Friday, December 21, 2012

A Very Taylor Christmas Card

Today I'm linking up with Kelly at Kelly's Korner Blog for SUYL Christmas Cards! Christmas cards are one of my favorite things about Christmas. I literally get excited every time I open my mailbox and see a Christmas stamp. Sean and I have sent out a card for years but this year our card was extra special because this was our first card as a family of three!

When deciding on a card design I knew that I wanted something clean and modern, with most of the focus on the picture. I enlisted the help of Amy Pearson of Paisley Pear Designs, who is not only super talented but also a wonderful friend of mine. I have known Amy since college and she has helped me celebrate so many milestones in my life. She has made countless cards and invitations for me and for many of my friends and family. She has done our Christmas card for years and recently made Bennett Grace's birth announcement and even did my sister's wedding invitations. She is so creative and wonderful to work with. She works quickly and is easily able to share your vision and help you create something special for any occasion. I really can not say enough good things about her.

We had a couple of ideas for the wording of the card. In the end we went with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and I am so glad it worked so well with the picture we chose. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is my favorite Christmas song. I cry every time Judy Garland sings it at the end of Meet Me in St. Louis which Sean and I watch every Christmas morning while we are opening our gifts so it has special meaning to us as well.

The photograph we chose is from our first family photo shoot taken in November. The beautiful photography is courtesy of Michelle Schnader of Photography by Michelle. We had such a hard time narrowing it down because honestly they were all wonderful, but we love the color of the leaves in this one. Michelle has taken pictures of Bennett Grace since birth. She has also done sessions for many of our family and friends. I know that I can always count on her for beautiful pictures. I can not wait to see what she comes up with for Bennett Grace's 1 year pictures which are (sadly) right around the corner.

So without delay, here is the final product. It turned out exactly how I wanted and I could not be more pleased :)


Paisley Pear Designs/Photography By Michelle

And just because I can't say enough good things about Amy and Paisley Pear, here are a few other things she has done for us- our card from last year and Bennett Grace's birth announcement.
Paisley Pear Designs/Photography By Michelle
Paisley Pear Designs/Bowers Photography

Dear BGT, (Eight Months)

Bennett Grace,

You turned 8 months old this week! How did this happen? Where has the time gone?? It feels like yesterday you were just a tiny baby cooing in our arms and now you are a little fireball of personality. Shuggie you are growing so fast we can't even keep up with you. It is amazing how much you have changed lately. We can not even believe you are 2/3 of the way to a year already!!!

We have not weighed or measured you lately but we think you are getting a little taller because you look like you have slimmed down a bit. It may also be because you are starting to be very active.

You are still in size 2 diapers and 6-9 month clothing. You have been wearing tons of cute holiday clothes this month and you look precious!!

You go to sleep between 8-8:30 and usually wake up around 6-6:30. Sometimes you wake up at 5:30 and talk to yourself in your crib or play a little bit by yourself before you fall back asleep until 6:30. You are back to sleeping in the sleep sack because you get chilly in the night. You also take two naps a day. One in the morning and another in the afternoon.

You are still doing great with 6 oz of breast milk 4 times per day and 2 rounds of solids per day! You have a fruit and cereal in the morning and usually two veggies for dinner. Sometimes you have a small cup of juice mixed with water and a snack. You have recently started eating a couple of Plum Organic puffs for a special snack! You love them!

You also started feeding yourself this month. We gave you a couple puffs and you played with them the first couple times but then right at 8 months you started picking them up and feeding yourself. We actually caught it on video too :)

You went to your first birthday party for your friend Libby this month too. You got to bounce around with daddy in the inflatable toys at the party and you loved it. They even had stuffed animals for all the kids to take home and you picked out an Elmo which has quickly become one of your favorite toys.

You love to play with all of your toys at once. You get yourself over to your toy box and you pull out each and every toy until you have them all out. Then you play with the toy box. You also want to grab everything. If it is within your reach you want it and you want it now. We are working on telling you "no" because you are a little bit spoiled and you tend to put on your fake cry to try to get your way, but we are up on your game missy!

