Nate's Birthday

9 years ago on Dustin's birthday, I was so miserable and pregnant. We had moved into our house a week before I was frantically trying to get everything unpacked before my due date in 3 weeks. So instead of a fun and festive first birthday in our house, we ordered Chinese food and ate on the floor in the living room with me wearing my pajamas. This was just foreshadowing what was to come. About every other year poor Dustin's birthday is overshadow by Nate's birthday and Halloween. It seems only fair that Nate take a turn this year.
The day started off well. Dustin picked up donuts for breakfast and I cleverly made it into the number 9. His birthday present was his trip to Utah in September, so other than the present from my parents, he didn't even have anything to open.

Nate asked for exactly two things for his birthday: a sword or a leather jacket. My kids know that the surest way to get something awesome is to ask for just two things -- one thing they're sure to never get and one big ticket item that will seem tame in comparison. For instance, Luke has requested either an iPod or a baby for Christmas. My parents fell for the bait.

About a month before his birthday, Nate actually texted my parents. "Can you get me a leather jacket for my birthday." Only Nate's account comes from Dustin's e-mail address so my parents thought Dustin was making this request. It still sends me into fits of laughter thinking how bewildered my parents were that Dustin, who never asks for anything even after immense amounts of begging and pleading, was suddenly requesting something without even being asked.

So on a beautiful sunny 80 degree day, Nate went off to school in his coveted leather jacket. Everyone at school said his jacket was so smooth. Apparently 3rd graders can appreciate a nice faux leather jacket when they see one.
For lunch he requested Pei Wei and Dustin and I met him for lunch. We even got to see the other children, although only one of them would eat with us.
Dustin had cancelled his church meetings that night and we were all going to go out to eat to celebrate Dustin and Nate's birthday. But after school it all started going down hill. He had piano lessons and suddenly he started not feeling well. And then Sadie started saying she needed a nap. By dinner time Sadie was passed out in bed and Nate didn't want to go out at all.  So the boys got Fat Burger and we ate at home. At 7 pm, Nate decided he DIDN'T want to use his homework pass and so he even did his homework on his birthday while he started to break out in fever.

Luckily it was a quick turn around. He only missed two days of school and by Friday we were all ready for a pizzokie at Oregano's.


Nate at Nine

Favorite Color: blue

Favorite Number: one million

Favorite Drink: Root Beer

Favorite Food: Meatball Soup

Favorite Dessert: Brownies, I mean, anything chocolate

Favorite Game: Minecraft

Favorite Animal: Cheetah

Favorite TV Show: I Didn't Do It

I feel sad when: I get in trouble

I feel mad when: Luke hits me

I like it when my friends: share with me

I like it when I: spend time with family

I wish I could: have my own iPhone 5s

Who is your best friend? Travis and Daven

Why? Because they are nice and I've known them ever since life

What makes you laugh? Luke

What is your favorite movie? Despicable Me 2

What are you most afraid of? Ellie -- she's good at scaring me

What is your favorite song? Kryptonite

What is your favorite activity? Spending time with family

What do you want to be when you grow up? A dad

What three things are you are good at? Minecraft, being sweet, spending time with family

What is the best thing about being nine? Everything

What makes you special? Everything about me, like my handsomeness and my dance moves

* I was getting ready to do Sadie's birthday interview when I realized I missed Nate's.  YIKES!


Dustin's Birthday

Dustin's birthday fell on a Sunday which kind of stunk because he got stuck at the church I was kind enough to wake up at 6 and make him breakfast before he had to leave for church meetings at 6:30.
I tried to make his day of meetings fun but there's only so much you can do. On your birthday in our Ward you get a little coupon in Primary to go get candy from the Bishop's office, so I figured we'd better get a giant bucket of all of his favorite candy to share. I also had the girls in my class decorate his office door. with giant pictures of his face with party hats they decorated.

Without realizing the date, I had volunteered to take my girlfriend's kids for the day since she had just had a baby. This meant I had 7 kids, alone, for church. Sacrament could only be described as rowdy. The kids weren't bad, they were just excited to be sitting with friends and my arms were not long enough to reach the entire length of the bench. Luke also had a massive bloody nose in the middle of the bread and water. I finally made it into my primary class where I told the girls that I had had a loooooong Sacrament Meeting to which one girl replied, "It was only an hour. They're always only an hour. It wasn't any longer than any other Sacrament Meeting."

Things were settling down when Ellie started crying that she didn't feel well and I felt her forehead. I got my girls into Sharing Time and ran Ellie home and got her some medicine before returning back to church to pick up the other 6. Once church was over, I managed to wrangle them all into the car and back home to play while I made 2 dinners and 2 desserts. Dustin finally walked in around 5.
With all the chaos of the day I didn't have time to make his dinner as pretty as I had imagined in my head, and his dessert ended up being still in the pan, but Dustin didn't mind. That's one of the best things about him -- he has no expectations and is happy with whatever comes his way.
After we tucked Ellie into bed we headed over to the Duclos' for a pumpkin carving/launching party which was perfect because then I could pretend like we had an awesome celebration for Dustin's birthday and we also had people with which to share the dessert I could not eat.

