Littles

A Cinco de Mayo Birthday Fiesta

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I’m still not sure how it happened. Somehow, my baby boy turned three this past week. Where the time went is absolutely beyond me, but here we are. . . and this occassion calls for a celebration! Since our little guy was born so close to Cinco de Mayo, we thought that would be a super fun birthday party theme and it was a huge success. Read on for all the scoop on how we pulled it off complete with loads of colorful photos, of course!

We decided to have the fiesta in our backyard and the Lord blessed us with amazing weather for the outdoor event. Houston in May is pretty hit or miss, but it was 70 degrees and sunny with very little humidity – a birthday miracle, for sure! To transform the space, we hung huge tissue paper flowers and paper fans (all found on Amazon) from the light strands that we strung over our patio last Fall. All of the color made for one festive fiesta! The fans were super easy to put together and even came with little white paperclips, which made hanging a breeze. The tissue paper flowers weren’t hard to put together, but were a bit more time consuming to fluff each one. They were totally worth it, but I recommend you buy yours in advance, rather than doing it the day of the party, like I did. Also, if you want to vary the height on them, you’ll need to buy your own coordinating color ribbon for them and using paperclips to attach them would have been SO much easier than tying each one, so toss some white ones in your Amazon cart as well.

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At the party entrance, we set out some flower hair clips for the ladies and self-adhesive mustaches for the gents, both found at Party City. For added flair, we set out some small piñatas and two blow up cacti (both borrowed from a dear friend) and a few bottles of Jarritos, embellished with a few of the sticky mustaches. I also potted some succulents in El Pato bean cans, which I bought at Fiesta. (If you don’t have a Fiesta near you, you can snag them on Amazon as well.) Those were an idea that I found on Pinterest and I love the way they turned out! They were easy, inexpensive and super cute. And now I have the goods to create a little potted succulent garden!

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For refreshments, we set out ice water and beer ‘ritas (recipe on the blog here) in these cute glass drink dispensers that we bought online at Pottery Barn about a year ago. They were a great investment. They’re really cute and we’ve used them a ton! Ours are the large size and we bought pretty silver stands for them to go on as well, which raises the spout and makes the dispenser useable even when it’s not on the edge of the counter, but we didn’t need them at this party. At first, I was leaning towards the acrylic version of the container, but in the end, I’ve really loved the real glass ones we bought. We also had wine and beer out and, of course, Jarritos and Topo Chico as well – what Mexican fiesta would be complete without those?! We tossed those, along with some juice and lemonade pouches for the littles into a cute galvanized metal tub on a stand that we bought on Amazon before our oldest son’s birthday party last Fall. It has come in quite handy at parties for a little extra counter space. We set out some fun striped paper straws and some bright green napkins along with some paper flowers on stems for a little extra pop of color.

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I tossed together a few brightly-colored flowers for a centerpiece on the gifts table, mostly because I’ll take any excuse to have fresh flowers in my house!

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We had El Tiempo Cantina cater a beef and chicken fajita dinner with chips and queso. The server was super nice and the food was delicious! And we had them bring tres leches for the adult dessert – yum!

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For entertainment, we set up lots of lawn games, just like we did for our oldest boy’s birthday Southern Lawn Party event. It was such a huge success and definitely a great investment on those games. We play them as a family all the time! Our boys particularly love ladder ball and corn hole and, of course, launching balls on our giant Angry Birds slingshot that my husband built.

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I LOVE the child-sized sombrero that I bought for the birthday boy and he loved it as well! It was well worth the $7.50, as it is quite well made and made for some really cute photos – highly recommend!

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All of our boys wore their monogrammed guayaberas, which they love. They’re comfortable and cool and super cute, especially with seersucker pants! I bought the two younger boys’ at The Monogram Shop here in Houston last Summer before a wedding, but they didn’t have one big enough for our six year old. (And, heads up, these things run small!) Thankfully, I found some online here and got one that matched exactly for him. Daddy wore his favorite one that we bought from my friend at San Cristobal Guayaberas. Theirs are gorgeous and I cannot wait until they start carrying kid sizes this Fall!

