"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

An Early Bird Birthday (And My Longest Ever Post)

I started planning Isla’s birthday when she was 4 months old. The reason… I am not very good at planning parties and I wanted her first birthday to be special and I knew that I would have to put a lot of planning into it to make it good. I know that I have mentioned to this before, and maybe one day I will sit down and write out our infertility story, but there is something about waiting and waiting to get pregnant that makes you want to celebrate every single milestone to the point of ridiculousness! Here is an example:

Me: Nick, do you think it would be too much if we had a projector up showing pictures of Isla’s first year at her first birthday party?

Nick: I think that might be a little much, yes.

Me: So you don’t think I should do it?

Nick (backtracking): I didn’t say that, I just said that I thought it might be a little much.

One of the saddest things that I had to give up when I found out that we were moving to Russia was being able to have a very special first birthday celebration because originally we thought that we would be moving in January. But as our move date got pushed back and pushed back, we started thinking that maybe we could do one just a little bit early! Once we had a set date for the move, my mom and I decided to throw an early birthday for Isla together. I sent out evites since we really only decided 2 weeks ago and there wasn’t time to send out real invitations. I really wanted to use one with an owl since I had already bought Isla’s special birthday dress with owls, but they didn’t have one. I found this one, and I thought that it was cute since we were “early birds” by celebrating her birthday over a month early!

Early Bird

I have to give 100% of the credit to my mom for throwing this together in 2 weeks! She did an incredible job. Cookie is so loved and appreciated by us. She came up with all of the food items, and I would describe her ideas as nothing short of inspired!

  • armaDILLo pickles
  • pulled PORKupine sandwiches
  • BEARclaw potato salad
  • DEERcorn muffins
  • CHIPMUNK potatos (potato chips)
  • RABBIT food
  • BIRDSnest bowls filled with trail mix
  • OWLive deviled eggs

The theme was Woodland Creatures, which blended well with my parents’ place. My mom and dad bought 36 acres in Magnolia, TX when I was in junior high and finally moved out here about 7 years ago. We call it The Thistle Patch! It is also where Nick and I were married, and it is one of my favorite places. I am so happy that we were able to celebrate Isla’s first birthday here. I hope to celebrate almost all of her birthday’s here in the future. There is a beautiful pond where the kids can fish, a Rainbow play set, and a horseshoe pit for some adult fun. It is also where my gazebo resides Smile.

Here are some of the decorations/food that my mom made. The only thing she didn’t make was the cake, which we bought from a local bakery. My dad and Nick made the tree stump cake stand from a tree.


I intentionally tried to keep the guest list small, just family and special friends, but even so, we had a turn out of almost 40 people! We are so blessed to have so many family and friends that love us so much. We asked for NO GIFTS since there was no way to get them to Russia at this point. Even if we hadn’t been moving to Russia, I was seriously planning to ask for people to donate to The Smile Train rather than buy for Isla. Her Cookie and Boo (and Mommy) keep her well supplied with toys and clothing! A few people did bring a couple of small things, and my absolute favorite was a memory book from my Sister-In-Law. I absolutely love it, and I plan to give it a post of its own to do it justice.

Here are just some of our dearest ones!

This is my Nana, and Isla’s namesake. I call her “Big Frances”, even though she is only 4’10’’. Smile


Grandpa Jim! These two are just two peas in a pod. How is it that they managed to make the same expression in both pictures?


Beautiful Boo, and Mema and Papaw too!


Grandpa Wann spent the entire party wearing Isla’s flower bow because of course she ripped it off and he gallantly saved it!


For the record, I bought THREE different owl bows to match her dress off of Etsy, and somehow they all got lost in the move!

Beautiful, beloved friends!


My sis! She’s so beautiful, and by the way she is expecting a BOY. The Thistlethwaites are rejoicing… we just love our little boys (and girls too!).


Sweet Ella… can you believe I didn’t get a single picture of her mama, my dear Emily? Arg!


Me with our Hallie. She and Isla are going to be best friends!


Little Bear. He is such a serious little guy most of the time, so I love this picture of him!


