On Sunday afternoon, we had our closest friends & family over to celebrate her big day with a cupcake-themed bash. The weather turned from a rainy, cold morning to bright, sunny and 65 degrees during the party. We lucked out!
The party guests ranged in age from 8 months to 8 years old, so we had a variety of activities set up for all ages. Craft tables for the older kids, mini-cupcake decorating for all ages and a ton of outside toys in the driveway for kids to ride on and push. I picked up a mini-bounce house at Toys R’ Us the day before the party (7’x7′) and was filled with kids during the entire party!
If I was a good blogger, I would have taken detailed pictures of all the activities and put them on Pinterest. I have to be completely real with y’all though and let you know the tables weren’t “Pinterest-craft-blogger beautiful,” though functional. I wish I could say I made the cake and cupcakes too, but I didn’t. I bought them from Wright’s Dairy Farm (North Smithfield, RI) and they were DELICIOUS! Wright’s does a fantastic job and has the best customer service. I first tasted their cake at Jen’s (Keekoin.com) daughter’s party this summer and knew I had to get one for our parties. The cake was a yellow cake with strawberry filling and REAL whipped cream frosting. Amazing.
I’ve known what our birthday party entertainment would be since January when we bought a Rock-a-Baby birthday party at our friend’s fundraiser. We had Rock-a-Baby come to Jackson’s first birthday party and knew that since Sidney LOVES music that they were a must for her first party. The kids had a blast dancing and singing along!
Sidney’s first birthday party will probably be the last birthday we host at our house for some time. It was easier 2 years ago when our friends just had 1 kid, but in the past 2 years our crew has exploded with most families having 2-3 kids a piece. What was 10 kids per party has now transformed to 30 kids! I love our big families but it will be a lot easier letting someone up set up & clean up (which is why I already have Monkey Joe’s booked for Jackson’s party in 6 weeks.)
Yesterday was a perfect reminder of how wonderful our friends and families are. My Mom and Step-dad flew in from Florida for the weekend, so it was nice to have some Florida family at the party. Family and friends are what life is all about and getting together at celebrations is one of my favorite blessings.
I made a quick, 3 minute video for Sidney’s first year if you want to check it out:
Please accept my apologies for being late on your letter this month (again). You’re almost a year old and I’m just now getting the time to write your 11 month letter. Let me start off by letting you know that even at 11.5 months old, you are “little miss thing.” Your sass and strength always bring a smile to Dad & me.
You’re learning how to walk now, but still rely on cruising along the coffee table or wall and strolling behind baby shopping carts and walkers. I believe if you let go you’d be able to walk on your own with no problem. That’s sort of how life is though, isn’t it Sidney Girl? You never know what you are capable of until you let go and just do it. If I was a betting woman, I would bet on you walking by your first birthday (which happens to be in 2 weeks).
In the past month you got your first tooth! It’s a lower tooth, right in the middle, and appears to be perfect! You weren’t too dramatic when it came in either (much less dramatic than your big brother when he got his first tooth). One of my favorite parts of having two children is seeing how different you and your brother are, even with the exact same genetics and environment. If I had to guess what careers you and Jackson would have, I would guess actor or doctor for Jackson and professional athlete or comedian for you.
You love to “work a room” with your tricks, including rubbing your hand across your mouth until everyone in the room laughs. Here’s a video of you “racing” Jackson in your walker, complete with the little snorting you do to get laughs from anyone in the room.
You still love to eat and your absolute favorite food in the world is ICE CREAM. If you spot the cups that Daddy and I use to eat ice cream out of, you absolutely fly across the room to get yourself a taste. It’s endearing. You still love mac & cheese mixed with peas and will only eat baby food (like prunes) if it is in a squeezie and you can feed yourself. Miss Independent.
You still nap twice a day, but sleeping at night has taken a turn for the worse this month. I think you’re working on new milestones (like walking) and your brain keeps you up at night. I don’t mind, because when you’re a teenager trying to sleep all day I will remember these nights…
My children could not be more opposite. One is thin, the other chunky. One was born a with bald blonde head and the other had a thick, dark mane from day 1. One hates to eat, one could win an eating contest at 9 months old. With no teeth. Now that Sidney is mobile, we can add to the list of opposites:fear. Jackson has always been very cautious (like his father) while Sidney’s personality is revealing that she is much more of a daredevil (like me) and doesn’t fear anything.
While taking a bath tonight, Sidney decided that she should take her first step. In a bath tub. Full of water. She didn’t even blink when she crashed into the water. Her brother on the other hand, has always been concerned with “what could happen.” This includes the dangers of bathing when he was just an infant through today, where he has been known to cry throughout his entire swim lesson.
