Tag Archives: birthday

Eli’s 6th Birthday

Eli has finally reached the big S-I-X. This year he wanted to have a sleep over for his birthday party. After a bit of waffling and contemplating, Shelley and I decided to float the idea with some of his friend’s parents. Most parents polled seemed agreeable to the idea. We sent out the invitations and 7 of Eli’s friends RSVP in the affirmative. On the official day, January 27th, Eli got to pick his restaurant of choice. He picked Dewey’s Pizza. We ate and proceeded home to open his family gifts.

Look at the 6th birthday lootLook at the 6th birthday loot
Shelley lights the candles on the ice creamShelley lights the candles on the ice cream
Shelly and EliShelly and Eli
Cool Star Wars collector stampsCool Star Wars collector stamps
More DS gamesMore DS games
A shirt with ChewieA shirt with Chewie
Legos rock!Legos rock!

Then Friday, sleep over time, rolled around. The event kicked off with some crazy “run around the house and shoot Nerf guns” time.  In order to regain order, we went had everyone sit and eat some chili and grilled cheese. The night consisted of bouts of chaos and order. The night wound down with cake, presents, pictures, and then bed time preparation. The kids then piled on the downstairs couch and watched Star Wars Clone Wars. This put the bunch into a trance and acted as a nice tranquilizer before bed. Everyone went down without issue and the night was considered a grand success.

The 6th birthday cakeThe 6th birthday cake
Mathew chomps a grilled cheeseMathew chomps a grilled cheese
Hannah and EliHannah and Eli
Aidan and EliAidan and Eli
Brooke's giftsBrooke’s gifts
Cody and EliCody and Eli
Silly face pictureSilly face picture
Eli, Cody, and Brooke watching Clone WarsEli, Cody, and Brooke watching Clone Wars
Boys settling down for bedtimeBoys settling down for bedtime

Happy 80th Birthday Pearl


This year is my grandmother’s, Pearl Blankenship Hollan, 80th birthday. In an attempt to surprise her, her children (Ron, Kelly, Lisa, and Angie) hatched a scheme to throw her a surprise birthday party. The function was to be hosted at Angie’s house and was to meant to be a SURPRISE. As the day approached, everyone worked their individual plans in order to all arrive in the Southwest Ohio before Saturday October 3rd. Ron and his wife Sue made the car trip from Canada via the Blue Ridge Parkway and Kentucky (needless to say – not the shortest route). They took the opportunity to sample some of the fine Kentucky bourbon at Woodford Reserve. Kelly made the trek from Southeast West Virginia with son Corey and his new wife Jodi. Angie and Lisa live in the area and did not need any additional travel planning. My family lives just 45 minutes south of Angie’s and did not require travel planning. Everyone’s plans were easily executed by Friday and the stage was set for a Saturday sneak attack.

Saturday started out peachy, but early events showed that the best laid plans may have some flaws. Kelly, attending to her typical Saturday routine, made an unconscious phone call to her mother Pearl. She had forgotten that she was making the call from my house which has a Kentucky phone number. D’oh!!! Dam that caller ID!!! As soon a Pearl answered, she panicked and hung up the phone. Quickly realizing the mistake, she handed the phone to me and told me to call my grandmother and wish her a belated birthday. Deceitfully quick thinking I thought to myself. I proceeded to make the call. I tried to play the “my cordless phone’s battery died…” Pearl could smell the lie over the phone even being a state away. She continued test my story and told me she thought that Angie was planning a “surprise dinner” for her. She went on to say that she also thought that Ron was going to be their since she had never received his typical birthday card in the mail. I played dumb and told her that we had a very busy day planned between Natalie’s gymnastic practice and Eli’s soccer game. We wouldn’t be done until late that evening. I then give her my congratulations and quickly exited the phone conversation. Whew… tragedy averted!?!? However, I’m not so sure the crafty 80 year old is not on to the whole devious plan.

The party went off without a hitch. Of course Pearl claims she knew the whole time. The family had a lot of fun chatting and reliving many old memories. Below you will find some of the candid shots.

