Silliness, Sassy-ness and Sweetness in a Girl Turns Two

Time really flies when you have kids. Your baby wakes up one morning and is no longer a baby! Well, she’s kind of a baby/toddler/girl mix. The kind of girl who can now communicate in sentences like “I want more” or “Hi mommy” or demands to play the same Veggie Tales song twenty times a day. The kind of girl who is independent, strong-willed, and determined to carry her own backpack because she sees big sister going to school with a backpack. But then there are moments you realize she’s still very much a baby. Like when you can’t explain to her why you can’t eat a candle. Candles are not food. Candles are dangerous. 

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Or when you realize that she still has those delicious, baby cheeks. I think I took Annelise’s baby cheeks for granted. Because I don’t remember the exact moment in which her baby cheeks disappeared. So I’m making a commitment to appreciate the little things, like Katelynn’s baby cheeks and her pot belly. I know that soon (maybe in a year), those cheeks will shrink and her belly will go down and she will become a big girl like her older sister. Till then, I have to steal as many kisses on her cheeks as I can.

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Happy birthday to our spirited baby girl, wild child, daredevil, Miss Piggie who can out-eat adults, and the only two year old I know who still drools through five bibs a day! You certainly keep me on my toes – I’ve been chasing you around all year, catching you bathing in toilet water, eating dirt and sand, climbing on all sorts of things and getting stuck in chairs and shelves. Somehow in the midst of the chaos, all your mischief and adventures, myriad tantrums and crying, you have managed to steal my heart. I think it has to do with those irresistibly plump cheeks. Kissing them is pure bliss. 

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Three

I cannot believe how old she has become. Sometimes, I find myself catching my breath when I realize how mature she is. Not too long ago, I think about a month before Lisi turned three, our family was taking a walk around the neighborhood when it hit me that our baby girl was no longer a baby…it’s the little things that you don’t catch when you’re with your kids 24/7.

The thing that I noticed on this walk was that Annelise was sprinting down the sidewalk. I know you’re thinking – So? What’s the big deal? She’s just running.

But it got me thinking about all the walks we had when she was a toddler, when her walking was still wobbly and when her little legs would get tired in a matter of minutes and she would start crying and asking us to hold her because she could not make it back home on her legs. Now, she is running around and able to walk all the way back home without a stroller or without us carrying her.

It was this sudden realization that made me tear up. Where did the time go? How did she grow up so fast without me even fully grasping what was right in front of my own eyes?! On that note, I commit to enjoying every day and every second with my girls who startle me with their development, creativity, joy and love for us. Happy 3rd birthday Annelise!

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DIY Frozen Festivities

Ever since watching Frozen, my daughter Annelise has been smitten with Elsa and Anna. Every night, she asks me before falling asleep – “Where’s Elsa? Where’s Anna?” So, of course, for her 3rd birthday party, I decided on a Frozen themed party for her.

It was a lot of fun coming up with different ideas on Frozen inspired decorations and activities and of course desserts!

Frozen Inspired Decor

I decided to work with blue, white, and dark purple colors for the decorations. Elsa’s gorgeous aqua blue dress was the inspiration for all the blue decorations. For the main backdrop, I used two types of blue tulle (a glittery aqua blue and a deeper blue). I simply hung the tulle onto our two curtain rods in the living room. I also hung up white tissue paper balls (inspired by snowballs of course).  I painted a canvas aqua blue and painted Olaf’s sweet quote about love with white lettering. On the mantle, I hung a ribbon banner composed of white, silver, and baby blue ribbons.

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The balloons were purple, pink and blue (inspired by Anna and Elsa’s outfits).IMG_4554

For the floral arrangements, I used purple delphinium and white and purple tulips.

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Frozen Inspired Party Activities

Pin the Carrot Nose on Olaf

I bought an Olaf poster and made his carrot nose out of orange felt. Super simple!

Elsa Crowns

We made crowns using baby blue paper, decorated with jewel stickers. I hole-punched the two ends of the crown and looped thin ribbon through the holes so the girls could tie the crowns around their heads. How cute do these little princesses look?!

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Frozen Inspired Desserts

Snow Cake

I baked a simple coconut cake. The flaked coconut really looks like snow! The great thing about this cake is you don’t have to worry about frosting it perfectly since you get to cover the frosting with the coconut. I made an adorable banner for the cake using blue and white polka dotted straws and a baby blue ribbon decorated with white snowflake stickers.

