Friday, January 30, 2015

Coffee Date Friday: So Long, January Edition

Whoop! Whoop! It's Friday, y'all. Also, how in the WORLD will January already be over by the end of the weekend? Huh? Wasn't it just Christmas yesterday? Cuh-razy. Anywho. 

Who's down for some coffee? This girl.

Were we to meet up for our caffeinated date today, I would want to hear about YOUR week, your life, your thoughts, your ideas, your plans. I would then share the following about me: 

...that last Saturday night, my hub and I snuck out for a burger, a beer, and a movie (and buttered movie popcorn, of course. But. That's a given). The movie du jour? American Sniper. We had to. Everyone's been saying how great it is. These days, we rarely go to movies (as in once, maybe, twice a year). So. It's got to be something special to draw us there. Whelp. I can now say: American Sniper is something special. Graphic and raw and real. And good. Really, really good. I definitely recommend it. 

...that some of my favorite Fort Mill friends and I headed to dinner Monday night for belated birthday celebrations for my girlfriend, V, and I. It was great food, great company, and great fun. And we've already got our next Momma's Night Out planned in just a few weeks. Can't wait! 

...that Banks and Raleigh both had pajama parties at school this week. Not only do they get super excited about special school days like this, but I don't have to get them dressed for these particular parties. Just roll out of bed and they're dressed for the day. Win-win. Ha! :) 

...that tomorrow, my little Harrison and I will be headed to Charleston for the day to celebrate my precious niece's first birthday. Hip, Hip, Hooray. I still vividly remember being on FaceTime with my parents and sister while they waited in the hospital waiting room and seeing my big brother walk into the room to announce the sex of his first baby. I was CERTAIN it was a boy. So. When he said "It's a girl!" there was shock, there were tears, and there was my big brother, a puddle of love over his precious baby girl, Addison. It was a moment I will never forget. And tomorrow, we will help celebrate her first year of life. Such a special day! <3

...that, meanwhile, Banks has a movie theater birthday party tomorrow for one of his good buddies and my hub decided this was the perfect opportunity to take Raleigh to her first ever movie. It should be a memorable and fun day for all!  

...that, last but not least, our sweet, sweet Harrison turned 9 months last Sunday. I am just not sure what in the world we ever did without our Harrison. Our little Buster is such a ray of sunshine. He adores his Banks and Raleigh. He just loves being where they are--he laughs the hardest with them and loves to watch them and "talk" to them. He gets so excited when we pick them up from school! 

Harrison had his 9-month check-up yesterday (and Rals had her 3-year: she's doing great!!). 

While Harrison is growing, getting taller, gaining weight, and is perfectly healthy, his percentiles did fall on the growth curve. :( Some of this is undoubtedly due to the fact that he is in CONSTANT motion (crawling everywhere; pulling up all.the.time.; cruising; walking behind his push toy; etc.), he still didn't gain quite as much as I would feel comfortable with (although, interestingly, his growth pattern, even the amount of weight he's gained over the last 3 months, mirrors Banks' and Raleigh's almost exactly at this age!). So. We'll be upping the amount of solids he's taking in and making sure I am producing enough breastmilk. I have worked so hard to breastfeed him since birth and am determined to push through these last 3 months to make it to a year, just as I did with Banks and Raleigh. Any breastfeeding momma knows what a sacrifice this is. Breastfeeding is a job. A hard job. An exhausting job. And Harrison and I had to fight for it in the beginning, when I had to go dairy- and soy-free due to his protein allergy. I've had mastitis as well as multiple blocked ducts. I've had to find time to pump to make sure he is still getting his momma milk when I'm away later this month. But. We've made it this far. So. We'll close out this journey together, and I'll do everything I can in my power to make sure he is packing on those lbs and continuing to be his joyful, jubilant self. What a delight this precious little boy is. He babbles like crazy. Imitates some animal sounds. And has the most infectious laugh. He is pure unfiltered happiness, this little fella. And we love him so.

