A ‘Frozen’ Toddler Birthday

About a month ago, maybe two, M saw Frozen for the first time and immediately fell in love with Olaf the snowman. We had been loosely planning a luau-themed birthday for her because I couldn’t think of anything she really enjoyed enough to turn into a birthday theme, but all that went out the window when her new-found Frozen obsession came to town. I quickly changed gears and started planning a Frozen toddler birthday that was less princess-heavy than most of what I’d seen online (because she doesn’t really care about Anna and Elsa!).

First, we rented a room at our local rec centre. It was a decision made because our upstairs bathroom is under renovations right now and we didn’t want to make all the party guests trek to our basement, but it actually turned out to be a pretty good idea. It was $30 for two hours, they provided the tables and let us in an hour early to set up, and once we pulled all the party supplies down post-party, and trashed most of what we had brought, their cleaning crew came in and dealt with the rest. Judging by the amount of Play-Doh on the floor, I am very glad we didn’t have it at home and will strongly consider outsourcing party locations in the future (though there was a minor hockey tournament happening at the same time — next year we might pick a hotel conference room or the local train station).

Even though I got there an hour early I ended up slammed for time because Matt had to run out and get more table coverings, the bag of party activities I forgot at home, and pick up the birthday girl after her nap. I didn’t get any of my own photos of the set up before people arrived, and I only snapped two photos on my phone. I decided actually paying attention to the party was more important!


The Decor

The room was a fairly blank canvas, but it being a two-year-old’s party, I didn’t want to go too overboard. I also didn’t want to go nuts with Frozen-themed everything, but snowflakes are in season so that was easy to deal with! I bought two snowflake tablecloths and a purple Mylar covering, then Matt had to run out and grab a few rolls of snowflake wrapping paper to fill in the gaps because the tables were way longer than I thought they’d be. I picked up a snowflake decorating pack too, which was a bunch of paper snowflakes, snowflake-patterned lanterns, and snowflake garlands. We kept everything but the lanterns — they got trashed in the removal process — and are all set for some kind of winter party in the future. One of M’s only requests was “triangle hats” so I also bought two packs of classic party hats.

Things I Bought & Didn’t Use

I had purple and blue streamers purchased, as well as some generic birthday balloons, but completely ran out of time and couldn’t put them up before everyone started arriving — and I would have liked to cover the food and gift tables with the paper roll too, but whatever. I bought silver plates, purple and blue napkins, and purple forks, most of which went unused, so I could have skipped those.

The Food

The party went from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. so I figured we could get away with finger food, and I was right (or maybe everyone was starving and didn’t tell me). I bought a small cheese, sausage, and pickle tray; three packages of Frozen-themed juice boxes (probably should have bought more); “Olaf arms” which were pretzel sticks; artichoke and Asiago dip; and I made cream cheese and jam sandwiches which dried out and were probably totally unnecessary. As for the cake, M requested chocolate cupcakes so I made those from scratch, and loaded them up with homemade icing and the sprinkles she picked out (which covered just how horrible an icing job I put forth).


The Activities

This was what I was most worried about, and why I’m writing this post because maybe someone else is wondering WTF to do with a handful of kids in a space that is not your own, when you don’t really know half of them because they are daycare friends and you are very concerned about keeping everybody entertained.

There were probably a dozen kids there, ranging from two-year-olds up to kindergarten age. Our only previous birthday experiences have been in houses where all the birthday kid’s toys are up for grabs. I decided to throw together a random assortment of activities and hoped it would occupy everyone! I made plain snowflake sugar cookies and set them out with icing scribblers so kids  could decorate their own, which seemed to be a big hit. I printed out some Frozen colouring pages and provided crayons, bought three jars of Play-Doh, and provided half a dozen bottles of bubbles. At the last minute I also grabbed eight big punch balloons which were massively entertaining until they all started popping half an hour into the party. And, we had a big Olaf pull-string pinata stuffed with candy, which worked as an activity and our favours. Matt downloaded the Frozen soundtrack and played it with a Bluetooth speaker in case any kids wanted to dance.


Singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and eating cupcakes took up a chunk of time, and we decided to let M open up her presents from her friends during the party (which is when things went nuts — rookie move? I don’t know).

Was it Pinterest-worthy? No, I don’t think so. But from what I could tell the kids all had a lot of fun, there weren’t any dead moments when nobody knew what to do, and M had a blast.

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M at Two Years

A two-year-old. A two-year-old. I’ve been watching what was happening two years ago, on my social media feeds thanks to all the throwback features. Two years ago last week I was trying my best to walk this baby right out of me, but she stuck to her own schedule and her own way of doing things. Two years ago this week we were getting to know each other through a haze of sleeplessness and sheer love.

