Book Rave: Great Thumbprint Drawing Book

I may get a little emotional in this book rave. Fingerprints do that to me. My son’s preschool teacher, Miss Pat, sent home the most adorable fingerprint art – a change from the oft used handprint. These tiny black fingerprints are among my most treasured preschool keepsakes. I look carefully at the delicate lines, curves and swirls that are unique to only one: my baby boy.

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I get busy with details of life and forget to focus. Forget to hone in on what distinctly matters. I’m trying very hard to slow down and consider the messages I want to relay to my children. At the top of my list of values is self-worth. I want my daughter to love and care for herself. I want my son to believe that what he thinks, says and does matters. But how to teach it?

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We parents are teachers, whether we know it or not — want to be or don’t. Our every move is an act of teaching, and our children hang onto our every word. Having a background in teaching proves very useful, like when I organize activities I do with my kids in lesson plan format, for instance! But you don’t need structure to bond with your child; a tiny fingerprint will do just fine.

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JULIA’S FINGERPRINT LESSON (ages 4+)

Length: This activity can occupy 15 minutes of time or 2+ hours! Take direction from your child and allow them to explore for as long as they’re interested.

Materials:

  • white paper
  • black ink pad (a good one, so you can visibly see the fingerprint patterns)
  • black markers
  • magnifying glass
  • Ed Emberley’s Great Thumbprint Drawing Book (or a few fingerprint drawings you created from this post’s pictures… or straight from your imagination!)

Preparation: 1 sheet of paper and marker in front of every child, book or drawings out for reference and ink pad and magnifying glass in the center to share

Goals:

1)      To learn about fingerprints and how no two are alike

2)      To learn the definition of unique, and how we are all one-of-a-kind

3)      To discuss what it means to have self-worth and why that is important

Introduction – Familiarize yourselves with the book/drawings by asking questions.

Discussion: Look at these silly fingerprints drawings! Which ones are your favorites? Why? What do you notice about the fingerprints in these books? How are they alike? How are they different?

Making Fingerprints – Time to make some predictions and put finger to ink and paper!

Discussion: Are you ready to make your own fingerprints? Do you think yours will all be the same, or do you think they will be different? Do you think mine will be different from yours? Let’s find out!

Fingerprint Detectives – Let your child make discoveries about his or her individuality.

Discussion: Let’s be like detectives and look closely at our fingerprints. Grab your magnifying glass! What do you see? What do the lines, patterns and shapes remind you of? Are your fingerprints the same, or unique? What does unique mean?

A Lesson on Self-Worth – What have we learned and why does it matter?

Discussion: We’ve learned that no two fingerprints are exactly the same. Each fingerprint is unique, or special. Other than your fingerprint, what other ways are you special? What makes you unlike anyone else? There is no one else in the world exactly like you. How does that make you feel? What would the world be like if everyone was the same?

Fingerprint Drawings – Enjoy quality time making silly fingerprint drawings with your children. Discuss as you draw, laugh at the funny expressions and compliment the distinctive quality of each creation.

Display Their Individuality – Be sure to show off your child’s handiwork. Clothespin their drawings to a string, pin one to a board, frame a favorite, mail another to a relative or friend, use every magnet and cover the entire fridge… Reiterate the lesson of self-worth and prove to them that what they think, say and do matters!

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Try searching for memorable ways to intentionally start conversations about important topics with your children. Books are great lead-ins. Ed Emberley’s Great Thumbprint Drawing Book helped me to begin a dialogue about self-love with my children. I hope you and your children find reward in your own unique fingerprint experience!

Please share your ideas about how YOU teach self-worth in the comments below!

Kickoff Playdate Recap!

We wanted to share some pictures of our first All Wrapped Up Parties Playdate @ Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique. Thank you for coming out to play!

 

Craft Table Welcome

Like our parties, each playdate has a theme. Our kickoff playdate theme was “BIRTHDAY!”

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We had a wonderful time meeting new friends. Bobo Jenkins welcomed playmates with open arms, ready to give and receive Big Bear Hugs.

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Event Espresso Catering and Raleigh Coffee Company spoiled parents with delicious Americanos. Traci Huffman from T&T Photography engaged everyone with her camera, beautifully capturing the joy of the event.

