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!
Gah, she's so cute.
Did you ever see a cuter baby?
I mean, seriously.
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.
They came all the way from Pennsylvania and it was
so great to have them with us!
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.
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!
I 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
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.
I think that calls for a happy dance.
I'm just going to leave this right here.