more birthday fun

We've been in quite a birthday party mode the past week or so, what with working up to Audrey's first birthday party this Saturday, and then Evie's sixth birthday party (and first ever friend party) coming up a couple of weeks after that. My brain is a mess of invitations, party games, cake ideas (thanks, Jodie, by the way for finding that link--those were some cute ideas!), goody bags, and more.
On the topic of goody bags, is it just me, or does anyone else feel guilty putting together bags of stuff that will probably make parents crazy? Or am I the only mom who feels crazed by the bags loaded with pure sugar in the form of candy (or disguised as fruit snacks) begging to be consumed, and the chintzy toys that quickly become strewn all around our house? I get it that it's nice to send your guests home with something, but I'm always hoping to come up with something more creative than the bag-o-junk I've been known to put together for these little shindigs. If you have any ideas for a barnyard party happening in less than two days, please leave a comment!
Anyway, in the midst of all my birthday party plans, Eloise was invited to attend a party for Abby and Anna, the twins with whom she played during Evie's weekly ballet lessons last spring. (You may remember me mentioning them in this post.) Eloise was so tickled to get invited to what was supposed to be a pool party. She had great fun making cards for the girls and wrapping their gifts. Unfortunately, we've been having the strangest weather lately, and the pool party was forced to change to lunch at McDonald's and then cupcakes and presents at the birthday girls' house, but I think it is safe to say that a good time was still had by all!

The Happy Meals are living up to their name

Here's Eloise with the famous Tucker

Climbing through the tubes in the Playplace

The birthday girls--such cuties!

Checking out birthday presents

It seriously was a great party. And guess what? The "goody bags"? Sand buckets with shovels, a sand mold, and a package of goldfish crackers. So cute!


happy birthday, Audrey!

We enjoyed a low-key, "regular" kind of day today. I don't think Audrey had any idea it was her birthday, but I enjoyed reflecting on the past year and what a blessing I have in this little girl.

Not MY CHILD! Monday

My baby does not turn one year old today. A year has not flown by, and she is still a tiny little infant, certainly not on the brink of toddlerhood. (So don't check back for the birthday video I've been working on for her!) Yesterday Eloise did not hand me something, saying, "Here you go, Mom." The item did not appear to be the tip of a fingernail, and when I asked her where she got it, she did not tell me, "From my foot. I bit it off." That would be disgusting! My little Evie is not about to start kindergarten. Just as Audrey is still a tiny baby, Evie has to be barely a preschooler, not a big girl who can read! Please play along! This week MckMama is running Not My Child! Monday, or you can simply do a Not Me! Monday. Have fun! ***UPDATE*** Audrey's video is up and running, and you can check it out here!


another post about cake...

After writing about all the birthday cakes I've made for my girls and looking at those pictures, I really had a taste for some cake. Actually, I had a taste for some good buttercream frosting!
Needless to say, when I found out later that same day that it happened to be National Cupcake Day, it didn't take a lot to convince me that it was imperative for us to celebrate this holiday! Much to my girls' delight, I mixed up and baked some cupcakes while I cooked dinner. Then after dinner, while everyone helped clean up, I made a batch of buttercream and got out some decorating supplies. We each selected one color to tint the icing (we opted for a cool color scheme), I filled three decorator bags, and we went to town!
This was their first time using decorating bags, and they actually did quite well!
(I'm thinking that if we ever do a unit on Greek mythology, we have a perfect Medusa-inspired snack!)
Now that we've had our fun, and we've each enjoyed a cupcake slathered in blue, green, and/or purple buttercream, we sure do have a lot of leftovers...anyone interested???


