Worth Celebrating

The board, with chalk lettering done by our close friend, Christin (check her out at Southern Sugar Bakery), welcomed everyone to our party!
The board, with chalk lettering done by our close friend, Christin (check her out at Southern Sugar Bakery), welcomed everyone to our party! {photo – always autumn studios}

Happy Birthday, Leland! — With gratitude we remember, and with great anticipation we look forward to all of the days to come.

I must say, this is the foremost reason we LOVE to celebrate birthdays – we celebrate the Lord, who is Life, who is the Giver and Sustainer, the Savior and Sanctifier, the Healer and Lover of life.

And along with that, life can get crazy sometimes. And be mundane on other days. Raising children is about the hardest thing. SoI think it’s vitally important – to give and to get a glimpse of heaven and all that the Lord has for us in abundant life here and eternal life on the other side of the sun – to set aside days, to plan and to execute a CELEBRATION, a special day, a party. I think the Bible shows us this way, I think Jesus exemplifies it at the wedding reception where He turns water into wine, that we need to enjoy, to celebrate, to party.

When we celebrated Leland’s birthday with our family and friends a couple of Sundays ago, we celebrated each day the Lord has preserved his life; the reality that the Lord has grown Leland in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man (which is also our prayer for him as we enter the third year of his life).
We celebrated the hope that we have in Christ that Leland will be saved, that he will live to the glory of the Lord, and that he will enjoy many days this side of heaven, and all eternity on the other side.

God uses simple bread and wine to show us Christ’s precious body broken and blood spilled; God tells us to look at the flowers to display the way in which He will provide for us. Again and again in Scripture, we are shown BIG realities in bite-sized portions.

Which is why I think a simple party with family and friends is the perfect way to celebrate life so grand.

Inspiration for the theme of our party was simple – Leland loves his moo-cow. So, naturally, I decided we would have a farm party.

I started with the invitations and the place.

I found this invitation through Pinterest on Etsy - It was simple to order it and I loved working with the lady (I hope to order Christmas cards through her). I had them printed on 100 lb cardstock at a local copy place. It is definitely a  less expensive way to get great looking invitations.
I found this invitation through Pinterest on Etsy – It was simple to order it and I loved working with the lady (I hope to order Christmas cards through her). I had them printed on 100 lb cardstock at a local copy place. It is definitely a less expensive way to get great looking invitations.

Leland is 100% boy and loves to be outside. So, with the farm-theme in mind and the fact that anything at a park is better, we chose to do our party at a property complete with a playground, big open green grass and blue sky, a picnic pavilion, and a horse pasture.

The Pavilion {photo - always autumn studios}
The Pavilion {photo – always autumn studios} :: When I start a guest list, it doesn’t take long to come up with a great group of people. Our big family plus friends and babies makes for a fun gathering!

With a date and place decided, I mailed invitations to family and friends.

Then, I started to think about food and fun. Let me say this :: At this point in party planning, I get all of the girls in my family involved. I cannot – nor do I like! – to do anything by myself. DIY = waaaaaay overrated. But everyone doing it together? = that’s my kind of fun. Plus, I’m great with seeing the big picture, but not so wonderful with implementing every little tee-niny detail.

Wanting to do easy-to-grab snacks, I looked to Pinterest for inspiration (click here and you can see my inspiration board).

Here’s what I – well, we – came up with. {photos – always autumn studios}

Pigs in a Blanket :: we decided to use galvanized trays and buckets in keeping with our farm theme to serve the food
Pigs in a Blanket :: we decided to use galvanized trays and buckets in keeping with our farm theme to serve the food and we covered the tables in red & white gingham table cloths
When I asked Tyler’s grandmother to make a birthday cake, all I said is, ” think I would like it to be white.” Well, Grandmom OUTDID herself! She searched all over for the farmer figurines, drew and cut out the red tractors with inspiration from the invitation, and even wrote “Happy Birthday Leland” on the top. Plus, it tasted good! 😉
Cow Krispies :: My sister made these delicious treats, which were quickly devoured // I asked the etsy shop owner if she would make food labels that coordinated with the invitation – didn’t she do a great job!? I just loved working with her and the graphic designs that she produced.
I think these little party plates are just so fun!
I think these little party plates are just so fun!
The Watering Hole
The Watering Hole :: We served simple Country Time lemonade and water. I brought gallons of water and daddy mixed the lemonade in the serving pitcher. Below the table sat a cooler with water bottles on ice.

