Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Nov '14

Carissa’s 4th Birthday

I realized I never put up memories from our Carissa’s fourth birthday party in August. We had a party with friends (and grandma and grandpa). Carissa picked the theme: Hello Kitty. For the Big Day, she wore her Hello Kitty (pajama) shirt and put a pink bow in her hair like Hello Kitty.





We started with coloring Hello Kitty pages and decorating Hello Kitty sugar cookies. The kids liked this part. Wes liked eating the frosting.

We did “Pin the Bow on Hello Kitty.” John did the terrific job of drawing and coloring Hello Kitty on poster board. I would have just free-handed it, but he made a grid with pencil first so it was all proportional and it looked really good! Carissa still tells me today that she can remember how she could see when it was her turn to pin the bow on. But that’s because she was obviously cheating and peeking.





Next Carissa opened presents. The kids all want to help. She got some amazing gifts that are very reflective of HER: lots of arts and crafts type of things, nail polish, a Hello Kitty umbrella, etc.

A Carissa's presents sm

A Carissa's presents b sm

A Carissa smile

Then we moved to the backyard where we had decorated a canopy and had the birthday cake. When I asked Carissa what kind of cake she wanted, of course it was Hello Kitty. I showed her lots of pictures on the Internet of Hello Kitty cakes and she clearly showed me that she wanted a cake that looks just like Hello Kitty. And then I–the non-cake decorator–had to figure out how to make it. I think it turned out really good.

A 8.14.14 Carissa's Hello Kitty Cake by me sm

We ran out of time for the pinata, which we saved for Wesley’s birthday. The kids had fun and Carissa had a beautiful celebration of her wonderfulness. We are so blessed to have Carissa in our family. She is full of creativity, full of life, full of opinions, full of surprises, and we are glad she’s here to stay.

A Mom bday cake sm

A Bringing the cakev

A Carissa cute

A lighting candles

A Carissa cake

A the party outside better

Dec '13

Winter is Here

With the holidays fast approaching we’ve been enjoying the season.

I tried taking photos of the kids for a potential Christmas card but they all basically turned out like this. No Christmas cards for us.







We bought a pile of hot chocolate for a church activity. Wes and Carissa liked using it to build a giant tower.


Wes is really improving at his art and writing skills. As his mom, I am Super Impressed and Proud. And so I share:

He did this picture AND the word all by himself. ALL BY HIMSELF. (I just told him how to spell “spider.”) Did I mention I’m Super Impressed and Proud?




Elizabeth is 13 months going on 13 years.


This afternoon the sun was shining and it was above freezing, so when Carissa asked to play outside in the snow I couldn’t object. For the first time, both kids got to make snow angels. Carissa did one and was happy (“Just like Kipper!” she said, referring to the dog on one of her favorite shows from Netflix), but Wes made about six. He really liked it!


Carissa was my helper decorating our goodies for neighbor gifts. She was in her element and did a good job. She helped decorate, Wes helped eat them.



Nov '13

Sunday Nails

This was her first time painting her nails all by herself.



Sep '13

Beautiful kids

In June we had some family photos taken. Here are a few candids in between shots.









Here are some my mom and sister took:






And the real photographer’s pictures (John missed it):






Aug '13

Carrisa Turns THREE!

On August 15, 2013 our sweet Carissa Rose turned three. She had a wonderful day. I’d been telling her that soon she would turn three, and then she’d be old enough for preschool, and she’s been looking forward to it. The day before she turned three I told her it was the last night she’d be just two years old. And as she went to bed that night she reminded me that it was her last night as a two-year-old. She has a good memory!

The morning of her birthday I didn’t remind her that it was her special day until the morning was about half over. But as soon as I did, she paused and her eyes lit up as this news sunk in. In an animated voice she talked about how she was three years old now. It’s so fun to watch her excitement.

We pulled out a helium tank we have and blew up a few balloons. That was hugely exciting for Wes and Carissa.


But the Big Event of the day was taking Carissa to Build-A-Bear at the mall. I’ve never been into stuffed animals myself, so I never gave it much thought. But a few weeks ago John and I were at the mall for dinner and noticed little girls coming out of the mall with Build-A-Bear bags and their new stuffed treasures inside. They looked so happy that we thought we should walk through the store before we went home. We did, and we observed the prices (which are naturally not cheap), but we came away convinced that out little daughter would absolutely love the experience.

And thus she did. The way it works is you pick a stuffed animal shell, fill it yourself (with an employee’s help) with fluff, give it a heart, and then you can buy accessories and clothes and print a birth certificate. Wes was quick to find a Hello Kitty one, and as soon as Carissa saw it, that was it. We took it to the fluff machine. The very, very nice employee showed Carissa how to use the foot pedal to fill her Hello Kitty with fluff.



You’ve got to watch this video. It is just so cute to watch her experience this. Also, notice that the employee is missing his forearm, but look how good he is at using what he has.

Bath time.


Honestly, cross my heart, I wasn’t planning to buy the stuffed animal any accessories or clothes. But as soon as her kitty was bathed she sidled up to the accessories wall and said that Hello Kitty needed some clothes.

