Friday, June 22, 2012

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Birthday Party

Where the last year went is beyond me! But there I was last week decorating our new home for a birthday party for our three girls who celebrate their birthdays in May and July. While we do a mini celebration on each individual birthday, we also have chosen to do a joint birthday party for all three girls with our close friends and family.

Every year I have said that this is the year for the last birthday party, and last year was no different. I swore to Chris that I would not do a big birthday this year. Then we bought a house and we wanted to show all our friends and family our new home. We also figured that starting next year, Zoelle is probably ready for a friend party, so we thought we would do this last celebration of all three together.

The birthday invitation!

Sometime shorty after last year's Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday party, I realized how much I loved doing a book party and wanted to do one again. Thus, I picked another one of our favorite books, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and started designing the party after it.

I tried finding some ideas on Pinterest for parties, but they all went way above and beyond what we had the money and time to do. Thus, the week of the party, the girls and I went to the dollar store to stock up on hot pink and orange decorations. We also ended up finding little palm tree straws. The other decorations I ended up making myself just using empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes and decorating them with lower case foam letter stickers I found at the store. I also put those decorations as center pieces for the tables with the foam letters surrounding them on the tables.

I found someone who made custom Chicka Chicka Boom Boom outfits, but when it came down to it, I couldn't justify the price. I was a bit bummed and then I happened to be at Target one night and there just happened to be three dresses in the hot pink/orange color combo in their sizes. I decided to go for it and the second I put them on, I was happy I bought them and didn't spend more money. After all, they look adorable in them!

I had this elaborate plan to make the girls cupcakes with fondant lower case letters on each cupcake. That was before we moved! All of a sudden, a week before the party started, I realized that I hadn't figured out how I was going to make cupcakes or more importantly, do the fondant letters on top. So in a rush, I called my husband to call our local city bakery to see if they could make them. They did and I'll admit, at first I was surprised at how tiny the fondant lower case letter was on top.

 I wasn't quite picturing that in my head. However, once I saw them altogether, I realized how awesome they looked and it sure beat the time and money it would have taken me to do it. Each girl got her own cupcake with her first letter of her name on it.

In the end, none of the little things matter. Instead, we just were together as a family, enjoying this special day with our three girls who somehow are getting older even though we don't want them to. We were a family, chicka chicka boom boom party and all. Love you girls! Hope you enjoyed your special day!

Two of our little ones didn't want to smile..sigh. :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reading Eggs Review

Reading Eggs is an Online Learn to Read program geared towards children ages 4 to 7 years old. With 120 lessons filled with vocabulary, comprehension, spelling, and grammar, this reading program is not only educational, but also comprehensive and fulfilling for both the adult and child.

Zoelle has been reading since she was three years old. It started very slowly with our BOB books and it grew this year thanks to our Heart of Dakota homeschool curriculum. When I was approached to do a review on Reading Eggs, I was very excited to give Zoelle another option to read. She literally soaks up reading and any chance she can get, she has a book in her hands. I was a bit nervous to see if she would mind reading on a computer screen, or even if she (or I) would feel that it was a bit too much like a game. However, I was pleasantly impressed as she went through her very first lesson, that it was fun but still educational.

When I sat down to write this review, I asked her what she thought about Reading Eggs and she told me, "It is fun and I learn from it. I learn to read new words." I would definitely agree with her. Another bonus for me, is that I can hand Zoelle my computer and know that she can do this program on her own. It makes for a great addition to our day, or even just for some downtime.

One of the fun parts of the program for me, is that it shows me what level Zoelle is at in reading based off of how well she has done in each activity. This provides me with a bit of a guide when going to the library each week to pick out her books.

If you are interested in trying Reading Eggs for yourself, make sure you check out the free 14 day trial they offer! Then, if you are like me, and you love what you get, sign up for more at a super reasonable price! I don't think you will regret it!

*The featured product(s) in this post were provided for me by the company. I was not compensated in any way. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Love You More {Book Review}

With no Internet at home until just this past weekend (yes, we finally got hooked up, but no I'm still not on very much), I have had more time to read. Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter was a book I actually signed up to review quite some time ago. However, I didn't have the correct cord to connect my Kindle Fire to my computer so it had taken me awhile to even download it. Finally, I got it downloaded and I was SO happy to have read this book.

Honestly, this book is one of the best adoption books I have ever read! Jennifer Grant is the biological mom to three and shares the joys, hardship, and journey of adopting her 4th child, a daughter. She does it all with a refreshing honesty about adoption that I believe is hard to find. Throughout the book is a sprinkling of humor that made me want to keep reading page after page.

