Happy 2nd Birthday, Anthony!

My Dearest Anthony,

Happy 2nd birthday! When you were a baby (at 2, I think you are officially not one anymore!), 2 year olds looked like such “big kids” to me. Well, now you are one of those big kids! I didn’t think that I could possibly love you anymore than I did last year, but I was wrong – my love for you keeps on growing. I have a feeling I’ll say that every year. It has been so fun to watch your little (actually big) personality grow this year and to see the little boy you are turning into. Your sense of humor cracks me up and you are constantly making yourself, me, dad, and others laugh. You are definitely into all things “boy”. Your playroom floor is overflowing with trucks and balls. You especially like garbage trucks and basketball. You love to play “I’m going to get you”, jump on trampolines, and are a natural in our Mommy & Me soccer class! Although you do like all things “boy”, you are very empathetic and polite. I have never seen you hit or take another kid’s toy at the playground. Also, you get upset if somebody else starts to cry. You love to snuggle me in your rocking chair every night before bedtime with your “night night” long after your sippy cup of milk is gone and your teeth are brushed (although I’m not sure it’s because it allows you stay up later 😉 )

This year you loved to hang out with your friends on playdates, at stroller strides, and in soccer. You got your first haircut, took swim lessons, Nonnie and Papa moved close to us, and we went to Big Bear with the neighbors as well as Chicago again. You are starting to talk up a storm and I love getting that new glimpse into your personality and thoughts.

I thought I would be sad to see your “baby years” end, but I am loving each age more than the last. I can’t wait to see what adventures this year brings us.

I love you to the moon and back,

Mom

PS-I don’t care if you’re 80….you’ll always be my baby

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The Three Amigos’ First Fiesta

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How adorable are these 3 little amigos?? Two other moms on my street were pregnant at the same time as me; one was due a few weeks before and one was due a few weeks after. Neither was finding out the sex of their babies (I could not even wait to find out until the standard 20 week gender ultrasound and went for an early 3d ultrasound to find out…did I mention I hate surprises but love planning?). I was convinced that they were going to both have girls as not to get my hopes up. Well, I could not have been happier when not one, but both, turned out to be boys! And thus began the 3 amigos…

At one of our very early playdates (which I’m just now realizing is so much more for the moms than the kids at the that age) we decided to do a joint first birthday party with a “3 Amigos’ Fiesta” theme. This past Saturday we finally put it into action and it could not have turned out any cuter! We had the party at the neighborhood park at the end of our street. We had a taco cart set up in the park for the food, pinatas for the “big kids”, and matching mariachi onesies (complete with “Uno”, “Dos”, and “Tres” sewed on the back in order of their actual birthdays) with sombreros for our birthday boys. A great thing about “fiestas” is that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on decorations. Four emptied refried bean cans became “vases” for white flowers tied with twine. We hung red and green balloons, a couple of banners, and the pinatas served as both decor and a game! Last but not least was red, green, and white smash cakes for the boys as well as a sheet cake with a picture of the boys for everybody else to enjoy. Also, don’t forget, you don’t need “3 Amigos” to have a fiesta…with only one “amigo” or “muchacha” a fiesta does make 🙂

Ole!

PS- Our street also has a lot of “happy hours”….I highly recommend, Mamas 😉

amigos decor

Funfetti Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

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For Anthony’s first birthday, I wanted to make the perfect cake. Never having made a cake from scratch, I soon realized that this might be a lofty goal. The more I scoured Pinterest the more intimidated I became. I mean, who makes 3 layer cakes with animal sculptures on it from scratch?? I swear I saw that. As I was about to give up and go buy my trusty cake mix box, I realized I was overcomplicating this. Funfetti! Funfetti just reminds me of happy childhood memories which is exactly what I wanted to give Anthony. Plus, you do not need to be able to sculpt monkeys out of fondant to decorate a Funfetti cake. Perfect.

I made the cakes during Anthony’s naptime and then made the frosting and assembled the cake after he went to bed for the night. However, if you have older children, this actually might be a recipe that you want to do with them. As I poured the sprinkles into the cake batter I couldn’t help but imagine a 3 or 4 year old Anthony standing on a chair next me helping me crack the egg or stir the sprinkles.

