Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sombrero celebrations!

My nephew Jack's baseball team made the playoffs and we went to watch the nailbiter against the first place team.

I love this picture of Kendra and Big Jack (my brother in law, Jack's, dad).

Some mistakes on the field coupled with bad calls by the umpires resulted in a one point loss.  Sigh.  It was, however, the day before Kendra's birthday and a few days before we were leaving, and we had yet to go to the favorite Mexican restaurant in my sister's town.  So the bummed out boys (Jack and Jack) agreed to go out to eat with us there.  As we discussed it at the field, we said it would be a celebration of the great baseball season and also Kendra's birthday the next day.

So we got in the car, and Kendra told me that she really did NOT want the focus to be on her at all that night.  She felt really bad for Jack and the fact that his team lost, and she wanted the dinner to be a celebration of how hard they worked all season and not be about her.  How great is my kid?  So when we got there, I told Erin that and she smiled and said that was really nice of Kendra.  Luckily, Jack bounced out of his sad mood and we all enjoyed a nice meal.

Me and my cute neph

Erin and Kendra

See?  The mood got much better.  What a ham-bone.

After we ate my sister disappeared for a moment, and when she got back she whispered to me that she arranged for the birthday surprise that this restaurant does for Kendra.  How nice was that?  We were all ready to go and they were taking forever, so Erin diverted Kendra's attention by showing her every single picture on her phone! 

Finally they arrived, and the look on Kendra's face was priceless because she had said she didn't want to have the celebration.  Sadly, I didn't get the shocked look on camera!
The servers bring this ginormous sombrero and sing a birthday song (in Spanish of course), and serve this creamy dessert (I want to say it is Dulce de Leche, but I could be thinking of a totally different culture!)

The funniest part is during part of the song the waiter takes the spoon and dips it in the whipped cream, then he plops it on the birthday girl's nose!

It was a nice surprise for Kendra, thanks to her really nice aunt who didn't want her to miss out on the experience. 

Bronner's Christmas store

Still catching up from our Michigan adventures, and we're home already!

My mom and her husband Troy wanted to have an outing with Kendra and I while we were there, and they gave her some choices.  We originally planned to go to Greenfield Village, which is a neat place that is set up to reinact the way people lived in the 1800's.  The weather was iffy, and it was pretty hot and humid, so we went with our backup plan instead.  Just about 45 minutes north of where my mom lives is a HUMONGOUS Christmas store that is open all year long.  Kendra adores Christmas, and the place was air conditioned, so we headed there. 

This is just a teeny-weeny portion of the store.  They have huge displays all over the place.  When you arrive, they hand you a map because the place is so huge! 

Kendra had to use the Santa Hot Line.  Rumor has it she is asking for a handheld video camera this year...

This is one of Santa's cookies. 

Mom and Troy with the cutest snowman ever!

You have no idea how close I came to buying this one...I took a photo instead.

They have several life sized nativity scenes set up outside.  Kendra has a small collection of nativities already as she loves the Christmas story so much.  The cutest part of this photo is what you don't see...after I took the picture and she got up to get out of it, she kissed her hand and put it on the baby Jesus's head. sweet.

My mom ended up doing some early Christmas shopping, as you can find the most unique items here that you can't find anywhere else.  Very neat place!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Holy Hairbows Batman!

So in the last year, I have made many hair bows for my Kendra with a very easy technique that I found on someone's blog somewhere (sorry I'm not giving proper credit but I can't remember!).  I have them hanging on a length of gros grain ribbon in her bathroom, and when we packed for our Michigan trip, I just grabbed the whole thing and packed it.  On one of our first nights in Michigan, I asked my sister if she had seen my bows before (I didn't remember if I had made some before last year's trip or not), and she looked appalled that I had not shared them with her before!  She has two lovelies, so of course her first thought was, "We gotta make some of those for my house!"  Then a few of Erin's friends got wind of it and wanted in.  Several trips to the crafting stores for ribbon runs and hair clips netted us about 75 bows!!!!!  I went home with a few, Kelly and Erica (E's friends) have a fair number, but my sister's house ended up with FIFTY!!!!  She needed three lengths of ribbon to hold them all!  As my sister took the load upstairs to hook on the wall, she told me that she gave me express permission to ground her two girls next summer if I come back and find a whole bunch of bows missing!  Beware girls:  this is now in writing!!!! 

We did two kinds of bows...the ribbon kind that I learned on the blog, and then we also did silk flower ones that are super easy (just take the flower apart, remove the plastic backing, hot glue all the layers back together and attach a clip--voila!  Pretty!)

