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Backyard Nature Notes v.3

Well, it’s finally officially December in Wisconsin and it actually looks and feels like it. A complete contrast to the 60 degree weather we had throughout November, but fitting for where we live.

But the dropping temps didn’t keep us from playing outside…

Saturday, we went to get our Christmas tree, a yearly family tradition. The ground was still in decent shape (i.e. no mud or snow) which made the whole process a lot smoother. And though it was cooler, it wasn’t frigid.

 

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We like to get our tree from ANR Tree Farm in Wild Rose, WI (another reason to visit Wild Rose). The whole thing is a tradition, from the hay ride out to the field to the complementary yearly ornament, to the cider and popcorn afterward.

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And there she is. Our tree for this year!

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Where’s the little boy pulling the tree? See that hood?

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Oh, and on the way to get our tree, we actually spotted an owl!

Have you ever seen an owl in the wild? I have only seen one other owl in the wild in my entire life, so it’s quite the treat. But it wasn’t feasible to get it on the camera, so you’ll just have to visualize a huge bird you think is a hawk swooping out low in front of the car and landing in the trees. And as you look at its wings and face, you suddenly realize it’s an owl! OMG, pull over there’s an owl!?!

And then your hubby pulls over so you can try and get a picture and the people whose property  you’re trespassing on just a little come out to see what’s going on and the owl flies away. And everyone gets to see the elusive owl!

 

Sunday morning we woke up and our whole world had turned white. Yep, compare and contrast the photos above and below. 24 hours difference. Now we are in WI after all. It snowed most of the day (did you catch the Packer game? It was snowing during the whole game.)

We kept it pretty low key on Sunday, but the kiddos sure had fun in the snow. Kayne made a snowman and took his sister out in her puffball suit to play with the kittens a bit. This is the first time the kittens have ever seen snow! And they were very playful.

 

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Awhile later, Kayne came and asked if one of us could pull him around in his sled.

Well, you know what that kind of question does to a dad, right?

A dad thinks about how he can amplify that request times 10.

And since we don’t have any hills around…

 

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Yeah, so if you’ve ever wondered, this is what we do on Sundays, in WI, when we live the country.

The moral of this story? Don’t let the weather stop you from getting up and outside. A few layers and a warm place to return to and you’ve got an entire season to take advantage of!

How did you get outside this weekend? What’s the weather like where you live?

Backyard Nature Notes v.1

Hey #flashers,

Today, I’d like to start a new thang here on the bloggie blog. Since we moved to the country last year, I’ve found that every week holds a bundle of backyard stories, whether that’s literally in our own backyard or “in our backyard” community.

Since our stories are unfolding here in nature, I thought it only natural to start a series about these backyard happenings, in hopes of inspiring other families to get out into their backyards and out into nature.

So, here we go…

Last weekend, Hubster dropped the kids and I off at a nature preserve on a whim while he went grocery shopping. The nature preserve was actually right across the street from the grocery store, so it was a win-win for all involved.

What we found inside was this amazing nature playground!

First, we spotted one.

A branch lean-to just a few yards off the trail. Kayne and Rayna explored it a little bit and got their pictures taken inside.

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Then, Kayne noticed another little fort just down the trail…and then another…and another!

They were everywhere around us!

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Like a little kid’s paradise!

I mean seriously, what kid doesn’t dream of a forest wonderland like this?

So, we explored as many as we could access, took lots of pictures and footage and made plans to come back again with my nephews for a secret hideout picnic. We’ll throw down our picnic blankets and pretend to “live” inside one of these branch homes for an afternoon.

I believe that this little section of woods is owned by the school system in the area, so I imagine that all these little forts were some kind of school field trip lesson. Whatever class this is, I want to be in it!

 

My little fairy daughter is a born nature girl. Both kids are really. From the moment they were born, I only had to take them outside when they were crying for instantaneous calm. But this girl…you can’t keep shoes on her. She loves to feel the real raw earth under her tootsies. I get that…

And you can’t keep the pinecones and leaves and flowers and all the things out of her hands. But really, who would actually want to take them out of her hands?

