Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer is here!

For the past 2 weeks the Gray house has been celebration station.  After Julia's birthday we celebrated Charles' birthday and Father's day in the same weekend.  This coming week we celebrate our 3 year anniversary...and then we take a break for a while.  Luckily, we started out strong and will take a low maintenance approach to our anniversary.  We plan on heading out to the Berkshires to hike at Bish Bash falls.  In my sheltered time in Massachusetts, I still haven't made my way west and I am determined to experience the Berkshires!
For Charles' birthday we headed to Boston to catch a Sox game, which was Julia's first visit to Fenway. She never ceases to amaze me with how well she does!  We had an amazing day (with several breaks each inning) and we even got to meet up with our friends Jim and Natalie who just moved to Boston. We ended the night with an awesome dinner in the North End. 
Maybe it's the ballpark experience or maybe it was the 80-something degree weather, but I had that sudden realization that summer has officially arrived.  It feels like I haven't had a "summer" in 2 years since last year was a complete blur and we spent 99% of it inside.  So I decided to come up with some summer goals since I know from experience that it will rush by. 

1. Host a summer dinner party (inspired by Country Living magazine).  I know, I'm such a dork, but I have this vision of lanterns and milk can vases for flowers...
2. Take Julia to the Zoo - Forest Park might suffice, but if we can catch the Philadelphia Zoo that would be bonus points.
3. Make my own popsicles with the cool molds that I just scored on clearance at Home Goods. 
4. On a rainy day - declutter my studio and organize my fabrics.  Clean out our basement...SIMPLIFY.
5.  Take a few day trips (or overnight) to some of the many exciting places within a few hours of our home.  Berkshires. the Adirondacks...

So there it is.  Nice and written down for accountability sake.  What are your summer goals?  You should write them down.  It's almost July you know :)
In other news, I finally completed the album for Julia.  I used pieces of the blog entries along with pictures throughout the year to put it all together.  I would highly recommend this through MyPublisher - it turned out great.  They have some great coupon offers and they make good gifts for family.  I'd love to do this yearly, but I will just celebrate the fact that I completed this one.
Julia greeting her daddy with a birthday kiss.  There is something about dads and their little girls...
...and little girls with their dogs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chalkboard flower pots

Here is an easy guide for the chalkbard pot/party favors from Julia's birthday:
chalkboard paint
flower pot
potting soil

buttons - just a cute touch to give a guide for making the base of the flowers
hot glue gun

5 great things about these party favors:
1) They cost about $2 each - the pot cost $1 at Big Lots, the chalkboard paint was about $20 (but we only used a small amount...I have plenty of other projects in mind to use up this paint), and the flowers were pretty cheap (one of the perks of the fact that my mother-in-law is the garden club president...she knows where to get flowers), and then the chalk and buttons were just a few cents.
2) It's a favor that people might actually enjoy and it's fun for all ages (Julia played in the dirt, but the bigger kids loved potting their own plant). 
3) They were so easy (just paint and allow 24 hours to dry) and so much fun to personalize.
4) You could write a little message on these and give them to a friend...the possibilities are endless!
5) Having extra flowers is not as burdensome as having a ton of extra food - I just simply planted the few flowers that were left over.

And here are some of the remaining highlights from Sunday - Julia's official birthday.

Enjoying her new chair from Mimi and Poppi - she sat in it like a queen!

Hanging with my friend Zoey to top off the day!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

O Happy Day!

It was a day filled with the glow of ordinary things & we passed them quietly from hand to hand for a long time & someone said she had picked a perfect day to be born & I think all of us felt the same.  - Brian Andreas
This weekend was a celebration of Julia's first birthday.  My mom tells me that all birthdays are special for different reasons.  ONE seems significant to Charles and I because we managed to keep Julia alive and thriving for one full year.  If all else fails from this point on, we can add that accomplishment to our list of life successes.  It's significant because it marks the anniversary of her birth - is a milestone like no other.  It's pretty neat for Julia as we take inventory of the amazing learning curve that has taken place over the span of 12 short months.  Good Job Julia!  I would definitely need more naps if I was soaking in that much!  It also has such great meaning for everyone surrounding us as they have supported us all through the journey of parenting this past year. So, it made plenty of sense to celebrate with all of those great people. 
 The following are snapshots from the day on Saturday:

These photos make things look relatively tame...the reality is, we had quite a crew of babies, parents, family and friends.  For all of the photos I took, I wish I was able to capture more!
We hoped to have the party outside, but quickly had to move things inside about 20 minutes before our guests arrived for the party.  We had some simple decorations for the party including this banner below.  I got the idea to do a picture banner, but then decided to make it a timeline of her 12 months.  It's an easy project - I just glued the pictures onto round cutouts (you can do color photos, but the black and white added some consistent color to the banner). 
And as the years progress, I will simply add on a new picture from each year and continue to hang the banner for her birthday.  I will post my other great DIY party project tomorrow...

