I think there is a wide misconception that being a mom of 3 children makes me (or any parent) an expert at parenting. Let me just shut that down right now. What being a mom of 3 actually means is that I know as much or as little as every other parent but that I am reminded of that 3 times more than a parent of 1 child. Being a mom of 3 means I learn things 3 times, I try 3 different ways of doing things (and, actually, this should be 3 x infinity), I fail 3 times (on average), and I have 3 very different little humans that stare up at me for answers – with most questions that need to be answered in 3 different ways in order to satisfy their different personalities.
Expert, I am not. Experienced, sure.
You know that moment when your baby turns 1 and you instantly have anxiety and think she’s going to be headed to college like tomorrow? Yeah. It’s a parent-thing. I swear that her first birthday sent me into complete hysterics. Not because I am super emotional or sentimental but because it hit me that this was the last time I’d be celebrating a FIRST birthday. My last baby was turning 1. I’d never experience this momentous occasion again. Sure, I have 3 kids who will all celebrate many special birthdays ahead, but this special moment also marked my last baby no longer being a baby… Excuse me while I go grab a tissue, I think there’s something in my eye…
At Hudson’s 2-year check up (though, if I am being honest, it was technically his 2 year and 4 month check up…oops) I expressed concern to his pediatrician about 2 issues; 1) his low weight/slow weight gain and 2) his frequent – if not constantly bad poops. In turn, the doctor also expressed concern regarding Hudson’s low weight gain and slow growth. He reviewed his records and discovered that he had basically fallen off the charts and he hadn’t gained more than 3 or so pounds since he was 9 months old. His height was also a very low growth compared to where he was forecast to be based on his growth chart and numbers since birth.
Hudson Maverick – the Birthday Boy!
Did you really think that I’d be able to go too long without posting a birthday party? I mean, clearly, it’s all that I do in my downtime – as if planning events for a living isn’t enough, I do it when I’m not working, also. I realize this might not be normal. But what can I say? I love parties. I love themed parties. I love planning for parties. And decorating for parties. And I especially love people enjoying those parties. So as long as everyone around me keeps wanting parties, parties I will have!
I try to keep my posts light and non-controversial in order to maintain a wide range of readers. I think I usually do a good job with it, too. So let me (not) apologize in advance for this post perhaps being a little controversial, but definitely very personal and real.
Mommy-Guilt. It’s real. And it sucks. As a parent all we want to do is provide the best for our children. We want them to get the best start in life. We want them to be the healthiest they can be. We want them to grow and thrive and surpass all growth expectations and be at the top of the charts. And for a lot of us, we want to be the ones that provide that for them. We want to be the reason they’re gaining weight and growing on-track. We want to provide them with all of their food & nutrients that their tiny little bodies need. And when we cannot do that? Yeah, that’s when the mommy-guilt kicks in. And man does it. Like a million kicks right to the stomach. For any mom who has even remotely felt that guilt, you get it. For the mommies who have been so fortunate to not feel it, count your blessings.
It’s a good thing that birthday celebrations are just once a year because I am always left completely exhausted by them! Given, that’s likely because I do way too much for them… but oh well! I love throwing their parties. I have had so much picking the themes and making decorations, favors, food, etc for all of them so far and since I know I only have a couple of years left before they start telling me what they want for their parties I am totally going all out when I can. Plus, I am an Event Planner by day. I mean, what do you expect?
Poppy the Birthday Girl!Living in California, the Bay Area to be more specific, the weather tends to be nice however sometimes unpredictable in the early Spring. This year was no exception. We had been having fine weather - overcast maybe a bit chilly, but minimal rain. I planned for Poppy's 3rd birthday party to be outside in our backyard because the entire week before the weather forecast promised a 25% chance of rain. Well. 25% was all we needed, apparently! I had set up the whole party; everything was good to go outside, than the rain started. At first it was drizzling. Than it was a downpour. Clearly this rain put a huge damper on all of the cute activities I had planned for outside. Not to mention, I didn't get a ton of pictures of the decor/activities or even of the birthday girl because she was running around in our super-packed little house! Stupid, Stupid rain! On a more positive note, the kids still had fun running around and playing in the house and thank goodness for the big playroom upstairs so that the 30 kids (and adults) could be some-what dispersed throughout the house. As I have said for every other birthday party I have blogged about, I like to keep the themes gender-neutral while I can. Pretty soon the kids will be (likely) asking for