Amelie’s Panda Party that she didn’t want

You guys, Amelie turned three! Last year, I planned a dinosaur party for her and this year, I decided on PANDAS.

Because! Pandas are so cute! Because “Panda Party” alliteration! Because black and white everything is chic, accessible, awesome and easy! Because I’m brilliant!

Amelie did not want a panda party though. She wanted a “Katarina Kitty Cat/Monkey Party”. Oh, silly toddlers. I forged ahead with the panda theme because surely she could be easily swayed just by using my excited voice: “A panda party, honey! Pandas are awesome! Won’t that be so super fun!?! Everyone loves pandas! Let’s watch panda videos on Youtube and get excited about them! Weeeeee!”

You know what? Amelie is not one to be swayed. She stayed true to her initial request to the bitter end. I had already gotten aboard the panda train (ie buying stuff) and it was too late to bail so I went ahead with hopes the magic of the day would change her mind. It didn’t really and this Mom fail is totally going in her memoir.

Her Panda Party invites:


We purchased the invite file from Etsy and I doctored it up with my crooked handwriting, black and white baker’s twine, black glitter paper baking and, of course, pretty black glitter for the nose.

My recipe for party day decor was simple. Buy die-cut pandas from this awesome Etsy shop. Add black glitter. Put them everywhere.

To this day, I’m still finding black glitter in places you would never imagine…

Remember my pro-Mom tip about doing as much as you can ahead of time? It came in handy again because three major things happened two days before the party: Cade came down with an ear infection resulting in a surprise trip to an after hours clinic and endless hours of me holding him and trying to accomplish everything one-handed, Zack’s original flight home was cancelled and for a frantic evening we thought he wouldn’t make it home for the party at all, oh and lastly? Another snowstorm.

After shoveling for an hour the night before instead of cleaning the house, I woke up to this on Party Day.

snowstormIt’s kinda hard to prioritize last minute party prep when your guests literally cannot make it to the front door. So, another hour of shoveling happened while Zack worked on the food and then I had to take a second shower and redo my hair – another detour I didn’t expect. I’m glad I played around with decorations beforehand so all I had to do was put them up!

Where were we? Pandas?

Ah, yes.


(Don’t get me started on that open cabinet door in the background. I’m a bad picture taker blogger lady.)

I ordered cupcakes from a bakery and sprinkled edible glitter on top (leftover from Amelie’s party last year) and it was totally worth it because I doubt anyone even noticed. I also taped a few die cut pandas to striped paper straws to decorate the cupcakes (more shown later).


I made a wonky pom poof thingy, added two black honeycombs and a big sweet panda to the cluster. Isn’t she cute! Then I strung them up with black and white baker’s twine.


The birthday banner I made! I bought the banner on clearance from Target, then added the die cuts and embellishments. You can’t tell but lots of black glitter was involved.


Detail shots to waste your time:


Turning three!


Plus my go-to tassel garland, which turned out kinda wimpy.


Even our golden stag was in the mood to party:


The party set up:

setupZack served his delicious pulled pork, tater tots, and coleslaw. It’s what we served at Amelie’s first birthday. Always a great party food! Recently, we pulled the trigger on new white dishes from World Market because we were literally chipping away at the old set and it was getting slim. For the party, we used paper plates (Target clearance!) but the reason I mention it is because along with the dishes, I ordered three matching serving pieces to add to my serving collection. I’m glad I did because we always needed an extra service piece so Zack would pull out some mismatched plate for the hummus or whatever and then my eyes would twitch. White servingware makes me happy! Don’t have what you need? Borrow from friends!

Up close, because you have time for this nonsense.

setup2The flatware caddy packets that I put together solely as excuse to use black glitter washi tape because obviously that was a grand use of my time.


Moving on to the hutch! It housed the panda party treat cups and panda crowns!

hutchEach guest got a panda crown (purchased from here)  as part of their party favor. This was taken after the party but aren’t they adorable?


Here are the treat cups up close:


I adorned the pandas with bows: hair bows for the girl treat cups and bow ties for the boys because yeah, I used gender stereotypes to keep myself organized. Probably another topic to add to the memoir!

Inside the treat cups:


Knee high panda socks and panda washi tape. I know! ADORABLE. Just like last year, I kept the guest list small so these didn’t break the bank.

After they pulled out their goodies, a note to thank them for coming:


The reluctant Panda Party Princess. She’s giving me her best fake smile.


She was tired. She’s been skipping a lot of naps since moving to her Big Girl Bed. She started to warm up once her friends arrived.

