Slot Car Birthday Party

14947834_10153845918022653_165924438244145929_nWe had my son’s birthday party over the weekend. Birthdays in November in New England can be rough. You never know what the weather will do. As a matter of fact in 2011 when my son was turning 4 the day of his party we had a terrible snow storm which knocked out power during his party for days. So it’s always interesting planning his party. When we began planning this year’s party we tossed around the idea of  a paintball party. Since it would be outdoors though and I couldn’t be sure that we wouldn’t be under snow I was really hesitant about it. Plus, my son is older than most of the kids in his class so I wasn’t sure that they would all be able to do paintball. Then I found this slot car place that’s local. I thought how cool is this, my dad has slot cars, I remember how fun it was for me when I was a kid to get to play with his slot cars so I presented it as an idea for my son. He was very intrigued. But since he had never actually seen slot cars before I wanted to bring him to the place to see what it was like.

So one October Saturday we headed down to Rapid Raceway and went in. Everyone was so nice. They let me son try out one of the slot cars to see if he liked it. He was a natural He loved it and said that’s where he wanted his party. We we booked it right there and began the party planning. And this past Saturday morning we went to Rapid Raceway and had so much fun.

I have done a lot of birthday parties over the years. Some at home, some at locations and of the ones I have done at locations I have never had such personal attention to our group. Now granted, we were the only ones there, but Dawn, the owner of Rapid Raceway remember my son from when we had been in a few weeks prior and she truly bent over backwards to make him feel special. He didn’t come in 1st place, but it was all very close. Dawn watched my son and was giving him pointers of when to let up on the throttle for the car and how to race. The kids all got ribbons and my son got a huge trophy. We had ten racers and the whole thing only cost $130. We got such personal attention and so much for such a low price.

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By far I think it was one of the favorite parties to date. All of the kids had fun. One of the parents told me that all his son did was talk about this party. We got an hour of race time and an hour in the party room. We didn’t have to rush out of there either. It’s not like there was another party that was right on top of ours that we had to clear out for. All of the kids left with a paper that said what place they got and a ribbon.  What a memorable birthday party. If you are local and looking for something to do then definitely check out Rapid Raceway. It’s totally worth it. We’re looking forward to going back to race slot cars again.

How To Make A Tie Dye Cake

Tie Dye cakeMy son’s 6th birthday party was at Chuck E. Cheese this year.  I wanted to make a unique cake for him since I didn’t get to do the whole party planning.  So when my husband was telling me about this tie dye box cake mix he saw from Food Network’s Duff I said, I can do that.  Not with a box though.  I prefer to make my own cake, but on top of that I have a friend whose child has a soy allergy and I was worried about getting the wrong cake mix.  Using my own ingredients I could control that and make the cake safe for everyone to have.

When everyone saw the cake they were asking me how I did that.  So I wanted to give a little how to.  I must admit, I wasn’t smart enough to take pictures of the whole process so I do hope I can explain it well enough that you can see how it all came together.

What You Need

  • White cake batter (box or your own homemade batter, it doesn’t matter)
  • 2  8 or 9 inch round cake pans
  • 6 small bowls
  • Food color (I used Wilton concentrated food gels because I like the vivid colors it gives)
  • White frosting (any kind you like, again I make my own butter cream frosting)
  • Food gels (in a tube to make the tie dye on the frosting)
  • A flat unused paint brush

How To Make A Tie Dye Cake

Once you have your cake batter all made separate it out into 6 separate bowls.  Try to do it equally.  I measured out about 1 cup per bowl.  Then take your food color and put one color in each bowl and mix it up.  I tried to stick with the basic colors of the rainbow.

Now comes the fun part, tie dying.  Start with your first color and pour it into your prepared pan just to cover the bottom of the pan.  Then pour your next color on top, but don’t let it go all the way to the edge.  Keep doing this with each color a little less each time, then go to your 2nd cake pan.

Go in the opposite direction now.  So if you ended with blue in your first pan, then start with blue on the bottom in your 2nd pan and end with your first color from the first pan.  Same process.  Start out covering the bottom of the pan.  You should be able to use the remainder of the cake batter in each color to make the second cake.  Once you have all of your cake batter in the pans put it in the oven.  When it’s done here’s what the cakes will look like…

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Isn’t that awesome?  Now let them cool completely.  Now you’re going to want to frost the cake.

Tie Dye Frosting

Now you could just go with a plain white frosting or make it whatever color you like and sprinkle it with sprinkles or something, but I thought, what’s the fun in that?  I like the wow factor from start to finish on my cakes so I wanted my frosting to be tie dyed too.

I wasn’t crazy about how mine turned out though, but my son loved it and it was definitely eye catching.  I used basic color gels for this, but I think if I were to do it again I would use the pastel colors.  I think it wouldn’t have come out quite so dark if I had used pastels instead of basic.

So make your frosting like always (or if you use frosting in a container whip it up in your mixer to expand it so it goes further).  Frost your cake like you normally would.  Get it on the whole thing and between the two layer cakes and all around the sides. Smooth it out as best you can.

