Super Seth!

15 11 2009

To tell you about Seth’s Halloween costume I have to take a step back to July for Seth’s birthday party. Which is good because I’ve been having mommy guilt over the fact that I never posted about it. He wanted a superhero birthday party and that’s just what he got. There were only 3 activities, one of which I completely forgot until 2 days later. The thank you gift was part of the 1st activity – superhero dress up. The 2nd activity was a water gun fight, which I have conflicting feelings about. I don’t allow play guns in the house, but somehow can’t say no to water guns on a hot summer day. The 3rd activity, which I forgot to get out, was decorate your own super hero mask. Unfortunately, I had gotten the masks so far in advance I had to hide them because Seth wouldn’t leave them alone. I apparently hid them from myself too. Out of sight, out of mind. The kids didn’t seem to mind. And although it was unseasonably cool and therefore the water guns weren’t used much, they didn’t seem to mind that either. Besides there was cake.

So why did I need to tell you this in order to tell you about Seth’s halloween costume? Well, the dress up portion, of course! Steve and I freezer paper stenciled each child’s first initial onto t-shirts. Honestly, Steve did most of the work with this one. I found cheap t-shirts on sale, each a different color and size. Would have been easier to do all the same color, but the huge size differences in the kids made that impossible.

While Steve was stenciling I was making play silk capes. I kool-aid dyed more silk scarves as before only in a slightly smaller size. Then I made 2 folds on one of the edges and sewed a longer strip of  bias tape to make the collar edge. Love pre-packaged bias tape, all folded and ready for you. I was nervous about the sewing as I always am with sewing but it was a breeze and no-one could tell or would even mind that I can’t sew a straight line. Finally I added a little strip of iron on velcro to the ends of the bias tape. Easy on, easy off and no potential strangulation possibilities – just how I like it. They turned out great, if I do say so myself. And as a bonus they pack down really small for putting away at the end of the day. Or shoving in a corner as the case may be.

This all made for a very colorful backyard of kids.

Seth had no problem picking out his halloween costume this year – a superhero. He was set at least a month if not 2 before and never wavered in his choice. Whenever he was asked what he wanted to be, they always followed with the question “which superhero?” To which Seth gave them an odd look and either ran away or stated defiantly “Super Seth!!” He doesn’t really know a lot of the traditional superheroes, so to him this was a ridiculous question.

I finished off the outfit by dying one of those masks I had set aside to match his cape. And since t-shirts don’t fly in Minnesota at Halloween we added plenty of warmth with long johns, sweats and gloves. Unfortunately, although Seth liked the mask I made him it and wore it on several occasions, he couldn’t bring himself to wear it trick-or-treating. He found his swimming goggles much more appropriate.

Of course, even those didn’t make it the whole evening.

Puppy Party!

27 05 2009

The littlest member of our family turned two just over a week ago and we celebrated with a puppy party. She got to invite two friends and their associated siblings and parents. One of my sisters and my parents were able to make it as well. It was amazingly low stress and fun was had by all. Eleanor loves nothing more than puppies so a theme was easy to find. Actually I’ve never had trouble finding themes for the kids parties. There’s always something their gaga about. Here’s the pooper scoop:

The invites were quickly done up on the computer with paw prints running across. Nothing fancy. I did politely suggest that no presents were needed. A suggestion of a donation to a local shelter was made for those really wanting to do something. As such there was no present opening ceremony. I do believe that was the best idea of the whole party. Being a 2nd child and only 2 she really doesn’t need more stuff and heaven knows I’m having trouble finding space for it all. The party went smoother without the stress of trying to get a 2 yr old to stay on task of opening gifts and saying thank you. Instead we spread out what gifts were received over the weekend, making each one that much more special. Wish I had done that with Seth at this age.

Dog coloring pages were set out for any lulls, though there were few. The kids mainly ran off to play for the 1st hour. Then it was lunch time. We kept it fairly simple with some fruit and sandwich fixings. The theme came through however, with puppy chow mix and dog bone breadsticks.

These were a huge hit! I was quite surprised as they were rather made up and I had no idea if they would even work before hand. They’re just Pillsbury breadsticks from a tube with a knot tied on each end. The kids liked them enough that they sent me back in the house to make a 2nd batch. By the time the cake rolled around some of the kids were too full to even eat it.

Speaking of cake, it was delicious – an apple sauce cake made with maple syrup and apricot filling. A recipe from an old Martha Stewart Kids magazine. Wish I could find a link for you. I made the same cake for Seth’s 2nd birthday, but this time my mom was kind enough to “whip” it up. The quotes are because it’s not an easy cake, but worth it.

Drinks were also handed out in BPA free plastic cups the kids could take home. I struggled with this a bit. I didn’t want to do juice boxes – messy and wasteful. But I wasn’t handing a bunch of little ones open top breakable glasses either. So the take ‘n toss won. I added shrinky dink charms for easy identification strung on elastic cording. One charm was a puppy related picture traced or drawn by yours truly and the 2nd charm was simply their name.

The real fun came with the thank you gifts. I love giving favor bags at kids parties and this was no exception. The bags were meant to be the activity as well as the thank you and therefore a little more thought and effort went into them. They were handed out midstream to keep the party going. Not that the kids really needed it. My wonderful, creative, giving mother also whipped these cute little totes up for each child guest including my younger sister.

