Sunday, April 29, 2012

2nd Birthday Celebration

Mike and I decided to keep the kids' 2nd birthday celebration pretty simple: invite our family out to Sunday brunch and then go to a nearby park where the kids could ride their "new" tricycles for the first time.  (We bought the tricycles used at a mom-to-mom sale last fall.)

Even though the plan was small, I ordered a handful of photo invitations and had a rough theme of "colors" in mind.  Michael and Sophie have become big fans of crayons and love identifying colors.  They're pretty right-on most of the time, but we occasionally still get a completely original name like an enthusiastic "Blarbla!" for red.  I adore their attempts at "lello,"geeeen," and "boo" and not-so-secretly hope they hold onto those mispronunciations for quite a while. 

These are the beautiful Jello cupcakes I made for the occasion. 

Ok, "beautiful" might be a stretch, but they are far more attractive than my attempt at this adorable crayon cake.  I had seen some pictures of some not-so-successfully executed versions, so I tried to prepare for the worst.  I looked up cake decorating tips, bought some green sugar sheets to ensure crisp edges for those parts, and had lots of extra frosting on hand.  

Thankfully I also mentally filed away the Jello cake idea after eating some at a recent staff meeting.  It called to mind the yellowed image from a magazine of a Christmas layer cake with green and red drips that I had seen countless times in my mom's recipe book.  If I failed at the crayon idea, I could pull the color theme in that way. I also picked up a cupcake decorations package at TJ Maxx on a whim; their similarity to the invitations caught my eye.  If I failed at the crayon idea...

Perhaps it was all that worst case scenario business going on in my head that kept me from simply getting a solid layer of yellow frosting on that chocolate cake.  I've never had an issue with crumbs before, but they plagued me that Saturday afternoon.  The ice cream cone crayons looked fantastic, but the whole shebang just wouldn't come together. 

(Last year I made a ducky! I impressed the heck out of myself with that one and am shamelessly showing it off again here. Crayons, you can kiss my rubber duck.)

As I tossed my sad crayon box into the garbage--yes, I'm wasteful--I tried to embrace the new theme that was emerging for this event, something along the lines of "let it go and just enjoy your kids."

The brunch didn't follow that new theme entirely; all went smoothly and we enjoyed the heck out the kids' excitement.  They were thrilled with the restaurant's trains, one going on a track around the room and one real one that passed by the window.

However, fitting with the new theme, the park and cake festivities this year ended up looking like this:

Notice Sophie's hair blowing to the side and her lip mid-quiver. She burst into tears as we sang "Happy Birthday." Sentimental, I guess, or half-frozen. 

Only days before, it was nearly 80 degrees in the area, and it was supposed to get up to 60 that day.  Eventually it did, but at 11 a.m. the biting wind wouldn't even let us light those 2's.  Full from brunch and too cold to bother, very few cupcakes were touched.  (They made fantastic after school snacks for me later in the week.) "Let it go..."

Sadly that wind did nothing for the balloons that lost their bouancy overnight in our basement.  Our gathering was on a Sunday morning, so I thought ahead and got the balloons on Saturday when the party supply store was certain to be open.  When Mike brought the tricycles up on their way out to our van that morning, the balloons' droopiness fit perfectly with the newly developing theme.  "Let it go..."  They had been soaring a few feet above the tricycles.  We just tightened the strings and trudged on.


Insert photo here of my mom and me fighting those balloon strings off so the kids could take their first ride.  I had looped them on pretty simply, but the wind did some tangling.  "Let it go..."

At this point the wind started to let up, and Michael and Sophie took their new trikes (and their grandparents) for a spin!


The dress Sophie wore that day was one my grandmother made for me, and the little kitchen pictured behind the tricycles was a DIY project that Mike and I completed.  Those are details I'll save for future posts.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Look out, Grand Rapids!

We were invited to a family wedding in Grand Rapids on the same day as Sophie and Michael's 2nd birthday, and having never really explored that city, it seemed like a great opportunity to put together a little family adventure.  We RSVP'd just for me, and Mike spent the full trip with the kids.

We drove into town during Michael and Sophie's afternoon nap the day before the wedding and explored the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park until dinner time.

We had a great time pointing out all the different colored butterflies in the Butterflies are Blooming exhibit. 

We spotted an orange Sopherfly on our way to the Children's Garden.

My little musical man enjoyed the drums and bells in the maze.

I imagine most families who visit have photos like this of their kids going in and out of the tiny gate at the entrance--kind of irresistable to little ones and their camera-toting parents! 

