We love birthdays at our house!  For Ellie's birthday we decorated her door:
Oh wait, it was really cute, but before I could get a picture of it, she came busting out.

Donuts for breakfast and a lunch party at school.  I brought brownies and hats for everyone at the lunch table.  Apparently Ellie was too cool for the hat.  I tried to explain that it was mock nerdy and mock nerdy is super cool.  Everyone else got it.

Then we went to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner (after Dustin bought a new car -- I guess it should be Ellie's when she turns 16??). Ellie noticed that the kid's menu is for kids 10 and under. 
We ordered way too many desserts, and the kids were all full so I think Dustin and I each ate 2 butter cakes.   

Ellie at ELEVEN!

Favorite Color: Pink, green, turquoise, yellow and purple

Favorite Number: 2 and 101

Favorite Drink: Root Beer and Shirley Temples

Favorite Food: Dessert

Favorite Game: Clue

Favorite Animal: Koalas, Penguins, Pandas and Giraffes

Favorite TV Show: Good Luck Charlie

I feel sad when: I have to do a report

I feel mad when: Luke is being mean

I like it when my friends: tell jokes

I like it when I: am happy

I wish I could: have a million dollars

Who is your best friend? Everyone that was at my birthday party and Kyla, because she had to miss

Why? Because they are funny and nice

What makes you laugh? Funny baby videos

What is your favorite movie? Monte Carlo

What are you most afraid of? Burglars and murderers

What is your favorite song? Anything by Taylor Swift and One Direction

What is your favorite activity? Swimming and taking showers (this might be because she's in a cast at the moment)

What do you want to be when you grow up? A Primary Teacher

What three things are you are good at? Art, playing with Luke and smiling

What is the best thing about being eleven? One year away from Young Women

What makes you special? My sense of humor


I scream, you scream. . .

For Ellie's 11th birthday I threw her a little ice cream party.  Ellie is possibly the most adorable child in the world to throw a party for.  She honestly doesn't ask for anything and she gives the best compliments.  When she saw everything set up the night before she just covered her mouth and said, "I'm so excited Mom!"

When people ask her what she wants, she always says she doesn't know and she is more than thrilled with whatever she gets. She even lets her little siblings in on the fun.

I had so much fun shopping for this party.  I actually bought the little cups around Valentine's Day just hoping for a reason to use them.  Then my uber-talented sister made all the printables -- the banner, the food tags, the birthday sign. . . And I found Jones soda at Costco in red and blue to match!

 My girlfriend just started up a cookie business and made some cookies for the theme.

We had a photo booth complete with props (courtesy once again of my AH-MAZING sister)

And made these ice cream cone headband hats (thank you pinterest).    They were fun for awhile but I think I burnt myself at least a dozen times hot gluing the rosettes together.

Then off they went to eat some pizza and drink lots and lots of soda.

I made them eat outside to save myself from the loud chattering and shrieks.  Girls are fun, but I think they have more fun when you leave them alone.

We also played one of those games where you have to match up names with your partner and then sit on their lap.  I think they loved that best.

Followed by singing to the birthday girl and digging into the ice cream bar.

 Ellie made the little tissue pop ice cream decoration.  She is the BEST!

And then a little glow in the dark hide-and-go-seek to finish the night off.

Ellie really does have the cutest friends and I am always happy to have them over. Happy Birthday Ellie!!


A little dramatic interlude. . .

To make up for my shocking lack of cultural experiences lately, fate handed me 3 days of plays.

My first play was with Sadie's Kindergarten class on a Tuesday.  I'm assuming every school has the same abundance of parent volunteers and every mom feels like it's Christmas morning when they get the e-mail saying they've been picked to chaperone. Too say I was giddy would be an understatement.

I don't know who was more excited though -- Sadie or me.  I am trying to enjoy my last few years of my kids thinking that I am a superhero.
My group was very sweet and extremely funny.  That one little boy had the most enormous lunch I have ever seen.  So large that I had to write it all down.  He had a sandwich, a fruit leather, gogurt, a protein bar, goldfish, gummi worms, snow caps, an apple and a juice box.  And  And it was only 10:30!  I actually had been wondering what I should pack myself for lunch when I realized that we were eating that early and I would in fact not be hungry.

