Wednesday, January 30, 2013

{Carson's 11th Birthday: Movie Party}

We re-used the movie party theme for Carson from a couple years ago for his 11th birthday party.  It's a whole new crew of friends and Carson didn't seem to mind one bit.  A movie party is one of the simplest parties to pull off because you don't need to entertain. No craft projects, no games.  It's especially true for 11 year olds. The entertainment was the movies themselves. I only needed to feed them.  And had a blast doing it.  

My sister let me use her invite (above). She was doing the same party theme for my sweet 4 year old nephew. So we swapped party ideas and shared info and printables back and forth for a month...saving us both time. Worked out awesome.  

 Here's the birthday boy!!

The best investment? A $5 roll of raffle tickets (2000 count).  I used them for everything.  That's the backdrop 'ribbon' and made the display look really cool!  

I couldn't find official 'movie trays'...but crafted my own using the cardboard that holds 12 cans of canned food at the grocery store.  It was the perfect size.  I spray painted them black and add a label to the side (printed onto sticker know, my favorite thing!)  

The movie poster turned out awesome. Even if Miles did crunch it right down the middle while it was rolled up.  Can't keep that kid out of anything.  Printed at Costco...$8.  Love how it looked.

Of course we had all the movie goodies covered.

Each kid received an envelope of tickets to use.  I wasn't sure if they would be too old to think this was fun, but they were so into it! They were trading and sharing food, pooling tickets together, bargaining.  They absolutely loved it.  

 Nachos were a huge hit. I dressed up these 'fry' containers (from Pick Your Plum) with labels and washi tape.  

All the candy was from the dollar store.  They package some of the mini candy bars in packages of 6-8.  It worked out perfectly because I only wanted a few of each kind, but didn't have to buy the $5 bag of fun size bars at the grocery store.  I limited them to 1 box of the large candy so most of them shared.  

And we pulled out the movie theater popcorn maker for the occasion.  Always a hit (and a huge pain to clean...but so worth it).  

I opted for bottled soda instead of cups/lids.  They were super pumped about it.  

Of course hot dogs served as the main course.  Only 1 ticket for a hot dog to make sure they didn't skip over it.  Really hoping no one got sick from binging on candy!!

 And the veggies were free!  Such a steal, right?!

The cake was really simple. Just a couple box cake mixes, four 8-inch layers.  Yummy white fluffy frosting.  I found a trick on pinterest to make these super long candles by melting two together. It made the cake unique without being complicated.  
 Favors were loaded into these popcorn bags from the dollar store.  They stashed their leftover candy in with some microwave popcorn, silly string, and glow bracelets.  

Ready for the movie!  Such great boys....all of them!  They watched Avengers and Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief.

We paused in between for cake and presents.  We broke our usual no present rule this year (birthday party usually = birthday present).  But we've been planning something for weeks and figured his birthday was the best time to reveal the big surprise....a trip to Las Vegas with his dad to see BYU and Gonzaga play in the WCC basketball tournament in March.  He was so pumped!!  I went on a trip on my own with my dad when I was 10 years old to Washington DC.  I've always remembered that, and we've been looking for an opportunity to do the same for Carson. The stars aligned and it all worked out including a best friend and his dad joining up with them too.  So fun!  So, so excited for them.  I made an 8 page letter full of all the details.  

His friends sure know what he loves...iTunes gift cards and Skylanders.  He got loaded up with both and is heaven. Still.  

I think Carson and his friends really had a great time.  They were all smiles and chatter with full bellies of unlimited popcorn refills.  I wasn't sure if I was out of my mind when I decided to host  seven 11 year olds for 5 hours, but they are all great kids and made Carson feel so treated on his birthday.  It makes it all worth it!  

Friday, January 25, 2013

{Carson Happenings}

*Photo by Andrea Pasion*

It's one of those years when a lot happens on your birthday.  Carson turned 11 in January.  Yes, 11 years old.  I know I say this every year, but I can't believe it.  I can not wrap my brain around the fact that I have 7 short years left with this boy under my roof.  Time seems to be speeding up, birthdays happening so often, milestones around every corner, and me, as a mom, trying to slow it down.  And it doesn't work.  

He graduated from cub scouts in January.  Cubs only last 3 years before they advance into the Boy Scout program.  I love cubs so much.  The whole family does.  It comes at such a perfect age and the boys enjoy the program the entire 3 years. There is a ton of parent involvement, which makes it all easy to keep track of.  We all loved the pack meetings and activities.  Boy Scouts is more leader-driven, as parents can only encourage their boys (and can't sign stuff off).  It'll be different.  

I can't say I didn't shed some tears when I sewed on the last patches to his cub uniform in preparation for the 'Bridging Ceremony' into Boy Scouts.  He also earned the highest award in Cub Scouts, the Arrow of Light.  

Here he is at 8 years old just entering the program:

And 3 short years later...

Man, when you put them next to each other like that...I can't believe how much he has changed! From a baby face to an almost teenager. And such a handsome kid too!

