March 23, 2017

elsie's pokemon 4th birthday party

After giving birth to three girls, I can absolutely tell you I never thought I'd be planning a Pokemon birthday party.  Granted I've planned a glittery dinosaur birthday party and a school bus party, so I shouldn't be all that surprised.  But Pokemon?  I dragged and dragged and DRAGGED my feet on this one.  Ryann and Elsie became obsessed with Pokemon after Christopher let them watch a few episodes of the old cartoon (which turned into many many MANY episodes).  Elsie now loves Pikachu and naturally had to have a Pokemon birthday party.  But as much as I threw a fit about this theme, I'd venture to say everything turned out pretty well.  We didn't go too over the top, but it worked and the kiddos had a great time!

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A friend made Elsie's Pikachu dress and I think it is so stinkin' cute.  Just another perfect way to girlie up the Pokemon theme.  It is made out of a t-shirt that I bought at WalMart.  Her bow is by Zozu Baby.  And I made the streamer background much like I made the one for Thea's birthday party.  Since I was hanging this one indoors up against a wall, I just taped the silver mylar curtain straight to the wall.  Then I tied the streamers to a clothes line and used command hooks to hang it to the wall.  Minimal effort, big impact.  I've used 2-3 rolls of crepe paper per color on both backdrops I've made.

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The party was from 11-1, so we served lunch.  On the menu was Panera mac n cheese, two different tortilla roll-ups, fruit, veggies and little smokies.  Desserts for the party included sugar cookies made by my friend Jenny, oreo truffles courtesy of my mom, and a chocolate cake with red frosting made by Jennifer.  I'm so grateful to have friends and family that can cook and bake.  I can make brownies.  I can make chocolate chip cookies.  But beyond that it's a toss up.  Elsie wanted lemonade to drink so we took the easy way out and bought some lemonade!

Most of the decorations were just random red, yellow and black items that we grabbed last minute at Party America and Target.  I found the idea for the favor bags on Pinterest.  I didn't follow their instructions, just created the different pieces I'd need in my silhouette software and used the machine to cut them out.  Elsie was able to help me put them together with double stick tape.  After had the first one done she looked at me with a huge smile and said "Mommy you are AWESOME!"  It doesn't take much to please kiddos and it sure is fun.

The Pikachu headbands below also came from Pinterest.  In her instructions she says to cut the rectangles 1.5 inches by 12 inches, but later in the comments she mentions only getting about 6 rectangles per sheet.  And the 16 inch ribbons plus only 12 inches of foam didn't go all the way around Elsie's head.  I think the rectangle is supposed to be cut on the 18 inch side of the foam.  We didn't do these as an activity at the party, just had them ready to go for the kiddos to wear.

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We lucked out with a beautiful February day, so we were able to spend a fair amount of time outside.  Excellent since Elsie's one request was a pinata.  I was trying to figure out how to pull that off inside without destroying anything.  Lol.  We also played pin the tail on Pikachu.

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Elsie we had a fabulous time celebrating you turning four.  Can't wait to see what you dream up for your birthday next year.  Love you lots girlfriend!

March 16, 2017

thea - nineteen months

Little Miss Thea, another month older!

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This post is about Thea, I love her dearly and she is clearly getting smarter all the time.  She understands so much, but just for a moment consider going back and reading Ryann's 19 month post.  Goodness that kid was/is smart!  I never really understood why people were so impressed with Ryann, always asking me how I taught her, etc, because at the time she was all I knew.  Now that I've followed it up with two normal (but equally amazing of course!) kiddos I totally get it.  And for the record, that was all Ryann.  She was just freak of nature smart all on her own.  :)

Back to Thea!  I'm assuming she has grown since last month, but nothing has changed as far as shoe and clothing sizes are concerned.  And I didn't weigh or measure her.  But still, she is probably growing.  18-24month and 2T clothing, size 5 or 6 shoes, size 5 diapers.  Her final bottom canine tooth is working its way in.  Man these last teeth have been pretty rough.  At least that is our best guess for her regular whining and overall pathetic attitude.  Don't get me wrong, she is still hilarious and a ton of fun, but so whiny.  She also throws the biggest fits when she doesn't get her way.  Which most of the time is her getting pulled off of something she climbed on top of.  Little daredevil.  Thankfully her sleep hasn't been affected.

