Saturday, April 12, 2014

{Holiday: Aksel's 1st Birthday!}

Our sweet babe just turned one! And the good news is that his birthday dramatically improved from this point...

Primarily because we very quickly acknowledged that removing the cupcake from in front of him, even for a minute, was a baaaaad idea. The kid had never even had a cupcake! How did he know it was worth missing that much?! Perceptive little guy. The picture above was the result of momentarily swiping the cupcake in an attempt to remove a portion of that massive pile of icing. After that I had to go into full-on ninja mode just to remove the cupcake liner before he started shoveling.

I mean look at that determination, perfect form for minimum crumb loss.

I think it's safe to say he enjoyed the cupcake.

But let's rewind. The cupcake incident actually occurred the day after Aksel's birthday. 

The day of his actual birthday began as all birthdays do in our house, with presents! Sadly I don't have any pictures because both Andreas and I were too busy monitoring Anders 'assisting' with gift unwrapping to whip out the camera. We busied ourselves the rest of the day playing with new toys and reading new books, only taking the occasional break for a Chick-Fil-A ice cream or McAllister's macaroni and cheese. Basically everything a one year old boy's dreams are made of. And with all that excitement, I flat out forgot to get to the cupcake place before it closed.  Buttttt, our boy deserved his cupcake, so we just picked one up the next day!

The birthday celebration continued on Saturday morning with a low-key brunch.

There was plenty of yummy food...

...and a bunch of black and white photos to share some of our favorite memories over the past year.

In lieu of a birthday cake, I opted to artistically stack donuts on a cake platter. Eat your heart out, Pinterest moms ;)

Aksel didn't seem to mind one bit. While the parents ate and mingled, the kids crawled, cruised, walked, and ran around the house, playing with toys, begging for donuts, and generally having a great time.

What a joy this year has been. Aksel has increased the size of our family, expanded our capacity to love, inhibited our ability to sleep, bestowed the. best. cuddles., and tolerated a fair amount of rough affection from his older brother. He is the perfect fit in our foursome. We love you, Aksel!

Monday, February 24, 2014

{Holiday: Anders' 3rd Birthday!}

I have a three year old. I can hardly believe it myself, but Anders turned three today. I'm not going to get all sappy, but I do want to say this in case someday, somehow Anders happens upon this online journal. He is an absolute joy, and the last three years have been the most fun, most rewarding, and most sanctifying of my life. I am beyond grateful to be his mom. But that's not really where I'm going with this post. 

We actually celebrated Anders' birthday yesterday since it was the weekend and Andreas was available to participate in all of the fun. We began the day in classic Vang tradition, singing Happy Birthday (Andreas in Danish and me in English. Surprisingly it doesn't sound all that bad, albeit a bit confusing.) and allowing him to open all his presents in bed. As you can see from the picture below, no one loves him and our relatives aren't generous at all...hopefully you are sensing the sarcasm here.

One thing I planned was to give Anders a bunch of small items, grouped in threes, to emphasize his new age. I mean, when you've been reinforcing the number 2 for an entire year, you can't exactly expect your child to understand that they are suddenly a different age! So we gifted him a bunch of these little groupings throughout the day, each time counting the gifts and discussing his new age. It was actually a lot of fun! Three pairs of socks, three pairs of sunglasses, three punching balloons, three cups, and three spinning tops and water guns, which aren't pictured. Some of these items he needed, and others I pulled from the dollar bins or clearance sales at Target.

In addition to the little packages of three, Andreas and I also got Anders a Big Flyer Tricycle. After shoveling a special donut breakfast, we headed outdoors to work off the sugar rush take it out for a test drive! So far, it totally has my endorsement. Anders is juuuuust short of comfortably reaching the pedals, but using a folded hand towel for extra cushion has mostly eliminated that problem (although he still struggles to pedal through turns). It has three different seat positions, so it should be usable for years to come. And if he tires of it, I'm sure Aksel will be happy to take it for a spin.

Just a little later in the morning, my sister arrived to hang out with Aksel so that Andreas and I could get some quality two-on-one time with Anders. Our first stop was Cosmic Jump, an indoor trampoline park. Most of the experience looked like this.

Just kidding! Anders really did have a great time. Now don't get me wrong. He fell. A lot. But it was hilarious, and he wasn't ever hurt. For anyone interested in doing something similar, I would vote this a total success. Andreas has been to another indoor trampoline park and said this location was pretty ghetto, but there are several other companies to choose from in the area. If somebody has a favorite, leave a comment and let me know!

