Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

Max’s First Birthday–Dr. Seuss Style

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

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It is not a secret that I love Dr. Seuss!  So when we found out we were having a boy, I knew immediately what the theme of the first birthday would be…Dr. Seuss.  I loved planning this party, one of my favorites actually, even if I had to make everything from scratch because apparently Africa doesn’t really know who Dr. Seuss is.  Shame!  Here is a quick recap of the party in pictures and captions.

The Cute Birthday Boy

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The Decorations

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Sign reads:  Take a prop and flash a smile, then a photo that will last awhile.

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Birthday Memory book – each party guest was asked to write a special note to Max somewhere in the book.  Here is what the sign says:  Wait!  Stop here you see, and write a very special message to me! A birthday wish or just say hi, to your favorite ONE year old guy. On the front, the back or any page, It is something I will treasure all my days!  Love, Maxwell Simo (who is turning 1!)

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The Food and Favors

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The cake looks pink, but I promise it was red!

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Seussian style cookies as the party favors.  Mikayla loved helping to make these!

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Party Favor Tag Reads: Thanks for coming to the fun, at my party where I turned one!  Enjoy this cookie as a treat, as a thanks that you can eat!  Love, Max

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Horton’s Hot Dogs and Hamburgers with all the fixings!

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Truffula Fruit Salad, Poodle Eating Noodles Pasta Salad and Cat in the Hat Chips and Dip

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One Fish, Two Fish, Marshmallow Fish and Green Eggs and Ham

The Cake Smash

It took him awhile to figure out the whole cake thing.  He actually really only wanted to eat the red dots of icing.  You can see the full unedited version of his cake experience here (which will probably only interests family)!

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He was not a fan of the hat!

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The Guests and a Little Photobooth Fun

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You can see more of his birthday fun in my album on FB.

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Posted in Parenting |

A Doc McStuffins 5th Birthday

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

When I sat down to write Max’s one year update, I realized that I had failed to do an update on Mikayla’s 5th birthday party.  I had started writing it write after her birthday, and never finished.  So, here you go, a Doc McStuffins 5th birthday party recap!

Mikayla has always had a very vivid imagination and we very much love that about our child.  She loves all cartoons, but she especially loves those that the characters really use their imaginations.  Like Backyardigans, Doc McStuffins, Toy Story, etc.  When she suggested we have a Doc McStuffins party for her 5th birthday we decided that was a perfect idea!  It worked out perfectly too because she had been asking for a doctor’s kit for a long time and so we decided that would be a perfect gift for her.

Here is a quick rundown on the party.  First the decorations and food!

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The food spread.  Details below.

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An attempt at Doc’s doctor bag in the form of a cake.

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Party guests.

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Blowing out the candles.  She really struggled to get them blown out, almost had to climb on top of the table to do so!

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Pin the bandage (or rubber as they call it here) on Doc!

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Even Sr. Barbara got in on the fun!

And lastly a few of her gifts.

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The sisters got her silly string as part of her gift, she was not a fan!

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I think we nailed the gift!

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Getting right to work doctoring up her guests.

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We had one of our staff members make her a doctors coat as part of her birthday countdown.  She loved it!  And she even wanted to dress up as Doc for her party.

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Another party down!  Wonder what next year will bring…


Mikayla’s 5th Year of Life in Pictures

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Here is a look back at all the fun and growth that took place in Mikayla’s life over her fifth year.  Enjoy!

April 2013

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May 2013

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June 2013


July 2013

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August 2013

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September 2013

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October 2013

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November 2013

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December 2013

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January 2014

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February 2014







March 2014



April 2014

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She is still just as goofy as she was a year ago!  Love her!


Mikayla Turns Five

Monday, April 28th, 2014

How is it even possible that my baby is five years old?!  The last five years have flown by by!  My baby girl is not a baby anymore, although she still lets us call her that!  Here is sneak at what the last five years have looked like for Mikayla.


One week old


1 year old

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2 years old

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3 years old

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4 years old

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5 years old

She sure has grown and changed a lot in the last five years!  She has an amazing personality, is super creative, loves to tell jokes, knows what she wants and is very persistent to get it, loves everyone around her (everyone is her friend), is a wonderful big sister, has the biggest imagination, and loves to cook/bake.  I could go on and on with all the wonderful things about my daughter! 

Happiest of 5th birthdays to my sweet Mikayla Lillian (MLK), my favorite doctor out there!

