Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This is the view I've had from the computer desk for the last few days:

Isabella snuggled on the big comfy chair in our playroom.

Among the gifts Isabella's grandparents sent her for her birthday was a LeapFrop Leapster Learning Game System. She loves it and is totally hooked! Personally, I love hearing the little giggles accompanied by "Yes!" or "Oops!".

She even used some of her birthday money and a $3.00 off Toys R Us coupon to buy an additional game yesterday. Of course she picked the brand spankin' new Tinkerbell Fairies game. I then took her to Target to buy her a carrying case so that she could keep everything together. Now all we need is to find some compatible headphones and we are golden!

Thank you so much guys! I can already tell this will definitely provide her with many hours of fun, entertainment and learning. Who can complain about that?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sidewalk Art

A while back my friend Jennifer told me about how her girls loved playing with sidewalk paint and suggested Isabella might like it as well. Luckily, Crayola 3-D chalk and sidewalk paint was high on Isabella's wish list so we made sure she got it for her birthday, along with some additional paint bottles.

OK, so little did I know (a) how much they would both enjoy playing with it, (b) how long it would entertain both of them, and (c) how incredibly quick sidewalk art would turn into body art.

Yeah, just look at her face in this picture. She knows,...

And after it was all said and painted, then she pulled out these here puppies:

and had an awesome time seeing super groovy things that were like totally rad and far out!

I mean seriously, can you dig it?

Monday, July 27, 2009


a confused mess; hodgepodge; jumble.

Okay, so I've actually started this post like three times, but I can't seem to get it to come together in a somewhat cohesive manner, at all. So I give up. But I must warn you that this might just be the weirdest, most unorganized post I've ever written. A mishmash of information, if I may. Anyway, here we go.

Last week consisted of:
  • one sick kid (Sam woke up at 4:45am with a pretty bad Summer cold the morning after the birthday party ~ Joy!)
  • replacing our over-the-range microwave,... twice!
Yeah, so here's the story: For Isabella's carnival I searched high and lo for big "wholesale" bags of popcorn, but was unsuccessful in finding any. So I bought a 24 pack of microwaveable popcorn and got popping. First of all, our over-the-range microwave was easy 10+ years old (and in all honesty we think the + was a pretty high number). Secondly, it was SO old that it took it 4:30 minutes to properly pop a bag of popcorn. Lastly, did I mention I bought a 24 pack of microwaveable popcorn? OK people, so let's do the math together:

24 bags x 4:30min/each x 1 old microwave = instant death

Yes, our microwave died. On the day of the party. So we went to Lowe's that afternoon and purchased a new, much needed microwave. Scott quickly got to work on installing it only to find out that it had a defective vent. So, down it went, back into the box and back to Lowe's to be exchanged. Scott then installed the new microwave (AGAIN!) and after testing the vent, immediately popped a bag of popcorn (gutsy, isn't it?), in less than 1:30 minutes (sweet!).
  • witnessing my brother and sister-in-law renewing their marital vows

  • Isabella's actual birthday
Yep, that's a chocolate donut (her choice) with 4 candles.
I was too tired to give the cake pops another try last week,
but I promise I will make them one of the days and I will post pictures.
  • a trip to the doctor for a 4 year old check-up
(no shots = a happy girl,...and a happy mommy)
  • a trip to the Botanic Gardens with the family to feed the fish

and the ducks and the geese

and a swan.

  • and a zoo visit with some friends.
Phew! I'm tired just thinking about it.

With the stress of Isabella's birthday party last weekend and an equally busy last week, we decided this weekend was for nothing but vegging out. Well, truth be told that was Scott's decision. You know, after he convinced me that having a yard sale on Saturday was definitely NOT a good idea. We needed the rest and the downtime and I'm so glad the weekend was as laid back as it was.

Luckily, this week promises to be pretty quiet. Especially since the forecast for the next ten days looks a little something like this:

Scattered T-Storms

And I'm just fine with that,... for now anyway.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!

It's hard to believe that my baby girl (and yes, she will ALWAYS be my baby girl) is turning four years old today.

She has brought so much joy and laughter into our home and we are absolutely head over heels in love with everything about her.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Step right up, folks!

As many of you are aware, this last weekend we celebrated Isabella's Carnival Birthday Party. I just LOVE to plan a party, but I've been working on this party and stressing over it for what seems like forever. All I kept thinking and praying and hoping was that if the party turned out half as good as I was envisioning it in my head, I would be happy. And let me tell you I am thrilled!

We had unseasonably nice weather (clear and sunny with a high in the low 80s), we had a great turnout, the kids and the parents had a blast, and Isabella was beaming all day long. What else could I possibly ask for?

OK, so let me walk you through Isabella's Birthday Carnival, but I must warn you this is a very long and photo-heavy post. Oh, and you can click on any of the pictures/mosaics to see them bigger.

