Planning A Minecraft Party

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Minecraft has fully invaded our house.  I’m pretty sure I know how it started.  Our dear nanny Maria has 5 boys of her own and occasionally (especially during the summer), one or two of them will come with her to watch our kids.  Yes, she is Super Woman and Mary Poppins rolled up into one dynamic person but I digress.  Her older sons showed Colton the never-ending world of Minecraft.  I have to be honest, John and I had to buy a Minecraft for Dummies books so we could figure out what he was doing and play with him.  I actually love the creative aspect of this game so I am 100% on board with a little gaming time with Minecraft.

Colton turned 7 on Saturday and he asked for a Minecraft Party.  You would think this would be easy since it is so popular but strangely enough, there isn’t a whole lot of Minecraft party supplies out and about.  I used my faithful party planning pal, Pinterest, and started a board.  Pinterest is the answer to a busy mom’s need to have a few cute decorations and awesome party ideas without having to spend an exuberant amount of time on research and implementation.  Check out my Minecraft Party board here.

Colton’s second request was a sleepover.  Yikes!  All I can think of is the mound of bodies that we will have in our 1900 square foot 100 year old Capitol Hill row home.  Yep, I said yes but we limited the number to just a few close friends and of course his little brother. I tried to keep the decorating and party prep to a minimum which for me is quite a bit of work.  I’m just not good at simple, no decoration parties.  Yes, I know that my kids don’t really need all the bells and whistles but I enjoy doing it.  Feel sorry for my husband who has to deal with the crazy.

I started with the invites which I got here.  I downloaded two Minecraft fonts here.  If you have never added fonts to your computer, it really is super simple.  I have a Mac and all I needed to do the following:

For Mac OS X 10.3 or higher:

  • Double click the font file and fontbook will open a preview of the font.
  • Click “install font” at the bottom of the preview.

Quick and easy.  The finished product was adorable and we filled the box with some candy that looks like Minecraft diamonds and emeralds.  Pocket Full of Sweets on Etsy provided the candy.il_570xN.660078437_nxpc il_570xN.548245003_jemg

Here is the invite finished.

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Once the invites were done, I decided to figure out the goody bags.  I know all parents despise these bags.  Once home, the little plastic items are strewn all over your house and you secretly try to throw them away a little at a time.  So with that in mind, I decided to make creeper backpacks.  I found these on Amazon.  61k74U0-3rL._SX522_

My dear friend Karen had iron on material in black and she cut out the shapes for me.

ry=400-22Next…what to put in them….back to Pinterest.  I printed out a few games on freeminecraftprintables.com.

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I added in a few small minecraft toys and wrapped up some twizzlers to look like TNT. The TNT label is a free printable from here.

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The decorations were pretty simple although time consuming when you have 3 kiddos in the house but I have a great husband who just gets the job done.  Here is what we came up with….a few Minecraft spiders, creeper and TNT balloons and a pretty cool Minecraft tables scape.
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The spiders are black balloons, black crepe paper and red construction paper for the eyes.  The TNT balloons are red balloons with a TNT label I made in Word.  The creeper balloons are lime green and I used black duct tape for the faces.  All in all, pretty easy just takes some time.  The banner below is another free printable here.

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The food table was my favorite to do.  Nothing better than a whole lot of sugar for little kiddos…..I used everyday items as Minecraft items.  There are a million free food tent printables on Pinterest so just grab one from there.  Not to mention plenty of free paper crafts you can use (see the blocks in the pics beside the white bowls) as decorations.  I picked up a brown tablecloth and a grass tablecloth to use on the table (looks like a grass block).

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Then it was on to find ways to entertain kids that have way too much energy to burn.  I decided on Minecraft bingo with little figurines as prizes.  Never in a million years, did I think it would be such a hit.  The free printable is here.

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The one other big decoration I constructed was a large creeper face in the basement.  I used Colton as free child labor.  He thought it was super cool to put a puzzle together on the wall.

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The kiddos had a blast and I enjoyed putting it all together.  It was great to have help from my hubby, my sis, my brother-in-law, our dear friend Katie, and Karen (my DIYer).  Colton loved it and I was happy to give him an awesome Minecraft party for his 7th Bday.
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Happy Birthday to my first born!

 

How did we figure out Colton needed glasses?

As I lay here incapacitated from a stomach bug, (yep, I’m the mom that gets everything and I mean everything whenever any of my children get sick), I was thinking about my kiddos last week of school and all the conversations I had with other parents out on the playground.  One in particular stuck in my mind and I decided it might be worth a blog post.  So here goes….

This is the tale of how John and I clued into our oldest minion Colton needing glasses.  More than a handful of parents, friends, and family have asked or are just plain curious as to what the tell tale signs are for eye problems for a young child.  I wish I had a profound list of things you should be looking for but that would be a lie.  `

Well, I would tell you that the first thing to look for is running into things such as walls.  No, I am not kidding.  I know from other parent’s whose children have glasses they watched in horror as their kiddos bounced off a wall here and there.  Kiddos that need glasses also have a hard time with distance perception and sometimes identifying objects both close up and far away.  Did we have these issues? Nope.

