Thursday, October 28, 2010

Birthday, Round Two

Fair warning: this is a mega-post. In fact, I have my computer propped on the window-sill with the window cracked open so that the 37-degree air will keep my computer from over-heating as I download all these pictures (yes, we have a crappy computer.) This was the first year that we planned a big birthday party. (Last year Topher had no idea what was going on so we kept the celebration within the family as to not disorient him even more.) It was SO MUCH FUN to plan this for my little boy. Not only would we talk about the party and tell him how many days more until the fun, but he seemed excited. This only fueled me more, causing OcTopherFest 2010 to take over my house. The theme was Choo-choo: I'm turning 2! We chose this because Topher has recently discovered a love for Thomas the Train and all things with wheels and whistles and funnels and fireboxes. I will not detail the month of planning that went into this but will instead skip to the very best part: the actual party. Which townhouse is it? They all look the same...oh wait, that must be the place. Because our bank accounts are not especially overflowing at the moment, I made some of my own decorations. This train border was drawn on plain computer paper with my crayons and markers. This is why is looks like a 5th grade project. I love it anyway.
This is my favorite part. We start with some home-made caramel apples. I will not tell you what my first round of caramel apples looked like or, because of that first failed experiement, how last-minute these were.
The cupcakes. I opted for the simplicity of cupcakes rather than trying to make a fancy cake. Maybe next year.
The dessert spread.
Okay, now for some actual food. Perfect game-day snackies.
And don't forget the beverages. (Sodor Island is where Thomas the train lives, just in case you are grossly underinformed in all things Thomas.)
The other highlight of the menu would have to be the root beer float station. Not only were the floats served in these country-style mason jar mugs, but every adult got to take one home as a party souvenir. Not bad, huh?
And don't forget the float menu. Seriously, every combination was so delicious, it was impossible to pick the wrong one. Some whole-room shots before the guests arrive. Topher took a perfectly timed nap right before the party giving me a chance to snap some photos and get everything in place. Luckily, it also gave him enough rest to be happy and engaging for the whole 3 hours. He was smiling the entire time. It made everything so worth it.
And we didn't forget the kiddos. Placed by the door were the infamous train whistle favors. We made sure they were only given out as the kids were leaving so as not to have 10 whistles blasting at once.
Now just add my absolute favorite part: the party boy. My mom and step-dad, who came ALL the way from KC for this party, thought to bring him a perfect outfit. Doesn't he look adorable??? I can't believe I get to be this little handsome man's mommy. I must have won a lottery I don't even remember entering.
Sprinkle in a lot of friends and family and you've got yourself a great party. Better than great.
The birthday cupcake. He ate it all and kept his outfit clean to boot. That's my boy.
Topher and Daddy playing with the birthday balloons.
The enormous pile of gifts. Topher LOVES presents. (He inherited that from me.)
The day was just perfect. I could not have asked for anything better. Later, after the choas died down and we cleaned up a little, Topher continued to have fun playing with all his new trains.
This is the gift TJ insisted on getting for him...his first metal tractor. Like any little boy, he just loves that green farm equipment.
Later that night, Grandma and Grandpa Clark came back to watch Topher open their gifts. He was so excited about his Curious George movie and--surprisingly--some huge winter boots that he would NOT take off.
(As an HUGE bonus to this already-great day, our little good luck charm helped steer the Missouri tigers to a win over #1 Oklahoma. It was amazing. I wish we could have been in Columbia that night!!!)
The next morning was his actual birthday and he loved playing with all his new puzzles.
Happy birthday, Topher. You are SO handsome!
TJ and I saved our big presents for his actual birthday, so after church we gave him another train set to add on to his Thomas set (a steal on Craigslist)...
and his first tricycle (another Craigslist bargain, we spent surprisingly little money on him somehow, it was really kind of amazing!)
Topher, in a word you have transformed us. Into parents. Into a family. Into a role we didn't think we could perform. And for me, into a life I couldn't have known to wish for. Into someone I never could have otherwise been.
Thank you for coming to us. We love you. Happy two years.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Birthday, Round One

For Round One of Topher's birthday we headed to KC last weekend. We thought it would be easier for all my siblings that way since they have more kids and don't make it to Iowa very often. First we took Topher to Crown Center's train-themed restaurant called Fritz's. There are trains that drive along the border of the ceiling and when your food is ready the train will drop off its "cargo" at your table. A pneumatic lift lowers the box containing your food order down to table level. It's very fun. And when my mom whipped out a cupcake for Topher, I think he was just in trains-and-sugar heaven.
We were lucky because both of my brothers joined us with their families, which meant that Topher had SEVEN cousins there to celebrate with him. Pictured here with Topher from left, clockwise: Mar-Mar (my mom), Capri, Anders, Rome, Topher, Ammon, and Sable. Cousin Aubrey and cousin Oz were both out of the shot.
Then we took the Sky-walk over to Union Station. I love Kansas City. It will always be home to me.
When the Sky-walk was closed for renovation just before Union Station, we hauled down to street level and got there the old-fashioned way. Please note my undying loyalty to my home team displayed here.
The next day we went to Olathe, KS where my sister and dad live. My dad made Topher a cake and he enjoyed it most thoroughly.
It was a WONDERFUL weekend that, as always, went way too fast. But I had to get back to Iowa because Topher's birthday party was not going to come together on its own...
Stay tuned, this one is going to be good.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Two Years

Dear Topher,
Today you turned two years old. Honestly, it feels like you have been a part of our family for much, much longer than two years. Your daddy and I don't always know the "right" way to raise you, but I promise we are giving you all we've got.
I want you to know something. I want you to know that we need you and we love the person you have become. Your cries can sink our home into stormy clouds, but your laughter can pull us back into the sunshine. We constantly wonder about you, worry about you, and beam with pride over your accomplishments.
I cannot imagine our home without your toys scattered about, your sippy cups piled up in the fridge, or your tiny clothes in the wash.
It took us several months to start feeling like we were real parents, and those first months were rocky ones for us. We were scared of how tiny you were, and we were scared to take you out of the house for fear that you might get sick. I can see now that we were being a little silly, but if someone were to rewind the clock, I can't think of a single thing I would do differently.
To the little person who completely overwhelmed us...
I just want to tell you that we are completely overwhelmed with our love for you.
Love always, your mommy
P.S. Birthday posts to follow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Do I sew? That's a no!

So the party favors arrived for Topher's party (wooden train whistles, what else??) and while he was napping today I was busy making party favor bags out of Thomas fabric. This is no small feat for me as I DO NOT SEW. My sewing machine was a hand-me-down with no manual. I had to go online and download a manual for a similar machine and use that as best I could. So if you are one of *those* people who CAN sew please don't make fun of me and certainly don't look too closely at these pictures! Just a quick rundown of what I did: I cut (without measuring or special tools...just the kitchen scissors and my eyes, which is probably why nothing lined up right!) 4 pieces of fabric for each bag--2 small pieces for the handles and another two larger pieces to form the front and back of the bag. I sewed the little pieces in half to make handles. Then I sewed those handles to the insides of the larger pieces. I sewed the front to the back, turned it right-side out, and stuck a train whistle inside. Voila! This took me 2 hours. I made 12 bags in order to get 10 usable ones (there were 2 casualties.) I almost lost part of a finger, I had to use pliers once when the material got sucked into the machine, the cat was constantly trying to run away with my thread, it took me 5 bags to realize I was using something called a "stretch stitch" that kept getting the thread all jumbled, Thomas nearly got punched in his ever-smiling face, and the sewing machine almost became the victim of a hate crime. But I did it, wonky as some of them may be. I really am something sometimes. --KC