Monday, November 24, 2014

Aden's "Have a Ball" 1st Birthday Party

The house is a mess after hosting company all weekend and I should probably be cleaning instead of blogging ... but I wanted to share the details of Aden's "Have a Ball" birthday party.

As Aden's first birthday approached, I thought about some of his favorite things and I kept coming back to one item -- balls. Our boy loves bouncy balls! Aden flashes his beautifully big grin any time a ball is rolling his way, so I thought a "Have a Ball" birthday party was a perfect way to celebrate him.

I purchased this raglan birthday shirt on Etsy and based the party around its fun, bright colors.

To get things started, I hand-cut circles from card stock for invitations and enclosed the party details. We kept the event on the small side by inviting only grandparents, aunts and uncles so there weren't too many invitations for me to assemble.

I also made a "Happy Birthday" banner from card stock cut into circles and a "ONE" banner for Aden's high chair (which I completely forgot to stick to the tray before he ate his birthday cupcake!). I also made paper lanterns to resemble bouncy balls from strips of paper and hung those beside the banner as well. I loved his brightly-colored party decorations so much, I put them up on Aden's birthday-eve and kept them displayed in the dining room right through the party. Birthdays are week-long celebrations in my book!

What first birthday is complete without a month-by-month glance to see how much the baby's grown? I crafted circle identifiers next to a photo from each of Aden's 12 months of life.

And finally, ... the food. It was pretty easy to brainstorm a menu packed with circle-shaped foods. We served meatballs, chicken wings, a dried-beef cheese ball and crackers, spinach balls, chips & dip and fruit and veggie sticks. For dessert, I made cake pops, peanut butter balls and dairy-free cupcakes. If you're in the market for dairy-free chocolate cake, I highly recommend Cherrybrook Kitchen boxed cake mix.

Andi grilled chicken wings outdoors on our snow-covered deck ... a truly Minnesotan thing to do.

Tory assisted Aden in blowing out his birthday candle ...

And, Aden was a big fan of his cupcake. He crumbled it to smithereens within seconds and did the classic baby-shudder when the sugar high hit his system. 

Our boy was spoiled with some great birthday presents. We gifted him his very own ball pit, and it's been a bit hit with both Tory and Aden alike. He also got a Dusty Planes 4 in 1 ride-on toy, a ride-on car wagon, boatloads of adorable clothes and books and his very own personalized library bag. 

Of course, the big box one of the ride-on toys came in was most exciting for Brooke, Neeley and Tory.

Hard to believe Aden is ONE! What a great day celebrating our new one-year-old.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Letters to Aden: 12 Months


As you laid in my arms this morning drinking a 2:00am bottle, I couldn't help but smile. It's not often I see your beautiful face during the night anymore - you've turned into a fantastic sleeper! - so it's almost like you planned to wake up in the early hours of your first birthday so we could be together.

One year ago today at 12:34am, Dad and I were blessed with you as our wonderful son. I'll admit I was nervous about being a boy mom and being the mother of two little children, but loving you has come easy. You are the happiest, smiliest baby I've ever met. I marvel at your blond, wavy hair and gorgeous steel blue eyes. I'm sentimental the first year of your life is already behind us, and thankful for each wonderful memory we've shared thus far.

At 12 months old, you are blossoming in every way. You're crawling at lightning speeds now (that didn't take long!), pulling up onto your knees easily and standing tall with support from low-profile items like the edge of the bathtub and your PBK Anywhere Chair. You're clapping and playing pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo. You love to point at objects you see in a room and at family photographs hanging in our upstairs hallway. Last night, I decorated the living room with your birthday decorations and the minute you saw them you reached up and pointed with a big smile on your face.