This sign greeted everyone at the gate so that they would know which way to come in.

In front of it was a table that held 20+ colorful personalized bags for the kids. Apparently I neglected to take a picture of them, but as you look at the birthday pictures you'll see the kids carrying their bags. The bags served a few purposes; they held the tickets the kids won at the different games, the kids could tie their balloons to the bag handles, and eventually they held the prizes the kids got when they "redeemed" their tickets, basically serving as kids' goodie bags.

We kept to the carnival theme by offering cotton candy, popcorn and a variety of drinks (soda, water and juice).

Now on to the entertainment: photo boards, face painting, a variety of homemade carnival games, our beloved swing set and any other random toys left out in the yard. I recruited some family members and hired Miss Jessica, babysitter extraordinaire, and three of her friends to help manage the games. We joked that they were the "carnies".

From left to right, top to bottom: photo boards (yep, I recycled the train we made for Sam's birthday), face painting by the lovely and super talented Miss Connie (who also came for Sam's birthday and is always a HUGE hit), sand art, ping pong ball toss, playing on the swing set, the duck pond, spray away, bean bag toss and ring toss.

The kids loved playing the games, but the longest line was always for face painting with Miss Connie from "Party with Pickles".

As you can see she was definitely a busy lady, much more so than at Sam's party, since many of the adults decided they too would partake in the face painting. Isabella requested that I have my face painted as Hello Kitty just like her. Hey what can I say? She's the boss birthday girl!

In addition, I decided to add another carnival must to the party. Meet Bob the Clown (aka my nephew Christian):

He worked that party like an old pro and other than giving two little girls a nervous breakdown and enough material for years of counseling, the kids LOVED him. He walked the "carnival grounds", talked to the kids and gave out balloons. He did a fantastic job and I couldn't imagine the party without him.

One of the things I loved the most was that we all got to hang out and play with some of our favorite people:

Isabella was beyond thrilled that Jessica came to her party.

Sam and his buddy Jack were cruising.
(Please don't tell them they were going nowhere fast since the battery was dead, OK?)

Scott and Brandon.
Have I told you how much we love the Jackson 5?

Me & the girls & the kids
How everyone else's kids are in the picture except for mine and Danyelle's I'll never know.
Did you notice there's never a shortage of super heroes at these parties?

My boys having a rockin' good time!

"How Sam got his groove back"
soon to a theater near you

So, after an hour and a half of carnival fun it was time to redeem tickets. We had set up a table with 17 different items from which the kids could pick up to eight.

Gotta love Century Novelty!

Yeah, I think I might have made a mistake asking Scott to manage that specific table since it quickly became quite the chaotic mayhem.

I'm actually still laughing at his face once the announcement was made and the table was instantly attacked. It was like a stampede! Too funny!

So inside we all went to sing Happy Birthday and eat cake:

Since the conception of the carnival party idea, the birthday girl has been adamant that she wanted a Tinkerbell (her newest obsession) cake. So Tinkerbell it was, and it was oh so delicious!

And finally, it was the end of the carnival and time to give away the party favors: Isabella's favorite candy, with a bit of a twist:

Some of them had "Isabella turns 4!" printed on them, others had "Party Time!" and others had a picture of her beautiful face. I picked Tinkerbell-ish colors since bright colors don't show the writing too well. The personalized M&Ms were quite the unexpected surprise for everyone. And I just love it when that happens!

One of my favorite moments happened when one of the little boys was curiously looking inside his bag of M&Ms and then told his mom: "Mom, I am NOT going to eat the ones with Isabella on them". Too cute! I had to convince him that he should, since they tasted just as good as the rest of them.

So there you have it. That's Isabella's carnival party in a nutshell,... well, maybe not a nutshell, but you get it. At the end of the day we were left with one very very happy little girl:

And that is definitely worth all the planning and working and stressing over, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some Serious Blog Love

As many of you know I love blogs. Love them! And I'm actually obsessed with a few that I stalk visit on a daily basis. So being the generous person that I strive to be I thought I'd share a few of my favorite blogs with you guys. I must warn you, the following is some seriously addictive eye candy.

OK, here we go:

Bakerella: Hello! Just a take a look at these here beauties:

Can you believe these are cake pops? Yep! I'm thinking about making these Hello Kitty cake pops for Isabella's birthday. Not for her birthday party, but for the day of her actual birthday. I tried my hand at making some of her adorable Easter cake pops (which you can read about here, here and here) and let's just say they didn't quite turn out as I would have liked, but I'm no quitter and I will try again! Well, that and the fact that I have tons of material left over from that little adventure that I need to use up.

Trust me when I tell you this: you will NOT want to enter her blog while hungry. Some of the desserts she features are just heavenly!

