Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Dear Riley!

Dear Riley,

Today you are 4.  4 years went by in the blink of an eye.  I tried to make your day as special for you as you are to me.  I think you loved it.  I hope you always have happy memories of your birthdays.

I decorated the house and made pancakes while you slept. I sang Happy Birthday to you about 6 times today. I sang when you woke up and I sang before you ate your birthday pancakes.

One of the perks of running a daycare is having enough kids for an instant party.  You loved having people to "celebrate" with you.  You carefully put a hat on everyone and kindly directed them to take a picture.

We went to Chick Fil A for lunch and your party grew by 5 people. You wore your party dress and crown. For a while we had the play area all to ourselves and you and the big kid crew ran wild.  You were momentarily upset when you realized you weren't getting a hamburger for lunch.

You had four outfit changes today. I obliged because it was your special day. You love pretty dresses and looking "jus gorjus". When we went to teatime at the American Girl store you wore the fancy dress Mimi gave you. You brought your baby, Lilypillia.

It was beautiful in the restaurant, all pink, polka dots, and flowers everywhere.  You tried the tea, but you preferred eating the honey.

They made you feel very special at teatime.  The waitress even brought you ice cream with a candle in it and we sang Happy Birthday to you...again.  When we were done with tea I let you take Lilypillia down to the store so you could choose a new outfit for her.  You pushed her around and around the store in a stroller browsing all the options.  You finally chose the birthday set for her.

Your beautiful cousin Eva was there. She is 2 months old today. You love Eva and were so excited she and Aunt Natalie could come to tea. I hope you and Eva grow up to be best friends.

All the excitement and sugar finally got to you on the way home from tea and you passed out in the car.  When we got home you had spaghetti for dinner. It's still one of your favorite meals. You cleaned your plate and then started clamoring for cake. At your request I made chocolate cake with chocolate icing. You were so excited when Daddy brought it out.

We sang Happy Birthday for the last time.  It took you a few tries to get the candles blown out, but you persisted.

You and Camden happily ate cake together at the table. Only the crumbs were left when you were done. You kept showing me your chocolate face.

4 years ago I held you and though I had plenty of hopes and dreams I had no idea what you would be like as a 4 year old.  Now I know why.  My little brain just couldn't imagine the special girl you were going to become.  Happy Birthday dear Riley.  We love you so much!


"Hey Mom? When I go to sleep tonight you can decorate okay? For my birthday? Right, Mom? I'm gonna be 4!  Right, Mom?  Not today, but the next day?  Right?"

Right.  A little Scotch tape and crepe paper.

Some poster board and glitter to make lots of number 4s.

Add a few Ariel balloons.

Tie down a big heart balloon for the Birthday Princess.

Use a paint pen, more poster board, random bits of ribbon, and finger paint, for a special bunting.

Plus some swag should do it.

To celebrate 4 incredible years with our beautiful little girl.  Happy 4th Birthday Riley!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Just Some Pictures

Of my darling three (almost four) year old princess.

Being herself. Acting like a goofball. Hanging in her jams. Cheesing for the camera.  Knows she's being silly.

Doesn't care what anyone thinks.

I wish she could stay that way forever, but I know I won't be able to shelter her from the opinions that will be aimed to hurt her someday.  I worry about that, which I'm keenly aware is useless.

So I push it back and I savor these moments.

Just some pictures.

Of my girl being silly.

The picture of innocence.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Daddy's Little Man

Camden is my buddy, there's no doubt about that. He will play independently throughout the day, but only bits of time go by before he comes in search of me just wanting a hug or snuggle.  Sometimes he'll find me just to grab my leg and give it a hug.  I love it.

But let's be honest. TG is the king of his heart right now. He wakes up everyday and the first thing he asks for is his Dada.  When Dada is home you can usually find Cam with him.

Snuggled by his side.

Watching Sportscenter.  TG finally has a willing ESPN viewing buddy.  He doesn't let his excitement show, but I know it's been a longtime dream.

Happy to be Daddy's little man.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Natural Born


Riley swam for the first time last summer, in August on our Smith Lake trip to be exact. We went to the man made beach and an entire summer of mine and TG's instruction finally clicked.  I stood there in the sunshine with my arms outreached as she pushed off from the bottom and swam to me. It was such a special moment. She did it again, and again and again. Sometimes she would come up sputtering, forget to blow those bubbles, but she was always ready for more.

We have let her "instruction" lapse since the summer, but after Christmas she asked us if she could take swim lessons.  So we signed her up and dug her swimsuits out of storage.

Part of me really wants my kids to have some swimming talent. The other part of me dreads the time commitment I know it takes. Either way I know it's out of my hands because she loves it.

 Can't you tell?

She swam freestyle from the middle to the wall like it was no big thing at this lesson.  I asked her to give me her proud pose.  She said, "How's this?".  Perfect.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Where Has My Baby Gone?

