Monday, May 9, 2016

Harley's Frogtastic 6th Birthday

Harley almost always has big plans. She also has very unique ideas about how she wants those plans followed.  A couple of months ago I tried to sell her on the idea of  a unicorn birthday party. I found this guy who owned miniature ponies, just the right size for a bunch of 6 year old girls to ride. He was willing to paint them rainbow colored and attach unicorn horns onto their fat little heads.  Be still, my heart. Can you just imagine all these pretty little girls dressed like princesses riding unicorns around our property?  No. Well, apparently Harley couldn't catch the vision either because she insisted on a FROG themed birthday.  I learned a long time ago just to roll with it, because when she gets an idea in her head, there is no convincing her otherwise.  
It turned out to be lots of fun, lots of work, but lots of fun. We hosted about ten kindergartner's and their parents. As luck would have it, it was also the first day it hadn't rained in two weeks.  

Here is a step by step guide for the one other person in the universe, whose daughter wants to throw a FROG birthday party!

Step 1:  Invitations

I made these on Picmonkey and had them printed at Target.

Step 2: Plan an activity for the children until all the guests arrive
No one shows up at the same time for a birthday party, so, I always plan some sort of quiet activity until all the guests arrive.  I printed out some frog coloring sheets for the kids to color while they waited for the other guests. Plus, they also used this time to decorate their own party bags.

Step 3:  Introduce the theme of the party. 

 Of course, we read a Froggy story. I also used this time to let the kids know what they would be doing for the next hour and a half and what our expectations were for their behavior. I know, always a teacher.

Step 4:  Game Stations.  

Thank goodness the boys were super willing to be in charge of games.  When planning party games, remember Oriental Trading is a birthday parties best friend.  
Nash ran two game stations:  
Hop Frog:  The kids tried to get their plastic hopping frogs to land on a lilly pad.  

Fly Catcher: For this game I laminated a bunch of clipart flies and the kids used sticker finger toys to capture as many flies as they could.

Atley was in charge of Bouncy House Safety and he ran the...

Frog Spit Station:  Using two tables about 20 feet apart the kids sucked up water with their squirting frogs from one cup and transferred it to another cup.

Step 4:  Decorations and Food

I used a lot of tissue paper to create flowers and buntings.  We also had fresh flowers, mostly from the azaleas still blooming in the yard. We drank SWAMP WATER and ate FROG EGGS, along with pizza and cupcakes.   

Step 5:  One last HURRAH! 

Finally we went on a FROG EGG hunt.  The boys hid 144 eggs all over the property and the kids  went berserk trying to gather them all. They were all running so fast I failed to even capture a picture. 

 It was a happy and memorable day.  Nothing brings me more joy than granting the outlandish wishes of my children, even if they don't include unicorns and princess dresses.

When all the guest left we opened presents, everyone was so generous.  Harley exclaimed, "Wow, I must be pretty popular!"  
We love you Harley Belle and we cannot wait to see what you come up with next year! Also, thanks brothers for being so helpful and accommodating to your baby sister.

Monday, April 25, 2016

This Week's Happenings

In an effort to be a more consistent blogger and add a little more to my heaping plate, I am going to attempt a weekly update of our goings-on.  So, here goes nothin'.
Spring is blooming all around us, The azaleas and the impatiens in my yard are so very lovely.  Yesterday morning before church the sun was shining bright and the kids ran outside to play as soon as they awoke.  I lay on the couch watching them in the morning sunlight.  Their heads bobbing by the window and laughter pealing through the yard.  Birds fluttered by with their mouths full of sticks and straw to land in the ferns hanging on my front porch. They worked furiously to build their nests while I lazily watched nature and my children in all their glorious beauty. I didn't need a camera for the scene before me. I'm certain I will forever remember their sweaty red faces scampering by with the colors of spring as the backdrop to their adventures.  I will always hear the laughter and joy ringing through the poplars and oak trees in my heart.  My soul was filled with an overwhelming gratitude for motherhood and the beauty of this glorious world.
Five minutes later they were back in the house fighting, tattling, and calling each other an idiot. Their noses were snotty and their eyes red from the haze of pollen in the air, but it was fabulous while it lasted.

