My Disney Advice

Screen shot 2015-06-16 at 8.24.02 AMI’ve been to Disneyworld twice as a parent. Once with a two year old and a four year old and most recently with my six year old and now four year old. There are definitely people who know more about Disney than I do, but I did manage to pick up a few pieces of wisdom for anyone planning a trip. So here it goes:
1. Do bring a Stroller.

Happy, relaxed with lollipops

Happy, relaxed with lollipops

Unless your child is over the age of 9, you are probably going to wish you had a stroller. There is so much walking at Disney. Everyone was much happier with the kids in a stroller. here are some of the reasons:
a. There are so many people there that it is hard to keep up with everyone. When the kids were walking, I was all panicky checking to make sure that everyone was there every two minutes. It’s far more relaxing to know they are in the stroller.
b. It keeps the sun off of them. My little Irish boys really can’t take Florida sun for several hours a day four days in a row. The cover on our Bob stroller kept them protected.
c. You can stow a lot of stuff in the bottom of the stroller. I brought snacks, lunch and water for the day. It was so handy. Also if you buy anything, it’s nice to be able to put it in the stroller. I never worried that someone might steal my stuff, everyone is too focused on getting into the Splash Mountain line.
d. It keeps them from getting overly tired and grumpy, though they will be exhausted.
e. It’s a nice break from all of the stimulation. They will definitely need it.
FYI: Disney does rent strollers, but they look incredibly uncomfortable. They are hard plastic. Also, you have to return them before you leave the park. This is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is then you don’t have to deal with the stroller anymore. We rode the boat every day and almost always had to fold up our double bob when we boarded. That was a pain, but it was a long walk from the boat to our hotel, so we were glad we still had the stroller. Did I mention that my four year old is not fond of walking?

2. Do pace yourself.

Exhaustion

Exhaustion

The first time we went, we didn’t even ride that many rides and that was totally fine. The boys were young. At 4 and 2, they could ride the same things like Dumbo, Peter Pan and It’s a small World. That year, we got to the park when it opened and left around lunch time. Then we just played in the pool all day. We never went back for the fireworks or anything. This time we went back and I think we would all agree it was a mistake. It ruined us for the next day which was Hollywood Studios (so not that big a deal).

3. Do put a large, preferably laminated, name tag on your stroller. They have stroller parking near the rides, but while you are in line or riding, the workers move the strollers around. So it is almost never exactly where you left it and inevitably someone will have the same stroller as you. Make it easier on yourself and label yours. I didn’t do this. Wish I had.

4. Don’t do the Meal Plan.

my boys love Donald!

my boys love Donald!

This is if you have kids 6 and younger. It really seems like more of a hassle to me with that age group. I’ve crunched the numbers and I don’t think you really save much money with the meal plan. We got a room with a kitchen, so we made breakfast and packed a lunch most days. Even without a kitchen you could order pizza or make PB&J in your room. We always ate out once a day though and that was more than enough time in a restaurant with excited young kids. At those character meals (which I totally recommend. It beats waiting in line to meet a character) they don’t eat because they are too amped up. Definitely plan some meals (like Crystal Palace and Whispering Canyon), but I wouldn’t want to attempt to eat in a Disney restaurant for every meal.

5. Do bring LOTS of water!!! Don’t leave your water bag/bottle on a ride.
IMG_5531Our beloved Darth Vader water bag was left somewhere between Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan. Sigh.

6. Do take cell phone pictures. Don’t bring your fancy camera to the park.

sweetness

sweetness

I saw several people with really nice Canons and Nikons at the park. What a headache to have to carry it around and worry about your $700 camera. And really, you will be totally sweaty. You don’t want 8×10 glossies of those photos. Cell phone pictures will serve you just fine. If you want a really nice one, just grab one the photopass people. They will even take photos with your cell phone for free if you ask.

7. Speaking of photopass. Do use Disney Photopass Tutorial to get your photopass pictures for free! I was not able to get high res pictures with this tutorial. So I’m not sure if Disney has fixed the loophole or not. I was still able to download them for free, but they are only good for web use.

8. DO GET THE CAKE POPS!!! AND THE RICE KRISPY TREAT MICKEY DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE WITH SPRINKLES. AND THE ICE CREAM AT THE ICE CREAM PARLOR!!imageIMG_5961IMG_5675

9. Do take a ride on the people mover. It’s a great palette cleanser after all of the fast moving, action packed rides. So is “It’s a small world” (actually one of my favorites).

10. Do bring Purell. This is a great distraction in the Winnie the Pooh line. IMG_5808Disney is brilliant because they have included all of these entertainment spots for kids in line for “winnie the Pooh” and “Peter Pan” etc. The kids love it. So do the adults. They all wipe their hands all over it. So yay – that was fun. uh oh, you just got Ebola. Purell it away :).

11. Do the pirate treasure Hunt in Adventureland – especially if you have a 6 year old boy. OMG IT IS THE BEST! Here’s one of the maps.

One of the Pirate hunt maps

One of the Pirate hunt maps

There are 5 hunts and they are masterfully laid out in Adventureland which is very easy to move around in. You don’t have to do it all in one day either. Here is information about the Pirate’s Treasure HuntAlso there is a “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” hunt that you can get at the firehouse on Main Street. In it, you become an apprentice of Merlin and fight the disney villains like Ursula and Scar. I’m so sad that we didn’t have time to do that one. It goes all over the park.

12. Do set up some expectations or limitations for your child ahead of time.We told our boys that we would buy them one souvenir and that they could spend $20 of their own money to buy another souvenir. We also told them they could have one treat a day – be it ice cream in the afternoon or a dessert after dinner. So they had to really think about it when they wanted something. They also didn’t ask us for things every time we turned around. If they did, we just reminded them of the limits. It made it much more pleasant not to have to say ‘no’ all the time.

13. Do get a personalized souvenir.

Silhouettes of Carter and Henry

Silhouettes of Carter and Henry

They are delightful. When I went to Disney at age 5 (I think) my mom got silhouettes made of us and they still hang on her wall. So I got one of the boys this year (one for her too). They are so sweet and inexpensive ($16 with the frame – which is plastic, but still). It doesn’t take that long either. They can be found in Liberty square just before the bridge. There are lots of other personalized items to get (the mouse ears, of course), but be sure to allow enough time. I wanted to get a parasol for my goddaughter (they are so cute. They paint their name on it and flowers or a character. And they have mini ones). I went to the booth the day we were leaving and she said it would take four hours. I asked if I could get it in two and she said ‘no’ (not very Disney of her IMO). Still, wish I had gotten it the day before. Most of the items you buy in the park can be sent back to your hotel if you stay at a Disney resort. If not, I think they will hold them for you until the end of the day.

14. Do eat in any of these restaurants if you can: Cape May, Crystal Palace, Whispering Canyon. They are fun and have good food.