Whew! And with that, I would say that I hope you have a warm, cozy, and memorable weekend. I'll try to have the same! See you next week. :) 

Monday, January 26, 2015


It's been a few months since I wrote a post like this. So. I figured now is just as good a time as any for another.

Currently, I am...

Loving...our Kiwi Crates. Have y'all heard of these? Banks and Raleigh received a 3-month subscription from their cousins, and we had an absolute BLAST with our first crate (and our second crate just arrived in the mail, which will be perfect to bust out during the forecasted gloomy weather this week). Basically, you are able to select the gender and age group for the child you are signing up to receive the crate (and there is plenty of materials in each crate for two children to participate). The entire box is themed and filled with craft supplies, games, recipes, books, coloring sheets, etc. I seriously cannot sing it's praises enough. Our first crate was winter themed, and we had a ball making a snowman bowling game, creating beautiful luminaries, playing an igloo ice game, and more! daily devotional, first thing in the morning, every morning. My routine is the same: I wake up before the rest of the house stirs and make and eat/drink my breakfast and coffee while doing my devotional. I have never done a daily devotional before but received Be Still...And Let Your Nail Polish Dry for Christmas and started it on January 1st. It's a great way to kickstart my day. 

Waiting for...some fun plans with friends, both old and new, coming up over the next few months. Yeehaw!

Excited about...celebrating my beautiful niece's first birthday this weekend. I've mentioned it before, but last year, my three (biological) siblings and I each welcomed a baby! The first baby, my sweet niece, will be turning the big 0-1 and celebrating in style down in Charleston. So. Harrison and I will be making a day trip to help her throw down, baby style. 

Trying to...figure out how to tone up without losing weight. That may sound completely obnoxious to some people. And I'm sorry about that. But. I really am seeking help and advice here. I can't be certain, but I'm guessing that because I have a traveling hub, am breastfeeding an ever-growing baby boy, and am pretty much in non-stop motion from the time I wake up until I crash each night, I am burning quite a few calories each day. And, I eat pretty much every two to three hours because I am always hungry, which I assume is because, again, being a stay-at-home momma to three active littles, one of whom is being breastfed, has such high physical demands? I don't know. Regardless, I am not looking to lose any weight--I actually would be okay with putting on some muscle mass. But. I can't figure out how to do it in a healthy way. So. Here's my question: How do I tone up areas that need to be toned (ahem: abs, glutes, come on down!) while not losing weight? Cut out cardio? But I also want to feel fit, and it's hard to feel that way when not doing any cardio. Just use weights for toning? Any advice?? Again, I am not trying to be annoying, I promise. I am just trying to figure out how to be the healthiest me I can be. Any and all advice, and limited eye-rolling, would be greatly appreciated!

Working on...helping my kiddos learn not to tattle. We've been attempting to thwart tattling for awhile now ("No tattling unless it's something dangerous"), which has helped, in my estimation, approximately 0%. But. A friend of mine was soliciting advice on this very topic the other day and someone responded with a genius idea: an illustrative notebook. Thus, "Tattle Tales" was born! I bought a cheap notebook, made it look all official and stuff, and instructed Banks and Raleigh to start drawing the tattling scene in question once it had occurred. IF they happen to remember the injustice at the end of the day, THEN we will review it and discuss it. So far, so good!

Enjoying...slooooowing down our pace during the month of January (have I mentioned that a time or two? Ha!). BUT. Our little family also enjoys spending time with dear friends. So. Of course, we've made a few exceptions this month. For example, a week ago, we had dinner with some of our old college friends and they had the best idea: Playing family vs. family "Minute To Win It" games. Y'all? It was HYSTERICAL. From the "Tissue Toss" and "Breakfast Scramble" to "Junk In The Trunk" and "Cup Stacking," it was just so much fun! new Amp Roller from Rodan + Fields and LOVING it! It's no secret I am a HUGE fan of the R+F skincare products. I have been using them for a couple years now, and I cannot begin to explain what a difference they have made on my complexion (and no, I am not a consultant. Actually, I may be the only person on Facebook who is not a R+F rep. But. My sister is. And she's awesome). I have used the Unblemish and Reverse regimens before, with great results, and am currently using the Redefine regimen (aka wrinkles be gone). I debated back and forth forever about ordering the Amp Roller but finally took the plunge and, at just over a week in, can already see a huge improvement in my fine lines, stretch marks, and general facial surfacing. If my skin is going to age, it's going to go down fighting, doggone it. ;)

