Andrew is 12

My oldest nephew turned 12 this last week.  Where has the time gone? He is a fun kid.  Loves sports and the outdoors; books and movies; computers and puzzles. Loves bugging his sisters.  But is so patient with Charlie and Maria.

We celebrated today with a party. I made the cake after seeing all of these on pinterest. It was a good day, but it pretty much always is when we get some cousin time!

Elizabeth & Maria

Reading with Uncle Mike

My Five Year Old Girl

Maria turned 5 on May 18th.  Incredible!   I can’t believe the girl that she has become. She makes us soooo proud.  Right now she is all about figuring out reading and writing.  She loves when we read her chapter books at night. Her favorite is Beezus and Ramona. She loves Charlie dearly, whether she admits it or not, he’s her bestest bud.    She is going to preschool 3 days/week and will continue through the summer.  She starts Kindergarten in September and will go all day, every day.  Something our district is switching to starting next year.  I have no hesitations about her being one of the younger ones in her class.  I completely feel like she is ready!

Maria is also quite the talker. In fact, if she isn’t around, we’re always surprised how much Charlie talks!  She has questions about everything.  Well that isn’t completely true, she has answers for a lot of things too.  Her own made up answers.  She asks a question and then responds with the “answer”.  Sometimes it drives my crazy, but other times it’s cute and other times her answers are down-right funny.

We started the birthday celebration at school on the 17th.  The next day, we all stayed home from work/daycare. I took the kids to the zoo. It was a warm day, so we took swimsuits to play in the sprinklers. We saw a lot of the animals up pretty close. One of the best days I have been there.  After the zoo, we came home so Charlie could nap.  Maria played on her new LeapPad.  Late afternoon, we headed to her friend party at a nearby Community Center.  I think all the kids had a great time!

Saturday morning, both kids were up early, but luckily both went down for naps before the party with the families.  We had an Olivia themed party.  Maria wore a red dress (Olivia’s favorite color) and I ordered a cake from Target that we put some Olivia characters on.  We had a pinata and the weather was beautiful so all the kids got to play outside.

It was a great weekend and we had so much fun celebrating!

Her Friend Birthday Partywith her friends

Opening Presents

with her cousins

pulling the pinata strings (with her “Rapunzel” hair)

Birthday Girl with her Cake

The Dump Truck Party

Charlie is 2!
Party Sign (I designed and then printed at Costco) and now hanging in his bedroom.

Charlie 2nd Birthday Invite

Ready for the Party!
Decorations – I made the flags last year for each of his parties (Maria has a pastel more girly version for her parties). This balloon idea debuted this year after some similar inspiration from pinterest.

Dump Truck!
Of course we had dump trucks to play with! This was his favorite. His Uncle Mike’s from the 1970s — Note to Parents: big metal trucks can be rough on walls and kitchen cabinets!

Dump truck cake
Cake – We also had cupcakes with some dump truck toppers that I forgot to photograph.

Party Favors
Party Favors – Kit Kat’s with special Dump Truck wrappers.

Pin It

Charlie is 2!

I can’t even believe how fast the last 2 years have gone!  Charlie has gone from this baby boy…

Baby Charlie 020

to this little boy!

New Cars!

More pictures here.  Photography in the midst of entertaining is not my strength…

Charlie at 2 loves cars and trains (choo choos). He loves books, especially books about dump trucks. He loves balls and being outside! Blocks are great fun as he figures out how they fit together. It’s fun to watch him as he solves a “problem”.

He loves his sister and his bum-pas and bum-mas (grandparents). He also loves Elmo and Curious George.

He is also independent and pretty fearless. He does not mind being dropped off at the church nursery or the YMCA kidstuff to play for an hour or so. He jumps right into activities that look fun.

He does not like to sit in the shopping cart but prefers to walk when we’re out. His vocabulary is exploding and it is fun to see how he associates different things from memory.

Although he has his “two year old” moments and part of me fears that his two’s will be more terrible than his big sister’s, we still think he’s pretty great! And looking forward to the times ahead and trying new things as our family of 4 gets more and more “mobile” every day!

Off Track

oh my, I have ignored my blog.  But busy is the general theme around here!  And I don’t expect it to slow down any with birthday celebrations, Thanksgiving and holiday preparations!

That being said. Here is the last couple weeks in review.

– My niece Katelyn celebrated her 9th birthday!

– I made her this really cool purse cake.

The Birthday Girl

– We celebrated Halloween. Maria was a butterfly fairy & Charlie was a puppy. (Scrapbook pages posted here)

– We celebrated our 8 year anniversary.  Since we both work downtown, we went out for a nice lunch without worrying about getting a babysitter.

– I hosted a Pampered Chef & Shutterfly HouseParty.  Way fun!

– Maria got another ear infection.

– Charlie going through some weird crabby growth spurt, combined with a cold.

– Charlie started saying “Noooo” a LOT and very clearly.

– Got the yard and porch all ready for winter. (not that we’re really ready for that!)

– Busy busy at work.

Quick Buttercream Frosting

I came across Mel’s Kitchen Cafe blog last week and decided to try this Buttercream frosting recipe for Luke’s birthday cake this weekend.

I doubled the recipe and then added a bit more cream cheese just to use the block and it was great. A double batch frosted one 2-layer round cake and 24 cupcakes with about 1/2 cup to spare.

Star Wars cake – easy! Buy a lego snowtrooper kit. Frost cake. no need to make it smooth, because it’s snow. Silver sugar sprinkled on top. Little laminated sign with a Star Wars font.

