Today was Nora’s first day of kindergarten. She handled it like a champ.

She woke up a little earlier than she has been recently—around 6:30. She came into our room saying that the “Ready Confetti” her teacher had given her worked. “It really helped me!” she said. We snuggled for a few minutes and she said she was excited to go to school.

I had barely slept myself. It took me a while to fall asleep last night, and then this morning, I woke up at 4:30 and could not drift back off. Only about five hours of sleep… and feeling anxious, not knowing how the day would go.

Things happened quickly and over the next hour and a half, we got everything ready to leave. We went outside to take photos. She got annoyed with it quickly (to be expected).

The neighborhood began to come alive with the sounds of other parents and children making their way out of their houses and down the street to the bus stop. It was time. We walked, Nora confidently and excitedly leading the way.

We met up with the bus stop crew and it wasn’t long before the bus was coming down the street. As soon as I saw it, I felt the tears stinging my eyes. I brushed them off, fought them away, annoyed by my own emotions. Nora was holding it together; why couldn’t I?

The bus pulled up to our stop and Nora fell into line behind the other neighborhood kids. I gave her a quick kiss and she climbed onto the bus like it was no big deal. In fact, I had to yell to her to turn around and look at me for a quick photo. The bus driver was a sweetheart, as she made sure to remind Nora to turn, too. She yelled out at us with a smile, “Take your time, get your pictures. I totally get it!”

I lost sight of her as she walked back into the aisle. I waved aimlessly, in case she could see me but I couldn’t see her. She told me later that she sat by the window, but clearly she was on the other side of the bus. The kids were loaded up and it was time to go. The doors shut, the bus pulled away.

The tears flowed.

Vivienne may have sensed my emotions because she insisted on being held by me in that moment, when she almost always prefers Michael (she’s a Daddy’s girl, what can I do?). “Nowa?” her little voice chimed in. “Nora went to school,” I told her. “And you’re not ever allowed to grow up, okay? Just stay this little forever.”

That has, perhaps, been one of the hardest parts of this whole kindergarten thing—at least for me. The fact that Nora and Vivienne will not be together during the days anymore. Vivienne has never known more than a few hours at a time without Nora. She’s never really been without her.

Anyway, I let myself be sad for a few minutes and then I pulled myself together to be excited again. My neighbor friend and I hopped into the car and drove to the school to see the kids off of the bus. Again, I didn’t know what to expect. Did Nora freak out on the bus ride? Start crying? Was she going to be a mess?

She came down the steps like she had been doing it all of her life. Okay then. Good stuff. She was a little disoriented in the crowd so I reminded her that when she gets off the bus every day, she needs to walk inside and find her classroom. I followed her steps and guided her only when she needed it. Soon enough, we were in her classroom and it was time for me to go. I gave her a quick kiss and as I walked out, I turned to look—she never even looked back at me. Girlfriend so had this under control.

In the middle of the day, I got an email from her teacher with a photo of her smiling, playing with some little blocks at her desk. “Having a great first day!” she reported. YES. So good for a parent’s soul to get an update like that on a day like this.

The day CRAWLED. I couldn’t wait to leave work to go pick her up from the after-school program she’s at.

When I did first lay eyes on Nora again, she was standing in a line of students waiting to go outside. I immediately noticed she looked like a zombie. Hot. Tired. And maybe upset? I noticed she was clinging to my leg, something she hadn’t been doing all day.

Eventually, she confessed to me in tears on the way home that she had been missing me. Not during the school day, but after school. She said she got upset and cried because I didn’t come to get her when she expected me to. I know now that she didn’t fully grasp the new routine. When her teacher said at the end of the day that it was “time to go home,” she took it to heart, not remembering/realizing that she had somewhere else to go to spend some more time before she’d be coming home. Poor thing.

But that was our only hiccup. Well, that and the fact that I sent her with apple slices for a snack that apparently “got yucky” due to the crazy heat in the classroom (it was near 90 degrees today and there is no A/C in the school), so her teacher gave Nora her own apple to snack on. (I need to get some of those really thin ice packs, stat.) Oh, and she lost one of her pretty new hair bows. And Michael forgot to put the straw in her Thermos so she “couldn’t figure out [her] cup.” HAHAHA. We told her tonight that we’re all new at this and we’re all learning. We’ll all do better tomorrow, with everything.

