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Chloe’s 5th (Painting & Art) Birthday Party!

Chloe's painting art birthday party
Chloe’s 5th birthday party was a success! We hosted 16 kids plus their parents, and even now I find it remarkable that everyone seemed to fit in our home without seeming crazy crowded. Chloe loved having all her friends over and the 5 “art stations” seemed to entertain and engage the kids, despite a span of ages. They could choose what they wanted to do, when they wanted to do it (and I was secretly glad to not have to organize any group games). And when party goers were done with craft projects they were free to roam outside to the sand table and play structure, or into Chloe’s room for dress-up, or Leo’s room for trucks and train table. It was great!

I didn’t take as many photos as usual, but here are a few shots snapped with my phone to show a little of our setup:

painting and art party table

Our main dining table was Station #1, painting. Each place had a set of (washable) watercolors (from this Crayola 24ct setcomes with 3 individual sets of 6 colors), a paintbrush, a bowl of water and a piece of watercolor paper set up for the kids to make their masterpieces.

Art party station play-doh

Station #2 was a Play-Doh table. I purchased a 24ct pack of rainbow Play-Doh and set out our rolling/cutting play tools. The colors were vibrant and lots of fun to mix and mash.

art party collage table

Station #3 was a collage table. I set out our collection of decorative edged scissors, stickers, colored glue sticks and a variety of paper for the kids to craft up a storm.

art party cookie decorating table

Station #4 was a decorate-your-own-cookie project. I originally saw this idea on Green Owl Art and decided it was perfect for little hands. I cut out cardboard circles as well as foam “icing” and purchased the same collection of stickers from Michaels. Easy to do and with really cute results.

Melissa And Doug wooden stringing beads and bead bouquet
Station #5 held wooden beads to make beaded bracelets. It included a set of Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Stringing Beads set and the Melissa and Doug Bead Bouquet set. I think the kids really liked being able to include their names on their bracelets and the Bead Bouquet set had a nice variety of shaped and painted beads. I cut each necklace-length cord into 3 equal pieces (singeing the severed ends with a lighter so they wouldn’t unravel), so that every attendee could make at least one bracelet. Since the kits didn’t come with enough closure beads I supplemented them with lanyard snaps.

art rainbow party table snack decoration crepe paper streamers

Besides the snack table backdrop, the only other “decorating” we had time for that morning (besides balloons) was to line the pass-through from the living room to the kitchen with rainbow-colored crepe paper streamers as we have in the past. Young kids love to run through them and watch them flutter back into place. Plus they really give a visual bang for the buck, which is always nice. The snack table itself held a little less than usual since two of our young guests have severe food allergies. Good thing their moms are such avid ingredient readers, as I overlooked a detail even though I was trying to be careful.

Overall, this party was the perfect blend of what Chloe wanted to do to and the amount of effort I wanted to put into the planning and details. I sometimes wonder if I don’t do enough (or if I do too much), but this one felt just about right. There is no doubt that Chloe loved every minute. Afterwards, I received several sweet and heart warming comments and emails from moms who really thought it was a terrific time. Pretty much the best any mom could ask for. 🙂

P.S. To make it easy on myself I linked to the products above on Amazon, but purchased almost everything locally. For example the Play-Doh came from Target and the best price on the Melissa and Doug beads came from Home Goods.

Elmer's colored glue sticks best price

I also found a few things at Dollar Tree, which is always worth checking before a party. I purchased the left set of Elmer’s Colored Glue Sticks
at Dollar Tree for $1, but then saw them a few days later at Michaels retailing for $5.99. Sometimes it pays to shop around!


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Leo’s 2nd Birthday – Circus Party!

Circus Birthday Party Table

Earlier this month we hosted Leo’s 2nd Birthday party at our house. We kept it small, yet festive, so as not to overwhelm the birthday boy. Luckily, the morning was sunny and perfect. We were able to throw open the french doors to the backyard and let kids and parents wander and play where they liked.

