Tag Archives: Birthday

Elise turns Three

I owe Elise a birthday letter. It has been spinning around in my head the past week or so, but I just haven’t gotten pen to paper fingers to the keyboard yet.

What I am ready to do is share a few photos of how we celebrated her birthday.

Staying true to our Staycation Vacation we loaded up and went to the Mall of America, which still gives me pause every time we go there. We probably go to the MOA three times a year and every time I think about how the MOA was a huge family vacation for my family growing up. I love that living in a ‘burb of the Twin Cities means having access to so many different things and none of those adventures or opportunities are more than 40 minutes away. This is why Tim and I both feel that the Twin Cities is a great place to stay put for a vacation, especially with young kids.


But I digress. This was supposed to be a post about Elise, so I will share a few pics of her after these next two pics of Michael and Patrick who were thrilled to celebrate Elise’s birthday amidst the screams, bright colors and fast rides of Nickelodeon’s Universe.

Because it was Elise’s birthday we said “Yes!” to more things than we normally would like unlimited ride passes for Tim and the boys

and facepainting





Of course the Birthday Princess got her face painted too. You will never guess what color she chose.


Pink and glitter. Perfect for our 3 year old.


This struck me as like an arrow to the heart. In 13 years she will be doing this for real!


Elise was a trooper on the rides. She went on every one that she was tall enough for that the boys went on, including the log ride. She had a blast, but after lunch it was time for the girls and the boys to go their own directions because we had some serious shopping to do.

Beth was with and let Elise pick out her own birthday gift among a rack of dance clothes. Elise wants nothing more than to go to “Ballerina Class.” When she isn’t twirling or pretending to be a ballerina she is reading books or watching shows about ballerinas. Elise picked out a pair of pink ballet looking slippers and a pink tutu as her gift from Auntie Buffy and I bought her a few leotards that she will be able to wear when she puts on recitals on the living room rug and when she starts dance class this fall.

The next stop after ballerina land is what I was anticipating the most. I don’t know why, maybe I think it is a right of passage or something, but I really couldn’t wait to take her to the American Girl store to buy her her first AG dolls.

The only age appropriate choices with hair were the Bitty Twins so Elise lucked into getting two dolls, because the American Girl Company are marketing geniuses and force you to buy two dolls (twins) in order to get the 3 year old age appropriate dolls. She chose a blonde and brunette (yes I helped a bit. I will admit it.)

She absolutely loves that the dolls “sleep” when they lay down. She has never had a doll that closed its eyes and she was infatuated with the dolls eye lashes too. I bet those dolls have had 1,200 naps since they have been in Elise’s care.


Look at my little shopper. Tim is in trouble… Elise and I are growing into quite the shopping companions. (I made the birthday ‘3’ t-shirt and the matching circle skirt)


I thought the skirt was adorable but she really prefers a tutu.


Since Beth was with we were able to attempt a family photo. Here is me getting everyone ready for the photo (Beth knows when it comes to photography our family you don’t stop clicking.) notice me counting with my fingers. I am pretty sure I am whisper scolding, “Get over here and stand nicely in 3… 2… MICHAEL DONOVAN… 2… 1!”


And here we are. Happy family on Elise’s 3rd birthday. Nothing says love like a forced family photo op.


Of course we had cake and since Tim was on cake duty (that makes two days in a row of cake duty) he opted for the 2 in 1 ice cream cake combo.


And to finish the day Elise got to choose the movie we watched while we indulged on the 4th cake our family had eaten in the month of July. It is a horrible photo but any girl born in the 80’s would recognize that screenshot in an instant. I love that I can share my favorite childhood movie with my daughter.


Our sweet baby girl is three.

Michael’s 7th Birthday Party

This is his first ever party where we have invited friends. I know. We are horrible parents for not doing this sooner, but the stressed induced migraine I had the morning of the party is the reason we have been putting this off for so long.

When we first started brainstorming the party, I had this elaborate plan of setting up a summer Olympics like event in the backyard with different challenges like filling buckets with squirt guns, obstacle courses, sandcastle challenges, cannon balls in the swimming pool and water balloon “dodge-ball.”

I loved this idea and think it would be so much fun, but to pull it off would have taken a lot of planning, prep and execution and we still had a contractor in our house and a 5 day trip to Minot planned, so we will have to save that idea for another time. Tim was very happy this idea was put on the back burner. I think he would prefer it to be scraped completely!

We decided a home birthday party was not feasible so we started looking for venues. We ended up choosing Sky Zone. For just under $200 we were able to buy a package for 11 people to jump for 1 hour (any more than an hour and we all would have started dropping like flies) we got two pizzas, soda/juice, MIchael got a t-shirt, we had a private room for 40 minutes and Michael got two free passes to jump for an hour at another time. The best part was that there was no pre or post party clean up. Win win all around.

This party was so easy that I don’t know why I was stressed. The guests had an absolute blast and Michael was having “THE BEST DAY EVER!”

