Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pruning For Fruit Hurt So Good!


Jesus said...
"I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful... Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. This is my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other."

- John 15:1-16


Last week I pruned my berry bushes/vines.
This week I started a study on The Fruit of the Spirit - Cultivating Christlike Character by Stuart Briscoe.

Coincidence?

A popular metaphor about life is describing it in seasons.
I find it interesting that Fall (Fall Harvest) is followed by Winter (no fruit. Everything dies.)
Then comes Spring (life returns/hope) and Summer (Joy! I mean really, what's not to love about Summer?)

It's really not that interesting unless you apply it to the word.
In this case, John 15:2 which says, "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

From Fall (Harvest---> fruit) to Winter (Death--->prune) to Spring (Even more fruit)
And for the fruitless ones... it really doesn't matter what season it is because, well, they're dead.

This makes sense to me as a gardener.
When growing veggies or fruit, I want to encourage the plant so that it will produce as much fruit as it possibly can. I don't want enough for just a snack... I want to eat a snack, bake a pie, then a cobbler, and possibly try my hand at canning goods... also, I want to share the fruit! So, more is more!!

To do this I know I have to cut back the branches (more like sticks) that are dead. What good are they? 
And I recently found out from my Dad that you prune back the branches that bore fruit so that they will produce again.

Hmmmmm.....

My Life Application:

I want to be the best I can be. Cliche? Maybe. Army Slogan? Sure. But it's true.
Who wants to be average?
As humans, we always want more.

I have hit a milestone in my walk with Christ and am coming to the realization that dying to self means living for others... but actually making "living" a verb by putting it into action, not just a thought that I agree with.

Throughout the Bible the reoccurring theme is LOVE. If I take away nothing else from what it has taught me, I hope this rings true in my life:
Love Jesus and Love Others.

Nothing is more heroic or romantic than the idea of this:
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
- John 15:12

It's a tall order. As so is this, 
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
-Matthew 22:27-40

Pretty straight forward, from the lips of Jesus.

I think most of us can see how laying down a life for another is heroic, romantic, beautiful...
but loving your neighbor as yourself?
Sometimes wouldn't you rather die?

I openly admit it doesn't feel so "romantic" or fantasy-like in practice.
Sometimes I think, "Really God? You want me to love on that person?"

Think about the most difficult person to love. 
You know the type.
They are inconsiderate, breathtakingly rude, mean, looking for ways to jab at you, demanding, closed minded, or maybe they don't even acknowledge you..."

Really? You want me to love that "neighbor"?

But then I think...
I've been that person.
If not to others, to God... and He died for me.

{Humbled}

God wants you to love them.
He calls you to it.

The bible describes love as "patient, kind, not envious or boastful or proud. It is not rude, self-seeking, easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers. Love never fails."
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

It is everything good.
Love is fruitful.

Love is a fruit of the Spirit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."
- Galatians 5:22-23

Contrary to the Fruit of the Spirit, the "fruits" of Human Nature are,
"sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like..."
- Galatians 5:20-21

Looking at it that way, if you ask me outright, I would rather have the fruit of the Spirit than those of Human Nature. 

Joy, peace, and kindness vs. hatred, jealousy, and fits of rage?.... I can see where that would be a toughfy!
Then why is it so hard?

The truth is, sin is not only temping, it can be fun too! 
And not all of us are willing to let go of it.
No one becomes an addict because they volunteered to be in chains... 
"...but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire {human nature!}, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth the sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."
-James 1:14-15

Birth to death? That's deep... and deeply sad.
How many of us would voluntarily give birth to death?
How many of us do?
How many times do we start habits or make choices knowing that it will ultimately lead to "death" or something fruitless/selfish/unloving?

Now that's where it gets tough... impossible, really!
Impossible if it were only up to us... if we had to "save ourselves" from our selfish selves.

And that is where we need the vine.
Apart from it, we die... but if we live in Him, we bear fruit.
Because when we live in Him, we live to love and love others... not ourselves.

And when we put others before ourselves, that's true love.

It's not easy, but it's fruitful.
It's uncomfortable and countercultural, but it's the fruit that lasts.

It's a choice.
And I choose to prune!

It's painful (dying to self ain't always fun) but it's good, 
and there's a peace that comes with it that is undeniable. 

