Three Little Valentines

Anybody who knows us well knows that JP is not a big Valentine's Day sort of guy. He despises any sort of pressure to perform artificially because the calendar says you should. He will go out of his way to do nothing just to prove a point.

This has been the case for the whole of our relationship, and I have never minded because he is so good at showing me love every other day of the year. I have the maturity to understand just because he didn't bring home roses or make reservations at some fancy restaurant doesn't mean I'm not his valentine every day of the year.

My three daughters, however, are not mature. Even though their daddy loves them to bits and pieces every day, they (mainly Rae, but Ruby as well) are reaching ages where they understand the holiday and want to be someone's valentine. I first noticed it last year, and mentioned it to JP.

When I was young, my Dad (and my mom, and even my brothers) made a big deal out of Valentine's Day for me & my sister. I was extremely secure in my family's love for me, and I always knew that on Valentine's Day, I would be showered with extra doses of the same love I felt from them every day. I never dreaded February 14th or joined any pity party groups in wearing all black to school. I was loved from home, and I didn't need to look for it anywhere else.

Apparently, JP took my thoughts to heart, and this year, Mr. Anti-Forced-Affection himself went all out for the women in his life.

Each of the girls came home to find red heart-shaped balloons tied to their beds, weighted with a chocolate heart and a sucker, and a red carnation. The girls were absolutely giddy, squealing just like you would imagine and jumping all over their big daddy valentine.

JP told me he fully accepts that he will never again be able to ignore Valentine's Day, and he's happy to do it just to let his girls know they are always someone's special love. My eyes welled up with tears just knowing our girls will have the same security I had growing up.

After all the hugs and kisses, I went downstairs to do laundry and found a big bouquet of flowers waiting for me on our bed. For some reason, the flowers took me over the top, and I burst into tears! I knew he was going to do something special for the girls, but I still never expected anything for me!

JP doesn't buy me flowers often, but when he does, he likes to make it meaningful. This time he went into the flower shop and told them he wanted to make his own arrangement. They told him they had a bunch of nice bouquets and pre-arranged items, but he said no; he wanted to do it himself. He picked out the flowers and bought them al a carte, then arranged them himself at home. :)

Rae really wanted to do something special for JP as well, so we worked hard to prepare everyone's favorite dinner: Crab legs for JP, chicken for me, and Shells & Cheese for the girls. We even made up a menu (Rae named our "restaurant" The Surprise Bakery...haha), made a heart-shaped fruit pizza for dessert, homemade cards, and a video of JP and the girls. He was very blessed, and the girls were giddy to have done something for him.

Here (if it works) is the video we made for JP. I am warning you, it is VERY rough. I threw it together in about two hours. Most of the photos and all of the videos are from my iPhone and therefore very poor quality. To top it off, I had recorded most of the video vertically, but had to rotate it to landscape mode, which required heavy cropping. He loved it (he even cried, but don't tell), and that's all that matters. :)


Rae's 5th Birthday Party!

The day after my oldest princess turned five, a miracle happened. This low-key, no presents or parties sort of family did a 180º and threw a massive birthday party for Rae and all of her little friends. After years of quietly biting my tongue and respecting JP's no party preference (because let's be real, you know I'd be throwing parties every year, right?), he agreed to allow birthday parties for our kids at two ages: 5 and 10.

It was like the heavens parted. I was so excited I could have squealed! Actually, I think I did squeal. Ok, I know I did. I squealed.

I'm not sure JP knew exactly what he was getting into when he agreed to this, but I knew that if this was going to be one of only two birthday parties I would ever throw for Rae, we were going all out!

Rae decided she wanted to have a princess party (of course), and to accommodate her many boy cousins and friends, we made it a "knights and fair maidens" theme. Everyone was encouraged by royal decree to come dressed in their finest attire.

There was no use in trying to keep the guest list at a reasonable number. Israel wanted to invite everyone she had ever met, and I was happy to oblige. In the end we had 19 kids and 15 adults packed into our home. We ran out of pickles and cheese, but there was enough fun and smiles to go around the room multiple times. :)

The party began with a game of "pin the crown on the princess," which can be a little slow when you have nearly 20 kids waiting as patiently as they can for their turn. After that we sat down to decorate craft stick magnet picture frames that the girls and I had assembled beforehand.

