Posts Tagged ‘Birthday’

November 25, 2017

The Big Wonderful Three

Who’s turning three? This girl!

I still can’t believe this sweet, beautiful girl, who gives giant kisses and takes any excuse for a hug has been a part of our family for three years already!

We celebrated Alexis’ birthday the weekend after Thanksgiving with family still in town. It’s amazing what the kids remember year to year. Alexis has been talking about her “Princess cake” she was going to get on her birthday for a couple of weeks now (even though, like years past, neither kid cared to eat it!). But it didn’t dawn on her that she was going to get presents until Nicole pointed it out to her the night before her party. She also appeared to forget about the big foil balloon. It may not have been important to her last year, but this year she was all about the big balloon.

We were super proud of our three year old who choose the occasion to show off what a big girl she was. Both Domingo and I were surprised she willingly napped before the party. Some of the party guests arrived as lunch was finishing up, just before nap time. Six months ago there would have been tears and protests as she was carried upstairs for nap just after guests arrived. Today she happily greeted them with a hug before telling them it was nap time and her party would start after nap. My big girl also impressed everyone with her sharing ability. She received both a Rapunzel and Ariel barbie dolls, and handed the Ariel doll to Nicole while it was still in the box so the two could play together. She also received Shimmer and Shine bracelets that play songs from the cartoon. Rather than wear one on each wrist as intended, she gave one to Nicole so they could each wear one.

It was an amazing day. I just wish I was able to get better pictures of the birthday girl. Alexis also enjoys “teasing” mommy when Mommy has her camera. It started last summer. If you asked her to say smile for the camera, she’d gladly comply, but facing whatever direction she was facing. If the back of her head was towards the camera, she’d say “Cheese!” without turning to look at you. Back then it was because she didn’t understand, now it’s become a bit of a game. So there was a lot of smiling while looking to the person to the left or right of me. Normally I can catch her off when her gaze shifts to me momentarily, but this time I had the added issues of still getting used to the settings on my new camera and the controls aren’t second nature yet. I forgot how to change the focal point, so I’m relying on Auto-focus which sometimes doesn’t do what I want. At least I did manage a couple really cute ones, and sometimes looking off camera adds to the photo.

I’m so proud of my girls and how big they’re getting.

July 10, 2017

The Big 5

My baby is growing up way to fast! It feels like she was born just a few weeks ago, how in the world is she five already?!

Our birthday balloon photos on the party day are quickly become my favorite birthday tradition. Fortunately this kid is still happy to obliged by crazy momtographer tendencies. Put on a party dress for photos? Sure. Do it again with a different pair of sunglasses? No problem! She even enjoys coming up with her own poses.

Yesterday we had a small party for family with a helium balloons and princess cake. As always, the cake was a bit of a swing and a miss. Both kids enjoyed looking at the cake and were excited for a piece, but both kids also only picked at their piece before asking to get down from the table, or requested goldfish and pretzels to eat instead. Both kids will eat angle cake well, but they just don’t get excited for it the way they do the character cakes which makes me reluctant to serve it on their birthdays. Ah well, birthday dilemma.

Afterward the family party we went to a restaurant where Nicole got a special birthday dessert. She was so excited for her birthday restaurant and birthday desert that she told both the hostess who sat us and our sever (several times) that it was her birthday. On the way out the hostess remembered us and wished Nicole a happy birthday for the second time. She loves her birthday attention.

The kid party will be next weekend. We’re having a low key art party. I bought a whole bunch of art supplies: canvas, sun catchers, beads and the like. I haven’t gotten many RSVPs yet, but Nicole’s closest friends did RSVP in the affirmative. Nicole will be super happy, even if they’re the only ones that are able to make it. Since neither Alexis nor Nicole are really big on frosting, we’re considering getting an ice cream cake for her kid party.

