baby z.

party party || amelia’s first birthday


i’m just going to say this up front: i am a terrible party planner.

“oh, great thing to admit when you write about entertaining erin!”, says everyone.

hear me out. i like to throw parties. i like to plan them. but i have this problem where i don’t leave myself enough time to do it the way i want to do it. for example, i started planning amelia’s 1st birthday party when she was 11 months old. and when i say started planning, i literally mean i hadn’t even picked a date until then. yikes.

but it was all great! it turned out wonderfully, everything got done and i wasn’t even stressed out. the best part was that amelia had fun, which is what i wanted out of all of it. i also wanted to be able to drink a vodka lemonade, and i got to do that too.

we kept things really simple. no theme, just some fun pink streamers and gold balloons. i also printed out all of amelia’s milestone photos and hung those from a pennant banner with mini clothespins so you could see her progression over the year. that was my favorite part of the party actually, it was so fun to see how she had grown! we grilled burgers, had potato salad and corn, and watermelon (it’s amelia’s favorite). there was cake (and adult beverages) for the guests, and amelia had her own little smash cake that she oh-so-tenderly smashed when the time came. there was beer and cocktails and the weather cooperated (by being insanely cold for august, but we’ll take that over muggy and hot i guess?). wouldn’t you want to come to that party??

in addition to being terrible at planning parties on time, i am equally terrible at taking pictures during any major life event. so here is a nice little photo dump wherein i own two of the photos and the rest were taken by my sister maggie, without whom none of us would ever have any photographic evidence of big events. thank you mags.



[opening grandma and grandpa hooley’s gift – the vacuum!]

[thoroughly enjoying grandma and grandpa zauner’s gift – the chair!]

[channeling her inner molly ringwald in her new denim vest from auntie mary]

thank you to everyone for all the sweet birthday wishes you sent the little one last month. it meant a lot to Mister Man and me, and i know amelia would appreciate them if she had social media/could read. she is enjoying being one very much…she thinks it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever, and we think that she’s a pretty great one year old too.

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*as an aside, we spent less than $200 for the entire party, including invites, drinks and food for 25, and decorations. all decorations were bought at target, we made sure to buy any food we were able ahead of time with coupons, we sent out online invitations, and kept drinks really simple. we also didn’t buy her any gifts…she got plenty of new things from her family and friends, and she doesn’t understand anything like that yet. all that to say, if you want to, you can still have a fun party while keeping things reasonably priced and in a budget. etsy doesn’t need to own you! 🙂

amelia: twelve months old.

and then she was one.

and life went on as usual. except when she stopped nursing and started climbing big kid playground equipment and just generally acting like a toddler, seemingly overnight.

but who needs babies to stay babies? i mean, missing the baby stage is how siblings get made, right?

if you can’t tell by these photos, then let me inform you: our girl is a feisty one. all 19.5 pounds of her. she is one going on five, and she knows that if she tries hard enough, she will eventually learn how to do anything. which means that we are running after her a lot on the playground, because she thinks that the five year olds want to be her friend (she calls them “baaaaybees!”) and she also thinks she can walk down the stairs alone.

i’m not quite sure where she got the feistiness, but Mister Man tells me he has an idea of where it may have come from…

she knows where her head, ear, nose, eyes and tongue are. she can say baby, poopoo, watermelon, bellybutton, num-num, bottle, and is adding new words everyday. her favorite thing to do besides dance is to pick cherry tomatoes from the garden and eat them as fast as she can.

she is learning how to give hugs and kisses, and she loves to facetime her far-away family. she is quite the social butterfly and likes to make sure she has waved at every single person in the grocery store by the time we leave.

she is our hearts and our souls, and we sometimes just stare at her and wonder where she came from, because it couldn’t possibly be from the two of us goofballs. and yet here she is.

darling amelia. thank you for making me a mom one year ago. thank you for making your dad the most wonderful dad i could imagine. every day with you is the best day, and we are so blessed to get to spend the days with you. we pray that you grow up knowing how loved you are, and that no matter what happens in this life, you will always be our little girl.

