Category Archives: birthday

Introducing Emma Irene

Hey guys! New Mom here. That still feels weird to write but it provides me with a new excuse for my delay in posting to the blog so I’m going to run with it.

Cool?

If you’ve been following along on social media, you’d be crazy not to know that Matt and I were greeted with an early Christmas present last month in the form of 6 pounds 5 ounces of sugar and spice and 20 inches of holy crap now we have a lot of pink clothing.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene
Definitely not a boy despite nearly every stranger and friend’s prediction, Emma Irene Zalewski joined us at 1:20 a.m. on Christmas Eve and our world has been brighter ever since.

Emma Irene, newborn, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl

Leave it to me to bring you on a roller coaster of a journey of life and death in just two blog posts, but if you’ve followed our story for any amount of time you’d know that timing isn’t really our thing so it’s no surprise that these two major familial changes happened just a few weeks from one another.

If I told you we were a few weeks away from buying a new house too would you believe me?

It’s tradition in our family to tell your birthday story each year somewhere between when the plates are cleared from dinner and the cake is served. You may think this sounds redundant and in some cases it might be, but in our family, each year provides a new opportunity for relatives to share their perspectives from the day and bicker over ‘alternative facts.’ And if you play your cards right, each year provides you the opportunity to fine tune your birth story for oversharing with friends and family in the future.

I’ve also heard its tradition in the blogosphere to share a child’s birth story as a token post shortly following their birth.

So in an effort to make sure Emma is equipped from the get-go on both fronts, I thought I’d share a few details from the day she decided she’d like to share a birthday weekend with Jesus.

#blessed.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

The Friday before Christmas, Matt and I drove up to Springfield to celebrate the holiday with the Murphy/Bosch side. My mom was hosting her side of the family on Saturday and if all went well, we could stay and celebrate Christmas Eve with my family the next day. If we’re being technical, Springfield was just outside of the recommended distance for a 37 week pregnant lady but I was feeling good and had no indications that she would arrive early. In fact, I was fairly certain that she would be late, likely 8lbs and a boy so that just goes to show how good I am at this kind of thing.

Disclaimer: I’d like to clarify that my gut is typically right on nearly everything except apparently babies.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

I woke up around 4:30 Saturday morning with what I thought was just a reaction to the rich food we had the night before. (Shout out American Harvest for your labor-inducing seasonal handmade short rib ravioli). At this stage in the game the wake up time was not unusual nor was the random discomfort, although I hadn’t had any contractions previously. It wasn’t until the 30 minute mark of consistent every 5 minute cramping that I determined they might be contractions so I did what any wife might do, I let my husband continue to sleep and downloaded a contraction timing app on my phone and laid there and tracked them for the next hour, absolutely sure with each one they would eventually stop and Christmas could go on and we wouldn’t have to drive back to St. Louis and we’d have two more weeks to finish work projects and we’d get the tax break next year and my child would never come early unless it’s just like his or her father so it’s for sure a boy if this is for real and so on.

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After about an hour of consistent every 5 minute contractions I finally woke Matt up and brought him up to speed. I would tell you we rushed out of the house to get back home but once again convinced labor would either 1) stop or 2) take a really long time so instead we had breakfast, called the doctor, helped my mom set up for the party and then finally came to terms with the fact the contractions weren’t stopping and packed up to head back mid morning.

For the sake of time, I’ll fast-forward through the labor portion of the day which consisted of little more than a drive back from Springfield, a car seat installation, some present wrapping and hospital bag packing with a side of 7-minute apart contractions before we decided to head to the hospital around 5:30 pm. once again convinced they would tell us to go back home and come back another time.

Here’s a tip for all you winter Moms-to-be. Go into labor on Christmas Eve Eve and you practically get the entire labor and delivery floor to yourself.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

I don’t know why I was expecting more noise and urgency when we arrived at the hospital, but I was. Not so much for me but for another mom-to-be who I pictured rushing past me in a wheelchair while yelling at her husband just like the movies.

Instead we arrived on an eerily quiet labor and delivery floor to ‘susan’ who pressed the copy button slower than that frog lady from sing.

In the assessment room we found out 1) my OB just so happened to be the on call for the holiday weekend so he would come in and say hello and then 2) how loudly he could laugh when I asked if we were going back home after he checked me.

