Friday, August 27, 2010

Alex is 1!!

This is probably going to be my longest blog post ever! First, because it is documenting a very important occasion - Alex's first birthday! Second, because I took over 600 pictures at his party. I'm not proud of that. In fact, if anything, the fact that I have to take 600 pictures to get 50 that I'm happy with seals my status as a hack photographer. And finally, Alex is just so insanely cute, that it is really hard to narrow down photos of him!

I traveled to Connecticut with Jacob and Elizabeth for Alex's party. I was sad that David and Caroline were not there, but David had a trial on his schedule for a couple of weeks after the party and couldn't be sure he'd be able to leave town for the weekend, and, well, I was not feeling the courage needed to face the friendly skies alone with three kids. (And that was a smart move. I overestimated how easy it would be to fly with "just" an 8 year old and a 5 year old. I had visions of flipping through In Style magazine while the big kids snoozed or played happily with their portable electronic devices. My visions did not include flagging down the flight attendant as the plane was taxiing out to the runway to see if I could take a sobbing 5 year old (who had gone to the potty not 10 minutes earlier) to the potty. Or managing a grumpy 8 year old, who was rather vocal about the injustice of being booted from the window seat when the 5 year old was afraid to take off and wanted to sit next to me. Or SPRINTING with these two (carrying 5 bags myself because the kids are not yet able to sprint and carry bags at the same time) from gate A32 to E1 when we landed at 4:25 and our connection was scheduled to leave at 4:35. Yup, we missed you, Caroline, but I know you had fun with your daddy this weekend, and I would have needed extensive therapy afterwards if you had been flying with us).

Let's start with the cute party details.

The giraffe centerpiece:

Jungle animal table:

Diane and Sal baked and decorated these AMAZING animal cookies. They did an incredible job. I have decorated cookies before (not nearly as well as this though!) and I know what a nightmare it is. I have such talented family members!

Adorable birthday cake!

The dessert spread - yum.


Jacob and Elizabeth, party hats on and ready to go!

Okay, now let's move to the all-important first birthday cake extravaganza!

Daddy putting on the cake bib.

With his mommy, getting ready to sing happy birthday.

Blowing out the candle!!

He sees the cake. He's going in.

Not completely sure about this.

Hands off, pondering this completely new genre of food.

Yes, he likes this cake thing after all.

Alex is fully immersed in his cake by this point. Hat is off. He means business.

I know I am biased because I'm his aunt. But I have been around a lot of babies, and I have NEVER seen a happier baby than Alex. He is always smiling. I hope that Diane and Sal will consider bottling some of that happy juice that they feed this boy - I will be first in line to buy some!

Another day, another reason to clap his hands in delight!

Alex with his cousins.

We had fun watching Alex open his presents. Alex seemed to enjoy it too (although I think Alex would enjoy a lecture on the molecular structure of polypropylene pellets - there isn't much that this kid isn't happy about!)

With his two adoring Grandmas - lucky lucky boy.

Happy boy with happy mom & dad.

This was such a party highlight. Alex was in the middle of opening presents when he decided to stop what he was doing, pull up on his new Radio Flyer Walker Wagon, and go for a little walk around the house. Everybody was cheering and laughing - he put on quite a show for us! Here is is, heading back into the den after his little jaunt, quite pleased with himself. That's Grandpa P behind him!

After the party winded down, Diane and Sal took Alex outside to see one last birthday present - his new sandbox!!

Of course Jacob and Elizabeth made themselves right at home in it alongside Alex.

The one year old with Grandma C.

Getting a smooch from Grandma P.

With Grandpa P:

And with Grandpa C:

Here is the beautiful family!

I love this little cutie pie! Happy Birthday, Alex!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My baby is 3!

