Merry Christmas, from the Shippelts. :)

Dec 24, 2014

It's Christmas Eve... my most favourite day of the year! We are heading to Red Deer this afternoon to celebrate with our families, so Santa came to our house a day early! It was so much fun watching Aaralee open all of her gifts... such a change from the tiny baby who sat completely unaware as I opened them for her last year.  Forget toys... her personal favourites were the boxes. She was even spoiled enough to try her very first Kinder Surprise! I've always loved Christmas, but as a mother it is so much more fun than ever before! 
Merry Christmas, from my family to yours! Here are some of our favourite moments from this season:

Mommy's First Baby-Free Weekend

Dec 23, 2014

The final weekend before Christmas was approaching, and with it came Ryan's company Christmas party.  It is always a highly anticipated event... a weekend away in Jasper and a delicious formal dinner.   Although I was excited to bring Aaralee along for the first time, the thought of trying to get her to sit quietly at a fancy restaurant for the span of a few hours had me rather stressed out.  It didn't help that in the days leading up to the weekend, she'd decided to suddenly increase her daily temper tantrum quota. 
On Thursday evening I sent my mom a message asking her to take her granddaughter for the weekend. I was joking... mostly.  When she offered to drive to Edmonton to pick her up the next day, I reluctantly mentioned the idea to my husband.  The instant smile that appeared on his face confirmed what I already knew... he would be more than happy to have a baby-free, stress-free weekend.  Deep down, I knew that it would probably be good for me to have a weekend of adult time for the first time since her birth, but the clingy, hormonal mom in me wasn't so sure.  I eventually gave in and packed Aaralee her very first overnight bag.  When Grandma showed up to pick her up, I smothered her with approximately 5,000 kisses and tried my best not to cry as I buckled her into her carseat. And then, she was gone.  The house was quiet. I packed my bags without little hands unpacking them.  Ryan finished work, we packed the car, and we were off! Just the two of us... and Niko, our dog.  

We had a wonderful weekend. The weather was beautiful, the air was fresh, the evenings were late, and the food was delicious.  We enjoyed not one, but two massages, and dined on steak and lobster among other indulgences.  

To get our baby fix, we talked to Aaralee on FaceTime, and on Sunday we took care of our friend's 2 month old daughter while they enjoyed a couple massage. She was adorable and fell asleep in my arms... something that Aaralee hasn't done in many, many months!  

Niko wasn't too sure about his first stay in a hotel, but he certainly enjoyed the abundance of treats and daily walks!  Nobody complained about him barking while we were out for dinner, so we are hoping that he was quiet and well behaved... although we will never truly know. 

As silly at it sounds, the best part of the weekend was picking up my baby on Sunday evening.  I'd missed her so very much, tantrums and all! I was so proud of myself for making it through our first weekend apart. Meanwhile, she probably never even noticed that we were gone. 

We are all home and now it is time to get ready for the madness that will be Christmas week!  

December Days

Dec 11, 2014

It's December, and thus my second favourite month of the year... second only to June, because that's the beginning of summer and my birthday.  
Life has been wonderfully chaotic since our return from vacation. Aaralee is 15 months old and busier than ever.  She spends 70% of her day running circles around the house, and 30% of it eating.  She manages to sneak in some time for home destruction as well.  Her favourite activities are emptying the tupperware drawer, toting jars from our spice rack around the house, and attempting to dismantle our Christmas tree.  She face plants from running too fast about 10 times daily, and when it happens in public bystanders gasp as I shrug and say "she's fine". She has also recently taken up high pitched screaming whenever she's remotely annoyed.  "This bucket is too big to fit inside of a cup!"  - Scream.  "Mommy won't let me drink a bottle of vinegar!" - Scream. You get the idea. When you're one, life is completely unfair. 

Being a toddler's mother is a whole new ball game, but it's the moments in which she giggles hysterically, dances like nobody is watching (or videotaping), gives me kisses with a pacifier in her mouth, or sweetly hugs her puppy that make the tantrums and messy home worth it... Nap time is pretty awesome too.  
Of course, there are times in which I question my sanity when it comes to the fact that come June, we'll be adding an extra person to the mix.  Not that long ago I sat in my doctor's office waiting room, pregnant with Aaralee. There were heavily pregnant moms chasing insane toddlers and I watched them with admiration for their bravery, wondering how on earth they managed. Fast forward to yesterday, and I sat in the same spot with my miserable daughter, cursing the fact that the only appointment available had happened to fall during nap time.  The appointment was an hour late, as per usual, and we both needed a nap by the time that I was finally called into the room. When I heard that tiny little heartbeat though, it was as though I instantly forgot about the waiting room stress. Few things feel more surreal than the realization that there is a tiny little person growing inside of you.  Sure, life will be hectic, but I wouldn't change a thing. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to do this all over again!

