Friday, June 25, 2010

Four Generations

Last weekend we went to Mike's dad's house to celebrate Father's Day with Kevin, Cynthia, Katherine, Sam, and Mike's Aunt Bonita and Uncle Dennis, Aunt Rozann, and Mike's grandparents. We had a lovely dinner and a nice time, and although Drew was in a terrible mood when we left the house, he actually was pretty good at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I didn't take my camera, but I did use my phone to get this 4 generation picture, which I think I could title "The Case of the Disappearing Hairlines." Mike does still have hair on top, though with the glare in this picture it almost looks like he doesn't. Even though I remember learning that baldness came from your mother's side, it seems this isn't necessarily the case, as noted by Wikipedia:

It was previously believed that baldness was inherited from the maternal grandfather. While there is some basis for this belief, both parents contribute to their offspring's likelihood of hair loss. Most likely, inheritance is technically "autosomal dominant with mixed penetrance." (

I'd say if you go off of the evidence in this picture, you can see pretty clearly what Zach and Drew will look like about 30, 55, and 85 years from now.......... very distinguished and handsome!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh, Baby!

I think most of the people who read this blog know me personally, but I'm 100% sure, so this news won't really be news to most of you. Mike and I are expecting baby #3 in early December. I am a little over 16 weeks along, which translates to about 3 and half months for those of you not as familiar with the whole "weeks-along" calendar that OB/Gyns and pregnant ladies use these days. So far this pregnancy has been pretty good, though I can tell I'm older than I was the first and even second times that I did this whole pregnancy bit. I'm still doing kickboxing and running, and up until a few weeks ago, when my season ended, I was still playing soccer. So I'm staying active, which feels good most of the time. I'm keeping an eye on my heart rate, because if it gets too high for too long, the baby doesn't get enough oxygen. The first trimester I was really tired, but that seems to be getting a little bit better now. Aside from that, about the only complaints I really have would be the headaches (which may or may not be pregnancy related), and the newly formed varicose veins in the back of my right leg. I'm really not happy about those veins. They're gross looking and sort of tender, and I feel like I'm getting 80 year-old woman legs. The only other tricky thing about right now is that I'm just starting to show (which is definitely earlier than the last 2 pregnancies), and the boys want to be at the pool a lot. Being at this point and in a swim suit just is not ideal. I would like to wear a sign that says, "I don't just need to do more sit-ups; I'm pregnant!" The last couple of days I've felt like a character in a TV show, where they don't want to write in the actress's pregnancy- I've carried around Drew's little basket of toys in front of my stomach like a prop to hide the growing bump. I shouldn't complain, though, because soon enough I'll have a big ol' belly and probably not like that, either.

I started this blog post way back in early April, when we found out that I was pregnant. We found out the day after Easter, and I told Mike just after I arrived at our Monday night kickboxing class, as we were getting started with the workout. That was the first pregnancy test I think I've taken where Mike wasn't right there with me to find out the results, and it was torture to go 5 hours and not tell him or anyone. I told the dogs, because I knew my secret was safe with them, but I didn't want to tell the boys yet. But the dogs just didn't seem that excited about the news, to be honest. We decided to go ahead and tell the boys right away. We knew we'd want to tell our families and closest friends, and we thought it might be hard to keep it from Zach (let's be honest- at age 2, it really doesn't mean much to Drew that Mommy has a baby in her tummy), so we told them that very night or the next night. We figured if I were to miscarry, the boys would notice something was up, so although it might be hard to explain, things in life sometimes are, and we would deal with it if it happened.

So here is what I wrote way back in April, because I wanted to remember some of the things the boys said about the big news:

Monday night I said to Drew, "Drew, do you want to be a big brother?" He said, "Yes!" Then I said, "So Mommy should have a baby?" Drew said, "No thank you. Line McKeen... baby." I said, "Lightning McQueen is your baby?" Drew said, "Yes."

