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Coming 2016

ashley cardoza

Hey there readers: 

Thanks for finding our little blog. We've totally let it fall through the cracks since MAY! Crazy how motherhood, life, jobs, etc get in the way of fun projects. Starting in 2016, I (Ashley) will be refocusing, redesigning, and restructuring this blog. I've been dreaming and scheming up posts and where this little Dress Your Kid blog will go for the future. I've also been expecting baby girl #2 (due anytime around Christmas and New Years), so that has been a fun life thing going on! 

Thank you for sticking with us, if you have! 

xo Ashley 

Co-Parenting: An Uexpected Guide in 5 Steps

Chelsea Nelson


By Guest Blogger, Candice Baker
Salt Lake City, Utah

Here is the thing.

Being a single parent, although extremely difficult and lonely at times, is still just being a parent.

The level of parenting you put in is the same, and yes, you are the only one around to handle the children when they are in your care. Various tones are heard from those around you: “wow, I don’t know how you do it all, I barely get by and have my husband to take over”, or “you must get so much done when you don’t have the kids with you.”

And while some of this is true, from where I am sitting, I am always a parent.

Two years post-divorce and I do feel like I’m in the best spot I have been since it all went down. Since really, ever. My kids are developing at a pace I am enjoying and they have had minimal turmoil and issues arise. I am blessed and feel so every day for the amazing children that my marriage granted me. I wouldn’t take any of it back. Now, some reading this may not be at this point yet, and what I want to say to you is “You WILL get to a more comfortable spot.”

Or, maybe you are even more comfortable than me -- and to that, my utmost respect and applause, because for God’s sake, I know it wasn’t as easy as you made it look.

Part of me always likes clarifying statements, so here it is. The list of suggestions I am about to lay before you are merely that: suggestions. Life is not one-size-fits-all, so neither is this. Just a few tidbits about parenting as a non-coupled human that I have picked up along the way, although I think much of it is pretty much relevant if you have young-uns, or are a human.

1) Let go of the guilt – It will rear its ugly head long after you feel you’ve dealt with it, and when it does, letting it pass can sound easier than it seems. There are too many emotions that can hold on and create wasted effort if we do not simply feel it, and then send it on its way. Things that WE HOLD ON TO AS GUILT -- like guilt about not being there for every holiday (since they will be with their other parent for some, and some major ones) can be difficult. Which is really a great segway to the next tip.

2) YOU create the memories, not the holiday – Before I was parenting as a single person, Christmas was one of the holidays that was done up. During mediation, we discussed that we could celebrate together while the kids were young so neither parent had to miss out on the magic of Christmas morning. That lasted exactly 1 Christmas. Life moves on and ideas are continually changing about holidays. One of the many cool things about becoming an adult and a parent is that you get to decide what the traditions are. Of course, there are a few key things I have kept even as I celebrated Christmas a day early with my kids this year. We actually celebrated for about five days, so we more than made up for it.

3) But… Don’t feel like you have to make up for things – Haha! Life can’t always be made up. Kids will learn that you are there for them, as over time you show up more than not. They have endless amounts of love to give and will show it to you. You also, especially if you are still reading this, are a good parent who tries, because you are online reading about parenting. Always be honest that you are doing the best that you can and lose the effing comparisons. (As Chelsea has said “no mommy shaming”, and no parenting shaming allowed.)

4) Integrate your kids into your new life – This one has been a little tricky for me. Many of the new friends I initially made were a young, single lot, who liked to party. Not exactly a kid-friendly environment – but as A 50/50 situation allows, that time was for me. There were times I wouldn’t attend get-togethers because I had my kids, but overtime, as I could delineate what the occasion would entail, I would pop-in, kids in tow, and we all had a good time. Albeit a short visit, versus a full on rager. But it was nice to be able to incorporate both worlds. Although some of those friends and party times have gone by the way side, the lessons learned have stuck – my kids are my life and anyone who is going to be a part of it will welcome them as needed (and always as appropriate).

5) Keep up on you – Despite the 50/50 situation, there are times, while with the kids, your attention has to be given to yourself. Learning to listen to what you need amidst the tantrums and full-time demands the kids make it hard but, if you need a break, take one. When I was able to recognize that taking time out for me, actually provides better parenting to them, was a huge eye opener. Even if that means getting a sitter – because guess what – most kids have baby sitter while growing up at one point or another.

