Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tis' the season...

We had a wonderfully busy and full holiday season! Besides having a baby shower and birthday party during December, we made our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm to cut down our own tree, welcomed my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and baby Donovan who were visiting from Vermont, made our second trip to the Polar Express, went to the Oregon Zoo to see the zoo lights and of course had Christmas celebrations with both of our families and our good friends.
We usually cut down our tree the first weekend after Thanksgiving, but with the baby shower this year, I didn't want a big tree in the middle of the room all the guests would be congregating in. So, we put it off until the next weekend. We had a big football game (the Civil War which is the two rival state colleges duking it out) on Saturday, but decided to go get our tree in the morning. The kids were so excited and it was a gorgeous (albeit a little cold) day for tree cutting. After wandering around for awhile, we found the perfect tree.

Z 'helping' Colin with the tree

The kids striking a pose on the tree farm ;o)

After the dust had settled from two parties in two weeks (someone lock me up if I consider doing that in the middle of the Christmas season again!), we excitedly awaited the arrival of my sister-in-law Ceara and her son, Donovan. I'm sure you remember me talking about them before... Donovan was born in March last year, and unfortunately we couldn't make it up to see the new family. We were thrilled to find out they would be coming up for Christmas! We couldn't wait to meet our new little nephew and see Ceara and her husband, Grant (who came up later) again. And, the kids hadn't seen Auntie Ceara since right after Avalee was born, almost two years! I was so worried Donovan about Donovan not being familiar with us, and not wanting to get too close. ;o) But, he came right over with a big ol' grin! In fact, the whole time they were here, he kept wanting me to hold him, pick him up or just play with him. Yay...he loves his Aunt Peggy! And, all the kids got along so well. Avalee just loved him, and I think thought we got her her own little doll...hehe. Donovan loved Z, as well, always trying to get his attention or show off for him. It was wonderful seeing them all play together, and made me wish that we all lived closer. During the time they were here, we all made a trip to Portland (my mother-in-law and father-in-law too) to ride the OHSU tram and check out the zoo lights. It was quite the adventure to ride the tram (a shuttle to the bus station, bus to OHSU then finally the tram) but a lot of fin too. After that, we headed to the zoo to check out the famed zoo lights. I've lived in Oregon my entire life, and have never seen them (though I've always wanted to!) so was pretty excited. We arrived just before dark, and encountered a small line to get in. The lights were gorgeous and the kids had so much fun! As we were leaving, we saw a HUGE line snaking all the way down the hill from the zoo! Apparently, everyone else got there right at dusk and was stuck in the big line. Thank goodness we made it there early...whew! After that, it was off to a delicious dinner at the Claim Jumper restaurant in Tualitin. After such a long day, both kids fell asleep on the way home.

My adorable nephew!

The kids (and Colin) getting to know each other!


Me with a couple of my favorite cuties; Avalee & Donovan!

We were also thrilled to make our second annual trip to Hood River to ride the Polar Express. We did this last year, and Z had so much fun. I was looking forward to this year, because I knew Avalee would really get into it too. We were a little nervous on our drive up, because it started snowing pretty heavily, and we were worried (without chains) we might not make it! Well, luckily we did and after checking in, even decided to take advantage of the snow; we found an empty schoolyard and had an impromptu snowball fight with the kids. Z and Grandma even built a little snowman. We decided to grab a bite to eat before our train ride, and it started snowing pretty heavily again. When we came back out after eating, there was about another inch of snow on the ground! Colin safely navigated us to the train station (about 5 miles from where we were) but it was slow going, and we made it just in time to board. The kids were very excited about going to the North Pole, and Avalee kept saying, “A train? A train!” After being served hot cocoa, cookies and signing some Christmas carols, we stopped in the north Pole so Santa could come aboard. The looks on the kids faces as they saw Santa waving to them from his house, then coming aboard the train was just priceless! Z was totally prepared for Santa, even knew what he was going to ask him for Christmas. I tried preparing Avalee for Santa (whom she had only briefly seen earlier in the month at the mall, and was not so impressed with) even asking if she knew what she was going to ask Santa for. Her response? “Books!” Yay, for my literary kiddos! She even told me, “Mama, I wuuuv Santa!” However, when Santa stopped by for a visit, Avalee had a change of heart. Santa still gave her a bell, and as he walked away, she says whispers, “I wuuv you, Santa!” Haha! After our visit with Santa, it was more carols then back to the train station. And, then for us, a long drive back home...but with some pretty happy kids!

All aboard & ready for an adventure!

Z checking out Santa just outside

Santa had just boarded & Avalee was pretty excited!

