t h r e e

Shanna-17

Aven turned three years old just ten days before we welcomed her brother. I no longer do update or milestone posts, but I want to always remember the little things about her at each age. So here is my random, stream-of-consciousness, Things I Love About Aven Harper, Age Three, along with some of my favorite photos from the last few months.

Finn-22Finn-20

My sweet Aven,

You are three! “Fwee”, as you would say. We registered you for three-year-old preschool recently, and ohh myyy. I’ve had to keep my emotions in check over that one. (It’s only 9 hours a week, I keep telling myself. And it doesn’t even start till the fall, so I have time to prepare myself.)

I know you’re going to love it.

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The Handprints On My Dishwasher

I used to imagine what my husband and I would be like when we had our first child.

We would be parents who didn’t act like “parents.” We would be COOL PARENTS.

We wouldn’t let our kid become the center of our universe. 

Our house wouldn’t be taken over with blocks and trains and dolls. We would relegate all of that “stuff” to a small, designated area. I would not be that parent who talks about their kid incessantly, or who’s social media is a gigantic, glaring spotlight on their kid, or who arranges their free time around their child’s schedule and activities.

Well.

The time has come and I’ve had to eat all of those words. Every. Last. Crumb. 
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Aven’s party details {& party planning for the non-hostess}

Confession: I am not a “hostess” type.

The more people who RSVP with a “yes” the more I want to go hide in a corner until it’s over, no matter what type of event I’m planning. I cheer when people say they can’t make it. 

I’M NOT NORMAL.

Anyway.

 

During the planning of my daughter’s 2nd birthday party, my philosophy was “it doesn’t have to be fancy!

Y’all. This is a two year old’s party. She will relive it through photos one day, but she will not remember it. I tend to let myself get overwhelmed with the details of events rather than focusing on the ultimate purpose, and I was determined not to let that happen. At the end of the day, I just wanted Aven to have a good time with all the people she loves. 


{ Hey look! This was my own Minnie party, back in the day! Check out my mom’s cake decorating skills. Impressive! She definitely IS the hostess type. }


I started drafting this post the day after the party when we were still in recovery mode, because I know there are lots of people like me who feel that party planning is out of their comfort zone. But even for us non-hostess types, you can pull off a great party and have fun while planning it – I promise!

Here are some shots of the party and a list of things I found to be super helpful during the planning process. 

(her ears are actually pigtail clips from this Etsy shop)
 
keep it simple. here’s how:


1. stick with a narrow theme and color scheme. 
Because it’s her absolute favorite, we originally chose a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme, which would include a whole cast of characters. But since a ton of party planning is incorporating the colors of your chosen theme, and I wasn’t loving the use of so many bold primary colors for a little girl’s birthday party. I changed it up to a simpler theme of Minnie Mouse only, and stuck with the colors black+white, gold, and pale pink. SO glad I made this change. It really made it so much easier. If possible, stick to neutrals and one or two pops of color. (Also – buy paper products and utensils in neutral colors so you can reuse the excess later).

2. choose just a couple of “statement pieces”.
You could easily run around spending lots of money and time buying 200 different party decorations and supplies. OR you could choose just a couple of large-scale, key items that will be the focus of the party.

So, instead of a bunch of balloons, I used only FOUR. Yes – FOUR. I had one giant 30″ pink balloon, one huge number “2” Mylar balloon, and then two regular pink balloons for our mailbox. (balloons and paper straws purchased from this Etsy shop)

I also happened to find (really, it was fate) a black and white polka dot blanket with Minnie’s silhouette on it in the kid’s bedding section at Target. It couldn’t have been more perfect for the party and it became the primary inspiration for the rest of the decor. We used it as a focal point and backdrop on the day of the party. Bonus….we get to use it after the party! 

3. party basics: banners + signs.
There’s a reason why party banners show up at every party: they’re cute AND easy! I strung a three tiered one on the fireplace mantle. It was black so I just wrote “happy birthday Aven” with chalk and strung it with black and white baker’s twine. I traced out the word “TWO” on glitter scrapbook paper and then strung that on the Minnie blanket backdrop. DONE. (I meant to move the “TWO” banner to the front of the high chair as decoration when we did her cupcake and candles, but I forgot. Anytime decor can pull double duty – go for it!)

