Friday, November 21, 2014

Little P, Big 3!


Baby, big. Mama, sad.

But enough with all the sap...How 'bout a party?



So....complaining about the pressure of throwing a kid's birthday party might be the 1st world-iest problem of them all...but maybe just indulge me for one minute. You know I love throwing parties. Like...LOVE it. And I adore birthdays...But the timing of Piper's birthday is a little bit tough. It's so close to Halloween that it's hard for me to do both things all-out (and all-out is pretty much the only way I want to do things). I grew up having the best birthday parties, so it's something that's hugely important to me. It doesn't have to be expensive, or overly fancy, but it does have to be special. I want to make my kids know that I love them, and that they're worth all the effort that it takes to throw a big bash. Buttttttttt....I also want to keep my sanity, so I try to keep things in perspective and rein in my tendency to care too much, try too hard and generally go all Courtney on things.

I genuinely didn't have a clue what I was going to do for Piper this year...down to a couple weeks before her birthday. I wanted a theme (duh), but I knew that I couldn't exactly dictate things as much as I had in previous years. (Three-year-olds....they think they're entitled to their own opinions or something.) But I also didn't want to throw in the towel so early in life, and resign myself to Dora the Explorer shindigs from here on out. (Daniel Tiger costumes are one thing...selling out to the princess aisle in the party store is quite another).

So I figured I'd pick a theme I liked, but one that I knew she'd still get into as well...even if she maybe wouldn't have thought of it herself. And this year's idea.....

P is 3!

I figured we could do all things that start with "P" and if something didn't fit...I'd just do 3 of them and call it good. Easy P-sie!

When I told Piper, she was pretty pumped (it's taking all of my energy not to make this post packed with profuse alliteration) but informed me quickly that PINK and PURPLE are not her favorite colors (despite what she's been claiming for months!). She got over that part though, and was excited to help pick out all the elements of her party. She's just barely grasping the concept of which words start with which letter, so we had a lot of quizzing about animals, foods, toys etc. that start with P. She would proudly guess Penguins! Pizza! Puzzles! and then... chips!...A WHALE! (a ghost!) Good try, sweetie. I was a little worried about letting her loose in the party, because I was positive she'd abandon the theme and we'd come home with Frozen plates and a Thomas the Tank Engine balloons. But she actually did really well. I helped her keep an eye out for P things, and she picked her favs. And while I'm not exactly a pink and purple fanatic (...understatment...) it turned out pretty perfect.



We debated on who to invite...my immediate family is already a crowd, and Piper doesn't exactly have a ton of friends at this stage, so we kept the list to just family plus our 3 sets of neighbors. You know...a exclusive group of 26 people.



We kept the food simple, choosing to order a bunch of pizzas, and then"P" themed snacks:
PB&J- her initials!- (Piper helped me make them open faced and then roll them up) popcorn, peppers & peapods, pesto pasta salad, potato chips & pretzels and- of course- punch! (recipe here) Oh, and some purple rock candy...because it was pretty.

I put out some "P's" I've collected over the years, and we were done!

But we all know the most important part of the p-day b-day spread is the cake! I had my heart set on making a 3 cake...and with a little help from Pinterest, I did it!

I had some leftover rounds pieces, so I made a little personal pedestal treat just for Piper.
And what is becoming a birthday tradition, I completely messed up the frosting, and compensated for it with a million sprinkles. I might just have to do it on purpose next year. (j/k. I'll do it because it's seriously the best I can do. I'm missing the frosting gene.)

I tried not to stress about it though...Piper thought it was "beautiful, mama", so I trusted her taste.

In fact- when my mom asked Piper what her favorite part of the party was...she said "the little cake mama made me". Stop it. I can't even.

She didn't even mind when it toppled over....4 layer, 6" wide, frosting encased cake wrecks will do that.

Surprise! More Pink and Purple!

