Aug 1, 2011

Dear Readers

How do I write after so long? What should I fill you in on? Where do I start?

Should I start with telling you about being back to work (I love it), or what life is like working full time (crazy), or what it's like to have a live-out nanny (amazing & life saving), or how Mason is handling the transition (chewed 2 baby toys yesterday), or about what Madelyn's like at 14 months (incredible, almost walking, loves standing, loves to climb stairs, always talking, hilarious, adorable, complete love).

I am so far behind in blogging. I've had all of these post ideas in my head but there just aren't enough hours in the day. And when I spend all of my day working at a laptop I just want to come home, have a cuddle, eat some dinner, watch Big Brother, read my book and go to bed! Finally a long weekend is here and we are spending all three days at home getting caught up on life. It feels good to type again.

I bet you're all wondering about the new green theme? It's been almost a year since I launched hilaryinalderwood, so it was time for a change. The pretty background you're looking at is my extremely wild tomato garden. This year I built my first ever Herb & Veggie garden. It's a bit of an experiment. So far I've learned that you should really follow the instructions on plant spacing, hours of sun and watering :). We'll have a good harvest from our herbs, cherry tomato's, and peppers, but I don't think I'll try broccoli or cauliflower again. And I will definitly re-think where I place the strawberries and green onions next year.

Here are the pictures that inspired the new background:

Jun 6, 2011

Travelling with an Entourage

Wow, being a ftshm is crazy busy. I've had to completely let blogging slide for the past month+. I'm just not sure where to fit it in my schedule. Free time is harder to come by being back to work, even with Nanny A+ around. If the weather is nice, I'm out working on my gardens; if it's raining, I'm catching up on my inside project lists. How does Martha do it?

This week I'm travelling for training. I wasn't yet ready to leave baby m at home for 4 days, so with the help of some cheap Jet Blue tickets I decided to travel with an entourage. This was my 4th plane trip with Madelyn. She is really such an amazing baby. The flight was easy, she's been very flex with food, nap time, sleeping in yet another new place...I wish I could say what the secret recipe is but I really think it's just her. I suppose it could have something to do with how we've exposed her to travel so much already...but I'm probably just jinxing myself if I think I had anything to do with this.

Anyway, yesterday we got into NYC early afternoon and spent the day strolling and shopping in South Street Seaport, Midtown and the West Village. We finished it all off with dinner at Spice Market. If you are planning a trip to Manhattan anytime soon I highly recommend this restaurant. I originally heard about it 5 years ago from a friend who goes there every time she visits NYC, and it has yet to fail. Make sure to book a reso weeks in advance so you can get a good table.

Today we ventured into the office and Madelyn took her first training course in MMM. Way to go baby girl, mommy is so proud of you!

May 15, 2011

11,328 hits, 100 posts, 52 pictures, and 2 happy birthdays

I was planning on doing something special to celebrate the 10,000th hit on my blog. Funny thing is we already reached that # during my little hiatus last month. When I just checked a few minutes ago, the tally was 11,328. I have a huge smile on my face. Thank you everyone for your support and following hilaryinalderwood. This is great motivation to get back into blogging on a more regular basis. Looks like I'll have to start thinking of a cool giveaway for hit #15,000.

Keeping with the celebratory theme, this is officially my 100th post on the blog. Here's a list of some top posts of all time (which are also some of my favorites) in case you haven't read them yet:
Another HUGE thing I'm celebrating today is completing this. OMG, what a task. Once she turned 21 weeks and figured out what the paper was all was challenging to say the least. But also super fun and what a payout. The only thing I have left to do is spend a few 100 hours in photoshop creating my final poster. 52 weeks is a perfect 4 x 13 = LOVE IT!

Last but not least, we are celebrating 2 birthdays this week! As most of you know, Madelyn turned 1 on Thurs, May 12th (See fb pics here). On Friday, May 13th, Madelyn received the best birthday present of all from her Auntie Dawn and Uncle Omer - a little girl cousin, Esme! Our whole family is excited for these two girls to celebrate their birthdays together.

I was so proud of myself that I got the 3D ducky cake to work on my 2nd try. A warning for all other over zealous moms out there - don't waste your good flour on 3D cakes. The over baking required to hold the shape makes the cake super dry and no one eats it. I recommend cupcakes on the side...and maybe some fun sugar cookies as well :)

May 11, 2011

Go Ahead Mama, Change Your Mind

Today is Madelyn's 365th day of being her own person. I can't believe that a whole year has gone by since she was in my belly. This time last year, I was frantically finishing painting her nursery mural knowing my C was booked for the next afternoon. I remember my belly feeling super tight and even the smallest kick or nudge to my ribs felt like being hit with a bowling ball. Maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. I also remember all of the excitement I felt for getting to meet my little angel (boy or girl was yet tbd), I wondered who baby would look like, would baby have hair, would baby be a good baby? I remember being so happy to be on the 2nd day of my Mat leave. I had the first year all plotted out in my head. Being the Type A person that I am, I planned that:  baby would sleep in the bassinet right away (no co-sleeping), then move to the crib at 2 months; there would strictly be no bottles used until over 2 months old; I would have a 100% organic diet while I nursed; baby would eat 100% organic food and absolutely no gluten/dairy in first year; and baby would never eat french fries. 

Well, it turns out that once little baby Madelyn (girl, looked like dad for first 6 months then started to look like me, still doesn't have hair, and is a text book angel baby except for when teething) entered the world a lot of the ideas I had in my head became fluid as the year went on. I quickly learned it's okay for a mom to change her mind.