I can’t believe it’s been two years already — I look back at photos of those last few days of pregnancy, and the first few days of infancy, and it feels so far away that it hurts my heart, a little bit. My teeny, tiny baby is so big now, an actual little girl with a very vivid personality, the one we saw tiny glimpses of way back when. She is her own person, and the leaps and bounds she has made this year are amazing.



M likes to weigh herself on the scale that lives in our kitchen (it’s a body weight scale, not a kitchen scale). She hovers somewhere around 26 to 27 lbs., which means she has barely put on any weight in quite some time. She’s certainly eating, and growing, but she is rapidly shooting up in height, so she is long and lean, still, just like she was as a baby. I don’t know her height, because I don’t think I could get her to stand still long enough to check.


I call her Bug, sometimes. Daycare has picked up ‘Goldie’ which is probably our least favourite nickname, as parents, but we always said she would be free to go with what she wanted when she was old enough to speak for herself. We’ll see how that one plays out as she gets bigger, because I’m imagining a 13-year-old M styling herself as Goldyie or something just to drive her mother to the brink of crazy. ;)


This is all very sleep-dependent, these days. When she gets enough rest she’s perky, chipper, and full of energy. When she’s tired, she is more prone to fall into the stereotypical tantrum-y toddler behaviour. Either way, she’s determined, talkative, and very social.


She is an expert at all things that rock, bounce, and roll. Lately she’s been colouring a lot — scribbles, but she identifies the colours and tells me what it is that she’s creating. She can take off her clothes but not put them back on. She uses the potty but not enough to be considered ‘trained.’ She’s been speaking in full sentences for quite some time — her first forays into stringing words together came shortly after her first birthday, and now she’s in the “What’s that?” stage. She uses the word “I” appropriately probably 75 per cent of the time; otherwise it’s things like “Mine wants that” or “M wants yogurt.”

She counts, but it’s usually “1-2-3-4-9-11-12-13!” She runs, she jumps (fearlessly, off of things and onto things), she pushes her chairs around and uses them as step stools to get into the things she wants that have been put up high. She rocks all of her dollies and stuffed animals, puts them to sleep under their blankets, and frets about which ones are hungry. Basically, she does a bit of everything, and it’s enthralling to watch.



Daycare solved our nap issues. Before that, she was struggling — we thought she was going to become a no-nap kid way too early, but finally having the structure and routine of a daycare centre was all she needed. At home on weekends, I tell her that it’s “quiet time” and lay her down in her crib around noon, and she’ll sleep for about two hours. Night time is a bit more challenging but once she goes to sleep she usually stays asleep, to the point that I have to wake her up on daycare days in the morning. On weekends she will sleep in an extra hour or two, but still follows the same nap and bedtime schedule. It works.

She’s still in a crib but will be moving to a toddler bed when we get the back half of our house renovated. We have the furniture and everything in boxes — it just needs a place to live.


We have entered into the somewhat-picky eating stage. M loves noodles. When I ask her what she had for lunch at daycare (they provide two snacks and lunch) she either tells me “noodles” or “not noodles.” So if she could just live on pasta that would be great, but vegetables are kind of a necessity, yes? She loves hot dogs, clementines, bananas shared with Matt, strawberry yogurt, cheese, and orange juice, which she insists is apple juice. And friggin’ Halloween candy.

A few weeks ago she polished off two filets of basa, on her own, flavoured only with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. It was a miracle.



We’re in a weird place where she needs 2T pants for the length, but if she wears them, they are way too baggy in the waist unless she’s in cloth diapers (which are now only a weekend thing with the daycare switch). She’s been getting away with 2T leggings, mostly. Her 18-24 month tops are also getting a bit short, but still fit, so she’s in a combination of both sizes. She wears size 6 shoes.


Having picnics, which means putting a blanket on the floor and sitting with all of her play food and her “friends” (her dolls and stuffed animals). Going outside, particularly if it involves a snowman. Frozen, Olaf… yeah. She still loves reading, and loves colouring and playing with stickers. Play-Doh is a recent hit.

Doesn’t Love:

Bath time, but our bath tub has been out of commission for a good month now and she seems to be doing well with showers. We’ll see what happens when the tub is back. Having her hair brushed. Having to take off her PJs in the morning/put them on at night. Random, bizarre things, like the milk-related tantrum she had — she did NOT want to see a carton of milk on the table, even though it wasn’t for her. There are lots of sporadic, strange meltdowns, but that’s what being two is all about, I guess!


