Archive for the 'Parties' Category

Nora’s Market

Nora’s 1st birthday was 4 days after Madilynn’s and since it was a party year for this big girl, we invited a couple families and MiMi and PaPa over for a small party. (Small is relative when your closest friends’ families have 3-6 kids each!)

We had a bit of a market theme with tons of farm fresh fruits and veggies, fresh baked items and izzies! I didn’t worry about activities, other than letting the kids play together like they really wanted.

Our Nora girl is such a snuggly little love! At 12 months she has no interest in standing or walking- not even in our laps or while holding our hands. She just wants to sit and observe, snuggle with mom. Actually, she doesn’t even crawl! Her first word (other than Ma and Da) was “bye!”, combined with the sweetest little wave, and she shares it frequently. Her sisters and brother adore her and are always happy to sit and play.

She’s my pickiest little eater. Actually, she wouldn’t be picky at all if I gave up and fed her carbs and avocado all the time, but I’m still fighting for a balanced diet!

We love this sweet girl!




Love these boys! Of the 15 kids we had at the party, there are only these three, kindergarten boys! Think they’re going to have a pretty strong bond as they grow up dealing with their many sisters??


The babies!


The 8 and 9 year oldsdsc_1347-copy

Little girls! (Missing Addie, who is going to be in their Joy school in the Fall!)dsc_1353-copy

The big ones! Love these silly, intelligent girlies!


Ok, this cake series is an absolute crackup. She liked the attention of the singing to her, LOVED all the big kids around her, but once she tasted a bite of that frosting she LOST it!








Weekend Update

We just said goodbye to Minta,  Michael, and their girls after a very fun weekend together! It was so cute seeing Sarah jump into the pack of kids around here and they ADORED her. Also, Cash was practically glued to Michael’s leg! 😍 👈 that was literally his face.

We had a slow Friday. Minta and I needed a few groceries and so we took the four littlest girls with us. Clara and Sarah drove the car attached to the grocery cart together- they were happy as clams together! Minta and I both wore the babies-  which was also super cute!  we were showstoppers and all of the grandmothers at the store stopped to ask us about our wraps :-) or coo over the babies.


In the afternoon Minta and I did a barre 3 class that kicked both of our butts! It was fun to work out with a buddy for a change… And even more fun to hear minta’s labor techniques in place as she tried to breath through the work out pains!! The Michaels were so sweet to watch all of the kids so we could do that!
On Saturday morning we celebrated Clara’s  birthday by visiting the botanical gardens in downtown Dallas. They were hosting a fall harvest festival AND a monarch migration that day. The grounds are incredibly gorgeous! It’s similar in concept to the Bellevue botanical gardens but a lot less naturally landscaped and wooded. However they have the addition of a children’s garden that is HUGE!!  We scheduled three hours for the activity and spent three hours in the children’s exhibit alone (and barely skimmed the surface). The arboretum  uses the waters of White rock Lake to do a science portion – the kids shot water at different targets, making them spin, to learn about energy. We could hardly pull them away! Really, the whole garden was used as a science museum.
All of the kids were able to participate in tagging a monarch butterfly so that it can be tracked and it’s migration down to Mexico. Some held it, others placed the tag, others use their finger heat to seal the tag, and still others (cash) were taught how to determine its gender for tracking purposes ! They all had their faces painted :-)
 (yep, she is LICKING hummas from the container)
Afterwords my mom and Rick took us out for Mexican food… it was a very long day and the kids were exhausted by the time we got home!  However we only gave them an hour and a half break before pulling everybody out of bed to go swimming and have a picnic at our community pool. It was freeeezing and very short lived, but I think they still had fun!
When we were finished, we went home for ice cream cake and presents with Clara! She is the most loving , expressive,  and grateful  little girl! She kept saying “it for me? Oh! Thank you so much!” And. “I luf it!!”
Afterwords, we got the kids ready for bed and took Mia out with us for a night on the town. We hit up an adult arcade :-) and I’m happy to say that I beat Minta in basketball, almost to beat Mike in basketball, and scored more points than him (3 against myself!!!!) in air hockey! I think it’s safe to say that the hancock competitive nature is contagious :-) because i’m inordinately happy about that! It was a blast to have adult time with just Minta and Michael, and crack up over an insane amount of really bad jokes! The best kind!

(No pictures)

On Sunday morning I woke up to cash and Sarah making paper churches, and Lily making a 3-D paper church! Cash was trying his hardest to be patient while teaching Sarah  how to draw squares for the windows :-) I love his face in this picture… You can see his “I don’t know about that” look. She may have had her patience equally tested!

