Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Operation PS35!

Cassie with a Birthday Coup here! 

As followers of IDD, you know that Patra likes to plan events from weekend winery tours movie nights, royal weddings & birthday parties. She and I are very similar in the fact we tend to plan our own birthday parties because well who else can do it as well as we can? So this year we turn 35 and it should be epic? I mean 35- we are smack dab in the middle of being Thirtysomethings! As P has said more than once “anything ending in a 0 or 5 should be a big deal. This calls for a special celebration and what do you get the girl who plans everything? A birthday where she can’t plan anything! 

 Wouldn’t it be fun I thought if Dan & I could surprise P with a weekend trip to see me in Dixie? Dan was a great sport considering we knew it could be a dangerous operation! We’ve spent the last 6 weeks planning how and what and when. Patrick, the work husband, and Jenni B have helped to pull this off by requesting her day off (Patrick) and entertaining her anger over the absence of plans and/or making plans (Jenni). It reached fever pitch on Monday when said plans hadn’t been made by Mr.W: 
Sent at 10:38 AM on Monday 
Patra: ok, I just planned my own bday I cant help it 

 We all have traded a ton of emails with our own “Patra is pissed and has no idea stories”. On top of that her boss “scheduled” her for her favorite work task on Friday. heee I’m not sure if she’s going to be happy or even more pissed when this little plan has been revealed! 

 The Reveal: Today is the first day of “Birthday Week”. As mentioned above, birthdays and the execution of birthdays are a big deal and it all kicks off on the first day of BW. So, right about now, Dan is handing Patra her plane tickets and this custom invitation from Because another thing P loves is custom invites!

To you this invitation look likes gibberish, but to us it’s perfectly clear. We’ve been friends for 20 years (even though I never watch the same shows and I wore cleats- not pleats: all things that signal lasting friendship) and have had codes for just about as long.
Per the invitation, details of the weekend will be laid out here as packing, or what we call paperdolling, is probably the most important element (and most discussed) of any trip.  For example, we’re taking a high school girl’s trip in July to celebrate all our 35ths to LA and we’re already determining what to wear on the plane. Yes- paperdolling is that important…

The Details:  First up the weather 
Friday post arrival we’ll have mimosas made from the finest Cupcake Prosecco and then dine al fresco at  Rosebud where the actually serve a  Friday brunch!! After we’ve stuffed ourselves we can walk it off by doing a little shopping

A trip to Dixie wouldn’t be complete now without  Aunt P spending time with the cutest boy in the world. We’ll pick him up early since Friday night is all about the biggest movie premiere of 2012. 

Now, I must admit, I am not one for pop culture phenomenons (90210, Sex And The City are two that stand out).  P and I almost didn’t become friends because of my lack of knowing (early in 1993) who Brenda & Dylan were and I never, ever get her references to SATC except nods to Carrie & Big.  This time around however, it’s my turn to throw around Katniss, Peeta & Effie to blank stares!  That’s right: It’s time for the Games.. The Hunger Games!  Since P & I always go to the movies when we’re together the timing couldn’t be more ideal.  I’m hosting a little pre party with some of my equally enthused friends and then it’s off to the megaplex 

As excited as I am for movie night, I am beyond thrilled for our Saturday plans. I mean THRILLED! Keeping a secret about this weekend has been one thing, but keeping a secret about the location for day 2 has been downright painful!  Besides being one of Travel & Leisure’s best hotels in America, it is also one of P’s top must visit destinations. 
Oh yes, it’s true! We are going to RC for 24 hours of fabulousness!
Saturday morning will be leisurely- hopefully spent on the patio of my house (if the pollen goes away) before embarking to Greensboro

Our first destination: 
The #5 in the country (again according to a fancy magazine) spa where will emerge looking 25!

If we leave the spa sometime before the end of the night, we’ll enjoy a snack with this view.

Perhaps take in a little Champagne Tasting- yes please!

Have a little dinner here enjoying their Spring Tasting Menu
And in true, rustic fashion, there is a campfire every night complete with complimentary (because at the RC, you don’t say free) s’mores.  I’m pretty sure we’ll be finishing our tour fireside.

