Happy Birthday Old Man

Today my oldest turned 8.  It hardly seems like it has been that long, but here we are.   He changed my world when he entered my life and there has never been a dull moment since.  Happy Birthday, Kiddo.  Thanks for letting me be your Mom.  I love you.

baby mikey

the bib says it all


self-portrait taken last week


A Little High Maintenance, But Definitely Worth It

Instead of buying her yet another toy, my husband and I decided to plan a few activities for my daughter’s actual birthday (her birthday party having taken place the Saturday before so that her friends could come before they left for Spring Break).  It was a much better use of money and it allowed us to spend some quality time together!

Now, please remember that 2 of the 3 things we did are definitely not every day occasions, but for purposes of a “big girl’s” 6th birthday, they were perfect choices.

The kids started off the day by going to see The Croods with daddy.  We would have all gone together, but Big Trouble doesn’t do movies – SHOCKING, right?croods croods2

Then, compliments of Grandma, I got to take her to her first mani/pedi.

holding very still!

holding very still!

getting a special design on her toes, compliments of the nice nail stylist

getting a special design on her toes, compliments of the nice nail stylist

She was so excited and told everyone there that it was her birthday and she was a big girl.  They didn’t seem to mind that she took 10 minutes to pick out 2 colors (because she couldn’t just have matching fingers and toes).

fancy flower toes

fancy flower toes

nails done

she thought she was so big, especially when they brought her an apple juice to sip on during the process 🙂

Then we went to the Melting Pot for a fondue dinner.  They loved how stringy the cheese was when they dipped the bread in and REALLY loved the yummy chocolate dessert.



It was an exhausting day, but a fun one for everyone, even B.T. who got to eat the leftovers we brought home from dinner.  I hope it was as special for my big girl as it was for me and I hope this will be something that we can replicate over the coming years with her and with our boys. 🙂

Happy Birthday Princess!

Today is my favorite daughter’s 6th birthday (I’m allowed to say that because she is the only daughter).  She has been counting down to this day for about 11 months.  She is convinced that turning 6 is the equivalent of being fully grown and tomorrow she will finally be the birthday princess!  We have exciting things planned that only big girls get to do and she is thrilled.  I can only hope our plans live up to her expectations.  Happy Birthday my little mini-me.  I love you.zoe


Semi-Homemade Lorax Birthday

As promised, here’s what we came up with as party favors for the “Lorax” party – please keep in mind that I waited until 2 weeks before the party to really think about this and I live in a small city that never has anything that I want or need for birthday party purposes.  I actually think we did pretty good coming up with stuff thanks to the internet, even if the goodies weren’t perfect or exactly what I envisioned 🙂

Lorax mustache silly straws

I printed these mustaches from this great website.  It was so easy to use, even for a pretty technologically-challenged person such as myself!  They have other Lorax-themed printables and links to pages with more as well, if you are thinking of having a Lorax party in the future and you have more than 30 minutes to plan it!

Bar-ba-loot trail mix

Having watched the movie approximately 3 billion times with my youngest son (who, sadly, can actually quote parts of the movie – amazing for a kid who can barely talk), I know the little bears in the movie are called Bar-ba-loots and I know that they love to eat marshmallows.  Now, others less knowledgeable of all things Lorax-related probably don’t, but since I needed something easy to use as another gift that was still kid-appropriate, I made a mixture of chocolate teddy grahams and mini marshmallows and called it Bar-ba-loot trail mix.  Yeah.  I am a genius (or so I thought until I was searching for one more idea and saw that some other creative mom apparently thought of it first – but since I didn’t technically steal her idea, I’m still going to go with my “I’m such a creative genius” thought).

Dr. Seuss-ish fuzzy socks

The last thing we gave was a pair of fuzzy socks that reminded me of something from a Dr. Seuss book.  They were also fuzzy like the “thneed” from the book and since I couldn’t actually reproduce a truffula tree or a thneed, we handed out these socks and called them thneeds because I thought it was clever.  Probably not that clever in retrospect, but I knew that these could also come in handy in case anyone forgot their socks for the bouncy houses.  That’s the mom brain doing double-duty and trying to be fun and yet, still practical.  Now, they weren’t the most well-made socks, but they were so cute that I couldn’t pass them up and all of the older kids got toe socks so that made them more whimsical (or psychotic) like a Dr. Seuss party favorshould be.  (Sidenote: my older son thought they were gloves at first because he had never seen toe socks before, so he wore them on his hands.  Awesome.)

