On June 6, six days before movers would descend on our flat to pack up our things and ship them to America, a small group of four-year old princesses came over to celebrate Hannah’s fourth birthday.
For Jayce’s first birthday after we moved to London we had his party at Snakes and Ladders, with a small variety of handmade “superhero” favors and details. Last year, we had his party at home. I wanted to do something relatively inexpensive but fun, and I DIYed it to the max with a Lego theme throughout and he loved it. I’m sure that there are plenty of kids who don’t care one way or the other about details, but he got excited about each of the details so that made it fun for me too. It was just right but it was a LOT of work. Lots. This year, well before his birthday, I asked what he wanted to do for his party and started subtly planting seeds for him to have it at Snakes and Ladders again. I found out I was pregnant in late March (I think?) and my lack of any energy whatsoever further confirmed that we would not be throwing a party at home.
Luckily Snakes and Ladders had a 2 million pound renovation last summer, so it is pretty legit, and he was excited to have a party there this year. Read More
The next picture (below) is blurry because she is literally jumping up and down over this new dress. She kept saying, “Daddy, can I wear that purple dress?!”
But it was good, and so was the icing.On Sunday Chris and Jayce went up to Regent Street to Hemleys which I’ve talked about before when we let Jayce play hooky, and they picked out this museum break in set, which Jayce then built in less that 3 hours. He loved it so much.And that was that. A simple but great birthday for my favorite little guy.
Next we moved inside for a lunch spread, I put blankets down on the living room floor and we all had a carpet picnic.
The final clue instructed them to find a a huge yellow brick, which was full of goodies that they had to smash down. 🙂
I made this video for Jayce the month before his 4th birthday, but never finished it. We were in Florida on his birthday that year, which turned out to also be when Chris interviewed for and received a job offer in London. Needless to say, when we got home from vacation, finishing the video fell slightly below “pack up the house” and “get ready to move to another country” on the to-do list. I finished it today, but didn’t add any new videos, so this is the slightly younger version of our singing, smiling, dancing machine.
I am so far behind on blogging now that every time that I think about trying to catch up, instead I just do something else, which just ensures that I fall further and further behind.
I have to start somewhere, so I will. Here is an abbreviated list of some of what we’ve been up to. And the pictures are all iPhone pics, so that should give you just a little further idea of how swamped we’ve been. Anyway, here’s a little about each of us…
In October Chris had his inaugural lecture at SMUC. It went great, and not just the “got us choked up” dedication to me at the beginning. 🙂 It was well-attended, a good introduction to his colleagues of what type of researcher he is, and I was so happy to be able to meet so many of his colleagues. There was a reception afterwards and I told him later that I felt a little like the princess at the ball, everyone wanting to congratulate him and tell me hello. My cheeks hurt from smiling all night. You can see a quick recap and the video here.
Another official SMUC event in October was the delivery of sweets to dad’s class by Hannah. This was the first year that Hannah went without Jayce but she was not the least bit flustered by it all. (You can see Jayce’s first year of doing this here, when he was 5 months old.) We did not have an official costume for Hannah yet, so she went in her chef costume from last year, which worked just fine, though the hat was a bit snug.
The funniest part of this experience was that Chris’ office and classroom are in a large old building, so echoes down the hallway sound rather formidable. Whenever we heard a door bang shut or some other noise from down the hall, Hannah would freeze, gasp dramatically and then declare, “Ahhhh! A dragon!!” You never do know what you’re going to find in these old buildings.
For Chelsea and I’s birthdays, which are a week apart, we kind of had a combined, 3 weekend long celebration of sorts. For my birthday Chris and I went to Westfield mall, which is the largest mall in all of Europe and totally incredible, to see a movie, have dinner, and do a little shopping just us two. The weekend of Chelsea’s birthday we headed in town to the Science Museum, Bennihana for dinner (which Jayce loved), and then Chris went home with the kids and Chelsea and I stuck around for a fashion show and official lights on event on Regent Street.
Leona Lewis, a few Spice Girls, and a few others were performing, and then they had several celebrities switch on the lights, including Phil from Modern Family. 🙂 The first two times didn’t work, which was pretty funny, but once they switched the lights on there was fireworks and lots of accompanying excitement. It was fun. It was certainly not something we’d do every year, but it was a cool experience and a good night.
The next weekend Chelsea and I got our birthday present, which was a dual trip to a salon in Kew that we have been talking up a storm about. The owner of the salon trained with the guy who invented the famous Jennifer Anniston “Friends” cut, and is the only person in England who does a “dry carving cut” which is what I received, and Chelsea got the works as far as color treatment. It was cool. When Mark was doing my consultation I noticed that most of the people in there were just kind of watching him. He was very much a performer, a bit like getting my haircut by Mick Jagger, but I do like it. Chelsea’s color was awesome and her guy was great, so she is saving her pennies to be able to see him again, and has already declared that any of her friends that come to visit have to go see him. But really the best part was just the experience of it all, and totally fun to go do with Chelsea. 🙂
Last weekend there was a Christmas fair at South Street, which is the shop where I mentioned that I am selling my things, and also is the main reason that I haven’t been able to blog about anything. It was roughly 3 weeks after my initial launch of the kids things, and after a re-order of giraffes, so I have been cutting, sewing, and gluing up a storm to get ready for it. It went great and seemed to be a real success.
