Monday, March 10, 2014

Juliet: 2 years

Juliet 2nd birthdayMy baby is 2. She's been 2 since February 16th but even after a few weeks I still can't believe it. I took these photos on her birthday, in her party dress. It required the bribe of a lollipop which despite how much I strive to feed her healthy foods, she still loves candy a lot. I mean, she's a kid so I get it.

Juliet's daycare celebrated her birthday on Valentine's Day. Her daycare provider asked all the children to go around in a circle and say what their favorite thing is about Juliet. One of the little boys said "she really loves candy". Oh boy.

This is my last monthly update. I am so happy to have the first 24 months of her life so well-documented. From here I'll probably do an update at age 2 1/2 and 3. I don't want to think about it but I know it will be here before I know it.

There really haven't been any big milestones since last month. The biggest change is mostly that she is just such a major talker. Every day I feel like she says a new sentence or phrase and I'll look at Erik incredulously and ask him "where did she hear that? Where did she learn that?".

Potty training is touch and go. We went through a major regression in the past month and just accepted it and didn't push her. The past week has been better. Juliet understands the basics and in my opinion could be fully potty trained if she made the decision. She just hasn't decided she wants to do it 100% yet. So we wait. At her 2 year dr. appointment her pediatrician told us that 50% kids age 3 are potty trained. I've never felt any pressure to get her potty trained but that was an interesting stat.

2 years is awesome. Juliet is such a wonderful little person. She has made me so happy and full in the past 2 years, more than I ever could have imagined. I just adore her more than anything in this world.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Juliet's "dreamy clouds" 2nd birthday party inspiration

Juliet's dreamy clouds 2nd birthday partyI really shouldn't be blogging right now and prepping for Juliet's party instead but I'm tired and have already worked on a few projects this evening (for a peek at those projects check out my Instagram). Juliet went to bed early because she isn't feeling the best. I really really really hope she is feeling better by Saturday. Last year she got strep throat a couple days before her party and while she was no longer contagious she was a bit out of sorts on her birthday.

I am so excited about her party on Saturday and so is Juliet. She has mastered singing happy birthday and she knows her birthday is February 16th. She tries hard but can't quite figure out how to hold up two fingers yet. Maybe by the weekend.

I can't really explain my creative process and how I came up with the theme "dreamy clouds" but I think it had to do with the fact that Juliet loves these two lamb stuffed animals that she calls her "yammies". I pondered doing a lamb-theme but that didn't feel right and then I started thinking about an all white cloud theme playing off lamb's fluffy wool. When I thought all white I thought that sounded really dreamy and loved that idea. I added in some sparkly gold and there you go, "dreamy clouds".

My party philosophy is all about celebrating the guest of honor with lots of pretty details, great food and personal touches wherever possible. It's really not my style to spend a ton of money on the parties I host so I always do a lot of DIY projects and try to find deals wherever possible. Juliet's party dress was $16 and from Old Navy and it is absolutely perfect. I'm using baby's breath because it's so airy, light and pretty and also it's super affordable. I am planning on making Juliet a little baby's breath headband to wear but my gut is saying she won't keep it on so maybe I won't bother.

I'll have a few activities for the kiddos (there will be about 9 kids between the ages of 10 weeks and 5 years) like coloring, glueing cotton balls to make little clouds on paper and most importantly, a dance party. Juliet loves to listen to her favorite song (Move It Move It) and dance like crazy. It's one of my favorite things to watch her do.

I'm also really excited for the kiddos party favors. A couple of my favorite kid's product companies are providing product for the favors and we'll have a 4-pack of Little Green Pouches and puzzles from HABA toys as well as a few things I'll be adding.

As far as food we are serving appetizers, snacks and dessert. The party is 3pm-5pm so we don't need to do a full dinner which is nice because appetizers are my favorite anyway. And it'll be easier with the kiddos to just serve snacks. We'll have a blend of healthy and not so healthy snacks (from fruit to animal crackers to smoothies in Little Green Pouches and mac n cheese bites).

Dessert is going to be a white and gold candy table (candy is being provided from Sweet Works, they have gold Sixlets! So awesome) and I am making cloud sugar cookies with royal icing, plus we'll have a cake and cupcakes. I should probably apologize in advance for the sugar rush the kids will have.

I am working with Shannon from Grace and Guy Paperie on Etsy for all the paper items. She designed incredibly perfect invitations and is making placecards and signs (including signs with my favorite dream quotes to display around the party). If you are in need of paper goods for an upcoming party I suggest checking her out. She does really nice work and is super responsive and reasonably priced.

Here is my Pinterest board for the party if you're interested in seeing more. And be sure to follow me on Instagram as I'll definitely be posting a few photos the day of the party.

My baby girl is almost 2. The past 2 years have honestly been like a really good dream, so this theme is very fitting. I couldn't possibly love her more. 

Photo credits/links:

Cloud cake 
Cloud cookies 
Chiffon-rosette tulle dress
Baby's breath headband 
Follow Your Dreams print
Powered sugar donut tower

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Juliet: 23 months

Juliet 23 monthsThis is what happens when I tell Juliet to say "cheese"

I needed to get Juliet’s 23rd month update up because she turns 2 in less than 2 weeks! Pinch me. I can’t believe she is almost 2! This second year has gone by twice as fast as the first.

I am busily planning and prepping for Juliet’s 2nd birthday party that is coming up on February 15 (her birthday is the next day). I am in love with the theme and can’t wait to get a post up with all the inspiration going into her party. Mostly though, Juliet is the inspiration. She brings joy into every moment of my life and each month she gets older I think to myself “wow, it just keeps getting better!”. Maybe that won’t be the case in her teen years but for now I am cherishing each sweet second.

