Independence Weekend

As I mentioned, we had a great time all weekend in our backyard over the 4th of July. We did get out for a little while though on Saturday morning, when we went to Jameson’s swimming lessons and the Heritage Festival where we usually go to the farmer’s market.

Ice cream at the festival

We went early, but I couldn’t help but get a veggie Stromboli. The kiddos and daddy got ice cream (Coraline loved tasting daddy’s). Jameson was concerned about his ice cream cone and not a fan of getting messy (he said he wished he had a bowl after it started melting down his hands and face)

Snake, flag, balloon, suckered, sticker. Good day to be a little dude (all free but the snake, cause I still love sand animals)

There was a lot of free stuff being passed out, including flags, promo balloons and stickers, and a sucker. We bought him a little $3 sand-filled snake, because I love sand animals. He loved carrying that around and “ssssss”-ing loudly to frighten us.

Heritage Festival fun

We saw old cars, fire engines and trucks too! It was a good time, but I’m always happy to go early and escape before the crowds and heat.

In the afternoon, we had our friends come over and the boys played together in the water bouncer. The neighbor kiddos and their cousins joined us as well, so we had a full bounce house!



Baby Jack and Joshua are getting so big. Joshua enjoyed splashing in the water and Jack loved the baby tent sheltering him from the hot day. And it was hot! A great day to play in the water.


Joshua loved the swing as well. Glad someone is getting use out of it, since Coraline still isn’t a fan.


She loved splashing in the water though. Baby pool, water park, or splash table: all water is fun! She’s getting used to the cooler water as well, and didn’t mind the hose water at all (though the baby pool we did warm up some for all the babies around!)



I remember last year when we had to coax the kids on the water bouncer at first. Now? They’re sliding down the wrong way, trying to climb up the slide, and otherwise making mischief.


All the kids loved playing in the water bouncer, though the girls quit early to get dried off.


We cooked out that evening and enjoyed burgers, hot dogs, pasta salads and more. A perfect end to a summer’s day!


Sunday, we followed suit, though it was a bit cooler. Our neighbor’s had other cousins over, and I went shopping while they played on the bouncers. We had an early dinner that evening and we all went out to eat with all the kiddos. It was chaotic, but hilarious.

Lots of kids out to dinner. Just a heads up to anyone in the area

Good thing we went out to eat though because I was ready to stack up all the dishes in the sink and call it a day! All the same, it was wonderful hosting and not needing to travel over the holiday weekend. It was really like a vacation with the kids at home!

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Pink Pinwheel Party

Coraline had a pink pinwheel party for her first birthday. Sometimes pink can be elegant and playful without being overwhelmingly girly, and that’s what I was going for. We rented a little community center nearby for her party since there are so many more kids with friends and family now! It was well worth it to reduce chaos, and that we we didn’t need to figure out what to do with Sasha, who is confined to our first floor at home now that she is older.


We had two kids tables, one of ours and borrowed one from a neighbor, which was a great idea. We had a lot of 2 and 3 year olds in attendance!


The kids had a little craft to make their own pinless pinwheel they could do as well, and while I think the parents enjoyed it, I think it would be even more perfect for 4-5 year olds. I prepared all the paper for the pinwheels so no hole punching was needed, and gave directions for finishing off the pinwheel. All you need are some pipe-cleaners, pencils, stickers and crayons, plus scissors & stapler for parents to secure the pinwheel.

Microsoft Word - Make-Pinwheel-Instructions.docx


Each table had pinwheels for a playful centerpiece (a few of the arrangements were taken with them by guests, a sign of a great little centerpiece in my opinion!!). To make the pinwheels, I used a spray adhesive to make double-backed 12×12 scrapbook paper, then cut them down with a paper cutter in various sizes from 8×8 to 11×11 (most were around the 9×9 range).


I made the pinwheels without using pins, to keep it safe for all the kids attending the party so no one might be pricked. Instead I used pipe cleaners and buttons (I will allow that the buttons were small and a choking hazard themselves, but trusted they would keep secure to the sticks under parents’ watchful eyes, as they did).

The pinwheels are attached to candy sticks I purchased at Jo-Ann, or pre-painted dowel rods I purchased from Factory Direct Craft. The two types of clear glass bottles were a relatively cheap find at Factory Direct Craft (I cannot find them online anymore), and I put sand at the bottom.