Circus Party Themed Plates and Napkins, Tablewarecircus party kids tent gigatent

sand table

I learned from Chloe’s 3rd birthday to not have too many activities planned, to let things flow a little more naturally. We had plenty of yard toys (sand and water table, beach balls, kiddie pool, push toys, bikes, etc) available, and plenty of seating for the grown-ups. Inside we set up the GigaTent Play Tent (that I bought last year for a steal on Craigslist!) along with more toys. Mostly it was open play, but toward the end we gathered everyone together for a circus-revised game of Bingo for both the kids and adults (original free download here), as well as Pin the Nose on the Clown that I got at the party store. I had grand plans of twisting up balloon animals (see my practice butterfly and poodle) and face-painting, but that never quite materialized. Turns out its hard to host a party and provide the entertainment at the same time!

Birthday boy cupcake

Circus Party Cupcakes

Overall it was a grand time. I was really surprised at how Leo sat and smiled at everyone while we sang him “Happy Birthday.” So cute! He wasn’t at all as overwhelmed as I thought he’d be. Looking back, it may be because we were at our home and not out somewhere else, or perhaps he just sensed that something special was afoot. Also, because of an attendee’s allergy, the vanilla cupcakes were egg-free (using this recipe), topped with cream cheese frosting. The only photo I have of the goody bags is this one. I was so proud of them, but forgot to take another photo!

circus masks

Pin the Nose on the Clown, Circus Party Game

One question I got a lot was about the canopy above the food table – it’s our Ikea Mysig Bed Canopy (only $10!) that I blogged about here. It fit perfectly over our Ikea sewing table -turned-food table.

One parent described our house as “IKEA fresh,” and I was really pleased to hear that. I do love me some Ikea, and why not, when everything is so budget-friendly and easily re-purposed in many ways?

 


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Free Printable Gift Tags for Boys

Good Morning Friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Is it Tuesday already? I’ve been a little slow getting back into the swing of things due to a little back-end blog trouble, but I think it might be fixed. Hooray!!

Today I wanted to share with you some printable gift tags I made this weekend. Chloe had a birthday party to attend on Saturday for a male classmate. After finding a gift bag from our party box, I remembered (again!) that all of our gift tags are girly and feminine – no boy themed ones at all. In the past I’ve resorted to using a sticky note, but this time I created some “boy” appropriate tags instead.

Could you use some boy themed gift tags too? We are happy to share! Just download the pdf at the bottom of this post.

Free Printable Gift Tags for Boys

Free Printable Gift Tags for Boys

Free Printable Gift Tags for Boys

What do you think? Will they come in handy? They aren’t strictly boy, as you can see. The colored bunting flags and the ombre-style “Happy Birthday” text versions could just as easily be used for both genders. And some girls like trucks and dinosaurs and circus tents, too, right?

Click here to download the Gift Tags for Boys PDF or click on the image below. For best printed results use your printer dialogue box to choose the “high quality” setting. On the colorful ones I used my old Crop-A-Dile to add some silver grommets as a finishing touch, but realized a hole punch alone looks just as good. Enjoy!

Free printable happy birthday party gift tags for boys download pdf

P.S. The icons are from the free font LoKinderDingsBum. They have some super cute dingbats. You can find it here.


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Birthday Gift Books for Preschoolers

   

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! Chloe had back-to-back preschool birthday parties, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, so it was definitely a fun-filled weekend for us!

Since we are still getting to know both of the birthday kids, I thought a good gift for each child would be a book + art supplies (my usual go-to gift). For this, as usual, I looked to my own kids for inspiration.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

For the birthday boy, who also has a little brother about Leo’s age, we chose Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. Leo is WAY into trucks right now, and this is a book that both my kids enjoy. It is a New York Times bestseller, and the perfect just-before-bedtime read. It is about a crew of construction vehicles that finish up their jobs for the day and then go to sleep. The rhyming is thoughtfully done and the illustrations are in a crayon-drawn style. With this gift we attached a pack of crayola glitter crayons. Here’s the animated book trailer for Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (did you even know there was such a thing?!):

 

Bridget’s Beret

To the birthday girl, we gave a copy of Bridget’s Beret. Chloe and I both like to read this one (versus some of the books that Chloe likes that I don’t really care for – at least not the twentieth, or one-hundredth time!). This is definitely a book that will grow with her, and continue to be interesting.