What did happen was Colton’s eye test at his 5 year old physical.  The nurse was quick to note that he was having some difficulty with his right eye.  She said it could be his age since they get nervous or quiet but she noted in his chart he had a hard time at his 4 year old appointment.  Of course, they told us at his 4 year old check up to take him to the eye doc.  Did we?  No.  Parent fail. Being the great parents we are, we said ok and pushed it to the back of our to-do list and it never surfaced.  Honestly, Colton never seemed to have any problems at all with his eyes.  So after his 5 year appointment and being slightly embarrassed, we vowed to move it to the front of our to-do list.

So a week goes by and the weekend begins, no appointment made for the eye doc but we head down to the pumpkin patch (an annual event).  One of the activities at the pumpkin patch includes shooting paint balls at various sizes of pumpkins at different depths and heights.  No judgement, please.  I’m from North Carolina and what can I say, we enjoy shooting things!  Yes, we let Colton shoot guns.  He and his brother have more Nerf guns then we can count.  Colton also has his on BB gun courtesy of his Papaw.  He loves it!  Do we believe in gun control and gun safety?  Absolutely.  His parents and papaw have lectured him and showed him the proper way to handle guns and we will continue to teach him as he ages.  But I digress….

Colton wanted to shoot at the pumpkins and we obliged.   Once the paint balls were loaded and John helped Colton into position, he aimed to take his first shot and both John and I noticed that he was sighting with his left eye.  Well that is just plain weird and awkward looking.  It happened again and again.  John and I just stood back and watched and then looked over at each other.  No words were spoken but we knew we had a problem.  We covered his eye and he stated clearly, “I can’t see, Mom.  It’s blurry.”  Once again, John and I figured we deserved a large trophy for parents of the year!  But you hear these stories all the time, right?!  We all love our children and want what is best for them but they tend to milk us like cows more so than their teachers, caregivers and grandparents.  They push our buttons like no one else and they know they can.  So sometimes we think they are crying wolf.  Well, not in Colton’s case.  It was a complete fluke that we figured out he needed glasses but we should have listened to the medical professionals first thing.

Yep, I would say this isn’t the usual story of figuring out how your kid might need glasses but it is our story and personally, I thought it was a bit funny.  We quickly went to the eye doc and he needed glasses for just his right eye.  To help combat the problem, he wears a pirate patch on his good eye to strengthen the bad eye every day.  He has been a super trooper about the whole thing although sometimes I get the whiny why do I have to wear a pirate patch.  The alternative is dilating his eye with eye drops so that the weak eye has to work longer.  Unfortunately, the dilation lasts a long time and Colton isn’t fond of going to school with a fish eye.  Other than that little problems, the glasses were a big hit at school.  I was worried that it would be a pain for him to keep up with and he wouldn’t like being different from the other kids.  Neither was a problem.  Most of his friends wanted glasses too and even wore sunglasses to look like him.

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This was just a few weeks after we found out at Halloween.

I can even tell you he has only broken one pair.  I was surprised because he and his brother are a bit rough…and so are his friends.  There is a great deal of wrestling everywhere!  The glasses have survived and over time his eye is improving.  We shall see what the future holds for Colton and his glasses!

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This is just a few days ago and we are still hanging in there with these glasses and missing a few teeth too!

Disney World: We Survived! Tips and Tricks for traveling with lil’ ones!

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I have to tell you, I was a bit worried about this trip.  How would we manage the two boys?  Beckett?  Our big party of 8?  A double stroller?  Snacks?  Rides?  Well, I am here to tell you that it all worked out.  Disney is truly built for families.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with the entire trip.  Was I tired?  Absolutely.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.

So let me start from the beginning.  John and I decided that we were going to make the trip to Disney over school spring break.  First worry.  The crowds.  Ended up not being an issue.  We missed the two massively crowded weeks of Spring Break.  Thank you, DCPS.  Second, I wanted to stay on Disney property.  I had no real reason for this except I stayed on Disney properties as a kid and loved it.  Maybe I could use the excuse that I wanted to use the monorail and other systems within Disney for travel.  Third, we decided to give my parents the trip to Disney for Christmas.  I really wanted us all together and not in separate rooms.

Wilderness Lodge Villas

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I started researching and decided our best option was a villa on Disney property.  These are actually not easy to reserve since most are Disney Club Vacation properties.  Luckily, we booked the Villas at Wilderness Lodge.  It was a perfect set up.  Two bedroom, two bathroom, kitchen and living room.  One bedroom had a king, the other had two queens plus a pull out in the living room.  room-xc-g01Aunty Court room-xc-g14 room-xc-g09 room-xc-g00decided to join us and she slept on the pull out in the living room.  The rooms even had two large walk in closets.  Yep, we gently and lovingly put Beckett in our closet to sleep!  I couldn’t have been happier with the room.  We had plenty of space to take breaks and hang out which is much needed with 3 kiddos 6 and under.

Wilderness Lodge Restaurants

The restaurants on property are good.  Whispering Canyons is loud and rowdy but perfect if you have kids that want to participate in activities going on during your meal.  Beckett didn’t love it but we made it work.  The 5 star Disney restaurant on property Artist Point was absolutely delicious.  Peaceful.  Quiet.  A nice reprieve from the daily chaos. Some may say the prices are high but it reminded us of restaurant prices in DC.  Roaring Fork near the pool had breakfast, lunch and dinner options.  Once again, it was quick and easy.  No complaints.

