DIY Birthday Party Decor

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I love interior design, decorating, and fashion (although it’s been hard to keep up with trends now that I’m busy being a mommy for two). So I was pretty excited about planning the decorations for Katelynn’s first birthday. It’s all about the little details coming together to create a themed party. I decided on a white, silver, gold winter wonderland theme for Katelynn’s party since she was born early January.

  1. Ribbon banner – I used silver twine and tied white, silver and gray ribbons for a clean, wintery look.
  2. Pine cones – Pine cones are classic symbols of the winter theme. I simply accessorized the table by scattering pine cones and sprinkled some fake snow on them.
  3. Gold candleholders and lantern – I got these cute candleholders and lantern as presents and never really used them till now. Candles and lights always create a romantic aura and the lantern was perfect to incorporate the winter theme. 
  4. KATE letters centerpiece – Michael’s sells white wooden letters. I painted the letters with gold and then painted a layer of gold glitter on top for a fun, glamorous look.
  5. Rustic stand for the letters – I wanted to make sure to elevate the KATE letters so that it would be the centerpiece of the table so I flipped a storage crate over and used that as a cute, rustic stand. 
  6. Floral decor – Fresh flowers always brighten up a room. I used white roses and white hydrangeas to complete the winter look. I also got some silver and white wintery branches from Party City and placed them in clear vases with fake snow inside. 
  7. Cake and cupcakes – I kept it simple with an ivory cake with an adorable snowflake design and lemon cupcakes from Hotcakes Bakery. 
  8. Winter bird figurine – I found this adorable winter white bird figurine at Michael’s and used it as a an accent piece in front of the KATE letters. 

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Katelynn’s First Birthday

It’s been such a long time since my last post! It’s a been a very busy and blessed year. My youngest daughter turned one this January! I am going through a mixed bag of emotions – ranging from gratitude that we all made it in one piece and that Katelynn is so healthy and a voracious eater despite the nightmare of my pregnancy and relief (that she is sleeping through the night, no longer refluxy/gassy) to sadness (that she is getting bigger every day and now a toddler almost ready to walk on her own).

Then there’s the uh-oh feeling I get when I realize she’s starting to show her true personality now (complete with tantrums and angry arm flailing when we tell her no). When I see couples holding their newborn baby, I start to feel nostalgic – remembering the times I held her all day to keep her asleep.

Then I remember how hard it was and I feel relieved that we survived the chaos of Katelynn’s first year and my first year juggling two children! There were countless sleepless nights when Katelynn needed to be burped 10+ times due to excessive gas and reflux. Midnight was her average bedtime those first few months!

The hardest moments were trying to figure out how to manage my time between my two girls – nursing Kate took so much of my time/energy and Annelise would be so sad and jealous of the amount of time I spent holding and nursing the baby. I experienced a ton of mommy guilt but my heart feels more settled now. I realized that I cannot be the perfect mommy to even one child so how could I possibly try to be the perfect mom to two!?

We have finally gotten into a rhythm and a routine. I can bathe both girls at the same time (woohoo!). Katelynn can eat real food now so I don’t have to fix two different meals for the girls. Katelynn and Annelise have started to play together and can entertain each other for short periods of time. Life is still very crazy/frantic but a bit more manageable.

It’s good to sit in quietude and reflect on how abundant my life is. I’m thankful for the sweet and funny moments like when Annelise is belting out a song and Katelynn is dancing to her sister’s random tune. My favorite part of the day is when all of us are laughing together because of something random and silly. That and when the kids are sleeping so I can finally catch a break!

Happy birthday to our sweet baby girl who has brought much laughter, giggles, dancing, and chaos to our family!

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You Are Beautiful

Lately I’ve been reflecting on the insidious message the media is giving to our youth regarding physical attractiveness. There are very dark, evil forces behind advertising, music videos, and films which bombard us daily and insinuate that women must look and act a certain way (i.e. a sexual way) in order to feel valued by others.

Having to raise two girls in this dangerous and fallen world is a heavy burden to bear. It’s all too easy to get caught up in this web of deception around us which seems harmless at first glance but upon further digging, you uncover the horror of the lies that the advertisers love to sell us. These lies have ruined the self-image of too many women and have given men a sense of entitlement to use and objectify women. Subsequently this has led to rampant sexual violence against women.

We have to fight against the status quo and uplift our children by telling them the truth. Only the truth will set us free. This is a reminder to me and a prayer for my girls:

You are beautiful not because of the size or shape of your eyes,

You are stunning not because of the size of your bust,

You are lovely not because of the length of your legs,

You are pretty not because of the width of your hips,

You are attractive not because of how luscious your lips are,

You are gorgeous not because of how thick your eyelashes are,

You are breath-taking not because of the brand you wear,

You are beautiful because God made you and created you in His image.

He gave you your own, unique, and very special facial features and body.

Embrace this God-given beauty.

Be proud of who you are – a child of God.

Nothing is more beautiful than knowing you are His eternally.

