Sunday, November 15, 2015


Russell had a birthday last week!  We looked up some ideas for a party on the internet and he decided he would like a "knights-in-training" party.  I just love copying other people's creative ideas from the internet.

When the guests first arrived they decorated a cardboard shield.  Once they finished they were given a knight's tunic to wear, and a shield.  (I made the tunics out of old sheets)

Russell was the "king".  I think he looks very kingly here :)

Here is the "banquet table" where we celebrated the knighthood of the party guests (and the king's birthday) with cake and ice cream

Pretty sweet and easy castle cake idea from pinterest.
The party guests in their knightly garb.

Once everyone was properly attired, we split up for some training.  Half went outside for a jousting obstacle course with Rob.  I did not get any pictures of that.  The other half went downstairs for archery target practice.  Seth was great to fill in the waiting time with sword training.

Seth was such a boon to the party.  During another pause when Rob and I were prepping the next activity he counseled the trainees on the proper manners of a knight: how they should speak, how they should treat Lady Brenna...This was all improv and the boys ate it up.
 Next the knights-to-be constructed catapults.  Rob did a fine job gluing everyone's catapult together.

 Here is a completed one up close.
 The boys had a blast catapulting marshmallows at each other.  We were a little dubious the catapults would actually work, having seen the idea online but not taken the time to test one out.  They work quite well!
 After the catapulting each trainee was knighted by the king.

 The Lady Brenna had to step in and show him how it was done.
 Then time for presents...
 and cake.

 And family presents after the party was over.

Russ had a great birthday, and I had a great time planning his party.  It was definitely a success!!  Planning a fun themed party like that is really enjoyable for me.  I was happy all the next day just thinking about it haha!

Sunday, November 8, 2015


This is a catch up post so I will be sparse on commentary :)

Brenna enjoyed her volleyball season.  She was a setter on the B team for her seventh grade team.  
She is a sweet, friendly girl and was voted by her teammates and coaches for the "Mental Attitude" Award- meaning the teammate who was most cheerful and encouraging toward others.  She received a large trophy and the award at an awards night.  I was so proud of her and not surprised at all.  When she mentioned to me a few days before the Awards Night about the award and what it meant, and who she voted for on the team I had the thought, "That sounds like Brenna!"

Here she is ready to receive a serve.

Brenna and I had the opportunity to attend two concerts two weeks in a row at Purdue.  One was a piano recital on the new Steinway D Concert Grand that Purdue was just gifted.  It was FABULOUS! The next week was four opera stars performing duets and solos.  We loved it. 

Grant had an interesting leaf project for school.  He had to find fourteen different leaves with differing characteristics and determine the name of the tree they were from and press them and display them.  Here he is looking for leaves at one of the beautiful parks around town.
My parents visited in September and were lucky enough to attend the junior high/high school choir concert.  Brenna is in the seventh grade choir and Seth performed in an a capella male group that is a club at the school.  The concert was fabulous.  I was thrilled.  Brenna sang with such an expression of joy on her face.  I am so glad she loves to sing.

When mom and dad were here Seth, Rob and Dad went to a BYU football game, including the fireside the night before.  Here is Seth with Tanner- the quarterback!
A few days later we attended the fourth grade strings concert.  This was an impressive concert considering the number of kids and the fact that they are all beginning string students.  Pretty amazing.
This is just half of the string players!

Grant plays the cello.

We have had the most beautiful fall weather this year.  After the miserably cold fall we had last year I am grateful every single day and do no take it for granted.  We have not even gotten our coats out yet and it is a week into November!

One day we took an afternoon and went to a state park to hike the beautiful trails.  It is a lovely time of year- the leaves are turning beautiful colors and the mosquitos are gone!

We were lucky enough to find a hiking backpack to borrow last minute.  This made a huge difference.  Elise wasn't sure about it at first, but she warmed up to it.

It is hard to take a selfie and fit eight people in!!

I am blown away that we are still getting strawberries!!

I made the girls these "Elsa" capes.  I thought the tie at the neck would irritate Elise but she happily wore it all day.

I struggle purchasing Halloween costumes that seem so light and flimsy (and cold) so I decided to let the girls just wear their Elsa nightgowns as a costume this year.  (Yes, they were both Elsa)

Here is Brenna receiving her volleyball award.

I just love this boy!!  I made this crown out of felt- I will tell you why later.  Well, part of the "why" is that I saw it on Pinterest and thought it was adorable

And I think this boy is adorable!!

The leaves are falling on the ground!!

Yummy caramel apples!  (Messy counter alert!)
Rob wanted to try this method he saw online. It looks like an easier way to eat a caramel apple.  You hollow out the middle, then put the caramel inside.

Russ' tooth finally came out...or was pulled out by Rob haha!  I love that toothless smile.  I noticed his cousin Eli has a smile to match!!
The weather has been amazingly beautiful, except for the Thursday/Friday of the kid's Fall Break!  It was raining so we took a trip to Indianapolis and attended the children's museum there.
The day started off with these guys visiting the temple.
Here Grant and Russ are exploring buried cannons from a shipwreck.
Glass sculptures.
A dinosaur nest.

A big hit- the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exhibit.

Even the big kids had fun-Seth built this track.  
With our yearly membership (which cost only a few dollars more than the cost of our family attending once haha) we get free carousel rides.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Elise loved this!  She had us take her over and over.  I think she rode at least five times.

This little girl is sooooo happy!  I mean, of course she has her moments, but generally she is happy and jumping around and singing and coming up to me and hugging my leg, and telling me she loves me...what a joy to have around!

She is very compulsive in some ways.  She carries around these five small kitten figures all day long!  She will not let go of them.  She hold them in the car, through the grocery store...everywhere.  Sometimes she keeps them in a small container such as the little purse in the photo, but often she just keeps them clasped tightly in her little hands and they barely fit.  She is obsessed with kittens, which reminds us fondly of her big sister Brenna, who crawled around like a cat and made us call her "Duchess!" at the same age.

And now we are to Halloween:
We tell our kids once they are twelve they cannot trick-or-treat anymore.  This was tricky this year since Brenna is now twelve.  Seth wanted to have a party, and we thought about letting Brenna have friends for a party as well, but then she was invited to a friend's party-perfect!  She dressed up as a witch.

Here is the king and two Elsa princesses.  The weather this year was so great compared to last year-55 degrees and just a little rainy.  Last year it pretty much snowed.

Grant wanted to be a dementor this year.  I had mixed feelings about this.  This is the first time I have had a kid be a "bad guy".  And, I was worried his little sisters would be scared of him.  It didn't seem to phase them, though.  I guess you can't get too scared of a dementor wearing pajama pants :)

 The dentist that works for Rob lives in our neighborhood.  She brought her daughter over to trick-or-treat with Sydney.

Seth's spooky jack-o-lantern

 Earlier in October we went to the local pumpkin patch.  This place is fun because you can rent a firepit.  We cooked tin foil dinners and enjoyed the hay ride, pumpkin launch, gem mine, corn maze, etc.  Next year I think we will eat dinner in the car on the way and use the daylight to play around, then gather around the fire in the dark and roast marshmallows!

What a wonderful Fall!