Adeline is ONE!

/ /  Reflecting on the absolute best year of my life  / /

On March 6, our sweet little Adeline turned ONE. Dan and I got her out of bed together in the morning while singing Happy Birthday, we put a candle in a stack of pancakes for breakfast and sang again, and we spent the day together as a family reading, singing songs, napping, and strolling around the zoo. Adeline's amazing daycare threw her a Tinkerbell party in the afternoon where she actually ate about half of her cupcake despite being incredibly picky about food most of the time, and all of her friends ran circles around her while she hung out in her Tinkerbell outfit and read books. The following weekend we celebrated with a HUGE crowd and lots of donuts at our house, and Adeline wore a flower crown her Godmother made her and clapped when everyone sang to her. I only cried a little bit, and the whole time was absolutely magical.

I wanted to write a post on her actual birthday, but as I usually do, I put too much pressure on myself thinking it needed to be something profound and decided to reflect more before actually sitting down to type. And here I am a couple weeks later, finally with the realization that what I really want to write about are all of the things I genuinely hope I will always remember, for the rest of my life, about this child who has made me whole. The faces and mannerisms and little sounds that I have tried desperately to burn into my memory so as to never forget them, because every little tiny thing she does makes my heart so happy I can't even put it into words half the time.

I want to always remember how excited I get when she learns or does something new, and how excited she gets with herself when we exclaim "good job, Munchkin!" I want to remember how awe-inspiring it is to literally WATCH someone learn - it's incredible. It's almost like you can see the wheels turning in her head when she gets this furrow in her brow and concentrates extra hard. Her mind is a sponge, and in the last 2 months alone she has started doing half a dozen signs and visibly understanding both English and Spanish. I knew it would be fun to watch her grow, but I had no idea how awesome it would be to watch each individual little part of it.

I want to always remember her laugh. Her fake laugh. Her singing in the car on the way to and from daycare every day. The noises she made in her sleep when she was an infant that sounded like a baby goat. The first time she said "UH OHHHHH!" and raised her voice a solid octave to do so. How she sort of snores a lot of the time because she is always congested, and how she yawns with great drama and I cannot for the life of me manage to catch it on video. 

Perhaps more than anything else, I want to remember her habit of sucking on her two middle fingers when she is tired or overwhelmed. And how once she finds those fingers she kind of hums herself to sleep. I adore that habit so much I actually cried when for a few days I thought she wasn't going to do it anymore. Thankfully, she was only teething and as soon as they popped through she was back to the fingers and all was right with the world again. No matter how big she gets she always looks smaller to me when she does it - and for just a few minutes I have my little baby back. 

I want to always remember how much this child loves her daddy. And how sometimes, I end up in a complete daze just watching them together because it makes me so happy that the rest of the world disappears for a few seconds. When she hears his car locks beep in the evening she gets so excited waiting for him to come in the door that she sometimes ends up on the verge of tears, and they have already started mastering the art of sneaking up on me together and then cracking up when I jump. Their profiles are eerily alike, she has his calm demeanor and his big dark eyes, and probably (unfortunately) his sinuses. Early on, his tickling was the only thing that got those first giggles that came straight from her gut and caught in her throat before coming out, and to this day I haven't seen her laugh at anything as hard as she laughs at him. 

I want to always remember how much stronger I have become by becoming a mother, despite feeling weaker in many ways. My mama bear instincts kicked in quick when I was told before she was even born that she would go straight to NICU, and in the 12 months since then I have found myself fiercely protective of her on every level. I am passionate about doing my part to create a better future for her and learned early on that the most important job I have right now is to advocate for her.  I want to remember how I took something I was ridiculously pessimistic about - breastfeeding - and stuck to it and we figured it out together and now here we are at almost 13 months still nursing morning and evening and I not-so-secretly dread the day those times together will end.

And I want to always remember how grateful I am. I cannot count the number of "just you wait's" I've gotten about the terrible twos, or threes, or fours, and while I know these comments are all with good intention (and I'm sure plenty accurate), I don't ever want the negatives to overshadow all of the rest. It took a long time for us to get pregnant, and my pregnancy and delivery all had it's fair share of complications. We have had to have some really honest conversations about whether or not it would be a good idea for us to ever try to have another biological child, despite the fact that neither of us really expected to have just one. What good will it do me then, to let a bowl of food thrown on the floor or a meltdown over applesauce or a boycotted nap take away from the joy I have over the fact that despite all of the complications and unknowns for the future we DO have Adeline, and she is the most perfect blessing I could have ever imagined. I am forever a better person for Adeline being my daughter, and I thank God every day that I was chosen to be her mother.

