Since we gave Karstin his own digital camera for his birthday, I asked him if he'd also like to give digital scrapbooking a try. He responded with an enthusiastic yes ... and we used this rainy evening as an excuse for his first lesson. He did great, don't you think???
You might say we started celebrating our Memorial Day weekend a little early today - or at least it felt like it. For starters, it is Karstin's 14th birthday today. He was the first one up this morning, as usual, and Danica was soon to follow. So we took a few seconds to pose for a birthday morning shot before Karstin headed off for school. A couple hours later, the girls & I did a little running around to finish up the birthday preparations, including delivering a coffee shop gift certificate and balloon to the school for their big brother. For once, I actually had the cake done ahead of time. Knowing that this would be a busy week - and that of all my kids, Karstin is most interested in upholding traditions like being "surprised" by what his birthday cake looks like, I actually had it all finished, decorated and hidden from sight by early yesterday afternoon. A guitar seemed to be a pretty fitting theme for Karstin's cake this year, considering how much music dominates his existence. In fact, music was pretty much the theme of most of his gifts, too. But more on that in a minute... After school, Karstin was pretty much bouncing off the walls ... or at least bouncing off the tramp! Whether this was a result of all the candy he'd eaten during the day or the cool new drumsticks and guitar picks from his girlfriend, I'm not sure ... either way, he was a happy camper - and that's what I love to see, especially on his birthday! How that kid can talk on the phone and jump on the tramp at the same time, I do not know!! Anyway, we had an early dinner of shrimp scampi, corn on the cob, garlic bread, etc. and then had to dash off to Kody's last band concert of the year. Kody did a great job and was relieved to have it over, since he was pretty nervous about this concert. I think with all the attention Karstin gets on the drums, his little brother was feeling the pressure to measure up. After the concert, we returned home and showed Karstin his cake. I say "showed" because he is having several buddies over tomorrow night for a sleepover and he decided he wants to save the cake until then so they can see it, too... We did light candles and sing, however, and Karstin posed for a traditional birthday shot. The foot is intended to represent the extra digits to get to 14, by the way... done in true Karstin humor! After cake, it was everyone's favorite ... presents. Karstin was a total ham and really managed to get me giggling with all his theatrics as he opened his gifts. We gave him a digital camera, as well as a microphone & stand, a charger for his iPod, and a framed photo of him with Jacques & the deer Karstin shot last fall, which is now hanging upstairs with the mount Jacques also put together for him. He also received a guitar-themed t-shirt from gramma & grampa, as well as an iTunes gift card - always a big hit - and some little gadget type stuff like a flashlight (I think... I hardly got to see it!). As I sat here watching him wander the house for the next hour or two singing into that microphone and being goofy in general, it dawned on me ... a microphone is not going to make things any quieter around here!! But that's okay ... he loved it and it supports his passion, so that's what matters most. We eventually did get to eat cake ... I had frosted a chunk of cake left over from trimming pieces for the guitar and we ate that before sending everyone off to bed. The birthday is over, but the busy-ness is just getting started ... Jacques & Kody are heading out around 5 a.m. tomorrow morning for a guys' fishing trip to Devils Lake, ND with several of Jacques' buddies & relatives. Meanwhile, Karstin's friends will come home with him after school tomorrow and celebrate his birthday again with a sleepover in the camper. Jacques helped him set up the propane fire pit tonite and in the morning, I'll stock up the camper with the tv from the garage, a cooler of root beer, a bunch of junk food, and at some point we'll order a couple pizzas ... party prep is pretty simple for teenage boys!! The girls and I will hold down the fort in the house ... and then hopefully after the dust settles and Karstin catches up on the sleep he won't be getting Friday night, I can get him to lend a hand over the weekend so maybe I can catch a little "me" time somewhere in there!! Jacques & Kody will be back Tuesday sometime and then it's the countdown until school ends June 5th. Then soon after that, we'll have the Montana Newspaper Convention in Kalispell, Father's Day, Jacques' birthday, Danica's first birthday, swimming lessons... like I said, the busy-ness is just getting started!! :)
For once, I'm not feeling particularly wordy. (Pretty much got that out of my system yesterday!...) But here are several of my recent scrapbook pages, which will give you a pretty good idea what we've been up to lately, in case you haven't been following along ...
