28 January 2014

First Snowfall

Our first snowfall was well over a month ago. We got dumped on in December and have hardly seen any snow in January. I'm not complaining one bit. Snow is not exactly my favorite.

But somehow, when those first flurries begin to appear at the beginning of each winter, the boys' pure excitement sucks me right in with them. Maybe even for a full day. And then when I remember how it takes a half hour to get everyone bundled up in snow gear, they only last a short while outside, and then all of the snow-packed articles of clothing are tracked back into the house leaving sopping puddles in each room, I'm over it.

Still, there is something magical about the first snowfall. 








24 January 2014

Pirate Party - Part Three

The final post of the pirate party series is all about the fun that was had.

If I had one gripe about winter birthdays, it would be that nothing can take place outside (okay, I have lots of gripes about birthdays that fall near Christmas). 

But we made do with the space we had (and poor lighting for that matter). And I don't think the kids minded being confined one bit; birthday parties bring out all sorts of energy regardless of the setting.


I set up a mini photo booth with all sorts of pirate accessories. Each guest got to take home a bandana and eye patch in his or her treasure bag and pose with additional props.

Since the female guests outnumbered the male guests, I made sure to be well stocked in pink bandanas.









I couldn't resist letting Crew join in on the fun.


The female guests were especially enthralled with Crew.



I think it's safe to say that Blake's first official birthday party was a success. That is some pure glee on his face.

23 January 2014

Pirate Party - Part Two

Blake's pirate party was both a first time birthday celebration for him and for his master planner, a.k.a. me. (Part one is here.) I was worried about entertaining 14 young children for two hours, so I planned lots of activities to keep them occupied.

First off was cookie decorating. Originally, I thought I'd have my cookie queen friend make beautiful ships and pirate faces to add to the display table. But she came up with the idea of having the kids decorate their own treasure maps on cookies. As hard as it was to pass on her cookie masterpieces, I agreed that allowing each child to paint his or her own treasure map would be a perfect activity.

Each child received an edible paint palate, a blank treasure map cookie and a paintbrush.

I set out the cookies on treasure map placemats to give the kids some ideas about what to paint.

It was so much fun to see how unique each cookie turned out. And after they added their dashed treasure map lines that led to the X, they loved being able to eat their masterpieces. Blake actually took little nibbles around the edges for days because he didn't want to destroy his hard work.

We had a cannonball launch where Troy bounced ping pong balls and the kids tried to catch them in buckets.

And what would a pirate party be without a plank to walk? 

Blake helped me paint on all the letters.

I hid clues all over the house for our treasure hunt. The kids became master riddle solvers as they figured out where each clue was hidden.

Finally, they found the final clue that led them to the treasure chest.

Each child received a treasure bag filled with Pirate's Booty, stickers and a skull and crossbones hand stamper.

But there was one more thing they had to add to their loot. Gold doubloons, of course. Blake's birthday tradition is to pop balloons with darts. Usually I fill the balloons with candy, however, it seemed fitting to fill the balloons with gold coins for the pirate party.

Throwing those darts and watching the balloons explode and send gold coins flying everywhere was a definite highlight of the party.

21 January 2014

Pirate Party - Part One

Way back during the first week of December, Blake turned six.

He had five previous birthdays come and go with no parties aside from small gatherings with family. I usually feel too guilty about asking his friends' families to take up precious time celebrating his birthday during the month of December, let alone have to worry about another present.

But this year, his birthday fell on a Saturday. The convenient date combined with the fact the he was past due for his first official party with friends was enough to get the wheels spinning in my head. For as much as I love throwing parties, it is pretty amazing that I made it six years without entering the realm of kids' birthday parties.

We decided on a pirate themed party based on Blake's love for his Halloween costume last year.

We delivered handmade ship invitations to his cute friends.


Then, the party set up began.

I tried to think of food that four to six year olds would enjoy. One of the biggest hits was Uncrustables (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) stamped with edible ink.

They thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the options as well. Phew.







I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning the night before the party to finish up the details, but I didn't mind one bit because I was kind of in my element. As much fun as it was to set up the lunch table, planning activities for Blake's guests was even better. Stay tuned for more.

20 January 2014

Ice Castles

It has been three years since the ice castles were built in one of our favorite little towns in the mountains. The structures originated at a nearby resort and became so popular that they expanded to many more locations across the US. We were so happy when we heard they were coming back to their roots this year. 

The only thing about their popularity is that they draw much bigger crowds than they used to. It was a tad more fun to visit when they were this secret gem tucked away that no one knew about. Now, everyone goes to the ice castles. Not that I blame them. They really are majestic and if I didn't have my three four cold and whiny boys in tow, I could have stayed and taken pictures all day (and night when they were all aglow).


It was a bit slippery.

The boys adored all the tunnels they added for them to crawl through.






Look who was hiding in one of the ice castles.

Boys with cold hands in pockets. Ready for me to put my camera down and get out of the winter wonderland, despite its beauty.