Last week you turned three years old. It's the right of every mother on her child's birthday to say, "I can't believe you're that old already!", so I'm saying it again - how have three years passed since you were born? I still remember screaming and pushing and opening my eyes to see you held up in front of me, your little red face scrunched up in a cry. They gave you to me and you snuggled into my chest and stopped crying. You've been my sweet snuggler ever since.
Sometimes you'll crawl on the couch with me now. And sometimes I might be frustrated with you because you've been crying over something, and I don't know why - but you look at me and say "Mama, I want a hug." And in those little moments you make me slow down, and cuddle you, and treasure your sweet smallness. These days when just a hug will solve all your woes.
You are my little conversationalist, with a million questions, and a million ideas of how things work. You are a shockingly good communicator for just turning three. We moved you up to the middle seat in the van this year, and the moment we did, you started talking my ear off. Now you had my attention; now I was close enough in the van to hear everything you said. And I love it, I love having you close and hearing all your thoughts. Your sister is asking to move up, and you are asking to move back with your brother...and though I know it will be just as much a joy to hear all of her thoughts, I'm going to miss you too, way back there in the van.
Everyday you seem to find a way to make me stop and appreciate your stage, our stage. I can be having the worst day ever, and you'll pipe up and say "You're the best mama ever!" "You look pretty, Mama." or "I love you so much!" And suddenly it's impossible not to see what a precious time this is, and to be grateful for every second. You help these years to not just pass in a blur, my sweet boy. And I will be forever grateful to God for making you mine.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Clyde!
I was not aware until recently that PJ Masks is a new show, but in our house, we are all in. My kids know the theme song. They come up with PJ Masks stories to play out. Even Derek will sit down and watch an episode with them in the evenings and chuckle at it!
Last week was Wyatt's 6th birthday. I cannot believe that my baby is six years old! I still remember that surreal moment when he was born, with his tiny little cry, and the tears that were streaming down my face. This kiddo is something special, and I love him so much.
I am having a hard time believing that she is four years old, and I'm not sure why. It just struck me this morning that she is four years old. At age three it seems like there is still a bit of baby left in them, but she is solidly in the "big" little girl stage now, and I'm rather sad. Of course, my sadness may also have something to do with the fact that a recent crop of pregnancy announcements are making me sentimental since I'll probably never have another pregnancy announcement, and I get nostalgic around the New Year, and I am on a sugar low from all those Christmas cookies.
Let's Talk About Christmas
That's a nice segue, so let's talk about Christmas! Last week I spent three solid days baking. In years past, Derek and I used to throw away so many Christmas goodies that had gone stale, so for a while I was limiting our Christmas treats. But this year I went a little crazy again because I have four kids who are able to eat the extra cookies now! We are still living off cookies and cheeseballs, and probably will be all week. I may just eat a ginger cookie (my favorite) for breakfast.
We had a lovely three-day Christmas - my side of the family on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day we officially stayed home and had our own family Christmas, and then the day after (yesterday) we saw Derek's side of the family. It was a beautiful celebration, and I have a bunch of cute pictures, but unfortunately you won't get to see them today because it'll probably take me all afternoon to sort and edit them, and I don't want to get out of my Tuesday old-fashioned blogging habit. For now, here's a picture of me from baking last week that I shot by propping my camera up on a bunch of books.
What Did We Get?
I'm glad you asked! I record this here for posterity's sake, and so I don't buy the same things two years down the road because I forgot what I already got the kids. Feel free to comment and tell me what you got for Christmas too!
This was a fun year to shop for the kids because they actually had opinions about what they wanted, and I was confident they would like their presents. We gave them three presents each, and then a couple family gifts of games and books.
Wyatt is five years old, and he got a talking Percy (from Thomas The Train), a Paw Patrol scooter (it was just plain black, but I put Paw Patrol stickers on it - it was a big hit), and a remote control truck. He wanted the huge (expensive) one, but I just got him the largest remote control vehicle I could without breaking the budget!
