Category Archives: Growing Up

Like Weeds

On Wednesday, 2.0 will be five months old. He’s been wearing 9 months clothing for a couple weeks now.
Mini Gwinn has gone from a size 7 shoe to a size 9 over the course of the summer. He started the season in 2T, and now 4T shirts are fitting beautifully.

My kids are growing like weeds.

Earlier this week we were at Home Depot, Mini Gwinn’s favorite store (he loves all the door knobs and the race car carts), and I saw a gorgeous plank of Poplar on which I imagined a rustic growth chart for the boys. I envisioned the plank, colored with age, marked with different heights and dates over years. In an instant I could see the marks over my own head, and my heart sighed. One day, my children will be too tall for me to sweep into my arms. One day, they will be too embarrassed by the flurry of kisses all over their faces. One day I will be nostalgic for this day.

It was a silly, errant thought to have in the middle of the lumber department of the store. As we were perusing the types of wood we would like to use for our privacy fence, my mind was wandering through the future of the home where we will raise our boys. The pitter patter of their bare foot steps will be replaced by stomps weighted with size and age.  In this time of our lives, when we are looking at our (hopefully!) new home and planning for the immediate future, my mom brain was focused on something far down the line. I was pulled back into the present as Mini Gwinn’s voice echoed through the warehouse, and I watched his long, lean legs carry him down the aisle as my husband chased him.

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Update on the Big Boy Room, 33 Weeks

Bed rest shmed shmrest?

In lieu of actual bed rest, I’ve been trying to “take it easy”, and in my opinion, re-doing a big boy room and a nursery count as “taking it easy”. Over the past week I’ve updated mini Gwinn’s bedroom with some new decor, including new curtains, sheets, pictures, and a big boy bed (so proud of him for transitioning so easily!). The paint and the twin bunk beds (obviously we’re separating the bunk beds for two different rooms) were the most expensive aspects of the update, but the nursery has the same accent wall design and the bunk bed cost was split in half, so really, new pictures and all, mini Gwinn’s total cost of room update equaled $165 (furniture included). I’ll put up nursery pictures for 2.0’s room when that’s finished, but for now, here’s mini Gwinn’s room:

In other news, I’m 33 weeks and Captain Laser Pants has told me I’ve officially crossed into “torpedo belly” territory. This week at the high risk doc, the measured the (not so) little guy and checked his lung development to make sure he’s ready to make his debut FOUR WEEKS from today. A few days ago he was 4 lbs, 9 oz, and I think they said 15 in. long? So, even though he seems big to me, the doctor told me not to expect him to be bigger than 7 lbs. total. His lungs look awesome and there is virtually no hint at needing an amniocentesis to test lung development before the induction. I’m so relieved for that!

But I’m not so relieved that acid reflux is back in a BAD way. Or that the symphsis pubis dysfunction is HEINOUSLY painful these days, and practically constant, when before it was just at night. I have a near constant headache as well, most likely related to the high blood pressure, but long story slightly shorter: I’m so over this pregnancy. I’m done. April 18th can not get here soon enough.

Any way. Mini Gwinn has started counting, talking constantly, and generally is just the most adorable he’s ever been in his entire life. I’ve got some mom guilt action happening right now because I hate that his world is about to be turned upside down with the addition of a little brother, but I hope he loves having a life long best friend, even if he doesn’t grasp that right now. He may harbor some toddler resentment for us in the upcoming months, but maybe one day he’ll be thankful for the existence of 2.0.

My hot husband and sweet boy at our fave Mexican restaurant

My hot husband and sweet boy at our fave Mexican restaurant

I’ve been reading a lot that somehow my heart will swell even more when I see my husband with our second child. And despite my pregnancy- induced angry outbursts (only on occasion) at little things CLP does, I have a hard time believing I’m going to love him more in four weeks than I already do. The way he’s stepped up in caring for our son and our home, and still being so loving toward me… he just amazes me. His patience and strength through such a trying time in our lives are inspiring. And I love him so much. Even if he does leave tuna on the counter by the sink and I run into it with my belly. Knowing we’re about to change our lives for the third time since we’ve been together, I’m trying to sit back and enjoy these little delicious moments of joy, just the three of us. We’re going to be even more exhausted and our patience will be worn, but I wouldn’t crawl through the trenches of hell (or child rearing) with anyone else at my side.