When it came time to figure out what to do for the cake, I quickly realized that there was not much I could do as far as the Lorax theme.  Nobody had Lorax cakes!  Again, here’s a kid that likes something off the normal “kid” path.  (I do love that my kids are somewhat original in their party theme choices because I like them to be unique in this very cookie cutter world, but it wouldn’t hurt to pick something normal for once so I can just order a regular cake from the grocery store and call it a day!)

I wanted to try to make truffula tree cake pops like Bakerella did, but at the last second, I chickened out because I didn’t want to try and then fail and get stressed out (which is what usually happens when I attempt to “bake” things).  So, I decided to buy the orange funfetti cake mix and frosting that is currently available because of Halloween and just make regular cupcakes with printable toppers (also found on the aforementioned great website).

Lorax Cupcake Toppers

These are the example cupcakes. Ours were neither iced that beautifully, nor were the toppers so perfectly round. That’s what makes ours “unique”.

I realized when I went to print the toppers that I didn’t have any card stock left so I ended up just using regular paper and attempting to cut matching circles out of the sticky foam that I had left over from our recent wheel of fortune projects.  That made them, um, special (code for slightly funky, yet colorful).  Yeah.  And, I let my older kids ice the cupcakes themselves because they wanted to “help”.  This also added to the funky element but at least I could blame that part on them!

not a great picture of the special cupcakes so you can’t see the funkiness up close, but they were still tasty and that’s worth something, I guess

So, there you have it.  Not my proudest moment in party favors or cupcakes, but they seemed to work and I didn’t have to stress out about them too much!  Always a plus! 🙂

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”
― Dr. SeussThe Lorax

A Third 2nd Birthday

Last year, I combined my baby’s first birthday with my son’s 6th birthday (meaning that I bought my son a smashable cake and we added his name to the birthday song at the party; we also made some cupcakes and gave him a birthday shirt on his actual birthday – we like to go all out, clearly).  I knew that he wouldn’t know he was being deprived and it just made more sense than planning a whole party for him when we really didn’t have many other “baby” friends at that time anyway.

This year, we could have done the same thing because at 2 he still wouldn’t know much about birthdays, but I felt bad since I already did the combo last year so we tried to put together a quick party for just a few friends and family.  Seeing as though my boys’ birthdays are less than 3 weeks apart, I didn’t actually start to think about my 2-year-old’s birthday until after my older son’s party, which is rare for me because I usually like to plan things way in advance!  Anyhow, much like the plans for my older son’s party a few weeks ago, I knew I couldn’t do anything other than pick a place and get a cake and favors, so we booked a table at a local bouncy house place and I extended email invitations to 4 other families.  Nope, I didn’t even get real invitations or decorations.  So sad.  But there it is. Still better than last year, although I am the first to admit that the bar had been set pretty low.

My “baby” is obsessed with the Lorax right now so I knew that I had to somehow create some favors and cake with that theme.  I will write separately about that because finding “Lorax-themed” items other than large books is quite difficult so I had to improvise in my usual scatterbrained way! 🙂  Anyhow, each family invited was able to come and as the families included some older children as well, my older kids had playmates too.

The bouncy house location had changed slightly since the last time we attempted to take our little family there so there was no longer a baby bouncy house like I was expecting.  This turned out to be ok (though disappointing) because they did still have a 3 and under house, a few houses with easy access for parents to “rescue” their children,

bouncing with big brother

Bouncing over to say hi to mommy

When he realized he was “stuck” in the bouncy house and needed to be rescued

a few rides,

riding in the jeep with a friend

a little climbing playhouse,

running through the maze to find big sister

a slide,

big sister finally getting into it!

and a few other games, like skee-ball and air hockey!

learning to roll the ball instead of hurl it

big brother in an intense game of air hockey

(not to mention aisles to run down like a psychotic chimp – this comment directed toward my crazy birthday boy who did just that).

After tiring themselves out for the first hour, we headed to the tables and had some pizza and cupcakes.

time for the food

When it came time to light the candle and sing Happy Birthday, my little monster decided he would have a spontaneous meltdown.  I had been waiting for this moment and he did not disappoint.  Here’s my boy “basking” in the glow of his 2nd birthday party while my husband tries to show him the cupcake and candle, clearly doing his best to burn the joint down with his balancing act.

who wants to sit still for a cupcake and the birthday song when you can just scream?

In the end, I think everyone ended up having fun, even though it was pretty hectic.  I just know that we made the right call by having a special party for my 2 year old.  Here’s how he said, ‘thank you’ for our efforts.

Too much partying will wear a kid out – and I love it!

Absolutely thrilled to be able to do it all again next year….but will definitely start planning in July!

