Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Week's Menu

I've got some bonfire experimenting planned for this week. We just planned our first camping trip for the season and it's for our longest stay yet. While we're still new at this camping thing, my biggest challenge is the food. I'm learning how to keep and cook good fresh meals while we're at the campsite. I've received some advice (and always open for more), and now I need to test it. And, I always like an excuse to build a fire on a school night. So, here's what we're eating in the kitchen and in the front yard:

Blackened fish tacos and mexican street corn
Turkey lettuce pita pockets, tomato and cucumber salad
Oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans
Bonfire philly sandwiches, bonfire potatoes

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bears, A Movie

My eyes teared-up a little when I first saw the preview for Disneynature's new movie. I'm dramatic and emotional like that. For a few months, Burl has asked for a real baby bear-one that can walk, wrestle, and sleep in his bottom bunk. We've explained to him why that's not possible, so he's focused all his love towards his teddy bears. It's a fierce love. He's also asked if he could go to a movie theatre. What better movie to anticipate than this sweet one

If you're having trouble finding the video, click HERE to watch it. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Farm Trip, Spring 2014

Given my track record with animals, I believe that our trips to Pops' Farm are a little bit lost on me. I'm trying to change and truly embrace animals, so I can allow my kids their own opinions to grow. They can be afraid if they want to, but I don't want that to be my fear they inherit. Plus, I get some good eggs and some good beef from these animals, so I should probably act more grateful. 

We made our first Spring visit to the farm last week. As it goes for any child, Burl and Fern love it up there. They have a list of things that happens every time that we go: feed the chickens and the cows, eat something cooked in a microwave and on a fire, collect eggs, dig for worms, go fishing, ride 4-wheelers, and get to stay outside for most of the day. I'm grateful that they get to do this, but I don't think I'll understand the positive impact it will have on them until they are older. For now, I'll wonder what this means for them while I enjoy watching them play farmer kids:

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Pirate Party

In the age of mom-wars and pinterest shame, I feel like a disclaimer is necessary. This was not a picture perfect party, but it was a really great, fun party. It suited my son perfectly, which should be the goal of any child's party. Everything inside of me loves throwing these types of parties, and directing games with the kids. The mother part of me wishes that I could sit back and watch and take it in, but the cruise-line-director-wanna-be in me gets a certain high from games and cake and hype. In no way is this party a comment on how I think everyone should throw a party. This party is based on my kid and my wild energy. There were times during the preparation that I felt stressed, but mainly this was extremely exciting for me. Shall we move on...

Burl chose a pirate party even though we never play pirate. He had an idea of what he wanted: red and black stuff (two colors that I don't really know much about) and dueling sword fights with his friends on our couches in the den. The couch part wasn't going to happen but better stuff did. I drew inspiration from one of my brother's parties when we were younger, pinterest, and my mom, who got really into the pirate theme.

We ordered a plain pirate cake, and we let Burl put the people and details on there himself. If you look closely, you will see a hockey player on there that he thought looked like a pirate. Kids are awesome like that. When I let Burl put the figures on the cake or take his shirt off for the entire party, it helps relax me and remind me that this party is for him, not perfection.

Next up, the kids and I built this really awesome cardboard pirate ship. I asked a local furniture store for large cardboard, and they let me have free access to their dumpster. I WENT DUMPSTER DIVING FOR CARDBOARD FOR A 4 Y.O. PARTY. I be crazy. We recently purchased some used climbing pads (for another crazy project) that served as the "water," which were fun for the kids to fall on. My mil let me borrow a huge pirate flag that she had, that helped pull off the look. To say that we were excited about this ship is an understatement. It.was.grand.

Most of the party was dedicated to the kids sword fighting and chasing each other through the ship and around the yard. To me, having family and friends over and kids running and playing is a little bit of utopia. 

Besides the sword fighting, I had three games planned that were perfect for this age:

1. Scavenger Hunt. I had a photo scavenger hunt for two teams. Basically, it started at the front door and went around the yard to end at the front door. My mom bought each kid a plastic sword that came with an eye patch (Oriental trading, I think) that served as the prizes at the end of the hunt. The kids did well with this. It was fast pace and rowdy and crazy and exciting, all things I love about a good game. 

