A Really Useful Party

August 10th, 2014 10:01 PM GMT+5

Last Monday was kiddo’s third birthday, so we had her party on Saturday, August 2nd.

For the past two years, I’ve busted my bootie trying to put together the perfect party elements.  I spent weeks scouring various sites and stores looking for the right decorations.  As guests would arrive, I’d be scurrying about trying to do 500 last-minute things.  It was exhausting.

This year was totally different.  Having a theme like Thomas the Train made everything so much easier.  I stocked up on Thomas goodies at Party City and bought her a Thomas dress via etsy (because stores with Thomaswear don’t offer girl selections grrrrr).

Normally, the food is a big ordeal.  Instead of ordering food from a handful of places while still making dishes of my own, I kept it super simple.  Save the cupcakes, I got all the snacks at HEB (hummus, guacamole, cheese, fruit).  Rather than using my white servware platters, I put everything in aluminum tins made to look like train cars.   I spent far more time printing out the DIY cupcake toppers than I did putting out the food (damn you, printer jams!)

This was the first party ever that I was completely done before all the guests arrived.  It was Calgontastic.  Everything was in place.  Well, except for the serving spoons I forgot to put out until the shindig was almost over… oops.   And then there was the cute little sign I put on the water dispenser with arrows indicating how to turn the spout on and off.  Yeah, only I reversed them.  Special, huh?  But, eh, it was still good times.

We loved watching Em play about with her friends and cousins.  At her past two parties, our little introvert has stayed fairly quiet, observing the activity around her.  This year, she was an active participant.  I have to give her major kudos for being such a trooper.  After watching Dan and I prep for the party all morning, she awoke from nap to find a display of cupcakes she couldn’t eat followed by a houseful of kiddos playing with her stuff.  I expected meltdowns o’ rama and dreaded bedtime.

But she was fabulous.  And though it took an hour for her to fall asleep that night, she spent the entire time clapping and singing.

Lesson learned.  K.I.S.S.

The Post Before It’s August Already

July 30th, 2014 10:51 PM GMT+5

July: a month in bullet points!

  • Planning 20th 10th high school class reunion with two friends.  It’s been challenging at times, but we’re a good team!
  • Assembling Em’s room.   We just need to paint the dresser, install the chandelier, assemble the dollhouse bookcase, paint and install bookshelves and affix the wall decals.  That’s all. ;)
  • Working. Working.  And more working.  Especially on piddly projects that take way too much time and effort.
  • Getting ready for Em’s 3rd birthday party this weekend, but that’ll get it’s own post.

The other day, Dan was getting stoked over the holiday season.  It sounded odd, because it seems so far off.  But it really isn’t.

I’ll probably get around to posting Em’s party wrap-up just about then. ;)

Caught on Tape

June 29th, 2014 8:40 PM GMT+5

This week, I decided to lay out Em’s room using painter’s tape.  This would be the last step before buying everything.  I’m so glad I did it, because it made me realize one particular thing…

Everything was wrong.

The scale was completely off.  With her room being on the small side, I saw just how large and blocky IKEA furniture would be.   I decided to nix the Kallax, opting for a dollhouse bookcase.  Pottery Barn Kids discontinued my dream model, but Land of Nod and Target have comparable ones.  I’m even toying with the idea of building my own.


I was ready to scrap the 6-drawer Tarva Dresser for a 3-drawer, but Dan thinks that would be a mistake.  The more I think about it, the more I’m leaning towards my initial decision.  Second-guessing is kind of an issue of mine.   As you think “No! Really!?! You!?!”

Assembling a girl’s toddler room is more difficult than I assumed.  The challenge rests in planning a threenager-prooffriendly room that can grow with her in a relatively short period of time.  For example, I’m planning around a crib now, but the room layout will need to accommodate a twin bed in 1-2 years without having to move everything around.

But I’m not going to think about it for the next few days.  I’ll place my Pottery Barn Kids order for the drapes and chandelier before my coupon expires Tuesday; I’ll order the Tarva and buy the paint before Sherwin-Williams paint sale ends next Sunday; and I’ll stalk the furniture dude who’s supposed to refinish my grandmother’s old telephone table.  The other stuff?  I’m just going to wait for the Mercury Retrograde fog to lift.

And if that doesn’t work, I’m calling in professionals.

