Archive for April, 2014

  • 3rd Birthday: The Party!

    Date: 2014.04.29 | Category: Birthday, Family, Food, Friends, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 7

    Sarah’s third birthday party was a great success!

    Per her request, we made the party Frozen-themed. We had it at our house and opened up the backyard to a bunch of her friends.

    I love throwing her birthday parties. Some people may roll their eyes at the detail I put into birthday parties (*cough*Mark*cough*), but I sincerely enjoy planning and executing all of it. Plus, this year she was old enough to appreciate so much of it and was so excited.

    Plus my mom and both of my sister (one of whom is 9 months pregnant) helped me pull it all together.

    Here’s the birthday girl’s spread! It included carrot Olaf cupcakes and vanilla princess cupcakes, plus lots of blue, purple and white food.

    The birthday girl had a special shirt from my friend Kristen at Evangeline Made.

    Norah had her own birthday appropriate shirt too.

    We had so many of our best friends come, including my best friend Susan (who lives in Biloxi now) and her family – I guess Norah can be included as part of her family. Susan is like her auntie after all.

    The kids had fun jumping on Sarah’s new trampoline…

    Playing on the fort…

    And decorating cookies at the station we set up with our old front door (hey upcycle!) Mom baked all the cookies in the shapes of snowmen, snowflakes, crowns, castles and shoes. I’m sure the parents appreciated me setting out lots of sugar for their kids to eat. The kids liked it anyway.

    Everyone was so generous and Sarah got lots of goodies including her beloved Doc McStuffins dress up outfit.

    And everything else a princess might possibly need.

    Oh, and we had some very special guests! My sister MC and her friend Kirstie came as Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. Sarah absolutely loved it and all the kids took turns greeting the princesses and taking pictures with them.

    We gave out Frozen coloring books for party favors.

    It was an awesome third birthday party and I’m so glad it was such a great success.

    P.S. This photo of Mark and my nephew at the party is my favorite.

  • Happy Birthday Mark!

    Date: 2014.04.23 | Category: Birthday, Family, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah | Response: 3

    Today I get to celebrate the birthday of my best friend, my husband. Last night, while I was thinking about his birthday, I realized that this is the tenth of his birthdays we’ve spent together. Ten times I’ve sung for him and celebrated another year of his life.

    The first time we were still newly infatuated with one another, another time we were newly weds. Then Sarah came and helped us celebrate those birthdays, once when she was less than two weeks old. And this year Norah joined the celebration.

    Sarah was so excited about her daddy’s birthday this year that I let her pick out a card for him. She emphatically chose one with a pink mermaid and dolphin on it with wishes for the Birthday Girl. She wouldn’t be dissuaded and could not wait to give it to her daddy this morning. He loved it, of course. She also took great joy in thwacking Mark in his still sleeping face with her present for him – a CD and a box of twinkies.

    Norah also gave her daddy a special gift – loudly and proudly yelling out her first word, “Da da!” over and over again. Mark beamed and so did I.

    I gave him a new ice tea maker, an extra pitcher, some tea and the second Walking Dead book – all of which he loved.

    Birthdays are different now – no celebrations at the Blind Tiger during happy hour. Instead Mark and I got to enjoy lunch together, chowing down on burgers at the Twisted Root (which was really great, by the way).

    Last night I asked Mark, “So, how does your last night as a 36-year-old feel?”

    He said, “No different really. I still have my beautiful wife by my side and my two sweet little girls.”

    We are all about family these days, and though our sleep may be continually interrupted and it’s harder to find time to go out for a drink, I am so thankful that we get to celebrate another birthday together, for the tenth time.

    Mark is a special guy, and on his birthday especially, I’m so happy and proud that he’s my guy.

    Happy Birthday Mark! I love you.

  • 7 Months

    Date: 2014.04.23 | Category: Family, Life, Norah | Response: 3

    Easter delayed this post for a couple of days, but I need to post it now because Norah is hitting her milestones faster than I can document them!

