Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ice Skating

We had planned have a fun family night with Grandma and Grandpa Couch - going out to dinner & then to Snowflake Lane. At dinner Matt said, "And by the way, just today my friend invited us to go ice skating at the downtown park - they rented out the rink so it would be free." Even though it was getting past bedtime, we went for it, and it turned out to be one of the best spontaneous evenings ever!Danny was a wall hugger and couldn't keep his feet under him at the start. After a few laps with Dad he was gaining confidence and stability. Kaylee was daring and unafraid. Her skates were so tiny. She wanted to go around and around and around. It was quite the back workout for me to bend over and help her. Both were all smiles the whole time.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All for One, and One for All

When Danny requested a Musketeer birthday party, I was a little unsure of what to do. Most child appropriate Musketeer gear is related to the Barbie Musketeer movie. Matt made it clear that Danny was not allowed to have a Barbie party. So I did a little more research, and Danny found a Mickey Mouse Musketeer movie that gave us a little more inspiration, and with a lot of help from Grandma Billings (my brother-in-laws parents who live very close and we've adopted), we had ourselves a grand Musketeer celebration.

When the guests arrived, they were greeted by King Matt, who took them downstairs to decorate their Musketeer capes (handmade by Grandma Billings) and begin practicing their sword fighting (I decided the inflatable swords from Oriental Trading would be the safest option with that many kiddos). They got to watch a clip from the Mickey Mouse Musketeer movie
and then practice their skills with King Matt. You can see the simple decorations in the background- just paper banners with a fleur de lis printed on them. After all their practice, they went upstairs to the banquet hall for a grand feast. Instead of silverware, I got some of those sword toothpicks at a party store. The boys thought it was so fun to eat with swords! We kept it simple - IKEA meatballs, cheese squares, grapes, lil' smokies, carrot sticks, and chips. The castle cake made a nice centerpiece for the feast. Danny and I looked at castle cake ideas online, but cakes are always harder than I think they will be and I just don't have much practice, so they never turn out nearly as well as I imagine in my head. It was really fun to do nonetheless. So this is where the party got really fun. The boys were told before it was time to eat cake, they should go downstairs to receive rewards for all their training and work. When they got downstairs, King Matt was shocked to discover his treasure, and all of Danny's birthday presents, had been stolen. The new Musketeers got on their shoes and jackets and followed King Matt outside to find the bandit.

The bandit, was our good family friend Will. Since moving into the ward here, Danny has LOVED Will and looked up to him like a big brother. Will always looks out for Danny too and despite their 8 year age difference, he is always a good friend to Danny.

So Bandit Will ran ahead with the treasure, dropping clues (gold coins) along a wooded trail near our house. King Matt & the Musketeers followed in hot pursuit.

Meanwhile, Grandma Billings, Kaylee, and I drove the presents (yep, I'd stolen those) and cake over to a nearby park, where the trail led. We arrived just in time to set things up and get a little footage of the Musketeers catching the bandit. Bandit Will was such a good sport and the boys were so excited to find the presents & treasure hiding in the playground equipment.

We opened presents, ate cake, and then sent the Musketeers home for some rest. All for one and one for all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This autumn I have gained new appreciation and understanding for the name "Fall." As a teacher in Houston, I purchased these fake fallen leaves to decorate my classroom. Now they make their way to my mantel during October and November. But this year, in our new home, it seems ironic to have these inside when my yard looks like this. The leaves just keep falling and falling. Today I filled 9 huge yard waste bags. And the trees are still full of leaves. Hooray for Fall!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

We Moved . . .

