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Thursday, April 25, 2013

a Very Hungry Caterpillar party!

Party Time
When I was pregnant with my second child I decided that a 1st birthday party based on the Eric Carle book, A Very Hungry Caterpillar would be adorable! I know that sounds crazy, choosing a birthday theme super early. But at the time Pinterest had become popular so I was on there all the time looking up random things anyway and just started finding cute birthday ideas.

A week before I gave birth to my then question mark baby (we didn't know if it was a boy or girl yet) I happened to find super cute Hungry Caterpillar invitations at a consignment sale for $2! I had to have them ... a year early! Crazy, yes, totally. And yet thrifty, too, don't be jealous!

We started taking my daughter's pictures next to this caterpillar every week. Here she is below in her last weekly photo! We liked comparing her size to the caterpillar as she grew.

The craziest thing about all of this pre-party planning super early was that my daughter, Addisyn, did in fact become the Very Hungry Caterpillar, always hungry, never full enough from food, and growing growing all the time!

We had my daughter's party at home with just our immediate family and her Godparents. Our immediate family is 30+ people and our house is small, so we had a small-ish party. We did play dates with a few close friends the week of her birthday to celebrate with her buddies.

I found these bibs on a Mama Swap Facebook trading group for a couple of dollars. I was SO excited to find the birthday girl one, because it looks just like the one I had for my son that I took his one-year photos in and wanted to re-create her photo in! (another post coming soon with those pictures!)

I have thought it's so cute on Pinterest when people decorate the high chair, so I decided to do this last minute with ribbon I'd had lying around the past 4 years from my wedding centerpieces! Because this little one was born the day before my wedding anniversary, it was perfect for her chair's decorations. 

The kids' gift bags were super cute and fun to put together. Another example of where early planning comes in handy and good for a budget ... I got these bags at Target in the dollar bins last August - 8 months before her party! They were too cute to pass up at only a dollar!

I don't feel all parties need favors. I thought favors were silly for our wedding. Yet the last couple of birthday parties I've done for my children I've found cute favors to go with the theme so I had to have them. I like to include in the favor something they can use there at the party, so in this favor the kids had coloring pages and crayons, bubbles, a lollipop, etc.

In each bag were some stickers, crayons and coloring pages from the Hungry Caterpillar book that I printed online for free, fruit snacks to go with the fruit theme in the book, bubbles, a lollipop as also in the book, and a butterfly party blow toy. I also found these adorable snack containers with the caterpillar on them. Other babies got drink cups with the same print on it. The birthday girl got the same print on a plate and silverware. Those were also found last August in the Target dollar bin :) I find you can get the best and cutest party items when you aren't looking but have an idea ahead of time in the back of your mind. 

I absolutely LOVED this banner! I am creative enough to find things on Pinterest and copy them to make them my own, but I am not a banner-maker type of gal for some reason I just don't have the skills or patience. So when fellow mommy from the Mommy Stories, Shaylyn Masse, offered to pass along to me the banner she'd used for her child's 1st birthday I was ecstatic! LOVED this!

I added clothespins with my daughter's monthly pictures next to her caterpillar toy. 


We had people sign a hard cover Hungry Caterpillar book for Addisyn to keep from her first birthday.

I had wanted bright yellow daffodils, but they weren't fresh and looking good so my favorite, daisies, it was for the window. My husband's friend gave him these cool glass bottles with our name on it, too!

The colors were purple and green, like the caterpillar and butterfly from the book. I also had polka dots going on there, too. The food was all from the book - lost of fruit and veggies.

I got this picture of my daughter blown up large at Wal-Mart for $5! She was a week old. Love having newborn pictures to look at when celebrating a first birthday. The first birthday is totally for the parents to reminisce and celebrate, too, the job well done they did that first year.

We had Caesar salad to go along with the green leaf from the book. 

My husband made delicious fruit pizza and got super creative with it - he made a caterpillar out of the blueberries, strawberry and kiwi on the left side, and also made the shape of A for Addisyn out of bananas in the middle. Totally cute and all his idea! 

I made a corn, bean, peppers, tomatoes, etc. salad. 

These were so yummy - antipasto skewers! So easy to make and delicious. I wanted veggies and also I wanted to tie in family heritage. I'm Italian so an antipasto salad was perfect. They had salami, turkey pepperoni, mozzarella pearls, grape tomatoes, fresh basil, peppers, and balasalmic dressing on them. My dad thought I was a chef making these, but really they were simple and yummy. 

 I used these #1 toothpicks at my son's birthday party a few years ago and luckily had some left. I made these mini cherry pies, another idea from the book. They were REALLY easy. You take pie crust, cut out round circles of it, put those into cupcake holders, bake for about 10-15 minutes. Then fill with cherry pie filling. I topped with a little sugar. Easy!

I tossed in some cantaloupe in the ice cream cones because it was just a fun thing for the kids. I wanted watermelon, but it wasn't as ripe in season in April so I went with the melon instead. The cones were from the book also.

Fruit and fruit dip, of course, from the book. We also put gummi worms all over the food to represent caterpillars eating through everything.