Craft
We like to keep our crafts simple and age-appropriate. Children delighted in our easy noise-maker craft, because how often do children get to dig their hands into a huge vat of dry rice?!

Craft and Sensory Play

We lured them in with this sensory activity, then assisted in filling a duct-taped paper plate with some rice. Add some chunky foam star stickers (easy for little hands to manipulate) and glue-stick colorful feathers and ta-da! Time to make some noise.

Toddler Craft Party

Story Time
Armed with noise-makers, our playmates were ready to dive into story time. We enjoyed reading Birthday Monsters by Sandra Boynton together.

Children's Storytime Party

Our playmates were fine Birthday Monsters, indeed!

Open Play
Not all children like crafts or story time, and that’s ok. Just as we do in planning and facilitating a party, we keep all our playmates busy having fun. 

Organized Free Play

We stacked big birthday presents into a tall tower while practicing our counting and colors. Then we knocked them down! We popped balls high into the air with our big parachute, then scrambled to see how quickly we could collect them all and do it again.

Good-Bye
Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Yes, there’s even a celebration in saying good-bye. Using a sweet poem with coordinating hand motions, we bid our playmates farewell until next time.

Child's Play Good Bye

An ever-evolving form of exploration, every child plays differently. We hope you’ll come out next time to celebrate your child’s unique approach to play with us!

Were you at our kick-off playdate? Please share your impressions in the comments below!

Want to play with us next time? Join us: February 28, March 21, April 25, May 23, June 27, July 25, August 22

Registration is very helpful in our preparation. Thank you in advance and see you soon!

AWUP Testimonials

We entered All Wrapped Up Parties into Intuit’s Small Business, Big Game Contest with serious intention. Our entry wasn’t “just for kicks.” We entered to win. Our sky-high standards keep us working hard toward our goal to honor as many children as we possibly can. You can help us in our efforts to spread more joy. Check out our contest profile, watch our commercial, VOTE and SHARE! We’re nothing without the support of others. THANK YOU!

In creating our profile for the contest, we had to answer some great questions. An opportunity to share more about our passion behind All Wrapped Up Parties? Yes, please!

Question #4: Why do they love your business?

We love our clients, especially the children we help celebrate! Here’s what some have to say:

“…The greatest testament to this amazing team is that I’ve already asked them to plan not just my daughter’s next birthday, but mine as well.”
– Kim from Raleigh

“All Wrapped Up Parties inspires parents to find the joy in celebrating the simple art of having fun.”
– Cara from Cary

“Julia and Alexis went above and beyond to make my daughter and her friends feel extra-special. Everyone could feel their sincerity. When you hire AWUP, it’s like hiring a trusted, old friend.”
– Erin from Chapel Hill

Mommy Daughter Memories

Kim and Caroline: First Client Memories

Vote often and check back in with us October 29th (via Facebook or Twitter!) to see if AWUP is part of the Top 20! If you voted, let us know in the comments field below so we can show our appreciation!

Our Proudest Moment

We entered All Wrapped Up Parties into Intuit’s Small Business, Big Game Contest with serious intention. Our entry wasn’t “just for kicks.” We entered to win. Our sky-high standards keep us working hard toward our goal to honor as many children as we possibly can. You can help us in our efforts to spread more joy. Check out our contest profile, watch our commercial, VOTE and SHARE! We’re nothing without the support of others. THANK YOU!

In creating our profile for the contest, we had to answer some great questions. An opportunity to share more about our passion behind All Wrapped Up Parties? Yes, please!

Question #3: What has been our proudest moment?

Seeing our words published in print (and online) was a turning point. In responding to the evolution of princess parties, we realized the community values our expertise. People will listen to our message. We can make a difference. Carolina Parent Magazine asked, “Has the princess party lost its magic?” We wholeheartedly believe no, and worked hard to communicate our views. “Magic holds its refuge within the child. If we focus on this truth, we can guarantee a childhood that molds a life of joy and fulfillment.” The roots of our mission to honor the child were spreading outward, reaching.

Our Message in Print

Our Message in Print

Vote often and check back in with us October 29th (via Facebook or Twitter!) to see if AWUP is part of the Top 20! If you voted, let us know in the comments field below so we can show our appreciation!

