Friday, December 21, 2007

This should sum things up

Merry Christmas from
Megan and Matt
Ella and Catherine deMontaigne almost a perfect family picture

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sharing Christmas is here!!!

Hello everyone....
I'm so glad you've decided to stop by and I hope you enjoy the tour. If you're wondering what this is all about go HERE and read all about it. Ok, now that you're back please take some time day, tomorrow or however long it takes, to visit the "homes" represented here. Since each person has opened up their home to you, I would encourage you to say hello and leave a comment after visiting. Doesn't have to be major, a simple Merry Christmas would do!

There's still time to join in the fun - at any point really, even if you've stopped by here from another blog! Please let me know through a comment. I'll add you to the list and make sure I note it so people know there's an addition.

Here's the list of your tour... (some of these might not be posted when you click - keep checking throughout the day)

Renee @ Hangin' with your Naybor
Greg @ Agent Orange Records
Christina @ Crafty Pumpkin
Nancy @ Tulipa Murillo
Julie @ Green Eggs and Hammes
Dawn @ The DiCo's
Megan @ A Day with the Demos - just keep scrolling and mine will start
Erin @ Flimsy Dress
Jessica @ Me Myself and I (new)

So sit back. Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and grab a few cookies (it's never too early for Christmas cookies) and enjoy Sharing Christmas....

Christmas 2007 with the deMontaigne's

First of all - welcome to our home and thanks for stopping by! If you were to really come by
you would be welcomed by our twinkling stars hung along our porch and some real garland (gotta love Produce Junction!) covered with white lights. And our crazy little trio of Christmas trees.

We have a pretty small house so I basically put alot of decorations in a few rooms and hope that Christmas spirit flows through the rest of the house! This first picture is of our TV armouir. The tall wooden snowman in the back is a new addition this year. The bright red candle/snowman holder doesn't really fit there but I didn't get around to moving it. In year's past I've had pillar candles of various heights lining the top but never got to it this year. Notice the lighted garland going up the stairs - wrapped in a "believe" ribbon (Matt's touch).

On the radiator cover near the door, I'm able to use some of the holly from a tree out back in a simple piece of pottery that I bought in Germany. I love using fresh foliage in the winter and that tree is really a pain in the butt the rest of the year because it's leaves are so prickly - using it for decoration helps me not hate the tree. Next to it is a satchel of pot pourri that has a quote from my favorite Christmas movie It's a Wonderful Life - it says "Everytime a bell rings and angel gets his wings."

I promise I'll try not to include so much detail the whole way through. This is the view into our dining room. I just love lighted garland - can ya tell?!! And there is our lovely tree.

We have a tradition of sending Matt to Home Depot and buying our tree there. It's real though and it smells wonderful. Don't you love that crooked angel? How many of you are just itchin' to fix it?

Our tree is filled with a variety of decorations. I use simple red and gold Christmas balls to keep some sort of theme but it's downhill after that. My parents bought me an ornament every year and I got to take them with me when I got married and moved out. Included with those were numerous extra ones received as gifts and all the beautiful crafty ones I made in school. More than enough to cover our tree entirely but there are definitely some weirder ones in there. The funny thing is that because of the way the trends are (or perhaps some things just are classic) some of the ornaments I had when I was young are things that Ella knows. For instance, she was so excited by this ornament....

I also have an oreo cookie ornament that she was equally excited about!

Of course we've started our own collection of ornaments. Many first Christmas, first baby and even a first home one. I really like this cute little bear one...

Now that Ella is in school we get to start collecting all her wonderul handmade ornaments. Here is is proudly displaying an ornament she made a few weeks ago that matches one that mommy made back in 1980. Wow, scary...
Here's a shot of our lovely dining room table, free from the clutter that usually decorates it. Say hello to Matt! (our new computer came today and he eagerly unloaded it onto the table and was forced to remove it for the picture)
The stockings were all hung on the play kitchen with care??? This was Ella's idea and it actually works pretty well since we don't have a mantle. Yes Catherine does get a stocking. I believe she took it up to her room one afternoon so I'll have to rescue it before Christmas Eve.

Final room is the kitchen. Our kitchen table is something we bought right after we got married. It cost us $20 and it's still going strong. And only four of us are allowed to eat at the table at a time. No, actually we bring in a chair from the dining room. The kids really like the placemats and it helps keep things neater.
I've included a picture of my cooling rack. Not very festive but it gets alot of use this time of year.

