Sunday, July 29, 2012

Party People

So, are you ready for the longest post ever?  I hope so, because this is going to be a doozy!  The party is over and I can now breathe a huge sigh of relief.  I know that I always make a much bigger deal out of things than they need to be and you'd think I'd learn and stop the madness, but sadly I never do.  I did it again for Kiki's party and I could just kick myself now.  I decided in my mind that I went all out for her first birthday and now I never again have to do another party for her for the rest of her life...just kidding.   

I took a lot of pictures, but they really didn't turn out too well.  The lighting wasn't favorable and many of the shots I intended on getting didn't happen because I was preoccupied with other things.  Oh, well. Here's how it all went down...

The Food

We decided to keep it simple with our food for the party.  I forgot to get a picture of it, but we went with Haystacks (or as I called them as a kid, barnyards).  For those of you who have no idea what haystacks are, to put it simply it's like a do-it-yourself taco salad.  Ours included a buffet of chips (fritos and tortilla), black beans, rice, crumbles (vegetarian ground beef), lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onions, cheese, fresh salsa, guacamole, sour cream and ranch dressing.  We love haystacks in our house because you can make them just how you like them.  They were yummy and I ate probably the biggest haystack ever. 

I really went overboard on the party sweets.  I don't know what I was thinking, but everything looked so good and I couldn't choose just one thing.  So we had Mandarin Orange Cake, Chocolate Cupcakes with vanilla or chocolate icing, Maria's AMAZING sugar cookies, rock candy and lollipops.   

The Punch

I got the recipe for the punch I made from Pinterest and it was very yummy.  If you are looking for an easy, yet tasty punch, this is it.  All you need is one can of frozen pina colada concentrate (thawed), one can of frozen orange pineapple juice concentrate (thawed), 4 liters of sprite or 7-up, 1 bag of frozen raspberries, and a bag of pebble ice.  It really was great.

The Decor 

I know I've said it throughout the last few weeks, but I had a blast making the decor.  Crafting is my love language.  Kind of my way of showing the girls how special I think they are, so every little project had a lot of love behind it.  Here's where the pictures were a little dark, but you can get the gist, I hope. 

The Sweets Table 
 The Drink Station...I forgot to get a picture of this before the party, but we used the little mason jars.  I just loved them.  
The Presents
A little banner 
Really horrible picture, but you can see the doily garland and the favor table.
The favors up close.  They weren't much...just mason jars filled with a lollipop, stickers, markers and fruit snacks.  
The kiddos enjoying the spread.

The Guests

What makes a party, but the people, and we had a great group.  I thought we were keeping it small and cozy by only inviting 3 families, but that turned out to be 18 people!  I was so glad that everyone could make it.  Kiki felt very special.  

The Birthday Girl

The birthday girl had so much fun.  She loved eating a cupcake and opening presents.  She's so full of personality and I just loved seeing her eyes light up.  

 First taste of cupcake!
 I think she liked it. 
 Her hair was caked, with...cake.
Getting ready for a bath time intermission.
All clean and ready for more fun
She LOVES her sissy's horsey 
Opening presents!  
Everyone wanted in on the action
All tuckered out after the party!

So, that was the party in a nutshell.  It was tons of fun and I'm so glad we got to celebrate our little sweetie.  She doesn't turn one until Friday, so I have a few days to mentally prep myself for that.  Where does the time go?! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Party Girl

I'll post more about the party later, but I just had to show you a few pics of my (almost) one year old at her birthday bash tonight.  Doesn't she look special in her party outfit?  She thought she was pretty hot stuff.  She had an absolute blast and that makes this mama very happy. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Heart Nancy

So, I guess Mark could sense the sadness in my text when I let him know that the massage therapist had cancelled on me.   He did some calling around and found another place that could take me at the same time.  What a guy!  He found a place literally about a minute from our house, so that was amazing, but he did tell me to check out their website before I made a commitment, apparently the place is a wellness center and isn't your typical massage establishment.  This worried me a little, but I just laughed.  I understood what he meant when I got there and saw that this fellow was on staff...a bit intimidating, huh?!