While there were a few milestones this month, there was one monumental one.

Juliet weaned. 

You may have already heard me talk about it on Instagram last week and yes, Juliet is officially done breastfeeding. Wow do I have so many emotions around this. Mostly, I am sad. I can’t believe this chapter is closed for us and it really signifies that while Juliet will always be my baby, she is no longer a baby. She really hasn’t been for months but that breastfeeding bond kept her close in my arms, her sweet head nestled right next to my heart. Don’t get me wrong, we still have awesome cuddle time, she still reaches her hands up and says “momma hold you” when she wants to be held and I still lay next to her every night while she falls asleep. But I do miss breastfeeding her. 

I always thought we would wean around the time Juliet turned 2, but I had no real timeline. I hoped that Juliet would self-wean and that’s pretty much what happened. Traveling to Mexico for 4 nights definitely contributed. When Erik and I returned, Juliet did want to breastfeed but shortly after we got back she started losing interest and stopped asking completely.

At this point it's been almost two weeks since she last breastfed. We did have a last session a couple weekends ago where I just knew it was our last. I held her extra close and kissed her cheek and twirled her hair between my fingers and stared down at her eyelashes while she nursed and fell asleep. And I cried. 

But as much as I'm sad I'm really happy, too. Happy that we went for almost 2 years. Happy that we overcame a really tough first few weeks of trying to successfully breastfeed with a terrible latch. Happy that Juliet and I shared that amazing breastfeeding experience together.

I want to write so much more about our breastfeeding experience but I don't have the energy right now. I'd love to dedicate an entire post on it (I've gotten a lot of emails and questions) and may do that in the near future. Let me know if that would be of interest. I'd also just love to have that documented for her to see when she's a momma herself. 

Besides that big milestone Juliet has been talking more and more. She's been saying:

"Momma lay down"
"Dada come play with me"
"Dada who is it?" (when the phone rings)
"Come on kitty"
"It's icy"
"It's not cold outside"
"Mama has pimple" (I really love this one. Uh)
"I don't want it"
"Have a tea party"

Besides being my little talker Juliet is becoming quite independent. She insists on walking to the car during daycare pick-up, and doing tasks herself like buckling herself into her high chair and peeling her own banana. 

Juliet loves to sing and she knows all the words for a bunch of songs (Where is Thumbkin, Twinkle Twinkle, Ba Ba Blacksheep, etc)

Happy 23 months my beautiful darling girl. I can't wait to celebrate you turning 2!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Juliet: 21 and 22 months

Banana chocolate chip donutsI am so, so behind on Juliet's monthly updates so I am combining her 21 and 22 months updates. My baby turns 2 in a little over a month so I may skip the 23 month update. After her 2 year post I will officially be done with her monthly updates.

These updates are such a nice way to document Juliet's milestones. Writing in a baby book just didn't happen after a few months and this blog has so many beautiful memories of her first couple years. I'm so glad I did them, even if they are not reader favorites.

Because I'm so behind, I know I'll probably miss some of the adorable things Juliet has been doing lately but here goes:

I'll start with a potty-training update. Did you hate me in my last update when I was all "we are potty-training already and Juliet has been doing wonderfully?!" Well I knew it was way too good to be true that weekend and I knew that it was really early to be actually potty training her. But she seemed ready and more than one person agreed with me. We've been taking it very slowly and sort of a toddler-led approach. We just follow her lead and don't push it. Some days/weeks even go very well where she tells us she has to go all day long and she goes and we hardly have a dirty diaper. But then there are days where she doesn't want anything to do with the potty so it's diapers all day. I think we'll continue letting Juliet lead on this and maybe get more serious about potty training when she's over 2. I'm proud of her and what's she's doing so far and we'll see what happens.

Next up is breastfeeding. Yes we are still breastfeeding, mostly just at night and once in a while before naps on the weekends. She really doesn't get much milk but she does it to be close to me and it's great for snuggling and keeping warm in these cold winter months. I guess I always figured we'd go until about 2. I still think that is the (very loose) plan. There are days we'll go without her asking and I don't offer. I always wonder on those days if she is weaning herself but then another day will roll around where she'll ask for milk ("I want milk"). So it's pretty unpredictable at this point. All I know is that we both still enjoy it but I think I would be ok with being done soon as well.

Talking, we have so much talking over here. We have full conversations with real sentences and it's crazy. Here are all the things Juliet has been saying lately:

What a you doing?
Momma, guess what?
Momma, watch this!
Momma/dadda hold you
Dada's new phone
Come here kitty
I take a nap
Kitty eat food
Kitty get down
No kitty no
I go night night
I eat
I hungry
I go potty
I love you
Hello grandma
Sit down momma
Have a tea party?
I watch cartoons (um...unfortunately yes she says this)
Take mittens/hat off
Momma go away (yes heartbreaking, but she does say this from time to time and I just try to ignore it)
Daddy cleaning (not mommy, haha)

Juliet can count up to 39ish (with a little help with a number or two in there). But she is very good with her numbers. Maybe she is taking after her grandpa who is brilliant in math. I hope she doesn't get my math skills, that's for sure.

She knows the alphabet and can identify all the letters. We have this great alphabet mat in the playroom and she loves playing the "show us the letter _" game.

Juliet's loves to dance and her favorite song is "I Like to Move It" from the movie Madagascar. She has this adorable little elbow jab move that she does and she mostly just bounces up and down.

