My Mini Monets

Jan 30, 2014

Last Saturday, Sunshine and I embarked on a new adventure together. It is an adventure that has been in the works for many months now. I've spent a lot of time thinking and planning and trying to figure out how to make it possible, and Saturday was the big day- our first Mini Monet art class.

I love that Beebs and I get to do preschool together. Preschool is "ours" and I love the time I spend with Beebs, helping her and my other students learn and grow. But as I've enjoyed this time with Beebs, I have realized that I wanted something similar for Sunshine and I. A way for us to bond and connect through learning. I started brainstorming ways I could do some at home learning with Sunshine and ultimately decided that expanding on her love of art would be a great way for us to learn together while doing something she enjoys. I decided to start an "art club" for other children Sunshine's age and the response has been  awesome.

Right now, our Mini Monet class has 5 students including Sunshine, but I have a list of additional people who are interested in joining, if (when!) I start a new session. We meet once a month for about two hours. We spend the first 20-30 minutes learning about one of the world's great artists, and then we do a work of art in the style of that artist. At the end of the semester (the class is running January through May) we will have a small art show where friends and family can come and see our masterpieces.

Saturday was a smashing success... in my opinion! We learned about Piet Mondrian, and touched a little bit on the De Stijl art movement. After we'd learned some facts about our artist of the month and discussed some new art terminology like primary colours, negative space, and horizontal and vertical lines, we headed to the back yard to create our own Mondrian inspired art work. We used foam core boards, acrylic craft paint and black electrical tape to mimic Mondrian's style. The girls did an awesome job on their paintings and I cannot get over how much fun we had together! I've seen several of my students when picking up Sunshine at school this past week, and each one of them has run up to me to say hi and tell me the facts they remember learning in our class.

I am so glad to have this fun new way to spend time with Sunshine. It is great for our relationship and I love that we are exploring something that truly interests her. We have some really fun artists and projects lined up for the rest of the school year and I just know we are going to have a blast. I only wish I had thought to do this sooner.

A Very Disney Weekend

Jan 28, 2014

To finish off Beebs's fourth birthday celebration, Bruce and I surprised the wee ones with a weekend at Disneyland, and we brought Bruce Wayne's dad along with us. We sent Sunshine off to school Friday morning, then hurried to pack up the car. Bruce's dad arrived at our house and we piled into the car telling Beebs that we were going out for hamburgers with Grandpa, at which point we drove over and signed Sunshine out of school. As soon as she got in the car and saw Grandpa and her road trip bucket, she caught on to what was happening. It took Beebs another 10 or 15 minutes to figure out that this was more than just a typical lunch date with Grandpa. Once she finally realized what was going on, both Beebs and Sunshine were beyond excited.

The highlights of our trip...

* Dinner at Slater's 50/50 on our way into Anaheim. They are known for their 50/50 burger which is 50% ground beef and 50% ground bacon. It was to-die-for.
* Riding Radiator Springs Racers over, and over, and over again. Thank you Fast Passes and Parent Swaps.
* Waiting in the shortest lines ever for Toy Story Midway Mania, because now when California Adventure opens, everyone books it to Cars Land.
* Cars Land. It's my most favourite place ever. I love the Cars movies, I love Radiator Springs. I could spend all my Disneyland time in Cars Land and come home a happy girl.
* Bruce bought me a pomegranate limeade from the Cozy Cone, served in a traffic cone cup.
* We ate lots of pineapple whips. We always come home from Disneyland sad that we didn't eat more pineapple whips, so this time we ate plenty.
* Breakfast with Minnie at the Plaza Inn restaurant. We met lots of characters and ate really yummy food.
* Dinner at the Blue Bayou (the restaurant inside Pirates). That place is amazing.
* Watching Man Cub light up as he rode the carousel and watched the Pixar Play Parade.
* Beebs's impression of what people do when they go down the waterfall on Splash Mountain... see photo collage below.
* Man Cub's love of watching the logs come down the Splash Mountain waterfall.
* Finally getting to ride on the canoes... if you don't row, they don't go. Good thing Bruce and I were willing to row, because several people in our canoe were there for a free ride! And Sunshine's paddle ended up overboard. It was really fun. A great way to see The Rivers of America.
* Watching the candy apple makers... we spend a lot of time plastered to the window of the candy shop. And this trip, we actually bought apples! Beebs chose a Mike Wazowski apple and Sunshine picked one that resembled Minnie Mouse. We brought them home and enjoyed them when the "home from vacation" blues hit. They were the perfect remedy.
* Bruce got "written up" by the California Adventure Police for "arresting expression of emancipated exuberance" and "infectious display of municipal optimism" and "proud policing".
* Watching the Aladdin show and taking Man Cub to Playhouse Disney Live. The shows at Disneyland just cannot be beat.
* Did I mention Cars Land being a highlight of this trip? Seriously! I love that place. And we collected several new Cars buttons to add to my collection. Ü