Sunday morning is all about room service and if we’re feeling all healthy there are yoga classes and trail hikes we can take. Somehow I don’t see that happening, but I thought I’d throw it out there just in case 35 brings a renewed since of fondness for exercise on a Sunday morning.

Even though our time in luxury is fleeting we still have a full day of fun planned. Upon arriving back in Atlanta, Patra’s closest cousin, Kim, will whisk her away to their house for the afternoon. 
And then it's back to DC where I hope Mr. W has planned something special for this birthday girl! 

I Do Declare I am so excited! Happy Birthday week to my LIT & CAR BFF!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Operation Big Boy Bed

For most of his life E has been a pretty good sleeper- save for the first 7 months. Once he got the hang of it though, we all started sleeping like well.. babies. He liked his crib & never tried to climb out- until a few months ago in a rare fit of rage in the middle of the night.  I hear the pitter patter and next thing I know my pantless boy is standing in my room totally unaffected by the fact he just climbed out of his jail cell.  

Momentary panic set in for us. We thought he'd be safe & sound for at least another YEAR in his crib. I liked him being confined- let's face it- what parent doesn't? Once your child becomes mobile it's the only place that can keep them in one place. We did a little temporary fix- put the mattress on the floor with the crib surrounding. It was great for confinement, but terrible on getting him in & out.  It was only a matter of time before that set up no longer worked for us especially since Houdini was no match for the pack & play at his grandparents' houses. 

What better time to transition to a 'big boy bed' than in conjunction with a birthday?  We've been talking it up for weeks- asking if he's ready to sleep in a big bed and that babies sleep in cribs, but the timing wasn't right until yesterday. Really, the 'timing' excuse was more for our benefit. Any disruption to our nice little routine at nap & night was something M & I struggled with as we had no idea how he would react. We'd heard all the stories of kids destroying their rooms, of opening doors continuously for hours and the list goes on...  

E loves to 'help daddy' put things together- he's such a Gokey! And in our copious amounts of research on this topic, we found a common thread- have your child help you get his room ready. So, that's what we did

Voila! In addition to the 'big boy bed', we changed his room decor from baby to toddler. More on that those updates in the next post.

So, nap time came around and we did our normal book routine and I left. He didn't cry,but climbed out of bed as soon as I shut the door & proceeded to wander around his room for 45 minutes playing and checking to see if we would come back if he made noise. We didn't. I guess he finally gave up and ended up here- in the floor underneath his ottoman. Half of nap was spent there, he woke up & climbed into bed and slept for another hour. Success!

Now the question around nighttime performance was lurking. Our Ped recommended we follow our normal  routine and put a night light in his room. We opted not to put a rail on his crib because it's so low to the floor & well he has to learn boundaries sometime, right? I mean we're not going to tote a rail everywhere we go. So after books were read and lights off, M left. E did cry for a bit & unplugged the monitor (his way of getting us back in his room), but all in all, he did great. 10 minutes of angst maybe before crawling into bed with a book (my boy).  Since there was no rail, it was inevitable that he'd fall out as he's a big time roller. He did, but only once, didn't cry & went right back to sleep. 

This morning I heard him get up, turn his light on & was sitting by the door asking for a diaper change when I came in. I'm not counting this a 100% success story just yet as anyone with small tots knows- they love to keep you on your toes, but the first attempt couldn't have gone any better!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Choo Choo E's Two

Let's just get this out of the way first- I am a terrible blogger. I know this and I think all the time "this should be a blog post" and then reality- sometimes of the tv variety gets in the way. My friend Amanda let me know her displeasure at my lack of posts at Christmas. Well Amanda, I heard you so here you go...2 months later. 

I can't believe my little dude and the whole reason for this blog will be two on Thursday. We threw him a bigger than necessary party on Saturday in our tiny house. Luckily, Mother Nature was nice to us again and held off the rain long enough for the kids to exhaust themselves on E's new fortress. 

