30 By 30 Update, June 2017

Y’all I’m SO FIRED UP right now!! I have checked a bunch of stuff off my list lately, and I’m totally giddy. Something about crossing things off of a checklist gives me a boost of energy to go cross everything else off. Haha! Here’s what I’ve done since my last update in November:

#2 – Take an Alaskan cruise. I cannot appropriately explain how mind-blowingly awesome this trip was. We got to visit Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, and Victoria. Plus, we got to take anniversary pictures in Juneau (SWOON) and hang out with friends on our last day in Seattle! Dreamy, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m still reeling from the beauty of it all.

#6 – Read 10 new books. I really feel like I’m on a roll with this one. I’ve finished a bunch since my last update, and I’m excited about the ones in my ‘queue’. So far, I’ve read Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon, The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown, and Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. Our community group from church is reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller, and I’m also working my way through Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers again (I’ve read it before, but MAN it’s so good).

#11 – Deliver meals to new parents. So far, we’ve taken food to the Whitley family to celebrate baby Abigail, and the Newton family to celebrate baby Éowyn! And there are lots more babies coming this year (including my first niece, Karis – she’s a doll!!), so I know we’ll get to do this again. :)

#18 – Take anniversary pictures with Daniel. Check check CHECK!! I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to top the experience of one of our wedding photographers, the amazing Catie Bartlett, taking our pictures at a glacial lake in Alaska.

#20 – Update my home décor. Technically this one was already on my last update, but I’ve added new things since! I got a gorgeous wooden ‘Oklahoma’ from my mom for Christmas, I updated our living room bookcases with new decorations, added a gallery wall in our master bedroom, and finally decorated the guest bathroom with an easy DIY craft project that I unfortunately did not take pictures of – bad Laura.

#21 – Make our backyard fun. There’s still lots to do, but adding some globe string lights and a planter of wildflowers definitely improved the back porch!

#26 – Visit 5 new states. Washington, Alaska, and Colorado are new additions – three down, two to go! We technically visited Utah…but we were only in the airport, so it doesn’t really count.

#30 – Take a road trip. The Simma clan family vacation to Colorado helped me knock this one out. Wayyy too many hours spent in the car, but lots of music, pretty views, snacks, and inside jokes with my siblings made it better.


Can’t wait to keep checking more off of this list – almost a third of the way through, and I still have 2½ years to finish the rest! To check out what else is on my list, go here.

 

Five Years.

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Five years. We’ve been married for five whole years. Five is a “milestone” year, right? It feels like one. We aren’t in the glorious throes of parenthood or figuring out what it’s like to be middle-aged yet, but we’re not exactly newlyweds anymore either. We’ve laughed a lot. We’ve traveled a lot. We’ve stumbled, fallen, and helped each other up a lot. I earnestly hope that God allows us decades more of doing life together!

Daniel – I love you more and most. Thanks for embracing my crazy and not running away. :) Happy Anniversary!

Alaska: Part III

PART III // Ketchikan, Victoria, & Seattle

The last three days of our trip were spent wandering around Ketchikan (a tiny Alaska fishing town), Victoria (a gorgeous British-like Canadian city), and Seattle again! We had shorter port times in Ketchikan and Victoria, so we didn’t get to explore much, but we still enjoyed walking around town. And it was fun to be shown Seattle by friends who actually live there, rather than running around aimlessly on our own.

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Ketchikan:
–Breakfast at Sweet Mermaids
–Creek Street

It rained on us in Ketchikan, so we didn’t spend too much time walking around. But we found a cute little coffee shop near the waterfront called Sweet Mermaids, and Daniel got the best cheese danish either of us had ever tasted. We also walked through the historic Creek Street area and stopped in a few of the shops along the way.


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VICTORIA:
–Empress Hotel
–British Columbia Parliament Building

I was heartbroken that we didn’t have more time here – it was absolutely charming! The only place I knew I wanted to go was the the corner of Belleville and Government to see the Empress Hotel and the British Columbia Legislature, and both were stunning. I would have loved to have visit the Butchart Gardens or go whale watching, but I’m glad we didn’t book an excursion, because it took FOREVER to get off the ship and we would have missed it.


