Weekend at Papa and Deedee's

Dave had a great guys weekend in Chicago recording a new song, seeing friends and going to the Grateful Dead show. The kids and I headed out to the East Bay on Saturday morning, first stopping to see Mariela and her girls at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. It's a really cool place that is rehabilitating animals that people find like owls, turkey vultures, hawks, porcupine, bald eagle and more. The kids weren't in the best mood but they still had fun and enjoyed seeing the animals up close.

Next we headed to Danville and the kids explored for a bit until quiet time and I headed out to shop with Annie for a bit. The kids played some more until Elizabeth and the kids arrived around 5 or so, then we all swam in the neighbor's pool before having pizza and ice cream al fresco, and picking various fruit off of the trees and bushes. The kids had a lot of fun and eventually settled down for the night. Poor C got a bit of G's cold and was up coughing a lot of the night but thankfully didn't see me sleeping in her room so kept going back to sleep.

The next morning Papa got doughnuts for everyone and the boys were excited to take the dogs for a walk down to the big oak tree. Then it was pool time again which really was the highlight. The kids played so well together and really had fun with their cousins. Coco jumped in again and again to swim to Papa. Finally it was time for Liz and the kids to head out so we packed everything up and made a stop to feed the ducks at Blackhawk Plaza, and then to get hot dogs and a few things at Costco. Definitely an adventure on a Sunday afternoon, but fun to taste all the samples!

Colette's Current Favorites: 2 Years Old

Looking back, I can't find that I ever did a favorites post for Coco, which I guess sort of makes sense since looking back at the boys' at the same age, there are a lot of similarities. Coco is so into pretend play and though I wouldn't say she's obsessed with dolls or stuffed animals (she doesn't need to bring them everywhere, doesn't have a favorite, etc.), they get a lot of use on a daily basis. She pushes them around in her doll carriage or stroller, set up tea parties for them or likes a doll or friend to sit next to her at the table while she eats. She's also very into accessories, loves when a box of new clothes comes and wants to try everything on. She often needs to kiss her jackets in her closet good night and likes to feel each one. I don't really consider that a toy, but she is getting more into dress up so I included that on the list. She's also really into playing outside and likes her scooter and bike, though isn't anywhere near as good as the boys were at this age as she only likes to ride for a minute or so before she gets bored. Books are another item that will always be on the list but she's started to move away from her few favorites so I didn't include that on the list. She also loves her magiclip dolls for her dollhouse, but honestly plays with so many different friends (big bad wolf and the three pigs, fire people, whittle world people, etc) that I didn't specifically call them out.

She loves playing with duplos (the boys still do too!), her dollhouse is number one and the Melissa and Doug Tea Set gets use every day. Her backpack has been a recent hit, she loves packing it for trips but now that she needs it for school, she always gets excited to put it on. I just bought a few dress-up clothes for her and she really loves wearing them. The doctor kit or vet kit, as well as tool sets have been super popular lately. She likes to be like the boys and put her tool belt on (often over a dress or a tutu skirt) and fix things in the backyard. She loves little people of all kinds but really likes the Melissa and Doug wooden sets. Balls are always popular in the backyard and at the park.

Father's Day

With the tough day on Saturday, we weren't sure if the boys would be able to turn their behavior around for Father's Day but I had a chat with them the night before and reminded them that the day was about Dad, so they needed to be thoughtful about making sure he had a good day and not to think too much about themselves. Somehow that actually worked and they woke up in a great mood on Sunday, helped me make breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and Trader Joe's frozen chocolate croissants. We had breakfast together and Dave was nice and let me go for my swim as normal, though he decided to put on Moana for everyone to watch for the first time while I was gone.

William made an awesome book with multiple drawings of all the different things he likes to do with dad. George and Coco make pictures too.

We headed to church and then picked up our favorite roasted turkey sandwiches and hung out before everyone got a long rest time. My dad came over and played with the kids and George and Coco stayed behind to help me prep some of the dinner while Papa took William out to ride his bike. Dave got some time alone in the backyard to grill the ribs, his only request of the day. We had a feast with ribs, Brussel sprouts, cornbread and even some fresh crab.

