Posts Tagged ‘party’

San Francisco Whirlwind

Friday, October 14th, 2016

This post is going to be long and rambling but also full of pictures because I currently have 30 free minutes and who knows when that will happen again, so I’m just doing this all at once.

We survived flying to California with 4 kids! A 5 week old who basically just eats and sleeps is a very easy traveler. School-age kids who whine until you buy them in-flight entertainment are slightly more difficult but still manageable. A 2-year-old is awful. He only slept on the way home after hours of rolling around and crying. Ok, it wasn’t hours. But it felt like hours to his two parents who were desperate to get him to be quiet so we could nap for at least a few minutes.

I had been really worried about the logistics of our travel, but it worked out well. We brought our Joovy Caboose stroller and both car seats to the airport, along with a Tula baby carrier and a babywearing wrap. After we parked, we loaded everything we could onto the stroller, I wore Linc on my back and we had the kids pull our rolling carry on. At the check-in counter, we checked two big suitcases and Linc’s car seat in a car seat bag. At the gate we checked the stroller and Finnegan’s car seat, so I wore him in the wrap and E wore Linc. On the plane itself, we each had a personal item, I ahad the diaper bag and E had the rolling carry-on with all our wedding clothes. It all worked in reverse in San Francisco perfectly. If we hadn’t been flying direct, we would have also gate checked Linc’s car seat (I was very worried they might lose it).

I won’t tell  you about the bathroom incident on the plane ride, but let’s just say I recommend packing at least an extra set of underpants (if not a whole extra change of clothes) for EVERY child.

For our stay, my parents rented a house from Home Away or Air BnB or one of those places, so our family could all stay together. It was the 6 of us, my mom and dad, my brother, my grandmother and my uncle. A house was SO much nicer than a hotel for a lot of reasons. The big kids had their own room, there was a general area we could all congregate to watch TV or have snacks, we kept the fridge stocked with milk and Diet Coke, and when Finn cried in the middle of the night there was space to take him so he didn’t wake EVERYONE up. I will definitely look for houses vs hotels for any future family travel.

On Friday morning, we had some free time before the wedding obligations and since everyone was on East Coast time we were awake and ready to explore by 8 am. Our first stop was Battery Spencer, an old fort overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. I needed to readjust my expectations of “old” for the West Coast – in Connecticut, 1700’s is old. Battery Spencer was built around 1900, so just slightly old. The actual fort wasn’t impressive but the views of the bridge were AMAZING. It was easy to find, an easy walk from the parking area, and totally doable both with the kids and the stroller.














After our visit to the fort, we took a very very narrow, very very very VERY windy road through the hills down to Muir Woods. It’s a really popular National Park with a remarkably small parking lot, so we parked in the second overflow lot. Since none of our group had been there before – and there was no cell phone service in the valley – we didn’t know if it was going to be stroller-friendly or not. So I let the kids go ahead with my parents and E hung out with me while I fed and changed Baby Finn, then wrapped him up on my chest so we could go stroller-free. For the record, the main path is a very wide, well-tended boardwalk, so the stroller would have been fine. There are lots and lots of trails but if you do the main one you never have to really hike at all. It took ages to find the rest of my family because our phones only worked half a dozen times in 2 hours, but eventually we met up again.

It was amazingly beautiful and the weather was perfect – nice and cool and quiet. I suspect it’s like that a lot down in the woods. I would very much like to go back some time without so many kids so we can do a full hike up the mountain (hill?) and down to the beach. I have major regrets that we never made it to a beach in California.

P.S. The National Parks offer a year-long pass for active duty military that lets them (plus 3 dependents) in for free. At Muir Woods, kids under 15 were also free. They gave E the card right at the register, no planning ahead needed, so we enjoyed our day for zero dollars.















I told Caroline this was the area where she could say anything she wanted and she said she wanted ice cream for lunch.

The rest of Friday was the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. I’ll spare you too many family photos, but the location (the groom’s parents’ newly renovated smart house) was so beautiful.



They had these instant Fujifilm cameras around for guests to take photos. It was a great idea, except for all the photos the kids wasted (and the ones I wasted. Backlight does not mix with instant photos).




At about 6:30 pm I made the call that we were done. Taking my kids at their best to a fancy restaurant is tough. Taking my kids who were still on East Coast time after 5 hours of running around is impossible. Evenings are Finn’s fussy time too, so I was at the end of my rope, patience-wise. I felt like kind of a jerk skipping the dinner when I was the maid of honor but I am 100% sure everyone enjoyed themselves a lot more without us there.

