29 Sep 2014

Kai's 1st Birthday

I thoroughly enjoyed planning Kai's birthday party. Coming up with original ideas and executing them ... that's what I like doing.

Being a first birthday we wanted to capture this milestone and hired a photographer named Freddy Morales. I first met him when he was taking photos of a friend's daughter's first birthday. I saw his style of photography and I knew he would capture this special day beautifully ... and I was right.

Freddy took some amazing photographs of the day. You can sense the emotions in the candid shots he took of our guests, the beauty in the simplest objects and captured stunning portraits of my family. Here are some of my favourite shots. 

For more information on hiring Freddy feel free to contact him on his email address below. Or to see more of his amazing work please check out his website.

email: fredmoralesphotography@gmail.com


I almost forgot but also a big thank you to my brother in law's bro who pretty much ran the kitchen that day. He came up with recipes for my food requirements and made everything. He even took control of the kids food situation allowing me to focus on entertaining. You were an angel that day (and everyday) and everything was delicious!

Also another big thank you to my fellow crossfitting mama who was constantly helpful leading up to the big day and made chocolate dip strawberries. I think I requested these bad boys just for me and she delivered. 

To my sister in law who made the kiddie bags. You went above and beyond! I got lots of praise for these bags all thanks to you. 

To my extra helping hands that morning and that afternoon who helped set up and pack up. Thank you for always offering your time and agreeing to help out and take in my bossy orders. You know who you are .. love you all. 

25 Sep 2014

Bowtie Themed 1st Birthday Party

Eli had a theme for his first birthday so it was only fair we did the same for Kai's. We joked about doing another Superhero's theme so we could reuse the costumes we had purchased but again that wouldn't be fair.

For Kai's we decided on a Bowtie theme where guests were encouraged to wear a bow tie either in their hair or around their neck. From there the ideas for decorations and food were pretty endless and I actually struggled to pin point one idea and stick to it. If you really want to see where my head space was during the planning process have a look at my pinterest board to see the various things I had pinned.

I found an invite on pinterest and we pretty much copied the design word for word. That is why we didn't pick up the spelling error on our invites for the word neighbourhood which was spelt the American way - Neighborhood. We printed these off and I made some bowties which I stuck onto the invites. 

Originally I wanted to cook as much of the food as possible .. cause I'm over confident like that, but I soon realised it wasn't going to happen especially with two small children to watch over. Plus I didn't know what kind of food I wanted to serve the adults whether I wanted traditional Filipino food or something more western or a combination of both. Kids food I knew I had to cover separately as this was something I learnt hosting Eli's first birthday party. I had a few older kids at his and a few moms asked me if there were any kids food ... of course you need kids food for kids parties!?!

I was driving around one day and was waiting at an intersection when this food truck did this massive 360 spin around a round about that caught my attention. Then it hit me .. "Why don't we have a food truck at Kai's party?" Genus!! No one's done it before and it'll be fun. So I started contacting the various food truck vendors in Sydney to inquire about hiring them for a private function. I think I contacted about five, got responses from three, narrowed down my decision to two and decided on the one based on value and ease of communication. 

We ended up going with Street Sliders. You can go to their page for more information on their menu and catering packages. Pat from Street Sliders was so easy to deal with and worked with us to ensure we were happy and that they met all our catering needs. 

I knew I didn't want to do a candy dessert table anymore but of course wanted to serve desserts. I remember I ordered from a vendor called Looma's a few years back and recall seeing they do mini cakes and pastries so decided to order through them again. What was perfect about their service is they deliver food directly to you, food is always fresh and can take orders 24 hours prior to the day they're required. 

I was stuck on a cake idea for Kai's for ages. As I mentioned I knew ideas for the party were pretty limitless but I knew I didn't want a massive bowtie cake cause to me that would seem a little tacky. I wanted something again, that hasn't been done before, and then I stumbled across an image on Pinterest of this long rainbow cake, and I knew that was what I  wanted. Even though it was really plain I liked the concept and it was long so I could spell Kai's full name on top of it. I had all intentions of making it myself, I even made an attempt at baking a small rainbow cake but again realised I wouldn't be able to do it all. So I asked a family friend who bakes if she could make the cake for me, she agreed.  

For weeks I was researching online where I could find alphabet candles and surprisingly not many Aussie vendors sell them. I found a few but they were not the style I was after, and I found styles I did like but from overseas suppliers who, if they did ship to Australia was charging ridiculous prices. I thought about making my own candles using crayons and even practiced a few times at home but they didn't look as pretty as I'd hope they would turn out. I had to come up with another option. 