Overall, though, the day was a serious success. She says she’s ready to go back tomorrow, and I’m hoping that she’ll adjust quickly to the after-school routine. We celebrated with ice cream.

We’re ready to tackle the second day of kindergarten tomorrow.


Dear Nora,

Remember when I wrote you on the day before you started daycare? That seems so long ago now, yet just like yesterday. Time is a trickster, because…

Tomorrow, you start kindergarten.

It is so hard for me to believe that you are already entering your school years. No longer a baby at all, just a big kid. This is the stage of life that will now carry you through high school graduation, and that is mind-boggling. Thirteen years ago, I was a junior in college. Your daddy and I had already been dating for more than six months. I remember that time pretty vividly, because it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. To think that you’ll be heading off to college in that same amount of time is… well, I can’t think about that right now.

It was not an easy decision about whether you should go to kindergarten this year, or wait until next. There were arguments (from others) on both sides, so Daddy and I debated for quite a while. Ultimately, so many signs pointed us in the direction of sending you. We took a leap of faith and registered you last winter. Then we had information night in May, and screening a few weeks later. You took it all in stride, yet I don’t think it seemed real—to any of us.

Yesterday, we went to your school to meet your teacher. Mommy and Daddy went first, by ourselves, to sit in your classroom with all the other parents, to set eyes on the woman who will be responsible for you during the weekdays for the next 10 months. The good news is that she seems lovely. Cute and funny and… she was nervous. It was endearing because I think it means she cares. It’s important to her to make a good impression, for all of us parents to trust her with our precious children. I sat in your tiny little desk chair and found myself fighting back tears through a few parts of the presentation. To think about you being there, doing all of these things they talked about—it was overwhelming for me.

Then we went to get you and brought you back to school with us. Your demeanor changed a bit as we walked into the classroom for the first time. I could feel your nerves. I wondered how this was going to go. For perspective, on your first day of preschool last year, I walked you into your classroom and stayed for a few minutes, taking pictures. You eventually turned to me and said, “Mommy, are you going to go now?” When I said, “Yes,” you said, “Yay!” So I hoped this would be your element. I still hope (for tomorrow). But I also know that kindergarten is perhaps a whole different animal.

We set you to work in your classroom, with the scavenger hunt that your teacher created for the morning. To find different areas and objects in the classroom, to familiarize yourself with it all. You started to loosen up a little bit. We followed your lead, let you make the choices about how long to spend in one place, and where to go next (cafeteria, school bus, library, exploring other areas of the school, back to your classroom, etc.). We ended up back in your classroom no fewer than four times.

When I thought for sure we had seen everything there was to see, you asked to go back to the classroom one more time before we left. I was thinking, “Really?? Again??” but reminded myself that you and I really didn’t have any other place to be. There was no rush. The school was getting quiet, as most students and parents had already come and gone. When we walked into your classroom again, it was just the two of us and your teacher. She invited you to walk around freely and check things out, touch things, ask questions. You took advantage and I swear, during that 10-15 minutes, I felt you grow comfortable. I saw it in your face. I heard it in your voice.

Finally, you told me you were ready to leave to go out to lunch. We told your teacher we’d see her on Wednesday, and walked out of the classroom. In the hallway, you asked me when you could come back. I explained, “The day after tomorrow is your first day of school.” You CHEERED and jumped up and down. “I didn’t know it was so soon!” you said. It was funny because I feel like we’ve been telling you forever, in an effort to prepare you. But something about being there, seeing it, and then being told it was “the day after tomorrow” made it real for you. You’ve been cheering and jumping up and down ever since.

“I have the nicest teacher in the world,” you tell me.

“I can’t believe tomorrow is the first day of school!” you exclaimed repeatedly today.


You asked me 10 times today if it was time to make your lunch for school tomorrow.

You keep recalling the things that your teacher said to you yesterday, keep telling me stories about the stuff in your classroom and the things you’ll do. You’re excited. You seem genuinely ready.

I’m trying to prepare for all of that to turn on a dime tomorrow morning, but I’m really hoping that it doesn’t. As much as I love you needing me, I’m also ready to let you fly. At least a little. (It is “only” kindergarten, after all… not college.)

Tonight, I feel like tomorrow is my first day of school. And I guess it kind of is. I’m letting my heart get onto that school bus in the morning.