Pearl is the guest of honor at her birthday partyPearl is the guest of honor at her birthday party
Where are the candles?Where are the candles?
Shelley smiles for the cameraShelley smiles for the camera
Corey and Jodi sitting around talking about the “good ol' days”Corey and Jodi sitting around talking about the “good ol’ days”
Pearl's birthday cake.Pearl’s birthday cake.
Natalie is enjoying Great Grandma Pearls birthday partyNatalie is enjoying Great Grandma Pearls birthday party
The kids entertain Auntie SueThe kids entertain Auntie Sue
Angie and Kelly (sisters) pose for a pictureAngie and Kelly (sisters) pose for a picture
Kelly demonstrates a manual face liftKelly demonstrates a manual face lift
Ron, Angie, Lisa, and KellyRon, Angie, Lisa, and Kelly

Natalie Turns 8…Chicago Anyone?


Our little girl Natalie turned 8 years old last week. As promised, to celebrate, the girls went on a road trip to the Windy City. The ultimate destination was the American Girl Place. Natalie and her best friend Brooklyn had been looking forward to the adventure for many months. They had been hording cash in order to purchase the ultimate desires.l

On Friday morning, Shelley, Natalie, Tina and Brooklyn all heading north toward Meca.

This is Shelley finally posting….We started the drive to the frozen tundra of Chicago around 10:30 on Friday.  Along the way we heard lots of giggling and the asking of “are we there yet?” every hour or so.  All in all it was a pleasant car ride with lots of good sugary snacks!  We crossed the big bridge and saw the huge building of the city in front of us and the girls were in awe!  They were even more excited when we were driving through downtown to find our hotel.

We found the hotel and went inside to check in.  While we were waiting the girls were impressed by our accomodations for the weekend.  They thought the lobby was pretty fancy.  We had prebooked our room on Hotwire.com and had called earlier in the day to request 2 beds.  Our room was on the 36th floor…the girls were psyched!  The room was beautiful with a huge bathroom that had a walk in shower and a stunning view of Lake Michigan.  Unfortunately it only had one bed.  I went down to change the rooms.  The next room was on the 17th floor…bummer…still only 1 bed though…We were getting frustrated at this point and on the third try we finally got what we needed….unfortunately it was your typical average room…no fancy bathrooms or fantastic views.  Still we would survive.

We all got ready to go to our “secret” fancy dinner.  We left the hotel and walked about 3 blocks to the American Girl Place MegaStore.  It is 2 full stories of nothing but AG!  Talk about heaven.  The girls were amazed and immediately pointing out all the things they couldn’t wait to buy.  We looked around the store for about an hour and made lists of all the items the girls wanted (mine and Tina’s strategy to minimize crying at the register).  Then they were getting hungry…it was almost dinner time…they had no idea that we were having dinner at AG Place.  When we went upstairs and stood at the doors the girls began begging us to go to dinner.  When we said we were there they were completely shocked.  Natalie just kept saying “I can’t believe this”.  The sheer joy on their faces was so worth the money that we spent.

Dinner was excellent…great food and very fancy.  The dolls had their own seats and dishes!  As the evening grew to a close there were many girls getting birthday cakes….well, when booking I had said no to this option…silly mama!  Tina slyly went to the hostess stand and I quickly followed suit…we were able to get the cake and ice cream delivered.  Natalie was at the point of tears because she thought they were not going to get a cake…then they did…evening saved!

After dinner we went back to the store and made off with our purchases.  Natalie likes all the “stuff” to go with the dolls, she purchased a concession stand, a picnic set, a pet dog and the gymnastics outfit.  Brooklyn prefers the clothes and she bought several outfits and had Julie’s ears pierced! (yes they do that).  We hauled our loot back to the hotel and turned in early…we were exhausted.

We woke the next morning ready for breakfast…we trolled upstairs the the Skyy Lounge on the 40th floor and ate what we thought was our free continental breakfast….until the bill came that is.  The girls of course loved it because they were treated like princess and drank apple juice from champagne glasses….you can imagine the cost!  After breakfast we went to the Hancock building, the girls were amazed by the view.  We then braved the public transportation (bus) and you would have thought we were in a limo!  They both had to stand and hold the bars on the way to the aquarium.  We visited the Shedd Aquarium and then ventured on to the Planetarium…both nice places.  We then headed back to Michigan Avenue to wander the shops.  We ordered pizza for carry out and ate it on our beds that night…something we would never do at home!

Sunday was our last day.  We awoke early and decided for a cheaper breakfast at the Corner Bakery.  It was snowy and windy outside…and very, very cold.  After breakfast we headed toward Garrett Popcorn (a mere 12 blocks away)….did I mention it was snowy, windy and cold?  We finally made it…almost frozen solid and my heart sank…it was closed.  We headed to a Borders books to warm up and bide our time.  We finally picked up our popcorn and needed to head back to AG one more time…two blocks into the walk and I was almost frozen…we hailed a taxi (another highlight of the trip) and headed to AG and then the hotel to check out.

