Fun Friday: Back to “School”

Kids are now starting back to school…I always dreaded it, but I’m sure my mom secretly looked forward to it. I understand it now! Not that I don’t want my little man in the house with me. I LOVE spending time with him, but a break every now and then would be nice. He’s literally with me 24 hours a day.

I’m always looking for little activities to do with him that will keep in learning mode. He’s a smart fella and loves to learn, so I like to keep educational things at his disposal and within his reach. So when I came across some fun (and cheap) educational tools at the Dollar Tree, I couldn’t pass them up. Little man has a pretty large playroom (we turned a sunroom into his playroom at our new house), so I was able to dedicate a whole side of it to his “learning area”!

I got these teacher charts that feature the alphabet and numbers 1-10. They came in a pack together so they were just $.50 each! The numbers border came with 14 strips for $1 (I only needed 3 for the windows) and I cut up a cars/trucks border to place on either side to fill up the window.

He has a box full of books…that even overflowed to the top of the box! He also has a big 3 shelf bookshelf in his bedroom…full of mainly Usborne books (we highly recommend them!). Of course, we couldn’t forget his reading pillow! I have a CD player placed behind it and he already knows how to use it and find his favorite songs. 😉

In the blue bucket (also from Dollar Tree), I put learning flash cards for the alphabet, numbers, animals and sight words…each $1. I also got him a 3 pack of cards that has 2 Bible oriented card games and a heroes of the Bible deck! The foam blocks are great for counting and sorting!

On another wall, I put 2 more posters…one for animals and the other for insects. Since his playroom is the old sunroom and looks out into the backyard, he sees insects all the time out his giant windows. Now he can see them up close on his posters and learn a little more about them!

He absolutely loves his little learning area and I can hear him saying his bugs, animals, alphabet and numbers even when he plays in there by himself! Some days he doesn’t even pull his toys out to play, but has books scattered everywhere and will even “read” out loud!

I caught him like this the other day…going over his letters and pictures associated with each one!

Total cost of charts, borders, card, blocks, bucket? $12…2 sets of poster, 2 borders, 4 decks of cards, 1 3-pack of cards, 2 bags of blocks, 1 bucket. (I also got a vowels/sight words chart combo and a chores/rewards chart combo for later down the road.)

While he’s still a couple of years away from going to school, I like to keep him surrounded with learning materials…and it’s easy to when you can find good deals like these!


Mickey Mouse Birthday Party

I have a few friends that are planning Mickey Mouse parties, so I thought I’d share this on the blog, from little man’s party back in February. Since the party, we’ve moved and things got a little crazy so I’m just now getting around to sharing all the projects I made to help make his day special!

I may have gone a tad overboard, but I had so much fun creating all the details! I had so many, that I didn’t even have time to finish some in time for the party. Yes…I had more than what is shown in this post. 😛

The invitations! I got the idea off Pinterest. They were actually for sale on Etsy, but I knew I could recreate them for free, so I did! I included one for the parents too! The kids brought their tickets to get in to the “Clubhouse” and then got a sticker, hand stamp and Mickey ears!

I’ll start at the street and move on into the house since this is how the guests saw it!

I made this sign using some scrap wood we had from building an addition onto the house we were living in at the time. I’m a craft supply hoarder and already had the paints on hand, so this project cost me absolutely nothing…other than time. I scanned in the clubhouse logo at about 900dpi (graphic designer jargon…sorry) so I could enlarge it big enough and then traced it onto the wood with a ball point pen…which creates an indention in the wood and makes it easy to see where to paint without extra steps!

Next, I created sidewalk signs that featured all the Clubhouse characters. I bought one of those birthday bundle supply books from Walmart for like $8 and it turned out to be the BEST purchase. (Since I’m a graphic designer, I could scan anything in the book and use the graphics to create anything I wanted on a larger scale…for FREE!) The book had napkin rings, table displays, placemats, table runner, etc.) I had scanned all the characters and enlarged them so I could use them for lots of different projects! I printed out each character and spray mounted them onto pieces of cardboard (I cut up a moving box since we had plenty lying around). The only cost to me on the sidewalk signs was the ribbon (3 rolls/$1 at Michael’s) and the dowel sticks (also at Michael’s…one stick was long enough to make 3 signs…less than $1/dowel stick).

