Friday, April 26, 2013

Kyle's 10th Birthday - Minecraft Style!!!

Kyle's actual birthday is March 26th, but due to scheduling issues with Spring Break, school events, etc., he wasn't able to have his party until April 21st! Seriously, I didn't think he would make it. He was that dismayed to have his birthday party scheduled so far off!!!  Even though it didn't seem like it to him, his birthday party was here before we knew it!

Since he totally loves Minecraft, he decided to go with a Minecraft theme for his birthday.  I found a really neat, inexpensive Minecraft digital scrapbooking set on Etsy that had 17 patterns as well as some boxes that you could make.  I figured that I could definitely use that, so I ordered it.  I started with his invitations, so that our friends and family would know that we weren't forgetting Kyle's birthday party but it just had to be pushed back a little.

I found a lot of neat Minecraft birthday ideas online, so I picked the ones that I thought were the neatest, most inexpensive and easy to make projects for us to do.  Delaney was a great help, and she made a lot of these projects.

We started with Minecraft snacks.  We had TNT (cherry-flavored licorice), CREEPER (Andes mints), GOLD (caramel kisses), DIAMONDS (cookies n' cream kisses), and COAL (dark chocolate covered cashews) snacks. We also printed out several of the boxes from the digital kit, I cut a bunch of them out, and then Delaney put them all together for us.

Delaney also made all the kids their own set of Minecraft tools (out of perler beads).  She made everyone a shovel, sword, axe and pick-axe.  She had to make six complete sets, and as she was making them all -- Kyle had a special request to have a diamond sword.  :-)  So he ended up having his very own 'birthday tools' set.

They turned out really cute; she did a great job.  We weren't even sure that some of the older kids would really want their own set, but we figured better safe than sorry.  :-)

Next, we worked on some Steve and Creeper masks.  Again, we made enough so that each kid had their own mask.  We used paper bags for the base, and I raided my scrapbooking cardstock for all the squares.  I cut all the squares, while Delaney glued them all down.

I also made Kyle a birthday banner, that Delaney again got to help put together.  I think she was definitely Minecrafted out by the end of all our preparations for the party.  :-)

Kenny got to help make some spider decorations in the room.  I can't believe that I let them put 'spiders' up as decorations.  :-)

And once again, Aunt Danah made an awesome birthday cake.  (She said she had waaaaaay too many jelly beans left over.)

It was finally time for the party!  Yeah!   The kids were all great sports and donned the Minecraft masks for a picture.  :-)  The boys were all Steve, while the two girls went for the Creeper masks.  Don't they look great?  I just LOVE this picture.

And here are all the kids unmasked, somehow I never got a really good picture of all of them.  They were apparently having too much fun messing around with their minecraft tools.  Starting in the back, left to right, we have Delaney, Connor and Parker; then in the front we have Michael, Kyle and Teresa.

It's hard to believe that our 'baby' is 10 years old!!!  Both our kids are in double digits now.  (* gasp *)

Then it was time for gifts.  :-)  Kyle was psyched, and he did a great job reading out everyone's cards and announcing the gifts.  He got more awesome Minecraft and Star Wars shirts, more clothes for school, video games and two more X-Box controllers as well as gift cards and some cash.  He's a very lucky little boy, to have such good family and friends celebrate his birthday with him!!!

Afterwards the kids wasted no time in getting the other two controllers hooked up, so that four of them could play at the same time.  Good times!!!

We love you, Kyle!

~ Ken, Dani & Dee

Monday, April 22, 2013

Last Spring Break Post: Universal!

This is it, I promise, the last Spring Break post.  :-)  Not only did we want to head down to warmer weather, we also wanted to visit Universal Studios (with a big emphasis on Harry Potter, since everyone but Kenny read and loved the books).  So we ended up spending three days at Universal, taking a day off in between so that we had a chance to relax as well.

The first place we went was to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, of course.

Pretty exciting!!!  The first thing we saw was The Hogwarts Express, definitely a must for picture taking.

We checked out Hogsmeade in its entirety.  The attention to detail was fabulous, and it was just neat to look at all the stores brought to life.  Some of them were just store fronts and "closed," but you could still see inside the windows and they just looked as if the owner had stepped out for a moment.  Others were actual stores that you could go inside, and the insides had just as much detail as the outsides did.

