Saturday, April 23, 2011

Avatar Birthday

I always have fun planning my kids birthday parties, but I'm glad we only do them every 4 years. That was the tradition in my family and I like it. At 16 there's dating/driving. 12 is priesthood and becoming a young woman. 8 is the big one with baptism. And so we start at 4. (Hopefully my kids aren't still hanging around at 20!)

So this is Ben's year for the big 8-year party. We chose the theme of Avatar: the Last Airbender. Our whole family enjoys watching the cartoon on Netflix. There wasn't a whole lot on the internet for party ideas, but we came up with enough to make for a cool birthday party.

His invitations said: "Are you Game for a Good Time? Then leap, jump or run on over to Ben's 8th Birthday Party!!" I used a tea bag to age the torn edges of paper and then rolled them into a scroll. We drove around to deliver some and the rest he took to school. We invited 11 boys and had 8 of them come to the party. We did it from 4-7 on his birthday (a friday).

My mom was so kind to help me out and made Ben's birthday cake. He requested a carrot cake and she made 3 layers for us. I frosted them. Remind me to use a recipe next time. It was not so great. Way too much powdered sugar, not enough butter. So, it was like the cornstarch water stuff. Runny, but thick at the same time. I tried to make waves but they wouldn't hold up. The Avatar has to master his bending skills: air, water, earth and fire. So the cake was made up of each element. Water = frosting. Earth = chocolate rocks. Fire = sparkler candles. And the Avatar was an air-bender, so he is in the middle. I can't take credit for the idea, I found it on the here and hers looked so much nicer.

I made cake-balls for Ben to take to school for his class. He was so excited about this birthday. He'd been talking about it, to anyone who would listen, for about a month! I took the kids with me on some last minute errands: picking up balloons, candy for the party and ice cream.

At home, Joshua played with the balloons. He was pulling them behind him, but kind of scared to have such a big thing following him, that he started running and getting more scared. I thought it was funny. (Now if he had cried it wouldn't have been so funny!)

We got everything ready and the streamers up just before Ben got home. He was happy to see it decorated and then counted the minutes til his party.

We shaved his head and used washable markers to make an Avatar arrow on his head.

We had it set up so that the boys would do an activity for each of the 4 elements. Some turned out well, the others could have used some tweaking. We started with a fire obstacle course. They were supposed to maneuver around the fires and hold a flame on their hand. We ditched the flame holding. It was too hard with the breeze. I had made tissue paper flames for our water activity. But they kept blowing off the boys hands. When it wasn't their turn, the boys were off playing elsewhere. But they seemed to enjoy it saying of the 4 it was their favorite. Next we did a rock hunt. I had made treasure stones and hidden them around the yard. I had issues with the treasure stones. First, they are made with used coffee grounds. I put off finding some until a few days before the party. I didn't have enough to make a double batch, so I added cocoa powder. It made them very chocolate looking, like cookies more than rocks. But then they blended into the yard really well. The boys found them and broke them open and inside each rock was an Avatar ring.

We were airbenders next. I had two strings stretched between the club house and the garage. On each string was a straw. The boys had to blow up a balloon and, without tying it, we taped them to the straw and raced them to the other side. The boys learned that the bigger balloons didn't go as quick as the smaller ones. And that if it was too small it also went slow. We taught them how to screech their balloons, too.

Then we headed out front with some squirt guns and my tissue paper flames. As water-benders they were supposed to use the water in their guns to "put out" the flames. AKA spray the tissue paper until it fell over! That one was a flop - pun intended. The boys didn't want to take turns (guess I should have bought them all their own guns, but knew it wasn't really "get-wet" weather). And some of the boys couldn't pull the trigger hard enough to get the stream of water to the flame. I had wanted to use real flames on little candles, but the breeze was just enough to keep the fires out.

Reed, Britten, Gabe, Sterling, Marcus, and Matthew

We then opened presents. Ben was thoroughly spoiled. He received one gift from a friend that was above and beyond what I felt was normal. So much of a gift that I wondered if we were supposed to give it back. But, we didn't and Ben was able to buy a new bike! So, yeah, happy birthday Ben!

Then we ate pizza, yum! I just bought a bunch of frozen pizzas. It's yummy and what I could afford. The boys ate their fill and we went straight to the cake and ice cream because some of the boys had to leave early.

Then it was out to the yard for a game of soccer with Ben's new soccer ball. I had to referee! I thought they'd just be able to go out and kick the ball. But, our world is so competitive that all these boys knew was rules and "he's cheating!" Can't you just kick the ball and if it goes in the goal it's a point? No, the boys were worried about "hands" and fouls and practically fighting to tears. I think overall they had a good time, though.

Ben's been waiting for this birthday for another reason. He got to have his first sleepover. I think I'm okay with one at a time. But, not sure how I feel about him sleeping somewhere else. We let him have 2 friends spend the night. They watched "Tron" and ate more pizza and ice cream. Then it was "boys go to sleep" for a few hours and threats at 5 am when they woke up again. But, all in all it was fun. I was completely ready for them to go home the next day and get back to regular life. And I don't have to do another birthday party for 2 years when Joshua turns 4!

