Gender Neutral Baby Shower Inspiration

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As I was preparing for this baby shower I kept thinking about how we choose to celebrate. I LOVE planning an event to make someone feel valued and loved. I like to think through the person I’m celebrating and what they love, their style, what interest them, etc. When we stop and think about the person behind the celebration it makes all the planning and prepping worth it and more meaningful. 

I want to share this recent celebration I hosted. My sweet friend is expecting her second child so we threw her a gender-neutral baby shower, even though she knows she is having a little boy. Her style is more neutral and so I decided to stick with a neutral theme. 

Décor

Decorations were fairly simple. The colors I wanted to stick to were white and gold mixed with greenery and wood tones. I ordered large white balloons for the corners of the dinning room along with a large BABY balloon sign in gold.  I wanted the gold balloons to be the main feature on the wall and they ended up being much larger than I expected. White tablecloths and lots of greenery really dressed up the food tables. I went to a local wholesale floral place here in Birmingham (Davis Wholesale) and also picked up a few extra flowers from Trader Joes. We used plastic wear and they were all gold or clear, which went perfectly with our color scheme. 

Food

Willow + Fifth had the privilege of collaborating with Mason Dixon for this event. Mason Dixon provided all the food items for the shower and I must say it was INCREDIBLE! Mason Dixon is a 100% Gluten Free bistro and bakery. If you have been following along with me for any amount of time you know how important this is for me living with Celiac Disease. We had a brunch spread consisting of Quiche, Fruit Skewers, Scones, Sugar Cookies, Cake Pops and the most beautiful Cake. It was amazing being able to scan the table and not think twice about what I put in my mouth. Mason Dixon also provided a MOM-OSA Bar which everyone enjoyed. 

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Mason Dixon also provided our party favor... Gluten Free Macarons beautifully packaged for guest to take home! How adorable are these?!  

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I just have to add, Mason Dixon has a location in Huntsville and Homewood, Alabama. If you are local to Birmingham you must go checkout the Homewood location. You can order food, coffee or they have things you can grab and go. The quality of their food is incredible. I am so thankful for Mason Dixon and the opportunity to enjoy delicious food free of any gluten! 

Games

Last but not least here are a few cute game ideas to have at a baby shower. I love having something for guest to do that does not require a lot of work or facilitating. I found these Baby Prediction and Advice Cards on amazon for guests to fill out while eating and talking. We also had the guests write a funny saying or letter on diapers. Our guest book was a children’s book for everyone to sign and mom to take home for her little ones. 

I hope this gives you a little inspiration on how to throw a beautiful baby shower for that friend or family member! And I hope those local to Birmingham also check out Mason Dixon for your next catering event or lunch out, especially if you are gluten free. 

Leave a comment below about how you love to celebrate or feel loved and celebrated by others! I’m always wanting to hear from others! 

*This post is sponsored by Mason Dixon through our collaboration, all opinions are my own. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Guide Nashville, TN

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We recently spent a weekend in Nashville, TN to celebrate our anniversary. We both were excited to see Nashville as neither of us had been there.  

I have to be honest, we were not immediately wowed by Nashville as a city. Coming from Austin, TX, the live music capital of the world and home of some of the greatest food that has ever hit my pallet, we were surprised to find a few places we really did enjoy. I will not share all the places we went but I will share a few. I'm not going to tell you to check out all the country music and museums because you can google Nashville and it will give you a fancy list. These are just a few places we went, enjoyed and would recommend! 

Sights and Shops:

Nashville Farmers Market- Every Saturday and Sunday the Nashville Farmers Market is open and it was defiantly a highlight for me. I loved seeing all the vendors and goods that were offered. I highly recommend going! 

World War II Memorial- If you are looking for a place to walk off the delicious food you've eaten in Nashville, this park is friendly to walkers and is right across from the Farmers Market! 

BATCH- My favorite little shop for goodies from Nashville. This is located inside the large building connected to the Farmers Market. It has so many cute goodies from Nashville. We bought the kids a Nashville coloring book! I loved the shop! 

White's Mercantile- Another great local shop. Prices are a little higher but they had cute gifts, clothing, baby items etc. Go check it out! 

Herban Market- You can grab food, coffee and healthy grocery items not to mention their massive collection of cooking oils! It is located in Franklin, TN right outside of Nashville. 

Coffee Shops:

Sump Coffee- Located in an office building this coffee shop is clean and unique. It has a modern feel with expert baristas using modern techniques to brew your coffee. 

Red Bicycle- Located in Germantown this coffee shop is a Nashville must see. They had great coffee and a wonderful environment to sit and chat! 

Restaurants:

Little Octopus- The atmosphere was AMAZING! Clean, crisp, and the food tasted like it was straight from the garden. A wonderful lunch or brunch place while visiting. You have to try their Hibiscus Sprits! 

