Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sammy's pirate birthday party

So, three days before my due date with our baby girl, we hosted Sammy's 5th birthday party. I have a way of timing things, don't I? I thought I'd keep it simple...I really did, but it kept growing. It started with ideas from this blogger who created lots of free printables for pirate themed parties. Aren't these cupcate wrappers and tiny pirate ship sails cute? I thought it would be good to have cupcakes instead of a cake since we were having the part at our local playground.

Here they are in all their little pirate ship glory. I caved and used canned frosting because the rest of the decorations took me so much time, but then this morning I ran out of frosting halfway through icing them. My dear friend Brigitte came over and whipped up a batch of incredible homemade chocolate frosting and everyone said they were the best cupcakes ever. She's good...that Brigitte.

When the pirates got to the park, I handed them a treasure map (made from tea-soaked paper which had a map of our park drawn on it) which showed them an obstacle course that they had to run around the park in order to get their treasure. They really liked that part. The girls all wanted to run it together. They are SO at that age.

This is the treasure bag I made for each boy (this was not my best one) out of felt and leather string. When they had run the obstacle course, they received their bag filled with their pirate loot: an eye patch, a gold earring, some chunks of gold (spray-painted rocks) gold chocolate coins, and a few other gold candy things not-pictured here. I was making these stupid bags until about 2 minutes before the party started. They were also supposed to be "easy" but making 25 of anything does take a bit of time.

This is Siah. Just in case you wondered, you should never have a pirate themed birthday without Siah. Look at that hair! Isn't he the cutest pirate ever?

These are some of Sammy's favorite boys: Gabriel, Ganesh, and Siah. They are all a year older than him, but they have accepted him into their little club at school which they call the "boys camp army". He was very happy that the boys camp army was all in attendance.

Jack and Damen are also darn cute little pirates. Here they are sporting their patches and earrings (Damen brought that hat from home).

We played a game where they threw cannons (foil balls) onto the other team's side until Matt yelled "time!" Then we counted to see which team had the most cannons on the other team's side. I'm not sure if the proper winner was ever really determined, but they loved the cannons.

We've never had this many kids at a party. I invited so many people because I assumed that with the holiday weekend lots of people would not be available, but suprisingly they ALL were! So we had 22 kids in attendance and it was a blast.

We played another game where the kids threw water balloons at Matt: the "bad pirate". We blew up about 150 water balloons last night (again...not so easy...what was I thinking???) and of course, that game lasted about 2 minutes because kids can go through water balloons VERY quickly. But it has become a tradition now. You may remember that we threw water balloons at Matt at Sammy's birthday last year! He's a good sport.
Claire with her life-long buddies Josh Handy and Annabel.

Claire and Annabel.

Baby Sammy Handy who our Sammy adores.

The pizza. We got two of these. This picture does not do it justice, but this box is HUGE!

We gave out foam swords from the dollar store. I held off until near the end to pass them out because I knew this would turn the party into a never-ending bloody battle. And it did. But they liked it.

Captain Matt.

The presents were opened.

Look at this one! Hilarious!

It was from Zoe and Dillon. This 2 foot tall remote control dinosaur was inside and it was vicious! Sammy will be terrorizing the family with this forever.

We paused to sing happy birthday and eat the cupcakes near the end. Sammy was shy but liked it at the same time. He loves when people sing Happy Birthday to him. Isn't he funny? He's my best little 5 year old. I love him so much. Even though he did have a massive sugar-high/tiredness breakdown (or 5 of them) after the birthday party was over. I'm glad he had a good time.

And this is the view from my pillow staring at the wall which is where I was 5 minutes after the party. That's the remote to our window air conditioner under the blue pillow. I sleep with that thing in my hand now.
I had so many contractions during the party that I was sure our baby was going to come out right there during the party. But now they have stopped. So... now we wait. We're ready little one! Your big brother has been properly celebrated and there is a scary dinosaur toy waiting to greet you, so you can come anytime now. You might as well. I'm sure by now you know what you're getting into being born into this family. ;)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Mill

Last Sunday we ventured out to one of our favorite little field trip areas: the Graue Mill. To our suprise, the Cowen family was already out there when we arrived. Dixie was dressed in a little praire girl hat for the occasion.

Here they are: the Cowen ladies. The funny part was that I was wearing the same maternity dress that Mary had worn the last time we went to the mill with them, just a few weeks before Dixie was born. The NOT funny part was that the temperature had decided to climb to 99 degrees on Sunday, which I had not expected. I will spare you a picture of a hot sweaty pregnant lady wearing Mary's old dress.

However, I won't spare you this cutey picture of Cecilia, Sammy, and Claire dressed as cute little Civil War time kids. The Graue Mill was a stop on the underground railroad, so they have lots of fun stuff from that time period in the museum.

Look at this little soldier. I can't believe he won't be my youngest anymore in a few DAYS!

Matt did a little dress-up too. This part of the museum was so hot though that we were all eager to get out of costume pretty soon.

The water wheel.

The grist mill.

Claire got to help take the corn off the husk before grinding it.

But the main attraction this day was the sheep. They were having a sheep-sheering demonstration!

The sheep were so compliant while they were sheered. Then again, so would I be if I was wearing a wool coat on a 100 degree day.

We all felt cooler just looking at the sheep without his wool coat.

Then we got to see demonstrations of the rest of the process. This is the wool after it has been carded.