Sometimes it's not a choice and the pruning comes to me (that's always fun).
The rug gets pulled out from underneath you and you get (rug) burned (and the wind knocked out of ya).
*Snip!*
Change of direction...change of season...
But even then, there is still a choice.
You can choose life or death... and if you choose life, to be Christ-like, there will always be fruit
That is the promise given to us by the grace of God.
Oh how amazing it is!

***

Oh, also to add to the "more is more" idea with bearing good fruit... I'd like to add the clip they used at the beginning of Brad's sermon this past Sunday at our church.
It's an interview of Tom Brady. 
Brady is searching for the "more" out there (even after accomplishing so much)... check it out.
The sermon kicked butt too! Tune in for the rest!!


It's Part 11 in "The Best Life Ever" series.






Sunday, February 26, 2012

This is What Healthy Looks Like...


We over our 2 week cold!
Yessss! :) Praise Jesus!!

I just wanted to celebrate with a few pictures of What Healthy Looks Like in our Family.

Healthy looks like...

Family walks to the park (yup, even when it's cold out!)


Swinging with Mommy


Play dates with buddies 
(like this cute little guy, Tyler!)



Being a silly monkey on the playground


Saying "Weeee!" while going down the slides.



Climbing everything and anything...


Playing peek-a-boo with the front door






Welcome back, Ethan.
We've missed you!

Getting Ready for Spring

Although is seems likes Spring arrived in early February this year... we are still waiting as Spring hasn't officially Sprung yet!

I know I should wait to buy flowers and plants since it could easily frost any day... and it will... 
But still, it is hard to say "no" to those beautiful flowers popping up in all of the stores.

A new store opened in Folsom called Green Acres.
Ah-mazing!
I literally had an extra hop in my step as I cruised the aisles.
Just dreaming of what could be this Spring-Fall made my heart burst full bloom!

But I have been good... I only bought one thing... well, my mom and dad gifted it to us actually 
(thank you Mom and Dad!!)
A Tulip Tree

Here's a picture of Ethan watering our new tree in his jammies and pirate rain boots


He begs to water it everyday.
Ummm... okay :)



My mom also bought us a bag of Peony Bulbs to plant.
It may not have rained much here, but she sure showered us with blessings!

Side Note:
I have added peonies to the list of my favorite flowers.
Every now and then I drill Mark on my favorite flowers.
Sounds a bit silly and maybe even high maintenance, but it's true.
{Hey, I'm not gonna set up my man for failure :)}
I did this ever since we were married... we would go to markets and flower shops and I would show him which ones were my favorite and then later when we'd pass them, I'd do "informal testing" (as they say in the teaching world) = pointing to flowers and asking what they are.
I know he's no dummie and "being a guy" wouldn't pass by me...
So if you ask him what my favorite flowers are today, he'd say:
Roses, Lilies (Stargazers and Calli lilies), Hydrengias, Tulips, and now, Peonies (although he might not have that one down just yet... it's a new addition)
If you ask him which flowers I hate, he'd say: carnations.
True Story.

Back to Spring Prep...

I planted a TON of bulbs in our barren veggie garden and wine barrels.
I'm a bit nervous about some of them... you see... I planted some bulbs I purchased in the Fall also... think they're still good? We'll find out!

I planted:
Tulips of various kinds
Paper Whites
Peonies
Freesias

Anyway, the point is to have my own flower garden so I can clip fresh flowers for the house
(that is if I can get to them before Ethan...)

Something else I did was finally put up wire along the fence for our berries to climb up.
Last Fall I bought a variety of berry plants and planted them along side the outside fence of our house. 

There is a huge drainage ditch that runs along the side yard so there is little room to plant anything.
My thought? Berry bushes are full/bushy, they add some green, and they are fully functional!
What could be better than picking your own blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, and raspberries?

Mark drilled some bits of wood and screws in along the fence last Fall.
This week, I finally put up the wire, pruned back the plants, and strung 'em up!




While we were sick, my parents came to our rescue and helped with Ethan while we rested up.
While they were here, my dad took a trip to Home Depot and bought me the wire I needed. He also showed me how to prune the plants and clip them back so they bear fruit.
I'm really hoping my "Wager Genes" kick in and I secretly have a green thumb too! :)

Here's a picture of one of our raspberry bushes that bore fruit and needed pruning. You can see the greenery ready for this year's harvest!


