Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hello Kitty Stump Village birthday party

I will admit that I am a closet party planner. I LOVE planning birthday parties for my kids and I LOVE going all out. With two kids, it's really not so bad. I am sure I would feel different if I had more kiddos to plan for. Our rule is that up until they are 6 they get a friend party. After 6 it goes every other year which also makes it easier on me. 

I usually max the invite list at 8 because that's all we can squeeze around our table, but this year it was 10 to accommodate all the girls in her preschool and Primary class. It was such a fun group of girls.

Berlin really wanted a Hello Kitty birthday party this year. I really wanted a woodland party. So when she fell in love with the Hello Kitty Stump Village dvd's we found at the library last year, we knew we could combine the two seamlessly.

Setup.... I was up until 2 am making and putting up decorations. Then I went to bed only to wake up by 8am to get the final touches on. Needless to say, I was pooped by the time the party ended that afternoon. 


I found these darling trays and plates at Target in the dollar bin months ago (they were the basis of my ideas for a woodland party). The girls got to choose one as they were leaving with their parents. I just love these. They make me happy.



These were the strawberry-lemon Hello Kitty Cake Pops that Berlin helped me make. This was my first time working with a food-safe marker. Yeah. Lame. For being a brand new "marker", it was really dry and I just didn't like it. It wasn't dark enough and if I tried to go over the whiskers a second time, it just make it look worse. Oh well, they still turned out pretty good.

When the girls first arrived we had them put on some of my old t-shirts and aprons so they could paint some cute birdhouses I found in the dollar bin at Joann's. This was our painting station.

All the little painters hard at work. Their finished birdhouses turned out so cute! We did this first so they could dry during the rest of the party.  

Once dry I put them in cello bags to protect them.

Pin the nose on Hello Kitty was up next. Ryan made the sweet vinyl for the window. It's HUGE but it was perfect. Now it's hanging on the wall behind Berlin's headboard.

Finley getting his turn ... FINALLY! He waited so patiently for all the girls to go first. The girls all thought he would be the closest and win, but his Hello Kitty nose ended up the farthest away.


The girls all wanted Ryan to take a turn ... so they kept spinning and spinning and spinning him around! Then they pushed him to the target. I guess they didn't want to see him fail :). And they were laughing hysterically the whole time.


Then we ate lunch: PB&J sandwiches, chips, fresh strawberries, bananas, and blueberries with whipped cream, all washed down with lemonade. YUM!

These are the scavenger hunt prizes. There were 4 brown bags with different animals on them: an Owl (woodland erasers), a Hedgehog (sixlets), Mushrooms (pixie sticks), and a Squirrel (trail mix). Ryan hid these in our back field, then gave clues to the girls so they could find them. It was so cute to watch them running around.



Finley watching the hunt go down.

After the hunt the kids came inside to warm up and give Berlin their cute presents. One of the hit presents was a can of glitter hair spray. The minute the girls saw it they wanted to open it and spray it in their hair. So we took them back outside on the deck and sprayed it all over their hair. It was so much fun!

The girls in the picture above are all looking at Finley - who's wearing the ribbons from the presents on his head. Ryan seems to have started something here. The girls thought it was the greatest. Finley of course loved the attention. Such a ham!

Enjoying the cake pops and vanilla ice-cream with sprinkles on top. My friend told this GREAT idea to cut down prep time during the party. I scooped out all the ice-cream in little cups that morning, added sprinkles, then stuck them in a cupcake pan (the cups I got fit perfectly) and put it back in the freezer. Then, when it was time we just pulled out the cupcake pan and handed them out. SOOOOO nice & easy!

While we waited for the parents to arrive we let them pick out a Hello Kitty tattoo and put them on their hands/arms. And that wrapped up the party! It was such a lovely day and we thank our cute little friends who helped make it so much fun!

