Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Par-tay Part II: El Photo Booth

Oh boy. I'm panicking right now.

Just logged on to blogger and it all looks different. The old version beat me down on a good day and now the new version is all crazy and mixed up. Or maybe that's just me.

I'm now going to attempt to upload pictures, so hold your breath and hope that I return. 


If you have an internet connection, you've probably noticed that photo booths are everywhere. Weddings, parties, boring afternoons.

Not wanting to miss out on a trend {or even the possibility of one}, I thought a bunch of 7, 8, and 9 year-olds would love nothing better than grabbing a bunch of props and hamming it up for the camera.

I was right:)

Jackson isn't so awesome at wacky. He's best at serious and endearing. But this was a nice try.

The best part about a photo booth is that it takes approximately two seconds to set up if you have an especially junky basement {check} to gather up all the props.

It's like we've been specially storing our costume rejects for the very moment when we knew we'd need both a Darth Vader mask AND an inner tube! Luckily for us, they were both in reach.

Right next to the Darth Vader mask, mini top-hat, and leis. It's not disorganized, it's "party ready."  

This is where I should mention that the other key to great party pics and a fabulous photo booth is a wonderful friend who uses an actual camera instead of an iPhone.

And I'm blessed to have someone who has a super-fancy camera, KNOWS how to use it, and is amazingly generous with her time. {THANK YOU!!! big hugs!!}

Which is how she was able to shoot our Christmas card picture for this year:  


Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It's not with any pride that I admit Blogger has had me beat for a week. We battled over uploading pictures and it got so ugly that a dark side of my heart that I haven't seen for a long time almost longed for some scrapbook paper and a glue stick so I could create print out pictures, create a little page, mail it to Blogger, and force THEM to upload it to the blog.


But don't worry--I'm not missing the irony that the 8 month overdue birthday party also has some overdue picture reporting.

Common theme = ME :)

So, let's start with the part of the party that was most important to the kids...the decor.
In what can only be described as God's favor, red, aqua, and yellow were clearanced at nearly every party store. Whoo hoo! It was perfect for a boy/girl combo party.

Like most parents, I am a vocal hater of party favors, but I am a lover of party favor tags.

Backpack size Nerf guns for the boys.

Hula hoops for the girls. {I keep wanting to type 'hula hupes.'}

They are best used jump rope-style on the trampoline.

After we got back from the pool, some drinks were waiting...

The kids couldn't stop commenting on the cute signs everywhere and how it all coordinated!!!

One of my strongest gifts is copying things I see on the internet. Especially here. All of these signs were printables inspired by one of her featured summer parties.

On the menu: sliders, hot dogs, chips, and watermelon...all served in those adorable red fry baskets.

I'll never go back to paper plates again {until next week.} They are perfect for kids to navigate through the chow line.

And kids who have spent two hours at the pool are hungry with a capital starving.

All of the boys chose root beer...there is something very man-like about drinking from the bottle:)

It was awesome having Jackson & Lilly's party on the same crazy day, but we are blessed to have lots of friends and neighbors who are like family to us, so it was more like a wild family dinner with intermittent trampoline action.

This face is soooo Jackson...

And that is my girl with the ketchup on her face.

And of course, we had the cake:

Before last week, I didn't even know it was possible to pour a blue jell-o pool in the middle of a perfectly good cake.

It was definitely a construction triumph, from the baking point of view. Jackson and Lilly always get wild ideas about what kind of cake would be perfect for their party, and I'm supposed to figure out how to execute.

Again, thank goodness for the internet.

Yes, that is Polly Pocket sunbathing away the day on an Airhead raft, while being pursued by a snake. Chewbacca and the Storm Trooper are paddling/blasting each other by the water slide.

And the blue jello? GROSSNESS. But they loved it:)

"Tomorrow" I'll post the rest of the pics...including our fun photo booth.

Thank you for not believing me and lowering your expectations:)

Monday, August 15, 2011

What Else Would We Be Doing in August...

...besides having a double birthday party for two people whose actual birthdays are in May and December?

It was pretty awesome to have a pool party, sprinklers on the tramp, and water balloon fights.

