We're One!

IMG_2646.JPG

A year ago I started Posing as Parents. I have always had a family blog with my husband, but this was meant to be something a little different. This blog was a new project...personal, yes, but also more of a space for others as well.

In the last year, I have learned some things. I wish I would have blogged more regularly. I wish I would have used social media more for Posing as Parents. And I wish I wouldn't let this be one of the first things I neglect when life gets too busy. I love it here...I love it because of you. I started this blog to help create a sense of community. 

I have said it a million times...in a world that we are literally connected 24 hours a day, there is so much disconnect. Perhaps ironic that this a blog, but I can't invite you all over to sit for a spell. But YOU can invite others to be a part of your community. 

Why would you want to do that? You are busy, you don't have time for other people...people you don't know. That sounds like the worst. Can't someone else cultivate some community?

No. 

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

It all starts with us. Every one of us. We are in this together. In the immortal words of Eminem, "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime." This is it kids. This is our time here and now, make the most of it and don't you want it better than you found it? Not worse?

I talk about community and ways to create community over and over again because I truly believe it is our salvation. If you feel responsible for your neighbor you will find ways to feed them, clothe them, educate them, keep them safe, and love them. 

We have also talked about parties here on the blog. While they may not save the world, they sure can make people feel happy and valued and that is a step in the right direction. So here is a Quick Tip on how to throw a party. 

5 Tips to Throwing a Quick Party

  1. Get some flowers. Flowers (or some type of greenery) makes it feel festive and steps it up a notch. 
  2. Get out something fancy. Whether it is a cake stand, real china, a teapot, whatever...at least have one "real" dish out. Yes, paper plates can be a lifesaver with a crowd, but have at least one piece that classes up the gathering.
  3. Get your treat on. Buy a cake, make some cookies, or even something savory. Who says you can't celebrate with fried chicken or a beautiful salad. Pick something special and unique to the person/thing you are celebrating. 
  4. Get up a decoration or two. Paper Chains, Paper Tassels, or Pendants...it makes no difference what it is. Just hang something up to show that the space is different and that you are ready to celebrate.
  5. Get your stress out. The number one thing in having a party is having fun. Don't worry about it not being perfect. It totally won't be perfect and that is okay. It is about loving the ones that you are with. Enjoy the party and the time with people you like (or maybe love). 

I will leave you with another Mr. Rogers quote. Really because I love him so much.  Mr Rogers and my Nana are who I strive to be every day. But I think this encapsulates what I hope to do here at Posing as Parents and in the world. Maybe this will speak to you too.

As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has—or ever will have—something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.
— Mr. Fred Rogers

Thanks for doing our human job with me. I hope that we can do even more for this next year. Thanks for being here and I will see you soon! 

Oh Baby!

IMG_0488.JPG

This past weekend we celebrated babies. We are having a baby boom in our extended family and in our circle of friends.

We hosted a Sip and See for a new cousin. In attendance was another newborn...along with a bunch of doting women. The Sip and See was pea themed because they added a new pea to their pod. It was a play from their pregnancy announcement. So cute! 

And we also went to a Brit Tikkun (a Hebrew baby naming ceremony). It was a lovely ceremony where the parents promise to raise the baby in the Jewish tradition. Family and friends were there to witness, to love, and to support. It was a beautiful and meaningful service. 

It was a weekend of newborns and there is another baby on the way...another cousin. 

With all these babies it is hard not to get sentimental about my own "babies." Our Little Miss will be 5 this month and The Boy is 9 1/2. I feel like it was yesterday we brought them home from the hospital.

Look how cute they were!

I love snuggling these new little people in our world and inhaling all their newborn yumminess...well that is until they scream or poop all over me and then I feel a lot less wistful.

Parenting is hard work...it is hard work no matter the stage...just different kinds of hard. 

I feel like our number one job as parents (other than keep them alive...and some days that is all we have) is to raise kind people. Truly...the more kind people the better. 

Your job is to love your children and make them feel safe and secure. 

You know the way we feed babies, burp babies, or hold babies will change and evolve. The kinds of gadgets, beds, and car seats will keep changing. What doesn't change is that our children learn from what we model...so let's make sure we are modeling kindness. 

And one way we can be kind to parents...new and veteran...is to help them out.

So here is a list of ways you can help lighten the load for new parents.

