Activities, featured, Parenting

Leaf Rubbings

LeafRubbings

It’s officially September! What does that mean??? It means that I can now shamelessly put up all my fall and Halloween decor without feeling guilty or embarrassing my neighbors! It means that I am now in full fledged “fall mode” despite the fact that it is still sweltering outside! Check out this little sneak peak of our fall mantle this year…

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I think it’s interesting that as a child, fall was my least favorite season. I’m certain this had something to do with school starting, and summer being over. As an adult, I simply adore the chilly air, the beautiful colors, fun recipes, and tons of holiday activities. As an adult, fall is now my absolute favorite time of year. I LOVE any excuse to decorate, and fall marks the beginning of “decorating season.” A mantle is a blank slate just waiting to be transformed. I used to be a purist when it came to fall decor. I never decorated with anything “Halloween themed.”I stuck with pumpkins, corn stalks, and hay bales.  I’ve always been under the opinion that Halloween decor was fake looking and somewhat “trashy.”  In the past few years, I’ve grown to appreciate the addition of a few Halloween pieces to my own decor. I think i prefer simple and more classic looking Halloween decor for my own home, but I’m open to anything that’s done up right! Here I utilized dried birch branches offset at different heights on the left. I also purchased some cut out bats a few years ago from Big Lots. I always stick them to the walls and decor on the mantle to add some depth. They are also waterproof and I use them outside on my porch as well. I have a few old windows and pictures that I rotate on the mantle throughout the year. I generally pick the oldest & spookiest looking window for this time of year. The rest of the decor was picked up during yard sales, and post holiday sales. I always keep an eye out for things even out of season to score a great price!

After decorating, I let Neyland chose our project this week. She chose to do leaf rubbings! This is one of our favorite fall activities, although we actually do it several times throughout the year. It’s also a nice way to get some “fall artwork” up in your home!

We started out by venturing out in our yard to collect some cool looking leaves. You’ll want to take the time to pick ones that have super cool patterns and shapes. Here are the ones that we chose.

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If you can’t tell from the picture, she was pretty excited about this!

After you get your leaves, you’ll need a few sheets of white paper, some crayons, and a smooth surface. Let your little one pick a few leaves and place them on a sheet of paper. Next, place another sheet on top of the leaves and use a crayon to “rub” the pattern of the leaf onto the paper.

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You may want to help your kiddos hold the paper nice and still. Mine has a tendency to move the top paper around and lose her place on her leaf.

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Check out our finished products!

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We also took the time to identify and label what types of leaves we had collected and colored. She enjoyed learning that maple syrup actually comes from maple trees! Now we have some nice fall themed artwork to hang up in our home! Yay fall!!!

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Activities, DIY, Parenting

Un “Four” gettable Birthday

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Food table layout. I scored the popcorn bags from the dollar tree, found the cardboard cotton candy holders at party city, I cut out her name on a black foam board from Dollar tree and inserted Christmas lights at measured intervals to make the sign.

 

How do I have a FOUR YEAR OLD?!?!

Seriously….how did this happen? Needless to say, like other year, I’m left wondering where time has gone and HOW my little baby got so big so fast. I always enjoy making a fun project out of her birthday parties. I start planning them months in advance….literally. This step is vital if you intend on not losing your mind, and getting supplies on a budget.

So how do you throw your kid an amazing un “four” gettable party?

Step 1: Pick a theme.

I always look at things that she is interested in. I try to stay away from “store bought” themed supplies and get CREATIVE. It’s more exciting for everyone. This year there was no question. She has been completely OBSESSED with “The Greatest Showman.” If you haven’t seen this movie, seriously make a point to do so. It is one of the best movies I have seen in years. Not trying to drop and spoilers, but it is a musical about the beginnings of the circus. So bright colors, amazing music, cool characters…..easy to see why my child is obsessed.

