The Story of You: Lena's Baby Book

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I once read that every picture tells a story. For me, my daughter’s story is one I want to remember always. Since the moment she was born, I’ve become acutely aware of how quickly time passes. How these moments are fleeting. And how I want to preserve these memories for as long as I possibly can. Thankfully, the ever popular photo sharing application, Instagram, allowed me to easily document many of our precious, fleeting moments from the past 15 months. And now, I have easily collected these memories within the most beautifully designed baby book by Artifact Uprising.

"We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone." - Katie Thurmes, Co-Founder of Artifact Uprising 

We live in a day and age where storing photos requires less (physical) space. We can now easily capture and carry our images within a device small enough to fit our pocket, which is very different from how I grew up. I remember the days where I would sit on my living room floor, flipping the pages to family photo albums filled with little square shaped memories captured by the then popular Polaroid camera. I can still smell both the glue and the plastic covering from the self adhesive sheets within. Call me old fashioned, or I’d like to think nostalgic, but I much prefer physical prints over that digital device. 

It’s no surprise then that after stumbling upon the company, Artifact Uprising, I immediately ordered a set of the square prints using the photos I’ve shared through Instagram. Branded as “off your device, into your life”, this set easily converted digital squares from my little insta-space into high quality prints, complete with a textured matte finish.

Off your device, into your life.™

I wanted an album to not only store the prints but that would also be the perfect keepsake for other sentimental items I held on to, including ultrasounds, cards etc. The coordinating baby book by the same company is just that. Featuring a premium fabric cover from four color combos with an embossed title, “Here Begins the Story of You”, this photo journal transformed those little square prints into an heirloom quality keepsake that beautifully tells the story of my daughter’s first year.

The “Story of You” baby book follows a month-by-month format for the first 12 months but with open ended prompts that allowed me to easily narrate my daughter's story. Also included: an envelope insert for storing congratulatory cards from family and friends, templates designed for letters to your little one, a pen, and small adhesive strips for securing the prints. It was such a special experience putting this baby book together with Lena and I look forward to the day where she will be sitting on the living room floor, flipping through the pages of her story.

Find more about this baby book here and take 10% off your purchase through November 11th with code HOF10AU.

Shared in partnership with Artifact Uprising. All content and opinions are my own.

Budget Friendly First Birthday Party

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A baby's first birthday is a huge milestone worth celebrating; however, when I started planning Lena's first, I soon found the expense growing. For me, it was not worth breaking the bank. Between delicious dessert and darling decor, I'm sharing budget friendly alternatives we used to celebrate her "magical" day.

Keep it close.

We kept the guest list small and invited close family and friends. We sent out around 10 invitations through a more affordable option, email. Although I prefer to snail mail pretty paper goods (hello hand lettering opportunity), the design combined with the cost from Paperless Post was too good to pass up. The company also offers the option to purchase a single paper invite as a keepsake for only $5.

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Host at your home.

In addition to hosting at your home (if you are able to), use everything available in your living space to entertain for it. We set up a drink station across the surface of a bookcase in our entry room, along with desserts and light snacks in our dining room. The serving dishes, many of which were from Target or Home Goods, I had collected over the years. For cups and plates, however, we opted for a disposable kind (cups here and plates here) that also doubled as decor.

I was originally inspired by one of Lena's handmade toys, a unicorn doll, for the theme of her birthday party so naturally we included it as part of the decor.

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Do-it-yourself decor.

Want a lot of bang for your decorating buck? Balloons and blooms! I grabbed a handful of eucalyptus and daisy bouquets for around $3-$5 each from our trusted Trader Joes. My favorite budget friendly decor find though was this cloud like balloon arch.

When I originally researched the balloon arch, I received quotes anywhere from $75-$150. So you can imagine the excitement to my DIY heart when I stumbled upon this balloon arch decorating strip for five bucks! This combined with two packs of white latex balloons (a pack of 15 count 12 inch and a pack of 20 count 9 inch) and 30 minutes of your time (with no helium required) equals DIY done right. All for under $15! For a little added "magical" flair, I paired a gold banner from Jollity & Co. with the balloon arch and attached moon and star shaped mylar balloons to her highchair.

