Monthly Archives: July 2016

Kevin Henkes Mice Birthday Party

About 2 or 3 years before our daughter was born, I bought a bunch of Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday stuff because I knew that one day we would have a baby, and one day that baby would have a first birthday party.  And we did, and she did, and I fell in love with the idea of children’s literature themed birthday parties.  So then came a Madeline party and a Curious George party.  They were so much fun to plan!  I was a little worried that I was on borrowed time to get to pick the theme this year for the 4th birthday party.  After all, four year olds have OPINIONS about pretty much everything.  But I REALLY wanted to do a Kevin Henkes themed party (he’s my favorite children’s author!), so I started trying to get our daughter excited about the Kevin Henkes mice about 6 months ahead of time.  It worked!  We got to have a wonderful Kevin Henkes mice party… and the birthday girl enjoyed it too!

I had a ball making purple purses for the invitations.  I folded card stock so that it opened like a purse and filled the inside with 3 quarter stickers, music notes, and sparkly sunglasses – just like Lilly has in her story!

Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

Inside Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

Inside Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

All of the food was Kevin Henkes mouse themed – mouse cake, meringue mice, chrysanthemum cupcakes, Cheetos, cheese, mouse cookies, and fancy little sandwiches as featured in Chester’s Way.  I put pictures of the inspirations for the snacks from the books on the food label cards – because they were cute and also because without them no one may have know what I had been thinking since I do realize not everyone has every tiny detail of every Kevin Henkes book burned on their brains as I do.  Many of the ideas came from Pinterest, but I came up with several of them on my own too.

Mouse Party Food

Mouse Party Food

More Mouse Party Food

More Mouse Party Food

Chrysanthemum Cupcakes

Chrysanthemum Cupcakes

Mouse Cookies

Mouse Cookies

Mouse Cake

Mouse Cake

For the decorations I used brightly colored polka dot napkins that reminded me of many of the outfits that Lilly wears.  I used purple paper plates and cups, red tablecloths, and crowns to match Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.  I also got artificial chrysanthemums and put them in purple Ball jars to represent Chrysanthemum.  Finally, I put laminated book pages around, once again to look cute and to help the guests understand what was going on at the party.

Mouse Party Table

Mouse Party Table

The party activities included a pin the blanket on Owen game, a bucket of dress up items that represented the mice in all of the different Kevin Henkes books, a game of Parcheesi like Chrysanthemum plays, and a make your own mouse craft project.

Pin the Tail on Owen

Pin the Tail on Owen

Mouse Dress Up

Mouse Dress Up

Parcheesi Game

Parcheesi Game

Make a Mouse Craft

Make a Mouse Craft

The favors were purple plastic purses on top of baggies filled with Cheetos and nifty disguise glasses – right up Lilly’s alley!

Purple Plastic Purse Favors

Purple Plastic Purse Favors

I even found perfect mouse themed clothes for the birthday girl to wear… not that she would actually wear them on the day of the party.  Oh well.  Don’t these go perfectly with Lilly’s clothes?  Thank you Hanna Anderssen and Gymboree for unwittingly coming out with perfect Kevin Henkes themed clothes just in time for our party!

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Lilly Birthday Outfit

Lilly Birthday Outfit

Hanna Anderssen Mouse Shirt

Hanna Anderssen Mouse Shirt

All bets are off for next year.  I’m pretty sure this was the last of my children’s literature themed parties, so I made it count!  But it’s ok.  I had a good run.  I can’t wait to see what she chooses for the big 5!!!

