Friday, June 28, 2013

Avery's First Birthday Party

While we were back in Greenville a couple weeks ago for my sister's wedding (post coming soon!), we decided to squeeze in a birthday party for Avery. Ryan was only in town for a couple days, and my family from MA was in town, so it seemed like a good time to do it. It made for a busy weekend, but it was so much fun to spend extra time with family and close friends.

I decided to go with a nautical themed party in navy blue and hot pink. My sister, Rachel, designed these gorgeous invitations for us.
Over the past couple months, I had been finding little things online and sending them to my parents' house where they were waiting or me when I arrived. We ended up having the party in the fellowship hall of our church because we needed a large air-conditioned space for 45 people! After the wedding reception, Rebekah and I dropped Avery off at home with Mom & Dad and headed down to the church to begin decorating. My sweet cousins, Jason, Olivia, and Meghan came and helped us as well.

I found an inexpensive pink and white banner with stickers to let you personalize the words. The navy blue and white chevron fabric was a steal off eBay.

The silverware was rolled up in navy and white striped napkins tied with string and a white lifesaver candy.

The photo collage was an idea I found on Pinterest a few months ago. And it is hard to see in the picture below, but we had the cutest navy/white and pink/white straws on the drink table.

Avery and the other little kids loved playing with the balloons before dinner. Grandpa is never far away!

We were so happy to finally meet Rebekah's boyfriend, Brett. Ryan and Brett were able to go golfing together after the reception and before the party. Avery loved Brett and actually put out her arms for him to hold her (a rare occurrence for her).

A sweet friend from church offered to come cook hamburgers and kielbasa for us. Everyone brought delicious side dishes, and the meal was absolutely delicious!

We had a small cake for Avery, and she actually blew out her candle after we sang to her ... and then clapped for herself! We decided to forego letting her smash the cake and eat it, mostly because it was the end of the evening and I didn't want to clean up bits of cake and frosting from the carpet for the next several hours. Plus, she hadn't slept much during the day, and I didn't need all that sugar interrupting her nighttime sleep. :)

I tried a new technique called the Frozen Buttercream Transfer method to decorate her cake. It obviously needs some more work, but it made for an inexpensive, personalized cake.

For everyone else, we served frozen raspberry lemonade pies (with cute wooden spoons) garnished with raspberries and fresh mint, and mini fruit pizzas (sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting topped with blueberries, strawberries, and kiwi).

This was the first time that all the great-grand kids on my side of the family were able to be together. Tanner, Halle, and Avery are only 6 months apart, and I know they will continue to enjoy playing together and become great friends!

We are so thankful to everyone who came to celebrate with Avery and for the impact that they have on her life already. I had little cards for everyone to write a note to Avery since she won't remember this birthday. She has the sweetest collection of memories and prayers for her to cherish as she gets older.

Monday, June 3, 2013

11 Months Old

We've almost made it to a year! It's hard to believe how many changes have taken place in our lives over this past year. And even more amazing are the changes that Avery has experienced this last month. I feel like I say this every month, but she really seems to have grown up so much in the last few weeks.

First, she finally learned how to eat small finger foods. I'm not sure what finally worked, but I think I just started giving her a couple Cheerios each day, and she eventually picked it up on her own. Once she learned that skill, there was no stopping her! She loves eating peas, pieces of whole wheat bread or pasta, scrambled eggs, cheese, bananas, and of course, Cheerios. She's really good about eating one piece at a time, but she usually doesn't eat enough finger foods for a whole meal. So I still give her mashed sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, beets, plums, etc. I found that turkey meatloaf was a healthy finger food option for her which she loved.

Avery also started walking this past month! She has been pulling up and cruising around on the furniture for about 3 months now. We continued to encourage her to let go and walk on her own, and eventually she realized she could do it. She usually gets going so fast that she trips herself up, but she is getting much braver about letting go of the furniture on her own and takes many steps each day. She has even started standing up on her own or bending down to pick up a toy and standing back up again without holding on to anything. I have a feeling that once she gets more proficient at walking, she'll be running all over the apartment!

Avery also had four top teeth pop through this month. I'm so thankful to have such an easy teether. For each tooth so far (or group of teeth), we notice one or two days of clinginess and being a little more sensitive than usual at random times. For example, a couple weeks ago she burst into tears when the ball rolled away from her. But other than that, it doesn't seem to affect her eating or sleeping.

She is still sleeping 12 hours at night. I thought she was about to give up her morning nap, but this past week, she's back to sleeping for about an hour in the morning. She sleeps from 2-3 hours each afternoon, depending on whether she's had a morning nap or not. Thankfully, she is very flexible and can easily skip her morning nap without any fussiness if we are out somewhere (shopping, at church, etc.).

Speaking of church, she has recently started letting anyone take her from me or pick her up from the nursery. Several of the teen girls love bringing her down to the nursery or getting her for me, and Avery loves it, as long as she doesn't see me. I'm grateful for such sweet girls at church who take good care of her.

Avery has become much more vocal this month, and talks almost non-stop throughout the day. She laughs often, and enjoys playing and "wrestling" with us on the floor. She still loves looking at books and will pull them out of her bin and look that them by herself for quite a while. I love hearing her giggle as she pulls off all her stuffed animals and pillows from the top of her toy chest. She will say "Amen" at the end of our prayers, and does her best to copy sounds and words that we say. She can usually say the correct animal sound for the cow, sheep, and owl. And she knows the motions to "If You're Happy and you Know it, Clap Your Hands" and "This Little Light of Mine." I am so blessed to get to spend my days playing and laughing with her!

We're looking forward to celebrating her first birthday while we are home in Greenville with family in a couple weeks. But for now, we are truly enjoying each moment and trying to hold onto the memories of this stage of Avery's life.

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