James’ 5th Underwater Birthday Party

James’ 5th Underwater Birthday Party

Oh gosh!  I had such fun with this theme!  At first when James said he wanted an under water theme, I thought it might be a little too ‘baby’ for him, seeing that he was now turning five already…  But it turned out pretty cool, I must say.  There is so much one can do with this theme!

As always I used Pinterest to get most of my ideas from, and the first thing that caught my eye was a DIY Treasure chest!  And James LOVES treasure chests!  He likes putting scavenged jewelry into small boxes and calling it his treasure :)  So first thing I made was the treasure chest, out of an old diaper box.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any pics while I was making it because I was too excited and forgot all about taking photos!  I used this tutorial.

DIY Treasure Chest

I bought small little wooden treasure chests, to put inside the big one, for the kids to decorate themselves.  I think they quite enjoyed that!

mini treasure chests
I painted the small treasure chests first
Decorating Treasure Chests
Freshly decorated mini treasure chest

Decorating Treasure Chests
To go with the treasure chest, I made huge paper jewels, to look like some treasure fell out.  I wanted to make lots of coral too, for a coral reef, but ran out of time.  I managed to make a couple though.  The white faux coral was made out of some wire and paper maché (tutorial here) and the blue and orange coral was made using expanding foam and some pipe cleaners (tutorial for that here).

paper diamonds
Huge Paper Jewels
paper diamond
Huge Paper Jewel
faux coral
Faux Coral
Foam Coral
Expanding Foam Coral
Faux Coral
Faux Coral

The other activities we had were Sand Art tables, some water balloon launching (unfortunately I didn’t get any pics of this in action) and some water beads or water crystals with hidden sea creatures.  The water beads ended up being used as bombs and everyone got hit at least a couple of times.  The kids really enjoyed it!  And instead of using the water balloons to shoot the target with the launcher, they ended up bombing the grownups!

Sand Art
Sand Art
Waterbeads
Waterbeads

For the decorations I also made seaweed out of plastic table cloth and jellyfish with Chinese lanterns.  I used this tutorial for the seaweed.

Paper lantern jellyfish
I wanted to give the kids something different for party hats and found some images of crab paper crowns. So I made these from card stock, googly eyes and pipe cleaners.

Crab party hats
Crab party hats

To make the snack table fit in with the theme I made a table wavy cloth with disposable plastic table cloths.  Finding different shades of blue proved to be quite a challenge!  Just glad I found some :)

underwater tablecloth

When it comes to the snacks, I have to mention Tihmily Cakes.  They made the cupcakes, oyster cookies and marshmallow pops for us.  And what an amazing job!!!  Everything was sooo yummy!  I think I’m addicted to those oyster cookies, because I could not stop eating them!

Underwater cupcakes by Tihmily Cakes
Underwater cupcakes by Tihmily Cakes
Underwater party snacks by Tihmily Cakes
Underwater party snacks by Tihmily Cakes
Underwater Party Snacks
Underwater Party Snacks
Underwater Party Snacks

And that’s about it!  Last but not least, a couple of pics of some of the friends having fun :)

Blowing out the candles
Blowing out the candles
Water balloon fun
Water balloon fun
LEGO Party! James’ 4th Birthday

LEGO Party! James’ 4th Birthday

Wow…  This post is so long overdue, it’s not even funny.  With a new little person in the family it’s been hard finding time to just sit down for a couple of minutes, let alone write new posts…

Well then, this year we decided on a LEGO theme for James’ birthday.  Again, it was sooo much fun making all the decorations and planing the morning.  I only have a few pics so long as I’ve not had time to edit all the images (…that is still on my camera).  Will add them ASAP.

LEGO Party Table
A couple of the decorations were ‘recycled’ from previous years like the circle garland from the Mickey Mouse party and the flag bunting from the Circus party.  The big LEGO blocks were made from card-stock – was really easy peasy!  I also made little LEGO block boxes from card-stock that looked really cute which I found here.