A huge shout out to Ryan who is AMAZING with the kids. He helped with all the games and made that awesome vinyl Hello Kitty Head. He isn't afraid to get silly with the kids and they love it too. And another shout out to my sister Val. She is at every party without fail helping setup, take pictures, cleanup, entertain, and just deal with the mass chaos kid parties bring. She is wonderful for this and for so many other reasons. But Finley was the sweetest of all. He was such a good helper with the girls. While I was answering the door, he found aprons for some of the girls and helped them put them on and tie them. He was like everyone's big brother, willing to lend a hand. Sure do love that kid!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The JOY of being Five

Berlin's big day came and went and now my little whippersnapper is officially FIVE! Crazy. She told me the day of her birthday over lunch that she didn't feel any different at 5 than she did at 4 ... She wasn't taller, or in a higher grade at school, or bigger than Finley. Her list went on. As a mother however, I notice so many changes and they seem to have happened overnight. Like how 5 apparently means 14. All of sudden it seems like she wants to watch teeny bop movies, listen to teeny bop music, dance like a rock-star all night long (literally, all night long), wears very bright & shiny makeup just like a hip teenager. Yep, she's no longer my Itty Bitty Boo, she's now my Tiny Teeny Bopper! 

Anyway, we had LOTS to celebrate cause turning 5 is a big deal in our house. We celebrated with just our little family the night before due to conflicts with Ryan's family FHE gathering and Valentine's Day. She woke up to a new birthday dress for church and after surviving the next 3 hours of being reverent, she came home to presents!

In her new dress...

Opening her presents under the watchful eye of a loving brother...


Some Just Dance Summer Party, Hello Kitty Stump Village (the best Hello Kitty dvd's out there!) and some fun makeup.

Hello Kitty Mega Bloks (wanna-be Legos perfect for little girls).  

A Hello Kitty Sewing Machine! She was very excited for this and wanted to sew a bag for her friend Abby right then and there.


And don't mind this crazy kid wearing part of his Link Halloween costume ... Ryan put the present bows & ribbons on his head and he went a little cuckoo. Looks like he's warming up for some Just Dance Summer Party!

Modeling her new Rapunzel Dress that Grandma Leach so lovingly made. It's gorgeous and just puts all those cheap store dress-ups to shame. We are so lucky to have such a talented Grandma!


I love Finley's head peaking out behind her. He kept doing the cuckoo bird thing and wouldn't stay out of the pictures. Silly Goose!

And to wrap-up the night we headed downstairs for some Just Dance Summer Party FUN!

On her actual birthday we took her out to dinner with her Aunt Val, Uncle Ben & Aunt Karen. She chose Five Guys for her feast. Then we headed over to Grandma Lynne's for FHE night & dessert with Ryan's family. I made these fun treats to take along. Dark Chocolate Mint cake pops. They were such a big hit with all the kids and super YUMMY! I used the basic recipe here.
(but with chocolate cake, 1 1/2 cups homemade cream cheese frosting, dark chocolate mint wafers (Wilton) and fun sprinkles.)

This is Berlin in the hot-seat listening to all the things that our extended family loves about her.

All 5 February birthdays on Ryan's side. 

This weekend is her big friend party! She is so excited to have all her Preschool and Primary friends over. She helped me start making these beauties in preparation for it. Can you guess what they will be? Hint

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

After leaving Salzburg we headed back over into Germany. Upon switching countries, the weather decided to to a 180 on us. We went from sunny, warm, shorts & tee weather to freezing cold, rain (buckets and buckets of it) and wind. Reports on the news kept saying Germany was about to get their first snowfall of the season. Luckily we didn't get the snow part, but man oh man, the last week of our trip was freezing cold, wet, and a bit gloomy. But that didn't stop us from having fun.

Our apartment in Rothenburg was one of favorites. It was just so huge! The Alter Hof Loft is an old barn that was converted into a 2 bedroom apartment not too long ago. We had sooooo much space to just stretch out and relax.  The location was prime as well - less than 5 mins from the old walled city.

After checking in, we headed into the old city to stretch our legs before dinner. 



First treat, the pastry shop, where we got some yummy Schneeballen, a pie-crust cookie ball that's popular here.

Then we shopped a bit before getting a yummy dinner of Doner kebab to fill our hungry bellies.

It was still early enough that we took the kids to the historic city wall and walked it around the city.


By the time we got to the end of the wall it was raining... again. So it was back to the apartment and off to bed.

Before we came on this trip we purchased a one-day family pass to Lego-land Germany, which is about an hour or so from Rothenburg. We didn't tell the kids though. All they knew was that if they were good the first few weeks, then we would take them somewhere special the last week of the trip. 

