Monday, December 31

Trains at the Botanic Garden

All I wanted to do before we left DC for Christmas is see the trains at the Botanic Gardens in DC. And eat at We The Pizza, which was unfortunately closed when we showed up.  Not open on Sundays, FYI.

After waiting for an hour (forty five minutes of it outside!) we finally got into the room holding the trains!  The Gardens set up trains every year--there were three or four Thomas Trains running around through a little wintery village.

It really was impressive--there were lots of DC attraction built from live woodlandy stuff.  As you can tell, I really did a lot of research about this.

Both boys liked the exhibit--but Braden LOVED it.  He yelled TWAIN TWAIN and CHOO CHOO! pretty much the whole time we were there.  And humidity was kind to his curls.  It was totally worth the wait and way more crowded than you can tell from these pictures.  I love the pictures of the boys with their daddy (in their train shirts!) because they can't peel their eyes off the trains running over their heads.

Saturday, December 29

Christmas Card 2012

We've been in Arkansas with my family for the past five days--and every day we've either lost power or internet, due to the most snow Little Rock has seen in a long time!  Finley was delighted at all the snow, but it's cramped my internet style a bit.  And if I'm honest--it was nice for the break.  We played games and wore lots of layers and lit lots of candles.  A very memorable Christmas!

I wanted to share our Christmas card here--I went all out and designed a trifold card this year so I got SIX sides to play with.  I just couldn't pick a picture, so I used a ton.  Thanks to my pal Jenn for being my resident photographer! All pictures are hers.

This was the closest we got to everyone looking at the camera and smiling.  And it's not even that close. :)

The font ended up being super hard to read--due to its lightness and the linen texture of the paper.  Oh well.  You can read it easier here if you had a hard time with your card because you are as old as my dad.

Hope everyone had a merry Christmas and 2012!

Thursday, December 20

Presents from Finley

If you are lucky (and under four) then you might be receiving a present from Finley this year.  One of the parts of Christmas he understands is GIVING gifts--which is exciting. He continues to ask for a bell for Christmas (thanks Polar Express!) which may be a step up from last year when he asked for a notebook and ONE crayon (thanks Blues Clues!)

He all of the sudden, without my prompting, decided to draw pictures for all his friends.  It was so interesting to watch his process--he had a very precise plan for these gifts.  He drew everyone a bunch of pictures and chose ONE to stick on the front of every gift.  

All of the sets of pictures include a drawing of a "pipe", a picture of him and his friend holding hands, and maybe their name if we are lucky.

He wanted them wrapped up very specifically--in paper, with a bow and tape. It was sweet.

That bottom one says Christmas, in case you can't read three year old writing.  I hope that I can find as much joy in gift giving as this little guy does!

Tuesday, December 18

20 months and 44 months

I missed a monthly update last month entirely--so hopefully this one will be double awesome.

Braden is 20 months--4 months away from birthday #2. He's more and more fun everyday--talking and babbling up a storm and playing with trains non-stop. Sometimes he'll give us sweet open mouth kisses and will instigate games of chase or tickling. He loves to hold hands with Finley and LOVES to play with trains.  He wakes up from naps saying, "MORE TRAINS!" Cracks me up. He recently discovered babies--the last two times I've picked him up from the nursery at the gym or church, he's had a little baby doll he refuses to give up. It's precious. His curls are getting wilder and so is he.  He certainly has an opinion about life--and food.  He's constantly saying "MORE WA-WA!" or "MORE EATS!" He's the opposite of Finley, always trying to get us to feed him.

I'm starting to think that Finley may actually have some sort of camera blindness where he really doesn't understand what it means to look at the camera and smile.  I think he thinks he's doing it.  It's ridiculous. He loves trains too--and loves making us play Polar Express where we have to drink hot chocolate (yesterday's batch was made with lemons and carrots) and act out scenes. He loves learning and doing activities every day and is generally excited about life. We're struggling with him getting enough sleep--no more naps + getting out of bed when we put him down + getting up earlier than usual = sometimes an unstable little guy. He's dramatic.

