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Friday, June 29, 2012

Practice makes perfect

Both Sandy Cat and Sammy have been doing their parts to get ready for the new baby by using Sammy's baby doll as a proxy.  As you can see, Sandy Cat is always ready and willing to be a nap buddy/bed warmer at a moment's notice.

Sammy, on the other hand, has taken on more of an interest in making sure the baby has enough to eat and drink at all times and made the baby a gourmet breakfast of eggs, ketchup and sugar.  When I informed him that the baby might be thirsty after all of that yummy goodness, Sammy raced for the bottle and proceeded to give the baby some milk for the next fifteen minutes or so, which in toddler time is equivalent to approximately two and a half days.

I'm so glad to see Sammy taking on such a nurturing role, especially without having a real-life model from which to follow (although he did pick up quite a bit about the younger set while his cousin, Henry, was here in May).  I'm toying with the idea of maybe making his baby some pretend cloth diapers so Sammy can try his hand at changing him--I think he might enjoy that, or at least the act of velcroing something over and over again.

From the looks of it, I'd say Sammy's ready to be a big brother--hopefully his little brother will decide to wait it out a few more weeks before making an appearance!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Some outtakes and candids from Sammy's birthday party

As soon as Sammy's interest in airplanes sparked a few months back, I knew I had to track down a vintage Fisher Price airport for him (and me and Captain Husband) to play with; I managed to find one on eBay a few weeks back for less than $6 (!) so the matter of Sammy's birthday present was settled.  I set it up in the kitchen and it was definitely the highlight of the day--every kid that walked through played with it and just about every parent in attendance made the comment along the lines of, "I used to have that when I was a kid!"  I'll admit that the party planner/photographer in me had hopes of using the airport as a pseudo cupcake stand, but I didn't have the heart to wrest it away from the birthday boy, so I made do with a cake stand instead.

I managed to time the party so that everyone could enjoy the shaded patio--the sun comes out at full blast on that side of the house by 3 pm; most of the party guests alternated between sitting outside and enjoying the food fresh from the grill and sitting inside under the cool breeze of the ceiling fans.  Captain Husband manned the hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, while my mom and I had prepped most of the other food earlier that morning, like fruit salad, pasta salad, spinach dip, and a veggie tray.

While the adults munched and talked, the kids kept themselves busy with Sammy's toys and the inflatable pool that we had set up just for the party (Sammy tested it out in his pajamas earlier that morning to make sure everything was up to his high standards).  I don't know what we would have done without the pool--it kept the kids happy and occupied, not to mention cool.  We let the kids run around and play for about an hour and a half and then it was time for cupcakes and cookies.

We all sang Happy Birthday to Sammy and then it was time to dig in--the cupcakes, or rather the frosting, were a huge hit with Sammy's guests.  I'm pretty sure more than a few of the cupcakes wound up scalped of their yummy buttercream frosting.

And it wouldn't be an airplane party until Sammy made his airplane cookie fly, complete with the requisite sound effects.  I think he was rather upset when I told him that the cookie was for eating, not playing, but the sugar sprinkles seemed to help change his mind.  All in all it was a great birthday party, especially considering that there were at least ten kids in attendance age six and under, and there wasn't a single horrible tantrum or melt-down to be had.  And while I may have overdone it a bit (hence my trip to the hospital on Monday), I couldn't be happier with how it all turned out and I know that Sammy had a great time on his birthday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Up, up & away: Sammy's second birthday

{Sammy's been obsessed with airplanes for about the last six months, so when it came time to choose a theme for his second birthday party, it was pretty much a no-brainer.  I decided to use the same color scheme as last year because 1. I like it and 2. I could re-use some of the party supplies and decor that I had saved from Sammy's first birthday.  The invites are actually do-it-yourself stickers that I designed and cut out; the scalloped cards were leftovers from the big wedding that Captain Husband and I started planning for but wound up never having.}

{I also designed and cut out stickers to be used as cupcake toppers and tags on the party favors.  Believe it or not, I did everything using free software like Pixlr and PicMonkey; the airplane is based on a photo that I took of an airplane that's currently "flying" over a junkyard about ten miles from our house.}

{Using this tutorial, I made a dozen airplanes from craft sticks and wooden clothespins that I spray painted in the birthday boy's colors; I then stuck them on my ubiquitous yarn wreath hanging on our front door and made a mini banner using cloud stickers that I found for 50% off at the Hobby Lobby.}

