Sunday, April 20, 2014

A most epic birthday celebration

Three cheers for sleeping babies!  Let's all do a quick sleep dance (I have no idea what that looks like, so improvise) so I can write an epic birthday post.

You know, if and when I ever stop blogging, I will probably check in once a year, well now twice, just so I can do birthday recaps.  I love birthdays and even with all the stress and the last-minute and the no sleep, I really love doing it.  I love celebrating my babies and ironically, I thought of a working theme for Andrea's first birthday just today.  It may end up being something different between now and then, but the thoughts have already started swirling for my second baby's first party.

But this post is about my first baby.  And how she's no longer a baby.  I think when you turn three you're officially a little kid, which makes me sad but at the same time she is turning into such an amazing little person that I'm so excited to be able to watch her grow.  I know I'm biased, but Sofia really is the coolest kid out there.

So let's talk birthdays!  However, I'm feeling a teensy bit nostalgic so will you join me for a quick walk down memory lane?
My sweet girl on her first birthday; it was a garden party theme.

Birthday number two was all about Yo Gabba Gabba.

This year, Lightning McQueen was in the house.
This is the best picture I have of Sofia because the kid would not stand still.
Most of my other pictures are more like this.

I asked Sofia over and over again what kind of birthday she wanted.  She's obsessed with Frozen right now and I was sure that's what she would want for her birthday.  But true to form, she surprised me and every single time I asked "Do you want Lightning McQueen or Frozen?" she'd holler out "Lightning McQueen!"  She never wavered, she was never unsure, so Lightning McQueen it is.

Now, a Cars birthday is usually associated with boys and while that didn't faze me in the slightest, I *was* a little unsure where to begin.  Lucky for me, Cars is a very popular birthday theme and there was already a blogger that did a Cars birthday for her daughter.  I am not trying to reinvent the wheel and I say with no shame that I used a ton of elements from her party and found other elements on Pinterest.  I don't think I had one original idea and I'm okay with that.

First up was the invitation.

I searched Etsy and found a super cute design from KraftyKansas - had to give my home state some love!  Turnaround time was super fast and I had the image printed at Ofiice Depot - easy peasy.

But wait, let me back up.  I was actually late printing and sending the invites because I didn't have a location for the longest time.  The blogger I was copying rented a movie theater for her party.  That sounded like the coolest idea in the world so of course I had to rent a movie theater too.  Except, I couldn't find what I wanted.  I found a theater I could rent but I couldn't show my own movie, and what's the point of a Cars themed party if you show The Lego Movie, I ask you?!  Then I found a theater that would let me show my own movie but I couldn't have my own food, which also wouldn't work because I *had* to have themed food with my themed birthday party.  I mean, DUH.  Like I'm going to serve non-themed food.  What am I, an animal?

I'd just about given up on the movie theater idea and was just going to have the party at the house again when my girlfriend suggested The Strand.  It was a 40 minute drive from my house, but they would let me show my own movie, have my own food, I could set up the night before, *and* it wasn't an arm and a leg to rent!  For that, I will drive 40 minutes.  I got my movie theater!

Then came decorations.  Dusty was kind enough to provide some printables for the party, but not all of them and I had a very specific vision for what I wanted.  I intended to make them myself, then I remembered that I don't have the first clue about Photoshop. I was able to find a free version online and I was able to erase backgrounds on the images, but that alone took me several hours.  I asked my girlfriend for her help because she knows thismuch more than I do about Photoshop and it took us several more hours to try and figure out how to resize pictures and put them on a background.  We finally turned the project over to her husband who is a computer genius and he was like ClickClickDragDropClickClickSaveDONE.  It was seriously a joke how fast he did everything and how good it all looked.  So while I would like to contribute to the Internet and give out printables and all that, I got nothing.  I barely know how to upload pictures to my own blog.

How kick-ass is this logo!?
I got it from NhelyDesigns and put it on everything I could.

