Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 30: Thanksgiving

We spent the past few days celebrating Thanksgiving with my family.  As has been the case lately, I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked.  And the ones I did take were mostly with my phone and not with my camera.  I'll try again at Christmas!

The girls were SO excited about our trip.  We stopped at Arbys for dinner on our way there, and they were so loud and crazy at the restaurant, I'm surprised we weren't kicked out.  =)
 My sister Andrea spent some time teaching our girls the art of the "selfie." 

Andrea also took Audrey over to my great grandparent's house, where they set up and decorated their Christmas tree.

I took a picture of our Thanksgiving table, before we put out any food and before anyone was sitting there.  I meant to take an after picture, but we were all too busy eating!

Here's my sister Elisabeth with her little girl Braxen.

My mom has lots of dress up clothes for little girls, and my girls had a lot of fun playing with them!

Nana, Audrey and I went on a date to the movies!  We saw the new Disney movie Frozen, and we all enjoyed it.  As did every other kid in town!  Our showing was sold out, which means every seat was full, mostly with little kids.  It was a little crazy, but we still had a good time and enjoyed the movie (and the popcorn!  Admission was only $7 and that included popcorn AND a drink!)

We also had a good time celebrating Thanksgiving with my dad and his side of the family and visiting my Grandma in the nursing home.  But this is the only picture I took from those visits:  Audrey and Papa John (my dad).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 26: Isla's First Haircut

Yesterday, we took Isla to get her haircut for the first time.  Her hair was getting pretty long and straggly in the back, though it was still pretty short in the front.   I thought it was time (probably past time) to get it trimmed.   But I am not brave enough to attempt to cut my kids' hair myself.  So off to the salon we went!

I knew this would not be an enjoyable event for Isla.  New places/people/situations cause her to shut down and get scared.  I decided to go ahead and get Audrey's hair trimmed first, hoping that Isla would watch Audrey, see how harmless it all was, and be more willing to get her own cut.

Audrey was a little nervous at her first haircut when she was two like Isla, but since then she loves going to see Jenni!  It is usually the highlight of her day.  Yesterday, after trimming her hair, Jenni curled her hair and put in a little braid.  Audrey was just grinning from ear to ear when she got done and couldn't stop looking at herself in the mirror.  =)

So then it was Isla's turn.  I wanted her to sit in the chair by herself, but she was not a fan of that at all.  So I held her in my lap.  But when they put the cape on her, she freaked out.  She didn't scream, but she sobbed a miserable little cry the whole time Jenni cut her hair.  I gave her a sucker to distract her, but she wouldn't even put it in her mouth.  It wasn't fun, but we did get it done!

I tried to take a before picture while she was sitting in my lap, but that didn't work too well.  This is the best I got.
Getting an after picture wasn't much easier.  Once we were all done, Isla did start to cheer up (and eat her sucker).  It wasn't a drastic haircut, but the back is much more even and less mullet-like now.

Today, I asked her if she liked getting her haircut, and our conversation went like this.

Me:  "Isla, did you like getting your haircut?"
Isla:  "Yeah!"
Me:  "You did?  Did you think it was fun?"
Isla:  "Yeah!"
Me:  "Did you cry?"
Isla:  "No.  Me no cry haircut."

I guess she is in denial and has just blocked the whole experience out of her head.  Maybe if she remembers it as fun, then it WILL be fun the next time we have to get her hair cut!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pinterest Inspired Brinner

Pinterest sometimes get a bad rap for causing women to have idealistic expectations about reality.  Websites like this one are successful by demonstrating how many Pinterest projects don't live up to the hype in reality.

But sometimes Pinterest does live up to the hype.  Sometimes you really can find great ideas, and in today's case, great recipes.  Which is why I love it so much.

Tonight I pulled three recipes from my Pinterest boards and made breakfast for dinner!  I wish I would have taken better pictures, but I had no plans to blog about this.  Until I was getting ready to put the food on the table and thought, "Hey, if this turns out good, it might just be blog-worthy!"  So I snapped a quick picture with my phone, which really doesn't make the food look very appetizing.  But it was good, I promise!

