Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let's Party!

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This is my sweet birthday girl. Four years old. I have been waiting with bated breath for these pretty photographs and they did not disappoint. I simply cannot wait to frame the cupcake one for her bedroom. I want to forever remember her as she was this moment. She is the sweetest, most precocious child I have ever met. Her smile lights up the room and she puts on quite the show.

As most of you already know, she requested an Olivia birthday party this year. For those of you unfamiliar, Olivia is one of our favorite storybook characters who just happens to have a new show on Nick Jr. She's a pretty cute little pig with a mind of her own and we read about her and watch her on a daily basis. While I'm not really a fan of "character" parties or themed anything, I knew Olivia's red and white stripes would not disappoint. I've been planning this party in my head since March and it was so fun to see it all come together.

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We had tons of balloons. Everywhere. They were tied to the food tables and the mailbox and the pretty pinks, reds and whites looked so pretty floating above the party. I ordered a handful of the Olivia balloons on eBay and Ella wanted me to blow them up in June. I convinced her to wait and they added just enough "character" to our party. The red and white paper straws were from Garnish and although they got a little soggy as the day went by, I love how nostalgic they looked.

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Poppy was the designated videographer of the day and got some good present footage, as well as the Birthday song.

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We served hotdogs and chips and instead of having a separate food table, we divided the goods up between two picnic tables and let everyone fend for themselves. It worked out well and there were plenty of places to sit and enjoy your dog. Doesn't my Ella-via look pretty stinking cute?

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Sophie didn't look half bad either. Almost all of our party guests were delighted to wear red and it was so cute to see them all milling around together. The pictures all look so coordinated... I might have to adopt a dress-code every year!

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By the time we got around to singing Happy Birthday and cutting the cake, Ella was a little worse for wear. Ninety-five degree temperatures in Alabama plus a bounce house will do that to you. I kind of think it's funny that in the majority of these photographs she either dripping with sweat or covered in chocolate ice cream. That's how you can tell it was a good party.

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Let me tell you that I totally lucked out in the cake department. After putting this party together, I was totally stressing out about the bottom line and my original cake plan was moving farther and farther outside of my budget. It was kind of last minute, but Renee at Sweet Magnolia Cakes came to my rescue and delivered the tastiest birthday cake I've ever had! It was chocolate with pink buttercream icing and red & white fondant decorations. Ella was so excited about that number 4 on top! Not only was the cake to-die-for, but my sweet friend Michelle volunteered to make Olivia cupcakes and my oh my were they adorable.

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When I tell you that I could not have pulled this off without Garan's help, that is an understatement. Not only did we invade her yard, use her furniture and pick her brain three times a day, but she made four of these stunning ruffled tablecloths just perfect for Olivia's big day. I can't wait to figure out how to use them again.

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Ella had a ball unwrapping her gifts and even let her friends help a little this year. It was so fun to watch her select what present would be next and to see who she asked for assistance. Her "boyfriend" Grey was never too far away and that is just how she liked it. She reminded me first thing that morning that he was coming to spend the day and told us very matter-of-factly that he was definitely her boyfriend. I'll let her daddy handle that one!

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I thought that by having a family party, instead of the two separate bashes from last year, that I would be doing myself a favor. Well, notsomuch. This party was hard work, but worth every stinking penny and bead of sweat. As much fun as we had it would not have been the same without all of these people. They graciously wore red, pitched in to help and celebrated along with us to make Ella's day. I know I say this every year, but this might be the best one yet.

Of course, a very special thank you to my sister and super best friend for the fabulous photos. They are perfect, as usual. And you, sweet blog readers, can view the rest of the bash here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sew Sweet

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One of Ella's favorite birthday gifts was a tiny Singer sewing machine from K & Cory. We have all been excited just thinking about it and we knew that Ella would love it. She let out a loud squeal and couldn't wait to show Garan. It's been busy around here since the party and our lack of batteries didn't help. Finally, this past Sunday afternoon, we unboxed the singer and learned to sew. Don't laugh when I tell you this machine was harder to figure out that mine was!