Finley is so excited about Christmas.  In his mind it is snow + Santa + Jesus + Polar Express + presents.  He's terribly confused at this point. When we ask him what he wants for Christmas he tells us he wants a bell and Santa hat--just like in Polar Express. Darling.

Friday, December 14

An Original Composition by Finley

Every parent has dreams for their child. You want them to get good grades, make great friends, qualify for the Boston marathon... and be an accomplished singer-songwriter.  I was a little hesitant to post this video because Finley's talent is just so raw and amazing and I'm worried it's going to set the bar too high for him.  You can be the judge.

Can you believe it? He came up with that whole thing by himself.  And for the record, when I asked him he told me that the song was about coconuts. Catchy, though, isn't it? Just try to not sing those first few lines for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, December 12

Meet Me in St. Louis

That's what Megan and I said to each other, several months ago. And so we did.

Megan and Courtney are two of my very dearest high school friends. Meg and I decided to go surprise Courtney for her 30th birthday, even though the only weekend we could find that worked was technically Megan's 30th birthday. We did lots of celebrating! It was so great to spend time eating, shopping, developing algorithm for evaluating clothing purchases and watching awesome movies (some of which we starred in a decade ago) with these girls.  You know how I said my Justin Bieber rap was the most embarrassing thing I've ever done? Not even close.

I managed to get both friends on Instagram... and they haven't totally bought into it, judging by the complete lack of 'grams that since I forced them to make their first one.  Come on friends! It's 2012! Anyways, these ladies refresh my soul.  We are at the terrible point in our friendships where we've been friends longer than we haven't, and that makes us old. They remind me of the Proverb about iron sharpening iron--we don't let each other get away with much, and I certainly feel sharper after time with them.

PS. Flying without kids? AMAZING.

Monday, December 10

Gingerbread Party--and an awesome FREEBIE!

It's been a big few weeks for RV Parties--we're excited that a few of our projects have been getting some good PR lately, that we got to participate in THIS giveaway (go enter!)... and there's even a few more exciting things coming up.  Our most recent undertaking was featured on Pizzazzarie and better yet, you can download all the decorations for FREE.  You can see more pictures on the half functioning blog for RV Parties, but I'll share a few here! So here's... THE GINGERBREAD PARTY!

This Gingerbread Party Playdate was a GREAT holiday activity for preschoolers. Aside from it being tons of fun, it's easy to throw together an impressive party with Christmas decorations you already have and our FREE printables. We hosted a group of 2 and 3 year olds, but it could easily be adapted to an older crew.

We started off the event by having kiddos press pre-made dough into these great molds.  (You could also roll it out and let them cut it!)The kids came over to watch (from a distance!) as we slid the trays into the oven to bake. All the kids reconvened around the table to listen to the story of the Gingerbread Man! There are lots of versions out there, but this one was one of Amazon's 3 for 4 deals, so I was able to stock up so all the kids could take one home!

After we finished the story we went to check on the cookies--but they were all gone! Just like in the story, the Gingerbread men had all run away.  The kiddos searched around the house for them--under the tree, in the toy bins around the kitchen... but couldn't find them! The kids found their way back to the decorating room and were so happy to see their treats. They quickly got straight to decorating--and even quicker to eating.  The cookies were delicious.  We used mini squirt bottles so that the kids could apply icing in the least messy way possible and lined up bright colored sprinkles for the kids to scoop on.

How cute are our little chefs in the aprons and chef hats? We swooned over the embroidery that matched our little gingerbread man perfectly. Such little cuties.

Now on to the goodies! We joked that the theme of the party was sugar... dipped in sugar... topped with sugar.  But it's the holidays, so it's all fair game! The treats are easy to keep relatively simple--plain white cupcakes, boxed Pepperidge Farm cookies, and Gingerbread Man Peeps, make for a darling table! If you want to make it a little fancier, dipped pretzels, oreos, marshmallows, cake balls and cake pops add a little extra to the party.  Aren't the Gingerbread Man Cake Pops PERFECT? Our fantastic vendors are listed below--all items are available for purchase if you aren't up for making your own sweets!

