Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Hallo-Weenie Weekend!

On Sunday I hosted the first Crazy Cousin Costume Contest & Halloween Party for my children, nieces and nephews. It was supposed to be for thirteen kids total but life happens and it ended up being for eight kids. I was a little bummed out about this at first but I was also very tired from partying late the night before, so it wasn't really such a bad thing. With the help of Evite.com, Pinterest (my new friend) and a family potluck style dinner, the party was a success. We had a blast but I am, admittedly, a little glad to have it behind me. This was just the beginning of the next couple months worth of holidays, gatherings and all the other typical end of year mayhem and shenanigans. One down, many more to go.

This party was for the kiddos using all of the money that they earned at their own lemonade stand in my front yard last July. (To read about that day, click here) The money was used for treats, prizes, decorations and games. They had all been looking forward to it for months. That is why it was a little sad that four of the nephews couldn't attend due to cold and flu season. It happens though and I was able to drive around yesterday and drop off all of their goodies and prizes. They had earned them, literally. I hope it helped cheer them up a bit.

I know that I have mentioned Evite.com before but I am going to do it again, anyway. I love this site! They just make it so easy and I need more easy in my life. Getting to the post office can be most difficult now days. Not to mention how many adorable invitation templates they have to choose from. Here is the invitation that I used this time.

Thanks to Pinterest (Which I only recently discovered...I'm a little behind, I know.) there was tons of ideas to choose from. I created a board dedicated to this party and was able to pick, choose and modify ideas to fit the kids ages and our budget. To see my board click here. I didn't use all of the ideas but there was definitely a lot of inspiration to be had. As guests RSVP'd I emailed pictures of Halloween themed party food for families to make and bring to the potluck. It was quite a handy tool. Here are some pictures of food that everyone brought.

Vegetable Tray Skeleton

Banana Chocolate Chip Ghosts, Clementine & Grape Pumpkins and Mummy Juice Boxes
Fruit and Veggies. Fun and healthy. Inexpensive and easy ways to make a fun kids party. I also made Worm Sandwiches but served the sauce options on the side to help please the kids better. I knew they would not all be crazy about barbecue sauce. I didn't get a picture of mine but here is where I got the idea.

Sliced hot dogs on a bun. How easy! Image from Pinterest
My sister-in-law made awesome cupcakes, too. Eyeballs!

Spice Cake with Cream Cheese frosting. Yum!
I also used some of the ideas from Pinterest for our Halloween games. We did the Dum Dum suckers stuck in a pumpkin. One sucker had a colored end for the prize. Plus the kids were able to keep all of the suckers they pulled out. We also did the toilet paper ghost bowling game. The older kids had less rolls of the ball to make it more fair for the younger children. Here are pictures of where I got the ideas.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest
We also played Pin the Nose on the Ghost using a simple 97 cent door cover and stickers. And then we played a toilet paper mummy making race. Super simple and cheap. I was able to use the toilet paper for two different games.

A little blurry because he was trying to walk. Ha ha!
We ended the party with the much anticipated costume contest. Since some of my nephews could not attend, I decided to have my brother take pictures of his three kids in costume and email them to me so that they could still be included in the contest. I'm glad I did because one of them actually won one of the prizes. We had four winners: Most Original, Funniest, Scariest and Best Costume. Everyone at the party was able to vote and no one was allowed to vote for themselves. It was pretty fun and everyone received votes. Here are pictures of the winners.

Scariest: Werewolf

My daughter happened to win best costume. This was bittersweet. We announced the winners in the order I placed the pictures here. So, as soon as I announced the first winner, my sweet niece, my daughter started to bawl loudly because she didn't win. Ugh! Can you say "poor sport." I, of course, knew that she had won a prize at this time but my initial reaction, in my own head, was that I should not let her get a prize for putting on such an awful display. That was only a fleeting thought because I realized that she was on total overload. It was an hour or so from her bed time and she had been running around all day eating sugary treats and the like. I suppose a meltdown was to be expected. My husband and I did have a good talk with her last night, after a good nights sleep. Hopefully it made an impression. When we finally got to her name and announced her as the winner she immediately stood up with a jaw-dropped-smile and accepted her trophy with gusto, The Golden Owl.

