Friday, December 19, 2014

Age 2 (24 Months)

This will be a short one, since I have already posted on the particulars of Zoe's birthday.

I am super behind on updating. Between Zoe's birthday and the holiday's, I have been running
around like a crazy person trying to get everything done. My sister moves in less than a month, so I have been trying to soak up every last moment with her. Z will be so disappointed to not get to play with her cousins all the time!

We did get our first snow fall right after my last post in early November. Z wasn't as crazy about it as I thought she would be. She thought it was pretty from inside the warmth of the house, but didn't much care for trudging around in it!

So Thanksgiving was fun this year, and kicked our season off with a bang. We loved spending time with everyone. We did make it out for a few black friday deals, even though they started ridiculously early this year. I got a new phone, which was super exciting for me, since I have had the same one for awhile now! We also got a large portion of our Christmas shopping to wrap it all!

Thanksgiving melted right into Zoe's birthday and Andrew and I's anniversary. It was a super fun weekend. Andrew and I managed to make it to a nice dinner to celebrate, and Z had a blast spending time with everyone at her birthday. My aunt even made it for the festivities from Tulsa, which was great! Z made out like a bandit, and it's alarming how quickly we are running out of space for all her things. When I look at her overflowing playroom, it makes me want to sell everything and move into one of those "mini houses" I see on that TV show! LOL! In all honesty, however, we are super thankful and blessed!

So here is what is new:

Favorite Thing to Do: We have been doing an advent calendar this year with Z. She LOVES checking it every morning, along with looking for "Elfa's" (our Elf on a Shelf) new location!
Favorite Food: She requested sushi on her birthday, but they were closed, so we ended up at the Melting Pot instead! She loved all the fruit that came with dessert!
New This Month:  She can count to 20, loves building "cave's" (forts) out of blankets, can identify most of the letters and their sounds, and likes little babies (real and pretend).
Growth: We had our 24 month check up recently and she finally grew! She grew 2 inches since her last check-up, putting her in the 55th percentile on height, and her weight went up a bit, putting her at the 25th percentile!
Sleep: She usually sleeps through the night, but has had a cough for a week or two that wakes her up!
Speaking: She never stops talking...Other than "stop it!" and "no, no, no, no," (her favorites), one of her new phrases is "oooh, my!"
Movement: A little wild child... She got a mini trampoline for her birthday/christmas that she LOVES. She'll go jump on it and wear herself out, which is awesome!
Behavior: She moves up to a new room at school in Jan, which is a good thing, because she gets handsy with the little one's. She needs to be in a room where she can get a dose of her own medicine!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Zoe Lou-Who Turn's Two!

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas"- One of my favorites when it comes to Christmas tradition. I was on the hunt for a fun, unique birthday party theme when I attended a "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" Christmas party last year. A "Zoe Lou-Who Turn's Two" / Cindy Lou-Who / Grinch theme seemed to fit the bill nicely. Here are some pictures and descriptions of what I did:


First things, first...the invitation to the party! I made these from scrapbook paper, glue, and ribbon. The instructions for building this style of invitation can be found on Pinterest, here.
They were made to look like little Christmas gifts with the main color scheme- pink, red, and green. I pulled the little Cindy Lou-Who and Grinch into photoshop, making them solid pink, then borrowed a cute poem from this pin, making a few changes to make it work. They were printed on vellum from Microsoft Word, glued together with hot glue, and tied with ribbon.


When it came to the party food, I knew I wanted to do a full meal, but I was worried about everyone being able to move around with a typical, buffet-style arrangement. I instead opted for dishes that were pre-portioned and easy to balance on a lap if need-be.

Here is what was served:
Who-Feast Menu
Roast Beast
(Roast Beef Sandwiches)
Who Hash
(Oven Fries)
Grinch Greens
(Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus)
Yot in a Pot
(Macaroni and Cheese cups)
Beezlenut Splash
(White-Chocolate Peppermint Mouse)
(Birthday Cake)

Then I also added some cupcakes to this for the kiddo's. Scroll to the bottom for specifics on food/recipes. 

I made the menu's using the kraft paper luggage tags you can find at most craft stores, and some pink vellum. I tied them with some white and red string. I placed this menu in with each silverware set. I folded the napkins using this tutorial. It allowed for the cutlery to be an easy grab, along with a spot for the menu's. I placed these in a large silver bowl next to the plates at the end of the table as pictured. 

P.S. the cutlery and plates ARE plastic and disposable. I get them from Dollar Tree, and I LOVE them! They are durable and pretty...and best of all...disposable!


Easily my favorite part- making everything look "pretty." I wanted everything to somewhat coordinate with the color scheme. It's a nice bonus that everything gets to stay up through Christmas ;-).

