September 4, 2019

Raleigh's 5th Birthday Ballerina Party

The fact that I'm writing this post almost a year after these were taken shows how "great" of a blogger and on top of it all that I am! haha. Raleigh is turning another year older soon and I remembered I never got around to posting this party we threw for her last year. It was so fun to put together I didn't want to put off posting about it any longer.

I love putting together parties for my kids that are all about them--things they're into, what they love or talk about most, their favorite colors, etc. It's always been natural and fun for me to come up with putting together an event that's well themed and pretty and getting to do that for my kids now is by far the best!

Raleigh has been a little dancer ever since she could start walking. Always into music, boppin her head or singing at the top of her lungs! It's one of my favorite things about her, how much she loves listening to good tunes or can come up with a beat, lyrics and creative dance moves at the drop of a hat. So it was only perfectly fitting to throw a ballerina themed party for her 5th birthday last year. Being a ballerina was especially popular in our household over the past couple years since the girls started their first ballet class (and umm, toddlers in ballet is probably the cutest thing ever!).

The funnest part of the party was surprising Raleigh with some real ballerinas to come over and teach all the kids a little "ballet recital" they could all do together for the parents at the end of the party. The smile on her face when she saw them show up was priceless! The kids made ballerina wands, ate cake, and had a game of "ballerina says" in addition to an impromptu dance party all before the party ended. It was a sweet time celebrating our oldest girl and watching her glow with that beautiful smile of hers was the best part of it all. 

I always say that parties don't have to be a ton of money or over elaborate to make it special (although my husband might say I go overboard every now and then, haha). But making it all about their personality and celebrating who they are is what the theme should always be about. My goal is always to make each of my kids feel known and special in their own way as they grow up weather its through giving them special dates or asking them questions or throwing them a party. I love that each year brings more ways of seeing more of their uniqueness unfold and gives me new and better ways to celebrate them. 

Now I'm off to plan her SIXTH birthday party in another fun way! :)

August 28, 2019

Our Favorite Summer Dessert: Fresas con Crema

I have a huge sweet tooth when it hits about 9 o'clock at night (mostly for ice cream), but when we had no ice cream in sight one night I scrounged around our fridge to see what I could come up with. A handful of strawberries, cream and some sugar is all I could find which reminded me of one of mine and Shane's favorite Mexican desserts "fresas con crema".  So I googled a recipe for the simple dessert and basically went from there making up my own version as I went along based on what I had on hand.  After a few times of making it and adjusting it to our liking, we now have a new family dessert we all love (and has been highly requested around here this summer). The best part is that its easy enough that I had each of the girls help take part in a simple step along the way of making it so it was a sweet family activity to create together as well. 

It's sometimes a challenge finding time to give each of our kids focused attention and time--as you can probably imagine with 5 (almost 6) kids running around. Shane and I have made a commitment since last year to each take a kid out on a special date once a week. Although life gets crazy and schedules get flipped sometimes, we try our best to make this a priority. I've also found that another way to give them sweet time together is allowing them to help out in the kitchen with preparing a meal every once in a while. They each have loved the individual time it brings for us, even if just for a few minutes. And I love that they are eager to learn about what I'm making and how I'm doing it along the way. Giving them these moments is a gift for me as much, if not more, as it is for them. Its something I hope they remember when they're grown up and in the kitchen with their little ones doing the same thing. 

Now, I KNOW I'm no food blogger nor am I trying to be, but since I posted it on my Instagram last week, I've had a handful of people asking for this recipe and I'm so happy to pass it along for you to enjoy! So here is all you need to put together this creamy yummy special treat...

What you need: 
-2 cups fresh strawberries (give or take, depending on how many you are making for)
-1 1/2 cups heavy cream
-2 tablespoons milk (if you want your cream a little thinner)
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
optional toppings:
-coconut flakes
-granola (this is one of my favorites to use)
-chopped pecans

-Cut strawberries in halves or quarters (depending on the size you like) and place in a bowl
-pour sugar over strawberries and mix, coating all of the fruit in sugar
-let strawberries sit for at least 5 minutes for sugar to absorb
-after 5 minutes are up, pour over heavy cream and milk
(optional tip: I like mine extra creamy so I usually pour in as much to barely cover the top of the strawberries in the bowl)
-add vanilla extract for flavor, then mix all together
-if you'd like your dessert colder, let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour to become chilled, otherwise you can eat it right away! 
-once chilled, divide into bowls and top with optional coconut flakes and granola (which I highly recommend ;)) and serve!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we have! If you decide to try it out on our own or with your kiddos please let me know what you think. You can always tag me on Instagram or comment here below. I'd love to hear from you!

August 12, 2019

Twins 5th Birthday Fairy Party

It's been a little over a week now since we officially have three 5 year olds running around our house now. If you're confused by that, our oldest is still 5 and will be 6 in September--her and the twins are 10.5 months apart!

