A Bit of the Beach

For Christmas, Santa brought Jack a sand and water table for play in the backyard.  It was by far one of his favorite gifts and was sad to see it go to the garage for a few months until it got warmer.

When the sun and the warm weather finally arrived (like last week), I put together the table and immediately commenced a trip to Lowes for sand.  No water yet because it hasn’t been that warm, but that should be coming soon!

We are a beach family.  The waves, sand, sounds of the ocean are a part of us.  Jack has always been a water baby and loves anything to do with sand and water, as he should.  This makes the table that much more awesome.  Especially since Dewey Beach, Delaware is now a 4 hour drive away instead of a 2 hour drive.  😦

Here are some shots of Jack enjoying the sand and pretty much dumping handfuls of sand on the driveway.  🙂

One last drink before heading over

Determined

A little dog chasing

Putting a Spring in my Step

Even though the calendar and I have had opposing opinions of when Spring truly begins, it seems to have come in full force this week.  The trees are budding, tulips and daffodils have finally surfaced and bloomed, and finally, the weather is finally cooperating.  We had a gorgeous, sunny and warm day yesterday and so far, the sun is out and it is looking like a repeat of yesterday!

Jack and I plan to venture outdoors again with sunscreen, shorts and t-shirts and ready to run in the grass and just soak up a beautiful day.

As with many things, Spring can also put me in a mood to reorganize, catch up on things that have been on my “To Do List” since September, and to take a step back and think about all of the wonderful holidays and fun things to do this summer.

While uploading photos from our <a title="We New York Trip over the weekend, I realized the major task on my “To-Do” List that has been staring me in the face has been organizing, printing or doing something with all of the photos that I have of Jack, considering I have not printed one photo since he was born.  Yes, you read that right.  Not one.

I am a person who loves to take photos (over 1,400 on my iPhone alone) so the task at hand can feel absolutely overwhelming.  Cue Shutterfly to save the day.

Since before Chris and I got married, I have been backing up all of our photos on my Shutterfly account, which has already come in handy when we lost two laptops in the past 3 years.  Sidenote: My Mac is still running strong and I will never buy another PC.

Uploading photos to the site is a cinch with the Express Uploader, and I don’t have to make a million decisions on making the perfect photo book if I don’t want to.  There are multiple templates to choose from, and typically, I usually end up using the templates.

The last publication of photos was the First Year Photo Book for Jack that I made for his Birthday Party where attendees could write him a nice little message and see how he has grown.  It was such a hit and I know that I will continue the yearly photo book for each child.

Jack's First Year Photo Book

Most of the photos in my mother’s house and in our house in Philly are of when Jack was born, so after taking a count of frames and sizes, I know how many photos I need and adding a few extras for friends and family and I am on my way.

A few quick things on my list are Mother’s Day cards (this weekend!  Yikes!) and planning for the multiple showers this summer.  Again, Shutterfly to the rescue!  I can find custom Mother’s Day cards for my Mom and my Mother-in-law and have them sent directly to the recipients through the site.  Perfect!

The baby showers?  Customized baby shower invitations for all of the showers coming up this summer.  Done and done.  I’m already rolling through this list!

And another time and money saver?  If you have a blog, you can sign up to win 50 FREE cards from Shutterfly!  That can absolutely help to get you on your way to getting organized and getting those things crossed off your Spring To Do List.  Enjoy!

Exploring at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

After our adventures in Manhattan and Brooklyn over the weekend, we let Jack run free at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

The BCM

Upon our arrival, we were told that the art class was about to begin and headed in that direction.  The art room supervisor spoke with the children about puffy paint, “A Starry Night” and sharing with others.  Jack was less than enthused to hear that he would need to use a brush instead of his hands, so the art session ended rather quickly.

Learning about "A Starry Night"

We began around the sound station where children had the opportunity to bang on pots, play the zylophone, crawl, climb and slide their way all over the place.  Jack had fun playing hide-and-seek with Aunt Colleen and Mommy.  Daddy showed him the ropes and acted as his spotter as he slid down the slide.

