Monday, April 23, 2012

Russian Space Dog Birthday Party...

Alternately titled  {DOG} ROCKET to RUSSIA party as a nod to the Ramones album.

So the E- cousTWins turned 2.

 In an effort to remain original while having a 'dog' themed birthday party... I combined their mutual love of dogs with an awesome vintage Russian space program ad I found.
Bam.  3 themes for the price of 1.  Be still my heart.

April 14th turned out to be the WINDIEST day in Central Texas history... I'm guessing while I was praying for no rain... someone else was praying for gale force winds.  The party still happened... and no one was sweating but me.

Details (Pictured above) Explained:

Party activities:
Rocket test-launch: using the best. toy. ever. and my new 'go-to' birthday present!
    Pre-flight check up:  Lily's idea.  toy doctor kit and stuffed dogs.  done.
    Moon dig simulation: plastic pool filled with sand and 'moon rocks' (foil balls)
    Space Race: rolling dog toys labeled with Russian and US flags
    Anti-gravity training: bounce house (one of those cheap second hand purchases that keeps paying for itself)

Party Food:
Cocoa Kibble: Cocoa Puffs
Dog Bones: Scooby graham cracker bones
Puppy Chow:  with this recipe but substituted Crispix for Chex... because Kellogg's is good to Mr. Olson.
Potato Rounds:  a nod to the Russians. thank you pinterest for this recipe.
with copycat Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno: (got me through a pregnancy outside the Austin City Limits)
    1 c. mayo
    1 c. buttermilk
    1 HV buttermilk ranch packet
    2 Tbs. diced green chiles from can (more or less for desired heat)
    A few fresh cilantro leaves... if you've got them
    Combine in a blender until smooth.
Fruit with cream cheese fruit dip
Party Punch: listed on Pinterest as the best. punch. EVER!!!... it was good... but not the best.

Buttercream frosting: found here with Wilton sky blue icing color and Wilton black spray color and Wilton white sugar sheet cut into stars, planets, and comets.
Moon: Rice Krispie treats molded into a mixing bowl and craters hollowed out with a melon baller. I meant to cover it in grey fondant... but didn't have it in me after the other preparations.... so I sprayed it with the remaining Wilton color spray.
Rocket: paper towel roll with a cone cup top and a pronamel toothpaste top burner
Dog: Schleich toy

Homemade touches:  (all super time consuming... and ruined in seconds by the WINDIEST day in history... but such is life.)
paper banner
cardboard rocket ship
balloons turned planets with cardstock rings wrapped in foil
painted cardboard logo with dog silhouette and giant E^2
cups: each taught you to say a word/phrase in Russian  while making it distinguishable from your neighbor's cup... (theme related cup markers: a Tiffany Ashcraft party idea that I continue to use... just like the next one)

Guest book:
Dogs in Space by Nancy Coffelt

AstroRox: freeze dried "Astronaut ice cream"
Party Playlist cd:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Guess who’s TWO….


the same kid who sat in the same yard looking like this:


only months ago.

Here is my little Easter baby… the past three years.



Eli at 2:

-still loves his paci.  We hear “Pa-ti, are you?” multiple times a day, as he looks for them.  I’m not ready to take it from him… don’t judge.  A kid this cute can pull off a wicked overbite, right?

-such a character.  Already loves making us laugh.

-answers to Beankins, Goo-beankins, Mr. Goo-Beankins, and Beankins ol’ Stinkins

-wakes up everyday telling me (very seriously) how he dreamed about “ow-dants" and “rogs”… elephants and frogs

-can say (or at least try to say) pretty much everything now.  Some of our favorite Eli-isms are “Lucky=yucky, ‘Mon= C’mon, eeg0=here you go, wajthiz=watch this” and of course Mommo and Daddo

- loves everyone.  Finally an Olson kid that will wave  to old people in the grocery store… and save his mother from overcompensating with nervous high pitched laughter.

-SO busy. This kid NEVER STOPS.  He is a full time job and the source of my premature aging.

