a rainbow horse birthday party (kaya’s 4th birthday!)

Kaya had been saying that she wanted a “rainbow Chance party” for the majority of the past year. Like most people, you probably have no idea who Chance is… Well, he’s a horse who lives over at the barn I used to volunteer at during college. His pasture was right behind our old neighborhood, so Kaya saw him fairly frequently. I don’t know what it is about that gray horse, but he’s been her favorite for quite a while!

She loved her rainbow party last year, so she requested that again, too. What’s better than rainbows and horses combined?

We kicked off her party day with her favorite donuts. Daddy took the girls to our local donut shop to pick them up, and of course, Kaya chose mostly chocolate cake donuts or chocolate-frosted ones with sprinkles!
_mg_5162 This cake… oh this cake. It might not look like much, but it turned out to be a major labor of love. I actually ended up decorating the entire thing twice because it fell apart overnight… and then it started drooping again before she blew out her candle._mg_5176I think the decorations failed to stay on because I used a new death-by-chocolate recipe that was incredibly moist (and also called for using cooking spray and no flour on the cake pans when baking). It was the easiest cake ever to remove from the pans… but that also meant that the frosting didn’t stay on well at all. It tasted amazing, and I’d definitely use the recipe again, but not for a birthday cake with any kind of buttercream decorations.

The horses are from Playmobil. They really are so cute and well-made, and I’m glad I chose these!_mg_5189This little girl loved her cake so much (and couldn’t wait to play with the horses, of course)!
_mg_5170 _mg_5174 She was so excited for us to sing to her!_mg_5200 _mg_5202 Seriously… this cake was almost as fudgy as a brownie. Mmm._mg_5206 _mg_5208 Some of her presents included undies…_mg_5211 …a Hello Kitty shirt…_mg_5212 … and a “Chance” stuffed animal. She had asked for a “Chance snuggly animal”, and her reaction was just as adorable as I had hoped._mg_5216 Chance has gone everywhere with us ever since. I think he’s going to be a long-term favorite!_mg_5217 Her big gift was this horse stable from Grandma Debbie. I think Lelia and I enjoyed playing with it just as much as Kaya!_mg_5225During all the present-opening, Kaelyn had a good time goofing off with Uncle Jeff. These girls sure do love their aunts and uncles. 🙂
_mg_5220 We kept the decorations as low-key as ever, but we did surprise her with these cute horse balloons!_mg_5232 She also got to wear a fun rainbow tutu, which pretty much made her day!_mg_5237 _mg_5240 Jeff and Lelia brought their puppy, Fallon, so my girls had a great time playing with her all weekend._mg_5246 After the party, we cooked breakfast for dinner. French toast…_mg_5248 … scrambled eggs, and bacon!_mg_5249

Kaya even had a perfect day in Primary at church on Sunday. She got to stand up in front of everyone with her special birthday card while everyone sang to her (and I might have teared up watching from the back of the room… motherhood does crazy things to you!). They also had a lesson about God’s creatures, so her teacher brought in a cat for them to visit with (if you know Kaya, you know she loves cats)!

With all her rainbows, horse gifts, playing with Fallon, and holding a cat in Primary, I think she really had the perfect birthday weekend.

Happy Birthday Sweetie! I hope this is one you remember!

a rubber ducky birthday party (kaelyn’s 2nd birthday!)

I’m finally blogging about Kaelyn’s 2nd birthday party! Anytime I take a lot of photos all at once, it seems like it takes me a while to actually go through them all and share them. I definitely snapped a lot of pictures that day (June 25th), in part because I’m still adjusting to the lighting in our new home, so I kept changing my camera settings and trying different things. Many of these photos aren’t perfect, but I’m grateful I have them to remember my littlest’s special day.

