Tag Archives: celebrations

Father’s Day {2013}

After a sleep in for Brad and a pancake breakfast, we packed up some beach things and headed down to the beach to celebrate Father’s Day.  We played in the water, built sand castles, and had a yummy picnic lunch.  Of course Miss G insisted on having her entire body buried in the sand also.  

IMG 9026IMG 9025IMG 9036IMG 9033After a nap for Miss G, we enjoyed a family game of hide-and-seek, some playground time, and dinner out along the river.  It was a good day.

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New Years Eve {2012}

While last year’s NYE was a quiet evening at home as a family of 3, this year we were lucky enough to spend it with some of my very favourite people.  We arrived back in Cochrane early this afternoon to fireworks on the countertop and plans of a bonfire in the works (thanks, Gar!)  My NYE contribution was picking up some groceries and putting together some homemade {wholewheat} thin crust pizzas while Miss G got her nap on.  Mix in some s’mores, noisemakers, and late night science experiments with my nephews {after the girls had gone to bed}, and you’ve got yourself a pretty awesome New Year’s Eve.

IMG 4014Making a bonfire with wet wood in freezing temps isn’t easy.

IMG 4017Four excited little munchkins.

IMG 4027Chay Belly and Miss G having a good laugh together.

IMG 4028Fire success!

IMG 4031Auntie Roz made sure we were a noisy bunch.

IMG 4040Someone went to bed for the last time in 2012 with a noisemaker in hand. ☺ 


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iPhoneography // Boxing Day {2012}

Boxing Day 2012

puppy love // Bella’s twin

dress-up day // Christmas {round 2} at Grandma Sue’s

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Christmas Day {2012}

IMG 3943Our Christmas was lovely this year.  We awoke to our usual morning call –  “Mama, Mama!  All done! All done!  Grae Grae had a nice sleeeeep”, had a little family snuggle in bed, and made our way into the living room so that Miss G could open the little gifts in her stocking.  It was filled to the brim with bath fizzies, miniature kitchen utensils, wooden stamps, a couple of little clothing items, an owl puppet, and some of her very favourite nuts and treats.  Grae opened the tiny packages carefully, admiring each before moving on…  She was thrilled with all of her new goodies.

IMG 3946With her stocking opened, we took a little present break and made a big Christmas breakfast together.  

IMG 3949Brad and Gracen’s jobs?  Playing with our freshly made gingerbread play dough and entertaining the crowd.

IMG 3950With breakfast eaten and cleaned up, we gathered back around the tree for our gift exchange.  Gracen opened  her gifts (plus helped everyone else open their’s) and spent a few minutes investigating each, before thanking the gifter and moving onto a new package.

IMG 3964She was hugely spoiled with new clothes {these little black boots included}, games, puzzles, a doll stroller, and wooden kitchen accessories, as well as this giant dress-up kit filled with all kinds of costumes and accessories.

IMG 3968After a lazy rest of the morning and early afternoon {plus a good nap for Miss G}, we all got dressed and ready for the big Ogasawara family Christmas dinner. 

IMG 3971My mom  and Rorie were able to come out and join us, which Gracen loved.  She toured around the house showing Grandma Sue the gifts she’d opened earlier in the day and then settled in to play with her gingerbread play dough again.

IMG 8421As usual, christmas dinner was absolutely delicious.  Gracen’s favourites included the turkey and rosemary smashed potatoes.

IMG 3981Afterwards, us adults visited with full bellies and glasses of wine while Grae snuck in a few last minutes with two of her very favourite new things – a vintage doll from Grandma Sue and a stroller to push her around in from Grandma Charlotte.

It was a good day.  And only the start to our special days with family this holiday season…

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

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Handprint Spiders & Golf Ball Painted Webs

Today Gracen and I did one of our favourite things… We had a little mama and babe crafternoon.  A Halloween crafternoon to be exact!

