Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Party!!

Check me out over at Two Savvy Sisters

Okay, here it is, my last post on Emma's Seventh Birthday Party.. I know, I know, you're tired of hearing about it.  Thanks for humoring.. I promise that birthday party planning isn't usually my thing and it won't come up very often. 

Here are the pictures from the actual party.  Your eyes are not playing tricks on you.  I try to be careful to never post a picture of a child without their parents permission.  Because of that,  a couple faces have been purposely blurred..

Happy Birthday my beautiful Seven Year Old.. Time is passing way too quickly!

I love you,


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Princess Party Planning and I Hate Beauty Pageants--- You know because they go together..

Just to make sure that I received the official crazy stamp, I ended a week of being a single parenting with a princess birthday party for my newly, seven year old.  Sleepover to boot!  Now that our Knight in Shining Armor is back in town, and we're safely protected, I can let the cat out of the bag and let you know that I was here for almost a whole week by myself with my two little angels..  And really, they were angels.. But, Chloe had a fever five out of the seven days which prevented me from having interaction with any adult humans.  And, Emma, being the conversational magician that she is, put me officially over the edge with her oh so endearing questions.  Typically, her habit of making use of dead air by asking her companion questions, while showing an extreme interest in their thoughts and feelings, is quite endearing.   Normally, it's quite impressive to come across a child that naturally possesses the communication skills that all the Self-help books try to teach... People always love to talk about themselves.  Right?  The first time she asked her question of the week, "Mom, who do you most admire?",  I answered with my beauty pageant answer, the one that I'm most certain scored me a place in the top ten in The Queen of Hearts pageant when I was in seventh grade.  "My mother. Because, she taught me good morals, and the difference between right and wrong"... COME ON  JUDGES!  That's about as generic as "World Peace"..

 And on a side note, you would think that placing in a beauty pageant for 7th, 8th, and 9th graders would be quite the self-esteem builder for a seventh grader.  And, perhaps it would have been had it not been for the phone calls that I got that went something like.  "I heard you got in the top ten in "The Queen of Hearts".  My mom said you must be really poised".  Seriously, I mean seriously.  I was in seventh grade but I wasn't an idiot.  I knew what that meant.  I must have been more poised in seventh grade than I am now.    Because now, those critics that were dismayed at my beauty pageant placing would get a poised little foot up their poised little.....Anyway.... back to the real story before I started telling the story about how placing in a junior high pageant crushed my self-esteem... 

By the end of the week, I was making up people to admire because my little socialite wasn't satisfied with my generic, beauty pageant, answer.  But really, the whole point here was to share some of my party planning ideas and, though it was CRAZY to plan a sleepover at the end of a week of single parenting, Emma's expressions every morning when she woke up and saw the progress I made the night before: "Wow mom!  I mean wow!  You are amazing!  You are the BEST mother ever!"...  Yeah, those expressions were totally worth it and are totally on video for the time that is coming when she thinks I'm completely and totally stupid and tries to beat my self-esteem down like Junior High Beauty Pageant!  And, really and truly, it was nice to have all the party planning to keep me busy...

So without further rambling about my traumatic Junior High School experiences:
I am proud to say that I stayed pretty close to my $150 budget.. Mainly, because I have awesome friends and family that were willing to contribute to our "Happily Ever After" night.. But still, there was some resourcefulness on my part, if I do say so myself...

I ordered the satin chair covers, organza chair bows and the organza table scarf from Table Cloth Factory.
The chair covers were $3.49 , the bows were $.69  and the scarf was $2.49... Score!  The table scarf was simply laid over a white sheet.  The hot pink cloth napkins were actually dish towels from the Dollar Tree. 

Please excuse the noise in the pictures.  I was shooting in very low light!

Emma and I had an unforgettable time making the Cake Pops.  Click on, "Cake Pops" for directions on making those from a previous post.  We displayed the cake pops in a piece of Styrofoam that we encircled with a Burger King Crown painted pink and finished with silver glitter paint and rhinestone brads..

The castle didn't really factor into this budget because I had it from a "Happily Ever After Girls Retreat" that I organized during our time in youth ministry.  But, I wanted to include it because it's unusual origins.  It is a castle for a  giant fish tank.  Found at a pet store.  I spray painted it white with pink tips and finished off with silver glitter paint.

The biggest how to questions have been about my tulle canopy so I have given it it's own instructional post found HERE:  Building the canopy was a delicate learning process but I think that I narrowed it down to a science that could keep the next mother that tries it from breaking her neck.

