Wednesday, January 23, 2013

a dr. seuss birthday party

last weekend we celebrated our bud's 1st birthday with a party at our home.

it was the first kid's birthday party i've ever planned & thrown, and even though i swore i wouldn't be one of those parents who threw their kids over-the-top parties, it was definitely difficult not to go overboard.

i got my idea for the party theme from this picture i saw on etsy months ago.  i'm not big on party themes in general, but our bud loves dr. seuss, and this adorable 'cat in the hat' ensemble sealed the deal.  plus, i love the color combo of red, white and turquoise.  so we went with a loose 'cat in the hat' theme.

Cat in the hat Crochet set with Matching Bowtie Cat in the hat 0 to 3 months Cat in the hat 3 to 6 months cat in the hat 6 to 12 months

using pinterest as my primary inspiration source, i was on my way.

some things i learned through the planning process - 

  • having a child with an early january birthday makes things much more challenging in terms of party planning.  there was no relaxing after the holidays; instead, i had to completely shift gears into party-planning mode.
  • a week and half is not a lot of time to plan a party...but it's do-able.  
  • having a mother-in-law who is willing to help however she can is the best gift i could ever ask for!
  • pinterest can be your best friend or worse enemy.  i already had a LOVE/HATE relationship with pinterest, and that was amplified during this process.  i found more ideas than i could ever implement, but the perfectionist in me wanted to do it all!  i literally had to step away from my computer screen on numerous occasions and have little mini-therapy sessions with myself where i reminded myself that the women whose parties i was viewing on pinterest either:
    • had an unlimited budget 
    • had unlimited time on their hands
    • were WAY more crafty and creative than me
    • probably ALL OF THE ABOVE
  • it IS possible to throw a decent party on a small budget - once i came to terms with the fact that my party was not going to look like a pinterest party, i was able to focus on a few key details i wanted, and made it my own.  some money saving tricks i discovered along the way:
    • dollar tree is great for plates, napkins, plastic-wear & tablecloths
    • balloons are cheap and can be purchased at most grocery stores (no need to go to a party store) - $1 (including helium ) at our local fred meyer
    • get a smash cake for the birthday boy and bake cupcakes for the rest of the kiddos
    • cupcake toppers are SO easy to make if you have a big hole punch, card stock and stickers that match the theme.
    • a grocery store bakery is more than capable of making a great kid's birthday cake - i simply brought in a picture of what i wanted to our local fred meyer store bakery and got a 2-layer, 8 inch cake for $11.99, and it was awesome!
    • a plain plastic tablecloth from the dollar tree can be spruced up with circles of all sizes cut from fun paper found at michaels.
    • fun fonts can be found free online, downloaded, printed and used as stencils to make fun things like banners, etc.
    • a personalized invitation can be purchased on etsy (anywhere from $5-15) as a digital file sized as a 4x6 photo (which costs 9 cents to print at costco).
  • michael's has become one of my new favorite stores - before this month, i had probably seen the inside a michael's (or any other craft store) fewer than five times...and NEVER understood the attraction   but that all changed during this process.  and so...
  • I DISCOVERED I DON'T HATE CRAFTS / DIY PROJECTS.  this was a huge personal discovery for me.  in a family where all of my six sisters are super crafty and creative, i always felt the crafty gene bypassed me and was just grateful to at least have my photography as my creative outlet.  well, apparently the key was keeping it simple.  i'm big on end results, and it was very satisfying to see all the party details come together, and to feel the satisfaction of having done it myself (with some help along the way - thanks, erica)!

i was thrilled with how it all turned out (mainly because i didn't think i could pull it all together)!!  while i don't foresee doing this every year, it was a great learning experience, and even though it took till my mid-30's, it was fun to discover that i enjoy crafting after all, even if just for SIMPLE projects.

in the end, the best part of the day was the people who came to celebrate alongside us and our bud.  we had a packed house (20 adults, 18 children), and it was a day we won't soon forget.  :)

**********

the details

a banner showing the monthly progression through pictures was all over pinterest, and i LOVE this idea - this was my interpretation, and lord knows i definitely had enough pictures to choose from!


i'm a big fan of paper lanterns, and used leftover christmas ribbon to hang them from the light fixture. 



saw this on pinterest as well - a poem (which i tweaked a bit) asking people to sign the dr. seuss 'happy birthday to you!' book for our little man.  unfortunately, i completely forgot to ask people to do this during the party


a little poem inside the book cover


 birthday banner made using a free 'grinched' font i found online and paper from michael's...and help from my sister.  :)


 $11.99 cake from freddy's - score!


 and red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and 'cat in the hat' cupcake toppers


and...the party

































and after everyone was gone, i finally found his bow-tie..hiding in his hat!



