Tuesday, June 23, 2015

birthday cheats- permission granted

I'm not that mom anymore.  I'm not the mom throwing the beautiful detailed birthday party.  My thank you notes and invitations are not handmade,  the food is not themed, the setting is not carefully prepared.  Oh, I've done those parties, I've put in the hours.  Nope, that mom got tired and went to bed a long time ago.  

I got interviewed late this winter for a magazine (which has yet to publish my piece and at this point in the summer, they might as well not- so I hadn't said anything here) about throwing great birthday parties for kids.  They wanted to talk about the cake decorating party for Bee and the camping party for Lou.  I talked.  I went on and on.  Weeks later, I wished I could have had that conversation again.  I might have mentioned that there's no reason to put quiet that much stress on yourself, no reason you feel like you have to throw a pinterst worthy party, no reason to feel like your three year old will find you negligent if you don't spend hours hand-making the personalized favors.  The neighbors won't judge you, your guests wont snicker.   Forget it, just book the pizza place in town- let them handle the clean up.

I'm taking the easier route now.  For Lou's party this year, I texted out the invites, we pretty much repeated what we did last year (simple cook out, swim, outdoor movie).  We invited 4 guests and their families.  He wants to hang out with the kids, I want to gab with the moms and hold their babies and Hubby wants to sit back and enjoy some chat with the dads.  Win win.  I even texted back the thank yous!   There's too much pressure on birthday parties. Too much unnecessary stress.  I'm all about the easy, enjoy the day, enjoy your friends, eat some treats, chill out kind of parties now. 

Maybe it's that my kids are getting older and don't care about the cutesy things I used to do, or the fact that Bee just wants to have friends over for delivery pizza and a movie and couldn't care if I have carefully thought out favors and projects for the girls to do.  Nope, they want Taylor Swift on the radio and the parents to hide upstairs so her friends don't feel silly dancing in front of their teacher.  Check and check.  Can do. 

So anyway, all that to say- we texted Lou's thank you notes this year and I don't think a single person wrote to Dear Abby about my manners.  In fact, one of the mama's replied immediately, saying "show me how to do that.. I want to make those for my son's party too."  Also, I ran into one of his guests mamas at Target and she was buying store bought invites- she said she was over it all too.  

So, here's what we did.  Lou did some of  the work, this year Bee will be asked to make hers by herself.  I used a photo editing app called Aviary.  It''s free and wonderful and I love it.  I took pictures of Lou enjoying his gift or spending his gift card.  I edited it appropriately through the app and then used the apps "meme" feature to add simple lines of text.  Then we sent them out right from the app.    

came up with the pose, checked the picture before approval, and told me what words to write.   I had to help him shorten his words- lets cal that a lesson in summarizing.  It's a third grade state standard.  Another win?

I let it go... all those little details, all the fuss.  I'm so glad I did.  So if you are needing permission to let it go- permission granted.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

bridal shower day!

The day finally arrived!  Bridal shower day!  That was the day I was in charge of, so it has been more on my radar than the wedding itself. 

In case you missed it, my little sister got engaged.   

And then had these amazing photos taken.   

So, I traveled five hours with a beautiful cake on my lap.  The only reason it made it in one piece is because it was gluten free and specially made for sister.  Seriously though, the AC was blowing that buttercream icing smell right to me. 

Here's the soon-to-be wedding party: L to R-  her fiance's brother's girlfriend, her college friend and colleague, me, my sister the bride, her fiance's step sister, our youngest sister, and her fiance's sister.  

Here's Bee, me, my sister, and our mom.  Ok, now the introductions are over.  

We had the shower at the Country Club, where they are having the wedding reception.  I had two other venues that were my first and second choice, but to stay in my budget I needed to have it there.  In retrospect, it was perfect, I didn't have to worry about a thing, the food was taken care of, clean up, set up, it was a great choice. 

He played a few games first.  We played He Said, She Said.  We learned that her fiance has a secrete liking of vampire TV shows and that she has a skill of napping anytime, anywhere, among other things.  

We played a game just for her where she said what she thought George might have answered to some questions I asked him.  She did not know that he knew he wanted to marry to her when they were on a cruise 2 years ago.  She also didn't guess what he thought their best date was.  She guessed a hot air balloon ride.  He said it was their first date when he returned from living out of state.  They lead much more exciting lives than me... hot air balloon rides and cruises! 

The last game we played was called over/under and frankly I would have renamed it, it was confusing to a few guest.  I read a question that had a number answer and then said the answer, however, my answer was incorrect.  The guests needed to say if the correct answer was high or lower than the number I said.  For example.  I said, "The number of times Christina has been in a wedding party was 4".  Hopefully the guests said "over" because the real answer was over my answer.  She's apparently been in 6 wedding parties.  

We also learned she's been to 26 + concerts and was 12 in the below photo.  

There were prizes for the guests and prizes for the bride.   I bought all the guest prizes as this little shop in town that brings in handmade goods from a partner shop in Africa that employees ladies with HIV who are trying to support their families.  A friend from my cooking club is on the board.  I'm not sure everyone got it... but that's ok.  Maybe they read the cards that explained it when they got home.  

These large pieces traveled with us too, much to my poor hubby's dislike.  I pulled the kid art of the old screen door and hung up some of their lovely engagement photos and other favorite pics.  I also grabbed my easel from school and brought it. 

