Wednesday, February 27, 2013

family reunion

 This picture isn't from last week but I had to post it on here :)  Cousin Aben on the right:
And back to last week. My mom and Dad were here the whole week (which was good timing since Jon had to travel 3 full days last week to Alabama). First things first, little man's first haircut. I'd put it off long enough. We started out like this but that didn't last long. He was very wiggly. I hope his hair doesn't keep growing that fast. That was stressful!
 The mullet in all it's glory:
 And the After:
My brother and sis-in-law flew in on Thursday night. Make that Friday morning because of the "snow storm" which was much ado about nothing. Like I said before, we only see them once a year. It makes me sad that its not more often because there's something extra special about an aunt and uncle who don't have their own kids yet. They just have more energy and patience and time to play than all the other aunts and uncles! So my boys have a blast with them every time. I can't wait until we can travel out to California to visit them but I'm not ready to tackle that big of a trip until Channing is at least 3 and done with naps. They live outside of Yosemite National Park which is a world away from Iowa in landscape and culture. They're both creative and talented in so many ways and I wish we were a regular part of their lives. But we take what we can get and we're blessed with the short time we have with them each year! 
Lots of games were played (Sarah, top right, and my little sister's boyfriend, Michael in plaid shirt) :
Lots of books were read between wrestling matches: 
My parents got a hotel for two nights so that all the kids could swim. 
Channing LOVED it. I think he was in there for nearly an hour with Jon. Too bad we didn't have a baby float with us, he probably would have lasted longer:
And these three won't pass up a single opportunity to try something crazy (Bennett at least was smart enough to only do it once. My dad and Jon did it again when all the other guys got there!) :
 And these three got to spend the night at the hotel with Nonny & Grandad:
My dad and Graham and Sarah aren't wimps in the cold like Jon and I are so the boys get plenty of time outside when they're here: 
Don't the Iowa beaches look so inviting this time a year? Makes me want to grab a book and a pina colada:
The original six:
 And the whoooole crew:
I always love when my littlest sister, Claire, is around because she's always grabbing my camera and shooting. Love this shot she took on party day:

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Peter Rabbit Party

Well, we have had a jam-packed week around here. My parents drove up from Tennessee for the whole week and my brother, Graham, and sister-in-law, Sarah, flew in from California for a long weekend. We only see them once a year and we timed the party so they could be there, since they've never been to one of their nieces or nephew's birthdays. (Channing turns one on the 28th).
Before I back up and share some of the fun we had during the week with family, I'll go ahead and post all of the party pics. It started with some invitations and gift tags I found at a sidewalk sale at PB Kids this past summer. They were only $2 or so and I thought, "How cute. Wish I had a reason to use these. Oh yeah! Channing's birthday!" So that was how I landed on the theme. Judie and I had actually done a Peter Rabbit baby shower for my sis-in-law so it was easy to decorate for.
 A book and bowl set that belonged to the Colyer boys when they were babies:
Inside the birdcage was a postcard that Big John sent Judie when they were dating. I think that was my favorite little touch. It needs to be matted and framed in a nursery:
I used the gift tags as cupcake toppers. Carrot cake with buttercream:
I found these little wooden seed packets at Michael's and Judie helped me figure out what to use them for and she painted them for me:
The only purchased decorations on this table were the cupcake supplies and the seed packet banner. The rest was mine or Judie's (and the blue book on the right was one of Channing's presents):
An antique crate I've had for a while became the centerpiece with fresh vegetables. The trowel with pink paint belonged to Judie's father:
Judie found the watering can at Michael's and actually made the Peter Rabbit ears to peek out since we didn't have a stuffed bunny! I love the personal touches she does for me to make these parties turn out so cute:

I also made a banner for the fireplace with Channing's monthly photos from the year:

The napkin & silverware idea I got from Family Circle magazine (which my sister, Claire, put together for me! Bless her and her love for crafting):

We had two different pasta bakes (my mom made one and Judie made the other), bread, garden salad...
 ...and for the kids, veggie cups with dip and a bucket of dirt (chocolate pudding & cookie crumbs). It was a very easy but yummy meal.

This is the only pic we got with our birthday boy :(  Its easy to photograph all the decorations. Not so easy to get people together! It was quite a full house with about 25 in all. The closest we've ever come to having our entire family (both sides) together. We were just missing 2 uncles from Jon's side. I'm really sad we didn't at least get a shot of all the kiddos. But Dawson was having a very rough night on top of all the other chaos which kept us pretty distracted all evening.
My sweet baby boy was very happy all night with all his favorites under one roof!
I also didn't get a good picture of him in his sweet little Peter Rabbit sweater but he'll wear it for Easter too so we'll just get one then. Too much to think about!
 My sister, Claire, designed these goodie bags for me. They turned out really cute:
I got really lucky since Target has all of their Easter/spring stuff out now! It was perfect timing. A garden shovel, a carrot full of sugar, candy flowers, a "carrot" full of goldfish crackers and tied with green rick rack, a mushroom pencil sharpener/eraser and a little flower growing kit:
 The big kids did an Easter Peter Rabbit sticker craft and it was actually a big hit:

The ONE shot of Channing opening a gift (he actually only got a couple small presents since I just asked for money to decorate the boys' rooms): 
We took a video of the first couple minutes of him with his cupcake. He had absolutely no clue what to do with it. He'd touch it gingerly and pull his finger away. Then he'd lean over and touch his lips to it over and over like he was bobbing for apples. He stayed quite clean! Very true to character. He never did want to eat all the sweet icing but he got most of the cupcake down:

This party was a lot of fun and was I was the least stressed I'd ever been beforehand. I had so much help from my family, especially Claire and my two moms. Plus, my dad and Graham and Sarah took the big kids out on a walk that afternoon so they were out of our hair. 
Channing, my peaceful prince, I know you won't remember a thing about this day but I hope you look back at these photos and see the love that went into it! I won't forget your gentle face, taking it all in. Ivory skin, rosy cheeks and your brown hair swept to the side, always a smile to give, always a snuggle for your momma. I love you and God knew exactly what this family needed when He gave you to us! Happy almost birthday!

For more theme parties, see: Where the Wild Things Arebaby circusdinosaurocean, King Kong. I did a farm party for Dawson's 2nd and never got it blogged :(  Maybe I'll post it someday just for fun. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Game Changers

Just a few things that have changed my life in BIG and small ways lately. Thought I'd share the love....

Need shredded cooked chicken for a recipe but hate all the prep time? So thankful for this discovery.

Do you hate that Minute Rice is so dang complicated and rarely turns out perfectly fluffy? ('cause I do. That used to take concentration like I was solving an algebra equation). This is sheer genius. I'm a rice cooking convert and make it way more often now. (Stir in some butter, salt and a good amount of Parmesan cheese and it becomes a delicious side on it's own. No need for sauce.)

Do you need a quick and impactful devotional? Try Jesus Calling. Its been life changing because its such a doable way to really connect with Jesus on a daily basis and I truly look forward to reading it. I can't rave about it enough.

One thing I'm loving lately is something my friend and I started a couple weeks ago, we're calling it Before & Afters. No secret-- I'm a terrible housekeeper. I love a clean house but hate the work it takes to get there. I was born lazy. I can sit around all day long with a good book or some good TV(and some good food...) and not feel the urge to get up and do anything. I know tons of people who can't relax at night until their house is clean. Not me. Kids are in bed, I go straight to my room to relax, with my hubby, in front of the TV, walking right past all the mess without a second thought. (bonus if it's Monday and The Bachelor's on. That's our favorite date night ;)
So anyway....unfortunately/fortunately I married a typical first-born perfectionist Type-A who looooves a spotless house. (Unfortunately because with 3 kids its NEVER spotless and it irritates him to no end. Fortunately because at least it makes me want to try. A little.)
So one day I had a big mess to tackle (that I wasn't in the mood to tackle) so I snapped a pic of the mess and sent it to my friend. I told her I was going to text her the "After" shot when I was done so I felt like I had some accountability. Duh. It was genius. I cleaned harder and faster than I had in a while, paying attention to more details so my "After" was more impressive. And we both loved it and decided to make it a weekly challenge.
Here are a couple shots, just so you can get in on the fun and be inspired to snap some pics of your messes! (Obviously we are NOT going for picture quality here.)
Our "normal" bedroom. Doesn't get more "real" than this folks....
And the "After". (I think it stayed like this for maybe 2 hours. Our kids trash this place so fast. Do your kids play in your room?)
 And today's Before & After when I really wasn't in the mood to clean....

(My kitchen counters are always too cluttery...but it's still much easier on the eyes :) Do you hate cleaning too? Find another messy friend and keep each other accountable!! I said to my friend how after you're done, you don't even realize how much you did until you look back at the Before. She said how satisfying looking back at these pictures are, because we work so hard all day long and don't usually have much to show for it.

And in other life-changing news...Dawson (who will be 3 1/2 in a month) is F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. staying dry and going in the potty. Sometimes I have a parenting brain fart. (This one lasted a few months too long). I realized he was more than ready. It wasn't like he couldn't do it. He just didn't want to. Do I let him stay up late at night because he doesn't want to go to bed? No. Do I let him him eat snacks because he doesn't want to eat what I made for dinner? No. So why was I letting him pee in his diaper because he just didn't want to go on the potty? I don't know. Three kids leaves you with very little brain space to think through things like these. And I was so tired of cleaning pee off the carpet and couch so I'd just given up and was waiting for him to make up his mind that he didn't like diapers anymore. Well, that was going to happen the day after never. So I quit letting him call the shots. And he's doing great. I still have to be firm sometimes when he doesn't feel like trying but we're nearly done, another mountain behind us. (The next one on the horizon-- Mount Pacifier. Its a huge one. And I don't want to climb it)