For the first time this year, Olive participated in her school's Christmas program. (I'm sure there was a program last year, but the 'little kids' weren't invited to crawl around in all of the madness.)
This year there were reindeer antlers and Christmas tree necklaces,
a book exchange, and
lots of singing.
We had a great time. I will admit to tearing-up once. Or twice.
Olive and I, well, we opted for non-professional and candy-laden.
She and I checked out the competition, while Kyle and his friends worked away diligently, but the Little Miss and I headed out before the offerings started to look like much of anything. (Drat nap time!)
Still. It was a gorgeous day, and we really enjoyed the time outside.
Blowing off steam after a tasty Thanksgiving dinner ...
Being crazy people (young and old) at an indoor inflatable play place.
Taking in lovely lights and tasty warm cider at the Arboretum.
We traveled to Kansas City to enjoy Thanksgiving with Kyle's side of the family. The weather was gorgeous--good enough to spend a ton of time outside. It was a weekend full of great Grandparent time, cousin time, and family time in general. We ran, and ran, and ran, BUT ... we loved it.
Today is the first day of December. The rush to the end of the year has begun.
As always, there is too much I want to do and not enough time to do it in. And, I would really love to slow down and enjoy where we are right now.
How do I balance these two pulls? I know that finding time in the wonderful madness that back-to-back holidays can become is all about choices. But, choices can be hard, and they don't seem to get easier as time goes on.
Still. I am trying to take baby steps to create and enjoy balance. Removing clutter from one room, or one surface in one room, of my home. Thinking twice about that object at Target calling my name. Accepting invitations and finding activities that will build relationships. Considering seriously our existing commitments. Declining, politely, some invitations. Learning to say no. Enjoying the process of finding great gifts for the people I love. Finding other ways to express love and gratitude when the right objects are hard to find - or out of our price range.
Enjoying where we are right now. If only for a few moments in our crazy, twirling life.
Houston is still in the midst of a LONG drought. Rain comes infrequently, but - so far - not in enough quantity to cover current needs or make up for past shortfalls.
I have heard estimates that the city will lose half of its trees. Kyle recently learned that oaks, particularly the live oak trees that abound around here, take three years to demonstrate signs of damage. We have two gorgeous live oaks in our front yard. They are lovely, gnarly, old trees. I hope they make it.
Early in November, the city started marking, and then cutting down, dead and irreparably damaged trees.
Our neighborhood park now looks sad and sparse.
On Monday, driving to Miss Olive's school, piles of downed trees and debris littered another local park. I wanted to snap a photo this weekend, an image so often being worth a thousand words, but today they were gone.
Stumps, big tire ruts, and deep dark mud remain. It makes me sad.
Purchasing appliances - and being sad about the dollar signs associated with that purchase but really happy about the result - is something that I am certain makes me a grown up.
We - mostly I - have stalked washers and dryers for about six months now. It hasn't been a constant pursuit, but we've kept our eyes open for good deals to make the purchase of quality, efficient machines more palatable.
Last week, I found a particular set at a particular store for what seemed like a good bargain. Kyle agreed. And we jumped on it!
After the sale, 5% off, free delivery and free haul-away, we got the set for just over the price we would have paid for one of the two machines.
We did reluctantly go for an additional warranty, which always feels like a rip off, but we took full advantage of a similar warranty with an appliance we purchased when in STL so ... it was hard to resist.
Even more exciting ... they are being delivered today! Super fun.
This evening I spent almost 30 minutes watching, and infrequently helping, Olive while she (1) carefully spread her crochet blanket from my Gramma Headley out on our playroom floor, (2) smoothed out any wrinkles or bumps, and (3) rolled it into a long tube.
Over and over and over again.
She is a great roller. I'm not sure that skill itself will be helpful in her life, but she does it carefully and slowly. And her dexterity at spreading out a piece of cloth (bigger and bigger over the past several weeks) and rolling it up is really increasing. Most of all she found a task that she enjoys and finds great satisfaction in completing. All of those things are very good.
