Sunday, March 1, 2015

Andrea's pink and gold first birthday party

I've been working on this post for two days now; fingers crossed I can actually finish this time!

I sure am glad February is over my friends, because it hit us hard.  I thought it was going to be off to a good start because we got to have Andrea's first birthday party on her actual birthday (the 7th) and that's got to be a good sign, right?  Except, no.

The party was great, but as with any event, the planning is always a production and her party was no different.  I wanted everything to run smoothly and I didn't want to be running around doing a million things last minute.  I started planning and prepping a month in advance with every spare second I had and with help from my mom and my friend Aimee, the party was a great success.  But honestly, I was really looking forward to having a break once it was over.  Parties take a lot of effort and staying up late every night was taking its toll on me.  Unfortunately, Sofia got sick the day after the party with an ear infection and the winter yuck.  I felt terrible that she was sick but I thanked my lucky stars that at least Andrea and I were healthy.  I should've kept my mouth shut, because Andrea got sick just as Sofia was getting better, then Drew went on a work trip to Europe and I got sick and the world ended.  

It's one thing when your kids are sick; it's another thing entirely when it's the mom and the kids and there's no one around to tag you out when you can't take another step.  I was alone, I felt like I'd been beaten with a bag of lemons and I was coughing up a lung. The baby couldn't breathe so she couldn't sleep; she was exhausted and miserable, Sofia wasn't back to 100% yet, so she was clingy and whiny and it was enough to plunge me straight into despair.  There were a couple of times that all three of us were just sitting there crying.  I seriously didn't think we were going to make it through and I was questioning all of my life choices that had gotten me to that point.  I hated everything about my life and I cursed everything in between the coughing fits, the crying, the nose-wiping, the sneezing, the 'I'm hot Mom', the 'I'm cold Mom', the body aches and the praying to die. 

That was our February.  It wasn't pretty.

However, we're all better, I'm still married, Drew came home and things are back to normal for the moment so before anything else happens, let me tell you about Andrea's awesome birthday party!


I wracked my brain for a good theme for Andrea's birthday.  I was definitely feeling that second-child guilt and I wanted her party to be as good as Sofia's first birthday.  I just went back and read that post and I'm feeling all the feels right now.  So much has happened in four short years...

But back to Andrea's first birthday.  I chose pink and gold for the theme, because if we're being honest here, I couldn't think of another one I liked as much.  I searched Pinterest for a theme that jumped out at me and nothing did, so I drew my inspiration from her nursery.  Thankfully pink and gold birthdays are a thing, so I didn't have to re-invent the wheel; I just had to pick which elements I wanted and go with it.

With each birthday party I've planned, I've learned and refined my process and while every birthday is a production, I'm getting better at it.  Of course, Drew would disagree and he lectures me every year about doing too much and every year I ignore him.  As long as I have breath in my body and pennies in the bank account, my babies are getting elaborate birthday parties.  Birthdays and anniversaries are my thing and it's just better for all involved not to get in my way.  To his credit, Drew did just that.  I did everything I wanted for the party and he just got out of the way.  That's what you call growth in a marriage.

Once again, I made cupcakes and her layer cake and froze them ahead of time.  Also!  I figured out how to get even layers and pink food coloring without dye!  I really want to make a whole separate post about the cake because I love cake that much, but I just can't keep this information to myself.
I bought these baking strips at JoAnn's and they are game-changing.
You soak them in water, wrap them around your pans
and voila!  Even layers without having to saw off the tops!
This deserves its own post and maybe I'll write it one day
but these little guys from Target will give you 
the color pink and it's magical!

But enough about the cake, this is about my baby.
Gah, she's so cute.

Did you ever see a cuter baby?

I mean, seriously.

I had her pictures done by my amazingly talented neighbor Karen Lord.  She's so sweet and professional and it was an absolute joy to work with her.  If you're local, I highly recommend her!  