This month you uttered your first word, "uh-oh." I thought your first word might have been "hi" but - no - "uh-oh" is most definitely your first word. You use it repeatedly in the correct context, like when you purposefully drop your sippy cup off your high chair tray and say, "Uh-oh!" Other words I *think* you're starting to say are "mama" and "dada," "ta" for Tory and "cheese" when I take your picture. You often mutter "ma ma ma ma" when you're crying out for me, but I'm not sure if it's just sounds and by coincidence. A few weekends ago at the cabin, you stood at the top of the stairs (behind the rail and baby gate) and yelled, "da! da! da!" to Daddy down below on the middle-level. And, even though I know it's not a real word yet, you call Tory "ta." When you hear her in another room of the house you'll often shout, "Ta!" And finally, "cheese" isn't a true word yet, but more like the phonic sound and tone in your voice when I ask you to pose for a photograph. You've also started to make an "arf" sound when asked what dogs say.

Sleep is the shining star of your 12th month. Just like Tory at this age, things seemed to click into place around one year of age, and you're finally sleeping all night, every night. You typically go to bed around 7:00pm or 7:30pm and wake for the day around 7:00am or 7:30am. Naps vary based on the day and our schedule, and you're so go-with-the-flow with it all. On Mondays/Wednesdays, you typically take two naps (9:30am - 11:00am / 1:30pm - 3:30pm) and on Tuesdays/Thursdays (due to Tory's preschool class), you take one long nap from 12:30pm - 4:30pm. My mom always told me babies are suppose to take long naps in the afternoon but until you, little buddy, I never knew it was a reality. Those quiet afternoons are GLORIOUS and you wake up so happy and rested.

Another easy-breezy area of babyhood for you is teething. You seem to be one of those lucky babies who's teeth magically appear in their mouths. This month, you gained your 5th and 6th teeth (upper and lower lateral incisors) and the 7th tooth (second upper lateral incisor) is close behind. I love seeing those pearly whites appear in photos. It's hard to miss them with your big, beautiful grin.

This month, you added a new state to your Places I've Been book when we traveled to Kentucky to visit friends. You are a bit of a handful on plane rides right now because of your newfound mobility. I'm looking forward to the day you can run on two feet vs. acting as a human vacuum, eating every piece of lint and crumb on the floor. Speaking of putting things in your mouth, another disgusting habit of yours lately is eating Chloe's dog food. You are a like a moth to a flame when it comes to her food and water bowls. Aden Bear, dog food isn't for people!

We also celebrated Halloween this past month. You were a lion cub, and were an adorable one at that.   We visited Nana and Papa in Nebraska that week and trick-or-treated with your cousins Brooke and Neeley. It was fun being surrounded by family and sharing in so many fall traditions.

Some of your favorite things this month are playing with balls, reading books, off-limits electronics (like my cell phone!), remote controls, taking baths and, of course, your treasured blue blanket. There aren't many things you dislike, but changing clothes and wearing a winter coat is one of them.

One year old! It's hard to believe you've been in our lives so long. We love you so much, Aden. Here's to another great year ahead.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tory's Thankful Tree

One of the greatest things about preschoolers, in my opinion, is their beginning level of understanding. At age three, Tory is starting to grasp the meaning of holidays, and it makes celebrations all the more fun. I'm trying to be intentional about explaining the message behind events on the calendar -- most recently, Halloween, Election Day and Thanksgiving so she comprehends why we do the things we do.

I've thought about making a Thanksgiving "thankful tree" with Tory for some time now, but it wasn't until this year (Age 3) that it truly made sense. This week, we finally had time to sit down and talk about the meaning of Thanksgiving and the people/places/things we're thankful for.

For our activity, I free-handed a tree trunk from brown construction paper and used this template to trace and cut out red, orange, yellow and green leaves. Tory recently learned to cut with a scissors, so I gave her a piece of paper leaves to cut out as well, though she obviously wasn't able to follow along the black outlines just yet. 

I think it's adorable they way she cut straight lines along the edge of the paper. No one probably cares about this milestone but myself, but I'm half-tempted to save the "scissor work" in her box of artwork. Working with scissors takes practice! It's one of those things as an adult you take for granted until you see how challenging it is for a three-year-old to master.

Anyway, while we cut out leaves together we discussed the meaning of Thanksgiving and all the things we're thankful for. 

