Thursday, December 4, 2014

A CONSTRUCTION PARTY FOR ROBIN

Yes it's true - I am officially breaking radio silence to tell you about Robin's "Construction" themed 2nd birthday! I don't even want to talk about how he is two already. When did that happen?

This last year Robin has been all trucks, trucks, trucks, and motorcycles. I am actually yelled at in the car if I don't slow down to a snails pace as we pass construction sites full of tractors and other machinery. So I figured there was no way we couldn't do a construction themed birthday party this year. With a quick search on our favorite invite site Tiny Prints we found the perfect invited to draw inspiration from! Who knew you could do a sophisticated construction theme?

This is one of my favorite parties to date. Do I say that every time? It really was and do you want to know why? Because it was so low budget but still looked like I spent a ton! I did most my party prep and shopping right in my own garage and Tim's work. My favorite touch was the blue prints Tim brought home of an old high school, perfect for a table cloth. Maybe I should have been an architect because all the lines and doodles made me all swoony. I ordered the cones, bins and construction hats on Amazon for a great deal, stalked Costco and Craigslist for reasonably priced trucks, and used Etsy for the finishing touches like the food labels and circle garland. Those tool belts? $0.75 cents each at Home Depot and it just took a few more dollars on felt to really personalize them - Each kiddo took one home with a construction hat.

With scraps laying around, I had Tim mimic the framing of the house on the invitation as our centerpiece, now the kids loving having it around for play. For a good toddler approved activity I filled a large Rubbermaid bin with lima beans and little contraction vehicles with a basket of Robin's eco friendly trucks to pull out as well. Of course I made sure to rope it off with caution tape, also adding a "2" to our door to greet guests. Plates and etc were so easy - I just went with good old construction colors black, yellow and orange. Pinterest was a gold mine for ideas - this party theme seems to be huge these last couple of years and every thing seemed low budget and easy to DIY. I took some inspiration here and there but really loved dreaming up my own ideas and seeing them through. Did I mention that i'm pretty proud of this party?

The cake of course was made by the same gal who has been making our cakes since Stella's first birthday. At first I pinned tons of cakes that were "deconstructed" with tiny vehicles but then I figured with everything else going on with the table it would be too busy. I went with a simple exposed layer cake that was dirt colored haha. The whole party turned out simple and perfect! I didn't go crazy trying to plan and perfect everything and Robin was all smiles the whole day. I think every gift he got had wheels of some kind and he was pretty excited about that - the boy loves to make a good truck, tractor or motorcycle sound.

Throwing boy parties is so much fun! I can't wait to see what he is into this year for the big t-h-r-e-e!

xoxo melissa

Monday, June 23, 2014

A PINK AND GOLD BABY SHOWER FOR BRITT

It's amazing what some gold spray paint and a circle cutter can do to bring together a baby shower on a budget!

At the beginning of this month I had the pleasure of co-hosting a shower for my cousin Britt and her baby girl Brynlee. Just like me, her sister and her have an eye for style and detail so we all had fun dreaming up this shower. Like always I started with the invite to draw inspiration from - We were instantly in love with the "touch of gold" invite by Tiny Prints. Their selection continues to wow me with beautiful styles added weekly. What an opening statement it makes to send out such a gorgeously crafted and detailed invite! 

Then, with a quick peruse of Pinterest we added dollar store animals and spray paint to our shopping list. That paired with some shiny textured pink and gold circles we were pretty much set on the decorations. We added little details here at there with the welcoming chalkboard, "are you my mother?" guest book, and some strategically placed lace. Peonies were also in no short supply as they can make anything an elegant affair. As always my favorite hosting detail is to put cutlery in mason jars with ribbon or other flair - it add the perfect finishing touch. A baby shower doesn't have to cost hundreds of dollars to be memorable! 

The perfect shower food on a hot day? Light snacks like wraps and readily available fruit and cool veggies. The tasty infused waters even became decorations of their own. I'm drooling a little just looking back over these photos - yum!

Congratulations to Britt and Brian, we can't wait to meet Brynlee!

xoxo melissa

Friday, April 18, 2014

OUR NEW BEHAVIOR AND ACCOUNTABILITY CHART

The summer bug has the bitten the kids a little early this year and taking a toll on their behaviors. Tons of whining, complaining, bickering and being bored. It has been especially tough still trying to acclimate to me working again and the hectic schedule that brings so we're all a little on edge and grouchy. Things have to change!

After a quick search on Pinterest I immediately found a behavior chart that was really appealing on Oh My Gluesticks. It looked easy to follow for all three girls (10, 6, and 4 y/o) and it was super easy to make. I used color scraps around the house and picked up a $3 foam core board from Target. You can do whatever you want for the clips but I used clothespins, round wood coins, and letter stickers. I still need to hang it with ribbon but I made it with the idea of it being mobile in mind.

Rowan responded really well to the marble jar system last time we did it so I was excited how visual this new system was with a little marble jar action on the side. A chance to be accountable throughout the day with a big prize at the end of a couple of weeks (hopefully). However this time we're choosing to do special time rewards like ice cream dates and late bed time versus a toy. We started this on Monday and can't wait to report  on the results!

