kaya’s 7th birthday party (a rainbow cat party… again!)

Kaya’s 7th birthday party was bright, happy, and beautiful, just like our girl. She had requested a “rainbow unikitty” birthday cake this year, but when I made the little gum paste cat cake topper, he was just so adorable as he was that I wanted to leave the horn off. Kaya was okay with that- she was so in love with this little kitty and never wanted to eat it. I’m slowly getting better at these little animal figurines, and I’m really having a lot of fun doing them.MEOW!Four years ago (how was it that long ago already?), per 3-year-old Kaya’s request, we had a “rainbow rainbow cat” party. It was fun to take that same theme and kind of recreate it.We had spent the morning at the zoo (a dream come true for Kaya), where she had her face painted as a kitty. How perfect! Grandma Debbie, Grandma Gina, and Grandpa Skip were all able to be there, so we had quite a pile of presents on the table for this party.When I see this picture, I can’t help but think of our first pictures together with her as a baby, and as a new family of three. Can the years please slow down a little? She is growing into such a wonderful person, but her birth day still feels like yesterday, and I just can’t figure out where all the years went. She actually blew out the candle on the first try!

Mmmm chocolate cake!I had to put our little Dalmatian girl in here, too.Dalmatians like cake.We had some present time…A silver Hello Kitty necklace……a Fingerling giraffe……tights!…Reese’s!…shoes!…books from The Good and the Beautiful!…the perfect shirt from Grandma Debbie……panda jammies! Do they make these in my size?And perhaps her favorite… Smokey the cat! …and a Hatchimal baby!There were many thank-you hugs all around. This girl is sweet.The best part of all was that she told me her birthday was even better than she imagined it would be, and her favorite part was the special cake. That means the world to me.

We love you, Kaya! Happy 7th Birthday!

michael’s 32nd birthday!

The girls helped me make a perfectly simple birthday celebration for their Daddy. They were so excited to put everything together for him before he got home from work, and I just love their enthusiasm and joy over celebrating each other on our special days.

We had a playdate in the morning, and then I took all of them up to the closest grocery store so we could load up on cake-making supplies. We wanted to cover his birthday cake with candies, so we raided the candy aisle like we never had before, which made the girls so excited.I don’t take them all out shopping often at all, but every time I do, everyone else always stares at us or says something. My kids are generally very well-behaved, so I’m not sure if the onlookers are just amazed to see that many kids with one mom (I get, “Are they all yours?” a lot!), or that they are all girls or what. Anyway, we had a successful shopping trip!We made a homemade Hershey’s chocolate cake, and Kaya and Kaelyn had the best time decorating it with as much candy as I’d allow them to use. Nella was so excited about having the party that she didn’t want to nap, but she went to sleep for a little while, and she was very happy to see the cake when she woke up!YUM. I think we need a repeat of this cake.Then, we got to sing happy birthday! This seems to be everyone’s favorite part. Eve was ready to dig right in!

Of course, there were some shenanigans from the birthday boy. The girls made him all these homemade presents and even wrapped them up, like leaves on paper… …some custom artwork……and REESE’S!!! Because we didn’t have enough candy, obviously.I also surprised him by signing him and the older girls up for a day of indoor rock climbing. Everyone was pumped and couldn’t wait to go.This was the moment Nellie waited for all day. She gave up on the fork, but when you’re two, no one minds much. I can’t wait to see her excitement over her own birthday soon.The next day, Michael, Kaya, and Kaelyn went to the climbing gym and had a great time. I’m glad they could spend some special time together. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEST FRIEND! We are so lucky to have you and love you so much. (P.S.- You’re officially older than me now, old man!)

eve’s first birthday (a monkey party)!

