Happy Half Birthday Everly Veda!

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With a birthday that falls so close to Christmas, we always make an effort to celebrate Everly’s half birthday - which also fall on a major US holiday - July 4th! Even with all of the events usually surrounding the holiday weekend, we’ve always managed to do something to make the day extra special for our dove. 

You will never meet a kid more obsessed with birthdays than Everly. She asks us regularly how long until her own and talks for days about her friend’s and family members birthdays. She reminisces about birthday parties like they were week long vacations. She has memorized all of our birthday months and likes to announce who has one coming up next. She told every person she encountered on Friday, “Today’s my half birthday!” Even the halfs are important to this girl!

A few months ago, I found this pink guitar for $12 in a thrift store in Jacksonville, Florida while I was visiting one of my best friends. I snatched it up and hid it in our basement with the intention of giving it to Everly as a future gift.  Every half birthday, we give our kids a little sweet treat and a small toy to celebrate the occasion. This year we celebrated by making unicorn poop cookies (go ahead and click on that link, you know you want to make them too!) and a BIG gift with a reasonable price tag. 

Everly absolutely loves her new guitar and has been serenading us ever since. Brent plans to make her a guitar strap out of ribbon and hopes to teach her a few chords this summer. 

I look forward to sharing all of the fun of our July fourth holiday on the blog this week, but wanted to write a special post for our big four and a half year old first. 

Love,

M

So I will leave them here instead.

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I walked into a typical scenario in my bedroom a few weeks ago. Everly was standing in front of the big mirror, my hat on her head and her arms full of scarves she had collected from a basket in the corner.

She was wearing a top that was once one of her favorite dresses before her legs grew too tall. It now required pants underneath, but somewhere along her path that morning, she had discarded them. 

I stood in the door way and watched for a long time as she acted scenarios with her reflection. She told secrets too low for me to hear and made dramatic facial expressions and said things like, “We have to hurry! Pick out you fanciest outfit before they get here.”

I love this age of wonder and imagination. Where every day she switches characters at least a handful of times. Where every hour requires a new costume. Where sometimes, if I’m lucky, she asks me to play along. 

Despite a shelf full of princess dresses and funny hats and masks in our playroom, it is my accessories that she is most drawn to. The distinct sound of my shoes being shuffled across our old hardwood floors as she teeters in them is something I wish I could wrap up and tuck away in the box I keep of her treasured things. 

At every stage, there is a specific, defining memory that comes to mind as I reflect on my children’s growing up. At almost four and a half, for Everly Veda, it is moments like the one above. A little girl, wobbling across my bedroom floor in a pair of my heels. Her imagination accompanied by the blur of colorful scarves and the whispered conversations shared with the friend on the other side of a smudged mirror. 

These moments fit in no box, and so I will leave them here instead. 

Love,

M

Tags: Everly Veda

Five Awesome Things…

Five Awesome Things About Arlo at 2 years, 11 months. 

1. You are the most affectionate kid. Over and over all day long you love to say, “Mommy, I love you” or “You the best mommy!” and you tell daddy and Everly the same thing too. You will stop playing, run over and hug us, and then hurry back to whatever you were doing. 

2. You have become completely obsessed with super heroes. After a solid year of a cars and trucks love affair, you’ve traded them all for action figures.  You love Iron Man the most, followed by Spider Man, The Incredible Hulk and Bat Man. You just discovered Captain America so there has been a lot of talk about him lately too. You can’t get enough and love watching the young superheros shows on Netflix or running around our house in a cape, fighting crime and saving us all from bad guys. Daddy reads you superhero comics from the library and you sit there, enthralled with all of the details of each character. 

3. I find this hilarious, but you can not stand for your hands to be dirty. Your face can be covered in food but you will ask for a napkin almost immediately when we start eating and insist on wiping your hands whenever you get anything on them. I find you in the bathroom all of the time, standing on the toilet lid, playing in the water. You will often look up when caught and say, “I washin’ my hands!”. You literally could be covered head to toe in mud, but as long as your hands are clean, you are good to go. 

4. You are really into singing Old MacDonald right now. Except you like to freestyle and come up with new lyrics. According to you, Old MacDonald had some friend, had to poop, and ate a chicken on his farm recently. You love to laugh hysterically at your silly lyrics. 