Bridget’s Beret is about a young artist named Bridget who likes to wear a black beret. When her beret gets caught in a breeze and sails away, she feels like her ability to draw is lost along with it. Only when her little sister begs her to paint a sign for their lemonade stand does Bridget realize there is more to her talent after all. Such fresh and colorful girly illustrations! With this book to the birthday girl we also added a watercolor set. You can download a free activity guide for Bridget’s Beret here.

Here’s the funny thing: I didn’t realize until I bought both gift books that they were illustrated by the same author/illustrator, Tom Lichtenheld! I guess I don’t usually pay much attention to childrens’ book authors. Now that I know we like his style, we’re testing out several others from the library. Another cute book we’re currently reading is called Cloudette. See Cloudette’s sweet animated book trailer here.

Happy reading!

Just for the record, this is not a paid review. I’ve never actually done one of those, although I would love to! These are truly just some books that my kids and I really, really like!


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Leo’s First Birthday Photos

I can hardly believe that Leo is already a year and a half old. Where has the time gone? I will so miss having a little baby to snuggle and hold, but I have to admit that having a toddler to interact with is pretty darn fun. I was looking back at some of my old photos and realized that I never posted these gorgeous images taken by my friend Greta at Olive Hill Photography last June. So bright and fun! I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking at these images for as long as I live.


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Dear Chloe, Age 4

Dear Chloe,

You are now four years old! We celebrated your birthday yesterday at a local gymnastics academy. You had a wonderful time with your friends – running around, jumping on the trampoline and into the foam pit, and all around the inflatable bounce house and slide. You chose the chocolate cake with the rainbow on it and you also requested a pinata. You’ve been asking for a fairy pinata for months, but since we couldn’t find one you finally chose a butterfly instead. 🙂

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Now that you are four, I’ve decided we’ll join in on the popular new tradition of 20 questions. I hope that we’ll repeat this every year. Tonight, right before bedtime, I interviewed you. Here is what you said:

1. What is your favorite color? Blue and purple. First, I like blue.
2. What is your favorite toy? My Lalaloopsy doll
3. What is your favorite fruit? Grapes
4. What is your favorite tv show? My Big, Big Friend
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Pasta
6. What is your favorite thing to wear? My orange (sun) dress with the orange bloomers
7. What is your favorite game? Playing with you. Candyland and dress-up
8. What is your favorite snack? The chocolate cereal (Kellogg’s Krave)
9. What is your favorite animal?
A Butterfly
10. What is your favorite song? The lullaby we listen to in the car where the baby floats in the air (Rockabye baby in the tree top, when the wind blows the cradle will rock, when the bough breaks the cradle will fly, and up will drift baby into the sky…)
11. What is your favorite book? The Octonauts and the (Great) Ghost Reef
12. Who is your best friend? You. And I love Anjali. And Rosabelle and Hazel.
13. What is your favorite cereal? Marshmallow cereal (Mallow Oats by Mom’s Best Cereals). Chex.
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play in the sandbox and run
15. What is your favorite drink? Juice and milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas and Halloween and when I give out heart cards (Valentine’s Day).
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Backpack baby and (light-up) Ladybug
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cereal (granola and/or corn flakes) with (vanilla) yogurt and milk
19. What is your favorite dinner? Meatballs and spaghetti
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A mommy. I mean, a daddy. 🙂
I love you my little girl,
Forever and always,
Mama

Chloe’s 4-year specs – Height: 3′ 1.5″ (0.953m) (9.11%)  Weight: 29lbs (13.154kg) (5.56%)  BMI: 14.50 kg/m2


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Leo’s First Birthday!

Leo had his first birthday party last weekend! We invited the same good friends who attended Chloe’s first birthday (who conveniently all have had their second children as well, so it was a perfect match of preschoolers and baby siblings). We put together a pasta lunch – pistachio, garlic and olive pasta for the adults, mac ‘n cheese for the kids, salad, fruit, cheese and crackers and trix crispies as a colorful treat. Since Leo’s is our first summer birthday in the family, I thought it would be special to do an ice cream cake (strawberry) from Baskin Robbins, and found some toy animals on top to match the lion party theme. I can’t believe he is one already!!!

