Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Oak Canyon Nature Center

Every couple of weeks my sister, Kelle comes out for a visit with the kids. Saturday, we took them to Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim. It was only a 25 minute drive and I never even knew it was there.

At the Nature Center, there was a room with simple aquariums with snakes, a bearded lizard and a big frog.  There were books, and displays for the kids to touch and see.  Lots of taxadermied animals, coyote, hawks, owls, skunk, etc.  And did I mention, it was free???  It was great!  We grabbed our trail maps and headed outside.  The kids loved to hold their maps and choose which direction to go.
There were tons of trees and the trails were mostly shaded.  There were some steps, but for the most part, the trails were very easy, and perfect for two little kids to explore!
 What hike would be complete with Ev climbing a tree?
 There was a stream that ran through the hiking trails with wooden bridges to stomp over them.  We threw lots of sticks in the stream and looked for fish, with no success. 
 It was a beautiful day, not too hot and with the shade of the trees, it made the day perfect.
 At the end of the trail, there was a wooden stage which Natalie spotted right away.  She ran to it and immediately started dancing and twirling across it.  That's our Natalie!  She loves to dance and be center stage
Ev took a little more coaxing.  He refused to dance, but did eventurally belt out "Zippity Do Da". 
We headed to the picnic tables for a PB&J and one final bathroom break before the hike was over.  What a fun day!  We'll definately be back!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Everett's 4th Birthday

A week and a half ago we celebrated Ev's 4th birthday.  It was so much fun!  Two of Ev's favorite things are superheros and the game Angry Birds so it seemed only natural to mush them into one party!  I made superhero posters and a cityscape to to in the windows. 
Ev doesn't eat dessert (or much of anything for that matter) so I made an AWESOME cake I knew the rest of us would like.  It's called "Death by Chocolate Cake".  It's a chocolate cake with a brownie layer in the middle, frosted with chocolate and covered with chocolate chips.  It was truly divine.
I made superhero capes for all of the kids to wear.
Ev had been looking forward to opening presents for weeks.  This was the first year where he actually "got it" as to what happens at a birthday party.  He was ready to go!
Papa Rob & Grandma Nettie got him some Spiderman skates.  He loved all of his gifts.
Ev thought his cake looked "awesome" and said "Thank you, thank you, mom!"
He enjoyed every moment of "Happy Birthday" being sung to him.
He blew out the candles in one breath.
After the party was over, the Haring side of the family stayed to go swimming in the pool.  Ev and Natalie jumped into the deep end over and over again.  Where do they get the energy?  After swimming, we brought Ev out the front door to a surprise waiting for him from Mom & Dad.  His first big boy bike.
Aaron had taken him bike shopping the week before when Natalie and I were sick with the flu.  He made daily references to red bikes and helmets and bike stores and bike shopping just so make sure we didn't forget. 
Since Aaron used to work in a bike shop in high school, he knows the ins and outs of bikes and was excited to finally be able to get Ev a bike.  We were in the middle of a terrible heat wave that week.  The day of Ev's birthday party it was 105 degrees.  Misery!  We still braved it outside so he could ride his bike a little.
After a while, we figured he better get his helmet on before he got used to riding without it.  Aaron adjusted the helmet just right.
After Ev got his helmet on, it dawned on me that he reminded me of someone.  I can't put my finger on it, but I'm sure it'll come to me...
Natalie got in on the helmet action.  She thought it was pretty cool to have it on.  She actually did better wearing the helmet than Ev did.
You never forget your first bike.  Aaron and I were so excited to give him that moment.  Here's to many more adventures on your bike!
I had some fabric scraps so I made some Angry Birds pillows.  We were going to play a giant game of Angry Birds in the backyard by stacking up boxes with the pillows in the pigeon holes and chuck a ball at them to try to knock them down.  But like I said, it was 105 that day so no one was interested in going outside. 
Ev had a wonderful day and enjoyed every moment of his 4th birthday.  He passed out, and I got to carry him upstairs and put him to bed.  Sweet dreams, buddy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

So, What Did You Do For Your Birthday?

My birthday this year was so much fun!  I embarked on a little project I called "35 Nice Things For My 35th Birthday".  I wish I could say it was my idea, but since I rarely have an original one, I have to give credit where credit is due.  So for my birthday, I plotted and planned 35 random acts of kindness to be done by the end of my 35th birthday. 