Not take those tubes of color gels and go around the top of the cake with each color.  Do a circle around the edge of the top of your cake, then move in some and circle around making each circle smaller until you get to the middle.  Now take your clean, flat paintbrush and gently place it in the center of your cake and draw a line straight out.  This is going to take each of those colors and meld them together.  Have a paper towel handy to clean your brush off with as you go.  Do this all the way around the cake until the top of the cake is no longer white and you’ve got a great design of colors on your cake.

I chose to add candy letters to the top to wish my son a happy birthday, but you could probably write on it.  I felt this popped better on the cake though.  But there you have it.  A tie dye cake through and through.

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Here it is after it has been cut.  It definitely got the wow factor for sure and the kids loved it.

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What kind of fun cakes have you made recently?

Five Birthday Party Ideas For Little Boys

birthday partyI love planning birthday parties.  And up until nearly six years ago it was little girl parties I got to plan.  All that changed in 2007 when I had a boy.  Unfortunately I’m not doing too much party planning this year for him.  He has been begging for a Chuck E. Cheese party for what seems like forever.  We are in a position to give that to him this year (thanks to me working more from home now).

While I’m happy to be able to give my son what he has been dreaming of for his birthday, I’m also a little bummed that I don’t get to plan another birthday part for him this year.  And by plan I mean pick a theme, plan out some games, and create it all for him.

We have done a Halloween party for him, Handy Manny, Mickey Mouse Club House, and last years Phineas and Ferb party.  So many fond memories.

I plan parties in my head for months before so I was still giving some thought to other party options for my son this year.  Since I won’t be using them now though I thought, I can’t let all of these ideas go to waste.  So I’m sharing a portion of my party planning brain with you, my readers, and perhaps you can benefit from my party planning thought process.

So here are the ideas I would have presented to my son who turns six next month.  All things that I think any little boy ages 4-8 or so would just love.

Birthday Party Ideas For Little Boys

  1. Disney Planes.  I thought this would have been right up my son’s alley this year after seeing the movie.  There’s no shortage of love in this house for things that fly that’s for sure.  Of course there are a lot of party supplies out right now for this theme, so should you not be to into DIY stuff you could simply buy the supplies.
    • But if you would like to make your own, then I would have started with a plane shaped invitation.  On the front I would have written Fly By For (insert child’s name)’s 6th Birthday Party and then I would have written the party details.  Another consideration (that I probably wouldn’t have done based on cost) would have been to get glider airplanes and print out the party info and attach it to the glider package.  This way everyone gets their very own airplane before the party even starts.
    • For the games we would have played a game of Pin the Wings on Dusty (or whichever character Plane from the movie my son asked for). Then bean bag toss games have been a huge hit at our parties lately. But instead of bean bags, paper airplanes, which they would have made at the party, and then we would have tossed them at a finish line in symbolize the race around the world race from the movie.
    • The cake I would have made shaped like an airplane. Also some sandwiches cut out with an airplane shaped cookie cutter. Some Dusty Dippers (veggies and dip) and Turbo juice (just some fruit punch mixed with a little 7-Up or Sprite).
    • Decorations would have been pretty simple. Whatever color streamers my son chose (I was thinking red, white, and blue though) with balloons, a table cloth, and plates to match. Hang some planes around the party area and the many different flags from around the world.
  2. Minions Party.  Another big hit movie this summer that my kids really got into was Despicable Me 2.  Everyone just loved those minions.  So a party would have been fun.
    • For this one I might have bought the invitations.  If not I would have cut out an oval like shape on yellow folded cardstock (being careful not to cut on the fold) and decorated the outside like a minion.  On the inside it would have had all the party details.  The way I’m picturing this it would have been very time consuming having to cut out overalls and a circle for the eye and gluing it all onto the card.  Which is why I probably would have tried to find invitations for this one.
    • Party games – It’s really just not a party at my house without some form of pin the tail on the donkey. So I’m thinking pin the goggle on the minion in this case. Since one of the things my son has said he wants to do is bowling we would have turned our hall into the bowling alley. Minion bowling. We would have taken some soda bottles paint them half yellow and half blue then attach some paper goggles and a mouth. Then allow the kids to bowl with a playground ball or beach ball even. Musical chairs with some music from Despicable Me 2 would have been my we ran through these party games too fast and now we need something else to do to fill the time game.
    • Now for the food. I would have made a minion cake. Just would have taken a sheet cake cut in the shape of an oval and frosted accordingly. Then, I found these really cute minion marshmallows that don’t look too hard to make and seem very festive. Maybe some chips of my son’s choosing. To drink how cool are these purple evil minion slushies? I mean you’re drinking out of a test tube. How fun!
    • Decorations are quite simple. Yellow and blue would be the color theme you’re working with. You can get plain yellow cups and add goggles and a few other accents to them to make them look like minions.
  3. Wrestling.  So moving away from the whole movie/cartoon character theme party thing a wrestling party.  My son is really getting interested in wrestling ever since doing a week long wrestling clinic.  He loved it.  Really, you could change this up to whatever sport your child loves.  So perhaps I should call this the sport party theme.  The idea I had for this though for my son was to get a giant blow up bounce ring with those huge boxing gloves.  The problem with this of course is those are pricey, I don’t have much of a yard and what we do have is a hill, and my son’s birthday is in the beginning of November and we live in New England.  So probably not too feasible.  But so cool.
    • So the invitations would just be whatever sport your child likes. Make a soccer card, baseball, basketball, or whatever with all of the party details.
    • Games would pretty much be the sport your child picks. I think that would take up enough time.
    • For the food things like popcorn and peanuts (barring any allergy concerns of course) would be great. Mini hot dogs would be good too. A cake or cupcake decorated like the ball or your child’s favorite sport’s team. Gatorade to drink in sports bottles the kids can take home as a party favor.
    • And decorating too would be pretty simple. Everything in the colors of your favorite sports team or with the items from your child’s favorite sport.
  4. Cowboy party.  As cliche and overdone as it might be this is a classic.  It would be even better if you knew someone with a pony who could come by and give pony rides.  But this is pretty straightforward of a party idea.  I envision cap guns and little boys running around yelling, “Draw!” as they run around the yard.  Food can be picnic stuff or hot dogs and hamburgers.  Rootbeer to drink (sarsaparilla).  A cowboy boot cake.  And plenty of western decor around the house.
  5. Tractor party, or trucks.  Ever since I can remember my son has been fascinated with trucks.  Anything on wheels really.  From motorcycles to tractor trailers, he loves it all.  We did sort of a construction themed party for him a few years ago when he was really into Handy Manny, but even now I think he would love a party centered around motorized vehicles.
    • So for this I like a simple invitation of a license plate of the state you’re living in with your child’s name and age he will be as the “numbers”.  On the back write all of the party info.
    • For games you can play pin the wheel on the car or truck and a bean bag toss game with a dump truck.  Toss it into the window of the truck.  Having truck stop races can be fun too especially if you’re outdoors.
    • For the cake, make a race track on your cake.  Serve chips out of clean dump truck toys.  Have sandwiches cut out in the shape of cars or trucks with a cookie cutter.  Macaroni and Cheese wheels made out of wheel shaped pasta.
    • And decorate like a race track or construction zone.  It’s a party that’s sure to be a hit with your motor loving little dude.