Our local elementary school, Durham Elementary, is a nominee in the Power a Bright Future grant program sponsored by The Clorox Company. One school will be given $50,000, and three others will receive $25,000! Three of the four cash prizes go to the highest vote-getters. The last prize is a "judge's choice grant."
Now through December 9, 2011, you can vote for Durham Elementary, Houston, Texas. You can vote once each day.
I enjoy cooking, and have always loved to bake. I'm no pro, by any stretch, but it makes me happy, keeps my hands busy, and the results are edible (most of the time).
From time to time, although not anytime recently, I try my hand at making bread. The smell of yeast is one of my favorite aromas, and I really do enjoy the slowing down that (for me) waiting for all that rising requires.
Recently, Olive's school asked parents to bring in a few things. We rotate bringing flowers to keep the classroom cheery and to teach the kids something about tending plants. We also bring in apples, carrots, bread, etc. for food prep lessons. I am not entirely sure what toddler food prep entails, but I volunteered to bring in a loaf of bread tomorrow morning.
Sometime last week, I convinced myself that this weekend would be a good weekend to do some baking and that I should bring Olive's class come home baked bread.
Taking advantage of Olive's epic weekend naps, I selected a cinnamon raisin milk bread. So far, so good. It is rising in the kitchen for the second time today. (Technically, I am making cinnamon cranberry milk bread, because I had a bag of dried cranberries and only small boxes of raisins. Although I was in the mood to fiddle with bread making, I was not in the mood to fiddle with all those little raisin boxes!)
I really hope it turns out. I do have a back up Hawaiian bread loaf that I picked up at the grocery store, just in case my homemade cranberry cinnamon milk loaf doesn't cut it.
Olive has a toy cell phone. She's had it for about a year, and it is still one of her favorite toys.
On our way home from church today, Olive was playing with her cell phone in the back seat. Kyle and I were chatting as we drove along. Then we heard Olive say, "pancakes and syrup." Kyle asked Olive who she was talking to, "Kate."
We smiled. Olive kept talking, and Kyle and I started listening to her little voice in the back seat.
Olive checked in with Kate, Aunt Emily, Grampa, Papa Hoop, Uncle Blake, and Zoe ... and a few other people whose names we couldn't quite pick out. She said, "Hello," to everyone, and told stories about her pancakes and syrup (our breakfast this morning) and our drive home from church for lunch and naps.
We were in the front seats grinning away listening to her running through her mental rolodex and (without our prompt) picking a few people to 'touch base' with.
So. There are all sorts of issues with baby crib bumpers. In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics joined other pediatricians around the world in recommending that infants sleep in cribs without bumpers.
We went without bumpers until Olive was about one, added them for a bit and then took them back out this past summer. Yeah. We had trouble making up our minds, and deciphering 'expert' advice.
I've thought that colored/patterned crib sheets would be a good solution to the safe for kids but also colorful, cute and pretty.
Apparently, others have had that super clever thought. The folks at Skip Hop recently introduced a line of bumper-free bedding.
Olive is a great sleeper. Even so ... often ... she chats to herself for awhile as she heads to or from dreamland. I love listening in.
Sometimes it is incomprehensible babble. Probably most of the time for non-parental ears. She tells her animals what she did that day.
"Olive. park! walk self! stairs. slide. jump cracks!"
(Olive went to the park. She walked by herself - on her own two feet, not without her parents. She climbed the stairs and went down the slide. Then she jumped the cracks in the sidewalk on the way home. Yup. All. The. Way. Home.)
This morning she chatted to her animal friends about her coming day.
Not in the serious sense, just in the ... it was a day and the phone kept ringing just as I was getting into a groove and I responded to the questions and found my way back to that groovy place again and again and again and at the end of the day I had accomplished a lot but not the one thing I had hoped to accomplish and my brain is tired tired tired ... sense.
