Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Family-friendly AND Christ-friendly Easter

Happy Easter (a few days early)!

It's Holy Week, a very important time in the Christian calendar, and one of my favorite holidays! Let's take a moment to celebrate the Good News we will hear on Sunday -- Christ is Risen!

I wanted to share the ways we've decorated and celebrated around our house and hopefully give you a few ideas for sharing the Easter story with young children. And, I'm offering my Easter chalkboard printable for only $1 on my Etsy shop this week! Scroll to the last image and click the link to go get yours now!

I think you can focus on Christ at Easter and still decorate with cute, secular seasonal decor.
Especially if you have a two-year-old!
It's great to get the kids involved with decorating and celebrating, and working on something together provides a nice time to explain the reason behind the holiday! Jacob is only two, so we stuck with a couple of pretty simple crafts this year -- coloring this bunny and dyeing some eggs.
I mixed religious and more secular decor, and I think it's a sweet and festive mantle :)
Use your Palm Sunday palms as decoration! And explain the Palm Sunday story to the children, while you're at it. Jacob enjoyed waving the palms at church on Sunday, and later I made a cross out of one (which I learned how to do as a child and still do every year). This was a good visual for him, and he now knows that a cross means "Jesus loves me!"
I used my own printable chalkboard art, and I hope you will, too :)
We created a centerpiece with some speckled eggs I already had and the eggs Jacob dyed. I bough the "Plastic Decorating Eggs" from Walmart, and they turned out very pastel, but I think that's pretty. I thought we'd try plastic ones this year, so he couldn't smoosh and break them, and also because these were his first Easter eggs, and I thought I may want to save some as keepsakes ;) The Peter Rabbit napkins are left from my baby shower over two years ago, and I thought this was the perfect time to use them, since Jacob loves Peter lately. And of course, you must have jelly beans!
And here's the digital image of my printable sign! Please visit my shop and download it for only ONE dollar, and share the Good News that Christ is Risen indeed! Thank you :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Toddler Truths Tuesdays

I need to remember to write down more of the funny things Jacob says, since I'm always racking my brain to remember his "toddler truths" each Tuesday! Luckily, he gave my some fodder for today's post this morning:

He's not feeling very well -- took an almost-three-hour nap yesterday and still slept in today. I went in to his room around 8:15 (after he had moved and talked for a few minutes but hadn't gotten out of bed) and sat down on the edge of the bed. I said my usual, cheerful "good morning" things ("I love you...Did you sleep well?...Want to go downstairs and get your milk?" etc.), and he goes:

"Too early, mama. Lay in bed wif me" (He usually gets up around 7:30-8, so it wasn't actually early.)

"Okay, I said, want me to read you a story?"

He nodded, so I started reading, and he interjected, "Stop reading. I go sweep."

I feel bad for the little guy, but it was pretty entertaining. Perhaps this was a preview of his teenage years?? Except for the laying in bed with him part -- doubt he'll let me do that ;)

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Curious George Birthday Party

Jacob turned two about a week ago! I can't believe my baby is not so much a baby as a little boy, but I'm having a blast with him each day! Sure, we're in the height of the "terrible twos" (I think his started early!), so there are definitely tantrums, but this is really the sweetest, cutest age, too. He still needs mommy a lot, but he's constantly learning and exploring his world and amazing us as he does. He says some of the funniest things. Actually, he says pretty much everything (whether we want him to or not...) ;)

I blogged about all the party preparations a while back, and now I want to share how the party turned out! We did Curious George theme  with primary colors (a mixture of the Classic George, since Jacob loves the books, and also the "TV George," because he LOVES the show on PBS). I think it turned out pretty adorable :)

crepe paper weaving on the stairs / table in the front entryway / photo banner in the dining room

The front table held goodie bags, hats, and coloring books for Jacob's friends, his "favorites/milestones chalkboard," the party invitation, a photo book of his second year, and a cute Birthday George. The chalkboard and invitation designs can be found in my shop. For the staircase decor, I wove four colors of crepe paper streamers among the banisters and embellished with scanned images (printed on card stock) from his Curious George books -- a very  cheap, easy way to add a lot of color to your party!
Toddlers in party hats are the cutest! Of course, they don't stay on long.
The best we could do at getting four toddlers to sit together for a photo ;)
family room decor -- a coloring poster for the kiddos to stay busy, George toys and books to play with, balloons (all the kids' favorite part!), and the birthday banner I designed and made (find the template here in my shop)
more details -- more views of the family room, the cake (baked and decorated by Jacob's grandma, bunting by me), George paper goods, and my little "yellow hat" place settings (thanks, Pinterest!)
the food spread -- a colored table cloth, themed paper goods, bright straws, and cute napkins added fun and festive details!

The party food included banana pops (frozen banana thirds, dipped in chocolate), fruit salad in waffle cones, Curious George fruit snacks, colorful goldfish, "cookie dough dip" with animal crackers, a veggie plate, relishes, Gerber banana cookies, BBQ meatballs, a cheese & cracker plate, several candy dishes and of course cake and ice cream. Lots of color and kid-friendly options are must-haves for a toddler party!

Jacob's friend Jane loving the cake and ice cream!

He wanted Aunt Charly to help open allll the presents!
Grandma & Papa passed down Daddy's old rocking chair -- so cute :)
Fire Chief gear from Great-Grandma -- he LOVES everything fire truck related right now!
...which made his big gift from Grandma & Grandpa so perfect!
We had a great day, and we are so appreciative of our great family and friends! We love that Jacob has such cute little buds who could celebrate with him, too! The party was super cute, but it was also very special because we have such a loved little boy :) Thankful for our many blessings.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Look Whoo's Having a Baby Boy!

