Man Cub's 2nd Birthday

Feb 23, 2015

Last photo as a 1 year old!

Man Cub's actual birthday was a pretty low key day. Bruce was sleeping after a long night at work, Sunshine had school and Beebs and I had preschool. We celebrated Man Cub in preschool with a yummy treat and singing Happy Birthday. The kiddos and I ran errands in the afternoon. (I upgraded my phone in preparation for a trip to Disneyland... I was tired of running out of space for photos on my phone, so poor Man Cub spent part of his day at the mall.)

After we picked Sunshine up from school, we got Bruce Wayne out of bed and it was finally time for presents. Man Cub was much more into present opening by this point... he wasn't interested at all during his birthday party! He was really excited about the little gifts his sisters had chosen for him- especially the Mack truck that could haul all his other toy cars. He spent the rest of that afternoon playing with Mack, and countless hours since. He has even been known to sleep with Mack at night. By far one of his most favourite toys ever.

After presents, we went to Freddy's for dinner. Man Cub was insistent that he wanted hot dogs for dinner, but once we got his food, he proceeded to just eat fries and watch cars out the big front window of the restaurant. But he was happy!

It was a great second birthday for our Man Cub. Between his actually birthday, his fun party and a trip to Disneyland just days after his birthday, we could not have had more fun celebrating our special little man.

Man Cub's Car Mat

Feb 16, 2015

When each of my girls turned 2, I made them a raggy quilt out of fabric featuring their favourite Disney character of the moment. For Sunshine, it was a Finding Nemo quilt, for Beebs it was a Wally quilt. As Man Cub's second birthday approached, I knew exactly which character his quilt would be made from... all the friendly citizens of Radiator Springs.

The thing is- Man Cub hates blankets. Maybe "hates" is too strong a word, but he certainly doesn't like them, unless he is crawling into my bed in the morning and wants to "snuddle" me under my blanket. But in his bed, he refuses to sleep under any kind of blanket or covering. He also has no interest in using a pillow...

Knowing that Man Cub doesn't even like blankets, I started to doubt whether it was worth the effort of making him a Disney quilt for his second birthday, but I love the tradition of making my children something special at that age. Then I remembered a car mat I had seen at a friend's house. They had hand drawn and painted it on a thick piece of fabric and it literally covered the majority of their living room floor. It had a school and a church, their home, a grocery store and a park. It even had a football field and clock tower. They had personalized the entire thing and even now that their kids are grown, it is something they hang on to and pull out when little friends (like Man Cub!) come to visit.

I suggested to Bruce Wayne that perhaps we make Man Cub a car mat of his own, and maybe we could even model it after his favourite Disney movie? Bruce was all over this idea and was more than willing to put his awesome artistic talents to use to sketch out the initial design on a large painters drop cloth. Then he traced it all in permanent marker and passed the project on to me for painting.

I had an absolute ball painting the car mat. I took dozens of art classes in high school and college and use to do all sorts of artsy things, but as I got married and had children, those things took a back seat. Of course, I've still enjoyed photography and the occasional craft project here and there, but painting.... sigh. I had forgotten how much I enjoy painting. I put all my painting and colour theory classes to good use while painting Man Cub's car mat, as I carefully tried to match our project to a map of Cars Land from Disney's California Adventure. And I think the finished product turned out darn good!

We gave Man Cub the car mat at his birthday party and we have all enjoyed playing with it ever since. Beebs especially enjoys getting it out and parking all the Cars characters in their respective homes. I am still a little giddy each time the kiddos get it out to play with as I think about all the time and effort Bruce Wayne and I put into this gift. Hopefully it will be a gift that Man Cub treasures for many years to come.

Materials Used:
* A large painters drop cloth purchased at Home Depot
* Delta Ceramcoat acrylic paints
* cheap brushes! (The rough texture of the drop cloth destroys brushes! Don't use expensive ones)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Man Cub At Two

Feb 12, 2015

Man Cub turned 2 in September. I took a few photos of him at the Ranch while in Utah this summer, and I kind of intended for those to be his updated portraits. Then, we did our family photos in November and I got a few really cute shots of him (including one with his "I'm ignoring you face, which we see oh-so often these days!), so his 2 year portraits are a mix of July and November pictures... pre and post his "big boy haircut". I love both sets of photos for different reasons. 

I finally remembered to schedule a well check for Man Cub in December, at which time he was 28.2 lbs, had a 19.75 inch head circumference and was 36.25 inches tall. The pediatrician said he is in the 80th percentile for his height and is on track to be in the 6'2" range. Bruce and I could hardly believe it! We don't make tall children... not until Man Cub came along anyway. Right now, in February of 2015, Man Cub is just an inch or two shorter than Beebs, and only about 3 lbs lighter than her. He is catching up fast and I would not be surprised if he passes her up by this time next year.


