Sounds that have sent ice water through my veins because I thought they were my baby crying.

From pregnancy, moms are programmed with werewolf senses to assist them in the monumental task of keeping their new small person alive. The first superhuman sense you get shortly after conception is an amplified sense of smell, which is important because it makes you feel violently ill so that you will run far away when you encounter things that could potentially harm your developing fetus, such as males wearing too much (any) Axe body spray, iced tea that is brewed too strongly, most soups, and unscented candles. Did you know unscented candles have a scent? They do. “Unscented” is tricky candle marketing department speak for “earwax smell.”

Unfortunately, the committee in charge of bloodhound scent skillz was not working very closely with the folks in charge of the other end of things — wooly mammoth fart capabilities. When even tap water makes you fart like a gamer who only works at Taco Bell for the employee discount, well, that’s just not fair. It’s really hard to run away from your own ass.

But what I really want to address today is a superpower you get after your baby is born. Supersonic hearing. Again, I appreciate the evolutionary need to hear my toddler crying from 4 zip codes away so that I can sprint to save her from the horrors of having to drink her milk out of the wrong cup. But there is some evolutionary fine-tuning that needs to take place over the next couple of millennia, for the benefit of future mamas. Because now I think everything is my baby crying, even when she is in another state.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the things that have sent me into flight-or-fight because I mistook them for the sound of my baby crying:

  • People cheering in a televised basketball game
  • Pretty much everything on TV if I’m not in the same room as the TV (and sometimes even if I am)
  • Our cats
  • The dog next door
  • A siren eight blocks away
  • Someone driving past the house with squeaky brakes
  • The air conditioner coming on
  • The front door opening
  • A chair being moved
  • The garbage truck
  • People walking past our house, speaking in normal tones
  • Music playing at the bar around the corner
  • My own breath whistling past the boogers in my nose

True stories, every one. What new superpower are you struggling to gain control over, mamas?

Our bodies are perfect just the way they are, now can we change the subject?

Over the past year, I’ve done a whole lot of soul-searching on the topic of my body. Within a week or two of giving birth, I was shocked and amazed at how my tummy had gone from ginormous to not-ginormous. Yeah, I still had a very prominent belly, but it seemed unbelievable to me that there had been a WHOLE BABY in there plus an entire organ I’d grown especially to support that baby, and now neither one were in there and I looked like a regular human again. I was so proud of my body. Maybe I was being blinded by my huge, engorged, porno tits, but I would look at my naked body in the mirror and think, “This is beautiful.”

Then that other voice would creep in, the one that I have listened to bray loudly my whole life, and it would say, “But look at your belly! Look at your love handles! Look how much your thighs touch! Look how flat and saggy your butt is now! Not a single item of clothing you own fits you!” For a short, magical, time I was able to tell that voice to shut the hell up because I just had a baby.

It wasn’t long, though, before I didn’t just have a baby. The weeks and months were adding up behind me, and I felt like I should be able to fit into all my old clothes, because all my other mom friends could. They were skinnier than ever and rocking bikinis, but I was buying pull-on jeans and muu muu tops. This is going to sound ridiculous, but I had a mini identity crisis because I had to accept the fact that I was now… gasp… a size MEDIUM instead of a Small.

In the dressing room at Nordstrom Rack, there were so many times when I thought, “Well, the Medium fits better now, but I’ll be a Small again soon.” But soon still hasn’t come. It was confirmed when a woman at my chiropractor’s office was fitting me for a back brace, and she ventured a guess at my size: “What are you, a Medium?” So matter-of-fact, so no-big-deal, so inoffensive.

At that moment, about ten months after giving birth, I realized, “Oh my gosh. I am. I am a Medium.” I had a moment of silence for the old picture of myself that I’d been carrying around in my head. The girl who was a Small. The girl who fit into size 2 or 4 jeans. The girl who knew how to feel like a bombshell when she walked down the street.

