On Motherhood…

Katie is due any day now, and as we anxiously await the arrival of Baby Boy Bruckner I can’t help but reflect on the past 14+ months I’ve spent as Mom (Ma or Mamama as she says) to sweet Elem.

My pregnancy with Elem was bittersweet.  I had just lost my Mom to cancer a couple of months before we found out. Elem was due in October…the month of my Mom’s birth, her wedding anniversary, and her death.  It was hard, and wonderful, and well like I said, bittersweet.  When I first saw Elem, I knew she was special…yeah I know, everyone thinks their kid is special, but this is different.  I knew from the start that some of my Mom’s soul was in there.  The best parts.  The beautiful blue eyes, the fierce determination, the smile she was wearing when she saw the world.  That was all my Mom.  She was optimistic.  Always smiling (except through some of our teen years, but you know).  A wonderful teacher.  Most of all she loved me with that fierce determination.  The one that allowed her to live 10 years past the deadline that doctors had given her.

So yeah, Elem was my gift.  She radiates with people.  She is funny (although she’s going to have to work on her material if she decides to take her comedic act on the road, because touching people’s noses and laughing hysterically probably won’t work once she’s an adult…but then again, who knows?)  She knows when I need a hug and promptly throws her arms around me.  She is the best.

There’s nothing like when she looks up at me with her blue eyes–red hair all a mess–graham cracker on her face–only one sock on because she took the other off and carried it around and left it somewhere that none of us know– and throws up her arms in the air to ask me to hold her.

I always do.  Because one day I might not be there to hold her when she needs it, but she will know I loved her with that fierce love.

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{Because really what my Mom taught me was urgency.  We should all have it for the people that matter in our lives.}

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Throwing a First Birthday Party!

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So, now that we’ve had some time to recover from Elem turning 1…I can talk about her party.  It took a while for us to finally take the decorations down, but with Katie’s shower coming up at my house I wasn’t sure she would appreciate a “tropical” baby shower theme (you’re welcome, Katie!)
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We knew from the start we didn’t want to have an over-the-top 1st Birthday party, but we also knew that that DOES NOT mean we couldn’t still decorate like we were having one!  We just had family and a few close friends come hang out for a while.  We love any excuse for tropical decor (hello…we already have a tiki bar in our 50’s split-level basement!) so this was a great excuse to pull out some decorations we already had and add some new ones.  We went with a loose “Gilligan’s Island” theme since we love all things 50’s-60’s and because we have one of the cutest ginger we’ve ever seen!  I acquired some gold lame leggings (for Elem, of course) and made her a little “S.S. Minnow” shirt to wear with them.  My favorite part was the tiny photo booth with an S.S. Minnow for the littles to stand in!  I also put some bowls of cheerios out for the littles…I had some rubber footed bowls which helped them not slide around everywhere and the kids loved this.  A real toddler ice-breaker!  We also had lots of delicious food, including Chinese style ribs (if you’ve been to Trader Vic’s you-know-what-I’m-talking-about).  They were delicious, as usual with anything my husband Jeff cooks!  The kids drank from tiny hibiscus print straw cups and adults got their choice of a coconut mug with fun silly straws!  You’re never too old for a silly straw, am I right?!

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We didn’t spend much on the party since we already had a good start on decor and I was able to make a lot of the decorations.  We were able to find most of our party goods online on the cheap.

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Things I made for the party:

-cardboard boat
-pinata style ‘e’ with streamers and cardboard
-“fish floats” with big balloons and decorative fish nets
-lots of small balloon “coconuts” for the fish netting and palm trees!
-up-cycled “palm trees” with packing material, green poster board, and balloon coconuts

Things we bought for the party:

-fish nets
-blow up palm tree (we couldn’t resist!)
-blow up fruit
-plastic coconut cups and hibiscus sippy cups for the kids
-paper fan decorations
-plates, napkins, etc.

Total Amount Spent:  give or take $120 (we spent about $80 on decor and $40 on food)

I still can’t believe my girl is ONE!  What a fun year!

{Elem’s} Eclectic Nursery

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My friend, Jodi Kendall,  is a wonderful writer who lives in NYC with her husband and their adorable son Townes.  A while back she asked to feature Elem’s nursery as a ‘Room Tour’ on her blog, where she shares everything from writing tips to baby product reviews.  Of course I said yes, and the story ran on her blog back in July.

