The Nutcracker

I got to take Casey to her friend Nutcracker ballet this year.  We had pretty good seats at the Orpheum in Memphis and I was excited to take her.  I think I was probably in high school the last time I went to see it.  

We got all dressed up in our finest and met with a friend and her little girl and headed downtown.  
Casey took a short nap just in the car before we arrived…
Even though we had good seats, it was hard for little people to see over the heads in front of them.  Casey spent the first half bouncing between her seat and my lap trying to find the best view.  Then of course she had to use the bathroom just when the Mouse King was about to come out.  For the second half she sat on the aisle seat and seemed to enjoy it a little better.  I sat on the other side of our friends because she didn’t want to sit on my lap any more.
I thought Casey behaved very well during the show.  There were parts where even I was a little less enthusiastic about the length of the dances.  There were also men in really tight white tights and that was a little distracting at times.
After the show some of the dancers came out for pictures and autographs.
Overall, it was a very nice first ballet experience!

School for Casey

Casey started school too!  …two weeks ago.  Then she promptly got sick and missed a few days.  But she is back on track and set to enjoy the third week of school…her first full week of school.

She goes to preschool at a very nice Baptist church down the street.  (In Tennessee, there’s a very nice Baptist church every mile or so it seems.)  It’s five days a week and on two days she stays a couple extra hours for “Stay and Play.”  She gets to eat lunch with her friends and play for a little bit.  Last week was her first week of stay and play and it’s the longest time I’ve had to myself in quite a while.  Although I have to admit I was a little lonely at lunch.

So far she is having a great time at school and always has something to tell me and show me when I pick her up.  She is even doing made-up “homework” in the afternoons when Jack has to work on his homework!

Casey’s New Room

Last week I got to spend A LOT of quality time with Casey while Jack was at school.  Even though we went out to a store every day, we still spent a lot of time at home.  The Barbie/Princess family also had a very busy week.  They celebrated birthdays, went to the pool, went to the beach, went to the hairdresser, changed outfits a lot, and witnessed some amazing high diving by Cinderella.

In between Barbie adventures, I tried to do some little projects around the house that I thought Casey would be interested in.  If I wanted to sew, I sewed something for her.  One dress turned out to be a big failure and the other still needs just a little finishing.  I also decided it was time to get the big bare wall behind her bed decorated.

A few months ago I found a great idea on Pinterest to make silhouettes of the princesses and use them as art.  I thought this was a much more subtle princess decorating idea versus some big poster of the princesses.  Basically I didn’t want anything too cartoon-y.

I also have a Silhouette cutting machine that has been sitting idle for some time and now I have a big space near the computer for it.  After a little search online I found the Crafty Mama blog where she had already created templates to use with the Silhouette.

One quick trip to the scrapbook store, four dollars and a few hours later and I had princesses framed and ready to put on the wall.  (And somehow I walked out of that scrapbook store with only what I needed!)

On Friday, I put the frames on the wall and got ready to take some pictures.  I probably spent more time cleaning her room than hanging pictures.  Casey was too busy with her babies to help.

Casey managed to be in almost every picture.  She also wanted to take some pictures with my camera but they didn’t make the cut for this post.  I finally convinced her to go get her own camera.  Then she was even more in my way as she tried to get all her pictures.

She has Christmas lights wrapped around her bed and sleeps with them on every night.  After Christmas was over, she didn’t want to take them off.  We’re now on our third strand.  It makes for a nice little night light for her.

 Her bed still needs a new bedskirt.

This is Casey’s wall of butterflies and dragonflies.  We found some vinyl Star Wars stickers for Jack soon after we moved here and I guided Casey towards these butterflies.  It was one of the first things we put up in each of their rooms.

Here are the signs for Casey’s room.  It’s been used as a storefront lately, which was why I had to do a lot of cleaning.  Casey was selling lotions in there and then it turned into quite an operation one night as they were both making jewelry and selling it.  Casey made the small yellow sign which has her name on it.  Jack made the larger green and yellow signs.  The green one says “Beauty” and he made it fancy (like Grammie did when she was babysitting in April) and the yellow one says “On.”  Jack decided that he would rather have No and Yes signs instead of Open and Closed but then No turned into On.

This is the wall opposite the bed.  It’s not quite as neat…once again Casey was busy with her babies and the lotion store (which she has staged on her empty doll bunk beds).  And her top drawer is broken from the move or else I would fill it with all the junk beautiful hair bands/elastics/bows/etc. sitting on top of her dresser.