I know you can do this. I know we can do this. I just can’t believe that it’s already time to do this. Weren’t you just a tiny baby? Wasn’t I just putting you to sleep with your face in the crook of my neck?

Daddy and I are so proud of the little girl that you are. We can’t wait to watch you grow and soar.

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page this morning, one who also sent her daughter off to kindergarten. It seems an appropriate way to end. It’s from the wise Dr. Seuss, in Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting… so get on your way.

I love you, Nora Grace. More than ice cream. More than roller coasters. More than vacation. More than the stars in the sky.

Go get ‘em.

With a million hugs and kisses,


As I mentioned in Vivienne’s 2nd birthday post, we decided on a beach theme for her birthday party this year. I figure it’s the last year we’ll really be able to pick for her, and it seemed like it would be cute. Once that was decided and the invitations were ordered, I started browsing cakes. My initial searches focuses on “beach cakes” and I found a ton of ideas that incorporated edible sand. I figured I would be doing something with sand, but I wasn’t particularly inspired by any particular designs. Eventually, I stumbled upon a sandcastle cake and I was sold.

Sandcastles! It was perfect. And I want to share with you how I did it.

Now, if you search Google Images for sandcastle cakes, you get a lot of different variations. I pinned a bunch of them on Pinterest and figured I’d come back to it. And I did… but not until a couple of days before the party, when I was ready to bake cakes! I came up with a loose plan based on some of my inspiration cakes and decided to kind of wing it. I had a bunch of supplies on hand to incorporate—or not. It all depended on how it was going as I went along.

I had every intention of taking photos along the way. I started doing so on “assembly day” (the afternoon before the party), but things quickly got messy—just literally messy, my hands were constantly covered in frosting and “sand”—so the photos unfortunately fell to the wayside. But I’m going to try to do my best to describe and/or illustrate what I did. My kitchen was a disaster. There was a ton of cleanup involved. But overall, this was a pretty easy cake that I think even an inexperienced cake decorator can tackle. (Not saying I’m a professional or anything, but I’ve had a lot of practice over the years.)

So here we go. Let’s start with what you’ll need:

I like homemade baking, of course, but for making cakes like this—ones you need to stack, carve, shape, or whatever—I have not found a better solution than the “Durable Cake for 3D Cakes” recipe from Cake Central. Plus, it tastes so much better than regular ol’ box mix. Soooo much better. And as for buttercream, I always stick with the Wilton recipe because that’s what I learned with, and I don’t like to mess with it.

Vivienne’s party was on a Saturday. I baked the cakes on Thursday night. After they cooled, I wrapped them in plastic wrap to store them overnight. On Friday afternoon, Nora and I made the frosting and set up to start assembly.

STEP #1: Make the Edible Sand

Before we started frosting the cakes, I wanted to make sure we had the edible sand ready because I wanted to make sure to stick it to the cake before the frosting crusted over and became less sticky. So we started there. It was really simple: Take out your food processor. Throw in a bunch of graham crackers and vanilla wafers and process. Done.

I liked using the two ingredients in combination—the graham crackers and the vanilla wafers—for the slight variations in color, which is true of real sand. I thought it looked pretty realistic! Adding a couple of chocolate wafer cookies of some kind (not too many!) would probably make it look even better, but I liked my clean, “white” sand, too. :)

STEP #2: Level + Stack the Cake Layers

Now it was time to build this cake. You’ll want to stack your layers—just the matching ones at first. A quick note here: I always level my cakes before stacking. You know the “dome” that bakes on top of your cakes? That’s problematic when stacking. Even if it’s a subtle dome, it can make a big difference in the look and stability of your cakes. You can use a simple serrated bread knife to hack off the dome to give it a flat surface, or if you’re more OCD about it (like me), you can use one of these cake leveler doohickeys. I love mine, I seriously use it with nearly every cake I make.

So once they’re leveled, stack your 6″ cakes together (with a healthy layer of buttercream in between), then the same for your 9″ cakes. That’s where I’m at here:

You’ll see that before I put the 9″ cake on the cake board, I put some wax paper strips down around the edges then stacked the cakes on top (don’t put the wax paper ALL the way under the cake or you’ll have a hard time getting it out from underneath! that’s why you use strips and not one big piece). This is to protect the cake board from the icing so that you’ll get a nice clean look without gobs or smears of frosting on it. Also, in this case, it was critical to have the wax paper there to catch the excess sand as I was decorating.