As we navigate the tricky roads of parenthood, relying on yourself can feel overwhelming as it relates to single-parenthood. The good news is you really don’t have to. Even as artificial as the online support system may seem, or as much as we don’t want to bother those around us by asking for help, that is what they are there for. People love and care about us as the parents of these amazing beings as much as they love those amazing beings themselves. Keep your eyes out and you will find the support system best fit for you.

You got this.

Clementine's Golden First Birthday!

Chelsea Nelson

Well, now we have BOTH of our kiddo's first birthdays out of the way! Whew! What a whirlwind of emotion and events. It was epic, but I am glad we are moving on.

Clementine turned one on April 28 - just five days after Ellis. So, both Dress Your Kid mommas were in the throes of it. Ashley and I went back and forth on lots of ideas - and it is funny that we had so many similar components to our parties. But there were a few big differences!

Our venue was supposed to be the park: Picnic in the Park - with a Golden Birthday theme. However, when we were looking at a 80% chance of rain in Salt Lake City, we decided last minute, to move the party to our home. I wasn't sure how we were going to fit 40 ish people in our house, but after moving some furniture and opening the garage for seating, it all turned out ok. We ended up setting up different stations in different rooms, and it all worked out! Note: do not freak out over these things - IT ALL WORKS OUT! My only regret: I wish we had gotten photos of everyone that attended, especially all the kiddos. There were so many fun little people running around!

We also chose not to have professional photos taken at the party because we had a first birthday photo shoot a few weeks prior. So, these photos are mostly from everyone's phones! I am fine with it though, because I got to live the party, rather than viewing it from behind my camera. Stay tuned for Clementine's first birthday photo shoot in another post coming soon!


Party Details:

Theme: Golden Birthday (gold and black with pink accents, vintage flair, arrows, flag banners).

Smash Cake and Cupcakes: Cupcakes by Kasthuri - all organic and low sugar. Local baker in Salt Lake City.

Cupcake Toppers: Ashley sent me the arrow toppers by mail (thank you!), and the pink flag toppers were purchased at Michaels Crafts and then accented with gold pen.

Memory Book Table: In lieu of gifts, we asked people to come prepared with a memory, photo, or words of wisdom for our birthday girl. People really jumped the challenge and her book was completely filled with all of these things! It was the best thing that we did and she will have that book to look at for the rest of her life. I had the book handmade and custom ordered.

Food: I did not want to worry about cooking anything, so we catered -- Boars Head sandwiches and veggie tray from Harmons Local Grocer. My mom made her famous potato and macaroni salads and we had individual chip bags. We also had a huge carafe of mimosas for the parents, a cooler full of kid's drinks for the kids, donuts, and cupcakes.

Activities: Since we weren't at the park as planned, we ended up making a table for the kids with coloring books and bubbles. We also had a bubble machine, which was a huge hit! The kids danced around the bubbles for hours.

Decor: I crafted NONE of it. Ashley sent me those few items, but the rest were purchased - mostly from Zurchers and Michaels Crafts. I had to really look to find elements that weren't cheesy or too themed. I ended up finding a section of vintage-themed party stuff, and that was perfect. The beautiful glittered "Clementine" sign and round patterned vintage party fans were my favorites. I also loved the arrow light that added a special flair to the memory book table (similar to this one here).

Clementine's Outfit: Purchased on Esty, Sweetly Carolina Shop - two tunics with golden "ONE" on them. One black (that we used for the professional photos), and the white one she wore at her party. We had to put a onesie on underneath due to the colder weather, but the Willow Crown headband really made the outfit (gifted from Ashely and Ellis).

Venue: our little home - and it was perfect!

Happy birthday to my little human. You are the best thing.

So you wanna eat a Smash Cake?!

ashley cardoza

When planning for my little girl's smash cake session, I went back and forth between wanting something super fun, trendy, or her Teepee. What I really wanted was something classic & dramatic. Then I remembered this spot in a place that has tons of meaning & history. I had my wedding day photos taken in this same exact spot. I can't wait to bring Ellis back to this place and take photos of her in a white dress. 