Ok, thanks, pregnancy hormones. You can shut up now.

What are you up to, interwebs?


Traditional Christmas

Not gonna lie, interwebs. I really love the Christmas season.

When I was single, I was really bitter about Christmas, and that had a lot to do with my own happiness in relationships. The first Christmas I truly enjoyed as an adult was the one where I took Captain Laser Pants to meet my family. That was the weekend I knew I wanted to marry him. Since then, the holiday has become more joyful than I could expect (with a little family stress here and there- the act of traveling is such a pain!), largely because I have two incredible loves in my life with whom I can share the season. Decorating for Christmas is a spiritual gift in my family (you should see my mom’s tree and my sisters’ trees!), and I have to confess that I take part in it. Pictures don’t do my tree justice. This year it’s a six foot- wide, over eight foot- tall Fraser fir (real, of course), and because it’s smaller than last year’s tree, is now dripping with ornaments. The collection of German blown glass ornaments (the ones that inspire thoughts of Christmases from 75 years ago) is ever growing. We have everything from robots and hot dogs to more traditional balls and Santa Claus-esque ornaments. I love it.

After fussing with the tree for days (it has over 1200 lights on it, for crying out loud), I felt like I had to start a hundred other holiday projects. Neighbor gifts (we like our neighbors a lot), Christmas cookie baking and decorating, planning gifts, making memories- but it felt forced. “Now we must read Night Before Christmas and sit in front of the fireplace and drink hot chocolate and sing carols!” As if one can force the making of precious Christmas memories. Silly me.

Team Gwinn has some traditions that we’ve put in place for our own little family, including watching Elf and buying new family ornaments with a theme every year (the first year was robots, the second was dinosaurs, and this year was a family of foxes [four were included!]). My own family is steeped in tradition. Every year we all get together at my parents’ house for Christmas Eve, read the Christmas story from the Bible, open presents, and eat some of the redonkulously good cookies my sister and mom make. They’ve always had an upstairs tree (think pastels with Victorian ornaments) and a downstairs tree (colored lights, ornaments the siblings made over the years as kids), lights on the hedges outside their house, and candles in the windows. Regardless of what we were given, even when times were tight, some of my happiest memories from growing up are wrapped in Christmas.

Needless to say, I’m pretty darn traditional when it comes to this particular holiday. I love going to carol sings and candlelight services at churches, hearing choirs, and sipping eggnog by a fire.More importantly, though, is the tradition surrounding the core family. I’m really protective of Christmas morning with my husband and child. Unless there’s a fire or flood, I always go to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. Call me crazy, but I feel like traditions are part of the glue of a family. And when you finally have your own, it’s even more important to have traditions that are yours (largely so if you grew up without a core family or traditions) to pass on to your children.

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Even though he was too small last year to help, one of the traditions we’re working on building in Team Gwinn is having mini Gwinn assist with the tree decorating. Letting him choose from the shatterproof (read: plastic and stuffed) ornaments and then asking him where they should go- totally precious. Yes, there may be seventeen ornaments on one branch, but that’s his branch that he decorated. And hearing him yell “twee! Wights!” when he wakes up and runs to the tree? Heart melting. This is his last year as the only little one in the home, so I want to make memories (saved with pictures, cause I doubt he’ll retain them from this age) with him at the center. He wants to try making cookie dough? Go for it. Stringing lights on the tree? You betcha. He really enjoys looking at the Christmas lights, which means a few night excursions to see what the neighbors have in their yards. Maybe a ‘hood tour with some eggnog and Christmas carols playing in the car will be another Gwinn tradition. Who knows.

What do you and your family/families do for the holidays? I would love to hear about your traditions!


