10 Tips For Throwing A Successful Pre-School Birthday Party

swingsetA few weeks back we celebrated our daughter’s fourth birthday with a lot of her friends from school. I don’t mind saying that it was a huge success and I take basically no responsibility for that. My wife was the mastermind behind the festivities from invitations to decorations and games, but she doesn’t have a blog and I do, so I’m the one who’s going to throw down some advice. Continue reading

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An Open Letter To My Darling Daughter On Her First Birthday

Wow, I can’t believe you’re one today. Depending on the day, it either seems like the time has flown by or like you’re been part of our lives for far more than 365 days. Truthfully, you were part of us for the nine months before that, of course, but as much as I would look at the black and white ultrasound photo that still sits on a shelf directly across from where I sit every day, I could not have imagined what you’d really be like. I could see your nose, but that’s about it. I had no idea you’d have such bright, blue, sparkly eyes or that your cheeks would be so popular that strangers would come out of nowhere and say they wanted to eat them. Don’t worry, I didn’t let them. A few copped a quick cheek feel, but I kept an eye on them.

No, I really could not have known what being your dad would be like, how amazing it would be, how impressive you are and how completely my happiness has been connected to yours. I doubt you will remember this down the line, but when you have a bad day, so do I. When you’re popping out teeth and just not feeling well, I can’t help but feel out of sorts myself (and not just because those are the days where you seem dead set on clearing everything off of every shelf and table in the condo). I could not have known how warm my heart would get when you look at me and said “dada” or when you finally started laughing. I can’t really explain how mad I get when people cut us off in the car or when those strangers try to touch you. Mom calls it my “daddy bear” coming out and that just about explains it perfectly. How dare they, don’t they know I’m carrying precious cargo?

Something that most parents say to their kids is that they just want their kids to be safe and happy. Oftentimes, parents will go overboard on the former and wind up inhibiting the latter. I know I’ve probably done this already and will most likely do it as you grow up, but I want you to know that it all comes from a place of love and caring. I do my best to let you run around and do your own thing and hope you know I’ll always be there to scoop you up when you fall down (both literally and figuratively).

Looking back, it’s been a heckuva year. Remember when I used to carry you through the whole grocery store because you were too small for the cart and I didn’t want to use those gross ones with built in baby seats? Or how about when you were so little, we’d have to wrap you up in a blanket so you wouldn’t bonk yourself in the face and wake up? Or how your tiny hands and inquisitive nature have lead to an early exploration of the guitar? No, you probably won’t, but that’s okay. I’ve taken plenty of pictures and done a fair amount of writing her on the blog and over on my photo diary about your exploits, so we’ll hopefully be able to strolls together down memory lane.

You won’t understand this — or maybe any of this — until you have kids of your own, but I want you to know how proud I am of you and how much I love you. It’s such a complete and honest and true feeling that comes from deep inside. Like just about everything else about being a parent, it’s hard to explain, but instantly recognizable when you feel it. I hope my own issues and problems don’t seep down to do you too much and I apologize for my bad days, but want you to know without a shadow of a doubt that I love and support you and want you to have everything the world has to offer. Happy birthday chickadee.

Belle Of The Ball

I’ll get back to the epic diaper posts tomorrow. Today, I want to talk about a subject I’ve already mentioned over on The Monkee Diaries and Monkeying Around The Kitchen, but with a new spin. Last weekend, the missus, Lucy and I went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the wedding of my longtime friend Shannon to all around cool guy Matt. The wedding itself was beautiful and the hotel we stayed at–The Eden Resort–was probably the best non-Disney hotel and grounds I’ve ever been to, but I was most impressed with how Lucy handled everything from the drive down (which she mostly slept through) to the wedding itself.

Our original plan for the weekend was to have my parents come down from Ohio to watch Lucy during part of the wedding and reception. Lucy was invited to the event–even got her name on the invitation AND table card–but we knew she would get tired long before the reception was over and my parents offered to watch her so we could hang out with our friends. It was a long way for them to come for a short time, but they have no problem making trips like that and were pretty excited about their first solo babysitting experience. Friday night, when we got to the hotel there was a very nice welcome bag waiting for us that informed us that Shannon’s mom–who was also my fifth grade teacher, by the way–was having a gathering in her room, which was actually like a small version of a town house. We went over to grab a drink or two–the strongest and therefore best hurricane I’ve ever had–and kibitz. We expected to chat a little bit, but Lucy wound up being quite the conversation magnet. People I’d never met were coming up to us and striking up conversations, it was kind of nice.

I’m a shy person by nature, but I’ve noticed that, since having Lucy around, I’ve gotten to be a little more social. Maybe it’s because more people just come right up and talk to you, but I also think that a baby is kind of a natural conversation starter. “How old is she?” usually kicks these talks off and they either die out right there or move on in a nice natural progression. Anyway, Lucy did really well at that party considering we went 20 minutes after she usually goes to bed. It was kind of hot and she was tired, so she got a little fussy and we went back to our room. Before we left the party, Shannon asked why we had gotten two rooms and I told her about my parents. She told us that they had had a couple cancel at the last minute and would love it if my folks came (we’ve known each other since grade school, through high school and college till now, to give you an idea). I called them as soon as we got back to the room to let them know so they could bring proper clothes. Our plan changed to having everyone come to the wedding and the reception and then having my folks take Lucy back when she started getting sleepy.¬† The next day at the wedding was very similar, with many of the same people from the previous night and a few new ones coming up and talking to us about Lu. During the wedding itself, she got a little loud, but my wife picked her up and stood in the shade with her and she settled right down. I held her as we made our way to the reception and she wound up sleeping for a half hour or so on my shoulder which was super adorable. We were all really proud of how well she did. We’d been to a few gatherings, but those were with people she had met for the most part and none of them had the loud noise or theatrics that come from a wedding. Generally speaking, she doesn’t seem to get scared, so it was nice to see that carried over into a much larger and louder setting. You can file this one under the “brag” category (which you can see I actually created after writing this post). Thanks to Shanon and Matt for the invite, my parents for coming down, our friends Geof and Eileen who we hung out with most of Saturday and Sunday and all the people we talked to whose names I never caught. It was a great weekend!