Monday, November 30, 2009

Just say YES!

I've been working hard lately to improve my skills at saying, "yes".

I love to do things for other people. I love that great feeling you get when you drop off a meal for someone or do something unexpectedly nice for someone in need.

But I'm not very good at accepting help. I always have an excuse.

"Oh, we'll be fine."
"You don't need to do that."
"Seriously, we can do it on our own!"

In the last few months, a lot of people have offered to help us in various ways. Since my husband hurt his back, and I have been in the last stage of pregnancy, we have needed help with a few things. And I realized that my gut instinct of refusing help was actually hurting others.

First, it robs someone else of the blessing of doing something nice for someone.

Second, it allows my pride to take over the situation. When I constantly try to convince people we don't need help, I am only fooling myself.

So, I've been trying to make it a habit to automatically say "yes" to whatever people offer. Of course, there have been times when the situation wouldn't allow me to say "yes". But I'm getting better at saying "yes" immediately, without even thinking about all the reasons I could say, "no, thanks".

"Can I take your kids for the weekend so you can get some things done around the house?" YES!
"Can I take a few days off work and help you when you have your baby?" YES!
"Can I mow your lawn?" YES!
"Can I watch your kids for you for a few hours while your husband is out of town?" YES!
"Can I go to the grocery store for you?" YES!
"Can I throw a baby shower for you?" YES!
And most recently, several people have said they would be available to watch my sick children if I go into labor earlier than expected. Even at 3 a.m. "OK... YES!"

I have successfully said "yes" on many occasions lately when it was difficult for me to resist the urge to make excuses for why I didn't need help. I mean, there's always Peapod that can bring my groceries. And I'm sure I can pay some kid in the neighborhood to mow my lawn. I can get a sitter for my kids, really I can.

But how nice just to enjoy the kind gesture of a friend.

I'm also trying to improve my "yes-saying" skills in a few other ways. I am trying to stop feeling guilty the whole time someone is helping me and to stop going on and on about how unnecessary it was to do what they did. A polite "thank you" works much better.

How about you? Are you better at doing for other people or being on the receiving end? Have you ever been in a situation where you had to put down your guard and just say, "YES!"?

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

What to do with ALL that turkey?

I hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving! Ours was perfect.

My parents, three siblings, one brother-in-law and eight of my nieces and nephews joined us at our house on Thanksgiving Day since I wasn't able to travel. The best part? THEY brought all of the food.

All we had to do was cook the turkey and make a salad. My husband used his amazing Orion Convection Cooker to cook the turkey to moist perfection. AND he cooked it outside, so we still had plenty of room in the oven for all of the side dishes.

My unbelievable sister then took all three of our children to her house for the weekend, giving my husband and I time to relax, go out to dinner and knock off a ton of things on our To Do List. Dare I say it? I think we're ready to have a baby!

Unfortunately, one of the kids spiked a fever today and as much as my sister was willing to keep the sick children away from me, I couldn't bare the sound of his sad, sick voice so far from mommy for the night. So, my husband is en route to pick them up at their aunt's house two hours south of here.

The empty house and four hours of solitude gave me some serious motivation to complete one more thing I really wanted to do before the weekend was over: Figure out what to do with ALL of that left-over turkey.

I ended up making five meals, all but one of which went in the freezer to be used after baby's arrival. Here's what I came up with:

Jody's Turkey and Noodles
I got this recipe from Once A Month Mom. I opted for the freezer version of the recipe.

Slow Cooker North Woods Wild Rice Soup
I combined the turkey and veggies in a freezer bag and plan to heat this one in the crock pot. I added a label with the full recipe so I will remember to add the evaporated milk and flour at the end.

Turkey Club Braid
This is one of my favorite recipes from The Pampered Chef cookbook, All the Best. I usually make it with chicken, but I think turkey will work, too. I put the filling in a freezer bag and plan to bake it in the crescent rolls later. This is my official stand-by recipe when I invite a friend for lunch. Amazingly enough, my kids LOVE this recipe!

Club Sandwich Salad
This is going to be lunch tomorrow. I cut up the turkey and the rest of the bacon from the Turkey Club Braid and put it in a ziplock. I will add the other ingredients when we get home from church. I think I will add an avocado to the recipe, too, to make it more like a Cobb Salad. If I change my mind, I will mix it with cream cheese and make sandwich wraps.

Curried Turkey Salad
I am going to freeze this in individual serving-sized storage bags since I am the only one in the family who likes this kind of recipe. This will be my lunch when the kids are eating frozen pizza or corn dogs. Yum!

