Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Girls' Night Out

This past Friday Alysee and I had 'Girls' Night Out' while the boys had 'Boys' Night In.' Two other moms and I planned a special night for our girls to "Disney Princess on Ice." I have never been to one of these productions and it proved to be a fabulous show.
Prior to the show we all met at Applebee's Restaurant and scarfed down a delicious dinner. I had this asiago chicken and mashed potato dish that was WONDERFUL. These girls have been friends for several years and all went to preschool together last year.
Before the show I had Alysee get all dressed up in a borrowed costume for some fun princess pictures of our own.We had GREAT seats at the production. We didn't even have to use our binoculars. One of the first things that Alysee said during the show was "those girls are sure not dressed modest." It's true many of the dancers/skaters were VERY scantily dressed. Each time a princess came out that was dressed modestly she was sure to point it out. It made me feel good that something I am saying is sinking in!Most of my pictures didn't turn out well because of the lack of lighting. This is from the last scene when all the princesses came out with their princes. There were even great fireworks at the end. It was a super fun evening. Alysee gave a great synopsis to all the boys in the morning. I'm sure glad that I made this evening happen!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tyler the Birthday Boy

As usual I am a little late in posting about Tyler's birthday. His real birthday was celebrated while I was having my own party in Alabama. Birch made it a really fun day for him. Tyler has never had a friend party for his birthday. Over the years I have come up with different "rules" about friend parties and somehow Tyler never ended up having one (probably because last year we could have gotten the loser-parent award with promising a friend party and then never following through with our promise--don't worry though, it is the first time that has happened).

Anyway, this year I made sure that Tyler was going to have a really fun party. The Saturday after Tyler's birthday eleven friends came to help Tyler celebrate his seventh birthday. Boy was it an intense hour and a half!
We started out with painting these fun wooden plane/truck/helicopter/etc kits that I bought from Michael's Craft Store for just one dollar. Nate, Alex, and I glued them all together the week before the party. The kids had a GREAT time painting them.

Then Birch took the kids outside for an intense game of Birthday Kickball. Meanwhile I was in the kitchen rolling out homemade pizza dough and organizing the pizza toppings. Then the boys all came in and made their own pizzas.
While they were cooking Tyler opened more gifts than he has ever received in his life. The boys were all super generous and Tyler was in heaven. Tyler blew out his candles from his colorful rice crispy treat and the boys all gobbled their pizza and treat. Tyler had a great time and we were all exhausted when the party finished. Happy Birthday Tyler!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Great Harvest at the Dittos

I've been waiting for a over a year to make this post. When we moved into our home in April 2005 the inside and the outside needed A LOT of work. Along the side of the driveway we had a big hill that was covered with grass-infested, nasty, low-growing shrubbery. Birch spent the summer of 2006 clearing the land (plus my dad put in a long Saturday and we did end up hiring out the final seven hours of grueling labor in the hot August sun).
Then in October 2006 we received our first shipment of retaining wall block. Each block weighs 60 pounds and must be laid in a perfectly leveled area. Birch spent all of his time off work for over a month building the retaining wall for what would become the most expensive garden area in history! One Saturday Birch's brother Logan came over and helped for a full day. Birch loved the company and certainly the help!
After spending half of a Saturday trying to shovel the dirt only to have made it four feet, we knew we needed to come up with another idea. We ended up hiring an excavator to level the land. He did the job in fifteen minutes which then prompted us to have our trampoline hole dug. Other than running into a waterline and chewing up our grass--it went really well. We have loved having the trampoline sunk in the ground.This spring Birch ran a drip system to the whole garden and put it on a timer. We hardly had one weed and if one manged to make its way up it was quickly sprayed with Round-up. Talk about lovin' no weeding!Coop loved being daddy's helper! We didn't have to feed him too much during this time because he consumed so much dirt. A little dirt never hurt anyone, right?
So here is the final product!! This represents HOURS of work for Birch. My muscle man husband hauled over 28,000 pounds of retaining wall block (470 blocks). Guess I married He-Man! He did a fabulous job.
Unfortunately the garden initially didn't seem to take off. This is probably due to the lack of nutrients in the soil since it was the dirt that was in the trampoline hole. Nothing that a little Miracle Grow couldn't fix though. The garden went crazy!! We had red and green peppers, grape tomatoes, 4th of July tomatoes, roma tomatoes, basil, lettuce, green beans, sugar snap peas, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, pumpkins, acorn/delicata/butternut squash, a strawberry bed, and blueberries.
The State Fair Zinnas went wild!!! They are so beautiful and colorful! I love driving up to our driveway and being met by a splash of color. Even better is that I never had to do a thing except twice trim the dead blooms. I think next year we will be planting zinnas all over our yard.
Nate and Alysee holding our prize watermelon. It was SUPER delicious!! The kids were shocked to see that some watermelons actually have seeds.
Nate loved harvesting the pumpkins last weekend.
We ended up harvesting ten large pumpkins. The kids are all looking forward to carving a few tomorrow evening. We can't until next year's planting!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sweet Alabama and Friends

I just got back late last night from an incredibly relaxing trip to Huntsville, Alabama. The trip was everything I hoped for--we lounged around, ate delicious food, celebrated our 32nd birthdays together, talked about life, got pedicures, watched "Sisterhood of the traveling pants," and even did a bit of shopping. Even though we spent 24 hours a day together we never ran out of things to talk about. Good friends are certainly a treasure!

