Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Audrey's 3rd birthday: AKA Hello Kitty Fest

I really had every intention of keeping Audrey's third birthday party simple – I cut the guest list to just family and close family friends and three weeks before the date, had successfully planned nothing. But then the "Happy Birthday, Hello Kitty" napkins arrived, and Audrey was so, so, so excited. We had to look at them every night and each time, her face just lit up. And that's when I knew my plans had changed.

The Winter "One"derland and Rainbow birthday parties were for me. But this Hello Kitty party was all for her. That's when I decided – if we were going to do Hello Kitty, we were going to do it right.

The Food
I stuck with appetizers again, because they are easy and yummy. The menu – pigs in a blanket, smoked sausage, barbeque meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, pasta salad, orzo salad, cream cheese pinwheels, manchego cheese and fig tarts, caprese skewers and a fruit tray.

The menu labels I made:

The Dessert
Like always, we got our dessert from Aunt Mary's Cakes Cookies and Cupcakes, and like always, it was rather delicious.

The cupcakes:

The cake:

The cake pops:

The cookies:

The Decorations
While the party decor changes each year to go with the theme, everything seems to follow a script. I always decorate the dining room wall, do a tissue paper number, have menu labels, do a similar menu, have cup party favors for the kids, etc. Because, well, if it ain't broke...

This year, I did add one new decor to the party though – the mantle.

It showcased signs I made...

...and was a fabulous photo backdrop:

I even used it as the background for cupcake photos:

Party Favors
Like usual, I did cups for the kids. While this can be pricey, the lack of spills is worth it to me. I got these at Target, and got Thomas ones for the boys.

I also picked up some kitty ears, because I thought they'd be so cute for photos.

The Tissue Paper Tradition Continues
I plan to do this every year. These are seriously some of my favorite photos.

It's just such a fun tradition to have.

The party was a blast, and most importantly, Audrey had so much fun. It was all so worth it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Something new to decorate

I have until mid-January, but Audrey's doll house for her birthday is now built! Now it's time to paint and decorate!!!


Thanks to my crazy work schedule right now, I might have all my Christmas decorations up by next Christmas.

At least everything is out and taunting me, right?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday

I won't lie, it's my favorite day of the year. I'm a sucker for deals, so I feel this day was made for me. And with all the amazing online deals now, I'm not even leaving the house.

I've been enjoying Amazon's lightning deals for the last month, but they've been especially amazing the last several days.

I got the Lego movie for $3.95. 

The Matilda Jane Veranda dress for $20. (And maybe a pair of leggings and shorties two days ago. And a dress for myself).

The Land of Nod Princess and the Pea Toddler Sheet set for $41.50.

While this deal was only 15% off with free shipping, I know this is probably the best deal I'll get for this, Audrey desperately needs a sheet set.

I'll be watching Amazon throughout the day as well (Calico Critter tree house at 1pm!), but since Audrey's list is already addressed, I'm not super concerned.

4:42 pm edit: I did end up getting the Calico Critter Adventure Tree House. On Amazon, it was originally $69.99, and during the lightning deal it was $34.99. There is no way I can say no to that.

What deals did everyone else score?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Purge: The Entryway

Living in an older home means making the best out of minimal storage. In my house, there are no walk-in pantries, walk-in closets, bathroom linen closets, fabulous closets in the bathroom or spacious garages.

But my house does have one amazing storage feature going to it: double entryway closets.

That's right. Eat your heart out.

Since they are pretty much the only storage we have on the main floor, they are used often, for a hodge-podge of items and get messy quickly – so of course they were on my purge 2014 list.

Closet 1: The coat closet


I wanted to maintain this closet as a seasonal closet. I went through it several months ago and donated a lot of items, so this time around it was mainly about organizing. I even brought Audrey's coats and snowsuit down from her closet, to join in the fun.


And I even have room at the top of the closet for additional goodies.

Closet 2: The pantry/storage/cleaning closet


This is the closet that I've had difficulty closing on more than one occasion. As you can see, things just sort of fall out when you open it. This is our catchall closet, and while I didn't want to change that – I knew there was a bunch to say goodbye to.