She made up a song about it last night while banging away on the piano (no, she does not know how to play the piano) and kept singing loudly, "I won a trophy!" over and over. My husband and I just looked at each other, shaking our heads with a mix between amusement and concern. I said to him later, "Yup. That will be our daughter. Winning a Grammy someday and being the girl in poor taste who writes a very gloating song about it." We have a little work to do. Ha!

Because all of the kids were so darn cute, here are the rest of them in their costumes.

Creepy Jack-o-lantern Man

Skeleton Reaper

Alien Invader

Like I said...It was a success. I think they all enjoyed themselves. I was dead tired, though. My husband and I had attended a party at a friend's house the night before, on Saturday night. I was designated driver that night. (Next weekend is my turn to drink. Woo hoo!) We got home just before 3:30 AM and the second I stepped foot on the carpet, both babies woke up...of course. So, I had been up all night and then up most of the day cooking food and getting ready. Ah well. All worth it in the end. After everyone was gone and my three little ones were in bed, I sat back in the recliner with a crisp cider beer and fell asleep while watching The Walking Dead. Not a bad night, I must say.

** Also, I am reviewing a delicious popcorn treat that I received in order to taste test it and one lucky reader will win some and a nice new popcorn bowl! Click here to read the review and enter for your chance to win. Contest ends at midnight CST 11/6/2013. Thanks for reading. **

Snickerdoodle Popcorn. What!?!? Stay tuned.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Putting it Out There...

Is a little scary. I am including a video of my attempt today at practicing a song on my guitar while singing. This is a big step for me. Put me in a room with hundreds or thousands of strangers and I can sing without hesitation. Put me in a room, one on one, with my husband or someone else who's opinion of me that I really care about...and I clam up. Silly, I know. One of my many faults that I am slowly working on. This post is one of my baby steps at fixing this.

Music used to be a huge part of my life. There was a time, long ago, where all I pictured for my future was to be a professional musician. Then, life happened and this is one of my Tangerine Dreams that got pushed to the side. For the past many years, a girls night out to a bar for karaoke was one of my only singing outlets. Very fun but definitely not the same thing. I have also had an open invitation to play with my husband and his band(s) over the years. It is hard though, with kids, to find the time and the energy to add even just one more thing, sometimes. To justify paying a sitter so I can go along or even feeling motivated to be creative after all the kids are tucked in and asleep and a long day is behind me. Some think these are silly or even stupid excuses and they are entitled to their opinions. As am I.

After Christmas last year, my husband saw me goofing off on my computer, looking at Ovation acoustic guitars. My personal favorites. When I was ten years old and began taking guitar lessons for the first time, I used my Dad's Ovation to play on until I received my own brand new guitar for Christmas when I was eleven. A Fender Strat, white, I still have it. I love the feel of an Ovation and it also has great memories for me, very nostalgic. I remember, as a small girl, sitting next to my Dad and listening to him play for hours. That is one of my happy places in this life. So, when I started thinking about getting a new guitar, Ovation is where I gravitated to, my comfort zone. As soon as my husband saw what I was doing, he insisted that I get one. I already had my favorite picked out, but I was truly just wishing and window shop drooling for fun. I didn't really think I would get one. His enthusiasm was contagious and we bought it online that night. Her name is "Veda" (the guitar). This is a My Girl movie reference, in case you were wondering, and it just seemed fitting to me.

Isn't she beautiful? And there is Z, on my lap, because he wouldn't leave me alone long enough to try her out. Kinda cute though.

And there is my biggest problem. Finding time, undisturbed, to play, practice, write, memorize, think and make music. My ultimate goal is to learn a handful of songs and play them well enough to show my face at a local open mic night. I have no idea when this will be possible but I'll get there. I have even begun trying to write my own songs again, which I haven't done since, sadly, high school.

This video is a great glimpse into my attempts to practice here and there. The babies are in their highchairs for lunch, which is an opportune time since they would usually be grabbing, smacking and banging toys into my guitar while I try to play. They love it. It is adorable, but really not good for my gorgeous cherry burst finish. DJ is wandering around dancing, trying to talk to me and show me things and then begins banging around the baby gate off screen. Pretty typical. I push through!


(Here is the link to my YouTube video. Having technical issues trying to upload it directly to my blog. Apologies.)

Anyway, there it is. I put it out there. Eek! Just my way of staying on track in order to reach my dream. Taking myself out of my comfort zone and laying it all out there for anyone to see. Hopefully I will get more time to practice and find my way. Thanks for stopping by. You stay classy, San Diego.