Anyway… Grandma Debbie came up to stay with us for a few days, and as seems to be tradition, Kaelyn took a nap on her right before the party! We started our celebrations at 2 pm, so this little catnap was actually very much needed in order to avoid an afternoon meltdown._MG_3257 Kaelyn absolutely loves rubber ducks and gets SO excited anytime she sees one that she has to yell “QUACK!” over and over again. I knew she would be ecstatic with these rubber duck balloons!_MG_3261 Hugs for the ducky!_MG_3264 Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn brought her some more fun balloons when they arrived!_MG_3407This was one seriously happy little girl._MG_3267 I made her cake super simple this year. The only real goals were for it to look like water and have some bubbles and rubber ducks on top._MG_3269 I used this lemon cake recipe (minus the blueberries) with this frosting recipe, which I think pretty much equaled perfection. What’s better than a lemon cake on a summer day? (Not to mention, I almost always make chocolate cake, so this was a nice change!)_MG_3276 _MG_3293 We started the party off with Kaelyn’s favorite food- pizza!_MG_3280 _MG_3282_MG_3283 _MG_3291_MG_3307 Soon it was time to blow out the candle (and she was still in love with her balloons)!_MG_3317 _MG_3314I am so blessed to call these two precious girls mine.
_MG_3325Kaya was extremely excited for the party, and it wasn’t even her birthday! She is definitely looking forward to her own special day in a couple of months._MG_3320 _MG_3329 Kaya ended up helping Kaelyn blow out the candle, because she had absolutely no idea what to do! We completely forgot to “practice” beforehand._MG_3333 Well… this is the best family picture we could get. I kind of think it’s hilarious._MG_3334 She loved her lemon cake!_MG_3345 Everyone had blue lips afterward…_MG_3347After cake, she opened a few gifts.
_MG_3353 _MG_3355 We gave her this VTech Horse Stable that both girls have loved building and playing with together._MG_3357 My mom’s friend, Susan, sent her this stuffed penguin and a couple of books. She loves stuffed animals so much that she snatched it out of the bag as fast as she could, with the biggest grin on her face._MG_3362Uncle Jeff and Auntie Lelia gave her some money for her 529 college fund. It’s definitely something she will appreciate when she’s older!_MG_3360

Grandma Debbie gifted her a rubber duck water table. Obviously, she has absolutely loved this over the past couple of weeks!_MG_3369 After gifts, I tried to get a couple of pictures of her in her birthday outfit, mostly to no avail. She did like standing next to Fallon (Jeff and Lelia’s dog), though._MG_3376 _MG_3380 We had to test out the water table, of course. Everyone ended up getting pretty wet!_MG_3384 _MG_3388 Kaya insisted that she needed her swimsuit… and when she came back out after changing into it, she was still wearing her undies and socks, haha!_MG_3392 We had one happy (and tired) princess at the end of the day. I really think this was the perfect birthday party for her._MG_3398

We love you, Kaelyn!

my birthday: post-it notes and minions

It always seems like I’m counting down until my birthday for forever… and then it’s here and over in the blink of an eye. It’s hard to believe that Kaelyn’s birthday is next in our little family. I guess I better start planning because it’ll be here before we know it!

My birthday started out with my favorite activity: running! I managed to get in 5 miles, and it felt even more refreshing than usual because it had been too cold (we’re talking severe wind chills and “real feels” in the negatives) to go outside for most of the week.

I came home from exercising and found that my mirrors had been attacked by post-it notes! Michael wrote my favorite “Happy, Happy Birthday” song on them and put them up in the shape of a heart. Sorry, but you totally get a bathroom-mirror selfie for this. How else was I supposed to get a picture of it? (and yes, I never went to BYU-I, but I’m wearing their shirt because my brother and sister-in-law sent it to me, and it’s pretty much the most comfortable tee ever.)

Michael put even more post-it notes on our bedroom mirror. This time, he wrote down some of the most significant things I’ve done for our family in this past year. It was pretty neat to see the influence I’ve had as a wife and mom through so many small actions.Other than that, we had a pretty normal day at home. We did a lot of laundry and cleaning up. Kaya spent a good part of the day singing “happy birthday” to me (and anyone else she could think of). She also warned me that I couldn’t stay in the (nice, warm) shower “all day” because then I would “miss my party”. Haha. Luckily for her, my shower didn’t last 10 hours.

I watched a friend’s kids for about an hour in the afternoon, and she surprised me with cupcakes from Bubblecakes! I’ve been dying to try these, and they definitely lived up to the hype.

Michael came home from work, and then he took Kaya out to pick up pizza and a cake for me. She was looking forward to this all day. She chose the perfect cookie cake, and even carried it all through Kroger.

