We have a 1 year old!

And just like that, Harper is 1. Ok maybe not just like that, I mean we did have to go through her newborn phase, then the teething, the late nights and loads of spit up, and the numerous ear infections and fevers. We’ve had a few first steps, lots of kisses and cuddles, a few “poo-plosions”, gummy smiles and that amazing head in the neck cuddle.

But we’ve reached a new milestone when Harper turned 1 on 29 September. And what a celebration we had! I love celebrating birthdays, especially with loved ones and close friends who have been a constant part of our lives. I am so proud of what I accomplished on such a minimal budget. I did almost everything myself, from the food, to the decor and things turned out so much better than I would’ve thought. We had a little gathering in the woods with Harper’s Woodlands Party.

The guests were wow’ed by the cake. My friend has made both boys’ birthday cakes for the last few years and her creations are always amazing. But this one?!?! This one took the cake (lol). It was a 3 layer cake, the bottom layer was a dummy, the middle was chocolate sponge with a chocolate and peanut butter frosting, the top was a vanilla and strawberry sponge with vanilla frosting and strawberry jam (I think).

The details just amaze me!
Hello deer
Floral print on edible rice paper

Ok, enough talking. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

The table – I only decorated the one space. I found it easier to just do one space instead of trying to decorate the entire house
DIY food name cards
Homemade chocolate cake (a little bit of my mom at the party. I used her recipe)

DIY juice box labels, party bags and the cookies from Nectar and Spice.
All snacks made by me. Those bacon covered chicken bites were a huge hit!
I did not expect those ham and cheese pinwheels to be a winner because, well just look at them. But everyone loved them and the platter was empty by the end of the day
There were 1 or 2 other under 1 year olds at the party and I figured it would probably be best to cater for them too. So a few Oh My Goodness snacks for them

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

These cookies from Nectar and Spice are absolutely gorgeous and taste delicious!!!

DIY monthly growth photos. I must say, my guests loved looking back at these photos

And that’s it. If you have any questions about details about the party, please leave me a comment below and I will answer them as soon as I can

Ethan at 4 years old

I hardly ever do those birthday posts for any of my kids. I do a little shoutout on Instagram and Facebook but that’s about it. Does that make me a bad mom/blogger? Does it mean I love my kids any less? No, it doesn’t. It just means that instead of going all googly eyed and talking about all my hopes and dreams for my kid, I get to tell you like it is. So what can I say about Ethan….

Fighting
Even though he and Matthew have loving moments, where they’ll hug each other and be best buds, those moments are fleeting. They fight like crazy. And it’s normally Ethan that starts it. Granted there are times when Matthew teases him and he retaliates but mostly, it’s him. He wants something Matthew has, can’t get it, then starts scream crying. Only to stop mid scream when Matthew gives it to him. He’ll hit Matthew if he can’t get his way and has a bit of a temper.

Bathtime
For someone who loves to “swim” in the bath, he sure does hate having his hair washed. I thought we had gotten over this for the most part but just this weekend, Mark washed his hair and he screamed through the entire process. You would swear Mark was physically attacking him the way he went on. I’m sure my neighbours worry about what we do with our kids.

That said, we use the Baby Dove shampoo on him. Not only is it gentle on his eczema prone skin, but it smells amazing and makes his hair soft and shiny. I’ve had to trust that using this shampoo (and their bath wash) wouldn’t mess with his eczema and I think we’ve been lucky that he took to it so well.

 

Mealtimes
Mealtimes is another struggle. Ethan will eat most things. He’s also not shy to taste new foods (unlike Matthew). But unless it’s one of his favourite meals, you can forget about him finishing his food. He’ll mostly just eat the meat/chicken and leave the rice. He’s very fond of my mince pasta and most stew type dishes. He can devour sweets and biscuits in the time it takes me to finish a cup of coffee but food? I guess he must be in the mood or something lol

Other
Otherwise, he’s a neat kid who I don’t mind being around most of the time. He is loving and caring, loves to play by himself and watch Blaze and the Monster Machines, Paw Patrol, and Thomas and Friends. He loves construction vehicles, especially excavators (which he calls “esca-bator“). He sometimes thinks he’s Captain America and gets upset when we tell him he’s not. He loves holding Harper and making her squirm because he’s holding on too tight. He loves to help me when I’m baking, wanting to hold the mixer and throw the ingredients in. He’s a very independent 4 year old with abundant energy and the most contagious laugh. He loves the beach and throwing sand in his hair. He loves to crawl into our bed at 4am and kick me in the back. He loves to use his dad as a jungle gym and thinks he’s some famous gymnast. He loves great sneakers, looking smart and won’t wear anything if he’s not feeling it (probably gets it from his dad lol). He loves nature and being outdoors, he will crawl after a wriggly worm, run after a butterfly and spend hours playing with his construction vehicles in the sand. He can be gentle, boisterous, energetic, stubborn, independent, feisty, and a handful. We love him and wouldn’t have it any other way.