Before the party, my very talented friend Brenda painted a beautiful rainbow and castle mural for the kids to have their picture taken in front of. In my perfect plan, I was going to print out the pictures during the party to give them; then the children could use those pictures in their frames. Since I completely forgot about that in the craziness of the day, I guess I'll just be emailing them to the parents. :)

After decorating the frames, Rae passed out party bags to all of her friends. The girls/princesses all got a paper tiara, a wand, a necklace, a heart-shaped lip gloss ring, princess stickers and a noise maker. The boys/knights got an inflatable sword, a knight mask, and a noise maker. The kids all got a kick out of their

Lunch was next on the agenda. The menu consisted of Rae's favorites: Turkey sandwiches, grapes, and pickles for the kids. My mother-in-law Margie made a phenomenal chicken salad for the adults. I do not claim to have any impressive baking skills whatsoever, but Rae and I did work together to create a castle cake that I felt was satisfactory. The kids thought it was the coolest thing in the world -- they are so easy to please. :)

The final event was perhaps the most exciting for the kids: a princess crown piñata (did you notice I figured out how to type the ñ?). Apparently Target makes robust piñatas, because we had some pretty strong kids taking some pretty hard hits at that thing, yet barely making a dent.

We really thought Rosie could tip the scales, but alas, she could not. :)

Finally we called in the reinforcements, and the kids all cheered when my brother Joe stepped in to finish it off, spilling candy everywhere.

I am truly thankful that we had the opportunity to do something big and exciting for Israel's fifth birthday. I know she is old enough that she will remember this party for the rest of her life, and it brought JP and me tremendous joy to see her so excited all day long.

Now...only a year and a half until Ruby's fifth birthday. She wants a horsey party. I guess I'd better start planning now. ;)

(P.S. I have to offer a big THANK YOU to my awesome friend Sarah who manned the camera for me all day. There is no way any of this could have been documented if I had tried to do it myself. THANK YOU SARAH! )


Official Announcement + a Promise

Joe & Becky officially announced their little blessing, which means I can officially post a couple of the photos I got to take a couple weeks ago! I'll post the ones they used.

So exciting! Aww, and they are so cute. I can't believe Joe is going to be a daddy! :)
Here is another one. I can't take credit for the cute shoe idea -- it was Becky's mom's!

And just to give you a glimpse at how anal I am about photos for other people: below is the photo I originally edited and gave to Becky. Once I saw it floating around Facebook, I started hating it. It was driving me absolutely NuTzO that I didn't rotate the photo to make the shoes level.

So here is before...
and after...

I know, I'm nutzo. But I think it looks better that way.

I am slowly working through the photos from Rae's big princess party last weekend, but time has been scarce! I don't think the blog will be as time consuming as the Christmas 2011 blog (I think that one takes the cake for all time), but it was a super fun day and I want to make sure to record all of the details so we have it preserved forever.

BTW, the party was a huge success! I can't wait to share stories and photos from Rae's big day. She will never forget it!



1.) Israel is turning FIVE on Friday! I can hardly believe it. Somehow God worked a miracle in JP's heart and he is letting me throw her a HUGE princess birthday party on Saturday! I have been waiting for this day for so long (hahaha)! The extrovert/social butterfly in me can hardly stand the excitement! There's going to be games, crafts, party favors, a castle cake, and even a princess pi nata. (side note: I have struggled for way too long trying to figure out how to get the little ˜ sign over the "n" in pinata, and can't figure it out. I give up.)

2.) Speaking of being extroverted, JP and I had a funny conversation the other day. I said something like, "I love having a summer birthday now, but didn't you hate it growing up that your birthday wasn't during the school year so you could bring cupcakes?" JP looked at me like I had gone insane and firmly said, "NO. No, I have never, ever felt that way. I hate being the center of attention." This is what happens when an extreme extrovert marries an extreme introvert. :)

3.) My sister, Amber is having another baby!!! This will be #5 for them, and we are all so excited!

4.) Joe & Becky still have not formally announced their pregnancy yet, and this past weekend I had the super fun honor of taking an announcement photo for them! Of course, I cannot post any of them yet. :)

5.) This has been the best winter weather ever, in my book. :)

6.) Rosie has pretty much mastered eating with a fork or spoon. She also steps up and down the steps now, instead of crawling. Where is my baby girl?