Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sammy de Mayo! A 1st Birthday Fiesta

Well, Sam's 1st birthday was a smashing success! Other than a few minor mishaps, like ordering WAY too much food (we'll be eating carne asada tacos for months to come), forgetting to set up the bubble machine, and forgetting to crack open the pinata, everything went perfectly. I can't believe how much planning went into this party! Like I told some of my friends, I seriously felt like I was planning another wedding. I had a caterer, favors, invites, and even a color scheme. My entire office was full of hot pink and orange decorations. It was a lot of work, but it was so much fun!

Since Sam missed being born on Cinco de Mayo by less than 4 hours, we figured we'd stick with the fiesta theme anyway, calling it "Sammy de Mayo" instead. This may be a theme she revisits on her 21st birthday...

So, where to begin? I started my party research on Google, and found a few pages with great Cinco de Mayo party ideas. I came up with a list of ideas, and started putting things together. My first purchase? Papel picado, or paper flags, purchased from It said there were 34', but I'm pretty sure I had enough flags to reach all the way to the moon and back. Since there are 6 fun colors in the flags, I chose two as my main party colors - hot pink and orange - with the other 4 colors as accents. I decided to make my own tissue paper flowers, so again I went to and picked up a couple large packs of tissue paper. Bulk Hot Pink Tissue Paper 20" x 30" - 48 Sheets

For the place settings, Party City was having a BOGO sale, so I picked up a bunch of plates, cups, tablecloths, silverware and napkins (in hot pink and orange, of course!).
In keeping with the fiesta theme, we had a taco bar catered by Primo, the market down the street from our house. It was SO good - I highly recommend them! Everyone raved about how delicious it was.

Since we had splurged on the food, I made the cupcakes myself, all 7 1/2 dozen of them! I did a couple of test runs beforehand, sampling 5 different cupcake recipes and 3 different frosting recipes. (Some of my wonderful friends ate 3-4 cupcakes each, just so they could give me their honest vote.) I ended up going with White Velvet cupcakes (I modified the recipe from a Pink Velvet recipe...I think it will have to remain my secret ;)) and my famous Vanilla Bean Icing (using just vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean). I made one batch of cupcakes two nights before, and two batches the morning before the party. I froze them all until the morning of the party, when I made all the icing and frosted them all. I had purchased cupcake liners in all 6 of our party colors from The Baker's Confections on Etsy. (They seriously have some awesome cupcake liners...I highly recommend them!!!) I was also the lucky recipient of a cupcake stand that has been passed down through my mommy group. I covered it with hot pink fabric and trimmed it with orange ribbon. Each cupcake was decorated with pink or orange sugar sprinkles.

My friend Cat at The Cake Boutique made an adorable hot pink smash cake for Sam to dig into. It turned out so cute in our party colors, and Sam did a great job of destroying it and turning her face bright pink. (It tasted really good, too!)

For beverages, I made homemade aguas frescas: horchata (a cinnamon rice drink) and agua de sandia (watermelon water), and we also had water and Mexican beers. (The margaritas never even got mixed!)

For the party favors I wanted to get custom sugar cookies, so when I saw a daily deal on for Country Cupboard Cookies, I jumped on it! I ended up ordering number 1 cookies frosted in hot pink and orange and decorated with confetti and polka dots in the rest of our party colors. They turned out super cute! Each cookie was packaged in an individually sealed bag, but I wanted to dress them up a little bit more. I bought a bunch of neon maracas from Amazon, and paired one up with each cookie. I bought little pink bags at Party City, put the cookies in them, and used hot pink and orange ribbons to tie the maracas onto the bags, along with some little favor tags that I designed.

And finally....the invites! I had been itching to use my creative skills again, and I really wanted to come up with something super cute and memorable. I always love photo invites, so I asked my good friend Michelle of Bayer Photos to do a pre-birthday photo shoot for us. She got some amazing shots of Sam and I used one of my favorites for the invite. Since the party was a fiesta theme, I used a little maraca illustration to tie together all the printed materials for the party. Along with the invites and favor tags, I also printed out labels for the food and thank you notes!
For entertainment we had a ball pit, a water table, a play tent, and a couple of tunnels. All 20 kids were fully entertained! We had such a great time with all our family and friends. I think the hardest thing about party planning was narrowing down the guest list. We have met so many wonderful people since we have lived here in San Diego, and I wanted to invite them all! Unfortunately our house isn't exactly huge, so we had to set a limit at some point. Next year we may end up renting a community center instead. (Oh wait...I am NOT planning to throw a shindig this big again until she turns 13...or 16...or... we'll just have to see.) Anyway, a special thanks to everyone who contributed by lending us party supplies and/or helping with all the setup. I couldn't have done it alone!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Twelve Month Doctor Visit

