Sunday, July 15, 2012

Katherine's Bridal Shower

A week after my family all left town, I had the honor of hosting a bridal shower for Mike's little sister Katherine.  She and her fiancé Sam are getting married in just under a week!

One of the cool things about the shower date, in my opinion, was that it was on mine and Mike's 11th anniversary, so 11 years since Katherine and I "officially" became family.  I dug up this cute picture of Katherine and Mike from our wedding.

They both look so young, don't they?!

Katherine's almost-sister-in-law (married to Sam's brother) helped me with the shower.  Here's a shot of almost the whole group shortly after everyone arrived.  I think we had about 15 people in all.

I have never hosted a bridal shower before, and it's been many years since I've been to one, so I wasn't sure how many games to play or how the timeline of event should look.  As people arrived, I told them to cut a piece of ribbon, and I was pretty coy about how long it should be, saying, "Just however much you think you'll need."  I also asked people to take a recipe card that matched the invitations and to think up their "Recipe for a Good Marriage" for Katherine and Sam, and to write it on the card at some point.  Once everyone was there and seated, we used the ribbon for a sort of introductory game.  The idea was that each guest had to tell how she knew Katherine or Sam and had to talk for as long as it took to wrap the ribbon around her little finger.  It worked well and was a good way to get everyone introduced.

Here's Katherine telling how she met Sam.

This picture is (from L-R) of Alicia, a family friend; the mother-of-the-groom, Tracy; Kelsey, Katherine's soon-to-be sister-in-law, and Sam's grandma.

These are a couple of Katherine's high school friends, Lindsay and Julia.

These are Mike and Katherine's aunts, Auntie Bonita and Aunt Zann, and in the background you can see Sam's other grandma.

I think the only person I didn't get in a picture was Katherine's cousin Christy.  She must have been at just the wrong angle for all the pictures.  Shoot!

It's all a little fuzzy in my memory now, but I think that after the introductions, we played a "How Well do the Bride and Groom Know Each Other" game.  I had emailed Sam with a list of 20 questions relating to him, Katherine, and their relationship.  These are the questions I asked:
1. Where did you and Katherine first meet?
2. When did you first officially start dating? Be as specific as possible.
3. Where did you go on your first date?
4. What is the first movie you guys saw together?
5. Where and when was your first kiss? 
6. Who was Katherine's best friend before going to college?
7. What is Katherine's most annoying habit? 
8. What does Katherine think is your most annoying habit?
9. What is your favorite thing about Katherine?
10. What is Katherine's favorite thing about you?
11. What day did you guys get engaged?
12. How many kids do you guys want to have?
13. Where is Katherine's favorite place to shop?
14. What is Katherine's most embarrassing moment?
15. What is your favorite thing to do together?
16. What is Katherine's favorite kind of ice cream?
17. What is your favorite kind of ice cream?
18. What is Katherine's favorite restaurant? 
19. What is your favorite restaurant?
20. What are you looking forward to most about being married to Katherine?

 Sam emailed me answers, and then at the shower, I asked Katherine the questions one at a time, and she answered them honestly and we compared her answer to Sam's answer.  They had quite a few matching answers!  I can't remember exactly how many, but I think it was better than 15.  It was a lot of fun, and only mildly embarrassing for Katherine, I think.  The best answer was probably the last one.  As an answer for what he's most looking forward to about being married to Katherine, Sam said, "Starting, living, and ending every day with her."  Awww, how sweet.

Somehow that game amazingly ended just as the last of the food was ready.  It was a brunch shower, and we had a pretty big spread, which included blueberry coffeecake, orange-glaze poppyseed muffins, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, quiche, chicken salad and preztels, soufflé, and petit fours, and of course coffee, water, and punch.

While people ate we just allowed them time to visit, and then we got to the gift opening.  First, though, I collected the "Recipe for a Good Marriage" cards.  Then, I read one person's recipe, and Katherine got 2 or 3 guesses as to who wrote that piece of advice.  Once the author was revealed, Katherine then opened that person's gift.  Because it was specifically a kitchen-themed shower, she got lots of great stuff for her kitchen.  I also had mailed out matching recipe cards with the invitations so that guests would come with one of their favorite recipes for Katherine and Sam's recipe collection, as that's something Katherine is wanting to build up.  

This was the towel and kitchen tool cake I made as my gift to Katherine.  It took some work figuring out how to make it look decent, but thanks to Pinterest and Google, I finally got it figured out!

The party was supposed to go from 10-12, and again, amazingly, Katherine finished opening gifts at about 11:58.  I passed out party favors (various dip mixes with little whisks tied on with ribbon), people chatted a bit longer, took a few pictures, and then everyone left.  It was perfect.