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The birthday boy playing ladder ball. People ask me about these adorable shoes all the time. They’re made by Native, but we bought them last Summer and they don’t seem to make them anymore. I’m just sick about it, as they’re my boys’ favorite shoes – and mine as well, because they work at church or on the beach! When they get dirty, I just hose them off in the sink. Seriously some of our favorite and most-often complimented shoes. Please bring them back, Native! In the meantime, these are the closest that I’ve found from them.

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“Flowers for you, mama!” Is my darling boy just the sweetest?

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I found this adorable paper flower crown (and the paper flowers on the table here) at Houston’s cutest party shop, Emerson Sloan. I was surprised how many people who asked me haven’t heard of it! It’s located in Rice Village and run by my friend Kim, who is so much fun. They’ve got upscale party decor, great gift items and fun gag-type gift items and hilarious cards as well. Get over there and check it out or shop online! (Also, my top is by Johnny Was. I’ve had it for a few years and I love it. It’s cool and comfortable and I always get compliments on it!)

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I snagged this sparkling number 3 at Emerson Sloan as well. I was amazed at what a huge hit it was! My boys thought it was the coolest thing ever. And we got some super cute photos with it as well (see the birthday boy’s face below!) I highly recommend it for your next shindig! We also picked up a golden number 3 balloon while we were there and from what I’m told – that thing will last months!

The cupcakes were from Moeller’s Bakery in Bellaire. We absolutely love this place. Their prices are super reasonable, their turnaround time is very quick (in case you’re forgetful like me and order the day before – oops!) and the taste is out of this world. I definitely recommend them for cakes, cupcakes and other treats.

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After the cupcakes, we remembered the piñata! (#oops again) and the kids had SO much fun smashing it with a baseball bat!

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All in all, it was a very successful party! All of the adults had fun, the kids had a blast and the next morning – the birthday boy was STILL talking about it. That’s the biggest win in my book!

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Mutton Bustin’

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If you’re not from Houston, my guess is that the term Mutton Bustin’ is new to you. If you know what it is, however, my guess is the term brings a smile to your face every single time you hear it. It has always been one of my favorite events to watch at the Houston Rodeo and this year, for the first time, my own son got to participate. And it was a blast!

Bull riding is always the main event of the rodeo, but for junior rodeo types, sheep riding is the thing, and down here, we call that Mutton Bustin’. And its a VERY big deal. Kids sign up to compete in the main arena at the Houston Rodeo over six months in advance and they are the last event of the rodeo, going on just before the entertainment as they’re setting up the stage for the singer of the evening. Over at the rodeo carnival, however, those of us who didn’t plan that far in advance still get a chance to try and tame those wooly beasts. Here are the details for your mini cowboy or girl…

Participants must be five or six years old and weigh between 35 and 55 pounds. Mutton Bustin’ is done every hour (on the hour) starting at 11am and signup begins an hour before each competition. The carnival opens at 10am, so if you show up right at 10am (or a few minutes before), you’re likely to get a spot in the 11am slot. We showed up at 10.15am and were 3 people too far back, so we stayed put and waited in line for the 11am signup for the noon competition. They weigh your child, you fill out a form (including listing the child’s favorite rodeo food, favorite event and what they want to be when they grown up, which is always fun to hear the announcer read out as each child comes up), then you sign a waiver of liability, pay $15 (and order a DVD for an additional $15 if you so chose) and you head to the carnival to play some games and ride some rides until 20 minutes before your showtime.

When you come back, you suit up, wait your turn and head into the arena…on the back of a sheep! It is so much fun to watch these little ones hold on tight to the back of a sheep for the ride of their (very young) lives. The goal is to make it all the way across the arena and one little girl did it! She was the winner of our hour and got an adorable belt buckle to celebrate her title. Our little guy started off a little too far back on the sheep (maybe we needed a reride?!) but he did great anyway and made it a little over halfway across the arena. He had no injuries and had a blast, so I’m going to call that a big win for us!

If your little guy has been begging you as much as mine has to let him do it, I would definitely invest the time and effort to head on down to the rodeo and give Mutton Bustin’ a go. You can scroll down for a highlight reel of our experience. We all had an absolute blast and little brother is already counting the days until he’s old enough to do it next year!

