Apple Picking x 3

JDubbs has a big deadline at work in mid-October, so pretty much every year the task of taking the kids apple picking–which I think is the unofficial autumn pastime of Vermont–is up to me.  This year one of their little buddies had a birthday party at an apple orchard, so I was glad to have a few extra hands on deck to help me attempt the job times three.

1 Don’t look too excited there, Em.

Grumpy picture aside, the kids had a great time as usual, and I had to smile thinking about the years past when Jax and Em could barely navigate the orchard’s tall grass, and here they were this year, able to reach the apples themselves without me.



Now that most of their buddies are in either kindergarten or at least three-day preschool at various times a day, we definitely don’t get to see our friends as often as we used to or would like.  It actually makes the times we all get together even better; the kids are so excited to see one another that they rarely misbehave!



Although my kids still take time to annoy each other.


Luckily for me, I still have one baby to photograph in the deep green stuff.



Times like these, I really cannot believe how fast the big kids have grown.  Wasn’t it only yesterday that I was taking these exact same photos of Jax, or that I was lugging Em around the orchard in her bucket?  Cue Mommy nostalgia and a forced group photo.



It’s a lot of work to take them by myself every year, but it’s totally worth it.  Even if I didn’t get a good photo of the three of them during H’s first trip to the orchard.  I know they’ll be plenty of opportunities in years to come!

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Just The Right Amount Of Crazy

It’s only completely crazy to bring three kids under five who can’t swim to the beach, with no floaties or life preservers of any kind, if you’re alone.  If you bring along two great friends and their four kids, then it’s no longer completely nuts.  It morphs into just the right amount of crazy.  The this is my life kind of crazy.

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I’m not gonna lie and say this was a relaxing day at the beach.  If it wasn’t for my friends Katie and Katharine I would never have made it out of my car.  Getting to the beach (even if it is only a couple miles from home) requires so much stuff–adding that to my everyday chaos plus the baby being too young to have sunscreen on…yeah, without my friends, we never would have reached the what a great day phase that I truly appreciate with a baby in tow.  It takes a village to raise my kids, that’s for damn sure, and I definitely appreciate that.

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I especially appreciate it when my beach umbrella that is sheltering the baby blows away and breaks and my friends watch my big kids while I improvise a solution, when they have better snacks than me, or when they hold down the fort while I drag all my crap to the van when the baby announces quite loudly and forcefully that she would like to go home now.  Without good friends, I would have lost my mind about year one and a half into this Vermont experience, and moments like these would have gone either unnoticed or undone.

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Three cheers for beach days with good friends!  And for keeping it at just that awesome kind of crazy–making every day an adventure.

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Simple Joy

 Friends don’t let friends tackle a tricky sprinkler empty handed.


Umbrellas are a fabulous thing. And multifaceted.



Oh the simple joy of being young!


Summer happiness.

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A Tea Party For Emmy

This year I kept it fairly simple for Em’s family birthday party, but the notion of having a tea party for her and her friends as a birthday celebration had been tickling my fancy all winter.  I decided to have the kids over for a sunny, spring tea party outside, which I am pleased to say was an even bigger hit than I anticipated because both boys and girls love tea parties!

I put two plastic kids’ picnic tables next to each other and covered them with a purple vinyl tablecloth with a sparkly sheer fabric remnant from JoAnn Fabrics on top as a “table runner.”  Then I bought a few yards of ribbon and some scrap-booking butterfly decorations to create her fabulous birthday chair at the head of the table.  I also made her a matching pennant banner with her name on it, but somehow forget to photograph it!

On the table I reused the spray-painted Mason jars of flowers from her family party and some real silver and glass dishware to hold simple snacks like berries, sliced cucumbers, pretzels, and butterfly crackers with cheese that the kids could munch on while playing.  There were individual bubbles that I had purchased at Valentine’s Day and held onto across the table, plus necklaces, bracelets, and crowns for the kids to adorn themselves.

