Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pancakes + Pajamas = A Sweet 2nd Birthday Party

We had Baby Sage's birthday party on June 25th, but honestly it was almost like he had a week-long celebration with Emma gone to Momma G's for the week.  It was so incredibly nice to have that time with him!  While he is always a happy-go-lucky kid, I was really able to see his personality shine through when he was alone.

I guess I never really knew how much Emma bossed him around -- including which toys he could play with and which room he went in!  I knew she as a little 'mother,' but with her gone, I was really able to see all of his amazing personality shine through.

Plus, it was nice for me to get that one-on-one time with him.  I had a lot of that with Emma, of course, but haven't had as much with Baby Sage.  I found myself spoiling him just a bit -- almost like a grandparent!  I let him get by with things he normally would not been allowed to do if Emma had been around, too.  I can see why grandparents have so much fun!  But I can wait to be a grandparent: Baby Sage is already growing up too fast!  I literally cannot believe that as I am writing this he is TWO YEARS old.

(Speaking of which -- how long can I call him "Baby Sage"???  I mean, I still feel like he is my baby and always will be, but... I suspect someone is going to say something soon.)

I told him all week that we were going to have a birthday party for him on Saturday morning.  He seemed happy and excited -- because I was happy and excited. But I don't think he ever really 'got it.' In fact, event the morning of his party, I'm still not sure it sunk in.  Oh well!

Emma came home Friday night, just in time to make it to Sage's party Saturday morning.  We had it at AA and G Daddy's (my in-laws) house, and decided that since we were celebrating in the morning, we would have a pancake and pajama party!

Spoiler alert:  only the kids wore pajamas.

When we got to AA and G Daddy's house, his gifts were all sitting out on the back porch -- along with that amazing cake!  His new grill and basketball goal were not wrapped, so he got into those right away!  We actually had to point him in the direction of the wrapped gifts.


Emma was especially excited about Baby Sage's birthday part -- to the point that we had to keep reminding her this wasn't her party.  We told her she could help, but they were his gifts.  And help she did!  Baby Sage would get slightly distracted by the new toys he had just unwrapped, and only wanted to play with that, not even thinking about his big stack of gifts yet to unwrap!  Emma would start his gifts, and then he would finish tearing the paper off.  She has mastered the art of unwrapping!  He needs a little practice yet, but with Emma as a big sister, I have no doubt Baby Sage will be caught up by Christmas.

After Baby Sage -- with help from his big sister -- finished opening all of his gifts, we moved to the griddle with Mimosas and Bloody Mary's in hand (adults only, of course) to watch G Daddy flip pancakes for our clan.

Speaking of pancakes -- did you see that cake?  In case you were wondering:  yes, we did eat pancakes and cake!  We were all on quite the sugar high after that, with syrup and frosting leading the way!  Everyone crashed pretty hard for naps after the party -- and this time, the adults are included in that.  Made me wish I had worn my pajamas after all, now that I think about it.

It was a fantastic day for my baby.  For both of my babies, actually, as Emma seemed to enjoy Baby Sage's party just like he loved her.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Emma's Big Girl Trip to Visit Momma G

I have gotten lots of questions about Emma's week with Momma G.  Most people want to know what all she did.  My answer?  "What didn't she do?!?!"

Let me start by telling you how excited she was to spend a week in Mississippi all by herself with Momma G.  To prepare her, I had told her in advance she was going to get to go.  I started to regret that!  Between the time that I first told her and her actual trip, she asked me more than a hundred times (it felt like 1,000) "When am I going to Momma G's?"  While I would have been fine answering that question a few less times, I was glad she was so excited about her trip.

When I was Emma's age, all I cared about were American Girl dolls.  When we were there over Mother's Day weekend, Momma G had gotten all of my American Girl dolls out of storage, and Emma fell in love!  In fact, those dolls have been all she has been able to focus on!   When she would talk about going to Momma G's, she talked about playing with those dolls.

I even went so far as to ask if we should pack her babies for Momma G's house because they go everywhere with us.  She actually said no!  I was super shocked, but she told me she only wanted to play with the dolls at Momma G's house.

When she got to Momma G's house, my mom had cleaned up my old Playmobil Doll House that I received from Santa one year around Emma's age.  She had it sitting on her kitchen island when she and Emma walked in the door, and Emma went right to it!  Mom told me that Emma climbed on the bar stool and didn't move for hours!  She even ate dinner in front of it!  That whole first night, she didn't go to a different room or play with any other toys besides that one doll house.