Wilderness Lodge Pools

Nice setup but could be a bit larger.  There is one main pool for the main lodging of Wilderness Lodge.  It has a kids slide as well as a kids splash park.  The boys enjoyed it thoroughly.  There is a bar to get drinks and snacks.  Every day, there were activities coordinated around this pool.  Overall, I found this pool exhausting.  I wanted peace after the parks.  We ventured over most of the time to the pool reserved for the Villas.  It was secluded and quiet.  There were kids by this pool as well.  It was just more subdued and more to my liking.  Both pools had lifejackets for the kiddos which was extremely nice!

Grocery Delivery and Stroller Rental

This is one of the best things we did.  Hands down.  We had groceries delivered by Stroller and Groceries.  We ordered ahead of time and when we checked in, they brought our groceries right up to our room.  They have refrigeration units that the bellhops place the groceries in until you are all checked in.  The other online grocery that everyone uses is garden grocer.com.  We really utilized our groceries for breakfasts, some lunches, tons of snacks and for the parks.  We bought water by the case and that was a lifesaver and moneysaver!  It was nice to have it already in the bottom of the stroller ready to go when the boys asked while out and about.

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This stroller was a must for the boys after a long day!

If you are wondering why we went with the first grocery service, the answer is easy.  We rented our stroller through Kingdom Strollers.  We rented a Mini GT Double.  It was heaven sent.  I can’t tell you how much we needed this stroller.  It came with a rain cover and a small cooler.  Both were used and needed.  You also get free grocery delivery with stroller rental.  I had envisioned using the stroller for Beckett and one of the boys as they got tired.  The boys ended up using it the entire time and Beckett was stuck in the umbrella stroller we brought along for the airport transfers.  It worked out perfectly but would have been difficult if not for the high ratio of adults to children in our party.  Thanks grandparents and Aunt Courtney again!

Airport Transfers

Since I mentioned the airport, I will explain how we got to and from the airport.  Since we booked our vacation through Disney, we rode the Magical Express Bus.  All of it is prearranged and once you arrive in Orlando, you jump on a charter bus and are dropped off at your hotel.  It was super easy and we really didn’t ride the bus for that long.  We had two or three stops before we made it to Wilderness Lodge.  On the way home, we checked in at our hotel the night before, dropped our luggage off (didn’t see it again until DC) and jumped on the bus.  It made traveling with kiddos super easy.

Transportation to the Parks from Wilderness Lodge

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Coop and I on the boat to Magic Kingdom.

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This is what the boat ride looked like at the end of the day!

We had boat access across the lagoon to Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary Resort (monorail is located here).  The boys loved it but it was a bit rough with the double stroller.  This is why it was awesome with so many adults in our party.  Some of the boats required you folding the stroller, others didn’t.  Also, the stroller we rented would still fold even with stuff in the bottom basket which was nice.  Pack lightly if possible or take the bus.  We had bus service right outside the Villas to everywhere.

Internet Access

I am only putting this in here because my husband had spotty internet access that we assume was because we were at the end of the building.  I never had any issue on my phone or my kindle.  This is probably a sign he shouldn’t have been doing work on our vacation.

Entering the Parks and Fast Passes

Man, has Disney advanced since I was a kid.  Magic bands are the new gadget to make your trip easier.  You get a band before you leave in the mail for each member of your family.  Everything is loaded on this bracelet.  Room keys, credit cards, reservations etc.  Don’t panic…kids do not get a credit card unless you want them to which would never happen in our household!  It was nice not to have to carry a wallet with you and you could pay for your meals and souvenirs with the Magic band.  Also, the Magic bands hold your Fast Passes.

Set up your Fast Passes ASAP.  Figure out what your family wants to do and plan your fast passes accordingly.  I made some minor mistakes on this by scheduling fast passes in the afternoon.  My kids were wiped by early afternoon.  You change your fast passes but if you try the day of most everything is gone until late at night.  For the first two hours the parks are open, most rides are fine and do not require fast passes.  Some rides quickly build waits:  Toy Story Mania, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Expedition Everest, Rapids, Peter Pan, Meet and Greet Princess especially Frozen (I skipped all princess stuff this trip).  A smart move is to set up fast passes for some of these rides toward lunch time or after and then hit them in the morning so you get two rides in.

Reservations for Restaurants

This is not something to mess around with when booking your trip if your kids eat on a schedule.  Places books fast and we found out with our party of 8, we couldn’t get a reservation from 5-8pm at a great deal of restaurants.  If you want to eat at Be Our Guest, you  have to book 6 months out.  Yep, 6 months out.  It is one of the newest restaurants and every says the food is good.  We didn’t go.  No reservation for dinner and walking in for lunch is hard.  Some of the best restaurants are at Epcot back in World Showcase plus you can walk around with a glass of wine or a beer here.  Make sure to check those out.  If you make reservations and need to cancel, do it a day ahead or you will get charged.  I learned this the hard way.  Lesson learned.

Character Dining

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Bright and early at Chef Mickey’s!

One of the best meals we had was breakfast at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary.  Food was on a buffet and pretty good.  The best part was all of the old school characters:  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Daisy.  The boys got pics with everyone while we ate our breakfast.  No lines, no waiting.  Awesome.  It was painless and extremely well organized.  We even got a group pic at the beginning.  I will chat down below about our Character lunch at Hollywood Studios with the crew from Disney Junior.  The food was good, organization lack luster but Coop enjoyed it for his birthday.  On another trip, we had breakfast at the Castle with the princesses.  That was excellent…this trip we had no princess interaction.  Big time saver but we will see what Beckett likes in the future.  Personally, I am pushing for her to attend Jedi Training Academy too.

