Sunday, October 31, 2010

Life On The Farm

For Halloween, we decided to visit a local farm. I am BIG on farms...period. Local is even better. This particular farm has been encroached on by suburban sprawl to a ridiculous point. Still, what better place to spend an afternoon.....taking a hay ride, picking out some pumpkins and, BEST OF ALL, visiting the animals. Does Sophie get excited? Of course. Breathlessly so. But Mom might even get more excited. To say that I love animals would be the silliest understatement of the century. So I took a gazillion photos of their heavenly faces. Here are a few... Their eyes are so soulful. Really....amazing creatures.

A baby calf? Seriously, what could be sweeter than this.....?

We also had the opportunity to watch a cow being milked. That was the first time Sophie has witnessed that. I think it captured her attention. And I think it's wicked cool that she now REALLY knows where milk comes from.

I guess you could say that I really like sheep. When I went back through today's photos, they had the most pictures by far. But you can hopefully see why I couldn't stop taking shots of them....

My favorite animal of the day was probably this beast. She really took a liking to me. As I'd walk around and by her pen, she'd follow me and let out a sweet little "MOO" here and there. She was precious. Alain said she liked me because she knew I was a vegetarian (she's a beef cow). To think that someone might actually eat her one day in the future hurts my heart.

Who would eat this face? I'm just happy it's not me.

I kept trying to get a photo of these cute little turkeys (?) that were hanging out in her pen and she kept creeping into the below here....adorable!!!

Sidenote: I had to get a few shots of the McMansions that surround this farm. This is the view on all sides. I really admire the family for keeping the farm operational. Who knows what kind of offers they've received from developers! I'm going to make it a point to go there at least a few times a year to support them in my own little way.

Postscript: Being on the farm today reminded me of one of my most favorite quotes, for many reasons:

"You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything".

Friday, October 29, 2010

I'm turning into a Carnie....!!!

I am already hard at work on my next party. I am STOKED about this one. Just starting to collect all the props, paper, fabric, etc.... This party is a big one and it's only a little over three weeks away so forgive me if my presence here is a little spotty until then. Bet you can't guess the theme.....

The little birthday boy is turning one and he is SO ADORABLE!! Can't wait to share those photos...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blue Man's Exciting Day Out

Sophie and I love to go to IKEA. She loves the play room. I love the products, ideas, inspiration and reasonable prices. We love to eat lunch in the cafe. When we go there, we're happy and content for at least a good few hours. So we made an excursion to IKEA yesterday, at Soph's request. Sophie also decided to bring Blue Man along.

Background: Blue Man is a legit member of our family. I adopted (purchased) him a couple of years before Sophie was even born. My favorite color is blue and my favorite animals are elephants. I saw Blue Man lying in a basket at Anthropologie and I was smitten. Much to my surprise, when Sophie was old enough to choose a favorite "buddy" out of the hundreds she had, she chose Blue Man. I could not have been happier. Since then, he's been EVERYWHERE. All over the U.S., Canada, Europe. He's fairly adventurous.

Yesterday, Blue Man ventured with Sophie and I to IKEA. Below are some photos showing some of his adventures....

While Sophie played in the play room (Smaland), Blue Man rode quietly in the cart while I browsed around. He's such a good elephant.

Later, while Sophie and I took a potty break, Blue Man quietly sat in the infant seat....

We were so thrilled to find an elephant friend for Blue Man but, for some reason, Blue Man was intimidated....

I am pretty sure Blue Man liked the kids section best. He tried out a slide....


He pulled a "Goldilocks" and tried out some of the beds....

He was not fond of the egg chair that spins around and around. This is an "after" shot.

Soon after, he sat down to have a "tea" and recover from all the dizziness.

When we lost Blue Man for a few minutes, we discovered that someone had thrown him into a bin with a bunch of rabbits thinking he was just another animal for sale. Ahem.

He did not like that.