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SEATTLE, Take 2:
–Pike Place Market
–Kerry Park / Gas Works Park
–Elliot Bay for lunch

I LOVED this day!! We got to visit some beautiful places AND hang out with some old friends from Oklahoma. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do between getting off the cruise ship at 8:00 am and our flight at 5:00 pm, and Stephen and Jimi Hightower totally saved the day. They picked us up at the cruise terminal, drove us and our suitcases around all day, and basically gave us a personalized tour of Seattle. We got to see Pike Place Market (a bucket list place for me), lots of parks, and their new apartment – isn’t their mug holder cute?? Jimi is ultra crafty, and you can check out some of her other projects here!

Thanks again, Stephen and Jimi, for showing us your city! :)

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The only dark cloud on our entire trip was trying to go home. Our flight was supposed to leave at 5:00 pm, so the Hightowers dropped us off at the airport at 3:00. We went to a self-service kiosk to check in, and the screen told us that it was too late to check our bags. Confused, we went to the desk to check in there instead. When we handed the lady our tickets, she got a weird look on her face and started typing on her computer.

“What time is your flight?” she asked.

“5:00,” I said nervously.

More typing.

“Hmm….that flight was actually moved to 3:20.”

My heart raced. “Um…what???”

Immediately, Daniel asked, “Well, can we make it??”

Without a shred of sympathy, the lady said, “No, I’m sorry.”

I was speechless.

Daniel: “Okay…what time is the next available flight?”

Lady: “Let me check….(longest pause ever)….it looks like the next earliest flight is at 11:15 pm.”

Cue me dissolving into tears.

Long story short, we had to transfer from American to Alaska Airlines and sit in the airport for 8 extra hours. We checked and double-checked our emails, and neither of us had received any communication from American at all that day – not even a regular check-in email for our original flight time. We should have gotten home around midnight or 1:00 am, and instead, we pulled in our driveway around 7:00 am. NOT IDEAL. But besides that nightmare, we had a wonderful trip! And here is a picture of my Starbucks, because when you’re stuck in an airport for that long, what else is there to do than be a basic white girl?

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In case you missed them, here’s Part I and Part II of this trip.

If you’re not ready for the vacation pictures to end, don’t worry – I’m going to Colorado with my family this month, and I’ll have lots of more gorgeous goodness to share soon!

Alaska: Part II

PART II // JUNEAU, SKAGWAY, & GLACIER BAY

Juneau, Skagway, and Glacier Bay: the three loveliest days of our trip! I’m so glad I took pictures, but I’m also glad that I had the strength to put down the iPhone and just look around every once in awhile, and believe me – I drank in every detail. The strongest memory I have from the trip is how many times I felt so incredibly small, staring up at the towering mountains and trees around us and losing all my words. I’ve never been anywhere so beautiful in my life. It’s hard to believe that the locals actually get used to such breathtaking views and forget how wonderful their ‘backyard’ really is! I could ramble on for way too long about how gorgeous everything was – but I think I’ll just show you instead. ;)

JUNEAU:
–took anniversary pictures at a glacial lake
–went on an ice caves excursion
–ate the best seafood I’ve ever had

So many words, and yet so few at the same time. AMAZING day. Shout-out to Catie Bartlett for taking what I know will be the most incredible pictures (separate post to come later!), to our glacier adventure crew for taking us on the most baller excursion EVER, and to Tracy’s King Crab Shack for the most ridonkulous crab bisque – possibly the best soup, period, that I’ve ever had in my life. During our excursion, we paddled across the lake, explored the ice caves, and hiked up on top of the Mendenhall Glacier. Not for the faint of heart, but wayyyy worth the tired arms and legs!


SKAGWAY:
–rode the White Pass Scenic Railway
–EXPLORED the idyllic downtown area
–LUNCH at skagway brewing company

Another amazing day! We booked the train ride because it was the #1-rated excursion for Skagway, and it did not disappoint – the views were unreal. We went all the way up into Canada and turned around on the track, so we got to see both sides of the track during the trip. I loved the guide’s narration about the railroad and the route hundreds of people traveled during the gold rush. Afterward, we walked around town (very picturesque!), got some fudge and truffles from a candy shop, and ate lunch at Skagway Brewing Company.


