Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Many Teeth... ? (Part II)

Do the Carnies in West Linn have?

Turns out, not many more than the Carnies anywhere else... except that the Carnival is so much smaller here--the total number of teeth is far less than at other locations.
It's nice to know there are some constants in life to be counted on.
Guess who wanted to do the Super Slide "all by herself" this year?

That's right! Geneva "Big Girl" Jones!

After tackling the roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with their Papa Clyde, Geneva and Piper both felt confident that they could do the Carni-Coaster as well.
Natalie came along for the ride and we ran into some of the big-girls we know from the Friendship Farm (the girls' summer camp program) so I didn't even have to ride with Piper. In fact, given the choice, Piper would rather do just about anything with her girl Teal than with Momma!

The roller coaster was really fast and the guard bars were not especially tight...

But the girls had a great time! I think Papa's stories about riding coasters with your hands in the air had a lasting impression on Geneva!

Here's a very blurry super-close-up of the tiny rock star!

A little less exciting--but still really fun--was the cars.

Even Baby Norah was big enough to ride with her girl Pipes. This picture makes me think of Thelma and Louise (before the cliff scene, of course!). I love it!

Norah was having the time of her life!
However, when the ride stopped, I was certain that it had jerked to a halt causing her head to bump into the steering wheel. She was crying so hard and was soooo upset!

As it turns out, she was just pissed that the ride was over!
We shelled out more ride tickets and she got another "go-'round." Followed of course by more tears when it was over!

It was a lovely evening in our little town of West Linn and it did wonders to kick off our amazing vacation with our great friends!

Up next: The Beach!!!

Great Friends; Good Times (Part I)

The Bills Family arrived last weekend and we had a great visit!
Geneva practically crawled in the car with Natalie instead of letting her get out... It was the beginning of serious giggling, slumber parties, sand struggles, spontaneous hand-holding, and lots and lots of fun!

No one could believe how big "Baby Norah" had gotten since the last time we saw her! She certainly did her best to keep up with the big girls and Piper was amazing as she bridged the gap between the two bigger girls and Norah. Piper and Natalie bonded and Piper and Norah bonded too. It was so great to see the relationships develop!

We started the visit with a quick drink and a wind-down session in the backyard where our latest and greatest discovery has been our new "Crunchy Green Beans."

Natalie was definitely onboard!

... Not so much!

No worries Little Miss!
We have a lot more fun in store for our shared vacation!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

West Linn Old Time Fair Parade

We actually don't live in the town of Mayberry--but West Linn is pretty close.
(In fact, as I'm typing this post, my husband just called to say he'd been pulled over for failing to come to a complete stop at the stop sign down the street. The officer who stopped him is the same one who pulled us over in September for having outdated registration. In neither case, did Greg get a citation. Instead, he got some friendly advice about where to register his car the first time and this time, some tips on where we should stop on our trip to the coast tomorrow.)
Yesterday we spent the morning downtown at the West Linn Old Time Fair Parade.
The girls got to ride in the float that their summer camp program put together.
Here is the Princess float--anyone in a tiara is impressive as far as Geneva is concerned.
Some of the dance troops were especially entertaining.
I was impressed by how elaborate some of the floats were, all of the families who turned out for the parade, and the enthusiasm of all of the children who caught candy instead of "beads" from the parade participants.
Here's the float the girls rode on with their camp friends.
The band that played in front of our favorite downtown eatery was very good. I wish I remembered what they were called (!).
Greg and I watched the parade with the "other Jones" family while we waited to see the girls pass by on their float. Here are Jeff and Lachie enjoying the festivities.
And here come the Jones Girls! Waving and singing and throwing candy to the crowds!
I loved the horses.
All in all, it was a terrific morning. We were home in time for lunch and naps. Afterward, we welcomed the Bills Family for our summer vacation to the coast (and golf tournament for the boys). More to come on that note...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Bugs in the Garden" Birthday Bash

I had a lot of fun hosting Geneva's 4th birthday party in the backyard this year... but it was a lot of work. I tend to take on quite a bit.
Greg did a great job getting things off on the right foot by starting the party with Mimosa's for the grown-ups. He could sense that I needed one after our whirlwind "get ready!" sprint from 7:30 am to 10:30 am before the guests arrived.
The spread turned out as planned. The punch bowl above contains the "Bug Juice." Behind Greg is the "Ladybug Pizza." I love the flower-bug-swatters I found at the $1 store so much I made a bouquet out of them! Below are the "Ants on a Log" and PB&J's. 

