"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Treasure Hunting

The birthday party was a huge success yesterday! Ryley and her friends loved it.

I have to say that one of my favorite parts of the whole thing was planning the treasure hunt with Ryan. We stayed up late Friday night writing clues and devising a plan to actually bury a treasure chest in our yard, an idea which didn’t pan out in daylight (but Ryan’s last-minute improvisation was amazing). I just love being married to my best friend.

I won’t bore you with a complete play-by-play, but here are some images from the hunt. The first clue was found in the fridge.


Thinking hard and discussing solutions:




The hunt took them off the premises:



And back:


We took a little snack break after Clue #9:


Then they continued the search with a key hidden in a book on our bookshelves. Ryan used a knife to carve it in and everything. Don’t worry; the book is stupid. :-)


Then they had to assemble the puzzle with all the pieces they had collected along the way:



X marks the spot:


Only the ground was too rocky to dig a hole and bury the treasure in the allotted time we had before the party. So Ryan added one more clue…


…leading them to the crawlspace:

Cries of “Jackpot!” “Woohoo!”



They were given bags to fill with loot:



Amirah is a ham!!!


We followed the treasure hunt with cupcakes, presents, and trampoline:



Cheers !



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Ryley said it was her best birthday party yet, and we tend to agree.

But next year, let’s do something that requires less work! ;-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

“Something Wonderful Is Happening to Me!”

I can hardly believe our little girl turned eight years old on Saturday! When she was born, we had absolutely no idea what an amazing miracle and blessing her life would turn out to be. We’re genuinely crazy about her!


Ryan had Friday off of work, so he took Ryley shopping at the little upscale boutiques in the Cherry Creek district where he works. It actually ended up being an impromptu “date” for them, which was super sweet!

And she actually came home with her ears pierced!

They didn’t set out to get her ears pierced, but it’s been something Ryley’s been thinking about for several months, and once she got up the courage, they decided to just do it!!!! Such a young lady!!

Later that evening, another big surprise was in store! My aunt and uncle came over, and while Coleen, Ryley, and I went “shoe shopping,” Ryan and Paul assembled the trampoline that all of us had pitched together and bought used from one of their neighbors. And when we finally got home, she was soooooo excited and surprised!

“Something wonderful is happening to me!” she told my mom on the phone.


She quickly changed clothes so she could bounce a little more modestly. :-)




But the assembly wasn’t done until after dark!!! Full-fledged bouncing would have to wait for another day!

On Saturday morning, Ryley woke us up at 5:45, ready to start festivities. We convinced her to let us sleep until 7:00, then it was time for a few presents!


More than gifts, I am all about “experiences.” Like, I would prefer a perfect day as a family to just about any gift for myself. I want to instill that same mindset in Ryley, so we are trying to make each birthday a day of special memories by doing something we wouldn’t ordinarily do (or spend money on).

We told Ryley we had a birthday activity in store, and somehow we let it “slip” that we would be attending a tour of a sausage factory downtown. As we drove closer and closer to the “factory,” I saw real tears in my daughter’s eyes. She was trying so hard to be grateful.

“But I don’t even like sausage,” she said, as sweetly as she could muster.

So you can imagine the joy when we pulled up in front of Elitch’s, our city’s amusement park! She had never, ever been there before, so she was THRILLED. She had also won a ticket through our city’s summer reading program, so that helped with the cost of admission!



It was a different experience than what Ryan and I had imagined for her. It turns out that Ryley is not nearly as “brave” as Ryan and I are (or were when we were her age) when it comes to thrill rides. So it took some coaxing to get her to finally go on a real rollercoaster, and in general, she preferred to stick to the basics.




She had a blast though.




Elitch’s has a water park too, and I had snuck her bathing suit in the bag, so we spent the last 45 minutes of our day there. That may have been her favorite part.



That evening we had her birthday dinner and also visited the American Girl store so she could spend her birthday money on something she has been eyeing for months: a sister for Elisabeth (pictured below).



Her new doll is on the right:


She named her Rebecca at first, but after several days of calling her Jessica by mistake, she decided that “Jessica” must be meant to be. :-)

On Sunday she had some fun on the trampoline, at long last:


Daddy got out the water hose, and Juliet wanted to get in on the fun too!





“Ryley, are you tired?”

“No. Just sitting.” :-)


And when Mommy or Daddy can’t be out there to supervise, Ryley has come up with another use for the trampoline: reading with her puppy in the shade!


Looking back at this post, it would seem that it looks like we spoiled Ryley on her birthday. Yeah. Maybe we did a little. Or a lot. Honestly, we didn’t set out with an intention to spend a lot of money, and we did get a lot of good deals. We’re also thankful that Ryan had gotten an extra paycheck that arrived the week before, which we hadn’t expected and which enabled us to spend a little extra. Ryley was super thankful for everything, and she even wrote each of us a thankyou note, completely unsolicited. Ha ha!!!

Thank you to all of her family members who blessed her so much too!!!! She was overwhelmed and extremely appreciative!


Tonight Ryan worked late, so Ryley and I met our dear friends Sarah, Rachel, and Benjamin at the park for a country music “Concert in the Park.” It was super fun!!! Great conversation, atmosphere, and friendship!



It’s hard to tell, but they’re “dancing”!




That steeple belongs to the church/school where Ryley attends daycare this summer. It was right next to the park where we attended the concert. I like how the picture turned out!


This weekend we are having a birthday party for Ryley with a few of her friends from school. It is a treasure hunt (which we have yet to come up with), so wish us luck!

I’m sure there will be pictures up here chronicling the treasure hunt…eventually. ;-)