Birch and the kids had a wonderful time together too. This morning at breakfast I asked the kids if they missed me--"not really" was their response. Guess it was okay for both of us to have a break from each other. Tyler celebrated his seventh birthday yesterday and he asked me this morning if I would go on a trip every year when it is his birthday. Hum...not sure what to make of that comment but I am glad Birch made it such a special day for him. Birch is an AWESOME Daddy!

Not much change on the kitchen...we are waiting for the professionals to get back with us on quotes.

For more details about my trip visit here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A snake, a kangaroo, a cow, an ice cream cone...the Central Washington State Fair

Nate, Cooper, and I took advantage of the sunny weather and some free tickets to the Central Washington State Fair. When the other kids got home from school they felt VERY ripped off but I reminded them that we are taking a family trip to an indoor waterpark in a couple of weeks instead of going to the fair together. That subsided the whines for a few minutes.

It was really quite pleasant taking the younger two. Not only was it a manageable outing to do on my own but we could also avoid the rides and spendy food with no complaints. Both boys LOVED seeing all the animals.Nate got to touch a big fat snake. There was such an assortment of animals outside of the farm realm that it made the afternoon even more fun.
Coop loved hanging out in the stroller, squealing with delight at all the animals, and his ride on a horse saddle.
My biggest excitement was finding the Darigold stand that actually sold an ice cream cone for .50 cents. I couldn't believe it! I had to thank them for offering such a tasty treat for such a reasonable price.

As a side note, I leave tomorrow early morning for a Girlfriend Retreat to Huntsville, Alabama. The gathering was planned almost a year ago so it is hard to believe that it is finally here. I'm so grateful to have four childhood girlfriends that realize the importance of keeping a friendship going and knitting new memories together. Birch will be Mr. Mom for the next five days and the kids are delighted by the idea of having Daddy all to themselves. I asked Nate today if he was going to miss me. He said, "Well, isn't Daddy going to be home with me?" I responded, "Yes." Then he said, "No, I won't miss you then." It's so wonderful to not have to worry about the kids one bit. Birch is a great daddy and with ease will handle the five children and the list of projects that I am leaving behind for him (mostly just starting our kitchen remodel). I sure do love that man!!!

So I'm off for five days to bask in the Sweet Alabama sun, lounge in jammies all day, eat myself silly, and catch up on four amazingly talented women's lives.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Big Kids Campout

Last weekend Birch took the four big kids camping (Nate would love to know that I am calling him a BIG kid). They didn't really camp out in a tent but they did roast hot dogs over the fire, make S'mores, fish, hike, and most of all had a great time together. They stayed at a simple cabin at our local church camp called Camp Zarahemla. The five of them had lots of fun!
I liked this shot because it showed some great team work. I guess Alysee, Alex, and Tyler were on some sort of hiking adventure.I just thought this shot was funny. Alysee looks so old and really reminds me of her Aunt Blayre that is currently serving a mission in Las Vegas.
Nate loved his canoe rides with daddy.
Tyler and Alex had a great time!
Apparently Tyler had no idea that he was sportin' the charcoal face. Birch said all the kids enjoyed playing in the fire. Imagine that!
Camper Alysee
Fisherman Nate - from what I hear the kids saw two fishes jump out of the water but they never seemed interested in the power bait the Ditto's were trying to feed them.
So what did Mom and Coop do? We enjoyed a quiet dinner together, read books, played ball, and then Cooper hit the sack. Meanwhile mom vacuumed the whole house, cleaned two bathrooms and the kitchen, mopped the floors, watched the movie Strange Fiction and read a bit from a new book series. The next day Cooper and I stayed busy decorating the house for Halloween and doing some mass cooking for a church event. It was a great Friday/Saturday for all!

I sure am grateful that Birch loves spending time with the kids and doesn't mind taking on some of these adventures on his own. I'm secretly plotting next years camp out where I am sure that Cooper will be old enough to join. I overheard Birch say the other day to someone that his qualification for a fellow camper is that they have to be potty trained. Hum...that should be doable by next year.

Thursday, October 4, 2007