Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ellie turns 12!

Cutie girl got to celebrate her birthday - again! We were joking the other day about how she's one year older for every celebration she has, which means that she's not 6 anymore after having about a million separate parties.

This summer while I was browsing Pinterest, Ellie saw a rainbow cake and decided that was the ONE THING she wanted for her birthday. Then as her birthday drew nearer Jim was talking to Ellie's mom and announced to me that we were going to have Ellie for her birthday this year, at which I was ELATED. Immediately I started a new Pinterest board for the occasion and started dreaming. Only my hopes were dashed when I later found out that meant he could be with her for her birthday, but she wouldn't be coming up here to Oregon. Unfortunately air travel is a little cost prohibitive so as you all know, Aeryn and I didn't get to go down. Partly to ease my disappointment, and to indulge our wanting to be in on the fun parts of childhood too, we planned to do another party when she came up at Thanksgiving.

The theme was to be rainbow. 

I made favor bags using paper lunch sacks, paint swatches, and each child's name/letter. The girls helped glue the strips on and it was really hard for my OCD self to let them be uneven, but they turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself. I think only one bag ended up covered in extreme amounts of stray glue.

Since we ended up with a few leftover strips from the swatches, all I did was fold them over a piece of yarn and hold them in place with a piece of double sided tape and we had a cute rainbow banner. 

With our teeny apartment, we hosted the soiree at the community room which honestly just entices kids to run. They don't need a purpose or even any particular game going on, kids get in there and start running. We did have games planned, but much of the time things looked like this:

And yes, most of the pictures are blurry. Rapidly fading light + rambunctious littles + any number of other variables = happy to have any pictures at all.

The first organized activity we had was to make ribbon wands. I love ribbon wands, so it stands to reason that kids do too, right? They got to pick their own ribbons and then the grown ups helped them get assembled so no little fingers were burned by the glue gun.

Next we did a silly little race where each member of the team had to run to a basket full of clothing items, put one on, and go back to where they started - and so on until everyone was wearing something. We've done that in young women's before, and it was great fun, but I think these kids might have been a little too young to 1) really get what was going on and 2) think it was any fun at all. Perhaps this one was for my benefit too. Though, in my defense the kids were pretty dang cute putting on clothes 15 times bigger than they are.

Next we made bookmarks from pre-cut foam. This was a last minute addition when Ellie saw them at the dollar store and thought it would be fun. Honestly, I threw it in just because she liked it and it was cheap - but later when I asked what her favorite part of the party was she said this was it. Just goes to show how much we (I) can over think things for kids.

Which brings us to the cake...

I confess I'm really, really proud of this cake. It's not like it's a new idea or anything, but I've been planning it since about July (yes, JULY) and it was the entire reason we threw Ellie this party so I felt a little pressure to get it right. I tried a new to me recipe (classic white layer cake with butter icing) and a new to me icing recipe (supposedly best frosting). I added orange zest to the butter icing and used it between the layers and for the crumb coat. Then I used the second icing to cover the outside. Verdict? This will be my new go-to white cake recipe because it is phenomenal but I will never make the other icing again. Ever.

The layers turned out awesome but when I asked Ellie if she liked it it turns out she didn't like the orange. We used the exact same icing with orange on cookies the night before and she loved it, so my heart ached a little when she said that.

We can't forget the presents!!! We have the best friends in the world. Ellie was so excited to get presents from her Oregon friends and honestly adores every single thing. We were playing barbies, and ponies, and drawing all morning - and she wore her new hair clip and necklace on the plane home today.You guys (because I know some of you will read this) are honestly amazing. Thank you for loving Ellie so much!

After the cake, my favorite part was the photo booth. I've wanted to set one up for every single gathering I've ever planned, but this was the first time it actually came to fruition. You know what? It was perfect. The kids loved it and I think a rainbow movember party is about the coolest thing imaginable.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Don't kids have the most awesome words? I never wanted to correct Aeryn when she said "spageeto" instead of mosquito, and I know Jim has really fond memories of Ellie saying "hippopomotomus." Right now, Ellie's word is volleyvall, despite the fact that this one has been corrected a lot. She has such a phenomenal vocabulary and use of language that her not-quite-right words are extra awesome.

We went to the last home game of the women's volleyball for the season this past Tuesday. The girls were super excited, as evidence by their blurred dancing on the jumbotron. They really love the energy at the games.

When the players come in after their break between sets 2 & 3, students get to line up and welcome them back to the court. Jim knew the girls would love this but the court guards didn't want to let them down there since it's supposed to be only students. Jim pulled out his ID to verify that we are in fact students, while other spectators in the stands were rooting for the girls to get to go down. They applauded the decision maker when they agreed to let the girls in the line.

I couldn't see Ellie's face at all, but I could tell they all had a great time with it.

By far the best part of the night was post-game, when the team was going to sign autographs. Jim bought each of the girls a mini-volleyball and they love them even more than we hoped. It was a complete surprise how well that gesture was received.

We had been nervous to go since the game started at 8:00 and Aeryn still had school the following day. The promise of autographs was enough to keep them up, happy, and completely cooperative even as they both became very tired. Honestly, I was shocked.

I've never really been a sports fan until I married into it, but I've got to say I really like this. It's fun for the girls to see what these college girls are accomplishing with hard work and I really think it gives them some strong girls to look up to. I also like this picture because I think it's awesome that Alaina Bergsma is a seriously fantastic volleyball player as well as being Miss Oregon. The girl is a powerhouse. Seeing her play changes my preconceptions about beauty pageant contestants.