I wanted to integrate photos into her party, just as I did with Jameson’s, since I take so many and love the conversation starters they provide to guests. Since the room had a chair rail along the walls, I avoided doing the giant “1” in photos that I did with Jameson’s because it would’ve looked awkward. Instead, we randomly put photos around the room with painters tape.

She also had her monthly photos banner above her high chair. I made small pinwheels, secured with brads and a glue gun to the clothespins, hung on twine. The pinwheels are top heavy, so it needed to be against a wall where they wouldn’t move around much.



For food, we kept it simple party fare: pulled pork, pasta salad, cheese & crackers tray, veggie tray, chips and an assortment of dips, fruit salad and of course, dessert. I made the same yellow cake recipe from her cake smash into cupcakes, and tried a chocolate cake from the same site as well.



I thought maybe Coraline would like a chocolate cake since she wasn’t fond of the vanilla, but no dice. She did taste it though, but putting her tongue right out onto the icing!



Daddy cut up the cupcake a bit and she tried the actual cake, but for the most part she was content (and sometimes concerned) just to look around at all the activity.


Coraline is big into trying to put things back, and she attempted to buckle herself up without success.


Meemaw and Aunt Holly came up for the occasion; unfortunately Uncle Tyler and Grandpa had to miss it.



We also had some baby friends join us, and Jameson’s friend Nathan came as well ready for St. Patrick’s Day!




When it was time to open gifts, Jameson wanted to jump right in and help. He certainly entertained, putting a bag over his head!




Coraline wanted to “try” her gifts before opening them. She got a lot of great toys and adorable clothes. She’s become partial to the Little People dolls, as well as putting together the Mega Blocks (Jameson was always into taking things apart when he was this age, so it’s fun to see Coraline putting things together instead).





We were so excited with all our friends and family who were able to come. We saw cousins and uncles who we hadn’t seen in a year and nearly all our friends invited were able to join us to celebrate Coraline’s birthday!




I love this one of Coraline, playing peekaboo with Grandma with her hands which is new!


I can’t believe that our little girl is one. From here out, our little baby will be growing up into an awesome little girl.


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Toddler-Friendly Pinwheels


We are getting ready for a big girl to turn the big O-N-E in just a month and half, and we’ve decided her party theme is going to be pinwheels! I thought it would be a great idea to have a little pinless pinwheel craft for all the toddlers who are going to be at her party this year. I’ve never done a craft for the parties we have hosted before, but the kids are getting to an age that I think it would be fun.

I combed through the internet for some suggestions, but the best one that doesn’t use pins, I think, is this one using pipe cleaners. You wouldn’t think that it would spin properly, but it does! Another option was using brads, but I don’t think those will spin quite as well.


First you need to prepare the paper for the kids. Kid scissors won’t work well here! haha. You will want a square paper, which you can get easily from a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper by folding one edge together to make a triangle and cutting along the line. You can watch this video for direction as well!

Fold your square the other way so you have 4 triangles in your folds. Don’t forget, when you fold into the triangles, cut the center by trimming the tip off the triangle. That way you don’t need to try to get a hole punch there.

Cut down the triangle folds until you’re about an inch or a little less to the center. Then you’ll want to hold punch one corner on each triangle.


It’s time to decorate! Make sure you decorate both sides!


Then you’ll need half a pipe cleaner (chenille stick), a glue stick or a stapler (we are opting for the stapler), and something to attach it to. These are sticks for candy, but we’re going to use fun pencils for the party.


Wrap one of the chenille a couple times to make a stopper for the front of the pinwheel, and put the chenille through each hole for the pinwheel shape. Then you can staple it together. You do want to staple or attach the paper together some way so that it will spin. Otherwise, the paper will open itself up against the chenille and stick and get stuck. Stapling will let you leave the chenille a little loose so it can still spin.



Jameson at 3 had a bit of trouble blowing on it to make it go, but I showed him he could run around with it and make it spin as well and he thought that was fun, for all of a minute.


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A 3rd Birthday Get-Together

For Jameson’s 3rd birthday, we opted to do things a little more low key. Of course, we still did cake, but we only invited some close friends and family for a little get together, and insisted on no gifts! Of course, family still got him gifts, and we did too, but we successfully kept too many of our friends giving Jameson too many things. Gifts are fun, but for Jameson, Christmas is right around the corner and more felt unnecessary. We just wanted to have a little celebration for him!

