Archive for the ‘Milestones’ Category

Big Boy Bed

16 Aug

Koren’s bed just got an 18″ extension… which was long overdue, as you can see from where his feet come to.  But he’s very proud of his “new” bed and what a big boy he is now.  Thanks Jens for figuring out how to extend this counter-intuitive piece of work!


First Grade

14 Aug

The first day of school snuck up on me this year.  Seriously.  To the point that I was running around THIS MORNING trying to find a backpack that a) was big enough to hold actual school books, and b) didn’t look like it had been through a viking invasion.

Kaelin was a little apprehensive beforehand, but still did better than I expected, considering it was the first day of a new class in a new school where she hardly knew anybody and the few people she did know weren’t in her class.  When she came home, she was full of sunshine and apparently had a “GREAT!” day.  She even got to see her friends from other classes throughout the day.  Her teacher seems really sweet and we have heard nothing but good things about her.  I’m looking forward to the rest of this year, I think it will be a really good one.

Also… I’ve always been kind of anti-uniform.  But seriously?  Could she be cuter?


So, This Happened

25 Jul

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Posted in Milestones


Ahoy Matey! Pirate Party Decor

09 Jun

For Koren’s fourth birthday, he chose a pirate theme.  My goal was to go for “cute pirate” rather than “scary pirate” for obvious reasons.  I originally intended to stay completely away from any skull and crossbones imagery.  Unfortunately, I soon discovered that it is pretty much impossible to throw a pirate party without the famed Jolly Roger.  Still, I tried to minimize it as much as possible.  After an obscene amount of time spent on Pinterest, I narrowed down my ideas and ended up with the following:


The Setup - before the chaos ensued.

It was going to cost me over $100 to rent a bunch of kiddie-sized tables and chairs for a few hours, so I sent Jens to Home Depot for a cheap plank of plywood. We placed it over a coffee table and covered it with a tablecloth. In lieu of chairs, I used foam puzzle floor mats for the kids to sit on - which also helped protect the carpet.

Kids' table, complete with Ship Sale Sandwiches (thanks Mom & Dad for the PB&J cutouts!) and Scallywag Shish Kabobs

Cake Table with cardboard ship's mast. I'm pretty pleased with the ship's mast, which is part of a cardboard ship I plan to assemble for Koren to play with in the near future. Kaelin got a cardboard tower playhouse as souvenir from her Tangled party, and it was something both kids were able to appreciate for months after the party.

Cake Table

The Cake. See the previous post for details on this bad boy.

"Oz-ARRRG-ka" water ... Get it??? ARRRG! That was Jens' idea. I can always rely on him for a good pun. Or a bad one.

Fish & Chips (Goldfish crackers and carrot chips)

Cannon Balls (chocolate donuts)

Jolly Roger Jello (blue jello with an orange slice, a recycled idea from Kaelin's Tangled Party)

Because you can't have a pirate party without Pirate's Booty.

Blackbeard's Berries - these were a hit with the kids.

It kind of bugged me that my bowls said "POPCORN" on them, so at the last minute I sliced up some thank you notes and taped over them. Because I'm a little obsessive like that.

Pirate's Loot Table

I was pretty pleased with how everything turned out.  After weeks of planning and assembling, it was finally time for the festivities to begin!



Pirate Treasure Cake

09 Jun

This was my first time experimenting with ganache instead of frosting.  It went pretty well, though I ended up layering it really thickly because I wasn’t very good at smoothing it effectively before it hardened.  Even though it made the cake sturdier, it was kind of difficult to cut and ganache is really, really rich – so next time I will make an effort to keep it thin.

This was after the first layer of ganache - I added a white chocolate layer on top of this.

I covered the ganached cake in marshmallow fondant and added red stripes.

I molded the lid for the chest out of gum paste.

I then painted the lid with melted chocolate in the hopes that when the chocolate hardened, it would help keep the gum paste in the proper shape.

I discovered that my treasure chest base was half an inch wider than the lid, so I had to trim it.