This isn't a milestone I'm proud of but Juliet can sit and watch a whole episode of TV now, with total concentration. She doesn't get a lot of screen time but we will turn on the Baby First Network for her when we need to get something done (like cook or clean, etc) and she doesn't want to play independently in her playroom. She also LOVES watching videos on YouTube, anything from Simple Songs to Elmo to Peppa the Pig.

Her favorite foods are green beans, edamame, chocolate chips, spaghetti, eggs, oranges, smoothies, plain yogurt with honey, applesauce pouches and animal crackers. She continues to be a great eater but there are some days she eats very little. I try not to worry because she usually makes up for it.

She is learning how to play catch with her big ball and it's becoming one of her favorite activities with daddy.

Juliet enjoys picking out her own clothes in the morning (though she always wants to wear the same shirt, an owl shirt). She also asks for headbands and gets very excited when I let her pick one to wear.

She loves playing with this wooden play make-up set she received from grandma for Christmas. Juliet sits on the counter in the bathroom while I get ready in the mornings. She always plays with my make-up and while I don't want to encourage wearing make-up around her, it's reality that she sees me getting ready for work every morning. So this fake set is perfect because it's made with non-toxic paints and has cute little soft brushes. She loves brushing them on my cheeks and pretending.

The past couple months have been just awesome with Juliet. We have a lot of fun together playing, reading, cuddling. I just love her so much. I can't believe she's almost 2!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Juliet: 19 months

I am so behind on Juliet's monthly updates! I realized today that I better post her 19 month photo because she turns 20 months on Wednesday. Whoa. I really want to do these updates until she turns 2. It won't be long, which is unreal!

Snapping these photos was difficult. Like all toddlers, Juliet is so curious, she slid off the chair and came over to me to check out each photo as I took it. Then she would giggle and climb back up on the chair for a couple more tries. When I say "cheese Juliet!" she'll give a totally awkward smile and yell "cheeeeeese!!!!".

Most of Juliet's milestones as of late have been around her language and speaking skills. She regularly puts multiple words together and I think it won't be too long before she's using fuller sentences. Erik thinks its funny to teach her things to say like "no way momma". She'll also say things like "momma come" or "no momma do". Ok, not perfect grammar but she'll get there! Sometimes she'll say certain words (the other day we were doing numbers and she pointed to seven and said "seven") and I can't believe how her cute her little voice sounds saying those words for the first time.

Her balance has gotten much better in the past month and now she runs, or at least walks really fast. She still stumbles now and then but overall she pretty sturdy.

Juliet has gotten a few more teeth and the last round that came in did bother her a bit. We made sure to lay low those days and give her lots of extra cuddles and encouraged more sleep.

Juliet gets more affectionate each day. She loves to hug and get kisses. She doesn't give kisses but rather leans her head in anytime you say "kissie?".

She is getting to the age where she is interacting and playing more with other children. It's awesome to see Juliet and her cousin Chloe playing together.

Bedtimes are still a struggle and we are still laying down with Juliet in our bed until she falls asleep and then we transfer her to the crib. She sleeps through the night most nights but we really need to get to the point where we can lay her down in her crib to fall asleep. Every once in a while my brother and his fiance Katie will babysit at night and she'll go down to sleep just fine for them in her crib. Interesting.

Just like everyone says, each month just gets better and better. Juliet is a sweet, even-tempered little gal and it's hard not to be happy being around her. When I have a difficult day at work, I'll open a photo of her and feel instantly better.

Momma loves you so much, Juliet.

And something cool that I've realized lately? I can really tell how much she loves me too.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Juliet: 18 months

I am so behind on this month's update. Juliet turned 18 months on August 16th and will be turning 19 months on Monday already. I took these cutie cute cute photos of her a couple weeks ago but never got around to writing the post.

I also haven't been good writing down her milestones but I'm going to do my best to remember. Here goes:

The mom phase continues. Oh man she clings to me all. the. time. When I get home from work Erik says she goes from being happy to whiny instantly and runs to me and wants to be held the rest of the evening. It's frustrating to Erik but I just try to give Juliet what she needs and if that means she needs me then that's what she gets. I know it's just a phase.

We have started a habit that's probably not great, for the past month Juliet has been falling asleep in our bed. Bedtime just got to be too hard. It was taking at least an hour of struggling to get her to go to bed in her crib. I was getting exhausted from it and started bringing her in bed with me and she would fall asleep instantly. It was easier so we started doing that. Erik and I take turns falling asleep with her and then we transfer her into her crib. She then sleeps through the night. We know this may be a tough habit to break but for now it's what works for us.

Juliet has gotten lots more teeth but I've stopped counting. She's gotten her lower molars and her upper molars among others. Teething doesn't seem to bother her much and I'm very thankful for that.

She's continues to be a talkative little girl. She especially likes to say nominemore and momma among a lot of other words and phrases but those seem to be her favorite.

Probably the biggest milestone is that she understands pretty much everything. I noticed that she was understanding a lot a couple months ago but just recently did I realize that she knows what I'm saying all the time. Erik and I know we have to be more careful than ever with what we say and how we say it, little ears are listening and taking everything in.

Juliet definitely has strong opinions and she knows what she likes, wants and doesn't like and doesn't want. She will shake her head and say "no, no, no, no" when we offer her a book she most definitely doesn't want to read or give her a toy she doesn't want to play with. I love her blossoming little personality.

Juliet has learned to say "cheese!" when I take a picture with her. It's the sweetest little cheese face I've ever seen and I adore it.

We are still breastfeeding and it's been going well. I don't talk about it much and I haven't mentioned it lately in her monthly posts because it's just such a natural part of our everyday lives that I hardly think about it. I don't have any set timelines for weaning but I have noticed lately that she asks to nurse less. Juliet used to always nurse in the morning and night but a lot of mornings she doesn't ask so I don't offer. So perhaps this is the beginning of weaning but I know weaning can take months and months. So we'll see how it goes.