Thank you to all of our friends for celebrating with us! 
More to come tomorrow with photos from Sunday (her real birthday) and the chalkboard flower pot party favors. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

sitting, waiting, wishing

When I was pregnant I had the same dream over and over again that I gave birth to a lab puppy.  I know, it's a strange thing to admit, but I was pretty smitten by this yellow lab and I wasn't concerned at all with the fact that my child was an animal.  I remember thinking in my dream that it was completely normal as I peeked into the nursery at this little pup.  I confess this as a vivid example of just how much is unknown when you are pregnant.  You prepare and prepare for this tiny being, but you have no idea how it all fits. 
So in my wakeful time (the time when it was absurd to even imagine that my mind was focused on dogs), I spent a lot of time dreaming of what Julia would be like.  Dreaming is a pasttime for us.  We spend hours thinking up things together.  We dream of winning Powerball and how we would use the money toward different things, we dream of opening a coffee shop with a studio attached and what kind of food and decor we would have, Charles likes to dream up the friends that he can persuade to move to our street so that we can "stock" our neighborhood full of the best (it's pretty cool already). 
This weekend we spent some time in Maine for Charles' 10-year college reunion.  We had a great time with friends and a much needed relaxing weekend.  Our theory when traveling is "everything is fair game" - if we want to do it, we go for it.  Charles wanted to go to an open house that was about 1/2 hour out of our way, so we did it.  We took a trip out to Harpswell to this old Coloniel house built in the 1840's that had views of the Maine coast from every window in the house. Attached to the house was an old barn (that would be an amazing studio space).  Each bedroom had such character - it was almost as if we were transported back to the time when the house was at it's prime.  All I could imagine was hosting Thanksgiving in a place like this.  The simplicity of Maine and the feeling of tradition permeated these walls.  We spent the entire ride home dreaming of life with a Maine house. 
 Whether we acknowlege it or not, much of our time is spent in thought - whether it is worry or planning or wishing, our minds have a powerful role in how we view each step in life - from the milestones to the mundane.  It's a funny thing.  Sometimes I am spot-on.  I just know how it's going to be.  Other times, I have no idea what to expect. 
Exactly one year ago today, I wrote a letter to Julia with my dreams for her.  I remember being at a loss for words as I wrote.  I included the important stuff - that I would be a good mom, guiding her in the right ways.  That she would love God and reflect it in her life and in her relationships.  As I wrote, I remember it feeling so abstract, like something was missing.  On Sunday we will celebrate her first birthday.  I will be writing her another letter this year.  This time, I have the past year to guide me - OH, how much I have learned.  I have to laugh at how much I didn't know and how much she surprises me. I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I have the life and the face of my child to guide me this time. 
Dreaming is fun.  Living it is better.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

captain Julia

Somehow June has creeped in reminding me that her first birthday is right around the corner.  I still have some time to bask in the fact that she's not quite there yet, but last weekend I had one of those moments of recognizing that she's no longer a helpless infant:
We had an amazing weekend with our closest friends celebrating Jilly and Tommy's wedding in Rehoboth Beach, DE.  Between the service and the reception, we had a span of about 2 hours to hang out at the beach.   Once we were through with the wedding party photos I met Charles, my parents, and Julia on the boardwalk to give Julia her first taste of Funland - the place I used to love when I was little.  One of my earliest memories is riding the boats in a little yellow dress when I was about 4 years old.  Charles and I put Julia on one of the boats when the ride was stopped - the plan was to snap a few photos and move along, but the ride attendant asked for our ticket.  I politely told the attendant that she was "way to young" to ride, but she dismissed me and strapped Julia into the boat.  We decided to give it a shot, but proportioned ourselves around the little pool to make sure that she didn't throw herself overboard (this is not out of the realm of Julia's capabilities).   Well....the ride started and she LOVED it.  In fact, she confidently put her hand along side of the boat and kept the other hand on the steering wheel.  I attempted to yell her name as she came around, but she put her hand up as if to say "hold on mom, can't you see I'm cruising in my boat?" 
That was my moment. 
The moment that I assume every mother has where you can't help but acknowledge that they are growing and will not stay in these beautiful stages forever. In the 350-ish days that she has graced our lives she has learned so much and she is transitioning into toddler-hood already.
So, to celebrate the moment, we decided to move on to the Merry-go-Round where she can't help but depend on us to keep her safe and strapped in for a few more years :) 
And here are our other moments of mischief throughout the week:
And in random news:
If I were to get married again.  I would have a photobooth.  And if I were to have  photobooth, I would have this adorable chalkboard thought bubble by Red Velvet Art (she has a cool blog too w/ neat DIY projects!).  But my wedding was pretty great and my husband is even greater.  And so, I will have to buy it for my sister's wedding in October.  So there you go Kirstan...I'm already planning out what I will write for you in my *photo thoughts*. 
I should probably work on my speech instead :)