Tuesday, March 30, 2010

T's Birthday...Build-a-Bear & the Dirt Party!

Many thanks to my awesome sister-in-law for taking awesome pictures with her awesome camera. I'm perfectly content with my little point and click until I see B's pictures side by side with mine. I want a digital SLR.

The most egg-citing part of the dirt party…

3-28-10 136 Cascarones. Cascarones!!

George & Renae (Matt’s dad & stepmom) had just returned from Texas visiting Matt’s Uncle Jon & Aunt Terry. Terry sent along a dozen cascarones for each of the kids (and one for Matt, because she knew that he would say, “Hey, where are mine?” And one for Betsy, so she wouldn’t feel left out. :D.)

What are cascarones?

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The kids (big and small) had a WONDERFUL time. Our deck was slaughtered, and we’re all still probably finding confetti in our hair & clothes.

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Wow. We have some cutie kids in our family. In my humble opinion, of course. :)

Thanks J&T! We love you!

I have a fun video of the cascarones craziness…but I’m having trouble loading it… If this doesn’t work, check it out here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dirt Party!

Tobin 3rd Birthday Invitation
For T’s 3rd birthday I had so many fun ideas – I really thought we’d have a dinosaur party, since he’s practically obsessed with dinos right now. Plus we have the awesome dino suitcase…  But he wouldn’t have any of that business. Every time I asked him what he wanted to do for his party, he said, “I want to have a DIRT party!” So, a dirt party it was!

I thought the invitations came out Dirt Party 009really cute…and the cake was easy. I made The Pioneer Woman’s Best Sheet Cake Ever – just the cake not the frosting. Then I made whipped cream & cream cheese frosting (like is used on this cake) & frosted the cake with that. I also whipped up a bunch of extra whipped cream, which I mounded onto the cake to make a little mountain. I covered the whole thing with crushed oreo crumbs, added gummy worms, & part of our large and varied collection of construction trucks and Voila! Cuteness!

Dirt Party 004When I told Tobin what I was going to do for the cake (just that it would be cookies made to look like dirt, and that I was going to use his dump trucks), he made a special point of asking if the dump trucks would be full of dirt. Each kid (L & T, plus Anna & Ellery) got a dump truck or construction truck on their plate – they were very excited.

Super cute, am I right? And a VERY easy theme. Other than the invitations & the cake, I had sand Dirt Party 008pails for the kids** and they dug in the dirt/sandbox/rock pile in the back yard for an hour while the burgers were grilling, and the adults were gorging themselves on guacamole. Tobin has a shirt that has a dump truck & says “DIRT DIRT DIRT” on it, so he wore that :). Yay for easy party ideas!

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** The sand pails ended up being a bit of a disaster. I bought them when Tobin wasn’t with me – they were $1 each, and I thought that would be a nice addition to the theme. I got pink/purple princess ones for the girls, and a Toy Story one for Tobin – he got a Toy Story Bike for his birthday, and has Buzz & Woody boots, a lunchbox, he loves those guys. He should have been thrilled, right? Wrong. He wanted the pink one. 10 minutes before our guests were arriving, he was WAILING away in his room that pink is his FAVOWITE color!
Coming soon: The BEST part of the dirt party (hint: It’s egg-citing!)

I'm linking up to Tatertots & Jello!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More KC Adventures (30 hours in Kansas City…)

Kansas City 030After that we headed to our hotel to get checked in and settled. For dinner we headed out to Legends to go to the T-Rex Cafe, which was so much fun!! I’d been to the one at Downtown Disney when I was in Florida with my mom (for the Shuttle launch in May), but the boys had never even seen one.

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It’s basically the same design as a Rainforest Cafe, if you’ve ever been to one of those. The boys LOVED it – every 30 minutes or so, there’s a “meteor shower”, when the lights dim and flicker, the lava screen (which we were right underneath) goes crazy, and all the animatronic dinosaurs move and roar. I wondered if that would be a little much for T, but nope. He held my hand and said, “What’s going to happen??” (his standard response to anything scary), then said, “It’s OK, it’s just pretend!”

