Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Birthday Carnival

Lately, I've had a few people ask me about the details surrounding the Carnival Party I planned last November. Things have been crazy since then and I totally forgot to post about it. The party was a HUGE success and I'm very proud to have been involved. The birthday boy had a wonderful time ~ the only shame is that he won't remember any of it (it was his 1st birthday party!). So, here goes....

For me, two of the MOST IMPORTANT party items (for any party really!) are the invite and the cake. They set the tone for the entire party. I believe they should go together like a good bag and great shoes. So I'll start with those. The invite was from Tiny Prints and my friend, Elizabeth, made the cake based on a photo I provided to her. Is she talented or what? I've never received that many compliments for a cake but it really was THAT GOOD. Tasted damn good too! Isn't it just perfection? Elizabeth also made the accompanying cupcakes on the stand behind the cake.

Invite was cropped by me to take out personal details of the party folks.

I also received tons of compliments on the wreath I made for the front door. I'd bookmarked the directions on how to make it from this site months prior and was so pleased to finally have an opportunity to use it. My fingers were really raw and sore after making the wreath but it was SO WORTH IT. This is an inexpensive and easy craft that would add a really nice detail to any event. This Mom liked it so much that she asked to keep it to hang it in her son's room after the party.

The kids attending really went wild over the PRIZE board. I was so happy because this was another of my favorite details and I had a lot of fun making it. Another easy and fairly inexpensive craft....

I wish I had a better, more clear photo of the Favor table. We had gumball machines and extra gumballs for the older kids and animal crackers for the younger bunch. I stacked the crackers on a cake plate I already owned and filled in around it with extra animal crackers. It looked so cute.... The gumball sets were tied with red/white twine and had little star cutouts attached with each child's name. Then I hand stamped the little signs with the star cutouts that thanked the guests for attending, etc...

I am no photographer. I wish I were. I tried to take a photo of the dessert table but it turned out so dark. And I worked SO VERY HARD on the backdrop. I'd never worked with PVC or PVC cutters before but I figured it all out pretty quickly. My friend, Jennifer, helped me to sew the fabric pocket to slide the fabric curtain on the PVC rod. Many thanks again, Jennifer! The backdrop worked out so well. I chose a fabric that complimented the red and white stripes on the popcorn bags.

The "Party Hop" bags hanging on the fence just awaiting the first game.

The cotton candy machine was a huge success....very popular!

The carnival tent pinata....

I made several flower arrangements in plastic Popcorn boxes (Dollar Tree).

I think one of my signature party decorations is some type of tree that fits into the party theme (we had ribbon topiaries for July 4th, felt pine trees for the camping party, etc). For this party, I made these little trees out of tickets. There were a few and they were placed around the house as decor.

I couldn't even believe my luck when I found these "Ferris Wheels" at Hobby Lobby. They were SO PERFECT for the dessert table. I had two, one of each side of the cake, and they were filled with candies. There were little bags available so that the kids could fill a bag with candy as an additional favor. Here, you can also see the very sweet little paper goods that we used for plates, napkins, etc (also a Hobby Lobby find).

The balloon guy made this crazy birthday hat for the birthday boy. Needless to say, it was too large for him. But we all had fun trying to wear it and balance it (it reminded me of the cool birthday party hat that the female poodle wore in the book GO DOG GO!!!). It was HUGE!

We had a face painting tent and this was our banner that we hung on the outside. My daughter, Sophie, shows off her face painting (she'd requested a green elephant)...

The birthday boy loves balloons. If he could talk and make a request, he'd probably have asked for lots of balloons. So we made sure there were plenty around. He was enthralled, of course!
(Note: I purchased those little star buckets - in photo below - at Ikea and they were on each food table, filled with peanuts.)

A party can be complete without a Photo Booth but it's certainly more fun with one.