5. A few months ago, you went through a stage where you were stuttering a lot. You would get really frustrated when you were hung up on the first word in a sentence. I called your pediatrician and she suspected that you were just working through a big verbal milestone. Sure enough, a few weeks later your stuttering lessened significantly and you started using bigger words and sharing more complex ideas with us. I have really loved watching you develop your language skills, Arlo. It hasn’t always come easy to you but you work so hard and always wow us with your determination.

 5 Awesome Things about Everly at 4 years, 3 months

1. You are the best dancer ever. I am not saying that because I am your mother, even though I fully admit to being biased. You just move in this incredibly weird, amazing, soulful way. I could sit and watch you move to music for hours and I often do. We have you in ballet right now, but I don’t care if you ever decide you want to go the classically trained route. I just hope you never ever stop listening to whatever it is inside you that takes over when you are dancing. It is so pure and true and wonderful. 

2. You are growing into such a wonderful companion. We spend a lot of time together each week just running errands and bopping around town. You are so easy to be with and I love having you along because you listen well and behave yourself. You are four years old and to this day, I can say that you have never had a public tantrum. Never once. You’ve definitely had some monster meltdowns in the car or at home, but bless your heart, you’ve spared me in public. I never hesitate to bring you along because I always enjoy having you there with me. 

3. You are really absorbing so much around you. We have intentionally waited to start any kind of formal education with you and have focused on exposing you to creative, free play as long as possible. Despite that, you’ve learned to write your name, your brothers name, and many letters and words on your own. You love to use words like “similar” and “hilarious” when you describe things. Last week you asked me a question and I answered with “potentially”. You asked what that meant and I explained. That night I asked you to please join us for dinner and you responded, “I will potentially be there after I’m done playing with my babies.” I had a good laugh, even if I didn’t like your answer. 

4. You are obsessed with your birthday. It’s a joke between your father and I now, because you bring it up several times a day. Usually you like to tell us what your next birthday party is going to be like, but sometimes you tell us who you want us to invite or what kind of cake you plan to have. You always know whose birthday is coming next in our family and you remind them for weeks leading up to it. 

5. You are still my fierce and fiery girl, but as you have transitioned into four, that crazy emotion of three feels like it is lessening with each passing day. Good gracious three was crazy! But I can really see you maturing emotionally and you’re ability to recognize your feelings and express yourself continues to grow. It’s hard sometimes, when it feels like you are running head first into the boundaries we set - but you make choices and do little things all of the time that remind us that you are growing up to be a phenomenal girl. 

It’s time for another episode of Everly’s cooking show! We shot this a month ago, but I’ve been swamped at work and haven’t had a chance to edit it. Since a lot of the North East was hit with snow again this week, this may be your last chance to make a delicious wintery treat. (let’s hope so - good gracious longest winter ever!)

I let Everly watch the finished video this morning and she said, “Whoa! I am really good on this show.” ha! Always humble, that one.

Enjoy!

Everly’s Cooking Show.

Perhaps all of those rainy afternoons of watching the Food Network with me has finally rubbed off on my daughter. She’s been entertaining us with her own “cooking show” a lot lately, so I thought I’d get it on film. I edited this after she went to bed last night, and I can’t wait to show it to her.

A couple things to note:

1. We had just finished playing with a face painting kit Everly got for her birthday, hence all the fun face decor.

2. I told Everly she could start using a butter knife when she turned four. This was literally her first experience with one and for timing sake, I had to cut out about four minutes of her slowly sawing that poor piece of bread. I tried so hard to stifle my giggles -it was the cutest thing! Last night I let her chop the garlic for spaghetti and she did a great job, so she’s picking up her knife skills pretty quick!

3. She has asked me every day when I am available to film her next show. So it’s possible these might become a little series. I’m totally following her lead here - I have no idea what she might want to make next!

Bon Appetit!

Love,

M

Everly Veda Turns Four

My girl is four. Four sounds so officially “little girl” to me. I have watched my daughter grow from an infant to a toddler to a preschooler, and now when we cuddle up together, I can barely believe she was ever the tiny babe I study in photographs. As the years have gone by, her birthday has been something I’ve tried to make really special and specific because it comes right on the heels of Christmas. I never want her special day to get lost in the blur of the holidays.

