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Carrie Elle

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Cheating (on my blog)

I have probably, oh...fifteen unpublished blog posts in my line-up.

Some are just titles that I've written down so I won't forget to go back and write the post.  Others are unfinished because for whatever reason, I can't find the inspiration to finish writing the darn thing (or I can't find the picture I am looking for that absolutely must accompany my post!).  Others still will never "go live" - they are my words, mostly written to my children with the intent of being something special I can give them when they're older that the entire Internet Universe hasn't already seen (because you *KNOW* the whole Internet Universe is reading this blog, right?).

But tonight, as I sift through those unfinished blog posts looking for something I can easily wrap up and schedule to post tomorrow (part of my new, self-imposed blogging "schedule" is to have at least two consistent and scheduled posts published each week, and Friday morning is when I intend on one of those posts being published), I am stumped.

I don't have the energy to start from scratch and write about why I don't like it when someone says that parents who don't vaccinate their children are "stupid" (but can we cut the name calling out already, ladies?).  I don't have the right picture to finish my post about all the things I miss from California.  I already wrote two other blog posts today - for two other blogs - and drank a hefty glass of wine and ate too much spaghetti - and my brain is slowly melting away.  OH - and I have just a teeny bit left to read of the final Hunger Games book, so that's kind of calling my name right now, too.

So, what's the point of all this drivel?

Well, I'm going to post another picture.  I want everyone to know that I don't think I'm a photographer.  That my camera could probably take better pictures by itself than with me behind it.  But when I run out of things to say, or more accurately, run out of the energy to say them, I fall back on kid pictures.

It's my version of cheating at blogging.  But sometimes, like right now - it's okay to cheat.  Right?

Besides, it's a really cute dress she's wearing.

And this one has baby toes hiding in the grass.  And we could all use some cute baby toes in the grass, right?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What's in a Name?

The time has come.

I am bidding adieu to my current blog name - Burp Cloths and Saddle Pads - and moving to a new domain, with a new blog name.

Mine!  All mine!

When Jack was a baby, I was lying in bed one night dreaming about the day when I would get back on a horse, and kind of/sort of thinking about whether or not I wanted to continue blogging.  I knew that if I was going to keep blogging I'd want a new blog name...but it wasn't a super serious endeavor at the time.  More like, something I did to keep a few friends in the loop.

As I lay there, probably covered in spit-up and breast milk, I suddenly realized that I must name my blog Burp Cloths and Saddle Pads.

"Burp Cloths" because I felt like my entire days and nights were covered in spit-up and poop and other bodily fluids.  And "Saddle Pads" because I thought that surely I would be riding horses again soon, and wouldn't it be fun to chronicle my challenges adventures as a mom of a small baby who was getting back into riding?


That never happened.  I really, to this day, haven't officially started riding again (except for a rare ride here and there).

And then, before I knew it...Jack was bigger and had stopped puking everywhere.

But then I had another baby, and once again my life was centered around things like Burp Cloths and once again, I dreamt of riding.

And then, Claire started growing up.

I am outgrowing my blog name.  I won't have babies forever, and even if I did...there's no way of knowing if I'll still be wanting to write about my kids a few years down the road.  And - I don't like that my blog name starts with the word for a rude bodily function.

So, I decided to rename my blog.

But...OMG!  It's not easy to come up with a blog name these days.

For one thing, all the good blog names are taken.  For another, I'm not that creative.  And finally, if I outgrew the last blog name in just a few years, how could I come up with one that I wouldn't want to be renaming - again - just a few years from now?

And so, I figured I'd pick something with my name in it. was taken (boo!), so I went for (I told you I'm not creative!)...but it was taken, too.  I thought, "Well, let's just spell out the letter 'L'" - and that's how I came up with Carrie Elle (it doesn't hurt that many women in my family, including my daughter, have the middle name "Ellen" - which is awfully close to Elle!).

So, friends, here we are today.

Look at me, getting all artsy and pretending like I can actually create a logo...ha!
Carrie Elle!

I'm excited.  I've decided to make a go of it.  I've poured many hours of my life into my little piece of the Internet pie, and I'm just getting started.

I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Beginning of Fall, Texas-Style

It's nearly Fall...and it's *kind of* starting to feel that way, too.

Kind of.

