Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Too cute!

I love this kid! Seriously, how CUTE is he??!!??


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hello, Mr. Crab

Connor's preschool class had a "Family Beach Day" last week, and it happened to be a very low tide, so the kids really got to wander around in the muck looking for shells and sea creatures, etc. Connor discovered a big crab flopped out on the ground, so he nudged at it with his foot a bit to see if it would move, and when it didn't, he assumed it was dead, and picked it up to come show his friends. As he was showing it off, suddenly it's mouth started slowly opening and closely (it's body continued to just hang limply), and preschoolers leaped backwards, screamed, and all hollered for Connor to put it down. He kept insisting it was dead and wanted to keep it; I kept insisting it's mouth WAS moving and we'd better get it back in some water ASAP in case there was any chance of saving it (and in case it got a sudden second wind and tried to pinch Connor!).

At the time I took the picture, he was getting worried that maybe it WAS alive, but still not convinced enough to want to put it down


Always an adventure at the beach!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I walked into the room the other afternoon, and found a gorgeous rainbow spread across the ceiling in my diningroom, with "fingers" that stretches all the way into the playroom! I had a sheet of holographic paper (which I bought make little disco ball on some invites I'm helping a friend make for her daughter's Hollywood themed birthday party) sitting on the dining table, and the sun was shining through the window and hitting the paper, forming rainbows all over the ceiling. I wish I could have shown it better in pictures; it was amazing! (this picture is just a small portion of what was on the ceiling!)

I joked with Dan that to really jazz up our outdated, glittered "popcorn" ceilings, we should tie-dye/rainbow effect them as well. He didn't think it was funny. (maybe I wasn't even joking... LOL!!!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Jared really amazes me with what he can create out of Legos. He brought me this ship a few days ago, and of course, had elaborate verbal explanations for all the parts, etc.

Over the next few days, he added to it and changed things around

It's even bigger now than the above picture, but he doesn't want me to take a picture just yet because it's "not finished."

He's a Lego genius, I tell ya! I should videotape his verbal explanations for all the parts sometimes. The way his mind works blows me away!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Play-Doh face

I have no explanation for this picture, as I only just now found it on my camera (and I wasn't the one to put it there!) I left the house last Tuesday to pick up Em and J from their piano lesson, and Dan and Connor were playing with the home-made Play-Doh we'd made.


I suspect Dan is responsible for the Play-Doh face, and I assume it's supposed to be Connor? LOL!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Very pleased little girl

Emily had hinted that she'd like a Nintendo DS for her birthday, but after pricing both the DS and the individual games, I started thinking an iPod Touch would be a better gift. The iPod Touch would be a music player, a camera, a video camera, a game unit, and will allow future use of the Internet for email and whatnot (I have her blocked out of the Internet portion for now, since she's only 9!!). For the same price as the DS and only one game, she gets TONS of stuff with the iPod Touch! I'd already purchased a bunch of game apps for my iPhone, so she was set up with a bunch of games without costing me anything extra. I probably wouldn't have thought of it as a gift, but her friends Katie and Emily recently got one, as well as her cousin, Ali, and I've heard nothing but rave reviews...

Emily was more than a little excited:



Before we gave it to her, we loaded it with all her music and all the appropriate game apps so she could play around with it immediately:

Unfortunately, now her brothers think THEY should get one for their upcoming birthdays as well...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mini bike

Someone named Connor is finally tall enough to reach the foot pegs on the mini bike, and is better able to control it, so can FINALLY take a spin around the yard by himself! His legs aren't quite long enough to do a real great job of catching himself if he tips, so Dan still ran along next to him until he got his groove, then stood in the middle of the yard while Connor rode circles around him.

For the past almost two years (this summer will be the full two years), Connor has been DYING to ride the mini bike. He's the only one of the kids that isn't intimidated by it, but because he was so young/small when we got it, he's the only one that hasn't had a real chance to attempt riding it. I'm not sure there's much in life that Connor IS intimidated by, but the mini bike definately isn't on that list!