Peg Leg Porker- We stood in line for probably 30 minutes but it was worth it. Delicious BBQ. A great lunch spot. 

Mas Tacos- A bit of a hole in the wall, which adds to its charm. We have had the hardest time finding real tacos here in Alabama and this place satisfied our desire! It is amazing and a great lunch or early dinner spot. We opted to sit outside which I would highly recommend. They had an amazing Margarita! 

Chauhan Ale & Masala House- Located in the Gulch was an incredible restaurant. My one note is you need to make a reservation. We did not and it was a three hour wait, we opted to eat at the bar so we could taste the incredible Indian food that was offered. I want to go back.. it was so tasty! Great dinner place.  Take a quick read about the Executive Chef and you will want to say you've tasted her food =) 

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We loved visiting a new city and I hope next time you are in Nashville you will try some of these places too !

 

Wild Animal Brunch

Are you needing a little Birthday Inspiration? I am always looking for cute, cheap ways to make others feel celebrated! I hosted a Wild Animal Brunch Birthday for our two year old. 

We had the party outside in the backyard. It was very windy the morning of the party which made things a little more challenging but it all turned out great. We had 25 people present at the party. I ended up going $9 over our budget but I was very happy I stayed as close to the budget as I did. For those who missed the birthday budget chat visit this cute little Tea Party BirthdayI threw.   

I wanted the décor to be simple and woodsy but not too masculine as this was for my daughter’s birthday. I bought little animal figurines from the dollar tree and spray painted them gold. I laid them out on the food table and they also ended up being weights to hold down the flying napkins! I bought a number 2 balloon to hang in the center of a greenery piece I made from our back yard. The morning of the party I collected my stick and greenery from our yard and tied it the way I wanted it and hung it over the table as a centerpiece.  I absolutely loved the little honey bear cups that held juice and chocolate milk for the guests. I tried to stick with a white and gold theme, which is why I bought all gold plastic wear. 

Over the years I’ve steadily collected serving platters and tablecloths that I use for any events we host at our home. I’ve always looked for neutral pieces so that they can be utilized for any theme. The wooden trunk displays were borrowed from a friend.  

As for food, it was a brunch. We had fun picking wild animal names for the various food items:

Mini Quiche- Critter Quiche

Sausage- Wild Game

Croissants- Duck Feed

Fruit- Birdie Bites 

Nuts and Pretzels- Deer Corn 

Juice- Honey Bear Juice 

Mint Water- Watering Hole 

Our daughter is allergic to eggs so I always make a homemade egg-free cake! If you follow along on Instagram you probably saw me making the cake. But for those of you who didn’t, here is my little secret for making an easy egg-free birthday cake. 

Recipe: 

You buy an egg-free box cake (Just check the labels and make sure there are no eggs in the mix.)

Substitute the eggs with applesauce. For every egg called for on the box, substitute a 1/3-cup of unsweetened applesauce. 

Substitute the water with sprite. 

That is it! You then follow the box directions as usual. However, I usually have to bake the cake a little longer than usual. The cake turned out extremely moist and the guests loved it! 

Total I spent $59 for this wild birthday party and we had such a lovely time visiting with friends!

Décor Items I Bought: 

Balloon(this is not the exact one but similar) 

Animal Figures(I bought these individually at Dollar Tree) 

 Spray Paint

 Honey Bear Cups

Birthday on a Budget

Tea Party

When you have multiple kiddos, birthdays get tricky. As a mama I want my kids to feel celebrated but I also don’t want to break the bank on birthdays, especially because our house celebrates four birthdays within the first three months of the New Year. This year my husband and I decided to allot a dollar amount to each child and they got to choose how they celebrated their birthday.

 

I want to share a few ideas to make a simple, yet fun and creative, birthday party. Mamas who have little girls, this one is for you.

 

Our afternoon tea party was a great way to invite a few of my daughter’s friends and their moms. We had 11 people present for the tea party. The girls came dressed in their finest tea dresses and the mamas visited while managing the amount of cake and tea that was spilt.

 

I sent a free online invitation to each of the families. No need to pay for an invitation when an online one is free and easy to get an RSVP.  I went to Trader Joe’s and bought discounted flowers and eucalyptus. I hung eucalyptus over the table and placed a few flowers in mason jars on the tables. I wanted the table to feel elegant so I used white dishes I already had- again, free. I did buy pink plastic utensils to make the clean up easier. I bought a 97 cent balloon and tassel arrangement to place by the food table.  

 

The morning of the party I ran to our local grocery store and picked up a clearance cake and cupcakes. They were the perfect size, very elegant and tasted just as good. Cheap but beautiful! Win- win in my book! We had heart shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, homemade muffins, crackers and hummus and last but not least non-caffeinated tea. I also provided juice and mint water for those who didn’t want something hot.