I love my little one. Seriously, more than I ever imagined I could. And more than that every day. While Kyle and I both knew we loved her before she was born, she has shown us that we can love like we never imagined we could.
Even so, being a parent is hard. Which doesn't mean that I love her any less. It does mean that when Olive is in a MOOD at Target, I grit my teeth and sometimes wish that I was by myself. Slowly walking. Aisle after aisle. Dreamily. Carefully considering my purchase. Without my toddler/banshee in tow.
(By the by, on the trip I have in mind, she threw a fit because I refused to change her diaper in the middle of aisle 29, on the cool, dirty floor. I picked her up and carried her--under. my. arm. kicking. and. screaming. all. the. way.--to the bathroom for a change.)
We all know it is hard. Rewarding and wonderful, but hard. But. We rarely say it. We smile, and put on faces that make other people think we have it all together.
Not long ago, Olive and I met a few friends at our local park. One of our friends didn't stay long. She arrived, unloaded her girls, managed one while the other got into a jam, watched tears flow all around, packed up and returned home. The look on her face as she pushed her girls away in their stroller killed me. I know she made the choice that was best for her family. But. I know she was hurting, and we all missed them. She is an awesome mom.
We all want our families to work. Our children to behave well, to be clean, and to obey. To look as together as everyone else appears to be.
But, the truth is this: no one has it all together. No one. No matter how 'together' they may seem, chances are high that they just finished mopping up their own explosion of crazy. At the park. In the middle of Target. Or. In their own back yard.
Yesterday, I stepped away from my desk around lunchtime.
I decided to visit a local grocery store (1) to pick up some muffins for Saturday breakfast and (2) to find a quick bite for lunch.
Near my office, there is a giant HEB. The selection is great, they have tons of prepared food, and they have a great bakery.
I figured I would grab a salad or a cup of soup, but ...
They were sampling pot stickers. I enjoyed the sample, but was disappointed to find the only pot stickers for sale - cooked, but cold - in a case near the vendor.
However, I asked the vendor if she had any hot pot stickers for sale. She got me some fresh from the steamer, and, two minutes later, I was headed to the cashier with warm pot stickers (and yummy muffins from the bakery).
I followed a 'pin' to this awesome jeweled pumpkin. (Ah, Pinterest.) Inspired, I found a few foam pumpkins on sale, convinced Kyle to wield some matte black spray paint, and hot-glued some rhinestones.
I LOVE the results. I think they look especially great as a centerpiece on a white table cloth.
Last Saturday we got gussied up and headed to the annual fall festival that our neighborhood sponsors. Olive jumped (literally) at the opportunity to wear her Minnie Mouse costume again. She enjoyed eating pizza and cookies, and running around the park with her friends. She even gave the sack race a try! (Kyle lent a hand, but our girl loves to jump.)
The weather was beautiful, and it was great to hang out with so many fun people from the neighborhood.
Earlier this month, one of the blogs I follow sponsored a giveaway. The prize was a cute, ceramic, egg 'carton' from Anthropologie. I entered because well it was worth a shot and the prize was appealing, and, then, I promptly forgot about it. I just don't win these things.
But this time I did! So fun! The ceramic pretty arrived late last month, but it took me a bit to get some snaps.
Olive's school puts on a fall festival each year. Last year we skipped the festival, but this year we embraced the crazy.
Olive donned her Halloween costume and ran around with her friends while we gazed on. There were hot dogs, games, 'train' rides, and other activities that don't come immediately to mind. We all had a great time.
Olive showing off her Minnie Mouse costume.
Olive showing off her climbing skilz. (I was impressed! Mind you, she walked down the stairs each time to a small slide - not the big slide in the right of the photo - but promptly ran back to scale the climbing wall. Bravo!)
In high school, I played in the band. Not, a band, the band. Polyester, military-inspired uniforms and all.