Playing the zylophone

Slidin'

In the room over, we put Jack in a smock and away he went as he played, splashed and poured water on the water table.  This was by far his favorite exhibit as he is most interested in water at home.  And mind you, this can be any collection of water; the bathtub, the dog bowl, toilet bowl, sink…you get the point.

Splash!!!

Love that smile!

The museum had a meet and greet next with some of the sea life that they have in-house.  Jack was still upset over leaving the water room, but quickly fell in love with the sandboxes downstairs.  He had no desire to learn or to touch the slugs, crabs and other sea creatures that were being shown just feet away.  The sand was where it was at for him.

Sandbox

Crabby

The museum had so many things to offer for so many ages.  There was a mock pizza kitchen, a mock bakery and a mock grocery store for learning and pretend play for the older children and simple things included like a phone and plastic foods to capture the interest of the younger children.  Jack was mostly excited for the phone and for the large 20lb turkey that he kept trying to carry around.  🙂

"Hello?"

Cruisin' with Aunt Colleen

And your total is...

Carrying the 20lb turkey

Our travels brought us back to the main play area where Jack played with more sand on the sand tables, built with blocks and jumped on the stuffed animals in the baby play area.

Block corner

Sand table

Admission was dirt-cheap and if it hadn’t been so close to nap time, Jack could have spent the entire day there.  Very clean, friendly staff and such great activities for children.  We will absolutely go back the next time that we are visiting Aunt Colleen in Brooklyn!

The family at the BCM

Square Peg, Round Hole

I never really understood what people meant when they would refer to themselves or other people as “boy Moms.”  To me, if they were a mother of a boy, they were just a mother, not necessarily categorized by the gender of the child.

Growing up, I was one of four girls, so our house was filled with everything pink, Barbie dolls, Cabbage Patch dolls, strollers and doll houses.  My sisters and I would play house, push our dolls around in strollers, and play dress up.  However, my parents never seemed to box us into anything truly girly.  We had puzzles, educational toys, and TV watching was very limited.  Instead, we played outside on the tire swing, in the sandbox or riding our bikes down the street.  We had the ability to roam free and imagine as we pleased.

We didn’t refuse when two of our friends who were boys would ask us to play Legos or Cops and Robbers.  We would gladly make mud pies, play soccer or throw the ball around without hesitation.  They would also volunteer to play the “Dad” when we played house or dress up when we decided to put on a play.  To us, it was just being a child.  Playing with other children and letting our imaginations run wild was the essence of fun.  We didn’t have gender boundaries when it came to who we played with and what we played.  We just were what we were.

My father would take us fishing, and although we would seldom see other little girls casting their line, my sisters and I were catching fish, learning to gut them and how to properly bait a hook.  It never once crossed our minds that this activity could typically be seen as something that boys would do.  We just did what we enjoyed doing.

Jumping in a muddy river, looking for salamanders and making forts were also favorite past times.

I recall begging and pleading with my father to build us a tree fort or a play house.  Our own little retreat for us with our friends for snacks, sleepovers and a perfect hiding place when playing capture the flag.  One summer, he finally gave in and got to work on our tree house.  Within a few weeks, we had the tree fort of our dreams.  I helped my Dad with moving the 2 x 4’s, nailing a few nails and pouring the concrete for the stilts of the house.  A special project that I would not give up for anything.  Another generic thing that is cast out to being a “boy thing.”

There was always a joke in the family that if anyone should have had sons, it should have been my father.  He was handy, creative and could do anything.  To us, he was Superman.

One year, my father began his own business where he did contracting for electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc… and needed a magnetic sign for his truck to promote his business.  When a friend got the sign for him, it read his name and underneath it, it read “and Daughters.”  He never looked at us like we were too delicate to learn or do things with him.  He just wanted to do things with his girls the best way he knew how.