  • Lend a helping hand. Come help with house work. Put away their dirty dishes, wash some clothes, etc. Maybe you aren't tight like that with the parents or they don't want people all up in their business. You can ask them what would be helpful (they may know) or give them a list of options of things you can help with (they may not have the energy to think of something themselves). Or if you can afford it offer to pay for a service...housecleaning, dog walking, or yard work (or you could do it yourself).
  • Let them sleep. When you share your life with  a newborn you get soooo sleep deprived. I told a friend it was the ultimate injustice of  parenting that these babies come into the world when you are already so tired and exhausted and babies basically say "Here, hold my beer" and they show you a new level of exhaustion you never knew existed. So offer to hold their baby so they can sleep. You can go over and sit and be on baby duty so the new parents can get some much needed zzzzz's. 
  • Make a dish. Bring them some food. Keep in mind likes and dislikes and dietary restrictions. And bring them something easy to manage. They don't need extra work. And if you aren't a cook there are lots of options...go the grocery store and get something pre-made, give them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant (bonus points if they deliver), or even a food delivery service (or if your local grocery store offers online shopping offer to pick it up for them).
  • Shower them in love. Baby showers, Sip and Sees, or even baby naming ceremonies are about the baby for sure, but really it is about the family and you are showing up to show your love and support of the family. That baby has zero idea you are there, but the family knows. Sure you can tell the baby you were there from the beginning, but it is more than bragging rights. For baby gifts sometimes families have registries and sometimes they don't. I like to do a combo of something they ask for and something homemade like a knitted hat or a blankie I sewed (you know I am all about the fast craft).  It doesn't matter what you bring, what matters is that you are there. Oh, and be there in the beginning, but circle back in a few weeks...people tend to dissipate after a few weeks after a baby is born and some times that is when parents need the most love (and help). 

As a parent one of the best parts is having our friends and family love our kids and have their own relationship with them. It seriously warms my heart so much. 

Parents are trying to raise kind humans, help them by being kind. Babies may not remember you were there from the beginning, but they can feel that you love them. 

IMG_0486.JPG

I do miss the baby stage, but I am sure enjoying these two knuckleheads. And I know that these busy days are fleeting so I am trying to live each day to the fullest. 

These two will always be my babies. 

Have a great day!

See you soon! And be kind!

Remembering the Days

One last photo

One last photo

Monday marked the 4th anniversary of the death of my father-in-law, John.  

Four years ago, John (or Juan or Papa Grand or Grand...he had several names he used)  had spent an impromptu couple of days with us. I am certain I was annoyed that I didn't know he was going to stay with us. He hung out with the kids, he went fishing with the guys (my husband, my brother-in-law, and our son), he did yard work at the house my mom was about to move into...it was a full and fun couple of days. The morning he left he told my husband that he planned to be around more that summer. He wanted to spend time with the family and since he was a landscape architect he was going to help us design our yard. 

John went back to the beach. That night he went to bed, kissed his wife, and he died. It was shocking to say the least. I remember when I found out I couldn't stop saying "I don't understand" over and over and over again for hours...I was just in shock. All of the family was devastated to say the least. He was just with us and then he was gone. It didn't make sense. 

The Sketch

The Sketch

The morning John left he gave our boy a sketch and he gave a writing to Mark-o that John had wrote on our wedding day. It said...

Life is brief, continue to make it beautiful...pay more attention to who I have been.

Good Lord, that still makes me cry. 

I didn't remember it was the anniversary of his death until Monday morning and I felt so guilty about it.  It is so crazy because the first year someone dies every anniversary of what they are missing is so painful and then it is painful when you stop remembering all the little "milestones." It is all painful. 

The truth is as time has passed, John has become more than the things that he isn't here for, instead he is a part of daily life. Our children were 5 years old and 7 months old when he died. Our son remembers him, but he mixes the memories of his grandfather with the memories of our dear next door neighbor that died the following year. And our daughter has no memory of Papa Grand so she combines information about him with what she knows about my father since she has only seen him a couple of times. Our children are growing up learning about their grandfather instead of getting to be able to spend time with him and experience him in all his glory.

He was an eccentric man to say the least. He was bright and colorful, he was an artist and an innovator...he was a larger than life person. And you know what, he was human and he had flaws (like we all do). You don't need to make the people that are no longer with us Saints, but we also don't need to focus on what made them fallible...none of that matters...that all fades away. What doesn't fade away is the love. That is what keeps our loved ones with us.

One thing I will always be astonished by was his love. Every note, every text, every email that he gave/sent to my husband just poured out love. He ALWAYS talked about how proud he was of Mark-o, how great Mark-o is, and how much he loved him. It was incredible, especially given that those two had many heated debates...they were aggressive conversationalists. But he was prolific about his love. May we all learn those lessons...share your love with who you love. 

So in honor of John (and some of the things that he loved or held dear), here are some great ways to embrace life this week...

  • Watch a sunset.
  • Cut a fresh bouquet. 
  • Use yellow or neon green in your color choices...clothes, dishes, flowers, whatever. 
  • Enjoy something you find beautiful...just appreciate the beauty...nothing more, nothing less.
  • Eat some gummies.
  • Make art.
  • Drink wine or bubbly water. 
  • Use a real glass and a real napkin...no paper products.
  • Soak in the sun (if there is sun where you are).
  • Write a letter to someone you love. 
  • Smile. Seriously just smile. 

And take a moment to call your loved ones, hug them if you are near to them, tell them how much you love them, because tomorrow is never promised...you only have right now, baby. Live and love like it. 

See you Friday. 