I’m very loosely calling Eve’s first birthday, “a monkey party”, mostly because the only monkey there (besides the wild and crazy birthday girl) was this little gum paste figure on the cake. I decided to make a monkey cake topper at the very last minute, because one of Evie’s biggest personality traits is how loudly she can yell! She’s also really great at climbing and just getting into everything in general… so what would be better for her little cake than a monkey?This “cake” was actually a giant brownie that I made in a springform pan. It was easy, and we actually like brownies more than cake, anyway. The only downside is that frosting doesn’t really stick to the sides of a brownie-cake. It still works in this case, since the brownie just looks like the dirt under the jungle grass! Someone was excited to party!!! This was possibly the smallest party we’ve ever had, since none of our extended family could make it (Michael and I also had colds, so we were all for keeping it simple, anyway). It was still just as special.Yay!Watching a baby’s reaction to dessert never gets old. Eve put her fingers in it immediately!See that smudge of green frosting under her chin? She also wore the same special birthday shirt that my mom bought for Nella when she turned one.Nella was pretty excited for the party, too.We didn’t actually light the candle, but we sang and let her get nice and close to the cake… I think she likes birthdays.

I love you, Evie.All her sisters were incredibly excited. I’m just glad they wanted to get in a picture!She dove frosting-first into the brownie! She loved it, but she still gave me some pretty funny faces.Grandma Debbie was here the previous week for Kaelyn’s party, and she brought Eve a few birthday gifts to open early.A toy phone… Eve’s favorite thing! She is always stealing our phones and remotes.And a couple of cute outfits that she’ll be able to grow into! Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip came to visit two weeks after her birthday, and brought her a bubble machine!She also got the biggest container of bubbles I’ve ever seen!Happiness! I know she won’t remember her first birthday, but I hope that one day, she’ll look back at the pictures and be able to tell how special she’s always been to us.

We love you, Eve!

my birthday! (2019)

My birthday this year was so simple, sweet, and special. My girls and my best friend planned a few activities for the evening, and it was just perfect for me.

Kaya and Kaelyn were so excited about my birthday (probably more than they ever have been) that they were jumping on my bed the night before it, yelling, “It’s almost Mommy’s birthday!” They sang to me first thing in the morning, and after quiet/nap time, Kaya came out of her room with this very thorough “birthday festivities” list she had written all on her own (with some brainstorming from Kaelyn).I love these little ladies and their enthusiasm so much! Kaelyn insists that any birthday girl must wear this birthday crown that Grandma Gina gave her for her 4th birthday, so I had fun being the “Birthday Princess” for the night! (Also, is it just me, or do they happen to look like teenagers here?)Michael brought home some Chinese- one of my favorite dinners! Mmm.
After dinner, Michael banned me from the kitchen so that he and the oldest three girls could bake a cake. I nursed Eve, and then she rolled around on the floor while I folded laundry and listened to a podcast. It was actually pretty great to have quiet time!Michael’s life lesson from this cookie cake: don’t put the candles in until it’s completely cooled! There was a lot of wax in the middle, but we cut that part out. It was sooo delicious!
I love this picture so much. This is a true Nella face for sure!Mmmm.Now, I know almost everyone would say presents are the best part of a birthday… but these gifts right here truly came straight from my girls’ hearts. Kaya’s own sheet of Hello Kitty stickers, cards from both Kaya and Kaelyn, and something that Kaya wanted to spend her own allowance on for me (she also wrapped it herself)!Kaya immediately hopped into my usual role at their birthday parties… the paparazzi! Look behind her, and you’ll see Nella holding her Beagle up in an attempt to make me smile, just like we often do for her!A rare voluntary picture with Nellbells…Homemade cards and homemade hugs! 🙂New slippers from Kaya!The best part of this gift was seeing how happy she was when I opened it. She’s got a heart of gold.So comfy.I just loved all these cards so much. “I LU” is how Kaelyn writes “I love you” right now.They really know how to make a day special.

nella’s 2nd birthday party!

We celebrated our sweet Nellbells’ birthday two whole months ago already… but I think I’ll likely be playing catch-up on here forever, so here it is! We had her party a little later than we usually would, since that was the only weekend Grandma Debbie could come up. It was a simple little celebration, but our girl definitely felt loved and cherished, which is all that matters.