Going out to eat with Juliet is sort of a disaster and yet we keep doing it. This evening we went out for Indian food and she actually sort of gagged when I gave her some of my Chana Masala. While Juliet is a great eater and tries most things, she definitely is not the most adventurous eater around. She did enjoy the naan but that's about it (I always pack her fruit, veggies, cheese, etc when we go out). When she started yelling we figured it was time to hit the road.

Despite the typical toddler challenges Juliet is total joy. I love spending time with her and we have so much fun together. I can't believe how fast this past 18 months has gone with my little girl.

Happy 18 months Juliet, I love you like crazy my sweet girl.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Juliet: 17 months

My little sweetie turned 17 months last week. We've had a wonderful weekend...after a crazy week at work, I needed time with my girlie, time with Erik, time with a big glass of wine. I got to do all the above.

Erik and I had a date night Saturday. We joked that it was "Lang date night 2013" because we don't take enough time to go on dates just the two of us, so it feels like it ends up being an annual thing. Juliet had an overnight with grandma and grandpa and Erik and I went out for drinks, went to a Twins game and went to a movie. We packed it in and had a great time.

Juliet had a few major milestones this month:

First, this is the month she turned into a full-on walking toddler. No more walking sometimes and sometimes crawling. Only walking now. And she's gotten pretty darn good at it. Her balance is great and she only stumbles a little. Granted she still walks like a little drunk baby, and part of me wishes she will always walk this way. It's the cutest little walk and I just love it so much.

Juliet's communication skills have exploded. She began understanding a lot this month. And it all seemed to happen overnight. One day we were playing in her playroom and I said "bring momma a book and I'll read to you" and she walked over to her book pile, chose one and brought it back to me. Since then I realized she understands so much and we can communicate so well now.

Juliet learned animal sounds this month. She knows what all the following animals say: cow, kitty, puppy, wolf, piggy, sheep, horse, monkey, snake and probably a few others I'm forgetting.

Juliet sings, dances and does the actions for itsy bitsy spider. She loves music, loves flailing her arms crazily around while giggling adorably. She loves to say "row row row" and then I sing the song for her.

She talks so much. All the time she is babbling and speaking, often times very clearly. She can easily repeat after us. Erik will say, "Juliet, say hi grandpa" and she'll reply "hi ba ba" (that's what she says for grandpa) and "hi kitty" and she will happily squeal "hi keeee teeeee".  We can go on and on. Just today I asked her to "say please, Juliet" and she replied "peeeeez". And of course she has just the sweetest little voice.

Juliet knows where her eyes, nose, ears, toes and fingers are. And her favorite thing of all time? Her belly button. She is obsessed.

This age is so much fun. It's also exhausting! I know, I know...I only have one child. But this is all I know and to me, chasing a toddler around is tiring! But it's exciting and fun and seeing the world through her eyes is magical.

Happy 17 months, sweet girl. I couldn't possibly love you more.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

{Photo taken on my iPhone 5 and edited through VSCO cam app. You can follow me on Instagram @eatdrinkpretty. Are you on Instagram? Comment with your profile name and I'll follow you.}

I am so, so ready for the long weekend. I'm off work at noon today and it can't come soon enough. Erik and I will be spending the weekend in North Dakota at his mom's cabin. Pontoon rides, grilling and eating too much food (no doubt) and chasing my sweet toddler around the lawn.

If you're looking for festive recipes check out this post from a couple years ago.  For an easy appetizer check out these mini BLTs and for a red, white and blue dessert try these berry pudding trifles.

My little girl is a walking machine the past few days! It's so fun to follow her around the yard while she explores. She's still a little unstable but is mostly walking as her main mode of transportation now. Sometimes she'll reach her hand out for mine to get better balance, I just love that.

Wish us luck as we get ready for a 6 hour road trip with a toddler! Any tips?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Juliet: 16 months

Juliet turned 16 months over a week ago. Things have been busy and even though it was close to her bedtime when we took these photos and the light was terrible in her nursery, I told Erik we had to do it. The result was not super smiley photos BUT these monthly updates are so important to me so we continue to do it. With these photos, between every click of the shutter my little girl is sliding off her chair and wanting to be onto bigger and better things. Like Dr. Seuss.

16 months was a BIG month.

I'll start with the biggest milestone: WALKING. Yes, my baby is a walker. If you remember, she took her first unassisted steps a couple months ago, but remained content to crawl. Just about two weeks ago was when Juliet decided to take off and start walking. She started off wobbly but is getting stronger and gaining better balance every day. Even though we are getting used to seeing her walk, Erik and I still look at each other when she's toddling around and say "did you see that?!" She's not 100% full on walking yet, she still stumbles a lot and will crawl instead. But much of the time, she walks and on her own accord. It astonishes me and fills me with so much pride...even though I know that almost all babies will eventually start walking. I get that, but it's still the most unbelievable thing in the world to me.

Juliet is a talker. She's must take after her momma. She babbles and talks all day long. She can say so many words now and her vocabulary is just exploding. She can associate words with things around her. Here are all the words (I can remember) that she is saying on a regular basis:

Hi
Bye
Down
Get down
Night Night (ni ni)
Up
Katie (doesn't sound exactly like Katie but she definitely says it)
No
Yeah
More
No way
Grandpa (ba ba)
Grandma (na na)
Bubbles (Buh buh)
Mama
Dada
Cheese (keez)

Juliet started dancing last month. She plays the music button on her kitty keyboard (loves this thing) and will rock back and forth and put her hands in the air. It's the cutest thing and sometimes Erik, Juliet and I will hang out in the playroom and have dance parties.