Our Best Advice

We entered All Wrapped Up Parties into Intuit’s Small Business, Big Game Contest with serious intention. Our entry wasn’t “just for kicks.” We entered to win. Our sky-high standards keep us working hard toward our goal to honor as many children as we possibly can. You can help us in our efforts to spread more joy. Check out our contest profile, watch our commercial, VOTE and SHARE! We’re nothing without the support of others. THANK YOU!

In creating our profile for the contest, we had to answer some great questions. An opportunity to share more about our passion behind All Wrapped Up Parties? Yes, please!

Question #2: What’s your best advice for small business owners?

The learning never ends as small business owners and frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. With the right attitude, what can so easily become overwhelming can instead fuel your passion. This has been our experience. With no formal background in business, we jumped right in. Welcomed any and all information. Attacked social media. Honored advice. Most importantly, we sought out a network of business connections and support. We continue to talk to anyone willing about our business and theirs, our brains soaking sponges. When in doubt, we put one foot in front of the other and keep smiling.

Sponsors Julia & Alexis at Vend Raleigh's Illuminate 2013 Conference

Sponsors Julia & Alexis at Vend Raleigh’s Illuminate 2013 Conference

Vote often and check back in with us October 29th (via Facebook or Twitter!) to see if AWUP is part of the Top 20! If you voted, let us know in the comments field below so we can show our appreciation!

What Makes AWUP Special?

We entered All Wrapped Up Parties into Intuit’s Small Business, Big Game Contest with serious intention. Our entry wasn’t “just for kicks.” We entered to win. Our sky-high standards keep us working hard toward our goal to honor as many children as we possibly can. You can help us in our efforts to spread more joy. Check out our contest profile, watch our commercial, VOTE and SHARE! We’re nothing without the support of others. THANK YOU!

In creating our profile for the contest, we had to answer some great questions. An opportunity to share more about our passion behind All Wrapped Up Parties? Yes, please!

Question #1: What makes your business special?

We’re two bubbly gals in red pants and navy aprons who laugh a lot. Kinda bonkers. No, we’re not sisters, or twins (though we get that a lot). We’re friends and business partners. We combined our backgrounds in design and education to pursue our joint creative passion: the art of celebration. Yes, we plan and execute inspiring and memorable children’s parties, but the business itself is one big party — a celebration of LIFE. We infuse our zest for the very air we breathe into every aspect of our business. Here we are, in this world together for a finite period of time. It’s party time.

Julia & Alexis

Proud to be Goofs

Vote often and check back in with us October 29th (via Facebook or Twitter!) to see if AWUP is part of the Top 20! If you voted, let us know in the comments field below so we can show our appreciation!

This is Us: First Testimonial

Since All Wrapped Up Parties’ inception in April, we continue to experience a season of exciting firsts: first local vendor partnership, blog, tweet – first bank statement, professional business meeting, promotional booth – first client consultation, invitation, and hiring – first client, party and birthday child.

Our first birthday girl, Caroline, and her mother Kimberly, will always hold a special place in our hearts. Kim gave us our first opportunity to put our passion into practice, entrusting us with the celebration of her daughter’s 3rd birthday. We would like to share one of our most memorable firsts with you: Our first testimonial!

Kimberly from Raleigh writes:

“I can’t say enough about the amazing experience I had with All Wrapped Up Parties. Alexis and Julia really understood my vision for my daughter’s party and delivered in a big way. They genuinely appreciated my daughter and me for who we are as people and not just customers. I literally couldn’t have honored this occasion more authentically myself!

Not only did AWUP handle all the details of planning, they executed every aspect of the party seamlessly so I could relax and enjoy the celebration (they even loaded the presents into my car!). My friends and family and even the entertainer were all blown away at the way the theme was evident in every piece of the afternoon, and how visually stunning the party was and a blast to enjoy. The best part are the memories, which come back every time we play with something from the party favors – instead of that cheap, plastic, stuff we all hate to have around, AWUP provided lasting, gorgeous, functional favors that still see a lot of use at my house.