Britten, Reed and Ben

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On Saturday, Kannon brought in a load of sand. He just left it in a pile for the kids to play in for a bit. I'm sick of the sand already! I made everyone shake off and undress at the back door. Then I swept the house while the took showers. Painful showers for Josh and Sarah. They spent most of the day in shorts/skirt in the sand. A combination of sunburn, sandburn, and for Joshua a raw bum from diahreah. On Sunday I told them over and over again, "NO sand today!" They didn't listen for long. And I found them all in the sand again. I can't wait for it to be spread out. I don't like having sand all over my floors.

Thought I'd throw on a couple pics of the bathroom the way it looks right now. The paint we used for the tub was white. Pure white. But, it's turned kind of yellow. Must be from the metal. I wonder if one more coat of paint would solve the problem?

Not sure how this video will be for viewing, but we've really enjoyed watching Joshua's responses to music. He dances and bobs his head and claps his hands. He's pretty good at matching the beat. Maybe I've got a musician. This video was taken the day we brought in the tub. We had moved our bed up and out of the way, and Josh and Sarah were dancing on the food storage boxes.

Money Matters and Family time.

So, Kannon was laid off again for a few weeks. We didn't feel too much worry. I think, for me, it's a showing of my faith. I'm trusting the Lord more, that He will take care of us at all times. The day after his lay-off, he got a call from his old company. They let him know that they wanted to hire him in 2-3 weeks. It was only a few days later that he got the call to come in. So, he was off for about a week and a half. Money has been tight. My biggest worry was that we had $900 in medical bills due right then. $500 from Kannon's ER visit in November and $100 for each of the rest of us for a visit to the urgent care in February. We have struggled with the medical stuff. Just the fact that we don't really have a doctor. None of the Fallon doctors are covered by our insurance. The ER is covered, but the doctor who sees you is not. And the Urgent Care in Fernley (30 mins. away) is covered. We could get a doctor in Reno, but that's 60 miles away and doesn't seem like the best idea, but one we're probably going to have to choose. Anyway, I was worried about what to do with those bills and Kannon was anxious to get our bathroom done. He chose to sell his gold coin. We got almost $1300 for it. We were able to pay those bills and have enough to buy our vanity and sink. We had a fun time finding the right stuff. We thought the vanity we wanted was at Home Depot. We had some stuff to return there and stopped in Carson City to do just that. We found the vanity, but weren't quite sure. We weren't impressed with the sinks, so we went to Lowe's to check there. We found the sink top we wanted for $108, but they didn't have any in stock. They were a clearance item (from $220) and they weren't going to get any more, but the store in Reno had 6 of them. So, we drove around to Reno and got our sink top......for $57!!! That was awesome, plus we had a coupon for $5 off. Then we ran across the street to Home Depot and picked up the vanity. We already had the fixtures, from a Lowe's clearance, too. $25 from original price of $99. I bought different handles and knobs for the vanity to match what we have in the bathroom.

Kannon was a busy bee the days he was off. He got up to take care of the kids in the morning and let me sleep in a couple of times. Ben and Kannon made pancakes. . . . . .

Dug out weeds and tilled the garden area. Also mowed down the weed/grasses growing on the side of the house. . . . . .

I loved how Josh got in on the action. It was fun to watch him copy his daddy.

We enjoyed the nicer weather. We were actually a bit cold right here and shortly went in. We went out for ice cream at DQ. Joshua did pretty well with his first ice cream cone.

Back to the bathroom. We had already purchased the wainscoting and trim so we got that put up while Kannon was still off. That was a tough job for us. Kannon doesn't do well with imperfection and, since this was new to us, it was far from perfect. But, it's done and mostly looks pretty nice. The rest of the caulking and touch-ups will leave it looking pretty grand.

Kannon also wire-brushed and painted the claw foot tub that has been sitting on our deck for 4 years. We had a couple (okay 5) of our male friends come over and help move it into the bathroom. It's not hooked up yet because that fixture is not cheap! Hopefully soon. I can't wait to have some relaxing baths there. In a room that I can lock! We can do that now, lock doors. We also bought a new toilet and Kannon got that installed. If you come over to check out the bathroom, Sarah will flush it for you! I think we're all a bit proud of the new bathroom. And it's nice to know that I can lock the doors now that we have 2 toilets.

We didn't get to go to the fundraiser dinner for Ben's school (because of money) but I did make cinnamon rolls for the auction. We, of course, ate our share of them, too.

We enjoyed the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A time to listen to the words of the prophet and other leaders of the church. We watched from the comfort of our .... bed!! We don't get the BYU channel, but we do have the internet, in our room. So, we all piled in there and were able to get something out of most of it! We did go out to my parents house for the last session.

Our computer and President Monson.

And I gave Joshua his first haircut with the clippers. He thought it tickled, but did really well to sit for me. He's now a toddler and not my baby anymore. It's sort of sad. I started thinking about what I'd do when he goes to school and had the (gasp) thought that maybe I'd better have another one. We'll see! Not in the works yet. And not really in my plans yet. I'm just not sure I can do another one. Elder Holland talked about Parenting 505, the class that parents-with-difficult-children take (vs. Parenting 101!). We've had that class 3 times now and you'd think I'd be an expert, right. Well, I'm not an expert and I'm not sure I want to try to be one by having another 505 child.