She had no idea that the entire day would be full of festivities just for her. Daddy and I picked up three mylar balloons for her that morning, and she was instantly happy when we came home and surprised her with them.She liked hiding in them……and most of all, bouncing on them! Unfortunately, bouncing on your balloons does make them deflate faster! I made her a simple cake, with no particular theme this time. Roses on the top and sprinkles on the sides!She started to catch on that this day was just for celebrating her and how precious she is to our family. She was even a good sport for some pictures, which is not an easy feat for any two-year-old! My sweet sweet angel. We sang to her, and she sat there so calmly while she waited for us to finish. She had no idea she was supposed to blow out the candle!Daddy helped her the first time! Then, she surprised us by doing it all on her own! I still can’t believe she’s big enough to do things like this. Mmmm, chocolate!Nella dug right into her cake! She made a huge mess and really enjoyed herself.She definitely ate more cake than either of her sisters did at their second birthday parties.Grandma Debbie was the only guest for this party (everyone had just been here a couple of weeks prior, so I knew we wouldn’t have many visitors this time)! She enjoyed some Evie snuggles.After cake, Nella was actually excited to open her presents!Grandma gave her a small Mickey Mouse and a couple of outfits! My Mom and I went in together on a nice doll stroller for her (I’m done with all the $10 ones that break after a couple of months)…. Daddy put it all together, but Nella cried because she wanted to sit in it herself (I guess it looks too much like our real stroller)! She’s since figured it out and really enjoys it, but that first day was rough!We love you so much, Nellie Bellie. These two years with you have already gone by so fast, and you might not be a baby anymore, but you’ll forever be our Sunshine Girl. Happy 2nd birthday sweetie!

kaya’s 6th birthday (a unicorn party)!

We celebrated Kaya’s birthday at the end of September (postponed by a week due to the uncertainty of hurricane Florence’s effect on our region), but I’m so excited to be catching up and sharing some of her special day.Kaya is perhaps the most birthday-enthused person in our family (which is saying A LOT, because I’m pretty into birthdays myself), so it’s always a little extra fun to surprise her and make her wishes come true. Ever since her 5th birthday, she’d been counting on having a unicorn-themed party for her 6th. She wanted her cake to be rainbow (for the 3rd year!), so I obliged, but switched things up a little with some rainbow rosettes. My attempt at a fondant unicorn fell flat (literally) late the night before the party, so I ended up printing a unicorn, laminating it, and attaching it to a popsicle stick. I was worried she’d be disappointed, but when she saw the finished cake, she unexpectedly threw her arms around me, squeezed me tight and said, “You did so GREAT!” It was my favorite moment of such a wonderful day.We had unicorn headbands for our three oldest girls (although Nella napped through the entire gig).Have you ever seen anyone happier on her birthday?We let her blow out the candle six times. Why not? Whenever we take these birthday pictures of just the birthday girl and us parents, I can’t help but remember the first picture we ever took with her. It seems like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time. Chocolate cake! Not to brag, but I think this was the best-tasting cake I’ve made so far. It was moist and rich, and the frosting was the creamiest. It had chilled in the refrigerator, so the coolness of the cake was delectable. Uncle Jeff, Auntie Lelia, and Cousin Bryce got to come up and celebrate with us! We were so happy to have them here.Grandma Debbie was here for the party, too!She’s already getting to that age where she asks for more expensive items… so that means she had just a few things to open. I liked the simplicity of it. Hatchimals from Grandma Debbie! She has been talking about these for over a year and was so excited to finally have her own!Kaya had already guessed what this one from us would be…“ROBOTIC PONY!!!”And some money for her 529 from Uncle Jeff, Auntie Lelia and Bryce! It was so funny to hear her read her card aloud as soon as she opened it.Grandma Gina and Grandpa Skip arrived close to dinnertime, so Kaya got to enjoy a second round of presents. A book light!And slippers!We waited until the next day to open her Hatchimals, since we knew it could take a while for them to actually come out, and we were all pretty exhausted by the end of her party. Kaya had so much fun tilting and rubbing the egg, and when they finally broke through, it was pretty exciting. She named her new babies “Flappy” and “Cuddly” and has loved taking care of them.

It was so wonderful to celebrate our girl and have so much of our family here to do it with us. These birthday weekends are some of my favorite memories.

Happy 6th Birthday Kaya!

michael’s 31st birthday!

We celebrated Michael’s birthday at the end of August (I’m still catching up over here), and although we didn’t do anything too crazy, the girls were so excited to make his day a special one.