We saw "Recipe for Disaster."  Sadie was enthralled.  It was a goofy little play with many mishaps and much misfortune.  While all the kids laughed at the physical humor, Sadie looked slightly concerned.  My favorite line was something to the effect of, "The magic ingredient that makes everything taste better is love?  I always thought it was butter."
Side story: Before Sadie's Christmas party I was talking in the hall with a mom whose son, Marcus, was in Ellie's kindergarten class. Marcus had a huge crush on Ellie back then.  So we're catching up as we realize we both have kids in the same Kindergarten class again. She shows me who her son is and I point Sadie.  She replies, "I should have known!  It's always a Rogers girl!"  Turns out Jaxon has a crush on Sadie.  Sadie of course loves it.

The next night had been planned for over 6 months -- Beauty and the Beast.  My girlfriend Maggie purchased tickets for a huge group of us to go see it together with our daughters.
Oh how I love my girls.  I am such a lucky mom.  They are such fun ages right now.  Ellie picked out all of our outfits and jewelry so we would somewhat coordinate.

Before the play we met up with 5 other moms and their daughters who could make it for a very early dinner complete with a hilarious waiter and Shirley Temples with cherries on top.
We may have spent too much time ordering because we were pushing it to make it to the musical on time.  Maggie had brought red roses for all the girls sitting with us.
The night was magical despite Gaston's lack of muscles, the slightly Vegas style costuming at times and not getting home until close to 11 pm on a school night.  I kept looking over at my gorgeous girls and thinking how lucky I am.  Sadie was a little scared of the wolves and kept climbing up into my lap, but other than that they were both angels for the whole evening.

Thursday night Dustin and I met up for dinner with friends before the third play.  As we scootched into the booth I felt giddy -- like I had ditched school or something being out with friends on a school night.  Then we proceeded on to watch one of my Young Women in her high school production of Singing in the Rain.  I was surprised at how many of the kids had never seen the musical and how vowed to introduce mine sometime well before High School.


Conference Traditions

General Conference may just be my favorite weekends of the year.  It's a time to just soak in the Spirit and I always walk away wanting to be a better mother, wife, friend, follower of Christ.

This Spring session was probably one of my favorite sessions ever.  I honestly was in love with each talk more than the next. It's like when you read a good book and you just want to share it with everyone.  I want to have a Conference book club!

When I was young I was not the biggest fan of General Conference.  Probably because it meant getting dressed up and driving to the Church to sit for hours on end at whatever odd time General Conference was going to be broadcasted in Korea/Austria.  But I'm not sure my kids appreciate it as much as I do either and they get to eat candy, wear pajamas and fill out awesome coloring packets.

One things that my kids do love about Conference is all the traditions surrounding it.  Saturday night, while the men are off at Priesthood, we have a Priesthood-less Pizza Picnic at the Park.  This year out numbers were few, which meant for a rather relaxing evening.

The little kids played in the sand, the big girls did their thing and the big boys played football while the moms chatted.

Then sleepovers with the Ashtons and Simpsons until we meet up for Conference Brunch in between sessions on Sunday.  Brunch always turns into watching the afternoon session together. . . . and then it' always dinner time.  So now we just plan on dinner together as well.  This year we watched the highly anticipated Granite Flats in between. 
Something exciting must have been going on when I took this picture.  Not sure the show was as good as I was hoping, but we love BYU and my kids were excited that I said we would turn on the TV on a SUNDAY to watch it, so we're going to stick it out for a few more episodes.


The Break

One Wednesday, not too long ago, I was telling Dustin how super excited I was because the next day I had nothing scheduled for Luke's preschool time.  No grocery shopping to be done.  No dry cleaning or project supplies to pick up.  No classroom volunteering or Art Masterpiece supply stuffing.  No visiting teaching or doctor's appointments.  No kids to watch or library books to return.  The house was even clean and I was all caught up on laundry.  I was seriously giddy at the thought of having absolutely nothing to do.

Dustin was equally excited and told me not to do anything.  So I made big plans to take nap.  Not one of those 10 minute power naps to get you through the day, but one of those "I woke up at 4 am and I am already ready for the day to be over" kind of naps. 

About 5 minutes after laying down, my cell phone starts to ring.  I silently yell at myself for forgetting to turn the sound off, ignore the call and tried to fall back asleep.  Then the little voicemail notification dings at me.  If I weren't so tired I would get up and turn it to silent but I'm  Next my home phone starts ringing.  I realize someone is pretty serious about getting in touch with me.

