Easter Parts One & Two

For those who may not know, Easter is the biggest religious celebration for Greek Orthodox Christians (it’s bigger than Christmas). Growing up, we have always celebrated Orthodox Easter, with certain festivities and family gatherings spilling over onto Western Easter, depending on how close the two fall if it’s not on a year that they coincide completely. Confusing, I know! You can read about the differences and why they are sometimes celebrated on different days here.

This year, we celebrated both. Western, or Catholic Easter, presented an opportunity to get together with family for an outdoor egg hunt at my aunt and uncle’s farm. This was a place where my sisters and I spent a lot of time in our younger years and it was so fun to go back now with Theodora. It’s not hard to see that she had a lot of fun filling her basket with the help of her older cousins, pointing out where the eggs and other Easter goodies were hiding!

She was clearly done at this point. With the egg hunt, and all of the pictures!

Orthodox Easter, which was just this past weekend, consisted of a lot of church-going and looking forward to the meat-filled feast that would break our 40-day fast. This typically includes a big lamb roast, but because not everyone was in town for the weekend, we opted for hosting an equally satisfying, but simple, brunch on Sunday morning. I vowed to take more pictures throughout the weekend, but failed miserably, getting caught up in the busy-ness of everything. I did, however, manage to take a couple on my phone – of Thea’s outfits that we dressed her in for church. Priorities, right?! Here, friends, our Orthodox Easter in Thea’s #ootd, or Outfits of the Day.

One of my dreams is to one day celebrate Easter in Greece – to really experience the richness, beauty and mystery of the holiday. Until that time, we will continue with carrying out the traditions we knew and loved during our childhood, with a whole lot of fun along the way!

I hope you’re having a great week!

xo
Kassey

Also…

Although an old article, Rita Wilson’s take on Orthodox Easter is a really personal and beautiful read, if you haven’t come across it already.

Fun fact ~ It’s a sweet coincidence that I post on this topic today. Easter was my grandma’s absolute favourite holiday, and today is her birthday! Happy Birthday yiayia. You are still very much alive in my heart and memories ❤

Thanks, 2014. Hello, 2015!

I hope you all have had a restful, food-filled holiday with all of the family time your hearts can handle, and more! That is what the holidays are all about after all, right?

It has been not just a great holiday season for us, but a great year all around. We took in all of our firsts with Theodora, and got to enjoy an energetic Christmas morning full of laughs as we watched her destroy every piece of tissue paper she came across. Who needs toys?!

As we were nearing the holidays, I was really hoping to take a true break and unplug. It’s hard to do, since day to day life is full of digital distractions, but I was determined to completely scale back on laptop, tablet and cell phone time. And what a success; we did it! We had several festive events on our radar, which we managed to take in, but most of all, we just wanted to hang out with our families. Visiting with family and friends was of top priority, especially those that made it in from out of town, so we feel refreshed after having caught up with those that are dear to us, but live far away.

It should be all 365 days of the year, but at Christmas time we are reminded to acknowledge and count our blessings. Having just payed my respects at an old friend’s funeral yesterday, that reminder was especially clear to me. I do my best to recognize all of life’s blessings all throughout the year, even (especially) the tiny ones, but I will make sure that for 2015, I kick that up a notch.

For example, I’m going to institute a wear-matching-slippers ritual, like we did on Christmas morning:

Or take a regular stroll through the local zoo at night:

Have a snow day on a more regular basis:

Relish in all of the joy that this little one brings us:

Also worth mentioning – she not only got her two front (top) teeth for Christmas, but also mastered walking! This proud mom is filling in these milestones in the baby book!