My girlfriend's husband designed everything for me, from the birthday banner to the food labels.  If it was printed, he designed it and I was so grateful to him.  But that meant I had a lot of cutting and taping and gluing to do and I'm super bummed that I didn't get to use all of his designs, which was totally on me because once again, I ran out of time and bit off more than I could chew.  It's all good though because it turned out to be a wonderful party.  Now, you'll have to excuse the photos because it was a movie theater so it was pretty dark but I'm sure you'll get the idea.
I fixated on a lot of details for the party.  
Some might say it was unnecessary, I say that's what makes a party.
So of course my girls had to have coordinating outfits.
From KooCooSay

The Strand is a single-screen, old-timey, mom and pop 
movie theater and it was perfect.
It was the perfect size and we had the whole place to ourselves.

Even though we brought in all our own food, the concession stand was
open for anyone who wanted soda or candy.

There was a separate party room but everyone pretty much stayed in the theater.
We used the party room for gifts, food prep and coats.
They already had the red tablecloths which worked out perfectly and I sure did return the ones I'd purchased for a refund.  Keep those receipts!
I bought five yards of checkered fabric from JoAnns, cut and hemmed them and they
were perfect table toppers.

There was a foyer at the back of the theater and that's where we had the main party stuff.
Yes, I was setting up as the guests arrived.  One of these days I'll get it together.
Give me a couple more parties and I'll have this down to a science.


One thing I did right and I'm really proud of were the cupcakes.  I made them several weeks beforehand and froze them and they thawed beautifully.  I seriously might do this from now on.  Also, they're from a mix but I doctored them and I got lots of compliments on how good they tasted.  Also plus, you NEED to use this frosting.  It takes two days to make but it is SO worth it.  My cupcakes were the bomb, which was absolute torture when I had leftovers and then decided to cut sugar out of my life.  

Another thing I fixated on were the food labels.  I had themed food so I needed cute labels for all my food.  Again, I straight up copied off of Dusty's party.  No shame, people.  

 I wanted to go for a hybrid between her food label and pit pass for my food labels
and my friend's husband did an amazing job.

I think he did an amazing job.

I had labels for Ramone's Body Art - that's where the kids could put on temporary tattoos, Sally's Cozy Cone Fruit Cups, Luigi's white- and black-wall tires - those were chocolate and powdered donuts, Maters Taters - potato chips, Doc's Dipsticks - those were veggie sticks and Flo's H20 Cafe.
I loved how her water bottles turned out.

This was the first stop.  
I got some wipes and put them in a lunch box 
that I found on clearance at Target the night before.
After you washed up, you could put on a tattoo from 
Ramone's House of Body Art.
The bottom part of his sign says "Get the ghost flames!"
Then it was time to get some sandwiches.
I did all finger foods because we were in a movie theater and I didn't want
people to try and cut things with a plate balanced on their laps.
Then we had Mater's Taters.
His sign said "Like puh-tater, but without the Puh!"
You'd have to know every line of the movie to get the puns
but seriously, coming up with them was the most fun for me.
Each cozy cone was supposed to have a dollop of whipped cream on top
but again, I ran out of time.  
I'm going to have to prep more food the night before, but I was scared
that it would get wilty and slimy so I left the majority of the food prep for the day of the party
and with only thirty minutes to get it all set up, it just didn't happen.
So I just set the whipped cream next to the cones and told everyone to help themselves.
I was literally running around the table, trying to snap a picture
of each thing with our guests patiently waiting to eat so this one was super blurry
which is a shame because it's my favorite.
"Look at me!  Here I am!  Love me!"
Guido's Pit Stop Popcorn was in the back and Flo's H20 cafe was the last stop on Route 66.
Also, ask me how much I love my food label holders.
The answer is SO FREAKIN MUCH.  
I'm using them for every party from now on forever.
Once everyone got their food, it was time to get situated for the movie.
There was a stage in front of the screen that turned out to be perfect 
for sprawling out and watching the movie.
She did such a good job blowing out her candle!

Most of the kids stayed still for nearly the entire movie, but towards the end they got up and started running around which was totally fine.  It went amazingly well, the venue was perfect, Sofia had a blast and I felt like it was a success.
I got a racing pennant and I was going to string it criss-crossed over the food table
but yeah.  Ran out of time.  
The birthday banner came out really great though!