I am happy to report - and admittedly a bit surprised - that all our berry bushes survived the year!
I know they're supposed to be hardy plants but... you just never know!
About half of them matured enough to where I could take away the bamboo sticks needed for growth support...



The day I strung up the wire was a particularly warm and sunny day (70 degrees!).
Ethan was down for a nap... I made myself some iced tea, listened to K-LOVE on my iPhone, and got to work! 


This is how the music followed me... in my pocket :)


So... we're getting there!
My hope, wish, and dream would be to make lots of homemade pies, smoothies, and other mouth watering recipes this year (in addition to a fresh and healthy snack).

We'll see what actually happens :)


Young Family's "High-Yah!" Smoothie for Fighting Colds


We are finally kickin' the cold OUT of our house!

*High-Yah!*

Lots of antioxidants are helpful and a great way to get 'em is through a smoothie.
I created a yummy and healthy smoothie that our family loves :)

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup of frozen blueberries
1 cup (or giant handful) of fresh spinach
1 banana (small to medium size)
A handful of fresh strawberries (or frozen will do!)
1/2 cup Pomegranate Limeade (got mine from Trader Joe's)

Throw them all together and blend!
Super easy!!


If your kid (or spouse) is a picky eater, you can't taste the spinach... just berry goodness!


We're drinking to good health! :)
Hope you all are staying healthy... either way, Happy Blending!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

St. Patty's Day Fun



We're going green!
Well... kinda.


Saint Patrick's Day is coming up!

We have been watching lots of VeggieTales at our house. 
2 weeks of all 3 of us being sick = lots of TV shows.

A new favorite of Ethan's is "Sumo of the Opera"
He'll request it by saying, "Sumo Show? Eye-Yahh!"
The message of the show is to never give up... perseverance.

Just before the main show, however, they show a short story about Saint Patrick.
Who Saint Patrick is... what he did... why he's important...

One very cool lesson I learned is that he introduced God to the people of Ireland by using Shamrocks.
He said that God is like a shamrock, 3 persons in one...
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Great Metaphor! Great Visual! And I love visuals...


So I made this.
I already had everything I needed to make it 
{Yeay for free projects!}

The frame I originally bought for a bridal shower... reused it.
The scrapbook paper I already had (I've come to collect quite a bit over the years...)
I drew the shamrock free hand (don't stare at it for too long...)
Wrote everything out (instead of typing it) and tore the edges.
Voila!


The plant arrangement came from our backyard... evergreens are about the only thing alive these days.
(What can I say, beggars can't be choosers... but it's green) 
so - it works!

I wrapped some twine around the bunch and stuck 'em in a vase.
Done.



And finally... the big expense... our brand spankin' new Shamrock Banner.


Dollar Tree is selling a pack of 12 foam shamrocks... big spender here bought 2 packs ;)
I hole punched the shamrocks, strung 'em up with ribbon I already had...
2 banners for $2.



Second banner across iron work


Shamrock Hunt... this is something I totally made up and you (as a non-2-year-old) can totally tell !
I used an old Huggies Wipe Container as our collection box.
Also, it's green :)

I found 2 clovers in the backyard and taped them to the front with packaging tape but backed 'em with white paper first.
(It's good for Ethan to see what it is he's looking for...)



Let the search begin!



The hunt was a success!
We counted 8 total!

Ethan liked watching me count each one and also liked saying "six" over and over.
Eh... we'll get there :)

Is anyone else "going green" or is it just me?
I am going stir crazy being house ridden and sick!
Could use a 4 leaf clover, myself ;)




Thursday, February 16, 2012

Love. Sick. Remedy.

LOVE.

We're half way into the month of February and I can definitely say it has been the most unromantic month of the year. Yeah, it's only the 2nd month of the year and... I know... half way through means it's not over yet... and luckily for February, in the year 2012, there are 29 days... but still. I'm pretty sure it'll take the cake.

Mark and I made plans to get away... just the 2 of us... Valentine's Day Weekend. Saturday morning we were to pack up, drive Ethan to my parent's, and then drive off to Napa until Tuesday.

Well, Saturday morning, Mark got up with Ethan (Saturdays are his mornings with E so I can sleep in... he's a pretty great Hubby/Daddy!). I woke up around 9. Showered. Got Dressed (in a cute outfit!). Put on my make-up (...a big deal). Walked down stairs and I see Ethan lying on Mark. They are on the floor sitting ontop of a towel and Mark says to me, "This boy is sick."