let them eat cake

After seeing the picture of Evie's first birthday cake in my last post, my sister asked me--in my comments, and I love getting comments, guys!--to share the other cakes I've made my girls (I think she's looking for some ideas for one of her sweet kiddos who is turning three soon!).
So what can I say? I aim to please! Here are the cakes:
For Evie's first birthday, I had found these cute and colorful first birthday invitations and paper products at a party store that was going out of business and I couldn't resist them. For the cake, I scanned the invitation, enlarged the image of this little...bear? I think it's a bear. Anyway, then I traced the image onto waxed paper, cut out each individual piece from the waxed paper, and traced each piece onto a white-iced sheet cake with a toothpick. Next, I carefully died icing to match each portion of the invitation and used a tiny star tip to decorate most of the sections (a few were just piped and smoothed into their areas, I think). It was a long process, and by the end I was exhausted. I think that might help explain that random yellow strip piped around the bottom. Hmmm...
When Evie turned two, I had this idea to do a ladybug party. I combed the internet for ladybug cake ideas, and eventually I combined several ideas to create this cake. I was really, really pleased with how it came out! I think my favorite detail is the black candles (two of them, because she was two) as antennae.
For her third birthday, I was excited to make her this Cookie Monster cake in the same Wilton cake pan my mom used to make birthday cakes for me and all of my sisters. The decorating was actually so quick for this cake that I had time to make some Elmo and Big Bird cookies. I also created some fun Sesame Street games for the party, including Pin the Nose on Elmo, Cookie Monster bean bag toss (with cookie beanbags), and Oscar's Trash Cleanup. (I can't just simply go to bed early before a birthday party, you know!)
Birthday number four: Strawberry Shortcake. Now, I'm usually not into characters at all. The Cookie Monster thing was totally a nostalgia thing for me, but Evie totally used it as leverage to have a Strawberry Shortcake party, which meant a Strawberry Shortcake cake. This one wasn't really hard, but it seriously took hours--partly because it was warm and my icing kept getting too soft to work with, and partly because I only had one decorating bag at the time, so I had to clean it out after each and every little step. I've since invested in a few more bags, just in case.
Evie turned five just eleven days after Audrey was born. We waited about a month to have her party, but it probably wasn't long enough for me, because everything is a big blur in my mind. We went with a flower/garden theme, and she and I had decided on this "window box" cake. I think it was a great idea, but I took a few shortcuts, including using refrigerated cookie dough for the flowers and butterflies. Believe me, that cookie dough tasted awesome, but I think it was more dense than the sugar cookie recipe I usually use, so the cookies themselves, which we baked on sticks, were too heavy. As they sat in the cake, the weight of the cookies caused them to either fall forward or backward in the cake, or fall off their sticks, or both. It was definitely a cute idea, and I was so thankful to my sisters who helped me by icing all the cookies, because I was totally busy making these fruit and veggie bouquets, which--in my postpartum mind--were extremely, extremely critical for a five-year-old's party:
Okay, on to Eloise! When Eloise turned one, I didn't have any great theme in mind, but I made these super cute invitations with lavender and yellow scrapbooking papers, with a yellow birthday candle tied to the front of each. I was so excited about them, but I didn't even think about having them hand-cancelled by the post office, so the candle was completely demolished by the time the guests received them. My mom actually thought there was some kind of strange, waxy confetti in the envelope, but she couldn't figure out why I'd tied the thick string (the wick) to the card. Bummer.
Anyway, I just made some lavender-iced cupcakes for the party. I printed pictures of Eloise from throughout her first year in little circles, mounted them on lavender and yellow paper, and stuck them in the cupcakes (my sister, Molly, created the little picture holders for me). It was pretty quick and easy, and it looked cute. Plus, Eloise will never remember either way!
By the time she turned two, Eloise definitely loved kitties and the color orange, so I tried to combine them to make this cat cake. My mom had made me a kitty cake for my second birthday, and I looked at pictures to get ideas for Eloise's, but my mom's was definitely cuter. Fortunately, it had been a long, long time since my second birthday, so not many people remembered the cake to compare...
Keeping with tradition, I made Cookie Monster again for Eloise's third birthday. I think I got the "fur" effect a little better this time. This party was pretty easy, because I had saved all the games from Evie's party. I wonder if they've held up well enough for Audrey's third birthday...but now I'm getting ahead of myself.
This year, Audrey's birthday is going to be a farm theme. It's hard when they're turning one, because what can a one-year-old really "be into," you know? But she really does like trying to imitate animal sounds, and she loves playing with the little Leap Frog Fridge Farm while I work in the kitchen, so it seemed like a good choice. Plus, I found a cute idea for a cow cake, and even a sheep cake if I get ambitious and feel like making two, or if the cow doesn't work out and I need to transform it into a sheep or something.
Evie is going to have her first-ever friend party. It's a really, really big deal, and you should see the "plans" she has made. I've had to remind her a number of times that we will not be able to do everything on her list...it might be a bit much to go swimming, go to Chuck E Cheese, have a sleepover, and make a plethora of craft projects. She has chosen to have a "Little House on the Prairie" themed party, so I'm not sure how most of those things tie into "Little House" anyway. I don't recall Pa and Ma loading the girls into the wagon and making the journey to Chuck E Cheese, do you? I'm not really sure yet what I'm doing for her "Little House" cake. Any ideas? Leave me a comment!


Not Me! Monday

It's been months since I've posted a Not Me! Monday, but here we go!
  • I did not allow Evie to jump in a huge puddle with her friends at the very rainy church picnic yesterday. She was not the only one in the group wearing socks and tennis shoes (as opposed to sandalls), so she did not have to ride home with very, very soggy feet. She did not have a blast doing it.
  • While grocery shopping the other night, I did not tear up as I put a number "1" birthday candle in the shopping cart, remembering how not-so-very long ago it seemed that I placed an identical candle in my cart for my soon-to-be six year old. Audrey cannot be nearly a year old already, and there is no way Evie is days away from six (and I have not contemplated the fact that six years is already one third of the way to eighteen).
  • I did not spend a good part of an entire day cleaning out the jungle area on the far side of our driveway. We do not have nine yard watse bags of proof of this treacherous project.

Care to play along? Hop on over to My Charming Kids and join the blog carnival!


keepin' my eyes on Jesus

So much to blog about, so little time! And instead of blogging about anything, I'm just going to share this little video. VBS has been over for weeks, but we're still hearing the songs (with a few variations and/or interpretations of the lyrics) around here every day...

Perhaps I'll get around to a "real" post tomorrow...


it's not about me

I'm planning to blog about our fun, albeit wet, trip to a little amusement park yesterday. For now, though, here's a little thought I came across last night, good for me to remember:
God's goal is not to make sure you're happy. No matter how hard it is for you to believe this, it's time to do so. Life is not about you being comfortable and happy and successful and pain free. It is about becoming the man or woman God has called you to be.
Life's not about you! It's about God.
-Charles R. Swindoll Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit


déjà vu

Audrey is definitely her own person, but sometimes when I look at her I experience some major déjà vu. See what I mean?
Baby Eloise, around 5 months old
Baby Audrey, around 5 months old
Baby Evie (on right), around 11 months old
Baby Audrey, 11 months old
Baby Evie with a messy face

Baby Audrey with a messy face