When we told Zach we were going to have another baby, his eyes got big and he said, "Really?" Then after a minute he said, "I think you guys are playing a trick on me." After I told him that instead of having just one little brother, he'd have either two little brothers or one little brother and one little sister. He put his hand on his forehead, got big eyes, and said, "That will be a lot of jobs for me to do!" Bless his heart!

When we got to Curt and Linda's, the idea was that Zach would give them the news. Drew was waiting at the bottom of the front steps saying, "Annuh-er one baby! Annuh-er one baby!"

Wednesday morning I heard Zach say to Drew, "Drew, do you think Mom should have another baby?" Drew said, "Yes!" Zach said, "I do, too." So sweet. Then a minute later I heard Zach say, "Drew, when the baby comes, Mom will have to help the baby a lot, but Zach-Zach will help Drew."

That's all I wrote back then, even though we shared the news with my family and Mike's dad and step-mom. I know everyone was pretty surprised, so that made it fun. It's hard to believe how quickly the first 3 and a half months have flown by, and scary to think about how quickly the next 6 months will fly by. There are still plenty of days where I think, "How on earth am I going to handle 3 kids?!" I guess we're in for an interesting ride! Unlike the first 2 pregnancies, we're not planning on finding out the gender this time, so we will have quite the surprise come delivery day. The first two times I knew I would be happy with healthy babies, although I did sort of want a girl each time. I absolutely adore my boys and love that each of them has a brother, so this time I feel perfectly fine with a third boy or with a little girl. My only hang-ups about having a girl now are:
1. She could be a total girlie-girl, into make-up, princesses, dancing, etc., and that is just not me. I need more of a tomboy, I think. At this point I feel like I know how little boys work, so a little girl would be a switch!
2. She won't have a sister, because this is our last baby, and considering my sisters are my best friends, I'd feel bad that she wouldn't have that connection. However, my brother-in-law Will and his siblings (two brothers and a sister last) seem very close, and they are my sort of go-to example for the kind of relationship I'd like my kids to have if we end up with two boys and a girl. She'd also be the only girl cousin/grandchild on my side (thus far, anyway), so she'd be stuck with 5 older boy cousins/siblings. Maybe that would make her more of a tomboy?
3. If we have another boy, we've got all the clothes and toys we could ever need, so it'd be a lot less expensive. Girl clothes shopping sure would be fun, though!

Either way, I will be happy to have a healthy baby, and I'm looking forward to the surprise and the anticipation. At this point I had one dream that the baby was a boy, but I don't have any real feelings one way or the other.

So that's the latest news. I'm glad to finally be able to publish this blog post and have the news out there.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Whew, I made it!

It has been a while since I've added a post, and you know what that means- this is going to be a long one! There are definitely a lot of pictures in this post, because it's been a busy couple of weeks, which is why I haven't updated anything for a while. I last posted on Zach's birthday, which is the day the whirlwind 2 weeks started. My parents had planned a trip out from Colorado on Zach's birthday, and as a surprise to Zach, they decided to bring along my 4 year-old nephew Cameron. So Zach's birthday was spent getting things ready for Grandma, Grandpa, and Cam to get here. Zach had golf that night, and when we returned, all of the other grandparents were here for some cake and ice cream. We had them take Zach and Drew downstairs as my parents and Cam were set to arrive any minute. Once Grandma Ruth, Grandpa Dick, and Cam had gotten here, we had Zach come upstairs, and we were ready with the video camera to record his reaction to seeing Cam. We were expecting a big reaction, and what we got was, "Oh hi, Cam!" And that was basically it. So future girlfriends/wife of Zach take note- he does not have big reactions to surprises. In fact, I think Drew had more of a reaction to seeing Cam that Zach did, but I only vaguely remember it. I think he was sort of saying, "Hi Cam! Hi Cam!" and hugging him, which was pretty cute.

