Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Children’s Book Themed Birthday Party

Friday, August 25th, 2017

We celebrated Lincoln turning three and Finnegan turning one with a children’s book themed birthday party last weekend. I feel slightly guilty that I made them share a party when the big kids got their own celebrations for each of their first five years. But between the bathroom disaster (ongoing) and E’s work schedule, this was really our only free weekend for a party. I don’t think either of them minded. Honestly, the guest list would be exactly the same for both parties anyway. When you’re the 3rd and 4th kids your friends are the younger siblings of the big kids’ friends.

I didn’t start planning this party until late June, so when I was looking for a theme I needed something that wouldn’t need too many custom-made or hard to find items. I had done a Nursery Rhyme Baby Shower for Caroline and it was pretty easy and totally adorable, so I expanded upon that to include all children’s books. It turns out most children’s books are already about food, so the menu was the easiest part:

Book worms – gummy worms

Green Eggs and Ham – green deviled eggs

Very Hungry Caterpillar – cheese & sausage plate, fruit

The Runaway Bunny – veggies

Dragons Love Tacos – taco bar

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – chocolate chip cookies

The Giving Tree – apple slices

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – meatballs

Uni the Unicorn – unicorn pops

The Big Hungry Bear – strawberries/berries

Paddington Bear – marmalade sandwiches

Don’t Forget the Bacon – BLT sandwiches

Eloise at the Plaza – tea sandwiches

Where The Wild Things Are – wild thing claws (Bugles)

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great – sparkle cupcakes

Captain Flynn and the Pirate Dinosaurs – pink pirate dinosaur punch

children's book themed birthday party

children's book themed birthday party

I keep all of our dust covers in a box because the kids just ruin them. They came in hand as decor!

children's book themed birthday party

children's book themed birthday party

children's book themed birthday party

children's book themed birthday party

children's book themed birthday party

Taco bar serving trays were super cheap and from Amazon.

Wild things claws = Bugles

When it came to decor, I already had almost everything I needed. A few banners from Oriental Trading Company and a whole lot of photos added to the many, many books. Many of the books I used both as the theme and as actual decor are my books, from my own childhood. Some of the others are favorites from bedtime for Evan and Caroline. We were lucky enough to meet Mo Willems a few years ago (one of my favorite posts of all time!) so most of his books are signed. The whole thing just felt so special and personal, even if it isn’t the most dramatic theme I’ve ever done it was perfect!

Ladybug balls from Amazon.

All our Mo animals – Elphant and Piggie, Pigeon and four Knuffle Bunnies – came from a recent promotion at Kohl’s. I went to two different stores to find them all.

Bookmarks, bubbles and temporary tattoos for party favors.

Please excuse the unpainted spot on the wall, we didn’t quite get our construction finished before the party. At least we had a ceiling!

I made the photo display for Finnegan with a hula hoop, spray paint, ribbon, fake flowers and hot glue. The outside pictures are his monthday photos for the past 11 months and the center photos are from his cake smash session.

We are very lucky to have so many friends who have so many kids, because the kids are really what makes the parties fun. I also love that some of them have been coming for so long now that they get excited ahead of time thinking about cucumber sandwiches!

The cheeseburger pinata was from the party aisle at Target (and the theme is from Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, where cheeseburgers fall from the sky). I’ve had it in my dining room for months now and it always made me smile.

I also bought some of those magic quick-fill water balloons at Target when they went on clearance. They didn’t exactly go with the theme but Lincoln LOVES water balloons. And it was super hot, so the kids enjoyed getting wet and dried off quickly.

 

All four of my kids had book shirts from Out Of Print Clothing. I bought Evan shirts from their site when he was a toddler, which Lincoln still wears and Finn will wear. Evan wore Caps for Sale, Caroline wore Harold and the Purple Crayon, Lincoln got Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus and Finnegan wore Where The Wild Things Are. To be honest, Finnegan already owns like 5 other Wild Things shirts that were hand-me-downs but they’re all long sleeved and it was too hot so I bought him another. You cannot have to many Wild Things themed articles of clothing.

This bounce house I bought Lincoln for his first birthday remains one of my best decisions to date.

My kids are currently obsessed with painting rocks, so I put out supplies and lots of the big kids did rock painting. I sealed them all this week and we hid them at Mystic Seaport for others to find.