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reflections on a year of motherhood.

some thoughts from a rookie after her first year of being a mom:

tonight, when i put amelia to bed, she didn’t want to nurse. at all. it was like, oh thanks mom, but those are for little babies. i’m one so i drink from bottles now. so i had Mister Man whip up a bottle of regular milk, she geeked out and chugged it down, and that was that. we’re done with nursing, on the first anniversary of the first time we ever nursed together.

that bittersweet feeling; of getting through a whole year, but also feeling like i’m just not quite ready to be done with that year, that’s what this experience has felt like to me. the past 365 days have gone so slowly, and so fast; i’m so happy when each new milestone comes, and i’m so sad when they have to make way for the next one. the paradoxes are real, i’m telling you.


if there were any one feeling that i have felt the most this year, it would be pride. i have done more things this year that i am proud of than any other single year of my life, and a lot of them were really hard and really awesome. i gave birth. i nursed a baby for a full 12 months, while working (and an active baby at that!). i started a new position at work the day i got back from maternity leave. i survived solo parenting quite often. i have raised a daughter who has a sense of humor and loves to be active and brings so much joy to the lives she touches. so pride seems right. also i feel tired.


after a year of feeling like i was nothing but mama, i’m finally feeling like i’m closer to being back to being me and being mama. i feel like i’m figuring out how to be both in a more balanced way. and it’s okay that it took me a year. i had to make my peace with that a while ago, that the balance wasn’t going to happen for me within a year, like you hear some people say it will. but i made my peace with my timing and my balance and now i only feel excited about what life is going to look like going forward, there is no resentment in sight.

mom is a title that has fit me better than i ever thought it would. i’m nowhere near the person or the mom that i want to be yet, but i’m getting closer everyday. patience is a virtue that i thought i possessed before having amelia, but it turns out i didn’t have any at all. i ask God every day for more of it, and i’m slowly being blessed with that, although not without some growing pains on my part.

no one ever said it would be easy, but it is oh so worth it.

i wanted to write this quick while i was feeling all the first birthday feels. i’ll be posting amelia’s 12 month update soon, just as soon as i pin her down long enough to take her photo. yikes! #toddlerprobs 

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our favorite baby food tips.

as we inch closer to the day we will officially have a one year old in the house, i’ve been thinking a lot about the different milestones this year has brought. as any new parent knows (and any expecting parent will soon find out), food takes up a large portion of your brain in the first year. when they eat, how much they eat, what they eat, it goes on and on.

one of my favorite parts of amelia getting older was when she started to eat solid food. we didn’t rush into it too fast, and we chose to start with purees, because our girl loves to eat, and we wanted her to have some practice chewing and swallowing before she took bites of whole foods. that being said, each baby is different and will move into solids at their own pace. some of my favorite memories with her are feeding her and eating meals with her at the table this year.

here are some of my favorite tips for all things baby food

1) wait until your baby is ready.

we waited until we saw a few signs that amelia was ready for purees. one was that she was constantly hungry after nursing, and no matter how much i let her nurse, a milk-only diet was not cutting it anymore for her. another was that she was SO interested in what her dad and i were eating. the third was that she was sitting up well and had teeth, so physically she was ready to eat as well. this happened for amelia at about six months old. if your baby isn’t ready until later, that works fine too!

2) make your own baby food.

making our own baby food was one of those things that made people think we were way more intense than we really are, but in actuality was really easy and really cheap. i would shop for produce, either fresh or frozen (frozen organic food is the best invention ever), once a week with our regular groceries, and then on a sunday or monday would spend 1-2 hours cutting, steaming and pureeing it. i would freeze the purees in baby food containers or ice cube trays, and then the next day when they were frozen, i would pop out the cubes and transfer them to labeled freezer bags for easy access. this way, i could grab one or a few different cubes of food, defrost them in the microwave and have a meal ready for her in just a couple minutes.

the hardest part at first was figuring out what foods to make, so here’s a tip from me to you: go to the baby food aisle and make a list of the varieties of purees. you’ll notice that there aren’t actually that many, and so when you branch off from those, you’ll feel pretty special. also, we used happy baby organic pouches for when we would eat out or travel, and we will still use them if we are going to be on the road during a mealtime.

3) start small.

the one drawback of introducing foods is that you are then tied to your house for mealtimes. so start small, with one meal at a time. we started with dinner (in the hopes it would help nighttime sleep…it didn’t), then added breakfast, and waited as long as we could before introducing lunch. now that she eats more quickly it’s not as much of a hassle to be home or out for mealtimes, but starting small and introducing meals slowly will really help ease you into the new schedule.