 

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The Mutton Bustin’ Committee was filled with super nice and super helpful people who made the process easy and fun.

 

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Waiting our turn.

 

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Gathering the sheep.

 
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Reading the fine print.

 
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All suited up.

 

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Hi, mom!

 
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Next in line.

 

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Our turn!

 

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…And he’s off!

 

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Hanging on tight!

 

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All worth it for a blue ribbon!

 

My Rooted Garden

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How beautiful are those greens?! Swiss chard, arugula, dinosaur kale and banana peppers abound in my garden right now and I am so excited to make a salad with them tonight! Curious about how this all started? Read on, dear one.

I first met Nicole Burke of Rooted Garden when I inherited a garden at the home we moved into over this past Summer. Nicole had started the garden and in the lovely, temperate climate that is July in Houston (please note the sarcasm here), I was tasked with learning about what she had done and how to maintain it. Honestly, gardening is one of those things that I have always romanticized (likely because my mom did it when I was a little girl) and wanted to learn more about, but never really had the time. I always sort of figured I’d learn to do it when I got older and my kids were grown. Isn’t that what Southern women do? (Note: There’s a strong possibility that Ouiser cemented this idea in my head. If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, check out the graphic I made below to bring you up to speed and then, for the love of laughter, curl up with Netflix and watch Steel Magnolias ASAP. It is one of my very most oft-quoted movies ever!)

 

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Anyway, back to my darling friend Nicole. She has coached me through six months of gardening now and, while I have not learned nearly enough about gardening yet (which is no reflection on her, but more a result of the fact that my retention for things is severely diminished at this stage in my life) I have learned some valuable takeaways for life…

  • It’s never too late to learn new things, so quit putting off what you really want to do if a lack of knowledge is all that’s holding you back. Grab a book or find a friend who is an expert and learn alongside them.
  • Pruning (cutting back) is required for growth. (Ouch, there’s one I need to reflect on more!)
  • Your garden requires daily (or at least semi-weekly) maintenance. Just like anything important in life, truly investing in something requires being present and taking action. We are far too quick to automate things these days and let them go.
  • Kids love digging in dirt and get a HUGE thrill out of picking fruit and veggies they’ve helped to maintain. (Here’s hoping they start getting that same thrill out of eating them!) Our children today need more time outdoors. That’s a simple fact. Growing a garden together gives you a task at hand to focus on together and heaven knows we need more of that in my family! It’s a bonding experience AND its lots of fun.

In case you’re debating undertaking a garden project, let me encourage you to give it a try. Even if you don’t have a green thumb (I’m positive mine is black!) you can do it. Will you grow prize-winning vegetables? Likely not. But, will you relish the food that you eat that you have grown yourself in your backyard? I’m pretty sure you will! There is something so grounding and inspiring about eating something you’ve planted and cared for and grown and reaped. And, bonus – it’s organic! Well, unless you spray your garden with scary pesticides, in which case – yuk! And, at the very least, you’ll have some lovely landscaping in the process.

So, if you’re in the Houston area, check out Rooted Garden. Nicole can do as much or as little as you like. She can offer a consult on what you should plant and tips on how to care for it or she can take your existing “blah” space and turn it into a gorgeous urban edible landscape and then she can come back and care for it and then deliver the fruits of your (her) labor right to your door for you. If you do want to get out there and garden next to her, you’re sure to learn something and have a lot of fun in the process as well! If you’re not in the Houston area, Nicole offers virtual consults as well, so don’t let that stop you! And if you’re just interested in a dabble, follow her on Instagram. Her feed is lovely!

 

A Southern Lawn Party

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For our son’s birthday party this year, we wanted to do something a little different. I really like including the entire family (siblings as well) when we can, because it’s always so much more fun when you don’t have to split up your family on the weekends to attend birthday parties. Of course, not every venue works for that, so we decided to have this one at home.

