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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Emmeline Turns One : First Birthday Party

Man, everyone warned me how December birthdays can be difficult, and they weren't wrong. Emmeline's isn't even that close to Christmas (13 days away) but it still proved to be a challenge. Scheduling was hard (do it early and it's too close to Thanksgiving, do it late and it's too close to Christmas, and trying to work around everyone's holiday parties. Then, of course, funds are tight, because again: Christmas. And everyone is just a little more stressed and a little busier that time of year.

And then there are little things that only complete assholes like myself think of, like: "But what about all the Christmas decor we have out? It won't match her party theme!" And then I punched myself in the face because that's ridiculous.

I decided on a loose winter/snowflake theme.

"One" crown from Little Blue Olive
"Emmeline is one" banner from Minted.com
"Let it Snow" sign from Target

Her invite, designed by me.

We had a hot chocolate bar. It was amazing and I pretty much want to drink hot chocolate every day now. And I do, thanks to leftovers. HELPFUL HINT: The hot chocolate toppings are also great on ice cream! So if you decide to follow suit, buy a lot and buy some ice cream and then enjoy the leftovers. BOOM.
Hot chocolate assortment from Amazon.
Snowflake stickers on the cups from Minted.com
Travel cups with lids from Target.

I laid down a white tablecloth and covered it with a "snow blanket" (you could also totally use just white batting from a fabric store sprinkled with glitter) as the base. I got a bunch of fake snowballs and placed them around the table as well. I stapled (super fanceh) pictures of various "firsts" onto a burlap banner and labeled them with small chalkboard labels.  The little chalkboard signs for the "my" and "first" were WAY WAY WAY too small but WHATEVER, right? We had first Christmas, Easter, swim class, camping trip, food, 4th of July, airplane ride, trip to the beach, and Halloween. I painted a chipboard "E" and a chipboard "1" with leftover chalkboard paint from Carys's bedroom.  I filled the rest of the table with her cupcakes and some "wintery" snacks. Wintery in that they were white, basically. Popcorn and donut holes and yogurt-covered pretzels. Hanging down from the top you can juuust see the tip of a "chandelier" I made with big white pom poms and 3D paper snowflakes that I found at Target. I hung paper snowflakes up all over the walls (super cheap from Amazon). And that was seriously about the extent of the decor. Honestly, our house just isn't that conducive to decorating or to entertaining or hosting, so it was pretty basic.

Burlap banner, fake snowballs, and E/1 from Hobby Lobby. I know, they suck.
Chalkboard labels and snow blanket from Target.

Ok, this thing looked way better in real life without the super shadow-y lighting. I swear. 
And do you love our brass and wood ceiling fan??

Looking at the picture above reminds me that I had fake snow that I'd sprinkled on the "E" and the "1" until I had a rare moment of practicality and realized it probably wasn't the smartest to have piles of plastic that move with the slightest hint of a breath that close to the cupcakes. 

Oh. And in the "better in my head" category was a garland I had Carys make out of cotton balls. It was cute, actually. Until I was like, "I KNOW! Let's use spray glue and sprinkle glitter all over it!" And that pretty much didn't work at all and it ended up looking weird because the adhesive made them all stick together and kind of melt a little, but when your three-year-old makes something for her sister's birthday party and is super proud of it, YOU HANG THAT SHIT UP even if you totally ruined it like a complete douche canoe.  So I did. Along with snowflakes found in Target's Christmas section.

I got her a little snowflake outfit from Carter's that is pretty much my favorite ever. Her sweet little headband that stayed on for exactly three minutes (truly a miracle I even got a picture of her wearing it) is from Dear Grace and Parker. Also note the broccoli hanging out of her mouth. WTF.

My amazing little sister has made the dessert for every one of Carys's parties, but she moved to California because she hates us and wasn't able to come back to celebrate with us because she really hates us so I had to figure it out myself like a real adult or something. I ended up making cupcakes, then dipped the top of some of them in clear glitter sprinkles and some of them in tiny marshmallows, and they turned out really pretty. I made marshmallow fondant (SO EASY) and cut out "E"s and "1"s and snowflakes using cookie cutters to decorate the top of them. I wrapped them in pretty gold and silver glittery cupcake wrappers from Amazon

Once again because I pretend to be a health freak, I made the birthday girl's cupcake "healthy" using the blueberry-banana recipe from this site (the same one we used for Carys). I did give her real frosting and marshmallows on top, though. So she got PLENTY of sugar and then some. She very delicately picked off each marshmallow one by one.

