Finally - The Babies' 1st Birthday Post

I like to be consistent in my late postings of special events. So such is the case for the twin's 1st birthday party. I have tons of pics which I will try to scale down to a somewhat reasonable level.

For weeks (and I may have mentioned this) leading up to the party, I scouted etsy, smocked auctions, etc etc to come up with a theme. We (and by we, I mean me) finally settled on a sailboat/nautical theme, mainly because I found some precious outfits and wanted them to be worn more than once. They were perfect for our Alabama getaway so I just figured we would make them work as birthday outfits, too.

Anyway, I went a little crazy with the cakes for them but other than that, I think I managed to keep it pretty under control. I can say for sure that had our families not pitched in the day of the party to baby wrangle, help fix dishes, and decorate, we would have been hard pressed to get everything done. Suddenly that morning, it made complete sense to me why people rent out those inflatable places or gyms and have parties there. Namely because it was roughly 100 degrees outside and once we got everyone at the party, it was about 85 in the house. And then they provide everything and the entertainment??? Yes, please. But for the first birthday, I of course wanted it to be at our house. And I think we'll do the same next year - except maybe we'll scoot up the party a couple of weeks so everyone doesn't melt. Either that or we are having a swim party every year from now on.

A HUGE thank you to Aunt Emily & Uncle Zeb who kept an eye on the kids, kept me calm, and helped prep much of our food - not to mention last minute runs to the grocery and the adult beverage store. Big thanks to Uncle Blaine & Aunt Christina -- Blaine made some delish meatball appetizer thingies that were sadly all gone by the end of the party (I was hoping for lefties!) and my amazingly creative sis-in-law who made the Rice Krispie treat favor "lollipops". I don't know where she comes up with this stuff, but they were precious. And to the rest of Matt's family who made the trek from Round Rock and spent a couple of hours putting together some really awesome gifts for the twins (pics below) - so special to have y'all there. (Gigi and Steve came in the weekend before and we had our celebration for the twins then, including an awesome swingset for the kids & ice cream cupcakes --- they, like us, were leaving for Alabama that week so it was just too much to pack into one weekend.)

At some point during the party, I looked around and was almost in disbelief. I just felt incredibly blessed at that point, knowing how many people cared about our kids and wanted to share in this special day. I almost couldn't believe we made it (and survived!) a year. If the next 17 go as fast as this one, I am in trouble. I almost had a breakdown when they did their smash cakes --- how am I going to feel when they turn 18 - yikes!!! Suffice to say, insanely hot temps and all, the party was fantastic. Instead of writing too much more about it, I'll just post some pics. Happy 1st Birthday, Ryan & Quinn! You are loved! (and incredibly spoiled, evidence below)

The one family pic we were able to capture before craziness ensued

And again, in color, just in case.

Mommy & Quinn (I don't know where Ryan had disappeared to at this point :( )

Ma and her grandbabies

Quinn's cake. It was perfect. Save for the fact that the cake lady put the WRONG middle initial. For the record, it should have been an "E". But that was pretty much the only ooopsie of the day, so we'll live.

Ryan's cake. We will always do a cake for each kid & never a joint one. I want them each to feel special.

The adult cakes (real ones) and the smash cakes for the babies (vegan, no eggs)

I think this was when they came out of the ball pit, a gift from Mommy & Daddy. It was a huge hit. And you can tell from Q's face that the temperature in the house had soared to at least 80. Can you tell I have massive heat intolerance???

Sweet Caroline & her daddy Ryan. (If you've read this blog for any amount of time --- C is a MIRACLE baby. Born at 29 weeks gestation and weighing only 1lb 14oz. Doesn't she look fantastic??!! Here she is about 9 months later.

The ball pit again. It was also a hit with the older kids. And the Happy Birthday banner, which no, I didn't make. I am not crafty in the least. That was an etsy purchase.

Cousin Riley holding Quinn

Matching bloomers/boxers for their smash cake experience

And here we go!

I think she was looking at me in confusion.

Here son, this is how you do it.

Ryan was still trying to figure it out - Q had gotten into it at this point.

First taste. Priceless.

Q was VERY serious about her cupcake eating.