We also served…

Scarecrow Crunch trail mix

Pretzel rods or “lumber”

Haystacks

Oreos, better known as “tractor wheels”

*

Now for the fun. Since a playground, plenty of wide open space and green grass, plus a horse pasture right next door with friendly ponies coming up to the fence wasn’t enough, I mentioned to Stephen, my brother in law, “Wouldn’t it be neat if we could do tractor rides at Leland’s party?”

And the next thing I knew… we had a tractor for tractor rides!! (Thank you Stephen for saying “why not!?”, Jim for asking Bob, and Bob for having a tractor!!)

A vintage Farmall tractor, the children were pulled along on a trailer bed
A vintage Farmall tractor, the children were pulled along on a trailer bed
The children loved just looking at it and comparing their height with the height of the big tires.
The children loved just looking at it and comparing their height with the height of the big tires.

a farmall tractor

The experience was complete with tickets, also made by the sweet lady at papernoted.
The experience was complete with tickets, also made by the sweet lady at papernoted.
tractor ride
Tractor Rides!! :: Poppop (Tyler’s dad) driving the tractor
we have a philosophy -- the more the merrier! -- so we piled on as many as we could to sit and ride and enjoy together the tractor ride!
we have a philosophy — the more the merrier! — so we piled on as many as we could to sit and ride and enjoy together the tractor ride!

And if all of that fun wasn’t enough, we had a piñata, too! It’s cute because Leland was watching Curious George one day, which is his fav, and the little children were having a birthday party. Leland was cracking up laughing at the kids hitting at the piñata. When I asked him if he would like a piñata at his birthday party, which I hadn’t really mentioned anything to him about it otherwise, he said with great enthusiasm, YES! So, we did 🙂

Gotta Love Amazon :: This little fella came to my doorstep, and then we filled him with confetti and candy. The children loved it and the sweet treats served as our party favor :)
Gotta Love Amazon :: This little fella came to my doorstep, and then we filled him with confetti and candy. The children loved it and the sweet treats served as our party favor 🙂 (link to amazon)

We also enjoyed …

big bubbles with big bubble wands

swinging, sliding, and the sandbox

tossing bath and forth a football and frisbees

seeing the horses

I really hoped that the horsies would come say hey to the children, and the friendly guys didn't dissapoint!
I really hoped that the horsies would come say hey to the children, and the friendly guys didn’t dissapoint!
Leland, climbing the fence to visit the horses
Leland, climbing the fence to visit the horses

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Decor helps us to taste and see that the Lord is good, y’all, so we didn’t forget about that!

table decor
the table decor came together with much heartful help from the ladies in my family
IMG_8770
happy birthday!!
we even had a mini tractor!
we even had a mini tractor!
Centerpiece
southern cotton in a mason jar on picnic check tablecloths
table decor
i really wanted farm – not autumn – and i think we accomplished it

There are a couple of other detail-ish things that we did for the party…

outhouse
it [almost] seems better to use a port-a-potty when you have a cute sign on the door 😉
IMG_0501
with kids you never know what you’ll need, so i packed full a tin of supplies and let everyone have at it

Whether you celebrate with a big ole party like we had, or a cupcake and a candle, it’s important to celebrate. It’s good for our souls; the Lord made us for celebrations. That’s why we like them so much! And we certainly have reason to celebrate – Christ. in us. the hope of glory.

the birthday boy!
the birthday boy!! happy Birthday, my Leland-love

lavished love

praise the Lord – today, I listened to my little man and, by His great love which He has lavished on me, I responded in love.

….

Leland and I were driving home from bible study, when he announced, cake pop – cake pop!

We were driving past Starbucks, the yummy place with milk and cake pops.

I asked Leland, baby, would you like a cake pop?… and with an excited yes! from the back seat, I turned around, and we drove through the line at Starbucks, commencing Leland’s two year old birthday celebration.

Surely, this is a simple way to celebrate. And something I could have distracted him from, dismissed altogether, or indulged after he (may have) whined.

But I love that the Lord reminded me in my heart of His lavish love with which He loves me! — and I thought, I can do this good for my son. I can show him that I love him with a simple yummy, a cake pop. In the same way that the precious Lord uses simple means to show me His great love, I can show Leland my love for him by driving through the Starbucks line and requesting, two cake pops, please!