As an adoptive mama, I thought that perhaps I had read all the books I needed to read in regards to adoption. It wasn't until I read this book, that I realized how very wrong I was. This is not a book that you should only read before the adoption journey (although I do think it would be helpful), rather this book is full of wisdom for after the journey as well.

I found myself highlighting several quotes throughout the book, in order that I could go back and re-read them and learn from them. Many of them I could relate to and understand, but this quote spoke to me for where we are at right now:

"I couldn't have foreseen that adopting my daughter would require her to experience a very real loss and that this loss would remain with her, and with me. Sometimes that loss would be as innocuous as a book on a shelf, sometimes as heartening as a conversation among old friends, and sometimes as violent as a crash of lightning."

If you are considering adopting at all, or if you have adopted, or even if you know someone who adopted, I highly would suggest for you to read this book. It will be well worth your time and leave you wiping away the tears with a smile on your face!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from I was not obligated to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Bit of a Break

Late last night we got home from a 4 day camping trip. It is our very first one of the summer, with many more to come. Have I mentioned before how much I love summer? Because I do, and camping is just one of those reasons.

Zoelle loved the monkey bars at the campground playground.

 As the girls get older, camping has become much easier. In fact on this trip, with the exception of one night where Xiomara was up for a few hours wanting to play with me, the girls all slept great. The hardest part of camping trips is trying to fit in naps. Zoelle pretty much doesn’t nap anymore, but the other girls do. Since we have a Pop Up Camper, it is a bit hard to get Meridian to nap. So this weekend, I didn’t even attempt to try, and instead let her take a rest time or play quietly during nap. Xiomara did nap, but they were short because the camper is a bit brighter and louder in there than her typical bedroom. The girls end up being a bit more tired than usual because of missed naps and staying up later. But it is all worth it for the experience of camping and building up another block of family memories.

Proud auntie Nessa with my niece India

This trip included my parents, younger siblings, and older sister’s family. We also got to see some extended family including my Grandma which is bittersweet since my Grandpa’s passing. It just doesn’t ever seem the same without him.

On our way home, we decided to visit the Minnesota Zoo. Maybe a bad idea for an 80 degree, bright sunny day, but hey, we are trying to build up more family memories. J While it was extremely crowded, I am so glad that we went! The animals have huge enclosures, so you don’t get to see them up close very often, but the Minnesota Zoo has a wonderful indoor area, and those animals tend to be more up close and personal. I also found the long walks outside to be beautiful and relaxing. The girls had a favorite part though that had nothing to do with animals. That would be the splash pad! If I had to do it over again, I would spend a lot more time there. We wanted to ride the monorail, so we hurried at the splash pad, but it ended up that the monorail was a bit boring, and not really worth our time or money. So next time, I would definitely spend more time at the splash pad.

Meridian the fish!

In my almost 3 years of blogging, I have never once taken a blogging break/Internet break, etc. However, with no Internet at home, I had no choice. Outside of a few quick log ins at my parents, or free Wi-Fi in town, or the little bit I can do on my phone, I have been Internet free for over 3 weeks now. In fact, even my blog posts are written in Microsoft Word ahead of time, and then I just quickly upload them when I find Internet access and then I’m on my way. This “break” has been different for me. It has been some of the most enjoyable times with my girls and our family. I find that I don’t really miss Internet at all. The only reason I say it has been different is that at the same time we have no Internet, I have also had next to no cell phone reception, no cable TV (which we have never had anyway), and we moved 10 miles out in the country. It feels different for me to be this disconnected from the world around me. However, this weekend, while staring at my three girls, I realized, this is the world around me. Our family is all that truly matters to me and that these three weeks have been incredibly sweet for me and I hope for them as well. We did manage to find a cell phone company who provides great reliable service and the plan is to possibly get Internet within the next few weeks. However, my plan is to stay as disconnected as possible. For some time before moving, I felt God telling me to put my computer away, and to focus on them. However, I kept finding myself telling them and myself, “Just one more minute”, yet that minute would turn into 5, and that 5 minutes, into a half hour. Before I knew it, I just wasted an hour of my time on something that doesn’t matter.

So here I am blogging out how a simple camping trip and zoo visit reminded me once again on how family is all that matters in life. How this is the only time they will be 5, 3, and 1 and I don’t want to miss it. So please, do me a favor and hold me accountable ok? I still plan on blogging as most of that is done at night when everyone is in bed. I just don’t plan on spending as much time reading and researching other blogs, news story, etc. Because when it is all said and done, these girls aren’t worth missing.

Have you ever felt it was time to take an Internet break? Blogging break? What caused you to realize that?