Hailey’s Happy Half- A Confetti Carnival Half Birthday Party

On March 28, Hailey officially became 6 months old! I truly cannot believe how quickly time flew by, but it’s true! I love a good party (surprise surprise!) so I decided to throw Hailey a small (but adorable) half birthday party to mark the occasion. I knew the party had to be cheap, because our budget is a little tight these days. I also knew it had to be simple so my husband wouldn’t get annoyed at me for having an unnecessary party. And I knew it had to be cute, because IT’S ME and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The result was an adorable little party on a budget that any mom can throw for their baby!

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Picking a Half Birthday Party Theme 

The first thing I had to do was pick a theme for the party. I was a bit stumped at first, but I knew I wanted something colorful and maybe with confetti. I browsed Pinterest for ideas, then I looked up the silly holidays and found that March 28 is food on a stick day. My mind instantly went to carnival food like corn dogs, and that’s how the confetti carnival theme came about! I created a mood board for the party (more on that coming to the blog soon!) and I began planning my purchases and menu. 

One of my goals for this party was to not generate a ton of trash afterwards. So, I purchased reusable supplies like the honeycombs instead of balloons. I decided not to use cute patterned paper/plastic plates because we had enough everyday plates for the guests. I also used our turquoise footed glass goblets that we never get to use with company and regular silverware. The only plates I got where these half circle plates because they just fit with the theme wayyyy too well, and I knew there was no way I’d find that affordably for a reusable set. I skipped paper straws altogether because no one really uses them anyway. 

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Carnival Party Crafts 

The good news is that all the fun DIYs that I did will be coming to the blog soon! I wanted to get this party post up before Hailey turned 9 months (or 9 years!) old. Like I said, I kept it simple and only did a few diy projects. I made Hailey a crown to wear with a 1/2 on it which at first seemed a little big but looked pretty cute overall. She wore it comfortably for most of the party! Then, I made a 1/2 cake topper. I had big plans for it with hanging ribbons but it looked funny, and 9pm the night before means you just gotta move on. I kept it simple with just glitter paper and a skewer stick. And lastly, I really wanted to display the photos I’ve been taking of Hailey each month so I made some picture holders! I picked my favorite photo from each month plus one from when she was first born.  It was really amazing being able to capture her growth each month because I can’t believe how big she’s gotten already and it hasn’t even been a year yet! I think I’m going to look back at these with such appreciation.

Psst- I made a baby photography course so that you can learn how to take better baby photos too! Learn more about Dreamy Baby Photography here.

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Carnival Party Decor

I knew I wanted to make a tent (even though it’s more circus than carnival) so I raided my fabric stash and found some tulle that I had bought for my veil, but it was too narrow. I would have preferred something bolder but hey, sometimes you just gotta move on! I also knew I wanted to have balloon animals, so I used these figures I had and put them around the house. Finally, I wanted to add some pizzazz to the party area so I purchased a set of tassel garlands and a pack of honeycombs and lanterns. I made some of the garland tassels thicker and some thinner (2 pieces of tissue paper vs 4) so I was able to make a ton of tassels and hang them up around the party area. I also used the tassels and the honeycombs to decorate the tent and give it more of a carnival feel. I also added my DIY cotton candy garland which is so fun and complimented the theme!

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Carnival Party Menu

You can’t have a party without food! Well, you can but it wouldn’t be as good haha. We decided to keep the menu really simple (and cheap!) with traditional carnival fare. 

Popcorn chicken
Corn dogs
Mexican street corn (elote)
Loaded tot kabobs (recipe here)
Cotton candy
Cake pops
Popcorn
Buffalo wings (brought by family)
Spinach pies (common at Greek fairs!)