So how about you? What are you going to do with all of that left-over turkey?

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Heian Nidan

One of the things I have tried to teach our kids over the years is the importance of setting goals.

We have daily goals for our school work, which they dutifully examine and cross off throughout the day. We have our chore charts, which get completed at times more religiously than others.

But it's been really exciting this past year to see the boys set some goals for themselves.

They have been taking karate for about a year and a half now. I had no idea how they would like karate when we signed up. I thought it might go in the pile with gymnastics, soccer and T-ball of sports they endured, but didn't inspire their determination.

They take karate through our local park district. However, the program is offered by the Illinois Shotokan Karate Club, which provides professional black belt senseis to teach each class. The classes are strenuous. They work hard, and the senseis teach the kids to act with discipline and respect.

Every six months, they are given the opportunity to test their skills and earn a new belt rank.

Both boys have said they want to earn their black belt. But I haven't been convinced they were willing to put in the time and effort to achieve their goal. I didn't doubt that they could, but I wasn't sure of their true determination.

I will admit I was dragging my feet about even signing them up for their belt testing this past weekend. They both tested last spring and earned three stripes on their white belts, which was an "excellent" score. I wasn't sure they had improved enough since then to earn more stripes or to move up to the next belt color of orange.

The testing is tough. Thousands of children test for their belts over the course of a month. They are broken down into groups and test in certain time slots according to their age and rank.

The testing takes several hours. However, the actual time spent in front of their judges is only abut 10 minutes. And it costs $45 per child. One bad move, and they don't get a "do-over".

But the boys were far more confident than their nervous mom. They were sure they would be able to earn their orange belts.

We got their results last night.

Our 7-year-old scored "perfect" for his group, earning him an orange belt with one stripe. His sensei said that only one in 1,000 children earns a perfect score.

Our 9-year-old earned an "excellent" score, moving up to an orange belt with two stripes. Although the standard is higher as the kids get older, the younger children have to earn more stripes before they can move up. So, in effect, our younger son tested a little better, but earned fewer stripes on his orange belt.

OK. I'm starting to get excited about karate now. I love how it teaches them discipline, places the full burden of success or failure on the individual child and gives them attainable goals. Plus, they love it!

Now that I'm starting to see what is reasonable, I'm more eager to help them set realistic timelines for what they would like to achieve.

Their next step is to perfect the orange belt kata: Heian Neidan!

What about you? Are you or your children involved in an activity that requires you to set goals? Have you helped your children achieve a goal and watched them reap the reward? Jump on over and leave me a comment!

Oh, and by the way, Happy Thanksgiving! I can't believe it will be here in a day and I have been too preoccupied to write about it yet.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Many times, the year seems to fly by as one big blur. Significant events are strung together by days and days of ordinary. As hard as I try, I often don't take notice of the little things. I look back and realize another year has gone, and I'm not sure where it went.

But this year, I feel as if I have been able to slow down and enjoy so many more moments.

Maybe it's because I put a lot of things on hold. I scaled back in so many areas of my life. I cut out some of the "good" things that were crowding out the best things.

Maybe it's because I've been tired. I've had to move in slow motion. Stop rushing. Stop running. I've spent so much more time sitting and relaxing and pondering.

Maybe it's because I feel like I'm in the "bonus round". I know for certain this is the last time I will grow a human life. I know it wasn't my plan but God's plan to bring me to this place. I know I couldn't have made it through with the joy, the good health and so much peace without trusting in him.

And now that I'm looking at my last nine days of pregnancy, it feels bittersweet. Oh, I can't wait for it to be over. I can't wait to be able to walk again without pain. I can't wait to flip over at night without slowly rolling the basketball on my tummy. I can't wait to see that baby's sweet face.

But I'm also trying to cherish each moment. Enjoy the kicks and flips inside my body.

I've been getting a big smile thinking about all of the moments during the last nine months. I wish I could catch them in a bottle and hold onto them forever.

There was this day when I was so care free.

I had absolutely no clue even at that moment what was already happening. I keep remembering how I had just bought those new jeans. They were some of the more expensive jeans I had purchased in a long time. But I wouldn't have more than a few months to wear them.

I keep thinking about my 40th birthday. I went to a spa with some friends and got a pedicure. I kept trying to come up with the words to tell them what I had found out a few weeks earlier. But it would remain a secret I would keep locked up tight a bit longer.

