Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dinosaur Train at MOSH

Our first Friday night back in Jacksonville after our most recent St. Pete trip was a fun one. As members of the Museum of Science and History (MOSH), we were able to enjoy a pizza party with Buddy from Dinosaur Train! Ellie has been hooked on Dinosaur Train for a while now so we knew she would be psyched for this event, and we've been looking forward to taking her for months now!

Dinosaur Train at MOSH!

We got there shortly after 5:30 and went straight back to the science theater to meet the little T-Rex himself. Ellie approached him like a long lost friend, running slow-motion into his outstretched arms.

There's Buddy!

Best Buds.

She was so excited!

E.J. got to meet him too, of course!

After meeting Buddy, we went upstairs to the planetarium to watch an episode of Dinosaur Train on the big screen.

Ready for the show!

Of course, E.J. opted to roar like a dinosaur (and yell like a disgruntled child), so he and I stepped out and explored the exhibits on the second floor while Eric and Ellie finished watching the show.

Checking out the dinosaur exhibit

I snapped this one because it will be adorable to look back on when he is an actual astronaut someday.

VIDEO: E.J.'s dinosaur roar! (There's a little delay in his response after I ask him what a dinosaur says, so be patient - it's adorable and worth it!)

When the show was over, we went back downstairs to play in the children's area for a bit.

E.J. practicing his climbing skills

Up at the top of the treehouse. He climbed up there himself.

Then we were ready for dinner. We went over to the first floor classrooms for our meal: pizza, chips and a cookie. I'm pretty confident that was Ellie's lifetime unhealthiest meal, but she loved it.

Pizza party!

The last big event of the evening was a science show in the science theater. While we waited for that to begin, Ellie and I went to check out the museum animal (or, as she says, the "pets").

Checking in with her turtle friends

Little alligator

The science show was neat, and Ellie was very brave through the whole thing, despite a couple of loud noises. I think I could even go so far as to say she enjoyed it!

The science show! In this part, he was showing us how a balloon reacts when put into a container of liquid nitrogen!

She has her trusty "ear mouse" on to protect her from any loud noises, so she's able to enjoy the show!

This was another really fun event at MOSH and we were so happy to be able to take advantage of it!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Visiting With Cousins

I mentioned in my birthday party posts that my cousin Molly and her children came to town from Illinois for the festivities. The day after the party, we went down to my Aunt Debbie's house in Venice for a little more quality time with our cousins! My mom was down there too, so we had a great day with aunts and moms and cousins and babies.

The kids and I got down to Venice around noon. First things first: a quick stop at the playground. But, it was a rather hot day (such is life these days) so we quickly retreated indoors. Of course, the walk back to Aunt Debbie's house was adorable in its own right:

Stop it right now.

Back in the air conditioning, we got some quality playtime underway. Molly's kids and mine are very close in age: our oldests, Ellie and Santiago, are almost exactly two months apart, and our youngests, E.J. and Milena, are eight months apart (a seemingly large gap now, but in a few years, it will seem like nothing!). I love that these cousins are so close and have the opportunity to be great friends! This visit was fun because it was the first time we really got to see Ellie and Santiago playing together. They seemed excited to see each other and, when Ellie stopped hoarding the rocking boat that she took a liking to, they actually interacted and shared some laughs.

They were playing a game that involved throwing beads on each other's legs ("rain") and they found it hilarious.

Watching Curious George together.
Santiago put his arm around Ellie all on his own and the kids had to fend for themselves the rest of the day because the adults all died on the spot.

Cute little cousin feet

The boys watching a little Curious George...

...while Ellie and Milena cuddled. Aaaaw!

We also learned that it is very hard to take pictures of four children three and under and get a photo in which more than one of them looks halfway decent, and you can just cast your dreams of everyone looking at the camera aside right now because that's crazy-talk. Hey, they're all IN the picture. It's all about managing expectations over here.

Oh yeah. We're framing this one.

After lunch and naps for the littler two, we walked over to some nearby fountains and gave the big kids the chance to run around in the water a bit. Ellie was a little timid, and mostly stuck to one or two fountains on the perimeter, but Santiago was fearless!

The little ones riding to the fountains in style

Big kids got the wagon!

Santiago loves it!

Ellie took a more mellow approach.

The little kids got their feet wet, too!

E.J. loved running through and getting splashed!

Milena gets to try it, too!

E.J. is showing his baby cousin what to do

Fun times together!

After a while things started to wind down, but we spent a little longer just sitting in the shade.

Ellie loved cuddling her little cousin

She didn't mind cuddling her bigger cousin, either!

On the walk home, Aunt Debbie treated us to some gelato. Yum! Thanks, AD!

Gelato stop!

Back at the house, we had a yummy dinner of pulled pork followed by molten chocolate cakes, then my kids and I said our goodbyes and hit the road. We'll be seeing Molly and her kids again this weekend for our family reunion, so it was easy to say goodbye knowing our next visit was just a couple weeks away!

