Much discussion has been going on recently in the Sports World about the risks, the causes and effects, of head related injuries to athletes– specifically concussions. With players coming forward giving their testimony’s and sharing their stories of life after repeated head trauma and scientific research to back them up it’s made it so main stream it was recently featured in a major motion picture. You can find out what you need to know about head injuries by reading The Head Injury Reports. While this issue gaining more coverage is great, it frustrates me to no end that this news seems heavily geared toward one sport alone.
A fun and adorable, less invasive pumpkin idea– this easy Frozen Queen Elsa Pumpkin is perfect for any fans of the movie.
In this day and age, it’s easy for parents and teens to get disconnected. It’s even easier for teens to feel like their parents just don’t ‘understand.’ Rather than talking at them, I try to take a few minutes every now and then to write them a little letter. Even the toughest of teens, the ones who so badly want to do it all themselves, sometimes need a little sentiment and reassurance. Find out how you can spotlight your teen’s awesomeness without putting them on the spot.
We’ve all played with play doh. Most of us have heard of gak or slime. It’s time to introduce everyone to Playful Edible Sludge! It’s slimy, it’s sticky, it’s the perfect texture for messy fun that’s also a great way to incorporate sensory skills into everyday play.
The youngest son turned 6 a few weeks ago. And gone are the days of Mommy’s-pic, cute, cuddly party themes. We’ve finally graduated into picking our own, from last year’s Minecraft Party to this year’s choice of The TMNT.
Cowabunga Dudes (and Dude-ettes) !
Let’s take a look at our totally radical Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Birthday Party theme.
First, the cornerstone of any good party: The Cake.
We opted for an actual turtle to grace our cake, and the sons favorite it had to be. I thought our little Mikey (Michelangelo) turned out pretty well.
I frosted it completely with green, left it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then used a toothpick to lightly draw the outlines of the face into the frosting. I recommend starting with the nose line. If you get that right, everything else is *ahem* a piece of cake. Then we piped in frosting of various colors to fill in the lines, and used a spatula to gently smooth them out. We finished it off by piping a line of orange rosettes around the bottom edge.
The Turtles, Mikey especially, have a thing for pizza– so naturally we had to have some at the party. We picked up a few pizzas from Little Caesar’s for ‘eats’ and had pizza, and more pizza for dessert with these cute cookies. They’re sugar cookies I frosted red. The ‘cheese’ is finely grated white chocolate, with red M & M ‘pepperonis’. SOn # 2 works at a local pizzeria and snagged me a few pizza boxes for presentation, but I’m sure most local Mom & Pop joints wouldn’t mind giving you one or two upon request.
We had Oreo cookie ‘Sewer Lids’ to munch on too. And in a nod to our anthropomorphic friends radio-active origins, we had some Toxic ‘Ooze’ to wash it all down with.
We tend to keep the deocrations simple, using things we already have on hand. In this case? Nunchucks on the table (another nod to our beloved Mike) and talking turtle figurines. We used plastic bowls that happened to coordinate and red solo cups for untensil holders. I did splurge on coordinating plates and napkins ( each about $1 at Walmart) and a table cloth to keep clean up easy.
Another thing we don’t do? Goody bags. You get cake and ice cream. Copious amounts of sugar are my gift/ thank you to you. On the other hand, we all know how much I love a good diy, or any kind of imaginitive play the keeps them away from outlets and batteries. When I saw an idea to make your own wearable turtle shells? Every kid was gonna get one! And they were adorable 🙂 I’ll have a how-to up next week so you can out fit your own Ninja Turtles in proper DIY-couture.
And here’s my gorgeous sister so kindly modeling a shell for the birthday boy, and also using some of the photo props from a kit we found on clearance (again at Walmart) in the party planning section.
Simple. Straightforward. And the birthday boy and his friends thought it was all totally gnarly. Even the one boy who looked at my like I’d grown two heads when I asked him to eat over a plate as he was on his third bite of pizz-ookie, sprinkling my carpet with ‘cheese’.
I went round and round about sharing this here (it’s something I’d only shared on my personal FB page and to a limited audience at that) but after talking with my husband, my family, and friends, I’ve decided that it’s part of my testimony, and not just mine, but that of my family and my children’s as well.
