Indian Summer

Sep 25, 2014

It's autumn! The shortest and most beautiful season has arrived. The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and summer is officially over.  
A couple of weeks ago snow fell from the sky... because we live in Alberta and such things are to be expected.  It soon melted and the temperature soared. If it weren't for the golden leaves and pumpkin flavoured everything, you might have mistaken the past week for summer.  
We've been keeping busy for the past few weeks with our now-toddler.  The weekend after her birthday we drove to our hometown to meet my friend Rosie's beautiful new daughter, Lilee!  It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was 7 months pregnant and trying to squeeze into my bridesmaid dress at her wedding, so to see her with her own tiny daughter is so amazing. Once upon a time we were crazy roommates who lived off of takeout food and stayed out until 3 am.  I don't know when it happened, but it appears that we are all grown up!  

The next morning we drove west to the Columbia Icefields. Earlier in the summer I'd won free passes to the Glacier Explorer and the Skywalk and with the season drawing to a close we wanted to ensure that they didn't go unused.  Ryan and I had never been on the glacier tour, so it was fun to see it from a different perspective and to let our baby take a few clumsy steps on the snow.

Aaralee had run out of patience by the time that we were back to board the bus to the Skywalk, so we handed off our tickets to a couple of backpackers who were waiting in line to purchase theirs. We'd seen it before, and they were very appreciative of the gesture. It was back to Red Deer for us, with a few scenic stops along the way. There is nothing quite like summer in the mountains, and it had been a great season of introducing our daughter to some of our favourite spots. 

Since that weekend, we've been hanging out in Edmonton.  Our local friends often complain that we are never around on weekends, but with colder weather approaching that will soon change. 
I've been getting my intake of pumpkin spiced lattes, and last week after spending $50 on fall scented soaps and candles (and that was with a 40% off coupon...) I baked pumpkin spiced cookies! Okay... before you give me too much credit, they were the Pilsbury ones that you take out of the package and stick in the oven. But oh my goodness, they were delicious and you all should run out and purchase them and tell everyone that you baked them from scratch. They'd probably believe you, because unlike me, you probably are capable of baking delicious things. 

We've been trying to spend as much time outside as possible while we still can... -30 degrees Celsius won't be ideal for playing outside. Aaralee loves squishing crunchy leaves, and Niko certainly appreciates any chance for a walk. 

Tonight I persuaded my husband to join us on an adventure at the corn maze. It was a gorgeous evening and our baby looked so cute strolling along the path, trying to pick up every ear of corn on the ground.  She did so well, despite staying out until bedtime.  

Not much else is going on these days, but with a one year old life is never dull.  Every day is a new adventure, whether we are dancing in the living room or out with friends.  She keeps me busy, she keeps me entertained, and she fills my days with laughter!  

Happy Birthday, Baby!!

Sep 10, 2014

My sweet, beautiful little girl,

Today you turn one year old.  Today marks one year in which I've had the privilege of being your Mommy.  I count my blessings every day and truly believe that I am the luckiest person on the planet... and it's all because of you.

12 months ago today I met you.  I loved you, instantly.  A few days later we brought you home and in the months to follow I'd only fall more and more in love with you. I don't know how it's possible to love a tiny little human so much, but I do.

You are such an amazing little person, bursting at the seams with personality. You have the energy of someone who has chugged five Red Bulls. You never sit still and insist on climbing over and into everything and anything.  You are so independent, always wanting to do everything all by yourself.  You are funny, always finding some way to make Mommy and Daddy laugh.  You are sweet, giving us big hugs and gently patting Niko when he sits nearby. You are beautiful, even with your crazy bed head hair and yogurt plastered on your face.

Like Mommy and Daddy, you love to eat and you've yet to dislike anything you've been given.  You have a weakness for blueberries and you give the biggest eyes-closed grin when I offer you an Arrowroot cookie.

You like it when we hold you upside down or throw you in the air. You have no fear, unless something is too noisy.  You wave to strangers and melt hearts everywhere that we take you.  You love it when you sit in your stroller and we run fast at the gym.
You get into absolutely everything and leave a trail of destruction in your path.  Last week you started walking and I beam with pride watching every clumsy, wobbly step.
You love shoes, unless they are on your feet... in which case you tear them off within minutes. You let me put your hair in pretty little ponytails and paint your toenails with bright pink polish. You are my little doll, and I can't wait for the girly fun that we will have as you grow up.

You know exactly what you want and you don't hesitate to let us know when you are unhappy.  You often go from crying to laughing hysterically in a matter of seconds.  
There is nobody quite like you, Miss Aaralee Marie. You are the greatest blessing we've ever received and every day I love you a little bit more.  
Happy birthday baby.  I can't wait to venture through the next year with you and watch you grow and change even more. I love you more than you'll ever understand.



Aaralee's Polka Dot Party!