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And she loves the treasures of nature. We couldn’t get her away from this stump. It was as though she was contemplating the inner soul of what was left of the tree, wondering at its wound. All three of us started down the trail again, but before we knew it, Rayna turned around and went back to crouch beside her stump. Kayne and I had a good laugh, but I understood…

The weather in November in WI has been otherworldly warm. Near 70s last weekend. And we aren’t letting a minute go to waste. In fact, Rayna usually naps, but I kept her awake so we could just play outside all day.

And we did.

 

What did you do in your own backyard this weekend?

A Trip to The Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

A few weeks ago, the kiddos and I, along with my sis and nephews, visited the Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin in Appleton, WI. We only found out about the place last year when we visited and we’re huge fans now!

During Monarch migration, they always hold a butterfly release event, which is the best time to go! For your admittance, you get one butterfly for the family to tag and release out in their back butterfly garden. It’s magical.

It was raining the day we went, so it was a little bit more difficult to get the whole experience. The boys ended up having to coerce their butterflies off their fingers onto a plant to let them go. I think it made the boys feel more connected to their monarchs though, because the butterflies didn’t want to leave them.

Out behind the building is this giant butterfly garden with trails through it in the shape of a butterfly. It’s really something. And it was just full of all kinds of buzzing critters last year.

Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

 

Inside the butterfly house, which is like a screened-in greenhouse, the butterflies were a bit chilled by the rain, so they were a little more difficult to find. But with patience, we found plenty of them. The docents give you a q-tip with sugar water on it to help attract the butterflies.

Butterfly House

Monarch butterfly house

Appleton Butterfly Garden

hold Monarch butterflies

wearing monarch butterflies

Stop and smell the……………butterflies?

barefoot and butterflies

Please take note of the bare feet. This girl is a nature girl at heart, through and through. You cannot keep a pair of shoes on her, even where there’s gravel. Bless her heart.

monarch butterfly migration participant

monarch on butterfly flower

Rayna and auntie monarchs

The butterfly gardens also have some other cool displays and exhibits too. They have this cool display of various butterflies from all over.

 

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And turtles….

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And frogs….
Butterfly Gardens of WIAnd bees…….. *shudder*

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And we were lucky enough to be able to take two monarch caterpillars home to try to raise. We have milkweed everywhere by our house and a butterfly net, so we were equipped for the job.

If I would’ve written this blog post right after our trip though, I wouldn’t have to tell you that unfortunately, both of them are now resting in the ground. One died from the black virus and the other…we’re not sure.

But we are grateful for the time we had with them, because they were fascinating to watch. The tiny one grew literally before our eyes. Like, we’d go to work and come home, and he’d be bigger and there’d be huge holes in the milkweed we left for him.

We named him Eric Carle.


monarch caterpillars monarch butterfly caterpillar milkweed

RIP Eric Carle.

If you’re ever able to make the monarch butterfly release during the monarch migration, I highly recommend it. The Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin is definitely something to see!

So tell me…do you find butterflies as incredibly enchanting as I do? Have you ever paid attention to the monarch migration?

How to Camp with a Toddler

How to Camp with a Toddler

Just try it. See how it goes. And don’t worry too much.

Toddler Camping

How’s that for a canned, cop-out answer?

But really, try not to overthink this. If you normally go camping every summer, then normal camping you shall go. The sooner you make camping a part of your newer child’s life, the sooner it will just become “normal.” Having a baby or toddler in the house doesn’t have to change your normal family activities. And it’s really not as hard as you might be thinking!

We were worried about how our little girl would do too, but we went anyway and winged it. Actually, we went last year when she was only10 months old. Having a baby? Doesn’t stop us from enjoying our favorite past-times. In fact, having Rayna there enriched the experience tenfold. Try going camping through the eyes of a one-year-old. Fascinating!

 

Camping with a Toddler

This is our camper and set-up. As a side note, that there umbrella-tent thing, the Sportbrella is awesome! You can fit two normal camping chairs under there and hang out when it’s raining or super sunny (our overhang needs repair). BYOS, Bring Your Own Shade. In fact, my BIL uses theirs at my nephew’s soccer games.