This year, we started talking about what kind of party she would like to have back in the fall. Everly’s very favorite bedtime story is The Princess and the Pea. We have read it together so many times that both of us can recite the words with our eyes closed. When she told me she wanted a princess party, I wasn’t surprised. The princess phase has been a long one in this house.  ”I want princesses like in the pea book and a tea party!” She told me. So off I went to figure out just what that might look like. 

Everly had been in a state of anticipation since we took down on our Christmas tree. She knew her birthday was next on the list and she could not wait to celebrate.

This year, we nixed the monster sized party we usually host for a small get together with a few of her little friends. Five girls and their mothers came over last Saturday morning to celebrate.

We hosted it upstairs in our playroom and I pulled out all of the random, mix-matched china that I’ve collected over the years. 

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I was able to reuse a ton of stuff from last year, including some of the big tissue paper flowers and the Happy Birthday banner. The tissue paper centerpiece, tulle banners and all of the fun costume jewelry came from BirthdayExpress.com. For her party, I bought some different clearance section fabrics at my local fabric store and wrapped books up to look like a stack of mattresses. I made a little pillow, blanket and ladder to complete the look. I also used the remaining fabric scraps to make the fabric banner over the window.

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Everly requested “pink lemonade cupcakes”. I’m not much of a baker  and had no idea how to make them, so I decided to use yellow cake mix and add strawberries to it. I made homemade lemon curd buttercream on top and decorated them with little gummy “mattresses” (from trader joes) and “peas” (green chocolate sixlet candies) and paper cutout princesses from Meri Meri

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I had two crafts set up for the girls. The first was a decorate your own crown  with rhinestone stickers and the second was stringing “pea” beads onto a bracelet. The girls loved the crowns but they weren’t really interested in making the bracelets. 

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I kept the menu to kid friendly foods - turkey, ham or chicken salad sandwiches, orzo and pea pasta salad, fruit wands, kettle korn, and carrots with dip. We served sparkling pink punch to drink (pomegranate juice & sparkling pink lemonade). It was so nice having the moms there because each could make a plate for her little girl and help supervise the meal. The girls had so much fun toasting one another while they ate. 

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For the grown ups, I served champagne and strawberries and we ate while the girls finished up their meals. We also had Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen tunes blasting the whole time. 

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Each little friend came over wearing her favorite princess look. It was so adorable to see them all, gathered around the table together in sparkles and tiaras. Everly’s beautiful princess dress is available here. (She has worn it nearly every day since) 

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We sang happy birthday to Everly and then gathered around for story time. The Princess and The Pea book version that Everly and I usually read is really short and to the point, but while searching around on Amazon, I found a Princess and the Pea story that had awesome reviews and gorgeous photos (here). I bought it, thinking it would be great to read at her party. Turns out it was WAY to wordy for the group and one by one, the girls wandered off to play during the story.

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About four pages in, I was cracking up that there was only one little girl and all of the moms paying attention, so I paraphrased the rest of the book as quickly as possible. They all cheered loudly as I said, “THE END!!”  

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My friend Amaree is a beautiful violinist. She is the reason that Everly has become smitten with the instrument. Amaree graciously agreed to play a few “royal ball” songs for the group and that had Everly scurring off to get her own violin so that she could play along. It was the cutest thing to have Am playing these beautiful classical songs while Everly’s little violin was scratching along next to her. At the end of the performance, both girls took a bow.

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One group picture before the fun ended. I think the moms had as much fun as the girls! We sent each little princess home with a goody bag full of jewels, a tiara pen, and a scented lip smackers chapstick. 

We continued the party later that evening, with a big pot of chili and tea party leftovers with family. 

The next morning Everly draped herself across my legs and looked up at me. “Mama,” she said, “yesterday was the best day of my life.”

While all the princess party decor was fun, I know the real reason for her joy was being surrounded by so many people that love her. What a wonderful day to celebrate our sweet girl.

Happy Birthday Everly Veda!

