Friday, April 30, 2010

The ABCs of Emma

"Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," Emma called out excitedly, "I can spell E-M-M-A! Do you want me to spell E-M-M-A?"

"Sure, Emma," Joe replied. "Spell E-M-M-A."

"OK, Daddy. It's E ...
M ...
Circle, Line."

As Joe and I exchanged confused looks, big sister Mary Ashley explained, "Emma doesn't know the letter A."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Field of Dreams

The girls and I enjoyed exploring this field of wildflowers during Christian's recent baseball practice.

Mary Ashley led me to this spot, which she called "Maryville."

The theme song from Little House on the Prairie runs through my mind every time I view these photos.

Mary and Half-Pint had so much fun gathering bouquets of wildflowers -- weeds, roots and all!

Emma said these flowers are for her wedding bouquet to her friend Gavin.

"Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair ... ." -- Susan Polis

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Refreshing Spring Lunch

This week I have enjoyed sharing lunch with two special ladies. Monday my cousin Kristi came down for the afternoon. I adored Kristi when she was a little girl and asked God to give me daughters just like her. She has grown into a beautiful, sweet young lady, and it was great to spend an afternoon catching up with her. Plus we got to brainstorm ideas for the baby shower Kristi is throwing for her brother and sister-in-law. I remember when Christopher was born, and I can't believe he will soon be a father. It is a very exciting time for the family, and I'm glad to share in the joy.

Then yesterday my creative friend Missy and her son, Brack, joined Emma and me for lunch. Missy and I make a great team when it comes to planning parties, and we are really excited about our upcoming book club dinner. I can't wait to fill you in on the details of that! We'll be discussing Savannah from Savannah by Denise Hildreth, so pick up a copy of this funny southern book if you would like to join in the fun.

And who wouldn't feel inspired to plan parties when sitting down to a refreshing springtime menu of pineapple-almond cheese spread and crackers, summer turkey salad and zucchini bread? Find the recipes here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Down a Garden Path

The kiss of the sun for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,

One is nearer God's heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.

-- Dorothy Frances Gurney, "Garden Thoughts"

Children of the Garden

Joe and the children indulged me in one of my favorite springtime traditions Sunday -- a family excursion to Jasmine Hill Gardens in Wetumpka. I love strolling through the gardens together and treasure the photographs I snap of the children along the way. This year I got fewer images than usual, but after sitting still for church, a banquet and a preschool program, the children were eager to run. And I certainly couldn't blame them for that. Here are a few of the images I did manage to capture during our walk -- or run -- through the garden.

I look forward to our next stroll through Jasmine Hill Gardens together.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jasmine Hill Blooms

Sunday we made our annual family trip to Jasmine Hill Gardens. I think I photograph the statue above every year, but to me it is the quintessential Jasmine Hill image!

This is the first spring we caught the azaleas in full bloom. The sky was blue, birds were chirping, and there was something beautiful everywhere we looked.

Even overhead there were bountiful blooms to behold.

Scroll down to see Emma in her new heirloom dress. I'll share more of our favorite images tomorrow!

Emma's Heirloom Dress

With a banquet at church, Emma's end-of-year preschool program, and a trip to Jasmine Hill Gardens, Sunday was the perfect day for Emma to wear the heirloom dress I made for her this spring.

This is the Creations by Michie Heirloom Dress 124-L I showed you a preview of before Easter.

In this pink satin batiste A-line dress with pin tucks, lace insertion and tiny bullion roses, little Emma danced through her day.

And right into my heart!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Game On: Carson's Video Game Party

Wii celebrated Carson's 11th birthday Saturday with a video game party. Carson made two requests for the party: (1) He wanted friends from school and church to bring their handheld video game systems to play; and (2) He wanted his guests to stay for a long time. So we cleared our calendar for Saturday afternoon and invited guests to stay and play from 1 to 5.