This girl didn't care how it looked either...she just wanted more. (We actually found her at the end of the night sneak-eating a piece she had somehow squirreled away in the playroom. She kills me.)




We of course tried (in vain) to get a quick family picture before the festivities got too out of control. After all, it was a major milestone, and we were all in themed pink and purple outfits...
But- SURPRISE- my kids wanted none of it...so we got these gems:

P is for Priceless.

But despite all that fun...one of the things I was most excited about was this little ditty I spent 1.5 episodes of Parenthood making....

Guys. I'm Pretty Proud of this little pig.  You can go ahead and pin that.


And not-humble brag aside, the kids actually liked it too.
We might have had a little see-through issue with our pink blindfold strategy, because all the kids pretty much nailed it but that probably just made them like it more.



Ok...she was kinda close.

So...we pinked. We purpled. We pinned. We pizza'd. We piñata'd. (you'll have trust me on that last part. We piñata'd so hard I don't even have pictures).

We partied.

And Little P, turned the Big 3!




And I know I shared some of Piper's recent "Pip-Speaks" on her birthday, but I saved a birthday related quip that had me cracking up:

Mama: Your birthday is coming up..
Piper: Right now?
Mama: No, in a few weeks.
Piper: We have party hats?!
Mama: Sure, if you'd like. We'll have to talk about what you want for your party...
Piper: Party blowers. I like those. When it's your birthday, you can have party blowers.
{And I feel the need to clarify, that she didn't mean that when it was time for my birthday, I could have some party blowers...she meant it as a rule of life: When it is one's birthday, one gets party blowers.}

Happy 3, to our precious P. We think you're positively perfect.
 
P.s. More P-p-party fun from Pip's first birthday (including a "Pi Bar"  and a pretty rad photobooth.)
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

P is 3

Once upon a time, I had a baby. A little tiny baby (well...an 8lb 12 oz baby, so maybe not SO tiny...) And then I blinked, and she turned three, and became a full blown PERSON, and despite hearing all the cliches in the world regarding how fast the time goes, it still blows my mind to be the mother of an actual walking/talking/independent-thinking little being, when I could swear she was just a little lump of newborn deliciousness like five seconds ago.

Don't get me wrong, I like the three year old version of Piper (plus...I love her) but it's just surreal that I have a child. Not a baby. Not a toddler. A kid. I didn't think I would get all sappy about it, especially considering that some things about this stage that make it my favorite age yet: she's funny, and creative, and sweet, and smart. But more importantly, she's all of those things on purpose. Before, I felt like we couldn't quite tell the difference between "stubborn because I'm a headstrong little girl, you guys better get ready" and "stubborn because I'm two, this to shall pass". It was hard to attribute actions or traits to her real personality, because it could have also been a developmental stage. But something about three has solidified who she is, and how we see her in a new way. Sure, she's still innocent, and curious, and short tempered and impatient the way most young kids are....and some of those things may stick, while some of them she'll grow out of. But I feel like we're getting to know her better on an individual level, and that is just so much fun.

Wait- but the sappiness? Well that's the other side of the coin, because every time she does something independent, or thoughtful, or just plain big-kid-like, I'm reminded that she's not a baby anymore, and never will be. Most of that is awesome....But you can't blame me for being just a teeny bit nostalgic for the Piper of days gone by- that little ball of chub who used to sleep on my chest, the two toothed grinner who constantly babbled incoherently/adorably, and the fiesty toddler who would "gump" without leaving the ground. (go ahead...click that last one...it's worth all 14 seconds...)

So what is our little 3 year old pistol like these days?
Well...She's sweet. She's constantly surprising me with how thoughtful she can be. She has so much love, and is so giving to us, her sister, her grandparents and her friends. She certainly has her fits of selfishness (sharing and taking turns can be hard) but she also has so much empathy. When we ready books, it's common for her to ask "Why he not happy?" about any character who appears less than overjoyed. And she's always thinking about ways to cheer people up (typical solutions are sharing her snack, or giving them a toy...) Recently she's been extra sweet, chiming in randomly with an "I love you mom and dad." I will take that anytime.