"Room Decorations": (Pictured) For the walls, I made four strands of ornament garland in coordinating colors (Pink, Green and Blue). They are super duper simple to make. You can find a tutorial here. I hung those on the wall behind the table. I took the extra ornaments and hung them on individual ribbon from the chandelier that hangs over our dining table. I also wrapped a few of the pictures that already hang in our dining room like little christmas gifts, and hung them in their usual spot. It helped tie everything together! (Not Pictured)...I also used some Christmas wrapping paper to make presents on the wall- I just cut them into big squares, taped them to the wall and taped on a bow! I also used some washi tape in pink, green, and red to make some snowflakes on the walls, as described here.

"Table Top Decor": I had one main table with all the food, a dessert table, a kids table, and drinks on the counter. It really cut down on movement around the room. I tied all these together by putting wrapping paper down on the table-top. It had an added bonus of
protecting the surface and cut down on cleaning! I used little sparkly beads from the floral section of my local craft store in different glass vases to add some sparkle. I also bought some mini ornaments to spread on the table. I wanted all of the food to be labeled, so I glued together pink and red candy canes and cut cards from green sparkly paper. I printed oval labels with each food item. 


"Roast Beast": I made some artisan sandwiches. I made a few different variations, and used the scrapbook paper strips to help guests differentiate between them. I wrapped them in parchment paper and scrapbook strips and affixed them with a toothpick. The best part of doing these were that they could be made/prepped ahead of time and kept refrigerated until the party!
The ingredients- roast beef, ham, bacon, ciabatta bread, regular and chipotle mayo, cheddar and swiss deli cheese, artisan lettuces (including arugula), red onion, and tomato

"Who-Hash": It is said in the book that the Grinch even takes the last can of Who-Hash, so I figured cans would be a must! I got the idea here. It took me a few weeks and some help from family, but I
finally collected and cleaned enough empty food cans for this little project. I just printed a who-hash label on construction paper from word (I even downloaded a free Grinch font), and hot glued it to a clean can. I then put parchment paper into the can before filling it with the Oven fries.
Ingredients: I use the Alexia brand of red potato frozen oven fries that are fabulous. They can be found at walmart, and are so easy, you'll wonder why you ever peeled potatoes. I added some ketchup in mustard in little glass dishes on the table, but you don't need them. These are delish on their own!

"Grinch Greens": I love asparagus. I love bacon. Put them together, and you have a winner. The concept of having them wrapped and bundled helped with portion control, and made them a bit more portable. I would suggest ensuring they all face the same direction so the "chewy" ends of the asparagus are all on the same end.
Ingredients: I pretty much followed this recipe.

"Yot in a Pot": Or should I say, "pots"? I wanted macaroni and cheese, because it is my two-year-old's favorite, and placing the individual servings into cupcake cups seemed like a genius way to make it portable. I got the idea here. I used a tiered stand to place them on, which helped with accessibility and presentation.
Ingredients: I use a fancy kraft version, found here. It's sold at most grocery stores.

"Beezlenut Splash": Ah, the drink table. I was happy with how pretty it turned out. The cups are plastic (from dollar tree) but the downside is that they hold a fairly small amount of liquid. They 
are great for champaign or just a bit of punch, but just not practical for meal/beverage service. I also used some adorable paper straws. The punch was placed in a glass beverage dispenser, and green for the Grinch.
Ingredients: Hawaiian Green Berry Punch, Sprite, and Lime Sherbet

"Who Pudding:" I was proud of this. I found this recipe on Pinterest for a White Chocolate Peppermint Mousse, and loved the sound of it...yum! BUT I'm not a from-scratch kinda gal...who has time?? I came up with an awesome alternative of my own creation, all placed in little, individual dessert shots. I got the dessert shot glasses in bundles of 3 from dollar tree, tied them with ribbon with a tiny, silver plastic dessert spoon. It was perfect, and a new family favorite!
Ingredients: 2 Hershey's White Chocolate Instant pudding mixes made as directed, stir in 1 8oz container of Cool Whip just before serving, and top with andes peppermint crunch baking chips.

"Diffenderdoofer": I found this amazing idea, which basically claims that the Grinch "even stole the icing right off of the cake."
Well that's just perfect, because then I didn't have to decorate a cake. I made the cake "naked style," with minimum icing between the layers, then just added a little sign explaining what the Grinch did. I made the cake toper from glitter tape, sticker letters, string, and paper straws.
Ingredients: Betty Crocker strawberry cake mix made as directed, red frosting.

"Cupcakes": I made these, because I wanted to be sure my daughter got enough icing to lick ;-). I used some of the cake mix I used for the cake. I topped her individual cupcake with an adorable gold #2 sparkler I found at a local store named "Plenty."
Ingredients: Betty Crocker strawberry cake mix and aerosol frosting in pink and red (because it's soooo much easier to decorate a cupcake with). I also threw on a few silver sprinkles for fun.