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*Happy Birthday Bingo Game* – Free Party Printable

Oh! I just realized I’ve never shared the printable birthday party bingo game that I made for Chloe’s 3rd “Rubber Duck” birthday party! The bingo game was a hit, especially because it was easy to do with a big group and even the parents could participate. We used Chloe’s set of washable Dots and Dashes Paint, but I’ve seen real “Bingo” markers at the dollar store, too.

*** Click here to download Happy Birthday Bingo PDF 779 kB ***

To play, cut out the squares on pages 1 and 2 (shown above). These are the call out cards. The caller piles the cards face-down and calls out one image at a time, allowing enough time for all players to check and see if they have a match. If they do, they mark that image on their bingo card. Once a player has found all 9 images and calls out “Bingo!,” that player wins! There are 12 unique bingo cards in all.

This is fun to play as a family, too. Just cut off the portion that says “Happy Birthday Bingo” and you’re good to go. 🙂

Enjoy!

For more of our party details see Rubber Duck Party part 1 or part 2 or the flickr set.


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37

I turned 37 yesterday. Wow. Doesn’t that number seem really big? It certainly gave me pause, but it doesn’t feel as dramatic as I thought it was going to.

Last night we dropped off the kids and had dinner at a local Korean restaurant I’ve been wanting to try. Not as good as our favorite, but I thoroughly enjoyed my bibimbap. Afterward, we had just enough time to pick up a mini chocolate cake to celebrate with the kids before bedtime. My daughter loves to sing “Happy Birthday” and to blow out candles, so we got her a mini-cupcake with sprinkles, too.

And right now? I’m sipping some organic rooibos africana. I tried it at a christmastime tea in Colorado with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-laws. I only brought back a small packet and was sad to run out. Luckily a local tea shop carries it, and David stopped to get me some. I’ve been partial to South African rooibos before, but this particular blend with cornflowers, blue mallow and vanilla is so deliciously warm and comforting. And it is caffeine free – good for late nights. 😉

Ever since going to Vietnam, I like to drink tea in the asian “milk tea” style, with sweetened condensed milk. It sounds weird, but its really good. Rich and creamy and lightly sweet. If you are usually a coffee drinker and don’t particularly care for tea, I think this one will change your mind.

 


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DIY Cupcake Party

Since Chloe’s birthday fell on Thanksgiving day this year, and despite the fact that she’d already had a birthday party, we had some of our neighborhood friends over for a DIY cupcake decorating get-together the morning after. Check out some of these gorgeously sweet creations…

  

  

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Dear Chloe, 3 years old

Dear Chloe,

You turned 3 years old on Thanksgiving day this year. No longer are you considered a toddler, but a preschooler, with all the interests, blossoming language skills, curiosity, fledgling independence, willfulness, and complexities that description entails. It has been a big year of changes for you. One major one has been the construction of our home addition, eventually giving you a wonderful space to play and dance, and the other being the summer arrival of your baby brother. I am happy to say that you are a very helpful big sister, which brings me great happiness and hope that you two will be lifelong friends some day.

As you are growing and learning, so are we, your mommy and daddy. We want to be the best parents we can be. You are both charming and clever, your actions often bringing smiles to our hearts on a daily basis. But some days are a struggle. Of course you’d like to get your way all the time. But sometimes we, your parents, have to make decisions for you that you don’t like. One example that comes to mind is your eating habits. You just don’t like to eat many healthy foods. You would eat cookies and cupcakes all day if we’d let you. As it is, we allow you an almost daily chocolate milk, which in some ways I’m thankful for since I can hide some vanilla yogurt (calories!) in with the Carnation instant breakfast mix (vitamins!).