-loves Barney (“Marney and eebop”). loves to sing. loves to talk about animals (especially cows and chickens). loves any kind of drink at any time of day.

-wants to be just like his ‘Daddo’… which is okay by me.


I’ll admit that I was scared of life with a boy…  and that it is COMPLETELY different than life with a girl… but I wouldn’t trade it.    He is ALL boy and is  a CONSTANT source of joy and laughter.  Nano’s early nickname for him is still so fitting… he’s our little ‘bright spot’…. and I LOVE LOVE LOVE him with all my heart.

Happy 2nd birthday Eli!


Friday, March 09, 2012

Seeing as Easter is just around the corner…

and as I saw that  this Resurrection countdown made it on Pinterest (haha)...

I figured I should disclose the rest of my 12 days of Jesus lessons and activities from this post last year.


I realized recently that I have taken for granted the education that I received through 20+ years of Sunday School.  As we go to a small church without a Sunday School program for my kids... I am trying to be better about working Bible stories in at home.  That is where this idea originated last year.  Plus… this kind of stuff is fun for the former teacher in me.



Start 12 days before Easter.  Easter Sunday should leave you with the #1 egg to open.  Each of the 12 eggs should hold a small trinket or conversation starter that will kind of fit in the egg.  After Lily opens the egg for that day, we read the story together in her Children’s Bible (we have this one and this one)... then talk a little bit about how the object relates to the story and how the story relates to our lives. My main purpose is to start to get her as excited about my Savior as I am.




... and to make strides in redeeming Easter in our house from the Pagans, while keeping it fun.

… and full of chocolate.






Day 12: mini playdoh … “The name of Jesus”   
Read the story of the Angel coming to Mary in Luke 1.   Talk about what the name of Jesus -  Immanuel “God with us” means.  Talk about the meaning of our own names. Read Philippians 2:10 together and discuss.  Use the playdoh to spell out the name of Jesus.

Day 11:  swedish fish candy and a cracker … “Jesus feeds the 5000”
See how many times we can break the ‘bread’ and ‘fish’. Read the story in  Matthew 14, Luke 9, or John 6.  Talk about what it might have looked like and note how everyone got enough to be full and not just tiny pieces.

Day 10:  toy boat … “Jesus calms the storm” (I found a tiny boat at the party store this year for a dime… but last year decorated a piece of mulch with a sharpie… no joke) 
Read the story in  Matthew 8, Mark 4 or Luke 8 and talk about why this is so amazing. Make a storm in a bottle (with a liter bottle oil water and food coloring) with your toy boat or storm in the bathtub and try to calm it instantly, which can’t be done.

Day  9:  blindfold …  “Jesus heals the blind man”
Lead them in a few activities with the blindfold on.  Talk about how hard it would be to live life that way and how you’d feel if you were healed.  Read about  the healing in John 9.   Note how the blind man reacted when Jesus told him who He was.   How does God reveal Himself in our lives… how should we react?

Day  8:  paper crown and a travel soap …  “Jesus washes feet”  
Talk about the meaning of royalty and the things that kings, queens, princesses are supposed to do.  Explain how Jesus is the King of all Kings and what that means.  Then read the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples in John 13 and how he came to serve and not be served. Is that what you’d expect the King of Kings to do?  Take turns putting on the crown and washing each other’s feet talking about how we can serve the way Jesus did.

Day  7:  sample perfume or scented lotion … “Mary Magdalene and the perfume”

(I did this one because Lily is obsessed with perfume... feel free to substitute)  Read the story of Mary pouring the perfume on Jesus’ feet from John 12.  Talk about how expensive this was back then and what a big deal it was for her to do it.  Discuss some other things are important to us now and how we can give them as an offering to God.... time, money etc.

Day  6:  4 quarters … “giving/ Rich young ruler”
Talk about what they’d like to do with the 4 quarters.  Read the story Jesus tells of the rich young ruler from Matthew 19 or Luke 12 and then Acts 20:35 when Jesus says it is better to give than to receive.  Now revisit the quarters and talk about what they’d like to do with the 4 quarters.