On the drive between Olive's school and our home, we pass a public high school. Most days, as I drive the Little Miss home, we see the band outside practicing, marching along, but, recently, as we drove by, the band was dressed for that evening's game. The military-inspired uniforms were out in full force, and the fancy flag corps outfits sparkled. My brain went flying back to my freshman year in high school, and a big grin spread across my face.
So. I haven't been in this space much lately. I'm not sure why, but the words haven't really been popping. I'll keep posting a few photos/videos/details of our lives, and maybe the words will come back.
If they don't, that is ok too. Sometimes a photo is worth a thousand words. (I think that may depend on the quality of the photo/photographer, but still - more words than you might think.)
One of our
neighborhood friends took her daughter, Ava, to visit Olive’s class on Monday morning. (Ava is a few months younger than Olive and is 'transitioning' into
Olive's class.) Ava’s mom sent
us an email reporting that: “In the 40 minutes we were there, I saw Olive stand
up and count to 10 (actually 11) and sing her ABCs in front of the group!”
It isn't like we are proud parents, or anything ...
OK. These are probably longer than anyone really wants to watch, but - for posterity - we took some video of Olive at her last swimming class of the season. It was super exciting to see her skills develop. She is definitely not a 'swimmer', but she is closer than she was when she started class ... AND she definitely learned some safety skills that make me feel better about being in or near a pool with her.
Elbow, elbow, tummy, knee.
The turtle song: "there was a tiny turtle, his name was tiny Tim, we put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim, he drank up all the water, he ate up all the SOAP, and now the tiny turtle has bubbles in his throat." (or, ya know, something close to that)
I am aware that we are well on our way to October, but this summer was hot. And there was no rain to bring periodic relief. (We are more than 26 inches behind in rain.) The trees look like fall, and we don't get 'fall colors' around here without a nasty, nasty drought. Somehow, they're not pretty.
The evenings are becoming quite comfortable, and the days are warm, but not so bad.
Recently, we have enjoyed evening walks around our neighborhood - sometimes walking to the snowcone stand at the edge of our neighborhood. We love it, and Olive loves it ... and it gets us and Zoe out. So despite rumors of fall, we are enjoying some great outdoor time.
I've delayed (and delayed and delayed) posting this photo, because, in person, the results aren't quite what we hoped for. But, looking at this photo now, it doesn't look so bad. And, it is a lot more 'us' than it was when we moved in.
Still, I will sum up.
First, paint helps, but it doesn't work miracles. The light pink tone we selected reads almost white and just doesn't help warm the room up. As light and almost white as it is, it is a little cooler tone than we prefer.
Second, the pop of color we added to our mirrors is very pop-py. We aren't totally sold on it. So, we learned that mirrors don't work miracles either. (Although, it helps if you hang the mirrors properly. We spent some time wondering if the newly painted mirrors were in fact the same size before we pulled out our handy-dandy measuring device to confirm that we didn't hang them quite right.)
Third, we really aren't fans of the pink tile. A few tweaks to the room help, but the real change won't come until we have saved our pennies and agreed to demolish the tile.
After all that, we are considering a warmer, yellow paint color. Maybe yellow paint will be just the miracle we need.
We are having a great time with the Little Miss lately. She totally cracks us up. We may not be the most impartial judges, but we'll share a couple of stories anyway!
Olive recently developed a habit of waking up earlier than normal (for her) by about one+ hour. For the most part, she discovers that her binky fell out of her mouth (and then out of her crib in the night) and expresses displeasure.
(This all started about when we took her bumper out of the crib in preparation for the transition to toddler bed. Now the binky can freely fall through the crib rails without the bumper reigning it in. Boo.)
Not sure what to do, but knowing that she (and we) could use the extra sleep, we decided to bring her the binky, remind her that it is still sleep time, and then leave.
On the morning of this procedure's maiden voyage, Olive woke up early. I went in, gave her the missing binky, and told her it was still sleep time. She quieted, and I left.
Ten minutes later. Olive started crying. I went in, gave her another binky, reminded her that it was still sleep time, and left the room.
