Friday, August 29, 2014

Lyla's 2nd Birthday Picnic Party

It's 9:14 on Thursday night.

And I'm pretty sure it's the first time I've actually sat down to relax since exactly one week ago. Because one week ago, I was ignoring my very pregnant body {and every family member begging me to take it easy} as I planned, crafted, cleaned, grocery shopped, and prepared after work each night for a very special two year old's big day.

And a big day it was. We partied like it was our job.

The thing is, I vividly remember going into all of this swearing up and down that I was going to keep things very small and very casual this year. It really did start out that way: our parents, a few of Lyla's toddler friends and their families, and the idea to have a casual picnic. And although I may not have gone completely all-out like I did last year, I still overdid it. By a lot. And I've got the ankles to prove it. Exactly one week later.

I don't know why I don't just cater in, or at least for Pete's sake leave the baked goods to the professionals. I guess for the same reason I refuse to buy Halloween costumes - I like to put my special touch on things and somehow create a labor of love {even though my strengths by no means lie in craftiness nor the kitchen}.

This year's labor of love was the strawberry vanilla cupcakes. Why? Why do I feel the need to try a new recipe from scratch when I have several friends who run very successful bakeries? Especially when I have officially, for two years in a row now, managed to concoct a baking disaster. This year, instead of accidentally doubling the butter, I added too much strawberry puree into the buttercream frosting which made it runny. And let me tell you. Runny frosting, now matter how delicious, looks absolutely horrifying. So, my mother-in-law, for the second year in a row came to the rescue with extra confectioners sugar just in the nick of time -  40 minutes before the party began. I seriously had to talk myself out of throwing a full-on adult tantrum because we didn't have time {or enough frosting} to do fancy swirly-doo's with the buttercream.

You win some. You lose some.

But swollen ankles, lack of sleep, and runny frosting aside, it was all so very worth it. To see Lyla's face as she woke up and walked around the house saying "Lyla boothday pawty"and recognized that all the fun decor was for her!!! And when all said and done, I just can't ignore how much fun it is for me to plan and incorporate all the little details. I love myself a theme and creating a corresponding menu and signature drink. And since I couldn't partake in any adult fun, I stuck to the most delicious infused water I've ever had: Strawberry lime cucumber mint - obnoxious name, but seriously tasty.

My favorite detail was the party favors - everyone got to take home a honey bear from Grandpa Green's farm!

And of course we couldn't have pulled it off without the fam - surely they are used to me by now. Always running out of time at the last minute and pleading with them the night before an event to get their party pants on and "bring in the reinforcements". They're true saints, I tell you.

This year was no exception as I put everyone to work. If I saw anyone standing, I handed them something and gave them a job. Yes, even the birthday girl herself. She helped Dad chill the beer. And Bots was on babysitting/storytime duty.

But I have to say. My favorite part of the entire day was right before any of our guests arrived. It was just us and the grandparents. We took Ly outside for her big "present reveal". And I have never, ever seen such joy, and I will never forget her face.

Let's stop for a moment and talk about this wagon. I have to brag on Gabe. After several weeks of laboring in sweltering 100 degree weather, over a dozen trips to Home Depot, and more than $150 spent, he finished refurbishing his brother and sister's old childhood wagon.

So scratch the runny cupcakes, I guess my sweet husband wins in the labor of love department.

Oh. And we can't forget the part where Lyla was hysterical because everyone sang happy birthday to her. Poor thing really just can't stand all attention on her.

Other than the "Happy Birthday meltdown", our sweet bean had a fabulous time and loved playing with her toddler pals. I only wish I would have gotten more pictures of them all together. {Darn you August heat!} And she really loved playing with all her new treasures.

Well, another successful party in the books. 

But I really am sticking to my word as next year's theme is going to be "Pizza and Party Hats". And it may just be our family of four celebrating together. Because I'm sure I'll still be recovering come August next year. 

And I know this little party animal would likely agree. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happy TWO Years, Miss Beans!

Well, here we are. Rounding out Lyla's second birthday.

I sit here sort of speechless. Trying to take in the fact that I have a two year old.

Life has been so busy, with today being no exception, that I haven't really let that soak in. Until this exact moment.

Although last night, just as we began the tuck-into-bed process {and yes, it is exactly that - a process}, a wave of nostalgia, excitement, and a twinge of sadness came over me. I realized that as I kissed my little bean to sleep, she would wake up a two year old. Another birthday. Another year passed. Wasn't I just in the delivery room a few weeks ago?

Someone make it stop!

But I really am so excited to begin our new adventure into Two-ville. With the exception of the horrifying tantrum now and again, I have so enjoyed the toddler stage. And I can't wait for it to continue. Lyla is so curious, eager to learn, stubborn, quirky, gentle, deliberate, hilarious, and full of life.

And there are so many adorable things that have made quite the impression on my sappy, old, mama heart. But a few I really want to remember...

- I love her wild & crazy bed head in the mornings. No really. It's out of control.

- I love how she labels everything she comes in contact with: "Lyla's shoes, Mommy's hair, Sammy's food, Callaway's house..."

- I love how she stops every so often while eating to wipe her hands and mouth on a napkin.

- I love how the moment we get in the car she asks for "strap please" - the carseat strap that she has completely rubbed into a fuzzy nub while sucking her thumb on the drive home from daycare.

- I love bedtime...when I get the most love {and so does the "baby belly"}. I get eskimo kisses, butterfly kisses, and "real" night night kisses. But the hugs, oh the hugs tight around my neck are what really get me.

