Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jumping For Joy .... SNOW

It has been my kind of winter .... very mild temps and very little snow.  My kids on the other hand were wanting some snow.  There have been a few very small snowfalls that melt quickly because of the high temps.  My kids have been waiting for the big snow fall and it finally came on February 22.  There was a lot of excitement in the air at the McDonald house as the snow kept falling. 

The kids didn't waste any time when they got home from school and were out in the snow.  

Max wasn't walking when he came home from China last year and was sick a lot of the winter so never did get out in the snow.  This was his time to get out in the snow. 

As you can see he didn't waste any time with joining in on the fun!

And his expressions say it all ... he was loving it! 

Alexa made a few snow angels. 

Love Max's face her as he stomped through the snow! 

They played puppies in the snow.

Emma taught Max how much fun it was to eat the snow! 

Brothers ... taking a little break in the snow!

The kids started working on a giant snowman! 

And when it was time to come in we had a very sad little boy and a big sister who gave her mom the "what do I do now" look! 

The snow brought a lot of excitement and joy to the McDonald house.  It looks like this too could be a short lived snow ... the temps are on the rise again in the forecast! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Out Of The Auto Zone

I can't remember how I came across Lisa's blog The Long Road To China but once I did I often went back.  I loved her photography.  I followed her to China to bring her daughter home and was in awe of the amazing pictures she captured in China. I remember studying her photos in hopes that I could gain some insight on photography, especially insight on capturing our journey to China for Max.  There is so much I know I can learn about my camera and everything else that surrounds the topic of photography.   It is one of my favorite hobbies right now but there never seems to be enough time in the day to read, practice and figure it all out. 

the long road

I was super excited when I got an email from Lisa one morning that I had won a spot in one of her photography classes.  The class is titled "Out of the Auto Zone!" I couldn't wait to get started and learn from such an amazing photographer. I love that she gives a portion of the class fee to Half The Sky.  Half The Sky is doing amazing work in the orphanages in China.  When we got Max's referral they were the first place I contacted to see if they their programs were in Max's orphanage.  I was very sad to hear they were not but since we have come home they now are implementing their programs at Jinan SWI.  

This is one of my favorite pictures from one of my assignments for my class.  I can't wait to gain more insight from a very talented photographer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Those of you who know me know I love to throw a party! I love holidays, birthdays or any other reason to let my creative juices flow or to scour pinterest for some fun ideas.  Valentine's Day is one of those holidays I love.  I love planning a fun day for our family and having each of their little love tanks filled up on this special day.  I had a crazy few days leading up to Valentine's Day and felt very unprepared for for the ideas that were swirling around in my head! I woke up Tuesday morning because I had no idea how I was going to get every thing done and ready based on what my day looked like ... it was looking a little crazy.  I planned to make the kids their heart pancakes with strawberries and whip cream for breakfast.  I got out of the shower and Shane was already at the table with a bowl of cereal and said he just really wanted cereal today.  Instead of making a big deal about it I thought to myself ... just let it go! So instead of the fun Valentine's Day pancakes that were planned we all enjoyed a bowl of cereal together. We had a nice, calm morning of cereal verses the craziness of a big Valentine's Day breakfast.  

I had a day of running, appointments and errands.  I finished finding fun little gifts for the kids for Valentine's Day and finished up grocery shopping for our Valentine's Dinner. I had about 30 minutes to pull a fun Valentine's Day after school snack together.  Instead of the homemade cookies or cupcakes I had envisioned I found some yummy store made cookies. The kids loved it when they got home and they didn't even care that I didn't make the cookies. 

To add to the craziness of the day I had to teach a class that I teach once a month and it just happened to fall on Valentine's Day.  It was from 4-5:30.  In my mind I thought things would be a little hectic but I could get our dinner pulled together quickly after I was done teaching.  As I was walking out the door to teach my class Eric said to me that he was going to bring the kids somewhere and was going to cook dinner for us while I was at my class so to hurry home.  My first reaction was "oh man but I have a fun family dinner planned!" Then quickly I had some sense knocked into me as I once again thought to myself ... let it go! Seriously who wouldn't love their husband to tell them he had a place for the kids and was cooking dinner ... what was I thinking.  I quickly let all the plans in my head go right out the door and embraced what was to come.  

I came home to beautiful flowers .....

and a wonderful smelling house ...

and a yummy looking dinner.