My nephew Jack decided to model some for us...

Can't wait to dig this bad boy up when he gets married. 
Oh yeah.

Sprinker fun!!!!

Tessa and Luke came over one night and my mom was running the sprinklers on her lawn.  Of course, the first thought that came to the small people's minds was, "Let's get wet!"  Nobody wanted to go to the trouble of changing into swimsuits, though, so off they went to get sopped in their clothes.  How fun!

Obviously Kendra spent most of her time with her mouth wide open.  Hee hee!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The show must go on (and on and on and on)...

(note:  I got really behind on my posts from our Michigan trip so I'm trying to do multiple postings in one day...scroll down for more if you want to see them!)

My family is pretty musical.  My sister and I sing, my brother in law Jack sings and plays guitar, my brother is an awesome drummer, my dad is a drummer.  So it stands to reason that the kids are pretty musical too.  One of the favorite pastimes of the summer is for the kids to put on "shows" for us.  It helps that my sister's house has a complete band set up (lots of guitars and a drum kit plus several mics) and my mom's house has a drum kit, too.  My nephews, in particular, are very talented musically---the 12 year old is amazing at drums (so much so that he has played in shows with his parent's band on occasion) and the 6 year old stands to possibly bypass the talent of his big brother if he continues on the way he is going!  They are both self-taught percussionists....just a natural sense of rhythm that they were born with, I suppose.  Anyway, the two boys have a little "band" and they have even written several songs themselves.  I just had to post a video I took of them---sorry you can't hear the words to the song very well, but the mic wasn't turned up.  Keep in mind that Jack (on guitar) has never had a lesson in his life on guitar, and Luke is only SIX.  This video is five minutes long...please don't feel like you have to watch all of it (unless you are related to these cuties, of course!)

Early in our visit, my uncle Larry from California was in town with his girlfriend Charlotte.  We had dinner at my mom's house with them and my sister's family, and of course the kids had to put on a show.  The boys played three songs from their playlist.

We had to limit the songs to three last year because they could keep going for HOURS!

After the boys' concert they signed autographs...who knows, they may be famous someday!

LOVIN' the tongue sticking out in concentration!

Then it was the girls's turn.  They found coordinating outfits in Bama's closet and did some singing and dancing for everyone.  Most impressive this year was that they did the songs a capella---no music!  I'm amazed at how these girls can learn all the words to songs so quickly! 

The cutest thing they did was a "raffle" at the beginning of their show. They handed out little slips of paper and we had to put our names on them and put them in a bowl.   The two winners got the honor of being in the last number with the girls...and my mom and Charlotte won! (I personally breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't "win"!)

How cute is that?

Back to the Johnson's house!

Julie made the mistake of giving us an open invitation to come out and see her, the kids, and their animals, so I took her up on it one more time before we left Michigan.    This time, I took my nieces with me and Kendra.  The kids were fascinated by the livestock and asked Julie tons of questions.  They got to help feed the cow and the chickens, give the horses some treats, and we all rode bareback on Gus for a tiny bit.  They even sent us home with six fresh eggs from that morning's gathering, which we had for breakfast the next day!  Delish!  Gotta love those Johnsons!!!

L was kind enough to wrangle a young chicken for the girls to pet.

Gathering hay for Porter the cow (Porter short for Porterhouse.  Hee hee!)

My favorite picture!!!!  Love that cow face!

Charlie got some more lovin'...

Kendra bareback on Gus

Gracie getting her ride.

Tessa's turn.

I took a ride on Gus too, and I will admit that I am not a fan of the bareback feeling.  I definately like the security of having my feet in something to give me some stability.  My niece took some pictures of me but they were pretty unflattering, so I am choosing not to post them !  :-)  Author's perogative!

This is beautiful Kendra with beautiful Cruz (or Cruise...there is a family debate on the spelling!)
Thanks Julie and L for having us out again!  Miss you guys already!

Pool time and power outages

We were invited to a friend of my sister's neighborhood pool for an afternoon.  It was plenty hot in Michigan this summer, so I even got in the pool and tossed the kids around some!  My sister had to leave shortly after we got to the pool as she is working on some master's classes, so it was just me, five kids, and Kelly's family.  Luckily, Kelly and I get along great so we had a really good time chatting and playing with the kids.

My friend Julie handed down this ADORABLE bathing suit to Kendra....had to have a picture of it!