These are a lot of the things that I removed from her bedroom to take pictures.  You can see the cash register that was being used for the store, but I’m not sure where the horse and shield were fitting into the place.  I think that must have been from a cowboy playing day.  (In full disclosure, a lot of that stuff is still sitting in the hallway outside Casey’s room 5 days later.)

And so, Casey’s room is the first room I’ve gotten to in showing off our new house.  Casey and I have another long week together so maybe we can get to some more projects.  Pat asked me today when I was going to finish hanging pictures in the rest of the house.  Sometimes I just can’t decide what I’m going to do and I do nothing!  We’ll fix some of that next week.

A Princess Leia Birthday Party

On Saturday we held Casey’s birthday party for family and friends.  She decided on a Princess Leia themed birthday party.  And why not, since her first movie quote was a Princess Leia line (directed at Han Solo) – “Why you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf-herder!”  It took a while for me to decipher that about a year ago when she said it, but once I did all I could do was laugh.

Since there apparently aren’t a lot of 4 year old girls who request Princess Leia parties I had to be a little creative with my theme.  Casey greeted the guests at the door in her Princess Leia ensemble – dress, belt and Princess Leia buns headband, but I don’t have a picture of her in complete costume.

I visited a lot of websites and blogs for inspiration but it was actually Walmart’s party aisle that gave me the decorations I needed.  We went with some black and pink colors and found some generic Princess paper plates.  I put a black tablecloth on the dining table and sprinkled it with pink stars.  I found some blue and black sparkly tulle one day and thought I would drape it somewhere and decorate.  Turns out I didn’t get much tulle in one roll – enough to decorate two chairs and the top of the china cabinet.

I wanted to have some crafts and games for the kids to do while they were here.  I found a cute paper craft on this blog and used her idea to make my own pieces.  I set them up at the table so the kids could make R2-D2, Yoda and/or Chewbacca.  I also printed out some coloring pages from starwars.com.  

 Then we played a rousing game of Pin the Bun on Princess Leia.  Jack was able to peek through the back and see what he was doing so he managed to get perfect placement of his bun.  I thought about playing Princess Leia Says but the kids were distracted by the toys and they were all playing so nicely.

For lunch I made Thai Chicken Wraps and Mediterranean Veggie & Hummus Wraps from Rachael Ray.  Instead of grilling the chicken I made a Teriyaki Chicken in the crockpot the day before.  The kids were welcome to eat these wraps but I also made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and peanut butter and banana rollups…just in case.

I made the same chocolate cake that I made last week and ordered a special princess Leia topper from it from an Etsy store called CrumbyArt.  She did a great job crafting Princess Leia into fondant and it was better than any form of Princess Leia that I could make or would want to make out of a cake.  I also made some cupcakes and decorated them to look like Ewoks.

Casey was very excited about her party and as I was frantically trying to finish everything up in the kitchen in the minutes before it started she stood by the door and asked me how many minutes until her party started at least 50 times.  When everyone got here she crafted, she colored, she pinned the bun on Leia, she played, she ate and she definitely blew out her candles.  She had a great time with her friends and with Nana and Pop Pop who came to celebrate too.

I figured that the kids were old enough to watch the present unwrapping and Casey was very excited to do that.  She got some great gifts from her friends and made sure that she thanked everyone.

For party favors I went with notebooks and markers.  The boys got Star Wars notebooks and Superhero markers and the girls got pretty pink notebooks with Disney Princess or Fairy markers.  I printed out a cute Leia picture and label to put on the bags.

At the end of the day, Pat thought it was a good party because there was good food, good cake, a happy birthday girl and it didn’t cost too much.  And that was my goal.

Happy Birthday to my Princess!

Casey is 4!

On Friday Casey turned 4.  I think Casey and 4 are going to get along pretty well.  She’s so happy that she is four that she’s been telling random strangers how old she is.  Three seemed like a long year but I think she grew up a lot.  She was ready for 4 before her birthday came if that makes sense.  But it is a little crazy that it’s been four years since I headed to the hospital!

Auntie Jenn came into town to celebrate with us.  Casey had school and then it was time to open presents (after delaying her for 10 minutes so I could wrap mine).  She was very excited with her gifts.  I should have downloaded the video that Jenn took because I think it was pretty funny.  Casey is getting good at saying “Oh my gosh!” as if she is 14 and not 4 so there was a lot of that.