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Thea is still a super picky eater.  Unless it's sugar, there are no guarantees.  The things she eats most often are Annie's Mac n Cheese, peanut butter and jelly, hot ham and cheese, deli meat, blueberries, grapes, apples and pears.  She also likes cheese quesadillas, pizza and popcorn shrimp.  And squeeze pouches.  The kid would live off of squeeze pouches and m&ms, which she calls num nums, if I let her.  She loves m&ms so much.  The other day I was offering her all sorts of sweet treats... "Would you like a cookie?" "No. Num nums!" "Maybe some marshmallows?" "No. Num nums!" "Perhaps ice cream?" "No. NUM NUMS." Like come on mom, get it through your head, m&ms woman!

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Her vocabulary continues to grow and grow.  She certainly understands more than she can say.  And really I think she believes she is saying a ton of words.  But her articulation isn't all that great.  The other day her and Elsie were in the playroom and she was definitely asking and telling Elsie all sorts of things.  But the only real word I could catch was 'El-eee' (Elsie).  Haha.  There is a lot of whining until I figure out what she is trying to tell me.  And really she often just starts with the whining, but if I remind her to ask nicely she turns off the whine and asks with a please.  Thea is also really great at saying thank you and sorry when it is appropriate.

Lately I hear a lot of "Thea do!" That kid is stubborn and wants to do EVERYTHING by herself.  I'm not allowed to carry her down the stairs or help her get dressed or open food packages or put on shoes or anything without her at least attempting it on her own. Which as most moms of toddlers know, makes everything move oh so quickly.  But I'll give her credit, she is getting much better at getting dressed by herself.  I hate when she won't even hold my hand going down the stairs, because the punk feels the need to try and walk down them like the big girls most of the time.  Ryann and Elsie are pretty good about scooting down on their bums with her though, just so she'll do it too.

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Can you smile at mama? Oh uh, that's nice... :)

She may not know the alphabet or how to count to 20, but Thea definitely has body parts down.  The only major one she gets confused on sometimes is knee.  She is also great with animals and animal sounds.  We probably sound like crazy people going through most stores, because any animal she sees she has to make the sound.  You'd be surprised how many different places have lots of animals.  Even the grocery store has things like cows and chickens and stuff on the packaging.  She still thinks almost anything with a word on it (such as a contigo bottle or the shopping cart where it says thank you) says 'Thea Lorraine'.  She constantly points at her water bottle and says "Eee-uh Or-Raine!"  It's cute.

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Thea still keeps enjoying books more and more.  We read two or three before nap and bedtime, and then several more here and there throughout the day.  This month she has loved The Wonderful Things You Will Be, Night Night Little Pookie (when she wants us to read that one she says 'Oh Pooooo-pee!' it is so cute), Dinosaurs Love Underpants, Plant a Kiss and Llama Llama I Love You.  She also requests The Little Mermaid from Les Petits Fairytales all the time.  I really don't know why.  It was a book I bought just because I thought it was cute (I would never judge a book by it's cover, NEVER :), but she picks it a lot.  It surprises me just because the words in it aren't all that engaging, prince and palace and rescue.  Unless you make them more interesting they aren't real relate-able for a toddler.  But whatever.  It is cute.

Sometimes I feel guilty admitting it, but Thea is pretty dang good about sitting in front of the TV for a show or a movie.  I try not to let it happen all the time, but I do appreciate the fact that I can turn the TV on if I need to try and keep her from performing dangerous stunts on the furniture while I'm getting something done.  Her favorites are Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse, Finding Dory, and of course, Moana.  The girls have watched at least a portion of that movie every night since the digital version was released.  It really is one of the better kids movies I've seen, I don't mind watching it!  For once there isn't a character that I can't stand.  No one I don't feel the kids can learn from.  And the music!  I love the songs and don't mind playing them over and over.  Thea LOVES How Far I'll Go.  Dare I say it has replaced Let it Go as her obsession?  She still loves her some Frozen, but Moana has moved into first place.  She is so cute singing and dancing to the song.

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Thea's least favorite things are getting her diaper changed, and getting in the car seat.  I try to be sweet and kind and use positive reinforcement.  I try to bribe her.  Sometimes I threaten her (in a toddler friendly way).  And sometimes I just have to use brute force.  Seriously Thea, it is ridiculous.  As in I have to hold her down with my leg to get her diaper changed or pin her down in the car seat to get her strapped in.  You'd think I was beating her with the way she screams (I'm not, for the record).  I'm so incredibly over it.  I know we went through the whole car seat drama with Elsie at this age, because this is about when we turned her around thinking it would help (it didn't).  But with the law now being at age two, we've still got at least another five months.  She often also fights me on getting dressed, to the point where I walk into the garage and close the door, telling her I'm leaving without her because her clothes aren't on.  It usually works, but I wish she would just get over herself and put her dang clothes on!  I look forward to warmer weather when we don't have to wrestle with jackets.  Oh she has also become a punk about staying in the stroller or shopping carts.  She can hoodini her way right out of the buckles.  Makes shopping a heck of a lot less fun!

