A Princess Leia Birthday Party

On Saturday we held Casey’s birthday party for family and friends.  She decided on a Princess Leia themed birthday party.  And why not, since her first movie quote was a Princess Leia line (directed at Han Solo) – “Why you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf-herder!”  It took a while for me to decipher that about a year ago when she said it, but once I did all I could do was laugh.

Since there apparently aren’t a lot of 4 year old girls who request Princess Leia parties I had to be a little creative with my theme.  Casey greeted the guests at the door in her Princess Leia ensemble – dress, belt and Princess Leia buns headband, but I don’t have a picture of her in complete costume.

I visited a lot of websites and blogs for inspiration but it was actually Walmart’s party aisle that gave me the decorations I needed.  We went with some black and pink colors and found some generic Princess paper plates.  I put a black tablecloth on the dining table and sprinkled it with pink stars.  I found some blue and black sparkly tulle one day and thought I would drape it somewhere and decorate.  Turns out I didn’t get much tulle in one roll – enough to decorate two chairs and the top of the china cabinet.

I wanted to have some crafts and games for the kids to do while they were here.  I found a cute paper craft on this blog and used her idea to make my own pieces.  I set them up at the table so the kids could make R2-D2, Yoda and/or Chewbacca.  I also printed out some coloring pages from starwars.com.  

 Then we played a rousing game of Pin the Bun on Princess Leia.  Jack was able to peek through the back and see what he was doing so he managed to get perfect placement of his bun.  I thought about playing Princess Leia Says but the kids were distracted by the toys and they were all playing so nicely.

For lunch I made Thai Chicken Wraps and Mediterranean Veggie & Hummus Wraps from Rachael Ray.  Instead of grilling the chicken I made a Teriyaki Chicken in the crockpot the day before.  The kids were welcome to eat these wraps but I also made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and peanut butter and banana rollups…just in case.

I made the same chocolate cake that I made last week and ordered a special princess Leia topper from it from an Etsy store called CrumbyArt.  She did a great job crafting Princess Leia into fondant and it was better than any form of Princess Leia that I could make or would want to make out of a cake.  I also made some cupcakes and decorated them to look like Ewoks.

Casey was very excited about her party and as I was frantically trying to finish everything up in the kitchen in the minutes before it started she stood by the door and asked me how many minutes until her party started at least 50 times.  When everyone got here she crafted, she colored, she pinned the bun on Leia, she played, she ate and she definitely blew out her candles.  She had a great time with her friends and with Nana and Pop Pop who came to celebrate too.

I figured that the kids were old enough to watch the present unwrapping and Casey was very excited to do that.  She got some great gifts from her friends and made sure that she thanked everyone.

For party favors I went with notebooks and markers.  The boys got Star Wars notebooks and Superhero markers and the girls got pretty pink notebooks with Disney Princess or Fairy markers.  I printed out a cute Leia picture and label to put on the bags.

At the end of the day, Pat thought it was a good party because there was good food, good cake, a happy birthday girl and it didn’t cost too much.  And that was my goal.

Happy Birthday to my Princess!
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Casey is 4!

On Friday Casey turned 4.  I think Casey and 4 are going to get along pretty well.  She’s so happy that she is four that she’s been telling random strangers how old she is.  Three seemed like a long year but I think she grew up a lot.  She was ready for 4 before her birthday came if that makes sense.  But it is a little crazy that it’s been four years since I headed to the hospital!

Auntie Jenn came into town to celebrate with us.  Casey had school and then it was time to open presents (after delaying her for 10 minutes so I could wrap mine).  She was very excited with her gifts.  I should have downloaded the video that Jenn took because I think it was pretty funny.  Casey is getting good at saying “Oh my gosh!” as if she is 14 and not 4 so there was a lot of that.

She added a couple of princesses to her collection, an Ariel dress, some Friends Legos, a scooter and a crazy peace sign sweatshirt that is her new favorite piece of outerwear.

The highlight of the day was really the cake.  For me anyway.  I found a yummy chocolate cake recipe and it was delicious.  

We went outside after cake to check out Casey’s new scooter in the dark because it has wheels that light up.  (The neighborhood scooter collection is very varied – one makes chalk marks, one makes sparks and Jack’s is different too, so I felt Casey needed wheels that light up.)  It was actually pretty cool.

Happy Birthday Casey!  A Princess Leia party is coming up this weekend.

Today’s Funnies

Casey coughs.  She says, “Jack do you want some of my germs?”

Jack says, “No thanks, I’m fine with the ones I have.”

“Whose do you have?”, Casey asks.

Jack responds, “I got these from Nana.”

Just a matter of fact conversation on the way home from school today…like germs are clothes or something.  I don’t usually give a lot of thought to germs and they don’t come up in normal conversations but when the kids are sick I mention them and tell them they should try not to share them.  Now Jack is very aware of Casey’s germs and he tries to stay away from them as much as possible.  She lavishes them on him anyway 🙂

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Casey got a tiny little porcelain doll from the treasure chest at school today.  (She loves Fridays at school.)  While we were at Subway for lunch she said, “This is a Russian doll.”  I asked her what she meant and she just keeps calling it the Russian doll.  Jack claims that an episode of Dora showed the Russian dolls that nest inside each other.  I’m not sure how Casey connected the two or if she even did.  But the Russian doll is hanging out with the princess royalty at the castle now and I think she’s enjoying her new home.

