“Fill your children with good thoughts before they go to bed. Ask them about their favorite part of the day, praise them for a good deed, pray with them, and tell them they’re the best gift God ever gave you. They’ll fall asleep feeling ten feet tall.” –David Young, from “A Little Guide to a Big Life”
“Be gentle with your children. They’re doing the best that they can.”
“If we want our children to stay hungry for knowledge, remain interested in questioning, enjoy the wonder of discovery, then we must leave them some clutter-free hours for friendship, the great out-of-doors, the rich world of imagination and the satisfaction of the skilled use of art supplies, music, dance, wood and clay.” –Elaine Cooper
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” –Peggy O’Mara
On March 20th, 2016 my sweet girl turned one-year-old. We celebrated the day before with a great big pink and gold princess birthday party. It was such a fun and beautiful day. Our family and closest friends were with us to celebrate. We had great food, lots of love, and lots of fun. My baby girl is blessed to be surrounded by a family that loves her so very much.
I spent nine months planning her special day and her pink and gold princess party. I really wanted it to be a true celebration of her first year of her life–a celebration fit for my gorgeous Princess Marina Grace. I spent a lot of time searching for all of the perfect pieces for the day. From the venue, to the catering, to her outfit–every detail was carefully planned out with love and intention.
A few of my favorite details:
Each child’s place setting came with a special treat–a magic wand for the girls and a golden sword for the boys
Adults were greeted at their place settings by a piece of baby’s breath tucked into a handwritten name tag, placed on gorgeous handmade napkins from Dot & Army
The centerpieces were designed by me & assembled by Ringwood Florist. There were several different flowers in various shades of pink–including Geraldine roses, Eucalyptus, and wax flowers.
I didn’t like any of the vase options for the centerpieces. So I went with a square glass vase and then went to work on a little DIY project. I painted each vase with modge podge and then poured on gold sparkles. I’m obsessed with how they turned out
Marina’s high chair was an antique that I found on Craiglist. I had my dad spray paint it white
All of the catering was done by Kim’s Cafe & Catering. I designed cute little, tent cards for each food item to go with the princess theme, such as “Princess Pasta Salad” and “Beauty & the Beast Burgers”
All of the printed items were designed by me and printed by my friends at Printing Images
The day was captured by our absolutely incredible photography team–Stolen Glimpses. I can’t say enough good things about Leda & Jeff and their gorgeous work. Taking off my photographer hat for a day and allowing someone else to capture the special moments in my life is always a hard thing. Stolen Glimpses nailed it
The day was a dream come true. Everything came together and I couldn’t be more grateful for the love & generosity that surrounded my sweet girl. I hope that one day she will look back at the pictures and see how truly loved she was from the very start.
During my first pregnancy, I was getting my hair done for my maternity photographs. Next to me in the salon, there was an older woman. She asked what the occasion was and I told her. She scoffed, saying something along the lines of, “Oh you’re doing that now, but you won’t be doing anything the second time around.” She said it in a way that really devalued second pregnancies, and second babies even. It really upset me at the time. It still does, actually.
What I wish she would have said is that there will be a lot less time the second time around — it won’t mean that you love your second baby any less. It will be harder. You’ll be stretched thinner. The pain and the joy of motherhood will be multiplied by two. So you might not get maternity pictures taken the second time around. You might not get around to making detailed monthly updates the second time around. But your heart will swell & stretch to make room for two and the love that you feel for each of them will be wonderful, and equal, boundless beyond measure.
So, yes, Marina Grace is ten-months-old. The great big whopping milestone that happened this past month is that she started sleeping in her crib. Actually, she started sleeping in her crib on January 1st, 2016 — 19 days before she turned ten-months-old. For her first ten months (as we all know!) she wouldn’t sleep well anywhere except in my arms. And thus, there she slept — morning, noon, and night for ten months.
The change all came about because we thought that she had a cavity. When her first tooth came in, it was discolored. I immediately assumed that co-sleeping and nursing around the clock was to blame. In a panic, for fear that all of her teeth would soon be rotting out of her skull, I made the decision to sleep train her immediately.
We got a toddler bed for Roman and moved him in there. I emptied my office and we moved the crib in there, officially turning it into Marina’s room. I knew that sleep training her wasn’t going to be easy, after all, I would have done it sooner if it was. But I was resolute and I knew that because of her stubborn nature, my only option was to stick with it and be “ruthless.” As cruel as that sounds, she had slept in my arms all night, every night for ten months… so I’m not exactly a cruel mother. 😉
On a related topic, my breastfeeding moms support group stands against “crying it out” and has a strict ban on any discussion of the subject. That really pisses me off. It makes me (and every mother that allows their baby to cry for even a short period of time) sound like a super villain and I hate it. But that’s a subject for another day.
Anyway, in order to “save her teeth” I made the decision and I was determined to stick to it. Gratefully, the whole thing was much less traumatizing than I anticipated. She never cried for more than a half hour and I would frequently go in to soothe and comfort her. Eventually she got with the program and within a few days she was sleeping at night and napping on her own. There really aren’t even words to explain how much it changed my life. I had free hands & arms for an additional ~16 hours a day. It was, and is, glorious. She still wakes to nurse between one and four times each night, but that’s a small price to pay and I’m so grateful for how well it all worked out.
