Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Milk and Cookies": A 1st Birthday Bash!

Last Sunday, 60 of our closest family and friends helped us celebrate Harrison turning the big 0-1, via a "Milk and Cookies" birthday bash!

I purposefully selected the theme for two specific reasons: (1) I was so very proud to have nursed each of my babies for their first year of life; so, this was a shout-out to those three years of love, pain, and hard work. Breastfeeding is not always easy: with Harrison, alone, I suffered through mastitis, many blocked milk ducts, pumping, having to go dairy- and soy-free for several months due to his milk protein allergy, etc. So, I wanted to have milk as part of the theme to (selfishly) celebrate what is, undoubtedly, one of my greatest accomplishments; and, perhaps more importantly, (2) My little buster loves alllll things sweets. So. "Milk and Cookies" it was!

Here, first, are the specifics of the party details: 

The invitation: My awesome friend Amy, of One Good Name, created all of the adorable printables for the party, which included the invitation, food and drink labels, signs, and banners. She was so wonderful to work with and customized everything based on the vision I shared with her. If you need printables, she's your gal!

The cookie station: What good would a "Milk and Cookies" party be without cookies?! Anyone who knows me knows that I am much more of a baker than a chef (ha! slight understatement), and I was so excited to create the sweets menu for the party. While we had appetizers for the adults outdoors (more on that below), indoors was all about sweets for the kiddos. I homemade and decorated two special cookies for the occasion as well as the cupcakes, which were frosted with chocolate-chip cookie dough icing (made from scratch and quite heavenly, if I'm being totally honest). The rest of the sweets were easy: I got them from Costco. Cost effective and tasty-I'll take it!

The Cookie Bar.
Cookies, cookies, and more cookies.
The menu.
Fun "chocolate chip" shortbread cookies I made for the occasion...
As well as milk bottle cookies
And I can't forget the scrumptious cookie dough cupcakes!

Some of the other treats offered.
 Have I mentioned a time or two I am obsessed with bunting? Ha! I handmade most of these during naptime over the last couple months and loved how they looked all together as a backdrop.
I think the tassel garland was my favorite, which was cheap and easy to make!
And how cute are the printables for the cookie and milk bars (more on the latter below!)

The milk station: With all those sweets, the littlest guests would surely need something to wet their whistles. Enter: the milk bar, which offered a selection of strawberry, chocolate, and white milk. 

The Milk Bar.
Again, shout out to One Good Name for the sweet printable details.
Can you guess which two milks were the favorites? I'll give you a clue: not white. ;)
 Bottoms up!
A little baby's breath to freshen up the place. :) 

The birthday boy's throne was placed right next to the milk bar and was festive and ready for dining!

Party fun, Part 1: Cookie decorating station: As if the cookie bar wasn't enough, why not offer more cookie-eating opportunities in the form of a cookie decorating station? If the amount of sprinkles on our porch after the party was any indication, this activity was a hit!

 The calm clean before the storm ;)

 (Store-bought) sugar cookies, icing, and sprinkles awaited the guests!

Party fun, Part 2: Cookie jar guesses: The kiddos were also invited to guess the number of cookies in the jar to win a prize (i.e., the jar of cookies-surprise!). The winning guess was just 20 cookies off!

Party fun, Part 3: Bounce away! Because we were expecting 30 kids, ranging in age from 11 months to preteen, I knew we needed a little something extra to really keep the party going (and help the kiddos burn off all that sugar!). We rented this jump castle from A Bounceable Time, and they were absolutely fabulous to work with, even agreeing without hesitation to let us postpone the rental from Saturday to Sunday with only 24 hours notice and no extra charge. 

The favor table: As if there STILL wasn't enough sugar, guests were invited to take home their own (white chocolate) milk mustache, which were made by Chootzies. 

 The favor table
 One Good Name does it again...
and again!
 I found the cute picket fence containers in the Target dollar bin. With a quick coat of spray paint, some floral styrofoam to hold the mustache pops, and a little greenery, they were ready to go!
A view of the screened in porch, which housed the cookie decorating station, cookie guessing game, and favor table.

Adult food and bevs: We couldn't forget all of our dear friends (i.e., the parents of our sweet guests!) and their food and beverage needs! Thanks to a trip to Costco for some Cowboy Caviar and jalapeno pimento cheese (yum and yum!), as well as several dips (spinach and artichoke; hot corn dip) made with love by my momma, the adults were not forgotten. Beer, wine, and Mudslides were on tap for sipping and there was plenty of bottled water for guests of all ages. 

 A view of the backyard. Thank goodness for no rain!!!
And now, the important stuff: the people! We are truly indebted to each and every person we invited to the party. These are the people who have walked alongside us the last year as we have adjusted and transitioned to life as a family of five. They are so very important to us, and we were so touched to have them with us as we celebrated not only Harrison turning one, but also the fact that we made it, relatively unscathed, through newbornhood and infancy. We love our village--our amazing family and friends--and are absolutely blessed to have them in our lives. 

