Monday, February 28, 2011

Planning a Toddler Elmo Birthday Party

Cali loves and I do mean loves Elmo!  There isn't a day that goes by where she isn't begging to watch Elmo.  So when her 2nd birthday came around it was clear what the theme was going to be.

I knew I wanted a personalized photo invitation with Elmo on it.  I checked Wal-Mart, Snapfish, etc and couldn't find one I liked.  So I turned to Etsy - score!  I found these adorable Elmo and Abby invitations.

Last year I wanted to spend money on a cute first birthday dress but decided against it.  I found a much cheaper option but in the end regretted not getting what I originally wanted.  This time I found a dress I wanted and got it even though it was more than I normally spend on clothes.  We got her this adorable Elmo dress from Etsy.  She loves it so much she actually hugged it when I took it out of the bag.

While Disney is much better at marketing its products - a Mickie Mouse party or Princess theme would be super easy to decorate for.   But you can find Sesame Street items,  it just isn't as easy.  I found cute items at the Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Wal-Mart.   I also picked up some balloons from the drug store the day of.   I made a slide show of pictures of Cali over the past 2 years that ran throughout the party using iMovie.  Since Cali's birthday is after Valentine's day I racked up on 50-75% off Valentine's Day items.  I got good table clothes for $.75 and a pack of 5 treat bags for $.25!

Cupcakes are the way to go with toddlers.  The size is just right and they love having their "own" cake.  I found Elmo cupcake wrappers at Hobby Lobby.  I decided to go with the wrappers instead of cake toppers - less work.
Since the party involved adults and kids I had a variety of foods available.  Chips and dip, veggies and dip, cheese ball with crackers, gold fish, cake balls and cupcakes.

You have to consider nap time when planning a party.  You don't want your little birthday girl/boy cranky at their own party because they should be napping!  Morning or lunch time are pretty safe times.  Also consider the guest list - do you have people that will be driving a good distance to attend your party?  If so first thing in the morning doesn't work.  We decided on 9am-11am.  This way we could party around snack time and everyone could do what they needed for lunch and get home in time for nap.

If you have at least one toddler you need a safe place for them to investigate and destroy.  We held our party at our church office which is a big, open store front.  This allows the kids to run around and not damage too much.

At this young age doing organized games doesn't work.  I set up different areas to entertain the kids.  I had a TV playing Sesame street, I had a craft area with foam stickers and crayons, and I had a toy area.  This allowed the kids to float between the areas as they pleased.
The play area had toys and Sesame Street playing on a TV

The craft area had coloring books, stickers, and crayons.
Goody Bags
We had kids ages 2 to 6 at the party.  I found sticker books and coloring books on sale.  The sticker books were specific to the kids.  Examples: Cars for the boys, Princesses for the young girls, and Barbie for the older girls.  Except for the 2 older girls (they got spelling activity books) everyone else got an Elmo Birthday Party coloring book.  I also grabbed some 50% off Valentine's Day chocolate for the bags.  All total I had $1.50 in each child's goody bag!

Random Tips

  • Have someone (not mom or dad) assigned to take pictures.  This will allow you the freedom to mingle with your guests without worrying about taking a picture of something cute the kids are doing.
  • Assign someone to write down who gave what gifts (again not mom or dad).  Thank you notes may be tedious but they are appreciated.
  • Be prepared for tears.  They are toddlers - someone will get hurt or throw a fit.  It happens.  
  • Most important - RELAX!  If you make it too complicated you will be stressed and not be able to enjoy the day. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cali 2nd Birthday Party

Saturday was Cali's 2nd Birthday Party!  It was an Elmo themed party.  We had 25 family and friends join us to celebrate Cali.  It was a wonderful party!  Cali is so lucky to have so many people who love her and invest in her life!

The party invitation
The birthday girl was all over the place!  She loved having her cousins and friends there to play with.
Love her personalized Elmo dress!
We had different areas set up for the kids.  We had a play area with some of Cali's toys and a TV playing Elmo and we had a craft area with stickers, coloring books and crayons.  The kids had so much fun running around.  Having the different areas helped keep the kids engaged.

Time to color with Zander
We let the kids play for a while, then we had snacks, then more play time, present time, cupcake time and finally more play time!

Cali did great opening her presents.  She was throwing tissue paper everywhere to get to her goodies!  We are super excited to play with her new toys!

Cupcake Time!

The kids enjoying the cupcakes.