I think the greatest testament to this amazing team is that I’ve already asked them to plan not just my daughter’s next birthday, but mine as well.”

Mommy & Daughter Memories

Mommy & Daughter Memories

We would be nothing without our clients. When a client writes a testimonial she is doing much more than just sharing her experience; she is helping to spread the word so we might help others, and reaffirming for us why we started All Wrapped Up Parties in the first place: To help parents celebrate and honor their greatest joy and our world’s promise: their children.

Praise and Thanks for Illuminate

What comes to mind when you think of a gift? Maybe your head goes to something material (one word: jewelry!) or perhaps the gift of TIME (an hour alone with a book, anyone?). But let’s not forget the gifts that live inside us, lighting our way through life. Gifts like knowledge, passion, friendship, and celebration. We’d like to share our appreciation for these and many more priceless gifts received at Vend Raleigh’s Illuminate Conference, 2013.

Julia and Alexis OutsideThe New Kids on the Block
We started All Wrapped Up Parties, LLC in April 2013 and have been working tirelessly ever since. Our passion for helping children is ever-present, even in our most fatigued states, but we will admit to many moments of feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and utterly alone in our work efforts. Managing what it takes to build a business from the ground up just doesn’t come without discomfort. We have felt wildly frazzled, in over our heads, clueless, just plain stupid, and yes, even defeated. Having perfectionist tendencies and the instinct to do everything all by ourselves doesn’t help our case. Was this our new life as small business owners? It seemed like our hands were tied.

Locally Inspired
The knot began to loosen, however, after reading co-editor Emily Uhland’s “Momtrepreneur” article in the August 2013 issue of Cary Magazine. Uhland featured 4 successful business owners, all mothers. What they had to say struck a chord, and just in the knick of time. Beth Richardson, owner of Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique, helped us to see we didn’t have to go it alone. “That’s really the only way to be able to grow,” she said. “To allow other people to help. For some reason we think that we should be able to conquer it all ourselves. No, I’m not supermom and it’s OK.” [Beth’s words inspired us to reach out with a proposal to host our playdates in the Sweetbottoms rental space.]

Also featured in the article, Cary Heise got our mojo moving with her “go-getter” attitude and careful attention to balancing her three businesses with family. We discovered Vend Raleigh, immediately created our directory listing, and poured over the Illuminate Conference and sponsorship opportunities. Wide-eyed, like excited children, we read: “The Illuminate conference is a great opportunity to meet and collaborate with other Mompreneurs and like-minded women generously supporting one another in sharing both their time and talents.” Soon after we had registered and proudly become sponsors. Though we hadn’t met any of these people, we already felt less alone.

Soul Sisters
In the days leading up to Illuminate, we created and planned our Swag Bag entry, eager to spoil new Mompreneur friends with free birthday cards, stickers, coupons and more. Excitement built through every social media avenue, and we were a part of it! We clicked and scrolled through countless websites, learning all about women we hoped to meet at the conference.

Birthday Card Swag Bag

The morning of our first Illuminate conference will always be memorable. Out the door at 7:45 (and not in yoga pants, this time), we really felt “back to work!” On the drive over, we exchanged honest admissions. Julia: “I don’t know what I’m walking into!” Alexis: “I’m nervous!” We won’t ever feel that way again! Our first friendly introduction was 30 seconds through the door, and every encounter thereafter was genuine and meaningful.

These women were just like us! We all shared a passion and wanted to learn more, be better. Asking “What’s your business?” and hearing the answer was the most FUN. Making so many new business connections, Illuminate is a powerful tool for continued growth through collaboration.

Bright Ideas & Full Hearts
Illuminate not only exceeded our every expectation, it has strengthened our business. We learned a great deal and countless business questions were answered. What’s more, though, the committee members, speakers and attendants helped spark new, creative ideas for our business.

Alexis and Julie with Red Bow

Illuminate left us with far too many takeaways for a blog post. Our most memorable came from Irene Gouge (owner of Loving Lessons), who had the idea to create Illuminate and touched our very souls. (We couldn’t leave without hugging her.) She emotionally and honestly spoke about the nature of being a Mompreneur, and the legacy we were leaving for our children. “They’re watching us,” she said. We’re counting on it. It’s the passion behind the words that sets Illuminate apart.