To prepare for her birthday photoshoot, I searched high and low for the perfect onesie and I finally found it at KinKin Designs.  I'm always nervous buying things online because you can never be sure of quality.  I didn't want the onesie to be thin and I didn't want the glitter to be cheap to where it comes off on everything.  I crossed my fingers and placed my order and I was so happy with the result!  First, shipping was super fast which is always good when you procrastinate.  Not that I do that, ahem.  The cotton on the onesie was nice and thick and even though there was no label telling you the brand, I knew it was good quality.  The design was perfect as well, just the right size and the glitter stayed put.  Overall, I was a very happy customer and I definitely recommend this shop.  I took it to the embroidery place at the mall and had her name stitched on it before I'd picked out the tutu, so it was quite a happy accident that the colors matched.  

Now, I've talked about how I dress my babies before, and while I've relaxed on my 'no tutu' rule, I won't ever put giant bows on them.  I was going to put an example, but I've gotten soft in my old age; I don't want to post a picture of a baby in a giant bow and make fun of them on my blog, but you get the idea.  The bows or flower headbands that are half the size of the kid's head?  It's a no-go in this house.  

With that in mind, I found some simple, well-made bows from cutebows4girls  and ordered a pack.  They're great quality and this is another shop you should check out.  No one is paying me or giving me free stuff to talk about their shops; I'm just one happy customer sharing info so you can be happy too.

Besides, no matter what's in her hair she just tries to take them off anyway.

I didn't print invitations this time because we only invited invited five families and three of them were Drew's work people.  I charged him with sending them a quick email and the other two were Andrea's godparents and my neighbor so invitations seemed like overkill.
They came all the way from Pennsylvania and it was 
so great to have them with us!

So let's talk food and decorations!  The party was at the house, which made party prep a little easier.  I worked on things as I had the time and just set them in the dining room as I completed them.
I got a heart punch on sale at JoAnn's and made the cupcake toppers
with some gold glitter scrapbook paper and toothpicks.
Sofia even helped make a couple of them!
I also wanted macarons and I couldn't find them anywhere
around here so Aimee brought some from Pennsylvania.
Oh yeah, it was fancy.

 I may have done a little much in the sweets department.  We had cake, cupcakes, macarons, creme puffs, cookies and brownies in addition to regular food.  Also, we had the party at three in the afternoon and that makes for horrible lighting so my pictures aren't the greatest.  My apologies, but you get the idea.

These beautiful and tasty cookies are from
and pictures don't do them justice.  They were gorgeous
and I'm crazy impressed that they do all the designs by hand.

I'd asked the lady making the cookies to use/find gold glitter
but she couldn't so we made do with yellow.
However, my neighbor Monica made the creme puffs and
she found gold glitter at Marshall's so she wins.

I made a pineapple lemonade and floated some frozen strawberries
for our pink and gold drink and it was a hit.
Whenever I make punches, I'm always worried they'll be too sweet
but this one was just right.
By comparison, the punch I made for Andrea's baptism gave 
everyone a sugar headache and we all had to water it down.
I really shouldn't ever try to modify recipes if I haven't tried them first.

I'm bummed I didn't get a shot of the cake once it was cut, but
I promise the layers were beautiful and even and it
tasted great to boot!
doctored a box cake this time but for Sofia's birthday I think I'm going to
try my hand at making a cake from scratch.

For the regular food, we had ham and turkey sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, white bean dip, hot spinach and artichoke dip, and pureed pea crostinis and hummus with sun-dried tomato crostinis.  I wanted to have more food but they all convinced me that what we had was plenty.  For me, it's not a party without cake and food and I would consider it a terrible faux pas if I invited people to my party and I didn't have anything to feed them.  Also, I'm learning about portioning!  We usually have way too much food left over at the end of our parties and this time the leftovers weren't overwhelming.  We only ate on them for a couple of days versus the week we were eating tiny sandwiches and meatballs that we had at Sofia's second birthday party.  And third birthday party.  I'm telling you, I'm getting good at this birthday party thing.

I kept decorations pretty minimal, but I knew I wanted to showcase Andrea's weekly pictures.  I took Sofia's weekly pictures too but I couldn't get it together enough to have them printed in time for her party and I didn't want to make the same mistake again.  Again, the lighting was terrible but I bought teeny clothespins and spray painted them with gold glitter paint and they turned out so cute!  For some reason, I didn't think that 52 pictures was going to be that many and I envisioned one string of photos and I was going to have her one week and one year picture on each end.  Please note: 52 pictures is a lot.  It doesn't seem that way but it is.  Remember that.  