She really seriously was not sure about all the people singing to her.


She then got to open her presents, and I'm so grateful everyone took the time to not only get her something, but also wrap them in non-Christmas wrapping paper. I'll always do everything I can to make sure her birthday is entirely separate (even though she'll probably always have a Christmas tree lurking in the background of her birthday pictures). 

And, in true second child fashion, she had to fight her big sister to open any of the presents herself.

That look on my face is me trying to control my three-year-old threenager in front of a room full of people.

And now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go look at pictures from her actual day of birth and cry myself to sleep that time has passed so quickly.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Letters to Emmy : Twelve Months : One Year

November 12 to December 12, 2014
Dear, dear Emmeline:

Well, no matter how much I tried to stop it, time kept marching on and you turned one. I'm in serious mourning that you, who is most likely my last baby, isn't a baby. I have no more babies. And I'm not going to lie, it's pretty heartbreaking.

But toddler Emmeline is so hilarious that you're making up for it and then some. You make me smile all day long (ok, the smile breaks when you decide that the only acceptable place for you is on my hip and that doesn't quite work because I'm trying to cook dinner and it's difficult to do so with half your body occupied by a 22-pound ball of grabbing hands). But you're so, so, so funny. Early in the morning, when it's just me and you lounging in the dark, you pop up with the biggest, cheesiest smile. Your smile is just everything. Scrunched up, wrinkled nose, all your teeth showing, crescent-moon eyes, and suddenly the world is perfect.


You are walking everywhere. I haven't seen you crawl in weeks. You're starting to pick up some speed and test out running. Not very successfully, but you're trying! And not only are you walking everywhere, but you ONLY WANT TO WALK GODDAMN IT PUT ME DOWN WOMAN. If I'm holding you and you want to walk, you turn into a limp, squirmy noodle (I realize that you can't be limp and squirmy at the same time yet you manage) until you have forced your way from my arms. And you don't want to necessarily go where we are going. You really just want to explore on your own. I'm not sure what you're trying to see, but by golly, you're determined to get there.

Your favorite toys at the moment are: I don't know. You're into everything. Anything your sister is playing with, for sure. The race car track you got for your birthday. The baby doll your great-grandma gave you. The musical activity center. Anything with a thousand tiny pieces you can alternately put in your mouth and sprinkle generously around the house. Wipes containers. Wipes themselves. Trash. (The trash can permanently lives on the kitchen counter at the moment, because as often as you are taking trash OUT of the can, you're putting actual not-trash INTO the trash can. I mean, thanks for cleaning up, but we do actually need that puzzle piece). Puzzles - which you can't do yet, but you totally think you can. OH. And how can I forget the freaking golf club?!? Dad got Carys a golf club last year and you carry that darn thing around everywhere and throw a huge fit when we take it out of your hands. It's as tall as you are (even though it's still kid-sized) and fairly heavy (it's metal) but you insist on carrying it all around the house. I'd be okay with you being the next Tigress Woods minus the whole infidelity scandal. You love babbling into a microphone and listening to your voice.

You're tall and starting to average out for weight, just like your big sister did when she started walking. You're 22 pounds (80th percentile) and 31 inches tall (90th percentile) with a giant noggin (18.5 inches - 98th percentile!). Your hair is starting to curl at the tips as it gets longer and I can't wait to see what it does as it grows. Your eyes are a little darker, but still blue. For now! Your dimples are amazing. You have eight teeth (the eighth popped out right before your birthday).

 You are still mostly just babbling - I don't know that you've said any words specifically about an item or person, but sometimes I still think you're saying "book" and "mama." You recently started saying "duck!" all the time but you have no idea what that means - it must just be fun sounds to say.