{Since Sammy had several toy planes in his collection, I used them as decorative anchors for the helium balloons that were leftovers from last year's party.  I also made a banner out of some adorable gingham fabric that I had thrifted a few months back following this tutorial.  My mom was kind enough to fold a bunch of the giant paper airplanes that I then hung throughout the house the day of the party.}

(The Happy Birthday banner is another decoration that I made leftover from last year; I used the rest of the clothespin planes to make a mobile that I hung in front of the kitchen window.  I plan to re-hang the mobile in the boys' bedroom, but for now I'm still enjoying it's cheerful colors in the kitchen.}

{It's like déjà vu all over again: I used the same vanilla and vanilla buttercream frosting recipe that I used for Sammy's party last year and I honestly think they were even better the second time around.  I had scored an airplane cookie cutter at the thrift store a few weeks ago so I (and by I, I mean my mom) made citrus sugar cookies for this party as well--they were pretty darn good, too!}

{And last but not least, the party favors--since Sammy and his friends all seem to be of the age that really enjoys coloring, I decided to make some crayon rolls following this tutorial.  You can just toss them in your diaper bag or purse--no more scrambling for loose crayons while your kid throws a fit at your local restaurant--the perfect party favor for today's toddlers.  To save you all from photo overload, I'll be sharing some of the candid photos from the party tomorrow, so be sure to stop back!}

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An unexpected turn of events

I wrote this post from the confines of a hospital bed late last night; turns out I was having contractions, and, since I still have a good six weeks or so to go, this was not a good thing (other than that, the baby and I are doing just fine).  I was given medication to stop things from progressing and then prescribed twenty-four hours in the hospital for monitoring.  My doctor should be checking in later on this morning and will hopefully be able to let me know what the next step is--I have the feeling I'm going to be put on some sort of bed rest.  Thank goodness my mom is here to help out--I don't know what Captain Husband, Sammy or I would do without her right now.  With any luck I'll be home later tonight, so I'll be able to post the photos from Sammy's birthday party for tomorrow--can't keep you guys waiting too long! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Twenty-four-month update, aka Sammy's two!

Sammy turned two on Saturday and I'm still kind of wrapping my head around the fact that I've got myself a bona fide toddler on my hands.  Sammy has his two-year wellness checkup later this week but I'm going to guess that he's about 36" tall and around 32 pounds, give or take.  Sammy's still wearing all 3T clothing but he's just about outgrown his size eight sandals.  As for teeth, he has at least one of his two-year-old molars and I think another one is starting to make its way into his mouth, as Sammy's been chewing on his fingers and drooling non-stop the past few days.

 I'm no longer able to keep up with the amount of new words he's been picking up--seriously, some days it's a dozen at a time, although a few of the more notable words stick out, like "watermelon" and "suicide" (I still have no idea what possessed Captain Husband to teach him that one).  He's also starting to talk in three- and four-word sentences and has gotten really good at adjective/noun combos.  Another new trick is singing along to the chorus of certain songs--it's pretty darn adorable when he starts dancing and singing to New Sensation by INXS.

Other stats/fun stuff: Sammy can count to fourteen (this is because we have fourteen steps between the first and second floors) and knows all of his colors and shapes.  He loves to color and paint and building puzzles are one of his favorite activities.  Sammy loves being read to and "reading" his picture books to himself.  He's still a pretty good eater although he's recently started eschewing utensils, which is kind of funny because he hates having messy hands and will ask me or CH for a napkin at least three times over the course of a meal.  Sammy seems to have gotten over his clingy phase--thank goodness--and can go from shy to rambunctious in a few seconds.  I know I may complain some times about how big of a handful he can be at times, but I don't think I could love this kid any more than I already do.  I can't wait to see what the next year has in store for all of us!

 then, she {snapped}

Friday, June 22, 2012

Short and sweet

Sammy's birthday is tomorrow and I think I've got a pretty good handle on things, but there's still a lot of cookies and cupcakes that need to be baked.  Fortunately, the cavalry arrives in the form of my mom later today, so I expect that the two of us will have things pretty well under control when push comes to shove.  After Sammy's first birthday last year I promised myself that I would never ever go that crazy planning a party, and I think I've managed to strike a happy medium this time around.  But you guys can be the judge of that next week when I share the whole kit and caboodle with you.  So in the meantime, enjoy this photo of Miss Sandy Cat in her new bed, and by her new bed I mean the vintage doll bed that I purchased to use as a photography prop but was claimed by her approximately five seconds after I opened the box in which it arrived.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why didn't I think of this sooner?

