Wednesday, September 03, 2014


I am currently flat lined by work deadlines.  When and if I ever recover there are interesting posts on the horizon, including:

1.  BFF is back (ie, Ruby visits Texas)

2.  Here we go again (ie, Norah starts first grade and Lou starts Spanish immersion pre-school--ole! )

3.  Danger Will Robinson (ie, Louis learns to swim)

4.  Redecoration (ie, the kids get new beds)

5.  Sharknado (no explanation needed).

Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


This year Norah's birthday fell on a Saturday so we had her party on the day she turned six.  This year we took a different approach to her birthday.  Instead of having a big production (like I love), we kept it simple and told her she could invite just a handful of her best girl friends.  (The benefit of having a summer birthday is that you do not have to include the entire class.)  She is really into painting and drawing lately and so asked for an art-themed party.  That I can deliver.

From us she got a hula hoop, two-wheeled scooter, IKEA bed for her American Girl doll, and a set of books.

The birthday girl in all her glory.  A few days before she lost her second front tooth and she is now full on jack-o-lantern.  The missing two front teeth is my least favorite. I think it is because I know the next stage is the big, grown up horse teeth.  Norah never used a pacifier and rarely took a bottle so her baby teeth were perfectly straight.  Her bottom two are finally growing in and they are most definitely not perfectly straight.  She's still pretty cute.

This was probably the easiest kid party I have put together thus far.  It helped that there were only seven kids in attendance (including Norah), and parents dropped them off.  That made food especially super simple.  A few weeks ago I ordered a printable set off of Etsy that corresponded to the art theme and was personalized with her name and age.  It came with a lot of stuff we did not use, including personalized water bottle labels.  Water bottle labels always come with these Etsy kits.  It kills me.  Does anyone actually make personalized water bottles?

Favors were cheap and easy and the girls loved them.  They included a watercolor set, Crayola marker, and package of fruit snacks.  It cost me under $10 for all of them.

I have finally learned to put the favors right at the front door where it is impossible for a kid to leave without taking one.  There have been far too many times I have spent a lot of time and money on the take-aways only to end up with the majority of them still in the bowl after everyone was gone.

There were two main "stations" set up.  The first was on a folding table in the main room and was the painting center.  Each kid got a canvas, brush, and paper plate for paint.  

The second was the craft station on the dining room table.  It was an area full of paper, glue, scissors, markers, crayons, sequins, and glitter.

Decor was pretty basic and almost exclusively from that printable set.  The banner was the most time consuming as I painstakingly glued and cut out each part of it.  It looked awesome though, so totally worth it.

There were cute designs intended to be centerpieces or even cupcake toppers but since we did neither I ended up making a simple garland for the food area.

Bubby found cute art smocks at the dollar store.

As each guest arrived I had Norah take a photo with them in front of the easel.  After the party, we used the photos for cute thank you cards.  Craftiness abounds. (As an aside, every year in lieu of gifts we have asked for book donations.  Norah was really into it this year and excited about putting together the donation package.  Her attitude about the whole thing is both inspiring and makes me glad we started doing it all those years ago.  My own little parenting win).

I have finally wised up to the fact that for the most part kids do not eat much at parties.  There is too much to do, too much fun to have, and they must leave room for as much cake as possible.  So we just did "Van Gogh Veggies..."

"Frida Kahlo Fruit..."

"Chagall Chips..."

And not pictured, "Picasso Pizza."  I had a sign that said "Creative Juice" that I completely forgot to put above the drinks.  Win some, lose some.

On the invite we asked the kids to wear clothes they did not mind getting a little messy.  However the birthday girl insisted on wearing her "fancy dress that looks like a painting."

First on the agenda was the paint.  I was impressed by how into it all the kids were.  There were very few spills and they all ended up with a cool canvas to take home.  Norah told everyone about how Picasso cut off his own ear.

The little boys wanted in on the action but Norah made me promise to put them at their own table.

Their painting started off pretty legit but after access to the entire rainbow of colors pretty much turned into what Louie described as their "poop painting."

After painting was a quick pizza break.

And then they got to make a craft.  I had some ideas and basic guidelines but they could also make whatever they wanted.  There was a lot of glue and glitter involved.  I wanted to make a joke about how glitter is like herpes (you never get rid of it) but figured it would be lost on this crowd.  And someone might tell their parents.

