M & J Monday

How do I love you?
Let me count the ways.
I love you as the sun
loves the bright blue days.
 I love you as the bee
loves a fragrant flower.
 I love you as the thirsty duck
loves a sudden shower.
 I love you as the bird
loves a song to sing.
I love you as the walking bear
loves the smell of spring.
I love you as the cat 
loves a sunny sill.
And as the dancing snowflakes
love the winter's chill.
How do I love you?
Let me tell you how.
I love you as the nest
loves the sturdy bough.
I love you as the sea
loves the sandy shore.
And as the ancient world
loved the dinosaur.
I love you as the wind
loves its own sweet sound.
 And as our friendly Earth
loves to spin around.
I love you as the moon
loves each shining star.
I love all that you will be
and everything you are.
How Do I Love You
~Marion Dane Bauer
Happy Monday!


First Day of Pre-K

This morning we put on our new school threads, took time to style the hair ("special spray" included), packed a lunch, and headed back to school!
Before school started I asked Marcus a few questions:
What's your favorite color: Red.
What's your favorite food: Mac and cheese.
What's your favorite thing to do: Ride bikes.
Who is your best friend: Alex.
What do you want to be when you grow up: A fireman, and after I'm done with that I want to catch bad guys with my daddy.
It's amazing how much a year can change us. Last year at this time I was a bubbling, emotional mess (I'm sure the newly acquired postpartum hormones had nothing to do with it...). This year? This year we dropped Marcus off and I was all, "Have the best day ever! See you soon!" And out I walked with not a tear shed.

Just for fun, a look back at his First Day of Preschool, 2015.
He looks so little!
It goes so fast!

To my little man, Happy First Day of School! 
I hope you have the best year ever!


M & J Monday

I love you through and through.
I love your top side, I love your bottom side.
I love your inside and your outside.
I love your happy side, your sad side, your silly side, your mad side.
I love your fingers and toes, your ears and nose.
I love your hair and eyes, your giggles and cries.
I love you running, and walking, silent and talking.
I love you through and through...
yesterday, today, and tomorrow, too. 
I Love You Through and Through
~Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak
Happy Monday!


The End of Summer Edition

Our summer days are melting away faster than a Popsicle left out in the sun. School starts in four days and we are trying to pack in as much fun as we can before it's back to the grind. This week we were constantly on the go, seeing and doing. Our mornings were filled with adventures, our afternoons filled with naps, and our evenings were spent at the pool. Isn't summer the best? I'm so sad it's coming to an end.

The highlights!

Marcus and I managed to slip away one Friday afternoon and hit up what I think is possibly one of the neatest children's exhibits in all of Los Angeles - Noah's Ark at the Skirball Center.
This giraffe was easily an entire story tall. Kids could crank a wheel and make it's neck and head turn.
So many parts of the exhibit were movable: the giraffe on the left side of the picture moved up and down and side to side with two different wheels. That gap in the ark? Kids could patch it up with puzzle like pieces. See that spider in the middle of the photo? It moved up and down with a pulley. These types of animals and features were all over! I didn't even capture a fraction of it all.
The photos simply do not do this place justice. EVERYTHING is hands on. Each animal is made from recycled items - see the owls? The wings are fans, the body is a coil of some sort, and the tail feathers are darts! Every animal in the place was constructed like this. It was mind blowing.
The Skirball Center currently has a baseball exhibit on display, so we took advantage of some of that as well.
We had the best day, just the two of us. Our one-on-one time was so good for us both. I wish we could carve out more time for little dates like this.

Places where I can take the kids and let them touch and try and learn (even though they don't really know they're learning) are easily among my favorite places to venture. The California Science Center has quickly become one of our choice places to explore.
I about died when Marcus insisted that he needed to wear a lifejacket on the boat where he was 'fishing.'
Julia loved cruising around the place while Marcus tried everything he could get his hands on.
Marcus had no idea what this cell exhibit was all about, but he went back to it no less than three different times.
Girl friend thought spinning that red tube was about the greatest thing since applesauce pouches.
Bonus points: the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum being just steps from the Science Center.

Because we have no choice but to drive through downtown traffic to get to Kidspacewe don't go as often as I'd like. But, the place is out of the world. There are so many outdoor activities, indoor activities, and a stream where kids can splash and play.
I wish I would have snagged a few more photos of all the amazing things this place has to offer. I guess we were just too busy having fun to bother with a camera!
More bonus points: Kidspace is located just across the street from the Rose Bowl.

