A Very Seuss-y Birthday


Hi, all! How has your summer been treating you all? I’ve done some relaxing with the kiddos, some cleaning, and – a little at a time – chipping away at some konmari action. I’ve sifted through kids’ clothes more than I’d like to admit. Time to try shoes; they’re way easier!

So, who wants to party?!?! As with years gone by, I thought I’d stop by to give you the rundown on Hadley’s recent fourth birthday.

FOUR. Can you believe that?! Four. My God. He’s finally starting a pre-K program in the fall. *sniff, sniff*

We held his celebration the Sunday before his birthday (we hit up the zoo on the actual, low-key day) at my in-laws’ house. Their house and yard is nice and big, so we were super grateful they offered use of the space.

As with past years, we went with a theme. I think it’d be too difficult to make the party, well, a party without a theme. Just too scattered. So, there could have been several with all of Hadman’s interests these days, but we landed on the author of his favorite books: Dr. Seuss.

What’s not loads of fun about that?! Seriously, I ask you.

We hate to use tons of disposable (i.e. non-green) stuff, so most of the stuff we got was just solid colors that fit the theme but that could be reused. Red and light blue hanging swirlies, red gift bags, and any character toys my MIL or we had in our stashes.

Oh, and books. Lots and lots of books.

We adorned the walls with fun Seuss quotes (which I may just find space for at the library).

And I researched a ton of possible food names to fit the theme. A. Ton.

We walked a fine line between healthy (lots of fruit, a salad, organic pink ink yink drink) and junk (chips, pizza, subs). Then there’s the in-between: popcorn that my husband made and slathered with butter, “Truffula seeds” that were yogurt raisins (but way non-organic), homemade organic cupcakes, and forcing my mom to make green deviled eggs (they were perfect although she went light on the green food coloring…she seemed to think they were disgusting, LOL).

But, it was all freakin’ delicious and there was a good mix of options for every eater.

As for the fun stuff, we lucked out that when folks first arrived the weather was nice. My parents-in-law borrowed a perfectly-sized bounce house from a friend (which was a huge hit), so that worked up an appetite for the kids.

After some awesome gift opening – the kid was hilariously gracious and grateful for EVERYTHING…except the “big gift” of a big boy bike (ya win some, ya lose some) – we tried out a game I had stayed up late to make the night before.

It wouldn’t be a Dr. Seuss party without a “Pin the Hat on the Cat” game, right? Right!

After that, we had a rousing game of “I Can Do That!” (a Cat in the Hat game my BFF Beth gave Hadley last year that was PERFECT for this shindig). It gets players moving and trying for points by attempting silly tasks, plus it was just the right length. Considering it had started to rain, I was glad to have a couple of indoor activities planned!

The one “whoops!” of the day (there’s always one) was the gift bags. We forgot to hand them out. My guess is that the parents don’t know how grateful they should be that we forgot…

In case you can’t read them, they say, “Gerald McBoing Boing’s Noise Makers!” Several of ’em.

What?? I wanted it to be non-junk food-ish. (And annoying. Hee hee!)

It was seriously a super fun time, and after a bit of planning, pretty low-stress and enjoyable even for we parents. The 5-kids-under-5 were all so good and fun and were hilarious to see interacting with each other. Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better time and it totally made up for Hadley’s super small, sick b-day last year.

In case you’d like to put on your own Seussian shindig, here are some suggestions…

Decor – Not that we’re “but all the trademarked character decorations!” people, know that the stores tend not to stock Suess stuff (at least, not the stores we went to). So, here are my tips:

  • Get basic colors and prints (think plates or napkins) that help set the mood. Red and turquoise are great, plus some polka dots or red-and-white stripes.
  • Add some whimsy. Whether streamers, homemade Truffula trees with tissue paper poufs, or colored swirly things, add a touch of fun in simple ways.
  • Use whatchya got. If your family has any Seuss character toys, pull ‘em out! The same goes for your favorite Seuss books. You can display them all over or have them stacked to put food or gifts on.
  • Quotes! You can’t have people read all the books to put them in the mood, but using a Seuss font to print out your favorite will offer a fun way for grown-ups to brush up on their Dr. Seuss.

Food – The one and only tip I have is to use some Dr. Seuss-inspired food titles to make everything cohesive. Here are my favorites:

  • Hop on Popcorn!
  • Green Eggs and Ham (Sandwiches) (deviled eggs and subs)
  • Roast Beast (subs)
  • One Fish, Tuna Fish (subs)
  • Truffula seeds (anything from yogurt-covered raisins to M&Ms)
  • Fuddle-Dee-Duddle Fruit (any fruit you want to offer! We had watermelon)
  • The Cat’s Hats (banana/strawberry skewers; some add marshmallows, too)
  • The Yink’s Pink Ink Drink
  • Poodle Noodles (pasta salad)
  • Skipper Zipp’s Clipper Ship Chips
  • Katroo Cupcakes
  • More suggestions at Seussville (wish I’d found this page sooner!)

