Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Although I do not adhere to Catholic theology, I certainly did enjoy this article. Great answers to
the "environmentalists" who criticize large families for their carbon footprint!!

Faith & Family Magazine: Big Families Are the New Green

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Grant turns 8

Our oldest son celebrated his birthday two days ago.
Here's a look into his special day.
Recognize the TV show theme song?

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Friday, April 23, 2010

10 dozen cupcakes for a birthday bonanza

This year, I decided since I've had some experience in making cakes, and since I've taken a Wilton cake decorating course at some point in my past life, there is really no reason why I shouldn't be baking the cakes for my own children's birthday. The only thing really up against me is the time and space required for such an undertaking.

I put some thought into this and figured that the easiest way would be to make cupcakes. They are all the rage right now, and are really quick to do, and there are so many short cuts available these days to make the process go even quicker. As I mentioned in a previous post, I thought it would be really fun to make these cupcakes not only the dessert, but also the centerpieces of each table.

So I borrowed the extra cupcake stands that I needed, and then counted how many I would need to make to fill all the stands. Yep, 10 dozen would about do it.
I baked 6 dozen on Wednesday and the final 4 dozen on Thursday. With store bought cake mixes and 4 muffin pans, it all went really quick.

Next, I needed a recipe that would be soft enough to pipe through an open star tip, but yet would stay firm and hold it's shape. It couldn't be refrigerated as I only have one refrigerator and no place to store that many cupcakes. It also needed to taste great!!! Hmmmm?
Way back before I was married and had a half dozen little people to watch over, I took a course where I was introduced to this really great recipe. I knew it was the one I needed for just this situation. So off to the store I went to gather the ingredients:

Snow-White Buttercream Icing

2/3 cup water
4 Tablespoons Wilton Meringue Powder

12 cups (approx. 3 lbs.) sifted confectioner's sugar
1 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortening
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. clear vanilla extract

3/4 tsp. almond extract

Combine water and meringue powder. Whip at high speed until peaks form. This took my Kitchenaid mixer SEVERAL minutes to complete....I'm thinking 10 minutes.
Add 4 cups powdered sugar, one at a time, beating at low speed after each addition.
Alternately add shortening and remaining sugar.
Add salt and flavorings.
Beat at low speed until smooth.
Makes 7 cups.
May be stored for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

**I made two batches of this recipe to cover all 10 dozen and I did have about 1 1/2 cups leftover.
**I never had to add 12 cups of the sugar to get the consistency I was after. I usually stopped around 8 or 9 cups.
**Clear vanilla is not absolutely necessary if you are adding color to your frosting. Clear vanilla is only necessary if you need perfectly white white frosting like you would on a wedding cake.
I just used it this time for experimental reasons.

Once the frosting was made up, I put it into a 16 inch decorating bag with an open star tip. We laid all the cupcakes out on the dining table and swirled the frosting on all 10 dozen in no time.
Then came the REAL fun.
Have you tried this stuff??

PERFECT for the application we needed!!!
The colors were not really brilliant, but as it dried the color did darken and it worked well for the color vibrancy we were after.
Totally recommend SPRAYING the color onto your cupcakes.
My girls LOVED getting involved in this one.

I LOVED how they all turned out!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The cost of a birthday bonanza

One of the reasons we love the birthday bonanza is because it significantly reduces our annual expenses for birthday celebrations. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it could easily cost $100+ per child's birthday party if you include party favors, decorations, food, a gift, and any fun options you may want to include whether it's a fun venue or a rental of some sort. So on top of reducing a ton of stress for us in planning 6 individual celebrations within several months time, we can cut the costs by doing things a little bigger all at once!!

Here's the general breakdown:

Games: $10.16
** This was for 3 group games.

Decorations: $7.00
** I was able to keep this so low because we were able to borrow most
of our decorations.

Food: $119.54

"Snack Shak" items:
Dried Fruit Mix
"Volcano Punch"
Hawaiian and Pepperoni Pizza
Fruit Kabobs of strawberries and pineapple
Ice Cream

Cupcakes: $36.20
10 dozen

Bounce House Rental: $106.19

Piñatas: 2/$30
Candy: $27.91 ($0.71/child)

Favors: $ 1.18 per child
Leis: $0.17/person - $8.68
A cupcake - Counted above ($0.30/person)
Candy from pinata - Counted above ($0.71/child)

Total Cost for Birthday Bonanza for 39 children + 10 adults:

**That's roughly $6.91 per person.
**Or you could break it down to $57.61 per birthday party for each of our 6 children!!

