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Monday, February 28, 2011

Penguin Race Mondays

The highlight of Mondays is a little playgroup that I helped organize. The kids are cute and play decently well together... and keep little Cate entertained as well.

I also love trying out new games and projects with the kids. Some days (like today), I'm not as creative (we made an ok name project that I tweaked later)... but we had a room full of balloons and tons of new Thomas trains, so I didn't need to be.

The best part of today was snack time. We had a small group and only boys... and they all wanted to play the Penguin Race while they ate snack. I am AMAZED at how boys are so enthralled just WATCHING the Penguin Race again and again. It continues to be the best toy ever!


Now I just wish they sold extra penguins...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Parisian Fashion

Aunt Elise & Uncle Dan just got back from a trip to Paris. They had a blast shopping for baby clothes and brought Caitlin back a few presents. She wore one of her new dresses to church today... so we had a little photo shoot. She kept pulling up her dress and moving around, so I only got a few shots showing the whole dress.


I loved this picture (even though it was a little blurry), because she was smiling so cutely.


What a lucky little girl to get such cute clothes! Thanks Caffees!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vehicle themed morning

Andrew spent the morning driving around outside in the freezing cold (low 40s is cold for us!).


Cate and I bundled up and went outside to be his little cheerleaders.


Best part of a cul de sac is that he has to come back :) Here he is going to "work at Google"



I loved this evil smile... as he tried to run me over... and kept chasing me


Thanks Caffees for such a fun b-day surprise!

When we were done riding his motorcycle, his bike was done getting put together.


I see many afternoons sitting on the front lawn watching him ride his bide around the cul de sac in my future. Hopefully when it is a little bit warmer :)

Turning 3!!

(Warning: This post contains LOTS of pictures! :))

We LOVE birthdays at our house... so Kevin and I tried really hard to make Andrew's 3rd birthday super special!

We decked out the kitchen with presents and decorations...


When he woke up, he bopped balloons for awhile (he probably would've been OK with just balloons as presents!)


Caitlin loved staring at him


Then we played with his marble run (a Christmas present) that Kevin set up again for his birthday. He accidently knocked it down 2 minutes later... so we moved on to breakfast :)


Chocolate muffins with candles!


The Grandparents gave him loads of new books on his favorite topics so we had a birthday book breakfast. We read and read until my voice was hoarse. He especially loved the books about trash, insects, and the ABCs.


After lots of book reading, playing with balloons, and watching a favorite show or two, we headed up to Blackhawk to the new Studio Grow. We went to the one in Concord last year (which is much bigger)... but the new one by us is a sampling of all the activities at the big studio and still kept us busy for 2 hours... especially the little roller coasters.

Andrew needed a birthday cookie at Draegers, so that was our next stop (and GR Doodlebug- our favorite toy store).


Once we got home we ate lunch (with more birthday candles!!)


and played balloon baseball before quiet time


During quiet time I got Andrew's birthday present Scavenger Hunt ready. Notice the re-used pink bags :) I was kinda lazy and Andrew didn't care one bit!


Caitlin kept herself occupied with a little Baby Einstein tube time (for like 3 minutes which was enough time for me to hide all the presents).


After he played quietly for an hour and a half I couldn't wait any longer... so I got him out of his room and the hunt began! I had fun coming up with clues and was impressed at how well he did.

"Buckets of trains and instruments are “mine,” this is where you’ll find clue number 9." (toy bins)

"Daddy’s tools help and fix, this is where you’ll find clue number 6." (tool cupboard)

"Jump and jump and jump so more, this is where you’ll find clue number 4." (trampoline)


"You turn the wheel and try to drive, this is where you’ll find clue number 5."


I loved it when he "read" the clues himself. The ones he made up were pretty funny.


After all 10 bags were found, we had some play time!



His loot- some stuff from the Grandparents (trains galore!!) and some stuff from us (lots of $1 aisle Target presents I originally bought and wrapped before Cate was born to give to Andrew when I was nursing... I never needed them though bc he always kept himself occupied).


We opened all the trains and had a train party for about an hour. He lined all of them up and tried to pull them around the track together.


Next up was his birthday dinner at Fuddruckers! His favorite part was playing air hockey with Kevin.


Miss Smiley hung out with me and had fun watching!


The birthday boy loves his ketchup!!


The last stop of the night was Toys R Us to pick out his big boy bike with training wheels. It was a tough choice!


But he picked himself a Harley :)


We got home and enjoyed some birthday messages, videos, and a fun present from his cousin Maddie. He LOVED every phone call he got and especially LOVED hearing Maddie, Elise, and Grandpa sing him "Happy Birthday." He got the cutest, happiest smile on his face when he was listening.
Maddie's b-day message
video

He's stoked to try his motorcycle outside soon. He would only ride it for a second and then was concerned that it was too loud for inside the house :) (He's now spent all morning in the frigid cold riding it around the cul de sac!).