    This past month has been an exciting one for Norah. She started sprouting her first tooth about four weeks ago, followed shortly by her second one a week later. They are now both about the same size and coming in full force. We haven’t seen any other ones peek through yet, but with the way she’s chewing on anything and everything, I feel certain that more are on the way soon.

    Norah is also crawling now, well sort of crawling a couple of steps, falling, sliding, popping up again and then frog hopping. Her little wiggly dance works for her though and she makes enthusiastic laps around our living room. She loves the plastic Easter eggs still laying around, and will crawl to them, grab one and then throw it across the room and chase it down again – over and over and over – it’s adorable.

    She absolutely loves our dog Bonnie. When Bonnie walks up to her, a giant grin breaks out across her face, and when she gets to pet Bonnie, or Bonnie licks her, she lets out the best giggle.

    Norah, during the day anyway, is a very content baby. In the past couple of weeks she’s missed afternoon naps to go to her sister’s and cousin’s birthday parties and she didn’t miss a beat. She was tired, but never got grumpy. Instead she enjoyed watching all the other children run and play.

    Night is still tough on us. We’ve tried letting her cry it out, but that only helps us for about two nights and then we’re back to square one. Now that she can crawl, as soon as she wakes up in the middle of the night she starts crawling around her crib and crying because she’s exhausted. It’s the strangest thing.

    She is babbling more and more, making “ba, da, ma” sounds. She’s said “da da,” but I’m not sure if she knows what she’s saying. Her dad’s been working so hard to get her to say it though, so he’s very pleased. Sarah has been trying to get her to say “Sarah,” and sometimes it sounds like she says it.

    Norah makes us laugh all the time. Sometimes we will be fussing at Sarah at the dinner table when Norah will let out a gut busting laugh and break the tension completely.

    Speaking of dinner, we have introduced lots of solids now. For a while she was a great eater, but she had the stomach bug last week and since then hasn’t been big on solid foods. We are working on getting her intake back up. She is still nursing really well though and is completely happy to keep doing that.

    She is growing so quickly, in a size 9 month clothes now, but I can tell it won’t be for long.

    I love watching the little girl she is becoming, happy to snuggle with mom and dad and share smiles with anyone. We find that she “makes friends” in public all the time with her big grin and silly laughs.

    I love this little girl so much and can’t believe how quickly time is passing by.

  • Three

    Date: 2014.04.11 | Category: Birthday, Family, Life, Love, Me, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 10

    Oh Sarah Girl.

    It’s April again and that means you’re officially another year older. Three is weird because, in a way, I feel like you turned three months ago when we brought your sister home and you suddenly grew up. You started talking all the time, became braver, listened better to us and became aware of your sister and her moods and occasionally even wanted to take care of her.

    But that was two and this is three.

    Three is silly conversations and repeating phrases. It’s telling me that you “fell like a giant” when you were pushed and how you love to play blocks and paint at school each day. Three is singing memorized songs out loud and off key, but we don’t mind. “Let It Go” is your theme song, your mantra, and it’s something we all try to do.

    Three can be bossy. “Mama turn that light on. I want crackers. I can’t reach my sunglasses, give them to me!” But it’s also learning consequences, rewards and manners.

    Three is learning how to say no without saying no: “Not now mama, maybe tomorrow.”

    Three is potty trained and independent. It’s determination and stubbornness. It’s tantrums and giggles. It’s teasing and playing games.

    Three is huge imagination. A towel is a cape, a bandana is a princess dress, a bucket is a castle and blocks are an ice cream cone. There are plays and games and we are all players to the roles you assign us. “I’m Anna and you’re Elsa mama. Daddy’s the reindeer and Sister is the snowman.”

    Three is dancing and running and jumping for joy. It’s dressing up and doing hair and already asking for “purple eyes” (makeup). Three is insanely stubborn about outfits, always wanting to wear “soft pants” (leggings).