Per the title, the theme (because what party in my mind is good without a theme?) was Choo Choo E's Two. It all started when I found this shirt on Shop Zoolu. E's pants are actually overalls by Osh Kosh I found at a consignment sale last week. So with the theme done I was off to the races with the details.

Invitations were done by my friend, Margaret, of goodinvites. In my typical fashion, I sent her the details and asked if she had time about 1 week before I needed them. Luckily, Margaret is good people and worked me in to her hectic schedule. Since I was super lazy last year and never got out thank you notes I went ahead and had her make up personalized matching cards too. 

Crafts and creativity do not come easy to me. I admire all of those people that can take a paper box and visualize a finished product or see a treat cone and whip up 20 of them while I'm still trying to roll the first one. Luckily, I married into a family of creative types who seem to gladly take on my pinterest finds and make them better than the original. 

Example 1: The Train
I sent Mamou a picture of a few cardboard trains I'd found while surfing the www and asked her if she might be willing to whip one up for the birthday party. Since she'd already made a bus & plane for E's class at school surely she could create an engine. Right? Well, this is what she did:

Not only did she create an engine the kids could stand in, but 3 cars too. The kids went nuts

We are taking it to E's school so that all the kids can enjoy it forever until the end of the week!

Example 2: The Tracks
Another pinterest find was duct tape laid out in a tracks design on a driveway.  Thanks to Maddycakes Muse for the inspiration for the outside decor."YES"- I exclaimed! Must.have.these! E's party would not be complete without. If I had attempted this execution I would have wasted more tape than applied and the tracks would have been wavy, in the grass and guests would have had to turn their heads to get the idea. Again, enter crafty husband who did this while I was out to get the cake & we still have 3/4 of a roll  for future tape needs.

Example 3: The Treat Cones

Yes- let's give popcorn in open containers to small children to wander around our house! What a perfect idea! Amazingly enough, that thought didn't occur to me until I vacuumed many popcorn kernels off the floor post party. I wanted to serve it because popcorn is an inexpensive, cute snack especially when served in treat cones.  While I had found a template for said cones on-line we ended up just rolling normal sized sheets of card stock (hobby lobby $2 on sale) into cones and adhering stickers I printed with vintage railroad logos found on google.

For presentation I had originally purchased a big foam board was going to insert lollipop sticks into each one, but that didn't work. So we placed them all in a big basket lined with tissue paper. 

I'm so lucky that I have people to help me bring my stolen reinterpreted  ideas to life! 

Here is how everything else went down:

Treat Bags:
I found most of the goodies from Train They had an amazing array of themed favors, with very reasonable prices and really fast shipping. This was a must since I thought I had placed an order only to find out I didn't. I ordered my loot with only 5 shipping days before the party and it all arrived ahead of schedule. Each bag contained a train whistle, a sheet of stickers, a pencil & for the older kids- a paint your own train.   

The paint trains were found on clearance at Target two to a pack. I just tied each one together with ribbon & a tag I printed using business card stock

I packaged them all in white paper lunch sacks and slapped another label on them using the same train image which I copied from the original invitation & then used some creative picture formatting in powerpoint

The Food:
I kept it sooo simple this year. Since the party was at 3:30 there was no need to do lunch or dinner. Just light snacks. I wanted to minimize the amount of work & leftover food we had to deal with. I had seen lots of train parties with the food in appropriately named cars: "dairy", "produce", "logs" etc. Well, I ran out of time & energy to recreate. So, I just laid out serving dishes in a train-ish shape and served pretzel logs, animal cookies, fruit, string cheese and chicken salad sandwiches cut out with a train cookie cutter. Those were gone in minutes. 

I am obsessed with Publix cakes! They are so delicious, they will make anything and you can't beat the price. I found a version of the cake I wanted on and Publix made it perfectly. The train topper was also from Let's just say there wasn't a bite left.

Thankfully, in addition to cake we also had delicious cookie pops from my friend Shelley's company Sticky Sweets and my Meme made 5 dozen sugar cookies. Mmm sweets!

It was a great party! E hasn't stopped talking about it. Next year we're either going to have a smaller gathering or move to a bigger venue. And you know I already have theme!
Off to bed. What a day!