 

Ok, now let me give you a few more legit tips for camping with a tiny human:

The sleeping situation

So, Rayna still sleeps in a crib. And she needs to. She is a rolly-polly sleeper and falls off normal beds still. She also doesn’t have the discipline to stay put yet. Problem is, all we have in the camper are normal beds. And they’re the type of beds that you can’t hook a toddler bed gate to, otherwise we would’ve done that.

Luckily, our camper has a cabinet that blocks part of the bed, so I put her as close to that end as I could. I also added a full-body pillow to that side of the bed so she would be kinda nested in there. We think she fell out a few times: once when the dog took over her space (#sillypuppy) and once when she had rolled to the opposite side of the bed. None of this was dangerous though.

So, I would suggest using a toddler gate if you can, making a nice sleeping nest, and putting something soft on the floor beside the bed, just in case. No biggie.

Also, since toddlers like to get up after you’ve put them down for bed, you have to be consistent about putting them back every single time they get up. It actually only takes several times before they get the picture. The picture you have in your mind of putting your child back 50 times over the course of 2 hours while pulling your hair is way exaggerated to what usually happens in reality. A few times was all it took for Rayna the first day, and it got easier every day thereafter.

Inside Camper with KidsThe kids’ set-up: side-by-side beds with a pull-out table and a TV stand with their movie player.

The Itinerary

So, toddlers are not the greatest at kicking back in a camping chair and watching the fire. No, they are not.

So, we made sure we had a small excursion planned for each day (nothing too involved) that we were at the campground and we broke the day up into chunks.

Actually, each thing we did was like a mini event: prepare and eat breakfast, run to the showers and get ready (Rayna oddly LOVED this part), do a little excursion, come back and do lunch, go down for a nap, go down to the playground for a bit, gather wood for the fire, have dinner, wind down with a movie on the portable DVD player, go to bed.

All these little experiences were a great way to keep our toddler active all day along with us. while doing the things all of us like to do. Like I said, she doesn’t like to just lounge around, so we used what was available to us (playground, hiking trails, beach) to keep her busy.

 

Campground with Toddler

She swam, collected seashells, looked at the fishies, jumped off the dock into my arms and explored the sand.

Hiking with a toddler at the campground

Taking a slow family hike, collecting fun things in her hands.

Campground playground

Old-school playground

Normal Routines

While camping, it’s important to maintain all of your normal daily routines, as much for comfort in a new place as for practical purposes.

We did all our normal routines like bedtime teeth brushing and back rubbing, our normal morning breakfast, after-lunch naps, and those kinds of things so our daughter understood what was going on and felt secure in her new environment. We brought along all her favorite stuffed animals and blankets too, for her comfort.

Even the times that we did things like naps and bedtime were pretty similar to at home, so we didn’t mess up her internal clock either.

 

Kid-Friendly Food

We brought along a lot of non-cook snacks for the kiddos to enjoy on our trip like applesauce, fruit cups, oatmeal, trail mix and things like that. These are easy to pack, keep fresh and grab when needed.

There’s no reason to get anxious about meal planning for camping. Keep it simple. We have a camper with an oven so we like to cook the same things we would at home. But we also camp at a place with a grocery store nearby so we don’t worry if we forget something either. Actually, sometimes we leave the bulk of the grocery shopping until we get there.

Cooking hot dogs and S’mores over the fire is like a rite of camping passage, so don’t forget those supplies;) It’s one of those things that your children will form memories around and likely pass on to their own children, so make it meaningful. It’s an entire experience in itself, everyone gathered around the fire, getting the browning down to a science, and enjoying the food at sunset around a picnic table. Mmmmmm. Such brilliant memories…

 

The Dirt

Camping trips are one of those times when it’s ok (and pretty hard not to) let your toddler get dirty. We could not keep shoes on Rayna for the life of us. Every. single. time. we put them on her, she had them off within minutes. And really, who cares? Even though there were pine needles and pinecones poking up everywhere, we weren’t the least bit worried. Think about all the sensations your child is learning, the closeness to the earth they’re experiencing, the earthing they’re getting to do.

