Saturday, July 30, 2011

California State Fair

On Monday we did our annual family trip to the California State Fair. This is always so much fun, and I was so happy that Steve was able to get off work a couple hours early and join us there. Our first stop was the petting zoo, which was small but FREE (which was a first). The kids spent at least a half hour in there loving on the animals. Molly and Garrett were in heaven. Garrett wanted to look each animal in the eye, and would say "hi" to them. Paige preferred to admire the animals from behind our legs.

Molly also tried milking an artificial cow! This was such a great idea, because the contraption felt so real, but a cow wasn't having endure dealing with hoards of kids.

Then we walked through the agricultural area and got to enjoy the gardens and bugs on display.

Then it was off to partake in some rides. A friend of mine gave me a huge handful of free ride passes and they lasted us for hours. The first ride was just Molly and Daddy, because we weren't sure how thrilled Garrett and Paige would be able them (although they were both just tall enough for many of the kiddie rides).

Once that first ride started up, Garrett made it very apparent that he wanted to join the fray (read: he screamed the whole time). So we let him and Molly ride together next time. Garrett wasn't quite sure what he thought of the ride, but it was so heart-warming to watch Molly reach over, hold his hand and talk to him so he wouldn't be scared. What a big sister she is!

We enjoyed a few more rides before having our dinner. Paige even tried going on the kiddie train, although she was not thrilled about it. And I was so impressed that Molly went down the giant slide all by herself!

Then we sat down and had some dinner. I didn't want to spend a bundle on food, so we just enjoyed the picnic I packed. But we couldn't help but ogle some of the crazy fair food. Check out these menu options: raccoon on a stick, Rocky Mountain oysters, chocolate covered scorpions, and even deep-fried butter. Blech!

For a treat, the kids each got a frozen slushy drink. They each wanted a different color, and we got a lot of laughs at their brightly colored tongues afterwards! Molly's was red, Garrett's was orange, and Paige's was purple!

We left when the sun started setting. The low sunlight washing over the fair made everything such amazing colors and I would have been more than happy just running around taking pictures with my camera. But that wasn't going to happen, because the kids had hit the wall and were melting down. BUT I was able to snap some one-handed pictures while I was pushing the double stroller with my other hand and trying to make a quick exit. I love how they turned out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

So much for a slow summer...

Well, I haven't been blogging much lately, primarily because we have been so BUSY! I was dreading the summer, because I was worried that I was going to have a hard time filling our days. That is anything but reality. Between play dates and swim lessons and speech therapy... we are on the run. At least it's keeping us out of trouble.

Last weekend, Steve and Molly camped in the back yard. It have become annual thing for her to do with her Daddy. I think both Steve and I are looking forward to being able to camp as a family when Garrett and Paige are a little older. We could probably have done it this summer, but it's going to be WAY more enjoyable in a year or two.

We've also spent a good portion of the summer in a pool, whether it's for swim lessons or a weekly pool date. The swim lessons are going so well and Molly is swimming fairly well now. She's also pretty confident putting her head under water and flipping upside down, and it's so cool to see how comfortable she's getting in the pool. Paige thinks she can swim, and actually jumped off the step at swim lessons and swam UNDERWATER a few feet to come to me. She has no problem going under water, and although I'm happy she's comfortable in the pool, her confidence is a little scary because she can't swim (even though she THINKS she can). Garrett is in the pool, laughs nervously the whole time because he wants to enjoy it, but is obviously still pretty timid of the whole prospect.

Every Wednesday, we have a standing pool playdate with my friend and her 5-year old twin girls at their grandparents' house. It's always so much fun and I really think it's been the positive peer pressure of being in the pool with friends that has given Molly confidence in water.

Although Garrett and Paige love the water and the companionship, I think they love the Popsicles as much. Note Paige showing everyone her blue tongue.

Christy and I have also swapped five-year olds a couple of times. While we were getting ready for Molly's birthday party, Christy took Molly for most of the day and spoiled her rotten. They went for a hike along the river, fed the ducks, and I think there was some ice cream involved too. Tonight I've taken her two girls so that Christy and her husband can have a night to themselves. Do I have any pictures of the sleepover? Nope... I've been too busy caring for five children and forgot to even pick up my camera. Sigh... But needless to say, there was ice cream involved once again.