She seems to be getting much better sleep now that she is sleeping on her own. She has become such a calmer, more relaxed & happy baby. It’s truly amazing.
The interesting part of the whole story is that a week after we finished sleep training, I finally took her to the dentist. It turned out that she did not, in fact, have a cavity. Actually she has a rare type of bacteria in her plaque called chromogenic bacteria. Simply put, we all have bacteria in our saliva. Most of us have bacteria that turns our plaque yellow. Chromogenic bacteria, on the other hand, turns plaque brown.
So the dentist simply scraped the plaque off of Marina’s tooth (the same amount of plaque that everyone has) and her tooth was shiny and white. It’s not a serious condition and there’s no telling how long it will last, could be forever. I’m just happy that she doesn’t have a cavity. The other benefit of the whole thing was that it “forced” me to sleep train her, which I may not have done if it weren’t for my fear over the non-existent cavity.
Other than that, things are moving right along. She’s developing and growing just beautifully. She crawls at lightning speeds. She pulls herself up to standing. She picks up little bits of food and feeds herself. She says “Mama” and “Papa.” She dances to music. She claps when we cheer. She wants to play with everything that her brother plays with. She’s a great eater. She loves to be held by her Mama and when I’m around, it’s pretty much all she wants. However, when I’m not around she’s gotten very independent and plays on her own nicely.
And on and on and on it goes. She’ll be a year old in a little less than two months and it’s really quite extraordinary. I find myself cherishing her growth and the easiness of life now that she’s gotten past her “colic” and is sleeping on her own. At the same time, I am often overcome by grief when I realize just how big she has gotten and that her babyhood is rapidly slipping away like sand through my fingers.
Mostly she is beautiful and sweet and smart and funny and I am so very grateful that she is mine.
I took this set of photographs for her birthday party invitations. Her “Princess Party” will be here before I know it. Ahhhhh!
Two years and eight months… sweet as ever. Brilliant, strong, patient, loving, funny, handsome. God blessed me when he made me your Mama, Roman James. You have so much potential and I pray that I am doing things right. You deserve the sun and the moon and the stars, my sweet boy. Thank you for being the sunshine in my days. Thank you for being the reason that I smile. Thank you for being mine. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.
I slept on the couch, with Roman in my arms, for his first three months of life. I always felt a pang of embarrassment when I explained that to people. Sharing it made me insecure. I failed at getting him to sleep on his own, so I had to sleep on the couch… with him in my arms… for three. whole. months. I always said it like it was this great big crazy deal. I figured people wouldn’t be as shocked if I made it clear upfront that I knew it was crazy.
Now, I look back and laugh. Marina is eight-a-half-months-old. Last night, and every night since her birth, I slept on the couch, with her in my arms. Eight months and counting, folks.
The difference is that now I don’t talk about it with shame or shock. It is what it is. Marina is what she is and I’m a different woman now than I was before she was born. Roman was my sweet, easy, mellow entry into motherhood. Marina was my rough & tumble, wild, challenging second lap around the course.
For seven months, she cried for eight hours a day or more. Every single day. I’m not sure what else to say about it. Honestly, I think that I have slight PTSD from the experience. That’s not a joke.
But it’s over now. I mean, she’s still one of the most high needs eight-month-olds you’ll ever meet, but the daily doses of eight+ hours of screaming are behind us. The days of barely holding onto my sanity, the days of crying myself to sleep, the days of desperately praying to God to make it stop. They’re all behind us. I’m so grateful.
She’s turned into such a funny little doll these days. Yes, still high-needs, but worlds away from her infant days. It’s amazing. I’m so damned in love with my baby girl. I’m a little sad that her infanthood had to be such a shit show, but that’s life and it truly makes the sweetness of the present all the sweeter.
We took these photographs awhile back now. I’m crazy behind on life and it will be that way for a long time, I imagine. In fact, that may just be my new normal. The days of neat, organized monthly updates (like I did through Roman’s first year) are long gone. Today life is crazy and it’s a lot more about surviving than it is about “neat, organized” anything.
But… I love it. I really do. The thing is that I know how quickly it goes now. Roman turned into a little boy right before my eyes. Sometimes I look at his baby pictures and I’m just like, “Shit. Wait. Wasn’t that, like, yesterday?”
I know just how quickly he went from the sweet baby in my arms to the big boy that I can barely hold. I also know that he will just as quickly go from preschool to high school to college.
I guess what I’m getting to is that nights on the couch with Marina are hard. But I’m not rushing them. Roman used to love to sleep with me and today, I couldn’t get him to sleep with me if I tried. (Who am I kidding? I have tried!) So it’s alright, Marina Grace. It’s alright if you’ll only sleep on the couch, in my arms, for awhile longer. And it’s alright if you still scream like heck most of the time because you want my constant attention, too.
I know that these days are numbered. I know that they’re some of the most trying of my life, but I love them all the same. You’re the baby girl that I spent a lifetime dreaming of. Stay little. Stay needy. I’m not wishing these days away, my sweet love.
Thank you to my friend, Erin, for snapping these photographs of me & my girl. xo