Thursday, January 17, 2013

my baby is ONE

well, it happened.

as much as i willed it, time did not stand still.  not for a month, a week or even a day.  and so...my baby turned a year old last week.  :(

i've gone through the gamut of emotions leading up to his birthday - sadness, loss, denial, eventual acceptance once it happened, and now i'm starting to embrace it...somewhat.

overall, it's still bittersweet;  i'm definitely losing my baby, and it's not like now that he's one, time will start slowing down.  i've been told it just keeps moving faster and faster.  that scares me and makes me even sadder.

but it would be impossible not to enjoy the stage he's at now...pretty darn fun.

here's a snapshot of my baby at 12 whole months - 
  • 23 lbs, 7oz - 60th percentile for weight - no wonder my back is shot
  • 31" long - 75th percentile for height.  needless to say, his daddy thrilled about this
  • has 5 1/2 teeth (3 on top, 2 on bottom and a fifth just coming through on top)

  • some of his favorite activities- while he has plenty of toys he loves, he will easily give up ANY toy in favor of the following - 
    • climbing stairs - we live in a 2-story house, and the stairs are gated at the top and bottom.  however, i swear he moves at ninja speed if we ever leave the gate open, even for a few seconds (which we, of course, have never, ever done).  when he hears us approaching, he starts giggling and climbing even faster.  then, he screams bloody murder when we attempt to remove him from said stairs.  i've tried teaching him how to go back down the stairs, but he's not interested in going down; just up.
    • climbing into the dishwasher - gross, i know, and it doesn't happen, obviously, but he sure tries. i've had to wait to load/unload the dishwasher when he's not around because otherwise he will stop ANYTHING he's doing and beeline for the dishwasher, after squealing with delight when he sees me open the dishwasher.  he's now strong enough to pull out the bottom rack completely if it's empty and tries climbing in.  and like the stairs, he definitely lets me know how unhappy he is when i remove him and close up the dishwasher.
    • playing in the fridge / freezer - notice a pattern, haha?!  the boy loves appliances.  i obviously don't condone his playing in the fridge, but heaven forbid he sees me open it (which he does ALL the time) and NOT let him at least look around for a couple of minutes.  yesterday for the first time, though, he figured out how to remove a fairly big glass bottle off the fridge door.  yeah, gave me a heart attack.  so no more fridge time for him.
    • climbing inside the washer & dryer - especially the washer.  it's a front load and in-between loads, i leave the door open to air it out.  so it makes common sense that he would attempt to climb inside.  he can't do that yet, but he gets a good part of his trunk in there.  he also loves banging on the inside steel drum of the washer.
    • opening up drawers - any drawer that has a knob on it is fair game, and even though he's had the occasional pinched finger, that hasn't deterred him in the least.  we're scrambling to get locks on all our drawers.  
    • unfurling toilet paper rolls - almost nothing gets him squealing with pure joy like furiously unrolling an entire roll of tp.  it's too funny to NOT let him do this every once in a while.  
    • jail-breaking the toilet - we put toilet locks on our toilets a while back, once we realized that not only could he get into them, but he loved nothing better than to splash in them if given the opportunity.  yep, GROSS.  HOWEVER, last week, in a bout of frustration with one of the locks, our little houdini pulled and pulled until it snapped open.  yep, he's already outsmarted our toilet locks.  fun times.
    • WHEELS!  he doesn't discriminate, either.  his love of wheels includes (but certainly isn't limited to) cars & trucks, senior citizen walkers, baby doll strollers (he just flips them over and spins the wheels), library carts (he's been known to chase them around at the library), etc.
    • and BALLS!  not sure how it's happened, but he's already accumulated quite the plethora of balls.  one of his favorite toys from his birthday was a plastic bucket full of tennis balls from his uncle.  he's got them in all sizes, and loves lifting them over his head and watching them bounce as he hurls them on the floor.  quite tempting for poor zoe-girl.

he's my little explorer and i try to be pretty good about giving him free reign to explore, while trying to balance that with his safety.  i've never wanted to become a 'helicopter parent' although i can see how it could happen.

