59 and a Half

I started thinking about this event right after my parents turned 59 last year. I debated what would be the best celebration for their 60th. With their two birthdays bracketing Christmas and New Years, I knew I would have to rent some place due to weather, and how would I get people to attend during the holidays?

Brian’s dad had a winning suggestion: Just don’t do it around the 60th birthday. The 59-1/2 dual surprise birthday party was born. Or rather, planned and fretted over, with labor and love.


We really struggled with how to get them out of their house. Holly and I ended up doing all the decorating labor, table and tent set up and shopping. Brian and Tyler (who was also sick) had to visit the Air Force museum with them and the kids to keep them away until the scheduled time.



Mom was super surprised and jumped right in. She told us that she didn’t think she had really had more than one other dedicated birthday party before. Both of them seemed to have a great time with as many friends and family as we could gather from their combined contact lists.



We had catering from City Barbecue, iced tea and lots of drinks. It was a sweltering day, but we enjoyed the shade from the tents we rented and the deck awning.




It was pretty windy. Mom’s candles went out before the song was over!




Some good friends and family lingered for birthday present opening.





All the invitees were provided with notecards to write good wishes and memories to our parents, and we included those with photos into a little book (mini project life style).

Since Mom’s siblings were all able to make the trek to their house, we couldn’t go without some reunion style photos.






As for the kids: my cousin’s girls came to the party and they all got along famously. They had a great time.



I don’t recall the kids asking why Meemaw and Grandpa were having a birthday party when it wasn’t their birthday but we’ll see what happens this winter when the big 6-0 actually approaches.

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Jameson Turns One Hand Old


Well we don’t have the traditional chair in it’s usual corner anymore because it is downstairs, and during Christmas it was mostly inaccessible because of the Christmas tree, so we did our 5 year blocks on the couch upstairs. Jameson still wanted to do it though so I was all for it!

This year, his appearance was wrapped up in his long hair which we grew out all year until cutting it after Halloween. So it seems like something is missing between the photos of Jameson at 4 and Jameson at 5. It’s all that hair!


We did gifts with Brian’s family on his actual birthday after work and school, which was Wednesday. We also had an Elf on the Shelf for the first time this year, and our elf, Ralphie, wasn’t really into decorating or doing cool things except on Jameson’s birthday when he strung streamers and balloons for the occasion! Jameson’s face did a big “o” of surprise when he saw it that morning.


Jameson got a new scooter for spring, marble run, and more. We got the marble run out right away and both the kids enjoyed it. But that wasn’t all! We decided Jameson was old enough to have his very first big-boy-friend birthday party. We held it at a local indoor bouncer place. It was close by, and a great location for winter parties. We provided the cake, they provided everything else.





Just like last year, we requested no gifts, though we did get a couple. Instead, we had people bring donations for our local animal shelter.



Jameson loved playing the claw machine. They had an easy one that had balls in it, and he got 3 or 4, one for him and a couple friends and Coraline each! It was the first time we’ve invited school friends to our parties and Johnny, Ella, Corinne, and Gunnar came. Johnny’s parents help Jameson play video games with the boys which was nice as Brian and I were constantly wandering around tracking Coraline or Jameson or being social with friends.

Our regulars also came including Jonathan and Joshua, Bobby and Jack, and Vivienne and Finn. We also had my cousin and his 3 boys there, and even Nathan came! Nathan has recently come back to school; they’re not in the same class but they see a lot of each other in the mornings and afternoons regardless.



Coraline also had a blast. She spent some time on the bouncers, and then played in the little kid area reading books and going to the chalk room. It was nice that she was old enough that she didn’t need constant attention, and wonderful that while we were there there weren’t a lot of really big kids either so she was happy to participate.



Jameson visited the doctor for his check up and he’s in perfect health! Still a skinny little dude weighing in around 37 lbs. He didn’t need any vaccines, but he did get to pee in a cup which was a new novelty (for both of us). He got vision and hearing tested and checked out fine.

What Jameson is Wearing:

  • Size 4T pants and size 12 shoes.
  • 5T or XS shirts, they’re sometimes a little big but he’ll be able to keep them for a couple years.
  • Soft pants and swishy pants, and clothes with Star Wars, superheros, or Ninja Turtles on them
  • Big boy underwear day and night. And underwear only at night for as long as the weather allows!

