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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Vintage Strawberry Shortcake 3rd Birthday Party

It seems funny to me to call this party a "vintage" Strawberry Shortcake party because this style of Strawberry Shortcake was popular when I was little, so the thought of calling it "vintage" makes me feel a little old and dusty, and I'm only 33.  Hmm...

I digress.

So, here's the thing, though, about birthday parties and me...I LOVE them. I love to plan them months in advance, and I have no problem designing and cutting out by hand ridiculous amounts of teeny-tiny details that will only go to the waste side (or to some bin of my used-up ideas) a few hours after the party has passed.

Where on earth do I find the time to do this?  Excellent question.  I make the time, and I make it quality time.  I can be completely exhausted at the end of a busy workday, but knowing I get to make something special for my little girl and have fun doing it has always been a good motivator.

Late at night after my little girl was in bed, I would grab a cup of coffee, turn on an audio Bible study, and just listen while I was working away on all of these projects. Other times, I would curl up on the couch next to my husband and cut out these little details at end of of a busy day.  It looks like tedious work, but I assure you, there is a wonderful silver lining in the creative process. :)

Of course, my friends do tease me about my crazy party planning, but the truth is that like all hobbies, crafting and designing is like running around on a great big playground for me. It's playtime, and I love doing it!

Oh, and I just so happen to have an adorable three year old that digs it, too.

That being said, here's a little recap of said playtime...

To see Chloe's "Pumpkins & Butterflies" 1st birthday party, head over {HERE}. 
(Her first party has been my favorite theme so far!)

To see Chloe's "Chloe & the Gorilla" 2nd birthday party, head over {HERE}.

I designed the invitations in Photoshop and just added pretty paper and a few embellishments here and there.  See the bottom of this post for links to my resources.

About...oh, I don't know, a good four months or so ago, I asked Chloe what kind of birthday party she would like to which she responded with, "Pink!"  

I said, "Okay, what else?" and she said, "I want sparkles!"

Pink and sparkles.  Got it.  The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, eh?  

She just so happened to also be into watching the cutesy older versions of Strawberry Shortcake at that time, so I asked her, "How about a Strawberry Shortcake party??"

"Yes, mommy!!" was the response, and so on that flying whim, I ran with it.  Thank goodness, she never lost her enthusiasm for this theme, and for those months leading up to her party, she told everyone and anyone that had a listening ear, that she was going to have a Strawberry Shortcake Birthday Party. :)

I'm going to keep this post limited to just the details of the party, but I hope you enjoy them as much as my little girl did and as much as I did making them for her.  Here we go!

Disclaimer #1: These photos aren't the greatest nor is the lighting.  Due to running around like crazy, I just snapped pics here and there with my iphone.

Disclaimer #2: My dear friend Heather, came over to my house the night before the party and stayed late helping me clean, prep food and so on and so forth.  She was a life-saver, and I couldn't have possibly got everything done on time, had she not been such a trooper.  Thank you SO much, Heath, for taking time away from your family to come help me!

Table centerpieces and party favor gift bags were a fun way to dress up the tables.  I reuse decor from previous parties wherever and whenever I can, so these wooden boxes from Michael's make an appearance at nearly every party I host to prop up the centerpieces.

I printed off a little picture of the Strawberry Shortcake character on a nice cardstock, cut it out by hand and tied it into these decorative table cards I crafted.

Excuse my dog's butt in the background...

I purchased this vintage lunchbox and Strawberry Shortcake doll on Etsy.  My little girl LOVES to play with both of them.  Who cares that I actually paid money for a used lunchbox with the name "Kimberly" scribbled on the top of it, am I right??

I purchased these vintage Strawberry Shortcake children's books on Etsy to tie into the decor. They have quickly become a favorite bedtime read over the past few months, 
so I'm happy that I stumbled across them.

Okay, so I admit it...this giant backdrop was such a beast to make. I hand-painted all of the details, which turned out to be a bigger job than I had anticipated.  Many, many hours and layers of paint later, it was ready to go!

The cake was from Target.  Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time finding the link to the photo of the cake I used as my inspiration, but I love the way Target captured the overall design I was going for.  Simple and sweet.

The cake topper is pretty typical of what I've created for past parties, so I just created what has always worked well for me.

My mom made her famous cinnamon and caramel rolls, and they were amazing! I had originally created these little strawberry and flower toppers for mini cupcakes, but opted to use them on the cinnamon rolls instead.

