Our Easter in Pictures

Our Easter weekend was pretty wonderful...filled will lots of family time, great food, worship, and TONS of cascarones (confetti eggs).  At church we had a really special musical program that was so spiritual and lovely.  I feel amazingly blessed to have the gospel in my life and to know that because of Him, my family will be together forever.   

How did you celebrate this Easter weekend???

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Planning a Frozen-Themed Birthday Party

A couple of weeks ago, Riley turned 7!  SEVEN!!!!  How is that possible?
The mind-boggling mysteries of rapid childhood aging will forever escape my brain.  It just doesn't seem possible for my children to already be so OLD!

So naturally, as any seven year old girl (and possibly boy) would ask for when contemplating a party, was of course a FROZEN birthday party.
As if I even had to ask.

In researching this endeavor, there are an abundance of Frozen party ideas...but truthfully, those amazing creations are not within my abilities at the present, nor is there ANYTHING Frozen in stock ANYWHERE...so I did what I could and it turned out pretty great, if I do say so.

Here's a few ideas if you're wanting to take the short-cut minimalist route to a fabulous Frozen birthday party!

^^^ My MIL made these delish snowflake sugar cookies, which my kids decorated the day prior.  Then she wrapped them up to give out for party favors! ^^^

The noses (carrots), ice (blue jello), and antlers (stick pretzels) were the easiest thing!  We ended up using the carrots and pretzels to make mini-Olafs later (see below).

^^^ My mom made a Frozen concoction of blue Hawaiian Punch, Sprite, and pineapple juice...then added a few scoops of ice cream for good measure.  So yum! ^^^

^^^ Using tinted almond bark with marshmallows and pretzels, the girls made their own snowflakes and Olafs.  This was a hit! ^^^

^^^ My sweet girls.  Times just goes by too fast. ^^^

In addition to the above, the party also included:
-Frozen coloring pages
-Ice cream cupcakes (made with confetti cake and birthday cake ice cream)
-A viewing of Frozen, complete with several rewinds for sing-along purposes

Riley brings such joy to our family and helps me tremendously.  She's a doer and a leader...traits that serve her well.  She's a natural pianist and listening to her play is music to my ears...ha, pun intended.  Riley reminds me of myself a lot...not only in personality, but she looks a lot like I did at her age.  We love our sweet girl so much.  Happy 7th Riley!

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ZACH Theatre {Austin}

The lovely people at ZACH Theatre reached out to me about attending a performance of Dr. Seuss'sThe Cat in the Hat last weekend, and I jumped at the chance to expose my little ones to production theatre...not to mention at the longest running theatre company in Texas!  I ended up taking Tyler Bree, as she was the one I most thought would "get it" in terms of the entire production process.  It was also and opportunity for me to weave in a few homeschooling topics with her.

The play itself was simply delightful!  Everything was right in line with what a child would recognize as being "The Cat in the Hat".  Here's a few specific thoughts I had walking out of the performance:

>>>Setting and props looked super realistic to the cartoon version...I don't know how they did that...the tables and books even looked animated!
>>>The energy level of the actors was impressive to say the least.  They were running around nearly the entire performance, yet didn't miss a cue or line.  This definitely added to the entertainment and the kid-factor of the show.
>>>Being in a rather intimate setting (smaller theater), the actors were extremely talented and professional, even during the times the closeness of the audience might have distracted them for a split-second...again, impressive.
>>>The staff working at the ZACH Theatre could not have been more helpful and kind.  From the moment we walked in, they were the picture of hospitality.
>>>The length of this performance was just right...40 minutes is the perfect amount of time for young ones.  As a parent, I sure appreciated that sweet spot of time!

For those of you in the Austin area, I highly recommend taking your family to see a performance at ZACH theatre.  The Cat in the Hat is running until May 3 and Pinocchio is starting in a few days.  An added bonus for me was the location of the theatre...South Lamar.  Coming from Buda, I love getting to come "in to town" a bit more and stopping in at my favorite restaurants.  We kind of made a whole day of it...I can never resist Gourdough's or some quality time with my big girl!

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10 Easter Basket Ideas For Toddlers

Easter is such a special holiday, and one especially that we try to make it as Christ-centered for our family as we can.  For Easter baskets, we normally do a mix between fun and Jesus gifts, such as a picture of Christ or a bookmark for their scriptures.  But for my little guy (almost 3), filling his Easter basket is a bit more challenging because of his age and understanding of the holiday.  So after quite some thinking, I've come up with several toddler-appropriate Easter basket ideas that will sure to brighten your little one's face come Easter morning!

1.  Kite
2.  Play dough Easter Eggs
3.  Jesus coloring pages (and new crayons)
4.  Swimsuit (in love with this one from ZARA)
5.  Bath toys and Bubble Bath
6.  Easter Veggie Tales DVD (found here)
7.  Easter Stickers and Notepad (Target dollar spot)
8.  Book with Stuffed Animal (such as If you give a Cat a Cupcake)
9.  Easter Sidewalk Chalk (these on 2 day Amazon shipping)
10.  Fruit/Veggie Pouches (my fave are Happy Family products)

>>>p.s. Does your family make empty tomb rolls?  Here's the recipe we use:  Empty Tomb Rolls

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How NOT To Be the Worst Dance Mom Ever

Last weekend was Tyler Bree's first dance competition of the year.  We've done "pre-team" competitions in years prior, but this was the first real deal.  She did great and loved it...thankfully.  We have another one this weekend in San Antonio and then some more coming up in a few weeks.  So basically, I'll be a pro at ballerina buns, false eyelashes, and quick changes come summer.

