Wordless Wednesday: The Rainbow Connection

This past weekend we had Isora’s big 1st birthday party with all our family and friends at our favorite local kiddo hangout, Play. in East Lansing.

I really can’t say enough good things about Play. and it’s owner, Kasey. We LOVE it there and having birthday parties there is so fun and easy. If you’re in the area, do yourself a favor, book your little one’s next party there. You won’t regret it!

In attempt to stay on theme with Isora’s St. Patrick’s Day birthday I decided that her first party would be a rainbow party. Cause the rainbow leads to the pot full of gold and lucky clovers and leprechauns, doesn’t it? Well it does in our version of St. Patty’s lore 😉

I’ve been pinning rainbow ideas for months on Pinterest and took all of my favs, well at least the favs that could be done easily and by myself, and put a rainbow plan into action. And then with the help of my fast leprechaun helpers we got the whole thing put together just as our first guests were arriving.

The cake and present table with our Pinterest-inspired rainbow striped table skirt.

The food table with our last-minute-how-can-we-make-that-table-look-cute-with-tablecloth-scraps rainbow striped runners. I think the girls did an excellent job with it. Don’t you? And another Pinterest win…rainbow fruit kabobs!

The chalkboard lovingly decorated by Auntie Kylara. Though in fairness I did have to add the ‘1st’ and tell her how her how to spell Isora. ::smh:: Teenagers.

The goodie boxes were set on a shelf out of action until it was time to leave.

The kiddo table with little leprechaun hats that no one wore. I am SO taking those to Parade Day next year!

The Birthday Biz. So content to build a little tower all by herself.

My sweet big girl. Look how old she looks with those braids! Photobombed by Anna.

So busted. Daddy and Ella on the slide. Against. The. Rules. We went to Play. today and I had to explain 1,001 times why parents aren’t allowed on the slide. Thanks Daddy-O.

Sweet Juniper Monkey. I love her almost as much as I love my own babies. I wish you could hear her laugh. It’s infectious.

The adorable Olivia, very concentrated on her fruit. Isn’t she a doll?

Sir Anna was the knight protecting the ballerina princess butterflies. Or just being Brave.

Izzie and her cousin Salem. Salem actually took this picture and smiled for me. Even though when her mom asked her to take a pic and smile she ran the other way. Sorry Mary, they only listen when it’s not their mom talking.

Even the Dads were playing. Not sure what it is but these two were very intense about it. See what you missed Leslie and Kate? SERIOUS robot fort building.

And the grownups getting to the real business. The lunch.

Birthday Girl!! Thankfully Grandma Becky brought a new bib since that was one of the only things I forgot to bring. Thanks !!

And the show stopper. The Rainbow Cake. You’ve seen it on Pinterest and thought “That’s so cool but no way I could ever pull that off.” Right? Well let me tell you, if I can do it, you can too.

Cutting the cake. I love Izzie peaking out from under my hair in this picture.

And the money shot. Look at all those rainbow-y layers. Covered in real buttercream icing. It was divine.

Isn’t it pretty? The secret? Plenty of cake pans, gel food coloring and patience.

Don’t I look WAY too happy to be serving this cake? It’s cause I was so nervous it wasn’t going to turn out. Patting myself on the back for this one.

Grandma Linda will now be called The Cake Pusher.

Izzie loved it so much she felt the need to share.

The rest of the kids digging in. Olivia looks really happy with her cupcake.

And the gifts. I had two special helpers opening packages, until one of my helpers (aka Isora’s Big Sister) decided she was bored. But Anna stuck around to help. Because she loves her some Izzie. Turns out my baby really loves cards. So do I. Twinsies.

Anna helping us unwrap another cool toy.

And perhaps the best gift anyone has ever gotten ever. Three little tiny babies to snuggle. I think she likes them. And I think Salem can’t figure out what the hell they are.

Isn’t she the sweetest thing. Look at the smile. God I love her.

We had such a whirlwind tiring exhausting lovely day. And we are so thankful for those who came and showed their love for Isora. How lucky are we to have such a great family and such an amazing little girl?

Special thanks to our set-up and tear-down crew: Lucy (who was up with me making the table cloth until the wee hours the night before the party), Tracey, Mom, Kylara, Grandma Becky, Kristyn, Aunt Bea & Uncle Randy, Sabrina & Mike, Mary & Glen and of course Kasey 😉

But none of this would be possible without the man that helped me make this incredible creature. So thanks Mr. Eyebrowz. The road may be rocky sometimes but we always walk it together. I love you.

Happy WW all!! And in case anyone is looking for decorations for the SCOTUS Gay Marriage ruling party…I got you covered!!



(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: One Year Ago

I’m going to keep this as wordless as I possibly can because I’m getting weepy just thinking back to one year ago and the urge to ramble about how my baby isn’t really a baby anymore is strong.