She's also spunky. Half of the words out of her mouth are complete nonsense, just because she thinks it's funny. She's remarkably loud when she wants to be (regardless of if I want her to be). And the most notable development over the last few months is the constant declaration of "I do it alllll by MYSELF." That is said in reference to...everything. She certainly knows what she wants. We're able to reason with her to some degree, but she's quite the negotiator. It's not uncommon for her to sell us an idea- "We can go to the park after lunch, mom. That's ok. That's ok if we do. We can." Thanks, Pipes.
And she's smart. She can memorize books after hearing them once (ok...she makes up some of the words, but catches on to the gist remarkably fast). She's repeats things I never even realize I said, which can be somewhat dangerous. But besides her steel trap mind, I'm stunned by her thoughtfulness. We used to tease that she had perma-judgy face, and while that's softened a little (she now splits time between an epic smile, and a furrowed brow of concentration), she is definitely a watcher. She prefers to take things in rather than be the first to jump into the action. She surprising us more and more with how brave she can be (previously anything from a loud noise, to a strange texture could set her off) but she still tends to observe first, seeing how things work, and then electing to join in. A friend of ours commented at her birthday party that he had never seen a kid open presents so thoughtfully and deliberately. I didn't notice much until he brought it up, but he was right. There wasn't a mad flurry of paper ripping, with presents flying one after the other. She ripped into each one excitedly, but then paused to ask "What is it? Can we open it? What does it do? Can we play with it now?" There was no rush to the next box, she practically had to be reminded that there were more to open because she was so enthralled with the one she had.

She's a great and many things, that Piper Jane. Thoughtful but wild. Sweet but stubborn. Independent but loving. Responsible but silly.



 And what is it to have a 3 year old? I'd say it's bittersweet...a word that I'm starting to think is just synonymous with motherhood. With a big emphasis on the sweet.

Mama: Why are you so big?
Piper: Because I growed.
Mama: When did that happen?
Piper: When my birthday coming up. That's when I was bigger!


(P.s. I asked Dustin how he would describe her, and he responded, "Awesome, wrapped in cuteness." So there's that.)
(P.p.s. For what it's worth, we decided then we would describe Fin similarly: Awesome, wrapped in bacon, wrapped in cuteness.)
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Show your real...hair.


Beauty? Not really my thing. 

I'm not trying to be all, "Don't look at me, I'm hid-eous!" I just mean that aside from nail polish, beauty products have never been my strong suit. I use Pantene shampoo because I always have...and...I own some sort of moisturizer that has SPF. That's about all I know. I somehow got the fashion bug (fashion gene? passion for fashion?) but I'm not a beauty product junkie in the least. I've always found it overwhelming...there are so many products out there, it seems impossible to keep up. Plus even if I could wade through the all the offerings, I'd still have to have the skills to use all that junk. Like I said...not my thing.

But just because I never became particularly knowledgeable or skilled in the beauty realm, doesn't mean I don't want to be beautiful. And specifically...I've always wanted to have long, thick, beautiful hair. Ugh, that sounds like the intro to a terrible infomercial.

Haven't you always wanted long, thick, beautiful hair? Of course you have! But now...you can!!

Ummmm...doubt it.
My hair has always been thin, and prone to breakage and two pregnancies haven't exactly helped. So I pretty much had come to terms with the fact that my hair was never going to be what I want it to be. Because no amount of browsing the shelves at Ulta for shampoos, gels, or ceramic straightening irons was going to give me what I needed- more hair.

I figured I had to accept my locks in life (hair pun!) or get extensions. And there was no way I was getting extensions. I mean...that's totally not my thing. They're expensive and complicated. Celebrities have them, not regular girls like me. (And by regular girls, I mean 30 year old moms who live in the suburbs and still use the same brand of hairspray from their childhood dance recitals...Oh gosh, who am I describing? What has become of my liiiiiife....?)

