Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Calendars

So, thanks for being patient with a sell-out, guys. I totally got $60+ worth of holiday cards for the price of only $8 shipping. Sweet!

As thanks, and because I'm a little bit sorry for inspired by Scarlet and her Advent-y ignorance interest (it's such a good thing she has such a sense of humor), I thought I'd do an Advent post. Because, seriously, I apparently have to tell you guys EVERYthing (it's such a good thing BOTH of you have such a sense of humor).

These are ALL OVER the blogosphere right now. Homemade Advent calendars, a shift away from edible Advent calendars to calendars with activities (ideally, cheap or even free activities, probably even things your family planned to do anyway...shhhh! The little ones don't know THAT!). Growing up, I always had, and loved, the paperboard ones with the little shaped chocolates inside? Like this:

The last few years, I've done one with miniature ornaments for a little tabletop tree, but that really wasn't ALL that satisfying, given that I'm the adult with the BIG tree anyway. I didn't need an extra thing to decorate, and the Liliputian was too young to understand, care, or not swallow small objects.

THIS year, people, THIS year we are ALL ABOUT the Advent-y activities! (As a side note, I started this post first thing this morning after a conversation with Scarlet in which she asked me to share my Advent list with her/you. That was BEFORE the Nyquil that The Husband made me take this morning kicked in. I then passed out for...oh, a good eight hours, save a few 10-minute emergences for food and water. I'm so screwed tonight. But since waking up again at 4:00, I've discovered that Toddler Tamer and Ouiser have also made similar posts, so totally disregard all the smart-assery at the beginning of this post about being the only one who was apparently up on the Advent trends. Apparently, it's just Scarlet. I'm gonna get coal in my stocking. So, I'm not going to bother linking to lots of strangers lists or calendars.)

Here's our list! You'll notice some days are double-booked. That's kind of a back-up system since many of these activities are being tried with her for the first time and I sometimes felt I needed a spare idea in case of disaster. I mean, she's barely three with the attention span of a gnat. It's not like she remembers anything I tell her anyway. If all else fails, we'll bake cookies every single day for the neighbors.

  1. bring out Christmas books/DVDs
  2. holiday coloring pages
  3. make popcorn wreath AND Christmas in Downtown Dickson
  4. hang stockings AND Christmas books from library
  5. make gingerbread man wreath
  6. make jingle bell ponytail holders
  7. make wrapping paper and wrap gifts
  8. purchase present for charity/ship/donate
  9. make dot garlands
  10. get picture taken with Santa AND make candy cane reindeer
  11. buy Christmas tree AND make twig & button snowflakes
  12. decorate Christmas tree AND paint toenails Christmas colors
  13. finish decorating house
  14. write/send holiday cards
  15. write letter to Santa/phone call?/video?
  16. snowflake quesadillas
  17. make pipe cleaner reindeer, Santas, and snowmen
  18. make gingerbread house
  19. make egg carton doorbells
  20. make cookie puzzle
  21. call relatives to sing
  22. look at Christmas lights
  23. holiday DVD with popcorn and cousins
  24. bake cookies for Santa
I'd love to see more of these from people I actually know! Anyone else have an Advent list to share?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Cards

We've used Shutterfly for our holiday cards for several years now and always loved their designs. They offer everything from hip and modern to classic and traditional from some great designers. My parents and grandmother always love the calendars and photo books we create as gifts as well. We've made our own photo books for ourselves, too, always around the holidays, when they offer especially great deals.

Here are some of my favorite holiday card designs this year from which we'll likely be choosing (I tend to lean toward the modern, graphic designs):

Shutterfly has a great holiday card promotion going on right now: share your great experiences with Shutterfly products on your blog, and receive a promo code for complimentary holiday cards!

Huh. Apparently I favor the designs advertised with black and white photos, too!

I really do love this site, guys. I'm not JUST blowing smoke. This promotion...yeah. But I have had really great experiences with this companies products for a number of years. Last year I tried Kodak again because of a promotion they were having, and found their products inferior to Shutterfly's.

Happy Holidays, Happy Cyber Monday, and Happy shopping, peeps!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I think it's safe to assume we've officially achieved fame around here. I'll be hiring a press agent and personal assistant. Maybe a trainer and a chef, too. Ooooh...private jet! Oh, wait...no money...