I really enjoy baking and like to bake cookies to give as gifts to people. Last year I posted the recipe for my yummy Chocolate Caramel cookies so take a second to check them out if you're a fan of that kind of thing. You know, chocolatey goodness and all. I made them again this year along with sugar cut-out cookies, peanut butter cup cookies, craisin white chocolate and oats cookies and pumpkin with burnt sugar frosting cookies.

I'm not going to post any of those recipes, instead I'm going to give you the recipe for our Christmas morning breakfast. I grew up always having a special Christmas breakfast and it's continued on as a tradition in our home as well.

These two recipes are from Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals and they are both so "yummo!".

Sausage Scrambles
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage - definitely use maple
8 large eggs
A splash of milk
6 ounces (1/3 pound) Cheddar - or whatever - add as much as you like!

Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, add sausage and brown and crumble the meat, 5 or 6 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain off the fat. Return pan to heat and reduce the temperature to medium low.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Scramble the eggs until soft, then add cheese and continue to scramble another minute or so to finish cooking eggs and to begin to melt the cheese bits. Remove pan from heat and combine sausage and eggs.

Pretty basic but the maple sausage makes it really tasty.
This next one is the best.

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 ounces,
1/4 cup, chopped walnuts (optional, we don't add them)
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 really ripe bananas, mashed up
3/4 cup raisins 1/2 stick butter,
1/4 cup, melted butter, plus additional for buttering skillet (I don't bother with buttering the skillet)

Here's a great tip: if you cannot find really ripe bananas, just nuke them in the microwave for about 15 seconds and they will become super soft for mashing.
Mix dry ingredients, the first 7, in a bowl. In a another bowl, mix the wet ingredients, the next 4. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, then fold in the mashed up bananas and the raisins. Stir in the melted butter.
Heat a griddle over medium heat and brush with additional melted butter. Cook pancakes, each about 1/3 cup, until bubbles form on the top, then turn. Cakes will cook in about 2 minutes on each side. Keep pancakes tented with foil as they come off the griddle to keep them hot. Serve with drizzled honey or maple syrup over the top.

The batter is very thick and different than your typical pancake. Maple syrup goes really well with these.

That is one of our traditions. Similary to many of you, we are a young family still starting to figure out our own family traditions. One thing I've enjoyed doing with the kids is an advent tree/calendar. We take turns putting up a day and dancing to the music that the star on top plays. Ella also has a Santa from school that she adds a cotton puff to each day to show her that Christmas is getting closer. We go to our church for a Christmas Eve service and do Christmas morning and stockings at home.

past few years we've made it a point to stay home for Christmas day for a number of reasons. We really want to establish our own family traditions and be a family unit. With having both families far away we couldn't see both on Christmas and this way we don't have to pick one over the other. We will travel and have Christmas in Clearfield with my family right after our Christmas. We'll go to Maryland for Christmas with the deMontaigne's after that and stay through New Year's. Both my brother's live away from our hometown so we try and coordinate our plans so we have time together. This year it looks like we won't be seeing Mike and Sharon as she is 37 weeks pregnant and their insurance won't cover them out of state. That's sad for all of us and for them, but I know that this will bond them together as a unit even more as they prepare for this crazy adventure of parenting!

As far as gifts, Matt and I decided not to exchange this year because we've had alot of expenses and have some house projects coming up. The kids get gifts from us and I told Ella that the unwrapped gifts are from Santa - which is an easel and art supplies for both of them.

Thank you for sharing in our Christmas with us. We wish you a Christ-filled Christmas (and I just realized I forgot to post our mangers....picture at the very end - Ella "set" them up for the picture - actually four different mangers/baby Jesus' - can you find them all?) and a blessed New Year....
the deMontaignes

Making Christmas last

I have so many other things to do but I couldn't resist adding to the ever growing list of ideas for Works for me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer.