What Jameson is Eating:

  • Meatballs, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and most any meat he can eat with ketchup or ranch
  • Cucumbers with ranch or without. He’ll eat a whole one straight up like a pickle. Also tomatoes.
  • Regular and “special” yogurt. Still doesn’t like eggs.
  • Candy of course, and now he gets to have gum! It’s like a treat for him.
  • Potatoes most any way
  • He finishes his dinner the majority of the time.

What Jameson is Saying:

  • Jameson likes to ask us about how our work day was, and insists that we answer his questions first before he answers (minimally) about his day at school
  • “It’s ok sweetie”, (almost) always a sweetheart to his little sister.
  • “It’s not fair!” This is happening more and more frequently. (Life isn’t fair though you know).
  • “Stinky” and “Stinker”, and using other mean words that we have to discipline.

When Jameson gets angry, he shouts “Fine! You’re not my best friend anymore.”

What Jameson Likes These Days:

  • He really loves to watch TV, any show or movie TV now and all the time. We’re working on this. This year along with the usual favorites we’ve also watched Star wars and super heroes cartoons based on the Avengers, Bat Man and Justice League.
  • Jameson enjoys reading about super heroes and Star Wars.
  • Jameson is much more flexible about what he wears lately, but he still likes soft or swishy pants the best. Anything you’d identify as “running” or “exercise” wear.
  • Duffy the little teddy bear and his soft brown blanket
  • Swimming lessons and soccer.
  • Piano, he’s started lessons at school
  • Listening to “his” songs, kid music. Favorites are the Hercules song and the Mulan “Man” song.
  • The ipad, but now he only really gets it when traveling so he doesn’t ask for it as much
  • Wrestling with daddy

What Jameson Doesn’t Like These Days:

  • Sitting still to eat.
  • Hot sauce on his tongue. A new discipline helpful for talking back.
  • Public toilets, though he no longer has a tantrum about them, he still doesn’t like the loud potties.

I thought Jameson was dressed too warm today and told him so; he said that was so we could cuddle!

What Jameson is Doing:

  • Writing his name, identifies letters and loves stories still. Occasionally sounding out a word.
  • Making light sabers out of tinker toys
  • Brushing his teeth and hair on his own, doing all things in the morning without assistance including dressing himself and putting non-tie shoes on.
  • More clarity in his artwork. He’s drawn family portraits recognizable as people now and doing more drawing.
  • Making paper airplanes, every single day. (Better not let him catch us throwing them out, either!)
  • Jameson likes to help make dinner with Daddy and desserts with Mommy

We were just playing tea party when Jameson declared he was pouring beer for daddy.

What We Are Working On:

  • Bedtimes without tantrums
  • Regular chores… we’ve done making the bed, setting the table, and putting toys away irregularly
  • Sitting still to eat.
  • Mommy and daddy are figuring out good ways to reward good behavior so more of it comes without being told.

What is your name? Jameson
How old are you? 5
What is your favorite color? orange
What is your favorite animal? A lion
What is your favorite book? My favorite book is…the Avengers (And something else I couldn’t understand)
What is your favorite TV show? The Lion Guard (A recent discovery of the spin off of the Lion King)
What is your favorite movie? Lion King (This might not really be true anymore but the first he thought of; he really likes the Lego Movie)
What is your favorite song? Old McDonald… I mean, my favorite song is the Star Wars one
What is your favorite food? Meatballs and macaroni
What food do you not like? I don’t like ravioli, quesadilla, eggs, and pancakes
What is your favorite drink? Hot chocolate
What is your favorite snack? Fruit snacks

“I’m going to eat all of my dinner. 100 of the dinner. All the snacks, all the table, all the carpet…all the walls.”

What makes you laugh? I don’t know (After some prompting, he agrees that Coraline makes him laugh)
What is your favorite thing to wear? Underwear!
What is your favorite game? Donuts (being silly I think, but after some thought it could be he’s talking about the gopher game where you bop the heads since he described popping the head up)
What is your favorite toy? At Nathan’s I like to play on the trampoline
Who is your best friend? Nathan
What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Duffy and blankie
Where is your favorite place to go? Canada Never been there. After some prompting we discover that’s where Aunt Melissa and Grandma and Poppa are going, so after some prompting he says: I like to go to Florida (He likes to sleep there and get new Duffys)
Where do you want to go on vacation? Disney
What do you like to do with your family? Mousetrap
What do you want to be when you grow up? A superhero… I want to be Ant Man
What did you do when you were little? Climb on dad’s face
What do you like to do now that you are big? Go to Kindergarten in March (March is Coraline’s birthday so we had to clarify that this happens in the fall)
What is your favorite thing to learn in school? I don’t know… Can we be done now? Ummm eating donuts.
What is your favorite thing to remember? Remind me to get a drink
What do you want to buy with your money? A toy
What is the thing you do the most awesomely? Didn’t get to ask this


