Thursday, February 25, 2010

Flaming Hot Birthday

Emilee turned 14 years old a couple of days ago. I am amazed. What is the world coming to?

Anyway, she had a 6:00 am birthday party, just like Kaitie did. This is a growing  family tradition.  We had a tropical theme.  We had the same guest list as Kaitie's party:  The Three Grandparents.  I thought it turned out cute.

Emilee requested muffins, fruit and fresh squeezed orange juice.  My mom and dad provided the oranges from their trees, and Jeff provided the manpower to make that wonderful juice.

When we let Emilee come out of her room, and see the party set up, she went right to the tree with money on it.  Imagine that.

I was proud of the idea I had to put candles in the pineapple.  It was adorable, and I thought I was just brilliant.

Well, in order for her to blow all the candles out, she had to lean over it like this.  When she got most of them out, she leaned over even more.  Well, we hadn't paid attention to the fact that they were "relight" candles, but when they relit, and started her hair on fire, they got our attention pretty quickly!  (I just knew they were long, thin candles, and that was all I wanted to know.  I didn't actually read the package.)

 It would be fun if I had a better picture of my dad here, putting out the little flame that was trying to travel up Emilee's hair.  It was exciting for a second there, but not a huge issue or anything.  I told my mom that after enough tellings, it will certainly become a family legend where her whole head was in flames and Grandpa saved her life.

I added this picture of the present opening time, because you can see that Riley put her pink grass skirt on over her pink night shirt.  That part was her idea, and I thought it was a good one.

Thank yous were in order here.  Emilee was grateful that her grandparents were willing to come at such an early hour.  She was also grateful for her gifts...oh, and for that life saving thing, of course.

The fire issue in the morning, did not make Emilee want to change her birthday dinner plan in the evening.  She wanted to roast hot dogs over the fire in the back yard.

While Jeff roasted a hot dog, Kaitie tried to warm her toes, and Emilee was actually trying to roast a chip.  She said she was trying to invent some kind of new fire roasted flavor for Doritos.

Kaitie did not want me to take a picture of her, but she let me take a picture of her nicely painted nails.  (Hey, I did them for her, and I thought they turned out pretty well. So I said, of course, let's show those off.)

We had a few things to do outside besides roasting hot dogs.  We called Brittany, to wish her a happy birthday.  She shares her birthday with Emilee.  I told her I totally get this one, as I share a birthday with Jeff's sister. We all love Brittany.  It was nice to catch up with her a little.

The girls also had a mean game of "who can toss your plate like a frisbee and have it land in the fire."  That is not an easy thing to do, since the smoke makes a current that blows away from the fire.  Kaitie and Emilee were done dealing with the camera by now, but they did all play, and it was fun.  Riley picked out New Moon plates to have for Emilee's birthday dinner. 

It was almost distressing, when we finally got a plate in there.  This is actually one of the only ways to really do a vampire in, you know....;)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Making a Short Story Long...

Riley doesn't have the most consistent routine in the world.  She never has.  Coming in at the end of our family, her schedule has often been one of chasing around after the older kids.  She didn't have certain nap times or meal times.  It wasn't at all practical to try to do that. 

These days though, it is the general goal that she get to bed by 8:30 after having a shower.  She is not thrilled with that bedtime.  Kaitie and Emilee are generally up much later than that.  When Riley turned seven she said, "Mom, I AM seven now, and I think I should get to stay up later than 8:30."  I informed her that she is stuck with 8:30 for a really long time.  I told her that some seven year olds only wish they could be up until 8:30.  (And some adults wish to turn in at 8:30, and don't get to...another story.)

Jeff puts Riley to bed whenever he is home by 8:30.  Riley prefers this.  He tells great stories.  When I put her to bed, we usually sing and then READ a story.  I can't make up stories at all.  Before last night, I put her to bed for several nights in a row.  Riley was so thrilled that I was gone last  night, and her regular storyteller was all hers.  It's not just the storytelling she prefers.  He often gets straight to the stories, skipping past the shower, homework signing, room straightening, etc.  This doesn't matter when we are both home.  I see to those things, and he sees to the story.

