Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Official Gabba Friend

I found out today that Ben's birthday party was featured on the Gabba Friends website today! I'm so excited! In addition to the notoriety, I also get entered into a giveaway for a $50 gift card to the Gabba Store. I never actually win any of these things, so I'm sure that won't happen, but it's still fun to be featured! Check it out!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pumpkins: Round 2

I was so disappointed that my pumpkins didn't pan out last year. I wanted so badly to grow a pumpkin, and got so close! So I wanted to give it one more try. My failure last year didn't come without lessons learned. The biggest one being that pumpkin vines grow out of control. Last year I planted 12 pumpkin seeds, in addition to some butternut squash. Wow, was that way too much for our little garden! This year, I planted one single solitary seed (actually planted two to begin with, but when I saw the first one growing so quickly, I pulled out the second one, thinking that the one would be plenty!). I was hoping to be able to plant the seeds I had tried to save from my pie pumpkin last year, but those seeds had turned moldy (my fault - always store seeds in an envelope and never in a plastic bag), so I bought some seeds for casper white pumpkins. Andrew thinks they're creepy, but I think they're pretty, and can be used for baking! Here is my pumpkin vine, planted about 6 weeks ago.

(They're looking a little sad today because they didn't get watered until about noon, and it's 105 degrees outside, but they'll perk up with another drink this evening.)In another few weeks this bad boy will have filled up the whole garden!

I'm hoping that this year will be more successful than last year. I'm hopeful as I have already seen some female buds starting, although I haven't had any flowers open yet. Hopefully in a couple weeks we'll have some blooms and soon after that we'll have some fruit starting. If not... I officially give up on pumpkins!

John 14:1

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me.

Monday, August 16, 2010


What a big day it was! Joshua started Kindergarten today! I just can't believe it. He's officially in school. He decided to keep him at the same school where he's gone to daycare for kindergarten. They have an awesome program, and he only has 6 kids in his class! He has been so excited to start kindergarten, and had such a great day! Of course I had to get the "first day of school" pictures before we left the house (Benny also moved up to the 3 year old classroom this week, so it was a big day for him too!)

School starts at 8:30, so Andrew and I thought it would be fun to go into work a little late and skip the before care today so that we could see him get started on his first day. The class lines up outside of the pre-k room where their teacher, Mrs. Harren, takes them upstairs to their classroom.

This is where I was totally caught of guard. We have been at this school since Joshua was 10 weeks old, so I figured that moving up to Kindergarten wouldn't affect me very much and that I wouldn't get too emotional. Boy, was I wrong! As soon as he was lined up to go upstairs, here come the waterworks! I was crying, and then laughing at myself for crying! But no matter where it is, starting kindergarten is such a right of passage, and the official beginning to his educational career. It's a big deal!

When they arrived upstairs, they learned that the first thing they do before going inside the classroom is give Mrs. Harren a hug. :)

They each have their assigned seats with their supply boxes and pouches on the back of their chairs to hold their work. So school-like!

The first thing they did was learn the pledges of allegiance: to the American flag, to the Christian flag, and to the Bible.

After the pledges, it was calendar time, and our cue to leave. But of course, not before snapping one last picture.

In light of their big day, we thought it would be fun to celebrate with dinner out. Joshua picked In n Out, which is always a family favorite.

And we finished our meal with a couple of milkshakes!

Hey, Andrew! Save some for the rest of us!

It was a wonderful day of new beginnings! I can't wait to see what they learn and how they grow this year. It's so exciting, and we couldn't be prouder of both of them!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Benny's Birthday Bash - Yo Gabba Gabba Style!

Yesterday we celebrated Ben's 3rd birthday with a Yo Gabba Gabba themed birthday bash! He asked for a Yo Gabba Gabba birthday months ago, so needless to say he was pretty excited. It turns out that his party fell on a weekend where most of his friends were not available to come, so it ended up being just a family party. But with all his cousins here, there were plenty of kids to play with and everyone had a great time!

After eating some pizza and other yummy food, we gathered up all the kids to play some fun little party games, Gabba themed, of course. The first was Pin the Eye on Muno. I made a DJ Lance hat, which doubled as the blindfold for the game.

What was hilarious was that pretty much everyone got it right on the money. I'm thinking the blindfold was a bit too see through!

One of the most beloved songs from Yo Gabba Gabba is "There's a Party in my Tummy" all about eating healthy foods. So our second game was Party in Brobee's Tummy. I made a Brobee out of poster board and placed a basket in front of it. Each child got 5 chances to throw a piece of food into the basket. It was a big hit.

After the games, Benny asked if we he could open his presents, and what the birthday boy wants, the birthday boy gets! He got so many fun toys!

Next came the cake! As I have taken to doing over the last couple of years, I sort of went a little crazy on his cake. This year I made sugar cookies decorated like the Gabba Gabba characters to incorporate into the cake. I also included some of the cookies in the kids' goody bags.

The cake included as many aspects of the show that I could. The bottom tier was DJ Lance's boom box, with the character cookies on the sides. The top tier was DJ Lance's hat, with Muno standing up the back holding a birthday banner. I was so happy with how it turned out. Definitely worth staying up until 2 a.m. finishing it!

My family hung out for a while after the party was over, and played Benny's new game Scatterpillar Scramble while we all had some extra visiting time.

After everyone had gone, Ben was officially partied out. We were relaxing, watching TV and we noticed Ben's head begin to bob while he was sitting in his new chair.