Soon after, we caught him sneaking a cat nap in the cafe.

The best part of all? Blue Man met some pretty cool friends, one with wicked cool socks, while we were there. They've agreed to meet up again soon for more IKEA fun....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Four Year Old Interview

Recently I came up with the idea to interview Sophie each year around the time of her birthday. One day we can look back at them but we can also give them all to her to see how her tastes, thoughts, etc changed over time. Sophie and I completed the four-year-old interview yesterday. I was amazed how my sweet girl with the teeny-tiny attention span LOVED sitting at the table answering all the questions I was throwing at her. So here are Soph's responses. My questions and comments to her are in bold. Any explanation by me is in parentheses.

What's your name?: Sophie did provide her full name (which I won't post here!)

How old are you?: Four

What's your favorite color?: Green, Blue & Pink. Plus Red, Lellow (yellow), White, Brown, Black, Grey and Purple

What's your favorite food?: Yogurt, the chocolate one. Oh, and cucumbers, mac & cheese, and the square things (ravioli)

Who is your favorite friend?: Rex and Nathan and Aadi

What is your favorite thing to play?: Choo-choo train, with friends.....and cars.

What is your favorite animal?: Ducks & Chickens & Baby Chicks

If you could hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world, where would you go?: New York City

Do you have a favorite letter?: H, because Hubbell starts with "H"

What's your favorite number?: 7

Do you like school?: Yes, I like playing on the playground.

What's your favorite book? : Curious George Any one in particular?: The one where he goes to New York City

What's your favorite word?: the jumping place

What's your favorite song?: The Puppy Song I don't know that one. How does it go?: I made it up, Mommy (she then proceeded to sing her made-up lyrics)

What's your favorite thing to do?: Jump with Mommy at the jumping place

What makes you the most happy?: when Mommy says we can go to Plaza Fiesta and the roller coaster.....I like when you ride rides with me

What would you like to be when you grow up?: A builder. What would you like to build?: A playground, a car, a boat and a truck and a house. And paint them. And plan a big party at the house. And paint lots of birdhouses.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Memories of Camp and Party Inspiration

The BIG party was yesterday and what a grand time it was! Everything went off without a hitch. The birthday boy was really happy and had a great time. My husband also overheard one of the little boys telling his mother that this was his favorite party ever. Could there be a better compliment? Some of the details and photographs are below....

One of my favorite details was the Camp Rules sign.....this was an easy and inexpensive project. I actually used an old piece of plywood that I had lying around. Since plywood is more porous than other wood, I had to prime it.....I used three coats.....then just painted with chalkboard paint. Due to shortage of time, I only used one coat of chalkboard paint but it still worked perfectly.

I think the birthday boy would say that the "Camp Wyatt" sign was his favorite detail. You should have seen his face when he saw it. It was priceless. This was also easy and inexpensive....a basic piece of foamboard with stick letters glued on. Also notice the pine cone bunting.....simple twine afixed to pine cones from my backyard.

I also made some simple stick frames from sticks and twine. Some of us had fun posing and taking photos with these.

As the main activity, we had a scavenger hunt. I created a list of nature items (sticks, rocks, feathers, acorns, etc) that the boys and girls had to find. Upon bringing me the complete list of items, each child received a "Camp Kit". Each kit contained a flashlight, handheld fan, poncho, compass, whistle and magnifying glass. This was a BIG HIT. The kids LOVED IT! I hand stamped each bag....

Personally I LOVED the kids table. I really liked camping when I was growing up and I always associate red and white checked tablecloths with camping. Since we had a tight budget for the party, I chose some cones and branches from a pine tree in our yard and used it to create centerpieces for the table. I was so happy with the end result.

One of the real highlights of the party was the S'Mores Bar. Of course. We had traditional S'Mores but we also had chocolate grahams and Reese Peanut Butter Cups on offer for a little twist. I highly recommend those....