And the next morning, Emma went straight to the doll house again.  (I guess it's a good thing I just ordered a bunch of new Playmobil toys for the store -- including their great line of doll houses!  They've been updated, but it is still the same great quality.)

Let me tell you a little something:  my mom is a night owl.  And when Emma is with Momma G, she is a bit of one, too.  She definitely stays up wayyyyyyyyyyy past her 7 o'clock bed time.

In addition to playing with the doll house and keeping some rather late hours, Emma also went to see Finding Dory with Momma G.  This was especially exciting for Emma because I had taken her and Baby Sage to see it the day it opened in Decatur.  Unfortunately, we only got to see the first 20 minutes of the movie (from what I saw, it was a great movie!), before someone (cough -- Baby Sage -- cough) decided to throw a pack of gummies at people three rows in front of us and I decided it was time to leave.  You can imagine all the tears Emma shed when we had to leave the movie early!  So, I was very glad to hear that not only had she and Momma G gone to see it, but that she loved the whole movie!

Momma G loves to cook, so after Emma had her fill of the doll house, they moved that out of the kitchen to do more traditional kitchen things -- like baking and decorating cookies!  Emma had a blast, and I have to say that the cookies she brought home for me to try were delicious and gorgeous.

To round out a fun weekend, Emma also decided to torture my Mom's cat, Moe, by chasing him around.  Moe may be been glad to see Emma leave, but I know she is already excited for her next big girl trip to Momma G.  And to play with those dolls again.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Turning Four on the Farm

We celebrated my firstborn's 4th birthday on June 5th - even though her actual birthday is in May AND there is no way she's already four.  Nope, she can't be.  Not my baby girl!

Now I love to throw a party of any kind and I was really excited this year for Emma's first real party.  In the past, we kept her birthday celebrations to family only.  But now that she has turned four (I'm still not sure I believe that) it was time to go all out.

I have known since Emma was a baby that when it came time to throw her first 'big-girl' party, we would have it at 1818 Farms in Mooresville.  I absolutely love it there and was sure she would, too.

When we arrived, we were greeted by Natasha (the owner) and Mr. Tony, who gave us the farm rules:

1) Don't chase the chickens.
2) Don't kick the chickens.
3) Stay with our group.

Baby Sage totally broke rules 1 and 3.  I never saw him break rule #2, but it wouldn't surprise me if he did.

As the remaining guests were arriving, Mr. Tony brought some kittens over for the kids to pet.  They loved them!  Of course, they also loved chasing Trouble, the yellow barn cat, around the farm.  Baby Sage got in on that action, too.  I guess you might call that a bit of Double Trouble.  Get it??

Did I mention Baby Sage had the best time at his, I mean Emma's, party??

After all the guests had arrived, it was off to feed the chickens!  Here's a fun fact for you:  Chickens love to eat watermelon!  Who knew??  Everyone was able to pet and feed the chickens, and gather eggs from the coop.  It made me wish we still had our backyard chickens.  (It might be time to think about getting some more!)

In addition to the chickens, we also got to feed and pet the babydoll sheep and the goat - Miss Farrah Fawcett.  I'm pretty sure most of the kids (and probably some of the adults) had no idea who Farrah Fawcett was.  Then we were able to pet the pigs - Cupcake and Mr. Wrigley.  And the kids all petted the Great Pyrenees dogs and the kittens again.

After much feeding and petting of the animals, it was time to retreat to the Garden House for story time and painting led by Mr. Tony.  The parents took this time to venture on a garden tour given by Natasha. (But don't worry, we didn't miss the story time.)  Mr. Tony read a book called "Barnyard Chase."  It seemed appropriate to me given the actions of Baby Sage!

Mr. Tony also led everyone in a rousing rendition of "Old MacDonald."  It was so much fun!  He had a bag of animals, and when it would come time to sing about a new animal in the song, he would pull that animal out of the bag.  By the end of the son, the kids (and maybe a few of the adults) were standing, jumping, and singing with excitement about which animal would be next.  It was seriously the most fun I've ever seen anyone have with that song!

The next activity was painting.  And it was good timing, too, because that was about the time the sky decided to open up.  It sounded so good hearing the pouring rain hitting the Garden House roof.

After painting came... cake!  And boy, what a cake it was!!  Crazy Daisy Cakes in Hartselle made it, and modeled it off the invitations we sent out.  Not only was it gorgeous, but it was mighty tasty, too.

Cake time did not pass without a few tears, though.  Poor Emma is a bit shy around crowds so when everyone started to sing "Happy Birthday" all the attention focused on her proved to be a bit much.  But hey, it's her party and she'll cry if she wants to, right?