I think this was the most challenging party theme one of the children has ever suggested for me because I have never been a video game person. Even as a child, if my dad passed out quarters when my sister and brother begged to play Pac-Man, I pocketed the change instead of spending it in the arcade. I sought inspiration for this party from one of my favorite event planners, Donna at Party Wishes, and combed the Internet looking for ideas. In the end I managed to bring the theme together with some fun touches I will share with you.

I decided to make party invitations that looked like handheld games. First, I edited a video game graphic and printed it on card stock. Then Carson and I looked through clip-art images to find an appropriate picture for the game, settling on a vibrant motorcycle scene. I glued the motorcycle scene to the invitation and topped it with a square of vellum printed with party details.

Winning Favors

I hope personalized T-shirts from Vistaprint will help guests remember the day. Christian and Gavin sport their tees in the photo above. Along with an arcade-style logo, our ash gray tees were printed with two lines of text: "Game On" and "Carson's Birthday Party = 04-17-10." I bought my tees for several dollars less apiece than the prices listed just days later on Vistaprint, so check for specials when ordering. I was really pleased with the quality of these t-shirts and have already seen several boys wearing theirs this week.

Colorful water bottles found at Michaels for $1 each were handy during the party and made great party favors. Colorful tags did double duty -- coordinating the bottles with our party theme and giving us a label to sign so we could tell the cups apart.

I didn't get a great picture of the cake, but here you see Carson blowing out the candles on his video game cake. To make this handheld game, I baked two sheet cakes and cut the center out of one. Placed on top of the solid cake, the rectangular opening gave me space to create a video game scene. I topped the opening with a clear sheet of plastic cut from a folder before decorating the top of the cake. This idea could also be used for making a TV or computer screen cake.

Since Carson is a "gamer," I thought trick candles would make blowing out his candles a fun challenge. He must be a birthday expert, though, because he got them all in his first breath.

Black tablecloths covered our tables, and rolls of wrapping paper from Target made colorful runners. A few felt party hats from Hobby Lobby added dots of color, as well.

Apothecary jars filled with Skittles and gumballs offered sweet treats by the handful for party guests.

While hotdogs and bags of chips kept hunger at bay.

Mommy Cheat Codes

Now that I have shared my creative ideas, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't pass on the knowledge of boys I gleaned from this party. From Game On to Game Over, Carson's video game party was certainly an adventure. Here is what I have learned:

1. Four hours is too long a party for a dozen pre-teen boys. After they have exhausted the usual two-hour party actitivities, they will look for new (and more dangerous ways) to make the party more exciting.

2. Even if you are certain that your younger son and his two best friends know they are not allowed to venture into the woods behind your house without permission or parental supervision because you have told them a million times, remind them again.

3. If your younger son and his two best friends do go into the woods and wander far from your property, anticipate that your indoor party will now need bug spray because the rest of the party guests will charge into the woods to find them.

4. When all the boys come back from their forest adventure, have towels and clean clothes ready because nearly all of them will have jumped in a creek with all of their clothes on.

5. Check your medicine cabinet before the party to make sure you have ample first-aid supplies. In cases where little boys get injured attempting feats you warned them not to do, Hello Kitty band-aids will work just fine.

6. Remind the boys not to slam doors because someone could get hurt.

7. When someone's finger gets slammed in a door and looks like it is broken, calmly apply an ice pack without nearly crying yourself.

8. Put protective gear on your daughters during the party, because although you think your dainty girls will be safe, the testosterone will be too much. Unaided, they will trip on the driveway and will run to you with elbows and lips bleeding.

9. If you buy trick candles for the cake, do not tell the boys for fear they will try to relight them and run outside with them to find things to burn.

10. And, most importantly, when you are a Girl and a Mommy and a Protective Parent who feels like crying because the peaceful video game party she planned had more twists and turns, bumps and bruises, and scratches and scrapes than she ever experienced in one day, don't be surprised if after the party ends and everyone survived, parents go out of their way to tell you ...

"Thank you for inviting my son to the party!
He said it was the

Game Over.

I think we won.

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