Happy first birthday, sweet girl. Mama loves you so so much.

The Minimalism Game - Week 1

As I mentioned last week, a friend challenged me to take part in the February Minimalism Challenge, getting rid of a number of things every day based on the day of the month. Since we're at February 9th, that means I have collectively gotten rid of 72 things already, which is pretty awesome. A few things have gone to new homes or been recycled, and the bulk has been donated so hey! - there's a tax write-off incentive here to boot!

I've been taking this slowly and not terribly deliberately so far, meaning I sort of just stroll around a room or 2 each night (or in one day's case, my desk at work) and gather the proper number of things to take a quick picture of and post to the group. It hasn't been too difficult simply because I have SO. MUCH. STUFF. and the house is in desperate need of a good decluttering. But, as the days go by and the number of items to get rid of gets bigger, I'm forcing myself to MAKE it a little tougher and let things go that I feel a need to hang on to for one reason or another. Yesterday I pushed myself to toss an old makeup palette that I never use but have been keeping simply because it cost me a lot (though I bought it years ago, so I did get my money's worth out of it at least). The day before I got rid of 2 fleece robes that I adore... but don't adore as much as the others that I kept (apparently I hoard bathrobes?). I imagine as we get further into the month it will be increasingly challenging to choose things to let go, but I'm looking forward to being 406 unneeded items lighter in a few short weeks!

The Minimalism Game

/ /  A decluttering challenge for February  / /

My work bestie has challenged me and a couple other girls to join her in a February minimalism challenge via The Minimalists, and people, I cannot WAIT to get started tomorrow. The premise is pretty simple - for the entire month of February, you get rid of a number of things depending on the date... February 1 you get rid of 1 thing, on the 2nd you get rid of 2, and so on. When you get toward the end of the month I imagine it might get a little more difficult for some, but this girl has got some serious clutter to tackle so I don't actually think it's going to be that hard for me (outside of finding the actual time to clean and declutter each day). I may be eating those words come February 17th or so, but time will tell!

I've decided to tweak the game a bit to make it actually feasible for myself and will be gathering the proper number of items daily but only requiring myself to actually get them out of the house once a week (the game states that you must get the items out of the house by midnight each day but I know that I just wouldn't be able to commit to that if I want to properly donate my things). Gathering items throughout the week will also give me a fun little excuse to take a photo to blog about and show what I've gotten rid of, so I'm extra excited about that. 

Wanna join in?! 

Nate Berkus Killing it at Target

It's apparently been too long since I've scrolled through the pages of the Nate Berkus collection on Target's website, and the new stuff is AMAZEBALLS. Over the last week or so, I kept seeing a sweet blush pink armchair pop up on random Facebook ads and whatnot, and I finally clicked on it and then promptly squealed when I saw that it was Nate Berkus. I adore him. Absolutely adore. I was the crazy lady at Target the minute they opened the day the first collaboration collection came out, and I always love seeing what's new each season. 

As usual, the collection boasts lots of woven chunky textures, a hefty dose of gold, and sprinklings of other palettes (like the blush chair) mixed in to round it out. The chair is also available in a slipper style and I've decided I "have" to have it as my new desk chair at home. I've made a New Year's resolution to get my office/craft room in order once and for all this year (hopefully sooner than later), and it's going to require some serious purging that I'm not sure I'm ready for just yet. I figure if I get that done and the chair goes on sale a bit lower perhaps I'll reward myself with it ;).

Here's my favorites from the latest collection and a few oldies but goodies that are still available!

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Shop the entire Nate Berkus line here!

Baby Munchkin's Birthday

/ /  Starting to plan the most important party in the whole wide ever!  / /

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Happy New Year folks! I took yet another little blog hiatus over the holidays and outside of the magic of celebrating our first Christmas with Adeline, I've basically hibernated under a blanket on the couch in fuzzy slippers and the hubby's sweatshirts for the last several weeks. Today was a whopping 19 degrees at the "warmest" outside, and it genuinely takes every ounce of my willpower to not whine about that all. day. long.

