Monday, October 1, 2012

Turning TWO.

My baby - who will always be my baby - isn't really a baby anymore. The emails from Babycenter call her her preschooler or toddler. These milestones are weird. People keep asking me if it makes me want another baby. Sometimes, yes. But, for the most part, no. I love our little family and the routine of the life we've created. For now, it feels pretty perfect.

Changes. We almost waited the full two years of keeping Elyse rear facing in the carseat. We switched her to front facing two weeks before her birthday. She outgrew her infant carrier (it went up to 30 lbs) and her regular carseats wouldn't fit in the backseat of the truck. For those of you who parented babies and toddlers before this new advisory in 2010, just know it can be done and isn't a big deal. The newest research has shown risk of injury to a small child is increasingly lessened by facing backward and well worth the wait. We even keep her in the middle where she is the absolute safest even though it makes it harder on us old parents getting her in and out. Elyse is in the 90th percentile for height. We just bent her legs and she never thought twice about it. Our only issue was the truck because the rear seat folds down and isn't as deep as a normal carseat. Once she outgrew the infant carrier, we took her somewhere once in the regular carseat and it was pretty ridiculous. Somehow she still didn't care. We were so close to the two year mark we knew it was OK to switch, but we'd have to switch all the seats. 'Cause once you go forward, you can't go back. Elyse loves seeing everything. She is so cute always saying, "Wow!!" It took a little getting used to having her now see everything we do in the front seat. No more putting on lip gloss without begging from the backseat, same goes with gum or a drink from whatever I'm drinking. So cute.

Moo. We also switched from whole milk. Whole milk is required until two for brain development. We went straight to skim as that is what I drink so no more having to buy different milk. She LOVES milk and didn't even care. We are trying to offer her less milk and more water, but it is hard when she is pleading for "nilk" "cold" or "cow" the names she has coined for her favorite beverage.

The TV rule. The big pediatric rule is no TV before two. How I wish that rule were 18 months because we were pretty good until then. About that year and a half mark, I mistakenly introduced her to Caillou after our friend Kelly told us about how Lydia loved it. We've never looked back and now try to just provide balance (AKA - ignore the meltdowns when she begs to watch it). I jokingly say, we made it to two, now she watches whatever she wants. Kidding, kidding. Our TV limitations have stayed the same, but now without that "no TV" rule of guilt out of the way!

Party Fun Time. Enough of the two year milestone changes. Back to her birthday party. I well tell you all the dirty details for our party-planning. For that one person out there who might be interested and for ME to remember next year!

Theme. None really. People asked what our theme was for her birthday. She's too little to request one, so we kept it pretty similar to last year and were able to re-use a lot of the decorations.

Slideshow. The slideshow was a big one for me. I like to capture images and videos from the previous year and set them to music. I'm embarrassed to admit we even bought a new computer because of it. I couldn't use the software I'd used last year and nothing else would work so we had to upgrade. That slideshow is important to me - less for the party - and more for Elyse to have as memories of her growing up. This time, I used Windows Live Movie Maker. It was very easy to use and I was very pleased with the result. It was fun to incorporate videos this time. Glad that part is over though, I put a lot of hours into that project. We played it during the party, uploaded it to Vimeo to post on the blog on the big day and played it for Elyse about one million times per her request!

Details. The party turned out great, but I kept it all pretty simple. We had it in the morning (pre-naptime) and doing brunch was really great! I did postcards from Snapfish. They were inexpensive and turned out really cute, although I won't do it again. Some people's cards were smudged when they got them in the mail. The one Aunt Sue received looked like she had yuck in her nose. Not cute! We did party favors for the kiddos in pink and white pinstriped bags filled with "owlie" goodies including temporary tattoos, pencils and stamps all from Oriental Trading Company.

Food. The weekend prior I made homemade pumpkin buttermilk doughnuts (these were a hit). I wrapped them individually in plastic and once frozen put them in a large ziplock and squeezed out as much air as I could. Worked great.

 Elyse and I went to Evelyn's Sunday afternoon and made little cupcake signs with her Cricut. I baked chocolate cupcakes Thursday night and slipped them in the freezer too.

Friday night I made this cheesecake I'd read about for years on one of my favorite blogs. You use fudge stripe cookies for the crust. You should have seen Elyse cry when I gave her a cookie and threw the rest in the food processor. She must have cried for 30 minutes seeing her cookies whirl away. Heck with cupcakes - this cheesecake was THE BEST. You need to try it. So good.

The day before (Saturday) we had a baby shower here the day for Taryn. After everyone left, I whipped up the frosting for the cupcakes and put together an overnight sausage, egg, cheese and hash brown breakfast casserole. Frosted the cupcakes with a fun pink and dusted them with pink and orange sparkle dust leftover from last year. I got some questions about the cupcakes. I have yet to find a to-die-for cupcake recipe. Until I find it, I used a box. I do insist on homemade frosting. It really makes all the difference. Get a large pastry bag (locally you can find them at Cash and Carry) and use a wide frosting tip (also found at Cash and Carry) and that is all you need for a pretty cupcake! Bill went to Costco and picked up some plain greek yogurt and fruit for a yogurt bar. That was it for pre-party prep. Cupcake wrappers can be found at Fred Meyer.

Sunday morning, Bill went to Fred Meyer to pick up the dozen balloons I'd pre-ordered. Alisha and Marcie came over early to help. We hung up the paper lanterns on garden stakes in the front and backyard. I hung up the big "E" I'd made last year as well as the Happy Birthday sign. We put diet cran-raspberry juice and seltzer water in the beverage dispenser with some ice and frozen whole cranberries (just for prettiness). Had a hot water dispenser with three flavors of Starbucks Via, tea, cream and sweeteners. Evelyn arrived early and helped make mini German pancakes in a muffin tin. Alisha and Kelly made these the day before for Taryn's shower and they were great! We served them with homemade berry jam, whipped cream (originally for the cheesecake) and powdered sugar. We set out the yogurt, pulled the casserole out of the oven and that was it for food!

 I borrowed a friend's water table and set that outside along with some bubbles and sidewalk chalk.

A former coworker and friend is an artist. I called her and asked if she had any backdrops in her garage we could borrow. Not only did she lend us one, she doctored it up for the party! It was a little windy and even drizzly for a bit, but we still got in some good pictures with it.

Alisha did her hair in a cute little updo. She looked so cute in her little tutu skirt (still fit from last year) and the little Owl/two birthday shirt I had ordered her from Etsy. Pricey, but so darling (the owl was even wearing a pink tutu).

Most everyone invited came including friends, family and even our friends from playgroup. We had hoped to open presents outside, but true to the Northwest, we had a little sprinkling of raindrops during the party. Elyse was very excited about presents. She loved having so many people there who love her and we did too!

Turning two is bittersweet. It pains us a bit watching our baby grow up, but most importantly we just enjoy each step of the way! Thank you for all who loved on our girl on her special day!

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