Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ethan's 7th Birthday...

Well... I think I made it through the birthday season!  Micah and I should have thought out child-spacing a little bit better... But since all three were huge surprises - we'll take our July, August, and September babies. We celebrated Ethan's birthday a little bit early this year, so Nana Rose could join us while she was visiting.  It worked out okay.  I told Ethan I wasn't gonna do a big cake for him this year because I didn't wanna spend hours in the kitchen while Nana was here.  He was fine with it... we EVEN went and looked at cakes at Walmart and Costco ----- BUT SERIOUSLY!  I can make a cake for a FRACTION of what they cost and mine are cooler and taste better...
 The morning of the party... I got my inspiration... Ethan wanted an alien cake... it literally took me 5 minutes to make this guy (after the 10 minutes it took me to make a batch of rice crisps).
 He was surprised and he love it... that's why I do what I do.. I love seeing him smile!
 It turned out cool and really didn't take very long at all...
For the dinner party - Ethan chose Doritos, hot dogs, and fruit kabobs.... I added bottled root beer because that is just so cool and special (and another one of his favorites)!
blowing out candles...
 I let him cut the cake... he thought that was pretty cool!
He got the hook-up with presents this year... He is (now) fully equipped for all his spy'ing needs. 

Ethan Cade... This year I remembered that your first name means "steadfast" and your middle name means "battler"... nothing could describe you better than a "steadfast battler" -- You have challenged us (your parents) to spend hours on our knees praying for you and seeking God for wisdom to know how to teach you to steadfastly battle for the RIGHT things; to choose to love people over being right; to seek mercy instead of justice; and to see grace instead of insisting for what is "fair"... We are so proud of you - all that you are learning and becoming and we KNOW that God has a plan and a place for you.  We pray you will trust Him with your whole heart and to seek His face daily.  Love people well and always seek to live at peace with everyone (especially your sister)!

Happy Birthday, BIG 7 year old!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tansy's One!

Tansy turned ONE earlier this month.  
First birthdays are always a monumental event!  A symbol you survived! A reminder that baby-ness is only a season and they DO GROW out of all the crying, the sleepless nights, their multiple sets of clothes... etc!  
It is a celebration!
For the first birthday we like to do a cake symbolic to their first year... something special about them or something that we will remember them by... For Tansy we chose HAPPY... she's been such a happy baby!  I swear she smiled the first day she was alive and has smiled ever since... 
she's such a sweetie!
 And a Daddy's girl! How she loves her Daddy!
 Tansy wasn't sure what to do with her huge cake! She sat there for a long time before she finally put her finger in...
 She thought it was delightful!
 By the end she was flinging it everywhere... as though it were confetti...
 The long yellow cake I made for everyone else.  
It had a number one in the middle of it and it was kinda cool... and a delightful baking challenge for me to tackle....
 Oh Sweet Tansy Grace, how you've been such a delight in our days!  Your smile is contagious and your love of people endearing!  You truly are a precious gift and we THANK God for surprising us with your little/big life!  We pray you brighten the world with your smile as you have brightened our home... may you be a blessing and a gift to those around you!  We are so thankful for this year we shared with you... we pray for many, many, many more!

Happy Birthday, Dear Sweet One!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Micah's Birthday...

I might just become a birthday blogger... because it seems these days I only have time about four times a year to blog!  Our summer is slipping aways so quickly!  I loaded the cart with school supplies the other day... I wonder where the summer has gone!
We celebrated Micah's birthday last week.  I have a hard time figuring out what to do for his special day so my default has been to make a pie and call it good. It only took me 14 years of marriage to find out that he really would love "more".... so this year I started in January!  I lined out a babysitter for a kid for a night away... and vaguely planned a destination.  The babysitting fell through a few weeks before his birthday and I was left with zero plans... I scrambled around trying to find other people to babysit... Two days before - my babysitting canceled again!  I was really bummed!  I could bore you with more details but let's just say - the whole process made me really miss family!  I realize how oh so small our support system is here in Montana... every time we try to plan something it is impossible to find help.  
BUT his birthday came and we had a grand day.  I surprised him by showing up at work and taking him to lunch and we had cake and presents at dinner time.  The cake was a peanut butter explosion - the frosting actually tasted like the inside of a Reeses peanut butter cup... AMAZING!  I gave him a picture frame of pics I took of the kiddos and the kids painted him picture for his office.  It was a fun time...  I'm thankful we can celebrate my husband, their Daddy... all his hard work and dedication to us - his family!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hauser Lake Get-a-way...

