Your First Birthday PARTY

On Sunday, December 15, 2013 our family and friends alike gathered at a small hall in Fort Saskatchewan to celebrate your first birthday!

Even though there had been freezing rain the night before, and some people chose not to brave the highways (it was outside of the city), we still had a great turn out and a fabulous time celebrating you, little one. About 30 people showed up, and we had a wonderful time!

We stuck with a simple theme – pink and green polka dots – and laid out a simple spread of snackin’ foods. There was a guestbook – one of my (many) favourite pictures of you blown up and surrounded by a frame for all to sign. There was a time capsule, filled with blank cards, for all your family and friends to fill out with wishes, advice, and kind words for you to read on your 18th birthday. Your Dad and I will keep this box safe for you.. but I cannot wait for you to read them!

There was a poem on each card (part that I wrote myself, part I found on.. you guessed it – Pinterest!) that read like so:

Please leave a note before you leave this place,

A note for our sweet McKenna Beryl Grace,

Into a time capsule we’ll slip them to hide,

Till she’s 10 & 8 years they’ll be locked up inside;

On her 18th birthday to her we will show,

All these great wishes for the places she’ll go!

 

Other than that, it was your usual birthday party – with a kids play area, treat bags, food, drinks, conversation, then of course, gifts (you were completely spoiled) and your second ever cupcake! You loved it as much if not more than the first, but once again you were such a lady! I was certain I would need to throw out your birthday outfit afterwards (sad face) but that was not the case. It is still in tact and hanging up in your closet, special memories kept (happy face)!

It was a great day filled with so much love. You are a special little girl, McKenna, and you are growing up surrounded by an amazing group of people that truly love you. We are such a blessed little family of three, and we were really feeling the love that day!

So without further ado, here are the (many) pictures from your very first birthday party! I have to thank your Auntie Lareina for once again capturing these wonderful memories on film! We are so lucky to have such a talented photographer in the family!! xoxo thank you Lareina!

McKenna's cousin, Marrah enjoying her treat bag!

McKenna’s cousin, Marrah enjoying her treat bag!


McKenna's cousin, Declan, enjoying the food!

McKenna’s cousin, Declan, enjoying the food!


McKenna's cousin Colton, enjoying a balloon :).

McKenna’s cousin Colton, enjoying a balloon :).


McKenna & her Nanny telling stories.

McKenna & her Nanny telling stories.


Family shot (starting far right) my cousin Daegan, my Auntie & Uncle, and cousins  Collin & Jenny, & McKenna's Papa.

Family shot (starting far right) my cousin Daegan, my Auntie & Uncle, and cousins Collin & Jenny, & McKenna’s Papa.


Enjoying her birthday balloons!

Enjoying her birthday balloons!


McKenna & cousin ZZ!

McKenna & cousin ZZ!


Present time! (McKenna with her Mum & Dad, of course)

Present time! (McKenna with her Mum & Dad, of course)


All images are © Unforgettable Images.Photographer: Lareina Di
All images are © Unforgettable Images.Photographer: Lareina Di
Love this shot!

Love this shot!


Cousin Marrah showing off her custom made wrapping paper :)

Cousin Marrah showing off her custom made wrapping paper 🙂


Helping hands :).

Helping hands :).


<3


Cupacake time! You were a little unsure about the sparkler...

Cupacake time! You were a little unsure about the sparkler…


But definitely not unsure about the cupcake!

But definitely not unsure about the cupcake!

All images are © Unforgettable Images. Photographer: Lareina DiAll images are © Unforgettable Images. Photographer: Lareina Di
All gone!

All gone!


With your cousins Daegan, Collin and Jenny.. reading them a story :)

With your cousins Daegan, Collin and Jenny.. reading them a story 🙂


All images are © Unforgettable Images.Photographer: Lareina Di

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Your First Birthday (a recap)

Even though your birthday was nearly a month and a half ago, your Mum is waaay behind the times and has yet to post a recap from the fabulous day. This is just a recap of your birthDAY, not the wonderful party that followed on December 15th. I am hoping to get to that post this week too .. but to be honest, I just haven’t been in the writing mood! With our upcoming trip to Jamaica and the wedding 5 MONTHS TO THE DAY away, my mind has definitely been distracted. But these are important events that must be recorded for you to read in the future, so here I am, just for you :).

