“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”

FullSizeRender[1]By the time the last day of school before the holiday break starts most of us are ready.  Some of us are so haggard with events and parties we may even exclaim “I just want to poke my eyes out!” But God gave me a Christmas Baby, and he gave me the energy, stamina and creativity, I believe, to do both the holiday activities and Embug’s birthday with equal energy and excitement.

Lucky for me, Embug loves all things Christmas and I have given extra effort to keeping her birthday special in the mix of all the holiday hullabaloo. Even though I do everything to separate the events of Christmas and her birthday, it has become a natural process to integrate the themes of the season into her birthday.  This year was no exception.

This year my biggest challenge was not to keep it special for Embug… but to make it “cool” for my blossoming Tween. We’ve tried small intimate birthday celebrations and big “on site” birthday events. Either have had their set of challenges. Most of our difficulties lie in scheduling a time when there weren’t conflicts with everyone getting to her party due to parentals having holiday events of their own.

To try to plan for the least amount of conflict we planned for the evening on the last day of school. Most parentals have had their company or neighborhood parties and kids events are over. Now we just run into those that may be headed out of town for family holiday events or vacation.

The second challenge, which is a new one for us this year, is making it appealing for both boys and girls. This is where the collaboration between myself and Embug came into play. One of Embug’s favorite movies is “A Christmas Story.” Over the course of several discussions with her friends she discovered that this was not a well-watched Christmas movie by her peers. After she got over the initial indignation of the lack of Christmas culture, an idea arose. Embug and I devised a plan to have “A Christmas Story” Themed Birthday party.

Christmas Story Invite frontChristmas Story Invite BackThis party involved PJs (footie PJs preferred), BB Gun target practice with a Red Rider BB gun, fried rice and egg rolls in honor of the Chinese Restaurant where Ralphie’s family was relegated to after the Bumpus’ hounds destroyed the Christmas turkey, and a viewing of the Cult-Acclaimed “A Christmas Story.” What tween boy or girl would not enjoy this event?

 

 

The evening arrived and there was an excited buzz in our home.  The fried rice and egg rolls were a FullSizeRender[1]surprising hit and the party guests couldn’t get enough of the BB gun target practice. While some didn’t have quite the artistic appreciation for the movie, Embug was content in knowing she had passed on yet another nugget of Christmas culture to her friends.

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While we didn’t have cake. Cake pops were all the rage with flavors of lemon, red velvet, vanilla and FullSizeRender_2[1]chocolate done in thFullSizeRender_4[1]e shapes of the “Frah-gee-lay” box, Target with the words “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”, lampshade from the “Leg Lamp Award”, and Ralphie “Bunny PJs” head.

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It was a success all the way through. I have the evidence to prove it, as over and over again Embug thanked me for a great party.

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I only have about 6 more years of birthday parties that I will be able to plan for her before she’s out on her own, and I realize that the next 6 years will probably be some of the most challenging parties to plan, but I am going to enjoy the success of this one.

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However, any and all suggestions for future parties are welcome!

Family, Football and Faith

It doesn’t happen every year, but we try as best we can to go to at least one home Razorback game in Fayetteville. With my sister now living in Farmington (a small country town near Fayetteville) and my parents in Little Rock, coming to a game is a family event, for the four of us and beyond.

We packed up the car and headed to Fayetteville this November for the last home game against Ole Miss. We drove up hopeful for a win, but the sting of loss with every home game we had been to the last few years in the back of our minds. With that the forecast was for 100% chance of rain with temperatures in the low 50s.

This was not a game for the faint-hearted. Only the committed need attend… and attend they did. Despite the rain the Hogs shutout the Ole Miss Rebels 30-0 to a nearly full Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Even better, we, as a family, were there to witness in person.

With my sister’s family and her kids with us at the game, we cheered on our Hogs with unbridled enthusiasm and joy. Being a Razorback has been a part of who I was a child, then attended the University where I received my Bachelor’s in Education. I even married a second generation Razorback.  The Hog blood runs deep.

It is no coincidence that are kids have aspirations to attend the University of Arkansas. While those future plans may not be realized, the memories and the love for the Razorbacks will continue. There is no doubt memories were made with this game, where this shutout with ranked Ole’ Miss was epic.

After the game on Saturday the kids went to  my sister’s to have cousin time, while Eric and I met up with one of my former students, Kelley Whitson and her boyfriend. We enjoyed amazing gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches at “Hammontrees.” Their homemade soups and their multitude of twists on the basic grilled cheese are incredible both in taste and creativity. After great conversation and sandwiches, we made our way down Dickson Street to check out the night life. We quickly became aware that we are no longer “night life” people. Plan B led us to our favorite college eatery, “Hugo’s.” There we had their famous grasshopper crepes. We wrapped the night with a walk on the Fayetteville Square already lit up for Christmas… complete with Christmas Razorbacks!

