Monday, December 31, 2012

Ava's Rainbow Party!

Welcome to Ava's rainbow party!

I'm not sure what originally put the idea in her head, but Ava has been asking to have a rainbow party for her birthday for something like, six months, and I - being a Pinterest convert - happily obliged her wishes!

The original plan was to have the party outdoors at a local park that we love. For you Yankees out there, surely that sounds like a bad idea, but historically, Ava's birthday parties have been gorgeous weather (65-70!!!), so we figured we'd be fine. WRONG. A cold front like we haven't seen in a while moved into Austin this week, so we had to make the last minute call to change the venue to our house. I'm sure the neighbors were as thrilled as I felt about this change, seeing as how we had cars parked down the block. Oops.

Overall, I'm so happy with how it turned out. I'm definitely no professional party planner, but we had a great turnout and the theme really came together. We got a lot of compliments on the food and the photo booth, too :)

I could go on and on, but I'll show you instead:

The spread (sorry for the terrible lighting!):

Our taped out "Ava is 3!" rainbow sign!

Rainbow veggie platter, rainbow candy canes, rainbow straws, rainbow utensils, rainbow cupcakes and rainbow fruit skewers - oh my!

Close-up of the popular fruit skewers:

Our balloon garland:

Rainbow accompaniments:

The cake:

And, of course, some cupcakes, too!

And what's a party without some sugar to-go??

The outfit:

And don't forget the rainbow nails to match:

And, of course, the fun with friends and family!

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to celebrate with us - we're so grateful to have you all in our lives! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ava!

Yesterday, I tucked you in for the last time as a two-year-old. Today, you are three. Three beautiful, vivid, remarkable, memorable years you have been in my life, and yet it feels both like yesterday and that you've been with us forever. I cannot imagine life without you, and pray every single day I never have to. You are our light in the dark, our Heaven on Earth, and the best thing that has ever happened to us.

You've grown from this: this:

At three, you're doing so much. Your motor skills blow my mind on a daily basis. You can run faster than half the six year olds we know, can throw and catch a ball better than I can, kick with the accuracy of a mini-daddy, and climb up rock walls with ease! You can even get a few bars into the monkey bars!! Wow!

You weigh roughly 34 pounds, and are 40" tall as of last month - more than doubling your birth length! 

You're a social butterfly who loves to be the center of attention. In fact, you've made us sing you happy birthday at every meal since you woke up, which jogged my memory to several days worth of singing the happy birthday song to you last year, also. You have tons of little friends, and are quite the charmer with your "uncles", too. You love to sing, and will frequently sing your actions to the tune of popular kid songs like "Twinkle Twinkle" and, lately, "Jingle Bells". You make up the cutest words. 

You're still, despite the doctor's assurances that you'd "surely" grow out of it by three, suffering from a milk protein intolerance, though it has shown signs of lessening. You can eat baked goods with dairy products (butter, etc.) in them since the heat breaks down the protein to where you can stomach it. We're thankful for that :)

You go to preschool one morning a week, and though you fight me weekly about not wanting to go and wanting to "be with mommy all day", you're always thrilled by the time I pick you up, even telling me once that you want to go to school everyday! Your teacher, Ms. Elaine, routinely sends home reports of what an excellent helper you are and how sweet you are to the younger kids - this makes me heart so happy.

You're still taking ballet once a week, as well as gymnastics once a week. In fact, now that you're three, you're moving up to the big girl class in gymnastics, which you're excited about! You do so well in gymnastics - even doing a backflip while hanging on to the rings without any help! You are truly amazing.

Happy third birthday, Ava! I can't wait to see what this next year brings our family, and all that you accomplish and all the memories we'll make! We LOVE you!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Ode to Baba.

For the past three years, one thing has been both my savior and yet the bane of my existence: baba.

Anyone who has ever tuned in has surely seen a photograph of my sweet baby girl with her pacifier - it is certainly her most prized possession. Some kids have blankets, some kids have a special lovey/stuffed animal that they adore and that comforts them: For Ava, that "lovey" is baba. In a way, it's her best friend.

Tonight, on the eve of her third birthday, the "baba fairy" is paying our house a visit. We're not cold-hearted meanies: we've been prepping Ava for this for some time, which is why we're choosing to do this on her birthday. She'll even tell you that, "Three-year-olds don't have babas," which we're hoping makes the transition easier. 

I would be lying if I told you that I hadn't been looking forward to this night. In fact, when I spent the weekend away from A in Dallas back in September, one of the first things that I noticed about my absence was how freeing it was to not constantly be a slave to the baba. How many times a day I must locate that thing, wash it off, and generally babysit the baba - oh my word, how I've waited for the day when I wouldn't have to constantly be aware of where it was at any given moment.

So tell me why it is that, putting Ava to sleep tonight, I sobbed uncontrollably (and still am - I can hardly see the keyboard right now) at the thought of taking it away from her. 

I know that it is time. I know there are baba naysayers who site dental issues and so on as being a reason to toss it, and say that "they're lucky" because their child never got into the baba. But as often as it has been the bane of my existence, it has been my salvation several times over. When Ava was a newborn, and wanted to cluster feed, we introduced the baba with the hopes that I'd get a break from nursing around the clock. 

When she had what they thought was measles at just a few months old, baba provided comfort to her through the lab work, and then again through appointments with the pediatrician and pediatric gastroenterologist when we discovered her milk protein intolerance. 