Calgon Take Me Away

This weekend was the 9th anniversary of the idea of Posing as Parents...aka my son's 9th birthday. Yep, 9 years ago I gave birth to a giant baby boy (seriously 10lbs 12oz and 23 inches long...a GIANT) and the hospital let us take him home unsupervised. My husband and I were in shock as we embarked on parenthood and we have been making it up as we went along ever since. We are Posing as Parents. 

My handsome birthday boy!

My handsome birthday boy!

We had over 60 people at our house for our son's Nerf party. It was bananas, but also freaking awesome. We will be finding Nerf darts for months. I would say that my husband and I definitely walked away (or crawled away) with some great ideas for next year and some clear direction on what we would do differently. That is what my husband and I do...we do a play by play of events/situations/conversations/life and talk about what we would change/improve upon/next steps. It's our thing. 

Well, on Saturday night I went to bed at 2 am because I waited to clean until the boys were settled. The boys were awake a little before 5 am! I remember hearing them and asking my husband what that noise possibly could be. Turns out it was a bunch of boys playing! All day Sunday I felt like I had a hangover, but instead of drinking too much it was a "sleepover hangover." One of the first things I wanted to do was to take a bath. It's my thing.

I LOVE baths! I take them daily (sometimes/usually twice a day). They make me relaxed and give me so much joy. I wish I was exaggerating, but I am not. I may secretly be a mermaid. I have ALWAYS loved baths. When I was little I would take bubble baths...with Mr. Bubble. Oh my gosh, I loved Mr. Bubble so much. Well, until that fateful day my dad said to 5 or 6 year old me, "You can't take a bath every day with Mr. Bubble, it is bad for your vagina." Barf. Thanks dad...that scarred me forever. And alas I find myself saying the same thing to my own daughter about various bubbles and bath products. Circle of damn life. 

I still love you!

I still love you!

So what can you take a relaxing bath with daily? There are a ton of natural products out there. You could do Lush products...they are the best, but they aren't cheap (and yes you can make your own and we can do that together some day). But for this Make it Monday we are going to make a relaxing bath...the cheap, easy, and environmentally friendly way.

First you need your supplies...

  • Baking Soda
  • Essential Oils
  • Candles/Book/Music

Step 1

Run your bath. For me, the hotter the better, but you do what you like. If you have medical issues or if you are pregnant...talk to your doctor about your options.   

Step 1: It SAYS hundreds of uses!

Step 1: It SAYS hundreds of uses!

Step 2

My favorite thing to add is baking soda. Epsom salt baths are great too, but I don't always have epsom salt at my house...I do have baking soda. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, can leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, and clean. Baking soda dissolves easily in your bath. I never thought of using baking soda until my daughter had a really horrible stomach flu one time and a nurse suggested giving my girl a bath with baking soda. Apparently, the baking soda is good for diaper rash, itchy skin, sunburns, and other skin conditions. Who knew? Well, I used it on my kid and then quickly starting using it on myself and I haven't turned back. Seriously that baking soda can be used for a ton of different things. Just Google it! For my bath I add about 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda. 

Step 3: Getting your lavender on!

Step 3: Getting your lavender on!

Step 3

This step I don't do every night, but I do use it several times a week. I add essential oil to my bath...just a few drops.

I want to address essential oils a little bit here, because I know we will talk about them in the future. I have a lot of friends who sell essential oils. I do not. I really like them, but I also don't feel like they are the answer to all that ails you. I do think they are a great tool that everyone should use. I like to diffuse oils, mix them with carrier oils and apply them topically, put a few drops in my tubs, or I use them for cleaning. I don't believe in ingesting them. You might. There is a ton of literature out there now about essential oils. Check it out.

I have three oils that I use a mist diffuser for often...I use lemon, lavender, and peppermint.  Most of time I get my oils at a local store and the brand I choose is Aura Cacia. It is fairly inexpensive and I trust its quality. One time I bought some on Amazon that had questionable quality...they smelled horrible and gave me a rash (BTW Amazon totally made the situation right). You may have friends that sell doTerra or Young Living. Both are great brands and I will buy their products when I can, but for general use I just run to the store and get the Aura Cacia. 

For my bath I nearly always stick to a few drops of lavender. I mainly do it for the aromatherapy aspect, but it may have medical properties as well. 

Step 4

Perhaps dim the lights, light a candle, and maybe grab a book or turn on some music and hop on in. Some days I try to lock the kids out of the bathroom so I can have a few minutes to myself, but typically that means they just bang on the door and make me more mad and stressed. Do what you can do for some self care...even if it is just taking a stinking (but delicious smelling) bath!

Hop in the tub tonight and have a great Monday!

 

 

Party Planning 101

Tomorrow we are having a birthday party for our son and as of this very moment we have 55 RSVPs...that is just counting one per invite...there may be more. I am a little stressed. Not so much because of the number, but because of the forecast. It is supposed to rain during the party. Now I am worrying about the number. ALL of those kids shooting Nerf inside? I am less excited about that. Oh well, we will be making memories...and getting hit by Nerf.

