Thursday, September 30, 2010

Test 2

This time I'm thinking I made them bigger, but not using the method I was told to use to make them bigger, and I have a feeling they are going to look funky and "stretched out." Let's see.


This is just a test to see if I can achieve huge pictures on my blog without needing my hand held every step of the way.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day at the park

Jacob and David went camping with Cub Scouts on Saturday:

So the girls and I were on our own. Things just weren't clicking at home on Saturday afternoon, and we needed a change of scenery. So we headed to a park down the street and ended up having the best time! It is completely flat, so it's a great place to ride bikes:

In fact we'll probably hit it again in a week or so to work on getting rid of those training wheels!

The park also has a creek, and the girls loved looking at the fish and throwing rocks into the water.

There are fun areas to explore, like this tree with exposed roots that's great for climbing.

And regular ol' playground equipment, always a hit with the kids.

The girls had a blast, and fell asleep quickly that night (which made mama happy). The only thing that could have made the day better would have been if it wasn't 90 degrees - but maybe next weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"No more crib for me!"

Caroline is spending her first night in a big girl bed. Well, half of a big girl bed -- the bed itself is not actually here yet. But in typically poor timing, the mattress and box spring arrived yesterday, a full week ahead of the bed, and had been propped up against Caroline's wall since yesterday. When I went to put her to bed (in her crib) last night, she started crying "no more crib for me! no more crib for me!" I decided to just bite the bullet and make the move tonight.

Amanda, I would have been perfectly happy with this picture and would never have noticed the limb chop before CM - they have ruined me forever!

The original decision to move Caroline to a bed now was just made a couple of weeks ago. David and I both kind of wanted to keep her in her crib as long possible (without actually crossing the weirdo line) and were in no hurry to move her. She has been our best sleeper from the beginning. Even back in the first few months of her life when she would scream her fool head off all day long, she would give us six solid hours at night. She was a 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. sleeper for a LONG time. We saw no good reason to mess with that if she was happy in the crib, especially since her big siblings have a way of wandering downstairs in the middle of the night and joining us in our queen sized bed. It gets awfully crowded in there, and I've spent many a night clutching the edge of the bed to avoid hitting the cold floor. We kind of figured that as soon as we moved Caroline to a bed, our next purchase would have to be a king sized bed so that we could more comfortably accommodate the whole darn family.

Anyway, then we went to the beach -- in JULY -- and Caroline has slept poorly ever since. (as an aside: THIS IS WHY WE STAY HOME!!!) She has trouble falling asleep at night and has been waking up once or twice at night for the past two months. Suddenly the "but she's such a great sleeper!" factor didn't seem so compelling. We decided to just get the transition over with while she was already sleeping like crap.

{wow, I apparently have a lot to say about Caroline moving to a big girl bed!}

The anticipation of the big girl bed has been really fun to watch. This is the first time we really got to watch one of our kids get excited about moving out of the crib. Jacob started jumping out of his crib at 17 months, slept next to his toddler bed (not in it) on a fold-out Elmo couch for about 6 months, and then finally moved into a big boy bed around age 2. He was way too young to appreciate the momentous occasion. Elizabeth got booted out of the crib when we moved into our new house (when she was 2.5) to make room for Caroline, who was coming the next month. Between the new house, new room, new baby sister, etc., Elizabeth's new bed was kind of anticlimactic.

One last play session in the crib:

But Caroline is plenty old enough to understand what this all means, and we have absolutely nothing else going on -- Jacob is researching dogs for us to buy in 2014, but other than that, Caroline moving to a big girl bed is pretty much the most exciting thing happening around here, and Jacob, Elizabeth and I are more than happy to hype it for all it's worth!

When I bought the mattress, I was looking for something good for a small child (i.e., cheap) but I wanted something that could hold up to the abuse that kids are capable of dishing out to beds. I asked the sales guy if, hypothetically, a child were to jump on the bed -- not that we expected that to happen, but if it did -- would the mattress be able to handle that kind of occasional, unexpected misuse? I was just wondering about mattress quality, that's all. The sales guy laughed and said that the mattress could handle it (not that he would ever encourage bed jumping, or be held liable for injuries to persons or property that might occur during the course of bed jumping).

Well, Caroline and her siblings immediately tested out the new bed, and it seems to be just right. As I write right now, I am positive that she has not yet figured out that she can get up and move freely about the house. I give that two days. For now, she is in her bed and happy to be there. The last vestige of the baby years will soon be hauled up to the attic. My baby is growing up!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our interpretation of a breakfast picnic

It started out as an ordinary "sunglasses and capri sun" break. Then the girls decided that they wanted a second breakfast, and, oh heck, it was Labor Day Weekend, so we decided to be crazy and have that second breakfast.

