penny’s 3rd birthday

I promised myself I wouldn’t go all out for penny’s 3rd birthday, especially since I had spent so much time, energy, and money on Ezra’s 1st birthday. but, it just isn’t me to not find an excuse to stay up late party planning and making decorations.

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penny doesn’t really love anything else as much as minnie mouse; but since she had already used that theme for her 2nd birthday party, I didn’t want her to reuse it. I settled on the unicorn theme which is really whimsical and quite popular.

to make the backdrop, I purchased a package of diy paper flowers from Michaels. this particular brand is recollections, and I had read bad reviews – difficult to follow illustrations, no written directions, requires a lot of tape/adhesive – but as they were the only kind Michaels sold, I purchased them anyway. they ended up being 60% off (regular price $19.99 for four flowers) maybe because they’re being discontinued? I couldn’t find any other diy paper flowers at Michaels – online or in store.

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the flowers were… time-consuming. I thought I would be able to whip them up but I spent quite a bit of time staring at the illustrations to make sure I had the correct size petals and that I was assembling them properly. in the end, I winged it because I really couldn’t figure out some of the steps! (recently, I also began rewatching random episodes of one of my all-time favorite shows, the office, so that’s a huge reason why I took so long in getting things done!)

I purchased green, black, lavender, and gold glitter card stock to make the leaves, eyelashes, ears, and horn respectively. I just traced them freehand and cut them out. I used a thick gold calligraphy pen to draw in the leaves’ veins to make them look more realistic. for the unicorn’s ears, I had white card stock at home that I used for the inner part of the ears.

the party room’s walls are bright shades of highlighter orange and lime green so I bought two plastic white tablecloths for a white backdrop. unfortunately, the tablecloths weren’t thick enough to hide the colors and designs underneath but, at least, most of it was covered. (I had looked up the party rooms online in advance to see how they looked.)

the party favors were diy unicorn horns made of funmallows (mini flavored marshmallows). I purchased the styrofoam cups and 5 bags of funmallows from target. (I only ended up using 3 bags for 21 unicorn horns.) the cone shaped plastic bags were purchased from Michaels.

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I also purchased the unicorn tablecloth, straws, and napkins from target. good ol’ target – I also found penny’s unicorn t-shirt in the girl’s section (size xs). the unicorn headband along with the unicorn cake topper were purchased as a set from amazon. the pink tutu was a gift and the polka dot pants are from carter’s.

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for those of you that know penny, she LOVES to jump so having her birthday party at jump off trampoline park was a no-brainer. lunch was included in the cost – pizza and pink lemonade – however, I wanted the kids to have other options in case they didn’t want pizza or wanted snacks. the trampoline park has a strict policy regarding outside food besides cake and cupcakes, but an employee informed me that if snacks are included in the goody bags, they can’t say anything. perfect! my husband assembled separate goody bags – this time, in gold and white paper bags – with an applesauce pouch, goldfish crackers, and a sticker packet in each one. thank goodness because penny barely ate the pizza (like we knew she wouldn’t. she only had a few bites of the crust.)

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the unicorn cutouts are from Michaels

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the cakes were almost a disaster. I had one cake ordered from big y, a small New England  supermarket chain, because I didn’t want to spend almost $100 on a fancy cake like I did for penny’s second birthday and for Ezra’s first birthday. well, supermarket bakeries have their limitations as we know. I just asked for a simple, 10-inch white cake with lavender, teal, and pink flowers cascading down the back for the unicorn-themed party. the cake wasn’t tall enough in my mind for the unicorn decorations. plus, it was my fault in asking for “happy birthday, Penelope” to be written on the cake. the baker didn’t know where to write that since I had told them I was going to use a cake topper; so it was written on the side where I needed to put on the eyelashes.

after Dennis told them we weren’t pleased with the cake, we just got a smaller (and taller) one from the display and the baker quickly piped on the flowers. the manager told Dennis they normally wouldn’t accept our request because it’s too detailed for them. we ended up getting the other cake for free. it was actually great that we had two cakes because we needed both to feed 18 children and some of the adults!

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although I stayed up until 5am (and laid wide-awake in bed for an hour and a half) finishing up the party decorations, I had a really wonderful time making them. I don’t know if it’s because I was watching the office but I wasn’t feeling stressed or anxious. Dennis did wake up around 4am wondering why I was still up. he ended up coming downstairs to help me finish the details. ❤ Dennis and my mil also were kind enough to watch the kids while I took a nap on the couch for 2.5 hours later that evening.