People had varying opinions on her changes; some said she stopped changing around fourteen weeks, some said you could see subtle changes every week.  I really liked seeing all the pictures side by side because being with her 24-7 sometimes makes it difficult to notice the little changes and for the record, I saw changes in every single week once I had the opportunity to see the pictures all together.

I got the wood frames at Michael's and spray painted them with gold glitter and 
glued some cardstock to the backs to frame the pictures.

I found gold glitter stick-on letters at Michael's and that
saved me a ton of time making the banner.
I made another one for the dining room archway
that said Happy 1st Birthday Andrea, 
but I didn't get a shot of that one.
 We wrapped some balloons on the newel post and that was it for decorations.
I wanted to make a tassel garland for the stair rail but 
we ran out of time and a tassel garland is harder to make
than it looks. 

Besides, Andrea was the star of the show anyway.

It's not a first birthday if you don't have some baked goods to smash.
That's a rule.

We all sang to Andrea and Sofia and Aimee's son Carter 
took care of blowing out the big candles.  
I didn't plan that, but I'm so glad they had something to blow out
because Sofia definitely didn't understand that this wasn't her party
and was a little confused that all this wasn't for her.

I'm pretty sure Andrea didn't know it was for her either,
but I know she loved her cupcake.

After a quick bath to wash the cupcake out of her hair,
the birthday girl was back and ready to party.

We had a great time, and once everyone left it was time to clean up.
I mean, it was time to fashion a sassy gold skirt out of the 
birthday decorations.

The next morning, the birthday girl
had a wonderful time playing with the tissue paper from her presents.
She could have gotten bags of just tissue paper and she 
would have been thrilled.

Whew!  I got to finish a post, Andrea's birthday party is in the bag, Sofia's party is going to be great, my birthday is tomorrow, we go on vacation in a few days, we're all healthy again, and the kids are taking naps!  

I think that calls for a happy dance.
I'm just going to leave this right here.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hey it's still January, I can say it!  You guys!  My babies are asleep! 

Wait no, forget I said anything.  I don't want to jinx myself.  But woohoo I get to write!

Let's talk Christmas!  How was yours?  Ours was awesome and wonderful; it was just us in the house and it was peaceful and fun and just what we needed.
Andrea's two front teeth poked through two days before Christmas.
How's that for timing?
Sofia was much more aware of Christmas this year and it was so much fun
to watch her open presents and be so enthusiastic.
"Oh wow this is AWESOME!"
"This is so COOL!"
She got ALL the dress-up dresses this year and she wears them
all multiple times a day.
She loves her big and poufy Rapunzel dress the most, but they
all see heavy rotation.
Of course, Andrea was more interested in the paper and boxes
than the actual presents but it's all good.

After Christmas, we headed out of town because they had to do some work on the house and we didn't want to have to dodge workers with two small kids in the house.  Yeah, they had to do work on our brand new house.  Let me tell you something, this new house thing is is a trip.  HGTV lied to me; I thought when you go into a brand new house it's all "Wow!  It's so beautiful and perfect!  Everything is in its place and in perfect working order, let's sit in our brand new kitchen and marvel at our good fortune!"  In real life?  Doors don't close all the way, walls have to be ripped out because they were done wrong the first time, it takes four tries to get the shower built right, lights take forever to get installed, cracks appear overnight, and it's an endless stream of workers fixing something.

So instead of dealing with all that, we drove a few hours south to Kiawah Island, South Carolina and we had ourselves a birthday/New Year cele-cation.  You know, celebration and vacation?  It's a new word, I just made it up, go with it.

It was chilly, but we bundled up and had a little beach time.
Sofia got a fishing pole and was eager to see if she could catch anything.
She didn't have any luck that day, but we have plans to get back out there
and catch us some fish.
New Year's Eve was Drew's birthday and we had Carolina barbeque for 
his birthday lunch.  Sofia loved the burnt ends, which is major because
these days she is the pickiest eater on the planet and it drives me 
absolutely insane.
Andrea on the other hand, eats like a grownup and that day she did WORK
on a catfish po' boy.  My sweet baby can EAT and she claps her hands
every time I strap her into her highchair.
"It's yogurt time y'all!"