Here's what I made:

Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins:
These are super healthy.  They are made with 100% whole wheat flour, no sugar, and very little fat.  And they do taste like they are made with whole wheat flour, no sugar and very little fat.  But they also taste good!!  Surprisingly good, actually.  I ate two for dinner and will eat leftovers for breakfast in the morning.  Audrey liked them too, even though she knew there were carrots in them and she hates carrots.

Waffle Iron Hashbrowns:
This is one that I have seen floating around Pinterest a lot.  And I was a little skeptical.  It seems like the type of pin destined for the Pinterest Fail website.  But these were SO good.  And SO easy!  You just put the frozen tator tots on the hot waffle iron, close it, and in about 15 minutes you have a hashbrown that is super crispy on the outside while soft and potato-y on the inside.  Yum!

Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie:
After reading an article about how blueberries and pomegranates can prevent the flu, I decided we should try to incorporate them a little more into our diet.  I will do anything to avoid having sick kids!!  I'm not a huge smoothie drinker, but this one was pretty good!  I will definitely make it again.

I served some scrambled eggs on the side, and voila...breakfast for dinner, aka brinner!

Thanks, Pinterest!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pictures with Santa

I am fairly indifferent about Santa Claus.  I don't really try to get my kids to believe in him, but I don't entirely discourage it either.  Audrey has been asking me questions about Santa recently.  I don't really want to lie to her and say that  he is real, but then I hate for my kid to be the one to ruin it for other people's kids who do believe in Santa Claus.  I have remained fairly vague on the topic with Audrey ("I don't know, Audrey, what do you think about Santa Claus?"), always trying to shift the conversation back to Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas.

But I do like to have my kids pictures taken with Santa Claus.  Kind of like our "How Tall this Fall" picture at the pumpkin patch, I just love having pictures to compare from year to year.  So before we get to this year's picture, let's review!

Audrey first visited Santa when she was two in 2010.  I thought she would be afraid, but she had no fear and even smiled!

Then Isla got to join in on the fun in 2011.  Isla was a little too young her to realize that Santa could be scary.  But just wait to see what a difference a year makes!

Last year we tried a new location, where they had a Santa and a Mrs. Claus.  One lap for each kid. I thought Mrs. Claus might be a little less intimidating for Isla.  But no, she was still plenty intimidating.  Isla was not a fan at all.

So that brings us to this year.  Our bank was having a Christmas party on Saturday with lots of free crafts and activities and cookies.  And they also were offering free pictures with Santa.  So, even though it was only November 23 and not even Thanksgiving yet, it sounded like too good of a deal to refuse.

My plan was to put Audrey and Isla alone with Santa.  He was sitting in a sleigh, and I thought maybe Isla would be willing to sit next to him on the sleigh.  As we were standing in line, one of the volunteers noticed that Isla was looking a little unsure of getting her picture taken with Santa.  So she suggested that we should make it a whole family picture, and maybe Isla would be more willing if we were in the picture with her.

I had just rolled out of bed, thrown on my glasses and some clothes before we left the house that morning.  So I wasn't too excited about being in the picture looking like I was looking.  But I decided that maybe it was worth a shot.

Or not.  Isla didn't cry or scream, so I guess that was good.  But she kept her eyes squeezed tightly closed the entire time, and she physically pulled herself as far as possible away from Santa.  (And she refused to let us take off her coat!) The ladies taking the pictures had bells and reindeers and bubbles, all trying to get Isla's attention.  But I told them not to worry about it, because we could sit there all day and try to get her to just look at the camera.  But once she has made up her mind to do something, especially something related to getting her picture taken, there is no changing her mind!

So with that story, I present to you our family picture with Santa for 2013.
I'm tempted to try again with a different Santa and see if I can get one where Isla is at least looking in the general direction of the camera.  But that seems a bit cruel on my part.  So this will probably be our official picture for this year!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Little Mermaid Party: Decorations

This will be my last post about the birthday party. It's only taken me three weeks to write it!

