Monday, May 11, 2015

Everyday Miracles

Aunt Marci took Gabe on a birthday yesterday and he had the time of his life // arcade, dog park, art park, and Marvel Universe Live!

We didn't go away for spring break, but I'm not sad about it either.

We found this treasure in a most unlikely place // proof that silver linings exist.

Never gets old.

Another country party on the best street ever. Ever.

A beautiful night in the neighborhood.

Ari and I went on a mommy daughter date today. Of course, this means we rode the bumper cars repeatedly. Girl after my own heart.

No date would be complete without dessert.

Sushi date with my other best girlfriend // I could tell she didn't love the shrimp tempura roll, but she pretended to because she's awesome // she loved the spicy tuna though!

First full mani pedi for this beauty.

Trampoline dodgeball and boba date with this awesome little man // I have to admit that I was surprised by his dodgeball skills // and yes, I played from start to finish too.

St. Patrick's Day green smoothies got me mad props from my crew this morning!

Blue suede shoes.

Sunday dinner.

She loves animals...

Attempting to use up last year's frozen peaches before this year's overtake our lives // peach pies, peach lemonade, and peach smoothies are on the menu.

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Gabe & Ari’s Baptism

Gabe and Ari decided to be baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on April 11, 2015.  We were joined in witnessing and celebrating this milestone event by several of our closest family friends and family members.  I will always remember… the feeling of excitement – the “buzz” – in the air that day.  Ari’s squeals of glee at watching her brother get baptized and anticipating the moment when her time would come.  The love and support we felt from the people who attended.  Gabe and Ari’s happiness.  The heartbreaking beauty of their Aunt Chantelle’s musical number. 

I felt the spirit that day within the walls of a church, and I must admit, that I am the type who usually feels the spirit in places where there are no walls of any kind.  It was kind of a perfect morning.

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On Ari:  Dress // Zara

On Gabe:  Shirt // Gap, Pants // Gap, Tie // The Children’s Place

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On Ari: shoes // Salt Water Sandals, dress // Zara

Friday, April 17, 2015

Gabe & Ari’s Movie Night Birthday Party

I tell my friends and family every year that this will be the year that I scale back on the birthday party.  Now, I am by no means a pro at this, BUT I have to admit do get a little out of hand with the idea that everything should be made by hand and from scratch.  I have this idea that I want to stick within a budget and, at the same time, invite every friend that my child requests to be there.  In Ari’s case, the list is a combination of the kids her aide at school tells me are extra awesome with her and the kids that I know Ari loves and that have loved Ari for years.  So, if I am to invite 50 (yes fifty) kids to a birthday party for the twins, it demands a little creativity.

Birthdays are a special time for me as a mom.  They are a time to take pause and reflect on the years that have passed – always too quickly – and be thankful for all the time with my children and the memories that we’ve made together.  It serves as a reminder that their childhoods are so fleeting and to enjoy every precious moment that I can with them.  Their parties are also a time when I make up for lost time.  Life gets to be so busy and the weeks are jam packed with soccer and tennis and therapies and cheer and riding and swim and homework and dinner that we don’t get to spend as much time having as many play dates as we would like to have sometimes.  Over years of birthday parties – ours and those of other kids’ – we have had the amazing opportunity to get to know so many people in our school community very well.  At the parties, we parents meet, we reconnect, we laugh and bond and watch our kids play.  I get to know each child more each time and get to know a side of them that they don’t let out at school.  I know this is called community, but even the word community doesn’t seem to cover it.  It sounds too formal and not warm enough.  For us, we are extending our family. 

