J’s Tangled Birthday Party Part II: Party Time

TangledCollageAnother Throwback Thursday classic that I neglected to post in all my home renovation frenzy.  In my last post, I detailed all the behind the scenes work- invitations, decorations and activity prep.  Now, I’ll tell you how the day actually went.  I couldn’t have been more pleased!  I scaled down on the guest list a little after last year’s rare freezing temps forced our party inside, and I discovered just how chaotic a kid’s bday party can be.  Fortunately, we were blessed with beautiful weather and the perfect amount of guests.

As guests trickled in, I sat them in the dining room and allowed the kids to work on beautifying their Rapunzel hair or viking hats.  This activity was a hit with both the kids and parents. In fact, I had a hard time getting them to stop and actually eat lunch!

Speaking of eating. Party food is very important, and I wish I had better documented this part. If memory serves me correctly, on the Snuggling Duckly menu that day was:

  • Snuggly Duckling Snacks (fruit, cheese and crackers served in a frying pan, of course)
  • Spinach dip and pita crackers
  • Pascal’s pizza
  • Baked Ziti
  • Rapunzel’s Baked Braids
  • Magic Flower Punch (Lemonade)

For dessert, we had:

  • Rapunzel’s Licorice Braids
  • Mother Gothel’s Macarons
  • Rapunzel’s Favorite Hazlenut Pie
  • Cupcakes
  • Princess fruit snacks

But first, I allowed the kids to run off some steam.  This is essential to avoiding party meltdowns.  We started off inside by pinning the nose on Flynn Rider.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movie, before Flynn meets Rapunzel, he is a petty thief and complains they never get his nose right in wanted posters.  I was able to snag this Flynn Rider Wanted poster from Amaye Clyne on Deviant Art. I then took it to Office Depot to have it made into an engineering print. (FYI- I took it to Fedex Kinkos first and they absolutely refused to print it for me because it is a Disney character. It’s a birthday party people!) I then printed a set of noses from everyonecandraw.net. Would you believe that one of the boys pinned the nose right in the center on the first try!

Next, we went outside and played “Catch the Chameleon.” I found multi-colored glow in the dark lizards at the dollar store and bought several packages. I scattered these all over the backyard and the kids had to collect as many lizards as they could. This was in reference to start of the Tangled movie where Rapunzel and Pascal play hide and seek together.

Our last activity was to get “Tangled Up” in Rapunzel’s hair.  I gave the kids several rolls of yellow streamer and watched in amusement as they wrapped each other up in it. Leave it to the boys to add a slight safety risk to this game.  I caught one of them wrapping it around a friend’s neck.  Thankfully, streamers are easy to rip off!

Finally, it was time for cake and the end of a long and exciting afternoon.

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On the way out, we took pictures of all the kids in a cardboard cut-out Flynn Rider poster that my husband made using a second copy of the same engineering print.  I thought the pics would be great to print out with Thank You cards. Unfortunately, I never got around to printing them, but they were kinda silly. For favors, we sent  all our budding new artists home with watercolors. All in all, it was a great day!

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Until the next party- Juliette’s Frozen 5th!

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Superheroes Go To Heaven

I have been contemplating my return to blogging lately. I have a whole list of topics I want to blog about and pictures I’ve taken for that purpose. But as usual, I’ve put it off due to my perpetual busyness.  Should J bless me by taking a nap, I have a long list of TO DOs that all seem very pressing at the time.

I’ve been too busy to do a lot of things over this past year. One of them being catching up with old friends and neighbors. Dean and I were discussing this very thing over the weekend, and I had made a resolve to get in contact with dear old neighbors when I received a text from them. Unfortunately, it was not a happy coincidence. My girlfriend was in a car accident and though she was blessed to walk away, her five year old son was not so lucky. Brady, who was a superhero here on earth, earned his permanent wings in heaven on Friday August 23.

Brady

So it is with a very heavy heart that I return to blogging to speak about Brady, who was a very special boy. I referred to him as my neighbor baby and was privileged to observe his growth-the ebb and flow of change within him- more closely than I could my nieces and nephews who all live miles away. I would call him my practice baby, but his parents were too smart to let me experiment with him all that much.

I can recall two instances of babysitting, in which I must have been the last resort. During the first, Dean and I babysat while his parents went to a late night movie. He was already asleep, and I’m willing to bet we prayed very hard that he stayed that way. When it got very late (code word for past 11 PM), we had difficulty staying awake and Dean kept hitting me to keep me alert. We were very anxious about all the responsibility, you see, having no babies of our own. I managed to open one eye and in a moment of brilliance said, “Wait, wouldn’t his parents be asleep by now? They do sleep, right.”  Aaah, yes. But now I know all mammas sleep with one eye open and one ear up.

The second time, Brady was only napping, but I was assured he would sleep the entire time I was there. One half hour later, I heard him crying. Luckily, I had been left a list of favorite activities. I tried them all to no avail but finally got him calm by my own doing and patted myself on the back for a job well done. It is only in retelling the story now that I recall I did not check the poor kid’s diaper, and I’m fairly certain he was not potty trained. Fortunately, he did not hold it against me and always had a hug, a smile and a list of questions ready whenever I ran into him.