Wearing...workout gear almost every day this month. Since we've been mostly hibernating at home, I've been wearing my workout attire because (1) it's comfortable, (2) I'm more likely to do crunches and lunges during naptime when dressed for it [see above], and (3) less laundry-ha!, indoor activities with my littles to get us through these winter months. From time to time, I like to do themed days with my kiddos. Case in point: we had Alphabet Day one day last week. This involved letter races (thank you new bath letters Harrison got for Christmas :), letter tracing and writing (thank you new Dry Erase board Banks got for Christmas), tactile letter drawing via shaving cream, sidewalk chalking with letters, yogurt letter snacks, playing school, letter fishing, and more. The kids LOVED it! On tap for this week, Fun With Numbers. babies their bedtime songs every night. And imagining the days when my boys get married, knowing the mother-son dances will be to these very songs. <3 I am such a sap. I know.

Needing...a tan. Like whoa. Come on, summer sunshine! Or at least, Tan Towels. Y'all ever tried those bad boys? Pure tanning magic, I tell ya.

Learning...well, okay, I already knew this, but realizing yet again, that my hub is one amazing daddy. The other night, we were all upstairs, winding down before bedtime. I asked Banks to do me a favor, which required going downstairs. So. Off he went, after first opening the baby-proof gate at the top of the stairs. Harrison just so happened to be crawling nearby. He saw the open gate and went full-speed ahead toward the top of our (steep) staircase. My hub rounded the hallway corner just in time to see Harrison start plunging down the stairs. My hub dove headfirst down the stairs, catching Harrison mid-somersault with one arm while reaching back to grip the stairs with the other, stopping himself and Harrison just before ramming into Banks (who was half-way down the stairs by this point). Meanwhile, I had been putting laundry away when I heard a loud crash and then Harrison crying. I go running, only to find my hub upside down on the stairs, holding Harrison in one arm and gripping the stairs above him with the other, just inches away from a stunned Banks. I am so thankful that (1) my hub was in the right place at the right time, (2) he acted out of instinct to protect his sons, without hesitation, (3) no one was hurt, and (4) we were able to use the situation to reiterate the importance of keeping the baby gate closed at all times, even if just going downstairs for a moment. Whew. Yep, one amazing daddy alright!

Listening to...Andy Stanley. Andy is the pastor of our former church in Atlanta. While we have our church home here in the Mill, I really, really miss Andy's sermons. They are very application-based and have greatly influenced my life and my faith. Luckily, Andy's sermons are readily available online. So. I'm able to listen to them in the mornings when I'm getting ready whenever I choose. This is definitely one of the things I love about modern technology. 

Wishing...that time would slow down. I just cannot believe my Harrison is just three months away from being one. How did that happen? I know it is so cliche but it is so true: These nine months have been the fastest of my entire life, and I don't like it one bit. I'm just not ready for my last baby to not be a baby anymore. Ugh. This momma stuff is hard on the heart sometimes, ya know?

Doing...lots of planning and prepping for a very special upcoming trip. Here's a hint, with many more details, descriptions, and photos to follow soon...

Dreaming of...a risk I took last week coming to fruition. Crossing my fingers. Crossing my toes. Wishing, hoping, praying that this dream will come true. I won't say more now. But. I am hoping for the best. If you're reading this, and don't mind, please take a quick second to say a prayer that this dream comes true for me. And I promise to share more about this soon...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Coffee Date Friday: He's Home!!! Edition


My hub has been gone since Monday morning. All week. Gone. And he finally gets back tonight. I cannot WAIT to see him, and I know three kiddos who may be even more excited than me!!! What's more, we have not one.single.thing. scheduled this weekend, and I could not be happier to see where it takes us! 

