Saturday, July 31, 2010

Random pictures from Alex's birthday weekend

See above.


well-overdue shameless promotion

Because raising two boys, cooking, cleaning, blogging, running errands, and operating an Etsy shop (did I mention that I am the speaker coordinator for MOPS this year?) aren't enough to keep me busy, I have recently started designing stationary for a great website called Paperbox Press. Jill, the owner, is a fabulous woman that I originally did business with through Etsy, and a few months before Isaac was born, she asked me to submit designs for her site. It is actually the perfect arrangement for me because I love the design process but I don't particularly love reproducing and editing existing designs. In this case, I submit designs, Jill takes care of the rest, then we both profit when things sell.

That's where you come in.

We want to sell more things, and in order to sell more things, we need people to buy them. And you are people! And you people know other people! So if you are so inclined, we'd love if you would pass the name "Paperbox Press" and the website, paperboxpress.com, to everyone you know (and people you don't know, we're fine with that, too).

The site offers all kinds of stationary and photo cards, and I have designed everything from baby shower invitations and birth announcements to birthday party invitations and thank you notes (my work will be listed under Chachke Designs - you can find the designer when you click on an item). Here are some examples of my designs that have been featured:

In fact, right now Jill is running a promotion on Facebook where you have 3 chances to win a $40 gift certificate on items from her shop. I happen to be a crotchedy old fart when it comes to Facebook, so I tried to post something about it but I'm not sure if I did it right. But I know most of you are a lot hipper than I am, so I'd be forever grateful if you'd stop by and enter the contest when you aren't busy catching up with your peeps. It ends on August 5, so don't miss out!

(And while you're at it, you can say a little something about Chachke Designs at Etsy, too. I recently reopened my shop and have already gotten more orders than I know what to do with, but I'd rather turn work down than not have enough, ya dig?)

Friday, July 30, 2010

help

They say that the hardest part about having a second kid is figuring out what to do with the older one. I don't know who "they" are, but they are totally right. I was struggling to eke out enough patience and energy to deal with Alex alone, never mind when I'm operating on a few hours of sleep, have two sets of poopy diapers to change every day (yes, Alex is still refusing to poop in the potty), have twice as many mouths to feed and twice as much laundry to do.

Thankfully, I have an awesome family who were willing to drop everything to come stay with us and help keep the chaos to a minimum. My mom got here on Memorial Day weekend, and while the plan was for her to stay until June 19th so she'd have a week with Isaac, he didn't show until the 17th so those plans had to be readjusted. She ended up staying until the following week and tagged out when my sister Rachel flew in from Colorado and stayed for a few days.

And boy did Alex love the attention. While I tended to his little brother, Alex and B did fun things like built forts in the living room, visited the airplane museum, and did fun art projects in the backyard.

It did work out pretty well that Mom and Rachel both got to hang out with us for a couple of days.

These two pictures totally crack me up. Notice Alex's hand and Rachel's face. This pretty much sums up my life these days.

Needless to say, Alex was bummed to see his B go, but having Aunt Rachel there definitely softened the blow. As we waved goodbye to Mom and walked back toward the house, Alex was a few feet in front of me and I heard him say to himself, very matter-of-factly, "That was a good day with B".

He had many good days with Rachel, too, although I really didn't get any pictures of the two of them together. I did get a couple of her and Isaac, though.

Rachel went home eventually and YIKES, we were on our own. But while I missed the help, I was ready to start establishing a routine, which we are still attempting to do. We're getting there, slowly but surely. Well, slowly, at least...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

lock up your daughters

Decided to post Alex's school pic from the spring semester...a little late considering Thursday is the last day of summer school. He's starting preschool in the fall. Yikes, where does the time go!!???

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Alex

As I mentioned, Alex's birthday was on the 10th and we hosted a big construction-themed party to celebrate. I mean, I really can't think of a better idea than planning a huge party and inviting a dozen three-year olds and their families over to our house to play in the dirt and water three weeks after giving birth. But while some new moms might see the whole "recovering from childbirth" and "caring for a newborn" and "severe sleep deprivation" situation as an excuse to slack off on party planning for the older sibling, I was even more motivated to give Alex the best party ever. I was so worried that he would already be traumatized by losing his position as the center of the universe when Isaac showed up, and I didn't want launch him into a deep, dark spiral of despair by depriving him of a fabulous 3rd birthday party. That, and I really like to throw parties.