As much as it can feel like Fall when it's 95 degrees out.

OK, so it might not technically feel Fall-ish, but it IS starting to look the part.

Today I took the kids to the park and brought the Big Camera.  I've been trying to use it more, to take better pictures and actually spend a few minutes editing (which is actually laughable, as my only editing tool is a program that came with the laptop and my only editing skills are cropping and changing the exposure a bit).

I've got a long way to go.  I'm intimidated by the beast that is our camera and not really all that sure I want to learn how to use it (so...many...buttons...).  But every now and then I get a decent picture and feel inspired to maybe keep trying. you go. This is what the Summer-Fall transition looks like in Texas.

The lighting says Fall...but the romper says Summer.  And if you'd seen the pictures I took just a few minutes later...where those precious curls were plastered to her neck from the sweat...there's be no mistaking that we are, indeed, still in August...and still in Texas.

Is it Fall yet where you live?

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Friday, August 24, 2012

The Littlest Optimus Prime

In the last six months or so, Jack has become obsessed (OBSESSED) with Transformers, particularly Optimus Prime.

Our daily banter consists of Optimus Prime talk, and I couldn't tell you how many times in one day Jack relates real life to Transformers.  Everything is Transformer this, Transformer that.  Non-stop.

So the other day, as I was perusing Etsy for things I did not need to buy, I started searching for Transformer items.  A knit Optimus Prime hat gave me an idea, and I was soon searching for Transformers masks (because Jack wants a mask and a "hard suit" so he can look like Prime...his hero).  Well, I found some, and they were super cute...but cost a few dollars (but see below...I've got some links for you if you're interested!).  I filed those away in my back pocket as a party idea for his fourth birthday and took my search to the Internet.

And look at what I found!

Watch out!  It's Optimus Prime!
A piece of paper, some scissors and a piece of elastic I had laying around the house were all it took to pull this together...and the result was pretty much the world's happiest kid for at least the next four hours or so!

Even Optimus needs to eat.  Lunch break!
Without a doubt, this was the most exciting thing to ever come out of our printer (in the eyes of a three-year-old, at least).

A few battle scars later, Optimus is all tuckered out.
Seriously...this thing was worth every last drop of expensive blue ink.  Jack loved it.

If you want to print your own, you can find it here.  I chose it because it looked to be the easiest to cut out (I pretty much failed "cutting skills" in kindergarten, and for good reason).

If you want a more detailed one, you can choose from either Optimus or Bumble Bee here.

And you can get these super cute ones on Etsy for just $6 (these look nice and easy to cut out!).

I'm kind of hoping Claire is as obsessed with horses as Jack is with Transformers.

What is your little one obsessed with?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The 21st of August

It's the 21st of August.  Hard to believe that a) I've been recording the 21st of each month, in all its mundane-ness, for almost a year now, and b) my baby is 13 months old.

I kind of failed at recording today (:::SIGH::: - what else is new?) but I'll give it my best shot.  And my best shot will be the condensed version, because it's kind of late and I'm tired and the baby is not sleeping well and blah blah blah...

So, here we go!

Charles took the kids to Starbucks because I guess we don't have any coffee in the house.  He asked me if I wanted anything and I said no...HA!  I lied.  Lucky for me, he knows better.  He returned with iced tea and the breakfast of champions (a "Protein Plate," which should actually be called The World's Biggest Ripoff, but what are you gonna do when you want a hard-boiled egg and some grapes, right?).

After breakfast, I start getting ready for my dentist appointment.  Which is at 9:30.  As I'm getting ready the kids run amuck in the bathroom (as usual).  Which is a mess (as usual).  And which is interrupted by a phone call from the dentist office confirming my appointment at 9:30 - TOMORROW.  So, I'm off the hook for one more day.

And kind of unrelated, this picture shows Claire walking back into my closet...which is where Jack is.  Jack calls the closet the "Wild World," which he picked up from our pal Cat Stevens.  He always asks Claire, "Claire, do you want to come to the Wild World with me?" (only, his "r's" sounds like "w's" and his "l's" sound like "y's").

Since I won't be going to the dentist today, I take the kids outside and Claire gets some exercise.  It's ONLY 71 DEGREES out!  In August!  In Texas!  We stay out until it starts to rain.