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Rainbow Layer Cake 

I decided that I wanted to do a layer cake and make it rainbow. I’ve never made a layer cake before nor a rainbow cake so I was a little worried. But it came out soooo cute! Since it was her half birthday I cut the cake in half, which left the layers out for everyone to see. The cake was actually really easy to make but in case you want a “tutorial”, here’s what I did. I used 2 white cake mix boxes and dyed them using neon McCormick dye. I sprayed the pans with flour spray which helped the cake not to stick to the pan. After they baked and cooled, I took them out of the pans and cut them flat using a long sharp knife. Then, I cut them in half and assembled the cake with a layer of frosting in between. Hailey was too young to eat the cake, but we took some pretty cute photos of her with the cake!

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I mean…. look at that rainbow gorgeous goodness! Not bad for my first attempt at rainbow cake and a layer cake. I served the cake on the half circle plates, because what better to eat half a cake on than half a plate?! Once the cake and dessert was served, Hailey opened a few gifts from my mom. We requested no gifts but she said she had purchased the items months ago and since my parents were moving, she didn’t want to lose them. Fair enough! Most of those toys ended up being some of her favorites.

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Such a fun and simple way to celebrate Hailey’s Half Birthday! Most of those decorations are still up, 2 months later. I love how festive the honeycomb balls and lanterns are! Even the circus tent is still up, although that’s probably due to laziness more than anything else. It’s hard to believe that in less than 4 months, we’ll be celebrating her first birthday. Seriously, where has the time gone and how do I stop it?!

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Well, that’s all folks! I’ve got the individual DIY projects for this party (including the crown and photo holders!) coming to the blog soon, as well as Hailey’s monthly updates. It’s been a little busy around here and sadly I’m slacking on those! Part of me was thinking maybe I shouldn’t bother with them anymore but I think someday I’m going to look back at them longingly so I’m going to keep going! Keep an eye out for the DIY projects and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more behind-the-scenes plus reminders for new posts!

Hailey's 5 & 6 Months Updates

Time has flown by (again!) and I missed an update so here’s a 2 in 1 for ya ;) A lot has happened in the past few months and overall Hailey is a much more alert, vibrant baby than she was before! Let’s see what happened, shall we? 

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Got a Puppy

Perhaps the biggest thing that happened in the last 2 months is that we got a puppy! Lexie joined our family and it’s been madness ever since. But, she and Hailey LOVE each other so it makes it worth it. I’ve got a post about having a puppy AND a baby coming soon, so let me know any specific questions you have about it! It’s funny though, because a few days before we adopted Lexie, we saw another puppy that was a small poodle mix. As soon as Hailey saw me with the puppy, she started to cry! Luckily she got over it really quickly and soon enough she was loving Lexie. 

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Touch your Toes

At 5 months, Hailey started holding her feet and toes which made changing her much easier! Eventually she started eating her toes too, which was pretty funny to watch. She could basically be found with a foot in her mouth at all times!

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Rolling over in secret

This kid- mind of her own I tell ya! John and I would lay her down to try and encourage her to roll over. She came close but never really did it. Then a few times that we left her laying on her back and moved away (like on her play mat in her room and went to grab something, or in her crib) she’d secretly roll over on her own! Now she won’t stop rolling at all. On the floor, your lap, the changing pad... this little lady’s flipping over all day long!

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Crib

We transitioned Hailey into her crib and I mayyyy have cried. We tried to have her sleep in her room but she kept waking up, so we brought her back into our room where she stayed for 2 months! After she started rolling over, she insisted on sleeping on her tummy but then she couldn’t turn back and would cry to get turned.

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Loves tummy time

In an interesting turn of events, Hailey now loves being on her tummy! She’s always flopping over from her back to her tummy so that she can play with stuff. She also loves being laid down on her tummy and looking around the room or trying to move around. She hast quite mastered it yet, but she’s determined!

(Sorta) Sitting up

Hailey’s starting to get the hang of sitting up, but she doesn’t want to do it on her own. She prefers to flip over onto her tummy instead! It’s frustrating because at 3 or 4 months old she was starting to sit up, but then she completed regressed once we got the puppy!

