The purpose of our family blog is to share our life journey with family and friends. Our family consists of Ben and Barbara (married Dec 2002), Caroline (born Sept 2006), Andrew (born Feb 2009) and Dixie (our dog). We hope that you will enjoy following us and all of our adventures and mishaps!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Berry Sweet Birthday Party!

The theme for Caroline's 5th Birthday party started many years ago - back when I was a little girl and had my own collection of Strawberry Shortcake figurines. Funny to think that these are now considered vintage toys! Thankfully, my mom saved my figurines and Caroline has enjoyed playing with them at my parents house. Of course, she prefers the new "Sassy" Strawberry Shortcake, but I couldn't plan a Strawberry Shortcake party without including "my girls!" I think for many of the moms at the party, they brought back fond memories.

I really ran WILD with Caroline's 5th Birthday Party this year! The theme started with her mentioning she'd like a Strawberry Shortcake themed birthday party (the day after her 4th Birthday)!

I really enjoy designing my own birthday party invitations (plus it saves $). This invitation was super easy. I just googled Strawberry Shortcake images, grabbed the image I liked best, and added a border and text boxes - Quick & Easy! I then printed onto heavy card stock and bought envelopes at Michael's. Invitations: CHECK!

I started looking for decorations at Party City, Michael's, Wal-mart, etc, but only found slim pickings... so I turned to my "go to" for cute stuff - I was so excited to find a downloadable Berry Birthday party template from Dimple Prints that was "just what I was looking for" & the price was perfect (a steal at $10). From the printables, I was able to make a banner, lollipop sticks for the muffins, food labels, signage for the house, and even come up with a fun craft idea! Not bad for $10, eh?

So here are the details you have been waiting for -

1. The Welcome Sign: I used a printable from my awesome etsy find and then visited the Dollar Store for a 50 cent piece of posterboard, pink boa & ribbon. Total cost: around $2, and oh so cute!
2. I borrowed a friends cricut to create these super, cute berry friends (my daughter thought they looked like the Berrykins from the Strawberry Shortcake cartoon). I used this to embellish the banner I made & personalize the decorations.
3. I borrowed this idea from my sis-in-law (thanks!)...I picked up a bag of red & pink polka dot balloons from Hobby Lobby, and decided to just blow up the balloons and forgo the cost of a helium tank. HUGE HIT w/ the kids - they could toss the balloons around, not to mention they were great ground cover for the house and really added to the party decor!
4. I used our outdoor flag stand to hang extra berry pennant sign.
Want more details...I thought you'd never ask!

5. When the guests arrived, we used our playroom as the "holding room" - where the girls colored Strawberry Shortcake pictures while they waited to have their nails painted.
6. All of the guests received rose colored, strawberry glasses - another BIG HIT (Party City find)! We also had a Strawberry Shortcake movie playing in the living room.
7. In the dining room, we had 2 youth painting the girls finger &/or toenails. They really turned out cute! They used red paint as the base, added white polka dots and topped the nails w/ a green stem (Voila! strawberry finger nails for all).
My daughter is crazy, crafty (not sure who she gets it from (Ha!)), so I knew I had to come up with a craft for the party. Who says you can't have a Berry party when Strawberries are out of season? One idea I saw was to have the kids take home a strawberry plant, but since this party was held at the end of August, that was not an option, so we made our "own"strawberry plants - Much More Fun!! First the girls painted their own clay pot, then they took colored craft sticks & glued strawberry pictures to them and last, they got to embellish their pots with pink crinkle grass (Dollar Store find) and fun, berry stickers (clearance at Hobby Lobby).

In addition to making the strawberry pots, we also had a sack race using burlap sacks (borrowed) and had fun with parachutes. The kids also played on the outdoor play equipment. I even pulled out my sewing machine and made, adorable strawberry bean bags; however, we forgot to play the toss game (oh well! they were at least fun to make).

How yummy does this cake look? This is the recipe that my friend's grandmother made for me when I was a child. It turned out GREAT! I did use a strawberry, cream cheese icing recipe to help cut the sweetness.

Creating the menu for the party was very simple. I started off with trying to center the foods around the names of Strawberry Shortcake's friends, but quickly realized they were all "sweet, dessert" names and that wouldn't do! Instead, I just took off w/ the Berry theme! Here is the menu I selected:
Menu for Strawberry Shortcake Party:
Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jam Sandwiches (cut using Pampered Chef press)
Blueberry Muffins (decided to use the cupcake tower to display & add height to the table).
Strawberry Marshmallow Pops (super easy and so Yummy!)
Regular Potato Chips
Tray of Washed Strawberries and Whipped Fruit Dip
Strawberry Applesauce
Pink Lemonade, served in red cups with red fun, straws

Guests left with a good bag (courtesy of Party City) filled with all kinds of Strawberry Shortcake trinkets and candy.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our Pirate Gets Her Patch!