The Beach
We met up with some friends this week for a little (or in Julia's case, a LOT of) sand, salt, and sea.
So many holes were dug and waves were jumped by the boys. Julia just wanted in on all the action, too.
Julia also thought the sand was a perfectly acceptable snack all morning long.
Did I mention our afternoons have been filled with naps... From both kids? It's been magnificent.

This weekend looks to be low-key, which I don't mind one bit. Next week we start Pre-K, and I think a mellow weekend is just what we all need before returning to the bustle of our regularly scheduled programming.

Have a great weekend!


Julia's First Flamingle

Though Julia's actual birthday was August 7 we waited until this past weekend to full on celebrate her first year. 

Just over two months ago I was slightly stressed as I had no idea what theme would be acceptable for a little lady's first bash. Thankfully, I have some amazing friends who came to the rescue, and the idea of a First Flamingle was quickly born. 

Once decided I took to scouring Pinterest and Etsy for ideas. 

A few weeks worth of prep, a lot of hot glue, several hours spent baking and decorating sugar cookies and cupcakes, and plenty of late nights, led us all up to the big day. 

Party time came and we were joined by several of our closest family and friends. While I know Julia won't remember her day I hope she can look back fondly on these photos and know that it was truly a fun day, and she was surrounded by so many who love her dearly. 
Pardon the horrendous lighting. Trying to snap good photos at 10am was near impossible.
I couldn't handle the brown of the the pool cabana, so I hung up a few white sheets and added hanging fans.
Both the Happy Birthday and Let's Flamingle banners I made simply using construction paper and bakers twine.
I didn't want to do too much on the tables, as I was positive they would get wet - because, pool party.
A quick coat of gold spray paint to pineapples and the table center pieces were done.
I couldn't leave the ledge around the kitchen area bare.
We were gifted the JULIA letters from my friend, Kourtney, whose little girl is also named Julia. Kourtney also sent so many other birthday decorating items to use, including all the paper I used to make the banners.
The tassel garland was made using tissue paper and bakers twine.
The cabana from afar, complete with Marcus and one big flamingo pool float.
Guests were greeted at the pool gate with a small flock of flamingos. Naturally.
My friend Sarah, from Gilded Feather Events, was so kind to let me borrow the large pink and gold flamingos.
The food table was kept fairly simple. A couple of photos of Julia from her cake smash session, a spray painted pineapple, a few rubber duck flamingos, mason jars spray painted pink, and a picture garland of Julia from each month of the last year.
The lighting makes me want to cry.
Thankfully, guests didn't care about lighting and the cookies were a smashing success.
I used THIS RECIPE for the cookies and THIS RECIPE for the icing and decorating techniques.
These cupcakes turned out so much better than I could have hoped!
I used THIS RECIPE for the cupcakes and THIS RECIPE for the marshmallow filling and frosting.
The flamingo and pineapple toppers came from THIS ETSY shop.
The gold number 1 came from THIS ETSY shop.
The lady of the hour in possibly the best swim suit of all time.
The tassel garland was made with direction from THIS TUTORIAL.
The "one" banner was made from construction paper and bakers twine.
My mother-in-law frosted the cake, and we used the same cupcake and frosting recipes.
The ONE cake banner came from THIS ETSY shop.
Julia did not disappoint and helped herself to a generous portion of frosting.
Our parting bags were simply gold bags secured with flamingo washie tape. Guests took home flamingo beach balls, flamingo bubbles, a flamingo sugar cookie, and flamingo headbands.
Julia with Grandpa and Grandma Dudding (on the left) and Grandpa and Grandma Macke (on the right).
The best part about pool parties? No worries about hair, make up, or what to wear!
Scrolling through our photos, I wish I would have thought to snap more photos of all our guests as they flamingled their way through the party, and I am so bummed I didn't think to get a photo of Julia and Marcus, or of the four of us. However, the party turned out so much better than I could have wished, and even though I came up short of a few photos I hope everyone - birthday girl especially - had a great time.

I have to take a minute to give a serious shout out to my family. Without the help of Scott, my mom, mother-in-law, dad, father-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law, I'm certain my ideas wouldn't have fully come to fruition. To them I give the biggest thank you. 
stuffed flamingo
Here's to start the of planning for birthday number 2!