We had a pretty wide age range for the kids so I wracked my brain
trying to think of a party favor that would appeal to a 12 year old as well as a three year old
and I came up with stoplight playdoh.  Well you know, *I* didn't;  Pinterest did.
But you know what I mean.
It didn't take long to make and I think they came out really cute!
Sofia ran and played for nearly three hours straight
and I barely had her buckled in before she was knocked out and snoring.
I'd say that's a successful party.

The next day, we went to Disney on Ice.  It was another birthday present and I wasn't sure that Sofia would get it or sit still but she was entranced.  She didn't stop talking about the 'princess ice-skating' for days.
I don't think she blinked the whole time.
She and Carter loved it!
I seriously love these people.

Aimee was there when I was laboring with Andrea, Marcus designed everything for Sofia's party, Aimee helped with setting up for the party because I wouldn't have gotten anything done without her.  Then they treated us to Disney on Ice for Sofia's birthday?!  I'm not joking, I LOVE them.  Sofia has stayed the night at their house, and we've joked that we should just get a compound somewhere and be sister-wives, but we'll keep our own husbands.  It's just so we can hang out together all the time.
And while I'm not trying to marry the two of them off,
I sure would love if they stayed friends forever.

So, we had to have Sofia's birthday party the weekend before her actual birthday because Drew had a last minute work trip and had to leave town the day after her birthday.  He came back for her actual birthday but then had to leave again, but not before we celebrated just a little more.
I took the leftover cupcakes to her school the next week
and they had a little party for her and she got *another* crown!
Drew likes to leave messages for her since he leaves before she gets up.
When he got home, she opened her presents from 
Mommy and Daddy.
Every doctor needs a coat.
She's very serious about her craft.
"Just a little pinch."
She also got some more magnetic building blocks.
Either a doctor or engineer, people.  I'm working
that subliminal messaging now.
My sister even flew up for Sofia's birthday!
My mom came up too.
*That* was a fun time.
But also, look how big my little baby is getting!
The Sunday after Sofia's birthday, she went to an Easter egg hunt
at one of her little classmate's house.
It was so much fun watching her scramble around gathering eggs!

So, we ended up preparing and celebrating Sofia's birthday for two weeks straight, with Drew being home for about four of those fourteen days and silly me, I was trying to thrive during that time *and* dealing with thrush.  At the end of those two weeks I was delirious and I'd abandoned all attempts at thriving and trying to cut sugar out of my life.  I need fruit and cupcakes and maple syrup in order to stay sane and deal with my husband traveling as much as he does.

And that, my friends is how my big girl celebrated three whole years on this Earth.  She is the light of my life and I am so blessed I get to be her mother and I get to celebrate her like this every year.  She's the greatest kid a mom could ask for and I know all moms say that, but seriously, even when she's trying me (and good Lord, does she try me) she's still the greatest.

I love you, Sofia.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

The T word

Sorry I fell off posting; it was actually fun posting every day and it was interesting to do a loose day-in-the-life type week.  I'll have a birthday recap for you in a second but the reason I've been gone this week is because I'm dealing with another headache.  Last week, it was hectic birthday planning and I'd rather plan fifty birthdays than deal with this bullshit.

Andrea and I have thrush.

I had no idea what thrush was because Sofia didn't have it so I was completely clueless.  I thought it was just milk on her tongue.  I was over at my girlfriend's house and she was holding Andrea when she looked at me and was like, "Um, you know she's got thrush right?"  I gasped, clutched my pearls and said "What's thrush?!"

I'll tell you what thrush is.  It's the mother-effin' DEVIL, that's what it is.