I love banners!  While cutting out all of these details did take some serious time, I really love the way they turned out.

Ah, place cards...my favorite!  Of course, I didn't end up using half of them due to last minute menu changes, but at least I had fun designing them.  We ended up going with a nice brunch for the meal this year, so we had good food, full bellies and, most importantly, wonderful company.

Okay, so, I bought this cool metal water jug and stand on clearance at Target, not only did it keep the water nice and cold, it also had a nice vintage-y look that really worked well with the overall theme.

I wrote out these sparkly pink letters, cut them out by hand and then glued them onto the board to give the backdrop a little dimension - same with the sparkly paper strawberries and white flowers you see below. 

And that's it!  We were blessed with a beautiful fall day celebrating our darling 3-year old with our immediate families.  

Party planning is fun and all, but I couldn't possibly put into words or show you in photos just how thankful my husband and I are for our little girl.  She is such a blessing to us, and we love her with all our hearts.  Happy Birthday to my beautiful, sweet girl!

1. Sparkly paper - Paper Source
2. Flowers - Lund's 
3. Printable/digital strawberry paper - Happy Hearts Studios on Etsy
5. Vintage Strawberry Shortcake Lunchbox - Wild Angel Vintage on Etsy
6. Vintage Strawberry Shortcake Children's books - Little Cleo at Home on Etsy
7. Cake - Target


Monday, August 11, 2014

My Toddler Pulls Out Her Hair – 1 Year Later

It is one year later almost to the day since we shaved our little girl’s head in an effort to put her hair pulling compulsion to an end. Over the course of this past year, I have received countless emails from all over the world (Google, you beast, you!) – so many emails, in fact, from other mommas like me seeking answers to this disheartening riddle that even in my best efforts to respond to many of them, I haven’t been able to respond to them all…

But I’d like to.

I’d like you all to know that I read every single email and comment. Every. Single. One.

I do my best to respond whenever I can.

For those who had been following my blog, you may have noticed that I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging. I’ve really been praying about what to do with my blog. Do I close it down? Should I leave it up? Should I change the nature of the blog? I still don’t have an answer, but I continue to wait on the Lord and his good timing to know what direction to take.

In the meantime, as I sort it all out, I’d like to respond to the many emails and comments I continue to get asking for an update. First of all, I would like to thank all of you who have reached out to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am STILL on this journey with you, and my heart still aches with you.

Many mommas wonder: Did shaving her head work?

Well, it did…

For almost an entire year…

Until two weeks ago…

When the hair pulling began again.

It’s like déjà vu, and the whole scene is beginning to replay all over again after an entire YEAR of it being gone.

To be honest, I am humbled and utterly speechless as I write this update to all of those who have asked. For nearly a year now, I have been cautiously optimistic, praying and turning this issue over to the Lord until finally I had become convinced that this problem was forever behind us.

I have responded to countless emails with what we've done to keep this destructive habit at bay and how those things have worked, and now, well, now I'm just at a loss for words as to how it has manifested all over again.

I think my sweet, little girl, who is two months shy of her 3rd birthday as I write this, has pulled her out her own hair 4 times in the past couple of weeks. Last night as she was eating dinner, she pulled out a pretty significant handful of hair and tried shoving it in her mouth to eat it before I caught her and took the wad of hair out of her hand.

From just a few pulls, there are now new thinning spots on her head where her hair had beautifully and FINALLY grown in. I continue to focus on nutrition and the ins and outs of giving her as much of a whole foods/un-processed diet as possible. I pack her lunch for daycare everyday, constantly being mindful that she has the right balance of real food nutrients, carbs, fats, proteins, etc.

It has worked wonderfully to keep the desire to eat the hair at bay.

And, yet, out of nowhere, here we are again.

However, one saving grace in all of this is that, even though, she’s always been a smart little cookie, her ability to reason has grown leaps and bounds over the past year, so my husband and I are able to reason far better with her about the hair pulling/cause-and-effect and so on.

She looked up at me with those big gorgeous, blue eyes of hers last night and said, “Mommy, are you sad? I’m sorry I pulled my hair.”

My heart just broke right then and there.  I know she doesn't want to pull out her hair - it is a compulsion, and that fact alone is, perhaps, even harder to see than even the new bald spot itself.

I just got down on my knees and looked her straight in the eye and said, “Baby, I am sad, but I want you to know that whether you pull your hair or not, I love you soooo much, and you are so beautiful to me. I just know how much you love your pretty hair, and I don’t want to see you lose it again.”

