In the Making of Christmas Cards  

Monday, December 13, 2010

I set us up with Portrait Innovations to get our pictures done for Christmas cards this year.  I have decided after this experience that I will not do studio photos again.  Or at least not for a while.  Not because I didn't have some cute pics to choose from, but because of the following reasons:  Even though we had an appointment we still had to wait on a studio room to become available... my 2 yr old was in good spirits upon arrival but by the time we finally had our studio she was in mid tantrum,  she desperately wanted to play with the other children getting their photos taken... which is not appropriate when they are in the middle of a shoot, the location we went to was in West Plano and there were way too many uptight snooty Plano Moms in there that were hard to ignore, but really the biggest let down was that they didn't have an option for me to just buy the disc so that I don't have to purchase a million of the same image... I mean really who wants so many of the same photo???  Makes me think I should have my own studio room with cool lighting... how do I get one of those I wonder??  The cutest image was of a santa hand holding a plate of milk and cookies with Bailey in her xmas pjs reaching for them and looking up as if she was actually looking at Santa so that is the one that I have 40 prints of.  But I also ordered xmas cards from them that have three images... the one I just mentioned, one of her crying because that is how the photo shoot went and it made me laugh, and one of our family where Bailey is looking super happy, John is looking cute and I, well I just look extra fat in the face because I was in an awkward pose and trying to see around Bailey so it brought out an extra chin... nice.  But the whole point of dragging us all down to the studio was to get a descent family photo...  I should have just had Candi do it!  Want to see them???  You'll just have to wait until they arrive in your mailbox :) 

We got home and I felt like Bailey needed some good creative fun for being dragged through that process.  So I set her up with some of the leftover craft paints from her Olivia party and some card stock in her high chair to make some one of a kind Bailey hand painted Christmas cards.  And I snapped some photos but she didn't mind this time because she was a busy little B painting away!

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Bailey's Super Sweet 2nd Birthday Party  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

For Bailey's 2nd birthday I went all out on her Olivia the Pig theme.  I crafted some awesome piggy party hats, a really cool Happy Birthday banner... gosh I wish I had a cricut machine!  and set up three tables.

Table 1:  Nacho bar w/ queso, taco meat, RED salsa, RED and Black chips (and some normal ones), sour cream, jalapenos, guacamole.  The nacho bar was mostly for the adults... a nice change after eating turkey all weekend. and for the kids we had PB&J sandwiches cut into star shapes with RED strawberry jelly, a fruit tray, and Pigs n' a blanket (all beef little smokies, so no pigs were hurt in the making of this buffet).  Olivia Party hats each in its own special design, and awesome RED and WHITE striped cups with twisty straws for each of the littles to enjoy juice, water or milk.    

Table 2:  Present table with Bailey picture books for guests to view and RED and WHITE striped party bags.  Party bags were filled with Olivia coloring pages printed out from the Nick Jr web page, play doh, Crayons with Olivia sticker that said thank you for celebrating Bailey's 2nd bday, and Olivia stickers.  Guests were also encouraged to fill up their bags with treats from the dessert table.

Table 3:  Dessert table!  Three tiered Olivia cake featuring the episode where Olivia pretends to be a vet. On the top tier she is checking on Edwin the Black cat and on the bottom tier shows Ian, her brother chasing after Perry the dog who is wearing a nurses hat.  The middle tier reads Rule of Life #38:  Just because your dog looks cute in a nurses hat, does not mean he is a very good nurse.  I did a custom topper of a Black painted 2 with a tiara and pig ears.  She had two custom cupcake stands made out of Holiday hat boxes.  Each cupcake was individually wrapped with custom cupcake sleeve made out of scrapbook paper.  Found a free scalloped template on Cake Central and spent a night catching up on DVRs as I cut out the wrappers.  Some of the kids were upset when they had to be removed for eating LOL.  One set of cupcakes were RED velvet and the other set were BLACK and WHITE cookies and cream with fondant puppy and kitty toppers inspired by Edwin and Perry.  I had two candy jars filled with WHITE chocolate covered pretzels with RED and BLACK drizzles.  Two buckets of Popcorn from the Mom and Popcorn shop in Mckinney one was RED, BLACK, and WHITE cotton candy flavored for the kids and the other a Cinnamon Bun for the adults.  And the two biggest hits were the giant Olivia Sugar Cookies and the RED, BLACK and WHITE whirly pops (kids went nuts for them!). Believe it or not I didn't have much left over except popcorn because the bags were excessive.   