Over the past few months, though, I’ve slowly started to realize something else. That girl, the one who actually WAS a size 2? The one who sometimes could manage to feel like a bombshell? She didn’t appreciate her body.

Thinking back five years ago to when I got married, I was the skinniest I’ve ever been since puberty. I was following a Paleo diet and doing Crossfit bootcamp workouts six or seven days a week. I had gotten down to 112 pounds, which is less than I weighed when I graduated high school at the age of 17 (now 18 years ago).

If you put my weight and height (5’6″) into a BMI calculator, it would tell you that I was technically underweight. I had a pair of size 2 pants that I could pull off without undoing the button. At the time, though, I saw a small, soft curve to my belly and thought I wasn’t perfect yet and that I needed to try harder. Now? I look at photos from my wedding…

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…and I think, “Oh man, that was fun. But dear GOD, woman. Eat a damn sandwich! With extra cheese! And mayo! And triple the gluten!” I can’t imagine why I thought I needed to be so thin, or that being that thin still wasn’t perfect enough.

A few months ago, I read this post from a local Austin mom blogger, and I got so mad at her.

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How could she possibly think her body isn’t perfect??!? She’s a freaking model even after having two kids! If she isn’t perfect, what the hell is a mortal like me supposed to feel about herself!?! But after some reflection I realized I wasn’t actually mad at her. I was mad at myself because I recognized myself in her insecurities. I thought, “If she doesn’t see how OBVIOUSLY beautiful and amazing and PERFECT her body is, maybe I’m being too hard on myself, too. Maybe perfect doesn’t exist.”

And I had another thought. “I bet if we were all shown pictures of our naked bodies but we didn’t know they were ours, we would think they were beautiful. Because we’d be looking for the beauty and not the flaws.”

Isn’t it true? When you see your friend in a bikini, or a photo of some celebrity, or just a random stranger on Instagram, don’t your eyes zero in on the things that are amazing? But when you see yourself in the mirror, what do you look at first? The cellulite? The tummy that’s softer and more prominent than it used to be? The wobbly bits under your arms? Your breasts that have started to sag? But you know what? No one else is looking for that. They’re looking for the beautiful bits on you. Why can’t we do the same for ourselves?

Now, I’m 136 ACK actually 139 pounds. (I don’t know why I felt like I needed you to think I’m 3 pounds lighter than I really am. Do you see how silly this obsession with being thinner is?? Three pounds! Who even cares!)  I’m 8-12 pounds heavier than I was when I got pregnant and about 25 pounds heavier than I was when I got married. If you had told five-years-ago me that this would happen, I would have been appalled. The horror! The horror of being a perfectly healthy weight! Of buying size 8 pants!

I’ve decided that I don’t want to look at pictures of my 34-year-old self when I’m 52 and think, “What the hell! Why didn’t I appreciate that beautiful body!” So I’m making an effort to love the body I have now. And if I’m really, truly honest with myself, and if I ignore that ugly voice that’s screaming at me to find something wrong, I look at these photos and think, “Yeah. I don’t look half bad. In fact… I look freaking beautiful!” So even though there is a constant argument in my head between that mean, critical, current voice and the wise, wistful voice of my future self, I am making my best effort to look at my body with kind eyes.

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From our trip to Hawaii in late January.

Photo from my amazing friend Sarah Schiffman, taken in Fredericksburg, TX this past weekend. (I'm the one on the right.)

Photo from my amazing friend Sarah Schiffman, taken in Fredericksburg, TX this past weekend. (I’m the one on the right.)

Now more than ever it feels important to be kind to myself because I know my own gorgeous daughter’s self-esteem is going to be tied to my own. If her perfectly healthy, perfectly normal-sized mother can’t stop talking about how fat and unattractive she is, what type of standard does that set for my little girl? She’ll probably feel like she needs to follow some extreme diet and exercise away every ounce of fat to get her body to a “perfect” size and shape. It won’t matter if I tell her that she’s perfect just the way she is if I can’t tell myself the same thing. She’s only 1 and already she’s imitating everything I do.