I'm realizing now that this looks a bit like I am not wearing anything!!!  Ugh!  Trust me, there is a bathing suit behind Kendra!  :-)

That night we were at my sister's house after she got back from class and there was a pretty huge thunderstorm.  It was loud/strong enough to warrant Erin and I exchanging looks and motioning to take the kids to the basement to ride it out.  Kendra is terrified of thunderstorms---a phenomenon that has happened since we moved to Texas because Texas storms are usually doozies.  She was pretty scared during this one.  My sister's neighborhood ended up losing power, which is a rare thing since their lines are underground, so we deduced that a transformer must have been hit.  My bro-in-law was out of town for that night so I decided to stay over with Erin and the kids---I wouldn't want to be the lone adult overnight without power so I didn't want her to be either!  We ended up having a pretty good time!  We lit candles, my sister read a story to the kids by flashlight (Sylvester and the Magic Pebble), then they gathered to read another one.   The neighbors across the street brought over some pizza, and then the kids circled up to play a game of telephone.  That was a hoot, let me tell you!  Then it was decided that all five kids wanted to sleep in Erin's room with us, so we made up beds on the floor for everyone and had a campout.  The worst part was that it was still quite warm and we had no air moving, even with the windows open.  Luckily, the power switched back on at around 1 a.m., and Erin and I woke up when it did and went around turning all the light switches off and shutting windows so the air conditioning would work.  Always an adventure when Jack goes out of town for work!!!

Ok, this is the coolest picture, but I did something to my camera that turned it sideways and I can't get it to go back!  I have no idea what I did, and my picture software is very simplistic so I can't get it to rotate.  BUT, since it is a cool picture of the kids reading by flashlight, I hope you will turn your head to see it!!!

My sister reading.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

County fair and rodeo

The Oakland County 4-H fair always happens during one of the weeks we are here, and we had free rodeo tickets so off we went on rodeo night.  We went with my mom, my sister's crew, and good friends of my sister's family, the Kranz family.  We always have the same rule:  the kids get to ride one ride each, and get one carnival treat.  Kendra is not a fan of the rides, so her "ride" is always a carnival game instead.  This year I talked her into a ring toss game.   I'm always seeking out the best value for the buck, and this game was a pretty good deal.  For five bucks, you got to choose a hat filled with rings (I estimate there were around 30 in each hat) and whether you ringed a coke bottle or not, you got to keep the hat.  Lots of tries to win, plus you walked away with something regardless.  So, Kendra chose the sombrero. 

Sadly, she didn't win one of the ginormous stuffed snakes or monkeys that we didn't have room in our house for anyway (whew!) and she looks awfully cute in that hat, don't you think???

Most of my sister's kids chose the ferris wheel, which I would have to say would be my choice as well.  It was hard to get an action shot as they rode by, but I thought this one was pretty neat looking:

They were in the green car at the top at the time, I think!

Next it was off to get treats.  My mom treated the kids to a fair goodie.  Kendra was parched and decided on a blue sno-cone, Grace chose an elephant ear, Jack got a caramel apple, and Luke and Tessa each chose cotton candy.  I also got an elephant ear and was disappointed.  It was thick and tough, and was NOT what I had in mind.  Sigh.

The rodeo was about to start, and luckily we had the foresight to go stake our claim on a prime piece of land before we did rides.  We were in the shade on blankets and the weather was delightful!

Check out the blue lips!

Nice smirk, Jack.

If you noticed, many of us had flowers in our hair.  That is a new project of mine lately---I love that look and it works for short or long hair!  Kendra's sporting one of the bows I've made for her, but my mom, sis, and I all wore flowers that night.

The rodeo was exciting, with the bulls winning the night by keeping all but one cowboy from reaching eight seconds.  Every year they have a shoe race event for the kids at "half time".  They call out the girls first, then the boys race.  The kids leave one of their shoes in a pile at one end of the arena, and the object is to race over and find their shoe, put it back on and race back to the rodeo clown.  The shoes start out in a pile but the rodeo hands toss them helter skelter when the kids start running, so they have no idea where their shoes are!  The girlies were in the restroom and missed their event, but the boys went out.  And guess who won???

Yep, that's my nephew Jack in the white shirt and he overtook that big fella and won!  He got a lasso for his troubles..

Here's the bunch o' kids at the end of the rodeo....

After the rodeo we went to see the animals in the barns.  We visited cows, sheep, goats, poultry, and finally horses.  Another friend of my sis's family was at the fair with their horse doing shows, so we got to visit them and their horse and learn a little more about what it takes to be at the fair and take care of a horse. 

Look at that sweet baby cow....awwww....

We left tired and dusty, but happy from a great time at the fair.