Sunday, July 31, 2011

10 Johnson Street

We just returned from just about THE. BEST. VACATION. EVER, renting a house (at the above address) on Cape Cod with our best friends and their 4 children. We rented the very same house with them 7 years ago when their #4 was just a few months old. We took a group picture on the front porch on our last day together back then, so we decided to recreate the same picture now, 7 years later.



So much has changed - I had bangs! No, just kidding - this time we got to bring our baby boy. It was an absolutely wonderful trip and I have so much to share!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Just Bee Yourself

Two months ago our dear friends Mallory and David welcomed their 2nd baby girl. And I dropped the ball getting her quilt ready in time. Excuses, excuses, but it finally got done and hand delivered in a uniquely wonderful way - we were all on vacation on Cape Cod at the same time so were able to meet up at their family's home.

Jacqueline's "icon" is a bumblebee and her nursery is decorated with yellow and black bedding and green paint. A challenge, I thought at first. But in the end, as always, L.O.V.E! I decided long ago that I wanted to do an entirely "flying geese" quilt, and I'm pretty much addicted to the scrappy look. It turned out to be a very modern and very graphic quilt. Very me, in fact. A significant departure from my usual style, but tastes evolve, I guess.



Just to compare the style of Jackie's older sister Cella's quilt, just 2 years ago. Very traditional, very "pastelly:"


My new standard, the pieced backing. It's just as much a part of the planning as the front.




Jackie seemed happy with her new snuggly (Once she finally woke up. The girl is a good sleeper!).



Welcome, Jackie!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bake and Blog

Here's the deal: even though I'd love to, we're on vacation so blogging just has to temporarily be on hiatus. I'm supposed to be relaxing and having fun, right? There are always way too many new pictures and activities to post that it's best to wait til the end. So here's something saved up.

It thrills me that Joseph loves to be in the kitchen with me. He even helped me bake the cupcakes for his birthday party.


But then he realized he didn't get to eat them right away. Tough for an almost 4 year old :(


But in an interesting twist he asked me for his camera so he could take pictures of them. Future bloggers unite!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The best presents!


Joseph's birthday party was on Saturday but we still we still had to celebrate on his actual birthday, which was Monday. We just so happened to have an entire untouched birthday cake left over from the party. Did I make too many cupcakes and cookies? Every year we bring out the special birthday plate that our good friends, the Chernack's, gave Joseph for his 1st birthday. One of the greatest gifts ever! Poor Buddy did not stand a chance. For days Joe Joe would say "I want to eat Buddy!" His little head was history quite quickly.



Joseph got so many great presents! Amazing how many different dinosaur themed presents there are out there, and not a single one was repeated! We went the simple route and did tons of dinosaur books.


Ethan insisted that Joseph open his present immediately after the party, and the few remaining kids were gaga over the marble run kit. Turns out it was the only non dino present, and the only gift that was repeated.


Grammy & Grandpa gave Joseph a whole Dinosaur Train set, and Uncle Glenn, Aunt Suthern, Leyton and Ashton contributed a bunch of other cars to the set. Mimi & Poppy gave him several Playmobil dinosaur sets (one with a cool exploding volcano!), and now our train table is like The Land of the Lost, almost entirely devoid of Thomas - temporarily, I'm sure.




When Joseph got to the next few gifts, everything had to stop and he had to play with them immediately: many Cars characters that we were in dire need of from Benjamin and our very own TrackMat from Jack & Will (we have coveted theirs forever). They even personalized our race course for us. We are now a walking advertisement for MyTrackMat.com!



Leyton brought along one more gift for Joe Joe - his own pillow pet. Never thought he would be into it, but he just adores it and rests his head on it every night while drifting off to sleep.


What an amazing birthday! Thank you cards will be in the mail.....after our vacation.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Joseph at 4 years


The alligator makes its return! Maybe I should do these updates more often than yearly.....the changes are so major that I always feel like I'm describing a totally different kid!

