Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hosting an elegant ourdoor party // Mom and Dad's Anniversary Celebration

As all of you know by now, I LOVE hosting a party. Ever since we moved into the house, the backyard has always been the crown jewel of our property. I have been dreaming of hosting an elegant, romantic, glowing dinner party in our make shift gazebo.  I finally seized the opportunity this summer, because I have also been really wanting honor my parents on their anniversary.  I feel like it slips through the cracks all the time and sheesh, am I every grateful for the marriage, now I think more then ever.  I wanted to do it up BIG.  So, we surprised them and threw them a dinner party, completely catered to them...what they love, memories we have created and places we like to go and it included people they love! Us kids (my brother and I), our spouses and the grandkiddies were the "help" for the night, serving, honoring and making sure everyone was having a wonderful night. It felt good to serve the ones that loved us first...  

Here is all the fun details of the night.

Gourmet S'More Bar.  All the S'more concoctions had names that had to do with our annual family River Trip we take every year. It was a yummy way of remembering so many fun times.
Cornhole and Cocktails- my dad's favorite combo....specifically a with a rum and coke.
The festive bunch.

The dance floor was illuminated by a ton of tea light candles rimmed around it.  Grace, my sister-in-law provided the music with her own songs (which we all love and cannot get enough of!)
The Love Birds.
All the kids and kids-in-law took a turn to say a few words to honor the happy couple...my mom cried...the entire time, which surprised nobody
Then it was off to roasting s'mores!
We even had grand kid entertainment, they sang a few songs they both knew, one being the ABC's...it was very romantic. 
I hope you enjoyed a walk in my backyard.  
Now go and enjoy hosting in the great outdoors in the last few days of summer we have left!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Currently {Volume 15}

Thinking About... The joy of being a Mom. Mike was out of town this weekend on a canoeing boys trip about 5 hours north eastish...so it was just me and the kiddos. I often dread weekends when Mike is away because frankly, its just more work and so exhausting, but I went into this weekend with a different mind set and that made all the difference. I looked at this as an opportunity to love on my kids more, appreciate my motherhood and do fun things we just wounldn't normally do! It was a blast. I really really cherished our time together this weekend. I love being their mom.

Reading... This post by Tawnya. I have been following her blog for awhile and she has just a sweet heart, a love for motherhood and a great way of sharing her life. And we both wrote about our C-section stories the same week, so funny. 

Watching... HGTV Flipping the Block. I love all things design and this show is great and a new spin, its really refreshing. PLUS one of my friends from college is on it (Amanda)!! Go team Silver! Cheer for Amanda and Curtis, because they have an awesome beachy style and well,  make for great television! Love them! If your interested in joining the fun, follow them on twitter- @amandamarks1987 and @flippincurtis and their facebook page!

Thankful For... All my incredible amazing girlfriends! All of us "widows of boys weekend" got babysitters on Saturday night and went out on the town! SO needed! We had a fabulous time!

What about you? What are you CURRENTLY up to?

   A Mama Collective

Friday, August 15, 2014

Frozen Party // Gigi's 5th Birthday Party

Our baby girl, Gigi, turned 5 this past weekend and it is of no surprise she requested a FROZEN themed birthday party. It was so fun for me to really dive into the details, I hope you enjoy.

Birthday Princess Elsa

The Amazing Arendelle Castle was painted by Gigi's grandma who was visiting from Florida and as you can see is an incredible artist....I put her right to work...she made the personalized sign with Gigi's name too!  I made the "Let it Go sign"...I love it so much I might just sneak it into our room. shh don't tell Mike. The tassel garland is actually made form crepe paper (streamers) so it was really quick and easy, check out how here.

I seriously could not come up with anything cute or witty for Anna, Mike came up with it and we stuck to it. Label Printables can be found here

Gigi's "Thank You" favors were the build a snowman baggies.... she passed them out at the end and the kids loved them! Printable can be found here.

Yooohooo Big Summer Blowout!!!! Well Gigi wanted a FROZEN party, but her birthday is in August...So  a "frozen" water park it is....some people are worth melting for ;)

The WATER BLOB. Best thing about the day, hands down! I will have a tutorial up soon on how to make one, but its just a normal piece of plastic+water. It did eventually spring a leak, but it only added to the fun, the water didn't gush out like I thought it would, it just would splash out with the movement...the important thing is that is lasted the whole party...holes and all!

I added glitter and foam cut outs inside the blob for fun and interest
Frozen Toys! Elsa magically froze toys for all the kids at the party....hmmm I wonder how that happened?! ;) I bought some small toys at the 99 cent store (planes for boys, small tiaras for girls) and froze enough for one per child. They had to get it out anyway they could....hitting it with a hammer, throwing it on the ground, letting it melt on the hot concrete, they kids really had a fun time figuring it out and discovering the happy surprise inside...just for them!

Sponge Bombs and Shower Element. The shower element (liter bottle+hose+special attachment) at the party was also a lot of fun for the kids, they were able to get really wet and splash each other!
The Cake. The anticipation is finally over. You got your magical cake Gigi!

