Three Times A Princess

With a seven-week-old in the house, I was afraid I wouldn’t find the time or energy to celebrate Em’s birthday in the proper fashion like I have in the past.  However I had prepared a bit ahead of time–what else to do when in early labor than contemplate three-year-old birthday parties?–and so when the day came, I was content that I had done my best to shower my girl with the love and the attention she deserves.

First, on her actual birthday, we had a small family affair at home with cake and presents.  There is nothing like a little girl with a princess birthday cake.  Her eyes literally shone.

And then that weekend we celebrated with immediate family with another princess party, this time with a little more flair.

Her aunts and cousins from Massachusetts came up and we all celebrated with lots of family fun and yummy food.  Christian and Erika, who are 12 and 11, respectively, were the main attraction and Jax and Em simply could not get enough of them.  They are such wonderful kids.

I even got a cousin photo–with Baby Hannah adding a touch of personality to the shot, of course!

And then we had cake–which Jason had to run out and buy five minutes before because there was a bit of miscommunication about how the cake was getting there–and Em was so happy.  Cakes and crowns will do that to a girl.

A beautiful, sunshiny day for my girl.  What more could I ask?  I suppose a bow and arrows, plus a shiny new costume, wouldn’t hurt!

And then, after a costume change and the addition of a few accessories, the kids ended the day exploring the back of Auntie Amanda’s brand new truck in full regalia.

Happy birthday to my beautiful girl.  We love you so, and are in absolute wonder of you every day.  Thank you for being you.

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Superhero Party

I was prepared for life as a mother of a princess–after all, I am one of three girls–but this whole superhero thing had me thrown for a loop.  I didn’t know any of the heroes’ names, let alone their superpower, archnemesis, backstory or alter ego.  Since it has become an obsession in this house since Jax was nearing the ripe old age of four, I have trusted in the myriad of superhero books that have invaded my home to enlighten me, plus the Internet and a little help from my friends (and husband).  I now feel confident that I can handle most superhero queries that come my way, and can even throw terms like Mjolnir around like a patron of Comic Con.  Now that some of Jax’s buddies are heading in the superhero direction, my friend Katie and I were inspired to have a Superhero Party to celebrate each kids’ inner hero and to embrace, rather than squelch, the constant flow of good guy/bad guy play that has definitely taken over my world.

So on a nice spring day, we headed over to Katie’s house armed with super t-shirts, capes, and masks, to assemble into one mighty super hero squad!

Praise be to Old Navy for a purple sparkly Supergirl shirt that has become a staple in Em’s wardrobe.  And thank the Lord for a friend who is an acclaimed party planner, who takes even the smallest excuse to host a gathering and turns it into something special.

Basically, the kids ran amok on the swing set, yard, and sandbox, capes flying in the wind and epic battles being waged against imaginary insurgents.  The only difference between this and an ordinary play date were the costumes, but really, being a superhero is all about a state of mind.  And these kids owned it.

Conquering obstacles…

Helping out those in need…

Overcoming difficult terrain…

And having super fun!

After saving the world and vanquishing bad guys, super heroes need a break and something tasty to power up.  Katie really outdid herself with the super tasty treats: bat-shaped sandwiches, personalized snack bags, and Oreos with superhero emblems.

A delicious, delightful, dangerous, and dashing day for these very super and special kids! Very memorable for us all.

Unleash your family’s inner superheroes!

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Reindeer Games!

My friend Katie throws a fabulous Christmas party every year, and this year because of an idea that I forced upon her, she decided to go with a reindeer theme.  It was so fun, as always, for the kids and adults alike!

We arrived after Em’s dance recital to a house full of festivities, inside and out!  The kids looked adorable in their holiday finest and everyone was enjoying some delicious food, holiday fun, and good cheer!  The little reindeer touches were just adorable.

I love watching Em embrace her role as a “big kid.”  Up until now she had been one of the babies at these big gatherings, but now she hangs with her big brother and all their friends, and it makes me excited to see how she’ll be as a big sister.

