Category Archives: Kid Stuff

Catching Up

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Nathan’s 2014 Calendar – I love these calendars the kids make at school and will be so sad when the year comes that they are all too big to make them anymore.

I’d say it’s about time we do a little catching up.

No, I have not given up blogging.

No, I was not kidnapped by Aliens.

No, I did not move to the south of France to hide away from the world. Although some days, that is still on the table.

We have had a pretty challenging couple of months with some big losses in our family and my heart has been processing it all. Throw in a couple big holidays and a birthday and this unprepared lady just had no time to write or visit my favorite blogs.

I’ve missed you guys.

In early November, we received a call that my father-in-law, who had been battling cancer for last 10 years, was being moved to Hospice care with only a few days to a week before it would be his time. My husband immediately hopped on a plane to be by his dad’s side. Proving that he is absolutely the toughest guy I know, dad fought to live for another three weeks. I am so thankful my husband was able to spend most of that time by his dad’s side. After dad’s passing, our whole family flew out to say goodbye to grandpa. Well, goodbye for now anyway. We know he’s saving us a place at the best fishing hole around.

We stayed with our family in Indiana for a bittersweet but very blessed Thanksgiving.

While in Indiana, we were also able to squeeze in a trip to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis…

Sara was off with her cousins so I only have boy pictures and boy did they have a great time! True to their nature, David loved the history and “fact” finding opportunities and Nathan was all hands on energy. We only lost him once. He knew where we were and was evading. Nearly every gray hair I have is his doing. Nearly. They aren’t all his fault but I’m still sending him the cumulative salon bill someday anyway.

It was hard to leave grandma Judy and the family, the big blue Victorian house, the crisp fall air, the falling leaves, the warm fire and the quiet time.

We love you grandpa and we will miss you everyday. Until we meet again.

After getting home from Indiana, there was not a moment to waste getting ready for Christmas. Christmas cards and letters, decorating, shopping, baking, teacher, neighbor and co-worker gifts, brunch, parties and even a Women’s Ministry event thrown in for good measure! Thankfully, my trusty staff was on hand to help – see picture below., way below.

Oh, and a Birthday to celebrate too!

Happy Birthday, Sara!! One year from now,  we’ll have a teenager. Actually, less than a year from NOW.  Gulp.

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We try very hard to keep her birthday separate from Christmas and just celebrate her. With all that had gone on and all of the “Christmas catch-up” I had to do, Sara was very gracious about having a simple, low-key celebration this year. Low-key was officially supposed to come next year as the last of the “big” parties is sixth grade; says the parental management team. With the exception of Sweet 16 of course.

Instead of a big party, we decided it would be just as much fun to take her and as many friends as I could safely fit in the van to Jump Street where they could trampoline themselves to their hearts content.

Fun. Did I say fun? Oh my will I have to tell you all about it some time. For now, I will just let you imagine a half an hour in a car with six 11-12 year old girls, too many cell phones, too much perfume, lip-gloss and nail polish (all of which were opened, sprayed, dripped and gooped in my car at least once) and far too many pre-teen hormones. They are fun in groups of three or less. Anymore than that and a pack mentality seems to set in. A half an hour EACH WAY. Did I mention that.

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We do have a special birthday tradition just for her that we never miss. Every year, on her birthday, we take her out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and give her all of her gifts from the family. It is always a special evening and she loves it.  This year’s coveted birthday items – crazy knee socks, floral combat boots and anything with a moustache print on it.

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Nope, I wasn’t kidding. Don’t ask me?? If it is safe, appropriate and makes her happy, I don’t question.

One day soon, I will do a series of posts on some of the kids’ past parties. We’ve had some fun ones! For now you can check out the two I have posted; David’s Duck Dynasty Bash and Nathan’s Despicable Me Party.

In other news, Noodles the Elf on the Shelf was back for the Christmas Season so there was much Elf Management to be done …

The Elf Management team wasn’t quite as creative as last year but we got the job done. Mostly. When you have a six year old who misses nothing and wakes up instantly hyper-focused on a mission to find the elf, it can be complicated if the elf has not in fact been moved because management was dragging into bed at 1am and … gasp … forgot. “Oh, no someone must have touched the elf” came in handy more than once.