Anywho. Were we to meet for coffee this morning, I'm sure the excitement in the air would be palpable. Although a little alone time is nice sometimes, I am always, always happier when my hub is in town. I've missed his company. So. For this coffee date, I'd be looking forward to your company! First, I'd ask about YOU and yours and your plans and your week and your weekend before sharing the following about me and mine:

...That we had a pretty low key week, but one filled with fun nonetheless. The kids and I are in a really good place right now. Although I am definitely physically exhausted by the end of the day, especially when my hub is gone (I was asleep by 8:45 pm one night, 9:30 pm the next, and 8:15 pm last night!), I have been so proud of how well my littles have been behaving lately. Sure, we have our moments. I mean, I have a sensitive, rule-abiding 5-year-old, a breezy, push-all-buttons 3-year-old, and a mobile (and fast!!!) 8-month-old. But. We are just in a good place. I know that there are different phases of childhood and parenting, but we have just hit our stride lately and are having a ball together. I am very aware that new challenges can arrive at any given time, but for now, I am really enjoying where I am and having my little trio alongside me. 

...That we had GLORIOUS weather this week and spent every spare moment we could outside: before naps, after naps, in the evening. It was awesome. We grabbed ice cream for lunch one afternoon as a reward for my kiddos making so many good choices lately and pushed back naps other days so we could soak in all the extra sunshine. We had a picnic lunch, played baseball and tennis in the backyard, took our babies on walks, and played on the swings. We rode around in Banks' car, jumped on the trampoline, explored the grass, played with neighbors, and just enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine. It was beautiful. Although the forecast is looking rainy and coldy over the next few days, I'm hoping for more Spring-like weather again soon!

...That Banks and Raleigh attended a half-day camp in our neighborhood on Monday (MLK Day). I was a little nervous about how Raleigh would do, since this was the first time she's been old enough to attend one of the camps. She was nervous, too. But then? Then she realized that Banks would be there and her fears melted away. It was the sweetest thing. And they had the best time! 

Meanwhile, I soaked up a little more solo time with my little Buster. 

...That I had an amazing talk with Banks after he came home from the camp about race relations. They had listened to the "I have a dream" speech and he walked to talk about what Dr. King meant when he talked about "white people" and "black people." It lead to a really awesome conversation, one I never anticipated having with my 5-year-old, but one I loved nonetheless. It was such a great reminder that I am responsible for helping to shape his worldview, and what a powerful and important responsibility that is.  

And with that, I would wish you the best weekend yet as we cruised off into the sunset. Have a great one!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Remember To Remember...

Dear Momma, 

Remember to remember...
How very precious this season of life is. Treat it as the very treasure that it is. It won't be like this for long. And one day, you will miss it, these days when they were oh so little: the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are parents who would give anything to be cradling their own babies right now. So. Stop what you're doing. Look at what's in front of you. See them? They are watching you. Watch them, too. Soak them in.

Remember to remember...
How he would awake for the day before the rest of the house stirred. How he would get dressed, brush his teeth, make his bed, and straighten his room all on his own, waiting for the moment you would finally peek your head into his room. That he would entertain himself quietly for awhile before the play increased in volume, forgetting that the rest of the house was not yet ready to start the morning. How he squeezed in every last ounce of play into every day, until his eyelids finally closed, often within moments of his head hitting the pillow each night.

Remember to remember...
How beautifully brutal this chapter of life can be. You are tired. You work hard. You don't sit down. You sacrifice yourself. You put them first. Most days, you give all that you have. Some days, you do not. Some days, you feel like it's not enough. Some days, you do. But here's the thing: You are enough. Hang in there, momma. You're doing a great job. YOU are doing a GREAT job.

Remember to remember...
How he felt, how he fit, in the crook of your arm. The way his eyelashes rested gently on his full cheeks. The way he sounded when he breathed, in and out, in and out, knowing there was no place in the world he would ever feel safer. 

Remember to remember...
How to forgive yourself. That each day is a new one. Learn from your mistakes. It's okay if you make them often. Try to make fewer tomorrow. Don't be afraid to voice them to your children. It shows them that it's okay to make mistakes. It shows them that no one is perfect. It shows them that life is about learning. This is, perhaps, one of the greatest gifts you can give them. 

