How Are You 4?!

How are you 4?! For every tear I cry over how quickly time passes us by, there’s a happy tear right behind it for the excitement I feel for the next day & the upcoming years… How many memories we’ll make & how I know every day from here on out has purpose bc you’re in it! Your mommy & daddy are so proud of the kind, smart, confident, beautiful little ladies you are.
Just a few ways you’re growing up as we’ve hit FOUR:
  • Dressing yourselves completely – Kara Rose, you often say to me, “Mommy, please leave the room while we change, so we can introduce ourselves when we’re all ready.” (You slowly walk out like a princess or tip-toe out like a ballerina and we “Ooooo” and “Aaaahhhh” over the very creative nicely put right? choices you’ve made)
  • Cleaning up your room – Zoe, you specifically love to make your room look like ‘artwork’ rearranging your toys & animals every night before bed so it looks just right… You actually consider it punishment if we tell you it’s too late to do your room.
  • Letting the dog in & out and help feed him.
  • Getting your own silverware out of the drawer – again, Zo, you love to set the table for everyone & make it look pretty (seeing a pattern)?
  • Basically don’t want me to help you do anything, washing you in the bath (insert the Scrubba Dubba Dance), brushing your teeth (although I must), picking out any part of your outfit at any point (pjs, play clothes, church & school clothes)

 

Current favorites: Color purple, all fruit, animals, playing soccer, break-dancing, reading, mommy cuddles, watching TV/movies, telling your sister what to do.
Kara Rose: Your kind, nurturing heart – you love to make sure everyone is cared for & cry if you think you hurt someone’s feelings or accidentally hurt your sister. However, you’re so smart that you also love to correct people (even adults) and you take the leadership role in every scenario, but you’re already the kind of leader I want to be because every time someone needs to step up & be the bigger person, it’s always you. You already have incredible work ethic & are extremely tenacious. You tell me you love me SO MOOOUUCH every chance you get and promise no matter how grown up you get, you’ll always be my angel. I pray you always remember that taking the high road & being kind is the best way to live life, even though it’s a tough path, my sensitive one.
Current favorites: Color pink, taking pictures, flowers & butterflies, ballet, drawing, taking care of baby dolls, your sister.

 

Zoe: You’re so wild & rough, yet you want to know just the right way to hold and care for your baby dolls. You’re so hard on yourself & get mad if you don’t get something right the first time. You hold my face in your hands and tell me I’m beautiful. Every night in bed, you whisper secrets in my ear and usually you say “I will always love you.” or “You are God’s little princess.” You live life with abandon, my nature-loving, free-spirit – I pray that you hold onto every ounce of it.
Most of all, you’re truly best friends and love each other and everyone around you.  I think you’ve got the “Love God & love your neighbor” thing down – don’t lose it, it’s a tough world out there. You both already know that God loves you & Jesus is your best friend – that’s all you need to remember… and that Mommy loves you bigger than the whole world.
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Easter: Celebrating Hope

I keep saying Easter is one of my favorite holidays, but the older I get (no doubt it has so much to do with being a mom now – realizing the importance of raising these little hearts with an eternal perspective) it’s really become my #1 favorite holiday.  No, it’s not because of the bunny or egg hunts and all the other activities, which are most definitely super fun without the stress & expectations of Christmas, or that with Easter comes spring… *Oh how I instantly feel a lift in my spirits when the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and we’re (all 4) riding down the road with our arms up singing “Hands in the air like we don’t care!”…

 

But no, that’s not it.  To me, Easter is the definition of Hope.  Easter is when God’s promise was fulfilled.  Just when darkness thought they won, they had been defeated in the biggest way… You know the feeling you get when you get to prove the naysayers wrong?!  That’s the victory Christians felt the moment Jesus had risen again and defeated death, proving He indeed was the Messiah, our Savior!

