Passing Down the Sparkle

I’ve been blessed to give birth to a beautiful baby girl, Nina Nefertari. Nina was sent to us early November. I was lucky enough to deliver at a free standing birthing center where I was able to labor and deliver in a comfortable setting. While everything hasn’t been perfect, it’s been amazing getting to learn and grow in this new frontier. Having Nina challenged me in many ways, one being the area of belief. It’s one thing to proclaim something for yourself, but when you decide the well-being of someone else, you have to be sure.

There are many traditions that are important to me. My hope in raising Nina Nefertari is that I give her as much information that I can, and let her decide her own path. In the beginning I will be much more hands on, guiding her to the best of my ability. But by the time she is an adult, my role will be much more as an advisor. A grounding force in my life has been my religion. Figuring out my beliefs, and pushing myself to live up to them, has shaped me through various life experiences. However, God has always been a safe place for me and has been my home. In the most distressing moments of my life, seeking God has helped me regroup and and continue on. So teaching Nina Nefertari about God and our beliefs is of number one importance. I believe it shall sustain her long after I am not here.

My current church has a beautiful baby dedication service that they do three times a year. Nina was born right before the December occurrence so we have to wait until May for the next one. However, I felt as if this was too long to wait without any ceremony at all. So my husband and I were able to ask our reverend to do a blessing of Nina at our home to which he agreed.

This was extremely special to us because this was the man that not only counseled us through our engagement, he married us and also still serves as a counselor to this day. He has seen us through many stages and moments, making this one even more special.

We felt blessed to share this moment as a family, and reaffirm our commitment to each other and God.

Add sparkle to your everyday moments by being intentional. This day happened because we want to ground Nina in faith. Our faith has gotten us through a lot, and will continue to guide our family. My mother also played a huge role in holding us accountable. Her insistence helped us to stay focused and carry out this important task. It is so important to have a village that holds the mirror up for you, ensuring you follow through on the things that are important and support you in any way they can. Rev Shannon also had us write a prayer for Nina Nefertari. This prayer will serve as a reminder throughout her life of all the good things we’ve asked God to manifest in her life and our family. To me, this prayer added the most sparkle to this special moment, and is something we can preserve.

Friends and Family, you may not find it necessary to have your baby blessed at home. However I do recommend taking a moment to write a prayer or set intentions for your child’s life. In the future, especially the trying times, you can look at this prayer and remember the special moment and that God has a vision for their life.

Until next time, sparkle on!

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Baking the Blues Away

As any new parent will share, if they’re honest, there are good nights and bad nights with your new baby.  One phrase that has been repeated numerous times is “everything changes”. I am constantly reminded, that good or bad, whatever I am experiencing with baby will change. I especially keep this in mind when we are having a rough night. A night sort of like the one we had last week.

Nina is two months now.  In some of our research and reading we’ve learned that this is an amazing time to start “sleep training” her. Sleep training in general is a controversial topic, I think people should follow their gut. In the end, you are the expert on your family’s and child’s needs. Nevertheless, we are playing with the idea of practicing sleep training with Nina, and tried it out early last week. Now one night went well, the following night we came in kind of late from my mother’s house so the schedule was a bit off. But this third night… was reminiscent of her second night home. Nina screamed at us, especially me, all night! I think it is worthy to mention that we had also started exclusively breastfeeding this week at the suggestion of our lactation consultant.  So a few things could have been happening. But to sum it up, I have a lot of upclose memories of my baby girl screaming in my face as loud as she could. She was upset… very upset… and I was having a hard time figuring out why.

That morning I “woke up” feeling like I haven’t felt in a while. Like I had been out drinking all night, without hydrating or eating properly before, during, or after. I had a headache. I was groggy. I was extremely tired. But I also had responsibilities, namely, the lady who was responsible for me not getting any sleep in the first place.
Well, as soon as it was time for me to be up and about, nina decided to take a nap.  As tired as I was, I wasn’t able to take a nap. Maybe I was still in shock by how hard the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnight before was. Whatever the case,  I suddenly had an urge to bake.  Now this may be shocking. For a lot of people the last thing they want to do is head into the kitchen when not feeling their best;but this was actually a habit I formed in college.  Baking when feeling bored (very different from not having things to do just to clarify :), confused or sad, is something my closest friends and I did. That and work out, I know weird, but it worked.

Baking (and working out) allows me to engross myself in something that has a benefit to me. I get to focus, for an hour or two, on this one thing. I’m not contemplating if I’m parenting right. I am not figuring out if my career is on track. I not poring over my past decisions and grading myself. I am just baking. I am adding the ingredients and doing it with love. Therefore, I am sparkling without doubt. I am also spreading sparkle when sharing my treats with the ones I love.

