Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sending summer off with a crafty shindig

Summer is officially over, and never has that meant more than now– Pudding Pie’s first week of kindergarten. I could veer off topic here and write screeds on this emotional milestone, but I will not. Instead, I’m going to talk about how we decided to end our summer of fun: with a no-holding-back, super-awesome craft party! 

We wanted to have a last hurrah with Pudding Pie’s preschool friends. (Not one of them is attending the same elementary school as PP – one of her BFFs moving to Warsaw, Poland, for goodness sake!) 

Anyhow, we were mulling over various ideas for a girly get-together – deciding against a pool theme, since we checked that one off with our beginning of summer bash – when the decision was made for us. We were lucky enough to be chosen as hosts for a Mommy Party with Creativity for Kids Craft Kits – yes!  

Earlier this month, not one, but two enormous boxes of fabulous craft kits arrived outside our front door, courtesy of Creativity for Kids. Pudding Pie could not contain herself – neither could her mom – we immediately began craft party planning. 

We chose to have our shindig at a local park, since we were anticipating plenty of ‘yes’ RSVPs. We made it to the park in the nick of time, Pudding Pie and I have a habit of being late for our own parties… 

We set up the tables: one long table with the crafts grouped into ‘stations.’ The fashion headbands station, the fashion braceIets station, the pop art necklaces station (PP loved these!), the Stuck-On-Fashion tote bags station, and of course, the take-home goody bag station.  We set up another long table with our yummy party snacks cheese scones, Lil’ Smokies sausages, and cheese on cocktail sticks, fruit trays, veggie trays and lots of juice and water of course. 

The scene was set; everything was perfect (aside from the sudden gusts of wind that decided to show up that day in a summer that has been filled with day after day of still, suffocating heat. But, aside from some frantically flapping tablecloths and a few runaway crafts, everything went well and the girls were in craft heaven.  
Never having hosted a craft party before, I did need to make some on-the-spot adjustments to my rigidly planned itinerary. This because I was quickly reminded that 5-year-olds do not do well with rigidly planned itineraries, especially when a feast of fun crafts is laid out in front of them.

My craft ‘stations’ were done away with when it became apparent that all crafters wished to participate in the same project at the same time. It was also quickly apparent that there were some strong color preferences when it came to colors of bangles, headbands etc.  with pink and purple as front runners. (Who would have guessed that 5-year-old crafty divas would face off over pink and purple bangles?!) With the help of ever-diplomatic moms, compromises were made, and the crafty fun continued on.  

I was impressed at how long the crafts held the girls’ attention. We were at it for a little over two hours, with a break in the middle to feed and water everyone. Everyone made at least one of every craft and it was incredibly sweet to see how proud they were of their finished products. With the pop art necklaces, even the previously disinterested younger siblings got in on the action. A modern version of the old bottle cap necklace, these are so fun to make! 
The fashion headbands required a little more dexterity – and patience and some of our group needed a little more help here, but they were all thrilled with their end results.

I thought the fashion bracelets would be the biggest challenge, but once the girls understood the process, they made several of these. I am trying to get Pudding Pie to donate me one of hers; she did such an awesome job! We began with the fashion totes and, once the girls had stickered up their totes to make them uniquely their own, we used them to store the growing stash of hot-ticket fashion accessories the crafters were churning out.
Once we had wrapped up our crafty event, the girls were worn out, but there were squeals of delight when each crafter received her take home crafts mini feather trinket boxes and truly awesome, fashion-themed coloring and activity books. These books feature vellum pages for tracing and high quality paper, so that little fashionistas can design with any media, from watercolors and pastels to crayons and pencils. Pudding Pie informs me that when she grows up, she will no longer be just a grocery store check out lady ("you know, the ones that have all the money") and a vet, and a cake baker, and a golfer; she is also going to design amazing (princess-themed) evening wear. This girl wears many hats...
The moms were pleased, too, since they received 20% off coupon codes toward scooping up more Creativity for Kids craft kits. Sweet.
We loved our Creativity for Kids Craft Kits and testing them out was a treat!  Whether you are buying for your own child, or looking for gifts, you can't go wrong with a product that so thoroughly engages and leaves the crafter feeling immensely pleased and proud over her end result!