We spent the afternoon baking a cake for him before he came home from work. Kaya, Kaelyn, and Nella were all eager to help out!
After they helped mix it, we baked it, let it cool, and then put some homemade chocolate frosting on top. The appropriate question to ask here would be, “Do you want some cake with your frosting?”Nella was taste-testing everything she could get on her spoon. She made a pretty big mess, but she looked so cute doing it. What’s sweeter than a baby covered in chocolate?If you thought there was a lot of frosting on the cake, well… there were even MORE sprinkles. I let the girls decorate it the way they wanted to, and at the end of it all, my big tub of sprinkles was nearly empty. Michael loved it!Kaya and Kaelyn worked so hard on all these handmade presents for their Daddy. Kaya made him a dot-to-dot coloring page, and Kaelyn made him a giant birthday necklace. They even wrapped it all, and then they set the table up just the way I do for their birthdays- presents on the right, and cake on the left. There was so much excitement and silliness happening while blowing out the candles!Kaya had also made him a custom paper birthday headband to wear.A balloon covered in Minnie stickers, from Kaelyn, of course.All while Eve slept peacefully in her bouncer seat. She has no idea what crazy fun awaits her with these sisters of hers.Michael’s birthday also marks ten years (to the day) that we met. I never could have guessed then that we’d end up married and with four precious baby girls who bring us so much joy. I’m so thankful for my best friend and for all these rambunctious birthday memories we get to make.

three little valentine’s princesses

This is just another one of those things that I completely forgot to post! I have to take us back in time to February, just once more, because I can’t resist sharing these “Valentine’s” pictures of my adorable princesses.My visiting teacher had us over to her house (along with another sister she visits) for a little Valentine’s party. This was so perfect, because the whole previous week, I had been thinking about all the fun things we used to do for this holiday when I was a kid in elementary school, and slightly lamenting that Kaya wouldn’t get to do any of that, since she’s homeschooled. It was great to go hang out with some other kids, talk to a couple of other moms, and bring home treats!My visiting teacher, Kate, sewed all these felt crowns, and then let the kids glue whatever they wanted on them. It was really fun to see how different my daughters are- Kaya planned out her entire crown design and instructed me exactly where to put the hot glue, and Kaelyn grabbed her own tube of blue glitter glue and did hers all on her own.This little monkey just wanted to eat marshmallows during the party, but I glued some pieces onto a crown for her too, so she could match. As you can see, she still had better things to do when I took these pictures… like climb on the ottoman! Kaya decorated about 10 cookies/cupcakes at the party, and only stopped to eat one when she was all finished. Kaelyn decorated one, ate it right away, and then went to play with the Magformer blocks. Again, I just love how unique my kids are. Daddy really enjoyed the sweets we brought home!Michael and I never do anything big for Valentine’s Day, so I was surprised when he brought me some clearance (a man after my own heart!) KitKats a few days afterward. These are my favorite!Next year we’ll have FOUR little Valentine’s princesses!

a sunshine birthday party (nella’s first birthday!)

I’m still doing some serious catching up on here, but I’m so happy to finally post about Nella’s birthday party! It was definitely the simplest first-birthday party we’ve thrown so far, but it was perfect for our easygoing baby girl.Only Grandma Debbie was able to travel up for the party. We enjoyed having her here for Nella’s special day, and I’m sure she enjoyed not having to share all the baby cuddles. My mom is always a big help. She even brought Nella’s super cute birthday onesie!Before Nella was even born, we called her “Baby Sunshine” (mostly due to Kaya deciding that that absolutely had to be her new baby sister’s name). Once she was born, the moniker fit her so perfectly that we continued to use it. She is so full of happiness, and she shares her joy with everyone around her. Clearly, she just had to have a sunshine-themed first birthday party.
Confession: the cake… was actually a giant brownie. I’ve probably said it too often already, but we really just aren’t “cake people”, and after having spent so much time on Kaya’s birthday cake just two weeks previous, I really wanted to do something easy that everyone would actually eat. (I loosely based the design on these cupcakes.)It was delicious, but people….there’s a reason it’s traditional to decorate cakes, and not brownies. Cakes are so much more porous and better able to hold frosting on. It was difficult to get it anywhere close to smooth-looking, and no frosting would stick to the sides. Still, I don’t regret switching to a brownie this time- it tasted heavenly, and everyone was happy! She may still be little, but there was no mistaking it, this princess knew that all this was a celebration for her. She just couldn’t stop smiling and squealing! Too little to blow out the candle, she needed a little help from Daddy! We all love you so much Nellbells!Finally! She’s the first of all three kids to dig into her birthday treat and actually enjoy it!She may have had her doubts at first, though… …but then it was true love. Nella + cake!My mom brought her a whole new wardrobe, which has been so nice to have, since so many of the older girls’ things from this age are pretty worn out.
Nella definitely had a lot of helpers for opening her gifts!She was actually better at ripping the paper off than I had expected! I think I’ll always swoon a little over baby girl clothes.Nella loved the boxes and paper more than the actual clothes, I think.Happy Birthday sweet girl!