 

Ice Cream Day

It turns out that we are SO good at celebrating holidays that sometimes we even celebrate them by accident!  Earlier this spring I bought an ice cream ball from Crate and Barrel.  It’s a ball that you fill with ice cream ingredients on one side and ice and salt on the other side.  Then you kick it and roll it and shake it for about 20 minutes until you get ice cream.  I first used it at school back in May.  It was hard work to shake it enough to make the ice cream (It rained that day so we couldn’t kick it around outside, so the kids got tired of rolling it inside after a few minutes and I had to finish the job myself – boy were my arms tired!), but it was still a lot of fun and MUCH better than using the always leaky double baggie method to make ice cream in the classroom.  After having fun with it at school, I couldn’t wait to try it at home with my own family.  Last week, I decided that today would be the day to try it – it was supposed to be nice out, and we had some free time today before an insanely busy week coming up so why not?  Our daughter loved pouring in the ingredients (a pint of cream, sugar, and some vanilla)

Ice Cream Ball Ingredients

Ice Cream Ball Ingredients

and kicking it around the yard.  Sure enough, we got ice cream!  Now for the funny part though – after we had put it in the freezer and cleaned up from making the ice cream, my husband looked and Twitter and announced that he saw that today just happened to be National Ice Cream Day.  We had no idea, and yet we celebrated in grand style by kicking our ice cream ball around and making our very own ice cream in honor of the day.  Are we good or what???

3rd Blogiversary!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this blog for 3 years now!  A lot has happened in that 3 years: I left public school and started my dream job teaching preschoolers, moved twice, watched our baby grow from a baby to a toddler to a self proclaimed “big kid,” and am about to embark on an exciting new adventure in a new preschool classroom.  Phew!  That’s a lot for 3 years!  In my never ending quest for the elusive thing I’ve been told is called “free time,” I have scaled back the blog a bit – writing entries less often (when I feel like it or have something fun to share rather than every single week) – but I still enjoy getting the chance to write and be creative and share fun seasonal activities with the world.  Besides, even if some of these holiday traditions and activities seem trivial, I think the world needs a little happiness right about now and some reminders that it CAN always be the most wonderful time of the year if we try to look for ways to have fun together – no matter how trivial they may be.  So I plan to keep going with my little blog again this year.  Thanks for reading!

Decorating Bikes for the 4th of July

Last year as we drove home from the annual 4th of July Parade in my parents’ neighborhood, my husband brought it to my attention that not everyone has the tradition of decorating bikes for the 4th of July.  In fact, he said he had never heard of it before he met me.  And he lived all over the United States (and the world) when he was growing up.  I was shocked.  I was under the impression that this was something everyone in America did, right along with fireworks and cookouts.  Evidently not though.  So I wanted to share this tradition, one of my favorites of the year, with you in case it might be new to you too so that you can try it!

I remember decorating my bike almost every year when I was little, whether or not we had a neighborhood parade.  Actually, we only had a parade on our street once, and it was very short because it started to rain.  But it was still super fun.  My mom even made me an Uncle Sam hat and vest to wear!  When I was nine we moved, and our new neighborhood had a real parade each year complete with a fire truck and a bike decorating contest.  I was thrilled.  When I was too old to be in the parade myself, I couldn’t completely let go of participating in the tradition and decorated signs showing where to park the bikes for the decorating contest.  Now that the neighborhood kids have all grown up, we bring our own kids back for the 4th of July Parade: The Next Generation.

One thing that makes this tradition so great is that it isn’t hard at all.  We just go to Party City and buy a bunch of random patriotic decorations that could be attached to a bike somehow  (flags, streamers, crepe paper, ribbons, bows, tinsel, pinwheels, balloons, stars, etc.) and put them all over the bike or wagon.  We even keep the decorations in a box and reuse them year after year.

4th of July Bike

4th of July Bike

Just make sure that the vehicle can still move as it should.  It’s great fun!

Granted, this may not be the ideal time to introduce this tradition… I’m writing this while shivering in a sweatshirt on a very rainy 3rd of July, and we decided to go ahead and have our cookout and mini bike parade with our neighbors last night on the 2nd of July since the 4th looks like a total washout this year.  However, if it happens to be sunny where you are or if you don’t mind soggy, dripping crepe paper then go for it!  Decorate away!  Happy 4th of July!