Giving Thanks – 2011

Posted November 30th, 2011 by Sally and filed in Family, Holidays, Party Time

One of the things I love about the way we do holidays around here is that the BIG ones happen for us in the fall.  By the end of November, when we’ve packed up the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, we slide into the holiday season with fewer commitments and more breathing room in our lives.  But, to get to that place of serenity, we have to wade all the way through November – through Noah’s birthday in August, Ava’s in November, Thanksgiving, and our anniversary.  It’s busy, but I always find myself crashing on the couch after every party thinking, “That was so worth it.”  This year, I found myself on the couch after Thanksgiving saying, “That was absolutely our best one yet.”

We were thrilled to have company for Pie Day/Enchilada Night on Wednesday and a big group of friends and family join us for dinner on Thursday.  In order to make it through both events, we needed a hero and a little organization – enter Matt & sticky notes.

Dinner for 20 was served only about 30 minutes late, which ended up being perfect for our guests and the turkey cooking.

We ended up roasting one turkey and frying two.  On Wednesday, when Matt and I were talking about it, I thought maybe the 60-some pounds of turkey we were planning might be a bit overboard.  He explained that one of the fried turkeys was more of an “appetizer turkey.”  We joked that there is probably nothing more grossly American than that idea.  “Hey, here’s this huge fried bird I’m going to eat for a snack and here’s this other huge cooked bird that I’m going to have for dinner.”  ;-)

Anyway, it worked out and we had more than enough food, dishes and chairs to go around when it was time to finally get to the main event of the day.

I love Thanksgiving, and especially Thanksgiving in the military, because it really is a “more the merrier” kind of thing.  With no gifts like other holidays, it’s so easy just to ask others to join you and have a good time.  This was probably our most hodge-podge group of guests so far in Vegas, with folks from Matt’s work, my work, TPS, and Hoffman and Lee Families.  But, the upside to that is that everyone just pitched in and made the day fun.

The kiddos spent nearly 8 hours tearing the playroom to shreds, we got treated to magic tricks from Audrey’s grandpa, and the pie and homebrew supplies both took major hits.

The party broke up at about 10:30pm and by 11:30pm, our house was set completely to rights and Matt and I had our feet up on the coffee table toasting “the best Thanksgiving EVER”!


h/t to Sarah’s dad, Tony Lee, from whose Facebook page I stole several of these photos since I kept forgetting to take pictures all day.  :-)

Over the Rainbow

Posted November 21st, 2011 by Sally and filed in Kiddos, Party Time, Whoozy

This weekend, we invited some friends and family to come over the rainbow with us and celebrate Ava’s fourth birthday.  It’s been quite the extravaganza ever since Thursday, with something new and fun every day to help celebrate.

We kicked off the celebrating with a little birthday fun at Ava’s school.  If the birthday boy or girl brings in a cake mix and some frosting, the kiddos will whip up the cake in the morning and then they get to eat it for snack time in the afternoon.  All mommies and daddies have to do is come witness the fun.

This was the look on her face while her friends sang “Happy Birthday”….

this kid LOVES to have people sing her “Happy Birthday.”

Friday is our day at home (and was my prep day for our big party on Saturday), but we had a fun treat delivered late Thursday night for Ava to play with on Friday.

We imported a 5-year-old from California to come play with us for the birthday fun and it was awesome.  Thanks to the Traynors for letting us borrow your kid!  Ava and Lauren played so nicely together that it made it easy for me to get ready for the party.  After all, this was on my task list for the day….

After we had a pizza party on Friday night, Matt and I tucked all three kiddos into bed and then got the house decorated for Saturday’s party.  We were able to re-use some of the puffs from Noah’s party and hung a few extras.  And, the giant balloons were such a big hit last time, I figured they’d be a perfect fit for a rainbow party also.

Turns out, six 36″ balloons is a lot of balloons and a lot of helium.  They’ll really take off on you in the Albertson’s parking lot on a windy Friday night!

Saturday morning, Ava woke up to fun birthday decorations and grandparents!  We started her celebration with a (now traditional) donut and breakfast casserole breakfast.

Then, after sending the kiddos outside with Grammie & Granddad, Matt and I rolled up our birthday sleeves and got her birthday present all set up for the big reveal.

The bed Matt built for her (and I painted) was pretty much a hit.  Ava said, “It’s just like a hotel!  With boards and everything!”  She’s been sleeping quite soundly in it every night, but it’s amazing how high off the ground she seems now!

After the big gift, it was basically party time.  We got the food set out and the music on and our friends started to join us.  The party started with a craft…sweet sun catchers made by each of the little girls (with a little help).

We had fancy (cut into stars, hearts, & butterflies) PBJ sandwiches, chips, fruit, and veggies for lunch and then did some running around to make room for cake while the sun catchers baked in the oven.

When it was finally time for cake and ice cream, Ava loved (again) to hear “Happy Birthday” and blow out her candle.  And, then, she wanted to see her rainbow birthday cake!

After some more running around to get rid of some of that excess sugar (hooray for nice weather so the kids could be outside!), we got around to opening some birthday gifts.  Ava received such thoughtful presents this year, and it’s clear that her friends know her very well – a fancy tea set, a book with a picture of her on every page, a Tiana doll, a book about everyday princesses, a unicorn backpack (as promised by CrayCray), and a follow-the-directions game – have all been oooh’d and aaaah’d and played with to death already.

Even though the real day isn’t until tomorrow (with another whole day of fun planned with just Daddy & Mommy), I think it’s safe to say that Whoozers has indeed had a very happy birthday.  We love you, big girl!

The Big One

Posted August 28th, 2011 by Sally and filed in Doozy, Firsts, Kiddos, Party Time

(Bear with me…when your baby turns one, you use a TON of pictures to tell the story.)