True. We moved in June. But the exciting news is that our new house now has a new roof! You may notice in this first picture that you can't even see the beautiful new roof. That is correct. Despite not being able to enjoy staring at our new investment, we are happy that we'll be staying dry all winter (spring, summer, & fall ... this is Seattle) for at least the next 30 years. Besides the neighborhood, schools, and perfect location (15 minutes to downtown Seattle, 5 minutes to endless miles of hiking trails, and 45 minutes to a ski slope) I love, love, love the lot that this house is on. From every window it feels like we're in the forest.
It's a classic 1973 Split Level. Head down the stairs to find my 2nd favorite room in the house. Downstairs there's also a storage room, guest room, laundry room, and Danny & Kaylee's clubhouse (an under the stairs storage room we made into a playhouse). Head up the stairs from the front door to find the kitchen (pictures after I paint), office/playroom (great for stacking towers), & bedrooms. And my favorite room in the house.
There's definitely work to be done with the final decorating, but I just love, love the high wood ceilings and watching the seasons change through the big windows in this living room. And there you have it. Our brand new house. It's even better in person, so come on over. We love visitors!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Flashback to the Fair

Why we loved the 2011 Eastern Idaho State Fair . . .

And what we wish to forget from the 2011 EISF . . .


And while we're doing Fair Flashbacks, let's compare one of my first years workin' the fair . . .
to this year . . .
I'm so glad I married a carny.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy Halloween

It was a Happy Halloween indeed. First off, trick-or-treating at Dad's work. The candy was even more dense than at a trunk-or-treat. Nearly every cubicle had something to offer.

At the church Halloween party, Tinker Bell had fun popping balloons and winning a whistle (which was only removed when a sucker could replace it).Our cowboy favored shooting darts at a Haunted House.
Both were huge fans of the cupcake walk. Though Tinker Bell won several times, we held her to only one, vanilla cupcake. I learned at our playgroup Halloween potluck that chocolate & green tutus just don't mix.Trunk-or-treating was fun as always. We were spoiled to have Grandma & Grandpa Couch join us for the event, dressed as a Queen & King. Matt & I were Captain 5k & Miss Marathon, superheroes we'd created for a previous work party. (Yes . . . this is me taking a picture of a picture just like last Halloween. Still haven't gotten the scanner fixed. Danny's face is precious in this one. He's got that stern cowboy look down.)
On Halloween we enjoyed a cool night. We had to layer up underneath the costumes. Our new neighborhood doesn't have a lot of kids, so our new neighbors were thrilled to have some trick-or-treaters. We felt it our neighborly duty to go to as many of these neglected houses as we could (until fingers were numb & toes tired). They were generous with their candy, and even though we left a candy bowl out on a porch while we went around, by 10 at night when I picked it up, there was still candy left.
We'd carved the pumpkins earlier at Danny's preschool party. Danny is holding his pirate pumpkin's eyepatch, and Matt carved the skeleton. We also enjoyed our traditional spooky Halloween menus for several meals. This years features were Witch's Brew (black Kool-Aid), Bones & Blood (bone shaped breadsticks with marinara), Goblin Goulash served over Maggots (Alfredo casserole served over rice), Peeling Ogre Skin with Fungi & Lizard Tongues (salad with mushrooms & bacon bits), and Dirt (pudding with cookies & worms). We also had Mummies (sausage wrapped in biscuit dough) for breakfast with Jack-O-Lantern Juice (OJ in clear cups with jack-o-lantern faces), Oozing Eyeballs (fried eggs), and Blind Mice (Strawberry mice with no eyes or tails). I didn't take pictures, but we had fun sharing the Halloween Meals with our good friends the Hendricks & Mom & Dad.

How I love Halloween!!!
(And, lest you think I'm a neglectful mother that lets her child relish in all her candy goodness without wiping her nose, let it be known that it is merely sparkly fairy dust.)
(OK. I lied. It's a runny, snotty, nose. Hey . . . even fairies get a runny nose in the cold.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Settlers of Catan

Matt and I were introduced to this game several years ago. And we like it. For date nights we used to sit at our laptops playing online Catan against each other. I know, real social, right?

Back in Houston, my sister & her husband were our go-to competition when we wanted a foursome, but since moving to WA we have hardly played at all. Maybe it's because we've been too busy hiking or hosting visitors or training for races, but for months our Catan game has sat on the shelf.

We recently discovered, however, that many of our friends here play Catan as well. Enough, in fact, that we hosted a Catan tournament. 16 players, 4 games, and a final game to determine the Catan Champion.

