Easter Sunday

I try and keep the secular aspects of Easter to a minimum. I do like the fun of the hunt, new clothes and having some goodies in their Easter baskets, though. Every year I swear I'm going to do it on Saturday and every year we get too busy. This year I was insistent that I was going to get everything ready Friday night. Of course, I ended up being exhausted after all the girls left Ellie's party and I decided that I'd just do it on Sunday like every other year. I headed off to bed, looking forward to sleeping in.

Of course Nate had overheard me saying I was hiding the eggs for Saturday and unaware of my sudden slothfulness, woke up Saturday morning at 6 am wondering where all the eggs were hidden.

Sunday was pretty much a repeat and all of the kids were in bed with us by 6:30 waiting for Luke to wake up so they go hunting. I am NOT looking forward to how early they're going to wake up for Christmas this year if this was their reaction to Easter.
To sum up the morning, let's just say the kids loved their baskets (sidewalk chalk, new swim suits, clothes and toys) but they are horrible egg seekers. A few days later I was still finding eggs in my shoes or behind pillows.
Despite missing a few dozen eggs, there still seemed to be plenty of candy. I think it's pretty much all that I ate the entire day. That and leftover cake from Ellie's party and birthday. In fact the only healthy food we ate all day was when we went to dinnerat my mom's Uncle Floyd's house. It was amazing to be with family on such a special day and we are so lucky to have some close by who adopt us whenever we need it.

I did try and take some picture of all the kids together and failed miserably. I think we all know who the problem was:I will even admit that I may have thrown a fit similar to Luke at one point in the day because I couldn't get them to just.sit.still.
Oh well, I will remember exactly what they were like at this point. A little wild, but perfectly mine!



I think turning an odd number in age makes it seem like a huge jump. Nine. NINE! I can't believe my baby is nine. I know she's not a baby, but she was my *first* baby. And now she's my amazingly beautiful and tall nine year old daughter.The years have really flown by and I can honestly say that she is a JOY! Don't think there aren't times when Ellie can really try my patience, but for the most part she has been an amazingly fantastic daughter. She is incredibly helpful and fulfills everything I ask her to do. She is also so easy to be around. She's funny and thoughtful and loving pretty much all the time. Often times it's her suggesting to me that she is capable of handling more responsibility. She practically had to beg me to start taking out the trash (and my life is so much the better for it). I'm so grateful we have her in our family because she takes care of everyone.

For her birthday we let her pick the menu all day. First off, Bosa Donuts for breakfast. Dustin took the kids to see Hop after lunch, and then we hit up BJ's for dinner. For dessert she picked The Cheesecake Factory. I think she may have been slightly overwhelmed when I took her up to the counter and showed her all of the choices.

After cake, we opened her presents. I count the birthday party as my major gift to my kids, so we usually get just one small present. Ellie wanted a scooter and asked my parents for some sketchers twinkle toes. Wish granted!

In typical Ellie fashion, she loved everything and didn't demand anything over the top. She's the kind of kid that's happy with anything and always has fun. Ellie, I love you so much. Thank you for the sweet spirit and example you bring to our family!


Whoooooo had a Birthday?

Being the first kid can't be that easy. I have some high expectations and I rely on Ellie for a lot of help. On the upside she gets a lot of perks that I won't mention for fear the other kids will read this one day and wonder why they don't get as many benefits. To my children in the future I offer this advice: work harder and whine less.

One of the perks for Ellie is her birthday party. Her birthday is at a great time of year usually because the holidays are over and summer is on my brain so I'm not stressed out or overwhelmed. I usually start planning it around February right after Valentine's Day is over.

This year she wanted to base her party around a pair of owl pajamas she has. I stumbled across a cute cute blog where the lady had made owls for all the girls. I immediately called my party planning co-conspirator (I think she'll like that better than "my sister who I always talk into my insane ideas") and asked her if she would make 8 owls for Ellie's party favors. With that, out theme was ready to take flight.

Ellie and Sadie were BIG helper. They designed and glued together the birthday party invites, which were ENORMOUS. I ended up just doing an e-vite for everyone, but Ellie still wanted to hand deliver some of the invites.

They also helped me make the cake.
Poor Sadie was really distraught when she couldn't come to the party. And even more distraught when every single girl we invited made it to the party, so there was no left over owl for her. Or Ellie.

We played 7-11, made lip gloss, played hide-and-go-seek in the dark, watched party of a movie, and went on a scavenger hunt for glow-in-the-dark stars. At the end of the night it was time for the owls. They were a HUGE hit. But, how could they not be loved and cherished. They are SO cute.