OK. Why not? It’s her birthday. There were dresses and shirt/short combos, but since Carissa herself prefers shorts that’s what Hello Kitty got, too. I was turning to leave when I heard Carissa say, “Now she needs shoes!” and she was already perusing the selection. So. Hello Kitty ended up with some pretty snazzy wooden sandals.

However, I drew the line at the chair and car. But Carissa sure had fun playing with them for a while.


During this time Wes is mostly pulling these wheeled toys around the store (and out into the mall).


Carissa is happy. Off to print the birth certificate!



There’s a candy shop/ice cream store near the mall that we’d never been to before. We stopped in. Wes had an ice cream cone and Carissa had a huge sucker that the nice employee gave her for free since it was her birthday.



After dinner we headed to my parent’s new place and had a birthday celebration.

Oh, Carissa loves birthday parties! She throws birthday parties for her stuffed animals often, and we knew she couldn’t wait to have a real one for herself. As I buckled her into her carseat to go to the party she said, “I want candles on my cake!” Because her stuffed animals always have (pretend) candles on the (pretend) cake that she makes for them in her (pretend) kitchen.

We sang, she blew, and then we ate!



She ate her cake with such relish, enjoying every bite. She picked out the cake herself at the grocery store the night before. She was so sure she wanted the one with balloons on it, I couldn’t say no.


Then it was present time. Grandpa helped her open (along with all her cousins).



Besides the Hello Kitty, I really only gave her a backpack (which is practical since she starts preschool in a couple weeks). It’s a penguin backpack, since she’s really into penguins these days. But her grandma, uncle, aunt and cousins were uber generous and she received some really lovely gifts like a dress-up fairy costume with accessories, Hello Kitty book with little toy figurines, magnetic dress-up dolls, and the list goes on.


Her grandma provided goodie bags for all the kids, which I let Wes and Carissa open at home the next morning. It was like Christmas! Carissa kept asking if she could play with the toys she had just gotten, and which I had piled on the little kids’ table, and I kept telling her, Yes! They’re all yours! Play with them! The light in her eyes is unforgettable.

So she had a very happy birthday, thanks to the wonderful support of family and the beautiful innocence of being three years old. For a few days after she would say, “I’m still three!” (I think she was going for, “I’m three now.”)

And here’s Elizabeth!


Aug '13

August Already

Only August 3rd and here’s what we’ve done.

Elizabeth is almost 9 months old. In the past month she’s started, and gotten reeeeeally fast, at army crawling. I don’t recall either Wes or Carissa army crawling, just crawling. I think Carissa started around 10 months, and Wes was slightly older. Elizabeth gets on all fours sometime and rocks back and forth, and I’ve seen her take a few short legitimate crawling movements forward before falling back to her tummy. She can push herself up to sitting. She likes to play peek-a-boo and can even pull the blanket off her face herself to play. She’s super curious. She wants to touch everything, eat everything, and she definitely puts everything into her mouth that she finds. Daily I’m pulling something out of her mouth. She also seems very social, preferring to be around people and crying if she’s left alone. Her demeanor seems calm and sure. Wesley loves her, and both he and Carissa delight in grabbing her by the feet and pulling her backwards on her tummy, away from things (they think) she shouldn’t be getting into. She also recently acquired two bottom teeth.

Some newer advances include pulling herself to standing, such as on this toy.



Today I found her, for the first time, sitting up in her crib when I went in to get her.



And, today we discovered she can climb steps. ALL of them. And the fun continues.

Oh yeah, I had a birthday yesterday.



This morning I visited and guest-taught at a Zumba class, and on the way home I saw a yard sale. I stopped and now we’re the proud owners of two new Easter baskets and a green tent that looks like a turtle. All for $5.50. Elizabeth didn’t have her own basket, and I know Carissa just likes having the baskets out to play with all year round.

Like so:


(With Pingu, of course. That’s Wes in the background playing in the rocks like he does.)





Ritual bathtime is every Saturday night. All three in the tub. Elizabeth only recently joined the other two in the big tub, which she considers tremendous fun and likes splashing in like a crazy person.

Not going to lie, bathtime is not my favorite time. It is a hard job to bathe three non-independent people, some of whom (*cough*Carissa*cough*) put up a big fuss if any water comes in contact with their eyes/face/ears/body. Lately it’s been starting to get a little better as Carissa gains a little pride in being independent and trying to get the ends of her hair wet herself after shampooing. I just have to be really careful to keep the water off her face. Her hair is a big job to clean. Wes is pretty brave and can dump water on his head himself to get most of the shampoo out.

Nonetheless it’s a physical and time-consuming thing, bathtime. Good thing they smell so good and have such shiny hair afterward.

Wes found my camera as I got things ready.






Can you see her bottom teeth?





When Carissa comes out of the tub we have pamper time. I set her on the counter of my vanity, smooth oil and mousse in her hair, brush it all out, and then blow-dry it. She likes this time. Her hair always turns very straight, which for some reason makes John hopeful it will stay straight forever, but within a half-hour the curls come out of nowhere. Those curls are here to stay.