The natural parent-child struggles aside, I want you to know what a happy childhood you’re having. It amazes me to think that you will likely remember none of this, and even we may forget some of what life is like right now. But it is good life, without a doubt. We are lucky to all be healthy, to have a comfortable home and especially each other. We are lucky that your daddy has a good job and that I can stay with you and your brother, that we can go places and do things. While we may not be able to afford everything you want (or we’d like to give you), you certainly have plenty of toys, games, art supplies, clothes and classes that you love, like dance and swimming. As your parents, we are trying to teach you to appreciate what you have, to understand how lucky we are, but those are probably lessons you’ll understand better as you get older.

Chloe, we love you so much. Your arrival three years ago made us a family. I hope this next year continues to bring you fun, happiness, new skills and joyous learning. You will always be our sweet little girl and a blessing to our lives, as we hope to continually be a blessing to yours.

Love forever,
Mama

 


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Rubber Duck Party! **Part 2**

As I mentioned in the previous post, we decided to throw Chloe’s third birthday a couple weeks early. Her birthday actually falls on Thanksgiving this year, plus she already has 4 birthday parties to attend in the span of a few weeks. I figured it would just be easier to do it early, and at this age, she’s happy to just have fun.

 

We started the party by letting all the kids decorate their yellow goodie bags with markers and yellow feathers in the front room. It allowed time for guest to arrive and gave the kids something to do right away. There was a rubber duck coloring page as well. Following that they played five games:

  • “Match the ducks” – this was like “Memory” – twelve matching ducks (two for each child) had matching stickers underneath each pair. They floated in a bin of waters while the kids took turns each finding a matched pair, which they then added to their goodie bag.
  • “Feed the ducks” – this was a bean bag toss into large melamine bowls. Each child got a prize when they made it.
  • “Pass the duck” – basically, “hot potato” except we used a large duck to pass around. This was the only game that was a little awkward with this age group, so we sorta faked it.

 

  • “Find the ducks” – we secretly filled the floor in the spare room with balloons and “hid” larger rubber ducks (again one for each child) to find. We closed the door so nobody knew that the room was filled with balloons until we opened it for a BIG surprise.
  • “Birthday Bingo”  – After the kids had time to splash around and enjoy the balloon room for a while, we called them back to the dining room table for one last game of “Birthday Bingo” after which we then sang happy birthday to the birthday girl and had yummy vanilla bean cupcakes with white buttercream frosting (closest looking to soap suds).

 

Each cupcake was in a rubber ducky themed cupcake wrapper topped with a party duck sitting in its own matching mini-cupcake wrapper. Chloe thought they were awesome!


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Rubber Duck Party! **Part 1**

We threw Chloe her 3rd birthday party this past week. It was tons of fun – both for me to plan and for her and her friends to enjoy. Chloe’s bathroom is awash in rubber ducks and that seemed to naturally segue into a perfect party theme for a soon-to-be three-year-old.

I’ll go more into party details in the next post (including some pdf printables), but meanwhile, here are some wonderful photos of the big event taken by my talented friend Greta:

Marshmallow pops

Party water bottles

3 tiers of rubber duck cupcakes

Peanut butter cup “mini-cupcakes”

The treats table

 

 

More of her photos can be seen here.


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Dear Leo, 2-months old

Dear Leo,

You are 2 months old. We had your well-child check-up was this morning. It went well (despite the dreaded immunizations) and I am happy to say that you are as fine and healthy as any two month old could be.

A few things about you right now:

  • You smile! (this one is my favorite)
  • You most often sleep in two hour stretches at night, wake up to nurse, then fall back asleep (much better than when you’d want to stay up and play!)
  • You favor your left side. You prefer to keep your head in that direction and seem to kick that leg more.
  • You do not like a wet diaper.
  • You weigh more at your 2mo check-up than your sister did at her 3mo check-up.
  • You’re losing your precious newborn hair. I like to say I’m going to have a little Danny Devito on my hands. 🙂

Lastly, here are some photos of you taken during the past two months, hanging out with people who love you:

Mama coming in for a kiss
Lounging with Daddy
Playing with Big Sister
Sleeping with Grandma Sandy
After bath with Grandma Mai

I love you so much sweetheart. Keep growing, learning, and being healthy. And try to get a little more sleep at night. 🙂

Love, Mama

Leo stats as of August 8, 2011:   Height 1′ 10.5″ (34.09%)   Weight 12lbs 4oz (64.20%)   HC 15.24″ (21.58%)
Note: The scale actually read 12lb .04 oz (not 4oz), but I didn’t dispute what the nurse had written down.