Nicole is bringing in frosted cookies for school tomorrow. I learned my lesson last year about bringing homemade stuff. We set some aside some cookies for Alexis, just in case she isn’t able to join Nicole’s class for treat time. (Their school usually lets them visit each other’s classrooms when we bring in a treat, but you never know what will actually happen the day of.)

All in all I think this birthday is a little more low-key than last one, but no less fun. The addition of a restaurant dinner was a big heat, and she’s really looking forward to the planned activities at her kids’ party.

November 27, 2016

Happy Birthday, Alexis!

In what I’m sure will be our yearly tradition, we celebrated Alexis’ birthday with Family the weekend after Thanksgiving. I cannot believe how fast time is flying.


This was the first year of including Alexis’ in our giant number foil balloon tradition. Nicole was very excited for the foil balloon, and wanted to be the one to give it to Alexis when she awoke in the morning. Alexis ended up rather indifferent to it, preferring the small latex helium balloons, but she was willing to pose for a few photos with it. That worked out well for Nicole who not so secretly wanted a turn with the balloon.

For the party itself we opted for the simple approach: balloons, cake and family. I’m all about the easy peasy at 2nd birthdays, apparently.

We made the mistake of opening presents first. Present #2, Scout was followed by #3, a giant cookie monster stuffed animal. Her arms were full and she was not giving up either for anything. Not even temporary so she could open more presents. We ended up setting the remaining presents aside for another day, much to big sister’s chagrin.

Alexis blew out the candle with help from big sister. She declined of piece of cake, however, pulling her bib off and hoping out of the chair before the first piece was cut. Somehow she managed to escape inheriting my sweet tooth, and there were new toys to be played with. I tell Domingo this after every party, but we really need to look into getting the girls angle cake or pound cake. Neither is a fan of frosting.

The party ended with our second “great balloon release” (released inside in the stairwell). The balloon release was a huge hit on Nicole’s birthday, and likely the girls’ favorite part of Alexis’ birthday. The each took turns cutting the strings on the helium balloons and sending them up to the ceiling.

And, in case anyone is under the mistaken impression my kids are always cooperators, I present our funniest out take. Our little goof.


July 10, 2016


Someone is having a good birthday party, day? week? fortnight?!

Four Ta-da!

When each of the girls was born near a major US holiday (Independence day for Nicki, Thanksgiving for Alexis) I was stoked. Having a birthday near a major holiday meant having an extended weekend for the party. Our family is spread out over both costs, so an extra travel day is most definitely an asset. It turns out having a birthday near a major holiday tends to draw out the festivities.

The birthday celebration started off with a school party on the 1st. Grandma and Grandpa were flying in on the 2nd. We like to keep the girls out of school for the week Grandma and Grandpa visit to maximize everyone’s time together. That meant cupcake day at school would have to be the 1st.

Who forgot about the school’s no home good policy? This girl! After making two dozen cupcake ice cream cones, fashioning an ice cream cone holder out of an amazon prime shipping box and some how managing to get them all to school relatively in tact I learned the kids would not be able to eat them. There are a couple kids with food allergies in Nicole’s class and even though the cupcakes didn’t have any nuts, the school didn’t want to take chances. I can understand that, it’s their liability after all. Thankfully there was a shop that sold cupcakes near by. When parents arrived at the end of the day they had the option give their child one of the home made cupcakes, so most of the kids got two different cupcakes.

That’s not the only thing we had double of do to a Mommy Mistake. Who ordered the wrong sized bike? This girl! I ordered Nicole a 12 inch balance bike. I thought it might be a little small, but doable since she’s on the shorter side. No dice, and now that it was put together I couldn’t return it. Domingo and I made a quick trip to Target where the only bike in her size was a frozen bike with optional sleigh doll carrier. Nicole was most definitely not disappointment about that.

On Saturday, when most of her friends had returned from their holiday travels, we had our first ever birthday party with just friends. That’s two sets of cupcakes at school, two bikes (now one for Alexis) and two parties, stretched out over two weeks. Fourpalooza for sure.