15. Do enjoy your Disney resort.

My boys look like roasting a marshmallow is the most serious job in the world here. There isn’t a ton of time left after the parks, but it would be a shame to miss out on some of the awesome experiences at your hotel. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and loved it. I took a run twice on their jogging path which was so quiet and secluded. We took the boat to Fort Wilderness for a campfire sing-a-long with Chip and Dale. They also have complimentary marshmallow roasting and movies after dark (which was too late for my kids). We even saw a few bunnies on the grounds of our hotel I did wonder for a second if a “cast member” had just let it out of a cage to add to the atmosphere.

16. Do visit Tom Sawyer Island while in Magic Kingdom.

The fort at Tom Sawyer Island

The fort at Tom Sawyer Island

The kids will love exploring there. It gets you away from the crowds. Done.

17. Do the Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios. We didn’t do it, but wish we had. Carter was very tired that day (it was the day after the fireworks) and he just couldn’t muster up the energy to get on stage. We watched it though which was really fun enough! Darth Vader comes out. It’s very cool.

18. Do get a pressed coin.

Making pennies! for $.50!

Making pennies! for $.50!

It’s a cheap and easy souvenir. It give the kids something to do in line and it beats collecting those pins. You can get a different type all over the park and resorts.

19. Do see the Electric Light Parade at Magic Kingdom.

Electric Light Parade at Magic Kingdom

Electric Light Parade at Magic Kingdom

We enjoyed all of the parades, but this one is worth staying up for. It’s at 9, so not too, too late. It’s not nearly as hot as the ones in the daytime (which are awesome to watch nonetheless).

20. Do remember these sweet moments forever.

And when you get too old to remember them, look at the pictures and think, “What a happy family. I wonder who these people are. The wife is very tan. Why is her husband so pale? He should spend more time in the sun. Where did I put my teeth?”

And that’s all I can think of for now. I hope you go and I hope you have a blast like we did. IMG_5938

People were loving this sight!

Disney Day 4 and 5: Treasure Hunts

On the fourth day, Carter was asking if he could go back to Hollywood Studios since he decided not to do the Jedi Training, but had since changed his mind (this is a common occurrence for poor Carter). We had NO desire to go back to Hollywood Studios. We had spent very little time there and felt like we had done as much as we wanted. It’s for bigger kids and adults. The reason to go is for the Jedi training and the Star Wars toys. Also, we didn’t get park hoppers so we couldn’t do two parks in a day, nor would I want to.

Then, we found the Pirate Treasure Hunt over by Pirates of the Caribbean. This is exactly why Disney World is genius. I noticed this little sign over a little room that said, “Pirate Treasure Hunt”. There was no line and no one seemed to be using it. I thought Carter would like it. OMG – it was the BEST thing we found at Disney(besides the cake pops, obvs). If you have a 6 year old boy, you HAVE to do this.

So you go into the little room and they have 5 maps and an interactive screen. A person explains to your child that they need to touch their fast pass (that sounds wrong) to the symbol on the screen. When they do, it tells them which map to pick up. The maps are old looking and very cool.

the five treasure hunt maps

the five treasure hunt maps

Inside of one of the maps

Inside of one of the maps

The treasure hunt is only in Adventureland so you aren’t having to walk all over the park. It is mostly in the gift shops, of course (DISNEY. Always there for the money grab). All over the gift shops and the park there are trunks and baskets and boxes that look like they are just decoration to enhance the “Adventureland” feel. Most of them are part of the treasure hunt. The map tells you to find a symbol and gives you the general area where it is. It is not too hard and not too easy to find. Then Carter had to put his fast pass (they call it ‘talisman’. All of this sounds really dirty – haha) on the symbol. When he did we heard a magic sound (kind of like tinkerbell) and then at each location something would open up or happen. At one location, a canon fired across the way and rang a bell. At another, a basket popped open and a cobra snake (fake) pooped out. At one inside the gift shop, a laser hit something in the room on the other side of the wall then sounded a trumpet (or something). There were kids in that room doing the dress like a pirate thingy. They started singing “Oh a pirate’s life for me”, which I guess they had been told to do anytime that trumpet sounded. It was BRILLIANT. After the initial event, Jack Sparrow’s voice (or another character from pirates of the caribbean) would come on and tell you about the next clue.
One of the Treasure Hunt clue locations.

One of the Treasure Hunt clue locations.

We did three on day 4 and two on day 5. Carter went to bed talking about it and woke up talking about it. He forgot all about the Jedi training. Henry was not much into it, but he had some fun too. It took about two hours to do all five, but you never had to wait in line and it was so active. In the end, you find the treasure, but you don’t get to take anything with you. It’s the thrill of the chase, ya know.

The other thing we enjoyed on Day 4 was Tom Sawyer Island. When we first got on the little raft, Craig and I were like, “uh oh. how long does this last?” Carter and Henry loved it. It’s self guided so you can stay or leave whenever you like. There were so many boys over there beaming with excitement. They just explored the island.

My little explorer.

My little explorer.

There was a rope bridge, underground mine, a fort from the civil war and a hidden escape tunnel where I actually had to use my cell phone flash light because it was so dark.
The fort at Tom Sawyer Island

The fort at Tom Sawyer Island

Highly recommend this for 6 year old boys and younger. There is also a shaded area for a picnic lunch and it wasn’t crowded at all.
Henry rockin' a tank top

Henry rockin’ a tank top

OMG we went to Downtown Disney that night for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe – DO NOT DO THIS! OMG! BIG MISTAKE! HUGE! TRUST ME ON THIS ONE! They are doing construction at Downtown Disney and it is so difficult to get anywhere. Even if you took the bus, which is no fun, it would take forever. We were late. Everyone was hungry. The food was so so. It was expensive. The boys barely ate. we had to walk two miles to get back to our car. UGH! On the up side, I got this awesome shot.

People were loving this sight!

People were loving this sight!

Normally, I’m sure Downtown Disney is great. It seemed like lots of fun, but we just had to get out of there and get to sleep. Don’t go. Eat at the hotel or wherever. T Rex and Rainforest are not worth it.

Day 5 was a special event that only happens once a year: 24 hour Disney! They opened at 6am and didn’t close until 6 this next morning. For half a second, I thought we should get there at 6. I mean, we would be able to ride all of the rides with no waiting or fast pass. It wouldn’t be hot. We were leaving that day anyway. Then I realized that I didn’t want to get up that early. Also we had to pack. We got there at 8:30 and it was fine. We stocked up on cake pops and rice krispy treats for friends and ourselves. The one thing that irked me was the lady at the parasol booth. I had decided to buy a mini parasol for my god daughter. They are so cute. They paint your name on it with flowers or Disney characters. It’s adorable. I went to the booth at 10:30 and she said she could get it for my by 1. I told her we were leaving and she said “sorry”. Not very Disney. She had lots of other orders. So I asked if she could get it by 12. No dice. I felt like she could have done that. Whatever, just not a very shiny happy thing for our last day. But my god daughter would have probably destroyed that mini parasol in five minutes flat. Moral of the story, if you want a parasol, get it before your last day.

Coming up tomorrow: my tips for your next Disney trip!

Day 4!

Day 4!

Disney Day 2: Revenge of the Sweat

We are finally recovered from Disney and I’ve got a bunch of posts coming on our visit, tips, my favorite things and the Wilderness Lodge. For today, I went back in time, way back, to day 2 of our Disney World vacation. Feel the history…..

