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Jessie’s 10th Bruffday Paw-ty

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I’ve always wanted to throw a birthday party for Jessie and somehow never found the energy while she was our only child, but managed to pull it off when another little someone was commanding most of my time and attention.  I felt like she really deserved it this year since she had to start playing second fiddle to the human puppy after so many years of being #1.

I created the invitations on PicMonkey (I’ve been using the free version for about a year now, although it’s only $5 a month if you want to use the premium features), and had them developed as pictures at Walmart in an hour for 16 cents each.  I bought a box of envelopes on sale that fit 4×6 pictures and use them every time I create invitations or cards on PicMonkey, so if you calculate the total cost it’s still less than a quarter each – much less than you’d usually pay for custom invitations and cards! I’ve become very crafty with my frugality since becoming a SAHM. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it – necessity has bred a lot more creativity in me than I previously thought possible.

I wanted to spend the least amount of money possible while still having a nice party, so we served hot dogs, which I thought very appropriate for a dog party.

I had a lot of fun with the food table and coming up with dog-related names/signs for everything.  I bought the majority of my supplies at Dollar Tree where, you guessed it, everything is $1.  I got this wire basket there, and wrapped $1 napkins from Walmart around the $1 plasticware from Dollar Tree and then made napkin rings out of  strips of brown paper sacks that I also got from Dollar Tree.  I used the paper from the sacks to make my signs, and also as party favor bags, so I got a lot of use out of them and still have quite a few left for future use.

I found these large plastic dog food bowls at Dollar Tree, and they were the perfect size to serve food out of.  Paw-tato Chips, Puppy Chow, and Kibble & Bits.  For the latter, I mixed cheese balls with Cheddar Chex Mix that I purchased.

I got most of my ideas on Pinterest (click here to see my Doggy Stuffs board that has lots of party ideas and more), but the Paw-sta Salad was totally my idea. :)  I used the Tangy Pasta Salad recipe I posted Monday, using paw and bone-shaped pasta that I got from my SIL as a gift a few years ago (I also threw in a can of sliced black olives, just for fun).  I was so happy to finally put it to good use!  It was a hit both for the cuteness factor and taste – I got more compliments on it than anything else.

Tee hee. :)

I really had fun making dog-friendly cupcakes, or PupCakes, if you will.  These are totally my own recipe and turned out so great – Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting and bacon “sprinkles.”  Huge hit with the pups!

The humans enjoyed Cookies ‘n Cream Cupcakes after the doggies had their “cake.”  I made the paw prints using mini Oreos and chocolate chips.  If you’ve never made this cake, you need to.  I’m not an Oreo fan and even I love it.  Seriously good cake, peeps.

Jessie enjoyed having friends over, especially her BFF, Doc (pictured above).  But since most of the dogs are older and it was pretty warm, they mostly enjoyed just lazing in the pool and shade.  If you are going to have an outdoor dog party in summer, you really need to have lots of shade, lots of water to drink, and a kiddie pool to help them cool off is a great idea too!

Jessie got so spoiled with gifts – lots of toys and treats!

And we sent all the doggies home with party favor bags filled with toys & homemade dog treats.

It was a great time for both furry and human guests, and I’m really glad we gave Jessie the celebration she deserved.

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

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My baby is turning into a little boy!

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Joshua has been developing and growing so much since I posted when he was a wee five months. Now he’s a big 6 1/2 months and this is what he’s accomplished in the last month and a half…

He’s fallen in love with Jessie!  This photo was during a week-long stay at Grandma & Grandpa Miller’s and is the only one I have of them together, though it doesn’t reflect his love for her.  Every time she goes past him now, he gets a huge smile on his face and reaches for her.  She doesn’t like to be touched by him yet (he’s a bit grabby) but will allow it if I’m there to help make sure he’s gentle.  She rarely licks us but she licks him every chance she can get so on some level, she must like him…or at least likes the way he tastes. :)  Here’s a video of the first time he pet her (sorry it’s dark), and you can also see her taking advantage of his nearness by giving him a tongue bath lol:

He started rolling over from back to tummy while we were on vacation there, and is now sleeping not only without a swaddle, but on his side or belly because he refuses to be on his back any more and rolls immediately when put in his crib.  When I took the above picture, I felt a little catch in my heart because it was the first time I really felt like I was already losing my baby.  He looks like such a little boy in his shorts and T-shirt, rolled onto his side without his arms in the straight-jacket look of a swaddle.

