Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Best Bad News

I don't often share my trials, troubles, or worries online.  I already tend to lean on the "what-if" side of things and if I were to always post the difficult things I feel I might linger on them too long, bemoaning my lot in life.  And it's a good lot, when all is said and done, so I post the good things.  That way my friends and family cheer me on and I can focus on counting my blessings and not getting stuck in a "woe is me" cycle.

This year, however, has been hard.  We've been through a refiner's fire.  We've lost jobs, loved ones, endured physical trials, and extremely emotional ones as parents of teenagers testing the boundaries or our love (of course, there aren't any but they sure try to find them!)  And when all those things happen you tend to find yourself saying, "At least my children are healthy."

Until they aren't.

[caption id="attachment_1435" align="aligncenter" width="223"]Brandon babysitting earlier this summer.  What a good Daddy he'll make! Brandon babysitting earlier this summer. What a good Daddy he'll make![/caption]

Last month we took our children in for their annual exams.  Something came up that alarmed the doctor with our oldest son's exam.  That started a whirlwind of appointments all in one week.  The words surgery and cancer were mentioned.  And then we had to wait.

We were prepared for the worst, which, in this case would still be okay.  I mean, IF it were cancer it would likely be able to be removed and the survivability as high as you could possibly ask for.  I can't explain how it is to feel gratitude and hope in the same breath as heartache.  I knew, no matter the prognosis, he'd be okay.  I was at peace.  But I wept at the possible pain he'd have to go through and the long term consequences for him and his future family.

Today we were finally able to see the specialist and received the best bad news of my life so far:


Surgery is still recommended and no biospy or blood work was done.  But, from the ultrasound, the doctor is confident that there is no cancer at this time, nor is it pre-cancerous!

Again, I'm not sharing this because I'm sad.  In the last month we have shared this particular trial with extended family as well as friends and I wanted everyone to know the happy news!

Many of the trials we've had this year may just have been blessings in disguise that allowed the timing for his exam, etc to be extremely providential.  Had Chris not lost his job and Brandon had had his annual exam a few months earlier at his normal time of year, it might have been too early to catch this.  Maybe that is not the case.  I don't know all the 'why's' of these things but I do know our Father has a plan for us!  How grateful I am that we did not allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity or fall into the trap of hatred when things became difficult!  We have tried to be patient and now we see His timing had a purpose and we are glad our hearts have been made soft enough to recognize and find joy in it.

"There is in every true woman's heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."
~Washington Irving

And this girl...is on fire.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Clue Game Birthday Party

My son, Matthew, rediscovered, and fell in love with, the game of Clue about a few months ago.  And since we didn't have the classic version he made his own twist when he had friends over. Life-sized Clue!

He would make is own lists of suspects, weapons, and rooms in our home and then give them to me to cross off items from both his and his friend's list confidentially so they could both solve the crime.  Then they would spend the next 30 minutes running around the house sleuthing to their hearts' content.  That's how it started.

He turned ten last month and we decided we could make his game even bigger and better for an unforgettable birthday party!

[caption id="attachment_1409" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Enjoying their 'dinner party' prior to the magic show. Enjoying their 'dinner party' prior to the magic show.[/caption]

THE PLAYERS: He couldn't quite narrow down his guests list to match up with the Clue characters, number-wise, so he created new ones based on his friends' personalities and assigned them each a color.

We didn't have time to make an official paper invite, but Jen over at Rook No.17 has some great customize-able invites you can make for a Clue party.  In fact, many of our ideas for our party version of the game were inspired by her post, but modified to accommodate a large number of very loud excited boys!

Our invite ended up being an Event post through Facebook.  Hey, don't judge - that's what happens when your kid has a birthday RIGHT before the first day of school!
"Matthew the MARVELous invites you to his home to see the unveiling of his latest {and dare we say, GREATEST?!} trick yet!

Mystery dinner style. Have your son(s) try to dress to match their profile.

Guests are:
Kaden M. -  soccer player (light blue)
Henry M. - mustachioed butcher (white)
Jack B. - police officer (dark blue)
Nolan F. - movie star (red)
Israel P. - archaeologist (brown)
Ian P. - basketball player (purple)
Coby S. - millionaire (green)
Cal H. - comedian (yellow)
Chance S. - robot inventor/scientist (black)
Colin A. - professor (orange)
Matthew {birthday boy} - magician (tie dye)"

[caption id="attachment_1410" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Who doesn't like life-sized board games? Who doesn't like life-sized board games?[/caption]

GAME SET UP:  We used the entire first floor of our home as our game board.  Most of our lower level is covered with 18" tile.  For the few areas where our rooms were not connected by tile we used masking tape to create spaces and 'walls'.

We made player pieces by cutting squares out of construction paper that matched their assigned colors.  Their names were written on them and they were laminated with contact paper.  You can see one in the 'LIVING ROOM' and one on the table in the 'DINING ROOM' in the picture above.  We made the pieces so the boys could use them to mark their spot and still walk around when it wasn't their turn and be involved with what was going on in the game.

We did the same thing to create the suspect, weapon, and room cards but in a smaller version and backed with black paper.  After Matthew left for school that morning I had his older brother randomly choose the cards that would be the 'answers' so I could prepare the special reveal for them.  Instead of giving the remaining cards out to each of the players that night we placed them throughout the designated rooms, hidden in old books.

GAME PLAY:  After dinner Matthew did his magic show as pretense for our mystery.  His little sister was his lovely assistant.  His first trick was to hypnotize her and make her do the one trick she knew.  Sneaky way to not learn a magic trick, no?  Second, he did an impressive card trick.  Lastly, he made her disappear!

