Custom Gifts

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One of the most fun things I get to do with this mini-business / hobby is hear when people have something exciting going on in their lives.  My girlfriend called the other day because a new baby had been born in her family!  She wanted to celebrate the birth by giving a gift to her nieces when she goes to visit next week.  She asked if I could help and we came up with a plan.  The new sisters share a letter, both of their first names start with “H”.  We decided to make them a coordinating t-shirt and onesie combination with a big “H” for big sister and little “h” for baby.

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I love how they turned out and I hope that the girls enjoy sporting their special letter around town.  Sisters get to share so much – how fun that they also share a letter!  This gift will look fantastic in pictures with the new baby.  I love that it celebrates both the family’s new addition and also big sister’s new role!

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Remember that Poole Party Designs is happy to work with you on special projects and gifts.  If we can help you come up with the perfect gift for a special someone in your life, that makes our day!  Hopefully it makes your life easier too…

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On another note, the blog has a new look!  Spring is around the corner and the blog needed some freshening up!  I am still working out some kinks, so please excuse me while we transition!  I love hearing your comments, so feel free to let me know your thoughts on the new format!

Love Note to Our Nanny

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About a year ago, life changed in a big way for our family.  No, I am not talking about the birth of our daughter… well, one thing led to another, I suppose.  No, I am talking about the addition of a nanny to our family unit.

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While pregnant with Tatum, it was clear to me that if another chickadee was going to join the nest, this mama needed some help!  Still, I was reluctant to ask for assistance, and even more reluctant to really want another person floating around in our midst.  Although this person was only going to work part-time for us, being a stay-at-home mom, I realized I would need to like this individual, as well as respect him or her.

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As a first step, we enlisted the help of a tried and true nanny placement service to help us find our very own Mary Poppins.  We went about our search, meeting various people who looked great on paper, realizing that no matter how great someone’s resume was, we were looking for someone who would just “click” with our family.  I had been advised by a veteran-nanny-searching-parent that “with the right person, it won’t feel strange to have someone in your home”.  So, like finding a mate, chemistry obviously plays a big part in finding a nanny.  After a few missed connections with nannies from the service, I began to wonder if we would, in fact, find someone.  Already the baby was born and we were still searching with no great leads on the horizon… Then, as luck or fate would have it, the perfect person fell into our life at the perfect time.  We spent a few weeks gingerly feeling around the edges of this new relationship, wondering if this person might like us as much as we liked her.  Thankfully, the rest is history.

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Dear Andrea,

We think you are wonderful and feel so lucky to know you.  Thank you for all that you do to keep our family moving forward.  You are flexible and kind and have mixed right into our chaos.  You add order to our mess and fun to our routine.  Because of you, I know my way around our ironing board (whereas before I didn’t even know where it was).  Our laundry is washed, folded, and put away (often on the same day)!  You are the extra set of hands that allow me to hold my baby and not feel guilty that the dishes haven’t been done.  You are the board that I bounce ideas off of and you keep me accountable with all the projects I take on.  Your refreshingly frank nature means that you usually mention if you think my methods could use a little tweaking.  You are teaching me that it is okay to ask for help.  I trust, respect, and like you… The kids love you.  We love you.  Thank you.  You don’t know how much this means to our family.

Love, The Poole Family

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This has been a pivotal year for all of us.  It speaks to growth, change, and adaptability.  Our family is larger now, not by one, but by two.  This is not a forever situation.  There will come a day (sooner than I would like), when our nanny will move on with her own life.  The relationship will change, but my hope is that she will stay a part of our family.  By total chance, we found someone who has grown to love us as much as we love her.  We feel so lucky.

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What a Difference a Year Makes

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This week my baby turned one.  Her birthday coincides with the the New Year holiday; a time for fresh starts, moving forward, and reflection.

I find that I am always sentimental during the first anniversary of the days, hours, and minutes before any of my baby’s births.  I think about what we were doing “at this time last year.”  I try to imagine the impossibility of what it felt like not to have met the little person we have spent the last year loving.  I think of my labor and when the contractions started.  Were we at the hospital?  Were we at home still?  Was Nana here yet to take care of the boys?  I have been blessed with straightforward, lovely births, so this reminiscing evokes a feeling of love and empowerment (I know that I am lucky on this front).  These memories are something I treasure as a gift my children have given me.  I never knew I could be so strong as during the births of my children.  My last baby has just turned one and is moving out of babyhood.  She walks and climbs and is beginning to talk.  As I say goodbye to the birth chapter of life, it is with bittersweet feelings.  I hope to carry with me the strength I experienced in birth into my future adventures.