And besides, my thing is authenticity, I felt like couldn't do something so obviously fake. I mean, it's not like I'm some purity-obsessed mascara-shunning snob, but I just felt like hair extensions were shallow...Totally not hating on anyone who has them, I just couldn't quite get up the courage to admit that it mattered that much to me. Even though it kind of did.

So I texted my hairstylist (if you're not on that level with your stylist, I encourage you to get there...) and asked what he knew about extensions. He gave me some info while trying to talk me out of it, saying I should just accept what the the good Lord gave me. Yeah, no. I was too far down the mental path. I thanked him for the tips and told him I was going to find someone to "weave me pretty".

What I found instead, was hair in a bag, at Sally Beauty Supply.

Yep. I cut myself some slack, and bought myself some hair. And I kind of love it.


I went with a friend who is only slightly more hair-ignorant than I am to check them out...we must have asked 8,072 questions to the poor (beautiful) high-school girl who worked there, and eventually I left, $120 poorer, but the proud owner of a 14" bundle of dark blonde frost hair. (Real human hair, I might add!) We played beauty shop that night, and of course followed it with bathroom mirror selfie time....

There's definitely a learning curve to the whole thing, but honestly, it's not incredibly difficult. I can clip them in on my own, and it though it does take me at least 20 minutes to get them in and looking decent, I figure that's not too shabby for a novice like me. The miracle of it all is that the color is pretty much identical to mine (or at lease identical to my hair + highlights). They blend perfectly...it's sort of mind blowing.

The top looks kinda like a rat's nest here, but these pics are after wrangling two babies through a full church service, and attempting a quick family photoshoot outside...so don't judge too harshly.


It took a little bit of nerve to wear them out for the first time. They're a HUGE change for me, so I feel like a mermaid when I wear them...I'm constantly looking for people with hair that long just to prove that it's possible, and I don't automatically look like a huge fraud. But I've worn them to church, and to work, and out with friends, and everyone has said the same thing:
I had no idea your hair was so long!
Well....it's not.
And I'm totally honest whenever anyone comments on them. I figure, I don't have anything to hide...I tell them I always wanted hair like this, and it wasn't going to happen naturally, so I bought it. Simple as that. And everyone has been shocked that they're extensions. And the hilarious part is- every single girl who's seen them has been jealous! Not because I'm stunning, or skilled in the womanly art of beachy waves- just because they always wanted hair like that too or even contemplated extensions but thought it was something other girls do.

This particular day my bangs weren't cooperating, so they got clipped back. Can't win 'em all. 

So that's the story of my journey from medium-blah to occasionally-awesome...well in regards to hair, anyway. I don't wear my extensions every day, or even every week. And when I do, I don't transform into a transcendent goddess...But they are fun, and they do make me feel pretty. Turns out maybe that's allowed to be my thing too.

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P.s. Read about that one time I thought bangs were a good idea (they looked good for approximately one photo), or see my first baby's first haircut (because that's slightly related and completely adorable).

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Show Your Real: Kayla (+ an Instagram challenge)


I found Kayla's blog a few months ago, when someone pointed me to her post about being yourself online. I loved how openly she shared, and knew she'd be a perfect fit for the Show Your Real series. So when she sent over her guest post, I expected to love it...but I was surprised at how much it inspired me. I don't want to steal her thunder, so please keep scrolling to read her post (and leave a comment telling her how much you love it...especially because today is her birthday!) Then- click on over to my Instagram page for something extra fun...
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Ever look at your Instagram and think “these photos all look the same?” It’s the same lighting with similar cups of coffee and magazines perfectly spaced out on a white background repeated over and over again. It’s pretty, no doubt, but is it real? Probably not.


