Monday, October 31, 2011

Almost forgot...

What would Halloween be without a procrastinated homework project?

As predicted.

Very funny, now that my heart rate has returned to normal.

Halloween catch-up

Yes, it it January, and I'm finally backdating a Halloween post. Par for the course around here. Hopefully Rob has someone there to revive him from the shock.

Halloween isn't our favorite holiday, but it was eventful. First the parade at school, held on the 28th because Fridays are early days.

Followed immediately by class parties. I was in charge of Ellie's class party, which was fun thanks to lots of help. Lucky Ainsley got to attend Ellie's party after her own in kindergarten.

That night was our ward carnival, which was amazing. Rob is well-known as a halloween scrooge, and had his own booth. Even he dressed up this year though, it's pretty impressive that he can still fit into the kilt he bought on his mission!

So the actual day of halloween was just a normal school day. The girls did have some cute shirts and tights to wear.

And this year Rob and I got the treat. All of our kids went trick-or-treating with friends, leaving us alone in a quiet and warm house! I managed photos of Joey with his group of friends, and the girls, with their friends, but didn't embarrass Robbie by taking a photo of the older kids.

As I said in my previous post, we made it to see three out of four grandparents, always a fun tradition. We feel lucky that the kids still have great-grandparents to visit!

It was fun, but busy! Next year might have to be another halloween vacation. Maybe Hawaii this time?

Happy Halloween!

This is especially for Ralph and Judy. We made it to the other grandparents because they're all within two miles of our house. But by the time the kids finished their homework, it was time to meet their friends, and too late when they finished to drive downtown—sorry Ralph and Judy! More candy for you. Complete details on all the Halloween festivities to follow, hopefully soon, just wanted you to see the trick-or-treaters you missed! In case you can't tell, Ellie is a gypsy, Robbie a surgeon (who didn't bother to take off his cargo shorts and sweatshirt before putting on his scrubs!), Ainsley a witch, and Joey is something scary. According to Shawn, most Americans consume 24 lbs. of candy each year. The way the kids were groaning about how heavy their bags were, we may have picked up our quota.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Ainsley

Again, starting with my favorite photo of the day.

After the surprise party the actual birthday may have been a little anti-climatic, especially since it was on a school day. But Ainsley is a master at living in the moment, and she was even thrilled that she had school, so she could take a treat for her class. We usually let the kids pick a special breakfast and dinner on their birthday, and all the kids woke up early in anticipation of Ainsley's breakfast choice, Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms. No photos because they were all done eating by the time I got back from my walk.

We picked up my Grandma and went to Costco to get Ainsley's school treat (baby carrots—healthy at the request of her teacher, and fruit roll-ups—less healthy at Ainsley's request). Then we ate lunch at "the place with the chocolate-covered strawberries" (Zupa's), again Ainsley's choice. While she was at school I finished shopping for her presents.

For dinner she picked crepes (three times in the past month, it's a good thing I found that low-carb version!). Then it was present time.

She got a watch, a pee wee pillow pet, a Webkinz dog, a purse, fingernail polish, a Tangled barbie, and some books. She was delighted and appreciative and fun to watch.

At six, Ainsley:
  • loves the color turquoise
  • is getting really tall, and can wear some of Ellie's clothes!
  • loves to do headstands and is often upside-down
  • is known as "Dad's barnacle" since she cuddles up on his lap every morning to watch the news
  • knows more about current events than her mom (see above)
  • is still a human GPS
  • is great at sharing
  • says she wants her own room, but still comes in to sleep on our floor some nights
  • could outlast the Energizer Bunny
  • loves to help
  • is a chatterbox
  • is a joy
We love you Ainsley!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Surprise Party!

That's actually the last photo of the party, but my favorite.

We had convinced Ainsley that she wasn't having a friend party this year (not hard to do, since she's never had a friend party!). We told her that we didn't have time for a party, since her birthday was the same week as the UEA holiday and we'd be going to St. George. I told her we'd make cupcakes, and dad would take her on a special date instead. We made the cupcakes in the morning, and I told her we'd frost them when she got back from lunch with Rob. When they left, I finally let the other kids in on the secret, and they helped me decorate and clean. When all the guests arrived, I called Rob, who had Ainsley at the school playground. He suggested that Ellie might like to join them at the playground, and Ainsley agreed that they should go pick her up. When she walked in the door she looked up and saw all the balloons (about 3 dozen) and started saying, "What the..." when everyone jumped out from behind the bar and yelled "Surprise!"

I had worried that a surprise party would rob her of the anticipation of it, but she was so excited. All the work was worth it.

I went with a Pinkalicious theme. While we were waiting for Ainsley, the girls worked on some cute puzzles (here). I found cute foam crowns for them to decorate.

And of course they decorated pink cupcakes.

Ainsley opened presents.

Then we went outside for some games. They played a version of duck, duck, goose, only they would name various colors and run on "pink."

The other game had someone in the middle, who would call out a color, and everyone who liked that color would run to the other side of the yard while the person in the middle tried to tag them.

Thank goodness it was a beautiful day!

