Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Gifts for a One Year Old

This should be an easy post to write, because I should just go down the list of what Anna got for her birthday - her party guests really knocked it out of the park! She has had SO much fun playing with all of her new toys, and reading all of her new books. I know there's a bunch of other big birthdays coming up though so I'll go ahead and post a list.

As always, gift receipts are always a good idea and very much appreciated, just in case the recipient already has the item.

1) Books! Anna definitely has her favorite books but man is it nice having some new reading material!! Anna got some of the most adorable books to add to her collection and she loves them. Itsy Bitsy Spider actually accompanied us to the pediatrician the other day because she refused to put it down, haha. She is also currently loving the touch-and-feel books, and any books that have a little puppet attached to it. Large board books are perfect for this age - Anna loves being able to help turn the pages!

 2) Push Toys! Anna is just starting to try to stand on her own, and we were so amused and surprised the other day when she grabbed the push toy that her Auntie Ally gave her, and pushed it all around the play room by herself! She also has a little grocery cart that her GrandMaree gave her that she likes to push around. The steadier the better, but I promise this will be a hit.

3) Nesting Toys! Okay, I'm not gonna lie - you could literally go pick up ANY toy at the store and the kid is going to love it. Just make sure it's don't want to go more than one step ahead of the kid's age, otherwise it's a burden on the parents to have to store the toy and remember it's there later!! But, that being said, Anna loves any kind of stacking or nesting toy, or any kind of basket. She loves to put stuff into, and take stuff out of. How's that for some grammar? lol. Stacking is good too though - blocks are always a super simple, but super fun idea.

Also a side note on toys in general - if you purchase a toy that doesn't already come with batteries, you get extra bonus points if you toss in the appropriate pack!

4) Experiences. This one you're probably going to have to check with the parents to make sure they don't already have it, but if you're wanting to spend a little bit more, or if it's a group gift, it would be a great idea to get family annual passes to a local zoo, aquarium, children's museum, etc. We have already gotten our money's worth out of our zoo and aquarium passes, and Anna is a great age to start really enjoying this stuff!

5) Photography Session. This might be another big ticket item, but you could also get pretty thrifty with it if you plan ahead of time. Daily deal emails like Groupon or LivingSocial often have photographers offering definitely want to check out their websites before you buy - I always see a wide variety of experience levels and talent, but if you find one that can deliver good pictures, you can find a great deal. Or even some of the chain portrait studios can get a cute family picture captured - a gift certificate would be perfect, especially in time for the holidays!

6) Clothes. Make sure what you pick out is season-appropriate for the size you are buying. It's always a little sad when you get something that's unbelievably cute, but you know it will never fit once it's time to wear it!! Gift receipts are a good idea here too, especially if you aren't totally confident with what size you are buying. I always think it's a good idea to buy for one season ahead, since usually a momma is pretty well stocked for a current season, unless it's just starting.


Hope this helps, and happy birthday, baby!

Decontamination Station

Poor Stevo has been sick for the last couple of days. And this guy NEVER gets sick- so to see him literally not be able to get out of bed for almost 72 hours made me a little nervous. We don't know for sure if it was food poisoning or a virus, but I wasn't taking any chances. I definitely didn't want Anna catching it, and I sure as heck didn't want to catch it either. Today was the first day Steve ventured back to the office, and I took the opportunity to disinfect the house.

And, since we're heading into prime cold and flu season, I thought I'd share my disinfection and stay-healthy strategies. If you have other tips, I'd love to hear those too! Let's keep those little ones healthy!

1) Sanitize ALL hard surfaces. I grab a container of the disinfecting disposable wipes, and these are perfect to carry around the house and wipe down all hard surfaces. Light switches, computers, stair banisters (make sure your wipes are safe to use on the wood!), lamp switches, door knobs, kitchen appliances, counters, telephones, car steering wheels...anything that the sickie may have touched needs a good wipe-down.

2) Bleach those sheets. Even though the bedding always gets washed on Mondays, so it had just gotten washed, I tossed all the sheets and blankets into the wash on the hottest cycle my machine offers. I also used bleach for everything.

3) Wash the toys. I use hot water and soap on any of the toys that I can, and the rest I wipe down with food-safe sanitizing wipes (or pacifier wipes). You can even toss them in the dishwasher if they are the right size! I usually try to at least wipe all this stuff down once a week, but it couldn't hurt to give them another good cleaning.

4) Change the air filters. We haven't done this one yet but we're due for a change anyway, so we're going to step up the filter quality for the cold and flu season.

5) Change out your toothbrushes. Always a good idea after you've gotten over any kind of illness!

6) Wash your hands. Another obvious one, but it never hurts to double check that all the sinks have full soap dispensers. And mommas, don't hesitate to ask guests to wash their hands before playing with the baby. If anyone gets offended, just say that you're thrilled they're willing to come over and take care of a screaming, clingy sick baby for the next week! It's also a good idea to get some new bottles of hand sanitizer for your purse or diaper bag.

7) Sanitize grocery carts and high chairs. I always keep a package of Wet Wipes (the disinfecting kind) in my purse. I'm sure plenty of people roll their eyes when they see me wiping all that stuff down before Anna sits in it, but I don't care. It takes 2 seconds and if it gets rid of any germs or viruses, it sounds like a good time investment to me!

8) Get Your Shots. Anna just got her first round of the flu shot, and Stevo and I are going to get ours too as soon as he's fully better. Most drug stores and even grocery stores (around here, at least) offer the flu shot very inexpensively, or check with your insurance company or even your work to see if they sponsor flu shots.

