The Yessa Has A Birthday!

It finally arrived! The birthday for the youngest. She’s been excited in her quiet, introspective way.

Nonni bought her a gift when she was here a couple weeks ago. A box arrived from Grandma Iowa earlier this week. Our gift to her came in the mail the night before her birthday. We let her pick the museum we went to on Tuesday because her birthday was coming. It’s been a week of birthday fun.

But, the big fun was the party last night.

Yessa requested a Hello Kitty cake. Since Hello Kitty is a simple design, I thought I could make this happen. Luckily, my neighbor who actually knows how to decorate cakes gave me the way to do it when I went over to borrow her cake decorating tackle box.

Find a template online:

Hello, Sweet, Simple Kitty!

Put a piece of parchment paper over the template, and outline in black frosting. Then flip the parchment paper onto the cake. Voila! Color in the lines with frosting!

Stay in the lines.

If I’m not careful, between the birthday cakes and the jack-o-lantern success, I might start to believe I have a crafting bone somewhere in my body. Probably one of those ear bones.


I knew Cousin O would probably prefer something besides a Hello Kitty cake, so we created a special one for him, too.

Time was running a little short, so Uncle Z agreed to be the cake turner to help move the process along.

Sustenance in preparation for cake duty.

You spin, I’ll squirt.

Another victory. That’s a smiley face at the bottom, suggested by Monkey.

Aunt A and Uncle Z and their crew had the first seating at Chez Gemignani.

A little playing, a little eating, a little candle blowing.

Here comes the cake.

Get ready!

Big puff!

After a little cake eating, Z and A and their crew had to head home.

Then, the second seating arrived.

Betty, Kate, and their moms arrived next. Betty made Yessa a beautiful bracelet with three hearts hanging from it to symbolize Yessa, Kate, and Betty. Yessa has worn it non-stop since she received it.

Shortly after, Chloe, Hayden, and their folks were at the door. Since Monkey was at book club, Zachary was thrilled to have Hayden and his MineCraft ability arrive. The boys disappeared upstairs after a quick snack.

The four little girls also disappeared after a quick bite to eat. There was great rumpusing play upstairs. Much giggling, some shrieking, and lots of running and door slamming. They had a great time together.

Chloe brought Yessa a very cool bracelet crafting kit which she and I broke in today. I swear…I might become craftenabled some day.

Lots of talking, more singing, some great food, more laughter, and insightful conversation. It was a fantastic night for kids and adults.

Paula pitched right in to help get the second round of meals going.

Let the baby play begin!

Opening Chloe’s gift.

Buds had the girls playing a modified version of “Twister” on our patterned rug. They loved it!

Settled in for a snack.

Ahh, time to sit and visit. Mia was naughty, so she got the plastic margarita glass.

Hello Kitty’s candles got blown out during the singing.

The girls all snuggled on our bed to watch a movie.

What a wonderful birthday it was for Yessa. Now she has to use two hands to show her age.

Thanks for being a blessing, sweet girl.

Hair Today…

The 10 y.o. just “did” her own hair, and the hair of the 6 y.o.

The years ahead look better and better for me.

The sweet face of the nearly 6 y.o.

Monkey discovered the “chop stick flip” method.

The Monkey’s sweet face. She has such a pixie chin.

Monkey’s chop stick.

I love to see the children care for each other in all the various ways.

Happy Halloween

Halloween is a mixed bag at our casa. Some years a child knows for weeks ahead of time what s/he wants to be…and sticks with that decision clear through to the end. (Zachary’s ninja year is an example of this.)

Photo from Paula and Kelly’s House. It has no connection to Halloween, but it cracks me up, so…here you go.

Other years we aren’t really sure what the costumes are going to be until a day or so before.

This year, we brought it in even closer to the wire when Yessa decided, after we got home from CrossFit Kids at 5:15, that she was going to be a cat this year. She found all the parts, and she was ready to go trick-or-treating by the time Buds got home at 6:30.

The pumpkin carving follows a similar pattern. Last year we didn’t even carve pumpkins, Monkey was sick on Halloween night, so the little ones had to gather her candy for her, and she wasn’t really sad about it.

So, Halloween isn’t our favorite holiday, though it is enjoyed.

This year, though, I was frightfully tickled by the jack-o-lanterns. Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve discovered the vast number of free templates on the internet for pumpkin carving. Monkey designed and carved hers all on her own, which really impressed me, but the little ones had big plans, and wanted help with their carving. We printed out the templates they chose, and since Buds had a work problem that had to be solved, I was pressed into service as the master carver.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m proud of having no crafting ability. I love having beloved friends who are amazingly gifted with creativity and artistic talent. I can follow instructions just fine, but please, please, please, do not ask me to come up with an idea on my own. It will be a failure of epic, comedic proportions, I promise. Hence, I was so grateful the images The Buster and Yessa wanted carved came out looking like the images they wanted carved. And Monkey carved her own for the first time. That was really impressive to me.

Zachy planning for carving.


Kids and pumpkins

Sweet Sisters

Ghostly group

Coach Maggie, dressed as the Big Bad Wolf, gave out treat bags (filled with non-food items, or healthy foods), at CrossFit Kids.

Then, home to trot around our neighborhood.

Waiting to head out.

Buster was Tom, the main character from BeastQuest. Love that my Uggs are getting lots of use. Yessa is a cat. Monkey was Grassina, the Green Witch, in her velvet green dress.

The children were happy with wandering in our neighborhood where we know everyone. We did have several teachable moments on Halloween etiquette.

The Buster’s well-known devotion to Kit Kats caused him to rifle through the bowl at the first house, look up at our neighbor and say, “There is nothing here of interest to me.”

Hugely funny to his parents, knowing his dry sense of humor, but potentially hurtful or rude to the uninitiated. Hasty family meeting on the sidewalk ensued with parents giving very clear instructions about how to handle the giving of FREE CANDY!

Parents saying, “Take one piece of candy unless the homeowner tells you you may take more than that.”

This led to younger two children looking up at the person holding the candy bowl and saying, “How much candy can I take?”

Another family meeting ensued…

Children now apparently rendered mute.

Finally cajoled into a comfortable balance of trick-or-treating with consideration.

We returned home, filled up our bowl of candy that had been sitting on the front steps, shut our front door, and settled in to watch the children trade candy bars like poker chips.

All Kit Kats are passed to Buster. Hersheys Kisses and Bars funnel to Monkey. Yessa is willing to try any piece of candy, but doesn’t tend to like too much outside the chocolate realm. Buds and I get tossed a couple pieces of castoff candy when we start to grumble or whine.

The Buster’s pile.

The leftovers pile.

Yessa guards her stash.

I wait patiently for a castoff to come my way.

Monkey begins to sort.

What do you mean I can’t fit 15 Kit Kats in my mouth all at once?! Watch me.

Though not from Halloween night, I love this picture of Monkey laughing in her green dress.

It works well for all of us.