And then, all too soon, it was Christmas …

I love Christmas. Everything about it. Next year, my goal is to have posts ready ahead of time so I don’t miss sharing this wonderful season with my blogging friends. Unless you are prepared in advance, It is just too hard to write and keep up with all of the “busy” while desperately trying maintain focus on what truly matters. Lesson learned.

Desperately busy. Which leads me to December 26th and hibernation. I am an extrovert who becomes an introvert for about two weeks a year; December 26th until the day the kids go back to school.  I’m done. Finished. Spent. Turtle in her introverted shell. I may stay in my PJs all day. I may watch movies with the kids all day. In my PJs. ALL DAY. For many days.

Needless to say, I am not a New Year’s party girl. Well, I’m not really a party girl at all (anymore – for any of my college friends who might be reading) unless it is a dinner party or a birthday party or there’s cake. You know what I mean.

New Year’s Day consisted of bike riding and a picnic out back oh, and we did share the week with one very special and adorable house guest “Buster” or “Sassy McNoodle” as we like to call him.

And New Year’s Eve?

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Well this is about as exciting as it gets around here folks! H.I.B.E.R.N.A.T.I.O.N. Only one kid made it to midnight. I’ll give you one guess. Yup. The youngest. Party animal – just look at that face.

JanuaryAnd so, here it is the middle of January and sadly, 2014 has not had an easy start. We just returned from Oklahoma after saying goodbye to Gary’s incredible cousin Mike who passed away just after the New Year. I will tell you about Mike sometime as I will tell you about dad. For now, I will just share this from a card that was sent to us by Gary’s uncle Chuck after dad’s passing …

My prayer for you is a little light in the midst of this darkness. “We will never be the same as we were before this loss, but are ever so much better for having had something so great to lose.” – Leigh

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Indeed we are. And we are grateful to the God who loves and sustains us and we praise Him in all things. We trust in Him an look to Him for comfort even when we can’t find understanding.

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This one’s for you cousin Mike – Boomer Sooner!

Yes, it has been a difficult and busy few months for our family but we are moving forward and I am so glad you and I are finally catching up. Thank you for hanging in there with me and for your readership and friendship. A special welcome to the new visitors who have stopped by and the readers who have so graciously followed Welcome Company. I have a long list of recipes, ideas, plans for the Hacienda, stories to share and adventures to come.

I am looking forward to all that 2014 will bring.

I hope each and everyone of you had a wonderful holiday and got some time of your own to “hibernate” with those you love most. May 2014 be a year of blessing, adventure, friendship, family and fun. And may we be thankful to the God who loves us in all that may come.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Blessings my friends!

 

Assemble the Minions! We’re Celebrating “Despicable Me” Style!

We recently celebrated my “baby’s” 6th Birthday.

Yes, my littlest love is now 6 and no, I have no idea where the time has gone.

He is one funny kid, this one – all three stooges in one little body as we like to say. He has an exuberance for life that takes my breath away. Usually because I am constantly running after him in 100 different directions at once. And such a sweet and fun loving spirit. Planning his parties is always a joy!

For the longest time he wanted this birthday party to have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme and I had gone to sleep many nights with ideas and thoughts of turning giant crime stopping, smack talking martial artist turtles and their rodent sensei into a party.

And then we saw Despicable Me 2 this summer and, as it so often is with kids, everything changed. After that, I went to sleep with ideas and thoughts of turning a Ukrainian (I’m guessing) accented super villain, three sassy little girls and the most ridiculously adorable little yellow minions into a party.

In the end, it was really the minions who stole the show, as it is in the movies. Nathan LOVES the minions and belly laughed so hard at their antics that he had the entire theater laughing along with him. It is one of the things I love most about this kid, his exuberance.

You’re invited now to come on in and see how we celebrated this incredible little person … Despicable Me Style!