The boys were wired. For Zach there was the excitement of his birthday, all of his grandparents being here, Cam being here, presents to open, and the fact that he had had a busy day and no nap. The whole present-unwrapping is a complete blur to me, so if I neglect to thank you for something you gave Zach, please forgive me. Here's Zach when he saw the new bike Mike and I got for him.

By the time we were done with the presents it was already about 8:00, and we hadn't even had cake and ice cream yet. The last thing these kids needed was some sugar, but it was Zach's birthday, so we had to have some cupcakes and ice cream.

Somehow we managed to get the boys all in bed by 9:00, which seemed like an amazing feat at the time.

The next day is a bit of a blur. I remember a time-out for Zach and Cam for purposely destroying a toy, and a trip up to the park, with the return trip resulting in Cam falling off of his bike and hitting his head (thankfully he had on a helmet) but otherwise coming away scratch-free. I really can't remember anything else from that day, but from this picture, I vaguely recall some wrestling between Zach and Cam- something they enjoyed a fair amount during their time together.

The next day was a cold, rainy day, so my parents and I took the boys to a place called Trainland, U.S.A., which has a huge model train layout. It's a neat layout, and the boys thought it was fun to push the buttons to make different things light up and move in the layout.

Here are the boys in a little engine before we went inside.

When we finished checking out the massive model layout, we let the boys ride on the little train. They thought that was pretty fun.

The next day was Friday, and my parents, the boys, and I headed up to my sister and brother-in-law's place in Minnesota. Mike couldn't go with because he had to go to Boston for almost a week, so my parents rode in their car and I drove all three boys. That seemed to become a common theme for the weekend/week ahead- Sarah and the little boys. The boys were good in the car, though, so that helped. I think Cam asked about 5 times if we were almost there, but 5 times in 4 hours isn't bad. They watched a movie and were quiet when I had to stop for a quick 5 minute power nap so that I didn't run us off the road by falling asleep.

When we got to my sister's place, my nephew Anders was napping. I quickly got the three other boys lunch and then put Drew down for a nap. While he was napping, my parents and Sandy took Anders, Zach, and Cam to a park to play. I happily stayed back and watched some World Cup soccer with Will, my brother-in-law, and enjoyed the break from the kids.

When Drew got up from his nap, he wasn't sure about Anders. I don't remember exactly how it all unfolded, but Anders probably wanted to see Drew's Lightning McQueen or Thomas or something, and Drew just wasn't ready (and may never be- ugh!) to share those toys, so he was immediately on the defensive.

Here are a couple of pretty funny picture of Anders and Drew that are typical from the weekend.

I love the difference in their facial expressions here. I think these are also typical of their personalities- Anders seems to be a pretty happy-go-lucky, easy-to-please kid, whereas Drew is definitely more moody and particular about things. I wish I could say it's the difference (a whole 6 months) in their age, but I think it's just a fundamental difference in their personalities.

The most hilarious moment of the whole weekend happened that first evening, sometime after Drew woke up from his nap and Anders got back from the park. Drew already was unsure about Anders, but was trying to coexist peacefully. He spotted a little loader he wanted to play with that was sort of near Anders, but Anders was not playing with it. Drew walked over, cautiously keeping an eye on Anders the whole time, and picked up the toy and quickly turned and hightailed it away from Anders. Anders was like a dog taking chase and was right on Drew's heels, chasing Drew from the dining room to the entryway, with Drew screaming the whole way with a terrified look on his face. My dad, Sandy, and I all watched the scene unfold while we were cracking up. You would have thought a monster was chasing Drew and not his 6 month younger cousin. Anyway, Anders chased Drew right into the entryway, where Drew was trapped until he leaned on the front door and fell out onto the porch. Oh, my goodness, it was such a funny moment. I don't know what Drew's deal is with Anders. The last time we were at Anders' house almost a year ago, Drew struggled, too. I guess he's not used to kids younger than him who are interested in his toys or something. Then that night at dinner Anders poured his milk all over Drew's lap. He meant to pour it out, but I don't think he intentionally poured it on Drew, but Drew still was not happy. So the next morning when we went to walk up to the waffle restaurant, I tried to talk Drew into riding in the wagon with Anders, and he said, "No Anders." I am really hopeful he'll grow out of this stage soon and love spending time with Anders as much as Zach loves spending time with Cam.