I can't remember the last time I ever saw a diaper or a pullup in this house. Joseph hasn't had anything more than a brief car nap since the 1st of the year, and he's been sleeping through the night in his big boy bed forever. (Interestingly he still doesn't ever get out of the bed by himself even though he can so we actually still use a monitor!)

We largely encourage him to eat the same foods we eat, and something is really wrong if he doesn't finish every meal. He loves strawberries, grapes, green apples, pizza, sweet potatoes, quesadillas, and above all else, milk. Not that he'd turn his nose up at a hot dog. He refuses most other veggies like most kids his age but he'll at least lick them before telling us "no thank you."

Joseph is clearly a big guy but we have no new stats to share until his check up in 2 weeks. But he outgrows his entire wardrobe every season. He's in 6's and 7's now with a size 13 shoe. I noticed his almost 6 year old cousin wears the same size.

Joe Joe is a sweet and social little guy. He and his friends always hug hello and goodbye. He really prefers to hang with the big boys which results in a lot of skinned knees since he's not yet as fast or strong as them. He's great at his bike and we keep working on upper body strength. He loves his Kidville gymnastics class and it's been helping him a lot. No recent tooth injuries! Outside of gym class our schedule is packed with birthday parties and playdates every weekend as well as trips to our many local attractions like the Smithsonian museums, zoo, parks, aquarium, and more.


JT really blossomed in preschool this year. Despite being one of the youngest in the class and a boy to boot, he really came a long way. As a pediatrician I always worry that he's lagging a little too far behind the other kids, but then he surprises me one day with skills I never knew he had. He adored music with Miss Jan and still sings many of the songs he learned from her. He loves to rhyme and thinks it's funny when he makes up nonsense words just by substituting the entire alphabet for the 1st letter of a word he wants to rhyme. He's also into counting forwards and backwards. I am amazed at how he'll be patient and take turns and clean up when he's with his school buddies when he would never do that at home. We owe a lot to Miss Kasia, Miss Pina, and the rest of the crew at Westmoreland.

Some things never change: he loves books. All books, any books, even magazines and circulars. He loves to turn the pages and look at the pictures. The are so many books he can "read" to us from memory. Joseph especially likes character books that come in series, like Frog and Toad, Skippyjohn Jones, Knuffle Bunny, Curious George. He is still obsessed with trains too. Thomas, Thomas, and more Thomas, but now we've added Dinosaur Train into the mix. He never seems to tire of Disney Cars, playing fireman and pirate, and his swingset either. He is always helping me cook and bake and is always dirty in the yard with Papa.

One cool thing is that Joseph actually understands how to joke now. Most of his jokes involve rhyming, of course. But now he does things like yell for you to come quickly because he has to tell you something important, and once you get there he says "NOTHING!" and laughs like a maniac. Whenever he says "Hey, I have a GREAT idea!" you know he's trying to work you. Like when we told him he couldn't just sit there and watch his cousin play his Nintendo DS - "Hey, I have a GREAT idea.......Let's go to the DS store and buy ANOTHER one and then I won't have to watch him, I can PLAY mine!" Nice try.

Oh my, I could go on about this boy forever. It's hard to see our little one growing up, but sometimes change is good. Three will forever in our hearts be known as "The Year Of The Whining," and we're not too sad to see that come to an end. But there might be some signs of Four becoming known as "The Year Of The Sass."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

ROAR for FOUR!

Joseph's 4th birthday isn't until tomorrow but we celebrated with his dinosaur themed birthday party yesterday. Let me preface this post by saying it is sad but I will freely admit this: I highjacked his my son's birthday plans. He originally wanted a race car theme, but so many of his friends had done the same over the past year that I just couldn't do it. I thought he would love dinosaurs but I even tried to sway him with the thing he loves the most - trains - and the thing that eventually got him to get excited about dinosaurs was the mere mention of a "Dinosaur Train" party. In case you don't know, it's an adorable show on PBS kids about a Pteranodon family and their adopted T. rex son and their travels around the world exploring all the different time periods and dinosaur species.


