Friday, November 25, 2011

Arts & Crafts Extravaganza!

So...I have always liked to decorate things. Canvases, ornaments, and more recently my girls' rooms. The past few years I have dabbled in "doing it up" for my girls' joint birthday party. Three years ago I did a Carnival...complete with games, prizes, a clown, etc. Last year was an "After-Halloween" Party, and I decorated with tons of Halloween themed decor, and a cauldron full of Witch's Brew with a floating ice skull. This year, I decided to do an Arts & Crafts Party, and concentrated most of my decorating on the "cake table", which ended up being a cake-pop table, and a mini candy buffet. It really came together better than I could have imagined. I decorated the tables with different colors/patterns of plastic table cloths, and scattered various art supplies (pom poms, buttons, paper, paint, crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc. etc. etc.) down the centers of the tables, like a runner. Each table had a few giant inflatable crayons, and also a bunch of balloons in the center, secured on these ADORABLE Crayola thermoses, shaped like crayons, that I just filled with water to act as a balloon weight.

For the food tables we had various snacks in brightly colored bowls, another cute balloon bunch/Crayon-weight in the center, YUMMY mini ham & cheese croissants (thanks Alisa Brown!), and added some color by rolling brightly-colored plastic cutler & napkins and putting them in some cute arts & crafts-themed "buckets" that I found for 25 cents at Walmart. One of my fav parts of the food table, however, was the water bottle rainbow. I bought bottles of water and custom water bottle labels ($20 for 50 waterproof, ready-to-stick labels) from Labels R Us. (I ordered off Ebay, but they can be found on Etsy.) The night before the party, my husband and MIL helped me put Crystal Lite into 50 bottles...10 each of fruit punch, lemonade, pink lemonade, orange, and grape. So fun!

Like I mentioned above, my main focus was the cake-pop table. I had seen lots of blogs and posts on Pinterest about awesome b-day decor, but a lot of it was WAAAAAY out of my budget, and I needed a higher quantity. So, first I looked around my house to see what I already had that I could use. The fabric I used for the backdrop was fabric I used to use in my classroom to cover a bulletin board. The table skirt was a curtain that used to hang in my classroom. The boxes I wrapped and used to elevate the lollipops and cake pops were just lying around from the art supplies I had ordered for the party. I made the banners myself. The "Happy Birthday" one was just construction paper and the letter were made from Contact Paper and cut with a Cricut! Much cheaper than vinyl :) I tied the banner together with mis-matched brightly-colored ribbon pieces that I already had. The banners of the girls names I also "made", but I ordered a digital kit from Paper Party Passion on Etsy. There was a lot more in the kit than just the banner template, but the only other thing I used was the favor tags (which I will explain later). I also tied their name banners together with ribbon that I already had. I wrapped foam pieces in bright polka-dot paper I got for $3 at Walmart, and stuck the cake-pops I made in one, and the swirl lollipops I got from Oriental Trading in the other. The boxes I set the foam pieces on were wrapped in paper I got for $1 at Target in their discount area. My friend Alisa made tissue paper pom poms that I stuck in the background of the table. I got colored Twizzlers and Gummy Bears and put in clear glass vases, as well as M&M's separated out by color and put in brightly colored bowls, and made a mini candy buffet to add some more color. And while all of this was great, what really stole the show were the custom balloon pillars, made to look like crayons, that were on each side of the table. Thank you thank you THANK YOU to Balloons Unlimited for these awesome creations!! If you live in Central KY, you should definitely look into using this company, which is based in Winchester, KY. To cut WAY down on cost, I also made my own cake pops. I decorate cakes, and have made cake pops before, but I always find it overwhelming to plan/set up my girls' party AND make a cake/cupcakes. But, the cost of purchasing cake pops from someone just wasn't feasible for me, so I used the Baby Cakes Cake Pop Maker from Kohl's.
I was able to make over 100 cake balls in under an hour. Decorating them took a while longer, but it was a nice break from the usual cake/cupcakes.

Overall, I think it turned out pretty well! To end the party, each kid took home a favor bag full of Skittles, crayons, a coloring book, stencil, stickers, and a small toy. For the bags, I bought red and blue paper lunch sacks, folded the tops over, and secured it with a favor tag (from the digital kit I bought for the banner). To hold everything together, I put two hole punches through the bag and tag, and put a paint brush through to hold the bag shut.