 

I always love to have a little game to play at a party. My sister helped me by making this game; pin the teacup on the saucer. The girls loved it and it was cheap to make. I only had to buy the white poster board and doilies. I had the construction paper and glue. We also had coloring pages I printed off from my personal computer. I downloaded a few sheets of teacups for the girls to color as we waited for everyone to arrive at the very beginning! It was a great time-filler for the girls before we really got started with the party.

 

Total I spent $50 for this amazing tea party and it was a total hit! It was a beautiful party. I stayed within my budget, which made my husband and me happy! Our girl felt celebrated and valued, not to mention it was a great time visiting with other moms and their daughters. 

Adoptive Breastfeeding: What You Need To Know

Adoptive Breastfeeding Part III

I will never forget the look in the pediatrician’s eyes as she walked into our hospital room and saw me breastfeeding our 12-hour-old adopted daughter. She looked uncomfortable. She barely made eye contact with me. Then she asked, “I’m sorry, are you the birth mom or the adoptive mom?”

She was confused.

With a big confident smile I responded, “I’m the adoptive mom… I induced lactation to be able to breastfeed our sweet girl.”

She was shocked, with big eyes and a polite smile, “OH… I didn’t know you could do that and it actually work!”

When I tell people I breastfed our youngest they usually have a similar response to the pediatrician. I usually chuckle a bit and respond with a confident, “I know right? It is amazing!”

Adoptive breastfeeding is AMAZING! The fact that our bodies are able to produce milk for a child you did not carry is just…remarkable. So few adoptive moms (and even those in the medical field…obviously) know about this option, which is why I want to share how I induced lactation.

How I Began

I am attempting to keep to basic information, so I won’t spend too much time on all the details. However, if you are interested in knowing more because you are considering a journey down this path, please reach out! I would love to chat!

When we met our daughter’s birth mom we only had 8 weeks until our little one was due. We were not planning to privately adopt at the time but God had a plan. We were fostering at the time and had not considered a traditional infant adoption. But HELLO… I am so thankful we don’t write our own stories because His are far grander than I could ever dream.

With only 8 weeks to start the process I followed this Accelerated Protocol . This website is a wealth of knowledge on the issue of adoptive breastfeeding if you would like more knowledge on the topic. I took 20 days worth of hormones (a simple birth control pill) along with 20mg of domperidone 4 times a day. After those 20 days I stopped the birth control pill but continued the domperidone and began pumping EVERY TWO HOURS. Yes, you read that right. I pumped every 2 hours by day and every 3 hours by night with a double electric breast pump. Within the first week of pumping I began producing drops. Each drop was carefully stored, because I felt as if that breast milk was GOLD my friends!

By the time our little one arrived I had saved a fair amount of my own breast milk, which was really helpful.

I exclusively breastfeed our daughter the first 2 months of her life. As soon as we got home from the hospital I started taking fenugreek, a natural herb, to boost my milk supply. I ate a lot of oatmeal, stayed hydrated, and baked lactation cookies to continue to help boost my milk supply.

We had issues to overcome in the beginning like a tongue and lip tie that made feeding difficult but that was soon sorted out and she was nursing well and my supply was sufficient.

After 2 months the doctors were concerned our little bundle of joy was not gaining the weight she needed. We tried the Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) on the breast but she did not take well to the tube and honestly it was more work than I could manage.  

We started her on formula around 2.5 months due to the pediatrician encouraging us it was the best thing. Honestly, I wish I had gotten a second opinion. My supply was what she needed but the pediatrician felt my milk was not fatty enough for her. I began to rotate feedings, one on the breast, the next on the bottle. I continued pumping and storing throughout the day after comfort nursing her because my supply was still healthy. I would add it into the formula and continue giving her my breast milk through bottles as well.  

At 6 months my daughter was comfort nursing a couple times a day but I was tired of pumping. I decided to stop pumping. Having induced lactation with such little time to prepare I was very happy I made it 6 months with producing milk.  

I am so thankful we had the privilege of beginning our journey as mother and daughter so close and vulnerable with one another. I can humbly say our connection is deep and strong. I am so thankful we chose the journey of adoptive breastfeeding. Sitting on this side of having breastfed I can confidently report all the hard work was totally worth it!

*Please note I did consult my doctor and lactation consultant before starting this process. My doctor was open-minded to the idea of inducing lactation and comfortable with my plan.*  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

  

Bonding through Breastfeeding

A Note Before Reading: I am aware adoptive breastfeeding is not for every adoption case. I have two babies I did not breastfeed because of various circumstances. I do not think breastfeeding is the ONLY way to bond with your child, but I do believe it is an amazing opportunity if one is able. I am simply sharing my journey with our youngest daughter and spreading awareness of Adoptive Breastfeeding through these posts. I know some mama's who birth their babies are not able to breastfeed. There is absolutely no shame or guilt meant to be portrayed here if you have chosen differently or have circumstances that have hindered you from breastfeeding. I believe everyone's family story is unique and beautiful, I'm just sharing part of mine!

