Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Ultimate Star Wars Camping Birthday Party

It was probably June or early July when we started asking Micah what kind of birthday party he wanted this year. We gave out a few ideas and he came up with a few of his own. He had said Wild Kratts party again like last year until he realized Star Wars was an option. The hubster and I were secretly rooting for a gymnastics birthday since then we could rent the space, do minimal decorations and food other than desserts and the cost would probably be the same of cheaper than a home party. Micah considered the gymnastics birthday for a while, but really latched on to the camping theme and the Star Wars theme and in the end, he couldn't decide. So, we just combined the two. Phil is doing a big remodel project on our garage, so neither of us really wanted to host a party at our house again and thus we decided to go back to the site of Micah's first birthday party...good ol' Lincoln Park in a picnic shelter! 
Gramma allowed Micah to help decorate the top of her campfire cake!
We absolutely love Lincoln Park and it was the perfect setting for a camping themed party. Since we had most of the summer to think of ideas, we ended up with a whole truck bed full of stuff to unload and reload for the party, but it was still a pretty simple party to pull off. The only actual decorations I did were to pop up our camping tent and throw a Star Wars blanket inside, put dollar store table clothes on the picnic tables, and set up a cheesy cardboard Star Wars cupcakes stand that I randomly found last minute. I also super last minute grabbed a giant piece of cardboard, wrote "Camp Micah" in big letters and printed a few camp signs from google. 

Camp Micah
didn't even put any cupcakes on this stand, but it added to the decor a bit
As for the rest of the highlights of the party, I mostly have my mom, my mother-in-law, and hubby to thank! My mom made the amazing Star Wars kids costumes that we hung on a clothesline (templates found here!); my mother-in-law baked another stellar cake and cupcakes, and Phil ended up making the DIY light sabers (inspiration found all over pinterest). The only DIY projects I did for the party were the smores goody bags (I found Star Wars ziploc baggies and just added a "May the Force Be With You S'More" topper thanks to google images and Avery's free templates online) and the trail mix bar. They were both super duper easy. We just loaded up on snack items at costco and then I bought the same clear plastic containers at the Dollar Tree and printed out these cute labels from a pinterest find. I was pretty impressed that the kids did pretty well with managing the serve yourself bar, although I think an adult was always nearby. Of course the chocolate chips and M&M's were the first items to go, but I peeked in several kids' trail mix bags and there were a decent mix of other nuts as well. 
The light sabers before the kids got a hold of them
Smores to go with milk & dark chocolate
Star Wars stickers, tattoos, and nature scavenger hunts!
The amazing handmade Star Wars costumes thanks to Micah's Nana
The final product Camping Cake
We brought our own BBQ and did camping food: burgers and sausages with a couple salads. The kids were so happily occupied with the light sabers and occasionally with the nearby playground that we really didn't need to plan any formal birthday activities or games at all. I had already printed out a bunch of nature scavenger hunt cards and got mini clipboards and pens ready though, so before the end of the party, the kids walked around searching for natural items to check off. As if they were not already too cute in their costumes, now they were adorable walking around looking so official and studious...and they loved it! 
Enjoying the trail mix bar
It was heart warming getting texts throughout the day about how much our friends' kiddos enjoyed different aspects of the party and it was fun sending each family home with a smores pack, trail mix bags, and one of the costumes for each kid. All in all Micah loved his party except for the fact that the birthday party across the park had a pinata. Apparently Micah and one of his buddies were pretty disappointment with the lack of a pinata.  I had to chuckle when I heard that! I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of Lincoln Park!
Such a fierce little Rey!

Darth Vader and a storm trooper battling it out

You would never know by this photo that this is the cutest little two year old girl!
Gramma Jacquie & Gramma Susan monitor the first trail mix creation
The hubster manning the BBQ
so many choices!

A closer shot of my moms amazing handy work!

The twins loving the trail mix!

So fun having our next door neighbors join us!

Besties since SAS 2003!

So thankful our east side friends drove all the way out to join us!

This party was all about the fierce little girls!

the closest thing we got to a group photo! haha

Attacking the adults was so fun.

Birthday cake time!

I can't believe he's a four year old!

Add caption

Nature scavenger hunt time

I melt everytime I see these photos!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Apple Fest at Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm

Award winning hot apple cider in my belly, the cup warming my hands.
A cool breeze, sunshine, and intermittent rain.
The sounds of chickens, pigs, turkeys, and tractors all around.
Play spaces.
A petting zoo.
Kids zones.
Apple fritters and pumpkin donuts.
Bluegrass music.
Bins and bins of freshly picked delicious apples.
Giggles of children feeding the goats.
No apple trees in sight.
This is Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm in Olympia area.
Fall. Fall. Fall.
Oh how I love fall!
Apple Fest runs each weekend in October and was well worth it.
Our only regret...leaving without buying the apples that we came for! We got so wrapped up in all the fun of the farm and tasty treats, we plain forgot!

