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Friday, July 27, 2012

Elsa's tree through the seasons


                        Childhood is the most beautiful of all life's seasons.  
               ~Author Unknown

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Elsa's Rainbow Party

Because of the heat, Elsa's rainbow 1st birthday party evolved into a rainbow water themed party.
I guess that's what happens when you have a summer birthday? I wouldn't know since the rest of our family has Fall/Winter birthdays.

This was our first attempt at keeping guests cool but outdoors where the kids could run and play games - most of which involved water balloons. The little ones liked to reach in the bin and make the balloons wiggle. I opted for full size balloons - none of those flimsy water balloons that hurt your fingers by the time you fill a dozen and pop if you look at them wrong. The ones the girls are standing by are the 'medium' ones from Walmart. The nice ones from Target cost $1.50 a bag for 15-20 balloons but were worth it for the games we played, but I'm getting ahead of myself...first I need to give credit for Elsa's shirt to Little Bit Funky. I changed it up a bit and made the purple a number 1. It was by far the easiest birthday shirt I've made because the majority of the sewing is done before attaching the layers to the t-shirt.  I started and finished in less than one nap time which was really nice since I only had one week to make/shop for/& prep everything for her party.

Her crown was another nap time project using felt I already had on hand. No matter how many felt projects I do, I always seem to have enough felt for one more project from my Pinterest board dedicated to felt. I didn't take photos of the construction process for this one because it's the same sanity saver technique I used when I made these crowns. Like before I used a bobby pin to secure the back together.

Now back to the rainbow party games and activities...

1) fruit loop necklaces using rainbow colored yarn or string.
2) water balloons for water balloon toss, Splat (throw a water balloon up in the air and whoever makes the biggest splat of water is the winner), Squash (sit on a water balloon in a pool to make it pop), & water pinatas
3) wiffle ball for all ages using colored wiffle balls
4) Frozen T-shirt game - My cousin and father-in-law were the brave adults who raced to see who could thaw the frozen shirt enough to put it on first. (stack the folded shirts with a cookie sheet (with sides) in between to keep them from sticking to each other)
5) multiple kiddie pools
6) Rainbow colored toys on blankets in the shade
7) Elsa's vintage Garden Activity Center in rainbow colors on blankets in the shade (wow did I get that for a steal at $20! compared to those prices on Ebay!)
8) Elmo ball toss game
9) The little ones really really liked squishing the ballons
10) Slip-n-slides

Balloons were the only thing I had to buy for the games which made this a very affordable party!

The kids are so busy having fun I doubt they notice the decorations, but I enjoy planning and prepping that part and was pleasantly surprised at how much I could incorporate from what we already had at home. The fabric garland is from when I made the girls rainbow headbands for our St. Patrick's Day gathering. The photo display uses clothes pins with each of the 12 months written on them and strung along Julia's lemonade stand that Grandpa built using colored yarn I found at a garage sale for 50 cents. (We turned the lemonade sign around so it would be plain for the party.)

Since I knew I wanted to do a rainbow party months ago I purposely planted annuals to match the theme. I also watched the dollar section at Target for rainbow colored items over the past few months. A rainbow party is the perfect 1st birthday theme because it helps build up party supplies for future parties.

On a table near the porch I had a number of things for the guests to look at. I set out a jar of Mike & Ike's for guests to guess how many were in there based off of this pin. I had her baby book out and yes, the red colored cover was planned. Each year when I make her Alphabitty Moment book I will work my way through the rainbow so that she'll have a beautiful display of books when she's older. I also set out Elsa's journal with rainbow colored pens so they could write a note to her as well as some blocks and a Sharpie for more birthday messages.

I printed pictures at Walgreens for the photo banner. It was fun to look back through all the months of pictures and pick out ones that represented her at that time. (I noticed after I made this collage that months 1 and 2 are mixed up. oops!)

I found lots of inspiration online for treats and sweets for a rainbow themed party but we wanted to serve a meal, not 10 different kinds of rainbow candy. It was so hot out that we served snacks and drinks right away and then after while we brought out a meat and cheese platter so guests could make sandwiches.