She wouldn't blow out the candles either, but like a good brother, Baby Sage jumped right in to help out.  This is about the time I noticed he was drenched -- either in sweat or rain.  The verdict is still out on that.  (Did I mention he had a great time?)

Finally, after Emma opened her gifts it was time to leave.  While we were sad to see all of our friends go, this was also when Emma had one of her favorite moments of the day.  While we were packing up, she got a chance to dance and play in the rain with her baby brother.  Unfortunately we didn't have any rain boots for Sage (that obviously didn't stop him), but we do now!

 Overall, it was a wonderful afternoon spent with family and friends.  I know Emma loved it, too, because she still talks about it and wears the pink cowgirl hat (that the kids got as a party favor) around the house.

Venue:  1818 Farms
Invitations:  Love Lucy
Photographer:  Lauren Tomasella Photography
Cake:  Crazy Daisy Cakes

Monday, May 23, 2016

Summer Fun

Easter has come and gone.  Memorial Day is just around the corner.  It's hard to believe, but summer is on the doorstep.

I've see lots of Facebook posts from friends looking forward to summer.  And I've had several parents ask what I'm doing with the kids this year.  Sounds like the makings of a Cloud 9 blog post to me.

Emma has a very busy June scheduled -- definitely busier than mine!  She will be attending Vacation Bible School as well as Princess Ballerina Camp.  While she's buy with that, I plan to take Baby Sage to Book Babies at the Library on Wednesdays.

Speaking of books, I have decided to pick a different book each week and will plan activities with the kids related to the particular book.  And by plan activities, I mean find cool things on Pinterest to try.

On Make Something Monday, we will make a craft that goes along with the book.  For Book Cooks Wednesday we will cook something related to the book.  And then we'll have Fun Friday, which will be our day to get out and have some fun -- at the movies, water park, or just in the backyard.  (I will be working at the store on Tuesdays and Thursdays.) Oh, and I'll also select a related movie that we can watch each week.

Here's an example of our first week:

June 6-10:  The Pout Pout Fish

Make Something Monday:  Ocean Discovery Bottle (

Book Cooks Wednesday:  Fish Bowl Gelatin (

Friday:  Frozen Ocean Animal Rescue (

So that's some of what I have planned with the kids for the summer.  As for what they have planned for me... well, they've not let me know yet, and neither of them has a blog as far as I know.  But I'm sure it will be an adventure.

What are your summertime plans?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Are you ready for some football... food

Fall is in the air.  Football is on TV.  It must be October.

A typical football Saturday at our house consists of Emma running around in her Auburn cheerleading uniform screaming, "Go Tigers!!!"  Sage is planted in front of the TV, and if i'm not at the store, I'm normally cooking.

After all, you can't have football without food!

One of our favorite fall weather foods is chili.  I put it in the crock pot in the morning and before long the aroma is wafting through every room of the house!  (Actually, I sometimes can't wait until fall to cook it.  Sage says I cook it way to early.  Of course, he still cleans his bowl.)

There are lots of ways to make chili.  Here's my recipe:

Big-Batch Chili
4 pounds ground chuck
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green pepper chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 (14 1/2-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
4 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 bay leaf

Cook ground chuck in a large skillet over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain.  Place meat in a 6-quart slow cooker; stir in onions, next 12 ingredients.  Cook, covered, at HIGH 5 to 6 hours or at LOW 6 to 8 hours.  Remove and discard bay leaf.  Serve with desired toppings.

I also love making appetizers to snack on during the game.  Two of my favorites are Hot Bacon & Swiss Dip and Jalapeño Popper Dip.  Both are easy and delicious!

Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Crushed Ritz crackers

Mix cream cheese, mayo, cheese, and onions.  Transfer to a dish.  Top with bacon and crackers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve with wheat thins.

Jalapeno Popper Dip
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz. sliced jalapeños, drained
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Mix the cream cheese, mayo, cheddar cheese, Parmesan, and jalapeños in a bowl and pour into a baking dish.  Mix the panic bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over dip.

OK, now I'm hungry!  I don't know if I can wait till Saturday.  We may be having mid-week apps.  I'm sure Sage will be fine with that considering he loves ALL food!  

What are your favorite game day recipes?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to School!

This past week, like so many Alabama children, Emma and Baby Sage headed back to school.

It was emotional, exciting, and nerve-wracking.  But enough about their mother.

On Tuesday, Sage started his first day at Church Street Academy.  In typical Sage fashion he took it all in stride.  He received an excellent report when I picked him up:  didn't cry (not even once), ate wonderfully (which didn't surprise me, considering he eats anything you put in his mouth) and napped great!  I expected him to adapt well and he did.  He literally always has a smile on his face.