Next, I had 4 different games outside as well as an inflatable jumper!

Pluto’s Frisby Toss – $1 Store laundry baskets, signs on dowel paint sticks, stuck through basket holes and then staked into the ground. The store also had Mickey Mouse Clubhouse frisbies for $1 each, so I bought 5! Total cost…about $7

Then there was the Bucket Toss. Again…saw this idea on Pinterest. It wasn’t a new idea if you’ve ever watched the Bozo Show! 😉 The kids obviously didn’t get the reference, but still had a blast playing it! Costs: 6 buckets – $1/each, 1×6 – about $5, screws – $3, balls – $1.50 for 12. Total = $15.50

Donald’s Duck Pond! This was a huge hit and a huge mess! The kids flocked around the pool (luckily this February day wasn’t too cold) and not much later, I had a soaked Birthday boy. I had a star on the bottom of one of the ducks and prize candy to give out, but completely forgot to bring the candy out. They didn’t seem to mind at all. We eventually had to empty the pool, but it was fun while it lasted! We already had the pool and I found the ducks on clearance for $3! Total cost = $3

Clubhouse Bean Bag Toss! This one took us a while to finish, but I think it turned out great! We already had the board from the house addition leftovers. The hubby cut out the circles and I painted it blue (we already had this paint too). I printed out enlarged characters and decoupaged them to the board. The only expense I had on this one was the fabric and peas for the bean bags…about $4-$5 total.

Then there was the bouncer! This was a gift from us and my mom! To rent one runs about $200 and just for a little more you can own a smaller one! This one has an attached ball pit and he absolutely loved it! It’s small enough that it can be inflated indoors! Of course, the kids had to take their shoes off before they got in…so I made a sign and placed it on a “shoe shelf”.

As soon as you entered the door, the kids got their stickers, hand stamp and Mickey ears. Before the party even started, I said “I have a feeling the adults are going to wear these more than the kids”…and I was right. My mom and sis even sported them the whole time! This was, by far, the most time consuming of all the projects. I got the headbands from the dollar store for 2/$1. The felt was on sale and I used maybe a yard and half?…so maybe $4-$5? I honestly can’t remember…or I intentionally blocked this project from my memory. Haha! The foam I used was a roll I got from the dollar store. I doubled up the circles on each ear to make it sturdy enough. Total cost = $12…and a TON of patience.

This is the serving table!

Cups, solid color serving plates, tablecloth all came from the dollar store. The character plates and napkins are from Walmart. The table garland is made from foam and outlined in sharpie marker. The buttons on the pants were painted on, but you could probably use stickers too. All strung together with ribbon. I used some leftover stars I cut from foam as table confetti.

I had these canvases left over from a project I had done months earlier, so this was another one that just cost me time! (I told you…I hoard craft supplies!)

The birthday banner…done in Clubhouse font! I don’t own a cricut, so all of the letters were hand cut. Not as bad as it sounds…cut them while watching TV! 😉This is the main table set up! The topiaries I had placed throughout cost more than I wanted them to, but those styrofoam balls are stupidly expensive. I honestly don’t remember how much they cost, but I got them at Michael’s…on sale (still too pricey in my opinion). TIP: Do NOT spray paint styrofoam. It will MELT it! I already knew this, but you do not want to make that mistake and ruin them after you paid so much for them. The stars are made out of foam and the stakes are skewer sticks. I spray painted the pots and hot glued white buttons on. The crinkle paper is from the dollar store…I LOVE me some crinkle paper!

The framed pic is something I saw on Pinterest too! I intent to do it every year. It’s just too cute of an idea to not continue. Since I knew we were going to have out of town family at the party, I decided to have some wallet pics they could take with them…especially since we were getting ready to move out of town ourselves.