The same is true for how we talk about ourselves to our adult girlfriends, as it turns out. I recently read this NYT article by psychologist Renee Engeln — “The Problem with ‘Fat Talk'” — and found myself nodding and “amen”-ing heartily. Based on several studies and social experiments she’s done, her conclusion is that when women say things like, “Ugh, my belly is too squishy, my thighs are so big” it not only brings about feelings of shame in the woman making the comment, it encourages other women to disparage themselves, too.

We might think we’re being helpful and supportive when we chime in with our own body issues — “Me too! My love handles are out of control!” — but we’re actually hurting each other when we do that. She found that when we focus on our flaws, we are more dissatisfied with ourselves, and we’re bringing our friends down with us. It kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

But you know what else I think? Even when we say nice things about each other’s bodies it can still be harmful. This past weekend I went away on a girls trip and the typical weight- and body-focused comments came up. I had been trying really hard to keep from talking about my own body insecurities, or “fat talking.” And then one sweet friend said to me, “You look like you’ve lost weight!”

It was a well-intentioned comment meant to make me feel good, and for a second it did. But then it made me think, “Wow, people really are paying attention to my weight. I guess I do need to worry about how big I am and whether or not I’m getting skinnier. Also, I haven’t lost weight, so maybe she is making things up because she feels bad for me…” Total self-doubt spiral, which I know she didn’t intend! And I know it is probably just my own insecurity talking.

But…

I do think that when we comment on each other’s bodies, and especially weight, we give the shape and size of our bodies more importance than they really deserve. I’m not opposed to giving each other compliments (I love giving compliments! And getting them!), but maybe just “You look great” or “You look so healthy” or “You’re looking strong” is all we need to say. And then respond with a simple “thanks!” instead of deflecting the compliment and delving into a bulleted list of our perceived flaws.

Another recent article that sent my body-image red flags up was this story about a mom whose bikini selfie went viral.

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Now, I am all for anything that is inspiring to women and encourages us to feel comfortable in our own skin. It even gave me the thought that I should stop being so nervous about wearing my bikini in public. But things must be REALLY bad when a completely normal-looking woman with a lovely figure posts a picture of herself in a bikini on Instagram and it creates a social media firestorm.

By focusing on this woman’s body and saying, “Wow! How brave of her to show her body and not be embarrassed!” does it send the message that there was something she should rightfully be embarrassed about? How might that make women who are even more “flabby” feel, to quote the article? Is this type of attention helpful for women who are insecure about their bodies? Or does it make us even more self-critical?

I can’t control the type of stories and images that the media focus on. But I can influence the conversations that my girlfriends and I are having every day. My question now is, how?

What do you think? What can I say to my friends to dissuade body and weight comments, even seemingly positive ones? How do we all get each other to stop talking about our bodies so much? I would really love your thoughts on this topic.

Feeling all the feels as my sweet babe’s first birthday nears.

For the last few weeks I’ve been in some pretty serious denial that my baby is turning one in two days. Even this past weekend when we threw her a big first birthday bash it felt like her actual birthday was still far in the future. People kept saying, “I can’t believe she’s one!” And I kept saying, “Yeah, almost!” But now it’s starting to feel real. One year ago tonight I was about 7 hours from going into labor, and I’m reminiscing big time. Reliving those last days of baby-free life in my mind, trying to wrap my brain around everything that’s happened. It feels like at the end of The Sixth Sense when you find out that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time and your brain does a massive rewind back through everything that came before that, not only in the movie but in your entire life on planet earth. Because whaaaaaaaat.

A few days before labor started, I had written this letter to the baby I was still carrying and was so curious about what she’d be like when I finally got to meet her. I had organized all the baby things, gotten a pedicure, and was spending most of my time buying myself flowers, baking muffins, snuggling cats, and bouncing on my birth ball.