The kids had fun, lots of great art was made, and thanks to the help of several great friends and family, the party went really well. The girls even had custom Arts-&-Crafts-Themed outfits from Little Darling Designs. A very special thanks to my mom and step-dad for helping prepare the favor bags, to Alisa Brown for the sandwiches and the help with the decor, Linsey Smahaj for her expertise with rolling cutlery, my hubs and MIL for helping with the water bottles, my nephew Richie for blowing up the giant crayons, and Mandy Jacobs & Cindy Lynn for helping with the set-up and clean-up efforts. I couldn't have pulled it off without you ALL! Guess I need to start planning next year's party now :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

8 Inches

Today started just like any other "ordinary" day. Got up, kids got up, had breakfast, gave baths (which doesn't usually happen in the morning, but we had plans today and the kiddos were DIR-TY!), got everyone dressed, dropped the dog off at the groomer, went to lunch with my boss and coworkers for the boss's birthday, and then we were en route to the "haircutters" for a trim for Sophia when a Tornado Warning came across the radio. So, we detoured home for a bit and while we were waiting for the storm to pass, Angelina asked if she, too, could get a trim. I said "sure" and we hopped in the ol' van-a-roo and headed to Walmart. And yes, I take my kids the salon in Walmart. JohnnaBeth does a GREAT job and is so good with the kiddos...I highly recommend her! Anyhow, we rolled into WallyWorld, signed in at the salon (can you call a haircutting place in Walmart a salon?! Heheheh) and waited our turn. Sophia went first and gleefully hopped up in the chair to get her hair washed. I sat there thinking "Why oh WHY can't she be this excited for ME to wash her hair at home?!" Anyhow, next she hopped into the chair in front of the mirror and JohnnaBeth began chopping off dead ends and fuzz until Sophia's hair no longer resembled a bird's nest hair-don't, but rather a well-coiffed hair-DO. Then it was Angelina's turn. She followed suit, hopping in the chair to get her hair washed and then skipped over the the "cutting chair", as she so coined it. Then she said, "Momma, can I cut my hair a little shorter than usual so it's curly like Sophia's." Well, I immediately said, "No, because your Daddy likes long hair." But she was persistent, and asked again. I tried calling Ernie, but didn't get an answer, so I texted him and asked if she could cut her hair shorter. His answer: NO. I told Angelina her Daddy nixed the idea, and her eyes welled up with tears. JohnnaBeth began our usual trim of an inch or two, but around that same time the manager of the store was talking with a teenager close by, explaining what Locks of Love is. Angelina heard this and turned to JohnnaBeth (and NOT me!) and asked "Do I have enough hair to do that?" Well, JohnnaBeth had already taken about two inches off the back, so she looked at me (who was giving the NO NO NO silent look) and hesitantly told Angelina she didn't think she'd have enough hair since we already cut it. Angelina looked so defeated, and she looked at me with puppy dog eyes and said, "Momma, I really wanna' give my hair to someone who doesn't have any." Well, who could say no to that?! So I tried to call Ernie answer...but then I looked at my phone and several minutes before, after I had texted him how upset Angelina was that he said she couldn't cut her hair, he had texted me back "fine". Seeing that, I told Angelina "Daddy said you can cut your hair!" JohnnaBeth measured and SOMEHOW Angelina still had just over 8 inches of hair, even after the trim! So she put Angelina's hair in a ponytail and was JUST about the cut it off when suddenly a wave of panic (and nausea) spread over my body. I said (well, yelled) STOP! All of a sudden it dawned on me that it wasn't just Ernie who liked Angelina's long was me, too. I mean, after all, this baby was born bald as a cue ball and STAYED that way until nearly her 2nd birthday. It's been a 5 year process to get her long hair! How would I style it if it were short? Would it cut her curls off? How would I put it up so she wouldn't be hot at soccer? What about those mornings when I'm running late and literally pile it on top of her head and secure with a hair-band? And as I was silently panicking, Angelina said, "Mommy, there's some little girl who doesn't have any hair who realllllly needs my hair." Well shoot...suddenly my anguish and panic over a stinkin' haircut didn't seem legit at all. While I sat there lamenting over Angelina's hair, there was a mother and father who found out their little girl, the same age as Angelina, has cancer. Right at that moment, somewhere, a family was burying a child, Angelina's age, who had just died. Right then, a little girl JUST like Angelina, who loves life to the fullest, was sitting in a hospital bed crying because the medicine she is getting to fight her cancer is making her hair fall out. How selfish of me to be so up-in-arms over a haircut...especially when, to Angelina, it was pretty cut and dry (no pun intended)- she had hair, someone else doesn't, and she had enough to spare that she could give some to them. Period. End of story. I looked at JohnnaBeth and just kinda nodded for her to proceed. And with a few snips, she cut off Angelina's entire ponytail. When she held it up for Angelina to see, Angelina gasped and JohnnaBeth said "Now don't cry, please!" But Angelina's face was quickly taken over by a cheek to cheek smile, and she said "Cry? Why would I cry? I am excited! Will I get to meet the little girl who is gonna' get my hair?" Wow. What a humbling, awesome moment. My FIVE year old just seemed to "get it"...that we are called to help people, even when it means giving up something of our own, and that we are to be EXCITED about it! 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." And what a cheerful giver she was...and what a proud Momma I am.

