Top five things to keep in mind when planning a first birthday party

Birthday cake is happiness at any age.

Birthday cake is happiness at any age.

Ah, the first birthday party. It’s a tone-setter, a significant moment in your life, in the grandparents’ lives, even in your friends’ lives. It says – look at us, we made it through year one! It’s a celebration of the triumph over sleep loss, stained clothing, and insane childcare bills. It’s that opportunity you have to breath for a second because your child is just mobile enough for you to be excited and want more, but not yet at full capacity so you can actually enjoy a sip of coffee again. (Don’t get too excited, that only lasts about one day.)

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A great dyi gift idea for toddlers

Fun, colorful and a great tool for helping the little tikes learn about local birds.

Fun, colorful and a great tool for helping the little tikes learn about local birds.

It’s a jungle out there folks. And no, I’m not talking about the wooded trails this time. I’m talking about the adventure that is trying to find just the right toy for the toddler in your life.

While it’s fun to shop and even more fun to play with the prospective toys, it is overwhelming to make a decision on what to give. Did you know if you search for ‘toys for toddlers’, you’ll get 60,996 results? That’s a lot of options to choose from! Then, there are the questions you start to ask yourself as you walk through the aisles or navigate the websites: Does the child already have this? Are they ahead in their development? Are the parents OK with plastic? So I got to thinking, there must be something I can do that didn’t make my head spin. And there was — birdhouses!

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By the Belly of the Baby

Our hiking family

Our hiking family.

Have you ever asked yourself where the phrase “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” comes from? I hadn’t given it much thought until recently when I discovered the answer.

It comes from when those men are 10-month old babies eating you out of house and home and wearing 2T size clothing.

Despite this information, we knowingly ventured out into the wild for a family hike. We packed the little guy’s belly full of breakfast, loaded the car up with all of the essentials — including the fabulous Aunt C who was visiting — and headed out to explore the Potomac Heritage Trail on a chilled fall morning.

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Our Summer of Neighborhood Hikes

Heading out!

Heading out! See below for the complete set of summer neighborhood hikes.

As you may have noticed, our hiking routine has slowed way down over the last two months. It’s not for lack of trying, or a desire to be inside that we found ourselves limiting hikes to closer to the house (although with some 100+ degree days, our motivation did wane for the sake of AC), it’s an ever-changing lifestyle called being a family with a six-to-nine month old.

Shocking as it may seem, babies apparently change quite often during their first year. They take you from – “Look honey he’s sitting up on his own!” to “He’s so advanced he’s already crawling!” to “Why can’t we go back to when he stayed still and was fascinated by his own hand?”

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Acadia, Maine – The Adult-Only Trip That Revived Us!

Our first morning hike - Joshua Pond.

Our first morning hike: Joshua Pond. See more pics below!

I know what you’re thinking – on a blog about hiking with a baby, why is she highlighting the greatness about hiking without one? Well, I’ll tell you why, because it’s just as hard.

Growing up, when I’d roll my eyes at my mom about some ‘dripping with love’ statement she’d make, she’d say, “Just wait, you’ll understand how much I love you when you have children of your own.”

Never was that more true, than when my husband and I said good-bye to our son for our first nights away from him to hike the outrageously beautiful mountains of northern Maine.

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