Saturday, November 24, 2007


John Muir was a Californian naturalist and conservationist. He has been called "The Father of our National Parks" and there is a national park named after him in northern California. But this entry is about neither. It's about my first knitted lace shawl, the pattern named Muir after the national park above.

This is perhaps the first thing I've knitted that I hope lasts a really long time and I get a lot of use out of. Not necessarily because I love how it turned out, even though I do; but also because I think I will have such great memories associated with it. I brought it everywhere I went and knit it whenever I could during this great time of my life. I'd stay up late cuddled under a blanket in our first house working on it. I'd bring it to Olivia's class meetings and knit during those long hours of getting acquanited with her first school. And of course at the playground while Olivia and Noah played and Olivia learned to do the monkey bars for the first time. And now it's done in perfect time for the nippy California winter days that start cold in the morning but the suns warms up so much by afternoon.

But enough of my rambling, here are a few pictures of it. Even though it looks like the wind would blow right through, it does a great job of holding in heat since it's 100% wool. In fact, I used a J. Crew sweater I found at a thrift store and unraveled for the wool.

And the front. Man, I wished I had put on some lipstick. Oh well, the tomato plants, plum tree, and strawberry patch in the background don't look much better, do they? ;)

Soon after completing this shawl I took the kids to the San Jose Chidren's Discovery Museum and I found a quote by John Muir painted on the wall.
Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe.
I thought that was such a cool quote given I had just knitted something named after him, because it also describes how a knitted item is all connected together, being just one long strand of yarn.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Olivia's birthday tradition

Just like last year, we hit Happy Hallow today, on Olivia's actual birthday. Wah, my baby is 6! But that's another post.

Happy Hollow is such a great place for kids, inexpensive and tons to do. Even though it was a bit chilly today, we had a great time and the kids played well and stayed with me for the most part, and I even got some knitting done. But on to the pictures. I'm holding the best one back though, you'll see it eventually if you are on my Christmas card list. ;)

First I snapped a few pictures before we went in because I knew my camera battery would not last long. The good news though, we ordered our new camera from last night. Yeah!

Then we went to see the animals. First the capybara, you can see it in the background if you have really good eyes. They also have a pretty good variety of animals for such a small zoo, a jaguar, fox, pot belly pig, big turtle, parrots, lemurs and other monkeys of all sorts.

Happy Hollow also has a cute little petty zoo with goats and such. Noah wasn't that interested in feeding them, but Olivia was quite friendly.

The petting zoo is where I got my Christmas card picture from last year. This year's didn't turn out quite as well but cute nonetheless.

We visited the animals for less than an hour, then on to the fun stuff. Rides and multiple playgrounds for the remaining several hours. They do have really cool stuff. I was trying to get the kids to look at me on the spider web by telling them to say "I want to drink your blood!" It kinda worked.

Cats and dogs they are, in more ways than one.

An old fire engine to play on.

And of course the rides. I'm so grateful Olivia is still perfectly happy with what my friend calls the "Mickey Mouse rides." They basically go around in circles and that is about it. Barely a step up from those things that sit outside the grocery store. As long as Olivia got to sit in the fire engine car that had a bell to ring, she was happy. Noah was happy either way, so he got a police car with no noise-making ability.

Overall a very good way to spend Olivia's birthday again this year. Between her party monday, yesterday getting to wear the "birthday crown" at school, and her actualy birthday today, Thanksgiving tomorrow, and maybe the beach friday if it's not too freezing cold, I'd say we go all out in celebration around here. We have a lot to be thankful for. But now I got to get cooking those things to be thankful for to be ready for tomorrow!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The party of the year

After 90 minutes of non-stop bouncing in two rooms and multiple bouncy houses, obstacles courses and slides, we hit the party room, and finally broke out the camera. Better late than never. Here's a brief look at all the party kids, table one...

And table two...

Noah had a great time today. He walked in the first room, kicked his shoes off, and was off never to be seen again. In fact, we almost left him in the first room when we moved to the next he was so independant. But when he was upset, he definately needed his daddy, which is a rare occurance and ego-building for daddy.

But on to the party girl! She got the birthday crown and got to sit in the huge inflatable throne in the party room. She allowed Noah to sit in it to check out her cake. Her cake which she didn't like. Thank goodness for the cupcakes!

But she did a great job blowing out the candles. The candles she picked and put on the cake. Go girl!

Whew, check out the smoke! Great job!

And a sweet picture of her and her friend on the inflatable throne. This is the first little girl we ever met in the school sitting at our table at the BBQ before school even started. I'm couldn't be happier with her kindergarten experience so far, only a few months into it, but a huge milestone!

All the work and money goes into two little hours, but I have to say, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Good food, good cake, good fun, and good friends. Not much more that I want for my little girl!

The loot

The best part of having a big 'ol birthday bash is all the loot. After the party was over the kids came home and started methodically opening and sorting through it all. Cards in one pile, trash in another, reusable gift bags and tissue paper in another. Ok, the gift bag and tissue paper piles were me. But really, check out this score. No Christmas can and will compare to this.

Before opening...

Now we know what it all is, yes!

And the first one opened was the sit-n-play princess activity center. Very cute. The first thing she wanted to make was a card for her friend. Not the friend that gave her this particular gift, but sweet nonetheless.

Fortunately I did ask a lot of people for art supplies, so we now will spend our rainy winter pulling out paints and markers and paper little by little and be able to use up and get rid of this and not have too many little, tiny plastic pieces cluttering up the house. There is a little of that, but just enough to be fun!