My sister is amazingly selfless and talented and if you don't have a sister like that, than I guess you must *BE* that sister. I am lucky enough that she loves Ellie and me so much that she put her blood sweat and tears into these. THANK YOU SCUTTLEBUTT!! And now I'm indebted to you for all of Livy's birthdays for the next 10 years.



This blog post will discuss the validity of the Easter Bunny -- so if you have no desire to know, DO NOT READ THIS!We were having a very spiritual Family Home Evening on Monday discussing Easter and the reason we celebrate it. Sadie kept bringing up the Easter Bunny and finally I was so sick of listening to her try and squeeze the Easter Bunny into a lesson about Christ's Atonement that I blurted out, "THERE IS NO EASTER BUNNY." Ellie already knew and I'm pretty sure Nate wasn't believing the whole giant bunny who brings eggs either, but I did feel kind of bad taking away some of Sadie's childhood.

She was sort of agog and stared at me with giant bug eyes, but we managed to get back to get everything back on track and finish things sort of spiritually. Then I turned secular and we dyed Easter Eggs.I should also mention that since I had spoiled the whole Easter Bunny thing, I also made them stuff their own Easter Eggs with candy. WIN for me!! Should I make them hide them too??Oh yeah, Luke was there too.And to wrap this up, Thursday was Sadie's Easter Egg hunt at school. First thing she said when I picked her up was, "MOM! The *real* *live* Easter Bunny came to our school and hid eggs." So I guess I didn't really rob her of anything.


Let them Eat Cake

I exaggerate a lot. I think most people know this about me. What I do not think they know is that am deadly serious about dessert. I never exaggerate when sugar is involved. Below are 3 examples from April alone, where I fed my kids cake for a meal.

1. April Fool's DayOK, not real cake and yes, I have done the cupcakes before. But in my defense, Sadie didn't remember them so it was new to her and I did make Cocoa Krispie treats to look like meatloaf. Those little tomoatoes are frosting from inside Christmas Oreoes. YUM!

2. Caketini
Dustin and I went on a much needed date up to Olive and Ivy in Scottsdale. I was foolish enough to let myself get talked into the ice cream sundae for dessert (I don't like ice cream, so I have no idea why I thought I might like this) so I insisted Dustin take me somewhere for MORE dessert. Sprinkles had already closed so we headed over to Caketini which everyone had been raving about. We ran into some friends, got overwhelmed by the choices (I may have eaten part of a random stranger's cupcake at one point -- but she INSISTED!) and ended up with half a dozen cupcakes. Lucky breakfast for the kids!

My review: Mixed. I found the chocolate cupcakes disappointing, but the fruit flavored ones were really really good. But then again, I don't like most of the Sprinkles chocolate cupcakes either. I do prefer Sprinkles frostings to Caketini frosting.

3. Karen Malanca cake
We invited a friend over for dinner. Despite me telling her not to bring anything, she brought us a giant double layer chocolate cake. Sadie saw it, asked Karen if she could have some (who of course said, "SURE!"), grabbed a fork and started eating before we had even started on dinner. She probably ate a quarter of the cake BY HERSELF! She seriously looked like she was on Man vs. Food at one point.
Anyone else confused at why Sadie is all of these pictures? She only likes fruit! Literally I asked one day if she would rather have a pear or fresh baked cookies. I think we all know what she decided. She even picked a TOMATO over cookies.

Culinary Adventures

Over the past few years I had transformed from cooking dinner a few times a year to cooking dinner practically every single night. Dustin is still the Master Chef in this house, but I do a pretty good job of it as long as it doesn't revolve me touching large chunks of raw meat.

It took me about 6 months to get comfortable and then I started getting a little bored, so I gathered recipes from food blogs and started on those. I was still slightly limited, though, because I HATE touching raw meat. I don't mind ground turkey or fish, but chicken breast made me want to gag and pork loin was even worse (we don't eat red meat). I finally got to the point where I could empty them into the crock pot and then shred the meat. This got me another year of recipes. But after that. BLAH! I honestly don't know how some of you have cooked for 12 plus years of marriage, because after a few years I had pretty much done it all and was running out of new ideas. Everything seemed like the same recipe with a few tweaks.

And so I decided. . .it was time to touch chicken.

Earlier in the week, my neighbor had me come over and gave me a crash course in wheat grinding and bread making (which I've actually gotten really good at BTW). (PS Ever wondered what I look like when I haven't showered or bothered to try and do a thing with my hair?? Now you know.)
Just call me the Little Red Hen, but when I was done making my bread I felt so empowered! I could conquer anything in the kitchen! Even chicken!