Thank you to everyone who helped make the day so special!  We love you very much!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2 Years Old

Cali Maple is 2 years old today!  WOW!  Our little baby is so grown up these days.  Looking back on the past 2 years there are so many wonderful memories with our little Princess.  She continually makes us laugh and we love her more each day.

She is a true blessing from God and we are so privileged to be her parents.  Our prayer is that one day she will have a relationship with Christ and seek after Him with her whole heart!

To read her birth story read this post.

Just a few hours old

One year old Cali

Two year old Cali

Two Year Old Stats:

  • Wears size 4/5 diapers, 6 shoe and 24/2T clothes
  • Sleeps from 8pm to 7am with one nap a day
  • Loves to play with dolls, read books, color and watch Elmo
  • Loves to play outside and go for walks
  • Can count to 10!
  • Knows her shapes, some colors and we are working on the alphabet
  • Goes to playschool 2 days a week
  • Loves to eat fruit, rice, chicken, pasta, crackers, cookies, peas and drink lots of milk!
  • She talks none stop and most of it is understandable
  • We are working on potty training
Cali enjoying her Birthday cupcake.  She ate the icing first!
We would like to thank all of you for being a part of Cali's life and helping her to grow up in a loving environment!  Without our family and friends we would not have made it this far!

Monday, February 21, 2011


Nick took Cali to get her third haircut today. He said with the help of some M&Ms Cali did great. The stylistic trimmed her bangs and did a little cleaning up on the sides. She even put "product" in her hair to keep the curls.

I think the haircut makes Cali look like such a big girl! Can't believe she will be 2 in 2 days!
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Beautiful Day

Today was a beautiful day!  It was in the high 60's with a breeze.  I can't believe it is this nice during February!  We took full advantage of the weather with 2 trips to parks!

This morning Cali and I headed out to find a Gluten Free bakery.  After gathering a few goodies we went to a park nearby.  It was so funny because with the swing, slide, and other play area attractions Cali wanted to play on the benches.  She was running bench to bench to sit on them!  Our girl likes to sit on things!

After lunch and nap, Nick joined us for a walk to our local park.  It was so nice to be able to let Cali run around outside and get some toddler energy out.  It was been a couple months since we have been able to play at the park and it is amazing how Cali is able to maneuver now.  She better understands how the playground elements work and how to manipulate them.  She was adorable as she ran from one area to the next.

Just another beautiful North Carolina day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Off to the Circus!

Saturday we joined some church friends to see the circus!  They have two young kids so it was fun to see all the kids reactions.

Cali loved it!  She was dancing and clapping.  It was a little long, so two hours in she was done.  But she was a trooper and only had one meltdown.  Afterwards we went to Jason's Deli for dinner.

Cali and Nick watching the show

Cali's favorite - the Horses

Pretty Tiger
It was a great day!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Juice, Horse and Pink Eye

It seems like Cali is trying or doing new things every day!  I guess since she is almost 2 she is ready to take on the world.

Up to this point in Cali's life she has been a strict milk and water drinker.  We tried juice early on but she was not having it.  They tried at school and she dumped it out.  They just give her water now!  While grocery shopping Nick and Cali found Sesame Street apple juice boxes.   They are a hit!  Our girl LOVES and I do mean LOVES Sesame Street so since Big Bird is on the box she was sold.

 We aren't sure when or how it started but Cali also loves horses.  It was one of the first animals she learned.  She loves to point them out if she sees one on TV, in a book or a toy horse.  She also does an adorable horse sound!  Last night we were all playing around after dinner and I put Cali on Nick's back. As he walked around on all fours she shouted, "Horse! Horse!"  What a smart girl!
A girl and her horse
 Playschool has been wonderful in many aspects for Cali.  She gets to play with other toddlers, learns socialization skills, learns songs, does crafts and it gives Nick time to work.  However, school is also a place for all the toddlers to share their germs.  Cali's newest issue is pink eye.  She has had it before so when she woke up with crunchies in her eyes Nick took her to the doctor.  The eye doesn't seem to be bothering her but she doesn't like the eye drops!  It was a wrestling match to get her to lay still for me to put them in tonight!

Here is evidence that Cali does eat vegetables!  She has broccoli in her mouth.  I made a bowl for me tonight and she ate most of it!

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's Potty Time!

Big News Today - Cali pee-peed in the potty!

The proud girl pointing at the potty!
This morning Cali told Nick she needed to go pee-pee.  He asked if she wanted to go in the potty.  And... she did!

We have had the potty out for a while and she will pretend to go but today was our success!
Now we have to decide if we are committed to potty training.
Any tips from the moms out there?