So that was just a few party ideas I’ve been milling about for my son since last year.  Maybe one day I’ll get to use one of these maybe not.  I kind of miss not doing all of the party stuff.  I’m going to have to come up with a super special creative cake idea for his Chuck E. Cheese birthday party.  A cake in the shape of a piece of cheese perhaps.  Hmmmm.

What fun party themes do you have to share?

Recap Of Our 1D Party

birthday girl MMMAs you may recall a few weeks ago I was talking about my last minute plans (well, last minute for me anyways) for a One Direction birthday party for my daughter.  We still have one more birthday party to go this month, but that’s actually quite simple.  We’ll have pizza and cake at the house and then head out to the movie theater.  They really do get easier the older they get.  Even this One Direction party was easier than my son’s birthday parties tend to be for me.

I think this biggest task in this whole thing was just making the invitations I made.  Well, that and trying to find One Direction stuff that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.  I wasn’t successful with that.  The goody bags had no One Direction stuff in them because I wasn’t spending $8 per item that went in the bag.  My daughter was happy with the dollar store items I picked up though.

But I was solo for this party.  My husband ended up having to go to work at 2 and the party started at 3.  So we had a handful of 10 and 11 year old girls invade the house and I was the only adult present.  They’re a good group of girls though.  It was actually a very mellow group.

He done good decorating.

He done good decorating.

And because I had everything under control with set up I even scheduled the kids for haircuts right before the party.  My husband decorated (because that is his job for the birthday parties) while I was at the hairdresser with the kids.  We got home just in time for him to leave for work and me to do some last minute cleaning and prepping.  I think this was one of the least stressed I have been going into a birthday party and I was the only adult in the house.  Go figure.

The Party

So as her friends began to arrive she just brought them in her room and showed them around.  They wanted to go outside to wait for one of the girls who was going to be a little late.  They didn’t last too long.  It was a little chilly and well probably boring out there because I didn’t plan any outdoor activities.  So they came in a few minutes later.  They munched on some chips and pizza rolls while they waited and then decided after I kept prodding them that they would play Just Dance 4.

My oldest daughter helped get them set up with that and just as they started the final guest arrived.  So they started over with the last girl and they did a few dances with that.  Then it was time for the One Direction Trivia game my oldest daughter created.  I was the score keeper.  The girls competed on their knowledge of One Direction and well they didn’t seem to know a whole lot.  Or my oldest made it too hard for them.  Not sure, but they had fun making up answers for it.

Pin the heart on NiallWe got to the last question and there was a tie.  My daughter hadn’t prepared for that so she went to create a tie breaker while I started the next game.  Pin the heart on Niall.  This would be my middle daughter’s favorite member of One Direction.  I just made hearts out of some card stock and used a poster of Niall hung on my door.  I blindfolded the girls and sent them on their way to pin the heart on Niall.  Well, when you’re 10 and 11 you have figured out that if you feel around for the poster you can get pretty close.  They were all in the general vicinity.