Step 2: Do some research & plan

Scout around online and on Pinterest for some basic ideas. I found some great decor and game ideas that I was able to modify and expand upon to meet my needs. Decide what is most important, and focus on those details. I made lists of what food I planned to serve, what games/activities I intended to have, what big decor items I really wanted, and what kind of party favors I wanted to have. I further broke each list down into items that I already had and that could be used vs. what I needed to purchase. Having a list of items to be “on the lookout for” a few months in advance can be a BIG money saver. I kept a list in my purse and was able to score a huge stuffed lion at a thrift store, a huge stuffed giraffe from a family friend, and a whole roll of tickets to give out for games from a random box at a yard sale. Make a basic outline of how you want the party to go. Be fluid with it and don’t set expectations too high. When will everyone play games? When will kids eat? When is the swimming? etc

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Photo Booth Area for Guests. I used $0.97 plastic table cloths for all the black backdrops and red/white “circus tent” decor. The stuffed lion was a thrift store purchase. The giraffe was borrowed from a friend. The Weight bar prop was a re-purposed wrapping paper roll painted black with 2 black balloons on the end.

3. Work & store

I spread the prep work out over a long period of time when I plan parties. Signs and other custom decor pieces that need painting can easily be worked on here and there when time allows. They really add a lot of visual impact to a party. spreading things out also allows you to spread out the cost of supplies over a few months. Keep a mental list of the things that need to be done the final week, the day before, and day of the party.

As long as the decor isn’t going to cause a problem, I start putting it up about a week ahead of the party. Adjustments can be made if more supplies are needed. For Neyland’s circus party it was really helpful to start putting things up early. I had been watching the weather, and there was a good possibility of storms the day of the party, which was going to make things difficult for many of the games/ signs/ decor that I had planned. I was able to plan out where things would need to go inside to accommodate unpleasant weather. Some furniture had to be moved, and a few creative adjustments helped shuffle things into a storm ready layout.

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Found a fun circus party sign available for purchase online, instead I used foam board from the dollar tree and a random old fencing plank to recreate it for my needs.

4. Delegate

When it gets down to the final few days of the party, it is important to delegate tasks that you simply can’t get done. Being a single Mom certainly complicates things in this department. Tasks like mowing and weed eating the lawn can be downright impossible for a single Mama with so much bad weather and party work going on. Thankfully my parents were kind enough to pitch in and help get yard work completed while i dealt with last minute party planning. Ask a family member to go get the ice to keep drinks cool. Ask a photo happy friend to grab some shots of the party while it’s going on, because you’ll likely be too busy to remember to do so. I am fortunate enough to have a co-worker who was kind enough to do so.

5. Party and Enjoy!

The cake is done, food laid out, kids starting to arrive. Keep to your general outline/timeline of the party you prepared. Be prepared to change and adapt that list as needed. For example: I planned to have the kids Eat first, and play games while their tummies settled, Swim for an hour or so, and then do cake, presents, and collect prizes. Due to the weather, that outline was forced to be shuffled around. When everyone arrived, the clouds parted and radar indicated that we would be storm free for an hour or two. To make sure everyone got pool time, swimming had to come first. A small price to pay for some really happy kiddos that had a great time. Be prepared to handle any food that needs to be cooked or heated, be sure to announce when food is being served, games are being played, and presents are being opened. Make sure to take time to enjoy and appreciate all the hard work you put into the party. It’s ok for Mamas to have fun too!

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The Prize Wall. Rather than making party favor bags, I thought I would let the kids pick their own favors using the tickets they won playing games. Dollar tree prizes put in ziplocks and labeled made the kids so much more excited!
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Make sure you utilize what you have. I used a random chair from Neyland’s craft table to create height and depth on the food table. It doesn’t matter what you use, just make it look like it belongs there!
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My one decor item that did get rained out was a popcorn balloon arch I had planned. I saved some big boxes from work and wrapped them in red/white paper to make them look like big popcorn boxes. I intended to us a long piece of flexible trim to make the arch and attach the balloons, but having it indoors meant there would be no arch, so i just placed the balloons inside the boxes.
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Neyland’s cake. I made it. This is the one area I might recommend hiring out. This cake took me quite some time to put together and the fondant was a pretty big headache to work with. Unless you have experience, maybe leave this to a professional.