Thursday, January 31, 2013

Birthday Bash

After throwing a big family party at our house last year for Becker's 1st birthday I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the whole thing again this year. It's a lot of work you know! I knew I didn't want to have it at our small house if we did have a party and after lots of back and forth, I decided that yes we would do a party and it would be at a petting zoo. The petting zoo is the obvious choice for this little animal lover. The party planning got rolling and several trips to various stores and online orders later, the party was coming together. The petting zoo itself has a lot of ambiance so the barnyard theme was pretty easy to flow with. Gingham table cloths, mason jars for drinks, bandanas and pails for the kids, a barn pinata filled with plastic animals, play-doh and crayons. It all came together really well and Becker, his friends and extended family had a blast at the party. Who doesn't love lots of cuddly guinea pigs and goats to feed, a train and a pony ride?

We had some great feedback on the decor so I thought I'd post it here. First off each child got a pail with a bandana, quarter for goat food and tickets for a basket of animal veggies as well as tickets to ride the ponies and the train. The pails would later be used to collect items from the pinata. Here are the pails all set up:

Since these are 2 year olds, I knew I had to provide toddler friendly drinks. I am not big on box drinks and all those "kid" things.  Becker drinks water 99% of the time. Since water is our household's main beverage, I bought a few cases of mini waters from good old Trader Joe's and replaced their labels with colored duct tape. Easy peasy, party ready.

We also decided to offer lemonade and iced tea to our party guests.  Mason jars are all the rage for parties and the barnyard theme was begging for some jars with little name tags for the drinks. Not only is it eco friendly, but it's totally cute. Something about drinking from a mason jar is just fun. I bought pint sized jars for adults and smaller, 8 ounce jars for the kids. We found some great paper straws on Etsy here.  Mark drilled holes the size of the straws into the tops of the smaller jars to make spill proof cups for the kiddos. *Tip: Place each center circle for the lids on the same jar when drilling so you only have to clean metal shavings out of one jar.  I used a chopstick to smooth out the edges after the holes were drilled.  Also leave lids on all of the jars until the party starts so the insides stay clean.* They turned out really cute and the kids liked their personalized glasses.

Larger jars for the adults, straws and markers to write names.

The birthday boy himself drinking water from our homemade mason jar straw cups

The party was from 9-12 so we went with light, kid friendly food. Fruit salad, pasta salad, hummus & pita chips along with metal pails of Annie's Snack mix, and dried fruit and nuts lining the center of the tables.  I wrapped up the silverware in napkins and tied each bundle with twine and found a cute chicken wire basket to display them in at World Market. The little wooden farm is from Melissa & Doug.  Becker received it as a gift for Christmas and since it happened to fit our theme perfectly, I set it aside until now. 

Becker requested cupcakes for his birthday party. When researching cupcake recipes I debated between a quinoa cupcake and "The Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake"......Can you guess which I chose? Special vanilla paste was ordered and I chose these cupcake toppers from Etsy to adorn the homemade goodness. I needed triple the recipe so instead of risking messing the whole thing up by tripling it, I made the whole recipe three times. This took the better part of the day before the party with Becker's help. I spiraled the frosting with a ziplock bag the night before and added the cupcake toppers once we set up at the venue.

Mark really wanted to have a pinata. I was a little iffy on this one as we were at a petting zoo and I didn't want to send the wrong message of having the kids whack a paper animal just moments after petting and feeding one. Perfection: I found a barn pinata with pull ribbons. Instead of smacking the pinata, each child pulls a ribbon and one of the ribbons opens the bottom of the pinata, releasing the goods. I filled the pinata with items from Target; mini play dough tubs, markers, crayons, plastic barn animals, stickers and organic fruit leather.  The final string was really hard to pull so everyone had at least one turn, even when the boys pulled a handful of the ribbons.

The boys taking turns pulling a ribbon.
I think they enjoyed it!

Happy Birthday Baby! We all had a blast celebrating YOU!