I didn’t realize how late it had gotten and parents were going to be arriving in 20 minutes and we still haven’t done cake and presents.  My daughter decided she wanted an ice cream cake.  So it wasn’t a One Direction theme.  I did write a Happy Birthday message on the cake for her, but that was it.  We did cake and presents and then my oldest had finally finished her tie breaker.  But parents were arriving so we just called it a draw and everyone won a medal.

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It was really amazing how fast the time went.  My daughter was pleased with the party though and of course that’s all that matters.  Now begins the year long I want to do this for my birthday party next year requests.

What’s your next party them going to be?

How To Make An Invitation For A One Direction Party

birthday partyRemember how last week I was all in a panic because I hadn’t done a thing to plan birthday parties for my two April birthday girls?  And I threw together this last minute plan for a One Direction party for my middle daughter who turns 11 on Thursday.

Well, the start of any good birthday party is coming up with the perfect invitation.  Now I could go to the store and buy invitations, or even order something online.  But remember, I’m running out of time.  I didn’t have time to order something and it has been my experience that my vision is sometimes either way ahead of the times or way behind the times.  Finding an invitation with just the right theme in mind isn’t always possible.

So I have given up on purchasing invitations for the most part.  I tend to make my own.  I have used my computer to make invites, but honestly I’m not very tech savvy.  So getting things to print out just right usually takes a lot of paper and a lot of ink.  So for me that usually means a far too high price tag.  When I can make that work I can make some very spectacular invitations though.

I am all about making things simple too.  So when my daughter decided on a One Direction party I began thinking how can I do these invitations?  And it hit me.  I could do something which I’ve done once before for my oldest daughter when she had her Hannah Montana birthday party.  It was simple and came out really nice.  And it’s something that you don’t have to use for either Hannah Montana or One Direction.  Any musical themed party would work great with this invitation.

One DirectionOne Direction Party Invite

A concert ticket.  So simple and so brilliant if I do say so myself.  You can get all of the information on one 4×5 card.  Here’s how I did it.

What You Need

  • cardstock
  • gel pens or multi-color pens
  • glitter glue
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • stickers (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut your card stock into the size of an invitation.  A good size that will fit into an invitation envelope is 4×5-1/2.
  2. On these particular cards I used stickers to make the 1D symbol.  I measured my stickers which were 3/4 of an inch.  I used that as my guide to figure out how large of a font I wanted to use for the birthday message.  Then I measured out some lines with my ruler to try to keep things straight.  I carefully drew lines with my pencil.
  3. On this particular card I placed the sticker first.  I didn’t want it too close to the edge because I knew I wanted to add a little decorative piece down the sides.  Then I wrote my daughter’s name with a green pen (her favorite color) in a similar looking font to the stickers and mentioned that it was her 11th birthday too.
  4. Next I began filling in the rest of the information with a few things to make them look more ticket like in different colors just to make it more festive.  Concert tickets usually contain things like where your seat is and who produced the concert.  So on the top I wrote the section, row, and seat were all 11 (since that’s how old my daughter will be).  Since we are the ones “producing” this party I used our family name as our production company.
  5. I included a venue (location) with our address and a date of the concert with a start time and end time for the show and of course ended it with an RSVP number.
  6. Finally I added some glitter glue in squiggly lines just because what 11 year old girl doesn’t love glitter?

And that’s it.  It made a fun and functional invitation.  This is one of those things where you really could easily take creative license with it and do it for just about anything you would need a ticket for.  Having a sports party?  A ticket for a sporting event.  You don’t have to use the colors or the glitter glue.  I think it makes them look kind of girly so if you have a son you might want to cut back on the pinks and purples and sparkles.  Adding “Admit One” to the invite might be fun too.  I’m sure these could be printed on the computer as well if you are more tech savvy than me or know how to print tickets.

See, so many options for a simple and inexpensive invitation.  I personally usually have this stuff on hand.  I did have to buy more glitter glue and paper, but all of this stuff will be used for other projects.  The sheet of stickers I got to put the 1D on these invites was the most expensive, but again I have a bunch of other stickers I’m sure I’ll find a use for somewhere.  All in all I would have to say to make 10 of these invitations it cost me total about $5.  Without the stickers it would have been about half that cost.

So what do you think, would you come to this One Direction party with concert ticket in hand?

Party Party Party

birthdday partyIt’s April and around here that means I tend to get a little panicked trying to fit everything in for the month.  Lots of school events tend to start happening this time of the year, but my two oldest girls have April birthdays too.  I tend to like it when Easter falls in March because that frees up weekends for birthday parties.

This year I am really slacking.  My friends and family generally think of me as the party planner.  I begin to think about my kids birthdays months in advance.  By now I would have a date and theme picked out for each of the girls.  I would have invitations most likely made or about to be and sent out for my middle daughter.  And when I don’t have one party for the two of them I usually like to have 2 weeks between their parties so I only have to truly focus on one at a time.