See, there I went all soft and googly eyed.

Happy 7th birthday Matthew *plus some news*

It was Matthew’s 7th birthday yesterday. 7 guys! I still can’t believe that I’ve been a mom for that long, seems like yesterday I was staring at his newborn face, taking in every little detail. His long fingers and toes, his button nose, his eyelashes. How is that they grow so fast?

Now he’s a sensitive and stubborn little boy. He loves hard and with all of his being. He loves experiencing new things yet hates change. He hates when Harper cries and will always seek to comfort Ethan if he’s upset. He’s the one that made us parents, our firstborn, our little bean.

We had a beach party for him. Just a few friends at the beach. No fuss, a few hotdogs, cool drinks and chips for the kids. They loved being at the beach, being able to jump in the waves and build sandcastles. For me, this beat having to find a way to entertain 10 kids at home, in the heat. It beat having to make party packs and decor and entertain the adults. Matthew loved it, the kids loved it and in the end, that’s all that matters.

**Other news**

We’ve moved! I’m not sure whether you’ve noticed but our little blog space has moved to self-hosted. It’s taken me a while but I did it. Please let me know what you think. Click on the buttons and if you were following me before, please remember to sign up with the subscribe link on the right of your screen.

Simple birthday party and a scare

It’s been a long 3 weeks guys. I felt like something was missing. A piece of me. I needed the break because it seems like the first anniversary of my mom’s passing hit me harder than I thought. The ideas were there, in my head, bouncing around and fighting to get out. I just couldn’t face coming here yet and putting those words down. But I’m back! And I’m sorry that I took off without a word. This first post will be a catch up on Matthew’s birthday.

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I decided not to do a ‘proper’ themed, décor’d, party for Matthew’s 6th birthday. We went minimalist with cake and sweets for the children and snacks for the adults. Matthew got to decide what kind of cake he wanted and I decided on the rest. He wanted a Spiderman cake (again) and I got the BEST person out there (I’m hinting here, Melissa) to bake his cake. Melissa has baked our cakes since Matthew’s 4th birthday and makes the most delicious looking (and tasting) cakes ever. Pity she’s retired for a bit but I’m hoping she will be around with Ethan’s next birthday. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Matthew got his cake and I decided on the pool party. We had it by my dad, because of the pool obviously.

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The children really had the best time. I didn’t do themed décor (we didn’t even have a birthday banner), there were no extra cakes besides the birthday cake, and you know what? There was enough. I didn’t get to take many photos as I tried to be as present as possible and not stuck behind the camera or with my phone in my hand all the time.

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Later the evening, the men decided to start the fire and makes potjies for supper. The kids were dressed and warm and running around outside playing in the yard. There were about 4 men outside watching the children. The ladies were inside playing doll with one of my friend’s babies. I was chatting to my friend and Mark was holding the baby. I see him telling me something but I ignore him because we’re mid conversation. It hits me then that he’s shouting something at me. “KIM! ETHAN IS IN THE POOL!!!” It took me a few seconds to grasp what he was saying and yet I still moved to the yard like I was wading through honey.

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I get outside and I see Ethan standing next to the pool, dripping wet. My cousin is in the water, soaking wet. Only then did it sink in what was happening and I moved. I grabbed Ethan, pulled his wet clothing off. He was coughing at this stage. I took him inside to dry him, take his nappy off and dress him in warm clothing. He was still coughing. I’m drying him and he’s coughing. I put him on the ground to stand so I can dry him properly and his legs give in. I don’t think anything of it and stand him up again. Again he falls down, as if his legs can’t hold him up. That’s when I panic. I shout for Mark and tell him we need to take Ethan to the ER. WE rush out of the house, me apologising to our guests that we’re having to leave them to fend for themselves.

