I really needed a drink

You guys, we went to Dallas in late September and it took us six hours to get there. SIX HOURS. When I told my friend, who recently moved to Doha, that I didn’t know how she made it 15 hours on a plane with her three children, she said the adults got alcohol and the kids got ice cream. Noted for next time.

We were there to celebrate my oldest niece’s birthday. I can’t believe she is now four.

Family Photo_Cousins2

 

Here they are in order of appearance: Cousins 1, 2, 3, and 4. Though don’t tell 4 she is number four – she will cut you. She and James are two peas in a pod, for sure.

We took the opportunity to take some family photos. We just did it on the street in front of my sister’s house. Alex tried to give me all sorts of heat about taking a family photo. I am so sorry I would like to have a photo of our family- I don’t care if your eyes are squinty in the sun or your smile is weird. Your kids will want to see what you looked like when you are young.

Family Photo_Wall

Plus, it is a well known fact the only photos I will pick  will have me looking good in them. So calm down and smile.

Family Photo_All_Color

I love this one so much. It is totally candid and such a perfect moment in time. This is our life. No one is looking perfectly right, but everyone is happy, loves each other and is doing the best they can.

This is a winner.

 

 

It got really hot in here

For James’s birthday party this year (vs. his actual birthday celebrated at Chuck-e-Cheese), I decided to do hold the weekend after his birthday aka not on the 4th of July weekend. We rented the same giant water slide from his first birthday which arrived at 7:00 am that morning. The boys slept until 8 (which they never do). I am not the least bit bitter about it, can’t you tell? I guess we did get our money’s worth!

So, it turns out that if you have a party on a non-holiday weekend, people show up. Like, a lot of people. We had about 24 kids plus their corresponding parents in my house.  Not outside, but IN my house. The water slide lasted exactly 30 minutes for the majority of the kids (except Miles, thankfully). The three year olds started it by coming inside and insisting on getting dressed. Not just to get cool, no, they wanted to get fully changed.

Vince was the lifeguard at the bottom of the slide, making sure that kids waited their turn and didn’t go down head first. Liv stood at the front door welcoming everyone inside. This was after she had iced all the cupcakes. Where was I? Talking to all my friends and trying to pretend it was not 82 degrees in the house. I told them both that I didn’t know what I would have done without them!

James wanted to have Team Umizoomi as his theme this year. Well, technically he wanted Umizoomi and Spider-Man both as themes. No. You get one theme and we go with it. My one concession was to let him have a left over Spider-Man candle on top of his pink cupcake.

Generous. I am so, so generous.

James is very into pink everything this year, so he only wanted pink cupcakes. Obviously, I ignored that and had Liv ice them in pink, green and blue; the Umizoomi colors. Topped with some rings from Etsy, and they were done.

For the party favors, I kept it simple and just grabbed a bunch of James’s favorite things, figuring what one three year old likes, others would as well. So in went a lollipop, cheddar-blasted Goldfish, a bouncy ball and fruit snacks. Side note: James 100% balked at my organic fruit snacks. Sorry, party goers.

Team Umizoomi is a team of tiny super heros that save Umicity using math. I am not kidding. They do a lot of measuring, counting and geometry. Geo does a lot of shape creating via his shape belt. I found a link on Pinterest to make belts like the one that Geo wears. It is orange with shapes all around it. I, of course, have no pictures of mine, because I finished them the night before.

For the record I would like to state that I whole-heartedly disagree with the no-favors moment. I am sure I actually didn’t need to state that, you all get me. I love to do the favors. It is fun for me. I don’t care what other people give out (at all) and you could throw a bag of chips at my children and they would scream, “BEST FAVORS EVER!!”. So again, let’s all just calm down.

You guys, I can’t even tell you how hot it got in my house. I was sweating like a fool. Everyone was crowded into the hottest part of my house (on a good day it is 77 degrees back here) and opening and closing the doors. I was so mortified. However,  no one (but the pregnant lady, sorry Lanie!) seemed in a hurry to leave, so I guess everyone was just used to be hot in July.

The finale of the party was a piñata . Oh, you are wondering where it is? Alex is holding it. In his hands. While James swings a bat at him.

So, a homemade piñata was not part of my party vision. Especially a tiny one that was not strong enough to be hung on a rope.

The weekend before the party, Zach asked if we could make a piñata, for fun. I said sure and looked up how to make paper mache. We had an old Chick-fil-a helium balloon lazily floating around the house, so I grabbed that we set to work. I didn’t add glue to the mix, because this was just for fun! It didn’t need to be strong!

We got elbow deep in paper mache, coating the entire balloon. We let it dry, Zach painted it, then we popped the balloon. About this time Alex walked in and said, “Oh, you guys are making a piñata for James’s party!” Zach got so excited and what I could do? Say, ummmm, sorry, but this is not my vision plus I did the paper mache wrong? Nope, hence us having a globe looking ball for an Umizoomi birthday party that pulled off its string a minute before we tried to hang it up.

