the big trip to disney

last week was the big trip. to disney and the giant mouse. the mouse that my little guy has been talking about seeing for at least three months. the trip that as my husband so adorably put it, was "one of those moments where you stop and go 'wow. i'm really a parent. i'm taking my child to disney.'"

while there wasn't any craftiness going on during the trip, i just felt like i had to share some of what we encountered and some tips and tricks i discovered (and had no idea about) for navigating this happiest place on earth with a little one.

just to give some idea of what we were up against, this is how my little guy is:

1. he's really had no experience with any characters. except for a fleeting experience with santa claus in december 2010, which didn't go well.

2. he's a total fan of mickey and minnie and donald and daisy and pluto and goofy. and all things disney junior. but in the two-dimensional form.

3. we're in the midst of potty training. enough said.

4. we had used "mickey's house" as a big incentive for potty training. we'd been telling him for weeks that "big boys get to go to mickey's house." that seemed to be working....

5. he hadn't been on an airplane since he was about fifteen months old.

so away we went. and here are some things we learned...

- take a stroller. we rented a great one from orlando stroller rentals. because it's hot in florida and when you have to walk to the tram, then walk to the ticket counter, stand in line for tickets, walk to the monorail, and walk to the park, it takes a lot out of a little one. first day, we let him have free reign...which meant that by the time we actually walked into the magic kingdom, he was pretty much ready for his nap. day two, he rode in the stroller.

Petunia Pickle Bottom -
my fave
- get a backpack diaper bag. huge help.

- one of my favorite mama items to have is the booginhead sippigrip cup, bottle and toy tether. it's one of those things where you say "why didn't i think of that?" but it's genius. you never lose the juice cup.

- if you have a toddler that isn't a huge fan of characters (the big ones), hollywood studios is a great place to go. they have a whole disney junior live on stage show that has the characters in puppet form. plus, there's music, singing, dancing and bubbles. what more can you ask for? (we went to the show twice.)

- also, at hollywood studios....the "honey, i shrunk the kids" playground. there are slides and water. perfect toddler fare.

- have change on you for when you stand in line at "it's a small world." we had a ten minute wait, but i was so gloriously happy that i had change on me, so my little guy could make wishes in the water below.

- if epcot is your thing, there are some great playgrounds and gardens for running and playing. great to burn off some energy.

- for anyone in the midst of potty training....this sounds strange, but pack a stack of post-it notes in your bag. you see, in an effort to be environmentally friendly (which i am all for), all disney potties flush automatically. like, as in, when your child is sitting on it. which naturally will scare the bejeezus out of a toddler. put the post-it note over the sensor before you even have get your child on the potty. this should prevent all of the "mommy, please don't flush the potty" pleas that we heard. (heartbreaking, by the way.)

- finally, i have now learned the absolute best seat in the magic kingdom to catch the electric light parade at night...it's a little known secret we found out from a guide there. if anyone is heading to disney and wants to know, message me. i'll share. :)

all in all, we had a great time. it was three days of seeing joy in our little guy and testing our stamina running around the parks. if anyone has any great tips to share on disney, i'd love to hear. because i'm pretty sure we'll be headed back to "mickey's house" again soon!



a very necessary birthday shirt

something i have tried to do (and failed miserably at) for the last three years, is to have a cutesy little t-shirt for my little guy to wear on his birthday. etsy is filled with awesome options...screen printed, appliqu├ęd, you name it, the options are there. i love, love, love super simple options - baseball tees with just the number he's turning are a big fave. and this year, i thought i was so on top of things when three weeks before his birthday, i found a tee i liked and contacted the seller to make sure the perfect little tee could be here on time. no response.

so, time was ticking. a week before the birthday, and there was no tee. (i'll stop here and say, yes, it seems totally absurd that i had to have a tee with a "3" on it for his birthday. but this year, i went kinda overboard with everything birthday related, so yes, the tee was a must.)