The floating candles were also left over from the girls retreat but can be found at any craft store and were essential in my eyes for our blowing out candle festivities since cake pops don't have candles.  I sat them up on a cake server to give them some height. 


Party dresses monogrammed by Aunt Jan-- Tutorial for Princess skirt found HERE

The girls were also supplied with a luxurious satin bag filled with princess accessories supplied, largely, by Nana.. And by luxurious satin bag, I mean, a wine bag from the Dollar Tree. 

Our professional hairdresser was none other than my wonderful mother..

And our fairytale princess, played by my spotlight lovin, kindergarten teaching OLDER sister, wore this dress that I found on Ebay:   Pictures of our fairytale princess coming in the actual party post. 

And maybe the most surprising of everything that fell into place was our party activities.. Klutz brand had contacted us on The Mom-tage asking us if we'd like to do a giveaway of a new product called Glossy Bands that they have coming out.  I quickly e-mailed them back asking them if they'd be interested in sending us some to try out at my daughter's birthday party.  They were all for it and immediately got me several sets in the mail!  The Glossy Bands were a hit!  I even made a few myself.  And you can get your chance to be one of the firsts to try out the Glossy Bands when we do a Glossy Band Giveaway over at The Mom-tage on June 28th!

Emma has already started making her pitch for a Hawaiian Luau for her Birthday party next year.  You got a love a girl that knows what she wants..

Coming soon, pictures of our actual fairy tale evening.



Monday, June 21, 2010

How To-- Princess Tulle Chandelier

What is the most important ingredient in a princess party?  Tulle, lots and lots of it!  I have had some requests for a tutorial on how I made the "tulle chandelier" for Emma's par-tay... A tutorial on this one was a bit difficult to do, as it was one of those things that developed as I went. However, since I almost killed myself several times while I was putting this thing together, I took pictures when I took it down, in hopes that we could prevent people from quite literally hanging from the chandelier and thus, prevent bodily injury.

First, underneath the tulle was this big horrible mess that I still haven't taken down.  I feel certain that you could be more neat than this but, since the Christmas lights were an afterthought, after I had the tulle hung, I stuffed them up there however I could get them to stay.  Obviously, I removed the glass globes. 

All of the tulle was tied around a hoola hoop just like it was tied in the tutorial for the princess skirts.  I alternated pink and white, making four, long, white pieces to flow outwards, spaced evenly.  

Many shorter pieces were put in and those were brought together in a cone shape to wrap over the light fixture and were tied to the top of the light fixture. The longer pieces were then attached to the four corners of the room with thumb tacks.

And, mine will be staying attached to the hoola hoop so if you live close enough to me for me to get it to you, skip the work and borrow mine!

View more Princess Party Ideas



Friday, June 18, 2010

Oh So Cute, Princess Party Attire!!

Tonight's the big night and here's our party attire.  In the six months that we were planning this party, Emma decided that princess dress up clothes were too babyish.  I was determined to have a princess birthday party.  Every little girl needs one.  So, I called up Aunt Jan and Aunt Jan and I did a little bit of brain storming and came up with something that we all just love!  The dresses came from Monag and we were able to get them for a great price because we bought six.  Aunt Jan used her mad applique skills to make a dress for each of the party princesses with the first letter of their name in hot pink polka dots, topped with a lime green crown.  We just love them!  And I am so thankful that Jan makes it part of her mission to clothe my children in clothes like these because I have absolutely no desire what-so-ever to learn to sew and my budget certainly doesn't make room for the prices I would pay for this kind of stuff in a boutique.  Thank you Aunt Jan!  The dresses can also double as their sleeping attire as they are oh so soft and comfy.   The skirts are super easy and probably self-explanatory but I'll do a short tutorial just in case.  I made the first one and showed Emma how to do it and she made the rest. 

Materials-- 6 inch wide bridal tulle (we got ours at Hobby Lobby)
1.  Tie a ribbon around something that will be secure (we used a chair)
2.  Cut tulle into strips twice the length you want the skirt to be.
3.  fold strips in half, making a loop at the top. 
4.  Put the loop underneath the ribbon and pull the other end of the tulle through the loop. 

And there we have it,  a little more modern, a little more grown up, approach to princess dress up that will also make an adorable summer dress.  Perfect!

And each princess will also get a loot bag with accessories for their makeovers and the adorable sleep masks that Nana sent...