Of course, because he's so fearless, he terrified me and made me laugh all at the same time while I was watching he and Dan. After a few slow turns around the yard, Connor suddenly gunned the thing and sped off, laughing hysterically and shouting, "Bet you can't catch me!!!!!!!!" Dan took off at a full sprint after him while my brain alternated between panic and hysterical laughter. I'll tell you now, this child will NOT be owning a muscle car or a motorcycle while he lives under my roof because he's a fearless little adrenaline junky and I don't think I could handle the stress...



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Star Wars Exhibit

We took the kids to the science center on Mother's Day for the last day of the Star Wars exhibit. Because we're members, the entrance to the exhibit was only $4/each (entrance to the rest of the science center would have been free, but we didn't have time do the rest this visit). Part of our membership also includes 15 free Imax tickets (excludes special engagements, of course, but still leaves a fairly wide variety of showings throughout the year), so we used five of our free tickets to see the 3D showing of "Growing Up Wild". For $20 (plus gas/time), we had a FANTASTIC day!

The kids were very excited to see all the displays, especially self-proclaimed "Star Wars Freak" Jared, but I will admit to being a little disappointed in the whole set-up. When we saw the Harry Potter exhibit, the scenes were really intricately set up (Hagrid's wardrobe was set up in a mock-up of his house, the centaurs were displayed in a forest setting, as were the giant spiders... Many of the character costumes were displayed in settings similar to a scene in the movies, etc. For the Star Wars exhibit, there were just glass display cases scattered throughout; no scenery or anything. But it was still neat to see all the costumes, and Jared was really enjoying reading the information cards with each display; Connor enjoyed listening to the "listening devices" provided at each display, and Emily and Dan and I enjoyed watching video clips at each display, which discussed why they did some of the things in the movie the way they did them, or how they had several scaled down versions of the different ships depending on what the scene called for, etc. So it was still a very neat exhibit. Just not very VISUALLY exciting as a whole. If that makes sense.

Jared kept posing as if he were battling with a light saber... LOL





Connor got a real kick out of how little Yoda was!

Connor wanted a picture of his head next to the Wookie's heads, so Dan put him up on his shoulders


(Jared posing again...)

It took about 1.5 hours to get through the exhibit, and we had just enough time to walk over to the food court for lunch, before heading back to stand in line for the Imax movie. I would say it's the best quality 3D movie I've seen, and I'm sure it was due to the quality of the screen and glasses, rather the actual filming of the movie. But either way, it was awesome! Even Dan commented how cool it was. Everything was really clear, and CLOSE. You really felt like you could just reach out and touch the baby animals!! We all enjoyed the movie itself, without even taking the 3D quality into consideration. Connor, who LOVES everything to do with animals, especially monkeys (I know Orangutans are technically apes, but he's only 4 and I don't argue with him at this point... LOL), was beside himself with excitement seeing a 45 minute movie about baby orangutans and baby elephants. It was right up his alley!! It was neat to see how they rescue and rehabilitate the animals to be released back into the wild once they're old enough. Connor talked about the movie for DAYS after seeing it!!

Anyway, it was a really great day, and I enjoyed the time with my family very much! Gotta love a $20 full day outing for a family of 5!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Part of the Star Wars exhibit at the science center included an opportunity to test out a hover craft. The line was LONG when we first arrived, but at some point, we looked over, and there were only about five people in line, so we rushed over. I have no idea HOW the line was so long when you only got a whopping 30 second ride (I know, I counted!) before they kicked you off. LOL Just as the thing finally got up a bit of momentum, it shut down. The kids still really enjoyed the experience, and I get why they needed to limit the ride to keep crowds/lines moving, but it still would have been nice to have had longer turns!!




I posted in birth order out of habit, but Emily truly went last (had to make sure both her brothers survived the experience before risking her own turn... LOL)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Emily Grace

Dear Emily,

9 years ago today, you turned me into a mother ON Mother's Day, and I couldn't have asked for a more amazing gift. It's hard to believe that 9 years have passed so quickly. One minute, you were my tiny baby (if you can call 9lbs 3oz tiny!), and now you're this amazing young lady.

Since last year, you have taken up piano lessons, and you continue to amaze me with how quickly you've picked up the process of playing. When you first started back in September, there were countless tears of frustration, and I was really regretting that we'd signed you up. Then, somewhere along the way, a lightbulb went off, and everything fell into place! Your teacher has repeatedly told me she's amazed at how quickly you've picked it up, and how you have the steadiest pace of any kid your age. You can read notes quite quickly, and really seem to have a feel for the music. I will never get tired of seeing how content you look sitting at the piano, creating music. You used to spend half your baby days crawling/toddling your way over to the piano to bang away at the keys; I should have known you were destined to be a piano player!