She added a couple of princesses to her collection, an Ariel dress, some Friends Legos, a scooter and a crazy peace sign sweatshirt that is her new favorite piece of outerwear.

The highlight of the day was really the cake.  For me anyway.  I found a yummy chocolate cake recipe and it was delicious.  

We went outside after cake to check out Casey’s new scooter in the dark because it has wheels that light up.  (The neighborhood scooter collection is very varied – one makes chalk marks, one makes sparks and Jack’s is different too, so I felt Casey needed wheels that light up.)  It was actually pretty cool.

Happy Birthday Casey!  A Princess Leia party is coming up this weekend.

Christmas Decorating

On Sunday, we started our Christmas decorating.  Pat pulled all the boxes out of the attic and brought them downstairs.  The kids pulled everything out of the boxes, set them on whatever surface they could find and left the boxes strewn around.  I attempted to make our fake Christmas tree presentable by using zip ties to hold branches in place.  Casey and Jack asked when they could decorate the tree and where the ornaments were about 45 times.  We strung the garland and then it was finally time to decorate!

Actually it was a pretty fun afternoon.  I liked that I could let them pull everything out of boxes and not worry about them breaking things (too much.)  I loved their excitement.  I loved watching them find all their ornaments and remembering when they got them.  I love how quickly they decorate a tree.  I even love their clumps of ornaments on the tree.

The afternoon’s pictures:

Casey never shies from an opportunity to pose.

 Jack waits patiently so he can put the first present under the tree.

Casey helps Daddy under the tree.  He’s turning it to hide the bad spots.  Yes, our fake tree has bad spots.

More smiling and posing.

Pulling all the ornaments out and “staging” them for tree decorating.

Casey’s clump of special ornaments.

Casey’s favorite Cinderella ornament that’s lost its wheels from rough handling over the past two years.  She kept asking who broke it and denied that she would have done that when we told her she did it.

Jack hanging an ornament.

Jack’s turn to put the angel on the tree.

Jack as a human crane.

Almost there.

Casey makes sure the angel looks good.

Daddy Date Night

Last week, Casey went out on a date with Daddy to see the Broadway Production of Beauty and the Beast.  Pat called her during the day and told her that if she took a nap, he would take her out on a date.  I’ve never seen her run upstairs and hop into bed so fast!

She was so excited to go out on her date and she had a great time with Daddy.  Apparently they were a  little early for the show so they went through the car wash.  It was one of the highlights of her evening.  Other things that she was excited about were the M&Ms she got at intermission and the very special “bottled water.”  She also liked the show 🙂

Jack and I also got to do something a little special…we went over to our neighbors house to watch a new movie she had gotten for her birthday.  Jack was also enamored with the bottle of water he received.  We rarely have bottled water from the store around here so I guess it’s a big treat to my kids.

Here are a few pictures from the night…I think you can see how excited Casey was just by looking at her.

Casey’s Official Big Girl Moment

She’s three years old and can ride her bike without training wheels.  She’s potty trained.  She’s going to school.  I think those all pretty much qualify her as a big girl.  But whenever anyone looks at her and says, “You’re getting so big Casey!” she tells them, “I got a new carseat!”  Besides a few pairs of her shoes, I don’t think she’s ever been as enthusiastic about something.

It’s a booster seat with a high back (that can be removed some day) and you could say it’s Casey’s prized possession.  A couple weeks ago when Pat put her in the car seat he deemed her too big for it and said she needed a new one.  Casey didn’t need any convincing so we headed out to the store to get one.

She’s very happy to have a little more freedom of movement with the shoulder belt instead of the five point harness.  She was unbuckling the top of the old one anyway.  She’s also happy with the cupholders on both sides which recede into the base if she’s not using them.  And the best part is that she can unbuckle herself when it’s time to get out although we’ve had a few discussions about her not pushing the eject button too early.  

I think Casey has mentioned it to at least 15 people that she got a new carseat…family friends, neighbors, teachers at school.  The old carseats have been relegated to the attic for now although they’ll eventually be purged before we move again.  It’s a big change from the first three months of her life when it was more likely than not that she was going to cry for the duration of the carride!

More Bike Riding Skills to Celebrate

In less than a week of riding his bike without training wheels, Jack looked like he had been doing it for years.  He was riding off curbs, going across the grass, standing up and looking like a pro.  I couldn’t believe how fast he picked it up and how good he got in such a short amount of time.