Ten minutes later. (Fun times, no?) Olive started crying. I went in, but she had one binky in her mouth and another in her hand. I reminded her that it was still sleep time, and asked her what she was doing and was she ok.
Without any hint of tears or sadness in her voice, Olive responded,
"I crying Mameee. I crying."
I managed to contain my laughter until I was outside of the room.
[Post Edit - Because I re-read this and realized that perhaps the funny wasn't appropriately communicated. My bad. Still, I'll add some explanation. - First, Olive told me she was crying in the same tone she might have used to say, "I am eating pizza, Mommy." So, I laughed not because she was upset, but because she was clearly not upset. Second, I did suggest to Olive that perhaps, rather than crying, she could sing some songs for the duration of sleep time, if she did not want to rest. She said, "OK," and was then silent for the duration of her sleep time.]
Olive is learning to dress herself. Shirts are hard, but she is (kind of) getting the hang of pants, skirts and shorts.
Generally, she doesn't stop pulling them up when she reaches what would be for most a comfortable waist or hip level. I frequently watch her pull the waist band clean up to her armpits. I wince, but I enjoy her pride in having done it herself. High fives and big grins are exchanged.
One evening recently, Olive decided to 'sit potty' and read a few books. This is not an uncommon activity for us. (We're still letting the potty be a comfortable place, and are not putting any pressure on her or us to move things along quite yet.)
Tonight, however, Olive sat for a few moments. Then, she stood and pulled her pants up from around her ankles to her favorite high-waisted stopping point. (I tried to get her to take the pants off when she sat, but, when she responded with wails of "Maaa Paaaants!", I decided it wasn't a battle worth fighting.)
Then she declared, "I sit potty," pulled the pants back down and sat on the potty.
For about 10 seconds.
Then, she stood up and repeated the whole process.
Again. And again. And again. And again.
I think she took her pants off and on about 30 times. (It felt like 300, and, near the end, I was totally surpressing my giggles.)
She is becoming more and more proficient at getting the pants over her little bum. I suppose practice does make perfect. (I sure hope so, because those wedgies she gives herself cannot be comfortable.)
Last weekend, we enjoyed a great birthday party in a park for our friend Annette's second birthday.
The weather was perfect, and the park was wonderful. All of the equipment was specifically designed for toddlers. Olive loved it, and we loved not having to steer her away from "that one big slide" that every park seems to have.
Olive's birthday was almost two months ago, and I purchased her birthday present at least two months before her birthday. But, we didn't give it to her until last week.
I found a cute doll house/book case on Craigslist. It was much less than the cute one Pottery Barn sold at the time. Unfortunately, it was painted a variety of ice-cream-sherbet-flavor colors. Still, I purchased it and planned to paint over the sherbet-y goodness.
The project itself did not take that much time. I just took a long time to get around to it. (Not that I have any really good excuses.)
I opted for a clean, simple color-scheme. White house, bright blue roof and trim. Santorini in a peaked-roof dollhouse, if you will. :)
Olive totally loves it.
It is fun to see her understand the purposes of each furniture piece. She knows her 'lady' sleeps in the bed (front left of the photo), and sometimes Olive twists herself onto the floor and puts her head on the bed, declaring, "Sleepy."
It doesn't quite fit in its current location, but we are contemplating a furniture fruit-basket-turnover. Maybe it will fit better in the near-ish future.
The wallpaper is finally down. Kyle even filled all of the scars I put in the sheetrock. Even our painting is nearly complete. (Only two small patches are needing re-sanding and re-painting. The walls and ceiling? Done. The cabinets? We opted out of painting cabinetry this time.)
Ah, what color did we choose? The name is something like Pink Sea Salt. Which really means white with a whisper of pink. A very whispery whisper. (I mean, not for the ceiling, that is pure white ... but in the right light you can't really tell the difference.)