I covered the base and lid of the chest with brown fondant, then scored it with a pizza cutter and painted it to make it look more like wood.

Wet paint.

With gold coins.

I made the gold accents for the chest out of fondant painted with gold and edible glitter.

I assembled the chest base on the cake and accessorized with some raw sugar and chocolate coins.

Finally, I put the top on the chest and held my breath waiting for it to break and fall.


Miraculously, it held together.

And even stayed put through the party the following day.

AND I even kept my kids' fingers out of it (not an easy task) for a full day. Though Koren periodically snuck into the laundry room to open the fridge and "just look at it."

Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out.  It’s no Tangled tower, but I also didn’t as much time at my disposal as I did for the Tangled cake.  It ended up about half as detailed as I had initially imagined, but by Thursday night, I had hit that “Screw it” point that seems to happen toward the end of every large undertaking.  You know when you’re trying to move and instead of packing up those last two boxes of Random, you just start chucking stuff in the trash bag and don’t even care because you’re too busy freaking out about all the other stuff you still have to do?

Yeah.  It’s like that.

But really, it was mostly fun.  And by the time the next birthday rolls around, I’ll probably be ready to do it again.



Kindergarten Graduation

01 Jun

Ok to be honest, I was a little skeptical about Kindergarten Graduation.  I mean, it’s not exactly the culmination of years of hard work and tuition payments in a degree that magically qualifies a kid to be gainfully employed and start paying off those student loans.  It’s KINDERGARTEN.  It’s like throwing a celebration after finishing the first layer of the Great Pyramid.


It was important to Kaelin.  And I had missed the other year-end activities that always take place during the work day: Field Day, Field Trip, Pizza Party, Prince and Princess Parade, etc.

So missing Kindergarten Graduation was not an option.

And really?  It was the CUTEST. THING. EVER.

Each kid got a graduation hat and a Kindergarten Diploma.  Kaelin’s teacher talked to the kids about what they had accomplished through the year and how proud she was of them.  She told them that if they kept working hard at school, they could be anything they wanted to be, just like she was able to do.

Then each graduate got to walk across the stage to receive a diploma and a hug.

While the parents clapped wildly and took a bazillion pictures.

Afterward, each class was assigned a hallway to congregate in for pictures with their teacher, family, and friends.

It was so fun to see the kids interact and celebrate with each other.  Kaelin was really proud of herself and loved enjoying the celebration of her achievement.



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Posted in Kaelin, Milestones, Photos, School



05 Feb

Anyone who has met Kaelin for more than 5 minutes knows my kid is a total weenie.  I can say that because she gets it from me.

If there’s any possibility that trying something new will result in any form of discomfort, whether physical or emotional, she will refuse to attempt it.

Which is why I was shocked beyond belief when she decided out of the blue to get her ears pierced during a recent trip to the mall.

She had asked about it several days prior and I was honest with her and told her that it might hurt for a little while, but usually wasn’t bad and didn’t last more than a few seconds.  She immediately decided that she would never ever get her ears pierced because a lifetime of getting to wear pretty earrings was simply not worth a potential 5 seconds of pain.

As we were walking through the mall to get her hair cut, I teasingly told her that we could get her ears pierced while we were there.  But instead of the reactionary dramatic decline I was expecting, she was actually quite curious about it and wanted to go see how it was done.

So we walked into Icing and there was another little girl there getting her ears pierced – and FREAKING OUT like someone was trying to cut her toes off one at a time.  Screaming, flailing back and forth, covering her ears, the works (why her mother insisted on going through with it is beyond me – she ended up with uneven earrings).

I thought surely that was going to be the end of any hope for Kaelin getting hers done, but after Drama Queen’s piercing was finished, she quit throwing a fit and started smiling.  Apparently Kaelin decided then and there that if this kid could do it, so could she.

She picked out her earrings and sat in my lap.  I convinced her to get them both done at the same time so it would be over with quicker, and before she knew it, it was over.

