Me: Arlo, what happened to the side of your face?!?
Everly: a bahsneeto (mosquito) bit him!
Me: Arlo, what happened to the side of your face?!?
Everly: a bahsneeto (mosquito) bit him!
We celebrated Arlo’s birthday last weekend with a dinosaur themed party and it was a blast! For months, I’d been squirreling away dinosaur themed party decorations as I came across them. We never know quite how it will all look when we put all the ideas together, so it’s fun to stand back before the guests arrive and take a look at the final result. (And a big thank you to my mom this year for helping!) To save money, I kept the colors similar to his party last year, so that we could reuse as much as possible.
I wanted some sort of dinosaur landscape as a backdrop, so I took a sheet and used colored duct tape to make a linear, palm tree and volcano background. The table skirt was a couple of cheap grass skirts that I picked up at the dollar store and I found a great deal on Meri Meri party supplies on Zulily - so I purchased the big stegasaurus on the table, a few banners, and party bags. I’ve ordered both of the kids a personalized birthday banner this year that I plan to re-use every year going forward. I really like this chalkboard inspired one from Minted.com.
I’m not much of a baker, but I like making my own cakes for the kid’s parties. For Arlo’s birthday I used a simple boxed chocolate cake and then added fresh strawberries and homemade buttercream. As a topper, I ordered a wooden T-Rex skeleton puzzle off Amazon (full disclosure: it was a pain to put together!) and made a little party hat for it to wear. It was simple - but the results brought lots of smiles!
His party was at 3pm, so we kept the food simple. Mini sandwiches, fruit, veggies and dip, cheese and crackers and munchies like pretzels, chips, goldfish, nuts and dried fruit. I snagged a bunch of Arlo’s toy dinosaurs out of his room to decorate the platters.
The dollar store and the party section of Target our my favorite places to find inexpensive goodie bag toys. Arlo’s friends took home mini tambourines, dinosaur stickers, bubbles, finger skateboards, and a sweet treat.
The forecast was calling for thunderstorms mid afternoon, so we were hesitant to set up much in the yard. Instead, I moved the kid craft table to the porch. We had two activities - little wooden dinosaur cutouts I found at the dollar store that the kids could color with markers and I carved potatoes into dinosaur feet stamps so that the children could put them in washable paint and stamp paper with “dinosaur tracks”. We blew up a couple of inflatable dinosaurs to welcome our guests and attached balloons. The kids at the party loved playing with them.
A “live” velociraptor made a brief appearance at the party, but I worried about Bailey overheating, so she didn’t wear it long. It was definitely good for a laugh!
The storms held off all afternoon and our yard and home was filled with family and friends. Having a fenced in front yard makes for a great kid-safe area to play - so we put out tricycles, scooters and yard toys. We also had out Arlo’s new sandbox with lots of digging toys and buried dinosaurs.
Singing happy birthday to our big two year old! Arlo’s personality is a bit more reserved and he is much more shy than his big sister, because of this, he doesn’t always command the spotlight. It was really sweet to see his face light up as he realized that every part of this day was all about HIM! He was so happy when we all sang happy birthday and blew out his candles on the first try!
A favorite shot from the day - complete with a cake mustache and a new hat he got for his birthday. (Arlo is on his way to having the coolest hat collection ever.)
I’ve talked about this before - but we always encourage our guests to bring a donation instead of a gift to our children’s parties. (Our kids have so much already.) It’s a great way to teach Everly and Arlo about giving to others and help out a great cause. For Arlo’s birthday this year, we chose to collect pet supplies and are dropping it all off with a local rescue group next week.
It was just a wonderful day and the perfect celebration for the sweetest little boy in our lives. Arlo brings so much joy and happiness to our family and we cherish every opportunity we get to celebrate him. I can’t believe another year came and went so fast - before you know it, we’ll be here again, watching him blow out three candles as he runs off his sugar buzz. Until then, we count our lucky stars for every day we get to watch him grow.
We love you Arlo Redding! Hooray for turning two!
I didn’t turn on the news last night and mostly stayed away from social media, so it wasn’t until this morning that I learned of the devastation that occurred in Moore, Oklahoma yesterday afternoon.