Last Wednesday I looked at Camden and thought, "Where has my baby gone?"

He's been replaced by this adorable and wild, but equally sweet little man that I love to bits.

Who thought it was the funniest thing to color on his belly with a (color wonder) marker.

It was tickling him and he would laugh until he couldn't take it and then start all over again.

At almost 21 months Camden is really coming into his own now. He speaks a lot and while all his words aren't clear he lets you know with the signs he knows and tone of his voice what he means. In the span of a month he added the words: Wub you, Ridee, nack, no, oh no, monk monk, nigh nigh, yum, shirt, shoes, elmo, dog, duck, kitty, moo, book, cake, wader, birdie, Osky, Errrnie, ouchie, and smoody just to name a few. When I get him up in the morning he will ask "Where Dada?" Then if I tell him he's gone, he'll make a pouty face and say "Awwww. Dada at werk. Erry buddy?" Which is his way of telling me he wants to come down and see everybody.

Cam still sleeps like a champ in his crib. He goes to nap and bed without a fuss and happily stays there for 12-13 hours a night. I remember we went through a phase around 7-12 months where he would cry every time he woke up. Now he either bangs really hard on his wall or he sings and calls out Mama? Dada? until we get him. His must have sleep friends are his dear lovey Monk Monk, his fish mobile that plays music and lights up, and now his new Elmo pillow pet. While he can stand and bounce in his crib he has yet to attempt to climb out. I am thankful for that.

The wild and many tantrums we endured from the 18 month mark on have drastically decreased as he has learned how to communicate with us. Most of the time now we can make it through the day with only 2-3 mini meltdowns. 95% of the time his tantrum is over a ball - he wants us to rip one out of the package in Target, he wants a ball from a page in a book, he is pissed that the soft soccer ball in IKEA has a tag on it, he wants a new ball from whatever store we are currently in (really Old Navy you have to sell balls too???) or someone takes one of his hundred balls. He is obsessed with all types of sports balls and is constantly holding, kicking, throwing, or juggling one in his hands.

His comprehension is skyrocketing and I've enjoyed watching him pick up on our family routines. He throws away his own trash, helps clean up the toys when we're done, sings the tubby time song when it's time, puts his dishes into the dishwasher and lays out all our shoes when we tell him we're getting ready to go bye bye. Last week we took him to the mall to get some new clothes at HandM. After we avoided a tantrum over a sa-weet but needlessly expensive motorcycle jacket that we tried on and he did not want to part with, we ended up with a few cute long sleeve tees. There was one in particular that he was so happy to get that he insisted on stripping down at the check out and putting it on. He was just so big standing there grinning and rubbing his belly and looking at me to say "new sherrrt?".

Food is still a battle, but I've learned to stop stressing over it (as much). He loves chicken (grilled, fried, nuggets), corn dogs, mac and cheese, pizza, grilled pb sandwiches, sweets and breakfast foods. Vegetables are a hard sell so I sneak them into smoothies which he LOVES. Some morning he will even come down and open up my cabinet where the blender is and say "Smoody"? He loves yogurt too, and still prefers water and juice over milk.

He loves to play all sorts of games and he's fearless just like his big sister.  If he gets hurt most of the time he'll say "ouchie" and after a quick kiss continues about his way.  He loves wrestling, playing with Riley, bear fighting (as Riley calls it), and when we pretend to be a wild animal and chase him and tackle him.  Cam also likes coloring, painting, playing with the iPad and looking at his books.  Choo choos and all types of vehicles are big right now.  Elmo is still his favorite, obsessed over show, but thankfully he's started watching other things like Little Einsteins, Despicable Me and Shrek.

Camden is the sweetest and funniest little man and we love each other like crazy.  He laughs and smiles easily and we can't help but join in when he does.  Boys are definitely a different ball game than girls (in my opinion), but he's no less darling, obedient, smart or loving than his big sister was at this age. It's just taken me twice as much work to help him get there. I imagine it will always be that way and I'm more than happy to be the one helping him along every step of the way.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy Birthday TG!

My husband is a holiday baby, born three days after Christmas.

The first time we celebrated one of his birthdays together I was 20 and he was turning 22. We were young and so very in love.  We were a long distance relationship and so giddy to be back together over Christmas break.   I was so excited to be included in his family's birthday celebration for him.  I can still remember standing in their kitchen, singing to him and watching him blow out those 22 candles and feeling proud that I was part of his life.

It's been ten years, lots of homes, and two babies down the road and we're not as young, but we're still so very in love.

He's my best friend and his birthday is as important to me as my own.   This year I took him out to dinner (thanks to the sleep babysitting services of Gigi and Papa) and then to see Mission Impossible:  Ghost Protocol.  I actually loved the movie which was a bonus.

The night of his actual birthday we stayed home and celebrated with his family.  We sang to him over a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, his all time fave.