“Having children is a blessing. Being able to have children, even more so. I was told, years ago, by my very much trusted, and tried and true OB, that I may never be able to conceive. God brought 3 boys (and my husband) into my life who very much needed a mother, and not just a mother but a Mom who could actually be present. And then we were blessed with the surprising and much anticipated arrival of Grayson, whom we thought would complete our family. Two miscarriages down, one of which we suffered two weeks ago, and one that was four years ago, it does not get easier. It’s not as simple as, you didn’t even know so that makes it easier. It’s still and always a struggle, and each time we have to claw our way back to the surface. That ‘knife’ I feel digging inside me each time, is one that cuts to the soul. I am blessed that I have a husband who ‘gets’ it even when some days he really doesn’t. I will always thank my God for the family he crafted for me, and I will look for those two souls when I pass, but for me, for US, they’re still very much present and a part of our lives. Don’t discredit them, their worth, their value. My babies are my babies … From start to finish. And one day we will get to meet.”
The love and grace I’ve received from family and friends has been nothing short of amazing, also both eye-opening and pretty damn humbling. I’ve also heard other mothers’ stories of love and loss, and through all the tears, hugs, love, and tissues there’s one thing I can’t stop thinking about. Why did I suffer and struggle in such silence the first time we tried to wade through these uncharted waters. Why didn’t I reach out for the life preserver that was my friends and family?? Why didn’t I let them share my burden, my hurt, my heartbreak and help me heal??
What I’m learning this time around, since breaking my silence, is that having a miscarriage, loosing a baby, a life– interrupted, isn’t something that can be helped, and it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. So why is it such a taboo subject for us to share?
I still can’t answer that question myself, but what I have learned is this:
Ladies, you are not alone. You do not have to go through this alone. You and your s.o. Do not have to go through this alone. You have no idea how many of your friends and loved ones have been where you are now. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Even when words may not suffice, or there’s nothing left to say, let them hug you, let them love you. Let them celebrate life, and loss, with you. It will give that precious life, interupted, the importance it deserves. And you, because whether you meet your child in this life or the next … You are still a mother. You are their Mother. And neither of you will ever forget one another.
So why should anyone else?
Another Easter’s almost here, and you know what that means. PEEPS! Peeps here, Peeps there, Peeps are everywhere. The hubs and the sons go nuts for these things. The hubs prefers to slit open a package and let them sit for a couple of days as he finds them quite pleasing when stale. (YUCK!) The sons will badger me incessantly if they see a package in the pantry, even though if they just patiently wait until Easter the bunny always loads their baskets up with several packages.
The past few years, I’ve seen mroe and more ideas floating around with different ideas and suggested uses for them. Last year we made Peep kabobs for their baskets. I noticed they’re now selling them in stores this year. Well this year we took it above and beyond by making this simple, but awesome edible ‘playdough’ for Son # 4. Even the older sons wanted in on this action. Although I was forbidden from photo documenting the event. No evidence and plausible deniability… blah, blah, blah. Who knows, maybe this will find it’s way to the Peep market eventually. In the meantime, it doesn’t get any easier and it’s tons of simple, sugary fun for you and the little ones to gear up for the holiday.
1 tbsp of coconut oil
3 tbsp of powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
Put both the peeps and the oil in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for them for 10 seconds, just long enough to watch the peeps “grow” with the heat. Take the bowl out of the microwave and add in the powdered sugar and stir. As you stir the mixture in the bowl, the ‘dough’ should begin pulling away from the edges of the bowl. Lightly dust the lump with powdered sugar and work out any additional lumps in your dough with your hands.
If your dough is too sticky or too oily, add more powdered sugar, and alternatively if it is cracking, add a touch more oil. Use your hands to knead the dough until everything’s equally incorporated and it has reached a malleable consistency.
Ok, so while we’re calling this playdough, it’s actually pretty much marshmallow fondant with some added pizzazz and Easter-y fun from the Peeps. The pink ball was with traditional peeps, but we went out on a limb and gave the party cake peeps a try, and it tasted even better! This edible marshmallow dough can be used and played with just like regular play dough, but it does not store well. So if you’re getting ready to make it, be sure to have the kiddos on hand to get the most play time in with it.
Concerned this is too much sugar? Check out this version from Still Playing School that uses cornstarch instead of powdered sugar. Coincidentally, they also make a bigger batch so it’d be great for larger quantities for multiple little ones to enjoy.