Unfortunately my ‘regular’ baker had to close shop, so we used Tessa’s Bakery.  They did an amazing job!!  They also made the LEGO Men head marshmallow pops you see in the background.  They were so tasty!!!  We also had popcorn in LEGO cones.

LEGO Cake
For the water bottles and juice boxes I made paper labels to match the theme.  I also made LEGO Men heads to go on the straws.  Template for that is here.  And for the fruit kebabs I designed some LEGO flags.LEGO Party TableLEGO Fruit Kebabs
I used plain gift bags in different colors for the goody bags and just added raised circles to make them look like LEGO blocks.

LEGO-Goody-Bags
The contents on the bags were a LEGO Boy or LEGO Girl mask, a LEGO coloring book, LEGO Men Crayons and some LEGO off course.  It was a mission to get the crayons to all stand up straight in the bag though…  So I lost the battle and just let them lean which ever way they wanted.

LEGO-Goody-Bags
The LEGO Men Crayons were the most fun to make!  Melting crayons and pouring them into the mold…  The best part was when they were set and ready to take out.

LEGO-Men-Crayons
This is all I have for now.  I will add the other images as soon as editing is done :)

Rocket ship Party – James turned 3!

Rocket ship Party – James turned 3!

So this year the little man picked his own party theme!  I showed him images of different parties themes on the internet and he seemed to love… Rockets!  Immediately my brain was buzzing with all the ideas :)  I couldn’t wait to get started.  But hang on.  Before I start rambling on about unnecessary stuff, check it out for yourselves…

Seeing that I had my mom’s 60th birthday celebration and a friend’s baby shower I had to plan, just a little more than a month before James’ birthday, I had to make the invites basic and quick.  (would’ve loved to make the rocket 3D…)

Rocket ship Invitation
Rocket ship Invitation

Once that was done, organization could commence of all the exciting ideas I had, that was starting to look like Cloud Cuckoo land, in my head.  I saw these jet packs on Pinterest that you make out of empty soda bottles, so I started on them.  Quite simple, really.  But with my tendency to have everything super perfect, it took quite some time to finish them.  I must just mention that Fuse Ice Tea bottles really worked well.  It’s a much sturdier bottle than the normal Coca-Cola or Cream Soda bottle.  So after a lot of spray-painting, hot glue and streamers, this is what I got:

Jetpacks!
Jetpacks!

Just another note on the jet packs.  On most blogs they use duck-tape to hold the two bottles together, but this is quite difficult to achieve if you only have 2 hands and you don’t want any creases in your tape.  So I glued the two bottles together with a hot glue gun and then used insulation tape to round it off.  It’s not as strong as the duck-tape though, but much easier to work with.

Also on Pinterest I saw these rockets made from empty toilet paper rolls.  Again, quite simple to make.  I’ll put up a post soon on how I made these ;)

Toilet paper roll Rockets
Toilet paper roll Rockets

I used Chinese lanterns in different sizes as planets and added cardboard stars, that I found at Merrypak, to hang above the snacks table.  (Our pendant lights above the kitchen counter came in handy to hang the stars from)

Planets and Stars
Planets and Stars

As I mentioned, I sommer used our kitchen counter for the snack table.  We wanted to keep it as healthy as possible with as little sugar as possible.  We ended up with mini blueberry muffins, “Kern Monsters” – tomato, ham and cheese cocktail sticks, “Vrugte Vuurpyle” – strawberry, mango, kiwi and pineapple sticks, “Son Strale” – yellow and red peppers and carrot sticks with a creamy dip, “Ruimte Wesens” – jello with custard, and breakfast cereal that I called “Ringe van Saturnus” and “Sataliet Sonpanele”.  We also had marshmallows and pretzel sticks that was suppose to make constellations, but the marshmallows were too small. …oi!  Unexpectedly the cereal was a great hit!  As was the “Kern Monsters”.  We had very little to clean up at the end :)

Rocket Party Snack Table
Rocket Party Snack Table
Rocket Party Snacks
Rocket Party Snacks

Then of course the cake!  What party would be complete without a cake?  The guys at Frostings did an amazing job!!!  They copied the image from the invite exactly!  Liesl, you are truly amazing! :)

Rocket Ship Cake
Rocket Ship Cake

The marshmallow popcorn balls were also from Frostings.  We called them “Planete” or planets.  To make the drinking cups a bit more interesting I clued on a googly eye.  It instantly gave each cup some personality.