I made the cake and Riley did the decorating.

TG conducted our rendition of "Happy Birthday to You".

Before he closed his eyes and made a wish.

Happy Birthday TG.  I love you so much.

*I had to edit this to add a little memory I don't want to forget.  Riley completely understands the concept of birthdays now and is obsessed with the making of cake and the buying of gifts.  In the days leading up to TG's birthday she kept insisting that she wanted to go to "Wharl-mart" or Target and buy him a boat.  Not a toy boat, but a real boat.  It took some time to convince her that one they don't sell boats at those places and two we couldn't afford one before she relented and bought him deodorant, socks, and a freezable Boston Red Sox cup (which has become my favorite to drink milk from).  :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy New Year!

We haven't celebrated New Year's really since Riley's been born. I don't think I need to explain the reasons why.

We're the kind of parents that seriously both obsessively love and need sleep. So we were pretty excited to make actual New Year's Eve plans this year. Don't get too excited. I've yet to realize my dream of a semi drunken kiss at midnight under a balloon drop, but I'm a step closer than asleep for three hours by midnight and grumbling about fireworks.

Maybe two steps closer because we actually had cause to dress everyone up. We tried a self timer family photo again.  I'm okay with the results except I now have for sure proof that my baby girl got my squinty eye (just the opposite side), but I have a plan to teach her how to blink on the count of 2 for the photo on 3.  Clearly I need to give myself a refresher course too.

Our big plans for the night were to meet our dear friends at Benihana to join in on their tradition of Japanese Steakhouse New Year's Eve. The kids were very excited.  Aren't they precious in their special outfits?

Their excitement only grew when they discovered they could don the same red hat as our chef (while eating scrap M&M's Mommy had in her purse since we misjudged the late dinner time).

This was the perfect picture to round out Riley's 2011.  HAPPY. 

Our chef was very fun, the food was delicious and the company was great.

At the end of dinner the chef invited Riley up to play drums. She ran right up there and put on a show.

And then her two besties put on a rocking encore.

It was the perfect evening.  After filling our bellies full of tasty food we came home, kissed our babies one last time in 2011 and settled in on the couch together.  Since we have two rocking sleepers we made it to midnight for the first time in four years and celebrated with a bottle of champagne and a little chocolate cake from Wegmans.

Happy 2012 to all of you!  I hope your year is off to a great start.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Stencil Wall

I have to start this post by telling you two things about me.

First, I am not creative. I am crafty.
There is a huge difference. I can take inspiration from blogs, magazines and design shows and figure out how to make them happen, or tweak them to make them work for me. I don't usually come up with the original ideas.

Second, I have to bow down to Emily Jones of Jones Design Company.
Her room was my inspiration. It took me weeks to finally finish my tiny wall. She painted an ENTIRE craft room. I don't know how she did it because after 3 more hours of painting last night I can barely stand.

I'm not going to bother with a tutorial because Emily has two posts that give you all the steps for how to do this in your own home. I'm just sharing mine because even though it was hours of work both tracing and then hand painting, it turned out beautifully and I love it.

I have mentioned before how frustrating my home layout is. Besides the really long wall in my living area that still drives me nuts, there was also this oddly shaped wall between the stairs going up and the stairs going down. It reminds me of a puzzle game I used to play when I was younger where you would place these plastic shape tiles onto a picture to figure out what configuration of shapes fit.

Anyway, I have spent over a year staring at that wall and trying to figure out how to make me hate it less. Then I stumbled upon Emily's blog post and knew what I wanted to do. Well step one at least, the second part of my dream involves tools and handiness. Neither of which I currently posses, but I'm working on it.

So, I used the stencil from Emily's handy pdf link, resized it and then working from the ceiling down I started tracing as carefully as I could. Tracing took me about two hours.

For the painting part I got an artists brush (Brush Basics Bright #5) and some eggshell paint and waited until the kids were in bed. I fired up the DVR and settled in to a groove quickly. Emily's two part post best explains how to get the double line look. Some of the people who originally did this ended up with only one outline.
I got about four rows further down than this photo shows before I stopped. For about a month. I guess there are really three things to tell you about me. I get really excited about projects, but then I get bored of them and my poor family has to look at all kinds of lovely half finished things.

Then one of two things happen I either get my second wind and really excited about finishing up. Or I get really excited about another project and I know I need to finish the undone thing first. In this case it was the latter. I really want to paint my master bedroom, but this wall was staring me down.

So once again, I mustered some reserve energy, fired up Real Housewives on the DVR, and got to work. I painted from 8:30 to 11:30 last night with three water breaks.  I'm running on fumes today, but every time I see this wall now, I smile.

Partly because it's finally finished, but mostly because it is so much prettier now!

Have any of you other crafty ladies out there stenciled walls or, even a room?  Leave me your link because I'd love to see them!