As our 2014 chapter comes to a close, we excitedly await 2015 and all of the fun it has in store for us. We’ve got wedding festivities on the horizon, and the regular daily adventures that we call life, so that in itself is a blessing. Hug those you love extra tight, and I wish you all every joy and happiness in 2015. Oh, and ring in the New Year safely 🙂

xo,
Kassey

RIP JC ❤

Celebrating One Year of Theodora

Last weekend, we celebrated our not-so-little baby’s first birthday, and throughout that day, I found myself revisiting some advice I had received just before my wedding day. A friend of mine told me to make sure I took a moment to really look at what was happening around me to soak it in because of how fast it goes by. The same totally applied for Theodora’s birthday; on the day we celebrated with a few little friends, and the night before the party, too. I couldn’t believe that the heart-shaped rice crispy pops and tissue paper poufs I was making at 2:30 in the morning the night before were for our very own daughter!

(Don’t judge me, but I feel like I need to be honest here – I had the help of not only Alex in these preparations, but also a glass of wine. It tastes so much better in those wee hours of the morning!)

The afternoon was filled with exactly what we hoped for – laughter, tiny people chatter, singing and eating. Although too young to really remember this milestone birthday, we hope that these pictures will help Theodora understand how excited we were to celebrate her.

People warned me of this, and it’s true – the first year goes by at lightening speed. Everything is so new, and you’re stepping into the monumental responsibility of raising a child in the safest, healthiest and happiest way that you can. Here’s what has made us feel ok about how fast it went – we did our best to be in the moment, every step of the way. Whether those moments were at 2:00 am consoling cries, or the fourth time in the span of half an hour changing, yet, another diaper, we just reminded ourselves that this was part of the deal. And what incredible, priceless results this deal has yielded us.

Have a great (warm) week!

xo,
Kassey

Also, hello December and Cyber Monday! When did that happen?! Here’s a list of some of the best Cyber Monday sales to shop. A great head start to Christmas shopping, if you haven’t already started.

One way to do some Christmas shopping (or treat yourself) and support local businesses and artisans is to check out the Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair. It runs again next weekend, December 5-7, and is VERY worth checking out!

Party Details
Cake topper and huge pink balloon: Confetti & Sparkle Party Shop
Cake: Cake Affair (delicious and amazing!)

New Job: Mom

November 24, 2014. This is the day that I would have technically returned to work after maternity leave. Except I’m continuing my at- home journey with Theodora, and to be honest with you, there’s no place I’d rather be.

It was an unexpectedly difficult decision because I was in a job that I absolutely loved. For the last eight years, I worked for a business school managing a portfolio of professional development programs. My colleagues were amazing. My boss and people I reported to – even more amazing. And the people I got to meet and interact with on a daily basis were a true gift. I think a person’s years of development can be loosely compartmentalized into childhood, teen years, and adult years, and I spent most of my formative adult years in this place. A place I was very proud to call my day time home. The downtown pod that I happily walked into every day was brimming with intellect, energy, ideas, and style . It was impossible not to be a fashionable group being only steps away from some of the best shopping destinations in the city. When I became pregnant and people would ask me if I planned to return to work, my response was always “of course!”. It wasn’t a question of “if”; rather it was a question of capacity (full time versus part time).

And then Theodora was born, and everything changed, almost instantly. I was amazed at how quickly my heart swelled with a love I never understood until she was in my arms. Just like that, we were beginning this new chapter as a family of three. When we left the hospital and jumped into our roles as parents, I kept thinking back to something my dad had told me many years ago. My parents always believed that I would excel at anything I put my mind to, whether it was education, work or any other life passion. But my dad also said that among my drive to succeed, he always saw me as a person deeply rooted in family. Now maybe it was my stellar performance as the oldest child (this is where you all can laugh), or maybe it was his compiled observations of me growing up, mirroring the values and morals that he and my mom raised me with. Either way, this strong, magnetic pull I was feeling towards our brand new daughter suddenly became so much more clear. This was what I wanted my next job to be: mom.

The thought processes and discussions that ensued between Alex and I were lengthy, and were revisited time, and time, and time again. This was no easy decision that could be made in a day, despite how sure I was so early on. We weighed the financial impacts, as well as the impacts this would have on my career long term. From the many angles we looked at it, and despite a couple of moments of fear, one thing remained clear all along: this was the decision that felt right for our family, and for me.

