Sunday, August 3, 2014

NEW COMMAND CENTER

For some time, I have been wanting a Command Center.  Since my boys are now both going to be in school all day every day, and they are becoming more involved in separate extra curricular activities, I thought now would be the time - shortly before the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

This is what I had last year.  It worked, but each "day" space was small - I sometimes had a hard time fitting everything in.


I definitely needed something bigger - and thats what I got...

My New and Improved, Bigger and Better - Command Center

It's located in our kitchen on the wall that leads in from our side entrance.  A wall that isn't really good for anything since it's in a high traffic pathway.

I loved all the ones I had seen on Pinterest using the large chalkboards, but since the walls in our kitchen are paneled, I didn't think the chalkboard would look right.  So I thought Dry Erase instead.  My original idea was to get 42 4x6 frames - one for each day, plus the SMTWTFS labels.  Even at Dollar Tree, that was getting expensive.  Then I realized I could use 8x10 frames, and get four days per frame.  I would only need 12 frames that way - way cheaper.  How excited was I when I got to Dollar Tree yesterday and found these 9x9 Square frames?

I then headed to Hobby Lobby and got the coordinating gingham check and chevron patterned papers.

I knew I would have space to the right of the calendar due to the light switch being there, so of course it had to be filled.  

I wanted something to be able to put appointment cards on, so while I was at the Dollar Tree, I also got a metal, electric stove, burner cover.  I painted the edges black, Mod-Podged some leftover paper on the face, and had gotten a few magnets - and voila a Magnet Board for my Appointment Cards.  That cute little plaque at the top that says "Appts." is also a magnet, and it's a chalkboard.  I got it at Target - love it!!

From all the Command Centers I saw on Pinterest, the one feature that I knew I really needed was something to corral all the boy's paperwork from school.  All last year, those papers kept getting lost and forgotten on my desk - I needed somewhere for them to go.
Hence the clipboards... These two items were the most expensive part of the project.  I found them at Staples and they were $5 a piece.  I could have saved six bucks and just got brown masonite ones, but I really wanted clear ones.  But one thing I didn't like about them was the Staples logo stamped into the metal clip - so I covered the logos up with little initial plaques.  And just in case I forgot what my little men look like, I hung little photos of them.

When I was at Hobby Lobby getting the paper, of course I had to wander around.  Because seriously, you can't go into Hobby Lobby for just one thing - right?  During my wandering, I ran across the "Bless our Home" metal sign - and it was 50% off.  So it came home with me.  It's the perfect finishing piece, don't you think?

I Love my new Command Center, and look forward to putting it to good use!!

Did I mention that I LOOOOVE it?  Oh yeah, I Love my new Command Center!!!!


Friday, June 20, 2014

FATHER'S DAY 2014

This year for Father's Day, we decided to get a little crafty.  Ever since I started my addiction to Pinterest, I have been seeing "Sharpie" art on Coffee Mugs, so I thought this would be the perfect time to give it a try.

First, I found these fabulous mugs at Walmart.  From everything I read, cheap mugs work best.

Then after gathering my collection of Sharpies, I let the boys go to town - using their creativity and imagination.

We completed the artwork on a Thursday, and then did the baking the following Monday (had to wait for days that Daddy wasn't home).  Which worked out great, because the tutorials I had read said to wait at least 24 hours before putting them in the oven.

Here are the completed mugs (before baking).

*Note:  After the baking process, the colors did fade.  Everything done in black was fine, the colors - not so much.

Then this is how we packaged them.  

I had seen this idea, but with a necktie.  Well, their daddy doesn't wear neckties, he wears bow ties - so that's what we did!  And then, I had to add buttons, of course.

Daddy LOVED his new Special Coffee Mugs from his boys!!

These are the tips that I followed for this project.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

ROAD TRIP!!!!!

Back in April, for Spring Break, we road tripped to New Orleans to visit my husband's family.  We hadn't been there in four years, so the idea of being in the car, for LONG hours, with my now 4 and 6 year old boys was FRIGHTENING!!  I knew this time, I HAD. TO. BE. PREPARED!!!!

So, I visited Pinterest, a lot.  I got lots of good advice, and lots of good ideas.  From all that information and inspiration, this is what I put together for MY survival.