Aunt Emmy & Quinn (who gave us the 1st birthday bibs)

Ryan and Uncle Christian

Some of the gifts (cars from Aunt Em & Uncle Zeb)

Quinn opening gifts with help from Riley & our little friend Joseph -- who was my big helper that day!

Q on Thomas. I'm not sure why we didn't re-dress the babies after cake except that it was HOT. Did I mention that already?

Ryan was losing his pants in the excitement.

And what would be a gift from Uncle Blaine and Aunt Christina without a little Longhorn madness thrown in? (Quinn also got a pink UT outfit) And their Thomas the Train has been a twin favorite as of late.

One of my besties, Ash - who has supported and loved us all through this entire journey. I have spent many a lunch with her, laughing, crying, and sharing this parenthood experience. A friendship to be treasured!

Our other great friends, Libby, Gil and little Grayson --- Joseph, their other son, was the one who helped me choose the gifts to open and helped me with the cards :) They are wonderfully sweet people and I feel blessed to have reconnected after 10 years! (Libby & I were sorority sisters at LSU)

Happy Ryan. This was shortly before he went into a sugar-laced coma

And there's the coma. Or it looks like something "special" was cooked into the cakes. Either way that child needed a nap desperately.

And sweet C again :)

Q showing off her pushing skills. If it is not bolted to the floor, she'll push it.

Matt and cousin Ady

What a precious day for our family. Blessed, blessed, blessed. Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us and has loved on our sweet children. Cheers to surviving a year - here comes year 2!

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Babies 1st Real Vacation - Pointe Clear, Alabama

Every year my mom's side of the family hosts a family reunion. Typically, it's in Sandestin but this year they changed the locale to The Grand Hotel in Pointe Clear, Alabama which is between Mobile and Pensacola on Mobile Bay. It's a beautiful location and once we got the clearance to travel with Quinn (provided we didn't fly because of her oxygen levels), we made plans to attend. It had been 3 years since we had been to the reunion so we were really looking forward to it --- not to mention having a little relax time.

Well, because of crazy planning on my part, we decided to leave the Sunday after the twin's party. OMG. I can't even describe the scene around here Sunday as we scrambled to pack and pack and pack some more. These kids do not travel light --- and I've never been known to be a light packer either. We finally got loaded up by 2:30pm and hit the road with plans to make it at least halfway to Baton Rouge to spend the evening. However, because of mistiming on our parts and the lack of the children to want to sleep in the car, we only made it as far as Lafayette. We ended up at a Chili's for dinner where the kids had their first meal off the kid's menu (a hamburger and corn). They were so thrown off by the car ride that most of the meal ended up on the floor with me apologizing profusely to the waiter for the mess.

After a rough night in the hotel room (Quinn decided for the first time in MONTHS that she was absolutely going to die of starvation at 2:30am), we re-packed the car and headed back on our way. We ended up making to Slidell in perfect time for lunch at our old stomping grounds, Southside Cafe, and had a delicious lunch and reminsced on memories of living there. Of course, as we did 2 years ago when we drove to Hilton Head, we made the requisite trip back through our old neighborhood. I am sad to report not much has changed from those days --- a handful of lots are still left with just foundation poured and many of the little condos are up for sale. It was one of those moments where we thanked God for bringing us to Houston, even under terrible circumstances, and praises that we were able to rebuild and sell so quickly after the storm. We felt incredibly fortunate as we drove away -- and even though I miss things about Louisiana, I know 100% that we are where we are meant to be.

Anyway, about 3pm we finally made it to Alabama - and after a little scenic drive we found the house that we rented for the week. My first thought was "Oh, crap.". The house was great and clean and nice, but in no way baby proofed. I don't know what I expected but it certainly didn't include a huge furnace surrounded by a large tile block - perfect for slicing open a head - right in the middle of the living area.There was momentary panic about how we could re-arrange furniture and assemble our baby gates so that our kids could survive the vacation without stitches or plunging off the deck. We did finally get it somewhat proofed by the next morning after an early morning trip to Target - so I finally started to breathe again.