We have been outdoors every single day since the training wheels were left behind.  Usually, our neighbor and her daughter, T, are out there too.  One of my neighbors thought I had been on a vacation somewhere to get a tan but it’s just been afternoons in the sun watching the kids ride their bikes.

A few days ago, another neighbor mentioned that he thought Casey would be riding without training wheels soon too.  She kept trying to ride on the grass like Jack and T but the training wheels were slowing her down too much.  I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, “Someday.”  On the day that Jack learned, I let Casey try it out a couple times and she seemed to have no balance.

Now it’s three weeks later.  Casey was playing outside while I was making lunch.  When I got outside, she had pulled Jack’s bike out and told me she was trying to ride it.  She asked if I would help her.  I did, but I was thinking I was just going to hold her up again.

As soon as she got on there, I barely touched her.  She went right down the driveway, circled around both cul-de-sacs and back up the driveway with me just running as close to her as I could.  It blew my mind.  I couldn’t believe she was going to start riding her bike without training wheels at 3 years old!

Later in the afternoon, we took the training wheels off her bike and she hopped on with so much confidence and rode around the cul-de-sacs again much to everyone’s amazement.  10 minutes later she was trying to ride it through the grass and keep up with the 5 year olds!

She’s had her share of spills and she still needs a little help to get going.  The seat is as low as it can go and she can barely touch the ground with her tippy toes.  By the end of today she could stop by herself without falling most of the time.  It’s amazing.  Between watching Jack ride without training wheels and all the riding she’s been doing to keep up with him, she figured out how to keep her balance.

It’s also amazing to see the differences in learning styles between Jack and Casey.  I’ve noticed it before, but this further reinforced what I saw.  Jack spent the first ten minutes without training wheels just riding up and down the driveway very carefully, making no turns and going over no bumps.  When he was comfortable with that, he decided to try to turn.  Then he decided he could do the bump at the end of the driveway.  Casey…she jumps in head first and believes she can do it.  She jumped on that bike and went straight down the driveway over the bump and started turning.

I’m very proud of both of them and their bike skills this past few weeks.  But mostly I can’t believe I have a 3 year old without training wheels!

Casey and her Friends

Casey finally made it back to school yesterday.  Poor girl was sick on Friday and missed her second day of school.  With my free time yesterday, I made it to three grocery stores and got the groceries put away before I had to pick up the kids.  It’s amazing how fast I can scoot through the commissary when I’m not driving the big rig that Casey still calls the “car cart.”  I didn’t have to stop numerous times for someone to walk or to get back in the cart or to pick out fruit snacks or to look at all the random crap that only Jack can spy and ask for.

After the commissary I headed to the Natural Heritage Market.  I got a groupon for it back in June and was just waiting for school to start so I could look at things at my leisure.  I’m pretty sure it was the greenest, crunchiest, granola-iest store I’ve ever shopped.  Any item I’ve ever come across in a recipe and could never find at any other grocery store is there.  I’ve been looking for months for unsweetened coconut and no other store has it but I finally found it.  There is a great collection of bulk items and it’s worth shopping for them, but everything else was highly overpriced.

I wasn’t really intending to write about grocery stores, but it’s already done 🙂  Back to Casey.  Unlike Jack, she is more than willing to share with me what she does at school.  Unfortunately, I’m trying to figure out how many grains of salt I need with her stories.  This summer, she began telling me really nice stories about her “friends.”  Her friends are named Neela, Keela, Darma, Karma, Katie, and Caroline or maybe its the group with Nasa, Lacey, Meena and Kumba.  She starts talking about these girls and the random names just roll off her tongue.  If we’re driving somewhere, she’ll tell me that a friend lives in a house we just passed or down a certain road.  She also has a special friend who lives in a house near the beach we visited in Maine.  She talks about her a lot.  It was too rainy for her friend to come out and say hi while we were there though.  Needless to say, all these stories are made up but if you didn’t know her and you didn’t notice the suspicious names, you might actually believe her.

Now that she’s in school and I’m not with her to know exactly what happened, I’ll have to decide whether it’s a true story or not.  Luckily I know the names of a lot of the kids in her class.  Hopefully she’ll tell me some real stories about them!  I’m already trying to figure out if someone gave her a piece of cheese on her first day or she just made that up.