Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bella's First Birthday Party!

I had plans for a great outdoors birthday party in a pavilion at a great local park surrounded by huge get the picture. We were going to have a dinner in the evening - leaves are changing - lights hung all over the pavilion - dinner by sunset - perfect weather - lots of great friends and family - a very happy birthday baby...but, the big day had COLD weather (action taken by the parents of the birthday girl - Move the party indoors to our house and subsequently make sure everyone was crammed, ahem, cozy), no leaves, no hanging lights, no dinner with the sunset in the background, and no happy birthday girl! Bella cried the ENTIRE time - poor thing. There were lots of faces and she had missed her afternoon nap (I know you other moms out there just said "oh no" to that fact.) The one thing that remained constant was the presence of great friends and family in celebration of our sweet one-year-old Bella! And, celebrate we still did!

We decided to do a Read-Around-The-World theme. I originally wanted to decorate each picnic table with a different country theme...but, I combined them all in one table (aka. our dining table!). So, we had the world in one place which was fun. I found some great children's book to decorate with from various parts of the world. We also had a global menu of Tunisian chicken and couscous, Mediterranean spinach dip, Indian spiced tea, "Scottish" oat bread, Houston chocolate chip cookies (Grammy's special recipe), Dutch double chocolate cookies, and Bella's birthday cake decorated like a world (well, kindof. I did my best. Maybe it's Pangaea...)Either way, Bella was not having any of it! What you can't see is her screaming and what you can't hear is everyone singing happy birthday.A fun fact about the table is there were numerous items given to us or Bella from around the world. Camels, elephants, giraffes, bowls from Rwanda, Tunisia, Kenya, Ethiopia!

We asked people to donate to the Room to Read organization instead of giving gifts to Bella. I first read the book about that organization and loved what they were doing, particularly with supporting underprivileged girls around the world obtain an education. So, through the gifts of everyone we were able to support one girl for a year and a half through school!!!! So neat! And, thanks everyone from the Smith Family!
I found this great book I asked everyone to sign which teaches you how to say "hi" from various countries around the world. This page is teaching "hi" in Swahili!

Where's the birthday girl? Not here! She's in her room being rocked/bounced/sung-to/rocked/bounced/cooed/talked-to/bounced by her mom, dad, aunt, grandmothers...

Some of our great friends who came - Kristen, Sarah, Suzanne, Jodie, Aunt Alli, Mike, Louis, Alan, Joell, Holly
Friends from the Onion in Waco!!
My grandmother was also able to come. Thanks to my aunt and uncle and mom and dad!! Isn't she beautiful!
Sweet Frances from our Milano church. She bought Bella a book that sings "Jesus loves me"...I may or may not have cried nearly every time I sing this with Bella!
Precious AD and Ruth Lagrone from the Milano church! They made Bella a cute castle birdhouse ("Since she's a princess" - Ruth) and gave her a $2 bill, which is a tradition for their family. We are glad to be a part of that!
We ended up having a great time with our great friends and family. And, guess who perked up after everyone except the family left! You guessed it...the birthday girl! Little stinker!
"Where did everybody go? And, why is mom playing peek-a-boo?"
"Phew, hard night...I'm still cute in my pre-bath glory though! Mommy said she had a good time too after she got over being disappointed. I think I flashed my sweet grin and she was ok! Glad I could help..."
Mom - "What about the world cake now?" Bella - "Nope, i'm laughing at Brad, Allison and Granddad"
The next day we had another party with just the family...To be continued....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rosalynn Carter Institute

Last Wednesday, my boss and I flew to Americus, Georgia to present our Scott & White Family Caregiver Program at the National Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) for Caregiving Conference. (Can I just say how great it is to work for a boss that is brilliant, fun, and is a friend! I didn't think I would have that again after my rockstar boss in South Carolina, Swann Adams - who continues to be a mentor and great friend to me). Alan presented in the morning and I presented in the afternoon along with Richard McGhee, the director of the community partner - Aging and Disability Resource Center. Wednesday night we attended a welcoming reception at a beautiful HUGE historic home. While we were there Alan introduced me to a man who is the medical director of corporate communications for Johnson and Johnson and works in Latin America. (RCI and J&J funded the Family Caregiver Program). I asked him if he knew of Dr. Paul Farmer and Partners in Health in Haiti (Dr. Farmer is one of my biggest heroes). Dr. Martinez smirked and said "yes, we work with him and know him"...which I proceeded to say "ooohhh, i've read his dissertation, all his books....". The rest of the time we were able to discuss schools of public health and his connections to Johns Hopkins and Harvard (yes, I was excited!). Then, Mrs. Carter came in and we met her. All in all, the weekend was wonderful! It got better when we went to the Gala the final night. Alan and our program ended up winning the Rosalynn Carter Leadership in Caregiving Award is the highest award given in the caregiving field. And, I couldn't be happier for him and Richard!! Enjoy some pictures of our time there.