Cute play area for kids with a fenced maze

Yes, we are suckers and let him in the bounce house. It was empty and they had no time limit, so hard to resist!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Katelyn & Dan

I had the pleasure of being Matron of Honor in my little cousin's wedding a couple weeks ago. Micah was ring bearer along with his cousin Kate (almost 3years) and they definitely stole the show...that is until the stunning bride entered the room. I thought I would share my speech here, which will sound better when you read it than when I did (you won't have to pause for tears!).

I never had a little sister and on my mom’s side of the family all of my cousins are older than me, so having Katelyn as a little cousin was and is so special to me. Although we had the NorCal SoCal divide while growing up, our grandparents  gifted us with week long summer vacations each year with all ten of us. It was each of these summers that I truly got to know the amazing young woman that Katelyn has become. In our relationship, I’m not sure which one of us gained more from the other. I mean, I know that Katelyn gained a lot of super awesome hand me down clothes and Halloween costumes with a super special slit to reach the bellybutton and she may have learned about amazing musicians like NSYNC, but I too learned a thing or two from her. I learned that older sisters actually could be really nice to their little brothers and I learned about karate levels and color guard.
Katelyn and I were our Papa and Gramma’s special girls. And with Reid and Benjamin, we were the four special grandkids who would sing all the songs our Papa taught us , play Solitaire and Go Fish with our Gramma,  and go on adventures with our four parents and let them act like kids again. When our Papa passed away just months before Katelyn’s Bat Mitzvah, the four of us kids resolved to take all of our love and energy we had for our Papa and pour it all into our Gramma. Katelyn has been the one leading this charge.  It’s no surprise to me that Dan fell for Katelyn because she knows how to love fiercely, be loyal, stay true to her Jewish roots, and of course talk science and all things Comicon.

It’s kind of crazy, but I can’t even remember the first time that I met Dan because he was already such a part of the family and we had heard so many great things about him that we knew we already loved him! We were even more sold on Dan, the first time my husband Phil, my son Micah, then 9 months old, and I got to spend a full day at the zoo where 1) we got to know Dan 2)We saw how perfect Dan and Katelyn were for each other by the way they held hands, traded sentences, laughed at each others jokes, and spoke highly of the other’s activities, families, and upbringing and 3) we also got to see how good Dan is with babies *cough cough *

And now, Katelyn & Dan, as you embark on this crazy thing called marriage, remember to compromise. Compromise doesn't always mean meeting in the middle. Sometimes it means taking turns.

Thank you for including Micah and I in your special day. We love you!
Cheers to Katelyn & Dan!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Airport Goodbyes

My eyes meet hers and the instant I see tears collecting in the corner of each eye while she smiles and kisses me goodbye. I am seven years old again.

I'm seven saying goodbye for my first airplane ride by myself flying to see my Aunt and Uncle in San Diego.

In the same moment, as I give a quick kiss goodbye, as I turn and push the stroller down the jet way, it's like I'm thirteen again, going off on my first cross country flight alone to visit cousins in Cleveland.

I'm seventeen kissing goodbye before a month away at a Jewish summer school in Boston feeling like I might not be Jewish enough for the rest of them.

It's like I'm eighteen again, saying goodbye as my blond haired blue eyed tall and beautiful Mom with a capital M turns to leave campus for my first days "living on my own" at college.

Each goodbye so different, yet they all come flooding back in that same moment. Each time, the feelings hit me like a rogue wave as I feel totally unprepared for the emotional ride that is attached to those two little tears. Each time I'm ready to go to some new location or return to the home I've created with my own precious family. Then there they are, two little tears welling up in my own blue eyes and in an instant I'm smiling yet fighting back the unexpected tears, dealing with a giant lump in my throat.

As much as a mother and daughter may have their differences, there is nothing much like a kiss and a hug from someone who can read my emotions before I can. Those tears welling up in the corner of her eyes empathize with whatever emotion I have at the time. Nervous excitement at seven, complete nervous wreck and slight regret at seventeen, nostalgia at eighteen, and now tired anticipation at thirty three.

In an instant I am awash with appreciation for this woman who is so stoic and loving. I am flooded with emotions for this woman I have the honor to call my mother.

 Happy Mothers day Mom. I love you more than the Whole Wide World (or as Micah says...all the way to the Puget Sound).

