Thursday, 29 November 2012

A Birthday, A Princess Party & A Few Fireworks

I'm a couple of weeks late on this post but my baby girl turned 6 in November she is my first child and my first daughter and I will never ever forgot that rush of love I felt for her, that fierce "I will walk to the ends of the earth for you" love, that I still feel today for both my daughters. So it was lovely to celebrate another milestone in her life.
My Newborn - 6 years ago

And that milestone was her 6th Birthday. Although Ruby was poorly on her birthday and off school with a fever and cold. I had planned to make Ruby her favourite breakfast Chocolate Chip Pancakes instead she got up rather subdued, opened her presents and then went back to bed. She was very excited about her presents and loved them all.

Ruby loved her presents - Princess Celestia from Auntie Lesley, Tu Tu pyjamas from Uncle Gary and Auntie Lisa and Ava, Lego Friends from us, a great sleeveless jacket from Auntie B and Freya, the best tiara ever from (God) Mummy Mel & (God) Daddy Chris and not forgetting the lovely presents from Jamie and Ally too of which Princess Kitty now accompanies Ruby to bed every night.

In the afternoon Ruby had perked up a enough to start her new Lego Friends kit and take delivery of her present from Grannie & Grandad which arrived in time on her birthday and it was a fabulous bike

Ruby's new bike arrived

And Grandad put it together without the pedals and stabilizers so she could get use to balancing the bike in preparation for when she learns to ride a bike properly,that's if we can pry her away from her scooter. Tilly was super excited too as she got Ruby's old bike bless her.

It didn't take long for Ruby to be over her cold and just in time for her Princess Party.

The day before Ruby's Princess Party and with Ruby at school, Tilly and I made the sugar cookies for cookie decorating at the party - we choose princess themed cookies, we made the party goodie bags, filled with princess goodies and big thanks to Mel for making the party bags a big hit as she'd sent us some tiara's and princess goodies we used for the bags. Grannie & Tilly wrapped the pass the parcel game and Grandad was in charge of making sure the cookies didn't burn in the oven.

Tilly adding the flour - she's my little helper
Castle, Crowns and Shoe cookie to bake

Mr C our resident birthday cake maker got making the cake for Ruby''s Party - she'd requested a Princess Cake (you know the one with the doll sticking out of the top) and Mr C rose to the challenge.

We got most things cooked, baked and prepared the night before, we just had to do a quick tidy up, collect the balloons, thank you Grandad for getting those and Mr C had to finish off icing the cake on the day of the party, so Grannie and I left the men folk to it and we took the girls to have their nails painted at a salon, it was a surprise for Ruby and boy did she love it, they both did.

Ruby picks the colour of her choice for her nails
Two little ducks drying Tilly's nail polish
Ruby's turn at the nail bar.

After our visit to the nail bar, it was time to get dressed for the party and wait for the guests - it was an all girl Princess Party (no boys allowed) and all the girls turned up as their favorite Princess it was so cute. Ruby originally wanted to dress up as Sleeping beauty (her favourite) until she received this gorgeous dress from Mummy Mel - it was just perfect for her party and the tiara Mummy Mel sent too went with it perfectly.

Princess Ruby

Once all the guests had arrived our first activity was decorate your our tiara - I'd bought some pre cut tiara's, stickers, marker pens, glitter and gems for the girls to make their own tiaras it was a great activity and kept them busy for ages.

Busy making Tiaras

Once the tiaras where done, we had a round of pass the parcel with Mr C and Grannie, whilst I set the table for snacks, then it was time for the girls to tuck in. Grannie had made finger sandwiches and I made the pink macaroons and pink popcorn recipes here and here.

Table fit for a Princes
My Pink Popcorn
Add caption

After the food feast, it was time for a round of "put Cinderella in the window" basically a princess version of pin the tail on the donkey, we also had another round of pass the parcel and some freeze dancing also known as musical statues again with Mr C, whilst Grannie and I got the table ready for some cookie decorating yeah.....

The Princess version of Pin the tail
Cookie Decorating
Icing, sprinkles, m&m's

And after the cookie decorating and another round of freeze dancing it was time to do the cake - Mr C's moment to shine with the Princess cake he had loving made, baked and decorated all by his own hand, we were all very impressed with it.