    My girl, you’ve been coming into your own all year, and it’s easy to see how you got here. You love warm hugs (like the snowman) and are so generous with kisses and “I love you’s.” You love to build things and let out raucous giggles.

    I love every moment (even the tough ones). I don’t know what the future has in store for us, but you are a bright member of our family team and I am so very glad and so very thankful that you’re my daughter.

    Happy Birthday my little love.

    Sarah’s 3rd Birthday from Jessica on Vimeo.

  • The Renovation

    Date: 2014.04.01 | Category: Family, Home, Mark, Style | Response: 10

    We bought our house about five years ago. It was originally built in the 1970’s, and has been “updated” by the various tenants who lived in it over the years. The people we bought it from had five children (in a three bedroom house) and had almost no sense of interior decoration. The master bedroom was neon purple. And while they had replaced some of the floors, they chose a cheap floating laminate that was SO LOUD when the dogs ran across it.

    We’ve been slowly working on small improvements since we bought it. We immediately re-painted the neon purple bedroom (with four coats of paint), took down the borders and the stapled-to-the-wall Winnie the Pooh balloon in the other two rooms and painted them, and painted the office. Before Sarah was born, we tore up the original blue carpet from the two other rooms and replaced it.

    The living room though, has always been a bit of an eye sore. While it has awesome vaulted ceilings and plenty of room, it was so drab. It had dated white carpet that I think was original, white walls, white ceilings and brown beams. We kept intending to update it, so we never hung pictures. It was just this awful room of blah.

    I didn’t take any great “before” pictures, but I found some on my phone featuring Sarah. You can see the living room and the hallway in these photos.

    When Cassie came to visit, she insisted we paint it – and we did! It’s much warmer and more inviting now.

    The carpet, however, became a problem. We have two dogs, one who liked to pee in the same spot by the back door. We had juice stains and dog hair and everything else you can possibly imagine to irritate allergies. We had enough and decided to replace it. While we were at it, I insisted we replace the loud laminate in the hallways too to keep the dog toenails from waking up the kids.

    After doing a lot of research and pricing, we ultimately decided to buy the floors through a distributor in Georgia and install it ourselves, saving us somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500.

    Mark ripped up all the old floors and it’s amazing how much better the house smelled!

    Well, like most home projects, other tangent projects started popping up. Mark wanted to replace our front and back doors before the new floors went in so the thresholds would meet the new floor without looking weird – so he and his dad did that. And then he wanted  to cut down our extremely long to-the-wall fireplace hearth off to give us more room – so he did. And then we needed to prime and paint our hallway, which was a ridiculous and ugly seafoam green, so we did that too. On and on and on. We kept working at it, but still the floors weren’t going down.

    I began to worry because we both wanted it all done before Sarah’s fast approaching birthday party. And while Mark and I are happily married and have been together nearly 11 years, it turns out we have very different philosophies on home improvement projects that result in a lot of arguing. (For example, I’d rather tape and paint quickly, so we can finish a room and move on to the next project, while he was concerned about the direction of brush strokes and meticulously painting around the painters tape “just in case it bled through).

    Needless to say, the thought of taking on the floors ourselves while under the time crunch would have been a very bad idea for a number of reasons.

    Good thing Mark’s parents knew a good floor man. He came and scoped it out and gave us a fantastic price. Plus he has the experience and all the tools to put the floor down. Oh, and he and his brother can do it in one day. What we are paying them is more than enough to save our sanity and the potential arguments that come with home renovations.

    So, as of today, we are the proud owners of new floors, new doors, and a newly painted hallway.

    Oh, and we also paid someone to build us a new gate into our back yard to accommodate Mark’s giant new-to-us lawnmower.

    All we have left to do before the big birthday party is paint and install some new trim… and put together the birthday girl’s new trampoline.