Handprint Spider  Golf Ball Painted WebThis is by no means a new idea, and it’s nothing fancy, but it is something I’ve always enjoyed doing with my kindergarten students.  It’s fun, messy, and personalized with wee little handprints.  Perfect for Halloween cards for grandparents, teachers, or a special friend. Here’s a quick run down of how Gracen created this little masterpiece.

IMG 0856First, start off by drawing a large asterisk on a piece of black construction paper or card stock (we use a hand over hand technique for jobs like this).

IMG 0857Next, connect the tips of the asterisk with concave lines in order to create a web shape.

IMG 0858Then, cut out the web. (This is tricky for little hands.  Gracen tried, but our poster board is was so thick that it was next to impossible for her… This may be more of an adult helper sort of job.)

IMG 0861Place a small roll of tape in the centre of your web.

IMG 0863Tape the web down in the centre of a box lid, baking pan, or plastic  paper tray.

IMG 0865Next, put some white paint in a small bowl or container and plop a {very scuffed} golf ball, bouncy ball, or large marble inside. (While I find golf balls work best because they’re big and heavy, marbles and bouncy balls make a more solid, web-like lines.)

IMG 0866Shake and swirl the container so that the golf ball is well coated with paint.

IMG 0868Next, gently tip your golf ball out of the container and onto the web.

IMG 0871Swirl and roll the paint-coated ball over the black paper web by tipping the tray back and forth.

IMG 0875When it’s sufficiently spider web-y, remove the paper from the tray and set it aside to dry.

IMG 0876Now for the spider…  Gather up some brightly coloured paper, black paint, and a foam brush.

IMG 0877Using a foam brush, paint a good, thick layer of black paint on your little one’s palm and fingers (not the thumb).

IMG 0880Help your little one press their hand on the paper a couple of times to create two spider bodies and half of the needed legs.  Allow the prints to dry for a couple of minutes while you wash hands.

IMG 0881Next, rotate the page so that the fingers are pointed downwards.

IMG 0882This time around, paint just the four fingers of your little one’s hand. (I like to use the opposite hand for this part so that the fingers are angled the same way, but that’s just the crazy in me. ☺)

IMG 0884Stamp them on the other side of the palm print in order to complete the spider’s body.

IMG 0886IMG 0890When the paint is dry, attach some googly eyes to the spider’s body using white craft glue.
IMG 0895Then, cut the spiders out, leaving a small border of coloured paper around the edges.
IMG 0901Attach the spider to the web with glue or tape, or if you want the spider to have a little wiggle to it, glue a small pompom in between the web and spider.  And voila… All done!
And if handprints are still too tricky for your little one, here’s what we did last year using a footprint instead:
IMG 0898
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Grae’s Thankful For List 2012

The other day, after reading a couple of books about Thanksgiving, I asked Gracen what she was thankful for. I explained that when we are thankful for something, we really love it and are happy to have it.  With that, she immediately started her list…

“Stickers, puppets, and Mama! Chicken… Play dough… Papa! Yummy food.  Books, balls, and parks. And schools. And swim classes!”

Love her.

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IMG 0306ThanksgivingIMG 0319IMG 0324IMG 0328So much to be thankful for this year…

For the most incredible little girl (and her pretty decent daddy), for our wonderful families and friends, for bellies filled to the brim, for a lovely weekend away, and for the most gorgeous autumn weather… I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Gracen’s {2nd} Backyard Birthday Bash

Over this past long weekend, we celebrated Gracen’s 2nd birthday with a backyard party in the sunshine. The afternoon went amazingly well… The sun was shining as hoped. There was just the slightest breeze.  The decorations were handcrafted and colourful. The snacks were made of local ingredients and individually portioned for easy toddler chasing. The wee ones played until they were soaking wet and filthy.  The sweets were plentiful. And Miss G had the time of her life… An afternoon filled with “yittle fwends”, tons of play,  2.5 “cupcakes”, Davison Orchard’s fresh-pressed apple juice, an endless supply of crackers and treats, and a generous sprinkling of hugs – for her, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Since the party, she’s wanted to talk about it constantly.  “Mama talk (about) Grae Grae’s birf-day party?” is a request I now hear more times a day than I have fingers.  We discuss all of the details of the day, and inevitably end the conversation with a “More play yittle fwends, Mama?”  Yes, Babygirl… We’ll have your little friends over to play again sometime very soon.

