A Belated Birthday Post

Almost an entire month ago, we celebrated Will's birthday with family and friends, so this post is just a bit belated, but I was really happy with how all of my decorations for our "William's Birthday" themed birthday party turned out and wanted to share them with you just in case you also want to go with a "meta" theme for your next shindig. I mean, how awesome would this be for someone who was much older with pictures from throughout their life?

I'm pretty sure I got this idea after scrolling through "first birthday decoration" ideas on Pinterest, but it could have also come from a blog. Who knows? (Seriously, does anyone know the original source? I'd love to give credit where credit is due.) In order to make the banners and skewers and thank you bags, I basically went through my phone and found as many cute pictures of William's head as I could, changed the filter to black and white, and emailed them to myself from my phone so that I could copy and paste them into Word, crop, and enlarge them. I printed them on white card stock, cut them out, and hot glued the party hats (made out of scrapbooking paper and pom poms) to the card stock and then hot glued the heads to the twine (from the dollar section at Target) for the banners, skewers for the food, and thank you bags to place all around the house. 

For some extra pizazz, I used more banners and party hats (that I also hot glued pom poms onto for some extra flair) in primary colors to finish up the decor. Jason suggested that we save all the decorations and just add some more William heads for next year, so I've packed everything in a diaper box. I might add a number one to the hats on the heads from this past year and a number two to the hats for next year. We'll see if almost two-year-old William demands a specific theme next year.

Also, shortly after realizing that he didn't really care about his cupcake, William realized that there was a hat on his head and therefore, smelled like icing for the rest of day.

How Does Your Garden Grow

Yesterday, taking advantage of the mostly-cloudy, seventy-degree day, I pruned the rose bushes while Will pushed his wagon up and down our back driveway and open and closed the gate about 3,000 times. 

I live in a house with gardens that both my mom and my grandma carefully tended for years. I've inherited lilac bushes, Moonbeam Coreopsis, Russian Sage, hydrangea, a wide variety of rose bushes, and countless other shrubs, trees, and plants. Each spring, I'm surprised when everything starts growing and blooming again despite my negligence, but this year, I have started to make an effort to tend the garden. Feeling the urge to prune and clean out the roses, I went searching in one of our sheds and found shears and thick, stiff leather gloves. Did I move those over from our other house? Were they my mom's? My grandma's? I've decided to believe that all three of our hands have filled the gloves, warming the leather until the stiffness subsides enough to wield the shears, my mom and grandma much more deftly than me. 

I'm uncertain whether my amatuer efforts will yield benefits or cause harm. Either way, I am enjoying the process, learning with each new project, and experiencing just how much work Grandma De put into creating a beautiful space for all of us to come together each summer. Every time I go out to look at the flowers with Will or notice that a different tree is in bloom, I realize just how precious her years of careful planting and tending still are to me and my family, and my heart is filled with so much love and thanks for Grandma and her legacy. A legacy of love, tender care, and pruning back in the hope of growing fuller.

Also, the other thing I inherited from Grandma is a ridiculous amount of lawn ornaments and birdhouses. I remember, one time, stopping at a gas station on a short road trip back from somewhere; eveyone else went to the bathroom or bought drinks and snacks, but Grandma picked up a new concrete lawn ornament. This is a small representative.

In a Flash

I want to remember the way that he runs (full speed) with his arms back and his chest out. The way he always turns the blower on the fire place on whenever we are hanging out down stairs. (I think he thinks it's a white noise machine.) The way he shouts, "Woah," any time he sees something new that he likes. The way his face lights up whenever he sees his Papa or his Jam. The way he touches his nose to anything soft and fluffy, not only puppies, kitties, and stuffed animals but also the Swiffer duster and Lola's bed. The way he walks over clutching Good Night, Moon and hands it up for a read through or two.

I don't want time to slow. I don't want him to stay the same age. I don't want to keep him just how he is at this very moment because each new moment is distinct and miraculous.

But I do want to remember.
Also, I would like to remember teaching him how to dribble a soccer ball......but for now, I'll just remember how fast he runs by it and how much he giggles when I hold him and run around the yard kicking and chasing the ball.

Ball Pit Fun

For a few days there, we were getting out every day to run around in the newly green grass, but yesterday was drizzly and cold, and today is sunny and colder. So instead of going to the playground, going for a walk, or kicking a ball in the front yard, we'll be heading back up to our attic playroom to work out all of our afternoon energy. 

One of my favorite toys in the playroom is our ball pit. Relatively safe for my physically active and curious boy, colorful, and versatile! What's not to love? Our ball pit is a hodge podge of different items from different places and came together over time. First, I bought some balls second hand (which is how we get most of Will's toys) from someone at work. (The balls came with a purple and pink princessy blow-up contraption that I ended up stabbing with scissors after unsuccessfully trying to inflate multiple times.) Then, my sister gave Will the blue blow-up pool for Christmas after I tried to requisition her baby pool. And just a few weeks ago, I actually invested in 100 more brand-new balls to fill up the "pit" a bit more. Will has loved to climb in and out and move all the balls around ever since he was able to crawl over to the pool, and as he has grown, we have developed some (only slightly) more organized games.

IN and OUT
Get yourself in and out, put the balls in and out, take the car/bear/block in and out. This will probably just happen when you set your child anywhere near the ball pit and with a little encouragement can become a fun game and useful in many situations like cleaning up and following directions.

Matching--Pick up a yellow ball and ask your child to pick up a yellow ball. If they pick up a ball, that's great! If they pick up a yellow ball, that's even more impressive. If it's any other color, choose another yellow ball to match yours or choose the color that they have to match them. Usually, we then hit the balls together and someone usually tries to eat one.
Sorting--Take/throw all of one color ball out of the pool or into a bucket or basket. Try the same with two colors and two buckets/baskets. And so on...

Take an object that makes noise, place it in the balls, and turn it on. Encourage your child to find it. Start easy with younger children by leaving part of the object visible and make it harder by submerging the object or hiding objects that don't make noise as your child develops object permanence and gets better and better at seeking. Eventually, you might be able to ask them to hide objects for you or other children to find. (BE CAREFUL: Will loves to throw himself into the pit, so we make sure to remove all hard objects after each play session.) 

With some pillows, couch cushions, or fold-up tunnels, make your ball pit part of an obstacle course to chase your child through (which is what Will loves) or have them follow you through.

Encourage your child to push the balls around with his or her arms and kick his or her feet through the balls. Will loves to do this in a sitting position, but you could also try on their bellies or backs. If your child is really advanced, teach them the different strokes!

That's it! Do you have any other ideas for ball pit games or activities? I'd love to hear them because I know in a few short months, we'll be escaping from the heat to play in the attic.

An Afternoon

There was no napping, but one baby was fed, two diapers were changed, and four bodies went for a walk. If kitties or cats were mentioned, Will had us covered with the "mow"s, and if puppies or dogs were mentioned (or Lola was in sight), Piper represented with the "woof woof"s. She also alerted us to any (and every) ball in the area while Will experimented with alternative pacifiers.
Oh, and coloring. There was lots of coloring... mostly by me. There were also many attempts at sharing. Would you like this pink crayon? Would you like this frog (which can also double as a pacifier)? But no actual sharing. Maybe next time. I kind of can't wait until next time.

Also, there was a little bit of crying. Totally justified crying. Crying to let it be known that putting your finger inside Will's mouth to get out the tip of the blue crayon is not appropriate.
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