We eventually get to the hospital. It only took just under 10 minutes but it felt like forever. And guess what? There is a freaking shift change happening and we have to wait! After a half hour wait, we’re eventually called in. By now, I’ve calmed down a bit, thinking that the nurses and the doctor are going to call me an over protective mother and I’m wasting my medical aid and my time. I managed to not let that deter me from finding out if Ethan is okay. The doctor sees Ethan and says everything sounds good in his lungs and that he’s fine. I must’ve looked a bit dubious because he said he wants to send Ethan for x-rays but it’s just a precaution and he doesn’t think anything will show up. We head to x-rays and after a short wait, get called in. I must mention here that I was so proud of this child! He sat on the machine and didn’t make a peep. He did what the lady asked of him exactly as she wanted (I was expecting tears, screams and loads of kicking).

We get back to the doctor and he is very happy with the x-rays. He calls me around to come have a look at the pictures, showing me there are no black spots (indicating water in his lungs) and that I can rest easy now. The relief was such that I felt I was going to faint right there.

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Smiling and happy after the incident

On our way back home, I realise why I was so frantic and panic stricken. Not a week earlier, I had read of a mother and her son. Her son, Natey, had passed away just after Christmas last year by drowning in their home pool. You can read the story here. I was so moved and heartbroken by Jane’s story, that it stayed with me (I still think of them every day). I realised how close we came to the same thing happening to us. Even though there were 4 people outside, Ethan still managed to slip into the pool unnoticed, not making a sound. If my friend’s son hadn’t said that Ethan is in the pool and he wants to get in too, I think this story would’ve ended differently. I am grateful that nothing serious happened to Ethan. I am grateful to my cousin for fishing Ethan out of the pool. I am grateful that this happened so that I could open my eyes to how quickly (and quietly) things like this happen.

The kids threw blocks and other floaty things into the pool during the day. We think that Ethan was trying to get one of the blocks in the pool and slipped in. We have no idea how long he was in the water. We have no idea if he swallowed any of the water. All we know is that we’re really lucky to have survived this time and that it is imperative that Ethan gets swimming lessons.

If you only take one thing away from this post, please let it be one of these.

  1. That accidents happen in a split second.
  2. That children can slip into water unnoticed, right under your nose.
  3. That all our kids need to be able to at least float and swim to safety should they fall into a pool.
  4. That yes, it CAN happen to you!

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Have you ever had an experience similar to this? Or have you had a “ag it will never happen to me” moment and then it did happen? I’d love to hear your story and learn from it.

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We had a party

Does planning a children’s party get any easier?

We celebrated Ethan’s 2nd birthday on 21 August and unlike what people usually do, I decided to have his party on the Sunday of his birthday and not the day before (when I would’ve had a rest day before work started). Planning this party went a bit off track with Ethan getting sick the week before, so a lot of my DIY stuff didn’t get done.

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Matthew (right) Ethan (left) both at age 2
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It’s my birthday!

Party Prints/Décor

Kelly from Envelope is the wonder behind these prints. She’s brilliant at taking your idea and spewing out this gorgeous piece of work. I emailed her and just said I’m looking for something similar but with puppies/dogs. This is what she came up.

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Party box labels and activity book covers
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Juice box labels
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Cupcake labels

Feel free to visit her Facebook page and check out her work.

Cake

I am always blown away by the talent of Melissa from Made by Mel. This is a hobby for her and she has made our last 3 cakes. She never disappoints. I told Melissa that all I know is that we’re having a puppy party but I have no idea for the cake. I really am lucky to be included in her select few that she’s baking for. Here is her latest creation for us.

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It’s a puppy cake!
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Some of the puppies
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The detail of these little guys is amazing!

I’m thinking of asking her to make a cake for my birthday. Should I?

Venue

I came across Funky Frogs via Facebook. They are in Tygervalley Mall and I am so glad I found them. Lesley is just the best and helped organise everything. Their venue is open enough for the children to run around freely but very secure. When you book your kid in, they are tagged with those security tags and the sensor at the door goes off should they leave. The party room was set up for us in Ethan’s party colours. The children barely sat still long enough for us to sing and blow out the candles before they were off playing. Great place for a winter/rainy day kids party with very little effort from mom.

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The paw print cupcakes I managed to find time to make

 

Now to start planning Matthew’s 6th birthday in January.