It was important to me that Z LOOKED like Cindy-Lou Who. I put her in a puffy, red silk dress with a pink fleece coat with white fur trim. She also had pink, red, and green tights. I made her two headbands. One was made with a tea cup ornament (like the movie Cindy-Lou Who) and pink feathers, but it was super heavy so she didn't like to wear it for long. I also made her a traditional headband with the Who antennae and ribbon bows, which I made with pipe cleaners!

And...that's pretty much it! I was excited and pleased with how it all turned out!!!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Little Ms. Thankful

Ah, the end of October...when halloween has officially passed and it is finally the "holiday season." Anyone that knows me at all, knows that my love for this time of year borders on obsession. I'm so thankful for my little girl who gets more intelligent and "grown up" every day.

This last month has brought so many changes. We have very much settled into a routine with children's day out. Zoe seems to really enjoy school, and has a strong bond with her teachers and classmates. She does pretty well at school, but is pretty sassy, and has a hard time sharing with her friends. I'm excited for the new year when she gets to move up with the big kids!

We also recently learned that my sister and her family (who lives only 10 minutes away) will be moving to Florida in December. I'm super bummed, because our kids are super close (E and Z are only 9 months apart), and because I spend a LOT of time with my sister (she stays home too). We have been helping them prepare their home for the move, and soaking up every last second of playtime for the kids.

On another note, halloween was a blast this year. Z was too young to really understand what we were up to last year, but this year she totally got it. She dressed as a little black kitty (complete with a tutu dress), and Andrew and I dressed as a mouse and cheese. We went to several halloween events, including trick or treating with my sister and her kids around Norman. The kids had a blast, and Z totally loved when people let her choose the candy to put in her basket.

Annnnd....what I am most-excited about this month...FAMILY PICTURES! We try to have pictures done at least once a year, so we can document how our family has changed. We had these done by Christie Mellor this last weekend, and I'm in awe. I seriously need her to mentor me, because this lady has some serious talent. Here are a few favorites:


So now we are on our way to Thanksgiving in a few weeks, with a chance of snow this weekend (eeek!). For Thanksgiving this year, we will be going to Chickasha to my mother-in-laws. It's always a good time, with lots of laughter, kids playing, an over-abundance of good food, and we always top it off with some black friday shopping. I'm really looking forward to it this year!

Then, the week after that is Zoe's birthday! I'm in shock that I almost have a 2 year old!
Here is what is new:

Favorite Thing to Do: She has been asking to play with my sister's kids pretty often these days. She asks for G and E almost every day.
Favorite Food: With the colder weather, we have been enjoying Pho pretty often. Z LOVES the noodles and "soup."
New This Month:  She wags her finger and says "no, no."
Growth: At the doctor this month (for another ear infection) she was still only 24lbs.
Sleep: Anytime she is sick, she doesn't sleep, so that's rouge, but she does pretty well when she's on schedule.
Speaking: This kid cracks me up...She's like a little adult! She now counts to 10, knows her first and last name, knows her age, most of her colors and shapes, and pretty much never stops talking!
Movement: She is really good at soccer...she can dribble a ball with her feet better than I can. Her and daddy play all the time.
Behavior: She is definitely a diva, and one of the sassiest little people I have ever met. We are going to need to crack down though, because she tells us (and everyone else) "no" and "stop it!" wayyy to often. I kept thinking it would go away, but it has definitely gotten worse.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Falling for FALL

Welcome to October. Officially fall, if only the weather would cooperate. Regardless, we made it to Orr Family Farm for a hay ride, pumpkin patch, and all the other fun festivities. It was a blast. Zoe really likes pumpkins for some reason, so she was thrilled to get to take her own home!

This has been a busy month, but I have finally finished the backlog on photo editing. I have one more scheduled photo session, and then I'm officially done. It feels nice to have some time again, and I'm not sure I'll be taking clients for quite awhile.

Despite the time restraints, quite a bit has happened this month. I
have had two baby showers to attend (both having baby boys!). We also made it to the State Fair, which was a bit of a disaster (z didn't get a nap that day). It was still fun though, and a great tradition (we always go on the $2 day).

The inauguration for SCU's president was this past month. It was great to see the process through from beginning with the President Search Committee, to the inauguration itself. I also just began teaching a 5 week night course for SCU again. I love teaching, and seeing all the students, faculty, and staff on the SCU campus!