What we ended up deciding on is a Southern Lawn Party theme. We set out tons of lawn games and had classic Southern fare and cocktails outside while the kids played and ran in the grass. We had corn hole, bocce ball, croquet, ladder ball, giant Jenga and a huge game of Connect Four. We even made a life-sized Angry Birds game, which was the hit of the party. Thank goodness for my sweet husband who is always up for the task of making my crazy ideas come to life! To pull this off, he made a giant slingshot using this launcher and attached it to steel pipe he purchased at Home Depot. I hand-painted red and yellow kickballs to look like Angry Birds and used these green balloons to make little piggies that the kids could knock down from the boxes we had saved (from ordering all of those supplies on Amazon!) which we spray painted to look more like bricks holding the pigs.

I’d been praying for good weather since we sent the invitations and man, did God show off! This week, the temps in Houston dipped and the humidity as well. It was absolutely gorgeous. Demeris catered the food and brought their always-amazing BBQ, chicken and sausage along with delicious potato salad and beans with chicken fingers and mac n’ cheese for the littles. We ordered our birthday cake from Moeller’s Bakery, which is our go-to for a cake that’s both beautiful and delicious. My sweet friend Anne Letzerich owns Muddy’s Garden and did the flowers for me. Are they not just exquisite? She heard my vision for an outdoor event with Southern elegance and ran with it!

Below are a few pics from our big celebration. I would love to hear your thoughts. Have any questions about where we got something? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll gladly answer!

 

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Table decorations (I love these striped napkins! Got them here.

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Demeris Catering did not disappoint!

 

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Gorgeous flowers by Muddy’s Garden

 

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How adorable is our cake from Moeller’s Bakery? Yum!

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Who doesn’t love a game of corn hole?

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Connect Four is even more fun when it is giant!

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I hand-painted kickballs to look like Angry Birds!

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And we made pigs to knock down out of green balloons…

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…and saved up shipping boxes for a month to make the bricks holding the pigs.

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The life-sized Angry Birds game was a huge hit!

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Giant Jenga was also a blast



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Toys with wheels never disappoint!



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All in all, it was one fun party!

See Me

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This year, our children’s school has committed to being a part of +Works (pronounced Positive Thinking Works). I went to a meeting introducing it a few weeks ago and I was blown away. In fact, I’m still processing much of what was said. There are several schools that are joining in this movement and I couldn’t be more excited that our school is among them. The women who started this initiative are two experienced moms (and friends) Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille. As I listened to Sarah speak, I realized how desperately our society needs this thinking. In tumultuous times like this, we need so much more of this and the very best place to start is with the current generation of children. As we learn alongside them and strive to model this type of life for them, our world cannot help but be changed for the better.

Today, our school sent out the following poem from +Works. It struck me to my core as I read it. Tears filled my eyes and my heart was deeply convicted by these words. I thought you might be as well, so I wanted to share them with you. We all need to read this. Multiple times.

Again, these words are not my own, but I did want to share them with you because they are so important. For more resources like this, which I have found very helpful in my parenting journey!) or for information on their movement, please visit their website here or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

SEE ME
I am your child.
I am your student.
I am your husband.
I am your wife.
I am your brother, your sister.
Your mother, your father.
Your friend.
Your neighbor.
I am a human being doing my best.
And I need you to see me as I am.

I need you to SEE me as I AM.

I need you to allow me to be myself with you.
I want to tell you my truth.
Can you hear me?
I am screaming at you with my eyes wide and my mouth shut.
I need you to give me the gift that comes in a simple card that reads:
You are not me.
You are you.
And I love you.
As you are.

I need you to tell me this to my face:
I love you even when and especially when you don’t agree with me because we have so much to learn from each other on this journey.

What is that so hard?
What are you afraid of?
Why do you tell me not to feel what I’m felling when I’m feeling it?
Why do you tell me to believe what you believe when I am still searching?
Why do you dream for me when I have my own dreams?
Why do you think you get to choose whom I will become?

Please know this.
Just because you are older or smarter or richer or poorer or ____er does not make you wiser.
I have seen wisdom spring from unexpected people and unexpected places.
Like youth.
And inexperience.
And silence.
Especially when that silence is imposed.

Please. It is awful not to feel loved.
Hear my voice.
See my face.
Feel my pain.
Set me free.

Our Favorite Shoes

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As a boy mom, I spend far too much time (and money!) on shoes. These boys grow so fast! We’ve gone through so many different brands and styles and have loved some and hated others (and loved a few styles, but hated the quality of them.) I think we’ve finally found our favorite shoes – and we get TONS of compliments on them!