The cake turned out delicious and Anthony loved it. Ok, so did his dad and I. I’m embarrassed to say how little is left. I think that this is a great cake recipe if you want to give your child a homemade cake that will look great and is not very complicated to make.

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Funfetti Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Adapted from: http://www.sweetpolita.com

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  1. 1 cup whole milk at room temperature
  2. 3/4 cup liquid egg whites
  3. 1 whole egg at room temperature
  4. 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  6. 2 3/4 cake flour
  7. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  8. 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
  9. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  10. 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  11. 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

For the Frosting:

  1. 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  2. 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  3. 3 tablespoons of milk
  4. 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  5. a pinch of salt
  6. rainbow sprinkles for decorating

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 round 8-inch pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the eggwhites, egg, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Stir. I used a fork to stir to gently break the egg yolk up a bit.
  3. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt). Stir until ingredients are fairly well blended.
  4. Add the butter and, with an electric mixer (I use a handheld one) blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of milk and mix on low speed until moistened. Increase to medium speed and and mix for about a minute and a half.
  5. Add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches. Beat on medium speed for about 20 seconds after each batch is added. Once entire egg/milk mixture is added, beat on medium speed until well-blended.
  6. Add the rainbow sprinkles. I just stirred these in with a wooden spoon.
  7. Pour the batter evenly into the two cake pans. There should be about the same amount of batter in each pan so the layers will look even.
  8. Bake 25-35 minutes. Start checking the cake at 25 minutes and bake until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into center.
  9. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before attempting to take them out of the pan.

For the Frosting:

  1. With an electric mixer, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will be very pale and creamy.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Then mix on medium speed for about 6 minutes.
  3. Because the frosting is to light and fluffy after being made, you should frost the cake immediately with it once the frosting is ready.

Assembly of Cake:

  1. Spread a spoonful of the frosting on a cake plate. Place the bottom cake layer on the frosting.
  2. Evenly spread about 1 cup of the frosting on top of cake layer. Sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles.
  3. Gently place the top cake layer on the frosted bottom cake layer. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly and working your way down the sides until the entire cake is evenly frosted.
  4. Decorate! How you do this is up to you but I “threw” (I don’t know how else to describe it…I think I really was just throwing sprinkles) rainbow sprinkles all over the side of the cake until they were evenly covering the sides. Then I created a thick layer of sprinkles around the circumference of the top of the cake (about an inch wide). Last but not least I stuck a “1” candle in the middle.
  5. Put in refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes. Take out of fridge and let sit, covered, at room temp for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  6. Enjoy!!!

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Happy 1st Birthday, Anthony!

My Dearest Anthony,

How are you already 1?? It seems like just yesterday I was nervously packing my hospital bag and anxiously preparing to meet you. Since then has been the most wonderful, challenging, and rewarding year of my entire life! I thought that this year would be about me teaching you things, but, instead, I feel that this year has been more of a learning experience for me and you have been the most fantastic teacher I have ever had. You have taught me how to love unconditionally, cherish small moments, to not cry over spilled milk (literally & figuratively), and, most importantly, how to be your mom. You will always be special to me for a million reasons but perhaps the biggest one is that you made me a mom. Being “mom” to such a sweet, spirited, funny, curious, and smart little boy is the biggest honor I have ever had.

I love that everyday with you is a new adventure. My favorite memories from this year come from these adventures. I still laugh about how scared I was the first time we went to Target just the two of us. You were about a week old and we left because you woke up and started crying and I didn’t know what to do! Well, luckily, we have come a long way (and a million Target trips) from that day. We have spent countless hours at the park (you love to swing!), the Botanical Gardens (you never fail to be the dirtiest, happiest kid in the sandbox), playdates with our friends, and we’ve even explored Chicago and New York together!

I can’t wait for the new adventures that this next year will bring and to continue to see you grow into the most wonderful little boy I could ever ask for.

I love you to the moon and back,

Mom

PS- I don’t care if you’re 80….You’ll always be my baby

Anthony 1 year collage