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My daughter just turned one on the 29th of June, so of course I went all out on decorating despite us only inviting a small group of close friends and family. As soon as I learned that Covid-19 restrictions were starting to lift some in my area and that having a small get together was an actual possibility I started searching my Pinterest boards for what I could accomplish in under a month.


First thing to do was decide a theme, and it was between "One in a Melon" or roses... I opted for roses as soon as I discovered that Jacee didn't like watermelons at the time. After browsing multiple rose themed first birthday ideas, I realized that not only would she need a cake smash, but a backdrop to go with it. I fell in love with the idea and looks of a balloon arch, and decided to combine multiple ideas to create the finished product. For Jacee's high chair, I created a tutu out of tulle, twine, and fake flowers with a cardstock "one" as a finishing touch.


Second thing to do was to decide what to do for the party appetizers/dessert. My wonderful mom made a number one out of beautiful cupcake roses which she baked from a mix, and I found some pretty cupcake liners to put them in!


For the final finishing touches I found beautiful floral wrapping paper for Jacee's presents, some tissue pom-poms, and a photo album to hold all of the photos of Jacee from the past year (Pioneer Photo Albums have made a forever customer of me with all the different colors they offer plus different sizes). I also decided to make good use of my Cricut Explore Air 2 by creating a "Happy Birthday" banner out of construction paper, sewing thread, and purple paper fasteners.


Today's tutorial is on how to make the balloon arch.



Balloon Arch Instructions:


To create the balloon arch, you'll need a balloon strip, around one-hundred latex balloons, string, command hooks, a number balloon, and artificial flowers and leaves. There's an awesome kit on Amazon here that has everything except for the hooks and flowers!



When you use the balloon strip, it makes the arch pretty simple to make: after blowing up the balloons you slip the lip of the balloon into the holes along the strip. I tried to do this in alternating colors for the most part, but with more purple than any other colors they will sometimes end up next to each other.



I found that to get the arch as dense as I wanted sometimes I would tie two balloons together before putting them in a hole. Once I had the arch halfway put together I attached it to the wall with the string and hooks horizontally. This enabled me to work vertically from the top to the bottom when finishing the second half.


Once the balloon arch itself was finished, I attached the number one balloon and then the flowers and leaves.


And voila! An easy, beautiful balloon arch with minimal effort!


Be watching for my next tutorial on creating the "Happy Birthday" banner that includes a free svg file!

My adult life seems to have an ever present theme that didn't even come to the forefront of my brain until one of the pastors at my church made it the theme of his sermon: "Let Go and Let God". At the time this phrase definitely stood out to me, but I didn't think much more of it considering one of my spiritual gifts is faith, plus I had witnessed this theme in my life already during my freshman year of college (I had let go of the idea of being married someday and a few months later God gave me my husband). Surely God wouldn't put one of my spiritual gifts to the test... right?... Wrong.


Getting pregnant was no challenge for my faith; heck, both getting married and then three years later being pregnant were in "my timeline" for "my life" that I hoped I would get, but didn't really care if it was a year or two off. God was super generous and let me get married and be pregnant in the years of life that I wanted: 21 and 25. The last few days of pregnancy were the hard part; and the part that made me realize how much of a control freak I really am.


The due date of June 24th was obviously an approximation of when our little girl would arrive, and yet as that day passed with no signs of early labor contractions I still found myself to be slightly discouraged. I really didn't want our bundle of joy to arrive at the same time as my in-laws, and I certainly didn't want her to arrive on July 4th, so the stress began to hit me of "When will I start to feel those contractions that signal she's coming soon?". It wasn't until the day I let go and let God on June 28th that my contractions started.


That Friday morning I prayed that our baby would arrive before July; but that if that wasn't what He had planned, that His will would be done. Later that day we had a scheduled ultrasound and stress test, seeing that we were a few days late from the approximate due date. During the ultrasound the tech discovered that there was the bare minimum of the amount of amniotic fluid for our baby to survive in the womb. Shortly after, during the stress test that puts both a fetal heartbeat monitor and a contraction monitor on my stomach, my OB comes in to inform us about the amniotic fluid situation, and that based off of the stress test we were in the middle of I was actually having contractions! She then felt to see how dilated I was, and it turned out I was 4 cm, so she admitted us to the hospital right away, with the disclaimer that we can run home first to get last minute items (me being the control freak that I am though, our items were already all in the car, so we just ran home to update my parents and grab a bite to eat). The next morning, they manually broke my water, and at 9:59 pm our beautiful, strong little girl made her debut into the world at 9 lb. 5.5 oz and 19 inches long, with a head circumference of 14 inches.


The following week and a half were the most challenging part for my faith. Everything about our daughter was completely perfect; she barely even had any of the many newborn rashes they can get... Me on the other hand, and this is where I go a little T.M.I about postpartum recovery information, had two hemorrhoids, constipation, and the inability to pee on my own on top of the usual recovery things like the ab cramps, the pain of the stitches, and the menstrual cycle like bleeding. We were still able to go home on July 1st despite my issues, but the recovery process was proving to be a lot more painful, aggravating, and soul crushing than I had anticipated.


Because of my inability to pee on my own, they sent me home with a catheter, which if you don't know, is "a flexible tube inserted through a narrow opening into a body cavity, particularly the bladder, for removing fluid" according to Google. Multiple times in the next week and a half I had to go through the humiliating, discouraging process of going to an appointment to get the catheter removed, failing to pee at the health center, being sent home for a few hours to try there, and then going back to have the catheter put back in. I was so frustrated that I couldn't trust my body to do what it's supposed to be able to do naturally, and so instead of having faith that God would fix this in His due timing, I cried and felt miserable for myself, feeling like I had a possibly permanent disability.


The final time that the catheter would be removed (if I failed to pee after this time, I would get sent home with a temporary one that I could insert myself whenever I felt the urge, and then I would see physical therapy) I sat on the all to familiar exam table and finally prayed. I prayed in the format that our church had just taught us a few months ago: thanking Him for my body's natural ability to pee and for our baby girl, asking Him for forgiveness for not trusting His plan and having a lack of faith, asking Him to please let me be able to pee on my own that day, and then finally adding that His Will be done in whatever happens. At last, after letting go and letting God, I was able to pee on my own multiple times that day, and my hope and faith were restored. The hard part of postpartum recovery was over, and it would be all down hill from here. Only because I "Let Go, and Let God".


All glory to Him.



Once the catheter was removed, I finally felt like myself again, and I was able to take the first of many photos to come of my husband and I's beautiful little girl:




As autumn nears its end, and winter draws near hand in hand with all the holiday magic, I'm reflecting on the wonderful fall I had with loved ones, and all the memories we shared.

My favorite memory (like most years) was the pumpkin patch in all it's harvest glory paired with my best friend and her cute baby bump!




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© 2019 by Janessa Martin

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Southern Oregon Photographer in Grants Pass, Oregon

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