A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

How to Prepare a Party Last Minute: Crunch Time! September 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 4:18 pm

You know how little kids look forwards to Christmas? And their ‘sleeps’ countdowns? I was about ten times more excited than that as we counted our way to Saturday, September 24th, 2011, Party Day! My coworkers must have thought I was the party equivalent to a ‘Stage Mom’…they even started asking me each day how the party planning was going and if we were getting excited. ‘Excited’ seems like too mild a word to describe where I was at; super amazingly pumped is more apt!

As random side-note: it was really comforting to have my coworkers ask me about the details of the party and about Vaughan in general. Those of us ‘working’ mommies know how hard it is to leave our babies at home after mat leave and being able to share funny stories or crazy mornings with others helps ease the separation a bit…but just a bit mind you!

The Friday before the party my sister arrived from Gananoque to spend the weekend with us. She was immediately drafted into party planning service and helped Andrew and I complete our final shopping/’to do’ list. She offered a voice of reason (Eg. ‘No one is going to get the ‘Honey Beer’ for Winnie The Pooh…just buy what people will actually drink) as well as much needed support and feedback for our many plans (Eg. Home-made veggie tray – cheaper, more time vs. Pre-made – expensive, saves time). So glad she was there! The plan was to divide and conquer; with Andrew taking cleaning and Vaughan duties, while Arden and I were going to shop ’til we dropped and then use our decorative skills to create a Winnie The Pooh mecca. Sound ambitious? You have no idea…

The morning of the party Arden and I woke up at 9am, showered and hit the road. After a quick Timmies we arrived at Toys ‘R Us where I continued to hunt down the elusive slide Andrew and I wanted to give Vaughan as his ‘party gift’ (yes…I admit he’s spoiled…).

I could picture what I wanted and with the help of the store’s website I’d been hunting for the short, blue and red, Little Tikes indoor/outdoor, $39.99 slide since early August. Not one to give up I’d been out to the location in London twice only to discover that they only slide they had on display would go nicely in a large yard…the red, 5 foot tall contraption however, was not going to fit into our living room, at least not unless we took everything else out…

Another bonus to having my sister around is that she has no qualms about harassing salespeople to get the skinny on their product inventory. She found Joe Salesguy and asked him if he thought they might have the smaller slide in stock. He took off and then reappeared 10 minutes later, slide in hand! I may have clapped my hands in glee…but I can’t be sure. Apparently ‘summer’ product is stored in the back during the fall, but is still available to those in the know…so a note to the savvy parent shopper: Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there! I will know for next time…

Vaughan's Slide! And his 'photobook' from Walmart featuring our fav pics from the last year! The goal was to get everyone to write something 'yearbook' style, but it didn't quite work out...good idea/poor execution.

From Toys ‘R Us to the LCBO…as previously mentioned Vaughan is 1….hence this party is also geared towards the adults who will be attending. Being a preemie, Vaughan’s social circle is a little light on kids his own age. We never went to playground, gym class or swimming lessons in order to avoid the cloud of cold and flu bugs that tends to follow infants and toddlers around. We figured that a bunch of adults at a kids party was going to require some liquid sustenance but in keeping with the theme, they were Winnie The Pooh adult beverages. We decided against the Honey Beer (although I still think it would have been cute) but we did go with Tequila Sunrises (Winnie The Pooh…red and ‘yellow’) and then we mixed Vodka with Orange Pop (Tigger) or Grape Pop (Eeyore) and used black liquorice as stir sticks (Their tails!!).

A selection of Winnie The Pooh adult beverages! Beer, Juice and Pop in the fridge and space for the cake in the middle...but you get the idea!

We went from the LCBO to the grocery store to stock up on BBQ food essentials and then headed to the highlight of my shopping day (besides the slide of course…) The Party Store!!!!!! I can’t remember ever being a store like this before but you can bet your sweet bippy I will be heading there again! It has everything you could ever want when throwing any type of party…Kid’s party? Check. Adult party? Check! Bachelorette, etc? Check! Check! Amazing….

Winnie The Pooh Centrepiece!

I found the 1st birthday section and immediately returned to the entrance for a basket. My sister must have thought she was trying to hold back a natural disaster…I needed everything! I did listen to some reason though and left with only a high chair decorating kit including a drop cloth (Smash Cake Protection), streamers, a 1st Birthday Boy bib, Winnie centerpiece, 1stBirthday plates and napkins, and the most amazing Winnie The Pooh birthday balloon bouquet! I’m talking huge…this Winnie is about 5 times the size of the birthday boy…he’s even holding his own balloon… Vaughan was going to love it!