I digress, so back on the topic of December... Christmas is only 2 weeks away! Now that Aaralee is older and more aware of her surroundings, I'm really looking forward to this holiday. I can't wait to see her tear into her gifts and watch her play with the rest of the kids in the family. We've already gotten into the holiday spirit around the house and at this rate she should know the words to every Christmas carol by the time that she starts singing.  

On todays agenda: Cookie baking and perhaps a sled right around the block. Maybe (fingers crossed!) this is the evening that I can persuade Ryan to watch Christmas movies and drink hot chocolate with me.  'Tis the season! 

Hello, Mexico!!

Dec 6, 2014

This week we returned home from Mexico a few shades darker and a few pounds heavier.  Once again,  we had a fantastic time in one of our favourite destinations.  Our timing couldn't have been more perfect, as temperatures back home plummeted to -40 degrees for a few days.  It certainly heightened my appreciation for the warm, humid ocean breezes.

It was Aaralee's first time in Mexico, which made returning to the resort that we got married at that much more special.  Less than 3 years ago we stood in the sand and said our vows, and now we were walking through that same sand with our daughter.  
It was a relaxing vacation, with no adventurous excursions or crazy stories to tell. Our daily routine was as follows: 

1.  Wake up to the sounds of our babbling toddler.  
2.  Go for a walk along the beach with Aaralee wrapped on my back. (This step was occasionally skipped due to sleeping in.)  
3.  Have an enormous breakfast in the buffet.
4.  Sunscreen each family member and wrestle toddler into her swimsuit.  
5.  Go to the pool. 
6.  Order drinks.
7.  Reluctantly jump into the cold water and spend time splashing around the pool. 
8.  Chase toddler up and down the wheelchair ramps around the resort.  
9.  Return to room for a late morning nap.
10.  Order room service or head to the buffet for lunch.
11. Return to pool for afternoon sunshine. 
12. Play until baby is grumpy and then return to room to shower and get ready for the evening.
13. Walk along 5th Avenue and fend off souvenir sales people. 
14.  Make any and every attempt to get all excess energy out of our daughter prior to dinner.
15.  Put baby in pyjamas, brush her teeth, and place her in her stroller. 
16. Position stroller facing beach and allow the sounds of the ocean waves to lull Aaralee to sleep. 
17. Enjoy a romantic dinner with our baby sleeping next to us.
18. Sleep.

We all had a wonderful trip and can't wait to return.  I'll leave you with a little holiday snapshot... by popular demand... 


lonely days and vacation countdowns.

Nov 19, 2014

Today is November 19.  That means that we are closer to the beginning of December than to the beginning of November... and that is crazy... and exciting.  December means Christmas, baking, family, and if I'm lucky, actually getting to spend some time with the man that I'm married to.  
In the past month, my poor husband has had 2 days off... yes, 2 measly little days to spend with his family.  He's spent the majority of his time working out of town, leaving our little house feeling a bit empty.  I've said it before and I'll say it again... I have so much respect for single parents.  Taking care of my little monster solo is a lot of hard work.   It has always been tiring, but now that she's a toddler with tantrums and naps that are few and far between, I yearn for Ryan to come home at the end of the day and take over bath and bed time duty.  My house in in such a state of disarray that I'd rather endure being lonesome than invite friends over to see the chaos. How can one little person make so much mess?  Why does she have an obsession with emptying bins and cupboards instead of putting things back in them?  How come she doesn't understand that food has to cool off before I feed it to her instead of screaming like a crazy person as she clings to her high chair?  Why do all of her molars have to come in at the same time? Why must we read the same book 27 times a day instead of adding some variety?  Because she's one, that's why.  I love every stubborn little personality trait that she possesses, despite the occasional inconvenience.  I'm exhausted and slightly deprived of sanity but there is no way I'd rather spend my days. I love my little person, but it's safe to say that I could use a vacation. We could all use a vacation.  And so, a vacation we shall have.  
Not that I'm counting down or anything, but in only 4 sleeps we'll be jetting off to our most favourite place... Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  We are going back to the same resort that we got married at for some family time in the sunshine. 
Ryan needs this vacation. He needs to relax, forget about work, and enjoy our amazing, goofy daughter.  He needs a cerveza in his hand and no emails or alarm clocks in his vicinity.
I need this vacation. I need to breathe in the ocean air, spend time with my family, binge eat at a buffet, and enjoy a few free moments while Ryan chases after Aaralee.  
Her life is as stress free as they come, but I like to think that even Aaralee needs this vacation. She needs to run barefoot and splash in the water, play outside without a snowsuit that is too puffy for her to walk in, and most importantly... spend 9 full days with both of her parents.  
I couldn't be much more excited.  Starting making those pina coladas, Mexico! We will be there soon!  
Aaralee can't wait.  