In fact, I often wonder about the sheer magnitude of stuff that’s happening in a toddler’s head when they’re in a new environment. Can you imagine all the neurons firing and brain cells being activated when they’re experiencing all these new things?

Rayna even stole my contact case at one point and used it as a sand scoop on the last day. I wasn’t bothered in the least. Not only do I have plenty of them at home, but I was happy to see her exploring the earth.

Pinch Bouquet

On one of our hikes, Rayna helped me collect “pretties” for our signature #fingerbouquets

It rained one of the nights we were there too, and Kayne took his bike splashing through the puddles at the campground. Totally fine! There were free showers where we stayed and that’s just what camping is all about! Let them experience nature in all its dirtiness! We sweat, we kicked mushrooms, we played in the lake water amongst fishies, we walked barefoot through the sand, we went down wet slides, and just plain got dirty. It was fun!

After the trip, when I was cleaning out the camper, I was amazed at the sheer volume of sand that was left in there. I sure do love getting it squeaky clean afterwards, but during the trip, getting dirty is just a natural part of the whole experience.

 

Things To Do

Even if you don’t want to plan any excursions or just plain aren’t near any, there are so many little things you can do with your toddler at a campground to keep them busy and engaged. We didn’t bring along very many toys, and you don’t need to either. Here are just a few that I came up with, many of which we’ve tried:

  • Do a scavenger hunt. For small children, just ask them to bring you simple items like twigs or pinecones. For older children, print off a list of harder-to-find items that they can be on the lookout for and collect throughout the entire trip.
  • Create a finger bouquet.
  • Bring along a wagon or wheelbarrow for them to collect twigs for the fire.
  • Take walks around the campground (this could keep them busy for hours).
  • Walk the trails nearby.
  • Visit the beach.
  • Bring sand toys to play in the sand. Our campground had not only a beach but also a volleyball court where we played in the sand.
  • Bring a guitar or music player and play music around the campfire.
  • Create a nature mandala, like this one or this one.
  • Find a new secret spot to picnic for each meal.
  • Make a fort.

 

I hope these tips give you some insight into camping with small children. And if you’ve had any hesitations or reservations about going, I hope this inspires you to give it a shot!

 

Pin this article for later:

How to Camp with a Toddler

Have you ever tried camping with a baby or toddler? How did it go?

What are some of your best memories from camping as a child?

 

 

Wedding Weekend and Our First airbnb Experience

These weekend took Hubster and I to Madison, WI for a family wedding. It was a quick trip and it was just right.

For the most part, the wedding was adults-only, so we had to leave the kiddos behind. My friend Kristi, bless her dear heart, offered to take the kids for the day for her daughter’s birthday party. My mom picked them up from there and took them back to our house for bedtime.

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Anyhow, I love the Madison hipster vibe. I really need a dose of that every once in awhile. State Street, how I’ve missed you!

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We had our first airbnb experience this weekend too. And I loved it! Ok, so I’ll admit it does feel really awkward to stay in a stranger’s home when they’re going to be there. But for the purpose of this trip, it was perfect for what we needed. And I think it’s healthy in our individualistic society to reach out to new people this way.

We weren’t sure if we were actually going to stay overnight, so we didn’t book a hotel room in advance. Once we finally decided to stay last minute, I thought, well, we only need a bed to sleep in for the night after the reception and before brunch the next morning. Simple. Airbnb it is!

AND, the house we found was only three blocks from the reception venue, so we didn’t need to worry about designated drivers or anything.

So, for $50, we stayed in a room in an adorable bungalow with everything we needed: a bed, a shower and a place to drop our stuff. We were certainly welcome to use the kitchen and other parts of the house as well, but we didn’t need to. And our hosts were great!

 

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We tried not to make much noise when we returned from the reception and our hosts barely made any noise when they got up in the morning. So it was just a nice respectful way to get out of our shells and cohabitate with other humans;)

The wedding was absolutely beautiful. The bride reminded me of Snow White or some other beautiful dark-haired Disney personality. The food was great, the dancing was fun, and the caricatures they did were absolutely hilarious!