I watched this video this morning on my phone while the children sat at my feet watching cartoons. Quiet tears ran down my face as I watched parents break down in relief as they were reunited with their children. My heart seized for those calling out their children’s names in the chaos - searching for their faces in the battered crowd. In times of tragedy, so often I find it hard to even comprehend what that experience must be like for those going through it. That overwhelming fear. The desperate prayers, hoping that your loved ones are unharmed. I often consume the experiences of others by relating it to what I know - but even attempting to imagine the terror of trying to find my children in that sort of nightmare scenario is more than my mind will allow.
Everly saw me fighting tears and asked me why I was crying. I always struggle with how or if I should talk to my children about tragedies. They are so young and I don’t want to scare them or cause them to worry. One of the great beauties of childhood is that for most, there is still that naive comfort in not yet understanding or experiencing heartbreak, disaster, or cruelty. So, I chose my words carefully and told her that some people were hurt because of a big storm and I was feeling sad for them.
I don’t know where I am going with this. I just wanted to write something out loud…to join the choir of millions of Americans and those around the world who are heartbroken for the families who lost everything, some including their lives, to this storm. If you would like to do something to help, please consider making a donation to the Red Cross or text the words “red cross” to 90999. If you are not financially able to contribute, please consider making an appointment at your local Red Cross Blood Center to give blood.
Sending all the love and prayers I have today, as far and as wide as they can go.
Brent and I decided early on that we wanted to get Arlo a sandbox for his second birthday, as he and Everly always enjoy playing in the ones at our local parks. Late last month, I spent some time researching options online looking for one that would fit our needs. For aesthetic reasons, I wanted a wooden sandbox since it would be in our front yard. I also wanted something that would keep Arlo shaded and I kept thinking that if it was mobile, it would be nice not to have to kill what little grass we have (and the green weeds that we like to pretend is grass).
I really loved the design of the Badger Basket Sandbox because it features a lid that covers the entire box but plays double duty as it folds up into two bench seats. I looked at a lot of different models, but the functionality and price ($119) for this cedar model was my favorite. We purchased the kit to build our own and sent mama the dimensions and asked her if she could design a way to make it mobile.
She drove down to Raleigh for Arlo’s birthday party and when she showed me what she had made, I was absolutely thrilled. Her design has five wheels and a long tow rope so that we can move it around the yard. She painted the base bright red to give it some color. She put the sandbox kit together and then attached it to the base with L brackets. Before we added the sand, we drilled holes in the platform base, and then added a layer of mesh outdoor gardening fabric so that water could drain through, but the sand would stay put if it rained.
(Mama and her finished sandbox)
The result was a beautiful sandbox that can be wheeled around to shady parts of the yard as the day progresses that won’t destroy the ground cover underneath. It’s heavy with the sand, but it works great!
At Arlo’s dinosaur party on Saturday (a post to come on that tomorrow!) we filled it full of plastic dinosaurs and dino skeletons and it was a huge hit with the kids in attendance as they practiced being little paleontologists. Some of them stayed put for thirty minutes or more as they happily dug!
The only downside is that now I’ve got to learn to come to terms with the layer of sand that I’ve found in the house since it arrived!
My mom can build anything out of wood. Our house is full of tables and shelves and bowls and even cupcake stands that she has made based off a simple photo or idea I sent her way. She’s like my own personal Bob Vila!
I was just so proud of this that I wanted to share it on my blog.
(On a trip to Target to pick out a special prize for being well behaved. Arlo had already chosen a toy motorcycle and we were browsing the doll aisle)
Everly: Mama, instead of a toy, can I pick out a new pair of shoes?
Me: Shoes instead of a toy? Are you sure?
Everly: Yes. Sparkly ones. They need to have sparkles.
Me: This is proof we are soul mates.
(While watching a Disney commercial that featured a little boy who was talking about his heritage. He looked into the camera and said, “I’m Native American, Irish American and African American”)
Everly’s response: Whoa! That’s a lot of Americans!
This morning, with my face smushed in a pillow, a three year old raked her fingers through my hair and said “Mommy. Daddy said to let you sleep in. Are you sleeping?”
I said yes.
And she said “OK. Tell me when you wake up.”
Some time later, Brent set a cup of coffee on the night stand.
I yawned, grabbed my bathrobe and Everly and I made biscuits for breakfast.
We took advantage of the sunshine and walked to church. This week, there was a mandolin and a bongo in the band and we sang my favorite, “How great thou art.”