I wanted to jot down Tory's answers so I'll have record of them forever:

Tory's Thankful Tree 
Age 3

Tory (herself??)
My house
Cameras (mine was sitting on the counter nearby...)
Paper (I think because we were cutting with paper and scissors at the time)
Friends at school
Lindsay's wedding / being a flower girl (the highlight of her year - seriously!)
The sun
My whole town

Tory also wanted to include things Aden's thankful for on her tree. She said Aden's thankful for:


Too cute...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekend in Kentucky

My good friend Lindsey moved to Lexington, Kentucky a few months ago and I was really upset over it. Lindsey and I met in our daughters' swimming class a few years ago and we became fast friends. There are so many similarities in our lives and it's a blessing to have a friend who understands me like she does.

As I sat in bed sobbing the night before she left Minneapolis for good, Andi graciously offered to fly the kids and I to Lexington for a visit. Suddenly, things didn't seem so glum and gloom; there was a date on the calendar to look forward to seeing Lindsey and her kids again. That date was this past weekend when Tory, Aden and I hopped on an airplane to Kentucky while Andi was in Mexico for work.

Tory, Aden and I left Minneapolis late Thursday night. The only daily direct flight from MSP to LEX on Delta was at 7:50pm which is so not ideal when traveling with kids. In fact, Aden is usually asleep for the evening by 7:30pm, so I crossed all my fingers and toes for a smooth night of travel ahead of us. An hour before we left for the airport, Aden awoke up from his nap with a deep barking cough. Honestly, he seemed fine before nap time and afterwards, BAM. He'd suddenly come down with a nasty cold out of nowhere. Craaaaaap. After some quick texting back and forth with Lindsey, I decided to push forward with traveling to Kentucky. Our flight was set to depart in less than three hours.

The 1 hour 45 minute flight to Lexington went ... okay. Aden was wiggly and fussy for most of it. He wanted down on the floor and off my lap and, of course, that wasn't an option. Luckily, there were three other babies and toddlers on the late-night flight so my baby boy wasn't the only one making noise. Tory, my awesome little traveler, kept busy and quiet playing on her iPad. The minute we deplaned Tory said, "I can't wait to see my friend!" We were both excited to be there, but ready for bed as it was already close to Midnight EST. Ooof.

When Tory is overly tired, she is a manic in her sleep. Thrashing around, crying - even sleepwalking. Unfortunately, Thursday night was a really rough night of sleep (ahem, as in, there was no sleep) between Tory's crazy antics and Aden's coughing and cries. I was exhausted Friday morning (and Saturday morning, to be frank), but charged on to maximize time with Lindsey and her girls. Not the first time my children slept like garbage while traveling, and likely not the last ....

We spent most of Friday at the Explorium in downtown Lexington. It was a fun small-sized children's museum set up perfectly for our kids' ages. The museum was busy at first, but cleared out about 30 minutes after we arrived and then we basically had the place to ourselves. Tory, Ashley and Taylor loved playing in the water feature and Aden loved the enclosed baby area with blocks, books and toys.

All four kids took a two hour nap Friday afternoon - a quadruple nap! - so Lindsey and I had plenty of time to catch up on life. We spent the remainder of the evening hanging around her house, watching movies and playing with the kids.

Tory and Ashley played princesses all day, every day.

And, played "airport" ...

Saturday, we bundled up the kids (temps were in the low 30's) and headed to Evan's Orchard and Cider Mill, not far outside of town. On the way there, we took time driving through Kentucky's countryside to look at all the horse farms along the way. I'd never been to Kentucky before, but it was exactly as I pictured it -- rolling hills, picket fences and horses everywhere. The landscape was really beautiful. I wish I'd gotten some photographs of the gorgeous farms.

There wasn't another sole at Evan's Orchard when we arrived. It was perfect! I suppose the weather was chilly by local standards (not for us past/present Minnesotans!) so we let the kids run wild in the play area. There were swings, a corn pit, tires to climb, a giant slide and more. Later, we walked over to the barnyard to see the pigs, goats, alpacas, chickens, turkeys and rabbits.

That evening, we ordered pizza and watched Frozen (my first time seeing the movie!). I loved how our weekend was filled with some activities around town and plenty of chill-time at home.