Carded is when you take these two paddle brushes and brush the wool out straight to make it easier to spin into yarn. Then this lady spun it on a drop spindle to make it into yarn.

Then they all got to help the weaver lady weave the wool. Sammy even got into it. Have you read Pelle's New Suit,  by Elsa Beskow? Sam loves that book, and this was like a live demonstration of the story.

At the end of the day, we went home with our usual 5 lb bag of ground corn meal and made corn bread for dinner that night. It was good, but I kinda wanted to eat nothing but ice chips that night because of the heat. This is our first year without central air conditioning. Needless to say, Matt got online and ordered 3 AC units immediately and they came Tuesday...thank goodness. I was a pretty grumpy pregnant lady that night. I'm due a week from yesterday though, so here's to 6 more days! I'm having Sam's 5th birthday party at the park this Saturday though, so, even though I'd love to go into labor early, I need to make it for at least 48 more hours. We'll see!

T-ball 2010

This weekend was the kickoff of t-ball season with the Near West Side Little League. I took the kickoff time to get some stuff done at the house, but Matt took the kids over to the ball park to see the festivities. Before we went, however, they ate some homemade popsicles. I think I'm going to love these things this summer. They are just plastic popsicle molds from Homegoods, but the kids think they are a huge treat and they are just half water half orange juice!

The Jesse White tumblers performed.
Matt says the tumbling was the kids' favorite part.
Then Mayor Daley showed up to throw out the first ball to the girls softball team, I believe. 
And he spoke, along with a few others.
I think they kids (Annabel included) were a little bored for part of the speaking part, but they got to buy hamburgers and stuff while they were there so that made up for it. Any food is more fun when it's bought somewhere away from home! T-ball is going to have to remain Matt's thing this summer, as it was last summer because I think it's too hot and that the practice time is too long, (and I can't imagine taking a baby to it)  but that's okay right? It's okay to give one two-hour thing over to the dad, right? I'll show up at the end for the games I'm sure.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sammy's Rainbow Bridge Day

The stars are watching out for a birth
The little child comes down to earth
His angel leads him both day and night
To fill his heart with love and light
At City Garden, the children't birthdays are celebrated with a little story about the child coming from heaven down to earth across the rainbow bridge. Sammy's birthday was at the end of April, but there are so many April birthdays that we just got around to his "Rainbow Bridge Day" this week.

The child wears a crown and a rainbow cape and sits with his teacher while she tells the story of the child in heaven coming to earth to meet his family. Then he walks across the little silk rainbow bridge to his parents (and sister) who are waiting for him on the other side of the circle. It's very sweet. Sammy took the whole thing very reverantly, (suprisingly) and was very excited to get his presents from the class. Each child in the class colors him a picture and the teacher makes it into a book for the birthday boy. Then she gives him a special doll made just for him. Sammy got a little warrior guy who had a little spear attached to his vest.

Then we have the birthday cake and ice cream. Let me tell you how hard it was for me to sit in one of those tiny kid chairs for a half hour. But it was worth it for the cake.

I just think they make the birthday so special at City Garden. It's simple and sweet and the birthday child really feels so honored. It reminds me that the little traditions and rituals that we do with our kids mean so much more than giving them a giant birthday party and loading them down with 100 gifts.

Here is Sammy's doll. He named him Peter and he sleeps with him most nights now. I love that. Then again, he also stabs us with Peter's tiny sword. Happy late birthday Sammy-Sam. I promise I'll throw you a birthday party at our house one of these days with all your friends. I just can't promise that it will be this year.

Baby second cousins

Remember this cute couple? My cousin Hilary married Mark last summer and they had a beautiful (and fun!) wedding in a vineyard in Michigan.

Well...they've been busy! She and I are due with our baby girls within a week of each other. They also bought and renovated a house in this last year. It's a beautiful place with a great yard in the suburbs of Chicago.

Last week she invited my family out to have dinner at their house and her mom and dad (my Aunt Becky and Uncle Rich) were there as well.
Here we are with our third trimester bellies! My Aunt Becky couldn't get over it.

Neither could I actually. It was really fun to see Hil pregnant because I'm still getting used to the idea of her being married! We love Mark though. He's awesome.

And Carl and Abby were there as well. Carl is Hil's big brother and Abby is his girlfriend. Carl is my closest-in-age cousin and we had a lot of fun in our younger years. Abby was there being cute and skinny of course. We really like Abby as well. She's very fun and nice and she and Carl played with my kids during the evening which makes them the BEST people ever.

Here is the nursery for Mark and Hilary's little girl.

It's a really pretty lavender with dark wood furniture and a beautiful mirror that I'm very jealous of. I want it for over my buffet in the dining room. I didn't take it though. :)

Here is there living room and Claire trying to jump into the picture.
And look at the beautiful bathroom renovation they just finished! It used to be all pink she in a pink tub and toilet and everything. I'm definitely jealous of the rain shower-style shower head.

We had a great time eatting pizzas on the grill and exchanging baby gifts.

They got me a Target gift card which I used immediately on those last few baby things that we hadn't taken care of. When we got home from their house, Matt decided that they were "more prepared" than we were for the arrival of baby, and when I asked him why he thought we weren't prepared, he answered: "well...we don't even have WIPES!" If only having wipes actually prepared you for having a new human being in your home. ;) But, to make him feel better, I did get wipes. Thanks Leng family! We had a great time and we can't wait to meet your baby girl.