Kaelyn and I stayed home, and while we were waiting, Katherine dropped by with a hug and a sweet surprise! I have some fantastic friends.

Kaelyn was tired of waiting for pizza, so she busted out the snack container I keep in the diaper bag and started chowing down. I tried to get her to make the same expression as me for a photo… I guess we were a little bored, because we made so many attempts that Google Photos automatically created this collage for me. Haha.

Nailed it.

Michael and Kaya returned home close to 7 pm, and it was finally time to party! I love cookies much more than cake, so this was perfect for me._MG_0942 I wanted my babies to help me blow out the candles again this year. Can we just take a moment to remember how little they were last year? (seriously, Kaelyn’s chubby cheeks. I just can’t handle the cuteness!)_MG_0945 It took a few tries, but we finally did it together!_MG_0951We ended the evening by renting “Minions” (Kaya’s choice) and snuggling up on the couch together. My arms were full, and so is my heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday.

a “rainbow rainbow cat” birthday party

I can’t believe it, but Kaya’s 3rd birthday party has already come and gone! It always feels like I spend more time preparing for it than the amount of time the party actually lasts.

This year was the most fun by far, because she had been asking about her birthday for months (especially after seeing Kaelyn have a special cake and presents). She all but counted down the days… she was so excited! When she woke up on Saturday morning, she immediately looked down the hallway to see if I decorated… and the biggest grin came over her face when she saw the streamers. She ran through them and excitedly proclaimed “it mine birt-day!” several times.

Michael took her down to the local bakery (a.k.a. the best place in town) to get some special birthday donuts. Can you tell what kind we like the most?

_MG_9252We practiced singing and blowing out the candles at breakfast! 🙂 _MG_9254 _MG_9255 We moved the table and put up some balloons and streamers (thank you to Lelia and my mom for lending me a hand)!_MG_9267 _MG_9269 Kaya’s request this year was a “rainbow rainbow cat” cake. I actually made it the day before the party, so for once, I didn’t stress about getting it done on the morning of. The ruffles are buttercream and the little cat is made of fondant. Kaya saw the cat a day early, and immediately told me “I want to hold him”. I told her she had to wait until her party, and she said “But I need him!” in the sweetest, most tender little voice. I guess he looked enough like a real kitten, then, to get that reaction out of her. 😉_MG_9261 Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn came. I think he spent the whole party trying to win Kaelyn over. He even hand-fed her some pizza! She alternated between crying when she saw him and wanting to sit on his lap…_MG_9271 Uncle Jeff and Auntie Lelia drove up all the way from Richmond!_MG_9272We sang “happy birthday”, and she was beaming the whole time. _MG_9276 _MG_9278 _MG_9281 She even blew out all three candles on the first try!_MG_9284 We had cake and ice cream, and then it was present time! Honestly, we were all starting to crash a little at this point, especially the birthday girl. Going two days without a nap and eating a ton of cake will do that to you!_MG_9288 She was spoiled with a Fisher Price DoodlePro, a stuffed Daniel Tiger, and lots of books!_MG_9290 Michael and I gave her a “GoGo My Walking Pup”, and she wasn’t so sure about having a robotic dog around at first, but now she loves walking and “feeding” her. (also, present-opening apparently makes a HUGE mess!)_MG_9299We had an amazing party and a wonderful weekend.

And because I just love these little videos that Google automatically puts together, I have to share this one:

We love you so much Peeky! Seeing you truly enjoy your day was my favorite part of everything.

kaelyn’s 1st birthday: a giraffe party!

I don’t know why I took so long to put up this post, seeing that her party was two weeks ago already. Whoops! Finally, here it is, my sweet baby’s first birthday party! It wasn’t anything fancy, but we really had the best time with family and friends. My heart is so full knowing how many people love our little princess.

We had a giraffe-themed party, since Kaelyn really seemed to get especially excited over any and all giraffe toys for a while. I made the cake, and was inspired by this to try to make it 3-dimensional. This was my first-ever attempt at something like this, and while it is far from perfect, I am definitely proud of the result! The body was cake and the rest was make of Rice Krispies Treats.