Here is Miss G’s special afternoon in photos… (Be prepared. This may be the most photo heavy post of. all. time.  But I’m sure you already expected that, right?)

The Invitations:

IMG 7334IMG 7336These simple little invites {along with almost all of the decorations} were made while we were in the Okanagan on vacation.  Using this free printable as a starting point, I sketched out what I wanted the invitations to look like and Bradley designed them using Photoshop.  Once they were designed, we printed them on Grandpa Dave’s colour laser printer, cut them out by hand, created homemade pouches for them, and punched out some pretty confetti to tuck into the pouches.

The Decor:

IMG 9119This last minute little chalkboard greeted guests on our front porch and asked that they make their way around the side of the house.

IMG 9070I crafted a few of these ribbon chandeliers out of embroidery hoops and grosgrain, and hung them up around the yard to dance in the breeze.

IMG 9079Timeline TreeLast year, I did a more traditional timeline of Gracen through the months, and although I loved the idea, this year I wanted something a little bit different…  I ended up deciding on a ‘timeline tree’.  We chose 2 photos for each month {from 13 to 24}, added the text using Photoshop, printed them, and hung them back to back using jute and curtain clips from IKEA that we already had on hand. And voila. Our plum tree instantly became a tree filled with memories of the past year.

IMG 9093
IMG 9104Across the way, in our fig tree, I hung the felt poms we had made for last year’s party, giving it just a touch of colour.  The beauty in not really having a colour scheme, is that everything goes. ☺

IMG 9096On the main food table, we displayed the letters T-W-O I crafted with cardboard letters, tissue paper dots and modge podge.

IMG 9098I also strung up one of the many fabric buntings I sewed for the occasion between two vintage apple crates that Grandma Charlotte’s family has had since she was a little girl. In the middle, I framed a copy of the birthday interview I did with Miss G on her real birthday so that guests could take a read.

IMG 9318For an added touch, we picked a couple of the beautiful dahlias growing in our front garden and popped them into vintage mason jars that used to belong to Gracen’s Great Grandma Amy.

IMG 9106Our photo booth backdrop consisted of a plain sheet {not very glamourously duct} taped up to the wall of our house, and a handmade fabric bunting strung across it.

The Snacks:

IMG 9125Here’s a peek at the food table…  Since the party was from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., we stuck with snacks only and tried to keep them as portable as possible so that parents could munch and chase after their wee ones at the same time.  Also, although we had a separate table to baby/toddler friendly treats, I wanted to make sure that everything we served was Gracen friendly (save the desserts)…  Nothing more insulting than not being able to eat the food served at your own party!

IMG 9126On top, a layer of hummus topped with fresh veggies, many from Grandma Charlotte’s garden.  On the bottom, individual layered bean dip cups {with homemade pita chips on the side}.

IMG 9128Fresh berry cups.

IMG 9129Okanagan cherry cups.

IMG 9100Plums picked straight off our tree the night before.

Besides these snacks, we had individual fruit salsa cups with homemade maple cinnamon crisps, as well as brown paper bags of stove-top popcorn.

IMG 9127For the adults, we served chilled lemonade and citrus iced tea in mason jar cups.

IMG 9130We also had an ice water station, which the kids quickly discovered and had a blast playing with.

IMG 9321At the toddler table, we served toddler trays (which included a variety of healthy bite-sized snacks), as well as fresh-pressed apples only apple juice from our favourite place in Vernon – Davison Orchard.

IMG 9323And for the wee babes – purée pouches in a variety of flavours.

The Sweets:

Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the desserts on the day of the party…  Not sure how I managed that one, but I’ll blame it on being busy I guess.  Fortunately, I took a is a couple of crumby photos the night before while I was baking into the wee hours of the morning.   