Monday, January 28, 2013


Dear Becker,

When you turned one, you were a baby, and now as you turn two, you are a little boy.  I look at you and cannot believe how much you have changed in the past twelve months and all that you have accomplished.  This year you learned to walk! Those first few steps are still a thrilling memory in my mind.  We cheered you on with all our might, but also tried to conceal our excitement so as not to jar your concentration.  Once you started walking, it seemed like a matter of days before you were running. Fast.  You have not stopped running since.  You run everywhere.  You mastered using a fork and spoon this year and expanded your palette to include mustard salmon and quinoa salad.  You have been a very willing eater, some days eating more than Daddy or myself.  You built up a pretty impressive vocabulary this year starting with Dada, Bobo and finally Mama.  It was hard to wait to hear you say my name.  Once you picked up a few more words, your first phrase was "Bobo Come!" And then you added "now" to most word combinations.  Now we can have quite the conversation and you amaze me daily using words in context that I did not know you knew.  I love that you can tell me when your teeth hurt or you are hungry.  You can tell me about things that happened in the past and how they made you feel.  I've watched you refine language sometimes before I was even able to get the blooper on tape.  The time you said, "finger pits" instead of finger tips and how you say, "double double X,Y,Z!"  When you try to take your temperature with the forehead thermometer you always tell us your temperature is "forty-two feet".  We have no idea where you got that one!  You are kind, loving and willing to share.  You never went through separation anxiety, always comfortable in the care of someone who loves you.  You always offer to share, even cookies that you rarely get to eat.  That always amazes me as you have no fear that there is not enough or won't be more.  You love to help and want to help with everything from laundry to vacuuming and cooking.  Doing housework with you has become fun and I am so happy that you enjoy the little things that are just part of being in a family.  You love animals and watching your excitement and gentle kindness with them is a beautiful thing to behold.  When you caught that "bun bun" in Rio Linda you fell in love instantly and whenever you see the photo you whisper, "oh bun bun" so longingly and sweet.  You talk about your animal encounters with such enthusiasm and love.  This is why we planned to have your second birthday party at a petting zoo.  It's just so fitting for you right now.  You share your toys with ease, never grabbing, allowing your friends free range to all of your favorites.  I did not teach you that, it just came naturally to you and I am in awe.  You must have gotten it from Daddy because I am still not great at sharing.  I am so proud of the person you are becoming, and so excited to see what the coming year brings.  I hope I took enough photos (probably too many) and videos.  I never want to forget the sound of your voice at this age.  How you say, "family hug!" when you see me hug Daddy and you rush over calling "Bodi come in family hug" to join us.  You lay your head on my shoulder and quietly say "family."  That's what it's all about kiddo, and you are wiser than your two short years.

I love you always,


Monday, January 7, 2013

Lucky Rainbow

We saw the most beautiful rainbow while driving in the afternoon rain yesterday.  The sun was out and the rain was coming down and then there it was, the brightest rainbow I'd ever seen.  Not only was it that, but there was a faint second rainbow as well.  Hello double rainbow!  We were able to see it for quite a while as we drove and Becker loved the bright colors painting the sky in front of him.  At times we could see the entire thing, where it touched down on both sides.  Thankfully Mark was driving because I was giddy bouncing back and forth in the back seat, trying to get photos out the back windows like a rainbow paparazzi.  We were too close to get the whole thing in one shot.  At one point we were actually the touchdown point.  Right in our car.  It felt like something special.  A rainbow is one of those whimsical, magical things and there it was arched out in front of us and then landing on us.  Boom! (ok there was no sound)  We were the pot of gold.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that was a good omen.  Seriously, how often does that happen? 

We had been on our way to a friend's house when we saw it and when we left it was dark out.  Becker wanted to see the rainbow.  It had been there when we arrived and now it was gone.  How do you explain a rainbow to a not quite 2 year old?  You can't see it when it's dark, and it won't be back tomorrow like the sun.  It's just something special you get to see for a few minutes.

So here it is in 3 pieces straight out of the iphone.  Both touch downs and the middle. 
It's pretty awesome.

rainbow rainbow

My favorite nice and big:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Our Month with Pickle

We had a lot of fun with Pickle this month.  Becker enjoyed finding him every day and telling him "good morning" and "good night."  One afternoon in the car Becker said, "Pickle go back with Santa, Becker open presents." and I knew he understood the concept as explained in the book.  We told Becker that Santa said he could give Pickle and good-bye hug and kiss and this was the one time it was alright to touch him.  On Christmas Eve we said our good-byes to Pickle before Becker went to bed.  In the week after Christmas Becker has mentioned that Pickle is at the North Pole with Santa and will be back next year.  Here is a collage of our month with Pickle.