January 16, 2019

Are You a Mermaid or a Shark?

Having my children born only four days apart MAY put a major strain on our bank account, but in terms of party planning, being able to combine the two birthday parties together is a definite boon, for a number of reasons. Mainly, I just don't think I could handle two parties in one year...this one very nearly did me in. But, once it all came together, it was OH so worth it. Seeing the excitement on both of my kids' faces was so gratifying, especially Anderson's. He kept pointing at everything, and talking in excited babbles. And Wren? I'm pretty sure she had a smile on her face the entire day as she ran from activity to activity. So, like I said...worth it. But do I plan on doing a party of this scale anytime soon? Talk to me next year. But I'll just say, that if I never have to see a dyed coffee filter every again, I'll die a happy woman! Kidding. Maybe.
The theme we decided on for this year's birthday bash was, "Are You a Mermaid or a Shark?" Guests were sent an invitation asking them which one they would be, with all of the party information included. 
The original party date was scheduled for the 5th, but because Graham's schedule changed (and there was no way he could miss work), we had to switch the date to the 12th. Then, that entire week, the forecast for Saturday was rain, rain, and more rain. I was heartbroken! All of our activities were scheduled for outside. But, we lined up the use of some pop up canopies, and decided that the show had to go on. 
The party was held at Graham's little sister's house, and so we decided to spend the night on Friday so we could get a head start on the party set up. And it's a good thing we did! We stayed up late into the night, and I got up nice and early on Saturday to continue the prep work. I was frosting cakes, taping up decorations, and setting up food until the VERY last minute, so I wasn't able to do my hair and makeup, but since the day was not about me, I tried not to care that I looked a bit tired and frazzled! Thankfully, everything came together so beautifully thanks to all of the help from our family members. They scrambled with me to get the last minute details finished up, and we only started the party a tiny bit late! Phew! 
As guests entered, they were greeted with a welcome sign, hanging seaweed, and a tube that was for the "guppies" to enter.

Once they moved past the seaweed, they were prompted to "choose a side!" Were they a mermaid or a shark? Then, guests grabbed a name tag and wrote down their new shark or mermaid name. Names were based on the letter of their first names and what month they were born. Some of my favorites were, "Killer Jabber Jaws" and "Glittery Lovely Bubbles."
Then, they found themselves "under the sea" with lots of bubbles, seaweed, coral, shells and basically any ocean-themed thing you can think of! My favorite decoration of the whole party was the gold coral that Graham made with a can of spray insulation and a can of gold spray paint! And also, shoutout to my dad for cutting the bases for the coral. I was SO happy with how they turned out.




Now, out on the patio is where the real party started! And guess what...there was no rain! It was the best surprise of the party. It made everything go so smoothly, and even though a couple of activities had to move off the grass, things still turned out *almost* how I had planned them in my head. 
With such a large age-range of kids at the party, I had to rack my brain for activities to meet all of their needs. For the littlest ones, we had a "walk the plank" game that my dad (again) made for me, and of course I didn't get any photos of! Basically, the kids had to walk across the plank without falling into the shark-infested waters. Anderson, the smallest of the group, held onto my hands as he successfully walked the plank, and all of the other kids followed, even the big ones! Next, they moved onto "Make Your Own Sea Foam." Kids were given a plastic cup that had a hole punched into the top of it. Then, I poured bubbles into the bottom, and they blew their straws into the liquid. Streams of bubbles poured out the top of the cup, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. 

For the bigger kids, we had a "Sand Art" station, where they poured different colors of sand and little shells into tiny little glass bottles. To make the process go more smoothly, we had mini funnels and scoops (salvaged formula scoops that I had been saving for months) to pour the sand. I added key chain hooks to the top of the bottles, and had parents help the smaller kids glue the tops on with a hot glue gun. My biggest regret of the party is that I didn't get any photos of the activity in action or any photos of the finished bottles. But, take my word for it...they were SUPER cute! 
My amazingly talented sister also painted these cornhole boards, one with a mermaid and one with a shark. This was another activity that was enjoyed by all of the kids and even the adults. Anderson had fun climbing all over the game, until his hand went into the hole and he smacked his head into the board...
Now, the food. I had way too much fun choosing ocean-themed food. AND decorating the food table. The backdrop included, you guessed it, more sea weed, as well as "Wren"and "Anderson" signs. There were also jelly fish hanging from the patio overhang, but I only got a photo of the ones hanging on either side of the table. I loved these little jelly fish, and feel like the added just the right touch to the party decor!
For the main dish of the party, guests were offered "submarine sandwiches" that included an array of meat and cheese choices. There was also "seaweed dip" (artichoke dip), "seaweed rolls" (spinach tortilla, cream cheese roll-ups), "shell pasta" (pasta salad), "starfish sandwiches" (PB&J's cut out with a star cookie cutter), and sea snails (mini hotdogs wrapped in crescent rolls).

