Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gender Reveal Party: He or She?

gender reveal invite"I'm so glad you're having another baby - you throw such fun parties!" I won't disclose which family member said this (with a wink and a smile of course), but truth be told - I share the same sentiment. I love themed parties and the creativity that goes into planning them (Pinterest only makes my "love" borderline obsessive... fortunately, I have strict and realistic budgets to stick to when party planning).

We had a great time three years ago with the gender reveal party for our twins, and baby number three wasn't about to miss out on an equally fun party for his-or-her gender reveal! (Plus, I desperately needed a creative outlet after the stress of our move, so I had another good excuse beyond "fair" parenting - which I'm not necessarily a proponent of all the time. Sorry kids. You'll might have fun parties, but otherwise: learn early that life isn't fair.)

Okay, so. The party. YAY! I designed invites, banners, signage, photo props and all kinds of adorable stuff that I could go on and on about, but instead, I'll just show you the final results.

First Off: Games and Activities. Guests dressed in pink or blue to make their predictions on the gender. We also had a tally board for guests to place their votes. As you can see below, the votes were pretty lopsided. When you already have two boys, people tend to assume that surely your body will magically produce a female child in order to maintain a balanced world populous.

gender reveal party

We also had fill-in-the-blank notecards that allowed guests to write some "Wishes for Baby." Some of the answers were really amusing. Example: My ten-year-old sister, Julia, completed the forth question thus: "I hope you aren't afraid of: me."  

gender reveal party

gender reveal partyFor a party game, we played a rather competitive round of "Sugar Baby Jeopardy". The answer to every question was the name of a candy and the top teams got to compete in a Final Jeopardy round to determine who would have the honor of revealing the baby's gender. It was intense. We have some serious game-players in our family, let me tell you. The questions were hilarious (I wish I could take credit for writing them).  Such treasures as, "Q: The Conception. A: What is a 'Skor' bar?" And, "Q: Difficulty lactating. A: What are 'Milk Duds?'"

In addition to wearing our "team" colors, I made pink and blue photo props for team pictures. Mustaches, lips, bows, and bow ties - I don't care if it is a trend, I love the photo prop movement!

gender reveal party

gender reveal party
Next Up: The Food (possibly my favorite part of any party... we'll just blame it on the pregnancy. Yeah, that's it.)

My inspiration for the party food was that old poem about What Little Boys/Girls are made of. Never mind that it's slightly sexist, if not misandristic, it made for a really cute food spread. The themed food was perfectly complimented by all the awesome trays and serving items that I borrowed from my mother-in-law. My favorite piece was a vintage toy truck that held mini dirt cup shooters - perfect for the boy food.
gender reveal party food
gender reveal party food
gender reveal party food
gender reveal party food

And Finally: The Big Reveal. We wanted this reveal to be just as fun and playful as when we announced the twin's gender (by popping balloons filled with colored confetti.) Our solution: SILLY STRING!

gender reveal invitation As mentioned, we had the top two teams from our Jeopardy game compete for the honor of the reveal. We did a race of sorts, where the teams tried to answer four baby trivia questions as fast as they could. Then when the final question was answered by one of the teams, they could race across the lawn and grab a can of silly string. There were only six cans and about twelve adults, so as soon as the first can was snatched, anyone could run and grab the remaining cans (if you've ever played the card game, Spoons, it was a similar idea). It was fast and fun and really heighten the anticipation for the reveal.

And the result was.... BLUE silly string!

gender reveal party ideas
gender reveal party
Even though the twins had been adamant that they were having a baby sister (they can't seem to comprehend that anyone besides their twin could be their "bro"), I think they were pleased with the result.  
gender reveal older siblings
gender reveal party invitation  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When Change Feels Overwhelming

An abundance of things to share can be more restrictive to my ability to write than an actual lack of things to write about. I had one of the most difficult, heart-molding, trying, wonderful, and fullest years of my life in 2013 and yet, I wrote a grand total of twelve posts last year. Twelve. Most of them devoid of any real substance.

It was not for lack of content, I can tell you that. My year was insane - I moved states, faced horrible home-sickness, was placed out of my comfort zone, and was forced to make friends with strangers (gasp!) - some of whom I'd only met through a friend-of-a-friend on the internet (which for my introverted personality was super uncomfortable at first). Then around August, there was this shift and I found myself loving my new city and my new friends, and actually feeling settled in my new life. And THEN. A career refocus for my husband, a sooner-than-expected pregnancy, and a move back from whence we had come (barely a year after moving away). My life and emotions in 2013 were topsy-turvy and back again. Lots of trials and lessons learned and beauty to write about. Content, content, content.

And yet. Writer's paralysis clung to me because I had such an overwhelming amount of content. Really painful, messy, don't-really-want-to-process-it-in-public kind of content. Usually writing is therapeutic for me and helps me work through my thoughts and emotions. Flannery O'Conner said, "I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say." That's me.

But these things? They were things I felt so deeply, but I didn't understand. Bitter, ugly things, and conflicting, confusing things. Emotions and doubts that were unflattering to me and potentially hurtful to those I loved if expressed publicly. So my ramblings were kept in the safe privacy of my journal and my prayers. Which is probably right where they were meant to be kept. At least for now. At least until the bigger picture of who-knows-what God has been doing with my life these past couple of years becomes clearer.

I've seen healthy growth and little glimpses of what these years of change have brought about in my life - some good, some necessary, and some I'd like not to repeat. I don't understand (or like) a lot of it, but I do see purpose in much of the pain and confusion. And for now, that's just enough to keep me holding on and moving forward into whatever it is God has for us in our new (again) city and our life as a family of (soon-to-be) five.

Some good things that have come out of the difficult:
  • There were many times I had no one to share my heart with except Devin. While we have always been close, we were brought closer as he helped me struggle through the mess of emotions I normally would have poured out to my closest girlfriends. But with their absence in my daily life, I had no choice but to turn to my husband for comfort, sympathy, and advice. It was a hard-at-times, but good thing.
  • There were times however that the things in my heart were too difficult to share with even Devin, and I was instead driven to share my thoughts and emotions with God. Again - a relationship strengthen because of the relational void I was experiencing in other areas of my life. 
  • With few family members (and no friends) in town, we had the time and motivation to invest in relationships within our church and our community early-on. This was a part of our lives we didn't realize was lacking during our years in Arizona, but now that we've experienced it, we see the importance of leaving room for community relationships amidst the time we spend with our extended families. 
  • I learned to step out of my comfort zone, show up to a room full of strangers, and make friends. And even though making an effort to start those friendships was difficult for me, it's those sweet friends who I shed many tears over leaving. 
  • And most of all, I've learned (or am at least forcing myself to acknowledge - which, believe it or not, is a big step) that change is a part of life. And as much as I hate it sometimes, fighting it will only make it more difficult. I ran across a quote shortly before we moved back to Arizona, and it was a turning point for me as I worked towards accepting some of the changes coursing through our lives right now:
"Faced with inevitable change, the choice was mine. I could fight until my spirit was weary, or I could release all resistance and create something new in my changed world." - Dean Jackson

So that's what I'm trying to do. Because my soul has become weary from fighting and it's time to try and make something beautiful in my changed world.