GLACIER BAY:
–perfect sightseeing spot on the boat
–Margerie Glacier and Lamplugh Glacier
–roughly one billion sea otters

Honestly? I don’t even know where to start with how pretty this place was. The glaciers were enormous. The Margerie Glacier is 250 feet high and over a mile long! We had a completely unobstructed view of the bay for the entire day, aside from an obnoxious 20 minutes when a huge group of very rude people stood directly in front of our chairs to take about 700 pictures together. Literally, they were maybe a foot in front of us. *eye roll* But besides that, we had a great day on the ship! We spent a lot of time watching the mountains and the water for signs of wildlife, and I’m not kidding – we probably saw at least 200 otters float by the ship within a 30-minute period. They were so cute!

One of my favorite things we did all week was watch the sunset from the back of the ship as we sailed back out of Glacier Bay. Funny enough, it was 10:00 pm when I took this picture! We were the only people on deck, and it was such a sweet, peaceful moment.


The third and final piece of the Alaska trip series is coming soon – stay tuned for photos from Ketchikan, Victoria, and our one-day tour of Seattle with the Hightowers!

Alaska: Part I

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Y’all. Y’ALL. 

I don’t have enough adjectives for this trip. “Amazing,” “incredible,” “unbelievable” – nothing comes close enough. I am so, so thankful that we were able to take this trip, and it’ll be hard to top it in the future (although we’re definitely up for the challenge!).

During this trip, we visited Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, and Victoria. Each place had its own unique charm, but my favorite moments were sailing through Glacier Bay, hanging out with the Hightowers in Seattle, and pretty much the entire day we spent in Juneau!

Part I // Seattle & Exploring the Ship

Seattle has always been a “bucket list” city for me, what with all the parks, markets, food, and good views, and luckily we had some time to see the place! We flew into SeaTac in the early afternoon on Friday, took an Uber to our hotel, unpacked a little, and then went for a walk. I picked a perfectly-located hotel completely by accident – less than a mile walk from Pike Place Market and the waterfront! We ate at an urban chic seafood place called Etta’s (delish fried cod and shrimp!), got dessert from Piroshky Piroshky, and rode the Great Wheel.

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The next morning, we explored the area around our hotel to find a coffee shop for breakfast, and I quickly discovered my favorite thing about the city – all the nature! Everywhere we looked, there were gorgeous gardens and parks, even in the middle of the city. I especially loved the juxtaposition of trees on the rooftops of buildings.

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We took another Uber to the Seattle cruise port after checking out of our hotel. We had only been on one cruise before this trip – Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel with Royal Caribbean – so we weren’t completely sure what to expect, but Princess was pretty similar! Here’s our comparison:

WHO DID IT BETTER?

Cruise ship in general: Royal Caribbean.
Staterooms (interior): Princess. The bed was soooo comfy!
Food: Equal, but the waiters/service were better on Royal Caribbean.
Evening entertainment (shows): Royal Caribbean.
Port excursions: Princess. But we were also in Alaska, so…
Atmosphere: both were very chill and laid-back!
Drinks: packages were cheaper on Royal Caribbean.
Daytime activities:Royal Caribbean.
Hangout spots: Princess.

This was our gorgeous view while sailing out of Seattle!

One HUGE advantage to a Princess Alaska cruise – no crowds on the decks! It was chilly and frequently rainy, so most of the…ahem, *older* cruise passengers spent the whole time inside. We were plenty happy as long as we stayed wrapped up in our jackets and beanies, and we never struggled to find a good view of the scenery.

The second night on the ship was the first formal night, and we got to watch a Princess tradition before dinner – the champagne glass waterfall! The boat was crazy rocky that night, and we spent half of our watching time wondering if the champagne tower was going to fall over. I loved the fact that this cruise had so many company-specific traditions, though, like the balloon drop and the final night’s dessert parade at dinner!

Coming up in Part II – Juneau, Skagway, and Glacier Bay!