What's all that have to do with the game?  This is where the game really began.  Matthew had made her disappear, but he couldn't make her reappear!  Apparently when he had hypnotized her he had inadvertently also hypnotized an audience member to be magical.  The magic was so powerful that the unknown magician had made her REALLY disappear without even knowing they had done it!  Now we had a 'crime' and needed to narrow down our lists of suspects.

The boys received little flip notebooks with all the names of the suspects, rooms, and possible tools (ie. weapons in the original game) already listed.  They were divided into three teams.  Each member of each team was able to roll the dice and move their individual marker once per team turn.  Once they made their way into a room they were allowed to go to the book with the clues and notate whatever they found.  While they weren't moving (or rather, when the other teams were rolling and moving) the team convened to compare notes and clues they found.

WINNING THE GAME:  Each team wrote down their accusation on a separate piece of paper.  Surprisingly each one was different!

Time for cake to see who was right!  I made a reveal cake and had placed both candy and the answer cards inside the cake.

CLUE Cake - kristalcoles.comThe candy didn't really pour out like I had wanted but the gaggle of 10 year old boys were thrilled nonetheless.  Next time I make this cake I think I'll forego frosting the center of the bottom layer, leaving it dry so the candy won't stick and smoosh.

CLUE Reveal Cake - kristalcoles.comWhile the boys were distracted by the cake Elizabeth 'magically' reappeared and the game was over.  The game and party were a hit!  Actually, maybe too much so.  My sweet Matthew had a pretty hard time coming to terms with being back to normal life once everyone left.  It was so fun, though, to see him really shine with his friends!

[caption id="attachment_1416" align="aligncenter" width="184"]What an excited goofball! What an excited goofball![/caption]

Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to School

[caption id="attachment_1406" align="aligncenter" width="560"]One (or more) in each tier now! One (or more) in each tier now![/caption]

Everyone is back to school today!  And with all the different schedules, getting everyone out the door is a part time job in and of itself!  I'm up at five to get the high schooler out by six.  Chris leaves next just after 7, followed shortly by the elementary kids a half hour later.  The middle school starts at nine giving Sam plenty of time to do his daily chores before he heads out, leaving me all alone...in a clean house!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Banana Split Cupcakes

Banana Split Cupcakes - kristalcoles..comDon't these look YUMMY?!!  My son, Sam, and I made these as part of a fundraising effort in May for his National Youth Leadership Training fees.

It was just an idea we came up with and put together without Pinterest or Google and, boy, was that a good idea this time.  The reason being that afterwards I DID look up 'banana split cupcakes' and found lots of recipes using yellow cake mix and mashed bananas as the cake portion and chocolate for the filling.  That's all good but, we - blissfully naive - went in a different direction and they were delicious!!

Banana Split Cupcake , à la The Coles - chocolate cake, banana pudding filling, cream cheese icing sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, chopped peanuts, and topped with a marachino cherry.

Make sure the cake is moist and the icing is thick (not like the canned store bought stuff, if you can avoid it.)

One thing we did use Pinterest for was a means to deliver the cupcakes to his customers.  We used a shirt gift box as shown at THIS PIN.

[caption id="attachment_1399" align="aligncenter" width="336"]Sam getting ready to deliver a dozen red velvet cupcakes to earn his way to NYLT. Sam getting ready to deliver a dozen red velvet cupcakes to earn his way to NYLT.[/caption]


Monday, July 22, 2013

Keep Calm, Mormon Style

[caption id="attachment_1394" align="aligncenter" width="346"]Probably not nearly as funny as it was in my head, but it popped in there nonetheless during a Branch Conference so I had to get it out!  I wonder how many will 'get it'... Probably not nearly as funny as it was in my head, but it popped in there nonetheless during a Branch Conference so I had to get it out! I wonder how many will 'get it'...[/caption]

Sunday, July 21, 2013

From Old Polo Shirt to New Dress

Polo Shirt to Dress - kristalcoles.comAnother Saturday gone by and another dress from one of my husband's discarded shirts.  This time it was a polo shirt and I was able to attempt the shirring from the tutorial I had seen.  I love it, it's so easy!!

'School Shopping' - 0, Me - 2  It's looking like it's going to be a winning season...at least for the girl.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Toaster Tray

Toaster Tray - kristalcoles.comIgnore the sad state of the toaster and bask in the glory of my clean counter!

Here's a couple of things you should know about me.  First, I hate clutter.  I can't stand to have things out on my counters.  Second, I have kids and, therefore, not too many "nice" things.  So, yeah, the toaster has seen better days but I refuse to waste money on a new one that will eventually, and likely quickly, meet the same fate.

Now my kids, on the other hand, seem to LOVE seeing things out on the counter.  All day, everyday throughout summer break I find my toaster out and accompanying crumbs everywhere.  I'm happy the kids are self-sufficient and feed themselves {mostly} but I realized they couldn't put the toaster away immediately because it needed to cool down.

Which brings me to the Toaster Tray.  I wanted a solution that would keep both the counter and my cupboard clean and clear of falling toast crumblets, keep little fingers from being burned, and provide cord control.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best and this is the case here.  I LOVE Maruchan Ramen...for their boxes!  The kids eat plenty of it so I always have lots on hand and they are perfect for organizing.  For this project I  just cut the sides shorter, wrapped it in foil and that's it!  The cord fits in the box, the crumbs are contained, and the little ones grab the box instead of the hot metal sides.

Someday I will have "nice" things and when I do eventually upgrade to a new toaster I might consider making a cute wooden tray with handles but this totally does the trick for now.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...