We finished up reading a couple of the new Pinkalicious stories while parents picked up the kids. The favors were paperback books (LOVED this), bags of pink bubblegum balls (less ideal, but cute) and the crowns they made. It was a success, hopefully something Ainsley will remember and realize we love her!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Next Generation Book Group

"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all." — Jacqueline Kennedy
If any of my kids make it to adulthood without a passion for reading, I think I can honestly say it is not my fault. I don't see that happening. And the girls have now had their first experience at a book group. They loved it, with good reason.

We read The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schultz, aloud, a chapter or two a night. They would beg me for just one more chapter, and Ellie secretly read ahead and finished, but still loved listening to me read. My good friends Deyanne and Virginia planned the book group, and I was happy to help a little.

The girls were encouraged to dress like fairies, and when they arrived, picked out their fairy name. Ellie went with "Rosebud" but Ainsley knew that she already had the perfect fairy name, and she stuck with it.

Two of my favorite people, Virginia and Deyanne, leading the discussion. Virginia is an avid reader and a librarian, and Deyanne is an amazing English teacher and education expert. It would be an understatement to say they know what they're doing.

The girls were really engaged in the book discussion, even though they knew that crafts and treats were next.

They remembered characters, and setting, and told about their favorite parts. They made connections about forgiveness and selflessness and courage.

When the discussion ended, they split into groups to do some fun crafts. I helped them make a cute little fairy-sized bookmark (that I found on Pinterest!). I wish I'd taken photos, but sort of had my hands's the inspiration photo:

You can see the top end of the book marks that Ellie made, sticking out of the notebook, decorated with a cute fairy card. And that necklace? A real acorn, with an eye screw and ribbon attached. In addition to the crafts, the girls had their pictures taken by my friend Christianne, who is an amazing photographer, in front of the beautiful pond in Deyanne's yard. Again, I'm kicking myself for not taking more photos, but will hopefully get the copies of Christianne's photos soon, and will add them here.

The snacks were mini-cupcakes, and rainbow sherbet, served in these cute cupcake cups I found. I'd hoped to get some of those sample-sized spoons from Baskin Robbins, but I was informed that they no longer give them out, since their corporate headquarters decided they had no way of knowing what they would be used for, and didn't want their brand sullied. :(

I feel so lucky to have such amazing friends, who share my passion for reading and are helping me to pass that on to my girls. May their lives be filled with great books and good book group friends, as mine has.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Here's to our rebel...

I'm feeling a little left out, being the only person online who isn't eulogizing Steve Jobs. I mean, I love my Mac and iStuff as much as anyone else...okay, maybe not as much as this guy. Still, I wanted to pay tribute in some small way, for the fabulous products and clean designs. I can't help thinking of the famous "misfits" quote when I think about Joey:

"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently—they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."
~Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
I'm not saying Joey is a "misfit" or "crazy", but he is definitely an original. He tends a little to the extremes, as you can see in these photos, taken one day apart.

On the left, Saturday, September 17th, he's sporting one of his favorite shirts and the hair he's been growing out all summer. I love his curls, but wanted to get the "wings" trimmed a bit. He was NOT interested, until he found out I might be persuaded to buy him a suit (he's wanted one forever) for his birthday, IF he trimmed it a bit. He said, "Let's go" and we were at Sports Clips within minutes. I was completely surprised when he told the stylist to cut it short. He told me he wanted to look "sharp" in his suit. We then went to eight different stores (Macy's, Kohl's, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Nordstrom, Dillards, Sears and Burlington Coat Factory) in search of a suit. The problem was that even the slim size (which was hard to find) was way too baggy on him. We finally found a "modern fit" three-piece pinstripe Calvin Klein suit that fit (with the help of a belt). The Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation couldn't have been more complete. He's not really interested in following anyone else's rules, but he does love the attention he gets when he marches to the beat of his own drum, and soaked up all the attention he got at church on Sunday.

Yep, he's hard to ignore. We're looking forward to seeing the ways Joey changes the world.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

No need for a pintervention...really.

"Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes."
I'd heard about Pinterest a while ago, but had avoided it, mostly because it sounded like something that could easily turn into a time-sucking addiction, which I really don't need. But I had lunch with some friends who convinced me that the addiction wore off after a couple of weeks, so I signed up.

It turns out I had reason to fear! I spent more time than I'd like to admit browsing other people's boards, creating some of my own and pinning like crazy. I've got boards for favorite quotes, art, recipes to try, photography, gift ideas, clothes I like, stuff for the girls & boys, remodeling and gardening boards, organization ideas, crafts, party ideas, places to go, fitness, favorite talks/articles and blogs, and more. There are other ways to bookmark all of these things, but I love the "eye candy" element of Pinterest. It looks pretty.

AND, I've actually made some great discoveries. There are several recipes that I've tried and loved. Here's a photo of us enjoying one of my favorite finds, a low-carb, high-protein crepe recipe. It's made with ricotta cheese. I tried it with low expectations, but everyone loved it! That conference tradition just got a little healthier! (Ignore the nutella and sugared toppings :).

So yes, very dangerous. But useful. And my friends were right. I do check in every day or so, just to see what my friends have posted. But it's manageable. Or I'm in denial. :) If you want to play along, here's the link to my boards.