Dear Psycho Mom, or “Why Your Husband and Child Hate You”

Today, despite my loathing of the August heat in Georgia, we went to the park to see some very missed friends. Mini Gwinn and the other little ones were getting their sweat on while we moms were chatting away, catching up on the past few weeks. While we were there, another group of mom friends arrived, all with similarly aged children. When a high strung mom in neon arrived and immediately began shouting her daughter’s name (let’s call her “Stella Cate”, because she insisted on calling her child her full name), I considered leaving the park altogether, but missed my gal pals enough to stay, and just relocate to a different part of the playground for a while. Once “Stella Cate’s” mom’s friends arrived, though, the situation escalated quickly.

This poor little girl, who I later discovered was just a month younger than mini Gwinn, was (literally) being yelled at for every turn that her mother didn’t find approving. At one point, she touched a little boy’s face, at which point her mother screamed her name three or four times before making it to her daughter to whisk her away and reprimand her sharply for gently exploring. “Stella Cate, DON’T TOUCH THAT”, “STELLA CATE DON’T TOUCH THAT LITTLE BOY,” “STELLA CATE DON’T BREATHE!” It didn’t help that this mom had an unfortunately grating voice. If she was my mom, I would run away too, Stella Cate.

I digress.

So from behind my sunglasses I watched Stella Cate, and the other little ones (all around ~2 years old, give or take a couple months),  play the way normal toddlers play. There was no pushing, no shouting, just the normal toddling towards interesting things and around other toddlers, with minimal interpersonal interaction between them. She was a pretty quiet little thing, and was just doing what toddlers do: explore.

Let me pseudo- tangent for a minute, ya’ll. While pregnant, many moms do lots of research and reading about the upcoming delivery of a human, some delve into the first few months with a baby, and the bold read about the first year of a child’s life before they actually have one in their arms. I won’t lie, I read several (over 10) books about all of the above mentioned, but when it came to life after  the first six months or so, I wasn’t really worried. Instinct kicks in, and I’ve been around children in both a “learning” environment (teaching) and a natural environment (home life). No one parents identically, and I’m no expert on other children, but I’ve got my grasp on my parenting style, and I try not to judge others. My axiom with moms now is, “Unless she’s feeding her kids glass, she has her own way of doing things.” But, interwebs, this woman obviously knows precious little about toddlers, and if I ever see her again, we are promptly leaving.

Why so harsh, mombie? Lemme tell you. As long as psycho mom didn’t interfere with mini Gwinn and myself, she wasn’t feeding her kid glass (well, not physically. She’s just screwing her daughter up for the future, whatevs.), “not my monkeys, not my circus,” right? Until her daughter gently touched my son’s face, which mini Gwinn was totally cool with. I was totally cool with it too, until the neon whale came swooping down like a vulture onto dying prey. She screamed at her daughter, who by this time in her life is obviously used to the screaming, but she screamed in the same direction, very close to, my nearly angelic child’s face, which made him BAWL. For the record, my kid doesn’t really cry about anything. So I said to her, as she’s freaking out, “Your reaction and yelling scared him, he was fine with Stella Cate touching his face. Really.” So she began to defend her totally psycho reaction by saying, “I have to nip this in the bud now.” I wanted to say, “DEAR GOD DON’T LET HER EXPLORE!! CORRECT HER IMMEDIATELY!” But I instead asked how old she was then calmly explained that toddlers explore through sensory play, including touching one another. If you’d like to further your own education, interwebs, look it up on your own. You’ll find documents from universities, educational websites, early childhood development professional websites, ETC. My point: kids explore through touch. And I looked at that poor little girl, who had an expression of confusion on her face, and I felt bad for her. And I wanted to punch the mom.

You see, psycho mom, this is why your husband and child hate you. Too harsh, interwebs? If I had to be married to her, I’d leave her .And her daughter is going to (at the very least) go wild when she goes to college because her every move won’t be controlled by someone who yells as her “go to” method of parenting. I realize that this post is horrendously judgmental, but when someone makes my child cry because of simply screaming, they’re lucky I don’t go full Sarah Connor on them, particularly this woman. And when I see a toddler, with no reasonable amount of logic or self control, do what she is supposed to do naturally to grow mentally, I am reaffirmed that some people shouldn’t have kids.

