Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mario Party Favors

After the invitations for Connor's 5th birthday were finished, I got to work on the gift bags.  Normally, the lengths that I go to in order to keep with my theme go relatively unnoticed by most people.  This year, I have at least two children attending Connor's party whose mothers I KNOW will notice those details.  I love having similarly-neurotic people in my life.

I really didn't want to purchase Mario favors, so I decided to make my own.  Here are some of the items that I started with.
The water, fruit snacks, and Silly Putty eggs came from Target. The bubbles, flying discs, and cubes came from Party City. (Not pictured: bucket/pail sets from Michaels, mustache chocolate molds from Carol's Cake Supply)
I was lucky enough to have found a Super Mario font for free on the internet (you can download it here) when I was making the invitations, so I used this font when personalizing the gifts.  Since the party is at a park that has sand in the playground and at the lake's shore, the buckets will be given out at the beginning of the party for the kids to use.

Here's a shot with all of the buckets.
Later in the game, I realized that I needed something for the favors to go in since the buckets would be covered in sand when it was time for the kids to leave.  So, I got some cheap gift bags and personalized them.
Thanks again, free Mario font!
I have three more mint chocolate Mario mustaches-on-a-stick to finish but, other than that, the favors are done!

This will be Connor's stash. I'll have the waters chilled and ready for the kids to drink at the party. But this way, they don't have to worry about whose is whose since they're already labeled!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lunch with Connor - Monster

Connor had gotten up from his chair during lunch to sit in my lap and tell me this story.  Not quite sure why he was using this voice other than he knew that he was being filmed and thought he'd try to be a goofball.  Don't be fooled by his tone of voice because, just when you think you know what's going to happen, well, just watch for yourself.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sorry, Skunks

Last night, we returned from a trip that was packed with a 6 hour car ride to Mitchell, SD an overnight stay at a hotel, a morning swim, a funeral and reception, a trip to "the farm", a lot of visiting with family, and a return car ride lasting another 6 hours.  All of that in a span of a little more than 24 hours.  It was a full day for the adults, let alone for our two kids. 

For the most part, Cara and Connor did really well in the car.  On the way home, they played very well together until it got a bit dark outside and Cara fell into an awesome, mouth-open sleep.  The kind of sleep that every parent on a road trip dreams of.  And, being the donkey that he is, Connor would have no part of it. 

So, the boy turns his attention to the folks in the front.  Crap.  Don't you have a DS to play or something?

He rambles on (as he is prone to do when he is tired) about anything and everything that pops into his head and I do the active listening fake-out thing where I say "Really?" and "Right!" in appropriate increments even though I am in a highway-induced trance since I'm the one driving.  After a bit, I declare my office closed and state that Craig is now the manager on duty. 

Now that Craig is supposed to be listening and responding, I honestly should zone out and focus on the road and getting us home but I can't help but listen to the verbal barrage that Craig is fielding. After realizing that he was losing the debate he was having with his dad, Connor randomly stated, "Skunks say they're sorry."

Normally, I would chalk this up as a "Random Backseat Rambling" similar to ones that I post on Facebook.  But this time, I got to be a spectator as opposed to a participant in this show.  Let me just say, that when you don't have to ready your brain with a response to this boy's nonsense and can just sit back and watch the show, it's much harder to stifle the laughter.  And anyone that was with me in confirmation class or church choir knows just how much I suck at NOT laughing at inappropriate times. 

So, I'm in the driver's seat, bouncing with silent laughter and trying not to focus on picturing a skunk, standing on his hind legs, saying "My bad."  Craig continues his role as The Adult in the Household and asks Connor more questions about skunks.  Connor goes on to talk about how they do handstands when they spray and that the babies spray each other for practice.  He said, "If a skunk comes near you and you walk away fastly, they will chase you.  But if you walk away slowly, they won't."  (Silent giggle about the word "fastly".)  He also added how, if you get sprayed by a skunk, you have to take a bath "with tomato juice and water".  He then mentions that he's heard a lot of this information from an episode of Curious George. 

At this point, I have replaced my suppressed snickers with awe at the amount of information that he's retained about these striped creatures when he adds, "They're not turtles. That means they only come out at night."

I totally deserve a medal for not crashing the car. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Even though I knew that Connor's birthday was rapidly-approaching, I believe that I may have been in a slight bit of denial about the fact that he was actually going to be turning five.  When I verbalized this disbelief, Connor offered, "I can be 3 1/2 and then just turn 4 on my birthday."  Such a nice boy to offer to play along with Mommy's delusions like that.

Since Connor is a fan of all-things-Mario, we decided to go with that as his birthday theme this year.  I got the notion of hand-making his invitations and had an idea in mind that involved buying yellow cards with envelopes that I found at a local craft store.  In my mind (which we've already established is filled with delusions), a pack of 10 cards and envelopes means that the cards would actually be folding cards with which to write on the inside.  Not so much with the pack that I bought.  These were 10 separate pieces of card stock, cut into a size that would fit the accompanying envelopes.  So much for my original plan.

