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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Eleven Questions

Emily, oh Emily, why did you tag me in this?  I can't not answer these questions because then I'll feel like I have unfinished business.  

1. What is your favorite type of cheese?
Cream cheese!  I have a love affair with cream cheese, so much so that I have a Pinterest board called "Everything is better with cream cheese." Good for sweet or savory dishes, or anything in between.  And what other cheese can be made into a cake!

2.  What are you excited about?
cream cheese.  obviously

3.  How did you celebrate your last birthday?  
Hello, I already told you about my birthday.

4.   What is on your bedside table?
a cup of old coffee that's probably attracted some fruit flies, a bottle of water, an alarm clock, and a lamp.  Boring...

5. What do you order from the movie theater concession stand?
depends on the theater (some have full bar and restaurant) and what movie I'm watching.  If it's a chick flick with a girl friend then maybe a margarita.  With the kids it's unlimited popcorn.  If a late night movie then Starbucks.  

6.  Do you have a garden?  What's growing?

7.  Any summer plans?
to get rid of all of the fruit flies in my house.

8.  What TV couple are you rooting for?
Adam and Kristina Braverman

9.  What's the last thing you bought?
A flavored water for the hubs.  Well he bought it,  but then made me pay for it with my card, while announcing me as his sugar mama in the checkout line.

10.  What's one thing you are passionate about?

11.  What are you grateful for this week?
My husband who always makes sure I have hot fresh coffee in the morning,  Halle having the opportunity to go to camp this week, my niece graduating high school, visiting my dad, and spoonfuls of Nutella.

The rules says I must now tag eleven bloggers, but I'm not much of a rule follower sooooo I won't tag anyone.  Oh wait, I am a rule follower. 

 So Alicia, Crystal, Halle, Jessica (you have a blog so don't disappoint me), Suzi, Lindsay, Sarah Beth, you're it.  We'll round that up to an even eleven.

How doesn't your garden grow?

Bobbie, Bobbie, not quite your hobby,
How doesn't your garden grow?
With digging males and flooding spells,
And pesky weeds all in a row.

Bobbie, Bobbie, not quite your hobby,
How doesn't your garden grow?
With cilantro fails, and mosquito Hells,
And lack of Miracle Grow.

We had some vegetables grow in our garden.  There were some beans, cilantro, carrots, and squash!  Then life happened.  Rudi made the garden area his own personal digging pit, and Jack helped when he could. Our back neighbors also flooded our backyard with their sprinkler system for a whole week.  Combined with my general gardening suckiness, all we have is a big disastrous 4X8 ft mud pit.  It's so embarrassing I won't show pictures.

I will show you this picture, though, because Halle and I like to give Brian a hard time over this (and because I'm personally not responsible for this screw-up ;)

I used to have two very beautiful and full rose bushes in my front yard.  I was proud of them because we managed to keep them alive for over two years (a big deal for the Hargraves).  This is one of them after Brian [a digging male] "strategically and skillfully" transplanted it.

Roses are red, 
Violets are blue,
Until Brian gardens
And kills them for you.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

For goodness cake!

Warning- this is one of those weird blog posts where there's nothing but pictures of food.

My latest creative outlet: cake baking and decorating.  I've been on a kick, and my paleo diet is not liking it.  Fat Bobbie loves it, though!
chocolate cake and Peeps made to look like a sunflower.  I made this at Easter .

Sarah's "designer" birthday cake.  Leopard print on the inside.  Easy to do the leopard so it makes for a fun twist.

Ruby's birthday cake, with ombre layers

a gooey chocolate Iron Man cake for Crystal after her race.  triple layered of course.

I'm not the only one that's been in the kitchen.....  Brian made this yummy cake for Mother's Day.  He concocted a peanut butter frosting that was delicious!
A chocolate strawberry cake Halle made today, just because

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My birthday and Mother's Day.

33.  Thirty-three!  I can't believe I'm 33 years old.  I am enjoying my thirties more than my twenties, though, minus the fine lines and wrinkles.  Darn gravity and sun!

We kept my birthday simple this year.  It was a busy day.  We dropped Halle off at a babysitting class and then spent the morning with Arden at her first swim meet.

Halle and I went shopping after her class so I could find something to wear for the evening.  I tell ya, she's a tough critic!  I tried on just about everything in Francesca's, but she didn't like much of it on me.  She was honest with her opinions, lol.  At least you know to trust her.  She likes modest dressing; especially on me.  Too short, too tight, too low-cut.... she was sure to let me know!  Without me prompting her, "You don't have to worry about me not dressing conservative as a teenager."  bahahahaha!  I'm going to hold her to that statement.  :) So I settled on a pair of classic white shorts and black top.  

