Saturday, May 31, 2014

{First Birthday} Under the Sea Party: Guests and Photo Booth Pictures

I am continuing on with my (maybe a little too excessive amount of) posts detailing Myles' 1st birthday. So far, I wrote about picking a theme and his photo shoot and what we did on his actual birthday. This post is the first of his party. I have tons of pictures that I want to share on my blog for family and friends to see. Because of that, these first couple of party posts are going to be extremely picture heavy and most likely not that exciting to my blog-world readers and friends. I am apologizing in advance for this, but they are important to me and the main purpose of my blog (capturing memories of my son). So please bear with me and I promise I will be getting to the good stuff soon! Cake and presents, games and food, decor and all of the tutorials should be out by next week! But for now enjoy some Myles' cuteness mixed in with family fun!

  When I shared what what we did on his actual birthday, I talked about how we decided to go back to Illinois for Myles' first birthday, even though we had just moved to California 5 weeks before. This was a no-brainer choice for me because I just had to celebrate Myles' first year with all of our family. The long days of traveling was no fun, but it was 110% worth it to be able to celebrate such a meaningful milestone in my life with all my loved ones. Plus, I knew we wouldn't be back until Christmas (4 months away), so I wanted to get everyone together before we would be gone again (for several this time). The party was everything I could have wanted and more. Next to the birth day of Myles, his 1st birthday party was the second best day of my life. It was filled with so much love, joy, and pride for me; it was truly an incredible day. And it was mostly due to the fact that all sides of our families (Mark's family, my dad's side, my mom's side, and my step-dad's side) showed up to support, love, and spend time with my son. It was particularly a very special event because my step-dad's mother, sister, and her family were all in town from Texas and got to meet Myles for the first time.  

 I also have to give a huge shout out to my mother for everything she did to help with this party; I mean one amazing woman right there! Not only her, but tons of other family helped bring everything together and I cannot thank them enough. (When I get to my tutorials and DIYs I will give more details on who did what). 

This post is pictures of all the guests hanging around and then all of our photo booth pictures below that.

My handsome little man!

 My best friend from High School (and beyond) Megan with her little girl McKenna, who is 8 months older than Myles.

 They both loved the balloons the best!

Myles and his Uncle Matt

Myles with his cousins Ryann and Aubrey 
(those little girls love him and he just soaks up all the attention)

Top left: Myles' Uncle Matt and cousin Ryann
Top right: Mark's family, including his grandma Nyla
Bottom: More of Mark's family; his mom, sisters, and aunt

Top: My dad and Uncle Mark with my great aunt and daughter
Bottom: My cousin and upgraded aunt to Myles Melissa

Top left: Younger cousins playing on the trampoline
Top right: Megan and McKenna eating :)
Bottom: My best friend from childhood (her kids and husband are around somewhere!)

Top left and right: More of my cousins' kids
Bottom left: My awesome brother and his then girlfriend
Bottom right: My aunts Mary and Sue and Uncle Scott

Overview of all the guests!

If you read my first post where I talked about picking a theme, then you already know I decided to go with Under the Sea. It was so fun coming up with ideas and putting everything together. My mom and I had been planning for months and to see it all come together (with the help of my kind and giving family) was a very proud moment for me. This was the first party I ever threw and I can honestly say I was so happy with how it turned out. I wouldn't have done anything differently and that is saying a lot coming from a super type A, perfectionist! One of the DIY projects my family worked on before we came back was a super awesome shark photo booth! I got the idea from this picture I found on Pinterest and then they put their own little spin on it. I love how it turned out! The teeth are my favorite part! (It will be a part of my tutorial post coming soon.)
Unfortunately, this is right about the time the camera on my phone started acting goofy and would randomly take blurry pictures. So sorry for the quality of some of them (luckily this won't happen this year since I now have my big girl camera)!

Photo Booth Pictures:

The Birthday Boy!

Mommy and Daddy with the birthday boy! 
Love his face in the first one.. he was shocked too!

Myles with daddy and his cousin Ryann
Mommy and Myles

Myles with his Uncle Chris (or Unca Tick as Myles calls him)

Of course I had to get in on the fun!