I guess this is what they call nesting.

I guess this is what they call nesting.

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Yes, cat, please feel free to use my giant uterus as a pillow.

Boing boing boing.

Boing boing boing.

Even though it’s only been a year (ALMOST!), I have a hard time imagining life before this sweet little girl. It’s hard to remember what it was like to live life without so much of my brain and heart and soul devoted to this little person. When I think back to who I was before having a baby, it’s like remembering someone who was your best friend growing up but you haven’t talked to in twenty years. I feel like I know that person better than anyone and yet not at all anymore. But that’s probably a topic for a whole post of its own…

On this day one year ago I was in a very PMS-y mood and my face erupted in the most giant pimple the world has ever seen, smack dab in the middle of my cheek. That probably should have been a clue that something was about to happen. I also ate two dinners — a giant plate of nachos and a huge bowl of creamy pasta. I guess I was fueling up even though I didn’t know it at the time.

I’m so glad I wrote out my birth story in detail (read it hear if you want!), and today I read and re-read it, refreshing my mind on details that I’d already forgotten. I’m sure I’ll be lost in reverie the next couple of days remembering what an unreal, other-worldly time that was. Because as much as it’s a big deal that my baby is having her first birthday, it’s also a really big deal for me. It’s a celebration of the day I felt at my lowest and at my highest, my weakest and my most powerful. It’s the first anniversary of the day I became a mother. The hardest, best day of my life.

Best Thing Evar – Sock Ons Giveaway (Winner Announced)

Guess what! I’m starting a new series called “Best Thing Evar,” in which I tell you about some of my favorite things. I’m excited to share this first “Best Thing Evar” with you because I don’t think many parents know about it yet. Also, they’ve agreed to give a lucky Best Day Evar reader a freebie, so read on, yo!

You know how you generally have to keep like a thousand spare baby socks in your diaper bag because they inevitably pop off somewhere in the grocery store, probably while you are distracted by the man pouring free samples of Pinot Noir, but you don’t notice until you are by the yogurt and then you have to retrace your steps all the way back to the bananas and by then JUST FORGET IT because the baby is pissed at you for not letting her play with the raw chicken / jumbo jar of apple sauce / bottle of Pinot Noir?

Well, someone has finally done something about the maddening disappearing act that baby socks love to perform. They are called Sock Ons and they will change your life. I first saw them on a baby at a sign language class we occasionally go to, and I was like, “This baby… her socks are actually staying on! What is this sorcery?!” I happened to see these mysterious and magical Sock Ons the next time I was browsing the aisles at Buy Buy Baby and decided it was worth the gamble of $5.99 to find out if they really worked. And you guys. They do. They slip on over your baby’s socks to hold them in place, kind of like a sports bra for baby feet. (Is that a weird comparison? I don’t know… they both keep certain things from ending up on the floor of the cereal aisle.)

Here is my babe modeling a Sock On on one foot and nothing on the other foot. Because unless she is wearing Sock Ons, she’s pretty much not wearing socks.

This kid looooves taking her socks off, but who could get mad at this face??

This kid looooves taking her socks off, but who could get mad at this face??

She actually prefers playing with socks to playing with most toys. And when she wants to bring her sock with her, she has a crafty way of carrying it so she can still crawl without slipping around.

Yes, that is a sock in her mouth.

Yes, that is a sock in her mouth.

In summary, Sock Ons are awesome and you should totally get some. I got mine at Buy Buy Baby, but you can also get them off of Amazon. They are not compensating me in any way to say this, by the way. But I did approach them and ask if a reader could get a free pair, so you should enter the giveaway through the link at the bottom of this post, and maybe it could be you! Don’t worry, I’m not going to share your info with anyone and I won’t spam you. Good luck!

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Click this link to enter the giveaway.