She smiled and said, “Okay, Mommy. I won’t pull my hair anymore.”

If only it were that simple. Gosh, I pray it is.

I am praying that the hair pulling would end once and for all, but if this is a trial my little family needs to walk through once again, I'm praying for the wisdom to navigate it.

God's Word tells us: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:5 KJV

Praise God for that promise!

Even though I feel discouraged today, I know that the Lord is good, and I still have an abundance to praise Him for. I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for my little girl…for each day that I get to hold her and love her and tell her that she is beautiful.

I’m thankful that God has a greater purpose in it all and that His goodness will continue to shine through, even when setback and failure come knocking at our door.

There's always more to the story...

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 KJV  

Click here to read Part I: My Toddler Pulls Out Her Hair

Click here to read Part II: When the Rain Comes

Click here to read Part III: My Toddler Pulls Out Her Hair - 1 Year Later


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easter 2014 Recap & Decor

  "Because I live, ye shall live also" printable purchased from Kiki & Company.

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.  And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.  And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why ye seek the living among the dead?

 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, "The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.  And they remembered his words." Luke 24:1-8

Jesus Christ is, indeed, risen!  All the more reason to offer Him our praise and celebrate his precious gift to us each and every day.

This post is almost a couple weeks over due - holy smokes, where does the time go?? I still thought I would take the time to share our Easter in photos.  Afterall, this is technically - okay, loosely - a decor blog, and, admittedly, a little bit of everything else in between.

Sooooo......below are a few craft ideas for yourself and/or the kiddos. 

We had a lot of fun doing crafts...and then not so much fun doing crafts.  Then some more fun...and then a little less fun.  It's really kind of hit or miss doing crafts with a toddler, but regardless, we're making memories.  Yay!  Oh, and the good news is that we were having lots of fun at the time this picture was being taken.

1. Make an Easter egg tree, gang.  The kiddos will love it.  I'm not entirely sure where I got the hanging eggs for the tree as it's been a few years ago now, but if I recall correctly, I think I may have purchased some of the eggs from Target and some from Michael's years ago.

2. Make little treat jars to give away.  I made these little jars as favors on my dining room table for my Easter dinner guests.

3. Make pretty place cards to dress up your dinner table.  Okay, maybe, I'm a nerd for going to that length, but I've made place cards for each of three Easters that I've hosted, so this is the norm for me.  To see last year's Easter place cards, head over{here}, and to see the Easter I hosted a couple years before that one, head over {here}.  Lots of fun ideas!

4. Dress up your table.  Gosh, I have loved setting a pretty table for as long as I can remember. My mom taught me everything I know about setting a lovely table!

5. Hunt..for Easter eggs, that is.  We did two Easter egg hunts: one at a church the day before Easter, and one just for Little Bean on Easter Sunday at our home.  I have a ton of fun photos from both, but I'll just leave you with this one.

Have a blessed day, gang!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Narrow is the Way

If I could share anything with you all this Christmas season, it would go something like this...

When I was six years old, I can vividly remember my family living in a big farmhouse out in the country.  I remember coming home from Sunday school after church one warm afternoon and kneeling at a coffee table of sorts in front of a large window that overlooked our sprawling front yard.  It was there that I prayed a prayer that would forever change me. 

With my eyes closed and feeling the warmth and light of the sun shining on my face through that big old window, I confessed to Jesus that I was a sinner and that I needed a Savior and that I wanted to live for Him always.  In that moment, I asked Jesus to come into my heart and never let me go. I repented of my sins, and strived to live a life that honored Him.

Just writing it out, it sounds kind of remarkable to me from an adult perspective to look back on the childhood version of myself and to be able to recount so clearly the point at which I knew that was claimed by Jesus Christ for all eternity. Somehow by the grace of God, I understood with a beautiful childlike simplicity that I was bought at a great price…that Jesus Christ had sacrificed himself, taking my place on the cross and carrying the burden of my sin, so that I could be set free.
What a radical display of love from the Creator to the creation.

It was a concept far bigger than my six year old self could seemingly fathom, and yet I understood even then that I was a sinner, that I would continue to struggle with sin, and that if there was a God willing to love me despite all of those things and give me victory over them and even take away my punishment for that very sin, man, did I want to know Him.  AND, man, did I want to live my life for Him.