My job was something that I knew very well; however, my new mom job continues to prove that I still have a lot to learn. Thank goodness for my mom, who is always there to listen to my questions, and always very kind and gracious with her answers, no matter how silly I might sound. As a person who thrives in a busy environment and loves having something to do all of the time, motherhood is a great fit! Yet, that only occupies a portion of my brain that is all things baby, growth, development, and the next foods to introduce. I still crave being able to use the other part that reminds me of a time when the creative, business juices flowed freely! In an attempt to keep that part of my brain chugging along, I have made a bit of a promise to myself. I will do what I can to stay current, whether it’s by taking on similar projects from home, volunteering, or staying in touch with my former colleagues and see how that might work out (actually, that last point is a given, cause I just like my former day time family too much). And maybe some of these won’t work at this time, which is okay too, because this is not intended to be a permanent circumstance (I plan on, and look forward to, going back to work one day!).

There is something very cool and meaningful about one chapter coming to a natural close, with the next one opening. I’m so excited, and I feel so very lucky to be able to do this. Countless times, I have heard how fleeting these little moments are, so to be able to spend this time with Theodora means the world to Alex and I. Not only have our families rooted for us in this decision we have made, but I have been completely overwhelmed (in the best way) by the words of congratulations and support I have received from my former colleagues.

Feeling so lucky, with a very full heart.

xo,
Kassey

Stuff I Saw & Loved

1. We live in a winter city, which brings with it all sorts of beauty and fun. But this huge snowball fight in an unknown location is going to make it even more awesome. (metronews.ca)

2. Even princesses have stylists. (vogue.com.au)

3. Five words: Kate Spade New York x GapKids! Sorry, credit card. And Alex. (gapcanada.ca)

4. My mom did (and still does) this for me, and I want to do the same for Theodora, always. Here’s some advice I hope to remember when we enter that part of life when little feelings can get hurt. (joannagoddard.blogspot.ca)

5. A good reminder: the ten commandments of skincare. (theluxelife.com)

6. If you’re hoping to start Christmas shopping, and you want to support local artisans, do check out Make It! The Handmade Revolution. It runs from November 20-23 at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert. Discounted early bird tickets are still available! (makeitproductions.com)

Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Our First Halloween

Confession: I have never really liked Halloween. This may come as a shock to those that don’t know me, but will be no surprise to those that do. The excitement of a costume, made or bought, has not been my thing since about grade seven, and even then, I think my get-up was a recycled idea from a couple of years prior (a gypsy).

Fast forward fifteen years, and suddenly I am convinced I need just one more decoration, and one more Halloween-themed snack idea. Gasp! Having a little one really changes these sorts of things! We dressed little Thea as Minnie Mouse this year, because it was just too darned cute, and Minnie happens to be one of her favourite stuffed animals.

I was also excited to host our monthly mom’s meet up that day, so I thought it would be really fun to have a little Halloween party. We had a great morning hanging out, snacking and admiring all of the adorable costumes. A great way to kick off a festive weekend!

It goes without saying – these babies could melt your heart every day, not just Halloween! And these moms I’ve met, and can happily call my friends, warm my heart. They’re the best!

Conclusion: I am now a Halloween liker. Not quite a lover (yet).

I would love to know – what have been some of your most successful Halloween costumes, either for yourself or your little ones? I’m going to start collecting ideas for next year 🙂

Happy Monday to you, and a very happy week!

xo,
Kassey

Family Photos

Earlier this summer, we had family photos done, and I’m so excited to share some of them here with you. I thought it would be so fun to get a little fancied up for a few of the shots, and mix it up with a slightly more casual style. We worked with the ever so talented and fun Nicole Ashley and her team of ladies, Janna Huget and Stefanie Carlson. You may remember a mention of Nicole and her team in one of my very early posts where I shared our mother-daughter photos. Needless to say, I was so excited to work with these girls again. Not only do they produce photos meant for cherishing, but a few minutes with this crew is a guaranteed ab workout from all of the laughs!