UPDATE: Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway. I’m happy to announce Katie T was selected at random to win a pair of Sock Ons! Yay Katie! I’ve sent you an email about receiving your major award.

Happy 2015!

I know I’m more than a week late here, but happy new year, guys! Over the last couple of weeks, SOMEone has become very good at climbing stairs, so this is what we’ve been up to over here pretty much all day every day…

My favorite is the third frame where the cat is looking at me like, "Seriously? Can't you do something about this?"

My favorite is the third frame where the cat is looking at me like, “Seriously? Can’t you do something about this?”

Also, real talk. Everyone says that the newborn phase of life with a baby is the hardest, but I feel like my job as full-time caregiver to this kiddo got a whole lot harder these past couple of weeks now that she is really and truly constantly on the move. She’s been crawling in some form or fashion for about two months now, but only lately has she gotten confident and adventurous enough to zoom all over the house, sometimes thrusting herself backward while sitting on the middle of the staircase, like, “Hmm, I think I’ll just lay down now! This dangerous abyss looks comfy!” THANK GOD so far I’ve been quick enough to catch her little melon before it goes splat.

Sure, I guess we could put baby gates up, but the truth is I’d rather follow her up the stairs 1,200 times a day than try and find one more kitchen utensil that she isn’t already bored of and that won’t maim one of us. As for the pile of brightly colored plastic shit from China in the corner of our living room, well, that is mainly just part of the decor as far as the baby is concerned. I would describe our current aesthetic as mid-century modern meets this-century toddler.

In even real-er real talk, I am losing my mind a little bit because pretty much every nap this week has been curtailed due to a steaming hot poop. Almost like clockwork after 40 minutes the kiddo sets to hollerin’ and as soon as you open the door to the nursery you know why. At first I thought it was pretty cool that she likes a good old-fashioned Fiery Doritos Locos Taco Supreme from Taco Bell as much as her mama, but now I’m not so sure.

(JKJKJK I don’t feed my 10-month-old Taco Bell. Not that I would judge you if you do, because shit, keeping up with the dietary demands of a tiny tyrant is not for the faint of heart. It can’t all be pastured egg yolk from your urban chicken coupe mixed with homemade bone stock from a free-ranging local cow with a heart of gold that volunteered itself as tribute to nourish the Paleo, organic babies of the world. However, I’ve never had a Fiery Doritos Locos Taco, and in fact I had to look it up on the Taco Bell website just now to even know what the hell was in it besides Fiery Doritos. Now that I know it is served with “cool reduced-fat sour cream,” though, I’m going to add it to my list of Super Healthy Foods That Will Probably Help Me Get My Pre-Baby Body Back.)

Anyway, this new year’s wish has turned into a little bit of a rant, hasn’t it? Oh, well. But on a positive note, I was just able to shower, pluck my eyebrows AND my chin hair, AND THEN write an entire blog post because this kid’s afternoon nap just hit the two-hour mark! HA-leh-freaking-llujah!

Here’s to 2015 — may your naps be long and your poops be well-timed. Speaking of which, is it not THE WORST when you have to poop immediately after showering? Gah! So much for that thong you had picked out to wear today, huh? Guess everyone’s gonna see your full-coverage pantyline underneath your yoga pants. Anyway, yeah, well-timed poops for all in 2015.

Easy Last-Minute Holiday Baby Photos

Are you kicking yourself because it’s nearly Christmas Day and you still haven’t taken any photos of your baby looking Christmas-y? Maybe you intended to hire a fancy photographer until you saw that fancy photographers come with fancy price tags. Or maybe you had a session scheduled with a fancy photographer, but your teetery baby tried to impale his face on the corner of the coffee table and got a black eye the day before. Maybe you took your baby to see Santa but she was like, “WHUUUUT… UNHAND ME, BEARDED STRANGER!” which did not result in the sweet Christmas moment you were hoping would live on Facebook forever. Guess what? You can still take a perfectly good-enough baby Christmas photo even if (like me!) you are waaaay not a photographer.

