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In the past on the girls' birthdays, since you aren't allowed to send cupcakes or cake or anything GOOD to school to celebrate, I have gotten a nice book for the birthday girl, for them to open in class and then for the class to read.

But they are getting older and nowadays, the size and type of book that is age appropriate for the girls, isn't one that could be read in class in story time.

TSo this year we switched it up and for Mallory's bday, I showed up to school with a gift for her class library, from Mallory. 

This required multiple discussions with Mallory to make her understand the concept.....GIVING a gift on HER birthday.  It's un-natural.  :)

I didn't tell her what it was either, I just showed up with it.

It was recess so first she had to show me all her jump rope tricks, and introduce me to every one of her little friends, even the ones I already know and love.




Mariah and her little friends came running up to me too, for hugs and some pictures.


Figured since I was taking pics of her friends and her, I might as well get one of her wild and wacky hairdo that I was late to work creating that morning:



Mallory's fabulous teacher made a real big deal out of the gift....and again had to explain it to the class a few times so we were all on the same page about Mallory GIVING a gift on HER birthday. 

I had heard through the grapevine that there are a couple Llama Llama books in the class library, so I got them one they didn't of my favorites:


They were all so excited, it was so cute. 

Then I got to read it to them (that was my favorite part):


Can you see Mallory's face in that picture???  She was SO thrilled and proud to have me reading to the class.


Super fun.

If I had more patience and knowledge, I would have loved to be a teacher.  But as it is, I just help when I can and it makes me happy.

lots of talent

M&M both performed in the school talent show this year.


Arissa was all set to enter also, but due to circumstances beyond her control, her group fell apart at the very last second. 

I felt so bad for her. 

She was a trooper though, and still came to support her sisters of course.  Turned out a friend of hers was in charge of lighting and had Arissa help her with that, so she was happy.

For Mariah's dance, there's a line that goes "I'm no beauty queen, I'm just beautiful me" so I thought they could go with the a beauty queen theme.  I envisioned beauty pageant sashes, which are silk, and I was wondering how I could find silk that wouldn't slouch and that would look right.  Then I learned that they SELL rolls of silk so all I had to do was cut and sew.  The girls provided their own tiaras which was a perfect touch, and I did those silk sashes.....personalized with their names:




How cute are theyyyyy!

Mallory's group did "mean" by Taylor Swift......we didn't want to emphasize the "mean" part any more than necessary, so we took the fact that it's a Taylor Swift song and did a country theme.  I got three of these cute cowgirl hats from the Children's Place:

Other than that the girls couldn't really coordinate clothing,, so I was stressing out because it was a performance.... "we MUST coordinate!".  :) 

But whatever they happened to throw on coordinated better than anything we could have planned and they looked perfect.


There were all these specific rules about how long the songs could be, what kind of songs they could use, blah blah blah.  And we are good people, we follow rules.

So Jesse set about editing each of the songs (a total of 3, because up until the 5 minutes before try-outs, we thought Arissa was going to be in it).  He had to shorten them down to 2 minutes exactly....which meant cutting out verses, choruses, blending the cuts together, speeding up the timing, etc.  It was a lot of work.

Then, the rule was if you're doing a "singing" performance (like Mallory's group) as opposed to a dance performance, your song had to be the acapella version.  You could not simply sing ALONG, it had to be just you and the music.  We found an acapella version, but the song still needed to be cut because it had to be 2 minutes long.  And it's nearly impossible to cut and paste together a song like that without the words to guide you, then on top of that to teach the girls a "remixed" version and expect them to get it right without words to sing along to......not gonna work.

So Jesse mixed an acapella version with PARTS of the original, so that there would be words thrown in randomly so the girls could still follow along.

For instance, the song goes

"You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me
You, have knocked me off my feet again
Got me feeling like I'm nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard
Calling me out when I'm wounded
You, picking on the weaker man"

So we took out all the words except a "You" at the beginning of the phrase here and there so the girls could follow along.  It worked out and they did perfectly.

True or False:  All the other groups followed the rules too and nearly killed themselves trying to make it work.