It's been such a great summer that it's hard to believe there's only a month left! Next week we leave for our annual trek up to British Columbia which will be fun (although the driving part... not so fun). The summer will be over before we know it! Then Molly is off to kindergarten. Wow. Here's to enjoying the last of our summer!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Molly

Today my sweet little Molly turned five years old. It's hard to believe quite frankly. We decided to have her party on her actual birthday and Molly was very specific that she wanted a "Tangled" Rapunzel birthday party. This year was the first year that she had a specific idea in mind of what she wanted... so I tried everything I could to exceed those expectations.

While I was surfing the net looking for Tangled party ideas, she saw a cake that looked Rapunzel's tower. She absolutely squealed for joy and announced that THIS was the cake she wanted. Oh great. I've always wanted to try a fancy cake, so why not? Right? Sigh.... So, we started prepping the cake a week before and Molly helped me bake the actual cakes. Then we froze them for decorating later.

A week later, it was time to assemble them. I was scared out of my mind because I had NEVER worked with fondant before. However, having children had made me a professional with Play Doh so I figured I was up for the challenge. I also just happened to have an amazing friend (Nina) who is a professional patisserie chef, and she offered some help with the decorating. She was a LIFESAVER! Especially after I botched my buttercream frosting!

Between myself, Nina and Steve (who was in charge of the heavy construction), we did it! And I seriously can not tell you how excited Molly was when she saw her special cake!

I also made a lot of the decorations before hand. I sewed 36 feet of flag bunting in the colors from the Tangled movie. I also made hair clips as favors for all the girls, that went with sidewalk chalk and paints (like Rapunzel's craft supplies).

We also decorated with paper lanterns and had the kids paint the lanterns as one of the activities. Molly really wanted to release lit paper lanterns for her party, but I was pretty sure that lit candles in flying lanterns, small children, and the high summer fire danger was a bad combination.

We also did face painting, which the kids LOVED. I don't know what it is about kids and face paint, but it's always a hit. Special thanks to my friends Jen and Emily who did all the painting!

The kids also played a rousing game of "Pin the Nose on Flynn Rider". Steve made an awesome poster on the computer and printed out large for the party. It was fabulous!

The presents (as always) were a hit... but the favorite gifts were definitely her new fish tank from Nani and Papa, and the Rapunzel dress from Aunt Nancy and Uncle Fred. She put that dress on and wore it the rest of the day.

We made a special cake for her to "blow out" because I was pretty sure that we wouldn't be able to put a candle in the Rapunzel tower safely. It was WAY easier to put fondant on a mini-cake... let me tell you.

Where was Garrett and Paige during all this? They spent most of their time stuck to Mommy and Daddy until people started clearing out. And a yummy snack always tends to keep them happy!

It was a fabulous day, and the best reward was having Molly constantly tell us "Thank you for the wonderful party! I love it!". She went to bed one happy little girl. And we will be going to bed two tired, but satisfied, parents.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Happy 4th of July

What a fabulous 4th of July we had! We had such a relaxing day hanging out with our family. We started the day by getting the kids dolled up in their red, white and blue.

Paige and Molly got to wear some custom bows that we got from my friend, Roxy. She started a fabric hair bow business on Etsy. Aren't these cute?

And we didn't want Garrett to feel left out, so he got blue hair gel. He wasn't quite sure whether he liked it or not, but after strangers started complimenting him on his "cool hair" he warmed up to it.

We spent the morning getting stuff done around the house. I took some time to make some special dipped strawberries to share with people during the evening festivities.

Then after naps, we were off to cousin Debbie's house. They live on this awesome cul-de-sac that is full of families with small kids. So every year they block off their street and have a huge block party. It's potluck style and there's always tons to do for the kids. This year they rented a huge inflatable slip-n-slide and water slide... which was perfect for the 104F (40C) day! All three of the kids enjoyed the slip-n-slide, but Garrett was the only one who braved the giant water slide! Let me tell you... that thing was STEEP!

They also do a bike parade every year, where the kids decorate their bikes in red, white and blue and ride around to music. It's such a simple thing but the kids LOVE it! Even the little ones get into it.

At one point Garrett and Paige had a little competitive race. Garrett was at a huge disadvantage because he was riding a toy that was way too small for him.

The prize for participating in the parade is a rather large necklace made out of candy. What kid wouldn't love that?

Of course, one of the highlights is always hanging out with family. That's what makes the holiday for us. And the kids always enjoy their cousins!

By about 9:00 at night the kids were absolutely exhausted, so we didn't stick around for the fireworks. But Debbie let our kids enjoy some sparklers before we went.

What a fabulous day! We're so thankful to have been able to join Debbie's family for this event. The kids had a blast!