We replaced our standard, rectangular, vintage mirror with two almost square framed ones ... the frames need painting (because we aren't grooving on the gold tone they currently boast), but they are hung. The window covering and shower curtain are still hanging around in the guest room ... until the painting is 100% complete. They will make their way back to the bathroom soon.
We DIY at a snail's pace to be sure. But the progress feels (and looks) good.
We participated in our usual activities: work, school, sleep, eat, walk, color, read.
But we also enjoyed some play time over the holiday weekend.
We went to my cousin David's twin daughters' third birthday party (whew! that was a mouthful!) at the Children's Museum of Houston. It really was wonderful. All of the kids had a great time, and the parents seemed to enjoy themselves too!
We enjoyed an early Labor Day dinner at the Lake with family. There were twenty-three of us altogether. It was an extravaganza to be sure, but it was a great time. Olive spent most of the afternoon following the other six kids around. We already knew that she is in love with Hayden and Elise (my cousin David's twin daughters), but she also loved my cousin Dan's four kids (Lydia, Micah, Noah and Josiah). Olive was the youngest of the bunch, but she kept up!
We also took Olive in the pool to test out some of her new swimming skills (and decide whether to enroll her in another group of lessons). We swam both at the Lake on Sunday and at a church pool in Houston on Monday. (The First Methodist Houston Noah's Ark & Pool is super cute. It isn't exactly next door to us, but it was worth the drive - and the price of admission.) Olive enjoyed the water fun and is definitely developing some water safety skills. Next set of lessons? Yes. Please!
The rest of our weekend and holiday we filled with chores (boo!) and simple relaxation (woo hoo!).
(And, yes, one day soon I will get my camera back out and snap a few photos. I feel a little light on images lately.)
I know. It isn't quite September, and I'm already nosing through catalogs and websites in search of a good Halloween costume for Olive.
I do not want something over the top. I would love something that she understands, and that possibly she could play dress-up with. And, I really want to avoid princess costumes - at least this year.
Carter's has a cute cat costume (that I can't seem to catch an image of). And Hanna Andersson has a cute Zebra dress (similar image issue, also Olive was a Zebra last year).
Kyle isn't a fan of Halloween. But, I might convince him to be Will Schuster, if I find Olive a cute red track suit. Not that that Sue Sylvester would pass the "something she understands" part of the test. Yup. We're Gleeks. We're not proud of it, but we own it. (And dressing up as Emma Pilsbury actually sounds like fun to me too ... or will I just be that prim lady handing out candy?)
Ahh. The difficult questions that plague our lives ;)
I mean ... we didn't go out to dinner, or lunch, or grab coffees or bagels. We hunkered down (and not in the natural disaster sense of the phrase). After quite a few weekends out of town and lots of very (wonderfully) busy weekend this summer, we decided to take it easy. Very easy.
We did a few chores and went to church on Sunday. We hung out at home and took a couple of walks around the neighborhood. Other than that. Nothing.
It might sound supremely boring. But. It was absolutely wonderful.
Olive's hair is getting longer, but it is also getting pretty wild and crazy.
I love, LOVE her little curls. And they are super cute when she wakes up and her hair is messy. But, Kyle recently determined that she has an almost mullet. I refuse to agree, and I will NOT endorse the comment by posting a photo.
Suffice it to say, I am now seriously considering getting our girl her first non-mommy haircut.
(August is not a good hair month in Houston. I've been dreaming about wash and wear, pixie cuts all month.)
On the day that Olive joined the 2-year old class at her school, the teacher gave us a potty training video and asked us if we were potty training the little miss.
Whew. I felt pressured to make a change we didn't feel ready for, but also excited about the prospect of washing fewer (or no!) diapers.
We resigned to start the conversation with Olive, but to put no pressure on her to move away from diapers. We bought a little potty, and a few books ... that was it. Olive enjoys using her potty as a her-sized chair, but we hadn't really gotten to the part about using the potty. (In particular, she likes reading her potty book on her potty. "Mameee ... Ma potty boooook. Maaaaa potty book." We did not name it; she did.)