IMG 9068For the adults, I decided to try out these mini mason jar cheesecakes and I’m so glad I did. They were easy to make, easy to hand out, and out of the 20 I made, we were only left with 2 at the end {at a party with a total of 12 adult guests}.

IMG 9069For the munchkins, I used Pioneer Woman’s vanilla cupcake recipe (I made them using 1/2 wholewheat flour), baked them in flat-bottomed ice cream cones (a trick I learned early in my Kindergarten teaching days – no wrappers to mess with and much easier for little ones to hold), and topped them with this {ridiculously rich} buttercream frosting, candy sprinkles, and fresh raspberries.  I also baked some regularly (sans the cone for adults that preferred cupcakes to cheese cake).

For Miss G, I whipped up this sugar-free banana muffin recipe (and added an extra banana, skipped the salt, and replaced the melted butter with grapeseed oil), baked some in a flat bottomed cone so it would look like the ones many of her friends were eating, and topped it with fresh whipped cream (made without added sugar – just a touch of vanilla) and a fresh raspberry on top.  I baked up the rest of the batch as regular muffins, and topped several of them with whipped cream and fresh raspberries for the other babes who don’t do sugar yet.

The Play Stations:

IMG 9116Since first birthdays are often more about the adults than the wee ones, I wanted to make sure that this year’s party was all about play.  Messy, fun, noisy, old-fashioned play, just the way Miss G likes it.  I set the stations up all around the yard, making sure there was plenty of space and a little something for all different tastes.

IMG 9073A big bucket of sidewalk chalk sat at the beginning of the path.

IMG 9074A construction bin filled with pea gravel , tower building supplies, scoops, tractors, and a hardhat for the little builders.

IMG 9075A cloud dough sensory bin for the wee ones who don’t mind getting messy.

IMG 9076A gardening bin for the aspiring green thumbs.

IMG 9077An ocean-themed bin for the little water lovers.

IMG 9078And a coloured spaghetti sensory bin for the mini sous chefs.

IMG 9088On the top of the grass knoll, there was a music making station that incorporated Gracen’s purchased music instruments, as well as several instruments that we’ve made together.

IMG 9095Up on the cement pad, we set up a sidewalk chalk painting station using homemade paints.

IMG 9089And on the other side of the yard, we used a hot water heater drip pan and this homemade bubble solution to create a ‘baby in a bubble’ station.

IMG 9112We also had Grae’s pool blown up and filled with water and toys, as well as the sandbox filled with all sorts of moulds, buckets, scoops, and plastic dinosaur bones.

The Birthday Girl:

IMG 9122After having a good hour and a half of quiet time in her room, we decided that the birthday girl was probably too excited to nap.  We got her up, lathered her with sunscreen, and she picked out a party dress and decided how she wanted her hair done.  Then it was time to head out into the backyard and get started on playing while we waited for her friends to arrive.

The Action:

IMG 9143Gracen was beyond thrilled when her guests started to arrive.  Hugs and playmates = one very happy little girl in our house.

IMG 9131Girls  Bubbles

IMG 9193IMG 9144Although the whole ‘baby in a bubble’ thing was really hard to do in the beginning, the solution did make great big bubbles using regular wands, so I was glad I had picked them up the night before.

IMG 9142IMG 9245IMG 9132IMG 9146All of the sensory bins, with the exception of the gardening one (which I don’t think even got touched), were a pretty big hit.

IMG 9141The kiddos enjoyed digging for dinos in the sandbox.

IMG 9139And the birthday girl made her rounds all afternoon.

IMG 9149This little corner was put together with our littlest guest and Grae’s beloved friend, “Baby Tate”, in mind… Away from the action, in the shade, and filled with all of Grae’s favourite toys from when she was a baby.

IMG 9154Before long, it was time to bust out the bikini and make a splash in the pool.

IMG 9157IMG 9138Judging by our now beautifully decorated cement pad, the sidewalk  chalk paint was one of the favourites.

