Jan 14, 2014

Thomas' Dapper First Birthday

If you heard a loud weird noise two weekends ago, it was me crying as I threw my last 1st birthday party. T Bone turned one December 26th so I waited until after the holidays to have his birthday party. We decided to invite just family this time around and this was one of my favorite parties to date! I found this super cute dapper party and used it as my inspiration. I am using the term 'inspiration' rather loosely and perhaps copied some of her party verbatim. That is how much I liked it!

I whipped up these cute invitations on Photoshop. Sure, it isn't fancy with gold foil, but it did the trick.

I am so glad I put 'best party dress requested' because that gave us full reign to dress to the nines (or at least dressed up more than usual!). I was also so happy to see that my family participated in getting dressed- lots of dresses, suits, and even a tux! I bought Thomas a suit from Walmart and each of the older boys get dress pants from Walmart that were on clearance for $5! I bought them a new dress shirt from H&M and they were quite handsome. I bought bowties from My Sweat Pea Couture Boutique and they are the CUTEST bowties! I love these photos of the boys getting all dressed up for the party. Of course, the birthday boy was not cooperating for pictures at this point.

When the guests arrived upon red carpet, each kiddo could pick out a bow tie or hair bow.

I printed out pictures from each month and displayed them. I really don't like how this turned out but left it anyways. 

The food display was largely made up of desserts,which is totally my kind of food display! Who needs 'real' food at a party? I am all for filling up on cupcakes and candy! I tried to find candy with gold wrappings- rolos, reece's, gummy bears, and twix. Don't worry though- we did have ham, potatoes, and green beans for those 'health conscious' people. I won't name names on who insisted on not eating cake for dinner...

Like I said, I LOVE that the guests dressed up! When else would I get to dress T Bone in a baby suit and when would my dad wear a tux to a 1 year old's birthday party?! I got a new outfit and Brad even went to the store ON HIS OWN ACCORD and shopped for a new outfit for himself! I was thoroughly impressed with him and he looked so handsome!

After playing outside for a little bit, (yes, it was a gorgeous January day in Texas!), we played a round of 'Pin the Bow Tie on Thomas. Even some of the adults played too!

By far the highlight of the evening was our dance party. I had some fun music playing all night but we crammed into the living room, cranked up the music and had an old fashioned dance party. I loved it and so did the kids! My niece Bella kept asking me to turn the music back up later on so she could keep getting her groove on. We played freeze dance and then took turns doing our best 'sassy dance walk' across the floor. I think burning those calories totally cancels out eating cupcakes for dinner, right?

I have said it before, and I will say it again, I really think our 'family only' parties tend to be my favorites. They are somehow more laid back but still just as action packed as when we invite all our friends. I think it is just more fun to party it up with my favorite people.

I think Thomas enjoyed his Dapper First Birthday party...perfect for my handsome dapper baby!

If you missed any of my other favorite parties, you can check them out here:
Cars Party

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Jan 7, 2014

Investing in ME

I have been wanting to write up a little post about my weight loss over the past year. Before I do so, I am going to share a piece of a conversation I had with my dad this past weekend. We were talking about my new photography 'skills' (or lack thereof) and he asked if I was going to take classes. I told him there was an online class I wanted to take but it was $300. I said that I am not trying to make photography my profession (EVER) and just wanted to take nice pictures of the boys. So it was hard to justify spending money like that 'just to take pictures of the boys and family'. He said 'Well, you are investing in yourself and that is always a good thing. Your art can always be improved'. 

Investing in myself. Hmm...isn't that always a hard thing to do? Doesn't it seem like sometimes you invest time, money, love into your kids, spouse, family, home, friends but you put yourself last in line? I always feel guilty for doing things for myself whether it be buying a new outfit, a new pair of shoes, or taking a photography class (which I did about 9 months ago and loved it!). Even when I started working out again after having Thomas I felt guilty for having to take the boys to the gym with me so I could work out. Shouldn't I be spending those hours with the boys? Not dumping them off somewhere so I could work out?

So I am glad my dad gave me that reminder of investing in myself. It doesn't have to always be by spending money, but it is nice to invest in myself in order to make me a better Jen, a better mom, an improved wife and daughter, and simply a happier person.