I received a lot of kind words from the guests that day regarding the decorations and the party itself. the kids really enjoyed jumping on the trampolines and eating cake together. many of the parents thanked me afterwards for inviting them and we all remarked how the kids would have a great nap when they got home. (they did.)

the party’s over and done with, and I’m glad. but I did enjoy putting it together for penny. I hope she remembers how much fun she had that day.

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thanksgiving & birthday weekend

[12:30pm] i love my birthday because it usually falls around thanksgiving weekend so the festive mood from the holiday continues on to my birthday. sometimes my birthday falls on thanksgiving day which makes it even more special.

this year, thanksgiving got off to a rocky start. i got into a car accident on wednesday evening. i was craving pasta so i ordered dinner for the family (including in-laws) from cheesecake factory and i drove by myself to pick it up. i wanted to drive because i looked forward to the quiet time i could get in the car. dennis was working until 10 that evening so i decided to drop off food for him.

what should have been a half hour ride turned into an hour because of the holiday traffic. i don’t think it would’ve been that bad had there not been two accidents on the highway. at one point, three out of four lanes were closed which caused much of the delay. by the time i picked up the food and was on my way to dennis’ pharmacy it was already 5:30. i texted my mil to tell her to feed penny whatever food we had at home for now since i was going to be late.

as i drove down the local roads of west hartford i felt annoyed that i was running behind because of the accidents on the highway. i noticed a man pushing a stroller up his front walk, and then i looked forward just in time to see a minivan had stopped in front of me. i cursed and slammed on the brakes, but i plowed into the car anyway. the man with the stroller whipped around at the noise of the impact but i was busy trying to salvage the containers of pasta that had flown out of the bag. thankfully no food had spilled onto the car floor but the damage was done to my car. the grill was snapped in half and broken bits were scattered everywhere.

i knew it was my fault and i braced myself for the other driver’s reaction. a young woman stepped out and walked over to my car. then she asked worriedly, “are you okay?” i hadn’t been crying before because i was in shock but her kindness and genuine concern started a waterfall of tears. i kept blubbering on about how i was sorry and that i’ve been so tired lately that i zoned out. she kept reassuring me that as long as we were both okay, that it was fine.

it was only after i stepped out to inspect the damage to both cars and took photos with my iphone that i realized i was nearly 5 months pregnant! i wasn’t in any physical pain and i wasn’t going fast enough for the air bags to be deployed, but i was still concerned for the baby and i shared this with the other woman. she was troubled by it and even told the police officer that had arrived to report the accident.

it took quite a while for the officer to do the paperwork, and while the woman and i stood out in the cold we talked about where we are from (she’s originally from west hartford but has been living in baltimore) and what our plans had been that evening. i told her how my family had recently visited maryland to visit my brother-in-law and his wife. i even recommended the restaurant founding farmers to her. clearly, it isn’t ever ideal to get into a car accident but i am so grateful that the other person involved had been so understanding and gracious. she was on her way to meet a friend for dinner and i had ruined those plans, but she was still so positive about everything. she explained that she had been in my shoes a few months ago and knew what it was like to have to worry about dealing with insurance and the other driver. i had been in accidents where the other person was at fault and though i certainly never screamed or lost my temper, i don’t think i was really that understanding.

after almost an hour after the collision, i continued on to dennis’ work. he was only a half mile away! he knew what had happened because during all of the chaos i had called him to let him know. after talking to him and dropping off the food i was finally on my way home where the entire family – including crystal and dan – greeted me anxiously. i was fine, i was fine, thank the lord; just relieved to be home with the family.

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thanksgiving day was spent cooking all day but it was worth it. initially we had planned on driving up to massachusetts to celebrate with my side of the family since we had not been able to do that last year. however, we reconsidered after thinking of the traffic (two years ago, it took us 3 hours to arrive at my cousin’s house) and how we would only spend two hours there and then have to drive back again for penny’s bedtime.

it was eight of us including penny and yuri – a relaxing evening in the comforts of our own home. i tried to be festive by making a thanksgiving banner and hanging up fall-themed artwork created by penny. although the food was delicious – crystal contributed by making mac & cheese and helping me with other tasks like flower arranging – it was really time spent with the family that i appreciated. we never get to see crystal and dan this often and it was great being able to see them in maryland and then here for three days the week after. we will see them next at our pastor’s wedding in february.

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the boys playing mortal combat x

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the spread!

