Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ryan's 11th Birthday

We did a scavenger hunt in downtown Walnut Creek for Ryan's party this year and the kids had a blast.  I divided them into three groups and had Andy with one, Alaina with one, and I took the other, just to make sure we didn't lose anyone.  They had a list of 20 things they had to take pictures of and the first team back with all the pictures won.  The best part was looking at all the pictures afterwards.
Of course there had to be a soccer game at the party!

Ryan asked for a soccer field cake...this is the best I could do.  At least the kids ate it all!  He opened his presents, then they watched a Veggie Tales movie...they are hilarious.

We had a soccer ball pinata outside and the kids decided to play soccer with it to break it open!  They all went home with plenty of sugar.  October 2011
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Alaina's Surprise Party: She's 15!

Cabo helped unwrap the phone
Alaina's birthday started with presents in bed and Cabo helping to unwrap.  He could get used to this!  She finally got a new phone.  Her old one broke in June and she was phone and textless all summer.  I think she is feeling good to be reconnected.  About a week before her birthday Alaina created a Facebook message to about 10 friends to invite them to get together at a restaurant for her birthday.  I was already trying to plan a surprise party and luckily had let a few of her friends know what I was working on.  One of those very smart friends texted me to alert me to Alaina's plans (that I knew nothing about!) and I had her create a different Facebook message, excluding Alaina, and I communicated with everyone through that.  I asked them all tell Alaina they were busy Friday but could come on Saturday (so she wouldn't feel bad that no one could come) and I told them secretly to plan on coming Friday.    I told Alaina that Dave and I wanted to take her out for our dinner on her real birthday and she begrudgingly agreed since she was thinking she'd have her own thing on Saturday.

Surprise at the Cheesecake Factory
I got balloons and made a cake and cupcakes that I had someone else bring there.  Then, when it was time to go to the restaurant she really didn't want to be going out with us on her real birthday.  Dave had been out of town and was planning on meeting us there, so he went early and saved a table.  I had 11 girls on the Facebook group and 16 ended up coming, so we had a few extra.  Dave texted me when they were all there and seated and I thought I found a great parking spot (got a ticket later!).  Alaina and I walked in and she didn't see her friends until they all stood up and shouted, "SURPRISE!!!"  It was great!  They really got her.

Beautiful friends, inside and out
After dinner a lot of the girls had to go home because it was already 10pm and they had soccer and early cross country meets on Saturday but Dave and I took 7 girls to the bowling alley and watched them bowl.  They were hilarious!  I think the high score was in the 70's and the low score was in the 30's but they had a blast.  At the end I gave them each a quarter for the machines (that's all I had left after dinner and bowling) and they all bought mustaches.  I love Alaina's friends.  Happy birthday, Awesome Alaina!
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Becca's Birthday Bonanza: She's an official teenager now!

The Kidnap Breakfast Bandits
Becca's birthday week began with an awesomely orchestrated kidnap breakfast!  Four of her great friends came over early in the morning on Wednesday (the day before her birthday) and pounced on her in bed.  They let her get dressed, since they had to go straight to school after breakfast, but wrapped her in scarves and other funny things on top of her clothes.  Love the floatie!  A very nice mom drove them all to a restaurant and after they ate another very nice mom brought them to school.  It was a great surprise!

Becca's long awaited Chi straightener
On the morning of her birthday, Becca opened her presents in bed, as we always do, and she finally got her pink Chi straightener.  She's been waiting FOREVER.  Cabo loves helping open presents.  He can really unwrap them!

Becca's favorite:  strawberry shortcake with strawberies in lemon sauce
After school, Becca had a few friends over for her favorite Sticky Chicken take out and strawberry shortcake.  They watched Titanic, which she has been waiting so long to be 13 for...I did record it from TV so it was still edited a little.  It was a great night for her.

Becca's sneaky friends
The next day, I took her to her friends house to hang out and a bunch of friends were actually there and had made dinner for her surprise party!  She was super surprised and felt very loved.  I made a purse cake because she is a textbook teen...loves shopping.  Becca has awesome friends!

On Saturday night, Dave and I kept our tradition of taking the birthday kid out to eat alone.  She got to pick the restaurant and no one else was there to complain about the place or the food. And, she got our undivided attention for the night!  Becca always picks Fujian.  It's her favorite place and they know her well.
What a fun birthday week.  Happy birthday, Beautiful Becca!
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Night in Tuscany

Last Spring, our ward had an auction to raise money for youth projects.  We donated a "Night in Tuscany for 10" 5-course meal.  After coming up with a date that everyone could do, we finally had the dinner party in August.  We made a lot of things that we learned on our trip to Italy with Chef Mario.
20 Agosto 2011
                        Antipasto:  Arancini di riso

        Insalata:  Insalata di gamberi al limone con parmigiano

      Primo piatto:  Fettuccine all’amatriciana

    Secondo piatt:  Saltimbocca alla romana con patate al aglio

Torta di nocciole e cioccolato con gelati di cocco e nocciola
Ananas carmellato e fragole con gelati di fragola e banana
Bibite italiane
Arrancia rossa
Frutto di passione
Melagrana di mora

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My Beautiful Daughter, Alaina.

September 2011
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Monday, August 29, 2011

Another Summer Trip! New York and Canada 2011

July 9.  After spending the night in Buffalo, NY, we went to Niagara Falls State Park.  The Falls were spectacular. We got pretty wet on the Cave of Winds walk as we walked along the base of the American Falls in our yellow ponchos and fancy rubber sandals. Then we got pretty wet again on Maid of the Mist boat ride that went right up the base of Bridal Veil Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and American Falls. So wet that we think that is where Alaina's phone broke (that tell tale red dot that indicates water damage and renders your warranty void showed up pretty soon after the Falls).