Fun – Don’t overthink this part. Birthdays are by nature jam-packed with activities to keep folks busy. By incorporating one or two games, max, you’ll have a fall-back in case it rains or there’s otherwise a lull.

Here’s what we did, again, for our Seuss Shindig:

  • Pin the Hat on the Cat – You know the drill, so all you need to do is sketch a hatless “cat” and make a few striped hats for the kids (er, grown-ups…ahem…we did) to stick while blindfolded. It was way more fun than I remembered. Oh, and don’t let people feel around before stickin’ it. We had some cheaters. 😉 (Honestly, we didn’t remember the rules!)
  • “I Can Do That!” Game – I think it’s available at toy stores, and it would be a great addition to your family’s games as well as for a Seuss party. Super simple and super fun!
  • Coloring Sheets – We didn’t need any since we had so much to do already, but it’s often a good idea to have a quiet spot set up for kids who get overwhelmed by noise and chaos
  • Seussville Activities – If you don’t want to buy the aforementioned game, check out the activities at this great site. A step up from coloring pages, it gives kids some low-key fun that fits the theme. There are also some cool group activities like Wacky Whispers. I know it says it’s for educators, but they’re for one and all!

Whatchya think? It may not be Pinterest Perfect, but that’s not our goal. Just some extra touches to make the day super special and memorable and we’re good!

Oh, and if we have a Disney/Mickey party one of these years, we’re so ready. (Red with white polka dots, for the win!)

OH, AND HERE’S A LINK FOR FREE PRINTABLES TO USE AT YOUR OWN DR. SEUSS BIRTHDAY PARTY! 

Check out Hadley’s
first and second (last year was subdued due to illness) birthdays if you’re interested, too! Not sure what the heck’s up with the images.

Sock Sack O’ Beans

I know what you’re going to think — “Wait. You’ve been absent HOW LONG and all you’re going to write about is a stupid DIY heating pad? What about the B-A-B-Y?!?!” And you’re more than entitled to have those thoughts. But, let’s just say that it takes all the power in me to write a post at all.

Not saying that I’m that full-blown exhausted that everyone talks about. Sure, tired, but generally speaking I’m doing fine. Got some strong emotions going on that I’m sure I could talk about (no post-partum depression, though, as far as I can tell :-D), but I don’t really feel like wasting time discussing that stuff, either. But my days have been pretty much a sequestered existence consisting of rotating feedings and changings. So, I thought, “I could wallow in the fact that it’s now August (“sweat drops, sweat drops” – anyone? “SNL”/”Cathy”?) or I could finally write a blog post.” So, here I be! Arrrgh.

Yeah. Maybe I am a tad overtired. I’ve had one nap since we brought the baby home. I’m not a big “napper”, but maybe I should take advantage of “free time” while I still can.

Why the HECK is this post about an old sock filled with dried beans? Because I don’t make it out of the house much…I needed a heating pad solution…and I was pretty proud that I made one. Don’t judge. These days, it’s the little things that make me happy.

So, I suppose what I’m getting at is more so the fact that I need a heating pad in the first place. As far as pain goes, I’m usually pretty tough, and wouldn’t have anything on hand for aches and pains. Hey, I felt like I was, in a way, gypped over Hadley’s birth in having a C-section; I didn’t get to experience LABOR and didn’t have much pain (beyond the whole issue of coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc with that darned incision), but I’ll post more on that when I feel good ‘n ready to do so. 😉 Long story short, though, through our trials and triumphs of breastfeeding (also more on that in a future post), I seem to have developed a blocked milk duct.

Funny. Had’s got a blocked tear duct that causes one of his eyes to goober up with yellow stuff (not puss, and ’tis completely normal – believe me, the doc has been consulted as to every inch of his cute lil’ body). Wonder if there’s a connection beyond grammatical. And, now, I’m not leaking yellow goobers.

Anyhoo, being a) quite the independent bugger and b) more than a tad intimidated by the overbearing lactation consultants, I’m determined to handle this issue on my own – unless, of course, it becomes a bigger issue (ie mastitis…an infection…in da booby. Yeah. Let’s hope not, shall we?). So, after researching via books ‘n the interwebs, I found myself filling a cute ol’ sock with dried beans. I wasn’t up for going all Martha Stewart with my sewing machine, so I took the easy way out.

