Tuesday, October 25, 2011

They call me Martha...

So there you are, trolling the blogosphere checking out the parties thrown by other bloggers and getting ideas for your own events.  And in your trolling, you come across many, many posts about children's birthday parties that would put Martha Stewart to shame.  Coordinated themes, hand-crafted decorations, gourmet goodies.  There will invariably be candid (but professional quality) photos of the guests looking like they're in an Old Navy commercial (the quirky fun ones, not the mannequin ones), and the hostess will be looking stylish and relaxed.  By the time you finish the post you're feeling more than a little inadequate.  Sound familiar?  Then this is the post for you!

Sam turned 6 at the end of September. 
At the time of the party I had a 3-month-old baby and had been back to work for about 3 weeks.  I wanted something simple where someone else did the work for me.  A location birthday!  But after all of her choices didn't work out (#1 - closed for the season; #2 - out of business; #3 - closed for annual cleaning), we decided to do a home party.

[I briefly considered Chuck E. Cheese, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  I've been to the new one, and it just felt wrong, like I was cheating on my childhood memories.  Where was the poor lighting?  The creepy, oversized robots serenading you as you eat your pizza?]

I would throw a simple but still awesome party.

Hand-crafted decorations?  Check. 
I blew up some balloons and let Sam and her friend put them wherever they wanted
about 20 minutes before the party started.  There are no pictures of the other decorations because there were no other decorations.

Coordinated theme?  Check.
Sam and her friends always want me to do their nails, so I thought we'd do a spa party. 
I painted their fingernails but decided we didn't have time for toes. 
[That, and I've smelled sweaty little girl feet.  I didn't need that.]

Then we broke out the tattoos and made it a white trash spa party. 
[Sam became so obsessed with tattoos after her party last year that I had to
make an "only at parties" rule.] 

One girl had to wear long sleeves to church the next day to cover up
the skull tattoo on her arm.  Parenting point to me!

High-class, super-fun games?  Check.
Sam and a friend decided the day before the party that they were going to make some games to play.  I intentionally didn't check up on what they were doing before the party because I didn't want to be a creativity killer.  I just sat back and let Sam and her friend explain the games and the rules when the time came. 
I think I deserve an award for keeping a straight face during this portion of the party.

Game 1: Throw the tissue darts with tape on the end...

...at the page ripped out of the Justice for Girls ad.

*Note: It's ingeniously held up by a Belle wall sticker because
I don't let her use tape on the walls. 
She does listen!

Game #2: Pin the tail on the hand-drawn koala.  

With the object being to get it on one of the ears.  Or the head. 
Or the circle with the "X" drawn on it.  Or wherever. 
As you can imagine, this made it difficult to name a winner. 
Not that it mattered, since I didn't bother getting prizes for the game winners.

Gourmet goodies?  Check.
Despite the great horned pig fiasco of 2010, I was still willing to try my hand at some sort of fancy cake.  So I asked Sam what kind of cake and ice cream she wanted. 
Answer?  "Fat boys and popsicles."  She's the birthday girl.

The girls had a good time, and that's all that matters. 
It was fun to see what stuff Sam came up with, and it really was "her" party.

So there you have it.  Don't you feel better now?  You're welcome.

But if you're feeling masochistic,
check out my nephew's party thrown by my awesome sister-in-law.
You can always re-read this post when you're done to make yourself feel better.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's a [BIG] boy!

This post probably isn't necessary since I'm pretty sure all of my readers (can I even pluralize that?) have already seen pics on Facebook, but it'd be weird ignoring the birth of my child, so here we go. 

Despite assurances by my doctor that I wouldn't make it to my due date on the 16th, I made it to my "scheduled-just-in-case" induction on the 18th.  We finally got to the hospital around 10:00 P.M..  Yes, P.M.  I'll spare you the details, we'll just say it was a busy day for deliveries and I kept getting pushed back.  But on the bright side, we got to fit in one last movie in the theater that we hadn't planned on.  (Green Lantern was okay, but I love you, Ryan Reynolds!)  Also, I wasn't the lady down the hall, screaming bloody murder as she had her baby in the toilet of the delivery triage room because she barely made it to the hospital in time.  

Me when we checked in.  One last belly shot.

They started me on the pitocin around midnight, broke my water around 1:00, and gave me my epidural an hour or so after that.  We tried to sleep for a little while after that (I tried, Jim succeeded), then the "real" labor started and after a few pushes, I had him at 4:47 A.M.  About the same difficulty level/"hard labor" duration as Sam, but the waiting for "hard labor" to start was MUCH shorter this time.

I can't remember if this shot was pre- or post-birth, which is why I'm including it--to illustrate how FREAKING awesome epidurals are.  I've never experienced natural childbirth, but I can hazard a guess at how painful it is based on the pre-epidural labor pains and the post-labor carnage.  But I can smile through it like that, and even enjoy it, because of the joys of modern medicine.  Really, when the epidural was in full force was the most comfortable I was for weeks before and after birth.  Yay, drugs!