You see, I've always been a spiritual person, that is...I've always felt ALIVE and connected to God in a way that is hard to put into words but incredibly tangible in the workings of my life.  With God at the helm, I look back upon a trail of amazing circumstances in my life woven together in such a manner that there is no denying the presence of the Lord alongside me through every mountaintop and valley.  He has carried me at the times I couldn't carry myself.

And yet, in the times I have rebelled and tried doing life my own way, I have felt a very real separation/incompleteness/darkness...an emptiness marked by a void in my soul where only the light of Christ can reach into the depths and turn the darkness to radiance.  I need that light, and I chase after that light with all of being.  AND it is for all of these reasons and so much more that I so openly bare the name of Christ over my life.  I am a Christian...a follower of Christ.

I have spent my life studying the Bible, and yet I still feel like I haven’t even cracked the tip of the iceberg.  I still have so much to learn, and I still fall short in so many ways. I still say stupid things.  I still talk before I think at times.  I still struggle with doing things my way.
The truth is that from the time I really learned to read, I was constantly reading and studying my Bible.  There were amazing stories of great men and women of the faith.  There were big, powerful teachings that I longed to understand, and still today, I am buried in the Word of God, longing to know Him more and more each day, and the more I seek Him through His Word and through prayer, the more He reveals to me.

Of course, there are still days when I fall on my knees before the, Lord, asking, “You’re still there, right?  I need you, Lord.  Please, PLEASE, don’t ever let me go.”

You see, I’ve always sought after the Lord, even in my times of rebellion from Him, because I’ve always known that I am nothing without Him, and true to form, my Lord and Savior has time and time again proven relentless in His pursuit of me and in His faithfulness and love for me.  Time and time again, he has rescued me from myself as I struggle to keep my eyes on Him.  

He longs for all to seek Him and to spend eternity with him...

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 2:9

But, have we as a society turned a blind eye and deaf ear to Him?  Have we traded His goodness and grace for a lie?  The very lie that whispers, "You don't need God"?

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Galatians 1:6-9

While my life has had its challenges at various times, it has also carried a world of blessings.  When I say blessings, I don’t just mean the material, although, I have always been faithfully provided for, but I also mean spiritually, physically, emotionally.  While I know that trials and storms will and have come, I have also seen the steady hand of God, the God of the Bible (as I offer to you that there is no other), fighting on my behalf.  When I lack wisdom, He provides insight.  When I lack endurance, He gives strength.  When I am afraid, He brings peace.  When I am lost, He always leads me back home.

Some people call faith in Christ a crutch or a sign of weakness.  Well, I'll take that crutch any day, thank you very much!

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

So, I continue to chase after Him. 

If there were one thing I would ever want anyone to know about me, it is this…

I need Jesus, and I am nothing without Him.

So, I continue to fall on my knees and pray for a world that has traded the truth of God for the lies of self-indulgence, arrogance, pride and rebellion. Apparently, God got it all wrong, and we humans need to persuade Him to our line of thinking, or so we are deceived into believing. 

I continue to write about the “uncomfortable” stuff that makes us all squirm a little, the very stuff that the arrogant love to mock, but even so I know how much God longs for each of us to know Him...to know that we are endlessly loved no matter how dark our past...to know that we can spend eternity with Him where there will be no more pain and no more tears.  It's not too late, loved ones.  But a time will come, and the choice will be made, and that choice will determine eternity for each of us.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good.  For at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:7-9

I continue to seek the Bible and pray that I would be able to withstand the onslaught of garbage Satan is slinging on this world.  I wish I could say that he is merely a cartoon character with horns, but the reality is far too dark and grim and far too real for pretenses.  I continue to pray for other believers being persecuted around the world – that they would remain strong and true.   

The battle is, indeed, intense.  I pray that I too would be counted worthy to stand firm in the faith.

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

As I look around me, I see not only my country, but the entire world constantly under attack by Satan.  I pray that hearts of the lost would, instead, be opened to the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus and what he has prepared for those who love him.

What no eye has seen what no ear has heard and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

Sin is rampant, loved ones, but we can have victory.

But he who stands firm to the end will be saved. – Matthew 24:13

You see, my friends, the wishy-washy attitude of do whatever makes you feel “happy” and feel good just to fit in has taken the place of sound Biblical doctrine even within much of the Christian community.  The church is under attack, and the message of Gospel of Jesus Christ is being lost in the midst of false teachings.  We, as a community, are trading in the Word of God for so-and-so's opinion on whatever the hot topic of the day might be.