We went to Swanny's for dinner.  It was the Muses, Greens, Vowells, and Hargraves.  Swanny's is an outdoor restaurant that's a part of Swanson's golf center. We like it because it has a playground for the kids, is laid back, and they usually have music.  Plus it's owned by a family that lives in our neighborhood.  Saturday is karaoke night, so I thought it would be fun!  Brian and Crystal both got up and sang.  All of the kids sang, too. We heard Frozen's "Let it go" about twenty times that night.  Our kids sang it about five of those twenty.  A young boys team of baseball players got up and sang it, too.  We needed to thaw out by the end of the night.

I got some great gifts!!!  Clothes, facial gift certificate, new purse, cake decorating tools, new Ninja blender, and more!  It was a nice low-key birthday.  Arden made me a sweet birthday card and Halle made me a coffee mug, heart, and flower with her Krazy loom.  Jakob played the birthday song for me on his guitar. Crystal wrote me a crazy cute poem.  :)

My birthday cake.  look at all of those candles!!!!!  Yep, I burned my hair while I was blowing them out.

The next day was Mother's Day.  I did exactly what I wanted to do on Mother's Day: lay in bed uninterrupted until the late morning, and a little more shopping.  Brian made breakfast and cleaned the house.  Halle and I visited my mom that evening.

Halle made me a really sweet gift.  She put a photo collage together and framed it.

Age-old questions

I mentioned in a previous post that Arden has lots of questions about God and heaven.  She's trying really hard to understand.  Here's some of her questions.  We had a good thirty minute conversation as I was answering question after question.  She was firing them at me one right after another.  I love that she has all of these questions!

"Why doesn't everybody go to heaven?"
"Will I be able to see Jesus when I die since he's a spirit and you can't see spirits?
"I know Jesus died on the cross for our sins so we can go to heaven, but what is a sin?"
"How does Jesus take away my sins?"
"Why did the mean soldiers kill Jesus?"
"Does Granny know everything now that she's in heaven?  Can she see everything? Does she know everything like God now?"
"How is Jesus also God and God is the father, and then there's a spirit [Holy spirit]?
My personal favorite:
"How can Jesus be God's son?  Fathers don't have babies in their bellies."

Then I like how Halle chimes in and explains it in preschool terms.  In response to the first question, Halle tells Arden that it's kind of like when Arden only lets her best friends into her room and no one else can come in.

Then, in concordance with a preschool mind, she shifts gears suddenly.  "Why are all the others planets, but Pluto is not a planet?"  So we're off to the next topic and another slew of questions.......  :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rainbow Painting Party!

outfit made by Aunt Sarah and me.  She dyed the eyelet lace each color and did the sewing.  I made the crochet flowers on her shirt and headband.
I love rainbows.  So does Arden.  I love painting.  So does Arden!  We had fun with her fifth birthday rainbow-colored painting party.  My most viewed blog posts are my party posts; when people Google dolphin, puppy, or favorite things party ideas, my blog pops up.  I hope to give that random person some ease in their own party planning (if they are searching rainbow party themes) by providing my resources, tips, and tricks..  I'll tell you where I found my items and the price.  I price-matched a lot since there was so much preparation in this party.

It was a bit of a booger, but still a lot of fun to plan!

My favorite stores to shop at for party supplies are (in this order) Dollar Tree, King Dollar, 99 Cents Store, Hobby Lobby, and Walmart.  I used to shop a lot on Oriental Trading, but find that they are a little pricey now, plus you have to pay shipping if your order is small.  I also frequently check Amazon, Michaels, and Joanns Fabrics because sometimes they have good deals.  Dollar Tree has a good selection of table cloths, foam board, craft stuff, and plastic utensils.  King Dollar has great serving trays and bowls.

Rainbow problems:
The biggest annoyance of this party was finding the correct colors of the rainbow.
PINK-In an effort to girly-fy rainbows, many toys, party items, and outfit manufacturers replace the red with pink.  Or sometimes they replace the purple with pink.   Or they add pink just somewhere in the middle. Ugh, PINK does not belong in a rainbow!  Didn't they learn Roy G. Biv?!

