcake Decoration Kit = $10.00
200 Hot Pink and Lime Green Gumballs (for the polka dots) = $6.99
Having my cousins here to help me make Mary Ella's birthday cupcakes =

Well, in preparation for the birthday celebration that is tomorrow, I have recruited 3 of the GREATEST helpers in the world! My cousins Annsley, Ann Marie and Courtney have been here since yesterday morning and have been working their cute little butts off to help me pull off the perfect polka dot party! Not only have they had fun watching Mary Ella while I've been running errands and doing things around the house, they've gone above and beyond to make my life an absolute BREEZE this week!

Notice how Annsley is preparing my dinner...

While Ann Marie prepares Mary Ella's milk...

And Courtney is actually TYPING this blog as I speak the words to her...

Ok, just kidding about that part. But seriously, anything I have asked, they have DONE IT! Without uttering a single sigh or complaint. This morning they dusted my entire upstairs, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, helped me make 72 (yes, that's what I said - 72!!) of the cutest cupcakes I have EVER seen, have changed countless dirty diapers, entertained Lucy and have even been able to catch a few episodes of Hannah Montana in between their chores... ha! I couldn't have done it without them.
Tonight we celebrated a job (or jobs) well done with dinner and a movie. We saw "My Sister's Keeper" and all I can say is... WOW. One of the best movies I have ever seen. I've had the book for quite some time, but never got around to reading it. But I was crying within the first 5 minutes and I cried the rest of the way through the movie. I usually down my popcorn in the first 20 minutes, and when the credits rolled at the end, I had not taken one bite. It's that good. And you know what? It actually made me proud of the fact that I am 110% focused on giving my child a wonderful, memorable birthday celebration. A few nights ago I made myself feel guilty for being so anxious and worried about this party... for throwing a party at all... for buying all this "stuff" - this paper, these balloons, these GUMBALLS that only serve as decorations on cupcakes and that will most likely not be consumed by ANYONE! But tonight I feel differently. In the last few months I have actually been to more funerals than birthday celebrations... when I saw that movie tonight, I was reminded of that fact... and I was reminded of how precious these celebrations are... celebrations of another year of LIFE, of BLESSING, of just having that someone - that child, that sister, that father or friend - what a blessing to have time with the people we love. And so celebrate we will! Because GOD is GOOD and He gives us these reasons to celebrate! Bring on the polka dots! Anyway, go see the movie!! And come back to check out our party pictures!!!

How many girls does it take to change a dirty diaper???

WHO CARES! As long as they're changing it!

Friday, June 19, 2009


Just in the last day, Mary Ella has come to understand it when we say, "Say...(fill in the blank)" and she will try to mimic everything! It is so fun! She is saying "Please" (peesh), "Mama," "Baby," "fish" (shish) and "juice" (shoosh) on demand! Right now she is enjoying a banana sandwich and some goldfish for dinner. We are about to go outside and enjoy the rest of the day since the temperature has finally DROPPED to 85!!! Ridiculous!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I seriously appreciate everyone who commented about my birthday dilemma! I really got some great advice. I think that's one of the great things about having a blog - I'd go crazy if I couldn't get others' opinions on things like this, especially other moms who are experiencing the same things!

We have decided to have Mary Ella's party on June 27th (next Saturday) at our house. I think I decided on the Saturday before her birthday because, a) In general, I like to be rushed, because I get more done that way, and b) July 11th would have been almost 10 days after her real birthday, and I didn't want the "hype" to be completely over. So we'll have the party on the 27th, then celebrate with just the 3 of us on her real birthday, July 2nd. So basically I am running around like a crazy person getting stuff done! Since she's not really into anything in particular, I'm having a pink/lime green polka dot party. I know I have plenty of years ahead where she'll be begging me for a Dora party or a Cinderella party, so I think this year we'll just do something bright and cute. I have gotten some incredible ideas from some other blogs for party banners, favors, cupcakes, etc, so I'm excited to be planning this celebration. More importantly, I'm excited to be CELEBRATING my daughter's life - I thank God for that precious baby every day. She is such a blessing.

Here are my invitations -
First, I downloaded the cute font from, then I printed my text on some cute pink scrapbook paper that I found at Hobby Lobby. Next I took some other scrapbook paper and cut out polka dots, a column of stripes, etc, and glued until I had something that I thought looked halfway decent. Then I just ran photocopies of that one invitation, and there you go! An easy way to make invitations - for cheap! This whole project was less than $15.00.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pictures from last week

I'm 11 months old, everybody!