We need to come back to the Lord.  We need to seek His counsel first.

So often we look for favor among men, and in turn we lose the favor of the Father.

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:32-33

Not all roads lead to heaven.  Please don’t buy into the lie of the Enemy.  

The road is narrow, friends.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Choose life, dear friends.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Santa Clause or Torture?

This past weekend, my husband and I took our little girl to the Santa Land display at Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis.  I thought it was neat.  My husband thought it was creepy, at least the singing trees were anyway.  To be fair, he did make a good point.  The melancholy song of the trees seemed oddly out of place and, in fact, yes, even a little creepy.

What happened to good old fashioned Christmas carols, folks?  Instead, you have trees holding carol singing books humming out haunting, wordless tunes better fit for Halloween. 

A little suggestion for next year: Dear Macy’s, you might want to swap the soundtrack for something a little peppier. It is Christmas, after all.

Just sayin’.

Aside from that one little observation, the rest of the display was actually really cool.  I was totally impressed by the creativity and craftsmanship of the display.  Heck, I hadn’t been to the 8th floor of Macy’s since eons ago when I saw the Nutcracker display, so I was particularly excited, so much so that not only do I look like I just rolled out of bed, hopped in the car and went to see it at first light of day, I did, in fact, do just that, as the picture at the end of this post suggests. 

But THEN it was time to see Santa.  My husband looked at the long line snaking back and forth to the magical Santa containing room hidden behind the red velvet curtain and asked, “Should we take Chloe to see Santa?”  

As the caffeine from my morning cup of coffee began to fade, I just sort of shrugged my shoulders and said, “Okay.”  Soooo, into the line we went.  As we approached that “special place,” I could hear and see the screaming kids being dragged in to see the big, jolly guy.  I leaned over to my husband, and offered, “Looks like we’re in a line of parents looking to torture their kids just for a photo with Santa.” 

You see, I find that it’s important to keep a good sense of humor in these situations.

Santa Clause.  Good grief.  

I read stories to my baby girl all the time about the birth of Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas because that’s what’s important to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the tradition of Santa bringing gifts is a fun one and one that I grew up with, but it’s just not something of importance to me nor has it occurred to me to tell my little one about yet.  For goodness sakes, we’re working on learning the ABC’s right now, so Santa is definitely not the priority. 

In hindsight, a little Santa101 may proven useful here.

And yet, there we were right along with the rest of the free world with our totally unprepared 2-year old waiting in a long, sweaty line to meet a stranger who definitely deserves to earn a good paycheck for dressing up as Santa Clause and enduring the screams of little ones across the world who feel violated by unsuspecting hugs and teased with offers of gifts that he doesn’t intend to keep.

Realistically, what kid likes being set on a stranger’s lap, that stranger being a huge, old (er…older) dude in a completely foreign looking get-up and THEN is expected to smile for the camera? 

Us parents, we’re just so silly sometimes!

Which brings me to my little girl…

My sweet, bright and happy little girl…well, it went down along these lines…

As my husband carried her into the “top secret chamber” of Santa Clause (it was one of two Santa Clauses in two separate rooms, and we got the one with the kind-hearted smile, btw), she tightened her little grip around her daddy.  My husband then handed her to me, and I in turn went to pass her to Santa.

Or…not so much.  

I’m telling you, gang, those big blue eyes of hers filled up with tears at lightning speed, and she screamed for dear life.  Santa tried to hold her, but she held both arms up to me, sobbing in protest as if I had just totally abandoned her.  I just couldn’t do it.  I swooped her back up into my arms and smiled at the kind Santa Clause and said, “It’s just not worth her getting this upset.  We’ll skip it.  Thank you for your time.”

Now, I know the token photo of the kids crying on Santa’s lap is somewhat of a rite of passage, but my baby girl was terrified and so upset that I just didn’t want that kind of memory.  Christmas time is about joy, afterall, and this definitely was not a joyful moment.

As I grabbed my coat to leave, the photographer asked if we would like to take a family photo with Santa and deciding that it might be just the thing to salvage the experience for our daughter, we did just that.  We took a photo with Santa as a family.  Granted, my husband and I are the only ones smiling, but at least Chloe was okay in the safety of her of her daddy’s arms.  Maybe she'll get a kick out of it a few years down the road.

Well, there you have it.


Friday, November 15, 2013

The Big Business of Turning Two

Last night while I was cleaning the kitchen and Chloe was drawing on the chalkboard with her daddy, I heard her say to him, "Daddy, you're driving me crazy!"

