A Pastel BabyParty Time

It’s no secret I love to throw a party, especially a party with a good THEME.

Now many will argue there’s no sense throwing a styled event for a first birthday because a one year old baby doesn’t know any better, but on the contrary I think it’s the most important year of all! Not only is your baby easily impressed with fun decor like shiny balloons, but they also have no input yet on what the theme has to be! If you’re the kind of person who truly delights on planning, setting up, and hosting parties, this is likely the only year of your child’s entire lifetime of parties where you get total creative control.

And you best believe I had a plan for this party since Summer was just a tiny embryo!

When Summer was a mysterious little egg developing inside me, I struggled to really connect with who might be in there. I came to the nickname Little Pearl because it was gender neutral (ish), and I felt like the mama oyster taking all of the hard bits of life on to protect the tiny pearl growing inside, safe and warm. Pretty soon after the nickname stuck, I had a eureka moment: my Little Pearl’s first birthday party just had to be a magical, iridescent under the sea theme! I had a little framed Rifle Paper Co. card that read “The World is Your Oyster” in my bedroom, and it seemed to sum up exactly what I was going for. Maybe it would be at a pool! Maybe we’d serve fresh oysters! Thinking about Summer’s first birthday party, and all the parties I’d get to throw her over the years, really helped me connect with my baby on the way (as odd as that sounds).

As most of my projects do, the vision started to take shape a few months ago on a Pinterest board. My initial plans were spiralling out of control, budget and stress wise – it quickly became apparent that serving oysters and renting a space was a bit overindulgent. I decided the more over the top I made the party, the less I was going to actually be in the moment, so I decided to invite fewer guests, serve sushi from my favourite cheap Toronto spot (shout out Sushi on Bloor haha!) and host at my home.

In the end I was so proud of how the party turned out – the kids were super excited, the adults seemed to actually have a good time, and most importantly I didn’t feel the usual party-planning-panic that sneaks up on me the morning of most important events.

Scroll down for all of the party details!

SETTING THE SCENE //

I wanted to focus on making the party full of things that Summer actually loves, so balloons were top of the list. I ordered these shell balloons, the seahorse, and the gold “one”, but otherwise I kept it simple and ordered a bunch of pearl white balloons with iridescent ribbon from a local party store (they filled the ones I ordered online for a fee too). I contemplated tying streamers to the balloons to create a seaweed-like effect, but in the end I kept it more simple.

I ordered a few packs of plates & napkins, straws, and a little mermaid piñata from Meri Meri, my very favourite party supply brand. The rest of the details around the house were sea-inspired treasures I’ve been collecting over the years as photo props / home decor, and when I gathered them all together I realized I had a lot more than expected! I highly recommend combing local thrift shops for figurines and special party decor additions – most of my treasures were picked up on thrifting trips for next to nothing.

Originally I was going to order fresh flower bouquets, but when Wildhood posted their dyed dried flowers (that happened to look just like coral) I knew I’d found the perfect cost-effective solution. The best part? They last forever, so they can be kept for parties and seasonal decor later on!

The big decor addition that really made the setup magical was our new custom Fuse Neon sign. Handcrafted in Toronto, these signs are LED, so much lighter weight and less breakable. Fuse also offers pre-made options and rentals in case you don’t want to commit to having a neon sign around forever, but I personally love the idea of investing in a custom neon for a special event and keeping it as a momento in your home. We couldn’t be happier with our “The World is Your Oyster” neon! Use code “randomactsofpastel15%” for 15% off on their site!

SNACKS //

As mentioned above I very quickly accepted serving freshly shucked oysters at a one year old’s birthday was a bit excessive, so I stuck to simpler, kid-friendly options like vegetarian sushi, edamame, and salt and vinegar chips. I wanted to do octopus veggie dogs too (inspired by this post) but in the end it slipped my mind. We also served homemade herbal iced tea for the kiddos, and local wine and beer for the adults (I firmly believe all children’s birthday parties should include alcohol for the grown ups haha)

SUGAR //

I enlisted the help of Lindsey Bakes for all things sugary, and she seriously blew it out of the water! She created mini pop tarts and a perfect little pink cake, all adorned with the most incredible shimmering seashell cookies in all shapes and sizes. She also made pre-wrapped cookies to give to guests as a yummy take home party favour – I think edible favours are always the way to go in a world where we all want to cut back on waste!