He found his feet and loves to hold on to them while he’s drinking his bottle, or laying on the floor, or the bed, basically he holds them a lot. It’s pretty cute. :)

He’s become interested in other kids, including himself!  He loves looking at his reflection and smiles like this every time.  Whenever a child five or under is in his vicinity, he is mesmerized.  It’s about time to start having baby play dates. Here’s a video of his first baby lunch date:

He learned to read! OK, maybe not, but I had to include this pic of him checking out my Taste of Home magazine. He’s my little foodie baby.

Speaking of my foodie baby, here he is taking his first spoonful of real food (rice cereal).  He was ready for it!  When he saw it coming he grabbed it and insisted on feeding himself.  LOL!  This was before we even had baby spoons and his high chair was still in the box.  We are doing a combination of pureed/mushed foods and soft foods like peas, zucchini microwaved and sliced into coins, and banana chunks.

This way of feeding a baby is called Baby Led Weaning, which I discovered through other blogging mothers and they had such success with it I thought I’d give it a try.  I have to say, he and I both prefer when he can hold his own food and feed himself.  It’s less messy (so far, I’ve heard in the end it’s about the same) and less work, and I don’t have to fight him to get him to eat.  He seems to enjoy it much more when he’s in charge.  He doesn’t want to take food from a spoon much any more. Here’s a video of him chewing on a bread stick -he didn’t eat it but he sure had fun using it as a teether! lol

 

While I’m not ready for him to be a little boy, I have to say he’s more and more fun the older he gets. I don’t want him to grow up too fast, but I’m looking forward to all the fun we’re going to have along the way.

Joshua at 5 months

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How do I have a 5-month-old? I remember looking at 6-month sized clothing and thinking he would never fit it. And now he’s starting to wear it!

I took an internet “fast” last week and used it to clean up my house. Unfortunately that isn’t reflected in these videos and you can see plenty of clutter, but hopefully the adorable baby will distract you from it!  I included one before and after photo from my cleaning after the videos for your viewing pleasures.  I love having a clean house!  Almost as much as this baby.

LOL, I almost forgot the before and after!

 

A Brony Birthday Party

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My little sister (that’s her with the black ponytail) threw a My Little Pony birthday party for her boyfriend last week.  That’s right, he’s a Brony.  A brother who likes My Little Pony.  I love that he’s secure enough in his masculinity not to have any shame about it!  He was so excited about the party and while she was taking millions of pictures of him posing with ponies, he declared it to be the best birthday party of his life.

Although I’ve sworn off decorated cakes (multiple times), she talked me into making the cake for his party.  (What convinced me was her offering a really strange amount of money – not like $20 or $30, but $32.73.  It was so weird and funny I had to say yes! lol)  It was a super-simple cake and I thought I’d share how to make one if you ever have need of a rainbow or MLP cake.

You only need a round single layer of cake.  If you make it in a 10″ pan, a cake mix will fit in it and the finished cake will serve up to 16 people, although it will be pretty difficult to serve.  I made mine in an 8″ pan and baked the rest of the batter into cupcakes, so this cake only served 8 but with the cupcakes it would have served 20.  You will also need red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and sky blue frosting for the rainbow.  Pack the frosting into disposable pastry bags, preferably fitted with couplers, though you can just slice the tip off the bag to pipe the frosting directly onto the cake out of the bag if you don’t own a lot of couplers or don’t want to buy them. If you are going to make this into a My Little Pony cake, you will also need extra green for the grass (I used a lighter green than in the rainbow). You’ll need some flower sprinkles (I used these) and a grass tip (Wilton #233, and ignore all the other tips – I didn’t end up using them).  If you want to make a pond, you’ll need some clear piping gel and sky blue gel coloring (available at Walmart by the cake decorating supplies in the arts & crafts section).

Slice your cake in half and squeeze/spread frosting onto one side. I made too much red so that’s the color I chose to use.

Sandwich the halves together.

Place the cake cut-side down to your platter or cake board.

Squeeze frosting onto the cake, starting at the middle with the red (I had to build it up a little to make it higher since it dipped down), making stripes in this order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  I just squeezed it out from my coupler without a tip and I thought this made the perfect width of frosting for each stripe.

Repeat down the other side and fill in the bottom of both sides with sky blue frosting to make it look like you’re looking through to the sky underneath the rainbow.

If you’re going to make a MLP cake, figure out where you’re going to put the ponies, then pipe a blue border to outline where your pond(s) will be.  Using your (clean) finger, spread a thin layer of blue frosting over the platter or cake board so that the silver (or other color of the board) doesn’t show through the piping gel.  Tint enough piping gel to fill the pond(s) with sky blue gel color and spread into the pond, creating some ripple effects with your spoon.