I ran to the pharmacy, got some Gentian Violet and painted her up for seven days.  It made a little bit of difference, but I didn't know that we both have to be treated at the same time and I didn't treat myself, so while it cleared up a little bit, just as soon as I stopped the Gentian Violet, it came right back because she'd probably given it to me and I gave it right back to her.  Then I started having pain so I painted myself with the Gentian Violet and hoped that would help some.
My poor baby
This was after she nursed because I had painted my nipples.
When you put it on the baby, you're only supposed to paint their tongue and the inside of their cheeks.  I don't want anyone Googling thrush, seeing this picture and thinking you're supposed to paint the outside of their cheeks.

I was still having pain and her tongue was still coated so we went to the doctor on Monday who confirmed that Andrea has a mild case of thrush.  She and I both got some Diflucan, I got some nipple ointment and I've been cursing ever since.  

This shit HURTS and I'm heartbroken that my baby might be in pain too.  She hasn't been fussy so I'm hoping it's a mild enough case that maybe she's not in pain.  It just sucks.

Apparently, to get rid of the yeast you have to starve it.  That means that I have to mess with one of those elimination diets, which is pretty much my worst nightmare.  I don't do well with cutting food out of my diet.  It's not good for my brain.  However, I don't have a choice; I want my baby to be healthy again so I'm looking at The Candida Diet, which is a big fat pile of bullshit.

Thrush is a yeast infection, so to get rid of it, they say you have to starve the yeast.  Well, yeast feeds on sugar so you have to cut sugar out of your diet.  Except,

there's sugar in EVERYTHING.  EVERY MOTHER-EFFIN THING YOU CAN THINK OF.

The only things I can safely eat are meat, vegetables, eggs and plain yogurt.  Sounds YUMMY.

I'm using my nipple ointment, I'm taking the Diflucan, I'm on probiotics, washing everything in hot water, all that shit.  But it makes no difference if the food I eat feeds the yeast.  This sucks BALLS.

I need to hear from you, my friends.  Have you dealt with thrush?  How long did it take to go away?  Did you do an elimination diet?  It's only been a couple of days and I'm twitching.  I want sandwiches, I want fruit, I want cupcakes, I want fruit snacks, I want juice, I want pancakes and syrup, I want sugar!!!!

Please help.  Remind me that I'm doing this for my daughter, that this sacrifice is necessary for her health.  Remind me that it's temporary.  Remind me that I'm strong and I can do this.  Remind me that cutting this stuff out will make the thrush go away faster.

Because let me tell you, a sandwich with no bread is just STUPID and reading something only to find out it has sugar makes me want to throw things.  Why the F is there sugar in mayonnaise?

Hopefully I'll be back soon with a birthday recap and I can stare longingly at all the delicious cupcakes we served.  And the sandwiches.  And the donuts.

Ugh, let me stop.  I should probably go eat some carrots and hummus or something.

Thrush is the devil.


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Friday, April 4, 2014

Nothing is ever all bad

They say there's no rest for the weary. Or is it the wicked? At any rate, there's no rest when you have two babies and you're solo parenting for the week, night and day, all you, all the time. 

Now, there may be no rest but your body adapts. One of my favorite phrases is yoga is 'resting in motion.' I used to say it when i was halfway into a tough class and I could feel that my people were working hard. Simply saying the words changed the room and it can change your mindset. 

For me, that's the most important part about solo parenting - finding those moments where I can rest in motion.  Because there is no finish line; it's not like I just have to put my head down for a few days and then it'll be over.  It's not like pregnancy where there are bits you can enjoy but for the most part you're just hanging on until it's over and you'll never have to do it again.  I mean, of course that's how it is for me; my hat is off to all you women who glow and love every second of pregnancy.  Please spread your pixie dust on the world.

No, this won't be the last time I have to solo parent.  Actually, my husband is going to be gone for most of the month of April.  He gets back tomorrow but there's no time to rest.  We have a jam packed birthday weekend and he leaves again Sunday night.  So it's imperative that I rest in motion - there's really no other option.  And that's precisely what I did.

Just after I finished my last post I was able to get Sofia down for a nap.  And wonder upon wonders, I was able to put Andrea down to sleep as well!
It was amazing.