In the past, it's snowed for our camp-outs, the yellow brick road has blown away, and I beat myself up for throwing parties 7 weeks late.

Lilly is definitely closer to eight than 7. But whatever.

God blessed us with an amazingly sunny day:) I felt the love.

I'm sure you're curious about the colors.
Red, yellow, and aqua. It was perfect.

The birthday boy was perfect, too.

And so was the girl.

But these people are nuts.

More details tomorrow :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Swallow Your Coffee Before Reading

So yesterday, I was vacuuming Jackson's room while the kids were at school, and stumbled across a little orange note scattered on the floor between a nerf gun and smelly t-shirt.

Before I share it, you need to know...

Lilly does NOT need personal space.

Or public space.

She likes to be touching, holding hands, snuggled up, scratching your arm, playing with your hair, close as a breath, in your space {which she actually thinks is hers.}


{I think they're 3 and 4 in this photo.}

She rode her scooter home from school today one-handed to free up the other one for some hand-holding with mom.

Lilly also loves her brother to pieces. Of course, that doesn't mean she treats him well all the time.

{As a total aside, just moments ago before bed, she was in a tearful fit..."It's like my brain turns off sometimes and then I say something horrible to Jackson and then it turns back on when it's all over. Why do I hurt Jackson with my words when I love him more than anyone in the world? I don't MEAN to, my brain just goes OFF."}

Oh sweet girl.

If Jackson should ever try something audacious, like stealing a moment to read, breathe, or think alone, Lilly can be immediately found in his presence.

{Disney World}

Begging him to play, trying to make him laugh, and using whatever persuasive wear-down tactics she can, Lilly will not let it rest until he angrily gives in.

The frustration in his voice explains that he's weighed the outcomes of joining her ploy and that playing whatever she wants is less painful than fending off her persistent interruptions.

Back to vacuuming his bedroom...I reached down to throw out an orange piece of paper, glanced at the handwriting, then vaguely recalled shouting up the stairs earlier that morning that Lilly should have "NO physical contact with Jackson whatsoever while he is innocently trying to read a book."

Lilly will annoy--through words, touching, or pen.

And Jackson's response perfectly captured his personality.

And then I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe.

Monday, August 08, 2011

I Only Hold Records for Idiocy

Friday was our third theme day of school colors/corny sayings. {As if having the Golden Retriever for your mascot isn't corny enough.}

But golden retrievers are faithful, loyal, friendly, enthusiastic, and fantastic readers--all perfect attributes for students.

I think we had to get RED-y to Learn!

Or something like that.

L & A rocked their Fourth of July wear--which is what you do when you go to school this early in August.

This included the before-school phone call to confirm outfit choice. Actually, it was a text. When did 2nd grade become jr. high?

Since we're not ready to surrender to summer, we celebrated the first 3 days of school with a sleepover.

They jumped on the tramp for hours, devoured grilled pizza, and even opted for a homemade ice cream sundae bar over a run for frozen yogurt.

And in one swift move, two nights of 8:30 bedtimes were crushed and exhaustion set in again.The girls cuddled up in bed and watched "Because of Winn-Dixie" {we carried the dog theme to extreme}.

Jackson & Zach watched "National Treasure," declaring it the coolest movie of their lives. Until next week.

Part of Saturday's unbelievable excitement included a drive-by of houses to check out the shutter situation.

Brad is determined to make the shutters, and I'm thinking that's not a great idea right now. He just finished up a summer-long flooring project, then cleared 37 power tools out of the garage so he can park in there for the first time in 2011.

And I actually had crown moulding next on the docket...NOT shutters. But we'll see.

So after those three days of black, gold, and red, today the kids could let loose with their own school wardrobe choices. Lilly grabbed exactly what she wore yesterday out of the hamper, which suddenly made me long for a dog shirt.

The kids were out the door at 9:05, leaving my day potentially filled with productivity and accomplishment.

That lasted until about 9:30 a.m.

Yes. Those are my keys. In the my car. With the doors locked. {AGAIN!!!!!} Attached to my water bottle, which will prove to be the worst part of the deal.