Mom & Dad:

I would say we are firmly into the swing of things as parents, but the tantrums and questioning stage are both rearing their heads so it’s still a bit flummoxing at times. I feel much more experienced than I did two years ago, though. There are new challenges, but new joys. It’s hard to remember life before M — we are both so glad that she’s a part of our family, and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Things to Remember:

Over the last six months specifically (since my last update) the biggest new thing to remember is that M started at a new daycare setting and has really thrived. Just hearing all of the new words, seeing all of the new skills — it’s a delight. We also started a dance class which is a very casual thing but so much fun to watch. She will request a few of the songs at home and do the dances. Her second birthday, which I’ll post more about, is a really special memory already, because she had SO MUCH FUN. I think I’ll look back on the time before she turned two, and after she was 18 months old, as a time of huge discoveries and her personality really coming out and shining.


Dear M,

Right now as I type this I’m sitting on the couch in the living room, and you are making Play-Doh cupcakes with your daddy. When I came home from work a few minutes ago you were sitting in a crate he was building to hold firewood, and you were announcing, “I’m an elephant in here!” You helped him hammer the last few planks on, then you grabbed one of your tiny chairs, tried to steal an orange from the counter, and shoved three grown-up chairs together to make a choo choo train. You are a whirlwind. You are so much fun.

You have spent the last two days non-stop ‘cooking’ in your new play kitchen — you delighted your aunties yesterday when you pulled them over by the hand to watch you bake cupcakes and fill your kettle with imaginary water. They were so impressed that you were mimicking the noises they made — “beep beep” and “woosh” coming from your little mouth as you kept yourself busy, all on your own, using that active imagination you are so lucky to have.

Sometimes you don’t know what’s real and what isn’t — you try to shove yourself into a photo or movie by smacking your head against a screen or a page of a book. That’s how much you can dream and imagine and cultivate a world beyond what is actually here. You are so very creative and smart and funny and curious — you are determined, and opinionated, and very much your own person. I hope you don’t lose that sense of wonder, that sense of joy, that ability to dream up whatever you desire and picture it vividly like it’s right in front of you. If you keep it, it will serve you well.

You’ve showed us a bit of the magic of a two-year-old’s world, too, and for that I am grateful. Everything is a little bit more fantastic when we view it through your eyes. On the worst of days you have been a little light, a presence empathetic beyond your years, a tiny miracle showing us that good things do happen to people who are otherwise very ordinary. You are our good thing, every day.

Love always,


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Friday Night Meatballs: An Update/How-To

I swore up and down that we would be bringing Friday Night Meatballs back with a bang once Matt’s summer schedule slowed down — we had good intentions but too much going on, still, and several Fridays during which I just felt like hiding under a blanket. Since the summer heat died down we’ve only hosted two meatball nights, which is a bummer, but I’m still hopeful we can get back into the swing of things. I don’t actually mind it not being a guaranteed weekly experience, but at least once a month would be a nice minimum.

My sister had asked me, maybe a month ago, for some tips and tricks now that we’ve been meatballing (I turned that into a verb) for quite some time now, and a group of online friends also put out feelers for what, if anything, could make their own dinner club experiences as good as possible. And, we were in Canadian Living talking about the subject… I’m no expert, but I do have a few things to share.

Don’t Plan Too Much

Part of the appeal of FNM to me is the forced spontaneity. Yes, it’s always on a Friday, and yes, I put out one last Thursday-evening social media call to tell people to give me a yes, if they’re going to come. It’s good to know roughly how many people are coming, so you can ensure you have adequate food and seating. But don’t expect people to arrive on time every time. Don’t worry if the house is a teeny bit messy. Don’t think about what comes after the food; if people are going to want to stay around or go home. Just go with it. Open your doors, and have fun.

Advance Meatballs are the Best Meatballs

I don’t follow a specific recipe for meatballs and sauce — it’s usually two kinds of ground meat (sausage and beef typically), an egg, some panko, and spices. They’re good with ricotta, too. Do your thing. I suggest making a lot of them. Roll them into balls, place on a cooling rack situated on a cookie sheet, bake them in the oven at 350C until they’re brown, throw the ones you need for that night into a couple cans of crushed tomatoes + spices + a bit of honey + garlic + onions; put the rest of them in a container in the freezer. The next meatball night, you can save a lot of time by throwing the frozen meatballs right into your sauce to warm.

Make More Food Than You Think You’ll Need

… if you’re having a crowd. Our old faithful FNM standby team is my BIL and SIL, so combined with the three of us that’s only four adults and a toddler. I can guesstimate the food requirements for that quite well, but any time we start adding in more people I end up with dangerously low amounts of meatballs. Make more than you think you’ll need — you can always enjoy the leftovers tomorrow (pro tip: fry your spaghetti and meatballs for leftover lunch).