One second later, she felt a jolt of pain and started crying, but then the employee held up a mirror and showed Kaelin her new ears.  Through her tears, Kaelin started giggling.  “I have earrings!  I actually did it!  I got my ears pierced!”

The pain subsided quickly, but the glee lasted the rest of the day.  She still periodically says to me, “I can’t believe I actually got my ears pierced!”

I’m so proud of her.  It was completely her decision and she followed through with it, even though she knew it might hurt.  She wears her earrings like a trophy and now gives me a hard time about the fact that I wasn’t brave enough to get my ears pierced until I was 12.

I asked her what she would say if she had a friend who was thinking about getting her ears pierced.

“I would say that it hurts a little bit, but you can still do it.  Also, Mama, I’m totally going to trust you the next time you tell me something because you told me I should get them both done at the same time and I’m so glad I did.”

Score.  Mom points.

Of course, now Koren wants to get his ears pierced.


The Gift

20 Nov

We talked about it again this morning.  Today is the day to turn in the OCC boxes, and Kaelin was still having a hard time letting go of the toy she had somehow developed an extreme attachment to, despite the fact that it had never belonged to her.

When yesterday’s blog post hit my Facebook account, I received a few comments from friends that were very insightful.  One in particular struck a chord with me (Paige, I hope you don’t mind if I quote you):

I remember various didactic stories meant to instill generosity that simply didn’t impress me. I *do* remember that the Christmas scenes in the Little House on the Prairie books, and the uncomfortable plots about Nellie Oleson’s nicer doll (and nicer things in general) did make an impression. But I’m also fairly certain that I was very careful not to show it, because I was sick unto death of didactic stories.

In short: even if it doesn’t show, it doesn’t mean you’re not making the right impression.

It immediately reminded me of several instances growing up in which I had done something very foolish and my mom called me out on it.  I don’t have the slightest memory of what I did to deserve the verbal lashing, but the thing I do remember is refusing to give her the repentant reaction I knew she was hoping to get from me while she chastised me.  (Remember the part where my daughter is stubborn?  Guess who she got it from.)  Instead, I acted as though her words were bouncing off a brick wall because I knew it would only make her angrier.  It totally worked.

I began to wonder if that was what went on yesterday – if, instead of rejecting my message, Kaelin was rejecting my negative judgement of her.  So as I talked with her this morning, I was careful to come from a different angle.

She started to tear up again at the idea of giving the toy dog away.  We talked about sacrificial giving.  We talked about how God wants us to be cheerful givers and how the gifts he appreciates the most are the ones we find difficult to give.  We talked about the idea that if you allow your own selfish wants to be more important than making others happy, then the gift is no longer truly a gift – it’s just leftovers.

She seemed to be somewhat more receptive, but each segment of conversation kept coming back around to “but will I get one of these dogs too?”  She got a little frustrated when I refused to answer that question because I found it irrelevant to the task at hand.  We talked about how this gift for children in another country is completely unrelated to what she may or may not get for Christmas.  I did tell her that the dog cost all of $5 so if she was really that into it, she should save up her allowance.  I’m not sure if that was a mistake or not, but she immediately backed off of it.

We talked about how important it is to be a person who thinks of others instead of self, and how nearly all of the world’s problems are caused by people who can’t get past themselves.  People who let their own desires be more important than the needs and happiness of others.  I told her how desperately I want to be sure she doesn’t become one of those people.

We talked about what a good girl she is – that she gets good grades, she minds, she rarely misbehaves, she’s polite, she’s smart, and that I was very proud of her for each of those reasons… but that having a heart for others is more important than all of those things.

When we arrived at church, I handed her the box to bring inside.  She asked if the dog she wanted was in this box and I told her yes.  She was silent for a minute as we headed toward the building.  Then she looked up at me and smiled.

“Mama?  I really hope I’ll be able to buy one of these dogs with my money.  But even if I can’t, I’m ok with it.”