But I have so many exciting things to look forward to in the coming months, despite the bitter cold! Most importantly, my baby girl turning ONE. I'll get into how emotional this all makes me in another post on another day, but for now I thought it'd be fun to have my first post of the new year full of some inspiration for her party... which we've decided will be a simple unseated brunch at our house and I canNOT wait! 

There's going to be gold. There's going to be pink. THERE'S GOING TO BE DONUTS. I may or may not try to make a fancy pie. I'm going to try really hard not to cry the whole time. And it is going to be magical.

Staying on Track - Free Weekly Printable!

/ /  Meal planning, goals and chores for the week - all in one easy printable  / /

In a desperate attempt to get myself a teensy bit more organized, I threw together a little weekly printable to try and stay on track. There's daily spots for to do's, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cleaning - because despite being adults we clearly need a chore chart around here. Up at the top is a cute little banner to add in 3 goals for the week. I purposely made these spots small in an effort to keep the goals themselves also small, because who needs to try and make lofty goals on a Monday amiright? I'm also really into the phrase "Don't stop, get it, get it" right now for absolutely no apparent reason, but it looks fun at the top of the page so I'm going with it. I will probably evolve this over time, and I'd love to add color but don't have a color printer at home right now so black and white will do for the time being. 

If you'd like to download a pdf of the chart to print yourself, just CLICK HERE. I'd love to hear if you use this to stay on track!

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! - Custom Designed Holiday Cards!

/ /  Want a totally custom holiday card designed for your family? Pick me, pick me!  / /

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It's November, and even though it's almost 70 degrees outside (I'm not complaining), it is officially time to start thinking about the holidays! I for one cannot wait for Christmas this year, since I imagine it will be 1,000 times more magical for us because of the munchkin. I am so looking forward to singing Christmas songs with her and decorating the tree and having our now-annual homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast Christmas morning. And don't even get me started on babies in Christmas pajamas. ALL the heart eyes for that, my friends. 

Something else I always look forward to is designing our Christmas card, which is bound to be extra easy this year because I have the most adorable baby on the planet to feature on the card. And since I love designing them so much, I thought this year would be perfect to offer up my design services to others if they're interested! 

Thanks to getting family photos taken by my lovely cousin Sam earlier this year, I had lots of adorable pictures of my niece and nephew and other family members to use for mockups. I also work with a fantastic printer who has super reasonable pricing so I've included design and printing together in the pricing below for added convenience!

DETAILS:
Custom Holiday card design

- customer provides photo(s) and desired wording for card via email
- 1-2 designs will be emailed to customer to choose from
- 1 round of minor revisions may be requested (complete redesign will incur additional costs)
- cards will be 5x7" and printed on 100# cover weight stock
- QTY. 50 cards, designed and printed = $80 (pricing can be provided for larger quantities)
- pickup cards in Naperville or Oak Park; additional cost for shipping
- envelopes in desired color = $30

Drop me a note at cakesandlouie@gmail.com if you're interested - I'd love to help spread the holiday cheer for you and your family!

One Room Challenge: Very (Very) Little Progress

My progress on the extra bedroom makeover has essentially been non-existent lately while I try to miraculously find time to paint the room, and given that this weekend is jam-packed full of Halloween fun, I don't see it happening anytime soon. I also hadn't really thought about the fact that the room is directly across from Adeline's, so while we get big stretches of evening time in between her bedtime and ours, we can't very well be making a ton of noise just a few feet from where she's sleeping just because I want to redo a room. I'm not all that surprised that painting a room we don't use isn't a top priority, but I do hope we'll manage to get it done soon since the rest of the room will be fairly easy to put together from there! We did recover the headboard in the floral fabric I originally planned for and while it looks lovely, I know it will look even more incredible with a moody green on the walls.

Part of the holdup is coming from us trying to get our big bathroom remodel going sooner than later - we've been talking about it since before the munchkin was born and struggled to find a contractor we were comfortable with. We have a family friend that's going to tackle it with Dan so while it's bound to take a little longer, it will finally be done! I spent a good chunk of today clearing the dresser in the big bathroom out and moving toiletries into our small master bath that we'll be using during the remodel. This also turned into purging our linen closet so medications and first aid supplies and whatnot from the big bathroom could be stored in there for awhile. 