After an hour (yes, an hour) of jumping, we had worked up quite an appetite. Since Anders' favorite restaurant (Chick-Fil-A. He has a very refined palette.) isn't open on Sundays, we weren't really certain where we would eat. By some sort of happy coincidence, we decided on Steak 'N Shake, and it was perfect! With paper hats and a cardboard race car, Anders was more than happy with our choice. And to top it all off, they comped his meal! Some quick Googling after-the-fact turned up several threads that say Steak 'N Shake has a Kids Eat Free on the weekends policy?!

The last stop of our expedition was the movie theater, where we watched Frozen. I didn't take any pictures, but imagine a large, dark room with stadium seating and a little boy covering his ears for almost two hours. Hahaha, in his defense it was super loud! Anders did enjoy the movie, but it usually takes more than one viewing for something to really gain favor with him. I, on the other hand, thought it was amazing and can't wait to listen to the soundtrack again!

On the way home we picked up a couple of cupcakes to share. One word, people, Gigi's. You can thank me later. 

After yet another meal/snack whose main ingredient was sugar, we headed back outside to burn some of that energy.

I think Anders would tell you it was a pretty awesome birthday. I better start planning for next year!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

{Week in Review}

Friends, I feel that it's my duty to warn you that this may quite possibly be the dullest thing you read all day. It's been a rather unremarkable week, resulting in the following narrative of random information. But now that I've properly lowered your expectations, I feel like we can move on.

A couple of days this week were spent in our pajamas, under self-mandated quarantine, waiting for a stomach bug to run its course (I told you this would be boring, did I not?) Naturally the extended time stuck at home required us to employ some rather unconventional methods of entertaining ourselves. 

Luckily, sickness didn't keep us down for long. The morning after Anders woke throwing up, I quickly went to work, creating a cozy (and easily cleanable) place where he could rest. It didn't take long before I was feeling like a sucker, though. I mean look at that kid. He was living it up, watching Pixar movies and eating endless Saltines.

The week certainly perked up from there, and we were able to celebrate Valentine's Day in good health. We gifted Anders and Aksel each a book, and at the last minute I included a keychain tape measure from the Target dollar bins for Anders. Ooooooh, mamas, go get you one today. That tape measure has accompanied us everywhere, and Anders has measured everything from the coffee table to cracks in the pavement. However, as much as he adores his 'measure', I'm pretty sure I received the best gift of the day. Andreas surprised me with this amazing bouquet, and it still looks gorgeous!

Improved health also meant that we could get out and enjoy some of this incredibly beautiful weather we've been having lately. (I realize that those of you in colder climates might be cursing me under your breath as you read this, but you'll feel sorry for me in a few months when I'm already melting in the unrelenting Texas heat.) Anyway, we loaded the boys into the wagon and walked to our neighborhood park. I'm dying over Aksel's hair in this picture. All three of my guys, Andreas included, have these 'wings'. Their hair grows so much faster behind their ears than anywhere else! I have to admit, however, Aksel does appear to have best achieved the Farrah effect with those windblown locks.

Left: Aksel (February 2014); Right: Anders (April 2012)
While he couldn't quite keep up with his older brother, Aksel did his best exploring, crawling, and climbing around all the new-to-him playground equipment. 

I think it's safe to say he had a good time.

And I can guarantee that you'll be seeing more park pics in the near future. Now that we've had a taste of the outdoors again, it's going to be hard to keep us inside!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Holiday: Valentine's Day

Are you looking to prepare some quick, last-minute valentines for your little ones? Well you've come to the right place. I used this free printable to create some adorable treats for Anders to pass out at his Mother's Day Out valentines exchange. I simply tied the labels to applesauce pouches using twine, and we were ready to go!

Not only were they cute, but it felt like a parenting win that I was sending something other than candy. Obviously applesauce isn't exactly sugar-free, but surely I score some points for effort. And though I succeeded in helping Anders avoid the seemingly inevitable sugar overload associated with Valentine's Day, he was unable to avoid a slightly different holiday peril - the glitter mustache.

Don't get any ideas, girls. He's my Valentine for now.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

{Real Life: No Excuses Version}

Y'all. It's been almost two and a half months since my last blog post, and there's really no excuse. I mean first there was Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, and then I had to make a bunch of resolutions to quickly abandon, and now here we are. Please believe me when I say I've missed you. But while Thanksgiving and Christmas were epic, the thought of recapping the last couple of months is way too daunting for me to attempt. Instead, how about I get a head start on our next holiday?

Last week I collected a vast array of red and pink and purple craft supplies so that the boys and I could make a Valentine's banner. Anders, as always, took his work quite seriously.