I was really excited about our food.  We had a yogurt parfait bar.

I had wanted to put the picture display behind the food, but when we got there, the food tables were set up in front of a sitting booth.  I couldn't put the pictures there and wished I had brought flowers.  The table was plain, but we weren't facing that direction much. 

The cake was enjoyed by the gluten free eating friends.  (Bee made those wedding gnomes)

The rest of us enjoyed these gluten filled desserts.  I had purchased some cute little brown craft boxes for the desserts to go in, but when I looked at the desserts before the shower, I decided they were prettier on the plate.  I will save the boxes and use them at another event.   Lemon bars, brownie, and cheesecake bites.  YUM.  I ate all the extra lemon bars!

Her friends were so generous!  There were more gifts than would fit on the table!

She got so many lovely things from her registry and some that weren't on the list but will be enjoyed as much. 

One of the guests helped out by putting together the bow bouquet while I set up for the next activities. 

I made these thank you notes in Word and printed them on card stock.  I think they were super cute and had fun making them. 

After presents, there were two activities.  In the invites, I asked the guests to bring a favorite recipe or two to add to a scrapbook style cook book.  

I just laid out scrapbook paper, fun scissors, glue, pens, and food related stickers and let them work. 

They turned out so nice.  Some guests that could not attend sent in their recipes.  There was one super sweet recipe that made everyone tear up.  My sister's fiance lost his mom to cancer when he was young.  His stepmom was so sweet and included a handwritten recipe from his mom's cookbook.  Christina showed him after the shower and he immediately recognized the handwriting.  Oh my, it makes me want to hand write everything from now on.  

Not so sentimental, was the guest's favors.  They made their own!  They made sugar scrub. 

I had set out white and brown sugar, olive and coconut oil, a few different essential oils (lavender, lemon,  peppermint, and vanilla), and a few add ins (lemon zest, vanilla beans, lavender, and rose petals).

Then the guests decorated their jars and got to take them home.  I stood by to explain and give directions.  

It's really easy to make.  Here are the directions I gave:  Fill up your jar with whatever combination of sugars you want.  Then dump the sugar into a bowl.  Slowly add whatever combination of oils you want until it gets to a nice consistency.  It needs to be all moistened and able to stick together, but not be slushy.  Then add your choice of oils and add ins. Then, just spoon it back into the jar.  I forgot the coloring, but at home, Bee and I made these samples.  

We made a candy cane, lemon, warm vanilla, and a lavender tea tree oil which we'll have to give as gifts now. 

What were the boys doing while we had all this girly fun?  Yard work.  Goerge is in the background trimming branches and Lou was picking them all up and hauling them to a pile. He earned $10! I told George he was going to ruin our home economy.  Extra jobs at our house pay 25-50 cents and never more than $1 per hour for hard labor.  Geesh- I'd go broke paying out $10 a pop.  Hubby mowed the yard.  I don't think he was paid- we should send a bill.  

After everyone was rested from the afternoon shower, there was a bachelorette dinner.

Afterward, the young gals went out and the old ladies went home.  I thought I could go out with the young girls, but ended up home before the kids were in bed!  

The best news is that I have another little sister and so maybe I'll get to do this all again in a few years.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

while I'm posting

I'm up way too early and can't get back to sleep.  The kids and I have been going through old photo albums this week looking for a few funny pictures of my sister to use at her wedding shower  for a game, and it's made me go back to my blog and look at old photos there too.  Bee and I looked together  too the other day for over an hour.  It made me think this morning about my blog and needing to be a little better about documenting things here, because the kids will be able to look back on it.  I used to write about all the little details of our day and funny stories from the kids and all the little conversations that I've sort of forgotten about.  Then I got busy with school and such... and haven't. 

So on that note, I totally forgot to mention that Bee played soccer this year.   (she's in the blue shorts below)

(Bee is bottom left)

She gained some skill since last year and her team even won a few games this year!

It's so fun playing on our school league, she knows all the players on both teams and I know most of the moms on the sidelines!  It's enjoyable for all of us.  

Two of the moms on our team took a bunch of photos throughout the season and shared them freely.  I loved it because I didn't have to take my camera and go through tons of pictures at the end of the day.  I just hopped on facebook after a game and chose the ones I liked!

Unfortunately, Lou's soccer team did not have photographer moms and I have zero pictures of him or his team.  He even had to miss picture day because of a baseball game and we don't even have that picture this year.  Two sports in one season for him was too much for us!

Some of her teammates were students in my class this year so that was fun too. 

speaking of celebrating...

Speaking of celebrating, this weekend, we get to celebrating this lovely lady.  

My sister's wedding is quickly approaching, and this weekend we get to celebrate her at a bridal shower. 

I'm just in love with their engagement photos, done by Erika Aileen out of the Lafayette area.   These photos were all taken out at their farm.    

This wasn't really a thing when hubby and I got engaged, we went to JCPennys and had one photo taken for the newspaper. Now it's a whole thing.  Kinda jealous. 

I love this woods photo because I think someday when there's a third person to include in their family photos, it will be cute to add them right in a recreated shot.  

I'm super excited for the wedding photos since they'll be done by the same gal and selfishly because my peeps will be included.  

Yep, pretty sure that's better than JCP studio, just saying. 

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