Monday, September 27, 2010

Shutterbugs & A Princess

Amidst all the home improvements, more parties than we could count(Lauren has attended FOUR parties for friends/classmates since our school year began!), our home being on the market for oh so long now (madness!), soccer & more............we had a party for oh, oodles of friends and we made the(the best) decision( of our lives!) :) to break with tradition for hosting a friend party and outsource it to one of those Ginormous Bouncing Places of Glee ~ and gleeful chaos, bouncing and joy it was!!

I have nothing but fantastic things to say about Pump It Up and as the day turned out to be a bit on the drizzling side, how thankful we are that we planned for an indoors event that left all the kiddos well partied and well......frankly, worn out by the end! ( us parents too!!) But in the best of ways!

Lauren had her heart set on the Glow Package for this soiree and what a treat that turned out to be; turns out it was a fairly new extra and despite most of the children having attended a Pump It Up party before, none had experienced it with glow necklaces, flashing balloons, dimmed light and.......the best part?? A flashing tiara for our Princess! Now that may not sound terribly exciting at first, but Lauren was never an over the top fan of all things Disney Princess and it had been years (if ever?) since she had sported a crown! AND she loved it............and oh yes...I did too! Such fun and gosh, I kinda thought that tiara looked mighty good on her too! I mean, I am her Mama after all and prone to those kind of biases. :)

So for all the Mimis (and friends) who have waited so patiently for these photos, here they are, complete with big smiles and a Scooby-Doo cake. AND, if you don't mind sticking around for a bit after the photos, I am seeking advice from any & all Shutterbugs who might have some camera advice to share as I begin my search for a new and improved model!

O.K. this smile alone made it all worth it..........would do it over & again for her!!
*sigh* Some of these friends are new buddies and some go all the way back to sweet, each & every one! Oh, Tyler had fun too and didn't want to stop for a photograph! :)

Someone was mighty tickled and excited!!

Our regal girl.........
Now then my all take such stunning & crisp photographs and are generous enough to share them on your blogs ~ I would like to upgrade from our current point & shoot digital camera and have been searching for a good fit. A few must haves include:
*Digital stabilizer(we need a good one!): not sure if its our camera or shaky hands from us both, but far too many of our photos turn out a bit fuzzy or just not sharp. Then I can't use them and its so frustrating!! **Also with 2 active kiddos I need to be able to take photos On The Go.....
* I wanna see some mega-pixels cuz I know this will give us clearer, sharper images with more vivid colors! I don't need monster sized pixels, but just enough!
*I need a camera that can function soundly in low lighting conditions....we do have Winter around here ya know! :)
* Easy enough to handle....I don't mind studying & learning and I'm not above reading "Cameras for Dummies." :) BUT if it requires a 3,000 page addendum for optimum handling, its probably not for me!
* This will be my Christmas, Birthday and Anniversary present all rolled into 1 for oh....probably the next 2 years or more! *grin* I don't need overpriced, but I'm not going to freak out if it goes over my budget a bit either.
***So far I like the *Canon Powershot A7101S*
* Canon Powershot SD630*
and the * Nikon D3100*
I would love to hear what you guys would recommend, currently use or love!! I welcome and value your insights!
& thanks for all the mighty sweet birthday wishes sent to our best girl last week!! I read them all to her and my goodness was she delighted!! You guys ARE the best!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mid Autumn Festival...

.....also known as the Moon Festival is a popular
harvest festival celebrated by Chinese, Japanese,
Korean and Vietnamese people, dating back over
3,ooo years to moon worship in China's Shang

Held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the
Chinese calendar, usually around late September
or early October, paralleling the Autumnal
Equinox of the Solar Calender -
when the moon is supposedly its fullest and roundest.

Mooncake (yum!) is the traditional food of the festival and while celebrations and traditions vary, many include carrying brightly lit lanterns, Fire Dragon Dances and the planting of a mid Autumnal tree.

**In Taiwan, since the 1980's barbecuing meat outdoors has become a widespread way to celebrate this holiday.**

So what does all this mean(??) AND keeping it real as we celebrate this significant Chinese holiday for the very first best we can....our way.......