Rainbow Snacks:
Rainbow Goldfish crackers
Chocolate covered pretzels with rainbow sprinkles
Orange, Blue, & Green Tortilla chips made by Nana Cocina served with our homemade salsa, green guacamole dip, and yummy Skotidakis Jalapeno Greek Yogurt Dip (from Cosco)

Drinks - Beer, juice boxes, and Gatorade in many colors of the rainbow.

Main Meal for Rainbow Party:
Sandwich platter with plates of tomatoes, lettuce, & onion.
Fruit Kabobs
Rainbow Veggie Tray (ours is missing the cauliflower cloud)

Treats:
Fun Pops
Oreo Pops*
Rainbow Cupcakes**
Fruit Cake - I didn't get this made in time but I wanted to include the link because I think it's a great idea!

*You don't have to take the Oreo's apart like the website says. In fact, I wouldn't recommend it. If there is even the slightest crack in the cookie they fall apart when you dip them in chocolate. We dunked the cracked ones in chocolate anyway and then stuck the sucker stick in after they hardened. If you can find them the cookies and cream Oreos were super tasty!

**These were the cutest and easiest cupcakes ever! Our gas station sells the candy - no need to run all over town looking for the Airheads Rainbow Candy after all! I bought a can of white frosting for easy clouds. The blue frosting even came that way, making the whole process a breeze! If you don't have a container to keep the cupcakes fresh check with your local grocery store bakery to see if they'll sell you a cake box. Ours sold me cupcake holders for $1 a piece!

The obligatory cake shot - she didn't disappoint! What isn't pictured is her falling face first off her chair while I held the cupcake and my camera. Where's the video camera when you need it! She had more fun making a mess than eating which was fine by me - remember, I was planning a FRUIT cake!


Elsa opened her gifts while guests ate dinner to keep things moving along. She was so funny about wanting to sit ON them.



We had asked guests to wear their favorite color of the rainbow but I neglected to have them line up in color order. Oh well...I'm just glad we have a picture with lots of the people we love!


Speaking of love....I just love watching these three girls interact. There is never a dull moment with them around!

And that folks, is the end of the rainbow!



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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Party, Pool, & Pictures

It was HOT and HUMID for Elsa's birthday party yesterday but we had three pools, a slip n slide, lots of water balloons, frozen t-shirts, & lots of cold drinks to keep everyone as cool as possible. I have tons of photos of the Rainbow Party but this is the only one I have ready for tonight.

The three youngest on both sides of our family - until mid August when Josie becomes a big sister. I found these rainbow shirts at Once Upon a Child months ago. It was fun to see the girls together with them on. We really need to start video taping them when we put them on the white bench because they are a hoot! I hope to get more birthday photos up later this week...

Before we deflated Josie's pool that we borrowed for the party my kids spent an hour splashing in the warm water late this afternoon. The light was so pretty and who knew what a nice background a plastic pool could be!? Now that her party is behind her - Elsa is SOOOOO BIG!
I finally managed to get a clear shot of Julia's freckles....The same amount I had at her age.
And then there is Sam. Missing teeth, being silly, but loving life and his sisters. I cannot get enough of his deep blue eyes in this one!

It didn't seem right to put in the title of this post - but there's one more 'p' word to add to our weekend - pooped!  It has been non-stop activity for a solid month. Thank goodness our family reunion is 1/2 mile away next weekend because I'm wiped out! Which means I should wrap this up and get some sleep!  Goodnight!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Preschool Graduation Garden Party

This post has sat in my drafts all summer. I figured if I didn't get it posted tonight before we throw Elsa a party tomorrow this one might never see the light of day.
 
Julia finished up her second year of preschool on May 21st with a sweet graduation ceremony and then we went home to enjoy the beautiful day outside with family and friends. Julia loved preschool and is really going to miss seeing her teachers. She loved learning, singing, playing, and making whatever project they had planned for the day. I am so proud of her and the young lady she's growing up to be. She has a heart for others and is SO generous with her time and talents. In one of the photos below she's cutting flowers to give away. It's what she does and I love that about her.