That Tuesday we headed out to explore downtown Fairhope, which is a precious little area with tons of restaurants, boutiques and antique shopping. We landed at Panini Pete's which was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (pretty much my favorite show on the Food Network). Besides the incredible heat of the restaurant (it is TINY inside), we all had a great lunch and little stroll around the area. By that time, the babies were in desperate need of a nap, so we headed back to the house for some relaxation.

One of the smartest things I did was to find a wonderful nanny on care.com. I knew that Matt and I would need some adult only time, and plus once the reunion started, the night activities were not exactly kid friendly. Anyway, our sweet sitter came on Tuesday evening and Matt & I headed out to an oyster bar for dinner & followed up with a drink at the lounge at the Grand. The nights in Alabama were perfect -- with the bay breeze, it actually almost got chilly & we took a lovely stroll on the large pier at the hotel and even tried our luck fishing with some cane polls (didn't catch a thing but it was fun to try). 

On Wednesday, we decided it was time for the kids to hit the beach. The "beach" in the area wasn't exactly the white sands of Destin, but it did have water, sand, and shells, so we figured it was good enough for the kids first taste of the beach. We lathered the kids up with sunscreen, pulled on all their beach gear and cover ups, and set up "camp" with a sunshade and chairs for Matt & I to relax in. Well, by the time that was all done, the babies were effectively over the beach experience. We did go in the water with them which both seemed to enjoy at first (Ryan the most). We let them sit on the sand and have the waves roll up to them and got a few smiles. But after about 15 minutes, they were DONE. Quinn got miserable (I think she swallowed water) - so we got them dried up and attempted to put them in the tent so Matt and I could eat our lunch and have a little adult beverage. No go. Quinn was so exhausted that she wouldn't stop crying, then she got hysterical - by the time I carried her to the car to change her back into dry clothes, she lost it -- and lost her lunch all over me and the trunk. Awesome. Nothing like the smell of the bay and blueberry yogurt all over your swimsuit and car.

I think I screamed something to Matt about getting the heck home, and we repacked our stuff (are you seeing a trend? Pack, unpack, repack, that was vacation) - and headed back to the house where the babies took a nice, LONG nap and mommy tried to recover from the "excitement". And here's the part where I am mom of the year - no pictures taken at the babies' 1st trip to the water. It was too difficult to have one person trying to make sure the babes weren't putting sand in their mouth or being washed away. Priorities.

Late Wednesday night, my mom and Steve arrived to 2 very tired parents. I was thrilled to see them and felt vacation may actually start at that point. Of course the first thing my mom did was take a trip out on our pier and it was only pure exhaustion that kept her from throwing her fishing pole in right then and there. Of course, by Thursday morning, we were fishing out at the dock after grabbing some bait. It was perfect and relaxing. And with little humility, I would like to mention that I caught the first, biggest and most fish (at least from our dock). Thank you very much. Thursday afternoon was spent relaxing and then my aunt & uncle came over to see the babies and the house - and all of the adults left for dinner with R&Q in our trusty nanny's hands. We had an amazing dinner at The Wash House, where I seriously had the best tuna ever. Again, we wrapped up the evening at the Grand where other family members were starting to arrive and got home WAY too late after having WAY too much fun.

Friday morning was the annual charter fishing trip for the family, and Mom, Steve, and Matt headed out in the early dawn to participate. While I love fishing, I do not love fishing off a boat in a bay - I have too many memories of getting motion sickness, so I stayed behind. Plus, after 2 weeks of almost constant activity and no "Meagan time", I was really looking forward to being by myself for just a couple of hours. Angie came again, and I headed out for some alone time shopping in Fairhope and having lunch. I had a couple of good finds, but mostly just enjoyed the quiet. By the time I arrived home, the fishermen were back from their trip - a little sunburned but a lot happy after catching quite a bit. But even all of that fishing didn't quench my mom's thirst for fishing (that woman LOVES the water & LOVES to fish), we went back down to the dock for a little more "relaxing".

