November 20, 2012

Let Him Smash Cake


Since Bryson started eating solid (?) foods around six months of age, we've tried to keep the menu to foods that are nutrient-dense as opposed to junky and empty. Just as a rule, when possible. Nothing too extreme.
This makes us total hypocrites, however, since we are admittedly not the healthiest of eaters. Like that time I made a batch of cupcakes just so I could eat a couple (or five) that night. {Thankfully I was able to convince Jerm to take the rest to work the next morning, but that's neither here nor there...}

The point is, while want to give his little body the best start possible, he's still ours. A sweet tooth (or two, from my half) is probably hereditary. When we scheduled his birthday photo shoot and I baked a yummy cake for him to tear into, I thought he'd dig right in.

I thought wrong. 

As you can see from the photo evidence, the birthday boy was quite timid at first. It took some encouraging, prodding, cheering, and demonstrating for him to realize he had free reign.

One of my favorites is the one taken immediately after Daddy got involved and (gently) smashed the cake in B's face. (I can't help it that I think he's precious when he cries!) Thankfully he recovered quite nicely and his unconditional love for Jerm remained in tact.

Once the fun was done and the sun was down, it was time to call it. 

Lessons learned?

1. It's good to make a solid mess every now and then. We're washable.
2. It's good to make more than the kid can eat. Mom gets the leftovers :)

Thanks again to Brenda Van Photos for capturing the big day!


P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at!

November 16, 2012

A One-Year-Old's Résumé

Well, it happened. Our baby boy turned ONE! While I fully intend on calling him my baby for the rest of his life, he's now a toddler according to my weekly email newsletters.

Where did the time go?

This time last year, his tricks were limited to eating, sleeping, handling his business, nursing, and sleeping some more. He'd cry and coo and sort of look us in the eye, but for the most part, he was just a sweet, noisy snuggle bug.

Now that he's fresh off the birthday, he's got a pretty full baby (toddler?) résumé. I'd like to take this opportunity to keep track of his many new talents for the family record.

Indulge me.

Bryson D. Brown
1024 Rainbow Street - Honolulu, HI

  • Frequently signs "more" to communicate "want food ASAP," a trick that began the day after his 1st birthday party and months after Mom started trying to teach it
  • Signs "milk" and/or whines when it's nursing time, even upon just spotting Mom's nursing pillow...
  • Waves "bye bye" when he feels like it, either before or after the person initiating the sequence has left the premises
  • Throws the odd wave of "hi" to the mix just as a teaser
  • Blows slobbery smooches to those who request and deserve them
  • Offer sincerely sloppy smooches to those in the inner circle, sometimes on demand, sometimes out of the goodness of his heart
  • Busts into a cheese face when feeling extremely happy and silly, usually around grown-ups
  • Lays head down upon hearing "oh, sweet baby..." in order to work the room and charm the adults
  • Leads daily pick-up games of "Baby Go Night-Night - Baby Wake Up!"
  • Tucks his arms in and lays his head on Mom and Dad's shoulders when feeling snuggly
  • Answers the question "How old are you, Bryson?" by pointing finger and thinking intently, "I'm ooone..."
  • States the obvious when viewing a bovine animal or asked "What's a cow say?" (The answer is "mooooo.")
  • Enthusiastically plays peekaboo and "Wheeeere's Bryson?" by placing blankets, napkins, etc. over his dome
  • Stops everything to woof upon seeing or hearing a canine or two in the distance
  • Claps hands together as a reflex to "yay" or to express approval of something the grown-ups did
  • Vrooooom while pushing cars
  • "Blaaaaaah" tongue-out-Polynesian-warrior face, introduced by Papa via FaceTime
  • Laughs uncontrollably when being tickled, scared (in a non-threatening way), or otherwise entertained, usually by Dad
  • Attempts to put phone-like items by his ear when we say "helllloo?"
 Physical Feats
  • Shakes head left to right to demonstrate what a "crazy baby" looks like
  • Executes innate dance moves including the "aw shucks" arm swing and alternating shoulder shrugs
  • Climbs staircases (or anything else less than 18 inches from the ground) with gusto
  • Spontaneously stands up on his own
  • Crawls on hands and knees AND hands and feet, with no real walking just yet
  • Points at what he wants, likes, or otherwise feels like pointing at
  • Demonstrates a mastery of the pincer grasp by picking up every tiny thing he sees 
  • Reveals a bit of a rebellious streak, quickly turning his back when grown-ups try to collect said tiny things from his hands and/or mouth before swallowing them
Table Manners
  • Wears plate on face, both forwards and backwards, once finished eating
  • Effectively tests the laws of gravity with food, cup, spoons 
  • Places bits of food on the spoon, then directly into his mouth
  • Alerts the room that he has dropped/is planning on dropping something with a clear "UH-oh...."
Proficient in the English Language, Baby Translation:
  • Ba - Ball, balloon (or tomato, if we're grocery shopping.) 
  • Mama - Usually used when he's frustrated with something...don't know what that means...
  • Dada _ He's known who "Dada" is for a while, but he just started saying it!
  • By-cin? - He really tries to say his name when he sees his photo, always with a question mark at the end.
  • Nana - Said just a few times during their most recent visit! She taught him lots of the tricks above.
  • Papa - Started making this one just before Father's Day on Paw Paw's birthday - synonym for Paw Paw, Papa/Pop.
  • Ca - Car, airplane, anything with wheels, see also "vroooom."
  • Pu-en - Pumpkin? Maybe? I really think we both heard it while pointing to fall decor on a few different occasions.