Dessert on a dime.

If you are a skilled baker, then this is an area where you can really save some money. If you are like me, however, baking a cake is not your strong suit. Admittedly, because of this much of our budget was allocated toward enlisting the services of a small local bakery famous for macarons, Hummingbird Macarons & Desserts.

To keep the cost down, we ordered a (relatively simple) six inch buttercream cake with a small assortment of "magical" themed cupcakes, cookies and of course macarons!

Above all, our favorite part of the day was the time we spent with family and friends while reflecting back on our daughter's first year of life.

Invitations: Paperless Post // Desserts: Hummingbird Macarons // Party Decor: Jollity & Co. // Cake Topper: Seabright // Letterboard: Letterfolk // Unicorn Doll: Dainty Cheeks

Routine + Wean: Healthy Sleep Habits for Baby (and You)

Many of us spend 8 or so hours asleep per night - practically a third of our life. It's no surprise then the impact it has when we go without it, something us parents with newborns know all too well.

While traveling a couple of weeks ago, a conversation with a woman sparked this interest to share more of my experience with sleep after baby. She informed me that her youngest child was 3 years old and sleeping through the night. She was shocked by my response that my daughter, at one year of age, too sleeps through the night - around 11-12 hours straight - and has been since six months old. She told me that I was "lucky." Perhaps. I also believe that some of the habits I practiced in those first six months helped us all start sleeping more soundly at night.

Before going further, I should preface that this is not meant to be a catch all, sleep training solution. Every baby and every parent is different. I personally do not believe in full on cry it out sleep training (to each his or her own right?) and full disclosure, I did not follow one particular method. The intent is to share more about my experience with what worked for us.

Routine

As I was preparing for the end of maternity leave, I knew we needed a schedule to help balance the demands of an infant and the 40 plus hours of work each week. I researched a lot about infant sleep and noticed a common theme: Routine.

I found from everything I read that babies thrive with routine. It helped us new parents thrive just as equally. We follow what I call the "B" routine - Bath, Bottle, Book, then Bed. I tweaked ours however to include "Bonding" time, where I rock and sing to Lena after the book until she gets sleepy. Although rocking to sleep can often be associated as a sleep crutch (more to come on that), I selfishly included this as part of our bedtime ritual because I get so little time with her during the week.

Wean

Not to be mistaken for weaning from breast or bottle feeding (I recommend continuing to feed your baby as instructed by your Pediatrician), wean in this context refers to gently removing the dependency, commonly known as a sleep crutch or prop, your baby needs from you in order to sleep. These include swings, rocking to sleep, and nursing (other than for hunger) to sleep. For Lena, it was the paci.

We used the pacifier in the first couple of months because of the research linking it to a reduced risk of SIDS. However, while transitioning to the crib between 3-4 months of age, Lena regressed in sleeping through the night. She went from sleeping anywhere between 6-7 hours straight each night the month before to waking every 2-3 hours at night. We soon discovered it was because the pacifier would fall out and she needed it in order to soothe herself back to sleep.

Remember that mention of "rocking to sleep"? There is a solution that not only helped us wean the paci but also prevented our bonding time in the bedtime routine from becoming a sleep prop: putting baby to bed sleepy but NOT sleeping. I remember at first thinking this was crazy advice when I read about it, yet it truly worked for us.

Sleep changes so much with every milestone throughout the first year (hello development of separation anxiety); yet, these habits are ultimately what helped us regain our much needed rest at night. Any other habits or tips that helped you and your baby sleep at night?

Photography: Shannon Moffit // Mobile: Baby Jives & Co // Rocking Chair: Nursery Works Sleepytime Rocker // Crib: Joy Baby Crib by Bratt Decor // Swaddles + Crib Sheet: aden + anais