My life doesn’t look like that. If it was captured in a photo, the frame would show hot chocolate stains on a sheet of paper, scribbled out, very imperfect penmanship, and a girl who wears sweatpants with a beanie half of the week. It’s not perfect, but it’s me. It’s real.

I don’t want to fit the Instagram standard, or any standard for that matter. I want to stand out. My life shouldn’t look like anyone else’s because it’s mine, and I’m proud of that. We all should wear our uniqueness like a badge of honor. That’s what we should be sharing online: all of ourselves, even the imperfect parts.


Besides, life is not always beautifully put together. It’s not meant to be staged. It’s beautifully messy.


The next time you wish your life looked more like posh Instagram photographs, remember that pictures are deceiving. They can make us feel like everyone else has it all together when in reality, none of us do. When you compare your life to someone else’s online, you are comparing your behind-the-scenes look to their highlight reel. It’s all about perspective.


I for one, live for the candids, when the camera catches us mid-laugh and shows the true happiness that only comes from capturing spontaneous moments. These photos may not be posed or staged, but they steal my heart. They are what I remember.

I challenge you to #ShowYourReal this week on Instagram. Throw the perfect formula for a great Instagram photo out the window and focus on showing the real you. That’s where you’ll find freedom.
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Yes! There is freedom in being real...and there is community and encouragement, and inspiration, and acceptance, and beauty in showing your real. So all this week I'll be sharing on Instagram using the #showyourreal tag, telling pieces of my story that might not typically make it onto the "highlight reel", but are still (or especially!) worthy of sharing. And I'd love for you to join in...And I've got something extra special in store for you when you do. Head on over to my Instagram page for full details...

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http://bowdenisms.blogspot.com/search/label/showyourreal%20guest%20post

Show Your Real is a series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often surface-y interactions of social media. And you're all invited to participate! Please write, caption, comment, link, and hashtag to spread the #showyourreal love. And if you would like to contribute a guest post to the series, please email me (cjsbowden@gmail.com).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Little Pip-Speaks: 3rd Birthday Edition

Piper is 3. 

Somehow, it's been three years since this wild, tender-hearted animal changed everything about our lives. It feels like a lifetime. Or a day. She continues to change so fast I can't keep up with it, and I'm still struggling to find the exact right words to describe the complex mix of awesome that she is. But I desperately want to devote some time to writing about my girl. About this specific moment of "her" in the nonstop march of time that is a fleeting childhood. But that will have to happen another day. Because today I'm going to just smooch her little face as many times as she'll let me, and try to memorize exactly what her little voice sounds like when she says, "I love you, mama." 

So in honor of her birthday (and the one year anniversary of this blog series!) here's a round of her latest "Almost 3-isms":

http://bowdenisms.blogspot.com/search/label/little%20pip-speaks 
Piper on Smells: 
(She's weirdly into smells right now, so I actually compiled a little category...)
Pip-smell speak #1: Piper: Smell the bottle. It smells good. It smells like crackers.

Pip-smell speak #2:
Piper: Let me smell you. You smell good mama. You smell like coke.
Pip-smell speak #3:
Piper {In the bathroom at our neighbors' house}: I can't WAIT to smell the soap. {after trying it, and seeing the seascape on the Softsoap bottle}: It smells like fishies.

Piper on Halloween: 
Pip-spook speak #1:
Piper {in the car watching me run into a convenience store}: What is mommy getting?
Daddy: I don't know...
Piper: Maybe a costume!

Pip-spook speak #2:
Piper: {seeing a Party City store outside the car window}: There's a Halloween costume store!
Mama: Do you know what Halloween is?
Piper: Yes! You dress up like Halloween! You can dress like a kitty cat...or a dog...Or a purple kitty cat!

Piper, to her sister:

Pip-sis speak #1: 
Piper: Goodnight Finny. It's very time for your bedtime.

Pip-sis speak #2: 
Piper {looking for Fin}: Where is my little stinker?