Adding to the list of firsts for Sidney tonight, she also decided to stand up and relieve herself. As in #2. I noticed her face turn red and before I could get her out of the tub I heard a PLOP and at the bottom of the tub laid a turd-apple. I’m totally trademarking turd-apple too, because since I left for BlogHer she has been battling constipation with only an occasional turd-apple for relief– they look exactly how they sound. My Mom would update me on her poop situation with a simple text “one munchkin today, that’s it.” She wasn’t talking about the good kind of chocolate munchkin either.
Anyhow, my little dare devil is finally sleeping well after the turd-apple fell to its watery grave. I have a feeling she is going to be walking very soon. Then the real challenge begins and our dog goes into permanent hiding.
Introducing Dora in the pink, Charlie wearing the baseball shell and Tebow sporting the alligator (of course)…
In a moment of weakness yesterday, I stopped at the hermit crab shack in the mall. I’ve always avoided it because I have a soft spot in my heart for hermit crabs (story about that later), but today Jackson pointed and said “Mama, look at that crab, it’s BOOTI-FUL!!!” I assured him that we would stop back by to see them after going to the Apple store to get my dead iPhone checked out. Forty-five minutes later, a perfectly well-behaved 2.5 year old and an *almost* 8 month old stopped at the “Crab Shack.”
You’re probably wondering about my “soft spot” for hermit crabs. You see, I owned a hermit crab as a child. Until my parents and I went on vacation and I returned to find just a small brown blob in the aquarium where my friendly crab used to reside. If the internet was around back then, I would have been googling “hermit crab implodes” or “hermit crab blob.” No internet, so after I cried for days my older step brother confessed that my crab died during a party and he threw it away. A “kind” party goer happened to spit a wad of chewing tobacco in its place, which explained the blob of brown granules. My poor crab hadn’t died, but was only transferring shells (something I had long prepared for by buying extra shells to leave in its habitat). I’m a little scarred by the incident to be completely honest with you.
I’m excited for these little crabs to be part of our family now. I also love that Jackson can learn some responsibility by “helping” feed, water and clean the crabs’ house. These guys have to be easier than a puppy…
One tired little dude with an Alligator face at the end of the party!
This time last year, I was 5 months pregnant and we were building our house. Fast forward through moving in during the Fall, having a baby and planning a fundraiser for a dear friend we are now enjoying Summer in New England.
I don’t believe I have ever written about how much I LOVE our new neighborhood, especially since we live near some great friends (who I originally met on Twitter through a mutual friend and then we realized we were building houses *literally* around the corner from each other). One of our first goals after moving in was to organize a block party so all of our neighbors could meet. It’s a new development with a little over 20 houses completed. I knew a few families here and there, but we hadn’t gotten the chance to get everyone together yet.
My friend Kelly and I took charge and had a casual meeting with a couple of other neighbor Moms and delegated responsibilities for the party. Some of the things we found most helpful with planning a block party in a brand new neighborhood were:
Start a *closed* neighborhood group page on Facebook (so conversations are private)
About a month before the party, drop off a flyer to every house with the party date, Facebook group address & an email contact since not everyone is on Facebook (don’t put the flyers in mailboxes because you might get a threatening email from the Postmaster… just saying). We found that about 60% of the neighborhood was on Facebook.
When people offer to bring something, let them! Organize party needs such as food, drink, entertainment and divy up the responsibilities to those that offer.
Make the party fun by assigning hours to certain houses/areas with a theme. For example, we had a BBQ theme at 2 houses, then we moved across the street to a Mexican theme, then a “Pub” theme, an Italian theme, then finished it off with a Cupcake bar!
Don’t make the mistake we did: allow more time than you think for each house if you do an “Around the World” type party like we did. We only allotted an hour per “station” when there should have been more time and probably less “stations.”
Provide entertainment at each house for all ages of kids. Some hits at our party were: an automatic bubble maker for the toddlers, face painting for the older kids, horseshoes, bean bag toss, music, pinatas and make-your-own cupcakes for the kids.
Bring coolers with wheels and take your wagon! We were carrying Sangria and food from house to house in Jackson’s little red wagon.
Provide name tags for everyone! One thing neighbors commented on that they liked were the name tags we printed out with a picture of each house on them. Names are great, but it’s nice to put a face to a house, you know? Since people RSVP’d, I knew that 4 people from House #1 would be coming so I took a snapshot of their house on my iPhone during a nightly walk and printed 4 of the same name tag. I bought the “Hello my name is” tags from Amazon and then downloaded the template onto my computer. Then I just copied the house picture into the template and printed them off. It was easy peasy and probably took an hour for 20+ houses. (word of advice: make a couple extra of each house because people will grab the wrong house, bring more guests, etc). We also had some blank ones available.
Name tags were laid out at the first stop.
Grab your house and write your name down!
Overall, the party was a huge success. We partied from 2pm until 10:30pm! Of course not everyone stayed all day, but everyone (except for 1 house) came and had fun. It was a great way to meet everyone and to be able to put a “face to a house!” We are planning another party at the end of summer and I can’t wait to get to know everyone better.
Do you have any block party planning tips we could use next time?