Luke's 4th Birthday

Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

adapted from

½ cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
about 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat the softened butter and cream cheese together until it is light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix in fully after each addition. Cream at low speed until well blended and creamy. Pour in the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Andrew’s Turning 10

My oldest nephew Andrew is turning 10 on Friday.  These past 10 years have just flown by.  And over the last 10 birthdays I have made 8 of his birthday cakes, including the cake for the Twins themed party this past weekend.

Andrew's Birthday
The birthday boy and his Twins cake!

Andrew's Birthday - Cousins
Most of the cousins (missing Elizabeth & Charlie)
Maria, Allison, Katelyn, Drew & William

The Twins Cake
Go Twins!

Grandma & Charlie
Love this picture of my mom & Charlie

the pure joy of playing with the older girls!

more pictures here

Maria’s 3rd Birthday

So can’t believe my little girl is 3 already!  She is so not a toddler anymore, but all girl!

Things she loves right now:  helping(!), being outside, games (especially Candyland and Chutes & Ladders), imagining she is Katelyn (Charlie is Simba, I am Alice and Daddy is “Grumpy Old Troll”), Minnie Mouse, Dora, butterflies, writing and spelling, the park, the mall, swimming lessons, playing with friends and spending time with Mommy, Daddy & Charlie.

We had a big party for Maria last weekend with all her cousins and friend Lilah (plus a bunch of adults – family and friends)  Good time! We had a purple Minnie Mouse cake and played pin the nose on Minnie Mouse.  Plus just a lot of running and playing with cousins.

On Maria’s actual birthday, the whole family went to the Mall of America and Maria got to go on a lot of rides!  We also planted flowers and played outside a little.  The day after Maria’s birthday we celebrated at a park with her friends Gracey & Annabel (Annabel turned 2 on Thursday) so we had cupcakes with them (and some other kids who came over when the cake came out!)

It was a good week!

Maria's 3rd Birthday Party
party with all the cousins!

Singing Happy Birthday
purple Minnie Mouse cake!

Maria's 3rd Birthday Party
Grandma and Charlie

Her Birthday Morning
a Singing Dora card!

Nickelodeon Universe
rides at Nickelodeon Universe!

More pictures!

Wrapping Up

This has been my last week of maternity leave and it has been crazy crazy busy! So Busy that I’m just downloading pictures from my camera to computer from Maria’s party last Saturday!   So a recap of the week – pictures to follow later…

Saturday – a great day for a birthday party!  Minnie Mouse cake and a Stick the Nose on Minnie game!  Guest list included all Maria’s cousins plus a few friends.  Both sets of grandparents and her great-aunt Marilyn who flew in from Chicago for the event!  Yay!

Sunday – hanging out with grandparents and Aunt Marilyn – playing with toys.  showing us that she knows how to write her name on her new chalkboard (we had no idea!) and then trying to write Charlie’s!  a walk to the park where we unsuccessfully tried to fly her kite, and by we, I mean Chad & I, because she got distracted by swings.

Monday – Charlie and I ran errands.

Tuesday – Maria’s birthday!  We opened presents and then went to the gas station for donuts (because that’s where she wanted to go for donuts).  Then off to the Mall of America to get her free Nickelodeon Universe wristband.  She went on a bunch of rides. Unfortunately her cousin got sick and wasn’t able to join us, but Maria still had a blast with good old Mom & Dad!

Wednesday – The errand day from H-E-….  Maria’s first dentist appointment which wasn’t great.  even though it is a pediatric office, they managed to scare her with pictures of teeth with holes in it, and by lecturing her about sucking her thumb  (this girl LOVES her thumb).  They also talked to me like she wasn’t in the room… sure that would work with Charlie, but nothing gets by Maria. Then she had to wait 20 min between getting her teeth cleaned (after being lectured) and seeing the actual dentist. Ummm… not a good idea when you’ve just scolded a 3 year old.  Apparently they haven’t worked with smart 3 year olds before?   Needless to say we won’t go back there and already have several recommendations for next time.  Charlie had his last chiropractor appointment after that.   Then we stopped at the mall to pick up a Minnie doll in attempt to lure Maria’s lovey (thumb-sucking companion) away.  Next we came home but immediately had to go back out to buy new locks for our new front door which was installed while we were out.  Next Maria’s 3 year wellness appt – which went great! Love our pediatrician.  Then we met up with friends to celebrate Maria and Annabel’s birthday at the park.  Busy Busy Busy!

Thursday – Charlie and I stayed home. We did run out for formula and a few things in the afternoon, before picking Maria up from daycare.  Maria and I also finally got to play with some birthday presents including Candyland (the Dora version) and Uno Moo.

Friday – We went to the YMCA in the morning. Maria cried in KidStuff while I had a short workout.  Then we headed to Hudson to visit Sarah & Lilah.  Took us longer than planned to get there, because of fussy baby, road construction and unplanned potty stops…  coming home we had the same obstacles! 🙂

This weekend – I hope to get the house somewhat cleaned up and maybe some meals planned.  Although next week, I start back on the bench (meaning I get paid, but don’t have a contract or client to go to) – definitely not a bad way to ease back into things.

Weekend Pictures

Here are some pictures from last weekend. We celebrated Lilah’s 2nd birthday (what a difference a year makes!)

Lilah's 2nd Birthday

she doesn’t look excited, but she was excited there were birthday hats!

Lilah's 2nd Birthday

Lilah with her mommy

Lilah's 2nd Birthday

Lilah,  her mommy and her cousin Nolan

Lilah's 2nd Birthday

Sweet Birthday Girl!

Lilah's 2nd Birthday

Blowing out the candles – she wasn’t scared of our singing anymore.

Super Big Sister?

Post Party – I think she kind of looks like a roller derby girl here…

Super Big Sister?