In addition to yummy food surrounded by dinosaurs (and $1.99 kids meals on Wednesday nights, which was awesome for us), they have a dino dig and mine for kids to play in.

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It was a great day!

But the kids’ favorite thing? Getting to sleep in the big hotel bed together:

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The simple joys in life!

(In case you’re wondering what we did on Thursday…it was pretty rainy and cold, and we didn’t take any pictures. We had the free breakfast at our hotel, walked around the Plaza a little bit – just long enough to find a great castle and mini-kitchen for Tobin on clearance at Pottery Barn Kids. Lucky I had birthday money for him from my mom!  Then drove through Chic-Fil-A on our way back to Lincoln – always a treat!!)

Spring Break Adventures…

Kansas City 046 Unfortunately for our family, the university and the public schools rarely coordinate their Spring Breaks. That means last week, Matt was in Colorado all week with college students & I was home with the boys, living our normal lives. Then this week, for Luke’s Spring Break, we didn’t really plan anything because we have college ministry stuff going on, and I didn’t want to take the boys somewhere by myself, and be away from Matt again. On Monday I was a little whiny about Matt getting to have all the fun while I was stuck here entertaining the boys (lovely, right? It even included the phrase, “It’s not fair!”, which I hardly tolerate from my children, but apparently I’m allowed…)

Once I settled down (and because my husband is very sweet and all-around AWESOME), we talked it through and decided to drive to Kansas City (3 hours away) Wednesday morning, spend the night, and get back in time for Real Time on Thursday. We didn’t tell the boys – we woke them up Wednesday morning, with their bags packed and already in the van. Luke was SO CURIOUS! (T was just happy to get to watch a movie in the van – he asks every time we go anywhere, but we only do DVDs in the van on longer trips.)

It was a great time, and really good to be all together and for the boys to get some daddy time after doing without for a week.

We spent Wednesday afternoon at the Crown Center. We had lunch at Fritz’s, where you order by phone and your food is delivered by model train (please imagine the excitement of our now-3-year-old!)

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Then we headed over to Kalaidascope, which is an AWESOME art studio next door to the Hallmark Visitor Center. It’s free, and they have all kinds of art projects around for kids of all ages to work on.

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They even have a puzzle maker – you draw on a piece of cardboard, then run it through the puzzle machine. T would have done just that all afternoon if he could have.

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The rest of our KC Adventure coming soon!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More crafty goodness…Fairy Princess Playset

So… Obviously I’m stuck in a land of boys. There is dirt, “bathroom” humor, strange smells, and it is noisy. Very very noisy. And there are no fairy princesses.

Last week after I made the dinoland playset for Tobin, we had such a fun time making it that I wanted to make another one. I haven’t gotten my nerve up to start on the giant Samsonite city that Luke wants to make, but I did get another briefcase from my awesome mother-in-law.

My nieces (Anna and Ellery) LOVED the Dino playset – Anna’s response when Betsy told her that I was sending it with Tobin to Grammie’s so the girls could play with it too: “I can’t wait to play with that! I’ve always wanted to be a paleontologist!” I thought about using the second briefcase to make another dinoland for the girls. But how could I resist the opportunity to make something more girly??

Here’s what I started with:
 And here’s what I’m giving to the girls (tomorrow):

It has a castle for the princesses (made from the popcorn box in the before picture):

And a little fairy hut and lake for the fairies to play in:

How cute is that, I ask you?? Matt asked if I was going to give it to them for their birthdays. Which are in October. Nope. It’s a just because present. An Easter present, maybe? Or just a “I needed you as an excuse to make something girly” present.

Now unlike our very large tiny dino collection, the girls don’t actually have any fairies or princesses to play in this awesome playset. I looked around, but the only little figures I can find are boy – army guys, knights, dragons, and all the stuff that comes in “toobs”, dinos, farm stuff, all the animals you could think of…. but no fairy princesses.