As Annelise would say – “Happy Bir-Bir!”

Last weekend we celebrated my older daughter Annelise’s 2nd birthday. I’m still in disbelief that my baby has somehow morphed into a walking, talking, jumping, giggly, bubble and balloon-loving, tantruming toddler. I never thought the day would come when she would sleep through the night. Well, now she sleeps from 8 pm to 8 am in her crib with the help of her bunny and her trusty thumb.

She has begun to string two words together – “more cracker”. She has started to actually play with other children and also engage in pretend play. She’ll pretend her bunny is a baby who asks her “hold hold?” and she’ll proceed to hold the bunny just like I hold her. She likes to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, especially the “howa howa” (“how I wonder”) parts.

She can be so sweet at times – hugging her baby sister tight. And darn right impossible at other times – yelling at the top of her lungs when she can’t do something exactly the way she wants it.

It’s been a bumpy road at times – especially when I was pregnant with Katelynn and so sick that I couldn’t even care for her. Our relationship only recently became stronger now that I’m no longer nauseous 24/7.

I am still waiting for the day she says, “I love you” back…but for now, I am totally smitten with the way she puckers her lips and blows pretend kisses when I say “Love you.”

It all goes by way too fast. So I try to remember this on sleepless nights with baby no. 2 who is still sleeping in bed with me at 6 months. I have to remember to enjoy the little moments and hold Katelynn tight before she starts crawling away from me!

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An Interrupted Life

Tonight is one of the rare nights I have time to sit, reflect, and write. One of the realities of being a mom is having an interrupted life.

Meal times are interrupted by a fussy baby who wants to be held to go to sleep. There’s no time to savor the flavors of a gourmet meal when your toddler starts to throw a tantrum because she’s bored in her high chair and wants to roam around the restaurant.

Most nights Katelynn hasn’t been sleeping till midnight due to excessive gas. And my sleep is interrupted by her constant stirrings and when her pacifier falls out, I have to retrieve it for her in order for her to fall back asleep.

Showers are interrupted by hysterical crying in the other room (Katelynn’s pacifier must have fallen out during her nap!).

Bathroom breaks are interrupted by my toddler who wants to just be with mommy.

Conversations are really difficult to have when you have two kids vying for your attention.

My life feels like a constant string of interrupted moments – interrupted by crying, diaper blow-outs, spit-up, temper tantrums, requests for water/milk/cereal/a book.

It’s so easy to get frustrated with the countless interruptions but I’m learning the art of letting go. Having a perpetual string of interruptions means being flexible, going with the flow, being okay with a messy house, being okay with not being able to cook gourmet meals every night, being okay with one of my kids crying because I only have one pair of hands.

My interrupted life forces me to let go of this idea of a what a perfect wife/mom should be. It forces me to acknowledge that I am desperately in need of God’s grace and His strength to just to make it to the end of a very long, draining day.

Mother’s Day & HG Awareness Day

This Mother’s Day, I am so grateful to be a mom of two, healthy HG miracle babies. Annelise is almost 22 months and Katelynn just turned 4 months! One of the things I learned when I underwent hyperemesis is that we cannot take our health for granted and that it is truly a blessing from the Lord to be healthy. I’m still so amazed that despite my 15-20 pound weight loss with each pregnancy, Annelise and Katelynn are both so healthy…and so big!

May 15th is HG Awareness Day. If you have the means, please consider giving the gift of a donation to an organization near and dear to my heart – the Hyperemesis Education Research (HER) foundation. www.helpher.org

I hope and pray that we can one day find a cure to this devastating disease so that pregnancy does not have to turn into a nightmare!

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Terrible Two’s?

Annelise is turning two in July but she’s already in full swing with the terrible two’s. What makes the terrible two’s so terrible is this funny combination of a never-ending curiosity about the world around them, their increasing desire for independence, and their lack of communication skills. Oh and not being able to reason with them.

How do you explain to a screaming toddler that their precious stuffed bunny is being washed in the laundry machine so I cannot give you Bunny right now? I’m sure in her mind she’s thinking – “OMG! My beloved bunny is drowning and Mommy hates me because she’s refusing to rescue Bunny from that funny, soapy water!”

Figuring out Annelise’s new language has been fun and challenging. “C” is cereal. “Fi” is gold fish. “Po” is Pororo. “Wa wa” is water. Annelise has been calling her stuffed bunny “Munny”. Huh?! How do you get “Munny” from “Bunny”? I have no idea but I’m glad I finally deciphered that word because she cannot sleep without “Munny.”

Her new favorite word is No. She says it with such adorable gusto that sometimes I can’t help but smile. Sometimes when I’m disciplining her and giving her my meanest stank-face possible, I have to bite my tongue to keep myself from busting out laughing because she’s staring back at me with such charming intention. Somehow, she manages to look cute even when she’s being completely unreasonable.

“Hold my hand please.”

“No!”