You started pulling up this month too!! The first time you pulled your self up you were trying to pull ribbon out of mommy's ribbon box while she was wrapping Christmas presents. Mommy was so shocked and she tried to take your picture but by that time you were already partially back down. Since then you have been doing it all the time. You love to stand up too! You reach out your hands if you are sitting and when we reach out to you, you grab on to our hands and pull up. Then you smile the biggest smile like you are so proud of yourself. And Baby, man are we proud of you too :)

You also learned to sit yourself up from your back or tummy this month. Daddy caught you sitting in your crib a couple of times and we weren't sure whether you were pulling your self up or just sitting up on your own until mommy caught you in action! You flip to your tummy and then wiggle your way up to sitting!

You still don't crawl but that does not stop you from getting from one side of the room to the other in seconds. You are so fast and in to EVERYTHING! You scoot, roll, flop, swivel, sit, lay, flip, fling and launch yourself EVERYWHERE. We can't leave you anywhere because you find a way to get into something you are not supposed to be in.

You are so ticklish. Daddy tickles you so much that you can barely catch your breath because you are laughing so hard. You love to play hide 'n seek too. You lean over and tilt your head to try to see where Mommy and Daddy are hiding and you laugh so much when we pop out at you!

You talk ALL THE TIME. You talk to people, to the puppies, to your toys and to nothing in particular. You say daddy (much to mommy's dismay) and Hey. When mommy comes home she says Hey angel! And you say hey back. It is too cute. You are trying very hard to say bye bye but instead you say dye dye. Unfortunately it seems that "d" sound is your favorite. (One point for Daddy, zero points for Mommy) you also have started to whisper which is Aunt Morgan's favorite thing ever.

This month we enjoyed part one of your first Christmas. You love the lights and gifts. We went to the zoo light safari at the Birmingham Zoo and you loved it! You also met Santa and you were curious but not scared at all! You play with all of the gifts under the tree and even we though we have stopped you successfully more than once, you still managed to open one gift that wasn't yours which mommy had to re-wrap. We can't wait to enjoy the rest of the holiday season with you!

You have the most beautiful big blue eyes and the longest eyelashes. You look exactly like your daddy. Even your facial expressions are the same. People see you and the first thing they say is how much you look like Daddy. He eats it up too!

Shuggie, we are so proud to be your Mommy and Daddy. Each day you bring so much happiness and joy to our lives. We have had some difficult things happen over the past month but when we come home to you, all the hard things melt away. When we are away from you, you are all we talk about. Over the past 8 months you have woven yourself tightly into every part of our beings. It is hard to remember a time before you were in our lives. We are so thankful for you and proud to be your Mommy and Daddy precious angel.


Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Traditions

Today I'm linking up with Kelly from Kelly's Korner Blog to talk about Christmas Traditions. Since very early on in our relationship, Sean and I have made it a tradition to go to see a Christmas movie at the beautiful Historic Alabama Theater each year. We both get really excited when they put out the holiday schedule and we choose what movie we will see together. In the past years we have seen White Christmas, Meet Me in St. Louis, Holiday Inn, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story, to name a few.  
The theater itself is STUNNING. I can not ever get over how beautiful it is and how much history it holds. I truly believe that seeing a film at the Alabama is the way films are meant to be seen. If you have never been before and you live nearby, I strongly encourage you to make the trip. They do film series all year round but Christmas is by far my favorite. You will not be disappointed! 
Before the movie begins they play trivia on the big screen about the movie and actors from the film you will be seeing. Then, just prior to the start of the film the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ rises from beneath the floor and theater organist begins to play Christmas carols. They put the words on the big screen so that the patrons can sing along. The organ is MAGNIFICENT. Absolutely wonderful to look at and to listen to. And if you are seeing an old film they generally start with an old Mickey Mouse cartoon short before the start of the film. Every year we go, we sit in the same seats, we enjoy the beautifully decorated theater, the music, the film and best of all the time we are able to spend together.
This year our Christmas will be a little bit different than expected. Last year I was pregnant and I dreamed of our first Christmas as a family. I couldn't wait to continue our traditions and start a few new ones too and when I say that I looked forward to Christmas for the entire year, I am not exaggerating. Last week however, Sean lost his job without warning. To say that we were devastated is an understatement. As I have blogged about in the past, we are a two income family for good reason. 
So now, we will be doing the holiday a little differently. There will be traditions, yes. There will be spirit, yes. There will be Christmas, yes. 
I have to believe that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan for us. I know that we tend to get wrapped up in the fun of the holiday and sometimes forget the true meaning of the season and maybe this is just a reminder of that for us. 
We will get over this hump eventually and I will be darned if I let in interfere with my child's first Christmas. So, while we will be cutting back in many areas, we WILL be going to the Alabama for a Christmas movie this Thursday! Our choice this year, Home Alone. I am off Friday so it will kick off a weekend of fun (free!) events with the entire family and I am SO EXCITED to finally get to spend some quality time with everyone.  
So now I'm off to read about all of your Christmas Traditions! Maybe I will pick up a new one or two along the way!