Speaking of pollen, my kids have a knack for getting the lyrics to songs wrong in the funniest way.  We were driving to girl scouts last week and Tom Petty's FREE FALLIN" song came on.  Harley was belting it out like she was on Broadway and when she reached the chorus, in perfect pitch she says, "Now I'm BEE, BEE POLLEN!"  I think it is our new anthem for spring.  Here is another funny one. You know that song from Lion King that is in a tribal African language?  My kids are convinced that the first lines of that song are, PENNSYLVANIA, FELIZ NAVIDAD!  Finally, Adele's When We Were Young. When the background singers, sing "when we were young", my kids hear, INEBRIATE, INEBRIATE.

This week Atley went on his first over-night camp out sans his father.  I was a nervous wreck and constantly checking my phone for a message from the hospital or even the police. He made it back in one piece and had the "best time ever!"  Atley has the "best time ever" frequently and I wish I could bottle his enthusiasm for all the mundane tasks in my life.  I'd take a swig every time I was feeling like, well, myself. He is an eternal optimist and my inspiration!
The last couple of weeks have been Boosterthon at school. Most nights I came home complaining that it was a cult, but when the festivities culminated in a FUN RUN, (like there is such a thing), I saw the error of my ways. Harley, Nash and I ran our hearts out and dad came to cheer us on from the sidelines.
Scott is coaching Nash's baseball team this spring.  It is a pretty hard core responsibility with no shortage of critics, but he is great with the kids and I'm sure the wins will start coming eventually.  Nash loves playing catcher, which is super stressful for his mother who not only has to keep the score book but agonize over every errant pitch and the runner on third looking to steal home plate.  He is uber competitive, to a fault, but there is nothing cuter than him in a pair of baseball pants.  
As I mentioned earlier Sunday was such a beautiful day that I packed a picnic and change of clothes for after church. We went to Chancellorsville Battle Field (where Stonewall Jackson met his demise). We had a picnic in a hay field that 150 years prior was littered with the bodies of 14,000 soldiers.  Do you think that is morbid? Anyway, we also took a driving tour of the battle, which I LOVED! I am a serious Civil War junkie and so is Atley.  The others not so much. They went along with my plan but when I mentioned how fun it would be to pick a different battlefield every Sunday, I got several eye rolls.
You know when you are at a funeral or maybe just a family reunion and all the kids tell stories about dad or grandpa. I have a feeling that the day Scott discovered Craig's List might be one of those stories.  First, let me preface this story with this. Scott is the least impulsive person I know. So, when he does something impulsive, I just roll with it because it is kind of exciting. Last week he told me he bought a boat off of Craig's list.  Wow! Exciting right?  So, he and Atley set of to retrieve it.  Well, let's just say this vessel is not exactly sea worthy. What is perhaps even more humorous is the picture of Scooby Doo, painted on the back with the words, "RUT ROW"!  After a few days of "restoration" I think it has been determined that we will be selling the RUT ROW for parts. Now he is scouring Craig's List for a camper, or as I like to call it, THE MYSTERY MACHINE!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spring Break 2016

You know what is absolutely awful about spending Spring Break in a place that is warm and sandy and full of sunshine and baseball?  You lull yourself into thinking that it is actually summer and then suddenly the week is over and BOOM! you have three months of school left, totally depressing. But, we are back in full swing and dealing just fine. We are resilient like that.  We spent spring break down in Jacksonville with my dad and I packed as much into those 5 days as I possibly could.  First, on the itinerary was beachin'. We went twice and it never gets old.
This is Ponte Vedra beach, where seashells and hammerhead sharks abound!

Second stop on the Spring Break express, St. Augustine, America's first Spanish settlement.  St. Augustine was settled by Ponce de Leon, so, no trip to the city is complete without a big drink from the fountain of youth. I am happy to report that my children are officially never growing up. We also spent time at the old fort and admiring the lovely ancient live oak trees drenched in Spanish moss.

One of our favorite stops was a Popsicle treat at the famous HYPPO. These flavors are super unique. I enjoyed a pineapple basil Popsicle, while Atley had a honeydew basil treat and Harley and Nash had strawberry cilantro.  Not for everyone but certainly worth a taste.
We caught a Washington Nationals spring training game in Port St. Lucie.  We had front row seats and even got a couple balls. The boys were in heaven being so close their heroes.

Not able to bear the thought of our vacation ending we spent the night in Charleston, SC on the way home. Charleston has always been one of my favorite cities and the weather was beautiful and the food fantastic. We explored market square and  took the kids on a Ghost Tour, where we heard stories about Black Beard the pirate and much more. Both Harley and Nash ended up in our bed for a couple of nights.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Easter 2016

Our Easter Celebration always begins with our traditional Seder the Sunday or before Easter. I love the Seder because it is a very special way to remember our Savior as we begin Holy Week.  Plus, I think of all our family traditions, the kids adore the Seder most of all, which makes my heart very happy. This year we were all sick but we forged on anyway, albeit in pajamas and with wild hair. For detailed instructions about how to host an Easter Seder visit our Seders past, HERE or HERE!

