Monday, February 23, 2015

Minions Know How to Party!

My son has been into minions for quite a while now (I think he saw part of the movie at a friends house, and then started asking to rent it from Redbox) so after being given several options for a do-able birthday party in snowy February, he decided on having a movie party featuring Despicable Me.  Which was kind of great because that movie has been around for a while that there are a ton of ideas out there already and it was fairly easy to put together.  Frankly, themed birthday parties are one of those things I never wanted to do as a parent, but I had to admit it turned out really cute.  And sometimes those things I vowed against five years ago just end up happening.

Theo doesn't really have a lot of favorite friends at school, but will pretty much play with everyone so we went ahead and invited the whole class and were glad for the ones who could come.  He kept saying he wanted to take cupcakes to anyone who couldn't make it, but I convinced him that we would send rice krispie treats to school instead (since the cupcakes had a tiny piece of peanut butter for the iris).  We even got to invite a few last minute church friends when they ended up calling a too-cold-to-go-to-school day, which meant the kids in our town went to school for one day the entire week.  And it was a two-hour delay.  Don't get me started on that though.

My husband used some table cloths, construction paper, and foil to make a door minion.  Cutest thing ever, and I can't get myself to take it down.

Balloons, crate paper, and this simple minion centerpiece rounded out the decorations.

After watching the movie, and again after eating lunch, we played a few games.

I used a few pieces of felt to sew together Gru's scarf so we could play "Gru Says" (like Simon Says).  We told the rest of the kids to act like Minions, and whoever was wearing the scarf got to be Gru.  In my experience, kids at this age can't get enough of this game.
 The most popular game though was set up like a carnival game in the movie.  We placed a print-off of a spaceship (from here) that we put a stiff backing and a toilet paper roll weighted with quarters to hold it upright on top of a stack of cups.  The kids had three chances to knock over the space ship with a birdie.

I didn't get a full size minion put together, but impromptly had Brian draw a large minion on our chalkboard and used it to play pin the goggles on the Minion.  Always a fun game with little ones.

Photo Op:  The kids enjoyed posing in the "box of shame".

Food:  I kept it simple here, and just did pizza, carrots, and strawberries.  And juice boxes.  But there are some really great minion themed food out there.  We did make these bags to serve popcorn out of during the movie.

 Favor Bags:  I had a little too much fun putting these together, but I have always had a giving love language.  We paired a minion bracelet bead kit, some runts (minions love bananas, if you didn't know), a glow stick, Despicable Me fruit snacks, and slinky in a cute bag.  I used this site to print off the eyes and g's that I used in most of the crafts.

Cake:  I looked at so many designs on pinterest, but thought this one was the most do-able for us.  I made them all on my own, and thought they turned out pretty good (though half the kids just ate the frosting and marshmallows off the top).

For his full-size birthday cake, to have on his actual birthday, Brian didn't need any of my pinterest finds, as he made this on his own.  It was too precious, and Theo was very excited for his minion cake.

 And, there you have it.  Our simple version of a minion party, that was just what my five year old wanted (or so he stated, several times).
Other helpful links:
Popcorn Boxes
Thank You Cards

Or check-out my pinterest board

Theo at Five

So I'm wondering when I'll stop doing these updates.  My oldest is five!  Which means that after I update it soon, there will be very little blank space left in his baby book (first school days, I'm saving for kindergarten, though I could fill the page using pre-school information).  It actually makes me sad to think I'll close his book soon and won't open it up anymore except maybe to compare his crazy weight and height statistics to other kids.  Speaking of which, he's definitely the tallest and most solid kid in his class (despite being a good half year younger than some), and is up to about 44 inches tall and wears size 1 shoes.

At five, Theo is definitely a routine based kid.  Every morning he gets up on his own (though he seems to be sleeping in more and more lately), asks what kind of day it is (school, day off, church, or delay or snow day)  gets dressed on his own (I hope he's not in all orange each time I hear him come down the steps), watches Wild Kratts, and then makes toast for breakfast. Most days he'll feed the dog too, and then we're off to school.  After school, we normally have lunch and story time (nap time for Eli), and then Theo is free to draw, play duplos, build elaborate train tracks, spend a little time on, or do other art activities without his little brother.  He has always been so good at independent play, that I've never really had to direct him to much in what he does.  But by four or five o'clock he's normally had enough play and starts "exercising", by running in circles.  He definitely does better in the warm weather when he can go to the playground, swim lessons, or soccer and get some energy out.  We're planning to start him in t-ball this spring.  After dinner, he picks out his own pajamas, brushes his teeth (most the time), and then proceeds to figure out how many more stories he can get his dad to read him at bedtime.  He says several prayers at bedtime depending on what's on his mind, and even learned the Lord's Prayer fairly quickly after reciting each night for a couple weeks.

He's really into good guys and bad guys right now.  These are his "falcon claws" he uses to defend himself and Eli.

Theo is a good big brother for the most part, and the boys are finally playing together a lot more than just playing separately.  Eli loves pretty much everything Theo does, and spends a lot of time learning from watching him.  They love bonding over early morning tv shows, movies, and reading train books at bed time.  Theo prayed for a baby sister (or just a baby) for a few months, and was very excited at the doctor's office when he found out there was indeed a baby coming to join our family.  I'm hoping Theodore's personality is not finished evolving yet, because there's still a lot of crying and disobedience there (way more than his "terrible two" brother).  I think it's his way of struggling with independence from me.  And as bad as it is now, I can only imagine how it will be as a teenager.  But there are also a lot of traits we hope he keeps:  he is still very friendly, talkative, and curious.  He is a fierce defender of those he loves.  He shows determination in his focus finishing art projects, lego instructions, or massive duplo creations.  He is proud of his accomplishments.  He is a born leader (or he is just bossy).  And he understands love.