And with that, we said goodbye to summer.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Caroline's Mermaid Party

We finally celebrated Caroline's third birthday a couple of weeks late. This date worked better for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which was our travel schedule to attend another amazing birthday party, and as it turned out I am really glad we waited, because we had the most beautiful day for a party -- sunny, cool (for here!) and not a cloud in the sky. Add in a happy birthday girl, and it was a perfect day.

We decided to have a mermaid/"under the sea" theme for Caroline's birthday, because (1) Caroline likes mermaids; (2) it seemed like a good "summer birthday" theme. I then found this dress, and planned the party colors around it {mock away!}:

Yes, in the only solo portrait shot I got of the birthday girl all day, she is noshing on a tuna fish sandwich. All weekend long I kept thinking I'd take her outside to get a few more pictures in her dress (because who would ever know that they weren't taken on the day of her party?) but the dress now needs to be ironed, and if I wait to iron the dress before posting her party, I'll be posting her third and fourth birthdays back-to-back.

I was going for the "underwater" vibe. Here is the party room:

Oh etsy, how I love thee. I only have about two birthday banners in me per year; thanks for hooking me up with the third.

Sea creature pinatas. And in the background, you can kind of see the fish netting hanging on the windows. David and I stuck starfish and shells on and around the fish netting -- again, going for the nautical effect there. I had a vision; I'm not sure my vision was realized. But it was fun anyway!

Caroline's play tent served as the mermaid grotto. Don't judge. Her mermaid sock monkey sat on a chair inside the grotto:

And my sweet birthday girl joined her inside:

In the "ideas that actually worked" department, I made these fish in a bag soaps for party favors:

They looked pretty easy to make, and they actually were easy to make. Believe me, nobody was more shocked than I. Jacob helped me with them, and we knocked out a dozen or so in under an hour. These worked well for party favors because most of our guests are actually able to use soap without eating it, burning their eyes, etc. It would have been a poor favor choice if most of our guests were three year olds.

The menu included Octodogs, tuna fish sandwiches, sushi, goldfish pretzels, and fish bowl jello.

The fish bowl jello was kind of a dud. I got lazy, and rather than following Martha's recipe, I used boxes of blue jello instead:

This is what it was supposed to look like:

The dessert table:

The mermaid cake was one of the big reasons I decided to have a mermaid party for Caroline. My friend Betsey sent me the link to the Family Fun mermaid cake months ago, and I was instantly hooked (get it? hooked?) -- I thought it looked fun, kind of hilarious, and most importantly, doable. I kind of had a nervous breakdown mid-cake, as I am seriously challenged in the spatial relations department (I once got results back from high school standardized test that included desperate warnings that I never, ever consider architecture as a career) and I could not figure out how the shapes went together, even though there was a template to follow. Anyway, I eventually figured it out (although I didn't use one of the triangles, oops? See, if the cake were a building, it would have fallen down.) Caroline wanted a blueberry cake, so the head was Dorie Greenspan's french yogurt cake with whipped cream icing and blueberries in the center; the hair was Ina Garten's chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing, and the fin was the Smitten Kitchen best birthday cake with my go-to buttercream from the Repressed Pastry Chef. This made enough cake to feed the Russian army (er, navy?) and given that we had a tiny little party, I knew that most of it would end up going to waste. But as David pointed out several times, when you make a mermaid head out of an 8" pan, you're going to have a large cake.

I will never, ever, EVER pipe cookies again! I ordered these from Icing on the Cookie, and I could not have been more thrilled. These cookies were delicious and adorable, and most importantly, not decorated by me. I have tried to decorate cookies, I really have, but I can't get the texture of the icing right. It's either too thin for the piping or too thick for the flooding. It ends up being completely frustrating and not remotely fun. Icing on the Cookie, thanks for bringing the fun back to my party cookies!

My birthday girl getting ready to blow out her candles!

Careful, honey.

Fully focused on her cake and ice cream:

Party activities included sand art and good old fashioned running around. Aunt Kimberly, who is so patient and naturally gifted with littles, ran the sand art activity:


Caroline loved opening her presents. As you can see, she changed into one of them immediately upon opening it. Thanks, Aunt Missy!

My babies:

My birthday girl:

The morning after the party, the first thing Caroline said when she woke up was "Can we have my party again?" That's all I needed to hear! I love this little girl so much. She has such a great sense of humor and playfulness, and I wanted her party to be as fun as she is. Of course, with Caroline as the guest of honor, how could it not be? Happy 3d birthday, sweetie!