Next, was a nice selection of chips and crackers. They included "driftwood" (pretzels), "shark teeth" (Doritos), "sea slugs" (Cheetos), and "shark bait" (goldfish). 
Moving on...all of the treats! First, were the "clam bites," which my mom informed should have been "oyster" bites since clams don't typically produce pearls. Whoops. But they still looked cute! 
We also had "dinglehopper delights," which were basically just a Rice Krispie treat with a mini fork shoved in the top. Wren got a real kick out of these ones!
We also had an array of candy: peach rings acted as "life preservers," while red vines were "coral." The Swedish fish and gummy sharks? Well, those are pretty self-explanatory! 
My future sister-in-law also baked the CUTEST cupcakes and we popped mermaid tails and shark fins into the top.
I also love how these "sand dollar" snickerdoodles turned out. Another sister-in-law made these beauties. They were cute and delicious!
The two things that I'm probably the most proud of are the kids' cakes. I do not bake. I repeat, I DO NOT bake. It is not in my wheelhouse. So, when I decided that I would make, not one cake, but two? Yeah, I surprised myself. After reading 500 blog posts on making cakes and frosting, and watching 1,000 Youtube videos on how to frost said cake...these were the result. Not the greatest. But, hey...like I said, I'm proud of them!

Just like his big sister, Anderson was NOT interested in his smash cake. He absolutely refused to touch it, and would only eat it if small bites were placed INTO his mouth. His sister, on the other hand, DEVOURED her piece and could have taught him a thing or two on how to really enjoy a birthday cake. 

 I'm so grateful for these babies, and I LOVE celebrating them in this way.  I can't believe I have a big one year old and an even more giant three year old. These kids bring me so much joy, and their dad and I feel so very blessed to be their parents. Happy birthday, my babies. We love you!


Wren: 3 Years

Oh, my Little Miss Wren. This girl. She keeps us on our toes and is too dang smart for her own good...but I wouldn't have her ANY other way. She is so mature in many ways, and she understands the world around her in a way that baffles me in someone so young. She absorbs things and learns faster than anyone I have ever met, and she sometimes scares me with her relentless determination. I am unashamedly proud of her and her accomplishments, and she impresses me EVERY day with one thing or another. I can't believe this little girl, the one who made me a mom, is already three. Three years of Wren have been the three best years of my life. I have loved watching her grow, and am SO looking forward to all of the growth that this next year has in store. Happy birthday, my sweet girl!

Height: Couldn't tell you. She has her three year check up soon...

Weight: A whopping 27 pounds!