Gifts are those things, tangible and abstract, for which we are thankful. Illuminate rewarded us with a fellowship of real support and a celebration of enduring inspiration. The result? An invaluable foundation on which to move forward.

Did you attend the Illuminate Conference? Share your reactions with us!

Book Rave: How to Behave and Why

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An Introduction:
We love children’s books. So much, in fact, that we have decided to celebrate our favorites for you in writing. Not so much a review, but a RAVE. The books we rave about are books to own, books to adore, books for your grandchildren to inherit. When you don’t seem to know what to say about a certain topic, these books will have the words your children need to hear. If your child is feeling low and not much seems to help, these are the books that pull them out of their funk. Lifesavers, memory-makers, knowledge-gainers, smile-savers, imagination benders … you get the idea. So, without further ado, here is AWUP’s first ever Book Rave:

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How to Behave and Why, by Munro Leaf (Rave by Julia)

It will come as little surprise to you that many of our rave books are ones our mothers read to us as children. How to Behave and Why, by Munro Leaf, is one such book – and a book for life. When I read it to my children, I get just as much out of it (if not more) than they do. It’s simply written and to the point, which is great for children. But better than that, Leaf’s words are sensible. Any life situation can be better understood, resolved even, in reference to this book. Self-help for all ages, Leaf breaks down some of life’s most important lessons, including “How To” be happy.

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How to have the most fun in living.
Sounds great to me, what about you!? Leaf roots the rest of the book to a central notion: “…there are certain ways we all have to behave if we want to live together pleasantly.” He describes these as the “good rules for behaving.” The brilliance of calling them rules! Leaf knows that children thrive within parameters; they must know what is expected of them. These four rules (which are actually ways of being) organize the contents of the book:

Honest, fair, strong and wise.

Sure, I have words to describe these traits to my children, but (and maybe you can relate) sometimes they aren’t hearing me. Sometimes it’s better to OUTSOURCE.

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Honesty
Being HONEST is a tough concept for children to understand, and just as trying for a parent to teach. The next time a discussion about lying is required, I’ll outsource, leading in with Leaf’s words:

“Some people think they can be smart and fool others when they tell a lie – but sooner or later the truth usually is found out and then the liar is sorry because he knows he won’t be trusted or believed the next time. Nobody knows what to do with a person who doesn’t tell the truth.”

Leaf also covers sensitive topics like cheating and stealing in describing what honest people don’t do. I feel certain my children would never cheat or steal, but who knows what they would do if I never explained why they shouldn’t! My daughter’s eyes were as wide as saucers when I read, “Grownups who steal are put in jail in almost every country – and that is one way a person loses all his friends for a long long time.” She won’t be forgetting those words any time soon.

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Fairness
The section on being FAIR is tremendous. Sharing, selfishness, poor sports, laziness… all this and more is addressed, and thank goodness. I’ve been struggling; I think I’ve spoiled my children when it comes to their one-on-one time with mommy. They demand my attention because, since birth, I have given so much of it to them. But I need time for myself, too. I love how Leaf applies fairness to the family dynamic. Reading these words aloud to my children and opening that line of communication has helped us achieve more balance.

Real Strength
When children think of being STRONG, they think muscles, superheroes, running fast or jumping high. They don’t usually think of the other ways of being strong, which are far more valuable.

Leaf writes, “Real strength comes from having a clean, healthy mind and a clean, healthy body.”

YES! Now here are some words I can really run with. Those veggies aren’t the only thing that make you strong. Standing up for a friend, staying in your own bed at night, listening the first time, even being nice to your brother MAKE YOU STRONG. Leaf explains it’s about doing what is right, no matter what.

The Value of Why
Leaf also describes that while it’s unacceptable for children to whine and complain when they don’t want to do what is right, it’s good to ask parents WHY. I have always felt a need to answer the question WHY for my children. I feel they deserve to know, and maybe they’ll be more inclined to listen if they can understand the very good reasons behind my expectations. So I explain: WHY I ask them to turn their socks out before they put them in the hamper. WHY I want them to request and not demand. WHY I ask that they PLEASE, drink all their milk.