We only made time for one Spring/Easter craft (this whole working thing has really cramped my style), but I think it is adorable.

The Saturday night before Easter around 9;30, just after everyone had showered and gotten ready for bed, Harley reminded us we desperately needed to color eggs and since she is in charge, that's what we did!

Sunday morning the Easter Bunny came and I tortured the children by making them take pictures in their Easter finery, before partaking of our Easter feast, which for some reason, always consists of a  supermarket cake.  This year's was particularly precious!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Valentine Cards 2016

To check out cards or get ideas from Valentine's past click HERE.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nash Is A Poet

Today marks the 11th day we have NOT been in school because of the weather. YAY! for me, but alas tomorrow we have to return to a life of work and responsibility.  Nash received an assignment from his teacher during our little snow-cation to write a poem about winter or snow.  I just had to share his adorable thoughts on the subject.

Snow is cool. 
It makes us miss school.
It comes from the sky.
To catch it, I'll try.
I love snow,
Though it makes the wind blow.
The ground becomes white.
It's a beautiful sight.
Snow is cool,
But I kind of miss school.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Anatomy of a Virginia Blizzard

Our home, mid-storm, Saturday January 23, 2016

We haven't been in school for six days and it is unlikely we will return tomorrow or possibly even the next day. Why?  Because we were gifted 28 inches of snow and some around us were even blessed more graciously than that.  I know everyone out West laughs at the way the city shuts down, but that is probably because they have never been to the East Coast.  They probably don't understand the windy little streets with no shoulder.  The lack of wide open spaces and the abundance of people. The thousands of miles of road and rail tracks.  Just take my word, as a former Colorado-an myself, this much snow is really crippling and SO MUCH FUN!

Wednesday night Nash had a basketball game.  When we went into the gym there was a little rain falling, but when we came out it was snowing pretty hard.  There was only about 1/4 inch on the ground but the roads were treacherous. Scott and I were in separate vehicles and his truck could not make it up the hills and around the curves of the road near our home. So, the five mile trip from the gym to our door, took well over an hour and resulted in us ditching Scott's truck and him climbing in with me.  Now, this little storm seemed to panic all of the DMV (DC, Maryland, & Virginia)  because we knew something much larger was looming for our weekend.  Bright and early Thursday morning, I set out for the grocery store. I wasn't the only one. There was no bread and only 3 half gallons of milk left in the store.  I stocked up on our family's necessities, donuts and canned cheese, disappointed I was leaving sans bread.  As I was walking to my car, a bread truck pulled into the parking lot.  I can only describe the scene as bedlam.  It felt like we were in a German breadline at the height of World War II.  The bread truck driver just started tossing bread to the masses and women caressed it while weeping like they were truly on the brink of starvation and that loaf would sustain them for one more desperate day.  Mind you, the storm hadn't even started.  It was surreal. I got my loaf and convinced the driver to throw in a pack of hamburger buns to boot.  Next stop, Home Depot, for paint. I needed something to keep me busy during the long storm. It was equally chaotic and sad as I watched grown men weeping over snow shovels and ice salt, just like their female counterparts.
 Then the snow came and kept coming for 48 hours straight and it was beautiful and the world was so still and peaceful. I have never been so thankful for a cozy warm home, electricity that stayed on, junk food, fireplaces and Netflix.  We dug out sometime on Sunday and a snowplow finally, semi-cleared our street sometime on Monday.  The kids helped dig.  They built snow men, had snow ball fights, made snow ice cream, did a lot of sledding and drank gallons of hot chocolate, and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows in the fireplace.  They played together and fought with each other.  There was lots of laughter and a few tears, especially when Atley started comparing Nash's body to that of a Teletubbie. I got my living room and dining room painted. I binged watched so many episodes of One Tree Hill, that I can't really remember where my life ends and character Brooke Davis' begins.  Did I cheat on a Calculus test in high school or was that Brooke?  I honestly don't know anymore.

  Anyway, here are some pictures/videos of Winter Storm JONAS!

Today we made SNOW ICE CREAM:

8 Cups Fresh Snow
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
Collect Snow 

A few videos of our sledding adventures!