After water balloons and bounce house and painting and pinata and lots of eating and running around, we wrangled everyone inside to sing Happy Birthday to Lincoln, because he thinks people singing Happy Birthday is the BEST THING. We sang for Finnegan too, but he just wanted to eat the candle.

children's book themed birthday party

children's book themed birthday party

Thank you as always to my parents, who were pretty much the only reason this party happened. Their help with cleaning and prep is invaluable. And thank you to everyone who came, it’s so wonderful to know that my kids have a village of both actual relatives and by-choice relatives to love them. Lincoln and Finnegan are both sufficiently celebrated!

 

 

 

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Thursday, August 10th, 2017

I never did catch up and now I’m even farther behind because that’s my life right now. Nothing ever gets finished and everything is a mess. This was the week my bathroom remodel involuntarily started and it’s NOT ANY BETTER TODAY.

Sunday:

Really disappointed with his non-vacation life

It took my computer THREE HOURS to update

Monday:

Pretending they don’t fight 23.5 hours a day

Pokemon hunting

I WISH MY CEILING STILL LOOKED LIKE THIS

Tuesday:

The only picture I took, because the rest of the day began renovation hell

Wednesday:

I didn’t even take this, Linc did, because again…renovation hell.

Thursday:

Choosing tile is hard

There were 4 ceilings in the kitchen

Plumbing problems are exhausting

Friday:

So chill

She thinks is cute she’s sitting next to a beer

I love card night

Saturday:

We found local princesses

Lake friends

Grandma and Grandpa are popular

This was such a long time ago. What was life even like when I had two working toilets and no holes in my floors, walls or ceilings? I CAN’T REMEMBER.

 

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Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

This is stupid. I’m literally more than a month behind and I should just quit doing this. But it feels unfair to quit before Finnegan turns 1 so I guess I’ll make that my goal even posting iPhone photos from a month ago feels ridiculous.

Sunday:

Linc keeps dumping his bubbles on the floor then wondering why he doesn’t have any more bubbles

We basically live here at this point

Important learning stuff

Monday:

Thrift shoppers

Trolls dance party on repeat

This is 1000% who Finn is as a person

Tuesday:

I was attacked by a baby covered in…I don’t remember what.

Tiny Padawan

Nervous about his audiology exam

Wednesday:

Normal

Waiting on our oil change

Peas in a pod

Thursday:

Not normal

Normal

Taking care of his doggy

Friday:

Last day of school concert

Summer haircut

Hey, remember when my bathroom had walls?

Saturday:

Good bye Connecticut

This is how I know we’re close to my parent’s house – the temple in DC

Water baby

Today is catch-up day. I’m going to doing blog stuff, photography stuff, and lots and lots of house stuff. Tomorrow we do nothing but fun stuff because Lincoln is turning THREE and he gets to pick. I’m guessing it’s lots of Octonauts and ice cream, which I am totally OK with.

 

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It’s Pregnancy Season And I’m Not Pregnant

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

I’m at Target to pick up diapers and I’m pretty sure every other woman in the store is pregnant. I pass them everywhere: in the grocery aisle, in the baby clothes, wandering home decor. It’s 87 degrees with 95% humidity outside and all the pregnant women are wearing tank tops and pushing toddlers in their carts stocked with goldfish crackers and beach buckets and ice cream. To me, they are all glowing and adorable and lucky to have so much to look forward to. But I know they probably feel enormous and uncomfortable, cursing themselves for a summer pregnancy, crossing their fingers that their toddler will take a nap later (or at least eat their goldfish for lunch while zoned out in front of Disney Jr so mama can lie on the couch under a fan).

My last baby is almost a year old now. I am far enough removed from being a pregnant woman at Target that I silently think “enjoy those moments” but still close enough that I know better than to say it out loud. A woman is not going to suddenly realize being hot and swollen and sore and tired and nauseous are all such blessings just because a stranger says “it goes so fast” or “I miss those days”. I am close enough to being a pregnant woman at Target that I know that is not entirely true. I do not miss those days. I do not miss being hot and swollen and sore and tired and nauseous and wondering how, exactly, I was ever going to manage a newborn when I couldn’t manage to put on pants every day. Not only do I not want to a pregnant woman at Target, don’t actually want to be pregnant at all.

And I’m not. I will most likely never be pregnant again. (I would say NEVER with 100% certainty but I know better than to tempt fate like that.)

What I do miss is being in that season of life. It doesn’t matter if those pregnant women at Target are technically older or younger than I am in years. They’re still at the stage where they will have a newborn. That’s a stage before the one I am in. New life is in their future, the moment when they meet a new little human they created. I don’t long to be pregnant again, but I do feel nostalgic for that particular flavor of joy. It’s not baby fever – I am thoroughly immunized against that particular strain by four children who all insisted on growing up – but it’s like a bruise. You don’t really notice it until you bump into it by accident, in the checkout at Target, and then it’s a dull ache that says “you’re not in this club anymore”.