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The next morning, we were invited to the newlywed’s home for brunch and another family get-together before everyone headed home. It was nice to chill with everyone in a non-chaotic state and tour the newlywed’s new home.

Some of Hubster’s family is still in town for a few days, so we’re hosting a dinner tonight at our house which I’m currently getting ready for and looking forward to. Then, we’re off for a few days of camping before school starts again. We love this kind of travel–laid-back, not too far from home, keep it simple trips.

What do you like to do when you travel?

Do you have any cities that revive you?

What Summer Weekends Are Made Of!

This weekend was a weekend full of everything that summer weekends should be made of: outdoor picnics, live music, festivals, rides, sweet corn and fun houses.

Saturday, after getting the house cleaning done, our little family went to a benefit for our favorite long-time mechanic who just learned he is facing stage IV lung cancer. Though the circumstances are dire, the event itself was an amazing tribute to this talented man!

They had a really great cookout, a live band, lots of drinks, and a motorcycle rally. It was really quite fun! We tried to spend as much as we could on raffles and face painting and more raffles.

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Hey look, we spotted a church friend doing the face painting!

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After that, we snuck in our grocery shopping for the week. I am having the most delicious mother-of-a-wrap sandwich for my lunches this week. I haven’t even taken a picture of it yet because of its get-in-my-mouth urgency.

Sunday, we ran away to the county fair. We did all the summer things. Kayne and I went on all the rides. He’s 8 and tall now, so it’s so much fun to be able to ride all the big rides with him. And even some of the kiddie ones too, like the Fun House.

 

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IMG_1312.JPGAnother passing kid said “look, he’s a cowboy” and Kayne gave me the most “nailed it” smile. Exactly the look he was going for!

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We had to stick around and watch the demolition derby at the fair too, of course. Even the baby loves stuff like this! She said “uh oh” about 1,535,654 times. Haha! Yes my dear daughter, uh oh.

Then, my most favorite summer festival thing, the sweeeeeet corn! I looooove me some sweet corn. Best part about summer! I buy it at fairs, I buy it at roadside stands, I buy it at the farmer’s markets and there’s some in my fridge right now.

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We finished off Sunday evening with a good pool scrubbing and refill so we can enjoy this other novelty of summer. Meanwhile, kittens!

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They’re kid-friendly

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They can climb trees.

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 And they’re just too stinkin’ cute!

Anyone want one–or three? For real, we have probably 3 that aren’t spoken for yet.

What do your summer weekends typically look like?

New Family Tradition: Jesse Tree

So, in years past, I have put together a fun Advent calendar for Kayne to make the countdown to Christmas meaningful and intentional. You can see some of our activities HERE and HERE. This year, I didn’t know if I’d be able to maintain that level of involvement with our big move and everything. We’ll still do a lot of those activities anyway, calendar or not. I was also thinking about how to make the countdown a bit more meaningful to the reason for the season.

So, I hopped on Etsy and typed in “Jesse Tree.” My final decision came down to this set of ornaments. I just LOVE them. They came all wrapped up in a burlap sack with a printed scripture guide.

We’ve been sitting down every night, reading the verses in the guide and discussing the themes. Then, my son will place the ornament on the tree wherever he wants.

I can’t wait to keep this tradition going. I’m thinking of buying the kids each their own set and tucking them away for when they move out of the house. I’m hoping that this is one of those traditions that they take with them for their own families and find comfort in the familiarity of the “back home” tradition.

Does your family do any sort of countdown to Christmas traditions? I love hearing stories about them!