Not Nancy

I stuck it out and I must say today's massage was one for the books.  Now, I've had a lot of massages in my life.  Some of them being rather, well...interesting.  After we first got married, Mark got me one at a Massage Therapy School.  The school part should probably have been my first red flag.  The guy who came in was about 6'5" and 130 lbs.  He was all wiry and creepy and he talked during the entire massage about Star Wars.  Let's just say that I was less than relaxed when I left there.  I've had a massage that I probably should have reported to the authorities when vacationing in Mexico.  I've even had a massage from a little person, but todays blew them all out of the water, but this time, in a good way.  My masseuse, Nancy, was the best ever.  I've never had a better massage.  There was one point when I actually said, "I love you, Nancy" under my breath...I really hope she didn't hear;).  It was THAT good. 

As for the cake, not so good.  The whole rosette thing didn't work out.  Oh, well.  I read more on some baking blogs and they said that the icing has to be a thick butter cream to work.  This cake calls for the lightest of icings and is mostly just coolwhip. It also has crushed pineapple in it, so it would clog up a pastry bag tip, so it was a no go.  To be honest, I don't think she'll mind.  As long as it gets in her belly, I think she'll be content.  

Well, I cannot wait to climb into bed tonight, so I better not drag this out.  I'll be sure to take lots of pictures tomorrow!  


No Massage for YOU!

So, I'm pretty excited.   Apparently, Mark sensed my stress lately and decided to help a girl out.  He got me a massage for this afternoon!  I couldn't be happier.  I don't remember the last time I've had a
massage.  Mark is even coming home during the massage to watch the girls.  Have I hit the jackpot, or what?!

Tonight I'm going to do something that I'm nervous about.  I'm going to attempt something that I have zero experience in.  I'm going to make Kiki's birthday cake.  Now, I've made this cake before.  It's a three layer Mandarin Orange Cake and is kind of a tradition in our family.  It is the cake that my mom would make for every one of my birthdays.  It's my favorite and I hope that the girls like it, too. I'm not nervous about that part.  I'm nervous about what I'm going to try and do with the icing.  I want it to look like this...

Picture from

The only problem is...I don't know how.  I bought a cake decorating set and I've studied some tutorials online, but I don't even know if it's possible with the the kind of icing I'm using.  That, coupled with my lack of experience, could be an accident waiting to happen.  Well, if it fails miserably I can always just smooth it out and make it regular.

Oh my!  Knife in the heart...I just got a call from the massage therapist.  She cancelled on me.  Wow, this sadness has hit me pretty hard.  I was really looking forward to that massage.  So close, but so far away.  Well, that's my luck.  Hopefully, my cake turns out better than my day.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Walk With Me, Talk With Me

So, I haven't been able to wipe the smile off of my face after watching the season finale of the Bachelorette on Monday night.  Let me just say, it was the BEST ONE EVER.  It couldn't have been better if I had written the ending myself.  I truly feel that those two can make go of it and I couldn't be happier for them.  I think you know Mark and I well enough by now to assume that there were a few tears shed while watching...well, your assumption would be correct.   I kept it together until they played my all time favorite Peter Cetera song "Glory of Love" and then I completely lost it...cried like a baby.  Like I said before, best one ever.  In fact, I'm genuinely sad it's over.    

We are celebrating Kiki's birthday on Friday evening!  We are doing it a week early because all of our friends will be out of town on her actual birthday.  She has no clue what's coming, but Rosie is beside herself with excitement.  She is constantly asking questions about the party...who's coming, what we'll eat, and if she can have Kiki's presents.  She's not loving the idea that Kiki's party comes before hers.  I have a very bad feeling that there might be a meltdown from her at the party...I'm praying that won't be the case, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Rosie amazes me every day.  She just adores books.  I read to her as much as I can, but she's fine with reading books to herself.  She's memorized most of her books and gets such a kick out of reading them to us.  I can't believe how she can repeat the books back to me word for word.  It's so sweet.  She's still a baby doll lover.  She can't get enough of them.  She carries them around all day long, feeding, diapering, rocking, burping, napping, and wrapping them.  She's the perfect little mother.  In sad news, she's decided that napping is no longer something she's interested in and that has been an issue for me.  Pray I can get that one under control.  We are not ready to give naps up!  

Oh, I almost forgot.  We have a WALKER on our hands!!!  Kiki's been taking quite a few steps this week and then this afternoon she walked right on over to me.  She's not a skilled walker, by any means.  In fact, it looks rather gimpy, but it sure is cute.  She's much faster crawling, so I'm not sure when she'll make the complete transition over to walking, but it was so exciting to see her go.  She was super proud of herself.