Gwen is (now) four years old, and she got a Melissa And Doug magnetic doll set, a Disney princess mini guitar, and a new baby doll with a doll cradle. Gwen proceeded to tuck her new baby doll in the cradle with a bottle, and rock the doll while serenading her with "Jingle Bells" on her guitar.
Clyde is two years old, and he got a talking Percy (same as Wyatt - they both love trains), a wooden train track set (Percy will go on it), and a large remote control Thomas. Do you notice a theme here? When I asked Clyde what he wanted all he said was "trains!".
Clarice is one year old, and she got wooden magnetic blocks, a wooden Melissa And Doug key/lock house with wooden doll figures, and a Baby Stella. Apparently Baby Stella is a big thing right now? All I know is that I had to get a Baby Stella for her because she saw it in the store and grinned at it from the cart, and when I handed it to her she kissed it's face. Her reaction on Christmas morning was the same!
Me - Derek got me a bunch of good stuff! I got four Yankee candles! I'm a little picky about my candles, and I like Yankee because they really fill up the room with scent. I got "Sparkling Snow" "Crackling Winter", "Happy Tonight", and "Beach Walk", and they should last me the rest of the winter into spring. I also got a hand-lettering book, an artist pen and brush pen with India ink (to practice lettering), and a book of Emily Dickinson poems, because I told Derek I wanted to read more poetry. Watch out now, I'll soon be firing lines of poetry at you all I'm sure!
I got Derek Starbucks white chocolate syrup so he can make his own white mochas at work, a Technic race cart lego set (those things are complicated!), gel boxing gloves for when he works out, and the game of Risk. We ended up playing Risk the rest of Christmas Day, and I have yet to win a game when we are playing for world domination. Give me some time though. I've decided I should stop focusing on conquering Asia because it's a lost cause, and I'm feeling really good about the next round hopefully tonight (though I should probably let him win on his birthday, huh?).
Back To The Birthdays
Last night we got home late and I dug into the birthday decorations. Gwen wanted a Minnie Mouse birthday party, and it's really important to me to make sure to individually recognize Gwen and Derek's birthday since it's so close to Christmas. Christmas-time birthdays are easy to forget, and I made a vow never to wrap birthday presents in Christmas paper (we got Gwen dress-up clothes in a lovely shoe-and-purse birthday paper), and to always decorate and have a cake.
Derek and I stayed up late decorating for Gwen, but he was a bit bummed that everything was pink and purple, so I snuck downstairs and decorated the bathroom door with streamers and balloons and birthday notes so he would see them before he went off to work. Perhaps an odd place to decorate, but I was going for the surprise factor.
So if you need me today, I'll be sorting toys and putting away Christmas presents, baking a cake, and trying to lug Derek's ginormous present out of the shed by myself. I don't think he's reading this today, so I'll tell you what it is. DEREK, STOP READING NOW!
I got him a basketball hoop! It is massive and heavy, and we probably won't be able to set it up until spring, but I am confident he will be fully surprised!
Old-School Blogger Shout-Out
If you don't know what I mean by "old school bloggers", check out my posts from the last couple weeks (here and here), in which I bemoan the loss of old-fashioned blogging and resolve to get back to it, and attempt to encourage others who are doing the same.
First, Emily from Live A Charmed Life! Emily has been so consistent at maintaining the relationship side of blogging by sharing about her sweet family on her blog and also caring about other people's doings as well. She's a long-time blog friend of mine!
Second, Brittney from With Eager Hands! Brittney is also a long-time blog friend who is getting back into old-fashioned blogging with me, and you have to read about the stars on her ceiling (it's making me kind of jealous actually)!
Go visit their blogs and say hello! These girls are getting the shout-out this week because I know they are the kind of bloggers that will comment back, and as I said last week, I think that is a big part of what we are all missing.
Feliz Navidad (is it too late to say that?) until next week, at which point I will regale you with all my New Year's thoughts and opinions (I am pretty opinionated about the holiday).
(Our Christmas outfit photo from this year. I really actually love snow. People like to complain about it, but how can anyone deny how pretty it is?)