So, the next morning, despite the freezing cold temps, chilly breeze, and downpours of rain, we got in the car and drove to Lego-land just PRAYING for dry weather. Cold we could handle, just let it be dry. Finley's reaction once we got off the freeway was priceless. I wish I had pulled out my miniflip recorder. He saw all these lego statues and was like, "Huh?" Within five minutes he was shouting, "oh, did you see that?" and "Oh Dad, can we come back here like tomorrow?"

When Ryan told him no he got all sad and was like, why? To which Ryan said, cause we are going to Legoland TODAY! Which lead Finley to freak out - literally FREAK out! He was SOOOOO excited!!! It was like those Disneyland commercials, but with Lego-land.  It was definitely one of the best reactions/moments of this trip.

It wasn't raining at the exact moment when we got into the park so we decided to get in line for one of the outdoor roller coasters. Finley was so brave and went on with me. But as the coaster cart starts going, the skies open up and pour not rain, not snow, but HAIL from the heavens. Finley started crying because the coaster was going fast (for him) and with the speed of the cart, the pounding hail in our faces, the cold temps, it really was no fun. Luckily Finn had a waterproof coat on. I however did not, and I was soaked to the core and miserable and cold. After we got off, they shut the ride down and we went inside the creative building room to warm up and dry off. Here we are after the ride. I look (and felt) like a drowned rat.

Finley chose a very complex motorized lego set to build. I was a bit skeptical that he could do it by himself, but he surprised us all and did an amazing job and built it right. Berlin and I worked on some dolphins and other animals. Finley could have stayed there all day. 

Once the rain stopped we got on a few more rides and then it was lunch at the pizza pasta house. This ride was like teacups, but FASTER!

Finley love this one. You pull yourself up using the rope to the top of the tower. Then you hold the clamp and fall down. It was pretty great. Berlin was very upset that she couldn't ride this one. She was 1 inch too short. So she sat in the stroller and pouted until we moved on.

Here are some shots of the other rides they went on.

This ride was really cute. The canoe wasn't on a track. I just floated in this narrow water canal. So the kids got to really paddle their own canoe. 

Their favorite though (based on how many times they rode it) would have to be the Knight's Jousting Horses. They rode this over and over and over again. 

Then we took them on the Dragon Coaster. Finley is definitely NOT a fan of fast rides. He hated it and screamed at Ryan the whole time how he hated us and we were the meanest parents ever. I was sitting in front of them and was trying hard not to laugh. Berlin sat with me and she loved it and wanted to do it again. That's my girl! But I was proud of Finley for trying it out. 

While we waited for Ryan and Berlin to go on the Dragon Coaster again, Finley and I waited at this catapult.

 Funny thing is that just the other day we were talking about Lego-land and he told me that he wanted to go on the Dragon Coaster again because he didn't think he would be scared.

It started getting drizzly again so we decided to find something indoors. That Atlantis attraction was perfect. the kid loved the aquarium displays.

The surprise ride of the day for Finn was the Pirate Ship ride where you squirt water at the other boats and the people watching from the castle turrets (who also have water guns to shoot the passing boats). Berlin hated this one because she didn't like getting wet. Hmmm. Wonder where she got that. I hate water rides too so it was not surprise when I opted out of this ride so I could play photographer.


Being in Germany of course there is a courtyard with soccer busts. Ryan wanted his picture taken with some of them. The Beckham's ...

Hoisting up the World Cup...

The soccer stadium. This was by far the most impressive of all the scenes they created.


Some German soccer player that Ryan likes...

these are the sets that the kids liked looking at ...


As we headed over to the Hero Factory and Build Your Own Lego factory we noticed that the rides were shutting down. Apparently the park closes at 5:30pm? Odd. There was plenty of light to be had. Seems silly to close to early. We were pretty bummed because we didn't get to do those last few things. But it was a great day despite the poor weather. 

The next day we decided to take a day trip to N├╝rnberg. We are creatures of habit and Ryan has his favorites here that we have to hit up every time we come. Here we are eating the best lebkuchen (soft gingerbread cookies) in the market square. 

Followed by a lunch of brawts on crusty rolls from Ryan's favorite sausage hut in the background (the day trip really happened so he could partake of their goodness once again). 

We walked off all this yummy food by walking to the castle. It's a fabulous castle for strolling around. 


After the castle we headed back to Rothenburg for dinner. You know,cause we had to get the Doner kebab one more time before leaving.


We sure do love this city. The next day we left for the Mosel region of Germany - our last leg of the trip. Those pics coming later.