4 Ways To Make The Most Of This 3 Day Weekend

1. Appreciate the Reason Behind the 3 Day Weekend
This weekend, most people have a 3 day weekend for Veterans Day. It's important to take a minute and appreciate why we have Friday off. In this case, its because its a way to say thank you to our veterans who have served in the military. 

2. Get Chores Done First!
This is crucial to having the best 3 day weekend possible. If you don't get chores done first then you are bound to have it weighing on you at some point throughout the weekend. I always start my weekend by cleaning our condo, doing laundry and going grocery shopping. It's so nice to get everything completed on my to do list right away. After I get the chores done, I know the rest of the weekend will be stress-free. 

Marine Corps Ball 2016

Well... That's a wrap! Saturday was my last time ever attending a Marine Corps Ball. If you aren't familiar with Marine traditions, each year the Marine Corps holds a ball in celebration of the day they became a branch of the military. This year was their 241st birthday. 

I have been to three different Marine Corps Ball. The first year, Tanner was stationed in Twentynine Palms for training so the ball was held in Palm Springs (about an hour away). It was held at a beautiful resort and we had a blast. I can't believe how young we were! 
2013 Marine Corps Ball
The second year, Tanner was stationed at Miramar so it was held in downtown San Diego at a fancy hotel. We had a room on one of the top floors in the hotel and had a beautiful view of the city. 
 2014 Marine Corps Ball 
Last year, we didn't attend the ball because Tanner had just gotten back from deployment so he was on his post-deployment leave. That brings us to.. this years ball. Tanner is still stationed at Miramar, and this time it was held at a resort in Carlsbad. One of my favorite parts about the Marine Corp Birthday Balls is that they are usually held at resorts and hotels and the venues offer discounted rooms for the military! I love getting to stay the night at the venues and not having to worry about driving back the night of the ball. 

6 Tips for Writing Substitute Teacher Lesson Plans

As most of you know, for just over a year I have been a substitute teacher. In this past year, I've seen many different versions of lesson plans written for substitutes. I thought it was finally time that I put together a list of tips for writing substitute lesson plans. Think about these things the next time you go to write a lesson plan for a substitute! 

6 Tips For Writing Substitute Teacher Plans:

November Goals

Happy November 1st! A new month means it's time for me to set some new goals. First, lets review my October goals:
1. Exercise 20 times this month.
I almost completed this one. ALMOST. I had 19 workouts this month... so darn close. This was a really tough goal for me. I’m used to working out only 4 days a week. With the goal of doing 20 times a month, it forced me to workout one day every weekend. It was a challenge and it’s a goal I’m going to set for myself for November as well.
2. Use MyFitnessPal
I used my fitness pal almost everyday in October. I’m proud of that because it helped me get my eating habits on track! This is something I will continue to work at.
3. Organize my photo album.
I just completed this this week! I put together my wedding photo album finally! I even organized my 2016 pictures and put them into a different album. However... I realized that I only printed pictures through April of this year... So I included this to my goal for November as well.

5 Fun Fall Activities: Friday Favorites

For this edition of Friday Favorites, I decided to change it up! Instead of giving the usual 5 things that I love about the week, I've listed 5 activities that I love to do in fall. Check it out!

[one] Going On Walks
I absolutely love going on walks. I try to go on them multiple times a week. In the summer time, going on walks is just miserable because it's so hot that I'm sweating before I even leave the neighborhood. It's much nicer in the fall when the weather is cooler and the air is cripser. I use the time on my walks to either talk to my husband (if I've managed to drag him along with me;)) or to have some alone-time to organize my thoughts. I always feel much more relaxed and even more energized when I get back from my walks. 

[two] Baking New Recipes 
Who wants to bake in the summertime? NO ONE. It's already so hot outside, and turning on the oven, even if you do have air conditioning, is just miserable. Fall is the perfect time of year to try out new recipes. This fall, my husband and I have already made pumpkin bars, apple pie and pumpkin bread. I plan to continue to bake new things for the remainder of this beautiful fall season. I have found some really great recipes that I can't wait to try! 