9) Eat Those Veggies! Well, and fruits. One of the good things about a global market is that you can pretty much get most vegetables and fruits throughout the year. And they provide great immune-building vitamins. them.

10) Stock that medicine cabinet. Go ahead and take a few minutes now to clean out your medicine cabinet. Toss any meds that expired and jot down a quick list of what you need to re-stock. Don't forget the baby's medicine cabinet! I've been adding to it recently, although Anna's generally been really healthy, in preparation for flu season. It's a little frustrating having to run out (or send the hubby) in the middle of the night to get a medicine! Infant Tylenol, Infant Ibuprofen, Pedialyte, a good infant thermometer, a good humidifier...all of that stuff is good stuff to stock and have in case you need it.

Wow that ended up being a lot longer than I intended it to be. Here's to avoiding the flu and staying healthy this year!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Birthday Party - Behind the Scenes

When my mom tagged along with me to Tennessee to help throw our friend Jamie's shower, one thing she said afterward was how much fun she had seeing the "behind the scenes" for a party like that. And I love planning parties and hosting parties, but it's also a little amusing that it seems like all parties tend to follow the pattern of chaos-chaos-chaos-PRETTY PARTY-chaos-chaos-chaos, haha. Organized chaos, maybe. But still chaos.

Anyway, I thought some of you might be interested to see some of the behind-the-scenes for Anna's birthday party!

Mom helping me hem all the table runners.

Baking cookies. Why I bothered deep cleaning the kitchen before baking is seriously beyond me!

C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me!

And then I cleaned it up again just to turn around and make the quiches and other appetizer foods. I'm really on a roll with this, aren't I? lol! It looks like my kitchen exploded.


Table ready for the food. I always label all the dishes as I put them out because I'm OCD. And because I forget what goes where when I'm throwing food in there 2 minutes before people arrive.

Dining room = party planning central

Laundry room, post party

Anna Bean eating her share of party leftovers

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Toy Story

Tonight before Banana went to bed, we decided to tackle the play room and un-package all of the wonderful gifts that Anna got at her party. Seriously, you guys were beyond generous and we were not expecting that at ALL, but we are certainly very thankful! Anna's new play room is perfectly stocked now for any play situation, and I'm excited to have some of  her baby friends over to help test out all these new toys.



And I must also say it's a little strange having toddler toys...I'm so used to the baby toys! I think it's perfect timing though - Anna came in to help us de-package and she was having a BLAST!!! I tried to get a video, but it got pretty long, so you'll have to make do with pictures.



There wasn't a single present that didn't get played with, and even with her very tired self, she was having a ball. I have a feeling that playing with these toys is going to make up a majority of her agenda for the foreseeable future!!



A big thank you to everyone again - Anna is so blessed to have y'all in her life!



Oh, and yes...she lost her pants at some point in the evening. And I didn't even think about it until I had already uploaded these pictures. So, please ignore the fact that she's in just a diaper and shirt, hahaha. 



Birthday Party!

Anna's big day was such a success! A big thank you to EVERYONE who spent their Saturday celebrating with us. It really meant a lot to us that you came to our party and we genuinely hope that you had a wonderful time. Anna Bean was spoiled rotten with a million presents, ate some yummy Funfetti cake, and was quite the social little butterfly.

We've got a lot of out of town family and friends, so I'll share some details of the party. Hopefully it will help you feel like you were part of the day too!




The lunch menu included:

Chicken salad croissant sandwiches
Red pepper ratatouille pasta salad
Cucumber salad
Tomato and basil bruschetta
Mini bacon quiches
Pigs in a blanket (special request from Steve, he loves those things)
Artichoke dip
Veggies and dip


Our beverage table held a tub full of beer and wine, a dispenser of strawberry lemonade, and a bowl full of yummy strawberry champagne punch. We also had a cooler of water and sodas.


The kiddo corner!


Our dessert table held Anna's giant Funfetti cupcake with strawberry frosting, a strawberry cake, a coconut cake, and mini Funfetti cupcakes.


The birthday girl inspected the porch with Daddy, waiting for her guests to arrive.


The entryway table with favor bags, and all of the sweet cards that we had gotten in the mail. The favor bags contained maraschino cherry shortbread cookies dipped in white chocolate.



Banana's pre-cake party outfit.


I made sure to snap a couple of guest pictures. I didn't get a picture of everyone unfortunately but I'm happy I got a few, at least.

The cutie patooties that live down the street - Susan, Jake, and Daniel.

Anna's favorite lunch buddy, Kara.

My whole fam.

Mom and sis. Allyson braved a case of food poisoning to show up and so we have to give her mad props.

Jackson, who charmingly appointed himself doorman to the porch, and to whom I also kept sneaking junk food.


Anna cruised her way down the couch to say hi to SuSu.


Carolyn came and showed off her walking skills and her cup skills, and also put her stamp of approval on the play room.


We turned around at one point during the party to discover that Anna had decided it was time to open presents. By the way, I love that the biggest, girliest bags were brought in by our very masculine guy friends, Gordon and Andrew. Love those guys!


Time for cake!



The adorable girls next door stopped in. Anna loves them. She watches them out of her playroom windows while they're playing in the cul-de-sac, and she was beyond thrilled to discover them at her party.


Unwrapping presents!



Anna conked out just as the last guests were leaving, what a trooper! We wrapped up the night with pizza and football...a perfect way to end the day  :-)

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Girl. We love you so much and hope you enjoyed your big day!!