Wow! Out of the mouths of babes. 

In slow motion my husband turned around and looked at me with a confused expression.  I returned that same confused expression as we silently wondered to one another, "Did you teach her that?"

Nope, it had to be from daycare.  I laughed when I asked Chloe's daycare provider about it, and she said that she's pretty sure that she's said it to her son "because truth be told, he does drive me crazy sometimes.  Sorry!"

I totally got a kick out of her keepin' it real!

There are two things in this life that I am now convinced:

1.) When it comes to all the reasons in the world for laughter, I believe that life with a two year old far surpasses them all.

2.) Two year old's are exhausting, man.  I mean, I've got the cutest, little pocket-sized two year old with a seriously adorable personality who still somehow manages to kick my butt at least once a day, give or take a day.  That energy, I tell you, it's something, all right!

This past weekend carried it's usual fair of toddler entertainment, and there were a few moments that still had my husband and I laughing into Monday morning.

I must confess that I am fighting one brutal chest cold with a bark like a walrus (which is awesome and super-duper attractive) so my energy level is definitely waning.  However, I find this cold to be an excellent excuse for letting my child's imagination run wild on the home front as well as the following sucker-consumption which ensued.

You've been forewarned.

First things first, my daughter Chloe (aka Little Bean, Beaner-boos, Baby Girl, Baby Goose, Stinker-doos, etc.) turned two on October 22nd, so I'm a little behind here.  Surprise, surprise.

I tried taking her 2-year old photos myself a week ago, and I tried everything from pulling out the giant stuffed gorilla that she drags all over the house to bribery by means of dum-dum pops, which turned her disdain for photos and declarations of  "No pictures, Mommy!" into a skippity-do-dah, giggly sugar rush stroll through our yard that seriously rivals a fly on Red Bull.

I'm not saying I'm proud of myself for the suckers (to be honest it goes against my very dedicated unprocessed food approach for Little Bean), buuuuuuuuuuut a girl's gots to do what a girl's gots to do, and suckers did the trick, folks.  All that to say, if you see the vast majority of Chloe's 2-year photos of her with a sucker in hand, don't judge me (photoshoot to follow in a separate post).  As we've established, it wasn't my finest hour.

Ahem, I digress.

So back to the beginning...to the good stuff...to the laughter. If I were to journal the weekend, it would look something like this...

4:45 a.m. Saturday morning: Chloe wakes up.  Claims to be ready for the day.  In denial, I assure her that she wants more sleep.  Denied.  Through the fog, I hear her saying something about being "hungry." I make pancakes (whipped the egg whites separately...all fancy and stuff) only for her to not touch them.  Fail.  Then, she giggled, asked me to hold her, and I melted.  All was well with the world.

7:00 a.m. Saturday morning: Husband finally rolls out of bed.  Scolds me for "letting" Chloe wake up. Some silliness about how I should have put her back to bed.  You would have thought that I had set my alarm for 4:45 a.m., and then prompted her to wake up.  By the way, what's an alarm clock anyway?  I've forgotten.

11:10 a.m. Saturday: Chloe falls asleep in her high chair right smack in the middle of lunch.  Poor little peanut and daylight savings just cannot come to terms.

The rest of the day was a bit of a circus between encouraging Chloe not to shred cotton balls all over the floor to laughing so hard at all of the cute, new expressions she's throwing out.  Her daddy's favorite is when she says, "Stay here, daddy.  I'll be right back," and then takes off running down the hall to retrieve some toy that she's thrilled to show him.

My favorite is when she gets all serious, holds up her index finger and says, "Just one more, Mommy." Clearly, she's imitating me trying to bring story time, sucker time, Curious George time, etc. to a close.  Just one more book, just one more sucker, just one more Youtube video of that irresponsible monkey!

Or...perhaps, even better was a moment last week when Chloe ran her hand over the new layer of hair that has finally begun to cover her bare head and exclaimed, "Mommy, I've got hair!" I just smiled and said, "Yes, you do, baby girl.  Yes, you do!"

Still coughing like a walrus.  Awesome.  Still chasing my giggling toddler in circles around our island in our kitchen just to hear her laugh.

4:45 a.m. Sunday morning: Chloe wakes up.  Ironically, again claims to be ready for the day.  Something about daylight savings being a joke.  My voice is almost gone, but she's making up talking for both of us. I've been taking a lot of videos with my iphone these days just so I can hear that little voice throughout my day when I'm away at work.