I've never seen the show "Dance Moms", but I have a feeling that the reality I witness at these competitions are not far from what they portray on the show...meaning, they keep it real.  Aside from kniving moms (which I'm sure there are some, just not on our team), being a dance mom is not for the faint of heart.  It kicks my butt.
Not even kidding.

So you might be wondering, what on Earth could be so challenging about being a little ol' dance mom...how could it possibly be anything but cheers and smiles and "Break a leg, Honey!" you might ask...

Well.  There are some seasoned dance mom pros out there, and you better believe I've taken notice.  I've also noticed I have very little dance mom in me.  I know I've claimed to be the worse dance mom ever, but hear me out...that title would be tough to beat if you really knew how this Jansen show runs.  So in my observations last weekend, I came up with a little list of what it would take to up my status from worst dance mom to mediocre dance mom, or dare I say, a pretty good dance mom.

Here's what I've come up with...fellow worst dance moms, take note if you will.

How NOT to be the Worst Dance Mom Ever:

1.  You MUST invest in a rolling makeup, dancewear, and dressingroom studio thingy-ma-jig.  If you've seen one of these, then you'll know I'm not exaggerating in the least.  These babies are equiped with any and everything a dance mom could/would need, including no less than 5 sets of false lashes, liquid hair cement, and an emergency kit to take on any dance fiasco.  Nowhere for your daughter to change?  No worries...just pop up the clothes rack with your shower curtain attached and viola...privacy for your tiny dancer.  Fumbling around a silly bag for bobby pins, safety pins, makeup, and every other dance necessity is just absurd...it should be right at your organzied fingertips in your very own embroidered dance studio on wheels.
(I used a small Vera Bradley tote...I didn't even get Tyler Bree a team duffle bag.  The shame!)

2.  Plain street clothes are simply unacceptable.  A true dance mom not only purchases a team shirt explicitly displaying whose mom she is (i.e. Tyler Bree's Mom), but it MUST be emblazzonedly bedazzeled as well.  I sure missed the boat on that one.
(I litterally was the ONLY mom without a team mom shirt.  Still holding up that worst mom title with flying colors.)

3.  Dance moms are killer selfie takers.  Okay, so maybe I'm not so bad at this one.  When it's just you and your little performer, who else is going to document all of the fabulousness???

4.  A dance mom must be resourceful and creative...and fully committed.  Last weekend, the team had a super fast costume change and one of the stellar dance moms gave me the genius idea of LAYERING TIGHTS.  Whaaat?  This was life changing to my little dance mom world.  To truly come up with such inventive ideas, you have to fully commit to the dance mom psyche.  A dance mom can't afford to merely contemplate dance a few hours prior (like yours truly)...nope.  It must be a constant stream of dance consciousness...to be ready and able at any moment with a non-makeup-smearing-pre-performance snack or to re-glue wayward rhinestones.  And you never do know when your daughter's tap costume might go missing....yeah, we never did find it.  True story.

5.  And finally, the truest test of dance mom grit is the ability to withstand tears.  Tears due to hair fixing, thirst, hunger, fabricated ailments, lost earrings, fatigue, and most importantly (albeit rarely), tears of other moms.  One must be immune to such pulls of emotions and stay strong.  Dancers can sense a faltering dance mom...they'll turn on those tears at the slightest sign of weakness.  The new dance mom motto should be, "There's NO crying in Dancing!"
(I'd like for it be noted here by the National Dance Mom Association that my daughter, who I was positive would be a sure fire melt down candidate because of the quick costume change, did in fact NOT squirt a single tear last weekend.  And that, my friends, was a dance miracle.)

Fellow dance moms...did I miss anything???

I have a long ways to go

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In the Bluebonnets

I had some bluebonnet mini sessions last night and it was so much fun with these adorable families...who's mommas just happen to be my good friends, too!

We were out in an open field (read: no shade), and it was fun playing with the colors of the wildflowers in that diffused light.  So gorgeous and blast for me as a photographer!

For this shoot, I had some colored chairs on hand, as well as an old tin bucket that I like to use...
What are YOUR favorite photo props and accessories?

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I'll See You at See's!

Last week, I was invited to a media event for the grand opening of See's Candies here in Austin.  Not only did I jump at the chance to go, but I knew the perfect "plus one" to take with me...my friend Julie, who's a See's fanatic to the core.

The evening consisted of some history of See's (super interesting by the way), a Lucy and Ethel style box packing race (in fact, they got the idea for that I Love Lucy episode from See's), and LOTS of chocolate eating.  They sent us home with enough chocolate to last at least until Easter!

Some cool things I learned about See's...

-See's Candies uses no added preservatives.  Thumbs up!
-The company is owned by Berkshire Hathaway...which basically means Warren Buffet.  Clearly, it's a stellar company.
-Once a mom and pop shop in California, See's has become a hugely national brand, and they're currently taking it eastward...hello Austin!
-Employees truly love working for See's and their retention rate is amazing...employees have been at Sees for decades!  You can really see their pride in how they speak about See's!

For you locals, the new Austin Sees is located at 10710 Research Blvd.  I highly recommend checking them out...and when you do, make sure to get the Scotchmallows (heaven), the Bordeaux (party in your mouth), and the Jellybird Eggs (you've never had anything like this, I promise).  Sees has an enormous selection of specialty candy just for Easter...it's quite a cultural phenomenon in California, and I foresee it becoming the same for Austinites, as Sees will be a traditional go-to for holidays!

What's YOUR favorite See's Candy???

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