Day 2 was fantastic…until we over did it! It started out great. We got there at 9am and left before anyone was too grumpy around 2. One of the best parts of the day was getting a delicious Disney treat. The baked goods at Disney are phenomenal. We told the boys they could get one treat each day that we were at Disney. If we hadn’t, Carter would ask for ice cream every half hour starting at 9am. So the boys chose these adorable ice cream cones.

Adorable and delicious

Adorable and delicious

I got this massive chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich because I’m a pig.
Aww yeah. Come to Mama. She's judging me. I can see it in her eyes.

Aww yeah. Come to Mama. She’s judging me. I can see it in her eyes.

Seriously, you are burning a lot of calories at Disney World. Eat the treats.

Seriously, you are burning a lot of calories at Disney World. Eat the treats.

What could be better than that after a hot day? Actually, it’s pretty disgusting eating so much sugar in the hot, hot sun. But I don’t care. I’m on vacation and I’m gonna make it work.

Ok so, we actually broke our one treat a day rule on the second day, but it was a lollipop, so that doesn’t really count. They could barely eat them they were so big. Aren’t they delightful??

boys and their lollies

boys and their lollies

On day two, I think I really nailed it on food. We didn’t spend a dime, aside from the treats (take that Disney – ha!). For several reasons I like to bring my own food to the park. Mostly because I’m frugal. Disney is a very costly vacation and worth every penny. They do the most wonderful job with hospitality, entertainment, herding the crowds and keeping so many moving parts organized and coordinated. I don’t mind paying for quality, but Disney food (aside from the the aforementioned treats) is not all that great.

So that morning, I packed sandwiches for us. I also chopped up a watermelon which was the most welcome treat at 11:15 when I was hot, hungry and thirsty. The best part about bringing your own food is that the kids can just eat it in the stroller. So no matter where you are, you don’t have to rush to find a table or a bench to sit on. If they are hungry, I just hand them a sandwich and they gobble it up. It takes very little time and we can be on the move while they eat. Plus you avoid the frustration of trying get a table at a quick service restaurant or spending an hour in a nice restaurant only to leave and still be in the park. I know people that love the dining plan. Maybe when my kids are older it will be worth it.

We do eat out at Disney. We did two character meals that were great and two other meals that were up and down. I actually cancelled one dining reservation the day of (Wednesday) and they didn’t charge me (there is usually a cancellation fee) which was nice. We were all just too tired to go to a restaurant. That’s the problem with having to make the dining reservations so far in advance, you just don’t know how you are going to feel that day. You can always cancel the night before though without a fee. So definitely book any meals you think you might want as soon as possible. Restaurants like Crystal Palace, 1900 Park Fare and 50’s Prime Time usually have availability about a month or two in advance. Be Our Guest, Chef Mickey and the Cinderella castle meal have to be booked on the day the reservations open up which is 6 months from the day you want to go. You can book everything on the Disney app (which I highly recommend), by phone or on their website.

Anyway, we got back to the hotel and I did laundry while Craig took the boys to the pool. I met them out there and then we came back to the room, bathed and I made dinner. It was a nice break from people and having to be somewhere and act appropriately for a restaurant. We should have probably just stopped there and rested up for the next day. But we didn’t, oh no. We were out until 10:30 – gasp! And we were all terribly exhausted the next day. Cardinal rule about Disney – don’t over do it! You can’t do it all and that’s fine. Sometimes you just have to say, no. But of course, I didn’t do that.

Also, we sweated a lot on day 2, in case I forgot to mention. Disney = Sweaty.

Disney Day 3 – Exhaustion

Too tired to finish Day 2 post yet. Here’s a quick one on Day 3. Everyone was beyond exhausted this morning after staying up for the Electrical Light Parade Tuesday night and it was TOTALLY WORTH IT! It’s an awesome parade! IMG_5739 We were leaving right after that ended at 9:30, but then Carter wanted a hot dog. And then we got to the dock to catch our boat and it was 9:45. The fireworks start at 10 and both boys were wanting to see them. Carter said, “That’s ok. We can come back another night to see them.” I had to catch my breath. OMG no. I cannot try to do this again. Craig was ready to go. God bless him, he let me take us back in to see the beginning of the fireworks. I know that sounds crazy. We could barely keep our eyes open, but there was no way we would come back another night. Oh hell no. So here is what my boys looked like at 8pm tonight.

didn't nap.

didn’t nap.

did.

did.

My boys LOVE breakfast with Donald Duck at Cape May. So, we had to get up early this morning to get there by 7:30. We have now entered the “trying to do too much phase”

my boys love Donald!

my boys love Donald!

Carter could no longer fit into his Donald Duck costume so he handed it down to Henry. But Henry would only wear it for 5 minutes. That’s enough time for cute pics though. Not sure why Henry dissed Minnie, but he was excited to meet Goofy.

We took the boat to Hollywood Studios from breakfast. Carter ONLY wants to travel by boat. It is really fun. We were so tired that we only did one thing there, which seemed like enough. Signed up for the Jedi Training at 6pm for Carter then went home for lunch and rest. Door to Door took an hour to get back there for the training and he changed his mind and didn’t want to do it. Henry fell asleep on the way there, missed it all.

Henry fell asleep on the bus to Hollywood Studios.

Henry fell asleep on the bus to Hollywood Studios.

Oh well. We did get awesome toys at the Star Wars store.
Carter and Henry playing Star Wars all over everywhere. So cute!

Carter and Henry playing Star Wars all over everywhere. So cute!

So tired, I have to (honk shew, honk shew – this is the sound I make when I snore).

image

Disney Day 1

WE ARE AT DISNEY!!!!!! This is already a very different Disney trip than our first one and it is only day one. We got to the Magic Kingdom around 12:30. Last time, we were leaving for the day at 12:30 – off to the hotel to swim in the pool for the afternoon and hope the boys would nap. I have been so looking forward to this trip, remembering the sweetness and rather ease of our first visit. We walked in and there were three times as many people there as when we came in September two years ago. Near the castle, they were having one of the dance parade thingies and the music was blaring. As we walked up, they announced the next song, “And now we’re gonna get down to ‘Shut up and dance'”. Really Disney? That’s the song you pick for a theme park geared toward 3-6 year olds? The word “Shut Up” is in the title. I thought to myself, “What did I ever like about this place? There are too many sweaty people here and my children are freaked by this over stimulating parade.” So we ran from the dance party as quickly as we could. It had only been ten minutes and the back sweat was already collecting.

We went to the Swiss Family Robinson Tree because the boys loved that movie. From there everything got much better, even though it was crazy crowded. The sweetness all returned after the boys road “Goofy’s Barnstormer” and “Flying Dumbo”. We finished up the day with Buzz Lightyear and Winnie the Pooh. Then we got one of the amazing cake pops that have frequented my dreams since our visit in 2013. They did not disappoint. The baked goods at Disney are the BOMBDITITY! Just look at these treats.

YUMMMMMM!!!!

YUMMMMMM!!!!

