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Anchored In Christ ~ A First Communion Celebration

Two weekends ago Holden made his first holy communion. Two years of CCD brought him to this point and he was looking forward to this sacrament….tired of “just” getting a blessing at communion and ready to receive the body & blood of Christ.

We worked on his banner together over Spring Break…he did the layout and I did the hot gluing.


I spent months looking for the right dress pants, shoes and tie. One day while killing time I popped into Janie & Jack and found some brown trousers on the clearance rack for under $20. And while we were enjoying a holiday stroll through The Grove back in December, again, I ran into J & J and found some darling brown wing tip boots for half price. Once we settled on the anchor icon, I knew I needed to locate a tie with said symbol and found one in navy blue from Hobo Ties on Etsy.


No photos were allowed during the ceremony, but here he is with Father Albert after mass…



{Jay just happened to already have a dress shirt with anchors on it! I found Elliott’s sailor inspired dress at nautica.com for under $20. My skirt is Lauren Conrad from Kohl’s, top from Old Navy, pearl & gold statement necklace is from Target and fedora from Kmart!}

Holden had team pictures and a baseball game later that afternoon so we had a quick lunch at In N Out and shifted gears. For his special dinner, later that evening, he chose Lucille’s for ribs.


We hosted a brunch the following morning to celebrate our sweet communicant.

I found some simple little anchor notecards at Target for the invitations and that quickly became the theme of his celebration brunch ~ a nautical nod to this very big faith milestone.


I had a couple pieces of wood laying around in the garage and decided to make a sign with the Hebrews verse that prompted me to go with the anchor icon for this special occasion…


I put a light coat of white on it to give it a beachy, white-washed look, hand wrote the design in pencil and then pained over it with metallic gold and navy blue paints.


I don’t have a good picture of them, but the party favors were a faux succulent pictured on the mantel to the right of the sign and a little bag of peppermint Lifesavers. The succulents were a huge hit. Everyone couldn’t believe they were artificial and was glad they required absolutely NO water!


I saw the Lifesaver idea on Pinterest for a nautical baby shower and had the little paper treat bags, but wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. The mints were perfect and I added a little label with the verse Jeremiah 31:24 ~ “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint”.

We have a huge vintage Cinzano poster in our dining area that I covered with wrapping paper to give this space a more cohesive and festive look…


I also hung 2 of these navy paper lanterns over our huge dining table.

The paper plates, napkins, straws & cups are all from either Target or Home Goods. I picked these up months ago knowing I’d most likely go with navy blue & some shade of green.


Fortunately being close to summer, it was easy to find anchor goodies!


{large anchor from Marshalls and “Let’s Set Sail” sign from Home Goods}


For the brunch, I tried to keep things simple. We had a couple baked egg casseroles {one with sausage, cheese & sourdough bread and one with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and hash browns as the base} They were both a hit, however, I think most of the guests enjoyed the Mediterranean one a little more.


I also made Monkey Bread and should have made two as this stuff is ALWAYS popular and the first to go…


Fruit salad and mimosas are always a must for brunch…


Lolo & Lola ordered a 10″ marble Nothing Bundt Cake and there wasn’t a crumb left!


Holden was blessed with so many wonderful keepsake gifts of his faith, gift cards and a telescope from Gramma Kathy to look into the heavens!

It was another wonderful milestone on his faith journey and I am sad that it’s over. The next big one is confirmation in high school!

In the meantime, we’ll continue religious education and faith formation.

Glory to God in the highest.


Over Spring Break it hit me that Holden’s First Holy Communion was less than a month away and I hadn’t given much thought to his reception and invitations!

I had a color scheme in mind {mostly navy & green}, but not really a “theme”. As I was strolling through Target last week, I spotted these Mara Mi notecards and immediately knew that an anchor was going to be the icon for this big milestone in Holden’s faith journey.


“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” ~ Hebrews 6:19


I’ve also been on the hunt for a tie to complete his outfit for the big day. I immediately searched on-line for an anchor tie and settled on this one via Etsy…



Trying to keep the decor simple and use things I already have. Did a search for FREE anchor printables and found this one that I adore and ties in with everything…



Moving right along…..

Following this very special weekend is Elliott’s big double digit birthday celebration so I am in full swing with the party planning. There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing our kiddos at their parties & celebrations with friends and family.