Pipe grass onto the rest of the platter and when you run out of light green, use up the rest of your darker green, then panic and use up your yellow.  Then realize there is no other color left that is suitable for grass so be really strange and spread some orange over the rest of the platter, hoping it won’t look too weird if you write a birthday message across it.  Sprinkle your flower sprinkles all over the grass.

Realize the orange is just wrong, and scrape it all off, rejoicing that you found some extra blue you had set aside in a bowl.  Use it to pipe a border for another lake and repeat the steps to create a second lake.  Rejoice that you saved a little bit of white frosting and tint it green to go around the lake, then steal some of the flower sprinkles to put on the new grass.  Much better.

To serve, cut it in half down the middle, then cut each half in half, angling toward the center.  Essentially, you are cutting it the way you would if it was right-side up, but from the side instead of the top.  Cut each thick slice in half and use a spatula or cake server to draw out one of the bottom pieces (most likely two pieces will come out and you’ll have to pull the top piece off onto another plate.  Once the first piece is out, serving the others is pretty easy as they just start falling onto your spatula.

TASTE THE RAINBOW!

Whoa. It’s like a rainbow…IN MAH MOUTH.

 

Dear Joshua

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Dear Joshua,

Today you are 18 weeks, 3 days old. You have changed so much in your short life already, I can’t believe it.  You’ve more than doubled your birth weight and grown over 6 inches. You’ve gone from crying through diaper changes, to grunting and snorting through them (oh I miss those snorts!), to smiling through them (which is a pretty good trade-off, even if you don’t do the snorts any more).  My still baby has turned into a wriggling delight, making diaper changes challenging, and bedtime hilarious.  You push up and back with your heels while I change your diaper, then curl your knees upward toward your chest and bite your hands, making a little “ach” sound. As soon as I get the diaper back in place under your bottom, you push backward again and repeat the process.  When I put you to bed for the night, you do the same curling inward thing, pulling your hands up inside the swaddle toward your mouth, even though your swaddle prevents you reaching it.  Then you give me your biggest smile and start wriggling and kicking inside your swaddle.  I have to leave you to kick yourself to sleep, because as long as I stand over you, you are kicking and wriggling and smiling.  I always want to laugh, but I resist to avoid rousing you any more than you already are, so that you can fall asleep as quickly as you always do.

“What’s with all the flashing lights?” With Grandpa Miller

Though for naps, you aren’t nearly as cheerful or obliging.  You almost always cry when it’s time for a nap, and while I’ve become pretty good at soothing you, it’s still nerve-frazzling and heartbreaking to hear that cry for any length of time.  I sometimes have to give up on getting you to take your naps, especially the afternoon naps, and let you skip them, but always pay for it later.  On those days, you are so tired by bedtime that you have a complete meltdown and soothing you takes a long time and I have to pull out all the tricks I’ve learned that help to calm you down. What works better than anything else is holding you sideways, your chest to my chest, and bouncing you up and down while rocking side to side or front to back, and then popping a pacifier in your mouth as soon as you settle enough to take it. The pacifier isn’t always needed, but can help if you’re extra inconsolable.  You do this cute thing with your mouth every time when you finally settle down. Your eyes drift closed, slowly open, close again, and you pucker your lips and stick your tongue behind them, stick it out a little bit, and then boom.  You’re out.

In the last couple weeks you’ve changed more quickly & dramatically than at any other time.  You are suddenly so much more interested in the world around you, and in the toys I present you with, reaching for them, hitting them, shaking them, biting and sucking on them.  I accidentally deleted the video of you first showing interest in a toy, but thankfully uploaded it to Facebook first, so you can watch yourself playing with the giraffe toy from Grandma Miller that hangs over your changing table here (click “HD” at the bottom of the video to show a more clear version).

Your talking Tow Mater toy from Grandma Miller kept you happy with tummy time a lot longer than Mama ever could:

And here you are enjoying your ball rattle from Great Aunt Dorothy for the first time:

Even better, you’ve finally started to roll over, and I got my first giggles out of you this week!  We visited your Daddy’s family and Grandma Miller got the best giggles out of you by far!  She made you giggle, which  made us giggle, which made you giggle, and it just went on and on.  I was too caught up in the joy of it to think about taking a video, but hopefully I’ll catch that soon.  I want to capture the sound of your giggle before your voice changes again.  Already your cry is so much deeper than a couple months ago, when everyone used to think you were a cat meowing when you cried.

