Friday, November 28, 2014

We're All About That Moose...

Every Christmas our family, along with my siblings and their families, gather at my parent's house for food, fellowship and fun.  Several years ago, my mom started a tradition of having us all play bingo together for silly prizes.  Each year the loot gets a little larger and more outrageous.  But one staple we can always count on is the Moose - a candy dispenser (a flick of the tail bring a treat) and grand prize for cover all.  Later, the winner's name is etched onto a plate and fixed to the moose.  However, since my sister moved to Colorado, it has been a few years since we've all been together.  This year her family joined us for Thanksgiving.  The kids really had a great time hanging out and playing together, but it wasn't a turkey that held the spotlight...

So much so...I decided to express it in song by creating a parody of Meghan Trainor's hit "All About That Bass"

Because you know we're all about that moose,
'Bout that moose, no turkey
We're all 'bout that moose, 'bout that moose, no turkey
We're all 'bout that moose, 'bout that moose, no turkey
We're all 'bout that moose, 'bout that moose
Yeah it's pretty clear, we ain't no chess pros
But gram can call it, call it like she's supposed to do
'Cause she's got that spin spin that all of us chase
All the right primes in all the called spaces
We see the wound-up-kids eyein' that pile of loot
We know that stuff ain't great
Come on now, call it out
If you got bingo bingo just raise 'em up
'Cause every card you play may win you
A stuffed Webkin or a top
Yeah, now gramma she told us don't worry about your card
She says, hey I got a lot'a more prizes just hold on tight
You know Grif wants the toy Thor-figure, Olivia candy bars,
Jack, if that's what you're into
Then go ahead put it on
Because you know We're all about that moose,
'Bout that moose, no turkey
We're all 'bout that moose, 'bout that moose, no turkey
We're all 'bout that moose, 'bout that moose, no turkey
We're all 'bout that moose, 'bout that moose
We're bringing moosey back... 

every year.

Steve won a batch of Brian's "apple pie" moonshine.

Hayden tries on his prize for size.
Happy girl
Brian - holds his excitement in.
Jack won a Browning Christmas stocking but decided it made a better hat.
Jack and his booty.

Griffin won -- he'll be taking his prize back to CO., but he'll
be bringing moosey back next year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

There's No Place Like St. Louis

Yesterday while T.V. stations across the planet looped footage of protesters hurling bricks, looting businesses and blowing up cars in historic Ferguson...a St. Louis suburb located just 15 miles from our home -- our T.V.s remained off.  We refused to give those who have chosen to take advantage of a town hurting, our attention. However, our hearts are open and prayers focused on families and business owners forced to wade through the chaos. 

Instead, Steve and I decided it was time to introduce the kids to The Wizard of Oz.  As we sat squashed on the couch together, I waited for them to flinch when the creepy flying monkeys appeared.  As I did, I realized how incredibly unfair it was the scariest thing my kids would experience that evening would be watching a group of soaring mutant primates; while families living across town were devising safety plans for completing every day tasks like buying groceries.

It's not fair.

While I've traveled to Europe and worked in the Caribbean for a spin, I've lived in St. Louis nearly my whole life and have always been proud to call the Gateway to the West -- home.  However, the media's near constant focus on those set on destroying not only tarnishing our city's reputation, it's doing little to nothing to help bring positive change and support to those who need it most.

It's not fair.

I'm a Christian, a wife, a mother, but mostly I'm just an imperfect human -- trying to raise a family in a broken world.  While I'm not sure how to fix some of the problems that lead us to this very dark place, I believe compassion and love are a good place to start.
Recently, I was asked to participate in a grassroots initiative started by a local vlogger, called We are StL.  The purpose being to promote all that is good about St. Louis.

I don't know where to begin. There are so many things to highlight. Whether it's enjoying our unique dishes: toasted ravioli, cracker crust-provel-laden pizzas, gooey butter cakes, Ted Drewe's frozen custard concretes or the numerous educational and cultural experiences available (many of which are free).  Below are links to adventures our family has enjoyed in and around St. Louis. After reading I'm sure you'll agree -- there's no place like St. Louis.

I wish I could click my heels three times and bring us all to a better place of understanding to heal our communities, divided.  We ask for your prayers and support by sharing your favorite things about St. Louis at #WeAreStL or by linking your blog and vlog posts using the linky tool below.

American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog
Audubon Center at Riverlands
Challenger Learning Center
City Museum
Daniel Boone Home & Heritage Center
DesPeres Park Youth Fishing Derby
Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park and Visitor's Center
Doris I. Schnuck Children's Garden

Fair St. Louis
Forest Park Forever Playground
Grant's Farm
Kemp Auto Museum
Laumier Sculpture Park
Magic House 
Mastadon State Historic Site

Missouri Botanical Gardens
Missouri History Museum and History Clubhouse for kids
Museum of Transportation 
National Great Rivers Museum and the Melvin Price Locks and Dam
Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
Purina Farms
and  Blue Grass Festival and Kids' Carnival
St. Louis Art Museum
St. Louis Science Center
St. Louis Zoo and special exhibits - Caribbean Cove  Sea Lion Sound
Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House
World Bird Sanctuary  and  National Trails Day

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tiny Party = Big Fun

There's nothing small about turning 8 (Noah said, "It's life-changing.")...unless you are throwing a tiny party. When I asked Natalie what kind of party she wanted, she said, "tiny." Tiny. I love this girl who knows just how to put my creativity into overdrive.

