I'm not big on birthday parties for my kids in the first few years of their life. To me it seems like a lot of hassle to put a party together for a kid who doesn't understand what is going on. Instead Aaron and I try to make every moment of the day of their birthday special for them and have a little party with just our family. No hassle, just fun. I wasn't sure when we were going to transition out of that phase but I figured it would be around age 6, when Grace would want to invite her own friends to a party instead of me inviting my friends kids. However, after attending the birthday parties of her friends after her 3rd birthday, Grace wanted a party and it was all she could talk about. Suddenly, we were there, party throwing age.
I was worried that it would be stressful, that Grace would get upset it's-my-party-and-i'll-cry-if-I-want-to style, that something would go wrong. Aaron and I had a good long talk about it. We came to the conclusion that as long as it's fun we'll keep doing what we planned, and the minute it becomes stressful we'll cut out the unnecessary stuff. I waffled for awhile on whether we should have it at a park or throw a party with planned games and activities. Since I waffled so much I cut it close when sending out invitations and I didn't have time to order some according to the theme, so I just grabbed some at Target. Grace was thrilled to be part of the stamping, having me read the name of each friend that she hoped would come. She was giddy with excitement at the Post Office. I knew from her reaction that this would all be worth it.
We decided to go with a party at our house with Party games. It was The Lorax themed, Grace's favorite movie at the time. It all worked out perfectly since Grace's birthday fell on Labor Day we were able to do the party on her actual birthday.
The only unforeseen drawback was that it rained all day and we planned to have most of the activities outside, but it worked out for the best.
I forgot to take pictures during the party, but the kids watched certain parts of the Lorax and did activities that correlated with the scenes from the movie.
At first we did a Once-ler Marshmallow toss, where the kids had to catch marshmallows in their mouths.
Second with did an O'Hare Air balloon pop race. Two teams race across the room with a ballon and had to pop it by sitting on it, once it was popped they ran and tagged the next teammate.
Third we did Musical Blanket by dancing to the intro theme song and jumping onto the blanket, the last person to jump on was out.
Last we planted seeds in flower pots to "Let it Grow"
The kids watched the movie while they ate lunch, and then Grace blew out the candles on her cake, at least I got a picture of that right?
After cake came present opening and then the parents came by to pick up their kids and head home with Lorax goody bags.
By the end of the party my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. Not only did everything go well, but I had an incredible time. I had a lot of help from my amazing husband and friends, and the excitement and smile on Grace's face throughout the whole party was the absolute cherry on top. Suddenly I found myself wondering why I waited four years to do this, parties were fun.
After some serious sugar and pizza induced comas on everyone's part, we headed out to Red Robin for Grace's birthday dinner. She beamed as they sang Happy Birthday to her and was beyond excited that she got a free Sundae just for turning four.
It was by far my most favorite birthday celebration for her. She loves parties and having one of her very own seemed to put her over the edge on her life-is-so-awesome scale. We had a great time making this little one feel special, she deserves to feel special for so many reasons and we jumped on the opportunity to do just that. We love this Gracie girl of ours.
And she is already asking when her next birthday is, and telling us she can't wait to turn 5. That Grace.
The last time I blogged was two months ago, the content I blogged about was from July. There comes a point and time in every bloggers life (read: in just Kara's life) where they have to cut their losses and start blogging about things that are current and relevant. We can't spend our lives living in the past, am I right? Deep thoughts here on this blog, deep thoughts.
In my head I envision those old life events, you know, major holidays, family trips, good stories, will trickle in as a "throwback thursday" sort of thing. But I also didn't envision not blogging for two months, so don't hold me to anything.
Right now it is freezing in Texas. In a 24 hour period of time it went from 75 degrees outside to 35 degrees outside, and a big part of me wishes I was joking about that. For heavens sake I was wearing shorts last week! Everyone is complaining about it. The heat here has made us all weak when it comes to the cold.
We've bundled up and my kids had to start wearing socks. I'm pretty sure I had to dust off my socks when I put them on, its been awhile.