The one person I did tell was my midwife when I went to that comical doctor's appointment ON my birthday.

Finally, I told the ladies at my Bible study. The news rushed out with a flood of emotion. I soaked half the people in the room with my sobbing.

A few weeks later, some friends had a surprise birthday party for me. "This isn't a surprise pregnancy party!" my sweet hostess announced to the room. "It's for your birthday."

Half of the people in the room just got the news. Oh well. That made it a little easier on me.

Then there was Mother's Day. That special day took on new meaning for me.

Not long after that, we told our kids that we were going to have a baby. Their reactions were so precious.

"Do you mean you are pregnant?" my oldest son, asked. "This is like a dream!"

We went to a picnic with our small group that evening and they spread the news to everyone within yelling distance. "OUR MOM IS PREGNANT!"

OK. So much for being discrete. In fact, they started telling everyone we encountered every where we went all summer long.

"My mommy has a baby in her tummy," they would tell the teenagers taking our pool passes. Or their swimming instructor. Or random strangers. I would try to hide behind my sunglasses. Smile and nod. Smile and nod.

At 16 weeks, I thought I had developed a baby bump. I know you were laughing at this picture back then and now I can see why.

THAT is what we call a baby bump.

We started home school. And so far, we have all survived despite the teacher's aches and pains and sudden need for a nap right in the middle of grammar.

"OK, it's recess, everyone!"

We've had so many special moments this year as a family. The countdown to baby has dominated all of our thoughts almost on a daily basis.

I still wake up every morning and my first thought is, "Is she still in there?" I lie quietly and wait for her to move.

It's a precious time. And we are ready for many more special days ahead.

Nine more days.

**Today I'm linking up to Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky. Check out all of the stories of celebration of the small and sacred gifts of daily life. **

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Sunday, November 22, 2009


I'm so thankful for my sweet friends...

They blessed me with unbelievable food...

their hospitality...


And A Musing Mom made these adorable party favors. Scented bath salts. My favorite.

But mostly, I'm just so thankful for their encouragement, friendship and support. I feel very blessed.

(Ten more days!)

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Friday, November 20, 2009

You don't know Jacques

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you already know I have a thing about the names of nail polish color.

I love OPI. I love all the creative names they make up for their colors.

My real interest in the names of polish started a few years ago when I chose a color called, "My Private Jet" for a pedicure and then ended up earning an unbelievable get-away on a private jet that same month.

So, when I went for a pedicure in January, I promised myself that I would let the nail specialists at the same day spa choose my color. They were the ones who convinced me of "My Private Jet" the year before.

I loved the color they chose for me. But I was perplexed by the name: "You Don't Know Jacques"?

How could that possibly bode well for the year to come? Why not "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" or "You Look Fantastic in a New Minivan".

I was putting on the nail color this week and suddenly it all made sense.

They were right back in January. They predicted what I didn't even know yet.

Pregnancy brain.

You don't know Jacques.

I really don't.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baby face

This morning, my 5-year-old daughter and I were taking some time to play a little game with the baby.

Baby would stretch out her leg, and we could see her little foot jutting beneath the skin on my right side. My daughter would rub her foot, and we would watch as she would stick her bottom up, making a little mountain in the center of my tummy.

We played with her for about 20 minutes, watching her roll from side to side under my skin, stretch out that leg and then draw it back in.

Even as I watch and feel these unbelievable moments with the baby, it's hard to imagine that we will be holding her in our arms in two weeks. How is it that a fully-formed baby somehow manages to fold herself up so tightly that she fits inside my body?

But I got an unexpected gift today.

I got to see her face.

I know this probably looks like a grainy, black and white ultrasound photo to most people. But to me it's an awe-inspiring thing of beauty.

I can't stop looking at those big eyes staring at me from inside my body. And her nose looks like it will be the same shape as the nose of my other children.

It's so reassuring to see that all of her organs seem to be working properly, her arms and legs are just as they should be, and most of all, to see her face.

I wasn't expecting an ultrasound today. And yet, I wasn't surprised either.

I continue to get lots of comments about how small I am. When my midwife measured me today, I was, in fact, smaller than I should be. The doctor sent me immediately to the hospital to the "old folks" maternal fetal medical center for all the AMAers like me.

I had done a non-stress test earlier, and the baby's heart rate looked perfect. But the doctor and midwife both thought it would be best to do an ultrasound. I couldn't wait. I was needing some reassurance.

It was a little unsettling to hear the nurses talking in the back about the AMA in the waiting room with the IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction).