Earlier this week, Olive's teacher told me that she asked Olive to sit on the potty after swim class - while the teacher was preparing Olive's diaper and putting up Olive's wet swimming suit. Olive obeyed, and then she USED the potty.
When we found out, Kyle and I were both a little shocked.
Then, later that evening, while enjoying some time at home on her little throne, she USED the potty again. I nearly cried.
Now, Olive is NOT potty trained, and we aren't going to spend an intense weekend getting her out of diapers. But. This is a development that points to changes in our future. The part of me that is super tired of washing diapers is super happy. The part of me that already misses my baby being a baby is shedding a few tears.
Our neighborhood library is new. Well, we are new to the neighborhood, and I understand that there has been a library in this spot before. But. When we moved in, the library was closed and under construction.
The new building is finally finished, and it is beautiful! They hung the "NOW OPEN" sign earlier this summer, and Olive and I strolled over one Saturday morning. No. Such. Luck. The library was closed on Saturdays.
(Yes, I could have Googled first, but it was a nice - though sweaty - walk.)
I know many people enjoy weekday library jaunts, but we are a two-working-parent family. Weekday library time doesn't work for us.
HOWEVER. I just learned that the library will now be closed on Mondays but open on Saturdays! Now we CAN explore the library, and check out books instead of shelling out clams for them. I appreciate this is, for many, a dry, mundane change of events.
For the most part, she pretends to be different animals. Cats, horses and lions are current faves.
The other morning, I went in to her room and was greeted by, "Roar. Lion. Meow. Cat."
Her horse act includes the requisite sound effects, and is accompanied by a 'gallop' that is super cute.
Post Edit -
8/23/2011 This morning Olive woke up in a snake-y mood. As I changed her diaper, she repeated, "Sssss. Snake. Mamee. Sssss. Snake. Sssss." Thankfully for my diaper changing task, there was no associated wriggling.
Back to the balloon wreath I made. It seems perfect for birthday parties, but it is also very happy and could work any time. I have two of them up now, and there are no birthday parties planned at our house for quite some time.
Start with a raffia wreath from a craft store. Buy the right size for your door. I bought one size larger than I probably should have (and I bought two of them, front and back door, naturally).
Buy balloons. Lots of balloons. I've seen cute versions of this wreath with color themes (orange and black, red and green, etc.), but I went with a multi-colored pack of large (12" round) balloons. I got them at Hobby Lobby, but I have now seen similar balloons at dollar-type stores. I think each wreath used approximately 10 large bags of balloons. Seriously. (You could probably do it with fewer, but I liked the tight spacing.)
I used straight pins (a lot of them) to attach the balloons. Some online tutorials advise using these u-shaped floral pins. Great idea. They were not to be found at my local craft suppliers. (Mind you, on my next trip to Hobby Lobby, they will magically appear.) Regardless, straight pins ... and a thimble to save my fingers ... worked well.
Pin the balloons any way you like to cover the wreath. Ideally, you will not see the raffia amidst the balloons. I folded the balloon so that the spout was in the center of the bulb ... It was more or less circular ... and I put a pin in the center of the circle. And then added another and another and another ...
My first pitfall? I tried to mix balloon manufacturers midway through the process. Who knew 12" balloons could be so different? It did not look right, and I un-pinned a lot of balloons. Determine your mix at the beginning and keep it up. Don't change mid-stream. I didn't like the results. Hint - buy your balloons from a store that will keep them in stock just in case you don't buy enough.
Find a way to hang your wreath. I made two wreaths. The first went smoothly, and I coordinated curling ribbon with the balloons. I loved the idea, but I really didn't like the curling ribbon in practice. It looked really ratty, really quickly.
On the second wreath, I used standard ribbon to create a hanger, and I much prefer the result. (So much that I cut off all of the curling ribbon and changed the first wreath to match the second. Fun times.)