Oddly enough, this all ties into the One Room Challenge since I decided that the dresser from the bathroom will go in the extra bedroom!

So yes, our big bathroom is big enough that I had a full sized dresser in there, which has been fantastic since the only storage when we moved in was the old (broken and gross) vanity. The hubs snagged this dresser from a church remodel before we even met, so it's been through a few moves with us and is one of my favorite pieces of furniture in our entire house. It's been great for toiletry organization, but I'm excited to put it back in a bedroom and have it there for a bit of extra storage and for guests to use!

Cross your fingers for me that we get a random burst of productive energy (and time) to get some paint on the walls so I don't completely fail the One Room Challenge! ;)

One Room Challenge: The Before

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I'm participating in the One Room Challenge with Calling it Home and hundreds of other bloggers, and I've decided to take on our extra bedroom and pack it full of color and pattern! I posted some general plans for the room already, and today I'm sharing the "before" photos which are, well, a hot mess to say the least.

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The bed is rarely made, especially since the munchkin spent most of September battling colds which means I spent most of September sleeping in her room with this mattress on the floor. (I'm fully aware that this is a little extreme, don't judge.) You can see the DIY headboard here, and I can't wait for it to be recovered with a bold floral!

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The major mess in the room is our bins of winter clothes and newborn-3 month stuff that's already been outgrown (tear!). Usually the bins are stacked in the closet, but we've been having that infamous in-between Chicago weather where you never really know how to dress and that always means I end up pulling bins out of the closet in the morning when I'm chilly and digging around for a sweater. We moved the bins into our room this evening to start switching out seasonal clothes, so basically for the time being I've just created a huge mess in our room too ;). 

The hubs will be taking his recliner to work or try to sell it so the wingback I'm planning to paint can replace it, and the old Ikea Expedit shelf will likely go in the closet with some bins to organize things that we don't need all the time but don't want all the way in the basement.

Lots to do here, but I'm excited to get going this weekend when I have some more time! First up is finishing clearing the room out and picking a paint color, and I'm also planning to take a trip to the fabric store to see if I find something I like for the headboard so I can order online before too long if not.

One Room Challenge: Guest Bedroom

Much to the hubby's dismay, I decided about a week ago to jump in on the latest One Room Challenge, joining Calling It Home and bunches of other bloggers in transforming a room in a matter of weeks! Weekly posts are put up every Thursday to show progress, with the big reveals from everyone coming at the end. 

I decided to take on our extra bedroom because since we don't use it all the time, it's a great space to have a little fun and play with color and pattern. Since the first weekly post is meant to show plans, I stressed out and spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to put together a mood board of sorts for the room, and ended up not getting a post up last Thursday for the kickoff. In other words, I'm already behind on a big project and given our full time jobs and the adorable little munchkin that rules our lives these days, it's bound to get a little crazy in the next month or so trying to get it all done! Thankfully, as much as I want to participate in the challenge, I've learned to go with the flow a little better since becoming a mom, so if the room isn't 100% finished at the end I've promised myself I won't be too bummed. 

Photos of what the space currently looks like will come soon, but for now - here's some of the plans I have for the room!

MUST HAVE #1 - COLOR: As I mentioned, I'm looking to really go bold with the color in this room, because why not?! Here's some inspiration.

MUST HAVE #2 - PATTERN: We already have our queen bed from our first house in the room with our DIY upholstered headboard, but it's currently a boring beige color so I'm planning to spruce it up by recovering it in a large floral. I love this fabric as an option.

The other main piece of furniture in the room right now is Dan's old recliner, which he has begrudgingly agreed to *finally* let go so I can make the room pretty. The plan is to replace it with an upholstered wingback chair, which I currently have 2 of in the garage from staging our last house for selling. I grabbed the pair for $50 off of craigslist and haven't had success reselling them, so I'm planning to try painting one of them using one of the many tutorials that pop up in my Pinterest feed from time to time. 

The rest of the room will be rounded out by accessories I grabbed at Target and some easy art on the walls. I'm also brainstorming what we can do with the closet - right now there's not even a clothes bar in there, and depending on how the wingback fits in I may replace one of the nightstands with a small dresser for future guests.

So there it is - plans are on the blog so I have to at least try to make this whole makeover happen, right? Wish me luck!