We are so lucky my dad is close by and helps us with so many little projects on the house but also that he loves spending time with the kids. I asked the boys a bunch of questions about Papa to share with him and some of my favorites were:

  • What is Papa good at? 'Going to Costco' - George, 'Tickling' - W
  • What do you like best about Papa? 'That he brings us money (coins)' - W
  • What's your favorite thing to do with Papa? 'Beat him up' - W, 'To play' - C
I think Papa really enjoyed that, as well as lots of sweet photos I got of him and Colette at her birthday party.

Now onto our star, who does so much for us. We feel so lucky that he has a job provides well for us, but more importantly, allows him to be present with the kids just about every single day. He's often up with the kids in the morning and is always doing the boys' bath and shows at nighttime. Even when he travels, he's away the shortest time possible, even if it means a rough turnaround on his end. He's so patient with George's endless questions, will do anything Coco drags him by the hand over to (mostly dollhouse) and feeds William's imagination with his stories and drawings. Even though trips can be trying with the kids, I feel so lucky that we have the opportunity to spend so much time away as a family and experience some of our favorite places through the kids' eyes. Dave really is the best to me and the kids and though he's not much for big celebrations, we like to recognize him for all that he does and all that he is. We love you!

Interview about Dad
  • How old is Dad? '22' - W, '42' - G
  • What is Dad's favorite food? both said 'ribs'
  • What's your favorite thing to do with Dad? 'Go to Disneyland' - W, 'Watch shows together' - G, 'Play dollhouse' - C
  • What is Dad's favorite drink? 'soda water' - W, 'wine or beer' - G
  • What is Dad really good at? 'boxing' - W, 'biking' G
  • How are you like Dad? 'we both have the same hair style' - W, G couldn't think of anything, though these are always hard with him, he can't sit and think about it for longer than a second.

Happy Father's Day!

Coco's Safari Party

It was hard to come up with a theme for Coco's second birthday. She loves dolls and her dollhouse, but I wasn't going to do that. She likes Minnie Mouse, but I wasn't too into that for a theme. She loves playing with her little barn and the animals, but a farm party felt too first-birthday. I sort of went from farm to safari and when I started searching, there were so many cute ideas. I liked that it wasn't too girly, but using gold and pink along with green and tan for the colors seemed like a good mix.

I only started planning maybe a month before her birthday -- April was so busy with Hawaii, the boys' birthdays and New York. But now that I've done parties for several years, the planning it so much easier. I usually look back on my Evernote from the previous party and see how things are divvied out:

  • Dessert food, snack food and catered food
  • Decor
  • Outfits for each of us
  • Games
  • Goody bags
  • Guest list
  • Invitation
  • Book photographer and any entertainment and party helper, order catering and cake
Then I spend some time pinning stuff and eventually narrow it down to certain colors and decor style, and start ordering stuff. I always make a trip to the dollar store, and once again, they didn't disappoint. I was able to get fishing nets to hang over as decor, inflatable monkeys and little animal figurines. Once you get going on an theme, I'm always surprised with how many ideas they're are.

Weather is always a concern, more so for the boys' parties in April. It was unseasonably cool the weekend of Coco's party, but our backyard does get so much warmer than the front so it was mostly okay. The wind was an issue, again, the backyard is protected, but usually we have people come through the garage for the party but there was no way we could keep the garage door and the door to the backyard open, it was such a wind tunnel. So there was some scrambling at the end, but everything worked out. I also had my party helper come at 7am this year so while it's always a scramble at the end, I was much better prepared this year.

For decor, I kept mostly with the green and gold colors, with burlap accents and some pink thrown in there. People came through the door from the garage and we had decked out the area with green plastic table clothes stretching across overhead, then used streamers and balloons to create a jungle effect. It was still windy through here so maybe didn't turn out exactly how I imagined, but still bummed we didn't get a photo of it. We had the catered food in this walk way on a table covered with kraft paper and a grass table skirt, and a mosquito net hung from above. The catering from Bacon Bacon was a hit again.