Sunday morning, I packed up our things and headed to the airport. Our weekend visit was a quick one, but so wonderful to see our dear friends in Kentucky.

Until next time .... 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Home Tour: The Laundry Room

I don't have "after" cabin photographs to share yet because Andi is traveling this week and I know he'll want to review the post before I hit publish. It's for the good of our relationship; I'll have to keep you on the line a little bit longer ....


I do have pictures to share of my newly painted laundry room at home. Not as exciting, I realize, but I'm personally thrilled with the finished details considering how much time I spend there washing, drying and folding our laundry.

Isn't the laundry room the most neglected room of the house? For me, it totally is. Rarely do I spend time wiping down countertops or the washer and dryer, or heaven forbid vacuuming the rug. It's a get in / get out kind-of room where I'm usually hurling pieces of clothing in various places (washer / dryer / hampers) with a baby on my hip and a preschooler attached to my leg. I do clean the laundry room occasionally, though not nearly as often as I should.

Anyway, it's always been a dream of mine to have a pretty laundry room. A place I'd actually take pride in keeping tidy. It's the little things in life that make a big difference, and a fresh coat of paint and a few decorating details totally turned this room around for me. Here's how it came about:

If you follow me on Instagram (liveinmybubble), you may remember hearing our washer and dryer broke in September. Andi was traveling for work that week and both kids were recovering from a nasty case of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (*shudder*), so the timing of the appliance failure was less than perfect. I went to Lowe's to buy a new washer and dryer set because we had a gift card there and as is always the way with this type of thing, it was a giant nuisance. Our laundry room is L-shaped and the washer and dryer are positioned on one side of the "L" in the room. The store salesman told me not to fret, that all washers and dryers are similarly sized (news flash - they're not), and shame on me for not measuring my laundry room before shopping.

Long story short, I bought a washer/dryer set too big for the allotted space in my laundry room, the washer/dryer had to be returned on the delivery truck and I ended up having to special-order smaller-sized machines from the company's website. When the special-order washer and dryer set arrived the following week, they were about a 1/2 inch too big as well. There's a cabinet affixed between our washer and dryer and the edge of the countertop was basically the problem. It was slightly too big, and the delivery men weren't comfortable pushing the washer/dryer set into place no matter how much I pressured them. I was so frustrated by this point (I just wanted to do laundry!) that I ripped out the cabinet in question and instructed the delivery men to install the washer and dryer in their respective places. Problem solved.

Except, wouldn't you know it? There was a patch of old laminate flooring hidden underneath that ripped-out cabinet. Gah. Come on, life, throw me a bone! 

When Andi returned home, I showed him the laundry room situation and he remedied the problem. The cabinet itself fit between the washer and dryer just fine; it was the overhang on the laminate countertop that was the problem. So, Andi placed the cabinet back in its original place and, ahem, hammered the countertop down on the top until it fit snugly between the washer and dryer. 

A few weeks later, we hired a painter to re-paint the living room, dining room and entry way of our house. I'd planned to do the painting myself, but Andi graciously suggested we hire a painter to save me the hassle of painting during every nap time from here to eternity. So, since a professional painter was already scheduled to visit the house, I snuck in the repainting of the laundry room at the same time. Exciting!

To keep things simple, I painted the laundry room the same color I'd selected for the living room -- Benjamin Moore Slate Blue. I'm completely in love with the results.



I framed this free printable I found on Pinterest, and looking at it while I fold laundry seriously makes me so happy. Thank you, lovely Internet people, for sharing your creative talents with others!

I also purchased one of my favorite glass jars from Target (these jars are $5 and seriously the greatest thing since sliced bread!) to hold my laundry soap. Don't worry, the lid twists on tightly so kids aren't able to open it. A silver tub holds stain remover, dryer sheets and other laundry supplies.

I'm amazed how a little paint color can completely transform the feeling of a room. Now, the laundry room is clean and airy and so very lovely. It's a room in our home I'm proud to show off!

Coming up ... a home tour, with updates on the other rooms in our home which were recently painted and redecorated. Stay tuned!