We ate lunch with family.
Arlo and I held hands and admired the flowers in grammy’s garden.
We came home and planted my Mother’s Day yellow rose bush in the front yard.
Brent painted our front door red.
That’s what I asked for. A red door.
And while I washed the babies and put them in their jammies, he put on the last coat.
Then we all stood in the front yard, eyes towards our house, admiring it.
After bed time stories and bed time prayers, I laid in bed with Everly for a little while. We do this thing, where she will wrap her arms tightly around my neck and refuse to let go when it’s time for me to say goodnight. She always says “I’ll never let go!” and then she waits for me to say it back in my dramatic movie voice “I’ll never let go, Jack!” and then she says it that way too and we both giggle.
Tonight, I promised to let her watch the movie Titanic when she is a teenager so that she will one day understand the reference.
coffee. hymns. family. a red front door and my favorite goodnight ritual.
I can think of no better day to celebrate this day.
Happy Mother’s day!
(Practicing our proper curtsy technique before I left for work)
Last week, Everly came home from school with a construction paper card she made in class, inviting me to attend the Mother’s Day tea party at her preschool. Her smile was huge as she proudly presented it to me and after I read it and told her I would be honored to attend, she whispered, “Mama. We’re gonna have sweets! Cookies and everything!”
All week leading up to it, she would tell me at random times, “Happy Mudders day!” and sing parts of the songs that her class had been learning for the occasion.
Wednesday morning, we took the opportunity to dress up a bit and gave her a big hug before heading off to work for a few hours. I’ll see you soon, I promised.
I flew into the parking lot of her school at 11:14, rushing to get inside before the program started. I had been on back to back conference calls all morning and had scrambled to make it from my office to her school for the 11:15am start. My heels clicked loudly on the wooden floors of the quiet sanctuary, full of other mothers waiting for the program to begin. A few turned to look at me and I tried to hide my flushed face behind my hair. I felt a little embarrassed that I was the last one.
Everly searched for me as her class filed in, and waved proudly once she spotted me. I may have just barely made it, but as long as I was there in enough time for her to see me sitting in the pew, I was happy. She sang all of the songs, complete with hand motions, until they reached the second to last song. At which point, she just burst into tears and started crying ” Mommy! Mommy!” in the middle of the group.
I stepped to the side of the aisle and her music teacher picked her up and brought her over to me. “She’s usually one of my best singers!” her teacher said. Once she was in my arms, she immediately wiped her tears, smiled and said “That singing was taking too long.” I had to stifle my laughter when I realized her dramatics were because she was tired of singing and was ready to hang out with me. This little rascal of mine!
She laid down in the pew next to me, looking up at the cathedral ceilings and listening to the other children sing. “That was beautiful!” she announced at the end of the last song, and clapped along with me.
From there, we walked hand in hand to her classroom, where her teachers had prepared a delicious spread of chicken salad sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit, and crackers.
All week, Everly and her classmates had been working on all sorts of crafts for Mother’s Day. She gave me one card to open there, one to save until Mother’s Day on Sunday, and a little container she decorated full of hershey’s kisses. “We’re gonna share this, right mama?” she asked as she handed over the candy.
We ate our lunch together, cheersing her pink lemonade with my sweet tea and chatted with some of the other families in attendance. It’s always such a pleasure to sit down and talk with Everly’s teacher as I don’t get to interact with them much since Brent takes her to and from school most days. I am just so proud of my little girl and the kind comments I received from her teachers and friends.
Brent and Arlo met us at the end of the party so that he could carry her home and I could head back to work. I left with my arms full of beautiful, construction paper gifts from my sweet girl.
The rest of my day at the office was just as hectic as my morning, but that precious hour I spent with Everly, watching her sing and crouched next to her in a tiny classroom chair as we shared lunch, kept me smiling.
So much of my life is a balancing act, a constant attempt to keep everything moving forward and on track. It’s nice every now and then to take some time to be intentionally slow and purposeful. To nibble crackers with my daughter and wipe strawberry juice off her chin or allow myself to be a few minutes late to an afternoon call because I was pinning up her new artwork at my desk.
It’s those breaks in an otherwise full speed day that help me to take in the goodness I have in my life. I’m so thankful to be a mother and to have a job I love and a family who supports me while I find the balance in both.