On December 1, 2013, I woke up at 7 AM so I could be sure to be awake before you (I never purposely do this .. it seems like cruel torture!). I started blowing balloons, and filled the hallway. You Dad and I had assembled your birthday present – an AWESOME play kitchen! – the night before. I wanted you to wake up, find the balloons in the hallway and make your way down to see your birthday surprise.

You woke up at 8:30, and that’s just what you did. Crawled out into the hallway and played with the many balloons. You were so enamoured with the balloons that you stayed in the hallway for close to half an hour before I grew impatient and moved them into the kitchen, so you would come that way. You finally did, and alas! There was your kitchen! You immediately crawled up to it and started playing with it, particularly fascinated with the buttons and all the different sounds they made.

I decided we would stay home that day. On most days, I bundle you up and we head out of the house to run errands or take part in an activity, but I thought you would like a home day to enjoy your presents. I was right, you played with them for the entire morning, had a special breakfast of smashed banana pancakes and then laid down for your late morning nap as usual.

After lunch, we had a visit from your Auntie Ethel & Uncle Emlyn, and your cousins Gillian, Collin and Jenny. Gifts were exchanged (a fancy new cash register to go along with your play kitchen!) and then we all sat and visited. We watched your One Year video together (and I cried) and shortly afterwards, they left.

The afternoon was spent once again playing with your toys while I baked cupcakes, and then I ordered pizza for our special dinner. Your Dad, your Papa, and your Auntie Vanessa all came over for your birthday dinner and you ate your first piece of pizza like it was nobodies business. We sang happy birthday (I cried again) and I presented you with your first ever cupcake, vanilla with chocolate frosting. You started eating the cupcake like such a lady, picking at the icing with your fingers. But that didn’t last long! Not a crumb was spared.

You went to bed (after a much needed bath) with a full belly and a smile on your face.

It was a relaxed, calm quiet kind of day.. just the kind of day I wanted to spend with you on your very first birthday. Even though December the first will always be a day celebrating your birth, and giving you presents, believe me when I say you are the best gift I have and will ever receive. December 1 will always be my favorite day, a day of reflection, celebration, happiness, and undoubtedly, more tears (the happy ones, of course).

One Year (a video)

McKenna turned 1 yesterday! A full birthday recap, along with an amazing cake smash video, will follow later on this week.

In the meantime, I made a little video to celebrate the occasion. It was rather hard to put the very best year of my life into a 3 1/2 minute video, but I did my best :).

McKenna, your father and I love you so much. Our biggest birthday wish for you on your first birthday is that you continue to enjoy this, your childhood. Be carefree, be curious. Explore the world with the comfort of knowing you have a mother and father who love you so, who will always be here with open arms.

Love you forever, our sweet sweet girl.

xoxo

Mum & Dad

Our First Halloween

Last week, we celebrated your first Halloween!

It was a smashing success, as was the week or so leading up towards it. We visited Prairie Gardens, and got lost in a corn maze, watched people fire the pumpkin cannon, attended a petting zoo and a magic show, and all in all just had a great family day. We carved pumpkins, you my little assistant as I cleaned them in preparation for your father’s return from work. You only tried to eat the pumpkin guts once – once, and then it never happened again (yuck). We shopped for costumes for your father and I – the first time either of us had worn a Halloween costume (the last time being when we went to the Howler in 2009 with your Auntie Chrissy and Nikki; when your Dad dressed as Jack Skeleton and I as a ladybug.. but that is a story for another time, when you are much, much older :)).