Halloween came and went again this year, and like every other year, the sons’ didn’t disappoint with any of their creative costumes.
Son #4 as Kristof from Disney’s Frozen
Has Kristof ever looked so cute?! At some point soon I will get a tutorial up for any of you other Mama’s with another son obsessed with the frosty flick.
Son # 3 decided to go as Scarecrow from Batman. The hubs and I had fun putting our heads together helping him make his mask.
While he may have terrified several young neighbors, I know the cheeks under that mask.
And then we have Son #2
Don’t get him started on the 6 going on 8 pack that he’s developed and is spending every wrestling practice honing 😉 This was the perfect costume for him this year.
I should have seen it coming. I should have been better prepared.
What happens when a 5 year old sees his Bubba’s gone green and masquerading as one of his favorite Marvel characters? Yes, he immediately wants to be green too. I was able to fend off the giant mega meltdown when I said no by pointing out that we were ready to go trick or treating and he was already dressed as Kristoff. Did he want to miss out on any candy? No. Crisis averted. Actually… diverted. Since the very next day he woke up at the break of dawn to come badger me about being green.
Son #4 had really bad eczema when he was younger, so we had to be really careful about anything we applied to his skin. This led us to coming up with many homemade alternatives, even to things as simple as face-paint. Because what kid doesn’t love to paint on or be painted on?! Even though he’s aged out of most of his skin issues, I still air on the side of caution. So, homemade face-paint it is for him. Shoot, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Son #2 found his body paint at the grocery store for $1.50. Score! We were both pretty dang pleased with that price point.
So, if your kid’s Halloween costume calls for a painted face next year, or your just looking for a bit of indoor fun this Winter, take caution when considering the stock at your local Halloween/Costume store that’s likely loaded with toxic ingredients and allergens. Instead make your own face paint, using three simple ingredients that will neither harm the planet or your precious little ghoul or goblin. What’s more, you probably have both of these ingredients already.
This recipe produces a creamy paint that is easy to apply and easy to remove.
3 Ingredient, DIY Face-paint
food coloring, or washable, non toxic paints
pallet/plate for the face paints
1. Mix together two heaping teaspoons of cornstarch with one teaspoon of baby lotion. Add a few drops of food coloring, or a dollop of paint, and mix together well until you have reached the desired consistency. For a thicker paint add more cornstarch and to make it runnier add more baby lotion, or water, to the mixture.
Son # 1 is a walking, talking teenage garbage disposal. He loves food. He’s obsessed with food. He’s a growing boy, for sure. I get that. There are certain foods he prefers to eat, like poptarts and hotpockets and generally anything that’s heavily processed or full of caloric garbage, but in a pinch will grab whatever is closest to his face in the refrigerator and just work his way down through the shelves and drawers. I’ve witnessed him eat droopy, on it’s last leg, I personally probably would have tossed it and sucked up the loss, celery, slathered in peanut butter, shoving it in his mouth while making a face and asking me why I buy such awful tasting stuff. Last weekend we went out for burgers; I stood there awestruck, and mildly horrified as he ordered two full-size meals, while the hubs and I issued the standard rule the sons are all familiar with, “if you order it, you have to eat it. ALL of it.” This didn’t deter him in the least and he smiled as he said he’d be good. We watched him scarf down his own food and then immediately begin eyeing his brother’s plates to see if there were any stragglers who’d need help cleaning their plates. To his disappointment, their weren’t.
The point of this story? Son # 1’s birthday was last week. His 16th birthday. The hubs and I don’t buy cakes, we make them. When the sons were younger they would inundate me with all kids of creative possibilities and decorative ideas for their birthday cakes. As they’ve gotten older, they pretty much leave it up to Mom. They just want to know that there will in fact be copious amounts of ice cream and frosting flowing. I always try to come up with something that either says something about them, or represents something they love. With Son # 1, that’s food of any kind, and in desperate times, in any capacity. What better cake for him, especially after his recent burger binge, than a Big Mac Burger birthday cake?!
It’s super easy to make, even for a total beginner at cake decorating. The best part for us? Seeing his eyes light up when he saw the finished product. Those cool Mom moments may come a whole lot less often as he’s gotten older, but they’re still just as special when they do.
Also, have you ever seen a ‘pretty’ Big Mac? Be honest. No, you haven’t, because they’re kinda messy and never look that perfect way that they do in the commercials, relax and know that your cake doesn’t have to look ‘perfect’. In this case, messy is spot on.