While I initially took inspiration from my style icons (the Beckhams, the Royals, and Blake Lively), it was with the help of Janna’s savvy styling skills that helped the whole look and feel of our photos come together. Combine that with Stef’s mad skills in hair and makeup, my delicate and sparkly dress, a sharp suit and a tiny gold crown and we had all of the necessary ingredients to cook up the photos I had been dreaming of. And if I can just talk about this dress for a minute – I had every intention of leaving the tags on and returning it once we were done with the shoot. Until I tried it on. Seriously, every girl needs a dress like this in her life! I can’t wait to wear this beauty again.

It was hard not to post all of them here, because with every single one I say “No, THIS is my favourite”. So here are a few more. And so begins my task of deciding which ones to print for framing. It’s going to be a tough one…

Our Family

(dress by Adrianna Papell, no longer available. Similar here and here)

Hope you all are enjoying what marks the last of the summer long weekends! Have a great week.

xo,
Kassey

Summer Vacation…With Baby!

A couple of weeks ago, we took our very first family vacation with Theodora, and it was a success! Our travels took us down to Scottsdale, Arizona where we visited with aunts, uncles and cousins; some of which live there, and others who flew in from North Carolina and Texas. Those four days were packed and seemed to go by just as quickly as the trip snuck up on us, but it was all really enjoyable.

Here are a few photos of our time in Scottsdale. We were really fortunate in that my mom, dad and grandpa also made the trip down, so it was a big, fat, Greek family vacation of sorts – fun, eventful, and memorable! At the end of this post, I’ve also included a list and a few descriptions of what worked for us travelling with a little one.

The last time this crew of cousins assembled was three years ago, on the dance floor, at our wedding. So fun, and even more fun that we got to introduce them to Thea!

The last time this crew of cousins assembled was three years ago, on the dance floor, at our wedding. So fun, and even more fun that we got to introduce them to Thea!

Our first family photo! Seriously, we're really bad at finding someone to take a picture of all three of us, so we were really excited about this one!

Our first family photo! Seriously, we’re really bad at finding someone to take a picture of all three of us, so we were really excited about this one!

Grandparents, and great-grandpa too!

Grandparents, and great-grandpa too!

Travel Planning with Baby

First trip meant a first real flight for Theodora, and so we knew a bit lot of forethought was required. Here are a few things we considered in our planning and packing:

~ Flights
Fortunately, there are direct flights from Edmonton to Phoenix that just happened to align with our little one’s sleep times. While she was a little fussier on the way down (I think teething was partly to blame for this), the flight back departed Phoenix at 8:00 pm, and after a bit of being distracted and excited at the beginning of the flight, she slept the whole way home. Sweet dreams all around!

~ Take off and landing
Most of you with babies have probably already heard that to help alleviate some of the pressure on the ears, it’s a good idea to breast or bottle feed on take off and landing. In our case, this really helped, and specifically on the flight home, which was similar to her typical bed time routine, resulted in a cozy, three hour slumber.

~ Entertainment & Boredom Prevention
Lesson learned here – it’s a good idea to bring along a toy that is brand new and never-before-seen by your cute little bundle. Theodora is getting to the age, now, where some of her toys are becoming old news to her, especially when you have them on short rotations over the span of three hours! So, on a shopping trip to Nordstrom Rack, I picked up a toy cell phone that I hid until we were on the plane to come home. It was new and exciting for her, and kept her occupied until she fell asleep.