I started planning months ahead of time, designed the invitations and decor, ordered party favors, and made guest lists because I knew it would be pure insanity once Isaac arrived. Here is the invitation and the inspiration for the theme:

We LOVE our backyard now that it has grass, and it was the perfect place to have the party (metal detour sign courtesy of my dad, handpainted party sign courtesy of my mom).

I ordered plastic construction hats online and attached different construction job titles to the front of each so the kids could decide what they wanted to be. Alex was the "crew leader", of course.

When each kid entered the yard, they got a little plastic bucket and shovel and a bag of random construction-related goodies: street sign-themed stickers, a street sign-shaped sucker, and some super cute dump truck soaps that I ordered from a gal on Etsy (soaps by her, cute coordinating bag tags by me ;).

The idea was that the kids would hand the little bag to their moms then use the shovel and pail at the party. We bought baby pools to fill with sand and water and mulch, and I had originally planned on filling the third pool with dirt, but all I could find was potting soil and I got totally paranoid about letting the kids play in something that might be coated in chemicals. It wasn't until after the party that I found out that topsoil is actually "plain ol' dirt" and is totally safe for kids to dig around in. Ya learn somethin' new everyday...We also threw various construction vehicles and random digging tools into the sand and construction-themed rubber duckies into the water so the kids would have stuff to play with.

The party guests were a combination of family members (including my grandparents from Arizona and my aunt and cousin from south Texas), Alex's classmates, friends from church, and Tim's friends from work. As you can see, Isaac was a ball of fire. I can't remember what the exact head count was, but it seemed like a whole lotta people.

The birthday boy and his buddy Jaron, aka his "best friend" as mentioned in his 3-year interview.

The party ran into lunchtime, so I had some sandwiches and lots of finger foods and drinks set out. I did a terrible job of taking pictures during the party, so I really didn't get a good shot of the layout at the food table. I am just sick about it because I spent so much time making the menu and designing paper goods to embellish everything, and now I don't have any documentation of it. Here's a shot by Leah (who deserves credit for many of the great pictures posted here) that shows the plastic pails filled with goodies and the shovels used to serve them.

The menu included pb&j and turkey & cheese "sand"wiches, "wrecking balls" (cheeseballs, watermelon balls, and blueberries), dirt pudding, various "sticks" (cheese sticks, carrots, celery, pretzels, etc.), "asphalt chips" (blue corn tortilla chips), and "gravel" (Reese's Pieces cereal). I designed these construction barrier labels for the buckets, and the sandwiches were embellished with street sign-inspired food pics.

We rented tables and chairs so the kids could sit and eat their lunches. I found these really fun construction cone cups with straws for the kids to drink out of and made them part of the place settings. They have a really narrow opening for the liquid to go in, so I bought little black funnels that the kids could use to funnel the juice into their cups. I really didn't get a good picture of this process, but it was super fun and I think the kids dug it.

Instead of doing a cake, we got chocolate cupcakes from the awesome bakery at our grocery store. I made cupcake toppers and wrappers for each one...

...Unfortunately the wrappers didn't make the cut when it came down to crunch time on Saturday morning. If they had, this is what they would have looked like.

From the time we set up the tables, Alex had been asking if he could have his cupcake. He was very excited when I finally brought it to him.

He blew out the candle before we finished singing and I had to relight it so he could blow it out again. Perhaps he thought he'd get two birthday wishes that way.

After he had blown it out (again), I suggested that he lick the chocolate icing off the bottom of the candle. He decided to up the ante and bit a huge chunk out of the candle instead. I was in shock and kept telling him to spit it out, but he just chewed it up and swallowed it like it was the tastiest thing he'd eaten all day. See, the thing you need to know about Alex is that he has a wicked gag reflex, and if he so much as gets an eyelash in his mouth, he will panic, gag, and then barf his guts out...

...which is exactly what happened. Thirty seconds after I said something like, "I can't believe that didn't make him barf his guts out," I heard a ruckus and was informed that Alex had just thrown up in the grass. Luckily, this was nothing new to Alex so he wasn't upset by the fact that he had just blown chunks at his own birthday party and he went about his business as if nothing had happened.

Guests started to trickle out at that point. It was close to 12:30 by then, and I'd like to think that our party was so much fun that the kids were wiped out and ready to go home and take great naps. Alex's day had just begun, however. He had two tables full of presents to open, and as you know by now, opening presents is Alex's favorite thing about birthdays. I think he had a great day because he kept thanking me for giving him a "digger party" for his birthday. You're welcome, buddy! Happy birthday to you!!