Years ago both Scott and I recognized the importance of blending important aspects of our children's birth countries into our lives and our family's traditions - and it has been nothing less than a pleasure to explore these rich & diverse celebrations and to better understand and embrace these beautiful cultures. We also have witnessed with great interest the evolution of said explorations as each one has changed or been tweaked through a growing child's individual passions, contributions and perspectives. Never static, never quite the same each time or each year, but always uniquely representative of our uniquely blended family.

We also acknowledge that these celebrations will only have meaning to our children & our family if they are personal, manageable, hands-on and approachable. That's not to say we shy away from the more complex issues, heritage threads or customs but rather we intuited (once upon a time) that if it involved untenable expectations, critical expense ( we are after all saving for two trips to two amazing homelands down the road!!) or a sense of celebrating out of duty rather than joy and pride, such cultural pursuits would quickly fade away or defeat the intentions behind each one. And honestly this is true of most of our traditions, including the ones forged all those years ago as a newly married couple, striving to blend 2 distinct sets of experiences and customs ~ striving to keep those we most cherished, while creating new ones ideally suited to

So (again) what does all of this mean?? :) Well, as this is a new one for us (though we have known of it for several years) we started small, with books and a few discussions. We asked both kiddos for their ideas and even little Tyler had a say! Lauren wished to make mooncakes and that's on the agenda for later this week ~ please keep those fingers crossed and please feel free to share any kid friendly Mooncake recipes!! Tyler will love this also, for nothing suits him better than flour covered faces & hands!! We have the aprons ready and Tyler will look smashing in his chef's hat!! :)

Tyler and I have also watched the sweet Sagwa episode celebrating the Moon Festival and though its old and possibly no longer in circulation, it is a fabulous kid friendly way to explore the various legends and folklore surrounding this holiday. We also spent quite a lot of time at the table this morning with our Play-doh, cutting out moon shapes, full & crescent, which quickly morphed into adding plenty of star cut-outs and a slightly off key but enthusiastic rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star! An absolutely delightful way to spend a bit of time celebrating with a 2 year old!

We plan to grill out tonight and were beyond tickled to find that nugget of information on Taiwan's unique way to honor this date. Our little guy is not too big on the meats just yet ( me either ) so we will add our own touch of veggies and corn on the cob grilled just right! Adding a bit of that Autumnal crop harvest seems just right too!!

As the years pass, I suspect this celebration too will change and undergo its own metamorphosis. I can't wait to see what it looks like 3, 4...10 years down the road. It may eventually resemble a well used, tattered but cherished cookbook....some of its pages smudged or dog-eared from use, tiny notes in the margins, a few recipes & dishes long forgotten............. but always the first one we reach for.

And this little guy(??) ( and our best girl too) is/are SO worth the celebration!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eight is GREAT!

Eight IS great! Or at least our first actual day of "8-ness" is. :)

It has been party (and/or party prep) central around these parts. Last week we celebrated Lauren's birthday a bit early with our families and one mighty pleased sweetheart sittin' pretty behind the cake. Today Tyler & I were invited to visit Lauren's classroom, read a couple of stories to her class and share birthday treats. What a delighted Second Grader she was sporting her birthday crown & a big grin as her friends sang and clapped for her. Never a prouder big sister could there have been than our Lauren, who led her baby brother around to each desk and prompted him to give high fives to each classmate. (and never was there a more tearful Tyler when it was time for us to leave ) :(

Today is all about our best girl and rightly so! Tomorrow? An (intimate) LOL party for 23 kiddos at one of those gigantic bouncy places ~ they call it a "Classic Party" but one of my friends fondly calls it chaos! LOL And then?.........probably a tired but elated girl, settling in to being All About 8! And yeah, I think that's pretty great!

So as a twist and since its been done so often for T-man, I thought it might be fun to list some of Lauren's favorites and milestones, sans her height & weight. Suffice to say that she has always been and remains on the tall & slender side!

All About Lauren..................

* Loves music, loves Sort of. But really she would rather grab a hairbrush and lip sync to her favorite tunes, which includes songs from the Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga and Miley you know who. :) Right now she is crazy for her Kidz Bop 18 c.d. which takes all the recent hits and redoes them in a kid friendly way. Gotta love that!

* She's a voracious & strong reader (all about the Magic Tree House chapter books right now), but if pressed she will tell you that her favorite subjects in school are Art & Math. Or.....Math & Art, depending on the day. :)~ She may also mention playing with her pals at recess and writing. She loves to journal and keeps a fuzzy pink notebook near her bed in case inspiration strikes!