We also gave him this pretty awesome bowling game. He can set up the pins himself (my favorite part).


The birthday boy went to bed very very happy! I think he likes being 3! (I would too)

The celebrating will be continuing for the next few weeks (we like "birth month"... instead of birthday) with some birthday parties with friends and a few more presents... and the bowling cake pops I'm going to try and make today. What a lucky kid!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ayyám-i-Há

Last night we went to a little birthday party next door. We brought a present for Andrew's little friend... and came home with more than we gave!

Ayyám-i-Há is a Bahai holiday celebrated at the end of February. It is a gift giving holiday and one where a lot of service is done. As part of the celebration (combined with the b-day party), Andrew got to unwrap this fun gift to take home...


And I got a beautiful flower.


We also thrashed a pinata, so we came home with loads of candy. Kevin and I were pretty proud of Andrew's hard and accurate baseball swing... although it still wasn't hard enough to put a dent in the pinata. I think he's ready for his t-ball practices to start already!

As always, we enjoyed another super night with our fabulous neighbors. We still wonder how we ended up getting so lucky to live next to so many fabulous families!

It isn't all love and happiness on the court though... I'm seriously about to call animal control about the dog owners on our street. I've now talked with both families. I have caught both of them in the act of letting their dogs leave presents on my lawn (and my neighbor's lawn) and not pick anything up!

If you have a dog... please help me understand something...

Here's the scenario- It is raining out of control outside. You take your dog outside to do it's business... why not have it go on your own lawn (and pick stuff up and get back inside quick) instead of taking it to MY lawn. Are you premeditately (not a word? :)) NOT planning to pick it up and that is why you come to my lawn? Does your dog have something against YOUR lawn?

It is one thing if you're on a long walk around the neighborhood... but if you're only walking 1-2 houses over... can't you just let your dog go in your own backyard? Then you wouldn't even have to go outside with it.

One neighbor last night had the gall to say to my face that she ALWAYS picks up after her dog and knows how it feels because she hates it when her dog goes on her lawn (k, but you got a dog, not a cat, so it was inevitable that you would be picking stuff up)... so when I brought up the fact that her dog is on my lawn sometimes (without her around.. she just opens her front door and lets it run wherever it wants)... that's when she went silent for a few minutes and started apologizing... and promising it wouldn't happen again.

I'm hoping I embarrassed the lady enough last night that she'll actual change things... but I doubt it. I'm surprised the teenagers next door haven't egged our house yet bc I totally snapped at them about their dog's business and I think they hate me now.

Anyways, this wasn't meant to be a rant. Dog people, help me out here though. I just don't understand. Cleaning icky dog stuff off toddler shoes (and my shoes) after lots of rain just isn't fun!

Other than that... all is well on the court. :) We love our neighborhood!

Time to hit the sack! Happy Ayyám-i-Há!

Trash turns into a treasure?

Check out how awesome this site is. I always recycle Andrew's art projects after I snap a photo... wouldn't this be a fun way to showcase those photos...or other pictures? Might have to use this to do a photo collage of Caitlin at one year... if I don't forget between now and then :)


Chats


One of my favorite people to chat with on the phone is my dad (and of course Elise and mom too :)). He is one of the most selfless and optimistic people that I know. This afternoon we chatted about one of the recent articles that he sent me... that I really loved. The message was beautiful and related to recent challenges one of his friends has been going through.

If you know about my dad's Parkinsons, then you know he has his own challenges. Yet he wouldn't trade them for someone else's challenges... and he even acknowledges many of the blessings that have come from his disease. Something I think I would have a hard time doing!

My favorite quote in the article is copied below. It is such a great reminder... one that I could use every day... especially since I don't have any major hardships and still tend to focus inwardly too often.

I’m an optimistic person. But for the first time in my life, with all my problems, I focused more and more on me—and it was depressing, literally. Sometimes I just wanted to quit trying to learn and speak and write again and just go into my basement and build furniture. I learned an important lesson from this. I learned that focusing on my own problems does not bring happiness. God didn’t say, “Okay. For those with problems it’s okay to focus on yourself. And for those who don’t have problems, I want you to focus on helping others.” Even in dire times God does not exempt me from his commandment to focus my life on others, because it transforms hardship to joy." - Clayton Christensen

I thought this was a great reminder for a rainy Friday afternoon.

We don't get to "take a pass" or a break just because life might be hard from time to time (or even always hard). There are specific things we are here on Earth to accomplish. If we don't do them... they won't get done. That concept really makes me feel exhausted sometimes... but very blessed as well. Blessed to have the knowledge that my life has a purpose.

Happy Friday! :)

We're off to go on a birthday present scavenger hunt with Andrew! Three year-olds sure make life more joyful than it would be otherwise! When I told him we were doing a hunt after his nap he said, "Oh thank you mom! That is so kind of you!"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bowling and birthdays

Andrew is seriously OBSESSED with bowling. I feel bad for the poor little friends who don't share his passion and have to listen to him talk about it over and over again.