Last night, when I came home, I was happy that Riley was asleep.  I wasn't so happy that she hadn't had a shower.  I knew there was a lingering eau de soccer practice thing going on.  This morning I asked her why she didn't shower, and she said, "Daddy didn't tell me to."  I told her that it was her job to remember even if he didn't.  It is not even about remembering.  How do you not remember something that you do every day?  

So at first, this morning was annoyingly different.  Throwing Riley's shower into the mix was throwing me all off.  While I was blow drying her hair though, my heart softened.  She is really growing up.  She won't need me to do all these things for much longer.  I got out my straightener, and told her that I really wanted to straighten her hair this morning.  

We ooo'd and ahhh'd over how long her hair seemed.  I told Riley her hair could be in a commercial.  She immediately started performing a commercial for herself in the mirror.  

Then I knew we had to take pictures, and make this small moment into a memory that will last:




When we looked at this picture, I asked, "Who is this third grade looking thing?"

I called her Third Grade Lookin' Thang for the rest of the morning.  Her second grade self liked that.  I wasn't annoyed any more.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

VAllyNtine Weekend...

Ally came home for the three day weekend, and it was so nice to have some time to catch up.  She came on an extra busy weekend.  We just absorbed her into the running around.  

Saturday, Emilee had so much extra dance.  It was our turn to transport Kaitie to her volunteer work.  Riley had a soccer game.  It doesn't sound like so much, but trying to have time all together was just out of the question.  Jeff, Ally, Riley and I did find a minute to go to the park.  When the bike thing didn't work out--Riley's bike needs to go to the doctor--we just played.  Jeff and Ally had a serious Frisbee thing going on.  Riley and I had a game of throw and fetch with the Monster Disc:

Riley and I each probably caught that thing once.  We did have fun pulling it out of trees, cactus, and the other interesting places we accidentally threw it.  

Jeff and I were supposed to go to a party that evening, but I just couldn't go.  I wanted to have some time with Ally.  I felt that we had run around all day, and I didn't want to leave again.  The girls and I all stayed home, and had some lovely girl bonding moments.  We played a hilarious game of Truth or Dare.  We played it at the level of PG 7, which we made up for the occasion.  I would love to share some details, but I have made a solemn vow that "what happens in Truth or Dare, stays in Truth or Dare." 

Sunday morning, I set these four boxes of candy at the table.  Extra points if you can guess who received each one! 

Kaitie, Emilee and Riley were each enjoying a chocolate feast for breakfast, and wanted Ally to come join in.  (You have to eat chocolate for breakfast four times a year:  Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, and the day after Halloween.)  I offered to go get Ally.  The girls told me I wasn't allowed to go get her because they had something for me, and it was in plain sight in the room.  I told them I would only go down the hallway, but not into the room.  While I was in the hallway, Ally came out of the room holding something behind her back.  Kaitie called from the kitchen, "Don't show her the bear!!"  I laughed until my stomach hurt so much.  She hasn't had a slip like that since she was maybe three years old. 

This is my bear.  My girls just like to give me these silly things.  He is really cute in person.  

This is the one they got me last year:

Yesterday, before Ally left, we went and played an old favorite game of "I'll Push the Cart While You Fill It."  We haven't played that for a long time.  She is quite grown up, with a real job and everything :)

I guess I liked getting her a few things, so I could still be helpful somehow. 

The countdown is on until the next time we get to see her!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Realize They Aren't Daisies....

When these flowers were delivered for Valentine's Day, I wondered if I should put them into a vase, or tear them apart petal by petal to find out if "he loves me, or loves me not." I realize they aren't daisies, but I think any flower can be used at a time like this to answer such a pressing question.

Then I had this overwhelming sense that whatever flower I dismantled, or whatever question I asked, the result would come out the same....he loves me. There is actually no pressing question.

So I put the flowers into the vase :)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

This is the LAST one...

When Kaitie was a little girl, the slide was her favorite feature of any park. When it was time to leave, she would run to the stairs, scramble up to the top, and practically fly down while exclaiming, "This is the last one!" Then she would run to the stairs again, repeat the process, "No, THIS is the last one.." She would do this as many times as she could get away with.

It would be fun if the Disney trip thing turned out that way. If  in a few weeks, you see a title that says "No, THIS is the last one..." you will know I somehow pulled a Kaitie. I don't foresee that.