Carson holds his baby cousin while Auntie Joan eagerly awaits her turn (again). :)

Great Aunt Lois gets a turn. You’re still not used to Mom’s new camera! (My old one finally bit the dust after taking many videos of you :) )

Thanks to you, I haven’t written a Thankful Thursday in months.  Because they would all be about you and since I talk about you more than anything else now, I’m afraid my blog would be just way too redundant to gush about our little blessing every Thursday.  Maybe some day I will move beyond my gratitude for you and remember there are other things to be thankful for, but for now I don’t need or want to.  I’m sure you know by now how much we wanted you and how much we love you, and you’re probably sick of hearing it, but it will always be true.  Last week you were dazzling us with your usual morning cheer (you are crazy happy in the mornings, and it makes us a little less grumpy to be faced with such such huge smiles when we’re just wanting a little more sleep), and I told your Dad that we’re so lucky.  He said, “I know.  I knew that when we found out he had a brain on the sonogram.”  You know Dad. :)  Hopefully by the time you read this our standards for what impresses us will have grown a little, and you have been inspired by our expectations to do more than just exist.  Which is all we really require of you right now.  Your mere existence is heaven.

Love, Mom

A budding musician?

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Joshua may not be able to play the guitar or form words well enough to sing yet (not that he doesn’t try though, and it’s too cute!), but I think he’s doing pretty good with his musician impressions. I think he waits until he’s in the right outfit to break them out, too.

Here are the videos from the past month. I’ve been trying to keep them shorter so they’re easier to watch.

If you don’t like hearing babies cry, you might want to skip the first 45 seconds of this one, but the ending is so cute you have to see it. :)

We had a coupon

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I kind of hate coupons.  Coupons lead me buy things I normally wouldn’t buy, so although it seems like I’m saving money, I’m really just spending money I wouldn’t have spent if I didn’t have the coupon.  In the case of a photo coupon I printed out for Portrait Innovations, which was the opposite situation in that I did want to buy pictures and it was a very good deal, I was led to buy so many pictures, I have no idea what I’m going to do with them all and now we are broke.  But unlike when I use a coupon to buy a huge bag of chocolate, this was so worth it. :)  Enjoy the cause of our poverty.

Joshua’s been working on his Elvis lip since he was just a few weeks old.  He also just started to sing with us at church (and I kid you not, his coos were on key), so we may have a future “King” on our hands. ;)

“I don’t always wear hats, but when I do, women find me irresistible.”

“Your story’s all full of holes, Louis, and soon you will be too.”

“How you doin’?”

If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear he was a shameless flirt! ;)

Love his goofy grin.

Angel baby pose. :)

And just for fun, here’s one of the ultra-horrible ones.

Priceless. :)

Notes on Joshua: he was 14 weeks in these photos, now 15 weeks. Where does the time go?! He has his four month shots next Monday. Not looking forward to that. :( He is smiling more and more and I am waiting for giggles. He does little chuckles but I want full out laughter. I really suck at tummy time and pretty much only do it by putting him on his tummy on my chest while I’m leaning back on the couch because he fusses the least that way, but somehow he’s gaining strength in his neck and is able to hold his head up for quite a while despite my suckage.  I think he’ll be able to keep it up when the doc tests it next week (it’s cute, he holds him up over his head like a flying baby to see if he can keep his head up. He almost made it last month but dropped it after a few seconds). He’ll also get his bilirubin tested and I’m sure it’s normal by now, or it better be! Also, he hasn’t peed on me during a diaper change in at least a month – yay! :)  Also, it looks like his newborn eye color has turned to blue which took me by surprise as most everyone agreed his dark color looked like it would turn to brown. Yay for blue eyes like Daddy!  (And lashes like Momma’s) My little stud muffin. :)

Maximum Cuteness Level: attained


A few of his many faces :)

My Mom always said babies reach their maximum cuteness at three months because they’re still fairly small, but have had enough time to grow into their looks.  Joshua is almost three months now and it’s hard to imagine him getting any cuter, but it seems that he does get cuter every day.  I may or may not be outrageously biased, however. :)

Good news on his bilirubin (jaundice), it went down from 5 to 2.7 in just a week.  We did have an appointment yesterday but since it’s on the decline, the doctor wanted to wait until his four-month check up to test it again because it’s not even at a level that they would treat for.  He just wants to make sure it keeps going down.  Yay for not needing a specialist! You can see how clear his skin is in the photo below, and his eye whites are finally white!  He has just a bit of yellow left at his hairline.

This month he has definitely found his voice, and I included two videos at the end (the first and third one) where you get to hear it.  I feel like he’s finally a “real baby” as I call it – one that I can interact with and does real baby stuff like coo and smile and laugh.  I love it!

He’s not into toys yet, but does like to hold things and if I give him something soft, he seems to enjoy clutching it to himself.