You're still doing ballet and tap, and I LOVE how much you LOVE to dance! I think the worst punishment I could ever come up with for you would be to make you miss a dance class. *grin* Some people are adults before they find that THING in life they truly have a passion for, and you were lucky enough to discover BY age three that dancing was for you. I look forward to seeing where it takes you in life!

You love spending time with your family and friends. You don't think you're too big to hold my hand in the parking lot. You don't worry about hugging or kissing me in front of your friends. You still sleep with your stuffed lamb, Lambie at night (though she no longer accompanies you on sleepovers!). You're favorite part of the day is snuggling in your bed with your daddy, talking about your day. Your brothers drive you nuts a lot of the time, but you love them fiercely. You love to help bake. You hate to do chores. You take a THOUSAND YEARS to do homework. You're eager to please (friends and family alike).

You LOVE LOVE LOVE your dog, Charlie. The first thing you do when you get home is gather Charlie in your arms for a snuggle, and if you were allowed to take him EVERYWHERE with you, you would. Charlie better live a LONG LONG LONG life, because I don't know what you would do without him. I've never seen a kid love a pet as much as you love Charlie!

I lovingly call you my little scatterbrain, because given a list of 2-3 things to do, you manage to do one, and then space out and forget the rest. We've tried punishments, bribes, hearing tests, etc. and I'm finally resigned to the fact that you are who you are and I can only give you one direction at a time (and then need to follow through that you completed the task). You never purposely put off a task, or refuse to do it (unless it's emptying the litter box!), you are just so aware of EVERYTHING around you, it's easy to notice something else along the way and shift focus. Even when you were a TINY baby, we'd comment on how carefully you looked at EVERYTHING, and how even as you got older, you always sat back and took it all in, instead of jumping in and exploring your world. You might drive me nuts that you get so distracted, but I have to appreciate how you really do notice everything around you, instead of rushing through life with everything on the sidelines being a blur. I could take a few lessons from you, I'm sure!

I'm so proud of the sweet, caring young lady you are, and I look forward to seeing what life holds for you! It breaks my heart just a little that you are halfway to 18 years old already, and I hope the next 9 years don't fly by as quickly as the first 9 have. You will always be my sweet baby girl, no matter how old you get!

You are sugar and spice and everything nice, with a side of hot sauce thrown in for good measure. You laugh big, you love big; you basically wear your heart on your sleeve, and work to make those around feel happy and loved.

Happy 9th birthday, my sweet baby girl! I wish you a year full of happiness, humor, adventure, good health, peace, and FUN!

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Inquisitive Student of the Month

Jared earned the Inquistive Student of the Month award for his class last week! Each month, there is a theme at the kids' school, and at the end of the month, one student from each class wins the award for that theme.

Jared's teacher said this about him:

"Jared is a student eager to learn. He shows GREAT enthusiasm for new concepts being taught. He loves to share background knowledge of any particular subject, adding interesting facts. He makes teaching and learning fun. I appreciate his inquisitive mind, asking questions to gain more information."

I had to LAUGH when she said he loves to share background knowledge... LOL! Jared is a real sharp cookie, and truly does almost ALWAYS have some little tip or fact to add. At the beginning of the year, his teacher had commented that while it's almost always relevant and interesting information, she really needs him to raise his hand before sharing, and to allow other kids to have a turn as well. Fast forward to the end of the year, and he's getting an award for volunteering extra info and requesting further details. *grin*

Jared, you are an old soul in a young body, with a sharp little mind. You continue to amaze me with the amount of information your retain and USE in life (Especially if it's Star Wars related!). School never came as easily for me as it does for you, and I hope you always have a passion for learning everything there is to know, and always find joy in sharing your knowledge, and gaining new information and skills. You have amazed me your entire life, and I will never tire of cheering on your accomplishments!

Way to ask those questions, and way to LEARN LEARN LEARN! I'm soooooo proud of you, buddy!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spa Party

Emily had her spa themed birthday party over the weekend. I think I earned some MAJOR mommy points on this one!!