Sometimes they do the same with blue and torquoise.  Also one rainbow might have dark green and another has lime green.  First world problem, I know.  On the other hand, I personally think Indigo as a main color of the rainbow is debatable.  It just doesn't make sense.  I think it was just thrown in there to give Roy an easy last name.  My Roy is Latin:  Roy G. Bv.  One last problem you might find is finding one of something in every color that you need. For example, did you know most stores don't sell orange tablecloths unless it's Halloween?

We had our party in a community room at a local park.  I wasn't allowed to tape or hang anything from the walls.  As a result this is my cake table setup.  The balloons are anchored by soda pop bottles.  I couldn't find blue and purple soda so I poured out the existing colors and replaced them with colored water.

Helium balloons:  Most places charge $1 per balloon to blow up.  I got mine from Kroger the morning of the party.
Tissue paper for the poms:  Hobby Lobby value pack has all of the colors and then some.  With the 40%  coupon it was $3.60, cheaper than buying the individual colors from the dollar store.
Table cloths were purchased from the Dollar Store or Walmart for $1 each.  Except the orange.  I found it at Michaels.
Streamers: Party City has them the cheapest at $.89 each
Cake Stand: a large white dinner plate set on top of an upside down metal red tin.  In the past I've glued a plate onto a candle holder with E6000, but glue wasn't necessary this time.  The weight of the cake kept it steady.  Don't take my word for it, though.  If glue makes you more comfortable, then use it!  I didn't want to ruin my plate this time, though.

Rainbow cupcakes.  The rainbows are Rainbow Airheads.  Each cupcake has half of an Airhead strip. I was able to decorate these six cupcakes and wrap the bottom of the main cake with one package of Airheads.  See the mini rainbow swirl lollipop next to the cupcakes?  Found those 6/$1 at the 99 cents store.  And the lollipops had all six colors (you can't tell from this picture but it does)! Some lollipop brands don't.  tip: Pipe the clouds before you stick in the Airhead.
Table Scatter: I saved the scrap tissue paper from the poms that I made and stored them in a sandwich baggie to be used later for a simple table scatter.

Paint pallet cupcakes I found this large wooden paint pallet at Hobby Lobby.  Again with the 40% off coupon it was $3.60 (reg. $6).  I made a lot of trips to Hobby Lobby.  ;)  It was an excuse to get out of the house.  I found these Wilton silicone cupcake liners at Walmart.  The one in front is actually pink.  I tried to keep it from ruining my day.  :)  I just used my white icing and colored small amounts with food color to frost each cupcake.

The cake!  I was told by several people that this was the best part.  This was the moistest and tastiest cake ever.  This cake took three boxed-cake mixes.  I used Duncan Hines white cake mix.  Each cake mix I added an extra egg, replaced the oil with butter (then doubled the amount!) and replaced the water with milk.  Here is a tutorial for the cake.

I had to use more icing than the recipe called for in order to cover my cake and get it even, so double!  Especially if you need extra for cupcakes. My icing was not a true white, rather an off-white, since I made a buttercream, but there are plenty of white icing recipes online.  Here is the recipe I used, more or less.  I used regular vanilla, not the clear, and I used more butter and less Crisco.

tip: The more you beat the batter it seems like the less it rises.  This worked well for this layered cake because it made the cake dense/sturdy, and I didn't have to trim the tops very much.  I also suggest you buying an offset spatula to ice the cake with.  I got mine off of Amazon:

I decorated the cake with Skittles.  An original Skittles package doesn't come with all the colors of the rainbow.  You have to buy the Tropical Skittles as well to get the blue.  

Rice crispy treat paintbrushes  I used a value box of Rice Crispy treats, large popsicle sticks from Dollar General, broken in half, and Wilton candy melts in all six colors.  I used very little from each bag.  Joann's was running a special, each bag was $2.25.  Other than that, Walmart has them for $2.50. I melted a few of the chips in a mug, dipped the rice crispy treat, and set them on foil to cool.  Never add water to the candy melts or get impatient with melting them, otherwise it won't come out smooth.  Microwave at 50% power for the best results.  I set them on display on a square painting canvas.

I made the pinwheels/pomwheels with the same Holly Lobby tissue pack.  Each wheel was one tissue paper folded in half.  Found the garland at Walmart for $1.50, I think.  The smalls signs were made with white foam board.  You can find foamboard for cheap at the Dollar tree or King Dollar.  I love it for parties!  It way more expensive anywhere else.  I glued clothespins to the back of the food signs to make them easel-ish and to stand up on their own.  Easy peasy!