The end of the school-year marathon is always a bit of a whirlwind. It seems like we run, run, run ... from the all-school carnival to the earlier than usual buses for field trips to the sporting events ... and to the store or fast-food joints for all those last-minute meals because we planned even less than usual. This year, though, has felt especially hurried and has made me extremely sensitive to just how quickly time passes. Why? My first baby is growing up really, really fast and it seems to be happening all at once. I started noticing this bittersweet twinge about a month ago when it dawned on me that Karstin is not only about to finish 8th grade, he is on the verge of becoming a HIGH SCHOOLER. That means the collection of memorabilia I've been saving for 13+ years is about to become complete and it's high time I actually get working on the scrapbook I've been intending to make with it all before the whirlwind of high school takes over. Adding to my awareness of how old he's getting is the fact he has been counting down the days until his birthday for about a month now. (Less than 5 days now, by the way). This feeling was pretty vague until this week when Karstin handed me the high school registration packet. Choosing a career path, thinking ahead to what classes now will help in college... eeks. My kid is already at that point??? Walking into the high school Wednesday evening with him to actually complete registration for freshman classes ... and seeing a huge sign saying "Welcome Class of 2013" ... that pretty much made my stomach flip over. Not only had I never thought about what year he would graduate, but I'm pretty good at math - and 2013 is awfully dang close to 2009. Ouch. Then there's last night. Karstin's first official semi-formal dance. With a date he arranged almost three weeks in advance. A date with a girl who he is calling his official "girlfriend." Not just a girl who his friends told her friends they were "going out" and who he never actually speaks directly to but a girl who he actually hangs out with before school every day and who he blogs about. We couldn't resist dropping in at the dance for a few minutes with the camera. (I was FAR from the only parent doing this, by the way.) The kids were having a blast and dancing up a storm ... a far cry from his wallflower mama, that's for sure. Karstin even introduced us to his date and they let me take a couple photos of them together. It wasn't until I was looking at the photos last night (and yes, scrapbooking the event already), that I noticed they were holding hands in the photo. Gulp. As if that wasn't enough to make me desperate to slow down the hands of time, we spent this evening at the dinner celebrating the fact that Karstin & 6 of his classmates will be confirmed during church tomorrow morning. Yes, I've had two years for that one to sink in while he has faithfully attended confirmation class every Wednesday after school. But still, it sure wasn't seeming real until this week. I think I tend to be pretty level-headed most of the time and there are definitely times when I'm looking forward to the day when the kids are out on their own. I didn't even cry the first time I dropped Karstin off at kindergarten - I was just excited to see him growing & learning. But this whole series of milestones this month has made me realize just how much I am beginning to enjoy this person that started out as that cute little curly-headed baby almost 14 years ago. We blog together (or at least in the same room). I absolutely LOVE to watch him play the drums in his school concerts. He's a great help with the girls. He actually gets my jokes ... at least most of the time. He notices things others miss. He's just nice to have around ... Yeah, I love him. But I'm noticing just how much I LIKE him, too. And I know how fast these next four years are going to fly by. The realization that life as we know it - the six of us all living together in one house doing the normal, everyday family stuff that we take for granted - is so incredibly temporary and short-term... that's becoming a little too concrete these days. So forgive me if I'm a lot more sentimental than usual (and take even MORE photos than usual, if that's even possible) and if my scrapbook pages get a little sappy. ... And maybe, just for a while, could we slow this train down a bit???
It's official. Skylar is now three years old. We celebrated with a fun little "girly-girl" party with her neighbor friend plus all 5 of her cousins on my side of the family, as well as Gramma & Aunt Sara, and of course, her sister and brothers. It was lots of fun ... jewelry making, fingernail painting, dress up ... and of course, lots and lots of presents and a cake made especially for the birthday girl. This year's cake was my first real attempt at fondant. It didn't turn out quite as I had envisioned it (Karstin kept saying it looked like a hat!), but it was cute anyway and tasted pretty good, too. I learn a little more every time I make one of these special cakes ... someday I'll have it down!! After the "party" was over, the kids all enjoyed playing outside on the tramp, in the sandbox and on the various riding toys. The bigger kids took a jaunt over to the park to play a little tennis with Jacques while the babies slept (and the mamas rested!) and then later we all filled up with pizza and more cake. The final special treat of Skylar's big day was a bit of a campout in our pop-up trailer, with Jacques serving as willing chaperone to five of the nine kids.
The day went fast but Skylar seemed to have fun and hopefully will have happy memories of her third birthday when she is older. To help that along, here are the scrapbook pages highlighting her celebration, which will go into her birthday album ... Thanks to Nana & Pop, Skylar even managed to spread out the birthday celebration a couple days longer with the arrival today of her final birthday gift... a child-sized play kitchen. It was delivered while she was napping and I managed to get through all 10 pages of instructions and get it assembled in two hours, just in time for her to wake from her nap and discover her new toy. She was thrilled ... and I'm sure will enjoy many, many hours of pretend play in the days and weeks to come. Now it's time to catch our breath, but not for long. This weekend is Mother's Day ... and as Karstin keeps reminding us, his 14th birthday is less than three weeks away, followed by Father's Day, Jacques' birthday in June ... and then Danica's first birthday. Whew... makes my head spin just thinking about it! Here they are ... all nine cousins on the Gunderson side of the family! :)