As soon as guests started arriving, the girls jumped right into some good ol' karaoke fun (belting it out to Taylor Swift, of course!):

After everyone arrived (five girls, including Emily Grace), I got them started decorating their own giant cupcake. HOLY HECK, did those girls go crazy with the sprinkles!

Emily Grace was very dainty and precise with where her sprinkles went, and my niece, Ali, stayed very minimal with HER sprinkles, but the other three went nuts.


LOL We were only about 30 minutes into the party and already my house was LOUD with giggles and major chatter. Did I mention it was LOUD??

Once the giant cupcakes were decorated, we loaded into the van and drove to my friend Nikki's house, who runs a spa out of her home. She gave the girls "kid" facials, which included an oatmeal/yogurt/honey mask (which the girls each got to mix up themselves before it was applied)

Nikki had her TV turned to a radio channel geared to tweens/teens, so they were having fun listening to music and singing while they waited. ALSO, I'd purchased white flip flops from Old Navy, and 9 different colors of ribbon (cut into four-ish inch strips), so the girls could knot the ribbon onto the flip flop straps as an additional way to kill time while they waited their turn for a facial

How cute are these??? Emily wore them out and about over the weekend and got TONS of compliments!

After each girl got a facial, one of Nikki's good friends applied some make-up

Time for a group shot or two!


After the facials were over and make-up was applied (and flip flops decorated!), we headed home for a pizza dinner, then launched into movie #1 (Elle, A Modern Day Fairytail--or something along those lines... The girls loved it; I thought it was TERRIBLE, and I'm usually pretty up for a cheesy girly movie!! LOL) while they soaked their feet, did a scrub, and then a moisturize treatment.

Leave it to lame me to have forgotten to take any pictures of the foot soak portion!!!

Once their feet were pampered, they sat down to paint their toenails with a whole kit (which was also their goody bag... Filled with a new bottle of polish, a small bottle of polish remover, a new emery board, tiny nail clippers, and toe separaters). Ali didn't want to paint her nails at this point, which is why she isn't pictured.

After movie #1 was over, we headed back to the table to sing Happy Birthday to Emily Grace, and to eat the giant cupcakes


After they finished eating, we started movie #2 (Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure), and the girls got to snuggle up on the furniture with rice heat packs (which they also got to take home). Again, lame me doesn't have any pictures of it...

Once movie #2 was over, I got them in their sleeping bags, where some major giggling went on for another half hour or so before Dan told them they could talk all they wanted, as long as it was too quiet for us to hear. They were all sound asleep shortly thereafter (it was right about 12:45am by that point).

We served freshly baked cinnamon rolls and hot cocoa for breakfast, and once they'd eaten and gotten packed up and dressed, they launched into more karoake!

Emily told me at least ten times it was the best birthday party EVER, and there were loud agreements from her friends. The best part? I got to spoil the heck out of Emily and four of her best friends for an entire afternoon/evening/overnight/morning for the same price (if not less) as it would have cost to rent someplace for only two hours for a more traditional party.

I think I want a spa party for MY next birthday!

Monday, May 9, 2011


I got to babysit Eva over LAST weekend for the first time, and we had so much fun having her over here!

I gave her this pettiskirt for Christmas (knowing it was too big, but I bought it in the smallest size available figuring it would fit eventually--it was too cute to pass up!!), and was thrilled to see that it fits just well enough that she can already wear it (and will get to wear it for quite some time to come, too!).

The pettiskirt would swish this way and that while she toddled around the house, and seriously, it couldn't have been any cuter!!!

Eva LOVED getting to play the piano, and kept wandering over and gently pressing all the keys. Emily helped her sit on the bench so she could reach better, and Eva was chuckling away as she pressed at all the keys

Eva was also really into climbing into the toy box (which Connor had full of all the balls we own), and tossing them out one by one. Then, she'd climb back OUT of the toy box, and toddle around the room, collecting all the balls and tossing them back in!!

She made me laugh wandering around making this funny little face!

She REALLY had a good time having three cousins totally doting on her! She laughed and laughed and followed them around. They got the biggest kick out of the fact that she'd try to mimic just about anything they were doing.

We love our Eva and really enjoyed our time with her!