And now for my favourite pictures from the trip...

Pancakes & Pajamas | A Fourth Birthday Celebration

Jan 24, 2014

Beebs had a lot of ideas when it came to planning her fourth birthday party. Originally, she wanted a mermaid-princess-dolphin-jaguar party. I wasn't exactly sure how to pull that off, so we finally settled on a "Pancakes and Pajamas" theme. Beebs loves pancakes, and with the exception of a good fluffy tutu, pajamas are her favourite thing to wear. I thought it would be a simple theme that the kiddos would have fun with. And I was right!

The Invitations

Now that I've figured out how to "draw" in Photoshop, I go a little crazy designing things. But look at those bunny slippers! I love how the invite turned out, and we ended up using pieces of it for the invite to our Primary "Meet the Teacher" pajama party.

The Menu

We kept the menu simple... a pancake bar, Gogurts and Capri Suns. I had a variety of toppings for the pancake bar- butter, maple syrup, a strawberry fruit topping, sliced bananas, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles and whipped cream. I am pretty sure we could have offered just sprinkles and all the kiddos would have gone home happy! But the adults in attendance had fun turning their little silver dollar pancakes into works of art with the various toppings.

The Decorations

I didn't go very fancy with the decorations- just some streamers and balloons. None of it even fell in line with the theme. But it was colourful and fun and Beebs loved it.

The Cake

We actually decided to ditch cake for this party and went with donuts instead. Beebs LOVES donuts. In fact, one of our favourite traditions is a Friday morning "donut date" after we drop Sunshine off at school. The morning of Beebs' birthday, she and I got up early and went to our local grocery store that makes some killer donuts and picked up three dozen in all our favourite flavours. When it came time to blow out the candles, Beebs picked a strawberry iced long john as her piece of "cake".

Birthday Girl Attire

Beebs wore pjs! She picked some pink "feet jammies" from her pajama drawer and she looked so cute in them.

The Guests

This was the first year that Beebs had a definite opinion about who was invited to her party. She wanted all of her preschool friends to come as well as a handful of friends from church and a few of Sunshine's friends that she just adores. Almost everyone who was invited was able to attend, and we all wore pajamas.

The Activities

I had originally planned a few activities to keep the kiddos occupied, but when it came down to it, they were all perfectly content to eat, watch Beebs open her presents and run around outside. It was the most beautiful January day imaginable, so I just let them run and play. I did have a table with colouring supplies on it, and two options of "decorate your own pajamas" colouring pages. A few of the little ones coloured, but most were much happier running around and playing.

The Party Favours

For the party favours, Beebs helped me write a little thank you note for each person on the wrapper of a Rice Krispy treat, and we packaged that together with a sleep mask from the Target dollar spot. It made for a cute party favour, and several parents have reported to me that their children insist on sleeping in the masks almost every night. Ü


After Beebs' birthday party, the girls and I got our hair trimmed and arrived back home just in time for Bruce Wayne to wake up. We then celebrated the birthday girl as a family with presents and Papa Murphy's pizza and cookie dough for dinner. Beebs requested a Nothing Bundt Cake as her birthday cake and by the time the day came to a close, we were all experiencing a bit of a sugar high.

It was a wonderful birthday for our sweet Beeba. She really did seem to enjoy every moment of her special day. And just 7 days later, we continued the celebration when we surprised the girls with a trip to Disneyland in honour of Beebs turning four. But that deserves it's own post.

Wrapping Up Twenty-Thirteen

Jan 22, 2014

My grand plans for catching up on blogging before the start of the year failed miserably. And it really stinks to start out the new year "behind". Especially when we are already more than halfway through January (WHAAAAT!?!) and I have plenty I want to blog about for this new year already. So, I'm going to do a little recap of what I hadn't gotten around to blogging, and then I'm moving forward!

