Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I love holidays. I live for them. They make me feel like a kid again. And I especially love celebrating holidays with my children, making them big and special and memorable, dragging them out as long as I possibly can. Instead of one measly day for a silly holiday like Halloween, we string it along for days. Here is our Halloween 2012.

The Costumes.
Spencer was Lightening McQueen from the movie Cars. I got his costume off a Facebook selling page over the summer for super cheap. Ashton reused Spencer's old giraffe costume that I had bought off ebay, also super cheap. I'm part of the camp that it doesn't make sense to spend a bundle on a costume that will be worn only a few times.

The Parties.
Last weekend we attended a few parties. Saturday Spencer and I headed to a nursing home, where we played games, ate cookies, drank juice and then paraded down the halls collecting candy from the residents. I grinned each time Spencer shouted thank you in his little boy voice after the candy landed in his plastic pumpkin bucket. Sunday the whole family went to the YMCA for another party, this one slightly disappointing to us adults, but the kids seemed to enjoy themselves. Spencer collected some candy from a broken pinata and we spent some time hitting sticks on big rubber drums.

The most exciting party, though, was Spencer's preschool one. Tuesday morning my little giraffe and I joined Lightening McQueen and his class for a festive party. We played games, sang and danced along to their favorite songs during circle time, and passed out treats. I happily pawned the remaining gift bags from Ashton's birthday party off to the whole preschool class, along with some candy.

Circle time.

The School Day.
Since Halloween fell on a week day, we decided to still treat it like any other day and attended "outside school." Unfortunately (or fortunately, whichever way you want to look at it), everyone else was too busy doing their Halloween stuff, so we were the only participants this week. Spencer ate up the attention of the two teachers he's known for a few years now, Miss Chris and Miss Sheila, and we enjoyed the brisk afternoon at a deer Halloween costumes, of course.

The Great Pumpkin Painting Project.
Every holiday calls for a project, or two or three or more. We've done our fair share of Halloween projects already, but I couldn't let the actual day itself pass without one final one. I whipped up a batch of homemade edible paint so Ashton could participate and then took precautions to protect my house from too much of a mess. This was Ashton's first experience with paint and I think he was a fan, perhaps a future Picasso on our hands. Well, OK, so maybe more ended up in (and on) his tummy than actually on the pumpkin, but everyone starts somewhere, right? As for Spencer, my seasoned painter, even he enjoyed this pumpkin painting activity. He covered every single nook and cranny of the pumpkin with a few layers of the homemade paint before he finally agreed to jump in the bathtub with his brother.

The Trick or Treating.
We ended the holiday Trick or Treating. We live on a small cul-de-sac, which is very convenient when bringing small children out on a chilly Halloween night. Ashton made it to a handful of houses before he grew antsy, cold and tired. Dave retreated home with our little giraffe to pass out candy while Spencer and I hit up every single house on our street. By the end of our trek, Spencer struggled to hoist the plastic pumpkin up to collect his candy, but he refused my help to carry it, declaring he had big muscles. He very much enjoyed the sacred holiday tradition of going door to door, yelling Trick or Treat and then receiving treats.

Trying to con his way into eating just one more piece of candy.
Tonight as we tucked Spencer in bed he told us that next year for Halloween he wants to be Mater from the movie Cars, so he can tow Lightening McQueen, which I'm guessing is Ashton in another recycled big brother costume. Hmmm....we will just have to see what next year brings.

Posing with their painted pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ashton is One.

I simply cannot believe that one year ago this was my little man--

And now he is a whole year older. I'm not quite sure how a year flew by without me even realizing it, but now my baby isn't quite a baby anymore.

Everyone knows how much I love birthdays, so of course I didn't skimp on Ashton's big ONE. I invited every single person we know (almost literally, I believe) and Spencer and I worked hard for weeks getting all the decorations ready for Ashton's party. 

First we set to work creating giraffe and zebra print paper for the birthday banner. For the zebra, we rolls balls dipped in black paint around on white paper. We painted brown spots on yellow paper for the giraffe print. Later I cut out circles and letters to create the banner. Then we did the same thing on paper lunch bags to make the party favor gift bags.