Meemaw and Aunt Holly arrived the day before the party, and we opened their gifts the night prior. Jameson loved his new Jake and the Neverland Pirates puzzle. He requires quite a bit of help putting it together but surprisingly can recognize some key pieces, like the eyes and hair to help put it together.




That night, I made homemade cake from scratch! White and chocolate cake, and the batter made a lot of extra so he ended up having some for his class and the classes nearby at school on his actual birthday the next day, so that was great. I used a train mold, and the next day in his birthday pjs, he helped decorate it!




He did 4 train cars before he just started to eat the candy and I had to send him away, but it was fun. Meemaw and I finished putting together the trains (though maybe our decorating skills made it look like a 3 year old did all of them, haha!)




That afternoon, his friends arrived! Lily, who he told me the other day is his “best friend”, came over with cookies they baked and did have a couple gifts (John Deere tractors, which he uses to pull around his teddy bears). Jameson wanted to show her his talking book, the reading book that Meemaw and Grandpa actually made for him last year but this year his really has begun to appreciate. It’s Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer.


Here are all the kids at Jameson’s little kid-sized table; also a Christmas gift from last year that we finally put out in the kitchen and have let it stay. It’s a great place for crafting and eating lunch and breakfast. Jameson loves it!


Opening gifts was mass 3-year-old-chaos. Brian and I got him a lot of wooden train set items. He didn’t have any prior to his birthday, so he was outfitted with a Thomas set and a Percy set, some extra straight pieces, and extra train cars. It was a hit with all the kids! He also got a doctor’s set and new sweatshirt from us.


Then it was time for cake! I am pretty sure most of the kids just picked off the candy, but that’s okay.


One of his other favorite gifts were his new scissors from Grandma and Poppa. He loved cutting up paper.


All in all, it felt like the perfect amount of people and the perfect amount of presents. I couldn’t have asked for a better 3 year old, or 3 year old party 🙂

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Party with Chuck

For Jameson’s and Nathan’s birthdays, Nathan’s mother suggested an evening at Chuck E Cheese to celebrate on the 8th. We were pretty excited to take Jameson out, and celebrate with his friend who we otherwise don’t see as often now that Jameson is in the preschool room.

To start, they got special cups. Jameson had lemonade of course.


Then we went to play some games while we waited for food. We had plenty of tokens for two almost-3-year-olds who had no idea what tokens did or what tickets could get you. We started on the little carousel, a Chuck E Cheese staple (I have some photos of myself on one of those as a child, I’m sure).


Jameson and Nathan took turns driving the truck.


Even Coraline got to go, though unfortunately Nathan’s big sister and dad were at home because his sister was ill. Coraline was having so much fun watching the kids play!


Then it was time to eat! Coraline didn’t have any pizza, though we brought her some sweet potatoes and puffs.


Jameson enjoyed the pizza, and then Chuck E Cheese himself came to visit our table and brought a little cake for the boys! Jameson is a pro at meeting fun characters now, so he went right up to him to give him a hug.






After cake, we played some more games. The boys tried to get in the big play center but got stuck when they couldn’t climb any higher (for which we were a little thankful). The moms even got to play a couple rounds of ski ball which was fun!





Coraline was on her best behavior. She is doing this funny thing now where she will babble “mawmmawmmawm” and blow bubbles at the same time. I haven’t quick captured it. It’s hilarious and gross all at the same time.


At the end of the evening, the boys held hands to go get a prize. We had enough tickets for them both to get a whistle and some stickers. They had such a great time, and Jameson was thoroughly convinced after that that he was “already 3”, was “already a big boy”, and had had his party — but we still had another week to go before his real birthday and get together!


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Balloon Birthdays

The Sunday before last, we celebrated with our neighbors for their kids’ 3rd and 1st birthday. They borrowed our bouncer and the day was perfect for it!

The big hit though wasn’t the bouncer but the balloon guy!


The birthday girl got a pink dog first.


Jameson however insisted on a caterpillar despite other suggestions. It actually turned out great though; even the adults were impressed with the caterpillar which seemed very complex as he threaded loops of balloon into one shape.




The birthday boy got a Mickey Mouse, appropriate for their Mickey & Minnie themed party.


Each child got two balloons, and Jameson requested a motorcycle next after he saw another little boy get one. We did have to be careful with this one since Jameson wanted to vroom it along the grass; the grass was pretty dry and sharp and easily popped balloons. Jameson’s stayed intact but a couple of others eventually popped.