But when we went over to catch the boat back to Wilderness Lodge there were no seats. Ok. We can handle that. We also had to fold up our stroller – not a big deal. What ruined the magic was that they just kept letting people on. It was more crowded than the 6 train at rush hour. Oh but this boat has no air conditioning and is filled with sweaty people who have been at Disney for 8 hours and may or may not have remembered deodorant this morning. And I’m holding Henry because he’s 4 and he’s exhausted. I often say to my self, “Will he remember this? Will he remember riding the flying Dumbo ride and putting his sweet pudgy hand on my leg?
I have this same picture from when he was two and we came. I love it! It's maybe the reason to come.

I have this same picture from when he was two and we came. I love it! It’s maybe the reason to come.

Will he remember that I put him on my shoulders in the blistering heat so he could watch the fantasy parade and he was completely sitting on my hair the whole time causing my neck to rear back? Will he remember our sweaty embrace on the Wilderness Lodge boat? My knees shaking as I was about to drop him because we waited for twenty minutes while they let 500 people on the tiny boat? No, he won’t. I probably will because I’m making a mental check list of pay back items for them :).

Anyway, that was disappointing, but nothing else was. The Wilderness Lodge is fantastic!! It is so perfect for kids. The theme and decor is adorable and my boys notice every little detail. Carter loves all of the Native American headdresses and tools and Henry keeps saying things like “this whole building is made of wood. They built it up, up, up..” After dinner at Whispering Canyon they were positively giddy.

Whispering Canyon is so fun for the kids

Whispering Canyon is so fun for the kids

It is such a fun place where they yell and bring twenty ketchups to your table and then you do the same to another table.
Henry looks unenthused by all of the ketchups, but he loved it!

Henry looks unenthused by all of the ketchups, but he loved it!

They loved our waiter!

They loved our waiter!

And the food was really good. My boys love the pool and they got to roast marshmallows. There is going to be a water balloon game on Wednesday. Tomorrow we are doing a sing a long with Chip and Dale. It’s the best. But they need bigger boats though with more seating and a big place for strollers and possibly a bar on board. I know it’s only a 15 minute drive, but sometimes there is traffic on the waterway.

And let me tell you who the real heroes of this trip are so far. These crazy water bag things from Target!

If you find one of these awesome bottles, never let it go.

If you find one of these awesome bottles, never let it go.

Holy crow – I am always griping about water bottles because they are hard to clean or don’t hold enough water. These suckers are the best. They hold 22 oz and are BPA free. You can put them in the freezer and they stay cold for hours, even in the heat. I got them at Target before we left because they were on sale and I thought – “well, I’ll try this.” But assumed they would leak or suck in some significant way. Couldn’t be more pleasantly surprised. Even if they only last through this trip, they are totally worth it. $5 (on sale from $10) go get one.

My other tip if you are going to Disney is bring water. OMG the water here tastes like liquified toots. Blech! I had to run out to a super target to get some (which BTW is not all that far and very handy).

That is all for now. Tomorrow we are back at Magic Kingdom. I am going to pass out now.

Victoria’s First Birthday Party

My adorable god daughter turned one! Look at this angel!DSC_2316

Her mom let me help with the decorations which made me sooo happy! Unfortunately, for the third time this year, I was sick. I had laryngytis, was coughing, couldn’t talk or sleep, but I didn’t care. I finally got to do a girls birthday party!!! AND she wanted a pink and gold party. It was like I died and went to birthday party heaven. So here it is….my dream first birthday party

Isn't it adorable?

Isn’t it adorable?

We stayed up for 3 nights until 11 making the decorations. I hear you laughing, but you have no idea. Every night, I am in my pajamas at 7. My eyes are closed and I am sawing logs by 10. If Craig and I go out to dinner, we go at 6, home by 8. I’m only 40, but I’m living every day like I’m 65…and lovin’ it! So staying up until 11 just shows how psyched I was.

It all started with Victoria’s pink tutu.

look at her. already walking!

look at her. already walking!

Sarah wanted to make a table skirt to match. So we did!:DSC_2314 It was pretty easy to do. It just took a lot of tulle. You can get it on spools at Michael’s. I think we used 10 spools for a 6 foot table.

We made the pink and gold tassel garland and the banner.

If I had any cleavage, I would thank Victoria for strategically placing her head in front of it to protect my god motherly demure image.

If I had any cleavage, I would thank Victoria for strategically placing her head in front of it to protect my god motherly demure image.

For the tassels, we used pink tissue paper (hard to find the right color). For the metallic gold tassels, we reused the ones I made for my 40th birthday party which were a gold fringe table skirt that I got at Party City cut into strips and then rolled together. I tried cutting metallic gold tissue paper and it was so frustrating. The paper just rips – not worth it. For the banner, we cut triangles and then used the gold foil sticker letters that you can buy at Michael’s.

Sarah wanted to display all the the pictures she took each month of Victoria’s first year. So we found these cute shiny gold cards and glued the pictures to them. Then we taped the cards to bamboo skewers and stuck them into boxes wrapped in this awesome pink and gold paper that Sarah found at Home Goods.

so cute, right?

so cute, right?

We got this gold glitter paper at Michael’s and I used my heart punch to punch out glitter hearts which I taped to the bamboo skewers and put in the box too because you only turn 1 once. You should definitely guild the lily.

DSC_2282

Check out this GORGEOUS cake Sarah got at Henri’sDSC_2322I wish I could make one like that. I did make this shiny, gold “1”DSC_2324 and it is FABULOUS!
Victoria liked the decorations so much, she even let me hold her. Well, not the first time I tried…DSC_2257
And then, like all people, she realized my awesomeness and was all over me.DSC_2291 Look at this pretty girl! She makes me so happy!

I’m already dreaming up what we will do for her second birthday!!!!
Happy Birthday Victoria!

Happy Birthday Victoria!

Dinner – ugh – coming up with meals drives me crazy

Every day I wake up thinking – “What am I going to make for dinner?” It plagues me. Not just because my children only want to eat breakfast for every meal, but also because it is taxing to come up with meals for everyone each day. I can’t imagine people with 4 kids let alone 19 kids trying to make something for everyone. To make things more difficult, my boys don’t seem to like meat much. Which is fine by me because I’m not that into it either, but Craig is. He needs a lot of food all day long. You wouldn’t know it to look at his thin body, but the man can put back some food. He is in his mid-fourties and I think he is still growing. I have never counted the number of calories he eats in a day, but it’s in the 3,000 range and he never gains a pound (shake my fists). He eats a half pint of Haagen Dazs every night and never gains weight (shouting to God, “WHY? Why couldn’t it be me?”). He is a miracle. I, on the other hand, eat only raw vegetables and fruit and gain weight. Life is so unfair.

Anyway, back to dinner, the meal itself takes FOREVER! They don’t eat. Actually, Carter is starting to become a very prolific eater, but Henry is on a fast or something. I make them alfredo, their favorite and Henry barely touches it. He went through a two week period of only wanting oatmeal for every meal. Even when they do eat, it’s a lot of us sitting there cajoling them to take just one bite. The struggle starts immediately when I try to get them to eat vegetables first. I tell them when they eat their vegetables then they will get whatever it is they are wanting – peanut butter and jelly sometimes. I don’t even care at this point, I just don’t want to have to give them Miralax.