A picture each month he was four.
As he turns five, we look forward to a year learning to read, going off to school on his own, and helping out with a second little sibling.  And hopefully less power struggles with mama.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


I think now that we've had kids, we've actually upped our Valentine's Day celebrating a bit.  It is so much fun helping them make cards, seeing how excited they get about heart shaped cookies/pies/brownies, etc, and hearing about the things they love.  I love sending fancy mail, so mailing out beautiful Valentines with the newest LOVE stamp every year is one of my favorite things (I have limited my stamp collection specifically to love stamps, and can't wait to see the newest one each year). 
Kind of like an elf-on-the-shelf, we had Valentine to keep us company this week.
This year, (as you know if you follow me on instagram) we stretched Valentine's Day into a three-day holiday.  First, Theodore celebrated with all his classmates at their party Thursday.  Theodore was very excited to make his own Ninja Turtle cards that he picked out on pinterest, and was quite a serious worker.  I traced the hearts for him, and cut the edges off the bandanas, but he did the rest.  On the back I wrote "Happy Valentine's Day!" and he signed his name (most correctly).  I also signed up to bring cookies, so of course broke out the cookie cutters and pink tint for heart shaped sugar cookies with sprinkles.  Theodore said they tasted the best because they had so much love in them (can anyone name that Mercer Mayer book?).
Theo did his own chalk art complete with hearts.

On Friday, we actually got to go out alone for I think the second time since moving to Virginia.  Our church offered babysitting so parents could go out, and we were able to leave both of them there with no crying from Eli!  We walked around the outside mall just a bit while waiting for our reservation, and got to explore the sides of Wegman's I never get to see with two kids and a grocery cart.  I am even more in love with that store now than I was before.  Brian couldn't believe my excitement to be exploring a grocery store on our date (we discovered they have Friday night family movies, so we'll probably be back for another family date night soon).  We then had a very tasty dinner at Not Your Average Joe's, and enjoyed splurging on dessert since it is Valentine's after-all.

Saturday, I woke up early (not by choice) and finished the strawberry pie I decided to make this year, (from here), that Theo and Eli helped me prep the day before.  Theo cut all the strawberries, Eli helped cut the crust hearts.
We had that for breakfast (pastry and fruit, that's an okay breakfast, right?), and then spent most of the day in pajamas fielding skype, texts and calls from our parents, grandparents, and siblings as they opened their Valentine's Day card from us (a modification of last year's photo), pictured below. Almost everyone was pretty surprised, and it was fun to share our news finally!

I Made It Second, Homemade Toy Update

I've had several homemade toys/gifts on my pinterest boards for a while, and while hibernating from the wind and chills outside I finally got some finished.  Here are some photos and links for directions for my latest projects:

When we drew our nephew's name for a Christmas exchange, I knew I wanted to include some roads for him to play with.  I've saved jean fabric for years, and these were simple to make by cutting into intersections and curves, sealing with fray check, and then painting yellow lines on.  I first found this idea at Lil Mop Top, here.

I finally got to give away another spinny speller, as Maci turned four.  I still love this one I made Theo last year.  I think at four most kids already know their letters, and are pretty fascinated by their own names, so it can serve as a nice decoration with their name displayed.  And as they get older they can start playing with it more as they are sounding out words.  In case anyone has a Maci in their life, the letter combinations I decided on are:
First cube:  M, P, R, T
Second cube:  A, I, O, U
Third cube:  C, L, N, S
Fourth cube:  E, I, K, T
I found at least 65 common words from these letters (and several uncommon words as well).

For another niece's first birthday, I finally got to use the bottles I've been saving for years to make her some fun discovery bottles (milk bottles from Wendy's work great for this).  I loved these I found at the Imagination Tree here, and was able to make them easily using materials already in my craft room.

Finally, Theo saw this on my pinterest board around Christmas and has been asking me for it ever since.  Last year he helped his dad construct a tool box, and a couple months ago I noticed him sticking all his tools inside the waist band of his pants and knew it was time to make this.  Another great link I found from one of my favorite blogs, Make It and Love It, here.  He's getting it for a birthday gift, and at five he still very much plans to be a builder when he grows up.  He got an early sneak peek of it so I could see if it worked on him.  He thought it would be bigger, but that it was awesome.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Richmond Children's Museum of Fredericksburg

January is a hard month for me.  After all the fun of Christmas and traveling to and from Indiana, we get back and I have a really hard time getting back into a routine.  The main trouble of course is that it becomes to wet and chilly to get out much, so that cancels half of our activities.  Less walking to school.  Fewer playground visits.  And no trips into DC since they involve so much walking normally.  And then add on delays and closings when we don't really need them (still haven't had enough snow to make a snowman) and then I can't even hit the gym in the morning (they close the nursery when school closes).  Grrr.

But we're finally getting back in order.  And we did try one new place last month. When I heard  that the Children's Museum of Richmond is offering $0.15 admission for kids on the 15th of every month this year, we decided to have an impromptu trip to the play-seum after we picked Theo up from school.  We had been to one location on the southern end of our capital city when we were meeting Mariah halfway when she was in NC for her husband's work trip.  (post here) This time we headed to their most northern location near us (brand new) in Fredericksburg.  It was packed due to the special price, but the boys had a lot of fun playing and I can deal with a crowd pretty well at this point.

I won't go into all the exhibits, because it was the pretty standard pre-school museum:  grocery store, dentist office, art section, sand/tiny plastic beads play, crawler area, and lots more.

It was neat seeing their always changing personalities in what they chose to play with.  Though it was very hard to keep my eye on both of them since they often wanted to play in different areas.  It's a pretty open space though, so you can normally triangulate a good viewing position to watch two kids.