Her favorite thing to do these days is shake her head at me and say, "No, No".  It's really quite entertaining.  I've found a few things that just make her go crazy with giggles.  It cracks her up the most when I sing the "AHH, AHH, AHH" song from the Little Mermaid really loud.  You know the one when Ariel gives her voice to Ursula?  Well, she thinks that is HILARIOUS.  She just closes her eyes, throws her head back and cackles.  Love it!

She's gotten two black eyes this week from different accidents...both on Mark's watch...ha!  The first, she fell off of a step and hit her face and the other she hit on a little riding horse at the park.  Luckily, my friend Tasha had mentioned a homeopathic lotion called Arnica that prevents bruising.  I had gotten some a few weeks ago and I'm so glad I did.  I put some of it around her eyes in the evening and by the morning the bruises were totally gone.  The stuff is amazing!  It also helps with muscle aches and pains.  I rubbed it on my neck when it was hurting from working out a few days ago and the pain went right away!  If you are interested, you can pick it up at your local health food store.  Thanks, Tasha for the recommendation!  Kiki's birthday pictures thank you:)

Well, I better call it a night.  It's been one long day.  Mark had meeting tonight until almost 9 o'clock and I'm pretty beat.      


Friday, July 20, 2012

Wood Chips and Photo Shoots

So, yesterday morning I hadn't heard much from Kiki and was amazed that she was sleeping in so late.   I finally decided to peak my head in her room to check on her and let me assure you, she wasn't sleeping.  

Remember her mobile that I made?  It used to look like this...

Now it looks like this...

Apparently she jumped up, grabbed her mobile and broke it.  When I found her, she was gnawing on one end, completely covered in wood chips.   I don't know if it's salvageable.  Is there anything this kid won't eat?

This morning we got up early and ran a few errands around town.  On our way home, I decided to stop and try a new little bakery I had been curious about.  It was so cute and they had some amazing looking goodies.  I let Rosie choose a "treat" and she decided upon a peach cupcake with cream cheese icing.  I got the most amazing blueberry scone.  It was so light and delicious.

  Monroe's Peach Cupcake
 The Perfect Blueberry Scone
Rosie enjoying her treat! 

This afternoon, while Rosie was napping, I decided to do Kiki's one year photo shoot.  It probably ranks up there with one of the hardest things I've ever done.  She was all over the place, but I was able to get a few cute ones.  I'm pretty sure I have a few more gray hairs, though.  I might need an assistant next time.  I can't believe she's almost a year old! 

On a more serious note, please keep our Grandma Murrill in your prayers.  She's in the hospital tonight with some complications.  She's such an amazing person and is my most loyal blog reader:)!  We're hoping she'll be able to go home really soon! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I promise I feed her actual food.

I've been keeping pretty busy with crafting lately.  I mentioned I've been working on stuff for Kiki's birthday, but I've also been doing stuff for Rosie's party.  Why, oh why, were they both born in the same month?!!  I think that's why I've been trying to get as much done as I can now, so I won't be overwhelmed when they get here.

Rosie has requested a mermaid party.  There are a lot of great ideas for mermaid parties online, so I've had so much fun recreating some of the cute things I've seen.  I've even come up with a few ideas of my own!

 Yes, I'm nuts and I made tutus and hair bows for each of the girls mermaids.  
 I just love these shell tutu bows.  I found some identical ones online that were $9.00 a piece!  I made them for MUCH cheaper.  
Starfish Wands 
Look what I found on the clearance aisle at Target!  I just love it and I know it will be great for parties.  

I tried out a new recipe this week for a squash casserole.  It turned out pretty good.  Well, at least Rosie and I liked it.  I didn't realize that squash wasn't Mark's fav.  :)  You'd think I would have picked that up after 8 years, but somehow I missed that one.  If you are looking for a good squash casserole recipe, here's a link to the one I used.  Enjoy!

 Note to self for next time...that's too much squash to saute in one pan.  
The finished product.

So, Kiki has eaten three markers this week.  I try to keep them out of her reach, but somehow she ends up with them and it's about to drive me nuts.  I ran upstairs to grab something this evening and Mark stayed downstairs to watch the girls.  As I was coming down the stairs, I heard Mark say, "Well, that's not good."  And it wasn't.  Here's what I found...

