Eleanor’s Smitten Kitten 2nd Birthday Party

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I love planning my kids’ birthday parties. It’s always so much fun. Over the years I feel like I’ve really honed in on the craft. I’m far from having it perfect, but I’ve worked out a system that works pretty well for me. I went from trying to do absolutely every cute thing I saw on Pinterest to narrowing it down and having a plan and a place for everything. My sisters tell me every party, “ok, I think THIS is my favorite party that you’ve done” so I must be getting some things right. 😅 One way or the other, I always have fun doing it.

For Eleanor’s 2nd birthday I tried asking her what she wanted to do. I thought ponies would maybe win her over, but she wasn’t game. So I started looking through Pinterest with her, and as soon as she spotted a kitten cake, she was sold. She told me over and over that’s what she wanted (she’s a very opinionated 2 year old). It was decided! Smitten Kitten was fairly easy to work with. I started pouring over Pinterest; looking through posts of other kitten parties, deciding what I liked best, what was worth doing, what I should buy, and what I should make.

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Once I had that done, I got right to work. Normally I plan the girls parties pretty far in advance. That gives me time to make all my decisions, create everything that needs to be created, and it gives me a little more wiggle room in the budget. HOWEVER, with everything we went through over the winter and being sick all the time, little Eleanor’s birthday snuck up on me before I even knew it! I had to decide the theme and get everything done in 3 weeks.  Surprisingly I actually pulled it off! I can’t give you an exact number of what I spent on all of the decor, but it was under $100-including the cake and cupcakes. Granted, because I have 2 older girls, I’ve been able to recycle a lot of things. Even still, I felt pretty good about how little we were able to spend on this party.

I ordered a pack of 20 toddler sized headbands wrapped in satin ribbon on Amazon. There were cheaper options, but I know the plastic ones can be really irritating after just a couple of minutes, so I spent a couple of dollars more to get ones with a little bit of cushion. I bought some different colored felt from Hobby Lobby (they have the best selection), and I spent one evening cutting out cats ears and hot glueing them to the headbands. I also ordered some small golden bells from Amazon and put those on string for the kids to wear as collars. They ended up being smaller than I thought (check the size next time), but the kiddos still got a kick out of them.

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I put the ears and collars in a tray together with some eyeliner so parents could make little kitty faces on their babes. I bought 2 containers of eyeliner, but we barely even used one.

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I found these adorable kitten cookie bags on Amazon and thought they would be the perfect little favor stuffed with some Goldfish.

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They were a huge hit and looked super cute with all of the other decor.

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This garland was one of my favorite touches. I used this tutorial from Pinterest. She used little pieces of paper for the whiskers, but that was too much work for me, so I just drew them on with sharpies. The other thing I did differently was that I simply taped them to the string. Hers had a really cool 3-D effect, but again, too much work. I was thrilled with the way it turned out! Plus, it only took me a few episodes of whatever show I was watching at the time (probably New Girl) to finish it.

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My other favorite touch? These adorable kitty cat marshmallow sticks!!!! I mean, come on! How much cuter can you get??? I got the idea here. I bought the straws from the Target Dollar Spot, and then I bought the markers for it off of Amazon. I feel like I maybe also bought a skinnier black pen from Target also…but I don’t really remember. Either way, they worked out really well and everybody loved them. The “2” is one of my recycled decor items. I bought a wooden “2” from Hobby Lobby for Lane’s second birthday and covered it with scrapbook paper using Mod Podge. This is it’s 3rd appearance.

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I saw somebody put a toy mouse with the cheese for another kitten party. It was too cute to not repeat. That being said, I was having a hard time finding a cute toy mouse-most of them were ugly cat toys. SO I found this tutorial on how to make an origami mouse. I had to watch the video at least 4 times, and this specific mouse was my 2nd attempt, but since I already had the paper, I didn’t actually have to spend any money on it. The tablecloth I got a few years ago at Kohl’s for another birthday party. I found it on clearance after Valentine’s Day for around $7. I’ve been able to use it quite a few times, so that’s been nice.

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I couldn’t find any reasonably priced (or cute) kitty cat cups, so for the kids cups, so I bought the cheap plastic ones and drew little kitten faces on them with a sharpie before the party so they had enough dry time before having any liquid in them. I bought the cute little pink sign at Michael’s last year for Lane and Raegan’s birthday party, but never ended up using it. It was on clearance when I bought it then for $.50 I think. I honestly don’t even remember when or where I got this tablecloth. I *think* it’s a piece of fabric that a friend gave to me to use for a costume when I was teaching theatre classes and doing a bunch of theatre things… I could be wrong about that. But hey! it worked out really well as a tablecloth for our drink station. The chocolate milk was a HUGE hit. The regular milk, eh, not so much. Now I know.

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I made the cake and cupcakes myself. Betty Crocker makes my favorite boxed cakes. So the night before the party, that was my only task. In years past, I’ve made a few boxes of cupcakes in addition to the regular cake and ended up with far too much cake (and we usually have a TON of people at our parties). This year I made 2 boxes total: 1 for the cake and 1 for the cupcakes. It was perfect. Turns out you can actually make fondant in advance, so if I end up making fondant again, I’ll be making it ahead of time. It’s actually easier to make than you would think-just super, crazy messy. I make the kind with powdered sugar and marshmallows. It’s so so good. Here’s the recipe I used. I had a ton left over, so I cut out little ears to put on the cupcakes and then added the kitty faces with a frosting pen. It was a last minute addition, but it was so worth the extra effort.