One of my favorite traditions growing up had to do with savoring Christmas and enjoying it throughout that whole week off from school. My mom hated seeing us rip open our gifts and have everything done with in a matter of hours so when we were pretty young she basically set aside a small pile of seven gifts to be opened one a day from Christmas to New Years. They were usually smaller gifts, like books, CDs, new clothes, socks etc. As we got older it was up to us to pick which ones we would open Christmas morning but she would usually guide us if there was a special gift that should be opened right away. I loved this because it served a purpose of slowing everything down. It got so that each of us would open our gifts very slowly and watch one another and see which gift they would pick out next. Also it helped avoid that feeling of let-down that so often comes right after Christmas. The next mornings we were excited to open our next gift - socks, clothes, whatever!, and rush in to see what our siblings had opened. It felt like Christmas all week long and we were able to have a more relaxed, low key Christmas morning. Also I think it's a nice treat for a school ager who might need a little excitement while at home all week. I remember loving it and in fact we continued the tradition all through high school even when we had the choice not to.

So that's my tip for WFMW on how to make Christmas last....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Update

Hi folks...I'm excited to see your homes and hear about your Christmas preparations and celebrations this year. There are about seven or eight bloggers participating and in hopes of bringing in a few more, I'm going to push Sharing Christmas back until Thursday. It really has nothing to do with me forgetting to take pictures and our outdoor wreath blowing down and Matt forgetting to put our garland up. Honestly, nothing to do with that! Ok, I just looked and realized that I had it set at Thursday originally. Probably because I knew Wednesday was a busy day and I needed more time. But I forgot that I actually thought ahead...Sorry for any confusion. Thursday it is and always was!!

So in the meantime, I will continue to try and guilt, I mean, persuade others to join in on the fun! Christina over at Crafty Pumpkin is offering a sweet deal to those who visit her home so you'll have to check it out!

There are a few of you who will have different Christmas's this year so I really would love to hear from you and hope you'll consider joining in. To be specific; Jodi at Beautiful Collision - you're living with your in-law's, I know you have alot to share! Tasha - living in France means none of us get to see you but perhaps we can get a peak into what Christmas looks like to you (if you're back in your apartment that is). Mike and Sharon - this could be your first and last Christmas in Boston and your last before Kurbis arrives! Erin W - I think you have more animals than humans in your home, right? Or maybe it's even! Anyway - I know you love to take pictures so you have no excuse for not having a shot of one of your dogs wearing reindeer ears!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sharing Christmas

Anyone care to give us a peak inside your home this Christmas? Ok, I totally copied this idea from Boomama, who is doing a Christmas house tour over at her blog. Basically you give us a "tour" of your home on your blog. I'm not suggesting anything too extensive, but I think it would be really fun for us to take some pictures of our house in their Christmas grandeur and then all post them on the same day.

Also, you could include a peak into what your Christmas will be looking like in other ways. What are baking, what special gifts are you giving, are you traveling or staying home, what are some special traditions do you do with your family to make Christmas your own (I know so many of us are newly married or with young families and we're just started to establish our own traditions), do you have a favorite meal/recipe that is only made at Christmas, what type of activities do you like to do leading up to Christmas (advent calendars, caroling, special church services).

I love to see other people's home at Christmas time and I to have people over as well. There's just something so cozy about visiting under twinkling Christmas lights and a tree while munching on yummy Christmas goodies. I also love hearing about other's Christmas traditions and basically how they enjoy the entire month of December. I just spoke with someone the other day whose family as a pajama day on Dec. 26th. They spend all day in their pjs eating popcorn and snacks and playing games and watching movies together. A totally different tradition but one is about bringing family together when it's so easy to scatter.

I know I have a few different groups of people that frequent this blog. Friends from college, some that I've become newly in touch with through blogging, friends from around here, family, friends of friends,friends of family and friends I don't know yet. Some of you comment regularly, some just chime in to let me know you're reading and some are lurkers. I think it would be fun if everyone (shootin' for the stars here people!) "signed up" to do this in the comments below. Thursday, December 20th, I'll post a list with links to your blogs and we can share a picture of our homes and lives this Christmas. Obviously you could include as much or as little as you'd like - not something that should be stressful, but fun!

So please help make this fun and comment below if you'd like to participate. I look forward to sharing Christmas with you all!

Edited....I just want to make sure you all know that I want this to be a fun way to document this season of the year during this season of your life. I know for some of you it's crazy and busy and babies are everywhere or you're pregnant or you're working and so on and so on. Hopefully you could see this as a way to share a bit of where you are at and how, in the midst of where God has you and what He has put into your life, you are doing to celebrate this special time. It may be bare bones minimum, you may be stressed with the expectations or you may be loving all of it. I hope this is a way to connect and share with others - most that we won't be seeing and some we're just getting to know and some we don't even know!

Monday, December 10, 2007

She's Four!!!