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Playing with the pets

Hailey’s favorite pastime is playing with Lexie. Which is great, because Lexie loves her too! They spend the day making out (I try to separate them but it’s so difficult), and Hailey loves to stick her hand in the puppy’s mouth to get nibbled. If Lexie’s sleeping, Hailey will touch her paws and call to her. It’s the cutest thing. She’s not very gentle but Lexie doesn’t mind at all! I had Hailey and Lexie laying next to each other and Hailey was excited and kicking Lexie in the ribs and face. I made Lexie move to the other side of me so she was safe. She laid down for a minute and decided she wanted to be near Hailey, kicks and all! Hailey’s also trying to get attention from the cats but they’re not quite as interested as Lexie is. Well, except that one time.

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Waking Up Again

Well, I guess the honeymoon had to end sometime. Hailey went from sleeping 12-14 hours in her bassinet to waking up at night in her crib. I had hoped she was just crying because it was new, but she ended up waking up once or sometimes twice a night. It’s made this momma tired! It doesn’t help that it’s also totally random. Some nights she wakes up at 2-4 am hungry. Other nights it’s 4-6:30 am. She usually has a quick snack and goes back to bed so I can’t complain too much!

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Mirror games

Hailey loves to look at herself in the mirror! We like to play “who’s that baby?” I take her over to a mirror and point her out and she gives me a big smile. She also loves selfie mode and it’s resulted in lots of fun smiling pictures of us for daddy while he’s at work. She also loves when I dance with her in front of a mirror!  I either put on a Pandora station, or sing my rendition of “who’s that lady” by the Isley brothers. And it goes “who’s that baby? (Who’s that baby?) Cutesy baby (who’s that baby?). She loves it!

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Singing

Hailey’s been singing a lot more lately and making a ton of noises. She has a wider range of sounds and loves trying to go high pitch and shouting. Then, she looks around for our reactions to make sure we are paying attention to her. It’s really cute!

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I can’t believe how quickly she’s growing. I know I say that every month, but wow is it flying by! She’s becoming such an amazing little person.

Helping The Border Crisis With Dreamy Baby Photography

I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled blog programming to share a special message. Without going into too much detail, since I’m sure all our hearts have had enough, the crisis at the border was weighing on me heavily yesterday. I can’t fathom a situation so horrible that I’d risk my life AND my child’s life so dangerously in the hopes that things would get better. That’s a privilege I am lucky to have. Others are not so lucky. We should not be punishing these people. We should be trying to find ways to help. I hope that if I was ever so desperate to save my child, that things would finally start to look up for me on the other side. 

From today until July 4, I’ll be donating $20 from each sale of my Dreamy Baby Photography course to RAICES. By enrolling, you’ll not only be able to learn to take photos of your own baby, but be able to help a mother reunite with hers. That’s a donation of over 50% of the proceeds. I created this course with the dream of helping mothers. By donating, together we’ll be able to help the mothers that need it the most. 

Instead, these people are met with force and punished, their children taken away from them and not given proper care. There are young children taking care of babies. There are kids without access to nutritional food, clean clothes, a toothbrush or even soap! The list of atrocities seems to keep growing, but I think the fact that children are dying in these conditions should be setting off major alarms for people. This is not ok. None of this ok. 

There isn’t much I can currently do to help, and so I thought about ways in which I could help, even in a minor way. 

From today until July 4, I’ll be donating $20 from each sale of my Dreamy Baby Photography course to RAICES. By enrolling, you’ll not only be able to learn to take photos of your own baby, but be able to help a mother reunite with hers. That’s a donation of over 50% of the proceeds. I created this course with the dream of helping mothers. By donating, together we’ll be able to help the mothers that need it the most. 

By purchasing the course, you’ll be making a $20 donation to help the crisis at the border. To purchase the course, visit this link. If you don’t have a baby but still want to help, you can forward the link to someone that does or share it on social media. If you have the means and want to donate directly to RAICES, click here. I donated $10 last night, but I felt like I wanted to do more. Alternatively, you can donate to Together Rising, who says “Every penny we receive from your personal donation goes to people in need” by clicking here. I saw that most of their donations were only small amounts like $5 but they still managed to raise 2 million dollars!