There were even some fireworks to celebrate Dustin's birthday (or was it the Red Sox's win).

Then we went home and I ended up throwing up all night. And *that* is how your husband has the lamest birthday ever. Thank you to our friends who saved the birthday from complete and utter failure!


Nate's Party

It's pretty obvious that I was knee deep in Wanda Witch when I planned Nate's birthday party. I couldn't get rhyming clues out of my head, so we went with it.

There were a total of 10 different tasks that they had to complete along their Halloween Scavenger Hunt. We had 12 boys in total and I was completely exhausted by the time it was done. 
 I only let him invite boys that I have known and loved for years, so I didn't mind all the work and mess after it was all over.

Dustin took 6 boys and I took the other 6. I tried to get pictures, but you'll notice they're all blurry and they're all of Nate's team.

And now it’s time for you to get clean
If you’re not sure where, this room is green!
To move on you will have to jump and hop
Until an orange one with a clue, you pop.


 Popping balloons are actually one of my phobias, so it was with much love I suffered through this task.

Get ready to slide, jump and run
This obstacle course will be loads of fun
If on this quest your wish to succeed
Head down the street in order to proceed
Ellie had a fun obstacle course with laser beams, cobwebs,  spiders and she even shot silly string at them through the holes.
Head to the place where a witch makes her brew
You'll have to be brave to find your next clue.
Team members dig deep so each finds their part
Through eyeballs, guts and even toad heart.
 Nate was not thrilled about this one (it's gross tuff like peeled tomatoes in jell-o or olives in apple sauce) but once he got his hands in there it was his favorite part. A lot of boys liked it the most. They each got puzzle pieces that when put together had a clue written in hieroglyphics telling them to go out back for the Mummy Wrap.


You’ll be green with envy over the bolts in my neck.
I may have your clue; why don’t you come check?
Shoot me just once straight on the nose
And if you're that lucky, a clue I'll disclose.

 My sister made the awesome Frankenstein poster and the boy shad to shoot nerf bullets at him.

Some say I'm corny, but I'm also quite sweet.
Getting the next clue will surely be a treat!

Come to the Tyler's and eat till your sick
If your clue's not in the first cup that you pick.

 The Sadies ran this task for me. The boy shad to keep eating cups with candy corns until they found one with a clue on the bottom.

Find the room with "Wicked" on display
Hurry there now, and don't delay!
With eight hairy legs, I have spun.
Find eight of me, & your clue will be won. 

 They had to find 8 spiders I had hidden all over the room.

I’ve got a “bone” to pick with you.
Come dig around and get your next clue.
You’ll have to look deep in the sand
The ones with a paper will give you a hand.
 The boys had to dig for bones in the sand. The hand had their next clue.

Boil, boil, toil, and trouble.
Come get your next clue, on the double!
Out back there’s a pot for bobbing
Get two apples and you won't be sobbing
 I'm not sure why every pose had to be with guns??? This one was another favorite -- bobbing for apples.

When you find your next clue, I hope you’ll grin.
It’s inside a vegetable that can be lit from within.
Check out in the front for what I could be
Then dig around inside and don’t get slimy
(no picture for this one, they were running way too fast for me -- but it was basically digging in pumpkin guts to find the clue)

The ending spot is at something with a point:
It adorns a crone you won't want to disappoint.
She wears it atop her green face with warty nose,
So she's ready to fly whenever the wind blows.
Could your team be the Halloween hunt winner?
Hurry there now, so we can go and eat dinner!
Nate's team won. Hooray! The boys were all sweaty and gross and starving from running around so much. We ate pizza and cake and lots of orange foods. The end.


Wanda and Hilda

Yes, it was once again time for our annual Halloween party. I love throwing it with Rickie and I think we have more fun every year. Our brains work perfectly in sync and I think we've got the planning down to a science.
 Rickie is the size of a little fairy, I promise I'm not a giant
This year we started planning in August so we were super on the ball by the time it rolled around. Of course the day of the party proved to be more chaotic than years passed just to make up for all of our advanced prep.
The day we picked for clue spot hunting ended up being the rainiest day of the year. We were soaked by the time we were done.

This year for our lead in we had fun with a our own version of "Where's Waldo?" and took pictures all over the place or had my sister photoshop us into pictures. My favorite, "Where's Wanda" involved Luke dressed up in a wig.
They're suppose to be us when we were little
One of the teams begged for pranks to make a reappearance and we were happy to oblige. I don't think they can ever go away again. They were so clever this year. Everyone went along with their team names. Scarlet Fever quarantined us. The Candy Cornorners brought by half eaten candy corn treats from our Visiting Teachers. The Green Guerrillas dropped a "bomb" (candy melted in a diaper) on everyone and the Blue Laghouls left fish heads and sand.
The best prank had to be the Yellow Mother Truckers. They took loads of furniture and appliances from a short sale house and "delivered" them to their opponents. Thankfully our house was spared.

