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It was the day we had been anticipating, awaiting. And it always happens the same way. My mind was focused as I cut out a few more pieces, ran around asking where the tape had gone and calling out for towels to be folded and placed here and the toothpicks go in those things there. As the final moments before the party’s the inevitable countdown, I just had to laugh, “I feel like we’re in an episode of some kind on HGTV, where the judges are about to walk in and we’re scrambling, leaving the edges rough and the final product imperfect. But, it’s always good, we always pull out a win. Somehow.”

And a win it was indeed. But not even for us, not for me. It was a win because my baby was happy. Because he knew the day was about him, that we celebrated him and his very existence in our breaths and heartbeat. That is was a celebration of his life.

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Bray's 2nd Birthday web (50 of 192)

Just a few weeks before, I wasn’t sure that we would even have the party, or at least, I wasn’t sure what it would entail. I had the idea for this party just after his first birthday party, and after a move to a new state halfway through the year, and subsequently, just a handful of friends around us, I wasn’t sure if we’d just do something as a family. But once I’d finished sulking about not being home for the actual moment two years had passed since he was first placed in my arms, I decided that it didn’t matter. None of it did… not the size, not the date. What mattered is that we celebrated him fully and deliberately, what mattered was for him to know that the moment of his birth is one of the greatest moments in our lives. And so, a party was planned… in TWO weeks.

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We feted our own little monkey with a soiree of sock monkeys and little red chimps falling out of red barrels.  And as littles danced to the sounds of “5 Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed,” we nibbled on red “monkey” vines and banana chips, Nilla wafers, tootsie rolls and barrel rolls. And, of course, the extra sweet factor wasn’t overlooked with a D.I.Y. cupcake bar for the banana creme Nutella cupcakes in a jar and a variety of toppings like the homemade frosting, mini chocolate chips, caramel and chocolate sauces and sprinkles.

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Bray's 2nd Birthday web (40 of 192)
Bray's 2nd Bday (194)
For the cake decor, I made a mini bunting with the tiniest bit of extra material, glued it to string, speared the cake with two wooden skewers and slipped the striped straws overtop before tying the bunting onto the straws.

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Bray's 2nd Bday (193)
Banana creme nutella cake-in-a-jar recipe from Whipperberry. The toppings were left off as part of the “Build Your Own Cupcake” bar.

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Bray's 2nd Birthday web (17 of 192)
The barrel rolls recipe is easy-peasy and was found in one of Aliyah’s “kid” cookbooks… A slice of bread flattened with a roller, with a slice of deli turkey and a cheesestick rolled up inside and held with a toothpick.

Bray's 2nd Birthday web (9 of 192)
Bray's 2nd Birthday web (10 of 192)
This cute little red wagon was filled with ice to keep the customized bottled waters cold.

But we didn’t want the sweetness to end at the party, so we sent our guests home with the ingredients for Monkey Munch cookies, a recipe adapted from Bakerella… and I have to say, they were delicious! Plus the little ones each took home their own barrel of monkeys, customized with a “Thank-you” from Brayden, of course.

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Bray's 2nd Bday (196)
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I can see the tug-o-war going on between his independence and this bit of babyhood that’s still in his grasp. The moments of making his own decisions and coming up with completely new ideas and thoughts are a direct comparison to the moments he just wants to be in this mama’s arms… and at that moment, mama’s arms are the only thing that will make him happy.

Seeing both of these things, the growing and changing, the sweet baby face and need for our zealous love brings about a storm of emotions where words are lost on how to do them justice.

For now, I’ll just leave it to Plumb, who’s words were playing the moment I reached out and pulled him close… the moment his skin touched mine, the moment my heart was his.

Your baby blues, so full of wonder.
Your curly cues, your contagious smile.
And as I watch, you start to grow up.
All I can do is hold you tight

Hold him tight I will, while I also let him grow, and go, and discover and learn.

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Bray's 2nd Birthday web (95 of 192)
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Bray's 2nd Birthday web (120 of 192)
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Happy Birthday to our sweet and beautiful, caring and happy two year old.

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Bray's 2nd Birthday web (175 of 192)

And thank you friends, new and old, for being a part of our special day. Of his special day.

Vendor Credits:

Photography:: Relish Studios
Paper printables:: Luvalexa
Cake:: Sweet Caroline’s Bakery
Wooden sporks:: Island Bamboo
Red wagon and other vintage decor:: Borrowed from Little Rusty Wagon Photography
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