Traveling with an Infant

ry=400-5This had to be one of the coolest things that has been added at Disney.  Rider Pass gives adults in a party that stay back with a child the opportunity to ride the ride right after the rest of their party.  It worked great.  My mom stayed back with Beckett on a rollercoaster and when we finished, she walked right in the fast pass line with both boys to ride it.  The boys got two rides and everyone participated.  You can only take two people with you on Rider Pass.

Pin Trading

We experienced pin trading with our nephews on our last Disney trip years ago.  The kiddos really enjoyed it especially our oldest.  Everyone in the park, Disney employees are wearing pins and they are happy to trade with you.  We bought our oldest a starter set and as the week wore on, he happily traded everywhere we went.  Of course, his mamaw, papaw and parents bought him some super cool pins he didn’t want to trade that included his favorite Star Wars characters.

Memory Maker

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Yep, we signed up for this and it was a good call.  It’s $169 for pictures but it is any and all pictures you want to get that are taken all over the parks. We are a picture family and I can’t get enough pictures of my motley crew.  The ride shots were hilarious and we even got a few videos on the rides.  You can access pictures taken within an hour and download then or later.

The Parks: Magic Kingdom

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We spent two days here. This is the park that your kiddos will enjoy the most if they are on the younger side.  Magic Kingdom will easily take two days unless you stay from dawn till dusk.  We just couldn’t do that.  Our kiddos couldn’t make it a full day.  We headed back to the pool before dinner and had some down time each day.

There are too many rides at Magic Kingdom.  Depending on your kiddos interests and adventure levels, there is something for everyone.  Here fast passes are key.  As the day goes on, the lines become ridiculous in some places.  My 6 and 4 year olds rode everything.  Not surprising if you know our parenting style or my kiddos.  Check height requirements.  We thought middle minion would make the height requirement for Space Mountain.  Nope…missed it by 1/2 inch.  Major meltdown.  This made us check when we traveled to other parks so we didn’t have the tantrum trouble again.  There really isn’t anything overly scary in Magic Kingdom except maybe Stitch’s show, Space Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion.  Our boys were fine on the last two.  We skipped Stitch.  They loved the Toy Story ride because it is interactive.  We did that one twice.  Thunder Mountain Railroad and Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train ry=400-6ry=400and Splash Mountain are fast pass musts.  We didn’t get to Splash Mountain.  Totally my fault since I messed up our fast passes.  Oh well.  Next time.

The Parks: Animal Kingdom

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These are the animals the boys won at Dino World!

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Check out Colton. He is cowering in terror!

Truth be told, I was dreading this one.  Ended up being pretty fun.  We used our fast passes here for Expedition Everest, Rapids, and Dinosaur.  Warning:  Dinosaur was a bit rough and scary for my kiddos.  This was the scariest ride we went on.  Not to mention it upset my stomach with all the jostling.  The dinosaurs looked real, almost too real.  Expedition Everest has a height requirement that middle kiddo didn’t make.  Wasted fast pass.  Next time.  The Rapids ride was a classic water ride.  You get soaked.  Kids liked it until they got wet.  Not to mention we went to eat lunch in a very air conditioned restaurant and turned into popsicles.  While I’m talking about the restaurant, go to Yak and Yeti.  Best food we had at Disney.  Asian inspired and great adult and kiddo options.  Best ride in Animal Kingdom was the Safari.  The kids loved seeing all the animals up close.  We enjoyed it and they made me take a ton of pics.  Don’t forget to visit the Boneyard playground and the Dino Fair games.  Both were big hits. The boys enjoyed Animal Kingdom immensely.

The Parks:  Hollywood Studios

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We ended up spending two days here.  I will explain this in a bit.  I don’t think that is necessary but our kids actually enjoyed it.  The first day we used our fast passes for Toy Story Mania, the stunt show (waste of a fast pass) and Star Wars.  We had lunch at Hollywood and Vine with the Disney Junior characters to include Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First and Handy Manny.  This was for Coop’s bday and he enjoyed it.  Food was good but organization was a little lackluster.  We thought we had signed up for the Jedi Training Academy but we hadn’t.  The boys really wanted to do this therefore we had a second day here.  Our boys LOVED the Jedi Academy.

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You dress like Jedis and get a quick training session from a Jedi Master before Darth Vader shows up and you fight him. If you do this, you must be at the park right when it opens, run safely (we were yelled out repeatedly) to the sign up counter and wait patiently in line.  If you are us, we practiced lying with our 3 year old to say he is 4 so that he could participate.  He would be 4 the next week so not really a big deal, right?!  The sign up is near the Indiana Jones Stunt spectacular.  It fills ups quick.  It was so much fun to watch the boys.  We have some of our best pics and videos from this one event.  Our kids loved all the rides here, including Tower of Terror.  Yep, we are the parents that take our kids on scary rides.