Another quick nap, some showers - and we headed with the babies in their little matching sailboat outfits (Thank you, Smocked Auctions!) to the cocktail reception at a local house. It was great to see people I remembered from 3 years ago and to introduce  the babies to their cousins. We stayed there for a bit, then headed back to the house to drop the babies off for bed, and headed back to meet the rest of the family at The Grand (are you seeing a pattern there, too? It was wonderful!). After another late night in the hospitality suite, we crashed as soon as we got home. And as is typical, the babies awoke super early (they only do that when they know Mommy & Daddy have been out past our bedtimes - it's Murphy's law at it's best).

Saturday morning was filled with a business/stockholders meeting for my mom & I and then Matt & Steve brought up the babies for the lunch. They were sooo good at the lunch and got lots of loving on from our extended family. I will say it's so nice to have extra hands around -- half of the time I would look around at these functions and be like "where's my kid"? Someone was always wanting to hold or cuddle with one of them. And I am totally fine with that - I hold them enough at home :)

Saturday night was the fancy dinner night where it's time for the adults to truly relax and have fun. Dinner was delicious (that's one of the best parts of the reunion --- amazing food & no bill! ha) and we had fun getting to know some more folks (y'all our family is HUGE). We had plans to stay out later, but by 10pm we were kind of over it. We tried to rally and especially wanted to hang with our favorite cousins Alan & Kelly, but exhaustion won out.

Sunday morning was spent again in frantic mode to pack back up the car --- not only because we had to be out of the house by 10am, but also b/c we wanted to catch the babies on a naptime so we could have a little peace and quiet in the car at least part of the way. We made it out just in time, but the babies were so confused that I think they only napped for an hour or so and then I spent the next couple of hours playing endless games of peek-a-boo from the front seat until we could get to a place to have lunch. After lunch, we prayed again for a nap as we were attempting to make it home in one day (typically it would take 2 adults about 7 hours to get to PC, but with 2 babies - you're looking at more like 9 with all of the stops, diaper changes, bottles, and meals). Once the babies woke again from the world's shortest nap or so it seemed, I had pretty much had it. I was ready to just drive and we decided to let Matt take over peek-a-boo duty.

He outdid himself when he squeezed himself in the backseat to play with the babies and watch Megamind on the DVD players, while I concentrated on not killing us on the road with no view out of the back and on the world's worst stretch of highway on I-10. I can't tell you the relief when I saw the Houston skyline. We made it home in one piece, got the kids fed and bedded, and enjoyed some sushi since we were technically still on vacation. I will say that although I was skeptical about the whole driving back in one day thing, it was really nice to get back to our own beds, and I know the babies were relieved as well.

So, after all that wrap up (which is mostly for my memories and probably bored you to death), vacation was good. It was definitely an experience to travel that far with 2 one year olds - and not something I care to repeat anytime soon. I think if the babies were even 6 months older, it would have been a little more relaxing. As of now, they still typically take 2 naps a day, and with all of their meals and bottles (yes, we are coming off of these now), you really only have an hour or two max to go do anything. But we made some great memories, I had a great time with my husband as always, had some relax time with Mom and Steve, and ate and ate and ate. As mentioned above, I was terrible with the camera this vacation - too busy to think about it - but we did manage to squeeze in some shots before the end.

 Just pretend that there is a picture of the babies happily splashing in the bay (for a moment) with their little speedo beach shoes, sunscreen plastered over their face, and their little precious bodysuit/swimsuits. And be glad there isn't a picture of the hysterical throwing up all over my trunk.

Here are a few shots:

Playing in the baby pool in the yard in front of the bay

Loving the water

Quinn of course being busy and wanting to crawl out

There's water in my face, Mom!

Gigi bought this bow for Quinn and it just  happened to match both of their outfits perfectly!

On the deck of our house

Happy Girl! She just loves her Gigi.

Waving Ryan & Gigi

Ryan was being his chill self.

There's a toothy grin of a one year old!

View from our house deck

Another one. It was beautiful - especially when the dolphins were jumping in the morning

1st bath in the sink. Bathrooms were all full.

First family reunion activity for babies

At the podium

Aunt Lace and Quinn

My handsome hubby
Mom & Steve

Mother/daughter pic

Party time!

Uncle Rykert & Mom

Me and my uncle

Our favorite cousins to hang with! Kelly & Alan

Sweet Kelly!

Sweet, sweet hubby hub. Love you, babe!

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