Results of the High Chair Kit including Smash Cake dropcloth

At the checkout my sister did start to laugh…I was caught up in my notebook, purchases and trying to see if they’d finished the balloons but did ask her what was making her giggle…apparently the couple in front of us were also planning a 1stbirthday party. They were carrying a notebook, basket of supplies and were awaiting not one, not two, but THREE balloon bouquets. See? I’m not the craziest of them all…just mighty close!

'Lifesize' Winnie The Pooh Balloon!

After a slight balloon mishap (one deflated as we were leaving the store but was quickly replaced) we hit up Walmart and Dollarama for a few last minute odds and ends and headed home for lunch and decorating! We only had 2 hrs to get all of this done and Andrew was still in his PJs mopping and vacuuming the house…crunch time! Luckily Vaughan napped like a champ, and through a solid team effort we got everything cleaned and decorated, everyone fed, and actually had a few minutes to sit and relax before Vaughan’s guests arrived. Andrew was even able put together a last minute slide show of our favourite pictures of Vaughan taken throughout the year to run on our TV in the background…so adorable!

Living Room featuring Andrew's slideshow, and the elusive slide...

After the chaos of the morning, when all was decorated and ready there was nothing to do but wait! I couldn’t wait for the party to get going…and sample one of those drinks!


Happy Birthday Vaughan! Round One… September 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 11:17 pm

After starting work on Sept 5th time seemed to fly by! Gone were the days of sleepy morning cuddles with V, blogging over afternoon naps and leisurely evenings spent with my new husband. We ushered in an era of tag-teamed mornings getting all three of us up and out the door, fed, dressed and on time for work, rushed suppers before tutoring and falling into bed exhausted less than an hour after our 1 year old son…what a change! While balancing all of this we celebrated V’s special 1st birthday not once but twice!

On his actual birthday we woke him up singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and gave him his favourite foods for breakfast (avocado and yogurt….yummy!) before dropping him off with his Aunt and heading to work. My parents and grandmother drove down from NOTL to pick him up and show him off to various family members before taking us out for dinner in the evening. We capped off his busy day with a Winnie The Pooh ice cream cake from DQ and some present opening!

Playing with Great Aunt Shirley. Also a good pic to show how small he still is at 12 months!

Andrew and I wanted to get him some ‘active’ toys for his birthday since he’s such a ‘go-er’. We decided on a ball pit and it went over well…just not in the traditional sense. The cat loves to play in it…Vaughan likes to pull the balls out, throw them around the living room and then try to fit them into his mouth…I maintain that my nightly toy roundup in the living room is good exercise and my ‘reps’ were just increased once we set this toy up!

About to try snacking on one of the balls.

We also got him a Mickey Mouse doll that sings his favourite song from the Micky Mouse Clubhouse TV show…I won’t talk about it too much because if you have kids you probably already know the ‘Hot Dog Dance’ and if you don’t….well count yourself lucky! It definitely gets stuck in your brain…and I’ve often caught myself singing it to myself….embarrassing!

What was really interesting to see was how Vaughan reacted to gifts, the toys, the cake and the party. Vaughan was more interested in the wrapping paper and boxes than the toys at first but definitely has started to engage more with things and he now tries to figure out how they work. He has figured out how to press on Mickey’s tummy to get him to sing and he can finally maneuver himself in and out of his ball crawl without getting stuck halfway. Although the halfway thing was very funny for Mommy and Daddy…frustrating for V…

He absolutely loved the ice cream cake! I’ve never seen this kid so excited to eat anything in his life. Anyone who’s been with us along Vaughan’s journey knows that we’ve had a long battle with him, food and gaining weight. He does like to eat but he has a very small appetite (at 12 months he eats about 5-4 oz bottles a day and 6 oz of solid food over three meals) and has a very high metabolism. We have had to fortify every meal he eats because, even for his corrected age, he’s in the 2nd percentile. That essentially means that for every 100 babies born at his ‘corrected’ due date (when he was actually due, not when he was born) there are only 2 smaller than him! Anyways, back to the cake, he had a few bites of ‘his’/Daddy’s piece and then we set him loose on the floor. At this point he crawled between Grandma, Mommy and Daddy mooching bites of cake from anyone who would give him any. He also tried full on stealing bowls of cake…determined little fellow! I’m so glad that this cake was such a hit too…now if only he got that excited about his oatmeal or carrots!! Mommies can always dream I guess….

Yummy ice cream cake!

We got lots of pictures including the traditional ‘baby crying in the birthday hat’ one to embarrass him with at his high school graduation or wedding some day. Vaughan was partied out and tired by the end of the day but seemed to really enjoy himself and all of the attention he got on his special day. Andrew and I took this as a good sign that he’d really enjoy his ‘big’ party later in the month and thus with a week and a half to go we started to work out the final details for our 1st birthday extravaganza!

Future blackmail material...