Richard and I presented and then participated in a panel discussion for the participants...we look serious don't we!

Mrs. Carter and I - She said "Did you know I used to be a 'Smith'?" - yes, we connected! I hope I am that gracious, beautiful, and poised when I am 82 years old.
Louis and I in an old phone at our hotel. (It was a neat old, historic hotel)
Louis and I at the reception.
Alan and I with the beautiful award!
The "official" press release picture...which makes me laugh since all of us are looking different directions and have different facial expressions...oh well. Disregard the fact that I am faking that smile...I was really nervous!

Pictured (l to r): Alan Stevens, PhD, Director, Scott & White Program on Aging and Care, Temple, Texas; Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter; Emily Smith, MSPH, CCRC, Family Caregiver Program Director, Scott & White Healthcare, Temple, Texas; H. Richard McGhee, Director, Central Texas AAA, Belton, Texas.

While I was gone we called in the most qualified reinforcements to watch Bella while I was gone and Mike was at school. Thank you Grammy! I flew in on her birthday and was so excited to see her...can you tell!

Friday, October 23, 2009

And, we are officially one year...

12 months - 52 weeks - 365 days - 8,760 hours - and lots of minutes of love and hugs and slobbery kisses! This time last year we were Here after we had just seen our little girl for the first time - and still trying to wrap our minds around being parents in-real-life. What a journey it has been! Sweet Bella, we love you more than we can tell you and look forward to many more years to show you. We are now climbing on the giraffes and playing peek-a-boo behind them.

Family photo at one year!
Family photo one year ago!I went to the Rosalynn Carter Institute in America, Georgia this week i'll blog about that later) and got back today - right in time for her birthday! Yes, I was so happy to see Bella again!
Playing with Grammy!
Happy Birthday Bella Grace!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This time last year...

This time last year...I was Here

and officially about to jump out of my skin! I was loving the belly, loving feeling Bella move and do circles, running, swimming, cleaning, keeping my mind off of "I-may-go-into-labor-at-any-minute-now", loving calling my family just to say hi and hearing them say "hElLooo" (hoping it was the I-am-in-labor-call), loving the what-ifs and thankfulness of motherhood. I also remember being nervous and scared about not knowing what I was doing or how I was going to be a mother (remember, I hadn't changed diapers before).

Fast forward one year later...the belly went away, Bella moves in circles in the house (all over the house!), I still run and swim (and had to get used to the non-prego-belly run again), I still call my family (although now they really want to know about Bella more than me...which is ok!), I still ask the what-ifs of motherhood and am increasingly thankful for motherhood. I also still get nervous and scared about being a mother. But, the thing that is different is I see this precious little Bella of ours daily. And LOVE her to pieces. As her first birthday is coming up I am reminded what a difference a year makes. And what a fabulous difference that is!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Look who's walking!!!

Ok, so she's not "officially" walking but this counts as the progression to it! A momma has to document e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g...right? Also, notice her rockin' marathon-training suit Grammy bought her. Adorable! She is ready to go!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Family time and catch-up

Our families came into town this past weekend to celebrate Bella's birthday! Yes, it's early. Her birthday is actually on the 23rd but we had the party when everyone could make it. I'll devote a later post to the party itself but I wanted to post some cute pictures of the weekend and the past two weeks. Some "first" for the week includes:
1. Dancing! We put on music of any type or just sing to her and she does this a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e dance-sway-move-back-and-forth and smile thing. Super cute! I'll have to catch it on video but if she knows we're videotaping her she'll just stare at the camera.
2. She's talk talk talking. I know I post about her talking alot but it really does just keep increasing!
3. She has learned to turn around in the bathtub. One of her new favorite games is to turn herself around and throw the rubber duckies out of the water. Then, she'll turn herself around again and retrieve the thrown ducks. This could go on for a while i'm sure!
4. She has started talking with voice inflection that makes it sound like she's always asking a question. It's hysterical listening to that in the monitor in the morning before we get her up.
5. She is 19 pounds and 15 ounces.
6. Mike and I think her legs have gotten loooonnnngggger just within the past week. Her torso seems to be the same size but her legs keep going and going...maybe she'll be tall!?

Enjoy some pics from the past few weeks! Expect more blogs in the near future of the birthday festivities and her cute pumpkin outfit!

She's wearing one of my dresses I wore at her age.
Playing with Auntie Alli.
Can you see my dad's hang in the window!
Great Grandmother going in for kisses!
Laughing at Nana with the camera.
Look at those teeth!