By the time we got home, it was late. Both kids had passed out in the car almost immediately, and neither was happy to wake up to move into the house for bed. Ellie walked in to my dad's house and did this on the chair in the entryway:

Bless her sleepy little heart.

Then she sort of whispered, "I just want to go to bed. I just want my jammies," and trudged into her room. That has never happened before in the history of Ellie, so I take that as a sign that she enjoyed her day with her cousins to the fullest!

Thanks so much for a great visit, all! Can't wait to see you again soon!

Friday, July 24, 2015

E.J. is a Hole in ONE!: Golf-Themed First Birthday Party

In my last post, I told you about all the fun we had with our guests at E.J.'s golf-themed first birthday party. But now, I want to talk about all the details! We had a blast planning this party. Eric, my golf-loving husband, was really involved in helping me with it and we were so pleased with the end result.

To my surprise, it is hard to find ready-made golf party supplies. I expected to be able to largely stock up at Party City or something, but golf stuff is sorely lacking. If you want football, basketball, baseball or soccer, you'll have no problem, but golf is severely underrepresented. That meant that I made most everything myself, often with thanks to Pinterest for inspiration. Hopefully by sharing our details I can pay it forward to Internet-land!

The Invitation

Let's start at the beginning, with the invitation! I designed this bad boy myself:


I really wanted to find something I liked on Etsy to avoid making the whole thing from scratch, but nothing really struck my fancy so I just went for it. I designed the invitation in PowerPoint and had it printed through Vistaprint. The argyle background was purchased here from Etsy seller SubwayParty (and used in paper products throughout the party), and the fonts used are: The Bold Font for the "E.J. is One" wording; Superclarendon Regular for the party details; and Jester Regular for the rest.


Attire

E.J. had to look the part of adorable golfer! I managed to find this cuteness on clearance at Crazy 8 (it was an Easter outfit marked way down by June):

I wish we had thought to get a better portrait of his adorable outfit! But doesn't he look great?

The whole thing, all laid out

I remembered that at Ellie's birthday party this year, E.J. mostly wanted to be held by me, so I knew I'd probably end up wearing him a good bit. Not wanting to cover his adorable outfit with a totally not-theme-worthy carrier, I made a little slipcover for my Infantino Mei Tai using this tutorial and nursery argyle fabric I found at Joann's.

On-theme babywearing!

And of course, Big Sister Ellie had to match. I used the same fabric and made her a little pillowcase dress (using this tutorial):

Lovely, darling!

They both looked great!


Decor

The decor is always a fun part for me!

Dining tables:

We used green tablecloths with blue plates/napkins silverware on the tables for this party. For centerpieces, we bought four small clear buckets from Party City. We lined the bottom couple of inches with a sheet of "moss" we got at Hobby Lobby, to look like the grassy golf green. Then we filled the rest of the bucket with red, white and blue tees (an homage to E.J.'s 4th of July birthday) and golf balls. We finished the whole thing off with a big "1" flag that I made.

One of the centerpieces

Closer look at the bucket

The party banner and tournament logo:

I made a big banner that said "The Inaugural E.J. Wat.ers Birthday Invitational" to hang under the pavilion. The font is "Jester" and I cut the letters out of blue and green cardstock and assembled them.

E.J.'s banner in silhouette

You can get a slightly better idea of the colors here

I also put together a little "tournament logo" for use throughout the party:

He has his own tournament crest! Now that's fancy.

The monthly banner & golf balls:

I loved how our setup over the food table looked. We hung a banner of E.J.'s monthly photos, flanked by three paper lanterns that served as "golf balls."

The overall look

The monthly picture banner had each picture printed out, mounted on patterned paper (again, purchased from SubwayParty on Etsy here and here), then mounted again on solid cardstock with a one-inch border. I printed golf balls onto a sheet of carstock then punched them out with a one-inch circle hole punch. Then, I put the corresponding number of golf balls around the border of each monthly picture (so one ball on the one-month photo, two balls on two-months, etc.). We hung all the finished pictures with clothespins on a length of twine.

A portion of the monthly photo banner

For the hanging golf balls, I purchased two three-packs of white paper lanterns from Hobby Lobby. I printed out the Titleist logo and attached them to the lanterns to make them look like Eric's favorite golf balls!

Golf balls in the corners of the pavilion

E.J.'s High Chair

I also decorated E.J.'s high chair with a little banner. Again, I printed out the patterned paper (here and here) and cut it to pennant shapes, then placed the "O-N-E" letters on top. Very festive!

All that high chair needs now is a birthday boy ready to smash some cake!


Food

Our food table

To eat:

The food was pretty standard, but the golf puns were great in number, which pleased me. I love a good pun!

For lunch, we had club sandwiches, fruit wedges, veggies and greens, chip shots (and dip), putter potato salad and fruit and dip par-faits (little cups with fruit dip on the bottom, topped with grapes and strawberries). Yum!

Club sandwiches

Closer view of the sandwiches - they were held together with golf tees instead of toothpicks!