Blessings to you all, this season and always,


(And I'm ending with a picture of my munchkin that my sister took this weekend because I can't resist...)


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Be a Monet, baby

Bennett Grace,

Be a Monet, baby! Or maybe you'll find that your more Matisse or Renoir. Either way, you're an original, baby, a one-of-a-kind, and they've got nothing on you. So don't be afraid to color outside the lines. Be bold, be vivacious, but all in all just be YOU.

Wear bright red lipstick on a Wednesday just because. Dream big and don't let anyone tell you that you can't do what you set out to do. Know when to follow the rules and when to make the rules as you go along. Be strong and independent but kind and caring. Be heartbreakingly beautiful inside and out but don't break too many hearts along the way. Be good and be respectful even when it is hard, because sometimes it will be.

Always know that no matter what happens, you can always come to me. I know there will be times when you are scared or afraid but know that I love you and will never judge you. I will always be here for you. Always. And if for some reason I'm not, I pray that you will have a strong support system around you.

Remember there will be tough times and rough times and people will sometimes hurt or disappoint you. But be strong, baby. You will get through them. Hold your head up and put one foot in front of the other.

And sing it out, baby. Even if you can't carry a tune. Turn up the music and shut out the world for a minute. Take time to catch your breath. And breathe, baby. Take a deep breath and let it out. Remember that some days are just made for a pair of pajamas and an old movie.

Know the power of a smile. And baby, you've got a great one. Sometimes one little smile can turn your day around or better yet, someone else's. And laugh, baby. Laugh out loud. Laugh at yourself. Laugh when it's funny, laugh when there is nothing else left to do.

And cry sometimes too, baby. Don't let anyone tell you it's not ok to cry. Crying can be therapeutic, but don't dwell in sorrow, baby. Think like Scarlett O'Hara, after all tomorrow is another day.

Be charitable, baby. No matter how bad you have it, remember there is always someone else who has it worse. Lend a hand, baby, or an ear or a shoulder- do what you can do even if you don't think it is much. Put your stamp on it. Leave everything in your wake better than the way you found it. Be committed, baby but don't over commit yourself. Be courageous, baby. Speak for those without a voice, stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves.

Don't be quick to grow up. Each stage offers so much, baby. Enjoy each day. Take it all in. Soak it up. Time will fly and time will slow. That's the way it works, baby. When times are hard and you want them to speed up they slow down. It's all part of the ebb and flow.

Be passionate, baby. Find what you love and give it all you've got. Don't settle. Love deeply, baby. No matter what life you choose for you, I pray you will be happy with your choices and will know that you were loved every minute of every day.

Be diligent, be brilliant, be fascinating, be stunning, be spirited, be brave, be remarkable, baby. Be the best possible YOU. And at the end of the day remember where you've come from, where you want to go and most of all remember who YOU are and that you can always come home.

Love, Mommy

To Bennett Grace Taylor, from your adoring mother November 27, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Giving thanks and holidaying

The Taylors have been one busy family the past couple weeks! We had wonderful double Thanksgiving (Gigi and Papa D's for lunch and Mimi and Pop's for dinner). Then Friday we went back to Gigi's for leftovers and to hang out with more family! So much fun! My cousin El came over and we took a bunch of pictures of the babies together. They are less than 6 months apart and we are bound and determined to make them BFFs :)

Sadly the rest of the long weekend I spent with a stomach virus so BGT got to spend lots of time with just her and her daddy!