The boys and I went to the store and I let them pick two kinds of hard candy to include. And really, all the kids liked it and Alex got his due for suggesting it, by having to hold it.

I need to stop calling him a baby

James turned three and I have not really processed it yet. I mean, I have, clearly we had two parties to celebrate, but I still think of him as my baby. Especially since I am trying to finish our 2012 photo album and keep seeing photos like this one.

But he is not that chubby faced baby of one, he is now three. With many opinions that he will share with you via a very loud voice and some exceptionally close talking.

On his actual birthday we had breakfast at Einstein’s and then he went to school, armed with pink cupcakes for his class. He wanted to go only one place for dinner, Chuck-e-Cheese. Of course. I invited Vince and Liv to come join us for the festivities. As if anyone could turn down animatronic mice and pizza. Vince came in early and took the boys to see Rio 2, as a birthday treat, which was an extra treat for me, since I just got to meet them at Chuck’s at 6.

James’s teacher’s made him this birthday crown that he decorated and wore most of the evening.

 Our family gets very intense on the basketball games.

 And cheating, that is totally, totally cheating, Zachary.

 What night would not be complete without a family photo in a parking lot?

So maybe our family gets intense on most games…given the photo of James on the motorcycle, Alex and Zach playing basketball, and me killing giant spiders attacking my jeep. They had already killed my guides!

Here is what you missed

I have been MIA for four weeks and not one of you submitted my photo to the news and started a search party. I am insulted. I thought I was more to you than words on the Internet. My #1 reader (my dad) did finally email me to ask if the blog had moved.

Wait, am I being overly dramatic again? You know you missed that.

Well, instead of rehashing the entire month you missed, I will give you the highlights to bring you up to speed.

1. I now have a five year old. Zach had a super fun ninja party at a local gym, complete with nun-chucks and ninja belts. So far, I am really enjoying five vs. four year olds. Less whining; more getting fully dressed on his own and smidge more patience with his brother.

2. I got totally busted, by Alex, for my James is not impressed series on Facebook and Instagram. Alex’s friends kept telling him how funny it was (thank you) and how serious James is. Since Alex does not understand social media and cringes at that phrase, it caught him totally off guard. I know I have read him those posts in the past, but he didn’t understand the full magnitude. Image explaining a meme to your granddad. That is Alex’s level of understanding on anything technical and/or Internet-wise. Anyway, he was not pleased with me, to say the least. He felt I talking negatively about our kids. You guys know he doesn’t read this blog. And while I wanted to roll my eyes, he is, technically, James’ father and, I suppose I should, technically, respect his opinion. Plus, James is getting more impressed and is now overly animated, so my materially was being ruined anyway. I have retired the James is not impressed tagline. Though I will be doing one full rundown here on the blog for posterity’s sake.

I mean, look at this photo.

I can’t possibly make this stuff up.

3. I am now 36. No further comment.

4. Alex and I spent New Year’s Eve in New York City, even getting to see the ball drop.

The boys stayed with the Walls and got to stay up late, eat ice cream and swim, inside, almost every day. Alex and I got to spend time together, not eat dinner at 5:30 and pretend we were young again. However, New Year’s Day after drinking and dancing into the wee hours it was very apparent we are not. Please refer to #3 above. My Aunt Vickie, Uncle Rick and cousins Stephanie, Brett and Matthew were there, making NYE even more fun.

Why I am molesting my darling cousin, I don’t know. And why do I look so old? Don’t answer that.
5. I got to spend time with my darling nieces over Zach’s birthday weekend and got to hair braid and pony tail make to my hearts content. That is what is great about having a sister who shares (the same can’t be said for Lauren; I am not a sharer), she just steps aside and let’s me dress the girls and fix their hair. My boy-only-having self needs that. A lot.  The weekend was a mess of screaming, shouting, running and eating. Someone was always pushing a shopping cart into the wall and “reading” books at the top of their lungs. My house is like that without any additional children, so it was just a bonus that the girls were running right along with my boys.
6. Christmas happened. Jack the Elf left (after becoming a ninja for Zach’s birthday), Santa came and everyone got everything they wanted. I am soooooo glad it is over, I don’t even want to re-hash it. 

Aren’t my children charming on Christmas morning?
7. I watched a lot of House of Lies and now have a total potty mouth, mainly in my head. They say the F word constantly and I don’t know why the moms I hang out with don’t. It seems so normal after watching 13 episodes. Please be warned if you are having a play date with me.
That is about it. You are caught up. But next time, please make more of an effort to let me know you missed me and your life is not complete without me. I can’t just guess that you are feeling this way.

How to make an ugly sign just OK

This was the sign I bought at Party City to use for James’ party.