Below is the shot of the pine trees I made from styrofoam cones and felt. They turned out pretty cute and provided a little detail on the gift table. I borrowed the moose from Sophie's collection of animals...

I think the party was memorable and magical for Wyatt. I'm very happy I could be a small part of that!!!

PS - Two great blogs provided inspiration for this party. I wanted to highlight those here!

PPS - I am always interested in creative people and where they find their inspiration. You can find inspiration in the oddest places. The stick frames and pine cone bunting were inspired by this image from a Pottery Barn Kids catalog!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Making Memories on the Mountain...

On Sunday the family ventured up to Grandfather Mountain in Linville, NC. This is a family tradition that we started in 2008. The very first thing I did when I stopped working was plan a weekend trip there. And this was our third year in a row. I always look forward to this trip each October. I'm one of those people who dreams of owning a mountain house rather than a beach house. This year, however, was much warmer than usual and the colors weren't as vibrant. (I'll take the cold any day.) Still, we had a blast and enjoyed a lovely, lovely day in each others company.... We also added a stop-off trip to Blowing Rock on the way home. Blowing Rock has a very sweet little downtown area with cute little shops and a great central park/playground. It's also fairly dog friendly so the dogs joined us on a walk around town.

Here are a few of my favorite photos....

The clouds were really beautiful all day. Pictures never do justice but I tried to get some decent shots. It was one of those perfect Carolina Blue sky days...

We picnicked right near this spot and I fell in love with this majestic tree.

As we were leaving home, Sophie insisted on bringing a hippo toy from when she was younger. We tried to talk her out of no avail. As it turns out, the hippo received several nice walks on Grandfather Mountain. Very cute...

Kenzie never rests. She guards us so fiercely. It make me want to cry sometimes. She's such an amazing soul. My furry soul mate. No question.

Hubbs gets the last shot. Of course. Who gets to be this sweet AND this gorgeous? Ugh. And the best part? He has no friggin' clue. Not one.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Did I die and go to Paper Heaven?

Well, no. But I did go to the Holiday Open House at Paper Source last night. You know, I've been frequenting that store for about a decade now and had never taken a class there. Seems silly knowing how much I love paper. Well, thanks to my friend Leslie, I attended a class last night. It was SO MUCH FUN. I felt like a kid back in elementary school doing crafts. I was in my own little world creating cards and having the time of my life. So I wanted to share a few of the cards I made last night. I am so proud.

Which is your favorite?

I am already diligently working on my holiday cards (Hanukkah and Christmas). I'll have to reveal them later because most of the recipients read this blog. But I can't wait because just making them makes me grin from ear to ear. I've decided I really need to win the lottery so I can buy all the supplies I am now dreaming about.....

If you're lucky enough to have a Paper Source in your area, do yourself a favor and attend a class. You won't be sorry!!!

PS - I forgot to mention the best part. My raffle ticket was pulled for a giveaway so I received a bunch of items for FREE. See, I really did die and go to Paper Heaven!!! :-)

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Weekend Respite With The Family

After all the "camp talk" going on in our house lately, we had a great idea this past weekend. Let's camp out in our backyard ~ it'll be good practice for Sophie before we take her out in the woods.

So let's just say that there was a small snafu with our tent and it ended up in a jumbled up pile in the yard. Well, who needs a tent? We decided to enjoy a camping night anyway.

We pulled out the use in lieu of a fire pit....collected some sticks and paper.....brought out all the s'more goodies....played some great tunes...and had an awesome time.

The whole family joined in on the fun. Sophie made sure all of her animals had a place to sit by the fire....

Later, our sweet little muffin ended up falling asleep in one of our sleeping bags. Hubbell stayed curled up at the end of the sleeping bag keeping watch over "his girl".

Kenzie hopped up on the lounge chair and snuggled with me. LOVE this schnoz shot of her. She is just too delicious....

