Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where is Your Happy Place?

Where is your happy place?
Sometimes that question can be really hard to answer.  But not for me when April rolls around, because it's springtime in Texas y'all and it just doesn't get any better than this!
We took a road trip this weekend, just to get out of town, breathe some fresh air and enjoy a little football, Aggie-style - Whoop!
That's right, I said a little football!
  We loaded up the B team and headed out 290 toward God's Country (Aggieland) on Saturday morning to watch the Texas A & M football spring scrimmage at Kyle Field.  I don't know why exactly, but when I make that turn on to Highway 6, I swear I can feel the air shift and see the grass getting just a little bit greener.  And the closer I get to College Station, the more I feel the stress of day-to-day hurry melting away and the relaxation that only comes from heading home wrapping its arms around me.  Deep breath in - ahhhh!
Tickets for the game were only 5 bucks for grown-ups, the kids were FREE and my Aggies were guaranteed a win - now that's a happy place to be!  Over 45,000 others felt the same way because the parking lots and stadium were packed!  Speed, who is only an Aggie by marriage, was practically speechless over all the hoopla around a scrimmage and a chance to see Johnny Football Heisman Manziel before September, but I was simply proud of our Aggie Spirit once again.  Gig 'em!
We headed up early so we could spend some time brainwashing showing the B team around campus and eat lunch with Sport, who drove in from San Marcos to meet us.  After a 2 hour car ride, it was good for the littles to get a chance to run around before we asked them to sit still again anyway.  I showed them the Century Oak in the middle of campus, one of the oldest and prettiest trees in Texas!  Tradition says that couples who walk under the tree will eventually marry and marriages after a proposal made underneath its branches will last forever!  I'm not sure about all that, but it does seem like a magical place.
We met up with my brother and his family for the game, so the kids had a chance to YELL for the home team while hanging out with their cousins.  They have such a special relationship and it's fun to imagine them on campus together one day.  Especially since we live across town from each other and life keeps us from spending nearaly as much time together as they'd like.  Watching the two of them reminds me of my brother and myself 'back in the day' at it does make me very happy!
Afterwards, we headed back toward home, stopping to participate in another time-honored, Texas tradition - bluebonnet pics!  They're here for such a short time each year, which makes their appearance as a herald of spring that much more special and gives you the feeling that it's something worth capturing!
It's already a little late in the season for bluebonnets this far south, but we managed to find a field of them and piled out to enjoy God's handiwork!  The weather was perfect and the field was just begging to be explored . . . So they did!  It didn't take Snacks any time at all to find something to climb on.
And honestly, he'd follow her anywhere.  He LOVES his 'sissy' and she loves her 'bubby' right back!  When I watch the two of them together, my heart leaps and I can't help but smile.  Sibling love can be so amazing, but sometimes fleeting.  I pray a lot about their relationship because I see the confidence and curiosity they gain from facing life together and I want that for them always!
On our way back through town, we were lucky enough to hook up with some friends for dinner and drinks al fresco at Cedar Creek - the perfect ending to a perfect day!
Still single at 33, this amazing life I lead now I once didn't think possible.  God has blessed me in so many ways, but most especially with my wonderful husband and children.  And I am forever grateful for the love he has given me through these incredible people that I am blessed to call my family.  In the words of Jack Johnson, "It's always better when we're together."
And this is my happy place!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

'Operation Rhino' Birthday Party

Last week my sweet, adorable, funny, adventurous little man turned 'thwee' and to celebrate he asked for a rhino party.  Yes, a rhino party.  Which, he pronounces 'whino' and did get me wondering about my consumption habits - ha!  And while I KNOW that he will most likely only remember his third birthday party from the pictures he sees later on, so it didn't really matter to him what we did, Sheep was NOT letting me off the hook that easily!  He's a lucky little dude to have such an advocate and protector in his closest sibling . . .
Luckily, we have a wildlife park not too far from the house and (Yippee!) they do indeed have a rhino there named Pee Wee, so the bulk of this unusually-themed celebration came together pretty easily!  If your local and have never been to Bayou Wildlife Park, it's definitely worth the trip at least once, because there's tons of animals and the train ride through its 80 acres lets you get up close and personal too!
Still, a glance at a rhino from across a field wasn't going to cut it by itself, so off to Pinterest we went, only to realize (surprise, surprise) that there isn't a lot out there in the way of party ideas or paper goods for a rhino birthday party.  You can check out the things we found and liked on my Pinterest 'Birthday Fun' board though, and I will be adding a few of the creations below as well!
And as usual, I was working under some pretty serious time constraints, so ordering any of cute things we found was out of the question.  Whoever said necessity was the mother of invention obviously forgot about procrastination - ha!
Ultimately, I settled on a turquoise and orange color scheme for the party and used my superior tracing and scissor skills to construct the invitation - which turned out pretty stinkin' cute if I do say so myself!  Luckily, only 8 invitations went out, so it wasn't an overwhelming task and Sheep was happy to help with the glue and pop dots!  Anything for her 'bubby'!
Although Sheep campaigned for a rhino-shaped birthday cake, mommy vetoed that idea and settled on cupcakes with rhino toppers instead.  I simply swiped some rhino art off the web and modified it in PowerPoint (my favorite ghetto graphics tool) to fit into my punches.  I also made some number threes for the reverse side of the topper.  Everything was pieced together on popsicle sticks using glue dots and voila!
Again, since the guest list was small, I didn't have tons of these to make, which made this a very 'doable' idea - especially compared to constructing a rhino cake from scratch!  Of course we used our favorite cupcake recipe, along with some turquoise wrappers and orange-tinted frosting to keep with our color scheme!  They looked good enough to eat!
I had also seen an invitation that said something about 'having a ton of fun', which I thought was so cute and clever that I used it on the goody bags to say thanks to all our guests!
Neither helium-filled nor latex balloons are allowed at the wildlife park due to animal safety issues, so I needed to come up with something else to designate our tables during the party.  I remembered that it was pretty windy out there as well, so my centerpieces needed to be sturdy too!  Therefore, I decided to keep it simple, using a couple of small, mylar balloons and pinwheels in the orange and turquoise colors to make centerpieces in sand-filled beach pails.  Perfect!
Mission//assignments sent - check!
Cupcake soldiers made - check!
ICDs (Improvised Centerpiece Devices) made - check!
Goodie 'bombs' prepared - check!
Battle station determined - check!
The only thing left was a 'uniform' for my little soldier and preparations for 'Operation Rhino' would be complete!  I looked everywhere for a machine applique design of a rhino, but once again mommy was left to create a shirt on her own!  Luckily, I already had a rhino pattern from the invitations, which I simply enlarged, cut out of orange fabric prepped with double-sided fusible webbing, and ironed on a tiny, turquoise tee.  Then I adjusted the stitch length on my machine and sewed around the perimeter several times in a sort of messy way, just to give it a little more interest and keep it very boy-ish!  He was so happy to get it and wear it that it doesn't even matter to me whether or not he remembers it because I always will!
The kids had lots and lots of fun at the park of course!

 And we saw lots and lots of animals too!  Though Pee Wee was too far away to catch a good picture of him this trip.
I think Snacks and his pre-school buddy G-man enjoyed sharing the food between their buckets almost as much as feeding the animals!
In addition to the train ride, the kids enjoyed the petting zoo and a horseback ride, and a WILD time was had by all!
I love you more than I could ever have possibly imagined my little man and possibly more than you will ever realize - but maybe - just maybe - these memories from 'Operation Rhino' will give you some idea.  Happy Birthday Snacks!
Love, Mommy