 

Toy Cabinet Organization

What follows is the long saga of what I thought would be a simple and quick home improvement project. But I’m proud that I did it all myself.

When we moved into our house, we had built in bookshelves and cabinets installed to either side of the fireplace.  They cabinets in the bottom have always been a great place to store a lot of the toys.  They each have a cabinet.  I’ve gone through several different ways of organizing things but in the last few months, I decided they needed a shelf to utilize a little more of the vertical space.

I figured I could probably tackle this project myself and some day around New Year’s I went to Lowe’s and picked out my shelving and had the nice man cut the pieces to my measurements.

The first problem is that the 1×10 boards that I purchased were not really 10 inches wide.  More like 9.  But I had the ledger boards for support cut to 10 inches.  They were an inch too long and I didn’t want them sticking out from under the shelf.

Also the shelves were just a bit too snug when I fit them in the cabinet.  I did a bunch of sanding and fitting and refitting until I thought they were good.  Then I put some satin finish polyurethane on my shelves.

The ledger boards sat there for quite a while, staring at me, waiting for me to find a solution for them.  I was hoping I might see my neighbor out who could just take an inch off with his saw really quickly.  No luck.

It took a couple weeks but it finally hit me that the simplest thing to do was to go back to Lowe’s and just buy another $2.50 1×2 and have the man cut it 9 inches instead of 10.  Oh, except this nice guy informed me that they can’t do cuts less than 12 inches.  That other guy must have been breaking the rules for me.

Plan B – I bought a miter box and saw.  I came home and hacked that 1 inch off those 4 ledger boards in about 10 minutes.  Kind of proud of myself but it cost more to buy the miter box & saw than it did to just buy a new piece of wood.

But then it got cold and I didn’t feel like adding the polyurethane to my ledger boards.  For a couple weeks.

It warmed up and I finally finished the polyurethane part.  Time to screw those ledger boards in and set up my shelves.

Except I guess the poly added a little too much width back to my shelves and they were too tight again. Or I never sanded them enough in the first place.

I got the circular saw out.  Told the kids to cover their ears.  Made some horrible cuts…one was very crooked and the other I wasn’t holding the saw level and the blade didn’t go through the wood all the way so I finished it with the hacksaw.  Jack asked me why it smelled like things were burning.  I got a little short with him.

They were ugly, which was kind of a disappointment.  But then I put them in the cabinets.  They fit and no one can see how ugly they are.  Case closed.  Or cabinet closed.  Or project finished.  The end.

Pictures…

This is Casey’s cabinet beforehand.  Not too bad.  I bought a bunch of $1 shoe containers just after Christmas to organize all her little things…dolls clothes, doll accessories, princess shoes, etc.

But she also had this bin full of (mostly naked) dolls that didn’t fit in the cabinet.

The after – It fits a lot more stuff in there.  It bothers me a little that the shelf is slightly too narrow for the four shoeboxes to fit perfectly across.  I can’t really make the cabinet wider though.  Although maybe dollar store has slightly narrower boxes.  

Jack’s cabinet wasn’t really in need of the extra space.  It basically looked like this but without the shelf.  But now it looks nicer.

And another Aha! moment.  These cute little license plates have been floating around inside the cabinets for years.  Why did I just figure out that I should stick them on the cabinet doors now?  But I’m glad it hit me and I like it!

Thus ends the long saga of my shelving project.  It really only took a couple hours of total time, but I managed to spread it out over a month or so and add some obstacles to make it more exciting.  And I’m very happy with the final results.

A Winter Trip to the Zoo

Last week, there was a nice warm afternoon and I asked the kids what they wanted to do.  I expected to hear “Play outside” or “Play hockey” but Jack suggested going to the zoo.  I was tired and I knew that if I hung around the house nothing would get done anyway, so going to the zoo sounded like a great idea…a real excuse for getting nothing done.

Before we could get out the door, I had to make Jack eat lunch.  While I was doing that, I got a phone call from a high school friend.  As we were chatting, Jack and Casey were doing their own type of chatting that was more like bickering.  Jack was slowing eating his lunch while Casey had already devoured hers.  It was taking Jack a while to eat because he kept getting out of his chair to growl at Casey who was (innocently, I’m sure) playing with her baby.  She started crying and said, “Jack’s trying to eat my baby.”  And so the next thing that comes out of my mouth (as I’m still on the phone) is, “Jack is not going to eat your baby!”  I’m sure it’s a rational fear every girl has of her growling brother.  

At that point, I was second guessing whether I wanted to take these squabbling kids to the zoo.  I didn’t want to bring any strollers and Casey was already whining about that.  But I finally ushered them to the car with water bottles and snacks and off we went.

It turned out to be so great.  They took turns picking which part of the park they wanted to go to next.  There were a lot of animals out and about.  There was no fighting.  They both walked the whole time and there wasn’t a single complaint.  It was just one of those afternoons where I truly enjoyed spending time with my kids and seeing the zoo from their point of view.

We also saw giraffes trying to mate…can’t really top that.  Well, actually the male giraffe desperately wanted to top that but she was playing hard to get.  At least that prevented anything more than a male anatomy discussion.

I wish I’d had my good camera with me, but the phone pics aren’t that bad.  Snakes, new red shoes (accidental picture), sibling love, several wooden cutouts to stick your head in and more sibling love.  On a sixty degree day in the middle of January.  Mating giraffes.  What’s not to love?  (Except I have no pictures of mating giraffes…I was too distracted to take pics I guess.)