Originally I wanted to create a feature wall with using balloons. This was the image I wanted to try and replicate. I thought I could just create the wall on the day. I know it was going to take a lot of effort but thought if I just concentrated on creating this feature wall during the two hours prior to when the party starts it would be achievable .... wrong! Again I soon realised this wasn't going to take an hour or two, these particular balloons were expensive and I learnt we're not suppose to stick anything onto the walls of the hall. So I decided to scraped that idea and not to bother with any decorations. But a few days prior to the party I was second guessing my decision not to have any decorations, so again started sourcing balloons. During my research I found a vendor (Fun Time Party Solutions) who made miniature mega balloons and thought why not have them on top of the cake instead of the candles. So I ordered each letter and a number "1" mega balloon for the day. 

I then found another image and a tutorial on how to create a honeycomb pom pom bunting. I remember seeing these kind of pom poms from party shops and they weren't too expensive so I decided to try and replicate this look. I purchased 40 $1 honeycomb pom pom's from Kmart to create my bunting. 


About a year ago I attended a 1st birthday party and the host had set up a kids table for all the kids to sit at. It was really cute cause they had their own little space to sit and enjoy their food on. I remember thinking it was a great idea so I asked my friend for the vendor's details so I could do the same. Not only did I hire kids tables and chairs from Tiny Tots but also some play equipment for the kids on the day. There was a playground next door to the hall but was suited for older children and many of the kids invited to Kai's party were younger than two.

In my next post I'll share photos from Kai's actual party and how I executed my ideas. 

22 Sep 2014

Happy 1st Birthday Kai

On the weekend we threw a little party to celebrate Kai's birthday, which I will blog about in great detail later .. but today is Kai's actual birthday. 

A year ago I thought we were having a nice family dinner at home but you had other ideas and decided to join us. You can read about Kai's unplanned home birth here

Its true no two children are the same. I think Kai is very opposite to his brother which is a welcome surprise, and exhibits traits unique to him. 

Kai is calm. He has this relaxed, chilled persona about him. He's content to just be, to observe and does not draw a lot of attention to himself. He's happy to play quietly and confidently on his own. He's curious of the simplest things like .. paper, so we're always making sure nothing small is left within reach as he'll most likely put it in his mouth. 

Kai is strong willed. The things his older brother subjects him to I'm surprised he never cries. Eli will yell, hit, push and be rough with him and he never cries. He actually gives as much as he gets and guess who does all the crying ... kuya. 

Kai is sensitive. He needs touch regularly. He looks for human contact if he hasn't had it for awhile. He loves giving tight hugs and getting it back. He smiles a lot but is selective about who he shares a laugh with ... it takes a lot to get this little guy to laugh. 


Happy first birthday my baby boy. You're so easy to love because you're so loving. You have stretched us in so many ways but especially our heart. I love watching you grow and witnessing you ever changing personality. Our prayer is that you continue to thrive, develop and be in perfect health. We continue to seek God's provision for our family and to give us the skills, patience and knowledge to teach, nurture and be role models to you and your kuya.

We love you Kai, happy birthday.


16 Sep 2014

The Sibling Dynamics



It's been awhile since I've done one of these. When I only had Eli I think I was doing a little progress update of him every month. Unfortunately with two I don't get the luxury of being able to document every moment of the second born, but lately I've noticed a change in the sibling dynamics.

Kai


He's almost one and he's crawling non stop. He has a cute baby crawl where his bum wiggles back and forth; and he crawls faster when he's excited. This may not seem like a big deal for some but when since our first born never really crawled, seeing Kai wiggle around the home is a lovely sight. When he's been held for too long he starts worming in your arms and leaning towards the ground indicating he wants to be put down so he can explore. 

He dribbles so much. You know where he is cause he leave a trail of saliva everywhere. He needs a bib on to avoid getting his tops drenched in his dribble. He's also biting everything, like my shoulder, the couch, his toys, my leg ... he thinks it funny. Maybe he does it to get a reaction because he smiles when I scream after he's inflicted me with one of his bites. 

He smiles. Finally we can get a (wet) smile from him ... it took awhile to get here. Previously we'd try various things to make him smile or laugh and he'd just look back at you, sometimes even turn away. And because he's reacting and smiling it feels like he's more alert and awake now than before. 

He likes to dance. He hears music and he start shaking his little tooshie like he's twerking it. Again seeing him respond to music and sound, seems like he's more alert. 

He's got a big appetite. I feed him three meals, two snacks and probably four bottles of milk a day. He's actually more inclined to eating food than he is to drinking milk. I'd be the same if I had to drink the milk he was drinking. 

His hair has grown. The bald patch he had developed after he was born has slowly been replenished with new brown curly locks. Curls get the girls and its definitely a feature people notice about him now. Where he got those locks from .... his mama I was born with curly hair too. 

He says "na-na"; "dah-dah" and growls a lot. 