What I'm Drinking: Junior Mint hot chocolate, which my sister got us for Christmas. Junior Mint hot chocolate! Is it just me, or does that sound fantastic?
At the end of September we had Clarice's first birthday party! I have probably been planning and mulling over this party more than most of the other ones I've thrown, and I picked my theme months ago when I ordered our gorgeous invitations. Despite all my mental planning, I didn't actually buy anything else until a week before her party, but I am happy with the way it turned out!
Tissue paper flowers: I made them from a kit that I got on clearance at Joann's - they were so easy! You could easily make them without a kit, and maybe one of these days I'll do a post (or find one already written) to show you how.
String of balloons: The best idea I ever got from Pinterest.
Lemon drops and tea cups: The tea cups I have had for a while - whenever I find a pretty on in an antique shop I snag it, so they were perfect for my "tea party" vision.
Rose-shaped dessert mints: My mom made these for Clarice's party with an old family recipe! They fit in perfectly with all the decor. Thanks, Mom!
Tea pot: I've been wanting one anyway, so when I saw this Pioneer Woman tea pot at Walmart, I figured this was the perfect excuse to buy it!
Milk bottles with chalkboard tags: I bought some extra milk bottles, because these are my favorite cups for the kids - if they leave them around the house, they kind of look decorative! I added some chalkboard tags with these little cut-outs that I found at Hobby Lobby for $3.
Chalkboard: My attempt at hand-lettering! Don't laugh.
Water bottles: I got some scrapbook paper that looked like aspen tree bark to replace the water bottle labels, and I taped them on with pretty washi tape. The mint-colored tub I already had (Hobby Lobby).
Punch: Cranberry juice and Squirt. It's simple and very good.
White cabinet: Can you believe I won that in an Instagram giveaway? It was very exciting.
Small "dot" banner: Minted!
"Happy Birthday Clarice" banner: Minted!
"Sips" and "Treats" table signs: Minted!
Cupcake toppers: You guessed it - also part of the Minted party kit I received earlier this year!
Cupcakes: I made those, strawberry cake mix, store-bought strawberry frosting. Keeping it simple.
Jello Popcorn: See recipe here, minus the peanuts.
White chocolate leaves: I made those with Almond Bark chocolate and some leaf molds.
Flowers and Aspen tree candle holder: Hobby Lobby. I just loved the candle holders when I saw them, and it was very convenient since I could use them for Clarice's party too!
THE CAKE: All caps, because I am so proud of it! My sister made this cake - isn't she amazing? All I told her was that I wanted an "aspen tree stump", and the cake turned out better than I even imagined!
Glitter candle: I saw it on another Instagram account, and when I tried to find it again later to look at her DIY, I couldn't find it! So I just winged it and used Elmer's glue and glitter to cover a "1" candle. It worked out nicely.
Banner cake topper: I got the little triangle cutouts at Hobby Lobby and strung them between two paper straws that I already had.
Clarice's birthday dress: I found it on Taylor Joelle last year, and it just happened to work perfectly as her party dress!
Headband: I bought it from this shop.
So there you go! A year's worth of mental planning, and now it's over. It's a little sad really - where did the last year go? HOW IS MY BABY ONE?! It's cliche, but it really does go by too fast.
Well, my littlest baby is a year old.
While the last year sometimes seems like a really long year, at the same time it feel like my little darling should still be a tiny baby. But she's not anymore, she's a vibrant, active one year old girl!
The last month feels like an explosion of personality for my girl. Well, she's always had a lot of personality, but this month she has been making her loves and hates a little more known. Her biggest love still seems to be me, which is still such a satisfying feeling. She stretches out and reaches for me every time I walk into the room, and she lays her little head on my shoulder and gives a shy smile, like she's reminding everyone that this is where she belongs, tucked in her mama's arms. It's the cutest thing.
Even though she is still very much attached to me, she also has gotten a lot more independent and brave this month. She has been pulling up on furniture left and right, and on the evening after her first birthday party she pushed her little bum into the air and then straightened to a standing position, which she held for a good three seconds. She hasn't gone much longer than that yet, but I am still impressed that she managed to get herself into a standing position without even holding onto anything.