Cuddle Cottage was given the opportunity through MomSelect  and Mommy Parties to host a craft party. All craft kit products were supplied by Creativity for Kids.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Rainbow Party

It has been three months since the event, but better late then never! The following is a quick post about Pudding Pie's fabulous rainbow-themed 5th birthday bash.

How do you fancy our rainbow banner? I think we had about 80 balloons in this! All balloons blown up the old school way by Mommy. Next time, I'm investing in one of those balloon pumps! I found a wonderful step-by-step tutorial on how to execute this at Design Mom.

The invitations and rainbow labels were custom designed by the super talented Heather of Chickabug.

I made the  rainbow cake, and although it had a rather severe tilt (6 layers will do that), I was so pleased with the end result. (My first time working with fondant, too!) My dear friend, Jackie, of 1derful Bakes, gave me a crash course in fondant decorating, and Pudding Pie decorated the top with edible markers. I wish I could say I came up with the rainbow cake recipe on my own, but I didn't. I have the Whisk Kid to thank for this found via Sweetapolita's fab site thank you, talented ladies!

Pudding Pie rocked her rainbow leotard from Jilly Beans (worn backwards as it turns out).

 The food was rainbow-themed wherever possible. Rainbow slice 'n bake cookies found via the Good Life Eats blog. My finished result did not exactly resemble hers, but I like to think it was close!

Rainbow treats galore!

So much fun! I do recommend the rainbow theme; the possibilities are endless. Your biggest problem will be where to stop!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

An Exchange of Notes
In which I learn that my daughter is more of a tour de force than I previously thought.

This afternoon, I am pounding away on my laptop, hoping to finish up some work before we must leave for my afternoon job. My daughter is listlessly rolling around on the bed, bored and not heeding repeated admonitions to stop the various activities she is engaging in to get my attention. I snap after she decides to unfasten my computer bag shoulder strap and use it as a lasso to catch our elderly cat. The cat beats a hasty retreat and I rebuke my child very sharply. Silence. Then, she gives me her intimidated/hurt/little-bit-defiant look and marches out of the room. Seconds later I hear her bedroom door slam shut. One ticked off five-year-old.

No problem now I can finish up work without the background interference. I resume working, but I feel bad. Did I have to be that sharp with her? I decide to smooth those ruffled feathers with a note pushed under her door. So I do, then I tap on the door, call out “special delivery!” and go back to work. This will make her happy again.

Exhibit A:
 My guilt alleviated and her good graces regained.

Except it doesn't quite work out this way. Some time later (hmm, longer than I thought it would take), she yells out “special delivery” herself and again I hear her door slam. This time, she’s left me a note outside her door.

Exhibit B:
Translation: “I don’t love you until you apologize”

What?! I am speechless at how she has skillfully turned this around. One crisp sentence with a clear message: You are in trouble with me, Mommy!  (And who knew she could string sentences together on paper like this?!)  She is right, an apology is in order.

Exhibit C:
 Mommy surrenders.

My second note is snatched from underneath the door. There is much sighing and sounding out of words (and a little help from the other side of the door). Then more sighing and sounding out of words as she crafts her response. Finally, the note is slid under the door and now I snatch it up (and do my own sighing and deciphering of words...).

Exhibit D:
Translation: “I love you my dad more than my mom  but mom I still love you mommy.”

Still nursing wounded feelings with a final, calculated zinger to mom's heart, but beginning to soften her stance...
What did I learn today? My frustrated rebukes go deeper than I thought. I am so lucky to have this smart, sensitive little girl to hold me accountable. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Ultimate Blog Party 2012!