enter pinterest and the twist of fate that i came across a posting of "how to do your own screen printing at home." (see here for the pin and be sure to click through for details!) yeah, screen printing. so, i repined my find, clicked through to the link and got the details on how i could screen print my very own "3" tee for my little man.

to start, i did a little playing in word to put together the "3" in the font i wanted to use on the shirt. i settled on stencil font in a super large font size (we're talking about 300 pt. font). i printed out the design to make sure it fit on the front of the shirt.

here's a quick list of the materials needed (courtesy of hobby lobby):

tee (i actually picked up a decent one at hobby lobby for about $4. best thing is that it's washed really well...very important for any mama)
design printout
fabric paint
cross-stitch hoop (these come in varying sizes...after you have your design printout, that will help you gauge what size of hoop you need...i went with a 6" hoop)
modge podge
small paint brushes (i went with bristle brushes for small, detailed areas)
black permanent marker
small piece of cardboard
nude pantyhose

i'll warn everyone now: this little project took awhile. so, just plan on having to do some steps and take a break between them.

step one: start with the pantyhose and cut apart one of the legs to get a square piece that will fit the width of your cross stitch hoop. stretch the hose inside the hoop.

step two: lay the hoop/hose combo on top of the printed design. carefully start to trace the outline of the design onto the hose. make sure to trace the design...because later you'll fill in the design with the paint.

step three: this is the modge podge step. grab a paintbrush and you'll paint the modge podge on the hose in the areas you don't want to have painted on your shirt. this was my first time with modge podge...and i learned that a nice healthy coat is needed. i actually ended up doing a first coat, letting it dry, and then applying a second coat to make sure no paint was going to get through.

step four: after the modge podge is dry, position the hoop on the tee where you want the design. (hint: be sure to put a piece of cardboard in between the front and back of the tee to keep from any paint bleeding through.) take the paint and squeeze some on to the design area that you want on the tee. using the cardboard, spread the paint out over the design area. another hint: it helps to do a thick coat of paint, to make sure it gets through the hose. after you've spread the paint over your design, carefully lift the hoop off the tee. and voila! you have your own diy screen print tee.

for drying time, i let the paint dry for at least 24 hours before moving it. and, washing was super easy...the tee and the paint washed really well, hasn't cracked or peeled and looks great.

more importantly, the tee was a total hit with my little guy...he was so proud to wear his "3" shirt and tell everyone he was turning three.



a lightning mcqueen celebration: part ii

the party has wrapped. part of me is relieved, part of me is tapped out of ideas of what else to do with black and white checkered anything, and part of me is already thinking "what do i do next??"

this party was kinda a big one. i didn't realize quite how big it was becoming until my family was in town, and they started asking what party decorations they could help with. i think the breaking moment was when i said, "well, i have two liters of soda, and we're going to peel the labels off and put rust-eze labels on them." that was met with some blank stares and a few smiles. and it was met with: "well, how are people going to know what's in the bottles?"...and without missing a beat, i replied, "oh, i have these labels that i made for the table that will go in front of the bottles." that was the moment i knew i had just gone and gone and gone with party planning and i didn't realize how far i'd gone.

but let me say this: i don't regret a single part of it. i loved every single little thing i made and every minute i put into it. my little boy may not have cared that he had all these handmade decorations, but it was therapeutic for me.

so this post will feature all of the signs and banners and such that adorned our house for the big three. all in all, there were five banners, and one outside sign (adorned with real tires, no less), some popcorn cones, lots of candy and two different birthday cakes. overboard? nah.

the outside sign

i started with a piece of red foam core board...easily purchased at hobby lobby. also very important: black and white checkered ribbon (2" wide) also purchased at hobby lobby. next, i planned out the sign artwork - simple black and white checkered and solid black circles cut with the plantin schoolbook cricut cartridge. the letters also came from the same cartridge, cut in red, yellow and green.

to give some stability to the foam core (since we have have some vicious winds in these parts), i picked up two very sturdy dowel rods (square-shaped) and simply added a little hot glue to adhere them to the sign.