So, even though I may not get any sleep in the nights leading up to the party; at the conclusion of the event, I am always left with a blissful and satisfied feeling.  A glow even.  As I am cleaning up and feeling almost too exhausted to take one more step, my heart is swelling and as I reflect on some beautiful interaction that I witnessed as the kids played.  I am remembering how Ari took off in her power chair alongside her friends without even a backwards glance in my direction.  I am remembering how my kids and their friends laughed and smiled their wide-mouthed smiles the whole evening. I feel gladness remembering a heart-to-heart I had with some other parents.  I feel overwhelmed with such deep gratitude for the children that are growing up alongside my children and for the people who are raising them.  It is so good for the soul, I am telling you.  For Jake and I, birthday parties do that and more.

So, for me, it was well worth it to go balls to the wall with the cupcakes and bake five dozen of them from scratch and decorate them to look like movie theater popcorn.  I’ll make the soft pretzels from scratch while I’m at it and not read the directions when I start at 11 pm and it requires 3 hours of rising/baking time.  Why not use the abundant lemons on our tree to make fresh squeezed lemonade in the middle of the night too?  You see where I’m going with this.  It’s a flipping TON of work, and thankfully, I have had my sister to help me, because she knows me too well and she takes pity on me in my hour of weakness while I’m separating tissue paper poms and whatnot.  I can also thank a few friends for volunteering their time to snipping five hundred mini marshmallows three times each or dipping magic pretzel wands in two-toned melted white chocolate (the year before).  I am reluctant to accept help, so if I did accept your help, it is because I love you and I know you won’t judge me too harshly for asking you to tediously make food look like other objects.  Also, thank you to Harkins Theaters for donating the movie trays, because they rocked, and the kids loved them because they were authentic and I loved them because it made clean-up so much easier!

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I served hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls, soft pretzels, fresh popped popcorn, veggie cups, nachos, lemonade, hot cocoa, movie theater candy, and of course, cupcakes.

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Harkins donated the trays, which was amazing because the cup holders held two drinks, and each kid got to have their lemonade/hot cocoa/water bottle and their food all in one place.  I used color-coded tickets to represent each item that they could “buy” by trading in their tickets.  For example, red for hot dog, orange for nachos, yellow for lemonade, etc etc.).  There were ten tickets given to every kid.  Ten different colors.  It was kind of cray cray of me to do that, but the reactions from the kids made it so worth it!  They took that ticket system super seriously and darn near would not accept food or drink without “paying” first!

 

We watched Nacho Libre, because my kids requested it, and it’s hilarious.  It’s also only PG, which was a pleasant surprise when I saw it again.

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We let the kids run amok until the sun set.  Before the movie started, we showed a slideshow of the twins as babies :).

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I’m sure that we broke some trampoline safety regulations.

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I have a saying that I made up.  It’s “full backyard, full heart.”  It’s true for me, and that’s all I can say. 

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I am not always sappy and sentimental.  Sometimes, I can even be quite the opposite.  But birthday parties and times like these, I let it show… let it show… can’t hold it back anymoooore.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Everyday Miracles

I am getting my craft on today because the spring decor I like is out of my budget. I think the spray paint and hot glue fumes are getting to me though.

Flower garland for spring // felt is my new thing.

This guy scored the first goal that the team made all season so far (he wasn't at the first game). I am so proud of him, but he was beaming! He is growing up too fast. All too soon, he will tower over me like this when I'm standing up beside him.

New leaves on the fiddle leaf fig.

Shells for my friend.

Our beautiful one year old Paulownia tree is now taller than me.

Grabbing a spinach snack to go.

Vines have started their ascent.

My lunch date.

Field day fun // girls beat the boys in Bella's class 8-0.

Today was of the most fun birthday parties we have ever had! // Gabe and Ari, life is so full of joy with you two in it! // Movie night with "Nacho Libre", because my kids love to laugh.

Grateful for the wonderful friends in our lives // friendship is the best gift that we can receive.

A happy day in our backyard.

Chillin' and enjoying the female attention before the movie.

I would love him either way, but the birthday boy is growing up to be someone I'm truly proud to call my son.

It's midnight and we are finally cleaned up from the party // time for cupcakes!