Trick or Treat!

Nov 1, 2014

Trick or treat!  If you're anything like me, you woke up this morning with immense regret over the amount of candy that you consumed the day prior, only to unwrap an Oh Henry bar for breakfast.  Why I buy so much candy when we've never had more than 4 trick or treaters, I'm not sure.   Will I ever learn my lesson? Doubtful.  
This was my second Halloween since becoming a mom and I have to admit.... Halloween with a toddler is so much more fun than it is with a newborn!  Sure, it was adorable to dress her up in a tiny costume last year, but at less than 2 months old we really didn't make a point of celebrating the day.  Yesterday was a different story. We had such a busy, busy day and Aaralee loved every minute of it. 
Auntie Carley took the day off of work just to hang out with us.  We headed to the swimming pool for  a couple hours of splashing and fun.  It had been a few months since we'd been in a pool and now that she is a crazy active toddler she is able to actually play a bit, rather than just sit in her baby seat and float.  She fell asleep in the car before we got home, taking a nice nap to prepare for the long evening ahead.   
Grandma Char (my mom) drove up from Red Deer to spend the night with us.  Ryan has been working out of town for 2 weeks now, so I appreciate any adult interaction that comes my way.  
We put Aaralee in her Dorothy costume and set off to the mall for some trick or treating!! 
Let me start off by saying that pre-parenthood I vowed to never go trick or treating at a mall.  Honestly, had my mom not driven up we probably would have stayed home, but I'm glad that we didn't.  Why the mall instead of door to door like real trick or treating?  Well, for starters, it was cold outside. Mild for October 31st, but rainy and cold for a toddler.  She would have been so bundled up that you would have never seen her adorable costume. Not only that, but I take Aaralee on walks to the mailbox several times a week and more often than not I have to carry her the entire way because she has an obsession with trying to escape the sidewalk and walk on the road.  Something about that just seems unsafe...
So off to the mall we went.  We had to leave the other half of her costume at home because dogs aren't allowed in the mall and Toto (Niko) is a dog. I also realized halfway to the mall that I'd forgot to bring her tutu.... the one that I spent most of Wednesday evening making. She didn't seem to mind, despite me apologizing for being the worst mom ever.  
Once we were at the mall it was time to collect candy!! It didn't matter that I'd never let her eat it, once she caught on to the fact that people were standing there giving her things to keep, she was thrilled. The fact that she was allowed to roam freely around the mall probably increased her excitement levels, as she's normally confined to a wrap or stroller due to her runaway tendencies.  She raced around giggling and grinning like the happiest little girl in the world.  
Although she's still a bit too young to understand the concept, I loved watching her enjoy herself so much and I can't wait for all of the years to come... things will only get more fun from here!  
I hope that you all had equally as awesome Halloween evenings and that you are recovering from your sugar hangover this afternoon.  

