Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This time last year...

I can't believe it has been a year since Charlotte came into our lives. What a sweet, funny, spirited little thing she is!

The night before she was born I remember exactly how I felt. I was SO nervous about the entire ordeal. Neither H or myself had ever even changed a diaper, never given a kid a bath, never rocked a baby to sleep. All I could think about was the fact that she was on the inside (my insides!) and somehow, someway...she was gonna be on the outside the next day. I'm the kind of person that likes to be prepared. I like to know what to expect when going into a situation. But childbirth is something that is a different experience for every single woman who goes through it, so there was no way to prepare myself for what was about to happen the next day.

H drove me to the hospital on the morning of June 27, 2011, and I don't even think I said two words the whole way there. When I'm nervous or anxious or scared I get pretty quite. I learned pretty quickly that childbirth is much like getting a haircut--once it starts, you're officially ALL IN.

I can barely fathom the thought that H and I have been parents for a full year as of today. We've stumbled a couple of times, but for the most part I think we're doing pretty darn good. It's hard work, sometimes aggravating and frustrating and seemingly impossible. Did I mention exhausting? But it's also wonderful and sweet and fulfilling, all of the things people promised me it would be.

Even at only a year old, I can see the personality traits and temperament already coming through. She is stubborn and determined, yet sweet and lovable. She loves to "love" her pink bear--giving him a big hug with every request. She is inquisitive, independent, funny and lively. She enjoys eating fruit (especially watermelon) and green beans, and she enjoys giving her leftovers to the two mangy mutts that have learned to hang out underneath her high chair. Her bright blue eyes take in so much around her you can almost see the thought processes on her little face. Take her outside to do anything-even if it's just a walk-and she is in heaven. Her favorite toys are cell phones, remotes, her pink bear, books, and my makeup bag. And although it hasn't been here long, her new pink car is quickly moving to the top of the list!

I'm so thankful God trusted us with this little girl. I hope I can instill in her all the things she will need to be successful in life. In the past year, which might be the shortest year in history, she has brought so much joy into our lives. It is still amazing how Charlotte has completed our family when we didn't even realize we were missing something.

Happy Birthday Boopsy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Charlotte's 1st Birthday Party

We celebrated Sweet Charlotte's 1st Birthday on Saturday, and I still haven't quite recovered! We just had a little backyard, friends and family-type soiree. The weather was not ideal, unless you consider sweating out of your clothes "ideal". I do not. It was the kind of hot and muggy that might kill a lesser man. Thankfully us Southerners are used to air so thick you need to chew it before you can breath it in.

Here are pics of the party-in no particular order, of course! 

We did cupcakes for guests, but we had to have a special "Smash Cake" just for Charlotte. This was made by my friend Victoria, who owns a great little company called Chubbycakes. She does some really awesome stuff, and if you're in this area you should totally check her out! She's on Facebook if you would like to see some more of her work (or you could just take my word for it!).

Check out her new wheels! This was her gift from H and me, and it was money well spent! She LOVES it! We have already made many trips down the street and around the dining room table. And if we got a dollar for every time she climbed in and out of it, the Cozy Coupe would have already paid for itself!

This is the gift and favor table I set up. Once I realized the temp wasn't going to get below 115 degrees, I decided to leave the favors inside. The favors were little monogrammed sand buckets that contained a scoop, a sand sculpting starfish, ocean-themed stickers, and chocolate-dipped rice krispie treat. Nothing too fancy, but hopefully the little guests will enjoy some or all of it this summer!

This is Charlotte contemplating her smash cake. By this time she was completely exhausted from all the partying and a little confused about being the center of attention. She didn't get into it as much as I had hoped, but we're gonna give it another go.

This is part of the table. Don't worry, we didn't let the kids have much wine! Kidding, kidding! They all preferred the beer.

Here is the main table that held the food. Everyone was super impressed by the topiaries, but I can't take credit for them. One of my besties, Nicole Davis, made these a few years ago for her daughter's birthday party. The pink and green color scheme was perfect for Charlotte's party so she graciously let us borrow them. I painted the clay pots hot pink and voila--instant centerpieces!

And here is a shot of the backyard, just so you can get a better idea of the set up.

Honestly, it wasn't as perfect as I had hoped. It was SO FLIPPIN HOT, and it would sprinkle on and off. I think we ended up moving the food and the tables about 3 times before I finally made an executive decision and moved all of the food indoors. The kiddie pool and sprinkler helped cool things off for the kids, but the adults just suffered through. We eventually set up a homemade slip n'slide and the kids really enjoyed that! (And it has been requested that we make it a neighborhood adult slip n' slide pretty soon)

I love any reason to throw a party, but what better reason that Charlotte's first birthday!?! My parents always made my birthday such a big event, and I want her birthdays to always be that way, too. In my opinion, a birthday is the one day out of the year that is totally about YOU. Why not make it a special occasion? Whether it's the first one, the sixth one, or the twenty-ninth one--a birthday should always be your special day. I pray she celebrates each year knowing just how precious she is to us.

