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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Family Pack

It's been a while since I posted a pic of this girl. Or any one of our five mutts, for that matter. 

The truth is when baby boy arrived, our fur babies took a big backseat, just as everyone said they would. Life hasn't been the same. They don't have our doting like before. But they do have each other. And they even have their own rather nice "dog den" in our old guest house in the backyard. 

Still, we feel guilty as we pass them everyday, swearing we'll get back to them soon enough. 

Our baby boy loves them, pointing and laughing at his "Bark-Barks," even though we all know he makes them nervous and is the culprit for their new found neglect. 

Candy Lou, in particular, was the princess of my lap (and the original inspiration of this blog!). She came to me via Heart of Georgia Humane Society, just a few weeks after the tragic passing of my beloved Guapo. Ironically, they called her Mama. She was surrendered to the old school Animal Control for getting pregnant on her first heat. She gave birth in foster care, and after her one puppy was adopted out, she ultimately found her way to us. So, she seems to get the mama thing more than any of them. 

She's also an alpha among our pack. Her throne now sits at the top of our backdoor stairs, where she remains hopeful for an invitation to return inside and resume the life she had better than any of the other four. And she sits so patiently. She's watched me go in and out of the house in the fog of the newborn haze, the blissfulness of new babydom, the business mode of working motherhood and the concern that comes from keeping a curious toddler from getting hurt. And she sits and waits for whatever she can get these days, even if it's just a quick pat, acknowledging that's she there. 

I can't promise Candy Lou that we'll get back to our "old life" together. And I don't know if she'll live long enough to see things truly settle down. 

But one thing I can assure her and our other four is that they're not going anywhere. We can't give them all we gave them before, but we can give them the same loyalty they've given us. We're not the parents who turn our backs on our pets. 

Sure, they are messy. They are unsure of the baby. They still bark too much. But they are quieter than they used to be, especially when we shush them and say "baby is sleeping." And when the baby does want to see the "Bark-Barks," we respect their space so our child can learn to respect it, too.

Tonight, Candy Lou's waiting didn't go unnoticed. She was bathed, she was cuddled and she was reminded she was still loved. It was just enough, so that when it was time for bed, she quickly went back to the pack, settling down for the night in their den outside our backdoor. 

The fact is, we're all part of the pack - me, Jamie, Walden and the five mutts (Candy Lou, Boz Waggs, Tybee, Bowen and Miss Kitty). They miss living with the ultimate alphas, but they know the newest cub needs us more right now. 

And even though the attention they get from us may never be the same, before we all know it, their love will triple as our son comes to know them like we always will. A baby, indeed, changes everything ... Including making that love and loyalty only grow.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It's a Small World First Birthday!

It's a small, small word, but gosh, it's been more like row, row, row your boat. Walden has us running to keep up with him, but he's also finally entered the marathon toddler napping stage, allowing me the time to do this. So, I'm finally circling back around and posting the pics from his "It's a Small World" themed first birthday party.

We had his party at Macon's Lake Tobesofkee water park. There is an enclosed cinder block pavilion at Claystone Beach that we rented for the occasion. It's nothing fancy, but it's got great AC, a full kitchen (including an ice maker!), tables, chairs, high chairs, restrooms, a stage and good ol' tile polished concrete floors. It's also very reasonable to rent for the entire day. 

With Walden's birthday falling in late June, I think we've found our forever birthday home. As he grows, there is the lake, a disc golf course, campgrounds and even a water amusement park to add to the party mix. As long as he lets me, I'd like to keep the birthday tradition here for as long as I can. Not the mention, the staff at Lake Tobo (as we call it here in Macon) are some of the best of the best in Bibb County. They went out of their way to make sure our birthday party was just right for us and our guests.

So, back to the theme. I chose "It's a Small World" because it is the greatest amusement ride of all time -- next to having a child, of course. It also resonates with the wishes I have for my little boy to see the world and realize we all share the same sun. 

And it was a really easy theme to run with, even without getting too crafty. I ordered international flags, banners, plates, napkins, table runners and wayfinding signs from Amazon Prime (actually, Amazon Smile with proceeds going to Historic Macon). I also ordered party favors from there, which included play passports and your very own "small world" to take home. The passports even came with passport stamp stickers to dress up the party hats.

For the tablescape, I found a handmade banner from Etsy made up of pages from an "It's a Small World" Golden Book. I then recycled some burlap, added this ferris wheel lamp find from Goodwill I bought before Walden was a twinkle in my eye and added some more worldly flair like the international flag table runner and some cut-out "It's a Small World" doll images. 

Our biggest splurge on decorations was commissioning a local artist (and baby-sitter in a pinch!) Heidi Clinite to paint a backdrop that set the stage for our party. And we had the perfect little boat to put in front of it, a castaway treasure courtesy of the Bolingbroke trash dump (thanks, Dad!). 

For the food, I wanted to go with a tiny taste around the world and incorporate some ethnic nibbles, but frankly, the voice in the back of my head told me to keep it simple, so chicken salad and pimento cheese it was from our own Grow here in Macon. I did however find international flags on toothpicks, which made up for it. If that wasn't enough, Jamie and I had bought a set of Icelandic flag toothpicks on our honeymoon, so it was only fitting we used them for our son's first birthday. 

The extent of my craftiness was a watermelon my mom helped me hallow out to look like a boat. We filled it with fruit, and Walden's super-sitter Taylor made a graphic that said "The Happiest Cruise that Ever Sailed 'Round the World" that we cut out and laminated to stick out of the fruit vessel. I also printed and cut out circles of the "Small World" clock tower face, which we laminated and laid on top of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Yes, there were doughnuts AND cake. Finally, one of my favorite strokes of ingenuity was to make a graphic to go on the cooler full of international beer. It said "Take a Lil' Sip Around the World." Yes, there were doughnuts, cake and a selection of imported beer at my son's first birthday. Who needs ice cream?

The cakes totally stole the show. His "Small World" multi-tier themed cake + his little global smash cake were a bigger deal to me than a wedding cake. Downtown Macon's own Amanda's Cakery just wowed us with creations that were just as delicious as they looked. 

To round out the party, we brought toys from home, including Walden's plastic ball pit and his tee-pee (our first birthday present to him). I loaded up on inflatable globe beach balls, and the kids took it from there. Between the wide open floors and old fashion fun, plus a record player spinning an original "It's a Small World" vinyl, we had ourselves quite the party on our hands . . . Walden Weatherford approved.

There is just one moon and one golden sun

And a smile means friendship to everyone

Though the mountains divide

And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all!

(all the "good" quality pics are by familiar friend Stephanie Shadden!)