Feeling anchored and extremely blessed.


Tulle Time ~ A First Holy Communion Celebration

This past weekend Elliott celebrated her first holy communion.

When given two dates to choose from, I decided to go with Saturday the 11th of May so that it would fall on Mother’s Day weekend. My in-laws and mom would be in town and we’d all be able to celebrate Mother’s Day together for the first time, as well.

But honestly the focus was on our sweet, sweet almost 8-year old and her special day.

I really can’t put into words the pride and joy I felt. We were given several blank cards to choose from at the communion retreat and instructed to write our child a note and give it to them the morning of their mass. I tuned out the hustle and bustle, sat and wrote her words from my heart, took her aside and had her read it. She immediately gave me a hug and said, “Thank you, mommy!”

She was confident. She was ready.

Some days she fights me when it’s time to go to CCD, but I’ve never backed down and every time we arrive and I walk her to her room, she runs in and doesn’t even say goodbye. I’m OK with that.

She’s memorized all her prayers and even got 100% on her cumulative quiz. She performed her first reconciliation like a {pro} in early February. I had NO doubt that she was going to make us just as proud as she received her first eucharist.

And proud we were….




{We found her dress at Nordstrom. It’s actually an Easter dress and was a fraction of the cost of their communion dresses sold on-line. I wanted simple and classic, yet with a twist and I think this was perfect. Her little shoes are from Payless and her veil is from the parish gift shop. ~ Thank you to Lolo & Lola for her dress and Gramma Kathy for her cross earrings and matching necklace! XO}

Jay and I hosted a little dessert celebration that evening and I had so much fun planning and preparing for that. Obviously.

I found some sweet notecards at TJ Maxx and used those for the invites. Again, I just format the text and run them through the printer for a “professional” look.


Of course the main color of the day was WHITE so I tried my hardest to stray away from the bright, vibrant colors that I love so much. I knew there was going to be some tulle involved since, to me, that is so light and delicate and reminiscent of the veils worn by the little girls.

I covered our huge Cinzano picture in brown mailing paper and then hung a few embroidery hoops from the tulle. I found a small remnant of while polka dot fabric at Joann’s as it complemented the little dots on her dress.


I’d also seen a balloon chandelier on Pinterest and went off memory when putting that up…


I had no idea what I was doing…just picked up a bag of 10 gold {accent color} balloons and some white iridescent curling ribbon, blew up the balloons, cut a long piece of ribbon, curled the bottom half of it and hung it with tape on the ceiling so that the curly part hung down. Simple as that. I hung all 10 balloons over the center of our big table.


We decided to just do desserts and drinks and I wanted everything to be white. I went with my favorite sugar cookie bars, white chocolate covered strawberries, white chocolate covered pretzel rods, TJ’s vanilla meringues and at the last minute we picked up an ice cream cake for the kids.





It was just lemonade for the kids and beer and wine for the adults…


I finally picked up the stemless wine glasses I’ve been wanting for years for the occasion.


I wanted all the families to go home with a little something so I found some small wall plaques at Dollar Tree, swapped out the ugly ribbon and repackaged them. I think we all can benefit from a little reminder of FaItH & hOpE once in awhile.


FAITH is inspiration for the future.

HOPE never falters or gives up.






The kids chalked up our court with the help of the street lights. Elliott desperately wanted me to take a picture at 10:30pm, but I had to wait until daylight to best capture her work…


Here are some other favorites from the day…









Thank you to all who came to the church for the mass and to our home to celebrate and for all her precious gifts ~ perfect reminders for her down the road of this special day and tokens of our faith.

It was a truly blessed day.

Can’t wait to do it again in two years with Holden.

Stressin’ About Shoes

Elliott is receiving her first holy communion this weekend.

It’s a big deal.

I know this because I just went through it myself about 6 weeks ago.

She’s been preparing for this since October and she is so excited. Her catechist has done such a fantastic job this year paving the road to her first reconciliation and now her eucharistic sacrament. I think it helped that she watched me being baptized, confirmed and receive at the Easter Vigil. She is ready and we can hardly wait to witness this solemn, yet powerful, milestone.

We’ve been shopping and selected her dress with Lolo and Lola. She chose her veil all on her own {I zipped my lips ~ promise!} at the parish gift shop and we tracked down Monsignor Mike to bless it. We’ve been practicing taking the host and sipping the wine at home.