Check out my blue eyes!

And here I am at the library during snack/craft time...

I like glue.

The final product = a caterpillar house!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Great Summer Recipes!

I made these Greek burgers and some roasted vegetables last night for Chad and his parents, and everything turned out so yummy! I am always looking for summer time recipes that allow us to take advantage of the fresh produce and of course, the outdoor grill! These are WONDERFUL!

Greek Burgers
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp pepper

Mix the turkey with the other ingredients and form into 1-inch thick patties. Grill over medium heat for about 6 minutes on each side! (No condiments needed, but as a suggestion, try drizzling with Marie's Greek Vinaigrette - it is wonderful!)

Roasted Summer Vegetables & Marinade
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb asparagus
2 summer squash
6 fresh carrots, sliced in half lengthwise
2 red onions, quartered
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

Mix the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and pour into a large ziplock bag. Add the vegetables and seal bag, then toss until the marinade has coated the veggies. Marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours. Spread veggies onto a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes. The smell alone will win you over! These are delicious. Yum-O!

*Recipes courtesy of Taste of Home magazine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Birthday Bash - What do I do?

Well, we are back and already in full swing! I had such a great time at the beach and I miss it already. But it was great to get back here too. We were ready to see our neighbors and our small group friends and our sweet Lucy! We missed everyone so much.

This week I am planning on taking Mary Ella to the pool on a few days and maybe doing some other activities as well. We are going to go to the Pelham Library today because they are starting their summer Together Time program. (They have it all through the year but the summer one is longer and more involved.) It will take place every Wednesday and each week will feature a different story/craft time/snack having to do with summer. I think today is Fun in the Sun... we will see how it goes.
I feel like I need to keep her entertained since we have been going nonstop the last week! We'd go from breakfast to beach to lunch to beach to nap to beach, to pool to beach to dinner and back to the beach... so I was afraid she'd have withdrawals this week! This is such a fun age and I just want to soak it up while I can and pack in as much fun as I can. Because I know I might not get to be home with her forever, you never know. I will try and take pictures at the library today and post them later.

I need to get busy planning this one year birthday party, I guess. The bad thing about her birthday is that I will forever have to plan around the 4th of July. This year her birthday is on a Thursday (July 2nd). Well, I'm sure normally a parent would throw the birthday party on Saturday afternoon... but Saturday is the 4th. So I really don't want to do that because a lot of people will be out of town and I'm sure my own family will be having a get together in Florence anyway. So do I throw a birthday party on Sunday the 5th - that afternoon? Do I throw it on her actual birthday (Thurs night) and risk an it's-way-past-my-bedtime meltdown? I really have no idea. I guess I could do it the Saturday before, or after... that just seems like so far from her actual birthday! Ahhh... decisions, decisions... but I would seriously LOVE to hear what some of you other moms/readers would do in this situation, because I am stuck!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Beach Photos

Took these of Mary Ella and Addie Jane with my aunt Kristi's new Nikon camera, which is AMAZING! I might just have to get one.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

11 Months

I will have to attach her picture when we get home, but Mary Ella turned 11 months old yesterday. Only a month away from the big first birthday bash!

At 11 months old, Mary Ella weighs somewhere around 21-22 lbs. That's my estimate. She's a chunk! But she actually seems to be getting longer too. We don't go back to the pediatrician until her one year checkup, so we'll get an update on her stats then. She is crawling EVERYWHERE and pulling up on EVERYTHING. She has had one very hard fall; she had crawled up into her pink chair and was standing on it, facing the back of it. I never thought it would flip backwards so I was just watching her from my chair. Well, it flipped backwards and she landed flat on her face/forehead. She screamed for about 5 minutes but was okay after that; I think it scared her more than anything! She had a tiny knot on her head for about a day but then it went away.

She has not attempted to take any steps or "cruise" along the furniture. But she has taken an interest in things that don't belong to her... electrical cords/outlets, my Bible highlighters, artificial plants in the house, etc. Her toys no longer keep her attention for more than a few minutes. It's sort of a difficult age, because she doesn't truly understand the word "No" and she's also not old enough to be entertained by things like coloring, crafts, fingerpainting, etc (I can't WAIT for that age, by the way! This house will be a CRAFT HEAVEN!!!) So for now we are just trying to make do by keeping her as interested as possible in her toys and by taking day trips, now that the weather is decent, to the park and to the neighborhood pool! She LOVES the pool. I have a feeling we'll be there almost every day this summer.

