Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pumpkin Patch

Ashton's preschool class took a field trip to the Country Mercantile's fall festival and pumpkin patch.  It was a gorgeous warm day, and we met up with Ash's best buddies T and L.
First we hopped on the wagon to head out to the pumpkin patch. 
" I'm ready to go!"

We were dropped off by a field of itty bittys-- perfect for the preschool kids to carry.

We found the perfect pumpkin.

T and L found great pumpkins too.  Then we headed back onto the wagon!

After putting the pumpkins in our cars, we got together for a class photo.

One of his teachers offered to take one of us together.

Then the kids got to climb a straw bale tower and go through the straw bale maze.

Ash got a little lost, but with me shouting directions at him he finally found his way out.

After cookies and juice we headed to the barn for some animal love.

We love the country mercantile!  After the field trip was over Ash and I stayed to shop and have lunch.  So yummy.
The preschool hosted a pumpkin carving night a few days later where the Dads were supposed to bring the kids and a pumpkin to carve.  Unfortunately, Ashton's Dad was far, far, away on a hunting trip.   After some deliberating and encouragement from the teachers, I decided to take him.  I was sure there would be some other moms there, but nope.  Just me.  And a bunch of Dads. 
Oh well.
Ashton didn't seem to notice.  He was just having a blast planning our pumpkin.

He insisted on drawing the face, so I tried to cut out what he drew.  I had to improvise a little.

After we carved the kids sang some Halloween songs.  It was adorable.  So glad I didn't miss it!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Today was our primary program--- always an emotional day for me.  This was my 3rd program as the chorister and it was probably the best yet.  I didn't have to use any visuals-- the kids knew the songs so well.  I was very proud of them.  There were also a few "special" numbers, including the Senior primary boys singing "A Young Man Prepared", or as I nicknamed it, the "Superhero Missionary" song, and a finale medley of "Home" and "Family Prayer" that I arranged.  I invited a family in the ward to sing the duet part of the medley to go along with the family theme of the program, and it turned out just like the pretty picture in my head.  That's rare. 
Now that the program is over I can think about other things until the Christmas crazy begins. 
(Which is next week.  Arrgghhhh!) 
Here are some pictures of our day in Royal City for our cousin Caden's baptism.  In the car Ashton was making some silly faces-- (when does he not make silly faces?)
Hunter with cousins Caden and Sam.

Hunter, Caden, McKay. 

Ashton with uncle Josh.

After the baptism the boys were excited to give Caden our gift-- a pocket knife.  Unbeknownst to us, this was exactly what he wanted.  Score! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Very Harry Birthday

We began planning Hunter's birthday in August this year.  I knew we'd be having a party, since we haven't had one since he turned 7.   I spent a few weeks racking my brain, trying to figure out a party that would excite me.  The thought of doing it at the trampoline park or the roller arena bored me. The weather is too iffy at the end of September to try a park by the river, so that meant a party at the house.  He's too old for a superhero party and we did the sports thing when he turned 7.  I was kind of stumped for awhile.
I tried to brainstorm with him about the things he was interested in. 
 Reading.  Science.  Video games.
Hmmm....a reading party?  Bring your favorite book party?  That's exactly what a bunch of 10 year old boys want to do at the birthday party!   (sarcastic tone)
So finally we decided to go with the theme of his favorite series-- Harry Potter!  DING!  Why didn't we think of this before?  Something we could both get excited about!
I had over a month to plan, so I began researching and creating party favors and decorations right away.   For the invitations I recreated the Hogwarts acceptance letter and Hogwarts Express train ticket. 

We hand delivered the invitations by door bell ditching each boy and leaving an "owl" on their door step with the invitation clipped to the bottom.

It was quite a fun night of delivering the owls.  McKay decided he could help by ringing the door bell while Hunter left the owl.

A few days before the party we were delighted to find this on OUR door step:

I wanted each child to get to pick a wand at the party, so that was the first craft I tackled.  They turned out to be so easy and fun to make, I made about 20 of them!  Just chopsticks, hot glue, and paint.

I found some adorable little journals at the dollar store, so I decided to make spell books and quill pens.  They turned out to be easy too-- just used up some printer ink and glue.  I found some cheap pens and feathers at the craft store for the quills.

I knew I wanted to have a Honeydukes Candy Store set up, so I made these little shopping bags for the boys to hold all their treats.

And began working on what candy I wanted.  I found these chocolate bar wrappers online:

I also knew I wanted to have a Potions Class, so I began making props for that out of Jason's empty protein powder containers he never throws away. 