Here is Chloe enjoying a Butterfly sandwich and a Caterpillar fruit stick.
We hired Katie (our neighborhood babysitting extraordinaire) to do face-painting and help with the projects and games. Izzy is getting a butterfly and Amanda is waiting for a ladybug. 

Below is Michele and Abby working on a Spider hat. The kids were not nearly as interested in making and wearing spider hats as I had hoped they might be. My visions of all 15 of them wearing their creepy hats for a photo faded quickly!
Once the kids decorated their "Bug Houses" they were ready to hunt some bugs. While we got "Squash That Bug" ready to play (complete with plastic bugs) they searched the garden for some real crawly things.
Here are a few of the munchkins waiting in line to "Pin the Spot on the Ladybug."
(Thank you to Scott for simplifying my game!)

My blindfold was a bit cumbersome, but we managed. In case you're wondering, it's the tie Geneva made for Daddy for Father's Day at preschool this year--I thought we would put it to use--at least this once! The imperfection of the blindfold worked out in the end; as I needed to keep hold of their little heads to help gently guide them to the naked ladybug.

Piper did a great job keeping up with the bigger kids all day!

Here is what my sweet girl looked like when we carried out her cupcake bouquet and sang "Happy Birthday" to her:
Thank you to Betsy for the fabulous tip on the gumdrop-stick stems! I used a floral brick in the tin and wooden skewers to mimic flower stems. I covered the brick with gummi worms when I was finished. Our bouquet had both cupcakes (dipped in sprinkles and stenciled with flower and bug shapes) and brownie bites (decorated to look like ladybugs).

The "Bee" cupcakes were my favorite!
We also served "Dirt."

I debated about doing her presents at the party or afterward. I decided in the end that her friends would enjoy watching her open the gifts they chose for her. It's easier to keep her on track these days too (now that my baby is 4!!!) so I thought we could get through it in a reasonable amount of time. She was very sweet about thanking everyone for their gifts. She doled out the hugs before she even opened the packages.
Auntie Jenn called me from Target when she was shopping for Geneva's present. I was able to describe the one item Geneva has coveted for months: this truly awful pink, glitter train case that I continue to deny her. When she unwrapped it she said, "Oh goodness! It's what I've always wanted!!!" Hysterical!
Piper and Chloe entertained themselves under Geneva's new ladybug umbrella (thank you Lulu--so cute!) while she worked through her pile of "loot."

Greg and I had this shirt made for her. She's been asking lately at soccer "practice" why she doesn't have "real" soccer clothes like some of the other kids. It was critical that her "real" soccer clothes had a number on the back.

The shorts I found at Old Navy in the boys section and the "real" soccer ball is from Izzy and Lachie. Do you think she thinks she's cool?
She rounded out her birthday celebration by taking her new bike for a spin. Please note the birthday outfit she put together for her party. Of course, during most of the party she also wore a huge set of pink butterfly wings that her Nana sent to her!
It really was a fun afternoon. I'm not sure if I'll want to take on another party like this next year or just rent out a "party place." We'll see...

Monday, July 6, 2009

I'm Going "Buggy" with Ideas!

I know you will not believe it; but it's true!
My little big girl is turning 4 on Saturday!
I swear sometimes it feels like I just squeezed that little Monkeygirl out the other day... And here it's been four years. Wow. All the cliches are true.

Now I am planning her 4th birthday party. She wants a "Bug Party." I made the invitations and sent them out a few weeks ago. We are expecting 12 kids between the ages of 24-months (youngest siblings of a friend on her guest list) and 8 years (oldest girl on our street--who my daughter idolizes). In any event, I've been struggling to plan a party that might be entertaining for children within that age span.

