Sunday, June 30, 2013

summa time

Let's NOT talk about the fact that June is over which means summer is half-way over because that's a huge mood-killer right there. Let's just enjoy the moment, shall we? And I hate to brag, but the weather could not be more gorgeous in Iowa right now. I think we've hardly hit the 90's yet. Today is a glorious 78 degrees. Am I making you Southern Californians and Arizonians jealous?? Well, let's rewind to May 12th when we were shoveling snow, shall we??? So there.
Ok, enough with the weather talk. Sheesh, I'm old. Anyway, as each summer has approached with my children, I kind of know that it's either going to be wonderful or not so fun, based on their ages. Last year Channing was a little peanut who would sit contentedly in his stroller wherever we went. I knew this summer would be slightly less enjoyable. He's 16 months old. That's kind of smack dab in the middle of my-kid-won't-sit-still-but-he's-not-old-enough-to-do-anything-cool stage. Not to mention the nap that has to happen. So we've done fun things here and there but its been really low-key overall.

 The boy LOVES water, just like his brothers:
 I think he's over it:
Bennett's last soccer game. He wanted to play goalie so he "didn't have to run so much". I can't blame him. Given the choice of running or standing in one spot, I'd choose standing in one spot every time.
Channing's favorite spot:
His first and last time as "Coach Jon":
These two. Oh my word, I wish I had a video camera following them around everywhere. We're so blessed with awesome cousins:

One day, when we were feeling particularly bored, I decided to pull a Kate Gosselin and let my kids paint each other with chocolate pudding. It was a huge hit. They thought I was the coolest mom in the universe. And actually, it wasn't all that bad to clean up. They rinsed off with the sprinkler and then went inside for a bath.

Dawson was licking the pudding off of Bennett's body the moment before he looked at the camera. Yummmm:

 Drinking the leftovers:
I went inside for a few minutes and came back out to this. And then I died because it was the cutest thing ever. I think I'm going to pretend its the 1800's and bathe my children in a bucket from now on:

And this is neither summer time nor related to this post in any other way but it'll make you laugh and laughing is fun. So here you go:

(If that doesn't work for some reason, go to this link:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Gruffalo Party.

A Gruffalo? What's a Gruffalo?

A Gruffalo! Why, didn't you know?

He has knobbly knees and turned out toes and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose...

Go get the book to hear the rest of this darling story by Julia Donaldson. It originated in England and Nana Judie brought it back for the boys after her trip there a couple of years ago. It's been a favorite ever since. I love doing parties based on children's books. So easy to come up with fun and unique ideas (and by come up with ideas, of course I mean search Pinterest).

The Invitation:

I used to create these. I have zero graphic design skills let alone any software to do it in. So this is my own way around that. Copy and paste images from google onto a white background, upload that to picmonkey and add whatever writing you want in one of their adorable fonts, then print it out onto cardstock. I know I'm reinventing the wheel here. I just have no clue how to do it any other way and this is pretty darn simple. (Please share if there's some kind of free site for this sort of thing!!)

Last year was the first year Bennett had a "friends" party and I asked you guys what in the world you do when you have lots of family in town and don't necessarily want to combine the two parties. Last year we did parties on two separate weekends but that was way too much work. This year I decided to have his friends over in the afternoon, leave an hour gap and then have our family over. It worked really well. I kept the first party to an hour and a half so we weren't totally burnt out by the end of the day.

We started the first party by letting them watch The Gruffalo on DVD. It's only about 35 min. so it was perfect and kept those crazies contained and quiet for a bit :) Have you had six 6 and 7 year old boys in your house at once before without their parents nearby? Holy cow. The volume was cranked and the potty jokes were rolling. I was thankful I only had to listen to them for an hour. (I used to think I would have made a great Elementary school teacher. This hour alone changed my mind on that. Ok...I'm mostly kidding. Mostly.)
This would all make a lot more sense to you if you've read the book, but nevertheless, Scrambled Snake cupcakes for the first party (made by Judie. That's a recurring theme here.) She and I did all the signs together.We got the fonts from and then just copied and pasted everything in Microsoft Publisher and printed on cardstock. Email me if you want my ridiculous, figure-it-out-as-I-go-along step-by-step instructions. Or don't. 
 A bowl of poisonous warts on the left:
 Applesauce with granola on top for Gruffalo Crumble (similar idea here):
We kept it nice and simple for the first party. The Owl Ice Cream supplies were on the left. Birch tree background painted on brown kraft paper by Judie. Scrapbook paper bunting is my favorite party decoration. Super easy and so fun to customize for whatever the theme. Throw in some logs from our log pile and a little moss for the finishing touch:

By the look on Bennett's face, you'd think this was a Rolex watch. Nope. A spinbrush. Score.
The thought of running organized games at a party makes me want to cry for some reason. So we stuck with craft time instead. Surprisingly, they got really in to the Gruffalo puppet making. (Phew...that was a risky choice with this bunch.)
"His eyes are orange, his tongue is black, he's got purple prickles all over his back..."
For the second party, we switched out the cupcakes for this adorable tree log cake (again, made by Judie): 

We did dinner for the family party. In true British fashion, sausage rolls became our Scrambled Snake (idea from here):
We kept it super simple with hot dogs and potato chips and carrots and dip. I just did not have much prep time at all for this party (we were out of town the week before) and even though I always want to make homemade sides, time did not permit. I was very thankful I let it go and took the easy way out. It was a big weight lifted.

My adorable niece, Piper, showing off the Owl Ice Cream:

We didn't watch the movie at the second party so Nana read the story to this enraptured bunch. I always do story time at their parties. Again, its my copout so I don't have to plan any games. 
Aside from the candy (from here), it was a little difficult to come up with stuff for the goodie bags that fit the theme (at least that I could find at Target a couple days before...). So just go with it:
Again, goodie bag "labels" made with a combo of Picmonkey and Publisher, all just printed on cardstock and cut out and glued on:

My niece, Quinn:
A gigantic THANK-YOU to my mother-in-law, Judie, who put in so. much. work. for his party this year. She is such a blessing to me and never would I ever be able to pull off such cute parties without her!
For past parties I've done, start here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

summer storms, birthday disasters and other random happenings

This post is going to be a catch-all. The junk drawer, if you will. A compilation of several pictures over the last couple of months that have no other place to land but here. So here we go.

I'm not sure how I got these next two photos to happen but I absolutely adore them. I'm sure there was some bribing involved. There usually is if everyone is smiling at the camera. I know I'm their mom but I can't take the cuteness.

Bennett had been begging me to buy cherries for a while so I did. And then I took his picture because cherries are cute. He lost interest in them after a couple helpings. And turns out I'm allergic to them. Boo. (Along with raw apples, sugar snap peas, weird all of these adult allergies I keep gaining. Anyone else??) So we're over cherries.

One night, driving home from my in-law's, the clouds were the most breathtaking thing I'd ever seen in Iowa. I put the boys to bed when I got home and I kept running out of the house to snap more photos as the sun was setting. This was the sky from every angle. I am sort of obsessed with sky- the moon, clouds, sunsets, all of it. It just never ceases to amaze  me. I'm thankful that even in the most un-scenic flatlands of Iowa, we still get to enjoy jaw-dropping beauty from our creator in the sky. (P.S. I just realized the East and South are mixed up. But I'm up too late and not going to go back and edit. Just had to point that out before my husband did ;)
Of course the boys weren't staying in bed and followed me outside. I promise you I did not tell them to reach their hands longingly toward the heavens. That dynamite pose was all them. You're welcome. I should slap some Bible verse on there and it could make big bucks in the art department of a Christian bookstore.

 I also didn't tell them to hug. Goodness gracious, they can be so sweet.