Along those lines I also finally re-opened my Etsy shop with a small variety of Christmas goodies. Preparing for the sale at South Street and doing all of the photography, editing and listing that Etsy requires has kept me very busy.
Jayce has sprung into Christmas pre-shopping mode, so we decided it was time to start his allowance. He doesn’t get much, but we thought it was a good way to remind him about the whole “you can’t get everything that you want” prioritizing that everyone needs to know about, particularly before the Christmas toy ads hit the tv.
He made this list himself one morning before school and taped it up along with a pencil to check off items as he does them. (I love how it’s all written. 5 year old phonetics just kills me. 🙂 I added a few to the bottom that aren’t really chores but things to work on, like “getting dressed without crying.” (Mornings are tough, aren’t they?)
( 1. Helping cook, 2. Putting on shoes, 3. Clean up, 4. Helping the house, 5. Tidying legos, 6. Putting clothes away.)
This seems a little crazy, lots of information in a perhaps-too-long post. But at least now we are a little bit caught up. 🙂
Hannah, on her second birthday.
Chris and I have lived away from our families for every one of our kid’s birthdays, and because of this I’ve had to kind of re-think how to make birthdays special. When we were little, my parents would have little (or big) parties for us at our house, where family and close friends would come over, we’d eat, have cake, the kids would all play, open presents, etc. Nothing extremely fancy, but a good time, and it instilled a “family comes over to celebrate when it’s your birthday” thing in my mind, I’m sure like many other people have as well.
When Jayce turned one we had family parties for him. He is the first grand baby on both sides of the family, so he had a fun first birthday party with each family when we were in their respective towns. But for his second birthday, Chris and I decided that we were going to have a little “let’s celebrate being a family” celebration, in lieu of a traditional party. We would do something fun, hang out just us, go eat dinner at a place we all liked, and just do a few small gifts. I’m pretty sure we took him to Olive Garden, because he loved it and so did we. 🙂
For Hannah’s second birthday this year, we did something similar.
We hung out and had a lazy morning. We gave her a few small gifts, let her play for a bit, and then bundled up with a picnic and headed to Kew Gardens.
Her gifts were pretty simple. Bubbles, because, you know, BUBBLES!! Does it get any better for 2 year olds?
I made her this baby doll, which ended up being a little “Hannah Doll.”
When she unwrapped the doll, it was in a box with a piece of fabric over it like a blanket. She snatched up the fabric and snuggled it to her cheek as the doll fell to the floor and said, “Aww, pretty blankie.” But it’s okay.
I got her this little wooden make up set since she is constantly getting into my non-wooden one right now. It was precious, with each piece of makeup wrapped in white tissue paper, and the whole set in a little white suitcase. We all played with it and got makeovers.
She had received a few gifts in the mail from Grandpa Brad as well, well-picked Iggle Piggle items. (Yes, he got a few pointers.) 🙂
Then the rest of the morning was spent playing.
And sneaking a few sips of Chris’ (cool) coffee.
I knew this was coming. When I saw her pick up the cup, I made the decision to clean up the mess instead of stop the mess. It was too cute and I already had my camera out.
It’s rough when it’s your birthday and you get to do whatever you’d like: Put makeup on dad, drink coffee, wear high heels, and play in the sink. It was a good day with our little peanut and our big peanut.
I am a gift-giver. I think I’ve said that before. Even when I was little I would sometimes get in trouble for using all of my birthday money to buy people’s Christmas presents, but this is how it is when you have a November birthday.
But when it was a week until Hannah’s birthday and we had already decided what we were going to do and get her to celebrate (super low-key), I decided to squeeze in one last thing. Despite initially thinking that I wanted to pick out special fabric for the doll’s clothes, I decided that I had to use what I had on-hand, which made it a little bit of a game too. But I ran out of stuffing after doing just her arms, so the doll cost me about 5 pounds, and I still have 3/4 of a bag of poly-fill left.
But I think it was worth it. Don’t you?
I loosely used this pattern, but added a seam allowance, and changed the hair to look more like Hannah’s shoulder-length curls. But then I gave her a neck, which seems to be a rag doll no-no, because then their head is top heavy and flops around a but. And it made the supposed-to-be shoulder-length curls into chin-length curls, which wasn’t what I was going for. But I still like it.
Hannah did too.
Actually, she saw it partially assembled on my desk one day, when the head was attached to the dress, but it wasn’t all sewn together or stuffed. She said, “Ooooo. Pretty baby dress!” before I covered it up with some papers, so that counts.
When she unwrapped it on her actual birthday, it was in a box with a piece of fabric over it like a blanket, and she snatched up the fabric and snuggled it to her cheek as the doll fell to the floor and said, “Aww, pretty blankie.”
And it couldn’t hold a candle to the bottle of bubbles that I got her. Of course. 🙂 The rascal.