The Invitation

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In my last party post, A Duck Dynasty Birthday Bash, I told you that I love to design my own invitations. Images from the internet make it easy and fun to customize your own invite in whatever theme you’ve chosen.

If you would like to use my invitation, you will find the printable here … Minion Birthday Party Invitation Printable. You can easily go into the text boxes and customize the invitation for your party. I printed my invitations on plain white card stock.

Welcome to the party …

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The Party “Welcome Sign” on the front door, if you can call all of Gru’s rules welcoming, is a fun way to greet guests and let them know they are at the right place.

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I printed up the images on white cardstock, mounted them on poster board and then attached them together with paperclips that I had bent and twisted into submission.

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I also had a couple of friendly minions welcoming guests through the windows.

Printables …

Minion Door Hanger

Gru’s Rules

Waving Minion

Window Minions

The Favors

I kept the party favors pretty simple. Disposable cake decorating bags make great gift and favor bags (they are also great for hot chocolate treats – I’ll share that fun project with you as we get closer to the holidays).

I just filled the bags with a little candy and then topped each one off with a Minion and tied the tops with ribbon.

The Minion Figures were purchased through Amazon; Option 1Option 2.

Gru made a “Freeze Ray” for each child, just like his. Well, almost like his. The didn’t actually have the capability to freeze anyone, which was probably for the best. But they did squirt water, which is something.

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The “Freeze Ray” Printable can be found here – Despicable Me Party Signs.

The Food

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Despicable Me 2 Spoiler Alert! Eduardo Perez comes off as a friendly restaurant proprietor known for his famous but very secret salsa. BUT could he actually be the despicable villain El Macho; long thought dead? Hmmmmm …

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Whomever he truly is, he inspired the “Taste of Mexico” menu for our party!

  • Blue and Yellow Corn Chips
  • Salsa (of course), Sour Cream and Guacamole
  • Queso Cheese Dip (just Velveeta and Rotel Tomatoes melted in the crock pot).
  • Taquitos and Quesadillas (served on the white platters shown above).
  • And grapes and watermelon wedges – always a kid favorite!

An easy but festive, kid friendly menu!

El Macho and Salsa & Salsa Sign Printables.

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The drink station included water, lemonade and iced tea for the parents. I love to put orange slices in my iced tea and a few lemon slices always jazz up a pitcher or container of lemonade!

Now for the best part … cake!

The Minion Cupcakes

Floating all over Pinterest is this great idea for turning Twinkies into Minions. It couldn’t have been simpler. Make your favorite cupcakes (I made vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes) and frost them with blue butter cream. I put the frosting in a pastry bag, snip off the end and swirl it on. Cut the Twinkies in half and with ready made frosting tubes, put on the eyes (Wilton now makes candy eyes that you can find at the grocery store) add different funny expressions and hair and then place a Twinkie Minion atop each cupcake. I had a few more cupcakes than Twinkie Minions so I frosted those yellow and sprinkled them with blue sugar for a little variety.

Minion-Cupcakes-8For the cake topper, I added text to an image from the internet, printed it out on white cardstock and the mounted it on yellow cardstock. I taped two of the yellow striped drinking straws to the back and stuck it into the cupcakes.

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A few candles and the Minion Fireman (“be-doh, be-doh, be-doh”) to keep everything in line and the cupcake tower was complete.

Yes I had far to much fun coming up with Minion hairstyles. Do you see the comb-over in the back on the left? That is really my best work.

Minion Birthday Greeting Cake Topper Printable.

Shrunken Moon Bites (donut holes dipped in white chocolate – if you are really ambitious you could do these as cake pops), Coco-Nutties (Vector’s favorite cookie – conveniently purchased at the grocery store), an Ice Cream Cone station and a dog “food” bowl (just like in the movie) filled with candy finished out the treat table.

Despicable Me Party Food Printable.

Despicable Me Lunch Plates, Cake PlatesCups, Lunch Napkins, Beverage Napkins and Yellow Striped Paper Straws.