And then Saturday was wedding day! I was not the wedding photographer. I wish I had been, but only if someone else had been maid of honor and some other someone else had watched all of my kids all day, because there were so many beautiful details to photograph (not to mention the bride!!) and I didn’t get any of them because I was busy being IN the wedding. I’m just super jealous someone gets this gorgeousness in their portfolio and I only have a handful of pictures to document it.

















This is my brother, who has a promising career in leaning casually.





The catering was actually done by someone we went to high school with, so in my head she’s 15 years old and performing in The Wiz with me. But it was INCREDIBLE. The best food I’ve had in years.




The day after the wedding, the bride and groom hosted a brunch with lots of delicious food at Mountain Lake Park in the city. They even picked up In-n-Out burgers for us (although, I’m not gonna lie, Five Guys is still my true burger love). The kids had a wonderful time running around and tiring themselves out. The California trees were great for climbing and we found a pre-made fort slash fairy house in one of the groves. I’m definitely dreaming of moving to San Francisco and selling my soul to afford an apartment that backs up to that park. I might even bring one or two of my kids.














While I made them pose for this photo, literally every other person at the picnic started asking them SO WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE KIDS LOOK HOW CUTE YOU LOOK AS A LITTLE FAMILY I BET THAT IS WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE EVEN GOING TO LOOK LIKE???!?!?!?! Apologies to you both, guys. Please remember I said NOTHING about you having kids at the wedding or during my speech.

And then we said goodbye to San Francisco.


The last known photo of Everest. We can’t find him now, so I think he got left at those chairs during the shuffle to get everyone and everything on the plane. I think I’m more upset than Lincoln was.






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My Week(299) in iPhone Photos

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

It’s only Sunday and I’m getting this done! Because it is too hot to do anything besides sit very still!



That looks safe


Middle of nowhere


Apparently, some of my relatives are buried at this obscure graveyard in Ohio (that’s my maiden name)



Waking up at the lake means 8 am swim call


Books books books


Future captain



The lake has a menu


My baby is on that tube


Chips are very exciting



Everyone loves the swim platform


I guess that’s fair


He likes the boat a lot more than this face implies



Tired, hot, filthy children are finally home


That “mild” sunburn hurts A LOT more than it looks


I taught them how to send FB messages



Back at our own lake


Recital in two weeks!


Catching Pokemon from our front porch



Caroline the Bond Villian


Camp food!


The birthday boy was not in the mood for pictures

All the kids had a great time at Linc’s party and no one died of heat stroke. This week is going to be busy with making up appointments and commitments we rescheduled when we went out of town, plus it’s my last busy week of photo sessions before I start telling people I’m too pregnant. I mean, I’m ALREADY too pregnant, but I still like working. I’m going to “take it easy” from now until the end of August (which will more likely be the middle of September, since I always have boy babies late). It will be easier to take it easy once it is not 95 degrees every day. When can someone work on that?

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Surprise! Twins!! Baby Shower!!!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Last week I helped throw a surprise twins baby shower. The party was a surprise I mean, not the twins. Well, the twins WERE a surprise, but they aren’t now. Now we all are very aware that my friend Steph is having identical twin girls sometime in the very near future. We are very, very excited for her.

One of my co-hosts found out from Steph she was really attached to the colors yellow and purple for the girls, so that was the theme we ran with. I hope she REALLY loves those colors because when you tell someone the theme is purple and yellow you end up with nothing but purple and yellow gifts. I’ve decided that to fit the theme she has to name them Violet and Marigold, but strangely Steph thinks she should “talk to her husband” and “let him help decide”. It makes no sense to me, but whatever. I’m fairly confident Vi and Mari will look beautiful in their purple and yellow outfits.

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I filled in a few inexpensive bouquets from a local flower shop (McKenna’s, I highly recommend them!) with yellow pinwheels from Oriental Trading.

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Diaper cake made with love by my co-host’s 2nd grade daughter.

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Rainbow circle bum pants! Hanging up the baby clothes as part of the decor was a great idea I stole from Pinterest (like most of my great ideas).

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Lemonade and champagne, because what else could you possibly want at a baby shower??

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Yarn mobile I made (just like the ribbon mobile I made for Caroline’s nursery)

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Lemon buttermilk petit fours (adapted from this recipe)

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Popcorn balls (don’t they look like hydrangeas?) These were a really big hit with the big-sister-to-be.

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Juice for toddlers, because there were a LOT of toddlers.

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Cream cheese and bagels from Poppy & Rye here in town. That herb cream cheese might be my favorite food on the whole planet.