This year the girls wanted to do a venue party at a local bowling alley.  While I like this idea my pocket book wasn’t liking it too much when I looked up the price recently.  Honestly, I can probably do something cheaper at home.

So as I was doing my monthly calendar I began presenting my ideas to my girls. I hate disappointing them, and disappoint them I did.  However, after thinking about it both girls being the awesome kids that they are came up with new ideas for their birthdays.  Actually, my teenager isn’t much into the whole traditional pin the tail on the donkey kiddie birthday party anymore.  She likes hanging with a few very close friends anyways.  So, she had such a good time last year feeling all grown up going into a movie theater with just her friends that she asked for that.  And since there isn’t a minimum you have to bring,this is a little more in our budget since she would only want two of her best friends really anyways.  I think she’s debating about doing a sleepover with it too.  Just have to see what movies will be out within the next 3 weeks.

My middle daughter likes a big crowd though.  So we’ll keep it at home.  After much debate she has decided she wants a One Direction party.  So now comes the fun in planning a party with no time.  I am going back and forth on when we should do it. She wants it as close to her birthday as possible which means the weekend of the 13th/14th.  But that means we have to get invitations out like now and my husband doesn’t have time to ask for a day off.  Plus that weekend is the start of their mini April vacation this year.  I’m afraid people will be cramming things into the shortened break and she might not get as many friends.  So I’m trying to convince her to hold off a week.  Gives me more time to plan this way.  Although, that’s back to back party weekends.  Oh well, my oldest daughter’s isn’t much planning.

But One Direction?  Okay, I know my girls are gaga for this band, but other than that, I know nothing. Gone are the days of Mickey Mouse I guess.  At least with them.  So now I am trying to figure out party games, food, invitations, decorations, and cake for a One Direction party.  Here’s what I have come up with.

Planning A Last Minute 1D Party For An 11 Year Old.

So of course we have to start with the invitations.  My daughter wants me to make microphone invitations.  I would, but that requires cutting and we’re running low on time here.  So I’m thinking if I make it like a concert ticket.  I did this for my oldest daughter’s Hannah Montana party one year.  It worked out really well so I think I’ll do that again.

Okay, now time for the party itself.  The games!  Is 11 too old for a variation of pin the tail on the donkey?  Apparently not, my daughter asked what we would do.  So Pin the Heart on a member of One Direction sounds like a plan to me.  Although, the extent of my artistic ability ends with cartoon characters.  I won’t be drawing anyone so we’ll just use a poster.  We have plenty of those around here.

Still in need of more games. Just Dance 4 to the rescue. It just so happens to have a One Direction song on it.  Of course it’s only a 4 player game, but I think we can make due without actually having to give everyone a controller, or they can take turns.

I think One Direction trivia will be fun to do.  Luckily my oldest is a huge One Direction fan so I can put her in charge of the trivia game.

Don’t Forget The Lyrics with One Direction will be my game in my pocket in case they run through the games too fast.  They’ll have to sing One Direction songs and then complete the lyric.

Now we need to think food!  Just going to go with the basic party food.  Chips of my daughter’s choosing maybe some pizza bites.

The cake however is the big deal.  I have a guitar shaped cake pan from my oldest daughter’s Hannah Montana party.  So I think if I just use that and decorate it like it’s an acoustic guitar and put the 1D logo on it that should be good.

I did see a cool looking top hat, but it used fondant and I’m not very good with fondant.  My cake plans might change several times, but my original thought is go with what you already have.  There is after all no time for any special orders.

Finally, the goody bags.  I’ll just pick up a bunch of little girly trinkets at the dollar store for that and then see if I can get some One Direction stickers or tattoos to add into the mix.  I might need a few trophies too to give out to the winners of our games.

And there you have it.  My off the top of my head plan for a birthday party that I’ll be throwing in less than 3 weeks. Think I can pull it off?  Come back later this month to find out.  Assuming of course my daughter doesn’t totally change direction on me.  She really isn’t one to go in one direction and she’s always changing her mind.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) half-length portrait, s...

Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) half-length portrait, seated at desk covered with his books / World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone knows who Dr. Seuss is right? I mean I shouldn’t have to explain who he is, but I also probably shouldn’t be making assumptions that he’s known by EVERYONE.

So for those of you who are unfamiliar, Dr. Seuss is an author and poet.  He has written countless children’s books which include such popular works like Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  I honestly don’t think I have even read every single one of his books.  But every one I have read has been great.  And they are the perfect beginning reader books.

The author known to the world as Dr. Seuss was born March 2, 1904 as Theodor Seuss Geisel and he died September 24 1991.  He began his career as a newspaper cartoonist and eventually was asked to illustrate a children’s series.  This was his break into children’s literature.  He published his first book And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street in 1937.  He wrote a few more children’s books after that and eventually lead to him being challenged to write a book which contained 220 vocabulary words in response to an article which said children in America were not reading well.  This book was The Cat In The Hat and it was published in 1957.  Dr. Seuss has been wildly popular and his use of nonsense words in his writing has become such a great tool in teaching children to read.