For the grown-ups, the birthday started Friday night as we did some prep for the party the next day.  Grammie & Grandad were here to help Matt and I get the cake ready.  In spite of a few stressful moments when we weren’t sure we’d be able to get it into a refrigerator, we had a great time letting our creativity run wild.

So, needless to say, yesterday was a momentous day.  Noah slept in until 8am.  Just kidding….he really did sleep until 8am, but obviously this day was HUGE because it was our baby boy’s first birthday.  Since his big sister didn’t hook us up with a chance to really sleep in, I had plenty of time to go get our party balloons filled and pick up some special treats for breakfast…donuts!  When we were all awake, we had a special birthday breakfast of breakfast casserole and donuts.

After that, we spent the morning just hanging around playing with Grammie & Grandad and even practicing some walking.  While he’s nowhere near proficient, Noah has taken about four or five steps at a time on several occasions.  He’s such a fast cruiser he hasn’t had much incentive to get up and walking in open spaces.  Because, really, when you can cuddle up with your big sister on the floor, why would you start walking?

Before we knew it, it was time to toast Noah’s birth and open his first present!

After lunch and during naps, we took advantage of some kid-free time to put some finishing details on the cake and decorations.

And, then, it was time for the main event…a first birthday party! The guest of honor had to be woken from his nap, but was ready to have a great time after a quick costume change and hair combing.

All dressed up in the outfit Matt wore when he turned one.  Thanks, Grama!

With the guests arrived, we set about preparing dinner.  For this party, we served Matt’s awesome In-n-Out replica hamburgers, pasta salad, fruit salad, baked beans, veggies, chips, salsa, guacamole & Liz’s famous green chiles.  We determined that Noah is definitely a meat-eater…he really tore into that hamburger!

Once everyone was stuffed with dinner, we took a little break and then rolled right into cake and ice cream!  Noah loved having everyone sing “Happy Birthday” and, just like his sister before him, reached right for the candle’s flame.  He wasn’t a very messy cake eater but sure gobbled it up.  After a while, though, the sugar finally got to him and he keeled right over. :-)

After cake and ice cream, we got Noah into his new chair to open some presents.  He was surprisingly patient with and adept at the opening procedure.  Maybe his name was a clue, but there was definitely a recurring theme to Doozer’s gifts.  Animals and vehicles!  From a musical circus train, to dump & tow trucks, to a whole jungle full of animals, little dude is set for Little People animals.

Talking on his hammer “phone.”

Of course, opening presents is always more fun when you’ve got an adoring audience ooh-ing and aah-ing over your every rip and shred of the paper!

The big hit of the night was a gift from Grammie & Grandad.  Enjoyed by one-year-olds and 31-year-olds alike, the shiny red plasma car was an instant high-demand item!

Happy Birthday, baby boy.  Wishing you many, many more.  We love you!


Posted August 27th, 2011 by Sally and filed in Doozy, Firsts, Kiddos, Party Time

And, just like that, he turned one.

More from the first birthday party tomorrow….

Visitors from Texas

Posted August 26th, 2011 by Sally and filed in Family, Party Time, Vacation

Before it was back-to-school season, Grama & Grampa came to visit and enjoy our Henderson bar & resort.  When they arrived on Wednesday evening, we headed right to dinner at Claim Jumper. (No food on airplanes means that Grampa is hungry when he gets here!)  It’s so fun that we can do that on a whim now that Noah is eating table food.  After dinner, we headed to the house and then had cocktail hour, at Ava’s request.

We spent part of each of the next four days in the pool.  Ava woke up asking to go every morning and usually went once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Such a little fish!  Of course, we were all too happy to oblige since swimming made it seem like we were all on vacation in a fantastic rental house.

On Saturday morning, we loaded up the van and headed north to Mt. Charleston with plans to hike to Mary Jane Falls.  Matt and I had attempted the hike one other time but, since we were idiots and thought we could push a stroller up the side of a mountain, we didn’t finish.  This time, with better gear and rock solid determination, we made it to the top (after a 1.5 hour climb!).

This being a desert, you never know what you’re going to get when you climb a mountain to see a waterfall.  But, Mary Jane Falls did not disappoint.

Ava loved to touch the cold, cold water and climb over the wet rocks at the bottom.  And, in spite of a massive elevation change and having to help carry a three year old up the side of a mountain, even Grama & Grampa were still happy to be there. ;-)

The way back down was much easier, but we were all tired and hungry.  For some of us, the rumbling in our tummies made it particularly difficult to keep putting one foot in front of the other…you can decide for yourself who those folks might have been.

We treated ourselves to a picnic lunch at a day camp site and then made the drive back home.  You’d have thought we’d be worn out after all of that, but we still had plenty of energy for a swim that evening!

Along with the swimming and the hiking, we also had plenty of time to just play around the house.  We spent lots of time helping Noah walk with the walker and playing on the floor of the playroom.  Noah even got to open some early birthday presents!  Grama made him his own set of Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls and also brought a birthday outfit.  The outfit was Matt’s on his first birthday and fit Noah perfectly!

We tried to get a nice photo of Noah, Matt & Ava all with their dolls made by Grama (Matt’s were from when he was a kid), but this is the best we could do.

When we let the kids loose, things got a little calmer, of course.

Isn’t it nice how he knows how to sit still for a picture?

On the last evening of the visit, Matt made us fajitas for dinner.  So yummy!  Ava got to help Grama with the tortillas.  Not sure that it’s the most efficient way to cook, but I don’t think anyone had any objections.

Thanks for a great visit, Grama & Grampa!  You’re welcome at Henderson Bar & Resort any time!