My Baby is One!

A year ago right now, Sidney was already born, but just barely.  I was recovering from my third c-section, my dad was getting Riley and Adrian ready for school, and Shawn was in the nursery with our beautiful baby girl.

She still doesn’t have much hair, but she is even more beautiful now.

Now, in looking back on the past year, I am amazed by all that she has learned, all the many ways she melts my heart.  Now, at one, she is almost running, climbing up on couches, saying a few words like “diaper” and “bye, bye,” giving hugs and kisses, and trying, in so many ways, to be a big kid like her older brother and sister.

For me, maybe because she is the third, I feel like I have been able to just sit back and enjoy this year, watching her hit milestones, watching the three littles play and watch each other, watching her bright eyes take in the wide, wide world around her.  We’ve done a lot of cuddling, Sidney and I.  We’ve done a lot of roaring.  The girl doesn’t seem to know a food she doesn’t like, but she will be happy to scatter leftovers on the floor when she is done with dinner.  She’ll run away if she senses a clothing or diaper change on the horizon, and then come racing over to me as soon as I sit on the floor to crank out a sit-up or two.  She’s fiercely possessive of my lap at the moment.  She loves books and trucks and balls and blocks.  She’ll let you know when she wants more pretzels or when she wants to be held.  Sure, she still gets me up occasionally in the middle of the night, but honestly I don’t mind.  I like that time with her.  I like being around her, period.  She is lovable, playful, fierce, and brave.  Yes, of course, I am still in awe of her.  I think I will always be.

So today, we’ll have a Funfetti cake, we’ll sing happy birthday, and we’ll cover her in hugs and kisses.  Today is a good day.

Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet Sidney.

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Adrian Turns Two!

On Monday, my sweet, sweet boy turned two years old.

Two years ago, we were living in Gainesville, watching Fight Club in the waning moments before my second c-section and waiting for our little man to make his appearance.  He’s been all smiles since.  Smiles, giggles, and the occasional temper-tantrum.  He’s chatting up a storm these days, and though he prefers his daddy to me, I fall a little more in love with him every time I see his bright blue eyes and devilish little grin.  He is a sweetheart with his sisters, sharing and bringing them treats and diapers.  He’s my little helper, already a laundry pro.  When he eats cereal, he wants at least three different kinds at once.  When he plays, he plays hard.  He wants to do everything on his own now – climb into his car seat, tackle playground obstacles, and walk down stairs – and I am so proud of his growing confidence.  I love the time we spend cuddling (usually when daddy is away), and I cherish each time he wants me to hold him.  I get lost in beautiful blonde hair.  I melt in the glow of his smile.  I am so happy he is mine.

To celebrate, we had a funfetti cake with the Pinchots on Sunday, and an Elmo party on Monday with Grandpa, Grandma, and Aunt Claire.  My dad made an amazing Elmo cake, Adrian got an Elmo doll, and Elmo signs were waiting for Adrian all over the house (will post pictures once I get them from my dad).  Thank you all for making Adrian’s second birthday so special.  All day, we kept asking him who the birthday boy was, and he would say “me!”  Adorable.

Happy birthday, Adrian!  I love you, little man.

A Candy Land Birthday Party

Saturday was a beautiful day for Riley’s birthday party!  We had it at a nearby park with a covered pavilion, plenty of wide open space, and a playground (that we never made it to during the party.).  The pavilion was ours from 1-5 to give us an hour to set-up and pack-up around the two hour party, and we needed that whole time and then some!  Just after noon, we packed up the family and all of the party stuff in two cars and took off for the park!  Alli, CE, and my parents came down from Virginia to celebrate Riley’s birthday and Easter with us.  I don’t know what we would have done without their help!


1. I took this idea from Pinterest:

And had Shawn and CE put up the table cloths across the top of the pavilion.  It was a bit breezy, but they certainly filled the space nicely and created a cool effect.

2.  We had three helium-filled Mylar balloons for the cake table.

3.  Alli did streamers around each of the pavilion poles.

4.  On the tables, I just had table cloths and bowls for candy and food in Candy Land colors.

The Party Plan

Our idea for the party was four half-hour blocks of time for the following activities: games, eating, art, and playground.  But actually, we ended up with blocks for games, eating, art, and free-play around the pavilion while the parents and fam all chatted.  The two hours went by so fast, and I think everyone had a good time. I hope so!  Riley said she did!


1.  Balloon Pop Candy Race.  We did this last year, but with dinosaurs and lizards in the balloons instead.  The kids formed two teams of three, and raced out into the field where they popped a balloon, retrieved the candy, and ran back to tag off.  It was adorable watching all of the kids run and find new ways to pop the balloons.  Good times.

2.  Easter Egg Hunt.  This one seemed like a no-brainer considered Easter was the next day, and the party was focused around candy!  Alli and CE and Riley stuffed the eggs in the morning, and my dad and Adrian hid them around a field.  Total: 131 eggs!

3.  Bucket Ball Toss.  I had this idea from Pinterest for this game:

But instead of buckets, I used brightly colored pots and ping-pong balls.  Then, we just had all of the kids stand around and try to toss a ping-pong ball into a pot.  Okay, so this was a little lame, but the kids seemed to have fun!  Next time, I’ll just get buckets!


1.  Cookie Cakes.  Since I had had a cookie cake for my birthday, Riley wanted a cookie cake for hers.  But instead of one cake, the plan was to create four 9″ round cakes (since she was turning four and I had bought four packs of cookie dough).  In the end, we had three.  Two rounds turned out perfectly and popped right out of the pan (Kroger’s brand).  The next two didn’t, and I ended up destroying one cake and leaving the last one in the pan (Nestle’s).  Then, Riley and I iced and decorated the cakes with M&M’s, so they looked like giant pieces of candy.  Who knows?  She may be the next Cake Boss.