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We've had yet another month with baby dolls still being the preferred toy.  She regularly sleeps with her Bitty Baby and 'purple baby' (maybe eventually they'll get real names?).  Sometimes she sneaks more babies ("mo babies!") in with her, but she has to have the other two.  What I find interesting, is that she absolutely LOVES baby dolls, and is obsessed with pictures and videos of babies, but shows little to no interest when she sees a real baby in person.  I'm curious if that will change or not.  Either way I love how much she loves her baby dolls.  I need to find some more awesome baby doll accessories to get her along the way.  Other things Thea enjoys are stickers, playdoh, being outside, climbing as high as she can get, jumping off of things and wearing tutus :).

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Oh my littlest miss, I love you so!

March 11, 2017

elsie jo is four!

Miss Elsie Joann turned a whopping four years old on February 8th.  I feel like we went from saying 'she's only three' to having a full blown big kid on our hands.  Of course she still seems much younger than Ryann did at four, but still.  She can be pretty independent, she's witty, a fantastic little artist, and one heck of a funny kid.

I let Elsie call the shots as much as possible on her birthday.  For breakfast she picked donuts, and we let her open a present.  Pokemon cards started the day off right.  After a couple of cartoons we dropped Thea off with Grammy and I surprised her with a trip to a local kids craft place.  Naturally she chose to paint a kitty.  I should mention, Elsie is so incredibly timid in new places without Ryann around.  She wouldn't talk to the woman working at first, and it was a struggle to get her to pick something to craft.  But after a while she warmed up, and walked out with 'Rainbow Sparkle Kitty' and two glitter tattoos.  We picked up Grammy and Thea and headed to Chili's for lunch.  Elsie ordered grilled cheese and corn on the cob with strawberry lemonade.  The server brought her out a cup of ice cream and sang to her, but the second they set the ice cream in front of her she didn't give them a second glance.  When we got back home Elsie and I baked brownies together.  Grandma 'Nita came over, followed later by Grammy and Papa, and then she got to open presents.  She requested Chinese food for dinner, capped off by ice cream, a brownie and the last Pikachu cookie from her birthday party.  She went to bed a happy girl!

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At her four year well check Elsie weighed in at 38 pounds (75th percentile), and was 41.75 inches tall (88th percentile).  She continues to be on the tall side of things for now.  She is wearing mostly 4T clothes, but can easily pull off the big girls XS as well as 5T tops and pajamas.  Seriously stuff pretty much goes from Ryann's closet straight into Elsie's, despite their three year age gap.  She seems to be growing out of her size 9 shoes, and can definitely keep 10's on her feet.

Elsie goes to bed anywhere between 8pm-9pm.  Yikes.  We started to have so many fights about bedtime, that we said she could stay up in her room by herself for however long she wanted, as long as she got herself tucked into bed.  There have been a few nights that I realize it is close to 9:30 before I go encourage her towards her bed.  As long as she gets a little alone time she doesn't really fight bedtime too much, unless she is working on coloring or drawing a picture.

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Right after her birthday I asked her a few questions, and here are the responses:

What is your full name?  Elsie!  Elsie Junior.  Junior Shades. (what?!?)
How old are you?  4!
When is your birthday?  I don't know, tomorrow?  It already happened.
What is your favorite color?  Red.  I mean, all the colors of the rainbow.
What is your favorite animal?  A kitty and a puppy.
What is your favorite breakfast?  Chocolate waffles.
What is your favorite lunch?  Fruit cups.
What is your favorite dinner?  Chicken nuggets.  And Chinese rice!  It's my favorite too.
What is your favorite sweet treat?  Popsicles.
What is your favorite movie?  Moana.
What is your favorite TV Show?  Paw Patrol.
What do you like to do outside?  Swing.
Who is your best friend?  Harper!  And Charlee!  And Quinn!
What do you like to wear?  A shirt.  My kitty shirt!  The one we got at Walmart.
What is your favorite toy to play with?  Playmobils.
What do you like better, dance, gymnastics or soccer?  Soccer!
Why soccer?  Because I get to kick a ball and I like balls!
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A mommy like you!

