April 21, 2010


We are SURVIVOR fans at my house. Big-time fans.  So when it came time to decide on a theme for what was supposed to be a surprise party for Jason's thirty-fifth birthday, the choice became pretty obvious.  We would hold a SURVIVOR competition for couples. It was AWESOME! 
I believe that attention to the details contributed to making the party a success.  So, here are the details:

I found a great image of the SURVIVOR logo with a google search, and I used that on just about everything. The invitation had actual quotes from Jeff Probst's opening monologue with slight moderation (two hours, eighteen people, one SURVIVOR).  They, along with a survey used for one of the challenges, were printed on postal packaging paper that I cut to fit through the printer.  All edges of the papers were burned and they were tied up with jute.  The invitations and surveys were delivered with a bandana that represented the tribal buff.  

I randomly drew names to divide all the party guests into the two tribes- Ulang and Tahun.  The tribe names were chosen by typing the word "birthday" in google translator and converting it to Indonesian (the most exotic language available).  To create the image on the flag, I ironed web interfacing to the back of  the fabrics to make cutting out the pattern easier, used a print off of the logo as a template, and hot-glued everything together.  I then sewed the logo onto each flag.  Each flag was fastened to a pole so tribe members could carry them around easily (although we never really did).

The game supplies were some of the most fun things to put together. They really added to the whole experience.  Here are some explanations for each item pictured:

1- I found this incense burner at Wal-Mart for $10.00.  A bit of a splurge, but isn't it awesome!

2- I saved this plastic container that had Christmas candies in it and wrapped it with fabric rope, some jute, and freshly cut bush branches and, voila!  A vote collection urn.

3-  I needed five dry erase boards for one of the games, but good heavens!  They are expensive.  So I took some foam board that I already had and glued cardstock on both sides.  I cut a sheet protector to fit over one of the sides, hot-glued it down, and wrapped and hot-glued jute around the edges for a finishing touch.  And because I seemed to be on a wrap-it-in-jute mood, I did the same with the five dry erase markers.

4- Fabric bags were quickly sewn and jute was used for drawstrings.  These were used in a final immunity challenge where the bags were tied in various locations on the playground of the park.  Contestants had to collect all four bags which contained pieces to a puzzle they had to put together.

5- It just so happened that I had these necklaces in my costume jewelry collection.  The larger one was used as the main individual immunity necklace and the one pictured above it was used only once for a challenge.  The challenge was to search the park to find the "hidden immunity necklace."

6- I wrapped a huge Sharpie marker just like the collection urn, and the papers for voting were cardstock with torn edges.

7- Of course, we had to have a new set of buffs for when the two tribes merged!

8- I hot-glued scraps of fabric onto wooden skewers to create the small flags that would easily be stuck in the ground for one of the challenges.  

Not pictured were the two tiki torches purchased for use in tribal councils.  I know.  Describing the game supplies was probably more information than anyone needed to know!

Here is the birthday cake.  I don't think it turned out too shabby considering it was my first attempt at making and using my own marshmallow fondant.  I was pleased with the final result.

And now, here are some pictures of the evening and actual SURVIVOR competition:

Darren of Tribe Tahun writing his vote at Tribal Council

Tahun with a slight lead over Ulang

This one kills me.  Three members from each tribe were blindfolded and guided by a caller to go out on the field and retrieve several tribal flags.  Never mind that there were trees everywhere.  These competitive men went running into the playing field at full speed!

Ulang members waiting for their turn to vote at Tribal Council

Clair of Ulang takes on Jason of Tahun in a test of balance

The gross food challenge where competitors had to see who could eat a Twinkie the fastest

Darren polished his Twinkie off quickly, while Doug (in the middle bending over) nearly choked on his

Jason came so close to winning the final immunity challenge.  He collected all his bags first and put the puzzle together fastest but left one piece in a bag.  Doug came from behind to win immunity, and voted Jason off because he didn't think he could convince a jury to choose him over a birthday boy.  He was probably right.

After Jerimiah and Doug were "grilled" by the jury members, the votes were cast and Doug won by only two votes.  He was presented with his million dollars (in the form of ten 100 Grand candy bars) and named sole SURVIVOR. 