Caterpillar grape skewers!

Pepperidge Farms butterfly crackers, of course! 

 I have seen cute wrapped water bottles on Pinterest the last two years and wanted to try it myself. I got this duct tape at Target for a dollar and the stickers from an Eric Carle store. My son helped me decorate them. It was much more work than it was worth, so I'm glad I tried it because they came out cute but probably won't be doing that again for a party! They are super cute though :)

We also had homemade pink punch from my mother-in-law. My husband made dirt cake - pudding with Oreos, etc. with gummi worms in it for dessert for everyone. We figured that went with the whole caterpillar theme. That isn't something I found on Pinterest, we made it up ourselves, especially since it's a favorite family recipe.

We got the paper products at Wal-Mart. I found those polka dot napkins months ago and thought they matched caterpillar world perfectly! The cups that silverware is in I got at Target last summer in the dollar bin.

My baby girl's birthday cake! I LOVED this :) Thanks to my talented friend, Jessie Legere, she made this little cake for our little caterpillar to dig her hands into. It was perfect size.

We played outside because we had a perfect sunny spring day. We had sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a kite, wagon rides, sandbox and other outside toys.

I got this skirt for her when she was two months old and hoped and prayed it would still fit her when I went to put it on her before the party. Butterflies! The tights, well they were in the drawer and super fun, so why not, I thought?! Converse shoes were her brother's and I found the shirt at a consignment sale, super excited to find it because it matched the bib we had.

The big brother needed his special shirt to wear, too, since he got to celebrate being a big bro, after all since it was his first time, too!

We had a great day! It was definitely the Hungry Caterpillar party I'd been imagining. We had balloons, bubbles, cake, an adorable little girl who was now an official beautiful butterfly, tons of family and love. Love first birthday parties!

Our happy girl :) 

one proud mama!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dear 1-year-old Addisyn,

Dear Addisyn Rose,

It's hard to believe a whole year has gone by since you surprised us with sending me into labor the day before your scheduled C-section! I was so surprised you were coming that day. I was scared, as it wasn't as we had planned. Yet you were ready. And it's been like that for a year, such a sweet surprise, ready to take on the world.

I remember your birth story, so glad I documented it here

I kept repeating, "I have a daughter! It's a girl?!" 
So blessed to have one of each, after your brother.

My first thought when I saw you was, "She's perfect. She's mine." 
And it's been that way all year. From the first day in the hospital when we sent you to the nursery at night for an hour. I just wanted an hour to sleep, because it was my goal this time around to make sure I got the rest I needed. Well, you had other plans. You screamed in the nursery, woke the other babies up, and no nurse could console you. So they brought you back to me. Within seconds when placed in my arms you stopped crying and fell asleep. You've been a momma's girl ever since.

You were a champion nurser this year. You latched on within 10 minutes of being born! I was so sweetly surprised by that. Our connection this past year through nursing has been amazing. I'm so lucky I got to experience that with you, my little hungry caterpillar. I've told everyone that you made nursing easy. This was so special to me since it didn't work out that way with your brother. Knowing we did it, together, for a whole year, makes me so proud!

I swear you've been smiling since the beginning, too! 
Here you are two days old below.

And four weeks old...

And a year old... same silly, squinty eyes, scrunchy face smile - just like your mama.

I adore that smile. Everyone we see in stores, every family member who holds you and laughs at your giggle, everyone who comments on your pictures ... they all say the same thing, "What a happy baby, happiest girl ever!" We've heard that since you were teeny tiny. We've been so lucky.

We were a little afraid when we took you home from the hospital though, I have to admit. 
You screamed the entire way home. The second you were placed in the car you instantly started screaming. Really loud screams, tears, shaking, get me the hell out of here type of screaming. Screaming I had never heard before, because your brother was a kinda quiet guy in the beginning. I was terrified. We drove 30 minutes like that, with me on my knees, arching over to the back seat to try to sing to you, say your name over and over, consoling you without success. That hurt my C-section scar! But once we stopped the car and I put you in my arms, you stopped.

You just needed me. You remained that way for 6 weeks... we were a little nervous, wondering how long this would last, this needing to be close to us thing. If we put you in another room you would screech and make noises. If you were in the same room as us, not necessarily held, you were fine. You wanted to be part of everything from the start. I kept you in the carrier wearing on me for those first 6 weeks a lot, and beyond, but you just needed to be close to us early on, as if to feel a part of this big family you joined. I joked with people in the beginning, saying you had to get used to us - loud brother running around, loud dad talking, loud mama. We named you Diva from the beginning ... slightly demanding and loud with your wants, impatient at first, and all girl.

Once you got used to us and we got used to you, it was smooth sailing. 
Our new family of 4. You've definitely completed us, Addi Rose. You made me a mom to two. That is a huge deal! It was harder than I imagined at first, and has surprisingly gotten easier as you've grown bigger.

Thanks for teaching me that I'm a super strong mom, that I really can do anything this motherhood adventure throws at me. 

I had some low moments in the beginning of this with you, wondering how the heck I'd do this with two of you needing me all the time. Through it all, you were patient, and had a smile on your face every day. That is what helped me through this learning curve. You were the absolute perfect second baby ever. Hands down, I swear you'd win awards, little girl!