(I started this last Tuesday and finished it today. Somehow the pictures I upload got erased and I couldn't add them again so I lost a bit of steam and just now got a chance to sit down and concentrate on it again. )

Today was Ella's birthday! A little bit anticlimatic after Saturday's events but we had to celebrate somehow - just in a more subdued fashion. Since it was a Tuesday, as well as her birthday, I was assigned to be the helper in her preschool class and bring in a special snack - cupcakes of course. She wore a birthday crown on which she drew a sweet picture of her family which became a bit unrecognizable when I suggested adding hair. Apparently we are all pretty hairy!

For those of you who read this blog pretty regularly you hear alot about Ella, but I still can't resist devoting a post to my firstborn. There's so much to say about Ella. I think I could write a post everyday just filled with the things that she says that day. But I don't because at the end of the day I usually forget them. She is very insightful (in a four year old way) and constantly observing life around her and trying to make sense of what she sees. We have alot less "whats" these days and a whole lot more "hows" and "whys". Usually listening to her process life is pretty humorous. A few weeks ago somehow we got on the subject of death and dying and somehow that lead to having babies (circle of life you know) and her thought process went as follows..."So... Nama (my mom) ate alot of food and got a big fat belly and then she had you?"

Ella is a very active little girl. She loves to run and wiggle and dance. The picture below is a typical Ella shot - on the go and unwilling to slow down - especially for pictures.

The things Ella loves. She loves projects. Art, cooking, decorating - any type of creating appeals to her and she usually asks to have some sort of project at least once a day. Anytime I get an idea for an activity I save it for when she asks for a project, because an afternoon can be become pretty unbearable if Ella decides she must have a project and I can't think of one. For her birthday we got her a kids' concoction kit - a recipe book full of ideas and projects as well as paints, glue, glitter and glow in the dark stuff along with measuring cups and spoons for the "recipes". It was a great deal at Costco so if you have a kid interested in creating things I would recommend this. She also got paints and sponges and little paint cups from my parents. Both have already gotten alot of use.

Ella also loves her sweets. After lunch and dinner she always asks for a treat. She is really clear that she doesn't want a snack, but a treat.

Treats are usually something like a handful of chocolate chips or a cookie or something like that. I try to make it small things so she isn't overindulging but at least it's only two small sweets a day.

She's become a really good eater. She loves broccoli (Praise the Lord on high for that!!) and has recently started enjoying celery. She loves any kind of soup and will eat any vegetable that she finds in her soup without questioning it at all. Her favorite "meal" would be a turkey and cheese sandwich, macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers or pizza. Her birthday dinner was homemade chicken fingers (breaded with crunched up cornflakes, so easy and good) and good ol' Kraft mac 'n' cheese. Unfortunately her moods often dictate her willingness to eat the food we're eating. Often times it's thing I know she'll like but she resists just because....actually I don't know why - just exerting her strong will I guess. She loves fruit and often overindulges. I recently bought a box of clementines and her and Catherine realized they could peel them on their own. I think Ella had 5 in one day. It wrecked havoc on her digestive system (still is!). I was working on Saturday and while I was gone Matt said that the girls sneaked a few oranges before he realized what was going on.

Ella loves clothes and she loves to dress up. Not only does she love to dress up in her princess outfits (as evidenced by the party pictures) but she loves to just wear dressy clothes. She would wear a dress and tights everyday if I let her. Truth is, we just don't have that many dresses and tights. Because although she may look sweet and dainty, she doesn't refrain from wrestling and rolling around on the ground so her clothes are pretty dirty by the end of one wearing.

A funny example of her love for dressy clothes happened about a month ago. She had her Thanksgiving program at preschool that we all came to watch. I believe she was wearing jeans and a sweater and her sneakers. I was dressed similarly - jeans and a sweater (but I did have heels on so for me it was dressy!). I was feeling crampy and yucky afterwards so when we got home I immediately went upstairs and changed into my comfy clothes - yoga pants, t-shirt and some type of fleece. Meanwhile in the room next to mine Ella was busily shedding herself of jeans and sweater and putting on a dress, tights and black dress shoes. Which she proceeded to wear ALL. DAY. LONG. It's moments like these that make me wonder how she is related to me!

Here is a sweet picture of her the above mentioned outfit. I made her take of the shoes to play on her blow up bed.