2012 draws to a close and I am struck by how different life feels this year versus last.  Last year we were in love with our newborn, wondering how we would get through the first days, let alone the year, as a family of five.  I think about how we were closer with some friends and alternatively more distanced from some family.  Poole Party of 5 did not exist.  We didn’t know who our next president would be.  What a difference a year makes…  I grew up with a phrase that my mom would tell me in times of discord.  She would say, “Make friends with change.”  Of course there is not a much truer sentiment, yet it drove me crazy.  Nothing stays the same.  We know this in our heads, but I believe it is harder for our hearts to accept.  I friend recently said, “Think back five years to what your life was…”  Well, we had a 6-month old little boy that we loved deeply, but were still getting to know.  We lived in a different house, in a different city.  We didn’t know what our family would become, or who our little guy would be.  One year is a blink.  Five years is a deep breath in and out…

While I was in labor with Tatum last year, the song playing on the iPod when she was born was “One Day” by Matisyahu.  It is such a powerful message for peace.  I love the imagery of my baby entering the world with such a hopeful message.  (I have linked to the video and copied the first verse lyrics below.)

Video Link (click here)

sometimes I lay
under the moon
and thank God I’m breathing
then I pray
don’t take me soon
cause I am here for a reason
sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
so when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
because
all my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
there’ll be no more wars
and our children will play
one day (x6)

As much as things change, we do have elements that continue, unmarred by the date on the calendar.  My wish for the future is peace and a time when “there’ll be no more wars / and our children will play”.  I don’t know if this will happen in my lifetime, but maybe in our children’s lifetimes.  I still wonder why I am here, but I know that one of my purposes was to be a mom.  To love my children and my husband with all that I have.  To give forgiveness when someone hurts me and to try not to do harm to others.  I’m not big on New Year resolutions; every year they are the same – dental floss more and exercise more.  But maybe a hope for peace is good too.

A Holiday Pledge

I vow to slow down and stay in the moment.

I will do my best not to obsess over silly things.

I pledge to remember what is important (family, friends, health, joy)

I will continue to do things that help me to feel healthy and good (run, yoga, walks, ____).

I will set reasonable expectations for myself (and others).

I will not freak out if I forget to move the Elf on the Shelf.

If I feel anxious, I will take a deep breath.

I can feel my heart rate rising…  There is too much to do!  I am simultaneously excited and overwhelmed by the approaching holiday season.  I love Christmas.  I love wrapping packages.  I love all the little signs of the season; eggnog lattes, gingerbread houses, cutting out snowflakes (or happy little trees) for our windows… “Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things.”

I also will admit that I feel challenged by it.  Overspending and differing priorities and historical baggage, Oh My!  I become a bit of a perfectionist at this time of year and put pressure on myself to make things just so.  Growing up, I imagined a time when I would get to decide what Christmas would look like for my own family.  I dreamed of incorporating my historical traditions with what my husband-to-be knew and we would define our own values and traditions, specific to our family.  This was not as simple just deciding what the holidays would look like in the mind’s eye.  We’ve spent the last ten years figuring out this dance with varying levels of success; working to get the steps just right, incorporating family traditions that feel good to all of us, some from our past and some completely new.  And I think we’re getting there!

Ironically, the event that has both put Christmas into perspective and simultaneously turned it on its ear was our daughter’s birth last year, two days after Christmas.  Our baby was due December 30th and I was convinced that she would come early.  Absolutely convinced.  The beginning of December was busy with the knowledge that she would arrive eventually and when it happened our plans would go out the window (or at least switch to Plan B, C, or D).  The nutcracker ballet, santa pictures, preschool holiday performance, and holiday parties all happened amidst many a contraction, but without a hitch.  Gifts were purchased and wrapped weeks before Christmas.  Jam was made in the summer to be gifted to family and friends… and at some point after all that, I realized it just didn’t matter.  Each day would begin and I would think, “Will she arrive today?  How will I feel if I don’t get ___ done?”  It turned out that all that mattered was that our family was together and we were expecting a new member to arrive at any moment.  We were freed from the feeling that events were mandatory, which in turn made them more fun!  We realized that life would go on.  Christmas would happen whether we were “ready” or not.  All that truly existed was enjoying each other’s company and letting other people know that we care about them too.  I guess that could be said for the rest of the year too, but there is something heightened during this time.  Do you feel it?  Do you obsess over how many cookies you must bake or what to buy for Aunt Tilly?  I know that there is something universally wonderful about this season and also for many, something tough.  Perhaps because, like vacations that are photographed and photographed, the holidays are memorable.  They are differentiated from the rest of the year by rituals that are done over and over again in a special way.  As it turned out, we were able to do all the holiday things we wanted to, enjoy Christmas with our boys, and then welcome our daughter into the world.