Since this was our first year having a birthday party with friends from school we had a few lesson learns:

– Write your own invitations. Computer printing is far more legible than my chicken scratch, and we can easily create the number we need. The invitations we bought came in an 8 pack which was inconvenient given there were 17 kids invited, and didn’t have enough space to write “siblings welcomed.”

– Buy Cupcakes/Cakes. Seriously, when will I learn? Our local grocery store charges the same price for the customized cakes as they do for the generic cakes in the bakery refrigerator, and they’re good, really really good.

– Do not fear Chucky Cheese. I dreaded our friend party. I remembered Chucky cheese as loud, with obnoxious
animations, but it’s really improved since I was a kid. We were assigned a party coordinator who was fantastic. Speaking of which, I need to go call them and let them know what a wonderful job our party coordinator did!

While planning Alexis’ second birthday party I decided to keep all the elements from Nicole’s first birthday party that were kid favorites (the balloon forest!) and ditch the ones they didn’t care about that just added more stress (decorations.) I even “outsourced” the baking to our local grocery store.


Both the girls birthday’s fall around major holidays – July 4th for Nicole, Thanksgiving for Alexis. A birthday around a major family oriented holiday, and with another one around the corner!, can create a few minor kinks I didn’t anticipate.

The obvious benefit of having a birthday around Thanksgiving is that family is usually still in town that weekend. I suspect that we’ll always celebrate Alexis’ birthday the Saturday after Thanksgiving for this reason. The draw back is that everyone else’s family is also still in town. We figured we’d get a couple food platters at the grocery store while picking up Alexis’ cakes for the adults to snack on. When we arrived at the grocery store they were completely out all prepared food platters, and a long line had already formed waiting for the next batch. We briefly considered waiting, but when they announced the next batch consisted of only nine platters and the gentlemen at the front of the line requested 3 we decided against it. It’s a good thing I had pre ordered the cakes, or we would have really been in a pickle!

The other issue was the party supplies. I went to Party City first, but the per-unit price of Helium tanks had increased $20! Since I needed three that meant an additional $60! They were also nearly completely out of the pearlized balloons that I liked so much. Thankfully I bought too many balloons last time around and still had some on hand. I shopped around locally for a deal for those tanks.

Not to self, plan ahead next time.


I unintentionally made the balloon forest a little higher this time around. I think I also had more trees, but each tree had fewer balloons. It ended up being the perfect height for Nicole to run through, and for Alexis to crawl under. Both kids had a blast. You can’t really go wrong when it comes to kids and a ton of helium balloons.



July 5, 2015

We Be Three

And just like that another year has passed.

I can’t believe how fast time is flying, or how big my little girl is getting.

This year we thought it would be fun to kick off her birthday party with a big surprised. She loves balloons, so what better way to celebrate the big ‘3’ than waking up with a 3 foot high helium balloon? Before going to sleep ourselves, we snuck the giant balloon into her room. Wouldn’t you know it was the first night in weeks she woke up to go potty in the middle of the night? She spotted the balloon instantly and was so excited I was afraid she’d never go back to sleep. She kept talking about the balloon that ‘Santa’ brought. We decided to just go with it. Santa brings birthday balloons now, don’t you know?

So much has changed these past couple of months. New home, new daycare, new classroom, new routines. Nicole missed her old daycare (and told us so!) but is adjusting to the new one well. They have a ton of activities, and bouncy castles. We’ve been here about a month and they’ve already bounced in an inflatable bouncy castle twice. I’m not planning on switching daycares any time soon, but if I were, bouncy castles are clearly a new requirement.

My most precious memory of this age is the way she expresses herself. For the longest time ‘Sure’ was her affirmative response to yes/no questions. “Would you like a cupcake?” Sure, she’d say with a slight head nod as though her answer was anything less than an emphatic yes. These days ‘little bit’ is her new yes. As in “Are you the cutest thing ever?” Little bit. Little bit, indeed.