** Next year we plan to cut costs even more by making our own piñatas!!

(I did not include the costs of some of the serving items such as spoons, cups, and napkins because we bought in bulk to have leftovers as well as used some things from last year.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The schedule for a birthday bonanza

Birthday Bonanza Luau Program 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Upon arrival: Bounce House

Snack Shak

Craft Table (For 5 and under)

6: 30 pm – Coconut Stampede (Be the last to get your balloon popped)

7: 00 pm - Limbo Game

7: 30 pm – Eat

7:45 pm – Cakes and ice cream

8:00 pm - Presents at individual tables

8:15 pm – Pass the coconut (Pass it till the music stops)

8: 30pm – Piñata’s (One for 3-6 years old)

( one for 7- 12 years old)

8: 45 pm – Thank you’s

(We couldn't have done all this without the wonderful help of so many of the parents who either volunteered or were willing to do what was needed if we asked!!! Thank you so much!)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A 10th birthday celebration

On Monday before our big birthday bonanza, we were also celebrating our Ashlyn's 10th birthday. It was a busy day, but a fun one!!!

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Planning a "birthday bonanza"

We generally start talking about our annual birthday party sometime at the beginning of the year.
When we are planning our yearly calendar out, we start thinking about a good date, check with daddy's schedule, and pick a theme.
We already have next year's theme decided, and have a couple other ideas on paper for future years as well.

This year's theme was "A Hula-Hoopin' Hawaiian Luau".

Several weeks before the actual date, I got a few things nailed down:

1. I reserved our church gym and kitchen so there would be no conflicts with other church events.
We like doing it indoors for now because our spring weather is very unpredictable.
Another great idea is finding a local park shelter that already has a great play equipment
that would cost nothing to use.

2. I hunted down the CD of Hawaiian music that I knew we owned but was having a hard time finding.

3. I searched around online and found some really creative games and ideas that we could
incorporate into our party.

4. I also started formulating in my mind how we were going to do the cakes this year.
Last year I caved, and went to Wal-Mart at the last minute and spent $25.00 on one cake large enough for the entire party, but I embellished it with some items that incorporated our theme.
This year I was determined to make it myself. I knew we were going to have a table for each child and his/her friends, so I thought it would be GREAT to make cupcakes and set them up on cupcake stands and they would double as the centerpieces at each table.
Trouble was.....I only had 2 cupcake stands.
So I got onto Facebook, and asked if anybody local would mind lending me their stand
for the party. I ended up with 3 more that way, and that's all I needed!!!

Two weeks before the party:

We made our own invitations and printed them out on colorful paper, and then sent or hand delivered them.

The week before the party:

1. I typed out a "Party Planner" that included a shopping list and a schedule for the party.

2. On Monday, we went shopping and bought the candy, pinata's , balloons, and all the game items. I don't recommend waiting as long as I did on this, but this was the day I reserved our bounce house too. Fortunately, it was available. I would normally recommend you reserve any rentals at least 1-2 months in advance!!
3. On Tuesday, we went and picked up all the cupcake stands we needed, as well as some decorations we borrowed from our former church's children's ministry.

4. On Wednesday, we baked 6 dozen cupcakes.

5. I asked the "ladies-in-charge" of our church events and supplies, if I could borrow some
tablecovers. I just need to wash/dry them and bring them back on hangars.
She also told me to check in the closet for any Hawaiian decorations that I could borrow.
I found lots of great stuff!!

6. This thoughtful lady also asked me if I could use two huge punch bowls of chips leftover from some other event, as well as 4-5 gallons of punch. Know what kind?

7. On Thursday, we baked the remaining 4 dozen cookies and frosted all 10 dozen. This really did not take as much time as you would think. More on this tomorrow.
We also finished packing our big plastic storage container full of everything we needed.
(**One big "sterilite" storage bin holds all the cups, napkins, game supplies, decorations, etc. It's great for storing all the stuff you can use again for next year too!!)

8. On Friday, 3 hours before party time, I took my M-I-L and oldest daughter up to our church, and we decorated the gym. Everything was ready to go by 5:00 pm.

Monday, April 19, 2010

2nd Annual Brough Family Bonanza

This past Friday night, our family hosted the "2nd Annual Brough Family Bonanza." I will be dedicating most of my blog posts this week to this fantastic event. This is an idea that we were exposed to from a couple of different places (one from this family, another from my dearest, long-time friend, Tiffany!), and after our first try at it last year we were HOOKED!!!

Here are a couple reasons why we love doing one big birthday party for all our children at one time:

1. We only have one birthday at the latter part of the year, with all 7 of the rest of us between January and May. We have 3 birthdays within 2 weeks in April. It is exhausting to try to have this amount of birthdays with all the friends, cake, and hoopla in that amount of time.