My baby turned 3 yesterday. I am not one to get overly sentimental on birthdays because I really think my kids just get more fun and amazing with each passing year. But something about Caroline turning three kind of got me. One year olds are just upright babies to me; two year olds still have a lot of baby left in them, but three year olds? There is no way around it -- three year olds are no longer babies. So with Caroline turning three, we officially have no more babies in the house. Thankfully, there is so much noise and chaos around here that I don't really have the time or silent moments of peace needed to reflect on that. Moving on . . .

We had great day. Caroline and I had lunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe, and I let her open numerous jelly packets to celebrate her big day. I also let her try to spread her own jelly with a butter knife (but drew the line at her licking the knife. On second thought, maybe we DO still have a baby in the house . . .) Then we went to Smith's to pick out a birthday toy. Caroline chose a plastic, feathery tiara, as seen in this picture:

We picked up the big kids from school and went to Yogurt Lab, and then came home and heard, what else?, the ice cream truck. Back to back ice cream (followed by cake and ice cream) -- that's what birthdays are all about.

Apparently I've set some unfortunate precedent on the party front, because my firstborn seemed to think that Caroline's party was lame. I did not have presents wrapped for her when we got home. The house was not decorated. There was no labeled food. I explained that we'll have a party for Caroline in a couple of weeks, but Jacob did not think that that excused the lack of pomp and ceremony on her actual birthday. I think I see some deprogramming in our future. In any event, Caroline seemed to enjoy her simple dinner (pasta, her request) and simple store bought cake (sorry, third born child) and simple present opening with just the five of us.

To placate Jacob, who could not forgive the absence of decorations, we hung Caroline's present (a play tent) in her room. It is very sweet and whimsical; what kid wouldn't like playing in this?

(Yikes, that thing needs to be ironed!)

Caroline LOVED the castle that Aunt Diane, Uncle Sal and Alex gave her!

Here she is, sitting in it and pretend blowdrying her hair:

And she loved spinning in the princess dress from Uncle Grady, Aunt Kimberly, Nolen and Cantrell!

I love my birthday girl so much!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Elizabeth's First day of kindergarten!

Yesterday was a big day - Elizabeth started kindergarten. We met her teacher the day before (very sweet, Elizabeth loved her) and had a popsicle in the park with some other kindergartners. While it is always bittersweet to send your baby off to big school, Elizabeth was very ready to start.

The carpool line is always a nightmare at the beginning of the school year. I guess it's because of the kindergartners, or maybe we've all forgotten the drill over the summer. So even though we got to school a good 15 minutes early, we sat parked in the carpool line, and Jacob was getting more and more nervous as the clocked ticked closer to the first bell. I finally told the kids that I'd let them bail when we got to the big tree (which is a little closer to the school). You are technically not supposed to let the kids out of the car until you are in front of the building, but there is really no safety reason for that -- they walk onto the same sidewalk no matter when they get out -- and it was clear to me that breaking the "be on time for school" rule would be much more distressing to Jacob than the "don't get out of the car until you are in front of the building" rule -- and since we were clearly going to have to break one or the other, I let the kids out. I had to swallow hard as I watched Elizabeth walk off (she suddenly looked tiny under her huge backpack!), but boy, they looked so cute and happy as they marched towards school that it was really hard to feel anything but pride and joy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jacob's first day of school

Jacob starts third grade today!! He was really disappointed that summer was ending, as he declared it to be "the best summer ever!," but he seemed to come around a bit after meeting his teacher yesterday. He was really excited to come home and get his desk ready, organize his bookcase and sharpen his pencils. And he went well beyond the call of duty when he completed his first homework assignment last night -- he was supposed to write down all the states he visited this summer, but he went ahead and wrote an essay about what he did in each state, and then asked if we could print out a picture of him in each state for him to glue to his essay. I was thrilled that he seemed so enthusiastic about his homework (although the enthusiasm may really more about what he did this summer, hmmmmm . . .)

Here he is, ready for the first day!

Elizabeth starts kindergarten tomorrow - stay tuned!