Check us out on The Berry.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rainbows 'R' Us

Some shots of the birthday girl from the birthday party:

And enjoying a few of her rainbow-y birthday gifts (she would NOT take that t-shirt off):

Okay, she MAY have had a little engineering help from a particularly gifted mother...

...who MAY have inadvertently brought her to tears by intimidating her with mad house-building skillz. The kid's gotta toughen up! :D

By the way, no one told me that turning 3 actually meant she was turning 13. Or maybe the Montessori school is to blame, with all her sophisticated, worldly 6-year-old classmates rubbing off on her. Whatever the reason, this child has suddenly developed Attitude. Seriously. Everything we ask her to do (or not do) is met with "Okaaaa-aaay!" in a tone that I'm not sure I can spell out, but the sound of which I'm quite sure my mother remembers. She told the Husband recently that she wasn't speaking to him. She told me to "chill out" two nights ago (I wasn't even talking at the time, and she immediately followed this with an invitation for me to share her dinner, so I don't think she even knew what it meant). She told me to "stop it" when I told her to stop yelling across the house to her father and to walk closer to him so he could hear her. And, for those of you who missed it on Facebook, the Husband was singing a silly song to her the other day. She said, "Daddy, we're not playing that game." "What game are we playing?" he asked. "We're playing the Hush game."

Oh, and today she told him I don't drive very well because I can't find places. Ingrate.

But you know what else she did today? When I came home from dance class, I could see her jumping up and down on the other side of the door as I walked across the porch. I opened the door and she went running to the top of the basement stairs to yell to her daddy that "Mommy's home! Mommy's home!" Then she came running back to me, full-tilt, jumped in my arms and hugged me hard, squealing, "I love you! I love you! I love you! Huggies, Mommy!" THAT'S my girl!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Party of the Year

For us, at least, this was the party of the year. I suppose Christmas this year, which will be a party of 13 here, may be bigger, but this was the biggest party we'd hosted since this time LAST year, which really paled in comparison by scale. This was a TON of work and a TON of fun and I really enjoyed putting it all together and then seeing the fruits of my labor.

We held the party at a local dance studio...not the studio at which she takes her ballet classes...this is the much more affordable alternative that we WOULD have chosen, if their 2-year-old class schedule had meshed with our schedule at all. As it is, she's apparently at one of the most prestigious dance schools in Nashville, which is, you know, CRUCIAL at three years old!!!

So, it was an hour of dance and tumbling led by an instructor, followed by an hour of food and cake and running around screaming in typical three-year-old anarchist fashion. It was great.

So, the flowers on the window are just part of the studio decor, though it kind of played in nicely to our rainbow theme. I had originally planned to do something like Tomkat Studio did with the rainbow tissue pom poms, but when it didn't work IMMEDIATELY, I just didn't have the patience to mess with it and was quite happy with the rainbow chandelier, as Ouiser dubbed it.

So, the Husband hung the rainbow umbrella a LITTLE higher over the table than I meant him to, but that's okay. I know at least one person other than me noticed it.

Here's the thing with the crayons. It started out as a perfect favor idea because we had all these leftover broken crayons and, hey! Great way to use them up! And free favors! Then there were suddenly 20 kids coming to this party and we didn't have anywhere NEAR that many crayons. So we busted our bottoms making enough of these things, a process which involved all three of us peeling the labels off BRAND NEW CRAYONS and breaking the into bits to melt, which kind of defeated the whole utilitarian purpose of the thing, but whatever.

I remember doing this with my mom when I was little, but I think we spread lots of colors onto a cookie sheet and melted them into a big flat block, then cut them up. I loved that. The inspiration for the way we did it was found at Preschooll Doll's Etsy shop, though really you can do this any number of ways and online tutorials abound. Also, the coloring sheet was downloaded from Style Me Gorgeous.

The ribbon wands were a dangerous idea...arming three-year-olds with sticks...but the dance instructor worked them into her routine and the kids certainly loved them. That idea, as well as the pot of gold coins and the umbrella, came from Hip Hooray. I would have LOVED to have copied that table skirt idea as well, but DANG. The time and the money both would have exceeded my budget by a TON.