How many nights did I hear the sound of her sucking on her baba and take comfort that my baby, whom I lived in fear of succumbing to SIDS, was alive and breathing. I still count that sound amongst my favorite. Just last month, while hospitalized for severe illness, baba provided her with a sense of comfort and normalcy almost impossible to recreate in that environment:

More walking down memory lane:

 And today, our last picture with baba:

For these, and for many other reasons, I am so grateful that my daughter took a baba, and that she's found comfort and security through it. And for these reasons, I feel sad to my very core that her time with "baba" is over. 

We'll miss you, baba. Thanks for being there for my baby.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas - we certainly did!

Despite not having previous plans to leave town, we decided last minute to head down towards Houston to spend the holidays with my in-laws, so we made a super quick (like, 36 hours leaving to arriving back home) trip Sunday evening to be with them. We're always torn between wanting to be with what little family we have in Texas and wanting to be at home for the holidays for ours and Ava's sake, but this year, family won out :)

As an added bonus, we also were able to visit one of David's best friends for twenty years and meet him and his wife's newest baby, a sweet little girl! Ava and their son are just a few months apart, so they were able to play while we caught up and chatted for a bit. And oh, that sweet baby. Be still, my ovaries!

The night before, she was able to open up a gift: books that centered around the first Christmas, and other titles like Snow What Fun! and The Twelve Days of Christmas. I opened them up to read them to her and start a new tradition, but halfway through the second, she was out cold:

She even missed setting out the cookies that we baked earlier that evening...

Ava, per usual, was spoiled with lots of lovely gifts that are currently keeping her busy, including a Hex bug (these things are awesome, particularly if you have pets to simultaneously amuse!), a Loving Family dollhouse, a Barbie beach house and Barbies (all she really asked for from Santa this year - ha!), a MobiGo 2 game system and game to go with, books, a couple outfits, and lots more awesome gifts! We've been so blessed with all our families contribute to ensure that Ava has all the toys she could possibly need!

After opening presents from Santa (whom our elf, Felix, was able to send a message to for him to bring the presents to G&G's house) and our own presents, we ate a hearty Christmas breakfast (whoa, carb coma!) and then hit the road back to our house to open the rest! 

It was a great trip, but so glad to be back home. Ava was kind of a mess once we got home, a likely mixture of overstimulation and the letdown of coming home from visiting grandparents, and hit the hay early so we could watch our annual Christmas movie marathon of Love Actually and Four Christmases. All in all, it was a sublime day.

Next up: Ava's birthday! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas in Austin: Gingerbread Houses!

Who doesn't love a good Christmas craft, especially when the supplies are edible and sweet?! I know we do!

I'm short on time, but rarely short on words, so I'll just leave you with a few pictures :)

This was our first Gingerbread house making experience, but certainly not our last. In fact, since then, we've actually been to the library to make them as well, and am planning to do some Pinterest inspired "Gingerbread" trees soon!

What are some of your favorite Holiday crafts? Has Pinterest changed the way you craft and experience holidays, like it has at our house?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in Austin: Zilker Park's Trail of Lights.

This past Thursday, we braved the crowds, the traffic and the potential parking nightmare and headed down to our very own Zilker Park for the return of the Trail of Lights. For the past two years, the famous light show has been suspended due to a budget shortfall with the city, but after much petitioning (and I suspect a few very generous donors), this year the Trail of Lights returned, and the three of us all decided to pay it our very first visit! 

Austin's been running a bit warm these days, but on that particular night, temperatures were in the high 30's and low 40's, making it feel very wintry indeed! Not being the most prepared family for that type of weather, Ava bundled up in David's scarf for most of the night, and nestled into his jacket with him! Awww...

This trail, unlike the Round Rock Rock'N Lights display, was one that you walked (brrr!), and was much longer than I had expected. I am definitely glad we went, though, especially considering we found decent, free parking, and admission to the actual trail is free! It seems sure to become a family tradition for us!

Check out what you're missing if you've yet to go, and keep in mind that tonight is the last night:

The gorgeous landscape, against the backdrop of the city:

The famed entryway:

The pictures don't do this justice, but it's a Christmas light recreation of the water cycle!! Awesome!

As David called him, "The Green Scrooge?" Ha!

What would a Christmas display be without a Santa? 

Ava loved the dinosaur draped over the tree. I loved the tree :) 

Everyone's favorite cartoon characters made an apperance... 

....including Dora! Ava spent the rest of the night worried about Boots' absence. 

Me: "Look! It's the baby Jesus!"
Ava: "But where is Boots?"

Candyland! Definitely a highlight!

For my mom:

A blurry pic of Ava and daddy, all bundled up:

Happy holidays! Again, tonight is the final night for this year's Zilker Park Trail of Lights, so if you can brave the cold and the crowds, I highly recommend it. There are also free children's books at the end, courtesy of HEB, and they're worth the trip alone! Food trucks dominate this year, with the smell of Kebabalicious and Hero's Gyros still making my mouth water! The trail is free, though parking on site is $10. Since that's nearly impossible, you can park for $5 at the Austin High lot, or find street parking for free, if you're lucky! I've seen lots of people advise to take strollers, but not only were they a humongous pain to navigate through, the kids sitting in them could see virtually nothing. We were happy to be stroller-less!

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