So many Darts

So many Darts

Today I am giving you my TOP TEN LIST for Party Planning 101. Sure there are more than these, but this will get you started off great. 

Pick Your Theme-Remember on Monday we talked about the importance of a theme? Choose something so you can have some framework on what to do, how to decorate, etc.

For this birthday party my son picked Nerf. That is the theme that I based everything upon. 

Make Your List-I am the Queen of Lists (it is a formal title...duh), now I am also the Queen of Not Following Lists (a lesser known royalty). Most of my lists go into my phone so I always have them, but when I get serious I break out the cardstock and the Sharpie and start writing my punch list. I make lists for the guests, the menu, the decorations, the things we have to do around the house, etc. 

I am starting the serious list today.

Pick the Time- This is important. Unless you want to have a big meal with everyone, then pick a time in between meals...that will help save money too. And the duration of the party is also important. Most people do two hours for kids parties...not me, not anymore...I do an hour and a half. It is perfection...you wouldn't think those 30 minutes would make a difference, but yet they do. Of course it depends on the age of the kids, but sometimes it is hard to entertain kids for two hours straight.

So the Nerf party is from 3:30 pm-5:00 pm...in between meals and less than two hours.

Send the Invite-The invite depends on the demographics and the size. Typically I use Paperless Post it is an online invitation and card service. You can choose free or low cost invites. But if you are having a small party do some paper invites...you can do all sorts of sweet and unique ones. Or if you are having people that aren't technology savvy then do paper invites. I send the invite at least a month in advance.

We did Paperless Post for the Nerf party. 

Plan Your Meal-If you didn't listen to me then let's plan a big meal. If you DID listen to me (then you are my favorite)  I will share what snacks to have. This is just a list of the easiest and/or cheapest party foods.

Big Meals: Pasta, Bruschetta Bar, Hot Dogs, Pizza, Burgers, Funeral Sandwiches, Baked Potato Bar, Tacos, Sandwiches, BBQ, Homemade Salad Bar, or Appetizers (a ton to make a meal). 

Snacks: Veggie Tray or at the very least a bunch of carrots, Ranch Dip (If you can get Uncle Dan's get that and just mix it with sour cream...the yummiest), fresh fruit (don't get grapes...they taste great but you can't trust kids with them...you don't need to do the Heimlich), Pirate's Booty, Crackers and Cheese, Pepperoni, Meatballs, Popcorn.

Also, you can always have "theme food." Shape the food like your theme or have food to go along with the theme..a veggie Yoda for a Star Wars party and cornbread for a cowboy birthday. 

Tomorrow we are having just snacks for the party: carrots and ranch dip, fresh fruit, chips (I mean, it is a party), lemonade, water, and cake...lots of cake. We are also having a sleepover...that is when we are having dinner...appetizers (so many appetizers), veggies, and fruit. 

Paper Goods or the Real Deal-If I have a large party I do paper goods. If I have a smaller gathering then I use the real deal...plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. You can also mix and match the real and the disposables. I get my paper goods at Target, IKEA, Walmart, and the Dollar Tree.**** You also should invest in some platters and some serving utensils and everyone needs a cake stand (or four). If you have right gear it makes throwing a party soooo much easier. The best places for those are HomeGoods, IKEA, Ross, Target, and Crate and Barrel. 

For the Nerf party we are doing the paper route. I purchased the papergoods in the colors of Nerf...blue, orange, and yellow. 

****Okay, I get it the horrible things that Walmart does. I grew up in Arkansas the birthplace of Walmart, so I do go there sometimes. It is in my DNA. They do have hella deals. And the same thing for the Dollar Tree I love/hate the Dollar Tree...they have so much amazing stuff for a $1! But what are the environmental and social implications of those deals? I know, I feel bad. I do. Seriously I always think about what if a horrible disaster happened when I was in a Walmart or Dollar Tree and how much shame I would feel if that is where my loved ones would find my dead body. So I try to do good in the world, I try to shop local, we grow our own food...I do what I can for the world to balance out my retail sins. I am trying people.****

Decor-Make your own decor like paper chains or tissue paper tassel banners. I typically don't crazy about decor all over...I just focus on a few statement pieces. I love pendants and banners. Make them or buy them. Cheap and easy is my style. ;) Oh, and I don't typically do balloons indoors unless there is enough for each kid. It is too sad to see kids fighting over the decorations. I do put balloons on the mailbox to help guide people to our home. Once again this is how you get to use your theme. For our daughter's Zoboomafoo party we had an artificial Christmas tree up and decorated it with these knitted snakes I made for the party, they also doubled as a party favor. 

For the Nerf party, we will have a giant balloon and streamers, we are also having a ton of pendants throughout the front room, and maybe a few targets here and there. There are no party favors at this particular party. 

Activities-So first and foremost make sure you plan a game/activity based on your theme. Check this link for some ideas and then adjust them to go with your theme. 

The activity for this party will be shooting people with Nerf darts. Novel, huh? We have a million (that may be an exaggeration) safety glasses. 