Packed: Alaska Picks

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When you see it….haha! This is what happens when you try to take a flat-lay photo and you own a dog. *facepalm*

Gosh, y’all – I don’t think I’ll ever stress out as much about packing as I did this time around for our Alaska trip. We had to plan for rain, wind, cold, and potentially warm weather all in the same suitcase, and it was a little overwhelming, even with the help of my trusty packing template. Neither Daniel or I had ever been anywhere in the northwest before, so we had no clue what to expect!

Probably the best thing I did for myself was map out what we were doing every single day of the cruise, and what kind of outfits those activities would require. Then, I created those outfits and laid them all out in order on the floor to stack and pack in the suitcase. For example:

  • Monday – Juneau, glacier excursion and anniversary photo shoot (outfits for photo shoot, hiking/kayaking clothes, dress for dinner)
  • Tuesday – Skagway, train excursion (casual cute outfit, formal dress for dinner)
  • And so on and so forth.

BEST DECISION EVER. I don’t know why I haven’t always done this! It kept me organized and helped me prioritize what I actually needed, instead of taking way too much stuff or packing a bunch of things that may or may not go together. And it really worked, because when we came home and unpacked, I only had one t-shirt and a couple pairs of shorts that I didn’t end up using. MIRACLE. This trick ended up being a HUGE lifesaver for this chronic over-packer.

But enough about that – here’s a look inside my suitcase!

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Cardigan: Old Navy (similar, similar) // Tee: Target // Sunnies: “Ray Bans” from Chinatown (similar) // Jeans: thrifted (similar) // Flats: Target

This was one of my “traveling day” outfits. Comfy, lived-in jeggings, flats that slip off quickly when going through security, the softest t-shirt EVER from Target (I’m not joking, it’s the softest shirt I’ve ever owned), and an extra long, cozy cardigan to stay warm on the plane.


Jacket: Old Navy // Tee: Mandy Jane // Jeans: JCPenney (similar, similar) // Boots: gifted (similar)

This was probably my favorite outfit I wore all week! The bison tee was a recent birthday gift, and I fiiiiiiiinally broke down and got something olive green – I’ve been putting it off because I was afraid the color was too trendy and wouldn’t last more than a season or two, but this jacket from Old Navy just spoke to me.


From top left to bottom right – Scarf: TJ Maxx (similar, similar) // Beanie: gifted (exact) // Beanie: Love Your Melon // Scarf: thrifted but from J. Crew (similar, similar, similar)

My collection of scarves and beanies has steadily grown over the last few years, but this picture is a testament to my commitment not to overpack. I didn’t take 11 scarves “to have options” and then only wear two of them. I packed three scarves (floral one not pictured) and wore ALL of them. I’m proud of myself.

Hope you guys are ready for some unbelievably gorgeous photos, because my first Alaska vacation recap post is coming soon!! Prepare your eyes and your hearts, people.

39 Thoughts Everyone Has While Packing for Vacation

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  1. Okay…let’s do this.
  2. Wait, I need some music.
  3. *turns on music*
  4. Did I even finish my packing list?
  5. Where is my packing list…
  6. Ahhh here it is! (buried under a mountain of random things on nightstand)
  7. YESSSS. Packing. Okay.
  8. *checks weather app for the fifteenth time*
  9. It’s going to be cold…but what if it warms up? It could happen.
  10. I should pack pants AND shorts, just in case.
  11. I should probably pack an umbrella too, in case it rains.
  12. Or two umbrellas. Just in case one of them breaks.
  13. *gets distracted by dog*
  14. I’m starving, I need lunch.
  15. *three hours of food and Netflix later*
  16. I think I grabbed everything I own out of the closet.
  17. I need to get rid of some stuff.
  18. I probably don’t need 10 shirts for a three-day weekend.
  19. I’ll just take 8.
  20. I remember reading somewhere that rolling your clothes helps you fit more stuff in your suitcase…
  21. *rolls zero things*
  22. How am I supposed to NOT take a million pairs of shoes.
  23. But I always pack too much and regret it when I have to drag my dumb suitcase around.
  24. *gets distracted by dog again*
  25. Whyyyyyy can’t I just pack liquids in my carry-on???
  26. It’s not like I’m going to hurt anybody with a bottle of shampoo.
  27. *lifts suitcase*
  28. It’s too heavy…I just know it’s too heavy.
  29. I don’t even have anything heavy in here!!
  30. *takes out four pairs of shoes and emergency raft*
  31. Okay there, that’s better.
  32. Now let’s see if I can zip it up…
  33. I don’t need to sit on my suitcase – it’s going to close just fine.
  34. Umm. Okay, come on zipper.
  35. COME…ONNNN.
  36. *sits on suitcase*
  37. Gotcha!! Eat it, suitcase.
  38. *muffled sound of phone ringing inside suitcase*
  39. Crap.