July 6, 2014


It has not been two years. I refuse to believe.

Happy Birthday Nicole

Yesterday was Nicki’s birthday party. It was a pretty low key affair, a few relatives, balloons, a dinner out, and a birthday cake. The initial plan was to go to the park in the morning, and Domingo and I would setup for the party while she napped. We’d open presents and go to an old fashioned dinner across the street for dinner (a place Nicki loves), then have cake.

Instead I ended up with a migraine. We (well, mostly Nicole) boogied to sesame street videos in the morning since I did not have the energy to make it off the couch. We both napped, leaving Domingo – super dad! – to get ready for the party. I was hoping to nap longer but Lily – who is not my favorite feline right now – felt the need to dig me out of the covers a half hour or so after finally falling asleep. By then even if I was able to fall asleep again quickly, it wouldn’t be a quality nap, so I decided to try and make do without. I didn’t want to cancel Nicki’s birthday party. I was already feeling guilty it wouldn’t measure up to last year’s. Besides, there was no guarantee I’d be feeling better if we did reschedule.

As miserable as I was Nicki had a blast, and that’s the important thing. She had grand time chasing the balloons, adored spending time with the family, loved the restaurant and devoured her cake. She even blew out the candle all by herself! Since she was having so much fun with her grandparents we let her stay up a bit past her bedtime. Once she was asleep, I made a bee line for my own bed. Thirteen hours in bed later and I was finally doing better.


The theme for Nicki’s first birthday party basically materialized out of thin air the day before her party.

I stated planning this party before she was born. I found these colorful pinwheel cookies on pinterest that looked like something from a book of Seuss. I loved the Seuss growing up, and I figured we would be reading Seuess daily, so I wanted to make Dr. Seuss my pary theme. My imagined first birthday party for Nicole was going to be colorful with a sense of whimsy. I was going to bake those cookies onto a lollipop stick.

But Alas, pinterest failed me. All the Seuss parties inspiration ideas I found were based on “The Cat and the Hat”, or “Green Eggs and Ham”, my two least favorite Seuss books. There was a dearth of other ideas. Adding insult to injury, a few months ago I discovered the Llamma Llama Books, which I loved even more the Seuss. I was quickly becoming disenchanted with the Seuss theme, so I started thinking of the party as Dr. Seuss Inspired, rather than Dr. Seuss Themed.


At first I wasn’t going to do invitations. We invited 4 sets of family members, three which had to fly if they were going to attend so I coordinated the party date with everyone months in advance via email. There is no need for invitations when all pertinent party details had already been shared.

But that’s when I had discovered custom printed balloons. Nicki loves balloons. She spied the birthday balloon Domingo bought for me before I did it, and commandeered it. I had to have custom printed balloons. It was a compulsion. The custom printed balloons were from Balloons Tomorrow and set me back $75. (Splurge #1)


I figured the best way to incorporate the balloons would be on the invitations. Of course this meant I had to design the card to affix the balloon too. The Seuss invitations on pinterest were not my style, and I couldn’t come up with anything, so I decided to go off theme. My first instinct was to do a marbled border for the invitation, but my graphics program didn’t have the right texture. I settled for “smoke” texture but something was still missing. I started playing around with “tubes” and found yellow bubbles against a purple “smoke” background really popped. It’s rare for me to be comfortable pairing multiple colors. Normally I pick one hue and vary the shades. Since the yellow bubbles seem to fit so well, and Nicki loves bubbles as well as balloons, it just seemed meant to be. I used the left over card stock to print my invitations. (I am totally getting my money’s worth out of that card stock!)

Picture of the invitation coming. I apparently forgot to take one.


One of my favorite Dr. Seuss books is The Lorax, so I loved the idea of creating an enchanted forest. Once again I turned to balloons. The idea was to create a “balloon forest”. Domingo would later refer to it as a “balloon fog”, since it was toddler height at 2.5 feet tall per “tree”.



