Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

A belated Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
We spent the weekend before Christmas traveling to Wisconsin to celebrate with my family (and came home with a carload of gifts... wow!), so we had Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home.  It was absolutely relaxing, restful and wonderful.  I tried to use the timer on my camera to snap a couple of family photos when we got back from church on Christmas Eve.
Our girls sleep in pretty well, so we got some much needed extra sleep on Christmas morning. (Santa's elves were up really late putting the finishing touches on a big Christmas present.)  When the girls did wake up, they opened their stockings right away.  We convinced them to have breakfast after that, before opening anything else.
We try not to go too crazy on Christmas, but Santa did leave a few gifts for each girl.  Little J has been so funny opening gifts for her birthday and now Christmas.  She has to throw away each piece of wrapping paper that comes off before moving on to the next piece.  It's very cute.
 One of Miss A's gifts was a real stethoscope.  Doc McStuffins is her favorite show right now, and she broke the stethoscope that came with her doctor kit.  This one is pink (her favorite) and it really works, which she thinks is super fun.  Everyone has had their heart checked many times in the past few days.
 The girls got a big, joint gift of a dollhouse.  I really like the one they got because each room is a separate piece.  There are a ton of different ways to arrange one big house (trust me, they've been arranging like crazy... maybe with some help from Mommy), or my favorite part, you can build two separate houses.  The dolls that came with the dollhouse were a little weird, so many princesses and Dora's family have moved in too.

Overall it was a fabulous Christmas!  We have two very happy (very spoiled) little girls!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Snapshot Three

The girls don't have cousins on my side (yet) so our trips to visit E's family are extra special.  Miss A and Little J are the two youngest cousins, so they spend the visits running and trying to keep up with the big kids.  Last weekend we headed down for a Christmas visit, taking advantage of a free hotel room offer from a nearby casino.  We went swimming, had dinner and ended up with 6 adults and 7 kids playing in our hotel room.  It was a little loud at first, but when things quieted down, E pointed to the area under one of the nightstands in the room.  There I found the four little cousins gathered around the oldest's tablet, checking out what he was doing.  I love that he's so sweet and patient with them, and even though he's reached middle school age, he doesn't mind hanging out with the 5 and under crew.

Monday, December 9, 2013

DIY Play Kitchen

I've started putting this post together several times, but have never seemed to get it done.  Finally, a year after we made our play kitchen, a post on what we did.

I remember seeing a few DIY play kitchens around the blog world back in the days before Pinterest, and I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do.  Luckily, my husband is quite handy, so he was able to help me make it happen.

We visited a nearby thrift store a couple of times, and eventually found this TV stand.  E picked it out and thought it would be a good choice because it would fit well in our kitchen and it came with a shelf that could be used as an oven door.

I'm kicking myself now for not taking more photos of the process, but here's a quick summary of what we did.  I lightly sanded, primed and painted the entire TV stand.  I decided to paint our play kitchen white because it would fit in with any room in our house pretty easily.

E cut a circle whole in the top of the TV stand, and we put a metal bowl in to use as the sink.  For the faucet and handles we used a wooden J and dowels from Michael's.  I spray painted them silver and E figured out how to attach them.  We also got 4 round plates (kind of like this) to use as the burners for the stove.  I painted a grey square (paint left over from Miss A's room) on the top to be the stove.  Next I spray painted the burners black and drew silver circles on them.  When everything was dry, I used Gorilla Glue to attach the burners to the stove.

We picked out hardware for the play kitchen at Menard's.  They only had basic colors, so I spray painted everything pink.  We used some other wood pieced from Michael's to make knobs and buttons for the oven.  E attached the extra shelf that came with the TV stand and an extra railing piece from our deck to make the oven.  I used the grey paint to add an oven window.

I'm not sure what the oven rack was from, but E found it in our garage.  All I had to do was clean it up and add a fresh coat of paint.  The little shelves from the TV stand were missing when we got it, so E found some extra wood to make two little shelves.

We were able to finish up (most) of the play kitchen to give to the girls as a joint Christmas gift last year.  We told family members that they were getting it so others got them play food and other kitchen accessories.  The play kitchen has been a big hit with the girls!  We have it in our kitchen so the girls can play while I'm making dinner.  Little J especially likes to mimic what Mommy's doing.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Little J's Minnie Mouse Themed Birthday Party

For Little J's 2nd birthday party, I had an owl theme in mind, but as her birthday got closer, Little J started to really like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  A quick search on Pinterest gave me plenty of ideas for a Minnie Mouse party and I was pretty happy with how it turned out!

For the invitations, I used a circle cutter and circle punch to a make two different sized circles to make the main mouse sillouette.  I cut the white paper with the writing to a slightly smaller circle and added a red and white bow.  (As much as I like pink, I really wanted to stick to a black, white and red theme, which is surprisingly difficult to find for Minnie Mouse things.)

I did a 3 in pictures for Miss A's party, and it was such a great
way to display a bunch of pictures that I had to do it again.  
My littles love balloons, so we covered the floor with red and black balloons.  I bought some red and white polka dot fabric to use as a tablecloth, made a TWO banner, and used a bunch of pictures of Little J from 1 to 2 to round out the decorations.

As the kids arrived, I took a picture of each one with Mickey or Minnie ears.  I found the Minnie ears with the red bow at Target and a friend gave me the pink Minnie ears and a set of Mickey ears.  Even E and I got to wear ears.

All of our family is out of town, so we did an evening party to give everyone time to get here.  We had hot dogs and some other snacks.  Little J's favorite part of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is the hot dog song and dance at the end, so it was fitting.

We had cupcakes (of course!) for dessert.  E and I had to be at a work dinner the night before the party, so we ordered basic cupcakes from my favorite local bakery, Roseville Bakery, and added Oreo Mickey's to the tops.  

I thought the cupcakes (and Oreo's) were quite tasty, Little J however wanted nothing to do with her cupcake.  I was a very disappointed Mama.  I had been hoping for a very messy 2 year old :)

The main activity for the little guests was to decorate cookies.  The girls and I made about 75 Mickey Mouse shaped sugar cookies and frosting, and bought a variety of sprinkles for decorating.  I think this was a pretty big hit.  Little J and Miss A both loved it, along with their cousins and friends at a variety of ages.  It also kept their attention for quite awhile.

We also had a flashlight dance party in the basement. Not easily photographed, but a favorite activity around our house.  We turn off all the lights, give the kids flashlights, turn on some music and dance.  I saw most of the kids (and even a few adults) dancing away.
 I kept my eye out for Mickey and Minnie Mouse coloring books, and managed to find enough for everyone at a dollar store. I picked up some crayons and tied a ribbon around each set as a party favor for all of our little guests.

We had such a fun day with lots of family and friends!  Thanks to everyone who was able to celebrate with us!