They’re made by Native Shoes and they are absolutely adorable. They look like boat shoes, but are completely made of rubber, which means they hose down easily after a day at the beach, or digging in the dirt. And they come in so many cute colors! Each of my boys has several pair in various colors, because we wear them so often. They look just as good at the beach as they do in pajamas (see below) or going to church! They’re comfortable, breathable and easy to clean (which is key for a boy mom.)

Every time my boys wear them, we get compliments on them and I’m constantly telling people where to get them, since we mamas need to help one another out. And who has time to research cute kids’ shoes all the time? Not me! We’ve bought some on Zappos, which is my go-to for my kids’ shoe shopping, since they’re returns are SO easy and you have 365 days to do it. Shout out to them for such amazing customer service! You can also get them on the Native Shoes website if you’d like different color/size options.

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They look awesome with Christmas pajamas, right? Shown here on our recent trip to Lost Pines Resort. Read more about our fun trip here.

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And they’re even precious with dressy clothes on, making them super versatile!

Legos + Travel

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We are SUPER into Legos in my house. My boys love them and they are entertained by building and rebuilding them for hours, which is wonderful! On our trip to NYC in December, my oldest and I had dinner with my gorgeous and crazy-talented cousin who lives there and we sat in a quaint French restaurant chatting and drinking wine while he built his Legos for 3.5 hours. It was a God-send for us. He was happy and content to be playing Legos quietly and we got to catch up and enjoy a delicious dinner. The only downside was when he would accidentally drop one of those tiny little pieces on the floor of the restaurant. (Don’t worry – he’s so adorable that the people at neighboring tables were more than happy to help us find them!)

Before our next trip, however, I resolved to find a solution for our problem. So, I took to Pinterest, which I love for the fabulous ideas that I find there (though I sometimes also lose that love temporarily when I realize how far the bar of expectations has been raised by all of those amazing ideas.) The other day, however, in researching travel lego solutions, I found a fabulous one and it worked just great, so I wanted to share it with you!

There were lots of Lego travel box solutions on Pinterest, with some using vintage-style lunch boxes, old diaper wipes containers, pencil boxes, etc. I really think that anything would work. Because I wanted to use ours for plane travel, I wanted it to be a little smaller and because my boys are so young, I wanted the latch on it to be pretty secure. I found all of the supplies for ours at Target (along with a few new small Lego sets to surprise the boys with on the trip, since new toys never hurt in keeping them busy!) but you can also find everything on Amazon and they will deliver it straight to your doorstep – amazing! You’ll need a Lego baseplate in your desired color (I went with green), a plastic container that latches closed (I went with this inexpensive Sterilite one with one divider inside), a hot glue gun and either an Exacto knife or a good pair of scissors for cutting the baseplate to fit.

The instructions for the style that I decided to go with is here on an adorable blog called Housewife Eclectic. Her instructions are fantastic, so hop over there and check them out. I will say that neither Gorilla Glue nor Super Glue works well on these types of plastic, so I suggest that you stick with her idea of a hot glue gun.

I decided to surprise the boys with them on the airplane and they were thrilled!  We definitely still had some dropped Legos, but these helped a ton and were great for transporting them and for playing with them in the car!

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We put one green rectangle on the top of the box and another inside, so that they can play with the box open or closed.

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Enjoy!

Happy First Birthday!

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I’ve been designing and making jewelry for fifteen years now. There are both good and bad sides to being a creative. One of the good things is that a lack of ideas is never a problem. I literally have creative ideas all day long. When I sit down to design a collection, having enough ideas has yet to be an issue. One of the bad sides of being creative, however, is that a lack of ideas is never a problem. And that can be incredibly exhausting. It can also be frustrating when you don’t have the time, energy or resources to pursue every idea. And therein lies the crucial challenge of running a creative business – being able to weed through the clutter to the very best.

My sweet little baby boy is one year old today. I’m having a really hard time believing it, since I’m fairly certain that I brought him home from the hospital as a newborn just yesterday, but alas, he’s walking (along furniture) and talking (mama is still his favorite word, thankfully!) and even attempting to ride his big brothers’ scooters (unsuccessfully, thank goodness!)

