More For 39!

It’s my birthday you guys! Today I’m 39 and am a little startled that I’m beginning the last year of this decade. I just don’t know how the last years have gone so quickly. I want to make sure I make the most of the year before I begin a new decade. I want more this year. More.

More Words. I want to write more words this year. In the last year, I’ve barely written here (did you notice?), and I’ve missed it. I want to read more words this year. I want to read good books and good online writing. Tell me what you read and what you think I should read.

More Movement. I am going to move every day. Walking, dancing, prancing (heh), every day will have some kind of movement. How do you move?

More Touching. We’re already a touchy family, but I’m going to make sure it happens. More snuggles with the kids, more kisses with my husband, and a self breast exam every month.

More Music. I love music, but I don’t listen to it as much as I’d like. I’m going to listen to stuff I already love and look for new-to-me music. And I’m going to share it with the kids. Tell me your favorite music.

More Watching. I want more movies and good television. I love being told a story and movies are one of my favorite ways for that to happen. What should I watch?

More Eating. I want more good food and food that makes me feel good. What good food do you indulge in and what food makes you feel good?

More Happy. All of the “mores” will, undoubtedly, help with this one. But! I’m going to search for happy. I’m going to facilitate it. If I’m not feeling happy, I’m going to figure out why and change it, or fix it, or live with it and move on. I want to know, what makes you happy?

If I can get more into my 39th year, I will be kicking off my 40s in a bad-ass place. I’d love for you to share what you want more of, and tell me what you think I should read, listen to, watch, eat, and do.

Birthday Party Fun: Superhero Edition

Tobin is obsessed with all things Superhero. He loves Hulk, Spider Man, Super Man, Ninja Turtles, all of them. So, for his third birthday in early March, a Superhero theme was sure to be a hit.

Luckily, there are a lot of really creative people who have done Superhero parties, so I had a lot of inspiration to draw on. If you Google “superhero party” you will end up with many, many helpful hints.

Food & Drink

We had our party in the morning, so we served fruit, water, “Power Punch” (lemon-lime Kool-Aid), Spider Man-themed Cheez Its, and the cake and ice cream. I found that Duck Brand makes Spider Man Duct Tape, so William wrapped some around the label of each water bottle, instantly making them cool. I also added a label with “Power Punch” over the Kool-Aid label. Each child got a Superhero cup.

Because the Incredible Hulk is Tobin’s favorite, and there aren’t that many ways to decorate with him, I made the cupcakes in Hulk colors. It’s just a yellow cake mix with gel food coloring in purple and green. I used my favorite Reynolds brand foil cupcake wrappers because I can just plop them down on the cookie sheet and don’t need to use a cupcake pan.

Originally, I was going to draw the emblem of several Superheros on top of the cupcakes.  The only one I could successfully draw was Spider Man’s web. Plan “B” turned into writing the comic-book fight words like BAM and POW! I like how they turned out though!

We also made a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Which promptly split into three big pieces after it was assembled. No problem! I told Tobin that Hulk had SMASHED the cake and it was all part of the theme! I used a piece of white posterboard to create a thought balloon and wrote the birthday message on it (sticking it into the cake with two straws taped to the back).




We kept decorating to a minimum:

  • Avengers-themed plastic table covers (the only thing I could find with Hulk), and a solid red plastic table covers to throw over all the surfaces.
  • Balloons in the Superhero colors (blue, red, yellow, green, white, and black)
  • Red and blue containers from previous birthday celebrations, to hold different things.
  • Napkins with red and white stars and stripes designs (these were at the Dollar Store and were sort of Captain America-ish).


With the help of my family, we made the children Superhero capes with the initial of their first name on the back, cuffs, and belts to wear at the party. We used felt, grosgrain ribbon, and fabric glue and that was it. All of it was no-sew, and we free-handed the patterns. The only cape we measured at all was Tobin’s so it wouldn’t drag the ground (all the other children are older/taller than T). The cuffs had stars and the belts had lightening bolts. The kids all really liked them. Next time I will probably sew them as I didn’t love how the fabric glue held them on. This is the tutorial I used to make the capes.

We had a little photo station where we stuck a blue plastic table cover to a wall, taped white clouds to it (cut from posterboard), covered a piano bench with the blue plastic, and had the kids “fly” in the sky so we could take a picture.

We printed out some of the Superhero Villains and taped them to two of the balloons. The kids then “shot” the bad guys on the balloons with silly string until they were “dead”. The silly string will weigh the balloons down pretty quickly. If there were more kids, I might have had them each kill a bad guy, but there were only a few kids, so they shared bad guys. The kids also blew big ol’ bubbles.




I wasn’t going to do a treat bag, but the Avenger pack of treat goodies was cute, so I caved. I also found some Spider Man washcloths (the kind that expand in water) at the Dollar Store so I threw those in there too.



We kept the party simple and banked on the kids having fun with the Superhero costumes and running around in the yard. It worked, and Nicholas and Tobin have played with their costumes several times since the party.


Have you done a Superhero party? What was your favorite part?