The Parks:  Epcot

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We spent the least amount of time here. We could have spent more but we just didn’t have the time budgeted in our week.  We went to Epcot for two dinners that were above average as far as our Disney dining experiences went.  We ate in Italy (Via Napoli) and Japan (Teppan Edo) and both meals were smash hits for adults and kiddos alike.  Note:  don’t go too late when you make a reservation at World Showcase.  You forget what a hike it is to the back of Epcot.  Or maybe it could have been that Courtney and I were riding in a circle on the monorail.  We were tired.  That is our excuse.  We rode a few rides here:  Soarin , Spaceship Earth (the big golf ball) and Nemo.  The boys enjoyed them all and really had a blast after the rides.  Epcot rides tend to let you off the ride into places with interactive exhibits.  The boys loved the aquarium and the games under Spaceship Earth  We would have tried

My one and only regret is not making it to the parks at night.  My kiddos and the adults were hitting the hay super early.  I wish we would have taken it easy for one day and went back to the park at night to ride some rides and maybe see the Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom or the Fireworks at Epcot.  We will definitely do that on our next Disney trip and we honestly can’t wait to go back!

 

Easy, Fun and Colorful Easter Craft

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I am sure you have seen this craft on Pinterest a million times…well, so have I!  I decided to finally give it a go and it was fun and super easy.

This is what you will need:

1. Embroidery floss (this is easy to go overboard on…so many colors)

2. Elmer’s glue or liquid starch

3. Water balloons

First thing is first, blow up your water balloons.  This is what your husband is for!  If you have a pump, much easier!

Mix your elmer’s glue with water so that it is watery.  Then take the string and circle it around the glue mixture.  This way it will not get tangled.  IMG_7222

I used one skein of embroidery floss per balloon.  Then all you do is just wrap the string around the balloon.

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This is the finished project!  I would make one suggestion, don’t lay them down.  If you can hang them up with a clothespin to dry.  If you do lay them down, make sure to roll them over.  The glue/water mixture drains to the bottom and takes a long time to dry.

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I think they turned out great!

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are Back! Making of the Masks…..

You can tell I live in the land of boys because I spend my days with Angry Birds, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT).  Our older minion decided he wanted a TMNT themed 6th Birthday party.  Most of you that know me, think I am crazy for the details but I like to just call it completely thorough.  Of course, once he made his decision, I got on Pinterest and created a board for TMNT parties.  I quickly decided that our party favors would be in a pizza box because we all know the turtles love a good pizza.  I also wanted to make mutagen (slime), nunchuks (yes, I know they are a weapon but our version is pretty soft), and masks.

This post is about my good friend Karen who made the masks for me.  I will never pretend that I have the time to do all of these things by myself and more importantly I generally lack the patience.  I’m getting better with each year that rolls by.  Karen is my “beyond useful” friend.  She is the person (well and her husband Kevin) that if there is a zombie apocalypse, I am finding them first.  She can make anything.  There is never a project she tells me “no”.  So, I sent her on a mission to make TMNT masks and here is what she found!

Searching the internet for a pattern and tutorial I was dismayed. What I found were many not so inspiring go-bys. The felt masks (which were many) did not look like a TMNT mask. Then there were the ones that used felt and elastic. These did not look good either. I decided to reinvent the TMNT mask for that b-day party.

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Yes, I bought T-Shirts to use.  It was a very frustrating search for the fabric, the right color, the right texture, the right stretchy, etc.  I was browsing the men’s clothing section in a retail store and came across the perfect material.  I cut the shirt into strips, 2 1/4″. A couple of the shirts had seams on the side, due to this and not wanting the seam in the facial area I cut the strips on the front center.

 

 

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I then went on a search for the sticky back felt. I found it in blue and red. For the orange and purple I had to use regular felt and applied permanent fabric double stick tape. The felt is used to give structure to the light weight t-shirt fabric and is soft on the face. The felt should be on the inside of the mask, not showing. It also keeps the fabric from fraying around the eye holes.

I made a paper stencil pattern and traced onto the felt with chalk. Chalk works great on this and easily wipes away.  I cut out the masks, but not the eyes yet.

 

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Here I have all my strips of material ready for the felt application.

 

 

 

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Progress, lots of eye holes, but worth it. I also used a small rolling tool to make sure that the fabric and felt had a nice flat consistent fusing.

 

 

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I applied the sticky felt to the middle of the fabric strip and then cut out the eyes. A little time consuming but way better that trying to line up eye holes on stretchy fabric and sticky felt.  (Note that my strips are the same width as the felt mask. These are for 5 and 6 year old kids. I would suggest that if you make these for older kids or an adult costume you will want to make sure it is scaled accordingly as well as the eye placement.)

 

 

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I applied all the masks to the fabric strips so that I could just continue to cut eye holes without having to stop, apply, and cut.

 

Ready for a turtley awesome birthday party!

 

 

All done and clearly the minions loved them.  Don’t mind the bad pics, hard to catch a moving target!

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Next up, nunchuks!

Being a “Boy Mom”

Well, parenting boys has been a real adventure.  I mean it.  It has been eye opening and at times shocking.  Sometimes I get really pissed and sometimes I laugh my ass off at my boys.  There are definitely things you must get use to to survive being a “Boy Mom”.

Here goes:

10.  Noises from the body.  Honestly, I have never really had an issue with this one b/c my family has always bored a little on the crass side with burping and farting and I can see the humor in it.  However, my boys take this to a whole new level.  They drink liquid just to see who can burp the loudest.  It goes on for hours (not really but it seems that way).  The farting gets on my nerves. My oldest spawn thinks it is super funny to come up to another family member and pass gas directly on us or in our face.  That is just rude and I tell him that every time.  It doesn’t seem to sink in.  Even when I yell and get crazy, I see him disappear around the corner and giggle.  UGH!!!!!!!