Where are YOU going this summer?

Ultimate Packing List

Maybe I’m weird, but I actually enjoy packing for vacation. Anybody else with me? Something about picking out cute outfits, organizing everything together, and making it fit perfectly inside a suitcase……*sigh*. It just does something to me. When Daniel and I first started traveling together, I created a very basic packing list to prepare for the trip. But I never could have guessed that my bare-bones, simple list would turn into my gold-standard template for multiple future vacation packing lists. I’ve used this baby at least 6 times (Jamaica, New York, Wisconsin, Caribbean cruise, Chicago, etc), and it hasn’t failed me yet!

Since the trip we’re going on soon is an Alaskan cruise, there’s a few items that you probably wouldn’t need for other vacation destinations. But this example gives you a good idea of how important it is to be very thorough! Anytime I think about needing something for a trip (like an umbrella or an extra swimsuit), I write it down. It might sound like overkill, but I learned my lesson when I forgot to include “phone charger” on a packing list and had to buy an overpriced one at the airport. I never assume that I’ll remember to pack something, because the closer I get to a trip, the more excited and distracted I’m likely to be.

The framework of my list divides everything I pack into three main categories: outfits, extras, and toiletries. I do this for two reasons. First, it’s easier to make sure I don’t forget things or pack too much of the same thing, and second, it’s easier to find stuff in my suitcase when similar things are packed near each other.

OUTFITS:

This trip was really hard to plan for, because the weather in Alaska can change at a moment’s notice! We have to pack for potential warm weather, rain, and icy cold temperatures, all in the same suitcase. And I usually over-pack! But I think I’ll do pretty well this time around.

2 fancy dresses for formal nights
5 date night outfits for dinners
8 casual outfits for travel days/excursions
1 swimsuit/cover-up
Socks/undies/bras
1 pair each of sweatpants and leggings
2 pairs of shorts
2 long-sleeved t-shirts
Rain jacket
Fleece jacket
2 pairs of heels
Tennis shoes
Rain boots
Steve Madden boots
Beanies/scarves/gloves
Jewelry

EXTRAS:

Travel documents: passport, plane tickets, driver’s license, hotel reservation, cruise boarding pass, cruise luggage tags, cash, insurance cards, credit/debit cards
Electronics: headphones, chargers, power strip for cruise cabin, iPad, phones
Bag of tricks: Tylenol, air freshener, sunscreen, bug spray, anti-wrinkle spray, Band-Aids, hand sanitizer, allergy meds, Benadryl cream, aloe vera, cough drops, Chapstick, motion sickness meds, Kleenex, Neosporin, nail clippers
Refillable water bottles
Ziplock bags
Binoculars (to see wildlife from the ship)
Umbrella
Hammocks (they pack up really small!)
Daypack backpacks
Extra bag for dirty laundry
Deck of cards/magazines/books

TOILETRIES:

Toothbrush/toothpaste
Shampoo/conditioner
Hair products
Brush/comb
Straightener/blow dryer/curling wand
Deodorant
Body wash
Contacts/case/solution/extras
Glasses
Face wash/moisturizer
Lotion
Makeup/makeup remover
Q-tips/cotton balls
Feminine products
Razor/shaving cream
Tweezers
Perfume
Bobby pins
Eye drops

The only thing I didn’t specify in the list is what I put in my plane bag! I typically grab my Osprey daypack and fill it with books, a magazine, my iPad, headphones, chargers, Chapstick, and all my travel docs. Depending on where I’m going, I either use my backpack as a purse or put my purse inside the backpack to use later.