We have gotten into holiday mode and the tree is up! I'm still working on the rest of the house. We have scaled back a bit since having BGT around this year which Sean is super pleased about. Hopefully it will all come together. BGT is obsessed with the tree, the lights, presents, ribbon, and anything else she can get her hands on. She can't quite crawl yet but she gets to the tree no matter where we put her. It's a reach/scoot/roll combo but she is quite effective getting where she wants these days.

Last week she pulled up to standing holding onto my Rubbermaid tub of Christmas ribbon. I grabbed my camera and caught her as she fell back onto on knee. She did it two more times and she was so proud of herself. All because she wanted to pull ribbon out. Pure determination. I can't believe how fast time is going by. Last christmas i dreamed of having her here and in April when she was born, Christmas seemed a world away. People tend to say... She will be so much fun when ______. But to be honest I've had so much fun in every stage I'm just content where we are at enjoying every minute.

Our Christmas card came in and it is BEAUTIFUL. Once they are in the mail I will share here.

Today we had her picture with Santa. The professional one is better, obvi, but here is a quick one off my iPhone, along with some pictures from the past few weeks, my Instagram and some beautiful ones taken by my sister Lauren on Thanksgiving.

Happy holidays :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dear Bennett Grace (7 months)

Dear Bennett Grace,

Baby girl, what a difference a month makes! Sunday you were 7 months old. You have literally grown before our eyes this month. You seem to pick up a new thing every day and we cant believe you much you have learned.

-You want to grab and hold anything in your reach. we have to clear a six foot radius around you and you still manage to get into things you aren't supposed to.
-You easily go from the sitting position down to a laying position by putting your hands on the floor in front of you and walking your hands forward down to the floor.
-You are trying hard to crawl but you are not they yet so for now you rock and lunge back and forth on all fours.
-If you can't can't get to something by reaching, rocking and scooting, you flop onto your tummy or back and roll to get there.
-You still like to roll the hard way over your arm when it would be so much easier to just tuck your arm under. It cracks us up how determined you are to do it "the hard way".
-You are eating more and more solids. Now you generally eat fruit with your oat cereal in the morning and two veggies and sometimes more cereal or a fruit at night. So far you have tried apples, pears, peaches, banana, avocado, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, sweet peas and green beans. You have probably tried a few other things too because your Papa D is constantly getting busted trying to give you bites of things you aren't supposed to eat.
-You started trying a learner sippy cup this month with water and a little bit of apple juice for a treat here and there and you love it! We have started mixing less juice so that you will start to enjoy water by itself too.
- You are VERY ticklish. When you get excited you giggle so loud!
- You love to play games. You have started to play peep eye covering your own face when we change your diapers and it is so cute.
-You learned to play patty cake at the beginning of this month and every time you clap your hands together you have the biggest smile.
-Recently you have started to wave bye-bye but you hold your hand backwards and bye-bye yourself. It is so cute!
-You love to talk talk talk. You talk to your toys and everything and everyone around you. Your babbling is starting to sound more like "real words". Your latest sound is da-da-da-da and your daddy is convinced that you are trying to say daddy :)
- You are still pretty true to size- wearing mostly 6 to 9 month clothes and you are still wearing Size 2 Pampers.
-You recently went from eating 7 oz 4 times a day to eating 6 oz 4 times a day.
- You usually nap twice a day and if you are really tired sometimes you take another mini nap too.
-After your six month check up your doctor told us to start putting you in your crib awake instead of rocking you to sleep first. You would cry at first but now you just turn over and go right to sleep.
- Lately when you wake up in the morning you start talking to yourself and playing in your crib. When daddy or Gigi brings you in to see mommy when she is getting ready she says "good morning angel" and you give the biggest smile. You love to help mommy get ready in the morning by playing with her makeup :)
-You met your great grandfather "Grandy" this month and have seen him a few times since then. He says you are the prettiest baby he has ever seen!
-You also had your first Halloween this month and mommy made you a hot pink bath loofa costume. You looked so funny.
-we also had our first family photo session outside and you loved playing in the leaves.

Mommy and daddy can't wait to enjoy the holiday season with you. Last year we talked about how thankful we were to have you here for our next holidays and now you are here. It has been so amazing watching you grow the past 7 months. You are such a sweet baby girl and we just love you so much.