Today was Sam's 12-month checkup. She did as well as can be expected! She did a little better than she did at her past few doctor visits. She was running around and charming everyone in the doctor office until it came time to measure her and weigh her. As she did the past couple of times, she threw a fit. But, she got over it soon enough! Here are her latest stats:

Height: 29 1/2" - 65%
Weight: 20lb  - 30%
Head Circumference: 45cm - 50%

My baby has gone from a tall girl to a little shrimp! I am honestly not surprised though...from the start I had a feeling we were going to have a small fry, since neither of us come from big stock. And in the past few months, I really didn't feel like she was getting any taller or heavier! Since her 9-month checkup, she has gotten 1/2" taller and 1 ounce heavier. Her head grew one centimeter. Sam has actually become the petite little thing that she has looked like all along!

Nothing to worry about though, it's common at 12 months for babies to slow way down on the growth, especially when they become mobile. Sammy is constantly running and burning off fat, and she's so busy learning and having fun that she doesn't always eat a lot. (Unless we are having spaghetti.) Otherwise, she is perfectly healthy!

Sam got a few vaccinations and was VERY pissed off. She cried for a while, but as usual, she survived. The doctor said that she should probably be drinking whole milk instead of 2% (that's what I get for going off information I read online...) but since she only drinks about a cup a day (she still nurses the rest of the time) it's not really a big deal. Dr. Wood confirmed what I've intended to do...cut back one nursing a day until she's weaned. Easier said than done, especially when you have a fussy, teething baby! I still intend to do it though. Wish me luck...

Next checkup? 15 months! August will be here before we know it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Twelve Months

Dear Samantha,

It's hard to believe that you are already a whole year old! This has been such an amazing year, watching you learn and grow at such an incredible pace. This past month has been a crazy one with you. You have learned so much so fast, and transformed almost overnight from a baby into a toddler.

You have perfected your walking skills, and now you are pretty much RUNNING everywhere you go. After just a couple weeks of walking, you figured out how to walk with your arms down at your side instead of up in the air for balance. You know how to go up and down the step to the backyard, and you somehow even know how to climb stairs at other people's houses.

You are really working on your words now. You have at least 8 words, including Mom, Dad, cat, kitty, dog, Dexter, Chloe, ball, and balloon. You definitely understand sentences, when we ask you to do something, most of the time, you respond appropriately. Right around 11 months, you and Daddy were playing, and you kicked him. Daddy asked you "Did you kick Daddy on purpose?" You clearly responded with "No." Hopefully you were telling the truth! Daddy was very excited to hear his baby girl talk to him! You still love trying to charm people with your cuteness when we are out in public. You give them the cute face, and if they look at you, you wave at them. 95% of the time, you succeed in getting everyone's attention!

Your favorite toys still seem to be balls. For your birthday you got another big ball and a ball pit full of balls! You love to carry around a big ball that is almost as big as you. Most of the time you don't really play with toys, you'd rather just walk and walk and walk, but when you do play, we can see that you are really starting to figure things out. You can put a smaller toy into a bigger one, and take it back out. You like to share, although you don't always want to give up the object you are sharing! You are very good at sharing food with Mom and Dad.

Another big change we are noticing is your attitude. Now that you are 1, it seems like almost overnight you have decided to show us your independent spirit. You whine and fuss if you don't get your way. You are VERY clingy, especially with Mommy, and if you don't get picked up and carried as soon as you start fussing for it, you start throwing a tantrum. It's hard for Mommy to get used to the idea that sometimes she has to let you get over things on your own now instead of rushing to meet your every need.

This month you have had a rough time with teething. Your two top teeth finally came through, and boy were they more painful than the bottom two were! You had just started sleeping through the night and napping like a champ, when down came those teeth. Once again, we were all up every hour all night, every night. And naps? Forget about it. Once the first one broke through, we had a few great days of happy baby again. And then came the second top tooth! Thankfully this one didn't last as long, and we just had a cranky, feverish baby for a couple of days. We are still working back up to sleeping through the night, but thankfully your naps are going great again! It sounds like the attitude and the teething are all part of having a toddler, so hopefully the 3 of us will figure out how to get through it without driving each other nuts!

Your Grammy, Pappy, NanaJo, Uncle Ben, and Aunt Brittany all came out to visit you for your first birthday. You were shy for about 5 minutes, and then you started soaking up all the attention, showing off your walking skills and making cute faces. Tomorrow we are having a party for you with even more of your family and friends! This past month and year have been so amazing. I can't wait to see how much you grow in your second year!

I love you SOOOOO much,