Day  5:  TWO small treats or candy … “Jesus visits Zacchaeus”
Read the story in Luke 19.  Talk about why people didn’t like Zacchaeus back then and how cool it is that Jesus not only saw and acknowledged him, but wanted to spend time with him… and how it changed the man’s life.  Lead them to think about some people that they (or the world  in general) haven’t been ‘noticing’.  Invite them to seek out the person and share the extra treat and play with them.

Day  4:  Time Coupon … “Jesus loved the children”
Read the story in Mark 10 .  Talk about adults in our lives that obviously love children.  How do you know and what do they do to show it?  How do we think Jesus showed it?  How would you like me to show you that I love you and value spending time with you?  Fill out the time coupon together.  (Although I’d like to steer her into wanting extra hugs or going on a walk together... I can already tell you that I am going to be in for 20 excruciating minutes of Barbies with this one. )

Day  3:  Tearjerker gum … “Jesus wept.”
Read the story of Jesus healing Lazarus in John 11.   Talk about  how Jesus was a real person with real emotions like us.  Note how he was sad, but never lost hope.  He knew God was going to use Lazarus’ story for His glory.  Talk about times when we feel sad, hurt, scared at times and how awesome it is to have hope like Jesus did in this situation because God is behind us and hears our prayers.

Day  2:  Crayon and a slip of paper … “Jesus died for us”
Read the story of the crucifixion in Matthew 27, Luke 23 or John 19 and talk about how must have felt to love Jesus and be there that day... and how it might have felt for those who didn’t love Jesus but saw what happened.  Write the word that you feel on the piece of paper and put it inside the egg for the next day.  Bury the egg somewhere nearby.

Day  1:  the egg is empty … “He is RISEN!”  
Go find the egg (which has now been unearthed, broken open and is empty.) Read the story in Matthew 28, Mark 16 or John 20.  Talk about how God gave us the most special gift ever when he gave us Jesus: Himself in a body to love us and show us how to live and to ultimately give his own life so that we could have an eternal relationship with him.... not because we deserved it at all... but because He loves us that much. 

This is kind of how I worked the ‘Easter Basket’ in last year:

“All good things that we do are God’s grace at work in us because of our salvation in Jesus.  One of these is how Dad and I  enjoy giving you and Eli gifts to show our love... just like He does. Since this is a special day as we are celebrating Jesus’ victory over death…. I ‘ve made a special basket of gifts for you. If you can find it… you can keep it!”


***sidenote: Lily is 4, but loves to discuss things and make connections.  I catered this to her interests/ ability level.

When she gets older I might be to just read the stories each day and then have the Easter basket be full objects that relate to the stories and go back through and see if she can match them.   This whole ‘fitting inside the egg’ criteria may start to cramp my style in the coming years.

Please share if you substitute or come with other story/activity ideas.  

This was a hit last year and is probably going to be a new family tradition.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

If I ever tell you I’ve just bought a groupon…

for 100$ worth of photo books…  please remind me on several occasions  to scrapbook at some point during the year.

So, I’m not scrambling the week before it expires to crank out pages from 2010… yes… 2010. 

Who is a procrastinator… this guy.  

Who was shocked to find out that 100$ only got me 2 books instead of 3 and I could have been done hours sooner… this guy.

However stressful they were to complete on my 3 hours of Eli-free time per day… it is fun to look back at the memories in colorful 8.5x11 form.










orange egg




Saturday, February 04, 2012

Oldie but a goodie…

In light of things I’ve been learning and growing in as a parent and spouse, I was thinking about this post yesterday on my Dad’s 61st birthday. 

love, love, love my dad.

From February 2, 2008:

“Tomorrow, February 3rd, is my dad's 57th birthday. Thinking about what to get him, on a recent drive into Austin, (No radio for a sleeping baby gives one much time to think.) led me to think about why he is such a good dad.