5 Shows on Netflix Worth Binge Watching

I have been obsessed with Netflix for quite some time. I have been thinking about doing this post for awhile now, and I finally decided that today was the day! I have watched quite a few shows on Netflix in the last few years. I compiled a list of my 5 favorite Netflix shows that are so good, they're worth binge watching. Here's my list: 

1. Friends
This is a classic show that I recommend for people of all ages. It's a 10 season long series about 6 friends going through life together. There’s Rachel, the spoiled girl used to getting what she wants and finally has to work for the first time in her life. Phoebe, the sweet but incredibly ditsy girl who plays terrible songs. Monica, the smart clean freak who has had to work hard for everything she has. Ross, the intelligent emotional paleontologist. Joey, the want to be actor who loves women. And finally, Chandler, the guy who has a job in a cubical and uses humor to make it through his dull career. These 6 friends spend each episode just trying to figure out how to survive their life. This show provides great comic relief and I began to feel attached to the characters almost immediately. It's a super easy show to get into. I was hooked from Episode 1. 

2. New Girl 
New Girl is a show that they're actually still filming. There's five seasons so far on Netflix and the 6th season is currently being aired every Tuesday on Fox. This show is absolutely hilarious. It's about an eccentric girl named Jess who moves in with three single boys. The episodes are super short but it's all about the trials and tribulations that this group of friends face such as getting new jobs, getting into relationships (sometimes with eachother!) and being unemployed. I guarantee you'll be hooked right away. 

Pumpkin Fever

This weekend we made great progress on my fall bucket list. In case you haven't been following along, you can see my fall bucket list at the bottom of this post. 

We woke up on Saturday and went to the closest corn maze that we could find. I'm sad to say that it was an epic fail. It was a super small corn maze and we found our way out in about 5 minutes.. I was pretty disappointed but we still managed to have a good time. 
Tanner pretending we're lost ;) 
The corn maze also had a little pumpkin patch but when we looked at the pumpkins, they were charging $20 each! Instead, we picked up two pumpkins from Walmart for $4 ;) We went home, turned on some Halloween music, and carved our pumpkins in our backyard. We really enjoyed spending time together and it was actually really relaxing. After picking up some battery powered tea lights at the dollar store our pumpkins were finished! 

Friday Favorites: 3rd Edition

[One] Fitbit
For about 3 years now I have been using a fitbit. I currently have the one shown below: 

I absolutely love it! The goal is to get 10,000 steps a day. Sometimes that's an easy goal for me to reach and sometimes its really difficult but I love being challenged. You can add friends on the fitbit app and there are different challenges you can do to motivate each other. For example, there's a challenge called the workweek hustle where the goal is to get the most steps by the end of the week! Everyone that joins the challenge can see your progress throughout the week and there's even a comment thread on it so you can push each other when you notice someone isn't keeping up! It's so motivating.

I mentioned last week that I use MyFitnessPal to keep track of what food I eat. My favorite thing about my fitbit is that I can link it up with MyFitnessPal and MFP will give me extra calories when I've done a lot of exercise for that day. If you don't have a fitbit, I highly reccomend adding it to your Christmas list this year :) It's well worth the money! 

[Two] House of Cards
My husband and I are currently obsessed with this series on Netflix. It's such a great show and keeps me on the edge of my seat. There's only 4 seasons on Netflix and we're currently working our way through the last season. It's. So. Good. I can't tell you how many times Tanner and I have looked at each other and have been like "Did that really just happen?" ;) If you're looking for a new show to binge watch on Netflix, House of Cards is my recommendation! Do I have any fellow House of Cards lovers on here?!

Throwback Thursday: Seattle Monorail Crash

I was sitting on the monorail 30 feet in the air, waving at the passengers in the "red" monorail as it was passing us when all of a sudden there was a crash. A long screeching sound followed by the lights flickering. I slowly start to feel our car tip, and I thought I was finished.

I was in the 5th grade, spending the night in Seattle with my best friend Megan and our families. We went every year to Seattle with Megan's family to run the kids fun run (only 1 mile) and then the next day was the half marathon that my mom and Megan's mom, Michelle always did. It was November 26th, 2005, just a few days after Thanksgiving. We had  just eaten dinner in Seattle and we were heading to the Westlake Center Mall to do some shopping. There was a monorail that went directly to the mall, and our families decided we'd take that over.  We almost missed the monorail. We were walking up right as it was getting ready to pull out of the station, we ran and got on just as the doors were closing. 

It was dark outside and I remember vividly passing the other train. I was on the blue train and there was also a red train. When they built the monorail in 1962, they built the tracks far enough apart so that the two trains could pass each other without any problems. However, when they built the Westlake center in the 1980's, the engineers put the tracks closer together in one spot. There was only one spot on the entire track that the two trains couldn't pass. The drivers of the two trains were supposed to call each other to let them know that they were coming. For whatever reason, that evening, our driver failed to do that.