Sep 8, 2014

This weekend we celebrated Aaralee's first birthday party with some of our closest friends and family. Can you believe that on Wednesday my baby will be an entire year old?!
Let me start by saying that I realize that going over the top for a birthday that a child is vaguely aware of and will never remember is a bit ridiculous.  In all honesty, we could have simply not even acknowledged the day and she wouldn't have known any different.  I took these facts into consideration for all of 3 seconds before making the decision to go all out on her party. You only get the chance to host a very first birthday party for your very first baby once, right?  
In my teenage years I took charge of my younger brothers birthday parties each and every year.  I'd obsess over tiny details and couldn't wait to one day host parties for children of my own.  I'm fairly certain that I began brainstorming ideas and browsing Pinterest when Aaralee was only a few months old.  
Every party needs some sort of theme, but finding something that really interests a 12 month old is a bit of a challenge.  I could have thrown a cell phone or cookie themed party, but instead I decided upon polka dots. Who doesn't love polka dots?! They are bright, colourful, and probably the easiest theme that I could have ever chosen.  I threw in some pinwheels for added fun and set off to planning the big bash.  
The past few months have been spent gathering ideas and crafting decor, meticulously planning out every single detail... details that would likely go unnoticed by most guests but that were of great importance to me.  As the day grew closer I took on more and more projects because apparently I'm an insane woman.  I even took on the challenge of making her birthday cake despite the fact that I'm what you might describe as "baking illiterate"... and guess what?! It was not only edible, but everyone was surprised when we cut into it and the discovered hidden polka dots.  Maybe I can do this domesticated thing after all!
Everything came together perfectly and our baby was overwhelmed with sugar, cake, gifts and love.  She has stolen so many hearts in her 12 months of existence and that was very evident on Saturday.  Best of all, it was a warm and sunny day, a stark contrast from the first snowfall that we woke up to this morning.  
So without further ado, I'll leave you with some photos taken by the talented Sarah Mavro Photograhy. Ryan and I relaxed and left our cameras in their bags while she captured the day, and we are so thankful for the great photos! 

So Long, Summer.

Sep 2, 2014

I say this every year... but where has the time gone? It's officially September and I don't know where I was or what I was doing, but summer has seemed to pass by in record time.  A lot of memories have been made over the course of the past few months, but I still don't understand how it can already be over.  Before we know it, snow will be on the ground and we'll be cooped up inside of our house for months on end. I'm not ready for this. Thank goodness for pumpkin spiced lattes for helping me to get through this difficult time. 
To bid farewell to another great season, we spent the final long weekend of summer camping in the mountains.  Admittedly, when I saw the weather forecast I was not thrilled to spend the entire weekend outdoors and contemplated cancelling our plans in favour of staying home. We decided to go anyways, and I packed the warmest clothing items that I could find for Aaralee and myself.  
In an attempt to beat the rush, Ryan took Friday off of work and we headed out Thursday afternoon to meet his parents and aunt and uncle at the campground. Thank goodness that we left when we did, because there were already few sites remaining!  We pitched our tent and settled in for a weekend of eating, hiking, and keeping warm by the fire.  

The evenings were cold, but Aaralee was bundled in so many layers that there was no chance of her being cold.  Crawling out of my warm sleeping bag to feed her at 4:30 am was very chilly and highly unpleasant... particularly when I'd glance over at my fast asleep and oh-so-warm husband.  
On Friday morning a more desirable site became available, so we packed up camp and moved over. By "we" I mean everyone else. I put Aaralee in her carrier and cuddled her as she napped. 
 Once we were set up we headed for Lake Louise.

  Ryan and I decided to do something different and rented a canoe while Grandma took Aaralee and Niko for a walk around the lake. It was fun to have a rare hour to ourselves as we paddled around the beautiful blue water. 

  After dinner it was another early (and cold) evening.
Saturday rolled around and the rest of the family was eager to go for a hike. Not wanting to hold them back with our unpredictable baby, we opted for our own adventures that day.  We found ourselves at beautiful Emerald Lake and walked the trail around it. It was a gorgeous day, far warmer than it would have been at the campground.  We managed to do the entire loop with the stroller, which was fun for Aaralee and a nice break for me.

  With plenty of day left ahead of us we continued driving further into British Columbia, stopping in Golden where we wandered around a small farmer's market and bought cherries from our favourite fruit stand.  We drove back to the campground through the pouring rain.

  It was going to be the coldest of evenings yet.  As we sat around the fire we were joined by two backpackers from France. They'd been unsuccessful at starting their own campfire, so they joined us to cook their meals and stay warm.  
It poured rain the entire night and into the morning as we packed up to return home. Everyone else was staying until Monday, but Ryan and I had lots to accomplish at home and 4 days away from a shower was plenty for me.  
As the weekend drew to a close I was happy that we'd decided to go camping despite the rain and cold weather.  I've got my fill of s'mores and campfire pizza and I think it's safe to say that the camping season is over for our little family until next year. 

And with that, it's time for pumpkin flavoured everything, scarves and boots and the final preparations for Aaralee's big birthday bash that is just around the corner.
Thank you Summer, you never let me down.  Please come back soon.