For snacks, I collaborated with my friend Rose. We had a treat for each resource.
Brick - Hot Tamales & Licorice Bites
Ore - No Bake Cookies
Wheat - Wheat Thins with cream cheese/salsa dip
Lumber - Pretzel Sticks
Wool - A field of veggies for grazing with sheep cookies (made by Rose - so amazing)And what Catan tournament would be complete without a Catan board made of cookies? (Thanks Katie for helping me cut hexagons!)
The champion was rewarded with a crown, and a prize for each resource.
Wheat - a 10 can of red wheat (which the winner promptly returned)
Brick - clay, to make your own bricks
Wool - a small stuffed sheep
Wood - a bag of pretzel sticks
Ore - a gift card to cold stone (STONE . . . get it?)

And who was the Queen of Catan? See this gal reading the rulebook, playing the fool?
Well, she had us all fooled and knew exactly what she was doing. Congratulations on being the Queen of Catan Liz!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cousin Summer

The last month we were spoiled with lots of cousins. Danny & Kaylee LOVE their cousins. And Matt and I were excited to spend a little time with our newest nephews as well. Sadly, when Mindy, G-Pops, & Grandma Angie came to visit, my camera was MIA. I did get this phone shot of Kaylee & Kaya stick wrestling. Kaylee won. I guess that's what happens when you have a big brother to wrestle around. I had to steal a few pictures of our baby nephew Lander off Mindy's facebook because he is such a cutie. When he visited he was about 4 months old and so smiley. Love that age! I remembered how exhausting it is too though - nursing and being up at night. Don't miss that! Mindy's doing great.
Things I want to remember from the Hong visitors (since I neglected to take ANY pictures). Dim Sum with the Lou Hong family at the House of Hong, fun day exploring Pike Place Market, beautiful wedding (Jerry's cousin's daughter), driving out to the mountains, slip n' slide at the ward campout, KFC picnic dinner on Lake Washington, huge dinner with the whole Hong crew with smoked ribs, homemade rolls, yummy spinach, strawberry salad, & a plethora of chocolate desserts (including chocolate pasta). The visit was short, but packed and we had a great time with everyone.

The day after the Hong's left, my sister's family arrived. Danny used to live 2 blocks away from these cousins in Houston, so he's REALLY missed having them around all the time. They always pick up right where they left off. We did see a few Seattle sights with Leah & Alex. Then we all drove across the mountains to my parent's house. Their yard was already paradise, and then they decided to redesign the play structure with a pirate ship theme. Danny would just live out there if I let him. As it was, the kids spent hours outside playing every day. Adding water to the equation, whether in the yard or at the nearby splash park, made it even more fun. By evening there were many tired kids ready for a snuggle & TV time.
Some favorite activities of the week were Settlers of Catan, climbing, hula hoop, hammock swinging, gardening (the kids harvested several things that we ate right away - berries, salad veggies, & potatoes), swat the mosquito, hula hoop races, bocce ball, and playing horses. There was even a talent show where each kid performed a skill they'd been practicing during the summer. There were several musical numbers, but Danny's proudest achievement was how far he'd learned to shoot an arrow.
The main event of this gathering was the blessing of our newest nephew Zachary. He's just 2 months younger than Lander and sweet as can be.The last night together we feasted on S'mores. It doesn't get much better than that!
And what about the cousins we didn't see yet this summer? We get to see them next week when we head out to Idaho for the fair! Hooray for cousins!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Kaylee the Gardener

I think I should plant her a garden.
And then I should install a tub right next to it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Seattle Summer

Though we haven't had a lot of summer weather in Seattle this year, we've managed to make the most of it. Here are a few highlights.

Visiting Illahee Park in Bremerton

Hiking with friends & family

Swimming lessons (indoor, heated pool)
Berry Picking with Friends
Boating to Ivars with friends
Dancing in the rain at outdoor, library sponsored concerts
Playing at the beach on Lake Union
(In long sleeves and a diaper because I didn't bring swim gear. I thought 69 degrees was too cold for playing in the the water, but Kaylee thought otherwise )