family fall fun

Oct 24, 2014

Oh Blog, my dear Blog.  I spend half of my life wishing that I had more exciting things to write about, and the other half too busy to write.  Life is good. Sometimes it's busy, sometimes it's boring.... but overall, it's really, really good.  Now that I find myself home on a Friday night with my husband working away and the baby fast asleep, I figured you are all deserving of an update! 
We've been on the go the past few weekends.  First, there was a wedding in Calgary. Ryan's cousin Kor married his beautiful bride and Ryan was the designated wedding photographer!  This in turn meant a day of me chasing him around with a stroller packed full of camera equipment and our restless daughter.  It was a long day filled with love, delicious food, and an exhausted me.  I'm so happy for the newlyweds. Some couples just radiate love, and they are certainly among them.
The next day was Thanksgiving Sunday.  We proceeded to Red Deer for turkey and all of the fixings with my side of the family. My mom proudly served pumpkin pie, despite the fact that Ryan and I (and now Aaralee!) are the only ones in the family who actually enjoy it.  Everything was delicious, and I felt as though I didn't need to eat for about a week... until the next day rolled around and it was time to repeat the celebrations with Ryan's side of the family. What's the best part of being married? Well, aside from my husband it's the fact that we get to celebrate each holiday twice. Two Thanksgivings?! Two Christmases?!  Marriage is awesome.  
Thanksgiving was a lot more fun this year as opposed to last year.  Instead of the screaming newborn that I tried desperately to calm, Aaralee is now a hungry toddler who enjoyed her turkey as much as the rest of us. I was feeling especially thankful.  My little family is so amazing.

That week I found out that I was the privileged winner of an Uppymama draw!  If you know much anything about baby wearing, or if you just hang around me enough, then you know all about Uppymama wraps. These are the Ferraris of baby wraps and so sought after that you must enter a draw just to win the right to purchase one.  I know that it sounds crazy, and a year ago I thought the same. I somehow got caught up in the hype and needed to have my very own.  After months of entering, I'd finally won! My own Uppy wrap! Although Aaralee doesn't let me wrap her nearly as much these days, I plan to have more children in the future so it was a worthy investment.  
The only catch was that we'd have to drive back to Calgary to pick the wrap up.  We took this as an opportunity to have a little family getaway. We booked a cozy hotel room and spent the weekend strolling through the city... eating, shopping, and visiting with some local friends.  It was a wonderful little trip!

I've also been keeping busy lately taking photos! Who knew that I'd actually have the opportunity to photograph so many sweet new babies?! It's so much fun getting to cuddle tiny little ones as I reminisce about when Aaralee was so small.  Having my own little bit of income isn't so bad either!  


Oct 9, 2014

You smell that, Canada? No, your nose does not deceive you... Thanksgiving has arrived and our homes are filled with the incredible aromas of turkey and all of the fixings. I love this holiday.  With a wedding and not one but two turkey dinners ahead of me, I'm going to estimate my weight gain to be approximately 7 pounds by the time that the weekend is through. That's okay. I don't go to the gym every weekday so that I can eat in moderation.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon all that we are thankful for, and believe me... my list seems to grow each year.  I'm truly so fortunate in so many aspect of my life and it's important to remind myself of the big picture when little things bother me.  So without further ado, my 2014 list of gratitude.
I'm thankful for my daughter... my crazy, goofy, beautiful child.  Every day is amazing because they are all spent with her.... which brings me to my next point.  I'm thankful for the ability to stay home with her despite maternity leave being over and done with.  I realize that this is truly a luxury and I am so incredibly fortunate that we can make this situation work, because this mommy has terrible separation anxiety.

I'm thankful for my husband for supporting this decision and accepting that he is now the sole source of income in our family... minus the occasional photo shoot that earns me a tiny percentage of my former salary.  I'm thankful for those photo shoots and the confidence that people put in my abilities.   They give me the opportunity to make a bit of extra money, snuggle adorable babies, and interact with other grown ups.  Back to my husband... I'm thankful that he's a great husband and an even better father.  He's so much fun and would do anything for Aaralee. Our baby doesn't even know how lucky she is. 

I'm thankful for my health.  2014 has been a tough year in terms of people close to me struggling with health issues.  I lost my Grandma and a former coworker to cancer in the spring, and I know many people suffering from various ailment. I wake up healthy every day and I try to appreciate that fact for those who no longer are able to do the same.

I'm thankful for all of my family... my side, Ryan's side, and my friends that are practically family.  Raising a baby is hard work and the encouragement and help over the past year has been so very appreciated.   

I'm thankful for the fact that having a baby hasn't meant sacrificing my love of travel.  Sure, I no longer travel for a living, but we've managed a few getaways and Aaralee has visited some pretty awesome places in her short life.  

I'm thankful for my fur baby for his unconditional love and hours of entertaining his the baby. Those two love each other so much and there is nothing more adorable than watching them play. 

