Welcome to the fabulous and sometimes insane life
of a working mother who is trying hard not to
let her whole existence be determined by her
cute little munchkins, yet continues to be drawn
in by the adorable and sometimes annoying tiny people!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Parent of the Year Award...Right Here

So I was just (as in literally 50 minutes ago) reading about the 24 People Who are Really Nailing Parenting on Buzzfeed.com. There were some super, awesome, genius parents like:

And I looked at my husband and said, "We should totally be number 25 for Knowing how to utilize munchkin labor! I mean, we have one cleaning, one cooking Ravioli by the Chef, and one exercising (three year old running back and forth yelling, 'look at me exercising'!" We could even use this picture we have documenting that even nakey munchkins must help clean the pool.

That was when it became apparent that we could also be known as Number 26-Parents Who Completely Understand the Meaning of Karma! For as I was stating what awesome parents we are, a huge crash came from the kitchen where the aforementioned chef had tried to move a huge spigot glass serving picture on a pedestal (which my lazy tired self should have already cleaned from our previous night's sleep over) and accidentally knocked it over while trying to get plates out with which to serve the other two munchkins.

The two gallon pedestal, glass pitcher still half full of pink lemonade shattered exploded into a bazillion pieces in the middle of the kitchen floor, and this mug was niiiiiicccceeeee and made of really thick glass, much like this one....

Alas, I have no picture of ours because it is now in the dust pan, spare random bowl, vacuum cleaner, and  trash can in a bazillion pieces that we have spent the last 45 minutes cleaning up and picking up, and sweeping, and picking up, and vacuuming, and picking up, and mopping, and picking up more.

The moral to this story, before you start patting yourself on the back and readying your picture to send into Buzzfeed.com for People Who are Really Nailing this Whole Parenting thing, you might want to actually do a little parenting and keep in mind...KARMA cause I promise, as much as I preach about Karma to my kids, they are not going to let us forget this one. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Disney Diva...Not Part 2

disney diva…not
Part 2
Never Again!
Everyone had a certain order you should go in, which needless to say got very confusing. And given the fact that I have ADHD, I began to get overwhelmed. One thing everyone of them had in common was that you should try your very hardest to make the “Rope Drop” at the beginning of the day and that if you are going to see Anna and Elsa you better head there right off the bat to try to avoid waits. In retrospect, I should have paid attention to the fact that none, I repeat NONE of these people had been to the Magic Kingdom since Elsa and Anna moved there from Epcot at the end of March in 2014, a little over a month before our visit.  

So at 8:05, we exited our car after parking closer than ever before. So close that no tram ride was required. We picked up our tickets from Will Call and boarded the Ferry Boat (the monorail system was not open yet). This was when it started to sprinkle. We were standing at the gates of The Magic Kingdom at 8:40, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Minnie and Mickey on the train to countdown to the opening of the park. We were committed. Of course, we had to be if it was pouring down rain (to the point that my contacts were messing up) and we continued to stand there waiting. Needless to say, the truing never arrived and we never saw the beloved characters my children were so excited to see countdown. Guess they didn’t want to get wet.
This should have been a clue! Stick to what you know. Alas, I plodded on with the plan. We walked down Main Street, not nearly as fast as others due to our party of 5, 3 of them being of short legs, and one of them having knee surgery on Thursday. We went through the castle to enter Fantasyland and ran into a wall of 100-200 people. The entrance to Fantasy Land was blocked by a rope. When it opened there were cast members herding the crowd around the carousel (in a complete circle and into a rope line for meeting Anna and Elsa. (I guess they knew that was what all of these people were going to do.) Apparently, everyone read the blogs. Again this should have been a clue. 