I didn't do anything too extensive for decorations (not like last year's 100 ft long braid hanging out of our front window!).  The main focus was the food table.  I set up the table in front of the window in our dining room, so that I could use the curtain rod to hang up my backdrop.  I despise having to try to hang things from the ceiling, so I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out to use the curtain rod instead.
Hobby Lobby has a large selection of bright turquoise, purple and green Christmas decorations this year.  I was able to find several things that worked will with our Little Mermaid party theme! 

I knew the cake was going to be various shades of turquoise/aqua, so I wanted to create a backdrop that represented "under the sea" and coordinated with various shades of turquoise/aqua.  I used some shiny tulle, sequin garlands, and ruffled streamers made out of plastic tablecloths.  I was really excited about the way it turned out once it was all put together.  I actually liked it so much, that i left it up after the party, and just took it down today!  =)
 I was going to spell Happy Birthday, Audrey at the top.  But then that was way too many letters to cut out and figure out how to hang up, so I just simplified and went with Audrey instead.
 You can find a tutorial on how to make the streamers here.  Seriously, they are my new favorite thing.  Very easy to make, though a bit time consuming and a bit painful on my fingers.  But WORTH it in the end!!
 In our basement, I set up some tables and chairs for extra seating.  I did decorate these tables with tablecloths and centerpieces, but I forgot to take a picture!  I just got some sparkly purple and green sprays from the Hobby Lobby Christmas section and put them in a clear vase filled with turquoise rocks and gems. 

I also had plans to turn the play area of our basement into an Under the Sea world.  With streamers and tissue paper poms and various sea creatures hanging from the ceiling.  As the party grew closer and I grew lazier, this turned into me randomly hanging a few crepe paper streamers around the room.  Often my plans are bigger than my motivation to actually do them!  This picture shows the (lame) streamers, and also the craziness in the basement where all the kids congregated to play!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Little Mermaid Party: Favors and Games

Ugh...I'm way behind on blogging!  Here is another post about Audrey's Little Mermaid Party.

I love giving favors to kids at parties.  Probably because I just like giving gifts.  But I think it is just so much fun to see their faces light up when they get a present just for them.  I've started putting the kids' names on the favor bags.  It helps me to remember to give it to them.  Plus, I think kids just feel special when they get something with their name on it.  And that makes me happy!

For the older kids bags, I put a Little Mermaid pen/stamper (found in the Target dollar spot), bubbles (with a custom label attached), Ocean Spray fruit snacks and a few pieces of color coordinated candy.  The younger toddlers and babies got ocean animal bath squirters and bubbles.

 To keep the kids entertained, we played a couple of games.  I wanted to play the games outside where we would have more room.  But then it was muddy and leaves were everywhere, and I really didn't want all that yuckiness tracked back inside my house (on my new yellow rug!).  Inside, it was a bit chaotic, trying to keep them all contained and following the rules in a very small space, as you can tell from my facial expression in this picture!
We played Pass the Mermaid, which was like Hot Potato using an Ariel doll instead.  And we also played Dinglehopper Dash.  I dumped a bunch of plastic forks on the ground, and then we split the kids up into two groups:  boys vs. girls.  We timed each group to see how fast they could pick up all the forks (dinglehoppers according to Scuttle in the movie) and put them in the buckets.  The games were fairly simple, but I think the kids had fun.

In the basement, I set up a little craft station where the kids could make their own jellyfish.  I just had them color on a styrofoam bowl, attach self-adhesive eyes, and then tape pre cut ribbons to the inside of the bowl.  I wasn't sure if anyone would even want to make a craft, but almost everyone did!  Big thanks to my friend Lindsey, who ended up manning this table and helping everyone with their jellyfish!

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11: Snow!

It snowed tonight for the first time this season! 

I do not like snow, especially snow in November.  Snow means cold, which is equal to misery for me.  But I try to keep a positive attitude about snow around the girls.  When you are a kid, snow is fun and exciting, and I don't want my bad attitude about it to spoil the fun for them.