~ Gear: Feeding

Travel-friendly Feeding Gear

Counter clockwise: 1. Medella Harmony Manual Breast Pump, 2. Annabel Karmel Food Masher & Bowl, 3. Boon Squirt Spoon

Theodora is on solids now, and when we’re at home, I use my Baby Bullet. It isn’t the most practical gadget to bring along on a trip, though, so a combination of other smaller, travel-friendly pieces and caving into buying certain baby foods got us through the four days. I found it very handy to have my manual breast pump (pictured above) as I like to mix her cereals and other foods with breast milk as opposed to water. If I couldn’t pump conveniently and privately, I just used bottled or tap water, and whenever possible, I boiled it. The bowl and masher has also proven it’s worth in our house. I often use it at home, and make sure to throw it in my baby bag when we’re heading out, too, as it’s easy, compact, and you can mash a variety of fruits and vegatables. Lastly, and possibly my favourite among all of these is the Boon Squirt Spoon. Minimal mess and pretty error proof, this has a permanent spot in my baby bag, and as long as I have it filled with iron-fortified cereal, Thea will always have a healthy snack on the ready. Pour in a bit of breast milk/formula or water, give it a stir or shake, and squirt. It’s that easy!

When it came to buying baby food, I was hesitant at first, but convenience and the need to provide a bit more variety for Thea won. We ended up buying a few of those squish packs and used them sparingly, but Thea seemed to enjoy them.

~ Gear: Clothing
The desert heat that Arizona is famous for was something I was a bit nervous about. We knew we wouldn’t be spending a whole lot of time outside, but I was also thinking about the drastic temperature change from outside to the air-conditioned indoors. In addition to the basics, I always made sure to have a light sweater in our bag for Thea. Four days didn’t require us to pack all that much, and if there was anything we forgot, it was a good excuse to go shopping!

~ Gear: Products
Similar to clothing, we knew that if there were any products we forgot, we could easily buy them from a grocery or local drug store. For those emergency types of items, however, it was reassuring to have a little “cosmetics bag” for Thea, which consisted of things like infant tylenol, nail trimmer (this one by Zoli is a God send!), thermometer, brush/comb, Vitamin D drops, and sunscreen.

Diapers were a perfect example of something you just stock up on once you arrive. We packed enough to last us (and then some) for the time we would be at the airport and the actual flying time, and then just made a trip to Target once we had settled into our hotel.

Since coming home, I have come across a couple of other resources that I will definitely refer to next time we take a trip. Caz shares 17 Tips for Flying With Kids over on her blog, and I really liked her idea of a bag of goodies – perfect for trips longer than a three hour flight! I have a feeling that packing will only become more challenging as Thea gets older and more particular with her outfits, so I will be looking to Joy’s tips on packing for a family trip. If Thea ends up loving clothes even half as much as I do, we’re in trouble…

I hope this was helpful, and if you have any tips or suggestions you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear them!

xo,
Kassey

Holiday!

We’re off on a little holiday to sunny Arizona, and this marks our first official family vacation! I’m looking forward to some time away, catching up with family, and the adventure of travelling with a little one.

I hope you all have a great week, and I’ll be sure to share some stories and photos upon our return.

xo,
Kassey

#yeg Spotlight: Cafe Bicyclette

We celebrated my first Mother’s Day in a pocket of our city that has quickly climbed the ranks to be one of my new favourites. The French Quarters, also known as the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean, is an adorable little piece of France located on 86 Avenue and 91 Street. It is also home to Cafe Bicyclette, and it lived up to all of the charm that the name elicits.

It was the perfect spot to celebrate this special “first”. Possessing equal parts cute and charming, it also offers a wide selection of breakfast/brunch, lunch and dinner options. As evidenced below, we stuck to desserts only for this occasion!

Something we stumbled upon, which we will be sure to return and check out when we have more time is the community’s Farmer’s Market, which takes place every Sunday from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Between the delicious cafe itself, and the various events that take place in the area, we can’t wait to go back and discover more!

Fellow Edmontonians, have you unearthed any new favourite spots lately?

Have a great week, and Happy Canada Day!

xo,
Kassey