So…I looked around on Etsy.com, and found these awesome little flower dolls. I copied the idea behind them (hers are MUCH more well-made than mine, and bigger…I just used pipe cleaners and yarn, along with a little ribbon and some embroidery thread.) But I love them. Look!

Aren’t they cute?

I didn't really care for the first princess I made - she was too big for the briefcase, and I didn't realize how much the yarn I was using was going to unravel and get frizzy (I ended up looping it, then tying little knots in the ends so the 2 pieces that weren't looped wouldn't unravel.) Anyway...good thing I wasn't planning on giving try #1 to the girls, because Tobin claimed her as his own. He says, "I WOVE her, Mommy, she's my Anna!" (that's right, he named her after his cousin.)

p.s. In case you'd want to make one of these on your own...I followed Kaleen's tutorial At Second Street. She has step by step instructions and pictures of the dino suitcase. I basically did the same thing, just with flowers this time...

I'm linking this post to the weekend wrap up party on Tatertots and Jello!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

February #4: The birthday Boy...

If you can believe it, L turned TEN in February. I can hardly believe it myself, but he does seem so big and grown up all the sudden..

We didn't do a friend party this year (although we considered doing the dodgeball party from last year again, since that was super cheap and so much fun...) Instead, we had our usual family party, went out to dinner @ the restaurant of L's choice, and spent the day as a family (L got to bring a friend) at Coco Key, an indoor water park in Omaha.

We usually do a theme, even for our family parties (because I'm a nut. T's is going to be construction - when I asked him what kind of party he wanted, he said he wanted a DIRT party. Awesome.) But this year we just went with TEN as our theme.

He got 10 balloons:

And since 10 is a pretty big deal, we decided to do TEN birthday presents.

They were mostly small - 10 candy bars (two large ones that were $1 each, then 8 Reeses peanut butter cups that came in a pack for $1; a big canister of Doritos to keep all to himself - or stuff we were doing anyway, like his birthday dinner. The first gift, which we gave him at the party, was a pack of 10 coupons.

They were for things like getting out of a chore, an afternoon of time alone with mom or dad doing the activity of his choosing, an extra hour of media time, a family movie night, etc. He was SUPER excited about that gift, and has loved using the coupons - I should totally have done this earlier.

He loved all his gifts, but especially those with a Vikings theme - that will definitely be what I remember this year as - the year of the Vikings. He got a Vikings jersey from Grandma & Grandpa, a Vikings bean bag cover from Omi & Opi, and THIS from Aunt B...

She made it for his room (which is a sports theme), but it's still in the living room, hanging on the inside of the front door. As if it wasn't cool enough as is, look what's on the other side:

So it was an awesome birthday, and we are 3 years away from the teenage years (only 1 +3 months from middle school.) Yikes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

February #3: The Science Fair

Since he was in the first grade, Luke has wanted to participate in the science fair. It's usually on Thursday night, which is a hard night for us. Plus, it's optional, and as much as Luke is a great student, he also often likes the idea of optional things more than the actual doing of them. Every year we've talked about it, and decided that we just can't manage it, but last year I practically swore to him that he could do it in the 4th grade. So this was our year :).

We certainly had a wonderful introduction - Luke decided to work with one of the girls we carpool with, Alex S., and their friend Mary, who was in Luke's class last year. They did "Optical Illusions, Blind Spots, and the Eye." It seems like they really had fun gathering their research and worked well together. And as an added bonus, Alex's dad is a former 5th grade science teacher (current principal), and so he did an activity with them that he used to do with his students - he ordered cow eyeballs for them to dissect. That's right, COW EYEBALLS. They each got one to work with, and then an extra to have (parts of) at their display. Luke thought it was AWESOME, of course (and so did Matt, who was there for the dissection.) They did a great job, and the fair itself was very well run. Luke had a great time - because they did well, but also because they were judged relatively early and then he got to go hang out with his friends who were selling things to raise money for Haiti**.