Anyway, on the Saturday morning that was two weeks ago, we rode the Monorail into the park quite early in the morning. Our first stop was the Finding Nemo submarine ride. If you know me well, you don't believe it. I said I would never go on this ride. I am not thrilled with confined spaces, especially under the water.

I gave myself a lecture though, "This is Disneyland. People get on that ride every day and get back off just fine. Those submarines don't even submerge. The ride will be over before you know it."

The line is usually very long, but early in the morning it was less than ten minutes. I didn't have time to make excuses. As I was boarding I asked how long the ride was. When I got the answer 15-20 minutes, I think I stopped breathing. That was going to be really long for me. But I was already descending the steps...and praying...

I was packed like a sardine between Jeff and his mom. They didn't know of my stress. I didn't talk about it until later. I was singing something like, "Just keep breathing, just keep breathing....oh but not too fast..." in my mind.

You know, it was a cute little ride. It was no big deal. Riley liked it. I lived. I don't have a need to go again though, because now I have seen it.

After the ride, we headed over to have breakfast with Minnie Mouse and her friends. 

Some of the characters were sweet, and....

...some not so much.  Kaitie was very aware of that hook! 

One of my favorites was the Fairy Godmother.  She walked to our table, where Jeff was eating with me, his mom and his daughters.  She said, "Young man, I think you are outnumbered."  Oh, how right she is.

She was fun to talk to.  I asked her if she could please change my outfit, and she said my outfit was perfect for the day.  My favorite part though, was listening to her lecture Captain Hook.  There was a shy little girl at a table nearby, who was afraid he would come and visit her.  Apparently Kaitie wasn't the only one aware of that hook.  The Fairy Godmother told him that he was not under any circumstances to even look toward that table. How different the Peter Pan story line would be, if the Fairy Godmother were part it!

We finally saw Chip and Dale together, and I now understood how Riley knew which was which.

One of my favorite Disney memories from childhood is driving the cars at Autopia.  It is a dream come true to get behind that wheel.  Riley took Jeff on a spin over there.  I wondered if she felt that "dream come true" thing....

Riley's dreams definitely came true in the Princess Pavilion.  Here she stood in line waiting and wondering who will be back there.

Bonus!  It was Mulan!  We hadn't seen her before.  She is Ally's favorite, so Riley was very excited about that.

I personally still prefer the big rides to all the other attractions.  Riley and I went to Space Mountain after the Princess Pavilion.  I thought Riley liked it too.  She seemed to like it.  She said she liked it.  The picture told it a little differently.  I think maybe she endured it for my sake.  What do you think?

Well, maybe she owed me that enduring thing, since we had just spent a long time at the Princess Pavilion.

One thing on my list for this last trip was the Tarzan Treehouse.  I passed it so many times during this year, but never ventured up those stairs.  Riley and I went to see what it was about. 

Being Riley and all, she was a little nervous about the height.  We had fun though:)

Now, I actually liked this little meet and greet.  The line was not long to meet Princess Tiana, and Prince Naveen.  They were fun to talk to, and very cute together.

We ate lunch in their neighborhood.  Here is Riley in her pirate hat/menu:

Kaitie and Emilee were no longer letting me take pictures, so this was all I could get:

As the afternoon went on, Grandma was getting tired again.  She was planning to sit and rest for awhile.  We convinced her however, to go to the Haunted Mansion with us.  We assured her that the line was short, and the ride was nice and slow.

Well, it was true that the line was short.  Okay, and the ride WAS slow.  We were never in that Mansion so long though.  There were technical difficulties.  All year I have gone to Disneyland and not experienced technical difficulties, but here we were having them for the second day in a row.  Kaitie, Riley and I were in one car.  Jeff, Emilee and Grandma were quite a few cars behind us. 

This is the spot where we were stuck in our car for quite awhile.  I felt bad for the skinny dog, and I don't even like dogs very much.  Emilee and I texted each other.  They were stuck by the creepy bride.  Eventually we had to actually get out of our car, and walk through the rest of the ride to the exit.  This was a little adventure in itself.  The spooks that jump up behind the headstones don't generally startle me.  When I was walking through however, I didn't think they would still be jumping up, and I was quite startled by one...much to Kaitie's delight.