When a creative mama who adores her little one sits down to plan his first birthday party, craziness ensues. I had so many ideas that had a really hard time reigning it in. (See above note about creative problems.) We decided on a family birthday party for him since he’s just one and we’ve got two “big boy” birthday parties coming up in the next few months. I’ve been doing quite a few jewelry shows lately, so I really needed to keep it simple. (Well, simple by my standards, anyway…)

I decided on a “mustache bash” for our little man’s big celebration and it was really fun. We did a Sunday brunch (which is, by far, my favorite meal) and it was wonderful having a smaller celebration with family. And the birthday boy had an absolute ball, which was the best part. When we started singing to him, he grinned from ear to ear, and by the end of the event, he (and his seersucker birthday outfit) were completely covered in chocolate, so I consider that a huge success!

I wanted to share a few of the photos from the event with you, in case you’re looking for ideas for an upcoming little boy’s birthday party (or a cute baby shower theme.) I’m all about sharing the creativity! Have questions about any of the items you see below? Let us know in the comments. If you’d like to know more about any of the DIY decorations, let us know that, too. We love sharing ideas. And please share your birthday party ideas, too – you can never have too many in the queue for the future!

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How adorable is this mustache balloon?  And the giant “one” is bigger than the birthday boy!

 

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Baby Mum-Mums are a must at any one year old party! Our children have always loved them. They’re an easy way to entertain babies who are too little to eat with you at a restaurant, but also don’t want to feel left out – or to give to a baby as you’re fixing dinner when they’re unhappy with slow service!  I buy them on Amazon Prime in bulk here.

 

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I love to bake (which may be because I enjoy the fruits of my labor!) so making a birthday cake is really fun for me. This is the “smash cake” that I made for our little man. I used the recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, which is one of my absolute favorites and a must-own for anyone who loves to bake. I’ve been going to Magnolia Bakery in New York since the West Village was the only location and they’re cupcakes are still my very favorites – not to mention how adorable the place is!

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Pink peonies are my absolute favorite flower and I recently found some at the grocery store down the street – yay! I’m also a huge fan of hydrangea and think that the two together are really lovely. I made a similar arrangement for a jewelry show that I had last week and got lots of compliments on it.

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For the main centerpiece, I put hydrangeas and roses (always a classic combination) with snapdragons for a little pop!

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I’m a big fan of puffs for the same reasons as Mum-Mums – their high entertainment value. Plus, what they lack in nutritional value, they make up for in hand-eye coordination training, right? I like this brand, which I also order on Amazon Prime because they bring it right to my doorstep with no shipping charge – which is crazy helpful for this busy mama. (If you haven’t yet tried Amazon Prime, they’re offering a free 30-day trial of the service and I’m pretty sure you’ll be hooked after that! Just click on the graphic at the bottom of this post to claim your trial.

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 This is the “big cake” I baked.  (And it was SO yummy!)

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 Yay for first birthday gifts

 

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 Party favors. (Note the cute furry mustache stickers on the boys’ bags!)

 

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 I made these mustache milk bottle vases for table decorations, which
doubled as adult party favors!

 

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I made these place holders using my new embossing tools that I found at Paper Source. After the sweet (and clearly rather smart) sales associate there made a bookmark for my oldest son when he asked what the embossing tool was as we were browsing in the store, I was hooked.  I mean, how fun are these?!

 

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The big boys using the multi-colored marbled heart-shaped crayons that I made for kids to play with during the party. (We also sent a few home in the party favor bags, too!)

 
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 One really cannot have too many flowers, right?

 

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The table

 

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 Chocolate-covered = success in my book!

 

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 The birthday boy!

 
 
 
 

“Flutter-Bys”

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Today, we took the boys to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  Usually, when we go to the museum we hit the dinosaur exhibit.  (Like, Every. Single. Time.)  We have a membership (which is totally worth it, by the way!) so we go quite a bit.  When we go, our boys beg for dinosaurs.  Today, however, we convinced them to check out the butterfly exhibit.  The Cockrell Butterfly Center is amazing!  The plants are stunning, the butterflies are beautiful and although it is quite warm and humid in there, it’s totally worth it.   (more…)