As parents, our first mindset change was with regards to co-sleeping. Madelyn slept with me for the first month of her life while poor daddy was exiled to the spare room (he was actually okay with that since it meant uninterrupted sleep).  I will forever hold those memories close to my heart. There is nothing like the joy of holding a sleeping newborn in your arms. Watching their eyelids flutter and having a little pool of drool build up on your chest. And the smell of a sleeping newborn, complete heaven.

I've also learned that it's okay for Dad to change his mind as well. At the beginning, dad was pretty comfortable with the idea of me breastfeeding our baby until a year old, but wasn't really into the idea of me nursing a toddler. Recently we had a talk and both agreed that for our family, and our baby, the right thing to do is to continue breastfeeding into her second year of life. At the present time we have no intention to wean and we're both feeling great about that decision.

Probably the biggest game changer has been my decision to go back to work. Yes, that's right, as of May 16th, 'ftm' hilaryinalderwood, will be changed to 'swm' hilary in alderwood (i.e. 'superhero working mom'). For some of my readers this may come as a big surprise, others probably saw the writing on the wall. I have always loved my career work as a Market Research Consultant. As the year went on I found I started to miss the different stimulation that comes from working in a fast-paced, number-crunching business job. If you asked me 364 days ago if I would ever go back to work, I would have said very firmly, "no". But the first half of my mat leave was completely different than the second half, and I've learned that it's okay to change my mind. It's okay to nurture myself while also caring for my family and my baby. We can all be happy in this new arrangement, where we all get to focus a little bit on ourselves.

So how are we going to make it work? Insert super nanny! She is everything we could have ever asked for as our new addition to our family. Nanny A started 2 weeks before my return for a gradual transition. Maddy and Mason have both taken so well to her, like she's been a part of our family for much longer. Although we are early into this new phase of our lives I can tell it's all going to work out just fine. And that's a really good feeling.

I will end this post with a sneak peak picture from Maddy's 1st birthday party last Saturday. While she was literally a total party pooper (eye teeth coming in, sick, cranky, clingy, poopy, the works), we did get one picture of the two of us sans tears.

I love you little baby Madelyn and I can't wait to celebrate your real first birthday tomorrow!

Apr 26, 2011

Happy Easter!

"What are these fun things?"

"Look mom, a blue egg!"

"Tastes pretty good"

"Just kidding...I'm so funny...hahaha"

"Don't I just crack you up? Crack...hahaha"

"What do you think, should I dump all these eggs on floor?"

"Hugs for bunny - Happy Easter everyone!"

First attempt at the birthday cake

Creative save for our Easter cake

Apr 19, 2011

1st Birthday Party Planning

3-D Rubber Ducky PanPicking the theme for Madelyn's first birthday party was pretty easy. Consistently, her favorite thing over the past few months is anything Rubber Ducky. Actually, she just said her 6th word this week: "duck" [I'm trying really hard to get it on video to share. It's extremely high pitch and super cute].

Lucky for me it's Easter season so there are duck things everywhere. We were at Bulk Barn last week [amazing if you haven't been], and stumbled across this 3D ducky cake pan. It looks easy enough and I was able to find numerous images on google of other bakers finished products so I'm giving it a shot.  Here's some examples of what it may look like:


I also came across these - rubber ducky candles and icing decorations. Cute, huh? My dear friend Corinne showed me how to use the icing decorations in the center of flowers at my baby shower last year. I think I'll copy that for the birthday party.
Rubber Ducky 6-Piece Candle SetRubber Ducky Icing Decorations

Then, this weekend, I was waiting in line at Michaels Craft store and browsed this cook book:

It says you can use a timbit (sorry, "munchkin" or "donut hole" for my American friends) and a marshmallow to transform your ordinary cupcake into a rubber ducky. Fun! If that doesn't work, It looks like I could also use rolled fondant to make rubber ducky toppers:


I think my biggest challenge with these plans will be perfecting my icing. Every buttercream icing recipe that I've tried has turned out on the soft side. If you have an awesome recipe please send to me so I can give yours a try!

Aside from the food, Madelyn and I spent an afternoon at a few toy stores and good old Dollarama picking out some awesome goodie bag treats and door prizes for best dressed in Yellow. Time to get excited!

Apr 18, 2011

Alderwood Wives Book Club: 3 Reviews

I've been a bad blogger. I hate to throw out excuses, but April has been one busy month so far. We had a few great days of warm weather :) that got us kick-started on rejuvenating our back yard (pictures to come soon), and then when the cold weather came back I could barely motivate myself to sit on the couch and mope.

I'm going to ease back into blogging with an easy post. I'm 3 months behind in book club reviews. So here it goes...

The Book Of NegroesJanuary: The Book Of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill - We were on the fence with this one. Some of us loved it, but most thought it dragged on. As a group we regretted reading it right after A Long Way Gone, since it de-sensitized us to the content. The novel follows the life and journey of an African girl/woman forced into slavery in the South East US.
The writing style is nice, but it's a big book, so if you're a slow reader I'd pass on this one. I give it a 3/5 (I didn't finish it)

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A NovelFebruary: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel, by Lisa See - This was my first pick for the club. It is one of my favorite books of all time and the best of Lisa See's offering. I think everyone agreed with me so I will safely pass on a 5/5 rating. The story is set in remote 19th-century China and follows a deep friendship of two women who endure footbinding, arranged marriage and social codes of conduct. Each page is filled with foreign mystery, yet feelings true to any culture.

The HelpMarch: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett - Unanimous: Great Read! 3 unforgettable women in Mississippi in the 60's: 2 maids and 1 trust fund cotton farm heiress. The novel is filled with humour and hope, about mothers, daughters, caregivers and friends. Each voice keeps the storyline fresh and has you coming back for more. 4/5 stars from me.
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