We used up all three large tanks of helium, but only 100 of the 300 balloons I ordered. There were 16 balloon trees, each tree was tied to an organza bag filled with marbles. I triple tied the bags since marbles are chocking hazards. Truth be told, so are balloons. I wasn’t too worried, Nicki was the only one there under 25 and there were always multiple pairs of eyes on the birthday girl.

The final cost for the balloon forest was $198 after a 20% off coupon. (Splurge #2) I do feel a touch guilty about this purchase being so over-the-top, but Nicki loved the balloons and I could not find cheaper helium. And really, how often does your baby turn 1? Judge away if you must.

Of course the balloon forest would never work in our home, so we needed to find a venue. (That sounds so fancy, doesn’t it? The “Venue” was just the club house at our complex. The cost to rent it was just $35, and we were responsible for cleaning it afterwards.) I don’t think I can count the venue as a splurge. We had 9 adults and Nicki attending the party, and it would have been a tight fit in our living room, even without all those balloons.’

The “Venue”

Putting the extra balloons to good use.

It just so happened I had snapped a monthly photo for Nicki lying on different colored sheets. I had intended to them to make a Happy Birthday Banner, but the venue didn’t have a convenient place to hang a banner. All the windows were too narrow, and the only bare wall was the brick fireplace. I ended up taping her monthly photos to the windows.

I admit this is totally neurotic of me, but I didn’t want rectangular photos. Where’s the whimsy in that? I settled on circles because they’re relatively easy to cut out and different enough. My originally plan was too have numbers printed out on card stock and overlapped on top of the photos, but they ended up being ridiculously hard to cut out neatly, so I cut them out as a circles as well.

Sample age bubbles for 10 and 11 months.


I never made the pinwheel cookies. Truth be told I forgot about them, which is probably a good thing because we had (Splurge #3)

For the adults we standard party snack fair for us – one cheese, one fruit and one veggie platter. Before Nicki was born I built a bit of a reputation as a dessert guru in the family even though I mostly do easy stuff. I haven’t had the chance to really bake since then, so I over indulged my inner domestic diva wannabe. We had ice cream cone cupcakes, rise krispie and fruity pebbles treats, and multicolored chocolate cake balls.



My sister and mom ended up making the cake balls. Yummy.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a first birthday party without a smash cake. I wanted a smaller cake (we had already done a smash cake) so I purchased a $8 4-inch cake pan off Amazon. I decided to use this number idea. (Since the softer, albeit bigger sprinkles were not a problem on our previous smash cake, I felt safe trying these smaller ones.) Unfortunately I must have forgot to grease the pan and the top of the cake popped off when trying to remove it from said pan. I was so annoyed at myself. At that point I had made 4 cakes (the vanilla ice cream cakes, 2 chocolate cakes for the cake balls, and the ruined smash cake) for a party serving just 10 guests. My mom convinced me to use icing to glue the two pieces of the cake back together and move on. Trouble was, I could no longer level off the top. The cake was just too fragile. I was forced to keep the doom shape.


After icing it I realized it looked like a giant (4-inch) round bubble. That’s when it dawned on me that the invitations had bubbles, and the monthly photos were round like bubbles. I had a theme to her party after all!

Total cost of the party: $316 (plus the cost of food, which I forgot to keep the receipts)

The Birthday Girl Loved It

Catch me if you can!

I’m surrounded!

Inspecting the tree tops.


Yup, Good Party.

I totally failed in my momtographer duties. I did a good job with the still objects, but photographing a one year old in a balloon forest is like trying to capture photographic evidence of big foot. I had so many blurry, obscured photos, it’s ridiculous. I have a photo where the only thing you see of Nicole is her hair ribbon, and another where you can tell she’s smiling but the top half of her face is obscured by balloons. Every single photo has at least some motion blur. This was the best I was able to capture. Daddy did much better with the video camera. Next time higher ISO. Much higher ISO.