Still not totally sure, but she’ll get there.  Luckily she has some great friends to help her along the way!  I can definitely say the same!

Our hostess Katie, who is an event planner, never just leaves kids to their own devices for long, and she suggested we have a book swap for the kids, which was a huge success.  We got a few great ones and I loved sharing some of my favorites with friends!  (We gave a couple Piggie & Elephant books by Mo Willems–big hits in this house, in case you were wondering).

 And then the piece de resistance: the reindeer bar!  I saw the idea initially at Kelle Hampton’s blog last year and I have been waiting patiently for my chance to give it a try!  The idea is that you set out a variety of foods that Santa’s reindeer will enjoy, and then give kids mason jars with their names on them that they can bring home and spread out on the lawn on Christmas Eve so that the reindeer will have something to eat while Santa is inside.  Kelle gives explanations as to why each food is there, but since I think Jax is the only kid who can read, I figured we could forgo the details and just let people know what reindeer like to eat best.

In case you’re wondering, we had raisins, bread crumbs, “flying power,” oats, potato chips, and cocoa.  But I think that Santa’s reindeer aren’t that picky and would appreciate anything you took the time to offer them!  Oh, and don’t forget to add glitter for good measure!  We put it inside the mason jars ahead of time for clean-up sake, but you could certainly add that to your bar as well.

 Needless to say, the kids love the idea and Jax and Em can’t wait for Christmas Eve to spread it on our driveway!  And in case you’re wondering, yes, there was a Grown-Up Reindeer Bar upstairs for the adults who wanted to enjoy a tasty beverage!  Add a candy cane straw and there was happiness for all, as well as some fabulous memories.

So from our little elves to yours, have a Merry Christmas and don’t forget to make the most of the holidays this season!

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Ahoy! A Birthday Boy!

Someone turned four and rocked his birthday party, pirate-style!

With a little help from my friends (and Oriental Trading), I pulled together a ship-shape birthday party for my first mate.

I tried to come up with a lot of great ways to celebrate, such as a treasure chest full of pirate tattoos and spyglasses for the little buccaneers, and lots of delicious pirate goodies!  Arghh!

 The kids had a great time at a local playground, on the “pirate ship” of a jungle gym–complete with skull and crossbones flag–rocking their pirate gear and keeping an eye out for the scoundrel Captain Hook!

There was also a sandbox full of buried treasure to be rifled through–you know pirates love their treasure!  Gold doubloons and jewels for all!

And if you didn’t want to get your hands dirty, there were also pirate medallions to create!  Loved them.  And don’t forget birthday cake to consume, pizza to eat, and general mayhem to ensue.  Feel free to insert mustache here.

She makes a fierce pirate, eh mateys?

Oh and guess who forgot the utensils? That would be this pirate mommy.  Good thing friends with mini-vans are always prepared! Thanks, Katie!

And the only thing left to do was get a great family shot!

A fabulous way to celebrate a fabulous little man!  It was a great party, and what was even better, was that once it was done, we just cleaned up and headed home!  Everyone wins!

Happy 4th Birthday, me heartie!  You’re the best first mate a mommy ever had!  Aye!

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You Are My Sunshine

My darling Em is the sunshine of my life, and so I decided she needed a birthday party to celebrate how she warms our hearts.

The printables were gorgeous and added a nice touch to the table along with our You Are My Sunshine book.  I found some yellow galvanized buckets at the dollar store, which I filled with sun-like goodies (yellow Oreos and peanut butter cups) and a bunch of mini origami stars I bought from Etsy.

I served lemonade out of a spigot into mason jars I got at the local hardware store.  We liked them so much that we use them for drinking all the time now!

All those decorations plus some golden doilies from the party store for sun decorations on the windows, streamers, balloons, fresh flowers, lots of family and one birthday girl added up to a pretty glorious way to celebrate!

Em had a ball.  She absolutely loved her party outfit, the decorations, the gift bags, and being around her family.

But as I’ve told you before, she does have her moments.  And baby girl can pout with the best of ’em.

Oh, life is hard when you’re two!