Claire has pretty much given up taking two naps a day and is down to one, but today I really need her to sleep and be rested.  We have an appointment at The Nappy Shoppe with Mountainpony Photography for a mini photo session at lunchtime.  Today I luck out and convince her to nap for a bit.

I forget to take any pictures at The Nappy Shoppe!  Boo.  :(

But when we return, Claire has a package waiting for her.  It's her first Breyer horse, a birthday gift from her Auntie Jesika in California.  This gift is a WIN (and not just because I like it).

I get all serious and tell Jack he must stay on the couch for "quiet time" - which requires he sit on his bottom.  Does this look like a boy who's sitting on his bottom?  I think not.

While Jack is resting watching Transformers, I spend some time playing with Claire.  This child is as sweet as she looks (except when she's screaming...then maybe she's not so sweet).

After I get tired of enforcing quiet time, we go out back to play.  Until I notice the myriad of mosquitoes infesting the slide and general back yard area.  Tonight, Dallas (and us, even though we're not technically Dallas county) is getting fogged for mosquitoes.  I don't watch the news but apparently Dallas is the West Nile Virus Capital of Everywhere.

We end up playing out front after Claire's second nap, and Jack and Claire run around with the neighbor kids.  While I drink wine.  From a box.  

I just bought a new domain for my blog, and I'm changing my blog's name, too.  I played around with some logos (and this is why I'm not an artist...!) and ate some Avocado Oil Potato Chips, too.

Maybe my favorite picture of the little Transformer, Optimus Prime, transformed to his truck state.  Jack spends a lot of time transforming (complete with sound effects) these days.  In fact, when things get tense or he gets in trouble or when he wants to avoid me, he "transforms."  Which sounds funny now but is really not that funny when you're telling him to go to his room.

But when he's playing around, it's very cute.

Those little fists next to his ears?  Those are exhaust pipes (in case you couldn't tell).

I told Jack to bring me a book to read, and he brought me, like, ten.  We read a book about Pete the Cat and his groovy buttons, another one called Please, Puppy, Please, and then The Little Red Caboose (are you still supposed to underline book titles?  I know a lot of things have changed since my days in Junior College).

And that's it!  

If you're having trouble sleeping, you can read about some of our past 21sts of the month, starting back in September.  A whole year ago.  Which means that next month will be the last time I do this for awhile.  

I'll try to plan something special!  


Monday, August 20, 2012

I Got Rid of the Bathroom Scale

For years, I've had a love/hate relationship with my bathroom scale.

I love it when it tells me how awesome and successful and skinny I am (because that's how awesomeness and successfulness and skinniness are determined, right? By a scale?).  I hate it when it tells me something I don't want to hear.

It turns out, my scale really liked to bring me down.

I'd spend all weeks counting points and entering meals into the latest weight loss app I had installed on my phone.  Then Monday would roll around, and I'd think, "Gee, I shouldn't have eaten all those doughnuts yesterday, and probably should have said no to the extra sauce at In-n-Out and WHY did I eat that chocolate when I was already so full to begin with?"  But since I had been good all week - snacking on delicious treats like carrot sticks and celery smeared with low-fat cream cheese - a few little mistakes on the weekend shouldn't have mattered, right??


And my scale would taunt me.  It would say things like:

My day would be shot.  My chipper, "it's-Monday-and-I'm-ready-to-eat-well-and-exercise" attitude would fly out the window and before I knew it, I'd be drowning my sorrow in a giant chocolate chip cookie from Starbucks.  And a cake pop.  And sometimes, maybe a muffin, too (because their muffins are gooood, ok?).

One day I realized how ridiculous this was.  How I was letting a little number on a scale dictate my mood and motivation for the day.  How quickly it could bring me down and turn me into Super Grump.

I remember a few years ago my friend Jesika got rid of her scale.  She'd tell me she didn't know how much she weighed, and I thought, "Is she smoking crack?  How can she not have a scale?"

But then one day, Charles mentioned that he wanted to get rid of the scale.  You see, every Monday, he and I would weigh ourselves, and depending on the number that would finally settle between our feet, our moods for the morning would be determined.  Happy, or grumpy.  Just like that.

So, he wanted to throw the scale away.

But I wasn't ready.  I balked.  I whined.  I insisted that I needed to know how much I weighed once a week.

And then one day, the scale was gone.  Charles had offed it.

