Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pic of the Day

Realizing that the time to order Christmas cards is upon us, and not having a good family shot to use, I corralled my family into a quick backyard photo shoot this afternoon. I have pretty good luck with the autotimer shots on my camera, setting it to take five shots in rapid succession (so if somebody's eyes are closed in one, chances are they're not in the next).

We got a couple good family shots, and then I took a bunch of the girls too, since they were dressed up and the leaves in the yard were so pretty.

Here's my favorite shot of the day:

 It embodies their relationship so well. (As does the fact that two seconds later, she was screaming to be put down!)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Claire's Harvest Party

Claire turned two on Nov. 1, and we had her fun farm/harvest-themed party on Nov. 2. We've been on the go quite a bit since then, thus the delay in sharing the details, but it was really so darling, I can't wait to tell you about it.

I ordered the invitations off Etsy, and just adore them. The designer tweaked them (free of charge) to my color scheme of pink, orange, and yellow.

Since we have way too many toys as it is, we asked for food for our church's food pantry in lieu of gifts, and I collected all our CSA boxes from the farmer's market all summer to have a thematic receptacle for all those non-perishables! (I took that pic before the party even started--we collected about ten whole boxes and bags full!)

For the decor, I used pennant banners in pink, orange, and yellow, as well as some burlap (made that wreath with an easy tutorial and plan to switch out the embellishments to use for other seasons), a scrap of yellow gingham picnic tablecloth I had around, and some bright, casual flowers.

A friend introduced me to the word "tablescape" when it came to my party decor, and while it sounds hilariously pretentious, I think this party was my favorite "tablescape" yet! I left it up for days and smiled every time I passed through the dining room.
I made this little photo box displaying a couple favorite photos from our trip to the farm a few weeks ago. The box, before I painted it, was a purple Melissa & Doug toy package—those little divided wooden containers M&D toys come in are the best. We have one in the girls' bathroom to hold the thousand little hair elastics we have. Anyway, they also make great shadow boxes!

And, for fun, I printed out some fall- and farm-themed coloring sheets and put them out with some pumpkin-shaped crayon rings I found at Target.

I'm not the greatest cook in the world, so I've made it a policy to only tackle one complicated food item per party. Something always goes wrong, requiring a do-over or at least a last-minute run to the grocery store, so I really don't have time to deal with more than one high-maintenance food. Usually, it's the cake—Kate's ice cream cone cupcakes and Claire's rainbow smash cake were the focus in past years.

This time, I really wanted to try these carrot-shaped sandwiches I saw on Pinterest. So, I ordered the cake from Publix and kept all the other food simple so I could focus on these sandwiches.
Basically, you wrap crescent dough around ice cream cones, brush it with an orange-tinted egg wash, and bake. The complication was getting the cones out—parchment paper between the cone and dough helped, but made them take much longer to bake. I stuffed mine with egg salad and chicken salad. They were very tasty and made such a neat visual impact.

Publix did a lovely job with the cake, and I just did caramel apples (store-bought), candy corn, a veggie tray, my spinach-artichoke dip that I make for everything, and fruit salad in a watermelon-basket. The watermelon might have qualified as a second "complicated" food item that might have gone terribly wrong, but I told myself it's no big deal because if I screwed it up, I'd just put the fruit in a bowl and all's well. It was actually pretty easy, though, so that was cool.

The Birthday Girl
Last, but certainly not least, let me update you on my sweet Claire at age two! She's still so serious sometimes, then a complete ham once she loosens up. She imitates Kate's every word and move, and they are the best of friends.
Sober, then smiley.
She's about average in size, tracking a bit shorter than Kate was at this age, with straight, straw-colored hair. I call her "Sister Golden Hair" after the old song, since she's got the closest thing to blond hair in our family.

I know some of you are wondering about Claire's obsessive love of nursing, and how the weaning process has gone. I quit pumping at one year, thinking it would just phase itself out, but Claire was still intent on nursing whenever she was with me, and the milk held out. Around 18 months, I began to resist nursing in public, and as we got closer to two, it was strictly night-time only: bedtime and if she woke in the night. She started taking a sippy of water to bed, voluntarily alternating her beverage of choice (me or the cup) while we rocked and sang before bed. She was born at 10:21 pm, so I felt bedtime on her birthday was still fair game for our last nursing, which was sentimental for me too, as I've loved being able to nurse Claire.

