Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

We never go far for Thanksgiving, since we have lots of family closeby to spend it with. But we were trying to figure out a time to go to the snow early this year (I'm due in February, so the sooner the better), and we decided to go to Utah for our extra long weekend. That way Dave and the big boys would have family to ski with, and I'd have family to not ski with. We left Tuesday after Dave got off work, drove 4 hours to Barstow, then 9 hours on Wednesday. It was pretty cool - they upgraded our hotel room for free, since they were full, and we got a 2 room suite with a jacuzzi. My boys LOVE staying in hotels, and that one was extra fun.

Thanksgiving was lovely. We stayed with my sister Emily in Kaysville, and it was a relaxing day of games and baking and recovering from our trip. Andrew made an apple pie, with canned pie filling that Allison made from Joy's apple trees. Emily is training a new generation of amazing cooks.

Sabrina and Brennan get along so well. Actually all the kids had fun together. Cousins are awesome.

Dallin, always posing for the picture.

Brennan and Sabrina kept asking me to take their picture. And that's Levi's picture -taking smile.

Some people really like getting their picture taken.

Their cat Teancum was a big hit. Spencer had a bad allergic reaction to him a few times, but he got better as he learned to stay away from the cat and wash his hands lots.

It was unseasonably warm, and they played outside all day. Aaron's family came in the afternoon, and they had fun playing stick wars with Caleb.

Allison's always happy when the Abbotts come, so she's not so out-numbered by boys.

Emily brined the turkey, as usual, and it was so moist and delicious. She wondered if I'd like it, since I didn't like the last turkey she brined for us. But then I reminded her that I was in the middle of my 1st trimester with Dallin at the time and was so sick I didn't like anything.

The girls prepared the drinks - grape juice ice cubes and ginger ale, of course.

Why are my children so goofy? Maggie, on the other hand, looks like she's on the cover of a magazine. And Katrina is eating pink, heart-shaped mashed potatoes. That's the beauty of Thanksgiving - there's something for everyone. After dinner (a couple hours after), we had pies and birthday cake for Caleb, Brennan, Emily, Tim and Allison. It's a busy birthday month for our family!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rubber Ducky Party!

Saturday was Brennan's first ever friend party. His birthday is actually next week, but that gets complicated with Thanksgiving. I'm all about the theme, so I asked him what kind of party he wanted. He didn't know, so I gave him some suggestions - pirates, monsters, etc. - all the things he likes. Then he came up with the "duck" theme, which seemed odd to me. The last time we had a duck cake was when Spencer turned one. But he said he wanted the kind of rubber duckies that are dressed up. That made more sense, since he loves dress-ups. Actually all my boys like to play with those silly ducks, and not just in the bath.

I started out making a basic rubber ducky cake . I used one cake mix to bake two 8" round cakes (actually I only had one 8" cake pan, so I used a round casserole dish for the other one) and a small ball-shaped cake I made by changing the shape of a mini loaf pan (Dave's idea - he's so creative). I used toothpicks to attach the candy fruit slices for the tail and a chopstick to attach the head and beak - Tyler suggested I use an ice cream cone for that, since the orange slice they used on the website just looked like fat lips. I used chocolate chips for the eyes, since the non perils they used looked freaky.

Then we dressed up our duck. First we put a Mr. Potato Head fireman hat on it. That was pretty cute.

But we especially liked the pirate version. I used a fruit roll-up for the bandanna and a chocolate melting disc for the eye patch. Then I drew the lines with melted chocolate chips.
We surrounded him with bunches of fun rubber duckies I found at a party supply store.

As the guests arrived they decorated their treat bags with ducks and stickers. Our first game was Duck, Duck, Goose.

Then everyone chose a rubber ducky to use in our duck races. Dave made a little race course in our turtle sand box using water, irrigation tubing and rocks. Three kids raced at a time, using straws to blow the ducks around the track.

The ducks were a little top-heavy; but it worked great, and they had a lot of fun.

Next we went to our neighbors' house to feed their ducks. They were a little intimidated by us and didn't want to come out, but they did eat some of the bread we threw at them.