Remember to remember...
How she would always stay in her room, playing quietly, and waiting for you: when waking up in the morning, in lieu of naptime, when not quite ready to drift off at night. How she would play with her babies, drape her long and lean yet strong body across her bed, speak softly to herself. The way she would gaze out the window and make up stories while waiting for her momma to declare that rest time was over. 

Remember to remember...
How important it is to show your children how much you love their daddy. Tell him, hug him, kiss him, spend time with him, in front of them. Go on dates. Go on weekends away. Make sure they know how important it is be away from you and their daddy at times. Make sure they see how important their daddy is to you. Make sure you know those things, too.

Remember to remember...
How he wanted to be a grown-up oh-so-badly, often imitating adult phrases he'd heard in passing while trying to take on the responsibility of making sure all was right and just within the walls of his home. How proud he looked when complimented for accomplishing new feats, his chest bowed out and the slightest of smiles hinting at the corners of his mouth, ready to burst through at a moment's notice. Still a boy but ready to be a man.


Remember to remember...
How important it is to show your children how much you love yourself. Eat well, exercise, drink water, drink wine, have chocolate, get good sleep, spend time with good friends, spend time alone. Do things you enjoy: read books, watch trashy television, write, draw, create, bake, cook, take photos, talk to friends. Go to church. Talk about your faith. Talk about Jesus. They are listening. They are watching.

Remember to remember...
How she squealed, at the top of lungs, when excited. The way her eyes twinkled as a smile danced broadly across her single-freckled cheeks and she laughed with delight. How nothing could bring this reaction quicker than when being tickled by her daddy. How she wanted to wear a princess dress every single day because they made her feel beautiful. How she couldn't wait to hear those very words come from her daddy's mouth each morning as soon as he saw her. How she made sure to tell those she loved, "You're beautiful, you're kind, and you're handsome."

Remember to remember...
How very blessed you are to get to be their momma. Recognize them as individuals. See their individual strengths. See the individual areas where they need a little more support and guidance. Spend individual time with each of them as often as possible. Make them feel special and celebrated for being exactly who they are as individuals.

Remember to remember...
How he made a beeline for his momma each time you came into his line of vision. How he would crawl as fast as his chubby hands and knees would take him and then pull himself up on your legs, reaching up with one hand to let you know he was ready for a warm hug and a snuggle. How he smiled with all his might each morning when you walked into his room. How he buried his head in your shoulder as soon as you picked him up from his crib, how he nestled in, sucking his left thumb, knowing that this was this favorite place in the world. 

Remember to remember...
How important it is to say, "I love you." Say it as much as you can: when riding in the car, when walking through the store, when sitting side-by-side, when waiting in the carpool line, when bathing their tiny bodies, when tucking them into bed, when passing them in the hallway. You cannot say it enough. Say it for no reason other than because you love them all the way down to your core. It is what matters most in this world: they are loved. Make sure they know that. Say it often. Kneel down. Look them in the eye. Make sure they know. Tell them. Then tell them again. They are so very loved. 

Remember to remember...
You're doing a great job, momma, even when you think that you aren't. Even when you're too hard on yourself. You're doing a great job. You are the only momma they've got. Make it count. YOU are doing a GREAT job.



Friday, January 16, 2015

Coffee Date Friday: Shhhhh Edition


Do you hear that?

It's the sound of...nothing. Isn't it amazing? Isn't it just awesome? It's the sound our calendar is making for most of January, and after a crazy busy December, I am welcoming the silence, the quiet, the shhhhh, with open arms. I am saying HELLO to calendar days that are blank slates with absolutely no intention of filling them. I am saying HELLO to a little family hibernation for most of the month. I am saying HELLO to...silence. It's golden, I tell ya.