Last night, I resigned to just making what I thought they needed: black beans, cantaloupe, roasted cauliflower and toast or whatever bread they wanted after they ate the others. It was about 20 minutes before they took a single bite. There were a lot of tears, but they did it. We were exhausted and thoroughly frustrated. Just before I fell asleep, I leaned over to Craig and said, “What am I going to make for dinner?”
“Already?” was his reply.
I don’t know. It might have to be pizza because I don’t think I have the strength…

Treasurehunt

Carter’s Magical 6th Birthday part 2- the Treasure Hunt

There are many ways to do a treasure hunt, but I will tell you what really worked for us and what was worth the effort. We started with a premise based on the theme of the birthday party, which was, unfortunately, “Super Buddies”. In our clues, we used characters from the movie, but you could easily co-opt our clues to work for any book/movie. Using Merlin or Morgan from “Magic Tree House” would be super easy.

We wrote clues that were easy enough for them to figure out and rhymed. Rhyming is not necessary, but it seems more fun. We staple gunned colored flags to trees in the nature preserve with notes stapled near them. For flags, I just used some old felt I had. Sometimes the clues just told them what color flag to find and sometimes it directed them to a location.

Here are some of the key elements that made our treasure hunt a hit!
1. KEYS and LOCKS – OMG – 6 year olds LOVE keys and locks.
One thing that was CRUCIAL to their enjoyment was for them to find little prizes along the way. Make sure everyone gets the same thing though, or you may have problems. The first “prize” they found was a box of necklaces, one for each child. The Rings of Inspiron are from the “Super Buddies” movie, but you could call them “the rings of truth” or “the rings of the imagination” or something awesome (ha) like that. I got the idea from Club Chica Circle. I bought one small washer for each child from the hardware store. I painted them each a different color of nail polish and tied them to some string (my string was crappy. Use shoe laces or something that will hold a knot well). Next they found magic keys. We painted each key to coordinate with the necklaces. We also had to paint the mini brass locks (which came with the keys. explanation to follow) to match so they would know which key opened which lock. Save yourself some money and buy these from Amazon . We did everything so last minute that we had to spend a little more. Here’s what they look like

Ring of Inspiron, magic key/lock

Ring of Inspiron, magic key/lock

2. Make something invisible reappear
We started with a note from Cleocatra (ugh -that’s her name in the “Super Buddies” movie). It said that she had hidden gifts for all of Carter’s friends in a magic trunk that is invisible(six year olds LOVE invisible things). To find the trunk, they had to first find the “Rings of Inspiron” (the necklaces I wrote about above), the magic keys and most importantly, they had to work together.

Cleocatra's note

Cleocatra’s note

While they were pinning the tail on the donkey, I ran up and said that the UPS truck just delivered a message. It was a long scroll where Craig had hand written the note from Cleocatra (again – UGH to her name). We barely had time to grab the tools and put on our rainboots before they were literally running to the nature preserve.

Running to the treasure hunt!

Running to the treasure hunt!

3. The Clues: Have some real challenges in there, but not too challenging.
The first clue led them to a bag of tools in our yard. We debated on what to use as tools. We ended up just putting shovels (mostly plastic) in there. Initially, we were going to have a different tool for each child so they would each have a special task to do. But it was way too time consuming. We were also worried that they would fight over who got the best tool. Honestly, I do think it would be cool to give them all something different, if you have the time to come up with the items. We were going to do invisible ink. The tool would be a highlighter. We would write the clue on paper with white crayon and then use they highlighter to uncover the message.

The clues

The clues


The first clue led to the tools:

To get the tools in your hand
Go to the box that’s filled with sand

The second clue led them to a card with the word “blue” on it.

Clear the muddy pass and stand on wood
Look for the rope and pull it up good

There was a huge mud pit in front of the bridge on the path (“AWESOME!”- said every 6 year old boy ever). The note was tied to a string and hanging from the bridge. They actually didn’t get this one on their own, but it was the first one so that made sense.
The third clue was stapled to the tree with the blue flag. It said:

Follow this path of blue
Something orange awaits you

that way!

that way!


The fourth clue was stapled to the tree with the orange flag. It said:

My wonderful prize is within reach
You must go toward the beach
But be alert on Carter’s big day
For other clues along the way

The fifth clue was in the middle of this area with a low canopy. So we hung an arrow on a card so they would run into it. Then we placed an old timey looking suitcase nearby with the rings of inspiron in it.

Because it is his special day
The birthday boy gets to say
Which color ring he wants today
Don’t worry, each color ring is great
To get the trunk, cooperate
And you will soon uncover your fate!

You don’t have to be a poet to rhyme; as is evidenced by that clue.

The sixth clue was stapled to a tree outside of the beach area with a flag. It said:

You found the rings in the trees
Go to the beach to get the keys
Use the tools to uncover my plot
It’s really easy, “x” marks the spot.

Here is where they got to use their tools (shovels). They would have all been digging like crazy, except we didn’t bury the box deep enough. Definitely bury it well. They will love digging. Inside this box, were the keys painted to match their necklaces and the next clue.

Good work! Your sharing is paying off
Head back to the bridge and all will be clear
What once was invisible, now will appear
But don’t forget, watch for clues
You’re so close now, work as a team and you can’t lose.

The meter of your poetry doesn’t have to make sense, like Walt Whitman’s.

It was a long way back to the bridge, so we stapled a few flags up with colors written on the cards and one last clue:

almost there go to the start
Your kindness really warms my heart

Reading a clue

Reading a clue


Finally, they got to the bridge. We called my step dad a little bit after we started and he carried the trunk to the edge of the bridge where we entered. When they turned the corner and saw it, their heads nearly exploded. We had put all 8 of the mini locks on the trunk. So each child had to use their key to open it (working together! and everyone got a turn). When they opened it up, some balloons popped out and there was a kite for each child (you could definitely make this part more exciting than we did). I thought it was a great favor, but (as you can see in the photo) it seemed like they would have preferred something like a crappy plastic coin or whatever. Pearls to swine.
The trunk magically appeared!

The trunk magically appeared!

4. Give the birthday boy/girl something special
I wanted Carter to feel special since he was the birthday boy. So I put a little baggie in the trunk with a message written in gold pen. Inside the baggie was a mood ring that I just happened to have (I have no idea where I got it. It probably is a magical ring and I have now given all of my magic to a 6 year old boy who will most likely wish for a magical, metal flying machine that makes pancakes). The message said it was “the ring of truth” and that it was for the birthday boy. He LOVES it and always has it with him now. It definitely made him feel special.DSC_2690

Now go out and make your own treasure hunt! The more clues you have, the more time you’ll kill. It’s a great way to get the kids outside and active!