The whole group: my five boys plus ten friends from church and school. I was really happy with the turn-out, considering I didn't get the invitations out until four days before the party (somehow it snuck up on me), and the fact that there were two other school parties that same day. But I changed the time of the party so more people could come, and it all worked out. It's funny, because everyone in Brennan's class has a birthday between September and December. There were 4 other parties this week!

Then we went inside for cake and ice cream.

Brennan is not one to be shy by all the attention.
He had such a fun day. He was super happy before, during and after the party. In fact I'm glad we moved the time up to 11:00 in the morning, because it was even hard for him to wait that long.

He loved all his presents. He got a lot of craft stuff, which is one of his favorite things to do. We were busy crafting all weekend.

Levi knows all about opening presents now, and Brennan even let him help.

Finally, we went on a treasure hunt to find the treat bags. The clues were things like, "When you're hungry, don't go quackers! Eat some cheese and _______." And "Rubber ducky, you're the one. You make _______ lots of fun." After everyone left we had a few minutes to recover before we took Brennan and Tyler to other parties. I love birthday parties. They're a lot of work, but they're so much fun.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What a character

The older he gets, the more of a character this kid has become. He is cute, stubborn, funny and oh, so very entertaining for the whole family. Funny story: this week we went to Cold Stone for the middle school fundraiser. There was a long line (which was actually fun because we knew so many people there), and Levi kept escaping. The embarrassing thing was that I wouldn't know he was gone until someone would yell, "There's a little boy leaving!" One lady said, "I put my hand up to stop him, but he just gave me a high-five and kept on going."

Breakfast is still his favorite meal of the day. He especially likes to eat steel cut oatmeal and grapefruit with Dave. In fact he'll have 3 breakfasts a day - one with each group in the morning.

Unfortunately we're trying to cut dairy out of his diet because his doctor said he may have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. This is much harder than it was with Brennan, who was so easy-going and didn't know any different. Levi asks for "milt" all day, and soy just isn't cutting it for him.

Levi is my first thumb-sucker. Others tried, but I was always able to convince them to take a binky instead. He is also attached to his "D," which is what he calls this quilt my friend made for Dallin over 7 years ago. I have no idea why he calls it that. He sleeps with it, of course, and wants it whenever he's sad, hurt or tired. He also has to take it with him whenever we go anywhere (it's getting a bit rediculous), but I'm usually able to convince him to leave it in the car.

He loves his SHOES! And he loves to DANCE! So naturally I had to take pictures of him while he was getting down in just his diaper and shoes one day. Whenever we're in a store that plays music, he yells, "Dance!" and starts to boogie in the cart. Another funny/frustrating story: this week I went to Spencer's school to watch and videotape his group perform their singing science song. I took Levi (oops), and he started to cry loudly right before it started that he wanted to go home. I had to take him out of the classroom because it was very disruptive. I begged him to be quiet, but he refused and tried to run to the car. I tried bribing him with gum (he loves it, but I never give it to him because he just swallows it and wants more and more) and a donut afterwards if he'd be quiet. Finally he agreed and sat quietly eating gum during the whole song. As soon as it was over, he yelled, "All done?" The class all laughed. Then he danced happily all the way to the car, saying, "Spencer dance, quiet, gum, donut!!" I couldn't believe it - I was actually able to reason with and bribe a 2 year old. And yes, we went out for donuts.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I've been busy...

I was in the mood to make fun costumes this year. I tried to nail the kids down to what they wanted to be around the beginning of October so I'd have plenty of time to work on them. I like sewing, but doing it last minute is stressful, not fun. Sometimes we think we might do a family theme, but it never quite works out because everyone wants to be such different things.

However we sort of got onto a food kick this year. First Tyler said he wanted to be a pickle, because he loves them so much.

This is the one that took the most time to make. I didn't have any kind of pattern - just kinda figured it out as I went along. I started out with 4 tall, skinny panels. I sewed them together and just kept tweaking it till it looked right. I tapered the top and bottom, sewed in that stiff interfacing all around the top to make it stand up straight and along the bottom to make it look finished, cut holes for the face and arms and attached fabric facing for a finished edge. Once I got the body looking right, I made little balls out of a different green material. I ripped up a bunch of squares, rounded the edges a little bit, sewed a loose basting stitch around the edge and pulled it together. Then I filled them with pillow stuffing and attached them all around with a hot glue gun. I also hot glue gunned a panel of fabric inside the top to rest on his head so it wouldn't slip down. He LOVED it, and he looked great!