First up was the chocolate chip cookies.  Ev helped me make the HUGEST batch of cookie dough I have ever made.  I actually had to get out the canning pot because I didn't have a big enough bowl.
Everett was excited to help me make the cookie dough.  He loved putting in each ingredient and was eager to ask, "What's next?"  He was not so fond of the sound of the mixer. 

I made sure to save some cookie dough for my mother-in-law so she didn't disown me.

I delivered cookies to 10 families.  The kids did a great job of being sneaky with me.
We would tip toe up to each house quietly, put the cookies on the doorstep then run as fast as we could to the car!  We had so much fun!
Next, we delivered coloring books and crayons to 5 different families.  The kids were a little less excited to help with this one since they wanted to keep the gifts for themselves.  (Notice Ev's pouty face)
And when it came time to part with the Spiderman coloring book, he just lost it.  But, it's a good lesson on service and teaching them they can't have everything.

I delivered groceries with lunch goodies for a family with super cute kids that will be headed back to school.

 Every parking space I stopped at, I dropped some loose change, and not just pennies.  I know how excited my kids get when they find a coin in the parking lot.  Heck, even my 89 year old grandma got a big smile when she found a penny a couple of weeks ago.
Next up, the kids and I headed over to the garden center to pick out some flowers. 
They did a great job helping me pick out which ones they thought looked and smelled the best.  These lovely flowers passed the test!

I made up 5 little pots of flowers for some girlies that I think are just BEAUTIFUL.  The kids helped me deliver them and loved every minute of being super sneaky.
I took my husband lunch at work when he was having a hard day.  I wrote 10 thank you cards to people who made a difference in my life or the lives of my kids.  I straightened a store shelf that was in total disarray.  My last random act of kindness was leaving change in the vending machines.  My kids would have been elated if they found change in the candy machines, so I imagine other kids would be just as excited.
It was an amazing way to spend my birthday.  I know I ended up doing more than 35 nice things, but I quit counting.  It was so much fun, I'm totally doing this again next year!

That night, Aaron had arranged for his parents to watch the kids so we could go out to dinner.  It's been miserably hot for weeks, so we were looking to 'get outta Dodge'.  We headed up to Lake Arrowhead and had dinner at Bin 189 at the Lake Arrowhead Resort.  It was in the 60's, but we were all too excited to sit outside.  We had the entire outside deck to ourselves.  I got to sip hot chocolate in the nice cool air while over looking pine trees and the lake.  Beyond the lake there were huge thunder clouds and an amazing lightning show in the distance.  Nothing could have made it more perfect. 

OK well, my mom sent a huge bag of her homemade hot chocolate mix. 
 NOW it's perfect!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ain't Marriage Grand?

Anniversaries make you reflect on time.  Aaron and I will celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary later this year.  That time has gone by so quickly.  Last Saturday, we celebrated Aaron's Grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary.  They decided they wanted to plan the party by having a family celebration.
 They hired a caterer, set an itenerary complete with a bean bag toss, sling shot competition, sidewalk chalk art competition, pinata and family talent show which everyone was required to participate in.  
Despite being hotter 'n blazes, we had a great time.  The food was wonderful, we had a blast with the games.  Grandpa has always been quite the wood worker and made the sling shots himself. 

He also did the artwork on the bean bag toss game. 

The kids had a great time running freely and being able to snag sodas or a bag drink out of the cooler whenever they wanted. 

For our sidewalk chalk 'art' had to be moved into the garage to avoid anyone getting heat stroke.  Each family was required to submit a drawing.  Aaron had the idea of tracing our kids' outlines.  This was a great idea because our kids attention span for drawing and coloring was about 10 seconds. 
Our 'art' ended up looking much like a CSI crime scene.  The hardest part was keeping the kids from walking across it and erasing what we had done.  I think I had to redraw body parts 2-3 times.
 We each got a medal for our participation.  Natalie quickly picked up any unattended medals and claimed them for herself. 
Grandma and grandpa in turn recieved their own medals for marriage survival.
The kids took turns playing on Uncle Andrew's bongo drums and trying on his Ricky Ricardo props for his portion of the talent show.
Pinatas are always a huge hit with the kids.  Natalie got first crack at it to no avail.  Ev took his best shots too, but the truck was tougher than it looks.  Uncle Chad finally had to do the honors and beat it open on the ground because it came detatched from the string.  The end result was just as well.  Each of the kids brought home a full bag of goodies.
It really was a perfect family celebration!  Aaron's grandparents said they had so much fun they've already started planning their 70th anniversary party.  Boy, I hope so!