9. Hungry Much:  I always heard boys could eat you out of house and home. Well, it is absolutely true.  I only have two and we go to Costco once a week.  Yep, you heard me right.  We buy those big cartons of fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes) and these monkeys wipe it out.  Sometimes they eat more than John and I eat in a seating.  And they are always snacking.  The snacking never ends.  My pantry door doesn’t get a break after school and on the weekends.  I dread when they are teenagers.

8.  Safety:  It doesn’t exist with boys.  Their frontal lobe of their brains don’t develop until late in life…you know…the part that actually thinks through actions and sees the possible results or consequences.  My youngest spawn wouldn’t care what the consequences and results are, he would do it anyway.  He is 110% all the time whether he should be or not.  He runs as hard and fast as he can, he climbs up things that weren’t meant for humans and has literally had more black eyes than I can count.  We have had stitches, a bead up a nose, tons of scraps and bruises and just recently staples in the head.  Funny enough, most of the serious injuries have been with my oldest.  I blame his parents because we don’t hover over him so much.  He is my calm, responsible child.  Maybe I should rethink my take on him since the staple incident.  Don’t worry, I say my prayers regularly in hopes that they don’t end up with worse injuries.  Our charts at Children’s Hospital are impressive.  We are lucky though….no broken bones yet…but my oldest is only 5.  I’m not sure what is going to happen when we add a 3rd child!  Yeesh…especially if it is another boy.

7.  Bath Time:  This might be my favorite because I don’t get crazy on this one.  John does.  Boys do not calmly bath themselves.  Our bath time looks like a bomb went off in the bathroom.  Water on the walls, on the floors, on the parents.  John usually loses it at least once a bath night.  Our youngest spawn can’t control himself (frontal lobe issues) and has been yanked out of the bath more times than I can count for his bad behavior.  Not to mention…they love to pass gas in the bathtub and grab each other (see #4).  Nothing sets the giggles off from my two like seeing bubbles rising in the bath!

6.  Clothes are a joke:  Clothes are a joke to my boys.  They only wear them because I tell them they have to everyday.  They ruin them.  You wouldn’t believe the things I find grinded into their school uniforms and everyday clothes.  I can’t tell you how many how to remove the stain articles I have read and followed.  So if you see me out and my kids look rough, yep, squarely blame it on me.  It is totally not worth putting them in nice clothes.  I’m fine with being judged in this regard.

5. Clothes really are a joke:  There is nothing my boys enjoy more than their own bodies.  One of their favorite things to do: get out of the bathtub and run around nude.  They chase each other, they wrestle and hit each other….all while nude.  I imagine my house on any given day or night might look like a scene from a Greek bath.  Not to mention, they love laying in bed with no clothes on.  Can’t say I blame them.

4.  Touching it:  This goes with the nudity.  I have never witnessed the likes of what my boys do everyday.  They are always touching themselves. Grabbing their “tallywhackers” as we call it in our household, is a hobby, a way of life, a leisurely activity.  I can’t tell you how many times a day it happens but it could be while eating a meal (yep, they go right back to eating after the grabbing), in the bath, watching tv, hanging out with friends and family, and most inappropriately in public.  I have become immune to it but it still is crazy to watch!

3.  And the Award goes to:  I thought girls were dramatic…ha…that’s a joke.  My boys are all drama.  If they aren’t fighting over something, they are whining about something and the crying never ends.  No, it is not a lack of parenting.  They are just dramatic.  The emotional meltdown that transpired after the oldest spawn gets beaten hanging on the monkey bars by the youngest spawn is one to remember.  Or the sob fest that the youngest spawn has every night when he can’t use mouthwash like the oldest spawn.  Or the epic meltdown when I ask oldest spawn to make his bed in the morning and put his pjs away.  Or every Friday morning, both kids not wanting to get out of bed because they are so tired from the week.  Whining, crying, pouting.  It never ends.

2. Messy:  I should have known better.  My husband wasn’t exactly a neat freak when I met him.  He had mildew on his towels and it didn’t bother him.  I should have known what came from his loins would be no different.  My boys have been known to drag every toy known to man out into the floor and then be upset that there is no more room to play with even more toys.  Clean it up!  Yeah, right!  Dropping blobs of food on your clothing would concern most…not my boys.  Having a bowel movement in your pants while at the park would entice most of us to want a change.  Not my boys.  They go for the dramatic fit (see #3) because they have to stop playing at the park.  Or how about peeing on the toilet then dripping it down their legs.  Nah, no biggie, they don’t clean up the toilet (see #1) and they wipe it off their legs with their pants.  Awesome.

And for the grand finale….

1.  The never ending battle with the toilet.  Seriously, I never imagined this one would be so hard or gross. I thought it should be fun for the boys.  You get to hit the target.  Oh, yeah….not so easy.  In the short time they use the potty, their minds wander and there is pee on the other parts of the toilet, the floor and walls.  Really!?!  Mind boggling.  I try to be diligent about making sure they do a good job with putting the lid down.  Unfortunately, it backfired.  They leave the seat down and pee on it.  Then I sit in it.  Yuck.  And flushing…this is a hit or a miss.  Sometimes they do it.  Sometimes they don’t.  Cleaning up after boy’s in a bathroom is just simply gross.

For all of you “Boy” moms out there, I salute you.  We live in a war zone everyday and sometimes it is hard to come out on the other side with our sanity!