I left off with our end of September trip to San Diego, which brings me to...

October has been a hard month for our family for the past few years. This year, October 5th marked 3 years since Bruce Wayne's mom passed away and it still has not gotten any easier to be without her. But, this year was the first year since she passed that October did not feel like a sad month. It was filled with plenty of excitement and happiness and I am sure his mom was celebrating with us.

The beginning of October is when we found out Bruce Wayne was being promoted, and he started his sergeant training at the end of October. And the middle of October brought our first family trip to Disneyland since Man Cub was born. It was so much fun. We all loved showing the little man around our favourite place. Plus, it was Halloween time at Disneyland which is pretty awesome. Two of my brothers met us there and we all went to Mickey's Trick or Treat party together, dressed as Peter Pan and company. I was Peter, Bruce was Hook, Sunshine was Tink and Beebs was Wendy. Man Cub played the role of Tick Tock Crock and my two brothers were members of Hook's crew. One of them had even found a perfect Smee hat. I think we were a pretty good looking group. The only down side of the trip was that my camera was malfunctioning, so the only pictures I have from Man Cub's first Disney trip are iPhone quality.

October also included a field trip for Sunshine. It worked out that I was able to attend the field trip with her and it was so much fun. We went to a local farm where we explored the fields and picked some fresh produce, saw lots of animals and went through a corn maze. I loved watching Sunshine interact with all of her friends. She is such a social butterfly. Maybe a little too much sometimes... like when she should be listening to the teacher instead of talking Ü but I am grateful for how friendly she is and her eagerness to make everyone feel loved and included. And have I mentioned how much I love her school??? Going on the field trip with her just reminded me of how blessed we are to have such a great school so close to us. She has had amazing teachers, and is making so many great friends. And I love all the other moms I've gotten to know so far. It is a great school to be a part of.

November was a busy month as we prepared for the fast approaching holiday season. My parents came into town to celebrate Planksgiving with us... any Hart of Dixie fans? We decided to give our Thanksgiving celebration a pirate flair, so the girls dressed up in piratey clothes and wished everyone a "Happy Planksgiving". We had our traditional steak and crab leg dinner, eaten outside on a beautiful Arizona fall day. The food was delicious and the company was fantastic, but my favourite part of Thanksgiving was when Sunshine got a  brilliant idea. She had heard me mention a little girl I knew of whose family was really struggling over the holidays. They had very little by way of material possessions, right down to not even having a couch in their front room. While at my father-in-law's for dinner, Sunshine started picking oranges from his orange trees and decided she was going to have an orange stand. She was going to sell oranges to raise money for this little girl "who has nothing, not even a couch". It was the cutest thing ever, and I posted a picture of it on Instagram and that's when the text messages started rolling in. By the time all was said and done, not only had Sunshine earned a little bit of money which she put towards a Christmas gift for the little girl, but she had also been the inspiration behind a couch, Christmas tree and tree decor, a television and other odds and ends being donated to the family. It was the PERFECT reminder of what the holiday season is truly about and I am so grateful for the wonderful example Sunshine is to me, of selfless service. She has such a tender heart and is so good about thinking of others instead of herself.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, the girls and I did one of our favourite Christmas traditions- we got dressed up in our Christmas dresses and went to a show. This year it was the Phoenix Symphony Holiday Pops, and my mum and baby (ha- she's 18 now!) sister were here to go with us. I thought it was a fantastic show and I am hoping Bruce and I can go see it together next year. It definitely put me in the Christmas spirit. 

December was wonderful this year. A little crazy... but isn't the end of the year always that way!? I only did photos for a couple of my long standing clients, so I didn't spend the entire month editing. Bruce was officially working the position of sergeant, so he was working a flat 40 hours a week instead of the 60+ that being a detective often meant. I say it was a little crazy, but in reality, it was far, FAR less crazy than any other Christmas time we've had recently. We went to the temple lights, decorated gingerbread houses, did a small amount of Christmas treat making and a whole lot of Christmas treat eating. We watched The Santa Clause trilogy approximately one thousand times and sang our hearts out to Christmas tunes. We enjoyed opening the Lego Friends advent calendar each day, and running to the tree to discover Christmas Elf candy each morning (Man Cub was a huge fan of that tradition!). We read so many stories by the light of the Christmas tree. It was such a fun month leading up to Christmas.