I will try to make a post later today of the party decorations and the Glossy Bands, party activity sponsored by KLUTZ that we will be giving away on The Mom-tage when they launch Glossy Bands on June the 28th! 



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cake Pops! We Did It!

Emma's birthday is next week.  I gave her the choice of having a birthday at a place around town that does parties or taking just a couple of friends to do something that would be a little more expensive per person.  She elected to have a princess makeover night with just a couple of her closest friends from school. So, my mom (who is a beautician) and sister (who is an elementary school teacher) are loading up and coming over.  Aunt Jan is making some special attire for the makeover attendants, Dad is working on a Disney wishes goodnight film and Nana has some special, princess sleep masks on the way.    Emma and I have been planning her special night for six months and I think I've enjoyed it just as much as she has. 

I've decided that it would be smart to come up with events for us to plan together on a continuing basis.  It has been great at times when we've hit a rough stage, to have this connecting point, separate from everything else, to join back together.  We are heading straight for the tween years and I think it's going to become increasingly important for us to have activities that just the two of us share to keep the communication lines open.  The moments where she thinks I hung the moon and know everything in life there is to know are becoming fewer and further between.  I guess she was bound to figure out the truth at some point.. But,  there was one point in the planning when I was going on and on, talking about tulle and ribbon and about about how I wanted to use real decorations, not birthday party decorations.   Emma looked at me with admiration in her eyes and said, "you're like a designer or something aren't you mom"!!  It was a moment where I felt like I could do anything.. A moment where I wished I could forever stay the person she was thinking I was right then.  A moment where I wished I had a tape recorder.  A moment that I wrote on my heart..   Okay, I'll stop now.  You came here for the cake pops now didn't you.   Well, we were scouting around the internet for cake ideas and we kept running across pictures of  "cake pops".  We fell in love with the idea of "cake pops" and decided that we would give them a try to see if they would meet our fairytale needs. 

We followed these directions from Bakerella

1.  Bake cake in 9x13 cake pan.  After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.

2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can frosting. (I use the back of a large spoon, but it may be easier to use fingers to mix together. But, be warned, it will get messy. Also, you may not need the entire can of frosting, so start out by using almost the entire can and add more if you need to.)

3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50)

4 .Melt chocolate in the microwave per directions on package. (30 sec intervals, stirring in between.)

5. Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the cake balls. (Insert a little less than halfway.)

6. Place them in the freezer for a little while to firm up.

7. Once firm, carefully insert the cake ball into the candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered. Once covered remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don’t tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off, too.

8.  Place in a styrofoam block to dry (I didn't have styrofoam so I punched holes in the bottom of a shallow box.  Styrofoam would be much easier).

We're still trying to figure out how we want to display our culinary art so look for that in pictures from our makeover night!
And where are all of these out of character culinary experiences coming from?  Have I found a new love for cooking?  Ha, not a chance.  It's all a part of my devious plan to make Emma the family cook!
Check out my post over at The Mom-tage about our fun blackberry picking trip along with a super easy, fool proof cobbler recipe!  Seriously, if I can do it, anyone can! 


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wrapping it Up...

Well, what do ya know.. I got the end of the school year post up before Christmas! Woo hoo! I figured I needed to get it up for the sake of order since we're having such summer fun to keep record of.. The summer reading program at the library starts today and they're kicking it off with a magician so, I'm hoping I can get this up quickly so we can be on our way!

Every year, Emma's school finishes up the school year with a character parade.  Every class does a different story book and they rope off the school parking lot and march around.  This year, Emma's class did "Cat and The Hat". 

Awards Day!

Emma received an award for having straight A's, The Star Behavior Award and the Golden Turtle Award..  For her class award (her teacher gives an award to every child concentrating on that child's specific strengths), she received "Best Storyteller". The Golden Turtle award is given to everyone that improves five points or more on the "Measures of Academic Progress" test.  The MAPS test is a test that they give three times a year.  It measures the student against themselves and against the district average and enables the teacher to see exactly where each student is so that they can teach them at their ability level.  Almost every child in the first grade received this award.  I think this speaks very highly of the teaching at Emma's school.  We felt like this award was significant to Emma because Emma's score started out way above average and she had to be taught material geared toward a higher grade to be able to improve her score.