First, we ordered two Kindle Fire's, and set up Kindle Free Time on both of them.  These are the first electronic devices we've allowed the boys to have, and I wanted them as Back-Up for when everything else got "old".  And I will say, on the way down to NOLA, they were on them very little.  On the way back home, they were on them more.  Mostly because, rather than doing the trip in two days (like we did on the way down), we really pushed them, and did the entire trip in ONE day - 15 HOURS!!  They did awesome!

Second, I made a "Busy Box".  This box was made to hold all the little goodies I collected for them to keep them entertained - and it sat on the seat between their booster seats.
I made it using an Eggo Waffle box (big one from Sam's Club).  I then created a divider for the middle using a piece of cardboard, held in place with duct tape.  Then I covered the entire thing with some fabric I had on hand - using spray adhesive.  And just to jazz it up a little more, I cut out, using my Cricut, the saying "Are We There Yet?", and glued it to the front.

In addition to the Busy Box, I also made two Lap Desks.  
I found two dry-erase boards at Walmart on clearance for $2 each.  To create the padded bottom, I used a piece of cardboard, and a piece of scrap fabric.  I wrapped the fabric loosely around the cardboard and stuffed it with plastic grocery bags.  Once I had it stuffed to my liking, I glued the fabric to the cardboard, then glued the cardboard to the underside of the dry-erase board - all with spray adhesive.

I also made sure they both had neck pillows for when they napped.  
Note, these were never used (while napping).  They are just too big for the napper to be comfortable when using them while sitting in a full back booster seat.

Now for the "Goodies" in the Busy Box...

I bought two clipboards so they would each have an additional hard surface for writing on.
On these clipboards, I placed a map of the United States, and highlighted the route of our trip.

I also bought two folders, a bunch of pencils, Post-Its, and fun little erasers.
Inside the folder, I placed a bunch of fun Car Games that they could play.  To be honest, we really never played any of them - I think because the boys are both still too young.  When we make this trip again in a couple of years, these games, I'm sure, will provide hours of entertainment - well maybe not "hours", but more than they did on this trip.

I also had, for each boy, a notebook, pipe-cleaners, new box of crayons, new coloring book, stickers, new sunglasses, and a couple of little toys.


The notebook, along with the next item probably entertained them the most.  They really enjoyed drawing and writing and placing stickers in them.

Another thing I made, were these cute Coloring Cases.
Using a couple of old DVD cases, and following the instructions found here, I created these kits so they could have fun with their drawing.

Another great idea (or so I thought) that I found, was using plastic shower containers hung on the windows.
These were to be used so they could put their toys or pencils or crayons or whatever in them, to hopefully help them from dropping things on the floor.  And yes, they did work for that.  The problem was, when my husband would check for traffic when changing lanes, he would see them in his peripheral and think it was a car.  So we ended up taking them down, so he could safely drive.

Now this last thing... was the BEST one I did - a Trip Timeline.

A piece of clothesline, that had 15 equally spaced tic-marks across it's width, was tied across the ceiling in the back seat.  Then I had two clothes-pins - one with a car on it and one with a house on it (to mark the destination).  The idea being that every hour of the trip, the "Car" got moved one tic-mark.  The boys LOVED this!!!  And I SWEAR, it did seem to make the trip go by FASTER!!

ALL of my preparation, did make for a Very Smooth trip, and MY survival.
I had two Happy Little Travelers!!

Go here to visit the Pinterest board where I pinned all the inspiration for this post.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A STAR WARS 5TH BIRTHDAY...

Two years ago, my oldest son turned 5, and I went ALL OUT and planned an Over The Top Fishing themed party for him.  As soon as it was over, I knew that 20 short months later, I would have to plan another party for my youngest son, who would then be turning 5.  Well that 20 month deadline arrived a week and a half ago, and because I am my mother, who always did everything Even Stephen for me and my sister, so I do everything Even Stephen for my boys, I went ALL OUT again, and planned an Over the Top Star Wars party.

After two months of planning, it all came to fruition....