Friday, July 13, 2012

A God Thing

It was the last day of Vacation Bible School today and I have to say, it was bittersweet.  It really has been so fun meeting with friends every day and having a place for the kiddos to run and play and learn more about God.  On the other hand, it will be nice to get the girls back on their normal schedule.  Hopefully, Kiki will go back to taking two naps again.  I'm so not ready to give up the morning nap!  I don't know how I would get anything done.  Oh well, no use fretting about that.  Here are a few pics from our last day...

 Blythe and Morgan (more members of the tribe of Benjamin)
 Kiki really made herself at home there.  Here she is playing the shaker during the theme song.
 Rosie girl playing the bells!
 Sweet Bryn 
Rosie and Kiki's completed memory verse plates.  They went every day so they have all five!  For some reason this makes me very proud.  I'm weird.  

After VBS, we decided it would be fun to take the the kids to Target to do some shopping and eat lunch in their little eatery.  BAD IDEA and I take total blame for it.  It started sprinkling as we were leaving the Church and by the time we got to Target it was full on raining.  I put Rosie in her raincoat and Kiki in the covered stroller and by the time we made it into Target I looked like a drowned rat.  I mean it...was...bad.  It really looked as if I had taken a shower in my clothes.  We walked (dripped) around Target until the kids were pretty famished.

When we went to order our food, there was one little girl working behind the counter who wasn't super efficient, to put it lightly.  It took about thirty minutes to get the food and things came out in shifts.  The kids were all going nuts by the time we were done and we (the moms) were about to pull our hair out.  The looks we were getting from those around us weren't super helpful either.  I've decided eating out with kids is a very close second to grocery shopping with bueno.  I was so exhausted by the time we got out of there that I strongly considered napping in my car right there in the parking lot.

As I was driving home, I was feeling rather forlorn.  Thoughts of how tiring and overwhelming motherhood can be were swirling in my head, when what darted by in a yard I was passing by, but the albino squirrel!  I felt like it was God's way of saying, "Hey Steph, I'm thinking about you, and you're doing a great job"... or it was just an albino squirrel.  I choose to believe the first.  

I'll never forget a worship thought that a beautiful friend of mine, Danielle presented when we were working at AHS together in Florida.   She read about a girl who had decided to choose a random object (her God Thing), that when she saw it throughout her life would reminded her that God was looking out for her and showing his love for her.  Danielle thought that was a great idea and chose a "God Thing," too.  I can't remember if she chose penguins or polar bears, but I'm pretty sure it was one of those.

She went on to tell about when she was staying with some family the night before she was supposed to run her very first marathon in Chicago.  She was especially nervous and definitely had the jitters.  That's when she looked at the pillowcase she was about to lay down on.  Guess what was on it?  You guessed it...her God thing!  Just what she needed to help settle her down for the night.  I think I've found my "God Thing".   I just hope there's more than one albino squirrel in this world.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears

I can't believe tomorrow is Friday!  This week has flown by.  Only one more day of VBS.  Today went pretty well.  Well, it was fine until we were supposed to go into the den of lions.  I was surprised that Monroe was actually considering going in the room, but Morgan grabbed her hand and she started into the room.  I couldn't really go in, because I was pushing Kiki in the stroller.  Maria was standing at the door and I asked her if Monroe seemed to be doing okay and she said that she seemed okay.  It was about that time that I heard the tell tell sound of terrified coming from the room.  I know the sound well.  Out Monroe came, crying and running to me.  Needless to say, we missed a big chunk of of VBS getting her calmed down.  It really stuck with her, too.  When she woke up from her nap this afternoon, the first thing she said was, "Will the lions come into our house and get me?"  Where does she get this stuff?    

Here are a few pictures from the day...

 Rosie and another terrified friend. 
 Playing "tail" tag
 Keekster's not afraid of anything!  
 She loved playing games! 
 Snack Time!

Here are their crafts from this week...  

 Roller Stamps
 The Hanging Gardens of Babylon...they planted seeds in each of the levels.  
Jeweled Boxes

Well, I better get to bed.  I was so tired last night, but my mind was racing and I didn't end up falling asleep until after 2 am.  I don't do too well without sleep...not well at all.  Goodnight!