Delegate, Or Invite Others into the Kitchen

I struggled with this at first — I wanted to have FNM because I wanted to be more social, but then everyone would come over and hang out with Matt in the living room while I was cooking. I started asking Matt to do things like set the table, bring out condiments, etc., so that I spent less overall time away from the crowd. And, if people came in and asked if they could do anything, instead of waving it off I said yes, or just told them they could feel free to stand in the kitchen with their drink and keep me company.

This is probably dependent on your house layout — I know in the house we lived in before this one, it was more open concept, and I might not have had to do this, but don’t presume the party will always navigate to the kitchen, especially while you’re actively cooking.

Let People Bring Food — And Tell Them What to Bring

I haven’t been doing this but I realized I should be. People text and ask what they should bring and I want to be low-key so I say, oh, whatever, bring anything or nothing! Then you end up with three loaves of bread, or everyone brought dessert, or nobody brought anything but someone else was hoping for salad. Basic things people can bring include bread, salad, drinks, dessert, or an appetizer. Start with what you think is most important and go from there.

A lot of the time we just have spaghetti and meatballs and whatever condiments are in our house, because I don’t want to furnish an entire meal and I don’t expect anyone to ever have to bring anything. If you take that route, know that your meals may be more basic, but really, spaghetti and meatballs are quite filling!

Don’t Be Afraid to Shake it Up

We had meatballs on pizza one time. I’ve heard of people hosting waffle nights, or taco nights, or setting up a rotating dinner party club where a different family/couple makes a meal each weekend and serves it at their house. Do whatever works for you, and for your social circle. If your goal is to see more people and share more friendship, it doesn’t have to come in the form of pasta and meatballs on a Friday.


It’s Okay if Nobody Says Yes, Or if You Say No

Some nights, everyone will be busy. Or you’ll be busy. It just won’t work out, even for weeks at a time, and that’s okay. Your friends are still your friends. You can still jump back into things later on, or give up entirely, or something in between.

This Friday, I’m more than likely going to be up to my elbows in birthday party prep (!!!) but there’s always next Friday. Our last FNM ended somewhat late into the night, with drinks and family and conversations with friends we hadn’t seen in a long, long time, so I know it’s well worth the sauce splatters on my kitchen walls.

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I’m not really sure where to start, here. I don’t think I’ve stopped writing for this long in quite some time. Every time I pulled up a blank draft document because I felt like I should, I reached for words. This time I’m just letting my fingers lead the way. It’s not that I don’t want to write her, it’s that it has hurt too much. It’s felt like another to-do on a list of to-dos that I don’t really want to do, at all. My energy has been flagging, and blogging has simply not been anywhere near the top of my priorities.

I don’t know if I’ll start writing a lot, again. I don’t know if I’ll be inspired, or if I’ll just jump back in and out when the mood strikes me. I don’t feel like planning ahead or making any kind of commitments when I don’t have to. The only thing driving me is me — that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the people who read these words, of course, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel beholden or anything like that, which is probably a good thing when you think about it.

There’s this theory that for every action you take, decision you make, thing that happens to you, you go one way and an alternate version of you goes the other. In some divergent reality, there is me — actually, a couple of mes — that had a much better run of the last three or four months than I have. To put it bluntly, because I have shared elsewhere and may as well share here, I’ve had two miscarriages in three months. It sucks. It’s getting better but it still sucks. A lot of days I wish I could somehow get myself aligned with that divergent me, either one of them, but that’s impossible and a useless expenditure of my thoughts and emotions. I am where I am and I need to work with that.


I have my family. I have my health — I think, and I am actively working on getting that aspect of things squared away. I’m working with a really good medical practitioner who is helping me feel reassured that there is actually nothing wrong with me and I am just someone who has had the bad luck of having bad luck twice in a row. It’s weird to hope that I’ve just been unlucky, but if it’s a case of luck, then luck can change.

That’s all I’m going to say on the subject, I think. I don’t want to rip myself open and feel like I am super vulnerable all the time. I am through the worst of it, and I’m working through all of my feelings elsewhere. I might share them here one day, I might not. I kind of want to be able to enjoy a bit of frivolity and mindlessness, here, but I don’t think I can do that without acknowledging why I took a break.

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A Break

Things have been a little bit rough lately. I’m dealing with some bumps in the road and stumbling blocks, challenges that are knocking me down and not really giving me a chance to get back up. As I told Matt yesterday, “I just need some time in my cave right now.” I feel like what I imagine a bear feels like when it’s about that time to hibernate — I am exhausted and ready to just close my eyes and let a little bit of oblivion take over.


I don’t have a cave to retreat to, but I’m trying to allow myself some grace. Right now, blogging feels like a box in which I have to place a check mark or I’m dropping the ball — and I just don’t feel like it. This isn’t new to me; I’ve disappeared before, and I will come back, but I’m taking a break for now. As usual, I’ll still be reading along, just not writing, right now.

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