We actually found out at your one-year appointment that one of your ears is filled with fluid and you don't appear to be hearing out of it at all. (Sad trombone) Luckily, it should be easily treatable with tubes - but it will be at least a month before that happens. In the meantime, we're trying to focus on talking into your right ear and talking more loudly. The doctor believes it's linked to late babbling and not talking (not that you were actually LATE - just on the later side of normal), so I wouldn't be surprised to see a huge language explosion once that is cleared up. Plus, your sister does all the talking for you (does she ever shut up?!?!) so really, you're probably just biding your time until you have something really important to say.

(There's that smile again. Man alive, the smile is everything.)

You aren't a big eater. But when you do want to eat, you want to eat exactly what we're eating, and exactly how we're eating it - for instance, I gave you sauce-less noodles the other day, but you wanted noodles WITH sauce, and on a fork, thank you very much. What are you, some kind of BABY? I mean, you are, because you can't use a fork (though you're trying hard). But you ended up eating pretty much all my noodles. For someone who can't talk, you can sure get your point across well.

You sign "milk" and are starting to sign "all done." We're still working on some other signs, but I'm not as diligent about them as I was with your big sister. Second child syndrome. I'm so sorry. I don't have three hours a day to drill you with flashcards. (Ok, I didn't do that with her either, but I definitely had more time to focus!) Although you're probably thinking, "Um, mom, hello, read what you wrote about my hearing up there? Signs might be a good thing??" 

You still nurse throughout the day, and we're starting to drop bottles in favor of sippy cups. You can drink from a straw, which totally shocked me, because I had no idea you could until you came and took a drink of my lemonade when I wasn't paying attention. 

You've started dancing - turning on one of your musical toys and waving your arms and bopping to the beat (ok, not to the beat - you appear to have picked up my lack of rhythm). You also have started to purposefully make jokes - waggling your head like crazy and then looking at me and then laughing uproariously because seriously, mom, WHO DOES THAT? Did you see that crazy head waggle? You also love starting to give me something and then quickly pulling it away...and, of course, laughing your big cloth-diapered booty off at yourself. And putting your finger in my nose or mouth or eyeball and then, again, laughing at yourself for being so crazy and probably (in your mind) the first toddler to ever think of putting a finger THERE.

You love reading books - you make a beeline for them. You love tearing them up, but you love reading them, too. You pick up a book, then back yourself up until you're sitting in my lap and make me read it - sometimes over and over and over. You love flipping back to earlier pages and starting the book over again at that point. You use your little pointer finger to point out everything on the page (and in life - that little finger is always pointing at something!).

Your newest thing is squeezing into tiny little nooks and crannies. There's a space at my mom and dad's house between the TV console and the bookshelf that is exactly one Emmeline-width wide and you squeeze yourself into it and then just stand there happily. When we were looking at a museum the other day, you found a small, dark square space and sat down in it and then just wanted to hang out there for a while. You love sitting in boxes that barely contain you. Are you a cat?

(And yes, sigh, you're still not sleeping through the night but it is SO MUCH BETTER thanks to your dad going in and giving you your paci back - you're down to 1-2 wakeups at night KNOCK ON SOME MOTHER FLIPPING WOOD and it's just a relief to not be up 8 times a night anymore! You go to bed around 8:30, wake up around 7:30, and take two usually hour-long naps a day around 10 and 3.)

You love to "brush" your hair and "talk" on the phone and "type" on the computer and really, you just so desperately want to be doing what we are doing. It's so, so adorable and so, so endearing but SLOW YOUR ROLL KID and just let me enjoy you being a baby for a little bit longer, okay? This year has gone way too fast, and I've already forgotten what it felt like to hold tiny, 9 pound Emmeline close to my chest and breathe in her newborn scent. I don't remember it. And that kind of totally makes me want to cry. I am just completely indignant that they haven't invented a way to bottle that shit up.

Man, Emmeline, I just love you. We all do. You're such an integral part of our family. I already can't wait to get home and scoop you up and love on you and blow bubbles onto your neck and listen to my favorite toddler giggles.


P.S. I almost forgot the popping that you started doing with your mouth - filling your cheeks with air and making popping noises with your lips and it's just so darn cute. Did I mention how much I love you??

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Halloween 2014 : Cabbage Patch Kid and Elsa

I know Halloween was like a month plus ago, but since I use this blog mostly as a time capsule for myself, I'm posting AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME.

In an absolutely shocking turn of events that NO ONE saw coming, Carys was Elsa for Halloween.