What I decided is that there are so many things that I love about Dad... how he tells stories, loves a good laugh, his "nuggets" of truth, that everyone that knows him--loves him, how clueless he is sometimes, etc...
but there are 3 main things that make him so special to me.
1. How much he loves me...
He never had any trouble telling me that he loved me.... "with all (his) heart, for real, for real, forever and ever" every time he thought about it. I'm the only kid I know that was "bu-wudduh-wudduhed on" every night (sometimes mercilessly). He maybe didn't go to every one of my choir concerts, but he took an active interest in the shaping of my character and the growing of my spirit. Research shows that so much about a girl rests on her relationship with her dad. I always had an identity in his love and correction and KNEW I had great worth, so didn't search for it in less fulfilling places.
2. How much he loves my mom...
I think it does something extra special for a daughter's spirit when she knows, without a doubt, that her dad thinks her mom is the most beautiful creation on this earth and wants to be around her every second of every day. My sister and I heard him say every Sunday morning when were ready to go to church, "You SURE are pretty," in that distinctive Texas drawl. We knew that she is his favorite person in the world and that he felt it to be the greatest gift just to call her his wife.
3. How much he loves Jesus...
Some of my earliest memories are emerging sleepy-eyed from my room in the morning to see my dad sitting at the table with his Bible. From an early age, Suzanne and I both got to hear the profound thoughts and revelations that my dad was receiving. He was always ready to pray as a family and draw our attention to the way God was working in the life of our family in the times of blessing and times that tested his faith. Most important of all, I got to see that his relationship with Jesus was something that he devoted time and energy to and was always growing.
Being that I share his same sense of humor.... we aren't comfortable being sentimental much... but sometimes it's called for. This public proclamation should last for quite a few years.
In one more bit of serious-ness, I was blessed to have him as a dad and I'm so excited for Luke and Lily (and Ethan and Eli) to get to have him as their Granddad. (renamed ‘Augie’ by Lukie B.)”

Saturday, January 21, 2012



I was so, so excited to go back again with Jeff’s family to the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’.

Lily was the perfect age to enjoy the ‘magic…  Beankins, on the other hand, had a wonderful time, but would have been just as happy at the city park… for free.


Despite my photo catalog of acceptable outfits to prevent Bug from throwing a fit to wear dirty jeggings and a size 3T shirt everyday… 

Lily just wanted to match Gracie everyday.  Luckily, she has a very sweet Aunt and Maow that buy them cute matching things.  We didn’t have a fit for dirty jeggings until the trip home.


Some favorites from our trip…

character to meet: Lily- Rapunzel Eli- Pooh (least favorite: Stitch…. who even is that guy?)

ride: Lily- Star Tours, safari tour at Animal Kingdom     Eli- jungle river cruise at Magic Kingdom (he totally thought all of those animatronic elephants were real… and AMAZING!)

Jeff’s favorite part was when Eli would fall asleep in the stroller.  Sad.

My favorite part was the disney dining plan… getting to eat mashed potatoes and dessert at every meal. Sadder.


I had a strange fascination with trying to figure out if the people in the suits were men or women.  I don’t know about Phineas… but he was definitely a parent, as he plucked Beankin’s pacifier out at the last minute.  These pictures are so funny to me… because Jeff caught him pulling it out and then Eli looking at me like…

“Did you see that Mommo? 

Who is this fool?”



Having four doting older cousins has got to be the best thing in the world… seriously. 


2nd favorite thing  has to be having a kid this time that wasn’t scared of the characters. 

Lily still was a little uncomfortable… but Eli just wanted to KISS them all.


I could go back every year… and it would never get old. 

Heck, I could be a dancer in the parade and it would never get old.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

His law is love and His gospel is peace…


My sister is famous for her Christmas mix cds in our family.  The 2010 mix had the GLEE version of O holy night which includes the lesser known later part.  In my car at a stoplight, I cry every time singing it… no joke… no matter that the trucker in the next lane is laughing at me.  The underlined section has been running through my head and the recurring theme in our celebration all season long.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hears the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall His break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise us,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.


To all that we won’t see this season… christmascard2011page copy

christmascard2011back copy