And then there was the shoe issue.

She wanted sandals with HEELS.

WHITE sandals with heels.

Like these…


I said absolutely not and may have played the {sandals are not allowed} card.

I just couldn’t do it.

Her dress is darling and extremely simple. I wanted her shoes to also be classic and sweet.

Without heels.

I scoured several stores ~ Famous Footwear, Kohl’s, Target, Wal-mart {just couldn’t go through life knowing I purchased her first communion shoes at Wal-mart, sorry}, Marshall’s and Ross.

Then a mom that I totally adore and value her style and taste mentioned that she got her daughter’s shoes at Payless and that they had several styles to choose from. I immediately logged on and clicked through the white dress shoes and found these cuties…


Delicate little ruffles with the ever so tiny sparkle of a few rhinestones.



AND they were $5 off.

ANNNNND when I got home and showed them to her she squeeeealed, “They have heels!”

Win. Win.

Everyone’s happy and she’ll be an inch closer to the ground ~ at 7 {allllmost 8} years old, that is a good thing.

I suppose one could argue that the higher the heels, the closer to GOD………

Cannot argue with that.


Looking forward to your day, Elliott Elizabeth Aspiras…Saturday, May 11, 2013 is going to be so, so special.

It’s NOT about the shoes anyway.


This little fetus had his first day of his {last} year of preschool today…

Man, five years has never gone so fast.

I remember September 28, 2006 like it was yesterday…

And in 5 years from now when he’s starting 4th grade, today will seem like it was just yesterday, too…

Elliott sent him off with good luck hugs.

Lots to learn this year in pre-K…

…and Miss Sandi will show him the way.


The LAST thing I want to feel is that I hurried away these days…

These days of short order meals.

Water on the bathroom floor.

Lego explosions.

Sassy back talking.

Repeating things 18 times.

Yadda. Yadda. Yah.

So I will sit back and {try} to LOVE these days before a whole new set of challenges arise.

Sometimes you need to stand back and reflect to truly appreciate where you are.

And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.


We officially have a first grader…

She confidently stood in line, marched into class, found her seat and welcomed her first day of the 2011-2012 school year.

Thanks to Lolo & Lola for the new school duds ~ she looked adorable!


One down, one to go…Holden starts tomorrow.


This little one is starting FIRST grade tomorrow…

These pics were taken almost exactly SIX years ago.

It was an impromptu photo shoot at Pottery Barn Kids that we were pressured into unable to say no to and ended up costing me a huge chunk of my last disability check….but in hind sight was worth every penny.

I can never get back those {3 month old} days.

Those little arm rolls. Those chubby cheeks. That teeny tiny hair clip holding down that ornery hair.

Yesterday afternoon I took her to see who her teacher is. I picked her up, pointed to her name, ran my finger along the page to the {teacher} column and asked her to tell me what it said. She read it, seemed a little puzzled and then realized that she has the same teacher this year as she did for kindergarten. She was thrilled. WE are thrilled.

I got choked up as I explained to her how special it is that she gets the same, wonderful teacher this year. I told her that I was so proud of her and for all she learned, the friends she made and the person she became in kindergarten. She told me she was happy that she had Mrs. H again and that there were some familiar faces in her class. “I’m not scared anymore”, she said. That makes this mama so happy.

She’s in a combo class this year with second graders which is obviously new to us, but I am confident that everything will be fine since we adored Mrs. H last year.

Here’s to another year of 7am wake up calls, early morning walks to school, scratching my head for some {new} lunch box ideas, homework, volunteering, spelling tests, field trips, etc.

She has a fresh new haircut. Her outfit all picked out for tomorrow. School supplies tucked into her backpack. New lunch box ready to carry all the wonderfully creative and never duplicated {ha!} snacks and lunches.

Last year FLEW by and I am certain this one will too.

My FIRSTborn is now a FIRST grader….

Today, this official last day of her summer, is a reminder to relish these days because in the same time from when she was only in a diaper on that fuzzy white blanket to now, she will be 12 years old and going into 7th grade. Gah!