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When the big day arrived, it started out like any other Thursday., until I dressed you to leave for your music class and placed your Tinkerbell dress over top of your normal outfit, and placed your wings on your back. We went to music class and had a fun time with Batman, a princess, a pumpkin and a sheep, and headed home to prepare dinner for your Dad’s arrival.

Once we had all had supper and were dressed (your father and I dressed as pirates to fit with the Tinkerbell theme) and ready to go, we headed out for some trick or treating. The temperatures were unseasonably warm this Halloween, but we opted to just visit friends and families who lived close by. We visited a total of 5 houses, and let me tell you, that was ENOUGH candy wise! You sure cleaned up! We have put your candy away somewhere for safekeeping (our tummies) for when you are old enough to enjoy it (hey! Isn’t that one of the major perks of parenting?).

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It was a fun day for all of us. The ones we visited truly loved seeing you in your costume and we had a great time showing you off. I’ll be honest – Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays (I am much more particular to Christmas and New Year’s) but having you around has definitely renewed the spirit of the holiday. I look forward to partaking in many more Halloween’s and continuing these traditions and creating new ones as you grow older.

I also feel it is important to mention that you slept 8 hours straight that night – reason enough for me to wish Halloween occurred several times a year, and not just once! 🙂

Love you forever, my little Tinkerbell.

xo

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Travelling with a Baby

Our trip to Banff was nearly two weeks ago. It was an amazing time and holds so many dear memories for us.

Travelling with a baby is very different than travelling without one. Whereas before, Matt and I would simply decide to take off last minute, pack the morning of and leave at whatever time we were ready, travelling with a baby involves planning, very careful packing, and time management. I am not very talented at any of those 3 things by nature, but since I have become a Mum I do find I am improving considerably.

There were some things that really worked well, and there were a couple things that really didn’t. Now that some time has passed, and Thanksgiving is behind us, I have really had some time to reflect on what we did well and what we can improve upon. We are heading to Jamaica in February for a wedding and although I know flying with a baby and staying at a resort in a different country is entirely different from driving 5 hours across our province to stay in a hotel with a car at our disposal, but I still think valuable lessons can be learned. And regardless, Matt and I both love a good roadtrip so reflecting on our experience from this trip and applying it to the next one will be invaluable!

Some things I found that really contributed to the success of our trip included:

1. We planned to travel while she was napping – I think for all parents, this is pretty much a given. On the way to our destination, she slept about half of the time. On the way back, she slept nearly the whole time.

2. We were sure to return to the hotel for all naps – McKenna can fall asleep in her stroller/carrier/car seat no problem, but at the same time, I think that really sacrifices the quality of her sleep. Matt and I made an effort everyday to return to the hotel for her naps, and I think it really paid off. She was always rested and relaxed, and happy with whatever we were doing, so we didn’t deal with any meltdowns.

3. We stuck to her bedtime routine – give or take half an hour.

4. We bought her a new toy – for the drive home. When she did wake, I removed it from the packaging and gave it to her, and it kept her entertained for the entire hour that she was awake. Unfortunately, she ended up losing said toy as soon as we were home and took it out of the house. Oh well… it served its primary purpose.

5. We always had lots of snacks on hand – I always had a pouch in the diaper bag, for the times we went out to eat and there weren’t many kid-friendly options. Puffs are always good for keeping little hands busy, in the stroller or at the dinner table. Mum mums work wonders to keep her busy during car rides, as well as cut up fruit and cheese.

There were also some things we did that did not work so well. We learned from our mistakes and will be sure to not repeat them again. Some things NOT to do include:

1. Don’t flip the script – Our first night there, we asked the hotel to loan us a playpen and put McKenna to sleep in there. McKenna still sleeps with me at home, on a floor bed, so when she woke in the middle of the night in a strange dark place in a playpen no less, she lost it. And rightfully so – totally my fault. It took us nearly 2 hours to calm and relax her enough to fall asleep again – in bed next to us.