It is with enormous sadness, that I say goodbye to this remarkable boy.  The picture below will link to his memorial site should you be compelled to visit. He was a fixture at the various gatherings at our household over the years and made an impression on many, including those who did not know him well. It is his parents’ hope that they can preserve his memory and share of his generous young heart by serving a number of charities.

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Jacob’s Veggie Tale Backyard Birthday Bash

Veggie Tale Crew

Juliette and I recently had the pleasure of attending her cousin Jacob’s first birthday party.  This entailed several plane rides, sleeping in the dreaded pack ‘n play and being away from Daddy for a week. Fortunately, the chance to follow around her baby cousin and smother him with hugs and kisses made it all worthwhile for Juliette.

Jacob is a huge fan of Veggie Tales. For those of you who are not familiar with the program, it is a children’s cartoon starring Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber and a host of other anthropomorphic vegetables including peas (French ones, at that), asparagus, carrots and even a family of gourds. Each episode features a moral Christian theme and, more often than not, a parody of a popular movie or TV show- Lord of the Beans is one example that comes to mind.

Jacob’s bday theme was first announced in this adorable invitation designed by my little sister Holly and featuring Jacob splashing around in his Veggie Tales pool.  Juliette gave the invitation her own stamp of approval by carrying it around for weeks.

For Jacob’s party, the main characters- in this case the birthday boy, Mom, Dad and the grandparents- dressed in official Veggie Tale attire pictured above and available here. The party colors were- you guessed it- cucumber green and tomato red. They were repeated in everything from the table cloths to banners and balloons.

The table decor, including plates, cups and napkins featured the Veggie Tale characters and are also available in The Veggie Tales web store.  The balloons were anchored by a clever centerpiece comprised of a Veggie Tales pail stuffed with tissue paper and baby goldfish to snack on. What little kid does not love goldfish? My Juliette was all over that. 

Later, Jacob enjoyed his Veggie Tales cake. Costco makes the best creme filled cakes ever, but due to copyrighting laws they could not draw the Veggie Tales characters on it. This was fixed by adding some Veggie Tales candles and Jacob was elated (doesn’t he look it?)

Holly spend a lot of time finding age appropriate goodies for each of the youngsters attending the party. These included Veggie Tales crayons, fruit snack, mardi gras beads, bath toys and stickers. These were placed in a lunch bag with a thank you sticker she made herself.

Juliette, being nearly 2, seemed to enjoy Jacob’s party even more than she enjoyed her own.

And Jacob’s Mom and Dad were exhausted from all the preparations but oh so happy to celebrate their Little Man’s first of many years. And we were happy to be there to celebrate with them!

Say it often for no reason at all

I am not usually one to disseminate You Tube videos that have gone viral. Yet, I’ve passed along two this week. The first, a story about a girl with autism that struck a chord as a parent and now, this one- a moving birthday tribute from cancer patient Kristian Anderson to his wife Rachel.

Kristian was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2009 and became unintentionally famous in 2010 after he made this video to thank Rachel for her love and support.  It features an intro from the New Zealand prime minister (his wife is apparently a Kiwi) and a cameo from Hugh Jackman, who found out about the project from the radio station that assisted Kristian with the video. It is a true testament of his love, his gratitude and his faith. We should all be so lucky to have someone who loves us this much.  Sadly, Kristian lost his battle with cancer on January 2, 2012. His blog is as beautiful and intelligent as his video and can be found here @ There is A Crack in Everything.

I don’t know Kristian. I cannot speak to what kind of man he was. I don’t know if he put down the toilet seat, cleared the dishes from the sink or made it home from work in time to give his kids a bath and tuck them in bed. I don’t know if he regularly thanked his wife before his cancer diagnosis, but I hope he did. What I do know is that he gave his wife the most beautiful gift- one that will last for many birthdays to come- the gift of love and better than that, the free expression of it.

Let this be a lesson to the rest of us. I know that as I have grown in years, I have become more neglectful of those I love.  I can usually find justification for doing so.  Life gets busy. You take on more responsibility. You meet The One and friends get put on the back burner just a little bit.  You walk down the aisle in a pretty dress and perhaps neglect your first family as you attempt to build one of your own.  You have a baby and find yourself completely overwhelmed by how much this tiny being relies on you to meet all her wants and needs. How can you possibly have any time left over for your spouse or even yourself?

I know I have definitely fallen into this trap as of late. But I don’t to wait until I’m dying to tell my husband how much I love him and how grateful I am that he has stuck by me in good times and bad. I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to tell my parents how much I appreciate all the sacrifices they made so that I should never feel in need. And I hope I’m never too busy to share a smile and a laugh with my daughter who has stirred in me a love that knows no limits. Say it loud. Say it often. Say it for absolutely no reason at all. I love you. Thank you. Thank God for you.