Of course not.

It's ok though.

Just to make things MORE hectic for us, I also brought balloons for each of the girls in the groups (plus Arissa) so I had to keep track of 8 mylar balloons, keep them un-tangled to hand out at the end.  One guy came up to me and thought we were selling them.  Which gave me an idea for next year....


I got these really neat books of amazon a few weeks ago, and I just love them.  I don't know yet if they're for me or for the girls, but I love having them and they're so pretty I didn't even tuck them away on the bookshelf yet...they're on m dresser and they make me happy.


They're just the classic stories, but with a special edition cover that is printed and embossed from embroidery:


Hard to tell in the picture, but it looks very realistic in person.  And it's embossed, so it plumps up where the "stitching" is.

The thing that really sold me on them was that even the inside looks like the back of embroidery (except a lot neater than MY embroidery):



I love them.  Don't even really care if anyone reads them....that's secondary.

I wish I was on vacation again......









super cute!!!

I don't usually buy clothes for the girls from Nordstrom, but I saw this shirt had to have it.

It was in the "little kids" department, so it only went up to size 6x and I didn't want to spend the money on it when I don't even have any size 6 people at home. 

Saw it two more times when I went past the childrens' clothes to get to the cafe for lunch, still thought it was super cute but didn't pick it up.

Finally one day I walked by it and there was only ONE left, and it was a size 6x, the biggest one, so I figured it was meant to be and I snatched it up.  It actually fits Mariah really well, and Mallory too, and it even fits Arissa except it's a little short.  Even so I love it.


We joke about Jesse having t-rex arms, and he loves t-rex jokes, so I couldn't wait to show him &; the girls.  :)

Mallory knew she got to pick anywhere she wanted for us to go out to eat for her birthday dinner.

 These were the places she was debating over:

Taco Bell

Determined not to spend a celebratory birthday dinner in a nasty McDonald's, I did a little coaxing and got her to pick the one actual restaurant out of her choices.


Couldn't, however, coax a smile out of a single one of them, so a nice passerby complete stranger ("Uncle John" as we called him afterward) hopped in the shot and pumped them up:



Jesse & I thought it was hilarious...... the girls were confused and slightly frightened. 

No one was creeped out more than Mariah though:

"is he gone?"


Arissa saved up a bunch of nickles in anticipation of Mallory's birthday dinner, traded them all in for a $5 bill, and used it to pay for rides and games at Fuddruckers for her and her sisters.  So sweet.

Afterwards we went to Nana's for cake & gifts.

I timed it perfectly so we'd be there when the lighting was good and I wouldn't have to use my flash or have funkily-lit photos, but then on our way there we witnessed a kid on a bike get run over and had to stop and try to help and call the police....totally threw my timing all off.  Some people are so selfish.   :(

Lots of love for lambs:


She'd been wanting this Barbie Wedding set since Christmas:



Another couple books from the series named after her:


Nana was our hostess, and Jesse did not get left out:




How she can drink apple juice with chocolate cake is beyond me!!

"The attachment to expectation is a root cause of human suffering."

My second lesson in expectation = suffering "not having expectations = happiness" happened at the Dollar Tree.

I love Dollar Tree, it's WAY better than the .99 store.  But, it's been my experience that if you go into either of those stores looking for something specific, you will not find it most of the time. 

If you are throwing a luau party in June, the Dollar Tree will NOT have tiki torches or grass skirts.  They'll either have random, junky stuff or nothing but Disney Princess stuff from wall to wall and you'll have to go somewhere else and pay a bunch more for stuff you'll never use again. 

BUT if you're throwing a Disney Princess party and you go in there, it'll be luau central with every imagineable luau-themed party supply item you could ever think of. 

HOWEVER, if you go in there assuming they will have nothing good, and figuring that you'll have to spend money on stuff at a real store where stuff costs way more than a dollar, you will find something perfectly suited for what you need......which, best of all, you didn't even know you were looking for.

The hunt for luau stuff happened to me, and then this weekend I was hunting for small/simple birthday gifts for a few friends, and teacher-appreciation gifts for the girls' teachers. 