* Snacks: cookies (especially Oreos and the honey wafers I use as fuel when I run) 
* Foods: noodles, toast
* Drinks: Lemonade 
* Movies: Cars, Cars 2, Monsters University 
* Words to say: "ya-ya" (his name for Sunshine), "matt" (Mack- from cars), "Mi-Mough" (mickey mouse) 
* Songs to dance & listen to: "The Mack Song" (Life is a Highway by Rascal Flatts)
* Songs to sing: Popcorn Popping, Do As I'm Doing
* Activities: Play with cars, play tag and hide and seek, jumping

Man Cub's Favourite Things

Second birthday parties are my favourite... I'm not quite the emotional mess I am as I plan a first birthday party, and it seems that little ones develop so much personality in those months leading up to turning 2. When Sunshine was approaching her second birthday, we decided to go with a "Favourite Things" theme, so we could celebrate all the things that she had decided she loved and it was such a success that we have stuck with this theme as our second birthday tradition, and it is the birthday party I most look forward to with each child.

Man Cub's Favourite Things party was over four months ago, but I've fallen so behind on blogging that I am just now getting around to posting it. And as I've looked back through pictures, I realize I didn't do the best job of documenting it... but as you'll learn throughout the explanation of his party- he really wasn't all that into having everyone gather in his honour. Ü

The Invitations

The invitations were pretty simple... just silhouettes of some of Man Cub's favourite things... and several of these items were part of the festivities. I love watching him develop preferences and decide what he loves and what he doesn't care for. It was fun to incorporate his loves into an invite and a party. 

The Menu

The menu was filled with... you guessed it, Man Cub's favourite things. We had pizza as our main course (with green salad for those of us adults who can no longer live on pizza alone), watermelon cubes, Oreos dipped in chocolate to resemble Mickey Mouse (Oreos are another Man Cub favourite) and homemade lemonade to drink. Man Cub loves him some "nade". Super simple menu but the food was a hit. Especially the salad. It flew off the table.

The Decorations

I based the decorations off Man Cub's love of Cars... which also happens to be one of my most favourite movies Ü I found some Cars twirly things at Party City, then used black table cloths and masking tape to make the tables into roads. Orange traffic cones completed the look, along with red and black paper products. Inexpensive, super easy and I think it looked awesome.

The Cake

We toyed around with a lot of different cake options... there are some really awesome Cars cakes on Pinterest... but ultimately, we went with an idea Bruce came up with that was super simple and very tasty. I made Death by Chocolate cupcakes, topped them with basic buttercream frosting then stuck a "black wall" or "white wall" tire on each cupcake. The kids loved them and I loved that they did not take hours to put together. No pictures of Man Cub eating his cake... he wanted nothing to do with it when the time came. I think we still managed to sing Happy Birthday, but he really was not interested in the typical party festivities like eating his birthday cake or opening his presents.

The Birthday Boy Attire

Man Cub wore shorts and a t shirt... pretty much his go to outfit. I did pull out his Monsters University Squishy Squibbles shirt though, since that is another movie he just loves. And for quite some time after he was first born, we called Man Cub Squishy, so it seemed appropriate.

The Guests

Man Cub still isn't quite at the age where he has true friends of his own... he definitely has some little friends that he enjoys being around, but his most favourite people in the world are his sisters and Sunshine's two best friends, Abby and Audrina. A&A are like two more big sisters to him and he just adores them. Sunshine thought it was great to have her besties at Man Cub's party. We also invited our awesome next door neighbors who have become like extra grandparents to my wee ones and all our local family. It was a pretty small party, which was really good because Man Cub was not interested in opening presents or doing typical party things. He just wanted to play with his cars, eat pizza and drink 'nade.

The Activities

No big activities for this second birthday party. And good thing, since I'm sure we couldn't have convinced Man Cub to participate! We just ate, hung out, and had his second birthday slideshow playing in the background. Low key.

The Favours

When we started talking about Man Cub's party, Sunshine decided that the favours needed to include a hotwheels car for each child who attended. Sounded good to me! We filled a pirate bag with the car, a lollipop and a sheet of Cars stickers and sent one home with each friend who came. Beebs was my big helper putting the bags together. That girl loves a good party as much as I do! She's always so excited to help me put everything in place.

Despite Man Cub not wanting to do the cake or presents part of his party, he did seem to enjoy being surrounded by his favourite people and eating his favourite foods. He was absolutely spoiled with Cars and Planes toys that he plays with almost daily. My favourite part of his birthday celebration is the gift that Bruce and I slaved over for the month leading up to the big day... but that deserves an entire post of it's own, so be on the lookout! And hopefully it won't take me another four months to get around to writing it. Ü

A Quick Weekend In Utah

 Now let's take a little trip back in time and attempt to get this blog caught up! We will be rewinding to the beginning of September when it felt like we had only just arrived home from our summer in Utah, just for Man Cub and I to head back that way again. My dad's youngest brother, who had spent most of his lifetime being extremely sick, had passed away.