One toy he does enjoy is his jungle gym from cousin Andrea.  He’s not purposely reaching up to hit the danglies, but he moves a lot while staring up at them and when he does hit the lowest one, he likes to watch the movement.  It’s amazing how staring up at three dangling things can be so enthralling – I’ve put him underneath it quite a lot and it just never gets old for him.  He also loves staring up at things we hang over the changing table – first a blankey with tags on it and now a sensory giraffe toy from Grandma Miller.  I keep thinking he’s going to start getting bored with the same old things, but I guess living in a world for only three months, everything every day would seem so new.

My favorite photos this month (both from last week):

Catch you soon with more recipes – I’ve now got quite a few to share and hope I have the time to do so soon!  Here are the videos from this last month if you care to watch.  Enjoy!

Joshua loves to jump, although you wouldn’t know it from his face, which is always so serious when he does it, but he gets so intense about it that I think he must enjoy it to do it so much once I hold him in position and we start. Anyway, my camera is dying on me and it’s really hard to capture a complete video and this is the worst video because it cut out all his really intense, good jumping, but you do get to see a few little jumps on it. :)

I quit

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Yep, I did it.  I resigned last Wednesday and I’m officially a stay-at-home Mom now!  I went back to work Tuesday and Wednesday to make enough to pay back some leave I took and hadn’t earned, and am so glad I did because it gave me the chance to say a lot of goodbyes.  And it was hard.  I was postal (lol) for almost ten years and although my work environment wasn’t conducive to forging friendships, somehow I managed to forge a few over those years and not seeing those faces every day makes me sad.  But staying home with my little dude makes me happier than I am sad not to be there. Joshua wins!  I’m so happy, and so fulfilled.

Joshua is nine weeks old now and it’s hard to believe.  Time is flying!  He’s getting bigger all the time and has outgrown all the stuff he was wearing the first month.  He’s now 12 lbs and 22 3/4″ – up almost 3 lbs and 3 inches since his one month check up.  He had to get his shots which was awful, and he also had to have blood drawn (also awful) to check his bilirubin since he’s still a bit yellow. It’s still a bit elevated (5 and they want it at 1 or less) so he’ll have to see a specialist if it’s not lower by Friday.  It was nice and warm this last weekend so we took him our for a sunshiney stroll both days.  I’m really hoping we won’t have to go to a specialist about his jaundice.  I just want that over with and behind us! Jaundice be gone!

The biggest update is that Joshua now really smiles!  OK, not frequently, just randomly, but finally he’s given me a few non-gas-related smiles.  The last video has smiles in it, unfortunately they are gas related as you will see and hear (lol) at the end, but he does smile like this without being gassy and it’s awesome.  I even got my first giggle yesterday. Be still my heart!

And here are the latest videos.  Sorry for the random and spaced out postings – I guess I’m not quite up to getting on a regular blogging schedule yet.  But I’m at least cooking and baking again so I have some more recipes to share as soon as I can! :)

I thought my boob was my baby

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People have asked if I’ve had any postpartum craziness.  Well, yes, but I don’t think it’s the usual kind.  I didn’t have any depression or blues, though I was more prone to tears the first couple weeks (especially with our little guy back in the hospital – that made me cry a lot!), and I didn’t get too crazy, but I did think my boob was my baby at one point. Yup.

For some reason almost every night for the first month, I would wake up thinking Joshua was in bed with us, and then I couldn’t find him and would wake Dennis up in my search for him.  He has slept in his crib from day one so I have no idea why this kept happening.  Sometimes I’d wake up thinking I was holding him and would be cradling my boob, thinking it was his head.  For reals.  Sometimes I’d wake up and stare at the back of Dennis’ head and stroke it, thinking he was Joshua.  (I think this is partially justified since they both have old man hair that gets totally crazy when they sleep on it.)  Sometimes I’d stroke his hand and wonder how our baby’s hands could have gotten so big, so fast.

I’m pretty sure this is kinda normal.  Normal for postpartum women, I mean.  It’s not normal to think your boob is a baby, but I think getting kinda crazy after a baby is normal.  My sister seriously believed she had two babies and someone had kidnapped the other one.  And she didn’t think this in a sleepy haze, this was a fully conscious conviction, despite having birthed and left the hospital with a single baby.  Dennis told me a man at the Boot Camp for New Dads told the men about his wife’s postpartum depression, and how one day she was convinced she had dropped her baby off at daycare and when she went to pick her up, they said she never did.  She had a full out meltdown yelling at them that they were trying to take her baby and when she finally got back home, she found her baby in her crib.  So yeah, those whacko hormones can really do a number on your head!

What about you?  Any crazy or scary postpartum stories to share?

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