SPECIAL SURPRISES //

There’s not much that I can say with absolute confidence all one year olds actually like, but music is almost always a win with kids of all ages. I’ve loved The Beach Men (aka Toronto’s premier Beach Boys cover band) from the first moment I saw them, and I’ve been to every show they’ve had since, including when I was nine months pregnant. I took Summer to their park show this past summertime, and she loved it, so when a good friend offered to pay to bring them in for her birthday, I had only one word: GENIUS! Their performance was the highlight of the day – we all smiled so much our faces hurt, and the kids soaked up every second. The band even brought some little instruments along so the kids could participate. If I have any say in baby birthday trends, I’m calling it: live bands are the next big thing!

Whosits and Whatsits Galore //

For invitations, we kept it eco-friendly and created a card on Evite.com. I was able to find a discount code (just by googling) that worked, so in the end we got the invitations for free, and I love how they turned out with a bit of simple customization. We also added a donate option so guests could help us protect the sea for generations to come instead of bringing physical gifts.

Outfit wise, my look was mostly old pieces thrown together (turns out wearing sweaters over dresses gives you a whole new selection of skirts!) but my pearl headband was a new addition (similar version on sale here). My biggest mom styling tip for any special occasion is lash extensions! They make a huge dent in the time it takes to get ready, so even if you get carried away with balloon placement or your baby has a meltdown before you can get any makeup on, you can feel confident you’ll look your best in photos. I even had mine done before my birth! I always go to N15 and ask for a classic cat eye set – if you book with code “N15PASTEL25” before the end of February you’ll get 25% off your first appointment!

Summer’s velvet jumpsuit is Moon Paris via Poppy’s Collection, with a crown from Oeuf NYC and golden shoes from our very favourite Canadian baby shoe brand, Minimoc!

And how could I forget our wonderful photographer? I’ve known Scarlet O’Niell for years and her work never ceases to blow me away. It might seem excessive to hire a photographer for a first birthday party, but I find if I don’t have a pro at special events I end up so busy that I forget to take any pictures (for example, I didn’t get a single shot of Summer and I together on her first Christmas). Thank you Scarlet for all your wonderful photos from Summer’s big day, and for taking on the role of unofficial official family photographer – we love you so much!

That’s just about everything I can think of! Scroll down to shop the post below, and feel free to ask about anything I’ve missed in the comments! Next up – a post about my single motherhood expectations vs. reality…


A Pastel BabyRandom

This post is sponsored by AVEENO® Canada. All opinions are my own!

Despite her namesake, Summer was born in the dead of Canadian winter – in fact, her birth seemed to set off a whole series of snowstorms!

I’m a summer baby myself, and since I’m originally from Vancouver I never really dealt with below freezing temperatures as a kid, even in January. When Summer arrived I was totally unprepared for how much careful bundling would be involved in just getting to the car for a grocery trip. There was so much more to think about when it came to keeping her healthy and safe – including taking care of her skin!

Baby skin is just like any of their other tiny organs: always growing and still developing. They’re not used to all of the toxins and pollutants we experience daily in the outside-the-womb world, which means they’re prone to all sorts of skin issues in their first few years. Add in the extreme cold temperatures and the “hard” water here in Ontario – newborn skin doesn’t stand a chance!

Summer had pretty constant skin issues right from the get go – dryness, cradle cap, and a couple weeks of red swollen baby acne that looked so painful I took her to the pediatrician in a panic. He assured me everything she was going through was normal but there were a few small things that could help. His main recommendation: slather her in lotion from head to toe!