Between using my bean-filled buddy (microwaved for a couple of minutes and wrapped in a kitchen towel), “pressure massaging”, attempting to pump (and feed) more on “that side”, and taking the occasional ibuprofen, I’m hoping that the issue

Otherwise, for those of you who are wondering (and since it’s World Breastfeeding Week), I should say that breastfeeding has been a challenge — and, in some ways, way easier than I had expected (example being – even though Hadley had been given a small bottle right after he was born — due to his size and a necessity to keep his body heat regulated, and the fact that I was getting stitched…er, stapled up — when he was brought back to me in Recovery, he immediately latched on — what a moment!) and in others, purdy darn frustrating (example – let’s just say he doesn’t always latch well, and he’s got a temper AND an impatient streak that make for meltdowns…can’t IMAGINE where he got those traits, hee hee). That’s the nature of breastfeeding, though.

I should shout from the rooftops that I’m terribly lucky. I’ve healed very well, have lost weight VERY quickly (some might say TOO much too fast – I swear I’m eating and trying to drink enough for the both of us, though! And, no worries, my tummy still looks like a satellite image being beamed in from Mars), can almost always get him to settle down for a feeding (even when there are latching issues), am able to pump so Dave (AKA “The Dorky Daddy”, AKA “Best Father and Husband on Earth”) can have some one-on-one time with his little man…and, miracle of miracles, my milk came in before leaving the hospital. The little guy was already starting to gain weight after his first week home, so all appears to be working! And, hey. Isn’t that all that matters? 🙂

Thanks, as always, for reading. I promise to write the birth story when I’m up to it, as well as more on breastfeeding. Oh, and for those who are wondering, we’re not using cloth diapers quite yet — not with how quickly this lil’ guy goes through them, and with how few we currently own. Gonna stock up and move onto that next step when things are a tad more, um, solid. One thing at a time, but we’ll get there. Oh, and just so I’m not a completely stingy b-word keeping things from you, here’s the unofficial birth announcement for those of you who may not have heard —

Our wonderful Hadley Allston was born on  
Friday, July 13th at 11:48am via scheduled C-section.
He weighed 10 lbs., 1 3/4 oz and was 22″ in length.

It Ain’t Perfect, But…

Slowly but surely (the operative word here being “slowly”), small bathroom projects are getting accomplished. I decided to start “at the top” and work my way down, for the time being.

This meant tackling the ceiling. When I say “tackling”, I mean it in the most literal sense one can without having torn the whole thing down. It was a bull to work with, and still isn’t completely perfect…but, for our purposes, I’m calling it successfully completed. Woohoo!

The issue involves prep work that our predecessors completed…mmm…shall we say…crappily. My mom insists that she sees proof of duct tape (yes, that) used to try to seal up some cracks, and the paint was separating in a million spots (probably due to improper paint for a humid bathroom, but that’s just a guess). I’m not sure it’s a battle I can ever completely win. Here’s what we were given…

My tactics, be them accurate or not, involved scraping and pulling down tape, sanding everything down, putting up mesh tape, spackling and sanding x2, priming, then painting a few coats of regular ceiling paint. Again, it’s not perfect, but when the lights aren’t all on, it looks pretty darn smooth and almost passable.
There are still some lines to cope with and a *chance* that the tearing/separating paint issue will come back – but just take my word for it. It’s tough to get true-to-life pictures of white. 🙂 The second picture is the most strife with real life issues.

The next steps will be to paint the upper half of the walls with a color soon-to-be-mixed (it’s been selected for a looooong time…oops!), and sanding and painting LOTS of coats of white in the open shelving closet area (and probably around the window trim – can you say “chocolate brown”?). Then comes the real work of doing paneling (I’d much rather call it “wainscoting”, although it’s really just a doppelganger), painting the rest of the chocolate trim (which makes it sound like Willy Wonka’s bathroom, doesn’t it?), and flooring (which will most likely involve having to unhook the toilet ‘n stuff, ugh). THEN, on to the troubled tub area. Whew!

Just wanted to keep everyone updated and keep myself motivated (ie have some sort of accountability, hee hee). So, thanks for providing that – I bet you didn’t even know you were my motivation! Well, you guys and, y’know, a very patient husband and an ever-growing belly. Those are pretty important, too. 😉

Do you have any projects you’re whittling away at, even if it takes months? Feel free to share!

Parsons Project

So, our office was in a desperate state. Books everywhere. Three, count ’em three desks, all piled with papers – very important papers, mind you (well, most of them), but a clutter of STUFF, nonetheless. It simply wouldn’t do, and the husband was even more fed up with it than was I. Actually, I can live in clutter as long as things are relatively CLEAN – you know, the difference between “cluttered” and “unclean” (and there is QUITE a difference) – but since I used the office way less than Dave, I felt it only fair to put the axe to the grindstone. This is a partnership, after all. We’re all in this together. *insert other team-building cliches here*

A rare Dave cameo.

