Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy birthday to Luke!

I'm not sure if it's because I have all boys (and somehow have to offset the cuteness that naturally comes with girls) or because I just love parties, but around here, birthdays are go big or go home.  

Now, none of the parties we have are truly Pinterest worthy, but I know that the boys are spoiled non-the-less.  Seriously, I'm not short-selling myself.  To be a true Pinterest party, you must rent a hall of some sort, spend 22 hours on a fondant cake, spend $22 per kid on treat bags, make elaborate hats or accessories to match the theme of the party, decorate said hall in custom matching decorations that you bought on etsy, and take pictures of the occasion with your Nikon D-3100, all while looking perfectly put together.

Our parties don't quite turn out that way...
I do plan for months.  I spend hours on Pinterest getting ideas.  I make multiple trips to Hobby Lobby so I can buy items one at a time with my 40% coupon.  I scout out thrift stores and craigslist looking for accessories to match the theme of the party.  And I love every minute of it.

But I also...spend the entire night before finishing whatever project HAS to be finished before the party, spend more than we budget for it, get in an epic fight with Jason the morning of, and am lucky to get a shower (much less my hair fixed) on the day of the party.

I've been working on birthday parties since Luke turned one, but have never documented any of them in detail.  And in light of recent events, I guess I feel like I should.  My plan is to detail each of the boys' parties from this year, starting with Luke's back in February, just for posterity.  Enjoy the madness!

Birthday Boy Breakfast
We always let the boys pick what they want to eat; usually doughnuts or PopTarts.  I decorate the table with balloons bought for the party (from the Dollar Tree) and birthday signs that I wipe off and use birthday to birthday.

Nerf Birthday
This is the theme that Luke decided on this year.  Every party, I think "THIS ONE is my favorite ever."
He got to invite 9 friends, including his brothers.  I tend to have a hard time with this.  Who to invite?  Do I invite siblings?  What number is the "perfect" size?, etc.

Over the years, we've had lots of parties at the church.  Great for space, but not so great for decorating.  Your decorations tend to get swallowed up in the openness of the room.  And you have to deal with whatever decorations are already there.
This is Luke's present table.  Some years we do presents, some years we don't.
The yellow and blue coverings are plastic tablecloths from Walmart cut in half (and saved, of course, for the next party needing yellow or blue).  The blank banner was bought at Walmart and had Luke's name added to it by our sweet friend, Kathleen (thank you!).  I can take his name off and use it for other parties.

Party Favors/Team ID
Part of what we were going to do at the party was have a "war" with the Nerf guns.  I went to an embarrassingly amount of Dollar Trees to find the right number of sunglasses.  I had blue ones for the "Blue Bombers" and camouflage ones for the "Strike Force" team.  The boys divided into teams according to their glasses and battled with the guns.

Tin Can Challenge
I used a step ladder from church to make an area for target practice.  I taped leftover strips of crepe paper to make the space look cuter.  Kathleen (seriously, what would I do without you?) taped seven empty pop cans with blue painters tape to aim at.  I also set up our "Toy Story" army men for practice.

Target Practice
Yea, I couldn't think of anything clever for this part.  Oh well.  I typed out all of my signs and glued them on blue cardstock to make them stand out.  I used white posterboard, sharpie markers and red paint I had on hand to make the targets.  I took all my pictures with my hand-me-down Nikon D-50 that I am very thankful to have (thanks Dad!).

Luke's Birthday Party:  Enter at your own risk
I printed out 2 signs at put these at the entrance to the Fellowship Hall.  And I found orange cones from the church attic to add to the decor.  Score!
I LOVE crepe paper.  It is the poor mans way to decorate on the cheap.  This is one of those items that I make multiple trips to Hobby Lobby for.  Totally worth it.

Missile Munchies
The hit of the party.  I'M SERIOUS.  These were already half gone when I took the picture.  The boys gobbled these up before the chips, before the desserts.  Crazy!  Obviously, pretty easy to make.  Just make sure you get jumbo sized olives, otherwise they will split open when you put them on the baby carrots.

Deadly Dessert
Lamest birthday cake I've ever made, but it's what Luke requested so I didn't mind a bit.  This chocolate ecclair is a staple around our house and apparently Luke loved it enough to want it on his big day.  The small dish in the back is sans graham cracker for our gluten-free friend.