The weather wasn't great when we were up there, so we had to find some fun indoor things to do. We decided to go to this neat indoor park/play place in Edina. It had a huge climbing/sliding structure that was really awesome. Zach and Cam pretty much immediately disappeared inside and kept themselves entertained, while Sandy and Anders climbed around and Drew and I climbed all over. Drew gets kind of weird about slides and stuff- sometimes he's really brave and sometimes he just doesn't want to try things. So I was definitely surprised by his willingness to go down some of the big slides. It was a really cool place, and someplace that I think we will visit again. After all of the playing, we enjoyed a picnic lunch of sorts indoors.

A really cute picture of a sweaty Zach and Cam enjoying their PB&Js.

Drew enjoying his PB&J.

And Anders enjoying his PB&J. Aren't they all just so cute?

The whole group of boy cousins, minus Myles, who had to stay back in Colorado and miss the fun.

Later that afternoon, after the boys had napped, there was some more property-negotiation going on between Anders and Drew. Anders has 2 VW Beetle cars, and I think Drew had both at first. I told him he had 2 minutes and then he had to give one to Anders. Drew was fine with that, but he gave Anders the one that Anders did not want. So they both wanted the black one. So here's a series of pictures of this whole interaction.

Despite how it looks, I don't think Anders was trying to strangle Drew here. He liked to touch Drew and to poke him (not hard), and Drew just has never been really into people touching him unless he asks them to. That's kind of how Drew rolls- if it's not his idea, he probably doesn't like it. It can be exhausting at times, for sure.

What I thought was the end of the altercation- Anders doesn't look too worse for the wear, but check out Drew's picture below this one.

I think Drew was actually mid-blink here, but boy, does he look pissed off!

After this whole VW incident, we moved over to the rug, and Anders and Drew had a little spat over Lightning McQueen, and Uncle Will ended up taking it away from both boys and putting it up where they couldn't reach it, and boy, did that upset Drew. It was a rough time for those guys.

That night we had dinner and delicious chocolate cake, and then Zach got to open his birthday present from Aunt Sandy, Uncle Will, and Anders. He got this awesome pirate book and a headlamp, which he has loved playing with!

The next day was a little gloomy, too, so we let Grandpa Dick and Uncle will go to the flea market on their own, and Grandma Ruth, Aunt Sandy, and I stayed home with the boys and had some play time and some blueberry coffee cake. I got these super cute pictures of Zach and Anders. I especially love how Anders looks in the second picture. I could eat him up! I'm not sure what Zach's doing in that second picture.

We decided to head over to a construction zone a few blocks over. They liked checking out the big pipes

and the giant excavator.

We headed home for lunch and then the 3 boys and I hit the road. We had to get back home because Zach had swim lessons starting the next day. My parents decided to stay up in Minnesota for a few more days to spend time with Sandy, Will, and Anders, and to see some other family and friends. The whole weekend I got to sleep upstairs with all 4 little boys, and then I got to drive home with Zach, Cam, and Drew, for a few days on my own with the 3 of them, so the trend of Sarah and the little boys continued. Thankfully the boys did really well in the car on the way home- they all took good naps and then watched a show and were great. We stopped to pick up my dogs at Grandpa Kevin and Grandma Cynthia's house and ended up going to dinner with them and Aunt Katherine and Sam, so that was nice.

Monday morning started off with some excitement. We have one empty lot left on our street- 4 lots up from us, and somebody has finally decided to build on it. So at about 8:00 we could hear the excavator getting started, so we hurried up the street to see the action up close, still in our PJs.