specific birthday party themes so while I get to choose, it will be a theme that works for both their boy and their girl friends. For Poppy's 3rd Birthday party we went with a "Cowboy & Cowgirl" theme because Poppy just loved seeing Jessie the Cowgirl at Disneyland! Here are some of the shots I was able to get of the party & the details about them... One of the outside activities was "Horse Wranglin" where I had a wooden rocking horse and a stack of hula-hoops and the kids could try to get the hula-hoop around the horse. A few kids were able to play when the weather cleared up for a little bit, thankfully! I hand-painted Jessie & Woody cut-outs from 4' tall standing cardboard as a photo-op for the kids... here is the Birthday Girl posing as Jessie! I didn't get any shots of Woody, sadly :-( But I still have both of them - in case anyone wants them ;-) I love getting the kids into the party theme so I had a galvanized bucket with handkerchiefs, cowboy hats, and Sheriff badges for the kids to grab and dress up with! For the inside decor, we kept with the blue (denim), red, yellow, and cow print themed decor. I know I sound like a broken record, but I do a lot of Amazon & Oriental Trading shopping for parties. Their prices are truly unbeatable. Between the two places I found almost all of the decor. Some of it I got from the Dollar Tree (who doesn't love it there?!) And some I made or had custom-made on Etsy. For my entry table - which is seen straight ahead when walking in the front door - I made a fabric-scrap banner with the theme colors/patterns and hung it from the front. A plastic cow print table cover lined the top of it, and then I scattered small bales of hay & small galvanized buckets to help create the high-low affect and be utilized for various stuff. One of the buckets was filled with small plush horses as a favor for the little babies/young kids who came while the other bucket was filled with small drawstring linen bags that had either Jessie or Woody on the front and I filled them with a "S'mores trail mix" which consisted of Honey Graham cereal, mini marshmallows, and mini milk chocolate chips all mixed together. Delicious! I called it "Pony Food". The balloons are all from Amazon. This balloon was so darn cute and both the kids loved it so we kept it up for at least 2 months afterwards! The Jessie, Woody, and Bullseye signs were custom-made by a seller on Etsy. I had small glass milk jugs (the Starbucks coffee ones that you can buy at any grocery store) with random mixes of garden flowers. The Happy Birthday banner was made out of card-stock paper from Michael's in the party theme colors/patterns and made on the Cricut by my sister. So, this is a bad picture. Sorry. But even if it were a good picture, it didn't turn out very well. I saw it on Pinterest and tried to recreate it and this, my friends, is one of those Pinterest Fails. It is supposed to look like Jessie's hair, and hat... Well, I totally admit, it didn't turn out anything like the one I saw. Oh well! On the other hand, this super cute wreath turned out adorable! I bought a straw wreath from Michael's and then proceeded to give my mom the task of making it a cute themed wreath. She used the left-over fabric from the fabric-scrap banner I made and just wrapped it around the wreath and then added some wide burlap ribbon that she tied into a bow with a Jessie and Bullseye doll tied onto it. What is really cool about it is that I was able to undo it all very easily and can use the plain wreath again for something else! FOOD!!! Keeping in the Western theme, we made life easy and got fried chicken & BBQ chicken, along with cole slaw and french fries. I also had a fruit salad and my favorite super delicious Corn, Avocado & Jalapeno salad which was mostly for adults due to the heat-level! Oh, and a side-note - there is Woody in the background! As you can see, they were brought inside due to the damn rain! We set up tables outside with milk crate for the kids to sit on which was the perfect height. Now, the favors! Yet another one of my "WHY OH WHY DID I DECIDE TO DO THIS??" Favors. I decided to make the sock ponies for all of the kids. Never. Again. Ha! IT was super cheap to make but, again, time-consuming. They turned out cute and were a huge hit - I tell myself that is all that matters in the end. And last but certainly not least in importance - the desserts. Probably Poppy's favorite part - but then again, she is 3 and what 3-year-old doesn't love dessert? Poppy's favorite were the Cowgirl cookies. She doesn't eat cake or cupcakes (just the frosting) so the cookies were a huge hit. She may have eaten two of them. In 5 minutes. But who's counting, right!? My favorite were the pie pops. I will not disclose how many of those I ate... Everything turned out SO cute! The pie pops were in 3 fruit flavors, we also had cake pops in a few flavors that were decorated to match the theme, Cowgirl cookies, red licorice, kettle corn in the brown paper bags (as shown in bottom left of the photo), and Poppy's super adorable Jessie cake! Here are some miscellaneous shots from the day including Hudson wearing his Woody outfit - SO cute!
Poppy & her favorite Tia Patrice!
Hudson loved the pie pops and used his beautiful blue eyes to get the ladies to share with him!
Poppy enjoying handfuls of popcorn... not gracefully!
My sassy Woody!
Baby Woody & I
Poppy & I!
Happy VERY-Belated Birthday, Poppy Ireland!!!!!
