Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lego Party--What I'd do Again and What I'd do Differently


Carson has always had a love affair with Legos.  Many of our friends know about "Tim."  Tim used to go every where with us.  He was the equivalent of a lovey.  Only he's not quite as squishy and soft as most loveys.  And he can get lost a whole lot easier.  We once had to track him down in the parking lot of Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Thankfully, he was found with all of his parts intact.

Tim is the man.  He is currently on the job.  Tim is a fireman.

Four year old Carson (look at those cheeks!!!) with Tim and his vehicle...

and on the side, Tim is a killer goalie.  He is about the only thing that got Carson through a season of soccer.  He just hid right there, tucked in the back of the goal, with his trophy.  See his soccer player hair?

So, when Carson decided he wanted to have a Lego party, we were all for it.  He has had one at the Lego store before, but he just invited one friend.  This time he wanted to invite more friends.  When I called to schedule the party at the Lego store, I learned they no longer do actual birthday parties, but we could do a "build" where they would coordinate and the kids would all build a part of something--city, race car, etc.  When we looked at the cost, and the drive we'd have to make to get to Concord Mills (the closest Lego store), we decided with a little creativity, we could pull it off at our house.

So, naturally I went on Pinterest and started gathering ideas.  And I am here to tell you what appealed to 7-9 year old boys at this party.  Some of the ideas we planned didn't go so well, and some things just happened last minute, not according to plan, and ended up being a hit.

We started out in our "Music Room" (the front living room), explaining the stations.  I knew right from the start that there were some kids who didn't come to the party to go to "centers."  This part was my idea.  Maybe I miss teaching...just a little bit?

We also told them (and this was one of those last minute, right before the kids got there, scrambling to get it done kind of things) that they each had to find three Lego men, who were hiding around the house, lurking in various corners and peeking out from under furniture.

Here are the stations...

Anyway, after we explained the stations, we told the kids they were going to earn "coins" for going to each station, and when they had filled up their Lego brick (a standard Lego), they would get a prize (the treat bag).  

The Stations

So, what worked and what didn't?  Well, hunting down the three Lego figures was a HUGE hit.  In fact, most kids went straight to that part of the fun.  If I had it to do over again, I would have let the kids keep their mini-figures as part of their party favors.  They loved the mini-figure hunt!

Station 1 was also a hit.  The kids loved guessing how many legos were in the jar.  And the child with the closest guess won a small Lego set.  What's your guess?  Guessing how many Lego Duplos it would take to reach the ceiling was popular as well.  I knew how many little Legos were in the jar, but I had not attempted to build a tower with the Duplos, so guess what we had to do to see who was closest on that one?  We had to build a TOWER!  Justin was instrumental in this part.  It was pretty much his idea.  And this idea appealed to the builders in the group, for sure!

One of the requirements was that the tower had to stand on its own, no hands supporting it.  It also had to reach all the way to ceiling.

And what do you do when you finish building your tall tower?  Why, knock it down of course!

I'd do Estimation Station again.  

Station 2, "Lego Hole" (think Corn Hole) was fun while it lasted.  My dear friend and neighbor, Tara, helped me make the beanbags for this one while the babies she watches and my baby were napping.  We made the "Lego" bean bags out of felt.  They looked awfully cute, but once the kids started hurling them at the box the beans we filled them with started spraying everywhere!  If I had to do this one over again, I would have sewn the beanbags closed instead of using felt glue.  I also would have had some kind of point system where the kids had to get a certain number of points before they progressed to the next station. 

I'd do "Lego Hole" again, with modifications.

Station 3, Design Your Own Lego Man/Lady, was appealing to the artsy folk in the group.  And being that these friends were chosen by my artsy son, we did have a few artists.  Overall, this one was not the most popular.  Maybe a little too much like school?

Here are some of the masterpieces.  My favorite is Cam Newton, of course, made by my little artist. But the shirtless men are close seconds.  Not sure what is going on there.

Station 4, the Lego Maze was very popular.  My boys may have had even more fun making the mazes!

I would do the Lego Maze station again.

Station 5, Creationary sat all alone at the party.

If I had it to do over again I would have asked my kids to make some creations and then let the party guests guess what they are.  I don't think the idea of a "board game" was appealing to the kids.

I would do Station 5 again, with modifications. 

After the stations, it was time for some food!

We had Lego pizza (cheese pizza with pepperoni to make a "brick") and Lego dessert...

I would have dipped these Oreos in white icing or melted white chocolate if I had it to do over again.  I think it would look more like a Lego brick.  It was yummy though!  Oreos, chocolate pudding and cool whip.  Yum!

These are just yellow cups with a Lego face drawn with Sharpie marker.  I cut out these straw toppers and laminated them since I was worried they may get wet.  

I was so glad this big guy entertained our littlest when the natives started getting restless after cake.  

And this is just too cute not to share.  I love how Carson and Jonah's buddies take good care of Camden.

Before the kids left, we snapped a quick picture of them posing as a Legoman/lady.  We taped this Lego man to the side of a box and the kids went inside the box so we could take their pic.  Carson used these pictures to send e-postcards as thank you notes.

The kids grabbed a party favor on the way out...