Party Mama: To the Tune of the Slice TV Show… September 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 11:36 pm

Since heading back to work 3 weeks ago I’ve had good intentions about fitting in some blogging, but work and life have had other plans! Since I don’t have as much time as I used to I’m probably going to be a little more ‘all over the place’ and write down whatever hits me at the time! At the same time they will all still be Baby V related since he’s the center of our universe.

This past weekend was one of our latest Rites of Passage as new parents. A 1st Birthday Party!! And with V’s start…where we weren’t even sure we’d get to this big milestone…we went all out! My sister delightfully applied the phrase ‘Party Mama’ to me as I was standing at the cash register in a party supply store, with my notebook, arms loaded with supplies, waiting for our balloon bouquet to be finished. I wear this label with pride! The planning for this shindig started about mid August, once wedding festivities had wrapped up (Oh yeah…we also got married this year…new parents and newlyweds…best year of my life!). And let me tell you I was much more involved in V’s first birthday party celebrations than I was in my own wedding. Andrew and I are laid back people and our wedding reflected that…but we’re no where close to laid back when it comes to our little miracle!

I picked the theme, “Winnie The Pooh”, since Vaughan is obsessed with anything featuring that classic Disney character. He’s had his Pooh Bear layette since he was a week old in his isolette in the NICU and they’re still inseparable. It just fit and we figured we could run with it from there. Now I’m not crazy, I realize that he will not remember this party at all, but I figured it would be a great time for family and friends to come together and celebrate this big milestone with him, and help Andrew and I celebrate surviving our first adventurous year as new parents! We definitely wanted it to be kid friendly but I also decided that it was going to be more ‘adult’ geared. We planned to have BBQ and cake with a drop-in atmosphere and also include a bar! We actually brainstormed Winnie The Pooh adult beverages…so wrong and so right at the same time.

Andrew is incredibly talented with computers and graphic design so I had him take charge of the invitations at the beginning of Sept. He made the most adorable card with a Winnie the Pooh background and superimposed on that is a picture of newborn V and Pooh Bear and then a newer picture with the same toy showing how much he’s grown! He emailed me the invite from work and I have to admit I got a little teary when I saw how far our little man had grown! We printed out the invites at Walmart (I love the Photocenter!) and mailed them off, giving people plenty of time to reply back!

I also became obsessed with the type of cake I wanted for this epic birthday party. We invited about 40 people and I knew that I didn’t want to get a slab cake from Loblaws. Also since I possess little to no decorative baking talent myself, I thought ordering would be the way to go. Luckily there appears to be a new fad in independent cake bakers (Thank you Cake Boss!) and through a recommendation I was able to order a fabulous confection that would be delivered on the day! Now when I was starting my baker search I did some research through friends on Facebook to see if they’d had any good experiences with businesses around London. I have several friends who have had babies in the past year and this birthday extravaganza appears to be a popular pastime. During the course of my correspondance with the baker we decided on a 3 tiered number featuring our favourite character, Pooh Bear as well as a personalized ‘smash’ cake for V.

Now I’d never heard of a ‘smash’ cake before last year but once I did the idea really appealed to me. It is a small, personal cake for the birthday boy or girl to go to town on. An adorable new fad and I couldn’t wait to see our tiny boy covered in ooey-gooey cake destruction. I understand that some of you might be thinking I’m a crazy lady so I feel like I should explain where we’re coming fromon this decision. As previously mentioned and highlighted in earlier blog posts, we weren’t sure we’d be bringing home a baby, let alone be lucky enough to enjoy celebrating a 1st birthday! When you have a preemie you’re inundated with the negatives; Don’t take the baby outside during cold/flu season, RSV could put them back in the NICU, Be aware of possible hearing, vision, developmental challenges, Weight concerns, etc. Things that normal healthy babies can shake off could earn your child a repeat visit to the Children’s ICU for an extended stay, permanent damage, or loss of life. When it seems like you’re facing insurmountable challenges you take so much pride and joy in the milestones. It is important to celebrate those positives or you’d be too wrapped up in the ‘maybes’ or ‘what ifs’ to take the time to really enjoy your miracle! Andrew and I decided that we never wanted to regret NOT doing something for, to or with Vaughan and we took that attitude into the first birthday celebrations. So for those of you naysayers (and yes I’ve heard from a few!) who maintain that a 1st birthday fiesta is largely a money sink because the baby won’t remember, I say “Good for you, that is a very practical way to think of it, BUT this is our son, our celebration and we’re doing it our way!” So…I got the smash cake! A piece of cake for a baby is fun…but imagine the mess and excitement of a whole cake…I could barely contain my excitement!

Now here is where I dropped my ‘Party Mama’ ball a bit…after ordering the cake(s), sending out the invites and outlining our general ideas, Andrew and I sat back and waited for the date to arrive. We greatly underestimated how much less time we’d have for planning and preparation once I started back to work! Stay tuned for the frantic last minute preparations…