Friday, December 30, 2011

Ballet Boots!

"I wish I had rain boots!" has been Ashley's near-daily mantra since Elizabeth opened her pair on her 5th birthday.

Grammy and Pop-Pop heard our littlest ballerina's plea...and Aunt Jennifer, Uncle Mike, Matt, and Erin came through with a matching raincoat!

And she didn't take them off for nearly 3 hours!
Now that's what I call Rain-Ready! ;-)

Canopies for All!

What's better than ONE princess canopy?
Why, TWO, of course!

Elizabeth and Ashley were THRILLED to receive one for each of their rooms from Grandma and Grandpa! Initially, only Elizabeth's was over her bed, while Ashley's was positioned over a fluffy round floor pillow. They both loved the floor pillow...but in true "monkey see, monkey do" fashion, once Ashley saw that big sister got to SLEEP in her "princess castle," she requested that we move her bed under her castle too! (See photo above!)

Here is video of the "big reveal"! :-) They were two happily surprised little girls!

Much of the audio may be unclear...but some highlights include:
E: "I'm gonna sleep in that! I'm gonna sleep in that EVERY DAY!"
A: "It is! It does!" (In response to Mommy's urging, "Do you think your room has one too?") "I'm going to go IN there!"
E: "It looks like the Enchanted Forest, too!"

Cutest Little Cow and Sweetest Little Shepherd. Ever!

Elizabeth and Ashley participated in their first Christmas Pageant at our church on Christmas Eve. Initially, only Elizabeth was signed up to participate...but, evidently, we neglected to explain that to Ashley. So at the first rehearsal, she made herself right at home on the steps of the altar with the rest of the participants. By the end of the practice, she had managed to score herself a supporting role as a cow! Again, we failed to inform her that stable animals typically do NOT play a starring role. So on Christmas Eve, you can probably guess who the ONLY animal INSIDE the stable was! (And don't even get me started on the PINK BOOTS!) Yep...that's our Ashley!
She even managed to gain the adoration/attention/caretaking of the older girls in the pageant. Mary and one of the wise "men" in particular. Don't think she didn't just eat that up, too! And I should add that, on the night of the pageant, she was a very convincing little cow! (Though, I'm not sure it warrants the reaction Peter gave while watching her 4-year-old counterpart take off his cow head and swing it around up over his head before wandering off to find his mommy in the congregation! That is, he poked me in the ribs and whispered--hopefully more softly than I remember, "That's right! My cow can out-moo your cow ANY day!" Easy there, Proud Papa!)

For her part, Elizabeth was very intensely concentrated on performing her shepherdly duties. For several weeks leading up to Christmas, she was elated when we would run across the shepherd passage in picture books and animated movies (even Charlie Brown Christmas). By the end of the season, she was retelling the complete Christmas Story in her own words (and some slightly paraphrased Bible verses) using her Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set. It was quite impressive!

Here are some highlights from the night of the pageant! (The angel is E's little friend Annabelle, whose family is visiting for the year from Michigan State!)
For the full story, please see Luke 2:1-20. :-)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Smash! Smash! Smash!

Ashley and I made Peter's Favorite Cookies this morning.

Well...that is, before I put the crumb base of the cookies into the oven and inadvertently turned the oven to "self clean" mode, only to realize a few minutes later that that burning smell was due to the blackening of the flour/sugar/butter mixture in the baking dish! YIKES! Tried to open the oven, but it was LOCKED, so I quickly turned it off and--after about a minute--the lock released and I was able to take the baking dish out. The cookie base is we'll just have to do this part all over again...but at least I had not yet reached the stage of adding the black raspberry jam, chocolate chips, and pecan/sugar/butter/flour topping! ;-)

At any rate, here is Ashley helping me mix the crumb base that would have turned out perfectly had I not ruined it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Candyland Party (Behind the Scenes)

I threw my last post about Elizabeth's Candyland Party up in a bit of a I thought I'd take a minute and post a few details about the set up and the party itself.

We were EXTREMELY lucky that the weather was GORGEOUS for the event! With a mid-November birthday, it could have gone either way! But it was truly beautiful!

Since the weather cooperated, we were happy to hold much of the party OUTDOORS! (Thank goodness we did, too...b/c 13 kids and their moms and a couple of dads would have been a LOT to cram into our lovely, but modest home for TWO HOURS!)