Hard to see but she even used her fancy sewing machine to embroider each child’s name along the top. The kids loved them. Inside each bag were dog stickers, a bag of scooby snacks (dog biscuit shaped graham cracker cookies), a dog ear headband and a dog collar. The kids immediately put on their ears. Here’s the birthday girl in her’s:

I made the dog collars the nights before with ribbon, iron-on velcro, split rings (like for key chains) and a charm hanging off an o-ring to connect it to the split ring. Eleanor refused to put her’s on. Too bad as I made it a little different from the rest with extra wide red ribbon. Seth on the other hand wears his daily.

Of course, this little guy is already making plans for his birthday in a couple months. His current request is for a spy party. We’ll see!

Rocket Ship Birthday Party

29 07 2008

The little man turned 4 last week and I threw him a rocket ship birthday party with the help from family over the weekend. Everyone had a ton of fun. I like to pick themes for birthday parties. It helps narrow down the possibilities. His 3rd birthday was all about bugs and his 2nd was about balls (click on each to see a few details). So far it’s been a breeze choosing a theme as Seth’s preferences have been very obvious. Here’s a rundown on our rocket ship party.

Invitations & thank you notes – relief print of Seth’s shadow rocket (see yesterday’s post)

Decorations – The piece de resistance was a rocket ship tent purchase on clearance after Christmas that was given to Seth for his birthday. I wanted to paint Styrofoam balls to look like planets and hang them with paper stars in the gazebo but ran out of time.

Food & beverages – We kept it simple here. For that matter I don’t think I’ve ever kept it this simple for a gathering of any kind. Just bottle drinks for the adults, juice boxes for the kids, chips, veggies & dip and one rocket ship cake. The cake was made from a box mix. Better than purchased, not as good as made from scratch. But again, time was an issue. (Although I didn’t give Eleanor anything other than water to drink, she seemed to be good at finding other’s left overs to shake. Good thing there was a pool to rinse her off in.)

Activities – Now here’s were I had fun. Regardless of the theme it is summer and was in the backyard so water was involved. A kiddy pool, sandbox and slip ‘n slide provided wonderful entertainment. The kids probably would have been satisfied had I done nothing else – but not me. Two rocket ship related activities were a must:

1. Astronaut portraits – We gave Seth an astronaut costume for his birthday. If this didn’t have the triple purpose of present, party prop and Halloween costume I wouldn’t have spend the money. (Yes, I realize I’m tempting fate by buying a Halloween costume this early in the year.) Each kid got to try on the suit and helmet. We had them pose in front of a backdrop made from left over tar paper stapled to the wood fence and spray painted with a star scape. I’ve cropped out their feet for a more “realistic” look and am including a print or two with each corresponding thank you note. The kids were so cute patiently waiting their turn. They each wanted a shot with the helmet closed as well as open. Many wanted multiple turns.

2. The second space themed activity was a scavenger hunt. I compiled 6 stock photos from those available from Microsoft. I hid a pile of these pictures in 6 locations in the neighbors yard. Each type of picture in a different location. After showing the kids what they were looking for and giving them directions I let them loose. The object being to collect all 6 pictures and return to me for a surprise reward (rocket ship stickers). I’m mean – I also made them count each one our for me as proof. If they didn’t have all 6 I would have them lay the pictures out on an uncut original sheet to see what was missing.

Just in case you want to host a space scavenger hunt of your own I’ve included a pdf for you to print. Make sure to print one more than the number of kids participating. Cut all sheets into 6 pictures except for one sheet to be used as the example. How well you hide the picture piles depends on how old the kids are. For preschoolers I wouldn’t get too sneaky. Here you go: space-scavenger-hunt

Thank you gifts – I adore thank you gifts. They’re inexpensive and fun. Sticking with our theme we included “sand from the moon” and some rocket balloons. To keep the cost down we split out packages of rocket balloons and wrapped in tissue 4 balloons and 1 or 2 blowing straws per child. Then we mixed up a bucket of homemade moon sand based off this tutorial – basically 2 parts play sand, 1 part cornstarch and enough water to create the right moldable consistency. Don’t expect it to be like the commercially processed moon sand but this is just as fun and a heck of a lot cheaper.

A big thank you to my parents and hubby for all heir help putting this together. Sometimes my ideas are bigger than the possibilities and it’s good to have a support troop to ground me.

Shadow Rocket Invitations

28 07 2008

So much to tell you. For now, I’m going to start with these relief print rocket ship invitations I’ve been wanting to post about for a couple weeks. The invites are for Seth’s 4th birthday party and were inspired by his own creativity. It all started with this shadow:

Seth was making shadows on the kitchen counter with an office binder clip. You should have seen his face when this rocket ship appeared. We just had to take a picture for posterity. A few weeks later I was searching for inspiration for making the invitations when hubby suggested I look at Seth’s shadow rocket. Perfect! I modified the size of the shadow, printed and cut it out. Tracing both this image and a bottle cap to serve as the basis for Saturn onto soft-kut I was able to get away with out much free hand work. The beauty is that I very minimal drawing capabilities, so this fit the bill nicely. I carved the image out to make a white line relief print, adding the stars at whim and washed it up. Nothing like Rouxhauser’s fabulous chickadee print but I thought it was going to look nice.

Of course, I had to mix up a good green color. I rolled on the ink for a nice smooth coat. Next came the ultimate test. I smoothed down the paper with the barren and crossed my fingers.

Peeling back the first sheet of paper with nerve racking.

In the end all went well. Green for the invites, yellow for the thank you notes. I preferred the print on the yellow card stock as it had a little more tooth to it. The green paper was a little slicker. The biggest problem? Finding time and space for the cards to dry without little hands getting to them.


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