Despicable Me Figures of Gru and the girls, Kyle the Dog and four minions used to decorate the cake table were purchased on Amazon.

The Fun

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There’s that precious birthday boy!

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We all wore Minion T-Shirts, which was very fun but of course, I didn’t take a minute to have someone photograph our family together in our shirts. I’ll have to make everyone put them back on and fix that! Sara did have a minion shirt but must have changed into something more fashionable after swimming. Oh to be a tween and still have someone else doing your laundry.

I have learned over several years and A LOT of birthday parties that planning a ton of games and activities really isn’t necessary. What the kids really want to do, especially when they are little is run around and play together. At our house, there is a lot of room to run and many imaginative adventures to be had. And with the boys having birthdays in June and September, they also want to swim (Sara’s is in December so even in Arizona, swimming is out).

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So, while I had a lot of different games in mind, (freeze tag, boogie robot freeze dancing or musical chairs, etc.) I ended up only putting one together – The Space Killer Carnival game from the first movie. Space-Killer-Despicable-Me-

I printed up images of the space aliens from the game in the movie in varying sizes and then glued them to a foam presentation board. The kids used Nerf guns to shoot at the stacked cups.

“KNOCKED OVER!” Of course I had to include an image of Gru after he blew the whole thing up.

If you have not seen the movie, you really must. And then get the second one when it comes out on Blue Ray soon. They are so clever and very funny!

Of course we sang happy birthday, blew out candles, had cake and ice cream …

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and opened presents – my friend Eileen had a captive audience as she read birthday cards.

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And then after a lot of fun and a little too much sugar, some down time racked out with your buds watching your favorite movie is a must. You can get away with this when you’re six.

Speaking of buds …

Nathan-&-Hayden

Hayden is one of Nathan’s favorite buds of all time. Hayden and his wonderful family were our neighbors for many years. When Nathan was a baby and Hayden was about eight, he would pop over all the time to play with Nathan. As they both grew, Hayden never got too big to hang out with Nathan. I have a picture of them together at each of Nathan’s Birthdays. It is great to have a friend who has loved you your whole life! We just wish he was still right over the fence.

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We love you Hayden (and Michael, April and Hope)!

So that’s it. One more birthday party down for the record books.

Whaaaaaaaat? The Party’s Over?

Yes, the party’s over. But around here, it won’t be long until there’s another one!

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Thanks for coming!

Thank you note printable.

All of the party printables shared in this post are made with images found on the internet and are for personal use only and not for sale or distribution in anyway. Please play fair and have a fantastic party!

S’Mores Cupcakes

With the start of the school year, we are back in full swing with Cub Scouts. I love to blog about Cub Scouts because it is such a big part of our lives and has been an incredible experience for our whole family. The Scouting program is awesome and I love sharing all of the fun and important stuff we do with all of you.

This past weekend, our Pack got together for a lesson on the Scouting principle of Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace means just that. It focuses primarily on camping and outdoor activities but the underlying principle applies to all areas of our lives. Take care of your environment; whether it is the outdoors, your school, your home, your room, the park, the movie theater; you get the idea. Wherever you go, whatever you do, be mindful of the environment and how you have an impact upon it.

And ALWAYS leave a place better than you found it. Which means sometimes we have to pick up after others too.

Rather than just talk about it with our Scouts, we wanted them to experience the lesson first hand. The best lessons are often learned by seeing and doing. So this past Saturday, our boys and their families spent a few hours cleaning up along the banks of the Salt River.

The lower Salt River is a major recreation site in our area and unfortunately, not everyone respects the privilege of enjoying such a beautiful place. A LOT of trash gets left behind. It was important for our Scouts to see first hand how even a little waste has a big impact when the effects of so many visitors is combined.

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They worked hard and cleaned up a lot of trash.

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We are very proud of our “Bear” and his understanding and respect for nature and the need to care for and protect the environment. He is passionate about it. Now, if we could just get that same passion to carry over to his room.

After all of that hard work and a lot of hand sanitizer, it was time for a treat. It was way too hot to roast marshmallows (and open fire isn’t allowed right now) so I decided to improvise and turn Scouting’s signature dish into a cup cake.