We did our best to feast on General conference while helping seven kids! I think  it took us three hours to get through the first hour and a half of conference… We broke for lunch and never made it back! My kids are looking forward to finishing that session for family home evening tonight.
On Sunday evening my brothers, sister, and stepmother came over for dinner. We celebrated Clara’s birthday one last time! The kids stayed up past their bedtime jumping on the trampoline in the dark and enjoying their last little bit of time with Sarah.
In between all of that busyness we had some special quiet moments as well. Introducing Nora and Mia. Snuggling up for cash to read to Sarah. Tons of jokes… Lots of Michael making fun of me… And plenty of yummy food (Read: I felt like I was cooking the entire day on Sunday)!
Ps. Please ignore any typos. I dictated this as a letter to my missionary in-laws while on a 2 1/4 mile walk this morning. It took me 45 minutes because I kept stopping to correct a typo. One of which was  “It was a blast to have adult time with just me and Michael…” Uh, yeah. It didn’t understand minta’s name!!!! AWKWARD!

Wrapping up Birthday Season: Mike turns 34

In our house, May-August are Birthday Season when we celebrate five of our seven birthdays! Mike turned 34 while his sister Rachael and her husband, Nate, were visiting us this August! We had a fantastic weekend with them: eating BBQ out, thrifting for me and Rach, a date night to Pie High and slumber party, church, games, and lots of laughs and catching up…all culminating in the celebration of my handsome guy! Whenever I ask Mike how he wants to celebrate his birthday he votes for activities with the kids, so I decided to surprise him with a giant slip and slide, DIY pizza on the grill,  and other water games. My brothers and Theresa joined the party, which was especially memorable because Brad is finally home from his Summer tour with the Madison Scouts!

The party was off to a bit of a crazy start (due to excessive shopping when we should have been chopping vegetables and baking a cake!) but thats why I love a family party. A crazy start is just fine! Everyone pitched in to make it such a fun night! I should have par-baked the pizzas before grilling them? Problem solved: Brad’s giant pizza turned into a calzone. Gotta hang that water balloon pinata last minute? Rach is up to the task of sitting on top of the wobbly playground to tie them to the monkey bars! The cookie cake is a hot mess? Eh! We’ll drop it in a bowl and give everyone a spoon! Meanwhile, everyone else was playing with and loving on my babies, and enjoying each other. Family is the best! I hope that everyone else enjoyed themselves as much as I did, because I feel truly, truly blessed by the people in my life!

We’ve been in our home for 13 months now and what a difference a year makes! Just this week we hung all but one of our pictures on the walls. We’ve got systems down for how to run our home. We know the school and have our go to doctors in place. But most importantly, we’re finding our “people”. We’ve joined a weekly playdate group for Clara and a carpool for Maddie’s choir, and I feel so blessed to not just have the convenience of those things, but to have those people regularly in my life. Its a great feeling to know who your people are.

I feel like I should somehow bring this tangent full circle with a celebration of Mike….anyone know a snappy comment about how he’s my “people”? It may sound trite, but he really is. We have our ups and downs, just like any two people, but through it all he’s my guy. At the end of each day he’s the one I want to keep up all night whispering about the funny thing Clara said, or how brave I was filling my own tires with gas, or my grand ideas for our next big project. And I think I’m that person for him too. :) I called Clara my BFF once (and really, I hope all of my kids feel like they are my special one) and I think I may have offended him, but really he’s BFF numero uno. Because he’s the one who taught me how to love so fully that my heart can expand a bit more with each new little person we welcome into our circle.

Happy Birthday, Boyfriend!







The subject of this picture isn’t what you’d think. Take a look past the foreground to how my kids are constantly attacking their uncles! :Ountitled-5








Its nearly impossible to do this gracefully and without making a stank face





She’s growing way too fast!




one of me and my handsome birthday boy




Lily is such a good example of loving life!


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Brad’s second time holding a baby


If I were that balloon, I’d be running for cover about right now! Look at Rachael’s killer arms!



That’s one tough balloon!

Ok, so I saved the best for last. Check out the facial expressions on my little fighter! “Though she be little, she be fierce”!!







She gives me this look frequently, actually. Like when she wants another cup of “bilk” and get rejected because she’s already had 3.