And I

Guess what?  I don't miss knowing how much I weigh.  It's not important to me anymore (really, it's not...and now it seems silly that I ever cared).  I don't miss comparing my post-two-babies weight to the weight-I-haven't-been-since-I-got-married (which, technically, I haven't been since I got married...which means I've been pining over that long lost weight for almost twelve years now!).

And you know what else I don't miss?  Grumpy Mondays.

Following the Scale Apocalypse, I also started eating healthier.  Not dieting...just making sound choices and eating things that were good for me.

And then one day I noticed that I was feeling skinnier, and in a moment of ridiculous bravery, I pulled out some pre-baby shorts.  The kind that come from the Gap and have a real zipper and nary a stitch of elastic.


Like, actually fit as well as they fit before I had the baby (which, truth be told, isn't that great...but still, it meant I could now wear a pair of non-maternity shorts in public!).

A couple of weeks later I had a doctor's appointment.  They weigh you at the doctor's office.  It was in the afternoon and I was fully clothed, so my expectations were set very (very) low.  So imagine my shock when that blessed scale told me I weighed a few pounds less than I had anticipated.

I don't know...maybe it was scared.  Maybe word was out on the street that if it didn't tell me what I wanted to hear, it wouldn't be around for long.

Not my actual scale.  Because I don't have one.  I made my mom take a picture of hers and send it to me.
I won't be replacing our scale anytime soon, if ever.  I don't need to know what I weigh or how much weight I have (or haven't lost).  It's just not important to me anymore.

Besides, I have another doctor's appointment coming up soon.

And that scale better be nice (or else).


Friday, August 17, 2012

A Letter to 16-Year-Old Me

Dear 16-Year-Old Me,

Chill out and stop being such a bitch, already.

Yours Truly,

34-Year-Old You

Could I *BE* any more 1995?  Ripped jeans (you can't see the rips because they were EXTRA cool and ripped above the knees), a cheap crop top from 5*7*9, a hat my friend picked up at a thrift store, dirty red converse, and dark red lipstick - hanging out on the play equipment at the Oceanside Strand (that's a beach) so my friend could take this super cool picture of me for her photography class (which she was probably ditching to take this picture).  Excellent!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

5 Things I (Mostly) Cannot Live Without

There's a "5 Things I Cannot Live Without" Linky Party going on over at MomDot, and I decided to join in the fun (I just joined the MomDot community over the weekend and I'm already learning So. Many. Things.).  

I will cut straight to the chase.

Here are 5 Things I (mostly!) Cannot Live Without.

1.  Tea.  I can't even imagine my little world without egregious amounts of Lipton black iced tea in the morning.  No one in my house could imagine it, I bet.  Or maybe they could...but they don't want to.  Tea makes me nice.

2. Boxed wine.  This is kind of a new discovery for me, and I certainly *could* live without it...but why would I?  At the risk of sounding like an old's amazing.  This box was only $15 at Costco and it's the equivalent of FOUR bottles of wine.  And I can drink it one delicious glass at a time without worrying about wasting the whole bottle (because as much as I like wine, I rarely finish a bottle in one sitting and we usually end up throwing half of it away).  And trust me, this is not your crazy great-aunt's box of wine.  This stuff is legitimately good.  I promise.

3. Phone.  Because how else am I going to text my husband from the comfort of my bed and tell him to bring me things/turn down the air-conditioning/stop screaming at the TV when the Rangers are on?

4. Laptop.  Blogging is where I find happiness, creativity, and even myself sometimes.  Although I don't necessarily write something every single day, I do check emails and read what other people write on a daily basis.  I'm not sure how I'd get by without my trusty little laptop.

5.  Ergo baby carrier.  I don't leave home without my Ergo - if I have Claire, it's coming with me!  This carrier is well-loved and has hauled around two kids now. I use it nearly every day, and there was a time - not so long ago - that I even wore the Ergo while blogging.  In many cases, I prefer it to a stroller and both of my kids have spent hours upon hours in the comfort of this carrier!

Honorable Mention: OK, I know the prompt was for 5 Things I Cannot Live Without, but where would I be without my trusty flat iron?  Oh, I know...I'd be back in 1999 with my insanely frizzy mane that I was constantly brushing because I didn't know what else to do with it.  I can safely say that flat irons changed my life.