This woman probably adopted a small dog nine years ago and abandoned it because she refused to learn anything about dogs, put it in her purse, and then threw it across a room when it peed in her Coach bag.

My point? Learn about that incredible human being you are raising before you verbally destroy her. Also, stop being a crappy human being. AND don’t shove yourself into workout clothes if you have no intention of actually working out.

I’m gonna go eat a sandwich. Maybe do some deep breathing exercises. Clearly I haven’t calmed down.

Happy (or aggressive) Friday!


The Problem with Elitism

“The master demon Screwtape identifies elitist humanity’s tendency toward “an ingrained habit of belittling anything that concerns the great mass of their fellow men.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters: Also Includes “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”

A few weeks ago we were dished out a little dose of elitism that came into conversation because Captain Laser Pants and I don’t have a “proper” dining room table. The height of the mockery (in public, mind you) was something to the effect of, “Dear GOD! You eat meals on a FOLDING TABLE?!” And my husband, being the pillar of reasoning and humility that he is, just smiled and said, “Yeah.” He could have said, “Dear GOD! You care about mocking people?!” or “You don’t have a college degree?!” or something equally rude and humiliating, but he didn’t. My husband isn’t in the business of making people feel badly about themselves or mocking them. In fact, he has an incredible gift (that I strongly believe is from God, because this is supernatural) that allows him to LISTEN to people during a debate or simple conversation.

Simply put, my husband isn’t an elitist.

If I had been with him, I would have held my tongue, all the while hurling cutting insults in my mind. As the years go on and we’re together, he has made me mature in this way substantially. While it’s temporarily fun to have the last word (especially if it’s several syllables long and deeply witty), it’s humane to be kind, let others have the last say.

You know what? We eat some meals on a folding table. We eat most meals in a hurry or on the couch. But the worth of our lives together is not made up of the contents of our rental home. The quality of our persons is not compiled of the designer labels we don’t wear or the way we could cleverly cut a person in public (but don’t).

The problem with elitism? The idea of degrading someone because he holds a different standard/ different way of life/ less knowledge/ more knowledge than the elitist is childish, petty, and comes off as insecure. The insecurity stems from the fact that most people aren’t qualified to be elitists in the first place. The problem with elitism is that no one is perfect. And if I scratch the surface of the elitist facade just a bit, I’m going to find something public- mocking- worthy.

But I won’t.

I wouldn’t want to disappoint my husband.


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The Changes Held Within a Year

It’s been a year and a week since mini Gwinn 100% changed my life. That may sound dramatic to those without children (not to exclude you, but it is just really hard to fathom until it happens to you), but to the others in the parenthood ranks, you get it. The day you meet your little biscuit face to face is the day your perspective on everything changes.

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Sitting in the hospital bed together

When I was playing landlord to this little guy, I imagined what his personality was like. He kicked when I laughed, squirmed and wiggled nonstop when I laid down, and kicked Captain Laser Pants in the face when he laid his cheek on my belly. Back then I thought, “Wow, he’s an angry little sucker, just like his mama!” but now I know how wrong I was. He is the happiest baby I’ve ever met. The slightest tickle or funny face results in an eruption of delicious, angelic laughter. He never stops moving; he is infinitely curious about his surroundings and the faces he sees. Months after he was born, CLP told me a fear he had while I was baking mini Gwinn. He had read studies that proved the mental and emotional state of a mother while pregnant affected the baby’s physical and emotional health. He was concerned that our little bear would be somehow “off” because of my horrible mental state. Miraculously, he’s an incredible child, well adjusted, secure, and very, very funny. He has off days, just like all of us, but I feel so, so blessed to be raising such a precious little man.

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Blue eyes, big hair and opinions! Oh my.