Grandma and Myles
Grandpa and Grandma (with a little creeper Myles)

Left: My cousin Melissa (promoted to Myles' aunt) and her dad Mark
Top right: Myles' great aunt Darla, great-grandma Noreen, and cousin Rheana
Top left: Myles' cousins Ayson, Ryann, and Aubrey

Do you pick themes for your kids' birthday parties? If so, what has been your favorite?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

{First Birthday} Birthday Festivities

I am back with some more first birthday fun. In my first post, I talked about how I decided on a theme and showed you Myles' Birthday Photo Shoot and invitation. I wouldn't consider myself a very traditional mom, but when it comes to milestones I tend to be quite extreme! So this mini-series is going to show just how crazy I get in celebrating Myles. This is my second post filed under Myles' First Birthday, and I may or may not have at least 4 more posts planned! 
*Side note: I already have a board full of pins, 3 pages of lists, and tons of supplies for his 2nd birthday coming up in August!*

Anywho, back to the 1st birthday! Even though we only just moved to California at the beginning of July, we knew we had to go back home for Myles' 1st birthday. A 1st birthday is a pretty big deal in my book and the perfect excuse to bring all of our families together to eat yummy food, have tons of goofy fun, and dote on the cutest little guy around! We flew back on the 13th so we would have a night to relax and recuperate after 12+ hours of traveling, before Myles' big day. 
We settled in at my parent's house, had a little visit, and called it an early night. When we woke up, I got a few shots of the birthday boy while we were getting in our morning snuggle time!

We lounged around for the rest of the morning and then finally got ready because we were meeting my dad for lunch. Around noon we headed up the street to one of my favorite neighborhood cafes. We ate an awesome lunch and loved on the birthday boy.

I have to preface these videos and pictures by saying that up until this point, Myles had never had a sweet treat or dessert of any type. He didn't care for any sort of cookie or chocolate. I tried a few times when he seemed interested but he would either just flat out say no or spit it out after 2 seconds of tasting it. Because of that, I knew there would be no point in getting him a cupcake to eat. So I picked out what I thought we would have the best luck in getting him to try: a carrot cake muffin. And truth be told, I wasn't going to mind one bit if I was going to be the one that ended up having to eat it. I brought a little candle from home and stuck it in the muffin for him!

I guess I should have assumed that he was going to try and reach for the lit candle (duh mom!), but at least I got to it before he did! It seemed like he was pretty excited to see what was on his plate, so I was hopeful that maybe he would eat it! But it went a little something like this:

Not quite what I has envisioned, but he got to get messy and I think he may have actually gotten a bite or two in his mouth.

I am pretty ashamed to admit this, but I have no pictures from the rest of the daytime. And because of that, I am even more ashamed to admit that I really have no idea what we did. I'm guess some playing, a nap, and some more playing... 
When the rest of the household got home, we ate dinner and I let Myles try out another treat for the first time: Jello! I was searching through the kitchen to find something I could put a candle in so we could sing 'happy birthday' to Myles all together, and I knew I stuck gold when I found a little individual sized jello cup.
Apparently, I didn't learn my lesson the first time with the lit candle. I didn't put it far enough away and he tried grabbing it again! This time he got so close that his fingers got a little hot and he freaked out. Luckily he didn't actually touch the center of the flame, but he was a little worked up about it.

But all was right again in the world when Myles got his hands on that jello! He was so picky and selective with his eating at the time, I couldn't believe that he liked it! He was literally shoveling the jello into his mouth and couldn't sallow it fast enough!
After getting cleaned up from dessert, we let Myles open up a present that his great-aunt dropped off because she wasn't going to be able to make it to his party. He was really into the card (I think it had a dinosaur on it) and was genuinely intrigued by the opening of his present. That made me even more excited for his party and to be able to watch him open all of his presents!
Then we got ready for bed, but before the night was over, I had sneak in a little first birthday selfie photo shoot. Then it was off to dreamland for Myles and DIYing for the momma!

Do you celebrate the actual birthday as well as have a party? Or just pick one? 
What are some of your birthday traditions for your kids?

Don't forget to come back to check out the actual party and see if all my hard work paid off!

Monday, May 26, 2014

{Think Outside the Toy Box} Glow Sticks: Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling

Welcome to the first week of the Think Outside the Toy Box Summer Fun Series!
If you are here for the first time or missed Friday's post, you can check out the Introduction the Think Outside of the Toy Box for all the details of this awesome new series. 

Now on to this week's fun with:


This week's item was a tough for me! I wasn't too worried about engaging Myles because he has a pretty big fascination with glow sticks, so I figured he would love whatever we did with them. However, I wanted to start this series off with something that would BLOW YOUR MINDS... and well... I feel that I fell a little short of my expectations. I seriously racked my brain for days and even went so far as to ask my boyfriend for ideas! In the end, the right side of my brain totally failed me on this one. But I will say that both Myles and I had a pretty good time, even if it wasn't the most creative!  

Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling

What You Will Need:
1 container of 10-15 glow bracelets (found at the dollar store or Target's One Spot)
10 (empty) plastic juice bottles, rinsed out and dried
1 small to medium sized ball

For this game to be played to its full potential, wait until it is dark outside or set it up in a room that can be made mostly dark. Also the best ball to use is one that is heavy enough to knock the bottles over, but light enough to be rolled by your little one. The first ball we used was a little too light. It worked okay, but when we switched to a heavier ball (toddler sized basketball), it worked a lot better.

1. Break the 10 glow sticks, shake them, put one in each bottle, and then screw the top back on. To be honest, this was Myles' favorite part. He loved breaking the sticks and putting them in each different bottle. This entertained him more than the actual bowling! That's a toddler for ya!

2. Set up the 10 plastic bottles (with glow sticks in them) in bowling pin formation.

3. Turn off the lights (or set them up outside at night time). You probably need a little light, but make it as dark as possible without endangering you/your children!

4. Play! 
I wasn't able to get any very good action shots because I was having to set the bottles back up every 5 seconds. And then Myles thought it would be fun to just kick them all down instead of using the ball.

Variations: Use less bottles if you don't have ten. Use plastic 2 liters, or for a small version, use 1 liter pop bottles. Put 2 or more glow sticks in each bottle.

After our bowling, it was bed time, so we used the rest of the glow sticks to take a glow-in-the-dark bath. We just used the 5 we had left over from the pack, but I think it would have been better if we used more.

So there you have it: week one of the Think Outside the Toy Box Summer Fun Series is in the bag! Also don't forget to check out what all of the other ladies put together for this week's item in the link-up below. 
And if you have a post (new or old) that you created showcasing glow sticks in a kid's project, craft, game, experiment, etc., submit it below as well. No post this week? No problem; join us next Monday when we will be using plastic pop bottles! 
Also just in case you want to get a head start, here is the complete list for the coming weeks:
June 2 - Plastic Soda Bottles
June 9 - Paper Grocery Bags
June 16 - Kool-Aid
June 23 - Ice Cream Cones
June 30 - Pool Noodles
July 7 - Wax Paper
July 14 - Puzzle Pieces
July 21 - Paper Cups
July 28 - Plastic Milk Jugs

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

{First Birthday} Photo Shoot

This is this first post in a mini-mini-series chronicling Myles' 1st Birthday! 
I started planning his first birthday when he was about 9 months old. I was so excited, I couldn't wait to pick a theme and start pinning ideas. Being a thrifty momma, it's always best to have time on my side. The more time I have to plan and buy, the more chances I have to get deals. So for me, three months was the perfect amount of time to bring my ideas and plans to fruition on a budget. 
First things first: the theme. Since Myles wasn't really into any characters yet, I crossed all of those options off of my list right away. He didn't have too many other interests yet either, so it was a pretty narrow field to choose from. Of course, his number one favorite was balls, so I thought about a sports theme. I also tossed around the idea of pirates, but ultimately, I decided to go with a water theme. His birthday is in the hottest month of the year and he was showing definite signs of being a water baby (like his momma). He loved his swimming class and playing in his kiddie pool. He was also a big fan of fish. The plastic fish in the pictures below was his first favorite bath toy for months. When he was still a tiny babe, that little fish made him laugh so hard in the tub. He even had a fish as his first pet. So something based around water was the obvious option. As we began finalizing all of the details, the theme became more specifically 'Under the Sea'. I can't wait to share with you all of the fun ideas we came up with, but we will start with his invitation and photo shoot .

I knew I wanted to create the invitations online. It is so much easier that way; type it once and have as many printed as you need. Plus, you can get them just how you like (mostly). I used Snapfish, and picked out a pre-made template. It wasn't perfect, but I liked it well enough. I was getting down to the wire with time, so I just went with one that I liked the best out of the top ones I picked out. I also knew that I wanted to make one that was mostly pictures. Since we have a lot of family and friends that live out of town and wouldn't be able to make it to his party, I wanted to have the invitation double as his first year pictures. It was half as less work for me and everyone was able to get some updated pictures of him even if they wouldn't be able to come to the party. 