The kiddies tables
The kiddies tables

These two fellows were made from large pom-poms, pipe cleaners and googly eyes.  I had so much fun making them, but didn’t know where I was going to use them, so they ended up as the “table centerpieces”.

Aliens
Aliens

To keep the kids entertained we let them search the garden for “Ruimte Rotse” or space rocks.  We also had a couple of rocket launchers which they could play with and a bunch of balls and balloons to kick and throw around (unfortunately I didn’t get photo’s of these).

Finding Space Rocks
Finding Space Rocks
Party Helium Balloons
Party Balloons

Because there was already so much going on, I decided on having only one craft, for those who wanted to play inside.  Making Straw Rockets:

Make your own Straw Rocket
Make your own Straw Rocket

We even had fireworks and sparkles!

Fireworks!!!
Fireworks!!!
Little Marichelle also dressed up
Little Marichelle also dressed up

These two girls, Danelle and Anneli, wore space suits that their mom made.  So super-cool, don’t you think!?

How awesome do these girls look in their space suits!?
How awesome do these girls look in their space suits!?
Too cute!
Too cute!
Little Chrissie
Little Chrissie
James found all this very serious business
James found all this very serious business

Happy 3rd birthday my little astronaut!

James’ first birthday party – Circus!

James’ first birthday party – Circus!

About a month or two ago it dawned on me that my little boy would soon turn ONE!  So, I started planing my first first birthday party…  which I thoroughly enjoyed from making the invites to decorating the room and making the goody bags for the little people :D

I also made the birthday boy’s party hat and decorations for the room.  I made ‘thank you’ stickers, with a circus theme, for the bubbles that was part of the goody bag contents.


We decorated the room to resemble a circus tent.  Cutting the fabric for this was quite a job!  I also used an old mosquito net and turned it into a small prezzie tent.  To keep the youngsters occupied we had a craft table where they could make their own party hats and animal masks.  We also had little note cards where guests could write to James.  These would be put into a time capsule along with some party paraphernalia and given to him when he’s old enough to appreciate all the messages and advice.


The birthday boy :D

Our First Family Vacation

Our First Family Vacation

To:  James  (if, one day, he would want to read all about his first family vacation)

Ok, so this was going to be our first family vacation!!!  Mommy was so excited, as the last place I slept over was the hospital with your birth about 12 weeks ago.  Everything started feeling so monotonous after almost 3 months of doing the same thing over and over.  We really did need a break from the daily routine.  The destination was Struisbaai, near the most southern tip of Africa.

As this was our first official vacation away with you, I decided to make a list of all the things we needed to take with.  You see, I love making lists and being organized like that.  And because we were going to be away for almost a week, I was a bit nervous about forgetting something important at home.  So, I made the list…  as long as my arm!

The packing went well and early the next morning we would be off as soon as you had your first feeding.  You slept well the previous evening – just over 6 hours :)  At about 07h30 we got into the car which could take no more bags, changing mats, night lights or infant bath seats.  Just enough space was left for the vacationers.  Just like the vehicle, everyone was brimming, but with excitement, especially me!  It felt like years (not just 3 months) since I got out of the house.  The highway was full of motionless vehicles trying to get their passengers to work and on our side of the road it was as empty as the Sahara desert.  Once out of the city, we passed beautiful landscapes.  Like those in movies or fairy tales.  The early morning mist was still asleep between neon-green hills and the mountains in the distance was majestically blue with wisdom.  Mom and Dad started to get hungry after a while, so we all had some breakfast at Caledon – including you ;)  After what seemed like only a short drive from Caledon, we arrived at Struisbaai that early afternoon.