I've finally figured out the key to getting Sammy to nap--he has to be physically and/or mentally exhausted, which means his anti-napping phase has really been a problem of my own making.  So rather than turning on Pocoyo as soon he asks for it (which is taking the easy way out when I'm not quite awake at 7 am), I've been suggesting that we build some puzzles or color with chalk instead to get the ol' synapses firing.

Yesterday I decided to pull out the big guns--finger paint.  I'd bought a roll of artist's paper at Michael's the other day and had a six-pack of washable paint socked away in my craft cabinet, so I got Sammy situated at the table and let him go to it.  You might be wondering why I hadn't thought to do this sort of thing sooner and the answer really is quite simple--I didn't want to clean up the resulting mess.  But I figured I'd just have to deal with it because I'd much rather clean up paint splatter while Sammy napped than not have any sort of break at all because he was wide awake and a whining mess.  Turns out I really had nothing to worry about; my fastidious toddler preferred a brush to his fingers and only needed a reminder here and there to keep the paint on the paper.

Obviously Sammy had to sample some of the paint when he thought I wasn't looking; you have to admit, it is a rather fetching color on him.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A connoisseur of comfort

{I feel like I've been burning the candle at both ends preparing for Sammy's birthday this Saturday--holy crap, I'm going to have a two-year old in the house!--and as a result, I've been staying up late and working through Sammy's nap time just about every day this week...that is, on the few occasions when he actually deigns to go to sleep.}

{I think I need to take a page or two from Miss Sandy Cat and get serious about lounging about without a care in the world; after all, it certainly looks very relaxing.}

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pillow talk

Sammy's been going through what I hope is a short-term phase of skipping his afternoon nap.  In the past seven days, he's probably gone down for a nap only twice, and even then he fought the inevitable for nearly two hours before succumbing to sleepiness.  Normally, as long as he was entertaining himself quietly in his room during that time, I wouldn't care, but that is not the case.  The kid has turned into a one-toddler wrecking crew; in the course of what has become our typical afternoon around these parts, Sammy's managed to break the drawer under his old crib from trying to use it as a step for climbing, moved his bed from one side of the room to the other, dumped out his trash can (that was full of dirty wipes, ugh), and pulled a telephone jack completely out of the wall (granted, this one wasn't completely his doing as a closer examination of said jack revealed that it was not even close to being installed properly and probably some sort of horrible electrocution hazard).  Short of duct taping the kid to his bed, I'm completely out of ideas as to how to keep him from tearing his room apart while he's supposed to be resting. 

I had some minkee fabric left over from a previous sewing project so I thought that perhaps I could entice Sammy to sleep (or, you know, just stay in his freakin' bed for an hour or two) if I made him a super soft and comfy pillow cover out of it.  The kid loves soft stuff after all and already sleeps with approximately 20398 fuzzy blankets--even when it feels like a hundred degrees in the house.  Well, the jury's still out on whether or not Sammy's new pillow cover has made any kind of improvement in his napping behavior (although he did sleep for a whole two hours yesterday, thank goodness), although I'm now thinking I should probably make one in a body pillow size for myself because that fabric is amazingly soft and cuddly (albeit a huge pain to work with).  Any tips or tricks for getting a toddler to take his naps like a champ?  I've already removed any toys and other things that could be considered distracting and hung black-out curtains a few months back, so I'm seriously at a loss here; surely not-quite two is too young to be completely forgoing an afternoon nap, right?

Monday, June 18, 2012

What I did on my summer blogcation

The short answer?  Not much.  Not much at all.  But that would be a really super short blog post, so I'll elaborate a little bit--Captain Husband and I hired a house cleaner and I have to admit that I feel rather sheepish about the fact that we're now paying someone to clean up after us.  The main impetus for taking this step is the fact that I live in the dust and grit capital of the world with a toddler and a grown man who have the ability to create messes out of thin air; thanks to my growing belly, I'm just not able to keep up with everything like I used to.  As of right now, our house cleaner is only tackling the floors and the bathrooms twice a month, so I'm still responsible for a lot of the regular upkeep around the place, which helps ease my conscience a bit.  I'm still getting used to the idea of the whole thing and am totally guilty of cleaning up before she arrives just so she won't think we're a family of pigs, even though I'm sure she probably couldn't care less.  When I informed some of my friends about our decision to hire a house cleaner, the overall response was positive, with one person even going so far as to tell me that having someone else clean up after us would be just as beneficial, if not more, as going to couples' therapy.  And while I definitely see the benefit of splitting the housekeeping duties with another person, I still can't help but feel slightly conflicted about the whole enterprise.  On the other hand, however, my back is definitely appreciating this new arrangement and that alone is worth every penny.  Would you (or have you) hire a house cleaner?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Whip it, whip it good