Dreams crushed. To be totally honest I was hoping to hear something like, "Wow Babe, you look great! Let's go!" Yeah, dreaming for sure!!

The next sentence that came out of his lips was, "He's thrown-up 5 times in the past 2 hours. He took 2 baths and threw-up in the first."

Ethan at this point sees me and says "Mommy's here..." and walks over to lay on me.

My mind switches from Fantasy Weekend to Mommy Mode and I think, "Poor Baby."

Taking in the surprise circumstances, I paused and stared in awe of my super husband.
If it were me I would have woken up Mark and made him help.
Oh, but I would have been nice about it... "Would you like to watch your son in the bath tub or strip the soiled sheets?"
But no... not Mark... he handled it all on his own.

Okay, so that was a little romantic... in a super practical way.

We canceled our weekend and thought... "Okay, we'll just stay home and make a special fondue dinner for 2 on V-Day."
Ethan really needs his Mommy and Daddy...

Well... that night, Mark woke up every other hour to hug the toilet.

Ethan and I, on the other hand, were great! We took a field trip to Nugget Market the next morning, shopped for the week, and even got Daddy a balloon that said, "True Love" (because "we" are learning True Love is looking out for others - Veggietales Pie Wars Lesson... i.e.: we are showing Daddy that we will take care of him).

Okay, maybe that could be romantic in another practical way.

To jumpstart my act of "true love", I put all the ingredients in the crock pot required to make minestrone soup and then... I lost it. Head in the sink.

Yeah... we were all toast (in a super unappetizing way)... but hey, dinner would be ready ;)

The next 3 days we all took turns (Praise God!) being violently ill. We were able to take care of each other when we were on the off-wave of nausea.

Even Ethan took a turn. I faintly remember waking up, while napping on his big bear on the floor, to him putting a Gatorade bottle to my lips and saying, "Mommy's Juice". Sweet baby...

On February 14th instead of Plan B, a fondue dinner, we all had left over soup.

Let's fast forward to today.
(The real motivation for writing this post)

SICK.

Our house is mainly cured from the flu (thanks for nothin' flu shots!), but Ethan still has a lingering cold.
Runny nose, cough, fever, and... of course... breathing issues...

After getting a slow start this morning, I took Ethan to get some more infants' Tylenol.
That, and I needed to return some things at Michael's Crafts (why not? we're out anyway, right??)
Here's how the day went down...

  • Ethan had his morning bath in our tub which meant I put on make-up for the first time since Saturday (bonus point!). After E was toweled off and dressed, we hopped in the car.

  • Once we got to the Michael's parking lot, I look back at the boy and he is asleep. Darn! What I should have done and what I actually did are two very different things (unfortunately).

