My Sister's Wedding Shower

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We had a simple & elegant outdoor wedding shower for my sister in early September; the future Mrs. Love.

Tab, Bride to Be Kayla, Mum, Tash
As I was headed out to pick up necessities of the day that morning, I got trapped for over 15 minutes in a complete downpour.  Like monsoon style.  Knowing that the wedding shower was outdoors with more people than we could have comfortably fit inside, it caused for a little worry that morning. 

Alas, due to a combination of good karma and lots of wishing- the sun came out and the bridesmaids, Mother of the bride, and Ninna (the ever present hero:) got to wiping down and fixing up so that everything was ready to roll just in time for the shower to get started.  Seriously, it was like a real life wedding shower miracle.

The shower was at my parents' house on the back deck and patio.  We set up their outdoor tent and also had round tables with umbrellas.  The centerpieces were simple vases&flowers (thanks Mum!) and we placed pitchers of water with frozen lemon ice cubes on each.  The food was set up on the patio under the pavilion.  We had croissant sandwiches, various salads (linguine salad, spinach&strawberry salad, potato salad, etc) and an assortment of sweets.  Simple and light fare for the day.

 Each bridesmaid had a 'shower job' at different parts of the day, which makes for a big difference when it comes to timing and organization.  At the start of the shower, three maids were directing people to park and taking gifts.  And two more bridesmaids held trays of small glasses of water for guests to pick up on their way to their seats.

Instead of traditional shower prizes, we had each bridesmaid create a 'lottery tree' and the mothers of the bride and groom created 'money trees' that would be given out to guests throughout the shower during the gift opening (at the ring of a timer, whomever's gift the bride was opening received a 'tree').  Each tree was created from the unique ideas of the bridesmaids and moms - so it turned out to be beautiful decor for the shower too!

Our littlest sister had created a set of photo frames called "Meet the Maids" which was also displayed for guests to read a little bit about each of the bridesmaids and a small description of how they know the bride.  It turned out beautifully (thanks Tash!) and was such a sweet and personal touch to the day.

As people arrived, we mingled and caught up with relatives and friends.  Gemmi and Grey played and ran around the yard giggling.  I snapped one hundred and fifty pictures...
the bride and the Moms :)

little flower girl
 After lunch, we got to opening gifts.  There was a beautiful moment while my sister was opening gifts when a huge butterfly kept swooping and flying around her head.  As both our grandmas have passed, my sisters, Mom and I were smiling at the thought that maybe it was the Grams making their presence known on such a special day.

 Gift opening was another important 'shower job' time for the bridesmaids.  I was acting as photographer, Tasha was keeping the detailed gift log, and Kayla's best friends were in charge of keeping the gifts a'moving.  We had a gift giver, gift taker, waste management (hah), and opened-gift-organizer.  It went off like a well-oiled machine and there wasn't any waiting or downtime (thanks girls!).

Speaking of grandmas, our paternal grandma was an amazing cook and baker.  Never as a profession but she was well known for her goodies and treats.  I asked for all of her recipes after she passed and created recipe books for all of the cousins and aunts for one of the first Christmases following her death.  But I heard about this amazing company CustomSepia and knew I wanted to do something special for Kayla's Shower.

I contacted CustomSepia earlier in the summer and with only a scan&upload of one of my Gram's original recipe cards, and a few weeks - I had a beautiful custom platter of our Grandma's handwriting ready for Kayla.  Her reaction was so touching and beautiful.  My sister is the prettiest, most graceful crier ever.

After the gifts, Kayla gave a sweet speech of gratitude and we finished up eating, drinking, and mingling right into a light sprinkling of rain (that held off until the very end).  We made sure to grab several important pics of the Bride-to-Be with different groups of family members, including one with just her and her flower girl.  (hehhe, tiny Gemmi!)

And then the Groom-to-Be arrived to deliver a bouquet of flowers and a couple of smooching photo ops to his Bride.  Ryan spent the day golfing with a bunch of the guys connected to the shower attendants (Brandon, our Dad, various other boyfriends and male relatives).  And they were happy to discover that my Mom had set up a feast in the garage for the boys where they all headed before helping to load up cars with beautiful wedding gifts. 

