Saturday, May 17, 2014

Orion's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Themed 2nd Birthday Party

My baby boy turned 2 years old on May 5th! We celebrated last weekend with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed party. It was a lot of fun and I loved how everything came together. Thank you to everyone who came and helped us celebrate.

The dessert table turned out so cute. I love how streamers make such cute but easy back drop. The table, table cloth, Mickey ears, Mickey plush, and frame we already had. I found the idea for the frame, cupcakes, and signs from Pinterest.

Orion's 2nd Birthday

Mickey cupcakes weren't too hard either. I baked a batch of vanilla and a batch of chocolate cupcakes. I used red food coloring for the frosting. The Mickey head was a full size Oreo broke in half. Mickey's ears were mini Oreos. Mickey's buttons were mini marshmallows.



We brought out all our Clubhouse friends to decorate the party area.

Simple red and black plates into the shape of a Mickey head.

Yellow napkins and white plasticware. Confetti was made from yellow, black, and red cardstock using a Mickey Mouse punch from Hobby Lobby.

Mouseka-Fruit and Mouseka-Vegetables

I loved the little touch the confetti added.

Red, yellow, and black balloons both add decoration and make for a fun, affordable party favor. I prefer to buy the DIY helium tank at Walmart for $21 and blow up my own balloons. The balloons can be held down with any simple thing to finish the favor. We choose bubbles and topped the bubbles with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse stickers.

The door sign turned out so cute. I found my inspiration on Pinterest but mine turned out much differently than my inspiration. I found 2 fun fonts and alternated the fonts between black and red. The rectangles are cardstock which I punched out confetti and then used for the door sign. After printing the white sheets out I used my Creative Memories circle cutter I have had forever and made circles. The Mickey head is a circle cut from cardstock out of black, 2 smaller circles cut out of cardstock for his ears, and a red circle cut of of cardstock then cut in half. Mickey's buttons are 2 white ovals were cut from cardstock with my oval cutter. "Orion" and "2" are Creative Memories stickers. It really helps to have all this stuff on hand already. The ribbon is red with white polka dots I found at Hobby Lobby.

Mickey's Mac and Cheese and Hot Diggity Dogs were served.

Yummy fruit water to drink. This time I did lemons, limes, and oranges.

Singing Happy Birthday!

Orion blew out his candle all by himself

Fun times!

Yummy cupcake

His cute little shirt I had made by an Etsy seller last minute for our Disney trip in December.

More cupcake!

"Sister, do I really have to open all these presents?"


Monday, April 14, 2014


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Monday, October 28, 2013

Mount Bierstadt - 1 Nate and Michelle - 0

Climbing a fourteener was something on my bucket list. For those of you not from Colorado that's a 14,000 foot tall mountain. Some of these mountains take skill, like Longs Peak. Others like Mount Bierstadt take an early start, some stamina, and the will to finish. Nate and I decided it was best to attempt without the kids so we arranged for all 4 kids to spend the night with my mom. It was Orion's first overnight away from home without mom but he did great.

We found this cute little European hotel in Georgetown which operated like a bed and breakfast. The view was nice, the rooms were lovely, the service was excellent, and the homemade croissants and fruit for breakfast delivered to your room were amazing. We had a nice dinner down the road and sat on the balcony drinking wine, listening to the stream. So nice to be kid-free for an entire 24 hours. 

We arrived at the trail head at 8am and it was packed. I never thought I'd be hiking with so many people but the weather was lovely and it was probably one of the last weekends of the year for hiking fourteeners.

Nate all ready to hike

 Even the bottom of the trail was beautiful

I was thankful for the boardwalk through the thickets. It was very muddy and wet at the bottom.

There were a lot of hanging lakes

Getting rocky and steep

Taking a break

Despite our best efforts and 6 hours of hiking we didn't make it to the top. The 2nd half of the trail was very steep and rocky. Imagine stair stepping for hours at high elevation. Needless to say we didn't hike very fast. About 3/4 of the way up we heard thunder. The clouds were gray and looking ominous but we were hoping to beat the storm. After the 2nd clap of thunder we decided to call it a day and turn back. It took us a couple hours to hike down. We didn't want to get stuck in a lightning storm up above tree line. We were both pretty disappointed but don't worry we'll be back next summer. Instead of 8am start we'll be at the trail head at 6am. Hopefully with an earlier start we can beat any afternoon storms. Still a lovely day in nature with my husband so I can't complain.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Progress Towards Goals

It's already September and I haven't posted an update regarding my progress towards my 2013 goals. I have a bit of a tradition of posting my goals on my blog and updating a few times throughout the year. Here are my 2013 goals.

1. Get finances on track. I'm doing okay in this area. I do well with YNAB for a month or two then have to make a fresh start. I think it is important to tell your money where it's going not to simply react. I definitely can continue to improve in this area.