We chose one balloon and had all the kids “stand” for a photo. This one cracks me up since Jameson is off “vrooming” his motorcycle and no one is paying attention.


During the party, he tripped while barefoot and got one of his toes bloody from removing a little bit of nail. He wanted bandaids on both toes though to feel better, so we did.


After cake, Lily played with her favorite gift, the doctors outfit. She had to check out Coraline to make sure she was okay!


Meanwhile, Jameson was acting like a crazy dude as always. He loves the cornhole and tries to play it whenever it’s not in use. He also tried to use Lily’s scooter in the grass which was pretty funny.




As you can tell, everyone had a blast!


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Independence Day Cookout

Sunday after the 4th, we had friends join us for a cookout. Weather was beautiful and perfect, of course, for Popsicles. Course, it doesn’t take much for that!



The kids loved the bouncer and climbing toys, running around like crazy. Jameson has continued to get more daring on the bouncer.




Everyone enjoyed watermelon pre, during and post dinner.



After dinner, kids wanted to play more so we opened up the water table and bubbles. We had a little trouble keeping bubbles in the dish, and sharing, so that was a very short-lived activity.



The evening brought with it some shade, so I took Coraline out to try the hammock. She actually seemed to enjoy it! Alternative to swinging? Maybe, except I’d be concerned with spit up.



It was a great day to spend with friends we don’t see as often. And a perfect end to our holiday weekend!

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Pretty Pink Shower

A week and a half ago, we celebrated baby’s girl’s impending arrival with a second baby shower!

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law volunteered to throw a shower, and they did a wonderful job! For decorations, they chose to use washcloths to make adorable flower centerpieces and little washcloth babies!

This time, I didn’t need to worry so much over diet! I enjoyed the pasta salad, cheese and crackers, fruit tray and little sandwiches! And of course, the cake!

While we ate, we played a few games, including the baby playdoh competition and baby word unscramble.

It’s good to be the judge! I selected three winners, including a baby that was on it’s belly for tummy time, a baby sitting up, and a baby with full scenery around it! There were a lot of fun playdoh babies, and I think this was my favorite baby shower game ever.

While you might not think to need a second baby shower or consider if frivolous, I think it is always appropriate to celebrate a new baby if there is opportunity!

Plus, there were definitely some items we still needed. Would you believe we made it through Jameson’s entire baby-hood with just 6 bottles total? I washed those every single night!

Here are a few things I found I needed for a second baby, some of which I registered for and some that I’ve purchased:

  • An umbrella stroller (this is really so that Jameson can also sit in a stroller! And is a cheaper option than the limited time use of a double stroller)
  • Newborn nap lounger (they didn’t have these when I had Jameson, but I heard from recent mothers that they are really nice!)
  • New diaper rash cream
  • More diapers and wipes!
  • New diaper bag (one zipper on ours no longer worked)
  • New bottle nipples for the bottles we currently have, in all ages/sizes… as well as extra bottles since we didn’t have enough last time!
  • A few replacement parts for my pump
  • Bottle warmer! (a real wish to have item that we didn’t get last time)
  • Another cool mist humidifier
  • New pacifiers and several sizes
  • A bath and nursery organizer, since some of that storage stuff went to Jameson’s new room
  • I’m a Big Brother book
  • Pink version of the lullaby glow worm that Jameson loves
  • More plug covers
  • Microwave sterilizer

Even though I registered for a lot of new items, for the most part, baby girl got clothes! Which is okay by me! People love to by little girl outfits, and while I have a lot of gender neutral newborn items, it was nice to receive girl clothing for most of the other baby ages.

About 6 weeks out from our due date now, I’ve already washed a lot, though we are still waiting on baby girl’s new dresser to arrive.

Jameson and dad arrived, and Jameson was a little ball of energy and wanted to be a big helper!

He enjoyed his cake, of which he ate most of the icing and little of the cake part, of course.

It was a wonderful shower, and I had a great time. A big thanks to Emma who took all the photos at the shower for me! After the shower, we had a very-mini-reunion with my friends I grew up with including Emma, Jamie and Tara. I only wish I could’ve enjoyed a drink as well!

And a even bigger thanks to my mother and sister in laws who threw such a wonderful shower for our little girl!

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Elmo Birthday Party

We weren’t originally going to have a party for Jameson, but I got it in my head to make some invitations and it was all over after that.