Disclaimer: Because the donation will be made ASAP, any course refunds during this period will only be for the value of the course minus the donation. The usual donation to March of Dimes will be placed on hold until after July 4. 

Loving your child is universal. It knows no race, religion, or bounds. I’m sure many of us would risk our own lives to save our children, doing anything we could to help them. So please, imagine the torture these families are going through. Parents don’t know where their children are. Children are abandoned and alone, dirty, hungry and crying. We need to help them however we can. Please donate now to help these families in need.

The Dreamy Baby Photography Course is LIVE!

If you’ve been trying to take better photos of your baby…. have I got the perfect thing for you! I’m creating a baby photography course and it’s now available for pre-sale! I’ve been wanting to launch this for several months now and I am so excited that it’s happening! I’ve been working on baby photography since Hailey was born and I know all mommas want better photos of their babes, so I’ve been taking notes so I can teach my ways to you! I’ll also be answering some FAQ below.

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Why did you create this DIY baby photography course?

Great question! When we took Hailey for her newborn photoshoot, it left a lot to be desired. I decided that I wanted to take better photos of her and I wanted to take them more often than just the milestones. So, I started learning more about photography and applying these new skills to taking pictures of the baby!

Will I learn how to take my own newborn photos?

Yes! There’s a module all about newborn photos! I’ll teach you what I learned from taking photos of Hailey plus another newborn session I did! They’re only that tiny once, so it’s important to capture those little details and to do it right the first time.

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Do I need a fancy camera, or can I just use my cell phone?

No matter what equipment you’re using, I’ll show you the basic principles that will take your photography to the next level! If you’re using a fancy camera, I’ll teach you how to get off automatic mode so that you can get the very best pictures possible.

Can I get this for a mother’s day or baby shower gift?

Yes! You can either use the person’s email address to send them the course right away, or use yours and update it once you’re ready to give them the gift. It’s really easy to change the email address by going to your account and updating it.

I’m so busy- will I even have time to learn this stuff?

Yes! One of the very first lessons will show you how to find time to watch these videos. Plus, my system is quick and easy so that you’re only taking a few minutes to set up plus how to find the perfect time of day for ideal lighting. Then, you snap pictures for as long as you want! Editing is quick and easy with my method, which I’ll teach you step by step.

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That picture up there? It’s a cell phone picture I snapped of Hailey in the moment! Nothing fancy was done when I took it- she just looked cute so I snapped a pic. Then I edited it so that it was well-lit and dreamy. Which picture would you rather have- dark and dreary or bright and airy?! I’ll also add that this course will teach you how to edit your photos WITHOUT those fancy presets that get advertised. Instead of putting a band-aid over your photos, I’ll be teaching you how to take better photos AND how to edit all of them to look amazing.

So, don’t dawdle! Head over now to enroll in the course and start taking better photos of your baby today! The course is affordable and for every sale, I’ll be donating $1 to March of Dimes. If you have any other questions, pop them below and I’ll be sure to answer them ASAP!


Gentle Mommy Blogging: Avoiding Accidental Child Exploitation

I was on buzzfeed the other night (spending my time taking useless quizzes) when I stumbled down a rabbit hole and ended up reading several articles about mommy bloggers exploiting their children. This new internet thing we have going on has made all the lines blurry and I’m left wondering if I’m doing the right thing. Being a mom seems to be second-guessing everything you thought you knew, and I’m not about to break tradition. 

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

Let’s backtrack a little bit. Hailey is the light of my life and I absolutely love her. This makes me share about her, a lot. I do monthly updates on the blog and take monthly photos of her (in addition to daily cell phone pics... there are thousands of those already!). I do all this because I love her and I want to have these memories someday. So I can look back at great photos and comment on how tiny she is. I already do this with her newborn photos and 1 month photos, so I can’t imagine how I’ll feel when she’s a teenager. 