The DIY Lego bag included a small Lego set and a bag of candy Legos.  For the Lego bags I used my circle cutter (Creative Memories) to cut out circles in the same yellow as the bag.  Then I used double sided foam stickers I got at AC Moore to adhere the circles to the bags.  The candy Legos are small plastic bags I also got at AC Moore, with a piece of scrapbook paper folded over the top and stapled in place.  I used stickers from one of Carson's Lego sticker books.

Carson had a blast, and that's really all that matters!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Chore I Dread, and How I Overcame It

I just had a working lunch with my friend, Graham.  Our husbands may think we are just ladies who lunch, but we are actually discussing real world problems.  Like how to motivate yourself to pack your kids' lunches for the next day when you have finally put the house back together after a full day of cooking and cleaning, shuttling kids to and from practice, helping with homework, supervising bath/shower time, and folding laundry.

{We also had our toddlers with us, so that made the lunch a "working" one as well.  Thank goodness Bruegger's is ok with them "driving" their booster chairs around the restaurant.}

Graham was sharing with me how her son, who just started going to a new school, has mentioned wanting to pack his lunch since by the time he gets through the lunch line, everyone has chosen their seats and he doesn't get to sit with his friends.  We have had a similar situation in our house, so I can certainly relate.  But she has an even busier nighttime schedule than we do, and by the time everything is done, there is little time, or energy left to make lunch for the next day.

I feel the same way.  So what do I do?  Well, usually I save the stressful act of packing lunch for morning, when I am also juggling a cranky baby, hungry dog (who I cook for, in her old age), all on top of making breakfast and helping the big boys get ready for school.  Exhausting, I know!

As Graham and I talked about this dilemma of making lunch, I began to think.  There has to be an easier way.

So, I devised a plan.  And it only took 30 minutes to organize everything to put my plan into action.

I rearranged some things in my {organized--yay!} pantry so I could use some of the existing baskets for this project.  My pasta had overtaken the green basket it was in (yes, I have gotten the memo that carbs are not good for you, but I like them, so we eat them anyway).  I replaced the basket with a clear one (not as pretty, but holds more), and devoted the original green basket to my project.

Then I got to work, filling one container with fruit and yogurt, one container with juice boxes, and one container with salty/sweet snacks.  I kept granola bars in the fourth green basket labeled snacks.

I cut several apples and put them in individual snack bags for the fruit/yogurt container.  Can you see how my apple corer is split?  I need to replace it.  Anyone have one you love?  Are the Pampered Chef ones any good?

Sometimes it takes a little sweetness to make a bag of goldfish enticing.  I mixed mini m&ms into these bags for the sweet/salty container.

While I was stocking the baskets, I even had time to get out the boys snack jars and load them up with healthy afterschool snacks--apple slices, an almond granola bar (from TJ's--one of our favs), and a gogurt.

Then I lined up the baskets on the counter.  Each basket contains a label that says how many items to take out of each basket.  The basket with the yogurts and applesauces also has a tin full of spoons so they don't forget that important detail.  

When my boys got home I asked them to get their lunchboxes out and toss any trash leftover from their lunch that day.  Then I showed them how to repack their lunchboxes.  I asked them to choose a snack and put it in their bookbags as well.  While they packed, I made their sandwiches, refilled their water bottles and checked their folders/notebooks. 

Are you ready for this???  Lunch and snack packed by 3:15.  Hallelujah!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Highchair Transformation

So, remember when I was afraid of a little paint job?  

I have been searching for the perfect chair for Camden.  He wants to be a big boy and sit at the island with his brothers, but I am worried he will fall off the back of the barstools we have.  A few weeks ago our neighborhood had a garage sale and I went on the hunt for a few good barstools--with backs.

While I did not find any barstools, I did happen across this little gem.

A friend of mine was selling this chair at her garage sale, and when I asked how much, she said "FREE!"  I told her I was willing to give her something for it and she said, "Why?  It's you."  It sure is a good thing to have great friends. :)

So, I hauled this chair home and resolved to give it a paint job.  

When I told my husband I was going to paint the chair, he looked a bit worried.  I wasn't sure why, but I would find out later.

I knew the chair was going to work out for Camden.  I could scoot him up to the island and he could eat right there with his brothers.  But I also knew the chair would look better if it coordinated with the other colors in our kitchen.

First I took the chair apart and Justin helped me sand it down.  We used his power sander.  I love that thing.

 Then I gave each part of the chair a couple coats of paint.

When it came time for the hard to reach places, I pulled out one of my tiny artist brushes and used it to touch up around the seat belt.  I was pretty excited that I knew just where to find my brushes after my recent organizing and labeling.  Of course I had to have my iphone handy to play my tunes while I painted.

Finally, I was done!

While I was at it, I touched up these stools.  

Even Carson's little bottom fits in the chair...

and Camden LOVES sitting in it!

Justin was shocked when he saw my finished product.  He said "I was worried when you told me you were going to paint the chair.  I thought it was going to be like when you painted the rocking chairs."  Ok, so maybe there have been a couple painting jobs in my past that have taken me longer to finish than they should have. 

Want to know how long this one took me?  

Well, for starters, I began the job the day I brought it home from the garage sale.  That is the first step in tackling a daunting project.  

I also may have been avoiding this...

Anyway, 2 days!  I couldn't wait to use the chair, so that was a motivator too.

Yay for DIY projects!!!

One more look...

And I think he likes it!!!