What momentous memories we can make with our loves when we remember the Lord’s sweet love for us, when we respond out of the overflow of His love, when we say yes, yes, yes, yes, my child, I love you and yes, I will do you good.

celebrate!
our delicious delights

image-1

the Giver of all good gifts

Christmas was a happy season of celebration for us – we enjoyed celebrating Jesus’ birthday, who is worth our celebration all month, all year, all of our life, and forever and ever! Tyler and I talked a lot about the fact that we want our Christmas to be about celebrating Jesus, that we want to be apart of whatever helps to celebrate Him, and that if it does not help to celebrate, then maybe we won’t participate. We want to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. And we think we can tangibly do that through celebrating Christmas. It will be fun to see how the Lord shows us how to celebrate Himself throughout the coming years with each other, with our family, and with our friends and neighbors.

We gave and received so many wonderful presents – this is one wonderful way to celebrate Jesus, who is our Gift, and who is the Giver of all good gifts – and this is one of the presents that we gave our family this year…

We announced with a framed photograph to our family that we are expecting a second joy August 19th!
We announced with a framed photograph to our family that we are expecting a second joy August 19th!

I have so much that the Lord has taught me to share with you! For now, I am about ten and a half weeks pregnant, not sick like I was with our first little love, and excited to be apart of this glorious work of the Lord. I think it truly amazing that any woman could get pregnant, carry to full term a baby, and keep the child alive, by the grace of God, for any length of time. Can you believe some people live until well over one hundred years old!? It’s truly and always and only the sweet precious grace of our Lord, who gives rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. And we again praise God from whom all blessings flow.

With this sweet announcement we said Merry Christmas and we are saying Happy New Year to all of our family, friends, all of the precious people in our lives. And I look forward to sharing so much more with you in the coming posts.

Celebrate the Christ!

The Magnificent Baby Jesus Savior - Let's Celebrate!
The Magnificent Baby Jesus Savior – Let’s Celebrate!

Here we are, thirteen days into December – the most wonderful time of the year! Truly, Jesus’ birthday is worth celebrating all month – all year – our entire life time – and into eternity! Doesn’t He just thrill you!?

And I love how the precious Lord Jesus gives us simply tangibles to show us His magnificent glory! Think of it – in the Old Testament He showed the Israelites His timely provision with the daily manna. When the Lord washed the disciples’ feet, He displayed to them loving servanthood at its finest. God uses bread and wine to portray Christ’s body broken and His blood spilled out for us

And I love at Christmas time the evergreen trees that remind me that we have a Living Hope in Christ. I love hanging garland, twinkling lights, mugs of hot chocolate, and all of the rest that show us the Love of Christ.

I really have enjoyed accessing everyone’s creativity and applying it in my own home through Pinterest.

Here are a few of my favorites from Pinterest – and here’s a link to my Celebrate : Christmas, Jesus’ Birthday board.

I love what the Driscoll family 'does with Santa' and one day, this is how we want to enjoy the fun holiday and Santa with our children!
I love what the Driscoll family ‘does with Santa’ and one day, this is how we want to enjoy the fun holiday and Santa with our children!
jingle bell wreath
When I saw this wreath, I thought – perfect! I already have the bell wreath. Now, all I need to do is add ribbon and hang it somewhere wonderful.
Christmas Packaging
What fun labels! I will simply have these printed at a copy store, cut them out for gifts, and attach. So cute!
Christmas Cross Wreath
The living greens remind us why Jesus came to earth – to give His life for us. Praise the Lord! Here’s a link to a great post on these wreaths. She explains it so well why I love these wreaths.
bucket of greens
This little copy-cat project was about the easiest decorating I did this Christmas. I already have a blue ceramic square shaped planter on my front porch. It was empty and just waiting for something to fill it. I went to the closest Christmas tree lot near by and grabbed only one FREE branch. I cut off the mini-branches, clustered them in the pot, and voila! finished and beautiful 🙂

Celebrate ’til My Stomach Hurts

Glitter and Ribbon * The love of my life and me, happy, at Sunday lunch

I just love celebrating birthdays. I always have, and since our son was born, I love it even more. Every year should be celebrated; It’s one more year, alive. It’s one more year, preserved. It’s one more reason to celebrate our good, living Lord. So, when my birthday came around this week – and I am a glad twenty-seven years old – we celebrated.