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Recipe – I used Ina Garten’s recipe for coconut cake.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/coconut-cake-recipe.html

Snowflake Chocolate Cupcakes

I baked chocolate cupcakes frosted with a cream cheese frosting. I created baby blue frosting by mixing the frosting with Wilton’s Sky Blue Icing. Then I decorated the cupcakes with white pearls or blue sprinkles. For the cupcake toppers, I used snowflake stickers that I found at Michael’s.

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Recipe – I followed Glorious Treats blog’s chocolate cupcake recipe as well as the cream cheese frosting recipe.

http://www.glorioustreats.com/2010/12/snowflake-cupcakes.html

Hope this inspires your creativity for a fun-filled Frozen party!

Blessings,

Mimi

The Joys of Mothering Toddlers

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it’s a great time to reflect on the blessings of being a mommy to two active toddlers. Our days are hectic and filled with lots of drama (aka fighting between my daughters) and it can be so easy to grumble about how tired I am or how difficult it is to raise my little ones who are only 18 months apart (or how many diapers I have to change).

But I know that despite how exhausted I am, at the end of the day I am a very blessed mother. It’s such an honor and privilege that we shouldn’t take for granted, especially as I think about my friends who have been waiting to get pregnant for quite some time. Furthermore, I know that God truly had mercy on our family by granting us healthy daughters as I battled hyperemesis with both my pregnancies.

Here is my list of the top ten joys of being a mama to toddlers:

  1. Hearing them say, “I love you.”
  2. Receiving hugs and slobbery kisses from them.
  3. The way they eagerly imitate everything you do (from the way you eat & drink to the way you scold the dog).
  4. Knowing that you are their security in times of distress.
  5. The privilege of training them to obey the Lord
  6. Losing yourself joyfully in sacrificing your body, time and energy to these little ones because they are so needy
  7. The complete and genuine joy in their faces when you come home…from a short trip to the grocery store.
  8. Hearing them say the darnedest things like – “Mommy, don’t worry.”
  9. Having a little shadow with you all day – they follow you even into the bathroom.
  10. Witnessing their amazing milestones – walking, talking, climbing, spinning, engaging in pretend play, making friends, saying their own prayers.

That Irksome Question…

That irksome question that people like to casually ask stay-at-home moms is, “So, what do you do all day?”

It almost feels like you have to defend yourself to be a stay-at-home mom. I think the question that they are really asking is – “Why are you a stay at home mom? / Why aren’t you out in the world doing something productive?” / “Aren’t you bored out of your mind staying at home all the time?” / “What do you really do with all that extra time you have?”

I usually go out with the girls to the library, park, a friend’s house for a playdate or the mall in the morning and come home in the afternoon for their nap. Here is a sample schedule for a day in which we stay at home.

7:00 am-8:00 am – Annelise wakes up and comes running to my bed. “Mommy, come on! Mommy? Mommy?”

8:00 am – I get drag myself out of bed. I change Annelise’s diaper, then Katelynn’s.

8:15 am – I take our dog Cole out to the yard for his morning pee and poo.

8:30 am – I make the kids breakfast and feed Katelynn and sometimes have to help Annelise eat.

8:45 am – Annelise spills her milk. I encourage her to be more careful while cleaning up the mess.

9:00 am – I make myself breakfast and eat try to eat in peace.

9:15 am – I wash the dishes.

9:30 am – If laundry needs to be done, I sort and do laundry (I have to do about four loads of laundry a week)

9:45 am – I change Katelynn’s poopy diaper.

10:00 am – If the house needs vacuuming (I have to vacuum twice a week because of the dog hair!), I vacuum upstairs while the kids are playing downstairs.

10:15 am – Annelise interrupts me, “Mommy, are you all done vacuum?” I will tell her no and encourage her to play with Katelynn. She refuses to and will simply wait for me at the stairs.

10:30 am – I am almost done vacuuming but I hear hysterical screaming/crying from both the girls. I run down the stairs to see what’s going on. They are fighting over a toy. I try to calm the girls down. I try to convince Annelise to play with something else. Sometimes she’ll push Katelynn to get her way.

10:45 am – I am disciplining Annelise for pushing Katelynn. She is not liking the discipline…It takes 15 minutes for her to calm down and apologize to me and Katelynn.

11:00 am – We go outside to our yard for some play time. I blow bubbles for the girls or we color with chalk on the concrete.

11:30 pm – The girls are fighting over a piece of chalk. I have a talk with both the girls.

11:45 am – I make lunch.

12:00 pm – I feed the girls lunch.