Her favorite toys right now are her new car, her baby dolls, and books. If you gave her the choice, though, she'd choose a book over anything. It's so sweet because she'll grab a book and sit and try to open it and flip the pages for a few minutes, and finally she'll give up and crawl over to me with the book, wanting me to read it! She loves to be read to, and I'm so thankful. That's such a special time for me.
Her favorite foods are probably waffles, scrambled eggs with cheese, and goldfish. She is pretty much eating what we eat and the only baby food she eats are the fruits. She still takes 3 cups of milk a day and we are looking forward to making the switch to whole milk in a few weeks! She also loves apple juice. Here at the beach, she has also enjoyed several snacks of SAND, which she seems to love as well.

Her words include "Da-Da," "Mama" (but only says this when she is mad or crying -ha!), "Bye-Bye," "Bah-Bah" (cup/bottle). Her "tricks" include flapping her wings like a bird when we sing "Fly, Fly" (a nursery school song), clapping her hands, waving Bye-Bye, blowing kisses, pointing to someone's/something's nose in a book or in person, and we are working on holding up ONE finger for when people ask her how old she is. She's almost got that one down. Also still working on Roll Tide. Gotta get that one down before football season! Oh, and she has to start walking before September because that is when her Uncle Buzz is getting married, and she's the flower girl! How exciting! Hopefully she won't eat the petals.

She has been the greatest blessing to me and I'm thankful for these last 11 months! I love my Mary Ella.

Monday, June 1, 2009

We LOVE the beach!

I wish I had a house on the beach. It could be a shack, or a lean-to, for all I care, because I love it here. I am SO thankful that God is creative and He channeled that creativity into beautiful places like the beach. I am thankful that there are unpredictable waves and high and low tides and sunshiney days and stormy days. I love it here.

We are at the end of our second day here at St. George Island. My family has been coming here since I was in middle school. We have started many traditions here and I hope to continue coming here with everyone as the years go by! I love it because it is private and not many people know about the place. We laughed when we arrived yesterday and saw that it was a bit "crowded" - meaning there were actually people within 1000 yards of our house - a family of four - ha! I know that the less crowded beaches aren't for everyone, but I love it. I can do without the restaurants, crowds, the TRACK (ha), and all the putt-putt places, even though those are fun things to do. Here, it is just us. We cook every night, we play games, we read, we have devotionals, we laugh, we make memories. It's the perfect vacation.

Today we watched Mary Ella stick her little feet in the sand for the first time. She loved it! Chad held her hands as she stood at the shore and let the waves come over her feet and the look on her face was priceless! A little shock mixed with pure joy and giggles. There is something very special about a baby's first trip to the beach. I don't know, I think I was just more thankful this time... because it is neat to see your own child in a new environment... and because I am just so in awe of how creative our Lord is and so grateful that He gave us places like this to enjoy! Our world could have been so mundane and boring - all black and white, no season changes, no ocean or sand or living creatures in the shapes of stars - but He went ALL OUT, literally, and gave us SO MUCH to enjoy!

Mary Ella found a sand dollar today while digging around. It was hilarious because we'd all been searching for them and she just pops one out of the sand like it was nothing! While she played in the sand and in her swimming pool, I enjoyed sitting in the sun, playing with my little cousins and talking with Ashley (my soon to be sister-in-law) about wedding stuff. Annsley and I took the ocean kayak out past the sand bar and a baby dolphin swam up beside us and kept circling around us. Every time it would get close, it would turn over on its back under the water and swim belly-up, almost like it was wanting to play! Then it swam right under our kayak and over to Brooks' kayak. He was a little freaked at first but it was the neatest thing. I should have taken my camera out there because these dolphins aren't shy at all! The mother of the baby dolphin waited for him/her off in the distance, and finally the baby swam toward it's mother and then they both kept going west. We probably saw over 50 dophins today less than 50 feet from shore. Maybe tomorrow and I can get a video or at least some pictures if we go kayaking again. Annsley was sweet - she said "That will probably be my favorite memory from the beach this year." Love her.

Well, I'll go now. Just wanted to write about today while I was thinking about it.
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