S’Mores Cupcakes

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I love to bake from scratch and have some wonderful chocolate cake recipes from my grandmother. But there are times when practicality wins out and you just have to break out the cake mix. I adapted a recipe from the cookbook “The Cake Mix Doctor” by Anne Byrn and came up with a yummy chocolate cupcake, perfect to feed a lot of hungry Cub Scouts. Three batches yielded 60 cupcakes. If you don’t “overfill” as I tend to do, you might just get 24 cup cakes in a batch.

Cup Cake Ingredients

  • 1 package Milk Chocolate cake mix
  • 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 Cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Cup Cake S’More Toppings

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  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 Bag of jumbo marshmallows, each marshmallow cut in half
  • Graham cracker pieces or mini graham crackers for garnish
  • Chocolate pieces for garnish

Cup Cake Directions

In pure cake mix fashion, put all of the ingredients together in your stand mixer and blend it all on medium to medium-high for a minute. Scrape down the sides and blend for another minute or until well combined and smooth. Line your muffin/cup cake tin with paper wrappers and fill each 3/4 of the way full.

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Then sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs (about a teaspoon each). I made the first batch with the graham cracker crumbs placed in the bottom of the wrapper and the batter poured on top. It didn’t adhere to the cake like I wanted so I opted to sprinkle the crumbs on top.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

I love how they look with the graham cracker crumbs on top.

Next … the fun part.

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Set your oven rack, two spaces down from the broiler and then turn the oven to the broil setting.

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Put your cupcakes on a sheet tray and place a marshmallow half on top of each one. Place the marshmallow topped cupcakes under the broiler for 1 minute and 45 seconds. That is the exact amount of time my oven took to perfectly toast the marshmallows. The time needed in your oven may be different so keep an eye on them.

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Finish the cup cakes off in true S’Mores fashion with wedges of graham cracker and chocolate. The crackers can go on right away but let the marshmallow cool a bit before you add the chocolate or you’ll have a melty mess.

The boys and families of our Pack spent and afternoon doing our part to clean up a bit and leave things better than we found them. But our day wasn’t all hard work. Yes, there were yummy cup cakes but did I mention there was a also helicopter?

No? Ohhhh, there was a helicopter!

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Our Wolf Den Leader is a Sheriff’s Deputy and he arranged quite the surprise for our boys. For all of us, actually. When he told me he was setting up something cool, I was just thinking a few sirens and lights. Nope. There was a helicopter.

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Of course the boys LOVED it. And they deserved it. Hard work always has its reward!

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I know one little boy in particular who was in heaven!

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Really, does it get much cooler than that?

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We also had a visit from these deputies who patrol the river on ATVs. Very cool too! In fact, I’m pretty sure they have their own action figures. Well, if they don’t they should.

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The perfect spot to watch a helicopter take off!

A special thanks to Rob and our friends from the Sheriff’s Department for the work you do to keep our community safe and for so graciously giving a little of your time to make a kid’s day.

You guys rock!

When Did He Get So Big?

Guess what has happened around here in the last week?

Any guesses? Give up? Okay, I’ll tell you.

School started.

My kids went back to school.

MY KIDS WENT BACK TO SCHOOL!

I love my kids. You know that.

I love the first 3 1/2 weeks of summer.

And then, I LOVE it when my kids go back to school. Well, I mostly love it.

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But this year was a little different and I will admit, mommy had some added back to school anxiety. I always have a little back to school anxiety (especially with some of our unique challenges) but this year, my  youngest, my baby, started Kindergarten.

And it was hard.

For me.

Thankfully, not for him.

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When did he get so big?

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When did he become so independent?

He did not want to walk with me. He wanted to do it ALL. BY. HIMSELF.

I want him to be independent and I want him to hold my hand too.

Yes, that big expanse of grass between us in just one big metaphor. Incidentally, you’re not supposed to walk on the grass so we started Kindergarten by breaking the rules. See, he should have held my hand.