The fabulous Princess Cake
Mr C knows he's done a good job again
Ruby ready to blow out the candles

So with Happy birthday sang to Ruby she blew out the candles and we all had a piece, then it was back to more freeze dancing as the girls loved it some much.

Freeze Dancing Mania
The 3 Snow Whites

And with the Princesses all danced out it was time to say goodbye to the Princesses before the clock struck 4pm and they all turned back to little girls.

After a fabulous and rather successful party, I would like to say our evening ended there, but after a quick tidy up, we hit the streets to go into Chicago to watch the grand Tree-Lighting Parade down Michigan Avenue, over 40 floats travelled 1.2 miles down Michigan Ave marshaled by Mickey & Minnie Mouse and it was spectacular although we weren't quite on Michigan Ave but near Trump Tower by the river, we did had a good view plus we got to see some reindeer up close.

The best bit of the evening was the spectacular fireworks show over the river that started when the parade finished and where going off a barge on the river right in front of us it was fantastic.

Tilly and the Reindeer
Spectacular Fireworks over the river
Chicago sure knows how to put on a display

And if that wasn't too much excitement for the night, we ended the evening at a pizza restaurant for dinner - it was a great day everything came together perfectly and we couldn't have done it so good without the help of Grannie & Grandad they were a big huge help thank you.

And to quote Ruby "It was the best party ever Mummy"

Friday, 23 November 2012

Our First Thanksgiving

and I had the day was lovely.

We were very excited to celebrate our first Thanksgiving in America and very lucky we had family here too celebrate it with as Grannie & Grandad are visiting.

Mr C & Grannie got the preparations started on the eve of Thanksgiving, with Mr C making the Cranberry Sauce and preparing the "pigs in blankets" also known as chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon and Grannie made the homemade stuffing.

Mr C's homemade Cranberry sauce with the "special" ingredient
Grannie's Homemade Stuffing

The day of Thanksgiving started well we had a lovely family breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon along with Bucks Fizz (or as the Americans call them Mimosa) and cups of tea. After clearing away the breakfast table Grannie picked a jigsaw for us all to do, Mr C, Grannie, Grandad and the girls got stuck into the jigsaw whilst I got stuck into some online shopping and hit the Black Friday online sales, there were lots of bargains to be had and I did nearly all of my Christmas shopping at Macy's online within a couple of hours - result.

Grannie & Grandad enjoying a Mimosa

Mr C, Grannie & Grandad got on with preparing the lunch/dinner whilst still doing the jigsaw, the girls and I did a bit of Lego Friends building and it wasn't long before it was lunch/dinner time and we were about to enjoy our first Thanksgiving dinner - Turkey and all the trimmings - it was absolutely divine.

The "Bootiful" Turkey
Yummy yummy sausages

During our lunch we also had a special "Thankerchief"- made by Tilly at her pre-school with a set of instructions that read How To Use The Thankerchief - Everyone who is gathered for your holiday celebration will get a turn to hold the "Thankerchief" and share with the others the things for which they are most thankful.  We thought this was such a lovely idea that after our meal, starting with Tilly, we gave thanks for the things we are most thankful for. It was a special moment.

Tilly's Thankerchief

With our bellies full we retreated to the lounge to watch a family movie - Grandad picked a great movie Home Alone - set here in Chicago and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Whilst watching the movie Mr C set about making a Pumpkin Pie for dessert and after the movie we certainly enjoyed eating it with ice-cream.

Pumpkin Pie fresh out of the oven
Pumpkin Pie ready for eating

We had such a lovely family day it almost felt like Christmas Day, but without the presents and bonus we get to do it all over again in just over a month with presents this time.

And that was our first Thanksgiving in America and I like to think we did it in true American(British/Australian) style.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Relaxing in Mexico

Our Slice of Heaven -Cabo San Lucas

Mr C surprised me a month ago with the news he had booked us a few kid free days away in Mexico, a country he has always wanted to visit and whilst he waited with genuine excitement for my excited reaction, it didn't come I'm afraid to say and why, well because of three things, I hate surprises, I hate flying (despite my many travels around the world) and I hate being away from my kids. I did not take the news well.

Fast forward to Tuesday night, the night before the flight, I'm a mess, a complete and utter mess, yes I will admit to it I was a bawling mess, no amount of reasoning could pull me up from the depths of my despair at leaving my children, but by Wednesday morning the day of the flight, I was packed and ready to go to visit my 7th Country in 12 months and a little bit excited I will admit.