The first day was not very eventful and you didn’t sleep very well that night.  You had your second set of injections the day before we left for the vacation and obviously it unsettled you a bit.  The second day we took a nice long walk along the beach from the harbour to the restaurant.  The sea was calm and the sky so blue.  Late afternoon Dad went with Uncle Wouter (from Holland) to go do some fishing.  They both caught sharks and threw them back.  Unfortunately it was after sunset and too dark to take a photo… so they say…  In the evening before dinner we played some ‘Sjoelen’ – a dutch board game.  I didn’t do too badly for my first game and it was lots of fun!

The new surroundings were refreshing but I got a bit frustrated during your nappy changing sessions because we had no changer to put you on.  Which meant we had to do it on the bed.  Probably the lowest bed ever!  My back and shins were a wreck but we still had fun!  Bath time was another challenge.  We didn’t have space to take your baby bath with, so we had to compromise with just the bath seat.  Don’t know how much actual cleansing got done, but at least you got wet.

You slept much better during the second night, so, we felt very refreshed the following morning.  Grandma took you for a walk to the harbour and restaurant, and Mom and Dad went for a drive round the coast looking at all the holiday homes and beautiful beaches.  We had a quick snack in the lighthouse restaurant at Agulhas and Dad went fishing again in the late afternoon.  While Dad was out fishing, it was feeding time for you and afterwards we had a nice long afternoon nap.  At dinner time we had to take turns to keep you entertained and happy because for some strange reason you don’t want the person holding you to sit down!

The rest of our time there went by really fast.  We enjoyed the sun on the stoep during the day and played games at night in front of the fire.  Took walks around the neighbourhood with you and most importantly had lazy days and long naps.  It was a lovely break, but Mom was glad to be back home, surrounded by all the ‘creature-comforts’  :)

20 paces

20 paces

As I mentioned before, we have a 10 week old son, James.  It’s amazing how a person can grow to love something so small in such a short time!  He’s our first, so naturally I have no clue what to expect or how to interpret his language.  It’s a sort of ‘pay/learn as you go’ relationship and every day there’s something new.

In any case, the other day I decided to take him for a walk around the block for the very first time.  Me and him. Alone.  It was very daunting as I was not yet fully confident in using the pram, or as they call it, the ‘travel system’.  So, I got James into the car seat, tucked him in nice and cozy and put him in the pram.  All wide-eyed and happy we took on the road.  Off we went, down the road on a nice sunny afternoon.  I enjoyed the fresh air and James was content.

Around the second corner I started wondering if all the barking dogs won’t upset little James, but he was quiet and looked ok.  So, I carried on.  We passed all the neighbours’ lovely gardens with birds singing to us as we went.  Then, exactly half way around the block, James started to become restless and figity which broke into a full on crying session due to my lack of understanding my little one’s signals.  Embarrassed by everyone staring at us as we passed, I started walking faster and every 5 steps stoped to try to calm the screaming little human.  After realizing that this has gone to far and I need to take him out of his ‘travel system’, I walked back home as fast as my short little legs could go.  Passing more barking dogs and staring people, I wanted to stick my head under James’ blankie but with all the noise going on in and around the pram, I don’t think it would’ve mattered.  The crying and the barking just seemed to escalate until finally we went around the last corner and the end was in sight!  On the home stretch the barking ceased but the little one kept on crying!

Still I walked as fast as I could.  Almost running!  Then all of a sudden, 20 paces from our driveway, there was silence!  I didn’t want to push my luck, so I carried on with the frantic walking.  Finally we raced up the driveway and in through the garage.  Sweat was dripping and legs jelly as I came to a halt. Totally exhausted (from being so unfit!) I lifted one end of James’ blankie to see if he was still ok…  Fast asleep!!  As if nothing EVER made him cry.  Angel-faced and completely still.

After this ordeal I’m hesitant to go walking with him, alone, again!  I still haven’t figured out what caused the frantic crying…  Maybe he just wanted to go faster…?