How does this relate to my weight loss? Well, let's back up about 12 months. I had my sweet T Bone on December 26. Here I am in my huge, swollen, and chubby glory the day before he was born. You can barely see my eyes because my cheeks were so chubby they swallowed up my eyeballs!

So while I didn't realize I was 'investing' in myself per se, I joined the gym last March. I finally could start working out after having Thomas and he was old enough for me to take him to the daycare room. For some reason something clicked with me and I decided to also eat better. I gave up Coke (I haven't had one since MARCH!) and for a couple months I only had a 'cheat' day on Saturday when I could have my sweets and desserts. The rest of the 6 days were limited to healthy snacks and healthier meals.

However, it was still hard to get myself to the gym. Between preschool, naps, nursing T Bone, have to make reservations in advance to get Thomas in the daycare room, and wanting to take the boys somewhere fun rather than the gym and ultimately not being happy with the service in the daycare room, I was only going about once a week. Through only diet did I lose the last of those pesky baby weight pounds.

The biggest change I made was in October. I was done nursing Thomas which meant I didn't have to be home when he woke up in the morning (or didn't have to pump when I woke up...I HATE pumping!). So I decided I would just try to work out at 5am so I could be back home and showered before Brad had to leave for work at 6:30. So that means I set my alarm for 4:30 am the next morning and as I fell asleep I thought 'Ha! Yeah right! I will never actually get up and make it to the gym'.

Well, folks, I made it to the gym by sheer miracle. I not only made it to the gym, but I enjoyed getting up early and getting my workout out of the way before anyone woke up. I enjoyed being showered before anyone woke up. And this routine stuck with me and I have been working out at 5am ever since...and making it to the gym on average of 3-4 times a week. There is a 5am core/ab class that I take twice a week that helps force me to get my butt to the gym...and my lovely c-section abs are trimming up!

Sure I want to fall asleep by 1:00 in the afternoon, but it is worth it. I feel so accomplished on those mornings when I workout before the sun is even up. And I can tell a huge difference in my body (duh) for adding in those workouts.

Since Thomas was born about a year ago I have lost about 55 pounds. I usually will blow it off saying 'well, most of that is just losing the weight from being pregnant' because I was one of those lucky pregnant people who gained a crap load of weight. But you know what, not everyone loses their baby weight. And not everyone loses their baby weight and then some. So for whatever reason I had those 55 pounds to lose, I lost them. I had to work hard to lose them, too. In case you didn't realize, having three c-sections take a toll on your midsection! Even though I lost the pounds, my body isn't the same and my stomach is one big gross flabby mess. So I am still working hard to fix that.  I am still working hard to lose those 'happily married' pounds I gained before the babies were born.

Bottom line is I am proud of how far I have come so far, I am committed to investing in myself to continue losing weight and know because I am investing in myself I will be healthier and happier (and the bonus being thinner too!) More importantly I found a way to invest in myself in a way that didn't take away time from being with my sweet babies before they are all in elementary school (and eventually get married and leave me forever, but that is jumping ahead a bit!). I can sacrifice a smidge of sleep for a couple years to fit in a workout without sacrificing the fun times I have with John, Matthew, and Thomas during the day. Changing my schedule to workout at the crack of down was the biggest and most impacting change I made last year and I am thankful I did it!

What are you doing to invest in yourself? What do you hope to change in your life to make that happen?

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Jan 6, 2014

Thomas' First Birthday Photo Shoot

Sweet Thomas turned one on December 26th. We had  a fun day celebrating by going to The Perot Museum in Dallas and then going to a park for a cake smash photo shoot. We also threw in a quick trip to the doctor and found out the birthday boy had a double ear infection! Poor baby! He was a trooper though.

So today I am sharing a couple of the photos from his first birthday photo shoot. These are all SOOC (and one day I will learn how to edit my photos!). We love this sweet sweet boy!

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Jan 3, 2014

House to Home - Part 1

As part of my goals for 2014, I am trying to blog more. In attempts to do so, I am going to post a very mini series on how we have made our house a home in the past one and a half years. We moved into our new house June of 2012. Going from a relatively small house of just under 1900 square feet and moving into a house of 3200 square feet meant we had lots of space to fill! I love our new house and even over a year later we still have plenty of space to be filled. For the first couple months I was focused on getting the playroom set up for the boys (I posted about it HERE) and getting Thomas' nursery ready, which you can read about HERE. Over the summer I was able to work on the formal living room which had been a nearly vacant holding ground for artwork needing to be hung up. My sister, Allison, is a interior designer and I think every time she came to my house and saw that shameful room she had a small silent stroke.