SO, there you have it. I took my own photos so that's all I have. In hindsight, I wish we could've hired a photographer to take photos that day but it wasn't in the budget. There were many other details for which we don't have pictures. But you get the gist. I think we captured the more magical parts of the party. Feel free to email me if you want directions for any of the crafts, purchase details, etc. Glad I could share and thanks to those of you who asked for the details and photos!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happiness is.....

~ Having my 24-week checkup with the doctor Monday morning and seeing my baby girl wiggling around on the ultrasound. Normally, there wouldn't have been an ultrasound during this appointment but my doctor had some concern because this baby girl hangs REALLY LOW, ALL THE TIME. The nurse had a hard time finding her heartbeat, even after I'd warned her that the baby was extremely low. As it turns out, everything is GREAT, GREAT, GREAT. This baby is currently in breech position, sitting on my bladder, and her feet are right around my hoo-ha (which is where I feel all of her movement and kicks). There is absolutely zero sign of any pre-term labor. Her heartbeat is very steady at 156 bpm. I was amazed at how large she's become and how she's starting to fill out my entire uterus. Wow. And I almost fell off the table when my doctor said we'll start the 2-week checkups after next month's appointment. WOW. This pregnancy is flying by and that was my wake-up call. So...very happy appointment!!!

~ Receiving a lovely, lovely handwritten letter/card in the mail, from my wonderful sister-in-law, Bianca. (I am blessed with two wonderful sisters-in-law actually and consider myself quite lucky!) She saw my blog post about the 52 week/52 letter challenge and decided to beat me to the punch by sending me a handwritten little sumpin', sumpin'. While she apologized for the picture on the front of the card, I LOVED IT. It made me giggle because I thought it was more than appropriate given my current "condition". What do you think?

~ Also, with regard to the 52/52 Challenge, I mailed letters #2 and #3 today! And, see, you thought I'd already forgotten....

~Fresh flowers in the hooouuuussseeeee. It's been my splurge lately. And it really does make me happier....

~ Planning our next family trip to New York City. I'm working on my current wish list (here's the wish list for my solo trip last August) and it makes me so very excited!!! I can hardly stand much to do there and so little time always.

~ Watching and singing The Sound of Music with Sophie. Last weekend we planned a family movie night to let Sophie watch The Sound of Music for the first time. What a great idea! She LOVED IT and now asks to watch the "Music Machine" (a special feature showing all the songs from the movie) almost daily. It's very fun to watch and sing along with her. It's also so heart warming to listen to her sing and dance from the next room!

~ Sophie's art work brightening up the kitchen.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Icelandic Dreams....

Since college, I've harbored this big, audacious dream to visit Iceland. It's one of those top items on my Bucket List. Today, while doing my weekly read of A Cup of Jo, I watched a video of someone's birthday trip to Iceland. Oh my!!! To say that my desire to visit Iceland has been reinvigorated would be a HUGE understatement. Please take a few moments to watch this'll be like a tiny little trip to Iceland in the middle of your day (how exciting!!!).

One thing I know for sure? I'll be having some serious Icelandic dreams tonight!!!

(Note to self: Please, please, please learn how to make a video like this one. I love it.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I am The Ox!

Since I was small, I've had a curiosity about Chinese horoscopes. In the last several years, my dear friend, Helena, has peeked this interest. She'd always ask about my animal, my husband's, my daughter' order to get a better understanding of each of us. I wanted to know more. Well, I can finally cross this off my to-do list. Earlier this week, I stumbled across this book at the library....

For the past few days, I've been hungrily reading through the book. Via Helena, I already knew I was born in the year of the Ox; however, I didn't know much about the Ox. It's been interesting reading through the different chapters ~ seeing which parts are true for me and which don't necessarily apply. This is what I now know:

I was born in the year of the Ox.
My element is Water (-).
My ascendent is the Rabbit.

Image via Squidoo.