Mom & Dad (aka Audrey & Alain)....well, they hung out drinking wine and sitting mesmerized by the fire until about 1:00 in the morning.

It was a perfect, perfect night.

I really love my family.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Reflections on the Goose's 4th Birthday...

Things have been so crazy lately....going to NYC, executing all the plans for Sophie's birthday, heading to the beach, a five-party weekend....whew....we've been moving fast around here. Now that we're starting to have some time to breathe, I find myself reflecting on the past four years, since a lovely little being named Sophie entered our lives.

Hanging with Hubbs the day before Soph entered the world.

As with all parents, it's hard to believe that our sweet little girl is already four. What happened to the time? Where did it go? I think we all have a specific child age in mind when we imagine having children and being parents. For me, Sophie's coming into the age that always filled my dreams.

How would I describe our daughter? Inquisitive, curious, imaginative, independent, needs to be constantly challenged, sensitive and, at the moment, she's firmly ensconced in the question phase. The other day she asked me why dinosaurs also poop. I asked, "how do you know dinosaurs poop". She responded that she'd seen it. Hmmm. "What did it look like" asked this very curious Mom. Like big green balls. Hmmmm, it must've been a vegetarian dinosaur then, I told her. Our conversations are very much like this nowadays. And it's so much fun!!!

Sophie, admiring her 4th Birthday Cake

Yesterday we were riding in the car, on the way home from a party, and she said to me, "Mommy, you're always happy". Well, I can't imagine a greater compliment coming from anyone but it was especially nice coming from my own child. Of course, for her, it's just an observation. For me, it just made my heart warm, snuggly and happy. I love the brutal honesty that kids have at this age, the ability to say whatever they're thinking & feeling. I hope she can hold onto that for as long as possible. The one thing I know for sure is that I'll be enjoying it for as long as I can....

Being at five parties this past weekend, most of those for Soph's school friends, I had a unique opportunity to speak to other parents at length. The one characteristic our daughter possesses that other people mentioned most often is her fierce independence. I remember being pregnant....rubbing my belly....and wishing for my child to be independent. Well, it appears I got my wish. It's the second most obvious trait she picked up from Mom (after her dreamy blue eyes). It makes me happy and I just hope this independence serves her well in life. In this phase of her life, it just makes parenting her a little more difficult. I thought she'd grow out of the "I'll do it myself" phase but not so much.

Sophie, at age three

Being four, Soph is also starting to share interests with both of us. For me, I ADORE singing and dancing with her. She also LOVES music and it appears we share similar tastes. Think Party in the U.S.A. (can't believe I just admitted that!), Empire State of Mind, Hey Soul Sister. Also, one of our new favorite pastimes is playing Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders.....two of my most favorite games when I was little. So these days when we have fun it's actually on both of our parts. How nice to finally get here!!!

Soph has also started writing. She loves to spend time writing her name and asking us to spell words so she can write them out. Can you hear my heart pitter-pattering? This is just the first step that leads to reading. I love to just sit with her and write things.

Soph's Writing

The other day Sophie told me that she wants to be a builder when she grows up. When I asked what type of builder she said she wants to make buildings. So we often discuss what type of building we'd create if we could. Could she also be a dreamer? I think yes. I think I lucked out on that one....

This beautiful little soul. It almost killed me but She made her way into this world with her (very large) eyes WIDE OPEN......still to this day the most alert newborn I've ever seen/met. I can still clearly recall how she'd look all around the hospital rooms and stare at all the people who came to visit her. This tiny little newborn.....laying with limbs all akimbo under the bilirubin lights.....shades on.....soaking in as much as she could, whatever life had to offer. From then until now, she hasn't changed much....just growing more into that alert nature.....full of curiosity.....and fiercely independent. With crazy wild curls and those killer blue eyes. Four years old. Unbelievable.

Our alert baby girl.

Sophie, you are the sunshine in my small little sky....shining, blinding, warming my heart, body, mind and soul. I love you, Goose.
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