Wardrobe-It is so nerdy, but I also get everyone in my family an outfit to highlight the theme for each of the kid's birthday parties. Maybe it is a costume or coordinating outfits, or tee shirts highlighting the theme. A LOT of our parties have included full on costumes.

This party we are wearing black or camo so we can shoot people. Oh, and our son got this great shirt that talks about him being an awesome 9 year old. 

Implement-The days before and the day of the party I am a nut job. I am mainly freaking nuts because so much of the house looks like we were victims of a home invasion...we weren't.  The best thing to do for this day is to take a deep breath and don't stress (as best you can). This is also a great time to make a detailed list of the countdown of the day...this will help keep you on track!

I am cleaning all day, shipping kids off to clean some more, and whatever else I need to do!

Hope this helps get you off and running for Party Planning! Please say a prayer as we embark on the crazy birthday party zone!

Your Presence is Present Enough

 

 

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade I had a party and I invited pretty much the entire class. However, I didn't invite everyone. I didn't invite this girl named Theresa. I didn't like Theresa...she was kind of a "hard" character, there were all sorts of ridiculous rumors swirling around her, she had feathered hair, and I just didn't really like her. Well, Theresa found out about the party and she called me (that is what people did in the 1980's/1990's...they called people on the phone). She asked me why I didn't invite her to the party. Honestly I don't remember what I said...I know I was shocked, embarrassed, and was a blabbering fool. I am seriously one of the worst liars, so I am sure I said something dumb instead of telling the truth. I felt horrible. Well, it kind of scarred me and definitely has affected my parenting.

The shock of being left out.

The shock of being left out.

Be easy on yourself. Have fun. Only hang around people that are positive and make you feel good. Anybody who doesn’t make you feel good, kick them to the curb. And the earlier you start in your life the better. The minute anybody makes you feel weird and non-included or not supported, you know, either beat it or tell them to beat it.
— Amy Poehler

My son was born into a fairly large church family so his first few birthdays always had between 50-100 people. We invited everyone...I never wanted anyone to feel left out. (I learned my lesson.) I think all of us have had a moment that we weren't included in something and it is a crappy feeling. In our home we have the space to invite a bunch of people and I know how to throw a party without spending a ton of money (check out Friday's post for tips), so why not invite our community?

Well, flash forward to present day. I always make our kids invite their entire class, but this year for our son's birthday we also invited the baseball team, kids that my son plays sports with, kids in different classes that he is friends with, etc. So I started looking at all the 3rd grade classes and it wasn't that many more kids and how would they feel if they weren't included? So we invited all three of the 3rd grade classes, neighbors, friends, and family. Needless to say Costco and the restaurant supply store are my best friends this week. 

And inviting so many people isn't for the presents...I promise. Our kids don't need more stuff. We typically tell people that no presents are needed...their presence is present enough. And we mean it. We invite a bunch a people because we want to celebrate with our people. We want to be with those people...that is the present...making memories together.

And how do you make a community? How do you get your tribe? You invite them...you include them...you make an effort to make them a part of your life. You invite your community to things that matter to you...that is one of the ways you can build your community and you can build inclusivity (say that five times). You make meaningful relationships with others by being there, showing up, and including them. 

Also, guess how many older people get invited to little kids parties? Not a lot and they like to go to parties. Who the hell doesn't like cake? (Weirdos that's who. Those dang weirdos.) Cake is yummy (even if it isn't my favorite dessert) and it is a kick to be around kids having so much fun. The bottom line is that we need other people in our world. 

As a teenager I remember thinking about why people wanted to know the secret of life. I didn't understand because I already knew the secret to life...it is about relationships. I may have told you before that if I am REALLY sure about something I am usually wrong. I don't think I am wrong about this one! Life is about relationships. 

So find your people and invite them to something maybe a party, a coffee, a walk...you don't have to have a crazy party. Just include others...and then invite the other people...you know the ones...the ones you like but you don't include. Expand your circle. You may learn something new...maybe even learn a new way to party. 

Life is better with friends.
— Unknown

See you Friday when I will give you a legit party run down so even YOU can throw a perfect/inexpensive/amazing party!

Give Me a Theme...

We are getting ready to celebrate my son turning 9. What the heck?! I was talking to some friends this weekend and I shared with them that I seriously feel like I just brought our son home from the hospital and now he is turning 9. How does that happen? I blinked and here we are. Ugh. It hurts my mama's heart. 

Well, my son and I were planning his party...three months ago. (I seriously work on my kids parties for about three months. By work, I mean I think about it...I casually start planning...I start zeroing in on what we are going to do.) When we were talking about what he kind of party he would like I asked him what theme he wanted. He hemmed and hawed and then he asked the most shocking thing he could ask me (in that given moment...I mean I am sure he will do other things that will be shocking to me as well.) He asked if we could forget about a theme. He wanted a "normal birthday party." This doesn't  compute for me.  Dude, you have known me for almost 9 years why would you think I would be just cool with that? Needless to say, he did decide upon a theme...