Something happens when your baby is about to turn one.

You lose it.

Even if I’m finally managing to get out of the house with two reasonably clean and well dressed children and make it to any function only ten minutes late, I still feel like I’m losing it.

Because I really wanted to savor every single moment of Isora’s first year, to document every new word, every single milestone. But it’s all gone by so fast. And here we are, days away from her big day, and I am a weeping emotional mess.

But today I went back. Call it a flashback. Here’s what I remember so clearly from one year ago…

It was HOT. In the 80’s. In Michigan. In March. We were playing outside for hours. In the water table.

And twirling around in the grass.

Cedella and I were spending some last amazing moments together. Like taking silly pictures. Notice the wedding rings around my neck. Yes, I was a bit swollen.

And eating crepes. Something I always wanted to do with her. We were both licking Nutella off our fingers. They were incredible.

Spending our last few moments of solo nursing. And snuggling.

And then just two days before I went into labor, on St. Patrick’s Day, my love came home with all of this. Flowers, a card and a Shamrock Shake. Mmmm…now I want a Shamrock Shake.

The card told me how proud he was that I had made it all nine months and that the end was in sight and he knew I could do it. I love him so much.

And then there’s this photo. Taken a mere 24 hours before Isora was born. Don’t I look thrilled? Did I mention it was HOT.

I look at that picture and can feel just how exhausted and yet excited I was. How much I wanted all of it to be over so I could just hold my baby already. It’s so vivid. And now she’s been on this planet for an entire year.

It’s crazy how time literally flies right out of your hands when you’re too busy living to pay attention.

Ok…I’ve got to go snuggle my Izzie and cry a bit about how big she is.

Happy Wordless and Wonderful Wednesday to you!

To My Sweet Monk

*Disclaimer. This is late. Like three weeks late. And this is long. Really long. But this is one tradition that I have started for Cedella that I am happy to keep. I want her to have these letters when she grows up and wants to know what she was like when she was a kid, or when she becomes a parent, what it was like when I was a young(ish) mother. So grab a cup of tea, settle in, and get cozy, you’ve been warned.

My dear sweet Ella,

You have just turned three. And yet here you sit, so sick and sad and unlike your usual self. And though you may have the flu and we can’t celebrate like we wanted to today, I’m glad you enjoyed your birthday party with friends and family. That makes me feel slightly better about laying on the couch and watching Diego episodes for 3 days now.

I want to tell you a little about who Cedella Michelle, who Monk is, at three years old.

In so many ways it seems like you’ve just been born. I remember that day so incredibly well. There are times like now, when you’re sick and really need me, you are snuggled up on my lap and I feel like you’re just a little baby. Like you’re still this little girl.

But in every other way you are becoming your own individual person. Each day you can do more and more on your own. Each day you need me less and less. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that I have taught you and nurtured you to the point that you’re so capable and independent. But there’s a piece of my heart that aches every time you tell me “No Mom. I can do it myself”. Cause I know that one day you won’t need me at all. And that day is sooner than later.

This year was incredibly challenging for all of us. And though me and Dad had to really adjust to life with two small children in our lives, perhaps you have had the hardest time adjusting. Life since your sister was born hasn’t been easy for you and I’m at a loss as to how to help you cope.

Before Isora you were our everything. And then we left one morning and came home at dinner time with this new baby and suddenly you had to share the night sky with another star and maybe you felt you didn’t glow as bright any more.

But you have never, ever, ever stopped glowing as brightly to me.

In fact I am so in awe of all of things you’ve accomplished this year that you appear to be glowing a lot brighter, even more fiery, to me.

When you turned two you were talking quite a bit and learning to say difficult words. Now, you astound me with your ability to communicate. Your vocabulary is hard to believe for such a young person. I still won’t get over you telling me all about the “pygmy marmoset and it’s habitat”. (Thanks to Diego for that one.) And when you tell us things like “That’s not a choice” or “Sorry I ruined your picture”.

Though I have to say, there’s one small bit of communication that you’re having a problem with. You say “What?” A LOT. Like your Auntie Kylara before you (who to this day says “Huh?” more than any other word ever) you have a listening problem. Your poor Jido and Teta thought you couldn’t understand their accents or the Arabic they speak to you. But no. You say it all the time. To everyone. Especially Dad and I when we’re asking you to do something. It makes us nuts.

But of all the things you say it’s how you talk to your sister that makes my heart melt. You talk to her how I talk to you. Good and bad. If I tell you “No, Cedella that’s not nice” you repeat that to Isora. But better yet, when your sister took her first steps, you were the first one to say “I’m so proud of you Isora!”

You, her big sister, have the makings of her biggest cheerleader. It’s just what I hoped you would be for her.