  • I got out of the car, flipped his stroller out, reclined the seat back all the way, and transferred him (-1 points). ---> Hey, I've been house ridden for days!
  • I quickly got in line to return my items as Ethan - who did not stay asleep - ate some snacks (+1)
  • Luckily, there was only one person at the register (?!) and we were 3rd in line, so Ethan got bored of sitting (-1). My "sick" boy ran in and out of the store's automatic doors in between reaching for the "impulse candy" (-2).
  • Finally, after 8-10 minutes, I got to return $47 to my credit card (+1... although Mark would say it's worth more points...) and when I tried to pay for the candy Ethan tried to eat through the wrapper (-1) the lady insisted that it was "just damaged merchandise"(+1).
  • Now onto Costco. Ethan was in high spirits talking about "pizza pies" and playing with the umbrella we keep in the car. We actually rolled into Costco with a fully opened umbrella and a huge smile on my toddler's face (+1... the smile trumps all).
  • We cruised the aisles collecting samples and crossing off items on my grocery list - Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Starbucks K-Cups, Soap, and even a fun Adidas windbreaker outfit for E in addition to Infants' Tylenol. (+1) 
  • I added something to the cart that I usually pass up every time Costco samples it... Hoodia. The 2 ladies that were promoting it said, "You can work 9-5, come home and cook dinner, play with the kids, and even have enough energy to please your husband." (no joke). I said, "Really? I'll take 2!" (still not joking). But I really only took 1. (Still wondering if this is a +/-). Free sample (always +1).
  • After checking out, we stopped at the eatery to get our "pizza pie" and Mommy a diet coke. I asked E if he wanted some. He took a piece of sausage, ate it, then refused anymore. He started coughing so I asked him if he wanted some juice. He drank some. He didn't look so great though, so I figured the pizza was "to go". Ooooh was I right on! Seconds later Ethan full out lost it and everything else he consumed for all to see (did I mention this was prime lunch time, so the eatery was packed. I bet they were all happy they chose Costco for lunch today!). Poor baby (-1).
  • This wasn't a quick and easy process. Nooo. I was literally standing there catching puke in front of spectators and grabbing for napkins as it kept comin'. (-1)
  • I was so worried that Ethan would get embarrassed and kept trying to encourage him by saying, "It's okay sweet boy... it's okay...". Magically, napkins kept appearing in our shopping cart as out of the corner of my eye I saw people dropping them off. (+1)
  • After the excitement, Ethan sobbed as I stripped him down to his diaper and socks. I also took off my sweatshirt so we both weren't covered in it. During this time, I must have had at least 3 people stop and say, "Can I help you? Is there anything I can do? Poor guy..." (+1)
  • Ethan, once out of the shopping cart and nearly naked, was on a post-barf high (+1) which means he was smiling and... running around the store dancing. Remember - diaper and socks. (-1)
  • Thank you God for the impulse Adidas purchase minutes before! Turns out I didn't pack E extra clothes so he wore his brand new outfit out of the store (+1).
  • I was pretty fast at cleaning up... I used napkins, wipes, and the girls working the eatery gave me a trash bag to put our clothes in. Thankfully none of it got on our food and you couldn't even tell the damage had been done by the time we left (+1).
REMEDY.

"A glass of wine kind-of-a-night" probably wouldn't touch today as today was one of many like it this week (just more public). When Ethan went down for his nap... #1, I took a shower. It's amazing what a warm, long, peaceful shower will do. It literally helped wash away the day... and my make-up. Oh well. No use in covering up anything today!

In my head I started to justify my "Me Time". I had spent every nap/ "me time" this week doing endless laundry for our sick household... but today... today was going to be different! I really thought about it... what makes me happy? Being creative, trying new things, and... baking! Also, the outcome of baking ain't bad either.

I logged onto Pinterest and made these incredible cookies. Also, in addition to baking, I made myself a cup of coffee and turned on Glee... my go-to "guilty pleasure".

One of the episodes I watched had a Madonna theme where the cast performed a handful of her songs including, "4 Minutes" (with Mr. Timberlake). I couldn't help but smile because this was one of the songs I would listen to on my iPod as I worked out at the gym when living in Boston. Just listening to the song gave me endorphins as it brought me back to my care-free days when I could workout and leave the kids in the classroom... ahhh pre-parenthood!... after catching myself living in that memory, I smiled even bigger at the realization that I now get my "endorphins" fantasizing about working out. Making cookies and eating them has taken it's place.

Is this what it's like to "let go" of yourself? 

If it is... today I don't care.

I just baked 4 dozen Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies and I feel great!!

This is the Remedy!

... or do you think it's my sample of Hoodia that just kicked in?

Going to Costco Under Cover...


The Remedy.










Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's a Veggietales P-arrrrrr-ty!

Look who's 2!!


At 2 years old, Ethan is more partial to things than he was at 1. 
(like how I snuck a Frog Prince Party in there?... I mean really, he'll never choose it!)

And if there's one thing Ethan loves, it's Veggietales... more specifically, the Veggie movie 

"The Pirates That Don't Do Anything"

Since it's difficult to find anything Veggietales unless you're in a specialty or Christian store, I had to create a lot of things on my own.

To get ideas, I searched "Pirate Boy Birthday Party" on etsy.
Lots of cute things out there!!
{side note... I typed in "veggietales birthday party... nothin'.}

I loved the banners with red and white stripes. 
I saw a few banners that said "p-arrrrrr-ty!" Loved it.
Cupcake toppers... a must!

Hmmm... to the drawing board!

I purchased the software program Memory Mixer and I love it!! It was pretty reasonable... around $30. 
It reminds me of Microsoft Picture It (discontinued)... very user friendly :)

Everything I used to make the invites I already had lying around the house including the black card stock paper, ribbon/twine, and photo paper to print. 
*Hubby was very pleased*

Here is the invitation I created:
(I smudged any personal info...)