It was a perfect afternoon- even with a monsoon of a rainstorm right before!  What a wonderful start to the wedding festivities for my little sis.  Can.not.wait. for more to come in the upcoming months.  eeek! #Lovepartyoftwo 

the brilliant, albeit exhausting, small beings that live in my house

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I've said it before and I'll say it again, these children are growing too fast.  Sometimes it feels like hours are so unbearably long that I'll never make it with a shred of sanity until bedtime.  And by 'sometimes it feels like' I mean everyday around 5pm it feels like that.

And then all of sudden, out of the blue it's nearly another Thanksgiving and my three year old is correcting me constantly "I'm three AND A HALF, Mum!" and the baby is 21 months and I'm silently wiping tears away as I pack up more baby clothes that she doesn't fit in.


These moments of panic are usually triggered by the children using a new phrase suddenly, like Gemma speaking in full on understandable sentences this week - "Hold you, Mumma!"  and "What are you doing Bully?"  It's like it was bumbled words before and now we all understand what she's saying.  insanity.

And me trying to trick a sick Greyson into thinking The Croods movie was on tv instead of officially telling him we will own it for Christmas, and doesn't he notice me for one second turning off the DVD player as slyly as I possibly could when it ended.  Two minutes later he walks into the kitchen holding the disc announcing, "Mum, this is why The Croods was on!"  I can't slide anything past this kid anymore!?

And then they also got their pictures taken this week which always brings a massive wave of heartache when I switch out their old photo frames to new ones.  I stand over the long line of pictures comparing each minuscule facial feature change between the different photographs.  And, ouch, it's terribly painful to see the incremental growth you watch every day stark and all lined up in a row like that.

 I'm, by nature, a very nostalgic person and can nearly start feeling wistful about things before they've even completely passed yet.  With Thanksgiving around the corner, I am already feeling a little sad that it will be over in a week and the fast-paced, tradition-filled weeks of Christmas will be upon us - before also very quickly passing.

Because of this reflective bit in my heart, in the present I contemplate my future nostalgia as a reminder to slow down and try to remember that someday these will be 'the good 'ole days.'  Like how long will it be before I miss waking up to a child's size 9 foot in my throat?  How long will it be before I think back with a longing heart to the days when our daily family dinner consisted of the kids getting approximately three full bites in their mouths while the rest of the food splattered on the table, chairs, curtains, and floor?

Along with the passing of these difficult times too, I know also comes the passing of Gemmi's scrunched up nose smile when she thinks I'm in on her little joke.  And the passing of finding 34 dinosaurs and plastic cars underneath our living room ottoman daily.  These are certainly some hard times, but undeniably some wonderful ones too.

Someone recently told me, "Little kids; little problems.  Bigger kids; bigger problems."  It was on a day that I needed a reminder that even though I can't speak on the phone without a little hand grabbing it away from me ("I talk!") and our house only ever looks clean within the ten minutes of actually cleaning - we still do only have little problems.  Spilled bowls of chips crunched into a million pieces, bumps and bruises that are cured with ice and bandaids, someone having trouble with sharing...these are problems that someday I will look back on and wish for when I'm contending with hearts broken into a million pieces, and broken bones, and reminding teenagers to be wise with what and with whom they share.

In any case, tis the season for thanksgiving and I am so grateful that I have these two brilliantly amazing, however exhausting, little beings that call me Mum.  Sometimes it is just unfathomable to me that these little humans belong to me and I to them.

So don't mind me over here, simultaneously trying to speed up and slow down time, because the baby is waking up from her nap and Grey just dumped half a cup of milk on the carpet - xxxoxo

Word of Mom Guest Post - 8 ways to teach kindness to toddlers

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hi friends!!

Exciting news - I'm guest posting over at What to Expect Word of Mom Blog today with a post on 8 simple ways to teach kindness to toddlers and preschoolers.  I feel honored to have been asked to contribute to their Word of Mom Blog and especially to get a chance to write about something I care so much about:  kindness!

Thanks for jumping over to WTE Word of Mom to read my guest post and I'll be back tomorrow with a regularly scheduled post here :)


the worst news my three year old son ever heard (yet)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The other morning, I stepped into a conversation that for my son may have been the worst news he has ever heard (at least yet in his life).

Grey:  maybe when I'm big, I can make you dinner with mashed potatoes, sausage, and eggies
Me:  Okay, me and Daddy can come to your house and eat it
Grey:  what house?
Me:  when you grow up and get big you'll get your own house to live in
Grey:  are you just kidding?
Me:  hahha, no.
Grey:  will Gemmi come with me?
Me:  ummm..if you want, she can.
Grey:  No, you're kidding.
Me:  hahha, it's not for a very long time, honey.
Grey:  I don't want another house.  I love our house and our family!
Me:  we love you, baby!  it's okay Grey, you'll see, someday when you're big you'll want your own house, and you can make spaghetti every night for dinner if you want and never make your bed!
Grey:  No, Mum.  Please stop talking about this.