Maybe this should take the place of the boxed wine on this list.

OK, it's a toss-up...but, if I had to pick between boxed wine and my flat iron, I'd probably (maybe?) choose straight hair.

So let's just be grateful I don't have to choose.

What are five items you can't live without on a daily basis?  Tell me below or come link up!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Society Can Wait. I Have a Book to Read!

I planned on joining the rest of society again today.  You know, maybe playing with my kids, writing a meaningful new blog post, going to bed at a normal hour...that sort of thing.

But I can't.  The library actually had Catching Fire (book two in The Hunger Games series).

A little tattered and torn, maybe, but that's what I love about books.  No matter how ratty the cover, the words stay the same.

I read The Hunger Games in two sittings, finishing it late last night.  I was sorely disappointed that I would have to wait another twelve hours or so to get to the library (where I would likely find out it had been checked out anyway).  I figured I'd have to make a Barnes & Noble run.

I dragged the kids to the library this morning and made a beeline for the Young Adults section (I know, right?!).  And it was actually there...on the shelf...begging me to check it out.

And so, I'll start this book rather than attend to all those important things I had planned on doing today.  Like parenting.

Have you read The Hunger Games series?  I don't know why I held out for so long!

PS - I am totally kidding about the whole "I'm-not-parenting-today" thing.  I'll probably read this tonight.  When it's easier to not parent.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Out With the Ladies, In with the Babies

Last night, I went out with actual adults.

I left the kids in the capable hands of Charles and we headed to the newest, trendiest restaurant in town.  Where we waited an hour and a half to be seated (which was almost an hour longer than we expected the wait to be, and which they tried to make right with a free round of drinks - which of course we did not waste!).

Yum.  And the bar kept changing colors, so that was cool, too.
It was great fun.  A much-needed diversion from my nightly routine (which mostly includes cranky kids, a nursing baby, a chaotic bath time and other standard nighttime parenting drama).

I looked around the bar and saw lots of "old" people - adults who clearly weren't wondering if their babies were at home missing them, because their babies were no doubt grown-up and living their own lives (or at least old enough to stay home without a sitter).  I wondered, "what's that like?" as if I hadn't been able to stay out as long as I wanted just a few short years ago (it's amazing how perspective changes once you have kids - I literally had years and years of "me" time, years of staying out until the wee hours of the morning and not having to answer to anyone...but after just 3.5 years of parenting, I can barely remember those days!).

I know those days will be here again before I know it.  The days when my kids are grown and I'm out with friends checking my phone constantly not to see if Charles is texting me with some emergency at home that he absolutely cannot handle without me (which never happens) but to see if one of my kids might have sent me a text to check in and say hello.  The days when I will be able to wait for an hour and a half for a table at a trendy restaurant and not once think about how this is cutting into the rest of the night and how the baby probably needs to nurse soon.  Just a few short years ago, no one needed me - and now, they do.

Already, things are getting easier.  Jack is fine without me, and Claire is getting older and the intensity of her needs is lessening.

I both long for the time when I can skip out of the house unnoticed and go about my business and fear it, as well.  As I snuggled in to bed last night against Claire, who's already a year old, I realized - again - that these days are fleeting.

Nights out with friends are rejuvenating and an important piece to keeping "me" intact. I need to get out of the house without having to pack a diaper bag every now and then, you know?  But pretty soon, I won't be packing diaper bags.  I'll be throwing back packs into the car as we head off to school, then loading up sports equipment as we head to another game, and then before I know it, packing up the car to drive my babies off to college.  And then I'll have nothing but time on my hands.

I guess I'm not sure where I am going with this.  I started this post with a lighthearted topic in mind, to be sure - I was going to tell you all that for my big girls' night out I wore a shirt Charles bought me at Costco (because that's something I am pretty sure I would have laughed at a few years ago).  But instead, this turned into a rambling post about how fast my kids are growing up (which seems to be a common theme on this blog, lately) and how before I know it, I'll be an "old" person sitting at the bar in a trendy restaurant waiting for my kids to text me and tell me they love me.  How depressing is that?!?!  Okay, maybe that's a little bit extreme!  Ha.

The moral of this story is, in some convoluted way, to get out and enjoy your "me" time - as moms, we really need that - but don't wish away these early and intense years with your babies.