My plan has evolved over time. It’s gone from tearing up the cheap, ugly, no-padding-used carpet (to our dismay, the floors underneath were treated poorly by the *grumble-so-and-so’s* who were the prior owners – they knew they’d be putting the rug down, so what’s a slop of paint between strangers? While they were at it, they drizzled white paint on the carpet, too) to creating a completely feng shui space for my creative cutie to write and work. Heck, I’ve even posted my frustrations about this space in the past. Between the “big life changes” going on around notre maison (everyone calls their house a “casa”, but I received our Bringing up Bebe book today so was inspired to try out my rusty French skills — hey, it’s Mardi Gras!!) and the “dude, get on that already”-inspired challenge I’m setting for myself, I figured I’d better get things goin’ in this room, be them perfect or not.

The ultimate goal: Declutter by any means possible. This meant moving Dave’s childhood (but space-sucking/only-used-for-storage) desk into the basement. Don’t worry, we’re saving it for future generations…it’s safe down there. 😉 It also meant doing away with Dave’s cheap-o, press board computer “workstation”. But, this isn’t all about Dave doing away with his stuff. It just happens that my desk was in the best shape of all three, and I had something else in mind for my own work space (that could hopefully help make an office in a future house more stylish and feng shui-able).

My idea was inspired by, of COURSE, a project undertaken by the folks at Young House Love which involved creating one’s very own parsons table/desk (or a facsimile thereof) using an interior hollow-core door. Since this was my first of such project, I already know that mine is wobblier, rougher and generally more flawed than it should be…but it still looks pretty good and I’ve got a husband that couldn’t be prouder. So, in hopes of not being too premature, I’d say “mission: accomplished”!

We purchased the lumber and had the hollow-core door trimmed down to a manageable size. Man, did that Lowe’s worker look at me like I was a crazy lady! I found a small piece of trim to “finish” that side (although it doesn’t fit *perfectly* – no one would notice but me, probably). I used brackets to attach the legs to the “top”, then “trimmed” out the front and sides (none in the back) below the top. Here are a few “before” shots of the room for a better idea of what we were working with:

Dave’s side of our disorganized craziness.

“My side” of the office. For the record, that’s not all my stuff. It’s a mutual mess.

Even after we removed the third desk (from the right side), it was still…well, embarrassing.

Aaaaand here’s some of the building process:
Soon-to-be table/desk legs that almost killed our saw. Note the burn marks.

 Wee Wee and his sidekick, S.U., “helping.”

Spackling (well, wood putty-ing) a bit of the end trim job.

Aaaaand a variation of this is what my poor husband had to deal with for well over a week. This or an in-process version (first coat of primer, second coat of primer, first coat of white semi-gloss, etc). But, finally, as a belated birthday present (or a way to say “I’m sorry for the mess!”), I finally cleared off my desk for the 2012 Great Desk Shuffle. This involved clearing off both desks, moving his “workstation” to the garage (so much easier said than done!), shifting my old desk to “his side”, and scooting the faux parsons table into its new home.

Work in progress…
This is where I’ll leave you. Dave’s got lots more on and in his desk now (it looks really good, in my humble opinion), but we’re still working out the organizational logistics. I’m also hoping to get a lengthy floating shelf from IKEA (courtesy a dear friend who lives much nearer to one) to go above my space, and we’ll both be sifting through still more “stuff”.

It already feels so much more spacious and organized, even with the crap still laying in piles. I’ll be sure to share the organizational tricks we’re using (yep, I’ve already got a few tricks up my sleeve, mwahaha) and the final, handsome space when it comes together. There may be lots of work involved, but it is therapeutic to make your space a lot more enjoyable, usable and fresh.

*On a side note, just gotta admit publicly that I’m not in love with the office wall color. It was one of many VERY early color decisions that we made, and while it’s a neutral tan, I see more pink and darkness in it than I’d like. I’m also no longer in love with our green/burgundy vibe (not sure I was ever in love with it…yeah, I should’ve broken up with it awhile ago) and want to come up with an improvement to the curtains. It needs to be a happy, creative, airy space, and I’m going to get it that way if it kills me! Er…let’s take the drama back a few notches…I’m going to get it that waaaaayyyyy uuummmm with lots more online researching for inspiration (ie Pinterest and blog reading, holla!) and hopefully some thrifty finds. Yeah. Like I said, the ultimate goal is for a peaceful, creative, organized space to share with Dave, since he spends a lot of his time at home here. It’s a labor of love more than anything.