So. Were we to meet for coffee this morning, I would let you know that I am enjoying the quietness and solitude of our get together. And that aside from a dinner date with some dear old college friends, and the fact that my hub and I are on nursery duty at church this Sunday, we have nothing else on our calendar for the next two weekends. I would tell you that I am extremely excited about that! I would sit back and hear about YOU, too. About how your calendar is looking for this month. About what you've got up your sleeve for this weekend.

I would then share the following about me, as we soaked in the silence around us:

 ...that we had an absolute blast with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and (new!) nephew during their 3-day visit last weekend. We did quite a bit of playing (okay, non-stop, actually) and the mommas and their girls snuck away for a trip to Build-A-Bear and ice cream as an extra special celebration for the birthday girl. There was also plenty of snuggling, chatting, bathing, eating, drinking, laughing, and memory making. I loved every single solitary minute.

...that we were also spoiled to have my parents, my "in laws," my sister-in-law and niece, and my aunt and uncle and cousin hang at our home for most of the day after Raleigh's 3rd brithday party last weekend. It is always so special to me to have both sets of parents together, and throw in all the other family members we were able to spend time with, and this was one happy momma right here!

...that my big little buddy and I concluded last weekend by attending two birthday parties, one for a school friend and one for a neighborhood friend. One at a nature center and one that was pirate-themed. I loved getting so many hours of one-on-one time with my Banks and watching him have fun with his friends. 

Meanwhile, back at home, my hub was having fun with Raleigh and Harrison:

...that I find that I constantly battle myself as a momma. For example, I worry about my Harrison not easily transitioning to a sippy cup. I worry that he refuses finger foods. I worry that he gags on Stage 3 baby foods. And then I tell myself to relax. Calm down. He is developing at his own pace not mine. And then I start to worry again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Siiiiiiigh. Some days the anxiety wins. Some days, the calm. All a part of being a momma, I guess. Or maybe just my genes? Who knows. But the love? The love is always there. 

...that a couple weeks ago, I had to throw out 140 ounces of my frozen breastmilk that had expired. Any nursing mom out there can imagine how hard it was to trash all that liquid gold. :( The good news is that I still have quite a bit of good milk still frozen and ready to be put to use in a few weeks when we'll need it. :)

...that my kiddos have a long weekend this weekend, after having early dismissal yesterday and no school today or Monday (Happy Martin Luther King, Jr., Day!). That what I find most joyful and fulfilling about being a stay-at-home momma is just that: being a momma. For me, this translates into getting-into-the-trenches kind of play. The board game after board game, dress-up after dress-up, coloring after coloring, construction after construction, crafting after crafting, dance party after dance party, book after book, puzzle after puzzle kind of play. Often, on my hands and knees. Mostly, in the playroom. Always, with a sense of pure fulfillment. This is such a precious season of life: when they are this young, when they actually want to spend time with me, when they actually want to spend time with each other. So. I treasure these long weekends and holiday breaks and summer days. When we have extra time together. It's exactly what I am looking forward to doing this weekend.  

And with that, I would say that I hope your weekend is joyful and fulfilling, too. Let's meet back up, same space next week, for more caffeine. See you then. Have a good one!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Celebrating Three: Manicures, Dress Up, and Princess Tea

I call my Raleigh Jane the girliest tomboy I know. She can wrestle and hit a ball with the best of 'em. But. My little lady adores all things girly, which is exactly why I knew just what kind of party to throw her to celebrate turning the big 0-3: 

The girliest party I could! :) Each of the five 3-year-old guests who were invited to the party received their own nail polish, which was attached to the sweet invitation my friend Amy of One Good Name created to match the pink/gold color scheme of the party.  

The party was held at an adorable little salon called WeeSpa, and I was so excited about the planned festivities: the party would start with a little princess dress-up and runway show. Each guest would then receive her own manicure before the party concluded with a tea party of pink lemonade, pizza, and treats. I went to check out the venue several months ago and was so excited about the party. HOWEVER. If I'm being totally honest, I was really disappointed in the way the party was managed the day of the party. There was a problem with the heating system, which left many little girls shivering at times. The employees were nowhere to be found most of the party, and the "Elsa" who was there to surprise the girls was disappointing. It just felt a little disorganized and poorly run, and I was bummed about all that. BUT. I will say that, after getting over some initial 3-year-old shyness, the party girls  really seemed to have a blast! And, as my sister pointed out, I was very happy with the bits of the party that I had planned and had a hand in creating. Most importantly, I think my birthday girl felt special, celebrated, and loved. And in the end, that is all that matters to this momma.