He'll make an invaluable employee (or maybe even employer!) one day. In the meantime, I'm incredibly thankful he's on our payroll for a while.

That said - is 13 months really too young to teach him how to fold laundry?

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at!

November 8, 2012

B's 1st Birthday Party! (Disney-Pixar Up Movie Theme)

Our Mini-Carl captured by Brenda Van Photos :)

I honestly didn't put much (if any) thought into Bryson's first birthday party until about August. I was originally thinking a Texas theme - cowboys, oil derricks, Rockets, you know. The usual. A way to remind the kid of his roots.

While procrastinating some paper grading back in August, I got really inspired to get busy. I started Googling first birthday party ideas, but none were really clicking. I wanted something fun and unique that related to his first year in some way.

I'd received a mini-catalog of first birthday party supplies in the mail (how do they know?!), and I like the "little man" theme, but I wasn't interested in buying a set of 12 mustache plates for $50. (I'm exaggerating, but still.) I wasn't about to spend a bunch of money for a canned birthday theme. Just like his nursery decor, I wanted this event to be uniquely Bryson's.

Somewhere along the line, I saw an Up-themed party, with a bunch of balloons, a cupcake cake, and a few posters from the movie. CUTE! I thought. And since his birthday is one week before Halloween, he could dress as Carl and do double duty!

I really thought that was a unique idea. (Until I Googled some more and found Mr. Rizden Read, an internet sensation from 2011. Oh well.) I loved Rizden's costume and knew we could put our own spin on it, so I got busy with what else? A list and a PowerPoint of ideas.

A month or two of off-and-on brainstorming, planning, and shopping, a week or so of creating, and here's what we ended up with. Do note that you may need to watch the movie a time or ten to appreciate some of our details!

Invitations made by yours truly (inspired by one I found on Etsy).

Yes, there are Carl stamps, and yes, we used them.

Welcome to the party! Absolutely fabulous cardboard house built by Jerm and Justin, with creative direction from Nana and me. Originally inspired by this Pin, although we clearly built on that idea!

Unfortunately we don't have room to keep it at our house, so the house has moved on to a new life with some folks down the street. :(

The Browns (Est. 10-24-08...get it?)

Added some Carl pizzazz to the balloon wreath I made last month.

Banners! "Bryson is 1!" and a peek through his first year in monthly onesie photos. 

Found an atlas at Goodwill and tore out some pages to serve as the background, cut out some colored paper, Cricuted some vinyl, hole punched, and strung with twine!

