Happy birthday, Mimi!

The “kids” in Jon’s family – meaning his brothers, sister-in-law and the two of us – realized ahead of our Rosemary Beach trip that it was likely to be our best chance at having everyone all together close to his mom’s birthday, which comes at the end of October. It’s a big milestone year for her, and we didn’t want to let the opportunity pass. She is a remarkably hard-working lady, who pours attention and care on the people around her and rarely has the opportunity to be cared for herself. It took some doing, but we managed to pull off a surprise birthday dinner at our rented beach house on Thursday night. The Sharp boys and their wives are all good cooks, and the team effort resulted in a bang-up Italian feast. There was homemade chocolate cake, a group gift and a reading of 60 reasons we love our mom and Mimi. The best part was her astonished delight at the whole affair, and the sense that we had managed to communicate a little of the love and appreciation we feel for her.

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I spy someone who wasn’t paying attention to the prayer… 

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Five years a super star

My baby turned five last week. I could say a lot about that, but I want to share some photos from her party, so I am going to hold my peace with the emotional musings for now. I settled on a super star/karaoke theme this year, because this girl loves to pretend pretty much anything is a microphone and put on her own little performances. Our gift to her was a karaoke machine, which she has proved more interested in using after the party than she was during the mayhem.

Details:
-Printable invitations and back stage passes from Etsy seller SIMONEmadeit
-Strawberry cake and strawberry whipped cream frosting recipes from Serious Eats (more on the cake below)
-Music and star garland made from patterns on thingiverse with daddy’s 3D printer

First: Birthday weekend with family

 

 

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S’mores!!

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And then: Party!

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Fresh strawberry cake and strawberry whipped cream frosting, per the birthday girl’s request. To be honest, it looked better than it tasted. The flavor of the cake was good and very complex, but it was dense and not very sweet. The light whipped cream wasn’t sweet or sturdy enough to pair well. I did appreciate the Serious Eats tutorials on leveling layers and crumb coats.

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Getting pink super star hair

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So, the star of the show may not have been all that into the karaoke action during her party. It’s okay, baby girl; even super stars get stage fright sometimes. 

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He called himself Mustache Man.

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We had a yogurt parfait bar for the girl who would eat yogurt for every meal. 

 

 

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Armed and dangerous

 

And so our girl has begun another year of life, and we got to celebrate the immeasurable joy she brings to our lives every day. We love you, Lina Bean. Happy five years.

Through the wardrobe

Corin turned seven on Saturday. I wrote my mushy post on Facebook, so I’ll skip the sentiment and get right to the good stuff: his Narnia party. We’d been reading Prince Caspian when he chose the theme, so he requested a Caspian costume that also worked for “favorite book character day” at school and will likely make a reappearance at Halloween. He put it on as soon as party day arrived and didn’t take it off until bedtime.

You may remember that Corin’s room is Narnia themed, so we were able to repurpose plenty, and some of the party decorations will live on upstairs. Inexplicably, I wasn’t all that on it with photos this year, so I missed documenting some things, including the little snow covered trees inside our wardrobe entrance, transported all the way from Georgia by my long suffering in-laws. But, here’s the best glimpse I have of our Narnia adventure.

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Corin’s favorite feature (that’s him lying on the pillow)  – the tent, a.k.a. the pavilion at Aslan’s How

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We tried story time in the tent, but a few paragraphs of A Horse and His Boy was all we could manage before attention waned. Let’s face it, everyone just wanted to get to the gifts.

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As Narnian a menu as I could conjure: cheese platter (clockwise from left: blueberry stilton, dill havarti, brie, English aged cheddar, mild goat), “venison” (rolled veggie turkey slices for our mostly vegetarian crowd), apples, berries, nuts, dried figs, raw veggies, lots of bread, butter and jam, and, under the dome, my first stab at Turkish delight.

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Corin was pretty stoked about the “royal cups.” It was high times drinking from stemware, even the kind that has to be assembled.

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Brownies and mint chocolate chip ice cream, as requested

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Celebrating our bookworm

I love my kids’ birthday parties. I love planning them, I love watching everyone enjoy them, I love the photos and memories afterward.

The theme for Lina’s 4th birthday party pretty well chose itself. You’ve never met a kid who loves books more than she does. A quick Pinterest search dug up a fantastic PBS resource for a book party, and we were off and running.

Lina understood what was happening much more this year. She talked for days about who was coming, and a party is just the thing for a girl who loves to be the center of attention. She loved the birthday song and blowing out her candle. She was able to do more with opening gifts, though she still needed lots of help. We served some of her favorite foods, and let me tell you, girlfriend can put away some chocolate cake and ice cream.

But enough talk. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

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Story time with the Village People

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Trying out a birthday present

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Anyone who’s seen Corin in the past couple days will have noticed his massive black eye. This is the exact moment of origin.

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Ben is six!

We’ll be celebrating Lina’s birthday this weekend, so those photos will be forthcoming. But she’s not the only kiddo in the family to have a birthday in September. My oldest nephew turned six a couple weeks ago, and we headed Chattanooga-way for the celebration. The cousins are close in age and have such fun together, which I like to think is building the foundation for a lifelong bond.

Happy sixth, Ben!

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Three for one more night

Tonight, for the last time in my parenting experience, I put a three-year-old to bed. Tomorrow, she will be four, and the girl who just weeks ago would rarely put two words together will hand me a book and say, “Mommy, help please. Read.” She will be excited for school in the morning, and when brother is too slow, she will yell up the stairs, “Corin! Come! Backpack! Bus!” She will belt out her made-up songs and dance with her reflection in the glass door. She will count to five or maybe even 10, and she might play hide-and-seek with brother. At some point, she’ll inevitably yell in astonishing volume at the unlucky soul who has crossed her purposes. She’ll laugh at silly faces and sibling antics. When she’s sleepy, she’ll rub my hair and suck her fingers and let me feel, just for a minute, that I have a baby still.

Tomorrow, she will do the million things she does every day to light up my world. But tomorrow, she will be four, and she will be just a little taller and just a little stronger and just a little wiser, and she will need just a little less of me. And I will be so proud and also sad, because I’m a mother, and it’s what we do.

Sleep well, baby girl. Another year begins tomorrow, and there are new worlds to conquer. I’ll be here with you, but just a little further back than I was yesterday.

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Start your (Mario Kart) engines!

Corin is old enough now to choose his own birthday party themes. I admit to a bit of trepidation on this front, but this year’s choice was manageable and fun, the win-win of kids’ parties. We still stick with mostly family parties, so both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins came to help us celebrate six years of Corin. The weather was COLD for the first official day of spring, but we made the most of our brief time outside and spent the rest of the time playing Mario Kart on the Wii, eating banana cake and ice cream and opening gifts. It was really fun. Seriously, I think my kids’ birthday parties are some of the best times of the year. I love watching them have a blast, and it’s such a great time with family.

But enough chit-chat, and on with the massive photo dump.

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Our newest addition, dad’s guide dog Honor, just home from training school.

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I think they love each other.