He has a bit of "separation anxiety". He wants to be with me all the time and sooks a little when I leave him. I can palm him to people and he's more than happy to be held by strangers but when he's over the new face he looks for me. He's also gets a bit sookie when his kuya leaves him too. He follows Eli everywhere around the house and when Kai wakes up from a nap I can tell from his face he's listening out for his kuya. When he finally hears him he whips his body across to where the sound came from. Or when Eli enters the room he smiles, does a little squeal and dance that his kuya is there. I can tell he simply adores his big brother.

Eli

Eli is slowly noticing Kai a little more. Maybe because Kai is more mobile and can grab things. Eli is always on the defence snatching everything off Kai's hands and stating that it is "Mine!" 


Fighting with him right now is like punching your own head. I get mad, he gets mad, I try and calm him down, he doesn't want to calm down, I ignore his behaviour, he's gets more mad that I'm ignoring him. I get annoyed, he repeats the whole process but elevates the crying or tantrum to another level. 

He tries to push the boundaries as far as he can. He no longer responds to initial threats and usually continues to do whatever it was we told him to stop doing, repeating it over and over again seeing how far he can get away with it.

He's my little helper. I can count on him to grab me a nappy for Kai, grab the wipes in the other room, throw rubbish in the bin, place his dirty clothes in the laundry basket ... he'll be washing the dishes in no time. Sometimes he wants to help when I don't want him to -because I know it'll take twice as long to do, or because it'll affect my OCD way of doing the task. Like when he wants to help with grabbing the clothes off the line, putting the shopping away or cleaning the floors.

He's a great kid. Just recently I've had three separate people tell me how great they think Eli is. He's got one funny and magnetic persona and maybe his defiant behaviour is part and what makes him so great. Being told my son is pretty awesome reminds me to appreciate my kids and remember these harder seasons are only a short window of time. 

He comes up with some of the funniest comments and statements sometimes. I'm surprised to hear what he says half the time. He's a natural comedian ... like his mum ... ha!

As the days turns into weeks, then months, and then next thing you know it they've turned another year ... I am once again reminded to be grateful that I am at home able to watch my children grow. There are some days I can't wait until they are grown men and move out, but most of the time I wish they could stay this little, this innocent, this loving for a little longer. 

10 Sep 2014

6 Months into CrossFit

About 40% of my online browsing time has been consumed by CrossFit. I go on insta and search #crossfitchics and look at hash tagged images and videos for inspiration and motivation. I also read forums and blogs to understand techniques as I'm still new to all these olympic movements and would hate to injure myself. Being a mother and primary carer of my children I can't risk not being 100%, so good form and not hurting myself is really important to me. But I think that excuse it's holding me back from pushing past the uncomfortable or awkward feeling we all get when we workout.

I've also read its important to journal your progress and admittedly I haven't been. I kinda guestimate what my 1RM is for each of the weight lifting movements. There's a term used in CrossFit (and in the weight lifting world) called RM, Repetition Maximum. It is the maximum weight a person can lift and complete a full rep. 

It's been 6 months since I started doing CrossFit and I wish I did write down more stats then just my starting weight so I can see how far I've come. Especially since I expect to stop losing weight as I start improving my strength and focus on gaining mussle mass. I did take some "before" body photos but again wish I took shots of other areas of my body so I can really see the improvements. 

Sometimes during the WOD's (work out of the day), I wonder if my technique is right as there are no mirrors in a box, and I feel too silly to ask one of the trainers to record me on my phone. Maybe I'll borrow my sister's Go-Pro and record my workout one day ... maybe not.

Well there's no time like the present to start journaling my progress. It seems silly if I keep all this information in a different place than my blog. So starting today I'm going to push myself harder and also write down my 1RM for the various weight lifting workouts. 

It's been 6 months since I started doing CrossFit and I'm totally enjoying it. I like the variety, no two work outs are ever the same. I like weight lifting and improving my strength. I like feeling in pain for two days post work out. I like how the workouts are short but intense. I like the various types of cardio and I like the mind games I have with myself when I complete the workouts. Big personal wins since doing CrossFit six months ago include:
  • Learning the various olympic weight lifting movements which, I've never done before. I've never touched a bar bell until I started CrossFit. 
  • Wall hand stand. I could never do cartwheels as a kid and really don't feel comfortable hanging upside down. I still always fall at my first 1-2 attempts at wall stands, which then affects my confidence to try again ... so this is a big deal for me. 
  • 1RM back squat: 50kg
  • 1RM dead lift: 65kg
  • Only need one band to complete pull ups, I started with two. 
When I get around to doing the other weight based movements I'll add them to this post with the date I completed it. I'll try finding my new 1RM for all the movements again in 3 months time and see how I've progressed. 

8 Sep 2014

Saving Money - 52 Week Challenge

You've heard of fitness challenges, heck there's a popular ice bucket challenge that's gone viral. But what if we all did a money saving challenge??? ... 