06272015collage4 This girl only wanted to pull crazy-faced smiles that day! I think her grandmas brought this on…06272015collage3 Love my girl.06272015collage2 So many presents for such a tiny baby! Don’t look too hard at the cake… his ears were already falling off at this point, and by the time we cut the cake, his whole head was crumbling. It was a hot day, his head was too heavy, and I probably should have used more marshmallows to glue his head together. Now I know for next time!_MG_8211 The decor was pretty simple. I loved having all twelve months of my princess on display!_MG_8214When we sang “Happy Birthday”, Michael and I automatically filled in “Baba Grace” instead of saying “Kaelyn”. Whoops. We might call her by her Kaya-given nickname more than her real moniker. She wasn’t sure what to think of the candle!_MG_8219 She had no idea what to do with her cake. She did get some on her finger… and when she just barely tasted it, she was disgusted. I promise the cake was good! I’m sure things will be different next year. 🙂06272015collage1 Big sister got to help open all the gifts. This was the highlight of her week after everything she endured just a few days before._MG_8237 _MG_8238I think this piano was the biggest hit. Naturally, everyone wanted to play with it at the same time.
_MG_8261 _MG_8242 Our good friend Caroline loved being in on the action! For some reason, this picture just cracks me up._MG_8258 Kaelyn’s big gift from Mommy and Daddy was a Little People farm. She loves it!_MG_8265 Daddy left this as a  surprise on my camera… It’s the only picture he’s in besides the group one (whoops), so I figured I’d throw it in. Also… #kittyphotobomb_MG_8235I’m grateful that so many people could come to the party! Bianca and her girls left before we snapped this picture._MG_8274 And then of course I had to do something crazy, like put my baby in a bucket, tie balloons to it, and take her picture._MG_8287Also, let me just mention- same bucket, same baby, one year ago. I cannot believe she was so small!_MG_3270 Back to the present…_MG_8281

Love this little scrunchy, double-toothed grin._MG_8285Happy 1st Birthday Princess! We love you more than you know!

rose garden cupcakes

Confession: I made these cupcakes for a church party last spring, and never posted them! They’re just too cute to not share, and they could serve as inspiration for someone’s baking endeavors, so I say better late than never!

_MG_1666The roses were actually pretty easy- I followed this tutorial! I cut the leaves out by hand with a knife.
_MG_1677Just make your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and top it with your favorite chocolate buttercream. Crush up some chocolate-filled Oreos (I used store brand), dip the frosted cupcakes into the crumbs, and voila! You have fake dirt for your garden.
_MG_1690And there you go… perfect for a spring garden party!

five on friday: dishes, cupcakes, and a bus ride

Happy first day of SPRING! (although we’re totally having a gross, rainy, chilly day here!)

ONE. Kaya has had a lot of fun “washing dishes” this week! Our dishwasher broke and maintenance had to order a part for it, so it took until today to get it back in working order. Kaya definitely didn’t mind playing with the soap bubbles and pouring water into a couple of bowls I gave her to use._MG_6807 TWO. We had a couple of warm days this week, so naturally, we made the most of our time outside. I ran around the playground like a wild woman with my girls on Tuesday… and then they took the longest naps. Four hours for Kaya and three for Kaelyn. I even had a nap. It was magical. Seriously._MG_6801 THREE. Last night was our church Relief Society birthday dinner. I brought some cupcakes (bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?)! What better theme to decorate them around than SPRING! I used a different buttercream recipe that didn’t hold its shape quite as well as my usual one, so I really don’t think these are my best work… but hey, at least they were colorful (and quite delicious)!_MG_6815FOUR. Kaya had her first-ever ride on the BUS this week! Michael has been talking about taking her on one for ages now, so he finally just did it! The highlight of their ride? Finding leaves on the sidewalk when they got off. I love my crazy girl.Processed with VSCOcam with s1 presetFIVE. I forgot to include this photo in Tuesday’s post, and it’s just too cute to leave out! Daddy, daughter, and cookies. There aren’t many things better than that!_MG_6778Happy weekend!

Linking up with Christina and friends today!

birthday weekend

It’s taken me over a week to write about my birthday, because my mom was originally planning to come up and celebrate with us this past weekend. However, due to 500 inches of snow (okay, okay, more like 14), she didn’t get to come. We missed her, but still had a great weekend!