I intended that to be the last, but when she woke up at 1:30 am, the need to get us both back to sleep trumped my willpower. So, the "rule" now is middle-of-the-night-only. She's been sleeping through the night better lately, so it's gotten pretty rare. 

Claire's favorite foods are peanut butter and baked beans. She'll eat PB by the spoonful, and will eat beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if she can. Right on cue, she loves Elmo and Abby, even though she doesn't see Sesame Street near so often as Kate did at that age. She loves to play with baby dolls and anything Kate is playing with. She still loves technology and tinkering—games on my phone and the screwdriver in my desk drawer are both fun playthings. She sings songs like "Happy Birthday" and the ABCs, counts to ten (sometimes skipping 5, 6, and 7, but who's counting?) and can do a forward roll like her gymnast sister.

Happy birthday, Clairy-Bear! We're so excited you're TWO!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Matt and I always say we're glad we moved to Clarksville a year before having Kate. (The phrase "glad we moved to Clarksville" is practically unheard of in our house, and applies only in the context I'm about to explain.) What we mean is, after our years in Nashville, where we went out frequently in the evenings with Div School friends, enjoying pub trivia and "Two-fer Tuesdays" at the Red Door, 18 months of nights by ourselves at home playing board games and watching Netflix movies helped ease us into the more sedate lifestyle of parenthood.

Occasionally, when we're out on a rare mommy & daddy date night, I'll glance at the young professionals gathering at the bar and think, "ah, wouldn't it be fun to hang out at the after-work watering hole with other yuppies?"

I'm up in Louisville right now for work. I recently took a new job doing acquisitions for Westminster John Knox Press. So, I'll be up here for a few days each month. This being my hometown, my parents are glad, and sometimes I'll even bring a child or two or three! Claire is with me this time, hanging with my mom right now, and I couldn't wait to get back to her after a day in the office.

Then the car wouldn't start. And my cell phone battery is dead (as usual). And my boss' battery couldn't jump it. And my parents' AAA won't cover me even though it's their car that is dead.

So, here I am, holed up in a pub across the street from the office while I wait for my dad to come rescue me. I'm drinking chardonnay and intending to do some editing work on a freelance project. The dark bar makes the computer's glow on my face all that more annoying, I imagine, to the young, water-holing professionals trying to blow off the day's stress around me. I tried the pub next door, but found it already full. This place was practically empty when I came in, but not so anymore. It's everyone's second choice, I guess. I feel like an oddball, but with enough confidence to deal with it. I caught a guy staring. . . and then spotting my wedding rings.

Here I am, in the bar after work, and I just want to be home with my baby.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Garden Family

As I said in my Halloween preview, it was a rainy Halloween, so we didn't trick-or-treat until Friday the first. The girls had worn their costumes a few times, but Matt and I didn't add our elements until trick-or-treating time.

We were a "garden family," since my girls were bugs, and our foster baby was a sweet pea. So, Daddy became the gardener (a more rednecky one than I intended, but he can't resist wearing his nasty bubba teeth on Halloween!) and I was the flower bed!

I found Claire's ladybug costume at a consignment sale for just a few dollars, and found the antennae headband in Gymboree's clearance bin for 75 cents (actually, there was a big sale going on, so I think it rang up for just 49 cents or so!)The soft antennae pieces didn't stand up well, so I wrapped a black pipe cleaner around it to make it stand up.

Kate's costume was more piecemeal, with gorgeous monarch butterfly wings I found on Amazon, a black leotard and tights from a consignment sale, antennae crafted from a headband and pipe cleaners, and a tutu I made with black tulle and ribbons to coordinate with her wings.

I know you're dying to see BGC as the sweet pea, too...
I found her costume at a consignment sale too, right after she came to us, and had a hunch she would still be with us for Halloween! I've always loved that costume, but my girls were both walking by the time of their first Halloweens!

We have a tradition of crafting treat bags each year to coordinate with their costumes, usually out of a paper gift bag that we can just throw away afterwards. I had these little canvas bags from somewhere, so we painted them to coordinate.

We walked around with our neighbors--who, fittingly, were a family of garden gnomes!--and the little girls walked hand-in-hand down the street. It was so cute!

Hope you had a happy Halloween too! After trick-or-treating on her actual birthday, Claire's harvest-themed party was Saturday. I'll share pics soon!


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