Happy Memorial Day....This Guy

This guy served our country for countless years and kept us safe.  This guy called up on 9/11 to re-enlist.  This guy is proud to be an American.  This guy "out ranks" Rambo.  This guy is a Green Beret. This guy is my dad and I couldn't be more proud! 
This guy did all that he did so we could have days like this!    Thank you dad for all your service!  Thank you mom for taking care of us and holding it all together when he was gone.  Thank you to all the men and women and their families who continue to fight and sacrifice  for our freedoms we enjoy!   
Happy Memorial Day! 


lebkuchen....a german cookie!

Dash had to do an "ancestor project" in school.  As part of his project he had to call and interview one of his ancestors.  He chose to call and interview great granny Carter.  It was a really fun interview and one that I learned a lot in.  I never knew that her house burned down when she was a little girl and they lived in a big "box" that was an box for an airplane til their house was ready.  Dash thought that was SUPER cool.  She had some other cool tid bits but that was one I didn't know.  Another part of his project was that he was that a few weeks later into the project they were going to taste food from around the world and from where their ancestors were from.  We decided we would make Lebkuchen (pronounced lepkoogen).  It's a german cookie that my great granny would make at Christmas and now granny Carter makes.  I was going to attempt to make it.  It is a cookie that you make early and you let it age so that it softens.  Great granny Sharp used to use an Ace of Spades card to cut out her lebkuchen.  Never a cookie cutter.  My mom remembers that.  Her daughters had the card laminated for her later but for a while it was a dusty floured ace of spades.   Granny Carter is a pro at Lebkuchen and we LOVE getting hers a Christmas.  We told her of our plan of me making it or even finding a German bakery if I couldn't figure out how to make it and getting some for the kids to try.  I was excited because this was truly something from our heritage that had been passed down.   The next day my granny called me and said that she had made lebkuchen for Dash's class and had sent it in the mail.....
......This showed up a couple days later.  30+ individually wrapped lebkuchens for the "tastes around the world" day.  Lovingly made by my granny,  Dash's Great Granny.  I cried.  Then I ate one. 
Thank you Granny.  One day I hope my grandson will call me and I will know how to make this yummy german cookie and I will send it to him too.

He also had to send in an artifact basket of his ancestors.  We sent in one of Grandpa Carter's belt buckles and a picture of him and told about how he dug the tunnels in the mountains so we could drive through them and when they finished the jobs they gave them a belt buckle.  We sent in an uno card with a picture of Grandma Carter and some lebkuchen and told about her kindness and example and how she made the cookies for the class and how her mom used to make that cookie with an ace of spades, we send in a bingo chip and told about how we have played bingo on Thanksgiving for over 25 years and how we love traditions in our family and we sent in a a book of genealogy and told about how genealogy ties us together and we are grateful for the family that has done our genealogy for us.  At least that is how the report was supposed to go.  When I held up each artifact and asked Dash to talk about them he said, and I quote.... "This is my grandpa' (I am holding a picture of Grandpa Carter and his belt buckle) He wore a belt.....  This is my grandma  (now I'm holding the picture of granny C with the cookie and the card )  she made these cookies a few weeks ago with this card (now doesn't this aged cookie sound delicious (now I hold up the bingo chip)   we like BINGO  (hold up genealogy book)  mom what's that?"    

At least Granny's cookies were delicious.  That is really all the kids cared about.  Right?


Elder Wright

Sometimes you run into some special ones.  This one is/was/is a special one for us.  He was just transferred.  :( Something about him was special for us.  He had a special spirit or a calmness.  Not quite sure but we loved Elder Wright and loved having him in our home.  He had a great story as a missionary with his own personal conversion that I personally related to and maybe that is why I felt a kindred spirit with him.  He worked hard.  He was serious when he needed to be but had a great sense of humor.  He was the kind of kid you wanted to set your sister up with when he went home!  He made me want to do missionary work.  Thank you Elder Wright for being such a great example to my kids and for being such a great  missionary!  You will not be forgotten!  

In our home we have our baptism age kids take the missionary discussions with the Elders.  Both Darby and Max did it.  This way they are ready for the baptismal interview and ready for their baptism all together.  They know exactly what they are getting into.  Dash's good buddy Kaden gets to take the discussions with him.  He turned 8 the day before Dash and is getting Baptized in June.  Dash is getting Baptized in June in Utah when we go home to see family.  We are lucky he started some of his discussions with Elder Wright and Elder Stucki.  He will be finishing with another Elder though.  It is great to see these missionaries teach young kids.  The discussions take on a life of their own.  The boys are amazing and bring tears to my eyes with their answers.  They are truly ready for baptism.  Dash knows a whole lot more than I ever did at this age.  He sure makes me proud.  I am always so grateful when anyone is willing to help me teach my children the Gospel.

Dash's CARNIVAL birthday party!