The decorations came together nicely; I wish I could say the same for the actual decorating. You see, the day before Ashton's big party when we had planned to decorate, he spiked a fever of nearly 103. Instead of dropping the boys off at a friend's house and escaping for a few hours to decorate and then grab a nice, peaceful lunch with my husband, as planned, we spent most of the day at Urgent Care. Hours later we were told he might have an ear infection and prescribed medication. We did manage to decorate later that night, but it was with two cranky kids and two stressed parents.

Unfortunately Ashton didn't get to enjoy his big party since he still wasn't feeling well. He started the day off playful, but went downhill as the day progressed. He spent most of his party cuddling and snoozing in various party guests' arms. It was still a good party, though. 
The cake was made to look like a giraffe using a number one cake pan. There's a smaller giraffe for Ash's smash cake.
Zebra and giraffe print cupcakes.
Decorations also included tables lined with paper and cups of crayons to color. And balloons with pictures of Ashton clipped on the ribbons.
The All About Ashton table displayed a Growth board showing his growth with the big bear over the course of the year, scrapbook, guest book and other framed photos.
Party favor bags.
Birthday boy in his birthday shirt.
Grandma Keeha.
Making their own edible necklaces.
Enjoying the benefits of an edible necklace.

Aunt Hopey.
Trying to enjoy his party.

Snuggles from Great Grandma Smith.

Taking a quick snooze on Grandma Amy.
Party favors.

Birthday song.

Daddy time.
Aunt Hill.
After the party we went home and Ashton and I cuddled for a few hours while he tried to fight the raging fever. He couldn't quite seem to break the 104 temperature that spiked later in the day, so we made a trip to the ER. A few hours later, we were back home with not much more knowledge than when we arrived, except to find out his ears weren't infected but his throat was red. A popsicle, a bath and a whole bunch of meds later, the fever finally broke about 2:00 am Monday morning. The nasty virus still stole my easygoing, fun-loving, playful son Monday and Tuesday, though. Finally, Wednesday he showed signs of the Ashton we all missed. (Oh, and I learned a very important and valuable lesson: if a medication is supposed to be refrigerated, you should probably put it in the fridge!)
Spencer reading to his sick brother Monday morning to make him feel better while I force fed him meds in applesauce. Ash is holding the giraffe Spenc got him for his birthday, now named Mack, after the semi on Cars.
Opening the gifts from the party.

Some of the gifts. Thanks, everyone!!!
His actual birthday was Tuesday. We have a tradition in our house where we light a candle at each meal and sing Happy Birthday. Since Ash was sick and slept through a few meals, we only managed a breakfast candle and an afternoon cupcake one.

Then Tuesday night we snuck away for a birthday supper with the paternal grandparents. Nothing special--no gifts or cake--just a quiet rendition of the birthday song before hurrying home to put the tired birthday boy to bed early.

Wednesday night was Ashton's big "Re-celebration" party, where our good friends, the Zeisels and Fravels, came over to try the whole party thing over again, this time where the birthday boy actually enjoyed himself. We ate food, opened gifts and ate cake. And, boy, did Ash eat cake!! First he leaned his head down to lick off the frosting. Then he decided that wasn't working, so he picked up the giraffe smash cake and, well, smashed it into his face! The video below shows the licking part. Out of the five kids in our circle of friends, Ash is the first and only one to actually smash the cake...and it was priceless.

Ashton had his one year well check-up today. He is 19 pounds (5%) and 29 inches long (25%). I grow them small, folks. I had a discussion with his doctor regarding his sunken chest (pectus excavatum), and she will be referring us to Mayo to see a specialist. This is both scary and enlightening since no parent wants to put their child through testing and face the possibility of (gasp) surgery, but we'd rather educate ourselves now and do whatever is necessary for Ashton's health and future.

I will end this lengthy birthday post with Ashton's latest growth pictures: 12 months (I am still in a bit of denial on his age).