Nerf Juice
Once again, if I was a true Pinterester (?), I would have made labels to go around these.  I have done it in the past for other parties, but there just wasn't time with this one.
My one original idea for this party was the oranges.  I taped the signs to popsicle sticks and stuck them in cutie oranges.  They turned out pretty cutie. ;-)

Bullseye Bites
I needed a gluten-free dessert, so I went with Rice Krispy treats, of course.  I sprayed those round little dishes (you know, that Rachel Rae uses all the time) with cooking spray and used them as my mold.  Then I used premade red icing found on the baking isle to make the bullseye design.  Easy peasy.

Cheese Bombs
Cheesy puffs.  Enough said.

Agent Oranges
We studied the Vietnam War in homeschool this year, so most of the kids at the party actually knew what it was. I always like to have a fruit or veggie at the party.

more crepe paper, to hide the kitchen
I used this glittery table liner thing that I bought for Jonah's 1st birthday party!  I can't tell you how many times I've used that thing over the years.
And orange & blue plates, napkins and forks, of course.

poor Jonah
He just got shot during the battle.  You can barely see some of the cardboard boxes in the background.  I watched craigslist for days to get the size and amount I wanted for free.  The boys built forts to hide behind during the battle.

Daddy getting in on the action.
Each boy also got a small Nerf gun as a party favor.  They were $9.99 for a pack of 3 at Target.

The birthday boy
Doing a good job blowing out his candles.  It was his idea to stick the candles in the Nerf darts.
I also bought him an orange shirt at Michael's (with a coupon, naturally) and wrote "Shoot Me!  I'm the birthday boy."  Kathleen drew a bullseye in the middle of it for me.  A perfect addition to the party, I think (and alot cheaper than etsy!).

None of this would have been possible without these ideas from other clever mommas.  Check out their original posts: (this one has the invitations that I used.  So cute!)

Monday, June 23, 2014

First World Problems

I love having "first world" problems.  Deciding which cereal to eat.  Having so many clothes that I'm constantly doing laundry.  Waiting in a long line at Target to buy a birthday present.  You know, problems that aren't really problems because we're so rich and spoiled in America.  But sometimes we have first world problems that aren't as much fun.  Awful and terrible problems, but first world, none the less.  For our family, the next couple of days are filled with those problems.

Today, I'm taking Jason to do something that I never thought we'd be doing in our 30s, much less 40s or 50s.  I'm taking him to get chemotherapy.  If this is a major shocker, I'm sorry.  Here's the back story and I'm sure you'll understand why it's not exactly FB post worthy:

(Right before Jason's mission trip to "insert undisclosed high risk for Christians country here", he had multiple shots, physicals, etc..  During those check-ups, they found a lump in his testicle.  The doctor said he could go ahead and go on his mission trip, but as soon as he got back it would have to be removed.  He came back from the mission trip and had outpatient surgery to have the lump removed.  We left the next day for our preplanned trip home to TN.  While at the beach with our family, Jason's doctor called and said the lump was cancerous.  They felt confident that it was small, contained, and completely removed, but just as precaution, he should have more treatment.  After several more doctors visits and consultations, we decided on one dose of chemotherapy.  Which leads us to today.)

We are going to a cancer treatment center in nearby Everett and should be done before lunch.  He will have to drink lots of fluids, rest, stay away from germs and the sun for about 10 days to 2 weeks.  Stay out of the sun, you say?  No problem!  We live in Seattle.  See, first world problems.

Now on to me.  I've been having off-and-on pains on my right side for a several months.  Nothing consistent, but still not going away.  Two weeks ago, I started having the pain most of the time, every day.  I went to the walk-in clinic, got tested for several things, and had an ultrasound scheduled.  That ultrasound found that I had a kidney stone which lead to the scheduling of a CT scan.  I had the CT scan and meeting with an urologist on Friday.  Normally, drs will let you pass a kidney stone up to 5mm.  Mine measured 19mm. Awesome!  So...tomorrow afternoon, I'm having outpatient surgery to try and blast and laser the stone to itty-bitty pieces.

Thankfully, the cavalry (in the form of my mother) arrives tomorrow.  And thankfully, we have awesome church family, neighbors, and homeschool friends that are taking care of the boys, feeding us, etc.

And this, my friends, is what I will be thinking of while undergoing and recovering from my first world surgery...

From our recent trip to Orange Beach