* Don't you think it's funny that when I blog about Luke, it's science fair projects and athletics, and when I blog about Tobin, it's, "Look! He put underwear on his head!!" I think that about sums up the 2 worlds - school world and toddler world - our family lives in (not that Luke doesn't put underwear on his head too...)

** The fourth graders at Luke's school brainstormed in their reading class about ways they could raise money for Haiti. They researched and decided to sell wristbands that say "Help Hill Help Haiti", and popcorn balls from a local shop. So far they've raised $1,700!!

Coming next: February #4: Luke's Birthday!

Getting Crafty: The Dinoland Suitcase

OK. This may be my favorite craft project. EVER.

I got the idea from a competitor on So You Think You're Crafty, my new favorite website. Needless to say, she won that week. The same gal, the blogger from At Second Street, won last week with these beautiful hand trees, which are my next planned project. LOVE THEM. A version of the hand trees may show up as gifts at some point in the future, if you happen to be a woman related to me to whom I give mother's day gifts...

I had a lot of help on this project from Luke...He ripped the insides of the briefcase out, I cleaned and spray painted it, then he helped me make the cave & volcano out of plumbing sealant ("Great Stuff", got it at Wal-Mart for about $3.50), and he helped me paint the details. We dry brushed brown over gray spray paint on the cave & volcano & rocks, he painted the blue in the river, and we did the red/orange/yellow of the volcano together.

Over Spring Break next week, we have a giant Samsonite that he wants to make into a city/country scene for T to play with cars in. I'm already like that project a lot less, since it's so much bigger, and I don't think I'm going to like storing it.

But the briefcase dinoland? LOVE IT.

Here's the volcano...

And here's the cave...

Happy Dinos & happy boys. And a happy mom because...

The whole thing packs up and goes away...hopefully leaving the floor clear of spikey dinosaurs that hurt like heck when you step on them. YAY! Now if only I could control the Lego population...

The only things I'd change... I wouldn't paint the handle, the paint is still sticky there (it doesn't come off, but it feels sticky), and I'm planning on putting something scrapbooky on the outside that says "Dinoland."

Here's the tutorial, in case you want to make one yourself.  I basically followed her instructions exactly, excepting that I used a briefcase instead of a small suitcase, so my scale is a little less (used a nut can instead of a plastic nut thing; used a ziploc box instead of the capri sun box.)

I'll put up pictures of the giant car village if we end up doing it (which we probably will...I already cleaned out and painted the giant Samsonite...I'm less than enthused. But Luke LOVES it and is very excited to work on it. We'll see....)

In the meantime...I do think Luke enjoys Dinoland as much as Tobin does...

Monday, March 15, 2010

February #2 My favorite Valentine's gift...

Was actually not these beautiful flowers from Matt...

Or the Starbucks gift card & restaurant certificate he gave me (which we used on a non-holiday to avoid the ridiculous crowds - and because I refuse to ask anyone to babysit for me on Valentine's day. "Hey, since you're single, want to spend your Valentine's day taking care of my kids, so I can go out and have fun??")

I did LOVE my flowers, and having spent many a Valentine's day flower-less, flowers on V-day will never get old. (Have I ever mentioned that the years I worked @ TAMU were the worst for V-day? I never really minded Valentine's as a single girl - I love  the whole idea behind the holiday, I love flowers & red is my favorite color, so the decorations are fun. I always tried to make it a fun and special day for the people I loved, without really feeling sorry for myself. BUT. Those years @ TAMU, my desk was in the hallway right down from the elevator. So ALL DAY LONG ding would go the elevator, and here would come the flower guy with these gorgeous arrangements. ALL DAY LONG. I couldn't help myself. Even though I KNEW that no one was going to be sending me flowers, every time that elevator dinged, I thought, "Maybe that one is for me!" But the flower guy always kept walking... I told that story to Matt last year on V-day - and I'll probably never be flower-less again.)