This time last year we were struggling in every sense of the word. The exhaustion of taking care of a newborn (for those with family near you, you are so lucky!), the realization of the financial strain of going from two salaries to one, and reconciling the major changes my body had undergone (and would continue to undergo over the next nine months) made life, erm, difficult. The parents that have been kind enough to be honest with me confided that the first three months were just about surviving, and they couldn’t have been more correct. Captain Laser Pants was finishing the hardest semester of his college career (Calculus 2 and Physics, yuck), working long hours and coming home to a madhouse, with his wife as the chief lunatic. I was investing the stress and anxiety I had into running. Mini Gwinn liked being outside, even then, and I (shockingly) felt good enough to start a four mile run four weeks after I delivered our baby boy.

It’s intense for me to look back on those hard days. The emotion is still fresh, the memories aren’t rose colored. The nurses in the hospital told me I would forget how hard the pregnancy and the first few months would be, and with an easy delivery, I’d want more children, and soon. I laugh, even now, at the thought. Perhaps with “eager moms” (those that planned pregnancy, those that enjoyed pregnancy, those that have a normal body image, etc) the idea of having more children is a positive one. For me, the idea of stretching out over a 36+ week course, feeling gross and grossly sick for the majority of the pregnancy, and the immensely strenuous first three months just doesn’t seem worth it.

Team Gwinn, Christmas 2011. Yowsers.

Team Gwinn, Christmas 2011. Yowsers.

The wild part in all of this? Despite my strong feelings of not wanting more children, I have had several pregnancy dreams (not pleasant ones, but still)  in the past month or so. It could be that many ladies I know are currently pregnant, or just that dumb biological clock ticking, but my subconscious mind is blowing my conscious mind. How a year has changed us. No more double chins, for one thing. But CLP and I seem so much stronger. I know that I am for sure, and not just emotionally. I feel more stable and more unstable all at once. I am strong for my son, and weakened by him. Rather, I am more vulnerable because of him. Give- a- thons for orphaned children make me cry. Scenes in Walking Dead make me cry. Once upon a time, I’d be critiquing the choices of the zombie apocalypse survivors, taking notes on survival tips. Now? I am emotionally involved, I’m putting CLP and I in the place of the main characters and fearing for our son if we had to live in a survival- type scenario.

Everything has changed.

At a wedding, November 2012. Yay for change!

At a wedding, November 2012. Yay for change!

This morning, while shopping with CLP and mini Gwinn, I jokingly asked my husband when I had gotten soft. We both laughed and he commented on the way parenthood has changed us both. I truly don’t mind 99% of the changes (belly skin pleats? I totally mind that). Being a mother has given me an entirely new strength in my life. While every woman has a different path in pregnancy, labor and raising her children, I will say that every good mother (not you, crack addicted mom. You should be shot in the face.) grows as a person in tremendous ways. The change you will experience over the first year will astound you. It certainly amazed me.


Mini Gwinn Turns One!

So, yes, as of late, I’ve been missing in action. Well, mostly just “missing,” not much “action” lately. Some of my absence is to blame on planning a majorly huge first birthday party for mini Gwinn. It has occurred to me that many parents disapprove of throwing a big “first birthday” for the dumb reason of “the birthday baby doesn’t know what is going on”. It is to those people I would like to send a flock of pigeons to poop on their mini-vans. The first birthday party, as all good parents know, is largely a celebration for the new parents’ “survival of the first year”. We, as dutiful parents, make it a child- friendly party, give it an appropriate theme, graciously accept gifts for the birthday child, but everyone there knows it is just as much of a milestone for the baby as it is the parents.

In the spirit of selfishly planning this party, I picked out a theme like six months ago. My favorite very little person book is “The Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. I loved it when I was little, and thanks to Pinterest, I found excellent ideas on ways to make this party kick as-… butt. The good news is that mini Gwinn actually loves this book, so it didn’t seem hugely self centered to make this his party’s theme.

So when I say I started planning months ago, I’m absolutely serious. I picked the theme in March, found the ideas for invitations in July, made the invitations in August, delivered them in September… you get the idea. But, good readers, by spreading the work over months instead of days, the party itself came together (mostly) seamlessly. Rather than desperately grocery shopping for food the day before, almost everything was already finished. I’m going to share with you my super- genius party planning. Prepare to be O-MAZED.