7th Birthday Party Was “Cosmic”

For the last few years, I have tried my very best to play the part of party planner for my kids.  They give me a theme about 2 months ahead of time, I find a spot to do it at since our house is too small to host anything, and somehow it all falls together at the last-minute (or at least close enough together to count as a success).

After my daughter’s Alice In Wonderland Party earlier this year, I decided that we needed to take at least a full year off from me having to plan the events because I was getting worn out!  We could still have a theme, but we seriously needed to hold the party at a place where kids could run free without me having to plan activities or stress too much (as if not stressing over any event in your kids’ lives is even possible).  As such, when it came time to start thinking about what to do for my oldest son’s birthday, he quickly came up with his theme (“space/planets” – that’s what he’s into these days) and it was basically up to me to find an appropriate locale and come up with a cake and favors – THAT WAS ALL.

I checked into holding it at the Challenger Learning Center which would have been so great since its whole reason for existing is outer space and all things related….if not for the fact that it was RIDICULOUSLY expensive.  So, I had to break the news to our son that we were still poor as Publisher’s Clearing House has not shown up yet and we needed to find an alternative location to have the party.  Luckily, he is still pretty flexible when he can sense that mommy needs him to be (or when he can sense that he’s not going to get his way regardless so it’s in his best interest to be flexible).  We ended up choosing the skating rink.  We figured that when they did the “cosmic” skating in the dark, it would fit right in with our theme!

notice the glowing planets on the carpet – yeah, it totally worked for outer space.

We invited his friends using the postcard invitations that the skating rink provided (generic, but one less thing I had to do so it worked) and then it was time to figure out the cake and goodies.  The goodies came in the form of random space-related crap that I shoved into what I tried to pass off as a NASA UFO (see previous post), a book about space and a glow-in-the-dark necklace to wear while skating.  It really helped that Halloween is around the corner and glow-in-the-dark stuff is EVERYWHERE!

I was debating about trying to make a space cake myself, but I remembered that I am AWFUL at baking and decorating and that I was trying to ‘take it easy’ this year, so after searching for space cakes all over town (none were to be found), we just printed a picture of the planets and took it to the local grocery store bakery where they printed the picture on edible icing.  It was a little more expensive than we originally anticipated, but all we had to do was order it and pick it up.  Problem solved.

The solar system on a cake – much better than any homemade mess I could have concocted

All I had to do once we got to the party was welcome everyone as they arrived, hand them a necklace and sit back and watch! I tried to take pictures but nearly every one came out blurry so we only ended up with a few keepers.

skating with sister and friends

hanging on to a friend for dear life

There were also some moments spent chasing little brother around until a smart skate world employee suggested toddler skates for him.

getting his skates on

glowing in the dark

All in all, the kids had a great time wearing themselves out skating and dancing;

the birthday boy leading the hokey-pokey

and my work was pretty much done once we got there, with the exception of passing out the goodies and supervising cake and presents (the EASY stuff).

enjoying birthday goodies in the party room

I need to take note so that next year when one of my kids tries to get me to plan an entire “home-style” party again, I can whip out this blog to remind me of why I decided to take a break!  Now, to figure out what to do at the last minute for little brother’s birthday!

Putting The World Together

As I have mentioned, my oldest son just turned 7 and his latest obsession is anything space-related.  As such, he was very excited to receive a solar system kit and a puzzle of the earth as seen from the “space view” as a birthday present from his little brother and sister.

He was even nice enough to let his little sister help him put together the puzzle (but not the planetarium or the solar system model – hey, allowing her to touch one out of three is considered a success at this point).

searching for the right pieces

working together on this project (a miracle captured on film or disc or whatever is in a digital camera)

the finished project, Earth and the moon! (and as I helped them with this, I can attest to the fact that a circular puzzle is much harder than a regular puzzle!)

Once the puzzle was complete, big brother wanted to put together his new model of the solar system and mini planetarium.  This was a lot of fun as each planet was tiny and shaped like a ball, therefore little brother assumed he should try to steal each piece (and then scream when he wasn’t allowed to run away).  Good times.

We finally got everything together without losing any pieces (yet) and here the birthday boy is, ready for bed and hoarding his stash.