Arriving at the gym at 9:20, I slammed the door at 9:20:02 and realized my grave error.

Luckily, I was meeting an awesome friend, and she offered to give me a ride home so I could grab the other set of keys.

{Ironically, she is the same friend I saw two weeks ago while I was out running. I had gotten wrapped up in some music and found myself 7 miles into a run and not exactly near home. At a stoplight, I saw her car and I jumped in the front seat before she could refuse my sweaty self.}

In light of the previous rescue, I didn't want to make her drive me back to the gym. I needed to run anyway, so even though it was 95 degrees out, it sounded like a good idea to run 5 miles back to the gym incredibly thirsty, clutching a key, and starving.

My logic: wrong.

We had just finished barbell and I did it waterbottleless, so my mouth was already like dry-sponge. I was hungry, but didn't want to eat because eating before a run doesn't really go well for me.

5 mile run + exhausted muscles + heat + dehydration + sketchy stomach = "discomfort"

My arms dangled from my shoulder sockets like limp spaghetti and even my triceps were throbbing. {I know the tricep isn't one of the larger muscle groups involved in running, but that just shows my level of bodily distress.}

However, the REAL bodily distress came about halfway through when I started praying my entire digestive tract would be raptured.

I'll spare you any further details.

By the time I finally got home {at 1 p.m.}, my visions of productivity had been replaced with hunger hallucinations. I may have eaten cardboard at that point, but I do know it was delicious.

My thought process was a little blurry at this point, but I remembered I had a free Starbucks drink that expired today, so suddenly caffeinating myself seemed urgent.

Something about an iced coffee was surprisingly refreshing, but somehow my senses were still a little dull. Who knows where the time went, but I found myself racing against time and traffic to get home before school got out.

And Little Miss Sunshine got there at the exact same time.

And then I couldn't stop eating for the next 5 hours. And I'm STILL hungry.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


For all my tough talk about not shedding a tear, today was a little more emotional.

Even though time faithfully treks on each day, the beginning and ending of school years seem to punctuate life stages like nothing else.

School is just so defining...I still remember every elementary teacher in every grade. {High school is a little more foggy.}

In general, life rhythmically moves from one week to the next without significance, but today I could tangibly feel the pages turning. And while I'm excited for the next chapter, I really liked this chapter.

It is like the most wonderful story that you can't help but dread the end.

{I'm hopeful that explains why I cried THREE separate times in the latest Harry Potter movie.}

We had the most wonderful summer and I wasn't ready to wrap it up. Taking trips, staying up late, and having no scheduling conflicts except deciding which pool to visit were an amazing gift.

That said, I never want it to appear like we have this perfect little family that speaks calmly, lovingly, and rarely fights. Who eats healthy meals and all sit down around the table for dinner. Who tell enchanting bedtime stories and bathe daily and give generously and leave random surprises for each other.

Actually, we ARE some of those things, some of the time.

But we also have short tempers, issues with attitudes, eye-rolling, and razor-sharp tongues. Sometimes we do the bare minimum {poorly, at that}, and selfishness divides us. We drink too much soda, regret money spent, and have a basement that isn't fit for swamp vermin.

So I remember that it is a choice, {not denial} to see the small beauty in the midst of messes. I choose to cling to the hopefulness of trying but failing, instead of the repeated frustration that my effort was not enough. Again.

I LOVE having the kids at home for the summer.

And I LOVE when they go back to school.

I honestly don't prefer one over the other--they each have unique joys and challenges. But my contentment can't balance on whether or not the day suits my tastes. Contentment it is simply finding happiness matter what unfolds each day.

Isn't that what joy is? Contentment in anything...not waiting for the new/improved/better/finished this or that.

So anyway...

I'm working on that whole contentment thing...starting with being content that it will take a lifetime of growth.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

The wind tunnel of Parker has gifted us with some new to bi-fold shutters.

I think it's pretty common for shutters to break/bend in two while we're out to dinner.

But of course, it cracked me up that I couldn't get a picture of the damage without the rainbow in the background. Sometimes the Lord has to make the silver lining really obvious.