It had obviously rained a ton while we were gone, so this excavator was scooping all the water out of the hole that will become the basement of this house. It was pretty interesting to watch.

Monday we also went to a fun indoor play place (it was kind of rainy), swim lessons (not too rainy, I guess), and played at home. Zach and Cam both napped, which surprised me, but I think they were wearing each other out. While Zach went to golf Monday night, Drew and Cam went to the grocery store with me, and were very good. Cam loved to help put groceries in the cart, and the grocery shopping was actually fun!

Tuesday we hit up the library and went to swim lessons again, and at about lunch time, I realized that Drew had a 104 degree fever. Yikes. I called my sister Sandy, and she told me they got a note from Anders' daycare saying that Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease was going around, which was something I had already suspected because of Drew's super high fever. So we pretty much hung out at home the rest of the afternoon/evening.

On Wednesday Drew's fever was down to 100, which was a good sign. But at breakfast, Cam told me his forehead hurt. My sister Becky called me to chat that morning, and while we were talking, Cam and Zach disappeared upstairs and were suddenly very quiet. I went up there to see what the damage was, and there they were, in the guest room, Cam laying on the bed holding a stuffed animal, and Zach was talking and showing him toys and stuff. I was immediately suspicious, so I handed Cam my phone so he could talk to his mom, and I went and got the thermometer. Sure enough, Cam's temp was 103. Oh boy. So I had a couple of sick boys, and one who was hundreds of miles away from his mom and dad. I called Mike's mom and thankfully she was able to come over to stay with Drew and Cam while I took Zach to swim lessons. The ibuprofen I gave Cam helped bring his temp down and his spirits up, so he was in a happier mood around lunch time. I was just getting Zach and Cam down for their nap when Grandma Ruth, Grandpa Dick, and their dog Sadie got there. My dad and I went out to run some errands, and when we got home, this is what we found on the couch.

Apparently when Drew woke up from his nap, he didn't want to go with Grandma Ruth, but she talked him into it by promising he could keep his puppy with him. So they went down and sat on the couch and snuggled, and the next thing my mom knew, Drew was back asleep. They sat and snuggled for a while, and then she laid him down on the couch. I woke him up after my dad and I got back, and he wasn't too happy with me for that, but it was going on 5:00, so I didn't think he should sleep much longer. He had a slight fever again, but after dinner all three boys had lots of fun playing together, and I got a much needed solo trip to the grocery store. It was at times exhausting to be the only adult with a 5 year-old, a 4 year-old, and a 2 year-old, but overall, they were good boys and I survived.

That day was mine and Mike's 9th anniversary, and it was kind of a bummer that he was still in Boston. He was set to return Thursday evening. I got some lovely roses from him that day, and then that night he called and said that he had arranged for a surprise to be waiting for me on the front porch, so I went to check, and there he was! His meetings got done early and he was able to change his flight and come home a night early. What a great surprise!

Thursday was my day of appointments, starting with the vet at 8:00 and a haircut at 9:00, followed by a trip to Costco. Mike and my parents too the boys to the pool, and I met them there at lunch time. We enjoyed a lot of fun playing in the water and we were so thankful that the boys were all feeling better. That afternoon Zach had his 5 year check-up, and Mike and I were both able to go with him. He was definitely very nervous about getting his shots- four shots and a finger prick, but he did an amazing job and did not shed one tear. We weren't too surprised to hear that he's just a little guy- 38 lbs. 4 oz. (32nd percentile) and 41.8 inches tall (26th percentile). His BMI is 15.5 (51st percentile), though, so I guess he's average there. A kid has to be at least 4 years old and 40 pounds to ride in a booster seat, so I guess it will be a little while before Zach gets out of his car seat. The kid is eating a ton lately, though, so maybe he's in the midst of a growth spurt.

Thursday night Zach had his first t-ball game, and that was fun to go to. Unfortunately I forgot the camera, so I had to use my phone to take this picture of him at bat.