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Shark Attack Fun turned Slammed Finger 31 of 31 #sol16

Tonight I struggle for which slice to write about. I can't believe that this month came and went and I actually went through with posting each night for the whole month of March! It was a very inspiring experience. I had been looking forward to it, but mostly because I knew it was the extra motivation I needed to prioritize time writing. What I did not expect was the new friendships I've developed because of this experience. Shawnda and Erika: This challenge was fun and easy because of you two. You both inspire me because of the amazing human and puppy mommies that you are, engaging and impactful educators that you are, and for the eloquent authors that I now know you are as well! Thank you also to the incredible women of Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life challenge and also your regular weekly posts. They inspire me as a writer and as a reflective educator. 

The kiddo and the hubster ran around and around the house.
I was listening from the other room where I began excitedly packing our suitcase for tomorrow's trip to San Diego and Disneyland.
The hubster was doing the silent creep, giving the kiddo time to run away shrieking and laughing as he ran away from the big bad shark!
"Raaaaaaaaarrrrr! I'm going to get you!!!"
Over and over they played this game, moving around the kitchen island, behind the living room sofa, in and out of all the bedrooms.
They entered the room where I was packing and although I was equally enjoying their moment of joy, I also quietly whispered to the hubster, "it's almost time for bed. Maybe it's time to start winding down now..."
He smiled and nodded, then pounced towards the kiddo one more time.

The kiddo raced out of our bedroom, closing the door quickly behind him.
In the moment of silence that followed I could hear was the echo's of his laughter and I could feel my cheeks, warm from the huge grin on my face.
"AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!" a howl wailed from just behind the door and the door opened showing the kiddo cluching his hand and screaming, tears streaming down his face. The hubster flew across the room towards him and he scooped him up before I could do anything. We both assessed the situation as the kiddo cried and cried, obviously he had smashed something in the door, but what we could not tell.
"Is it your fingers or your toes?"
Big sobs and wails were all he could let out. Eventually through big huge tears and cries and "No! No! No! No!"'s he squeeked out a little, "finger".

That's when we saw his left pinky finger with a puddle of red oozing up and a decent sized gash. The hubster and I locked eyes for a silent conversation through raised eyebrows and grimaces saying, "hospital? Stitches? Band aid? Ice pack? What do you think?"
I ran to look for the new Paw Patrol bandaids that the Easter Bunny thankfully had just brought. We patched up the gash and took a few more minutes of snuggling and crying before the hubster lured the kiddo to calm down with book after book.

As he got ready for bed and they began to read one more book, I stopped in to get my bedtime goodnight kiss and hug.
"Goodnight buddy," I said. "I'm sorry you got hurt tonight. I'm glad you're going to be ok." and he smiled and quickly responded, "It's ok mom. It's going to heal fast." And he was just as playful as ever.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Whales or Wake 30 of 31 #sol16

Today is a beautiful day.
As I drove away from one of my schools, I could see the water of the Puget Sound
clear and calm except for one line of waves.
I thought to myself, it's just the wake of a ship.
I repeated it over and over in my head.
It's just the wake of a ship.
Just a ship.
Ship's wake.
Wake wave.
Wave from wake.
Not whales.
It is not whales.

And my heart screamed back...
I hope it's whales!
Maybe today is the day!
Maybe today I finally see whales in the Puget Sound.
Breaching and spraying from their blowholes.
Playing and basking in the sunshine.
Maybe today is the day.

It's just a wake.
Today is the day!
It's just a wake.
Today is the day!

I sped across the intersection, changing my course for a brief minute.
I rerouted to get as close to the water as I could. 
It's just a wake.
Today is the day!

As I approached the edge overlooking the water as close as I could get.
My eyes darted to the long line of waves and my heart sank as the large container ship moved south towards Tacoma.
It's just a wake.
I let myself feel glum for another half a minute and then my eyes darted across the playful landscape in front of me. To ships, boats, wakes large and small. 
To the snow capped Olympic mountains.
My skin turned a bright shade of pink sitting in the warmth of the sun.
My smile reappeared, my heart felt happy again and whales or not, I was going to enjoy this weather!
There is nothing like Seattle area in the sunshine. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Scary and Spicy 29 of 31 #sol16

His legs and up and down and his energy is sky high and all over the place.
I lay down on his bed with Cinderella in my hands, ready to read a bedtime story and snuggle him to sleep.
"Is this one scary, Mom?" he asks with hope glimmering in his little blue eyes.
"No, this one is not. It does have a mean stepmother though."
As I start to read, I can tell he is still lost in thought, not yet listening to the story.

"Yes bud?"
"I like scary. I like scary & spicy!"
"Oh, ok bud. Scary and spicy. Got it." I couldn't help but let out a little giggle.
"So, do you want to go in the Ghost House at Disneyland?"
"No...I don't like ghosts."
"Ok. What about the Pirates of the Caribbean?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Ok, bud. That's fine. No worries. We can go on those another time."

I turned back to the pages of Cinderella, feeling even more giddy than he is about our upcoming Disney trip!

Five more days!