Because of the resurrection:
  • You & I can pray knowing God hears our prayers.
  • We can live knowing there is life beyond this life.
  • You can sacrifice knowing your faithfulness matters
  • He proved he was who he said he was… our Lord & Savior.
Explaining it to Little Ones
This can seem pretty difficult to talk to little ones about, talking about death and all, but it shouldn’t be… that’s not what we’re celebrating.  We’re celebrating that he conquered all and lived again.  So this is how I easily explain it to The Kraze: Easter reminds us of the day Jesus saved the entire world… and they excitedly ask, “Like a superhero?!”, to which I reply, “Jesus is the #1 Superhero!!!”
I leave you with this… and hope that you’ll take in each word:
Alone in my sorrow dead in my sin
Lost without hope with no place to begin
Your love Made a way to let mercy come in
When death was arrested and my life began

Ash was redeemed only beauty remains 
My orphan heart was given a name
My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance
When death was arrested and my life began

Oh your grace so free
Washes over me 
You have made me new
Now life begins with you
It’s your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with you

Released from my chains I’m a prisoner no more
My shame was a ransom he faithfully bore
He cancelled my debt and he called me his friend
When death was arrested and my life began

Our savior displayed on a criminal’s cross
Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost
But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand
That’s when death was arrested and my life began 
That’s when death was arrested and my life began 

Oh we’re free free
Forever we’re free
Come join the song
Of all the redeemed

Yes we’re free free
Forever amen
When death was arrested 
and my life began

 

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Insight on Our Trip to Disney: Turning Three

It’s always been a dream of mine to take my children to Disney World (I never went as a child). With the combination of ‘free under 3’ when I’m used to paying double for everything & their love for all things Mickey & Friends and princesses, we decided this was the best time for their first trip, and if I may say so, it was the perfect time. There is a fairly small window between being old enough to know the characters & being able to handle the exhaustion excitement and being young enough to truly believe & be wowed by all the magic, which was the best part to witness.  You’ll see…
Warning: extremely photo heavy post – and this is actually highly paired down!
If you want tips and details on how we planned our trip, head over here.  
To see behind the magic of it all…
We drove in on a Saturday night, after their birthday party, so we decided to stay our first night in The Castle Hotel (much less expensive than staying on property, yet a seriously great start to our trip) It looks like a white castle & all the staff referred to The Kraze as ‘Princess’ the entire time, what more could you want?!
We slept in to recover from our road trip and party madness the day before… ate breakfast by the pool, opened a few presents from Grammy & Pops & got a good nap in before heading to Disney.

Day 1: Epcot (half day)

Walking into our first park, the cool touristy mom, with my camera and map ready game face on!

*Tip: I totally recommend making a stroller sign to hang on the handle bars so you can easily spot yours in the sea of strollers.

We decided Epcot would be the perfect park to start off with just a half-day, as there really isn’t much for their age group here, but in my opinion, the best way to set the tone for the trip.  Starting with a meet & greet with Mickey & his friends was absolutely perfect. 
I mean just look at this beaming smile!

Day 2: Animal Kingdom all day

You might notice a theme throughout: Kara Rose is being held in almost all the character photos.  She absolutely loved them… until they got close. Then she would hide behind us.  She’ll literally tell you, “I’m just a little bashful.”  That’s ok my little girl, you own it!

Zoe’s little thumbs in the corner of this pic…
My best attempt at getting a photo of our shirts I made.

Not surprisingly, she favored the rides, and would say “Higher!” “Faster!”


And this is how they felt about me taking their picture by the end of the day… and by that, I mean after lunch.

After nap (yes, we got naps in every day!)…

Look at that brave girl going to Baloo all on her own…
King Louie really wants a hug from you too…
Aaaaannnnd… she ran, but was happy to pose for the picture as long as someone held her!

But wait!  When she’s in her element (pretty much anything to do with singing & dancing), she’s as brave as they come.  She was actually IN the show and went around the entire stage on her own!! 
I cried I was so proud and happy for her! 
Again, no shocker, she favored the shows & Festival of the Lion King was probably our favorite.

He was thrilled I made us shirts!

Best attempt at getting them to both smile for the camera together before leaving Animal Kingdom.
*Tip: These bags were perfect for carrying their autograph books & pens!