I apologize for the length of this post but we did a ton!  The girls are already planning next year’s trip back to the windy city!

Mia and Josephina can now have teaMia and Josephina can now have tea
Mia, Natalie, and Josephina looking at the menuMia, Natalie, and Josephina looking at the menu
Nice table decorationsNice table decorations
Listening to the audio tourListening to the audio tour
Brooklyn and Natalie at the Adler Planetarium - ChicagoBrooklyn and Natalie at the Adler Planetarium – Chicago
Natalie in the Lego Store - ChicagoNatalie in the Lego Store – Chicago

Birthday Boy, Eli is 5


Our little baby boy Eli turned 5 today. Above is a collage displaying pictures from today and of course one of his first pictures the day he was born. As I write this post, I reflect fondly on that memorable weekend in 2004 that brought this little package of joy into our lives. He was 8 weeks early and only weighed 4 pounds 7 ounces. It was a scary and trying time for us all. With a lot of love, luck, and support from great friends and family we got to taken him home in a short 10 days after he arrived. Fast forward, 5 years…he is now 37 pounds and full of himself. 

His day started off with the greatest news any young kid could expect to hear during the winter months. School is closed! A lovely snow system pushed it’s way through during the early morning and dropped 4-6 inches of fresh powder on the greater Cincinnati area. After some dancing around and celebrating, he quickly wanted to get down to the business at hand…opening the many presents that had been taunting him since the weekend. Shelley of course staged the presents such that the anticipation would build as he opened the loot. His big gift this year was not a true surprise given the constant negotiations that had been ongoing for nearly a year. It seemed that he had longed for his very own for an eternity. All of his “closest” friends all had their own. He even forfeited his right to have his own party in the effort to leverage the ultimate goal.

The holy grail ~ A Nintendo DS ~


He even went so far to tell his mother that if he had his very own DS, he would not “need” to “bother us” to turn on the Xbox or the TV. He would just be able to play the DS by himself.  

You can find video 1 (opening of the DS) and video 2 (singing Happy Birthday). 

Very nice wrapping paper NagiVery nice wrapping paper Nagi
Nagi & JPop gave me $20Nagi & JPop gave me $20
Thanks Nagi & JPop for the bouncy ballThanks Nagi & JPop for the bouncy ball
Thanks Nana & Pops for the cool Hot Wheels toyThanks Nana & Pops for the cool Hot Wheels toy
Indiana Jones Lego for the new DSIndiana Jones Lego for the new DS
Look at the loot for the 5th birthday!Look at the loot for the 5th birthday!
Candles in ice cream...nice substitute!Candles in ice cream…nice substitute!
Lick the candles for good luck!Lick the candles for good luck!

Who’s Older Now?

Another year has passed and our birthday season has concluded with Shelley’s 35th birthday. The festivities kicked off early with the present unveiling on Friday afternoon. She was quite surprised to find a brand new Dell computer (Inspiron 530s) with 19″ widescreen LCD. On Saturday morning (officially her birthday) she received many kisses and the compulsory birthday cards. One card played the “chicken dance” and the other played the “hamster dance”. The new musical cards are quite fun and the kids do enjoy them so much. Eli even performed his artistic dance impression of the hamster dance. The birthday was concluded with a dinner out at O’Charley’s.

Quick Draw

The family enjoyed Aidan’s (friends of the family) 4th birthday part this past weekend. This short movie shows a funny expression when he blew out the candles too early. Priceless look.

Another Year Older

Who is that handsome young man in the photos? Yes, he is a boy even though he is wearing a yellow jumper. I’m another year older and it’s hard to fathom that I use the age description of “mid” thirties to describe myself. I just realized that I will only be able to use this designation for another year. Then I will be relegated to using the “late” moniker. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining…I’ve got my health, great kids, and lovely wife all to help me age gracefully (gray hair and all).

Mexican Again

As a long standing family tradition, the birthday candidate get to select their choice for dinner. In usual fashion, Natalie selected Mexican food at our favorite restaurant (Real Fiesta Mexican Restaurant).

Of course Mia was also partaking of the festivities.

Mia has arrived

The long awaited arrival of Natalie’s very own American Girl doll came to a conclusion yesterday. Mia has been been warmly welcomed into the Wykle family as its newest member. She has her very own (cat proof) bed next to Natalie’s. Please check back for more updates on the integration of Mia into the family. Video