Oh my goodness, our boy loves few things like he loves Nerf...well, I guess Legos. But Legos don't let you shoot your friends. You could throw the Legos, but that wouldn't be very satisying. And how fun is it to shoot people with foam and rubber darts? Super fun. 

My last Nerf war with the boy and his buddies. One shot me in the neck!!! I am coming for you D!

My last Nerf war with the boy and his buddies. One shot me in the neck!!! I am coming for you D!

I pick themes because it helps give me some parameters for a  party. I need some structure to plan around. Holidays. Boom! Easy! You have a built in theme. But everything else, you have to think about that. We have had a LOT of themes...special 1st birthdays. cowboy parties, army parties, Star Wars parties, Zoboomafoo parties, donut parties, dolly parties (oooh, a Dolly Parton theme would be amazing), Cinderella parties...the list goes on. I love a good theme!

This week we are going to talk about parties and party planning.  Make it Monday we are learning how to pick a theme. Why in the h-e-double hockey sticks would you need to have the skill to be able to pick a theme? Birthday parties, school events, work events, church events, even dinners...you can have a theme...so this may help.

First you need your "supplies"...

  • Topics-What are some things that you like? For the boy's birthday we first thought we would do a luau. But it evolved into a Nerf War. Don't let yourself get hung up on one thing. Things can change...and some themes are easier to base a party upon.

Here is a little list of topics-

  • Garden Party
  • Sports theme
  • Special decades
  • Rock star party
  • Western party
  • Seasonal themes
  • Licensed characters
  • Favorite shows
  • Favorite books
  • Specific colors
  • Hobbies
  • Favorite Foods

And honestly you can totally pick rando things and make a party out of it. One year our daughter wanted a Zoboomafoo birthday party. It is a show that ran from 1999-2001. She was born in 2012. But she LOVED this show. So we decorated like a rainforest, got some coordinating paper goods, got a stuffed animal lemure, and I printed off a bunch of photos of the Kratt brothers from the show and we made it work. So pick out what you love and we can make it work into a great themed party. 

The girl loves these guys. 

The girl loves these guys. 

Think about what you have coming up in your life and if a "theme" is something that could be a good fit. Start brainstorming now for the week of Party Planning. See you Wednesday!

Working on the Chain Gang

I hope you had a great weekend. Mine was just perfection...we celebrated our wedding anniversary and my birthday. That was wonderful, but for the people in the Pacific Northwest...the very best part was that we had sun for a whole day. We have had a wet, long winter so we really savor those sunny moments. Today is the first day of Spring so while it may not happen today or even this week...we can look forward to some more sunny days on their way. 

Paper chain gang

Paper chain gang

For today's Make it Monday we are going to make something so easy that can bring such joy...perfect for the season. We are making paper chains! Why do paper chains? These super simple decorations actually are quite deceptive. They canhelp teach some complex information. 

Paper chains can help make any room seem festive. When I was a kid I remember making them for the Christmas tree. Or you can do what these amazing people did in the pictures below. 

I never even thought of paper chains for a a backdrop, a garden party, or for a wedding. But just pick out your colors for you even and get to working. The more  you have the bigger statement you are making. 

But paper chains can also help teach math or help kids (or grown ups) learn about different concepts like kindness or about emotions. Paper chains are great ways to show how things are linked together. (Just a helpful tip: if you click on the pictures above it will take you to the source of the picture or if you click on any word that looks like this it will take. you to a link. You can then see examples of things we are talking about. I mean, you probably already knew that, but just a little reminder. I want to make sure you are getting the whole enchilada! Okay now back to the fine art of making paper chains.)

The reason why I love paper chains is not just because they are adorable, but because they are so helpful of marking time for children (and adults). They are a concrete physical representation of a pretty abstract concept. Tell your kid something is happening in a few months or show them how many days that is and what it looks like. We did this for our son when I was pregnant with our daughter...we made a long chain that he could take one paper chain off a day or if we forgot (which of course we did)  we would do several at a time. It is just such a great and simple way to build excitement and to show how time "looks."

We are going to Disneyland (thanks Nana for an awesome Christmas gift)! We don't take many "big" vacations...we are hard core staycationers...we are on one income so it isn't always feasible to do a large vacation and where we live it takes just a little time to get to the coast, the mountains, or a desert l location so we travel locally. So Disneyland is a pretty big deal for us and it will be the first time either of our kids have gone. So we are counting down the days. You can see lots of adorable Disney countdowns on Pinterest. Let's make some of our own!

Paper chain supplies

Paper chain supplies

First you need your supplies...

  • Paper-You could go old school and do construction paper, but for a more polished look and honestly for a little more durability a nice cardstock or some fancy scrapbooking paper (with card stock weight) would be great. 
  • Scissors or a Paper Cutter-You could do scissors or a paper cutter...I did a paper cutter, because I want the least amount of work...I am lazy.
  • Stapler and Staples-Do not use tape or glue...I mean, you can, but why would you do that? Just staple it...it is soooooo much easier and faster and once again it will be much more durable. 
  • Ribbon, Clips, etc. (optional)-You will want something to hold the chain up, unless you have it laying out somewhere. 