So, tonight, when it started snowing...I sent them outside with Daddy to see the snow.  They were wearing their pajamas and almost ready for bed.  But they were SO excited to go outside in the snow.  Sticking out their tongues to catch it, holding out their hands to catch it, they didn't care about being wet or cold.  All they could see was the snow.  It was pretty cute!

Here is Isla's version of going outside in the snow tonight.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Little Mermaid party: Food and Cake

I really tried to keep this party fairly simple, especially when it came to the food.  We decided to have the party at 3:00, so we didn't have to serve a meal.  We served a big meal at our past two birthday parties, so I was ready for something more low key this year.

I went with snacks that were loosely attached to the Mermaid/Under the Sea theme and also were easy to prepare. 

We had Coral Skewers, which were just green grapes on a stick, and I served a (storebought) cream cheese dip with them.  I thought the grapes looked really good with all the other decor on the table.

We also had a few varieties of goldfish.  I already had these fish dishes, which I bought for Audrey's goldfish themed 2nd birthday party.  I was happy to be able to use them again.

And we served Seaweed Sticks, which were just storebought veggie straws.  These were a last minute addition, because I remembered the morning of the party that I bought these purple cups (through a cheap online deal) and I needed something to put in them!

The only thing that I "made" for the party were these Sea Snails, or mini crescent dogs.  I bought little smokies and wrapped them in crescent rolls. 

I like the look of all the colored candy that is so popular right now, but I didn't really want to serve a table full of candy.  So I bought some gumballs and candy sticks to put on the table, just because I liked the way they looked!  I labeled them Under the Sea Sweets.  No one really ate them, so it was probably a waste of money.  But they looked cute with everything else.

And now for the cake!

In keeping with the low key theme for all the food, I did not make the cake.  I enjoy making cakes, but they also really stress me out!  It was so nice to be able to go to bed early the night before the party, rather than staying up late trying to make and decorate a cake while trying to avoid a disaster.
I gave our cake decorator a picture of the cake feature in this party as inspiration.  I love the way this cake turned out!  We put a little toy Ariel on it to make Audrey happy.  But I really liked the simple look of the cake, the way it looked like a mermaid's tale without actually being a mermaid's tale.  It was huge too, and we had plenty to feed everyone at the party and at our small group the next night!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Audrey's Little Mermaid Party

Saturday was a big day:  Audrey's 5th birthday party.  She had been asking for a Little Mermaid party for months.  Like last year, when we did a Rapunzel/Tangled themed party, this was more of a Little Mermaid-inspired party, rather than a party featuring all of the Disney movie characters.  As long as we called it a Little Mermaid party and allowed Ariel to pop up a few places, Audrey was happy.  And I was happy to be creative and think a little outside of the Disney box.

Audrey wanted to make the guest list, and I let her invite pretty much everyone that she wanted to invite.  I figure we are getting close to the end of these "invite all of her friends and all of mom and dad's friends" parties, and soon she will just be selecting a few of her own friends from school.  Might as well go big now! We ended up with 17 kids and 13 adults.  I was expecting a few more, but it was still a very full house.

This was our first time to host a large party at our new house, and it was great!  The layout of this house worked really well to keep traffic flowing and keep it from feeling too crowded.  We have an extra room that we didn't have in our old house, plus the steps to our basement are more centrally located here.  So the kids were more eager to go downstairs and play in the basement, while the adults could stay upstairs and chat, but still keep an eye/ear on their kids. 

I'm going to break the party up into a couple of posts to share more details.  But I wanted to start today with the most important part of the party:  the birthday girl!!

She is just too cute!  =)  We got her adorable necklace and bracelet from this etsy shop (which is where I bought the tulle for the girls' Halloween costumes as well).  It was only $9.50 for the necklace/bracelet set!  A steal!  And Audrey LOVED it!  It was just perfect for her special day.

I think Audrey had a great time at her party.  She was a little worried at first because not quite everyone could come, and she really wanted everyone to come!  But she snapped out of it, and soon had fun playing with her friends, making a craft, playing some games, blowing out her candles, eating her cake, and opening lots of presents.  A successful party!

More details to come soon!!