13 Months Old

I’m almost a week late on this post!  Gabriella is 13 months old and has experienced quite a few changes recently!  She finally started crawling one week after her first birthday.  We baited her with Cheerios and she finally did it!  Ever since that day she has not looked back.  She is BUSY and into everything.  She’s loving her new found freedom and independence.  She loves to sample every tiny little speck she finds on the floor.  She’s very curious and wants to play with whatever toy Reuben is playing with.  This has been a season for him to learn patience and self-control 😉  Gabriella is a charmer and a talker.  She loves to talk to those around her and be involved in what is going on.  Her latest fascination is pulling on eyelashes and eyebrows.  While it shows great hand eye coordination, it can be painful and annoying at times.  Now that Gabriella is on the move, she’s not quite as laid back as she has been, but she is still very easy going.  She’s ALMOST sleeping through the night again (7 months later!!) which is a BLESSING.

Within hours of her starting to crawl, it was apparent that I need to start baby proofing again.

Gabriella has a great time playing while Reuben is in his Little Gym class every Monday. She looked too cute this day…like she was ready to hit the gym herself.

While Reuben is at school, Gabriella is my shopping buddy.  She is obviously just as relaxed by shopping at Target as I am 🙂

She’s been enjoying experiencing all the new toys that have been out of her reach or too big for her.  She thought it was hilarious to sit on the trampoline while Reuben jumped.

Such a pretty girl 🙂

Gabriella’s having the time of her life in Reuben’s room while he’s having to exercise much restraint.

She LOVES her blankie.  It is an instant calm for her.

My cute little shopping buddy peeking through the fabrics.  I love this age when even the simplest things are fun.


Fear the Beard

We’ve been planning for Reuben to be James Harden for several months BUT the night before our Family Fun Festival at our church, Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets.  SO…we had to improvise.  Reuben is obviously not very happy about the trade.

Gabriella tagged along as a Thunder cheerleader and Reuben stayed in character.

Reuben had a great time playing all the different games and collecting candy in his bucket.  He hasn’t quite figured out the strategy of picking the best candy.  He just grabbed the first thing he saw.  We’ll have to work on that…

We ran into several of our little friends.

A meeting of the minds 🙂

We had some special visitors join us!

Mommy and Daddy had to wear our Thunder gear, too!

The cutest little Thunder fans there ever were!

On Tuesday, Reuben got to wear his costume to school.  They trick-or-treated in the church lobby where the staff handed out candy and they got to end their day with a fall party!  I like how Reuben tucks his beard into his sweat band to eat 😉

This is Will, Reuben’s BFF at school.  Almost everyday when I pick Reuben up and ask him how his day was, he says, “Good!  I wrestled Will!”

Then, on Halloween night, Reuben got to dress up one last time and go to the Fall Festival at my parents’ church.  He really enjoyed playing more games, getting more candy, and jumping on the big inflatables!

He even got his face painted.  When the lady asked what he wanted on his face, his first request was Rumble (the Thunder mascot), but we settled on a basketball on one cheek and OKC on the other.

And, as usual, Gabriella was just sitting back and enjoying life!

Gabriella’s 1st Birthday Party

I planned and prepared for Gabriella’s 1st birthday party for a couple of months.  I always want to make sure that my kids feel celebrated on their special day, but I was extra invested in making Gabriella’s day special as I viewed it as not only a celebration of her first year, but also a day to thank God for the miracle of her life.

The theme of Gabriella’s party transformed as I worked on it.  Originally, I planned to do a polka dot party, but as I searched for the perfect fabric, I stumbled across the “Ruby” line by Bonnie and Camille and fell in love.  I used that fabric as the inspiration for color and then used ideas off Pinterest as the inspiration for the specific details.  The theme ended up as vintage, girly, burlap and lace…if you can call that a theme 😉

My sister hosted my niece’s 1st birthday at my mom’s house and the space worked out really well.  After Brynlee’s party, I asked my mom if I could have Gabriella’s party there, too.  I’m so glad we did!  I love my parents’ house and my mom had lots of decor that we could pull in that was just perfect for the theme.

And now for some details on the decor…

I received my inspiration for Gabriella’s invitation HERE and used my Cameo to make it happen.

I used THIS tutorial to make the brown paper bag stars and the ever faithful tissue paper pom poms are from none other than Martha. (I cut the tissue paper in half to make the smaller pom poms.)

The drink dispensers and metal bucket are both gifts I received from the annual Christmas Gathering at The Church at Battle Creek.

I used THIS tutorial to help me make Gabriella’s party hat.

I got the idea for the high chair mat HERE and used THIS tutorial to ruffle the crepe paper.

My mom found the shutters from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Tulsa, and while I was laying in bed one night, I had the idea to use them as a display for some favorite pictures from her first year.  I love the way it turned out!

