Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sock Monkey First Birthday Party

To celebrate the girls' first birthday, we invited a few close friends and family over to my mom's house to celebrate (our house does not have the space). All the planning for this event came together nicely and we were all happy with the turn out.

We frequently call the girls "monkey," so we thought a monkey theme would be appropriate. I took it a step further and went with the apparently popular Vintage Sock Monkey theme. I love the red and brown color scheme, but I added aqua for some added color.

Here is the invite that we made. Sorry, I had to block out personal information.


Many of the decorations were made by me, including the tissue paper poms (one is missing in this picture) and the fabric pennant banner.



I also made the girls' sock monkey outfits. I came up with a pattern for making little skirts for the girls after searching the internet and Pinterest for ideas. I used some sock monkey fabric I found and sewed up these patchwork style skirts. For the shirts I purchased some plain white shirts from Old Navy and appliqued/stitched on a heart to each one.


The "Going Bananas Cupcakes" I made were a hit with the girls! I even made them somewhat "healthy" and they girls have enjoyed them a few times since their party. The recipe is posted in the previous post found here. For those not interested in bananas, I made a small handful of chocolate cupcakes as well...not so healthy and from a Trader Joes boxed mix.


In lieu of a traditional guestbook, I found a children's book about twin sock monkeys, called "Rocko and Spanky Go to a Party," who are invited to a birthday party and when they arrive at the party, they find out it is in fact a surprise party for them. Guests at our party signed inside the front cover of the book with a little message to the girls.


For favor bags, I purchased some blank white canvas drawstring bags. To make them more exciting, I appliqued and hand stitched fabric hearts to each bag. The bags contained different items depending on the age of the birthday guest, but I'll say that each bag included monkey items!


The party began at 3:30 pm, so food was "somewhat minimal." At least that was the intention. There was a mini candy bar at the dessert counter with an array of red, brown and aqua candies. For food, we served potato corn chowder and bread, turkey rolls, veggies and fruit. For drinks, there was Coca-Cola in glass bottles, bottled water and apple juice for the kids. Red polka dot paper straws were available to anyone who wanted to enjoy their beverage with a little fun!



The girls received so many wonderful gifts...toys, clothes, books, etc. They love them all!

Thank you to everyone who helped make Esme and Ellerie's first birthday special! We love you all and are thankful you are a part of our lives!

Here are a few more pictures...









UPDATE (4/6/12): As many of you know, my friend Whitney has a little girl, Lily, who is just 7 weeks younger than my girls. She recently wrote about my girls' birthday party on her blog and there are a few more pics there. She captured a few of the small details that I missed. If you'd like to take a peek, go HERE.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Favorites - 1st Birthday Cake/Cupcakes

For the girls' first birthday I made some special cupcakes. They loved them...and still love them! They are a healthier version of your typical cupcake and make a great snack for on-the-go. They freeze well too!

For their birthday, I topped them with some lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting (I'll include this recipe below too).

Here is the recipe for the girls' favorite cupcakes!


"Going Bananas Cupcakes" (Thanks, Whitney, for the fun name!)

Ingredients:
Nonstick cooking spray (I like the "baking" spray for baked goods, but any cooking spray is fine)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 whole egg
1 egg white
2 cups banana puree (can substitute 1/2 cup with another veggie such as cauliflower, sweet potato, etc.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin/cupcake pan with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix flours with baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a separate mixing bowl, mix agave nectar and applesauce with egg, egg white, banana (or banana + veggie) puree, and vanilla. Add flour mixture until just combined.

Pour batter into muffin/cupcake pan (filling only to about 2/3 full). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (it will only be relatively clean as the applesauce and banana make them quite moist), about 25-35 minutes (every oven varies, so check your first batch often). Let them cool, remove from pan and enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosting - Play around with this recipe to find a result you prefer. You can substitute some brown sugar for some of the agave if you prefer.

Ingredients:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (totally optional...I've made with and without)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoon agave nectar

Melt butter, then mix all ingredients in an electric mixer until "light and fluffy." Spread on cupcakes however you choose! Enjoy!

Instead of baking the cupcakes in liners (which you could also do), I set them inside of the liners after they were baked. I like the look better and it makes them easier to eat.

If you try this recipe, let me know how you like them (or how your kids/babies like them). If you make adaptations/changes, let me know how those turned out!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Favorites - Socks!