I am pretty sure it's going to be harder when they're teenagers.

Am I the only one who gets all sad and weepy thinking about how fast her kids are growing up?

And if you want to read another post just like this one, in which I lament on how my kids are growing up before my very eyes and then try to encourage myself to brave another day of kids who do not sleep, I have one for you right here.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Birthday Bash on a Budget (or, The $57 Party)

Claire turned a year old last month, and to celebrate, we had a big family birthday party.  This was great fun and we were able to celebrate another event at the same time - Claire's cousin turned three the same week!

But I wanted to throw her a little shindig at home as well...something we could invite the neighbors to (that they might actually attend - the family party was an hour away, out in the country).  At the same time, it was going to be her second party - and she wouldn't remember either one - so I wanted to keep it low-key and mostly, inexpensive.  Because while I love looking at other people's super-duper fancy first birthday parties, that just wasn't in the cards for this party-thrower.  

Claire's party cost us all of $57.  We had seven adults and eight kids (three of those were babies, though, so they didn't really add to the cost), and we fed everyone lunch and sent all the kids home with goody bags.  We had some fun activities planned and it was a smashing success.  

Keep it Small
Our party was right at lunchtime, so I knew we were going to have to feed everyone - and that food would be our biggest expense.  We kept this party small (7 adults, 5 kids, 3 babies).  This way, we could afford to feed everyone and provide the kids with a few goodies to take home.

Feed Cheap Food
Walmart (or Aldi!) are your friend when you're feeding a large crowd.  I thought of the cheapest food I could - hot dogs - and went from there.  We "splurged" on fancy hot dogs, because come on - hot dogs are kinda gross.  I wanted all-beef hot dogs (no inter-species mystery meat for me).  I bought buns on the cheap (less than $1/bag) and chose some middle of the line potato chips.  We already had the condiments.

We brewed a bunch of iced-tea for the grown-ups (we already had the tea bags), and I picked up some kid-friendly (read: blue and sugary and not something I would normally buy) drinks for $2 (for 16 drinks).  

Find Free Party Decorations (and Invitations!) Online
You know what my biggest expense was?  Invitations.  Because I bought them impulsively one day in early July as I was perusing Target.  And almost immediately regretted it when I realized I could have used *cuter* invitations that were available online - for free.  This discovery is actually what prompted the whole "budget" part of this party.  

Google "free party printables" and before you know it, you'll be up to your ears in cute invitations and party decorations.  

Be Flexible
Originally, I wanted Claire to have a popsicle-themed party (how cute, right?).  But as I started actually planning it, I stumbled across a bunch of fun summer-themed party ideas that weren't necessarily popsicle-y.  So I got a little bit flexible and expanded my "theme" to include all things cute and summery.

Use What You've Already Got
We blew up our kiddie pool and borrowed another one from the the neighbors.  We have a little play slide that we set up between the pools, and, VOILA! Water park in our back yard.  I set out a basket full of rolled-up towels next to a bowl of sunscreen bottles and another bowl of water toys - these looked cute and came in handy, too. 

Here's the breakdown of our total party spending:
Party Invitations - $10 (rip-off!)
Food - $24 (hot dogs, buns, two bags of potato chips, lemons for the tea)
Food accessories - $7 (goblets, plates, candle and napkins)
Decorations - $5 (balloons and a couple of bowls for chips - the rest of the stuff was free)
Party Favors - $11 (toys and goody boxes)
Cake - Free

I've listed some general guidelines above.  Now, here are some specific ideas for games and decorations and such!

Get the kids involved!  I let Jack paint several times during the week leading up to the party.  When the art had dried, I cut it into flags and strung them along some pink ribbon I already had.  This made the cutest banner for the front door, and Jack was excited to see his art turn into a party decoration (and, I've moved this banner to his bedroom wall, which he really thinks is cool).

I combined goody bags and thank-you notes.  A Party Etiquette foul?  Maybe.  But since we knew everyone we had invited and I am pretty sure they aren't going to mind, I was okay with this.  

I bought these cute little boxes for $.47/each at Wal-Mart.  I used a horse hole punch I had around the house to punch the holes and attached the thank-you "cards" that way.  I actually received these ridiculously cute swatch-cards from Paper Coterie* for free (to see what the inside pages looked like and to read the complete review, click here), but you could easily make something similar for free or cheap.  The inside simply said "Thank you for coming to Claire's party, we are so happy you could be here!"