I was having flashbacks of my pregnancy with my daughter when the exact same thing happened at nearly the exact point in my pregnancy. That time, the doctor decided to do a C-section that evening. I started to convince myself the outcome this time would be the same, and I wasn't looking forward to having a C-section today while my husband is overseas.

But everything looked completely normal. The organs, limbs, brain, blood flow, amniotic fluid levels... everything was good. The baby is about 6 pounds, 1 ounce, just one ounce shy of my daughter's birth weight.

And I got to see just how tightly she is wrapped up in there. Hands in front of face. Legs curled up tight. Then for one brief moment, she lowered her hand and looked at us.

So, continuing with my theme of thankfulness... I am so thankful that I got to see my baby's sweet face today. It was a day of small miracles.

** I'm linking up today to the Tuesdays Unwrapped carnival over at Chatting at the Sky. Check out all the stories of small miracles. **

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Monday, November 16, 2009


Here she comes. Schlepping into church. Twenty minutes late. Again?

Her big pregnant belly. No husband. Those three kids running through the parking lot.

Why does she even bother? The service will be halfway over before she finds a seat.

Those boys wear the same shirts every week. And what about her daughter? Sweatpants and a shirt two sizes too small?

Maybe she needs to go to bed earlier. I would hate to see the rest of her house.

What is up with her?

I might have had thoughts like those 10 years ago. I couldn't have possibly understood what I know now.

Now that I know what's it's like to be her.

Now I understand what the morning was like. How even 12 hours of sleep didn't feel like it could possibly be enough. How it hurt to stand up.

Now I know how easy it would have been to stay home and relax. Even walking felt like such a chore. And with one child buried on the floor in a sea of blankets refusing to get dressed, it would have been so much easier to stay home and focus her energy on the house that seemed to have puked mountains of toys, clothes and dirty dishes.

Now I understand her determination.

Now I get it. She just smiles at the outfits the kids have chosen, not sure why they bypass all the clothes in the closet for the same shirts every week. Not sure why her daughter chose velour sweat pants. But just happy and relieved that they were dressed.

And now I understand that swallowing her pride and walking in halfway through took far more courage than turning around. The unspoken admission that she doesn't have it all together. She isn't on top of her life. She's empty and broken and presses on just so she can be filled up.

Today I'm thankful for my church. Where people offer grace and love, rather than judgment and criticism to people like her. To people like me.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

You before me

I'm not sure what I did to deserve this.

Twelve years ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

But somehow, some way, I have been tremendously blessed.

I really can't say enough good things about my husband today on our anniversary.

He's handsome. He's kind. He's so darned easy to get along with.

He's a great dad. He doesn't lose his temper, like some people in this house. He's thoughtful.

He's brave. He loves to soar through the air, whether by hang glider, airplane or mountain bike.

But most of all, he lives by a motto. It's not something he says out loud. He just does it.

You before me.

In everything he does, he thinks about me first. How will it affect me? What would I think? How would I react? Are my needs being met?

I wish I could say the same about myself.

He makes marriage easy. I definitely don't deserve it.

Even when we are separated by thousands of miles, I'm so blessed.

Happy Anniversary!

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bottle caps, weddings and cartoons

I've been checking off my list of big events that need to happen before Baby can be born in 19 days.

Last night was one of the bigger ones. The ladies at my home-school co-op put together a shopping night to raise money to pay our facility fee.

I made a decision earlier this year that I needed to reduce my stress level during this last trimester, and that meant not doing parties and events with my Discovery Toys business. But I made this exception to support my co-op. It was a lot of fun, but my body is telling me this morning that I made the right choice about taking it easy this fall.

I've been stressing the past few weeks that I might a.) go into labor before the event, or b.) get the flu. What a relief that everything went well, and I was healthy! Plus, it was a lot of fun!

CapableDad headed to the airport early this morning for his last China trip before Due Date. And I'm struggling a bit to be thankful, especially since our anniversary is tomorrow.

But in the spirit of Big Bird, here are a few things for which I am thankful because they make me smile:

* Tyson and Katie are getting married today! This is such an amazing story of how only God can make beauty from ashes. We are so happy for them AND TJ who gets a new mommy today.

* One of the vendors at our shopping night last night makes necklace charms from bottle caps and dominoes. I was hooked.

I spent some time during my insomnia last night checking out craft sites with how-to instructions. A trip to Michael's might be on the agenda today.

* I was cracking up last night reading this post about poor Ken who got a slug in his pants.