12:30 pm – I make myself lunch and eat try to eat in peace.

12:35 pm – Annelise wants me to hold her. I tell her she has to wait since mommy’s eating lunch. She sulks and goes to a corner to suck her thumb.

12:45 pm – I wash the dishes.

1:00 pm – I read books to the girls.

1:20 pm – I change Annelise’s poopy diaper. (Sometimes I feel like a professional poop cleaner…)

1:30 pm – I put the girls down for their afternoon nap.

1:45 pm – Annelise sneaks out of her room and says she doesn’t want to sleep.

2:00 pm – I put Annelise back down for her nap. She finally takes her nap.

2:15 pm – I have to decide whether I want to shower, take a nap, or fold laundry or vacuum downstairs. I need to take Cole out for his afternoon pee/poo.

3:00-4:00 pm – The girls wake up from their nap. I change their diapers.

4:00 pm – Time for their afternoon snack.

4:15 pm – Katelynn has managed to grab a hold of shoes and she is gleefully gnawing on one for the hundredth time. I tell her no and take the shoe away. She throws herself on the ground and starts wailing…as if it’s the end of the world. I ignore her and she eventually gets distracted by another object.

4:30 pm – Coloring time or an art activity for Annelise. Free play for Katelynn.

5:00 pm – Time to cook dinner.

5:30 pm – Annelise interrupts me, “Mommy, watcha doing?”

5:45 pm – Katelynn is crying because she’s hungry. I appease her with some cereal. Annelise wants some too. They gorge on Cheerios or goldfish.

6:00 pm – Dinner is served. Danny will feed Katelynn. I can semi-enjoy dinner. Annelise refuses to eat dinner. I have to scramble to find something she will actually eat (lately the only things she wants to eat are Cheerios, goldfish, fruit, kimchi, pickles, cheese, milk, bagels, yogurt, soups).

6:30 pm – Danny will do the dishes while I play with the girls.

7:00 pm – Bath time for the girls.

7:30 pm – Drama ensues because both the girls want to be held by me (not daddy) at the same time. I try to hold both of them on my lap but they are pushing each other while on my lap. (Sigh)

7:40 pm – Annelise is frantically searching for her bunny. She cannot sleep without her bunny. (Sigh) We search high and low for her bunny. I finally find the bunny downstairs. I make a mental note to purchase a back-up bunny in the case of an emergency in which we really cannot find her bunny. Of course, this is the 20th time I make this mental note.

7:50 pm – We brush the girls’ teeth and change their diapers one last time.

8:00 pm – We pray together and put the girls down for bed.

8:30 pm – Annelise sneaks out of her room and attempts to negotiate her bedtime…

8:45 pm – Put Annelise down again. She wants me (not daddy) to lie next to her in bed.

9:00 pm – I sneak out of Annelise’s room.

9:00 pm – Midnight – Cole eats his dinner. I am exhausted and want to sleep but I get my second wave of energy (I’m a night person!). These are the things I can get done while the kids are asleep – I can take a shower, read, fold more laundry, clean up clutter around the house, go grocery shopping, clean the toilets, watch TV, spend some time with Danny.

12:30 am – Katelynn wakes up crying because she lost her pacifier. I grope around her crib for her paci. I find it and place it back in her mouth. She falls back asleep.

1:00 am – I finally go to sleep. I should be sleeping right now but of course, I found something else to do – blogging….I will so regret this tomorrow morning!

This is what I do all day, every day. Sometimes it feels like the chores are endless. The dishes pile up, there is always laundry that needs to be done or folded, the toys are always cluttered around the house, and something always needs cleaning.

Sometimes it feels like the battles with discipline are endless. I am constantly having to remind Annelise to share and not push and to be gentle with her sister. I am perpetually taking random objects out of Katelynn’s mouth and telling her to not touch dangerous items.

I am a diaper-changer, a housekeeper, a chef, a wife, a referee between the girls’ squabbles over toys, a discipliner, a story-time reader, an art teacher, a bible teacher, an educator, a temper tantrum tamer, an entertainer, puppet show master, professional tickler, but most of all a mommy who has been blessed with the opportunity to love and care for her children.

I have been given precious time to nurture these relationships and to teach them the ways of the Lord. I have to remember this in moments where it really does feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again.

Elsa?

Today, I was in the bathroom and I made sure the door was locked because if I don’t lock the door, I know that my daughters will come bursting in. And of course, my older daughter Annelise (almost 3) came running to the door and knocked.