One Year


Two Years


Three Years


Four Years

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We went to a birthday party a couple weeks ago at a kids gym. Jameson had a blast, and I had some great mom moments to share. When we arrived, Jameson called me “stinky” in front of the other moms. It wasn’t too funny until I realized that he was in fact talking about me and not about the birthday boy’s mom, which I thought this had been directed at for a moment, thankfully. However, birthday boy picked up on it and repeated it too. We affectionately use all kind of names like this when we tease the kids at home, but it’s being turned on us and has been a little bit frustrating lately. Lesson learned.

However, all was forgotten when the kids went in to play. Jameson was a non-stop ball of fun. He was loud, excited, but listened well and gave birthday boy all the attention. I thought he was acting as a great friend should, and was proud.

My proud heart enlarged tenfold when he asked friends for help picking up “kryptonite” beanbags with the sticks they’d been given. His beanbag was the last one of the balls and bags that had been left around the gym, and he was struggling when he said “everybody help!” and had four friends all help carry the bag with their sticks to put it away. Jameson declared “great teamwork!” and the instructor said that was the first time she’s seen kids help each other in that activity.

I was and am delighted with Jameson’s behavior. I don’t often get to see him outside home with friends, and also have the attention span that you can only have when you’re watching just one child at a time. It was a pleasure!








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Birthday Girl

On Coraline’s actual birthday, we let her open her gift from Jameson (which he also picked out for himself I’m certain). She loved her new Anna and Elsa dolls! They are her favorite princesses, along with Princess Sophia. And Jameson got to play with Elsa, so he was a happy camper.



We had a party for her the next day, on Saturday. Coraline’s 2nd birthday party was much more low key than Jameson’s have ever been.


Between planning for upcoming vacations and work, we really just didn’t want to do the big bash. And I think we both kind of liked this better in its own way. Certainly, the grandparents probably liked it better. The family all gathered for a calm (well, there was still a 4 year old and 2 year old) gift opening and cake celebration. My mom and sister came up for the occasion too!



Jameson enjoyed helping Coraline open her gifts, and Coraline kept her tutu on like a rock star!




She definitely can be a little girly. She loved pink stuff, Frozen and her new dolly. Coraline really got into ripping the wrapping paper and was definitely a pro.



The biggest gift was her new dollhouse, a joint gift from Grandpa, Poppa and Aunt Melissa. But probably mostly for the box it left behind.



Coraline does love playing with the little baby in the dollhouse, and we’ve combed the living room looking for the missing baby a couple times. It’s a clever little set.


I made Coraline’s cake as I have for all birthday so far. This one was one of the more time consuming ones (they all seem to be after I get started). I made a homemade funfetti cake in a bundt cake pan, and cut it in half to make a caterpillar. The icing got stiff pretty fast, but I suppose that was helpful in order to keep it on the cake! It was pretty tough trying to keep caterpillar stripes even, and I almost ran out of one of the colors.





Really, I could’ve just made a big batch of icing and made the kiddos happy. But I was pleased with it! I made it especially because my grandma made me a caterpillar cake when I was a kid, and I think she would’ve been proud of my effort!

Happy happy birthday little lady!

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Last Minute Party

We weren’t going to have a big party for Jameson’s 4th birthday, but when we sent out invitation via email about a week and a half before the party, we got a surprising response. Most guests RSVPed yes, and the small party became a bit of a big one!

Meemaw and Grandpa came up to visit, and we FaceTimed with Aunt Holly while Jameson opened her gifts the day before his party.


Jameson loved his Ninja Turtles shirt from Aunt Holly and immediately wanted to put it on with the new swishy pants from Meemaw and Grandpa. They got him a soccer outfit and a net which we put up when it was relatively warm a couple weeks later. He was really loving kicking his new soccer ball into the net!


Coraline wanted to put on the swishy pants too.



Along with a lot of our friends, Brian’s cousin Griffin also came to the party. Every time Jameson sees him, he loves watching him play video games, following him around and playing with what he wants to play with. Jameson really seems to look up to him, and Griffin is so friendly and plays with him.



Jameson was not happy that Coraline was sitting on his gifts.


Jameson’s big gift was a pirate ship by Playmobil. It has lots of small parts, and we’ve already lost a few. Oops! He hasn’t really been into playing with it other than shooting the cannons, which seems typical boy.