If you look closely at the picture, you can tell that the blue car is tilted.

First Camping Trip as a Married Couple

I sat in my car on Saturday morning with a feeling of excitement at the adventure that lay ahead. Tanner and I were on our way to our first camping trip as a married couple! If you know us at all, you know that we're very outdoorsy people. We love hiking, camping and pretty much any activity that involves being outside. It's been over 2 years since we last went on a camping trip so we were both eager to get to the camping site.

We arrived at Mount Laguna, after about an hour drive. The first camping spot we stopped at was completely full but the host suggested we try a different one up the road. We arrived at Burnt Rancheria campground to find that they had 50 open spots! We spent an hour driving around, trying to find the "perfect" spot. We found one that was fairly close to the bathroom with plenty of shade and in a fairly private location with not many neighbors close by.

We unpacked and got our tent set up immediately. We arrived at the campsite super early on Saturday so that we could spend as much time as possible at Mount Laguna. We were only staying one night so we wanted to make the most of our time. Most of Saturday was spent exploring. We started by going through town. We found a cute shop that we picked up some last minute essentials in. And we stopped by the information center to see what kind of hiking trails were in the area. The park ranger gave us a suggestion and we were on our way. We did a hike called Sunset Hills. It was more of a nature walk but we were able to climb on top of huge boulders and see some gorgeous views. After our "hike" we headed back to the camp site. We spent some time playing dice, cards and even reading. It was the most relaxed that I've felt in a long time.
Our campsite came with a fire pit and picnic table :) 
Tanner clearly loves me making him take a bunch of pictures ;) 
We had some pretty amazing views on our nature walk. 

Friday Favorites: 2nd Edition

Happy Friday friends! :) I tried out Friday Favorites a few weeks ago and really enjoyed doing it. It's not something I'll commit to every week, but I decided to do round two today! 
Here are my 5 favorites for this week:


Last week, I started a long term job substitute teaching job at a middle school. It was conferences last week which meant I only had half days with the students. This week is my first full week with them and I'm loving it. I am teaching Social Studies with 6th graders and AVID with 8th graders. I'm truly enjoying getting back into teaching. As a regular substitute, you only have day to day jobs and they rarely consist of actually teaching. I am usually just giving a test or an easy assignment. With long term substitute jobs, I get to actually teach and get to know the students. I'll be doing this job all the way until the middle of January. I'm excited to see what the next three months hold! 

4 Reasons Why I Chose To Get Married Young

I'm not one of those girls. I have been married for less then 4 months, I'm 22 years old and my marriage is strong. There's a harsh stigma against people in my generation that get married young. I can't tell you how many times I've heard:"Oh wow! You're married? But you look so young..." I respond to these comments with a smile and a polite "Yes" and move along with the conversation. But the truth is, I hate when people say this to me. I hate feeling like I'm being talked down to because I am married at 22 years old. And I especially hate that the people saying this to me feel like they know my situation because they don't. Every marriage and relationship is different and it's unfair for someone to judge mine simply because of my age. I don't think that you have any control over what age you fall in love. For me, I was lucky and met my soul mate at 13 years old.  Some people don't find their soul mate until they're much older in life. And either way is okay. 
Look at how little we were! 

I get asked the question "Why?" a lot. Why did you get married so young? Isn't it hard? Don't you want to still live your life without being tied down to someone? These questions have been on my mind a lot recently, I thought now was a great time to make a post about it. Here are my 5 reasons why I chose to get married young:

Pumpkin Bars and Puzzle Pieces

As we sat on the couch, while watching House of Cards on Nextflix, we began to notice the smell of  pumpkin coming from the kitchen. It was almost time to try our new fall dessert. Last weekend, Tanner and I tried a new pumpkin recipe! I found one on pinterest for healthy pumpkin bars. My mom makes pumpkin bars every year and they are delicious, but unfortunately they're not exactly diet-friendly ;). By using applesauce in place of some of the butter and sugar, we were able to make pumpkin bars that you can eat without feeling guilty. Making the pumpkin bars was a nice way to spend time together and they turned out great. Since there is only two of us, the recipe left us with a lot of leftovers. Tanner will take the rest of them to work to share and maybe next time we'll cut the batch in half. Here's the recipe we used: Healthy Pumpkin Bars
The batter is coming together! 
Having second thoughts on our ability to eat all of these...
Tanner insisted that I wait to let them cool before I frosted them. I was SO ready to eat them by this point. 
 Tanner loves frosting ;) 
Finished product! 