2. Get housework under control. This has not happened. I went back to work full-time 3 months ago so I even have less time. I've been trying to avoid it but finally I scheduled someone to come clean my house next week. They are going to come twice this month, then hopefully I can cut back to once per month. Laundry is still horribly behind. I am bad about doing a daily task though now my days are filled with work and driving kids to and from their activities. The kids have been okay about doing extra chores for money. The kids have been starting their own laundry. I guess I've made some progress in this area.

3. Teach Brennan and Wynter to cook better. We need to be more consistent. They have cooked several meals but not every week.

4. Attend church at least twice per month. Since I work at church I'm there at least 40 hours per week, some weeks more. Sometimes I am so busy and we're so shorthanded that I do not attend a service all week. I try to make getting myself into service a priority though.

5. Go on monthly dates with Nate. Be more engaged with each other on a daily basis. We've been doing a pretty good job of dating each other. We had a full day date in March skiing. We had an overnight date in May for our anniversary and we had an overnight date last weekend. We could improve on being more engaged day-to-day.

6. Sew more. No progress in this area. I joined a quilt-along in April, bought all the supplies to make Orion a crib size quilt and then did nothing.

7. Take a photography class. i took a photography 101 and 102 class and loved them both. I need a lot more practice to be the photographer I want to be.

8. Get back into running! Still something I want to do but haven't made happen. I looked into the Team Challenge program but it only meets in Denver, which is unrealistic for me. I need others to run with and encourage me. Hopefully I'll find a program that will work with me soon.

Thanks for keeping me accountable! 


Monday, August 19, 2013

Birthday Jeeping

Hubby celebrated his 34th birthday Saturday so we went Jeeping. Now that we're a family of 6 we no longer all fit in his Jeep. My mom watched the kids and we headed out early to conquer a trail about an hour from our house. Kelly Flats is a somewhat popular Jeep trail but we got there early enough we didn't see anyone else on the trail. Nate had done the trail before so he knew what to expect, some exciting spots like heart attack hill and the chutes but mostly moderate obstacles and some rough road. It was a lot of fun. I had to work at 4pm that day and was so worried we wouldn't make it back in time but we were home by noon. We're lucky to live so close to the mountains and we able to spend the morning playing outside.

 Hard to believe we live somewhere so beautiful!

 The view was better from the outside for me

 Up and over

 Hazy but beautiful day

Over some rocks

 And some more

 And some more

Fun morning birthday date!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Back to Work

Some crazy things have happened in our life recently. 8 weeks ago I went back to work full-time. Sometimes it's kind of hard for me to believe too. We waited a long time to have Orion so that I could stay home full-time and I never would have dreamed I would be working full-time when he was 13 months old.

I've never only been a stay-at-home mom. I've always watched another child or did part-time childcare at church. I always brought some income to the family, albeit very little. When I worked full time I worked in banking for 6 years and also worked in the legal field and politics. I worked full-time until Brennan was 5 1/2 and I quit my job to go to school full time. When Brennan was little I had no desire to be home full-time but maybe because financially it wasn't an option. I was very career driven, I wanted to be successful. I planned to go to law school and become a lawyer.

Meeting Nate and going from 1-3 kids overnight was a big adjustment for me. I was working full-time while we were engaged and it was hard for me to meet the demands of a full-time job and 3 children. I decided watching a child from home was the best of both worlds. I would save money on daycare, gas, commuter pass, eating out, and work clothes. Add to that the money for watching 1 child in my home and I about broke even.

6 months later we moved to Maryland. I interviewed for a few jobs but ended up taking a full-time nanny job that paid well and allowed me to follow my kids schedule and have breaks and summers off with them. It truly was perfect for me at that point in my life.

When we moved back to Colorado I had secured another nanny job for twins but at the last minute decided not to accept due to some of the parent's demands. I interviewed to watch a baby in my home but during that process I found out I was pregnant with Orion and they decided to go with someone else because they were concerned about finding someone else during my maternity leave.

After that I started working 2 mornings per week at church doing childcare. It only paid minimum wage but the big kids were in school all day and it kept me busy and got me out of the house. I got to hold cute babies and I met a lot of nice people.

I kept that job through pregnancy and went back when Orion was 4 months old. He came with me for free so it only made sense to keep doing it. The times I was packing up a screaming, crying baby to get out the door in the morning I wondered if it was worth it but I kept working.

