Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Said my kids at the end of their 10th birthday party.  They haven't had a friend party in a few years and really wanted to do friend parties this year. That's a challenge with boy/girl twins when they are turning 10.  I told them they could each do their own party if they wanted to.  I really intended to go somewhere and pay for a party but we couldn't find anything they really wanted to do.  
Then my friend posted on FB a party she had just put on for her daughter - it was an AMAZING RACE party.  That was it!  Perfect party for 10 year old boys and girls.  We are HUGE fans of the show and watch it every season.  Jared and Kamryn loved the idea and started thinking of ideas right away.  The only bad thing was I couldn't really involve them in the planning because that would be unfair to the teams.  They were ok with that.
They did come up with who they wanted to invite and how to divide up the teams.  We invited 16 kids.  Everyone could come except one girl who had gone on vacation with her family.  We had scheduled it for May 19th but had to postpone for bad weather.  And then on the day we rescheduled it for it still rained during the day but was cleared up in time for the party, thank goodness.
Once all the kids were there we had them all gathered in the living room - probably the most people, esp most kids, ever in our living room. They were all excited!
We went over the rules and sent them on their way.  We actually don't have too many photos of the event - all video, which will be turned into an awesome show by Justin.

the book club team working on the puzzle challenge

the same book club team doing the RED DRAGON challenge

TEAM RED came in first and won the MILLION DOLLAR prize

TEAM PURPLE came in 2nd and won the 100 GRAND

The boys came in 3rd, or were the last team to arrive, but were not eliminated.  Their prize was a bag of chocolate coins.

After the racing we came inside to open presents.  Jared and Kamryn's friends were very generous and gave them some very nice gifts.

Everyone was a good sport and waited patiently during the present opening.

After the gift opening we sang happy birthday, gave the kids some more sugar in the form of cupcakes and then let them just play for a few minutes while parents came to pick them up.
It was a super fun party and I would even do it again :)

How to Host an AMAZING RACE party

This post will actually be in 2 parts.  This first part is all the planning behind the party.  I spent quite a bit of time planning and preparing for the party and would love to share what I learned and planned. Lots of people have done it already and there are lots of ideas on Pinterest.  I took lots of those ideas and combined them into one party that fit our needs.
This was for a birthday party for our boy/girl twins who were turning 10.  We invited 15 kids and had 3 teams of 6 each (one team was short and had to do an extra turn for each challenge).
I used many sources that I found all on Pinterest.  This site for the invite and some ideas (I'd still love to do the whole Date idea from this site). This site for their race clue printables and some of their ideas. And this site for more ideas.  Some of the ideas I actually thought of myself :)
I changed up the original Amazing Race ideas to fit our party, which was more of big team idea rather than doing individual tasks.  I've created PDF documents of my race and the clues and ideas.
(I'm trying to figure out how to link them on here)
The party went pretty much as planned and took just over an hour for the teams to complete all the legs of the party.  There are only a few things I would change and i'll go over that at the end.

Just before all of the kids started arriving and showing other family members the course and what help I would need.  You definitely need help for this party.  I took video along with my son. We could have had one more person taking still photos.  We had more than one judge at each challenge and probably could have used one judge per team.  I don't have a lot of photos of the actual party and most of these photos I took the day after when it wasn't so crazy.

After gathering all 17 kids in our living room, I announced our teams.  We had 3 teams - one all boys and 2 teams of girls.  Each team had a color - red, blue and purple.  I was able to find sling packs and bandanas at the dollar store. I also found passports with stickers - an added bonus!
Our host Paul went over the rules with the teams and told them to travel safe and sent them out the door to find their gear and start the race.  We started the race in the garage (we weren't sure if we were going to get rained on or not)

1st clue was laying on top of their packs.  First thing they were told to do was put on their bandana and had to wear it at all times.  The teams were instructed to use their passport and put the stickers in of the countries they visited.  They were supposed to show them to that country's judge before proceeding to the next task.

1st leg – “roadblock” Who’s Feelin’ Lucky?

Who’s feeling LUCKY?

(A Roadblock is a task that each team member must compete in).

Before setting off on the race let’s see who is lucky.
Each team member needs to take 2 dice and roll a 10.  After the judge has seen each team member roll a 10 you will receive your next clue. 

2nd leg – ANTARTICA (ice cubes stack) This clue was on a BLUE ROUTE INFO clue

Now travel to ANTARTICA (end of drive way)
“icy tower”
Once there your team will need to build an ice tower.
Taking ice cubes and working as a team build a tower of ice at least 10 ice cubes tall and needs to stay standing for at least 10 seconds.
Once this task is complete the judge will give you your next clue.

3rd leg – “detour”  Shoot it or Roll it   

Shoot It Or Roll It
A Detour is a choice between 2 tasks. Read each task and choose the one you think your team can accomplish.

In SHOOT IT, each team member must make a basket with the basketball. Once each team member has made a shot and the judge has passed you off, your team will receive their next clue.

In ROLL IT, each team member must run to the top of the hill and then roll down.  Once the judge passes your team off, you will receive your next clue.
(none of the kids chose this option since it had been raining most of the day and the hill was all wet, otherwise I think both girls teams would have chosen this option)
4th leg – GERMANY (rootbeer chug) 

Make your way to GERMANY ( back yard tree)


Once there your team will receive a bottle of rootbeer and some cups.  Everyone in the team needs to fill their cups and drink the rootbeer until it is all gone.
Once the judge can see that the bottle is empty you will receive your next clue.
This is one part I would definitely change.  2 liters was A LOT to drink for a team of 6 10 year olds.  I knew that going in and had looked for a 1 liter bottle but they don't do that size for rootbeer.  Definitely could do half for that age group.

