Saturday, March 16, 2024

Turning Eleven

For her 11th birthday, our girl decided that she was finally ready for a full-room overhaul!  So that we weren't cramming everything into just a few days, we opted to do some of the prepping ahead of her birthday.  In the weeks leading up to her birthday, with the perfect shade of teal chosen, this team got to work.  Of course, with a change in paint came the need to get some new painting skills from Dad.  While I looked on and photographed, I couldn't help but notice those letters of her name that had stayed since the very beginning - and wonder if they would remain this time.

After long days at work, this duo spent two nights putting in all the details to finish the job.  Of course, they still made time for fun in the mix.  It was neat to see them make light of the work together and have our girl repeatedly claim when it was done, "Guess what?!? My room is TEAL!"

The next planning step was the cake.  Several months ago, one of our favorite Emma adorers sent me a message with a panda cake and said, "Show Emma!!  I thought of her immediately!" (a common occurrence in our lives at this point).  As soon as Emma saw it, she was sold.  For those that might have missed it, last year's science experiment in chemistry was to bake a cake - the week of Emma's birthday!  So she and Dad baked her very first cake and it went over so well, I think we'll have homemade Emma cakes for as long as she'll let us.

The inspiration from Pinterest wasn't exactly to our girl's vision because she thinks pandas playing in snow are the absolute cutest thing.  So, snow decor requires things like white icing, coconut shreds, and some bamboo cookies to cap off the details.

One super fun detail was finishing up a conversation online with a friend while the decorating took place!

The next day was party day.  We started the day with some extra exciting party accessories to make the birthday girl's time amazing.  Since our family has continued to be cautious with COVID, we have built an incredible network of friends online.  With one of Emma's closest friends having moved to Wisconsin last year, she wanted to have her party online.  She did an absolutely amazing job planning it all out, including a slideshow of games!  We sent out care packages for the guests to have because what's a birthday without goodies?  With a few added touches, her room was party-ready and things kicked off.

After party games of hot panda, pin the bamboo on the panda, and some sweet drawing fun done by our favorite 11-year-old artist, it was time for cake and presents.  If ever you decide to celebrate with family from across the globe, know that mug cakes make the perfect celebration treat and my girl will happily share her tips with anyone who wants them.  Cake and presents (pandas galore!) were certainly amazing, but the true joy came from celebrating our girl. 

 As a side note, I wasn't a big supporter of this disco light idea, but this thing was a huge highlight and let the party keep going well after the planned activities were finished.

After a short break, we celebrated with our small crew at home, even doing a Facetime call for a special present, and finally getting to dig into that sweet cake our girl baked.  It was a pretty pandatastic day!

With so much happening before her actual birthday, it's difficult to believe that there was anything left, but what's a birthday without celebrating ON your birthday?  We opened a couple of presents first thing in the morning, then took a half day from school to have lunch at the park (on an unseasonably beautiful February day).

She got to add new details for the bedroom, like paper lanterns and panda canvases, and POLISH things off with nail art tools and an entire set of colors to start adding fun to our fingernail adventures.

A new year has brought us beautiful changes, even if they were difficult at first.  Celebrating our girl turning eleven was an unexpectedly amazing surprise, just like our girl was eleven years ago.

Until next time,

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Washington DC, Days 4 & 5

We've reached the end of our 5-day visit to Washington DC.  With so much of the city under our belts from our first, second, and third days of exploring (click on the words for links to see each of the days), it made sense that our last two days fit into just one blog post.  We started day four at the Natural Museum of American History, checking out artifacts from our country's past, including US presidential items like Lincoln's hat and footage from JFK's assassination.

We moved on to pop-cultural US history, checking out friends and items from various different heroes in our lives.

We wandered through more of history and then decided to venture back to The National Mall and head towards The White House.  While we had visited it on our very first day, we realized we needed to be on the other side in order to get the best view.  It really is beautiful to see in person and be able to take in as a piece of our country's history.  We closed out day 4 here, rode scooters back to a small park area in the city, and had dinner in the park (a pretty regular part of life for us).

On our last day, it ended up being a bit more dreary and misty than the rest of our visit.  We spent a short time at the Botanical Gardens, then headed to the National Air and Space Museum for a bit.  I'm always a sucker for the history of photography and cameras, so I enjoyed reading about the Wright brothers' interest in photography and how the history of the very first flight was captured. 

During our exploration, we had the chance to see so many planes, both larger-than-life displays and models you could hold in your hands.  Emma also got to try her hand at a flight simulator; it was fun to watch her enjoy trying something new.

We continued on to see flight in outer space through a model of our solar system.  We also saw various other pieces of space artifacts that showed us up close and personal how our history and future were both impacted by the brave people willing to explore new adventures.

Since it was our final afternoon in DC, my husband asked if I had anything I wanted to try and photograph again before we left.  While I was able to get the Three Servicemen Memorial by the Vietnam Wall on our first pass, I somehow missed the Vietnam Women's Memorial.  It seemed so fitting to be photographing a statue that was dedicated to the women who cared for the heartbreak of the war in the rain.

As a final farewell, we decided to see if the Reflecting Pool might have been officially filled for the spring.  However, what we discovered was a still empty pool with just enough rain gathered in it to get a small reflection of the Washington Memorial through it.  Side note: if you ever see my husband, ask him to see the shot HE took of Emma and me getting this photo.  It's fantastic and I rather love it.

I hope you enjoyed coming along on our journey to visit our nation's capital!  We enjoyed getting a closer look at the memorials built to pay tribute to what our country has gone through to become the nation it is today.  May we always remember how beautiful our freedom is when partnered with responsibility, but that the cost of freedom is never free.

Until next time,