Saturday, June 30, 2012


Ben asked us for his own pet a couple years ago and we said, “Maybe, when you’re 6, you can have a pet rat.” He, of course, remembers this conversation with amazing accuracy. So, as we approached his 6th birthday this month I did some research and we set out to add two new critters to our family.
First, we got my old rat cage down from the attic. (Yes, I have had a rat before. They’re actually pretty awesome pets if you can get over their creepy tails and the fact that they’re, well, rats).

Ben cleaned it up and got it all ready for his new friends.

Ben’s birthday gift this year was “rat stuff” so we filled up the cage and tried to make it homey and fun!

We will definitely be keeping the cage somewhere high and away from Captain Mischeif!

On Thursday we went to the pet store and pick out the little guys (girls, actually). Ben named them Hammy & Sophia.  They’re about 8-10 weeks old and cute as can be.

It is really, really hard to get good pictures of rats, as you can imagine.
They don’t exactly sit still and smile for the camera.

This is Hammy. She is almost all white, but she has some dark spots on her back and forehead.

This is Sophia. She is a greyish brown with a white belly and a white spot on her back.

I was a little nervous the first couple of days we were home because Hammy set up camp on the top floor while Sophia staked her claim on the little rat igloo downstairs. They didn’t seem to be interacting much at all. This morning, though, they were snuggled together in the igloo and they seem to have become friends. (Cue the James Taylor music.)

Hammy…. where are you?!
Here I am!

The little gals are currently terrified of us and stay bunked down in their igloo during the day, but we’re looking forward to getting to know them once they get a little more comfortable.

Building Bears

My Mom has been wanting to take the kids to Build-a-Bear since forever, so we decided to go for Ben’s birthday. Mom helped Ben pick out his rabbit and the clothes. I thought we were just going to do Ben this time around (because it was his birthday), but then Gracie batted her eyes at Sweetie and Paw Paw and guess who ended up with a bear of her own.

Here is Ben, stuffing his bunny.

And then giving the bunny brains and love (and other stuff I don’t remember) by playing with the little heart.

Making a wish before he put the heart into his bunny.

All stuffed and ready to go!

Gracie was next in line, although Noah was doing a little shopping of his own. He picked out some crazy looking stuffed monkey and tried to get in on the action. “Hey guys, wait up! I’m coming!”

Ben thought Noah’s monkey business was pretty hilarious. Grace just looks annoyed that he was interrupting her bear stuffing time.

Gracie testing out the snuggliness of her bear. “Pretty dood”

Next it was time to wash, dry, & brush their new friends.


Sweetie helped them to dress bear & bunny. Ben decided on a Spurs outfit.

And Grace went for a bit more color because, you know, ‘the rainbow bear was looking a little bit drab.

Ben & “Fuzzy”

Grace & “Sparkles” who has since been renamed “Sprinkles” & then “Share Bear” & then “Cheer Bear”.

Thank you, Sweetie & Paw Paw for our new friends!

Friday, June 29, 2012

An Alligator Swamp Party!

We celebrated our sweet Ben’s 6th birthday today. Please excuse me while I crawl into the fetal position and cry for a few minutes.

OK. I’m back… let’s talk about the party. I turned Ben loose on a kids’ party idea website last month (what was I thinking?!) and he decided that he wanted an “Alligator Swamp Party”. You might think that I was thrilled with this theme, given my South Louisiana Cajun heritage, but I must admit that I have not watched a single episode of Swamp People. I was a little bit lost in the beginning. Thanks to Pinterest, things were back on track pretty quickly!

We are so excited that our new neighborhood has a pool, and it also has a covered picnic area adjacent to the pool that residents can reserve. Swamp theme + 100 degree June weather = Pool Party!

 Once we had the location and theme set, I got to work on the invitations. Ben loved them! :)
Ben 6th Invite

His party ended up being pretty small (a drawback of having a birthday near the 4th of July – everyone always seems to be out of town). Regardless, he had a blast swimming with his friends and eating lots of yummy food and treats.

Happy Birthday, Benji!

The birthday banner

For this party, I just planned the food around the swamp theme. There really wasn’t anything else to plan because we just played (and played and played and played) in the pool!

We had potato chips, watermelon, chocolate covered strawberries, grape ka-bobs, lime jell-o, dirt cake, green Hawaiian punch, and swamp dogs (aka hot dogs).


The birthday cake had a swamp scene complete with a tree stump, cattails, a frog, a snake, and an alligator.


 For favors, Ben and I made some homemade gak using this recipe. We put it in little push pop containers with a little wrapper that said “Enjoy some swamp slime!”

I was able to snag one picture with my two (when they came by to scout the food table).

Two of my favorite guys, ready for a swim.

After a quick bite to eat, it was splash time. They played HARD until it was time for cake. In fact, Ithink this was the first party where I’ve had to initiate cake time – normally they’re bugging me about it from the time the festivities start! Hooray for parties at the pool!

 Cheetohs + swimming = best day ever!

I love how Noah’s shirt rides up his belly like Pooh Bear.

I picked up this cute ring toss alligator game on Amazon. They boys tossed rings for a bit. Then they wrestled the gator and rode him around the pool a lot!

Then Brian decided they should try to toss rings at Ben.

Nice cannon ball, Jonhenry!

Splashing around with Tanner

Gracie usually sticks to the kiddie pool, but her little inner tube gave her the confidence she needed to jump into the deep swamp waters!

Checking for gators…




All that jumping & swimming was hard work – so it was nice to be able to join Sweetie for a relaxing float.

Paw Paw was in charge of keeping Noah from drowning. Sometimes he was more successful than others.

Thankfully Noah’s bestie, Rylan was around to cheer him up!

Brian had a friend to play with, too. :)

I was finally able to drag the boys out of the pool for cake. Brian & Randy miraculously lit the candles (despite the crazy strong breeze), and we sang to Ben.

Ben did a great job blowing out his SIX candles (while JH gobbled a gator tail in the background.)

Before his friends left, they each gave Ben a sweet gift. Jonhenry was showing him how to work the little basketball game that he gave Ben. Such concentration.

Tanner, JH & Ben trying to warm up – it was chilly outside of the pool.

Ben had a great time with his buddies! The boys all played so well together and really tired themselves OUT! I’m guessing that Ben will be requesting lots of pool parties in the future.

Once again, I can’t believe my BABY is SIX!!! Didn’t he just look like this?
Ben's 1st picture

Happy Birthday, Benji Bear!