I debated over going up for the funeral. I wasn't particularly close to my uncle, but I felt a strong desire to be there for my dad. The problem- I was only about 3 weeks into teaching preschool and felt horrible about drastically rearranging our school schedule to accommodate my travels. I also wasn't sure how on earth I could afford a flight on such short notice, but I found a killer fare on Allegiant Airlines that had me leaning towards going. Then my brothers in California told me they were both flying out and that sealed the deal. Not only was I going to get to be there for my dad during a difficult time, but all six siblings would be together for the first time in years. 

My preschool parents were beyond agreeable to the funky schedule that week for school, and it just so happened that the days I would be gone were Bruce's days off work so child care for the girls was not an issue. The stars truly did align to make it possible for me to go and I am so, so glad that everything worked out as it did. Man Cub and I had a wonderful visit with my family during which I realized the importance of having that one on one time with my children. In fact, the trip made such an impression in that aspect that Beebs and I recently took a quick weekend trip to Utah to celebrate her 5th birthday. Post to come eventually Ü

The flight up was a breeze. I was super nervous about it as I was flying Allegiant which allows you one personal item that fits under the seat in front of you at no charge. Anything else requires extra fees and I was determined to make this trip work for the least amount of money possible. I crammed everything Man Cub and I would need for 4 days into my gym bag, including my running gear, in hopes that I could get a good training run or two in while I was in a nicer climate.

Once we arrived, my mum picked us up at the airport and we headed to her house. Man Cub was really excited to see familiar faces that he hadn't seen in 6 weeks. He was especially excited to be reunited with my parent's dogs and their cat "ah-wee". My brother T had already arrived and after we got to my mum's, he asked if Man Cub and I would be up for a walk. I was so excited about the cooler Utah temps that I readily agreed. We put Man Cub into the stroller and set out on a 4 mile walk to the Provo Temple and back. Man Cub fell asleep while we were out and T and I enjoyed chatting. There were difficult parts to the conversation as I found that T has made some choices that I myself find hard to swallow, but I love him so much and I was able to express that to him as we enjoyed some quiet time together.

We spent the rest of Sunday hanging out as a family and enjoying a big Sunday dinner, just like when we were all growing up. It was so nice to be with all my siblings and to see everyone there to support and uplift my dad.

Monday was the funeral. I went for a short run before hand and it felt so good to run those familiar streets... in the rain! Man, I love running in Utah. And I was happy to find that my lungs had not completely lost their ability to run at a higher altitude. Then I showered and got ready for the drive to Wyoming for the funeral.

The funeral was difficult... it was hard to see my dad broken up and upset. He's not the type to show tons of emotion, so when he shared some memories of my uncle and started to cry, that was really hard to see. I, along with some of my siblings and cousins, sang "I am a Child of God" at the funeral, and at the cemetery my dad dedicated the grave. It was a wonderful overcast day and I loved the chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Utah and Wyoming as we made the drive to and from the funeral.

My siblings and I may have had a little too much fun at the cemetery... like I said, this was the first time we had all been together in quite some time. We decided to use the cemetery as a backdrop for a quick sibling photo, but things got a little silly, rather fast. This is one of my all time favourite photos EVER... My mum even had this photo blown up and framed and it now hangs on her living room wall. We're all growing up, and in some ways growing apart, as we make different choices and take different paths, but I love these people with all my heart and I'm so glad they are my "little" sisters and brothers.

After the cemetery, the Relief Society from the chapel we were using prepared a very nice dinner for us all before we headed on our way. I thought that was beyond kind of them, as it has been years since any of my dad's family has lived in Lyman, and they had no reason to provide food for a group of strangers who were using their chapel. I hope Heavenly Father blessed them abundantly for their efforts, especially as we lingered longer than necessary, enjoying the chance to be together.

Tuesday and Wednesday were low key days full of hanging out... Man Cub and I just enjoyed the chance to be together. We played outside in the rain, we went out for cupcakes and got lunch with my brothers. Man Cub even tried his first bites of sushi. He liked!We snuggled and enjoyed Nana and Papa time. I just felt like I couldn't get enough of my little guy and I came home from this trip with an even greater love for him and a stronger bond with him. Ever since about April/May, Man Cub has been all about Bruce, but having him to myself for 4 days helped the two of us to reconnect and he's back to loving his mama just as much as his daddy-o.


Wednesday morning I went on a long run past both Provo temples, then met my dad for lunch before boarding a plane back to Arizona. I was so excited to see my girls and Bruce (and I had managed to fit a donut from our favourite donut store in my bag for each of the girlies). Man Cub enjoyed playing cars as we waited to board our plane, and once we had found our seat, he curled up against me and slept the entire flight home. It was heaven.

I hate that it was a funeral that brought us all home for a quick weekend in September, but boy do I cherish the memories of those 4 short days with Man Cub, my siblings and my parents. We had a blast, despite the sad circumstances. I am so very very grateful for families... both the one I was born into, and the one that Bruce and I are creating.
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