Year in Review… Where Did the Time Go?

You guys… what a year! And what in the time warp? My daughter, Aria, turned one and I can hardly believe the transformation that she’s made in just that short a time. I know people say time flies but I literally just gave birth to her yesterday. How is she already a year old? Well, over the year, as you know, I’ve given here a different career every month to encourage her to imagine, play and dream big. Here’s that year in review.

One Month Old – Fairy

Two Months Old – Diva/Social Butterfly

Three Months Old – Baker

Four Months Old – Ballerina

Five Months Old – Cheerleader

Six Months Old – Astronaut

Seven Months Old – Fashion Designer

Eight Months Old – Pediatrician

Nine Months Old – News Anchor

Ten Months Old – Conservationist and Safari Guide

Eleven Months Old – Writer Good Morning Toes

Twelve Months Old – Service – Firefighter, Police Officer, Marine

Thank you for watching her journey and encouraging her for greatness. Even though the picture series is over, cultivating her imagination never is. Always tell your kids how great they are and that nothing is impossible.

XOXO 💋

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Aria in Onederland

My Bug just turned one and let me tell you, what an event it was. I had the most fun celebrating her and with her. As a crafty, EXTRA, mom (I told ya’ll I’m very extra) I had to everything and do everything big. We are in Texas after all. So this post is dedicated to everything Aria… in Onederland.

Good Morning Toes

I just wrote my first book! You can pre-order it today!! Thank you for encouraging me to dream big and be creative every day, even in play!

I think as a parent, it’s extremely important to teach our kids that the sky is the limit. They can be anything that they can dream. So each and every month, I put my daughter into a different profession so that one day she can look back and see just where her imagination can take her. She’s 11-months-old now and in that same spirit, I made her a writer. As a matter of fact – since shes been born, we’ve been working on a book that highlights our cute morning routine. Every morning we stretch and play before we start our day, so I invite you to explore her very first published work, Good Morning Toes.

This “time-to-get-up” story is a fun opposite of a bedtime story. Good Morning Toes is a light-hearted and fun way to wake up different parts of your body through active movement. It also teaches your child different body parts, while allowing them to stretch and play.

With fun illustrations and easy to incorporate movement, everyone will have a blast waking up their bodies each and every day.

Little Miss Aria Cook is a true Texas baby, she enjoys being outside and taking leisurely strolls with her huskies Hachiko and Kekoa. When she isn’t playing or reading her favorite books, she takes time to soak up warm snuggles with Mom and Dad.

Aria plugging away on her next book!

In Honor of National Cookie Day – Snickerdoodles

So today is National Cookie Day and we loooooove a good cookie. Here’s to an oldie but always a goodie… Snickerdoodles. This is how we make them:

Ingredients

For the cookie:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, plus 1 yolk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 3/4 cups of flour

For the cinnamon sugar:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. In a mixer, mix butter, sugar, and light brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg, yolk, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Add flour and mix until just combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, make cinnamon sugar by mixing the cinnamon and sugar together until evenly combined.
  6. Using a mini ice cream scooper, scoop out cookie dough and roll into a dough ball. Then roll the ball around the cinnamon sugar mixture until coated.
  7. Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden.
  8. Let cool for a couple of minutes (we like warm cookies in this house) and then…

…in the words of that smart guy Cookie Monster, “EAT COOOOOKIESSS!!! Nom. Nom. Nom.”

Enjoy.

Coping with Separation Anxiety… How to Do It

So I recently had to go away for a work trip and leave my baby with my husband and her grandmother. Now, I’ll tell you, this has absolutely nothing to do with my husband’s ability to care for our child (he did great – a little more about that later) or my mother’s knack for giving her treats that are too advanced for her age – isn’t that what grandma’s do? It totally has to do with me and what I didn’t expect to happen to me – but it did. Dunh dunh dunnnnhhhhh…. separation anxiety.