Here was my strategy, which worked out pretty well:

1) Put baby in nothing but a diaper and a knit hat.

2) Put baby in a chair near a window with good natural light. (It was cloudy the day we took these pics so the light wasn’t ideal, but eh.)

3) Give baby something you’ve never let her play with before, like some tinsel or an ornament. This way the novelty will make her smile real big and keep her from trying to dive head-first toward the hardwood floor while your hands are on the camera.

4) Snap a bunch of pics, hopefully you’ll get at least one or two that work out!

This is the one we ended up putting on the front of our Christmas card:

Cover of our Christmas card!

Won’t you take me to… tinsel towwwwn? (Sing to the tune of Funkytown, please.)

Here are some others that I really liked, plus a bonus pic of her in the Christmas tree onesie I crafted her.

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Still need Christmas presents for the grandparents? Upload those sweet baby pics to Walgreens and the nice folks there will have them printed for you later that day. (For the rest of December if you use coupon code DEAL30 you’ll get 30% off your prints, too!) Slap ’em in a frame, and Bob’s your uncle! Oh yeah, maybe print one for Uncle Bob, too.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Happy Inside Out Day, Baby!

I know everything is all about the big X to the mas right now, but I had to pause to celebrate a very special day… Today is baby Ruby’s Inside Out Day! This means she has been on the outside officially as long as she was on the inside – 40 weeks and six days. (Now, technically they count pregnancy from the first day of your last period, which means there are generally two extra weeks in there before the baby is conceived so reeeeally she was only in there for 38 weeks and six days, but let’s ignore all that because UGH math.)

So we did a little photo shoot today to commemorate how far this babe has come. For comparison, here she is gestating away at 13 weeks old, waving at the camera.

Our tiny babe at 13 weeks.

Our tiny babe at 13 weeks.

And here she is today! She’s been sticking her tongue out a bunch, and even though we had her tongue tie clipped when she was a few days old, her tongue still makes a cute heart shape when she sticks it out. She has also been crinkling up her nose a lot when she smiles, and I think she gets this from imitating me. I am constantly scrunching up my nose at her because she’s so stinkin’ cute!

Little baby scrunchy nose!

Little baby scrunchy nose!

She’s been pretty awesome from straight out the chute, but I think that 9 months is my favorite age so far. She has so much personality, it’s really fun to see her coming into herself. She’s also loving being able to crawl around and use her body more, as is evidenced by her new favorite way to nurse, which is essentially in a downward dog. Whenever she looks up from nursing like that, milk drips out of her nose. She’s ridiculous. I can’t get enough of her!

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Happy Inside Out Day, baby! I liked having you in, but I like having you out even better.

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Hideous Christmas: The Crafts

Standing room only at the craft table, y'all!

Standing room only at the craft table, y’all!

The first year that we hosted our Hideous Christmas party in Texas I decided we needed something for people to do besides stand around and drink. Parties can be especially awkward when you invite a bunch of people who don’t know each other and have nothing to talk about. But put some pipe cleaners, sequins, egg nog, and a glue gun in front of total strangers and they can’t help but craft a sparkling new friendship. Adults are really just big kindergartners, only boozier.

For a couple years I didn’t put a ton of thought into the craft table, I just bought whatever looked fun and Christmas-y at the craft store and left people to their own devices. But I think people have an easier time being creative when they have at least a little bit of direction, so I’ve started doing a distinct project each year.

I’ve done stockings, of course, and one year I sewed and stuffed felt ornaments. Last year the hubs made a 15-foot-tall paper Christmas tree and we had people decorate “craft foam” that was pre-cut into Christmas-y shapes like snowflakes and gingerbread people. Then we stuck them all to the paper tree with double-sided tape — you can see that set-up in the background of the below pic.