* And I can't stop thinking about onions. Hmmm. I can't stand the smell of onions. Would it be worth it to sleep with one?

Oh, and I leave you with a math problem. Three children + one dad heading to airport + one very tired mom + one unborn baby who needs to remain unborn for at least one more week = six hours of cartoons really wouldn't be THAT bad, would it?

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Friday, November 13, 2009

My inner bird

I found out recently that just a few months after I was born, another very special and influential set of characters also came into the world.

This week, Sesame Street celebrated its 40th birthday.

Just think, if I had been born a few years earlier, I might have missed the chance to spend my "nursery school" years with Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, The Count, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

Who would have taught me to count? Where would I have learned my letters and numbers? I mean Discovery Toys wasn't even born until 10 years later!

Sesame Street was really the best thing on TV when I was a kid. What was the other choice back then? Mr. Rogers?

I kept hearing this week about an online quiz people were taking to find out the identity of the Sesame Street character they are most like. I always have a hard time with those types of quizzes. It's so hard to answer honestly vs. answering what you think you should answer and subconsciously trying not to answer a certain way because you KNOW it will mean you are Bert.

In the end, I was amazed at how accurate my description turned out to be:

You are Big Bird. You have a wonderful imagination and you are very creative. You sometimes can get too excited over new things, which often leads to you being disappointed when things don’t turn out like you planned. But you never stay down for long and always try again.

So, go take the quiz and then come back and tell me who you are. But most importantly, you have to give me your description, too! I really want to know. Please??

Oh... and that's what I'm thankful for today. Sesame Street. A time when kids could eat cookies like a monster without worrying about the ingredient list or whether they would get crumbs on the floor. A day when Bert and Ernie could share a bedroom, and no one read anything into it. A time when it was OK to be a grouch or a big, tall, geeky yellow bird.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

I *heart* this cake pan

I love my Wilton Heart Tasty Fill cake pan.

It makes it so easy to make an ordinary box mix cake something special.

In the nine months since I purchased it, I have filled cake with ice cream.

Cool whip and strawberries.

More ice cream.

(Oops! I made the heart upside down that time!)


I love cutting it open to reveal the heart in the middle. Now if only the Wilton spies would come by and give me another cake pan to test. I would love the one with the square in the middle.

To use the pan, just make an ordinary cake mix.

Spray the two pans with cooking spray. I also sprinkled it with flour recently, which was a disaster. The cake stuck to the pan and broke into a million pieces.

Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes and then dump it out onto wax paper.

Fill each cavity with whatever you would like. Freeze until both sides are hardened.

Put them together. Frost the outside. Put back in the freezer until ready to serve. Let the cake defrost about 10 minutes before cutting.

Today I’m thankful for my cake pan that makes me look more creative than I really am.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lifelong friends

When I was pregnant the first time, a woman at my church introduced me to several other women who also were expecting their first child.

We all gave birth only a few weeks apart, and those were the women who became my support system. We had play dates. We went to the park and the zoo. We walked around the mall together. We met for lunch. We compared notes on diapers, breast feeding, baby food, first words and first steps.

Two of these ladies had little girls, and those girls became the first friends of my baby boy.

Over the years, we all had more children. Several of them also were born just weeks apart. The siblings became the first friends of the siblings.

Our lives went in different directions at times. At other times, we have veered back on to a common path.

Despite the gender difference, my son counts those girls as his lifelong friends. Of course, the girls have grown close in ways a little boy can never be part of. And he has made lots of boy friends with whom he spends more time.

But they are still the ones he wants around when something special happens, like his birthday this week.

From the photos, it might look like those little babies grew this much over NINE YEARS. Oh, no. Believe me. It happened in a BLINK!

My son loves that these are his "baby friends". He has known them his whole life.

Don’t you love those kind of friends?

The ones who have known you forever.

You can pick up right where you left off even if it’s been months or years.

They get you. You can tells stories about each other that no one else would understand.

You can feel completely at ease. You can be yourself. You don’t have to prove anything.

Today, I’m thankful for lifelong friends. For mine. And for those of my kids.

What are you thankful for today?

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Can I just say that the first 10 days of November have been difficult?

I've been in a lot of pain. I'm tired. The smallest amount of activity, like walking through the grocery store, has become a real chore.

My husband is traveling this month. He's working long hours. His back still hurts.

My kids haven't been the perfect angels I would like them to be. We've been struggling with some attitude issues.

I've even been mad at my blog. It hasn't been funny or interesting, and it's been annoying me.