Trying New Things; Submarines and Parasailing

This past weekend my grandparents, who I call my Nana and Papa came to visit. They live in Arizona and this was the first time in over a year that they've been able to come visit us. We had a wonderful weekend with them, on Saturday they took Tanner and I on a day trip to Catalina Island. 

Catalina Island is a small island off the coast of Los Angeles. The most practical way to get to Catalina Island is by boat. They have a few different boats that will get you there but the closest port to us was in Dana Point. Dana Point is about an hour drive from us, the earliest boat left at 7:15 AM and so we had to be up and out the door by 5 AM to be at the port about 45 minutes early to check in.

It was an early morning so I'm thankful that my Papa drove us all ;) I have been on many ferries in my life and so I had imagined that the boat we would be taking would be large like the ones I'm used to.I was wrong. The ferry was much smaller then I could have anticipated. The boat ride to Catalina was an hour and thirty minutes long and it was a rough ride. The waves tossed the boat around like a toy and at one point when Tanner and I walked down to the bottom deck to get snacks we had to hold onto seats, rails, and walls just to keep from falling over. Not the most relaxing ferry ride we've ever taken.

We were all relieved when we finally made it to the island. I was surprised to see just how small Catalina was. The city we explored was called Avalon and it covers only 1 square mile of the island. When we first arrived we weren't really sure where to start. We walked around for a little bit before deciding to rent a golf cart. I'm so glad we did. Tanner and I had a blast driving the golf cart but I don't think that my Nana and Papa were too impressed with our driving skills ;)If you ever take a trip to Catalina Island, I highly recommend renting a golf cart. We rented it for two hours and the rental company gave us a map showing us the route we should take to see all of Avalon. We were able to see SO much more with the golf cart then we would have if we had gone on foot. Even though the city is only a small, it is packed full of hills which would have made walking rather unpleasant. We were able to see some gorgeous views from our little golf cart tour including the mansion that the Wrigley's live in. If you don't know, the Wrigley brothers (the ones that created Wrigley gum *juicy fruit, big red, etc.*) own Catalina Island.

My Sister Jessica

As some of you know, I have 3 sisters. I've mentioned this briefly on the blog before, but today I wanted to dedicate a post to talking about them.

I have two older sisters, Alicia and Jessica that some may call my half-sisters. I never refer to them that way because I think that sounds like they aren't my "real" sisters and they are. I also have a younger sister named Amber that lived with me full time growing up while Alicia and Jessica lived with their mom. The arrangement made it so the holidays were split and they were at our house every other weekend.

If you have siblings, then you know that the relationship we have is unexplainable. We have had  our fair share of arguments and disagreements over the years but in the end we will always have each others backs. I am so thankful to have grown up with 3 sisters because I was given three amazing women to be my friends forever. Amber and I moved to Arizona when I was 13 years old making it so that we saw Jessica and Alicia even less then before. Last year, I moved to California making it so that I didn't live near any of my sisters. It made me appreciate them so much more then I already did. I love that even though there is distance between us, we remain closer then ever. My sisters truly are my best friends.
In order from left to right: Jessica, Amber, me and Alicia. 

October Goals

Can you believe that it is already October?! I feel like just yesterday it was the start of 2016 and now we're getting really close to 2017. It's crazy how fast time is flying.

This month I wanted to set some personal goals and some goals for my blog. I'm hoping that by setting goals for myself it will keep my blog growing and keep me on track in my personal life. Here are my goals for October:

The Happiest Place on Earth: Part Two

You can read part one of this post here.

If you have been following along then you already know that I went to Disneyland for one day with my nieces a few weeks ago. Disneyland offers the military and their families a 3 day park-hopper pass for $140. That's $100 off their normal 3 day park-hopper price! I purchased a 3 day park hopper pass and only used one of the days up until this last weekend.

I convinced my family to come up from Arizona to use the last two days of my ticket with me. My grandparents, parents and sister came along for the adventure. It was a whirlwind of a trip and I'm thankful that they live close and were able to come.