We stayed at the Andell Inn and ERMAHGERD.  That hotel is the most beautiful hotel I've ever stayed in and I wanted to take a picture of every single thing and bring it all into my home.  Oh wait, I *did* take pictures of every single thing so I can bring it all into my home.

  I need this rope bench swing thing on my front porch
and that light may look a little garish in the daylight but it was
AWESOME at night.  I really just wanted to sit on the rope bench swing and just 
stare at the light like a human moth.

At $5200 a pop, I won't *quite* be able to have those chandeliers but
good LORD they were gorgeous.

This dumpy, squishy, soft and divine leather sofa was absolute perfection 
and the small people in my home would destroy it in 2.5 seconds.

I want a console table for our entry and Drew is going to build one for me.
He doesn't know that yet.
This giant mirror is VELVET.  And TUFTED.  
And I DIED when I saw it.
Then I came back from the dead and went into the women's restroom
where I DIED again when I saw these mirrors.  
I NEED these mirrors in my bathroom.

Oh sure, go ahead and tie some branches together and make a completely
bad-ass egg chair.
Then, why don't you put it right next to some completely kick-ass
modern wingback chairs and because I haven't had enough heart attacks, 
stick a Sputnik floor lamp right in between them.
Oh, sorry for tripping you, that was just my tongue on the floor.
I'm gonna need this giant head-scratcher chandelier in my entry
please and thank you.
I've actually seen these mirrors on Pinterest as a DIY somewhere. 
Sometime.  Maybe I'll do it myself and I'll become a Pinterest sensation.
Is that a thing?
I don't even know.  I'm high off reliving these design moments.
I'm not playing you guys, I live and breathe design and this hotel was
a freakin' dream come true.
Plus also, can someone please cut down a GIANT DAMN TREE and
make it into a table for me? 

After our wonderful and relaxing cele-cation, we came home to our
beautiful perfect house.  HA!  They are STILL doing work!
I'm pretty sure these houses have guest bedrooms not for guests
but for the workers who never ever leave because the 
work is never ever done.
If I ever get to blog again, I'm going to tell you about our shower.
The shit is EPIC.

That picture is of the carpet runner that I would like to eventually have installed on our stairs.  The dog is killing the wood with her nails and I live in fear of the kids slipping on the stairs and falling to their deaths so a runner is in order.  Except!  Runners are STOOPID expensive and frankly, we ain't got it.  So until the bank account gets a leeeetle fatter, we have to wait on a stair runner, but I still had them come out and measure and give me a price, just so I have a number in my head when I'm vomiting over the expense.

PS, the one I chose is the bottom left, not the beige one.
I wanted something fun but muted and this one sang to me, and 
with a new sofa and new rug, the runner will be perfect.
Of course, that's not going to be for a while because 
we have other stuff we have to pay for first,
but I have a vision and it's awesome.

For the time being, I'm limited in my house decorating because we took a massive hit when we sold the house in Reading.  If we had had a crystal ball and we'd known we were only going to be in Pennsylvania for two years, we wouldn't have done anything to the house, because redoing the kitchen, laundry room and front yard cost a pretty penny and we didn't recoup those expenses.  So, we have to let the savings account rest from the beating it took before we start again with the decorating and the spending.

That doesn't mean I can't do *any* decorating; I've actually gotten some things accomplished since I last wrote and it's enough to keep my creative needs satisfied.  If the kids stay on this current sleeping streak, I may actually get to write about it!

Currently, my creative outlet is being channeled towards Andrea's first birthday.  YES Y'ALL.  My baby is going to be A YEAR OLD in less than two weeks.  I don't even know how that happened and I'm in shock.  I know everybody says it, but I truly feel like I had her yesterday and I still vividly remember her newborn diapers.
Her birthday is all pink and gold, errywhere and it's going to be great.
Everything is coming together and I'm so excited for the big day
and you know I'll be back to share all the glittery details!



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