Leave a comment

Leo’s 2nd Birthday – Circus Party!

Circus Birthday Party Table

Earlier this month we hosted Leo’s 2nd Birthday party at our house. We kept it small, yet festive, so as not to overwhelm the birthday boy. Luckily, the morning was sunny and perfect. We were able to throw open the french doors to the backyard and let kids and parents wander and play where they liked.

Circus Party Themed Plates and Napkins, Tablewarecircus party kids tent gigatent

sand table

I learned from Chloe’s 3rd birthday to not have too many activities planned, to let things flow a little more naturally. We had plenty of yard toys (sand and water table, beach balls, kiddie pool, push toys, bikes, etc) available, and plenty of seating for the grown-ups. Inside we set up the GigaTent Play Tent (that I bought last year for a steal on Craigslist!) along with more toys. Mostly it was open play, but toward the end we gathered everyone together for a circus-revised game of Bingo for both the kids and adults (original free download here), as well as Pin the Nose on the Clown that I got at the party store. I had grand plans of twisting up balloon animals (see my practice butterfly and poodle) and face-painting, but that never quite materialized. Turns out its hard to host a party and provide the entertainment at the same time!

Birthday boy cupcake

Circus Party Cupcakes

Overall it was a grand time. I was really surprised at how Leo sat and smiled at everyone while we sang him “Happy Birthday.” So cute! He wasn’t at all as overwhelmed as I thought he’d be. Looking back, it may be because we were at our home and not out somewhere else, or perhaps he just sensed that something special was afoot. Also, because of an attendee’s allergy, the vanilla cupcakes were egg-free (using this recipe), topped with cream cheese frosting. The only photo I have of the goody bags is this one. I was so proud of them, but forgot to take another photo!

circus masks

Pin the Nose on the Clown, Circus Party Game

One question I got a lot was about the canopy above the food table – it’s our Ikea Mysig Bed Canopy (only $10!) that I blogged about here. It fit perfectly over our Ikea sewing table -turned-food table.

One parent described our house as “IKEA fresh,” and I was really pleased to hear that. I do love me some Ikea, and why not, when everything is so budget-friendly and easily re-purposed in many ways?

 


1 Comment

Preschool & Toddler Activities

Chasing bubbles in the back yard

It is not even summer break, yet I already feel like I’m having a hard time keeping the kids busy. On one hand there’s the advice that says it is good for kids to be bored, because it forces them to be creative with the tools (or toys) they have access to. On the other hand, I’ve also read that boredom actually puts a lot of stress on a young brain, which science has shown to be unhealthy. All I know is when the kids are bored, they make this mama C.R.A.Z.Y.!

Since Leo’s second birthday is coming up in a couple weeks (and since my parents want me to buy Leo’s gifts for them), I have been happily researching some new games and activities I think would keep him occupied he would like. I’ve given him one gift a bit early, the Design and Drill Tool Kitby Educational Insights. He took to it like fish to water. Anything with pieces and moving parts is fascinating to him. It’s the smaller of the three sets, but I wanted to give it a try first. I’m poised to buy more bolts and an extra drill so his sister can join him. I love to have them working on a project together. The other sets come with pattern sheets that older kids can follow.

Speaking of patterns, Chloe is definitely aware of them in both shapes and colors. Here are a couple of her creations from just this past week. These were projects she designed completely on her own. All I got was a “Mom, come look what I made!” at the end. Plus, I’ve got to hand it to her, she takes Leo’s interference a lot better than I would if I was trying to concentrate on a creative project. I usually try to give them a little time to work it out (like with the colored plastic blocks), but if Leo cannot control himself from knocking down her buildings down over and over (like the wooden ones today), then I will remove him and give her some peace to work.

We also do a lot of arts-and-crafts type projects. Here was a project from yesterday, where the kids drew on popsicle sticks and I helped lash them together with tape (the classic “raft of popsicle sticks” project). It kept them both busy for a short time, and we did an “experiment” at the end to see if they would sink or float. However, Chloe was not happy to have the colors in her raft began to wash away. Whoops. I forgot that they were washable markers (the only kind I’ll let her brother near). By the way, Chloe told me that picture was of her and me that she drew on the sail.

And sometimes, I just throw my hands up in the air while saying “Whatever!” and go pull out something I’ve been saving – like these animal masks that I ordered for Leo’s upcoming party. Part of me wants the kids to be surprised, but part of me also knows that it wouldn’t hurt for them to get played with a little before the big day. It was surprisingly fun! We made silly faces in the bathroom mirror, trying on the different animals and finally I had to run and get my phone so I could take a couple pictures. This is the face of a child happily engaged in the activity she is doing at the moment. A photo worth a thousand words to this mommy!

 


1 Comment

Halloween Pumpkins

Years ago, before we bought our house, we lived in a townhouse complex that had a pumpkin carving contest every year. David made an AWESOME pumpkin (like the one above in the lower right corner) by drilling holes and filling them with a string of electric lights (a la Martha Stewart “celestial” pumpkins). That year he won a $15 Starbucks gift card.