Firstly, let me clarify. I actually came up with next to none of the ideas for mini Gwinn’s party. Secondly, it was completely serendipitous that Target’s dollar section had Hungry Caterpillar items the week I went shopping for goodie bags and accessories for the party. Lastly, if anyone copies anything from my party, I would be honored.

Pottery Barn Kids Invitations – I changed mine slightly, which are mostly visible in my own pictures. Word to the wise: Michael’s craft store sells green pom pom rope! That saved me a lot of time gluing individual pom poms together to make caterpillars. Instead of hand cutting each eye and mouth, I used a hole punch. The hole punch saw a lot of action during the making of the invitations. I went to Michael’s and bought a ream of multi- colored cardstock, used eight or nine colors for confetti dots, four basic colors for the invitation lids, and green for the leaves in the invitation jar. The mason jars were on clearance at Target, so of course I scooped them up. I used the leftover invitations to decorate the tables.

Fun Cheap or Free Party Planning – I used this website as a base for how to plan the party menu. She has a million great ideas. I bought my plates and cups at Costco, napkins at Ikea, utensils and tablecloths at the dollar store, serving trays at the dollar store and clearance from Target, and followed most of this lady’s advice. She even has a table for the type/ amount of food to serve based upon the time of day of your party. Now that I know where to buy party supplies, I will never, ever buy expensive supplies ever again. The amount of money we saved on decorations and serving was redonk.

THE MENU

Planning the menu was a lot of fun. We had 44 adults and 6 kids RSVP for the party, some with dietary restrictions, some with bottomless appetites, and some with discerning palettes (ahem, Luke). The party started at 2, and although that’s the more common lunch time for weekend days, I felt like it was safe to not provide a full meal. With that in mind, I grew up with a mother who cooked for an army of 100 every Sunday lunch, and as a good Southern woman with a Midwestern practicality, I know you can never run out of food at a party, lest you risk public humiliation.

I feel like the crowd you are feeding dictates what you serve. If we had more children at the party, more “kid- friendly” foods would have filled up the spread. Since we had so many adults, I served food according to our guest list.

Hawaiian Sweet Roll Ham & Swiss Sandwiches – I doubled the recipe. How did I keep them warm, you may ask? Redneck heater: giant foil turkey pan from the dollar store, large heating pad on “high” underneath. These sandwiches were a big hit, and trust me, you’ll love them, unless of course you hate food and yourself.

Costco Pinwheel Sandwiches – the tray serves ~30. They are sold at such a reasonable price, and they’re filling, so they’re hard to beat at a party. Kids can handle them, adults like them, and they’re pretty much wonderful.

Mac & Cheese Cups – my own pseudo creation. Velveeta (or Market Pantry) shells and cheese, bacon bits, two or three globs of sour cream, 1 tbsp. minced garlic, lots of shredded cheese. Mix it all in a big pot, then drop two spoonfuls into foil cupcake liners. These can be made the day before the party, shoved in the fridge, and reheated the day of the event. I’m enjoying a re-reheated cup right now. Again, another kid and adult friendly food. Super tasty, and very easy to handle.

Sensible Portions Veggie Straws – these are the baked equivalent of French fries. I filled up a green planter I bought from Target ( 84 cents!), dropped a cup in, and had out paper bags to fill with the straws.

Vegetable Tray with Spinach & Artichoke Dip – self explanatory.

Strawberry and Green Grape Caterpillar Kabobs – I originally had a grandiose idea to stick these in a styrofoam block, add some chocolate covered marshmallows, and make it look like a cute edible arrangement. When that failed, I just laid them on a crystal- esque tray from the dollar store. Pretty simple. Bamboo skewers from Publix, cut off the sharp edges, three or four green grapes and then a big strawberry at the end. They look reminiscent of the main (well, only) character of the book on which the party was based.

Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Juice – Crazy easy recipe. I sliced apples and froze them in a little bit of lemon water to keep them from browning. The drink dispenser looked quite pretty!

Cucumber Water – Plain old water with frozen cucumber slices. Turns out like spa water. My brother said it was too fancy.