The 6″ cake is also on a cake circle, by the way. I had some 8″ or 9″ plain cake circles in my stash and I cut one down to a small enough size so that it was just slightly smaller than the 6″ cake itself. That way, it would be easily hidden with frosting once I stacked my cakes.

So that’s where I stopped taking photos. I know, I suck.

STEP #3: Make Cubes to Use as Grooves on Top of Castle

Before you go any further, you should prepare your little squares to make your castle “grooves” on top of the cake. I did not do this at first since I didn’t have a plan—I iced everything and had to work VERY quickly (stressfully!) to make my squares so that my icing wouldn’t crust. I debated over how to make those little grooves at the top and came up with the idea to use marshmallows. But I wanted them more square than round, and wanted them smaller, so I used kitchen scissors to cut marshmallows into rough little cubes. That’s probably pretty self explanatory, but here’s a little diagram.

The dotted lines are my approximate cut lines. Just hack your marshmallows until you get cubes that are roughly the same size. :) Then, spear each of your cubes with toothpicks. Set them aside.

STEP #4: Ice and Stack the Cake Tiers, Add Cubes/Grooves to Top

Next, ice both cakes with your vanilla buttercream. You want to ice both cakes separately (your 6″ two layer cake and your 9″ two layer cake), before stacking your tiers. The nice thing about these cakes is that they’re going to be covered in sand, so you don’t have to be very meticulous with your icing. Just get a good layer on the cakes’ tops and sides and smooth it out a bit.

Now, let’s talk stacking of the tiers. When you have a multi-tier cake like this, you may be tempted to just throw the smaller cake on top of the larger cake. I’ve done this before, actually, in an effort to save time. It’s not worth it, because then I spend the next day—up until I’m cutting into it at the party—worried that the cake is leaning, it’s going to collapse, etc. So don’t just stack ‘em. The cake is really a lot sturdier when you take the time to properly support it. I promise. For this cake, I used four wooden cake dowels to support the second layer. A good, simple tutorial for stacking layers is included within this blog post about making wedding cakes (scroll down and start at “Stacking Step #1″).

Once my cakes were stacked, I touched up the icing and made sure to cover the small gap between the tiers. Now, take the marshmallow cubes on toothpicks and use a butter knife to smear all sides with frosting. You don’t want to glob on the icing too thick because you want them to keep their shape, but get enough frosting on there that it’ll hold the sand. Once covered in icing, stick them onto the cake by pushing the toothpick into the top. This keeps them nice and securely attached to the cake.

STEP #5: Make the Doorway

Oh, and then there was the little “doorway” on the front of the bottom tier. I had to think on the fly for this one. At first, I thought maybe I could build up the icing enough to make the doorway shape out of the icing, but that was not going to work. Funnily enough, Nora was the one who initially suggested using marshmallows. At first, I didn’t think it would work, but then I happened to glance down at my marshmallow scraps. The ones from making my cubes for the top of the cake. They were small and thin and looked like they might actually do the trick. I picked up a few pieces and started rolling them between my hands (like you might do with Play-doh) and made little “snake” shapes with them. Sure enough, they stayed in that shape—didn’t rebound—so I was able to piece together little snake shapes and stick them onto the side of the cake to make the doorway. I again used a butter knife to cover the pieces in frosting.

STEP #6: Cover Everything in the Edible Sand

Now it’s time to get busy with your sand. It’s messy. Very messy. But I simply took my bowl of sand, grabbed handfuls, and then pushed sand onto the sides of the cake with my palms. It takes a few passes to get a good covering, but it goes quickly. Then, for the tops of the tiers, you can obviously just sprinkle sand over it—that’s the really easy part. Use your fingers to apply sand to the sides of your little marshmallow cubes, too. Once you have everything adequately covered in the sand, you’re done!

Carefully pull your wax paper strips out from underneath your bottom layer, which will clear away the excess sand with them. Do any necessary touch-ups (of frosting or sand) along the bottom of the cake.