Step 1:  Get your stuff

Step 1: Get your stuff

Step 1

Collect all your supplies. I chose "Disney" style paper. I mean, it wasn't in the 10 for a $1 pile that I wanted to shop from, but I don't think it was crazy for a $1 a sheet. Plus if you go to Jo-Ann's or Michaels you better be using your coupons on your phone (or from the paper if you get it)...if you aren't you are just throwing money away. Sorry, that sounds harsh, but I am only looking out for you. 

  Step 2:  Cut it out

 Step 2: Cut it out

Step 2

Cut your paper. You need it long enough to make a loop, staple it, and to put another piece a paper through. You can make the strips just a about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick or make giant ones or really thin ones...any little changes you make will make totally different looks. 

Step 3:  Loop and staple

Step 3: Loop and staple

Step 3

Staple loops. Staple a circle...put a strip through...staple that into a circle...and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Have your kids help. You probably made these as a kid. This is actually a fun project to do together. 

Step 4:  Hang it up

Step 4: Hang it up

Step 4

Hang it up! I tied a ribbon to the top and it made a long chain that hung straight down. I thought it looked better looped so I just used a clip to connect it to the top where the ribbon is. I wanted to be able to access the end easily so the kids could take one down each day without much hassle. 

That is it! So easy!!! Right?!

But what a great metaphor...those links are us, baby...we are all interlocked and connected...not with paper and with staples, but as individuals who are connected with our geography, our interactions, and with our love. So let's get back to the basics whether it is with crafts or our relationships. It seems so simple, but it means so much...see how you can connect today. And maybe make some pretty little chains to countdown things that you are looking forward to...a trip, seeing a loved one, a big moment at work, etc. Or just make some pretty spring themed paper chains to decorate.

Happy, happy spring! 

Luck of the Irish

Do you like holidays? I love holidays! Real ones, fake ones, I don't care...I like to have a theme and to just go with it. And before you roll your eyes because you may think I am a perfect Pinterest mom, I am seriously hella lazy, so I am not doing anything crazy...just a little something to give a shout out to whatever holiday we are celebrating and to show my family I care.

The next "holiday" is St. Patrick's Day, which is this Friday.  St. Patrick's Day was my Nana's favorite holiday so it has a special place in my heart. I grew up with my Nana and she celebrated every holiday. She also liked a good theme and she would make the day special and in turn she made me feel cherished and important. I know there are a lot of people that don't feel like we need to make our children's lives magical, but I am not one of them. Look the world is hard, bad stuff happens all the time, and being a grown up can suck...so if childhood can't be magical then when can it be? My mom always told me growing up "Life's not fair and people don't act right." We have to learn that lesson from Day 1. I am not saying catering to our children's every whim or making yourself miserable trying to celebrate every dang holiday (that is my jam...it doesn't have to be yours)...I am saying just doing the little things so the people you love know you care. My Nana was way before Pinterest and mommy blogs...she just made an effort and I noticed and it made a difference, but alas I digress...we are talking about St. Paddy's Day (turns out it isn't St. Patty's Day...not sure I always knew that). 

Anywho, this holiday can go a couple of ways. It can be really G rated and where you wear green or if you don't you get pinched, maybe you build a trap to catch a leprechaun, and round it all out with some corned beef and cabbage and maybe some gold chocolate coins...case closed. Or the other way it seems it can typically go is you can get super trashed and do your liver no favors by celebrating the holiday hard. We are probably going to go with Option A since our four and eight year olds don't know how to do keg stands yet and I doubt they can even hold their whiskey. 

Every year we have a St. Patrick's Day meal (corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes) and everything else just depends on the year and where we are at as a family.  Last year I thought I would be clever and I made green homemade bread. It didn't go over well. The color was off-putting to the kids...maybe it was just one kid...I can't really remember other than they weren't that impressed. This year as I posted this picture, the four year old thought it looked yummy. Hmmmm. I clearly remember being a little kid and BEGGING my mom to make me green eggs and ham (I think you see where this is going). I PROMISED I would eat it. Of course she made it and of course I was not interested in eating it one bit. I don't think that went over well either. Food that is not a natural shade of green can be unnerving for sure. 

Green Bread

Green Bread

I am going to list the things we are going to do this year. Maybe they will help spark your interest...I mean I am giving you a couple of days heads up so you have plenty of time. 