And of course, the girls hardly batted an eyelid at my tearful departure they were too busy watching Spongebob and looking forward to what Grannie & Grandad had planned for them.

Mexico here we come, after a 4 hour flight we arrived in the beautiful Cabo San Lucas, only in Mexico could there be a bar literally attached to the arrivals gate, so with a refreshing Corona in hand we eagerly awaited our transport to our hotel, well in Mexico do what the Mexicans do I say

The Bar just outside the arrivals gate

Our hotel was gorgeous, we stayed at the Villa Del Arco hotel, our suite was divine, the pool area was fantastic, there was a great kids pool too, my first thought was we should have brought the kids, my second thought was next time we'll bring the kids see I can do this going away without the kids business. Not only were the pools great, but there was 3 restaurants - one was a pirate ship in one of the pools, the hotel was on the beachfront too, so you could lounge down on the beach, there was a spa too, it was a great hotel.

The afternoon of our arrival we spent leisurely by the pool, had an earlier dinner at a great restaurant called Haciendas - except for me,  tiredness had overcome my appetite and poor Mr C had to try and eat 2 starters and a main course by himself.

Pool view at night

The next day started with a lovely leisurely breakfast with a gorgeous view of the sea. After breakfast, we hit the sun loungers for some rest and relaxation, mine in the shade and Mr C in the hot hot sun, as the weather was perfect. I've decided I'm a shade worshipper, I will seek out shade wherever I go. In between the dips in the pool, reading our books, people watching, a few drinks, lunch by the pool and sun/shade bathing we had a great relaxing afternoon, with a massage booked for the next day we were pretty chilled.

Dinner that night we chose the one of the hotel restaurants El Faro, a fish and sushi bar - and it was divine,  the sushi was so good, I thought the prawns/shrimps had practically jumped out of the sea and landed on our plates.

The next day was much the same as the last day, except we had the couples massage - 80 mins of pure joy - we both went for their signature massage which was a combination of relaxing, deep tissue, hot stones and reflexology massage - it was wonderful - mental note must book more massages they do wonders for the soul.

After the massages we decided to walk along the beach into the town,  we bought a few souvenirs off the beach guys for the girls, had a look around the Marina and then went for an early dinner.  We found a lovely place called Sharky's an authentic Mexican restaurant, cheap good food what could be better.

This lady was clearly not impressed by Mr C

Our last day - well the only downside to your last day anywhere is, I find, you are really just waiting around until it is time to for your flight. I happened to wake up at 5.15am and reading Mr Grey didn't put me back to sleep so I got up and decided to watch the sunrise, it has been a long time since I last watched a sunrise, and I'm glad I did, although I knew I was missing my last possible sleep in now for awhile it was worth it.

After another lovely long lazy breakfast, we packed and checked out, then hit the sun loungers for our last few hours of relaxing in the sun and pool, happy days, as it wasn't long before we were in the hospitality suite showering and changing for our journey home.

However the lovely upside of the airport was the lovely outside bar, so after checking in, we enjoyed a couple more Coronas before boarding our flight home.

And as I hate flying, I did to pass the time take my knitting with me, brilliant idea I thought as I managed to start and finish this lovely cowl from I started it on the flight down and finished it on the flight back. I was very pleased.

As too was Tilly when she saw it the next day and decided to wear it - which then gave me the great idea to knit a few more for the girls as it is truly getting cold here.

Here's my little monkey being silly in my cowl.

Despite hating surprises, flying and being away from the girls, I can honestly say I had a wonderful relaxing, and carefree break, it did wonders for my soul, and we both had a fantastic time, however Mr C has promised never to surprise me quite like that again.

And of course we couldn't have done it without the fabulous Grannie & Grandad (Mr C's Mum & Dad) who had kindly offered to look after the girls for us, big big huge thanks to them both as they truly got the rough end of this deal, although the girls did have plenty of fun with them and didn't miss us.

And it goes without saying that it was truly great to see the girls again and smother them in huggles and kisses.

I would highly recommend Cabo San Lucas as a holiday destination for all, it was pure heaven and, if you can manage to pry yourself away from the sun loungers, there is plenty to do as well - Cruises, sightseeing, dolphins, whales, snorkeling, diving, horseback riding, camel rides, the list goes on.