This was on the coffee table in the living room. We didn’t expect too many people to be in there with everything else that was going on, but wanted it to be fun too! These frames were bought at Michael’s for $1 each and painted. The Mickey stickers are just scrapbook stickers!

This is the table in the sunroom…where people could visit and eat and where we opened gifts. BTW…we had Hot Diggity Dogs! 😉

More topiaries, but balloon ones this time! Balloons were bought at Walmart…and so was the table cloth.

He had so much fun and thoroughly enjoyed this one particular birthday card!

After all the presents were opened, we moved on to the cake! My mom made my and my siblings cakes growing up and that was one tradition I wanted to do with my own kids. I helped out with his first birthday cake, but due to the overwhelming amount of projects I set out to do, I wasn’t able to do it this year. 😦 Thankfully, my mom is fully capable of still doing it by herself! Cakes sure have come a long way since I was a kid!

Once it was time to leave, each kiddo got to take home a Mickey Mouse goody bag! I made each of them the size of a small pillow case and hand-sewed the buttons on, so they could still be used once the contents were emptied out of it!

Here’s what was included in each bag! Everything cost $1 or less.

Each M&M container had a sticker I designed on it as a “Thank You”!

We had a blast and I think all the kids that came did too! I hope you were able to get some great ideas for your own parties!

See ya real soon!


Manic Monday: On a Tuesday

Yesterday was just too crazy for me to be able to actually blog Manic Monday on Monday.

First, I made the decision to start potty training the little man on the same day I started back with my Insanity workout after sitting out for 3 weeks due to an injury. Yeah…NOT a good idea.

He looked so dang cute in the big boy undies…too bad they didn’t last. :/

While I was very positive for the potty training (outwardly), I was a frustrated wreck on the inside by the afternoon. Long story short…he’s not ready and I’m ok with that. Honestly, I wasn’t in a huge hurry to train him, but most of our friends kids that are his age are already trained, so we kinda felt like maybe we were a little behind. After today, I don’t really care…HAHA! I actually had quite a few comments and messages on FB from friends who had kids that were late learners too and it made me feel a lot better! He has been waking up dry from naps and in the morning, so I thought the timing was good. The truth is, he still doesn’t want to communicate that he has to go and no amount of bribery (or a tad bit of threatening) worked on him. So, the undies he went through yesterday have already been washed and put away for another day.

Now…back to the workout. I started back over from day one, since I had only made it through 3 days before I injured my calf. (If you missed the first 2 entries for Manic Monday: Insanity workouts, you can check them out here and here.) The first day is the fit test and the first go round, it kicked my butt. This time (since I was starting over) I wrote all my new numbers down and was surprised that I had an improvement…even after sitting out 3 weeks.

All my measurements were the same as the first blog entry, except I now weigh 120 instead of 117. No judgements, please…I was laid up on the couch for quite a few days with my injury and had a birthday (with 2 cakes) during my recovery time. Here’s a comparison of my Fit test from the first round to this time…

Switch kicks – 55 —> 60

Power jacks – 30 —> 35

Power knees – 62 —> 70

Power jumps – 15 —> 21

Globe jumps – 5 —> 6

Suicide jumps – 7 —> 14

Push-up jacks – 6 —> 13

Low plank oblique – 25 —> 37

It was a lot easier this time and I had more energy and didn’t get out of breath as much. Maybe it’s a mental thing that made it easier for me this time…some sort of inner determination to make it from start to finish this time.

Needless to say, after the potty training horror that morning/afternoon and an Insanity workout after that, I was BEAT. Luckily, a nice lady on Facebook (whom I don’t know) gave me an early shopping pass to a local consignment market and I was able to finish the day off with some shopping therapy!!!

My haul! He’s got a good start to the fall and got some prizes too. The Cars book with sounds and steering wheel was only $2!!!

Despite the rough morning and afternoon, we both ended the night on a positive note! I got my shopping in and he got to drag race cars on his daddy’s phone, dressed as a superhero! 🙂