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Posted in Parenting |

Mikayla’s 4th Birthday

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

When Ben’s parents were here we had Mikayla’s official birthday party, but still wanted to do something on her special day.  Like in years past, we had a week long countdown to her birthday filled with fun activities to do as a family or small gifts.  She was so excited each day to open her countdown and I think it really helped her realize just how special a birthday should be!  Her countdowns this year included the following:

  1. Some special princess stickers and a sticker book.
  2. Spa day complete with bubble bath and painting her nails.
  3. Campfire with marshmallows and hotdogs.
  4. Popcorn and a movie.  She had been saving for Toy Story 2 and we surprised her with it for this countdown day.Easter, birthday, camp 061
  5. Some bubbles and chap stick.
  6. Family pizza night where she rolled out and made her very own pizza.  We also watched a movie (Mulan) on this night while eating.
  7. Making special birthday cupcakes and decorating them with pink frosting and sprinkles!

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On her actual birthday (the 28th) we started the morning with balloons, streamers, homemade donuts and gifts.  Then we headed to Big Bend Country Club for lunch and some time on their fun playground.  Afterwards we headed home and prepared for a special birthday dinner with Joe of spaghetti!  And finally ended the day with a special birthday cake. 

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Enjoying her balloons and streamers!

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Opening gifts.

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More gifts!

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Backstory on this picture – A couple of weeks before her birthday she decided that she wanted to make a paper bike.  After we worked on it as a family (I had to enlist Ben’s help because I was drawing a blank), she decided she wanted to wrap it up and save it for her birthday gift.  So she decorated a box and put it inside and promised to forget about it.  This worked out perfect for us because we had already been planning on buying her a bike.  So when it came time to open our gift she opened the paper bike.  And was super excited!  We went out side to "ride" it and had her real bike on the porch waiting.  She did not see the bike at first, but when she did was very excited and forgot all about her paper one!

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She is still a little timid with the bike and has not figured out how to pedal yet.  But then again she has never had any sort of riding toy so this is brand new territory for her.

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Her cupcakes and cake she decorated all on her own!  She knew she was four, so she picked out four candles!!

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I just love this picture and the effort she is using to blow out her four chosen candles!!

All in all it was a great birthday week.  Thanks to everyone who called, sent gifts and cards or sent messages on her special day.  She was excited about them all!  And for the record, is already talking about when she turns five!!

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Posted in Life, Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings–April Update

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Besides Easter and a very special fourth birthday (stay tuned for a separate post on this one), April was a pretty routine month for us.  Ben worked, Mikayla and I had school and hung out at the hostel and we enjoyed time as a family!  After our month of visitors in March, we enjoyed some quiet down time as a family. 

I was also able to take a mini trip to Mozambique with Joe and Scooter for a weekend, while Ben stayed home with Mikayla.  It was a nice weekend.  We hit up the craft and fabric shops, some of my favorite places to go!!  I got lots of fun fabrics, purses and other small items to add to my collection.  We also visited a fish market and had a delicious lunch of crab, prawns, calamari and some sort of fish.  It was nice to get away for the weekend, but I was glad to get back home with my family when it was over. 

Below are some pictures from our month.

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Mikayla dyed Easter eggs this year.  All the eggs are brown, so it was a little tricky.  She enjoyed every minute of it and asked frequently afterwards when we were going to to dye more.

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Dansile, a child staying short term at the hostel, even got in on the action with the help of Scooter.  Scooter was with Cabrini as a volunteer for a few months and really latched on to taking care of Dansile.  We were even able to have a slumber party with Dansile one night when the kids at the hostel were gone and Scooter had prior commitments. 

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Hunting for eggs.  She was so cute and excited each time she found one!

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Mikayla and Ben had a "tea party date" one day. They both dressed up and had tea in her room while I showered and relaxed!  Please take note of Ben’s tie, this is how everyone here wears them…about a foot too short!

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For school one day Mikayla got to experience shaving cream.  She loved exploring it, writing letters and drawing pictures!  She has even enjoyed playing with it in the shower since then!

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This is a picture we forgot to post while the Steve and Rita were here for a visit.

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This picture is for Meghan, Ben’s cousin.  She made the necklace for Mikayla as a birthday gift.  Mikayla was being too silly to get a good picture, but says thanks for the beautiful necklace.

May is already shaping up to be a busy month for us, but more on that later!


Mikayla’s 4th Birthday, Princess style!

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

I know what you are thinking, Mikayla’s birthday isn’t until April 28.  Well, you are right.  It’s not.  However, with Rita and Steve being around, we thought that it might be fun to have Mikayla’s party early so they could celebrate with us.  So we decided to join together and have a joint birthday celebration for Mikayla (turning 4), myself (turned 30) and Sister Diane (turned 70).  We had a pig roast with lots of sides, and a princess party on the side.  I was pretty pleased with how it turned out.  And I think everyone enjoyed themselves, even if we did forget to play our princess party games!  Here is a picture view from the party.