When we got to the front line entrance after being jostled, shoved, heels ran over by strollers, and almost trampled. We saw there were two lines. One for meeting Rapunzel and Cinderella and one for meeting Elsa, Anna, and Aurora. The wait times were side by side: 30 minutes for Rapunzel and Cinderella and 300 minutes for Anna, Elsa, and Aurora. Yeah I know! 300 minutes must be a typo. That’s what we thought too. Someone just messed up. So we continued on. We heard a cast member say, “This is the  longest you will wait every day.” and stupidly we thought he meant that this was the longest we would wait for any attraction. In retrospect (I was in retrospect a lot yesterday, which is a strange place a lot like the room of regret), I now know he meant that in the morning is the longest wait time for seeing Elsa and Anna. Sadly, I did not realize this until we had waited for over an hour and a half and had just gotten to the door to enter the castle and we heard the cast member at the door say that there was another 90 minute wait from there. 
Needless to say, this was not going to happen. We got out of line and hopped into the next door line for Rapunzel and Cinderella, waited 5 minutes, and entered the throne room where the girls got to meet and talk to Cinderella and Rapunzel. 
Notice that we are minus one child. The birthday girl was having nothing to do with this meeting and greeting. This would have been the last straw if we had waited another 90 minutes to see Elsa and Anna, but lucky for her, we did not. 

By the time we left the castle, it was 10:45. By this time we normally would have been almost finished with Fantasyland. My plan had been shaken and I spun around in a stupor of what to do and where to  go. So we just started walking and riding in the order that we came to things. We also tried to use Fast Passes, but that was a completed, befuddled disaster. The new Fast Pass + system is  utterly confusing and even as a cast member stands their at the little Fast Pass+ Kiosk and tries to explain it to you, you just stand there dumbfounded and just nod. We ended up using only 2 Fast Passes for Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain and that was it. 

With all this, I would still say it was our best trip ever to The Magic Kingdom. The girls had a great time and were in awe of everything especially new Fantasyland. They rarely complained and were constantly talking about how cool  everything was. We saw 5-6 more characters and never waited more than 20 minutes. 

We ate at the Crystal Palace around 3:00 and were rewarded with an all you can eat buffet where we enjoyed delicious food, dessert, and coffee, as well as the ability to charge our very dead phones! Plus the girls got to spend time with Piglet, Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore!

There were absolutely no fits until around 8 that night, when the birthday girl decided that 13 hours in the Magic Kingdom was just too much and proceeded to cry herself to sleep. 

By far the coolest and most magical time was Enchanted Tales with Belle. It was amazing! More to come on this soon, but trust me you do not want to miss it!!!  

Disney Diva...Not

Okay, Disney Diva I am not. I do not claim to be, nor do am I really even a Disney fan. I would choose Universal or Sea World hands down, every time, and twice on Sunday over the Disney parks. However, it is required by the parenting gods that be that we visit the Magic Kingdom. I mean, how can you not if you have little ones, especially little princess ones who love nothing more than to dance around and sing at the top of their lungs “Let It Go”, “Part of Your World”, “Be Our Guest”, and countless other Disney movie tunes. 

So this weekend we embarked on our 3rd Disney adventure with children. I have personally been to Disney over 20 times in my life. (I am lucky enough to have a dear aunt and uncle that have lived in Orlando my entire life.) But being the cheap, thrifty people that we are, we always try to visit The Magic Kingdom right before they turn 3. This way they are old enough to appreciate it but can still get in of FREE! So this year we went on May 3rd, the day before my youngest daughter’s 3rd birthday. 

Now I am an extremely organized person. I mean, I have planning notebooks for birthday parties (man do I do up some birthday parties. Check it out here). So needless to say I spent the last couple of weeks, exploring what time to be where, where to eat, how to avoid the crowds, and basically visited every “Pin” ever “pinned” about visiting Disney World. Check out my board! 