Anyway, LOVED those gifts from my sweetie (and love having a sweetie), but my favorite Valentine was from Luke. That morning after breakfast, he asked if he could go outside. As it was still the worst winter of all time then, I asked why, and he told me, "Nothing you need to concern yourself with!" Exactly what his dad would say under similar circumstances, I might add...

There was all kinds of racket out there, and he finally called me out to find this:

(That's Grammie & Papa pulling into the driveway to drop Dudley off before church - he stayed with them that weekend while we were in Iowa with the McCs. I ran out in my pajamas to stop them from driving over my valentine!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Getting Crafty...Money Trees & Sucker Trees

So I've found a new obsession and time-waster. I know - when do I have time, in between taking care of two busy boys, and my new hobbies of baking & knitting?? Well, baking and knitting fall under this category, but mostly I've been trying to find some creative outlet. One of the hard parts of being a SAHM is the same-ness of everything. Almost everything I do (laundry, cleaning, helping the boys, even cooking. Certainly mopping the floor and cleaning the toilet...) needs to be done again soon. Or immediately. I'm very thankful for the chance to still be involved in ministry & have time for college girls, but there's also a fair amount of time that I'm stuck at home, either during the day or after the kids are in bed. And I just can't take a life that's all laundry and wiping the toilet again today....

But I do want to be productive in that time...hence the knitting and baking. And my new (or return to) craftiness. The obsession and time-waster is looking at craft websites for inspiration. Wow. There are some creative women out there. A HUGE number of them are Mormon, isn't that odd? (I'm sure that there are tons of non-mormon crafty-women, but they're not blogging about it. I'm not kidding, probably 95% of the craft blogs I've seen - and that's a fair few - are done by mormon women in Utah or Idaho. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just interesting.

So mostly I've been just looking at other people's creativity. But I did get some inspiration for the centerpieces for Linda's retirement party - I offered to do them, and wanted to do something using play money and/or dum dum suckers. Linda worked at a bank, and they gave away dum dums to kids who came in.  I found some gals who blogged about a kissing ball made out of book pages & that gave me the idea for these (I'd link to the kissing balls, or similar wreaths made of book pages, but I can't find them anymore...):

And then I thought I could do the same thing with the suckers, and got this:

 Super cute, yes? I made 3 of each - I gave 1 set to Linda, and we gave away one of the sucker ones as the prize for the trivia contest. That left me with one sucker one - which is being used as a cute spring decoration with Easter-ish stuff on our table right now. I also had 2 money ones, which don't really make much sense... So I spray painted them today, while I was working on another super-crafty project (pictures coming soon), and now I have these.

That's the same money ones - just spray painted and glitter sprayed (not that you can see the glitter in the picture). I'll probably do something to the tins at some point...but I like them simple as well...

I made some stuff for the house when we were first married, but once T was born, I fell away from that quite a bit (nursing and glue guns don't really mix.) I had kind of forgotten how much I love making things.

February #1: Grandma's retirement

Luke's Grandma (Linda McC!) retired from her job at the bank at the end of last year. Since Christmas is so busy for everyone, she didn't want to combine her retirement celebration in the middle of all that... So in February, we all headed to Iowa to celebrate. Jeff, Jeana and Joleen put together such a fun party for her, with entertainment and everything - Jeff wrote an awesome song/rap for her to the tune of "We will Rock you" and had the grandkids all doing the clap-clap-stomp part. Joleen had a quiz for everyone to see how much they knew about Linda (which her sister-in-law won and I failed miserably.)

It was a great weekend with the McCutcheons, as it always is! And as usual, the boys LOVED being with ALL their cousins.  Luke is used to all the fun at Grandma & Grandpa's, but Tobin is really starting to come into his own... This was the first visit where I let him really run the house with all the cousins, and he had a great time. Tobin still thinks all little girls are named Lydia (it probably doesn't help that a lot of his friends have L names - Leah, Lily, etc.), and Luke and Jonas are two peas in a pod.

We love you, McCutcheons!

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