Dear Grey,
Don't think I'm not going to remind you of this when you're 17.
Because I definitely am.
I love you forever,
even when you get big and get your own house,

the two sleeps

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I want to take a moment to apologize to anyone who has seen me in the last few days, because I honestly cannot stop discussing the two sleeps.  It's a phenomenon that has now taken over my mind and I keep trying to bring it up in random conversations.  So if you've already heard me talking about it, please feel free to move right along.  I've become a woman obsessed - HAH.

So, the two sleeps.
A few weeks ago, I read this article (but there are lots of other articles that mention it too) and I was intrigued.  At the time of reading, we hadn't quite made it to Daylight Savings Time (DST) yet, but I was still interested in at least considering the Two Sleeps - ya know, just for a go at it.

Cut to actual DST and our family quickly fell into the category of people highly negatively effected by the lack of daylight in the late afternoon.  (Momentary shout-out to my sweet friend Shelly in Alaska who has so much less daylight then me every single day.  You are a real life hero of mine.  I'm not exaggerating).  We are really good at some things as a family- lack of sunlight during the day is not one of them.  We are the kind of a family that announces every single afternoon, 'Can you believe it's dark already?' like we have never lived with DST before.  Surprisingly, just a day into DST, the kids got readjusted to the time change; alas, we - the parents - did not.

In the days following DST, I was putting Gemma to bed and either passing out asleep on her floor or barely making it to the couch downstairs before falling into a deep slumber...AT 9pm.  Brandon was operating similarly and we'd both wake up in a disgruntled state mid-night and berate ourselves for our lack of productivity.  At the time of sundown, which is now around 6pm, we as a family can successfully accomplish these things:  making and eating dinner, dressing children for bed, putting children to bed.  That's it.  It's like the sun goes down and our battery life depletes at an alarming rate.

After a few frustrating nights, I randomly recalled the two sleeps article and had an epiphany.  My body was already sort of trying to attempt the two sleeps, as I was regularly waking up mid-sleep to go upstairs - I just needed to flow with it.  I determined that instead of fighting my inescapable exhaustion in the earlier part of the night, I would instead embrace it and institute the two sleep method in my life.  And I have been feeling better, more productive, and rested than before when I was trying to fight my sleepiness.

Since our acceptance of the two sleep, I've been regularly falling asleep (or more accurately passing out) around 9-9:30p and then naturally waking up again between 12:30-1am.  During this mid-sleep break, we've stayed awake from anywhere between a forty-five minutes to two hours, before getting into bed and sleeping again.  So far, I've been averaging about 6-7 hours of sleep and waking up refreshed with (what feels like at least) less resistance about getting out of bed.  weird, right?

Between the two sleeps recently I've done any or many of the following:  folded a load or two of laundry, put clean sheets on our bed, wiped down the kitchen, swept the floor, and planned out my week in my planner (jotting down notes and tasks to remember).  Brandon has tended to our wood-burning stove in the basement, taken out the garbage, and organized his own work stuff.  Last night, we looked over and discussed our monthly budget at 2am with sound mind and insightful planning - and more importantly a quiet house (while both kids slept peacefully upstairs).  We're like strange night-time elves!  And we have yet to turn to our electronics during the mid-sleep hours - also a strange feat in today's world.  Not by any declaration, but somehow our mid-sleep time feels too sacred to flip on the tv or open the laptop.  It's like a few magical unplugged hours.

Surprisingly, we haven't had any trouble falling back to sleep for the second sleep.  We just go about our normal bedtime routine (brush teeth, wash face, read) and easily go back to slumber until the morning.  What is wild to me is that I'm not getting more or less sleep than before, but that I feel more rested and productive on the two sleep than the stay-up-as-late-as-I-can-try-and-then-try-to-sleep-all-at-once method.

It's crazy, this two sleep thing -but it seems to be making a difference in my DST-adjustment life.  I was not only feeling really tired but also frustrated with myself - for being tired and for not being able to stay up after we put the kids to sleep.  As with all moments of acceptance, just allowing myself to fall asleep early in the night and having this time of quiet and productivity in the middle of the night that feels natural (and is?) has been a huge, welcome relief during this cold, dark winter nights.

