Monday, April 18, 2011

S's Birthday Party

S was wild to have a birthday party with friends this year, so I decided to throw her one. I thought it would be more fun than the video game parties that M favors, or just 'hanging out' parties, like K wants.

We invited a couple friends from girl scouts, and a couple friends from school.

While we waited for everyone to arrive, I had the girls play outside. The chickens were a HUGE hit. When everyone who was going to get there, I let the girls each make a treasure box- I found these little wooden boxes at Dollar Tree, and bought some plastic jewels. I spray painted each box metallic gold ahead of time, and then let the girls glue the jewels on.
Here's a finished box that S made:

Then, I let the girls make their own homemade pizza. Earlier that day, I made the pizza dough, formed the crusts, then baked them, so that they would be finished quickly. I put out all of the toppings, and let the girls build their own pizza.

They asked to eat outside. Since that sounded a lot less messy, I was all over that. I had J take the girls outside while I finished things up inside. When I came outside, this is what I saw:

The girls would toss grass in to the chickens, then scream and squeal when the chickens ate it. They considered it to be dinner theater, I guess.
Then, we came inside and S opened her presents. She was thrilled with everything she got.

Last, I made a batch of buttercream frosting, and dyed it several different colors (the girls told me which colors to make). I put the frosting in a few decorating tubes, and let the girls decorate their cupcake.

Which brings me to the cupcakes. Ooooh, the cupcakes. If you know me at all, you know I am a SUCKER for anything crazy colored. I read about these rainbow cupcakes online, and just HAD to make them. I made a batch of vanilla cake batter. Divided it out, and then colored each section a different color- red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. I then put a spoonful
of each color in each cupcake paper. Baked as usual. Aren't they marvelous?!
After I posted this, K got mad because I didn't take a picture and post the treasure box that SHE made. So, here is her box. It really is lovely.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Z's birthday and Spring Break

We ended up celebrating Z's birthday on the day before his actual birthday. He asked for a truck cake. Oh dear. That sounds deceptively easy. I knew it would never live up to his expectations because of his attention to detail.

I decided to give it a shot, and sure enough, it was awful. I would say it was worthy of cake wrecks, except that it was SO bad, it would be obvious it was a home cook, and not a professional's cake at all.

We got him a couple of Wii games and clothes for his birthday, and he was really tickled. He also got a Buzz Lightyear sleeping bag, which he has insisted on sleeping in every night, even though it's made him break out in a rash. I've washed it, but so far, no go.

On Z's actual birthday, we spent most of the day driving. J and M were going on the annual MAN ATV TRIP. We had all week off school, and I wanted to do something fun too. I decided to drive to Yakima, WA, to visit my friend Amy, who was one of my very best friends in junior high and high school.

On the way up, we stopped for lunch in Boise, where we had lunch with my friend Shelley. Shelley and I were pregnant with our oldest kids together. We met on a pregnancy expecting board and have been friends ever since. We were even featured in Parenting Magazine back in 1999 when our group had a reunion in Florida. It was great to see her again.

We got to Yakima just after dinner. Amy's kids met us before we even got out of the car. What an amazing welcome!

We had a wonderful week together. Amy and her husband, Tony, own a dance studio, which also offers singing lessons, and also recently opened a theater in the round. It was so neat to see their business, and see them living their dream. I was genuinely thrilled to see their success, and I am so proud of them!

Amy arranged for S to take a dance lesson with her daughter, who is the same age. S was so tickled to wear her dance outfit that Amy gave her, and take the class.
I know this is weird, but I love to go to the grocery store when I'm on vacation. I like to see how the store is different from my local stores. I was tickled with the Yakima grocery store because their wine selection (wait, what? Wine in the grocery store?! We don't have that in Utah!) was bigger in that one grocery store than we have in the entire liquor store. Yakima is surrounded by wineries and hops fields, so it makes sense there would be a large selection of local products.

It was tough to leave. We had such a fun week. It was fun to play house with an old friend, and take care of our kids together. Her kids are amazing and fun, and got along so well with mine. However, we did have to get home, so we got ready to leave a few days later. That last morning, there had been frost danger, so a local orchard had sprayed their trees with water to protect them. It was absolutely stunning.
The drive home seemed to take twice as long as the drive there. Isn't that the way it always goes? We didn't get home til nearly midnight. We had nice weather until the last hour. The last hour we were driving in snow, but the roads were ok.

I can easily say it was the funnest spring break I've ever had.

a new chicken

Since Lucy, my Black Copper Marans, has only laid two eggs since Sept 1 (and the last one was in early November), I've been contemplating replacing her. The problem is, you can't get just one chick. Chickens are flock animals and typically don't do well if raised alone. However, I didn't want more than one chicken.

I'd been mulling over this problem for a few weeks, when in mid March, my neighbor called me excitedly. My chicken fever had spread, and she's bought eight Rhode Island Red chicks. I was thrilled for her, but a plot immediately hatched (ha ha ha).

I asked her if she would be willing to "foster" a chick for me, so that I could get another chicken, and only ONE more chicken. I offered to buy a 50 lb bag of starter feed, as well as a small bag of medicated feed, since one of her chicks seemed to need the medication.

I found a local breeder who was selling Black Copper Marans chicks that were about the same age as my neighbor's chicks. I picked out an adorable chick that looked to be a couple days older than the neighbor's chicks. I suspect she/he was hatched on 3/12 or 3/13. The breeder isn't able to sex for gender, but she was trying an experiment this year. I picked out a chick that we both suspected were pullets.
Here's the chick at 5 days old, give or take.

Initially, I was going to name her Suzie, after the breeder. However, my neighbor has called the chick "Foster". Since I worry (ok, obsess) that this chick is actually a cockerel, Foster seems to be sticking.

Foster is now almost 5 weeks old. I'm still really hoping that it's a pullet, but I'm just not sure. If it's a rooster, I've kind of decided it's not the end of the world. Roosters really are gorgeous, much prettier than hens. It would also give me the opportunity to hatch eggs- a Copper Marans Rooster with an Easter Egger hen could make some cool offspring, particularly their egg color.

Unfortunately, chickens get really, really ugly once they lose their fuzz, but before they're grown up. I've said that Foster looks like a velociraptor that has been drizzled in honey, then dipped in feathers.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools' Day 2011

Every year, I tell the kids we're moving to a foreign country as an April Fools' Day joke, and every year, they believe me. I almost didn't do it this year, because it seemed like such a tired joke, but they bought it. Again.

My big joke for 2011 was the following surprise the kids got when they went to collect eggs:

They thought it was very, very funny.