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That was REAL easy because I didn’t have to make anything myself. Although hubs took quite a while constructing the paper tree — he even did a mock-up in Google Sketch-Up, ha! He used to be a professional furniture maker, so he can’t help but be precise in everything he constructs, even when it is technically supposed to be hideous.

You know, Jesus was a carpenter, too.

You know, Jesus was a carpenter, too.

This year I wanted to do something a little more unique and hand-made. I was like, “What can I do that looks super handmade and crafty but doesn’t actually require me to sew or spend a lot of time?” I remembered a sweet wreath brooch my mom had growing up, and I thought BOOM, brooches, bitches.

Then I realized I needed something that dudes would not be embarrassed to craft, too, and I thought, “BOOYAH! Christmas ties for the guys!” All this could be accomplished with felt cut into super simple shapes, pins, and a glue gun. I decided to offer four options — a wreath, a Christmas tree, a tie, and a bowtie. Stockings, gingerbread people, and presents would have been other great, easy options, too.

Sample Christmas brooches from this year's Hideous Christmas.

Sample Christmas brooches from this year’s Hideous Christmas.

The prep was really easy, I just doodled some simple patterns onto paper and then cut out several of each shape in red, green, white, and blue felt. I hot-glued brooch pins onto the back of each shape so that all my guests would have to do is decorate the front.

I provided a bunch of felt in various colors, some sparkly ribbon, some sequins, pipe cleaners, tiny pom poms, and whatever other fun embellishments I could find. And my friends did not disappoint! How super cute are this plaid tie and bow-tie my buddies made?? It was perfect because the following weekend they threw a plaid-themed Christmas party, which was totally genius. Wish I’d thought of it!

Merry Craftmas!

“We bring you glad TIE-dings of great joy.”

In short, if you really want to make your Christmas party next-level, get yoself a craft table. It’s a really fun way for people to feel like a kid again, and it’s an easy ice breaker when people aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves or what to talk about. Pro tips: 1) Wrap your table in Christmas wrapping paper so it looks super festive, your table doesn’t get damaged, and clean-up is easy. 2) Remember to un-plug the glue gun before you stumble toward your bed at the end of the night.

If people are interested in the patterns for my Christmas brooches, let me know in the comments and I’ll upload them. Merry Craftmas, y’all!

No, really – the best day evar.

Tonight I am feeling super sentimental because it is the five-year anniversary of our wedding! I am having so much fun walking down memory lane and looking at all of our photos. Our photographer was one of the things we splurged on (Bloom Photography), and I am SO glad. It was definitely money well spent looking back through all her fabulous photos, even years later. We saved money in other places, like instead of a deejay or a band we just made a playlist on my iPod. And you know what? That was awesome, too, because every single song that came on made me be like, “OH MY GOD, you guys… I LOVE THIS SONG!” Because, duh, I picked them all. I danced for six hours straight with only, like, two pee breaks. And the other awesome thing about making your own playlist for your wedding is that you can listen to it whenever you want and re-live the best night of your life. Win win win.

Here are some of my favorite photos from that night (I could post a jillion more, but I had to stop somewhere!):

 

If there is any time you're allowed to be caught checking out your own ass, I think it's right before you walk down the aisle.

If there is any time you’re allowed to be caught checking out your own ass, I think it’s right before you walk down the aisle.

"Not on the lips!" Air kisses with mom before the big show.

“Not on the lips!” Air kisses with mom before the big show.

The photographer said, "Can you give me sass?" And one of my girls said, "Oh, we've got sass for days." Clearly.

The photographer said, “Can you give me sass?” And one of my girls said, “Oh, we’ve got sass for days.” Clearly.

I was seriously so excited about marrying my hubs, I almost sprinted down the aisle. My dad could hardly keep up, ha.

I was seriously so excited about marrying my hubs, I almost sprinted down the aisle. My dad could hardly keep up, ha.