After leaf-blowing the yard (thanks, Pop-Pop!)...
...Daddy put up (and repaired some small holes in) the inflatable bounce house/slide. (No, we did not hook up the water feature! It was nice FALL weather, but still only 60-degrees!) This gave the kids a place to play and bounce and burn off energy! They LOVED it!
Then Grammy and I went to work putting colored foam squares down to make a Candyland game path up the walkway to the door.
I stuck my homemade lollipops (circular styrofoam disks from Michael's...wrapped in colored cellophane and skewered with wooden dowels) in the front flowerbed to create our "Lollipop Woods", and arranged the upside-down sand pails (spray-painted with silver glitter to give them a shimmering sugar look) into a "Gumdrop Pass" next to the walkway.

We also duct taped colored foam squares in a circle to create the "Candyland Carousel" game. (See below for a demonstration!)
I also staked out (literally) a spot for the Sack Race and put out some sacks that I purchased on clearance at the end of the summer from World Market! Woohoo!
The kids seemed to love it all...and the bounce house was definitely an obvious WIN with everyone! But I was surprised by how popular my simple little game of "Candyland Carousel" was with the kids! I just put on some music ("Lollipop, Lollipop") and had the kids walk around in a circle. When the music stopped, they froze on a square while I pulled a Candyland game card. Whoever was standing on the color (or special icon square) that I called out won a present to unwrap! Even after winning their one allotted prize, the kids still wanted to play the game! (I came up with this as an "indoor" alternative game, but ended up moving it outside since the weather was so nice! Worked beautifully!...see for yourself!) :-)

Candyland Crazy!

Our big girl is 5! FIVE!!!!

How did that happen?!?! I'm pretty sure it was literally yesterday that I was in the hospital excitedly and oh-so-anxiously awaiting her arrival! But it wasn't was FIVE YEARS ago! WOW!

To celebrate...we had a little CANDYLAND PARTY! it wasn't all that "little"...but it was her first "friends party" Mommy went a tad overboard on the theme! (In fact, I'm not sure whether I had more fun planning and preparing or Elizabeth had more fun at the party!) At any rate, it was a success and we all had a great time!

Here are some pictures of the actual party!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Minivan Madness!

We finally did it! Or, I should say...Mommy finally convinced
(sweet talked? guilted? begged?) Daddy to do it! We bought a MINIVAN!

And it's wonderful and fabulous and SO MUCH FUN! (See what I'm doing here? I'm trying to pretend that a minivan is just as cool as a sports car! Is it working??? Peter says NO.) But, no matter...I am determined to help him enthusiastically embrace this minivan moment in our lives b/c I know that this, too, shall pass...and before we know it, the girls will be all grown up and going to college! *tear* And, even he agrees that it was a smart purchase!

So, hurry--quickly!...before all the growing up happens, take a look at some photos of our new ride!
P.S. Bought this at CARMAX and it was the easiest car-buying experience EVER! Picked it out on the Internet...called to schedule a test drive...arrived at 7:30pm...drove out of there with our new car at 9:35pm! No hassle! A completely stress-free process that I highly recommend!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Prima Ballerina!

After months and months and months of watching Big Sister don her tutu and dance her little heart out, at long last, Ashley has her turn to SHINE as a ba-ba-rina! Today, she started real ballet lessons of her very own! Here she is before class, practicing her signature stretch-and-reach tip-toe moves!

She could not have been more excited, and she had no trouble separating from me and going right on in there! She had a fantastic time...even if she was the teeniest little wee one in the whole class (far right on the mat)! So cute!

Halloween Sneak Peek

Well...Halloween costumes have arrived!
So here it is: A cacophony of cuteness in the form of a sea turtle and a mermaid!

These two have cleverly dubbed themselves "Under-the-Sea Sisters!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First Day of Preschool Fall 2011

Just dropped Elizabeth off at preschool...again! (tear)
And, I have to say, it wasn't *much* different from the first time. Fewer tears--from MOM--but I am still going to MISS HER every morning! Elizabeth, of course, was just fine as always! We are lucky that she is such a confident little girl who is happy to go off and learn new things and make new friends!

To say she was excited, eager, and enthusiastic about her first day in her new classroom would be an understatement!
Within minutes, she was printing her own name on the sign-in sheet!
The only one of us who had a REAL meltdown was Ashley, who was very disappointed when it was time to leave Elizabeth's classroom...and she let us ALL know about it!
We think it's going to be a great year!