STEP #7: Add Decorations and Embellishments

As a final step, you can add embellishments if you want. I made chocolate candy seashells using a Wilton mold. Just follow the instructions on the mold or your candy melt package, it’s really easy. Microwave the candy melts, pour/spread the melted candy into the molds, then pop into the freezer for a couple of minutes. Remove and ta-da, you have candy seashells. I positioned them on the cake to decorate it a bit. At one point, I also considered making paper flags to stick into the top layer but ultimately decided against it because I thought the seashells were enough. I’ve seen other versions where people use ice cream cones to make castle peaks on top, so get creative. Do your thing!

Everyone at the party loved the cake, and it tasted delicious, too! And our little girl had a wonderful 2nd birthday party.


Since the spring, I’ve been working on building up my wardrobe. Once the weather started turning, I came to realize that I hadn’t REALLY shopped in a couple of years. In 2013, I was pregnant, then in 2014, I was still working on my postpartum body and had an infant and WHO HAS TIME TO SHOP? I scraped by this past winter with a handful of new things from Old Navy and such but once spring hit, I had the itch to buy new, nice clothes.

I actually went shopping at the mall—a couple of times—which says a lot, because I really don’t like the mall. In general, I’m not a shopper, at least not for clothes for myself. And I forced myself to go to places other than Old Navy and Gap, which in years past have become my staples. I’ve been pretty happy with how I’ve done so far, but now we’re heading into another season and I definitely need some more additions to my closet. (I need to get rid of a bunch of stuff, too, but that’s a different story.)

A longtime friend posted on Facebook last month that she was thinking about trying Stitch Fix, and then she was really happy with her first fix, so I decided to give it a go as well. I got my first fix at the end of July but it didn’t really occur to me to do a post like this at the time. Truthfully, I was a little underwhelmed by my first shipment and only ended up keeping one item anyway, so you’re not missing out on much. But my friend continued to have a ton of luck so I decided to continue giving Stitch Fix at least a few more chances. So here we are with my second “Fix.”

For those of you who may not be familiar with Stitch Fix… You sign up, fill out an extensive style profile (including sizes, price ranges, colors, etc.), and create a Pinterest board with some of your favorite looks (optional). The profile and the Pinterest board are meant to help the Stitch Fix stylists select items that are perfect for you. Each time you opt to get a Fix shipped to you, you are charged a $20 styling fee. You then receive five clothing items in the mail—these can include accessories as well, like jewelry, belts, and purses. You have three days to try on the items and decide what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to send back. If you keep anything—even just one item—your $20 styling fee is applied to the price of that item. If you keep nothing, you are out the $20 styling fee (that’s the only “risk”). There is a prepaid, pre-labeled shipping envelope included in each Fix for you to use for anything you want to return. And bonus, if your stylist really knocks it out of the park and you keep all five items? You get a 25% off discount on everything.

I like the idea of Stitch Fix because 1) I don’t have to shop. 2) They might pick out items for me that I may never pick out for myself. From brands/designers I’ve never heard of. 3) Bigger variety of stuff than the typical things I might find at Old Navy or Gap. 4) It’s fun to be surprised! 5) There aren’t any extra costs involved as long as you end up keeping at least one item per month. 6) It’s a good way to slowly, but regularly add to your wardrobe over time with just a few items each month.

Anyway, let’s get to the contents of this Fix, shall we?

With each Fix, you get a personal note from your stylist and these style cards to give you inspiration for how to wear each of the items you’ve received. Here’s mine for this Fix.

Pardon the awkward phone selfies in the mirror… I don’t really have a better way to take these pics, especially in a speedy fashion. :)

Collective Concepts Esten Button-Up Sleeveless Blouse. 

I pretty much knew right when I first unfolded this blouse that I wasn’t going to like it. It looked very wide. Sure enough, when I put it on, it felt very boxy and I didn’t feel like it gave me any shape at all.

The main issue here was definitely the fit, but overall, it was also just kind of boring.


Market & Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top

My first impression of this top was that it was very soft, and that I liked the color. On it went with a pair of jeggings.

These pics don’t really do this pic full justice. It’s cute. It definitely needs to be accessorized with a long necklace, I think, but overall it’s a very nice cross between comfy casual and “nice” casual. It could easily be dressed up or dressed down, something that my stylist also mentioned in her note. I like the sleeves. They’re kind of tight around the forearms but they are different than anything else I own so I like that. I think it’s also long enough where I might even be able to get away with wearing it with a nice pair of leggings on the weekends.

Verdict: KEEPING IT.