We stood in line to watch Ollivander find a wand for someone.  We weren't lucky enough to be picked, but it was still really neat to watch.

Since Delaney already owned a Harry Potter wand (it was a birthday gift), she was okay with not getting another one.  But Kyle really wanted one, so conveniently enough, when you exit Ollivanders Wand Shop after watching him find a wand for someone... you are right in the gift shop.  :-)  Funny how that works, right?

It was crazy crowded, literally bumper to bumper people in the store.  Kyle selected a Harry Potter wand, and a Gryffindor quidditch t-shirt.  Delaney ended up selecting a t-shirt as well, a Hogwarts Triwizard Cup.  After carefully maneuvering around and getting all our stuff to purchase and waiting in line for a bit, Kyle decided he didn't want a Harry Potter wand.  He figured everyone would have a Harry Potter wand, and he wanted a different one.  SERIOUSLY?!?  Taking a deep breath (so as not to throttle him), I explained we would have to lose our place in line as well as somehow navigate our way back to the wands and start all over.  He understood; he was okay with that.  (* sigh *)  After explaining that this is a one time deal, your next wand selection will be your final wand selection... off we went through the crowd once again, carefully holding on to each other as to not lose anyone.

After much deliberation (as you can basically get a wand for any character in the book), he finally decided on Dumbledore's wand.  After all, his was the Elder Wand -- which was reputedly the strongest.  Now that the all-important final wand selection was made, we had to once again weave our way through the store, get back in line, and wait again to make our purchase.  CRAZY!

Once we finally made it to the register, the salesperson was trying to talk to the kids.  It's not that they weren't answering, but they also weren't being overly talkative either.  I think we were all overwhelmed with the sheer multitude of people packed inside, and I commented to that fact trying to give a reason for their lack of conversation.  And then freaking us all out even further, she said that we should have been there last week -- it was much better this week.  !!!  How crazy is that?!  I guess we were definitely glad we were not there last week, as it was insanely crowded as it was now.

The kids and I were also dying to try Butterbeer, so we sent their dad off to find us some frozen Butterbeer.  :-)  He got the rather dubious honor of standing in line for one, while we kept looking around.  Having two kids who are rather notorious for their issues with food at times, we were all rather surprised that everyone REALLY liked it!  Good stuff!!!  We ended up getting another one, so both kids have their very own Butterbeer mug.  :-)  Cheers!

Then, we were off to Hogwarts Castle.  We couldn't wait to see the inside of it and then join Harry Potter on the Forbidden Journey.

The inside of the castle was basically the "line" for the ride, but it was still really neat to see the castle in person.  You got to walk through classroom areas, hallways with moving and talking paintings, see Dumbledore talk, and much more.  It was probably one of our longest waits, which is why we only rode it once, but the ride itself was pretty awesome.  If you rode Soarin' at Disney, it was pretty much like that but only with a roller coaster effect thrown in.  If you happen to ride it, just so you know, the cameras are right where the spiders are at (since I have many, many issues with spiders I chose to simply not watch at that point and when checking out the pictures later, Delaney was like, 'mom, your hands are covering your eyes -- were you like that the entire ride?').  Just for the record, I only covered my eyes until the spiders were gone.  (* shudder *)

After we decided we pretty much did everything in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we did finally venture out to other parks in Universal.  We got to visit Despicable Me's minions, X-Men's Cylops and train with the Men in Black.

The kids weren't all that excited with the waiting in line part, so Cyclops and the minion were the only characters we got pictures with -- and that was only because we just happened to be in the right spot at the right time.  :-)

We rode a lot of other rides too, although neither kid is hip on roller coasters -- so we skipped all the really big coasters.  Kenny and I had already rode the Hulk several times before on our own Universal trip a while back, so I couldn't see waiting in line forever for rides that the kids wouldn't even try.  While the weather was definitely nice, it wasn't overly hot so Delaney and I chose to skip all the water rides.  But Kyle loved them, so Kenny and Kyle basically got soaked several times.

And Delaney had way too much fun spinning us at the Storm Force Acceleration ride; I don't think she stopped the entire ride!!!  Between her soccer and weight lifting, she didn't tire herself out AT ALL.  Kenny can't handle the spins, so he opted out of this one.