The paper plates and white serving trays are from Hobby Lobby, the buckets are from the dollar spot at Target, and I just used a couple yards of muslin to make the table runner.

A closer view of the shutters.  I got some of the mini clothespins from the dollar spot at Target and some at Hobby Lobby.  I printed the Instagram pictures using the PostalPix app on my phone.

I made the birthday banner using my Cameo and hung it with baker’s twine.

I found this picture frame at a craft show and added chicken wire to the back using a staple gun and used it to display a picture from Gabriella’s 1st year photo shoot.  A little tip regarding chicken wire…it is pretty cheap, but comes in a large roll (for about $9).  I would recommend going in with some friends to buy some.  I have TONS left after this little project.

I used the Ruby fabric to make a pennant banner for the staircase railing.  I didn’t really follow a tutorial, but there are TONS on Pinterest.

I got the inspiration for this wreath that hung on the front door HERE; however, I didn’t use a wreath form, I used foam tubing to make my own.  I saw my friend Joleen do this one time at a craft night and it worked great so I decided to give it a try.  The tutorial is HERE.  Joleen had the idea to stuff it with newspaper to make it more sturdy.  I think I overstuffed mine so the shape was a little wonky, but it did the job.

I ordered iced sugar cookies from Barbee Cookies to give away as the party favor.  In our family, no celebration is really complete without some Barbee cookies.  They are DELICOUS.  I got the chalkboard from THIS shop on Etsy.

Our lunch menu included:  Ham and Swiss sliders (these were a huge hit), potato chips, carrots/dip, and grapes & strawberries with toffee dip (I use powdered sugar instead of granulated).

For drinks, I served juice boxes for the kids, strawberry lemon water, and punch.  Our punch is always a crowd pleaser.  I’m not sure where we got the recipe, but it is:

  • 1 frozen can of apple juice, lemonade, orange juice, and white grape juice
  • 1 large can of pineapple juice
  • Combine all juices and add a generous portion of ice (we prefer Sonic ice).
  • Pour ginger ale over the top (I usually use about 1 liter)

For dessert, I ordered cupcakes from Sams (30 cupcakes for $13 and they are AWESOME) and served ice cream using THIS idea.  I made cupcake toppers using my Cameo.

And now for some pictures from the actual party:

Getting the birthday girl all dressed and ready.  I think she’s excited!!

I have the most amazing family.  We really make a great team when it comes to hosting events.  We spent a couple hours Friday night decorating the house and when I arrived at my mom’s house at 8:00 Saturday morning, everyone was awake, half of them were already showered and ready, and my dad was out front planting flowers.  My family went non-stop until late Saturday afternoon to help me set up, prepare, host, and clean up Gabriella’s party.  I am TRULY blessed.

The sweetest big brother around.

Gabriella sat in her “throne” eating lunch and chatting with all her guests while they were getting food.

The present opening basically consisted of me opening everything and Gabriella being totally overwhelmed.  She was blessed with some wonderful gifts and she’s enjoying them very much.

Our family of four 🙂

Reuben found him a great spot hanging out with PaPa and Grandpa.

Some of our amazing guests.

A little cupcake eating action.  Gabriella really enjoyed her *almost* first taste of sugar.

Dad and his girls.  I’m so sad my mom isn’t in this picture!  I’m sure she was busy serving!!

And, finally, I edited this picture on PicMonkey and used it as her thank you cards.

*A special thanks to Uncle Chad and Kara for taking so many of these pictures!!*

I Heart Nap Time


One Year Later

I’ve been preparing my heart for this day for awhile now.  This last month, I’ve been a little extra emotional, a little more paranoid, and a little more weepy as I remembered Gabriella’s story.  I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to do when this day came around.  I knew I definitely wanted to take cookies to the fire station that responded to our 911 call, but was also prepared to do something fun to distract me from the pain and fear that come with the flashbacks.

Tuesday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  Several of my friends have lost babies through miscarriage and as I prayed for their hearts yesterday, I gained a healthy dose of perspective.  I’m not grieving her loss and wondering what could have been.  And for that, I’m so thankful and blessed.  I realized that this day should not be one of sadness, but one of celebration for the life of my baby girl that, by God’s grace, is still with us today.

So, I woke up this morning with JOY and PEACE.  After I dropped Reuben off at school, Gabriella and I headed to do some shopping with her birthday money.  We had a ball picking out some new clothes and spending quality time together.  I savored the little things, cuddled her longer, and held her tighter, all the while full of thankfulness for the special miracle that she is.

The first time we tried to go to the fire station to say thank you, the guys who had responded to our call were out on vacation.  We left a dessert and a thank you note, but I was super disappointed that I didn’t get to see them.  I baked a batch of cookies today so we could take them to the fire station.  When I called ahead to make sure it was a good time, I asked what Platoon was on duty today.  Guess what?!?  It was Platoon A!