Market & Spruce Bethanie Striped Maxi Skirt
Just USA Morrie Boyfriend Denim Jacket

It’s funny, because when I first pulled everything out of the box and gave it a once-over, I assumed that this maxi skirt was a sure winner. I love maxi skirts, and I love the color of this one. But then I put it on.

It looks fine, right? Standard maxi skirt, flowy and nice? It’s actually a very nice material, too, kind of heavy—feels high quality. But here is the reality of this skirt:

I had to hike it up to almost my boobs in order for it to be a normal length on me! This skirt is only going to work if you’re like 6 feet tall, able to wear 4″ heels, or willing to hem it. I’m none of those things. Bummer.

The other thing is that I feel like cute, striped maxi skirts like this can be had pretty easily from Old Navy, Target, Kohls, etc. for like $20. If I’m going to spend $50 on a maxi skirt, I want it to be more unique.

The jean jacket is fine, it’s cute, but I already have one and I don’t feel like I need another one at the moment. The sleeves are a little long on me, which wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker for me but just nah. Don’t need it.


Pixley Jakobe Chevron Print Maxi Dress

OK, now this is definitely something that I would’ve never picked out for myself. I don’t know that I would’ve even taken it off of the rack to try it on. I like the colors and the pattern, but it is the shape of it that would’ve deterred me.

The elastic waist of the dress falls at the natural waist, which is usually an “uncomfortable” spot for me. Although my waist is actually part of my body that I consider to be pretty nice/thin, it is the part of my belly below it that is a problem area for me. The “mommy belly.” I don’t like to accentuate it in any way. Wrap dresses—which are very flattering on a lot of people—I cannot do because I don’t like the way they make my lower belly look. This dress is kind of skating in that territory, yet it is a flowy/loose enough fit where it might work?

Again, it needs to be accessorized with a necklace—this type of neckline almost always needs one, at least on me—but otherwise, I might actually like this? I can’t decide. I’m going to need to sleep on it, try it on again, and take my three days to decide.


So right now, I’m only keeping 1/5 items. Maybe 2/5. Like last month, I had high hopes but did not have a stellar result. I’m going to keep going with Stitch Fix for now, though, because I am keeping at least one item so my “styling fee” is not going to waste.

Anyone out there who has tried Stitch Fix? How has your luck been?

I feel like the stylists definitely have their work cut out for them—different things fit different people in different ways, they have no way of knowing what is in someone’s closet already, etc. Even with a complete style profile and Pinterest boards, it still seems like a big job to do.

After each Fix, you provide feedback on each of the items you received, whether you’re keeping them or returning them. All of this feedback is kept on your file and helps your stylist do an even better job with your subsequent fixes. With this Fix, I felt like the styling was done well, it was just an issue with fit/sizing and with not knowing what I already had in my wardrobe.

If you’re interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself, please use my referral link:  And let me know how you do with it!

I still have hope that one of these times, I’ll get a Fix that will knock it out of the park. We’ll see what the next Fix brings! I’ll report back on the results.


My “baby” is 2 now.

Her actual birthday was last Sunday, August 2, and then we had her party this past Saturday, the 8th. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, which is why I have once again fallen off the blogging wagon. I love Instagram, you guys. It is so much easier for me to keep up with and I love looking back at my Instagram feed for memories of the daily snippets of our lives. If you don’t yet follow me over there, you can find me @heatherkj. I post way more over there than I do here, I promise.


On Saturday night, the night before Vivienne’s birthday, I sneaked into her room and took a few pictures of her as she slept her last night as a 1 year old.

The tush in the air, the diaper hanging out, the blankies. I want to remember it all.

When we woke up in the morning, we went in to get her and get dressed right away. We were planning to continue our family tradition of going out for giant pancakes on the kids’ birthdays, and since it was a weekend, we were nervous the restaurant was going to be crowded so we wanted to get there as early as possible.

I tried to take a pic of Vivienne standing in her crib under her name but she was pissed about me putting her back in there after she had already been out, and decided to show us that she can lift her leg up over the rail now. Probably should drop the crib another notch or two…

We were pleasantly surprised at the restaurant—we didn’t even have to wait! It pays to be the “early bird” on a Sunday, I guess. :)

Vivienne got her very own mammoth pancake and we put a couple of candles in it for her and sang. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

She rather enjoyed the pancake, though. Little piggy! We still came home with plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week, though. Pop leftover pancakes in the toaster and they are good as new!