Later on,  I wanted to visit was Innoventions.  I hadn't gone in there before.  It is amazing in there!  I didn't have much use for the lightbulb lecture, but the Dreamhouse is great!  Jeff, Riley and I played with the Microsoft Surface tables.  Riley changed the music in the kitchen to Miley Cyrus.  I wished I had more time for exploration.  I could have spent hours in there.

On the way out of the park that evening, we stopped in to see Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.  This was one of my least favorite childhood Disney memories.  Back then, I felt like Mr. Lincoln was something that my parents liked, that I just had to endure.  (Like Riley on Space Mountain? Sort of, and sort of not.)

As an adult, I liked the show.  It was well done.  Riley even liked it.  I told her to pay attention because I was sure she would be studying Abraham Lincoln in school for President's Day. 

And that, is really.....THE END.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Two Weeks Ago....

Our Disney annual passes expired the beginning of this month. We made the decision not to renew right now. We have been back and forth to Disneyland a lot of times this year. We have loved it. I'm sure we will miss the trips, but I think it is time to think outside the Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Well, of course we had to have one last trip. So we went on that last trip two weeks ago...

We convinced Grandma S. to go with us by staying as close to Disneyland as is humanly possible. We told her she would be able to go back to the hotel and rest any time she wanted to.

We had two adjoining rooms for the six of us. I took this picture of the girls on their balcony from my balcony on the Thursday evening of our arrival. These balconies overlooked the Downtown Disney area. The girls were wishing for some kind of zip line to Wetzel's Pretzels.

Friday morning before we headed into the park, we ate at the Storyteller's Cafe. Kaitie's birthday was just a few days off, and she was pleasantly surprised at the little celebration we had there that morning.

Kaitie was silly about characters this trip, which was fun. Her usual self is not very interested in that part of the Disney experience. This is Terk from Tarzan. I had to look it up. I could not remember that name!

Chip and Dale were also in that restaurant. Do you know which one this is? I didn't, but Riley did. She informed us that this was Dale. He was crazy when he visited us at our table. After he played with Grandma for a bit, he went and played with Kaitie's hair...then Emilee's....then Riley's. I think he left Grandma's hair alone, because it was well set, and looked nice. (That is an important fact for later....)

We spent most of the day in California adventure. It was awesome to be able to go straight in from the hotel. Here is Riley and Grandma getting ready to go into the movie, "It's Tough to be a Bug."

In the afternoon, Grandma said she would like to return to the hotel for awhile, but that she would like to ride the rapids ride with us. The rapids ride is really close to the hotel, so that seemed like a good idea. We would ride together, and then she could go for a rest.

I was sitting across from her in that ride, and I will tell you that as many times as I have ridden it, I have NEVER seen anyone get as drenched as she did. All of the forces of that ride combined and focused directly on her. It was absolutely hilarious. One of the lenses came right out of her glasses, and it continued to be hilarious because she caught it right in her hand and she was able to get them put back together.

Here she is, after the ride. So much for the time she invested doing her hair! You can't tell from the picture, but her sweater was absolutely dripping. But can you see how she was cracking up? She is a really good sport:)

Kaitie wanted everyone to see that she was the brilliant one, who wore a poncho for this ride.

When Grandma went back to the hotel to rest, we all headed over to Disneyland itself. We ended up dividing into groups. Jeff took the older girls to Indiana Jones, and I took Riley to Small World.

It was a short line to Small World, but the longest ride there we ever had. Quite a few times during the ride the announcement was made that they were having technical difficulties, and that the ride would be starting again soon. I decided that it was better to be stuck in there, than some other rides I could think of.

I took this picture, to remember the place we were stuck the longest. Riley and I would have counted it a relaxing, fun ride except for the people in front of us were not very fun or relaxed. "What's a trip to Disneyland, if you're not yelling at me," he complained. I will leave you with just that sample. You get the idea.

As it turned out, Riley and I kept doing our own thing. Jeff and the girls went back and got his mom after awhile. About 8:30 Riley's enthusiasm started running out. I had been hoping to watch the fireworks, but I knew that it might not be worth it to keep Riley there that long. I took her back to the hotel, and everyone else stayed out awhile longer.

The group came back sooner than I expected, and we watched the fireworks after all, from our hotel balcony. There was even a channel on tv carrying the music and narration. Sure, it wasn't quite as good as being right there, but it wasn't bad.

Especially, since no one was complaining about being tired.....