The ox symbolizes the attainment of prosperity through fortitude and hard work. She is fair-minded and a good listener. She may be stubborn. The ox lady is a no-nonsense type of girl. She's efficient without being fussy and protective without being too dominating. She is soft-spoken and confident. Overly concerned about details (yes!). An ox is known to nurture grievances for too long. She has a long and exacting memory and injuries are remembered down to the last detail. She may be overly sensitive where pride is concerned. The ox is no gambler. Risks and razor-thin margins unmove her because of a profound need for security. Sociable and relaxed when she feels secure. She is self-reliant and may have a hard time accepting aid. A rugged individualist.

As a child, the ox is tough but not very talkative, obedient and attentive. Privacy is a concession the ox demands. She will know how to be discreet, even secretive, at an early age, and can be trusted to keep confidences. She is the strong, silent type ~ not argumentative by nature. She may be deeply hurt and no one else will suspect it. The ox child is an exemplary student, responsible and reliable. A good leader and follower. With minimum guidance, she will take the initiative to perform to the best of her ability and prove her worthiness to herself and all who know her.

As a Water Ox, she is more realistic than idealistic. She is patient, practical and unrelentingly ambitious. She is reasonable and flexible. Slow and sure, she prefers to act independently. This ox is a dutiful and dedicated fighter ~ striving to reach great heights and conquer by sheer constancy and unfailing determination.

Due to the Rabbit influence, she is kind, diplomatic and discreet. She doesn't change her opinions easily. She dislikes disruptions or unforeseen delays and will seek to establish order and control. Appreciates music and the theater.

What doesn't apply:
The ox is systematic, adhering to fixed patterns and has great respect for tradition (I may be many things but I am no traditionalist!). May be criticized for a lack of imagination (never!). Has an uncluttered mind (definitely not me!). Overly concerned about punctuality (I wish but no). Harbors strong prejudices (not so much).

On the Western astrological calendar, I am a Taurus. A pretty strong one too because my ascendent is also Taurus. It was interesting to read about the similarities between the Ox and Taurus ~ they definitely share similar characteristics.

So there you are. Now I know. If you've ever wondered about your animal sign, I recommend picking up this book. It's quite fascinating....even if you're just an interested novice like me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Peas & Carrots

One of the items on my Nesting List (things to accomplish before this baby girl arrives) is to get up-to-date on our photos (uploading to Kodak Gallery to share with family, putting in albums, etc). This is a gargantuan that I don't necessarily enjoy. EXCEPT for when I find photos that I forgot about.....

THIS is my darling Kenzie Snooter. An absolute love of my life. My furry soul mate. She has the most soulful eyes I've ever seen in any dog (and trust me when I say that I've been around a LOT of dogs in my life). She understands me and I like to think that I understand her. When I'm down or sick, she seems to know just what to do to pick me up again. Just her very presence is comforting to me. I know that a higher power was working hard the day I walked into a local PetsMart and saw this sweet little beast peeking out of her crate. I turned to my husband and said, "I will not leave this store without this dog", and I didn't. Whatever led me to that store on that particular day....whatever led me to lean down and peek inside that crate....whatever drove me to adopt her, even at an inopportune time in our lives....whatever has happened in the time between April 15, 2000 and today.....I know ALL OF IT was meant to be. I don't understand a lot of things in life but I will always know that Kenzie and I were meant to cross paths in this life. She will always be a HUGE highlight in my matter how long I live and/or what happens between now and my last day on Earth. Kenzie is now 11 years old (a miracle, for sure!) and I work on mentally preparing myself for the day when she's not with me any more. But I don't worry too, too much about it because I know we will meet again. Crossed souls like ours.....well, they are destined to meet again. Some time, some place. She'll never be far from me!

Kenzie & Hubbell. Sister & Brother. Don't they look alike? The very sight of the two of them together makes me melt. I just adore them both.

Kenzie & I? Well, yes, we go together like peas & carrots.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome Spring!!!