I didn't have much time between deciding to do the pictures and leaving for California, so the whole set up and actual shoot was a bit rushed. I also just used my moms point and shoot camera, so they aren't the best quality. Plus, it was super hard to get him to stay still long enough to get anything good. He had fun though and we got enough decent shots to make up the invitation. Also this is the only real beach (off of a river) that we have in our area, so we had to make due!

This is my favorite of all the pictures. We have it as an 8x10 in Myles' playroom.

Then the shirt came off:

And he's done:

I didn't think to screenshot the invite or take a picture of the real thing, so this is a picture from the computer screen. Bad quality, but you get the idea.

Don't forget to come back and check out how we celebrated his birthday!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monthly Favorites: Months Eleven & Twelve

When it comes to being a new mom, "free time" no longer exists. And if by some amazing miracle you happen to somehow get a couple of minutes to yourself, I doubt researching baby products is on the top of your list. Whenever my son is coming to a new age and needing new products, I heavily rely on my fellow mommy bloggers' recommendations. No need to waste precious 'you time' trying to navigate through the thousands of products out there only to find out they're poor quality or useless. So I decided to do my own monthly favorites posts to help out my fellow mommies!

I will also let you in on any deals or money saving tips with each product!

Monthly Favorites: Months Eleven & Twelve

Monthly Favorites: Months Eleven & Twelve by julia-crystal on Polyvore

1. Latt Table: I know this table is pretty popular in the blog world. A quick search on Pinterest and you will be barraged by makeovers as far as the eye can see. And there's plenty of reasons why: the main one being the price. At only $20, you can't go wrong. Your kids jump up and down on it, your DIY didn't go as planned, it gets colored all over... I mean, you can't really get mad when you only spent $20 on it. If it's owned by a child, there is a huge chance it's going to get ruined anyway. No point in spending a ridiculous amount of money when it's used for play. Even at the low price, it is still pretty good quality. We've had ours for almost a year now and everything is still intact. The size is perfect and the table has enough room for most any play: drawing, building, crafting, reading, and even snacking! It really is a great purchase and my top pick for a children's table. I happened to get mine for free when my boyfriend was buying a couch off of Craigslist. I had been eying it for a couple weeks, when he randomly brought it home one day without even knowing I wanted it. I was super excited and couldn't wait to DIY that baby. If you haven't seen what I did to it, checkout out our Latt Table Makeover. Even if I hadn't gotten it for free, I would have paid full price for this one; worth every penny.

2.  Summer Infant Sure And Secure Custom Fit Gate: When we moved into our new California house, we had a lot of baby proofing to do. With tons more space, rooms, and a second story, we needed to keep Myles contained to certain areas. After we decided to designate the formal living room to be Myles' playroom, we had to figure out how to block it off. It was no easy task as it is a huge open area right off of the front door. I could have used a regular sized gate if I put it up near the dinning room, but that would have made the stairs accessible to Myles. In that case, I would have needed two separate gates, which would have been more of a pain for us adults. So my mission was to find a gate large enough to fit a 10 1/2 foot entrance. It was actually quite easy because after hours of research, I only found one that would work. So the good part was that I didn't have to make a decision, the bad part was the price! $95 on a baby gate is a little extreme for me, but there was no other way around it. Mark could have made one for cheaper, but we were renting and didn't want to put too many holes in the walls. So I sucked it up and bought this gate. It is hardware mounted, so we had to put a couple tiny holes in the wall, but pressured mounted would have never worked with Myles. I still think it's a bit overpriced, but I will say that it is great quality and works perfectly for the space. It can go as wide as 12 feet and is adjustable to fit any weird or awkward spaces. It is very strong and sturdy, but easy to move and adjust. I also like that the walls are made of mesh and are soft versus the typical metal or wood. We've had it for almost a year and I can tell it has tons more life left in it.

3. Safety 1st Essentials Child Proofing Kit: This is just a very basic child proofing kit, but it has worked well enough for us. The outlet covers work great: easy to put in and take out, yet Myles can't remove them. We had to buy an extra pack of them because the set didn't come with enough; not a big deal though because they are so inexpensive. We also had to buy another box of the cabinet/drawer locks because we kept finding more places we didn't want Myles to be able to get into. These weren't hard to install, a little trying to get them lined up, but nothing too bad. Mark used his drill, so that made it a lot easier. Of course they are little annoying to open, but that goes for any cabinet/drawer locks in my opinion. It only took about a week to get used to having them and now I don't even have to think twice about pushing the latch down to open them up. Again they are very expensive and keep Myles out of places he doesn't need to be, so that makes me happy! We haven't had to use the door knob handles yet. Myles can reach the handles, but he can't get a good enough grip to turn the knob. We will probably have to test them out soon though!