I did some searching on the Internet (I cheated on Google and went straight for and Pintrest) and got some inspiration.  I took those falsely-labeled pieces of card stock and got to work.  Pretty happy with the results.  Now I just need to work on the party details.
This is how they look when taken from the envelope.
This is the invitation pulled out of the question mark block.
For those of you unfamiliar with Mario, here is a picture of the question block and one of the mushroom.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lunch with Connor - Gardening

Lunch at Target again.  This time, Connor talks about working in the garden at his school.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Mother's Day Letter to My Mom

Dear Mom,

A month or so ago, I grumbled about the impending Mother's Day holiday. Thinking of gift ideas for you is not always an easy task, considering the fact that you like to shop and, if there was something that you really wanted, you'd go out and buy it.  Some years I have great ideas and some years I need a little bit of help. This year, I think our gift turned out well (thanks to the kids' help) and we can't wait to see you use it.

Made with a giant heart cookie cutter, beads, and glass.
I thought about writing a post filled with all of the funny things that I remember from growing up with you as my mom.  I toyed with the idea of making a list of some of the things that I've put you through over the years, just to give readers an idea of how unconditional your support of me has been.  But as I started to write this, I was reminded how lucky I am this Mother's Day.

This Mother's Day, you are still alive.  You continue to breathe and blink and dream and love.  This Mother's Day, I can share stories about you with my own children without choking back the tears that come with loss.  This Mother's Day, I can pick up the phone and call you and tell you just how much you mean to me.  This Mother's Day, your 40th Mother's Day, my children and I get to make you a gift and talk to you about it and see you use it.  For this, I am so lucky and so very, very grateful.

I love you, Mom!  Happy Mother's Day!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lunch with Connor - Popcorn

This is a continuation from the Grease edition of Lunch with Connor.  In this episode, we discuss how to handle the large amount of popcorn that someone had left under our lunch table.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bird Watching

As I was in the kitchen doing dishes, Connor yells at me from the living room, "Mom! There's a kiwi bird in our front yard!"  Since I was very impressed that he even knew of this kind of bird, I was reluctant to break the news to him that kiwis are not found in Minnesota.

 I went over to the window to look along with him and he asked me to get my phone to take a picture of it (something he's been asking to do a lot more than usual lately).  Instead, I grabbed the actual camera and got a couple of shots for him.

"Kiwi Bird"
Take off, eh!
I had gone back to doing the dishes and Connor returned to the front window to continue watching the feathered creatures that were feasting on post-rainstorm worm salad.  I had stopped paying attention to the boy at the glass for a few moments and when I looked back in on him, he was kneeling on the couch with a paper pressed to the picture window.
Watching a robin and showing the bird a picture he had drawn.
When Connor was done at the window, I asked to see the picture that he was showing.  He obliged, his description of the drawing filled with deep preschooler regret.
"This is me telling Daddy 'I want a bird' and Daddy saying 'No'".
After reading about his imagined objection, Craig asked Connor what kind of bird he would want.  "A chicken!" Connor replied.  My patient husband explained to my son, who still plugs his nose whenever he uses the restroom, that chickens were pretty smelly.  Connor then went through a list of other possible pets which included a snake, a turtle, and a frog.  "All animals, when kept in cages, will start to smell after a while," Craig explained.  Realizing his own intolerance for odors was going to outweigh his passing desire for a pet, Connor decides, "Maybe I'll just take a picture of a frog."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting

When I was a teenager, I was one of the only girls in my subdivision that babysat.  My neighborhood was filled with a lot of young families, so I was kept fairly busy taking care of kids. At $2 an hour (don't laugh--it was a decent wage back then), I should have had a sizable savings built up with all of the babysitting jobs I had back then.  I've thought back on this through the years and I can not for the life of me figure out where that money went, other than when I bought my hamster and all of her hamster accoutrements.

Today, while browsing the web, I had a light bulb moment.  A small, possibly-toxic, overpriced plastic, choking hazard of a light bulb moment, undoubtedly purchased at a store like Claire's.  I saw the picture below and I was immediately transported to the days when some friends and I would be dropped off at the mall by our parents, long before any of us had drivers' licenses, let alone our own cars.  The mall had untold fortunes of nonsense that, had we actually allowed ourselves to be seen with our parents in these stores, we would have been talked out of buying.  It's crap like this (and cedar chips for Ginger) that I spent my money on.   

Whoever owned this necklace obviously didn't have a hamster to support.

Taste the Rainbow

Just reading about these made me drool...and a little drunk.

Double Rainbow Cake Jelly Shots

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lunch with Connor - Grease

I've been trying to capture some of the conversations that Connor and I have been having at lunch time.  The things that he talks about are often random, but always extremely thoughtful.

In this episode of Lunch with Connor, he discusses the various food groups associated with his lunch.