Here are my mother-in-law Cynthia, Katherine, and me.  I feel like I look like a giant next to these two. I think I had big shoes on.

Kelsey, Katherine, and me.

Katherine with her two high school friends, Lindsay and Julia.

Mike and the boys were downtown at the Heart Association's Heart Walk that day, and they got home right as the party was ending.  So the boys got in for a picture in their colorful tie-dyes with Aunt Katherine.

And, finally, Katherine with her mom and her almost mother-in-law, Tracy.

I was nervous about how things would come together (just ask my mom and sister Becky, who both helped me with planning stuff while they were in town and with phone support the night before), but I was so happy with how everything ended up.  It was great to see all these people that love Katherine and Sam together in one room, showering Katherine (and therefore Sam) with gifts to start their new life.  

Now, on to the wedding!!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Zach's Birthday and Cousins' Visit

Zach's birthday was exactly a month ago, so I figure this is a good time to finally post some pictures from his birthday.  But, I figure I can't post about Zach's birthday before I post about the cousins, Aunt Becky, and Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Dick coming to visit, since that actually happened before Zach's birthday.  So, let's back up about 5 weeks.

The Dam to Dam is a 20k road race in central Iowa, and I think it's actually the nation's largest 20k.  I've wanted to run it for many years, but aside from the last couple of years, I've always had soccer games that conflicted.  This year I decided I was doing it no matter what.  It was a fun but definitely tough race.  Some big hills in there.  I ended up running most of it with a new friend, whom I had recently met at another friend's house.  He and I ran the first 9 miles together, and then he fell just behind me.  I finished in 1:41:55, which put me a little over an 8 minute per mile pace, which was my goal, so I was happy with that.    Here I am near the finish line.  In the homestretch I remember feeling like the finish line was still so far away.  I was definitely tired.

My mom, sister Becky, and nephews Cam and Myles had arrived the day before from Colorado.  It was nice to have them and my own little family there to cheer me on.  I also saw my mother-in-law Cynthia, sister-in-law Katherine, and soon-to-be-brother-in-law Sam and his parents along the course, and it was nice to have people cheering me on.

After the race we walked over to the farmer's market to kill some time before the kids races, which at least Zach and Cam were very excited about participating in.  Myles was excited, too.  Here he is lining up with his mom.

Drew would have run next, but since all the four year-olds had the number 4 on their bib, and Drew wanted to be number 95 like Lightning McQueen, so he was not interested in running.  Oh, well.  Zach, on the other hand, could not have been more interested.  Even though Zach was days away from turning 7, he insisted on running with the other 6 year-olds.  You know, so he could win.  Those 6 year-olds were a tough group of runners, though, and he came in 3rd.  I believe Cam was 4th.  At least that's the story Cam and Zach told about their respective places.  They had fun, and that's all I cared about!

Here's a pic of all the runners for the day.

Later that afternoon Mike left for Florida for 6 days for a conference for work stuff.  So it was just my  mom, my sister, and me with 5 crazy little boys under age 7.  

On Sunday we went to Raccoon River Park with the kids.  Cam and Zach enjoyed climbing the big climbing structure.

We didn't pack swim suits, because we didn't plan on going into the water, or at least didn't plan on doing more than just wading in.  Uhhh, yeah, the kids apparently weren't aware of that plan, because they all got completely drenched in about 30 seconds.

At some point we made sidewalk paint.  No idea when this was. 

On Tuesday afternoon my dad flew in from Colorado.  He was here just in time to witness some crazy backyard water shenanigans.  This was the first time we had gotten out the pool and little hopscotch thing this summer, and Jake thought they were loads of fun.  Actually, all the boys had so much fun.

All the boys enjoyed our water slide.  Myles might have been the biggest fan.  First, Drew showed him how to do it.

Myles was all over it!  No fear for this 2 and a half year-old!

Grandma Ruth helped Jake slide in- it's way too fast when it's wet for him to do it on his own from the top.

Cam made a big splash.

I thought this was Zach, but now I actually think it might be Drew again.

Notice how Zach, goggles and all, is holding his breath.  You'd think the kid was deathly afraid of water or something.

Jake thought the hopscotch thing was pretty cool.

On Wednesday afternoon, Grandma, Grandpa, and Drew drove to Minnesota to meet my sister Sandy to pick up Anders so he could some spend some time with his cousins.  Drew was super excited for Anders to come, as I think he was definitely feeling left out of the Cam and Zach play time.  He and Anders had lots of fun in the car on the ride back down, but then they spent the next few days kind of at each other's throats.  I'm not sure why, because they weren't like that when we were in Minnesota in April.  But they did enjoy some quiet time watching the trash truck on Thursday morning.