I lied

I said my next blog would contain pictures of the kids, but it doesn't. Gotcha! But I am preparing the next one that will, really this time. But before I do, I just had to share a pic of my full fridge. It not only contains 30 frosted cupcakes, a 9x13 cake, and 8 2 liters for Olivia's party, but also everything for Thanksgiving dinner, including a whole turkey somewhere back there. This is a good fridge. Guess where I got it. No, not from craigslist, but you are close! We bought it used from friends from ours. Everything best comes used. ;)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

First Cake

First cake I've ever decorated with colored frosting anyway. I'm pretty happy with it. Here is what I was going for...

Here is how it turned out...

I used a gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting. The cake is mainly for the parents.

For the kids I made cupcakes. Yellow cake mix from a box with homemade chocolate frosting from the recipe on the box of Hersey's cocoa powder. My favorite combination, yum. And to add to the crazy baking and decorating going on this weekend, I decorated the cupcakes with letters. Each kid will get one with the first letter of his or her name. It is a Super Reader party and all.

Last weekend was the favors, this weekend, all this. I hope everyone likes it! The only problem, I still have 18 more cupcakes sitting around uniced and no frosting whatsoever left in the house and I'm pretty burned out to make any more. What to do, what to do.

I promise, promise, promise that some pictures of the kids WILL appear in the very next blog, really. Our camera's ability to hold charge in the battery is slowly decreasing. We will be getting a new one in the near future, we are looking at something like this one.

But for now, I will be getting some rest, tomorrow is the big day, Olivia the Kindergarten's party! I believe the guest count is at least 30 kids that have RSVPed yes. I have goody bags and cake made for at least 40. Seven pizzas are ordered. I have organized rides for 6 kids from school who are usually in after care. I am a super-mom, and who am I kidding? I will not be resting tonight, I will be up late obsessing about bringing extra socks and if the party room will look too bare. In any case, it will all be over this time tomorrow. Wish me, I mean Olivia, luck. ;)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Goody Bag Galore

This weekend was spent getting Olivia's favor bags ready. All 40 of them. Yep, 40, just to be safe. We've invited every kid in her class plus another handful from church and the neighborhood. Fortunately it's not at our house, ha! But on to the favor bags...

Olivia decided she wanted a Super Why birthday party. Which works out perfect being she is in kindergarten and it's a show on PBS all about learning to read. I thought I did a pretty good job going with that theme. How fun the kids will find the bags, I'm not sure, but they are relevant and cheap, it works for me! Here are the completed bags, the front on the left, the back view on the right.

I made a Super Why activity book to go in the bag using stuff I printed off the internet. Free, except the boodles of expensive computer ink involved.

Super Why notebooks, "You have the power... the power to read!" Ok, notebooks are to write in, but it's the show's theme, work with me here.

And all the other miscellaneous stuff. Pencil, sharpener, grip, monkey head eraser, stickers, and of course you must include a semi-unhealthy snack in a favor bag, right?

The best part is the price, each one I put together for less than $1.25. I put all my best bargain hunting skills to the test. And to prove it, I will break it down for you...

Activity Book: Made at home for free!
Notebook: $0.14 (Big Lots, 6 for $0.88)
Pencils: $0.22 (Staples, 24 for $5.29)
Pencil Grips: $0.15 (Staples, 20 for $3)
Monkey Eraser: $0.10 (Staples, 10 for $1)
Alphabet Stickers: $0.07 (Staples, 30 for $2)
Star Stickers: $0.03 (Dollar Store, huge booklet for $1)
Pencil Sharpener: $0.09 (Dollar Store, 12 for $1)
Semi-unhealthy snack: $0.21 (Smart & Final, 48 for $10)
Clear bag to put it all in: $.10 (Michaels 20 for $2.13 with coupon)

Which all adds up to $1.11, plus some tax, all under $1.25 easily. A little extra for those things I needed to buy 48 of, etc. Still a great job considering I would have paid $3 a bag if I had bought them from Pump It Up! which is where she is having her party a week from tomorrow!

I think it will be well worth it to see that many kids bouncing their hearts out then stuffing their faces with pizza and cake, which I plan to make myself as well. All worth it for my little kindergartner baby girl turning 6! Wow!

Stay tuned for pictures of the big event... ;)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sunflowers for Thanksgiving

I got on a bit of a late gardening kick this year. I planted some sunflowers even later. I wanted to clear a really nice patch halfway back our side fence to plant them since they are so big, but I knew I would not water them enough for them to stand a chance. So, one day, Olivia and I finally stuck the seeds out sporatically through our current flower garden. And a few actually popped up. We were waiting anxiously to see if they'd make it in time to flower before it got too cold, and I guess they did or I wouldn't be blogging about them, would I?

I don't think I'd want them any other way. You can see them right out our kitchen window and they are definately the first thing that catches your eye as you step out the door to our backyard. And there is something about a big yellow and brown sunflower that just fits in the Thanksgiving season. I think I want to plant sunflowers late in the season every year. I'm not sure if these will mature enough to make seeds, but you just never know. These actually grew from seeds a friend gave us from her sunflowers, which makes them even better..

Friday, November 02, 2007

Something fishy

Olivia decided to try to catch the big one. She thought that the Larry Mobile would be a good choice for bait.

There is definately interest and some nibbling going on.

But as we all know, the big ones always get away.