Just like last year, Chloe loves to spot pumpkins, and this year she knows what a jack o’lantern is, too. We are actually going to carve our pumpkins tonight, after dinner. Here are some images that I find inspirational this year:


Pretty Pumpkin


Lantern pumpkins


Skull jack-o’-lantern

 


4 Comments

More kid art recipes & ideas

Homemade Finger Paint Recipe from Easie Peasie

Shaving Cream Bathtub Paint from Having Fun at Home

Sponge-soaked finger paints for less mess from Baballa

Making Pretend Make-up from Nail Polish from Not So Idle Hands

Cornstarch Sidewalk Paint Recipe from Pink and Green Mama

All finds thanks to the lovely eye-candy that is Pinterest.


3 Comments

Musings :: Kid’s Bathroom


This kid’s bath kicks butt!

The hall bathroom in our new addition will also be the kid’s bathroom. Originally, I thought we’d save money by choosing plain white wall tile, whatever bargain basement floor tile we could find, and just try to spruce it up with paint. After all, it is the room most likely to be trashed by little hands (and later teenagers) right? Well, maybe not, according to David. He made a good point that it will also be the bathroom most used by the household, including guests, so why not make it the nice bathroom and our master the cheap bathroom?

So then I went back to the drawing board in my mind, and I think I’ve had some better ideas after thinking it through.

First of all, the one thing we’ve been able to agree on is the white IKEA Godmorgon/Odensvik sink (similar to below). For the kid’s bath, we’ll get the less-expensive single sink version (I thought the double version at first, but David thinks it is unlikely that the kids will be using the bathroom at the same time once they get older since they will be boy & girl). Besides being both budget-friendly and modern looking, the other thing I like is that the kids will be able to push their step stools underneath the sink when not in use.

By keeping the tile and fixtures white, a lot of fun can be had with paint color. Maybe a bright blue or green, or perhaps the addition of a wall decal to liven things up. In this way, it would be nice enough for adults, but also fun for the kids.

Now lets just imagine… for example, right now Chloe loves owls. Although spendy, I found that Target currently carries really cute Owl bathroom accessories. Aren’t they adorable?


Awesome Owls Bath Coordinates Collections

Awesome Owls 3pc Towel Set

Hoot Bath Coordinates Collections – Tan

And after a quick search for wall decals I found this Owl on Tree wall decal on Etsy which can be custom colored and then tie every thing together. Can you imagine what a cool bathroom it could be? So many possibilities. The hard part is limiting to items that will fit our budget, but it sure is fun to imagine! 🙂


Owl on Tree – 090 – Vinyl Sticker Wall Decal on Etsy


5 Comments

Musings :: Master Bathroom

I’ve been looking at a lot of bathroom photos lately, now that ours will soon be torn out. Some of these photos just blow me away with their beauty and style. Although the luxe options shown here are way out of our price range, the challenge is figuring out why they look so good, and if it is possible to glean some of their magic with more widely-available and affordable options. For example, I’ve noticed I tend to like the contrast of dark brown and white. I also like glass tile, especially in aqua and other shades of blues and greys. I think bathrooms are one of those rooms that can stand a little drama, especially now that we’ll have more than one.

And here are some important lessons I learned when we remodeled our existing bathroom 5 years ago:

1) Although I like the look, using 1×1 floor tiles and 2×2 wall tile leaves A LOT of grout to clean. Not making that mistake again.

2) In order to save money, we didn’t do any accents. The walls are white and the floor is gray. We call it “classic,” but it really just looks kinda plain.

3) Our current bath faucet doesn’t let us adjust for pressure, just on and off. We ended up buying a special bath toy so Chloe could play with a small steady drip of water in the bathtub and not a loud deluge.

4) We left the old ugly tub because it would have cost a fortune to replace (we’d have to rip out the exterior wall just to get it out). Since then I have always lamented not replacing that yucky thing. The effect of the remodel was ruined by how worn that tub was. It will be a relief when it is finally gone!


For fun, I priced the Heath Ceramic Oval tiles (shown above) at Ann Sacks – $75 per sq foot, meaning that the dark blue tile must have cost over $4000 alone, not including installation. OMG!


This vertical blue accent is striking. We’re going to do something like it in our shower, aligned with the showerhead and faucet. Maybe blue glass?

Feldman Architecture modern bathroom
We have gray glass tiles similar to this as our backsplash in the kitchen. Unfortunately they are on the wall that will be ripped away to open the kitchen into the new dining area. Oh well.


Sorry, I don’t have links to every photo – I didn’t collect them originally with the intention of sharing, but I did go back and find links for some.



8 Comments

Giving a boost to baby art

Chloe had her first finger-painting session last month, shortly before David’s birthday. I warmed up the kitchen, sat Chloe in her high-chair wearing only a diaper, and taped a sheet of paper down to her tray. A few globs of finger-paint in various colors were applied to the tray surface and directly onto the paper. She didn’t get it at first, and I was glad she had eaten recently or I would have been wiping a lot more paint from her mouth. By the end there was quite a mess, but several sheets of “drawings”.