With love,

Mommy and Daddy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Christmas Village and Confessions

Last weekend was a busy one for the Taylors!!! Saturday morning we had our family photo session and BGT did so good! I think she is holding a leaf in every frame because she was obsessed with the leaves but we will have to wait and see. If the rest are as good as the preview picture I think we will have trouble choosing the perfect picture for our Christmas card :)

Ahhhh and that brings me to Christmas! My FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR. Christmas Village is a huge indoor Christmas festival with tons of vendors from around the country selling everything you could think of and it is the "official" start of the Christmas season at the Taylor house. EVERY YEAR I drag Sean with me to get a little Christmas spirit (i.e. carry my packages). And EVERY year I come home and beg Sean to let me go ahead and put up my Christmas tree-which he refuses EVERY YEAR. It has become a sort of tradition for us :)

Last year, CV was the WEEK BEFORE WE FOUND OUT BGT WAS A GIRL. Talk about torture! I was so disappointed that I couldn't buy all the cuteness and I knew in my heart she was a girl but I just couldn't risk it. This year was a whole new ball game. Mimi went on Thursday and got BGT tons of cuteness for Christmas and Thanksgiving including a cute turkey outfit and a snow man outfit and a bunch of 1st Christmas stuff as well as accessories. We went after the pictures Saturday and took my sisters. I got a couple of diaper covers for BGT and Sean picked her out a cute little tiger crocheted hat. We also got monogrammed stockings and I am kind of having second thoughts about them but I'm hoping I change my mind when they get here after I see them (fingers crossed). I also picked up a bag of my FAVE cashew brittle which I may or may not have eaten (by myself) already. We all took turns carrying BGT mid way through because she was over her carseat by that point but she had been without a nap all day so it was to be expected. She fell asleep on Sean's shoulder and she looked so cute! I'm so glad we got to continue our tradition again this year!

Now- on to confessions. I HAVE A PROBLEM. Well, more than one.

Problem #1 Lets start with the worst offender: Halloween candy. I have NO SELF CONTROL PEOPLE. It is literally like I lose all common sense. This did not happen until I got pregnant with BGT and developed a sweet tooth. It is the strangest thing. I thought it would go away after pregnancy but no sir.

'tis the season for smocking
Problem #2: smocking. Holy smocked outfits batman. Our house has become invaded. I LOVE SMOCKING. I can't help myself. I am literally rendered helpless at the sight of a smocked pumpkin on a bishop dress. When I first got confirmation BGT was a girl my mind was immediately filled with thoughts of oversized headbands and smocked outfits. I have a problem. If I go missing, Sean has figured out how much I have spent on these tiny little suckers. I'm including a picture of the latest haul.

Problem #3- etsy. I previously posted a link to a shop where we got boots for BGT in brown and grey and it opened the door to the world of teeny hand made shoes and dresses. My cart is FULL of stuff that I'm just waiting for the right time (paydaaaaay) to buy. I recently got a precious chevron print monogrammed dress for BGT that I ordered, had made and delivered to my door in 48 hours. No joke! And tiny shoes- ohhhh the shoes. I have been looking for a pair of chocolate brown corduroy Mary Janes for BGT for a while now and this sweet chickee on etsy whipped up a pair to my specifications in a flash.
Trouble trouble. But it's all most Christmas so I can purchase under the guise of "presents". Ahahaha!

Hope everyone is having a great week!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is it weekend yet?

Is it weekend yet??? This feels like the longest week in history!

Monday BGT had her 6 month check up. Stats: 25.5 inches long (30th percentile) and 16 lbs 7 oz (50th percentile)

Tuesday we went to Papa D and Gigi's house to eat spaghetti and meatballs and have cake for Gigi's birthday (10/31) and Morgan's birthday (11/1)

Wednesday we went to see friends and eat pizza at Joey and Stephanie's house and see all the kiddos in costume. My phone battery was dying and naturally I didn't think to grab my camera so I didn't get a pic of all the kids in costume. We did get a family picture before my battery died and i of course Sean's eyes were closed in picture of BGT smiling were she really looks like loofa. Oh well!

Saturday morning we have our first official family photo session so please pray that Sean gets over his cold without giving it to me, that the weather is nice and that BGT cooperates!