I used pictures from the Pirate Movie.
I wanted to try and keep the pirate theme very G rated (they are 2 after all!)
So.. I tried to keep skull and cross bones to a minimum.
You can see the pirate hat in the Veggie movie is a P with a silverware X.


This is something I want to do with all our kids for every birthday... incorporate giving into the party.
Kids get a pile of presents... I think it's important to think about others. Especially those who go without.
This year, we asked friends to bring some canned goods for the Twin Lakes Food Bank.
Of course it will always be a stretch for Mommy to create a clever "teachable" lesson that goes along with all the party themes in the future. Because it was "pirates" this time around, we promised they would "find the greatest treasure of all".


I had to make my own envelopes because the invitations were square.
I've tried to figure this out on my own before... the envelopes looked horrid.... so this time I looked it up on youtube. No point in reinventing the wheel!


Now for the party!

I ordered all VeggieTales stuff from veggietales.com including these posters:


We put a card table out to collect the canned goods with these 3 signs:

The following is Matthew 6:21 PIV (Pirate International Version ;)... told you it's a stretch! )



Lesson learned in the VeggieTales show "Lyle the Kindly Viking"



I made this banner with Memory Mixer too.
All the ribbon was from Michael's Crafts.


Posters everywhere!



Because Ethan has a February birthday, I'm always planning on the worst in regards to weather and therefore, am always thinking of things to do with kids indoors.
This year, considering the age group... we made a balloon pit!

We took all the furniture out of our dining room, blew up over a hundred balloons (well, my Dad and Mark did...), "boarded up" the room with streamers, and tried to hide it all with butcher paper (so Ethan wouldn't get into it ahead of time).

Here's what it looked like...




Garland and sign made with my cricut.


The pirates picture was from the cardboard box his pirate ship came in (Christmas present).
I knew his birthday would be this theme so I saved it and cut it out!


"p-arrrrrr-ty!"





Favor bags


We lucked out.... again! 
2nd birthday party with lots of sunshine.
God is so good!!... knows how to bless our outdoorsy boy! :)

Grandma brought the bubble machine!


Ethan and buddy Ty-Ty had lots of fun playing catch...


Mark is in the process of putting up a pergola over Nike (statue).
Until that day... the brackets were great for holding balloons!


I found this pirate hat piñata at Target


Ashley showing us all how to throw a football...


"I caught it Daddy... see?"
- Ty to his Daddy
(Or at least this is what the picture says to me!)


Tyler was the first friend to arrive so he was the victim to my camera... he's too cute to resist snapping!



The snack spread


Unlike last year, I tried to buy everything pre-made...
So, veggies = store bought platter transferred onto my own platters (sneaky, sneaky!)



Blueberries... all I had to do was rinse and pour...


Costco bag of fish... poured into a clear vase


I made the food place cards out of leftover paper from the banners.
Each card referenced a VeggieTales show...


Another rinse and pour - grapes



Cupcake toppers made with the Memory Mixer.
My 2" hole puncher was one of my best investments for 2011... even if it was under $10 with coupon!


Here is the pirate ship Ethan got for Christmas and his #2 candle for his...


Birthday Cake!
I ordered this from Nugget Market... they've got skills! 


The cake below is where I got the inspiration from. 
I emailed them this pic and gave them the 3 veggie pirates to stick on top.
Pretty close!


We ordered pizza that was delivered = secrets to an easy, care-free party!
Plus, pizza is one of Ethan's favorites!
The food tag for this one said, "An Eye For a Pizza Pie"


Drinking green Naked juice... another favorite of his...


Bubbles, Bubbles...


Cute Ty...



... and More Bubbles with Grandpa!



Time to round up the kiddos for the balloon pit!


Butcher paper down...
Get on your mark, get set...


Go!!!








Spectators...








Static!


Balloon bed


Emma's balloon followed her to the kitchen...




Balloons clung to the walls



Scene of the crime...


Outdoor play


Piñata
Ethan's newest buddy, Ollie... up to bat!


Love Emma's expression here :)


Ty's turn!


Birthday Boy...


We rotated in a "big kid", Scotty, hoping to make a dent...




Down it went!