I suspect these feelings are just biology, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling them. So this is me acknowledging it, writing it down in words, trying to explain it to you so I can explain it to me. Instead of being sad, I will let myself drift further towards the stage of life where I become the person who says “Oh it goes by so fast, treasure these moments” to pregnant women in Target. I will recount stories about my newborns in absolutes: “Oh my baby was such a good sleeper” “oh my baby loved being swaddled “oh my baby hated tummy time”. I will forget how much being pregnant sucks and only think of it fondly. And when gray-haired grandmas at Target look at my four not-babies and say “Enjoy these moments, it goes so fast”, I will smile and nod and say “It sure does.”

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Our First Disney Trip: Hollywood Studios

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Previously: Disney Non-Park Day, Magic Kingdom

Right now (Summer 2017), Hollywood Studios is majorly under construction. They’re adding Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land (rumor says those will open in 2018 and 2019, respectively) so the park feels a little…messy. But some of my all-time favorite stuff is at Hollywood Studios, so we planned a full day at the park – and still ended up missing a bunch of things! Honestly, I used to think people who spent 10 days at Disney World were crazy, but after this trip I totally get it. If (when) we go again, it will be for a full week at minimum.

We got to Hollywood Studios before rope drop because we needed to get to the Rock’n’Rollercoaster as soon as they opened. I used my Tier 1 FastPass for the Buzz Lightyear ride and since we had our special Star Wars tour starting at 2:45 we couldn’t afford to stand in line for too long. Just like at Magic Kingdom, they let us part of the way into the park before officially opening and then held us at the end of the street until the real rope drop. We ended up stopped right in from of Starbucks, so I popped in and got two enormous mint frappuccinos (enormous frappuccinos are still only worth 1 snack credit each on the dining plan) and we got our morning buzz while we waited. It was perfect. Once 9 am hit, we scurried over to Rock’n’Rollercoaster where E and Evan basically walked right on. Caroline, Linc, Finn and I watched the line go from nothing to SUPER long, back to reasonable length, so my advice would be if you’re running 5-10 minutes late and aren’t there right at open, give it a few minutes before getting in line.

I rider switched with E, rode Rock’n’Rollercoaster with Evan (who loved it), and then we ran – almost literally – around the park to get all our other non-Star Wars stuff done as fast as possible.

We had a Fastpass for Disney Jr Live On Stage. We didn’t actually need the FP but I super recommend the show if you have little kids (or even medium sized kids) who like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Sofia the First or Doc McStuffins. Linc lost his mind and even the big kids had a great time.

PhotoPass pictures from meeting Pluto:

We had another character meal planned for lunch at Hollywood & Vine. Sometimes it’s a Minnie Mouse and Friends lunch, but this month it was Disney Jr characters again. It worked out perfectly for us because we didn’t have time to do the character spots outside the show but all those same characters were at lunch. Once again the food was good, they let the babies eat as much as they wanted, and the characters were great with the kids. It wasn’t crowded and it took the right amount of time – long enough for us to take a rest in the air conditioning, but not so much time we got off schedule for the day.

We also stood in line to meet Buzz and Woody. 10000% worth it. 1000000000%. No matter how long that line is, we will always stand in it.

PhotoPass Photos:

Look at this photo. I can’t even handle this photo:

Right outside Buzz and Woody we ran into Green Army Man who was also an amazing meet. The kids played with him for a long time.

In the afternoon we had a Tower of Terror FastPass. E was kind enough to let me go with the kids first, but then we ran out of time for his turn before our Star Wars tour. (Don’t worry, he gets to ride it eventually.)

Caroline and I loved it. Evan, not so much.

And then it was time for our Star Wars Tour!

Here’s our two sentence review of the tour: It was fine, but not the best to do with small kids. It was ABSOLUTELY worth the money.