Kendall and Aiden. They are such HAMS!


All of Boo and Grandpa Jim’s parents, children and grandchildren! This picture is special.


Aunt Tiffy and Hallie. Halie is still little enough that her head feels like suede when you touch it!


Birthday Buddies! Uncle Steelie (my brother) and Isla. They are both tax day babies. It took Isla a little while to warm up to Uncle Steelie for some reason. We love him bunches though, and I have a feeling that this is one those pictures we will laugh at when Isla is older.


Fun fishing with Brady and Barrett!


And many more… please note that Uncle Cory (on the left) has been deliberately shunned from getting an individual picture because of all of the intentionally horrible pictures that he took of various family members throughout the day!


My favorite part was the smash cake. Isla did so well! She fell out of her chair before we started because I walked away without thinking to get her smash cake, stupid Mommy. I felt so bad, but she recovered quickly and she didn’t seem phased at all by everyone singing Happy Birthday to her! This was one of those moments that I will treasure forever. I am tearing up just thinking about it right now. I love my little girl with all of my heart, and I loved watching her dig in and have fun and get dirty. We borrowed the cutest wrought iron table and chairs from my niece Kendall, and my mom attached balloons to them. At times, they blew into us, but I still thought that they were cute tied to Isla’s chair.




Barrett decided to come and help Isla out! Tomorrow is his real second birthday and as an experienced birthday boy, he had to show Isla how it was done! I love how intently he’s staring at the cake in this picture.


Kissing cousins Smile. Barrett is the sweetest little boy in the world!

DSC_0844Looks like she had a good time, doesn’t it? Smile



After I got Isla cleaned up and changed into something different, there was still plenty of time for FUN stuff, and I got a few of my favorite pictures of Isla! She did NOT get her own little car. My mom has one that she keeps at her house for my niece and she put it out for the other kiddos to play with. Isla saw it and all of a sudden she was 11 months going on 16! She loved it.

Here she is, leaning against her little hot rod. Is this little girl too cool for school or what?


More Grandpa fun time!


Pawpaw was a no show to the party until late! Everyone kept wondering where he was, until my mom realized that he had fallen asleep in their bedroom and no one had known to wake him! I know that this will be something we laugh about for a long time.


Nick making Hallie laugh! What a special memory that we were able to capture. I am so thankful for our camera.


I love these two! They are my everything. This was part of Isla’s present from Cookie and Pawpaw, a little baby swing. It stays at the Thistle Patch though!


WHOA! Slow down daddy!


There is only one way to sum up the way that I am feeling right now! “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY!” Nicholas and I have been very blessed in our lives, but our greatest blessing is Isla. I am so thankful that God chose us to be her parents, and it was so special to celebrate her with the people we love the most today!




  1. Happy early birthday, baby girl!! Stori, you did a marvelous job with her party!

  2. Happy Early Birthday! I'm so happy you got to have a special first birthday celebration, and I think it might have been a good thing you were limited to two weeks b/c that looks like a pretty extravagent (in a very good way) first birthday party!

  3. Love every part of it! Also, on Jake's invites I added 'no gifts'. If he has one more toy I might scream.

  4. I am so sad that we couldnt make it to the party! :( It looked like so much fun!
    I am also highly jealous of the gorgeous weather you had and that Isla actually touched her cake. Besides a shortbread cookie, I still can't get Avery to eat anything sweet!

  5. Adrienne - I have to give all of the credit to my mom. I only made the food cards at the last minute!

    Melissa - Yah! You are right about the two weeks, even with that I had to reign my mom in.... she wanted to order a petting zoo!

    Cindy - I think that "no gifts" may be a standard for as long as I can get away with it! I can't wait to hear about Jake's birthday party. In Russia, people give gifts to their guests on their birthday, I like that policy!

    Jessica - I wish Avery could pass on her distaste for sweets to ME!

  6. Food is fun :) Isla sure did enjoy that cake!!

    It was wonderful to see you all again before you start on this next chapter of your life. Can't wait to read your upcoming posts!



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