We did tone it down quite a bit as compared to last year, and banners and party favors were purchased at a party store. They make it so easy! We also invited quite a few less people so the house wasn’t so crowded.

The other Elmo touches were brought in by our cupcakes and fruit tray, inspiration courtesy of Pinterest.

Elmo Cupcakes

Elmo Cupcakes

The cupcakes themselves were a box mix (had to make something easy!); the mouths are Oreos which were tough to cut right. The eyes are large marshmallows, cut in half, and topped with store-bought brownie icing pupils. The noses are candy orange slices.

The icing was the hardest part. I borrowed a fancy icing tool from a friend and used a star tip to get the fur effect, and by the end my thumb was numb for a day or so! We used the red food dye in a tube from the bakery aisle to get the very red color, and used the majority of the small tube for it.

Elmo Fruit Tray

Elmo Fruit Tray

We thought we would half left-over fruit for sure, but as it turns out, young kids love fruit! And parents love giving it to them. We had no fruit left! Brian also made little hot dogs, buffalo chicken dip and a jarlsberg cheese dip. We didn’t actually have that much food left over this time.

And that was about it for Elmo decor! From there, it was all about Jameson, his friends, gifts, blowing out the candle and capturing all those moments on camera.

Playing with Grandma

Jameson’s cousin Griffin loved playing with the boys. He played fort, ball, and assisted wherever he could! Jameson and Jonathan loved him.



Lily, another one of the older kids of the bunch (though only by about 6 months or s0!), also wanted to be a helper! Jameson didn’t mind at all. He’s pretty expert at opening gifts now, but extra hands never hurt!

Opening Gifts

Opening Gifts

Opening Card

I had dad help with most of the unwrapping so I could capture the moments on camera. Jameson was very serious about his gift opening, rarely pausing to relax. This was one of the photos where I actually caught a reaction from him.


Jameson got some new books from mom and dad!

Mr Potato Head

One of the other big hits was the tools. Brian said yesterday Jameson was playing with his toy tape measure and wrapping it around his head (like they did at the doctor’s office just last week!)


Brian’s Uncle Mike and cousins Gabrielle and Griffin gave Jameson extra large gifts!

Big Gifts

Big GIfts

Perfect for his current love of the Lion King and wild animals! Jameson got a couple wild animal playsets. We can’t wait to get these set up for him!

We followed gift opening with dessert!


Blowing out Candles

Jameson actually blew out his own candle! Way to go Jameson!

Eating Cupcakes


He knew they were Elmo cupcakes! Jameson’s friend Jonathan also knew it was Elmo and got very upset when his dad pulled off one of the eyeballs, it was too funny!

After dessert, it was play time again!

Playing Keep Away

Included in the party favors (which I may or may not have forgotten to mention to the first party-leavers, oops!) were whistles, which I’m sure all the parents loved. Jameson’s doesn’t leave his mouth!


We had been telling Jameson “Happy Birthday” all day long, with his response occasionally being “happy day”. Without prompting, at bed time and after goodnights, he told me “happy day!” so sweetly. Yes it was Mr. Jameson!

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Little Gym

The weekend prior (Nov. 10), we had a birthday party to go to at the Little Gym! I was pretty excited to go, since Jameson has never been in a real gym like that, and I thought he would love to climb around. I was right!

Jameson loved climbing over the gym materials, and walking along the balance beam as if he’d already done it before!

He was one of the younger children there, but he enjoyed watching the bigger kids run and jump around too, and taking his own turn when the space cleared up.

They got out the parachute, and he wasn’t sure what to do at first, so I walked him over and helped him hold on to one of the handles. After that, he followed along himself really well!

He didn’t scramble underneath or into the middle with the other kids, but sat on our lap for those activities. I am enjoying my timid little boy while it lasts! I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s jumping in like the rest.

Just this week he seems to start understand how to jump, but that weekend it was all still a mystery for him, and he continued to lift one leg up really high and taking a big leap to try and jump!


After a bit more free play, they rounded up the kids to have snack and open the birthday girl’s gifts. Jameson drenched himself in a cup of water, but luckily we had an overnight bag with spare shirts in the car, ready to take him to grandma’s for the night while we finished more of his big boy room!

He ate all the icing from the cupcake and clearly enjoyed it. He told us he had fun, and we enjoyed watching him run around.

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