She is going through a big-time momma phase. So much so that she has started crying at daycare drop off. This breaks my heart more than anything in this world but I really try to not let it get to me too much. I know she loves daycare. I know she gets over it quickly and her provider tells me that the tears are gone before I even drive away. But man...the first couple times it happend I just sat in my car clenching the steering wheel, fighting the tears and mostly fighting the urge to say "screw it" to my job and run back into daycare, swoop her up and go home and cuddle. I know it's a phase. I really hope it ends soon.

Juliet got a new tooth last month. It's on the upper gums and now she has 3 on top and 2 on the bottom and I just love her little toothy smiles.

Going to bed is hard lately. I have been one lucky mom in that bedtime has NEVER been hard up until recently. We had our routine down and it was lovely; books, diaper, lotion, jammies, breastfeed, cuddle, rock in the chair and then a kiss and down in the crib she went. Every night. Without a peep. She would roll over onto her side or tummy, suck her thumb and go night night. And that was usually around 7-7:30. Now? We are lucky if we can get her to go to bed by 9. I'm not sure what happened but now she cries and stands up in her crib at bedtime and refuses to lay down and go to sleep. For a while I wondered that maybe she isn't tired so we would bring her downstairs and let her stay up longer. That was probably a big mistake because now she always points to her door and wants to go downstairs. Last night she was up until 10, eek! Anyway, hopefully this is also a phase and we'll go back to easy the easy bedtime routine soon. It's been the main reason blogging has been on the back burner. By the time we get her to sleep, I am so exhausted that opening up my computer is the last thing I want to do.

What a fun month! But I'm not going to lie, it's been a bit stressful, too. The challenging bedtime is no fun for anyone. With that aside, I am obsessed with having a toddler. Juliet is sweet, interactive, loving, adorable. Her hair is getting so long that lately she even looks much older. I am so crazy in love with this girl.

Happy 16 months sugar plum! Momma loves you so much.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Juliet: 15 months

{Rompers and pigtails!}

My little honey turned 15 months last week. What a sweet girl she is and what a wonderful month we had.

Juliet had some very exciting milestones this month:

She got 3 new teeth! Her first two bottom teeth appeared back in December and then nothing for 5 months. We could see that teeth wanted to pop through on the top but instead she had bumpy gums for a long time. Then all of the sudden three came through in a matter of a couple days. She looks so much older with her top teeth! Luckily teething doesn't seem to bother her much and just resulted in a few wake-ups at night, but nothing major.

Juliet has been much more verbal lately and has been learning more words. She picked up on Erik and I telling Kody to "get down" off our counters when he jumps up and suddenly one day she mimicked us and said "get down!", even down to the tone all while pointing and shaking her finger. Oh my goodness. It was the cutest thing. And now she does it every time she sees the cat. Over and over and over.  She also started saying "uh oh", "more", "hi" (this was from last month but I finally heard it this month) and more words I'm sure I'm forgetting. She is constantly babbling. I just love it.

Juliet has been testing her boundaries and limits and displaying her independence with Erik and I lately. Mostly it's been in the form of throwing food on the floor during meal times. She's still a very good eater, but when she's had enough to eat she'll start dropping handfuls of food. She does this while staring right at us, as if testing us. We try to distract her and/or we take her tray away. Erik has attempted sternly saying "no" but I don't think she is quite old enough to understand that and even if she is, she blatantly ignores him. I'm sure there is much more of this to come...

She took her first unassisted steps! Erik and I were sitting about 5 feet apart and asked her to "walk to momma" and "walk to dada", then one day she took about 4 steps forward and launched into my arms with a big smile while we clapped and cheered. That was 3 weeks ago and we haven't made much progress since. We practice walking a few steps everyday but she doesn't seem to want to make it her main mode of transportation quite yet.

Happy 15 months to my talkative, happy, sweet, beautiful little love. I love you so.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Juliet: 14 months

My sweet girl turned 14 months last Tuesday. She is all smiles lately. She giggles and laughs and squeals. We have been having so much fun.

There weren't any major milestones this month.  Mostly, her little mind is hard at work taking in the world. She has been super engaged lately; loves being read to, loves hanging out in her playroom with momma or daddy and playing with her kitchen.

Here are the (sort of) milestones that took place this month:
  • Juliet learned to say "hi"...ok, I haven't heard it, but Sarah her daycare provider told me she's said "hi" recently. She came in to get Juliet after a nap and said "hi, Juliet!" and Juliet replied "hi!" This is the first time Juliet's had a milestone at daycare that I haven't experienced at home. I'm a little bit sad about this, but Juliet adores daycare so much, and the truth is, she is there 45 hours a week, so it wouldn't be realistic to think all her milestones will happen at home with me and Erik.  
  • Juliet says "dada" all the time and uses it in the right context.  Before she would say "dada" to pretty much anything (the couch, shoes, cheese, etc) but now she calls Erik "dada". It's so cute. It mostly happens in the morning after I breastfeed her and bring her into our room. Before we even get to the bed she starts saying "dada, dada" because she knows she is going to see him.  
  • This next milestone is mine. I am completely done pumping. I went down to just one pumping session a day a month ago and for some reason, it was so hard to give that one session up. I had anxiety about it dropping my supply and I guess I came to realize that while I mostly hated the pump, I was attached to it. I carried that thing with me everyday for 14 months. Last week was my first full week with no pump and it is a glorious thing. I carry a purse now instead of a pump. Juliet still nurses mornings and before she goes to bed, and on-demand on the weekends. That works amazing for us and it's my favorite part of my day.  
A few milestones that shouldn't be too far away...Juliet has 3 teeth coming in on top. They are about to come through. Fortunately, Juliet doesn't seemed bothered much by teething. She still has a sweet little gummy grim and I wonder what she'll look like when she gets 3 top teeth all at once.  