OK, confession time.  I didn't pay for our cupcakes.  My mom made them.  If I had made them, I would have...wait, hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!  I couldn't have made them.  OK, so my mom made super cute ice cream cone cupcakes with butterflies on top.  She wanted to use sprinkles and gummy worms to make eyes and antennaes but rant out of time.  But they were cute, and delicious, and the only thing she bought (that we didn't already have in the house) was cake mix, ice cream comes, sprinkles, pretzels and some frosting (which she made from whatever you make frosting with).

We already had this giant drink thing (pitcher? I don't know what it's called) that I bought at Costco for a whopping $17 several months ago.  The "PARTY" banner was from a free printable (Paper Coterie).  We filled this with iced tea and lemon slices.

I rolled up some towels and stuck them in this cute green bin (which is normally a clothes basket) and rounded up all the sunscreen in the house and put it in a plastic bowl.  The other plastic bowl is full of tools/water toys (more on that later).

Party "goblets" - $1.47/4 at Wal-Mart, and great fun to decorate and use as adult cups.  The napkins and plates were also Wal-Mart specials, and cost $3 (combined).  The napkins did smell a little funny, but beggars can't be choosers.  The kid drinks were just $1/8 and were a hit - who doesn't love a little blue juice, right?

See that giant purple thing that the kids are beating into submission with toy tools?  It's my Shining Moment of Party Throwing Genius.  I wish I could take full credit for it, but I saw it on Pinterest.  It's a giant block of ice, with several different-colored layers, filled with toys.  In the excitement that ensued after these giant blocks of ice were unveiled, I forgot to take pictures of them!  I made two (if you do this, start, a week takes a long time for the layers to freeze properly!) over the course of the week leading up to the party.  Jack *loved* this - I let him throw in a few toys and mix the food coloring into the water as we added each new layer.  The plan was to have the kids work on these for awhile, throwing all of the toys (as they were retrieved from the ice) into a large bucket that I would later dry and sort into goody bags to be sent home with the kids (thus avoiding any fights over who got the blue snake or the purple bracelet).  The reality was that they were completely melted in about five minutes (if that, even) and the toys were strewn all over the backyard...but the kids LOVED this! 

 The pools turned out to be great fun for everyone (especially the Birthday Girl!).  We had a small pool for the babies (that was overtaken by the big kids), a larger pool for the big kids, and a plastic slide.  

After all that partying, Claire was ready for her cupcake.  This was technically her third go at a birthday cake, so she was pretty much an expert by now and didn't waste any time.

What I Learned
As soon as I started getting things together, I realized that I could easily throw a more extravagant party for less money.  And $57 isn't very much money for a birthday party these days!  All it takes is a little planning and foresight.  Jack's birthday will be here before I know it, and he tells me that he wants a Transformers party when he turns four - I've got some ideas in the back of my head and I'm keeping my feelers out for any Transformer-related anything I come across for free or super cheap that I might be able to use.  

Oh!  And one more thing.  This wasn't part of the budget, but next time I might include it.  It's that important.  


So tell me...are your kids' parties "Go Big or Go Home?" or low-key?

And if you want to read all about the disaster that was Jack's third birthday party (or just look at a picture of the giant, creepy Chuck E. Cheese balloon we brought home), you can find it here.  

* I'm a Paper Coterie affiliate!    

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Friday, August 3, 2012


Every month for the last year, we've taken pictures of Claire in these pajamas (which I frantically decided I absolutely.positively.must.have.this.very.second one random day last year and found on clearance at a Gymboree outlet and have kind of regretted ever since...surely there were cuter pajamas I could have bought for pictures I would be taking every month, right?  Or, maybe I'm just tired of looking at them!).

Today marks the last time I'll force poor Claire to lie down and then bribe her to stay there with a piece of technology (like my phone) that she is normally not allowed to play with.

And finally, after a year of being brought out once a month for a short photo shoot, these pajamas can actually be worn and treated like all the other clothes we have laying around the house.  Now that I'm sick of looking at them and now that she's so chubby I can barely snap the legs closed, she's allowed to wear them.

Maybe it's a good thing I got them on clearance after all...!