We celebrated their big day in fairy style with just our family for a sweet morning brunch. Anything having to do with fairies or princesses is all they've been into lately, which I kind of love to be honest. I love to watch their imaginations run wild as they dress up and pretend and invent new ways to play together. It brings me back to all the things I used to do as a kid and all of a sudden I'm 5 years old again too.

I scored some things on Amazon for the party like these dresses and shoes that the twins have been wearing non stop. For the birthday activity all the kiddos painted and decorated fairy houses to take home. I was so surprised at how into it they all were and loved that it was something they all were excited about. Seeing each little house at the end of it all was probably my favorite, they all turned out so dang cute!! I love making intentional times like this at their parties, a little activity they can all look forward to and remember back on  as they grow up.

These twins of mine have sure given us more life and laughter and challenge than we ever imagined, but reflecting on this past year with them was something that made Shane and I both choke up at the thought of how sweet our year with them has been. They are feisty and fun, and strong-willed and kind and creative and smart and determined. So many similarities between them, but each in their own unique and different way. I'm pretty proud I get to be the one they call mom and I loved celebrating them in this way.

Here are a few links and inspiration ideas for more things I grabbed for the party in case you were wondering:

Girls fairy outfits: Most of it I found on Amazon, all linked here

Fairy houses and accessories: Houses and mini mushrooms I found online & the rest I grabbed at the dollar store like the moss, clear stones, and butterfly stickers. Similar items here
**Dollar store is a great place to browse for cheap craft stuff. (the adults helped hot glue the stones and moss on once the houses were painted)

Craft paint: All the craft paint I grabbed for .50¢ each at Walmart--  a little tip: I chose 6 colors that all coordinated so it wasn't a big eye sore of color by the end of it ;)

Table decor: I usually browse the birthday section at Target for some cute things, like the gold paper plates and scalloped white table cloth. For flowers I bought the greenery fillers and cheapest pink ones at our local grocery and sprinkled them around the house in jars to add a pretty touch. I used the moss and stones and wooded tree pieces we had laying around as the center of the table to make it look "fairy garden" like. 

Cake: I love to have my kids bake the cake with me and decorate it together for their party--a little tradition we started a couple years ago. I found some fun edible glitter spray and sprinkles in the baking section at Walmart for these that I've used over and over again for the last few parties. (Walmart surprisingly has a ton of fund baking stuff to make cakes and desserts pretty if you're into making them yourself)

Cake topper: I was inspired by this pin I found on pinterest and made the number 5 myself with glitter

Fairy crowns: I made these myself out of craft things we already had at our house and grabbed some fake flowers from the dollar store to add. I will give a little tutorial on that soon! 

Fairy wings: These I also saw at the dollar store (win!!) and grabbed 8 of them for the kids. They were an ugly lime green color to begin with so I bought gold metallic spray paint to change them up and make a little prettier.

Final touch--Fairy topper Illustrations: The little fairies I illustrated and taped onto a wooden stick and place around the flowers and on top of the cake was a last minute idea I had. My girls are ALWAYS asking me to draw things for them these days so it felt fitting to draw them a fairy for their party too. They were quite a hit with them!

I wanted to gift these fairy illustrations to you as well just for saying "thanks" for being here and following along! Simply download the illustrations here, cut them out and add a stick to the back with some tape or glue. If you end up using them I'd love to see how it turns out so don't forget to tag me on Instagram @coleykuyperart #coleykuyperart.

July 18, 2019

Our Mexican Getaway

Traveling abroad with our little family has been something we've dreamed up before we even started having kids.  Although this trip was a dream come true for us, it was nothing "easy" to say the least. 

Sometimes I have a hard time with social media and sharing parts of our life because I never want to come across that we have it better or easier by any means. What I do love about it is getting to share pretty photos and glimpses into our story, but only in hopes that it would inspire others to take on a challenge like traveling with littles, but know that it never comes without the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.  Our trip to Mexico left us with so many sweet memories with our kids and a handful of "believe it or not" stories that still leave us laughing and wondering how we made it through still sane, so I mainly write this to document our crazy trip to remember later on down the road.

The first part of our trip we stayed in the heart of Mexico City where we got to explore with the kids and experience some of the real culture of Mexico there. Something Shane and I love to do when we travel is see where the locals live and eat and play so we get a little insight into life of wherever we're visiting. I think there's so much to learn and gain from when we allow ourselves to enter into someone else's life and step outside our comfort zone for a bit. 

We walked where the locals would, we ate street food like they would, we were recommended some of the best restaurants and coffee shops in town they go to, and played at places where our kids engaged with people that didn't speak the same language. These were probably some of our favorite moments of the trip and every time I talk about it I recommend others to go to places they can get a small glimpse into the life of wherever they're visiting.