The weather could not have been more perfect. We have lived here for four years but it wasn't until I was scouting out where to put the tables that I realized that the pine trees made the perfect alcove for the kids' table. Julie was the inspiration behind the garlands that I made using 25 cent vintage bed sheets. She was also the one who recommended getting a rotary cutter. My crafting life will never be the same.


The punch was the easiest and tastiest I've ever made:

6 ozs orange juice (frozen)
6 ozs lemonade (frozen)
6 ozs limeade
2 liters ginger ale
4 cups cold water
 

Tea sets from estate sales, Target dollar aisle votive holders and paper lanterns, fresh cut flowers from our flower beds, & a simple buffet of Maple sausage balls, quiche, fruit, lemon bites, & mini cinnamon rolls set the scene for a special brunch for my special graduate.  I'll be the first to admit it was over the top fancy for a preschool graduation but those garage sale finds really make it cheap. I paid less than $30 for all the decorations and dishes. It really helped that we had so many flowers blooming in our yard at the time.
Congrats Julia! We are so proud of you!!!

Love,
 Mama



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Monday, July 16, 2012

Precious Gift

Little girls are precious gifts, wrapped in love serene. 
Their dresses tied with sashes and futures tied with dreams. 
-author unknown


My dearest Elsa - You really are a precious gift to our family. You may have turned one this month but you will always be my baby. You have the most protective brother and sister who think the world of you. They are your biggest cheerleaders - never wavering in their enthusiasm for having a baby sister. Your face lights up whenever they walk into the room and then the squealing starts. Daddy gets the same treatment and on the rare occasion that Mama is away from you, I am greeted by a fast crawling, hair pulling, wet opened mouth kiss that turns me to mush. You look at me with your deep blue eyes and I see the trust you have in me to provide for you. We don't know what the future holds, but I pray that all your dreams come true.  I know mine did when God gave me you.


Happy First Birthday!


Love,
Mama

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Voyageurs Revisted

Dear Photograph,
We knew how much we loved this park and each other when we would visit the place where we met as park rangers in 1998. What we didn't know was how much we'd love bringing our three children to see our beloved park more than a decade later. Old memories mingled with new, but the beauty is the same.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I heart faces - Enjoying life challenge


 

It's been a while since I've entered a challenge at i heart faces but when I was reading the interview with guest judge Kelle Hampton I knew I needed to take a minute and find a photo to enter. A blog about enjoying the small things? I don't know if there is a more perfect match to my Alphabitty Moments project than that!

Photo Challenge SubmissionBefore it got too hot and sticky to play outside after 8am we spent an afternoon slip n sliding in our backyard. We like to link two together and put them down a hill for extra fast slipping and sliding - definitely a fun way to enjoy life on a hot summer day in BearCountry!






Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Alphabitty Moments - The Baby Book Edition

While this isn't my first Alphabitty Moments book, it IS the first time I've used my "little things" concept for a baby book. I am so pleased with how cohesive it is and that I was able to get almost 300 photographs in an 80 page book. It was very important to me that I stayed true to the theme of Alphabitty Moments but at the same time cover as much of Elsa's first year as I could.

One way I incorporated extra photographs & text in was to add a summary of her first year near the beginning of the book.

A rainbow theme runs through the entire book as a nod to the theme for her 1st birthday party (which is also her golden birthday).

Do you make a baby book for your children? The traditional handwritten ones or do you do a digital version? I'd love to hear from you! I have (mostly empty) traditional baby books for my older two children. Sigh.... If only I'd thought of Alphabitty Moments years ago!  It is so easy to have a list on your refrigerator of every letter in the alphabet so when a 'moment' comes to mind you can make a note of it then be sure to snap a photograph before the moment is gone. 

       Don't let milestones overshadow the fleeting moments that make up childhood,
                                for it's the ordinary moments of every day life
                     that define childhood & become our most treasured memories.



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Canoe camping with kids

I've been sharing highlights from our recent trip to the BWCA on Instagram . The spot we go is perfect for families with young kids beca...