5th leg – “detour” puzzles or poetry

Poetry or Puzzles

A Detour is a choice between 2 tasks. Read each task and choose the one you think your team can accomplish.

Memorize a Poem or Puzzle time?

In MEMORIZE, teams must memorize a short poem and recite it together. If you recite the poem perfectly, you will receive your next clue. If you mess up – you will have to go back to the poem and start over.
 In PUZZLE TIME, teams must put together a puzzle in a limited amount of time. If you run out of time, you must start over.
None of the teams chose to memorize the poem.  The time limit on the puzzle was 3 minutes.  All teams completed the puzzle in less than 2 minutes.

6th leg – CHINA ( Red dragon wrap) 

Now travel to CHINA
Once there your team will be given a roll of red crepe paper.  Each team must create a “red dragon” by wrapping their arms with the crepe paper, connecting all team members.
Once the judge is satisfied with your dragon you will receive your next clue.

7th leg – “roadblock” EMPTY IT 

Empty IT

(A Roadblock is a task that each team member must compete in)

You will find a table filled with cups of snacks, treats and drinks.
One at a time, using only one hand, each team member will take a turn choosing a cup and must eat/drink everything in the cup.  Each team member will take a turn emptying a cup until you find a cup marked with an X in the bottom.  Once you find that cup show it to the judge and you will receive your next clue.

8th leg – ENGLAND (tied up tea party) 

Make your way to ENGLAND
Once there your team must accomplish a
 “tied up tea party”
Each team member will sit in a circle.  After having all your hands tied together, you must unwrap your cake and eat it.
When this task is complete, the judge will give you your next clue.
This is one where we could make a change but it worked out.  There should only be one cake in a package to unwrap per player.  The boys thought they each had to unwrap a package and eat both cakes in the package.

9th leg – “detour” sing it or spell it

Spell it Or Sing it

A Detour is a choice between 2 tasks. Read each task and choose the one you think your team can accomplish.

In SPELL IT, the judge will give you a word and you must spell it out loud to the judge without writing it down.
If you don’t spell it correctly you must wait one minute and then try spelling it again.
 In SING IT, the judge will give you a song to sing and your team must sing it all together until the judge passes your off.
For this one if they chose to sing it, the judge gave them the option to take time and watch a clip of this song from youtube.  One team watched it and one team knew it good enough that they just sang it right off.  And the judge did let the boys team write down the spelling after a couple of tries of spelling it wrong out loud.

10th leg –  AUSTRALIA (Boomerang Train) 

Make your way to AUSTRALIA

Once there you must perform the “boomerang train”

Each team will be given a ball of yarn tied to a spoon.  Using that spoon you must thread the yarn under each teammates shirt and to the next teammate.  Once you’re all connected, the judge will let you disconnect and then give you your next clue.
I did not get to see any of this in action because I had to hurry back to be ready for the first team back to the pit stop.

Final Clue to Pit Stop – (printed on green FAST FORWARD clue)

Head to the PIT STOP!

Head back to
Jared and
Kamryn’s house
And check in at the matt on the basketball court.
Good luck!

The first place team received a MILLION DOLLAR prize (chocolate bars I found at hobby lobby that said million dollar bar)
The 2nd place team got a 100 GRAND chocolate bar and the 3rd place team received a bag of chocolate coins.

I've received lots of positive comments back from the kids and parents.  It was definitely worth all the time and preparation.  I'm sure we'll do it again - would be a fun group date.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mexican Riviera Cruise

This post is way overdue.
We went on an awesome family trip
to the Mexican Riviera
on a Norwegian cruise

bon voyage

vacations are hard work
we actually got up at 4:00 am that first morning for our early flight 

kids loved the fun towel animals left in our cabin each night

Cabo San Lucas
our first port

sadly Kamryn got very sick after our day in Cabo
luckily it didn't last too long

Taylor eating at the yummy asian restaurant on the ship

yummy asian creme brulee

taking a stroll on deck to watch the sunset

another one of our favorite spots to eat on the ship
O'Sheehans - best burger ever

our favorite towel animal

elevator selfie

Versaille Dining Room

playing spike ball in the airport
we had several hours to hang out at LAX on our way home
we had this great alcove that was perfect for all of our family

proof that Paul can sleep anywhere

NOTE - these photos are not in the right order, its what you get when you're using several different devices to take pictures.

Kamryn on the zipline adventure in Puerto Vallarta

one of the very first things the kids did when we got on the cruise ship
play chess
and its where the whole saga of Jared, Kyson and Jaxon going missing started

our family when we were leaving California

A favorite activity was the family dodge ball games they had on the ship

Taylor in Cabo

on our private excursion to go snorkeling

Kamryn and Paul checking out the fish

the boat ride back was the kids favorite part - it was fast and bumpy

our ship - The Norwegian Star

this was our family for most of the cruise
Jadon and Jaxon shared a cabin with Taylor and Justin so they were with us a lot

at the beginning of our Puerto Vallarta adventure
it was beautiful and we wished we could have stayed there much longer

the kids all set to go on the zipline adventure

the kids got to ride a donkey to the top

this is what its all about

leaving  Puerto Vallarta

 The kids LOVED being able to go to the sit down restaurants on their own and order what they wanted and be all grown up.

all of the grandkids with their grand-dad

thanks for an awesome trip!