2. Be sure to plan ahead – When we headed to the Banff Gondola, we were not prepared. Although we had a packed to the max diaper bag, we did NOT bring a carrier with us. When we arrived at the top of the mountain we realized it was a 2 km hike to a tourist attraction that we both would have loved to see, but there were stairs involved and we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to have us taking turns carrying her in our arms. So unfortunately, we missed out on that little excursion.

I’m happy to say that the list of things we did well doubles the list of things we did not do so well. McKenna is a really easy going baby, and was such a content little traveller, that we really didn’t have many issues. But there is always something to be learned from every experience, and I definitely intend to take some lessons from this one, as I do every other adventure in motherhood.

To any parents reading this blog who have experience travelling with a little one on a PLANE, I would love to hear from you. I would be lying if I said the whole thing doesn’t stress me out a little bit, so I would LOVE any advice that you have to offer!

Thanksgiving

My Darling McKenna,

This past weekend was your first Thanksgiving.

Saturday, we celebrated the holiday at your Nanny and Papa’s. We had a great time with family and as a special treat, your Auntie Ethel and Uncle Emlyn joined in on the festivities. It’s always so nice when two families can come together as one and celebrate, and I hope it becomes a regular occurrence.
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On Sunday, you and I headed to church for a great service. Afterwards, the three of us went grocery shopping for the meal I planned to prepare on Monday.

The meal turned out excellent, but this post isn’t aimed to be about that (but
seriously, it was excellent and my first big holiday meal!), nor the great Church service, nor the fun afternoon at your Nanny and Papa’s. It is to be about Thanksgiving, and the overwhelming amount of blessings that have been bestowed upon our little family of three, and the outpouring of thankfulness felt each day as a result.

I could make an itemized list, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. Nothing I haven’t said time and time before on this little web space. And it all just seems so terribly cliche. When you are older McKenna, I hope that we can incorporate a tradition of specifically mentioning what we are thankful for – but not on Thanksgiving alone. I hope we can make a tradition of saying what we are thankful for on Christmas; on birthdays; on a Saturday; on every Monday. And then when this holiday rolls around, it can simply be just another day full of thankfulness, but this one being spent with Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents, celebrating our good fortune. And once you are old enough, dear McKenna, we will figure out an activity that will help us to give back. Because it is always important to give it back.

That is my hope for the future of our Thanksgivings. That, and turkey. May there always be turkey.

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Banff, Alberta/Your Second Roadtrip

My Darling McKenna,

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, an hour outside of Calgary, and 4 hours away from our home in Edmonton, lies Banff, Alberta. It is a skiing town – surrounded by many mountains that are a winter sportsman’s dream. But it is also a tourist town, so it remains busy throughout the entire year.

We were lucky enough to take some time off from our day to day and spend some time here as a happy little threesome. It was nice to get away – your Dad had just finished a long stint working nightshift (20 or so days straight!) and it was so great for us to have this opportunity to reconnect.

And you, Miss McKenna, you – were a dream. A content little traveler. I intend to write an entry about our tricks of the trade when traveling with you, but for this post I will say this – aside from a rough first night’s sleep, we could NOT have asked for anything better!

We headed out on Saturday morning at 11, and arrived shortly after 3 – impressive for a road trip with a baby. We checked into our cozy little condominium, at the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – which I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone (bonus – all employees have Australian accents! I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, the world would be a much better place if everyone had an Australian accent :)) – settled in, then headed out for a nice dinner. Afterwards, we came back and went for an evening swim at the pool’s facilities. You were quite exhausted from the day’s events, and after bathtime and an hour or so of play, you were ready for sleep.

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The next day we headed into town. Now Banff has always been one of your Mum’s favorite places to visit – all the little touristy shop’s bring such a smile to my face. And they did for you too, baby. You watched all the people, places and things with such wonder, happy as can be. I have some treasured childhood memories of this place, in particular visiting the Christmas store (officially called ‘The Spirit of Christmas) with your Auntie Helen, Auntie Ethel, and Granny. We ventured into the store and spent upwards of an hour shopping, and bought you your second Christmas ornament to commemorate your second Christmas. We also started a new tradition, one that my mother, your Granny, previously practiced – we bought our first Christmas house, for our own Christmas village, thereby committing ourselves to return to this place before each Christmas for the next however many years :).