Our friends came dressed up in their “fancy” clothes–from a seersucker suit to ties borrowed from Daddy–it was an adorable hit!  And of course the mamas looked great, too.  I was so glad everyone got into the spirit of the party and used it as an excuse to dress up–we SAHMs don’t always have a chance to look fancy!

I also wanted to have something else for the kids on hand to do, so they wouldn’t get into too much mischief with all the breakable dishware around.  I filled our water table with beads and threw out a handful of pipe cleaners and the kids each made a decorative bubble wand!  It was great to have something to send them to do if they were getting underfoot, such as, “Jax, have you made a bubble wand yet?” and of course they would hurry over to see what it was all about.

After the kids had played  hard and were ready for lunch, I served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with pink lemonade tea poured from a real glass teapot into china tea cups on paper doilies, much the kids’ delight!  The fact that the cups and saucers were real china  made it all the more special.  The kids were so careful and serious–they didn’t spill a drop or break one thing!

Not that it mattered because I got it all at Salvation Army for fifty cents a piece.  The kids brought them home as their favors, so I’m glad that none of them bit the dust, but I was sure to have a few extra to send home for younger siblings and in case of emergency.  None needed.  The kids were so darn cute!

 After the cupcakes for dessert I pulled out a tray full of bubble solution and the kids used their newly decorated bubble wands before they headed home.

It was a lovely day for all the kids who came, but mostly for my sweet little Em who loves all things girly!  I could not have hoped for a better time with a better group of friends.  What a wonderful day at a very special tea party!

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Superhero Party

I was prepared for life as a mother of a princess–after all, I am one of three girls–but this whole superhero thing had me thrown for a loop.  I didn’t know any of the heroes’ names, let alone their superpower, archnemesis, backstory or alter ego.  Since it has become an obsession in this house since Jax was nearing the ripe old age of four, I have trusted in the myriad of superhero books that have invaded my home to enlighten me, plus the Internet and a little help from my friends (and husband).  I now feel confident that I can handle most superhero queries that come my way, and can even throw terms like Mjolnir around like a patron of Comic Con.  Now that some of Jax’s buddies are heading in the superhero direction, my friend Katie and I were inspired to have a Superhero Party to celebrate each kids’ inner hero and to embrace, rather than squelch, the constant flow of good guy/bad guy play that has definitely taken over my world.

So on a nice spring day, we headed over to Katie’s house armed with super t-shirts, capes, and masks, to assemble into one mighty super hero squad!

Praise be to Old Navy for a purple sparkly Supergirl shirt that has become a staple in Em’s wardrobe.  And thank the Lord for a friend who is an acclaimed party planner, who takes even the smallest excuse to host a gathering and turns it into something special.

Basically, the kids ran amok on the swing set, yard, and sandbox, capes flying in the wind and epic battles being waged against imaginary insurgents.  The only difference between this and an ordinary play date were the costumes, but really, being a superhero is all about a state of mind.  And these kids owned it.

Conquering obstacles…

Helping out those in need…

Overcoming difficult terrain…

And having super fun!

After saving the world and vanquishing bad guys, super heroes need a break and something tasty to power up.  Katie really outdid herself with the super tasty treats: bat-shaped sandwiches, personalized snack bags, and Oreos with superhero emblems.

A delicious, delightful, dangerous, and dashing day for these very super and special kids! Very memorable for us all.

Unleash your family’s inner superheroes!

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Reindeer Games!

My friend Katie throws a fabulous Christmas party every year, and this year because of an idea that I forced upon her, she decided to go with a reindeer theme.  It was so fun, as always, for the kids and adults alike!

We arrived after Em’s dance recital to a house full of festivities, inside and out!  The kids looked adorable in their holiday finest and everyone was enjoying some delicious food, holiday fun, and good cheer!  The little reindeer touches were just adorable.

I love watching Em embrace her role as a “big kid.”  Up until now she had been one of the babies at these big gatherings, but now she hangs with her big brother and all their friends, and it makes me excited to see how she’ll be as a big sister.