HUGE thank you to my friend, Stephanie, for making this incredible cake! I do not know why, but I always panic when it comes to making the cake...it is the one thing I ask any generous friend to do for me!....it is the one thing I am nervous about doing, and the one thing that is SO important to Gigi (and most kids, needing a sugar rush!)

Daddy to the rescue of a Pinata that could not be broken.....or I just ran out of patience! 

Happy Birthday Gigi, sweet girl, it was such a wonderful day! We love you so much!

More Party Inspiration:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

a C-Section was not my plan...but I am grateful

When I was pregnant with Gigi (my first) we did all the normal things to get ready for baby- baby shower, assembling the crib, choosing a name and going to birthing class.  It was a standard class, no special method.  I didn't give much thought to any method because I knew I just wanted to have the baby- get an epidural and get the baby out!  I heard the teacher break down all the info of the C-section, but I purposely tuned out and went to daydream land instead because I knew that would never happen to me...nothing was wrong or would go wrong- I was healthy, I was strong, everything would be normal. 
I was just that confident....or ignorant or naive. Take your pick.

Fast forward a few months.....

I am 42 weeks pregnant and well in doctor land- thats all the time you get kid! So induction it is. They measure me (ahem, cervical check) and.....drum roll please....I measure....Nada, Zippo, Zilch, Nothing, a BIG fat 0....at 42 weeks? really?!! Depressing. Hit me with the patocin and away we go.

Fast forward 32 hours......

After getting an epidural, having it taken out and placed lower, having my water broken, laboring for more than thirty hours, worrying of contractions being too strong....then being worried the contractions were not strong enough, being concerned of the baby's heart rate, spiking a fever...the Doc comes in and delivers "the news" that we need to make the decision of moving forward with an emergency C-Section, as if we really had a choice in the matter....I cried.... ugly cry, weeped of disappointment, discouragement and complete and utter failure. This was not supposed to happen. After mourning the loss of my perfect delivery moment, we gave our consent to the Doc and the rest was a crazy blur....I was surrounded by a flock of people preping my poor exhausted and round body for surgery, someone was chatting up me and hubs about the possibility of me dying in surgery (wow, really?! thats always fun to hear). Then I was ushered off to the surgery room without the husband...since he cannot be in there with me at the beginning of things because of some I am sure good reason...

...there I was...prepped for surgery. naked. ALONE. surrounded by a dozen people. People doing their job I am sure perfectly, but all not having the time to see the problem...ME, you know the human being- the thing on the table with their life at risk, you know the thing with flesh and bones, a heart and feelings.

stripped of all things comforting and familiar. For that 10 minutes before Mike was allowed back in I was filled with crazy anxiety and fear, so prayer was all I got and all I needed....Lord, Lord. I don't think I even formed an actual prayer, just his name was all I could muster in the moment...Mike comes in and we get started.

The anesthesiologist kept asking me...pain or pressure? pain or pressure? on scale of 1-10? I must have given the wrong answer, because instead of being awake, aware and observant for my first born child's birth...

I was put under.... knocked out cold...

To say I was (and still am) devastated to miss the moment of my first-born's birth does not even cut it. I will never have another FIRST. This was a monumental, no... HUGE milestone...in my life..and I missed it!!! And it wasn't my fault...why did I get knocked out?!!! That is something I specifically requested not to happen...ever. But alas there I was...

I woke up...numb. naked. ALONE. I was confused...wait, where am I? What happened? Where is Mike? Where is my baby?!!!!!!

Before panic could set in the nurse came over saying everything went fine, baby is healthy, and my husband is with her....oh, and here is a picture of your baby.

I am a first time mother. I just gave birth to my child. I was out cold. So my first, first experience of my child is a...picture. I was so, so confused. Wait, this is my child? How do you know? This kid in the picture doesn't look like me...she could have handed me any picture from any album and I would have had NO IDEA it was my child....

I am a mom, shouldn't I know? Aren't I supposed to bond with my child right away? Look at them sweetly and say, "Oh of course...its you!". A moment of recognition. A moment of realization. Discovery. Introduction. Nope...a picture.  

Mike was with the baby, I did not want to take him away from that....so I had to lay there for a whole hour (ahem, an eternity!) until I got sensation back in my body to be allowed to go to a room and finally meet my daughter!

Then it happened. Finally. I met her. She was wrapped up. Cozy. Little. Sweet. And Beautiful.

I was still disoriented, I was still angry from the whole thing, I still didn't feel any quick moment of bonding between me and my child. Shoot, the nurse could have mixed up the kids and handed me the wrong child and I still would not have known any different. But I knew one thing....

My heart grew bigger in that moment. I knew I Loved HER...and I would Forever. Here was something that was created out of Love by the hand of our Lord....beautifully and wonderfully made for US!

Reflecting on the events of this day, August 9th 2009...at every turn something went wrong, something went in the opposite direction I planned. Not joking, every turn. After the dust settled my heart still was harboring feelings of anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment, failure, and lies, so many lies.