I've also discovered that Chloe has fully embraced the phrase, "No, thank you." Who doesn't like good manners, right?  Of course, it's usually used in this context...

Me: Chloe, would you like to get dressed?

Chloe: No, thank you, Mommy.

Me: Chloe, please let mommy know when you need to use the potty.

Chloe: No, thank you, Mommy.

Me: Chloe, it's naptime, honey.

Chloe: No, thank you, Mommy.

I have never heard any single phrase used as many times as I heard "No, thank you," used this past weekend by my baby girl. She was testing the waters with it, liked the way it rolled off her tongue and quickly it became her response to everything. I've got to admit, though, somehow her rejection of naptime is kind of cute when she responds with a sweet, "No, thank you."

3:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon: Chloe recites the whole alphabet song at snack time from her high chair.  It's the first time I've heard her sing the whole song.  Woot! Woot! Little Bean knows the entire alphabet song!

3:30 p.m. While cooking in the kitchen, out of the corner of my eye, I see Chloe, blue chalk in hand, coloring the white trim in the dining room, all while keeping her eye on me the whole time, just waiting for me to notice.  When I ask her what she's doing quickly followed by asking her to STOP what she's doing, she bolts around the corner.  Blue chalk still in hand, she peeks out from around the corner and then proceeds to color the wall with her chalk.

I run over towards her to retrieve the chalk, but since the words "stop" and "no" have lost any sort of effect, she takes off running, drops the evidence (chalk) into one of my tall boots and takes off into the kitchen giggling.  It's now clear that she thinks this is a game, but there's a lesson to be learned here.  The problem is that I can't stop laughing.

Soooo, I hide behind the corner in order to gather my composure, struggling to wipe the smile off my face and put on THE MOM FACE. You guys know the face. Of course, in reality, it was a failed attempt to sternly address the coloring on the walls business, so I let it slide (refer to waning energy level above).

Little Bean = Roughly a million

Mommy = 0

4:00 p.m. Chloe says that she wants to play with our dogs Peaches and Oliver.  I say, "Go for it!" While trying to whip together dinner, I hear a squish-squish pitter patter around me.  Thinking to myself, "I don't even want to know what that means," I look up to see a set of little wet foot prints encircling my kitchen island, which leads me to a pair of soaking wet socks on a soaking wet Little Bean...which in turn leads me to the massive puddle of water and mushy dog food swimming on the mud room floor.  Sooooo, that's what she meant by playing with Peaches and Oliver.  She literally took a bath in their dog dish.  Does that make me a bad parent?


Toddlers, I tell you.  They will make your heart melt like no other, and, then, THEY WILL BREAK YOU.  It's amazing really.

What more can I say?  It's an exhausting job some days, but, holy smokes, it is so worth it!

Since she was 19 months old, Chloe would say, "Bless you," whenever I sneezed (I sneeze a lot...darn allergies).  Even while holding her to my chest in the darkness of yet another middle of the night waking, when I would sneeze, that little face that should've been asleep would look up to my face and quietly say, "Bless you."  Even still this week, as I'm putting her to bed and I'm coughing until my chest aches, with each cough, she says, "Bless you, mommy."

No, no, bless you, sweet girl.

I. just. love. her.

And, I just love this business of turning two!

Happy Friday, gang!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Chloe & The Gorilla" Themed 2nd Birthday Party

Holy smokes, where on earth have the past two years gone? It feels like just yesterday heaven sent my husband and I the most precious little treasure...

...And today, that little treasure has grown into a vibrant, beautiful two year old. Celebrating her sweet little life comes far too easy.  Our daughter Chloe is happy and spunky and too darn smart for her own good, and we're soaking up every minute of it!

Oh, and she also happens to think that gorillas are the coolest!

Right on, Little Bean. 

It all started last year when her Uncle Joel and his fiancee Katie bought her the Rumble in the Jungle children's book for her 1st birthday.  It quickly became her favorite book, but even more so, she insisted on us turning to the page with the big gorilla and the baby gorilla. She always pointed and said, "Baby gorilla!"

From then on, she always got excited whenever she came across something with a gorilla on it (actually, she still does), and she soon started asking for the gorilla in the book as well as wanting to watch videos with gorillas.

Many early Saturday mornings, I could hear African tribal music streaming from the living room, and I would find her curled up in her daddy's lap watching some real life gorilla documentary on Youtube.  For real.