Anyone else finding themselves naturally in a two sleep?  Or interested in trying it out?  I'd love to hear if it's as effective for you?  Are we really just strange night-time elves?  (hahha)

Our Spooky Halloween party for Preschoolers

Thursday, November 7, 2013

We had our second annual Spooky Halloween party last week for our kids and a few of their friends.  Our kids love Halloween and all the 'spoooooooky' talk, but it always doesn't take much to go from spooky to scary for their ages either.  So we try to make our Halloween party fun, age appropriate, and not crossing into 'scary' territory.  

About two weeks before we had our party, I sent a Red Stamp text invite to the guests' parents.  Our party guests ranged from ages 1.5 to 4 years old and each child had at least one parent attend as well.

After pizza and snacks, we made our way to our first game of Pin the Nose on the Jack 'O Lantern. Earlier that afternoon, while I cut out the pumpkin face, eyes, and mouth; Grey was in charge of cutting out the noses, so he was proud to have helped get the game ready.  The kids were blindfolded with a handkerchief and spun around three times before trying to pin the nose.  This game was a huge hit and we played it several times in a row.  Even our < age 2 guests (Gem & Lila) enjoyed playing this game!

Our next game is a pinterest-halloween favorite, The Dangling Donut Game:  so we'd thought we'd give it a try.  With a menu of pizza, snacks, cookies, and loads of candy - the last thing I wanted to do was give the kids full size donuts to eat.  So we tied mini donuts to strings to have the kids try to eat through them on a string.  This game was a lot harder for them than we thought it would be and for a long while all the grown ups were cracking up while the kids just bopped the donuts off their faces over and over.  We might try this again when the kids are a little older (5+) but for now, it seemed a little tricky and an unnecessary addition to their already major sugar consumption for the evening.

Then it was time for our 'Witch's' Broomstick Limbo game.  We had the kids sneak under the broomstick for a little while and then moved to the much preferred preschool version - Reverse Limbo by having them jump over the broomstick instead.

Standard Limbo

Reverse Limbo (preschooler preferred)

Then it was on to cookie decorating in at the dining room table.  The kids and I had made a batch of sugar cookie dough the day before and made Halloween shape cut-outs to have them ready for the party.  I also used my Grandma's famous boiled icing recipe.  Each kid got five sugar cookies to decorate as they liked - which ranged from no decor (and just straight into their bellies, hah!) to a ton of icing and even more sprinkles.

We made our way back into the living room to jam to a Pandora Halloween station, turn off all the lights (except we kept the hall light on, keeping it just spooky!), and handed out glostick bracelets.  The kids ran and danced all around making spooky noises and screams.  A Spooky Glo-stick Dance Party = wild child mayhem fun!

Our last event of the night came straight out of our last year's Halloween party playbook.  We filled a styrofoam cooler up with water in the kitchen and lay a moving blanket underneath it.  First the parents get a crack at Bobbing for Apples and have you done this recently?  It is always significantly more difficult than I remember in my teenage years.  Serious water up my nose this  year.

The kids think its funny (and sort of cool still, yay!) to watch us grown-ups bob for apples.  Grey and Sophia tried to do the same and Grey actually grabbed an apple by it's stem with his teeth!  Soph went for the more traditional preschooler move of the secret hand-grab (hehheh).

But the real main event (as was last year) is the Apple Splashing game.  The kids maniacally grab apples from the water and slam them back in with huge splashes.  This is hilarious, long-lasting fun for preschoolers and toddlers.  If it was warmer, we would ideally play this game outside (as it make quite a water mess in the kitchen), but with our tile floor, clean up is fairly easy to just take towels or a mop to the floor.  This game also makes for a good final game, as children remove their costumes (happily as they are now wet) and put on their jammies for the car ride home (and hopefully to fall asleep before getting there)

The two main points to keep in mind for a successful Halloween party with very young children are:

1. Keep it short:  our party was only scheduled for an hour and half.  So we had to keep the party moving along.
2. Be flexible:  with varying abilities for this age group of kids, don't expect that every kid will be able to -or more importantly want to - participate in every (or any) activity.  And that's totally fine.  As long as kids are being safe - who cares if you have to skip a game or too and play something else again and again.

We had a great Spooky Preschool Halloween party again this year.  Thank you to my family that helped set up and to all of our spooky, funny little guests and their parents!