Hog Christmas Lights

The following day we enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner with my sister, her family and my parents that came up for the game from Little Rock. We had a great time reflecting on our blessings, laughing and eating delicious home-prepared food in my sister’s home. Food, family and faith… that’s what brings us together, connects us, and holds us together.  For that, I am thankful.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Crazy Hat Birthday Party

Kritterman wanted a crazy hat birthday party for his theme this year.  Frankly it had me stumped.  The first thing I did was do a full search on Pinterest.  Lots of Dr. Seuss themed birthday ideas with the red white striped hat and lots or Halloween witch hat ideas… but epic fail on crazy hats.  I, by nature, am not creative when it comes to an ORIGINAL idea.  What I am decent at is being an #ideabandit and augmenting the idea to suit my ideas and needs.

Panic began to set in.  What am I going to do? Then it hit me.  What is the whole reason he wants a crazy hat themed party? To have fun and be silly with his friends.

So, then it was about focusing on him and his targeted goal.  This involved getting his favorite cupcakes from Mugs Bakery. He doesn’t like just any cupcakes… this boy likes “Dark Chocolate Grenache Raspberry Filled Cupcakes.” Ordering sub sandwiches from the Walmart Deli (which was a deal: 6 foot long 2 meat, 1 cheese with lettuce, tomato, pickle, mustard and mayonaise for $32!), which was his request with Puff Cheetos and sliced watermelon.  Finally, all I had left to plan was the main event.  I decided to go with a game truck, but when I went online I discovered that they would set up a laser tag even on your property.  I once again consulted the soon-to-be birthday boy what he would prefer.   Hands down he chose the laser tag through a local affiliate of the Game Truck company.

My panic turned to peace.  This was going to be a great crazy hat birthday party after all.

I had Kritter fill out the invitations (post cards provided by Game Truck) and he added for every attendee to wear a crazy hat.

I did forget a few things along the way.  Balloons, matching plates and napkins for cute birthday decor for whatever reason escaped my to do list.  Did it ruin anything?  You decide…

It turned out to be a great party. The Game Truck Laser Tag was amazing (Eric, my husband was very impressed and gave them a generous tip).  Kritter loved the sub sandwiches and cupcakes.  Was it a crazy hat birthday party?  If you ask him, it was.  Did he have a great time having fun and being silly? 100%… MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

You want proof?  Here’s a video slide show capturing some of the fun:

Moral to the story: Focus on the fun, don’t stress the details and don’t let Pinterest rob your joy.  Simple and silly is always better than cute and matching.

Goodbye, Dear Jan…

Today I woke.  Convinced myself that running while it was thundering outside may result in a lightning strike, and attempted to rest.  Unsuccessful, I did what many do once they wake up, check my Facebook feed.  There it was, Jan had left this world to join her Heavenly Father.  Free from cancer, sin and the other perils of this sinful world.  I must have been holding my breath, because I gasped for air and then quietly let the tears fall.

I am happy she is no longer suffering, but selfishly I want her here.

Mostly because I want the time I wasted when she was here to fix all the missed birthdays, opportunities to visit with her, and a second go around at being a better friend.  Be the friend she was to me.  I know she forgave my absent minded, busy, self-focused excuses, but now I am left with forgiving myself.

Jan was the first real friend I had when I moved to Waco.  From the Facebook posts I have read, I am not the only one she was the “Welcome Wagon” to Waco.  She was the one who brought me to a church family at Columbus Avenue, when I was struggling to find a church home.  As we became closer, she was my walking partner, craft/stamper partner in crime, and mentor.

Jan showed me how blessed it is to be a mother and wife.  She modeled how to “make” memories with her family and “make” cinnamon candy at Christmas.

  Gohring cinnamon candy Gohring friends and family

When my own mother and family were too far away for holidays and baby showers, she eagerly jumped in to provide those moments.

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Christmas with Jan her Family and Eric and I

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Jan as lead hostess at my Baby Shower for my first born

Jan never missed a moment to foster, develop and deepen relationships with others.  She would talk with you all night and then make you pancackes in the morning… she never left a heart or tummy empty at her home.

There were very few that came in to see me when I was still in my delivery “garb” when I had Embug.  With her there was no question she should be there.  For a scared first time mom, her hugs and words of reassurance were all I needed.

Gohring Ems birth

I wish I could say I did the same for her. She was amazing.  Unlimitless love, devotion and friendship.

It was evident not only in her, but her children.  Steve(her husband) and Jan loved each other and their kids ferociously.  Their kids loved everyone around them as well.

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Scott (Jan’s youngest) holding Embug under Jan’s watchful eye.

The service is Saturday.  It will be a tearful, yet joyful celebration of Jan’s life and her new life in Heaven.  I know many will miss her, I definitely will.  What I will mourn, though, are the moments I did not take, and the opportunities I let slip by to do as Jan did, and live a life of ferocious, intentional and passionate love for others.

I am so thankful for the brief time that I had the blessing of being in Jan’s life.  She taught me so many lessons about motherhood, marriage, friendship and crafting, yes, crafting.

On Saturday, Jan’s family has asked us to bring purple handmade cards with our sentiments inside.  I have been hanging on to the one below for some time… card gohring

Why? I am not sure.  I wish I had already sent it to her and had no purple card, but had to make a new one.  I have some time to think about what I will write inside, but as of now… I have no idea what to say.  I just keep thinking of what should have been said before my dear friend Jan was no longer here.

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