And then Bennett went ahead and turned six on me. Serious heartbreaker, that one. In my mind, that's the official "kid" age. We've left all the adorable baby, preschooler and kindergartner ages behind and now he's just a kid. A wild and crazy kid who thinks potty humor is the most compelling dinner conversation and who now officially has a "crush" on a girl. I remember walking past the big boy clothing department in Von Maur a few years ago. It made me so sad and I thought to myself, "I don't ever want to have a boy who fits into those clothes". Welp, like it or not we have outgrown every size that Baby Gap carries. We were hanging on by a thread with their shoes but no more. Big boy department for life. (I'm not ever actually going to have a son that shops in the men's department, am I? Please don't tell me that's actually going to happen.) 
Birthday week started out with the anticipated trip to the grocery store for the cereal of his choice. I love this tradition since it just stretches the whole celebration out longer. 
His actual birthday was on Thursday. I had visions of last year's perfect day in my mind. I love to do stuff to make that day feel special, since his party wasn't until Saturday. Well, real life intervened and it ended up being a total bomb. It started the night before when I was up til 2am. (Dawson had a horrible cough and couldn't sleep until I finally drugged him up out of sleep-deprived desperation.) I let the boys watch TV that morning so I could sleep in a little bit. I was already behind on sleep and knew I couldn't function on 5 hours (I know...I'm a wuss about my sleep.) So at 9am I came down to this: 
Dawson threw half a bag of Craisins around the room (birthday confetti??) and dumped the remains of Bennett's cereal bowl on the table and rubbed that around for good measure. (me: "Why did you have your bowl of cereal in the living room???" Bennett: "Because it's my birthday and I wanted to eat it on the couch!" me: .... Whatever.) Oh, and Dawson ate about a dozen hershey kisses and half a container of that store bought cotton candy. Why the H - E - double hockey sticks we still had that in our pantry is beyond me.

So literally our entire morning was spent cleaning that up. I suppose I could have quickly cleaned the entire mess up myself and just marked another tally in the "parenting fail" category (what's one more, really??) but in the moment I thought it was more important to have Dawson clean up the mess he made. And if you've never had a strong-willed child, then you probably won't be able to fathom the fun that was.

My mother-in-law had agreed to come watch the little ones while I took Bennett out for something fun, just the two of us. We got off to a late start and only had a couple hours. He really wanted pizza and I was wracking my brain to come up with a fun activity to do together and decided to take him to an arcade. Well, I drove out to my favorite pizza place near our huge mall and it was out of business. I drove him to a restaurant nearby and tried to talk him into something different but he insisted on pizza. Ok, Plan C....mall food court. At least I can eat Chick-fil-A. He got a meal deal with mac & cheese on the side and blue Gatorade. I gritted my teeth and said, "sure! Eat all the crap you want! Its your birthday!". (I didn't really say that.) He was thrilled :) Side note, Bennett's had a dairy allergy for a long time (used to give him terrible eczema and now usually gives him diarrhea if he has too much at once). I let him splurge occasionally and we just go with the flow. Sorry. That was gross.

So we hit the arcade after lunch. Genius mom didn't think about the fact that you need cash for an arcade. I had none. I also don't know the pin number to my debit card. We had to drive all the way to the nearest Target and make a purchase so I could take cash out.
Then back to the arcade we went, with about 15 minutes left to spare. The first game we tried was a two player game but one of the guns wasn't working. Bennett was yelling at me to shoot something and I was trying to tell him my gun wasn't working and then the machine was asking for more money and I put more in and then Bennett was yelling at me again and crying and I was trying to calm him down and it was madness. First born son is a bit competitive and was NOT happy he couldn't shoot the skeleton in the pirate ship. So 30 seconds and $2 later, we moved on to a couple more games. Well, Bennett was already so upset, I'm pretty sure those other two games ended in tears too. I'm not sure what he expected but it wasn't THAT. So in order to rectify a disastrous birthday date, we ran to Cold Stone for ice cream, asked a random teenage girl to take our picture and then sped home to relieve Judie. We should have just gone mini golfing. I could have at least let him beat me.

That night before bed he threw up. Happy, birthday, son. Your mom tried. 

We made up for it the next day. Jon took the day off work, Nana had the little boys and we went to our local amusement park, just the three of us. There were no tears and no barfing, so it was a success. 

Bennett rode his very first upside-down roller coaster! My heart swelled with pride :) I'm a roller coaster junkie but didn't even do an upside-down one til I was 11 or 12!
 This looks like more fun than it actually was:  
 Doing some kind of jig over the bridge:
 Free arcade games that didn't involve skeletons in pirate ships:
 Boys and their guns. Seriously serious business:

And that's a wrap. Party post coming soon.