2. It saves us a tremendous amount of money when you average about $100 per child's birthday (food, decorations, gifts, rentals, game supplies, etc.) times 6, and I daresay that for some families that would be frugal. We save roughly $200 a year or more!!

3. We have so much MORE fun with nearly 40 children at an event than with just 5 -10. The games are better, the bounce house makes more sense, and everyone has SOMEONE to play with.

4. It takes so much pressure off of me to have to plan only one big "friend" party rather than 6.

5. On their actual birth date, we reserve that for family members only. We have a special breakfast in bed, presents from family, and then a fun activity with just our family. The children are learning that their turn is coming, and to treat each other special at least ONCE a year :)!!

6. I LOVE event planning, and have worked as a wedding coordinator in the past, so this kind of thing allows me that creative outlet without burning me out throughout the whole year.

7. This year, my husband took the week off of work, and we took our spring break the week before the party, so it freed up a lot of time for making things, and shopping, and the girls LOVED helping with this.

I could go on and on about how this "system" of birthday celebrations has benefited our family, and how it is now one of the highlights of our year!!

Stay tuned for how we planned our party, and how a little bit of preparation time every day this last week helped us put this together in a very short amount of time!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dental care for the diabetic child

Yesterday was our big bi-annual visit to the dentist. Our Ashlyn, who is a Type 1 Diabetic, has slacked a bit on being faithful about brushing her teeth twice a day. In fact, I know there are some days when she doesn't brush them at all.....ewww!! I inspect all my children's teeth from time-to-time just to see if there is evidence of laziness going on in their mouths, and sure enough, last week I found a big 'ol cavity staring back at me from one of Ashlyn's big molars! After getting on her about brushing regularly, I went to my endocrinologist's office for my follow-up visit. While sitting in the waiting room, the story on the TV there caught my attention. There was a dentist talking who specializes in treating people with diabetes. What she said made so much sense to me, and I was left wondering why I had never heard it before!!
She said that in people who have high blood sugar levels, that extra sugar is in all parts of their bodies INCLUDING THEIR SALIVA. So they NEED to be brushing at least twice a day because they have a higher risk of developing cavities than those of us who don't normally have high levels of sugar in our mouths. That really struck me, as we have always struggled keeping Ashlyn's BS levels in the normal range. I double checked this information with our dentist yesterday and she agreed. I don't know how I had never heard that before or even thought of it that way. I guess this is a disease that we'll always be learning about, and always chasing down!!
Fortunately, that big cavity Ashlyn has is on a "baby" molar that is loose and on it's way out anyway, so we won't be getting it filled. Time to go brush some teeth!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And the celebration just keeps going.....

Today is my sweet,
ridiculously smart,
gorgeous singing,
warrior minded,
decisive leading,
wife adoring

The birthday card that I gave him said:

"I didn't fall into anything.
I jumped into love with both feet screaming:
all the way."

And it's true, I did!!
And I'm still screaming the same thing today.....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happy Anniversary!!!

On this day 14 years ago......

"....I found him whom my soul loveth...."
Song of Solomon 3:4

A couple years ago, we shared our "romance" with a local newspaper. In honor of our special day today I'm posting it here:

Happy 14th Anniversary, Honey!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A happy, diabetic birthday!!!

Ten years ago.......

Ashlyn Nicolle came into our lives....

She came home to us after a week in the hospital because she mysteriously stopped breathing within the first 24 hours, and she did this over and over and the doctors couldn't figure out why. You can see the cord to the monitor she was hooked up to all the time for the first couple weeks.

Six weeks old, off the monitor and FAT!!
She's here with her friend, Olivia, who is exactly one month older than her.

One year old at Easter.

Nearing two years old.

Our sweet dolly on her 3rd birthday.....

......and now she's TEN!!!

This child has been through so many physical issues in her short life.
After the incident at her birth (which I mentioned above),
she was suddenly hospitalized just short of her third birthday with
a "septic hip." She had to have surgery to drain the infection in her hip,
and then remained in the hospital for a week and had to go through
a little bit of physical therapy.
Then, just over a year ago, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
And though all of those things have troubled her right at first,
she has graciously accepted those times and joyously goes on with life.
She has adapted to each thing, and not made them the focus of her life.
She just weaves the finger pricks, and insulin corrections,
and the highs and lows into the tapestry of her life.
She brings tremendous joy and hilarity to our lives.

This is the Scripture verse I have claimed for her life:

"For I know the plans that I have for you,
declares the Lord,
plans for welfare (peace) and not for calamity
to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!!!