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Finn Turns 3!!

2017 November 1
by Becky

Finns Turns 3 Volcano Cake Gazing

Finn turned three!! Last Saturday was a gorgeous fall day and we couldn’t wait to celebrate the big guy’s birthday with our out of town visitors—my parents and my aunt and uncle. And…a couple of his little buddies! That’s right, for three months I assumed we’d just do a family party since we’re so new to town, but low and behold Finn has made some friends at preschool and they were very excited to join us for some cake! Volcano cake, to be exact.

That’s right, Finn’s only request for his birthday party was a volcano cake because he is totally obsessed with volcanoes. I’m not sure how it started, but I do know I’ve been asked to tell him volcano stories and sing volcano songs for months now, and any mound of anything he sees (rice, cereal, rocks, asphalt from the construction work outside) reminds him of a volcano. Oh, and he thinks volcanoes eat hot dogs and knows the biggest one (on earth) is in Hawaii. He would like to go to Hawaii soon to check it out. (Me too kid, me too)


Anyway, I figured I could oblige the volcano request with an amazing cake (which I very much enjoyed planning and making) and a couple fun volcano activities. Funny how the second kid has totally different priorities. Finn just asked for cake, while Ethan always wanted the “activities”. School bus, construction, Rescue Bots, dinosaurs…he loved the themed parties and got so excited about every detail, which made planning and making every detail so much fun.

Right now, I’m appreciating the simple requests.

So I cooked up a cake and an easy paper mache volcano (Finn helped with that one) and the day of the party, all we had to do was get Finn out of his Captain Underpants costume and into something a little more appropriate before his guests arrived.


Finn was pumped! It was really exciting to see him have connections with friends, maybe the first real ones he’s had in his three little years. Since it was beautiful outside we partied in the back yard, my favorite kind of party. Spill your hearts out kids.


The kids were REALLY excited about helping me make the volcano erupt. They took turns pouring baking soda into the “vent” and I had the honor of pouring the vinegar…it was a big moment!!

Until it failed.


Ethan and I had tested it all out, we were ready, but our mixture just wasn’t big enough to overflow our vessel. FAIL!!! OMG I was so disappointed. I gave up pretty quick but Ethan was determined, taking over as scientist to make it work. The little kids had a really good time inspecting the volcano and dumping in more baking soda but nothing did the job…it was a dud.

After everyone left, in an act of total frustration, I shoved some saran wrap a few inches into the vent and we had ourselves an eruption. Ethan and Finn took turns mixing and at the end of the day I was adding baking soda and vinegar—white and apple cider—to my shopping list.


So that was it! A tiny party that was tons of fun and made the new age official. That night we opened presents, the winner being a marble run set from the Lakeshore Learning catalog. I always leave that one around for the boys to flip through, just to see what they think is really cool. This set kept them all excited and I knew it would be something they could share.

Turns out we ALL loved putting huge marble mazes together! This particular set gets two thumbs up from our family, it’s really fun figuring out the most impressive way to get those marbles down to the bottom and is a great deal. Finn hasn’t started to build much on his own yet, but he totally gets the concept and I’m sure will be putting together his own creations soon.


So that’s Finn’s birthday! No personalized garments or special vehicles involved, just family and friends and sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I love a challenge with a list of projects that keep my evenings full for a couple months, but this was really refreshing and a welcome change. Finn is happy! And he’s three. It never gets easier to believe.

(I’ll be posting more info about the cake next week…it was really fun to make and totally delicious! The flame suckers were homemade too and super easy.)

Living In The Construction Zone

2017 October 9
by Becky

I’ve eluded to a few house projects we’ve had going on lately, but the level of the construction surrounding our every day life is kind of ridiculous…things here have been loud and messy. We decided to forgo the waiting period, jumping right into the work we wanted done. We won’t be saying “Oh we wish we would have done this sooner!!!”, not this time. No way.

So first up was some pre-planned brick work done as soon as possible.



We hosted a master brick crew for about a week of drilling, scraping, anchoring, and giant-ceiling-hole-cutting. The hole was just a bit bigger than we anticipated…


Shockingly, this giant hole wasn’t what bothered us the most. The brick work was enjoyable compared to the month-long gas line project we never knew would happen. Right in front of our house.


We knew there was trouble when we noticed the “pretty colors” painted all over the street. Good thing Finn is a flexible sleeper, because every day involves a different napping situation to avoid noise and vibrations coming from the drilling and digging going on 10 feet from our front door. Sometimes there are three dump trucks and two backhoes right outside the front windows. There have been times our whole house felt like it was moving! The already limited parking is shut down every day till 3:30, which scared us to death, but turned out to be not all that bad. I just cannot wait till its over!!

I’ve distracted myself from the construction (and daily news reports) by removing wallpaper and painting the kids room. They’ve chosen a space theme, it’s going to be great. I’ve got some artwork to hang and a few finishing touches before sharing more, but here’s a peek…


And this weekend we had the windows cleaned, something I was waiting to do until after the brick dust had settled and didn’t think would be a big deal, but it ended up taking two whole days. Our windows were SO dirty, the extremely patient and thorough gentleman with many years of window cleaning experience said he’d never seen such filth. Now that they are done, we have 10 times more sunshine lighting up our house…best money we’ve spent so far. I walk around singing, “I can see clearly now…” all day.

PSA: Have your windows cleaned!!!!!


Final project of the month, the back fence. It was extremely flimsy when we moved in and managed to start falling down a couple weeks ago. The old brick wall running across the back of our yard made it tough for a normal human-size person to fit through the back gate, especially when carrying a bin of recycling, so we asked our brick guys to use their giant scary saw to cut it back a bit. More noise, more destruction, more mess. But progress. The new fence goes up this week and will be a drastic improvement.


It’s weird having all these non-diy-able things done around the house, maybe that’s why it was easy for me to get going on the kids’ penthouse suite so soon. I needed to get my hands on something!! Next on my list of things to do myself: the living room walls. They need some paint to make the pretty pretty molding pop.

Next huge mess? The third floor bathroom. It gets gutted next week and we can’t wait to see every inch of it go bye-bye. Yet another project that was hard to let go, but we decided it made sense to hire the whole thing out. Honestly, getting all the demo down the three flights of steps alone is almost worth the extra cost. I’m committing to shooting lots of gross befores (let I forget as usual) in all the leaky-moldy-nasty-grouty glory so the afters are even more fun.

Stu keeps saying things like, “Well at least the worst part is over!” but I know better. These bathroom remodels are going to be yucky. Wish us luck.