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I had to go back and read Elsie's 3 year post for good measure, and it sounds like not all that much has changed.  Haha, she still loves kitties and pink and red, idolizes Ryann while also trying to drive Ryann absolutely mad, is like a sour patch kid in that first she is sweet, but then oh man, she can be so sour!!  Really, I won't go into too much for her own privacy, but when she decides she isn't going to listen... Oy.  We don't have any bathroom issues anymore, so at least that has changed, thank goodness.

Despite her short fuse, Elsie really can be the absolute sweetest.  So many times a day she is talking to me, jabbering about this or that, and sometimes I'm only half listening.  And then she'll say, "Mommy.  MOMMY!"  "What Elsie?"  "I love you."  It still stops me in my tracks on the regular.  And she really tries to be so sweet with Thea 80% of the time.  "Come on Fee-uh!  Come play wif me!  You're my buddy.  We're sisters forever."  Or things like, "Great job Fee-uh, you're such a big girl!" I love it so much.  Sure they fight like crazy.  But they really are starting to become pretty good little buddies.  And absolute partners in crime!

Elsie is turning into quite the little artist.  Following in Ryann's footsteps of course.  Ry and her spent a lot of time watching drawing tutorials on youtube, and now Elsie can rock almost anything I ask her to draw.  Especially Pikachu.  Both girls became obsessed with Pokemon last fall after Chris showed them one of the old school cartoon episodes, and Elsie is quite smitten with Pikachu.  Her love is so deep that we had to have a Pokemon birthday party, but more on that another day.  Oh and at her preschool parent/teacher conference they told me that the other children have noticed her ability to draw, and will sometimes ask her to drawn them something that they can then color in.  Is that not the cutest?

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a recent self portrait

Academically-ish speaking, Elsie knows all her colors, shapes, and count pretty high, can recognize all the letters of the alphabet (except sometimes she confuses C and S), things of that nature.  She knows the sounds that all the letters make.  Occasionally I have her watch the sight word DVDs that Ryann used to watch, and I know she has picked up some words, but doesn't seem to apply it all that much outside of the DVDs.  She can also write almost all the capital letters of the alphabet.  She can also spell her and Ryann's first names and write them.  As lots of children do, she regularly writes things backwards.  But what is a little crazy is that she usually mirror images everything.  It isn't just a letter here or there that is backwards, it is all of them written as a perfect mirror image.  Maybe a left handed thing?  Who knows.  If I remind her to start on the correct side of the paper she writes them regularly.  It is interesting.

We've had a speech therapist coming to our house once a week since October.  Initially they worked on s blends and Elsie picked those up rather quickly, with little instruction.  In the last six weeks or so, they've gotten into the really difficult sounds for her, the K and the G.  Especially an s blend with a K sound, tough stuff!  The term they used for Elsie's, delay I guess?, is fronting.  She doesn't properly use the back of her tongue when trying to make the noises.  So currently we're making a ton of hacking sounds whenever there is a 'cuh' noise.  Lol.  But she definitely seems to be improving.  There have a been a few occasions that she has made the K noise all on her own in conversation and it always catches me off guard/is pretty exciting.  I will be surprised though, if she graduates from speech by the end of her year in October.  It is still a ways off, but I think they're shooting for something like 85% accuracy, and that just sounds so hard for my sweet girl!

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Speech therapy has absolutely nothing to do with her vocabulary.  Elsie uses so many words and phrases and is talking pretty much all the time.  It is so fun.  Let's see, recently she told Thea "Don't panic!  I've gotcha!"  One day she dropped a pencil sharpener into the trash while trying to sharpen something.  Her immediate reaction was "Oh shoot!" followed by "oh gosh.  It went way down there.  I can't find it.  Ey yi yi!"  And this was a while back but I don't think I've share it on the blog.  One time Elsie was trying to say the word 'crystal', but I could not for the life of me understand her.  She started describing it as "a shiny rock that is kind of clear that can make a rainbow if you shine light through it."  I was definitely impressed with her ability to come up with that description!

Some of my favorite phrases though, are her little self affirmation ones.  We've been working on riding a bike with training wheels, and while she is pedaling she'll say "If I try hard I can do this!  I'm not giving up!  I can do it!"  I love it.  You go girl.  You can do anything if you try hard.