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Me and my birthday princess.  How in the world did she get so girly?

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Seriously, she was so excited and so cute!

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Princess Joe

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Scooter and the birthday princess

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And here is the food spread!

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Tea cups were made with round cookies for the plate, marshmallows with icing dipped into small sprinkles for the cup, broken pretzels for the handles and candy hearts for the cookies.  Also pictured are the princess cookies she gave as a thank you gift.

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Baked beans not pictured because they were still being cooked!

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Managed to find the cutest star shaped pasta for Joe to make this salad with!

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The cake…I don’t know who was more excited about how it came out, me or Mikayla!

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The princess chair

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This is probably my favorite picture from the day.  She just looks so cute!

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Her grandparents got her a pop up tent for her birthday, how perfect!

All in all I would say it was a success!  Mikayla had fun which is the most important part.  We will have a small "party" on her actual birthday with just us, where she will open all of her gifts that folks sent via Rita and Steve and her gift from us!  Nothing like extending our birthday celebrations for a month!

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Posted in Parenting |

30 Highlights from My 30 Years!

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

In light of my 30th birthday, I thought I would follow the common trend of doing 30 _____ (you fill in the blank) for my 30th birthday!  I have seen people fill in the blank with blessings, moments, wishes, etc.  I am choosing highlights because they can be moments in time, special people, blessings or anything that I think of really!  All of these things have helped to shape me into the person I am today…hopefully I don’t forget anything!  And if I do, it isn’t on purpose just means my memory isn’t what it used to be.  I am 30 after all!  So here we go in no particular order.

