Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Outdoor Movie Party

We celebrated Stinky's 9th birthday two weeks ago with an outdoor movie party. Typically we have great weather for his birthday but the forecast this year was a ping pong game of 80 degree weather and thunderstorms, or sunny and high forties. Did I mention I have major anxiety about birthday parties and weather? Yeah, that was a fun week.

Ultimately, the DH and I planned to keep it outdoors and purchased a fire pit that hopefully everyone could huddle around. As a backup, we cleaned out the garage in case we needed to move everyone in there. We thought about setting up the movie screen in the living room, but considering we had 19+ kids (mostly boys), quickly vetoed that idea.

We were blessed with beautiful weather but after the sun set, it cooled down quickly. Most of the parents ended up huddled around the fire pit while the kids made it through half the movie, then ditched it to play glow in the dark tag. Who knew a group of nine year olds would fall in love with such an old school game?!? Rounding out the night was a grown up vs kid dance off where I quickly learned I am totally out of touch with pop culture and therefore one of the uncool parents. But, I do know how to "dab" now so that must count for something.

Anyway, here's how it all came together. We started off with the Walk of Fame. This was accomplished with chalk art and stars spray painted lightly on top of the grass. (When the grass is mowed, the stars will magically disappear.)

We had a mish mash of chairs, blankets, pillows and inflatable loungers.

For the photo booth, I taped a black, plastic table cloth over a window and included an assortment of props. This was a hit with the girls. The boys, not so much. Still, it made for super cute photos.

I'm especially proud of the snack table. Normally, my tablescapes fall a bit flat. Not the case with this one. Each kid got a popcorn bucket filled with popcorn, a Hershey's candy bar and a bag of gummies. The parents munched on chips and dip and roasted peanuts.

I decided to make the birthday cake this year. The idea was to have movie reels (Oreos) around the sides of the cake and film strips (Candy by the Foot) on top with a director's clapboard.

This was a fun, low-key party and something we've never done before. Of course the major expenses were the projector, movie screen and outdoor speaker, but those are items we plan to use for many years to come.

Is there anything I would change? Perhaps. We showed Minions and most of the kids had seen it already. Maybe a new release would have held their interest to the end. It's ironic because I thought most of them would have already seen any new release I would have chosen which would have been fresh in their minds and not held their interest like an older movie.

Also, between the number of kids we invited and their siblings, there were 19+ kids between the ages of 4 and 11. I lost count. That may have been too many to reasonably expect to sit through a PG movie.

Still, the kids had a grand time! We have great memories and are planning to set it up again this Friday night. But just for the four of us.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Although we celebrated Stinky's birthday last weekend, today is his actual birth day. I've been asking myself, how is it possible that I have a nine year-old??? The adage the days are long but the years are short certainly rings true for me.

Stinky is my first born and nothing short of a handful. Some days are an emotional roller coaster while others are filled with awe and wonder. Stinky can outsmart us, argue better than any lawyer (real or on tv), find the wonder in simple things and is constantly holding the DH and me to the highest level of parenting. I'm sure most days we fail miserably, but not for lack of trying.

So my darling, if ever you read this blog, here's your nine year old self in a nutshell:

Stinky is...
exacting but fair
imaginative and creative
sensitive yet resilient
dallying but incredibly intelligent
occasionally selfish yet very loving
superbly complex yet thoroughly insightful
shy though mischievous
walks to the beat of his own drum

My son is so much more than I ever dreamed he could be. I hope I am the mother he deserves and needs. Happy Birthday to my very sweet boy!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I Love Cheerios!


I've loved Cheerios, the brand, ever since they made the decision to stick by a tv ad featuring a bi-racial family in 2013. Today, they are winning hearts again with a Bring Back the Bees campaign.

Cheerios has teamed up with Veseys to donate 100 million wildlife seeds. And all you have to do is sign up here. The idea is to get people to plant nectar and pollen-rich wildflowers as food sources for bees across America.

So, why does this matter? Simply put, humans need bees to continue pollinating plants that provide food for us, and the animals we eat.

If you are unlike me, and need hard data to corroborate these claims, please see:

So get your little ones involved, sign up, plant a few seeds and change the world one flower at a time.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Quote of the Week


 Me: "Hey, after lunch, how about we watch Flubber. It's a really cool movie I watched when I was younger."