Adoptive Breastfeeding Part II

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She was here, finally.

It was late in the night. She was just minutes old. She had been wiped down, but still held evidence of delivery. The nurses had left the three of us in the dark hospital room to nurse and bond for the first time. As I cradled her 8lb body to mine those dark slanted eyes began to open.

 

There we were.

She stared at me and I at her.

We were connected.

We were bonded.

We were close.

 

She effortlessly nursed for 45 minutes and I could barley believe we were here. All those hours that went into having this precious, natural God-given moment seemed totally worth it.

 

As an adoptive mama I didn’t have the privilege of birthing my daughter. God didn’t write her story or mine that way. Her beautiful birth mom carried her for nine months, and then labored many hours to bring our daughter into the world. We celebrate this in our home. We welcome the fact God wrote our daughter’s story this way. We also rejoice that God allowed me to nurse her from the moment she opened her eyes. I cannot fully explain the deep attachment that takes place between a nursing child and their mama. God created it to be this way. I’m confident He designed it this way for far deeper reasons than a nutritional one, although that reason is enormous, for sure!

 

The deep connection adoptive breastfeeding creates is undeniable. The loss our daughter experienced at birth affected her and will continue to do so her whole life. As her mama, I wanted her to know from the moment we heard about her we were “for” her. We wanted the very best for her and we knew being emotionally and physically connected to us was crucial. My husband and I had cared for many children who did not have this connection at an early age. Children who were emotionally detached or those who attached to everyone they met because they had not experienced safe, nurturing and caring. We knew the hardships for children who were unable to bond deeply their first year of life. We wanted deep, safe connection for our daughter and chose to begin that journey through adoptive breastfeeding.  

 

Many who observed us as new parents probably thought we were a little crazy. The great extent we went to bond with our little girl that first year of her life was extreme by some standards. As we now approach our daughter’s second birthday, there are no regrets. The choices we made to bond with our sweet girl make the sacrifice seem small.  

Our deep connection is unyielding.

Our profound bond is immeasurable.

Our closeness is abundant. 

 

I can’t help but think breastfeeding played an enormous part.

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing to Breastfeed our Adopted Daughter

Adoptive Breastfeeding Part I

I’ll never forget the day we met our daughter’s birth mom for the first time. She was beautiful, quiet and stronger than she knew. My husband and I sat across the table from birth mom, her sister and her own mother. The sun was dancing and the trees were swaying. Onlookers would have thought we were friends catching up over lunch. Little did they know we were partaking in an earth- shaking moment that would change all of us… forever.

 

We had just met. Birth mom asked us that day to love, nurture and care for baby girl. We were shocked, humbled and overwhelmed with love for our daughter’s birth mom and soon to be daughter. I knew our daughter’s birth mom only wanted the very best for baby girl. There was a deep humbling that took place within me when birth mom looked across the table and said we were her answered prayer.

 

Us. We were her answered prayer.  

 

It was an earth-shaking moment that left us humbled… forever.

 

You know the kind of love that is totally selfless.

The kind of love that calls you to lay your comforts down.

The kind of love that is hard to explain.

 

A mother’s love.

 

That was the kind of love I saw in birth mom that day. It was the kind of love God began to drive deeper into my own heart that day.

 

As we started preparing for baby girl we only had eight weeks until her due date. We were doing a million things to prepare our hearts and home, all the while keeping our hands open, knowing anything could happen.

 

A thought lingered in my mind.

 

Adoptive breastfeeding.

 

I began to research and talk with other women who had successfully breastfed their adoptive children.

 

I couldn’t shake it.

 

Just like any mother, I wanted the very best for our soon to be daughter. I wanted her to have the God- given nutrients I knew she needed. This, hard to explain, mother’s love grew deep roots in my heart and I was determined.

 

I didn’t know if I could produce all of what she needed, but I was hoping one day soon my daughter and I would have the privilege of partaking in one of the most natural, God-designed moments.    

 

I began the most time consuming process to induce lactation. With each waking hour I worked to produce milk, God was working to produce in me a deeper love. He was beckoning me deeper into a mother’s heart those 8 weeks leading up to our daughter’s arrival.

 

As an adoptive mama I knew there would be great obstacles to overcome with attachment. I was not naïve to the hardships in connecting, attaching and feeling emotionally bonded to our daughter and her to us. I wanted these things desperately for our baby girl… and I wanted them for me. The bonding that would come from adoptive breastfeeding was worth the sacrifice for me personally. I had to give it a try.  We are created to connect. We are created to experience the closeness of a mother’s love.

 

The kind of love that is totally selfless.

The kind of love that calls you to lay your comforts down.

The kind of love hard to explain.