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But this boy was too big for that and he was all business! All of the friends and teachers we ran into welcomed him and I would say Nathan, tell them what grade you are in. After about the fourth time, he turned and looked at me and said …

“MOMMY, I tell you already … K – I – N -D – E – R – G – A – R – T – E – N ! !” If only I could express to you his far too grown up exasperation at my apparent inability to remember what grade he was in. It won’t be the last time I exasperate him, you can be sure of that.

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Eventually, we made it to the classroom, Nathan ten feet ahead of me, where he lined up and waited patiently to go in.

A big kid.

Yes, my child is 4x larger than every other Kindergartener on the planet but that isn’t really what I meant.

Mama doesn’t have a baby anymore, which he so often reminds me when I try to tell him he will always be my baby. “Mommy, I not a baby. I’m a big boy!”

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And so he is.

And then my big boy gave me a hug and marched independently into his classroom and got right down to business.

I have to tell you,  technically I should not have this picture. We parents should have stayed out of the classroom and given our children their space. Bless my son’s perceptive and gracious teacher who sensing our neediness, allowed us into the classroom for a few quick last goodbyes and hugs and a Kindergarten paparazzi of flashing cameras. Yes, we kindergarten parents are a sad lot – at least on the first day.

Thankfully, we are now through the first few days of school and all of my kids have settled in well.

And so have I.

I miss them but I know they are in good hands and are happily busy and learning and are no longer bored or fighting with each other or making me hide in my bathroom just to make a phone call.

My house is cleaner. And quieter.

And I can write again. Oh blog and blogging friends, how I have missed you!

And I am peaceful and happy to see them at the end of their day and hear all about everything they did.

Nathan LOVES Kindergarten and it has already been really good for him. Instead of his usual Three Stooges burp, he made a quiet burp the other day with his little fist to his mouth and said “mommy, my teacher show me how to burp quietly.” I have shown him how to burp quietly too, but sometimes you just need a little back up.

And they need a little independence.

 

 

My Boy is a Bear

Yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift a ban on openly gay youth. Read the article by Miranda Leitsinger and Jason White of NBC News by clicking the link above.

Scouts is a huge part of our life. My boys are still very young so we are involved in Cub Scouts which is for first grade through fifth grade boys. At the end of fifth grade, Cub Scouts cross over and become Boy Scouts. We love the values and skills that Cub Scouts teaches as well as the friendships and fun it offers!

I was David’s Tiger Den leader when he was in the first grade and I am now the committee chair for our pack working to coordinate the dens, plan pack events and keep paperwork in order. It adds a bit to my already full plate but it is worth it. I love my boys and I love what they are learning through Scouts. I love Scouts.

I also make the cupcakes.

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Nathan isn’t officially a scout yet but he loves “Hub” Scouts and can’t wait until he becomes a “Tiger” in first grade.

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I can’t imagine someone telling him he couldn’t be a Scout because he was different or he wasn’t what they deem acceptable. His heart would be broken.

This post is not about debating morality or gay rights.

It is about compassion.

I am thankful and proud to be an American. I believe in the constitution and the principles this nation was founded on and am deeply blessed to enjoy the freedoms that we have in this country.

Those freedoms are for ALL. Whether we agree on everything or not. You can disagree with me. It is okay. Many people I love and respect will disagree. I will still love and respect them. My heart is led to err on the side of compassion and love. To welcome and walk along side my neighbor. Some details I will leave to God.

America needs Scouting! Boys need Scouting. We need to be reaching out and sharing the adventure, not pushing people away.

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David and some of his “Wolf” buddies.

Tico Perez, the BSA national commissioner summed it up well when he said “there were divisions about how to serve kids. If we have disagreement, if we have discomfort, we are going to talk through it. America needs Scouting. Our singular focus moving forward is serving more kids in Scouting, and we believe this resolution is going to do that.”

One parent had this to say “we’re very disappointed. I will compare it to a funeral.” His son expressed concern about being allowed to remain a Scout. “I hope I can continue,” he said. “It depends if my parents feel safe to let me stay.” I find that so unfortunate and very sad and I hope very much that he gets to continue on his journey as a Scout.