Instead he told us we’d likely have a baby somewhere between midnight and 3 am on Christmas Eve because we were already halfway there.

Um. Say what?

I would tell you the next few hours were spent killing time until I progressed enough to push but let’s revisit the fact this child clearly has her father’s sense of punctuality so we had just enough time to say hello and thanks for leaving your Christmas parties to come sit in a hospital waiting room for us to both sides of family before (as predicted) Emma Irene Zalewski arrived at 1:20 a.m. the morning of Christmas Eve.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma ireneEmma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma ireneEmma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Key accomplishments in her first few minutes of life:

1. A solid set of locks. Perhaps our first and only indication that she was a she was our OB noting that her hair was at least an inch long just prior to her arrival. #hairgoals

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

2. It’s a…girl! I had a feeling after point number one was established late in the delivery but we were both shocked and delighted at the surprise.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

3. An escape attempt by Emma when the nurses tried to weigh her. All staff and parents quickly learned that this girl could not only roll over to her side from birth but she had the potential of pulling herself out of an incubator if not monitored closely.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

4. Future middle hitter-sized hands and center midfielder-worthy feet, much to the joy of her sports-enthusiast parents.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma ireneEmma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

5. A strong will and a surprisingly cute face. Disclaimer: I never doubted Matt and I would have cute kids but the baby portion of the journey I was a little doubtful on. Fortunately God gave her a deflated version of my cheeks and Matt’s hairline so she’s off to a good start.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

It’s hard to believe we’ve had this sweet girl in our world for 4 weeks now. Provided I haven’t already overwhelmed all of you with Emma photo overload, we’re looking forward to sharing monthly updates with you as we continue on our new journey as a family of three.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

We can’t thank everyone enough for the kind words, meals, flowers, gifts and did I mention pink clothes? It sure is easier bringing a new life into this crazy world knowing she’s immediately surrounded by so much love and support.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

With love, Sarah, Matt and Emma Irene.

Confessions of a lonely extrovert

Editor’s note: I started writing this post two weeks ago when Matt was still in France. Then I picked it up and finished it a week ago after my family left town except I never hit publish. Please forgive me for the segmented nature of the following excerpts. Just further proof of my struggle as a halfway blogger.

They say introverts relish in quiet time alone. That spending too much time in a loud setting with lots of activity and people can cause them to shut down in an effort to conserve energy. That downtime is not a waste of time but rather necessary and satisfying.

I am not an introvert.

So you can imagine how an extremely extroverted person deals with their spouse being away on a work trip for 12 days?

  • First and foremost, she has a lot of conversations with her dog.
  • She also shops because well, shopping, but also the majority of retail workers are also extraverts and she finds comfort in random musings with strangers.
  • She spends equal amounts of time at the gym and fresh kitchen.
  • She bakes.

Yes, you read that correctly. She bakes. She finally throws some flour and sugar in a bowl a bakes a flippin’ cake. Remember when this blog actually had photos of cakes in regular rotation?

layer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakeMuch to the delight of both my mother and mother-in-law, I did not spend Easter alone. Which is good, because it would have been incredibly awkward to eat this entire cake by myself while binge-watching Fuller House* on Netflix. Instead, I took it over to my co-worker’s house in celebration of both Jesus and she and her husband’s birthdays that weekend. The spouses birthdays and Jesus houdini-ing himself out of the tomb of course.

I appreciate the concern of my mother(s). After all, I do mention nearly every month that [insert holiday] is my favorite holiday so I can understand their sympathy calls and flight searches at the thought of me spending one alone. Fortunately, both seemed happy to hear that I was bribing my way into someone else’s home with four layers of sugary sunshine and the return of Matt and a visit from my sister just a few days later.

*Let’s discuss the awkwardness that is Fuller House another time

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Easter Layer Cake 

  • 1 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened (can substitute 1/2 C vegetable shortening if you want)
  • 3 C sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 C flour (sifted)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 C whole milk
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Ideally this is the time to grease and flour all four of your cake pans. Oh you don’t have four cake pans? Me neither. I somehow only have three so grease and flour what you have and set aside.

In a stand mixer, whip butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar 1 cupat a time. Add eggs one at a time until each is combined.

In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.

In a liquid measure, combine milk, buttermilk and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients into wet one cup at a time, alternatingbetween milk mixture and flour. Try not to overmix.