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With a little direction, she was sewing in now time and actually proved to be quite good. She carefully lifted and lowered the presser foot, gently pressed the pedal and learned how to relieve the tension on the thread before removing her fabric. I have a pretty little blue square full of white stitches sitting in a frame in our living room. Ella picked the perfect spot and I love looking at it every time I walk through.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Dollhouse

I think you all know by now that my dad is a genius when it comes to woodwork. He is a carpenter by trade and makes beautiful things, both professionally and when his daughters have a request. There have been doll cradles, book shelves, rocking elephants, tables, chairs, built-ins, closets, window treatments and now this.

My dad knows I'm kind of notorious for last minute ideas. I've been thinking all summer about what to buy Ella for her birthday when out of the blue she told me she wanted a dollhouse. I talked to my dad in early August to see if that was even possible and we formulated a plan. I drew him a sketch of what I wanted... four rooms and an attic, shingles and shutters. I originally planned for it to be on casters and to be open on both the front and back so that she and her friends could play together. Poppy kind of took it and ran with it. He decided it needed to be collapsible and have a front porch. We compromised and added the back panel to help stabilize it and the design was born.

This puppy was ready to paint on the Wednesday before her party. I spent three nights rolling and brushing and fighting off mosquitoes with my parents in their front yard, while SD kept up the pretense of my "working late" and took care of the girls.

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The day before her party, I dropped Ella off for a birthday party and we got started. We had sanded each piece and touched them all up the night before. Here is my dad putting the first floor together and my excited face after she was all in one piece. Don't laugh at that shirt... I was clearly not presentable for photographs! This is my favorite Grateful Dead tee of all times and is only 17 years old. I swear I'll cry when it finally bites the dust. Anyhoo...

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Once it was together, I painted the inside edges of the doors, windows and arch ways and touched up a few places that I missed after dark the night before.

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A tiny sponge brush and mini roller were my best friends and made this job so much easier. I painted the house itself a pretty ballerina pink. My original plan was to paint the shingles and shutters black and to wallpaper the inside. Once I saw the shingle color, I decided to leave them unfinished and sprayed the shutters pea green instead. I decided to wait on the wallpaper and see if Ella wanted to help with a little "home makeover" sometime over the Christmas holidays.

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Of course, I had help. Not only did Poppy help me in every way conceivable, but K & Cory babysat and Sophie finally came out for a little assistance herself. She was just the right size and thought it was too funny to be tucked into the rooms.

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I had this tiny chandelier that I picked up at ZGallerie for Sophie's room, but never used. It was perfect for the attic and with 3 triple A batteries, it lights up the whole house.

I'm sorry that I don't yet have party pictures, but Ella was ecstatic when she opened her present. She tells everybody that Poppy built it, I painted it and SD paid for it! As big as it is, we even managed to wrap it and let her open it at her party. Even her little friends were impressed. Here is where the dollhouse stands today...

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A luxurious bathroom is in the attic, complete with clawfoot tub, crystal chandelier and a fainting couch, of course.

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The second floor boasts a state of the art kitchen, dining room and make shift garage?!

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The lower floor houses our vintage canopy bed and a beautiful dressing room. While some of the furniture was gifted at her party, the vintage pieces came straight out of my basement. I kept all of my Barbie things, as well as my mom's, and after some good old fashioned scrubbing this house was fully functional.

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She has spent countless hours in this spot since her party and we realize we definitely made a wise investment. She loves it and I couldn't be happier watching her play with my childhood Barbie dolls.

Aren't you impressed with Poppy's handiwork? Think your little girl can't live another day without this beauty? Well, you're in luck! He's going to be selling kits between now and Christmas, that you can paint, assemble and decorate yourself. The kits come with all pieces except the shingle and shutters, as well as illustrated assembly instructions. Click the contact button at the top of the page if you want details.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Raise 'Em Right

Okay... so I know I promised the dollhouse update. BUT. Ella has been at Garan's and I need to take a picture of her with the finished house all full of fun Barbie stuff! It might be Friday, but I'll be sure to have it up by the weekend.