But there's more to it. At one point she lifted up that top dress to reveal another underneath and excitedly said "Look, mom - double dress!" As if there could be nothing greater!

She also loves to put together random outfits that in no way look good together. I don't have a picture of her latest outfit but it without a doubt was the craziest. She had a long sleeved t-shirt on. On top of that was a pink and brown polka dot one piece swimsuit. On top of that was a pair of striped tights. I imagine it wasn't too comfortable because it only lasted a half hour or so.

There's so much more I could say about her. She is a beautiful little girl full of so much personality and spunk and heart. Sorry if I'm repeating myself from up above but I started this a week ago and I'm just now finishing. Sorry for the length but who doesn't want a chance just to ramble on and on about their beloved little one?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Soup's On!

I have a number of other things that I've been planning on posting about (namely a four year old post about Ella - but blogger has been not letting me upload my pics which are just absolutely necessary!) but I love soup and I'm a fan of Boomama's so I decided to participate in her Soup-tacular soup exchange.

I'm posting two of my favorite soup recipes. Interestingly enough these were both given to me by the same person, my wonderful friend Shannon (who doesn't blog, but you can check out her husband Greg's blog if you feel like it). So big shotout to Shannon for bringing these soups into my life, and subsequently, yours!

The first is for a corn chowder that I most recently made at a fall party we hosted and everyone loved it and asked for the recipe. That was two months ago. Instead of sharing it with them, I'm sharing it with you all!

Corn Chowder
8 slices bacon, minced

1 small onion, minced
2 17oz cans of creamed corn (the cans I found were smaller than this so I used more than 2 - never can have too much creamed corn!)
3 cups cooked, cubed potatoes (I'm sure I use more of these also. I just boil them until slightly tender because I like to let the soup simmer for awhile to let the flavors blend. But I don't mind if the potatoes are falling apart -because it's a soup!)
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Fry the onion and bacon in a pot (until bacon is cooked). Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until hot.

See - easy cheesy. This soup can be made pretty quickly, but like I said I think it tastes best when it's been on the stove on low for awhile.

I think this soup goes wonderfully with roast beef sandwhiches - hot or cold.

The second soup is an old fashioned chicken noodle soup. It's just so good and I think everyone needs a good homemade chicken noodle soup. I don't like the chicken noodle soup at Panera's anymore and I think it's because this is just better (in my opinion of course). It was originally a chicken and dumplings recipe but I adapted it for soup. If you're a fan of dumblings let me know and I can post that recipe as well.

The thing that I think makes this soup so good is the chicken paste base and the homemade noodles.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles
3 split chicken breasts
1 large onion cut into wedges
3 carrots (I always use more) choppped
3 stalks celery (ditto above) chopped
Chicken paste (not bouillion cubes or powder!!! scoop this out with a spoon)

Fill large pot with water (sorry so subjective - I have no specific measurements). Add salt and pepper to your liking and bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts and simmer for 20 minutes. Add veggies and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove chicken and veggies. Shred chicken. Add 3T Chicken Paste (you might want to add a bit more - again, to taste) Bring to a boil and toss in the noodles.

OK now this is when you take the homemade noodles that you made while the veggies were cooking and add to the soup.

Egg Noodles
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the beaten egg, milk, and butter. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Let rest in a covered bowl for 10 minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thickness. (I like them thicker) Cut into desired lengths and shapes. Allow to air dry before cooking. Hangers work well for this.

Allow the noodles to boil for a few minutes in the soup before adding the veggies back in. Remember that the noodles tend to suck up some of the broth so make sure you account for this when you're deciding how many noodles to put in our how much water to start with. The noodles need some time to cook and soak in the flavor of the soup and become nice and tender (unless you made them really thin, but why would you?!).

It's supposed to be cold up here in the Northeast - perfect weekend to try one of these recipes with a nice hot loaf of french bread.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Party

Part 1: The Cake

The cake I was making really wasn't that hard. Unfortunately the process of baking the cake was much more laborious than I was anticipating. The design called for 5 8-inch cakes, with the fifth one cut into quarters to be used as the castle tower. Ice all the cakes, put them together, decorate and then add the sprinkle covered sugar cones. Easy enough. Thursday morning I realized that the two square pans I had were different sizes (one was a 9-inch) so I could only bake one cake at a time. So that means, five times throughout the day I baked for 26-28 minutes, cooled, flipped the cake out, cleaned the pan and then started over. And THEN I realized that since I was using a glass baking pan (aka, lasagna pan) and not a cake pan, the sides were slightly slanted out and if you ever make layer cakes you'd know that in order to have it look nice the sides have to be perfectly straight. So then I cut the sides off each cake. Before this I already had to level each cake which means there was lots of cake scraps sitting around, which means I ate alot of cake that day.