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Other random things about miss Elsie... she is our little foodie.  She loves to eat and she loves to help in the kitchen.  For the most part she'll try anything and likes lots of different foods.  She also loves to tell secrets.  She grabs you by the face and tickle whispers in your ear something you probably can't understand.  Cracks me up every time.  She is still absolutely fabulous at pretend play and can entertain herself for long periods of time in her room.  She also loves building with duplos and shapemags.  She enjoys dressing up her American Girl Doll, but also swipes Thea's bitty baby a lot to play with her.  She love love LOVES to 'craft'.  Especially if I sit with her and do whatever she tells me.  Typical.  Despite being completely crazy and rambunctious at home, in a class setting (school, gymnastics, dance) Elsie can be very quiet and generally follows rules rather well.

My Elsie girl, I love her, she drives me crazy, and I'm so happy I get to be her mommy.  Can't believe you're four girlfriend!

February 27, 2017

thea's flamingo first birthday party

Oh hey.  It's February.  Thea's birthday was in July.  That is pretty much how I roll right now.  Whoops.  We had Elsie's 4th birthday party at the beginning of the month, and Ryann's will be coming up in not too long, so I figured I should probably throw these pictures on the blog.  Sorry third child.  Love you lots.

I'm not really sure how it happened, but flamingos kind of became Thea's thing once she came home from the hospital.  Christopher's mom had put a flamingo in the yard with a congratulations sign, and brought the big girls stuff flamingos.  The theme just kind of stuck from there.  I mean pink + flamingos + summer birthday.  It was meant to be.  The rest of the colors for her party match her nursery, and were solidified when I came across napkins at Hobby Lobby that matched perfectly.  I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking.  There are a lot of them!  A big thank you to Adrienne Maples Photography for capturing the fun.

Really I kept the decorations pretty simple.  Repurposing some things from previous parties, the monthly photo banner, flowers, balloons and photos.  Throw in some lawn flamingos and you've got yourself a party.  The biggest project was the backdrop for the cake smash, which really wasn't all that hard at all, and a ?????? that was supposed to go over the entrance to our backyard, but it kept blowing over in the wind.  Sad story!  But I'm absolutely thrilled with how the cake smash backdrop turned out.  We used a piece of PVC, taped some mylar curtains to it, and then tied on some crepe paper streamers in various colors.  Then Christopher managed to zip tie it to the house.  Not really sure how it happened but whatever.  It made the cake photos so cute!

For the favors I ordered inflatable drink holders off Amazon, then added some popsicle holders (also from Amazon) I personalized with my silhouette, along with some Fubbles I snagged at Target.  Super simple and they seemed to go over pretty well.

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I guess there aren't any photos of the regular food we served, nor can I remember what it was at the moment.  Figures.  But the sweets! Definitely captured those.  My friend Jenny made the adorable cookies, as well as the delicious pink cake balls.  The flamingo sticks are drink stirrers that I purchased on Amazon.  My mom made chocolate sheet cake bites.  And then friend Jennifer number 2, haha, made the gorgeous cake!  Seriously, I am so impressed with her cake skills.  I would love to learn how to bake and frost good cakes, but maybe I'll just leave it to my friends.  :)  I made the glitter '1' cake topper out of gold cardstock, then glued a couple of feathers to the top.  The flamingo candle was also from Amazon.

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The birthday girl in the sweetest little flamingo dress!  My oh so talented mother made it.  The flamingo fabric I found on spoonflower, the pinks were from Joanns.  Her pink bow is by Zozu Baby, little bracelets by June + Penny, and her pink ruffle bloomers you can see later in the post are by Beckaloo.

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We opted not to do any gifts for this birthday, so the cake smash definitely stole the show, as it should.  Thea definitely did not disappoint.  She had demolished a chocolate cupcake on her actual birthday, so I expected her to dive right in.  She was super pissed when I took the cake away to cut her a piece.  But when we handed it back to her, she really didn't know what to do with the giant slice of cake.  Ryann helped her out and just dumped the cake on her tray, and after Elsie convinced her to just lean in and bite it she went to town.

Thea's birthday crown was made by Little Blue Olive.  I made the high chair banner with my silhouette and a hot glue gun.  I swear sometimes a hot glue gun makes me feel like I can do anything.

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Most of the party was just spent outside eating and playing.  It was super hot that day, but thankfully our backyard gets decent shade in the evening and it wasn't too bad.  I have to say I am pretty thrilled to have a kiddo with a summer birthday.  It certainly makes party planning a little more fun in my opinion!  I'm so thankful for all the friends and family who came over to celebrate little Miss Thea.  I really do love planning birthday parties for my kiddos.  Not because I hope to see it plastered all over pinterest, but because I really do enjoy it (especially when I get to pick the theme! :), and my kids have always seemed to enjoy their parties.  AND I love a good excuse to get together with friends.

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Only about five months until her next birthday.  What?!?!?!