Pip-sis speak #3: 
Piper: Finny! Lay down. Do I look like I'm kiddin' you?!

And general awesomeness: 
Pip-speak #1:
Piper: Let me tell you a joke.....{pause}....The snowman eats carrots. 
 


Pip-speak #2:
Piper: Where's daddy?
Mama: He's at church, practicing the banjo. 
Piper: Why? (also known as: every other word out of her mouth)
Mama: Because he's playing this Sunday and wants to do a good job for people.
Piper: No mommies play the banjo. Just boys.
Mama: Girls can play banjo if they want to.
Piper: But they don't have to. Last night (aka: any night that isn't right now) Daddy played banjo in my playroom and I helped him. You 'member that?
Mama: I don't think I was there.
Piper: You weren't. 'Member that mom?

Pip-speak #3: 
Piper {at Chick-fil-A}: I wanna order myself!.....{to the employee} I have a Chick-fiw-a and fruit.

Pip-speak #4:
Piper {praying before dinner}: Thank you for the food. Thank you for my girls. Amen.

Pip-speak #5:
{A few days after returning from Dustin's sister's, who happens to have a couple of pet turtles}
Piper: Turtles hide inside their shells when they're scared.
Mama: Any other times?
Piper: When it's winter.
Mama: What about when they're tired?
Piper: They sleep in Miss Ann's bathroom.

Pip-speak #6:
Mama {Asking about her sleepover with a friend from out of town}: Did you talk a little bit before you went to sleep?
Piper: Nope. {pause} I talked a LOT.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Costume Week: A beautiful day in the neighborhood

It's been a whirlwind of a week. Yes, I know it's only Monday...but today is the conclusion of this year's #costumeweekspooktacular, so I'm counting as part of the total. And the past few (8+) days have been jam packed with fun. We had a Trick or Treat event last weekend, the girls were dedicated at church on Sunday (like baptism for us less-denominational folks), plus we had a Fall Festival that afternoon at my parent's church (Dustin won the chili cookoff!) On Monday, I tried a new workout class (non related, but still noteworthy), Tuesday was our regular life group with church friends, and Thursday was Trick or Treat in my parent's neighborhood. We passed out candy at our house on Friday, and taught the neighbors to play spades. And then after a full day of preparation, we threw a 3rd birthday bash for Piper last night.

Whew.

I think we managed to pack in some old episodes of Parenthood in there (just made it to season 4. no spoilers!), but other than that, we have been running (one time almost literally, as I finally dragged myself onto the elliptical again). Oh, plus there's work of course, and Dustin has been busy here on the homefront: raising some babies, painting a couple rooms, cleaning out the garage AND the basement, and even landing some freelance work that required him to pull an all nighter. (He sleeps while I blog, and I don't blame him one bit.)

So that's the impromptu life update. But we all know you're really here for some Trick or Treat pictures. As you should be.
Well...Prepare to be NOT DISAPPOINTED.

(But first, some background, because I'm wordy like that):
Because the kids are still so little, I fully exercised my parental right to force them into costumes I deemed adorable, rather than letting them pick whatever cheesy princess garb they might have otherwise landed on. But, because I'm not dumb, I knew I'd be a lot more successful in getting my toddler to actually wear the costume if I also played to her tastes. And so- we landed on what our entire family agreed would be the most precious costumes in the whole wide world:

Daniel Tiger and Katerina Kitty Cat. 

If you don't know what I'm talking about....well, you probably don't have a pre-schooler, because Daniel Tiger is pretty much it for the under 4 set. I could go on forever, but bottom line- Pipes loves the show (It's the only thing she watches, and I don't even mean that in an obnoxious "we really believe in limiting screen time" humble brag kind of way. She just loves the guy...) and we think it's adorable with some really good (and catchy) lessons.

Blah blah blah, show us the costumes!!

 Rawr.