Little man got panda eyes too – even though he probably had them naturally because he had an ear infection and wasn’t sleeping well either.


Unlike last year, I skipped doing stations. The only thing I offered was to do “panda eyes” for the other kids but no one took me up on it. Ha! I don’t blame them, it wasn’t easy to get that eyeshadow off…

The birthday girl did come around when it was time for cupcakes and the happy birthday song!


To beat the theme to a pulp, of course I had to add pandas to mini thank you cards:


We have so much to be thankful for. It was a sweet snowy day celebrating Amelie, despite the chaos leading up to it. Everything all worked out!

Happy birthday, beautiful. I love you so very much. Next year, I promise I’ll honor your birthday requests. I’m pretty sure I will, anyway.

Easter 2016

Easter was a delightful one. Well, mostly. I had laryngitis and completely lost my voice. That was kinda sad. I wanted to partake in all of the fun but I ended up being a silent observer. Which leads me to my pro-Mom tip: do stuff for holidays, like, way in advance. Luckily, I was overly excited and I…err…consulted with the Easter Bunny…and we put the kid’s baskets together weeks ahead of time. I’m so thankful because all I wanted to do the week before Easter was sleep. Then? A huge record breaking snowstorm hit. I’m talking an excess of 20″ of snow in one day. It was insanity. As you can imagine, helping E. Bunny fill baskets (ie driving to Target in blizzard conditions) was not an option. I spent all of my energy shoveling ourselves out of our driveway instead.

Anyway! The Easter Bunny came!


The baskets were a tad lop-sided but I’m sure next year, when Cade has an inkling of what’s going on, they’ll be even and fair.

The discovery!


Amelie got her first chocolate bunny! Oh how I loved watching their excitement. Cade didn’t much care but Amelie was thrilled!


Of course, I decorated and have a dark photo of it to show you, duh.


A close up of my spring-y tray. I should have ironed the runner but eh, what’s a novice blogger girl supposed to do about it now?


I wanted to show you my outdoor decorations but they were all buried in snow. Just imagine a herd (a posse? a family? a pack?) of bunnies staked into different parts of the front yard to accompany our egg tree and you’ve got it. It really wasn’t that spectacular.

Amelie’s best friend (and her family) came over for a snowy Easter egg hunt in the backyard.


That’s another thing I’m really glad the Easter Bunny did ahead of time – fill the eggs! A squirrel got a few of the eggs but overall, it was a success!

Amelie had a blast, blizzard and all. Cade was indifferent.


And then, Easter was over. But, you bet your fluffy bunny butt I went to Target and Michaels and scored some serious Easter clearance. The end.

Cade Turns 1!

Ok, that happened a long time ago. You know what? I’m the worst.

Look at him, though.


He’s an angel!

We kept Cade’s birthday party very simple with easy food and minimal decorations. We ordered pizza, I didn’t do treat bags and I didn’t bake. In fact, I was barely ready by the time our guests showed up because Cade decided that he preferred to be awake while I was trying to clean the house and snooze through the actual party. It’s probably because he’s an introvert like his Mommy. I kinda wanted to nap too!

All I did was make a little banner with supplies from Target to mingle with our holiday decorations:


Just like Amelie’s first birthday party, I went with a one color “theme”. Amelie’s was a stereotypical pink and for Cade, I picked light teal. I use “theme” loosely because all I had was a banner and some coordinating paper plates. A tad on the pathetic side. Maybe I’ll get more creative for year 2?


The set up. Pretend the only thing we made, the salad, is in the bowl. Imagination is fun!


We hauled in the picnic table and that was a brilliant place for littles to eat at. It was a small party, which suits me and our small house perfectly.


Dad finally had to go in and wake the birthday boy. Poor guy just wanted to sleep. He was groggy and refused his birthday cupcake.


Amelie, on the other hand, shouted “I love it!” while smashing her cupcake in her face. That’s my girl!

Even as simple as it was, hosting the party was more stressful than I thought it should be. It’s hard to get the house cleaned and the food prepped with little ones around. My tips are: do as much as you can in advance and invite great people that don’t care!

Happy Birthday, my sweetie, my lovey guy, my Cadey-Cade. Please stay my little baby forever ever, amen?

Home Sweat Home: Kitchen Ceiling

As I alluded to in the last kitchen post (with much suspense) I checked another To Do off this list…

  • Paint maroon grout (shudders)
  • Fix baseboards
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint light fixtures
  • Replace kitchen window
  • Replace kitchen window blinds
  • Replace almond outlets with white ones

A Before:


Doesn’t look too bad, does it?

Incorrect. See?