Of course there are far too many things to be thankful for and far too little time to describe each one.  I really couldn't ask for much more than my little family, our warm, safe home and the turkey dinners that we about to enjoy.
Happy Thanksgiving... and thank you for reading my blog throughout the years!! 


Money can't buy you happiness... but it can buy chocolate and coffee and really, what is the difference?

Oct 2, 2014

Hello October! See you soon, Thanksgiving and Halloween!! There is so much to look forward to in the coming weeks, but so much to fear as well.  It's evident each brisk morning... winter is fast approaching and I personally am not the least bit prepared for 6 months of bundling up and hibernating indoors.  Have you met my child? My constantly on the go, into everything child?! I envision what it will be like to spend every day cooped up in the house.  We might both go insane.  Mostly me. And oh, the mess this house shall become.  
I've been in a bit of a rut lately.  While there is absolutely nowhere that I'd rather be than home with my daughter, it's definitely no easy task to give up having my own income.  I like to browse Etsy and buy unnecessary things and treat myself to the occasional fancy coffee.... and maybe even get a haircut once every 6 months. Before I made the decision not to return to work we determined that it was financially feasible for me to stay home, but I knew that it would only be a matter of time before guilt set in.  I can't kiss my husband goodbye as he heads to work each morning and then proceed to spend all of his money.  I need my own income, even if it is only a small amount. Even if it's just enough to buy Ryan's Christmas presents without having to whip out his credit card for the purchase. 
Before I continue, allow me to state my disclaimer:  I understand that being a mother is a job in itself and that if I was working we'd still have to pay for childcare. I realize that spending the days with my baby is far more important than sipping lattes or online shopping. I respect all stay at home moms because this is a tough job, and if you are capable of setting your pride aside and accepting that you don't contribute to the family income, I commend you.   I'm not trying to offend anyone here, this is just the way that I feel about my personal situation.  My husband is supportive of me staying home and has never once complained about my lack of contribution.  
So I set about brainstorming ways to make an income that didn't sacrifice my ability to stay home with my daughter.  I could own a home based business, but all that says to me is multi-level marketing which is something that does not appeal to me in the least.  I could invent something, but so far nothing useful has come to mind and I don't have high hopes of this being my get rich quick scheme. I could get a casual part time job, but with my lack of qualifications I'd be settling for minimum wage and once childcare was factored in I'd basically be defeating the purpose.  
With all of this considered, I took to the basement in search of anything that I could list on Kijiji. I love Kijiji.  Unfortunately, my minimalistic ways and the fact that I've moved across the world twice mean that I own very little that I can actually get rid of. Ryan on the other hand, has boxes that have never been touched since we moved into our house nearly 3 years ago, but I can't just go selling all of his belongings.  
I'd nearly given up hope of having money to call my own, until it dawned on me. For years, people have been asking me to take photos and offering to pay me in exchange for my time.  I've always declined, comparing myself to my many talented photographer friends... and my husband.  I'm lightyears away from that level of talent, and it felt like a crime to take anyone's money.  I've taken many photos for friends and family over the years, but I've never took a dollar in return.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people purchase a camera and automatically label themselves as a photographer despite lack of knowledge or experience.  To charge people money would make me just as guilty. Yet despite the fact that there are so many photographers that could do better, people still asked me to take photos... so I obviously couldn't be that bad... could I?!  I'm finally willing to accept that while I may never be as talented as the photographers that I know, I've got a pretty decent grasp of what I'm doing with my camera and it is something that I actually really enjoy doing.  We all have to start somewhere, right?  
So with all of this said, I've finally started saying yes to the people who have asked for photos.  I spend my days taking photos of my own child (not to mention an insane amount of money spent on photo props since her birth) so why not of other kids as well?  I still refuse to label myself as a photographer, but if you'd like to fund my coffee addiction and buy my husband's Christmas gifts... and you don't mind my toddler tagging along... then yes, I will photograph your children for you. But not your wedding... never your wedding.  And if you don't want my photos, feel free to just send me your money anyways.  Just kidding. Kind of.  

And on an entirely different note, I am now the proud owner of an iPhone 6 (so now I really need the money) and I'm slightly obsessed with the time-lapse video feature. Here is my daughter, destroying the house at high speed. 

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!