Read Across America

In 1998 the first Read Across America was held on Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  Probably isn’t a more fitting day to have this challenge.  What Read Across America is is a way to get children excited about reading and turn them into lifelong readers.  Because studies show that children who are motivated and read more perform better in school.

So every year on March 2 the country holds events which promote reading.  And since this year March 2nd falls on a Saturday the schools celebrated on the 1st instead.  My children had special guest readers come in from the community to read to them and they received a Horton Gives A Who notebook and a few other little trinkets.  They also got to celebrate their principals birthday as she just so happens to share a birthday with Dr. Seuss.  How fun is that?

We’re Celebrating Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

I couldn’t let the day go unrecognized around here though.  Even though the kids had their celebration at school I plan on having a few special treats for the kids here at home.  I planned a dinner of Roast Beast in honor of How The Grinch Stole Christmas because you know he even stole the feast of Roast Beast.  Hopefully he won’t steal our feast.  I could have gone classic with green eggs and ham, but my husband doesn’t like breakfast for dinner.  There was one fish two fish of course too, but we aren’t fish eaters.  So Roast Beast seemed like a suitable choice.

Now of course a celebration would just not be a celebration without cake.  I am making a Cat in the Hat cake.  It’s really quite simple.  A quarter sheet cake cut out like the hat from Cat in the Hat and then dye some coconut red and make red and white stripes in coconut on the frosted cake.  I did this one year for my middle daughter when she was in preschool and it was a huge hit. I’m sure it will land big with my kids again this year.

And we couldn’t celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday without reading some of his books.  I will let the kids choose of course, but I will have to sneak my personal favorite in there, Who Are You Sue Snue?  What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

Nothing big and nothing fancy, but just enough to get the kids excited about reading.  And we all love reading Dr. Seuss.

Are you doing anything fun to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday and Read Across America?

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Going To Have Some Valentine’s Fun

Image courtesy of samarttiw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of samarttiw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My husband and I decided years ago that we didn’t need to celebrate Valentine’s day as a couple.  Our wedding anniversary is a few weeks after and it just doesn’t make much sense to make a big fuss over a day when everyone is professing their love for one another when we have our own days to do that.  I truly want nothing from my husband on Valentine’s day and if he gave me anything I would probably be mad at him.

I don’t begrudge anyone else the chance to be silly and romantic though.  And it certainly doesn’t mean I can’t go all out in doing stuff for my kids for Valentine’s day.

I am the mom who does homemade Valentine’s.  I do not do them myself.  My kids help me.  They help me pick out what they want to do.  Sometimes I might nudge them ever so gently in the direction of something I want to try.  But for the most part they choose.  They love doing the homemade Valentine’s.

Sure sure, I know the recipients most likely don’t care.  They just want the prize inside.  And that’s fine.  I mean think about it, even those pre-made cards you just fill out your name on, those get tossed in the trash.  It’s all really just a waste.  It’s not about the actual Valentine.  It’s the time spent with my children creating them.  That’s why I do it.  It’s not for anyone else’s children.  It’s all for my own.  And my kids always ask about the Valentine’s.  To not do it is just a disappointment all around.

We Didn’t Do It This Year

Well, not yet anyways.  I know, it’s Valentine’s Day.  What are we waiting for?  Well, this year Valentine’s Day in CT means no school for the 5th day in a row thanks to the blizzard.  I knew our town was making a push to try to get the schools opened so I did make an effort to get some crafting under way.  It didn’t play out.  Our plan for Valentine’s didn’t work out at all because I just didn’t have all of the right materials.

But we got the call last night that we were having another snow day so that gives me an extra day to get what’s needed.  Yes, I slacked on this, but I have been in the house since last Friday.  Aside from going outside to shovel I haven’t left.  But I am going to get the proper materials to create some wonderful Valentine’s with my children on what hopefully will be their last snow day.  While they are saying back to school on Friday it all seems for naught since they have February vacation next week, but I imagine they have had enough of taking away from our April vacation.  If we make these Valentine’s, then I sure hope my kids will get to pass them out to their classmates.

Since the kids are home for yet another day I decided I’m throwing a party.  Way better than school parties because they get to have special homemade treats of the not so healthy variety.  We have to do something with all of this time at home, right?

So there will be some Valentine making and cupcake eating.  Perhaps some party games too.

Here’s How We Roll For Valentine’s Day At My House

So I thought I’d share with you the different kinds of Valentine’s we’ve created and share with you some of my last minute I’m throwing my kids a Valentine’s Day party ideas.  Everyone loves an impromptu party, right?

Last year for my son in preschool we made these cool Rocket Valentine’s from Spoonful.

Valentines

And my middle daughter got Ipods also from Spoonful.

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This year we attempted to do some watercolor resist ones, but the paper we had wasn’t working out too well.  There was also a cute puppy dog my son wanted, but I didn’t have enough paper to make all of the hearts.

So now instead I think we will try these You Rock, Valentine ones.  Or depending on the cost of whoopie cushions we might try these Whoopie ones from The Taylor House.