I also purchased a chalkboard easel (something I wanted anyway and will for sure use again) and placed it outside by the front door as a welcome sign.

4. favors that function as a party element.
I bought a set of 12 Mickey and Minnie ears and placed them by the front door with a sign that said “We’ve got Ears, say Cheers!” They doubled as both decor and party favors for the kiddos. Another idea I love is to use food as favors – some extra special little snack you’ve put together and pre-packaged.

5. food: pick a theme.
We decided to do a morning (10am) pajama party, so the food was a no-brainer. My awesome husband made Minnie-shaped pancakes (!), and we did other breakfast foods as well. Fruit, pigs in a blanket, hashbrown casserole, monkey bread – those types of things.

Also – let your food decorate for you. You can put your cupcakes in a pretty stand and make it the centerpiece on the table.

6. use decor you already own.
I raided Aven’s nursery, my kitchen, and my box of party supplies for accent pieces that matched the party. I also borrowed several things from generous family members, like kid tables (which we covered in polka dot craft paper), platters, and trays. 

7.  Pinterest is your party-planning friend. 
Chances are, your party theme has been done, documented, and Pinterest-ed, so you can borrow other people’s creative ideas when you come up short on your own. I even printed coloring sheets off a link I found on Pinterest, so the kids would have a little activity to occupy themselves with. 

8. some things just don’t matter – don’t waste time or brain power on them.
I am not the girl who’s going to bake a birthday cake. Just, no. Instead, I ordered Publix cupcakes and we stuck Oreo Thins in them as Minnie ears. Done. Work within your wheelhouse! Or have friends and family help you. You don’t have to do it all. 


So, which side are you on? Does party planning make you giddy or give you an anxiety attack? I’d love to hear any other tips you guys have!

easy babies: real or mythical creatures?

You’ve heard them/seen their Instagram posts:
“Oh, Aden is just such a chill little guy; always has been!”
“Jackson doesn’t really cry. Maybe when he’s hungry? Even then it’s more of a whimper.”
“Addie: happy baby alert!!! #Blessed.”


Okay. I’m going to go ahead and admit how obnoxious those phrases can be, only because for a long time I wished I could say the same. 

But maybe you have one and can vouch for their existence? Or maybe you’re more like me with no real concept of what “easy baby” even means. My brain just doesn’t compute those two words being in agreement with one another, so when I hear that description, I’m quite honestly perplexed and intrigued, daydreaming about what that looks like.
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T W O Y E A R S

A two-year-old calls me mom. I know! What in the world.

I’ll admit I somehow became one of those people saying I had a “19 month old” or a “22 month old” so I have hereby vowed to no more counting by months since we’ve crossed the two year threshold. I apologize to those who find this utterly annoying. In an ironic twist, I too, find this annoying. Time to LET IT GO.
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2 1 m o n t h s { update }

Remember that time I wrote every day for 31 days straight and then took a two and a half week hiatus? Well, I’m back! Just needed some time to recoup. 

It has been a minute since I did an update on Aven. Well, it’s been three months and in the life of a toddler, that’s a chunk, so here we are talking about all things Aven. 


First, can I just say how much I love this age? She is totally my little sidekick. We go everywhere together and she’s becoming such a helper with whatever I’m up to. 


She’s also a talker, so we always have some kind of conversation going. When she talks she nods her head around like a teenager and it’s hysterical. I am also loving the fact that I can actually reason with her and talk through things, and she understands me. It helps us avoid at least some meltdowns and tantrums. 

She’s just becoming such a little person, and it’s so fun to watch. 

C l o t h i n g
Aven wears 24 month/2T clothing for the most part. We do have some 3T stuff that she can already fit into (WHAT IN THE WORLD). Shoes – size 7. Diapers – size 5.