Carson, We are so glad you are in our family.  We love you so much!  

1. He manages the 'oldest child' spot so well.  He recognizes the perks and extras that come with being the oldest (staying up late, more freedom outside, helping yourself to snacks without asking, etc.) and then also accepts the responsibility too (helping with the little boys, cleaning up after himself, etc.).  He fits the role perfectly.
2. He is learning to be a great babysitter!  He just finished a course at the local fire station and is now officially 'Safe Sitter' certified!  This is so awesome!  Mostly for me because I can leave him for a few hours here and there and Trevor and I have even escaped for dinner after Miles is tucked in bed leaving Carson in charge.  Oh the freedom for all of us ahead...11 years coming, and we finally have groomed our very own babysitter!!  And he does such and awesome job and takes it very seriously (making sure he has his babysitting backpack with all his supplies...(first aid kit, CPR instructions, emergency numbers)).  
3.  He continues to be a great reader and a great student.  Math and writing are his favorite subjects.  The teacher is trying to get him to write bigger because he has tiny hand writing like his dad.  
4.  He still loves playing with his siblings.  Whether it is 'play school', legos, trains, or setting up movies...he still has a ball with them mixed in with various arguments and fighting (he wouldn't be normal if that didn't happen, right?!)
5. He is glued to his iPod.  He's had it a year now, and it's still his most favorite toy.  He'll text me from the next room, play word games with his grandma, build cities in Minecraft with his cousins, and bug me endlessly for new apps.  I've still got him on tight restrictions (no internet, no facebook, no instagram, no YouTube) and he hasn't really tried to push those limits. Yet.  I have mama bear syndrome on this one.  I'll hold out as long as I can.  And talk, talk, talk every week about steering clear of anything inappropriate.  
6.  He's loving the new basketball hoop (even if I did run over the base and crack it enough so it won't hold water. Ugh. Not proud of that one! Trevor is fixing it up, thankfully).  He loves playing outside in general...bikes, tag, you name it.  If it isn't raining, he wants to be outside.
7.  He has such great church and school friends.  I'm so very grateful he has such awesome role models.  I want him to have a crew of friends that can help each other make good choices.  Especially as we are facing middle school in a year and half.  THAT could be the most terrifying parent moment yet.  
8.  He is always the one to volunteer to go to the store with me in the evenings. I shop when Trevor gets home for work, and always enjoy his company. It's a great time for us to chat about school, friends, and life.  I think he actually enjoys being with me. I dread the day when it becomes embarrassing.  
9. He gives me the 'I love you' sign when I drop him off at school. Every day.  Bless his heart.  I love it.

*This was crazy hair day at school (half blue/half red)*

10.  He has such a great relationship with his Dad too.  Trevor makes a point of spending time with him each day.  He usually ends up in Carson's room last after tucking the littler kids in he lays on his bed and they talk, work on homework, play on the iPod, listen to music, and lately have been reading a page or two out of 'Preach my Gospel'.  I'm so excited for them to go on Carson's first scout campout next week.  Boys (and the Dads!) live for this stuff.  It's such an awesome age for dad and son.  They both are eating it up.
11.  His testimony of the gospel is growing.  It's so fun to watch.  He feels so proud when he tags along as home teaching companion with Trevor. He willingly teaches Family Home Evening lessons.  He's working at reading his scriptures every day.  The constant effort for family prayers, scripture study, family home evening,'s all starting to rub off on him on an individual level.  

*photo by Andrea Pasion*

Oh, I feel like I could go on and on...'cause that's what moms just do.  But I do really feel so blessed to have him for a son. I can't imagine our family without him. He was gone at his cousins house for just a couple days, and we missed him like crazy!  

His 11th birthday was a blast!  We had a fun movie birthday party for him on his actual coming up next!

Friday, January 18, 2013

{Family Ski Day}

We've been wanting to get the kids in ski lessons for a couple years. I was determined to make it happen this year. So shortly after Christmas we reserved a spot for the kids to take a beginning ski lesson up at Snoqualmie Summit.  We left Miles home with a babysitter the entire day, and headed out bright and early to be at resort by 8:30am. The lesson price included the lift ticket and rental.  

The resort gives themselves a full hour to outfit the kids with skis and boots. So the lessons didn't actually start until 10AM.  In the mean time Trev and I rented skis (huge line).  

Rylan loved the part where they put on one ski and let you scoot around using your other foot (just like a scooter).  But they said he fizzled out after an hour and went back into the clubhouse to drink hot cocoa. Yah, money well spent.  Gotta wait one more year (or two) for him I guess. He sure looked cute in his little skis though!

Addy and Carson both enjoyed their classes and became pros at the little hill with the 'magic carpet' conveyor belt to the top.  

My little skiers and snowboarder.  