So after I start pushing and the head starts to appear, the conversation in the delivery room goes something like this:
Jim: "Red hair?!?!" 
Me: "Shut up."
Then the doctor/nurses verify that he's not pulling my leg, and we start wondering where in the heck in our families of blondes and brunettes a redhead would come from.  As this discussion is going on, I keep pushing when told to.
Dr.: "This is going to be a pretty big kid!"
Me: "Really?" (Internally I'm remembering how the entire pregnancy, the doctor has been giving me size estimates, based on the ultrasounds at each appointment, in the 7-8 pound range.  At my appointment two days prior, he measured at 7 pounds.  But I don't want to call the doctor out on this and distract him from his efforts to save my lady bits from total destruction, so I abbreviate it to the oh-so-articulate, "Really?")
Jim: "Look at the shoulders!  They're huge!"
Nurses: "This is a big baby!  How big was your last one?"
Dr.: "I'd say he's going to be at least 8, 9 pounds."
Me: See above internal dialogue, which I now translate into a puzzled expression and a "Wha?"

After a couple more pushes and some skillful maneuvering by the doc, out came Mr. Max James Hill.  
The official measurements: 22 inches long, weighing in at 10 lbs. 1 oz.  

My reaction when they said the weight (flattering pic, I know--I'm pretty sure some giant stuck their hand in there--I refuse to believe that's mine). 

After a little cleanup (the hair is more strawberry blonde, not flaming red)

Jim is slightly excited to have a man-child...

And Sam has been a fabulous big sister.

It's been sort of a sleep-deprived haze since then, but we're settling into a little more of a routine.  He's a little more alert now (I think this was at 2 1/2 weeks)

And for the most part he's very patient with the loving attentions of his sister.

Max is a sweetheart and we're so excited to have him in our family!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I was doing so well at posting for a while and then [-wham!-] nesting kicked in.  Then it puttered, now we're in the mad dash to the finish.  Cause my due date is tomorrow.  (I'm not officially scheduled until Saturday, but there will be some membrane stripping at tomorrow's appointment to get things going.)  So before el nino arrives, I figured I'd at least do the nursery post I've had swirling in my head.  The rest of the February-June posts will have to wait. 

Since we only had two bedrooms finished when we moved in, it was necessary to finish the rest of the basement.  Sam was a little apprehensive, but she's been a trooper about moving down.  It helped that she got to decorate her room how she wanted.  (Mostly.  Jim shot down the initial paint choice of pink.)  

The curtains, currently in a puddle on the ledge, still need to be hung, but I figured I'd better take some pics while I could because my daughter is the queen of clutter and this is as clean as the room will ever be.  Every picture she draws and every piece of flotsam she finds is a "special treasure" that she needs to incorporate into her decor.  Sometimes my inner clean freak has a meltdown, but overall it's fun to see what she does.

Her craft corner.  She's got an artistic streak a mile wide, an area where she luckily didn't take after me.

Although the downside of her wanting to draw and "create" all the time is that, other than her bedtime story, she never wants to read.  :-(  Her poor neglected bookcase/dollhouse. 

So with Sam moved out, it was time to start on the nursery.  The color Sam had in there worked for a boy and I LOVED it, so we didn't need to repaint.  I looked around forever trying to find baby bedding that matched, and can I just say it KILLS me how much baby bedding costs?  But unless you want to pay mucho $ for something custom, you're pretty much stuck with pastels.  Not that I have a problem with people using pastels, they're just not for me.  Luckily on a trip to IKEA I spotted this crib duvet:

$10 and a perfect color match? (Sam's quilt that I picked the paint color from is in the same bedding line.)Winner!!! 

I was stumped on the big wall, though.  The room has super-high ceilings, so I needed something to take up a lot of space.  I stole my idea from one I saw on the interweb. 

They're Paul Frank alphabet flash cards, which I put up using poster tack. 

Some of my faves...

I love the crab because in the midst of a bunch of Arlos, Shakas, Pufaks, and Clancys, he's just "Steve".

My other fave about the room--the light fixture.  I had a awesomely girly chandelier in there for Sam, which had to move with her because a) she loved it and b) it wouldn't work in a boy room.  I was worried I wouldn't be able to find something that would be fun without being babyish.  Then I remembered one I'd seen when I was looking for dining room lights that had been awesome, but didn't really fit with the dining room style and shot down by Jim as "too funky".  So this time I ordered it without telling Jim.  :-)

As usual, my pic doesn't really do it justice.  But neither does the stock photo. 

Picture the color on the stock photo with the size somewhere in between the two.

We still need some finishing touches, but my nesting has been squashed by swelling and an unwieldy belly. So details can wait.  Suggestions are welcome, though!

For now the only other thing we need to put in there is a baby!