I recently did a blog post for a brand where I created some really stinking cute magnets. I dressed Hailey up in pink and red outfits and snapped some adorable pics, which I then printed on magnets. These became the basis of my blog post. After I took the final photos, I giggled and proclaimed to friends via text that Hailey was a model. But... do I want my daughter to be a model? I don’t know. I can’t say I do in the traditional sense, but is it different when I’m the one behind the camera, making the decisions? Is she safer that way? There’s no real answer to that question. 

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

I find myself now exploring the line between “loving mother” and “exploitative mommy blogger”. At what point does my desire to share her pictures and stories cross the line into embarrassing TMI? How do I avoid inadvertently exploiting my child, when all I want to do is share her with the world? The answer could be simple- don’t share her in any commercial capacity. Or don’t share her at all. But how can I hide such an important part of my life? Is it ok to have her join me in campaigns for a “mommy and me”, business edition? Is it ok only when my husband agrees? Is it acceptable only if I pay her for her work? I don’t really know. 

My job as her mom, first and foremost, is to protect her. In this crazy, fucked up world, do we as parents need to be more careful with our children on social media? We aren’t talking about sharing a story with a friendly old lady at the park, or your mom telling her neighbor the funny thing your kid did. We’re talking full-on photos and video (with commentary) being shared to that guy you went to college with and never speak to anymore. And that former coworker from 2 jobs ago that you barely know. And the chick you befriended at a bar 4 years back that posts funny memes. Are these strangers (let’s call them what they are!) people we really want to know all about our children? Or, more importantly, does it matter that they see it, or is it fine since they just scroll on past your pics because they probably don’t care anyway? 

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

When I think about what I want for my child, some days I feel like it’s the opposite of what I’m doing. That whole “practice what you preach” thing is going out the window. I don’t want her to be obsessed with her looks and yet I dress us both up for photos. I don’t want her to be obsessed with screen time and yet all I do is watch tv. I want her to have face-to-face interaction in a world full of likes and LOLs, and yet I spend most of my time on my phone. I try to create a balance, but it’s hard to know where the line is between laying a good foundation and crazy, neurotic new-age mom.

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

Those articles didn’t open my eyes to these things, because I was already thinking it. They just forced me to confront my thoughts finally. In reading these scary articles, it caused me to see a tiny sliver of myself in these people. I couldn’t judge them too harshly because I understood what they were saying. What they were actually saying... not what the articles were trying to vilify them for. 

Using your child for your social media business is a double edged sword. On the one hand, you’re using your child to gain an income. But on the other hand, in doing so, you’re able to provide them with things they might not be able to have otherwise. I’m not talking about free swag, money for vacations, or even a nice home. I’m talking about quality time with them instead of hiring a nanny or putting them in daycare, showing them how you work hard to run your business, and being available at a moment’s notice for them because your flexible schedule allows it. These are things that most traditional jobs do not provide us. 

If it wasn’t for my efforts on my blog, being at home with Hailey would be absolutely out of the question. We cannot afford it, period. She most likely would be in daycare (at least part time) since both my mom and mother-in-law work. She wouldn’t be waking up to my face every after nap, breastfeeding for every meal, and hearing me sing terribly to her just for a smile. Someday I’ll tell her about how I spent all day playing with her with tears in my eyes full of joy, and then after she went to bed spent an hour feeling happy that I had a break, then would immediately miss her and look at her photos. I’ll tell her all about how I had tears in my eyes at night once again, as I worked from 10pm to 2 or 3 am. All the while looking at her photo and telling her I’m doing this for her. Telling her I KNOW I can do this. 

When you’re learning how to become a mommy blogger, how do you avoid accidentally exploiting your kids for likes? I’ve got some advice on kids and social media, plus some questions to ask yourself. Click to see how to protect your children from yourself. #mommyblogger #momblogs

So you tell me- where does the line get drawn? How do I know I’m doing right by my child? The area is gray and I don’t want to open myself up to hatred and extreme criticism, but I genuinely want to know what people think about this. How do you share your children on social media? Perhaps through kind discussions, we can find the safe middle ground for all our children that doesn’t scar them for life.