Michael surprised me with these decorations (and donuts!) on the morning of my real birthday! With all the dreary winter days we’ve had here, these decorations have helped brighten everything up. I probably won’t take them down until the end of the month!
_MG_6419 My friend Brittany really surprised me when she made a cake and brought it to our institute class that evening! You have to love the hashtag! #obviouslythisisasocialmediathemedcakeProcessed with VSCOcam with a8 preset My sweethearts baked me a cake this past Saturday night! Kaya had so much fun helping in the kitchen._MG_6525 She’s a mini supervisor!_MG_6530 Too little to help, but too cute to leave out her picture._MG_6527 Dark chocolate cake with cookie dough frosting… as I requested. Mmmm! Also, we apparently didn’t have a “2” candle, so Michael turned a “5” backwards, haha! Having a homemade cake meant so much to me._MG_6532There’s no better gift on your birthday than being with the people you love most.
_MG_6534 We blew the candles out four or five times… Kaya’s getting a lot of practice for her next birthday cake!_MG_6539Here’s to 27!

friday favorites: christmas edition

These are a few of my favorite [Christmas-y] things…

… sitting by the Christmas tree at night (and of course, taking a bokeh picture. #photographynerdalert)!
Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset … festive sprinkles on cupcakes for the church Christmas party!Processed with VSCOcam with kk1 preset … how this little girl watched and waited all day long while I made the cupcakes. She was so happy when she finally got her treat at the party!Processed with VSCOcam with a9 preset… my two peas in a pod, enjoying some “Feliz Navidad”-themed dinner.
Processed with VSCOcam with a9 preset … the giant Christmas tree at the mall!Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset … decorating gingerbread cookies! I am so completely obsessed with gingerbread this year and my sweet tooth has been making that extremely obvious.Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetgingerbread playdough! Seriously. It smells heavenly and was so much fun to play with!_MG_5767 … two cute baby friends in matching polkadot reindeer pajamas!_MG_57566 more days!

a kitty birthday (kaya’s 2nd birthday party!)

Kaya’s actual birthday was on a Friday, but we waited until Saturday to have her real celebration. As it turns out, Friday mornings are pretty crazy at our house! She did get to eat (almost) as many chocolate donut holes as she wanted, and I sang happy birthday to her at breakfast time (Daddy was already at work). Her friend Mia came over for a couple hours that night, and they had the best time two crazy, fun toddler girls can have together (just picture them jumping on Kaya’s bed, dancing, and sharing pizza)! 🙂

Since her real birthday was so low-key, I definitely wanted to make sure the day of her party started off with some true excitement. I hung a bunch of balloons from the ceiling for her to see as soon as she woke up and walked into the hallway. She was a little timid at first, but she spent a good part of the day running through them and yelling “baoons!”_MG_4187Her next surprise was in the living room. Her big gift from us was her very own slide (yes, we are those crazy parents with a slide in their apartment… but hey, it actually folds up if we ever wanted to put it away). She pretends that everything and anything is a slide (and we even used a folding table as one, once), so having a real one definitely won’t go to waste!

She was so surprised!

One happy girl._MG_4200

_MG_4202Her actual party was very simple. I wanted to do something I thought she’d love, so I chose to base it off of her very favorite little buddy- Kitty, of course!_MG_4209I actually love how the cake turned out! It looked just like her stuffed animal! Honestly, though… Kaya didn’t even notice it was Kitty. I’m still glad I put the effort into though, because it’s still something meaningful to her, and I know one day we’ll look back on this and it’ll be a sweet memory._MG_4211IMG_4215_MG_4220I made a felt applique shirt for her, and she actually did notice that and liked it!_MG_4225_MG_4226She loved her cake this year! Who can resist dark chocolate? (answer: no one. duh.)_MG_4234She opened her presents all on her own! As usual, she was spoiled with some really awesome gifts._MG_4239_MG_4241Her favorite thing might’ve actually been the fruit snacks Uncle Kevin and Aunt Tori sent all the way from Utah. Grandpa couldn’t feed them to her fast enough! 🙂_MG_4244We’re so grateful for all our friends and family who were here to celebrate our sweet girl with us! (And yeah, photography fail- the birthday girl ended up hiding behind Mike’s head in this picture…)!
_MG_4246Happy 2nd birthday, Kaya Bird! We love you so very much!_MG_4255