If any of you struggle with packing, I hope this is helpful for you! It will at least give you a good place to start. I’ll share some of the outfits I put together in my next post!

Are you a “plan ahead” kind of packer, or a “throw my whole closet in my suitcase an hour before we leave” kind of packer?

My Pre-Trip Checklist: 10 Things to Do Before You Leave for Vacation

I consider myself an obsessively organized person, especially when it comes to traveling. Even though I can get overwhelmed when it comes to deciding WHERE to go (there’s just too many great places to see – how are you supposed to pick one??), I dive headlong into research and planning as soon as I know our destination. But even I am capable of forgetting things, and the best thing that helps me is making a million lists. In the next few posts, I’ll share the lists I’ve created over the last few years to help me get ready to go on vacation. First up is my pre-vacation checklist! Here’s what I’ve done before almost every trip Daniel and I have taken together.

1.  Print copies of all travel documents.

Plane tickets, hotel reservations, vacation package confirmation, maps of travel routes or places to visit – EVERYTHING. The last thing you want to do is get lost somewhere with no internet and no map, or stuck without proof that you’re supposed to be wherever you are.

2.  Update your work calendar.

Before you leave your workplace, set “away” messages for your email and phone, and make sure your trip shows up on any shared calendars. Try to finish up any projects you are working on and leave any relevant information for your coworkers, if they need it.

3.  Leave your house in good hands. 

Ask a neighbor, friend, or family member to keep an eye on your place while you’re gone. Have them feed your pets, water your plants, and bring any mail or packages inside.

4.  Check the weather one last time and finalize your packing list. 

And do the rest of your laundry a few days before, just to ensure that your favorite pieces are clean! Once you’re ready to start packing, lay everything out on your bed or the floor. Yes, everything. That way, you can see exactly how much you’re taking and narrow your choices down a little to save space in your suitcase.

5.  Make room for vacation pictures.

If you’re going somewhere pretty, you’re going to want that extra data space on your phone or memory on your camera. Don’t wait until you’re already on your trip to start frantically deleting things after getting the dreaded “Storage Full” message as the pod of dolphins swims right by you and out of your life forever.

6.  Let your bank and/or credit card company know that you’ll be traveling.

This is really important if you’re traveling internationally. If you don’t let them know ahead of time, there’s a chance that your cards could get shut down for “suspicious activity” in another country.

7.  Schedule your preparatory appointments.

Get a haircut, pedicure, spray tan – whatever you need to do to make yourself look acceptably attractive to people who will never see you again.

8.  Download stuff on Netflix.

Did you know that you can download TV shows and movies on Netflix to watch later without using the internet?? Best. news. ever. Long plane rides just got a little less boring.

9.  Clean your house.

You don’t have to deep-clean everything, but I usually wipe down the bathrooms and the kitchen, and I vacuum as many rooms as I can. It’s also good to get rid of perishable food in the fridge, run the dishwasher, take out all the trash, and put new clean sheets on your bed.

10.  Save some money.

Right before you leave the house, turn the thermostat up or down, depending on the season. Unplug appliances to conserve energy. Make a Walmart run and buy some snacks to keep yourself from spending $25 on soft pretzels at the airport (which I always end up doing anyway, because AUNTIE ANNE’S).

Any suggestions or tips that help you get organized before you travel? Share them in the comments!

Up Up & Away Co-Ed Baby Shower

How’s that for a throwback?? This picture is from 2010. 2010. Say hello to the skinnier, baby-faced, dating versions of Daniel, Laura, Tiffany, and Cole. :) We share a very special kindred-spirit kind of friendship with the Newtons, and it’s been wonderful to watch them go from friendship to dating, to engagement, to marriage, to ministry, and now to parenthood. I’ve known for years that I would throw Tiffany a bomb.com baby shower, and I FINALLY got the chance last month!