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Most of the food was guest provided which meant there wasn’t much for me to do at all (besides eat way too much sugar). New babies are always such a joy and since the youngest baby in our friend group just started walking – despite our best efforts – we could use some teeny tinies around here.



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My Week(273) in iPhone Photos

Monday, January 25th, 2016

I don’t know, guys. My iPhone photos are getting worse and worse and I’m not sure this is even a thing worth posting anymore. I only do it because it seems like such a shame to quit now – I have every day of our lives since I was pregnant with CAROLINE documents in iPhone photos. But they’re not good photos. And I should really push myself to post actual content on the blog if I’m going to bother to blog at all, instead of just doing this once a week. I’m conflicted.







I am unable to stop myself from decorating for a party almost a week early



Aspirational spring dress purchasing


Snow angels! FINALLY!





I bought my mom fish like these at a craft fair this summer. These are at Target.




Important party shopping: sugar, flowers, lemons



Tiny reader


Nappy time


Caroline is being supportive of Daddy’s workout



It is still Christmas at the florist


They both thought this was hilarious


Making caramel for the popcorn balls



Linc and friends enjoyed the party food


We ate kind of a lot of baked goods


I TOTALLY forgot piano, but our teacher let us come late



Movies and house-trashing because…


…this was outside


She has given up on life because she can’t go out and build a snowman in a blizzard

We did not get the same giant storm that my parents did down in DC, but we got a few inches. The weather the rest of this week is supposed to be surprisingly warm, which means all that snow will melt and things will be boring and brown again. But it ALSO means we won’t have to sell any kidneys to afford oil to heat the house, so it’s a toss-up really. I’m still trying to find our floors after the combination of party-blizzard-snow day, because the kids seriously just destroyed EVERYTHING. It’s hard to find motivation when they’re just going to destroy stuff again.

I’ve already reached DESPONDENCE and it’s not even February. Send all the sunshine and salted caramel ice cream immediately.

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Caroline’s Nutcracker Birthday Party

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Welcome to Caroline’s Nutcracker Birthday Party! As always, this will be super long and picture heavy.

This is Caroline’s 5th birthday, which means it’s her last big everyone is invited party before we switch to family/special day/maybe a couple friends/sleepover parties. I can’t say she’s quite accepted that fact, since she told me today she wants an ice skating party next year, but I’m pretty happy I only have one kid to plan huge parties for (at least for the foreseeable future). I really do love throwing these huge birthday events but fall is my busy season for photography so doing a birthday on top of that is a tiny bit overwhelming.

With a December birthday and a daughter who has been in ballet for several years already, I’ve been dreaming of a Nutcracker Birthday party for a while. For those who haven’t been reading my blog for 5+ years, her previous themes were: Winter Sparkle Snowflake, Woodland FairyPrincess and Mermaid. They were all really fun, but this year was the best.

I’m going to put in a page break after a couple of pictures because I just looked and I have 177 edited photos from the party and I’m going to have a hard time cutting that down to an acceptable number. I’ll round up sources at the end and link recipes in the food section, although a lot of the recipes are stuff I’ve linked for every party since her first (because I cannot have a party without thumbprint cookies).

Carolines Nutcracker Birthday Party

Despite the fact that it is December in Connecticut, the weather was in the mid-60’s for her party. I would have done a lot more outside decorating if I had known the kids were going to spend ALL DAY in the yard or on the porch, but at least I got lights on the house and a couple of Nutcrackers for the planter boxes. I found those at Lowe’s. The sled and wreath are just my standard Christmas decor. It’s really nice that the first act of The Nutcracker is just a Christmas party, so all my decorations were already on theme.


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I made the wreath using Jill’s tulle wreath tutorial. Super easy and super cute, although glitter tulle is the fabric of the devil.

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PINK five balloon from Party City.

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Candy cane garland from Oriental Trading, who was kind enough to give me a party budget and send me some of my decor for free because they’re awesome and I am a very, very loyal customer.

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Little house from Ikea, circa 2012

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Christmas card holder made by my very talented husband. You can see a bunch of Caroline’s invites I used to fill it in until it gets full of holiday cards from friends. Those invites were done by the AMAZING Becca of Jumping Jax Designs. I cannot recommend her more highly – she is creative, talented and so fun. She turned my very vague ideas (“I’m doing sort of all the colors, but girly? And a little vintage? But not too cartoony, still classy. But good for a 5 year old?”) into the CUTEST invitations. The ballerina in the middle has red hair and glasses. I mean.


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