Ultimate Blog Party 2012I'm so pleased! I'd thought I'd missed it, but I'm just managing to skid in before the official end of this year's Ultimate Blog Party, hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom

Here's a little share about me and my blog; I began this blog back in 2008, as a way to connect with other mom bloggers and to chronicle the bliss of being mom to my most adorable little girl (Pudding Pie). I write occasional product reviews and lately I've been considering veering off into making this an outlet for my resurgence of interest in baking and sewing. I've held off because I'm no gourmet cook, nor am I master sewer, but I've decided it will be a fantastic way to get feedback, improve and be inspired. So, in honor of the 6th UBP, here are my culinary and crafty and creations from the past 2 weeks: (drum roll...)

The Easter Cake - Vanilla with Lemon Buttercream and homemade marshmallow fondant!

A sundress for Pudding Pie - first time I've sewn in almost 2 decades! The dress turned out great, but I made some rather significant size miscalculations and it is way too big, so Pudding Pie will not be wearing it until next spring...

That's a little about me and my interests, I'd love your comments! And come join the fun! Visit 5 Minutes for Mom and celebrate their 6th UBP!

Monday, January 2, 2012

And that's a wrap...

December was a holly-jolly, sugar-loaded, carb-filled, dashing-all-over-the-place blur. Too much food; too many trips to the madhouse mall; a never-ending wish list for Santa from a certain junior member of the household; a cat with a newly-developed penchant for nibbling the branches of a fake Christmas tree – and then rewarding us in the wee hours with alarming retching sounds... You get the picture. But lots of fun all the same, and still my favorite time of year!

Now, all of a sudden, here we are on January 2nd, 2012, and I'm still trying to figure out where to put Pudding Pie's vast stash from Santa and how to quietly get rid of the last of the Christmas cookies and candy, so that my goal for a new year of health and fitness has at least a slim chance.

In spite of the excesses, we weren't completely terrible this festive season. You see, while our family indulged in way too much sugar this past month, we did go on a fab trip to Seaworld and, if you read my last post, you'll know what this means – we successfully completed our two-week Oral Care Challenge!

We did it!

Successful completion of the challenge meant that Pudding Pie, hubby, and myself had to brush, floss, and rinse every day, twice a day, for two weeks. It wasn't always pretty, and it wasn't glitch-free; but we did it, and we are so proud!

Actually, it was a wake-up call. Having to log our daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing activity made me see how often we allow 'rush jobs' or skip altogether the brushing and flossing parts because we're 'out of time', or more commonly, because we don't want to deal with a rather recalcitrant Pudding Pie.

For this challenge though, the rather recalcitrant Pudding Pie rose to the occasion quite magnificently. I am always amazed at the power of a chart. Once we'd taped up our daily progress chart for the challenge, she was all business. Of course it also helped having a bunch of new dental hygiene products to try out! Post-challenge, she has become a far better flosser (She loves the cool Reach flossing products we used!) and brusher, but she is still a very reluctant rinser. She is just not a fan of mouthwash, no matter who is on the label – even Barbie couldn't sway her. We came to a compromise by allowing her to rinse with just a teeny amount of the mouthwash. At least this way, she's rinsing, and I figure we're still laying the foundation for good dental habits.

Pudding Pie isn't the only one who has made progress. I've become a better rinser and this is because I've been using the Listerine Total care Zero mouthwash – zero alcohol – so great! I can't bear the taste of alcohol in mouthwash, unlike hubby who savors the way it makes his mouth feel and always opts for Listerine Antiseptic in the Cool Mint flavor.

When we began this oral care exercise, I wondered how we'd fare during the challenge and afterwards. I'm so proud of how we stuck with the challenge and I'm happy to report that our two weeks of concentrated effort are paying off long-term, too. The other evening, I told Pudding Pie to pick out her pjs and get ready for bed. She did. (Amazing.) Then, she headed for the bathroom, squeezed toothpaste onto her Barbie toothbrush and began brushing. (Stupendously amazing.) Pudding Pie is moving on from the notion that dental hygiene is optional, and this is a very good thing.

Pudding Pie Sums It All Up.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Listerine and received a sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.