Fruit wedges

Chip shots

Putter potato salad

My cute little par-faits

To drink:

We also had an Arnold Palmer station, with dispensers filled with "sweet tee" and lemonade so our guests could mix their own beverages. We also posted a sign describing the history of the tasty drink.

Arnold Palmer information

Our Arnold Palmer station

Sweets:

For dessert, we had golf cupcakes that I made myself! This was my first attempt at any kind of real cake-decorating but they turned out great. The cupcakes themselves were dark chocolate (just a box mix) in brown wrappers. I made my own green icing thanks to my aunt's recipe and used a grass tip (Decorating Tip #233) to pipe the icing. Then I added a small white sixlet candy and golf flag toothpicks I made. I was so happy with the finished product!

Cupcakes on display!

A closer view of one of my cupcakes

I also made E.J.'s smash cake using the same technique. He had a larger round cake that was piped with "grass" all over except for the smooth "green." Then I added a sixlet and a larger flag and he was all set!

E.J.'s cake


Activities

The E.J. Wat.ers Birthday Invitational Golf Tournament:

We originally looked into having E.J.'s party at a miniature golf course, thinking that it would be great fun to all play a round to kick off the festivities. We didn't end up going that route because of the cost, so we decided to organize a little mini-golf tournament of our own right there at our park pavilion.

The makings of a great tournament!

We picked up some little golf cups (to serve as our holes) and plastic children's golf sets (our great equalizer) from Wal-Mart and Eric put a little three-hole course together. Each hole was marked with a flag that I made.

My Aunt Debbie playing in the tournament! You can see the hole, flag and plastic putter she used.

Eric divided everyone into groups of four and each group started at a different hole, then made their way around to the others. Each group was given a scorecard (designed by me in PowerPoint) and a golf pencil to keep score.

Scorecards and golf pencils

Better look at the scorecard

Everyone had a great time with this! People were laughing and cheering for each other. Everyone was into it!

When the scores were in, Eric tallied everything up and we awarded trophies for first, second and third place. We ordered actual engraved trophies from CrownAwards.com for a very reasonable price! They shipped quickly and were just what we were looking for to really give our tournament that authentic touch.

Trophies for the winners

The Guestbook:

This party continued our tradition of having an actual book for our guests to sign as a keepsake for the birthday boy. This time, we ordered Badges, Egg Salad and Green Jackets: The Masters A to Z from Amazon, and it was just right! We also placed a little instructional sign by the book, alongside an adorable picture of little golfer E.J.


Guestbook setup

Our guestbook sign

Photo Props:

We also opted to continue our tradition of having photo props for people to pose with. We love this part of our parties because it helps us be sure to get fun pictures of everyone who comes, which are really nice to look back on. For this party, we had the prizes awarded to each major champion: the Green Jacket (the Masters), the Wanamaker Trophy (the PGA Championship), the Claret Jug (the British Open) and the U.S. Open Championship Trophy.

Photo props

We put a sign with instructions next to all the props, along with a sample prop-ified picture of our family:

Setup by the photo props

Photo prop sign

Our sample photo

For the green jacket, we did a little thrift store shopping before the party and were able to score a secondhand jacket that was just right for our purposes. We ordered a Masters patch from AmericanPatch on Etsy and I sewed it on. The end result was perfect!

Here is our first-place tournament winner modeling the jacket!

For the trophies, we found pictures of them via Google (with the exception of the Wanamaker—for that one, we used a photo we took ourselves at the World Golf Hall of Fame!). I had them printed at Office Depot and mounted them on foam board.

The trophies

Additionally, we posted signs next to each trophy describing the prize and outlining a little of its history.

The Green Jacket

The Wanamaker Trophy

The Claret Jug

The U.S. Open Trophy


Thank-Yous

Kids' Favors:

For favors, each child received a golf set containing a club and a ball (purchased at Party City). I placed my own labels over the tags on the golf sets with the party logo on one side, and a note ("Thank you FORE coming to my par-TEE! Love, E.J.") on the back. Each child also got a visor (Hobby Lobby) with their name on it, and we put out paint markers and foam stickers so they could decorate their visors if they were so inclined.

Favor sign

Favors all laid out

My sweet niece Milena modeling her visor

Visor decorating time!

Thank You Notes:

I designed thank-you notes to match the invitations (and again, had them printed through Vistaprint):

Thank you notes!

We also always have prints made of our photo prop pictures and send a copy of their picture to each guest with their thank-you note. This time, we also did a little something extra for our tournament winners:

Look at that! My dad made the cover of Golf Digest!

I designed each faux magazine cover in PowerPoint and had them printed along with the rest of the photos. I hope our winners got a kick out of them!

And I think that's it! We had such a great time planning and executing this golf party, and I think our little golfer had a great time celebrating his new hole-in-ONE status!

If you found this post because you are planning a golf party of your own and have any questions, please feel free to email me! Or, if you leave a comment with a question, please be sure to leave an email address so I can properly respond to you!

Happy birthday, little E.J.!