What was inside? Play dough, Bouncy Balls, and Rings...


Time to sing Happy Birthday!
Ethan got to share a seat with his favorite buddy!


After we all sang, we clapped... but I didn't bring out the cake... Ethan started blowing at nothing. He clearly knows what's supposed to happen next...


Re-do! This time, he'll get to blow his candle out!

Ethan waiting patiently...



Emma sat with cousin Ty-Ty...


Making it right!




"Now I can get up!"


Presents!


The hit of the party. Ethan's first foam swords from Grandma and Grandpa Young!
Ooooooh boy!



One for me, one for Daddy.




Grandma and Grandpa Wager got Ethan a double wagon.
It served as a boat for the party :)


Cake!
I made cupcakes (chocolate and yellow) in case Red Velvet wasn't a favorite... 


The special card Auntie Lori made for Captain Ethan!


Ethan is still not very interested in opening gifts.
Good thing he had lots of helpers!! (no seriously... Christmas was like pulling teeth!)


"Efan" and "Awe-we"
Ethan and Ollie



Auntie JoJo got Ethan a trike!
Lots of fun ahead if this weather keeps up!


Family picture



Grandma and Grandpa Young


Grandma and Grandpa Wager


Ethan's cupcake!



Uncle Marc made a good point... he was downgraded from his smash cake last year.



Uncle Marc and Daddy trying to get some wheels on the "boat"


Ollie... soccer star!


What to do with all these balloons?


Uncle Marc knows! 
Dive in!!



"Wooooah!"


Friends :)


I know it's cliche, but so true!
All Because Two People Fell In Love...
{first comes love, then comes marriage...}


Speaking of marriage... Uncle Kevin and Auntie Jocelyn are next!


Auntie JoJo


Auntie Lori


Fun, full party = much deserved nap!
"Bye-Bye"
Blowing kisses...


Naptime was perfect as it gave us time to hang out with friends and clean-up!
When Ethan woke up, he snuggled with Grandma and Grandpa Wager
{Grandma and Grandpa Young scooted off to cousin Andrew's birthday!}


Here is a fun video re-cap I made of E's party.

Playing with his new, fun toys days later!


Sweet kisses



The centerpiece I made from Costco flowers for the party.
The sticks started to bloom!!!


We left the balloon pit for several days so Ethan could play longer...
Here he is buried...





Such a good Daddy...



Ethan the Brave!


We made out good! Collected quite a bit of food...


Here is a video clip my mom took of Ethan the Brave battling hunger!
(Notice the sword in his left hand)

video

On Ethan's real birthday, Grandma Wager came out to spend the day with us.
While Daddy was at work we took a field trip to the Twin Lakes Food Bank to deliver the goods...



We had too much food and our bag broke (great problem!)
Here is Ethan transferring...


Aren't you going to help, Mommy?



After we wheeled the food over to the collection area, Ethan ran up and down the ramp... over and over.
I said, "Ethan, it's time to go..." and still, Ethan ran up and down the ramp.
This man who was collecting food said, "He's having too much fun, Mommy! Such a curious boy!"

True. True :)
If I wasn't chasing Ethan around, I would have loved to have chatted a while longer.
He was kind and humble... reflection of Jesus for sure!


We'll be back soon!!


Next we checked out the new Sacramento Children's Museum


Jumbo Light Bright


Grandma was the official ball retriever and ball assistant


Gears!


Tube fun! Balls and handkerchiefs went flying once they were sucked in...




Water Boy



Painting the window...


After our museum fun we went back to the hills and drove though McDonalds to make our birthday boy happy! Chicken Nugget Happy Meal :)

We ate lunch at the new Sellands... more Mommy & Grandma's style...

All of us had a happy meal in the warm sunshine :)



When we got home, Ethan was ready for his nap.
Not without his prized possession, however.
{Good thing Grandma got him a foam sword!}


Ethan woke-up not too long before Daddy got home but just before Grandma left.

At home we ate dinner, sang Happy Birthday once again (he got to blow out another candle!), and watched a very special show... Oceans by Disney Nature.
Ethan loved seeing all the fish, eating "ka-corn" (popcorn), and sitting on Daddy's lap.


So that's it!
While I know Ethan had a lot of fun, I know all of this will sink in a little more on his 3rd birthday.
Until then, we are enjoying every second with our 2 year old boy!