The place was awesome. There were two dodge-ball tramp “courts”, A HUGE area for jumping, a basketball dunking area and then the favorite – the foam pit where kids (and Tim) took turns flipping into a big pit of foam blocks.


I also had big plans of taking awesome photos of the party. Ones where Michael was frozen in the air with a big goofy grin on his face or a photo of Elise bouncing high with her hair straight up in the air or a photo of PJ jumping into the pile of foam blocks with his signature swagger.

That didn’t happen. I took about 6 photos with my big camera and decided it wasn’t worth it. I wanted Michael and my memories of this party to be of me jumping with him not just taking photos. I took a lot of phone pics instead. All are out of focus but they capture what was going on; movement and lots of fun doing it.

I made a Skylanders Portal cake and it was a hit. It didn’t taste so good (Tim thought it was fine but there was way too much frosting for my taste) but it looked awesome.


Here is Michael putting on his 7 birthday candles.

They ate pizza, cake and then opened presents.

What I was most stressed about was the time that would be spent in this room. It was 40 minutes long and I was worried about the “dead time” after pizza, cake and gifts. The last thing I wanted to deal with was 7 physically exhausted boys that were on a sugar high. Seven is old enough that you can expect good behavior but still young enough that meltdowns can happen pretty easily.

I made a Skylanders Bingo game to kill the time but Sky Zone has this party thing down to a science. Just as we were finishing up gifts and Michael was handing out gift bags parents started to show up. Tim was right. Nothing to be worried about. The bill was paid and we were loaded up in the car 5 minutes after the last kid was picked up. So worth every penny spent on the party. Again – NO CLEAN UP!

I am so happy we went through with the friends party. Michael had so much fun and it was so wonderful to see him playing with his friends. Summer birthdays are tough (I should know!) because families are so busy during the summer it is hard to round up enough friends for a party. This wasn’t a huge birthday party but the kids had so much fun that I don’t think it mattered.

Michael is already planning his party for next year!

To Michael on your Seventh Birthday

My first baby is seven. Today you turn seven!

I cannot believe that seven (SEVEN!) year ago we were living in a small 900 square foot apartment in Bismarck, ND and we were just meeting you for the first time. You changed everything. I think Lucy still resents you a little for stealing her thunder! You have been the most wonderful blessing and have taught your Dad and I so much. We have grown up watching you grow up.

Michael this past year you have shown us that no matter how you are hard-wired, you are capable of reaching out to others and offering them a helping hand, a high-five to cheer someone on, a hug to show love, and my favorite, a protective and watchful eye to keep your brother and sister safe. These acts of kindness make both your father and me beam with pride and say, “That is our boy.”

This past year you conquered kindergarten and you were one of the top readers in your class. You can count money and tell time. Your ability to calculate numbers is astounding and your persistence when learning to read is inspiring. You also rock at video games. You and computers are a great match – just like your Daddy.

This year you have shown us how brave and adventurous you can be. You are trying new things all the time. They may seem small to some but I know what it takes for you to try that bite of hotdish. I see you eye that casserole dish with everything mashed together and cooked at 375 degrees for 30 minutes with mix of fear and skepticism.  To you, hotdish is an overwhelming assault to your senses and this year you have tried almost everyone I have scooped onto your plate. I appreciate you making the effort and your attempt at sparing my feelings when you kindly tell me, “I don’t like it.”

I think one of the qualities I admire most about you is your need to learn and your (never-ending) thoughtful questions. Your mind never ceases to amaze me. You may not be right all the time but your logic and thought process are always flawless. You never miss a step or make sweeping imaginative guesses. When it comes time for you to “show your work” at school I bet you will blow your teachers’ minds on a daily basis. It is hard to acknowledge and admit being wrong when you so thoughtfully come to a conclusion but because you are so interested in learning you are always open to hearing another argument and then tweaking your theories. That, my boy, is something many adults are not able to do. I hope you always have that quality because it will take you far in life.

Ok, ok. enough about your brain… how about a little bit about how you have grown physically this year?! You are so tall and you are really coming into your own. All of us, especially Papa and Auntie Buff, are so amazed at your throwing arm. I think baseball could really be your sport (I know your Dad is reading this right now thinking, “Why the hell does he need a sport?” Just relax Tim, he will always be leveling up in video games like a rock star so a little baseball on the side won’t hurt his rise to video game prodigy one bit!) You love playing catch and you have some surprising skill when it comes to hitting too!

This year also marks the official age where you have proven that you are more coordinated than either of your parents. You can now cart-wheel (which I have NEVER been able to do) and do flips on the tramp. I can’t wait for this weekend to see you with your friends at your trampoline birthday party!

Michael you are seven. That is just three short years from being 10. You will be a first grader this year which is just 11 grades away from graduating highschool. Today we went to the movies as a family to celebrate you. I am going to quote that movie now because it best expresses how I am feeling right now, “Never grow up.”

On second thought… I am excited to see what Michael the seven-year old is like. Bring it on kid.