Nope, she’s never been a small one, and that’s fine by me. 🙂



R o u t i n e 

Not much has changed in this arena since I last updated at 18 months. She’s up around 7a, eats breakfast pretty much right away, and the first thing out of her mouth every morning is “Mickey??” so we often start the day with an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 

Lunch around 12 and not long after is heading for a nap. Naptime is usually 1.5-2 hours. I always lay down with her initially, and sometimes I linger and nap with her because I know these days will be ending soon. 

After waking up, she eats an afternoon snack and watches tv for a bit. Dinner is between 6-6:30p and then she heads into what we lovingly call “crack mode.” Basically she runs all over the house, using every last bit of energy stored up, and dances, sings, yells, throws her arms in the air and generally acts like a fool. It’s hilarious. 

7:30p is bathtime (her favorite) and she’s laying down by 8p. We just sing a few lullabies and then lay her down awake. She falls asleep almost immediately most nights. If she does cry, it’s short-lived, because girlfriend is tired.



F a v o r i t e s 
As mentioned, Mickey and Minnie Mouse are the center of her universe right now. She is truly obsessed. She sometimes yells out “Oh tooooodlessss!” in the middle of playing with toys, and has the funniest granny-style dance moves to the opening song. So of course, we had to represent when Halloween rolled around. She was the cutest Mickey you have ever seen, minus the ears because this kid tolerates nothing on her head. Instead she got little mouse/pigtails. 

Her other favorite tv show is Sesame Street because of “Eh-mo.”

Stuffed animals: Ella the Elephant, Blue the Doggie (she calls him “Bew”), Monk Monk, and Goat. Needs them all in her crib with her night. Not into baby dolls at all, but animals are apparently her jam.

Airplanes / Helicopters / Trains

Mickey Mouse.

Outdoors. If she’s outside, she’s happy. 

Pretend cell phones.

Yogurt dips. Puffs.

Bubbles / Balls / Books / Shoes / Coloring  

Did I mention Mickey Mouse? 


W o r d s  /  L e a r n i n g 
We are teaching her numbers, letters, colors, animal sounds, and shapes during playtime/bathtime/car rides.

Her vocabulary is really growing, and she’ll put together two- or three- word sentences now, like “Aven eat” or “Mommy go upstairs.”

She cannot say her L’s. Instead she replaces it with a “y” sound. Which makes so many words just so stinking adorable, like “yeh-yow (yellow) or “yight” (light). This is my favorite thing, maybe ever??

She can count to 10 with help. She can recognize her name when spelled out, and can recognize almost all letters. We are starting to teach her the alphabet using foam letters during bathtime.

New animal sounds, of the nontraditional variety, because those are more fun: Deer: “grunt grunt” / Turtle: “wah wah wah wah” / Crab: clicking sound while making “pincher” fingers / Hippo: “chomp chomp”. I have a video of some of these I’ll post on Instagram later 🙂

P e r s o n a l i t y 
Friendly. Social. Talkative. Demanding. Opinionated. Joyful. Girly. Sensitive. Dramatic. Sweet.

Q u i r k s 
Hates to have her feet touched  //  Every time she sneezes she yells “tissuuuue!”  // Waves at literally everything  //  “Sniffs” every flower she sees, even pictures of flowers.  //  “Fake” sleeps, complete with little snores and whistling sounds that I can only assume were learned from cartoons // Is OBSESSED with order and organization (she will put things back, shut drawers, and close doors behind me all.day.long.)  // Boo-boos require ice, but not for the boo-boo, just for her to munch on.

Crazy kid. 



F i r s t s 
Library trip
Day trip to the mountains
Kiddie train ride
Encounter with chickens, goats, pigs, and horses
Learned to give “thumbs up!”
Potty *attempts*




Oh, Aven Harper. You make my heart sing and my face smile. I’m so proud to be your mom.  



1 8 m o n t h s


So listen. I now have an 18 month old. I’ve been a mom for 18 months. A year and a half year old kid calls me mom. 
Hold the phone. 
I’m obviously having a hard time wrapping my head around this.
I try really hard not to lament over time and how quickly all of this goes, but instead focus on the current milestone. The current phase. The current weight of her in my arms (25 pounds if you’re asking). But DANG. I do believe this second year is going by even quicker than the first one did.