Water bottle labels and cupcake toppers downloaded from Paper Glitter (and printed courtesy of Mr. Ouiser, holla!).

It's really a shame that there are no blue or purple veggies. The best I could come up with was the blue corn chips.

Cake decor ideas also brutally stolen from Hip Hooray, and were so much fun to make! I LOVE paper punches! But THIS was the piece de resistance...

Now, this cake was super light, fluffy, and moist, and completely fell apart as I cut it. Also, the chocolate buttercream was pretty solid by this time and didn't cut well either. So, you lose some of the effect because of all the crumbling in this picture. But focus your attention to the edges, which crumbles less, especially the bottom left corner where you can see the perfectly delineated rainbow color combinations...THAT'S what the whole thing really looked like. It was AWESOME and TOTALLY got the dramatic response I was hoping for from the crowd!

For the record, there are tutorials for this cake EVERYWHERE online. Just do a quick search if you're interested. It's time-consuming, but super easy and REALLY fun! Even the Husband thought it was cool when he watched me make it. I don't know what happened with the whole rainbow-theme explosion, but when I started planning this party last summer, it actually wasn't incredibly easy to find inspiration...it took a fair bit of Google searching. But in the last month or two?!? Holy rainbows EVERYWHERE, Batman! And I can understand why...it's an incredibly easy and fun theme to work with. I had so many more ideas that I ran out of time and money to implement; I quite literally could NOT shut my brain off from generating more and more ideas. Which was great.

I should have more pics of the actual birthday girl later this week, but for now, I HAVE GOT to clean up the rainbow explosion all over my kitchen and dining room!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Hello, Birthday Girl

First words this morning: "Is it my birthday?" "Yes, sweetheart, it is. Happy birthday!" "Is there cake for me?"

Yes, sweet girl, there's cake for you. Cake and presents and songs and dancing and a small dinner party and lots of happy birthday wishes and hugs and kisses and proud, proud parents who cannot wrap their heads around how big you are. Big and beautiful and smart and funny and strong-willed and obstinate and determined and compassionate and opinionated. And ours. Such an obvious blend of our personalities, and yet like no one we ever could have imagined. Entirely your own person.

We love you to the moon and back, baby girl.

Last words tonight: "Is my birthday over?" "Yes, baby, I suppose it is." "I had a great birthday, Mommy!"

Three Years and Two Years in the Making

So, this is THE kitchen. The play kitchen that the Husband has been working on off and on (mostly off, let's be honest) for nearly TWO YEARS. This began as the inspiration of one of the Ikea Hack play kitchens so frequently featured on Ohdeedoh, and morphed under the Husband's influence (as projects so often do) into a behemoth of a play kitchen...of THE BEST play kitchen ever created, I swear. You guys, this thing is GORGEOUS. I'm not at all sure the pictures do it justice. I LOVE it and, more importantly, so does the birthday girl. My Liliputian is three years old today and woke up to this culinary wonderland this morning after the Husband and I were up until almost midnight finishing it up, rearranging the dining room, and stocking it full of play food.

(Note the drawers present in this picture that were absent in the first two. The polyurethane was still drying overnight. You can also see the talking alarm clock in the background that was a birthday gift, as well as the binoculars in her hands. Please do NOT note the unpainted status of my dining room since we knocked out that wall, um, a YEAR ago. It's a goal to have that room painted by the end of this month.)

She's a lucky girl. And I'm a lucky mama.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

October in a Pictoral Nutshell.

This is going to be a post of few words and many pictures. Many of these pictures aren't even mine. Thank Scarlet and Ouiser and whomever else I may have stolen from via Facebook. The words are mine, though, I swear. That may, however, be nothing to brag about.

Buffalo. Wonderland's wedding reception. Heartwarming.

Austin (including Eagles and Norah Jones at ACL. Though clearly not pictured here.).

Sacramento. And Cocoa.

And Wawa.

Gentry Farms. Pumpkins. Sheep. Corn. Hayrides with no hay.

Halloween! That bag lit up from the inside with glow sticks. The phenomenon did not photograph well, but it was cool.

Third birthday sneak preview.

Random. Because, really...70s gym shorts, rainbow striped knee high socks, and a Colgate hoodie. I don't think I need another reason.