Emma was accepted into the Decatur City Schools 3K inclusion program this year, which couples special needs children and "typical peers" with the intent of enhancing the learning and development of both groups.  We went for screening in June and found out she was accepted at the end of July.  We decided that this was an opportunity we couldn't pass up due to the program being highly recommended, along with such a wonderful group of kids and teachers.

It was exciting to prepare for her first day!  We bought a new backpack, lunch box, and nap mat to make the transition to big school fun and exciting.  (Of course, I had already bought the perfect dress for her first day MONTHS ago.  And naturally, Baby Sage donned a matching outfit.)

Last Sunday, she had her backpack blessed at church.  G-Daddy took her to the altar since Mommy was home with a sick baby and Daddy had to go into work for an emergency situation.

Tuesday was meet the teacher day at her new school, Chestnut Grove Elementary.  Emma was thrilled to show me the library, music room, and cafeteria.  My shy little girl was walking the halls with confidence!  (Dad had taken Emma for a walk around the school while I stayed behind and asked a million questions.  Pretty sure I'm gonna be the teacher's fave parent this year.)

Then, on the eve of her first day, someone had a break down.  (Hint:  It wasn't Emma.  Or Dad.  Or Baby Sage.)

I packed her backpack and her lunch box and then as I was ironing her dress, I lost it.  Tears of excitement and fear for my baby girl!  She is no longer at the preschool we loved so much for the past two years.  My baby girl is going to be at a big school with big kids.  Did we make the right decision?  Is she ready?  Will they take care of my baby?

Finally, Thursday arrived and we walked in together and my shy girl surprised me again.  No tears, just pure excitement!  As I got in the car to leave, I was happy and nervous all at the same time.

 Luckily, it was only a half day.  And now I know why!  I used to think that half day stuff was for the kids, but I think the parents need it more than the kids do.  I was ready to pick her up as soon as I dropped her off!

Mary Ila ward also has a child at Chestnut Grove and we had already decided to meet at Chick-Fil-A once we dropped the kids off for "Tears and Coffee."  Not exactly Sip 'n See, but I was thankful to have a good friend there to help pass the time and talk about our joys and concerns.

At last, it was 11:30 and time to pick up my big girl!  I may have gotten there by 11:15.  Or 11:00.  Or...  Well, let's just say I was in the car pick up line early.

Tears of joy and pride ran down my face as I saw Emma walking towards the car with a big smile on hers.  She told me all about her day and about her new friend Emma Greer and that she loves school! The only negative was not getting to play on the playground.  But that's OK, they wound up getting to do that on Friday.  And more good news, for Mommy at least, Friday was a half day, too!

I think it's going to be a great school year for my two babies!

Back to School Prayer:

"Dear Lord, use my eyes to see new friends.
Open my ears to hear my teacher.
Open my mind to learn new things.
Let my heart remember you are near when I'm afraid.
Help me to love others like you do.
I want to shine your light so bright in my school.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Having Fun and Turning One

Baby Sage celebrated his first birthday on June 26th!  We actually had his party  a week early so that all his grandparents were able to be there.

The theme?  "Time flies when you're having fun!"

There was an airplane on his cake, which came from Cloud 9 by the way.  (The plane, not the cake.)  And he also wore a Busy Bees Airplane Bubble.  Can this kid dress or what!

Even though it was a small family gathering, it was very enjoyable.  We had four generations of Sages at the party, which I thought was pretty cool!

Now my little man does not miss a meal and eats anything I put in front of him.  So we expected him to literally dive head-first into his smash cake.  But instead, he took his time.

That's where his big sister came in.  Emma loved dipping her fingers in the cake, and with her help and guidance, Baby Sage soon developed a taste for the icing himself.  She has been such a wonderful big sister.  I think because Baby Sage is just one more thing she can "mother."  My Little Momma, I call her.

After his cake was properly smashed, it was time for presents.  Emma, again, quickly "showed" her baby brother how to open his gifts.  We tried reminding her that it was Sage's birthday, not hers.  To which she responded by promptly starting to play with Baby Sage's new toys.

There's nothing in the world like watching the kids play and laugh together, so we all thoroughly enjoyed that.  Then it was time to put the birthday boy to bed.  After that, the adults enjoyed a nice family dinner together with some delicious birthday cake.

It's so hard to believe that an entire year has passed.  It seems like just the other day, we were bringing Baby Sage home from the hospital! 

What's that I was saying again?  Oh right, time flies.