Christmas morning brought lots of fun surprises for everyone (new bikes for both kids!)! We always have Christmas morning just for our family to be together and open gifts. Wouldn't you know it, but this morning Z wasn't feeling well. When the kids came downstairs, Avalee went right to her bike and Z just went to the couch and lied down. After several minutes, he asked, “Is this my bike?” Poor boy! He was kind of out of it most of the morning, and ended up with a pile of presents in front of him, that had backed up! Of course, he was feeling well enough to present the first Christmas gift from him to Avalee; he had made her some homemade crayons and a coloring book. He was SO proud of his gift and couldn't wait to share it with her. It was extraordinarily sweet! And, after a dose of Tylenol, he started feeling much better and got into unwrapping all of his gifts. Of course, Avalee had to give him the gift she got him, which was a sweatshirt she found at Target and declared, "I wuuv it! Want it for Z! Buy it for Z! I wuuuuv it! Pay it, Mommy, ok?" So, like Z, she was pretty excited to give him her gift. I just love that both kids really got into the giving so well!

Z helping Avalee with her gift from him

He was SO excited to give her the crayons he made!


Z just gave me a pair of earrings (that match the necklace he game me for my birthday)

Later in the morning, my parents and sister came over to exchange gifts. After that, we all headed to breakfast, which a been a tradition with my family since I was a baby.
After breakfast, it was back home to load up some more gifts and head to my MILs. We spent sometime with everyone, exchanging gifts and having dinner before Ceara, Grant and Donovan had to leave on the red eye back home.
The next day we had our best friends, Liz, Brendan and their daughter Madi over (we have a tradition that they come over for 'Christmas' and we go to their house for New Years Eve). We had our usual make-your-own pizzas then hung out and opened presents. It was a lot of fun as usual, especially watching the kids together. Madi and Avalee are at such a fun age now, and they were playing together, tickling each other and just giggling all night. Very cute!

Giggly girlies!

Havin' fun!

Goodbye hugs!

So, that was our Christmas season. We were kept busy all month, but we wouldn't have had it any other way!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rock 'n Roll, baby!


So, you may have seen me mention that my best friend and her hubby are expecting a baby. They have an adorable little girl now, Miss Madi, who is about as girly as they come! This time around, they are expecting a boy and, befitting his name, Halen (Dad is a HUGE Van Halen fan), we settled on a rock star themed baby shower.
I was pretty excited about this shower, because it was definitely something different than what I had done before. I felt pretty confident about it, then when it came time to start putting everything together, I hit a wall. Panic set in, because I just couldn't seem to come up with what I wanted; a cool, but classy shower that was different, yet not too edgy (didn't want to scare the old people...hehe).
After a nice stroll through Target and Michaels, I got it all figured out!
Of course, I used a lot of guitars throughout the shower. I got my inspiration online (sorry, totally forgot where!) for the guitar template, and used both the Guitar Hero guitar and my son's play guitar (from Target). I was able to trace them onto foam board and use them around (a couple welcomed guests on the front door, two more were over the food table and one was for guests to sign).
I also went with a lot of glitter. This wasn't intentional, but after glittering a couple things, I really liked the feel it gave to everything. I decided to run with it, and created my own glittered candles plus some of the guitars.
And, finally to achieve that classy feel I wanted, I filled a couple big vases with some black marbles and red and white carnations. Those sat on either end of my mantle and in the middle was a large picture frame with photos taken by Halen's dad, Brendan (who is an awesome photographer!). I really loved the way it all came together and I felt satisfied that it captured the mood I was going for.
For the activities, I went with a bib/onesie decoration project for the guests. I had stamps, stencils and fabric paint for them to come up with their own creations. I have to say that I was actually surprised at how well they turned out and how much fun everyone had in creating them. This is definitely a must at future showers! Besides that, I kept it pretty simple with a bingo game the guests played while mommy-to-be was unwrapping gifts.
All-in-all, I think it turned out to be a great shower and I had a ton of fun planning it!
I hope you enjoyed it, Liz, and I'm ready for the next one, whenever you are! ;o)
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Avalee is two!


I can't believe that we're already at birthday number two for my baby girl, but here it is!
We (okay, me) decided on a mermaid theme this year, and I think it turned out really well. I had hoped Miss A would wear her mermaid costume from Halloween during her party, but she turned into quite the rebel and decided she didn't want to. Actually, she started just stripping it off during the party until we finally relented and got her something else to wear (to be fair to her, she did tell us several times she didn't want it on...). It would've have been SO cute, but oh well.
So, we had lots of fun decorating sugar cookies (starfish for the boys and mermaids for the girls), playing dress-up, doing sand art, and 'fishing (thanks for being our fishy, Mom!).' Of course, we also had some yummy food and cake too!
I decided to turn the living room into an under the sea scene; we hung blue streamer across the ceiling to look like waves, then added strips of green streamers to look like seaweed to the entryways. I also added mermaids here and there with some bubbles, to really give the feel that we we in the ocean. I was really happy with how all the decorations (thanks to Liz and her Cricut again!) turned out and that it pretty much all came together how I wanted.
And, Avalee's favorite part of the day, of course, was unwrapping presents. I wasn't sure how well she would get into it, since last year she wasn't so interested in opening her presents. But she started tearing them open right away! I think she truly loved everything she got, but the highlights were definitely the magnetic Tinkerbell dress up doll, mermaid Mrs Potato Head, a new baby that moves and makes sounds and her own stroller (she loves her bff Madi's strollers!).
After the party was over, and most of our guests had left, we realized we had forgotten to turn on the bubble machine...oops! So, we cranked it up and the kids (Z, Avalee and Madi) had a blast dancing, playing and trying to catch bubbles. It was the perfect end to the day!
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Monster Party; It's in the details...