A boy scout who is gay is not a threat to my boys.

Allowing my boys to think they have a right to be exclusive or elitist or can turn their backs on people because of differences is the threat.

It is my job to teach my children what we believe and it is my job to teach them to walk in love.

It is my job to “show” others what I believe in the way that I act and live my life.

I will teach my children about a dream where people are judged by the “content of their character”. Remember that dream?

I will teach them to be compassionate, even in disagreement.

Every night at the dinner table we ask each of our kids “how did you show your Jesus today?”

How did you show love, compassion, humility, grace, mercy, hope?

How do we “show our Jesus” if we exclude, push away and turn our backs?

I think yesterday, the Scouts “showed their Jesus” and I may just start sportin’ one of those “I’m proud of my Cub Scout” stickers on the bumper of my ride.

Which is a mini-van. Oh yes, I am a Scout mom.

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And I make a mean cupcake.

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Last week, my boy became a Bear. He completed all of his achievements and graduated from the second grade rank of Wolf to the third grade rank of Bear.

Here are a few photos from our Advancement Ceremony …

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David receiving his recognition and awards from the Wolf Den leader, Eileen. I like to call her Ethel – take a look at my Scout Halloween Party post if you want to know why.

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Part of the Wolf badge ceremony. I sure wish I had a picture of the looks on their faces when they had to drink wolf’s blood. Well it was V-8 juice but I think it may have actually been more palatable to them had it been actual wolf’s blood. I truly thought it was coming back up with a few of them – which would have made the ceremony all the more exciting.

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Our Cub Master and our youngest Scouts, The Tigers, getting ready to become Wolves.

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Our Bear Den getting ready to move up to the rank of Webelo.

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We didn’t promise it would be without peril.

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I love that members of our local Boy Scout Troop conducted our ceremony. They help us out with a lot and it is good for the younger boys to interact with the older Scouts.

If you have a boy of scouting age, I hope you will consider Scouts. The boys can join anytime and will automatically be placed in the appropriate rank for their age. Don’t worry if your boy didn’t start as a Tiger, there is a place for him and he will transition in easily.

If you are interested in learning more about Scouting, please visit the BSA Website or contact your local Cub Scout Pack or Boy Scout Troop. There is also Venture Scouts which girls are welcome to participate in. I promise you, adventure, friendship and fun awaits!

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Look, my boy is a Bear and is beyond excited to leave soon for camp with his dad – who will be the Assistant Cub Master next year because his wife volunteered him.

Lucky for me, he’s a good sport and loves Scouts too.

Today – A Thank You; Tomorrow – The Backyard

I know I invited you to join me in the backyard today but I’m going to have to reschedule for tomorrow. This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and the big PTO auction to raise money for our elementary school is tomorrow night. I have been busy making treats for teachers and putting together auction items today and haven’t had a chance to finish my “backyard” post.

I do promise I will have it for you tomorrow.

But for now, because it is Teacher Appreciation Week, I would love to share with you a post I wrote last Fall about the incredible blessing of some amazing teachers in our life.

Mrs. Skinner, David and Mrs. Stapley

Mrs. Skinner, David and Mrs. Stapley

In the Company of Great Teachers

Click the link and it will take you to the post. And for the record, Mr. K has turned out to be the most incredible principal a kid and his mom could ask for! He has gone far above and beyond and my son has had a fantastic year!

To all of the teachers out there, THANK YOU!

Thank you for your patience, love and guidance. Thank you for all the hard work, the late hours the dedication. Thank you for all you do for our kids!

As a special thank you to the teachers at our school, I did what I do and made them something to eat …

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Sourdough Strata with Roasted Tomatoes and Greens 

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and lots and lots of Pain au Chocolat 

 Nothing says “I think you’re awesome” like a chocolate croissant.