* Favorite color is blue or turquoise and she loves cats, dolphins & mac-n-cheese. Her second favorite foods are pickles and fruit roll ups. Go figure. LOL

* Enjoys Sponge Bob Squarepants, the American Girl movies and Scooby Doo, but will almost always choose to head outside to play when she has downtime. Its even better if a neighbor buddy happens by and our girl would stay out all day long if possible.

* Her favorite sports are swimming, roller skating, snowboarding and if Daddy's :) She does enjoy soccer(especially the social part of it!) and the snazzy cleats and uniform, but she excels at individual sports and simply does not give up once her mind is set on mastering a new skill. She runs like the wind too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

* An old soul & a bit of a worrier........hmmm, wonder where she gets that from??? is easily tickled & amused, loves to laugh and does so often!

* Almost always very well behaved. But when she's not? DRAMA!!!!!!! Yup.

*From about age 2 1/2 began taking a keen (arm twisting, foot stomping) interest in selecting her own outfits. (Yes, ladies she did.......dress those wee girls now to your heart's content, just in case your sweet pea follows suit!) :) Has her own sense of style and somehow it always just works!

*Same with decorating her room. I have learned over the years to simply stand back and watch, wait & see..........her schemes and visions might be quirky or not traditional but by golly I almost always end up appreciating the end result. And honestly usually can't wait to see what she creates!

*Artistic ~ drawing is a strength.

* Passionate about animals ~ won't tolerate mistreatment of them. Passionate about science & nature.

* Wants to be a Dolphin & Whale trainer when she grows up. Or? A professional Race Car Driver. *gulp* Or? An ice cream truck driver. *grin* But....but, she did tell her teacher that she wants to own her own ice cream truck so she can be her own boss. That's our girl!!!

*Tremendous big sister ~ over and again amazing us with her patience, joy and love for Tyler!! AND....she's ready for a baby sister too. No NO y'all, our family is happily complete.

* A girly girl, who is not afraid to get dirty and try new things!

*The old saying, "sugar & spice and everything nice" suits her to a T. My sunshine girl.

Happy birthday baby girl!!! We love you oh so much............forever & always!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lazy Hazy Days.....

of summer? Oh no, not so much! Here are snippets of all the little things we did that didn't make it onto the blog in a timely fashion. Honestly there are too many to share and these probably belong in a slideshow ~ but then my Mom couldn't see them and that just won't do!

Here is our summer (sans the moments & events already shared!) in review.......

Our kids at Touch a Truck ~ the firefighters on duty that day were beyond gracious and allowed our 2 munchkins to climb right in and sit for as long as they wished! We were there a looooooooooonnnnnnnnnnggggggggggg time.
Meeting McGruff at the Crime Stoppers breakfast. Tyler was perhaps his biggest fan and followed him endlessly around the banquet hall!
In our town we have lots of "colorful characters".......this is just one and he was perched at the park, crooning a showtune and happily told us his name was "Tattoo". LOL

Oh yes, there was some dress up play this summer too.........who says real men can't wear kitty ears??

Lauren sharing her ideas at Farmers Market. She would like to see pony rides and a petting zoo added to the festivities. Grass roots activism!!

Lotsa day trips..............its easy with these 2 adventurers.

THEN we went Walking With The Dinosaurs. A special night with just our big girl and it was spectacular! Below is the entrance to the stage......... " Roarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"

Special night out calls for a stop at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant AND a big treat for a wee girl! (yeah, she had some help eating it all!) :)

Contemplating water art...........and just cuz she's so pretty.

Met up with a few nefarious critters................

AND of course lots of time spent at the pool ~ Splish Splash!

We were beach bound too.............

with special friends in tow.......

ROAD TRIP to my folks........
Happy Birthday (tomorrow, September 8th) to the best Mom EVER!!!!!! We love you!! Can't wait to see you guys Friday!!!

Cousin bliss and backyard fun!

The mighty Mississippi........Tyler's first time to touch it!

Quiet moments too........keeping in touch with our pen pals.

AND more laughter and silly moments of glee than I could count. We call the below dash, Tyler's victory laps!! He just gets so tickled!

And though he doesn't care to have his picture taken so much anymore, if we promise a photo shoot with his beloved "Elmo camera" afterwards, he's all smiles.

Until next year Summer...............see ya later alligator!