Lina’s Bakery & Sweet Shoppe

We celebrated Lina’s 6th birthday on Sunday. The theme came naturally for a girl who never met a sweet she didn’t like. In fact, when I asked her what she wanted to eat at her party, she rattled off “cake and pie and ice cream…” So, we threw dietary caution to the wind and fulfilled her wish.

This was the first year I could see her really anticipating the party and presents. She knew what was coming, and the day of the party, she was ready. She was thrilled to see her family and friends, dug into the cake (literally, on a mission to excavate every morsel of frosting), tore into the packages and loved her gifts. She had a blast, and so did we.

IMG_2927

IMG_2931

IMG_2949

IMG_2963

Now We Are Six

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three,
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

-A. A. Milne

————————————————————————————

She is six today.

The poem is from A. A. Milne’s Now We Are Six. It made me cry. A lot of things make me cry lately.

There are times when I wish I could grab Lina, take her home and never leave again. Here in the safety of our cocoon, I can delight in my affectionate, smart, funny, sassy girl. She can be fully herself, and we can ignore the pressures of the world outside our door.

Last night 5

Last night as a five-year-old

I cried over that poem, because for a moment, I wanted it to be possible and knew it wasn’t. My girl is growing. She is six today, but even if we both wished, she would not stay six for ever and ever. She will grow, and I cannot keep her here with me.

And I am glad. Through my little bit of heartbreak, I am glad she is growing. The dreams we have for her are much bigger than our cocoon. Soon, she will dream bigger dreams for herself. She will own more and more of this precious life she has been given. She is a kindergartner now, and that larger sphere can feel pretty scary. But an ever expanding world is where she belongs. She is making her place there. Of course there are bumps and challenges, and yes, there is hard work every step of this journey, for all of us. But we are not alone.

Every morning, God gives me courage and wisdom for the day. Every morning, He walks with both my children as they enter those big elementary school doors. He has provided us with a village of epic proportions. The teachers and aides guiding Lina, the parents and advocates paving the way, the friends listening to my fears and talking me back to reason, the extended family walking with us… They make it all possible, one step at a time.

Lina is six today. She is a gift, to me and to the wider world that awaits her. There are big things ahead. Maybe that’s A. A. Milne’s point. Six is more than five, and five more than four. Every year, she is bigger, more clever, more herself.

 

Happy birthday, Eline Katherine. Six is just a start. Go, make the world your own. We’ll be here, a little tearful, but so very proud.

Welcome to the jungle: Corin turns 8

Corin loves monkeys and requested a jungle party this year. My brother’s family came for the weekend, which meant lots of great cousin time for the kiddos. March 18 fell on a Sunday, so we got to celebrate on his actual birthday with the family and a few friends from school. We had a great time, and I enjoyed getting to know his friends a little better. They are sweet kids, and I loved seeing how much fun Corin had with them. The day started cloudy and cold, but the sun came out just long enough for the party. It was a great start to a new year of life for the boy who made me a mama.

Also: A huge thank you to all the family who pitched in and helped me pull everything together. I could NOT have gotten it done alone.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1698

 

 

IMG_1792

Here comes the Spiderman

This is an embarrassingly overdue post, but I finally got photos edited from my oldest nephew’s birthday on September 3. Ben turned seven, and we had a Spiderman-themed family celebration. The kids always have a blast together. I grew up living a long distance from my cousins, so I am grateful that my brothers’ kids and mine are close in age and have the opportunity to spend so much time together. This is the stuff of great childhood memories.

IMG_9810

IMG_9836

IMG_9868

IMG_9869

IMG_9872

IMG_9892

I love what an expressive gift opener Ben is:

You say lollipop, she says microphone…

IMG_9941

IMG_9953

IMG_9961

We may have worn these guys out…

IMG_9962

IMG_9964

IMG_9970

IMG_9976

IMG_9988

IMG_9989

Silly string!

IMG_0013

IMG_0039

IMG_0045

IMG_0067

Ben mastered his two-wheel bike on his birthday!

IMG_0076

We spent some time in downtown Chattanooga before heading home.

IMG_0086

IMG_0087

IMG_0093

IMG_0096

IMG_0098

IMG_0102

IMG_0122

IMG_0239

IMG_0242

IMG_0244

IMG_0247

IMG_0256

IMG_0264

IMG_0271

IMG_0279

IMG_0286

IMG_0283

 

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.

IMG_0778

IMG_0779

IMG_0781

IMG_0782

IMG_0783

IMG_0786

IMG_0788

IMG_0790

IMG_0792

IMG_0797

IMG_0798

IMG_0802

IMG_0806

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

IMG_0807

IMG_0809

IMG_0818

IMG_0826

IMG_0828

IMG_0832

IMG_0840

 

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

 

 

IMG_0313

S’mores!!

IMG_0315

And then: Party!

IMG_0429 (2)

Version 3

IMG_0322IMG_0323

IMG_0332

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.

IMG_0326

 

 

IMG_0344

Getting pink super star hair

IMG_0348

IMG_0351

 

 

IMG_0370

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. 

IMG_0379

IMG_0381

He called himself Mustache Man.

IMG_0385

IMG_0387

IMG_0388

IMG_0389

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

 

 

IMG_0405

 

IMG_0413

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.

IMG_0503 (1)   Version 2

IMG_9328

IMG_9300

IMG_9262

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

IMG_9276

IMG_9282

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.

IMG_9279

IMG_9296

IMG_9292

IMG_9302

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.

IMG_9307

IMG_9308

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

IMG_9312

Brownies and mint chocolate chip ice cream, as requested

IMG_9315   IMG_9317

IMG_9321

IMG_9326