He also got a Pete the Cat book and stuffed toy from Aunt Melissa, which Coraline immediately grabbed saying “my meow”. She’s since given it up but it was pretty hilarious.


The highlight of the party though was the gift from Uncle Mike, cousin Gabrielle and Griffin: the remote control car which flips every which way. The kids were fascinated with it! Even though Jameson is very into doing things himself, he was happy to let Griffin show him how to use it first.


For a cake, he said he wanted chocolate and vanilla (like I made for him when he was three, apparently he remembered), so I decided on a Neapolitan cake I made from scratch. The bottom was actually brownie, a classic vanilla cake, and then strawberry made with handpicked strawberries we froze from the summer on top. Then he wanted orange icing on it, and I decided to go crazy and we put candy eyeballs on it. It was pretty funny looking, but the kids loved the eyeballs and it tasted excellent so that’s all the matters, right?






It was a great party, and Jameson loved seeing all his friends. Even Nathan was able to come! We loved showing off our new basement (which they were working on right up until that morning!) and we invited people to bring dog toys, treats, food and cleaning supplies for the local shelter rather than gifts for Jameson.

We finally dropped all that off a couple weekends ago, and it was so nice to know we were helping the shelter. It was Jameson’s first experience giving to people animals in need. Luckily, there weren’t too many dogs to see in the cages, and it was tough answering Jameson’s question if people leave their dogs in the cages. (People leave dogs here for all kind of reasons, and then they stay here until they can find new homes)


On his actual birthday, Grandma and Poppa came over with his gifts to open, a cool construction set. Jameson is driving his little motorcycle over his gifts.



I can’t believe this little guy is 4 years old, and yet at the same time, I can believe it because he’s changed so much in the past year.

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Obviously, it is WAY past Halloween. Not even relevant, to anyone but myself for record keeping purposes. Coraline and Jameson were Captain Hook and Tick Tock Crock. It was super cute. I am hoping that I can swing one more year of coordinating costumes, if Jameson picks something reasonable I should be able to get Coraline to go for it next year. Crossing fingers!


This year, we did Boo at the Akron Zoo. It’s our favorite, since the zoo isn’t too big. It’s wonderful for littler kiddos. We went with two groups of friends, which was difficult to keep everyone together but we made it work.


Here’s our regular gathering of kiddos, between 3 families. Jameson’s friends Bobby and Jonathan and their siblings. Coraline also had a little friend there as well, Adelyn (not pictured), who was born the same night as her (though technically a different day!)



This year the big kids were old enough to trick or treat, and they loved it!

Coraline didn’t feel left out though. She loved feeding the goats and running around freely. We went on a great day, because it was rainy before and rainy as we were leaving, but clear while we were there. It wasn’t crowded and was perfect!





After we left the zoo, we had lunch with Bobby’s family. We couldn’t believe how well-behaved all the kids were, for being out so far past naptime for Coraline in particular. We really felt like we were getting freer to be more flexible, it was lovely!

The next weekend was our haunted neighborhood party/gathering. A few houses get together to do sets like photo booth, food, games and activities, etc. They also do little hayrides through a couple streets. I’d totally consider hosting, but our house is far away from the main gathering point and other houses.




We pay a little fee and the kids get a little something. This year and last year was a light up necklace, which is always a hit!


We skipped the photo booth this year, though not really on purpose, and went straight to do some crafts.



Grandma, Papa and Aunt Melissa joined us for the party this time, as well as the neighbors.


We also got to see Nathan! Jameson was so excited to see his best buddy from school. Nathan doesn’t go to our preschool anymore but still lives in our neighborhood so we have still been able to stay in touch and get the kids together. They loved it!


We never looped back around to the other houses except for the food one because for most of the evening, we were watching a live animal show! All the kids were simply fascinated. Coraline, my baby crocodile, got to pet a real one (or alligator… I can’t remember the difference :)) They also had a really large snake, chinchilla, and parrot too.




It was a great evening and always a fun time. It’s the only big thing our neighborhood really puts on (plus a garage sale day), but what a wonderful annual activity!

The next day we finally carved our pumpkins. This year, Jameson was all about it. He didn’t mind the “gross stuff” and he helped to clean out one of the pumpkins. He told me to make a scary face this year.

I expected Coraline to actually be a little less squeamish than Jameson had been at her age, but she was very concerned with the texture or cold feel of the pumpkin guts, so she didn’t participate.




Except at the very end, she was totally fine with hanging out in the empty pumpkin, as long as she had her snacks.