After shopping, we headed back to the hotel so you could take a much needed nap – after all, shopping is so tiresome! When you awoke, we headed out to the Banff Gondola and went for a ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Now you my darling, are fearless. I was afraid as to how you would react on the ride, but you sat contentedly on your father’s lap, and stared out the window. You have obviously inherited your father’s love of heights.

We stayed at the top of Sulphur Mountain for awhile, taking pictures and enjoying the views. Afterwards, we headed down and went out for yet another nice supper. Then it was time for relaxation in the condominium, and you went to sleep while your father and I had a couple of drinks and enjoyed each other’s company. You slept 7 hours straight that night – we must have tired you out!

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Day 3 was Monday, and the day we had planned to leave. However, once we woke, it was quickly decided that we would extend our trip for yet another day – we were having FAR too much fun to leave! I was so happy your Dad decided to take another day off of work to spend time with us. He works so hard, and he truly deserved the break, and we love being in his company. Things just feel so complete. We spent the morning of day 3 touring around the shops we missed from day 2, then returned for your nap.

After you were rested and refreshed, we headed out to the hot springs. We stayed for about half an hour, and you LOVED it. You relaxed and splashed contentedly while watching the other children play about the pool. You are such a water baby. It makes your Dad and I so happy that the three of us can share this common hobby together.

We then stopped in town for some groceries, and went back to the hotel where I cooked us a nice dinner. We stayed in for the night and relaxed some more, perfectly happy just enjoying each other’s company. All 3 of us played and laughed together, and you and your Dad fell asleep, cuddling, early that night.

I remember watching the two of you sleeping so soundly and just feeling so overjoyed. It had been such a perfect little holiday, and it was just a huge reminder of how unbelievably blessed we all are to have one another. Your father and I are the happiest we have ever been since you entered our lives McKenna, and there are so many moments like this where I stop and am just in awe of how wonderful our little family is.

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I cooked us a nice breakfast on Tuesday, and we headed for home tummies full, minds rested, and hearts happy. The trip home went just as smoothly as the rest of the holiday, and we were welcomed back by our very excited furbabies.

It was a perfect getaway. Banff will always be one of my favorite places on Earth and it was so special to be able to share it with you. I look forward to many more holidays such as this one, look forward to the millions of special moments that we have in our future.

We love you to the moon and back, little one. xoxo11

Two Weddings & A Camping Trip

Things have been very silent on the blog front, which means things over here have been BUSY, BUSY, BUSY. The last 3 weekends were spent at family reunions, campgrounds, and weddings in and out of town. McKenna handled all these different events like a pro, but now we have been taking the past 3 days at home to relax, unwind, and get McKenna into somewhat of a schedule once again, nap wise and otherwise.

Her 8 month post is to follow ON TIME tomorrow, and I am so excited to share with you all the enormous changes she has been going through these past 4 weeks! In the meantime, please take a look at some of our favorite pictures taken from these fun summer events!

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Canada Day

Today was McKenna’s first Canada Day! It was also her 7 month birthday, but there will be more on that tomorrow..

We spent the morning lazing around the house, while Matt worked in the backyard. He has been working hard on our backyard for the past several weeks, with a goal in mind – to clean it up, make it safer and more private, and prettier, for McKenna to play in. It has been a true labour of love thus far, and in no time McKenna will have a great backyard to play in, a sandbox and pool all her own. :).

After he was finished for the day, we packed up and headed out to Fort Saskatchewan, where we visited with family for an hour or so, and then went to take part in their Canada Day celebrations, which included live music, a petting zoo, food trucks, and A LOT OF SUNSHINE – it was a HOT one! We had a great day soaking in the sunshine and celebrations with our little famjam, and here are some of our favorite pictures from the day:

Canada Day 2013!

Canada Day 2013!

Happy Canada Day everyone! We are a proud Canadian family!