2. Dig For Treasure. John buried 100 pennies in our little sand box and the kids gathered around it and started digging until we stopped. It was easy and the kids were electrified when they found their pennies.

3. Pin The Mustache On The Pirate. This was a classic game with a pirate twist. I dressed up Burl as a pirate and he made a pirate face, and I took a picture of him to use for the game. It cost $2.49 to have the 11x14 size printed and $1 for the mustaches. Now the mustache picture is hanging above his bed. 

As soon as the games were over, I wanted to do them all again but we went inside for cake instead. Burl's embarrassed face during the happy birthday song was so sweet. 

Once our friends left, we had some family time. We had dinner and opened gifts.

Since the family was there, it just made sense to feed them dinner. Like my counselor said, I love to be hospitable with food and that's not a bad thing. Shrimp bisque for the adults and fish sticks for the kids, because pirates. 

My kids love eating at a kids table, especially with their cousins.

By the end of the evening, Burl put his shirt back on and my sil took a family picture of us. We were all full and happy from the day we had and sad that it was over. Just like his mama, Burl started to talk about next year's birthday. Burl is stuck between wanting a camping birthday and doing the exact same pirate party again. We took that as a good sign that the pirate party was a good success.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Happy Birthday Boy.

Burl's 4th birthday party fit him perfectly. We had been throwing around ideas for months. From an exact replica of his party last year to camping to ninja to the final result: pirate party. I told him about all the games that we could play and all the fun we could have with each choice, and he choose something that he doesn't even play. 

To be honest, this boy would be happy with any theme. He just needs the basic ingredients: cake, loads of people, and some fun things to do.

I will make no apology for my efforts for this party. It took planning and execution. It was work. It wasn't expensive, but it took time. I like it like that. I like throwing parties for my kids. For Fern, our little introvert, I have to tone things down, but for Burl, the bigger the better. I love throwing parties and having fun and giving Burl some good memories.

He was so very happy the whole day, and it was so very worth it. His party was my favorite present that we gave to him. Tomorrow, I'm going to do a full post on his pirate party. If you need ideas for a cheap and fun party, then it might be helpful. However, for this post, I just want to remember the good, rowdy time that he had. He really enjoyed himself, and that was a joy to watch.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Compare & Contrast Backpacks & Lunchboxes

This video is mainly for me to add to my blog for my personal record. I caught them in a cute discussion as Burl explained to Fern the difference between a backpack and a lunchbox. I've watched it several times. Even though I'm probably the only one that can understand it all, I'll still share for anyone else who wants to sneak a peak:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Camp Melissa's Beach Trip

It was a mama-kid beach trip, but I called it Camp Melissa. The kids and I went to Grayton Beach last week with my friend, Melissa, and her son, Craig. We stayed at an old beach house that Melissa and her family have been going to since she was "in the womb." For her it was easy and nostalgic, but for me it was amazing. It was this beach vacation meets summer camp thing, and Melissa was definitely camp director. She wasn't the bossy or mean camp counselor, but the cool one that everyone wants as their counselor. She knew all the tricks-all the good places-all the fun things to do. I was constantly amazed and said on a regular basis, "Camp Melissa does not disappoint." 

Two ladies commented on our situation by reminiscing, "remember when all we did was take shovels and buckets to the beach and they played all day." Those are our kind of beach days and how fun it is to watch them play so much!

Highlights included:
bike rides to the beach (moms schlepping everything else, giving the college spring breakers something to gawk at-gawk they did)
outdoor shower
dinners on the screened in porch
playgrounds & food trucks in Seaside
Melissa's cheese & fruit plates
semi-warm weather and lots of sunshine
one heck of a fun ending.


Once again, Camp Melissa did not disappoint. Right before we left, we got a truck ride to and on the beach. We never went over 20 mph, so the kids were terrified and thrilled. I just loved my broomstick flying hair in the wind. 

Driving away from the beach is never easy, as it is one of my favorite places to be. While we made fun memories and got sun on our faces, we are already talking about returning. Another mom trip, family trip, or girls trip, we desperately want to get our beach on again!