The ceiling was a beigy-yellow and very greasy. Two coats of white paint fixed that right up!


It could have used three coats but who has time for that?

And a useless After photo:


I surprised Zack when he came home from work and asked him to “guess what’s different about the kitchen!”. He wandered around confused and replied “I have no idea but something about the kitchen certainly feels less gross.”


It’s one of those type of projects; lessening the Gross Factor. Well, yet another project I’ve started and completed. Just like Amelie says when she uses the big girl potty, “Yay, I’m so proud of me!”

More home updates coming. As per usual, with every move forward seems to encourage a step back. Literally. A corner of our front step fell off during the massive snow storm just before Easter.



Home Sweat Home: The Kitchen Edging

I’m as shocked as you are that there is a home update to share today! If you creak open those rusty memory banks back to over a year ago, my last kitchen update was quite a big one: we had the kitchen cabinets painted white.

After that big overhaul, the kitchen sat like this for a long while.

cabinets_painted2Let’s not kid ourselves. It didn’t sit *exactly* like this ever again because our house is always a mess. I would say it’s a lucky day if we can see our countertops but have you seen how ugly our countertops are? The maroon grout is horrifying.

Anyway, there still are quite a few To Dos for the Kitchen Phase 1 Redo. I say Phase 1 because I would like it all reno’d in a few years when we can afford it financially and afford the disruption. Right now, that kitchen is working hard for me and I can’t give it up!

I tackled the grubby kitchen edging last week and you wouldn’t have guessed it but by golly, I finished what I started. I’m amazing!

Let’s take a closer look at what I was staring at over my morning cup of coffee.


I primed it and put two coats of pure white paint on it (even though it could have used three) and called it a day! Actually it took me like two weeks but you know what I mean.

A dark After picture coming right up, drum roll, please.


Another view:


Makes that maroon grout even more maroon-y, am I right? Bummer.

In hindsight, I might have considered painting all of the edging/trim in the house a tinted white (like Benjamin Moore White Dove) instead so it’s not so stark but I had the pure white paint on hand and I was not about to buy more. So, at least it matches the rest of the house.

To Dos for Phase 1:

  • Paint maroon grout (shudders)
  • Fix baseboards
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint light fixtures
  • Replace kitchen window
  • Replace kitchen window blinds
  • Replace almond outlets with white ones

I’ve already secretly crossed another kitchen To Do off the list but I’m holding out on you and putting it in a separate blog post to build drama. Ok?

Also, while I’ve been working feverishly and inefficiently, we hired a professional to help me make some real progress. He started today! My kids were just as excited as I was to see him. Here they are, waiting for Pieter to unload his truck:


Cue the collective “Awwwws”.

Easter Tree

Amelie and I got out the Easter bin and decorated a little. Oh what fun that bin was to open! I had forgotten about most of the goodies I had picked up after Easter on clearance.

The plastic egg ornaments I made last spring by hot glueing ribbon to the tops were in there and so we put up our “Easter tree” again this year.

amelie_egg_treeAnd done. So festive and a little bottom heavy…

egg_tree_decoratedThis morning though, it looked like this!

snowy_egg_treeIf you care, a look back to last year’s Easter egg tree.

Spring Treat Cups

Oh my, Easter is early this year! I love any excuse to pull out the bunny ears.


I mean, come on!


Anyway, I put together spring/Easter treat cups for Amelie’s preschool friends. I’m sure this will get old quickly but for now, it’s something fun to do during nap time. I picked up some supplies for a few bucks at Target. Plus, I needed to use this grass washi tape on something and this was the perfect project. I had to!


I taped a chocolate carrot to the Fun Dip and nestled it in shredded tissue paper. I added a pipe cleaner handle and a few stickers that I already had on hand. Here are the finished “baskets”:


Crude but cute! I hope parents don’t curse me out for sending the kids home with more sugar. I couldn’t resist! I hope the preschool teachers don’t curse me either because I can see that shredded tissue paper being a problem. If Amelie’s tuition goes up, I’ll know why!

Hoppy Monday, bunnies.



Happy St. Patty’s Day!

My little leprechauns.

photo 3

Cade’s only green shirt is in the wash because he wore it yesterday. My inept planning surprises even me sometimes. Also, Amelie is wearing bunny socks because you win some you lose some, you know? Also, an aside. Putting them on this bench was a mistake. It caused much drama post picture.

This morning. Cade with Daddy before work <3

photo 1

Annnd, a real crappy picture of me too. Yay.

photo 2

I should have done something fun with gold coins or whatever but we celebrated by doing Easter crafts with neighbor friends because I’m not on my game today. Maybe next year? Maybe.

