Showing posts from August, 2010

Got Bling?

The great thing about getting braces when you are nine going on ten, is that they are totally en vogue!

So when I offered to pay the extra for clear braces, Anna politely declined. "No thanks, mom.  I want color!" "If I'm going to have braces, I want my mouth to look happy!"

She chose silver braces and colored bands. Here she sports blue and green.

The verdict?   Cute as ever!

Happy Pinkalicious Birthday, Ella!

Sometimes, when someone else has a birthday, one just has to buy a present for themselves, too!  And so it was, just days before Ella's 6th birthday, that I found myself inside Williams-Sonoma, gazing at The Great Cupcake Pan.  Having long admired The Giant Cupcake, I decided that this would be the perfect cake for someone who's favorite book is Pinkalicious, a story about an adventurous girl who just can't get enough pink cupcakes!

The giant cupcake mold holds an entire standard cake recipe of batter. We veered from the pink cake and went for the even more delicious chocolate!

As with all layered cakes, there must be some leveling.

Not only does leveling makes the giant cupcake come together beautifully...

....we think it's scrapalicious!

Look at all the delicious, pink cream cheese frosting it can hold!! Oversized sprinkles are the finishing touch.

Classmates at school enjoy a good story and kid-sized Pinkalicious cupcakes.

A trio of lollipops make a fanciful favor.

Birthday Traditions

I love family traditions.  Traditions punctuate a holiday, bring shape to an ordinary day and create lasting memories.  Traditions look as shiny as a Christmas ornament and smell as succulent as a turkey baking.  Sometimes, traditions roar like a football stadium, at other times, they sound as quiet as a lullaby.  Traditions taste as sweet as pumpkin pie and feel as soft as green grass underfoot.
Over the years, our family birthday traditions have emerged.

First, the birthday child opens their door to a curtain of balloons.  A homemade birthday banner is hung in a prominent place.  The dinner of choice is prepared in their honor.  Here, Ella chooses a classic kid platter:  macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, pizza and carrots.  Because it's a birthday, we cook it all!  Last, but not least, we bake a  homemade cake and decorate it together.

What do you do?

Britten: The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

Listening to Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra completed our trifecta of children's music education pieces, which also included Saint-Saens' The Carnival of the Animals and Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.
Written in 1946 for an educational documentary film called The Instruments of the Orchestra, The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra is one of Britten's best known works.   The subtitle of the piece is "Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell" in which we hear the melody of Rondeau from Abdelazar in a way that shows off the tone colors and capacities of the various sections of the orchestra.
In the introduction, the theme is initially played by the entire orchestra, then by each major family of instruments of the orchestra:  first the woodwinds, then the strings, then the brass, and finally by the percussion.  Each variation then features a particular instrument in depth, in the same family order, generally moving th…

What's A Little Rain?

By now, we should have learned.... it always rains on Samuel's Birthday!

But when our family and a few of his friends headed to Malibu Grand Prix Speedway on a sunny Friday afternoon, we were hopefully optimistic.

Just as we were finishing pizza and cake, the inevitable happened.....RAIN.  This was no ordinary summer shower... this was a thunder-stomping, lightening-bolting, park-clearing rain.

We decided to load the kids' pockets with tokens and wait it out in the arcade. After an hour and a half (and a couple hundred tokens later), the birthday miracle happened.....  the rain stopped -  leaving us and almost no one else at the park!

With unlimited attraction passes, we packed in four hours worth of fun into a mere two hours with Go-Karts, Bumper Boats and Miniature Golf Galore. (And alas - no lines!)

Even after the rain passed, we still managed to get soaked!
Wet and tired, we ended the day at every boys' favorite venue.. our local Steak 'n Shake

Happy 13th Birthday, Samuel!

The First Day of School

Is it just me, or are the summers getting shorter?  I remember when school didn't start until you had lived through the last dog day of summer, floated on a clear blue lake in an old-fashioned inner tube and eaten your third State Fair corn dog on a stick.  Going back to school meant the days were getting shorter, the nights were turning cooler, and you hoped, that on on your first day of school, you could wear your brand new sweater.  These are my memories.
Despite the fact that it's only August 12th (and very, very hot!), the kids are still excited to start school, see theirs friends and begin a new journey.  I begin a new journey as well.  After 13 years, I have four children in full time school - a kindergartner and a teenager!  Will I be lonely?  Will I actually get the closets cleaned?  Will the days go by quickly?  What will they hold?  What will I discover?  I guess that's  part of the journey - experiencing it one day at a time.

Fishing With Papa

My husband grew up the youngest of six kids - 3 boys, 2 girls..... and then him.  Vying for his father's attention, he said to his mother one day, "I'll be glad when the big boys move out."  "Why?" his mother asked.  He responded, "Because then it will be just me and dad and nobody else going fishing."

And so it is that every summer when we travel back to Minnesota, Perry and his Dad go fishing. 

At 84 years of age, Papa's strong hands can still feel the gentle tug of an unsuspecting fish. 

 His fingers, so large that a quarter could fit through his wedding ring, are still nimble enough to thread a worm on a hook.

Only, now it's not just Perry and his dad.

Now it's Papa and Perry and kids of his own.

Samuel wears his lucky fishing hat and Anna uses Nana's Lucky pole.

As it turns out, it's not about the catch - 

It's the company that makes it all worth while.

A Night In Chicago - (Part Two)

After dropping off the American Girl shopping bags at our hotel, we discussed how to best use our remaining hours.  Our first stop?  The Art Institute of Chicago.  In the interest of time, we decided to take a cab.  After our spring trip to D.C., I knew that the six of us could squeeze into a single taxi.  I ran around the cab and claimed shotgun, leaving the four girls and my very petite sister-in-law to fend for themselves.  Suddenly, the cab driver started panicking.  In broken English I heard, "Shut the door!  Shut the door!"  Being inexperienced cab riders, the girls had left the passenger door open in a tight lane of traffic!  My SIL finally reached across four girls and closed the passenger door, leaving the cab driver relieved to know he still had a vehicle with FOUR doors in which to make a living.  Note to self:  Next time, talk to the girls about about cab etiquette BEFORE entering the vehicle.  Again, I decided a generous tip would compensate for our inexperience…