Juliet loves walking while holding our hands...she is getting stronger and her balance improves everyday. She has stood by herself a couple times and seems really close to taking her first steps...but really, who knows for sure. For now, I'm still enjoying the thump thump thump sound her little knees makes as she crawls around the floor.  

There were a lot of cute, happy and very smiley photos taken for this post.  

Happy 14 months my darling babe. I feel like the luckiest momma in the world because of you.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mac and cheese with sweet potatoes {toddler meal}

I've been meaning to make Juliet homemade mac and cheese for a while and hadn't gotten around to it until yesterday.  I bought a couple boxes of Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese but then thought to myself, why don't I just whip some up homemade?  And I'm glad I did because it was super easy and healthier than the boxed variety.

I found this recipe for mac and cheese via Pinterest.  It includes pumpkin puree which I thought sounded great.  I had sweet potato puree that I had made Juliet a couple weeks ago in my freezer, so I thawed out some of that and added it (instead of pumpkin).  Either would work.  Adding this is awesome because it ups the nutritional value and gives the mac and cheese a rich, orange color, which is what we're used to seeing (unfortunately) from the artificial dyes in the Kraft boxed kind.  To see some inspiring women create change in the food industry regarding artificial dyes at Kraft Foods, check out this blog post from Food Babe.

This mac and cheese seriously took about 15 minutes.  It's so quick you can do mostly everything (make the roux and chop extra veggies) while the noodles boil.  I had an organic zucchini and squash in my fridge so I decided to chop that up and add to the dish.

Mac and cheese with sweet potatoes (recipe via Simple Bites
Ingredients
  • 1 box (8 oz.) whole wheat macaroni pasta (I used whole wheat rotini, these are super easy for Juliet to pick up with her little fingers, I cut them in half before giving them to her)
  • 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin*
  • 1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta in large pot of boiling water according to package instructions, about 8-9 minutes. Drain and set aside in large bowl.
  2. Begin making the cheese sauce by melting butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Once completely melted, add the flour little by little and mix with a whisk to prevent lumps. Cook flour and butter mixture for about 3 minutes, but do not let brown. Remove from heat and slowly add milk; mix with whisk until well combined. Return to medium-low heat and cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Add nutmeg and sweet potatoes (pumpkin puree or squash works as well). Remove from heat and add grated cheese; stir until cheese is completely melted and sauce is smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, pour cheese sauce over cooked pasta. Mix sauce and pasta until well combined. The mixture may appear a bit soupy but the pasta will absorb more of the cheese sauce as it sits. Once cooled, chop slightly in food processor for small babies or keep whole for toddlers.
Notes
*Can substitute pureed sweet potato with pumpkin puree or butternut squash.  I also included half of an organic yellow squash and zucchini (chopped into small pieces) and added it to the milk/cheese mixture prior to combining with the noodles.  This slightly cooks and softens the squash/zucchini to make it appropriate for toddlers who might not have all their teeth!

Juliet was my taste-tester and loved it!  She also was giving her new Oogaa spoon a try and did so good with it!  She isn't coordinated enough yet to scoop up the food but she understands the concept and loves eating with a spoon.  Mama helped her out a lot.  This recipe made a lot of mac and cheese and Juliet will be eating it for lunch a couple times this week and I am also taking a serving for lunch tomorrow.  It's great for adults, too!  I would just recommend adding salt and pepper to taste because I found it to be a bit sweeter than I prefer (but this is also most likely why Juliet loved it!).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Our Easter

Last week was pretty great.  I had Wednesday and Friday off work.  Random days off work to spend with my sweetie are the best.  And days to myself are pretty great too.  I had my first ever full day to myself on Friday.  Juliet's daycare was closed all week so Erik's mom flew in from North Dakota and watched Juliet Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday was a Jenna/Juliet day and we went to the Children's Museum with my good friend, Jill and her two boys.  Then we went to lunch (3 kids age 3 and under and they did great!) and after Juliet and I spent the rest of the day hanging out, playing, napping, etc.

Thursday and Friday was all about Grandma and Juliet and they had a blast together.  Erik and I really appreciated Karen coming down for the weekend.  She also got to spend Easter with us, which was awesome.

My "Jenna day" was amazing.  I met Jill at the spa for a facial and a massage, followed by lunch, followed by a couple hours of shopping.  I felt no momma guilt.  I knew I needed this day.  I needed a little time just for me.  And I REALLY needed new clothes.  My body is different these days.  I'm actually smaller than before I was pregnant, but things are just...weird.  Clothes fit different and the boob situation is not ideal.  Luckily I found some decent things that I actually like and feel pretty good in.  Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike shopping?  I really do.

My sweetie wore a beautiful Easter dress on Sunday, a gift from my aunt Chris (and Juliet's godmother).  She was just the prettiest little thing in that dress.  She also loved that big stuffed bunny and kept giving it kisses and snuggling with him on the floor.  Check out how much she's grown and changed since last Easter!!
I am trying to move towards healthier/cleaner living and eating lately and I had ambitions to make my own natural egg dye (using fruits/veggies/spices) but I ran out of time and ended up finding this ntural dye from my favorite baby boutique called Pacifier.  The dye is made up of fruits and plants and is 100% safe and free of chemicals.  It produced beautifully colored eggs!  Some were sparkly, some were swirly.