OOOOOHHH, AAAAAHHHH – the planets actually revolve around the sun individually on their own orbit path but when we tried to take a picture of that, it looked weird so he just pushed them back into line order

Each time I stare at a new picture of the planets, I am saddened that Pluto is no longer included.  I mean, Pluto and I were together all through my childhood and schooling.  So, this particular set made my day when I discovered that it had included a teeny tiny little ball on the outskirts of the universe that was meant to be Pluto, with the disclaimer that it was only a dwarf planet now.  I’ll take it.  Welcome back, Pluto.  (if you look closely right by his hand, you can see what looks like a freckle – that’s Pluto)

Then we headed upstairs to set up the planetarium.  It was not of great quality – hey, it was purchased because I had a coupon, don’t judge – but he was very excited to check out the Northern Hemisphere the first night and the Southern Hemisphere the next night.  A point to anyone who can locate the big and little dippers (for the record, I still can’t and the constellation locator map was right in front of me).

planetarium stars mixed in with his glow in the dark stars

He ended up really enjoying his presents and the process of playing with everything/putting everything together actually turned out to be fun for the whole family!  Who knew? 🙂

**It only took 2 days for the planetarium to need new batteries.  Thank God the solar system stands on its own….at least until my baby gets a hold of it**

A Third 1st Birthday

Lately, I have watched as many of my parent friends have struggled with how to go about having 1st birthdays for their subsequent children.  When you are a first time parent, you often feel the need to go all out for that special day when your child turns one.  Some invite the whole neighborhood; some hire party planners and/or photographers; some buy ridiculous decorations and gifts, and all this is for a child that will essentially do the following things no matter how dressed up he is: smile, scream, soil himself (usually in a big way), smash a cake, fall asleep.  As these same people enter the world of multiple children, they tend to step back and evaluate the pros and cons of repeating the process.

When I reached the milestone of having my 3rd child reach his 1st birthday, I was kind of limited with the amount of time I could spend on party planning (not to mention the money aspect).  Luckily, both of my boys have birthdays within 3 weeks of each other.  So last year, while my baby was blissfully ignorant, I simply added his name to my older son’s cake and bought an extra cake for him to smash at big brother’s birthday party. It was a fun celebration without an extra party!  Woo Hoo.  Ingenious.

But what to do on baby’s actual birthday?  I didn’t want him to feel like he missed out when he looks at his photo album in a few years (of course he has no clue right now) but I was not about to use up what little energy I had left planning a huge celebration.  So, I did what any lazy logical mother of 3 would do, I found the perfect birthday outfit and I made cupcakes.  And now, I am going to share my secret recipe for a magical third 1st birthday day with you!

  • Step 1: Outfit your child for the special day.  This involves diligently searching various stores until you find a cheap birthday tshirt/onesie in the clearance section at Target.  Add some jeans, shorts, or those diapers that look like jeans from the dresser drawer located in your baby’s room.  And, WALAH (sp?), you’re done with costuming, your child will be comfortable and you won’t freak out when he gets icing all over himself! Congrats.

    he’s the birthday boy

  • Step 2: The Cake/Cupcakes.  Dig through your pantry until you find an old box of cake mix that you bought when the mixes were on sale buy one, get one free and make sure that it’s not too far past the “best if used by” date.

made from scratch cake mix

Mix the ingredients up as fast as you can and pour them quickly into a muffin pan because pretty soon the baby will soil himself (as previously mentioned) and you don’t want to be in the middle of making a food item when he does.

Notice how I made sure to spill the batter onto the pan while pouring so that people wouldn’t think I was a professional baker

Find a clean spoon.  Scoop whatever is left in the mixing bowl onto the spoon and insert in mouth.  That wonderful taste and smell will help you ignore the aroma that is coming from the playpen as dear baby has started the soiling process.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT ignore the spoon licking step or the cupcakes will not turn out!

Place the pan in the oven and allow the batter to bake for the appropriate amount of time.  Run over to stinky baby to deal with the soiling issue, then promptly wash hands and give big kisses to the baby before pulling the cupcakes out, letting them cool and placing them on the nearest platter you can find.

Yes, this is a chip and dip platter, but it works!

Pull out that can or bottle of frosting that you secretly keep for times of stress. Check that it is still fresh by pouring a large amount directly into your mouth.

I highly recommend this for your secret stash

Once satisfied by the frosting fix, decorate the cupcakes to your liking with the remainder of the can (they don’t have to be pretty because you can always hide them with a cute cupcake topper and your baby will just smash his to make it “prettier” anyway).  Hand out the cupcakes to your family and enjoy.

Looks like I bought it at a bakery, right? RIGHT?

  • Step 3: The Presents.  Save the boxes/wrapping paper that others used when giving your baby presents and present them to him for his enjoyment.  Nothing says I love you like an empty box or perhaps one filled with packing popcorn. (Be warned that if baby happens to swallow a piece of packing popcorn, you will have to revisit the “soiling” step.)

    Always up for a good time

    After all is said and done, your baby won’t remember a thing, but you can still get some cute pictures to remind him that you took the time to revel in the excitement that was his actual 1st birthday day, even if it is your third 1st birthday day.