Our house has been a little bit wild the past few weeks.  The kiddos were all sick with the annual "after VBS" bug... it was a bad one this year!  I've been so tired dealing with the late nights and the additional needs in the middle of the night that this trip (although planned way back in May)... snuck up on me!  
 Matt and Michelle out of the kindness of their heart, invited us to their family cabin at Hauser Lake to hang out and to collect firewood for our fireplace.  What a BLESSING and a huge gift this weekend was.... I'm overwhelmed with their thoughtfulness!
 It was a wonderful weekend for the kiddos as they got to experience all sorts of new things!  Like for instance, early Saturday morning they got to sift through dirt and mine for sapphires, while Matt and Micah were off cutting down dead trees for firewood.  How cool is that!???!
 Sometimes I think the coolness of their life is lost on them... I remind them often - that the things they get to experience and do is so amazing.  I pray that they will get this!  Waiting for Daddy to get back was the hardest part for the kiddos... they had this amazing place to discover and explore, but they were being difficult and so I tried to come up with all sorts of games to play and do like a treasure hunt and nature tic-tac-toe...

 Cat's game... 
 I even bribed Ethan with a can of pop and fruit snacks to climb this mountain... I know... I'm pathetic... BUT he did it... he didn't think he could, but he DID!
 The boys cut down a lot of dead trees... we'll be warm this winter... I'm so very thankful!
 For lunch we took the big boat out on the water and ate while we explored.... it was so cool!
 The kiddos thought it was pretty stinking cool!
A rare family pic... almost everyone was looking... Eden was being a STINKER!

After the boat ride and while Tansy was napping in the cabin with Matt and Michelle we took the kids out for a 4-wheeler ride..
 The kids loved it!
Eden and I rode behind the boys and when we got back we were COVERED in dirt... a little dirt don't hurt... right???
I was thinking our day was pretty full... AND THEN the kiddos got to go fishing!
 This was their first time fishing... a shame, I know!  But that is our life!
 Is it cheesy to say they were HOOKED!??
 It was so beautiful, so quiet... so full!  I'm so thankful... oh so thankful! 

 I'm thankful for how Matt and Michelle embraced our kiddos... teaching them, discovering with them, enjoying them... being OH SO PATIENT with them.  It was such a beautiful gift!
Right before we left for home, Eden brought me these morning glories... they were beautiful -- a perfect end to a wonderful weekend.  I shared with the kiddos on the way home - how blessed we are!  God abundantly blesses us in ways we don't expect or could imagine.  I explained that I truly believe it is His way of telling us He loves us!

I mean mining for sapphires, boating, 4-wheeling, fishing... all in one weekend? 
Pretty special indeed!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Rapunzel Cake

A couple months ago my brother and his family began planning their cross country move.  He got a job in Idaho and they made it so they could visit us on their way!  I was thrilled to see them.  He casually mentioned that they would be coming through on his daughter's birthday and this year she really wanted the Rapunzel tower for her birthday cake.  
My brother is a master at making birthday cakes... he's made a shark, monster truck, a frog... I could go on and on... all huge, amazing... incredible.  I cower in his cake making skills as well as all his other skills... for example I made him promise on to do pottery - because pottery is my thing... he didn't keep his promise and he could probably be a world wide famous potter if he tried. Incredible.
So him mentioning that I make the Rapunzel tower for  his daughter's birthday sounded like a good challenge... Eden's birthday is only a few days after his daughter's birthday so I asked Eden what she thought about the having a Rapunzel tower for her birthday and she was thrilled...
She's easy to please! 
I looked at hundreds of Rapunzel cakes on Pinterest... I googled it.... looked at the structure the colors... etc -- researched for hours.  But I never saw anyone that gave instructions except for some that looked "interesting".  So here is how I did it...
I got a wooden board and screwed a wooden dowel into the bottom of it.  The dowel is just a little bit taller than 2 feet.  If you are going to do a tower... it need to be a TOWER!!!