Taylor’s Milk and Cookies Baby Shower

We traveled home to NC over Memorial Day and I was one of many hostesses for my cousin Taylor’s baby shower.  We decided on a milk and cookies theme because if you know anything about Tay, she loves milk and sweets!  It was an absolute perfect day for an outdoor shower and we were lucky enough to host it at Shuford House DSC_1950in downtown Hickory.  It DSC_1949was such a lovely location that a wedding party showed up for photos.

We decided on a rustic theme with light coral and light aqua as our color selection.  Those colors are some of Tay’s favorites.  My super crafty cousin and sister to the mom-to-be, Mackenzie Queen, made most of the decorations with a little help from the rest of the hostesses.  She has her own store and makes the cutest home decor.  Check it out at D&M Designs.

 

Here are some of her creations used at the shower.

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If you noticed the bows and mustaches in the pic, my dear friend Kristen Lail made these and man, were they super nice.  She brought them with her all the way from Cali!  Here is the tutorial.  The Take A Guess chalkboard was courtesy of Homegoods and will go in Baby Pugh’s nursery!  Tay took it home and we will see soon, who was the closest!  We also used If You Give A Mouse A Cookie for a guest book and we also sent the guests home with a big cookie!

Another important aspect to this baby shower was the food.  All the food you see is gluten free because Taylor has celiac disease.  Although you would think it would be tough to come up with cookies, baked goods and desserts that are gluten free, it wasn’t at all!  Everything we made fit the bill!

On the menu, we had milk shake shooters that were as simple as making vanilla and chocolate milkshakes and pouring it into shot glasses.  Another fantastic treat were the gluten free chocolate chip cookies by Immaculate Baking Co!  These are the best gluten free cookies I have ever had and they are take and bake straight from Harris Teeter.  Other stores carry them as well.  We also served rice krispy treats, cupcakes from My Local Bakery, fruit skewers, and strawberry lemonade push pops (recipe courtesy of Push-up Pops by Courtney Dial Whitmore).

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Get these shot glasses off of Amazon or any kitchen supply website!

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Best Gluten free cookies ever! The jar should say Baby Pugh! My brain is mush!

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The cupcake stand was courtesy of Mac! The adorable pendants were bought on easy at angieheartsjared.

 

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These are beyond easy and great for kids and adults! The wood blocks were made by John! Drill some holes and paint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cutting up the fruit and threading on the skewer takes some time but the presentation makes it worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The buffet came together beautifully thanks to a fantastic group of ladies!

For beverages, we provided a milk bar, tea, and flavored water with small milk bottles for cups.

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These bottles were adorable and reusable!

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Love the mason jar drink dispensers!

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Got to have all 3: Strawberry, Chocolate and Just Plain-o Milk!

Here is a few shots of the shower!

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Mom-to-Be Tay, Aunt-to-Be Mac and Grandma-to-Be Patty

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Tay and the Hostesses!

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This is our Grandmother Marge and her granddaughters. She turned 88! We sang Happy Birthday to her!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tay, we hope you enjoyed your self and we can’t wait to meet Baby Pugh!

John Talk – The 4 Steps a Parent Needs to Survive Kid Movies, Cartoons, and Shows

Looking at the title, someone without a child or just with a baby might simply decide it is a waste of time or not worth worrying about at the moment. But that someone couldn’t be more wrong.

 And if you are already a parent of a toddler type, I apologize if my words of wisdom have reached you too late. In some respects it reached too late for me, at least the first time. I languished hours of my life away in semi-torment and unabashed horror living in the fact that I must have done something very bad in my life to deserve this treatment. But by kid #2, I knew the tricks of the trade to survive a little easier.

  1.  Most important, repetition. Realize that unless you are some type of an exceptional parent that has the skills to entertain your kids constantly with little to no assistance from the box that is a television, you will be seeing this movie, this cartoon, or this show…constantly and repetitively. I know that kids like to watch the same thing, but not endlessly. My first would want to watch the same 30 minute episode of something over, and over, and over again. This is singlehandedly the most important thing to know. You will likely be around for those car rides with the DVD playing the movie, the DVR or on demand at the house playing the movie, or the iPad or other device playing the movie. Understand this concept because, knowing this, …
  2. Only subject your child to movies/cartoons/shows that you can stand to see, and hear, over and over and over again. So how do you do that? It is as easy as it sounds, watch it first yourself. Yes, might be a slight waste of your time, yes the first one, or two, or seven may be mindless (Sponge Bob) or annoying (Diego) or illogical (Dora, Bubble Guppies), yes it may be painful, BUT when you find those ones that you can stand, knowing item #1 above, the rest of your life during the toddler years will be a bit easier to handle. For me, I found that I could stand/liked Backyardigans (cartoon), any of the Star Wars Lego shows/movies, Prep and Landing (Disney Christmas cartoons, if you haven’t seen them do so this year), and Sesame Street (old school but at least different each episode).
  3. So knowing #1 and #2, understand that you will have to have said movie, said cartoon, or said show available at a moment’s notice. Toddlers can’t really appreciate and don’t really care that you don’t have a copy to watch anytime. Thus, tape to DVR and show them the first time from it, or get a DVD and play it from there. Why? Because when you think it genius to have them just watch that episode and they love it, you can’t have them watch it again. But if you DVR’d it or you have it on DVD, you can play it again and again and again…immediately.
  4. And last but not least, for those truly epic ones that are the favorite (Disney’s Wreck It Ralph, Backyardigans, and the Prep and Landing movies in our house) ones, have a back-up. We were traveling by car to my in-laws one year. It’s a 7+ hour drive from DC. We smartly left early to have the boys sleep some at the start (bonus point), but we also left the Prep and Landing DVD at home. Panic ensued about halfway through the trip as our youngest tends to demand things vocally and he wanted no part of anything else but his beloved Prep and Landing. So what did we do? Stopped at a Wal-Mart and bought a second copy. Now we leave one copy in the house and the other in the car. As for Wreck It Ralph and the Backyardigans, we have DVDs and copies on iPad. Thus we are prepared for anytime need, at any time, on any device.