i have to give some big credit to my husband who came up with the idea of how to set this sign up...side note: my husband has an obsession with tires. i can't tell you exactly how many tires we have in our garage, but we have three cars and i can say with certainty that we have more than the twelve required to drive those three cars. so the loving husband that he is, he offered to get some of those tires out of the garage and donate them to the party effort. with a couple of tires, our sign, some plastic black and white checkered flags (from oriental trading) and some yellow cones (from the target dollar spot...woohoo!), we had a nice little entry into the house.

the big birthday banner

in kinda similar style and fashion to the second birthday banner, we had a big "happy birthday noah" banner to give us a little extra something for the kitchen/main party area. i went pretty simple - three different styles of 2" wide ribbon, black and white checkered paper, white paper and black paper, all cut with the cricut. pretty simple and it gave us some nice little decoration to the main area.

the little banners

so i've mentioned my new obsession with bakers' twine...and when i have a huge spool of it, i have to use it for something. which meant making the little banners. a banner for the mantle, two banners for the upstairs banister (looking into our foyer), one for the table and one for the kitchen. it was banners galore in our house.

popcorn cones

super simple. and it helped use up my supply of black and white checkered scrapbook paper that seemed to be growing in my stash. i had come across this idea on pinterest and thought popcorn would be a great non-sugar snack for the kids to have. i tracked down a handy cone template for tracing here from hostess with the mostess. i cut out about twenty of these and with a little double-sided tape on each side, i simply wrapped the cutouts to make the cone.

what needed a little more thought was how i was going to present these...during a trip to hobby lobby, i came across a great clearance deal on a round, shallow clear acrylic bowl. then to figure out what to put in it that was strong enough to keep the cones upright...skittles. bright colors that matched the party theme and of course, more sugar. they were a total hit with the kiddos.

soda bottle labels

like i said, this was the moment of "too far." but again, i saw a similar idea online and thought it was a nice touch. i printed out a bunch of the rust-eze logos, hand trimmed them, all with the idea of replacing the soda bottle labels with the rust-eze labels. the hard part that i totally didn't expect was getting the coke, diet coke, etc. labels off of the bottles...i think there might have been some goo-gone that was used in the effort to get my rust-eze labels on the bottles (thanks hubby!) 

nonetheless, i thought they were cute. 

finally, the cakes....

i can take zero credit for both of the cakes we had at the party, except that i placed the order for them. the first one was a cake i saw through a google search for "cars birthday cakes." i saw this cake and was in. love. (note: i love cake. like, i believe cake is a food group. and even more, i love, love, love a beautifully decorated cake, and have total appreciation for anyone who makes amazing cakes.) i consulted with a local bakery that has done each of noah's birthday cakes - sweet dream desserts and catering in sycamore. amazing cakes. i took in my picture and placed the order and hoped it would come out something like the picture.

the results were truly incredible. i can't even express how happy i was with the outcome and just how perfect the cake was. i'll admit, it very nearly brought me to tears.

then, of course there was cake #2. i was set on cake #1. order was placed. then our neighbor sent me a link to another local bakery that just happened to feature a 3-d lightning mcqueen cake on her website. it was insane. we were going to have more cake than any one party would need. but i went for it. and polka dot bakery totally came through. amazing work, and the cake was wonderful!

overall, the party was a hit. to be honest, i'm still recovering and it's good that there will be plenty of time to regroup before the next party has to be planned. but i had an amazing time getting all of it ready. and seeing the smile on my little boy's face when he finally saw he got his lightning mcqueen party made all of the late nights and prep work totally worth it.


p.s. some of the other things you probably saw in the pics above that i was crazy enough to do:

1. candy jars for kids to make their own treat bags. 
2. twizzlers in glass jar. 
3. chocolate donuts...stacked as "luigi's leaning tower of tires"
4. pinata. there was enough chaos. we didn't even put a single piece of candy in it.
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