Treasure hunt = fun

Treasure hunt = fun

Carter’s magical 6th birthday

Carter's party

Carter’s party

I love planning my kid’s birthday parties, but I was so scared of Carter’s 6th birthday. Instead of having a big blow out with all the kids in his class, he wanted a small affair. Good! At first, he wanted the theme to be “Magic Tree House” and I was doing back flips all over the house. Pinterest is littered with ideas for MTH. Plus it’s about a book so maybe people will think we don’t watch TV. hahaha. I started planning that night.

A week later, he changed his mind. We finished all of the tree house books and he just lost interest. He wanted the theme to be based on this series of Disney movies about a bunch of cute yellow labs called, “Super Buddies” (Air Buddies, Santa Buddies, etc.) It’s cute, but not nearly as fun as MTH. I was majorly disappointed, but tried not to show it (unless he noticed the single tear rolling down my cheek).

Normally, I start making decorations and planning two months in advance. It was a week before the party, I hadn’t really done much of anything. I pulled some pictures from the Disney site and printed them out, but I didn’t make any party circles or cute tags with his name on them. I just wasn’t into it. Worse, I didn’t know what we were going to do with eight 6 year olds for two and a half hours. Carter wanted to have a sack race and play pin the tail on the donkey (because he should have been born in 1954), but that would kill maybe 15 minutes and I was pretty terrified that half of them wouldn’t be into it.

Then I had a brilliant idea. We live two houses away from this amazing nature preserve. So, I decided to have a treasure hunt! Literally, three days before the party we decided this. So Craig and I started planning it out. We came up with a scenario based on the movie that was pretty elaborate. My next post will break down exactly how we did it. Want to know how it went? Well, one child said (and I quote) “this is the best day of my life”. So, I’d say it was pretty effing amazing!

The rest of the party was great too. It was a beautiful day. DSC_2487We started out with the kids having a sack race, egg race and pin the tail on the donkey – just as Carter wanted.

I did end up making a few decorations .

For the first time since Carter’s first birthday, I did not make his cake. It was such a load off not to make it, but I was still kinda sad. He really doesn’t like cake though. He only wanted ice cream. So we got a Baskin Robbins cake. Let me tell you, I have literally saved my family $250 by baking the cake for five years (birthday cakes are EXPENSIVE). I do what I can. Here it is. I made the little bunting on it

Stay tuned for my next post with all the details on the treasure hunt. I highly recommend having an outdoor treasure hunt for a 6 year old’s party. It is the PERFECT age (though I think older would be fine too). Find out the dos and don’ts of a treausure hunt in my next post so you can create your own!

Oh, there you are…

“Oh, there you are.” That’s what I used to say when I was working for the scientist at NYU and I would take an extra long lunch. Occasionally, I would go home to watch Law & Order and nap. Usually, he was out of town or in a meeting when I did this, but if it happened on a day when he was in, he might start nosing around. So if I thought he’d been looking for me, I’d beat him to the “where have you been?” and act like I had been looking for him. Egads – I am so dumb. The man was a leading AIDS researcher with an MD PhD from Ivy league schools – no doubt I wasn’t fooling him. But it threw him off a bit (or at least my 25 year old self thought so) and he was smart enough to realize that my hour and a half lunch wasn’t such a big deal. He was curing cancer AND AIDS, after all.

So, I’ve been gone a while, dear reader. But not because I’ve been napping (oh how I wish). Quite the contrary. I’ve been getting stuff done! Cleanin’, organizin’, I put together a fall festival at our school! Then there were the holidays and many, many illnesses (flu, stomach, strep – WOOHOO!). So I am back! Let’s have some fun!

There is so much about to happen! Carter is turning 6 and his birthday theme has me totally flummoxed! I’ve been busy decoupaging with comic books and the results are AWESOME! I’ve got a ton of sewing that I’m starting/finishing! AND (drum roll) we are going to Disney in less than two months!!!! So much to talk about!!!! I know you are on the edge of your virtual seats.

guess where we are going?

guess where we are going?

I’m thinking about getting vein treatments, but I’m too cheap. I’m waiting to see what shape my veins take when they are done expanding. If they start to look like an eagle or a line drawing of Geoffrey Rush’s character in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, I may turn them into a tattoo instead. #savingmoney #vainvein

Halloween Candy Rankings 2014 – candy corn dead last yet again

imageLast year, I ranked Carter’s Halloween candy from best to worst and it created quite a stir. Well, I’m doing it again and anybody that wants to argue that Milky Ways aren’t awful can suck it. Obviously, candy corn is dead last again. Thankfully, our neighbors had a better fiscal year and we didn’t get any of that crap. Even in absentia, candy corn is the worst. But there have been some changes at the top spot. Maybe it’s my advancing age and subsequent palette changes, but Kit Kat has usurped the candy throne from Twix. Ring Pop made it to #3 largely based on the novelty of a Ring Pop. Henry actually got a mini, gummy hamburger, but ate it too quickly for me to photograph. Otherwise, that would’ve been top 5 (that house is #1 in my book btw). The variety of M&M’s we received was impressive and properly scored. You’ll notice Almond Joy is conspicuously absent. In a dick move, none of the neighbors gave them out this year. Way to ruin my Halloween. AJ is #1 ADL (all day long for those of you who never waited tables).

I don’t want to hear it about Whoppers being #6. Whoopers are so abused in the candy hierarchy. They are delicious. They are almost exactly like robin’s eggs from Easter. I love their crispy, airy quality. So just stop – stop it with your Whopper hatin’. I do question why I put Crunch ahead of Whopper. I could go both ways on that one.

All in all, it was a really good haul this year. Twizzlers, sour gummies, lots of chocolate – a little something for everybody. The oversight of Almond Joy is unforgivable though. So 2014 is the worst year for candy thus far.

Organizin’

"The things you own end up owning you." Oh "Fight Club" - you were so right.

“The things you own end up owning you.” Oh “Fight Club” – you were so right.

I’m pretty confident that I will spend much of this year trying to organize that which has remained unorganized for the past five and half years. This, no doubt, gives my husband great joy as he loves nothing more than tidiness and order. It is such a struggle for me though. I get so bogged down in the details and I seem to make up a reason why every little scrap of paper has value. If it weren’t for Craig, I might be a lonely hoarder having my children removed from the home along with a slew of cat carcasses.

Basically, organizing with me goes like this. I pick up the stuff off of the dining room table and I put it on the bed in the back bedroom. A few weeks/months later, I sift through those things and toss a few receipts, then take everything else upstairs to our bedroom closet where it sits for a few weeks/months. After a while, I start getting anxious every time I see that pile of stuff (which is always neatly piled in a bin or basket btw. I’m not an animal.) I take several hours one day and sort it all into specific bins in the attic. There they will sit for, I don’t even know how long yet. Maybe years. Maybe eternity. I may try to sell a few items. I may look through a bin and just give it all away or chunk it just to absolve myself of the responsibility of knowing what I have just tossed. Who knows? Maybe one of my scraps will end up on Antiques Roadshow and everyone will say “what moron threw this hand print by Carter Kelly age 3.5 out?” Why can’t it just be simple? If it’s old, throw it out. Don’t worry that you might use it in a decoupage project 10 years from now. If in doubt, throw it out.