We had a lot of waiting in line, but we were prepared for it.  We had books, 3DS's, and things to do... so while not the most fun thing in the world to do... it helped make the wait bearable.  Thankfully, we had a very accommodating dad who was willing to lug a lot of things in a backpack for us!  (Best dad ever!!!)

I would have to say that the Men in Black ride must have been their favorite, because they rode it countless times.  After the first time, they went back through the 'single rider' option each time to shorten their wait.

It was a lot of fun!  The lines and traffic left a lot to be desired though, maybe our next trip will be someplace off the beaten path.  :-)

Next up, Kyle's 10 year old birthday pictures -- minecraft theme!!!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

More Spring Break Fun: Miniature Golfing!

After recovering from our long drive, one of our first excursions was to head out and find a fun miniature golf place.  Kenny decided that this one sounded like the best, so off to Congo River Golf we went.  We had a BLAST!!!

As you can see from some of our pictures above, it was absolutely gorgeous.  The most elaborate miniature golf course that we've ever done.  There were two courses; we decided to do the more challenging course.  

Some of the courses also had additional challenges.  A few examples were:

-  Ball Envy - After everyone has taken their first shot, switch ball positions with any opponent.

-  In the Way - After your first shot, stand anywhere on the course as an obstacle for an opponent's next shot (one shot only).

-  Topsy Turvy - Use the wrong end of your club to hit the ball on your first shot.

-  Hands On - Use only your hand to hit the ball on your first shot.

-  Runaway Ball - After everyone has taken their first shot, move an opponent's ball anywhere on the hole (must stay in bounds).

-  Against the Clock - You must complete the hole within 10 seconds after your first shot or suffer a 1 stroke penalty.

-  Crane Shot - Attempt your first shot balancing on one leg.

You spun before you played to see what your challenge was:

Here's Kenny after he spun the Crane Shot.  Fun, huh?  :-)

We also had some hole-in-one's!  Kenny got the first one, early on in the game.  UGH.  But we all at least got one, although I think Kyle showed the most enthusiasm for his achievement:

And Delaney managed to lose her golf ball down one of the holes, she did exactly what her brother did -- his went through fine.  But hers was never to be found in again, in fact, we lost another one trying to find hers!  We played the few holes that were left with only two golf balls.  The kids went first, then we did.

The last hole was VERY steep.  You just had to tap it over the edge, and gravity gave you all the speed you needed!  I'm hitting it over the edge in the top picture, and then I'm taking a picture of Kenny hitting his over from the bottom.  It was a ways down!

Good times!!!

Universal pictures to come in our next and last Spring Break post.

Ken, Dani, Dee & Kyle


Monday, April 8, 2013

Kyle's birthday and our Spring Break trip!

Kyle celebrated his 10th birthday the last week of March! There was so much going on with the last week of school before Spring Break and getting ready to go out of town, that he hasn't had his party yet. We just let him open up a few gifts from us and select his own birthday meal. He has to wait until later in April for his birthday party (poor guy!).   But he did get a few goodies, including Rocksmith for his new guitar and a Minecraft shirt (which is his birthday theme, by the way). 

Wowsers, both of our kids are in double digits now... hard to believe!

It didn't seem as if it would ever get here, but if was FINALLY time for Spring Break.  YEAH!!!  We were packed and ready (mostly) for our very long drive to Florida (and warmer weather!).  We left super early Friday morning.  Don't the kids look comfy?!?

We were definitely ready to see warmer temperatures than this:

Unfortunately, we hit a lot of traffic in a few places - especially around the Nashville and Atlanta area.  We played a lot of games: some DS games such as Skip-Bo, Battleship and Mario Kart, as well as other games such as 7 Little Words together (that one Kenny could help us with) and the kids and I read a lot of books!!!

After a late-night crash somewhere outside of Atlanta, we finally made it Saturday evening to our resort.  We were all so ready to get out of the vehicle!!!

The weather was beautiful!  Shorts and sundresses, here we come!  And we even remembered to take a few pictures of our room before we trashed it:

Yes, I do believe that Kyle was excited to be there. And even though we were in Florida, the Easter bunny still figured out where we were and left the kids some goodies:

 And it didn't take long for Kyle to start pestering his sister with his brand new Minecraft pick.  :-)

We have lots more to share from our trip, including miniature golfing, Universal, etc.  More to come!

~Ken, Dani, Dee & Kyle