Y’all. I have a great village. You don’t even understand, an absolutely phenomenal village. A host of family, friends, cousins, play cousins, pretend aunts, best friends and the like, all vying for a chance to take care of Aria. It’s a beautiful thing. There isn’t a moment that I think she won’t be taken care of if I have to go somewhere or, God forbid, the worst happens. The girl is set in terms of love and care. I trust and believe that on my heart and soul.

But, I had to leave her. I was good leading up to the trip, but the closer the trip got, the more I began to dread the inevitable. As I began to pack up her things – three bags to be exact – one for grandma’s house, one for dad when he travels with her to meet me, and one to bring with me on the trip for when she arrives – the anxiety got worse and worse. I kept telling myself to keep it together. Keep it together. The next thing I knew, it was time for me to go. Oh. My. Gosh. What do I do?

Don’t leave me Mommy.

Do you see that face? It’s like she knew I was leaving her and couldn’t believe I could be so heartless. I’m smiling on the outside and a complete basket case on the inside. As soon as I put her back in the car seat and stepped away from her, the tears began to flow and the doubts began to flood my mind. Will she still love me just as much as before? Will she remember me? Is she going to be angry at me that I left her? Will they take good care of her? What if something happens and I’m in an entirely different country? How fast can I get home? Will Dad be able to travel well with her? What if she has a meltdown on the airplane? What if she can’t pop her ears? WHAT IF THE PLANE CRASHES????

Can you see the rabbit hole that I was falling into without any sort of safety harness. It was complete madness. Here’s what I did to cope.

1. Just breathe. Stop. Take a step back and relax. It’s going to be OK. It really is. I promise. Aria has a great community surrounding her, as I mentioned before, so I remembered that so many people love her and will gladly throw themselves in moving traffic to protect her. So she’s probably safer with them than I am on the trip. She’s good to go. Realizing that, brought me from a level 30 to a level 25. So if you’re in the same situation, understand that your village has your back – and more importantly – your little’s back.

2. Have plenty of memory material. This was a saving grace. I promise, with no shame whatsoever, that I looked at the same 4 or 5 pictures of Aria at least (and this is no exaggeration) 50 times a day. Put the pictures with the smiles and the videos of the coos and laughs in heavy rotation. Just seeing her face and hearing her voice made me feel closer to her. Level 25 to 15.

3. Stash a toy. I took one of Aria’s toys with me on my trip. Did I want to play with it. Nope. It just smelled like her. Every time I closed my eyes, I would take a deep breath of her in. It was almost like I was nuzzling her. When you need a cuddle of your baby and she’s (or he’s) not there in person, this was the next best thing for me. It really did work wonders. I even slept with it. There’s no shame in my game.

4. FaceTime. However, you need to video chat do that. I have an iPhone so FaceTime works best for me. But if you have a different channel of communication, use whatever gets you in front of your little by live video. They’ll be so happy to see you and vice versa. While I was on with Aria, I told her about my day. I let her know that I missed her and would see her soon. FaceTiming did a couple of things; it gave me an opportunity to see her AND it reinforced the fact that she was being well taken care of by the village.

5. Get busy. Don’t sit around and mope. The saying is true – time flies when you’re having fun. So you may not initially feel like a party, get out there and do something. Whether it’s work or play, if you get immersed in activity, you’ll look up and the day will be over. Now you’re one day closer to getting back to your baby.

6. Anticipate your reunion. The closer it got for us to get back together, the more excited you’re going to be. I promise for me it was like waiting for Christmas. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, the day I was back with her. My husband showed up with her at the hotel and I literally ran through the hotel and out the doors to the shuttle. I was overwhelmed with emotion and was so happy. It was almost like I had just given birth again. The joy. The happiness. The love.

I was so proud of myself for getting through my first trip away from my daughter. It made me feel confident that I could do it again – which I will have to do in the near future and will have to go through all these steps again. But I’m prepared. And I’m not ready. LOL. Sigh. Good luck.

xoxo

Babies, Bows, and Butterflies 🦋

My daughter loves to explore everything around her. She is a virtual sponge, even at 4-months old. She is so alert and attentive, I’m always so shocked that her attention span is greater than 30 seconds.