 

After baking I feel accomplished, even if I wasn’t able to get Nina to settle down the night before. Baking gives me a win in early motherhood when those can be hard to come by.

So friends, add sparkle to this amazing journey of parenthood by carving out a little time for your hobbies. They make you feel sparkley and therefore you can pass that on to your little ones.

Until next time, Sparkle on!

Holidaze Hack: Homemade Cards

So you guys probably know by now how much I love the holidays.  There is just extra sparkle everywhere, especially in the spirits of those around you.  However, November/December can hit the pockets extra hard, especially for someone like me who LOVES to celebrate.  Celebrations and acknowledgements usually equal expenses.  When I was slightly younger I used to go for broke, literally.  The holiday season would be amazing, but after, I would have nothing left in my BOA account (partially because of their exorbitant fees etc… but I digress).  As I am getting older I am aiming to be a bit more responsible with my time, money and resources.  Nevertheless, I still wanted to find ways to continue traditions I love and doing things that I believed added sparkle to the season for everyone.

So in my holidaze post I shared the idea of creating and maintaining traditions as a way to keep the feeling festive.  One of my favorite traditions is sending Christmas greetings to everyone.  In the past I’ve either purchased a bunch of Christmas cards or I’ve used a service like shutterfly.com  to create personalized cards. Both of these techniques have their advantages and disadvantages.  Buying cards usually kept it simple: I go in, buy them and write them out. Usually I’d have them in the mail (if I’m lucky) by the end of the week.  However, as much as I tried to find unique cards that I felt represented me, they never felt quite personal enough.   Shuttferly cards were super personal; I added my own pictures and wrote a message that came straight from my heart. However, all that personalization costs.  What this ultimately ended up meaning is that I had to cut down the amount of people that received cards, which wasn’t fun at all either.

By now you’re probably thinking “what was your solution?”   I’m getting to it guys!  Let me say that this isn’t a “solution” so much as it is what works for me. In the end you have to decide what allocation of your time, money, resources works best for your family.  While this method was perfect for me, for reasons I will get into, it may not work for you and you may opt for one of the options I mentioned above, or something completely different all together [Share! Share! Share!].   I chose to create my own holiday cards from scratch. Yes, I figured out/ worked on everything from the photoshoot, to the design of the Christmas cards and of course the addressing/ mailing of them.

Now for me, this was a huge but fun project. It mixed a couple of my interests together, so that’s why I took it on. I love taking pictures and photography in general, so that was easy to decide. Instead paying someone a couple hundred to do a photoshoot, I used my own equipment and got my sister to snap away after I set up the frame.  Also, I used a lot of décor I already owned… as well as my mother’s backyard to keep it all really simple ;).

To decide on the look for the picture I clearly dove into the Pinterest black hole to get a couple ideas, which I considered fun as well.  That is a hack I love! Instead of racking my brain to come up with a concept that I believe is completely and totally unique, that someone has probably still already done, I rely on the Pinterest community to share their wins and losses. I then adapt a concept to my family’s needs. Since our pup, BANE the English Bulldog (#BaneNeSmith), was a new addition to our family this year, he had to be featured. So I did search for Christmas cards featuring dogs to get some ideas. I found something I loved and made it my own.  What was even more amazing is I was able to find a dress in my closet I had only worn once and feature it in this picture.  The picture came out great, and it didn’t cost anything but a little bit of planning.

The card itself was a whole separate task. I started with a blank sheet in my “Pages” application on my Mac and created it from scratch.  I knew general colors I wanted to incorporate and how I wanted the card to feel. It took a little over an hour, but it came out great.  I find messing around with layouts super fun, I am a scrapbooker after all (lol), but if creating it from scratch isn’t for you there are tons of templates out there. You can Google to find some free ones, but there are also people out there (especially on Etsy.com) that sell templates for reasonable prices. All you have to do is purchase, download and personalize it to your liking.  If messing around in Pages, Publisher or Illustrator isn’t for you, then this option will save you a lot of time and frustration.

Finally, I was going to print these all out myself; however, I wasn’t thrilled about that idea so I did a bit of research and found an amazing option that was super simple. I used Staples.com to print and ship them to me. In the end it was a great value as the double sided card came with envelopes so all I had to do was prepare them to be mailed.  Finally, I created labels from my running excel contact list which was super easy (once I figured out formatting).

Girls Christmas CardAnd that was it. I was able to add a little sparkle to the lives of all the ones I love and not spend a ton of money. This whole project maybe cost me $50 dollars to print them and buy the labels.  Not to mention, everything about the card was personal and therefore, in my opinion, done with love.  Share your ways you add sparkle during the holidays on a budget, I’d love to know.

Till next time, Sparkle on!