Still not totally sure, but she’ll get there.  Luckily she has some great friends to help her along the way!  I can definitely say the same!

Our hostess Katie, who is an event planner, never just leaves kids to their own devices for long, and she suggested we have a book swap for the kids, which was a huge success.  We got a few great ones and I loved sharing some of my favorites with friends!  (We gave a couple Piggie & Elephant books by Mo Willems–big hits in this house, in case you were wondering).

 And then the piece de resistance: the reindeer bar!  I saw the idea initially at Kelle Hampton’s blog last year and I have been waiting patiently for my chance to give it a try!  The idea is that you set out a variety of foods that Santa’s reindeer will enjoy, and then give kids mason jars with their names on them that they can bring home and spread out on the lawn on Christmas Eve so that the reindeer will have something to eat while Santa is inside.  Kelle gives explanations as to why each food is there, but since I think Jax is the only kid who can read, I figured we could forgo the details and just let people know what reindeer like to eat best.

In case you’re wondering, we had raisins, bread crumbs, “flying power,” oats, potato chips, and cocoa.  But I think that Santa’s reindeer aren’t that picky and would appreciate anything you took the time to offer them!  Oh, and don’t forget to add glitter for good measure!  We put it inside the mason jars ahead of time for clean-up sake, but you could certainly add that to your bar as well.

 Needless to say, the kids love the idea and Jax and Em can’t wait for Christmas Eve to spread it on our driveway!  And in case you’re wondering, yes, there was a Grown-Up Reindeer Bar upstairs for the adults who wanted to enjoy a tasty beverage!  Add a candy cane straw and there was happiness for all, as well as some fabulous memories.

So from our little elves to yours, have a Merry Christmas and don’t forget to make the most of the holidays this season!

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Kir Royales and Crayons

My friends and I got together for another fabulous afternoon of Cocktails & Crafts in May, celebrating not only spring but also one of Jax’s buddy’s 3rd birthday.  The sun was shining, the grass was green and just begging for fat little kiddie toes to run through it.  Em, on the other hand, was begging for a nap.  Her friends were a little confused.

But give a girl some watermelon and she perks right up!

Did you know that if you use a white crayon on paper, then paint watercolors over them, the word or design you wrote will come through?  The kids were pretty impressed–so was I, actually!

How did I not get a photo of the finished product?  That’s not my usual, attention-to-detail self.  I’m not sure why not, but believe me they were very cool.  It must have been those yummy kir royales that had me distracted from my bloggy responsibilities!  It was a delightfully refreshing summer drink–I wouldn’t have normally thought of it, but I’m glad Heather did!

Once the crafts were completed and the beverages on hand, the kids began exploring Heather’s beautiful yard and went out to have some fun in the sun.

Once the food was gone, Miss Em reverted to her grim and grumpy ways and was not feeling very social, to say the least.

Her scowls are epic.

The kids actually orchestrated a jailbreak and were running as a pack toward the stream behind the yard, so we adults made the executive decision it was time to regain control of the situation.  Thus with the promise of birthday cake, we led the troops back to the house–

not spilling a drop!–to wish Matthew a very happy birthday! And the cake was enjoyed by all!

After the chocolatey goodness, the kids were so absolutely filthy from cake, dirt, sand, paint, and the like that we actually hosed them off.  I wish we lived in a simpler world where I wouldn’t have to worry what kind of people would find my site by looking for naked children, but it is what it is and so there are no photos, but believe me, it was absolutely hilarious.  Em was probably filthier at the end of it all than when she started, and watching them all pull each other naked in the wagon will be a memory I will recall fondly for a long time.

Toweled them off, put them in their pj’s, said goodbye to good friends and headed home for bed.  Cocktails and Crafts is one of my favorite days of the month–you should start your own with your circle of friends and join in the fun!

Thank you, Heather, for a very memorable day!  Cheers to more kir royales this summer!

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