Place four medium bowls out on your counter. Divide batter into each bowl evenly. For me it was just under 2 cups of batter per bowl. I like to use gel food coloring as I find it’s a little more accurate. For this version, I just used my pastel set of gel colors and added them separately to each 2 cup bowl.

Once your layers are colored, pour the first two into your two baking pans andbake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. These layers are thin so they will cook relatively quick.

Remove from oven and let cool on rack for 5-10 minutes. Add a layer of parchment or wax paper to your rack before you flip them out of the pan to make turning easier for you when they are cool.

layer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakeButtercream Icing

Once your second batch is out of the oven and cooling you can start on your buttercream icing. This stuff is indulgent so I usually keep it pretty thin. That being said both times I’ve made this cake I’ve had to make extra buttercream icing to get it covered so go ahead and make a bunch.

Buttercream Icing

  • 3-4 C powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 TBL whipping cream

Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Cream butter in a stand mixer and add powdered sugar slowly so as not to go all King James on your kitchen. Add vanilla and cream and whip it until peaks form. Refrigerate it until you are ready to ice the cake.

Once your layers are cool, wrap each of them in plastic wrap and freeze them for a few minutes. this will make the icing process much easier. Do a rough ice and then finish it off with, you guess it, more buttercream.

Top it with a little toasted coconut and Cadbury mini eggs and your ready to go! layer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakelayer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakelayer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cake

 

on missing birthdays

I don’t hate much. In fact, I’m one of those optimists that manages to see the teeny tiny glimmers of hope in generally pretty awful people even when I’m trying not to. Current exceptions being Donald Trump and fire ants but let’s get into that once both pests are no longer affecting us, shall we?

But if I had to place ‘hate’ on one thing in my life, it would be missing birthdays. A learned behavior I’m sure, I have a really tough time not physically being there for loved one’s birthdays. OK, anyone’s birthday really. I was looking at the calendar and realized that Finn may spend his 4th birthday with a dog sitter this coming July and actually felt a pang of guilt 4 months ahead of the date for goodness sake.

Birthdays are big in my family. We’ve chatted about this in previous posts (examples here and here), specifically referring to my physiological need to be present at any and all family birthdays, something I’m trying to adapt to living a few states away now. But as each day approaches, I can’t help but feel a little FOMO (fear of missing out non-millennial readers) for “missing” another birthday.

So on this sunny March 12th spring (ok, high of 82 spring) morning, my body may be out avoiding the fire ants in the garden and possibly hitting the pool this afternoon, but my heart is back in Illinois celebrating my mom’s 65th birthday.

And yes, despite the fact that stranger’s assume she’s also my dad’s daughter sometimes, she’s 65 today!

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And based on that last photo, I’m starting to think she may care that Matt’s not there a little more than me. Geesh!

So while I can’t be there to enjoy the delicious looking birthday/St. Patrick’s day themed cake that Jake picked out for mom last night, thanks to technology I was able to sing along and watch her blow out the candles from afar.

I’m blessed to have a mom that squeals with as much excitement for scone and a cup of coffee as she does for a new sweater and cookbook, the former being what you can look forward to the next time you visit.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Here’s a photo of a cake from three years ago. We love you!

st. patricks day layer cake, ombre layer cake, white birthday cake, buttercream icing, colored layer cake, st. patrick's day, holiday, baking,

 

Wedding Snapshots: The Groom

You know who doesn’t get enough fuss at a wedding?

The Groom.

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And why not? Last time I checked, they were just as much a part of the 1+1+1=1 equation as the bride. (For those of you who with an engineering background, the extra one is representative of God) And yet, here they stand on the wedding day, looking all relaxed and sipping bourbon after their long morning workout. Meanwhile, when their bride attempted to go for a run, she got 10 minutes out and realized she didn’t in fact have time for it and spent the rest of the morning just trying to stop sweating long enough for the makeup artist to finish up thus killing any chance at an endorphin release for the next 12 hours.

wedding, groomsmen, groom, navy blue suit, springfield illinois wedding, spring wedding, downtown springfield, gray suits,

But this is about the groom, remember? And what a handsome groom he was. And today, some 65 days since we made our vows to love one another as long as we both shall live, we celebrate the birthday that puts him two years closer to the finish line than I am.

groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding

 

Kidding.