A Trip to Battle Creek Michigan

A few weeks ago we visited some friends in Battle Creek, Michigan. I was a little leary of taking a 1-year-old on a 5-hour trip. But a few stops to stretch our legs and a few cat naps broke up the trip into manageable legs and we had very little resistance.
Chicago skyline
We didn’t make any set plans for the trip and just played it by ear because we’re casual vacationers like that:) So, what we ended up doing was perfect for us. A few museums, lots of swimming and plenty of downtime.
One of the days we were there, we went to a children’s museum. The children’s museum in Kalamazoo is amazing!!! Their learning centers are so incredible. There are sections that teach about the weather, braille and blind learning, alternative energy, night creatures, music, pretend news stations and a lot more. They even have a special section devoted to tiny kids, so that’s where Rayna and I spent a good chunk of time while daddy took Kayne on adventures through the building. It’s so impressive to me that this museum is completely free! If I lived there, we’d be going all the time.

They had little sections in the baby area
with different animals: amphibians,
butterflies, bugs, jungle animals, etc.
Little wooden farmyard.

Old-fashioned general store
Kayne was learning about the stages of a butterfly life cycle in school at the time.
They had these Eric Carle felt boards where he showed me the entire life cycle of a butterfly.

Wind energy
One of the other days we were there, we visited another museum that was right up my alley! It was a museum about Dr. Kellogg (whose brother is the name behind the Kellogg’s brand) and his research into health and fitness. He ran a huge sanitarium that was basically a cross between a medical center and a health resort. For a good read about some of his contraptions, read this.

This contraption here was a leg vibrator thing
that was supposed to increase circulation in
the legs from sitting too long.

Sitz bath
Here is a picture of the gym on-board the Titanic that was designed by Dr. Kellogg. Cool, huh?

Dr Kellogg believed in the healing powers of the sun and fresh air. So, he brought
the powers of the sun indoors with different light baths, much like today’s light boxes for SAD.

There are a few other historical buildings on-site as well including a one-room schoolhouse and a church.

But, we had to leave the Kellogg museum tour early due to some mini crabby person that needed a nap;) On our way out, I got to see a little weasel that had made a home under a museum outbuilding.
While in Battle Creek, we stayed in a decent motel and so for some of our downtime, we had fun using their pool and fitness equipment. We invited our friends to enjoy pool time too!

On our last night there, we had one last big group dinner with our friends at a Big Boy. We haven’t been to a Big Boy in probably 15-20 years. Even though Hubster had some really bad luck with his meal, but it was fun to go back in time a bit.

After dinner, we hit up the Battle Creek mall for a little while. I found some clothes and a bamboo wind chime at an import store. I also found the most adorable bedtime yoga book and a few other things at Barnes and Noble. I love having a meaningful bedtime routine for my kids and myself, and this book is absolutely perfect! Kayne loves going through the little vinyasa and the pictures are swoonworthy.

We had a great time just doing these easy things on a whim. The trees were changing color and the sun was out, so the timing was perfect. We planned the trip so we’d return on a Saturday and still have Sunday to rest before going back to work.

An Alice in Wonderland Tea First Birthday Party

I love Alice in Wonderland. I’ve loved Alice in Wonderland since before loving it was cool, haha. That was one of the only kids’ movies we owned growing up (we would rather have rented), so I saw it upwards of 50 times, no joke. So, when I was trying to decide on a theme for my daughter’s first birthday, it was only natural that an Alice themed tea party would strike me as appropriate.

The cutest, most appropriate, invitations ever!
I added little AIW details like the party time: 3pm, don’t be late for this very important date.
And the event: a very merry unbirthday to you and a happy first birthday to Rayna.

I tried not to go all out though and stress myself out. I wanted it to be about celebrating my little girl, not an over-the-top obligation. Kayne’s first birthday party didn’t even have a theme, and I’m not sure they’re completely necessary. But I guess I was strung along by all the other mommas in my mommy groups that had set themes and picture-worthy decorations. You know how that goes… We wanted to keep it simple. Hubster and I definitely committed to easy food. The crockpot, some veggie trays and grape skewers were very easy food choices that took the pressure off.

Idea from here
I found some “drink me” labels to try
We really did serve tea too and set out a beautiful teacup collection from my mom.

Clean cup, clean cup, move dooooown!

For some reason, my mom also had some tea party themed balloons in her party stash which couldn’t have been more perfect. This pic isn’t the greatest, but we used the balloons, a doily bunting banner and a few hand-drawn (by my sister) Alice pictures for decorations. I forgot to get a picture of it up close, but I made a sign at the center bottom there that had arrows pointing “this way,” “that way,” “wrong way,” “tea party” inspired by this Pinterest post.