I'm nearly finished with a post on the girls' Sock Monkey birthday, but while they nap is really the only time I have to work on posts/uploading pictures (and cleaning the house), and they haven't been the best nappers the last few days. They are in between the 1-2 naps/day phase.

I, however, thought I'd start something new on this blog...something a little more regular and consistent, but something that doesn't take me very long to type up.

On Fridays, I thought I would start sharing some of my "favorites" with you. This may mean a favorite product, toy, book, recipe, activity, etc. It may be mommy/kid related, home related or anything really!

To start things off, I want to share with you a favorite baby clothing item...

Robeez brand kickproof socks!!!


I've tried all kinds of socks on my girls and these socks truly hold up to their namesake...kickproof! Other brands fall off constantly. I've lost all kinds of socks in stores, around the house, etc. We received our first set of Robeez socks as a baby shower gift before the girls were born. I knew about the Robeez shoes, but had never heard about the company making socks. I thought they were cute and packed them away in the hospital bag for the girls to wear home. The socks (sized 0-6 months) were little big, but they never fell off.

I say that they are truly "kickproof," but this doesn't mean that your child won't pull them off once they learn how. This is Ellerie's favorite thing to do! This picture, below, was taken several months ago, but I love it!


We had no luck with other brands we tried in the beginning, so I have purchased only Robeez brand socks up until recently. Unfortunately, they only make socks sized up to 12-24 months, and they do run a tad small (they shrink up in the dryer). This size still fits my girls, but Ellerie is getting close to needing bigger sizes so I have been exploring some other brands...none of which I like so far. I think we'll make the Robeez socks fit as long as possible!

So, if you're expecting a little one, have a new little one or attending a baby shower in the near future, keep a look out for these socks! Some Stride Rite and Nordstrom stores carry them, but I've had my best luck online.

Monday, March 19, 2012

We're 1!!!

Esme and Ellerie celebrated their first birthday Sunday, March 4th, 2012! It is amazing how fast this past year has gone by! A year ago, these girls were little tiny helpless little babies and now they are big girl toddlers who think they can do everything by themselves!

Esme and Ellerie...Here are some of your 1-year-old milestones:

Both of you are walking! Esme, you made your first attempts around 9 1/2 months and Ellerie around 11 months. You were both capable much earlier, but being sick and cautious held you back a bit.

You LOVE to talk and say all kinds of words! There are many more words that you girls say that are not on this list below. These are just the words that come to my mind right now. You girls are adding new words everyday! The two of you have all kinds of conversations with each other that I so wish I understood!!! You understand each other though!
Esme - "dada," "mama," "bah" (book, bottle, bye, ball), "hi," "gah" (dog), "cah" (cat), "duh" (duck), "cack" (quack), "uh oh," "poo," "x" and "h" (you like those letters), you make animal sounds for cats, dogs, ducks, tigers, lions and monkeys...there are so many more!
Ellerie - "dada," "mama," "bah" (book, bottle, ball), "bah bah" (bye bye), "hi," "dah" (dog), "cah" (cat), "duh" (duck), "cack" (quack), "uh oh," "poo," "etters" (letters), "atch" (catch), "rar" (for tiger and lion sound), "ee ah oo" (peek-a-boo), you make animal sounds for cats, dogs, ducks, tigers, lions and monkeys...there are so many more!

In addition to talking, you can sign a few words as well: "more," "please," "thank you," and "all done." We're teaching you some more, but you don't quite have those down yet.

You are eating all kinds of foods! There aren't really any that you don't like so far. You both love cheese, especially. You love fruits and vegetables! You favorite meal, however, is probably black beans, brown rice and cottage cheese. You eat things like lentils, collard greens and kale, beets and quinoa. I hope that this non-picky eating lasts!! You both still breastfeed 3-4 times per day and also take breastmilk in a sippy straw cup. You haven't been introduced to cows milk yet.

Books and balls are your favorite toys.

Your favorite books include, "Big Red Barn," "Barnyard Dance," any Karen Katz lift the flap book (ex. "Where is Baby's Bellybutton" and "Where is Baby's Birthday Cake"...we have several), "Making Letters," Eric Carle books (ex. "Brown Bear, Brown Bear"), any books with animals, and a whole lot more!