I had a ton of things to do.  There was laundry to fold, dishes to put away, birthday stuff to do but I was reckless.  I threw caution to the wind and I TOOK A SHOWER.  A long one.  It was the most beautiful experience and it was just what I needed.  I tell you what, there's not much that a long hot shower can't make better.  I even put on lotion!  Talk about luxury!  I was renewed and able to be present for my girls and it was great.  Wednesday night was so much better than Tuesday night and Sofia didn't even poop on the floor! 

Thursday was great too.  Sofia had school and while she was there I went back to Office Depot to finish the printing, which was infinitely easier with one sleeping baby in the Ergo and a competent person behind the desk.  I was in and out in minutes and I felt so accomplished and stress free.  We came straight home after school, I fed Sofia and we even got out for a little walk.  She took a great nap and the day went smoothly.

Now, that doesn't mean that we didn't have moments.  Usually, I make it through my day with Andrea in the Ergo but sometimes it's better when she's in her bouncy chair.  She would prefer to be close to me and I don't blame her, but when I'm making dinner and messing around with knives or a hot stove, it's better for all of us if she's in her chair.  And I had my moment while trying to make dinner because Andrea was in her chair screaming her face off because she was thirty kinds of pissed at me, Sofia was outside in the dog pen, naked except for her rain boots and a cardigan and the new recipe I tried was not working out and the food was sticking to the pan and smoking up my kitchen.  The crying was making my chest tight, the food sticking was pissing me off and Sofia was out in the dog pen.  Where the dog poops.  Those are the moments where I really miss having an extra set of hands and I curse solo parenting, because there's no one to holler to go get Sofia or to pick up the baby or to help with dinner.  It's all me, all the time.

I turned the heat down, grabbed Andrea and ran out to bring Sofia inside.  
"Hi Mommy!  I need pants!"
"I see that.  Can you please come inside?  Dinner's going to be ready soon."
"Uh, no thanks.  I'm good."  The things my kid says sometimes...
"Sweetheart I really need you to come inside.  You don't have pants on and dinner's almost ready.  I'll let you watch TV!"  *sinking to bribery*

I opened the gate to let her out and of course she takes off running across the yard, so I have to awkwardly chase her with the baby in my arms and trying to grab her - when did she get so fast?  It took forever to get her back inside and by some miracle dinner wasn't ruined and actually tasted pretty good.  Of course, Sofia wanted none of it and had chips and cheese for dinner. 

And we weren't meltdown-free either.  Banging on the keyboard of Mommy's computer is the most fun ever so of course when I told her to stop and took the computer away, well, that was cause for Tantrum #1.  I got a bonus meltdown at bathtime - apparently, when Sofia puts marker over her entire body, backside too, I'm supposed to leave it there for all eternity, not wash it off.  Silly Mommy.
Mom, this is my Look.

I'm not joking when I say that the child had marker on every square inch of her body, and it took her less than five minutes while I finished dinner.  Again, extra hands would've been nice but I guess I just have to be thankful that it was just marker and it was just on her, not the walls.  Once again, I put Andrea in her bouncy chair while Sofia got her bath and once she was in the water, she was fine.  What is it about these kids?  You'd have thought I was trying to put her in boiling lava, yet three minutes later she's splashing around "I'm swimming like a shark Mom!  Look at me go!"  Even Andrea was okay in her chair - I think she liked watching Sofia in the water and I'm really looking forward to putting the two of them in the bath together and watching them play.

Even bedtime was much smoother than Wednesday night and we settled fairly quickly.  Unfortunately, Sofia had a bit of a stuffy nose and couldn't get comfortable. "Mom my nose is broken! Fix it!"  And then Andrea chimed in with a most impressive middle of the night poop which is why I'm awake.  I got them settled back down and asleep but now I can't sleep.  

Honestly though, it's nice to be able to write.  It's nice to get this moment to myself and while I'm sure I'm going to pay for this in the morning when I'm zombie tired, I'm enjoying it now.

Rest in motion.  Just because it never stops, just because the job is 24-7, there will be moments of peace.  Just watch for them and be present when they happen and you'll be able to keep going.  

That's what works for me anyway.  

Peace, my friends.

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