As I mentioned in my previous post, this year's party theme was chosen by Zavion himself, and was 'Monster Bash.' Also, as I mentioned earlier, I made pretty much everything myself. I had so much response from what I did from so many people, that I thought I would go though what I did here to show everyone a little of the 'magic' behind how I did some (and, hey, maybe someone just might be inspired by something I did...maybe)!
So, without further ado, here are some pictures of my boy's special day...

Some of the decorations...

I always try to make a sign for the guests as they come in the front door. This was one of my easiest, since I was able to use a piece of scrapbook paper the base of the sign. Add some letters (courtesy of my bff's Cricut) and some monster eyeballs, and my favorite a mini feather boa to look like monster fur (from Micheal's) & voila!

I wasn't super-thrilled with how this turned out. I think I took too much time cutting out those darn 5s & the Z from the foam board (turns out foam board is not so easy to cut through) and lost focus of the 'big picture.' I realized a few days later why it seemed so...blah...I was going to make some monsters to kind of go between the pic frames & totally forgot...oops!
So, what I did do: the frames are holding pics from each of Z's birthdays then #5 is on the wall behind. At the last minute, I realized I had some extra 'fur' (more of those mini boas from Micheal's) so added that to the bottom of my candles than taped an eye to each of them. Funny because I think I got more compliments on those than anything else!

A closer shot of the 5s & Z...I think they turned out pretty cute!
Oh, I grabbed these adorable monster buckets (and the matching picture frames) from the Target dollar I said, I love a bargain! ;o)

I decided I wanted a pennant style birthday banner this year, and love how it turned out! This was a pretty basic design:
I cut out the triangles (green textured scrapbook paper with the patterned scrapbook on top) by hand, but used the Cricut again to cut out the letters. The monsters were a bit more time consuming. The monsters I got from a birthday card (just scanned onto the computer) and tile printed. Then I taped the pieces together and had to fill in the colors with Sharpies (the time consuming part!).

Just a piece of 'fur' with some googly eyes thrown on. I would have liked to have had more fur, but at $10/yd (yikes!) and my really long table, it just wasn't very feasible.

The food...

My favorite thing from the party! I made these paper cones (using direction from over at Hostess With The Mostest) and filled them with green caramel corn (just added some green food coloring to the caramel as it was cooking). Then I put them in a candy corn filled shadow box (bought from Micheals) that I had covered with more 'fur.'

Another shot of the caramel corn cones. The kids loved being able to just grab these & walk around munching on caramel corn!

I thought I had a genius idea to make mini caramel apples, but it turned out there are several sources out there that had already done it (including Family Fun) I foll wed the advice from some of the commenters who suggested using caramel apple wrappers to make it stick better to the apple. That seemed to work pretty well...the only problem was keeping them cool enough for the caramel to not melt. I put mine in the freezer, but then the apples got a little soggy after they thawed. So, I'd say it's best to make these right before you're going to serve them.

And...the FUN!

Zavion requested apple bobbing as a party game...
Oh, and I bought these adorable (and perfectly sized!) tins in the Target dollar sections for $2.50/ea.

It was lots of fun!

Monster bingo! I bought this bingo pack at Target during last year's ('09) Halloween clearance).

The kids got to color & decorate their own monster masks. They had these adorable books of masks (all different themes too; Wild animals, pirates, etc) at Joanne's Fabric for only $1!

And, 'monster mash', which was basically musical chairs. We let the kids dance to some monster themed music (Monster Mash, Purple People Eater...) then stopped the music for the traditional musical chairs. The kids enjoyed really getting to bust some moves!

I was watching Oprah the day before Z's party, and who was on but Martha Stewart herself. Well, she was showing off her fancy shredding scissors & inspiration struck! I thought it would be a cute way to jazz up the plain loot bags for the kids. So, I used my plain (non-fancy) scissors to 'shred' the bags, than added monster faces (using scraps of paper from the other projects). I was very happy with how they turned out!

So, there you have it! That's how I made the monster party happen! Hope you enjoyed looking through my pics and ideas! :)
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