On an unrelated note, did I mention that we got a dog? Her name is Charlotte. Grace named her at the dog store when we went in to pet the puppies. This was before we knew we were getting a dog. Events fell into place that prompted us to get her but we love our new addition. The kids are smitten with her. She is a Zuchon, Which is a Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise mix. She kind of looks like a very small polar bear.
Alright people, here is to moving forward, and not catching up on the past (but hopefully later catching up on the past…. who knows). Onward and upward!
One year ago I found myself here. Contracting, laboring, and waiting out those last few hours before I was to meet my second child. My son.
Nothing can prepare you for the moment that you see your baby for the first time. You don't know what he is like, you don't know how he will impact your family, your schedule, your sanity. But you don't really care about those things. In that moment time is still, every one of your senses takes in what is happening. As your eyes study that face and happy tears start to fall. Everything is raw and real and you are truly living in the moment, because nothing is better than this.
We named him Christian Clark. A name, when we uttered out loud for the first time, fit so perfectly that I refused to acknowledge that any other name existed. We got acquainted that day, with each other, as a family. Each one of us expanding our hearts and growing as we fell in love with this tiny little bundle.
Those memories are so strong. I remember kissing those tiny soft lips for the very first time. "Hello baby." But on that day I had no idea where we would be a year from then. I didn't know the struggles, the frustrations, the peace, the love, and ultimately the growth that would occur in our family the year after Christian was born.
There is something special about this boy. I don't really know how to describe it. But the three of us fell hard for him. Aside from a few eating struggles Christian has always been peaceful and mellow.
It was a rough year. Aside from the standard discomforts of growing and learning how to be a family of four, we waded through some crazy schedules, and struggles. We were definitely thrown into the refiners fire this year, although sometimes it just felt like we were on fire running around like crazy people trying to put it out. But through all of the chaos there was a calm, snuggly, and loving little boy. His personality seemed to balance out the hectic. I honestly think he was meant to come at this time in our lives. If he was just as crazy as the rest I'm sure we would have imploded somehow.
He is no perfect angel child, but he is perfect for our family. We thank Heavenly Father for this sweet boy everyday.
The night before his first birthday I snuck in to capture one last baby shot of him and soak in his less-than-one-year-old molecules.
Grace and I snuck into his room in the morning and sang him Happy Birthday. Our bashful boy smiled and hid his face as we serenaded him with our groggy morning voices.
Unfortunately, due to us going out of town, we had to take Christian to his one year doctors appointment on his birthday. Nothing says happy birthday quite like getting stabbed with needles....
We grabbed lunch at Wing Stop in honor of the main food I craved when I was pregnant with him.
While the kids napped I got to making Christian's cake. I wasn't sure if he would be a vanilla fan or a chocolate fan, but I found this nifty little cake mix that let me have both. (Side note: this was the best cake from a box that I have ever had)
After presents we got set up in the backyard for Christian to smash some cake.
He just stared at it, every once in awhile picking at the frosting.
He got more into it as he ate more frosting.
We put the cake closer to him. And he didn't attack it. So, we just threw the cake in his lap.
After a couple of bites he was done. Although not a huge cake destruction but still a job well done.
Our city does a Freedom Festival every year on the 3rd of July, complete with fireworks that night. We got dressed in our patriotic best and headed to a friends house to watch the show.
Christian's first fireworks show
Grace was a fan
It was a pretty fabulous way to end his very first birthday
There are so many pictures in this post that the words will just be lost. I'll keep things brief. But here you go.
While the flu was raging in our little family we kept things low key. Christian's favorite pastime was getting into the toilet. Such a stinker.
I love these mountains.
Did I mention that Christian also loves pulling books off of the shelf?
Family members started flying in and we gathered together to eat, and inevitably share the flu.
I came across a few gems as we sifted through family pictures. Aaron was a man of many hair styles.
Baby Aaron looks so much like Christian to me
Finally came the night before the wedding. We were set and ready to go.