Jason cutting and serving the cake

No sooner had the party ended, when talks began to arise of plans for the next SURVIVOR competition.  Bring it on!  

This post authored by Amber

A Birthday Survived

Jason marked his thirty-fifth birthday this year. You know, we kind of like to celebrate birthdays at our house, so of course it was a major event. Plus, the halfway point of a decade is a pretty big deal, too (I think).

Upon arriving home from a weekend scout campout to the sand dunes (I should make it clear that the campout was not part of the celebrating), Jason's parents took our whole family out to eat at the restaurant of Jason's choice, Brick Oven. Yummy!

Monday morning I offered to make Jason a birthday breakfast of his request. Wouldn't you know it, he didn't choose cold cereal! I had to get up a bit earlier than normal to make German pancakes with buttermilk syrup. Following breakfast, Jason opened his gifts and then left for work.
That evening, our family went out for dinner, and Jason chose a place we hadn't been to yet--Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I love a good burger, and this place did not disappoint!
With sufficiently full bellies, we went home and began watching Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I planned a surprise-that-turned-into-a-not-surprise birthday party for Jason for the following day. More on that later. It was a great couple of days, and turned out to truly be a happy birthday for Jason.

This post authored by Amber

April 19, 2010

Soaking Up Some St. George Sun

It was a very last-minute decision, but Jason decided to take some time off work during spring break so our family could head down south for a few days. Maybe the snowy and cold weather we had been experiencing in the weeks previous had us wanting for a bit of sunshine and warmth. It also made for the perfect opportunity to spend time with Grandpa and Grandma Gilliland, and explore the unique land features near their home in St. George.

We left around 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, made a quick stop at a Wendy's restaurant along the way, and got to Grandma and Grandpa's house in time to get set-up sleeping arrangements. Those arrangements were altered several times as Brevin and Spencer were indecisive about where they wanted to sleep.

Thursday morning we headed to Pioneer Park for some hiking and exploring. We came home for lunch and while I stayed with Garrett as he napped, Jason took the boys swimming for a full three and a half hours. That evening, Grandma and Grandpa were gracious enough to pull together a family barbecue on short notice, and all my siblings from southern Utah made an effort to be there so we could visit with them, too. It happened to be my sister's birthday. How fun it was to celebrate together!

On Friday morning, Grandma treated us to German pancakes. (That breakfast was very well received. German pancakes are now a favorite in our home and have since been requested on several occasions.) Following breakfast, we took a drive through Snow Canyon, making several stops to hike and take pictures. We made an extra effort to hike into the area of the canyon where the deposits of white sands are accumulated. With warm sunshine, bare feet, and smooth, cool sand to play in, it felt as though we were at the beach (sans ocean). Once we returned to Grandma's, we cleaned up, ate some lunch, and packed our things for our return trip to Springville.

We had such a wonderful time on our spontaneous vacation. The weather was perfect, the company was delightful, and I really appreciated the time away from the daily routine of things. This spring break was exactly what I needed to recharge for the months ahead. I think it also gave Grandma and Grandpa a much needed "fill" of their grandchildren, too!

This post authored by Amber

April 14, 2010

Enjoying Easter

One of the mothers in our ward organized an egg hunt for the preschool-aged children. It was held at the nearby park, and it was very well attended, as you can see:

The egg hunt at Jason's work happened to be scheduled on the stormiest day of the week, so it was moved inside rather than cancelled. The children all filed past boxes full of eggs and were allowed to select a few:

We colored eggs first thing on Saturday morning. Every year I vow to hard boil more eggs next year, and every year I forget and do the same amount (18). The coloring process takes less time than it does to get setup, but at least we didn't have to clean up a spill this year:

Easter Sunday arrived with children eager to see what the Easter bunny had left. Once their curiosity was satisfied, they excitedly requested bunny-shaped pancakes for breakfast. I made flowers and eggs as well, and the boys decorated them with chocolate chips:

Between sessions of General Conference, we had a lunch with foods typical of what the Savior might have eaten in Jerusalem:

We rounded up the evening with a gathering at Grandma and Grandpa Park's home for yet another indoor egg hunt. Needless to say, we now have a house full of candy:

This post authored by Amber

April 4, 2010

Easter Morning

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."     --Isaiah 1:18

This post authored by Amber