This is going to be short on the DIYs because holyyyyyyyyyyy shit. This Elsa costume was a bitch and a half to make and was basically held together with hopes and prayers. Since I'm not a sewer - I mean, I sew, but I don't know anything about sewing - I chose a fabric that basically unravels if you look at it wrong for part of the dress, so it was falling apart before I even made it. All that after I was determined to have the most authentic Elsa out there (if she was going to be one of a thousand Elsas BY GOD SHE WOULD BE THE MOST REALISTIC) and ordered skirt fabric that was as close to her actual skirt as I could get it, and spent what felt like hours comparing bodice fabric possibilities, and searched every fabric store aisle for the one that matched Elsa's the best.


It held together. And I must have done a better job than I thought because it's STILL holding together despite near daily wearing. (The hair is a hot mess at this point and felting together at the back from rubbing against her skin, but she hasn't noticed.)

Since I knew I'd be spending 8,000 hours on an Elsa dress and wig, I enlisted the help of a friend to make Em's Cabbage Patch doll wig - you can check her out here if you're so inclined. It turned out PERFECTLY.

So to summarize:

Elsa dress: I made. Semi-based on this pattern, which contains lots of instructions and shit that I didn't understand because see above: not a sewer.
Elsa wig: I had the plain crocheted hat, to which I attached hundreds and gazillions of strands of slightly off white (this is important because Elsa's hair IS NOT WHITE it's just very very blonde) and then braided. I sewed a few snowflake decorations into it, as Elsa's braid has, and dusted it with translucent glitter because glitter!
Elsa bodysuit: When it was cold out, I made her wear a white long-sleeve leotard under the dress from Amazon.
Cabbage Patch dress: I had this already, can you believe it?!?! 1980 represent.
Cabbage Patch wig: Love on a Hook

A few days before Halloween, we visited my Mom in Dubuque to see their annual Halloween parade and, while there, we did a trick-or-treating event at the Mississippi River Museum. The costume wasn't quite complete yet, but she rocked it anyway.

Also I forgot Emmeline's wig so we made do with some sort of cute animal with a coat she had and some eyeliner.

When Elsa Met Elsa.

These are at the parade.

Singing Let It Go.

Note the pointy sleeves. These were so insanely important to her. POINTY SLEEVES PLEASE MOM. 

On Halloween, the costumes made their debut at Krispy Kreme that morning, when a couple of friends and I took our kids to get free donuts (I dressed Em up to get one ONLY so I could eat it myself. Having kids is awesome.). You'll note that Carys did not want her hair tucked away for this iteration of Elsa. Which is kind of adorable and endearing.

After Krispy Kreme, I took the girls around to their great-grandparents' houses so they could trick-or-treat there (because everyone knows the best candy comes from grandmas!). My cousin had also brought his kids over to my maternal grandparents (so C and E's great-grandparents), and we had a meeting of the Elsas. Carys ADORES her second cousin Mariah, so she was absolutely in heaven.

She's wearing Mariah's shoes here, I didn't buy her shoes because I'm awful (so she said). Also up until this point she absolutely did NOT want a crown because Elsa does not have a crown in the movie, but the second Maria showed up with a crown it was all she'd ever wanted in her entire life. That plus the Elsa shoes.

We then went to my paternal grandma's house for the Customary Sitting of the Bear Chair.

And then the actual Halloween part of Halloween happened, where I had to beg my kid to go trick-or-treating because all she wanted to do was hand out candy to other kids. It was so cute, you guys. SO FREAKING CUTE. Like tears-in-my-eyes cute. She was calling to the kids on the sidewalk, "Hey! You! Spiderman! Come here! I have candy for you!" and when no one was around she would get a big pouty face and ask where her friends were and she'd yell, "Is anyone there?? Does anyone want some candy?!"  She was so patronizing to every. single. kid. no matter the age that it was totally hilarous. She'd bend down and say, "What do we have here? A princess? And a ghost? How wonderful!" and drop candy into their bucket. I have the cutest, sweetest kid, guys. 

Ok, I'm sure all your kids are adorable too. It's those mom blinders again.

 After enough cajoling she finally, reluctantly went to a few houses, but kept asking if she could go back home to give out more candy.