For us, the holidays now mean something new.  They mean the beginning of life for our littlest.  What I learned last year and hope to carry with me in the years to come is the following.  Sure, it is fun to give and receive gifts.  Of course, it is great to celebrate the season with special events and dress up clothes.  But, the true holiday spirit comes from looking around and appreciating the life we have, the people we love, and that we are all here together.  And that feeling doesn’t evaporate when you look at your credit card bill in January.

Note:  I have waited a few days to publish this because I have been feeling too distracted by my “To Do” lists, and this felt ironic.  Too ironic.  I have been feeling overwhelmed.  This is not entirely due to the holidays, but also for the planning of my baby’s first birthday!  Deep breath, Poole.  Relax.  Obviously we all go through moments of craziness.  I know that I am not alone in this… but in our best selves and in our best moments, maybe it is possible to keep a little perspective and laugh when things are ironic!

Make It Personal

When my second son was born, my favorite presents were those that differentiated his arrival from his older brother’s.  Having been through it once, we already had all the equipment, clothes, and “stuff” we needed and the correct gender to boot.  I loved receiving things that were personalized for him.  Whether it was a name or a letter, I found this gesture of individual recognition to be so very thoughtful.  I have kept that sentiment in mind to this day.  Often, when I give a gift to a family that already has one child, I try to personalize it.  It is nice to recognize those older sibs as well!

The “letter” and “number” shirts have arrived!  Simple cut.  Clean lines.  Gotta have ’em.

American Apparel 3/4 sleeve, personalized, raglan tees.  Now available for the big kids!  Poly-Cotton construction.  Durable rib neckband.  Available in sizes 2-8.  The perfect gift for big brother or sister.  Great for birthday parties and sibling photos.  An ideal tool for teaching letter and number recognition!  Start your engines and get ready to be a monogram trendsetter at school!  Head over to Poole Party Designs to start shopping the new collection!

Warm Welcome

Welcome, Baby B.

My good friend, M, is approaching the due date of her third daughter.  All her ducks are in a row and now she is waiting for baby’s arrival, just a few weeks away.  Since she has all the material things she needs, one might think that a shower is superfluous, but I disagree.  The birth of any baby changes things forever for a family.  They go from a “family-of-four” to a “family-of-five” and things will never, ever be the same.  As I mentioned in a previous post (Nervous), this “time in waiting” is unlike any other before or after.  A tension exists between the appreciation of what has been and the excitement of what will be.  The beauty of the family that is, with that which is unknown.

When approaching the birth of my third baby, all I wanted was time to be with women close to me and a moment to celebrate my baby.  Life can be such chaos that I found carving out a space to be present with baby the hardest thing of all.  Friends hosted a luncheon for me and it was so lovely.  It was exactly what I wanted.  I wanted to be able to do the same thing for M.  Although she may not need more onesies, she probably does need her friends and family more than ever and a space to enjoy her baby.

We met at The Pink Door and had a fabulous evening.  Mother Nature cooperated and delivered a gorgeous sunset.  The food was artfully done and delicious to boot.  I tried for all things feminine with lots of flowers and included a faux flower for each lady to wear however she chose.  Everyone looked festive and feminine.  M, you are so special.  I hope you know how much you and Baby B are loved!

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Nervous.

Nervous.  Excited.  Scared.  Exhilaration.  Anticipation.  LOVE.  Prepared.  Unprepared.  Beginning.   End.  Change.  LOVE.  Curiosity.  Strength.  Confidence.  Trust.  Wonder.  Miracle.  Joy.  LOVE.

BABY.

My dear friend will hold her first baby in her arms in a matter of hours.  What a profound moment in time this is.  How can one even describe all of the emotions that exist at once.  What will it be like?  Will I be good enough?  Who is this kid?  Thinking back to our births, I realize how very special it is.  The precipice.  The brink.  A blip in time… Transformed in a push and then onto an entirely new adventure.

The fantasy of the imagined changed into the beautiful reality of your baby.

The body has a way of distracting us from these thoughts to move us towards the future.  Pain has a way of limiting introspection at times.  I am living vicariously through this couple that has so much ahead of them.  Their birth story is yet to be.

Wishing you an experience that is all yours… We can’t wait to meet you, Baby.

LOVE.