I knew exactly how I wanted the party to look and run, so for a month and 1/2 I checked thrift stores, craft stores and party stores to make sure I had exactly what I wanted.  Many of my friends leant me trunks, lanterns, candles, bird cages, etc, and I found a few things I wanted to keep on Amazon.  Meanwhile, the anticipation for the party was killing us! 
Finally the day arrived, and I'm not sure who was more excited-- Hunter, the kids he invited, or ME!
Our front door was supposed to look like Platform 9 3/4, so I had Jason wrap the front door in brick wall butcher paper my best friend happened to have.  I made a sign out of cardboard and spray paint  (gold spray paint became my best friend).   We even had a fog machine hiding behind one of the trunks to go off when boys arrived.
When they walked in they were in "Diagon Alley", and were led over to Flourish and Blotts and Ollivanders to choose their school supplies.
The mantel decorations:
The "Great Hall" was set up and ready for the feast.
Potions class was set up on the backyard porch:


Ok, too much?
Once everyone had arrived and chosen their school supplies, I welcomed everyone to Hogwarts and introduced myself as Professor Gilbert.  I explained that before the feast the boys had to be sorted into houses.  Each house would earn points throughout the party which would be awarded by me placing gold galleons (spray painted plastic money) in a bowl under each house's banner.

We had 12 boys so we had 3 boys in each house, which worked out perfectly.  When I put the sorting hat on each kid they had to pick a house tie (cardboard ones I made) out of a bag.   Of course I had to fix it so Hunter would pick Gryffindor. 
After the sorting the boys found their seats by houses and then were excused to get food depending on how quickly and quietly their house sat down.  I found that by running the party like a school day and enforcing rules and incentives the boys didn't get as raucous as they might have!

I didn't want to have typical party food like pizza, because I didn't think that would go with the world I was trying to create.  Instead we had drumsticks, Cornish meatballs, rolls, and a veggie tray from the herbology greenhouse.  There was also supposed to be sweet potato fries......but somehow they got left in the oven and forgotten.  Whoops.

And to drink-- everyone got their own bottle of Butterbeer!  I was thrilled about these-- they are so yummy.  Almost as good as the ones at Harry Potter World.
Ash enjoyed his meal up at the counter with me-- we turned his batman cape inside out to give him the feel of a school robe.

After the feast we went back in the family room so I could explain our class schedule. 

First was Charms class.  On the first page of each spell book I glued in a page of some of the most popular spells from Harry Potter.  After the kids practiced those, I made them use their quill pen to write their own spell.  They had to make up the name for the spell and what the spell does. 

The boys tried really hard, and it turned out to be hilarious.  They came up with spells like "Ugoro"-- to make something ugly, and "Fleep"-- to make something fly.  Since Hunter was the judge of the best spell, one of the boys came up with a spell to make Hunter rich and famous!  Very clever.

The winner got to open the golden dragon egg and received the treat inside. (Harry potter jelly slugs.)
Next, they went outside for Potions with Professor Snape.
I told Jason he had to be mean and nasty to the boys, and I have to tell ya, he really played the part!  It was a simple mix and stir potion, but he dragged it out and made it really entertaining!  For many of the boys, this was their favorite part of the party.

We made exploding bubbles, which was a simple mixture of unicorn horn powder (baking soda), and then the boys had to add viper venom (vinegar) and troll slime (green dish soap).  It made for a fun, bubbly, green potion!

Then we went on a Care of Magical Creatures scavenger hunt.  I hid plastic spiders, snakes, lizards, frogs, a dragon egg, and the golden snitch.  Each house earned points for the amount of creatures they found. 
Then we played Quidditch.  I put Jason in charge of the rules and running the game.  We teamed up Gryffindor and Ravenclaw to make Gryffinclaw, and Slytherin and Hufflepuff became Slytherpuff. 
To make goals I spray painted these dollar store hula hoops, and Jason mounted them on posts.
The game ended up being like playing soccer with your hands, but the kids LOVED it!  And we couldn't have asked for better weather.

After the game we came back inside for cake and ice cream.  I found these castle pieces on Amazon, and made the cake myself.  Then to cover up the bad frosting job, I sprinkled candy rocks all over the finished cake. 

Then it was time for presents which Hunter opened in record time, since he was anxious to go back to the party stuff.
Someone gave him the Harry Potter wii game, which has become a favorite since then!

After presents we totaled the house points.  Ravenclaw and Slytherin tied with 87 points each, then Gryffindor had 39 points, and Hufflepuff 22.
That meant that Ravenclaw and Slytherin got to go to Honeydukes and pick their candy first.  We had cauldrons of jelly beans (can't do every flavor beans anymore-- Hunter threw up eating a soap flavored one once), Dumbledore's favorite Sherbet Lemons, Pumpkin pasties, chocolate frogs, acid pops, Slytherin mints, golden snitches, droobles, licorice wands, Dementor bars, and wizard chocolates. 
After everyone's treat bags were full and the candy jars were empty, the boys went back outside for some more Quidditch while waiting for their parents to arrive. 
The party lasted 3 hours, and went as well as I could have hoped except for the burned and forgotten fries.  Later that day, I received a few texts from parents telling me how much their kids loved the party.  A few hours later Hunter told me he wished the party was still going on........ what more could I want?
Mischief Managed!