It started out as a lunch celebration with my sweet friend, Carolyn, who is Leland’s adopted grandmother, Miss C – which does end up sounding like ‘missy’ – and I think that’s sweet, too. She treated me to my favorite place, Winston’s, (which I wrote about in a blog post) and I enjoyed my favorite dish, the black and blue salad. The waitress let me drink my weight in sweet tea and then treated us to a brownie topped with ice cream and whipped cream and a lit candle for a little extra special celebration.

The next day, my mother in law, Amy, wined and dined me – well, I drank water, actually… 😉 – at another one of my favorite places, Zest. (I’ve written about this little hole in the wall, too.) We love to look around before we sit to eat and at this time of the year, Zest is full to the ceiling of Christmas wonderland for you to take home as your own. Perfect!

Saturday was a beautiful day of simple family delights. and Starbucks.

This seems like it’s getting out of hand – and I’m not even half way through!

Then, Sunday, daddy and mommy made a big ole pot of my favorite vegetable soup, complete with cornbread, and last but not least, homemade apple pie! – This was the first time my mom has made homemade apple pie. Applaud! Applaud! And she did it for me, sweet woman.

(I didn’t even tell you that Sunday night, we celebrated another family member’s birthday, where I enjoyed a tall slice of chocolate cake with raspberry ganache. And then I got a coke…)

Of course, now you are seeing a trend – I am eating my age in dessert.

The eating and celebrating did not stop there, either. Monday night my other parents, Tyler’s parents, took us out on the town to Bella Monica. I wanted italian and they said we must go here. The waitress sprinkled our table with confetti, filled our plates with delicious food, and sashayed us through the door with to go boxes replete with cannoli that I actually liked! If that wasn’t enough…

Amy made me a chocolate cake. Chocolate is my favorite. favorite favorite.

That was Monday night. We haven’t even made it to Tuesday, my actual birthday.

Daddy took me out to Cooper’s, my favorite place to eat fried chicken, collards, and butter beans. The salt of the earth wait staff there sang happy birthday while I fed complimentary carrot cake to Leland.

Leland is holding out his hand toward the coming plates of food – He knows good when he sees it
My heaping plate of southern food
He’s gonna get himself some of this! This is Leland’s first hushpuppy – and he loved it so much, he enjoyed another one

I feel like this could be a children’s story – full of celebrating, laughter, and sweets piled high.

For my birthday dinner, because I wasn’t finished eating yet, Tyler blessed my heart by cooking me dinner. And not just any dinner. Look at a quick pic of my plate.

Doesn’t it look deliciously perfect!? It was!

We invited our family over to sing Happy Birthday one more time and eat funfetti cupcakes. I am certainly swimming in sugar, now. And enjoying every minute of it!

So, regardless of how it may sound, I did receive a few things non-food. These stunning roses are from my handsome, romantic husband 😉
Noelle, my sweet sister, blessed my heart with the prettiest, glitteriest card I’ve ever seen!, and a gift certificate for a pedicure!!

Now it’s Thursday and I do think for at least the few weeks from now til Thanksgiving I might want to cut back on the sugar, lest I fall over from all of it.

Our family’s tradition since I was a small child, orange rolls for birthday breakfast!

But I will not stop celebrating, that’s for sure. Life from the Lord and life in the Lord is worth all of the celebrating in the world, all of the eternal celebrating in heaven. So I will celebrate – and one day, in the new earth, maybe I’ll be able to enjoy all the sweet tea and chocolate cake to the glory of God I would like without it being a problem. It seems reasonable, don’t you think?! 😉

This is the gold glitterful card Noelle, my sister, gave to me – Isn’t that quote from Jane Austen perfect!? … and I do believe it, too! “One cannot have too large a party.”

Blessings Garland

Our garland and a How To for you 🙂

I love autumn – the slow entrance of cool weather, vibrant colors, pumpkin spice scents, and donned scarves helps me to welcome summer’s exit. (because I do love summer, too.)

image from Cardigan Way, pinned on my “Celebrate: Autumn and Thanksgiving” Pinterest board

I love autumn for …
camping
all of the fall colors
s’mores
cider
pumpkin pie
Thanksgiving
birthdays! – Tyler’s, Leland’s and my birthday line up to be celebrated in autumn

I even have a board all for autumn on Pinterest, full of ways and reasons to celebrate this delightful season.