Friday, May 6, 2011


The sun came out again over the weekend, and after such a RAINY March and most of April, it was an extremely welcomed sight. We had a lot of chores to do around the house, but instead, we headed out to the local high school track, and enjoyed the afternoon being active in the SUN!

Connor rode his bike (I think he rode around 3 miles if I counted his laps correctly)

Emily, Dan, and Jared started out jogging together

But Emily quickly backed out and walked with me instead!

Dan and Jared jogged/ran/walked a mile, and despite a bit of walking (Jared set the pace and Dan just stuck with him), they ended up doing about a 10 or 11 minute mile. I thought that was pretty good for a 6 year old!!

Jared is constantly asking us if we can go to the track. We might just have a runner on our hands!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baby Madisen

My friend Stephanie had her third baby a little over a week ago, and when Madisen was only three days old, they came to visit us!

Emily and Connor and I were all "fighting" over who would get to hold her (Jared was too involved in his Legos...LOL), and I grudgingly SHARED the baby with them:



She doesn't look as tiny in these pictures as I swear she seemed in real life!! It was so wonderful to have a snuggly little lump in my arms again. LOL Connor, especially, could NOT get enough of her. He oohed and awwhed over her tiny hands and feet, gently stroked her hair, stared down at her face with the most loving expression you ever saw... It was adorable!

I get to visit with her again at some point this week, and I'm so excited!! Stephanie's oldest is the same age as Connor, my youngest, so it's been fun to get to spend time with littler kids again (her middle child, Kaitlyn, will be three in June, and Madisen was just born). Sure makes me miss when MY kids were all little like that! Seems like just yesterday...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cake Pops

I tested out making some cake pops last week with Emily, and we had so much fun! The possibilities are truly endless. While I will admit to it all being a labor intensive project, we were enjoying ourselves, and I'm looking forward to making a new batch later this week to set out at Emily's birthday party. They've been a huge hit so far with everyone who's tried them (minus my mother), and I've gotten some really cute ideas online for future attempts!!

We also made blue butterflies, but I guess I never got around to photographing them!

The bulk of the batch of cake pops went out to the kids' teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week, but we also passed some out to guests who came by, and I took some to set at each place setting at the birthay luncheon my aunt hosted for Emily, myself, my cousin Haylee, and her son, Russell.

I think the ones I'm going to do for Emily will be cake BALLS instead of cake POPS. I'll use chocolate cake inside, dipped in white chocolate, and topped with bright pink sugar sprinkles on top, each set into a tiny cupcake liner (we have tiny yellow liners with bright colored flowers on them). I think they'll be pretty cute. I'm debating doing some lamb-shaped ones in honor of Em's favorite stuffed lamb, but since none of us like black licorice, I have to come up with something else for the face and legs (and with less than a week until the party, I think I'll just attempt the lambs at another date, but seriously, aren't these lambs adorable??? I even found some TINY white nonpareils to combat the problem of them being too crunchy as mentioned in the recipe).

I suppose we'll see what I end up doing!!

If you're interested in making cake balls/pops of your own, simply bake a 9X13 sized cake of your choice of flavor. Let cool completely. Once cooled, break apart into fine crumbs in a large bowl, then mix with half a can of frosting of your choice (the recipe I used online called for the whole can, and while it does add a bit more sweetness to the finished result, it also makes the "dough" a lot harder to work with, because it needs to keep being put back into the fridge or freezer to chill--using half a can of frosting leaves the dough stiff enough that it doesn't need to be chilled repeatedly throughout the process of forming the desired shape, AND I personally think they come out quite sweet as it is). If you think the "dough" needs it, freeze for 15 minutes or so, then start forming your shapes. I used tiny cookie cutters (1.25 inch wide or so??), and smooshed the dough into the shape until it filled completely, then carefully pushed it loose, and set aside on wax paper.

Once you have all the dough shaped as you want, start dipping into your melted chocolate (I used the melting chocolates from the baking section at JoAnn Fabrics and they worked fabulously). If you're making cake POPS, instert the sticks before dipping, and make sure the chocolate partially covers the stick where it inserts into the shape, or the stick will easily fall out.

I have yet to make cake BALLS, but I heard using a wooden skewer iserted into each ball long enough to dip works really well. I guess I'll find out later this week!