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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bryant's 2nd Birthday Party - Two, Two!

A couple of weekends ago, my family celebrated my little nephew Bryant's second birthday with a fun-filled day of cake, presents, and a jumpy-jump!

The happy birthday boy!
The theme his mom picked out for him involved birthday trains with the motto, "Two, two!"  since he totally loves all things trains.  The decor was definitely adorable:

We started off the festivities by letting the kids play on the jumpy jump and huge inflatable slide (seriously, the slide was taller than the house!)

Zooming down the slide!
Having fun in the bounce house
After a little while of goofing around (and coincidentally allowing enough time for the rest of the guests to arrive) Bryant got to play around with a couple of his big presents -- a Power Wheels Gator vehicle and a basketball goal!

Slam dunk!
Our little driver!  He understood how to press the pedal but steering was another story!

After watching Bryant play with his new toys (and watching some of the adults play on the slide!) we went back inside to watch him blow out his birthday cake candles and get a little piece of the adorable confection.

Love his face in this one.  He is dying to get to that cake!
A little while later, Bryant and his dad tackled the pile of presents and investigated what was in each box and envelope.

I'm pretty sure he was getting exhausted around this time, so my SIL and her mom kept him inside the house while the rest of the family ran outside to play dodgeball on the slide, haha.  Well, I didn't play for fear of breaking my beloved camera, but I laughed every time one of the boys got hit or shocked!

I didn't get a picture of it at the party for some reason, but my and Mr. L's present to Bryant this year was a scrapbook chronicling this past year of his life.  For his first birthday, I also made a scrapbook for him, and I hope that I'll be able to continue on with this tradition as the years pass.  I might not have it in me to do it for every niece or nephew I'm blessed with, but I will be trying my best to do it at least for Bryant on every birthday.

I ended up snapping some pictures so I can remember for next year the types of layouts and paper I used, so I'll leave you guys with a handful of pages from the first album and this year's (and again, I'm sorry for the lighting!):

Both this year's and last year's scrapbooks
Album one's first page

First birthday!
Second album

Second birthday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 Photo Book Review

As you may remember, I chose to order a honeymoon photo book through the website a couple of weeks ago.  We finally got it in, and it's time to review it!
Yay, it's here!


The book is an 8 1/2 x 11 Hardcover book with a dust jacket, and I also upgraded from regular paper to Premium Paper, which is supposedly "35% heavier, superb opacity: matte or lustre finish".

First flap of the dust jacket, personalized with text and pictures -- apologies for the terrible lighting!
The last flap of the dust jacket, again personalized

Overall, the book was very easy to create using Blurb's BookSmart software.  I was able to pick from a variety of templates (as well as create my own, which I did a few times) and place my pictures where I wanted them to go with ease.  I believe it took me just a couple of hours to complete the first book, cover to cover, and that includes the time it took to learn how to use the software.

Example of two templates I created using BookSmart
More interior pages

I do wonder if I should have actually gone with the largest (12x12) size instead of the 8 1/2 x 11 size because my pictures are pretty small on the pages, but I knew they would come out small because I intentionally positioned them so none of my pictures would be cut off during printing.  I also am not too incredibly happy with the design of the dust jacket cover, but I felt I needed to go with a smaller picture design since all of our honeymoon pictures were taken on a regular point-and-shoot camera, meaning they aren't the best quality and probably wouldn't have looked great on a giant wrap-around picture cover.  That issue is entirely my own, however, and obviously not the fault of Blurb in any way.

Pictures are rather on the small side, but I crammed a lot on the pages and wanted to make sure none of the photos were cut off during printing.


Overall, I'm pretty happy with the product I received for the price I paid ($33.95, with free shipping!).  The paper weight is good, and doesn't feel like it would easily rip as someone flips through the pages.  There were some things I didn't like, but  it's not like it's a truly professional, hundreds-of-dollars kind of photo book.  Basically, it is a wonderful coffee table book and conversation piece.  Plus, once I get the second book in (I should be done making it soon), they'll take up less room on a shelf than a traditional photo album -- a great plus considering how many photo albums we're already racking up from vacations and wedding activities!

Back cover with another picture and more text

7/10, would buy from again, and would recommend to a friend.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bryant!

Today is my little cutie of a nephew's birthday -- he is now two years old!  It's amazing how fast time flies when you have such a handsome, sweet little boy growing up around you.  It's so strange yet cool to have been able to see him grow from a newborn into a walking, talking, exploring little person.  I'm so thankful to have been relatively close to him after getting married and moving away!

This is my and Mr. L's last birthday we'll be able to spend with Bryant for a few years, so we are definitely going to make some wonderful memories tomorrow at his birthday bash!

We love you, Bubs!  Happy 2nd Birthday!!