And I have gotten a lot of inspiration from Kelly and her blog series, Savour the Season, at The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking. (which, I think is the cutest name, don’t you!?)

Life lived to the full is summer for me. And life thankful is autumn for me.
Thanking the Lord for all of his blessings. Sipping hot cider and savoring life’s gifts. The season is perfectly tied together by the ribbon of Thanksgiving.

So this season, after we took down the Happy Birthday garland for Tyler and Leland’s birthdays, we hung our blessings garland.

I took inspiration from Kim McCrary’s blog, All Things Simple, which I found through Pinterest.

Kim’s Garland – She used needle and thread to make the garland.

Here’s how I made our blessings garland ::

Step One – Using a printed template, I cut leaves out of construction paper. I cut each shape out of the four colors – red, orange, yellow, and brown; each shape per one construction paper sheet.

Step Two – Tyler and I together thought of all of the Lord’s blessings to us throughout this year and I wrote them on the leaves.

Step Three – I hole punched the stems of the leaves.

Step Four – Using brown yarn I purchased from the dollar section at Target, I strung the leaves along the yarn.

Step Four – Tyler tied knots in each end, hung the garland, and arranged the leaves. All done!

Count Your Blessings, One by One

We Sing! We Shout! We Celebrate!

Y’all, from the minute Leland was born, I prayed for and planned his first birthday party.
Remember, we prayed – Lord, preserve his life. – And I knew that to celebrate his first year preserved, we wanted to get together all of our family, all of our friends, all of the sweet people who have been apart of Leland’s first year, and celebrate the Lord.
We have so much to celebrate!
1. the gift that our son is to us
2. he is a life preserved
3. the many days the Lord has given us with him, with our family, our friends
4. the tiny surprises and big adventures we have enjoyed
5. too many to count!

So here we were, the weekend after his birthday, gathered at a Raleigh love, Pullen Park, celebrating with most of our family and friends – all of those who could come! We happily chatted, enjoyed party sandwiches, sipped lemonade, ran around, sang happy birthday, and of course, ate cake!
Tyler prayed to the Lord – a prayer from a man, from a husband, from a father, proud and glad. I am just so humbled by him; I so respect him. The Lord is surely shaping my husband.

What a day!

**Many of these photos were taken by a family friend of ours, who also has her own blog :: Carolina City Girl

Here’s the full view! I love to use balloons to decorate – they are simple, good looking, big impact.
Drink up! We served lemonade and water, along with juice boxes for the children. This is how my family helped : We all brought a few gallons of water from home. I brought the drink tags, paper straws, plastic cups. My mom brought the glass water pitchers and daddy carried in the ice. We mixed the lemonade there and added sliced lemon rounds. We kept the ice in a blue and white cooler and everyone helped themselves!
This says it all 🙂 We used this balloon on Leland’s highchair, which folds up nicely and travels easily.
It’s all in the details ** Can you see down the table? We perched the blue and white polka dot napkins on a glass pedestal; we bagged the homemade popcorn in chevron striped bags from a local etsy shop; we topped the blue and white cupcakes wrapped in polka dot paper with party sprinkles. Our theme : classic baby boy blue and white!
We celebrate you, Lord! and the life You give! The pennant banner in the background is a collection of pictures throughout Leland’s first year. Of course, this was a “do-it-everyone” project 😉
A closeup of the pennant banner
Robin, my sister in law, made the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. They were delicious! I love using a cupcake for the first cake a little person will devour. It’s the perfect size 🙂
chocolate cupcakes, on my cake plate
We served – the grandmothers and great grandmothers to Leland helped – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, and cucumber sandwiches – atop cake platters, marked with little flags I purchased on clearance at Target. I wanted to keep the food simple and classic, easy for tiny hands and yummy to all.
We served goldfish in party cups and homemade popcorn in chevron striped bags. I wanted all of the food to be simple and yummy and I think we achieved both 😉
These mini old fashioned blue and white swirl lollipops were our party favors – aren’t they so cute!?
Happy Family! – Leland just getting into his cupcake right after we sung happy birthday over him. He clapped along with us and we just couldn’t be more excited!

*If you like something you see in today’s blog post, pin it! and follow me on pinterest 🙂 Have a happy weekend!