Instead of our usual back and forth – “Mommy?” / “Mommy’s peeing, you have to wait”, something different unfolded.

“Elsa?”

I chuckled and replied, “Yes?”

“Elsa? Snowman?”

“Do you want to build a snowman?” I asked. She was re-enacting the poignant scene between the two sisters from Frozen.

I opened the bathroom door and was greeted with a very enthusiastic rendition of “Let It Go.”

Annelise then grabbed my hand and urged me, “Elsa, come on!”

“Oh okay….where are we going?”

“Build a snowman!”

“Okay, let’s go build a snowman!”

We gleefully ran around our magical, make-believe castle, searching for Olaf the goofy but lovable snowman.

Somewhere down the line, it hit me – my little girl is growing up. She has such an active imagination and is so impressionable and absorbs stories and information like a sponge. I had to hold back my tears as I tried to compose myself and continue to engage in her fantasy in which she was Anna and I was Elsa.

Sometimes as a mom who spends all day, everyday with my children, I don’t notice all the changes in them that take place everyday. It feels like I just blinked and life fast-forwarded and my oldest daughter has become so mature, creative and expressive.

As Anna and Elsa loved each other with a fierce kind of love, I hope that one day, my girls will build many “snowmen” and many memories together.

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DIY Birthday Party Decor

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I love interior design, decorating, and fashion (although it’s been hard to keep up with trends now that I’m busy being a mommy for two). So I was pretty excited about planning the decorations for Katelynn’s first birthday. It’s all about the little details coming together to create a themed party. I decided on a white, silver, gold winter wonderland theme for Katelynn’s party since she was born early January.

  1. Ribbon banner – I used silver twine and tied white, silver and gray ribbons for a clean, wintery look.
  2. Pine cones – Pine cones are classic symbols of the winter theme. I simply accessorized the table by scattering pine cones and sprinkled some fake snow on them.
  3. Gold candleholders and lantern – I got these cute candleholders and lantern as presents and never really used them till now. Candles and lights always create a romantic aura and the lantern was perfect to incorporate the winter theme. 
  4. KATE letters centerpiece – Michael’s sells white wooden letters. I painted the letters with gold and then painted a layer of gold glitter on top for a fun, glamorous look.
  5. Rustic stand for the letters – I wanted to make sure to elevate the KATE letters so that it would be the centerpiece of the table so I flipped a storage crate over and used that as a cute, rustic stand. 
  6. Floral decor – Fresh flowers always brighten up a room. I used white roses and white hydrangeas to complete the winter look. I also got some silver and white wintery branches from Party City and placed them in clear vases with fake snow inside. 
  7. Cake and cupcakes – I kept it simple with an ivory cake with an adorable snowflake design and lemon cupcakes from Hotcakes Bakery. 
  8. Winter bird figurine – I found this adorable winter white bird figurine at Michael’s and used it as a an accent piece in front of the KATE letters. 

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As Annelise would say – “Happy Bir-Bir!”

Last weekend we celebrated my older daughter Annelise’s 2nd birthday. I’m still in disbelief that my baby has somehow morphed into a walking, talking, jumping, giggly, bubble and balloon-loving, tantruming toddler. I never thought the day would come when she would sleep through the night. Well, now she sleeps from 8 pm to 8 am in her crib with the help of her bunny and her trusty thumb.

She has begun to string two words together – “more cracker”. She has started to actually play with other children and also engage in pretend play. She’ll pretend her bunny is a baby who asks her “hold hold?” and she’ll proceed to hold the bunny just like I hold her. She likes to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, especially the “howa howa” (“how I wonder”) parts.

She can be so sweet at times – hugging her baby sister tight. And darn right impossible at other times – yelling at the top of her lungs when she can’t do something exactly the way she wants it.

It’s been a bumpy road at times – especially when I was pregnant with Katelynn and so sick that I couldn’t even care for her. Our relationship only recently became stronger now that I’m no longer nauseous 24/7.

I am still waiting for the day she says, “I love you” back…but for now, I am totally smitten with the way she puckers her lips and blows pretend kisses when I say “Love you.”

It all goes by way too fast. So I try to remember this on sleepless nights with baby no. 2 who is still sleeping in bed with me at 6 months. I have to remember to enjoy the little moments and hold Katelynn tight before she starts crawling away from me!

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An Interrupted Life

Tonight is one of the rare nights I have time to sit, reflect, and write. One of the realities of being a mom is having an interrupted life.