  • We will be making a leprechaun trap or two the night before (Thursday night).
    • Popsugar has some great ideas on different types of traps. My son will build some crazy thing that will seem like a Rube Goldberg invention.
  • When the kids go to bed Thursday night (which will probably be late...thanks a lot Daylight Savings Time) I will decorate the dining room table.
    • By decorate, I mean I might add some green napkins, throw around some shamrocks, set a fancy place setting, etc. This is not a holiday they get gifts so I am just really focusing on the decoration. I go heavy on the green, but you could do gold or rainbows too. Check out 
  • On Friday morning it is officially St. Patrick's Day!
    • The family and I will go and see if we caught a leprechaun. Since they are super hard to catch, the kids usually find fake gold coins (plastic or chocolate...just depends). And the leprechaun usually leaves a tiny note taunting how he got away. What a little jerk!
  • Then we have some themed foods.
    • For breakfast,  I am planning on going rainbow...we already talked about the green food and how it isn't appreciated. However, a green smoothie may be just perfect. I will probably make Kodiak pancakes with a rainbow skewer of fruit.
    • For lunch, I am packing as green as I can...sugar snap peas, broccoli, green pears, etc...you get the idea. 
    • For dinner, we are having the corned beef and cabbage. (Thanks for having us over Mom).  
  • Everyone is wearing green!
    • I will make sure the kids are properly repping St. Paddy's day. I don't want them to be the kid who is arguing that they color they are wearing is "really green" but it is more a color in the blue family. We all know that kid!
  • We will probably make some kind of craft. This isn't specific to the holiday, we just love to craft.
    • I think we will either paint with the colors of St. Patrick's Day or we will make something with air clay...or we will make something with air clay AND THEN paint it. Boom! I just blew your mind,
  • That is it! 
    • I don't think we have any St. Patrick's Day movies or books...typically with a holiday we try to mix it up...we want to learn about the holiday in a variety of ways. I will probably read this Irish blessing that was read at our wedding (we had our wedding the day after St. Patrick's Day). 
May the road rise to meet you.
 May the wind be always at your back.
 May the sun shine warm upon your face,
 the rains fall soft upon the fields. May the light of friendship guide your paths together. 
May the laughter of children grace the halls of your home. 
May the joy of living for one another trip a smile from your lips,
 a twinkle from your eye. And when eternity beckons,
 at the end of a life heaped high with love,
 may the good Lord embrace you
 with the arms that have nurtured you
 the whole length of your joy-filled days.
 May the gracious God hold you both
 in the palm of His hands. And, today, may the Spirit of Love
 find a dwelling place in your hearts. Amen.
— Irish Wedding Blessing

Happy St. Patrick's Day! See ya back here Friday!

 

I Could Totally Make That

Have you gone to a boutique or some fun shop and looked around at all the adorable things and thought "I could totally make that"? I do that...like all the time. I always thought it would be fun to have a store called "You Could Do It...But You Won't" and have it filled with the types of crafts, jewelry, art, etc. that you could totally make, but that you won't. (BTW I call dibs on that idea.) But alas, most of the time I don't make whatever it is and I just buy it or I go without. 

I have seen these precious little tissue tassle things all over and I while they aren't expensive they are enough that I thought I could make them for next to nothing and for little effort. And can I just say that these sort of things just make life fun? You may think, "why take the time?" Why not take the time?! You can churn these babies out quickly. 

Party Tip: 

Banners and pendants instantly make for festive decor. 

Tiny Tissue Paper Tassels

Tiny Tissue Paper Tassels

So I pulled out the tissue paper and some string and got to work for Making it Monday

First you need your supplies...

  • Tissue Paper-Any tissue paper you want. Metallic would be so lovely, perhaps a pattern...seriously any paper you choose is just dandy. 
  • Scissors-You already know about my lovely scissors (well, if you read I'm Your Puppet). But any ol' scissors will do!
  • Baker's Twine, Ribbon, Yarn-The sky is the limit. I used all three. I am extravagant. . 
  • Washi Tape (optional)-I would have totally used this for today's project, but wouldn't you know it I can't find one stinking roll in my house. #mykidsstealmystuff

SUpplies (Give or Take)

SUpplies (Give or Take)

Step One

Collect all your supplies.

 

Step 2

Fold your tissue paper.

You can use a full sheet of tissue paper or even little scraps...the idea is the same. Fold the tissue in half over and over again. Once you get the paper to a small size fold it in half (the other way). Then cut the tissue into long skinny fringes and then twist the top of the tassel.

Step 3

Twist and stop. Twist and tape. Twist and tie. 

You can do this step several ways.

  • You can twist the top and leave it. If the tassels are small enough they should just stay just fine. (The larger tassels need a little more support.)
  • You can wrap the "neck" of the tassel with washi tape. I would demonstrate it, but we have already discussed the great washi heist of 2017. You can probably guess how to do it.
  • Lastly, you can tie baker's twine, ribbon, or yarn around the top. You can just do a simple tie or wrap the top of the tassel. 

Step 4

Hang it up!

Now just string the tassels with the twine, ribbon, or yarn. I like to tie the tassels on the string so they stay where I want them...I am controlling that way. So little tassels or big tassels...decorate as you like! 

Unsatisfied Customer

Unsatisfied Customer

Unfortunately, these adorable little tassels don't make everyone happy. Look at this sourpuss! She wanted a pink tassel NOT this silly purple one. I hope you have more success!