Milestones:
In the past year, Mommy and Wren have been doing a lot of daily preschool "activities," and as always, Wren seems to absorb all of it like a sponge. Wren can identify all of her shapes, and points them out in real life wherever she does. Traffic signs are not signs...they are "rhombuses" and "pentagons," and "octagons" to her. She finds shapes in everyday objects and points them out CONSTANTLY. Wren has also been working on her ABC's and can say them all, along with the sounds they make. She still gets some of them mixed up, but does pretty well with most of her letter sounds. Wren likes to count things, and asks for certain numbers of things (particularly candy). If she asks for three pieces of licorice, for example, and you only give her two...she will let you know. Wren is also the expert sorter and matcher. She can sort by color, by size, and by category. As always, Wren is a talker and carries on some pretty intense and in depth conversations. She has taken to telling "stories" all of the time, and makes up some pretty elaborate concoctions. Just yesterday, she told Mommy a made up story about a girl who lived in a castle all alone who was named, of course, "Wren!" She also constantly plays "make believe" and likes to tell Mommy and Daddy that she's, "driving her carriage" or "cooking dinner." At about two and a half, Wren decided one day that she was done with diapers, and transitioned pretty smoothly into underwear. She still wears her "training pants" during naps and at night, but very rarely has accidents these days. She has also recently transitioned into her "big girl" bed (out of her crib), and is loving her new set up. Wren was never one to climb out of her crib, so Mommy and Daddy were a bit nervous that the transition would result in her getting out of bed early and when she shouldn't...but that hasn't been an issue. She doesn't get off of her bed until either Mommy or Daddy come to get her out of bed, which is pretty nice. Wren continues to be pretty independent and will do a LOT of tasks all by herself. These include: going to the bathroom (although Mommy and Daddy still help with the wiping), getting dressed, putting on her shoes, and putting herself to bed (but only for naps...nighttime remains a lengthy affair with lots of books and songs). 

Loves:
As always, Wren continues to love books, She has also taken to "reading" her books on her own, and can recite some of her books from cover to cover, word for word. It's pretty entertaining, especially when she does the "voices." Her favorite book, as of late, is, "Dragons Love Tacos," and hearing her say the lines from the book is pretty much the most entertaining thing ever. Mommy's particular favorite recitations are, "You didn't read the fine print?!?" and "Those little green things? Those are spicy jalapeno peppers!" Hearing a three year old say, "jalapeno peppers" has to be one of life's greatest delights! Wren also loves all things art! She loves to paint and color, and can be found doing either activity most days. Wren has also discovered a love for all things "princess" and she loves the color pink. She hasn't seen all of the Disney princess movies, but she can still name most of them by sight, with her favorite being Ariel. One newfound love is all things Minnie and Mickey. She asks to watch "Mickey" EVERY single day, and insists on watching the Mickey Mouse Christmas movies...almost a month past Christmas.

Hates:
Like most toddlers, Wren hates being told, "no." She has always been good at following directions, and doesn't push the boundaries very often, but when Mommy or Daddy tell her "no" to something that she REALLY wants, her little face crumples and big ol' tears ensue. Daddy is a pushover and usually gives in, but he's the same way with Mommy, so no one is surprised! Wren also continues to hate sharing her toys. She does REALLY well with her little brother and is surprisingly gentle with him...but get her around her cousins, and her beastly side comes out. She is FIERCE and does not back down, even though she is smaller than all of them. 

As always, a blog post fails to adequately paint the whole picture of our Wren. You just have to know her to truly understand her giant personality. It is a sight to behold!












Anderson: One Year

How? How is my baby already one? 
I'm never sentimental about my babies reaching age milestones, because for me, I LOVE the toddler stage. The baby stage is hard for me, so as I much as I try to enjoy it, in the back of my head I'm always thinking, "hurry and get bigger so we can get to the REALLY good stuff." But, for some reason, Anderson's first birthday is hitting me with all of the mushy feels. I've been an emotional wreck over it, and I spent a good deal of the day crying on his "big" day...mainly because I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude for him. I've said it before, but the transition into motherhood was not easy for me. As much as I ADORED Wren, and even though she was a delightful baby, it was a dark time in my life. So, when I found out I was pregnant with Anderson, I was immediately gripped with anxiety and trepidation that I would slide back into that dark place again. But from the moment this child was born, he has brought nothing but JOY into my life (despite his hatred of sleep and his calculated plan to kill me with sleep deprivation in the first six months of his life). Honestly, if there is one word I could choose to encapsulate the essence of Anderson, it is, "Joyful" (followed closely by tenacious). He makes everyone smile, and exudes goodness. So, I'll say it again: I am supremely grateful that he was given to me. And that I was tasked with being his mother...I don't deserve him most of the time, but I'll keep trying to be the mom that he needs. 

Weight/Length: Who knows? He has his one year check up soon...