It's officially summer, which means one thing here in El Paso--temperatures in the low 100s (on a good day). As a result, the thought of spending any time in the kitchen, even if it's to make something delightfully delicious, has me breaking out into a sweat.  I'm beginning to understand why outdoor grilling is so popular around these parts.  I've always had a bit of a sweet tooth and being pregnant has only exacerbated things, so you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a no-bake strawberry cheesecake recipe appropriately named "Strawberry Delight Dessert."  It had so many of my (and Sammy's) favorites--cream cheese, graham crackers, fresh strawberries and COOL WHIP Whipped Topping (which has been on my mind ever since it appeared on Mad Men a few weeks back)--plus the refrigerator does the bulk of the work, and what's not to like about that?

I mixed everything up while Sammy entertained himself with some toys in the living room for a bit--the most labor intensive part was cutting up all of the strawberries, which took all of 10 minutes to do...I probably could have done it a little faster, but I kept taking breaks to eat a strawberry slice here and there.  Once Sammy figured out what I was up to in the kitchen, he discovered the best part that comes with making anything with COOL WHIP (short of the actual dessert itself)--licking the spoon.

After a gourmet dinner of pizza (it was a long day and have I mentioned just how hot is is down here?) the Strawberry Delight was set and ready to eat.  In all actuality, it was ready before the pizza arrived and I had to exercise some serious restraint to keep myself from enjoying dessert before dinner.  I mean, just look at it--can you blame me?

It tasted just as good as it looked, but it was missing a little something something and then I had one of those d'oh moments and realized that all it needed was some COOL WHIP on top and BOOM--my everyday dessert was taken to the next level.  Even Captain Husband, who is not the world's biggest cheesecake fan, dug in for not one, but two helpings.

As for Sammy, well, I think he has himself a new favorite dessert.  He also had seconds and when I informed him that thirds were out of the question (the kid had to go to bed at some point) he spent a good five minutes licking each and every one of his fingers.

Do you have a special dessert you'd like to share? Enter COOL WHIP's Fan Dessert of the Month Contest for a chance to win $500! Simply make a COOL WHIP dessert, take a photo, and upload it here. Enter now!

Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Simple pleasures for simple minds

It's official--Sammy is more cat-like than Sandy Cat (she ignored the whole spectacle, which went on for a good fifteen minutes).  Just watch this video and see for yourself.  I'm pretty sure Sammy would just burst from sheer excitement if we got a laser pointer in the house.  I think this is a pretty good note on which to end my impromptu blog-cation, don't you?  See you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vacation, all I ever wanted

Hi everyone--I just wanted to let you all know that I'm going to take a bit of a break from blogging.  I feel as though I've been scraping the bottom of the barrel lately in regards to content and whatnot and I think I just need to take some time off and recharge my creative batteries.  I'll still try to come and visit everyone and maybe even now and then post a photo or two if my kid/cat decides to do something that's awesomely adorable.  I just didn't want to go all AWOL and have you guys worried that something had happened.  I don't know how long I'm going to be on hiatus but I'll definitely be back.  In the meantime, however, you can get your fix for all things Sammy and Sandy Cat related by following me on instagram (@bicyclebandit) or on Facebook.  Catch you on the flip side!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happiness is a Hello Kitty blanket (and leftover cake)

I was going to try and do another "Let's get real" post today, but I just couldn't get it right no matter how many times I attempted it.   So here's a cute photo of Sammy loving on his new fuzzy Hello Kitty blanket, which is actually bath wrap of some kind that my mother-in-law got me for my birthday (but was made for someone about 6" shorter than me--not that I'm all that modest, but that thing left nothing to the imagination).  In other news, Captain Husband turned 34 years young on Friday, so I baked him a cake:
It was my first time making pineapple upside down cake, but I was determined to do it, especially as CH had informed me that it was one of his favorite cakes a few years ago.  Unfortunately, due to deployments and other separations, I haven't really had the opportunity to actually make him a cake for his birthday so I thought that this would be a good way to celebrate being in the same zip code and all.  I have to admit that I cheated a bit and used a yellow cake mix rather than making the whole thing from scratch, but CH didn't seem to mind at all (here's the recipe I used if you're interested).  What's your favorite kind of cake?

 then, she {snapped}
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