On April 13th, I took Caroline to a pediatric opthomologist (aka fancy eye doctor). We went to have her eyes re-evaluated after wearing prescription eye glasses for six months. Our optometrist suggested we go see Dr. Salit due to the fact that Caroline is so young and in glasses. Well, the good news is the opthomologist agreed with the optometrist's prescription (20/40 left eye and 20/60 right eye) along with a lazy eye (the right eye) concern. The bad news, the appointement lasted over 2-1/2 hours!! I wish I had a picture of Caroline's eyes when they were dialated - they were quite scary!! The prognosis from this visit was for Caroline to continue wearing her glasses and to patch left eye (aka the better eye) for two months to see if it helps to strengthen her right eye (aka lazy eye).

I wasn't sure how Caroline would take wearing a patch, but we were excited to learn that a company called Krafty Eye Patches specializes in getting children to "want" to wear their patch. I got online and with Caroline's help we ordered purple and pink patches along with glitter jewels (butterflies, hearts & flowers) and laser stickers. Caroline was so excited when her special package arrived!

This is not the best picture of Caroline but it does help to show her excitement. I'll have to add a picture of her with her patch on. She typically wears her patch at home, but we are open to having her wear her patch out in public whenever she suggests it (just in case at the 2 month check-up we find out prolonged use of the patch is in order).

Posted by Picasa

Preschool Easter Party

I was put in charge of Caroline's preschool Easter Party this year. Last year, I was the host for her class Christmas party so I was unable to reuse any ideas. I quickly enlisted the help of a fellow-mother, and together, we planned what I felt was a great Easter event!

I made a menu which included - carved ham, cross hotbuns (if you haven't had these google for the recipe, they are yummy), grapes, cheese blocks, apple slices, mini carrots, and for dessert...

I made Easter Egg Cake Pops. These turned out super cute and yummy too! To display them, I poked them into styrofoam and placed them in an Easter basket. The kids (and parents) loved them. Basically, cake pops are just crushed up cake with icing mixed in and rolled into a ball (an egg in this case) and then they are dipped in chocolate and decorated...Yumm-o-licious!

I was also in charge of finding a craft. I hunted the internet, but found that most crafts centered around the Easter Bunny, and the teacher requested that we focus on a craft that helped to spread the Good News of Easter! I found a jelly bean prayer cross on Oriental Trading that was perfect and a good price...until you add shipping which was more than the craft itself! So with my fellow-mom's help, we made our own. The kids loved dipping their fingers in the paint and hearing what each color represented. We also decided to turn the cross into a fridge magnet (we have ours on our fridge now). We are hopeful that the children shared the cross poem with their parents. Just google Easter jelly bean prayer if you are interested in reading the poem.

Of course, there was an Easter Egg Hunt. Unfortunately, most of the pictures did not turn out so great. It was spitting rain when it was time for Caroline's class to go outside, so her egg hunt had to be done down the hall in the nursery wing. It was nice that they had 2 hallways and probably 5-6 classrooms to use. There were kids and eggs everywhere! My favorite moment was when Caroline turned into the first classroom (until then all of the kids had kept to the hallways), and she yelled to everyone, "Come quick!, I just hit the jackpot!!!"

We ended the party with one of the parents reading the Easter story (in an animated Children's book). The dad chosen to read was so good with the kids and so expressive. Even Andrew sat still for the reading. Caroline was so proud to introduce Andrew to all of her friends, and Andrew loved being included!

Because we had a few minutes left before carpool, we decided to do a quick jelly bean relay race. It was fun watching the kids run as jelly beans spilled all over the floor - until one boy got smart and put his hand over the spoon (hey, we didn't say there were any rules)! Andrew enjoyed being the clean up crew for the dropped jelly beans :)

Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 2, 2011

Prayers from the Mouth of a 4 yr old

Last night at bedtime, after reading Caroline's bible story, singing every song on on our nightly list (and then some), Caroline began to say her prayers. They went something like this...

Thank you God for Mommy, Daddy and Andrew. And thank you for Nana, Papa & Gigi too. Thank you for my friends and please bless every one of them. Thank you also for the aliens in outer space.

Yes, you did read that correct...thank you for the "aliens in outer space." Ben and I couldn't help but chuckle! When I opened my eyes, Caroline was peaking at me through one eye which was partially opened. Yep, that one was added for total SHOCK value!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A House Divided

I am so far behind on catching our blog up to date that I have just decided to blog events, thoughts, etc that I feel will be a topic of curiousity or conversation when we look back on raising our kids. With this idea in mind, it hit day, Andrew is going to ask WHEN we knew he was a "lefty?"