Friday morning it was time for Grandma Ruth, Grandpa Dick, Cam, and Sadie to head back to Colorado. Grandpa and I wanted to take a picture of the boys, and Zach and Cam were more than willing. Drew wasn't so happy when I made him sit on the couch for the picture. Hence, the face.

We were sad to see everybody go. Zach was definitely very bummed- he always is when we part ways with family members we don't get to see often enough. He had told me at one point during the week that Cam coming was the best surprise and the best birthday present he had gotten. How sweet. They definitely had a lot of fun together, even if the novelty was wearing off by the end of the 10 day period. Even though I was looking forward to life returning to normal and to some extra quiet, I still got choked up when they left. I think a big part of that for me is seeing how sad Zach gets. It really breaks my heart and makes me feel bad that we don't live closer.

Thanks, Mom, Dad, and Cam, for making the trip out here! We had so much fun! Thanks, Dad, for working on our storm door and for hanging the leaded glass window in my bathroom. And thank you, also, to Sandy, Will, and Anders, for letting us invade your space for the weekend. That was a lot of fun, too. I had looked forward to and anticipated this visit for such a long time, so it's definitely kind of a bummer that it's over now. Time to start planning our next trip to Colorado, I guess!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Five Fun Years

Zach turned five today, and although during parts of the day I was definitely about at my wit's end with him, I'd have to say it's been a pretty great five years. Like I do every year, I have to do a little recap of the last six June 8ths.

Here's June 8, 2005, somewhere after 10:05 p.m., when Zach was born. It was a long labor and had some minor complications, which I was mostly oblivious to until I watched the video years later. Anyway, here's our first family photo.

And the first time Mike held his son. Who knew at the time that in just a few years people would say all the time how much Zach is his dad's spitting image?

One year later- with a few curls and chubby cheeks. So cute.

Zach's second birthday party, and a big boy haircut. It's hard now to look at this picture now and not see Drew.

Zach's third birthday and his first big boy bike. He looks so little on this bike now, but it got him through a couple of years and got him out of training wheels a couple of months ago.

This was at his party last year, when he turned four.

And here's the birthday boy today. We didn't really get a great picture of him looking at the camera, but these will do. The first one is the picture I got as Zach first saw the new bike Mike and I got him. He was excited about it for about 20 seconds and then was on to the next thing. I think he'll like it once he gets out and rides it, though.

I'm just amazed at how much older Zach looks today than he did a year ago. I know that's kind of a duh statement- of course he looks older- he's aged a year!- but still, it's one of those things that you don't notice in the day-to-day dealings with your child, and then you look at a picture and realize how much your child has changed. It's the same thing when I look at that picture of Mike and me in the first 2 pictures of this post, especially Mike. My, how he's aged in 5 years!

Anyway, here he is, my no-longer-a-toddler, five year-old Zach. Love that kid.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Very Pirate Birthday

Saturday we had Zach's birthday party. The past couple of years we have had Zach's party "off-site"- that is somewhere other than our house, so that there was less clean-up and preparation. This year I wanted the party very small- I told Zach he could invite 4 friends. I was hoping to find a play place with open play time, where we could just pay for Zach and his friends to get in, do lunch either there or somewhere else, and be done with it. However, that apparently wasn't in the cards, because there was only one place with open play time, and I really didn't want to go there. So instead I took a deep breath and suggested having a pirate party at home. Zach loved the idea, so we went with it. I got a few ideas online and then started planning. It was a fair amount of work to plan it, but nothing excessive, and it was fun.

We were all excited when the big day arrived. I decided that it'd be a lot more fun if Mike and I got in on the dress-up action just a little. That meant I didn't have to wash my hair (or shower, for that matter) the morning of the party, which was fine by me!

Zach and Drew did a little pre-party cuddling. Drew chose not to dress up as a pirate, which surprised me a little because he usually loves putting on his pirate costume, especially if Zach is wearing his costume.