Party Streamer Yard Sign 14in x 15in

Does that look the least bit on theme to you? Exactly. You can imagine my disappointment when this was my best option the day before the party. Oh I know it is a perfectly fine sign if I were having a New Year’s eve party or a general party. But not for a Noah’s ark themed party. It was like the time my sister tried to use this sign for her Cat the Hat themed first birthday party.

Hugs & Stitches Girl's 1st Birthday Yard Sign 14in x 16in

I sometimes am not 100% sure we are related.

We ended up covering that mess with squares in her theme and Chuck’s name. So I figured I could do the same for mine. But, of course, I was running low on time (icing rainbow cupcakes) and my sister suggested using the zebra duct table I bought for the waters (it looked like this) to cover the ribbons on the side.

And I realized she might be a secret crafting genius.

The reason it is just an OK sign? My handwriting.

So disappointing.

The cupcakes that stole the show

I had no idea when I made rainbow cupcakes for James’ party that it would garner such praise. They were very, very easy to make just a tad time intensive. But way less than rainbow cakes. I mean, the labor involved in that. Baking six layers of cake all dyed different colors, then leveling it and icing it? No thank you.

But I had made three color cupcakes last year for Mardi Gras (which I am shocked I did not blog about) so I thought, could I add three more colors with the same result? Worth a shot and it if they look terrible, we will just have solid color cupcakes in rainbow colors. I could live with that.

I just used two boxes of cake mix (I can’t be bothered to make it from scratch) and gel food color. I split the batter into six bowls.

Then just put about a tablespoon (those are the small spoons from my flatware set) in each liner layering in the colors of the rainbow. You can see the bottom three colors here.

My trusty sidekick insisted on sitting on the island next to me to “help”. Mainly he ate some old pretzels and pointed to each color saying, “Blue?”.

I baked the cupcakes for the amount of time on the box and they were perfect.

I only allowed the boys to eat one to test it. Well and Dewayne got a left over purple one too.

For the icing, again I did not make it, but did pipe the store bought version on the top of the cupcakes to look like a cloud. Well that is what my sister called it. Really it looked terrible until I nestled two of each kind of animal on top and one of the toppers (which Lita at Kindly Reply customized for me to print out). Dewayne and Lauren helped me identify the animals in the pack. It was not an easy task.

And while the icing was the least attractive part, that was the only part that James ate. But don’t get confused into thinking he was impressed by any of this nonsense. He would have preferred I put a plate of icing down in front of him and back slowly away.

Two years old and not impressed

You guys, my baby is two years old.

And no, you may not have one of his three “pops” he is clutching.

James turned two on Sunday and we had his party that afternoon out at Noah’s Ark Pool which is a super shallow wading pool complete with an ark in the center, slides, squirting water and a raining mushroom.

He loved it.

He actually did love it and spent the entire time either going down the slide with his grandpa,

Or belly flopping into the shallow water.

This is the move he does in any water at all. Imagine him doing this in two feet of water in the Y baby pool. Then imagine me leaping over people to grab my floating and trying to drown baby. Yeah, not pretty or fun. But at this pool, since it is only six inches deep, there was no issue.

Apparently there was a 60% chance of rain on Sunday. I had no clue. It sprinkled a bit around 11 and Lauren (who was in town) asked if it was supposed to rain, I looked at her like why would I know, so she checked on her phone. She turns to me and says, “Well there is a chance of rain.”, omitting that the chance was 50%. I would have lost my sh**. She is a smart one, my baby sister.

I think my optimist has rubbed off on me as I didn’t even bat an eye about “a chance”. It was not going to rain on my James’s party. She asked about my back up plans.

None.

We would just huddle under the pavilion and wait for it to pass. No one was coming back to my hot mess of a house, rainbow cupcakes or not.

Luckily there was no rain and a lot of his friends from school came as well as our friends with kids. I did a terrible job of taking photos of everyone and of the decoration. So let’s just close our eyes and picture it together, shall we?

Imagine six round tables with solid table covers, one for each color of the rainbow.
On top of those tables were balloons, also in rainbow colors. I had snack bowls in, again, rainbow colors and a super cute sign that looked like his invitation.
Do I have a photo of any of that? Of course not.

I do have a photo of James’s girl Stella drinking out of the water spout.

Many, many photos of children going down the water slides.

Photos of two of the four babies that were in attendance and ready to swim.

And copious photos of my rainbow cupcakes and James being unimpressed by them all. 

My crafting is seriously under appreciated. 
However my friends at the party gave me props for the cupcakes. Don’t worry those cupcakes will get their own post – that is how proud I am of them. (I know you are all just anxiously awaiting that post.) 
James was the last one out of the pool, Alex had to pull him out kicking and screaming. If you can’t have a giant fit on your birthday, when can you? Oh that is right every. single. day.
Welcome to the terrible two’s James! I know you have been gearing up for them!