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homemade pumpkin cheesecake pie

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macarons and mini cupcakes from baked by melissa

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praying for the meal

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we got chicken instead of turkey

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penny dancing while everyone cheers – this picture was from two days before thanksgiving

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having fun playing ping pong

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we went to a tree farm on saturday morning to get our christmas tree. it was easier when penny was 6 months old which is when we got our tree last year! since penny is mobile, she just wanted to walk and do her own thing. it took an hour to get a tree! i spent most of the time chasing penny and reining her in while dennis searched for a tree and cut it down. i did choose the final tree though!

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my birthday celebration on saturday evening was relatively low-key with dinner with close friends at a burger joint. i forgot to take a group photo  😦 alice, john, and grace couldn’t make it to the games portion of the night but most of us moved on to dave and buster’s. i had forgotten how fun that place can be although saturday nights are not the best day to go since there can be a wait for certain games. i even played pump (korean version of ddr) with my pregnant belly and all. i used to play with my brother when he was younger – he is like a pro – so i can dance to some of the harder modes but boy was i out of breath at the end!

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my sister brought a lovely assortment of cupcakes from boston

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raspberry mousse birthday cake from giuseppe’s in south windsor

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my brother (james) compared to my sister (jen)

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the highlight of that evening was definitely my sister and brother driving down from boston to spend the night. my brother actually lives in la now but flew home for thanksgiving weekend. it had been quite some time since the three of us had done something together so i was extremely happy that they had both made it. plus, they were able to see how much penny had grown and spent time with her as well.

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sunday morning before church – penny liked the small basketball we got for her from d & b’s

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penny likes watching us cook

on my actual birthday, i was scheduled for a 10am ultrasound and anatomy scan. dennis and i found out we are having a B O Y! the technician asked us if we wanted to know and dennis blurted out that he could see the penis so there was no denying it! thanks to genie, we had decided on popping a balloon filled with appropriately-colored confetti to reveal the sex. i even brought scissors, tissue paper and ziploc bags with me so i could continue cutting the confetti. of course i stopped cutting pink ones after we found out the results. by the way, i had done research about the confetti-balloon reveal and many women recommended cutting up confetti using tissue paper because it’s light enough that it’ll float nicely for the photos. the store-bought ones are too heavy and would probably just fall instead of flying around for a greater effect.

after the appointment we stopped by party city and the employees stuffed two black 24-inch balloons with sky blue and royal blue confetti; then they filled them with helium. we also got a regular white balloon for penny to play with. when we arrived home, penny was napping and we ate lunch with my mil. we were going to do the reveal after penny woke up so mil went home for a few hours and we rested. a little before 3pm, both parents came over and we went onto the field to take a the first round of photos. we filled two balloons in case the first photo shoot didn’t come out well. we also had mil practice taking pictures by holding down the shutter button on the iphone so she could take consecutive pictures rapidly.

the pictures on the field came out nice enough – especially our reactions – but it was too bright so the color of the confetti was difficult to see. we changed locations to our driveway where the shade and the white doors of the garage made for better photos. i ended up holding penny because it’s difficult to get a toddler to participate in photo shoots, really.

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the photo collage we used for our announcement

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we really would not have minded if we were going to have another girl but having a boy is wonderful too! so many of our friends and family commented that we are lucky to have one of each – which i suppose we are – but we all know health is #1. when i met with my ob after the ultrasound she said everything looked great which is not something she gets to say often (usually only once a day). she said nowadays that any little thing can be considered a “high-risk pregnancy” so to give us good news was great for her as well.

that evening, dennis and i enjoyed a quiet dinner at market grille. we ordered a bunch of apps from the happy hour menu and i indulged in a blackberry-pomegranate-ginger soda. we had planned on going to the movies afterwards to watch arrival but we were both tired (and wanted to watch the missed episode of the walking dead) and felt bad that we would be coming home late since mil was watching penny as usual. we ended up stopping by dave & buster’s to play a few games ( we ended up with over 1,000 tickets) and kept the tickets so we can save up to get a really good prize for penny. 🙂

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sorry for the terrible quality – snapchat photo

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it’s no wonder after that eventful week that i’ve been tired… tired enough where i can actually fall asleep during penny’s nap like i did yesterday. i thought i would close my eyes for a half hour and i ended up falling asleep for an hour! i sat upright immediately after realizing it was 3:30 and penny was still sleeping (almost 3 hours!) so i got up to wake her. let’s see if i can squeeze in some shut-eye now…

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