IMG 9158IMG 9180IMG 9195IMG 9242The snacks, hugs, and company weren’t bad either…

Time for Cake:

IMG 9168IMG 9173IMG 9176IMG 9181IMG 9184IMG 9187IMG 9210As you can see by Grae’s face, she wasn’t so sure about her ‘2’ sparkler…  Luckily she had her little friend Jaiden nearby.  I think her excitement and lack of worry made everything alright.  What did go over very well with Miss G, however, were the “cupcakes”.  Yes, cupcakeS.  She ate every single last bite of the one I’d baked in the cone for her, then demolished a second one, and made her way through half of another.  Two and a half muffins?!  Hey, when it’s your party, you’re allowed.

Better with Time:

Grae in a  BubbleIMG 9238Jaiden in a BubbleAs the party went on and the bubble solution got handled more and more, the better the bubbles got (just like Jackie from Happy Hooligans said it would).  Our resident bubble expert, Jordan, was not only able to put both Gracen and Jaiden in bubbles, but he was also able to make bubbles that were seriously HUGE.

The Photo Booth:

Before leaving, we asked each of our guests to have their photos taken in our makeshift photo booth using the felt props I’d created for last year’s party.  Here they are…

IMG 9196Ava and Jordan (somehow their parents made it without being in the photo… sneakers!)

IMG 9202Auntie Brandie, Jackson, and Kevin.

IMG 9205Auntie Silke and Ainsley.

IMG 9208Grandma Charlotte and Uncle Brett.

IMG 9216Tracy and Keagan.

IMG 9225Auntie Steffie and Baby Tate.

IMG 9231Jaiden and Cheri.

The Goodie Buckets:

IMG 9025This was probably the part of the party Gracen looked forward to the most… Handing out her goodie buckets to her friends.  We’d collected little items for them for a long while and Grae was so excited about them that I’d made sure to really prep her about the fact that we’d be giving them away.  Thankfully, it worked like a charm and she was very happy {and proud} to hand them out at the end of the party.  

To go with our backyard theme, the buckets were filled with a watering can and sidewalk chalk (all bought at Michael’s), as well as a big beach ball (purchased at Superstore), a mason jar of Bouncing Bubbles, and a bubble wand (purchased at our local teacher’s store).  The best part? (And I totally blame me being excited about this on the Ogasawaras, because before them I never really got that excited about a good deal…) At regular price, each of the 8 buckets would have cost well over 16 dollars, but because we started collecting early and found some great deals, each only cost around $4! (Crazy, right?)

And that was our afternoon.  Miss G loved it and we did too. It was the perfect way to celebrate our little girl turning two.


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An Okanagan Wedding

Today, Gracen and I got dolled up and headed over to the beautiful Mackie House for the wedding of my good friend Karli.  The weather was the perfect blend of warm and breezy, the venue was gorgeously set overlooking the lake, the ceremony space was filled with beautiful little details, and the bride absolutely stunning.  It really couldn’t have been a better afternoon.

Knowing that she’d appreciate the time to walk around and explore before having to settle in on a seat, Grae and I arrived plenty early.  We picked a couple of aisle seats in the shade of a giant old tree, placed our belongings on them, and explored the grounds for a while.  When it was time to begin, Grae climbed up onto her seat, enjoyed some of the special snacks I’d tucked into my purse for the occasion, and quietly smiled and waved to the guests sitting around us.  Before we knew it, the bride and groom were announced husband and wife, the crowd let out a huge applause (Grae’s favourite part), and it was time to mingle on the grass.  Gracen was reunited with her good buddy Sloan, whom we haven’t seen in a while, and the two were inseparable.  They celebrated with countless hugs, kisses, and healthy dose of hand holding.  It was cuteness OVERLOAD.

Here’s our afternoon in photos… 

IMG 8898‘Found my seat.’

IMG 8905Off to explore.

IMG 8914Patiently waiting.

IMG 8922Loving the paper fans.

IMG 8928‘Mama, Grae Grae climb dis tree?’

IMG 8931Greeting the bride.

IMG 8935‘Oh Sloan, how I’ve missed  you!’

IMG 8939Kisses.

IMG 8949Pretty girls.

IMG 8945High school besties 17 years later…

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