Eric made some amazing seafood pasta and stuffed mushrooms.  We enjoyed our time just the two of us in our home at our table.  What a nice treat on Valentine's Day!

The kids came home happy and before I could blink Shane had his pj's on.  So we finished our evening with letting go of the planned out family dinner complete with a decorated Valentine's Day table.  We will just save it all for next year :)!  The kids were excited when they saw a special bag of Valentine's Day treats for each of them. 

Life doesn't always go as planned and tonight is one of those nights that I am glad it didn't.  I would have missed out on just being with my husband and kids today if I would have been caught up in the business of the day.  I love making holidays fun and planning fun food and activities but I am learning that when it no longer becomes fun and is stressful that I have lost the love and the motivation behind it.  It was a good reminder today about keeping my eyes on what is important and not getting caught up in the details.  I love how God continues to mold and refine me as a wife and mom as our family grows.  I have a feeling there will be a lot more letting go of expectations that I put on myself as our family continues to grow. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fancy Nancy Reading Extravaganza

The kids always have a month long Reading Extravaganza at school.  They have certain goals each week to try to meet and then if they meet them as a class they have a fun party to celebrate.  One week it was pajama day, one week they had game day, one week they had gum and candy day and the final week they had an ice cream party. It is something they always look forward to. This year they had a special night for the girls and a special night for the boys. The girls had a Fancy Nancy Night they were invited to.  They talked for weeks about what they were going to wear in anticipation of this fun night! 

When they arrived they decided they wanted to do make up first.

There was a lot of excitement in the air among the girls.

Next they decided to get their hair curled.

They had fun enjoying some fancy treats. 

Then we were off to the photo booth! 

Look at those two! 

We decided it was time for some chocolate! 

The girls loved the chocolate fountain.

They finished the night with some paraffin wax on their hands.

We had a fun night .... just us girls!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Emma's Winter Wonderland

Emma's is my girly, girl.  Up until a week before her party she had four ideas of the kinds of party she wanted swimming around in her head.  She really wanted to do some type of pink girly party and a North Pole party so when I threw out the "Winter Wonderland Party" idea she was all over it. She was totally bummed when she had her major reaction to antibiotics on her birthday and we had to postpone her party for a week. 

It was so much fun as we looked through pictures and ideas on the Internet.  She definitely had her idea of what she wanted to do and how she wanted everything to looks. 

We had a date night and made a trip to Target, Hobby Lobby and Michael's one evening and she knew exactly what she wanted. 

She found pink plates, napkins and straws.  She found cute little tierras and little white shimmery balls that looked like snow balls. We picked up some pink iridescent shred to add a little sparkle and pink to the table. 

Emma saw a picture of these cute little snowman and thought they would be perfect for lunch.

The lunch menu was snowballs, snowflake sandwiches and buckets of fruit. 

My birthday girl ... I can't believe she is 8 already!

The cupcakes were Emma's favorite ... Funfetti with pink frosting, some shimmer and a snowflake on top!

The table was ready for her friends to arrive!

Emma was so excited for her friends to arrive.  She is my social butterfly. I love this picture of them chatting and having fun together.

All the girls at the table!

We started the party off with lunch!

I love Emma's expression here ... even with a little food showing! Pure joy to have her friends around the table with her.

After lunch the girls made bottle cap necklaces.  We had a variety of colored winter themed snowflake graphics for them to pick from.

Next, they decorated their own hot travel mugs.  We have done numerous crafts over the years and often use paint pens.  This year I got smart and we used fun colored permanent markers. There wasn't the mess of paint flying when the girls shook them, paint running or smearing and the drying time was fast!

It was time to sing "Happy Birthday" to the birthday girl! 

Make a wish!

I love Emma's expression here! 

Emma opened a few presents and then it was time for dessert! 

Emma's other birthday wish ... a hot cocoa bar! 

The girls had fun filling their mugs with sugar :)! 

Sipping her hot cocoa!

There girls made some hot cocoa cones to take home at the end of the party! 

Emma has such a sweet group of friends.  It was fun to hear them giggle, laugh and interact with each other! Emma loved being part of the planning and putting everything together.  She said, "Mom, this was my best party ever!" I would have to agree this is one of my favorite parties too.  I think part of it was Emma's participation in helping plan and then seeing it all come together.  

Happy 8th Birthday Emma! 
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