a hello kitty birthday party (kaya’s 5th birthday!)

This party was two whole months ago… but as I was finally going through the photos, all I could see was my beautiful little 5-year-old daughter’s face shining with pure joy. I can easily see from looking at these- there is no doubt that she felt special and loved on her birthday, which is the definition of a successful birthday party to me.

She had decided that she wanted a Hello Kitty party months in advance, so I had plenty of time to collect random Hello Kitty-themed items and brainstorm what I would do for the cake.We surprised her with her special Hello Kitty birthday shirt that morning when she was getting ready. To say she was excited would be an understatement- a shirt with a cat wearing glasses, holding balloons, and covered in glitter is basically Kaya’s dream come true.She was just as excited to go out with Daddy and get her balloons blown up before the party! These were incredibly cute, but I’m sad to say that they didn’t really hold their shape for more than a couple of days.I wavered on whether or not to try making a 3-dimensional fondant kitty for the cake, but I ended up keeping it really simple. I loosely based the cake off of this one, but Kaya decided on the light pink frosting and strongly requested lots and lots of sprinkles.By the way, Karl and Kaitlyn were total winning with that Hello Kitty wrapping paper in the background (from Walmart)!It wasn’t a perfect cake by any means, but Kaya was thrilled to see her favorite animated cat come to life in dessert form. We love love love our little girl!I think both Kaya and Kaelyn ate more of the cake than they ever have compared to years past. Kaya frequently tells me how “yummy” it is, but when it comes down to it, I feel like none of us are really that into eating cake. I think she looked forward to opening her presents all day. She told me many, many times, that she wanted all Hello Kitty presents, and that was it. Thankfully, she got some things she needed, too. Her gifts included:

…new markers……a ton of Hello Kitty stuff from Grandma Debbie, like this toy cake…… a rescue playset….…bling (yes, still just clip-on earrings 😉 )……a big puzzle from us…… this Calico Critters baby set that she’d been asking for for over a year… …her very own BOB Books, sent by Uncle Jeff and Auntie Lelia!… and this awesome easel from Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn! Both Kaya and Kaelyn have really loved drawing on it (and we’re saving a ton of paper now, too).Karl and Kaitlyn were able to come up and spend the weekend with us! It’s always fun to get to hang out with them (and they are infatuated with Nellbells)!Grandma Debbie was able to come too, and she spent a lot of time playing all sorts of games with the girls. “Thin Ice” is always a favorite around here.Karl and Kaitlyn ran out for donuts the next morning, and brought back some mini Beanie Babies as surprises for the girls. Nella was thrilled to have something of her own!On Kaya’s real birthday, we put a candle in one of the leftover donuts and sang to her. She was beaming. After the party was over, and she was all washed up and in her pajamas, I held her for a few minutes, just like I might have when she was brand new. I kissed and hugged her and remembered that little baby girl who went from being just a dream to suddenly being so real and alive, wiggling and crying. Now, she’s running and jumping and reading. She is taking on the world, and I am so proud. I cried, but only because this is all going so fast.I’m so in love with this wonderful, amazing little girl, and I’m so glad we could spend the weekend celebrating her
We love you, Peeky!