Everyday Celebrating
: This woman definitely knows how to celebrate everything in life. I love that she showcases so many different party ideas; beautiful birthday parties, showers, awesome holiday decorating, and everyday celebrations like end of school party. I also love her easy crafts ideas, recipes and DIY Tutorials.

This is one of the pictures she posted on her blog of her son's Airplane Birthday Party. You can see all the amazing details of that party here.

I have gotten so many great ideas from her blog. She's a genius I tell ya!

Whatever: This blog is written by the very talented Meg Duerksen who in my eyes is definitely a jack of all trades. She is a mother of 5 (yes insane, I know!), a fabulous decorator, an amazing photographer and a scrapbooker to boot. And the kicker is she makes it all look SO easy. And her house,...

Oh, don't even get me started on her house. It is amazing. I totally hold her responsible for all the sinning I do anytime I look through pictures of her house. You need to see it for yourselves,... just click here and prepare for some serious ooing and aahing.

But you know what, although I have never met her what I love most about her blog is how real and down to earth she comes across.

Thrifty Decor Chick: This woman is totally in love with Goodwill and can transform anything she gets her hands on into a beautiful piece worth displaying front and center in your home. Give her some spray paint, some molding or some beadboard and prepare to be amazed.

You can click here to read about her Goodwill coffee table transformation. I tell ya, she is definitely the MacGyver of home decor on a budget and I love it!

OK, that's it for now. I have to get back to my Carnival Birthday duties. I sure hope you enjoy visiting some of these blogs as much as I do.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Checking it off the list

One of the adventures we have on our Summer To-Do list was to visit the Arlington airplane park, which is really known as the Playground of Dreams. So as of last Friday we can officially check it off our list. It is a wonderful playground with tons to do. However, we've made a mental note to revisit it in the Fall. Other than a few gazebos scattered around there really is no shade. And I'm sure the fact that we chose to go on one of the hottest days this month didn't help either. Funny thing though, this didn't really seem to slow the kids down any. My mom and I on the other hand, oh yeah, we were dying!

They all had a blast playing in the playground. Swings, slides, bars, you name it.

Afterward we moved over to an area with bleachers and a wooden stage where one by one the kids put on a show for me and my mom to enjoy.

We then decided to take a walking trail and explore nature around us. For the boys that pretty much meant picking up sticks and rocks.

Our adventure ended with all of us seeking a break from the hot sun and enjoying a nice picnic lunch in one of the gazebos.

Like I said, we're definitely looking forward to retuning to this awesome park, but it must be much cooler in order for us to really enjoy all it has to offer.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fun, but hectic

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but once again it did. You see Scott and I had fantasies about how laid back this last weekend was going to be, but things didn't quite work out as we had expected (as they seldom do) and it turned out to be another crazy busy weekend for the Butler clan.

Friday night my mom kept the kids and Scott and I were giddy to get to the movies to see this:

The Hangover was hilarious! I do not lie when I tell you that I am still laughing. It's definitely not for everyone, but it was perfectly made for us. My cheeks were literally in pain by the time we left the movie theater.

Saturday involved putting the finishing touches on our brand new patio. Sing it with me people:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halle-lu-jah! It is done and it is awesome! We love that it looks very rustic and that it is so much bigger than what we previously had, but most of all we love that we did it ourselves. I'll post some pictures soon. Then we went to our friend Brooke's second birthday party at the Lictherman Nature Center. And after that my parents invited us over for a little swimming and dinner. Needless to say we were exhausted and pretty much crashed as soon as we got home.

On Sunday afternoon we celebrated my Dad's 60th birthday at our place. Lots of yummy food, good cake and great conversation.

I only had 6 candles,... one for every decade I guess.

Taken right after the kids had decided to cool off with the sprinkler in the backyard.

Oh how I love our crazy family gatherings!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Papi!

Today is my wonderful father's 60th Birthday! Woo Hoo! We'll be getting together to celebrate it this afternoon, Torres style! So stay tuned for pictures to come!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our sweet boy

Here's our sweet boy during the downtown fireworks display on the 4th of July:

Doesn't he look,... angelic?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wet & Wild

Today we went to the zoo along with my parents, my niece, my nephew and my grandmother.

{These are some good looking kids}

We walked almost the entire zoo and enjoyed looking at most of the animals. But throughout the day there seemed to be one repetitive theme: Water!

Some animals were enjoying cooling off in the water:

We spent a huge amount of time watching the polar bear and the sea lions playing in the water:

The kids didn't miss a single opportunity of getting wet under every single sprinkler we passed:

But how it went from this:

to this:

and this:

and this:
Well,... that's anyone's guess.

They had a blast getting soaked in the fountain and we had a blast watching them, and at the end of the day isn't that what it's all about?

Note to self: next time pack bathing suits or a change of clothes so you don't have to spend $12 on a zoo shirt for Isabella. Dang!