First off, I knew we had a lot of cleaning supplies, but holy geez.

Once I ditched some of those, I decided the shelf of cleaning supplies needed some order.

I know a lot of people keep kitchen and bathroom cleaning supplies, well, in their kitchen and bathrooms – but until Audrey is older, I'd prefer them nice and high up with all the other cleaning products.

I'm really happy with the new system, and I think it will be easy to stick to, as everything has a home...a very obvious home.

Other items that received containers were items I had in bulk: light bulbs, small light bulbs, baking decorations and Yankee candles.


And a terrible iPhone photo of an angle I cannot capture on my camera:

I love that my brooms and mops are now hanging up. Now I don't have to worry about a random broom attacking me. You can't see it but a broom and two dust mops are hanging up on the frontside of the closet.

Such an easy weekend project that made such a huge difference.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An update on yours truly

As you may recall, I'm a post-partum cardiomyopathy survivor. This is a fancy way of saying, I'm a mom who went into congestive heart failure during pregnancy, almost died and is still living with heart failure. You can find my PPCM story here and you can read about my exciting pacemaker/defibrillator journey here.

I had my one year post-implant cardiology appointment yesterday. It was a 3.5 hour, emotionally draining appointment.

First, I met with the pacemaker reps, who checked my readings for the last 8 months. I didn't realize what an invasive feeling that would be. It's just heart rhythm charts, but it's your heart story from the last 8 months. It's weird. Then when only halfway through, the rep found something interesting...and called another rep in. (Always, a comforting thing).

Then I was asked what I did on July 19th, as I had some "noise" in the morning. This freaked me out, because I have trouble remembering what I did the day before. Then I realized I didn't even know what "noise" was. After learning, noise is an external force that sends warning type signals to defibrillators, I didn't feel any better. What the hell was I doing? Was I drunk and playing with metal detectors? And while I knew that wasn't the case (as classy ladies do not get drunk in the morning and I have no access to a metal detector), that's all I could think about when the rep figured it out.

"This is completely random, but did you happen to be swimming or at Lake of the Ozarks?"

And that's when I remembered. Brent, Audrey and I went up to Stockton Lake that day to go sailing with some family friends. That morning, while the boat was being cleaned – we were swimming in the marina. Apparently, while I had happy memories of this day, my defibrillator reported a different story – as it was picking up faulty electricity on somebody's boat. I was assured that while I was fine this time around, I could very well get shocked the next time. Awesome.

Then came my least favorite part, my device going through all its rhythm options. My device is fancy and offers 12 different heart rhythm/pacing options. (Well, really 11 now, because one them brought my to the ER because the wire is on a nerve causing me to spasm every 10 seconds. Just a tad awkward for day-to-day functioning). The rhythm test lasts about 5 minutes, and in that time your heart beat keeps on changing. It's strange and it leaves me exhausted several hours later. But I'm now rocking a completely new heart I guess that's exciting?

Next came my appointment with Dr. M. I'll be honest, I've been dreading this appointment because I haven't been feeling better lately. I've actually been more tired, lowish-energy, dizzy, lightheaded and out of breath than usual. With heart failure, these are not good symptoms to acquire. His solution was increasing the dosage of the only medicine I wasn't maxed out on. But he wanted to see what my echo would bring.

I spent the 30-minute echo preparing for the worst and trying not to cry.

And then Dr. M came back into my room, and told me something I never expected to hear.

"Your results are great. Actually outstanding. You're at 50-55%, and in healthy heart function."

I processed this for a few seconds, and then started sobbing some ugly tears. Of the PPCM survivors who do recover, the majority recover within the first year. That first year I only recovered 6%, followed by 11% the second year. The fact that I went up 15-20% my third year is just unbelievable.

As for my unfavorable side effects, I'm on too much medication now. The new plan is to divide my medications between day and night and see if that helps at all. Cutting back on medications too soon is a risky way to relapse, so that is a last case scenario.

There's no guarantee I'll get all my energy back or feel like old self ever again. And I'll probably be on medications the rest of my life. But I now have a normal life expectancy, and my pacemaker/defibrillator surgery now feels completely worth it.