Sunday, August 30, 2015

Five Years {Riley}

My Riley-bean,

Today you turn 5. One whole hand! How did that happen? It seems like just yesterday that Daddy and I brought you home from the hospital. You were brand new, and we had no idea what to do. But we figured it out as we went along, the three of us together.

Now we are a little family of four, and I love how you are a part of that. You are silly and goofy, smart and thoughtful, moody and mopey, sweet and loving. You are all of those things. They are what make you Riley-bean. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sure, sometimes I wish you wouldn’t hit your brother or get upset over the littlest thing or laugh when you should say you’re sorry. But I know you’re trying to figure out who you are and how to handle things. Newsflash, buddy, I’m still trying to figure the same thing out myself. You never stop learning. I learn from you all the time. Thank you for that.

You are so headstrong and stubborn. I know I’ve said that many times before, but it’s SO true. You are so steadfast in what you believe is right and you will argue your point adamantly. Even if you’re wrong, which you don’t like to admit.

You had many meltdowns over the summer when you didn’t do the right thing. That was tough for me to watch. I hate seeing you cry that hard over something so trivial. But I know it doesn’t feel trivial to you at the time. I need to try harder to remember that in the moment and treat you with the compassion that you deserve. You’re just trying to figure out all of your emotions. I get that. All I ask is that you try to let Joy drive more than Anger. Okay?

I love watching you get so excited about something or laugh at something your brother does or be amazed at something you see on tv. Seeing your smile and wonder and joy makes me so happy.

You love your family, and you love playing with your friends, especially Claire. The relationship the two of you have is so fun to watch. I hope it continues for a long, long time.

You love, Love, LOVE Legos and Star Wars right now. Your imagination with your Legos astounds me.

You love music and will often dance around like the crazy wonk potatoes that you are. I love watching you be silly and have a good time when a song you like comes on.

You don’t like going to school, and I hope that changes. Because you are SO smart. School is where you will learn so many things, not only from books but from your teachers and from your friends. Sorry, dude; you can’t always stay at home and play with your Legos.

I always ask you to be good, to be nice, and to be kind. I know it’s hard sometimes, but I can’t tell you how important it is to treat others the way you want to be treated. You will go so far in life if you are kind. And you are kind. Remember that. Even when you’re playing bad guys.

Four was a bit of a hard year for you. We had some trying moments, but we had a lot of fun, too. And we made some wonderful memories. Now I am excited to see what your fifth year brings. Daddy and I will be right there with you, and know that we’re always here for you if you need us. Let’s do this!

Happy, Happy Birthday, my sweet Riley-bean. Guess what? I love you. All the time.

Love, Mama


Friday, August 28, 2015

Come to the Dark Side…There Will Be Cake {Riley’s 5th Birthday}

Riley came bounding downstairs the morning of his party at exactly 6am. He was so darned excited. I wish I had taken a picture of his face when he saw his cake for the first time; his entire face lit up in a huge smile.




Kenny and I got a few last minute things taken care of, the bounce house crew arrived to set up the waterslide, and before we knew it, the party was getting started. We snapped a few quick family pics before too many people showed up, and then Riley was off and running.



The inside of the house looked really great (if I do say so myself…..I even had the Star Wars soundtrack playing on Spotify), but the majority of the party took place outside. The kids (21 of them total!) had a blast on the waterslide. Rory may have enjoyed it the most, though. He went over and over and over and over and over again.






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After the kids had played for about an hour, we got them all out of the pool and inside for cake. Suddenly the previously empty house was packed with family and friends. We sang to the birthday boy, he blew out his candles, and then we cut into Darth Vader. I really wanted to get a picture of all of the kids sticking their tongues out after eating that black icing, but it didn't happen. I did get one of Uncle Jeff though!










Most of the kids didn’t stay inside for long after finishing their cake. They went right back outside and onto the waterslide again. Only this time they took their lightsabers with them.


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The party started breaking up shortly after we handed the lightsabers out. When most everyone had left, except for family and Claire and Colin, we let Riley open his presents. Everything he got was either Star Wars or Lego related. He was in heaven!




Oh these two.


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Everyone left after presents, and Kenny and I started cleaning up a bit. Then we realized we were both starving, so we ended up going to meet Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Steve, and Zac for lunch at the Galley. I was so exhausted, but just being able to sit down, sip a cold beer, and eat some good red beans was very restoring.

We had the waterslide all day, so even though we were all tired, we went back to the house after lunch and played on it until they came to take it away. Dana brought Claire and Colin back over and they stayed until 7pm. We even bathed the kids (in their bathing suits) in the crazy hose on the driveway. So much fun.



What a day. I think Riley had a really great time, and it seemed like everyone else enjoyed themselves too. Another great birthday party in the books!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Party Details {Riley’s Fifth Birthday}

As I mentioned last Friday, Riley’s 5th birthday party took place at our house over the weekend. It was entirely Star Wars themed, and I had a lot of fun pulling everything together to make it special for my boy.


I created lots of the decorations in PicMonkey, including a new banner, subway art, centerpieces, and front door sign. I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration on the food and made a Star Wars tie-in label for everything I served. (That was not part of my original plan, but there were so many great ideas out there that I couldn’t help myself. And I loved the way Erin did the same thing with the food at Kate’s princess party.) And I made favor tags and typed up an updated birthday interview after chatting with Riley about his answers.








I also found a few things online that we printed out and hung up. Kenny created a whole Death Star battle scene on the wall in the entryway. The Lego Star Wars A-Z poster and pictures of a Lego TIE fighter and X-wing were on the dining room mirror. And I loved the Star Wars typography prints I put on the ledges in the dining rom. So cool.





But perhaps the best thing was the huge cardboard display of R2D2 I scored from our local grocery store. Remember when we first saw him hanging out in the pasta aisle? Well, I asked one of the managers if it was possible to have him when they were done with him, and she totally came through. R2 was the perfect vessel for our pool noodle lightsaber favors.


Then there was the cake. Riley of course wanted a Darth Vader cake, and once again, his daddy made his wish come true.

Grandma came over on Friday afternoon to help. I baked two double 13x9 vanilla cakes (four boxes of mix total), which Kenny stacked together with a layer of icing in the middle. Then he got to carving. He basically employed the same technique that he used in the sand when we were in Florida in June.




After carving was complete, they started the task of covering the entire cake in black icing. This was the year we discovered the secret to getting awesome-looking black icing: adding cocoa powder to the white base before adding the gel coloring. It made the icing taste more chocolatey, but it worked great. Meanwhile, I was making little TIE fighters out of Oreo thins, marshmallows, and melted white chocolate. Those were a hit. And so cute.



Right around midnight, long after I had gone to bed, Kenny and Grandma finally had their finished product. So very impressive. Even if all of that icing did stain everyone’s lips, teeth, and tongues black. (Which it totally did.) Together with the special birthday candle Lego display that I put together earlier that day, we had an awesome cake for a very special boy. Riley LOVED it.





Party recap is up next!

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