Ben has grown up a lefty in a right handed world and I have an Aunt who is also a lefty, so we always wondered if our kids were more prone to being left-handed. With Caroline, Ben would always tease that he was going to ensure she was a lefty. He would give her crayons, forks, etc. in her left hand. Of course, most the time she would just switch the item back to her right hand, and I would *smirk at Ben! I can recall asking the Pediatrician many times, at what age or when can you tell what hand is the dominant hand. I was told by age 2, it is pretty much determined. At age 2, Caroline was declared RIGHT handed and joined my team!

Now the home advanatage was secure with 2 girls vs 1 boy and 2 right-handed vs 1 lefty. A few months after this declaration, Andrew came along. He was probably 8-9 months old when we started noticing that he used both hands more than Caroline ever did. But we also noticed that he sucked the fingers on his right hand, leaving his left hand open to grab his blanket, hold a toy, etc. By age 1, we started seeing more of a tendency for him to choose his right hand over his left. At first I thought it was just part of learning and exploring, but later it became more intentional. Right around his first birthday is when we started having him color at the table. If you gave him a crayon in his right hand, he would move it to his left. I also noted that when I was trying to teach him to feed himself, he would always switch the spoon to his left hand. Strange, I thought. Of course, I remembered what the Pediatrician had said when Caroline was young.

Well, now that Andrew is two is it without a doubt obvious that the girls no longer hold a home field advantage. Our house is officially divided 2 girls/2 boys, 2 right/2 LEFT! Ben has told me all about being left handed growing up in a right handed world. To be honest, I never really put much thought into the issue. I have since learned that statistically, it is beleived that only 11% of the world's population is left handed. Wow, I guess it would be hard to adapt... given that we, right handed folks, dominate the world and the ergonomics of life. I guess I am blessed and feeling much more confident, knowing that Andrew has Ben to guide him through the challenges he has ahead of him.

Ben's tips for Andrew so far include:
- Make sure we find him a left handed teacher for preschool (check)

Caroline's 3 yr old teacher, Ms Ginger is left handed - we'll definitely request her
-Make sure Andrew learns to play the guitar right handed or else he will have to always re-string a guitar in order to play it (check)
Ben can be his personal instructor
-Build up a strong left arm and practice pitching everyday.
Left handed pitchers are in demand in MLB :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Doing the Potty Dance!

Exhausted and tired after an awesome weekend spent with 6th grade girls at our church's Revolution Weekend, I literally drug myself to church last night. As it turned out, I was down for nursery duty in Andrew's class (yeah, me!) so we dropped Caroline off at Cubbie's and Andrew and I went to his class to wait for another Leader and his playmates to arrive.

Walking in the room, Andrew grabbed at his diaper and said, "tee-tee!" Purely amusing myself, I said, "Let's run to the potty." So we did. Once in the bathroom, Andrew pulled at his pants and tried to stradle the potty. To be honest, I thought I don't even know which method to use (I have never trained a boy). I also thought one of two scenarios were about to play out: 1) Andrew's diaper would be wet, and he was just letting me know he went tee-tee or 2) He would go before I could get him on the potty.

After I got his pants down and noticed his diaper was still dry, I set him on the potty and helped ensure there was not a soaker hose sticking out (if you know what I mean)! To my shock and amazement, Andrew tee teed in the potty! Yes, read that again, my baby boy, peed in the potty!! As the tee-tee was coming out, I looked at Andrew and he had the biggest, chester cat grin spread across his face. When he finished he clapped and then grabbed for the toilet paper. I had to explain to him that he didn't need that, but he could stand up and flush the potty.

As we both waved good-bye to the tee-tee, Andrew flushed the potty. And that's when I broke out in my potty dance! I could not have been prouder of him. For those of you that know my experience with Caroline - this was a MAJOR event!! We then left the classroom and spread the word about Andrew's experience. He was high fiving everyone - wish I had a picture of this!

Clearly, I am not saying that he is potty trained but considering we have not even started Day 1 of potty training, this was a HUGE step in the right direction. What Andrew showed me last night is that he is ready to start training. He was able to acknowledge he needed to go tee-tee, tell me, hold it and then deliver upon command -- would I have ever guess I would have experienced this last night, NO! I honestly woke up this morning wondering if I dreamed the whole thing. Thankfully, I did not.

While we will start working with him on this. I will commit to taking the laid back approach - Caroline's potty training days left me stressed, confused, name it. I definitely don't want a repeat of those days!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Excuses, Excuses..

We are all still alive and kicking. We have just been extra busy. I hope to get the blog caught back up soon. I will probably go back and do a monthly update to catch everyone back up. This week I am busy, busy with Andrew's birthday party! I still can't believe my baby boy is TWO. I will be sure and update the site with his birthday pictures as soon as we make it through his party this weekend.

Thanks for your patience!