Summer’s skin doesn’t seem to like much, even simple natural solutions like coconut oil, so we turned to Aveeno baby products. Both their Aveeno Baby Daily Care and Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy collections are #1 Pediatrician recommended, and contain ingredients like oats that are perfect for sensitive newborn skin. All of their products are also hypoallergenic, phthalate and paraben-free, and since they’re stocked at most drugstores they’re easy to pickup in a pinch.

Now that winter has passed and the weather has warmed up, Summer’s skin has improved drastically, but we still enjoy the ritual of nightly bath time (more like splash time these days!) and a relaxing lotion massage before bed. The sun has also introduced a whole new set of considerations, and we never leave the house without our Aveeno Baby Sunscreen and Baby Sensitive Skin Face Sun Stick!

A Pastel Baby

Dressing a baby is one of those super cute fun things that every parent I know looks forward to, but once you’re in the thick of it there’s a lot more complexity than one would expect! Fit, comfort, laundering and ease of changing diapers are all important factors to consider, and a lot of these specifications are impossible to plan for until you actually meet your own unique baby.

Summer was born very small and dainty, but also tall, which means one day everything was HUGE on her and the next day all of her footed onesies were way too tight lengthwise. So many parents had advised me not to waste money on newborn sizes, especially for shoes, but at 6 months she’s STILL wearing size one shoes, and had I not picked up a couple of newborn onesies in those early days she would have been naked for months because of her size!

I also didn’t find out my baby’s gender before she was born, and it was such a struggle to find cute, colourful clothing that didn’t have ruffles and bows all over it to mark that it was specifically “for girls”. The “mommy and me” matching category was particularly dire. I just wanted mom and baby pink coverall-style onesies without the frills, is that so much to ask for?! I ended up with a lot more grey than I had hoped, and now that I know the options better I am confident I can put together a perfectly pastel, gender neutral wardrobe if there another baby in my future!

It’s taken me awhile to figure out our very favourite brands (with all of the above mentioned factors considered), but now that we have a long list I wanted to share our #pastelpicks.

And now on with the reason we’re all here: many adorable photos of Summer in tiny little outfits.

 

Jamie Kay //

This New Zealand brand is so beautifully crafted, and though it’s a splurge the quality makes it so worth it. I ordered a whole bunch of the simple ribbed Organic Cotton Bodysuits, tights, and knee socks, all of which are surprisingly hard to track down in teeny sizes but so necessary for a winter baby. We also loved the organic Cotton Leggings in Bloom & Golden. Though this brand might seem super “girl heavy”, they actually have a ton of great basics and neutral pieces.

Hugo Loves Tiki //

Fun, colourful, AND they make mommy and me items that work for both genders (aka not just dresses!) Summer and I are all about our Mommy & Me Pink Dog Sweatshirts. No one does cool kid prints quite like this brand.

Kyte Baby //

This brand was the only one that actually fit Summer right from birth because it’s cut less wide, but the material is super stretchy. If you have a tall baby, this is the brand for you! Plus the colours are amazing, and the bamboo fabric is unbelievably soft. They wash well, wear well.. I can’t say enough good things! We especially love their Colourful Cotton Sleepers.

The Bonnie Mob //

We LOVE The Bonnie Mob SO much. Hailing from the UK, this sustainably crafted heirloom children’s brand is all about sunshine, rainbows, and imagination. Their motto is “Buy once. Buy well. Pass it on.” and we couldn’t agree more. The Organic Cotton Paw Playsuit was one of our very favourite wintertime pieces.

CANADIAN FAVES //

Agaboshi // The cutest little Korean baby store right here in Toronto, this shop offers minimalist oversized basics in soft shades and almost everything is gender neutral.

Mini Mioche // This brand is like a cuter American apparel for babies – the BEST basics, and they actually carry teeny tiny sizes for new babies. Summer lived in their grandpa cardigans the first few months!

Little and Lively // A children’s line hailing from Abbotsford, BC, Little and Lively also makes coordinating adult clothing so you can twin with your mini! 

Mini Moc // Also a BC brand, Summer has worn Mini Moc’s shoes constantly since she was born and they’re the only brand that seems to stay on her tiny toesies! 