 The bribes are always awesome too. Look at our swag from the Red team.
 They came in 2nd place.

 The best part is always watching the teams come in. Their costumes and enthusiasm were the best we've ever seen. People were serious.

 The team with our husbands did not fare so well this year, but they looked killer.

All in all, we had 48 people racing this year. Our biggest group ever. In the end, the Yellow team one and I can't think of a more deserving team. They had a theme song and had even decked out their van.
The Ashtons have come in second for 2 years in a row so they were super excited to finally win the coveted trophy! I am already planning next year. It's a sickness.


Pumpkin Patch

This is where I confess that I don't like Pumpkin Patches. For all my holiday obsession, this is one tradition I do not love.

At the same time, I can't help but be sad that it's my last ever preschool field trip to Mother Nature's Farm. And quite possibly, my last trip there EVER.

 pretending that I totally love sitting on hay even though it's going to give me allergies for a week
 Luke with his best friends
 Sadie and one of her best friends Lexie

Luke, on the other hand, had so much he wouldn't leave.
 He's a crazy kid and he can run pretty fast, so whatever Luke wants. . . Luke gets.


Loyal, Strong and True

For our second week of break we took our children to our very own "motherland" -- BYU. I'm pretty sure my kids are going to grow up and spend obscene amounts of money taking their kids to Disneyland because their parents only ever took them on "crappy vacations to Utah." But here's the thing, we all love it.

This year was the best year yet, although we had to make it short so we didn't get to do everything and see everyone we wanted to.
Thursday we pulled into Provo and met up with the Greatest Aunt of All Time (that should totally be a title and my aunt Kristine would win it) for lunch at Guru's. I think we sat there for 2 hours or so while she doted on my kids and they looked at her adoringly.

Then we all headed up to the Bookstore. It was raining and cold and the lots were crowded, but of course the Best Aunt of All Time works for BYU so she gets smoking parking. I'm embarrassed to admit that we also spent 2 hours here. It took about that long before Sadie could convince me she needed a BYU cheerleader chihuahua.
By this time the kids were all bored and starting to entertain themselves by taking strange photos on my phone, so went back to the hotel. We went swimming grabbed Subway for dinner which we ate in our room at 8 pm when we finally finished playing for the day. Luke fell in love with Nate's reversi-pal and took "Chubby" for his own. I kept telling Nate to let Luke play with it, but he was convinced that eventually I'd let Luke play with it so much that one day I'd think it was his.

Friday morning was "friend and family" day. We took two of my Laurels who are up at BYU out for breakfast. It was so fun to catch up with them and hear how well they are doing. I'm ecstatic that they now love BYU as much as I do.
We had planned on meeting up with my sister to hike the Y, but she hadn't been feeling well (turned out to be a raging case of strep throat -- she's a superhero), so we hiked solo.
The leaves were all changing colors and it was absolutely gorgeous out.
We had to hurry down from the top to meet up with all the Skinners at the Cougar Eat for lunch.

I also needed to run BACK to the bookstore to buy Luke his own reversi-pal. We took over the entire eating area and I told Ellie to go get me brownies when she came back with. . . plain brownies. We could not find mint brownies ANYWHERE. I had not been to The Chocolate either, so no mint brownies was a definite let down.
But the cousins were NOT! 
After lunch we drove up for bowling and dinner with the Hortins. The kids match up perfectly and got along great.

Saturday started off with breakfast at Kneaders and more delicious french toast. The place was packed, so we packed ourselves into a little booth for breakfast. Can you spot "Chubby" the reversi-pal in the photo below?
 Then onto the PARADE with Kristine and Meg (from our Idaho family who is now down at BYU too). Only I needed to go to the bookstore one more time. This time for pom poms and a I picked up an awesome megaphone so we could all hear what Ol' Strep Throat had to say.
Please enjoy lots of parade photos:

Kristine and Meg's mom, Yuki, came down especially to watch all the little ones during the game. Best babysitters ever. Seriously. -- and instead of us paying them, THEY paid us in potatoes and BYU swag. Yuki pushed the kids around on the ottoman at the hotel pretending it was a train for hours and Kristine ordered them anything they wanted to eat for dinner.
Meanwhile, we met up with some of our old college friends to tailgate before the game. Only my sister crushed that beautiful image when she pointed out that picking up burgers from Cubbies and sitting on the grass for a picnic is not tailgating. The kids could not sit still for a picture.
 It was especially fun to see the Soelbergs who we hadn't seen in 12 years. I also ran into my mentor teacher -- who is amazing --  from when I taught school and got to sit and catch up with her for a long time.

Kathleen used her megaphone. We cheered.  We ate cougartails (just not blue ones). Dustin found me MINT brownies. We won. It was the best game ever.

And then we ended the best trip ever, after the best game ever, with the best Aunt ever on the best tradition ever.
I can't wait until we're all together again.