Baking: Prune Cake

The first time I had Prune Cake was in the early 1990s. I had never heard of it, but my late Mother-in-law, Sondra, made it for some holiday or birthday and I fell in love. Prune Cake is a favorite in Mark’s family and I have so many fond memories of birthdays and holidays with this cake served. My senior year of high school, I took a Home Ec class and had to enter a food item in the local 4H competition. I made Sondra’s Prune Cake because I knew nobody else would make one. They didn’t and I did well.

I have so many memories of hanging out with Sondra while she made this cake for various members of the family. I spent many late nights hanging out with her in her kitchen talking and listening to stories. The other thing I love about this cake is that the recipe was given to Sondra by her mother-in-law, so I know when N eats it, he’s having cake that at least three generations of his family has had before him.

Anyway, Nicholas’ Grandpa’s birthday was this week, and since Sondra died in 2009, he’s only had the cake a couple of times. So, we baked him one. Larry was excited when I told him we were going to bake it for him, and I got the biggest praise ever when he told me it tasted just like Sondra’s. I also liked the chance to introduce Nicholas to a cake that his Daddy Mark requested for his birthday every year.

Prune Cake is a mix between a dense bread (like banana bread) and a spice cake. It’s super moist from the prunes and is full of yummy spices and pecans. We frost it with a simple buttercream, but I think it would be great with some butter melted on top and eaten with coffee.

Because I have so many happy memories of this cake, I thought I’d share it with you.

Sondra’s Prune Cake


  • 1 cup cooked prunes
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Cook the prunes (cover one cup of prunes with water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and let the prunes stew for 10 minutes or so. You’re goal is to plump them up. Discard the water and let them cool). Mix oil, sugar, eggs and cooled, chopped prunes. Add dry ingredients sifted together, alternately with milk. Fold in pecans. Bake in 2 layers at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

When completely cooled, ice with buttercream made from confectioner’s sugar, butter, and milk.

Notes: (1) You don’t want to chop the cooked prunes too fine as you want distinguishable bites of them in the cake. I chop each prune into three bits; (2) Prune Cake doesn’t get super fluffy (again, think of a banana nut bread), so don’t worry if it doesn’t rise much; (2) I made this week’s cake in mini muffin tins because Larry is trying to watch his weight and I didn’t want to take a big ol’ cake to him. They seem to have turned out fine. I’ve also made this cake in a sheet pan and kept in in the pan for icing and serving. Not as pretty, but it works.

I would love to hear about a dish or dessert that brings happy memories to you!

Mini Prune Cakes cooling!

Ready To Be Eaten!

Nicholas and Grandpa after yummy cake!

Nicholas at Seven

My Sweetest Nicholas,

I can’t believe you turned 7 this month. SEVEN! I know I say it every year, but I don’t know how the time passes so quickly. Seven was a big year for you. You grew so much, both in height and maturity. This year’s school year was tougher than Kindergarten, but you kept at it and it got a lot better. And the light bulb lit up for you when it came to reading. I was so excited to see it. You went from struggling to reading everything in sight in what seemed like over night. It was awesome.

As always, you are just as smart as ever. So smart I’m a little nervous sometimes. You get frustrated with people if they aren’t being logical…and that can cause tension with kids your own age. You’re working on your patience though.

You have always been such a sweet and loving boy, but this year we’ve really seen it, especially with Tobin. You are such an amazing big brother. You are so patient and it is so very obvious that you adore your baby brother. You two are so lucky to have each other. Seriously lucky.

And we are lucky to have you. You are smart and sweet and handsome and funny. We couldn’t have asked for a better son. I can’t wait to see how you grow and change this year! We love you!

Eighty-Five Amazing Years

My Grandmother turned 85 in May. She is smart, funny, kind, honest and beautiful. The woman is the strongest person I’ve ever met and her grandkids would do just about anything to make her proud. My Grandma married the love of her life as a teenager, lived as a war-time Navy Wife, raised her children in what we would now call solo parenting because my Grandfather’s ship was out so much of their marriage, went from a tiny town in Texas to live all over the country and Cuba just before Castro’s revolution, and settled back into a small town when her husband retired. Just after he died too soon, I moved in with her and lived with her for almost a decade until I went away to college. She was exactly what I needed and I attribute a lot of who I am to watching her and learning by example. I am so blessed that she is my Grandmother and that the world has had her for 85 years, so far. Happy Birthday, Grandma!


Grandma at 19


Grandma and Grandpa

Grandma, Nicholas and Tobin (May 2012)

Birthday Recap: 37 Is Awesome

I had a seriously great birthday week this year, y’all. There were so many birthday wishes, so many friends to celebrate with, so much love. I get to read Jenny’s words and I got to commission art from Robin. I had dinner with my best boys, I celebrated two days in a row with my work family (my birthday and my awesome friend, Katy’s, birthday are next to each other). I got surprise birthday wishes in the mail from wonderful friends. I got my first mammogram as a birthday present to myself. I had lunch and cake with my blood family and blew out candles with my cousin. See? A seriously great birthday week.

Photographic evidence of a seriously great birthday week.

 Close-up cupcake awesomeness.  Awesome Cupcake Variety.  Sharing wishes with Katy.  Dinner dates  Even more cute dinner dates.  Getting the girls squishes.  Sharing wishes with Matthew.

