I took Friday off from work and Mom and I worked our tails off to get this party together. At first Jacob wanted a Pirate party. Since Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Sofia the First are popular pairings, I thought it would be easy to pull off. THEN, around December, he decided he really wanted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party. Argh…how would I combine the two? Well, Kate came up with the best name ever: Turtles and Tiaras.

As always, the thought of kids running around my house with no structure scares the bejesus out of me, so we again created stations. This was a little more complicated this year because the number of kids, so I decided to split them up: girls and boys.

Station 1: As the kids arrived they went to the coloring station. I had TMNT coloring pages and Sofia the First coloring pages. We called this “Turtles and Tiaras Art Studio.

Station 2: Secret Sewer Lair: The boys were outside and put on their turtle shells and grabbed their numchucks. Hayden and Adam were supposed to lead them in moves as a ninja–but apparently they just wanted to run around and be silly. There was also a small piece of construction equipment across the street, so that totally entertained the boys!

Royal Prep Academy: The girls stayed inside and decorated their wands. They also had their fingernails painted.

Station 3: Bounce Houses: We borrowed a princess castle bounce house from our neighbors. Combined with our bounce house, there was enough space for all the kids to jump their hearts out.

For the first time, I outsourced some of the party duties. I had a coworker design the invitation, and a high school friend baked the cake, cupcakes, and cake pops. Since I was essentially planning a double party, I just didn’t see how I would have time to do all the baking! The invitation came out great, and the cakes were moist and beautifully decorated–just as I imagined. Thanks, Three Monkeys Cakery.


(On this video, it fades to white toward the end. It is the end of the slideshow…not sure why we get white space for a while.)

And here is the end result of all the hard work!

Running Wild at the Zoo in the morning.

Running Wild at the Zoo in the morning.

Getting ready for the party!

Getting ready for the party!

I couldn’t post these pictures last week because we were preparing for Gia’s surprise Retirement Party. I could explain away the furniture moves, the party supplies around the house (the kids’ party IS coming up), but I couldn’t explain why we were making candies so early. I’m happy to report, the party was a success and a SURPRISE!

Unwrapping candies for a surprise party.

Unwrapping candies for a surprise party.

The finished product!

The finished product!

Taking the labels off the bottles so we could put our own labels on.

Taking the labels off the bottles so we could put our own labels on.

On Saturday we headed out to Snickers Gap Tree Farm to cut down our tree. This is the same farm where we cut down our tree in 2010…then went the artificial route for a few years. That poor pre-lit tree has strands out, is a little droopy, and a just a little too short for a house. It was perfect when I bought it about eight years ago for the condo, but times have changed.

Jacob was very excited to pick out a tree. I kept asking him if the young, short trees were good, but he knew we needed one taller than him. Harper, however, hated every minute of the trip. I finally took a few pictures of her attached to my leg just to prove she was actually there. During the outing Lydia told me her family never puts up a tree, so this experience was new for her. I’m glad we could go, as a family, and create this memory.

Now Mr. Perfect Tree is sitting in a bucket of water in our garage. We are getting the first floor of the house painted over the next few days, so we can’t start decorating yet. I’m hoping we can being trimming the tree on Wednesday or Thursday. Let the Christmas season begin!

I was saying today how thankful I was that we don’t have to travel this week. Seeing the traffic on the roads, dealing with the weather, and the overall stress of traveling with two kids is something I’ll happily pass on this year. So, to take it easy, I drove around all day–for over five hours. When I thought about it, I was sad I wasn’t somewhere much cooler than NoVa. See, today I was the medical taxi. After not being able to drive for about six weeks, and relying on family and friends to get around town, I finally have my freedom back. Hayden had a dentist appointment and my father had a doctor appointment and they both needed me to drive.

On the way home Hayden and I stopped at Harris Teeter for some last-minute items to complete our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow: mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. I hate Harris Teeter, but I knew today was not a day to “run in” to Wegmans. And I was right. As I was sitting in the car waiting on Hayden’s prescriptions, I saw on my Facebook feed that Wegmans was a crazy town. I was happy to get in and out for my bacon, sour cream, and cheese.

When we got home Jacob was very excited. He knew after nap today was when he could help with making the potatoes. He and Harper helped a lot…and only made a small mess. I’ll gladly clean up the mess if it means they are in the kitchen helping me cook. Here are some pictures of them helping. (And yes, he does get dressed. But the MOMENT he knows we are in the house for the night, out come the jammy-jams)!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

It’s been building for months. We’ve talked about it non-stop. We spun webs, we painted cardboard, we created a tutu. We sang the Spiderman theme song and we dressed up in our Spiderman suits every day after school. None of us could believe the time had finally come. IT WAS SPIDERMAN BIRTHDAY TIME!


I’m a fan of “stations” at parties at our house. Nothing scares me more than kids running around unstructured for two hours. That’s how things break; that’s how my nerves shatter. Thanks to Pinterest, I had a ton of ideas to pull from. And thanks to Hayden, the Silhouette I received for Christmas was running non-stop every weekend in February and March.

As people were arriving and I was frantically finishing the last minute details of the food, Hayden told me, “You better get your camera. You NEED to have your camera in your hand.” I had no idea what he was talking about…did he hire someone to come dressed as Spiderman? And if any of you know our friends…my thought went immediately to Sedric. At least, I hoped that was the friend who dressed up and not some others (no offense, Hayden’s friends 😉 ). As I was standing around, bewildered, with my camera in my hand I heard a voice. A familiar voice. And then I saw this:


Dad was supposed to be home from a work trip around the second week of April. He had flown home, surprised everyone, and made it for Jacob’s party. It brought tears to my eyes and made the party start off with a bang.

As the guests arrived they went to the “Create Your Identity” station. I made masks for the kids and had foam stickers and crayons for them to decorate them. I also bought red capes at Target for each kid.


After they had their super hero identity created, we headed outside for the “Super Hero Training Camp.” You can’t unleash your super hero until there’s proper training.

DSC_9977 DSC_9983

After the Super Heroes were certified, they headed to the “Leap Tall Buildings” station, where they burned off some energy until it was time to eat.


Overall, I think everyone had a great time. I know Jacob and Harper did (as did Hayden and I). And with the Facebook “yard sale” groups we have in the neighborhood, I was able to sell what was left of the masks, the capes, and the birthday banner for a little moolah.

*My computer won’t save the whole slideshow at once: it’s too big and I have too much stuff on my computer. So here are the pictures broken up into stages. Enjoy.

Last year’s neighborhood egg hunt was a disaster. The big kids pushed the little kids, parents were boxing out other kids, and the eggs were gone before anyone knew it. This year, the neighborhood changed tactics. A new walking trail opened and we took a trip down the “Bunny Trail.” We signed up for a time slot, so people were staggered. Along the route were fun activities for the kids and at the end was the egg hunt. They replenished the eggs throughout the day, so there were always a lot of eggs to find. There was also a 20 egg limit per kid–which is more than enough plastic eggs filling up my house. They also had a petting zoo at the end, which was a big hit (Llama Llama Mad at Momma, as Jacob called her).

I tried to get a picture of both kids…but that was impossible. I also had a few pictures of Jayde in there, but I couldn’t ever get all three looking at me at the same time.

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