Skinny Girl Funfetti Cupcakes – These were gone in MINUTES, people. MINUTES. I don’t know how they tasted, but I heard good things. I did a rough frosting (from the recipe on the website), then dunked the entire head of the cupcake in large nonpareil sprinkles. Very cute look. The cupcake liners were cute dots from Wilton which appropriately matched the large “1” candle.

Most importantly, THE CAKE – my mom made a GORGEOUS birthday cake for mini Gwinn. She has a groovy printer that prints sugar paper, so I asked for this pattern on a white, three layer, 10 inch cake with this filling. This cake was the best birthday cake I’ve ever had. She made cute fondant letters spelling the kiddo’s name, and it turned out to be a beautiful, clean looking cake. Amazingly, this cake actually served everyone at the party. I wanted the cake to resemble the inside cover of the book, which seemed a lot less busy than the rest of the cakes I’ve seen. This was by far my favorite Hungry Caterpillar cake. Thank you, mom!! I think I was her toughest customer yet, because I swear by homemade cake. After her hard work, we all agreed- homemade cakes taste the best, especially when made by mom!

The Smash Cake – I used a little bitty pan and this recipe to make mini Gwinn’s smash cake. No frosting, and he still went at it!

THE PARTY

I ordered balloons from Publix (tip- tell them you don’t want high float. It adds to the cost and the balloons last ~12 hours without them) and strategically placed them in focal points of the main room, specifically, on the back of mini- Gwinn’s high chair, behind the main table, and in our fire pit/ present pit. Between the balloons, the table covers, the food and the kiddos, there was enough color that major decorations weren’t needed.

The Goodie Bag Contents:

For Kiddos Under 2: 1 pair of Hungry Caterpillar socks, one Hungry Caterpillar paper bucket, 4 Hungry Caterpillar crayons, one spiral top, one kazoo or one set of castanets.
For Boys Between 2-4: The above, but instead of kazoo/ castanets, one wooden train whistle
For “Big Kids” Between 4-11: One Hungry Caterpillar reusable bag (dark green, light green or yellow), and age appropriate awesomeness from the dollar bin, like hair ties, army men, stick on mustaches, sunglasses, slinkys and crayons

We also had a “predictions and wisdom” box for guests to fill out predictions for the kiddo’s future, words of wisdom, etc. He’ll get to read them when he turns 18, but Captain Laser Pants and I got a great laugh reading them last night. I put together a small box for the bigger kids with cloud dough, bubbles and coloring pages with crayons outside, just in case it was too crowded in the house (this was used!). My mom made a cute sign that said “come on in!” so people weren’t ringing the doorbell every minute. These were all last minute additions to the party that definitely made a difference.

Needless to say, the party was incredible. THANK YOU to all who were present, all who were there in spirit, for the incredible generosity, the love, support, laughter and friendship. We are beyond blessed, mini Gwinn had an outstanding first birthday party, and we are honored to have shared our son’s first year with all of you.

If you have ideas, thoughts, questions, etc- send them on down the line in the comments!


BatFletch

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High School, Shmigh Shmool

So, in a conversation with a high school friend with whom I’ve recently reconnected (her blog is here), she brought up that our ten year reunion is next summer.

I, in no way, wanted to think about this fact. Shall I list the reasons for you? Well, tough nuggets. I’m doing it anyway.

Reason Number One: I do not like to think that I have been out of high school for ten years. It makes me feel old.

Reason Number Two: There is no single thing I have detested more than high school. I have never in my life loathed something for as long and as vehemently as I have loathed high school.

Reason Number Three: Did you see number two (hehehe, “number two”)?! Do I even need a reason number three?

In case you haven’t picked up on it, I hated high school. It was torturous. I was fat (yes, FAT), I was (am) weird, and I had a limited pool of friends (whom I loved). The people I liked in high school with whom I wanted to stay in touch – you guessed it reader, we still talk. The teachers I liked are friends with me on Facebook. I don’t feel as though I’d be missing much of anything if I went to the ten year reunion.