Ulla & Viggo // This Winnipeg-based children’s shoe company is so popular I had to wait by my computer multiple times to order Summer her beloved pom pom shoes. These handmade beauties are so special! 

OLE Design // Handcrafted, sustainable, AND their adorable fruit prints are FRUIT SCENTED! I can’t say enough good things about this bright Canadian baby brand.

Pehr // I only recently discovered this beautiful nursery brand made baby clothing, and I’m so glad I did! Designed in Canada with hand-painted prints and natural fabrics, this Summer has been in their sun hat all summer long. 

Angel Dear // When it comes to watercolour prints, Angel Dear simply can’t be beat, especially considering the ultra-soft muslin fabric they use for everything! 

Quincy MaeRylee + Cru // I know it’s predictable, but Kelli Murray’s children’s clothing really is so beautiful and well made. Not an everyday shopping destination but worth the splurge every once and awhile. I also feel this way about Oeuf NYC and Mini Rodini.

A Pastel BabySips, Sweets & Snacks

First off, happy World Breastfeeding Week everyone!

I have so many mixed feelings about breastfeeding, something I did not expect when expecting. My mom had a horrible time trying with me and my sister, a painful anxiety-filled experience that left her riddled with guilt, disappointment, and in the end, no milk. Her milk supply never even came in, and my sister and I were on formula pretty much from day one. I’m a lot like my mom in so many ways, so I suppose I internalized her story and assumed mine would be similar. My entire pregnancy whenever someone asked if I planned to breastfeed I’d answer “if I’m lucky!” or “I hope so!”

When I ended up with a c-section a week before my baby’s due date I was so scared my breastfeeding fate was sealed. After all, I hadn’t had leaking boobs while pregnant like some of my friends had reported, and my boobs had always been so small – maybe they just weren’t built to make milk. Those first few colostrum-only days waiting for my milk to come in were absolute torture. It’s so scary to watch your baby lose those few pounds of birth weight (even if everyone assures you it’s normal!)

Those early days I was LOADING up on all things lactation – I drank Mother’s Milk Tea constantly (a lot of people hate the taste, but if you like licorice like I do it’s delicious!) with a side of Booby Boons cookies, and smoothies with a healthy scoop of Majka’s protein powder. I even enjoyed a beer or two, though the jury is still out on that one (TBH, I just love beer.)

On the second day home Johanna made me homemade Salted Caramel Oat Mylk after reading oats are a great lactation stimulant, and I drank the whole massive jar as quickly as I could. Now there is no science here and I’m not a medical/lactation expert by any means, but the very next day, sure enough…

MY MILK CAME IN!

Theoretically I had yearned for this moment so badly, but HOLY MOLY there are no words for this experience and how weird/painful/alien it felt when it happened. My boobs were seriously like big, veiny, grotesque basketballs and I was SO endlessly leaky and sore. I actually ended up having to pump a bit every time I fed Summer because my boobs were so full and rock hard she couldn’t get her tiny mouth to latch onto them haha! And then there was the emotional side: I had been on such a high since Summer’s birth, but when the milk came I was an absolute mess, with unexpected bouts of crying hysterically set off by just about anything. Oh and my nipples… I don’t even want to talk about the state of my nipples those days, but needless to say I could barely put on a shirt, never mind a bra.

In the end it only took 3 days for my milk to come in, which is pretty good for an early c-section with no labour, and in part I thank all of the lactation boosting products (and the oat mylk, made with love) that I loaded up on!

Now that I’m over six months in, things have mostly evened out in the boob department. I’m no longer a total emotional wreck, but it definitely took me awhile to get past the unexpected rush of anxiety I felt every time Summer latched on for a feed. I also now fully understand that people mean when they say breastfeeding leaves you feeling “touched out”, and I’m sort of glad I don’t have a partner relying on me for intimacy right now because I have never ever experienced so little sexual desire (TMI?) When there are tiny hands on me all day, every day, I don’t really want anyone else getting handsy with my body!