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Another Year

I am officially another year older today. I was pleasantly surprised by the many cards, phone calls and texts I got today. We didn’t do anything special, although I did use the excuse opportunity to order a new pair of mary janes for Chloe that I’ve been eyeing. We also stopped by the dollar store for some festive mylar balloons – one birthday, one congrats (for the hubby), and a princess balloon for Chloe. She is really enjoying them.

There is a lot to look forward to this year – a new addition to our family, a new addition to our home, a job change for the hubby, and who knows what else. I have so much to be thankful for… even if it includes a few more wrinkles! ♥


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Party!

As you can see from the photos, Chloe’s first birthday party was quite an occasion! The partygoers included Chloe’s friends Lorenzo and Ava. Besides the toys, the toddlers enjoyed a baby snack bar of peach and strawberry yogurt melts (to match the orange and pink theme, naturellement!), apple puffs, and animal crackers, and for the adults we had a gourmet cheese plate including my new favorite bucheron. We also hung crepe paper streamers in a doorway which I thought would only survive a few minutes, but instead actually stayed intact the entire time. Maybe the rip-and-destroy technique is more for the two-to-three year-olds? It was a lot of fun watching them plow through and laugh, and having the paper fluttering out behind.

Chloe’s cupcakes were tahitian vanilla bean with cream cheese frosting and meringue toppers. I even tried spelling out her name with some success. Despite my fears, she didn’t get sick from eating/playing with her cupcake, although it probably helped that most of it fell to the floor after a short time. And, thanks to the ‘net, we also took advantage of this free birthday hat download (see top photo) and a tutorial on how to make-your-own scratch-its so we could give out party prizes/favors (who thought that adding dish soap to metallic paint could be so fun?!).

I keep going around in my head how Chloe won’t have a single memory of this important event. But, of course, David and I will. Perhaps someday she will look back at photos of her childhood and see how much fun she had. But most of all, I’ll just want her to know how much she means to us, and that she is wholly and truly loved.


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Dear Chloe, 1 year old

Dear Chloe,

You are one year old today! Happy birthday my love! What a journey it’s been, especially for you!

As of today, you have two bottom teeth plus a pearly sliver of a top left tooth. Your eyes have lightened just a bit from previous months, but are still that smoky grey that is unique to you. Although active crawling is your main form of transportation, just this week you’ve begun to amaze us by briefly standing up on your own, and even taking a few tentative steps. You love to walk holding onto one of our hands, and will reach out in an unmistakable way to let us know that is your intention. You point at things, you babble, and your smiles never fail to make me smile, too.

Some things you enjoy in particular right now: feeding yourself, bath time, opening drawers, going outside to play, unrolling the toilet paper, petting Barkley, watching the fascinating antics of other babies and kids, and exploring anything new that you haven’t been able to play with previously.

Another big change this week is that I think you are beginning to wean yourself. At bedtime and during the night you are fine to nurse, but during the day you are usually not interested. Since you are underweight and small for your age, it concerns me a little. You drink very little and barely take a sip of formula or whole milk whenever I offer it. You are beginning to eat better though, so I’m trying to be as smart as I can with what you’ll eat.

To celebrate your birthday today we went to the zoo.  You were a little tired because we got a late start, but you really liked the trout exhibit, the playful otter, the lorikeets and especially the baby elephant swimming and splashing in his pool. Lucky for you we got a family pass with some of your birthday money so that we can come back again and again.

Thank you, my dearest little Chloe, for bringing me joy, teaching me patience, and giving me the miraculous experience of motherhood. I love you SO much, and just know that the upcoming year will be full of adventure for all of us.

Love,
Mom

Chloe Stats at 1 year: Height 2’4″ (15%) Weight: 17lb 6oz (3%) HC: 17.52″ (31%)

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