Another favorite this month is "dancing". I'll hold her hands and do a little dance to get her started, and then she takes off, bending at the waste and swinging her little hips back and forth. Sometimes she'll rotate at the waist too, like a miniature version of the twist, all with the funniest little concentrating grin on her face. Then when someone praises her on her dance skills she scrunches her nose and laughs or lets out her signature screech.
Clarice officially gave me her first kiss at her birthday party. I kissed her little cheek, and she pressed her little lips together and said "mmmm", and I could tell she was trying to give a little kiss back. It was precious. She has also started blowing kisses by flinging her little arm out and saying "mmmm". She is a sweet baby!
Her absolute favorite toys right now are a pink bear and fabric dolly that she got for her birthday. When she received both of those presents her face just lit up, and she even gave the dolly a big, open-mouthed kiss. She loves toys with faces, but these two are her loveys. She goes to sleep much better when we tuck them in next to her, but most often whenever lay her down and then show them to her she will grab the bear and dolly by the necks and snuggle them both right under her chin, with closed eyes and a happy little smile on her face.
She is in size 4 diapers, and 12 month clothes. Her feet are tiny, and fit into 6 month shoes still.
She has become so vocal, screeching, yes (my favorite is when she sits on the floor, rotates at the waist and waves her arms while screeching - trying to let us know she's happy, I presume, because she does it with a big smile on her face); but she also tries to say actual words now. She says "da" for "dad", "mamama" for me, "hi", "hello" (sounds like "hewo"), "da" for dog, and "ha-ee" for "Harvey. She has started trying to say the kids' names, and she even parroted back the tone (even though the actual words were unintelligible) of "I love you". Which I probably don't even have to tell you, is too cute for words.
Her hair has started curling in the back and her eyes are beautifully blue. She adores her brothers and sister, and the feeling is mutual. She knows just how to melt her daddy's heart. She laughs like she means it, she smiles with every muscle in her face. She's happy almost all the time, and sometimes she still falls asleep in my arms.
I just love that girl so.
My Sweet Clarice,
Where has the year gone? Every day with you is just a happy adventure. You bring so much joy to me, my darling. In one short year I can't imagine what it was even like without you; you have swept into every corner and made everything brighter with your own brand of sunshine. You were meant to be mine. I love you, Happy Girl. Please keep your enthusiasm and sunshine forever.
Love you always,
Yesterday last year, I woke up and rolled myself out of bed. I had slept in - your daddy fed your brothers and sister breakfast while I laid under the covers, the little kicks coming from my belly finally dragging me out of sleep.
I went upstairs just as one of the kids dropped a bowl of cereal. I sighed, because it was almost impossible to get up and down off the floor anymore with a watermelon belly. I grabbed a towel and worked myself down to my knees, and I just cried. It wasn't about the cereal.
It was because I wanted you.
I wanted to feel your squishy little body snuggled against my chest. I wanted to see your dainty little lashes brushing your cheeks as you slept. I wanted to feel your slight breath against my collar bone. I wanted your impossibly tiny hand wrapped around my finger.
I know the Lord must have seen me that morning, because 12 hours later I was in labor, and 7 hours after that, you were born. It was the same feeling that you might get if you've been awake for 24 hours and you finally lay down in your warm bed. It was the same feeling you get when you've been hiking all day and then get into a bathtub of hot water, or when you've been gone on a trip for a week and then you pull into your own driveway.
You were here. And holding you in my arms was everything I had hoped for.
I love you, Sweet Baby. Thank you for reminding me of that feeling, Darling; then and over the last year of watching you grow and now. Of how good it feels to be home.
Love you always,
My baby girl just turned ten months old and I have to tell you, I am feeling the first birthday party pressure.
There is a lot of pressure to have Pinterest-perfect birthday parties for our kids these days, and it would be a good thing if we all just relaxed a little bit. You know what my favorite birthday party memories were? Decorating with whatever we could find in the cupboard and having relay races with my little group of friends. I think it doesn't have to be big and fancy to be memorable and fun.