He is so creative! Not surprisingly, he kept gravitating towards the glue and scissors. Oh, and washi tape. Loads and loads of washi tape.

I, too, was feeling inspired. While Andreas most certainly is my main man, I couldn't resist making  Valentine's hearts for my two littlest loves.

So there you have it, the beginning of our Valentine's Day festivities. And hopefully the return of regularly updated blog entries!

Monday, November 25, 2013

{DIY: Wreath Upgrade}

Friends, I was at Hobby Lobby today and became inspired to conquer a quick DIY project. It's nothing spectacular, but I thought I would share. 

Though not my original intent for visiting the store, I started perusing the Christmas aisles after noticing the brightly-colored 50% off signs plastered every three feet at eye level (score one for Hobby Lobby marketing). Anyway, I found myself wandering toward the holiday wreaths and innocently picked up a garland for closer inspection. That's when I quickly remembered why I had never purchased a wreath. $30?! For some plastic berries on a string?! Not a wreath in and of themselves, but intended to serve as one of many elements that when joined together with much attention and finesse could serve as a respectable door ornament?! I'll pass, thankyouverymuch. But it did get me thinking about the Christmas wreath I've uncerimoniously slapped on our front door the past several years. If I'm being honest, I don't even remember where it came from. Although, if I had to guess I would credit the woman whose collection of Christmas decor would put Mrs. Claus herself to shame. That's right, my mother. I don't know if this particular wreath was thrifted, gifted, or replaced, but somehow I became its owner. Sparse and smashed, it's served me well for five years. But today, I decided it was time for an upgrade. So there in Hobby Lobby I searched for a few decorative items that fit my qualifications: gold, glittery, and cheap. 

Once the littles were settled in for naptime, I began the makeover. First I removed all the old wreath decorations with the exception of the pinecones. It was at this point I realized I hadn't actually purchased anything to attach my new decorations to the evergreen wreath, so I did my best to salvage the fishing line and floral wire from the old stuff. Armed with scissors and my Hobby Lobby loot, I got to business. And 1 hour and about $10 later, I had my final product. Is it the cutest wreath ever? No. Will it be the cutest wreath on my street? Probably not. But people, it was under ten dollars!!! Compared to the triple digit prices I saw earlier this morning, I consider this a win. 

Here's a breakdown of the cost for anyone interested:
-Evergreen wreath: Free (reused)
-Pinecones: Free (reused)
-Gold wire ribbon: Free (flattened, recurled, and repurposed)
-Glittery, gold ornaments: $2.50 (after 50% off sale; there were actually 6 in the package but one was broken)
-Gold, bead rope: $1.50 (after 50% off sale)
-Glittery, gold leaves: $1.50 (2 at $0.75 each after 50% off sale)
-Wide, glittery, gold, wire-edged ribbon: $4.00 (after 40% off coupon; I still have several feet leftover)
Total cost: $9.50

Sometimes people try to tell me they aren't crafty. This project is proof that it does not always require a special skill set to take on a DIY project. Can you tie  knots in fishing line? Can you wrap ribbon around your finger? Can you deal with massive amounts of cheap glitter stuck to your hands? Then you're good to go! And that big bow on top? I just stapled a bunch of ribbon loops together. Don't tell anyone I cheated. 

So, if you have something laying around that is in need of a little TLC, maybe now is the time! There's nothing like a little Christmas crafting to get into the holiday spirit!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

{Week in Review}

Texas weather can be a bit unpredictable, but that's nothing you didn't already know. This week, fall has been having a bit of an identity crisis, and we decided to take full advantage. The leaves are boasting their autumnal hues and temperatures are hovering in the upper 60s, an irresistible invitation to head outdoors. So today we packed up lunch and headed to the park. 

A bit of playtime was essential before filling our bellies. 

After we spread out our grub, Aksel kept climbing into my lap as if to say, 'Gimme dat food Momma.' Just look at that face.

In the meantime, this little guy was in PBJ heaven. Sidenote - can you imagine a more difficult way to eat a sandwich?!

After filling up on pretzels and clementines, it was back to the playground. Lucky for us, our neighborhood park has two swings!

Aksel and I retreated to the sidelines after a while to play in the grass and watch the colors dance above our heads. 

And Anders happily played with his monster trucks. 

In an effort to keep it real, I want to let you know that this particular outing ended with me wrapping my own pullover around a certain little boy after a potty accident threatened to leave him pantless. I then proceeded to quickly pack up our lunch and blanket and get the boys bundled into the stroller just in time to push them home in the rain. So I guess my point is, not everything is as picture perfect as it may seem on the internet!