One of our favorite experiences of this trip was going to a friend's wedding we had been invited to a little outside of Mexico City--which was really the reason we planned this whole trip. When they invited us we decided to make it a big family event and tacked on a visit to cancun we had been saving up credit card points for for a couple years. 

The girls were so excited to be at another real life wedding (something they're super into pretending and playing right now). We were able to celebrate with our friends late into the evening dancing up a storm with our kids and we were pretty surprised at how long they made it into the night. A few hours after the wedding ended we were up early to head to our next flight to Cancun--which is where the series of crazy events for us began.

Throughout this trip I kept thinking how thankful I was that we had the chance to even do this--as exhausting as it was. I was thankful for the opportunity, for the work my husband put in early on to plan for our family to go and for the adventure of figuring out every curve that was thrown our way. 

I could ramble on and on about each detail that was hard, but I'm not sure I could fit every little thing on this one post! Instead, I started making a list while we were there of the things that were hard about it with a list written next to it of all the things that made it worth it. 

I think it can get really easy to get drowned in the hard stuff when you're raising babies and trying to do life on top of that. It can be easy to say "I'm never taking my kids on an airplane again" or "we will never do a family vacation with little ones" or so on. But I believe wholeheartedly that if we look for the things that make the challenges worth it, those are the places we can see ourselves start to grow. Those are the places we can see our capacity extend and be able to open our hands up for more beauty that could come our way. I believe when we choose to see things differently not only will we benefit from it's rewards, the people around us will get to benefit from it too. 

So below I'm sharing a snippet of the list I made that I think I will start doing more often. Even when we're at home and the days feel long and draining, I'll choose to get out a list and write down the hard--because the hard is REAL and just because there are rewards that come in between doesn't mean we need to ignore the reality of what is/was challenging. And I will write things next to it that made the hard parts worth it. 

The hard things:
-Loading 5 kids, 5 carseats, 3 suitcases, 2 strollers, & 2 adults through the airport
-Almost not making our first flight out of Phoenix due to a cranky airline clerk
-Unexpected hidden fees for our car rental in Mexico
-No air conditioning in our apartment
-Our rental car getting dinged up while it was parked outside overnight
-Starting another travel day at 2am to head to Cancun
-Our first hotel room being a 20+ minute walk from anything at the resort
-Travel day home: more unexpected fees, mama crying, broken air conditioner on flight, then cancelled flight due to broken air after already flying for an hour, heading back to Mexico to go back through immigration, loading up our luggage and kids (again), tiny hotel room for the evening, then up at 6am to find a flight home (I'm not making this stuff up!)

sparing more crazy, yet humorous details in between all of this...

-Made it back to the states with a 45 min layover to make our connecting flight
-Making it to Phoenix to have 3 kids and almost a husband getting sick as we landed (yep, had to clean all that up for a nice welcome home present into the states)

The "worth it" things:

-Getting to walk the streets in Mexico City and explore with our little family
-Talking each day with the girls about the new things we got to experience
-Eating Mexican street corn with the kids
-The girls getting excited to see the big statues in the middle of the city
-The girls saying "hola" and "gracias" to everyone
-Raleigh eating fried octopus 
- Finding a really good local coffee shop after wandering the city and feeling lost
-Talking to locals
-Seeing friends get married and being at a Mexican wedding
-Buying the girls Mexican dresses they wore practically the whole rest of the trip
-Watching the girls dance until midnight
-Arriving to our room in Cancun, feeling thankful we get to do this
-Sitting at the pool and swimming all day with the kids
-Seeing iguanas the size of raccoons and watching the girls get excited about it
-Watching their excitement over the sight of flamingos too
-Family night swimming
-Watching Jaelynn jump off the bridge into the pool fearlessly
-Watching Dash splash and getting braver about jumping into the pool
-Dancing on the beach with my girls to the Mexican band playing next to us
-Sitting next to Shane as we watched our kids play (these are the best of days!)
-The girls cuddled up next to each other all together on the couch each night
-Sitting with Raleigh on our big airplane home watching movies with her
-The kids being total troopers and going with the flow through it all

I hope through this post you don't hear me complaining, because I'm not at all. In all honesty, I would still do this trip and hope to do more traveling abroad trips with our kids as they grow. If anything, the hard moments just give me perspective. Perspective that the control I think I might have can be gone in a second. Perspective to remember that viewing someone else's life through the internet isn't always as easy or glamorous as I sometimes make it out to be. Perspective to look for the opportunities I can learn and gain from through the hard parts of raising kids. Perspective to trust God to take care of us and that even through the stress of it all I always have a choice to be kind and love well. 

There's no doubt this trip left us with a handful of memories and stories to share for years to come, so if nothing else--that's something alone I can be thankful for.