The Manions » ↠ a lifestyle blog ↞

This year I decided to outsource for our Halloween Party invitations. I knew exactly what I wanted to do but instead of doing them myself I reached out to Elephant Crafts on Etsy and I am so glad that I did! The invitations came out exactly as I imagined and all of our guests really loved them! They were a perfect way to set the mood for our party this year! So now let’s get to the pictures! :)

First when our guests opened their package they found this little box inside:
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Then after opening the box, they see a little black egg with a message to “Crack Me” written across the top:
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And after cracking the egg, inside they see a small scroll of paper, which when they unroll is the invitation to the party!
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The poem I wrote for the invitation read:

Leave the kids at home & bring your wit.

We’ll be seeking revenge for those who’ve been bit.

Werewolves abound & it’s the villagers job

to hunt them down with the lynching mob!

I was so happy with how they turned out and I know our guests really loved them as well. I definitely recommend checking out Elephant Crafts next time you’re in need of invitations — she does pregnancy announcements as well!

Next up: Our 5th Annual Halloween Party!

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This handsome guy is 11 months old! Only one more month and he’ll be a year old, which just seems crazy! Jude also seems so much older to me than he actually is. I think it’s because he’s already walking and getting into everything his sister gets into. He’s been in such a hurry to keep up with her, and his new-found skill of walking has really helped him do just that. I think he really loves being able to toddle around after her, instead of just crawling. I’m not sure if we were exactly ready for it, but watching his tiny little body walk around is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen!

This past month we’ve worked on transitioning him off of baby food to real food as much as possible. He’ll still eat some pouches and jars of baby food when I just don’t have time to make him a meal (or I’m too lazy), but for the most part he’s now eating what we eat. I love it because in some ways it seems like he’s more a part of the family, especially at meal times! And Emery really likes it too. I love watching them sitting next to each other, in matching high chairs, matching bibs, eating the same food. Sometimes I think I’m raising twins! And then I think, “How do moms of actual twins do this?!” ha!

Jude’s newest trick is learning how to go down the stairs on his own. He’s known how to crawl up stairs for a long time now but we’re working on learning how to go down. I can’t wait until we can get rid of the baby gates and let him have free range! I know Emery is getting sick of the gates too. She hates being trapped in one room, and I don’t blame her! She’s used to having free range and being able to go from the family room to up in her playroom or up in her bedroom to play. It annoys both of us that she has to ask to be let out of a room. We just need Jude to get a little more confident at going down and then we’ll be in the clear!

Jude’s proven to be a little more high maintenance than Emery was, but he’s still such a happy (and cute!) baby that life with him is just SO enjoyable! He’s definitely a “momma’s boy”, which to be perfectly honest, isn’t my favorite, but I’m hoping as he gets older he’ll grow out of that. He loves having Emery around and the times that he is by himself are pretty lonely for him. He lights up when she’s with him and they really do play together very well. On the mornings that she goes to preschool before he wakes up, I’ll go to get him up for the day and the first thing he does is walk over to her bedroom door and just wait for me to open it. I know he misses her when she’s gone!

The past year has flown by and has been the best year for our family yet. Jude has brought so much joy to our home and I’m just in love with him! I thought being a mom to one kid was great, but having two now and being able to watch them interact and play is honestly the best feeling! Can’t wait to see what changes this next month will bring!

And I’ll end with some more photos from our photo shoot, as well as a side-by-side of Jude & Monster, both at 11 months:

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Monster is 2 1/2 years old as of today and this age is by far my favorite so far! I know I tend to say that with every new stage, but right now Emery is just great. She is such a great big sister–some of my favorite things she does right now to fulfill her big sister duties: She tells me the second Jude spits up, so that I can run to clean it up before he gets it on himself, or worse, plays with it (*shudders*); She will watch out for him and tell him (or me) when he’s about to do something he really shouldn’t (and I mean things I have clearly said is a no-no, and not just things she doesn’t want him to do); She gives him hugs and kisses all the time; She plays with him all the time, and even though he can’t quite keep up with her yet, she slows down or crawls with him; She shares everything with him; and she’s genuinely happy to have him as a baby brother–the very first thing she says each morning when I get her from bed is, “Let’s go get Jude! He wants to play with me!”. I love watching them together and I never have to worry about them, because Emery is a great leader for the pair.