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I got this cute little wooden cat from Hobby Lobby and painted it pink. The stand it’s on is from the Target Dollar spot. The golden “2” balloon from the first picture is also from the Target Dollar spot. The paper that the cupcakes are on is recycled from my sisters baby shower. And the white and coral striped tablecloth is a DIY that I made a few years ago for a different party. I saw this one and instantly fell in love. It, however, was from Anthro and was $100. There was no way I could spend that much on a tablecloth. I searched and searched for some DIY’s on how to make my own. None of them ended up working out, so I figured it out on my own. I bought 3 yards of a linen blend white fabric from Joann’s. It was less than $30 with a coupon. I taped down stripes and spray painted it. Once I figured it out, it wasn’t that difficult. I think at the end of the day, it cost me around $30 to make. I’ve pulled it out every. single. birthday party since and I am just as in love with it now as I was then. I’ve done several different themes and this tablecloth has worked with every single one. It’s so versatile. If anybody is interested I could do a tutorial post. Just let me know in the comments!
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I bought Eleanor’s dress from Harperschiccloset.com. They have some of the sweetest clothes I have ever seen. The dress ended up being a little bit big for her, but she still looked so darling! All in all, it turned out to be a great party. I had so much fun doing it, and it was probably the least stressful party I’ve ever thrown together. I’ve only got about another month before I start prepping the next party. Now it’s just time to pin down that theme…

Our Judah Story-Part 6-The Aftermath

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I remember little from the rest of our stay at the hospital. I was on so much medication and my body was so drained, I slept more than anything else. A few people came to visit us, and I was so tired, I would wake up just barely enough to see who it was, and then fall back to sleep, mouth open and all, without even caring. There were times I tried to stay awake and visit, but I simply could not keep my eyes open.

I remember talking with our grief nurse, Debbie. She was amazing. I don’t think I would have made it through those few days without her. I think we stayed there two more days before they told us I was well enough to go home. They offered for us to stay longer if we wanted, but left the final decision to us. We thought it would be best to leave that room behind. I got out of bed and took a shower. For the first time since our arrival I looked at myself in the mirror. My color was starting to return, but I looked way too skinny. Never had I imagined I would think that about myself, but there it was, hanging in the air. I was too skinny. I had only gained about 10 lbs during my pregnancy, but I lost around 35 pounds in fluid during the delivery. I hadn’t weighed so little since the very beginning of high school. It ached to see the empty spot where my full belly had once been. I would have gotten pregnant again that day if I could have.

We stayed with my parents over the next few weeks. I still needed to be watched closely-I wasn’t out of the woods quite yet. I was placed on strict bedrest. Because my blood pressure was still so high, I was told I had to keep the lighting in the rooms I was in really low. I could watch t.v., but nothing stressful or too intense. I certainly wasn’t allowed to drive, or do any lifting, or cleaning, or even a lot of mothering, for that matter. That was the part that hurt the most. I wasn’t able to take care of the sweet baby I did have.

Shortly after leaving the hospital, we made arrangements for a memorial service and burial. Debbie had somehow managed to get us a spot in a nearby cemetery that was specifically for babies and small children. There technically weren’t any spots left, so I’m not sure how she swung getting that spot for us. We chose a tombstone. It had lambs on it, with the words, “Little Ones to Him Belong.” In case you don’t remember. We still thought our baby was a little girl. We had named her Ruth Abigail. Her name was going to be engraved on the tombstone as well.

In the midst of planning everything, Blake received a phone call. “We have the final lab results from the amnio and CVS in” the voice on the other end informed him. She confirmed that our baby had Triploidy (three full sets of chromosomes), which we already suspected. “There is one other thing I have to tell you” she admitted. She apologized profusely before finally letting Blake know that the little girl I had given birth to was actually a little boy. As soon as Debbie had heard the results, she insisted they tell us the truth, which we so appreciated.

I had been outside when Blake got the phone call. I knew the news wasn’t good when he called me in. There is a lot he doesn’t remember about this season in our life, but he remembers this specific instance with great clarity. Having to deliver the news to me and the rest of my family just about killed him. For me, I had spent my entire pregnancy bonding with a little boy. It wasn’t a huge shock to me. I was sad, yes, and I was a little bit shaken. But my biggest fear was that it was going to be my only chance at having a little boy. For everybody else, however, they had spent time bonding with and grieving over a little girl. It was a pretty hard hit. I never blamed the ultrasound tech. We should have known it was too early to really be able to tell. We never asked for confirmation when he was born. In fact, going back and looking at pictures, we saw the boy parts. We were simply too grief stricken to even think about it. We were so close to the memorial and burial, and now we had to change everything from girl things to boy things. Thankfully, Debbie helped with the bulk of that. We returned pink flowers and got blue ones. I decided on a blue dress instead of a pink one. Those types of things. It was certainly not what we needed at that time. But we pulled through. We made it.

The memorial service was beautiful. Our worship leader sang, and our pastor spoke. Blake and I each shared a little bit. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of people who came out to love on and support us. There were so many people packed into that room-we didn’t even have enough seats set out. And so many of them had traveled to be there, some people I hadn’t seen in a very long time. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I felt so loved and cared for. The burial the next day was much more intimate, but still so lovely. Our friend, Jimmy, who had spent countless hours at the hospital with us, spoke for it. Some of our dearest friends took time off of work to be there with us. We felt so blessed. It was a beautiful day, and while I felt so sad, I started to feel a little bit of hope. We had named our baby boy Judah Joseph. Judah means “Praise” and Joseph, “He will add.” There were so many promises packed into those two little names. My heart held tight to that. My heart still holds tight to that. And my heart needed all the hope it could get to hold me together for the months to follow.