It's been fun dressing you up in pinks and purples - and yet also in browns, greens and yellows and blues from your brother's old clothes. I remember the first day in the hospital when your Memere showed up with bundles of pink clothes and frills and dresses. I told her, that's cute and all, but this little girl is going to wear Carhartts and John Deere, too, and get messy in the mud running after her brother. I pictured you growing up like our cousin's girl, who wears dresses and jewelry with camo shirts and baseball hats. Your brother has taught you well already.

Thanks for teaching your brother how to be a big bro, too. 
You certainly had some patience in that department. I think you've fallen and taken the brunt more than any baby I know just having an active toddler boy around! I hope when you're bigger you two are super close like you have been this year.

I love you, little one. 
I barely cried on your birthday like I did with your brother's first birthday. I think because now I know what's in store for us - even cooler, more fun and exciting moments than we've had this first year. Of course, a part of me is sad you're growing so fast. I literally never ever recall a year going by so fast as this first year with you. Yet I know that walking is coming and throwing sand and swimming and chasing after your brother. It's all coming and I can't wait for it to be here so I can laugh along with you.

Keep smiling, baby girl. 
Your smile makes everything light up, especially my heart. 


Saturday, April 6, 2013


*This post is part of a series about getting organized in 2013, 
from our new Moms On a Mission = M.O.M. project , 
see February 2013 posts for more great ideas!*

If you've been following since February you are getting yourself organized in this Moms On a Mission to get organized in 2013 adventure we've been on. We've gone through the entire house so far. Just a few last minute items that may need some help in getting organized.

KIDS' TOYS - I keep my kids' toys in bins that are labeled. Like things together (trucks, animals, balls, etc.). All figures and people go in a bag together. All the Mr. Potato Head stuff together in another bag. All the baby toys (for less than a year old, like rattles, etc.) go in its own bucket so they are kept nice together and last longer. My husband thinks it's silly that I keep all toys in like order together, but honestly it's made my son happiest when we do that. He can ALWAYS find what he's looking for, and pieces don't get broken or lost this way. We keep puzzles up high on a shelf and take them out to work on together instead of just allowing our son to use them whenever, because we found this way we don't lose the pieces. I go through my son's kitchen set and organize the toys in there every couple of weeks so we again don't lose things.

At least 3 times a year (once before Christmas to donate toys to needy families, and then once in the fall and once in the spring before kids' consignment sales I work at for a local school) I go through every single bucket of toys our kids have. I go through all books, too. We get rid of things we see our kids haven't even touched or have duplicates of to make room for more coming in from the holidays and birthdays. We have a small house so can't store it all.

I know another great trick my sister uses is to rotate through toys. She will pack up tons of toys and put them  in storage, take out other ones that have been packed away and her son thinks it's Christmas all over again with new things to play with!

We've also been strategic in where we put certain toys in the house. We have music (aka loud and possibly will wake up the sleeping baby!) toys in the back of our house in a play area. We also have blocks in there because it's the best place in the house to leave toys out and not worry about anyone stepping on them.

ADULT CLOTHES & SHOES - Go through everything you have every season or at least a couple of times a year. Get rid of whatever doesn't fit or hasn't been worn during this past season. Don't hold on to things for random reasons. Donate them and make room to get more if you want! Shoes, I keep on a shoe rack hanging on the back of my bedroom door. Such a great space saver. Keep them in order of season, when you intend to wear them so they are easy to locate when getting ready.

For our kids' shoes we have a large plastic bin of their old shoes. I try to wash them first before putting them in there so they are ready for the next kid to use when they fit.

MAIL STATION -  Update your address book. I have many friends who move a lot so I started last year writing in pencil the date that I put that address in the book so it reminded me if it was a new address or not. Have supplies available -s tamps, everything in one place, blank envelopes and paper, etc. You must have a desk space designated for bills, etc. Go through mail DAILY, don't let it pile up. Get rid of flyers and junk mail ASAP when you walk in the door. Better yet, sign up for online bills instead of getting paper copies.

PHOTOS - Update and organize frequently on your computer. Make photo books of your year by adding to them monthly instead of waiting until the end of a year to go back through 12 months of pictures. This is something I'm still needing to get better at. Upload your pictures from your camera often. Don't wait months to get those pics off the camera. Delete them while they are still on the camera, after an event. Whatever way you choose to showcase your photos - albums where you print the pics and put them in, digital photo books online, frames, etc. just do it!

CAR - You spend a lot of time in your car probably, so make sure it's comfortable and stress-free in there! Take out what you brought in the car that day. Have a trash bag and empty it every time you get gas. Keep a first aid kit, sun hats, etc. in there at all times for just in case adventures. We also keep a stroller all the time and a full diaper bag.

Check out some more ideas for organizing at my Pinterest board, get organized, mama!

I hope you have been able to use even one of these last couple of months of organization tips to organize yourself a little more. Organization = happier, less stressed, more money, more productive lives! One final piece about organizing coming next.... spring cleaning!