I baked three base cakes... two chocolate with a strawberry layer sandwiched in-between (gotta have pink... It's a girl thing). I dirty iced them (love saying that because I pretend I'm all cool like Cake Boss) and wrapped the base in plastic wrap.
Next I made three batches of rice crispy treats and formed a tower around the wooden dowel.  For the house of the tower I used a yogurt container and for the roof I used a funnel.  
I then took the another layer of rice crisps and wrapped it around the body of the house... yes!  It gave me the shape I wanted.  With long wooden BBQ kabob sticks I attached the little window seat area.  I took a knife and carved the tower to the shape I wanted... this really HELPED it look like a tower.. and my kiddos were delighted with the snitches... they are like vultures waiting for carnage when I decorate a cake.. I'm serious!
I then started to cover it with fondant.  I get a lot of questions about fondant and I have the perfect recipe I love and go to all the time.  I found it (here).  I did brown "rock" on the bottom with intentions of brushing it up with grays and blacks, but I wish now I would have done gray and touched it up with browns and blacks, but it is all good... I would have liked something different from the wood color, but a minor detail that an artist like me would lay awake at night pondering.
With it all covered and the shape I wanted... I started the detail work. It's a lot of just get in there and do it.. try it.  If it works celebrate - if not tear it down and start again!  The shingles were my favorite part.  I loved the colors... I randomly layered them, overlapping, mixing up colors... 
The window seat tower was made from another little funnel for the basic shape and then I carved it down to fit perfectly.  I ran out of colored fondant so if you look closely the shingles on the little roof are a slightly different color... haha!  I love imperfections -- good reminder that we are not the Great Artist - we all try to hard to mimic!

I then started piping little leaves and grass.  I love how you can cover all your mistakes with frosting. Decorating a cake isn't about making it perfect so much as learning to fix, correct, and hide the imperfections... I love that.  You can tell by this picture that - it was almost midnight... at this point.  Yeah, late night! A cake like this takes TIME, TIME, TIME!
I made all the flowers out of fondant.  Forming each leave and petal is also time consuming so that was also why I was up so late. The morning of the party I finally had the courage to work on Rapunzel.  That was the part I was most worried about.  BUT thankful I had my brother and his wife to help. My brother worked on the face (he made a t out of kabob sticks and formed the head shoulders around that - this is also what we stuck into the cake to hold it there), his wife worked on the dress, and I worked on her hair.  With something like this - you JUST HAVE TO TRY.  Just dive in and pray it works.
The hair was almost disastrous. I couldn't get it on the cake because the other layer of fondant had dried.  It kept drooping... but I kept at it.  Brushing water on the tower and the hair.  Holding it.  Sticking a toothpick here and there and PRAYING like crazy that I hadn't screwed up big time! It was intense.  But it WORKED!
So that is how the cake was construction.  Lots of research, time, patience... and a WHOLE lot of LOVE!  So glad it turned out -- I believe it is my best cake as of today... 
and perfect for these two!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hello Poppy....

The kids have been begging for a LONG TIME for a pet!  We thought about getting a cat.  We'd like to get a puppy sometime in the future (after we get a fence and Micah is done with school). Fish are fun for a day or two... 

Then last month the kids caught a wild, baby bunny.  They were in love.  My family raised bunnies when we were little and Micah had a bunny when he was little too.... so we toyed with the idea.  
After finding little "Hopster" all Eden wanted for her birthday was a bunny.  
When she got birthday money in the mail from Nana Rose... I asked her if she wanted to spend it on getting a bunny?  After thinking it through and weighing whether or not she wanted to spend her dear "cash" on a bunny -- she decided yes! It's funny how easy it is to spend the parent's cash, but how it changes when it is your own money... I loved watching her work that out.
 Micah found a rabbit cage on Craigslist and he and my dad and my brother spent the day fixing it up... replacing some chewed boards and old wire.  It is a great cage!
The bunny showed up and Eden fell in love. 
Eden named her Poppy - the name she's had picked out for a long time!
Poppy is a french lop mix... cute and gentle.
Eden is learning how to be responsible - feeding and taking care of this little thing.  Ethan is learning how to be gentle and not pick Poppy up by her ears.  

I'm in shock that we are a pet owner - as if we needed one more thing, but she's a good thing and Eden got what she wished for - for her birthday.

Welcome to the family, Poppy!