There is something so sweet about watching your kiddo enjoy cake. Its fun, it's messy, and you just are at the mercy of sugar paste all over your kid. While my first instinct as a photographer is to tell you to hire someone to take the photos, I know thats not in everyone's budget (especially if you own a nice dslr that you wanted to have to capture all your baby's years). Here are a few tips for a sweet smash cake session (this is before or after the party):

  • Time of Day: Choose what works best for nap schedules! Nothing is worse than an unhappy kiddo eating cake. Also, pay attention to natural light. 
  • Location: Unless the temperature is perfect (not freezing and not hot) find a climate controlled space. Too cold, your kiddo will be cold and the frosting won't be fluffy, too hot, and it will be a melty mess. If you want to put a blanket down, just know that the risk of tripping/slipping is higher. If anything, find a clear floor space (thats easy to clean) and an empty wall. 
  • The Cake: Make sure the cake is as soft and fresh as possible. If the cake is still frozen/firm from the fridge/freezer, you won't get the smeary goodness you are looking for. If you are having it made for you, make sure to get some great photos of it before little one destroys it. Take lots of photos! (Hint: white cakes are gorgeous, and wash out easier than colored cakes. Opt for colors lighter and less saturated)
  • The Outfit: This is your call! If you choose white icing, cake washes out so easy! I love the dress ellis is wearing, so I would not sacrifice it for a photo if I hadn't already learned that sugar, butter, & cream rinse out with warm water. If you want a naked baby look, opt to finding a cloth diaper or shorties to cover the diaper. No shoes. Those suckers don't wash as easy as clothes do. Also, when taking photos of your kiddo sitting, opt for no shoes. Bottoms of shoes are ugly (moccasins & socks look cute). If you little gal is wearing a dress, put a diaper cover on her (you'll cringe every time you see her diaper with her legs open in photos). 
  • Be Ready: If you want photos of the clean before, do that with no cake in sight. Once the cake is on their level be ready to shoot photos! I chose to do this by myself, and in hindsight I wish I had brought along an assistant. I had to drop the cake and run. So I didn't get nearly as many before the mess photos as I'd like! Keep the camera high away from sticky hands. Your baby is gonna want you. LIKE REALLY WANT YOU. All of a sudden you're gonna have the inclination to not want to touch your messy baby. It's normal, don't feel guilty. But feel the need to have towels, wipes and a change of clothes ready. 

Have fun! Be creative! Take photos that you can see yourself framing and hanging up somewhere! It's a lot of fun taking photos of your kiddos. We'd love to do a smash cake round up! Share your links to your kiddo's sessions/blog posts! 


Ellis is a Wild ONE

ashley cardoza


I can't Believe Ellis is one on April 23! It was quite a year! From her birth to now, it has been a wild first year! I had so much fun crafting this little party together. I am positive my friends were getting tired of me sending them pictures of everything, but I am thankful they held my hand through it! 

Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday
Our little Wild One with icing in her hair, tired eyes, and partied out! 

Our little Wild One with icing in her hair, tired eyes, and partied out! 

Now that you've made it through all the pretty pictures, thanks to Taylor Robbins, I can give all the fun details of the party:

  • Theme: Wild One (Aztec, Teepees, Arrows, Feathers, Coral, Mint, Grey, Gold, Black) 
  • Smash Cake & Topper - Friend made it for me. The little topper has a sweet meaning! I saved that from my Baby Shower cake in her room all year just for this party! My sweet friends spent some time cutting out those letters. So happy I got to bring it out once more!
  • Cupcake Toppers - Crafted by Mom (Ashley) thanks to using a borrowed Silhouette Cameo. I am ready to purchase my own now. I am obsessed with it! 
  • Food - Costco for the win! One thing that I was really proud of myself for was having a healthy spread of food for out guests! Most of our friends feed their kiddos healthy foods, so other than the standard treats, I wanted to make sure lunch was full of healthy options! We opted for grilled chicken strips, the Sweet Kale Salad, Green Salad, Fruit, Cheese cubes, pita chips, naan, hummus, carrot sticks (and ranch), and apple sauce pouches. We had hardly any kale salad left over!! 
  • Crafts - One thing I really wanted to be sure to have was something for the older kiddos! So I decided to create a yarn crafting station. I left no directions. Just sticks, pre-cut yarn, popsicle sticks, and showed the girls how to start a God's eye. We had quite a few kiddos ranging from 0-12, so the older girls eyes got wide when I showed them the craft station.
  • Activities - One word BUBBLES. The bubble machine was a huge hit (and disaster waiting to happen with cement floors--oh well. no one died).  I also had tattoos available for the kiddos to put on. Thanks to one of my friend's, there was an adult there to help. Love when other step up and love on kids at parties! 
  • Decor - I crafted almost all of it! I did get a little (LOT) of help sewing the triangle garland (which got tangled RIGHT as the party was starting...oh well). 
  • Ellis' Outfit - Shirt, Leggings (found at nordstrom rack accidentally), Gold Glitter Bib 
  • Venue - Firefly Studio (Ecclesia Church), Houston Tx
Ellis is a Wild One | Aztec, Feathers, Teepee, Coral, Mint, Gold, Black, Triangles, First Birthday