 So there you have it. Follow these 4 simple steps and you too can handle the toddler years, at least in one respect.

A few of my favorite things…April

I figured I would start sharing some of my favorite things each month. I love it when people open my eyes to new places to eat, new gadgets, new fashion trends (not that I am very good at following them),  and just generally things I love this month.

So….here we go!

Pork Dumplings from Toki Underground. I went to an event at Union Market in April called Thread and it was full of fantastic fashion, home decor and of course food. Toki Underground was a pop up that was only staying for a few weeks in the market and it has been there for months now. These dumplings are unbelievable. My friend Katie, my sis and I were laughing as people actually ran after the trays just to snag one of these.

Chromecast…..35 dollars and endless possibilities. John and I are constantly behind the curve on the latest technology but at least we try to catch up.  This is my new favorite toy. I am catching up on Scandal, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards. Not to mention, there are so many cartoons and movies for the boys to watch. Strangely, my boys have become obsessed with Super Mario Bros. Super Show. In case you don’t remember, this show came out when I was young. It starred WWE Hall of Famer Lou Albano as Mario.  I wouldn’t say it was an award winner but then again, my boys love it.  t think it has to do with Colton’s obsession with Super Mario World on the Wii.

My Tieks!  Seriously, the best flats I have ever owned.  If you don’t have a pair, pay the price.  They are worth it.  They have a good sole, my feet never hurt even after wearing them all day, and they come in cool packaging.  I mean seriously, everyone loves to get a pretty package!

Klorane Extra Dry Shampoo is making my life easy.  Most of you know how thick my hair is and I really don’t need to wash it but every few days.  This stuff makes it last another day.  Lots of people don’t like dry shampoo but this one has a good smell.  Major downer…small in size.  I also use Dove Dry Shampoo.  It is way cheaper and just as good!

Moving onto my favorite things: BOOKS!  The list goes on and on!  This month has been a book winner…here goes:

The King by J.R. Ward. Seriously one of the best paranormal series I have ever read and this book in the series brings us full circle back to Wrath and Beth.

Bad for You by Abbi Glines. This lady’s Seabreeze series is fantastic. Love the characters and all the interplay. Krit, the lead singer of Jackdown, is to die for. I have been waiting for his story for too long.  I can’t wait to meet her this weekend at the DC Author event.

Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins.  DC local and author of this amazon Young Adult trilogy knocks my socks off.  This is the last of Kaidan and Anna and I loved every minute of it.  Excited to meet her too this weekend!

Nash by Jay Crownover.  One of her Marked Men series.  These guys are a great group and Nash proves no different.  This is the first one where I actually cried.  I was surprised I loved Nash so much but he may end up being my favorite.

Out of Mind by Jen McLaughlin.  Another trilogy coming to an end.  Finn and Carrie are a favorite couple.  Read them all!

Reasonable Doubt by Whitney Gracia Williams.  This is a serial and a hot, steamy one.  I am patiently waiting for part 2.

The Proposition 4 by H.M. Ward.  She is the queen of serials and the Ferro brothers.  I just wrote a review on this one.  Bryan may be my new have Ferrro but I am not sure how long he will be around!

As far as TV goes: you all know I love The Following.  Kevin Bacon is the best!  I can’t believe the season finale and I am hating we have to wait half a year for another season.

Suits:  John and I love this show.The cliffy with Mike leaving is so not cool but back on in June!  Answers soon! Woohoo!

Scandal, seriously where have I been. I can’t get enough of this show and thank you to my Chromecast, I am all caught up! Well, I have another season to go….I mean the angst between Olivia and the President. The First Lady, man, she takes scorned to a whole new level. Olivia’s staff…love them all.

Don’t let me forget my new favorite anthem….Ain’t it Fun by Paramore.  I listen to this on repeat!  Hayley William’s voice is one of the best out there!

Easter and Spring.  My kids love Easter eggs.  I love them too just hate putting them back together.  I love going to church with my family and seeing everyone in my hometown of Bethlehem.

I love fresh flowers.  They make me happy so I am trying to keep them around the house!

Coop’s Bday.  He has a good birthday month.  He was so excited this year about everything birthday!  We celebrated at Mamaw and Papaw’s and had a Minion themed birthday party!  We all enjoyed it!

That’s it for April!

 

Most of the links are to Amazon and they are not sponsoring this post.  I just happen to use Amazon…a lot.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Coop!

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Coop’s 3rd Bday

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Coop’s 2nd Bday

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Coop’s 1st Bday

 

It is hard to believe that our lil’ guy is turning 3 today! Having Coop in our lives could be compared to a never ending exercise class! He has more energy than we know what to do with! We celebrated with family and friends this weekend and it was a blast!  It has been a wild ride with him over the last 3 years but I wouldn’t want it any other way! Happy Birthday, Coop! Keep on dancing’ little man!