I am SO THRILLED that Spring has finally arrived. Who else is with me? We spent a good part of the weekend working in the yard and planting flowers, veggies, etc.... Alain also took a long time cleaning up Sophie's playhouse and water/sand table. My darling husband also granted my wish and made virgin margaritas for me to enjoy out on the deck Saturday night. It is so nice to be able to spend so much time outside again. Aahhhh.....

Alain, Sophie (with monkey face) and Hubbs enjoying the newly cleaned playhouse!

Happy First Day of Spring to my friends & family!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

LSP: Ice Skating!!!

I don't know about you but, when I was small, I really loved ice skating!!! Recently the mom of one of Sophie's friends mentioned that there's a modern, clean, nice ice skating center not too far from home and that they offer ice skating lessons. Well, it didn't take long for me to sign Sophie up for classes. This weekend was our second week and, I have to say, I think Sophie really likes it. Here are some shots of her first class and those first timid attempts at skating....

Dad helps Sophie get all wrapped up....

Soph's first attempts to "march" across the rink.

Practicing the "Dip"

Soph with her instructor. I don't know if you can tell from this lousy photo but she's grinning from ear to ear. We saw a lot of that....

The hardest part for me is knowing that I won't be able to skate with her until at least August or so. I REALLY look forward to ice skating with my girl.... For me, and hopefully for Sophie, ice skating is one of Life's Simple Pleasures!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Letter Down!!!

Happy Letter - Mini Decor Pillow
On Monday I mailed my first letter. I decided to write one of my college suitemates, a good friend of mine through the years. We fell out of touch during the summer of 2009 and it was TOTALLY MY FAULT! To make a real statement and apology, I decided a handwritten letter would make a stronger impression. I keep thinking that she'll receive it today and I imagine her surprise and, hopefully, joy. I think I'm going to like this challenge....

Image via this Etsy shop.

Friday, March 11, 2011

52 Weeks, 52 Letters

Today I was so thrilled to come across this "challenge". (Hey, I've always warned you that I arrive a little late to the game sometimes.) Even though I appreciate today's technological advances (I try, I really do!), I can't help but keep feeling that we're losing something. A heartfelt email is nice but nothing warms my heart like handwritten correspondence in my mailbox. I literally want to do cartwheels each time I get a handwritten letter, postcard, invitation......well, anything really. I have ridiculous amounts of stationery that I've accumulated over the years and this will give me the perfect opportunity to put some of it to good use. What's one skipped TV show if it means putting a smile on someone's face? I'm actually looking forward to doing this, at least for the moment. It might get a little challenging this summer with a newborn but, according to the rules, handwritten thank you cards and the like should count. :-)

Anyone care to join me?

Be sure to check your mailbox!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Big Sister!

As you might imagine, one of the greatest parts of this pregnancy has been sharing it with Sophie. Due to my history and my fear of something being wrong with the baby, we didn't share the news with her until after the four month mark. We had intended to wait longer but during one pleasant Saturday morning breakfast we decided we couldn't wait any longer. The thought of telling Sophie was just too exciting! My darling husband, who is one of the world's biggest sentimental shmucks, began telling her but started to get emotional. So I finished the job. It took a moment to sink in for Soph. Then her eyes started to get bigger and she started to grin....

Her very first question? "Will my little sister go to my school?" Yes she will, for a few months, until you start kindergarten was our reply. She was delighted!

Her second question? "Mommy, how does the baby come out of your belly?" Oh, the dreaded question. To which I replied.....Well, you see, Mommy has to push really, really hard to get the baby out. "Does it hurt?" Well yes, it hurts a lot but my doctor will be there to help out and she can give me medicine if it hurts too much. Under the table, I was wrenching my hands. I was so scared she would ask me WHERE I pushed the baby out. To my surprise, that question never came. It still hasn't to this day.