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More Photos of Nate and Rach’s visit from Rachael’s camera:




Easter Egg Decorating with Friends

We had a blast with a gathering of friends this afternoon! Several families came over for a wonderful night of decorating Easter Eggs and dinner. All in all we had 19 kids and I was blown away by what a wonderful group the were! Not a speck of drama could be found and they even disappeared outside while us adults enjoyed our cake and conversation! We’re so blessed to have found such fantastic friends here in Texas!

(Note: Keys to making an egg decorating party on this scale a success were using plastic eggs with markers, crayons, and chalk(found at wal-mart), instead of dying real eggs. Much less mess! Also, having stickers for the youngest artists. It was also wonderful that they had an ice breaker activity before dinner so that by the time the kids were finished eating they were ready to jump in and play with little reservations! Doesn’t hurt to start with wonderful, kind-hearted kids!)














Love those happy boys in the background!











American Girl




As you can tell, between our five families, we are very girl heavy! (photo by Janelle)

IMG_4007Love this girl, who spent half the afternoon in a baseball cap and backpack (photo by Janelle)



Princesses, Unicorns, Dragons and…kids everywhere!

You guys! I get so emotional going through these photos of our amazing Seattle life! It really was such a wonderful phase for us! This party was about a week before listing the house, going on vacation, and returning to it under contract. It was the beginning of really relaxing and enjoying the work of our remodel with our kids…while Mike was in Texas starting his job! Actually, it started as a very stressful time for me, but we wised up, found an incredible babysitter, and I gave myself permission to check out while the kids were in her capable hands. I’m so grateful for my mom and Mike who recognized that need and reminded me that it wasn’t weakness or selfishness to take as much time as I needed to survive while he was gone for the month. I think of my wonderful friend Courtney, and other military families and their sacrifice brings me to tears. I’m so blessed!

Anyways! It was a crazy time, I was probably insane for going ahead with this party! But we kept it out in the back yard with a few simple toys, I hired a teen to help me with one of the activities, and we literally fed 50+ people doughnuts, juice and milk!

It was perfect! Cash wanted a dragon party, Lily wanted unicorns, and Maddie wanted Princesses. We said perfect and ran with it!

Gosh, looking at these pictures makes me sure miss all of these beautiful children!





Brian, Mike, and his brother Denny with their boys




Craft table on the sunny upper deck. I had shields and crowns for them to decorate and they went crazy with it!





Dear friends, Bobbi, Sarah, Elysia, Betsy and Abi


Cash and his best buddy from preschool, Izzy! He adored that girl!





Lily, one of Madilynn’s friends since kindergarten. She loved playdate with her and her twin Charlotte, where they’d spend hours making fans or homemade juice to sell to the elderly that lived near their condo!



Another silly Lily, My Lil’s friend from our Moms Co-Op crafting with cousin Charlie



Gaby and Maya, these sisters were the same age as my girls and loved hours of crafting at sister playdates!




I wish I could remember why he was upset, I’ll have to ask Maddie. I love that she came and comforted him (below)!



Caroline, the golden girl! This girly is the sweetest!

Clara turns 2!


Clara’s greatest love, other than her Daddy, is “foo foos”. I’m assuming that’s her equivalent to a bark? Anyways, with that in Mind we had a great dog themed birthday in our new home- it was really the first time we invited a crowd over since our move! Because we were still so new to the area, we invited a ton of family, plus her sweet friend Addie who moved from Seattle around the same time as us and her first Texas friend, Elle.

I think the best part about this party was the opportunity to plan and throw it with my mom! I gave her the theme I was working from, let her know what I had planned, and she ran with it- finding the most amazing deals at the dollar store and everything! So other than the Puppy Party Printables from Itsy Belle, the dog figurine from TJ Max, and the tiny buckets from Hobby Lobby, everything was from the dollar store or dollar section (or already owned) Thats the way to throw a party!

For food we wanted to keep things simple with lots of kid appropriate finger foods: crackers, scooby snacks, and veggies were supplemented with hot dogs rolled in my friend Beth’s amazing bread dough and tortillas cut with a dog bone shape and baked. Simple!

We had one simple activity, our dog trainer Maddie taught the pups to sit, roll over, and fetch up in the playroom then brought them downstairs for a little dog show. Everyone won Best in Class ribbons for their efforts (thank you Home Coming Mums section! There were tons of options!)!















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Peter Kirk Carnival

For the past two years I’ve volunteered as the photographer for the kids’ school carnival. The committee does such a wonderful job and its always so neat to be there the whole time just looking for joyful faces. I’m not able to share those photos, but I can share a few of my own joyful little faces at the carnival! We’re definitely going to miss this wonderful tradition!