2.  Candy.  In keeping with the theme, we had a ton of candy at the party!  It was also part of the party favor, but during the party, we had all different sorts available for everyone to enjoy: gummy bears, jelly beans, Hershey kisses, Reese’s cups, M&M’s, Robin Eggs, and assorted mini Hershey’s bars.  We still have a bunch of candy left, too!

3.  Snacks.  We kept it simple since we had so much candy: pretzels, grapes, and strawberries.

4.  Drinks.  Capri Suns for the kids and bottles of water for everyone.


1.  I picked up a balloon animal kit for three dollars from Target.  The plan was to have Shawn blow them up for the kids, so the kids could decorate them as snakes (or something simple).  Instead, the kids helped blow them up and got a chance to wave them around a bit until they popped.  Adrian went through at least ten balloons!

2.  My dad is a sign-making genius!  So I asked him to make a banner for the kids to color together at the party.  Riley loves to color, and I thought it would be nice to have a chill activity in addition to the games.  My dad brought markers, and I picked up glitter glue pens and stickers.  The adults did most of the work on the banner, but the kids sat down for a little while, and it was nice having something for them to do quietly for a time.  I will definitely post a pictures of the completed banner once I get it from my dad!


1.  A friend of mine, for her baby shower, attached a thank you note to the favor for all of the guests, and I thought it was a genius idea!  So Friday afternoon, Riley picked out thank you notes and filled them out for her friends.

2. Then we picked up water bottles for all of the kids and attached the thank you notes to them.  At the party, the kids filled their water bottles with candy before they left.

I love being able to celebrate our kids’ birthdays in fun ways.  Now that Riley is getting older, it is nice having her help plan and prepare for the party, too.  A big thanks to all of Riley’s friends for coming to her party!  A big thanks to my family for being there and helping so much!

Enjoy the pictures!

Riley’s Day One Remembered…

I remember April 7, 2008 in glimpses:

My gym bag packed in the backseat of the car…

The first day of spring break

An appointment for an ultrasound to check on the baby since I was measuring small…Shawn coming with me before heading to a track meet…

Sitting on the table and watching the ultrasound screen.  All that white around our little one…

My doctor saying, “See that white?  That’s calcification in your placenta.  It looks like we are going to meet this baby today.”

Me not breathing…

A rush to get registered

Shawn running home to get a bag of stuff for me, my list scrawled on the back of something…

A gown, monitors, IV, nurses, the anesthesiologist

I ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast…

Back to the OR

The first attempt at the spinal leaves half of me tingly…

Shawn comes back…he’s smiling…

Not even two hours after our scheduled appointment, the baby is out…

“It’s a girl!  A Riley!” 

6 pounds, 6 ounces.

She’s okay, she’s crying, sort of.  She’s so small.

Two pictures are snapped: our first family portraits.  Then she is rushed off.  She’s grunting.

Then Shawn is gone with our daughter, and I am left alone.

Behind the curtain, it is quiet.  I can’t move.  A nurse squeezes my arm.  She asks if I’m okay.

I nod.  I’m okay.  Just worried.  Just overwhelmed.  Just looking forward to holding my baby girl.  I try to picture her, to hear the sounds again.  I wonder what is to come.  I’m thrilled.  I’m terrified.  My belly is empty, but I feel full.

And now, four years have passed.  Four wonderful, wonderful years.  Happy birthday, my Riley-kins.  I love you.


Riley’s Birthday Eve Interview

On her last day as a three-year-old, I thought I would interview Riley.  I am hoping I remember to do this every year from here on out (with Riley and the other kiddos).  I found this idea on Pinterest, and it is originally from Reaves, Party of Four.  I like this as a birthday tradition.  A fun Q &A snapshot.

We just made and decorated Riley’s cookie cakes.  We finished our birthday party shopping.  Favors and thank you notes are good to go.  Now it’s time to relax a little.  Now it’s time for the questions…

1. What is your favorite color? Green
2. What is your favorite toy? A ball
3. What is your favorite fruit? Mandarin oranges
4. What is your favorite tv show? Ice Age (which is a movie, but it is currently her favorite thing to watch)
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Peanut butter sandwich
6. What is your favorite outfit? This outfit (which happens to be her cupcake shirt and polka-dotted leggings)
7. What is your favorite game? Hide and seek (“But we don’t peak or tell them where to find us.”)
8. What is your favorite snack? Candy, especially M&M’s (which we just used to decorate the cookie cakes…coincidence??)
9. What is your favorite animal? Dinosaur, especially a Pterodactyl
10. What is your favorite song? A lullabye
11. What is your favorite book? Books about dinosaurs
12. Who is your best friend? Caley
13. What is your favorite cereal? Berry Crunch (which Riley picked out at Kroger’s this past week)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Swing (“I push myself.  I push myself.”)
15. What is your favorite drink? Ice lemonade
16. What is your favorite holiday? (“Birthday?  Butt butt?”)  St. Patrick’s Day (“You mean the one we wear green?”)
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? My blankie
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cereal
19. What is your favorite dinner? Chicken nuggets 
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? An artist

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There you have it!  I can’t believe I am a day away from having a four-year-old.  Riley amazes me more and more – with her generosity, her creativity, her thoughtfulness, her energy, and her compassion.  She spoils me.

And can I just say: I can’t believe I’ve been a parent for four years.  Now it’s time to get some schoolwork done so I can enjoy a birthday/family/Easter weekend.