  • some of the challenges
    • he's developing a mind of his own - ok, this is a GOOD thing, i have to keep reminding myself.  my baby is becoming more independent each day, which is GOOD, but means that when he wants something, he REALLY wants something, and has learned to communicate that quite effectively through screaming and crying.  in those moments, i do my best to channel my most patient self and re-direct his attention, but the older he gets, the less effective that is.
    • eating - i used to think he was a great eater, but since the intro of solids, and after reading various sources and talking with other moms with kiddos his age, i realize that he eats way less than other one year old boys.  i've heard of kids who eat 1/2 sandwiches, part of an apple and 1/2 an avocado, etc., all in one meal.  i'm lucky if i can get a few bites of spaghetti or yogurt and sweet potatoes  etc. in him in one sitting.  the older he gets, the more distracted he gets and requires TONS of distraction/entertainment if he's going to sit at the table and eat.  and when he's ready to get down, he's READY and let's me know.  basically, he seems to eat just enough to no longer be starving, and is then ready to get down and explore/play some more.  and he still prefers milk (i'm still nursing) over pretty much any food he gets fed.  he's definitely growing and developing well, though, so i'm not sure how concerned i should be about this, aside from the fact that mealtimes can be challenging. 
    • endless energy - again, not a bad thing, and apparently it's what boys are, but it becomes challenging when he needs lots of opportunity to get that energy out or he won't nap.  most days i provide him with it either at home or play-dates at places like 'steamers & screamers', but then there are days when i'm running errands and he doesn't have much 'ground' time.  those are the days he refuses to nap and turns into the cranky-pants version of himself.  
    • changing nap times - not sure if he's ready to go down to one nap, but he only takes  his afternoon nap about 1/2 the time now, at best.  this is probably directly related to my previous point.  i guess it's always about trying to find that perfect balance.
    • teething - i'm realizing this is what's most likely impacting the changing nap times, and not so much that he's ready to go down to one nap.  

  • the little things i don't ever want to forget
    • the way he tilts his head to the side and gives big toothy smiles
    • the way he says 'hi' and 'hey' in a sing-songy voice when he sees people
    • he's a sound effects machine - whirring sounds, buzzing sounds, all kinds of sounds, especially when playing with his toys
    • how fascinated he is with the garage door going down - big eyes and exclaims 'ooooh'
    • how he loves carrying something small toys/objects in his hand, even while trying to hold onto other things
    • the way he melts into me and lets me rock him to sleep after his evening bottle
    • the unbelievable process he goes through when going down for a nap - we had NO IDEA how much he moved around before finally settling down until we received a video monitor for christmas (thanks grandma & grandpa!) - it's fascinating, and we just sit and watch the monitor.  better than a reality show.
    • the way he almost always tucks his legs under him and sleeps with his butt in the air.  
    • the way he starts dancing (swaying) as soon as he hears music with a beat.  and he loves being picked up and dancing while holding my hand.  
    • the way he smiles at his reflection, over and over again, whether in a mirror or a window (the head tilt comes into play here also).  the best is evening mealtimes when we're sitting at the nook table.  he can see his reflection all around him, and takes turns looking to the left, the right and in front of him, smiling at that happy baby looking back at him.  so cute!
    • the way he squeals when he accomplishes something he's working on or just when he gets excited
    • if it makes noise, he's going to do it.  usually this involves throwing things from his high chair to the ground 
    • the way he intentionally throws food down to zoe.  what a good share-er.
    • the way his face lights up when he sees other babies or kids
    • the way he tries to lay his head on zoe when she'll allow it.  melts my heart.