Monday, March 14, 2011


So...I have neglected this poor little blog! Geesh...I mean so much time has passed and so much has happened...where do I even begin?!?! Hmmmm...hmmmmm...ummmmm....ok, got it. I will start with GOD! The past few months have been nothing short short of amazing. It all started when we began an AWESOME study called Not A Fan. Looking back, God's grace (and a little sense of humor?) was really apparent in how we got involved in this study. We have been a part of a married couples study group for about 5 years. The past few sessions, our attendance has not been that great. It wasn't really a priority for us, but rather a "oh if we're free on Saturday night we might go"type of thing. We had stopped going to church regularly (and by that I mean MAYBE once a month, but usually less.) In all honesty, at first I was nervous to go because Sophia had gotten in trouble for hitting a kid, and I didn't want a repeat. But then it seemed like every Sunday a kid was sick, or something came up...but mainly we had just grown lazy and accustomed to our Sunday morning sleep-ins, big breakfasts, and family time. I hadn't hardly noticed, but my relationship with God had pretty much gone un-attended for almost a year. Last fall I got into a bible study group at my church and we did a Beth Moore study. I totally felt God tugging at my heart strings and while it hurt, it felt good, too. Kinda like a "hurt so good" feeling; I had neglected my personal relationship with God and this study really made it apparent that I couldn't go on any longer like that! I felt renewed and rejuvenated...but then there was a lot of homework and I got behind and then I got overwhelmed. And while I know I didn't get as much out of it as I could have, but it got that fire burning in my heart again. Meanwhile, our married couples small group was discussing doing a study called "Not A Fan". Our whole church was going to be doing the study and it would correlate to what our preacher would preach about on Sundays. Our preacher wanted all the small groups to do the study. Well, we hadn't been at church in a LONG time so I had NO clue what this "Not A Fan" was all about. Ernie and I discussed it, but when we realized it would require us to meet EVERY Saturday for 6 weeks, we were like "No way. We can't commit to EVERY Saturday!" So we bowed out for this round, rationalizing that we had been a part of this group for a long time and needed a little break. I decided, however, to see what this "Not A Fan" was all about on Wednesday's with my women's group. Well, the first Wednesday was life changing. I went home and told Ernie we HAD to rethink our decision to forgo this study with our married couples group. He agreed to go and see what it was all about. Well, if God speaks to most hearts, He SCREAMED at ours that night. The transformation seemed to begin truly overnight...suddenly we were THIRSTING for Him, all the time. We eagerly looked forward to Saturdays with our married couples group. Wednesday nights with my women's group couldn't come soon enough. Tuesday mornings with Ernie's men's group climbed to the top of his priority list. And Sundays...oh Sunday mornings have become something we just cannot wait for...and not for the sleep-ins and big breakfasts, but for the opportunity to hear God's precious word through our amazing pastor. And what about all the rest of the days, you ask? Well, those other days have been filled with more positive attitudes, much more prayer, and a marriage that has been blessed with more honesty, openness, and joy for these past few months than it had seen in the 5 years leading up to this point! Now, it hasn't been ALL unicorns and butterflies, either...we still have "off" days and struggles. We still sin daily. The difference, though, is on those "off" days, we see hope for tomorrow. We wake each morning, attempting to die to ourselves and pick up our crosses...and when we fail in sin, we ask for forgiveness and strength to not do it again, and TRULY mean it. We don't want to be "Fans" of Jesus any longer. We want to be fully committed followers of the Lord. We want to experience the kingdom here on Earth, and even more, we want to be a part of it and further it all for God's glory. We have discussed different ways we want to serve, and have put a few into action. If you had known us 5 or 6 years ago, this would seem like an alien, out of body experience for you because we were NOT living for God. Even a year ago, even after knowing Christ and being baptized in Him, we still did not "get it". Sure, we were good people and we were definitely fans of God. God did some pretty big stuff in our lives about a year ago, and we took it for granted. We weren't ready to commit. But the Lord has been there, waiting patiently for us to realize that He longs for a relationship with us. He wants us to put Him first. He doesn't NEED us...He WANTS us. Wow. How did it take so long for us to truly TRULY get that?! Well, regardless of how or why, all I know is the transformation in our lives has been profound...and I want MORE! I want to be on that narrow path that leads to Him. And the best part is this peace that has overtaken our lives is available to every single person who walks this Earth. I know I know...I can hardly wrap my head around it either...but it's not meant for us to understand. So, ask yourself...are you merely a fan of God, or are you a fully committed follower? Short question, but BIG importance. Want to know more? Please feel free to contact me on FB or email me at I would love to share in more detail what God has been doing in our lives. Much love to you all!