I kept a notebook so I could keep organized and on track.  These are pages 2 and 3 of twenty pages of notes.  The first page was the guest list, and these pages were my brainstorming ideas.  Once I had a clear idea of what I would be doing, then each category had it's own page.  Then there were pages of To Do Lists.  Then pages of shopping lists.  The last page was the Order of Events for the day.  All Organized, and Everything got crossed off.  

I know.  I'm crazy!


A month before the party, I pretty much had everything figured out, but couldn't get started on anything because we were about to spend Spring Break in New Orleans.  And I had a lot to prepare for that trip (15 hour road trip (one way) with two boys 4 & 6 - that Post coming soon.  So, as soon as we got back, I got to work - first, on the Invitations.  I found lots of inspiration on Pinterest - from basic postcard invites to Light Sabers, but I really wanted to design something original.  

I decided to go with the Death Star.

From the inspiration I collected, however, I did word the invitation using Yoda language.


Whenever I make invitations, I always have all my parts and pieces first, and then I have an assembly line type strategy for putting them all together.  I made 18 of these, and they went out in the mail three weeks before the party.

After checking The Weather Channel every day for the previous week, and worrying about the possibility of rain, the day finally arrived - we were blessed with absolutely Gorgeous weather.

I couldn't sleep, so I was up early doing one last crafty thing that I didn't think I would have time for, but due to insomnia, I did - YAY!.  Then my Mom and I set about getting all the food ready (mostly just assembling - no cooking) and setting everything up.

So here it is...

A STAR WARS 5TH BIRTHDAY PARTY!!

First, the Cake.  I always seem to do cupcakes rather than an actual cake.  It's way easier for me, and easier for the guests.  So three Light Sabers it is.  This is the cake table.


The Birthday Boy LOVED it!!


I baked two batches of cupcakes, because I needed 33 cupcakes for the Light Sabers. So, I had to do something with the other 15 - Storm Trooper Guards.  I had also made a batch of these earlier in the week for the Birthday Boy to take to school to share with his classmates.


My one and only original idea... Tie-Fighters.  These are what I got up and made at a@*-o-clock in the morning the day of the party.  I wanted to hang something over the cake, so I came up with these - just balloons with some chipboard attached to them.  I cut out the shapes, drew the details with chalk and then stuck them to the balloons with double-sided tape.  They were hung from the ceiling with fishing line.


The Snack table...  Notice the photo bomber to the left?  That's the Birthday Boy!


I really wanted to make some type of bunting for hanging over the table, but because of how our house is positioned on a slight hill, the possibility for a lot of wind is high.  Bunting, or anything hanging would have been all over the place.  Luckily, we had really no wind that day, but I didn't take any chances.  I created this sign using a sheet of plywood, a black plastic tablecloth and some letters I cut out with my Cricut.


The Darth Vader mask was borrowed from a friend, and the "5" is paper mache from Hobby Lobby.  I used Mod-Podge to adhere the star paper, from which I had cut out the "Star Wars" with an exacto knife.

This was my most favorite thing that I found on Pinterest, and knew as soon as I saw it that I would be doing it for this party - Hans Solo in Carbonite Jello.  
However, from all the photos that I saw of this online, all the figurines were suspended in perfectly smooth Jello.  I could not for the life of me figure out how they did that.  Every time I tried to place Hans in the Jello, he would float to the top.  I kept trying at different stages of solidity - but ended up waiting too long.  When I finally got him to stay under the surface, the jello around him was no longer smooth.  So, I went with that concept and roughed up the entire surface.  To be honest, I think it looked better and more like the Carbonite - just sayin!

Along with the Jello, there were also Tie Fighters - tortilla chips and cheese cubes, held together with cream cheese...


Edible Ewoks - Teddy Grahams...

and Kenobi Kabobs - fruit skewers.  I was quite shocked that these were probably the most popular snack item.  I mean, they're healthy - whaaat???

The drink table included three tasty beverages.  First, Yoda Soda - 7-Up and Lime Sherbert...


Vader-Ade - Blue Koolade...

and of course, Blue Milk!  As yummy as this looks, no one was adventurous to try it :( LOL!

Despite the Blue Milk, the snack and drink tables seemed to be a hit with the party guests.


Adjacent to the gift table, I arranged this little Galactic vignette.