So naturally, this is one of my favorite quotes in the book:  “Grown ups aren’t some kind of weird monsters that have fun making us do things we don’t want to do. They just know a whole lot more than we do because they have been here longer. Listen to what they tell you and you will be surprised how right they usually are.”

Message of Tolerance
Finally, Leaf reminds us that “If we are honest and fair and strong we won’t find it hard to be WISE.”

I findpage-56-small it overwhelming, and at times very frightening to be raising my children in today’s world. Will being honest, fair, strong and wise keep my children safe from harm? I have faith that it will help, and belief that for anything in this world to get better we must accept and embrace what makes us all unique, in all ways. I rave about How to Behave and Why for many reasons, but its message of tolerance takes the cake – a celebration of humanity at its best.

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And to conclude this rave:
The moments spent reading with our children are some of our most treasured. We look forward to the end of the day, when we can snuggle up with our littles and open that book. We travel to faraway lands, off on another adventure. We learn new things about our world. We connect to characters that help us better understand ourselves. We come closer to making sense of the more difficult questions in life. And the best thing? We do it all TOGETHER, strengthening the bond we have with our children in more ways than we could possibly imagine. We wish you happy reading together, always.

Do you know How to Behave and Why? Share your memories of growing up with this book or your thoughts of its many messages with us!

Dear Nate,

I have had the most difficult time starting this letter, Nate. It is not because I don’t know what to say, but rather that I have so much to say I don’t know where to begin. Your contagious laughter? Your gorgeous blonde curls? Your HUGE personality? Your budding sense of humor? As you can tell, the possibilities are endless. Maybe it’s because I’m your mom … but you are truly one-of-a-kind awesome.

Nate-Hospital

You came into this world to a party thrown by your big sister. Only 2 1/2 years old, she insisted on cupcakes with insanely bright frosting, party plates and napkins (angry birds theme) and, most important in her young eyes, PARTY HATS! Elizabeth joined us the night you were born with the above ingredients. Your Daddy, your Mere (my mom) and I were all invited to a mini celebration to mark your entrance into our lives and the world. Little did we know at the time, you were going to be the LIFE of the party.

You started laughing at just a few weeks old. Big ol’ belly laughs from deep deep down in your tummy would come out, in pleasure of being tickled most of your waking hours. Dad and I could not get enough of it! And to top off all this giggly cuteness, you like to cuddle, too. How did we get so lucky?

  Nate-Snuggles

Ok. Ok. Nate, I’ll be real for a moment. While we were totally in love and lucky to have such a wonderful and funny boy, your sleep sucked. In fact, it is still not super duper fantastic. I am not bragging to anyone about what a wonderful night’s sleep I am getting now that you are one. I do understand that you need to see mommy or daddy at 3am because you just love us so so much. I promise we will still love you at 6am though, so please go to sleep!

Regardless of our nightly encounters, it is a joy to feed you breakfast. You kick your feet in a giddy little dance the entire time you are eating. Your favorite is banana. You’d eat the entire bunch if I let you. Other foods you love: blueberries, cooked carrots, black beans, cheese. You’ll eat most anything (and a lot of it) but those are your most frequent and favorite.

Nate-Giggles

I suppose you need all that fuel to sustain the amount of speed crawling, stair climbing and general debauchery of your daily life. Daddy and I try to discipline you for the things you know are naughty – like screaming “DAAAH GOO!” and throwing your food to Jackson (our chocolate lab). But, duuuude!, you are on to us. As the “No, Sir!” comes out of our mouth and daddy or I haul you off to another room for a few moments, Nate, YOU. LAUGH. How do you know that while we must discipline the behavior, we do indeed find humor in your ways? I am fairly certain we are not letting on to this fact. Are we?

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Well, buddy, as you can see, you’ve been keeping us on our toes most hours of the day/night since you came into our lives. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. You complete our family. And so, we ended your first year much as it began, with a small party full of sunflowers (a nod to your sunny self) and sunshine. All our closest friends and family came, many of whom met you the day after you were born! Your dad and I are lucky to share our love for you with such wonderful community. And we happen to think they are just as blessed to include your smiley self in theirs.

Nate-PartyTime

Love, Mommy