In addition to all of that, I have still been working at the Children's Day Out program every week. Z has come a long way. She has mostly quit crying when I leave her, and has become a big help to the other teachers. I love picking her up at the end of the day, because she always gives me the biggest hug. :-)

In the next month, I'm looking forward to Halloween-Zoe will be a black cat, in a tutu, of course, and spending time
with my family and little girl. I can't wait to get started on Zoe's birthday festivities in December, Thanksgiving, our trip in January, and of course Christmas!

Favorite Thing to Do: Talking, Playing outside, and Going to Grandmas (Grandma keeps her when I teach night class)
Favorite Food: She really loves mac and cheese, but I can't give it to her very often.  
New This Month:  A bucket-full of new words and phrases.
Growth: I think she may be taller? Still in 18 month clothes.
Sleep: She is almost completely done with a morning nap, and only takes afternoon ones now. She has also been going to bed after 7 almost every night.
Speaking: She's so chatty. She talks all.the.time. Some her new favorites are "how are you?", spelling her name, and counting to 5 in English (and 3 in Spanish). 
Movement: It's no wonder she stays so small. 1. she never stops moving and 2. she runs everywhere she goes
Behavior: Nap's are essential, but her teachers at CDO recently told me she deserves a politeness award. She says please and thank you after EVERYTHING!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mama Mia (21 Months)

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes that baby in the baby carriage. A sweet story, but in reality, motherhood is no fairytale. It's a labor of love, that we would trust to no one else, and while some days are smelly, sticky, and stressful, we love our job as mommies- and love our babies even more. It's our job to raise them to be well-rounded, happy adults in a world where the pressure to be perfect can be overwhelming. On top of that, babies grow at an alarming rate...seriously, one day your wiping spit up, the next they are walking, talking children...theres hardly enough time to remember to go grocery shopping (because you're out of milk and diapers AGAIN), when are we supposed to get to the "important" stuff?

I've been so busy lately I've been trying to remind myself to step back and get some perspective. While I may stay home with Z, I still seem to overwhelm myself with daily tasks. That being said, she's the most important thing. SO if you drop by my house anytime, it may not be clean, and I may still be in my PJ's, but I'm choosing to sacrifice those things to spend the time with her that she needs.

So what is it I've been up to you ask? Well, a lot, actually. I have had LOTS of photo sessions over the past few months. Nothing like announcing your on hiatus to induce a frenzy of people booking before you're officially "done" for awhile. However, I am done taking any new bookings, and have just a few more sessions (and a Mt. Everest-sized mountain of editing), and I am officially taking a "break." 

In addition to photography, I have also been volunteering with SCU on their inauguration celebration of their new president, Dr. Reggies Wenyika- my former boss, and someone I respect a great deal. I'm honored to be working on the committee, and I love working with the folks at SCU- they are always so kind and welcoming. Next week, will be the inauguration, and then I will be gearing up to teach another adult-studies (night course) in October!

Then there is my new "job" at the Children's Day Out program. I'm several weeks in now, and I love it. It's so nice to go do something regularly each week, where I feel like I'm making a difference. It's also awesome for Z, because she gets to make new friends and learn new things. The downside is the germs. She got hand, foot, mouth, and I would not wish that horribleness on anyone. Z was SO sick last week, but was thankfully feeling well enough to attend CDO this week.

In addition to all that, we just got back from a brief "vacation" in South Carolina, where my SIL got married to my new BIL! It was a beautiful wedding, and she was kind enough to let me take the pictures! We had such a good time, and it was nice to get away for awhile. Z LOVED the beach, and thought the waves were hilarious!
It seems like there is a lot new with Z this month too...

Favorite Thing to Do: She has really got into coloring. She's actually pretty good at it too. She actually attempts to color in the lines (when it suits her), and can even make a #1! She seems to be right-handed (Andrew's disappointed)
Favorite Food: She likes corn dogs (I know, I know...healthy, right?). She still really likes fruit, and asks for "peashes" (peaches) all the time. 

New This Month:  She has started stringing words together in two and three word sentences. Some of my favorites are "thank you, mama (or dada)" and "I got you!"
Growth: I think she lost some weight with hand, foot, mouth. When we were at the doc, she weighed in at 23lbs.
Sleep: She has her ups and downs. She is still taking something of a morning nap some days, and other days only wants an early afternoon nap. It gets really confusing, and difficult to plan our day!
Speaking: Her vocabulary has really exploded this month. I have lost track of all her new words and phrases. It's crazy how they just start picking up and mimicking EVERYTHING you say! 

Movement: One of her favorite games is "ring around the rosie" where she spins until she falls down! She was also a hit at the wedding where she "twerked" to the music at the reception (she literally dances by putting her hands on her knees and shaking her booty...LOL you can't make this stuff up!)
Behavior: Yikes. Between the vacation where there was zero structure, and her illness last week, she has really fallen off the wagon. We are going to have to get back on-track because she's acting a little bonkers!