Orion is a high need baby. Maybe you've never heard the term but he was extremely demanding, clingy, and cried a lot, especially from 4-10 months old. As a newborn he wasn't too bad but I did hold him most of the day, he nursed every 2 hours, and he slept on and off. He cut his first teeth at 4 months and he hasn't slept well through the entire teething process. I began to get frustrated with being home with him full-time when he was around 8 months old. I loved my time with him but he was so demanding of my time that I couldn't get anything done around the house and he spent a good part of his day fussing or crying. I began to wonder if working part-time might be a good break for the both of us. I wasn't considering working because we needed the money so I only occasionally looked and only applied if something seemed like the perfect part-time job. I thought a 2 full day per week, professional job would be a good fit for me. In January, I saw a part-time paralegal job posted locally so I applied and they called me for an interview. It ended up they wanted someone 4-5 hours in the afternoon, 4-5 days per week. I talked it over with Nate and that wouldn't work with the kids school schedule so I declined the interview.

I continued to look occasionally for jobs, maybe every couple weeks. In March I came across a 20 hour per week position at a non-profit that paid well. I love helping people and I've always thought working at a non-profit would be a great fit for me. I applied for the job but a couple weeks later I received an email saying they had changed the position to full-time but the hourly rate ended up being several dollars per hour less. The instructions said if you were interested in the full-time opening to re-apply. I wasn't interested in working full-time so I didn't reapply.

Around this time our church was going through a lot of changes. A new children's pastor came on board. I received an email from my boss, the early childhood director, saying she was resigning. I was kind of surprised but Nate had said since I started at the church that was the job I needed to have. I always brushed Nate off and told him that my boss had been there 17 years and she was never leaving. I felt like this email was a sign, coupled with the fact that I had been considering going back to work. I thought I should email my resume and cover letter and express interest that day. Orion ended up being extremely fussy and I didn't get a chance to. Before I had done anything I received a phone call from the new children's pastor asking if I would be interested in interviewing for the position. I really about died of shock because the job Nate had been telling me all along was perfect for me was now open, I thought I should express interest, before I could express interest the children's pastor called me asking me to interview. I firmly believe God speaks to us and due to this string of events I felt he was speaking to me and my job was to listen.

I went through the interview process which started with a somewhat informal meeting with the pastor, then went on to a formal interview with the children's pastor and his boss. Throughout the month long process I didn't say anything to anyone at church. I had heard two other people applied and was kind of convinced one of the others would get the job. Since we didn't need the money and I wasn't looking for full-time work I kept just praying, "Lord, your will be done. If this is the job for me, let me get it. If it isn't, that's okay too." Churches are incredibly slow at hiring and I ended up following up several times throughout the process to remain professional. By the time I finally was offered the position I had all but convinced myself it was going to be someone else and was totally shocked to get the offer. Nate and I talked about what the minimum the salary had to be to make going back to work worth it with childcare factored in. Crazy part is my salary came back the exact figure that Nate and I discussed. God is good!

My biggest concern about going back to work was Orion and how he would adjust. He'd always nursed to sleep for naps and bed. He'd only been away from me for an entire day a couple times. Finding the right caretaker for him was extremely stressful. After interviewing many people, God provided me the perfect person to watch Orion and I feel extremely blessed. He has adjusted amazingly and she loves taking care of him. The big kids have done great too. It really has been a great thing for our family. Sure our house isn't as clean as it used to be but with 4 kids is it ever really clean?

My job is great and really the perfect fit for me. It is demanding and includes night and weekend hours but I try to set firm boundaries and go home at a reasonable hour each day and not work too much from home. My hours are very flexible outside of scheduled events so if I have to take a kid to the doctor or pick them up from camp no one minds. I manage a large group of staff and volunteers and for the most part everyone is really great. It is really surprising to see how much work happens behind the scenes at a big church like ours. It is a busy, busy place. This isn't where I expected to be right now but I know where I'm supposed to be and I couldn't be happier.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

*Giveaway Closed* Custom Photo Thank You Cards: Review and Giveaway

We decided to use evite for Orion's birthday invitations to make it easier for people to RSVP. I knew I wanted to make custom thank you cards so people could see one of Orion's cute 12 month photos. I am just learning photography so the photos didn't turn out great. Even early in the morning the sun was very bright but I did capture some cute expressions from Orion.

Tiny Prints has the cutest custom cards and highest quality of any of the companies I have used. There were a lot of non-photo options but I knew I wanted something with his photo in it. After browsing the site a bit I decided on the Daydreaming Today: White folded thank you cards. I was able to even have the envelopes printed with his name and our return address. I've already received several compliments on how the cards turned out.

Tiny Prints is giving away 30 free thank you cards to one of my readers! Simply comment below with your email address and name and you'll be entered to win. Giveaway ends 6/9/2013 at 9pm MST. Giveaway open to U.S. residents.

Discount Codes:

*I was provided with a set of custom thank you cards in order to facilitate the review. Tiny Prints is providing the 30 free thank you cards for the giveaway. This review is not paid and all statements in the review are solely my opinion.

*Winner chosen through was comment 8: Sarah. Congratulations!