  1. Birth of Mikayla – On April 28, 2009, our lives changed forever with the birth of our first daughter.  Words can not describe this highlight in my mind! Mikayla 053
  2. Pregnancy of Baby Kickert #2 – And once again our lives would change when we found out we were pregnant with Baby #2.  A baby boy is sure to be a highlight of my next 30 years!
  3. Marriage to my high school sweetheart – On October 2, 2004 I married the man of my dreams, my high school sweetheart. The wedding itself was wonderful, but the highlight comes in growing together and becoming a family over the last 8.5 years!  Kickert_0166
  4. Moving into my first apartment – The summer before I got married I moved into Royal Arms Apartments, and lived on my very own for the first time in my life!  It was a learning experience and took some adjusting, but I made it through!
  5. Moving into my first house – In August of 2005, Ben and I bought our first house.  It was the home we welcomed Mikayla into, the home we got our first dog and rabbit, and the home that holds so many "first" memories in.
  6. Moving to Swaziland – This was a big step for us as a family, but one that I do not regret or would not change.  We have loved our lives in Swaziland for the last 1.5 years and look forward to what the future holds for us here. Letter D and Nisela 112
  7. Birth of my nieces and nephews – I remember anxiously awaiting the call from my sister telling me she was in labor for the birth of my two nephews and nieces.  I treasure all the "highlights" we have had in their short years of life.
  8. Birth of my goddaughter, Molly – We were honored when our good friends asked us to be the godparents of their first born and have enjoyed watching Molly grow up in the last three years!  I am pretty sure I cried when I got the message from Dave saying she was born on Christmas Eve! Somerset 159
  9. Wonderful friends in our community in BG – We lived in BG for many years and over that time period developed many different friendships.  Some friends we still remain in contact with and some we have lost touch with over the years, but regardless of our friend status today they all fall into my highlights for the last 30 years. Pre-Christmas and Garth 036
  10. Teaching kindergarten and developing a friendship with Lara – The years I spent teaching with Lara were some of my favorite highlights.  We did so many fun things (both in and out of school) that it is too hard to highlight them all.  But some of my favorites are planning graduation ceremonies and coming up with unique things for our kids to do, the year of the rainy field trips (seriously we could not catch a break), dancing and making a fool of ourselves during indoor recesses, Dr. Seuss fun, all the random parties we through to celebrate our kids achievements, and so many more!  Miss those days! St. Louis, end of year, wedding 236
  11. Eating ice cream from the gallon (on multiple occasions) with some high quality girls in college (and even once afterwards) – Oh and watching my friends make fools of themselves by running up and down the hallway with icing on their faces just to make us all smile, or The Crocodile Hunter who was a permanent fixture in our dorm room! I could almost expand this highlight to living in the dorms for three years, so many great moments during that time! Altmaier visit and Labor Day 055
  12. Camping trips with friends  – We did not do this nearly enough when we lived in the states, but those few trips we did take our some of my favorites! Reid, BG2 169
  13. Family time – Both immediate and extended…fishing trips at the farms, making yellow cake with chocolate icing with my Granny Carew, summer trips to NC to visit my grandparents, family vacations to Gatlinburg, and so much more.  Each of my family members are special to me. eScan0005
  14. Tree pictures – This is an Adkins family tradition that I have continued on with my family.  Just ask Ben, every time we o someplace new I am scouting out trees to take the perfect picture in!  I still remember climbing up in the trees in my grandparents yard as a kid to snap a picture. eScan0020
  15. Homeschooling Mikayla – Since I am not currently teaching I have been able to get my teaching fix from homeschooling Mikayla.  Although she is only three, I have enjoyed creating activities that will cater to her developmental level.
  16. Family Vacation to Colorado – The fall before we moved to Swaziland, we took a family trip to Colorado.  It is one of my favorite family memories to date!  Moab 046
  17. Grandparents and Great Grandparents – I not only have the privilege of meeting all my grandparents and great grandparents, but also got to spend quality time with them.  That is a highlight that not many people can say they have.  eScan0002
  18. Reading – My first memories of reading come from my first grade reading groups!  I have gone through spurts in the last 30 years when I would and wouldn’t read, but some of my highlights come from reading.  I can still recall climbing up in the front tree of my childhood home to read a good book!
  19. Road trip to Maine in College – I have always wanted to vacation to Maine, so my freshman year four of us decided to take a long weekend and do just that.  We pretty much spent the whole time driving, but were able to see a few sights and of course eat some yummy lobster too!  It was a classic college trip! Scan0037
  20. Summer abroad with Amy in Guatemala – We learned so much about each other and life all in six weeks while living and working abroad in Guatemala.  The relationships we made that summer have impacted many lives over the years!  So thankful for that wonderful trip.
  21. Basketball – Whether it be watching or playing, I love the sport!  I played from the time I was little bitty all through college (if you can count intramural ball as playing still).  So many great highlights from those times.
  22. Kaleidoscope – Many fun and enlightening projects took place with these kids.  I learned so much from them and with them!  Two highlights from this program would have to be the preparation for the MLK marches and Stop the Traffic event.
  23. Making hair clips – This obsessions started after Mikayla was born, but has been a lot of fun!
  24. Playing Disc Golf – Need I say more?  This sport is wonderful and relaxing and can be played anywhere, even in the bush of Africa!  This has been a fun hobby for us to participate in as a family.
  25. Cooking –  I think I have always loved to cook, but mostly I love to bake!  Honing my skills over the years has been wonderful, fun and challenging all at the same time.  I even took a cake decorating class one year and a semester of a cooking class in college.
  26. Education – I started my education in preschool and continued it on, formally, through my second masters.  I wouldn’t trade my educational experiences for anything!
  27. Internet – Let’s be honest, this has changed all of our lives!  I still remember setting up my first email account.
  28. Church youth group – These were some of the most formidable years of my life and I am still close friends with many of the folks I met.  Good times, great memories.
  29. Traveling – I have mentioned several specific trips in my highlights, but in general being able to travel to various places both within the US and abroad have been great moments of my 30 years!
  30. My first class – I have loved all my classes, but my first class holds a special place in my heart.  I became a real teacher that year and the challenging kids in that class helped to shape me as an educator.  I have loved watching them grow and change over the years! 100_2715


Well that is that, 30 highlights from the last 30 years!  Hope the next thirty are just as fun!

Disclaimer – I realize that most of these highlights took place in college and beyond, but that is where the best of my memory lies!

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Posted in Life |

This Week’s Happenings 5/21-6/6

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

We have been so busy living life lately, that I have neglected blogging!  Here are some quick recaps of what has been happening in our lives.

We celebrated Ben’s 30th birthday in style over the last few weeks.  The celebration began the weekend of his birthday when we went to one of the biggest events in Swaziland – Bush Fire (  It is a huge music and arts festival over three days.  We didn’t attend the whole thing, but went for the day on Saturday.  Mikayla had a blast running around, dancing and after some coercion from daddy playing on the blow up inflatables.  If you know us at all, we aren’t big music people, but still had a lot of fun.  We stayed with our friends Peter, Callista and Aviva that evening.  We had a relaxing Sunday at their house playing and going for a small hike in their neighborhood. 


Ben hanging out with Mikayla and Aviva at Bush Fire.

Last week we welcomed three members of Cabrini College in for a two week visit (Anne, Edna and Melanie).  We have had a great time getting to know them and of course Mikayla is loving all the attention they are giving her. 