Thank you for all the birthday wishes on Facebook, Twitter, calls and texts! You guys rock!


Making Two Look Good!

Tobin is two. I just have to write it out, or I won’t believe it. Because how did that happen? Yesterday he was kicking me in the ribs. Oh, wait, he was kicking me in the ribs yesterday. But I meant from *inside* my belly. Anyway, it’s gone really fast. This year was a big one for our little dude: daycare, talking, glasses, a level of orneriness never before seen in our household. I think my favorite thing about him right this second is the stories my friend, Katy, tells me. When Katy drops her son off at daycare and he’s not happy, Tobin will try to comfort him. I love that, even at just two years old, he’s compassionate and empathetic. I also love his face-splitting smile, his joy in playing rough with Daddy and Nicholas, and his amazing laugh. We’re so lucky he’s our boy. I think it’s pretty fitting that he shares a birthday with Texas and Dr. Seuss, with his independent streak and love of the silly. Happy Birthday, Tobin! I can’t wait to see what this year brings!


Birthday Party Fun ~ Super Mario Style!

For two years Nicholas has wanted a Super Mario Birthday Party. I didn’t get my act together it time for last year so Sponge Bob stepped in, but this year N got his Mario. As I tend to do for the boys’ birthdays, I stuck with solid-colored party supplies with a few of the theme touches to decorate. It seems to be so much less expensive that way (and the kids are still happy). William was so much help with making the decorations (especially the Question Boxes). Even when the man thinks I’m crazy with these birthday parties, he just sort of shakes his head and gives me whatever help I need. That’s a good Daddy and husband right there!

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Heather, who captured these images of all of our kids having fun and helping my big boy celebrate. So here are some of the highlights from the Super Mario Party!

Decorations & Food

Question Boxes! They looked better before the wind tangled the mushrooms and stars together, but I still liked how they looked.

1 Up Marshmallows! I got this idea from Paisley Petal Events, and she was sweet enough to give me tips. The kids all loved them and I loved how they looked.


Power Up Punch (aka, lemon-lime Kool Aid). I used the figures and toys that Nicholas already had to add to the decorations. I thought Luigi was perfect here!


I had planned to make a Wii remote cake, but N wanted a round cake with his toys on it. The toys turned out to be too heavy, but he was happy with the cool candles.

Thanks to my crafty friends Rachel and Pam, I made these cool tie-dye cupcakes, with star sprinkles of course!


We kept the rest of the food simple with fruit, veggies and pizza. Water and lemon aid rounded out the drink selection. With lots and lots of ice on a very hot day.

The entertainment at an outside party, in June, in South Texas better include water! We borrowed my cousin’s inflatable water slide, we broke out the sprinkler and we got a kiddie pool (which only the big kids used!). And of course a big ol’ Super Mario pinata!


And I will leave you with a Pop Rock-covered smile

I would love to see your favorite party decorations! I need to start thinking about next year!

Six Happy Birthdays!

Dear Nicholas,

I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since you were born. I can’t believe I’m so lucky that I get to be your Mom. The year from 5 to 6 has been amazing. You grew so much, had your first year of “real” school, matured so much, and continue to take care of your baby brother. I am so proud of you and who you are becoming. I’m a little sad too, though. It seems like I blink and you grow more independent. It makes be proud and sad, I wonder how much longer you’ll want to snuggle before bed; but, maybe I should wonder how much longer your long legs will fit on my lap. From the moment the nurse put you in my arms, you have been a calm point in my life. I’m able to hold my patience with you much longer than with anyone else. I think those big blue eyes have something to do with it. I’m so glad I am your Mom and I can’t wait to see you grow this year!



Nicholas, 6.7.05

Nicholas, May 2011

My Birthday-Easter Combo

We had such a great weekend! The great thing about my birthday falling on Easter is that I’m pretty much guaranteed that my whole family will be there to celebrate. So, here’s the recap of my wonderful Easter birthday. It started with three cute boys (one grown, two still growing) wishing me a Happy Easter while tackling me in bed (including a very slobbery kiss from the littlest one). Then Nicholas enjoyed digging through his Easter basket and helping Tobin with his basket. The University of Texas-themed chocolate bunnies were a hit (because they were chocolate as neither boy cared at all what was on the package). Then I got my gift from William and the boys, a sweet onsie charm for my charm bracelet (to mark T’s birth…I have a rocking-horse for N’s birth).

Eventually we headed to Grandma’s where the rest of our day went like this…

Chocolate Bunny Easter shirts FTW! From my talented friends at 2 Mamas Tees.










Cascarones! I just got the last of the confetti out of my hair tonight. I think.










Smashing Innocent Rabbits for their sweet insides! Our rabbit was lined with Spanish-language newspaper. My friend got a bigger pinata from the same stand. Hers was lined with Spanish-language nudey girl pictures. True story.









The Mighty Egg Hunter! One of them at least.








My blessings. True story.








Sometimes you need help blowing out the candles (and keeping an eye on the ceiling, apparently).









It was the perfect Birthday-Easter combo. What was your favorite part of the Easter holidays this year?