The company Wee Can Too also makes edible crayons and other art supplies.  I am thinking of getting some for Juliet and my niece, Chloe, they both like to taste their crayons!
The picture on the right are the snacks we put in Juliet's Easter eggs for an egg hunt.  I didn't want to do candy and toys or trinkets that are small enough to fit into an egg and would be a choking hazard.  So we stuck with organic snacks like yogurt melts, veggie crisps and puffs.  They aren't exactly the most healthy things but for a special treat it is fine.  We kept Juliet's Easter basket simple and free of candy.  There is nothing wrong with a little candy here and there but I think Juliet is a bit young for it.  We got her books, flashcards and another Lollacup, which is the best straw/sippee cup out there (in my opinion).  Yes, it's spendy but totally worth it.  Pretty eggs!!  Also, Erik's breakfast for the next week or so. I didn't get many great photos of Juliet digging into her basket because it was early in the morning and the lighting was terrible.  Luckily, I did get a few cute Instagram photos (follow me @eatdrinkpretty).

Karen bought Juliet the cutest rain boots, rain jacket and umbrella.  She is all set for puddle jumping once she starts walking and it gets warmer outside.  Aunt Chris also dropped off a big basket full of adorable clothes for Juliet.
After we opened Easter baskets we went to church with my family and then came back to our house for a big Easter brunch.  My whole family was over and we feasted on way too much food as usual.

As I mentioned before, but Erik and I host most of the gatherings with my family because our new home is perfect for entertaining.  But we do potluck style so it's not too much work for us.  Everyone brings an item and it works out great.

The brunch menu consisted of two egg bakes, cheesy potatoes, scones, donut holes and a balsamic/mustard glazed ham.  The spread was delicious.
Erik's mom ordered an edible arrangement and we had that for dessert along with this beautiful Lemon Orange Chiffon cake that I made (with some help from Karen).   I've made this cake a few times now and this last time it ended up being a tad dry.  I'm not really sure what happened but maybe I left it in the oven for just couple minutes too long.  It was still really good.  I've made it with store-bought orange juice and squeezing the orange juice fresh.  Honestly, unless you have the most perfectly ripe oranges you'll be better off using store-bought juice.  Aunt Chris gave Juliet an adorable personalized onesie that said "Juliet. Official Easter Egg Hunter".  So cute!  I wouldn't say this is the greatest family picture ever...but Erik looks really handsome!It's pretty impossible to get a decent photo of Juliet and her cousin!  They are very busy little gals and don't want to sit still.  I hope you all enjoyed your Easter weekend as much as we did!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Healthy toddler oatmeal banana muffins

I'm always on the lookout for healthy, homemade breakfast ideas for my toddler.  Juliet has pumpkin oatmeal cookies a couple times a week but I wanted to mix things up a bit with a good muffin recipe.

After a lot of searching I found an awesome recipe for toddler muffins.  It was a great recipe to start, but I modified it a bit to make it even better (in my opinion).  The recipe has no flour or sugar and still tastes great.

The muffins are insanely easy to make.  One caveat is that you do need a regular sized food processor to whip these up, but if you have one you are set.  All the ingredients get thrown into the bowl of the food processor and it eliminates making a huge mess in the kitchen (which I am known for).

My favorite part of the recipe is taking oats and grounding them into a flour consistency.  So cool.
Cute mini muffin liners help spruce these up.  You can also make them right in a muffin tin, just be sure to spray first to avoid sticking.  
Oatmeal banana muffins (recipe inspired by Examiner blog)

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2 extra ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (I use organic from Trader Joes)
1/4 cup wheat germ (totally optional)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin with spray or butter or use muffin liners.

Using a food processor, grind oats until fine. They should have the consistency of flour.

Add all other ingredients, and pulse until the batter has a smooth consistency.

Distribute batter evenly in the muffin tin or liners (fill about 2/3 full). Bake 8-10 minutes, or until the tops gently bounce back when touched and a toothpick comes out of center of a muffin clean. Juliet was a fan of the muffins.  She had one for lunch yesterday and I could tell she really liked having her own mini muffin to eat like a big girl.  She took little bites and ate the whole thing.  Here she is drinking out of our favorite straw Lollacup.  We went straight to the straw cups because Juliet is a pro at drinking from a straw and the sippie cup didn't come as easy to her.  I've read that straw cups are better for speech development and there are other benefits as well (read the article here).  Juliet still drinks whole milk mixed with breastmilk at daycare from bottles, but I'm hoping to get rid of bottles in the next month or so.

Here is a list of typical breakfast items Juliet enjoys (I find these lists help because I often struggle with what to make for meals and like to see what others do):

Pancakes (typically make with fruit puree or mashed bananas for added nutrition)
Strawberries
Raspberries
Blueberries
Green grapes
Pureed prunes (I get the non-sorbate organic prunes from Trader Joes, boil them until they are soft and them puree in a blender) with organic whole milk, full fat plain yogurt
Pureed prunes with whole grain oatmeal (we use Earth's Best)
Scrambled eggs
Fried eggs (with the yolks completely cooked and hard)
Smoothies (Juliet adores smoothies and I typically make them with plain yogurt, frozen berries, a small amount of spinach and whole milk or almond milk)
Pumpkin oatmeal cookies
Organic fruit pouches (when we are in a hurry)
Hashbrowns or breakfast potatoes (only on the weekends)

I'm so happy I gave these muffins a try and now have a freezer stocked for easy breakfasts.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Real party: Juliet's "baby love" first birthday, part 2

Thanks for stopping by part two of Juliet's "baby love" first birthday party.  Part two has all the sweet dessert details and best part of all...the cake smash!