So for our family activity, we decided to go to the Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston. To let her see the butterflies and see if they might like her enough to try to land on her. If they did, I would hope that she wouldn’t try to eat one. These days everything is hand to mouth. Luckily, they only flew nearby and we never had to have a butterfly emergency. Tiny meltdown, yes. Eaten butterflies, no.

She got all the compliments. There was even another baby there that lost quick interest in the butterflies and only had eyes for her. Step back little Romeo… no boys allowed until she’s 45. Her bow looked like a butterfly and so she fit right in. Join us on our journey.

Outfit Details:
👗 My dress: Diane von Furstenberg (old)
👕 Her Outfit: Cat & Jack by Target
🎀 Her Bow: Little Lopers

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Getting ready to go to the butterfly museum.
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Daddy, what are all of these things flying around. They look like my bow!
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Daddy, is that a fairy? No, Bug. It’s a butterfly. Tiny and beautiful… just like you.
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Weeeeeeee, mama. I can fly just like them.
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She’s so alert and pays attention to every little detail. Here, Daddy points out a small black and red butterfly.
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Mama, I want to be a butterfly.
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Snack break.
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In the middle of a meltdown. It happens folks. She was not a happy camper after a while. So we had to take a break in the middle. Hey, babies cry – even in the midst of such beauty.
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Happy again. Me and my family.
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Thanks to the Cockrell Butterfly Center for a great family day out!

Dazzling on Date Night

So in a previous post I talked about keeping the romance going after the baby. Well, I try to take my own advice- mostly.

This is one of those times. So I grabbed up my hubs and took him for a night out on the town. And I feel like I looked pretty damn good doing it too. Check me out.

You can get the dress here.

Surviving Shots. Not the Baby, Mom. You.

This post is about you brave mom warrior. Ok maybe you’re not so brave on that two month visit when little one has to get her first shots ever. Oh the horror.

It’s going to be ok. — All moms everywhere

That’s what I was saying all the way up until we arrived at the pediatrician’s office. You got this. It’s no big deal. I was sweating bullets. But you see that face. That’s the face of a baby that has the whole “shot thing” licked. I should’ve asked her for the advice from the get go. But nooo… here I am in a not-so-confident voice trying to encourage her. Do you find yourself relating yet? Keep reading.

It started off good. Check her temp. Measure her head. Get her weight. So on and so forth. Not bad at all. This is a piece of cake. Ha!

Then out the nurse comes with the needles. Dun, dun, dunnnnnnn. That many? Holy crap. I think I need a drink. Margarita anyone? Oh that’s right, not for me. I’m breastfeeding so I’ll take it like a weeny. I don’t think I can look. Oh, but I have to because guess what – I have to hold the poor kid down. So I did. And in a snap – it was over. What you say? It’s finished? She barely cried at all. Are you sure it’s over? Whew! That was easy. Now let’s make like a shepherd and get the flock out.

So here we go moms… the juice. What I promised from the beginning –

Five Ways to Get Through Vaccines

  1. Calm Down. So it really, really does hurt you more than it hurts them. See the image above where she’s sleeping, yeah that’s about 3 minutes after the deed. They are more surprised by what Just happened than hurt by it. So they may cry for about 30 seconds. So take five good deep breaths and get on with it. Get off the ledge. No need to jump.
  2. Turn on some tunes. The nurse won’t mind. It may help to ease the baby. It will definitely help ease you. So whether you’re a “I woke up like this” kinda mom (or dad), a “lucky for you that what I like” finger snapper, or a “don’t stop believing” shower belter – put it on. A little Hall and Oates never hurt nobody. It’ll get you grooving and bring you down a couple of levels.
  3. Go ahead and cry. If you’re one of those wish washy parents (hey – no judgement here) go ahead and let it out. Take a minute, she’s your tear, and just get it out. Then throw on your soldier rag and get down to business. Even Wonder Woman has a meltdown or two. It’s OK.
  4. Don’t count the needles. Counting them freaked me out pretty good. “You’re going to stick her how many times?” It’s best if you just trust them. They’ve done this a million times already, just that morning. They have you covered. Sure ask your questions – you’d be crazy not to – but don’t count. It’ll just take you back to number three.
  5. Take a sip. AFTER the appointment. Please don’t drink and drive folks. If you need a glass of wine for your whine, go ahead and have one. Just make sure you time it right if you’re breastfeeding. Don’t get your precious bundled all liquored up because YOU couldn’t handle her/his shots. And do t go crazy with it. Your baby getting shots is not a viable reason for a hangover tomorrow. And let’s face it, drunkenness is so not cute anyway.