4. Munchkin Two Snack Catchers: These are also a pretty popular item with my fellow mommies! When I first heard about them, I was a little skeptical. So many products promise so many things, and I've learned to not trust most of them. When it comes to the 'no spilling' claim, I haven't found many to actually hold up. Of course, it's probably impossible to be perfect in that realm, but these catchers come pretty close. My son is one to have a habit of dumping all his snack out of the bag when he doesn't want anymore, so these are a must in our house. He can easily get out little snack pieces like goldfish, puffs, cheerios, and cut up fruit, but when he turns the container over, they don't all come spilling out (like he wishes they would)! It is possible to dump the snack out if you turn it upside down and hold the flaps open, but luckily he hasn't figured that out yet!

5. Toy Story Pull String Woody: Myles knew nothing about Toy Story or Woody before I got him this guy. I picked him up at a garage sale because I love Toy Story and was hoping someday Myles would too. I got it when he was 10ish months old and packed it away because he had no interest in it at the time. I brought him back out once we moved and he slowly began to take interest in him. Once he figured out how to make him talk by pulling his string, he loved him. He would set him right next to him in his chair whenever he wanted to watch a movie. It only took a couple of months of constant pulling before his pull string stopped working :( so I plan on getting him a new one for his birthday this year. He has kind of moved on after about 6-7 months with him, but I want him to have a new, working one for the future. (I've become re-obsessed with Toy Story right along with Myles)!

6. Carters Infant Boys 4-Piece Pajama Set: I can't say enough good things about these pajama sets. These sets come with one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, and two different patterned shirts. I love these sets so much because they can be mixed and matched to be worn for any season. They can be used all year round based on the varying temperatures in your area. For us, this set works the best, but they have tons of other options based on your needs. Check out the other 4-piece sets with 2 pants, 2 shorts, long-sleeved shirts, mixed shirts, etc. And of course, with Carter's the patterns are super cute and the prices are just right. I actually bought the couple of sets I have on major sale at Target, but they have great deals on these at pretty much any Carter's retailer. 

7. Peek-A Who?: Myles moved on from last months favorite book Ten Little Ladybugs onto this one. Both are books my aunt picked up for him a while back. Once he started to show more interest in books, I brought out some of my massive stash. He instantly took an extreme liking to this one! I also love this book tons. It's short, sweet, super cute, and keeps Myles' attention. When we first started reading it, he loved giving himself a big ole kiss in the mirror at the end... every single time! He wouldn't give me kisses, but boy did he love that cute little boy he saw in the mirror! We still read it, but now he does most of the reading because he has it memorized. He still gets so excited though! Really great book!

8. Junior Pro Golf Set: Myles got this play golf set for his birthday. Since he still loved any/all things balls, I knew this would be a hit! It was by far his favorite birthday gift. Once I showed him what to do, he would knock that ball around the kitchen all day long. And I had a blast watching him try so hard. I was actually quite impressed with his skills; he's got better hand-eye coordination at 12 months old than I ever had (although that's not saying much!). This is also a really great way for him to work on his fine and gross motor skills while having fun. An all around win in our house!

9. Schwinn Trailblazer Double Bicycle Trailer: Mark bought this bike trailer at Goodwill for $40 before Myles and I even got to California. It was such a good deal that he couldn't pass it up. This thing is amazing and Myles loves sitting in it for bike rides. I feel that he is definitely safe ridding in it and that is the most important feature. He gets strapped in with a harness and a lap buckle. Plus there is a bug and weather shield (which we use when it is windy). It is really roomy inside and has space enough for two riders. It has places for drinks and such and a big spot in the back for anything you want to bring on your ride: toys, picnic lunch, beach stuff, etc. Mark installed it on his bike, so I don't know what level of difficulty it is to put on, but I imagine it isn't too hard. Mark is also the one who rides with him the majority of the time. I just feel that he is more coordinated and better at maneuvering out of danger than I would be. I did ride once with him on Mark's bike and it wasn't too bad. It took a little adjusting to get used to the new turn radius and width of my cargo, but I did okay. I had a couple curb checks and other than an 'uh-oh, sorry' Myles wasn't bothered. He stays very tightly in place with both the harness and lap belt, but I think I will stick to letting Mark take the reigns on this one!

What toddler items are on the top of your list? What are your opinions of these products?