Some of the cool crafty party features aside from the Olivia Party hats, cupcake wrappers, and birthday banner were the toddler sized Olivia cutouts that I painted.  I did 5 total each in her different wardrobes from the show.  The one of her in her ball gown and tiara I cute the face out so the kids could pose as Olivia.  I'll post those pics whenever Candi edits them.  The kids really loved that!  The backside was painted as her brother Ian so the boys could play too.  Bree had created custom Olivia menus for each table and Olivia food labels... each one had a different one of Olivia's rules of life that applied to the food in some way.  I had two kids tables in the food room with Olivia coloring pages taped to it for the kids to color as they snacked.... they loved that.  And Candi had created her custom Olivia birthday outfit, along with another matching Olivia outfit that are the cutest.  

and then after I had successfully gotten each kid on a sugar high I threw them all outside to run wild with 20 or so beach balls in the RED, BLACK and WHITE colors theme.  It was organized chaos.  We had close to 15 kids there of all ages and they played wonderfully together.  Bailey is not around a ton of kids ever so she had the time of her life running around being a monkey.  Only one injury... Skylar got poked in the eye, it's not really a birthday unless somebody gets poked in the eye LOL.  But aside from that the kids really enjoyed themselves and it was fun to watch.  I didn't set up any games because I didn't think I could hold any of their attentions for that long, so we were just set up for coloring, ball time, pics, food and presents.  

Once it began to get dark it was too cold for outdoor play.  We brought everyone in for the birthday girl to be sung to and to blow out her candle, to eat cupcakes which each child had a definite preference for which animal they would like to eat on their cupcakes, and a few tears where shed over the wrapper removals because they liked how pretty they were LOL.  Bailey had figured out the whirly pops at this point and preferred them over a cupcake.  Then we opened gifts!  She received lots of crayons, coloring books, baby dolls and Olivia loot from all of her sweet friends!  Bailey passed out at 7:30 that night and slept all night long.  According to the other parents, their kids were out by the time they got home.  Yes, I went overboard.  But everything went exactly as I imagined.  The kids were super excited about each piece the party had to offer and that made me happy.  But I was most pleased with how super excited Bailey was throughout the party and how much fun she seemed to be having.  Even though she will not likely remember this particular party I know that it was her best night that she's had of her life so far.... and that's how parties should be.    

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear Bailey,
On Thanksgiving day you turned 2 years old, and truly you are our biggest blessing to be Thankful for!  We have experienced a lot together over the course of this year.  You learned to walk fairly quickly after your first birthday, it was an overnight transition really.  You took your first steps several different times throughout the day and by the next day you were walking all over the place like a pro.  You could turn corners, stop regain your balance, pick things up and carry them... you just seem so fearless, cautious but fearless.  

You overcame your fear of grass shortly after Easter.  For the longest time if we tried to put you in the grass your legs would fly up over your head (you're very flexible) and you would try to climb up us like a monkey.  We took you to the arboretum where the grass is pleasantly soft, bright green and cut short and after a while you began to warm up to it, eventually kicking your sandals off and running through the fields bare foot.  And now you love playing in our backyard, running, and chasing bouncy balls and footballs.   One day I spread out a king sized soft blue blanket in the grass and you rolled around snuggling that blanket and looked up at the clouds for over an hour in pure joy.  

A blanket in the grass is your happy place and now you take great pleasure in noticing the things in the sky like the clouds, stars, and the moon which you think is a ball.  You love balloons, but find them even more entertaining when you set them free and watch them drift up into the sky.  We first discovered freeing the balloons after Ava's birthday party this summer, but more recently I took you to an arts festival where the flower shop gave you a balloon.  When I tried to tie it to the stroller or to your wrist you cried very loudly because you wanted to watch it sail away.  I thought for sure that losing your balloon would make you sad but you proved me wrong when you instantly cheered it on and tell it bye! 

This year you have developed your own special relationship with Mr. Kitty.  You have always been fascinated with him, but he never let you touch him.  Now that you can walk, and even run, you have learned to keep up with him.  He was pretty unsure of this for a while as I tried to teach you to pet him softly, but then one day I found you resting your head on him as he laid there and excepted your hugs.  He actually seemed relaxed and it was then I realized how much he has bonded to you.  He doesn't like many people, but you have always lit up when he walks by you and I think he likes that about you.  His meow is one of your first words, it sounds identical to his and I have a hard time distinguishing which one of you it came from when I hear it.  As you chase him throughout the house the two of you meow back and forth as if you are talking to each other.  Now you feel you are the boss of him and you tell him to "GET DOWN!" when you seem him perched up on the bathtub.  I am not sure why you yell that at him because I don't think I or Daddy have yelled at you or him in that way, but sometimes you just have to use your outside voice.  