Originally, the plan was for Tiffany to come to the shower with her baby still swimming around in her belly for another month, but baby Éowyn surprised us all and came 5 weeks early! There is NOTHING like going to the hospital to see some of your best friends with their new baby, exhausted but glowing with love for that little life they created. We got to praise God together for a safe, easy birth for Tiffany and the fact that no extra oxygen was needed for Éowyn, even though her lungs were and are still developing. The Newton girls are both warriors. Baby girl is so, so tiny, and getting to hold her made my heart burst!

I don’t remember when exactly it happened, but several years ago, Tiffany and I started talking about babies. Up until this point, we did literally everything else within months of each other – dating, engagements, finishing school, weddings, new jobs, new homes, even getting dogs – so it was just natural to imagine our future kids and arrange their marriages. I have a vivid memory of her saying she wanted to decorate a nursery with hot air balloons, and from that moment on, I always knew that whenever I threw her a shower, it would be hot air balloon-themed.

In all honesty, this is probably my favorite shower I’ve ever thrown. I put months of thought into the little details, and I’m over the moon about how great it turned out. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my co-hosts though – I owe a huge “thank you” to Brittany, Lenzie, and Pamela for their hard work, and to Nancy at the museum for helping me pull this thing off!

The Three Valley Museum was an absolutely wonderful place to host this shower. The exposed beams, brick walls, and vintage accents created the perfect atmosphere for a fun, adventure-themed party! Nancy made my job so much easier – all I had to do was set up the decorations and the food. The tables, chairs, coffee, and GORG antique wagon that served as the food table were all provided by the museum. I love discovering new event venues, and this one will definitely stay on my short list.

When guests came in, they were encouraged to sign the globe guest book and write pieces of advice to the new parents. I put pieces of paper with individual alphabet letters printed on them on each table and asked guests to color a picture of anything that started with that letter. The pages would later be turned into a homemade alphabet book for baby Eowyn. And I got everything from nice things like “Y for Yellow Yak” to a bizarre drawing of nothing but eyeballs as “A for Albino.” Thank you, Jeremy Burns.

THE MENU: 

Snack bags on the guest tables
Cupcakes
Individual veggie cups
Chips & snack mix
“Babies” in a blanket
Coffee bar
Fruit-infused water
Hot air balloon cake balls

The cupcakes had a special twist. Before we knew baby Newton was a girl, my original plan was to create a mini blue cake and a mini pink cake, and fill one of them with colored frosting. Cole would cut into one and Tiffany would cut into the other, and whichever one was filled would be the supposed gender of their baby. Instead, I just made two pink ombre cakes, and I filled one of the cupcakes! I created a sign to display next to the cupcakes with a caution for guests to choose wisely – whoever chose the sprinkles-filled cupcake would be the next to get pregnant. And, of course, it was hilarious when Tiffany’s younger brother Kevin discovered he had picked that special cupcake!

All of the decor was DIY. I was really nervous because I hadn’t ever worked with giant balloons before, but they turned out great! I ordered the balloons and nets online, and got most of the baskets from Hobby Lobby on sale. The banners were individual triangles…cut out and painstakingly taped on string…by me. (Labor of love.) Because the museum was already decorated, I didn’t have to bring anything with me besides tablecloths, the hot air balloon centerpieces, Mason jars for the paper pinwheels, my giant chalkboard, and little odds and ends like sequin table runners and stuff for the guest book table.

mom and dad

This was the only picture I got of the sweet parents. Seriously – she does not look like she just had a baby, am I right??

And I had to take a pic of two of my favorite guys! :) This little dude made me an aunt. I can’t believe he’s already two years old.

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Honest to goodness – could not be happier with how this shower turned out. I’m still really proud of myself and so thankful to the co-hosts for everything they did. Thanks again to Pam, Brittany, and Lenzie! And happy parenthood to Tiffany and Cole – you’ll probably never sleep ever again. ;)

 If you need help planning a party on a budget, picking a theme, or figuring out a menu or decorating scheme…let me know! I’d love to schedule a consultation (a fancy word for “let’s go get ice cream and hang out”). Hope you have a lovely week!