Aww, remember Amelie’s first St. Patty’s Day?


My Cade

Oh dear, it’s been months since a My Cade. Fixin’ that right now.

AGE: 15 months


I’m clinging to his baby-ness. My sweet baby Cadey-Cade. I love him so much.

Verbal: He’s babbling a ton. The babble is my favorite because it sounds like real sentences but it’s only gibberish. Besides babbling, he’s also saying quite a few words. He’s much more verbal than Amelie was at this age. He can say graham cracker and “baaaa” like a lamb. He makes zoom zoom noises when he drives cars around. He says “Buh bye Dadda!, Mama, hi, bye, thank you, more, Night Night, and Baby Bear.

It’s so funny when he decides to talk. He usually talks to women because he knows they will coo right back at him. He’ll say “Hiii.” in the sweetest little voice that turns me all mushy and proud. The other day, just as I packed up my items at Target, he told the cashier “Buh bye.” and waved. He is adorable! Amelie was more of a long-stare type of baby…

Growing: He is in 18 month clothes still and is skinny, skinny, skinny. He weights just under 20lbs. His legs are so tiny. Ugh, I think he is the cutest ever.

Sleeping/Schedule: Cade, overall, is a wonderful sleeper. It was rocky for a while when we first tried dropping his morning nap but that’s always a tough transition. For a few months, he couldn’t quite make it to the afternoon nap and was endlessly crabby and needy. We are finally settled into the one nap schedule, which is a lot of work for me early on in the day but a much nicer schedule overall for us. Now I don’t have the conundrum of whether I should go somewhere so Amelie can get out and have fun but mess up Cade’s morning nap or keep Amelie at home, bored and unstimulated while Cade naps – just to have Amelie throw her nap out the window that afternoon.

Cade typically wakes earlier than Amelie – in between 6.30-7.30am and Amelie is usually  7.00-8am. They are like me, late sleepers. Then they both go down for a nap around 1pm. Cade is always up before Amelie – she usually takes a long time to fall asleep because she’s upstairs singing and reading. It’s a long afternoon waiting for Daddy to come home, trying to figure out how to entertain Cade but not go anywhere.

We get started on bath around 6.15-6.30pm and try to have both kids in bed around 7.30pm – although Cade likes to stay up and play a little longer so it’s closer to 8pm. This is way better than his 11pm bedtime from a few months ago!

Sick: Our family was hit with some serious sickness early in 2016. We had three rounds of bad colds and have only been healthy a few weeks this year! At one point, we were all on antibiotics in the same week! Zack was first with a sinus infection, then Cade had an ear infection, then I got sinus infection and then Amelie was next. And she got croup (again). It was insane. We were dealing with difficult nights and miserable days for weeks. When Cade had his cold and ear infection, his naps were inconsistent and he was so sad. Now that we’ve been through one round of ear infection, I know better and will not wait as long to go in to get meds. I couldn’t put him down or leave him by himself even for a moment. It was terrible!

Milestones: He can pull himself to standing, he can climb stairs (and go down them backwards like Daddy taught him), he can stand unassisted for a few moments, and he has take one or two unassisted steps (super recently). It’s so cute and Frankenstein-y. He is learning to walk much later than Amelie (she started all of this around 11 months). He’s taking his sweet time. With Amelie, I worried a lot about her tipping over or tripping when she got going too fast – and I still do. I don’t worry as much with Cade because he seems more coordinated. We have this window sill in the living room is just high enough to climb up on and sit. Amelie loved that little spot and I hated it because I had to sit on the floor next to her to make sure she wouldn’t fall off. Being pregnant and sitting on the wood floor until my butt fell asleep was far from fun. She fell anyway one time when the doorbell rang and I stepped away for a moment! Cade is up on that thing all of the time and a lot of the times, I’m not even in the same room.

He has five teeth! It’s so weird to see them sprouting up when for so long he had that adorable gummy smile. He has two teeth on the bottom and three on the top. And more are coming!

Randomly, he’s had three haircuts already (one at an official salon). His hair is no where near as thick and long as Amelie’s but it grows fast like hers.

Play: He loves caps and lids. He loves to play in the kitchen while Daddy cooks. Daddy pulls out bowls and utensils for him to stack and bang (and stash into random cupboards to surprise us with later).

He plays so well by himself. I’m amazed and thankful because that makes managing both kids easier on me. Amelie is demanding and rarely goes off to play by herself. Here he is, a one-man tea party.