One of my favorite Valentine’s that we did of all time was from 3 years ago.  It was the Lucky Lotto scratch off.

Valentines

So those are my favorite Valentine’s, now onto the games.  Keeping in mind that I didn’t have a lot of time to make anything to play games.  A handful of conversation hearts can be lots of building and eating fun in this game of Heart a Stack.

Remember Minute To Win It?  Well we are going to try it Valentine’s style like Stacy Julian.

Valentine’s Bingo might just be in order for this party.  There are plenty of printable’s online.  Just do a google search for Valentine Bingo.

Now how about the food?  On Facebook the other  day a friend had posted some pictures of some very cute looking cupcakes.  I had to skip over the recipe though because there’s a strict no treats in school policy this year.  Worst rule ever for the baking moms out there, but what are you gonna do.  So when school was canceled last night I quickly went in search for these delectable cupcakes.  And now I’m going to share it with you.

Hidden Heart Cupcakes Recipe

Image courtesy of Margaret Albert Independent Pampered Chef Consultant

Image courtesy of Margaret Albert Independent Pampered Chef Consultant

Ingredients:

1 pkg white cake mix (or your own white cake recipe)

heart shaped cookie cutter

red gel food coloring

Directions:

Prepare white cake mix according to box directions. Pour 1/3 of the batter into a small mixing bowl. Add red gel food coloring to the small bowl until desired color is reached (the redder the better for contrast!). Pour red batter into sprayed 9×9 pan and bake 15-20 minutes at 375 or until tooth pick inserted in center is clean. Cool. Cut red cake with small heart shaped cookie cutters.

Line cupcake pan and add two small scoops of white batter. Push a heart into the center so it stands up straight (point facing down). Add one more scoop of white cake batter on top. Bake as directed for cupcakes. Frost when cooled and decorate to your hearts content!

So that’s the Valentine’s Party we are having today.  What fun do you have planned for Valentine’s Day?

10 Fun Ways To Celebrate New Years Eve With Small Children

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New Years Eve, the biggest party of the year.  Staying up late and getting that kiss at midnight, but then we grow up and have kids and New Years Eve turns into a different kind of party.  One where you are likely to stay in with the kids.  Or maybe you have a babysitter and still get to go out.  I never did though and quite frankly even though I was only 20 when my oldest came along I never wanted to.

I enjoy spending New Years Eve at home.  Hanging out with the kids.  Doing our own kid centered celebration.  Staying safe, away from the drunks.  And you too can have a great celebration with the little ones at home.  I am going to give you some party suggestions for ringing in the new year with small children.

Ringing In The New Year With Small Children

The kids want to get in on the action too.  At least mine do.  So here are some really fun ways to celebrate the new year in a kid friendly way.

Game Night

This is the perfect time to have a game night.  You can even invite over another family or some of your children’s friends to make it even more enjoyable.  Let the kids help pick their favorite games to play and maybe have a few surprise new ones on the agenda and just play.  Make a bunch of appetizers for dinner and munch away until midnight.  Be sure to turn the TV on to watch the ball drop.

Movie Night

Make it a night of family movies.  Whatever you do, don’t forget the candy and the popcorn for this one.  It’s just not a movie night without candy and popcorn.

Dance Party

Invite a bunch of your kids friends and even some of yours over for a dance party.  If you have a gaming system and either own or can rent games like Just Dance 4 or Just Dance Disney Party, then you’ll be sure to have a really rockin’ New Years Eve.  Bonus is the kids should go to bed real easy after dancing the night away.

Karaoke Party

Is dancing not your thing?  How about singing?  Have a Karaoke party instead.  There are more video games you can get to do Karaoke with.  Or if you already have a Karaoke machine.

Time Square Party

Just because you can’t go into NYC to ring in the new year doesn’t mean you can’t throw a party like you’re in Time Square.  And quite frankly it will be way better because you won’t be stuck out in the cold being herded around the city like cattle.  Have a clock which is counting down until midnight.  Don’t forget the hats, noisemakers, and confetti.  Have plenty of music to rock out to and food consisting of pizza, hot dogs, and peanuts should give a real New York feel.

Pajama Party

Get everyone in their PJs and spend the night telling silly stories.  Either reminiscing about the year past or just making up your own stories.  Invite friends over and be sure to have lots of snack foods.  Make some ice cream sundaes with the kids even.  Make it a sleepover if you have the room or desire to.  This will depend on the age of your guests.

Glamor Party

This might be best for girls, but I’m sure my son would get into this.  Have a bunch of dapper dress up clothes for them to try on.  High heels are a must when you are doing dress up.  If you invite people over invite them to wear their finest.  Do up their hair and makeup.  Roll out the red carpet and a photo booth is a must to catch all of that glam.

Craft Party

Do you have a crafty little youngster?  I sure do.  As a matter of fact she got mostly art supplies for Christmas this year.  Anytime I mention the word craft she is right there with all of her little saved treasures ready to contribute something of hers to the mix.  She would be over the moon with an entire party of just crafts.  Make your own party hats.  Make your own noise makers.  Make your own party blowers.  It would be a blast and you’ll be all set at midnight to ring in the new year with your new creations.