Since Party City doesn't offer a "tiny" collection, I had my work cut out for me. And, I must admit I felt a little pressure to perform.  Every year I feel her moving just a tiny bit further away from me and I know my mom-made party days are numbered.

Natalie was pretty insistent about making her own invites.  But, I enjoyed watching her work and create special cards for her friends.  Using trading card-size paper, she dipped found objects into paint to create funky textures and designs.  I used Avery address labels to type up the party business info using a tiny 8pt font.  We sealed the invites in several layers of envelopes  -- each one a little bigger than the last.

 Party-goers entered via a tiny door we constructed from a cardboard box. Thank you, Lemke's TV & Appliance!

The party sign came from a prize she won for selling Girl Scout cookies.
Steve fashioned the handle using a piece of ribbon.
As the girls trickled in, we played mini Jenga (from Dollar Tree) and Finger Twister (thanks to Later Gator Crafts templates)

Natalie and I made a tiny party banner by decorating Avery address labels with colored markers.  Next, we folded them in half over a piece of twine and I cut each one into a triangle shape. 
The party hats were actually cake toppers I found in the 75% off section of Michael’s $1 for 12 hats.
We  played "what's in the box". 
Each girl was tasked with guessing what 15 tiny items were in the box. 
Such a simple idea but they loved it!
For crafts we made elf donuts and mini vial necklaces. The donuts were made from Cheerios.  We  rolled them in powdered sugar and frosted them with a bit of Nutella and rainbow sprinkles.  Each girl received an elf-sized Dunkin Donuts box to tote their tiny treat home. Thank you, Pinterest!

For the necklaces, I ordered mini glass vials with cork tops through eBay for about 50 cents a piece.  I brought lots of odds n' ends from my caboodle of craft supplies including sequins, glitter, grass, sea shells and beans painted blue to look like a robin's egg and beach sand (thanks to my FL transplant friend, Michelle).  The craft was simple, fill the container with a bit of stuff then add clear Elmer's glue and voila!

Steve took pictures of each girl sitting on a small chair.  We used a black, plastic tablecloth as a backdrop.  My brother's father-in-law worked his Photoshop magic to make them appear tiny and regal. 
Each girl will receive their tiny photo as a thank you gift.
Thank you, Art!

For dessert, the girls enjoyed mini layered cakes with yellow cake and vanilla buttercream.  I baked the cake in a jelly roll pan and cut out circles using a 1.5" cookie cutter.  To add to the tiny fun, I served the cakes with mini appetizer forks.

To run off some of their sugar rush energy, we played a game I called "seek n'find" relay.  I divided the girls into two teams.  At the opposite end of the room, sat two buckets filled with uncooked rice and half a dozen hidden objects.  Each girl received a slip of paper -- on it was written the name of the object she was to find before running back to tag the next person on her team.  They enjoyed this game so much -- we played it twice!

For being good sports, Natalie handed out little medals. 
I overhead a couple of girls shout, "I'm a winner!"
$1 for a pack of 8 - thanks again, Dollar Tree!
Lastly, I read Thumblelina by Amy Ehrlich. 
For many of the girls, it was the first time they had heard the tale and they were mesmerized by the story.

While the party was tiny, I didn't have to break the bank.  It's turns out BIG fun only requires a little imagination.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Eight is Great!

Eight years ago today our family's life became infused with more pink...more fairy dust and more belly laughs than we could have ever dreamed possible.

Happy 8th Birthday to Natalie the girl who...
* loves female pop or as she calls them "smokin' girl songs" 
* loves to eat spinach and pumpkin flax granola and once told me "please don't put potato chips in my lunch box anymore as they distract me from eating my vegetables"
* loves to spend her free time making up jokes, drawing and writing stories.  She tells me her dream is to become a famous author.
* never met a stuffed animal she didn't like. Her love for all things fuzzy and fluffy is seriously testing our occupancy limit.
* often understands her big brother better than her Dad and I.
* brings joy, laughter and fun everywhere she goes.

Natalie, 7 months
Here is a clip of her singing with her Dad at the age of 2. She had only heard the song once before but as you can see from the clip -- made it all her own.

Whether happy or sleepy - she could be found twirling her hair. 
Natalie, 2 1/2 years
The girl LOVES olives.
Natalie, 4 years

The Butterfly Whisperer
Natalie, 4 1/2 years

She LOVES bugs. She often carries them in her pockets.
Natalie, 5 1/2 years
She's a collector...from fairies and Littlest Pet Shop to buttons and candy wrappers.
Natalie, 6 1/2 years
She's a Brownie...with a passion for sales. 
"Ok, so you like Thin Mints?...Would you like 1 box, 2 boxes or 13?"
Natalie 7 1/2 years
Today I want to freeze her...this age...this time, but I also love watching her grow and mature.  Happy Birthday Natalie!
This morning we sent her on a scavenger hunt.  She found a treasure chest with a stack of $1s. 
We're off to the mall!