In the meantime, I thought you'd enjoy this video. I think it's clear from this little snippet what our priorities are around here!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Party People

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I'm guessing you won't be surprised when I tell you I took only one picture at the birthday party. One. I've had countless people ask to see the fruits of my labor, but I have absolutely nothing to show you. There is nothing better than having an event photographer in the family. K does such a great job and it is so nice to pass that task off to someone else so that I can enjoy the day and watch Ella have a blast with all of her friends.

These four partying pigs had a fabulous day. We rented a bouncer for the weekend and Ella seriously got my money's worth out of the deal. We hired a new baker for the cake and it was phenomenal. There were pretty striped tablecloths and paper straws, tons of red balloons, pretty pig noses and red gummy candies. There were tons of squealing children bouncing, running around, chasing dogs and tearing into birthday presents. It was a rousing success.

K promised to have the pictures to us in a few weeks {we're in line behind three weddings and a slew of portrait sessions!} and I'll be sure to do a full recap post then. Up tomorrow is a post ALL about that pretty dollhouse. Surely that will tide you over!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

We survived

Tonight we came in and crashed.

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There is a cooler full of cokes, an {accidentally} upside down birthday cake, leftover party favors, a fridge full of hot dogs and PILES of food on my counters.

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These two girls were bushed. They were sweaty and grubby and needed to go to bed.

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There were way too many presents to open, but SD bit the bullet, grabbed some scissors and got to work.

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Did I mention how much Barbie stuff she got? Oh... and a pretty spectacular surprise from her mommy, SD and Poppy. Want one? Details to come.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Shhhhh...

it's a secret.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Love Letters: Five Months

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Dear Sophie,

I know I say this every month, but I am amazed at how quickly you've grown! These months are speeding by like sand running through my fingers and all I want to do is clench my fist to keep you from getting any bigger. I think this is my favorite age so far - you are such a happy baby and are so much fun and more independent these days.

You love to lay on your belly in the floor with your lamby and lovey and whatever other toys Ella piles up around you. Your back is strong and you crane your neck to look around and see what we're doing. You have been getting up on all fours and rocking back and forth a lot. Your daddy and I think you are on the verge of crawling... at five months old! You haven't shown any interest in sitting up and you're already scooting all over the place. We put you on your play mat and come back moments later to find you half-way across the room pointed in another direction.

You still don't have any teeth, thank goodness, but that hasn't stopped you from eating us out of house and home. You are still drinking only four bottles a day, but we've added two meals of baby food and you are putting Ella to shame! You love all of the veggies and fruits we've tried so far and are thrilled with a much yummier cereal for breakfast these days.

There have been lots of firsts this month... some good and others not so good. You watched your first Alabama football game, wore your first pair of blue jeans, got a hair cut, had a really good giggle-fit, noticed our dog sniffing you out, had a stomach virus and tasted mint icing from your sister's cupcake.

You look more like your daddy every day and are just as relaxed and laid back as he is. It is so much fun to see how much you and Ella are the same... and different. With each passing day it's getting harder to remember how things were before you got here. It's hard to believe it's almost your half-birthday. Days waiting for you to get here were long, these days are short and fly by without warning.

We love you much, biggie.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

All About Sophie

It's easy to talk about Ella this week - it's her birthday week and there is a lot to share! We still have birthday party prep, party time and a fabulously hand-crafted birthday surprise. In the midst of that, I thought you might like a Sophie update.

I was just telling SD how grown up she seems this week. She sits up in her bumbo so much better. She's getting strong and will lay on her belly and play forever. Today, Josh caught her doing this in her crib and when I got home I snagged round 2 on tape.



Although Ella was sitting up at this age, we can't believe how fast Sophie's passing her in other physical milestones. She is so much more vocal and mobile and she eats so much better than any child I know! Another milestone she passed was the haircut. Ella got her first haircut here... at the age of three. Sophie? Five months. She had "wings" of hair behind her ears that were bothersome to every person but me. I finally broke down on Sunday night and let SD man the clippers.

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Speaking of Sophie... the five months love letters post is coming up soon!