Nothing a little birthday cake–with a Cinderella candle–can’t fix!

What a blessed day.

And afterward, everyone unwound by playing games, hanging out, and Miss Em could not be torn away from her new Rapunzel doll and her golden hair.

Well, she could, but only to try to put Rapunzel’s shoes on Daddy’s feet.

And her own.

Happy Birthday to my delightful little Emmy!  You may be a handful sometimes, but we love you and your spirited ways.  Thank you for being our sunshine!

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Etsy Finds For The Birthday Girl

Em is a very loved, very special, and very spoiled child.  She had three, count ’em, THREE birthday parties last month!  The first was just with us, the second was with extended family, and the third was with friends.  On her actual birthday, we kept it low key and celebrated as a family of four, with guest appearances by Nana, Papa, and Auntie Jenny to help make it special.  We let her open her presents from us and had a very small cake which she picked out at the grocery store.  Yes, we bought the cake at the store!  We had three parties and I made one cake, which my dog eventually ate, so you can’t expect me to be any more domestic and make her three.  She was content with her pretty pink by cake from Hannaford and Princess water bottle.

JDubbs and I were able to still be minimal in the gift department and Em was still so unbelievably happy.  Birthdays at this age are such a surprisingly joyous occasion for little ones–they really are happy with anything.  We bought her a pink silk scarf like the one she loves at school, a floor puzzle, some Golden books, a doll, and my two favorite gifts which I found on Etsy.  First, a fairy ring that I absolutely love and the kids enjoy, maybe not as much as me.  I got one for each of them (click the photo to be sent to the shop).

Not only are they beautiful, simple, and fun, they make great props for photo shoots, as I found out last weekend!  Kids of all ages love playing with these, pretending to be fairies creating rainbows or just running like mad with the ribbons streaming behind them.  Simple pleasures.

And my only nod to her Disney princess obsession, knowing rightly that she would be inundated with that stuff at her family party, were these fabulous Disney princess-inspired wooden peg dolls like the kind I made for my kids a couple years ago.

To say she loves them is not quite sufficient.  They’re precious and well worth the money if you’re trying not to sell your soul to Walt Disney; I am trying and failing.

So more on her fabulous You Are My Sunshine party tomorrow, but I believe in supporting small businesses, and wanted to share these wonderful shops by letting you know about my Etsy finds!  There are so many gorgeous handmade gifts out there that can make an extra-special gift for someone you love.  I’m so happy that I bought these for my two kids–worth every penny!

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Snowman Party!

The heat wave is over and things are springing back to normal March weather in New England, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve said goodbye to snow for this year.  Yes, I just jinxed myself, and you’ll all be laughing at me when we get an April Fool’s blizzard.  Hopefully not!  But if indeed that does happen, to me OR you, then I have a great idea for a way to spend an evening with a roomful of kids with spring fever!

A snowman party!

My friend Katie orchestrated a fabulous way to celebrate the winter weather in her home about a month ago.  She invited Jax and his older buddies for a snowman party that celebrated in word, food, decoration, and fun!

When we arrived, Katie had the downstairs blocked off and the kids were herded upstairs for some snowman-friendly fare!

There were snowman pb & j sandwiches with cheese stick snow, snowman powdered donuts, and cinnamon sugar-covered fried dough.  Delicious, and the kids gobbled it up!  Then after dinner, we headed downstairs to the winter wonderland that awaited: snowflakes, white balloons, bricks of cardboard ice to make igloos, and literally thousands of cottonball snowflakes!  We gave the kids free reign to have a snowball fight and they had at it.

As for the fun, I’ll just say that the chaos was barely contained, and the adults enjoyed themselves as much as the kids!

And then, when the clock was close to striking the bedtime hour and the kids were getting close to being overstimulated, Katie in her infinite wisdom had one more trick up her sleeve–the movie Frosty the Snowman with a nice cool drink and popcorn to calm the kids down before we put them in pajamas and headed home.

I’m not at all sad to see winter go, but I did appreciate the time bundled inside with good friends!  What a lucky group this crew is with friends and memories like these!

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