Happy 1st Birthday Charly-Bug!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Where We Eat (sometimes)

Today is another "Show Us Your Life" over at Kelly's Korner! Over the past few weeks she has been a tour of homes with a different room featured each week. This week is....Dining Rooms! Wah wah wah. Not the most exciting room in the house, or at least not at my house.

I've missed the past few weeks because I don't really have any updated pictures of my house. I wish I had that magic touch that some people are naturally born with. You know what I'm talking about--some people can take what I would consider a piece of junk and turn it into something ready for the center spread of next month's Southern Living.

I ain't that girl.

My problem (among other things) is that my taste always exceeds my budget. I will inevitably be drawn to the MOST expensive vase/bowl/rug/etc in the store, and then I will think "I bet I can recreate this look in a second!"  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Most of the time I have to call in reinforcements.

Her name is Holly and she is my mother-in-law/decorator/artist. She has that left-brain touch to turn the mundane into the FABULOUS!

This is my dining room and living room all decorated for Christmas. My dining room furniture was the first real furniture we bought once we got married. I was selling ads for the newspaper, and one of my clients was J & J Furniture. It's locally owned and operated and they have great prices and a great selection. I remember being SO proud that we finally had furniture that didn't previously belong to a relative.

And here is the table, all dressed up for our annual Joe Cain Brunch! Joe Cain Sunday is the Sunday before Fat Tuesday so it's right in the heart of Mardi Gras weekend. We host a brunch for friends and family before heading downtown to watch parades all day. Joe Cain Sunday is considered the "People's Parade" day. If you would like a little background on Joe Cain and how Mardi Gras got started in Mobile, AL (not New Orleans, folks!!!!) check out this story.

And here she is with no makeup. There have been a few changes since this photo was taken, but it's still pretty much the same.

Unlike a lot of people, we use our dining room table a good bit. It's got a good flow for parties and crowds, but it's also small enough for an intimate dinner. It has six chairs and we have the option to add the center leaf if we need a little more elbow room. Overall, I'd say we have been very happy with our purchase!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shop Local, Buy Local

I read a blog post today from one of my all-time favorite writers. She is a young female living in small-town Alabama and I think she is fabulous. Fabulous mom. Fabulous wife. Fabulous seamstress. I have a small girl crush on her. Her website is and you should check her out! Especially this post.

I will admit it--I am guilty of shopping at bix box stores more than I should. The convenient hours, online orders, good return policies, and low prices make it difficult to look elsewhere. But I try to buy from local mom-and-pop stores as much as I can (or my budget allows) because I realize just what these guys add to a community.

Growing up in a small town, I know first-hand what the benefits can be from buying local. The family-owned and operated IGA in Opp, AL employed my grandfather for God only knows how long. He was everything from the butcher to the bag boy, and his favorite thing about his job was that his boss let him take a late lunch so he could scoot home to watch Days of Our Lives.

My family used the same pharmacist for as long as I can remember. Greg Vaughn at T & C Pharmacy would stay late or open early to help out someone in need. Try getting CVS or RiteAid to do that. Mr. Sumblin at the gas station would even let me put my gas on credit so my dad could come pay the bill. And thank God Mrs. Stephanie at Body Conscious still lets me charge it to mom! There are countless other times I can remember a free bag of boiled peanuts at the bait shop or some other little private "thank you" that can only come from someone who considers you (or your family) more than a customer.

My mother-in-law is an artist. She makes all kinds of things from paintings to jewelry to gift tags. Her supplies are expensive, but her time and talent is worth even more. I see her struggle through long days at the gallery dealing with people who think their landscape canvas from Kirkland's truly is a showstopper.

And then they realize their best friend has the same one in her bedroom. And her sister-in-law has a smaller version in the hallway. It becomes not quite so cool when everyone on the block has the same decor.

As someone who sells advertising in a rough economy, I hear stories all the time from these local storeowners who are literally being driven out of business because Walmart or Hobby Lobby can beat their prices. It's sad because those big stores aren't the ones with kids in the local schools or sitting next to you in church on Sunday morning. They are also not making the advertising decisions, but there's no need for you to have to listen to my sob story. :)  Those CEOS are traveling on corporate jets and using an AmEx Black card. They could give two hoots and damn about whether or not 'lil Johnny sells enough popcorn to go to summer camp.

It's unrealistic to say never shop at Walmart again. Sometimes there's more month at the end of the money, and we ALL need to get a deal on some bacon. But shop local when you can, whether it's a produce stand or a father's day gift. Give a handmade, one-of-a-kind pretty that might turn into a family heirloom.

Of course I didn't tell my tale as well as E does, but her post really got me thinking. This is something that means a lot to me, and now I hope maybe it inspired you to drive on past Home Depot and try out your local hardware store.  I think if we all make a conscious decision to support local businesses as much as possible we could all benefit.  It means more than you think.