UGH – the playroom. The children will always find cause to play with an old toy. It’s like Sophie’s Choice to them trying to clear things out. “You want me to choose between the torn paper hat I wore at the two year old birthday party of a play mate who’s name I will never remember or this broken Tonka truck without a wheel??? You are a monster!” It’s lose/lose as far as they are concerned. I have put a lot of toys in the basement and if they ever follow me down there, they area always like “ooo, let’s play with this puzzle that only has 10 of the 30 pieces.” Losing.

I want to teach them how to throw stuff away. How to recognize that it is stuff and if you haven’t used it for a year, someone else, possibly a landfill, will. But how can I? I have scarce learned that lesson myself. It’s like Reggie Watts teaching someone to brush their hair. He hasn’t the first clue how to brush hair. He’s never done it. I feel totally subordinate to all of these toys and things that I own, but don’t know what to do with. “The things you own end up owning you.” Oh Tyler Durden, you were so right.

My cousin’s wife, Stacey McElrath, is a professional organizer in Birmingham, AL. PROFESSIONAL! She loves organizing so much that it is her life’s work and she is GOOD! Her blog is inspiring, seriously – check it out SHMorganzing. I read her facebook posts about throwing out broken toys and organizing the playroom and I am totally up for it, but then I am still kind of deciding which toys are broken enough. It’s like I was just born this way. I was born messy. Up until this point, I have had every excuse for not organzing -having small chidlren at home all day, but now, I have three hours every day free. So, there is no excuse anymore. I mean, Stacey had her second baby just a month ago and is organizing as we speak. Amazing!

And that is just what I”m about to do. I will set about to organizin’ again today and hopefully be better than I was yesterday. That’s all I can do people (by “people” I mean Craig). Do check out Stacey McElrath’s blog SHMorganzing and her facebook page for simple steps to organize your pantry, closets, play room, ball caps and everything that is owning you. Yow own those things. Show them who is boss.

Who’s poop is it?

Wise Guy

Wise Guy

Yesterday Henry called out from the play room, “POOP!” He said it wasn’t his, but that doesn’t mean anything. He’s not above lying. So, we had to decipher was it human poop or dog poop. There’s been a rash of poops on the floor lately – a most disturbing trend that we can’t seem to stop. The shape, size and temperature of this dung led us to believe that Henry was, in fact, telling the truth. He usually likes to do it in his pants anyway. What a relief, right? When someone says to me, “Cherish every moment” I just want to snap back at them, “Not EVERY moment.” AmIright? I mean, stepping on poop in your bare feet is a moment that I’d sooner forget than hold on to fondly. Seriously, people who say that must have had a nanny.

If Children Were Machines…

Child machine

Child machine

…then parents would be their technicians. Every day, all day calibrating them to make them run properly.
“Machine #2 is making a whining sound. Reduce sugar intake by half.”
“Machine #1 is slowing down. Turn it off for 10 hours. Let the battery recharge. It will run better in the morning.”
“The waste disposal mechanism is malfunctioning on machine #1 causing a lot of back up. Less cheese/more plum juice”
“Machine #2 made a screaming sound in the middle of the night. Who turned the machine on?”
“At 5:15 pm, machine #2 started kicking and screaming and I can’t seem to find the source of the problem. Refuel immediately. Attempt to reboot the mainframe.”
“Red Light! Red Light! Machine #1 is having a total meltdown. Unable to hit the reset button. May Day! May Day! We’re on lock down.”
“Who gave the machine candy? Never give the machine candy!!! Oh Christ! Now we’ll have to recalibrate it all night long.”
Eventually, it will just be, “I don’t know what’s wrong with this machine. It just came this way. It still works, just not the way we had hoped. Let’s just let it run on it’s own and see what happens. All of our efforts to control the machine have failed.”.

I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing

Clean DishesI should be cleaning the house, exercising or sewing, but I’m not. I’m just sitting here on the internet, eating chocolate – not even dark chocolate. The dishwasher is open, full of clean dishes that need putting away, but I’m not doing it. I’ve got three texts that I need to respond to, but they can wait. Why? For no good reason. The boys are back in school. This is the end of their second week. I have a new found freedom and it’s making me down right rebellious. I’m a little concerned. Maybe too much free time isn’t a good thing. I’m supposed to be dieting, but I just had a bowl of soup followed by nuts, chocolate and more chocolate. The TV is on in the other room. We NEVER have TV on during the day (only at night so the children won’t think we watch TV. So they will think life is all about doing and experiencing or reading or painting or sculpting or baking. One day they will learn of our dirty secret – we are TV addicts who heroically gave it up so that our children might live better lives unburdened by the slothish pleasure of TV! They will either thank us for being so selfless or they will hate us for making them bake and sculpt. We could end up like Bette Midler at the end of ‘Stella’. Tragically watching our daughter’s (son’s in our case) wedding from outside in the rain because we pretended we were something we were not. In our case, we pretended to be high-brow non-tv watchers. In her case, she pretended to be a trashy bar maid who loved to party more than she loved her daughter. But she was actually a trashy bar maid her really loved her daughter more than anything). Things are really changing around here.

Last week was my first taste of freedom. I started out ok. I organized my closet. Cleaned the back bedroom and did a lot of gardening. This week I made a dress for my adorable god daughter, but I still need to add the buttons. I should be doing that right now. But I’m not. Oh no, I’m not. What has become of me? Who is winning here? Who am I rebelling against and why?

The house is empty and I’m just enjoying sitting here. The silent revelry of no one around to see what I’m doing is so intoxicating. So I’m telling all of you, my two or three loyal readers. I should be ashamed of myself….but I’m not.

Red Baroned

Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 8.09.28 AM(this blog post to be read in the voice of Keith Morrison because “Dateline” was on while I was writing it.) If there is one thing Hayden has learned as a parent, it is if you smell a bad smell there is always a source. Do not stop until you find that source because if you wait….you just might get…..RED BARRONED(insert gutteral “mmmhmmm” Keith Morrison noise for curiosity here).  On Monday, Hayden went grocery shopping. She bought all of the essentials, milk, eggs, bread and……Red Baron frozen cheese pizza.  She is an earth lover, so she brought her own bags to the store and they were filled with her family’s food for the week.

Hayden got home that hot afternoon in Georgia, unloaded the groceries and went about her little life, but something was different (“mmmhmmmm”).  On Tuesday, it was lovely out and she rode around in her Honda Odyssey with the windows down, her two boys happily singing along with Elton John’s “Someone Saved my life Tonight”. At one point she thought something smelled funny in the van, but figured it was outside. On Wednesday it was hot out. Very hot.  Hayden thought she smelled a strange smell, like Italian food in the car, but they hadn’t been out to eat so she knew there couldn’t be a box of left overs anywhere (insert Keith Morrison “Ahhha” sound here). On Thursday her dutiful husband, Craig took the car to get cleaned and it came back looking wonderful, but still a faint odor of lasagna remained. On Friday, Craig, who has a very reliable nose, still smelled the offensive smell. He searched all over the car, through the storage box in the front, the cool box, even under the children’s car seats. Then he went to the trunk and what he found would haunt his olfactories for the rest of his life.  Inside a Trader Joe’s grocery bag for cold stuff was something unbelievable (mmmhhhmmmm).  Inside was (pause for dramatic effect) the Red Baron frozen pizza Hayden had purchased on Monday. All week long it sat in the hot van, roasting, stinking, sweating, losing it’s artificial sheen.  It was the only thing in that one bag, so, of course she missed it! A frozen pizza is flat and the same shape as the bag. Who puts one thing in a bag when you buy $200 worth of groceries? No one, that’s who.  And yet, on that blistering hot day in Atlanta, someone did. Oh they did. (ahhhhha)

The moral of the story: whenever there is a smell, there is always a source. Never stop looking. (this is also true for poop smells).  Hayden learned this lesson all too well (mmmmhhhhmmmm).Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 8.12.46 AM

Target 70% off TOY Clearance happening in the ATL NOW!!!