Without further adieu, I present Raleigh's 3rd birthday party:

First up, the guest of honor herself, wearing a special dress made by my amazing sister-in-law, Amanda, of Goat & Lulu. I had a specific vision for what I wanted Rals to wear, and Amanda totally made it come to life. It's no secret that we're big fans of Goat & Lulu around these parts, and I love that Raleigh got to wear something made especially for her by her Aunt Amanda. I also had the little crown hair clip made for the birthday girl by Mod Party, who were awesome to work with as well. Her sweet, pink and gold shoes are Twinkle Toes by Sketchers. 

It was so strange to "farm out" the party to someone else, since I have always hosted my kiddos' parties at my own home (or at least, my own neighborhood), and thus been in charge of each detail. Although I was disappointed in the management of the party, it was nice to only be in charge of a few things and to not have to worry about general pre-party set-up and post-party clean-up. :) Here's a glimpse at the arrangement of the tea party table:

There were a few things I created for the party so that I could give it a personal touch for my Rals.

For one, the favors. I handmade each guest her own gold crown and party wand. For the crowns, I found some great tutorials on Pinterest (here's one) on creating crowns from lace. They were a little time-consuming, but also easy to make, requiring a little lace, fabric stiffener, spray paint, glitter, modge podge, and hot glue. It was really neat to see basic white lace transform into gold glitter crowns, and I loved how they turned out! I think the guests did, too. :) 

How adorable does my sweet niece, G, look?!

The simple, ribbon wands were also a huge hit with the princess guests and very easy to make: my hub attached eye hooks to dowel rods, which I then covered with gold glitter washi tape I found at Hobby Lobby. I then tied on six pink/gold ribbons to each and voila! Instant princess wand!

I also wanted to create special treats for the girls, so I made vanilla cupcakes, topped with pink vanilla buttercream icing and sprinkled with edible gold flecks. I used teacups as sweet little cupcake holders for a final decorative touch. I also want to start dabbling in decorating cookies with royal icing and thought Raleigh's birthday would be a perfect excuse for my first attempt. So. I created crown cookies as well as monogrammed cookies for each guest:

Extra cupcakes for the mommas ;)

And that was it as far as my involvement! Easy, breezy, and so fun to put together. Here's a taste of the party itself: 

First up, princess dress up and a runway show!

How precious is Miss E?!

 Some (ahem, the birthday girl) were a little hesitant to walk the runway...

 ...while others, like Miss M, rocked it!

 We were so excited to have two cousins join us for the party, including CK (who Raleigh accidentally gifted with a shiner the night before :0 )

Next, it was manicure time, after a visit from "Queen Elsa" (I use the term loosely here ;) :

Each guest picked out her own polish, which ranged from neon yellow to dark green, with a little pink in between :) 

 The sweet spa guests were invited to first soak their hands in a bowl of beads before having their nails painted

 Beautiful Miss H loved getting all glammed up! No, really, she did! ;)

 And it was so fun for the girlies to show their nails off to their mommas when they were done

 The birthday girl was thrilled to have those nails painted bright yellow

After everyone's nails were dry, it was tea party time!

I loved the mix of fun patterns of the patchwork walls and damask table cloth (I take no credit for those!)

Princess tea in the form of pink lemonade

And then time to blow out the candles, of course!

Finally, we opened gifts and chatted with our friends a bit more before it was time to wrap things up. 

We absolutely loved having both Nana...

...and Bammy there for the party!

And Daddy wouldn't have missed his little girl's party for the world!

And so ends the special celebration of Raleigh's 3rd year. I thank God every day for choosing me to be her Momma, and I can't wait to see what the future holds as we inch our way toward the big 0-4.  <3

Three cheers for Raleigh!