Ethan Turns 12!

A few days ago, my wonderful second son turned a whopping twelve years old!  It’s hard to believe that next year we will have two teenagers in the house!  We celebrated just as a family a few days early with dinner at home, cake and ice cream and (for Ethan, best of all) opening gifts.  Several sweet family members sent Ethan some money and Bryan and I gave him two games: Ticket to Ride and Pit.  I remember playing pit with my grandmother as a child so I thought our kids might enjoy it and I was right!  They love being able to yell out numbers as they play and everyone gets excited about ringing the bell at the end when they have made a full set. After we played the first time, I came up with the idea of using ear plugs and then I enjoyed the rest of the rounds even more!  Ticket to Ride has also been really fun to play (though less noisy!) Katie even spent her own money to buy Ethan a super hero Lego, so we all felt the sibling love!

On the actual day of Ethan’s birthday, four of his best guy friends came over for food, cake, and hours of Nerf dart gun battles (topped off with a few rounds of Wii).  This was his first time to have an all guys birthday party and everyone seemed to enjoy the freedom to get the downstairs messy and shoot at each other.  Bryan and I just hung back and let them enjoy themselves.

It has been neat to see Ethan growing and maturing over the years.  He has a great sense of humor, is good at relating to people of all ages, and is very fun to be around.  He is also really interested in science and nature and is great at noticing things that no one else does.  I am excited to see him keep maturing!  It will be fun to see how God directs his life in the future.  Happy Birthday, Ethan!

A Disney Birthday — Ethan Turns 10!

Our family usually celebrates the kids’ birthdays by inviting sweet friends to our house for a party. This year for Ethan’s 10th birthday, however, we decided to try something a little different. Since none of our children had ever been to Disneyland and Bryan and I hadn’t been in over 11 years, we decided to pile into the family van and take everyone to Tokyo Disneyland.  We made the trip with our good friend Yoshie (a die-hard Disney fan and genuine expert on the ins and outs of how to ride all the best rides at her favorite theme park) and also met the wonderful VanZante family at the front gate so we could spend the day together.

Our kids were so excited they barely ate anything all day (and just focused on getting to the next ride!)  I have to admit that I was really excited too (though I somehow managed to eat a huge Mickey Mouse shaped cheeseburger and several other snacks while we were there). 🙂

I grew up in Southern California, so I had my share of visits to Disneyland as a kid and teen, but this time I couldn’t wait to introduce my own kids to “The Happiest Place on Earth.”  As a child, riding Space Mountain and the other fast roller coasters always seemed so scary, but this time I had a giant smile on my face as I conquered those gut-wrenching dips and curves (well, in between screams, that is!) because I was getting to ride them with my very own kids!  I felt like I had come full circle.

Everyone in our group had a super fantastic time and our family is still reliving the memories together. The only downside to our little adventure is that now every few days I have to turn down requests from my kiddos to go again next week. 🙂  It is awfully tempting, though…

Here are a few pics of our trip.

Ethan Turns Nine

Last month, Ethan reached the milestone age of nine years old!  We celebrated by inviting friends to our house for a pirate-themed birthday party with delicious cake, tasty snacks, water balloon fights, and whatever else the kids thought up to do together.  The weather was beautiful so it was a great chance for everyone to play at the park next door and drench their friends with  water balloons.  Ethan is a wonderful little boy with a great sense of humor, endless energy, and lots of creative ideas.  We are so thankful to have him in our family!  Here are a few scenes from the festivities.


Katie Turns Five!

When I went into Katie’s bedroom to wake her up on the day of her birthday, I heard these muffled words from under her many blankets: “Mommy, I’m five!!!!”  Katie was VERY excited to increase in age this month!  She disdains being small and is always ready to prove she’s a big girl.  Now she has a larger number in her age to prove it! 🙂  Unfortunately, on Katie’s birthday I was still recovering from a stomach flu and Bryan was out of town, so the celebration on her actual birthday was a bit mellow.  We did manage to go to our favorite cake shop and everyone chose a special cake slice to celebrate with.  Then we went to Toys R Us so Katie could choose something special with birthday money she had received.  So, I think she had a good time!

A few days later, tons of friends from school and the BEST Club gathered at our house for a fun (and very pink!) celebration of Katie turning the big five.  We had great weather that day, so the kids had a tons of fun playing outside at the park with Bryan and our good friend Yoshie.  Katie was showered with piles of feminine presents and she thoroughly enjoyed all the attention.

Here are some photos of her birthday celebrations:

Katie turns the Big 4 and Bryan turns the Big 4-0

This month was a special milestone for our family when Katie turned 4 and Bryan turned ten times her senior!!  When Katie found out she was finally four (something she’d been waiting for ever since she’d turned three!) she was ecstatic and then said, “Next, I’m five mommy!!”  Another year of eagerly awaiting an increase in her age has already started!!  (If only I were so eager to get older each year!!) 

Katie celebrated her bday with a fun party at our house that was attended by family, friends, classmates, and her preschool teacher.  She was blessed by lots of wonderful presents from sweet people in America and Japan who mean a lot to her. 

Bryan and I celebrated his birthday by having an overnight date in Odaiba, our favorite spot in Tokyo.  Our dear friends Megan and Jason (see my recent post about their super bowl party) came to our house and stayed with the kids so we could get a rare getaway together.  We had a great time and felt very refreshed when we got back.  I also gave Bryan a collection of birthday emails from family and friends that he really liked. 

Now that Katie is four she…

can eat a whole vitamin instead of just a half

unfortunately isn’t free to museums in Japan anymore

is too tall to ride her tricycle and is eagerly awaiting Ethan’s hand-me-down bike

considers herself a genuine “big girl” who is WAY more mature than a measly three year old! 🙂

Now that Bryan is 40 he…

can probably consider himself a real adult

can now look forward to lots of interesting physical ailments that are sure to follow 🙂

is heading into the next wonderful 40 years of his life

I am super thankful for both Bryan and Katie.  I feel extremely thankful that we are family!!

Here are some photos of Katie’s party and of Katie with gifts she received for her birthday.

Turning the Big 4-0

Well, it’s official.  I’ve entered my forties.  Sigh.  Bigger sigh… I’ve been dreading forty since I turned thirty-nine, but now that the day is here I actually don’t FEEL any older than I did yesterday.  I guess that’s a good sign!! 🙂  Last night Bryan had a surprise party for me with lots of friends and we had a super fun time together.  In addition to the usual dinner, cake, and mingling among the guests, there was a spontaneous break out into the “chicken dance” in the kitchen (which Katie loved!), there was a whiffle ball game in the homeschool room (don’t ask…), and there was a fun session of flying Austin’s radio controlled helicopter around the living room.  And, to top it all off, Bryan surprised me with a really cute and funny happy birthday video that he had secretly made for me with the help of family and friends.  So, I guess turning the big 4-0 wasn’t that bad!  I’m not even going to think about turning 50 for at least another year or so. 🙂  For those interested, click here to watch the video Bryan made for me.

Ethan turns Seven!

In spring it seems like there’s always some person in our family celebrating a birthday.  This week was Ethan’s turn and he was extremely happy to turn seven (and receive quite a few birthday gifts as well).  🙂  He celebrated with a super fun party at our house with some of his best friends from school, including some of the high school boys at UICS that Ethan really admires and enjoys interacting with.

It’s hard to believe that it was seven years ago that Ethan came into this world. Time flies!! We’re so proud of how he is growing and developing into a wonderful young man. I love Ethan’s enthusiasm and passion about the things he’s interested in, his energy, and his great smile and fun laugh. He makes life in our household interesting!! Happy Birthday, Ethan!