- I love how she mispronounces things. Like her "r's":  "bood" (for bird), "gwapes" (for grapes) and "boothday" (for birthday). Or how she says "Bots" (for Pops) and "Gams" (for Grams).

- I love how she gets modest or bashful in certain situations. Like when we ask her how old she is, she turns away, then gets a huge smirk on her face, and after a few seconds boldly proclaims "TWOOOO". Or when we tell her to say bye-bye to a friend, she won't do it at that exact moment, but then the whole ride home she says "Bye-bye Breckyn" and then the whole next week asks to go to "Breckyn's house".

- I love, love, love how she yells "Shoo fly" when she sees a bug of any kind. And lately, we've graduated to a simple "Shoo"!

I mean.

And to celebrate all the sweet cuteness that is our two year old, we started off her birthday with a little bit of extra pizazz to our morning routine. And by pizazz, I mean we put a few balloons in Lyla's room and woke her up by singing "Happy Birthday". {Listen. The kid is NOT a morning person. And  Tuesday's are our early days because she goes all the way across town to GiGi's house.} But she sure loved the balloons once she realized they were for her birthday.

Then, mom and dad went to work. Boo.

But once 5:00 hit, we picked up our birthday girl and celebrated with after-work drinks, birthday cheers included. A local brew for dad, water for pregnant mom, and milk for the birthday girl. When we asked if she wanted pizza or a burrito for her birthday dinner, Lyla excitedly announced "pizzarito"! {She didn't seem too disappointed when she simply got pizza. No "rito".}

And finally, Ly's very favorite part of her birthday: "cuh-cakes". She was a little apprehensive of the "HOT" candles at first, but then, she whipped out the smirk. 

And when the smirk comes out, you know it's time to party. 

And party we did.

Happy birthday to my most favorite girl in the whole wide world. We love you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Double the Trouble

So, let's talk about this whole having another child thing for a moment, shall we?

We are going to have children. As in plural. As in more than one.

And that has always been the plan. We've always pictured two kiddos running around - a perfectly packaged little family of four. 

And because I *sort of* know what to expect this time around, I feel more relaxed, at ease, and excited for our #2 to arrive. Which is completely out of character for me. I am that crazy lady who plans out specific to-do lists in 20 minute intervals beginning the moment I walk in the door from work in the evenings. Then add having a baby in the mix, and my nesting instinct goes into hyper-vacuuming-dusting-organizing overdrive. 

But oddly enough there is an element of peace in not knowing the sex of this babe. Yes you heard me correctly. It’s sort of like the pressure of all the planning and nursery decorating and perfect baby-outfit-hunting has been taken away with not knowing if we’re having a boy or a girl. I can just focus on living and growing a baby. {And arranging then rearranging every closet and cabinet in the house}. 


It's still difficult for me to picture having two littles. Two. That's double how many kiddos grew up in my household. I'm an only, just me. So I don't fully comprehend the sibling relationship {and personally feel that I'm missing out}, and I don't relate to having to have mom and dad divide share their attention with another.

But these same reasons are exactly why I did not want to have an only child: it's lonely, and you have a much harder time not getting your way. And Lyla has reached the age where she's starting to show signs of "only child syndrome". Girlfriend needs a sibling because 1. she could use a playmate and 2. the world revolves around her and only her… just ask her grandparents. 

So it is time for another.

But, even though I'm thrilled to be expanding and completing our family, I'm not quite sure how to grasp the idea of two. Two whom I love equally. Two whom my attention must be shared. How will that work? I know every parent goes through this before having a second. And many decide to keep sharing the love with more and more children after that. But it's a concept I simply cannot grasp at the moment.

Because I l.o.v.e. Lyla. Like, a lot.

So much that I honest-to-goodness felt like I was doing something naughty when we went to our first OB appointment for babe #2 at 8 weeks. I felt like I was cheating on my first born. 

And although I am absolutely obsessed with the newborn phase, and pretty much every phase thereafter, the thought of dusting off all the baby stuff throws my head into a tailspin  the bottles, the pacifiers, the blankets, the burpcloths. Or all the laundry and onesie changes from spit up and blowouts. Or forgetting how to interact with other adults because life is now defined by your new boss(es). Or completely losing your brain because you seemingly have more to remember than any other human. Or, dear heavens, the feeling that you'll never ever ever sleep again.

All of this while also caring for a toddler.

Oh, the thought of wrangling a newbie and a needy toddler. At the grocery store, in a parking lot, or while I'm making dinner. Or what about nursing while your toddler is crying because you're "ignoring" her and being responsible enough to adequetely feed two, meanwhile trying to remember to feed yourself. And mercy me, the thought of coordinating nap schedules - what a nightmare. Logistically, can someone draw out a blueprint for me?

But of course it will all work itself out. And I want to enjoy all of those moments, no matter how sleep deprived or challenging. Luckily, I've had a group of friends to pave the way in how to survive with two. {Although, they make it seem suspiciously easy.}

And in terms of "sharing the love", it's something I know I won't understand until it happens. A lot like parenthood in general. You just have no idea that much happiness exists. You're truly clueless before baby. And off-the-charts surprised by the amount of love that exists when your babe enters the world.

And thanks to some wise words spoken by a good friend, I find myself repeating my new mantra, "Your love isn't divided between two, it's simply doubled".

I really like the sound of that.

Because if the joy that Lyla brings to our lives is doubled? 

Well then. Stick a fork in me. I’m done.