So, there. I said it.

On top of it all, this is the month to be thankful! I have about 500 things that have to happen this month and the pressure of being thankful on top of it all has really been getting to me.

When I saw Kristen write this post on the first day of the month, all I could think was, "That looks really nice. But count me out."

When I saw Jenny write this post on the first day of the month, I thought, "I would love to do that. But how about another month, another year?"

Then I woke up this morning to a house full of grumbly kids and realized, "I think we could all USE a heavy dose of thankfulness! And wouldn't that be a great way to write a blog post everyday?"

I even decided to work it in to our school assignments. We already are doing a Bible study, called Choosing Thankfulness, this month. And my 9-year-old's writing assignment today is to write thank you notes for his birthday gifts.

How about if we all write about the things we are thankful for each day? I've noticed some people are doing this on Facebook as their status updates this month. I decided to do it on my blog, as well as in our school work.

My Bull's Eye goal is to do this everyday. But I'm a big believer in having an outer ring goal, as well. So, that would be to show some thankfulness at least as often as I would normally post this month.

Sometimes when people tell me to do something, it makes me NOT want to do it that much more. But I'm hoping it will catch on. Will you consider leaving me a comment or writing a blog post explaining something for which you are thankful today, this month or everyday?

I'm going to slowly go back and fill in some of the the things for which I have been thankful the past 10 days.

For today, I am thankful for my blog and the chance it gives me to write down my thoughts.

How about you? What are you thankful for today?

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Monday, November 9, 2009

It was golden

You already know how much I love a party with a theme and a color scheme.

So, when we realized that this year was my oldest son's Golden Birthday, I immediately kicked into party-planning mode to try to come up with the ultimate celebration. But alas... all of my Google searches for "golden" and "party" resulted in 50th anniversary party ideas.

We wanted something off the beaten path. My son hates loud, noisy places. Chuck E. Cheese, Enchanted Castle and even laser tag were out for him. Instead, here's what we came up with.

My boy loves the outdoors. But could we really plan an outdoor party the 7th of November? (His birthday was actually the 9th.)

Believe it or not, it was unseasonably warm the day he was born. And it has been remarkably warm the day of his party almost every year. But still, with this year's funky weather, it made me very nervous.

I tried to convince him we should move the party to October. Chances were much better of a nice day a month earlier. "No Mom, I have faith it's going to be a nice day," he said. (Turns out, it rained almost every weekend in October!)

We decided to check out a brand new nature center that opened a few months ago in the city where we live. Not only did the nature center have a nice meeting room, but it had an extensive array of trails behind it.

As soon as we started hiking, my son's creative mind took him to his favorite destination: Narnia. He told me his party would have to be in the "Golden Age" of Narnia.

"Great," I thought. "HOW will I pull that one off?"

Sure enough. There really was a Golden Age of Narnia. It was a time of peace after Edmund, Peter, Susan and Lucy became royalty in the land.

We sent out invitations with a Narnia picture and a gold background. Decorating was easy! I just bought lots of gold.

Our main activity was a search for gold and treasure in the land of Narnia.

I divided the kids into four teams of four. Each one was assigned an adult guide.

I gave each team a letter from "Aslan" explaining their assignment, a "map" of Narnia and 12 pictures of 12 locations where they would find hidden treasure. They were looking for spots like this:

and this:

Once they found one of the locations, they would find four brown paper bags.

They were labeled #1 in gold, #2 in silver, #3 in purple (amethyst) and #4 in green (jade). The team that arrived at that point first would take the first bag and so on, so that every team got a bag at each spot.

The bags contained candy or other prizes in matching colors. I filled them with junk... I mean treasures, like Rolo candy in gold wrappers, Hershey's kisses in silver, suckers in purple or green, gold compasses, mini recorders (like Mr. Tumnus's flute), coins and whatever else I could find.

The treasure hunt was definitely a challenge, but lots of fun.

After that, they played hide-and-go-seek for the birthday boy.

Then, reluctantly, we went inside for cake. I used my cake pan with the heart shape in the middle, which was filled with caramel ice cream. I just drizzled some caramel sauce on the top to give it a little "gold" and put some Narnia characters around the outside.

Oh, and the weather?

It was 73 degrees and sunny. The kids were running around in shorts and t-shirts.

We even went outside on the "rooftop garden" to open gifts.

So, for all of you who enjoyed the beautiful weekend, you can thank my son. We have been praying for months that he would have weather even HALF that nice for his golden day!

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