One of the reasons I had decided last August to stop trying for a baby was because I also thought that the age difference between Sophie and a possible younger sibling was getting to be larger than I would want. Boy was I wrong. It hurts to think about all that I would have missed out on. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how much a part of this whole process Sophie is. It's not just between Alain and I. She understands everything. She asks the most interesting questions. I love the pride on her face when she tells other people that "Mommy is growing a baby in her belly". I love her smile when people ask if she's going to a good big sister and she replies Yes.

All my life I've wished I had a sister. Every woman I know who doesn't have a sister tells me the same. So I am THRILLED on Sophie's behalf that she will have a sister.....a sister just like I always wanted. As with any parent, I just hope that they are close and that they have a good relationship. I know it's mostly luck but I'll do everything in my power to steer them in the right direction.

I am so very lucky that things have turned out this way. I'm so happy that Sophie is four and a half. I don't mind the almost five-year age difference that will exist between my two children. I am delighted that Sophie will perhaps remember some of this and will most likely always remember the day her baby sister was born. I still count my little brother's date of birth as one of the happiest in my life (yes, even though he wasn't the sister I'd dreamed of!). Most of all, I'm so happy that I am "growing a baby in my belly"....a little sister for the soon-to-be, sure-to-be wonderful BIG SISTER SOPHIE.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Here We Go (& GROW!) Again....

Life is full of surprises. Good ones and not so good ones. Well, in early November, I had a HUGE surprise. What was it? A positive pregnancy test. Yes, a positive pregnancy test. And I was shocked beyond belief. Why? Well, in August, I'd told my husband I didn't want to try anymore. After losing a couple of babies in the previous year, I didn't want to experience any further loss, didn't want to suffer through any more D&C surgeries. So we took the proper steps to prevent a pregnancy and I started making other plans for my life. Can you imagine my surprise when I wasn't feeling well and took that test to find a positive result? Listen, I studied biology on a graduate level for a few years. I know ALL about the birds and the bees. But I'm still not exactly sure how this pregnancy came to be. Did I have a fun night with a few too many glasses of wine? No, not that I can recall. This had to happen in October. And I clearly remember October. I went to Atlanta to visit a dear friend of mine and I remember thinking it would be a "safe month" because I'd be gone during the, uh, "ripe time". Well, I was wrong.

And I couldn't be more happy to have been wrong. I'll admit that, at first, I wasn't exactly pleased. I thought it was a safe assumption that I'd just end up losing another baby. I didn't want that hurt and disappointment and possible surgery time again. I'd also started making plans to go back to work. In my mind, I was headed in a direction full force, thinking I was totally done with being pregnant and having babies. My disbelief lasted a while. I kept making other plans while I awaited bad news at each doctor appointment. It was only during the third ultrasound, at around 12 weeks, that I actually allowed myself to look at the little baby on the screen. WOW! This is my second time around but I'd forgotten how fully formed these munchkins are at that early stage. And I saw and heard that wonderful heartbeat, the one thing those previous babies I'd lost just never had. That day I had no choice but to sit up and take notice and accept that this just might be the one pregnancy that would work out.

After a little scare and a CVS test (which went VERY WELL and was not at all scary, thank you!), I am now 20 weeks along. Yes, half way through. I had the anatomical ultrasound last week and this baby girl (yes, another girlie for us ~ YAY!) looks wonderful. I think I'm finally breathing normally and may actually get to enjoy the last half of this pregnancy. My second little baby girl is crazy active and constantly giving me swift kicks to let me know that she's still there and doing fine.

Now that I'm here, I couldn't be any more pleased at how things have happened. For me, in my mind, this little girl is meant to be. At the right time and in the right place. Truthfully, even though I wasn't trying and even though I was busily making other plans, I could never make total peace with having only one child. I think there is NOTHING wrong with having an only child and Sophie is more than enough to make me happy for the rest of my life. But, to me, my family felt incomplete. I was trying really hard (!!!) but I just couldn't get there. From about two months in, I realized that, if this pregnancy worked out, I would have the peace I'd been seeking. And I do.

Welcome peace......please make yourself at home.....
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