I get up and check the caller ID.  And then I realized it was the nurse's office.  The worst number to ever appear on any mother's caller ID.  The voicemail sounds something like this, "Hiiiiii, this is Linda from the Nurse's office at school.  I've got Ellie in here.  She hurt her wrist in PE and we've iced it and she says it still hurts pretty bad, so you might want to come down and check it out."

I'm pretty mad at this point, and groggy from just having fallen asleep.  I'm just sure Ellie is faking an injury to get out of school.  But since I don't want to get turned into CPS I hussle on down to school, march into the Nurse's office and then I see the arm.  It's black and blue and swollen and it does.not.look.good.  If I had left the voicemail message it would have sounded something like this, "OHMYGOSHPLEASEDONOTSUETHESCHOOL!  I'm not even going to pretend like I can fix this arm."  But I guess that's why I never wanted to be a nurse.  I'm not so great at staying calm when broken bones or bodily fluids are involved. 
Off we go to Urgent Care.  Ellie was such a trooper.  Despite having a broken arm, she is smiling and trying to laugh even though she wanted to cry.  I am always amazed at how brave and tough she can be.  And to top off what an amazingly perfect kid she is, we managed to be out of the Urgent Care and get her an Orange Julius picked up before I even had to pick Luke up from preschool. 

We spent the rest of the day making strawberry jam and watching The Odd Life of Timothy Green (I loved that movie, why did no one force me to see that sooner??).  Plus the crying.  When we finally got home it all came out.  "I'm going to have  cast for my birthday!"  "How will I take AIMS?" (This is actually a little more difficult than I thought, but thankfully the school has been great on checking into accommodations) "I can't shower!!!!!!"  I assured her that she would make it through and the sun would indeed shine after the storm. And then I did her homework for a week since it just so happened to be her right arm.
On top of that -- my visiting teacher brought over a gift for her.  Our neighbors brought treats.  Friends brought ice cream and her Primary teacher called.  It was so sweet to see everyone shower her with love.  Only 3 more weeks in the cast.  We can't wait!!


Fool's Cafe

My kids loooove April Fool's Day (don't all kids??).  I shot myself in the foot six years ago when I first started my "food that looks like other food" tradition -- even before pinterest existed -- because I am officially out of fun things to do.

I did manage to come up with a new breakfast prank -- thanks to pinterest -- and I froze their milk, cereal and spoon in a bowl overnight. 
 Sadie demonstrates her super strength as she tries to get her spoon out.  And Luke, whose cereal sat out for awhile, decided to eat his like a cereal popsicle.  Apparently he likes his food that way.

For dinner I've decided we're starting a new tradition that is easier to continue -- The Fool's Cafe.  I'm sure everyone has been to a youth activity or had a family dinner like this before, but basically you create a menu where the food, drinks and utensils all have another wacky name and the family orders from that.  It's a great way to trick your family into eating leftovers.
Here is Luke eating his entree order of: What's Up Doc?, Once You Pop the Fun Don't Stop and the Fruits of Johnny's Labors with his dinglehopper.

My menu had about 25 items on it and I had everyone order 3-4 items per course for a 3 course meal.  Nate actually freaked out at first because he was sure I was going to feed them disgusting things like brains.  I tried to explain that all the food was edible and delicious and the only item he should stay away from I had appropriately named:THIS HAS CHEESE as a warning for him *not* to order it.  Dustin turned his order in and asked me if he had any sort of protein.  He had to reorder.  And I did feel a little guilty when everyone thought they were getting ice cream and it was just ice.

The kids love love loved it and they're are already excited for next year.

Easter Sunday

This year we tried hard to focus on the Savior during the Easter season. Dustin came up with what may be the best idea I've ever heard of -- instead of getting the kids Easter baskets full of toys and goodies, we took them to Deseret Book and they each picked out a picture of the Jesus Christ for their rooms.

 We still did an Easter egg hunt, because I'm a sucker for traditions, but I sure wish I had made my kids go to bed in matching pajamas.

Saturday night we squeezed in some last minute egg dying, which was relatively calm and uneventful, but there's a picture of it and it needs a place to go.

I continued my tradition of terrible Easter pictures

And then we headed off for Church.  The speakers were really inspiring and Dustin taught the 3rd hour lesson.

For dinner we went to the Bryner's house for a delicious dinner, an adult Easter egg hunt (I did not win -- whomp whomp) put on by our children, and Dustin made us all souffles for dessert.

They were well received.  It was a perfect Easter.  No stress, lots of family time and good food.