From this:

To this:

To help her make a card, I used an exacto blade to cut out a fish pattern (her dad’s favorite sport) on cardstock before placing a piece of Chloe’s artwork behind it. Voila! Instant birthday card from Daddy’s special little girl. We also made a similar piece of art for Chloe’s Grandpa Feldkamp for Christmas, but I forgot to take a picture of it. Instead of lots of little fish the cut-out consisted of two more-detailed trout silhouettes.

A while back I came across a really good post on displaying baby and child artwork, but now I can’t find it. However, a quick “What to do with kid art” search pulled these other interesting display ideas from Tiny Decor, CookieMag, Real Simple and Parents.

P.S. I used cardstock for the paintings because the non-toxic kids paint can soak through thin paper pretty easily, causing possible tearing if baby tries to pull at the edges. Despite the heavier paper, they still wrinkled while drying so I placed them under some heavy books after they were completely dry to flatten them back down.


5 Comments

Party!

As you can see from the photos, Chloe’s first birthday party was quite an occasion! The partygoers included Chloe’s friends Lorenzo and Ava. Besides the toys, the toddlers enjoyed a baby snack bar of peach and strawberry yogurt melts (to match the orange and pink theme, naturellement!), apple puffs, and animal crackers, and for the adults we had a gourmet cheese plate including my new favorite bucheron. We also hung crepe paper streamers in a doorway which I thought would only survive a few minutes, but instead actually stayed intact the entire time. Maybe the rip-and-destroy technique is more for the two-to-three year-olds? It was a lot of fun watching them plow through and laugh, and having the paper fluttering out behind.

Chloe’s cupcakes were tahitian vanilla bean with cream cheese frosting and meringue toppers. I even tried spelling out her name with some success. Despite my fears, she didn’t get sick from eating/playing with her cupcake, although it probably helped that most of it fell to the floor after a short time. And, thanks to the ‘net, we also took advantage of this free birthday hat download (see top photo) and a tutorial on how to make-your-own scratch-its so we could give out party prizes/favors (who thought that adding dish soap to metallic paint could be so fun?!).

I keep going around in my head how Chloe won’t have a single memory of this important event. But, of course, David and I will. Perhaps someday she will look back at photos of her childhood and see how much fun she had. But most of all, I’ll just want her to know how much she means to us, and that she is wholly and truly loved.


1 Comment

Easy Halloween Fun on a Mac

inverted mac screenshot

Want to have a little fun by dressing up your mac in orange and black for Halloween (and giving your co-workers and boss a good scare in the process)? Here’s how:

1. Click on System Preferences in your dashboard (the silver rectangle icon with the apple logo on the right and a light switch on the left).

2. Click on Universal Access, shown near the bottom right corner, in the “System” catagory.

3. Now click the radio button for White on Black under the “Display” catagory.

This will automatically “invert” the colors on your screen. For example, anything that was once white, will now be black. If you want to change your desktop color to invert to orange, like the picture above, you have to start with a blue background (because blue inverts to orange).

To do this go to “System Preferences” and choose “Desktop & Screen Saver” near the top under the Personal catagory. Then choose any blue background under “Apple Images.” Repeat the steps above to “invert” and then show off your spooky computer.

To change back, simply click again on the “Black on White” radio button under Universal Access.


7 Comments

Unique & Funky Halloween Candy Alternatives

eye balls bowl
Last year we did not give out candy for Halloween. Instead we found a package of 80 mini play-dohs in a variety of colors at our local Costco. It was nice to give out something different for a change, and the neighborhood kids were really excited to be getting items other than the same old traditional candy.

This year I was hoping to find another interesting, yet affordable alternative. If only I had stocked up during some of the back-to-school sales this fall! There were bins filled with fun pencils, erasers, mini-notebooks, crayons, and stickers for cheap. Now, they’re no where to be had. Party store favors would be a good place to check – a flyer that came today featured a 60ct bag of plastic spider rings for 99¢ (although these might be a possible choking hazard). And Target sells this pack of 24ct party bubbles for $3.99.

party bubbles

play-doh

eye balls candy

Anyway, today at Costco, I decided to revert to candy. Despite this post, I’m not against candy. I’m just against the boring, uninspired kind. For $8.99 comes this pack of 90ct individually wrapped Absolute Sweet “Eye Ballzz” gummy candy. Aren’t they so funky and gross? David tried one, and yes, they’re edible. I don’t know how many parents will actually let their kids eat them, but I’m sure the kids will get a kick out of getting them!

Meanwhile, for those of you who would truly like to give candy alternatives, here is a list compiled from nationalserviceresources.org and palmettohealth.org.

  • Temporary tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Pencils
  • Fancy erasers
  • Pencil toppers
  • Crayons
  • Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
  • Small novelty toys
  • False teeth
  • Superballs
  • “Slime”
  • Miniature magnifying glasses
  • Plastic jewelry/decoder rings
  • Necklaces
  • Glow-sticks
  • Sugar-free candy
  • Tiny decks of cards
  • Plastic medals
  • Fake money
  • Origami paper & instructions
  • Bubbles
  • Granola bars
  • pretzels
  • cheese and cracker packs
  • sugar free gum
  • packets of instant hot chocolate or cider
  • miniature raisin boxes
  • single serving nut packets
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...