and the big one...WALKING.  for the past 4 days, he's taken multiple unassisted steps, so we feel he's days from walking, but he's not  technically walking yet.  he has two walker type toys that he's very comfortable with and takes for a spin on the hardwood floors all throughout the day.  in the last few days, he feels comfortable enough to hold on to other toys while also 'walking'.  yikes!  

i'm excited (and nervous) for what his second year will bring.  i know walking will change the game completely, as will his continued journey into toddler-hood, but i am also so excited to see him transform into  a little boy, and so curious to see who he will become.  i can handle all of it as long as he continues to give his mama toothy smiles and bedtime snuggles.  :)  

**********

and some pictures taken on the last day of 2012, when we were lucky enough to get a couple of inches of snow.  










Sunday, January 13, 2013

christmas 2012 - his first christmas

** warning - this post may contains a picture overload.**

christmas has come and gone and the craziness leading up to that meant no extra time to blog...so i'm making up for it now.

this was our bud's first christmas, and because he's an early january birthday, he was almost a year old during his first christmas, which made it fun because he was definitely into everything!

the holidays were even more of a whirlwind than usual this year; i guess it's the addition of a little one to keep things busy, but for me, it was also the pressure of wanting to make sure everything was perfect for the little mister's first christmas.  well, i definitely had to let go of some things (story of my life this past year) - i.e. we didn't get our tree up until a few days before christmas, i didn't get all the cute 'pinteresty' pictures of him i had envisioned, we didn't do many christmas related activities around town - but overall, it was a wonderful holiday season, and one we'll definitely remember - our first one with our first born.  :)

some of the highlights - 

  • christmas with the cousins' - the weekend before christmas, my sister jen (one of the two sisters who live in this area) hosted christmas at her house.  this was her third year hosting what has come to be the 'cousins christmas', just us three sisters and our kiddos.  the first year we only had 'the three musketeers', my sister erica's girls, last year we added little miss audrey to the mix, and this year, our bud joined the bunch.  it was a fun time for the cousins to play, make ornaments and open presents, and for us sisters to catch up.



watching big cousin kadence play



 sweet miss audrey enjoying her cucumber!

he loves silly cousin madyson 

 'here, let me show you how it's REALLY done'


'and i can also help you with that carrot, cousin audrey' 


someone loves his auntie erica


 the silly three musketeers before opening their presents



 and the silliest of them all...

i love these girls! 

and it wouldn't be christmas without fun socks


  • visiting macy's santaland - i really didn't think we'd squeeze this in this year, and since we DID technically get to meet santa in a more impromptu fashion earlier in the month, i was ok with that.  but two days before christmas, the hubs decided we needed to go experience macy's santaland, which we had heard so much about. so we went, and while i can't say it lived up to its hype (i guess it's been scaled down drastically in recent years from what it once was), it was worth it for a few reasons:
    • the macy's santa was great
    • they allowed us to take out own pictures (not sure if this is typical or just because we went the day before it was over) and this made it worth it for me!
    • the train set - our bud was captivated by it









while i wouldn't say he was scared of santa, he was certainly more than a little suspicious of the whole experience



  • and...christmas day.  after opening presents at home in the morning, and our bud taking his morning nap, we made our way over to grandma and grandpa's house for the remainder of the day.  presents were opened, an amazing lunch (which centered around a delicious honey ham) was consumed, and then there was lots of lounging around and more eating to finish the day.  our little man was more than a little spoiled this first christmas by his grandma and grandpa.  it was a perfect day, and we couldn't have asked for a better christmas.  our bud is so very blessed to have his grandma sue and grandpa jerry!


christmas morning began with a zucchini muffin from nuvrei - his first time having one and he loved it...hence the crumbs!



 at grandma's, he was fascinated watching their lab, jackson, out the window

 yummy












two of his favorite things from the day - a shiny gift bag and the red & white striped nike ball from grandma & grandpa.  he still chases the ball around the house every day

it was so great to have great-gram there for christmas day - bud was fascinated with her and her pearls 

'here, let me help you with that, dad' 


can't have too many wiffle balls


one of the main attractions - great-gram's walker, especially the wheels


and...last but not least, this picture made me laugh out loud when i saw it!  definitely an 'out-take' but too funny not to share