When we walked up the fire station, there was a fireman sitting outside that greeted us and started to take us inside to meet the rest of the crew.  As we were walking in, Captain Steward walked up and said, “We helped you guys, right?!”  I turned and looked at him and practically burst into tears when I realized he was the one who comforted me in the ER when I was feeling like my world was crashing around me.  He was the one I’ve been wanting to see and thank in person.  I could barely contain myself as I said through tears, “You’re the one!  Nick, he’s the one that helped me in the ER!  I knew I wouldn’t forget his face!  That’s him!”

He remembered us, too.  He remembered where we lived.  He remembered talking to me in the ER.  He explained that as a dad, these kind of calls make him switch into a whole other mode.  I think he might have been nearly as excited to see as us as we were to see him.  He said he got my thank you note from the first time we visited and has kept it in his file.  That meant so much to me.

Nick said he felt like we were experiencing the happy ending of an episode of Rescue 911.  That’s EXACTLY what it felt like.

I asked if we could take a picture, and he not only happily agreed, but asked one of the other guys to take a picture with his phone so he could have one, too.  While he was holding Gabriella, he pulled up her pant leg to see if she had a scar from where they had to stick her leg for the IV.  She does.  I was so touched by his memory.  It demonstrated how much he cared.

I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am.  Being able to thank Captain Steward in person for the way he cared for our family that night was such an honor.  He will definitely be a special friend to Gabriella and our family for years to come.  He can expect many more visits from us!

And this picture will be treasured.

1st Year Photo Shoot

When we had our family pictures done, we also had some pictures taken for Gabriella’s 1st birthday.  I shared my vision with Sarah and she did an outstanding job executing it.  I’m so pleased with how the pictures turned out!

My goal was for these pictures to set the tone for her 1st birthday party.  I think my goal was definitely achieved!  Here’s a look at the invitations I made for her party…

1 Year Old

Dear Gabriella,

Happy 1st birthday to my sweet baby girl!  We have had a fun weekend celebrating the first year of your life with our family and friends.  You enjoyed being the center of attention and told everyone all about it!

You are a JOY.  You are laid back and easy going.  You melt us with your sweet smile and cute little dimple.  You are babbling up a storm and telling us lots of stories.  You love to play and explore. You love your “bubba” and your face lights up when he walks in to the room.  If you’re upset, your daddy, mommy, or blanket can usually calm you instantly.  You enjoy sleeping and eating.  You’re starting to sign to communicate…so far you’ve signed “eat,” “more,” and “all done.”  You’ve also blown a few kisses.  So far, we’ve heard you say, “mama,” “dada,” “bubba,” and “papa.”  You are moving all over the place and very curious about your surroundings.  Although, you still haven’t started crawling “officially,” you have definitely figured out ways to get around.  You LOVE Elmo. You scream when you see him.  You are still the happiest and easiest baby.  People tell me all the time how blessed I am to have a baby like you.

Gabriella, I’m so thankful for you.  Your life has been a catalyst for change in many areas in my life that were in desperate need of change.  Mommy was nervous about being the mother of a little girl. It turns out I had nothing to worry about.  I have loved every second of shopping, sewing, dressing, bow-making, decorating, and any other girly thing I’ve gotten to do so far with you and for you.  You have helped to awaken a part of me that I suppressed for a long time.  Your life has helped me to learn more about what God says about us and also to trust Jesus more.  Your precious story has helped your parents’ marriage to strengthen and deepen to another level.  You have enhanced our family.  You are a blessing that Jesus designed specifically for us.  We love you more than words could ever describe.  You are the most precious gift.




Gabriella’s Tubes Surgery

Gabriella went in this morning to have tubes put in her ears.  We made the decision to move forward with tubes because she’s had consistent fluid in her ears for several months, her hearing was affected, and she still hasn’t taken off with her crawling so we’ve been wondering about the effect the fluid might have on her balance.  Reuben had tubes put in his ears at the exact same age.

Gabriella was not thrilled with the early morning arrival time.


However, she still rocked her hospital gown in style.  They gave her the sweet little bear to take home.

Enjoying some sweet cuddles with Mommy.

This was definitely harder on us than it was on her!

They gave her a little medicine to help relax her so the transition from us to the medical staff would be easier.  After she got her “goofy juice,” she wanted to rock with Mommy.

Then she got SUPER laid back and we started to understand why they call the medicine “goofy juice.”

The surgery lasted about 10 minutes.  When the doctor came out to give us the report, he said she had really thick fluid on both sides so we should notice a big difference immediately.  So thankful for doctors and modern medicine!  We dropped Daddy at work and came home to take a nap.  After her nap, she was back to her normal self and ready to play!