I was so happy when I found the rainbow colored paper plates!  I was having a hard time finding something that worked.  I didn't want it to clash with the effects of the cake layers once the cake was served, plus it needed to be large enough to hold six layers of cake!  These were medium sized, heavy duty plates, and only have an outer rim of color that sort of resembles paint brush strokes... perfect!  I found 20 for $1 at the 99 Cents store.  They were large enough to put the snacks, pizza, and sandwiches on, also.  A job for my 11 yr old was removing water bottle wrappers and re-wrapping them with rainbow duct tape.

Colored Ice Cubes my second most ingenious idea was colored ice cubes.  I served the kids drinks in clear cups with clear drinks like 7 up.  They got to customize their drink with colored ice cubes.  They loved it!

This took pre-planning, but was easy.  I made colored ice-cubes with water and food coloring.  For about two weeks, once a day, I would make a few trays of colored ice.  Unless you have purple food coloring, the purple ice cubes won't come out purple!  I mixed blue and red to make my purple.  It was purple going into the freezer, but not coming out.  it was a funky bluish green once frozen.  But..... once it starts to melt, it turns purple again.  We didn't use them for the party.  The purples are still in our freezer, making our drinks happy from time to time.  I stored the ice in gallon bags over the course of the two weeks.  Once at the party I displayed them in square clear food storage containers from King Dollar.  I warned the kids that mixing certain colors would turn their drink brown, so to keep it simple.

Arden looooved her party.  Since it was a painting party we had lots of painting activities.  First the kids got their faces painted.

Then the kids painted on canvases.  I found 8x10 canvases for cheap.  10 for $5 at Walmart!  I made easels out of foam board, erasers, and bar-b-q skewers to prop the easels up.  It was an ingenious creation if I do say so myself. Each guest got an apron, also, and a paint pallet (from Hobby lobby).  We had about twenty different acrylic paints  (50 cents each just about anywhere) to choose from and a ton of paint brushes.  They painted whatever they wanted.  Butterflies, turtles, rainbows, bunnies, lego stuff, and, ummm, "abstract art".

At 2 years old, Jack was the only little one there that wasn't big enough to paint on a canvas.  I had watercolors and fingerpaints for him.  He kept busy the whole time!  Whew!

After canvas painting some kids went outside and played, but others wanted to continue painting.  They rock painted.  Rock painting is one of Arden's favorite activities at home.  If you heat a stone up in the oven at 200 degrees then it makes a perfect pallet for painting with crayons.  The crayon melts when it touches the rock, which the kids think is great.  They love watching the crayon turn to liquid.  Cheap craft.  Rocks are free, lol. 

Once the kids were done with their artwork they put them in the "Art gallery" to dry.

Since the party was at a park there was a playground for the kids to play on.  We also played games with a parachute.  Found it on Amazon.  This was one of their favorite parts.

And some of the adults and kids played volleyball.

We then did cake and presents.  Her BFF, Uncle Adam, built this custom activity desk for her!  She was thrilled when she saw it.  The tops hinge up to reveal a cubby for paper and markers.  There's also a chalk board on the underside of the lid.  And of course it was painted in her favorite color.  :)

We didn't do favor bags because each guest got to take home their works of art, apron, and paint pallet.

Arden said this was the best day ever, so I guess the party was a hit!

Things I didn't know before I started homeschooling.

In no particular order

1.  How there would always be a science project or a random something growing in my fridge.  Like, always.  A seed, some mold, a food concoction.  Right now there's some homemade Egyptian coins from Halle's history lesson in there.  ??  Why they're in the fridge is beyond me.
2.  How much free time you have AND how busy you could be... all at the same time.
3.  How all three kids (and the dog) would come snuggle in bed with me every morning.  Until I kick them off and make them get to work.
4.  How Halle has a heart to teach.  She likes to teach Arden because it helps her reinforce what she's learned.  And how much Arden would absorb.  
5.  How rewarding it is.
6.  How close my kids would become to each other.  Of course they still fight, but they have a close bond, and love each other.
7.  How much I like history...  because I sure did hate it in school.  And how much I've personally learned this year.  
8.  How you can You Tube almost anything to reinforce a lesson.  Thanks, You Tube, for making me look smarter than I am.
9. How everything in life is turned into a teachable moment.
10.  How many questions my kids would ask that I don't know the answer to.  They particularly like to ask questions in the car.  When I don't have a computer to back me up.  Sometimes I tell them shhhh let's listen to the radio.  Sometimes I start saying a bunch of BS that kinda sounds smart and good.  "What's the stuff on the road that makes it look shiny from a distance, but not shiny close up?"  "How do the manufacturers make different textures of leather." And then there's the random simple stuff that makes you feel like a dummy.  "What does "of" mean?"  Yeah, try explaining that to a five year old off the top of your head.  Without using the word "of" to explain it.  :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Arden is growing up so fast so it makes me happy that she still mispronounces some words.  I correct her, but I'll be sad when she learns to say them properly.   Here's a few:

Goddles - goggles
Be ten- pretend
Zizzors- scissors
Renember- remember
Neck-lix- Netflix

Swim team- Champions Park Stars

This year we (the girls) joined a nearby neighborhood swim team.  This is Arden's first year. She is in the 6 and under age group.  Halle swims in the 11-12 group.  This is Halle's fifth year of competitive swimming, and when you see her, she just looks like she's in her element!  New to the 11-12 group, she is now doing 50 yd races instead of 25.  This means that she now has to incorporate flip turns.  I'm excited about the first dual meet on Saturday.  

The following is a post that I wrote on February 16th when I was frustrated to the point of tears.  I didn't publish it back then.   I'm so thankful that we're not at this place anymore!!

"Today was very frustrating for both Arden and me.  I know that this is a minor problem, and in the grand scheme of things this isn't a big deal; but getting Arden to swim has been a huge struggle.

Brian and I were hoping that Arden would join the swim team this year with her sister.  Her friends, Maggie and Cole, will be swimming, and we don't want her to miss out on the fun.  We have tried the past two summers to get Arden swimming on her own.  Our next door neighbors have a pool so we've spent a lot of time in the water.  We've tried everything to get her to do it on her own, but she just won't do it.  Nothing works: coaxing her, tossing her in, bribing, refusing to give her floaties, showing her videos of babies swimming, getting someone other than us to teach her, even threatening.  It all has failed.  She is deathly afraid of swimming on her own.  She wants to learn to swim in theory, but when it comes down to it, she'd rather sit on the steps while her friends are swimming and splashing around.

Tonight Halle, Arden, and I went to the Y.  She was doing ok, listening to me, kicking her feet, trusting me, and even swimming a few feet.  But then something happened like it always does.  Something small will flip her switch and she will go ballistic.  This time she got water up her nose and she freaked out.  All of our progress went down the drain.  "Arden, it's fine.  Water goes up mommy's nose sometimes.  You're fine.  Mommy won't let anything happen to you."  Doesn't matter.  I tried to get her to try again,  but she screamed, clawed me when I tried to release her in the water, and pretty much had a panic attack.  She refused to try again.  She decided she'd rather give up chocolate milk, her blankey, Catarina, gymnastics, Caillou, and ice skating to avoid getting back in the pool (that's when you know she's serious!)  So maybe you're thinking, "Well maybe you pushed her too far.  Give her a break and she'll try again another day and get it."  Or "She'll do it on her own time."  But that hasn't been the case.  The next time is like starting all over; never making any progress.

I don't want to put her in swim lessons when they are going to teach her the same things we've been teaching her for two years.  Holding her breath under water, floating on her back, kicking, arm motions.  It's a trust issue.  I can't get her to understand that when she fight and struggles in the water, she is making it worse on herself.  She needs to relax.

My biggest concern is she knowing how to save herself in case a situation arises.

I need prayer for myself to keep my cool and patience with her.  I seriously am at a loss and don't know what to do.  With as much as our family is around water she needs to learn to swim.

If I leave it up to her she'll be a twenty year old with floaties.

Arden, right now you're walking around, telling Daddy in a matter-of-fact tone that Mommy is blogging about you not wanting to swim (I only told you that I was blogging about you and swimming.)  I hope when you're old enough to read this we'll be waaaaay past this dilemma.  I love you sweetie, and I hope you learn to trust me soon enough."


We tried again, after much prayer for her to not be afraid and for me to not lose my patience.  Three days after I wrote this we tried again and she swam!  Since then she has been improving drastically.  Between me working with her at the Y and teenagers helping her at swim practice, she can now swim the whole length of the pool.  And a few days ago she swam all the way across the pool on her back, too.  This is huge, because until just recently she was too scared to float on her back.  She is very excited to be able to swim on the swim team, and says she's going to beat Halle soon.  ;)

So here we are in May, three months later, and she is doing great!!!  I'm so proud of her for putting her fears aside and trying her best.