This conversation started my wheels a’ turning (surprise!). Did you ever see Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion? It is a very funny 90s movie about two women, each 28, who go back to their home town to attend their high school reunion and proceed to lie about the lives they’ve lived for the past ten years. They run into the popular girls, who (almost) all still live in the same town, married men from the same town, and are all still friends. The two protagonists embarrass themselves initially, but then end up rocking out and looking awesome by the end of the movie. They showed up to prove they weren’t still losers, and they end up running their own fashion store by the time the credits are rolling.

Fabulous fashion, humor and a major flashback to 1997. I wasn’t in high school for this movie, for the record.

Neato, right?

In high school I had a few boyfriends (some long term, some short). They were all cute/ talented/ smart- but each of them had one thing in common- quirkiness. When I wasn’t dating someone, the guy I had a crush on was a jock (say what?!). A square jawed, meat head jock. When I heard him talk, it was more like a basset hound “woofing” in a major Southern drawl rather than it was a person formulating words. Totally not my “type” (it’s laughable now, actually). And, since I wasn’t top tier or petite, I’m pretty sure he didn’t even know my name. We only had one class together (it wasn’t like this guy was in the honors classes), but for some reason, I clung to the crush until I was a senior (and I was above high school completely by then).

I don’t want to feel like I have something to prove to the people that made me feel like crap in high school. Yes, everyone had someone that did this to them in high school. If you didn’t, then, congratulations, either you didn’t attend high school, or you were at the top of the food chain. Yay for you. Realistically, I was somewhere towards the lower- middle of the ladder in high school. I skipped my senior prom to go to the comic book store to play cards (and I don’t mean Texas Hold ‘Em). I wore Lisa Loeb style glasses and listened to 90s indie music (a hipster before I knew what a hipster was, apparently). I was certainly not Miss High School- not prom queen, not homecoming queen, not a cheerleader, not a valedictorian- most of the time I didn’t even show up. “Bethany who? Oh, that quiet/ weird choir chick?”

If my attendance in high school was so iffy, why would I attend my reunion?

Ok, a small (and I mean infinitesimal) part of me wants to go. Just so I can wear a really revealing outfit (look at my abs, hookers! Daaaaang!), show up in my fancy car (oh, yeah, that’s right, we’re watching Avatar in the backseat! Daaaang!), introduce everyone to my husband (he’s so hot and clever and he’s not from here! Shablam!), show off some pictures of my kid (daaaaang he’s cute!), talk briefly about the fun career I had before becoming a stay at home mom (say what? Killer job but you left it all to raise a human? Daaaang!), and then drive away (awww snap, she doesn’t live in hickville anymore? Daaaaang!).

Yes, I realize that entire paragraph is significantly more petty than almost anything I’ve ever said in my entire life (and I imagine people still saying “daaaaang”). But the people that ridicule you in high school (to some extent) leave imprints on your view of yourself and the world, at least until you’re adult enough to form your own ideas. I will never forget the day that two boys in my English class called me fat. Even though now one’s a drunk and one’s unemployed (I kind of win on all fronts here), there is still some part of me that wants to rub in their face that as an adult, I am WAY ahead of them. I may have been a loser in high school, but that’s not what really matters, ninjas. I’m awesome now.

My mature side takes over (and I’m sure your mature side has been judging me this entire blog) and reminds my petty little brain of the point I just made- I’m awesome now. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. I’ve traveled, lived in other parts of the country, had a great job, met my amazing husband, and now live a beautiful, blessed life. It’s quite absurd to compare my life with anyone else’s. If anything, I should hope they have the same level of happiness and fulfillment that I have. I don’t live in high school land anymore (I just have nightmares about it, thankyouverymuch).

So, next summer when ticket sales to the grody, moldy Tennessee River Boat 2012 Reunion blah blah blah go on sale, I will most definitely not be purchasing a pair. Instead, I’ll put on some tunes from senior year (my tunes, not the top 40. Hello Mazzy Star and Cocteau Twins!) and dance in the living room with my two favorite dudes. We’ll eat a delicious homemade meal, laugh at the funny things our dogs do, and celebrate the life we’ve created for ourselves.

High school, shmigh shmool.  Adulthood (not O’Doyle) rules.