You’re funny. One of the funniest children I’ve ever known. On any given day you can say a million hilarious things. One moment you’re strutting around the house with sunglasses and evening gloves on. Then a wig, then a tutu, then an 80’s headband. You say goofy things and you can just about always crack a smile. Though there may be years you don’t think this, right now, you just can’t stop saying “Mommy you’re so funny!”. And the dance you do? The crazy hands and Elvis hips. God you crack me up. And when you giggle it’s like a the sound of a trillion sweet birds singing to the morning sun.

Once you get it in your head to do something, to be something, there’s no stopping you. I see that in you already. A drive and passion to learn and to master something. You can become so incredibly frustrated when a new task is hard to learn. If it takes a few times to understand a new game or to open a snack you kind of freak out. Your anger is quick and intense and just like your father’s. Don’t tell him I said that, ok?

So you hate it when you can’t do something right the first time, I understand. I’m the same way. But when you do master something, look out world! Take potty training for example. One morning this last May you decided you didn’t want to wear diapers anymore. After a frustrating couple of days of peeing on the floor and having wet undies you finally figured it out. I can count the amount of accidents you’ve had since then on one hand. You amaze me.

And you amaze me in your ability to try new things. Sure you play shy sometimes or you don’t have a good feeling about things, and I respect your intuition when it comes to that. Like dance class. You will probably not be a ballerina. Too much structure and not enough freedom. But that’s ok. Cause you are a natural in gymnastics and swimming. I’m so proud to watch you step across the balance beam with a look of concentration on your face that quickly turns to a smile when you reach the other side. Or to see you nervously step into the pool only to effortless climb out by yourself a few  lessons later.

We may not have done that much traveling this year but the few trips we did take I recognized how adaptable and easy going you are. We spent almost two weeks on the beach. When you were growing inside me you swam around like a little fish. I thought you were going to be a swimmer. You love the beach and playing in the water. Me too. And on our visit to South Carolina this Thanksgiving you were great. Well, great as long as Diego was on. Thankfully your cousin Bailey was there to entertain you and show you around.

Maybe it’s because of all these reasons, or perhaps in spite of them, that makes it that much harder when you’re mean, aggressive and angry towards us. When you lash out at your father or kick me. It’s when you hit your sister on the head or push her over as she’s trying to take a few steps, that truly hurts me. I know you don’t really want to hurt Izzie or make her cry, it’s just that your emotions are too big for that little body of yours, they have no where to go but out.

Dad has been so stressed out lately, working a lot, which means I’m stressed and alone with you girls that much more. Parenting is hard my love, don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. So when he’s stressed and I’m stressed we make you and Isora stressed. Just like when we yell, you yell. I see that now. Particularly when the words I tell you come rolling right back out of your mouth at me. When your angry voice sounds just like mine. It’s a tough pill to swallow, watching yourself through the eyes of your child, but it helps me to make better choices, to try and help you, not hurt you.

I am confident that all of the aversion to doing anything and everything we ask of you will be short-lived. That your Tumultuous Threes will be over quickly. Because if this foreshadowing of your teenage years God help us all.

Since changing tactics from yelling and demanding to offering you choices and incentives, things have started getting better already. Where there have been months of battles to get you through bath and bedtime, tonight you’re snuggling and sweet.

A month ago there was a really horrible tragedy in which many children were killed at their school. On that day I was so very sad and couldn’t help but cry as I held you girls. When you asked me what was wrong I told you that someone hurt many children and you asked “Why Mommy?” When I said I didn’t know you looked so confused. And then you said “is that why you’re sad Mommy? Cause you don’t know why people hurt kids? That is very very sad.” And then you held my hand and laid your head on my chest. Your understanding of me, and how I think is unbelievable. Just another amazing aspect of your tremendous personality, you sense and know and feel so much about the problems and strife in this world already. You are at your core a kind and empathetic being and that innate good is your ticket to changing the world.

Now if only I could get you to stop hitting your sister. There are rare beautiful moments when you two are playing together so nicely and in a snap you’re tackling her to the ground or pinching her cheeks. I know some day, hopefully by the time you read this, you two will be the best of friends. But for now, well, let’s just say I will completely understand when she just sucker punches you one of these days. You’re asking for it.

Just the other night, the night before your birthday, as I was putting you to bed I was telling you the story about the night you were born. You touched my hand and told me to keep talking and then you slowly drifted off to sleep in my arms, just as I was telling you about the first time I ever held you. It was magical. I am reminded that no matter how big you grow, in some ways you will always be that tiny sweet new thing to me.

We just started talking about the string that connects my heart to your heart, how it’s invincible but it’s always there. That string that connects our hearts will never break Cedella. Never.

There’s so much more I want to say but I’ll leave you with this. Don’t ever stop watching Doctor Who with me and sneaking chocolate when no one else is looking. And promise me that you’ll always stand up for your sister and for those who need standing up for.

Thank you for being my daughter. Your dad and I are so incredibly proud to be your parents.

I love you to the moon and back,