In between her silent strokes, Al helped me design my new formal living room. I sat down with pen and paper while she walked around the room saying 'put two chairs here' and 'add a console with a mirror here' or 'make a cute seating arrangement here' and 'a cool old mantel and surround would be neat'. I just nodded in agreement to everything she said because surely she knows way more about how to set up a room than me and faithfully took notes. (Brad did not go for the matel and surround that surrounded an imaginary fireplace). Then it was time for me to shop til I dropped. I picked everything out although 90% was approved by Al before I bought it. :)

Not only am I lucky that my sister is an interior designer, but I am also lucky that due to nursing an infant baby, I had lots of time to search craigslist for furniture in the middle of the night. I am a self proclaimed cheapo so I wanted a bargain if possible. Of course everything I liked ended up being pricey, but still less than paying for new furniture. I was able to find two Restoration Hardware chairs, a recovered vintage couch, a gold framed mirror, two ottomans and 4 gold frames. Not too shabby! My mom found the coffee table on a facebook garage sale site that fit perfectly.

I was wanting to go for a 'fancy casual' look in this room. Is that even a thing? I wanted it to look nice and put together, but I want people to actually be able to sit in there comfortably. I love how it all was pulled together. 

The two ottomans were dirt cheap on craigslist. They were dirt cheap because they were ugly, stained, and just plain yucky. However, they were a perfect size, are storage ottomans, and did I mention they were dirt cheap? I bought some fabric at Hobby Lobby and recovered them myself. They turned out really well as long as you don't open the lid and look at all the stapling on the inside. I am assuming my guests won't be doing that so I am not too worried. The hardest part of the whole project was the print on the fabric. The pattern is HUGE so that means trying to line it up for each side of the cube wasted a TON of fabric. So a word to the wise- use a small print if you need to match panels! In the end I love how they turned out and I am proud of work!

The Restoration Hardware chairs are my favorite craigslist find. They were practically brand new and were at least  50% less than what I would have paid at the store. This room is open to the entry way where the boys play with trains, cars, and floor puzzles. So we are actually in this room a lot and the chairs are quite comfy.

I bought the drapes at West Elm and I posted about how my husband customized rods from Home Depot to fit our bay window.

The table is one of the only new pieces of furniture. (The other is the floor lamp so that doesn't really count to me!). I got this in a store in Dallas and I liked that it looks like an old door. It isn't really what I wanted but I am growing to love it. I just need to get a piece of glass for the top of it. It is a pretty unique and cool table!

I had pinned an inspiration picture of a console with a large bust on it. When I told my mom, she said 'Oh we have tons of busts at the house. Come look around and take one'. Now, I have been at my parents house on average once a week or so for the last 10 years. I never once noticed a bust at their house. However, she wasn't lying when she said she a had a ton of busts. I would guess my parents have about 50 busts through out the house. How did those sneak past me?! Either way, I grabbed three for my house.

I bought a set of 4 gold frames from someone in a big ol' fancy house that I found through craigslist. Apparently these have fancy non-glare glass. So, now no one will be blinded when they look at the fancy needlework that was framed in them. Allison said the needlework is fine but I am not thrilled with it. One day I will change it up.

When purchasing the frames from the nice lady in the huge fancy house, she had a large bowl of old door knobs in her front entry. I thought it looked pretty cool and I remembered my parents had a box of old door knobs in their garage. Once again I went 'shopping' at their house and took those home with me as well!

The last little details on the table are old math books (I was a math teacher before becoming a stay at home mom) and the 'B' cake topper from our wedding.

The two last things I would like to do  is paint or stain the coffee table and paint the walls because the color is pretty goldish yellow that isn't really all that pretty which starts to blend with the gold frames and mirror. But for now it works. Oh, I would also love to get wood floors, but who doesn't??

So, there is my fancy-casual formal living room. If you would like to check out my sister's fabulous work, here are the links to her facebook and blog. She is more than happy to help you plan out your room even if you don't live near by!

Please be a fan of lil Mop Top on facebook!! I link up to these parties!