So instead of continuing to watch him try to sleep with his head bobbing back and forth, I seized the opportunity to have a little cuddly nap on the couch. What a perfect end to a great day!

Happy birthday, Benny! We are so proud of the big, sweet, imaginative boy you are. We love you so much!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back to Santa Barbara!

It's family vacation time! We were so excited to head back to our old stompin' grounds for our time away this year. We stayed down in Carpinteria, a small blink-and-you-miss-it town just below Santa Barbara. Somehow, in the 3 years we lived there, we never took the time to spend any time in Carp at all, so it was cool to be able to actually see it! We left early Saturday morning for our long road trip, and the kids did AMAZING! It was a 9 hour trip, and the kids did awesome entertaining themselves.

We rolled into Carp at about 3:00 and after getting settled into our hotel went out to check out Carp. We hit the Bluffs first. At the far end of the bluffs there is a seal sanctuary. This is the seal's beach. If you look closely, you can see a little seal head in the upper right corner of the photo.

After the bluffs we headed down to get some beach time before dinner. Ben was still a little scared of the waves and spent much of the time at the beach like this:

But he did muster up enough courage to let the ocean get his feet with Daddy and Joshua at least once.

After the beach we got together for dinner with my friend, Lori, who I used to work with. Although we've kept in touch through email, I hadn't seen her in 8 years, so it was great to be able to get together.

The next morning we got up early to head about an hour north to Lompoc to visit our friends the Stults.

Andrew worked with John back when we lived in Santa Barbara. John's wife, Alisha and I have become friends through our blogs and social networking, but had never had the chance to actually meet face to face. They have 2 boys exactly our boys' ages, so we were really looking forward to our time with them. As we suspected, after some initial shyness, the boys became fast friends. We all went to church together, and afterward had a super fun afternoon at the park for a BBQ along with John and Carrie Ruckman. It was an amazingly beautiful day and the boys all had such a blast.

Alisha and I wanted so badly to get a good picture of all 4 boys. They were all playing up in the jungle gym, so we grabbed our cameras and tried to get them all together. Unfortunately, Joshua scooted a bit too far back on the stairs, and ended up falling about 5 feet from the top of the jungle gym! Thankfully, he was just fine and after some cuddles was good as new. After he'd calmed down, we got our pictures safely on the ground.

After leaving Lompoc that afternoon, we stopped at one of our favorite spots in Santa Barbara. Lake Los Carneros. It's such a pretty lake with wildlife and beautiful views. We couldn't visit Santa Barbara without stopping there.

One of our favorite hamburger spots was The Habit in downtown Goleta. Best hamburgers and onion rings around. We got our food and headed over to Goleta Beach for a little picnic in the back of the van and more beach time.

Monday was our Santa Barbara day. We were so excited to wake up and see the sun, which hasn't happened much this summer. It was the perfect day to spend outside. We had breakfast in Santa Barbara at Farmer Boy. The boys kept themselves occupied while waiting for our food.

After our tummies were full we headed downtown for more beach time and to see Stearns Wharf.

After some lunch at a little shop at Paseo Nuevo on State Street, I had the chance to go visit my old office.

There aren't a whole lot of people from when I worked there, but I was able to catch up with the few that remain. It's hard to believe it's been 8 years since I walked through those doors!

The courthouse in Santa Barbara is definitely a site to be seen. It has a tall clock tower that you can go up into to take in some beautiful views.

For dinner we met up with our friend Roxanne who we haven't seen in forever. It was so great to see her! After we left we realized we didn't take any pictures with her. :(

Tuesday was another big day. Of course it was Benny's birthday, so we had to start the day with a happy birthday song and present!

We spent our morning at the beach in Carp making sand castles and putting our feet in the ocean (Josh's favorite beach activity).

We made a stop at the Santa Barbara Mission and botanical garden...

and then stopped for lunch at our favorite sandwich shop, South Coast Deli. If you're ever in the Santa Barbara area, do yourself a favor and get yourself a South Coast Turkey sandwich. Trust me! They had added a great touch to their dining room... a chalkboard wall! It was perfect to keep the kids entertained while we waited for our food.

Sufficiently filled up with yummy sandwiches, it was time to head up the San Marcos Pass to the town of Solvang, the Danish capital of the United States. It's such a cute little town. We had planned to ride the Solvang Trolley (a horse drawn trolley car), but came to find the trolley driver had called in sick, so we settled for a ride in the Solvang Shoe!

Just outside of Solvang is Ostrich Land, so we stopped there to see the ostriches and emus and even got to feed them. I firmly believe that Ostriches are proof that God has a sense of humor!

It was just about dinner time, and so we decided to head up the road to Buelton and have dinner at the world famous Pea Soup Andersen's.

I can't say that I've ever craved a bowl of split pea soup, to say the least, but being at PSA, I had to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. Holy cow, was that some tasty good soup!

Even Benny liked it!

Wednesday we headed home, making one tourist stop along the way, the Cabazon Dinosaurs.

We were surprised to see that the gift shop was full of books and t-shirts talking about how the dinosaurs were created by God, that they are mentioned in the bible, and discrediting the theory of evolution. It was so cool!

We had another great ride in the car on the way home, without a tear shed and even no whining. Just an enjoyable day. We couldn't have asked for a better vacation. We definitely plan on making Santa Barbara a regular vacation spot. If you haven't been there, I highly suggest putting it on your list of "must visit" places. You won't be disappointed!