Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pumpkin's Donut Birthday Party

Pumpkin, my oldest, turned 5 this summer and the kid is obsessed with birthday parties. She comes up with so many party themes that she’s got her birthday celebrations planned out for at least the next five years. (If you’re curious, future events may involve Star Wars or roller skating.)

This year, we decided to have her party at the i.d.e.a. Museum, a local children’s museum where we are members. The party includes the room, some decorations and an art project for the kids,  plus admission to the museum all day. It’s pretty low maintenance, but we wanted to put our own spin on it nonetheless, so Pumpkin and I settled on a donut theme. She loves donuts! (But who doesn’t?)

She helped me pick out the plates, napkins, straws and candle from our favorite local party store, Petite Party Studio, and the canisters for the donut holes from Michael’s.  We ordered invitations and a banner from Etsy.

I wanted to include her in the planning because she definitely has her own ideas about how things should be, but I wanted to have a few surprises, too.

Donut Shirt
Pumpkin didn’t know until the day before the party (her actual birthday when she opened gifts at home) that I ordered her a special shirt to wear. Funny story – remember earlier when I told you she loves birthdays? Well, on her birthday, she woke up at 1:30 in the morning ready to start the day. Luckily, my husband was able to get her back to sleep. Then on the day of the party she woke up and got dressed in her new shirt before ever coming out of her room. She still needed a shower before the party so I had her change pack into pajamas, but we were cracking up because this is something we ask her to do every day before school but she has only ever done it once or twice before – she was just so excited for her party!  

She knew I would be picking up donuts and donut holes for the party, and serving flavored milks for the kids and cold brew for the grown-ups. She didn’t know that I also ordered chocolate cake (her favorite!) shaped like a donut. It was a hit!

Donut Seed Favor Bags
I will confess that I’m not a huge fan of party favors because our kids have so much stuff already. (In fact, we usually ask our guests not to bring gifts, although this year Pumpkin requested donations instead.) When we’ve done parties before, the gifts have been edible, and they were this year as well! She picked her favorite patterns of Bumkins’ small snack bags as favors (which I love because they are reusable and machine washable, and she loves because they have her favorite characters). The surprise for Pumpkin was what I put inside – donut seeds! These were simply strawberry and chocolate Cheerios mixed together. We rarely get chocolate cereal (this was actually probably a first in our house since we’ve had kids) so the girls were pretty excited.

Pumpkin had a great time at the party painting and playing with her sister and their friends at the museum – and of course, all the sugar involved! If you can’t splurge a little on your birthday, when can you?

Friday, July 1, 2016

10 Summertime Poolside Essentials

My oldest was born in Reno, and in her first 18 months she was in a pool exactly once and it was at a resort casino – how’s that for a stereotype? 
When she turned a year and a half in January of 2013, we signed her up for her first swim lessons at an indoor pool and I remember driving there in the snow thinking what an odd time to be swimming.
The timing worked out, though … at the end of March that year, I accepted a job in Phoenix, and we moved back to Arizona (my husband grew up here and I had previously lived here). 
Summer must-haves
Now my oldest is 4 and has a 2-year-old sister. Here in the Valley of the Sun, we find ourselves in the pool much more frequently – at our friends’ houses, pool parties at the rec centers, etc. And so many splash pads, too!
We also have our girls enrolled in swim lessons every summer to help them learn to be safe around the water. Their lessons are four nights a week, so we always have our poolside essentials ready to go.
Poolside Essentials:
  • Sunscreen: This is a must in the summer, and really should be a year-round habit. Our kiddos get slathered every morning before school and every evening before we head to the pool. 
  • Swim suits: Sometimes the girls wear traditional swimsuits, sometimes I put them in long-sleeve tops with UV protection. 
  • Swim diapers: Our oldest is done with diapers. For our youngest, we love the Bumkins swim diapers that can be worn over and over again. Of course, I love that we are not throwing disposables in the landfill. But let’s be honest – I also love the cute patterns and the fact that they look much nicer under a swimsuit. 
  • Water shoes: The girls need slip-proof water shoes both for walking around the pool before and after lessons, and for water day at school. Closed-toe are the safest (and required for school).
  • Towels and cover-ups: To be more efficient during our jam-packed swim-lesson nights, we bring one towel for the parent who goes in the pool and terrycloth robe cover-ups for the girls. 
  • Sun hats: We don’t need these for swim lessons, but for a long day at the beach or pool – or anytime in the sun – it’s best to have the added protection. I’m always concerned about the parts in my girls’ hair getting too much sun!
  • Sunglasses: Sunlight can damage the eyes so, like hats, these are also good to keep handy if you’ll be outside for a while. 
  • Wet/dry bags: We keep these bags everywhere – the diaper bag, the girls’ backpacks for school – and they get tons of use in the summer. The outer pocket can hold sunscreen, goggles, sunglasses and more, while we use the inside pocket to transport wet clothes home. 
Wet/dry bag
    • Goggles: While a parent still goes in the pool with our youngest for swim lessons and she rarely likes to get her head wet, our oldest is a little more advanced and she always wants her goggles on to put her face under the water. Little sis usually demands some after lessons are over to be like her sister. 
    • Water: We’ve held steady over 110 degrees for several days in a row now. I offer both girls water frequently and ask them to drink up and refill their bottles at school so they are hydrated before going out to swim in the heat.
     Hanging to dry