Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A fairy tea party

Papa calls Julia's tutu a "three-three" now that she is another year older.  Julia thinks this term is the greatest thing since she wears her tutu day and night.  There were plenty of three-threes adorning her fairy princess tea party last Saturday.  
We had a blast!
The birthday girl on the morning of her big day!  For her first big task as a three year old, she chose to mix all of her play-dough (something she learned at church the week before).  Hey, anything goes.
Getting a big kick out of the many "happy birthday's" sung to her during the week.
Julia's cake.
I used this recipe from Bon Appetit for double banana cake.  Quite a good one and a hit with the toddlers!  Julia insisted on the incorporation of gumballs - they were a good accent (and a good compromise).
One of Julia's many tutu's adorns the base of the cakestand for some easy decorating.

Julia's little friends.
Even Charlie wore his fairy wings and enjoyed the festivities.  You're next Charlie-bear!
For an easy activity and party favor, we made our own wands.  I used this cookie recipe that I found on Pinterest for some delicious (and heftier) cookies.  Once I cut them out, I placed a bamboo rod in each of them and baked them for the allotted time.  

On our picnic table I set out the frosting and all of the ingredients for decorating.  The kids were able to take a few bites of their creations and then take the rest home.  I even made mini ones on lollipop sticks for the babies involved.
Happy happy birthday sweet girl.  
Yes, it is over despite a week-long celebration.  We now embark on the wonderful world of three!  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


When I think of the past year, the first thing that comes to my mind is one of Julia's favorite books: Olivia.  Olivia is an adorable little pig whose mind is constantly in motion and in a perpetual state of discovery.  Julia now reads this book to us at night.  The first lines of the book sum this year up perfectly!
"This is Olivia.  She is good at lots of things.
She's very good at wearing people out.  
She even wears herself out." 
June 2011
What a year it has been.  So much growth and so many new experiences, how could she not be worn out?  As I look back on some snapshots this year, it is fun to realize how mature Julia is becoming as she encounters some new things and masters different challenges.  My most favorite image from this last year is an image that will be forever embedded in my mind: my little girl walking in to our hospital room to meet her brother for the very first time - hands in her pockets, not quite sure what all of the commotion was about.  Although it took her a moment, she had a permanent grin on her face from the time she met her baby brother.  Though he will drive her crazy at times, this smile surfaces whenever she sees baby "Cha-lee".  Sisterhood was a new role this year.  She has literally embraced it (as I have to often tell her to give Charlie some space).   Luckily Charlie has perfected the art of the stiff arm.
 The following shots were taken month to month.  They are a random assortment from playing at the park to meeting a butterfly for the first time.  Each tiny moment swells in her heart.  I watch her take in the world with such wide eyes, eager to figure out how things work in her mind and eager to tell her friends all about it.    Lately when we come up with a good idea together (typically one that involves Julia getting a treat) Julia exclaims, "You're a genius!"  When she doesn't like something she says, "I'm not so sure about that."  Her colorful statements reflect how she is figuring things out for herself.  Her latest accomplishment is her self-appointed role as a comedian.  She makes up jokes that often make little sense, but are hysterical to her.  She is the best kind of comedian.  One who laughs at herself and demands her audience to laugh with her.  

Precious Julia, these snapshots capture you beautifully!  I was humbled the moment that you arrived on June 13th, 2009.  I was honored to hold you and take care of you and think about all of the things you would become.  Little did I know how quickly a beautiful, talented, compassionate little girl would emerge.  Every day with you is an adventure.  An epic, exhilerating, (and sometimes exhausting) adventure.  Some days I'm not sure I can keep up with you, but most of the time I realize we're pretty content to figure it out together as a family.  
June 2012
"When we've finished reading, Olivia's mother gives her a kiss and says, "You know, you really wear me out, but I love you anyway."
And Olivia gives her a kiss back and says, 
"I love you anyway too."
-Olivia, by Ian Falconer

Happy Birthday sweet girl!  May your quest for adventure continue this year and may you grow with the pure grace felt in those blissful moments of your arrival and each day after.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ladybug Lila

Sometimes the milestones of your closest friends remind you how quickly time is passing even more than the ones of your own family.  Almost exactly one year ago, I impatiently waited for the text from Shana's husband announcing the arrival of little Lila.  I was convinced it was a boy.  I am always wrong.  
Well, she is officially a one year old.  She is a sure footed and exuberant little one year old who had so much fun at her ladybug themed party. How could you not with the exciting older sisters providing loads of entertainment and some creative and tasty food?  
Lila's first birthday pinafore and matching barrette that I made for her:
Shana is pretty amazing.  She usually fuels a good bit of my culinary inspiration.  This, on the other hand, is way out of my league.  I have not only been blessed with an amazing friend, but the added bonus that she usually brings along one of her tasty treats whenever we're together.  How did I get so lucky? :)
 The bounce house that added more than enough fun for these toddlers!
Lila even had her own wardrobe change.  
 And this guy is only 6 weeks behind her.  For the next 6 weeks I will remain in denial of how quickly he is growing up!
Time to gear up for his cowboy-themed birthday party.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

That's my girl

 That's my daughter in the water,
everything she knows I taught her.
Everything she knows.
Everything I say
she takes to heart.

Everything she takes
she takes apart.
That's my daughter in the water
every time she fell I caught her.
Every time she fell.
That's my daughter in the water,
I lost every time I fought her.
Yea, I lost every time.
  -bob dylan

  I sing this to her often.  
Everything she does is a confirmation that she is her own individual.  My pre-Julia visions of what it would be like to have a daughter were never quite clear, but somehow I knew deep down that I'd have a little girl with a pixie haircut and a life-filled spirit.  How humbling to see traces of myself in this little one.  It gives me such a greater appreciation for my parents and it causes me to catch my breath before reacting.  I put my parents through the ringer, I might deserve a few of these moments of high-pitched tantrums with no real point to them.  
If you break parenthood down to its core, it's really quite an ironic task.  We go through childhood ourselves, we learn from our families, we meet our spouse, we blend our experiences to create our own family.  We are then granted this precious gift - a reflection of each of us, but vastly different in so many ways.    As often as I see images of myself in Julia, I am in awe of the qualities that are all her own.   The irony deepens as parenting causes you to grow up and become childlike simultaneously. On a daily basis my children seem to teach me so much more than what I can dish out as a parent.  When I view life through the lens of my children, it is so much brighter and holds so much more joy and adventure.  
Yesterday we were driving home from a few Saturday morning errands when I heard the "click" of Julia's top safety belt unlatching.  I sternly told Julia (for the one-hundredth time) that she was not to take off her seatbelt while we were driving.  Charles chimed in that it is against the law to take off your seatbelt and we must obey the law.  Julia quickly responded, "I don't obey the law, I only obey Jesus!"  
It was one of many moments that I am the one shaking my head.  Yep, Julia, you have it right.  Thank you for teaching me life through your terms.  Though you are a candid reflection of the Cirillo-Gray genes, you are uniquely your own.  Wonderfully made...
...with a little extra spice!