For our fun activity this afternoon we went to a bowling alley and watched kids play. He would've stayed and watched them all. day. long. I am not that patient. We had quite the tantrum as we left the mall. Fortunately my well-behaved almost 3-year-old can scream bloody murder and still be cooperative at the same time. He yelled the entire way to the car and shed big tears... but still followed me, got in his seat, and buckled himself in. I got a lot of smiles from moms as we left...

I think I might win the "Mother of the year" award from Andrew if I figure out how to make these for his birthday tomorrow. I have a lot of leftover white Costco sheet cake pieces... so I may need to see if I can repurpose it to make some cake pops.


I'm not patient when it comes to trying to make new desserts... so we'll see if I even attempt this.

Kevin wanted to try and make a big bowling ball (using last year's cake mold). I vetoed that. We'll see what we end up with tomorrow.

You'll know if I was lazy or not when you see his birthday post later this weekend. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

President's Day in SF

After a fun-filled busy weekend, the Buskirk/Johnson clan woke up bright and early on Monday morning to head to SF for a tour of Alcatraz.


My last trip to "The Rock" is laced with memories of bitter cold and freezing wind and the inability to warm up. I decide not to subject Caitlin to that... especially since she's not really into taking a bottle these days. The thought of nursing in a cold prison cell or on a boat wasn't too appealing :) I was really bummed I missed out on all the Buskirk/Johnson morning fun!

Fortunately, Andrew and Kevin were able to represent the Smithkirks on the President's Day Alcatraz excursion. Andrew loved wandering around the prison with his headset on.


Meanwhile I spent the morning recovering from the weekend and cuddling with my little cutie. I also had a quick breakfast in downtown Danville with the Caffees and Smiths before they headed back to Utah. Caitlin loved having extra time to talk with Aunt Tito & Scott before I headed off for the afternoon in SF. I was hesitant to go since my cell phone wasn't working (LCD screen cracked and I can't see anything, call/text anyone, or even answer calls), but I said a little prayer and hoped I eventually found everyone where they said they would be.

The drive into SF was super quick and I easily met up with the Kevin, Andrew, Shari, and the Johnsons at Boudin Bakery. After they wrapped up lunch, we trekked down to Ghirardelli for some ice cream. Andrew loved sitting at the boys table like a big kid.


...and he was quite a mess afterwards! Covered in strawberry ice cream! He was in heaven!


We wrapped up the day with a drive over to the Golden Gate Bridge and a trip down Lombard Street. When Shauna recovers from this weekend's trip and her work craziness during the next few months, you will probably be able to find pictures of our hike across the bridge here. We walked from the lookout point to the first tower and then back. The view was GORGEOUS! Andrew had a limitless supply of energy stemming from the great examples of his older cousins. They shared their binoculars with him and he loved the "noculars" so much that he even blessed them in his prayers later that night!!

We were all sad when we had to say goodbye to the Buskirks and Johnsons. Andrew threw a little tantrum on the drive home because he wanted to pick up his cousin Ella at the airport. He had loved his drive in the car with her earlier in the day and could not understand why he didn't get to fly to Utah with her!

Fortunately we'll get to spend more time with the Buskirks and Johnsons next weekend at the Vocal Point reunion. Andrew is already counting down the days!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Anniversary to us!

These beautiful flowers came home with my handsome husband on Friday... in addition to a few treats and a cute card.


Happy 5 years to us!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blessing Day

This little cutie was officially given a name and a blessing today.


Afterwards we celebrated!


At least most of the time :)


Lots of family and friends came to cuddle with Caitlin, visit with our family, and enjoy the day with us.


(Today made me realize maybe we should never get living room furniture :) might just cramp our party style)






The kids played together



Scott taught Andrew a few tricks


We attempted to chat with everyone... which in the end made me feel like we never really chatted with anyone... but I feel like sometimes that's how parties go when there are a lot of people. I did manage to run around and snap photos of everyone else chatting with one another though :) So I think people had a fun time.


Caitlin continued being her typical dream baby self and floated from person to person until she needed me to feed her or be put down for a nap.




Later on we got a little more cozy once everyone had been fed and we finally had time to sit down (of course by then most people had left :)).


The boys had a good time playing Kinect. Andrew loved just hanging out with the big kids. They were so cute with him and so kind to play with him and let him have turns.


My cousin Jenny brought her awesome camera and took some Smith clan family photos (we've been trying to get one all together FOREVER).


This was my favorite photo.
Andrew loved Scotter this weekend... even more than normal.
I wonder why? ;)


What a fun special day for such an adorable girl! I feel so blessed to be her mom... and not just cause she lets me sleep at night ;) She just has the most precious and sweet little personality. I just can't get enough of her!


I also love this little kiddo. He had so much fun running around, being crazy, and finding lots of people to give him treats, root beer, and ice cream today.




What a happy day!

We are so grateful for the family and friends that were able to come and share today with us!