Anywho! (Yes I meant any who and not any how.) On previous trips (keep in mind this is prior to new Fantasyland and the transfer to Fastpass +), I followed the tips from Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World. 
1. Get to the park when it opens. 
2. Go straight to Fantasyland. 
3. Do everything in Fantasyland first, making sure to use a Fast Pass for Peter Pan            because the line is usually 30-60 minutes long for a 2 minute ride. 
We usually go in this order:
Meet Ariel
Winnie the Pooh
Get Fast Pass for Peter Pan
Its a Small World
Mickey’s Philarmagic
Go back to Peter Pan
4. Then we head to Liberty Square, Frontier Land, Adventure Land, take the train to Toon Town (now new Fantasy Land), Toon Town (now circus), then Tomorrow Land and then we go back for a night time ride on The Jungle Cruise. Someone goes ahead in different lands to  grab Fast Passes while we are at other attractions.  

Using this method, we never waited for more than 20-30 minutes for any ride. That being said, the only characters that we waited a long time to see were Ariel (45 minutes) and Mickey and Minnie (60 minutes). We also always make reservations at The Crystal Palace for lunch in the late afternoon. That we we can sit back and relax, including coffee, while we enjoy an all you can eat buffet and the girls get to meet Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger, too!

This time we did not follow this plan…don’t ask me why. I was confused by the new Fastpass + system and overwhelmed with the new Fantasyland and the significant increase of character Meet and Greets. Plus, I discovered all of these blogs and websites by these self proclaimed Disney lovers, divas, experts, and I figured that since they spent 10 days at a time (how in the hell do you afford that with a family of 4, let alone 5, 6, 7…) at the Disney parks every year that they new what they were talking about. 

Rookie mistake! Stick with what you know!!! Here’s what happened:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Calling All the Minions!

This household has become minion obsessed lately. We love Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, but our favorite part of the movies is the minions. First of all how could you not love those adorable, scene stealing comedians. And secondly, I've been calling my munchkins minions for years!

So of course there was no question what kind of birthday party my soon to be 7 year old wanted. It was minions all the way!

(I had to create several options for my little diva, and I decided to sell them all in my Etsy store, so if you are interested be sure to go check them out here!)

We invited around 20 kids, and I got to planning. Now if you don't know me well, I must admit to you that I am a wee bit birthday obsessed. In fact while some might say that I am an amazing birthday party planner, others (my husband) would say that I am obsessed and that our house turns into pure h... in the week preceding a party.  Whatever, I just believe that birthdays are special and they should be treated as such!

First I start with the decorations. I used foam board from Wal-Mart to create life sized minions. Don't scoff! It wasn't that hard. You could do it two ways: first, Youtube How to Draw a Minion and follow the steps, or you could find the minion you like and print it onto a transparency and then broadcast it onto the board using an overhead projector or a regular movie projector from your computer and just trace it.

I also created a larger minion for the front door using a piece of yellow foam board and a piece of blue foam board. Nothing says "Welcome little Minions!" like a huge minion on the front door. In fact, one of the kids told her mom that she knew that was definitely our house because there was a minion on the front door:)

Of course, a Despicable Me themed party would not be complete without Gru! So I glued together three pieces of foam board lengthwise and drew a Gru that was even taller than me.

Other decorations included chevron pennants which I created out of napkins from Wal-Mart by just cutting them into triangles, a printable birthday pennant banner that you can also purchase at my Etsy store, hanging streamers and swirls, tons of plastic table cloths which you can do lots of things with, and a huge birthday banner that I painted myself.

We also had speech bubbles everywhere with minion words, so that our little minions could learn how to speak like minions. In retrospect, I am not sure what a good idea this was seeing as for the last two weeks they all bust into fits of "Bee do, bee do, bee do, bee do!"

 Next in the planning came the activities. When having birthday parties at home, unless you are having a swimming party, you need to have activities planned or the little minions will take over (a.k.a. destroy) your house that you spent hours cleaning to prepare for the party. So here are the activities that we had fun with:

1. We created our own minions using construction paper. I had the pieces cut out (body, overalls, eyes, arms, legs, feet...) and they put them together and decorated their minion however they wanted. We did this at the beginning while the children were arriving.