Day 3 (AM): Hollywood Studios 

Anxiously awaiting her breakfast with Doc @Hollywood & Vine

A surprise dance party with her very favorite, Sophia!
This smile is what I was talking about. I mean Zoe = cloud 9!

Holding out her princess gown for Sophia
Sully & Mike Wazowski are consistent faves so we just couldn’t miss them while we were here!

Where else would we be with this level of excitement but the Frozen Sing-Along?!

How can I not include a pic of Daddy kissing one of his girls?!
Sometimes he’s just as difficult as the little ones!

Day 3 (PM): Magic Kingdom

Of ALL the things to do at Disney, the carousel was one of their favorites.

Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner @ 1900 Park Fare

She was quite smitten with Prince Charming! Kara Rose was too “bashful”.

I mean the utter joy…
*Tip: If you’re celebrating a birthday, wear your birthday badge everywhere you go & you’ll get one of these – breakfast, lunch & dinner.
Her name means ‘life’ and she’s full of it. Her favorite person to make laugh is…
her sister – her biggest fan.
Day 4: Magic Kingdom all day
After 4 days and 1,000 pictures later, this was the best I could get… and it was only breakfast (which happened to be our favorite)
We had to carry that cupcake umbrella around with us the entire day (yes, even at breakfast they get cupcakes at Disney).

 Then Pluto came up and wanted a bite…
He just got it all over his nose, then thought my face would be a good place to wipe it off.

But was nice enough to clean it off for me… The Kraze definitely thought it was funny.

The Tea Cups were definitely a favorite – I lost count how many times we rode them.
I’ll just say, you only know how funny this is if you know my dad. I’ll also say, grandparents will do just about anything for their grandchildren, especially this Pops.
*Tip: The Birthday Badges got them in every show they wanted to be in.
We went to the pool back at our resort for lunch & fun before nap time, since we knew it would be a late night…
Dinner at Chef Mickey’s!
This is real life guys… bbq sauce on my elbow and didn’t even know it… or that Mickey was right behind me.
Zo obviously really enjoyed her gazillionth cupcake of the trip.
This was right before Wishes started at 9:45PM, and they were still going strong(-ish), thanks to all the continued excitement… and sugar from the cupcakes.

Day 5 (Last Day/Half Day): Magic Kingdom:

*Speaking of the birthday badge, Peter Pan noticed them from the stage & shouted Happy Birthday to them in the middle of the show!!
This was the best thing we just happened upon! 
You should actually schedule it in so you don’t miss it!
Tinkerbell had to have been our favorite character.  She really interacted with the girls and took a lot of time with them.

We ended our trip with a relaxing picnic on the lawn while the Festival of Fantasy Parade (in the background) went by.
There’s no way you’ll squeeze everything into one trip, which is really great because you leave feeling filled with happiness but plenty more to look forward to for next time… in a couple years. Whew!
The Kraze celebrating three at Disney see what I did there? was truly a dream come true for all of us!
For tips on planning your time in the parks (how we didn’t wait in a single line more than 10 minutes) & how to make the happiest place on earth even more magical, stay tuned for the next post!
?Do you have any special Disney memories or tips to share? Please let us know in the comments (I’m sure this won’t be our last trip)!



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Valentine’s Day Party with a Purpose: Sharing the Love

I happen to love Valentines Day.  I LOVE love and the reminder to set time aside to show those we love the most. Of course, it’s easy to show our children how much we love them, but are we teaching them how to love others?  There are two things that 3-5 year olds totally understand: 1) Superheros and 2) wanting to feel loved. I’m a sucker for the children in children’s hospitals and their parents, and it was easy to explain that there are children in hospitals that have real battles that they bravely fight every day, which makes them REAL Superheroes… and we want them to know they’re not alone & they are loved.  We’re so thankful to Henri’s Bakery for hosting us and their ah-maz-ing treats.  Keep scrolling to find out what they were and see all the love-ly details and a couple free downloads at the end!
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Two Shades of Pink Birthday Party

So The Kraze’s 2nd birthday party was a week ago and I’m so anxious to see those photos!  I can. not. wait. In order to keep myself from stalking our photographer (who said I should have them this week, so stay tuned), I decided to do a little reminiscing of the 1st birthday party.