My daughter proceeds to throw herself onto the ground of the library parking lot and cries as if the world is ending.

“Did you poo poo?”

“No…”

I check her diaper and sure enough there’s poo. I cannot believe this child is lying to me already!

“Let’s do a diaper change.”

“No!”

Sometimes I play Pororo for her on my Iphone and she’ll comply with the diaper change. Sometimes I dig through my purse for some random knickknack that will distract her long enough during the diaper change. Other times, I just grit my teeth and force Annelise to the ground.

“Time to brush your teeth.”

“No!”

This is a nightly battle in which I have to hold Annelise’s arms down and shove the toothbrush in her mouth. It’s not an easy thing to do when your toddler is screaming her head off. As if she’s in pain. As if I’m torturing her by making sure she doesn’t get cavities.

“Do you want to go night-night?”

“No! No! No!”

She says this empathically while her body language unequivocally betrays her as she’s rubbing her eyes, sucking her thumb, and clinging onto her stuffed bunny.

The endless “no’s” can make for a very draining day. I can’t help but wish things could be easier – that she would be potty-trained or be able to feed herself completely. But then there are those little, precious moments which melt my heart. Like when Annelise gingerly wipes the baby’s mouth with a burp cloth. It’s so hilarious and at the same time just so sweet.

I never imagined how loving Annelise would be as a big sister. She has surprised me many times with how excited she gets when she sees Katelynn and calls her “Bay” and how much she wants to be near her and pat her hands and touch her head and give her little kisses. Lately she’s been quite fascinated with other babies when we go out. She’ll approach them with glee and say, “Hi” and proceed to pat them just like she pats Katelynn. It’s simply amazing. I am reminded to cherish these little moments because I know she will soon start talking in full sentences and soon she will no longer want mommy to hold her at the dinner table. I guess what I’m realizing is that the terrible two’s don’t seem too terrible in the grand scheme of things. In fact, I might look back on these days and remember them as simply terrific.

Curried Chicken Salad

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for curried chicken salad. The curry powder adds a kick and a punch to your average chicken salad. The grapes and apple add a delightful sweetness and the slivered almonds give this salad a wonderful crunchy texture. This recipe is great for when you have leftover cooked chicken. We love Costco’s Rotisserie chicken because it’s so moist and tender. I ended up using the leftover rotisserie chicken to make this curried chicken salad.

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Ingredients:

4 cups cooked diced chicken breast or thigh

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup plain yogurt

¼ cup red grapes, chopped into halves or quarters

¼ cup apple, chopped into bite-size pieces

¼ cup toasted almond slivers

1 stalk celery, chopped

Directions:

1)      Mix all ingredients into a bowl. You can substitute the mayo completely with yogurt if you’d like a healthier alternative. I like to do half mayo, half yogurt.

2)      Serve on your favorite bread or you can eat it as a salad by itself.

Easter, HG, and the Cross

It’s been ten years since I made the decision to become Christian as a junior in college. The Lord has been so faithful these past ten years – through many up’s and down’s, He has been gracious and has blessed me with so many things. I feel blessed to have endured and suffered hyperemesis twice because it has given me a greater appreciation for the cross which Jesus had to endure. The very physical and visceral suffering of Christ has been made all the more real because of my own experience with physical suffering. When Christ said, “I thirst”, I can imagine how utterly tired and dehydrated he must have been because I’ve experienced severe dehydration to the point of needing daily IV treatment. What I can’t imagine is having nails pierce the skin of my hands and feet. I also have caught a glimpse of how lonely the cross must have been and how betrayed Jesus must have felt that all of disciples fled when He needed them the most. HG is a most isolating and depressing disease and I have felt that deep sense of betrayal and abandonment from loved ones as well. The amazing thing about the cross is that Jesus knew how bad his physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering would be and yet He chose to endure the pain because it was the Lord’s will and because He knew his suffering had a higher purpose to bring salvation to all of humanity. To bring spiritual life to those who choose to believe in Christ. And in that sense, HG sufferers are called to suffer for a higher purpose as well. That without the pain of HG, the birth of a child would never happen. And this is the glory of suffering for others. This is the beauty of the cross.

Chicken Verde Quesadillas

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As a busy mom of two little ones, I’m always on the look-out for quick/easy/yummy recipes. Here’s a simple chicken verde quesadilla recipe that I tried for the first time tonight.

Ingredients: 

1 lb. cooked and sliced chicken breast or thigh

1 jar of green chiles

1 package of shredded pepper jack cheese

10-12 flour tortillas

Directions:

1) Melt butter in pan over high heat. Place a tortilla onto the hot pan.

2) Place shredded cheese onto tortilla. Then top with chicken and green chiles.

3) Fold the tortilla in half when the bottom of the tortilla is browned. The quesadilla is ready when the cheese is gooey and melted and the tortilla is brown and crisp.

4) Serve and enjoy with your favorite Mexican toppings. I love to put sour cream, salsa, and guacamole on my quesadillas!