“I am not a perfect mother and I will never be. You are not a perfect daughter and you will never be. But put us together and we will be the best mother and daughter we would ever be.” ~ Zoraida Pesante

Toothless Tuesday

Not only did Cupid come yesterday, but the Tooth Fairy also paid Chez Aspiras a little visit for the first time!

While chewing on a green Skittle from her Valentine loot, out it came!

We placed it in a small envelope, she wrote “Toth Fare” on the front and slipped it under her pillow.

A five dollar bill greeted her this morning…

{what’s the going rate for the {Toth Fare} these days, anyway?}


Valentine’s Day recipes coming up…..

my day was derailed at about 10:30 this morning and I am scurrying around trying to rectify everything!

Everything is fine, but it’s just a NUISANCE! Any guesses?

More on that later, too…….

Birthday Countdown: Part II

Dear Elliott,

Your First Year was filled with so much…both literally and figuratively. Here are some highlights:
You visited the San Diego County Fair at just a few weeks old. You took your first plane ride at 3 months. You and Rascal kept Mommy company on our drive to Nor Cal (your new home) when you were 5 months old. You were the sweetest Monkey while trick-or-treating in Menlo Park on your First Halloween (also 5 months). You were baptized and celebrated your First Thanksgiving at Lolo & Lola’s house in South Carolina with the whole family at 6 months. Of course your first Christmas, New Year’s, Superbowl, Valentine’s Day, St. Paddy’s Day and Easter were very special. You visited the grumpiest Santa at the SF Zoo, but later saw the “Happy Santa” at the good ‘ol Valley Fair Westfield Mall. You began swim lessons at 10 months and this is where you met your very first girlfriend, Charlotte! You moved into your brand new house in Gilroy at 11 months. I celebrated my very first Mother’s Day with you in beautiful Carmel, but had to get dinner “to go” later that evening because you had the HUGEST blowout in your darling little watermelon outfit (including your watermelon Robeez!) But, it was still one of the most special memories even with the package of wipes that we went through to clean you up in the tailgate of our old white Volvo wagon! Shortly thereafter, you celebrated your First Birthday with a Jungle themed adventure! I had SO much fun planning your bash and I think this is where I went into perpetual “party plannning mode”. Even though we had just moved to the area, you had SO many friends and family there to celebrate with you as you entered your Second year of life. It was a “wild” day and I a still dreaming of your fresh banana cake from one of my all time fave bakeries, Icing On The Cake in downtown Los Gatos. Oh how I miss that place!

Here you are in your cheetah print dress from Auntie Jeannie & Uncle Mark in Boston:

And your gorgeous fresh banana cake:


Your Second Year was also action packed. Here are just some of the highlights…You quickly started meeting lots of fun new friends in your neighborhood (your BFF being, Logan) and by this time you and Charlotte were two peas in a pod and spent Wednesdays together after swimming lessons. You visited the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with your friend William when you were 13 months. You attended your first Gilroy Garlic Festival at 14 months. You flew to Vegas at 17 months to visit Lola & Lola and celebrate my 36th birthday. You did your first “apple picking” at Gizdich Ranch with Logan when you were 18 months old. You celebrated your 2nd Turkey Day and Christmas in your new home along with family. You went to the snow in Lake Tahoe when you were 20 months. However, the biggest milestone of your second year was that when you were 21 months old, you became a Big Sister. I will never forget you waiting (aka running) out in the halls with Gramma when your Baby Brother was born. You came in just minutes later and laid eyes on Holden and you have been a wonderful Big “Sissy” ever since (well maybe despite a couple minor instances!). You were such a patient girl for the first couple months while Mommy and Daddy got the hang of things. You shared your 2nd Birthday weekend with Holden with a back-to-back Baptism and your Western Cowgirl themed rodeo on Memorial Day Weekend 2007. Again, this birthday was filled with MANY new friends, family….and of course, fresh banana cake from Icing On The Cake! We also served mini sloppy joe’s, Auntie Bucky’s Ranch potato salad, Uncle Matt’s baked beans and your favorite, piggies in a blanket for all the little cowboys and cowgirls!

This is one of my favorite pics of you EVER. EVER.:

…and again, the infamous fresh banana cake:

Only 2 more days, my Little Sugar Muffin, and you’ll be FIVE!

Now, off to celebrate with mini bagels & cream cheese at school with your classmates!

Coming up tomorrow ~ Birthday Countdown: Part III