Disclaimer: This post on planning for a first birthday party is brought to you in partnership with Minted.com, and contains affiliate links. I was given credit to order products to review for this post. All opinions are my own.
When I was growing up, we didn't have birthday parties every year. There are a few birthday parties that I specifically remember, filled with balloons, streamers, and organized games. But so many years we just stayed home, maybe had a friend or my grandparents over for dinner and presents. Looking back now as a mom myself, I think my parents struck the perfect balance. Birthday parties were fun and special, but we didn't expect a big party every year.
I sat down with my warm little bundle in the rocking chair, tugging the blanket to make sure the swaddle was tight. My firstborn son slept in my arms. We had survived the trip home from the hospital, and ate the meatloaf my mom had left us for dinner. I sat in the chair, and Derek sat on the floor in Wyatt's airplane-themed nursery. We were both tired, but Derek grabbed his Bible and suggested we do family devotions. We wanted to start out right during these first hours at home with our baby.
Last week we celebrated my birthday! Derek and I had a nice birthday date (saw Jurassic World - tied in nicely with the original movies, I liked it), and then we enjoyed a quiet evening at home eating cheesecake and watching another movie (McFarland, USA - I liked it). It was a nice way to recover from vacation last week!
Last weekend my baby turned ONE year old! We threw a little party for him on Sunday, just for close family and friends.
I'm not sure what made me decide on a rubber duck theme - it just came to my mind one day and seemed perfect. It turned out to be a really good choice, because it is so easy to make rubber ducky-themed decorations and food!
I'm not sure what made me decide on a rubber duck theme - it just came to my mind one day and seemed perfect. It turned out to be a really good choice, because it is so easy to make rubber ducky-themed decorations and food!
Here are all the details:
-Rubber Ducky Cake. My sister is into cake decorating, and she made this adorable cake for Clyde's party! I thought it turned out perfectly, and it really was the centerpiece for the theme/decorations!
-Smash cake. Also my sister. It was the cutest little cake!
-Pudding cups. I just bought clear plastic cups, made six boxes of Jello pudding, and dyed them blue, then stuck a rubber duck on top.
-Cookies. I used Pillsbury's Blue Raspberry cookie mix and frosting, which I bought at Walmart. Then I burned an entire batch, so I made my own blue raspberry jello cookies using this recipe.
-Punch. I mixed one bottle of Welch's Chillers Blue Raspberry drink with two bottles of lemon-lime pop. I added a packet of blue raspberry Koolaid mix, just to intensify the color. Then I three some rubber duckies in on top!
-Popcorn. I used blue raspberry jello and this recipe to make the jello popcorn.
-Sandwiches. Just tuna fish, cut with a rubber ducky cookie cutter.
-Picture banner. I printed out the monthly pictures of Clyde that I have been taking and hung them with baker's twine and mini clothespins.
-Rubber duck banner. I used scrapbook paper and the rubber ducky cookie cutter as a stencil.
-Chalkboard. Made at one of our MOPS meetings this year! It even matched my color scheme.
-Paper fans, balloons, streamers. Bought them on Amazon - they have so many color choices!
-Water bottles. I used scrapbook paper and washi tape to match them to the party color scheme.
-Bow tie. I made that bow tie for Clyde, and I also made a matching bow tie for Wyatt and hair bow for Gwen. They turned out so cute! There are whales on them, not ducks, but it matched the colors (and whales…water…ducks - it works right?).
-Ten Little Rubber Ducks book. This is the book on which I based our party color scheme (royal blue, teal, yellow). I got a copy for Clyde and had all our party guests write birthday messages inside!
I am really happy that the rubber ducky theme randomly came to mind, because it was simple and easy to pull off! It took a little while to make the food, but that was the hardest part - the decorations came together really easily. This was an inexpensive theme to work with, and it turned out really cute!
If you want to share, here is the pinnable image! For more inexpensive party ideas you can check out my group Pinterest board "Great Party Ideas" (or comment if you are interested in contributing to it!).
For more family pictures at the party, check out my photo blog (or subscribe to my newsletter - I'll send out links)!