I wonder what size straight jacket I wear…


Daddy Day

June 15th, 2014 9:38 PM GMT+5

Dan’s been knee-deep in work, spending every night this past week and all weekend in his office.  So when Em awoke around 2:00am, I gladly took on our gentle “Go the F*ck to Sleep” routine (put on blankets, flip on crib aquarium, sing “Dream of Me & You” from music class and get the hell outta dodge, crossing fingers she doesn’t need a return trip).

And when she awoke at 6:00am, I jumped up to get her and start our special Daddy Day breakfast prep.   Instead of our regular Sunday morning trip to Grandpa and Annie’s, I made plans to bring breakfast for Dan’s parents and his brother visiting from Austin.

I’d started the night before, making the Bananas Foster Overnight French Toast and chopping the Best Breakfast Potatoes Ever components.  I was kinda worried that Em would make the morning preparations challenging, but she was a fabulous trooper!  She patiently played with her magnetic alphabet letters while I assembled a fruit salad and mixed the spicy potato goodness.   It didn’t take too long, so we had ample time to watch and sing along to toddler nursery rhyme videos on YouTube.   She also “helped” me assemble a photo collage for uploading to Facebook. (“How about this one, Charlie? (her Thomas the Train name of the day) “Yeah, that’s good. Do that one.”) :D

When Dan came downstairs, she jokingly shouted “Happy Mother’s Day!” before running to him and greeting him properly.  I’d practiced “Happy Daddy’s Day,” so she kind of impressed me with “Happy Father’s Day!”  I took a quick shower, got ready and dressed kiddo while the French Toast and Potatoes cooked simultaneously.  Everything was piping hot as we drove to G&A’s house.   I unpacked the food (big up to Crate&Barrel’s awesome oven-to-table Everyday Bakers), whipped up the French Toast sauce and we all sat down to eat, even Emme!

Breakfast was a surprising hit with few leftovers!   I’m my own worst critic when it comes to cooking.  I always preface a new meal cooked for friends and family with with “If it’s gross, you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t eat it.  We can always order pizza!”   Seeing empty serveware was a relief.

When we came home, Em’s disappointingly short nap resulted in a Mommy-Emme grocery store run.   I needed buns for the Mango Pulled Pork I had braising, and she needed some kiddo-lobster conversation.  She asked about their day.  They waved their banded arms and swam about.  Translation: “Ya know, the ‘uge…just chillin’.”

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing tantrum control as my overtired toddler tripped, fell and knocked into various objects, causing her much embarrassment and total devastation.  Some afternoon sidewalk chalking with Daddy provided a temporary respite.  She went to bed early a happy camper.

At last check, our Facebook collage has 40 Likes and some great comments about what a fantastic father he is.  And as much as I know he appreciates the kudos, I’m pretty sure there’s one particular like that matters most.

She’s not on Facebook just yet, but she’d definitely give him a big thumbs up.

Let Me See What You’re Workin’ With

June 14th, 2014 7:05 PM GMT+5

I am a visual person.  I’m that girl who has to move the couch around five times before knowing where I want it.

To avoid the hassle of buying and returning things that may not work for Em’s toddler room, I drew a scale model using Illustrator.  This raised several unexpected questions:

  • Should I place her bed facing the door, even though that’s the death position in Feng Shui?  Sure, Em knows nothing about Feng Shui.  But her paranoid, superstitious mom does.  Bed will face another direction.

  • Dresser: 3 or 6 drawers?  I hadn’t even entertained a 6-drawer dresser until I re-read this Young House Love post.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized we’d make great use of the extra drawers.

  • Desk or Table?  I wanted to get her a desk, but I really enjoy sitting with her while coloring/reading.  I briefly considered getting her a small vanity, but paranoid premonitions of fostering self-image issues helped me nix that idea fairly quickly.

  • Round or Rectangle Table?  I really like the look of a 29″ round table, but I think the smaller 29″ x 19″ rectangular Sundvik table will work better.  We already have one in our living room, so I’ll hold off buying a second one until everything’s in the room.  Once that happens, I may sneak a round back in.

Five hundred gazillion mom hours and second guesses later, I think I’ve found the most optimal configuration, complete with sleep, dressing and play zones as well as a cozy reading corner:

Of course, it’s Mercury Retrograde, so I could easily toss this out once I purchase everything this week.

Next weekend, I paint the walls.  I haven’t painted a room in a LONG time.  Please wish me lots of luck.

And feel free to bring me margaritas. ;)