Imagine we’re sitting in a cozy, sunlight living room. Comfortably tucked into oversized hug-your-body chairs. Snuggled up to fashionably fuzzy pillows. A stylish coffee table between us. Two jumbo mugs of steaming coffee within arm’s reach.
If we were sipping coffee together I’d tell you . . .
How incredibly long and surreal this week has felt . After another uncomplicated (and otherwise medically unremarkable) pregnancy thus far, my husband and I found out that I’m showing early signs of delivering prematurely again. Oh, the mixed emotions! . . . On one hand, I wasn’t a bit surprised when the NP told us. Being that our first little guy spontaneously arrive 6 weeks early, the possibility of having a second early arrival feels absurdly normal. At the same time, my body’s ability to make such a drastic change, seemingly overnight, caught me off guard. There have been zero red flags up until now. Add to that, the weekly injections I take with the specific purpose of preventing preterm labor . . . My mind has gone through a kaleidoscope-like shift over the past six days, moving from unfazed acceptance to nervous anticipation, finally settling into an unshakable peace.
I’d let you in on my word of the week. Grateful.
Grateful for early detection.
Grateful for modern medicine and fetal monitoring.
Grateful for the steroid shots that will help develop my little man’s lungs and prepare him for life outside my body, in the event he does arrive sooner than 37 weeks.
Grateful to have made it to 34 weeks and 6 days.Three days further along that I was when Little J was born. Three days more pregnant than I’ve ever been!
Grateful even for bedrest . . . Because while bedrest is an absolute punishment for someone like me—Read: someone always in motion, who rarely sits, and who thrives on movement and fitness to keep the blues at bay—the alternative is most certainly brining another NICU baby into this world. And while he still may arrive early, despite all precautions, warning is my golden ticket of a difference with baby Luke. If there is anything I can possibly do that boosts his chances of staying put, you better believe I will do it to a big, fat capital T. Every second he bakes allows him the opportunity to grow stronger. And for that I am grateful.
If we were sipping coffee together right now, you’d see the unwavering smile on my face. I am at peace. At peace with waiting. At peace with not knowing. And at peace with simply sitting (literally).
What have you been up to since our last coffee chat?
I have to catch my breath a little every time the thought comes to mind. I cannot believe it’s been two years since Jameson came into our lives and forever rocked our world for the absolute best.
As with any celebration, the festivities were tailored specifically to the birthday boy’s current passion . . . fire trucks!! He loves just about anything with wheels (tractors, trucks, cars, garbage trucks, etc…), but fire trucks hold a pretty special place in his little heart right now.
Our party scene was complete with a fire truck garland, colorful streamers, a flaming cupcake tower, a firehouse/town backdrop, and fire chief party hats!
I really tried to channel toddler life when choosing snacks. Simple. Quick. Finger friendly . . . I chose fruit kabobs, veggies and hummus in a cup, lifesaver gummies (the ‘lifesaver’ part seemed fitting), and fire hoses (red vines) . . . And of course cupcakes for dessert!!
I had so much fun planning and crafting for his party. Toddler parties may just be my new calling. Okay, not really, but I did have a ton of fun.
Here’s what I DIY’d . . .
A Flaming Cupcake Tower My cupcake tower is this simple Wilton 4-tier dessert tower that I bought on Amazon for Jameson’s 1st birthday. The flames were my way of heating things up (pun totally intended) and adding red-hot flair. It took me roughly two nights of crafting while watching shows with the hubs, and one nap time crafting session. Really, it was the cutting out that took time more than anything. I’m all for letting my inner artist shine (imperfections and all), so I drew the flames freehand, cut them out, and glued them in layers (yellow on orange and orange on red) to get that realistic flame look. I then taped them to the cupcakes tower.