We've become quite educated on gorillas, my husband and I. :)

Chloe loves the way they bang on their chests and hoot and holler.  She imitates those silly gorillas all the while giggling herself silly.  It puts a great big smile on my face just thinking about it.

Then, this past summer, she finally got to see a real life gorilla at Como Zoo, and she was thrilled!

All that to say...since the gorilla has been the most memorable and long-standing feature of Chloe's 2nd year, naturally, a gorilla themed birthday party was in order. 

Of course, the trick was to take this often intimidating yet gentle animal (ahem, I'm kind of an expert now) and weave it into a girly theme.  After all, pink IS still her favorite color (she even insists on her pink sippy-cup dare I offer her one in another color), and the gorilla is finally, after all this time, stepping aside to make way for the different princesses that she keeps asking for these days.

It's been fun while it lasted. Now onto the party details!  
(To see Chloe's 1st pumpkins & butterflies birthday party, head over HERE)

I made just about everything you see below from the wood cake stand to the mini chocolate cupcakes to the cupcake toppers.  The cupcake display was, hands down, my favorite detail of the party!


I used this recipe for the chocolate cupcakes, and this recipe for the frosting.  This has to be the best chocolate frosting recipe I have EVER made.  Seriously, it's uh-mazing.  If you like to bake, go make these babies stat.  You're welcome.
While I did make the cake topper below, I did NOT make the pretty pink cake.  The fine bakers at Target made this lovely cake for me.  I did, however, get the idea for this style of cake from this darling party over on the Hostess Blog

Flowers!  Flowers!  Chloe loves flowers!  I love flowers!  Who doesn't love flowers?!

As a matter of fact, Chloe gets super excited and yells, "Flowers!" any time she sees them anywhere...like at the farmers market, in someone's yard, heck, even in the ditch.  While I have my own affinity for flowers, I knew Chloe would be particularly excited about these lovely, vibrant bouquets, so I placed them in every room just for her.

I wanted to create a unique backdrop for the dessert table that tied in with design of the invitations I made.  Remember these invitations?

I spent hours making this sign, and I really loved the way it turned out.

The funny thing is that as soon as the party was over, Chloe kept asking for this sign, so I gave it to her, watched her drag it around the house and eventually watched her graffiti over all of my artwork with all shades of chalk.  This poster is officially destroyed, but it served its purpose, and I am happy it brought joy to my little girl in more than one sense.  Ha!


I actually got the idea for the fabric chandeliers below from some decor at my church.

Yep, months ago, the ladies at church strung hemp rope like this with fabric tied all along it across the ceiling rafters at church.  I thought it was so cool that I snapped a photo with my iphone and later came up with a chandelier take on the same concept.  The chandeliers had a sort of funky/jungle-y vibe that I thought worked well with my theme.


This chandelier I made turned out to be huge.  Seriously, it's like 5 feet long!

Okay, so I cut out about a bazillion sparkly hearts months ago thinking I would have some use for them.  Well, I had no use for them whatsoever.  Then, the night before the party, I whipped up a quick heart garland just to not be wasteful, and you know what?  It turned out to be another one of my favorite details. Who knew?

Umm...so, I made a bunch of these time-consuming place cards.  Guess what?  I didn't use a single one! They are all still sitting on a shelf unused in my basement.  Good grief.  BUT, I felt compelled to share this photo with you to make myself feel better for wasting so much time on something I didn't even use.

Okay, so this is kind of a terrible photo.  It was an evening party, the lighting was terrible, and my hands were too shaky from one too many cups of coffee at this point in the day, so this photo is entirely BLAH, but it's the best one that I have that encompasses the dessert table.  Oh well!

In other news, did I mention that my hubby is a fantastic cook?  Yep, he whipped up some good comfort food for the party, including a crowd favorite: ham & cheddar cheese soup along with a big batch of chili.

When it comes to parties, I usually take a break from the typical day-to-day cooking.  Instead, I focus on the decorating, and my husband does the cooking.  Dividing and conquering in that fashion has always made for minimal stress come the day of the party.

AND the best part about the whole day?  Our little girl was ecstatic.  She was so happy!  I honestly couldn't have asked for a better day. 

Thank you to my hubby, grandparents, and all of the aunts, uncles and cousins that helped celebrate our Little Bean.  She is one blessed little girl, and we love her more than words can say.  

Happy 2nd Birthday, baby girl!

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