I could not handle how cute these fondant toppers were! Such a perfect way to make a simple cupcake match the party.  And I want to make these accordion folded cupcake toppers for EVERYTHING.  Tutorial coming soon!

Setting a table has become one of my favorite parts of party planning--glass Frappuccino bottles are cute with labels and straws and these glass plates from IKEA were perfect for catching stray sprinkles!

In addition to more sweets than any child could possible need, our little chefs took home the Gingerbread Man book, a coloring book (available as part of the free printable pack!) and the most darling cookies I've ever seen from J&J Bakeshop. It broke my heart a little to eat them!


Printables, Chefs Hats and Party Styling: RV Parties
Photography: Peanut Butter and Jenny Photography
Gingerbread Man and House Sugar Cookies: J&J Bakeshop
Embroidery for Aprons: Elegant Embroidery by Lisa
Sprinkles for Cookies: The Bakers Confections
Gingerbread Cake Pops: So Sweet Pops
Dipped Oreos, Pretzels and Cake Balls: Miss Lulu's Treats
Fondant Toppers and Sprinkles for Marshmallow Pops: Cakes and Kids Too
Straws, Favor Bags and Twine: Fine and Dandy Party Shop

Click the link below the picture to download all the printables used to throw this party!  It comes with pdf files to make an 8 page coloring book, cupcake toppers and wrappers, straw flags, water bottle labels, treat bag toppers, mini candy wrappers, food labels, banner and coordinating paper.

Download items HERE.

Friday, December 7

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Remind me next year--pictures are easier to shoot when you decorate a tree before the sun sets.

Everybody likes the snowman Mickey Mouse ornament! Braden has been very respectful of the tree--he's surprisingly completely disinterested in it.  Both boys fight over a bell ornament whenever they remember about it--thanks Polar Express!

Finley was very excited about the star on the top of the tree--something he thinks is crucial to it being Christmas.  That poor kid has a very confused idea of Christmas--some conglomerate of Polar Express, Jesus, snow and Santa.  It's tough to be three.

And here are those sweet boys last year... I can't believe how much bigger they are!

I totally forgot about this fabulous and completely expected picture from our time in Louisville over Thanksgiving. Finley not smiling. Braden screaming because he's sure he's going to get left with Santa forever. Typical.

Wednesday, December 5


If you follow me on any other forms of social media, you probably saw previews of the big MONSTER BASH we threw a few weeks ago. We were waiting to post pictures because the party was going to featured on a popular party planning site... and the post went up yesterday! We were so thrilled to be featured with Kara's Party Ideas again and were so honored they chose us.

My friend Jenn's little boy was turning three and we sweetly convinced him he needed a monster party. And eventually he gave in. Jenn is a fabulous photographer and I was lucky she was willing to throw and even crazier party than I could have dreamed up. And then make it look so lovely through her lens! And her BFF Mandie made the prettiest cake I've ever seen... and cupcakes... and cruffle pops. Just gorgeous.

The problem with this party is that Jenn and I couldn't really tell each other no. Custom printed fabric? Yes. Googly eyes on everything? Sure thing. Large vinyl backdrop? Of course. Thousands of monster silhouettes for confetti and garlands? Obviously.

The favor table had so many of my favorite parts--I loved the silhouette banner with cut out letters so much!  We grabbed some cheap white frames from Ikea and stuck more monster silhouettes in them, obviously with googly eyes. The favor table had little jars of Gobstoppers, hand dyed monsters and a darling little monster gumball machine.

And my other favorite part (well, looks like the whole party was my favorite part...) was the fun photobooth. Braden really liked the the props. :)

And my final favorite part--the coloring wall.  Did you know you can print engineer prints at Staples for practically free?  Well not free, but less than $10.  Such a fun way to add some decor to a room and give the kids a fun activity to do.  Braden could color until the end of time, so he was in HEAVEN.

All printables are available here.  And stay tuned for a few tutorials about making some of the tissue paper decorations! Hope you enjoyed the party--we had a blast planning and throwing it!
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