And here’s the long version: They took good care of us. We got ponchos and water and a chance to preorder whatever food we wanted for everyone (including babies). There were electronic earpieces so we could hear the tour. Our guides, Freddy and Harry knew a TON of stuff about Star Wars, the history of Stars Wars as it related to Disney, trivia about the rides and shows and other Stars Wars stuff. We got a tour of the concept art gallery, front row seats to the two Star Wars films, a ride on Star Tours, and a delicious dinner at the Backlot Express where we were stopped and questioned by Storm Troopers (which was super cool). Unfortunately, the weather was bad so the afternoon First Order parade was canceled, which was, like, the #2 reason I signed up for the tour. Even worse news, the Jedi Training also got canceled because of the rain, and that was definitely the #1 reason we paid for the tour. I started to worry we were going to miss everything I had really cared about and I was pretty bummed. We were not the only people on the tour missing those things – half the people didn’t care because they were grown-ups, but everyone with kids had signed up basically just so they could get guaranteed spots in Jedi Training. (Freddy and Harry told us that was a surprise to Disney. They thought the tour would be mostly adults super into Star Wars who wouldn’t care at all about missing Jedi Training, so having to come up with a way to fix it for people like us was hard.) But during dinner when they warned us things might not work out they also said: “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” And they absolutely did.

It turns out Freddy had the power to give us pretty much anything. He looked at our schedule for the next day, booked us spots in the 10:10 am Jedi Training, changed our scheduled Epcot Fastpasses to magical, open-ended Fastpasses that worked on any ride at any time in Epcot, and then set up meets with Darth Vader not once but TWICE during the tour. He said if we hadn’t had park tickets for Thursday he could have gotten those for us too. And when we got to our rescheduled Jedi Training, one of our new tour friends told us his request had been both Darth Vader and Kylo Ren in the show, so that happened too (those photos are in tomorrow’s recap). Freddy even showed up on Thursday to make sure we were 100% happy. The level of customer service was everything you would expect from the most magical place on Earth.

But I’m getting ahead of myself!

 

In the evening, we went to the dessert party in the Launch Bay. You can buy tickets to JUST the dessert party, and I would absolutely recommend it. We might even do it again, because it was so fun.

I had read on some blogs that if you bring things to trade with the Jawas who hang out in this area they will give you droid parts or other small things. There isn’t a lot of advice on the internet about what, exactly, they will trade for, so I brought a baggie full of various things: dress up beads, marbles, Happy Meal toys, and a sparkly hair tie. The Jawa was super aloof and uninterested in us, refused to trade and kept walking away, so went to the dessert party. A while later we came back and Caroline tried trading her hair tie. The Jawa was much nicer that time, checking out her trade and admiring it because it was very sparkly. He (she?) ended up trading Caroline the tie for a glowing bouncy ball. Then the Jawa started “talking” to Lincoln, and a romance was born. They LOVED each other. It was honestly the cutest thing I have ever seen. E took some video of them, but there was another 10 or 15 minutes where they played together. The Jawa pretended he was going to keep Linc and I am pretty sure Linc was totally ok with that. Then I offered to take the Jawa home to Connecticut, but he didn’t know where that was. I told him “a galaxy far, far away” and we had a moment where he was very excited about my answer. At the end of the video you can see the Jawa tell us to wait there, which we did. He went and found another glowing ball to give Lincoln, even without anything in return.

Seriously, it was one of the absolute highlights of our trip and maybe the best character interaction the whole week. There were other kids and grown-ups around who took pictures with the Jawa or tried to trade – including one adult man who tried to boss the Jawa around – but none of them had much luck. I would recommend being as nice and gentle as possible. DON’T be pushy. The Jawa did not like pushy people. And bring the sparkliest things you can think of to trade.

Part of the dessert party was getting to meet BB8, Chewbacca and Kylo Ren. Because we were tour guests we didn’t have to wait at all, but even for just dessert party guests there was almost no line. That meant Chewy could spend a ton of time with the kids and again Disney showed off why their character interactions are SO amazing.

After dessert and drinks (alcohol for the grown-ups, all included) we were collected by the Storm Troopers and marched out to the special center-of-the-park viewing area for the Star Wars Gallactic Specactular. I am pretty sure there are regular Hollywood Studios fireworks earlier in the evening, but we didn’t see them. The Star Wars ones were very cool.

hollywood studios star wars day

 

hollywood studios star wars day

hollywood studios star wars day

And here are our PhotoPass pictures from all the Star Wars stuff:

And then we were done with Hollywood Studios day! Although we weren’t quite done with Hollywood Studios, because we came back for Jedi Training in the morning. Up next: our crazy Thursday where we went to THREE parks.

p.s. We did see Indiana Jones in there…somewhere. But we missed The Muppets and The Great Movie Ride. Next time!

p.p.s. I would REALLY love if they added Rey and Jyn Erso character meets. I realize they don’t currently have any Star Wars face characters (like the princesses in other parks) but maybe once they open Star Wars Land. I’ll go back pretty much just for those photos.

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