The mud pie she baked almost looks good enough to eat.

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Everyday Miracles

My first babies are a big

kid age, and for the first time their birthdays are making me weepy and nostalgic // slow down babies!

Had a sugar-and-laughter-filled day celebrating my twins.

My girls are both daddy's girls and they don't share him very well // every girl should be so lucky to have a dad like him.

Nighttime game of croquet with the little miss // and what a beautiful night it was.

Everyone had a good time at the beautiful wedding of Noel and Daniel last night... even this little one who wouldn't part ways with the dessert table.

It was an overall great day in the garden.

Turns out, despite people telling me for most of my life, I was a "city girl" and "pampered", that I am a "country girl" and "outdoorsy".  So there.

Two peas in a pod hard at it // work around here doesn't pause for potty training.

Spring dinners outside are back on with this crew.

Where the neighborhood kids were after school today.

Rainy day birthday party backup plan.

Blossoms are the promise of wonderful things soon to come.  Popcorn poppin' on the apricot tree... and the apple and the peach trees too.

Baby sissy Marci.  My childhood home videos have been the evening entertainment recently.

Spring allows for after school neighbor play dates almost every day.

Getting back inside after a walk around the yard // so beautiful out, but it's nice returning to this cozy place too.

Ari participated in her first cheer competition of the year with AZ Heat Inferno. She stole the show with her amazing smile and enthusiasm! She was so happy to perform with this awesome group of girls!

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Sneaking Away

We only got to visit for two days, but it was worth it in every way. Disneyland is where we went for our three day weekend back in February.  We wanted to beat the spring break crowds, and while it was as crowded as ever for Valentine’s Day, the weather was perfect and so was just about everything else.

We spent one day at Disneyland and one day at California Adventure, and we got to ride most of the rides that were open.  Liam was just an inch too short for some of the rides, but we gave him an E for Effort.  He stood on his tip toes and put his arms up in the air in a vain attempt at making himself appear taller.  We had to rush around quite a bit to fit everything in that we wanted to see and do, as compared with our typical three day trips, but it was awesome to be spontaneous and just get away from everything for a weekend.

I didn’t take many pictures at all, because we had our hands pretty full, and I wanted to enjoy every moment without the distraction of my camera.  I am kind of regretting not taking a few more in hindsight.  I wish that I could have captured every magical moment.

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Liam was pretty brave.  He was content to go on every ride we brought him on.  Ari was the same, and she was the only one who wanted to ride Space Mountain with both Jake and I when we did Rider Switch.  Bella was the most apprehensive about the rides.  She reminds me so much of myself when I was her age, and I still get a little nervous on new rides or rides with big drops. 

Some of our favorite spots in the park were closed, like Liam’s Whinnie the Pooh ride/corner, the Grizzly River Run, and the Adventure Trail, and we didn’t ever make it on the Jungle Cruise, because Liam had a blow-out right in front of the ride just as we were about to get on it.  That was awesome.  At least we’ll get to laugh about it for years to come.  And we now have one more excuse to try to make it back again this year.

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We convinced/bribed Bella to go on Thunder Mountain Railroad for the first time this trip, and she loved it.  She said it was her new favorite ride.  Hopefully, she remembers feeling that way for next time, so I don’t have to repeat the whole convincing process again.

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We attended a Frozen sing-a-long, which was actually not really a Disney caliber experience, BUT my kids, and especially Ari, were so enthralled by it that it moved me to tears right then and there.  So it ended up being a true Disney experience after all, because you can count on Disney to, if nothing else, make me cry happy tears in ten minutes or less.

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Everyone’s favorite ride was Radiator Springs Racers.  It is impossible not to love it when you’re sitting next to Ari, who is squealing and laughing with joy the entire time you’re on the ride.  Bella, however, somehow managed not to love it because of how it made her butt feel when we went down the drops, so she blacklisted it.  Hopefully, she’ll forget for next time.

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