Then Brennan came up with the idea of being a peanut, since it's the scariest thing he could think of. "No really, mom, I have nightmares about them!" In case you didn't know, he's allergic to peanuts.

This one was pretty simple, and it took just one afternoon. I cut a peanut shape out of 3 layers of material - a tan faux suede, batting for the middle and tan cotton for the inside. Then I sewed them with right sides together, leaving a small hole to turn it right side out, like a pillow. I sewed the hole shut and sewed rows of irregular, rounded rectangles all over to give it a bumpy peanut texture. I made two of them - one for the front and one for the back, and used a hot glue gun to connect them at the shoulders and sides with black ribbons.

Spencer said bananas are scary to him too because he hates them. Plus he thought it would be funny, and he's all about funny. He even won the award for funniest costume at the middle school. I was going to make this one too, but I started running out of time and bought it online instead.

Dallin hates tomatoes, so the boys said he should be a tomato. But what he really wanted to be was a purple slinky. In case you're wondering, there were no slinky costumes online for me to use as inspiration, and I almost gave up a couple of times. But I went to Lowe's to get some ideas, and I ended up getting some irrigation tubing (the same size we use in our yard, so we can use it later), which was already coiled like a slinky, and some purple spray paint. Dave connected the rings together with fishing line and painted it, and then I attached some black material shoulder straps. It was a little cumbersome for him to get around in, but he was very excited about it.

Levi didn't want to be anything - he is not into dressing up, like all his brothers. I bought him a cute lion costume, since he loves lions. But he screamed every time I tried to put it on him, so I returned it. On the day of the Halloween party at church we took out our bin of old costumes and had him choose one. He got excited about the vampire bat and flew all around the house roaring.

I looked online for good pregnant costumes, and then I remembered my friend Carol being a pregnant skeleton a couple years ago.

I looked it up online and found an awesome tutorial that included a matching husband skeleton, so of course I had to make that for Dave. First I had to draw stencils for all the bones freehand onto freezer paper, using the online picture for reference. Then I cut them out, using suture scissors for the tiny little finger bones. I ironed them onto our shirts, which worked great. I want to find more freezer paper crafts to do! The easy part was painting all the bones, which didn't bleed under the stencils at all. I put paper bags inside the shirt to prevent it from leaking to the back. I did three coats and let them dry. It took about 3-4 hours, and then I just peeled off the freezer paper.

I love that they chose such unique things to be this year. It was a lot more fun for me.

Banana vs. pickle. Funny boys!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Carving our pumpkins

Dave got off work a couple hours early Friday, so we decided to carve pumpkins. This worked out great because there was plenty of good lighting for pictures, and the rest of the weekend was too busy.

Tyler started planning his pumpkin weeks ago. He wanted it to be tall and skinny with a surprised look and pineapple top. How cute is that?

He made a small opening so the pineapple top could fit in there snugly. It worked great, although he didn't have much room for his hand to reach in and clean it out.

Dallin chose the fairytale pumpkin I got at Trader Joe's. I think this is what people use to make pumpkin pie, because it had a super thick wall. He had a heck of a time cutting it out.

Spencer chose a pumpkin with a good stem to be the nose, so he cut a hole out of the bottom to clean it out.

Brennan concentrating hard on drawing his pumpkin's face. He wanted it to be really scary, like a zombie.

It was so hard to get the top off of Dallin's pumpkin that Dave had to use a crow bar. That's one thick pumpkin!

Some of the seeds had even sprouted in there.

It was quite the group effort.

This may be my favorite pumpkin picture ever!

Tyler's so creative - I love the pineapple top! And I love having big kids - he did it completely by himself.

This red pumpkin has a lot of character, and Spencer was the first one done.

Which is good, because then he was able to help Dallin finish carving his.

They looked fabulous! Then we threw them out after the last trick-or-treater left last night because they were starting to get rotten and buggie, after just 3 days. I guess that's the downside to living in a warm climate.