Sunday, March 16, 2014

Birthday Preparations!

My baby boy turns two in about two and a half weeks. TWO. So, not a baby at all anymore? He's officially been a "toddler" since he started walking at 10 months, but before two, they're still kind of a baby, and I'm sad to let go of that. I can't believe how the time has flown.

I feel like I was just in the stage of sleepless nights, new-mom worries (is he still breathing??), endless diapers and burp rags, and spending every moment fussing over him, even though he didn't really do much. Any other moms remember how busy you feel when they're newborns but look back at two and wonder why that was? I think the lack-of-sleep clouds our perspective! And the practically full-time job of nursing doesn't help. I miss those days now, though. I look at him and can't believe he was ever that tiny, helpless, beautiful bundle.

By two, you're (hopefully!) getting a full nights' sleep regularly, but that's a blessing since you're so exhausted by the end of the day from avoiding catastrophes, moderating tantrums, cleaning up crumbs and sticky little hand prints, playing "cars" or "dinos," and trying to keep up with such boundless energy! It's tiring, but it's so much fun, and I'm in still in awe of each milestone, each "first," and each new word (or complex, matter-of-fact sentence) that comes out of his mouth.

Okay, I'm pretty sure I'm going to cry on April 4th.

But on to the fun part of this upcoming second birthday -- the party!  I've planned several parties and events: our wedding, several bridal and baby showers, and three high school dances. But I have to say, kids' parties are the most fun! I enjoyed doing Jacob's Very Hungry Caterpillar First Birthday Party last year, and I've had lots of fun so far this year, too.

We're just doing a small gathering, mostly family and a couple of his best toddler buds. I can't help myself when it comes to the party-planning, though; I love designing and decorating things (hence my Etsy shop), so the party may go a little overboard for such a small group...oh well! We're having a Curious George party, since George is one of Jacob's favorite characters lately, and PBS's Curious George is his favorite show (he starts each morning watching an episode and drinking his "milky"). I chose primary colors that coordinate with the classic George books (red, blue, yellow, white), and I think the party is going to be adorable :)

Here are some of the fun things I've been working on:

1. Invitations

It all started with the invitation. I had so much fun designing it, and it became the inspiration for the entire party, as I think is common. Here's what I came up with:
Like what you see? I can create a custom invitation for you, too! Just see this listing in my Etsy shop. Please note that I cannot post this exact design in my shop, due to copyright issues (I can't sell anything with a character graphic since I don't own the characters). If you provide the graphic(s), however, I can design the invitation (I found this George graphic here, on a site with lots of free character images).

I had them printed on, and they turned out great! I love that Vista Print allows you to upload your own entire design, prints a full-color back if you choose (so I used the yellow chevron), uses a nice, matte card stock, and includes envelopes! This is not a paid endorsement -- I just like VistaPrint (and I also got a Groupon for it!). :)

2. Banner

My next project was a birthday banner. Buntings are super popular lately as decor for parties, showers, and holidays, so I thought I'd try to create my own pennant flag banner! I designed the flags to match the invite (and posted the design in my shop, here), and then I used blue card stock, little gold brads, and some ribbon to create the banner:

3. Chalkboard Sign

Anything "chalkboard' is also en vogue right now, and I've always loved the look of a chalkboard. I design a lot of "chalkboard-style" items for my shop, and it all started with Jacob's first birthday chalkboard sign last year. After seeing similar designs on Etsy, I thought I'd try to make my own "birthday favorites" sign for his party. This was the final product (and I've since sold lots of them in my shop -- a favorite design to do!):


I printed it at Walgreens last year (just like an 8x10" photo) and put it in a frame, but this year I'm debating about either doing the same (but printing at home on card stock for a more matte look) or printing it larger -- we'll see!

I want to make this a tradition, since I put a copy in his baby book and love the idea of having a "snapshot" of all his favorites, height & weight, etc. from each age! So, I decided to design this year's chalkboard with a border (also listed it in the shop), to match the invitations, banner, etc., and here it is:

I'm done with plugs for my shop now, I promise! I just wanted to link everything, so that it's easy for people to find my designs if they're interested in similar party items without the work of doing it from scratch! But I do have a few more party details to share that aren't for sale :)

4. Two-Year-Old Photos & Banner:

For Jacob's first year, I did little monthly "photo shoots" to get these adorable shots which became his first birthday banner:

Well, any mother of a toddler knows that those photo shoots get increasingly difficult at around 8-9 months, and are virtually impossible in the second year! So, I've taken much fewer "photo-shoot"-style photos this past year (I say that because I still take a million day-to-day shots of Jacob, as anyone who knows me can attest to and/or mock me for). I did do a couple at Christmas and some at Valentines day, but I wanted to make sure to do a shoot for some real, "two-year-old" photos, so that we could look back and remember him at exactly two! I ended up taking them about three weeks early because we were getting new carpet and I had an empty room with the perfect light and a white wall for a few days, but it was close enough! 

I used the banner above and some other Curious George props we had (since he loves George we had plenty, like books, a stuffed George, etc.), and he wore an adorable shirt my mother-in-law made for us! I'm so pleased with the results:

Isn't he a sweetheart? 

I loved so many of them that I wanted to make a photo banner like last year's, but just with the two-year photos instead of monthly shots. I may need to remove a few photos (I used 15 4x6 prints) because it's pretty long:

Here are some pictures from the process, in case you want to do something similar: 

All you need (besides the photos)! You could use twine, ribbon, etc., but I had yarn on hand.
It helps to lay it out and center the yarn before starting, so you know you'll have enough.
Cut extra yarn length if you want to tie knots to keep the photos in place, like I did.
Simply punch holes in each top corner of the photos and string them together, tying knots in each hole as you go.

5. Party Supplies

Finally, my designs and decorations are all planned and created, but you can't have a party without coordinating supplies! Here are some of the items I've bought to use for the party. They can be found at Party City and Walmart. I have a few more surprises up my sleeve, but I'll do another post of how it all came together sometime after April 5. And then I'll be whining about how I officially have a two year old. Crazy!

Kudos (and thanks!) if you've read all of this insanely long post :)

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