As of late, Aven is really becoming her own little person.

She’s still very social and thrives in groups, especially when she knows and loves those people. Her vocabulary has really grown and even if it takes a little while to learn people names, it only takes her a few minutes to learn dog’s names. (Little pet lover.) 

She occasionally throws tantrums now which is super fun. (sarcasm abounds). They usually start if she doesn’t get to go play outside (aka, where she would live if we would let her). She then falls on the floor dramatically and bangs her head on the floor – a move that my little brother used to do so it kind of makes me want to laugh. Just a little. Charlie, did you teach your niece your head bangin’ ways? 

We are encouraging independence as much as possible because it has never been her strong suit. Even when she was too small to notice if I left the room…uh, she noticed. And this many months later she still hates to be by herself. I’ve even resorted to propping a gate up in the doorway of the playroom, just so she’ll play for 5 minutes without me. Any advice on this is welcome 🙂


She’s very routine-oriented, which I would assume is true for most little kids. These days, she’s up at 7-7:30am and eats at the same times we do, with a snack around 4pm. She naps after lunch for 1.5-2 hours, and then its bath and bedtime 7:30-8pm. No more bottles, only milk from sippy cups (this was a big deal for us because girlfriend adored her bottle!)

So although there are always bumps in the road of raising a child, there is also a whole lot of fun going on around here lately. 

Toddlers. Are. Crazy.



{ here are our favorite Aven-isms & pictures since I posted her last update at 14 months: }

If something requires a fist bump – a frequent occurrence in our house – she’ll run from wherever she is to give everyone a fist bump, including the dogs. (Um, adorable).
She dances to all kinds of music but still hearts Taylor Swift the most. Her dancing = her entire body bobbing up and down with a twirl thrown in sometimes.
Knows lots of animal sounds, but my favorite one by far is her whale impression. (there’s a video of it on my instagram from about a month ago)
If we’re driving on a curvy road, I’ll hear “weeeeee……wooooaahhh” from the backseat. 🙂 

Sidewalk chalk is a new favorite pastime. 
“Nak” is her way of saying “snack” and it’s hilarious. Also, she says it 500 times a day.
When we drop her off at the church nursery, she walks down the hall stopping at all the classrooms to wave and say hi to the other kids. (Social butterfly, I tell you).
Obsessed with trains (real ones).

Does a super cute impression of the wind.
Isn’t really into cartoons which I’m happy about, but she does love Elmo. And her Praise Baby DVD comes to the rescue as needed. 
Sticker obsessed and her favorite place to stick them is on my face. Or my floors.

Refuses all bows and hairbands which I’m sure is payback for the headbands I forced on her when she was too little to yank them off. 
Gives eskimo kisses.

Waves at everything, including tree limbs blowing in the wind because obviously they are waving at her and it would be rude to not wave back. (dear Jesus never let this sweetness end).
Is convinced our boxer Hudson is her bestie and she usually plops down next to him on his bed. Like I said on instagram last week, he definitely gets extra crowns in heaven. 

Asks for lotion on her hands and then promptly bends over to lotion her legs. A girl can’t have dry legs. No idea where she learned this. Ahem. 
Carries around my old stuffed panda bear, which is bigger than she is. And then uses him as a pillow.
Loves to FaceTime and gets super hyped when the phone rings. (She knows the Facetime ring is different from the regular ring.)
Favorite toys are those she can push around the house: her lawnmower, stroller, and vacuum, or even a stray chair will do. And nothing makes her laugh like her giant purple ball. It’s the simple things, people.

this was one of her last bottles ever.


{ firsts }
pigtails
pinkeye-ish illness (never confirmed by Dr. but treated as is).
riding in the “car cart” at grocery store
wearing flip flops
zoo trip
trip to the beach as a toddler (more on that here)



Aven Harper, I love you so! All 18 months of you.