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Birthday and Baby

The same weekend we celebrated our neighbor’s kiddos’ birthdays, we celebrated with Vivienne for her 3rd birthday, just a week before her little brother was born! I really loved these lights over their porch.


It was such a lovely day outside, and the kids played with bubbles, drawing, playhouse and of course, running outside.




Coraline is wearing her little party favor necklace here, which she actually kept on. The kiddos also got sheriff pins for the cowgirl theme’d party. I love Vivienne’s little boots, above.





Lisa had several flavors of cupcakes, which tasted like they were made by a pro. They were divine, and had little cowgirl pictures on toothpicks stuck into them. Vivienne seem to relish the attention and was excited to open gifts.


The big gift from mommy and daddy was her scooter, complete with knee and elbow pads, but her favorite was Woody’s friend Jessie.




After dinner, the boys Jonathan and Jameson ran races and made mischief.




And then just 15 days or so later, I was back taking photos of her baby brother, Finn. Vivienne was very serious about her little brother, but she did give him a kiss for the camera. Also, she got a balloon out of it! She looked so much older (as all big brothers and sisters seem to after a new baby), all 3 years of her.




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Clowning Around Party

That past couple years, our neighbors have had one big birthday party for both their kids who were born in August. Last year, they hired a balloon man. This year, they one upped him by hiring a clown who was also a magician and balloon man!

Last year, Jameson hung back quietly. This year it did not take him long to get into the fun. He even volunteered himself! His squeals of delight were so fun to hear. Even Coraline sat still on my lap for nearly a half an hour watching him.


Jameson got to keep a hippo after the trick he volunteered for. He was so excited! All the kids got little stuffed animals then, which was super cute. After the magic show, he did balloons and Brian occupied some kiddos while they waited their turns with a handle held air pump.



Jameson requested an alien, and we were pretty fascinated with the balloon within a balloon.



So for their birthday, we decided to get a gift that was outdoors, since Kelly mentioned they have a lot of toys and clothes already. (Also, a bonus in that my kiddos would be able to play with it too). We got them a combined gift of the Classic Alligator Teeter Totter, and it came in this enormous box that I loved watching the kids speculate what it was. Big boxes are always exciting!




Oh, and we also had the water bouncer out! It was a kid’s dream party, I believe. Then time for cake! Coraline enjoyed eating her cake so much that she licked the plate, cracking us all up.




I think the birthday kiddos had a lot of fun; I know mine did too!

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Turkey Fry

Our friends JP and Lisa had a turkey fry party a few weeks ago, and we brought over the water bouncer for the kids there to enjoy as well.





For some reason though Coraline wasn’t too happy that day, and nothing was distracting her from wanting to hang out with mommy. She’s become such a mommy’s girl lately, which a part of me secretly loves. But that day was particularly frustrating!



We tried the sand table, and she needed her shoes on, but even that didn’t last long! She sat on my lap wailing away, so Brian took her for a walk for a bit.


She was happier playing inside at least! She went up and down the step into the living room over and over again. She also loved the mini ice cream cone that Lisa’s mom bought. They were super tiny and a cute snack size for these little kiddos.



I love this casual shot of all the guys together. We hadn’t all gotten together in quite some time. The kiddos really got into the red solo cups and starting throwing water on each other. It was a little uneven at first, so we gave all the kids a cup.





It was a nice time, and tasty turkey as well. Looking back on these photos now makes me miss the warmer weather. It’s gotten quite a bit cooler recently, and we all are getting colds.

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Company Picnic

In early August, Brian’s workplace had a company picnic. It is one of the better company picnics I’ve been to, and really focused on entertainment and activities for the kiddos!

They had a couple bouncers that Jameson really enjoyed (though mostly when the big kids weren’t all over them; he got intimidated by them).





Coraline even enjoyed some bouncer time before the adults took over this bouncer, which is really one where you run and try to see how far you can get while being tethered to the wall.




We visited inside daddy’s office and made a mess of the whiteboard. I think Brian wanted to leave it up for a bit, but Jameson insisted on erasing his work when he was finished. Way to clean up, dude!



They also had an ice cream truck, bar, giveaways, and even a petting zoo!



Coraline enjoyed petting the animals. Jameson was fascinated with the snake but didn’t want it around his neck, so he just got a “bracelet”. All in all, a very good time!






Even better, Brian works very close to our house, so at the end of the day, I picked up Coraline and took her home at bedtime and Jameson got in a little more playtime for he had to head home with Brian.

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