The bottom line?  I don’t really consider myself to be a “boy Mom.”  I just want to support my son in whatever makes him happy.  And right now, he is happy playing with his puzzles, a doctor kit, watching some Sesame Street and Fresh Beat Band and cruising around on his digger and dump truck.

I will always be Mom to my son, but that’s it.  I am just his Mom.

Coloring at 13 Months

On Monday morning, Jack slept until 9:00 and once he finally got it together and had some breakfast, I decided now was as good a time as ever to try coloring.  Out came the new white paper, crayons and special “toddler crayons” from Crayola.  Jack’s eyes widened as I handed over the colorful animals that held the triangular crayons that he would color with.  I pulled out one of the regular crayons from the box and drew on my white sheet of paper to show him the process.  Within seconds, he grabbed the animal crayons and started putting crayon to paper.  Giggles ensued and so did an occasional  soft spoken “Wow.”

Checking out the new crayons

The plan was to make Valentine’s Day cards for Daddy, Grandma and PopPop and one for Grammy.

Thinking about his next move

Three sheets of paper and some coloring later, our cards were finished, and it was time to pack up our supplies.  And thats when the tears started.  Big.  Fat.  Tears.  He didn’t want to stop coloring, but with the pieces of green crayon that I eventually found in his mouth, I decided to end the fun early.

Tears

The best part about coloring with a 13 month old?  He enjoyed seeing the color from his crayon go across the paper, and when he missed the paper and colored on his high chair tray, it was washable and came right off.  A lapse in judgement almost brought out finger paints, but I thought it would be best not to make myself crazy yet.  😉

Toddler crayons and artwork

Additional First Birthday Party Photos

Per several people’s requests, here are additional photos from Jack’s First Birthday Party and additional information for Announcing a Miracle.

The balloon wreath on the front door

I got the balloon wreath idea from PartylikeaKid.com with a complete tutorial listed.  Believe me, I am not a crafty person in the least, and all I needed was instructions, and off I went.  My progress was posted on Twitter @Mallaidh and while watching TV a few nights, it was completed.  I used approximately 220 balloons on the wreath.

Birthday party cookies

I made these cookies on and off the week of the party.  I made the icing from a container of icing and adding small teaspoons of water until it became a very smooth and “liquidy” texture.  Four squirt bottles and some food coloring later, we had some pretty cookies!  (Dough was from Sam’s Club economy sized Pillsbury sugar cookie dough)

Jack with his birthday balloons

 

I picked up two arrangements of balloons from Mainsource, a grocery store down the street.  The balloons were cheap, maybe $8 total for everything and were by far Jack’s favorite thing about the party.

Some of the decorations

Thrilled doesn’t describe how I feel about the party pack that Pam from Announcing a Miracle made for me!  Because of my crazy schedule and the lack of a fully functioning printer, I asked Pam if she could print and assemble the pack for me when she mailed it.  (Yes, I did pay extra)  For me, it was the best gift I could give myself for this party!  She thought of the little things like grosgrain ribbon to string between the birthday banner and the perfectly tied ribbons on the hanging tags.  Perfect all around!

The birthday boy!

Jack’s outfit for the day was simple.  The shirt was ordered from ALM Designs on Etsy.com.  She was great!  The shirt was custom made by her, sewn in and will (hopefully) last him until his second birthday.  Jeans from Baby Gap, shoes by Stride Rite.

I used Shutterfly.com to make a First Year Photo Book for the partygoers to look at while they talked and I also included a pen with the book so that they could each write a message for Jack to read when he is older.  It was easy, cheap and a big hit!

The whole family

We had a very fun celebration, and I was thrilled that my sisters and my Mom were all there to celebrate with Jack.  It was also my Mom’s birthday, so we sang to her and Jack.  And yes, that is icing in my hair and on my sweater.  Jack loved every minute!