Here is how it works…
  • Each day everyone starts out on "good job" for a clean slate.
  • Kiddo moves up one space for each good deed or moment.
  • Each time they hit "awesome" they get 1 marble in the jar.
  • Any bad choice immediately jumps down to "oops" for a first warning.
  • Violence gets an automatic 5 minute timeout.
  • They have to earn their way back out of warning and consequence area with good moments.
  • Lose of privileges can include - screen time, play dates, a toy, etc.
  • If a privilege is lost before 3pm it is lost for the day. If it is lost after 3pm it is lost for the next day as well.
  • They don't have to repeat consequences on the way up, it's just the concept of learning to be conscious of their behavior and earn their way back up.
  • If kiddo is in any green space at the end of the day they get 5 additional marble in the jar.
  • When their jar is full they get their pre-choosen prize. Ice cream date, more screen time, late bed time, etc.
  • Example of "good" moments: Doing whats asked right away, completing self care without asking, being punctual when getting ready to leave, helping without asking, being tidy without being asked, or being extra kind to someone.
  • Examples of poor choice moments: Whining, violence, not listening, not cleaning up after themselves, and saying mean things to one another.

We are also trying out screen time bucks (printable in link) - I'll report more on that later but for now we are going with a strict no screen time Monday and 1.5 hours a day for the rest of the week with possible exceptions weekend evenings. With Zoe I plan to pay out her full weeks allowance of screen bucks Tuesday and let her budget her time as she sees fit. I think it will be a great learning experience for all of them in different ways and hallelujah to no more brawls over the iPad.

I got a ton of positive response when I posted a picture of our chart on Instagram. I would love to hear if you try this out and if you make any changes to adapt to your family's needs! Of course what works for one kid might not for the other but we're all in the crazy race together and can use all the help we can get!
xoxo melissa

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

HIDDEN ROOM UNDER THE STAIRS - PROGRESS

Major Progress: We still have some ways to go before I can say the project is complete but for now all of the major stuff is done and the kids are moved in and loving their new space!

I gave Tim the deadline of Stella's birthday to have the room most of the way done and useable. This project ending up going way above the budget we had mapped out in our heads so that slowed the progress down a lot. It was hard for us to commit to dropping a lot of money into something that wasn't super important on our house to-do list, like a patio or garage organization is. Tim really came through on this project and blew me away with the results considering this was his first time ever doing a lot of the craftsmanship involved. He had to sheetrock, tape, mud, texture, and paint a ton of weird angles in a cramped space and he did a great job! He even laid some gorgeous laminate flooring in there!

Some major to-do's left are moulding, caulk and paint door trim. We need to add Ikea book ledges, art prints, and are still deciding what to do with the angle under the very bottom of the stairs. Tim couldn't work a piece of laminate in because of the angle so we are talking about building a book case or bins into the bottom or closing it off with sheetrock. I have some ideas of baskets, pillows, and blankets I want to add to cozy the space up and we also are on the hunt for a small flat screen tv/dvd combo to hang in there. We have the perfect one in our room so that might mean an upgrade for us!

Tim had turned a living room outlet around into the room so I picked up the perfect hangable lamp at Target. I put a call out of Facebook for a cheap to free crib mattress and Rowan's friend's mom came through with a super nice one, perfect for the space. I spruced it up with a chevron sheet from target and some pillows from around the house.

Approximate spending so far:
Sheetrock $66 at $11 a sheet
Mud and tape $20
Texture $60 at $15 a can
Flooring (laminate, underlayment, tools, etc) $80
Paint $7 oops paint from Lowes
Outlet and light $25
xoxo melissa

Monday, April 14, 2014

A PJ'S AND PANCAKES PARTY FOR STELLA

A party wasn't even on our radar for Stella until I made this mistake of sitting down to flip through all of the imaginative invites on tinyprints.com - Stella caught eye of that tiny stack of pancakes and wouldn't let up! I began to wrap my head around the idea when I starting picturing all of our friends and family sitting around a huge yummy breakfast. I also immediately remembered a pin I had saved forever ago of a "table bed" that I have been dying to try out.

The theme pi's and pancakes was also appealing because it would take just a small budget to pull off and a lot of the decorations and ingredients we already had here at home. Over the next few weeks we ordered these adorable invites, shopped the Oh Joy for Target end caps, rearranged furniture, and mapped out my cardboard bed table. We ordered a cake through our favorite cake lady who has been making Stella's cakes since year one and made sure to have plenty of other sweet treats to dig into. The menu was easy - Eggs, bacon, pancake, waffles, doughnuts, hash browns, juice, and Starbucks Joe-to-go. All the things that make a perfect Saturday breakfast. I even tried canned cinnamon rolls in the waffle iron and they turned out perfect - I highly recommend it for any occasion!

The party went off without a hitch! Stella's God Father flew in from Georgia to surprise her and all her favorite friends came too. We had way to much food left over but that just meant breakfast burritos for the rest of there week. Tim had a deadline of having the hidden room mostly done so that got tons of use throughout the morning and the weather was even decent enough to head outside for a bit. Stella told me that this was her most favorite birthday yet. Happy fourth birthday Stella!
When I was finishing up my Tiny Prints order I noticed that it suggested some adorable thank you cards to coordinate with our invites. What a cool feature! We went ahead and added them to our cart and Stella had a blast after her party filling them in and sending them out to everyone. How cute are her little drawings? I love when they make that jump from scribbles to recognizable things - the hair on top is my favorite part!
Invitations and thank you cards ℅ Tiny Prints.
xoxo melissa