A very smart mom friend of mine told me about this. Target starts marking down toys in July and around the last week of July they are 70% off – unadvertised. It happens in January as well. We don’t know exactly when it gets to 70%, but typically, today is the day.  Keep an eye on the toy clearance section. If you see something at 50% off and it is the last one, snag it. But if they have five or ten left – wait. There will be a 70% off section soon. My friend stocks up on birthday presents and Christmas presents at this time.  So smart!  I’m about to head there now!  Go. Go there!
Check out the all things Target blog. It has lots of good strategies!!  You’re welcome

I probably had it coming…

Pretty!!!

Pretty!!!

What with all my catering to his every need since the day he was born and all. Yeah, I deserved this.

You should see the other guy.

Oops, did that hurt? Now read me a story old lady!

“Oops, did that hurt? Now read me a story old lady!”

Being a mom is dangerous..

You want a piece of me?

You want a piece of me?

Does this eye bruise make me look fat?IMG_3437 Is this a rite of passage as a mother to two boys? My first black eye?

It was an accident.

Here’s what happened. The boys love it when I play this game with them where I push them down on the bed hard. They just try to sit up. I push them down on the pillow. They laugh and laugh, “Again Mommy! Again!”. Pretty simple. Usually harmless. A bit unorthodox. So, we were having a lazy afternoon lie in the bed. We were about to get up to go swim at our neighbor’s pool and we started playing that game. Henry was next to me and Carter next to him. They took turns sitting up and then I pushed them down. Eventually, the game ended…or so I thought. I was lying there with my head on the pillow reading to Carter when I got blind sided by Henry lunging himself backward onto my face. It HURT. Like real bad it hurt. Like I shot up and said, “Henry! Oh My God!” and just held my face in a pillow saying “Oh My God! Oh my God” over and over for at least a minute. I was waiting for the pain to subside and it took way longer than usual (because I do get hit or rammed once a day or so). By the way, Henry was totally fine. I felt a goose egg on the back of his head, but he didn’t seem affected by that. He’s still in that “two year old sociopathic phase” where he feels no one else’s pain. All he said was, “Read to me!” Sweet Carter took control, “It’s ok mommy. Take deep breaths. I’ll go get an ice pack.” He went down stairs. He came back with those giant hard plastic ice packs for the cooler. “The Spiderman one Carter!”. I went into the bathroom and saw my face. “MY Face! My Fortune!” No, I was not cracking wise anymore. I started to cry. The pain was gone, but I cried anyway because I was bleeding from my face(!) and it swelled up like Tina Turner’s after that hotel fight with Ike. Ok, not that bad, but at the time, I was very hyperbolic.

I facetimed Craig. He gasped! “you may need stitches.” More crying from me. “My modeling career!”(hardeeharhar…mmmm…Hardee’s…FriscoBurger). Then I called our neighbor who we were supposed to swim with. Lucky for me, she and her husband are doctors – yay! They are very kind to allow me to sometimes overuse them as my personal physician since Doug Kwon (my previous personal physician/male bridal attendant/MDPhD in Molecular Immunology/AIDS research friend who has his own lab at HARVARD – yes, HARVARD!) lives in Boston. Seriously, it was such a relief to have them look me over and apply the bandage. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Martha & Danny!

And that’s it. Whole story. My husband doesn’t hit me. I didn’t have a car accident. I didn’t fall down drunk anywhere. It was just an accident that looks way worse than it seems like it should. Actually, it didn’t look that bad after the first day. It just looked like I had a LOT of purple eye shadow on one eye and some crazy eye liner. I could have just gone to the MAC counter and had them do the other eye the same way and no one would notice. Gradually though, it has gotten worse. Here’s the progression:

We immediately put the matter behind us. Easy to do since he still hasn’t noticed anything different about my face or the fact that he had anything to do with it.

My Little Ike Turner

My Little Ike Turner

4th of July Crafts for people who can’t cut or draw

DIY Rocket out of toilet paper rolls

DIY Rocket out of toilet paper rolls

If I had a crafting blog it would be called, “Crafts for people who can’t cut or draw”. I can’t do either of those things. People assume they can’t craft if they aren’t good at those two things, but oh no no no. There are so many crafts that involve so little artistic skill. It’s usually nothing more than patience and the knowledge that it doesn’t really matter. That being said, crafters who are good at those two things, make much better crafts than me. But it’s not a competition. Is it people?
So, for the fourth, I pinned a ton of awesome crafts for the boys and me to do. We have already done several of these little rockets out of toilet paper rolls. Tomorrow we are gonna make the kind that you can pull a string and confetti falls out. I call those “fire crackers” for some reason. These crafts are made for people who can’t cut or draw. Just look at my horribly hand cut circle. IMG_3262Tragic. It doesn’t matter. The tutorial was very easy (note we did not paint ours. We opted for using origami paper instead.) There were several things the boys could do on their own with this. Carter cut the tissue paper (for the fire cracker) in a square and he threaded the twine through the interior circle. Henry threaded the twine through the punched holes at the top of the rocket – which is a great fine motor skill exercise for him. He really concentrated and went through a lot of trial and error to get it right. I love to see my kids get it wrong and keep trying until they get it right. They also glued (read: glue sticked) the paper to the tp rolls, used the circle cutter (with my help) for the tops of the rockets and decorated the rockets all by themselves. Seriously – I didn’t do any of those Thomas stickers!
Here are some other quick and easy crafts for the fourth. Proficiency in cutting/drawing, not required.
This rocket ship is pretty easy even though all the directions are in Arabic (I think?). I speak the language of “craft” so that was no problem. Plus she took good photos so I could easily follow. Apparently in Arab speaking countries they don’t use a lot of tape. I don’t know why. I used tape for this whole thing. No glue at all. Arabic crafters be cray cray with their glue and shizz. This is for a child over 4.
Paint dots American Flag If you have children 3 and under and you don’t have paint dots. Stop reading now. Go to Michaels and get some. They are so easy. So not messy and never run out of paint! Plus you can make this super easy, super fun American Flag. The tutorial has a free printable!!
Construction paper American Flag. Henry is obsessed with American flags. It’s pretty cute. He points them out every time he sees them, which is a lot these days. He loves to cut, but cutting the full length of the paper seems beyond his skill set. Still I think he will enjoy this one.

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