The "Piece de Resistance" of this display was this adorable drawing.  A few days before the party, Grey did this drawing to "add" to the party "decorations".  As soon as I saw his cute little rendering of R2-D2 and Princess Leia (or Layr as he calls her), I knew I had to showcase it somewhere.

I displayed the Invitation and a paper R2-D2 that I made.  The "May the Force be with You" is my son's t-shirt that I put over a pillow form.

The Storm Trooper Eggs were set here, awaiting their game to take place.  The Birthday Boy just loved that each Storm Trooper had his own "gun".

These were the Party Favors that I had for all the guests - Light Saber Icee Cozies.

On the gift table was a photo of Grey when he was Darth Vader for Halloween when he was 18mos. old.

Now for the FUN....

When the guests arrived, they each received a tunic, so they would be properly attired for the Academy Training in which they were about to participate - brown for the boys and white for the girls. 

All the girls also received a pair of Princess Leia Buns.

I had a craft station set up for the Jedis to do while we were waiting for all the guests to arrive...

Once everyone had arrived and had a chance to Build their Droid, it was time for the "Training Course".

The course entailed climbing a rock wall, going down the slide, running through the Wall of Fire, weaving through the chairs, crossing the Hot Lava, a little Corn-Hole, and then keeping their balance across a couple of 2x4's.

Once they had completed the course, they received their Achievement Badge...

and, their LIGHT SABER!!!

All the young Jedi listening to the instructions.

And they're off....

The "Hot Lava" was the favorite part of the course.  Who knew a red plastic tablecloth and two pieces of cardboard could be so entertaining?  The idea was that they could cross the "Lava", only one "Stone" at a time.  After they set down one stone and stepped on to it, they had to pick up the previous stone to use as the next step.

The final obstacle...
 After the Training Course, it was on to Light Saber training with Jedi Master Marc.

Then it was time for "Do Not Drop the Storm Trooper" Egg Run Relay.

Finally, much to the joy of all the guests, it was time to sing "Happy Birthday" and eat some cake.

After their bellies were full, and the Birthday Boy had opened all his gifts, the guests were in for a Very Special Surprise...

DARTH VADER!!!!  The one surprise I was able to keep hidden...
My husband was SOO Excited to do this for his little guy.  I looked into renting or buying a costume, but in the end decided I could just make one.  I did buy the mask, which came with the red Light Saber, but everything else was made.  Marc had a black sweatshirt that I added the grey detail with duct tape and made the chest plate out of chipboard.  On the chipboard, I Mod-Podged some paper to create the "buttons" and then spray glued some fleece on the back so that I could pin it to the sweatshirt.  The belt is   made from a piece of poster board with the buckle detail made from paper and Mod-Podged to it.  I then left it extra long, so he could just wrap it and staple it to where it fit him.  The cape is a black twin sheet that I cut in a triangular shape and then he just pinned around his neck with a large safety pin.  I wanted him to wear his black dress pants and shoes, but at the last minute - the night before the party, he remembered he still had all his motorcycle gear.  So glad he remember that, because it was Perfect.  He had black gloves and a black head mask, which covered his hair - that way, the boys would have No idea it was him.  

When the opening of presents was just about over, Marc went in the house and got changed.  While he was doing that, and I was awaiting his text that he was ready, I had all the kids in the front yard practicing their newly acquired "Light Saber" skills.

Then...

Darth Vader arrives...

The Birthday Boy is the first to run to do Battle...

then all the Jedi Knight's joined in...

DV running for his life!!

This was definitely the highlight of the Party!!

And last but not least, the Falcon Millenium Pinata.  This is the most expensive thing I bought for the party.  I really wanted to make a Death Star Pinata, but I just didn't have enough time.

The best way to end any party, in my opinion, is with a Pinata.  All the kids love them!!  The Birthday boy was the first to go, but amazingly, every guest got a chance to take a whack at it.


I truly hope this will be a day that he always remembers.  I know we will.


The whole time I was working on and making stuff for the party, he kept saying... "Mommy, thank you for making all this stuff for me and my party.  I love you!"

I love you too, Grey!!  Mommy would do it all again in a heartbeat, just to see that sweet little smile.  Happy Birthday Porkchop!!!!

Please visit the Pinterest board I created for this party so you can see where all my Inspiration came from...

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