First, let me proudly introduce our Harrison, the guest of honor:

 Bowtie and suspenders by The Littlest Gentleman

And our little family o' five:

Lastly, a few fun shots from the party:

We honestly could not have had a better time celebrating our sweet 1-year-old. Thank you again to our wonderful family and friends who traveled near and far to help ring in Harrison's birthday!

And with that, we're off to tackle Year 2, as we continue to work through our sugar high. :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Harrison Turns 1

Whew! What a weekend we had! What an amazing celebration of our last baby, our Sweet Baby Lu. 


For months, we had planned a big, fun birthday bash for our Harrison that was to take place on his actual birthday, which was Saturday, April 25th. We were expecting a large turnout (and by large, I mean 70 people) and thus, fully intended for it to be both an indoor and outdoor party. Well, Mother Nature had other plans. All week long, the forecast called for a 90% chance of rain. It never wavered, despite my persistent prayers for dry skies. 


You know what? I think that the unwavering 90% was God's way of letting me know that there was no doubt there would be rain so we needed to change our plans. This wasn't a 50% chance of rain. It was a never-changing, definite, 90% chance. It was going to rain. This meant we had plenty of advance warning that the weather would not be cooperating for the birthday bash on Saturday. So. We postponed the party to Sunday. 

You know what? It couldn't have worked out better.

You see, we had all of the grandparents, one great-grandma ('sup, G. Gram), a great aunt and uncle, and almost all of the aunts/uncles/cousins in town for the weekend. So. We decided we would have a special, intimate, family-only celebration on Saturday and the big bash on Sunday, when the weather was predicted to be much more party-friendly. 

In the end, I wouldn't have had it any other way. We got to spend more intimate, individual time with our beloved family members on Harrison's actual birthday and then throw down, 1-year-old style, with so many dear friends the following day. Thank you, Jesus, for making it rain on Saturday. Your plan was far better than mine!


I'll be posting ALL the fun details of the birthday party in a few days, once I have time to rest, recuperate, and get through the hundreds of photos we snapped throughout the day. 

For now, a recap of our sweet Harrison's actual birthday, when he turned the big 0-1:

We started the day with my hub, Banks, Raleigh, and me walking into Harrison's nursery all together, serenading him with a spirited rendition of "Happy Birthday" before letting him open his presents. 

Clearly, he's figured out the true function of a chair. ;)

We then had our traditional birthday breakfast: cinnamon rolls with sprinkles. Have I mentioned that he is doing an AWESOME job with self-feeding? Now, we just need to finally master the sippy!

We spent the morning playing with Nana and Pop, who had arrived the night before, and waiting for the rest of our family members to arrive. 


Harrison was also proud to show us that he was "1," a new trick he learned for the occasion. :)


 Once the rest of our family arrived, it was time to par-tay!

 Harrison loved chatting with Bammy and Uncle Dame
 Meanwhile, cousins Skylar and Addison enjoyed the baby ball pit :)

Harrison and Addison, less than 3 months apart and already trying to break into the cooler :)
 While the kiddos played, we grown-ups talked and ate and drank and laughed...

 Of course, the birthday boy got lots of snuggles from everyone, including his proud Daddy

Finally, the time had come: the smash cake! Although I had originally planned for this to take place at the birthday party, I thought it would be more meaningful to share the moment with those family members who were able to travel all the way to the Mill to celebrate our little buster. As I've done for each of my babies, I made the smash cake myself. Because we had a "Milk and Cookies" theme for Harrison's birthday party, the cake had to fit the occasion, of course!

Our little family of five, singing "Happy Birthday" to our baby. <3

Initially, Harrison had no idea what to do. I think he could not believe he was going to get the entire cake all to himself. 

 "Uhh...guys? I thought you said there'd be cake?"

But after a little help from Momma, and a few words of encouragement, he quickly discovered the joy that is cake. 

 A taste from Momma.

"You can eat it, birthday boy! It's all for you!"
 "If you insist..."

 "Dad, are you seeing this?!?"

 "G. Gram, you have GOT to try this!"

 "Seriously, Dad, you must taste it!"
And THAT is how it's done.

And I even saw a couple of littles who snagged a bit of cake for themselves. :)

We closed out the day by opening gifts and continuing to spend time with our wonderful family. Although my tears started flowing when I attempted to thank everyone for the never-ending love and support they provide to our little family, my hub took the reigns, ensuring everyone knew how very grateful we are to have them in our lives, especially as we continue on our parenthood journey. 

And with that, our littlest Lu, our sweet baby boy, was officially one. I have so much to say about this last year, specifically to my Harrison, which will be coming in an upcoming post. For now, I'll just say that we had a beautiful celebration of the little boy who completed our family in the most wonderful way.

As I tucked him in that night, I sang him our song and thanked God for giving us our Harrison. <3

And then? Well, then I told him to rest up because he needed to be ready to parrrrrtay the next day. And parrrrrtay we did. More on that soon! 

For now, Happy, Happy 1st Birthday, Sweet Baby Lu. Thank you for helping to make my wildest dreams come true.