May not be as fun as losing weight or throwing ice water over your head but completing it would probably be hard for most people.

How it works:
Every week you save or put away a dollar more than the previous week. So first week you save $1, then second week $2, third $3 etc. Each week you add the amount you're saving to the previous week's balance. So first week you have $1, then second week you add $2 to last week's $1 giving you $3 total. Then third week you add the $3 to the current $3 balance to give you a total of $6 etc. 

Here's a chart of how each week's saving should be:


Outcome:
At the end of the 52 weeks you should have saved $1,378. That's not bad especially if you're not great at saving. 

So basically you start from saving $1 a week up to $52 a week. Easy right? ... Potentially at the beginning but can get harder over time, especially as the dollar goes up every week. Even if you stop at say week 20 because it's becoming too costly for you, you still have saved $210. 

There's no time like the present, so why don't you start the challenge today? Let me know if you do do it happy to be accountable and encourage you through your 52 week savings challenge.

2 Sep 2014

Party Planning Step 1 - Planning

I've mentioned previously I wanted to do a little series on Planning a Party. The concept of throwing a party isn't that hard, it's the organisation and follow through process which put people off. You don't know how many times I've asked friends who were in the middle of planning their party, and hearing how original ideas have been scaled down or even thrown out of the window. 

Purpose of these posts is to share the thought process of a serial organiser and maybe help you with your next party planning process. In these series of posts I will be using Kai's 1st birthday party as a reference point in my examples. 

1. Type of Celebration
Firstly you need to decide what type of party or celebration you're prepared to throw. Do you want to just have a small gathering at home, lunch at a favourite restaurant, hire a hall, BBQ at a park, host it in a children's play centre? Are you prepared to do most of the preparation and cooking; or do you want to outsource most of the work with say a caterer; or go somewhere where everything is all done for you and you just have to turn up?

There are so many options these days its really up to you as the host, how and where you want to throw your party at. Usually your budget dictates this decision and something you should take into consideration straight up. Do you want to splurge or stick to a particular budget? Regardless of where you host your party you need to give your budget a small buffer for other party costs like decorations, cake, invitations ... I'll talk about identifying your party costs later. 

2. Guest List
Start writing down names of who you want to invite to your party. This will allow you to gauge your guest numbers. I usually start a spreadsheet at this point, writing down each potential guest's name so I can determine how many adults, children and infants could potentially be coming. Knowing this rough information is important for requesting quotes with vendors.  

It's really hard to keep guest numbers down. For some people who to invite to a party is a no brainer others struggle to cull names. You can always change invitees at a later stage. 

3. Venue Research
Given you have decided not to throw party in your own home, start researching the type of venues you want to host your party at. For Kai's I decided to host it at a community hall so I started looking at ones around new residential estates because those halls would be newer, therefore have more modern fixtures equipped for parties. Most community halls are managed by the council's they belong in so check the councils website for more information and to make inquires. Other things to consider:
  • Halls are like wedding reception venues now. The popular halls do get booked out months in advance. So if you have a hall in mind start making inquiries if it is available.
  • Obtain, read and understand all the terms and conditions relating to hire. For example some halls have a no alcohol policy. You usually have to sign some form anyways stating you have read and accept the terms and conditions relating to hall hire. Read them.  
  • Most halls have a booking fee and a bond amount which, should be refunded given hall is returned to original state you got it and nothing was damaged. The hiring price may play a factor in your decision as to where to host party at. For example a new community hall was available at The Ponds for the date I wanted however, it was $100 more than the hall we actually went with. 
Other tips when deciding on a venue:
  • When you have decided where you want to have your party at, you probably have a venue in mind. However also start thinking of second, third options or brain storming similar venues just in case your first option isn't available or not within your budget range.  
  • Cost of having party at venue. Regardless of where the party venue will be, there's usually a cost. Some parks charge a fee to reserve an area, play centres charge at a per head cost etc. Once you have identified a few venues you would consider hosting your party start contacting them to find out the cost to have your party there.
The process of deciding on venue may take you a few days or  weeks depending on how quickly the venue replies to your function request. Bare minimum you need to ask venue:
  • Date you want is available.
  • Cost of hiring hall; or cost per child at play centre; or group booking at restaurant etc.
  • What is included with costs. 
  • Send you their terms and conditions of booking. Is there a deposit you need to make to secure your function, any cancellation fees etc.
Some tips to minimise costs:
  • Ask for a discount for your group booking. At restaurants and child play centres even though they have stated they have a per head / per child fee, there's no harm in asking for a further discount, especially if you have a large number of guests. Any party of 20 plus people is considered a large group in my opinion, so I would ask for a discount if my party is larger than this number. Venue may say no but at least I asked, and you might be surprised by their response.
  • Ensure kids aren't being charged adult prices.
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