Our kids only get BIG birthday parties when they are 5, 8, 12, 16 and 18.  They get dinner and gifts from their siblings on the other years but on these special years they get a big ol' party.  This happens to be Dash's 8th birthday!  He is getting baptized.  He is going into the 3rd grade.  He is starting scouts.  SO many big things are happening.  He wanted a Carnival Birthday.  I thought it would be pretty easy.  I own an industrial snow cone machine.  I have a friend that owns a big pop corn machine.  Another friend was lending me some carnival games and I thought I could make up a few others.  A big ol' prize table!  It seemed pretty easy. (hmmm, think again)   I did it up right though for my special little man, and boy is he special!  
This was the picture for his "kissing booth"  (picture of that below) 
of course Juliet had to take one too.  She has to do everything her big brother does!  She LOVES him!
This is the night before the party....sorting the prizes for the prize table.  This is where I spent the bulk of my money.  I wanted the kids to feel like they were at chukee cheese.  They would get tickets at all the games and be able to spend them at the table to fill their own goodie bags.  I ran into a great sale at Wal-Mart and was able to get a couple BIG items for cheap.  So there were things priced for 1 ticket all the way up to 100 tickets.

The pize table all set up.  Candy was REALLY popular.  I didn't want to rent a cotton candy machine but you have to have cotton candy at a carnival.  It's kind of expensive though.  I put it on the prize table though.  That way, if it was important enough for them to spend their tickets on, if they wanted it over something else then that is what they would choose.  I actually had some left over.  Things I thought would be really really popular were to some kids but not to others.
Face painting!  A must!  Brandon was awesome.  I don't know if you have to have a professional though.  I think you could have a teenager with some set designs do it or even some fake tattoos and the kids would be happy.  BUT it did take up some time and was a popular station!
How could it not be when he was doing stuff like this though!!

This was one of our games....  It was where you guess where the ball is under the cup.  I tried to have most of the games easy enough that my older son and his friends could run the games.  I was able to rope them into helping along with my daughter and some of her friends in the ward and some parents.  NOT a party you can do alone.
Knock the tin cans down.  (normally you do this with a baseball...we did it with a big bean bag)
Bean bag toss.  This is a game that I borrowed.  I think it is one you could make though if you needed to.
Penny toss.... this is an all time favorite carnival game of mine and became one of the kids favorites too.  There all different sizes of dishes and You toss a penny in a dish.  That's it.  Simple.  Except that pennies bounce out the dish!  Crazy.  At the carnival you actually get to keep the dish that it lands in so you always tried to go for the goblet or the pretty butterfly dish but usually won the ashtray.  At our penny toss you got 5 pennies and won tickets for landing pennies in the dish.  It was still super fun!
The birdie toss.  Self explanatory.
Ring toss.  Another very loved game.  I just used IBC bottles, some still had IBC in them and plastic bracelets.  I had some taller bottles in the back of some spanish soda.  You got 2 tickets for those.
Football throw.  (We had soft footballs)  Another borrowed game.
The duck pond.  (the third borrowed game)  You scoop up a duck and if it has an x on the bottom you get a ticket.  Very easy.  Especcially for very small kids.  If you do this one just make sure they are weighted ducks.
The ping pong toss.  You toss a ping pong ball into cups that have red, blue or yellow paper in the bottom of them.  Each one is worth a different amount and you that is the amount of tickets you get.  (red=1 blue =2 yellow=3)  The kids loved this one too.

Popcorn and snowcones!  A must!
This was like a cake walk but we just drew the number out of the bowl and if you were standing on the number then you won 2 tickets.  You didn't even need to stop the music.  You could just have your helper say stop because he just pulled numbers out the bowl.  Very easy and fun!

the Elders stopped by and won a prize....mustaches were very popular!

The birthday boy!  One of the mom's asked Brandon for his card.  We laughed and laughed.

There were so many people there that Dash had to open his gifts after they all left.

He was a very spoiled boy this year.  Everyone was very very generous!  One of my favorite things he said was to Brandon.  he said "Mom really over done her self didn't she!?"  I sure love that kid!
Here is the infamous "kissing booth"  You guess how many kisses are in the jar and you won the jar of kisses!  This was another fun station that was easy and didn't need any extra help! 


Jeremy's birthday Party!

Our sweet Nephew's Birthday is in January!!!  I can't believe I am actually caught up to the first of the year!!  Sweet sweet Jer BEAR!!!  He loves super heroes and especially Iron Man!  

He wasn't going to have ANY part of the singing!

This is my ALL time FAVORITE picture of this sweet sweet boy!
Happy happy birthday sweet Jeremy!  We love you!

Darby's field trip to the Natural History Museum!

I had an opportunity to go on a field trip with Darby to the Natural History Museum.  This Museum changes often.  This year it has the United States Endeavour being displayed.  It was pretty amazing.   We were able to touch a wheel that had been in space.  See how HUGE the actual Endeavour was.  It was AWESOME!!!  Not sure how much the kids appreciated it.  I don't know if you really appreciate this unless you are a little older or are into this kind of thing.  It was pretty cool.