Much like the name of this blog, the theme for their first birthday party was ‘Two Shades of Pink’.  There was so much significance put on this FIRST birthday party.  To all you haters who think, “They won’t remember it.  It’s more for you than for them.” Boo-ya!  One day, they will see these photos and (hopefully) think I was AWESOME!  They will see the effort and hard work put in.  They will see all the people that showed up because they love them. Ok, and I love to plan parties!

 

 

 

See below for tutorial – easy!

We’re so blessed to live in an AH-mazing neighborhood with a great park within walking distance.  We reserved the pavilion, which also happens to be pretty awesome! The party was set up around the three-sided fireplace in the middle of the pavilion.  That’s right – no standard rectangle of a roof with just a bunch of picnic table sitting underneath!

 

Everyone took their mason jars home and filled their bags with sweet goodness to their heart’s desire for party favors!
*Notice the straws in two shades of pink!
Note about tablecloths… If you plan to host more than one party, you should buy, not rent – way more cost effective!

 

Balloons in two shades of pink… catching on?!

 

These were the letters we used for each cake at our reveal party – it’s those special touches people.
Maybe I’ll go back even further in time to recap this special event?!
                                             Baby A                                                              Baby B

 

 

A kiss after her birthday song!
Although they share a birthday, we feel they deserve their own birthday song, so we’ve made the tradition of singing to them individually.  Naturally, big sister goes first!

 

One banner made of ovals & the other of penants – We don’t match, we go!
 
First taste!
We gave them a few bites of sweets over the couple weeks leading up to their party, so they wouldn’t be completely surprised by the sweetness! They liked it!

 

 

Kara Rose REALLY liked it!
Someone stuck the ‘1’ cookies in the demolished smash cakes!

After clean up, we stepped away for a few family photos!

 

 

A year later, my little ZoZo still loves the camera!

 

Just look at those chubby cheeks and, as Zach would call them, her ‘wrinkle bracelets’!

 

 

Aren’t we a fun bunch?!
We’ve gone back & forth on whether to open their presents during their parties in the future.  When you see the pics from this years party, you’ll see we decided to do it again after several comments from guests saying they didn’t like it when the kids didn’t open their presents because they wanted to see how they liked their gift and what all they got.
What are your thoughts?
 
Aaaand like any 1 year old, Kara Rose is eating her package in the background.

 

Clapping for a super successful first birthday party!  We are so very blessed with such loving, giving friends!

Details:

Vendors:
‘My First Birthday’ onesies – Mudpie
Boots – Frye
Cake: Sweet N’ Sinful – Decatur, GA
Plates, napkins, plasticware, balloons – Party City
Favorite Things Chalkboards: Etsy – MoulageCollection
Photographer: Friend, Victoria Hurst

DIY:
A & B letters Future Post
Burlap & doily backdrop – Pretty self explanatory, but let me know if you want more deets!
*Cake Stand – My seriously awesome, hard-working, loyal & loving husband and dad cut this from a stump we took from a historic tree that had to be cut down in our neighborhood. I wish I could link to them here, bc this was no easy task!
Mason jar drinking cups – Maybe I’ll share my secrets in a future post?
Mason jar glitter vases Future Post
Cupcake Liner Pom Pom click for tutorial
Rose Pom Ball – All I’m going to say is this takes much longer than the cupcake liners!
‘I’m One’ banners Future Post

Menu:
Mini ham & cheese sandwiches
Trader Joe’s Salt & Pepper chips – Dollar Tree brown paper bags cut with the top half cut off w/scalloped scissors (again, it’s the little things)
Princess Punch

Sweets/Favor Table:
Metallic gumballs
Rock candy
Frosted ‘1’ cookies

Cream cheese mints: Michaels – rose mold
–       1 box powdered sugar
–       3 oz. cream cheese
–       1 T butter
–       1 T water
–       12 drops flavoring

 

 

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