Because the baking took more time than I had planned on I just didn't have a ton of energy to decorate the cake, so I wasn't completely happy with that. There are alot of little extra touches I would have done had I felt up to it. The most important part was that it tasted really good. Matt just finished up the last of it this evening. So at long is a picture of Ella's birthday cake....
The hardest part was getting the flags, AKA toothpicks, to stay in the top of the sugar cones. I had to gently chisel a hole in the top of each one and then secure it with icing. A real pain but it would have looked weird without it. Notice how all the Disney princesses are trying to be the first in the door.

Part 2: The Princesses and Princes and etc,

Both Ella and Catherine were excited to dress up. I was upstairs putting a few things away in Ella's room and I heard Catherine climbing up the stairs saying over and over again "I snow white, I snow white" Sounded more like "I toe white", but I understood. She was all ready to get into her outfit. As soon as Ella saw her sister she was up in a flash putting on her Cinderella dress, shoes and crown. I believe it was a total gift from God when she told me she "switched her mind" and she just wanted to wear her hair down. Her crown was an example of the craft the kids were going to make - she choose that over a more elaborate Cinderella tiara.

Hear are some shots of my little girls.

Notice how the crown is pulled down on her ears!

Catherine eventually allowed us to put a barrette in her hair.

Aside from the girls that showed up in princess costume and fancy dresses, we had a knight, a prince (I think we can say that Nolan was Prince Charming because he came in a tux with a long stem pink rose for Ella!), Buzz Lightyear the Space "knight", Peter Pan, a superhero and a beanstalk. It was fun that all the kids got into it and participated in dressing up.

Part 3: The Chaos

Last year I wasn't sure if I was going to do a party for Ella and waited too long to plan it and then not many of her friends could come. It was still fun and she had alot of her mommy and daddy friends there but a couple of times she asked about when kids her age would come. So this year I planned ahead and got a date out and we were able to have it on December 1st, before alot of the Christmas craziness gets going. That meant that basically everyone (Dawn, we did miss Anthony and Sophia) was able to come. So there were 17 kids, including mine, in our house yesterday. It made for a pretty crazy afternoon. We had the basement set up to play in so it was nice to have kids spread out a bit. I had a few projects for them to do, making foam crowns and visors that could be covered in stickers and jewels, making princess magnets and making magic wands. Also, my friend Kelly was giving everyone princess tattoos. After the craft chaos, we had food chaos when 17 kids scarfed down pizza and juice and the parents tried to grab a bit as well. Ulimately it went well and I think we had only one pizza casualty (juice spill) and there was enough food for everyone.

Then we moved on to cake and presents. I don't have pictures from the Happy Birthday singing but I had some friends who took pictures and I'll get a bunch up on my flickr page when I get a chance.

Opening presents was more of the same chaos. Present time is the moment when even the kid who has been sticking close to mom the entire time decides that this is something they aren't going to miss out on. Ella also had a few helpers so I had to try my hardest to get her to slow down so I could read the card and she could say thank you.

Here I am surrounded by little princesses. They got closer and closer with each present and I was honestly sweating by the end. Don't see me in this picture? I've been swallowed by little girls! I just had to include a picture with some of my friends and fellow moms who helped celebrate with us!

And of course I couldn't have a birthday party post without mentioning my parents, who made the trip from Clearfield to be a part of the fesitivities. Ella was so happy that they would be there and they were both a much needed help with getting ready that morning and helping during the party. At one point I realized my mom was downstairs in the basement encouraging the kids to play down there. I'm not sure they knew what to think about all the princess toys that Ella got since I was not really much of a princess girl, but they both agreed (actually I think they volunteered - quite quickly!) to be back up dancers for Ella as she did her princess ballet DVD. If only I had a video camera for that!

Here's a picture of the whole family as the party began to wind down on Saturday.

All in all it was a fun, but exhausting day.

Of course Tuesday is Ella's actual birthday so I hope to get a post up in honor of our new four year old. But that will be after I make cupcakes for her preschool class that morning. I bet you can guess how much I'm looking forward to that!

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