This weekend was different then when I went a few weeks ago because they had Halloween decorations up! Main street and the entrance of Disneyland was my favorite part of the park. They decorate it to look like the town in the movie, Halloweentown. In the movie, they have a gigantic pumpkin in the middle of the town and in Disneyland they had the same thing except the pumpkin was shaped to look like Mickey's head. I love decorating for different holidays in my own home so I was especially excited to see that Disneyland goes all out for Halloween. It makes the park feel even more magical to me.

Stress is a Choice

Stress is a choice. This is something that a friend used to say to me all the time. Throughout high school, college and most of my life, so far, I have always seemed to be stressed about something. Whether it was a big test that I had coming up or something as simple as what I was going to eat for dinner, I was always finding myself feeling stressed. Stress can be extremely hard on you and it was really hard on me. Not only can stress cause you to be more irritable but it can also have a negative impact on your health. Your body needs a chance to relax.

I never understood what my friend meant by stress was a choice. I would just look at her and say "I'm not choosing to be this way! It's because of the circumstances that I feel stressed!” Recently, I realized how wrong I was. Your attitude and how you react to things is a choice. Rather than choosing to be stressed for a big test this week, I could choose to have a positive attitude knowing that I would do well on it because I knew the material. Or rather than being stressed out that I don't have enough time in the day to accomplish everything that I want to do, I could choose to be happy knowing that I am doing the best that I can.

Stress is such a useless emotion. It's hard to be productive and focused when you're stressed so just don't be. Instead, try looking at it from a new perspective. I started doing this in my own life and I have noticed how little I should be stressing.

I came up with a list of 5 ways to reduce stress in your life:

I Loved Her First: Daddy-Daughter Dance

I have always had a close relationship with my parents. My sisters used to make fun of me growing up, because I'd tell my mom and dad everything, I just couldn't help it. Even now I still can't seem to keep a secret from either of them. I think that's part of the reason why I'm so close to them to this day. When I was younger, My dad and I used to go on a lot of walks together. on those walks, I would vent to him about all the problems going on in my life. He would always listen to me and give me sound advice, which was usually just what I needed to get through a hard day. My dad and I have very similar personalities, which is another reason why I think we get along so well. He has always been there for me whenever I need him and I am so thankful for the relationship we have. He's caring, encouraging, compassionate, hardworking, thoughtful, loving and so much more. I really couldn't ask for a better father.
All images © by Sasha Reiko Photography | www.sashareiko.com

Fried Chicken in the Park

I was born and raised in Washington State. I moved away in the 7th grade but the majority of my childhood memories are from my time in Washington. My childhood house had a huge back yard with a creek running through it. My favorite thing to do in those days was to have a picnic by that creek. There was nothing more relaxing then just sitting in the grass listening to the rushing water. When my family and I did have a picnic by the creek, we didn't have the traditional sandwiches. Instead, we'd always get Kentucky Fried Chicken. I vividly remember sitting on a blanket in the grass on warm summer days, eating fried chicken while talking with my family. It was pure happiness.  The only time that my family would ever have KFC was if we were having a picnic; so naturally, KFC still reminds me of my childhood to this day.

Friday Favorites: My First Edition!

I'm still fairly new to the blogging world, and this week I wanted to try something I haven't done before: Friday Favorites! If you aren't familiar with this, it's basically where bloggers talk about their favorite parts of the week. Sometimes it's called 5 on Friday because people will share 5 of their favorite things about the week. The reason why I would like to incorporate this into this blog is because I think it will make me focus on the positive things happening each week in my life.
Here are my Friday Favorites for this week:

4 Years Down, 1 To Go. Our Military Story.

This last Saturday, September 10th, was Tanner's 4 year mark in the Marines. I cannot believe that 4 years have already come and gone! I still remember saying goodbye to him Labor Day weekend of 2012. We weren't dating then, but we were the best of friends. We both liked each other but neither of us wanted to pursue a long distance relationship. After a short but exciting weekend, I said my final goodbyes to him and went back to Arizona. A I gave him a big hug and cried my eyes out when he dropped me off at the airport and I cried even harder when I said goodbye to him on the phone a couple of days later.
Family Day 
The Marines have a 13 week long boot camp and during that time you can only communicate by letters that are few and far between. At the time, I was in my freshman year of college in a dorm. I remember going downstairs everyday and asking the people at the front desk of the dorm if the mail had come yet. By the end of the 13 weeks, every front desk employee knew me by name and without me having to ask, they'd tell me whether or not the mail had come. It was a tough 13 weeks but in some crazy way, it brought us closer together. I was able to go to family day which takes place the day before graduation from boot camp. It is the first time that families are able to see their new Marines after 3 long months. I was so excited to see him and so proud. It was the best feeling to get a hug from him and just be around him. The day came and went much too quickly. Unfortunately, I had to catch a flight back to Arizona that night to take a college final so I had to miss graduation. However, I was grateful for those few hours together.