It was a really fun day.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

50 Things I'm Thankful for v.2012

It's that time of year again (actually, it's almost past) when I list 50 of the things that really matter to me. This year the holiday has been busy. We have both ladybugs with us and though it's been really incredible, it hasn't left much time for me to focus on myself. That is definitely a good thing, as they are far more worthwhile to focus on.

Today we had Thanksgiving dinner with some friends and it was a serious blast. I can't imagine how I've ended up with so many awesome people in my life. There was an enormous feast to be had: Roast Turkey (of course), Caramelized Shallot Mashed Potatoes, Sausage and Pecan Stuffing, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Prosciutto, Corn, Roasted Chestnuts, 12 layer Jello salad, Cranberry Sauce, my mom's Orange Rolls, Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake, Sour Cream Apple Pie, Chocolate Pumpkin cake, and MORE that I can't remember right now because I'm in consumption induced coma. It's really humbling, when I think of it. All week I've been worried about tablecloths, candles, and decor; kids table activities, finger puppets, and coloring books. Now as I think about how plentiful our food has been (and all the awesome leftovers) I'm feeling especially thankful that my family has never known hunger. I can't imagine how difficult it is to raise a family when you don't know where your next meal is coming from.

And so it begins:
50 Things I'm Thankful For

  1. The plethora of red orange leaves during an Oregon autumn
  2. Having a husband whom I trust beyond description and love even more
  3. Croaking frogs in the spring
  4. The mornings I actually get out the door and run along Pre's trail
  5. Finally finding a pair of casual boots I absolutely love
  6. Dangly earrings
  7. The sound of Ellie's laughter
  8. Aeryn's innate compassion
  9. High thread count sheets so soft I almost melt when I crawl in bed
  10. The opportunity to begin anew each day
  11. Our subscription to Bon Appetit
  12. Crafty dates with girl friends
  13. The USA and how incredibly fortunate we are to live here
  14. Friends who offer to iron in order to ease my stress
  15. The internet
  16. Just Dance 4
  17. Living in a place where I can have a drink of clean, icy water at any moment 
  18. Nights clear enough to see the Moon
  19. Misty drizzle between rainstorms
  20. Evenings watching cheesy television with the Hubs
  21. Awesome finds at thrift stores
  22. Modern medicine 
  23. Cute sweaters at Target
  24. Successful new recipes
  25. Being married to a worthy Priesthood holder
  26. Having enough friends with new babies that I get to love on one almost anytime I want
  27. Costco
  28. A good haircut
  29. Hot water heaters, perhaps my favorite invention of all time
  30. The peace in my mind when the kitchen is clean
  31. Little kid crushes
  32. Visiting teaching
  33. Teachers who care
  34. Feeling connected to distant friends through social media
  35. Puppy kisses
  36. Neutral nail polish
  37. Shallots
  38. Method mint glass and surface cleaner
  39. Digital photography
  40. The sweet miracle of Indoor plumbing
  41. Salted Caramel Ice Cream
  42. National Park Junior Ranger programs
  43. Everyday moments and remembering how good life really is
  44. Pinterest - how did we ever live without it? 
  45. A reliable vehicle
  46. Bicycle lanes with traffic signals
  47. Daffodils
  48. The smell of fresh baked goods in the fall
  49. Finishing a good book
  50. Having faith in the future 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Squirt Loves Thrifting

Since there was no school today (the last day of Squirt's 5 day weekend) I had some things I wanted to do. There's a new Jo-Ann's nearby that simply HAD to be explored, Aeryn had a free frosty certificate from tooth she had to have pulled last week, and I figured I'd pop into the Goodwill that was right next door just because. Since I had some specific things I was hoping to track down, I let Aeryn look at the kids area for a few minutes by herself. When I came to check on her, she was crazy excited about a pair of rollerblades sitting in the aisle.

Like a typical realistic mom, I checked the size before I responded because frankly, those suckers looked huge for her. They were a men's size 9 which made her little kids size 3 heart a bit sad. Since I'd seen an aisle full of sporting goods I suggested we go double check what was over there. As luck would have it we found a perfect pair of pink and black rollerblades in amazing shape and her size for a whopping $4.99. Since Squirt had her own money with her there was no decision to be made: those rollerblades were coming home with us.

As luck would have it, we got to the register and found that they were the right tag color to be 50% off. Squirt landed a pair of awesome rollerblades for $2.50.

I confess that I wasn't sure I believed her when she said she knew how to use them. Apparently they have rollerblades at school in P.E. once in a while. Knowing her trepidation on skates I was uncertain how they'd go over.

The first lap looked much like the above picture (with about as much movement as you see there too).

Her enthusiasm was pretty contagious.

She kept giggling to herself about how she was really doing it. She finished one lap and even though I thought for sure she would be done with it kept going. Next thing I knew she was at our friends' home saying "look what I got for $2.50!"

By the end of the third lap, she seemed to have the hang of things, at least enough to skate as quickly as I walk. This could be the best $2.50 ever.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Because mom needs something to focus on other than Pokemon...

Aeryn has a five day weekend; two days off for parent-teacher conferences and one day off for Veteran's day. She's been wanting her hair in little braids for a while now, and I promised her that we could do it now. It only took 45 minutes and she is thrilled with it. I wish the braids were smaller and that her hair was longer, but it's pretty fun nonetheless. She picked some silly Pokemon movie to watch while we were doing it and this way I had something else to focus on and spare myself the agony of the movie.