On the way home, I mentioned on the spur of the moment that we should try a bike ride. We hadn’t yet gotten around to trying it this year, and I thought maybe Vivienne would tolerate the trailer better now that she’s a little older (she cried in it last year). So we came back to the house, got changed, got the bikes and trailer out, filled all the tires with air, etc. A little while later, we were ready to go!

It was a completely gorgeous day. Just perfect. And the girls loved riding in the trailer together! They kept giggling whenever Michael went over bumps. It was really cute.

We rode a few miles and decided to stop at a playground to let the girls run around for a bit.

After a while, it was getting close to lunchtime, so we decided to head back home. Surprisingly, Vivienne got back into the bike trailer without a fight (she is not usually very happy about leaving a playground!), which I guess means she REALLY liked it.

We fed the girls a little lunch and then Vivienne went down for a nap. Nora and I got busy making homemade pesto and brownies for Vivienne’s birthday dinner and dessert. Our parents and Michael’s sister were coming over for an early dinner before Nora’s baseball game.

Vivienne LOVES pesto (just like Nora), so dinner was a hit.

We sang to her and she was NOT A FAN. Poor thing would’ve crawled under the table to hide if she could have. I don’t blame her—I hate being sung to, too!

Sissy helped her blow out the candles. And she did rather enjoy the dessert part, though.

Shortly after, we all headed out to Nora’s T-ball game. Nora enjoyed herself as she has been (so cute watching her play!) and Vivienne had fun running around with our niece, Sadie, and the rest of our family. Our nephew, Hunter, is on the same team as Nora so it’s like a mini family get-together every time they play, which is perfect!

Fast-forward through five days of work and nights of baking and decorating cookies and cakes and we were at party day. This year, we chose to go with a “mermaid/beach” theme, which we followed pretty loosely. The invitations, the cake and the cookies were all in line with the theme. Everything else was just a color scheme—yellow and aqua for the sun and the sea!

We had a pretty good crowd at our house again. It’s always nice to have an excuse to see our more extended family, and some friends. I love getting everyone together for a few hours. And we really lucked out again with the weather… it was mid-70s and partly sunny/cloudy so it was quite comfortable outside all afternoon. So nice!

We made a giant crockpot full of pulled chicken and served it with slider rolls, and we also made some baked beans. Our moms and a few other family members pitched in by bringing some appetizers and side dishes. Good stuff.

Vivienne was dilly-dallying with her SECOND serving and taking forever so I eventually cut her off and threw away her plate when she was on one of her jaunts away from the table. She caught me doing it, though, and she was PISSED. Threw a big old hissy fit complete with real tears in front of everyone, making me look like an evil mother for STARVING her or something. But I was trying to keep the party moving and wanted to get her started on presents so I gave her a cookie to placate her. I figured I’m not above bribing with sweets on her birthday. :)

She was only half-interested in presents. It was tough to keep her interested. She got a lot of really nice stuff, though, especially clothes. Love it! And she has been enjoying the toys, too, now that she has had time to open and explore them outside of the chaos of a birthday party.

After presents, we did cake. She was still not thrilled with everyone singing to her, but she DID attempt to blow out her own candle afterward, which was heartbreakingly adorable.

A lot of people started taking off shortly after cake, so things began to wind down.

Before my brother and his family could leave, though, Nora had to get in her baby fix. This is our new niece, Brynn, who is only two weeks old. Nora is in love. As is Vivienne, but she was too distracted to pay her too much attention by this point.

Sadie is a big fan of our newest family member, too. Love all of these cousins!

We spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening outside, cleaning up and playing with the girls while catching a few moments of relaxation in between. It was really such a nice day!

And I had to chase Vivienne around to get a few photos of her with her birthday crown on. Our daycare provider makes them these beautiful handmade paper crowns every year and they are just too cute for words.

At one point, Michael was sitting down in a chair watching Nora on the swing set. Vivienne literally dragged her own chair up right next to his and sat down in it. Thankfully, I still had the camera hanging around my neck so I could snap this moment! How stinking cute are they…

Another successful party in the books. We get to do it all over again next month for Nora’s 5th!

Happy Birthday to my sweet, spunky, silly, smart Vivienne May. I love her so.