So there you have it. My tips on how to get through your baby’s first shots. Wasn’t that easy? I told you it would be.

Now let me work on the list of how to handle that mustard seedy goodness shooting out of your tiny package – all over your Chanel, or Michael Kors, or clean Gap tee. Clean up on aisle six…

Go Ahead and Have the Chocolate. You deserve it.

There’s ALWAYS room for dessert. Oh, don’t give me that “you can’t eat cupcakes because your diet” foolishness. You can eat this. And you should.

If you want a truly decadent chocolate cake or cupcake (however you feel like pouring the patter in the tin), this recipe is for you. And don’t worry about the calorie count. There are a lot of them. But everything in moderation. Don’t sit there and eat the whole batch. Share.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°. Sift together all your dry ingredients – minus the sugar (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder).
  2. Add bittersweet chocolate.
  3. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
  4. Beat in vanilla and then buttermilk.
  5. Add flour and beat until smooth.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 16 minutes (for cupcakes) and 30 minutes (for cakes) depending on your oven. Those baking times can vary. When your toothpick comes out clean, your cakes are ready.

This recipe yields about a dozen cupcakes or one 8″ round.

To garnish, I used strawberries because the red gives a really pretty contrast to the chocolate cake and buttercream.

(To make the chocolate buttercream blend a half cup of butter, with a half cup of shortening, three cups of confectioner’s sugar, a quarter cup of cocoa powder, and one tsp of vanilla. Pipe onto your finished cupcakes and decorate as you like.)

ChocStraw

Insanely Gorgeous Summer Tables… On the Cheap

Don’t you love it when you pass by Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel and you see those beautifully set tables. I do. I always think to myself, I want my table to look like that. So one day I did it. Here’s how:

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The first thing is I decided what theme I wanted. Since it’s warm out, I wanted something bright and pretty. So I decided on a pastel floral theme. And I’m obsessed with this gold flatware that we got as a wedding gift from Crate and Barrel – so I knew I would be incorporating that. I think Target (pronounced Targé) has a less expensive version in their home section, so if you’re pinching the pennies, go for that.

This is what you have to do:

  1. Decide your theme. Already discussed… moving right along.
  2. Check around your house. Chances are you already have most of the elements that you need sitting around the house. Those fake flowers sitting on the coffee table that are gathering dust, grab those. The birthday party decorations that you shoved in the attic that you wondered what you would do with after the party, yep, go through that too. Check out these cool Ikea lanterns that we had leftover from our engagement party nearly three years ago.img_4685.jpg
  3. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. Use unconventional containers as accents and other decorative elements. For example, my flower display sits on one of my cake stands. IMG_4697
  4. Use color and cool patterns! I can’t stress this one enough. Color draws the eye and just makes everything so much prettier. The patterns make them interesting. I used color from the flowers and bowls and patterns from the plates and chargers. I also threw in a little texture from my glasses. img_4686
  5. Use candles. The soft glow can’t be beat! Again, I repurposed some fake ones that we had from our engagement party. I prefer real ones, but these old tealights were handy. If you do use real one, just remember to keep them out of the way of the kiddos and to blow them out when you’re done.
  6. Use cool placemats and napkins. I had to buy mine. But they were el-cheapo from Targé. Also, don’t foget to add tiny touches and personal details. I wrote sweet little messages and stuck them inside butterfly placecard holders.
  7. Arrange it all together and you have your very own fancy tablescape – on a dime!!!

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