After the craft it was cake time.  Like always, Aunt Stephanie (cake boss) was on deck.  She and Norah talked about the cake for weeks after Norah saw a photo of a rainbow cake in a magazine and knew she had to have it.  

This bad boy is six layers, covered in buttercream frosting, and decorated with skittles and marshmallows. And 100% gluten free.  It was amazing.

Everyone oohed and aahed over it and literally gasped when we cut into it.  I did not know six year olds could be so impressed.  It may be my favorite cake boss creation to date.  These two gobbled it up.

After cake my bright idea was to have the kids do a chalk mural in the driveway.  It had been overcast all day and I thought that would be the perfect wrap up to the party.  Of course, as soon as we walked outside the clouds parted and the sun bore down.  We lasted about 30 seconds before having to completely abandon the idea.

Thankfully, everyone was content to run around inside until their parents came to collect them.  And with that, six was in the books.

The S's came over as the party was winding down to hang out and give Norah birthday love and presents. She asked for Lego Friends sets and was pleasantly surprised to open a set from the Lego movie.  Megan took the lead on putting it together.

Everyone was pooped by the end, but it was a great day of celebrating my very favorite girl.

I am grateful for every second we have gotten to spend with her.  She is my treasure.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Father's Day 2014

Father's Day was full of family, swimming, me behind the grill (yikes), and beer.  A good time was had by all.

Happy Dad's Day, BVZ.  You make our world go round.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Kindergarten Wrap-Up

Kindergarten went by in the blink of an eye.  A BLINK.  I cannot believe it is over.  Norah transformed so much this year.  She is incredible.

Our class lost its room parent this spring (she moved) and so I stepped up to help with the class party and class gift.  I did gluten free "smart cookies" which turned out even cuter than the photo reflects.

After spending an inordinate amount of time on pinterest, I came up with a photo flower pot for our awesome Kindergarten teacher.  There were 20 kids in the class and each one got their own flower with their photo on one side and their name on the other.  The sparkly "V" at the top (which is the teacher's initial) held all of the gift cards I was able to get with the parents's generous contributions. One side of the pot said, "Thank you for helping us bloom" and the other had her name and the year.

I made a simple card to go with it that had a photo of the class from their field trip.

The class party and program was the day before the last day of school.  The last day was not really a day--it was a make-up for one of the inclement weather days we had during the ice storms this past winter.  In order to qualify for state funding the kids have to go a certain number of days.  The last day ended at 11:00 though, so all of the festivities happened the day before.

Louie was thrilled to get dragged there with me.

The whole kindergarten sang two songs and there was a sweet slide show.  There are seven sections of kinder with 20-22 kids each.  It's a big school.  Each class wore a different color of the rainbow.  We were red.

After the program we went back to Norah's classroom for the party.

Her teacher handed out "awards," i.e. recognizing something special about each kid.  Norah was named "most considerate."

They got to eat some treats, hang out with their friends, and then called it a day.

One of the other moms set up an adorable photo booth with all kinds of props and signs.

At the end of the party, Norah's sweet teacher took a moment to let me know just how exceptional our girl is.  She was always "kind, helpful, considerate, and a really good friend."  She ends the year as one of the top readers in the class and in terms of the "leveled readers" is where they expect kids to be after the first nine weeks of second grade.  

The next day was the aforementioned short day.  I spent some time asking Norah what she thought was different about herself on the last day of school versus the first.

Here's her list:

I am way less shy.
I can read for real and even some chapter books.
I know math and science experiments.
I don't have bangs.
I have way more friends.
I am not scared of the big slide.
I am much taller.
I can do the remote by myself and put on my own sunscreen.
I have more patience with Louie. (I dispute this one.)
I am not nervous to go to my friend's house as long as I know their parents.
I've seen Star Wars.

A friend in the neighborhood put together a little after school celebration at the park.  There were ice cream sundaes.

And extras for little brothers.

There were also three huge coolers full of water balloons.  Which was pretty much Lou's dream come true.

He was pushing through the big kids to get to them.

Overall, it was a great academic year and an incredible start to our public education journey. Despite my anxiety over the fact that the school is huge, we have found the faculty and administration to be responsive and nurturing.  It makes our ginormous property tax bill a little more palatable.  A little.