Academics come very easily to Emma.  This has been a bit of a concern of mine because I fear that she will hit a point where she doesn't already know what they are learning and she won't know how to work for it.  Emma was upset because there were several awards that she didn't receive.  Things like "greatest effort".  I had a little bit difficulty explaining to Emma, that she got the awards that she deserved and that a lot of kids had to work much harder to get the grades that they did.  And, that those awards were for going above and beyond and that she could get those awards, but she was going to have to do more than what was required because she didn't have to put much effort into what was required.  Her response to me was "but I didn't know there was an award, I would have gone over and beyond if I had of known there was an award for it".    So much for intrinsic motivation!  It isn't because I havent' tried to develop it in her. 

She was most upset because she didn't receive the "Art Award".  We were surprised at how suddenly and dramatically her art improved the last two weeks of school  .  When we got to the school for the program, we found out why.  At the very end of the year, they held a contest in which, each kid drew a picture of their teacher and one from each class was chosen to be hung in the hallway.  I should have known she was motivated by a contest.  Emma's picture was chosen.  The teacher's name has been altered for the sake of anonymity.  Because Emma's picture was chosen to be hung in the hallway, she thought she greatly deserved the "art award".  I explained to Emma that they probably had chosen the art students before they had even done that contest and a person can't wait until the end of the school year to be good at art and expect an award for it.   I guess I will remind her off all of the awards all throughout the year next year. 

All and all, Emma had a great year.  The comments we have gotten up until now, from Emma's teachers, have been things like "Emma is a model student".  While that is always nice to hear about your child, it seemed as if Ms. B didn't think in terms of model students and really has a gift for seeking out strengths in each individual.   Ms. B seemed to be just what Emma needed to so that she could learn to be part of a team.  I had no doubt that Emma would learn in first grade, what she needed to succeed in second grade.  But, I wasn't expecting the character lessons that she would see modeled by her teacher that will no doubt, serve her for life.

The see Emma's thoughts about her teacher, check out her blog, Hope for  the People.



Sunday, June 06, 2010

Did I Forget Easter?

Summer days are here and I couldn't be more excited.  Having children didn't change my world nearly as much as having a child start "big kid school".  Oh how unappreciated were those days when I hoped my kids slept past eight a.m!   Eight a.m. is like dusk once you start "big kid school", where they must be in their desks and ready for the day by seven thirty a.m!  Seven thirty a.m you say?  Yes, you heard that right!  SEVEN THIRTY A.M. Which, is six thirty a.m. in my heart since I grew up on central time..  Oh the torture!  And I won't even start on my rant about how a child in kindergarten still needs 12 hours of sleep and how that's impossible when school starts that early! 

Anyway, we have great plans for the summer.. We have a luxurious Caribbean vacation planned where I'm going to lounge around all day and sip on tropical drinks and be waited on hand and foot..

And by luxurious Caribbean vacation I mean:
I'm going to close my eyes really tight and imagine that I'm on a luxurious Caribbean island while I'm lounging on my K-mart float  in my redneck K-mart pool, sipping Kool-Aid.- generic brand at that.  While, I beg my kids not to splash me until I get accustomed to the water temperature..

No seriously, I am excited about having a summer with no big things on the schedule.  There is nowhere that I'd rather be than in our home sanctuary with my family, with the front blinds closed to the worries of the world and the back door open to a back yard full of adventure.  Besides, I haven't yet posted all of our pictures from our Disney trip in January!


I came here today to post pictures of all the end of the school year celebrations when I realized that I never did an Easter post.  I must have gotten so busy with the new blog I'm a member of (shameless plug),
THE MOM-TAGE that I forgot to post..

So, here is our Easter summary.. My mom and dad and our friend Matt were here for Easter.  The Easter bunny stocked our sandbox full of sand toys and pool toys for our K-mart style, redneck pool.   We had the usual church Easter egg hunt. From which, my feet came out of in a bright shade of yellow from the pollen monsoon we were having at the time.  We came home for a turkey lunch and my parents played on the play set in the backyard with the kids like a couple of great big kids themselves. 

If you notice, the Easter bunny left a sign saying he couldn't get into the house because the alarm was on.  I was very thankful that he didn't leave those paw prints in my house.  You might also notice that in some of the pictures, it is dark outside.  I would like to tell you that my children pulled me out of bed, kicking and screaming, to see what the Easter bunny brought at 5:30 a.m.  However, the truth is that I get so excited on holidays that I was up waiting on them.  I decided not too long ago that it wasn't too bad to live vicariously through my children just a tad bit. 

It's lunch time now. So, those end of the school year pictures will have to wait.. Probably until Christmas if I was guessing..

Hope you have the most wonderful summer ever!