Fall Bucket List: All things Apple

This weekend, Tanner and I decided to do a couple of the items on my fall bucket list. We woke up Saturday morning, bright and early, and rushed off to our big adventure. We went apple picking! This is something that we normally wouldn’t have done but it was on the list and something that I was excited to try.
There's a town called Julian that’s only about an hour away from our house. The drive there is beautiful because trees and mountains surround you. Julian is a pretty small, cute town. There is the main street that has a couple of antique shops and a few restaurants. If you continue past the main street there's quite a few different types of farms and orchards. We went to an apple orchard called “Volcan Valley Apple Farms”. When we arrived, there were many different apple trees as far as the eye could see. At this particular farm they charge $12 for a bag and then you can pick as many apples that will fit in the bag. They also allow you to try the different apples while you're picking. Tanner and I had a blast and ate more apples then I'd care to admit. We enjoyed apple picking so much that we decided its something we’ll definitely be doing again. It was so fun searching through the trees to try to find the best, store-quality apples.

Fall Bucket List

I LOVE FALL. I love everything about this time of year. I adore the holiday season and fall signifies the start of that for me.  The holiday season is my favorite time of year because the weather gets cooler which reminds me of living in Washington and I get to spend more time with my family.

Last October, Tanner returned from his deployment which meant October and November were jam packed with him re-adjusting and us getting our apartment set up. Because of this, we weren’t able to really enjoy fall last year. This year, now that things have settled down, I’m ready to create some fall traditions!

To accomplish this, I decided to create a fall bucket list. My goal is to complete everything on this list by the time Thanksgiving comes. I plan on making a post here each time that I accomplish something on my fall bucket list. That way I can share my thoughts and experiences with you, the reader, in hopes that you try out some of these activities in your home this season.  I hope that Tanner and I enjoy doing some of the items on the list so much that they become traditions for us. So without further ado, here is my 2016 fall bucket list! Please feel free to join me in completing the fun activities on my list. I would also love to hear some of your fall traditions!

Brooklynn's 2nd Birthday

This last weekend was a BLAST. As I've mentioned before, I have two nieces that live in Washington. I was able to fly to Washington this last weekend for my niece, Brooklynn's second birthday.

My adventure began Friday night, leaving San Diego and flying to Washington. When I landed, I called my dad only to find out that the airport was packed... That wasn't too surprising considering it was a Friday night of a holiday weekend but it did take my dad quite awhile to meet up with me. When I finally did meet up with him, we headed straight for my aunt Kelly's house. It was late by the time I finally got settled in so we all headed to bed not long after. 

Saturday was when the fun began. That morning we woke up, got ready, and headed to my sister's house. Brooklynn is obsessed with cows and pretty much all farm animals. She also LOVES Minnie Mouse. My sister combined my nieces two favorite things making it a farm/cowgirl/minnie party. It was ADORABLE and probably one of the more unique combinations I've seen.. All the snacks were themed and Brooklynn even had a customized shirt that fit in nicely with the theme. I had so much fun running around chasing Brooklynn and Sofia (my other niece). I probably spent around an hour total playing "pretend" restaurant with the girls. They pretended that the bottom half of the playset was a restaurant and they had me stand on one side while they stood on the other taking my orders. I can't tell you how many pretend pizzas and hot dogs I ordered and "ate" ;)  It's so much fun watching the girls play and run around. After awhile, Brooklynn opened her gifts. Tanner and I had given her an easel and since that's a hard gift to wrap, I gave it to her just before her party started. I told her who it was from, and her grandma asked her if she liked it and she said "Yeah! Auntie Cole!" pointing to me. I was so glad she understood the gift was from us and she seemed to like it! I got Sofia an easel as well when she was younger and I still see her playing with it. I think it's something she'll be able to use for years to come! After Brooklynn opened all of her gifts, it was time for the best part of all birthday parties.. cake. Right before we started singing, I was holding Brooklynn and I was practicing blowing out pretend candles with her. I have to say that after we finished singing, she nailed the blowing out the candles part :)