So I got that chicken out of the freezer and I pounded it and then I covered it in panko bread crumbs and made my kids a nice baked parmesan chicken. And just this week I progressed to CUTTING the chicken into squares and making homemade chicken nuggets. I may even get brave enough to cook chicken in a pan someday. But at least chicken in the oven recipes are being made.

Any great recipes to share? Or suggestions of what to try next??


March Madness

About a month Spring finally hit Arizona and my friend Karen invited some friends to join them for dessert at their park one Sunday. Spring doesn't last long in Arizona, and we all agreed we should have another dessert night soon before the weather got unbearable.

Now, if you know me at all you know that I think everything is better if there's a theme and a challenge. Seeing as it was right around March Madness time, I suggested we make the next dessert night into a competition and quickly set up an ESPN league for everyone. The winner would decide the theme and who had to bring which dessert.(Sadie picked BYU to win the whole thing)

At the same time I was in a very competitive March Madness league with my family as well, where my sister and I had done a lot of thorough research by clicking the "Pick the Expert Picks" box which automatically filled in our brackets. I was pretty sure that I ("the experts") knew what I was (they were) doing so I might have started some good natured trash talking. Mostly geared towards Mike Bryner because he likes the Utes and they weren't even IN the competition.

Never before have my kids loved March Madness this much. Maybe it was because Jimmer was playing and BYU was doing pretty well, or maybe it was because they were tracking the brackets hoping someone in our family would win. . . but my family went basketball crazy in March.

Well it was a crazy year with lots of upsets and none of us won, which didn't bother me too much. I didn't care who won, as long as it wasn't Mike Bryner -- who picked Notre Dame to win the whole thing. Unfortunately, he still came freakishly close to winning and I was in panic watching the UConn game. If they pulled it out, Karen would have enough points to push Mike out of first and I wouldn't have to wear red shirts for the rest of the year or paint UTES rule on my grass. Luckily for us, UConn pulled through and Karen decided she didn't just want dessert, she wanted a whole party. She had put together some Minute to Win It games for a party that had never been used and since she hates planning parties, she was happy to hand everything over to us and bask in her winner awesomeness.

I give you the teams:

Karen's only request was that the Bryner's be the Blue team and show some Cougar Pride. I just about died when a Zoobie mom and Robbie Boscoe walked in. I always appreciate a good sport! Sadie even had purple sunglasses. She was FULL of team spirit and definitely happy to be on the Purple Team with the "Roneys."No, we did not win. We did look fierce, though.

We squeezed in about 5 games between dinner and sunset, just enough so everyone could do one. My favorite was watching the kids transfer cotton balls between bowls using vaseline and their noses. The prize for the winning team was cotton candy.

And the hardest one has to have been the cup stacking game. The boys were suppose to build a tower out of plastic cups with cards in between each layer and then pull the cards out until the cups were all stacked inside of each other. Maybe if we used the red plastic cups next time??

In the end, Red ruled the day, but the best part had to be watching the kids get into everything. This was definitely the longest competition, but made for a fun month.


Field Trippin'

Last Friday was Nate's field trip. We got to go see Sleeping Beauty at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater. Despite the fact that it as a "girl play" and Nate was very upset in the weeks leading up to the event, he ended up having a fantastic time.

Now, I could spend this blog post telling you about how much fun it was but how generic would that be? Of course riding on a school bus for the first time is thrilling. And of course a buffet line of pizza, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, salad and a dessert buffet would send a little boy over the moon. So instead of a paragraph or two or details, I'll give you a really humiliating moment of my own.

There were so many volunteers that we each only had 2 kids -- mine were Nate and his friend Connor (so much nicer than the year Ellie was in Kindergarten and I had 7 kids in my group). When we got to the Theater for our matinee the first thing all the kids had to do was use the bathroom. Since I only had two boys to worry about, we made a bee line for the Men's restroom where I walked the boys in and herded them towards the stalls. They then informed me that they just needed to pee and started walking to the urinals. I then thought, "Wow, how come I usually don't have Nate use the urinal?" Then it went to, "They don't normally have urinals in public bathrooms." And then the sudden awareness struck. . .Yes, they do have urinals in public restrooms. IN THE MEN'S ROOM. I AM IN THE BOYS BATHROOM!

I literally just walked right in there like I owned the place. What on earth was I thinking??? The most humilating part was walking back out to all the other BAZILLION mothers (and fathers) who were waiting for the boys in their group to finish using the bathroom. Outside of the men's room. Like normal people.
"Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" The kids were enthralled, the musical was cute and there was definitely some great kid humor. I think the only part that threw me was that Prince Philip was really disappointing. As in the kids weren't the only people who were weirded out when he kissed Sleeping Beauty.