 To Mr. Kaczmarek, Mrs. Skinner, Mrs. Marr, Mrs. Stapley, Mrs. Walsh,  Mrs. McConnell, Mrs. Weaver, Mrs. Miller, Ms. Alfonso and Mr. McCarron and all of the support staff who work with our kids everyday, you guys are absolutely incredible. It has been a GREAT year we are so blessed to have you in our children’s lives.

You ARE awesome! And very much appreciated.

Just a side note, Nathan starts Kindergarten next year. Wait till they get a load of him.

I may need to bring teacher appreciation treats on a monthly basis.

Cub Scout Cub Mobile – Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

This past Saturday was the annual Pack 371 Cub Mobile.

Yes, once a year we strap our children into a wooden “go-cart” that is steered awkwardly with the feet, has very little maneuverability, a questionable braking system and is highly likely to be over-corrected and driven into a hay bale or worse, a cactus (yes, I know the singular is technically cacti but it just sounds so weird).

Thankfully, Cub Mobiles do not actually have engines, gravity does all the work; which is enough, believe me.

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Why would any sane parent do this? Because it’s FUN and the kids have a blast!

And Cub Scouts are tough and always up for adventure!

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So every spring, we block off a road, lay out a course, strap our young into a questionable vehicle, load them onto a ramp and let ’em hurl down the street.

Welcome to Cub Mobile 2013

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The Brewer Boys, ready to race!

In Lane 1, Nathan “Shark Attack” Brewer

and in Lane 2, David “Had to Wear my Cool Quad Helmet” Brewer

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But it sure does look cool.

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Nathan sizes up the competition …

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and he’s off. I think his dimpley smile could be seen from space.

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This was his first time racing and he laughed and squealed the whole way down.

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After they launch from the ramp, the boys race to the end (this is another set of brothers racing) of the “track” …

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where should they forget to brake, there is a self-sacrificing dad waiting to catch them.  This particular heroic dad just happens to belong to my kids. Somehow, he always seems to end up in this enviable position, having to catch a hurtling go-cart with a wide-eyed boy who has forgotten where the brake is.

While we do have a few scrapes, bumps and bruises, safety is first and the boys wear helmets, long pants and no flip-flops – in Arizona, you always have to specify NO FLIP-FLOPS when necessary – and the danger is pretty minimal. I was just joking about the “cacti”, those are strategically blocked by hay bales; although those boys seem to do their best to try and hit them.

Really, the greatest danger is to those poor dads who catch the cars at the bottom of the hill. They are rock stars!

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Next year though, we will be adding elbow pads to the list of safety equipment. I don’t have any pictures of David racing because his second run ended in dramatic fashion with a big crash and a pretty nasty scraped elbow. That was enough for him and he was done for the day. Hangin’ at the snack table was a much safer option.

Cub-Mobile-3Meanwhile, Nathan was bouncing himself silly in the bounce house when he wasn’t running up and down the track playing “first responder” at every crash. Giving the thumbs up signal to let us know the driver was okay. He cracks me up.

In the end, a good time was had by all and no Cub Scouts were harmed, well mine was but he’ll live and he has a great story to tell. And, just in case you’re wondering, we did not just close down a city street. Well we did but we had permits and official barriers, which did not stop a few angry neighborhood motorists from expressing their disdain at our great inconvenience to them. I’m guessing they won’t be buying any Cub Scout popcorn at our next fund-raiser.

All I can say to that is …

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and we’ll be back next year.

So, aside from a scraped elbow – incidentally, he would not allow me to put a band-aid on it this morning; he said it was fine and he didn’t need one. I, however, know the real reason – cool points with his buddies; boys, particularly 7 and 8 year old boys, are very impressed by all things scabby and gross. My son will be a hero today. Who am I to stand in the way of his glory with band aids and infection preventing precautions.

Anyway, as I was saying, aside from a few minor injuries,

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a couple of maintenance issues

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and a small zombie apocalypse,

Cub Mobile 2013 was a huge success and a whole lotta’ fun!

Thanks to all of the incredible Pack 371 parents who worked hard to make it a safe and awesome event for some pretty darn great kids; zombies included.