Your favorite songs include, "If You're Happy and You Know It," "ABC," "Jesus Loves Me," "The Wheels on the Bus"

Esme,
You love to act like you are going to share something and then, at the last minute, take it back. It's a fun game you like to play!
You love to drop things on the ground just so you can say "uh oh."
You shake your head back and forth when you hear music.
You have the biggest bestest smile that lights up your whole face.
You have the cutest little giggle when you laugh.
You are a doer...you don't think about it, you just try it. If you fall, you get up and try again without hesitation.
You will climb into/onto anything...bookshelf, bucket, box, etc.
You like to be with people...you'd much rather look at a book with mommy, daddy or sister than by yourself.
You will come up and give a hug/snuggle just out of the blue.
You give wonderful wet open mouth kisses!
You blow kisses.
You will wave and say "hi" to complete strangers.
You love to eat...just about ANYTHING! We call you the "bottomless pit" because you'll never stop eating!
You put EVERYTHING in your mouth!!!

Ellerie,
You really like to share! Every once in awhile you don't want to, but you are most often willing to share everything...even things we don't really want (like your binkie you insist on sharing with mommy sometimes)!
You also love to drop things on the ground just so you can say "uh oh."
You love to bounce, dance, and sway to music.
You have the best belly laugh...not as much of a giggler like your sister.
You also like to show us your "fake laugh" and then you crack yourself up and really start laughing.
You like to think things through before you try something.
You are definitely my more cautious one, and you take your time. When you fall, you take your time and slowly get back up before you try again.
You are fascinated with how things work and will intentionally look and play around with the smallest thing for quite some time.
You are content playing by yourself more often than your sister...looking through books especially!
You have "ball" radar...you will spot every ball, everywhere, and point it out while saying "ball" over and over.
You give a great big squeeze when you give a hug.
Your open mouth kisses are wonderful...and wet!
You love to blow kisses!
You like to throw every book off the book shelf before sitting down to find that one book you'd like to look through.
You love to take your socks off!

At your 1-year doctor appointment you were...
Esme: 30.25" long (85%), 17 lbs 5 oz (3.32%)
Ellerie: 31" long (96%), 20 lbs 2 oz (34%)

Although tall and thin, the doctor says you are both following your curve wonderfully! You are happy and healthy girls!

There are so many wonderful things about you girls! We get double the hugs, kisses, smiles, laughs and baby babble. I can't imagine only having one of you! Twins are definitely double the blessing and I'm thankful, everyday, for you wonderful girls! Mommy and daddy love you very much!!!




Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Books!

While you patiently wait for me to finish up the girls' 1-year posts, enjoy this picture of them thoroughly enjoying ALL of their books (well, not quite...they have a lot!)!
These girls love books! I think books top as their favorite "toy." We read several every day and night. They love looking through them by themselves and reading them with someone else. They just love books!
Oh, and one book isn't enough! Every book must be off the shelf!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy Birthday To You!

"On the night you were born,
the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you
and the night wind whispered,
'Life will never be the same.'

Because there had never been anyone like you...ever in the world.

Heaven blew every trumpet, and played every horn, on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born."

One year ago, today, we welcomed our two beautiful little girls into the world. Our lives were changed forever...for the better.

I love you so much Esme Madeline and Ellerie Quinn! Happy 1st Birthday, sweet girls!

Check out this hospital video from the day my girls were born! Click here...

A more detailed 1-year post will come later...

Friday, March 2, 2012

52 Weeks!!!

Today is Friday, and my girls are 52 weeks old today. Their 1st birthday is actually this Sunday (March 4th), but they were born on Friday of last year making today their 52 week birthday. :)

A year ago today, we decided with my doctor that it was in all of our best interest that I be induced. I had come down with PUPPP (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) and was itching miserably for a couple weeks. It's basically a rash that just itches more than you could ever imagine. I was miserable and had scratched so much in my sleep that, when it didn't keep me awake, I was waking up with my legs bleeding. It was awful. Fortunately, there is no harm to mom or baby(ies) with this condition. You're just miserable.

So, on Thursday (the next day), I headed to the hospital for my induction. This was something I said I would never choose, but circumstances change and I'm not sure how much longer I would have made it. I was 38 1/2 weeks pregnant when the girls were born, and I had been dilated to 2cm for a couple weeks with not much change. They just didn't want to come on their own. I'd like to say that if I were to do it over again that I would skip the induction and just wait for them to come, but I'm not sure. Then again, I HATED the whole induction process! I would probably have held out a little bit longer. I'll try to remember this if there is a "next time."

Here is a picture of me the day before we headed to the hospital (Wednesday). You can just see, by the look on my face, how miserable I was. Sorry for the blurry picture, but that's what we got!