The next morning we went to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum, a hands-on space full of fun activities for little ones...

like a rainbow ball sorter...

...a giant bubble maker...

...and a kaleidoMichael!

After lunch the kids and Mike went back to the hotel for naps while I went to the wedding with my parents and brother.  Like our own wedding day, there were a few hours in between the ceremony and the reception, so we all met up again for an early dinner for Mike and the kids (and some local beers).  Then it was time for...


Even with a more traditional celebration planned for next weekend, we couldn't forget to eat sweets and sing Happy Birthday! 

It was then back to the hotel for Mike and the kids, whose bedtime is around 7.  They dozed off  right about the time the toasts began at the reception.  I held on for a few more hours. :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Baskets

Here's what the kids found in their Easter baskets this year.

Micheal and Sophie haven't had much candy yet, and it still doesn't seem time to let loose with that kind of thing. I found some silicone bunny molds at Kroger a few weeks ago and figured I'd do something with those--banana bread, muffins, something like that--instead of going the chocolate bunny route this year.  I went with Rice Krispy Treats. 

The kids enjoyed them, Sophie more than Michael since his two-year molars and a cold are keeping him from enjoying much about life recently.  The kids actually found their baskets where the bunny hid them the night before (under their play table) before I had a chance to slip the bunnies in there.  They didn't seem to mind getting them separately.  :)

Michael also has an egg allergy, the kind where he gets a little rash if egg touches his face when he eats it, not the more severe kind that keeps him from eating anything with egg.  The doctor advised us to avoid serving him eggs on their own, but he should outgrow the allergy over time.  Still, Play-Doh eggs seemed like a better idea than hard-boiled and dyed ones this year, so that's what the bunny brought.  They should also provide a little fun for us while I'm home for spring break.

I held myself back from going too crazy in the Barnes and Noble kids' section, but I enjoyed picking out a few favorites for the bunny to bring.  There were a few other goodies I considered slipping in, but I decided to save those for next week (their birthday) or the week after (their birthday celebration)!

A work friend of mine lets her kids know that moms get the Easter Bunny and Santa's contact information before they leave the hospital with their new babies.  Her kids understand that she has Santa's phone number and the Easter Bunny's email address (he can't talk, duh) to let them know what her kids want and how they've been behaving.  Before Michael and Sophie were born, I questioned how comfortable I would be sharing these kinds of "secrets" with my own kids.  So far my kids don't understand these traditions enough for it to matter much, but I'm thinking we're going to dive right into this fun as they grow to enjoy it all more and more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The kids and I went to the child care center's "Eggstravaganza" on Saturday morning.  Mike had a cold that reached its peak of ickiness that morning, so he sat this event out, and my mom and his parents joined the kids and me. 

Michael was also feeling pretty icky, so the games and animals didn't have the appeal for him we hoped they would.  Sophie was in a great mood though and jumped right into the egg hunt (Michael broke down when I held him back from getting started before it was time), and touched every animal.  Neither, however, wanted much to do with that big bunny.

The chilly morning provided the perfect opportunity to put the kids in the sweaters their great-great-aunt made for them before they were born.

Check out Sophie's Mick Jagger impresson!

Here's last year if you're interested.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Egg Hunt

Last year Mike, the kids, and I attended an Easter egg hunt at a friend's house and had a wonderful time.  We looked forward to going again this year, but I was hesitant for two reasons. 

1) The event was scheduled right smack in the middle of nap time. 
2) Mike would be busy helping his grandparents move.

I decided to be brave.  I gave the kids an early lunch and we left home with enough extra time to get a decent late-morning nap in on the way.  Despite entering the party with two toddlers glued to my legs, the kids and I had a lovely time once again.  They warmed up enough for me to have a mimosa, to inhale some brunch, and to even use the bathroom a couple of times while friends kept an eye on them.  When taking two toddlers to an event solo amid a quirky meal and nap schedule, one can't always count on these things!

I only brought our little Flip camera, knowing my hands would be too full to operate anything else.  As the hunt itself began I had the camera in my right hand, and Sophie and Michael each held one finger on my left.  Once they saw that everyone was picking up eggs, they let go and did the same!

This video was originally full of shakey-cam and shots of my feet, so please forgive the jerky editing!

If you're wondering, I did successfully distract Sophie and Michael from the other kids cracking open the loot.  The mysterious disappearance of their own eggs produced only a puzzled look on Sophie's face before toys and snacks won their full attention once again.

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