Supplies: – Construction paper (red, orange, yellow) – Pencil – Scissors – Tape
Dutch Chocolate Cupcakes I phoned in Martha’s help and used this dutch chocolate cupcake recipe . . . OH MY CHOCOLATE HEAVENS . . . Please do yourself a favor and whip up a batch right this very moment!! They don’t even need frosting. These cupcakes are rich, decadent, moist, airy, light, and pure chocolate bliss . . . Note: I altered the recipe because the birthday boy is dairy intolerant. I substituted butter with coconut oil (1:1 ratio) and made my own ‘buttermilk’ using unsweetened plain almond milk and apple cider vinegar. My husband, who’s the owner of very discriminating tastebuds and isn’t one to hold his opinions, could not believe they were dairy free. The man who generally turns his nose up to dairy-free and vegan bakes inhaled a fraction of my test batch sans frosting.
Flaming Frosting Just for fun, I took my best crack at making tri-colored frosting using this tutorial. My frosting bullets turned out beautifully, but I think I gave the bag a little too much muscle when I began piping because all three bullet bags burst . . . I ended up scrapping the idea altogether (I didn’t have the energy to repeat the entire process). Instead, I spooned the frosting from each bullet bag into a new piping bag and went to work. I did nothing to prevent the colors from blending in the new piping bag, and found the effect, an ombre swirl, even more awesome than my original tri-colored vision. My piping skills need work (like a lot), but I was pretty darn pleased with the result.
It’s really tough to beat real buttercream frosting, so I made two different frosting batches. A dairy free version for little man, and the full-cow version for everyone else. I used this Serious Eats American buttercream frosting recipe. If the cloying sweetness of American buttercream is a turn-off to your tastebuds, I highly recommend this recipe, as it uses a different butter-to-sugar ratio than tradition buttercream recipes . . . Yielding a much more balanced flavor that’s simply lick-the-bowl delicious.
My dairy-free frosting wasn’t memorable, and needs tweaking, so we’ll just leave it at that . . . Plus I found out that like his mom, mini man is more of a cake guy than a frosting guy.
Chalkboard Birthday Sign My original plan was to make a pennant banner, but spotted this long-forgotten chalkboard in my garage. When pregnant with Jameson, I used it to track his weekly growth and my pregnancy milestones. It felt fitting to use it for this milestone event. Plus, I still had chalkboard markers, making it a no-cost craft. The best kind!
Supplies: – Chalkboard – Chalkboard marker – Ruler & pencil (to sketch out a rough draft if you’re particular like me) – Q-Tips & rubbing alcohol
Fire Truck Garland The fire truck garland is something I saw on Etsy and decided to make for myself to save money. It was time consuming, but actually very simple. All it took was a few clicks for craft supplies on Amazon and time. Lots of time. I used one sheet of felt to sketch my templates (firetruck body, windows, ladder, wheels, siren) out in back Sharpie. I then cut them out and used each template to create all the parts needed for 12 fire trucks. I chose 12 because that’s the number I needed to fill the space where I hung the finished garland. Everything is held together with basic fabric glue.
Supplies: – Felt sheets (red, yellow, white, black, grey, and white) – Black Sharpie marker – Fabric glue – Black paracord (for the coiled hoses) – Twine (what the fire trucks hang from) – Sharp crafting scissors
Firehouse/Town Backdrop Lastly, the town backdrop. I was inspired by a similar themed party I saw on Pinterest. Again, it seemed pointless to pay for a backdrop if I could make one. We still had quite a few cardboard boxes in the garage from our recent move, so that’s what I used as backing. I freehand drew the building silhouettes and cut them out. I recommend not sacrificing your nice crafting scissors on cutting cardboard, as it will dull them. I then used the silhouette I’d created to trace buildings onto different colored construction paper. I cut each building out and glued it onto the cardboard backing. Lastly, I used my son’s Crayola markers to decorate the buildings and give each a distinct personality. This craft was also time consuming, but you could easily save time by using all-black construction paper and creating a nighttime skyline silhouette. I know not everyone is as nutty as me!
Supplies: – Cardboard box in good condition (I used a medium-sized UHaul box) – Black Sharpie or pencil – Scissors – Construction paper (red, black, yellow, brown, white, green) – Elmer’s glue – Pack of markers
I wanted to capture pics on my DSLR camera, but the thought escaped me in the moment, so iPhone pics it is!