I love baby showers. The mom-to-be is always glowing (they're usually hosted before those last few, uncomfortable weeks!) and there's so much anticipation about baby. What will the name (and sometimes even the sex) be? When will he/she arrive? How big will he/she be? It's a celebration of new life, and baby things are just SO adorable. Plus, there are always a few fun games (even if they're a little cheesy) and lots of delicious food. What's not to love?

Many of my friends either have babies or toddlers or are just starting to have children, and that means lots of baby showers! My friend Jen and I threw this one for our college friend, Molly, a couple of weeks ago, and it was so much fun! We were all Kappa Kappa Gammas, and one of the symbols for our sorority is owls. Since owls are cute for a baby theme and so popular right now, we decided to run with it and have a "Look Whoo's Having a Baby?" shower. Molly is having a little boy, so we chose a color palette of blues/greens/browns and headed to Pinterest! I offered to design the invitation and any printables we would use -- games, decor, etc. I came up with a pretty sweet little party package (listed here in my Etsy shop), and those colors and designs helped us keep everything tied together throughout the shower. I took plenty of photos throughout the process and before the shower, so you can re-create as much as you like, or pick and choose which ideas might work for your own shower!

My "Inspiration Board" after I'd designed most of the printables and Jen & I had pinned like crazy on Pinterest.
The invitation design! I printed them via VistaPrint and was able to upload my own design and also matching backside (the blue). We included the raffle tickets with the invitations (just printed and cut at home).

A welcome sign (which I cut out and mounted on card stock and scrapbook paper), circles that could be used to make favor tags, cupcake toppers, a mini-garland/banner, etc., and cards for our "Words of Wisdom" Tree (see details below)!
We simply printed the cards on card stock, punched holes, and tied ribbon. Then, guests were to write their "words of wisdom" (new mom advice) for Molly and hang the cards on the "tree" :)
We just used branches from my willow tree in a decorative pitcher, and it came together nicely.
I made the little chalkboard sign with an unfinished wooden framed "chalkboard" (really just gray paint, I think) and two coordinating washi tapes -- so easy and cheap!
They make the cutest tapes (found these at Walmart), and you can see that it they matched our colors perfectly.
Jen had the idea to use the circles I had designed as favor tags (in addition to the cupcake toppers I'd originally planned) -- it was a great idea to mix up the look of the favor bags! The favors were just little Target dotted paper bags filled with green and blue jelly beans (they were egg-like and went well with the theme and colors).
A close up of the cupcake toppers! We printed the circles on card stock, cut them out, and taped a toothpick in between two of them to make each topper. Please excuse the slightly jagged cutting -- I think I should invest in a 2.5" round punch! 
My banner design, as it looked on the computer screen. You can buy this design in my shop, or I can make you an entirely custom banner design :)
materials for the banner assembly -- tape, some twine, and little metal brads (I happened to have them in a coordinating color -- that was just lucky!) 
First you print the pennants, cut them out (more cutting!), and cut larger triangles of coordinating scrapbook paper (or card stock). Then, tape (or glue) all the pennants to their backgrounds.
Use the brads to connect the pennants. I have seen this done with twine/yarn/ribbon, etc., but I've found that banners hang very nicely and look really clean when they are connected with brads. It's totally up to you!
I did use twine for the ends, as I like the look of it to tie up the banner and hang loose at the ends of a mantle (or wherever you'd like to put it).
The finished product on the day of the shower!

Another random little detail for the shower -- I thought I'd run with the owls theme and scan some of the owl-related artwork from some of Jacob's children's books. Owls are very popular in baby and kiddie lit., it seems! I just created a quick little collage of the images in Photoshop, printed it as an 8x10" photo at Walgreens, and framed it in a simple frame to use as shower decor and also to give to Molly for her nursery :)
The last printable (also a part of the whole package on Etsy) was a fun Mad Libs game. It was Jen's idea to do this game, and we decided Mad Libs never get old. Guests completed the words list in groups of 3-5 (without seeing the story), and then we asked Molly to read the stories aloud for the group's entertainment! We just had three groups, so if you had a larger shower, you may want to have the guest of honor read the story once and just have groups call out their answers.
Molly was forced to read about some very interesting labor and delivery scenarios she might have to look forward to ;)
And here are some collages of all the shower details as they looked when we brought everything together that day! Jen and I live a couple of hours apart, so we each did our own portions and didn't show each other much before the day of the party. It all came together well, and we had such a nice day celebrating Molly and her baby-boy-to-be!

The flowers were simple Kroger bouquets divided among several vases. The whites/greens/yellows looked so fresh and springy (although the day felt wintery). The turquoise basket held prizes that guests could pick if Molly was opening their gift when a timer sounded (I think we set it for every 5 min.). 
Jen did a great job with all the paper goods, the punch, and a lot of the food -- her hummus cups, fruit cones, and Asian cole slaw were popular! We just ordered cupcakes (so easy for a shower where you have to travel), and I also made the little birds' nests for dessert.
the "Words of Wisdom," Diaper Raffle, and game areas (Another quick and easy game we did was have guests guess how many eggs were in the jar -- the winner took home the jar of candy!)
Jen and I with the mom-to-be!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Toddler Truths Tuesdays

I've been a bad blogger lately -- super busy! I will post more later on a baby shower that I co-hosted over the weekend, but here's a quick toddler truth. This one deserves to stand alone:

Yesterday I was driving to my in-laws' house for dinner, and Daddy sat in the back with Jacob to talk to him about his day (we went to the Chicago Children's Museum!). They chatted for a few minutes, and then Jacob gazed out the window.

All of a sudden, he said, "Love you so much, Dad."

It was so sweet and sounded so grown-up. Then came the kicker. Daddy asked if he loved mommy, too, and he goes:

"Love Mommy so [pause] ...most!"

Awww. Melt my heart. I love him "so most", too!