I told you Piper loves a Tiger, so getting to be her specific striped hero was pretty much a dream come true. She's been talking about her costume for weeks, and had even done a trial run with the tiger suite a few weeks ago (begging me to let her sleep in it...) And since Fin can't yet articulate her wishes, we went with the DT theme, and made her into the perfect little sidekick from the show. I mean...can you even?

I tired to not get my hopes up too high for participation, lest I spend hours on their costumes only to be met with screaming fits and refusal to let anything touch their heads. But they seriously ate it up. I have more trouble getting them into jammies every night...they climbed into these getups without a peep. Fin even wore mittens! I don't know what I did to deserve this tiny costume-lovin' mama win but I will take it.

You want to squish their faces. I know.

For those interested in the costume details, here's the rundown.
You can actually buy official Daniel Tiger costumes, but you know that's not my style. I also found a bunch of semi-complicated tutorials to fully fashion some from scratch, but that was a little more than I could manage at this point (see paragraphs 1/2). So I went the semi-homemade route..what I fully believe is the sweet spot of costuming.

Piper/Daniel:
  • Tiger costume- Craigslist
  • Red Hoodie- Once Upon a Child
  • Trolley patch- printed from a google image search, applied with packing tape
  • Watch- borrowed from Daddy
  • Shoes- Converse
  • Bucket- Target $1 Spot
Fin/Katerina:
  • White hoodie with ears- Old Navy (it actually had little round bear ears, so I just sewed them a bit to look more like pointy cat ears, and added a teal bow)
  • Green dress- Carters (Not a dead ringer for Katerina's frock, but super close, and can be worn again later. I sized up a touch to fit it over her hoodie, so it'll be perfect for Spring/Summer).
  • Tail- homemade with fur from Joann's, safety-pinned to the dress
  • Fur mittens- hand-me-downs from Piper
  • Tights- already owned
  • Shoes- Converse with yellow ribbons added
  • Bucket- Target $1 Spot
I don't want to pat myself on the back too much, but it was awesome that these costumes were incredibly warm (maybe even too much, as it was unseasonable nice out that evening), comfy, and easy to move in. Fin couldn't pick up a thing with her mittens, but she didn't want to take them off, so we compromised and had her wear one so she could still grab some treats. Piper had tiger mitts, which she loved earlier, but decided not to bother with the night of. Fine by me!

They were just the two sweetest trick or treaters you've ever seen. Piper enthusiastically said "Trick or Treating!" at each house, happily telling everyone who she was dressed as. Fin was quiet, taking things in as she tagged along, and she held a death grip on a bag of fruit snacks the whole time. She actually figured out a way to hold that bag while leaving her pointer finger free- so she could use that as a claw to grab additional candy without letting go of the fruit snacks.

 We hit up about six houses before they had their fill of walking and doorbell pushing...and since little legs move sllllloooooooowwwwwly, that was fine with us, because it was getting close to bedtime anyway. We headed back to G'mi and Papa's house to eat a treat or two, and see the rest of the trick or treaters.

Piper- keeping an eye out the window while munching on a Twix. 


Fin finally let go of the fruit snacks, but doesn't quite understand the concept of a lollipop.

I held out a little hope that we would get them gussied up the next night too, as our neighborhood held Trick or Treating on actual Halloween (for some reason as a kid we never had ours on Friday...or on Halloween. Something about football games, or vandalism rates...who knows...). But the forecast was calling for rain, and it ended up being a pretty miserable evening of cold drizzle. So we stayed inside (sans costumes) and played while giving out candy. We had 49 trick or treaters (you never know what to expect in a new neighborhood, but now I have it recorded for reference next year) and Piper greeted every last one. She proudly held out the gigantic candy bin, and repeated all of her practiced phrases, "Happy Halloween!" "You're Welcome!" (ok, nothing hard, but she was so excited to be a part of the action). She was a little wary of the whole thing at first, because she was worried we were giving out her candy, but I finally convinced her that no one was taking her precious stash. (Though even only going to a few houses, she still has more candy than a toddler needs for a year, so we'll have to figure out how to "lose" some of it over time. Kind of a bad time for Dustin and I to be limiting our sugar intake...