More important than pretty pictures were the memories we made. It was truly such a fun day! Little man had a blast playing with his cousins, opening gifts, and eating snacks. I couldn’t have ask for more.
Have you celebrated any fun birthdays lately? How about my crafters out there? What’s your favorite thing or event to craft for?
February may be long gone, but the memories made during the month are still fresh in my mind.
My husband and I have always kept things pretty low-key for Valentine’s Day. No extravagant gifts or fancy dinners for us. When it was just us, we used to go out for coffee and then on a ‘love day hike.’ Last year, our mini man was 11 months and still not the most willing hiking buddy, so we went out for a simple family coffee date. 2019 was the year of the love note and baked goods. I’m thinking it may just have to become our new tradition . . .
Our love note craft was very spur of the moment and a week or so early. We just so happened to pass an endcap with seasonal stickers while grocery shopping. I thought, toddler + stickers = 5 minutes of delight. There is nothing quite like the joy that a sheet of paper and $2 worth of stickers brings to a toddler’s day. Happy boy makes a happy momma! Not to mention bonus points for making Dad’s day when he came home to an artfully decorated love note.
Valentine’s Day fell on my husband’s Monday this year. Knowing we wouldn’t be able to go out for coffee, little man and I got up and baked homemade pop tarts (aka hand pies) that we sent my husband off to work with (along with a mug full of coffee, of course).
Little J loves watching me in the kitchen, and asks more and more to help out with whatever I’m doing. I simply can’t get enough of that little smile and his endless curiosity. All it took is one little twinkle of his eyes as he said, “Momma! Rrrroooll it!” Of course I couldn’t deny him the opportunity to help out. He had a blast learning to use the rolling pin!
Dad got treats to begin his work day, and you can bet Little J and I had our fair share of home-baked pastry goodness to start our Love Day off right!
When I was pregnant with my first, I remember wondering what meeting him for the first time would be like. The anticipation. A mix of nervous excitement.
Would I feel like I already knew him? Would he know me? Would we feel like strangers?
The reality is what I imagine meeting someone you met online for the first time in person is like. Someone who speaks a different language. Someone you’ve communicated with for months using only chat, and relying heavily on Google translate to craft your responses. Meeting sans translator. Neither of you even remotely fluent in the other’s native tongue.
This is closer to what it really felt like after bringing him home.
Ours isn’t the typical story because he spent nearly his first month in the NICU. Read my birth story and Surviving the NICU posts for the full story. Like other mommas to be, my body was my translator during pregnancy. I didn’t have to think about what my baby needed. My body just knew what to do. After birth, his NICU doctors and nurses became my translators. Relying on them to relay his every need became my norm. As excited as I was when his NICU graduation day came, the idea of being home without my translating team felt so incredibly intimidating.
How would I know what to do?
His nurses were all so sweet, reassuring all would be well and I’d just know what to do. I’d know a hunger cry from a tired cry from a soiled diaper cry . . . Again, the reality being far from this.
Yes, I did learn to differentiate his array of cries. And the bond we’ve created is like no other . . . The key, however, being I learned.
We knew each other, but only to an extent. He knew my voice. The way he kicked just one leg reminded me of the little tap, tap, taps I felt against my ribcage during pregnancy. But we still had to get to know each other. And that took a mutual patience and trust. Patience in trusting my instincts and not second guessing my every thought and action. His patience in learning to trust that I would always be there for him.
Now pregnant with baby number two, I find myself wondering about baby’s personality. Will baby be patient? Insatiable? Quiet? Vocal? How will this first meeting compare to when I met my first? Will I just know more so this time time around, or will it be like meeting a familiar stranger once more? My expectation is that our meeting will be a lot like with my first . . . But I’m not putting too much on expectations this time.
I will just wait and see.
What was your first meeting like? Or are you currently pregnant and anticipating your first meet?