You have become my little helper in doing chores.  Sometimes your help causes bigger messes but I always appreciate your interest in the things I do.  You are a fast learner, I show you how to do a chore and you are quick to figure it out and take over such as picking up you blocks, or clothes, or crayons, washing the table or high chair, throwing trash away etc.  Your favorite of these chores is sweeping the patio, this can keep you happily busy for quite some time.  You may be getting your own Bailey sized broom for Christmas this year.  

Daddy and I have noticed that you have many hiding places throughout our house for your many treasures such as remote control batteries, cell phones, sippies, pacis, shoes, toothbrushes, brushes, toothpaste, Daddy's contact lens cases, sunglasses, your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,  etc.  I have found these stashes tucked away in the drawers of our kitchen, in the sub woofer, under the chair cushion, in the clothes basket, in the bathtub, behind the blinds, in the seat of your push car and I am pretty sure there are some I have not yet discovered because if I search the house for your sippy and ask you where it is you wait until I leave the room before you some how locate it.  I admire this strategy and mostly find it amusing.  The fact that you remember where you hide your stuff must come from me because as you know you certainly didn't get that from Daddy.  You help him look for his missing stuff all of the time, whether it was lost because of him misplacing something which is usually the case or if you hid it from us.  One morning he lost his keys and ran frantically through the house trying to find them.  He kept saying, "Where are my keys?  Bailey do you have them?"  and you promptly found your set of plastic keys and chased after him trying to give them to him.  A big help indeed ;)  

You are super cuddly and I love this the most!  You climb up in our laps and hug our faces tight and will not let go for a while.  As you do this you sway back and forth saying "ohhhh!"  As I do the dishes you run up to me and hug my leg tight.  As we grocery shop you pull my shirt so that you can pull me in for a hug as I push the cart and it's just so lovey of you!   It makes strangers stop and coo at you because it is adorable of you.  In the mornings we dog pile onto Daddy if he is still home and laying in bed when you wake up, and we do it at night when he walks in the door.  You love talking to him on the phone when he drives home from work and as you tell him about your day in your special baby language you show him toys, share pacis, sippies and snacks with his picture on the id.  When you hear a car door shut in the evening, or someone at the door your ears perk up and you freeze to listen more closely.  If you hear nothing else then you look at me puzzled asking "Daddy?" and I say "no he's still working!" but if you do hear the keys in the door you scream "DADDY!" and run to the door.  As he opens it you throw your paci at him (this is something you often do when you are excited) and tell him all about how much you missed him and the things you were up to in your baby talk.  

 Some of your favorite things are:  you love Nick Jr and most of the shows on it but specifically Olivia, Yo Gabba, Fresh Beat Band (not Mommy's favorite!),  and Little Bear.  Your favorite books are Five Little Pumpkins, Once Upon a Potty, Hop on Pop and all of the vocabulary/picture books specifically the great big one that Andrea sent you for Christmas last year.  Your favorite toys are definitely bouncy balls, a little wooden push cart from Ikea that Holly got you for your first birthday and the Laugh and Learn Fisher Price Puppy.  Your favorite songs are the Itsy Bitsy Spider, If you're happy and you know it, most Incubus songs (that's my girl!), and a few of the 30 seconds to Mars songs.  You love reality TV.  You don't like leaving the house with out your blanky, your paci, your juice which you call Dee Daah which means juice please, and your crayons or a random stuffed animal.  You love jumping on the bed or stomping around with happy feet.  You love for your cousins to push you around in your stroller or in your push cars.  You REALLY love Bella, I think your cousin Skylar might be jealous so try not to show too much favoritism ;)  Your favorite fruits are fresh sliced apples, blueberries, raspberries and purple grapes.  You eat raw carrots cherry tomatoes and sugar snapped peas, but I have a hard time getting you to eat any of your other veggies this year so I find ways to sneak servings into your foods.  You love dips like salsa and guacamole, but you don't like ranch even though you want to like it because of it's dippability.  You like pizza, which you call PEE-pa (Pee is in all caps because you say it in a high pitch), specifically spinach bacon artichoke Dee-light from Papa Murphy's or plain cheese.  You love yogurt and cheese but hate milk.  You do not like a lot of meats but just recently you've been giving chicken another chance, you'll eat turkey lunch meat and fish sticks.  Your favorite games we play are Here comes the little mouse, Where's Bailey? as you hide behind the curtains giggling, and knocking on the doors and opening/closing them waiting for me to pop out around the corner to scare you.  We are also quite fond of chasing you around the racetrack design of our kitchen/ living room.  You are pretty strategic in this game as you check the reflection in the refrigerator to reveal our hiding spots or you change up the direction on us and sneak up behind us.  When we scare you in play you come running towards us laughing with arms open ready for hugs.  I find you delightful in every way!  Happy birthday baby girl!!!  

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