This was one of my favorite moments all night. My girls and I broke out into a COMPLETELY UNPLANNED synchronized dance to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." I think I was channeling an old Sweatin' to the Oldies video cassette.

This was one of my favorite moments all night. My girls and I broke out into a COMPLETELY UNPLANNED synchronized dance to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” I think I was channeling an old Sweatin’ to the Oldies video cassette.

We don't hold back on the dancefloor. And I like to pretend it was because my dress was tight, but truthfully my husband has way more mad dancing skillz than me.

We don’t hold back on the dancefloor. And I like to pretend it was because my dress was tight, but truthfully my husband has way more mad dancing skillz than me.

But he still can't beat me in sheer enthusiasm for the classic wedding reception song, "Shout!"

But he still can’t beat me in sheer enthusiasm for the classic wedding reception song, “Shout!”

And that, friends, was truly THE BEST DAY EVAR in my book.

And that, friends, was truly THE BEST DAY EVAR in my book.

Hideous Christmas: The Drinks

Everyone knows that a Christmas party is way more fun if there is good booze involved. You know this especially well if you have ever been to a Christmas party whilst pregnant, and the most fun you can possibly have is with some sparkling cider in a champagne flute, playing “Chubby Bunny” in the corner by yourself with a heaping plate of Christmas cookies.

It's the happ-happiest season of alllllll!

It’s the happ-happiest season of alllllll!

This is why every year at our party we serve two surefire hits — Shiner Cheer on tap from our kegerator, and an amazing mint-pineapple-bourbon “Hospitality Punch” that our good friend and certified bourbon expert Adam Harris created. (Seriously you guys, his official title is “Master Bourbon Ambassador” for Beam Suntory, the distillers who make not just Jim Beam but also Maker’s Mark, Basil Hayden’s, Knob Creek, Booker’s, Baker’s, and more. Dude knows what he’s talking about. Follow him at his awesomely clever Twitter handle, @bourbonvivant.) I’ve shared the recipe at the bottom of this post.

Shiner is a much-beloved Texas brewery, and Shiner Cheer is their holiday brewski made with Texas peaches and pecans. For us the official start of the holiday season is when Cheer hits the shelves, and we guzzle down as much as we can before it disappears for another year. (PSA: please guzzle responsibly.) (Meaning, use a koozie.) (Oh, okay, and a designated driver. OBVIOUSLY… I can’t believe you even made me say it.)

This year I decided to construct a little homage to Shiner Cheer as part of the decor. Behold, the glorious Shiner Cheer Gingerbeerd House! Complete with Cheer beer bottle chimney and smoke plume, and a Christmas tree with Cheer bottlecap ornaments. I’m a little bit obsessed with it, and every time I walk by it I can’t help but stop and stare, and then tenderly and lovingly adjust the snow on the roofline.

My crowning achievement -- a gingerbread house made of Shiner Cheer boxes.

My crowning achievement — a gingerbread house made of Shiner Cheer boxes.

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“Hospitality Punch” Recipe, courtesy of Adam Harris – Beam Suntory Master Bourbon Ambassador

Ingredients:

  • 1 liter Maker’s Mark or other good bourbon
  • 2 bottles pineapple juice (the good stuff from Whole Foods or similar)
  • Mint
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup allspice dram
  • 1/2 liter of club soda (or to taste)
  • Lemon wheels for garnish

About 2 hours ahead of time, put your mint in the pineapple juice bottles and stick them in the fridge to infuse.

When it’s time to make the punch, strain the mint out of the pineapple juice and mix it in with the rest of the ingredients, adding the club soda last just before your guests are supposed to arrive. Garnish with thin-sliced lemon wheels. Then call everyone cabs because people will doubt you when you tell them there is a liter of booze in this punch and they will not treat it with the reverence it deserves. You have been warned!

What are some of your favorite party drinks to serve? I’m always looking for new suggestions!