But wait! My pictures are out of order so you'll have to hang in suspense while some other activities are discussed. My kids love going with Papa to feed the ducks and the horses.
My beautiful mother-in-law
Oh, we're now back to the wedding festivities. Before the wedding a few of us grabbed breakfast together.
Joe's final meal as a bachelor.
Magelby's french toast never disappoints.
Introducing Mr and Mrs. Joe Barnard!
My sister in law and her adorable baby bump
My lovely sister in laws
The Barnard side of the family
At the reception with the Bride.
Uncle Quang is known as the Baby Whisperer. He got Christian to sleep for 2 and 1/2 hours at church. Miraculous.
Later Sunday evening I surprised Jillian by showing up on her doorstep unannounced. I love this girl.
Jane sneaking snacks.
Visiting Grandee while she works as a service missionary
Cecial hit 11 months
Dinner with Jillian
It was delicious
I don't think Jane could be any cuter. That smile just melts me.
This is what happen when you ask two toddlers to smile
Playing with his Daddy's old matchbox car collection
Na na na na na na na na BAT GRACE!
I was able to go visit a friend of mine who lives close by here.
Grace and Grace
Grace was days away from having her baby, so I asked if I could snap a few maternity pictures before he was born.
Dinner at Hires Big H--- A must.
Visiting with Aunt Rachel and Uncle Jake
I think its safe to say my kids were a little tired by the end of the day. Rhyming unintended.
With all of the other mischief that Christian was getting himself into, he also learned how to climb upstairs
Cafe Rio with the Coons. Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of the future? Eh, Jillian?
After Cafe Rio we hit up the pool
Its crazy to think about how much has changed since we were roommates Freshmen year.
Dinner in the park
Grace brought this to me. "Look Mommy, its a crown!" Maybe she hasn't quite harnessed all of her Bat Grace powers
Gracie looooooooves her Uncle Jake.
The weather was gorgeous the whole time we were there. So we tried to spend lots of time outside.
Homeboy love him some beans
Party hard... sleep hard
I love catching up with Diana every time we're in Utah. She and I are friend soul mates.
Grace and Ella friends since 2009
I got to meet Davis for the very first time. And I couldn't get enough of him.
Christian and Davis, future best friends.
6 kids, 2 adults, 1 van. And of course, lunch at chick fil a.
Later I drove back up to SLC to meet Graham and Lauren's baby the Gipper, also known as baby Arthur. Such a snuggly little bug.
Trey happened to be in town as well so we had a mini reunion of sorts.
Christian loves his Uncle Trey
Grace was into taking novels with her everywhere we went. Trey read a few pages to her. She was in heaven.
My sister Ashby and her family made a last minute trip to Utah. She told me when she arrived, so on my way home from SLC I stopped by to surprise them.
The next day we visited with my aunt, uncle and Grandpa, Papa J
Uncle Alan and Christian
I spent the rest of the day with my sister and her family
That night as a farewell my in-laws and I headed out to get some frozen yogurt.
Sporting their BYU gear. Go Cougars!
The morning before we left for Dallas we got one last breakfast in with the Hatches and the Coons
Awkward photo, but the best part is the Jane photo bomb!
Grace, Lily, and Lucas
Our flight back home. MUCH better than the flight there.
My one flight casualty
Getting all our new BYU gear out
Grace caught another stomach flu that the Hatches got in Arizona. She had a pretty nasty day and I was not quite ready for round two of the stomach flu so I pounded airbornes. Amazingly I just had crazy nausea but no throwing up.
Settling back in to life at home.
The best combination ever.
Craft time. I went a little overboard. I swear the craft supplies are for Grace.
Aaron was in New York City for three weeks the first part of his internship. It overlapped with our trip to Utah which is why we went for so long. He updated us with pictures
I cried over how far apart we were
But we talked and skyped often
Sadly we spent father's day apart, but we tried our best to make our favorite man feel special
Grace wrote him a note.
And finally, after 4 long weeks apart, Aaron was home!!
And we kicked our summer festivities into high gear
And then came the Texas heat. I was definitely summer now.