2 boxes yellow cake mix
1 box (family size) fudgy brownie mix
frosting, homemade or store-bought
green, yellow, and orange food coloring
1. Cook each box of cake mix according to the package directions to make 2 circular cakes. In the end you should have 4 cakes total, although we’ll only be using 3 here.
2. Mix your brownie batter up and divide between two circular cake pans, the same size as the ones used to make the cakes. Cook according to package instructions.
3. Divide your frosting into 3 separate bowls. Use your food coloring and add into the frosting to make one bowl of each color, green, yellow, and orange.
4. Using a sharp knife, cut the crusty outer edges away from the cakes so they look for hamburger bun-like.
5. The bottom will obviously be a bun. So put one of your cakes down onto whatever surface you’ll be presenting the cake on. Top that with a brownie hamburger patty.
6. Spread/drizzle the different colored frosting’s over the ‘patty’, allowing some to run down the sides, to represent the lettuce, mustard, and secret sauce.
7. Top that with another cake ‘bun’ and another brownie ‘patty’. Repeat the frosting layer.
8. Top this with the last ‘bun’. Voila, you’ve got a cake-mac! I sprinkled on some sesame seeds for added effect, but that’s totally optional.
Anybody who has a young boy (or even girl) right now probably has heard of Minecraft. It is the thing. Literally, THE. THING. But if you’re like my husband, or our parents, you probably have no clue what it actually is other than a game the kids play that they’re crazy about. And even worse, if you’re trying to throw a Minecraft-themed party, you might not be able to find many decorations or idea at the main stores, or even Party City. Ahh! This could be time to panic. But rest assured it’s not. So what do you do? You make due and do the best you can.
With a little patience, and a little ingenuity, you can easily throw your own DIY Minecraft birthday party. Here’s how we did it.
But first, here’s son # 4 enjoying some of the frosting leftovers the night before his big day. He’s just a stud muffin looking for a cupcake. 😉
Ok, getting down to business now, Minecraft makes an excellent theme for a birthday party. The simple graphics make decorating easy, and there’s a ton of ideas around the internet for games and party food. For the cake, we use different color dots of several hues of green icing to give our ‘dirt block’ the pixel-ated Minecraft look. It dawned on me after the cake that I should have used a square baking dish instead of my regular circular cake pans to give it a truly authentic look. I found the toy set I used as toppers in Walmart. They had 3 different options. We crushed oreos in the food processor and pressed the crumbs into the side of the cake for our ‘dirt’.
Creeper. cupcakes. The sons were stoked! They couldn’t have been any easier and coordinated perfectly with our cake. Kudos to the hubs for decorating them while I was trying to get all the last minute details perfected and in place.
For drinks we had Minecraft water (not pictured) by adding a few drops of blue food coloring to 2 2-liters of diet Sprite. We also had ‘Creeper-ade’. Tape a cardstock kreeper face onto a clear drink dispenser and fill it with green Hawaiian Punch. Again, super easy. I found chocolate candy rocks online to represent the coal/iron ore. We had sourpatch candy watermelons for the ‘melon’ and used potato chips to represent the game’s ‘gold’. There were square jello cubes for water blocks. We served square sandwiches. Square crackers, several kinds. You get where we’re going? Everything in Minecraft is square. Serve square food. So simple, and oh-so impressive to the Minecraft fandom.
Son # 3 came up with the idea of using some balloons & crepe paper (again found at Walmart, for $1/ea) to make some Enderman decorations. In the end he decided they looked more like squids but, since there are in fact squids in Minecraft, it was all good. In the end the boys and their friends took turns playing Minecraft on our Play Station, ate, played some more Minecraft, opened presents, ate cake/cupcakes with scoops of ice cream and left. It was one of the best parties I’ve done for them yet. Fun, exciting and easy to do.
Best of all, both birthday boys felt super special on their special day. And that my friends, covers it. No muss, no fuss, simply a great Minecraft party that had just the right amount of themed items that impress the kids/guests without stressing the host/ess out!
Happy, happy birthday to two of our sweet, sweet boys. We love you and are so blessed to be your parents. We’ve loved every minute of being your parents and watching you grow into the compassionate, inquisitive, happy, and comedic souls that you are. We love you, honeynugget & little man!