Carson picked up the snowboard pretty quickly. He's awesome on his ripstick skateboard, so I knew he had the general motion down.  He jumped 3 levels in one day and now needs help making good turns.  Unfortunately Trevor and I couldn't help him one bit...I needed my awesome snowboarding sisters!  
 And a blast from the past. Here is Carson in Jan 2006 in Park City.  Oh he looks so much like Rylan!

The weather was amazing. We were peeling off layers and the sun felt so good! We ate a yummy lunch outside before getting everyone back in their gear.  It's half the battle just managing all the STUFF.  We rented a locker close by that we could get in an out of all day and that was a life savor for cameras, gloves, food, etc.  

But after lunch Ry was spent.  My sister lives just 20 minutes away, so I called and asked if we could drop him off for a couple hours.  She totally came to the rescue!  Trevor was down and back in less than an hour and that gave us time to play with Carson and Addy.  

Addy and Carson both rode the chair lift a couple times. Addison was super reluctant...I almost had to force her on as she was about to jump out of line at the very end.  But I'm so glad they did that because she gained so much confidence after doing it once.  Addison gets most improved for the day.  Going from never skiing ever, to riding the chair lift and having a blast making big turns all the way down. She loved it! She was so good!  

I haven't skied in 12 years. Yah.  That long.  And I wasn't ever any good.  Trevor was awesome and patient as I was re-learning.  He picked it back up in an instant, but it takes me a couple times down to get the feel for it again. 

It was a gorgeous day and the kids begged to stay, but we had to get back to the babysitter that was costing us a small fortune.  I really hope we can get up one more time this year.  It's an expensive sport so I am on the look-out for some used gear.  If we are going to go a couple times a year we need to start collecting our own stuff.  I always like getting the kids out there trying new things.  It's good for all of us (especially me this time) to get out of our comfort zone and try some thing new!  I want to be a family the enjoys doing stuff together, and I think part of that is just providing opportunities and experiencing things together.   

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

{Welcome 2013!}

 After Christmas we got to enjoy Uncle Tyler for a week!  The kids had so much fun with him.  We ventured out ice skating one day (the kids have been begging for months). It was a good thing we had an extra adult because I forgot how tough ice skating is for kids.  Addy picked it up the quickest and was cruising around in no time. Carson followed her lead eventually (not to be shown up by his sister!).  And the little boys stayed with one of us the entire time. It's exhausting and a killer on your back, but super fun for an hour or so.  

Uncle Tyler taught Carson and Addy to play Settlers of Catan.  Carson loved it!  And even when Tyler was trying to help them win...luck (or skill) just seems to always be on his side. I don't think I've ever seen him lose a game before.  

We attended a few movies and rented a few more.  We caught up on a big list of shows to watch...I love when we have time for that.  Les Mis was definitely on the top of the list and did not disappoint.  Loved, loved, loved it.  

We were sad to see Tyler go...but as soon as we dropped him off at the airport we drove straight to my sister's house for a New Year's Eve celebration.  The guys both had to work so Reese and I had fun with the kiddos during the day before they joined us that evening. We haven't seen the Apken crew much during the holidays and the kids couldn't wait to have fun with their cousins.  

Fin wasn't feeling good, but still adorable as always.  Miles was loving the ranch dip a little too much.  
 Reese had the kids pop a balloon every hour that contained an activity to do.  A major hit.  The marshmallow snowball fight was a favorite for sure.  

And these two helped make a yummy treat.  

We face-timed with Grandma and played some games and ate dinner (take out Cheesecake Factory for adults...delish).  

We did the kid 'countdown' at about 10pm.  You can't tell just how noisy these kids were from the picture below.  They were wild!  
 We had a few poppers and streamers.
 And a few toasts to share.  

The adults fizzled out on any major activity after wrestling the kids to sleep. I was falling asleep watching Ryan Seacrest. But we rallied enough to kiss when the clock struck 12.  Happy New Year 2013!!

The next day we headed just a few minutes away to a fun sledding hill. My sister lives IN the mountains, so we have to take advantage of her being so close to fun outdoor adventures.  Other than a few hills in the neighborhoods, we haven't taken the kids on an official 'sledding' trip. They had a blast.  My sister stayed home with Finley (still not feeling good) and Miles.  We'll save his first sledding experience when he as a touch more tolerance for cold (i.e. not anytime soon).

The SnoPark was packed, but we eventually made it up the hill after parking a mile away.  The guys just pulled the kiddos in the sleds...worked out great!  

 Addy was really brave at first, but then had a bad fall and wasn't into it much after that.  
 Trev and Carson got some serious speed going to together.

Carson and Paige were giggling the whole way down.
 Even after they slid into the ditch.  

Lots of trips back up the hill and you start to peel off layers. The weather was perfect. Sheltered from the wind and dry.  

Brynnie looking as cute as can be. 

We had such an awesome start to 2013! Thank you Apkens for hosting our crew. We had such a fun time!!

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My little blog is a family journal. I include things on here I want to remember years and years from now. So when I post a zillion is because I want to have it for my posterity. So please forgive the often posted-picture overload.

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