Ben was gone last week for four days at a conference and unfortunately while he was gone I came down with a stomach bug.  Mikayla spent a lot of the week watching TV while I napped on the couch.  After four days of puniness I was finally feeling better on Sunday.  As bad as I felt, we are very fortunate to have stayed relatively healthy during our time here.  Luckily I began feeling better just in time for our big Pig Roast as part of Ben’s 30th birthday celebration.

One of our staff members, Sharon, gave us a pig and so the boys (Ben and Joe) decided to tackle roasting the whole thing.  On Thursday I took two other staff members (Stadium and Fodo) to pick up the pig and we spent the evening watching them slaughter it in our front yard!  Mikayla had a blast and thought the whole process was pretty interesting.  Then on Sunday the boys got to work prepping the pig for his cooking session!  You can read more about in on Ben’s blog here.  The meat was delicious and between the pig and all the other goodies, we ended the evening completely stuffed.  We have been eating roasted pig since Sunday – including some delicious pulled pork quesadillas!



Mikayla has been really grasping onto concepts quickly lately.  She surprises me each day with her knowledge and things she knows that I didn’t know she had picked up yet.  She can now spell her last name and probably most exciting of all is that she wrote her whole name by herself for the first time this week.  I sat next to her and showed her how to form each letter and then she would make it on her own.  For a couple of the letters I laid my hand on her wrist to help control her movements, but she made the movements all on her own.  She was so proud of herself when she accomplished it. 


First attempt with sidewalk chalk – a little hard to see.


Second attempt on paper with markers.  As you can see she wrote really large at first and we had to start over.  She was really concerned about her "y" because it had a loop on it instead of the straight down diagonal.  I explained to her that some people do the loopy "y" and that it was okay.  She was cool with it after that! 

That is pretty much all the big stuff that has been going on!  Hope everyone has a great week!


A Mickey Themed 3rd Birthday

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Yesterday evening we celebrated Mikayla’s third birthday with some friends here on the mission by going all out Mickey!  Here is a picture recap of the details from the party.

The Invitations

Although we were inviting mostly people right next door, I still wanted to create some invitations and couldn’t pass up these cuties.

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The Decorations

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These were made from Styrofoam balls painted black and then glued to make a Mickey head.  I also painted her initials on them because I had three.

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Mickey head plates and party hats.  I hot glued two small black plates to a larger one. They weren’t very sturdy, but were cute!  The party hats were made from white cardstock (I would have used red if I had it) and then I glued on two circles for the ears, attached a string and was finished.  I added a little red polka dot bow to the cups to add a little color to the table.

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The door sign – it is no Lara Mattingly banner, but it worked okay! I  replaced the "a’s" and dots on the "i’s" with Mickey heads.

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She was excited about her party!  This shirt was made by Emily Gilliland to raise funds for her adoption (you can have one too, check out her blog for details).

The food

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Yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  We also dipped Oreos and another round cookie in chocolate to make Mickey heads.

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Close up of the chocolate dipped Mickey heads.

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Minnie’s lavender cocktail courtesy of Joe.  So pretty and tasty too!

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We had a Hot Diggity Dog Hot Dog bar.  Complete with homemade hot dog buns, mustard, ketchup, onions, jalapenos, cheese and chili. 

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Goofy’s Garden Veggie with guacamole and Minnie’s Mac and Cheese.

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Chip and Dale Chips and Dip

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Pluto’s Potato Salad

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Pete’s Punch, which was really just homemade lemonade made from lemons straight off the tree!

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Party favors were homemade caramel corn in Mickey bags.

The Guests

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Guest of honor grabbing a quick snack before dinner started.

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Sister Diane

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Sister Barbara
(Joe was here too but I don’t have a solo picture of him or me!)

The Games

We had two games.  The first was to see how many words you could make out of the letters in "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse".  Sister Barbara is a Scrabble fanatic so she blew everyone else out of the water!  We also had a drawing contest to see who could draw the best character from the show.  Mikayla was the judge.

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Hard at work making some words.

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Look at that concentrations!

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Mikayla even joined in on the fun and wrote some letters.

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Judging the drawing contest.

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She chose Joe’s drawing and he was really excited about it!

Some party Snapshots

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Enjoying her Mickey cupcake!

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During present time she would open the gift and then run over to Joe and put it on his lap.  By the time she was finished his lap was piled high with gifts.  Then of course she went back over and studied each one individually!

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She got lots of clothes from Mimi and Poppy so she played a little dress up game.  This is the outfit she ended the day in!

I think everyone enjoyed themselves and most importantly Mikayla had a blast!  It is still hard to believe that she is three!  Thanks to everyone who came out to the party, sent presents or called to wish her a Happy Birthday.  It was a great week of celebrating!