Stinky: "Oh no Mom! You were born in the 1800s. I don't want to watch a movie that old."

Me: "I was not born in the 1800s! I was born in the 1900s!!"

Stinky: "That's just as bad!" {Groan}

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Affordable Easter Egg Baskets for Elementary-Aged Kids

I admit I am an Easter basket snob. I dislike baskets full of candy, poor-quality toys and boring fillers. I much rather a balance of fun and educational that's easy on the teeth. Therefore for the last few years I've made Stinky and Blinky's Easter baskets to get exactly that.

Over the last few weeks, I've kept an eye out for items that fit that requirement, yet would stay within my $20 budget per basket. Much like a container garden, I wanted a thriller (big ticket item to be the center of the basket), filler (educational) and spiller (little extras...you know the fun bits). Here's what I found:

Blinky has been asking for a fit bit ever since I started looking for one. I have yet to spend the $120 on myself, more or less a seven year-old. I was thrilled to find these activity trackers in pink and blue at Academy Sports for $10 each!

For Christmas, Santa brought dinosaur excavation kits for the kids. Still on their Jurassic Park and Universal Orlando vacation high, they contentedly worked to free their dinos for two days. Still trying to capitalize on that, I included a miniature pirate treasure chest excavation kit for Stinky and a mini jewel excavation kit for Blinky. I found these in the $3 bin at Target.

In the $1 bin at Target, I found off-brand Hatchimal-like toys in pink and blue. You water the eggs and after a certain period of time, an Easter character will "hatch" from the egg. Fingers crossed these will work as described and not repeat the Hatchimals disaster of Christmas 2016.

At Dollar Tree, I found bug catching kits complete with habitat, magnifying lens, tweezers and net. We're always looking for weird bugs around the house and yard. I'm sure the kids will enjoy getting even more hands on with strict instructions to to kill anything...except maybe tomato horn worms!

Also at Dollar Tree I found plaster Easter ornaments with accompanying paint supplies. Last year, I purchased an egg for Stinky and a bunny for Blinky. These were such a hit. After a few weeks, I hid them away until Christmas when they hung on our family tree. I remember Stinky saying he hopes the Easter Bunny brings him a bunny this year to paint. Can't wait to see his expression!

So I know I would be like the worst Mom ever if I didn't include some candy. Per the usual, I include a hollow, chocolate Easter bunny. I tend to stay with brand names for this one like Lindt. These Lindt bunnies were $3.99 at Target.

Finally, water squirt guns from Dollar Tree. We have a lot of luck with these in that they tend to last the entire season in spite of rough play from multiple children. Pictured are The Hulk for Stinky and Ariel for Blinky.

So how much did each basket cost? $20.99. Not bad huh! (Actually, Stinky's is $21.99 because his basket from previous years bit the dust and I had to get a new one. I came across this tool box at Dollar Tree and figured I would use it as an Easter basket.) I fashioned two quick bows with ribbon I had on hand and voila:

Now to find somewhere to store them for the next month!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Cabbie Jr.

Cabbie had a little trouble early on when we forgot to protect him from a frost. Truth be told Cabbie froze to death and was replaced (unknown to Stinky) with Cabbie Jr. Since then, we've been more vigilant about checking nighttime lows and came up with this solution:

Blinky did ask about Cabbie looking so green and healthy after the frost bite that left him wilted and yellowing. Luckily for me, Stinky's squeals of delight redirected his attention.

So what was she squealing about? Since we had to buy a pack of cabbage seedlings, the four of us now have one. Sharing a box with Cabbie is his girlfriend, Hermoine Granger and some spinach cousins. The DH and I have ours planted in this year's compost pile. I was curious about which set would grow the largest, the current compost pile which has not yet broken down or last year's compost pile that Cabbie is in now which had tomatoes and peppers last season.


Blinky isn't the best at checking on Cabbie without being told to do so, but he is enjoying seeing progress like new leaves. He also likes talking to Cabbie after we told him plants respond well to that. Don't believe me, read this.

The next 10 weeks should be fun! As long as we don't have any more cold snaps!!