I thought I’d share a little more here about the process of deciding how to decorate our nursery (when we didn’t know if we’d be having a boy or a girl) and how we pulled it all together to make the perfect home for sweet Elem.Mid-Mod Nursery

I started by making a general mood board with the Ikea crib and dresser we had already picked out.  The room actually ended up being pretty true to the original mood board, keeping our minty green wall color and adding pops of yellow throughout.  We wanted this room (this tiny room, the smallest of our 3 already small bedrooms) to have a lot of character and color without making it look cluttered and small.  My husband actually picked out the gray color for the crib (I almost fought for the natural one at Ikea, turns out, he was right…you know, just this one time) and then we thought the dresser was a nice mix of modern and kid-friendly (read: easy to clean and soft shut drawers).  We ended up getting all our big furniture at Ikea, the crib, dresser, rug, and floor lamp.  Now we had to make it not look like an Ikea catalogue in there…so we brought in some of our favorite vintage collections and some quirky small furniture.

Here are a few images of the room as it was coming together.  (At that precise moment of not knowing if it will ever, in fact, come together and yet knowing that a baby is going to live here in like two months…thank goodness for nesting.)
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This started the final phase of getting the nursery ready:  wall art placement and wall decor and my big plans for making my own roller shade.  Once the wall art was placed and we started “merchandising” the room (my favorite part, always and forever) I knew whether our baby was a boy or a girl, this was their room.  Turns out, it fits Elem’s personality pretty perfectly!  Here are more pictures of the finished room >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
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A year later and Elem still loves her room!  It is small, fun, and packed with personality…just like my Bean!
{Check out the story on Jodi’s blog to see some sources for furniture and decor!}

Right Now {Elem’s} Loving…

Here are some things Elem and I are currently loving!  She is a mere 6 days away from being one (WHAT?!), so she’s a pretty busy lady…her days are filled with climbing, eating reading books, pushing anything around, dancing, and taking her first steps.

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We’re loving:

*Finger Foods!  Elem is obsessed with feeding herself.  Her favorites are chicken, turkey, pasta with marinara sauce, lima beans, peas, carrots, beets and watermelon.  She is going to be devastated when she finds out watermelon season is over, the poor thing…luckily she has just discovered beets and is OBSESSED!

*Anything With Wheels!  Anything she can push around, she’s there!  She loves her wood wagon walker (a thrift store score for $3 with a ton of blocks included), and her Ladybug Wheelybug (these are so fun! they roll smoothly and although later she can ride on it she loves pushing it around right now).  {IKEA has an adorable modern wagon pictured above for around $20}

*Aden & Anais Blankets!  Elem loves these soft muslin single layer blankets.  I let her sleep with hers because they are breathable.  I tie hers into knots so that she can’t get it wrapped around her neck at night, and she loves to snuggle with that knotted up thing.  (Doubles as a nose-wiper during the night if-you-know-what-i-mean…ha, so we wash often and have extras!)
{I have only bought these on sale since they are pricey for the set, around $50…look for price changes on Amazon and good deals on Diapers.com for these!}

*Colorful Wooden Blocks!  The girl loves to carry a block or two around with her.  She’s really into multitasking!
{IKEA has a great affordable selection of colorful wood toys!}

*Jellycat Plush Toys!  These soft plush toys, especially their “Cordy-roy” series, are among Elem’s favorites.  She just can’t get enough of her Dino-Roar (dinosaur) or George Jones (lion) or Cleo the Cat!  A British brand, Jellycat is known for it’s quality and softness and they won’t break the bank!  They’re available in small, medium, and large sizes…with the medium being the perfect stuffed animal size and the small ideal for tiny hands in the car seat!
{Amazon and Diapers.com are both great for these, they run around $24 for the medium size!}

*BlaBla Knit Dolls!  I have to say, these are my favorite, but Elem loves them too!  She especially loves Willie Nelson, her bunny…and doesn’t go on a trip without him (he’s been to Cincinnati, Jekyll Island, Epcot, the zoo…you name it and Willie was there)!  These are quite pricey, but I view them as more of an heirloom toy.  To boot, they are also all sustainably handknit in Peru.  They are knit from cotton and have so much personality!  I love picking these out for Elem and they make a wonderful baby gift!  {BlaBla runs sales through their Instagram, so be sure to follow them there!  Sign up for their mailing list too so you’ll know when they have a warehouse sale or special promo…this is the best way to get a great deal on amazing dolls! www.blablakids.com }

DISCLAIMER:  These are not sponsored posts!  These are things that Elem truly loves and that we use on a daily basis in our household…we own a version of everything listed in the photo and they are all wonderful products!