I definitely feel torn at times, so much more than I had anticipated; on one hand I’m so grateful for this experience, for how much milk I make and how easy it has been to feed my daughter using just the magic of my body. Milk making is seriously a superpower, but it isn’t without its downfalls. On the other hand I miss having my autonomy and being able to call my body my own, and honestly breastfeeding takes SO much more time and energy than I ever could have guessed. It’s like a full time job in itself! I’m trying to appreciate this moment without wishing it away, to savour the connection I have with my daughter and the wonder of my body… but I won’t lie, I also look forward to wearing what I want (hello high necks and dresses) and being free to eat and drink (and maybe even smoke? I’ve missed out on this whole cannabis renaissance so far!) whatever without stressing about how it will effect my baby.

Supply-wise I’m still overproducing and constantly leaking, but I’ve made peace with simply being a milky mess (often leading to very hilarious see-through nipple incidents in my all-pastel outfits). Breasts and nipples are so far from a sexual object to me at this point, and if men can walk around all sweaty and hairy with their nipples out all summer long, you best believe I’m not shy about showing mine!

Scroll down for more //

Some of my breast friends in the boob and baby feeding department //

Majka // pretty much everything they make is golden. Their plant-based protein powder is the best formulation I’ve ever seen (it covers absolutely everything) and their lactation bites are delicious!

Booby Boons cookies // I’ll never turn down an excuse to eat more cookies!

Elvie Breast Pump // Being hands and chord free while pumping was super high on my priority list because I am TERRIBLE at sitting still, and I’m so thankful Elvie launched their pump just in time for me to become a mom and need one! This pump sits right in your bra and works while you get other work done.

Playtex Nurser with Drop in Liner // I’ve mentioned this before, but so far these are the only bottles Summer will take (apparently I was the exact same 28 years ago!)

Beaba Bottle Warmer // do your baby’s care person (dad, grandma, friend, nanny, whatever) a favour and get this handy appliance. It heats up milk SO quick, so your baby doesn’t have to wait 20 minutes for water to boil etc. while having a hangry meltdown

Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads // When my nipples were so chapped, scabbed and bleeding I couldn’t handle wearing even a soft tee-shirt without wincing in pain, and these were the only thing I found that gave me some relief! They’re super soft and they work! The only downside – MORE laundry.

Things I didn’t use // Milkies Milk Saver (I was never organized enough to get it to my boob in time to catch the let down), Proper nursing bra (I don’t mind my full boob hanging out, and I can’t be bothered with the clips etc. I spent my entire pregnancy and postpartum in Knix bras), over the counter nipple creams (the only thing that got me through was an prescription cream my midwives ordered for me – it was seriously magic and everyone should ask for it!)

Scroll down for the our Lactation Boosting Oat Mylk (two ways) recipe below!

Hurom Slow Juicer Salted Caramel Oat Mylk //
1 1/2 cups organic large rolled oats
3 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cacao powder
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

*To make the Golden Mylk we made the oat mylk plain following the recipe below, and then added Majka’s Vanilla Chai Lactation Booster (SO good in everything!)

Soak oats in 3 cups cold water for 30 mins to soften them, drain and rinse the oats.

Pour the oats and 3 cups cold water to the Slow Juicer, or a high powered blender with the vanilla extract.

Add cocoa powder, coconut sugar and sea salt and blend on high for 3 minutes.

If you’re using a slow juicer, simply turn it on! The mylk will not need to be strained.

If you used a blender, pour the mixture over cheesecloth or nut milk bag into a bowl. You can keep the oat pulp for baking!

Stores in fridge for 3-5 days.

A Pastel Baby

I started off planning to do monthly updates with all of our favourite things, milestones and more, a sort of digital baby book filled with cute candid photos and memories, but here we are at 6 months and all of those drafts never quite made it into existence. I kept thinking to myself “well at least I have so much time to get my act together for a big six month update”, and well, all the sudden, here we are.

My “monthly update” plan may not have come to fruition, but I still wanted to honour this big day with an overall update about life with baby, and some of our most-used items month-by-month (plus a couple of things I never actually used!)