2. Next we had fun dancing to all of the Minion short videos and songs and doing the Just Dance songs from Despicable Me. I just created a Youtube playlist of all the minion shorts and songs and played it on our T.V. If you don't have a Smart T.V., you could do this lots of ways. You could download them to your computer using the program YouTube Downloader and then burn them to a DVD. Or you could also just connect your computer to your T.V. using an HDMI cable and play the videos right from your computer. Here is a link to my Minion Playlist

3. The most popular activity of the day was the "Minion Hunt". Luckily for me  Wal-Mart already had out their Easter stuff (not sure what I would have done otherwise). I bought 4 bags of eggs. Unfortunately, I had to buy the bags with all of the colors to get just blue, yellow, and purple. Then I put my minions to work making blue and yellow eggs. Next I painted on eyes and goggles using acrylic paint. In retrospect, I could have just gotten those round white stickers and some black electrical tape to create the goggles, but I really didn't mind. 

Then we hid the 50 something minion eggs outside (same way you would do an Easter Egg hunt), and we released the minions with some super cool and creative plastic Wal-Mart bags.

4. No Despicable Me party would be complete without The Box of Shame which was featured in the first movie. It was where the orphans were sent to be punished when they did not sell enough cookies. The kids had fun getting in the Box of Shame and even stuck some of their minions in it.

5. Minions are not hard to draw. Especially if you focus on the basic shapes. The body is made out of an egg shaped oval with the top part colored yellow and the bottom blue. Then you draw in the eyes and goggles. Add some legs and arms and you have a minion. They had the best time drawing their minions on our front sidewalk using sidewalk chalk. There were minions leading up to our door for days. Guess we could call it a Minion Walk.

6. A last minute activity that just happened because I was cruising past the toy section and these rocket shooters were on an end cap was "Shoot the Moon like Gru". These rocket shooters were $2.50 each. I bought 3 of them, but had I realized how super cool they were. I would have bought a lot more. These things shot up 20-30 feet in the air, and they could have done this all day long!!

7. Finally, after the singing of Happy Birthday and the serving of plates, we turned on one of the movies and enjoyed "dinner and a movie". This captivated some for the rest of the time. The others enjoyed going outside and repeating many of the activities we had already finished or just playing. 

For the food, I had to stick with the theme. We had bananas because that is a minion's most favorite food. We had apples and grapes, because you can't have a minion in a fruit hat without them. There were minions in a blanket (pigs in a blanket) and minion grahams (which were conveniently sold at the store). Agnes's caterpillars were a big hit as (Cheetos puffs always are).

Of course I used minion words to name all of the food. This was not hard. You can Google minion language and there are tons of sites that have English words translated into minion words. 

And let's not forget the birthday cake. Yes, I did make it myself but before you make a sarcastic comment about all the time in the world. let me be clear...I teach first grade full time, have 3 kids, sell products on TeachersPayTeachers, and have a husband that is a football coach and is frequently gone. I am not a super hero or Wonder Woman...I just can't afford to spend $100 on a cake and to get the kind of cake I wanted that is what it would have costed.

Finally it was time to go. For party favors, I bought yellow, plastic cups (2 for $1) and filled them with party favors that I got in a set in the party section a Wal-Mart. There were 8 sets to a bag that cost $6.50. Total cost of these super cute favors was less that $1.50 each!!!  I painted the goggles on the cups to make them look like minions. Again, I realize now that I could have done the same things with white circular stickers or labels and black electrical tape. Really wish I had thought of that then. But I think they turned out pretty cute. To finish them off, I stuffed black tulle in the top to make it look like minion hair. The kids loved them, and they looked so cute displayed on our bookcase near the door. 

Of course I spent hours on Pinterest gathering ideas and inspiration! You can check out my Party Perfection board here to add to your ideas on your Minion birthday party, as well as countless more party themes. We had a great time! And people are still talking about the party 3 weeks later. I hope this helps you in planning your little Minions birthday party! From our minions to yours....