I found the most adorable Alice dress from an Etsy shop for the pretty lady, although I’m not sure the 12 month size was accurate. She sure made an adorable Alice. And the most adorable card from the seller certainly made up for it.

We couldn’t find a tea party or Alice in Wonderland cake at the grocery stores we tried, so we settled on a generic princess cake, that even came with a complimentary smash cake.
And smash it she did!
This kid was totally asking for it, lol. Like literally, “throw cake in my face, momma” asking for it.

All in all, Rayna did pretty well for all the noise and ruckus in our house. I loved it! Our house was filled with our closest family and friends. Especially ones I hadn’t seen in a long time. I love having a full house! It had to be overstimulating for the baby, but she hung in there and begged us to open her new toys in her own baby way: by bringing them to us and whine-crying to get her point across. So darling!

We had a fabulous time ringing in this milestone day with our pretty little daughter (it’s still weird for me to say “daughter.” I have a daughter!). She’s finally one! She finally has a number!
I’d like to thank all my friends and family that were able to make it. You know who you are! We couldn’t have made Rayna’s day so special without you. These precious moments will be captured in her memory book forever and we’re so glad you were a part of it!

Happy birthday Rayna!

Baby’s First Birthday

Oh my goodness, I know no other mother has said this before, but how did an entire year go by already?

This girl has brought more joy to our lives than I could ever have imagined. I never felt the desire to be a stay-at-home mom until she came along. I cried almost every day thinking about returning to work and begged Hubster to take a different position so that I could stay home, but it just isn’t in the cards for us. I just had such enjoyment spending those first 9 weeks of her life with her. I so enjoyed reading her books, cuddling up with her for naps, taking her for walks, and letting her watch me sew and work on projects from her bouncy seat. I was at a different place in my life when her brother was born and I didn’t have those same desires, although it cut me deep to leave him every day.

This girl was a champion sleeper right from the beginning (she’s regressed a bit recently, which is odd), and for that we have been so blessed. She has been such an easy baby. She only cried when she was tired or hungry, never for no reason.

She surprised us with her shocks of bright red hair when she was born. I didn’t think she would be born with any hair at all. And the fact that she did and it was RED just blew me away.

She is a very active, curious, smart child. Forget toys! She wants to investigate nooks, crannies, books and…well…everything. She is also a huge garbage picker. I mean, I know babies like to stick everything in their mouths, but this girl will find the tiniest hair on the carpet or piece of dust on a windowsill and try to taste it. And she literally loves to pick out of every garbage can in the house.

This girl also skipped right over pureed baby food and went straight to table food. She would literally have NOTHING to do with purees or baby cereal. I even made some pea and squash purees from scratch for her that may never be used. She wants what we’re eating. So, we started her on soft things, but she pretty much eats what we eat already.

She is a water baby, loving baths and sticking her own head underwater. She’s super funny, like the times she puts clothes on her head and crawls around laughing. Or when she clunks heads on purpose or blows raspberries on momma’s belly. She is a huge daddy’s girl and she especially loves her Auntie Jenny and her daddy’s friend David.

She beat her brother with not only hair and birth weight, but also teeth. She has had four for months where her brother cut his first on his first birthday.

I love the place she is at now. She understands many things and she rushes to meet me when I get home. She waves and gives hugs. She’s easy to make laugh. She has quite a personality, even though she can’t really talk yet. And she always gets her way. If baby ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.

Her nicknames have been Raynaliscious, Rayna Pants, Dolly, Miss Thing and currently, Booga. She is also the prettiest girl in the world:)

Her brother made me a mother. And she is the one who completed our family. They both have such a special place in our family and lives. I am so elated that I get to have both a boy and a girl. I can’t wait until she’s a little older and we can do girl stuff together. We’ll probably get our nails done together by the time she’s 3, haha. I just looooooooove this little girl and thank God for sending her to me.

Happy Birthday Booga!