It’s hard to put these precious, challenging, beautiful past six months into words. I can so clearly remember announcing my pregnancy around this time last year and daydreaming how my winter baby and I would spend our first summer together, and now I’ve blinked and we’re almost halfway through these golden dipped warm days. I get asked so often if motherhood is everything I thought it would be when I started out on this crazy adventure and honestly, it’s everything I ever wanted and so much more. Summer is a truly unicorn baby, and has been nothing but a delight since day one – she’s so chill and calm, her glittering energy is infectious to everyone she meets. Seriously, I don’t know that I’ve ever met a baby that’s just so totally… happy. She sleeps well, eats well, has yet to have been sick (knock on wood), and smiles LITERALLY nonstop. There isn’t a second that passes where I don’t thank my lucky stars that she’s mine.

In a lot of ways motherhood has been much easier than I expected, because I truly prepared myself for the worst. Being Summer’s mom comes super naturally to me, and it’s almost like all of the anxious, extra energy that was making me bored/destructive/depressed in my early years has finally found an outlet in caring for her. I had all of this love and nurturing in me for so long and nowhere to put it!

That said these past six months definitely haven’t been a cake walk – my motherhood challenges have taken different shapes that I had never really anticipated. While I have never felt any anxiety about taking care of Summer, I’ve definitely struggled with taking care of me.

For all of the planning I did to make my dream come true, I definitely overlooked how hard it would be to work full time AND take care of a baby on my own. I assumed because I work from home, I’d have plenty of time to work while being around for my baby. Unfortunately between breastfeeding, nap schedules and playtime, there’s a SHOCKINGLY small amount of time left in a day, and when that rare time does appear, all I want to do is glaze over with a fun TV show or nap myself. There is SO LITTLE LEFT TO GIVE. The weirdest part? When you do collapse into bed, you’re not even sure what it was you were doing all of those hours. Not having a second income to rely on so I could take some time to just be Summer’s mom has really been the biggest hurdle for me as a single parent, single income household. If I could do things over again I’d definitely try to find a way to give myself a proper mat leave.

I’ve also experienced a very unexpected identity crisis. I have always been so 100% confident and sure of myself, but having a baby and handing my life over to this tiny human in so many ways shook me to my very foundation. It’s hard to keep tabs on who you are (other than “mom”) when you’re thinking about someone else 24/7, with absolutely no time to workout, or get dressed up and go out with friends… even just sit and read a book without one eye on a bassinet across the room. Being a mother is truly all-consuming and it has a way of making you second guess your priorities, your values, and what kind of human you really want to be. As I mentioned on Instagram I’m trying to do a thing or two just for me, without Summer, every week, even if it’s just a 45 minute workout while a friend strolls her around the block. Taking these little moments for myself has really helped me feel like a stronger, better mama for her, and hopefully set the example that though it’s important to take care of others, it’s also important to practice self care too! I’m still learning, but aren’t we all?

Scroll down for a few of our favourite things, month by month!

Month 1 //

Must haves: Kyte Baby Sleepers,Askr Embla Pod, Owlet cam and smart sock

Month 2 //

Must haves: BIBS PacifierHappiest Baby SNOOSolly Baby Wrap

Month 3 //

Must haves: Bugaboo Fox Stroller, Nested Bean Baby Zen Sleep Sack , Sakura Bloom Scout Carrier

Month 4 //

Must haves: Playtex Nurser bottles with collapsible liners, Skip Hop Play Centre, Waterbaby Neck Floatie

Month 5 //

Must haves: Soundbub White Noise Machine, Lou Lou lollipop pacifier clips, Naturebond fruit feeder

Month 6 //

Must haves: Baeba Baby Cook, Stokke High Chair with baby seat, Baeba Silicone Feeding Set

Things we still haven’t used: Frida Baby Snotsucker (she hasn’t been sick yet!), ring sling (I can’t figure out how to use these and not feel like she’s falling out), car seat cover (I want to see her!), fancy bottles (she has no interest in anything other than the Playtex ones listed above)