I think we all know he’s far too healthy and stubborn to go before I do.

groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding

 

So here’s a montage of my handsome groom in celebration of his 33rd birthday. A post he’ll 80 percent scoff at, and 20% secretly love.

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Birthday lessons

July is a huge birthday month in our family. Beginning early in the month, we celebrate 10 human birthdays and one very large dog’s. And the following month doesn’t slow down much either. There must have been something in the water from the years 1925 to 2006.

The month kicks off with the birthday celebration of my oldest nephew Owen and ramps up a few days later as we mark the 90th birthday of my grandfather, Ed. Our recent wedding travels limit us from being there in person to celebrate this year but from 9 to 90, there are plenty of lessons these two have taught me over the years. Things like:

The meaning behind the phrase, “I remember the day you were born.”

owen birthday, birthday lessons, nephew

Your choice in beer should align with that of your favorite sports team, whichever relationship develops first.

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And when it comes to extracurriculars, choose something you can play as you grow older.

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Blondes really do have more fun.

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You can dance if you want to.

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And more than anything, remember, family is everything.

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Happy Birthday to all of my favorite guys this month!

 

 

 

Super Spring Break

If you couldn’t tell from my overgramming last week, my nephews (and my sister) came to visit us to celebrate their spring break. Unfortunately I spent most of the week at work, but I’m grateful for the afternoons and evenings I spent brushing up on my toilet humor, identifying fire ant hills and avoiding getting jinxed.

Days were spent punching water spouts at the splash park and evenings cheating at mini golf. We even managed a second attempt at the beach since the first time was ‘too boring.’

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On Thursday, we celebrated Jake’s 5th birthday the only way Jake prefers to celebrate, with superhero masks and store-bought cookie cake.

IMG_4663IMG_4664IMG_4669IMG_4670IMG_4671Friday we had a picnic at the beach and then spent the afternoon drop-kicking waves to cap off the trip. And is it just me or did we do so right next to a Nana lookalike? IMG_9943

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We miss them already but we’re soaking up the quiet and resting up the busy months ahead.

30!

I’m thirty. 30 years old!

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Thirty! I did it. I finally passed the last milestone birthday that all of my friends passed nearly a year before me! Being the youngest of the group, I was used to being last in line for all age-related events. Last to drive at 16, last to do whatever a non-smoker is allowed to do at 18 and the last to legally drink at 21. Now don’t feel too bad for me. Looking back, I can see now that it actually worked out in my favor. I had cool friends to drive me to and from school, to book rental cars when we went on trips and to illustrate which liquor you should not make your best friend on your 21st birthday. Tequila maybe. Whiskey no way. I remember thinking that when they all turned thirty, I would still be 29. And how cool that would be to still be 29 when all your friends were old and thirty. turning 30, birthday, friends Well I realized about a year ago that it’s neither cool nor old. Thirty is not the old age I (and probably every other 24 year old who is reading this) thinks it is. There’s a shift that happens about the age of 26 or 27 where you suddenly realize that you are rapidly approaching the thirty year-old you thought was so old just a few years ago. I am now that thirty year-old that kids just out of college scoff at. Only I don’t feel very different than them. Minus pretty much all of these things. I stayed up until 2 a.m. this weekend. Only it was because my mom and sister’s flight got delayed, not because we wanted to hit up the late-night bar and watch the sun come up. I cannot tell you the last time I willingly stayed up that late. And I’m ok with that. As if last weekend’s surprise party wasn’t enough, my mom and sister came down to visit me in Florida this weekend to celebrate the official birthday. You don’t realize how loved you are until you live really far away and people go out of their way to make you feel special on your birthday. turning 30, birthday, friends   On Saturday, we headed down to St. Armands and Lido Beach. Lido Beach, St Armands, Florida, family, birthday   And on Sunday we spent most of the day at Siesta Key, followed by a sunset dinner along the beach on Anna Marie Island. beach, florida, family, birthday, swiss mountain dog, sunset, anna marie island, siesta key beach, florida, family, birthday, swiss mountain dog, sunset, anna marie island, siesta key   It was so nice to spend some quality time with just my mom and sister. If the next two-thirds of my life look anything like theirs, I can’t wait to get there. Thank you again for all the well-wishes over the weekend. I’m excited for the year ahead.