4) don’t be afraid of finger food.

when you’re ready to move past purees, the same rules for starting food apply; follow your baby’s cues, and your gut. we started very small, with just cheerios for a while, and then moved to things like soft cheese cubes, quinoa, and soft steamed veggies. once amelia had the chewing solid food thing down, we pretty much gave her whatever we were having in a deconstructed form; tacos, spaghetti, lentil soup, you name it, she’s tried it. this is easier to do if you tend to cook a lot in your house and don’t eat a lot of processed foods, but it can also be a good reason to start cooking and eating whole foods more…your baby needs it anyway so you might as well make one thing for the whole family instead of separate meals!

5) embrace the mess.

this is just a good metaphor for having a child in general, but especially when it comes to eating.  just remember, you can clean anything off the ground, and babies are cuter when they have a messy face. don’t fuss over flung cheerios or smashed berries under butts – embrace the mess.

favorite food ideas

favorite purees:

  • apple with cinnamon. great to mix with almost anything else, especially with squash and with the morning oatmeal.
  • pears. see above for reasons.
  • spinach. maybe this is just our child, but she loves dark green veggies. don’t know how or why, but i’ll take it.
  • broccoli. again, with the green veggies. but this puree is great to mix with other veggies as well.
  • carrots. this was our first puree, and amelia still loves carrots. they are just sweet enough.

favorite finger foods:

  • cheerios. this is the best invention in the history of food when it comes to babies. there is even a hole in it so choking is not as scary!
  • toast. dry toast feels great on sore, teething gums, plus it has a lot of iron in it.
  • peas. amelia loves them. they’re the perfect size, and they’re healthy.
  • blueberries. these are just the right amount of mushy, and the frozen ones are easy to keep on hand (same goes for frozen peas).
  • cheese. amelia is her mother’s daughter and loves her some cheese. but i mean, who doesn’t?
  • happy baby organic snacks. our favorites are the yogurt and coconut milk creamies and the rice cakes. we can pass on the puffs, cheerios are better in our opinion.

if anyone has suggestions for their favorite baby food ideas, leave them below in the comments. have questions? leave them there too, or email me at hooleywithaz [at] gmail [dot] com. happy eating!

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amelia: eleven months old.

first, just let me say: what? i have a how-many-month old? eleven, as in, 12 minus one?


great. now that’s out of the way,  my tiny little baby is eleven months old! and just like that, i’m all, “oh crap, i think i should maybe start planning for a birthday party or one year photos or something that prove i’m not completely inept at this modern mom thing”. hashtag killing it.

we are so so close to that magical one year mark. why is it magical? well, for me, a big part of it is getting to worry about sustaining my body only. no more pumping three times a day at work, plus some on the days i don’t work, just to make not even enough milk for that sweet little darling of mine. no more needing to be home for the nighttime feeding, or skipping every happy hour because of the timing. no more stressing about if there is enough milk left in the freezer, or avoiding leaving the house because it’s not worth using up a bag. i can go to the gym again instead of half-assign these at-home workouts! (see also: new bras!!)

it’s also magical because she is proof that i can help another human being not only survive, but thrive for a whole year. in my opinion, one of the harder years, from a physical standpoint if not an emotional one. this year has made me think that i could do this baby thing a few more times and not ruin anybody’s life.

and while there are challenges to having an 11-month old toddler (like, oh i don’t know, the fact that she can’t understand how stairs work but can get to them pretty damn quickly…), there are so many fun things about it. we can play on the parts of the park equipment that aren’t the swings, we can explore the backyard together, she can help me push her stroller around (kidding, but she actually does that sometimes).

she can also tell me what she wants or doesn’t want from time to time. my favorite thing right now is when she gets up in the morning, she doesn’t usually cry anymore. instead, she wakes up, talks to her lovey and nook for a minute, then stands up in the crib and says, “all done! all done! all done!”. you know, because she’s done sleeping. it makes so much sense that it brings tears to my eyes. she’s figured out that all done applies to more than just her mealtimes. baby humans are amazing creatures, i tell you what.

the next month is going to fly by. mister man is traveling a ton, we have a wedding every other weekend through september, and i have to plan a few parties in that time, not to mention work getting really busy right about now, because of course it did. i’m really going to try to pay attention as much as i can, so 12 months doesn’t sneak up on me too bad. because if i let it, i could see having to drown my nostalgia in copious amounts of wine. or buttered popcorn.

little miss amelia. turns out you’re a pretty cool toddler, which we should have predicted based on how cool of an infant you were. did you even have a normal baby stage? it feels like you just jumped from infant to toddler when we made the mistake of blinking one day. the good news is, no matter how old you are, one year or 75, you’ll always be our baby. and we couldn’t be happier about it. we love you bubba.

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