And Christmas itself did not disappoint either. Christmas Eve was spent at my father in law's, chowing down on soup and sandwiches before reading the Christmas story together. Bruce didn't work until 9pm on Christmas Day, so we were able to enjoy our normal Christmas morning festivities... I woke up before anyone else and waited as patiently as I could until about 6:30 when Sunshine finally woke up and together we got the rest of the family out of bed. We started with stockings, then moved on to the presents. Everyone's Christmas wishes came true... Sunshine got an American Girl doll, Beebs got the Lego dolphin cruise ship and Man Cub got a big whee, which he found immediately upon entering the living room, and did not want to get off of no matter what other presents we showed him.

But Bruce Wayne and I got the most amazing gift of all... his dad had a quilt made for us, using pieces of Bruce's mom's most loved shirts. "The Grandma Blankie" is sure to be one of our most prized possessions for many years to come. I love snuggling up under it and remembering Becky wearing all of those shirts. And each time I find Sunshine curled up under it on the couch, my heart just melts. It is truly a treasure for our family.

After presents, Bruce Wayne's family all came up for brunch. We spent time with them, and then the girls and I built Legos and watched new movies while Bruce slept in preparation for going back to work. Then we had our traditional Christmas dinner of roast and Yorkshire puddings before sending Bruce off to serve and protect.

The rest of the year was pretty relaxed. We packed away Christmas on December 26th, so we could all focus on Beebs's upcoming 4th birthday. On the 27th we celebrated my mother in law's birthday with lunch at her favourite restaurant, my homemade carrot cake and a trip to the cemetery. And the last few days of 2013 were spent with our awesome friends from Coronado who came to visit. Nic and I hit up Last Chance for some smoking deals on kids shoes and stayed up late doing "crafties" and took all the kiddos to SkyZone. It was a great visit with great friends. We miss them so much and really wish they hadn't left Arizona all those years ago! 

New Years Eve we had dinner and s'mores, Cornhole and Catch Phrase with some good friends from church, and with that, 2013 came to an end. 

It was a fun and exciting and crazy busy year that flew by in the blink of an eye, but oh what a great year it was! 2013 treated us very well. Here's to hoping 2014 does the same.

Happy 4th Birthday Beebs!

Jan 3, 2014

Happy Birthday Sweet Beebs!

Four years old today! It has been 1461 days since you arrived on this earth. 1461days since that traumatic afternoon, when by all rights, we could have lost you. But you were strong then, and you are strong now. You've been a fighter since day 1.

You are one of the strongest and most stubborn little girls I know. Sometimes it can be maddening, especially when all I want you to do is go to bed or buckle your seat belt. It is not uncommon for you to fight me tooth and nail when I ask you to do something, but as frustrating as it can be in the moment, I will forever be grateful for your strong and stubborn personality. Without it, I'm not sure you would have survived the circumstances surrounding your birth, and life without you would be pretty dull!

You keep us hopping, sweet girl! You are so full of life and personality. You have such an active imagination and such a strong determination to do things your own way. This is especially evident in your unique sense of style. I love letting you dress yourself each day. You  have a way of putting together outfits that should in no way, shape or form work, but then you strike a pose and it all comes together. Your confidence is inspiring and I have no doubt that you can do great things.

The older you get, the more you are becoming sure of yourself. In the past year, we've noticed what could be perceived as a bossy streak in you. We are trying hard to teach you not to push others away by always needing to be in control, while still allowing this trait to shine. You have the makings of a great leader. I can't wait to see where your strengths take you.

You still love your "Darbies" and Little People. You can spend hours playing Polly Pockets and Legos, by yourself or with a friend. You love being social, but crave your space and alone time. You need it. It is not good for you to go too long without some quiet moments to yourself. You love to goof around and laugh and play, but you can also put on one of the most serious faces around. And when you do, it is darn near impossible to get you to crack a smile. But when you do smile, it lights up the room. You have the ability to command the crowd. You have a lot of power for such a pint sized princess.

We love you so very much, and are so grateful that you are a part of our family. You keep life fun and interesting and we cannot wait to see what this next year of life brings for you.

Happy fourth birthday baby girl!

Love always, Mom & Dad

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