Monster also talks NON-stop. And I really mean that. There are days where I don’t hear silence until nap time, and when it finally gets to that point, the silence seems unnerving! She has a really big vocabulary and loves to talk and tell me things. She’s started asking more questions lately, but we haven’t hit the annoying, “Why?” stage yet. I read something when she was really little about the best way to expand baby’s vocabulary and get kids thinking is to ask them open-ended questions, as opposed to just yes-or-no questions. We’ve been taking that advice ever since I read about it, and I can tell it’s definitely paid off. She really thinks about our questions and responds thoughtfully now. When she went to preschool this past week, I wanted to hear all about it. So I’d ask her things like, “What did you do with your teacher? Did you make friends? Who are your friends–can you tell me their names? Where did you hang your backpack? What did you play at school?” — you know, all the typical questions — and she answered almost every single one (and accurately!). And just yesterday she impressed me yet again when I asked her to do something for me. I ask her to go get things and be my little helper a lot, and she always does a great job! She gets bibs for Jude, or will go grab her shoes and put them on, etc. Yesterday I just wanted to give her something to do since I think she was distracting Jude when I needed to get him ready. I said, “Emery: I need you to go get your socks. They are in Mommy’s bedroom, on the floor, in the blue suitcase. Go find your socks that are in the blue suitcase, on the floor, in Mommy’s room, and then come bring them to me.” I really had no idea if she even understood everything I said, but she ran to go complete the task! I looked at Grant and asked how far he thought she’d get and his guess was she’d be distracted on the way to our bedroom. But not even a full minute later, Emery came running out of our room, holding a pair of socks–one in each hand–and she said to me proudly, “I found them!” I was seriously impressed! (And you’d be to if you saw the state of our bedroom, and specifically, all the clothes on our floor!)

As I mentioned above, Monster also started preschool this past week! She was so excited about it, and so was I! I think she’ll definitely benefit from more toddler interaction and a more structured environment. She goes to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-12 and then stays for an extra hour on Thursdays for dance class. They will be having a recital around Christmas and then at the end of the year, around May, and I can’t wait for that!! I want to take some pictures of her in her ballet leotard and ballet shoes soon because it is adorable! And I’m going to want to remember the way her cute belly pokes out. :)

Another huge milestone we’ve crossed very recently is potty training! We tried once before–sometime around January/February of last year–but she was definitely not ready, so we didn’t push it with her. This time I knew she was ready but I think both Grant and I were expecting the worse. However, we didn’t need to worry so much because it has gone great! I got back into town with the kids on a Friday night and we started that very next morning. It wasn’t great timing with just being out of town, but it was a three-day weekend, meaning Grant would be home on Monday, and I knew I wanted to potty train at a time where Grant could help the most. Then to make the timing even worse, when we woke Emery up at 11:30 (because we were getting worried), we found she had thrown up everywhere in the night! She was not feeling well and that entire day kept telling us that she felt sick and her stomach hurt. We decided to keep going with potty training, however, and it actually worked to our advantage! Normally Monster is very busy and energetic, and hardly ever sits still. But since she was sick, she pretty much sat on the towels we had put down in the family room for the entire day. We watched movies and TV and she just laid on the towels, and every so often got up to sit on her potty. She had one accident first thing in the morning, but as soon as she went successfully in her potty, she didn’t have another accident that day! I think she finally got it, and she also liked the congratulatory song & dance we did for her, as well as the treat that came afterwards! And it turned out to be a huge blessing that she was sick (I feel guilty saying that), but it meant she just hung out on the towels all day instead of running around. She was far less distracted and also more willing to just sit on her potty. We’ve now been potty training for a little over a week and she’s only had 3 or 4 accidents in total! It’s been very successful and she’s even gone “number 2” on the potty several times! Needless to say, I’m very proud of her, and SO happy that I’ll only have one kid in diapers from now on!!

The last thing I want to note about Monster is that her personality hasn’t really changed, it’s just strengthened. She is still such a goof and LOVES to make us laugh. If we laugh at something, even just once, she will continue to do that thing. We’ve also found “telling secrets” about her works exceptionally well to get her to do stuff. It’s another tactic I read about when she was about a year old. The idea is kids deem something important when they overhear it being said. So I’ll make sure to tell Grant how good–or bad–Emery has been that day when he gets home. I’ll talk about her in third person, as if I don’t know she’s listening. And we’ve noticed that she really takes it to heart. So if I say she’s been really good and give examples, I notice she’ll get right up and do that very thing again. This also works whenever we tell funny stories to each other about what she’s done. She gets proud that we are talking about her, and she continues to do whatever we thought was funny. She’ll also repeat anything we tell her to (which can be bad if we aren’t careful!), but can also be hilarious.

We really love our little girl and I have loved seeing her explore the world and learn new things every day. We took the kids out for a quick photo shoot to document Emery at this age. Here are some of my favorites!

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I’ll be posting more photos from her 2 1/2-year shoot on my photography blog. So look out for that! ;)

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