I didn't want to go crazy on decorations, so I opted not to buy a bunch of balloons or do a lot of streamers or anything. I'm just a low-key kind of gal. I did get this big door thing, though, and Zach thought that was pretty cool.

The kids pretty much all got here within a few minutes of each other, and as they arrived, they came right into the dining room, where I applied a pirate tattoo, a head wrap, and an eye-patch, and Zach handed each child a foam sword. The boys promptly took to sword-fighting and were off. At one point while they were still just arriving, they were all chasing Drew, which was fine until they sort of got him in the face, and then he was done with that.

So I had told Zach he could invite 4 friends, from preschool, play group, our church group, or other friends, and he chose 4 from preschool- 3 boys and 1 girl. I didn't want the lone girl to feel weird with all those boys, especially at a pirate-themed party, so I told Zach he could invite one more girl. That was a pretty easy choice for him, and at first, all 5 kids were all coming. The day before the party, however, one of the girls canceled. So when Sydney, the lone girl, showed up to the party, I felt bad. And she was very shy at first, even though she knew all these boys from preschool. They were all totally engaged in sword-fighting right away, and I think it was a little overwhelming for Sydney, so she stayed upstairs and did puzzles with Mike and Drew. After a while it was time for the boys to come upstairs to decorate their telescopes, and that was the perfect activity to get Sydney comfortable with all the boys.

Here are the kids decorating their telescopes. I spray-painted paper-towel rolls black, and used sparkly gold stickers to put each child's name on his telescope. Then the kids applied pirate stickers and yellow cellophane to the end. The only problem was that the stickers for some reason have not been sticking very well. Some of them stuck better than others, but most of them sort of came up around the edges. The kids didn't seem bothered by it, so whatever.

After the telescope-decorating, the kids went back downstairs for more sword action. Those $1 foam swords I got at Target were a huge hit. This time even Sydney joined the boys and seemed to have a great time. Zach has just adored Sydney since they started preschool together 2 years ago, and I definitely witnessed him including her, so hopefully she felt ok about things.

Then it was time for a game. This was essentially pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, but it was a treasure map and the goal was to put the flag on the X. Zach went first and clearly couldn't see and didn't attempt to cheat.

Zach picked Sydney to go next, and I don't know if she could see or not, but she got her flag right exactly on that X. The next kid was pretty close, too, then one was off a little, and then the final child to go, who had shed a few tears about being last, obviously cheated. It was hilarious. You could see him walking towards the right side of the door, then lifted his head up, turned, and put his flag exactly on Sydney's flag. He probably should work on his subtlety if he wants a career in politics or anything.

As the game ended, the oven timer beeped, letting us know that lunch was ready. The original plan was to order pizza and have watermelon and lemonade, but the day before the party while at Target, Zach noticed a box of corn dogs in the freezer section and decided that was what he wanted for his party, and I was fine with that. I figured it was probably a lot cheaper than ordering pizza! Only one kid (the one who cheated so obviously at the game) didn't like corn dogs, so Mike made him a PB & J instead, and he was happy with that. Zach was more than happy to eat the leftover corn dog, too, so it was a win-win situation.

The kids finished their lunches and it was time for cake. Just like last year, Zach wanted a chocolate cake with cherry frosting. He also wanted it to have a skull and crossbones on it, and for a while I really struggled with how I would do that, because Zach does not like white frosting. At first I bought this black spray that you spray on frosting, and I planned on making a skull and crossbones stencil and putting it on the cake, and then spraying the rest of the cake black, but that would have made the skull and crossbones pink, since cherry frosting is pink. Then my mom suggested cream cheese frosting, and I knew Zach liked that, so I dyed the pink frosting black (I did not use the spray- that whole thing kind of weirded me out), made a batch of cream cheese frosting, and piped it onto the cake in the shape of a skull and crossbones. I had wanted to put teeth in the mouth to make it more real, but I just couldn't see how I could do that without running a huge risk of totally screwing the whole thing up, so I decided to just leave it. The cake decoration was nothing to put in a magazine or anything, but it was good enough for a bunch of 5 year-olds!