The person at the tourist info center talked Dave into getting a package deal with a guide.  Bad idea.  Don't do it.  It just meant we had to wait for everyone in the group and had to pay a little more to wait in the same lines as the people who could come and go as they pleased.  We did have a great day though, and the weather was perfect. 
July 10.  We went to church in Toronto and Donny Osmond was visiting the Ward.  Dave and I have had a running joke since our New York days that we see famous people then realize it's not really them. So when he said, "Look, it's Donny Osmond."  I just laughed, but then I heard a lot of people whispering and looking at the back pew so I looked and it was him.  Alaina shook his hand, then later asked me who he was.  I guess he's not current with the teen scene.  After church, we drove to Collingwood, and spent a few days at Cranberry Resort.
July 11.  We went bowling and after we got there, we quickly realized what people meant when they said that Canadian bowling was different. The ball is tiny and there are only 5 pins.
 July 11.  We went mini golfing at the zoo.  Well it wasn't really a zoo, but it looked like one.  After I took these pictures someone came out and asked us not to touch the animals.  Like they were real.
Then we went go-karting.  It was Ryan's first time driving and after he and my brother got kicked off the course in North Carolina, I'd have to say he did pretty well here!  We decided this was the worst family picture a person has ever taken for us!  At least it shows we were all together and Dave wasn't working for a few minutes :)
Cranberry Resort was a very peaceful place on a lake.

I was taking pictures of the kids and a guy that was barbecuing with his family asked if we'd like a picture all together.  Given the last stranger photo, I thought we couldn't do worse so I handed him my camera.  He proceeded to direct us as if we were at a photo shoot.  It was pretty funny.  He did a great job, but sadly we must not be meant to all be looking good in the same photo.  We finally got Ryan to smile in one and I had to go and blink!  Oh well.  We look semi-happy, right?  I love my family!

July 13.  We went to a mountain resort and rode the mountain coaster (Ridge Runner).  It's like an alpine slide but instead of being in a cement chute and carrying your own sled up the chairlift, it's more like a roller coaster on a chain and you can't fall out.  You control how fast you go and it's awesome!
We went to Scenic Caves and did an Eco Adventure tour, climbing in and around caves for an hour. Then we got ready for some serious fun.
Ready to go!

It was a 3 hour tree top course that had us 50 feet up in the air, climbing on 10" wide swinging planks between trees.  We paired off with Dave and Andy going first, then Becca and me, and then Alaina and Ryan. At every tree we switched our cables and it was pretty scary.  Exhilarating fun!  Dave and I couldn't believe how well Alaina was able to help Ryan.  At one point he told her she should start digging his grave, but she made a game of it and he was able to make it to the end.  All the kids were amazing!
At the end of the tree top trekking, we got to do two zip lines.  The first was 300 feet long through the forest and the kids went upside down.  The second was a 1,000 foot Escarpment Zip-line ride with a 150 foot vertical drop.  It was awesome!
At the beginning of the 425 foot suspension bridge.
What a fun day!

July 14.  We drove to Palmyra, NY and checked into our hotel, then drove to the Hill Cumorah Pageant.  It was an incredible show.  Over 700 cast members, all volunteers, and lots of lighting and set changes.  It was a great experience.  Some of the kids and I want to apply to be in it next year, but they usually get over 4,000 applications, so I think we may just be observers again sometime.

July 15.  We drove to the Sacred Grove and walked through Joseph Smith's farm house and frame house.  We went through the threshing bard and learned how they did things in the 1800's.  It was amazing to stand in places I have read about my whole life and to be where the Prophet Joseph lived and received the First Vision.

The Sacred Grove.

Grandin Printing Press, where the first 5,000 copies of  Book of Mormon were printed.  We learned that it took several years to print and bind them all.

The Hill Cumorah.  We went back to see everything in daylight and went through the visitors center.  What a beautiful place. We drove from New York through Pennsylvania and on to Ohio and checked into another hotel for the night.

July 16.  We went to the Kirtland temple and had a tour with very knowledgeable guide from the Community of Christ Church, who now owns the temple. We walked all over Kirtland and saw the Newel K Whitney, Ashery, and Sawmill.  We drove to Hiram and toured the Johnson Home, where Emma and Joseph lived when he was tarred and feathered. Just being in all of these places made me grateful again for all of the sacrifices that have been made for the Gospel.  I am thankful for it!
July 17.  We went to church in Kirtland, with tons of other visitors, and then flew from Cleveland to Chicago to SFO.  I love traveling, but it's always great to get home again.
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Ice Cream Cupcakes!

So, my neighbor called to tell me she had a birthday present for me (in June).  It took us about a month to get together and when we finally did, she told me that she was at the store with her 13 year old son who picked out the gift.  He saw it and said, "Mrs. Bain would like this!"  It was a cupcake plunger.  How would he know that?! 
Fast forward a few weeks.  I was planning on bringing a birthday treat for one of the misisonaries' birthdays on Sunday and had asked someone if they thought she'd like lemon or chocolate.  After cleaning up a dinner party at 11:45pm the night before, I checked my phone and there was a text saying she would like an ice cream cake.  AN ICE CREAM CAKE!  It was almost midnight and I already had the other dessert ready to bring so I almost went to bed.  But, at 12:15am I thought about my own kids and that someday they'll will have a birthday on a mission somewhere far away and I hope someone will make something they like for them.  And so I put the cupcake plunger to use and made ice cream cupcakes.  Everyone loved them!  I was so grateful to my awesome neighbors for being so thoughtful.  I am sure they had no idea that this gadget would save me at midnight.
I immediately made ice cream cupcakes and they were a hit.
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