Milestones:
Anderson is no longer walking these days. He has decided that he needs to RUN everywhere he goes. He especially loves to chase his sister around the house while they both cackle with delight. He also loves to tackles her and has become quite the decent wrestler as of late. Anderson has also taken to climbing on top of EVERYTHING. He is a walking bruise, and usually has a constellation of purple and green spots across his forehead. Anderson also likes to get into everything too. No drawer or cupboard is safe when he is around. Mommy and Daddy never had to baby proof drawers and cupboards with big sister, but that has NOT been the case with Anderson. He needs to disembowel EVERYTHING within his reach. Anderson continues to be a waver and a clapper. He waves "hi" and "bye" to everyone, and claps at every "good job!" he hears. He is also starting to learn his body parts and can identify his belly, his head, and other people's eyes. His idea of pointing out Mommy and Daddy's eyes is to try to gouge them out with his fingernail...so that's pleasant. Anderson is also starting to learn his animal sounds and can do a pretty impressive elephant noise. He is also working on his "oink," but it comes out more as a growl. Unlike his sister, Anderson is not much of a talker. Probably because he usually has a pacifier in is mouth. He says "Mama" and "Dada" consistently, and has recently added "dog" into his vocabulary. He does like to mimic sounds though, and will mimic pretty much anything you say to him. 

Loves:
Everyone. Anderson is such a social guy, and basically spends his life smiling at other people. He also loves all fruits and likes to smash them in his hand before eating him (Mom HATES the messes he makes while eating, but has learned how to deal). Anderson continues to love books, and will walk over to Mommy, turn around, and plop into her lap whenever he sees her holding a book. He likes to turn the pages on command, and especially loves interactive books ("Lift the Flap" and "Touch and Feel" are at the top of his list). 

Hates:
Basically all food. If Anderson finds a food that he likes, he will devour it with gusto, and will eat it in large quantities. But...finding food that he likes is a struggle lately, because he pretty much hates 99.9% of what he is offered. He spits out almost everything, and throws it over the side of his highchair. It is driving his Mommy and Daddy crazy! He would subsist on bread and fruit if it were up to him, but Mommy and Daddy still try to force a more balanced diet on him, with VERY minimal success. He seems to have an aversion to most textures (Mommy blames Daddy, because he also hates most foods and their textures), so it's a constant (uphill) battle. Besides his food issues, Anderson doesn't have too many "hates." He is one of the most easy-going babies on the planet. The only other culprit that could be labeled as a "dislike" is his distaste for containment. High chairs, car seats, strollers, shopping carts, baby gates...he is not their biggest fan. But, despite this, he is still generally content after a few unhappy squawks. 

 








December 06, 2018

Anderson: 11 Months

Weight: Probably around 21 pounds

Length: No idea, as usual

Milestones:
The last month has been one in which the milestones have piled one on top of the other! Where to begin? First off, Anderson has started WALKING! Crawling is still his number one mode of locomotion, but Little Man is starting to walk more and more. He always *starts off* walking, falls, and finishes his journey by crawling. Mommy thinks that he'll probably be walking full time by the end of the month . Another fun milestone is that Anderson has REALLY started clapping recently. He has half-heartedly put his hands together for the last couple of months, but never with any consistency. Now, you just have to say, "Anderson, clap!" and his little hands perform the request with enthusiasm. Anderson has also learned how to wave, "hi" and "bye." All you have to do is say the words, and he starts flapping away. It is the CUTEST. Anderson also got his first haircut last month, and he looks WAY too grown up. 

Loves:
Anderson has really started to develop a love for books in the last month or so, which makes Mommy's book-loving heart proud. Anderson has never really shown any interest in his books, because he would rather be exploring...not sitting still and looking at pages. But, in the last month or so, Anderson has become fascinated by his collection of books and will sit in Mommy's lap for extended periods of time, soaking in the pictures. His favorite book is called, "Vroom, Vroom, Trucks," a book that Nana bought for him before he was even born. Another random love that Anderson has is Mommy's makeup brushes. Anderson has started to get a little frustrated in his car seat, and for some reason, the only thing that makes him happy is when Mommy hands him a makeup brush. 

Hates:
As mentioned above, Anderson is not too fond of his car seat, but it's more of a mild dislike than an actual hate. He DOES hate being left alone though. Anderson is a pretty independent little guy, but if Mommy tries to walk away from him, and he notices, he will get upset. As long as Mom is within reaching distance, he stays as happy as ever. 

 



 





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