It's still hard for me to believe Poppy turned 2. What's even harder to believe is that her birthday was already 6+ months ago. So not only is she even older, but my word, am I behind on getting this post up. I've just been so busy with the kids and trying to get my house finished up and many other things, like the hubby's 30th birthday party, planning Hudson's 1st Birthday, going back to work - and the list of things that consume most of my productive free-time goes on and on. But regardless of when Poppy's 2nd birthday party was, it was awesome! I chose a construction theme because our house was finishing up being remodeled but not complete yet so I thought it would be a cute play on the current state of affairs for our home, but also because my dad is a contractor and he and his crew did our remodel and Poppy LOVED all of the tools and helping my dad. It was really cute, actually, how she always wanted to help use the hammer or screw driver or anything that he would let her have. She was the 4th crew member he never hired. And while I can still pick the theme of their parties, I prefer going with gender-neutral parties because they have both boy & girl friends and because I am just not one to push the typical gender-based things on kids (re: Barbie, pink, princesses, sports, blue, etc.). For this party a lot of the decorations were fairly cheap because I was able to get it for free from Home Depot, already had things in my toolbox (or my dads work-shed!), or I was able to return to Home Depot afterwards. Maybe that sounds bad, but, my dad is well-known at our local store so they didn't mind! I made all of the signs on my cricut, cut them from black card-stock and then glued them onto shimmery yellow card-stock. The signs were for decoration but also for labeling/signage for the food. I tried to get creative in the wording describing food and making it construction-related. Things like "drill bits" for macaroni & cheese, "mixed cement" for the potato salad (which did NOT taste like mixed cement!), "nuts & bolts" for the fruit salad, and desserts were "Sledgehammers" (marshmallows on a pretzel stick), and "Wrecking Balls" which were the chocolate cake-pops. I also did "Cone Zone" which were cupcakes baked into ice cream cones, dipped in orange candy-coating, than stuck to an orange-candy-coated graham cracker to look like construction cones! "Tools" labeled the individual sets of utensils, too.
I hung up a bunch of other signs that I made through out the house/yard and I also used real signs that I was able to borrow from the City of Moraga thanks to some connections!
I used our kitchen table for the desserts. I used things around the house for props/decorations like a canvas tool bag, a saw storage box, and paint trays. My dad loaned me old blue-prints which I used on top of the table over a black plastic table-cloth. I stocked up on paint chip cards from Home Depot and threw them around the table for color & decor, too. Some of the desserts included "paint brushes" by dipping rice krispies in different colored candy-melts and putting a stick in them and displaying them in a paint tray. The "sledgehammers" were marshmallows dipped in chocolate with a pretzel stick, piled into the back of a plastic dump truck. The "wrecking ball" cakepops were poked into Styrofoam and displayed in the back of a dump truck, too. The "construction cones" cupcakes were strewn around the table for effect. I used the canvas tool bag for the construction themed cookies & had real tools in the pockets for effect. I did a candy buffet, also, and hung a sign that said "Fill Your Bucket". I displayed the big clear plastic paint buckets from Michael's & Jo-Anns with the candy in them. I made paint brushes on my Cricut and made each paint bucket a certain color (red, purple, yellow, pink, orange, green, and blue). I filled the buckets with the matching color shred & then filled it with the candy. I stacked them on the Diwalt saw case for height and accessibility. The buckets the kids (and adults!) filled were small clear paint buckets which I stacked up on our big ladder and stuck it in the corner.For the seating for lunch I used big (full) paint buckets on the ground with banquet tables (folded) resting on top of them. This was great because they were low for the kids and the perfect height for the Home Depot orange buckets that I used for seats for each of the kids. I covered the tables with black plastic table cloths and threw some paint chips on them for color. Each child had a place setting and a construction cone cup.
To continue the theme I got Home Depot canvas aprons & Home Depot pins for each child and set them on a table along with a plastic yellow hard-hat for them. To display them I used 2 of my dads saw-horses and put a large piece of plywood on top. I set out the uniforms and then scattered various tools among it - without the batteries in the power-operated tools! *Safety First*
Here are some additional shots of the DIY details:
As much fun as I had planning for her party and playing along with the theme, I wanted this party to be fun for the kids but also benefit needy children, also. So, for Poppy's 2nd Birthday there was not a thing that she needed and there was nothing that I wanted her to receive, either. So I decided that in-lieu of gifts, we would request that each guest bring a donation for the Project Night Night Foundation. I am a huge advocate of reading and Poppy just loves her books, blankets, and favorite piggy so this organization was the perfect fit. They provide a book, blanket, and lovie per child for children who are homeless. I requested that each guest brought one or all of the 3 items. We have amazing friends because they all brought donations and most brought multiple donations. The following Monday I proudly took all of the donations to the local drop-off location in San Francisco. I loved this idea and I will definitely do it for future parties, also. I want my children to enjoy celebrating their birthdays with friends and do it to have fun and not for the presents that they might receive. My children are very fortunate that they have all they could need/want right now and they don't need any more 'stuff'. As they get older I will include them in the charity-picking for their parties, but, for the next few ones I will continue to donate to Project Night Night!
All in all, the party was a great success. Poppy had a blast, her little friends had fun, and even the adults had a good time! & most importantly, over 30 homeless children received blankets, books, and stuffed animals thanks to our very generous and loving friends and family!
Thanks for checking out her party!