I like this next picture because you can see that Zach is either really excited or taking a big breath so he can blow out the candles. I think it's the latter, since he'd already seen the finished cake.

Cherry frosting is one of those flavors that I think you sort of either love or hate. Mike hates it; Zach and I love it. I wasn't sure how it would go over with the kids, especially if they saw the dark color and expected chocolate. However, everybody but one kid ate all their cake, so I'd say they didn't mind the frosting. Drew definitely liked it and took his sweet time eating it, sitting at the table long after the big kids had moved on to presents.

The kids were all excited about Zach's presents. I think these boys played Star Wars every day at preschool, so of course there were various Star Wars toys.

One of Zach's favorite gifts was this new light saber he got from Caleb. The thing that cracks me up is that Zach has a light saber that was a hand-me-down gift from some friends of ours, and it lights up and makes the light saber noise and everything, but he is always more enamored with the plain, plastic light sabers that don't light up and don't make noise. It seems so backwards to me.

He also got a neat Buzz Lightyear sprinkler thing, and a neat Lego fire engine kit. He is enjoying his new gifts a lot. Now we need to get to the thank-you notes!

I like this picture because you can see how excited the kids are about whatever Zach's opening, and you can see Drew still eating his cake in the background. That was actually probably a blessing, since he might have wanted to help open the presents more than Zach was willing to allow.

About a week before the party, I made up a tentative timeline, just to see if I had enough activities planned. It wasn't a strict schedule, of course, but it was just a guide for me to help things move along. I could not believe it when it was 12:15, and the kids were sitting down to lunch, and I looked at the timeline, which said, "12:15-12:40- Lunch & Cake." I was just amazed that for the most part, things took the amount of time that I thought they would.

The last activity I had planned was a treasure hunt, and the idea was to get the kids outside, running around to find the clues, and end up at the front door with their little basket of party favors hidden in a treasure chest. This was definitely the activity Zach was most excited about going into the party, and thankfully, it didn't disappoint. The kids LOVED it, and it went so smoothly. Each kid was able to find one at least one clue, and it was just fun. It was probably my favorite part of the party, too, and the part that (aside from the cake, maybe) I put the most time and effort into. I had 8 different clues hidden around our front and back yards, with two in two different neighbor's yards. I used pirate jargon and made the clues rhyme and tried to make them not too difficult. Here are all the clues laid out on the counter.

The first clue was by the grill, and it sent the kids to look around the slide. I love Zach's running stance in this picture.

Another clue sent the kids to the hose.

The last clue was in Zach's jeep in the garage, and it sent the kids to the front porch, where the treasure was waiting. The treasure box contained 6 gold Chinese take-out boxes with beads, gold and silver coins, bold bracelets, plastic rings, a couple of pirate-themed party toys, and gold wrapped candy like Rolos and Hershey's Treasures. I looked high and low for chocolate coins, but could not find them. One clerk at a mall candy store told me to check Chocolaterie Stam, which is a fancy chocolate place here, but I knew I was not going to spend that much money on a party favor! The kids loved their loot, and the parents had just arrived, so it was perfect timing!

Unfortunately, one child had to leave a few minutes early, so he didn't get to participate in the treasure hunt, which was a bummer. I gave him his treasure as he left, but I still felt bad. And we didn't get a good group picture while he was there, but this is the rest of the gang.

I was definitely pleasantly surprised by how the whole party went. It was a lot more fun and a lot less stress than I expected. Zach and the other kids all seemed to have a blast, which was the main objective, and it just was really a good experience. I was sure to save all the decorations and games in case Drew wants a pirate party in a few years.

I can't believe my little boy will be five tomorrow!