Bingo

Everyone loves a good game of Bingo.  Spend the night marking numbers on Bingo boards.  Have some prizes too.

Sports Party

Are you a sporty family?  Well, why not have everyone wear the jerseys of each winning team from the year?  The Super Bowl winner from the year, the World Series winner from the year, the Stanley Cup winner from the year.  Then play these sports.  If the weather does not allow for you to play outdoors, then rent some video games.  Have your own Super Bowl/World Series/Stanley Cup for the year.

Keep The Ages Of The Kids In Mind

Your younger children likely won’t make it until midnight.  That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with them.  Ring in the new year a little earlier.  Have some sparkling cider to make the celebration extra special.  Remember lots of kid friendly foods.  Let loose and let the kids enjoy.

If your children are older let them try to stay up.  Be open to crashing on the couch or living room floor.  Just make it fun and laid back.  Have a happy new year!

What are your New Years Eve plans this year?

I Like To Party All The Time

Dr. Doofenshmirtz Bean Bag Toss game.

No seriously, when I throw a party I really can’t do just one. It’s apparently hard wired in me that I must do multiple parties. Or maybe it’s just that I like to group our family’s birthdays into one.

My two oldest daughters both have April birthdays, 11 days apart. Then my son came along and was so close to keeping me 29 forever. He was born the day before my 29th birthday. And my doctor had given me the green light that if he were born on my birthday that I could officially stay 29 forever. She went and messed that dream all up by not being around on my birthday and scheduling his c-section for the day before.

It’s all good though because it was a Thursday and that made all of my children born on a Thursday. Leave it to my youngest to mess that whole Thursday thing all up, ha. Never plan to get what you want because it won’t happen. I was supposed to be induced the day after she was born (which would have been a Thursday), but alas she had different plans. Truth be told while everyone being born on a Thursday would have been awesome (by the way that includes me) I think it’s even better the day she was born because we have this 2 and 1 thing going on with our whole family. Here’s how it goes, my husband’s birthday is on the 21st, mine is the 2nd, my oldest is the 22nd, daughter #2 is the 11th, my son is the 1st, and the baby is the 2nd. So doesn’t that just look pretty? Oh yes I am totally crazy, I know, no need to tell me. Believe me when I say that I drove my family nuts with these numbers.

Now, Back To My Point, PARTIES!

I love throwing parties. So my son’s 5th birthday party is tomorrow. He is getting the ultimate Phineas and Ferb birthday party. Complete with a Perry birthday cake, games consisting of Pin The Tail on Perry and Bean Bag Toss Doofenshmirtz, and all of the birthday boy’s favorite party foods (cheese balls anyone?). Just about all of which has been done by me because you know it’s not a party without mommy’s party games around here. Well, it’s not a kid’s party anyways.

And then I’m throwing myself a party this year too. Okay, this is the 2nd year I’ve done it. I normally would prefer that my birthdays now go by unnoticed for the most part. Just a quiet day with my closest friends and family wishing me a happy birthday. Birthdays just don’t have the same excitement once you turn 21. Seriously, what is there to look forward to? 30? Umm yeah my mom ruined that one for me on my 15th birthday when I woke up and she said, “Happy birthday, you’re halfway to 30!” Thanks for that by the way mom. Not exactly what a 15 year old wants to hear because 30 is just SO OLD! Well, until you are 30, then old is 45. Remember that old is always 15 years older than you currently are. I read that somewhere and it’s so true.

But anyways, last year I was thinking I should get my Pampered Chef lady and my Avon lady to come over and we’ll do a party so people can start Holiday shopping. Lets beat those Black Friday shopping crowds and get this knocked out early. I figure my birthday is the perfect time. People aren’t too busy with family stuff just yet and who wants to fight crowds anyways? A little fun, a little laughs, and a lot of great food is the perfect holiday shopping setting, don’t you think?

Well, I sure thought so. And I invited everyone I know and then it snowed and our power went out. I thought I was going to have to cancel my party, but the lights came back on early that morning for my birthday. Might have been one of the best birthday presents I ever got. So I scrambled telling everyone come over, take a hot shower, enjoy some heat, have a hot meal, but I wasn’t able to get the crowd that I had hoped. It was still hard to navigate the state with down trees.

So I’m trying to do a repeat of last year, minus the snow and electricity drama. Fingers crossed that the hurricane passes us over.  And I’m live blogging it again. It’s not on my birthday this year. It’s the day after, on November 3rd. And it’s a brunch. So November 3rd at 11 a.m. my blog is going to be open for shopping at Pampered Chef and The Gourmet Cupboard this year. My Pampered Chef lady and Gourmet Cupboard lady are working together to come up with great recipes featuring both products and I’m going to tell you all in blog-o-sphere how wonderful it is. And then you’ll get to shop and you’ll get to win prizes. I hope to get to chat with you next week.

So who wants to party all the time with me?