He loves to play with Daddy. They “wrestle” on the bed or couch. In fact, the down comforter in the guest room (ie Cade’s room still) kinda crinkles when you lay on it. He was having trouble sleeping one night and I laid him on the bed to change him. He heard that crinkle and immediately thought it must be wrestle mania time! His eye lit up, he got the hugest smile and was ready to go! It was far less amusing in the middle of the night…

Cade does not like books as much as Amelie. Bummer! By this age, Amelie wanted to be read to constantly. She loves her books. Recently, she has started taking books with her for naps and bedtime. Isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever heard? I wish Cade liked them more but he’d rather open and close them and carry them around. He loves to push the buttons on the animal sounds book from Great Auntie Jane. He’ll “read” in the car but I think that’s because Amelie is always reading her book in the car and he wants to be like her.

Feeding: He used to be a better eater but he’s become picky recently. One day, he gobbles a food up and the next day, he refuses it. I’m feeding him too much milk and snacks but I’m having trouble getting him to eat real food. He usually eats oatmeal with Daddy in the morning so at least he has a good start to his day. He likes oatmeal (usually), Daddy’s morning toast, squeeze packets, blackberries, smoothies, yogurt and the rest is hit or miss!

Firsts: His first Halloween was a bust. I dressed him in his mummy pjs but he was cold, a little afraid of the dark and hungry so Dad took him home. He was much happier after that.


His first birthday was a small party with friends. We had pizza and a few decorations. It was nice and laid back. In true Cade style, he almost slept through his own party! Dad had to wake him. Also, he refused to eat his cupcake. That’s ok, more for Mama. I’ve been meaning to blog about it but I’ve been meaning to do a lot of things.


His first Christmas was sweet; he was spoiled with books from his Grandmas, some clothes and a few toys. His favorite gift of all though was spending more time with Daddy.


The only toy he actually cared about was Baby Bear from his Auntie Becky. He took one look at Baby Bear, clutched it his chest and gave it the biggest kiss. He is in love! Now Baby Bear goes with us everywhere and he sleeps with it at night. Cade dropped Baby Bear at Target last week and a thank goodness a lady noticed and let me know. “We cannot afford to lose Baby Bear! THANK YOU!” I gasped. She told me she understood completely.

Amelie: He wants to play with her! Badly. Every once in a while, she’ll talk to him or hand him something to play with and it makes him so happy.


He watches her closely and wants to be involved with her play, especially when Daddy is home and they are playing super heros or cars or whatever pretend thing they’ve come up with. Daddy does an amazing job of involving Cade and satisfying Amelie simultaneously.


Personality: He is affectionate. He loves kisses and being held. He doesn’t mind if I touch his hair or kiss his neck or tickle his legs – in fact, he loves it. He smiles and laughs! I could count on my hand how many times Amelie laughed in the first year. This is new for me because Amelie wants attention but not necessarily affection. I do it anyway and she mostly tolerates it.

Cade gets mad when Amelie takes something from him or tries to push him out of the way. He’ll put his head down and push her with it like a ram. Ha! He’s not all sweet and sugar, I guess.

Daddy time: When Cade had his ear infection, he wanted his Daddy. He would sob and reach out his arms, begging Zack not to leave in the morning to go to work. He was fine with me when we were alone but the moment Zack was home, Cade wanted him desperately. He would even swat me away if I got near them! It was hard on me and made me feel bad.


But even before Cade got sick, he was really attached to Zack. They have breakfast every morning and make coffee together. Zack grinds the beans and Cade will lean in to sniff the grounds. Hilarious! It’s so sweet because he used to make coffee with Amelie in the Baby Bjorn and she too loved that time with him.

Cade started saying “Mama” way before “Dadda” but what’s ironic is that when he says “Mama”, he’s really saying “Daddy, hold me.” It has nothing to do with me! Both kids love him and miss him. In fact, we all wait at the window for him to come home from work. Zack is a wonderful, attentive, loving, hard working father. Go me for picking such an awesome partner in parenting! But come on, why do the kids have to love him more than me? No fair, I thought I earned some sort of birthing rights?

Mommy time: Amelie is still in preschool two mornings/week but since Cade has dropped his morning nap, I only had a few short weeks where I had some time in the morning while he napped and Amelie was at school. I had such grand plans of being productive! Oh well. Now, we go out for walks, go to swim class and run a few errands and have lunch together. It’s so sweet to have special time with him and I enjoy it. It’s not a break for me but I’m thankful we get to do this together.


I could go on and on. Cade, I relish this time of your life as I know it’s fleeting. In this brief moment in time, you want to be held and snuggled and be a baby. I’m more than happy to oblige. You make me swoon.