Click here for part one.

We set up a simple and lovely little dessert table.  We displayed Juliet's smash cake along with cupcakes, macarons, cookies, cake pops and candy.  We also had two more cakes that were displayed on the brunch buffet.  

I loved the heart backdrop and it was pretty easy to make as well as low cost.  My sister-in-law cut out all the hearts by hand (this was before I figured out how to use the Cricut).  Total cost of the backdrop was probably about $15, including the foam core and paper.  I'd like to frame this and hang it in Juliet's playroom.  

Photo credits to Jessica Rose Photography, unless otherwise noted.  
I super loved Juliet's invitations.  I made them using a printable template from Onto Baby.  The glittery gold paper was so pretty and the heart design was perfect.   Rock candy is so silly, isn't it?  No one eats it.  Literally it's sole purpose is looking pretty, which it does.  Good thing I found it for only $5 at Party City.   The smash cake was so adorable.  Erik made it!!!  We had high ambitions to make a somewhat healthy, carrot cake recipe from Wholesome Baby Food but by the time I went grocery shopping for ingredients it was already 9pm the night before the party.  So we ended up with a yellow cake mix. Regardless, Erik baked it and frosted it perfectly.

My brother's girlfriend (we call her Lumbie) made the awesome heart cake toppers.
  The beautiful macarons were purchased from Cocoa and Fig on Valentines Day.  They had tiny white hearts on top.  Guess how many were eaten at the end of the party?  Only one.  What the heck?  I guess people filled up on cake.  

I made simple cupcake toppers using gold paper, a mini heart punch, toothpicks and glue.  
It's hard to tell in the photos, but the fabric on the dessert table was gold with little flecks of gold glitter.  It could have used our steam machine to get the wrinkles out but who has time for that?!!!  
I found the fabric at JoAnn Fabrics and after using a coupon and geting another discount (thank you Katie) for a black smudge on a corner, I only spent $9 on it.  The fabric was used as a tablecloth on the dessert table, drink table and as the photobooth backdrop.  
Each dessert had a pretty label.  Aren't these cakes lovely?  They're from Target Bakery.  I ordered two for $16.99 each and they were delicious. I brought a photo of rossette frosting to show the baker and they said they could easily do it.  I was really happy with how the cakes turned out.  We had a white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and raspberry filling and a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream.  Pretty little heart-shaped sugar cookies from  Fun Sugar Cookie Etsy shop. If you are a parent, then you know the cake smash is where it's at for first birthday parties.  This is the moment I waited for all day and was super excited about.  I knew my girl would love her cake and I couldn't wait to see her adorable face covered in sugary frosting.  My heart was exploding in my chest as we sang Juliet happy birthday.

She was actually quite dainty about tasting her cake at first, and then she dug in a bit more.   Mmmmmmmmmm. Yum, yum.   Sorry for the cake smash photo overload, but seriously...her big eyes...her adorable frosting covered face.  I love these photos.   The party was lovely, right?   It was everything I dreamed it would be. The details were just perfect, the food was great and all my family and close friends were there.  But my girl?  Well, she was a bit of a crab cake during the party, as well as the entire weekend of her birthday.  

Juliet is very rarely crabby.  She is a happy girl 95% of the time.  The weekend of her birthday was the crabbiest I've ever seen her.  I think it was because she was getting over strep throat and she had been kept home from daycare for three days to recover and feel good for her party.  She was out of her routine and missing daycare.  Also, I'm sure she could feel her momma's stress from party planning as well as the fact that I was a bit emotional leading up to her birthday...and well, babies are intuitive like that.  She was probably feeding off my energy.  

Despite the fact that she was a bit fussy during the party, I am also quite sure she enjoyed it, including eating her cake, opening presents and seeing friends and family.  Oh, and she loved the heart-shaped pancakes, too!  

No, she wasn't perfectly happy during her party.  But it was still a perfect day and she's my perfect girl, crabbiness and all. 

She was also getting a bit sleepy at this point.  I was asking her to "stay awake just a bit longer my dearest, it's almost time to open presents!!!"
I set up a "photobooth" in Juliet's playroom using gold fabric and a pink heart banner.  We had some fun props like heart-shaped sunglasses, a gold frame, a love sign and a sign that said "love is sweet".

These photos were taken with a digital camera.
Above photobooth pics taken with Instagram on my iPhone.

Let's have some cake!
I know I've said I had a lot of favorite details of the day...but honestly and truly one of my absolute favorite details was this photo slideshow.  I put it together the week before Juliet's party and we played it on our big screen TV for all our guests.  It was 3 minutes of our sweet girl's first year and I made sure to include photos with beloved grandparents and other family members who helped make this year so wonderful.

You can see in the photo above that Erik and I both look a bit wistful while watching the slideshow.  I was emotional and Erik actually admitted that "he started getting a little teary and had to get up and walk around".  If you knew my husband you would realize how crazy that is for him to get that emotional and then admit it!  What can I say, becoming a mom/dad changes you.

And there you have it.  Juliet's "baby love" first birthday party.

Juliet, you are my sweet little love, my darling one year old girl.  This party was such a wonderful celebration, all for you.  You deserved each fleck of gold glitter, every sugary taste of frosting, the crazy amount of presents.  Every little heart displayed at this party was a HUGE symbol of our love for you.  We love you so, so much.  Happy birthday.

Vendor credits:

Photography: Jessica Rose Photography
Event styling: Jenna of Eat Drink Pretty
Macarons: Cocoa and Fig
Rosette cakes: Target bakery
Mini heart sugar cookies: Fun Sugar Cookie Etsy shop
Invitations and placecards: Printable template from Onto Baby