It wasn't for months later, after replaying the day in my head a billion times over that I forgave...everyone. Everyone that day did their job. No one purposefully was at fault for how I felt. But I, Cassie, needed to forgive them in order for me, Cassie to heal and move on. I even needed to forgive myself. Its weird I know ...I had to forgive the people that did no wrong to me in order for me to forgive myself for being angry, bitter and harboring so much hate in my heart. So that is what I did. Washed the slate clean...

I forgave the doctor, the nurses, one by one I was visualizing them in the day and I forgave them....then it came to the anesthesiologist....that was the toughest. He was just doing his job, I know, they all were, but he was the one that robbed me of my "moment" ... the moment for more than 9 months I was dreaming of, fantasizing about and looking forward to...he was the toughest, but I did it.  

I mentally walked out of that room in my mind and left my dirty heart on the surgery table...that yucky heart full of the filth of anger, hatred and bitterness...It wasn't easy, in fact it would muster back into my heart sometimes and I had to push it back, but I did it.

I had to leave my victim self on the table. Leave it for good. I am not a victim. I am moving on.

Forgiveness. It was hard, but it was a relief. I let it go. All of it. Now, I had to address the LIES that were robbing me of my joy of being a new mom:

C-section = Failure = You're not a good mom = You are missing out on a "right of passage" moment =your not strong enough = you are inferior.....blah. blah. blah. shit. all of it. shit.

Why do we perpetuate this filth? In our hearts and in our speech?! This was and still is the long road to healing...

This is where I do not want to go on a negative rant. This is where I have written several drafts of this post.

I want this post to continue to be about my  journey towards something good when something unexpected happened to me.....Please note I say unexpected and not bad. 

C-sections are not bad. They are extremely extremely good.  

A C-section brought my daughter into this world alive, healthy and unharmed.  

A C-section allowed me to be alive,  healthy, and heal.  

100 years ago some poor woman was in my position one day and did not have the resources available to her when she needed it to bring her child into the world or even to save her life.  I am grateful. Blessed to live in a time when faced against life threatening situations in birth for both mom and baby a routine surgery can be performed to save both lives, so very matter of fact....no biggie. 

Wait, this is huge!! This is big!! C-sections are so very good. Praise the good Lord for his mercy to provide a way for us to bring more life safely into this world. 
Beautiful. Precious. Life.

Now going through 2 C-sections (yes, I chose to have my second!...I wasn't put under! It was an amazing experience, but another story) I do not and will not ever understand why this is such a taboo subject.  It is true sometimes I think....Am I missing out on something by not giving birth (the more natural way)? I will probably never experience certain sensations that a woman is made to experience...am I sad about this? Maybe a little, but then I look at my children and I forget. The whole point of giving birth is to bring a child into the world, not for the mom to have an "experience". So I focus on my children. I focus on life.
The surgery itself was not the issue for me, it was the loss of my perfect plan (R.I.P.P.P // rest in peace perfect plan) and mourning the loss of my mommy moment of my child being born since I was knocked out (which I am still not sure at all what the miscommunication was....oh but I forgave him...ok moving on)... 

Advice for any preggo mom: mentally prepare yourself for all birthing outcomes! By all means plan plan plan on having your child the way you want. But consider preparing and having a solution for all possible outcomes- this would have provided me with so much more peace and would have allowed for a better, not perfect, but better transition.

***I want to give God some serious props for giving me a great gift, a miracle even....

I was knocked out right?!! Well, I do remember Gigi's first cry. Through blurry eyes and foggy brain, I remember her being taken from behind the blue curtain, crying, over to my right where all the measuring and weight stuff was....I have relayed this info to Mike and he confirms all the details as I recall them...so I am not crazy, God just loves me that much, He threw me a bone ;)...I wasn't deprived of the whole moment. Thank you Jesus. I will hold on to that silver lining the rest of my life.***

What I have learned through all of this brokenness is one really important lesson....


Compassion for the imperfect. Compassion for myself in my imperfectness. Compassion for the imperfectness in others. 

God has a plan. It is perfect. It is good.

We live in an imperfect world. shortcomings and disappointments are just a reality. So the sooner I realize that the better and the sooner I can let my heart grow in love, forgiveness and compassion for others rather than grow in resentment and bitterness. 

Life is too short. We do not have time. It is not worth a second of our time. 

Compassion. Love. Understanding. That is what I will embrace. That is what I will try and live by.

When days are dark and rough and I let my "victim self" back in my heart,  I look at my children, my treasures, and I remember it is...

 ALL WORTH IT. And I would do it all over again.

Phew...that was a long one! You made it to the end, but if your still hungry for more here is another great 
C-section read
Did you go through a C-section or a hard labor? 
How did you react in the aftermath of it all? What were your struggles?
What are some ways we can love and support each other better? 
We are not alone...how can I pray for you?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cash Giveaway // $260

So excited to bring you this Cash Giveaway today! We are celebrating Learning. Creating. Living. Blog's 1 year anniversary. Katelyn is a very creative babe, and I am pumped to be counted one of the many fabulous ladies to celebrate her! Now get to entering and good luck! Winner will be selected August 26th!

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