Love,

M

 

A 2013 Photo Collection: Mylah & Everly

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As much as Natasha and I love one another, it is often our girls who push us to put our busy lives aside and take the time to just be together. Mylah and Everly hound us incessantly to see each other. The way they greet one another every single time they meet is like watching puzzle pieces snap into place. They run at full speed, arms open and calling out in high pitched joy. Two parts of a whole, finally reunited.

I don’t know what the years ahead hold for them and I can only imagine all the ways their friendship with change and shift as they grow up - but I am certain they will always love each other in a way few people ever get the chance to experience. They were sisters to one another even before they knew their own siblings.  One day they will realize what a gift they have been given - to know another soul so thoroughly, to love them so tremendously from the very start of your life. 

Love,

M

Hey Sis, Gimme A Little Smooch.

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Little Traditions.

Our nation’s birthday is also Everly’s half birthday, and with a birth date so close to Christmas, we make it a point to celebrate the halfway point each summer. We sang happy birthday and presented her with a cupcake and a small, special gift. This year the day included a pink cupcake complete with a little princess crown. 

I asked Everly if three and a half felt different than three and she said yes. I asked her how and she said she knew bigger words now, like “Behold”. I told her that it also meant she was getting too tall for all of her dresses. “Well, that’s good news!” she said back.

It is good news. How lucky we all are to watch her grow.

Love,

Tiny Dancer

I helped her pull her arms through the soft pink leotard with a little lump in my throat. The moment felt important. Soon after, she stood on our front porch, arm on her hip and as I clicked the button on my camera, I knew I was capturing so much more than a photo.

Everly’s first ballet class.

She has been waiting for this moment for over a year. I searched high and low until I could find a dance studio that had a weekend class for three year olds. Most of them only offered classes on weekday mornings and with my work schedule, I wasn’t going to miss a single one.

She had received some dance gear for her third birthday and she loved dressing up in tights, leotard, tiny leg warmers. It was when we tried to put on her brand new ballet slippers that I realized they were already too small for her. In January, her aunt Janet gave the slippers to her, purposefully buying a half size too big so that she would have plenty of room to grow and they still didn’t fit. We put on a pair of little white shoes in her closet that would have to suffice until I got her a bigger size.

If ever there was a reason to blog - to capture all the little moments - it’s the constant reminder that this stage - my tiny, pink-clad girl with her hair piled high on her head - will be gone before I’m even done soaking her in.

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We got to the studio and Everly followed the little group of girls into the room where her class would take place. The teacher announced they would be learning ballet and tap. For some reason I had missed the tap dancing part on the class description when we signed up.  While Everly participated, I spoke with the receptionist and learned there was a box of used dance shoes in the corner of the waiting area. I dug through and found a pair of little tap shoes in great condition, a whole size larger than she wears now and was tickled to pay only $5 for them. Let’s hope that she grows slowly enough that they last her through the summer.

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When it comes to dance ability, Everly has strong genetics working for and against her.  Brent’s sister, aunt, and cousin were classically trained ballerinas who danced for years. Even Brent himself was a ballet dancer for a large part of his youth.  But me… I am the exact opposite of graceful. My mother put me in a ballet class when I was a little girl and I basically made funny faces and ran in place for the majority of the class. She pulled me out and put me in gymnastics instead.

I’ve been curious to know which route our Everly would take.

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I peeked through the window, a smile on my face, as I watched her concentrate on her teacher’s directions. She skipped and hopped and shimmied and shuffled. She was so enthralled that she never looked up to wave at me - not once. She was having entirely too much fun.

It’s too early to know if she will develop a passion for dance, but I suspect that with practice, her genetic scale is going to lean heavily to the naturally rhythmic and graceful side of her family tree.

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And this little guy was so patient during her class… Standing on the bench occasionally to look in and point out sissy, but mainly entertaining himself with a dump truck and toy plane. 

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My tiny dancer tip toed out at the end of class, glowing. Her first question: “Can I come back next week?”  She has asked me every day since how many days until ballet class again.

I was up late on Saturday night, scouring the internet for the best deal on size 8 toddler ballet slippers. Something in my gut tells me I better get used to it… I suspect we are going to be buying dance shoes for years to come.

Love,

M

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