When people stepped into the backyard, we had drinks right there -- champagne for mimosas, coffee and other drinks.  Meri Meri has the most adorable party supplies and reasonable prices so I ordered some great stuff included a 'Go Wild' banner which I changed to '2 Wild'. I had a pink table cloth with some burlap place mats underneath, then crates to put the cake on. I used fake leaves on the base of the cupcake stands. I usually make some of the food and this year I just made the sugar cookies, which the boys helped decorate. I found out the Whole Foods sells these great cupcakes, $4 for 4 full size, so I picked up 5 packs of those and just stuck an animal cracker on top to personalize it again. Would definitely do something like this again. We had gummy frogs, sharks and worms out on the table which was a hit with all the little kids. I wanted a simple cake this year so decided to just order for a bakery, and it was perfect. I added the animals on top and the TWO sparkler topper. The cake was delicious and I picked it up the day before so pretty stress-free and much cheaper than the custom cakes that require delivery the day of.

For the snack table, I always like to have fun with different foods that can be themed out for the event. The table was covered with green table cloth and a leftover piece of burlap and topped with an old leather suitcase and a decorative giraffe. We had plenty of plastic safari animals scattered all over as well. For snacks, we did:
  • Tiger cub cuties
  • Pretzel stick twigs
  • Pea chip banana slugs
  • Green smoothie jungle juice
  • Animal crackers
  • Apple slices chopped in half for crocodile teeth
  • Banana chip monkey treats
  • Craisins fire ants
  • PB&J sandwiches cut out of animal cookie cutters

I always love having fun signs around and had fun with the backdrop for the food table, basically hanging plastic animal masks and paper honeycombs in various shapes along with TWO balloons. 

When I first started planning, I wasn't too sure who we'd have come. I have a group of friends with kids Coco's age, but in the last couple of months, that group has dwindled as several have moved out of the city. I decided to invite kids from Coco's classes, it seems like a core group that overlapped with a lot of the ones we do. It turned out to be really fun to have a good number of kids her age. I wasn't too sure how into games the kids would be, so was excited when I read about the Amazing Rachel who does basically everything for party entertainment. You tell her the ages of the kids, the theme and any preferences, but otherwise, she runs the show. She came in and started doing face painting, which mostly only the older siblings wanted to do. Then she switched to puppets and the parachute which was a big hit with various ages. Then she moved back into balloon animals. She only stayed an hour but it was the perfect option for a group of kids this age.

The boys helped me make several games -- feed the monkey and feed the elephant. I ordered some fake bananas on Amazon to feed through the monkey mouths and then for the elephant, after drawing and paining the big elephant on a box, we attached a dryer vent for the trunk and put a big bowl of whole peanuts to drop through to the back. There were also some cute inflatable animal games I found in the dollar bin of Target. Jessica helped make these treasure stones that the boys scattered all over and helped break out, with the idea of them being elephant dung. We also saved toilet paper rolls to make binoculars that the kids could decorate with stickers. I couldn't think of anything themed for the rock box, but kept it open and threw some trucks in. Kids always love playing in the playroom since all the toys are new to them.

I found a cute khaki dress for C on Ralph Lauren and tried to theme the rest of us out in appropriate colors without getting too crazy on the theme. It came together well.

I was so excited when I came across Safari-themed Melissa and Doug puffy sticker sets and then the Water WOW books as well, all on sale. These are so popular with kids this age that I knew they'd actually be used, so while they were a bit more per kid than I'd normally spend, it wasn't junk. I love how they turned out when I wrapped them with leaf ribbon and the thank you note.

The party was a lot of fun. It's always a lot of work for such a short event and it flies by, but I've learned lessons along the way that make it easier and more enjoyable each time. Thankfully no one was sick this year, the boys had fun and were great helpers leading up to the event. Coco was in good spirits and enjoyed multiple cupcakes and slices of cake (though I did realize that we forgot to feed her actual food during the party). The only thing she didn't like was that kids were playing with her toys. It was so fun to have our cousins, Aunt Jenn and Meg and Kenny, who all made it in time for the party.

Thanks again to Alyssa Hunter Photography for capturing the event!

Catering: Bacon Bacon
Colette's dress: Ralph Lauren
Colette's giraffe headband: Party Ears
Entertainment: The Amazing Rachel
Invitation, signs, food tent cards, favor tags: Lucky Plum Studio
Meri Meri banner, toucan and leaf napkins: The Happy Elf Shop