So there you have it. One for the books. (Literally, as this is the only form of baby book I do, so the documenting is for me as much as anything else.) Piper's birthday is tomorrow, and I'm all sorts of conflicted about it. But we'll save that pride-gushing, sentimental-weeping for another day.

Happy Halloween from our Neighborhood to yours.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Paint a pretty pumpkin

Happy Halloween!
While I work on culling through the one million adorable pictures of our Trick-or-Treating adventure, I thought it would be fun to share a little craft we did last weekend.

I was torn on what to do this year, because the kids are still a bit young for pumpkin carving, but Piper is old enough to want to do something, so I planned to paint pumpkins instead. I was originally thinking we'd just get some mini pumpkins and let the kids go to town, but then I came across this project on Martha Stewart's instagram (yes I follow her!) and the decision was made!





Martha actually has a tutorial on her site...But I bet you can guess the steps:
  • Pick a pumpkin
  • Tape the pumpkin. 
  • Paint the pumpkin. 
  • Let the pumpkin dry. 
  • Remove the tape from the pumpkin. 
  • Enjoy the pumpkin! 
So easy an almost three year old can do it. (and so can a 16 month old. As long as you watch to make sure she doesn't eat all the paint). Now that you've seen the professional result...let me show you our rendition:

She's a beaut, isn't she?

We didn't have any super narrow tape, so we just used some 1" wide tape we had on hand (it's something Dustin had from some old project or costume...but it's similar to painter's tape). We actually taped two pumpkins, but decided it was easier to just have us all work on one big one. It ended up taking us about a half hour, which is pretty much the entire attention span I can expect from the kiddos, so it worked out perfectly.
 As for other materials, we just used some washable kids' paint and some old brushes we already had. I'm pretty sure this means we can't leave the pumpkin out in the rain, but that risk is well worth it because it meant I could let these two animals get paint on anything they wanted (which was everything) without worrying.
It was the nicest October day Ohio has ever seen, so we elected to do the activity outside. We plopped their picnic table out in the backyard, partly because it would be easy to hose off, and partly because the lighting was awesome for pictures. Basically- Happy Dustin, Happy Courtney.
We got them suited up in giant bibs/smocks, gave each kid a plate of paint (eliminating waste and squabbles), and set Piper up with a cup of water so we could at least humor the idea of not mixing the colors, and set them loose. I didn't even have to show Fin what to do...these kids take to mess making, like ducks to water. She did manage to keep most of her "art" on the pumpkin or the plate, minus a few taste tests here and there.

Piper took her job very serious (no surprise there) and the set up of the table worked out perfectly to give each one of them a side of the pumpkin all to themselves. Days later, I'm still shocked they didn't get in a single fight, but keeping them separated seemed like the key to success.
We even managed to rock out a timer-pic of the whole family. Giant win.
Fin's attention span was a bit shorter than her sister's (I blame the doggies next door...she's equal parts fascinated/in love/terrified by them, so she has an eye on them pretty much at all times). But after she was done painting, she was plenty happy wiping paint all over her bib/the table/me.

But nothing a few wet wipes couldn't fix. And our group masterpiece was looking good.

Once Piper finished her side of the pumpkin, she set to work on her plate...



 She was exceptionally proud of that plate. We brought her project, and the pumpkin inside, leaving them on the kitchen table for a day or two until all the major gobs (of which there were many) were dry.
Then off came the tape, and out went the finished product.
Not a direct match to our inspiration piece, but it was fun, and at least has a bit of an artsy vibe mixed with the toddler chaos.

If you've still got pumpkins, it's a fun project to do, even with the littlest of littles.

So Happy Halloween and Happy Weekend...see you next week for the wrap up of this year's #costumeweekspooktacular!