Ordered the cute shirt above on the birthday boy from etsy because it fit the theme so well. The colors even matched the invitation we chose from Minted.com. The color below doesn't read well; it was a royal blue and limey green, which inspired the decor for the entire party. Very graphic, which I love!


Dinosaur footprints out of blue contact paper (traced from a template I got online) led all the way up to the front door. Blue and green balloons all around the yard were so festive!




After last year I think I will now make a birthday banner for my Joe Joe every year. They're just so easy and can represent a theme so well! More templates online, more blue and green, more dinosaurs! But seriously, my fingertip temporarily went numb from some kind of nerve pinching after cutting out all those paper dinosaurs.




I found these awesome wood 3D dinosaur puzzles at Michael's craft store. At only 1 to 4 bucks apiece and a "20% off your total order" coupon I went nuts and bought more than a dozen of them. My fingers were practically bleeding from popping out all the wood pieces and jamming them together while I was on the phone at work every day for a week.





T. rex is a carnivore but it looks like he wants to chomp on some watermelon! I put together a pretty manageable menu (and by the way, got rave reviews :) ) but didn't take many pics of the food, except for the Brachiosaurus PB&J's for the kids.


The big activity of the party was a dinosaur egg hunt. Austin's mom, Rebecca, was kind enough to have story time inside with all the kids (dino books, of course!) while many of the parents ran around hiding 144 camouflage eggs stuffed with plastic dinosaurs, stretchy dino's and dinosaur silly bands all over the yard.






Many of the dinosaurs were just ever so slightly too big to fit into the eggs, but luckily the eggs all had a tiny hole in them for some random manufacturing purpose I will never know. Kind of looks like the tails are cracking out of the shells while the baby dinosaurs are hatching. Cute!

We also had a big dig in the sandbox for dinosaur skeletons. Any future paleontologists out there?




The highlight of the party was clearly the presentation of the cake and singing happy birthday.


Oh, I went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth for weeks deciding what to do for a birthday cake. And when I would make a decision, Brent would question me and I would change my mind. Again. And again.

I got the greatest dinosaur cookie cutters from Sur la Table for only $1 each, so I HAD to make cookies. I love doing the royal icing and all, but I was kind of short on time this year, so I tried my hand at fondant covered cookies. Use the same cookie cutter to cut out a piece of fondant and adhere it to the baked cookie with a little bit of light corn syrup. How easy is that?!?! I received not only inspiration but actual advice from one of my cookie gurus, Meaghan Mountford of The Decorated Cookie blog. Really, I emailed her a question and she got back to me almost immediately!


Now, me being me and all you know I couldn't just have cookies. Taking inspiration from the Martha Stewart Cupcakes cookbook I had to put each of the dinosaur cookies on its own cupcake. Chocolate chip cupcakes, to be exact.



That was my plan. I was satisfied with it. I was happy with it. Then my darling partner, whose advice is always to "do whatever is easy," shamed me for not ALSO making a cake. He HAS to have a cake. He MUST have a cake. So I made a cake too. I guess I did promise "Dinosaur Train" after all, didn't I? Love, love, love Tiny and Buddy. Even if Tiny is not quite so tiny. Joseph did not notice.



Apparently they were good cupcakes. I didn't try one. I am a weird person that loves to bake but not necessarily eat baked goods. Because they will make me fat. ter.


I did not witness this but it seems there was some kind of crazy icing fight inspired by Uncle Mister Matt. Somehow the dinosaurs were even involved.




This was the cupcake/cookie carnage remaining at the end of the party.


WOW! I think I have covered Joseph's birthday all in one post. Unheard of! So give a BIG ROAR,



because our J. Rex is just about FOUR!