I passed by the knick-knacks and saw this little guy:


Which looks like just an ugly, tacky, weird statue of an eagle with claws that are disproportionate to his body. 

But what it actually is, to me, is a perfect little gift for the girls' teachers since their school mascot is an eagle.  Obviously if that thing cost $5 or $10, there's no way I would have gotten it....but for $1, it was perfect.

Other things I picked up:


1) Mr. Eagle

2) Cute lil snowglobe, perfect for one of the bday gifts I need because it's for one of Mallory's friends' moms....not necessarily a friend of mine, but her bday is on the day of Mallory's party so I wanted to just give something as a gesture.

3) Pretty boxes to send cheesecake-stuffed strawberries in for the girls' teachers on "yummy treat day" of teacher appreciation week (Mr. Eagle is for "gift day" of teacher appreciation week).

4) Solar-powered dancing flower..I have one and it makes me happy when I see him dancing.  It's for another friend who I haven't worked with in 4 years and wasn't even super close with, but her bday is the same as Mallory's so I always remember it and like to send her something small....again, just as a gesture.

I like gestures.   :)

The girls' gestures to Nana & Grandma for mothers' day were from a pin I saw on Pinterest.

I almost feel bad for the recipients, because I feel like I give potted plants somehow incorporating photos a LOT as gifts.  I know my grandma has a least two or three from me.

If I see a craft involving a clay pot, I must do it.  :)

This is Nana's:


(Arissa's eyes look freaky there on the bottom center, but it's got to be the angle cause they look normal when you see it in person, I swear.)

For Grandma:


I that polka dotted ruffled ribbon.

Used it again for my sister-in-law's:



I was excited to do that one, because most of the pictures were ones I'd taken when we had been babysitting Abigail and I had never shown her.
I printed the pics on regular paper, cut 'em up, painted the pots white, mod-podged the photos on, then mod-podged over them to seal them.  Put some foam squares in, arranged the flowers & stuck 'em in, added moss on top and then glued my pretty ribbon.

Happy Mother's Day!

Birthday season has begun!

Which means spending lots of time on pinterest looking for new party ideas (but then mostly sticking with our tried and true MO).

AND it means the kitchen table looks like this for a month and a half so good luck finding a spot for 5 people to sit down and eat:


Mallory's party theme was lambs.  I found some white chocolate lamb-pops for super cheap online and I thought they'd make cute parting gifts.  But they were in the Easter sections, so they had crosses on them.  Purple crosses on white chocolate, and they kind of stood out.  Which would have been ok, but I wanted to try and find some that were more non-denominational.

The only ones I found were super expensive.

But then I found some lamb-shaped candy molds, and I thought why couldn't I make them myself?

And so I did.

I bought melting chocolate.  I put it in a pot on the stove.  Much too hot, it burned and was a mess.

I read you're supposed to use the double-boiler method, 'cept I don't have a double boiler so then I googled how to make do without (small pot with water, bigger pot with chocolate in it on top).  I boiled those suckers for 45 barely melted at all.

Then I noticed on the package of chocolates it says you can microwave them.


'Cept you have to do it at 50% power, and our microwave was outside for a good 6 months or so, and the screen doesn't work so I had no way of knowing what power it was on.  I messed around with the power setting as much as I could, but it still burned the living daylights out of it. 

So finally I bought a little melting pot, specifically for chocolate (although it could be used for cheese or whatever as well). 

It. worked.  perfectly.


I melted it right up, poured it into the mold, tapped out the air bubbles, put them in the fridge for 10 minutes or so......


And voila:


Ok that one you have to really WANT it to be a lamb in order to tell it's a lamb, but this one is much better:


How cute is he. 

So it worked out perfectly, and within 2 days, I had 30 of those things wrapped up and ready to go:


Not to mention we made chocolate covered appled, pretzels, strawberries, trefoil cookies, and bananas as well.

Little melting pot = best money I've begrudgingly spent in a long while.

My favorite day of Teacher Appreciation Week.............

day four:  flowers.



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