On Thursday, we tie-dyed.  We had purchased lots of white t-shirts, underwear, and other random white things to dye.  I have a way of tie-dying that I've been doing since high school that generally works very well and produces great results.  My mom and I first had Drew and Anders help dye their own shirts.  When it was time to do Zach and Cam's shirts and undies, Becky and I let them help with all of them.  Otherwise, we did all the dying.  Here's our workspace with all the stuff we had dyed.

One thing that's different now than all the other times I have tie-dyed is that I have a front-load washing machine.  I am not sure, but I think that may have caused the dye to bleed just a little bit.  I don't know for sure, though.  All I do know is that in the past, the white parts on the clothes have stayed white, and this time, they turned sort of a bluish-gray.  I was not (and still am not) happy about that.  But, aside from that, I feel like the clothes turned out very nice.  My boys have definitely gotten lots of compliments on them in the last month.

Friday was Zach's birthday.  Mike had arrived home Thursday night, but still needed to work on Friday. My parents decided to take the 4 older boys out to the Science Center to check things out and see an IMAX movie.  We decided to put the boys all in their tie-dye shirts, which made it easy to spot them.  First, though, we had to get a picture of all the cousins in their fun shirts.

I think they might be the cutest little tie-dye models ever.  Wouldn't you agree??

And I had to get a picture of my 3 boys.  Amazingly, one of them turned out!

While the older boys were out with Grandma and Grandpa, Becky and I tried to keep Myles and Jake from noticing that they were missing out on the fun.  So we walked up to the park and played, and watched some Sesame Street.  During nap time I worked on Zach's cake.  He wanted a cake in his school colors with the school logo on it, and he wanted gummy bears on it as well.   I put them around the outside as a border.  This was definitely the easiest cake yet, which was perfectly fine by me!

Zach even wanted the inside of the cake in school colors, so I made a purple and yellow zebra cake using yellow cake batter and cherry (dyed purple) cake batter.  It was actually quite a delicious cake!

That afternoon was Zach's birthday party.  He decided to invite 2 friends (both girls) from school to go to Sky Zone, the indoor trampoline park, with him and his cousins.  In Zach's mind, the party was Ximen, Natalie, Cam, and Zach.  He picked 2 girls so it would be even for boys and girls.  We went to Sky Zone and jumped for an hour, and then came home to find the pizza guy waiting in the driveway (he was early).  So we ate some pizza and cake and quickly opened presents, and the girls' parents arrived to take them home.  It was all very easy and fast and a lot of fun.

I guess we don't need to worry about Zach playing with fire, as the flame from 7 candles is clearly too bright for his sensitive eyes.

I love Cam's face in the last picture and this next one.  There's nothing like a young kid excited about something like a birthday cake to brighten your day.

Jake enjoyed the cake as well.

After the girls left, we played outside some more and managed to get one more good picture of all the cousins.  In age order from left to right, they go:

Zach- 7; Cam- 6; Drew- 4; Anders- 3.5; Myles- 2.5; Jake- 1.5

On Saturday, all the fun was over, as everybody left.  My parents and Anders headed up to Minnesota, and Becky and her boys flew home to Colorado.  Zach went with me to the airport, and it was very difficult to say goodbye.  Even though it was exhausting at times to deal with all the energy these boys have, it was still so much fun to have everybody together.  Since my cousins are all so much older than me, I am constantly telling my boys how lucky they are to have cousins close in age that they can be good friends with.  I love all the memory-making that happened, and I'm so thankful that everyone came to visit.

Technically that should be the end of the blog post, but since we celebrated Zach's birthday twice, I decided I'd just include these other few pictures in the same post.  Otherwise they probably wouldn't get up here until August.

So Sunday was the day we celebrated Zach's birthday with Mike's side of the family.  I made another new cake, and it was delicious, if I do say so myself!  It was a chocolate cake with real whipped cream as the filling and frosting, but the whipped cream had Oreo bits mixed in.  YUM!  Zach picked it based on a picture in one of my cookbooks, and it, too, was easy and tasty.

Jake got his first taste of real whipped cream from a beater.  I couldn't decide which picture I liked best, so I just put all three on.

Zach got some more neat toys from Grandma Linda and Grandpa Curt, Grandma Cynthia and Grandpa Kevin (who gave him a Betta fish!), and Aunt Katherine and her fiancé Sam.

Whew!  I can check this post off the list!  Mike keeps telling me I need to do just 10 minutes a night on the blog, or else he will never be able to remember the fun stuff Jake is doing these days.  So hopefully I'll get better about writing shorter, more frequent posts.  Stay tuned...