So far, the menu includes:
Butterfly and Flower shaped PB&J Sandwiches
Ants on a Log (celery, peanut butter, raisins)
Caterpillar Fruit Sticks (melon-balled fruit and grapes on a wooden skewers)
Lady Bug Pizza (pepperoni and black olives)
Bug Juice (lemonade, green food coloring, frozen berries)
Cup 'O Dirt (clear cup, chocolate pudding, gummi worms, oreo cookie crumbs)
Flower and Ladybug Cupcakes

As for games and activities, I have a lot of ideas I'm considering. I want the children to play some games, but it's tricky with little ones, as no one at that age enjoys "not winning." 
Spider Hats (instead of birthday hats, I've lifted this project from my daughter's preschool Halloween activity: black construction paper, plastic eyes)
Pin the Bug on the Flower (no donkey--and the kids get to decorate their paper bug cut-out as a project before we start the game)
Squash That Bug (blown up balloons with plastic bugs inside--children sit on the balloons and pop/collect as many bugs as possible) 
Water Bug Balloon Toss (green balloons decorated like bugs)
Face Painting (butterflies, bees, worms--keeping it simple here folks!)
Decorate Your Bug House (As a party favor, I bought clear plastic containers with lids I've poked holes in. We will have stickers, paint pens, glitter (?), and bug cutouts for the kids to decorate the outside of their "bug houses."
Bug Hunt (Plastic bugs scattered throughout the yard--the kids can use their freshly decorated bug houses to collect the bugs. Afterward they can trade with one another and take home whatever they've found.) 

Of course, I would love any feedback, ideas, suggested modifications to what I've listed above... HELP!!!
I will post the "results" sometime after Saturday!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Things I Love Thursday

  • How well my Monkeygirls did on our road trip to California last week. We did not sleep in the same place two nights in a row and they were so great about it!
  • Seeing my family in California--though I obviously wish it were under better circumstances.
  • This picture of Piper at her swim lesson:
  • This song and video from Peter Bjorn and John for their song, "Nothing to Worry About." (click here).
  • Twitter. It seriously got me through my drive and now I'm hooked (click here).
  • Watching my Monkeys dance, dance, dance at the West Linn Farmers' Market on Tuesday:
  • My car. We bought a 2005 Acura MDX right after the 2006 model hit the dealerships. Because the 2006 model had a new body style we got a screaming deal on my NEW 2005 model. I loved it then; I drive it everyday; and after our 10+ hour road trip (each way) I love it even more!
  • This picture of Geneva on the front porch at my grandpa's house in Santa Clara. I'm fairly sure I have a picture of myself at her age sitting in this folding chair (minus the big pillow). She's just woken up from a nap and is loving her new "Wolfie" that Nana gave her.
  • Getting back into the gym after having 9 days off and tons of bad-for-me food!
  • The amazing weather we've been having in Oregon. It's stunning here!
  • The complete un-catlike tolerance demonstrated by my sister Chrissy's cat. Unbelievable.
  • These little pins I stumbled upon online (click here).
  • The AMC series, Mad Men. My sister-in-law has been telling me about this show for over a year. I finally came across the first season On Demand (Comcast cable) and started watching. I'm totally hooked! I think the third season will air this Fall. It's unbelievably good!
  • This stepping stone that the girls and I made for Greg for Father's Day:
  • Watching my girls enjoy popsicles on a hot afternoon.
  • Thai Green Curry over Jasmine rice. 
  • Making my own Thai flavored rice by substituting some of the water with a can of lite coconut milk and grated fresh lemongrass to Jasmine rice before cooking.
  • Watching my veggies take shape:
  • The Kings of Leon song that's been playing a lot lately, "Use Somebody" (click here).
  • The fact that when I pointed out my first few grey hairs to Greg he said, "Beautiful."
  • The Friendship Farm. This is the little preschool/summer camp that Geneva did last year and that both girls get to enjoy this summer. They attend Monday and Wednesday mornings--leaving me with almost 4 hours of "free" time! Here they are before their first day:
  • The following exchange that occurred in the rest stop bathroom in southern Oregon on our way down to California. It should be noted that it was not the cleanest restroom (by a long-shot). After applying a sufficient amount of toilet-seat covers to the "throne," both Piper and I did our "business." Then it was Geneva's turn:
Me: Ok NeeNee. You're up.
G: I'm not going potty in there. It looks too mysterious.
  • When we took my dad to Santa Cruz to celebrate his birthday the girls went sans nap all day. It was a lot to ask. Near the end of our afternoon, we decided to get some calamari and clam chowder on the pier. Piper was really slowing down so we took turns carrying her. Within two minutes of landing on Papa's shoulder, she was drooling a puddle on his new sweatshirt and sawing logs in his ear. I think my dad was in heaven!
  • Watching my Monkeygirls splash in the surf with my dad:
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