Meal times are interrupted by a fussy baby who wants to be held to go to sleep. There’s no time to savor the flavors of a gourmet meal when your toddler starts to throw a tantrum because she’s bored in her high chair and wants to roam around the restaurant.

Most nights Katelynn hasn’t been sleeping till midnight due to excessive gas. And my sleep is interrupted by her constant stirrings and when her pacifier falls out, I have to retrieve it for her in order for her to fall back asleep.

Showers are interrupted by hysterical crying in the other room (Katelynn’s pacifier must have fallen out during her nap!).

Bathroom breaks are interrupted by my toddler who wants to just be with mommy.

Conversations are really difficult to have when you have two kids vying for your attention.

My life feels like a constant string of interrupted moments – interrupted by crying, diaper blow-outs, spit-up, temper tantrums, requests for water/milk/cereal/a book.

It’s so easy to get frustrated with the countless interruptions but I’m learning the art of letting go. Having a perpetual string of interruptions means being flexible, going with the flow, being okay with a messy house, being okay with not being able to cook gourmet meals every night, being okay with one of my kids crying because I only have one pair of hands.

My interrupted life forces me to let go of this idea of a what a perfect wife/mom should be. It forces me to acknowledge that I am desperately in need of God’s grace and His strength to just to make it to the end of a very long, draining day.

Terrible Two’s?

Annelise is turning two in July but she’s already in full swing with the terrible two’s. What makes the terrible two’s so terrible is this funny combination of a never-ending curiosity about the world around them, their increasing desire for independence, and their lack of communication skills. Oh and not being able to reason with them.

How do you explain to a screaming toddler that their precious stuffed bunny is being washed in the laundry machine so I cannot give you Bunny right now? I’m sure in her mind she’s thinking – “OMG! My beloved bunny is drowning and Mommy hates me because she’s refusing to rescue Bunny from that funny, soapy water!”

Figuring out Annelise’s new language has been fun and challenging. “C” is cereal. “Fi” is gold fish. “Po” is Pororo. “Wa wa” is water. Annelise has been calling her stuffed bunny “Munny”. Huh?! How do you get “Munny” from “Bunny”? I have no idea but I’m glad I finally deciphered that word because she cannot sleep without “Munny.”

Her new favorite word is No. She says it with such adorable gusto that sometimes I can’t help but smile. Sometimes when I’m disciplining her and giving her my meanest stank-face possible, I have to bite my tongue to keep myself from busting out laughing because she’s staring back at me with such charming intention. Somehow, she manages to look cute even when she’s being completely unreasonable.

“Hold my hand please.”

“No!”

My daughter proceeds to throw herself onto the ground of the library parking lot and cries as if the world is ending.

“Did you poo poo?”

“No…”

I check her diaper and sure enough there’s poo. I cannot believe this child is lying to me already!

“Let’s do a diaper change.”

“No!”

Sometimes I play Pororo for her on my Iphone and she’ll comply with the diaper change. Sometimes I dig through my purse for some random knickknack that will distract her long enough during the diaper change. Other times, I just grit my teeth and force Annelise to the ground.

“Time to brush your teeth.”

“No!”

This is a nightly battle in which I have to hold Annelise’s arms down and shove the toothbrush in her mouth. It’s not an easy thing to do when your toddler is screaming her head off. As if she’s in pain. As if I’m torturing her by making sure she doesn’t get cavities.

“Do you want to go night-night?”

“No! No! No!”

She says this empathically while her body language unequivocally betrays her as she’s rubbing her eyes, sucking her thumb, and clinging onto her stuffed bunny.

The endless “no’s” can make for a very draining day. I can’t help but wish things could be easier – that she would be potty-trained or be able to feed herself completely. But then there are those little, precious moments which melt my heart. Like when Annelise gingerly wipes the baby’s mouth with a burp cloth. It’s so hilarious and at the same time just so sweet.

I never imagined how loving Annelise would be as a big sister. She has surprised me many times with how excited she gets when she sees Katelynn and calls her “Bay” and how much she wants to be near her and pat her hands and touch her head and give her little kisses. Lately she’s been quite fascinated with other babies when we go out. She’ll approach them with glee and say, “Hi” and proceed to pat them just like she pats Katelynn. It’s simply amazing. I am reminded to cherish these little moments because I know she will soon start talking in full sentences and soon she will no longer want mommy to hold her at the dinner table. I guess what I’m realizing is that the terrible two’s don’t seem too terrible in the grand scheme of things. In fact, I might look back on these days and remember them as simply terrific.