[FYI if you're doing an UP party: I've seen a number of banners saying "Adventure Awaits," but the actual Charles Muntz quote is "Adventure is out there!"]

This is now hanging in his if we needed more wall decor. I couldn't throw it away.

Created our own Spirit of Adventure balloon, borrowed a globe from Aunt Court's classroom, and found a stuffed Dug online. Clouds added for effect. Boom!

Favors for B's friends included their very own adventure books, party hats, balloons with glow sticks (to weigh them down/be awesome), giant lollipops, and grape soda badges (in a pic below).

 I had so much fun designing these adventure books! Played with the image I found online and PowerPoint to get each little one's name on the cover, then used contact paper over the composition books.

Bryson signed each one and added some stickers too ;)

For his, we had each and every party guest sign it, along with special friends and family members as we saw them over the next few months. We wanted his adventure book to be like a yearbook, so they wrote down their own special memories of his first year. It's a treasure!

Closeup of the birthday cake - rainbow inside!

Note the clouds inventively created by my mom (Super Nana!) - made of crafter's stuffing, sewn together with a bit of fishing line for structure! So cumulonimbus.

UPcakes for all! Started with sky blue cupcake liners with white polka dots, filled with multi-colored cake batter, worked it out with fluffy white frosting, topped with fun balloon cake picks.

The rainbow lollipops are one of Russell's favorites, and of course Kevin the mama bird looooves her some chocolate, hence the Hershey's.

Here are the giant lollipops and precious grape soda badges! HUGE thank you to my dear friend (and DG big) Katie who created these for us. They were a hit! (Check out her Etsy store Urban Tomfoolery for even more fun bottle cap art!)

We also prepared our own rendition of Sky Jello, which was renamed to Tsunami Jello later that evening when the after-party turned into a statewide tsunami watch. De-lish.

FOOD! Glorious food, and more clouds :)

Note the tiny colorful dollhouse (another inxpensive Goodwill find!) anchoring those balloons and serving as the centerpiece on Food Island :)

Thanks to Brenda Van Photos for such a quick turnaround on our photos of Carl!

As you can see, the idea here was to have the kiddos stick paper balloons on the chimney, but we never did it. Best laid plans.

Daddy and Uncle Daddy were busy on the grill - just how they like it!

B had a blast playing with his friends in his cousins' playroom.

Thanks for the birthday boy bib, Maeva :)

Awww. y'all shouldn't have!

Do I get to try it or what?

Make a wish, sweet cheeks!

 Wondering why everyone keeps singing to him this week...

Three of my favorite October babies - Aunt Stacey flew in to surprise us on his birthday, and Aunt Courtney opened up her home for the party! Superstars.

He was very happy Nana and Pop could be there to join the fun!

Taste the rainbow (cake)!

Part of our Hawaii ohana - growing by the month!

Tutu and Nana cleaning up the chaos - we appreciate you!

Aaaand he's spent.

To further enhance the ambiance, we had UP playing in the playroom and his first year video playing in the living room. It's amazing how fast it has gone.

What a special night! We were so thankful we could share it with the people we love most on this little island. We are blessed beyond belief to have family near and far who love our little guy so much.

Thank you all for making this such a fun and memorable first birthday celebration!

Maybe next year we'll just order pizza?

Update: After seeing our fiesta pics here in the blog, the folks at PartyPail awarded us with this nifty badge and a special Disney-Pixar Up Party page to share our party idea with the world. Fun :)

AND - if you're still reading this, you'll probably appreciate our coordinated costume effort for Halloween just a few days later. I was Kevin (the Mama Bird), Jeremy was Russell, and of course, B was the star of our show, Carl.

And as the graaaaand finale, our encounter with REAL Carl.

The week after Thanksgiving, we went to Disney World, and (after some really creative asking on my part and a lot of magic on theirs) we got the REAL Carl to sign Bryson's photos and Adventure Book. We even got VIP seating at the Pixar Pals Parade so we could wave to him! 

NOTE: If you're reading this and I haven't posted those pics yet, leave a comment to remind me. They're amazing.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at!